Saturday, May 29, 2010

Palau, The First Full Day (updated with new pics)

Someone in the airport (which was very small and open aired, no A/C, and floors painted red to hide betelnut spit) overheard us discussing the fact that we were cheap savvy travelers and not willing to pay the high price for the hotel shuttle and therefore were in search of a cheaper alternative a more authentic mode of transportation, something that would add a little bit of local flavor to our trip from the airport to our hotel.  That someone said, "You need taxi?  Follow me."  He beckoned to another man and said, "Go with him."  And we did, although flashbacks of the tour Don and I took in a scary taxi on our honeymoon in St. Lucia came flashing back.  I felt better when I saw our luggage being loaded into the hotel's van while we waited for our driver to arrive with his car.  All of a sudden an older (let's say early 90s), kind of beat up looking equivalent to a Corolla rolled by and we jokingly said, "wouldn't that be funny if that was our taxi?"  As the words floated in the air, out popped the driver to grab our remaining bags and inform us that yes, he was in fact our driver.  We got in the car and noticed that the steering wheel was on the "wrong" side of the car even though we were driving on the "right" side of the road.  Because it was dark out, I didn't notice that cardboard was duct taped over half of the windshield, but since our driver, Terry, was part of the police force I guess it was street legal.  Terry dropped us off at our hotel and charged us quite a bit less than the hotel would have.

From the minute we stepped into the hotel (Palau Royal Resort, offers GREAT military discounts), I was impressed.  There were a number of staff members to greet us upon arrival, from the time we arrived until we left, if we ever showed up with a bag or package someone met us and whisked it upstairs to our room (I really enjoy not having to carry things on my vacation). the lobby was open aired and surrounded by water.  We were shown to our room and although it was dark, we could tell that we had a nice view of the pool and the pond near the lobby.  We did a little exploring around the hotel, bought some bottled water since we couldn't drink the water and called it a night.  We settled down to sleep in our hard, single Japanese beds, but I don't mind a firm mattress and the bed seemed wider than the twin bed I had in college, and I had NO problem falling asleep.

We woke up the next morning and realized this was our view...
this pic came from a website, but I can't remember which one :(

this is the saltwater pond that surrounded the lobby

The harbor, the pool and the saltwater pond that surrounded the lobby.  And then we noticed the sea turtles, rays, sea cucumbers and other animals swimming around the pond.  It was so relaxing to sit on our balcony and watch them swim around without a care in the world.  Truly an amazing way to wake up each morning.

two of the turtles at feeding time

Another un-Terrell like thing about this trip was I made no plans (except to go), I had no agenda, and was totally willing to let the others be the tour guides.  The three of us decided early on, like as the plane was somewhere over the Pacific, that this trip was to be relaxing and we could do or not do what ever we wanted.  And I decided to embrace that, let them make the plans and then I would decide if I wanted to partake or not.  It wasn't even hard for me to be this way.  I think I was so thankful to only have to worry about myself, my well-being that I easily just went with the flow.  This trip taught me that as long as you don't drown in the tide, going with the flow can sometimes, actually, be a good way to do things...

Anyway, bright and early Thursday morning we walked across the street to Sam's Tours (which would become our home away from home away from home).
the harbor at Sam's

the "interior" at Sam's
I have never, in my life seen a more efficient, more customer oriented, more happy to be there business in my life.  I cannot recommend them enough!  Within minutes of arriving with no notice of us showing up, they had us booked on snorkel/dive trips, arranged a rental car, and made us feel welcome.  After giving it some thought, I decided I really wasn't up for being on a boat all day and I just really needed, wanted, craved some time alone.  So, I went back to the hotel and plopped my butt in a chair by the pool and sat there.  All day.  For almost 8 straight hours...  At first, when the realization struck that I was all alone, in a foreign country, where no one knew me or who I was traveling with I had a little bit of an anxiety attack.  How was I ever going to spend 8 hours all alone?  The next thing I knew, it was almost time for the girls to be back from their dive, and I needed to head upstairs to change and meet them.  I literally sat and read, and when I got tired, I took little cat naps.  The cabana boys kept bringing me fresh towels and chair cushions (my day was only interrupted by little rain showers).  By the time we were supposed to meet up, I already felt like a new woman.  No one had asked me to do anything all day, and as much as I love Price and Don, I didn't have to give anything to them.  I just got to be.

