The Coolest Bathroom Ever!

Disco Ball_2

Our fourth day in Madrid, we decided to take a day trip to Toledo. There are two train stations in Madrid. Chamartin is in northern Madrid and handles all traffic heading to the north of Spain. Atocha is located closer to the south of Madrid, and handles all train traffic heading south. Toledo is located about 30 minutes south of Madrid by train, so we headed down to the Atocha train station to get our tickets and head on our way.

We were late for the train we wanted to make. We had a particularly difficult time waking up our children and getting them ready. Our hotel was about a ten minute walk from the train station, so we set out with our baby in our ergo, with my husband and our babysitter alternating running with and carrying several of the other children. Alas, we still did not make our intended train!

When we finally made it inside the train station, our five year old declared she needed the bathroom. So my husband and I split up. He went to find the ticket office and secure us tickets on a later train to Toledo. I, along with our babysitter and the rest of our children, set off to find the bathroom.

The Atocha train station is a little bit of a maze. It reminds me a little bit of Penn Station in NYC, but with more sunlight and less shopping. There are different areas for the local trains and express trains. There is also more security at Atocha due to terrorist attacks a few years ago. So, it took us a little while to find the bathroom. And when we got there, “Oh, no!!!” You had to pay to use it.

The last time I had to pay to use bathrooms in a public space like this was when my husband and I traveled to Peru about ten years ago. We were taking a bus from Lima to Huacachina to see the sand dunes. I drank way too much Inca cola before heading to the bus station. I ran for the bathroom only to be stopped from entering and asked for money. I didn’t have any with me, so I had to go back and find my husband to get some coins before using the bathroom.

You think I would have learned to always be prepared with some coins just in case there was a fee for the bathrooms! But no. I didn’t. My husband had taken the bag with our i.d.’s with him to get the tickets, which also had my cash supply in it. What was worse is that it was my little daughter who needed to use the bathroom. Because Atocha felt like such a maze of a train station, we decided that we would just have to wait for him to come back and find us.

Every few seconds I would look towards the bathroom, wondering if I should have my daughter hop over the turnstile and just pay for the bathroom use when my husband arrived. The pitiful amount of .60 euros was all that stood between my daughter and the bathroom. But, she didn’t want to go into the bathroom without me, and I didn’t really want to teach my children that it was okay to not pay for things, so we waited. I started to add up in my head just how much it would cost to use the bathroom if we all had to pay. There were seven people in our party altogether. I was pretty sure that our baby and two year old would be exempt from the bathroom fee. That still meant that it would cost 3 euros for all of us to use the bathroom. I must admit I was starting to feel a little outraged that we would have to pay that kind of cash for a bathroom visit. Then I noticed a door to the right of the main bathroom entrance. On the door it said “family bathroom”. Well, it said it in Spanish, but you know what I mean. And the best part is that the family bathroom only cost .60 euro for everyone! It turns out Spain is a very friendly country for families to travel in. And not just because of the bathrooms.

As soon as my husband found us, I grabbed the needed coins, paid the attendant, and ushered all my children into the family bathroom. We opened the door, and what we saw was the coolest bathroom ever! A disco ball twirled from the ceiling in the middle of the room, showering us with moving slivers of light. Soft music played lullabies to soothe even the most distressed and crying of babies. There was not one, but two, child-sized toilets for the children to use. A soft glider in pastel colors perfect for a nursing mother and baby stood off to the side of the room. A soft, cushy diaper changing area was next to the nursing chair. The lighting was soft and gentle, not harsh like in most bathrooms. It was clean and smelled of flowers. What a wonderful haven for a tired and frazzled family to find!

And that disco ball! All the rest of the amenities were lovely and inviting, but my children could not get over that disco ball! They felt like they were at the coolest party ever. It didn’t matter that it was in a bathroom.

Madrid: The Prado, Medieval Art

I must admit, in the past I have not really enjoyed medieval art. In the Met in New York, the medieval section was just an area to walk through as quickly as possible. Never did I feel the urge to linger and gaze upon medieval art there. It always felt too dark, too sombre. The human figure was not as exact as in later Renaissance art. Medieval art seemed to be very expressionless to me.

The Prado in Madrid was a completely different experience. Maybe it is because Spain was the world power during medieval times. Maybe medieval artists working in Spain were more skilled at their craft. Maybe it’s because I am a different person now. The medieval art in the Prado was my favorite section of the museum.

