and most importantly,
A huuuuge thank-you to our wonderful family who fed us, drove us, humored us, entertained us, and watched our children at 4 a.m. We had such an amazing time and we already miss your company. Can’t wait to do it again… and I promise not to break your coffee pot next time. XOXO.
Waaaaaaaaaaah! I’m not happy about it, but we’re back. I needed at least 3 more days. 5 more would’ve been ideal. I think you need time to ease into a vacation; time to let it soak in that you’ve left all the nonsense that is the daily grind behind you for awhile. Well, that’s not exactly true. We brought our nonsense with us.
This was the kids’ first time on a plane and I was nervous about this. Not so nervous about the actual flying per se, but I desperately did not want to be the family with “those kids”. Ultimately it was out of my control, but that didn’t keep me from loading up the carry-on with candy and dvds. I didn’t need to worry though, they were great.
My parents booked an amazing place in Key West overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, kitchen, living room, and my favorite, a washer and dryer 🙂 The room Riz, I and the kids stayed in was bigger than our house. Well, close anyway. The 4 TVs in place could’ve been a vacation for the kids by themselves.
Of course the real fun was soaking up the perfect weather.
Early mornings were spent looking over the Gulf and eating breakfast on the balcony . Thanks to our little early risers, the entire Ejaz family had the opportunity to see the sunrise every day. You are welcome.
Zeemu couldn’t get enough of the sand. He’d grab little handfuls, raise his arms into the air and exclaim “THIS!” as he released his tiny fists. I pretty sure what he meant was “Now, THIS. THIS is what I’m talking about.”
Manu’s current obsession is The Four Seasons. Not so much Frankie Valli, but the drummer. I don’t know his name and I’m not sure Manu knows it either but he’s smitten. In the pool, Manu would demand that Riz drag him around the pool while he’d sing ” Oh what a night! Make December back in ’63” for all of the island to enjoy. It doesn’t matter how many times we correct him. It’s always “Make December.” This kid kills me.
For a little change of scenery we frequented the cute downtown area of Key West. It’s a tiny little island( a two by four as one of our tour guide’s called it; two miles wide by four miles long) so getting around was quick and easy.
There was gelato and Cuban food. Live bands and dancing.
Of course we were sure to document the trip with tons of family pics. With crazy job and school schedules, it’s a small miracle that all 10 of us we able to make the trip. Can’t say when it’ll happen again, so I’m pretty snazzed ( yeah, I said it) that we were able to swing this one.
Love these guys!
Every now and then I like to browse through our folders upon folders of pictures to see what we were up to in years past on whatever day it happens to be.
On this day in 2008, Riz, Manu (then 3 months old) and I were spending the day roaming around NYC. I remember the trip so vividly. Bagels and iced coffees in the Upper West Side, window shopping in the Village, fish and chips for lunch and trying to find a half-decent place to nurse the babe.
We were brand new parents and looking back at these photos I kinda have to laugh at us. We’ve all learned so much since these were taken. Unfortunately, the first kid has to the be the guinea pig. The second kid really puts things into perspective. With the first, you get on the train at 5:25pm so that you’re 1/2 block from the apartment at 5:45, so that you’re in the apartment at 5:53. So that you’re running the bath water at 5:55 to test at 5:56. That’ll give you enough time to undress the baby, grab his hooded animal towel and Rainbowfish water-proof book , re-test the water and set him in the newly sanitized bathtub at 6pm on the nose. The second time around you figure you make it back when you make it back and if he doesn’t sleep well tonight, well, there’s always tomorrow. Better still, you call the sitter and go out by yourselves.
On Saturday we took advantage of our new location and traveled into the city just for the day. We packed up the kids and hit the road by 7am. After a quick stop for some much needed coffee, we were off. We parked the car at 8:30am. We were are in awe. Only 1 1/2 hours to the center of the universe? It cannot be!
We spent the day with cool Uncle Faheem. Like the great brother he is, he took the day off from studying for his boards to hail cabs, hold the babies, and keep our tummies full. We splashed around in the sprinklers at Central Park, gawked at the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History, and ended the day with a helping of burgers and fries from the Shake Shack. Super-great time. Manu’s favorite part? The taxis, of course. Simple pleasures.
5 years ago when my mom planned the family vacation to Puerto Rico, I thought the Ejaz family had experienced the worst vacation ever. We still tease her about it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Last month, my dad planned a get-away for the two of them to Costa Rica. After reviewing the itinerary, which was obviously dad-focused, (checking out the aviary, tropical fish, alligators and the like) she expressed her concern that his schedule only allowed for one day at the beach. “At least we’re not staying at a medical center,” he shot back.
If only it had turned out to be a medical center. What my mom thought was a conference center/hotel turned out to be something else entirely. We must have been a sight; the seven of us sunburned and crammed into an elevator that smelled of bandages with our sunglasses and beach bags in tow. You can imagine our horror when the elevator doors opened to reveal the recovery unit in a hospital. When your hotel check-in is at a nurses station, it’s a bad vacation. We didn’t stay there though apparently some people do…for fun. In hind-sight it’s hilarious.