That night, we went to dinner at Kramer's.
Impossible to not be charmed by a place with menus woven out of palm fronds

The food was great, but we got there at 5 and the kitchen didn't open until 6:30.  By the time our food arrived, we were feeling happy and HUNGRY!!
This was our view (and my beer) while waiting for dinner, so nothing to complain about!

Of course, I spent the entire trip trying to bat down my internal Charlotte York McDougal Goldenblatt (had to throw in the SATC reference) and convince myself to eat food that may or may not have come into contact with the water we weren't supposed to drink- being married to a public health guy can have it's disadvantages. My hunger always won out though and this was just the first of several good meals to come.

*So, I took a camera without a memory card on this vacation- dumb!!!  But I was able to take a view pis that were stored on my camera's internal memory and I was able to download them tonight.  I apologize if you're re-reading this post, but hopefully the new pics of things I ACTUALLY took pictures of myself make it worth it.


Ok, I FINALLY have pictures from my trip to Palau, or as I like to refer to it- Pa-WOW!!

I got the pictures tonight when I got together with my two PFF (Palau Friends Forever) for drinks and appetizers.  I almost didn't go tonight due to being late getting home from Don's SCUBA class (that's another topic for another day), but I am so glad that I did.  It was nice to catch up with the girls and now, I must admit, am writing this through winey-goggles...  But oh that wine tasted so good.  But on to Palau....

As several of you know, there is a little island off the coast of Alabama, that holds a very special place in my heart.  It is a place that no matter what my life was like when I arrived, I always left feeling centered and refreshed and relaxed.  As much as I love Guam and feel blessed to have a beach at my disposal, I really haven't been able to truly relax at the beach since arriving thanks to my little man and his penchant for putting seashells in his mouth, running into the water without warning, or wandering into the jungle on a whim.  (Wow, tipsy typing is really, really difficult.... thank God for spell check).  So when a friend asked me to join her and another gal for a girls' weekend in Palau, I immediately told her, "Don't ask me if you're just being nice, because I need a break and will do everything in my power will see if I can work it out and go."  Of course she asked me when I was a few glasses into a bottle of wine and Don was away in the land of plenty while I was stuck at home with a sick kid, and I wanted to be pretty much anywhere other than where I was at that particular moment.  So, in a very un-Terrell like manner, I worked it out with Don, bought my tickets and and knew I'd be heading to Palau in a few months.

Fast forward a few months and there I was, with tickets and plans to head to Palau without my husband or child, and with two people I didn't know as well as I would normally expect to know someone I was traveling to another country with (one of whom I didn't know AT ALL).  My brain was almost convinced the whole thing wasn't real, but then May 12 arrived and I was packed and my two travel companions knocked on my door and whisked me off to the airport.  I tried hard to keep the tears in check as I left Price (for the longest I had ever left him, wondering how I thought I was going to make it 5 days when I really couldn't remember a time I had left him for more than 5 hours. I'm pretty sure all of those thoughts that so consumed my brain are the reason I couldn't remember to make sure my camera had its memory card and was unable to to take my own pictures of this trip).

Several hours later, we arrived in Palau.  It was dark.  We were greeted by Customs.  I got my first stamp in my passport.  We smuggled somehow felt it was necessary to each bring a a 5 liter BOX of wine with us- yes, that would be 15 liters for 3 people for 4 days. AKA known as- a pretty impossible task.  Although one of us did get stopped at Customs, they let us through.  And we found a taxi.  It was here that our adventure truly started....

Friday, May 21, 2010

Coming Soon....

Ok, ok... I know I've now been home from one of the most AMAZING TRIPS. EVER!!  For almost 5 days.  I have a lot to write about it, but in typical me fashion, I went on the trip without a memory card in my camera... So, I'm waiting on pics from my travel buddies so I can delight you with both words and images...  I'm only writing this now because I am totally suffering from writer's block on another project and hoped this would help open the gates.  Still not working...

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Have a Happy Mother's Day.... This One Is For the Guys

Dear Baby Daddies....