Beautiful canvas after beautiful canvas in deep, rich colors celebrated the life of Christ and other religious figures. The paintings provided an opportunity for me to speak to my children about scripture stories, the story of Christmas, and the importance religion played in the history of Spain. The rich visual material piqued their interest. While I’m glad that the scriptures are now available for all to read, I appreciate how these vivid depictions of scriptural content sparked conversations and learning opportunities.

What really spoke to me personally in the medieval art, were the many paintings of Mary nursing baby Jesus. Since I am currently nursing a baby boy, it makes sense that I would have a more personal connection with the subject matter. What really impressed me was the gentleness and tenderness that was portrayed in the relationship between mother and child.

Painting after beautiful painting showed the loving bond shared by mother and child. I have always thought of medieval times as somewhat austere and stern. In some ways, they probably were. But the natural relationship of mother and small baby was regarded as natural and beautiful. It drew me in and touched me. What a beautiful thing it is to care for and nurture a child! It can be daunting, frustrating, tiring, and sometimes monotonous. But tender moments bring joy greater than any of the negative feelings that sometimes come.

So hooray for medieval art and the Prado! If you don’t go, you will be missing out on a beautiful visual treasure.

Madrid: A Princess Palace for Aeryn

El Palacio Real, Madrid

El Palacio Real, Madrid

Princesses, fairies, mermaids, unicorns! If your little girls are anything like our little girls, they love to dress up and make up games using these personas. I love how vividly their imaginations work, and how creative they are in their stories. But for our little Aeryn, age two, it is more than just make believe. She truly believes that she is a princess.

We chose to visit the Royal Palace on our first full day in Madrid. Our children were still jet lagged, and we needed some interest on their part to motivate them to explore with us. They perked up noticeably at the prospect of visiting a palace. So we hopped on the subway and traveled up to Puerta del Sol. Then we walked down Calle del Arenal, past Teatro Real, to find the Royal Palace.

Beautiful gardens in the Plaza de Oriente decorate the approach to the palace. Statues of Gothic kings line the walkway that leads to the front entrance.

Plaza de Oriente, Madrid

The Palacio Real is one of the attractions you can visit using the Madrid card. The entrance in the front by the gardens is used exclusively by tour groups and Madrid card holders. There was no line when we got there, so we were able to go right in. There is some security, a metal detector and guards which will search your bags before entering the open courtyard.

The palace is beautiful. It was built in the 1700’s, to replace the old castle destroyed in a fire. The beauty of this palace was in part inspired by the beauty of the palace of Versailles. The weapons room is especially impressive. All of our children liked visiting the palace, but the most enthralled by it all was Aeryn.

DSC_0107

Here are Lexi, our babysitter, and our little Aeryn posing on the balcony overlooking Casa de Campo. This is one of Aeryn’s princess poses. The lifting of her heal and downcast eyes are very deliberate on her part. She will often clasp her hands together to complete the pose.

After enjoying the view, we went back into the main courtyard. Aeryn started talking about her palace. “It’s my princess castle, mama.” “I love my princess castle, mama.” Such beautiful, bubbly expressions poured out of her! Then, Abigail, who is 5 and has somehow decided that she is the enforcer, told her that it is not her palace, and she is not a princess! What came next? Tears and screaming. Aeryn, with her little fists clenched and tears streaming down her cheeks yelled at Abigail. “I am a princess! It’s my castle!” With Abigail yelling back, “No, you’re not! You’re not a princess!”

My husband and I have wondered about how long our children will remain in that magical state of make believe where fairies and magic are real. Our oldest daughter is seven, and she truly believes that fairies are real. She builds communities for them to visit in our backyard. She makes treasures for them. She blissfully gathers flowers for them. At some point all of our little ones will transition to skeptical teenagers and young adults, but for now, we want the magic to last for them.

So, with Abigail and Aeryn we talked about how they are not princesses of a country, but they are princesses in our family. We were visiting a palace that belonged to the King and Queen of Spain. Abigail and Aeryn both calmed down and seemed happy with that explanation. I guess Abigail had felt jealous and a little excluded. She really just wanted to be a princess, too.

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Long Live the Doman Sun!

Spain: Modern and Medieval

Madrid: In Search of Kilometer Zero

While preparing for our trip to Spain, I learned about kilometer zero. Considered the geographic center of Spain, the six major radial roads originating from Madrid are measured by their distance from this one spot. Many countries have their own kilometer zero, but in Spain, it is located in Madrid. When we set off on this beautiful morning, I hoped that we would find kilometer zero in our wanderings.

We first took the metro from our hotel up to Puerta del Sol, a major plaza in the heart of Madrid. We emerged from the metro to find a beautiful open area with flowers, a fountain, and gorgeous buildings surrounding us. Puerta del Sol is a hot spot for interesting street performers. We were greeted by Mickey Mouse and other childhood favorites, all trying to sell us balloons and other treasures for children. This was one of the most interesting.

DSC_0042Truthfully, I rather detest Barney as a character. However, I couldn’t resist the irony of Barney smoking. If I had been ready with my camera just five seconds earlier, the picture would have showed Barney smoking with his head still on. It was a strange juxtaposition; a childhood icon engaging in destructive behavior.

After enjoying the sights of Puerta del Sol, we made our way to Plaza Mayor. There is a tourist office there where we planned to buy Madrid cards for access to many of the sights and museums in Madrid. We were also looking for information on where to find Kilometer Zero. Plus, it is a major plaza in Madrid. We wouldn’t miss seeing it even if we had no other business to take us there other than enjoying the sights of the city.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Plaza Mayor was built in the early 1600’s during the reign of Philip III. It was called by several different names during the centuries between Philip III and today. It was given the name of Plaza Mayor at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The plaza is beautiful, but more stoic than the piazzas in Italy. Most of the buildings around the plaza are built with the red brick, with one showcasing beautiful frescoes in a more pastel color. Beautiful archways ring the plaza, with larger archways leading out to pedestrian thoroughfares outside of Plaza Mayor. Our children were excited to chase pigeons in the big open space, but they were notoriously absent. There were a few here and there, called flying rats by waiters in the restaurants ringing the the plaza. There were, however, children kicking soccer balls back and forth, a sight we saw in many of the open plazas in Spain.

In the bottom right corner of this picture you can see a modern portable building that looks very out of place in the midst of the historic square. This is the tourist office. The tourist office can provide you with maps and information about the city. It is also one of the few places where you can purchase a Madrid card for access to many attractions, and a tourist card which gives you unlimited rides on Madrid’s metro and bus system. We purchased a three-day Madrid card, although you could spend weeks in Madrid and only see a small portion of all the sites available to you. We also learned that Kilometer Zero was back in Puerta del Sol. We would make our way back there that day, but we had a few other stops to make first.

Churros con Chocolate

Churros con Chocolate

My husband looked forward to the experience of eating churros con chocolate with me and his children for a long time before we traveled to Spain. Here, on our first day in Madrid, he found a delicious chocolateria close to Plaza Mayor for us to enjoy this quintessential Spanish dessert. The chocolate cake was delicious. The churros were wonderful. The setting was magical.

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Tucked away in a side street of Madrid, we ate outside feasting on the sights of Spanish architecture and decorative elements while being serenaded by an opera singer followed by an accordion player, both of who were skilled at their craft. After eating we followed the street down to a pedestrian walkway where a small bookstore sold beautiful watercolors of matadors battling the bull and flamenco dancers twisting and stomping with flourishes and flair.

Still in search of kilometer zero, we eventually made our way back to Puerta del Sol. It was later in the afternoon. It was crowded. My husband left the rest of us to battle the crowds and locate the kilometer marker we had come to find. In front of the clock tower on a building called “Real Casa de Correos”, which serves as the Spanish equivalent to the dropping of the ball in Time Square on New Year’s Eve, lies the marker of Kilometer Zero.

There were many tourists standing around waiting for the turn to take pictures of the famous zero kilometer marker. Our turn came, and my three beautiful daughters stood on the marker in their matching pink tennis shoes, solely to appease their mother. After we were finished taking the photo, I took a small moment to stand on the marker myself. I couldn’t come all this way and miss my chance to stand in the center of Spain, now could I?

Kilometer Zero, Madrid

Kilometer Zero, Madrid

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Why I am writing this blog….

