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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Monday, January 23, 2006


What one does when one is on vacation

What would you do if you had an entire weekend all to yourself? No kids. No husband. No housework. This past weekend, Mike sent me on a mini retreat, a spa weekend in Sonoma. What does one do on a weekend away all by herself? Let me tell you...

Mike got home a little early on Friday and I put him on kid duty and left as soon as he got home. Sonoma is roughly ninety minutes away from us but I didn't want to hit rush hour traffic. Ya, that's my story. And I'm sticking to it. When I got to San Francisco I heard on the radio that traffic in Marin was bad so I stopped at a local mall and enjoyed a sushi dinner followed by some light shopping. I knew I was in vacation mode because I bought a pair of low-rise white jeans. People who call themselves moms usually don't wear either low-rise jeans or white jeans and definitely not jeans that are both. As I handed the clerk my credit card, I could feel the shedding of my mommy self and it felt pretty good.

After hanging out at the mall for a couple of hours, I got back in the car and made good time to Sonoma, pulling into the parking lot of the hotel a little before nine o'clock. Upon my arrival, I immediately noticed two things: nobody was crying or whining and people were being nice to me. I started to relax, really relax. All of the relaxing made me hungry so before I parked my car for the night I headed over to McD's for two cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake. I snuck my food into the hotel in my handbag. This was a wine and cheese and golf kind of crowd, not a happy meal kind of crowd. I tried to look casual as I sauntered through the hotel lobby on the way to my room, hoping nobody knew that the smell of cheeseburger in the air was coming from my bulging purse.

As I munched on my cheeseburgers and slurped down my shake, I planned out my Saturday. I decided I would sleep in, then work out at the spa's gym, then enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant before showering and returning to the spa for a facial, a pedicure, and a manicure. After that I would drive to downtown Sonoma and check out the shops. I would play dinner by ear, stopping if I saw a restaurant that I couldn't pass up. And that's exactly what I did.

My Saturday morning and afternoon went exactly as planned. There were no hitches, no glitches, no last-minute poopy diaper changes. It was amazing how smoothly life rolls along when you have nobody to please but yourself. As if to verify that I definitely had shed the mommy side of me, I was astounded when my waiter at breakfast offered to buy me a mimosa. Light flirting! Within five feet of me and possibly even directed at me! I declined, of course. I didn't want to show up drunk to my facial, ya know?

The spa stuff was wonderful. Getting a facial is a pleasant experience. I liked mine so much I bought every product the kind woman recommended. I'm positive my life has changed for the better now that I've had a facial. And I will continue to tell myself that until I've paid off the credit card I used to buy all of those products.

When I was done with my day at the spa, I changed into my new non-mom jeans and other childfree garb: a long flowing poncho, high heeled boots, and lipstick. Then I marched out to my car and ran into a friend of mine from playgroup. When I saw her, my first thought was run! but I did the right thing and stopped to say hi.

She was in Sonoma with her two kids and her husband, who was there on business. I had known she would be there but I was half hoping I wouldn't run into her. I mean, I truly wanted to be alone and childfree for two days, not hanging out with a family. The horror! I told her as much (but in a nice way) and she completely understood. As I drove away from the parking lot, I saw her walking bent over, holding the hand of her two-year-old. Her newborn baby was in a sling around her neck and she was carrying a backpack and some random toys in her free hand. My rejuvenated self--the one that flirts with waiters and gets facials and wears white jeans--felt as though I were looking at my mommy self--the self that has two kids and schleps them around every day of her life. I shivered.

But then a good song came on the radio and I was on the road, childfree and ready to shop. After buying souvenirs for Emily, Thomas, Mike, and myself, I was starving. I took stock of my options and realized that what I really wanted to do was buy a bunch of picnic items at Sonoma Cheese Company and have a picnic in my hotel room while watching a pay-per-view movie. I consulted me and we agreed on the following kid-unfriendly picnic items: one bottle cabernet sauvignon, one wedge garlic jack cheese, one bag sliced spicy salami, one container garlic marinated mushrooms, one box Carr's crackers, one piece cheesecake. Yum.

I ate my fancy dinner in my pajamas while watching Mark Wahlberg in John Singleton's "Four Brothers." It was a good movie; I recommend it. The characters were believable, the acting was good, the storyline plausible, and there wasn't an overt amount of violence. It's especially good with a bottle of 1999 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon.

I woke up at seven on Sunday morning, determined not to sleep away my last morning in paradise. A knock on the door was my wake up call; It was the delivery of the oatmeal and fresh fruit I had ordered the previous night while drunk and feeling virtuous. After breakfast I made the eight o'clock yoga class. After yoga I worked out in the gym and then did this thing they called the bathing ritual. Basically, you alternate between a warm pool, a hot tub, a wet sauna, and a dry sauna until you're pink as a lobster and all of the horrible wine country toxins are washed out of you. It's especially good after a bottle of 1999 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon.

I checked out of the hotel at the stroke of noon and hit the Napa Outlet Stores on my way out of the area. I wasn't impressed with the selection in the stores and my shopping mojo was dwindling. I was ready to go home; my mommy self was back and she was missing her kids.

All of a sudden there was no place I wanted to be except in my own home with my own family and I hightailed it home on Highways 37 and 101, across the Golden Gate Bridge, down 19th Ave., and finally 280. Hurry up, mama! I was greeted at the door by a rousing chorus of, "Mama's home!" I missed my babies so much! They missed me, too, and both simultaneously pooped in their diapers just to prove it. Mama was home, allright.