Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Driving to the supermarket with Ava on Sunday, she agreed to a breakfast of fresh strawberries, green grapes and cantaloupe that morning with one of the market's great fresh baked bagels as a follow-up.

"Dad, can I get cream cheese on my bagel?"

"Well, no, we can't really do that in the store. We can either munch on the bagel plain while we're shopping or we can keep it in the bag and put on cream cheese when we get home."

"No, it's OK, I'll just eat it there," she says. "It's hard to stare at a bag with a bagel in it."

Monday, January 19, 2009


About 6:45 a.m. local time Saturday morning, walking slowly down Aruba's Palm Beach, headed to the Playa Linda timeshare. Early light. "Turn Up The Sun" by Oasis cranking through the iPhone earbuds. Slow-motion surf occasionally lapping up against your toes. Stopping and reaching down at times to pick up a particularly good specimen of brain coral. Perfect.

Walk past Pelican Pier and start scanning through the occupied Chickees. There's Geraldine, 89, up at 4:30 to make sure she got another good one, right at the water's edge. Goes by Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma to various members of our small group on this trip. Waiting with the good coffee they put out at the resort, some quiet conversation and a smile. You brought along the Monte #1 you bought the other night after an "adults-only" dinner with Gwen, spark it up to go with the coffee. "Please don't mention this to the girls," you say. She agrees.

We're pretty sure this is year #15 and she claims it's her last. Two weeks solid sitting on a beach and she's not a sand person. Says she smokes too much down here, eats too much, gambles too much in casinos that have neither been punitive or overly kind. She'll do 12 hours under a Chickee in a day, not accounting for bathroom breaks and running back to the room at some point to retrieve the remnants of last night's dinner, which she'll eat for lunch.

They put out more coffee mid-afternoon, fuel for a final linger, then the bags and towels will be packed up, the spot on the sand surrendered for the night in favor of showers, getting dressed in some (slightly) more formal clothes and dinner plans. Back again tomorrow. Early.

15 years, 15 vacations, ending on this morning, in this spot. That's what she says anyway. We'll see how things turn out. But we are grateful to have been along for much of the ride. And for this moment.

Friday, January 16, 2009

View From The Lounge (Day 7)

Heading home tomorrow and, I have to say, we are ready. Another great Aruba trip is coming to an end. I know we are going to find bitter cold waiting on the other side of the flight, but also our own beds, and cats, and kitchen. And we miss them. Spent part of today sitting around the lazy river pool working out grocery lists and looking forward to two days of quiet “recompression” before the world really kicks back in Tuesday morning.

This year’s installment was like all the others, new moments in largely familiar settings. Days around the Marriott pool and trips to the swim-up bar, walks down the beach to visit with great-grandma sitting under a Chickee at Playa Linda, to play in the sand or enjoy the terrific morning coffee they put out there. Dinners at El Gaucho (2), and Aqua, Chalet Suisse and Hostaria Da’Vittorio.

We wavered on the half-day Baby Beach excursion this year, ultimately let the girls make the decision (yes) and it provided another major highlight. There’s just something about that spot that makes this vacation complete. The powers that be seem to agree, for the first time in years we noticed signs of development and improvement down there and maybe the construction of some amenities to go along with the gentle and uniquely welcoming little cove.

We stopped off for Taco Bell take-out on our way back to the hotel that afternoon, and there’s maybe no higher calling for a bean-and-cheese burrito than providing sustenance to someone who just spent three hours digging in the sand and enjoying the plentiful sun at Baby Beach. More or less ruined dinner, not that we minded.

We’ve got a few hours left to play with tomorrow morning, a final trip to the pool, last sunscreen application, a few more laps around the lazy river, back up to the room to get changed, cab to the airport, killing time at the gate, boarding, flying, landing, finding the baggage and the car service guy, driving down familiar streets, and home.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eighth Is Enough

Wasn't going to post on the 2008 Weblog Awards again. Over the last few days we'd checked in on the voting from time to time and the inevitable result seemed clear - eighth. We weren't going to win this time around, or even contend, and given the quality of the competition we were OK with that. We got comfortable with the idea of eighth, started liking the symmetry of the number, all that good stuff. We had triumphed over last year's tenth place finish. We were moving on.