Toilet Training and Travel

DSC_0083 There are lots of situations that can be difficult and trying as a parent. My least favorite part of being a parent so far? Teaching our little ones to use the toilet, aka potty training. It is a relentless task requiring endless patience and perseverance. My days are planned around when I think my child will need to use the toilet, when they have already used the toilet, and most definitely around the time that they will do more than just pee. Constant vigilance is required, along with use of iPhone timers (most handy because it is portable and it’s not as easy to forget your phone when leaving the house) and a portable toilet that travels with you whenever you leave your house. And part of the frustration is, you never know how long it will be before your child decides that using the toilet, instead of a pull-up or underwear or the floor, is a better option after all! We are now on working with child number 3 on toilet training. And with summer looming on the horizon with travels a-plenty, I need this one to have reached some vital steps in her independent toilet use.

  1. She must want to use the toilet instead of a pull-up.
  2. She must be able to hold it until she actually is sitting on the toilet.
  3. She needs to be able to communicate to me when she needs to go, with enough time to find a toilet! That is definitely key.
  4. She cannot be afraid of using a variety of public bathrooms.
  5. She needs to be comfortable using a big toilet, instead of her little training toilet.

I’m totally fine with helping her pull her underwear up and down, especially if it needs to be done in a hurry. I’m totally fine with helping her wipe and wash hands. I am not okay with leaving a trail of little puddles as we travel, a sort of “we were here” sign. Believe me, I’ve experienced it before and don’t really want a repeat. The funny thing about toilet training is that even if you have done it before, it feels like the first time. Every child responds differently to a reward/punishment system. You have to figure out what will motivate your child to want to use the toilet. Our first daughter earned points for accomplishing different toileting tasks, along with points for staying clean and dry for a certain amount of time. Our second daughter hated cleaning up her messes. She was the easiest to train. She also much preferred the feeling of underwear to diapers, and was especially sensitive to feeling wet and dirty. Our third? Right now what seems to work is a verbal cue that “princesses always use the toilet”, with the additional bonus of a chocolate coin when she uses the toilet appropriately. She wants to be a princess, and something about the chocolate coins really works with her. We tried marshmallows and mini oreos, but they didn’t have the same effect. Right now, I need to be brave and plan mini outings with her only in underwear, so she can be ready when we are traveling about. With a baby in tow, I feel a bit chicken about taking this step. The more children you have with you, the more difficult it can be to respond quickly to a toilet emergency. However, if I don’t and she is not ready when we start our travels, she most likely will regress back to using pull-ups all the time, and then not caring about using the toilet at all. Coming back from a major regression can be more difficult than the initial training phase. With all that said, I like to think of toilet training as a multi-step process. Everyone has their own way of going about it. And there are lots of resources to help when you decide to take the plunge. This is what I personally have found to be helpful.

  1. Preparation. Before you even begin to set your child upon a toilet for the first time, it is helpful to give them an idea of what it is all about. Let them view you or older siblings using the toilet, with a verbal explanation of what is happening, before you ask them to do anything. I do like to say something like, “You are getting so big! Soon you will learn to use the toilet, too, just like so-and-so.” I incorporate stories about using the toilet into our reading time. The two books I use are “The Potty Book for Girls” and “My Big Girl Potty”. I find them useful to reference when actually beginning the training. I also like to set out little toilets in the bathrooms so that they are not such a surprise and mystery when it is time to actually use them.
  2. There are many different methods for the actual “potty training” process. My advice is to research different methods, and then pick one and stick with. Make your expectations clear from the beginning. Try to remain calm. Positive reinforcement is much more helpful to the process than negative repercussions. Breathe. Remember it is difficult for the little ones, and expect it to take much longer than you expect. I have heard tales of children who go from untrained to no accidents in a single day. They are like mythical stories about unicorns. I hope to see one someday. I hope you see one someday, too.
  3. Stay vigilant and keep going. Never assume that they are “done” needing your help, especially when traveling. We have a rule while traveling that everyone has to try the toilet when anyone needs to use it. It cuts down on the number of bathroom trips, and the number of emergency bathroom trips.

DSC_0074When we are actually traveling with a recently toilet trained child, I’ve discovered that having several items with you makes it less of a hassle. Preparation, if just for your sanity’s sake, is essential to enjoying your trip.

  1. Always have at least a change of underwear and a plastic bag.
  2. Use pull-ups at night, even if your child is a potty star. Especially when there is a major time difference, little bodies don’t adjust quickly to an opposite schedule.
  3. Be aware that if you are traveling to a different climate, this will affect the frequency of when they need to go. For example, if traveling from a cool and humid temperate climate to a hot, dry desert, they will need the toilet less frequently.
  4. My new go to piece of traveling equipment, waterproof underwear. Even when my child is doing a great job of using the toilet when they need to, the waterproof underwear lessens my stress level. Sure, they might have an accident and have wet underwear, but they won’t be leaving a puddle behind at the Natural History Museum.