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  I am sure that many, many of you celebrated this special day in fine style.  I am also sure that some of you may have perhaps dropped the basket of flowers intended for the mother of your offspring, the one who spent countless hours, in labor, denied food and water while she writhed in pain pushing out your beautiful child the ball a bit.  I would like to offer you a few words of advice on how to avoid any future mama drama in years to come...

1.  Mother's Day is ALWAYS the SECOND Sunday in May.  Every year.  Now you know.  It won't sneak up on you, even if you miss all the Hallmark commercials or all of the Mother's Day Sales flyers from Macy's, JC Penney, Kmart and I am sure maybe even Target (although since we don't have a Target here in Guam, I really don't care too much about that....)

2. I know, you may think that since your baby mama isn't you actual mother, you really don't have to do anything special for her.  However, unless your child is old enough to drive him/herself to the store and pick out a card or gift, it's up to you to take care of it.  If doing this really bothers you, think of it like this- by honoring the one who carried around your legacy for nine ten months, you are also honoring YOUR mother-   the wonderful woman who gave birth to you, helped you survive infancy and then didn't kill you for being a punk ass when you were a teenager.  You are showing her that she raised you right.  Unless, and I quote (from Alix at Casa Hice), you came from one of those mothers  "who were total bitches and for whom Hallmark still doesn't make appropriate cards." (is it wrong to wish I had come up with that line on my very own??)  You're still showing her that you turned out ok in spite of her crazy bitchiness.

3.  Even if the woman you are trying to honor can be a tad bit picky and maybe even has grandiose ideas about how the day should play out because she has maybe watched one too many chick flicks in her lifetime, she really just wants you to make an effort.

4. Don't ask her where she wants to go or what she wants to do (unless she is a complete control freak who will only be happy making the plans herself).  Sometimes, moms just want a day off.  A day where she is put above everyone else.   A day where decisions are made for her.  A day where she's not in charge of a schedule or a plan.  Sure, you may want a day like that too.  Just wait, you have such a day coming up next month.

5.If you do ask her where she wants to go and she has no suggestions, that doesn't mean give up.

6. Waiting until the night before to try to get reservations on the busiest day of the year is not a good idea. (See number 1).

7. Make sure you have a solid plan B in case you can't get reservations, anywhere.  Be understanding that dinner isn't really a good plan B.

8.  Breakfast in bed is usually a good plan B.  Unless, breakfast is served while it is still dark out, the dog who needs to pee is still in the room with the intended recipient, causing recipient to get out of bed and let dog out and notice that child's overnight diaper still needs to be changed.

9. Maybe a picnic would be a better plan B.

10.  If you have NOT gifted your baby mama with an exciting upcoming child free weekend at a luxury resort on a small tropical island, you should also gift your wife with something nice.  Something that will make her feel pampered, loved, appreciated.

11.  However, if you are awesome, like my husband, and have taken three days off work so that your baby mama can get away for a much needed break, you just need to pay attention and follow steps 1-9.  And even if you don't get through those so well, you should know that your baby mama loves and appreciates you anyway and hopes you'll read these tips so next year can be perfect-ish.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Bond of Motherhood

I have a very dear friend who, after the birth of her second child, commented to me that she felt like she bonded with the second baby more quickly than she had with the first. And I remember thinking to my (at that time) childless self- how do you not instantly bond with your baby?  And then I had Price.

I loved Price from the minute he was born, but I was afraid of him- or more afraid of how I was supposed to mother him.  The first night we were in the hospital trying to get him to eat.  I was crying, you know being all jacked up on hormones, having a baby who wanted to sleep more than eat, and recovering from being in labor for 48 hours will do that to a girl- make her cry...  And he was swaddled.  He had been on this planet, in my presence for more than 7 hours and I hadn't bothered to look at his legs, his feet or his toes.  I just took Don's word for it that all 10 of his toes were there.  I was sitting on the bed when I unwrapped him, and I remember very clearly thinking, "Oh yeah, you can look at him, he's yours, you don't have to get permission from anyone to unwrap him."  Such a simple thing as looking at my own son's newborn body was huge to me.  But looking at him unwrapped, he was so much smaller than I thought he would be, he had long, skinny legs.  He was so fragile and I was so afraid that I was going to break him.  And yet, somehow without any kind of background check or test of our knowledge on raising a kid, they kept us a few days, made sure we had a proper car seat, gave us an intimidating list of things that could happen to the baby in the next few months and sent us on our merry way.

