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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Ahhh…home.

We finally found our way home yesterday after a wonderful vacation to Corolla, NC in the Outer Banks.   This was our fourth annual trip with my mother in law and brother-in-law (who I am lucky enough to love) and I think they get better every time (the trips, I mean, not the in-laws).

Anyway.

We had nearly perfect weather including one cloudy day in the middle of the week, which fell at the ideal time for all of us as it forced us out of the sun and into the local shops, onto the go-karts and mini-golf course, out to lunch and onto the docks of the Currituck Sound for some blue-crabbing (a favorite annual activity).

So, you might remember that we made the decision (read:  HUSBAND made the decision and I complained about and dreaded it for months) to wake up in CT at 3:00 am and drive the 9+ hours to North Carolina rather than fly this year.  I mean, I really dreaded it.  I dreaded it like I dread a dentist appointment or a pap smear.  Maybe more than I dread either.  Maybe more than I would dread both.  At the same time.

Last night, Husband asked me if I had a blog all cooked up about the trip and I said (truthfully) that I really didn’t.  My photos are already posted on FB, my brain is mush and I wasn’t feeling particularly creative.  His response was that today would probably be an appropriate time to confess to the cyber world that I was wrong and he was right.  Because I had absolutely no faith that the children in the car (including two that are always children and four that only sometimes act like they are) would behave themselves.  I would have bet my TiVo on the fact that there would be much crying, complaining and carrying on.   9+ hours of crying, complaining and carrying on.  Good times, good times.

Ready?  Here it is.

I was wrong.

The children (all six of us) were very well-behaved.  Sleeping much of the trip, playing games (I packed a large bag of surprises), singing and snacking.  It was all a very, very pleasant surprise for me.  Husband was a patient, non-aggressive, accommodating driver.  Mother-in-law was her usual helpful, generous, sweet self — propping pillows for Little Brother, distributing snacks and frequently rescuing wayward toys dropped from his reach in the car seat.  Brother in law (stuck in the way back with Big Brother) was quietly snoozing when not plugged-in with movies on his iPhone — deftly handling a very chit-chatty (“Can I play with your phone?…Can I play with your phone?…Can I play with your phone?”) Big Brother for nearly 20 total car hours all in.  I was a proud Mommy.   We will certainly save the $$ and drive again next year.  And probably forever after that.

It’s such a great vacation spot.  Unspoiled but accessible.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in straying from the usual Massachusetts go-to spots like Cape Cod, