Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy New Year

I left my internet connection in Columbus and my heart in San Francisco

I am back. I took a break. A few days without even checking e-mail, taking cell phone calls or texts, and I managed to escape modern technology in a weekend jaunt to San Francisco. Ahhhh the Golden Gate and all its' glory, so urban and cultural- if money were not a factor, and I had an unlimited resource of funds, this could be my home. The trip was fabulous- filled with friends, foodie indulgences and fine wine. Leaving my internet connection was easy, leaving the kids was not. I missed them terribly and I called home everytime I was pained with guilt or just needed a fix for my aching heart.

San Francisco is surreal. You should try to visualize the beautiful Benzes and bright colored Bentleys parked along the streets that lead to some of the most expensive real estate on the West Coast. As I crested the top of Nob Hill and rounded the corner to the stately Fairmont Hotel I could see why people pay the big bucks to live here. The Fairmont San Francisco-Nob Hill is the daddy of all luxury hotels and I was about to spend the weekend holed up in my suite with my husband- alone-with a large corner jacuzzi tub, Sferra sheets, flat screen tv and gourmet room service. At check in the staff delivered a tray of goodies to my room. A artisan cheese molded with edible flowers, a fig tart, a fresh nectarine and a chilled bottle of water. The Sferra cashmere throw was gingerly laying across the featherbed topped with piles of silky white sheets. Oh and the scene from our huge window breathtaking! Ahhhh, I was jazzed and ready to partake of the finer things in life for a few days but the irony of it all left me unable to truly enjoy it.

I was so saddened by San Francisco's obvious homeless population. It is difficult to describe the tug at my heartstrings when I saw grungy women and their filthy children huddled up in a doorway, or a guy pushing his precious belongings in a shopping cart. I am not able to look at those situations and just go about my business. It seems wrong on so many levels. You can't even imagine the incredible differences in society until you are about to snuggle safe and sound in a $599 a night suite right across the park from people sleeping under benches. I saw a fresh, hot steaming, human turd under a stop sign and near a vagrant who was puking on himself. His vomit was flowing down the hill towards Mason Street and I had to step over the stream of hurl to cross at California Street. Once inside the hotel I could not get those images out of my head. How could I order the crazy expensive room service after hopping over a puke river on the sidewalk? Call me crazy but the cultural differences were too much for me to deal with on what was supposed to be my relaxing and rejuvination time. Reality Check? Ugh, yeah, you could say that. Here is a perfect example: A small bottle of Evian water on top of the dresser is $10 plus tax.
The room service menu (double click the photo image to enlarge the detail) shows the outrageous prices for breakfast and beverages, but wait, don't forget to read the small print: add $3.50 per person for delivery, 8.75% Sales tax, and a service fee of 20%- not including the tip to the hard working individual that schleps the fare to the suite. By my calculations a basic morning meal sets you back a minimum of $40. Hard to swallow (literally) don't you think?

I had planned on writing a witty and rave review of my stay at the Fairmont- you know one of those elite and sassy travel blurbs with plenty of name dropping and snobby escapades, the kind of blog entry that makes you jealous and ready to jet set yourself to the named destination. I even asked a fellow tourist to snap a pic of me in front of Loehmann's! My blog aka, travel journal on-line has to mention the good with the bad so I feel an obligation to discuss the surreal experience that is San Francisco. The city's highlights were overshadowed by the lowlights and sadly, I find it difficult to reflect on the original concept of making you green with envy- even if I did see 3 ply, TSE twin sets for less than a c-note.

I did take quite a few amazing photos. I wanted to document all the granduer of my stay in the Nob Hill area and my time at Grace Cathedral with my long time pal, Charles. We spent time laughing and touring this house of worship which is his pride and joy. He gave Jeff and I the backstage tour
filled with historical information, and special stories, and we even got to hike up the bell tower
just before the chimes for 3:00. All the stained glass and architectural beauty is nothing compared to the setting of Grace Cathedral. The view is unbelievable- the park across the street,the Bay filled with boats in the distance, and the rooptop Gardens on the prime real estate were spectacular. My little digital camera tried capture the real beauty of the city from way up high. San Francisco looks like a paradise from a far. But up close, on the faces of the homeless, not so much.