Fast- forward 5 years.
At the end of August the sisters took a mini-vacay to Long Branch Beach, NJ. It was supposed to be a super-girly, end of summer adventure. We’d spend most of the day on the beach. When we were bored of that we’d shop and all the while we’d be eating. Before we even left, Medina ditched us for cheerleading try-outs. Whatever. Should have been a sign.
On day 1 I met Aziza and Sameena at the King of Prussia Mall which was a great start. We had lunch, caught up, and spent hours ogling at the designer gowns and shoes at Neiman Marcus. Then the rain.
The next day we drove to Long Branch. Our hopes for a break in the weather were still high. I mean, it couldn’t pour for 4 days straight. We had picked the nicest hotel available, the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Turned out to be a great choice because we were indoors for 4 days straight. We were totally bummed. We didn’t even want to take pictures to later be reminded of our time there. Each morning we’d draw back the drapes with great anticipation. Today there would be sun. Not so much.
We tried to do what any resourceful girls would have done; we started calling spas. Sameena must have called 20 places with no luck. They were either booked, didn’t speak English, or wanted $60 for a pedicure. A salon then. We would all get our hair done. That could be fun. In desperation we ended up in a mall salon. We ate at the mall too. It was so sad.
On the last night we went to a coffee house. It was about 10:30 when we tried to leave. I say ‘tried’ because the car didn’t start. The car that has never had any hint of an issue didn’t start. Again, we did what any resourceful girls would have done; we called our dad. Obviously, he’d be able to help from 2 states away. He told us to call AAA. We did, only to find out that as his children, we weren’t covered. I called Riz. He told us to wait 20 minutes and try starting the car again. 20 minutes later we were calling a cab. We started brainstorming ways we may have wronged the guy upstairs. No one said it, but we were all thinking “what if we can’t get out of this place…?”
The next morning we took a cab back to the car. My dad had thought about it overnight and suggested we step on the gas before we even turned the key and then never ever turn off the car. It worked and we tore the hell out of there. We haven’t talked about it since.
Someday this too will be hilarious, girls. Maybe 5 years.
There’s nothing more I love than a vacation. I will forgo coffee, chocolate, and sparklies—uh, within reason of course, for sand and sun. Riz knows this which is why he scored major points when he surprised me with a trip to Southern California. More on that later.
I grew up in a house where vacations were tres important. I’m not sure it was ever a vacation for my parents with their 5 kids in tow, but they made it a point to take us somewhere every summer.
Some years we went all out, flying to Cancun, Puerto Rico, and the like. Some years we all piled in the mini-van and headed to Virginia or Myrtle Beach. It seems like we’d plan and prep all spring for these vacations. I vividly recall the week before the vacation being almost as wonderful as actually being there. This was the week when we went shopping with mom for all the essentials. We’d get new beach towels, flip-flops, and sunglasses. The planning got my mom in a great mood and she’d even spring for snacks like Pringles and General Mills variety pack cereal boxes. (If you know anything about my mom, you know how huge a deal this was for us kids.)
Everything was so exciting; the careful packing of the new bathing suit in my own pink and purple suitcase, my dad letting me be in charge of the family’s airline tickets, day-dreaming of becoming a flight attendant and thinking it the most glamorous job a girl could have….
When we got married, Riz joined in. After accepting most of our Brady Bunch eccentricities, this tradition I feel was pretty palatable. Our first vacation after our honeymoon was to a trip Acapulco. The following year we went to Barbados. The third year Riz informed me that his final med-school year wouldn’t allow for any vacation time………..
This was not ok. Med school, schmed school. I began to (not so subtly) hint at a vacation at least once a week. “Wow…it sure is cold…you know what would be great?”
Then one Sunday in January, Riz surprised me with a vacation to San Diego. My head starting spinning with millions of thoughts all of which he had already taken care of. Work had known for weeks. We’d flying back to Buffalo (we were in NYC), pack, and then fly out to San Diego. There was a list of beaches to see, places to eat, and where to find the best coffee. Impressive.
We had a terrific time.
Turned out I didn’t have to forgo coffee or chocolate.
In San Diego’s Gas Lamp District we visited the Ghirardelli Sundae Shop.
Between the two of us we couldn’t finish this.
I also had my fill of sparklies
A morning walk on Mission Beach
Hotel Coronado where Some Like it Hot was filmed (ah…the AP English “summer films” list)
Here’s a house on Laguna Beach Riz and I were considering purchasing. Then we decided to pass. It was really a little small and the front yard was just full of sand.
Enjoying the view in Laguna
We took a day trip to L.A.
Riz had to drive three times around this busy Beverly Hills block for me to get this shot. It was totally worth the effort to present Sameena with a pic of her Blow Out idol’s salon.
Sunset in La Jolla.
Like all good things, our time in the city where it seems it never rains was too short. Cheers to you, Pika, for pulling it off. This vacation is already one of my favorite memories and ranks right up there with Sour Cream Pringles.