What tips do you have for traveling with a toilet training toddler? Good luck everyone (including me)! Happy summer traveling!

The Best Jungle Cruise

Disneyland Hong Kong Castle

Disneyland Hong Kong Castle

After our recent trip to Disneyworld, I’ve been thinking about all our trips to Disney Parks. I fondly remember our trip to Disneyland in Hong Kong. It is a smaller park than the other Disney parks we’ve been to, although it has undergone an expansion since we were there in 2011. It is much less crowded than the other Disney parks. And, there is the added fun travel factor of hearing and seeing Chinese everywhere in the park.

There is one thing that Disneyland Hong Kong does better than all the other Disney parks we’ve been to. The Jungle Cruise. Disneyland California has the classic version. Disneyworld in Florida has an upgraded version with an ancient temple you travel through in addition to the classic elements. Disneyworld Hong Kong has an awesome surprise ending. Do you want to know what it is? Watch a video of it here.

Isn’t it an amazing end to the ride? We were not expecting it when we first rode the Jungle Cruise. You can feel the heat of the flames shooting out of the rock formations, and it is hot! The Jungle Cruise was our favorite thing in Hong Kong Disneyland.

There were a couple of other great surprises in store for us, too. During the parades, they will actually invite some of the children to dance in the parade with some of the characters. Our oldest daughter was able to dance in the luau section of the parade.

752She was a little nervous at the time, but so happy she did it afterwards! Where else do you get a chance to dance in a Disney parade? I think we might have to go back and do it again when she is older so she will actually remember the experience, instead of just seeing it in pictures. Since Hong Kong itself is a great destination, I don’t think I’ll have a hard time convincing the rest of the family that we need to go back.

In all the parts of Hong Kong we visited, people loved to take pictures with our kids, of our kids, sometimes they would just pick them up and hold them. This was especially true at Disneyland. Our youngest at the time had very blond hair. I remember waiting in the line for Winnie the Pooh, and people kept passing her down the line so they could all have turns to take pictures with her. A little unnerving, but thankfully everyone was really sweet to our children the entire time we were there.

726So, for an amazing Jungle Cruise experience, and a whole lot of other fun, take a day or two to visit Hong Kong Disneyland if you’re in the area.

Long Live the Doman Sun!

I always find it amazing how family jokes and memories grow until they sometimes have their own identity. A catchword or catchphrase will be created and become a key to unlock a treasure chest full of memories and experiences that each member of the family cherishes.

The first time our family went to Disneyworld our oldest daughter was two, and her younger sister was only six weeks old. My husband had a job interview in Orlando, so we decided to go to Disneyworld for just one day. It was a very cold, blustery January day, and the park was very empty. It’s a Small World never had a long line. We could almost just walk onto the ride. Because our two year old loved it, and because it was much warmer inside riding the ride, we rode it something like eight times that day.

Our two year old was a very advanced speaker for her age. After our trip to Disneyworld, we would hear her singing “It’s a Small World” to herself. We noticed something a little peculiar. Every time she got to the part about the golden sun, she would sing doman (sounds like doe-man, with a stress on the first syllable). She was very consistent.

The Golden Sun from It's a Small World Ride, Disneyworld, courtesy of themeparks.about.com

The Golden Sun from It’s a Small World Ride, Disneyworld, courtesy of
themeparks.about.com

After a while, we asked her why she was singing doman, instead of golden. She very seriously informed us that the sun was “doman colored”, not golden. We told her we had never heard of doman colored. What does it look like? She said it has a little bit of golden in it. It took us months to convince her that the song actually said golden sun. It was a little sad to see her finally accept that the line is “golden sun”.

Fast forward about five years, and our family recently returned to Disneyworld. Our children love to hear stories about themselves, and we love to tell them. So, while we were at Disneyworld we told the story of the doman colored sun. Now seven years old, she thought it was hilarious. And her five year old sister was tickled by the whole thing.

We returned home from Disneyworld, and one day I found our five-year old looking at the book “The Day the Crayons Quit”. In the book, yellow crayon and orange crayon are mad and not speaking to each other. They each think they are the color of the sun, and cite evidence of when they were used to color the sun as rational for their behavior. I came into the room, and she turned and looked at me. Then she said, “Mom, the yellow crayon and orange crayon are so silly.” At this point, I was expecting her to say something about how their fighting was silly, since we had been talking a lot lately about how people fight about lots of silly things. But no, she continues on very seriously with an exasperated air, “Don’t they know the sun is doman colored?”