I left my internet connection at home and I loved being disconnected for a bit, but my heart stayed in San Francisco. I guess the lyrics to the famous song ring true for me- I did leave my heart in San Francisco- but when I got back to town and saw my kids snuggled in their beds it did not matter. Home is where the heart is and I am glad to be home again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Anniversary- a long overdue post for Jeff Slutsky

I have been trying to find time to put words on paper- or in this case, type on page to praise the wonderful man I married. Just for the record, he snagged me, but I gladly married him just over 6 years ago none the less.There are other mommie blogs out there that bitch and moan about the daddy figure, and I can assure you this is not one of them.

Jeff Slutsky is a saint. He puts up with my antics, hair-brained schemes and general mishigas. I am not sure I could have ever found someone more perfect for me. Since I was a personal shopper for Nordstrom, he trusts and lovingly accepts my fashion advice. He is often so stylish and trendy that people wonder if he is gay. I love pink and green and everything that is that Lilly Pulitzer Palm Beach lifestyle. How many guys do you know that would wear this shirt? Don't worry, he still refuses to wear a sweater thrown around his shoulders like a true preppy, but gimme a few more years with him- he will get there. Jeff defines the word metrosexual and that is a bonus to me. Metrosexuals are cool- they are a microtrend and I am proud to have cultivated such perfection. Jeff wears and knows the difference between a daytime and an evening fragrance, he walks curbside, he opens doors like a gentleman and wears coordinating designer accessories. He is my partner in crime when we arrive at Neiman Marcus Last Call. I doubt very seriously that too many other straight guys can recite the labels that make me swoon. Although shopping and designer couture is not foreplay for him, he understands that it makes me weak in the knees. Let me publicly "OUT" him as the next best thing to a gay boyfriend. That is the highest compliment coming from a fashionista.

Here is a list of the little and not so little things he does to make my life easier:

Prepares kiddie breakfast daily
Empties Garbage
Sorts Recycling
Stocks Toilet Paper and changes rolls
Fills cars with Gas (except when it is free at Giant Eagle- then I do it)
Sweeps playroom floor before bed
Buys an inventory of light bulbs and changes them when needed
Fills the postage meter
Replaces the towels in the master bath
Gets up with crying babies during the night
Lets Charlotte snuggle between us- ummmm, delicious
Squee-gees the shower
Glam Mommie Girls Night out
Set up and manages the 529's

And yet this man still finds time to play with kids, compliment the mommie, and run a successful business. I admit that there are times when my patience is tested- I may snap to judge or not appreciate his warped and often cerebral sense of humor, but I always overlook the minor annoying traits because the good outweighs the bad in every instance.

Thank you to my wonderful husband- you have made me a very happy wife for 6 years and I love you.

xoxo-
the Queen


p.s.- I hope that all your ex-girlfriends see this post.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shout out for some Funky Mama Music & other KC favorites

There are some very specific shout outs that are completely blog worthy. The 50,000 word slide show from the trip does not do the activities and events justice, so in this additional post I want to personally recognize a few brilliant moments from our impromptu little trip.
My kids are now officially FUNKY MAMA Groupies!



We attended a small gathering style concert and the kids LOVED her- the best part was that our Aunt Nat bought us the newest CD called Moo Juice and now it is getting requested as soon as I start the van. FUNKY MAMA please! And if I do not promptly start the tunes, there is a louder and eventually louder demand for Funky Mama. What they are really trying to say is, "Play that Funky Mama Music White Woman!" The kids have got an opinion and their own unique taste in all things food and music, so here is your shout out for that funky mama music!

Waldo Pizza is now CJ's absolute "faborite". One bite of their Gluten Free pizza and the kid was hooked.


He was grinning from ear to ear and just beaming with pride as he proceeded to cram and enjoy 3 "dah-wish-us" slices before we placed the gluten free chocolate cupcakes on the table. The sheer look of joy was reason enough to make the trip more often, just for the amazing gluten free hot pizza and sweet treats.

