A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortA Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortA Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortDiptic4A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

the sailfish beach resort (most commonly known as simply, the sailfish) on anna maria island in florida, has been in my mother’s family since her parents bought it in the 1970s. i’ve been going there at least once a year since i was born. it’s changed through the years –the width of the beach, the color of the building, the throw pillows on the couch– but it still always seems the same. the freshness of the air, the softness of the sand, the crisp water, the warm sun. jp and i took ramona and some of our favorite friends there this last week of april. what a glorious and much-needed break it was.

we spent our mornings on the empty beach, drinking our coffee while watching the little ones run around. by 11:00, when the heat started to get serious, we’d explore the island (there’s a free trolley!), grab lunch, siesta. by late afternoon we were out back in the waves, building sand castles, reading books while lounging on beach chairs, taking turns watching the babes so each person had a chance to go exploring on the rented paddle boards. paradise, really.

it’s a simple little four-plex that is rented out during the year. the amenities are everything you need: king bed, sleeper couch, full bath, kitchen w all major appliances, and a cozy front living room that opens up to the patio that looks directly onto the gulf of mexico. there’s lots of great restaurants on the island, but this place is also two blocks from a publix so we did most of our cooking and eating at home. perhaps consider it next time you’re looking for an easy family vacation!

forgive all the baby bum photos: we were having too much fun in the sand and water to take many. these are from our last morning there. thank you, overcast sky, for waiting until our last day to show up. i’ll be snagging some from our friends to show off later 😉

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jp and i got to go to san francisco for four days and SANS baby! it was so nice to be w my love (and not have to wrangle a toddler or worry about nap times etc). big bummer though: the two of us were sick w the flu (or some weird GI thing) that ramona gave us. blech. our plans of eating and drinking ourselves into a stupor were laid to the side as we tried to take it easy, heal, and stomach what we could.

it may be because we were both down and out and feeling incredibly crappy, but i was not as in love with san fran as i thought i would be. it just didn’t seem to have that magic that chicago and NY certainly have. but criticisms aside, jp and i got to experience many cool things that we remember fondly:

we stayed with our friends in oakland and we both really loved that funny little city. travels are always best when you are with locals whom you enjoy.

and being away from ramona for so long?! it went terrific and i would do it again in a heartbeat if our budget allowed. she’s got such good people looking after her when we’re gone, and i’ve got places to see and lovey time with my husband to be had! i don’t love being away from her, but it sure was and is a luxury/blessing of life to be able to take off for some place and know my daughter is in completely loving and caring hands.

A Denver Home Companion | air travel with a little one

we’re going to see these big kids next week for christmas in minneapolis! and we’re taking a plane to get there. pray for me…

travel by plane with ramona as a newborn was a cinch. EASY! piece of cake. seriously. she was either asleep or nursing or just sitting there looking really cute. there was this one time that she had a blow-out but there’s little anyone can do to prepare for that besides make sure you have extra diapers and clothes and no qualms about changing the baby in the back open area by the flight attendants (sorry, y’all, but that changing table in the front bathroom does not cut it for me. where the hell am i supposed to place anything?! it’s like changing a baby on top of a board placed over a porta-potty stinky hole. no. thank. you.).

now that ramona has gotten a little older and more mobile and sassy and squirmy and opinionated and does not sleep wherever whenever, well, things have changed. lucky for me or sucky for me, i’ve traveled a decent bit this past year and a half with ramona so have had some trips to work out the kinks. here’s my unsolicited advice on air travel with a little one.