And then we got home and settled into the routine of having no routine and living in ordered chaos.  And since Price still didn't like to eat and only wanted to sleep, I became obsessed with reading about feeding methods, charting every ounce of formula ingested, every wet or poopy diaper produced.  My days seemed to revolve around pumping, making bottles, and pretty much turning into a sleep deprived zombie.  I was so keyed up on getting him to eat, I couldn't enjoy those early feedings because I would cry the whole time- I was sure I was either starving (trying to breast feed him) or poison him (when giving him formula from a bottle).  I let Don do a lot of the things I think most moms do- like bathe him, change him, swaddle him. Don was leaving in a mere six weeks and I wanted Price to bond with him so badly before he left, that I just kind of checked out unless I was trying to feed him.

And as much as I loved him, he made me tired.  He confused me.  He disrupted my life.  He made me scared to go to Target without an escort- I mean if I was there with just him, what would I do when the inevitable meltdown occurred and I had to rush out of the store with a screaming baby and a cart full of unpaid for items?  And there were days I questioned why had we wanted to do this so badly.

And then one day, he smiled and he quit melting down as often and I began to figure out how to soothe a meltdown.  I realized that he wasn't as breakable as I had built him up to be.  He and I figured out a good feeding routine.  And the love turned into like and the bond that was there from the beginning began to feel real.  And it grows stronger every day.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Have you ever been in a situation where you said something that wasn't mean, wasn't rude, wasn't sarcastic, snippy or had any other negative connotation but the minute you said it, you knew it was the wrong thing to say at that exact moment?  That as the words floated through the air you wanted to die or hide or run out of the room because the seemingly innocent words that just flowed forth as a pleasantry may have really hurt someone who was within ear shot?  Have you driven home on the verge of tears feeling like the biggest inconsiderate ass in the world?  Wanting nothing more than to crawl into a bag of Oreos and a pitcher of mojitos a bottle of wine?  I have very, very recently....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recall- Updated

Since my husband is in the military, I am used to recalls.  We have them fairly often.  Basically, a military recall is just a way to get everyone in a unit to check in.  I'm even kind of used to product recalls and stay on top of them, being a mom makes me alert like that.  Luckily, most recalls- even the military ones, except the middle of the night wake up calls we get way too often.- don't usually affect me.  They may hit close to home- a brand of stroller I thought about purchasing, a crib I initially wanted but then my frugality kicked in I saw one I liked better at Target, dog food that is too fancy to feed my pooch.  But this weekend, a major recall of pretty much ALL Children's Tylenol products, several Children's Benadryl products, Children's Motrin and Children's Zyrtec.  So being the ever diligent mom that I am went through the ol medicine cabinet and found that I have not 1, not 2, but THREE bottles of Children's Tylenol that are recalled plus one thing of Children's Benadryl.

Am I wrong to be really frustrated by this?  The fact that I have three bottles of Tylenol, means that this problem has been going on for some time now. At least one of my bottles was purchased before we moved to Guam, LAST AUGUST !!! Why so many bottles of Tylenol you ask? It's one of those things I hoard stock up on in case they run out, which is now guaranteed since I am sure they've pulled all of the bottles and who knows when a new stock will arrive.  This is GREAT news for the molars that are about to erupt and the fevers that are sure to follow.

I mean I am glad someone was kind of paying attention since they eventually stepped in and made the company pull it's crap off the shelves, but my trust in one of my most trusted brands has really gone down...

Anyway, fellow parents who use Tylenol (and aren't stuck on a tiny island with limited access to generic acetaminophen)- check your labels.  For more info on the recall:

On a lighter note, although my son has been in bed for over an hour, he is laughing hysterically at something.  I think he has imaginary friends or something.  I wish I had a tape recorder so you could hear him laughing and singing....  I think he forgets that in bed with the lights out equals sleep...

So, as I was doing my late night, trying to fall asleep blog catching up I found out that Price's crib has also been recalled!  GREAT!  I've been waiting for that to happen.  I mean really, what's going on?  Are things just made so crappily these days that we can't give them to our kids, let them sleep in them, let them play with them?  Or have we become an overly protective, overly litigious society?  Yet no one issues recalls on oil rigs that explode and mess up our planet....
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