Deanna Rose Farmstead is a kid hot spot in Overland Park, Kansas. Located right in heart of Cousin Lillian's hood, this place is heaven for toddlers and children.




Hands on fun with a farm theme- does it get any better than that? The kids could go there everyday and not be bored. The animal petting zoo, tractor rides, and playground excitement were a big time winner. I took way too many photos, in the attempt at the perfect kodak moment we all had a blast.

We also had a picnic lunch at Lilly Bee's posh preschool. It is the Kansas equivalent to Temple Beth Chanel and weather was perfect for dining alfresco on the snazzy playground.



If we ever moved to Kansas City, this is where my kids would go for sure....look at this outdoor amusement park. The place is a like Jew-a-palooza for children.

So in addition to seeing Grandma and a few friends we managed to cram a ton of stops along the way- it is hard to believe that Jeff and I were married 6 years ago. We work fast and we always manage to shout out for those who are in the know, and we Know! So sing along with me (and that funky mama)- Grandma's house is where it is at!

A picture says a 1000 words

If a picture really says a 1000 words, than here are 50,000 words for your enjoyment. I want to add captions and detail the entire weekend in Kansas City but I am playing catch up today and can't spend the time necessary to document it all. These photos will give you a quick glimpse at our fun, and I will edit the show tonight after we get home from Costco, Trader Joes and Whole foods, while tiny people are sleeping. Stay tuned!
xoxo=
The Queen

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to NORMAL???

We are back in Columbus and we are trying to dig back to normal....whatever that is? I just spent the morning tossing hundreds of dollars of food into the garbage and now I am doing a weeks worth of laundry while thinking about all the other tasks ready to be tackled. Update blog with all the AMAZING photos from the trip, laundry, mail, grocery store, and check email. Did I mention that before I can do any laundry I have to deal with the moldy clothes that were trapped inside the washer when the electricity went kaput. I know that the affects of this storm were minor to my family, I am grateful to have had the chance to go back to KC at the spur of the moment, and I am looking forward to getting back to my persobal normal.

Stay tuned for an awesome slideshow of the pics taken this past week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Powerless to Nature

The wrath of hurricane Ike hit Columbus and the winds affected the powerlines to our home. The electricity went out on Saturday around noon, and by Sunday night we had lost all the freezer and fridge food, no a/c, no lights, no fans, no washer and dryer ...no tv. BLAH!

By Monday morning Jeff said, if the power is not on by tonight, let's pack up and drive to KC. We can stay with your parents and sister and make something good from this. GENIUS. I report now via Nat and Rachelle's desktop, we made it. We drove all night on Monday and schlepped all the kids with us in the van. The drive would have been torture but since the kids were buckled up and it was night, they slept and they were fully rested and raring to go when we hit Nana and Papa's for breakfast yesterday. Jeff and I - not so much.

It is nice to be here but I just dread going back to the chaos and mess. I know that everything in our freezer will be melted and disgustingly ripe. I also will be sad to throw out all my hard work of batch cooking, and bargain shopping finds. The bottom line is this: no one was physically hurt and it is just a nuisance. The bright side is that we will be in KC for the Plaza Art Fair and our wedding anniversary. Stay tuned for all the cousin photo opps and stories of the KC road trip 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seeing everything through their eyes

This weekend we crammed just about as much activity as we could into our days. We even took the crew to see Mitchell play Varsity football on Friday Night. I decided that evening to try to see everything from the kids' perspective. I wanted to view and learn what they were seeing, so just for fun I spent the weekend documenting the backs of their heads so to speak. I was down at their vantage point, shooting photos of them and through the lens of my camera I was seeing life through their eyes.

At the game they were proudly cheering for #6, their big brother. They loved being part of the action! Go Vikes, Go Mitchell, Move those Chains! They were able to yell, stomp, ring cowbells and just get crazy- way into the dark night.
It helped that Academy was trampling the other team and there was plenty of action.