  • travel when the majority of your traveling companions are in a good mood. i’ve tried to do the nap-time flight but ramona will no longer fall asleep just anywhere. even if it was her nap time, she’s far too excited and curious that there is no way she would take a snooze on me. i’d rather have a happy baby that might get a little fussy bc they can’t move around as much as they’d like than a sleepy, crabby baby who is going to react more emotionally. so, ideally, we travel any time in the first part of the day that does not require us to wake up before we usually do. afternoon wise, i try and choose a flight that will get us in just before her bedtime.
  • pack light. no, your kid does not need all that stuff. some diapers and some wipes, a pacifier, some healthy snacks, a quiet toy. stop lugging that diaper bag around! everything you need for tyke should be able to fit in your own personal bag. also, i don’t use a stroller at the airport. i opt for carrying ramona on my back w our boba. i check in our luggage first thing and wear her through security (i usually carry-on one large shoulder tote). once through security, i let her walk/run/goof around. she gets her wiggles out this way. w just one bag and one baby, i don’t really have a problem being able to chase her around the waiting area. and i don’t have to worry about a stroller i would otherwise have to attend to.
  • sit in the back of the plane. i always fly southwest, where you get the option of choosing your seat (i love this, jp hates it with a fiery passion). i go straight back to the last seat on the right. i do this bc a) i’m close to the bathrooms b) i’m close the the flight attendants (uh, can i have a refill on my jack and diet?) c) i’m close to that open area where the flight attendants’ jump seat is (this area is great for rocking a sleepy child or changing diapers) d) it’s louder so it can drown out noises ramona makes a little more e) it fills up last which means, no joke, only ONCE in 18 months have i ever had to share the full row. most times, i have an empty middle seat next to me. and many times i’ve been lucky enough to have the whole row to spread out. 
  • demonstrate and expect good behavior (when they’re not freaking out). choose toys that don’t make much noises (at least not the battery kind). i’ve found that pretzels in a plastic cup with a lid from the flight attendant is her favorite plane toy yet and the rattling is innocuous. she spends her time sticking her finger in the straw hole or trying to pry off the top or just sitting there snacking on the pretzels. otherwise, we read the literature in the seat pocket or putz on my phone. if your child is doing something that is directly affecting another traveler (like kicking or pulling the seat in front of them) redirect immediately! be aware of what your child is doing and how it might come across to those around you. and choosing toys and encouraging behaviors that are less intrusive to other people’s flying experience can set an early precedent of being respectful of other people and best practice for shared public spaces. people seem to be understanding when a child is tired and acting out because of that. and they are certainly less understanding when a child is just being obnoxious and the parent is oblivious.
  • that being said, do not care that much about what the people around you might be thinking. i know, you think that sounds awful. but too many mothers worry too much about what people might think or how they might react to their toddler. it almost seems they manifest these poor interactions by assuming that everyone hates kids and no one is going to understand what they, as a parent, are going through, even before they’ve arrived at the airport. so far, for me at least, so good. most people actually seem to want to help me. ask the flight attendant to hold or watch your little one while you go to the bathroom if you’re not traveling with your partner. encourage your child to say hi and smile at those around you. wait and see how your seat companion reacts when your toddler whacks them on the knee with their toy before apologizing profusely (and unnecessarily). most people are not that averse to attention from little humans. in fact, i believe that most people secretly crave it. be confident in your parenting skills. trust me, you will know when you should be buying the people in front of you a round of drinks to compensate for your child’s behavior. until then, relax. and if, by chance, you do sit by someone that is making it obvious they hate kids, especially yours, don’t take it personally. chances are this person finds little to not hate in their life. 
  • whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. most of what i have said has to do with preparing yourself for traveling with a little one. that’s bc we know by now as parents that some things are just out of our control no matter how much we plan and prep and anticipate. i think the real trick in traveling with a little one is making sure you’ve got confidence and determination in what you’re doing, a sense of humor in the unexpected, and graciousness and humility and a smile for those around you. no, it’s not as simple as that but it sure can’t hurt.

(yes, i know: joanna –who resides on every single blogger’s blog roll and for good reason) totally scooped me on this subject by a day. i think her tips are great and will be using some of them for our upcoming flight.


ramona and i had a free week so we flew up to see my family in minnesota, just outside of minneapolis. we spent the long weekend w my mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew: drinking really good riojas, eating at a doughnut shop in st. paul, visiting our favorite coffee bar in minneapolis, discovering the tree home of mr. little guy at lake harriet, getting some greasy grub at convention grill, and just lounging at my parents’ really comfy home. shame on me for not taking more photos. after minnesota, ramona and i jetted down to chicago to say hello to some old friends.

our first day in chicago (we were there less than 48 hours!) we headed to logan square where we stopped by longman & eagle for lunch and a drink. afterward, we headed over to sparrow where the one-and-only susan flaga gave me a refreshing fall haircut. after that, mo and i headed to a playground at wicker park.

as i longingly looked at big star to my left and the violet hour to my right as we made our way from the damen blue line stop to the park, i had the full realization that –while, yes, i was on an impromptu trip with my toddler– travelling would not be what it used to be, at least for some time. unless, of course, we left her behind (but she’s so much fun most of the time!) or had the moola to have a nanny tag-along (i must confess here that i use to judge harshly families that brought a nanny on family vacations. let me just say now that i totally get it.)

from there, we headed to ukrainian village where we would be spending the next two nights with my dear high school friend, tara. our other chicago-via-st.-louis-park gal-pal, shalva, came over and we spent the night eating take-out, catching up, and facebook stalking pretty much everyone from our high school (confession here is my penance).

our only full day in chicago was spent at tara’s home and neighborhood with a quick jaunt to millennium park. i love love love millennium park. it’s a great place where tourists and downtown professionals seem to co-exist in harmony. there’s also great public art, open spaces, and notable (usually free) events (one time when i was there i got to see wilco perform). i have been wanting to take ramona to cloud gate (aka the bean) and crown fountain since she was just a bean in my belly. with the company of my fabulous college friend, jasmin, i got to do so. also of note: jasmin and i text each other each fall to let the other know when we had our first pumpkin spice latte, a tradition since college. this year, we didn’t have to. we had them together!

 we left early the next morning to catch our plane out of midway. it was a fun trip but i sure was relieved and ecstatic to see jp and to be home.

p.s. this trip was made possible (the travelling with the baby part, not the funding part) by the use of the boba carrier and a sakura bloom sling. i could NOT have done this with a stroller as there would have been no way to lug my luggage at the same time. i don’t say this to decry strollers (i freaking LOVE my BOB). i just say this in case you are wondering: how the hell did emily travel to chicago with a toddler and a suitcase? carrying ramona on my back is how i was able to do it. really.

we had our ups and downs but, overall, traveling with miss ramona bean is always such a treat. and seeing west coast family (who we haven’t seen in three years!) was so special.