And the doman sun lives on.

Concrete Poetry, Without the Concrete Part

To be honest, I really struggled with trying to come up with an idea for a poem that made sense to me also as an image. I came up with nothing. So, I decided to work just with the enjambment and animal prompt ideas. My little girls love unicorns. When they were really little “The Last Unicorn” was one of their favorite movies. We took them to see the tapestries at the Cloisters Museum that were the inspiration for the story. If you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend taking the time if you are in the NYC area. The Cloisters is a small branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art located up by Fort Tryon Park in Inwood. There is a bus that goes from the Met up to the Cloisters. Taxis sometimes have a difficult time finding it.

"The Unicorn in Captivity" courtesy of www.metmuseum.org

“The Unicorn in Captivity” courtesy of http://www.metmuseum.org

And here is my poem, inspired by my daughters and their love of the unicorns.
In ancient tales, men searched far and wide for the elusive
UNICORN
Tempted forth from family and home by the power
of her horn
Only virtuous maids, both noble and good, were sought out by this beast
Their sweet, pure souls would call them forth, as one starving to a feast
While in present day, the unicorn lives
only in stories and in myths
Seeking the virtues of the maid and beast are a noble, worthwhile
quest
Once a search that throughout the world wandered far and wide
A different journey greets us now, one that dwells inside

Hong Kong: A High Flying Box of Terror

852Shrouded in mists on a mountain top on Lantau Island sits the Tian Tian Buddha. The largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world exudes a sense of peaceful welcome, even while towering over the surrounding valleys and mountains. One of the ways to reach Ngong Ping Village and see the Tian Tian Buddha is to risk crossing Lantau Island in a cable car, a box of glass and metal suspended only be a series of cables gracefully arcing over water and land.

The Ngong Ping cable car was not my first experience with a cable car. About a year previously we had ridden the Sandia Peak Tramway outside of Albuquerque. I read that it was one of the longest cable cars in the world, and was so excited to ride to the top of the mountain. I’m usually not that scared of heights. Flying in planes doesn’t bother me; hiking near steep mountain drop-offs doesn’t usually bother me. So, I was unprepared for the terror that I would feel as our cable car soared out over jagged rocks, slowly moving up the side of the Sandia Peak. While my then almost two year old exhilarated in the ride up the side of the mountain, I sat crouched down on the floor of the cable car trying not to envision the precariousness of a single cable holding up the cable car with a drop below onto jagged rocks that would almost certainly mean instant death if something went wrong. Meanwhile, my delighted little girl giggled and said, “Pick me up, mama! Pick me up!” So, I alternated between holding her up and cringing in terror.

When I heard about the Ngong Ping Cable Car, I wanted to ride it. Why, you may ask? I think I’m addicted to new and unique  experiences, especially if they are travel related. If it’s the longest, biggest, highest or most beautiful I want to give it a try. Terror settled in my stomach as I remembered riding the Sandia Peak Tramway, but how could I resist soaring over Lantau Island on my way to see the Tian Tian Buddha? Even if I was terrified the entire time? When I expressed concern about being scared, my sweet little girl smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’ll help you and protect you.” At that point I knew that even if I was afraid, I would face my demons and ride that cable car. Especially when I could simultaneously teach my little girl about facing fears. And give her the chance to let her kind little heart shine in helping me overcome mine.

844The wait to ride the cable car was actually rather long. I think we stood in line for an hour and a half. That was somewhat unexpected, and the long wait made me more nervous. Finally, it was our turn to board. The Ngong Ping cable car sailed gently out of the station and out over the South China Sea. Maybe it was the bravery and kindness of my sweet little girl, maybe it was the more horizontal journey that reminded me of clouds blowing gently through the sky, or maybe the length of the ride gave me time to work through my fear, but the ride was actually very enjoyable. We passed over water and mountains. Ancient foot trails along the ridges of the mountains were visible below us. The water sparkled when the sun managed to peak out from behind the clouds. Our family had a relaxing (eventually) time together talking and singing as we sailed through the sky. I almost wish I had been brave enough to ride one of the cars with a glass bottom. If we ever go back, I think I’ll give it a try.

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