We spent all morning at the zoo today. The kids can't get enough of anything science and nature related. They soak it all in at every visit. Thanks to our animal rescuer pal, Diego, they know a lot of information about some obscure creatures.
The reptile exhibit was an all around favorite today. The snakes and turtles are right at toddler level and the windows are just big enough for them to get right up close and personal with their animal friends.

They all took turns petting the snake on display in the touch and feel window. I thought they would be frightened but they have no fear.

The turtles put on quite a show!


I believe we were witnessing some mating and reproduction moments. I thought they should have gotten a private room for some intimacy but nahhhh, they were just doin it turtle style right there in front of everyone. Eli said, awe that is cute- look mommie- those turtles are hugging. I sweetly replied, Yes Eli, you are correct, they are in love. We just left it at that and walked away while the other older kids were figuring out that hugging equals turtle sex.

As usual our four car choo choo wagon was a spectacle all on its own. People just can't seem to keep their thoughts to themselves when they see it. Today was no exception and I kept thinking about a tee shirt that our friend Larry Winget used to sell. The front of the shirt said, IT IS NOT THE HEAT, IT IS THE STUPIDITY. True words my friends. I was only mildly annoyed today when I overheard some idiot sporting a long ass mullet, and some nasty 1980's jean shorts. As he was pointing at our kids, he loudly yells- Look at that train of 4 rug rats, wonder how many beers their daddy drinks everynight? WTF? NICE! Really clever. The thing is, I was only mildly annoyed because I chose to see it from the eyes of my children, not the ears. And when I looked back at him to get a picture of him, I could not help but laugh out loud. Perhaps it was the toddler wisdom I learned or maybe it was just his killer mullet. Regardless, I had fun seeing it all through their eyes!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eli helps us all breathe easier

Ahhhhh- the good stories I will be able to tell these kids when they grow up:

I went upstairs to get CJ after his nap. Eli and Natalie were already awake and downstairs. I left them "unsupervised" in the gated family room for no more than 45 seconds. It takes me longer to use the bathroom, which is too much information, I know, I know! But seriously, in those short 45 seconds Eli was up to no good.

When I returned to the family room I was overwhelmed by the scent of VICKS vapor rub. It was so strong it actually started to make my eyes water and my nose run. Scanning the room quickly, I was able to pinpoint the source of the odor.... Eli. Covered head to toe in the Menthol Balm.

In an instant my mind flashed back to the Saturday Night Live skit at the Lupner's house- if you are old enough to recall SNL when it was funny you may remember Jane Curtin and Dan Ackroyd playing the nasally and nerdy couple. While he is nuzzling her he says, Awe Lisa, What is that fragrance you are wearing? Ahhhh, Todd, it is Vicks Vaporub. And they snort and laugh about it. There was little laughing in my family room, mostly just tears from the fumes.

My boy, Eli- the monkey- climbed up 3 shelves on the bookshelf, snagged the humongous Costco sized jar, opened it, schmeared the grease all over himself, and was completed coated in 45 seconds. All 6 ounces were used!
I should have been pissed that he was naughty but it was difficult for me to be truly mad, okay I was mildly peaved- annoyed- and inconvienced. In a sense I was kind of proud that he was physcially able to pull off such a stunt with supreme speed and agility. This preemie was "gross motor delayed" a year ago and despite all his antics, this episode took some skills. He climbed up the shelf like a ring-tailed lemur and got the jar, unscrewed the cap, and applied it all over himself. Skills I tell you. Skills!

I quickly discovered that being dipped in Vicks was pretty much punishment enough. It was nasty. He was burning from head to toe and did not like it at all. I stopped to take pictures of him only because he was so shiny. I am sure the smell will trigger the memories for him in the future, and I want to be able to show his therapist where this adversion to Vicks comes from... Just my keen parenting sense in action, right?

After all is said and done Eli and I had the talk about danger and getting into things that do not belong to him. I have a hunch none of my blabbering got through to him. I just took a deep breath (it was easily done) and proceeded to bathe him with Dawn dishwashing liquid- the grease cutter! Thanks Eli, for making my glamourous mommie days so breathtaking.

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