Checked in this morning and the very fine blogs that had been firmly established in the ninth and tenth spots seemed, well, a little too close for comfort.

So, between wrestling sunscreen onto the kids and heading out for another day floating around the lazy river, we figured we would make one final appeal - on the final day of voting - to our loyal readers and subscribers to hit this link and cast one final vote for "I think this world is perfect..." as the best parenting blog of 2008.

A grateful blogger thanks you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roll It Over

Every year we say, “this is the last year,” and then we go back again. But this really is the last one, at least for a while, at least for this particular week. Madison is in third grade next fall and finally too old to pull out of school right after the holiday break. Maybe too old already, but we’ve continued to stick with The Program.

The first installment of this annual family vacation was six years ago, Ava was on the brink of turning 1 and Madison about to turn 3. When we look back at that trip we can't imagine what we were thinking. I remember packing (more like watching Gwen pack) and looking at everything we were bringing and wondering how we were going to be able to get it all from our front door to the car, let alone through the airport and ultimately to our destination. Somehow we made it.

Early years of this trip were all kiddie pools, mid-afternoon naps, strollers, bottles and diapers (regular and swimmy), kids falling asleep at rushed dinners after mild tantrums and having to be carried home. I used to be able to volunteer for nap duty and smoke a Monte #1 and drink a Balashi on the hotel balcony while a little one (or two) slept inside. Before they knew what a cigar was or would have thought to ask. Those days are gone, and so are the Cubanos. The Balashis endure.

It’s been an incredible vacation every year, which is probably why we haven’t stopped going. At nearly 6 and close to 8, Ava and Madison are in that sweet spot between having to have every moment enabled and considering every moment their own. They still look for direction, they still want to talk about what we’re doing and saying, they can carry their own stuff (mostly) and run free, but not too far. I love where we are right now, want to hang onto it, freeze this spot in time and never lose it. But – despite the challenges and rigors of those early editions – I felt that way then too, and it keeps getter better. Just different.

We’re sitting at the gate in the airport as I write, Gwen just took the girls down to get some sandwiches and gum for the flight and the prospect of that innocent little field trip made them bounce around like they were at an amusement park. My parents are already down there, Grandmother too. We’ve been in touch. Dinners are planned, excursions, maybe a round of golf. A week under the sun and on sand in the gentle Aruban breeze is stretching out before us.

This is the last year.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Moment Has Arrived

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Around this time last year "I think this world is perfect..." was recognized as a finalist in the 2007 Weblog Awards, best parenting blog category. We were humbled and amazed, but the celebration was short lived, because as soon as the voting started we were stomped down like someone who spilled beer on the girlfriend of a Hells Angel at Altamont.

We briefly considered renaming this blog "Amalah Road Kill," but ultimately decided to soldier on and continue to post, and there were some nice developments along the way - like being tapped as a "Blog of Note" by Blogger, which resulted in a momentary spike in traffic and - after Gwen gave me $2.49 - a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Now the 2008 edition of the Weblog Awards is here, we've again been honored as a finalist in the parenting blog category and are hoping for a better result this time around. And our loyal readers (all 12 of you) are in a position to help.

Here is a link to the parenting blog voting booth, all you need to do is hit the link, click on the ballot in the appropriate place to signify your vote for "I think this world is perfect..." (last one on the list) and that's it.

Polls are open for a week and visitors are allowed to vote once per day, so depending on your degree of blog love and available free time you can actually throw seven votes our way, which would be tremendous and very much appreciated. As was the case last year, we're up against some extremely established competition, including commercial sites and the inevitable Amalah juggernaut, so we need all the help we can get.

Thank you!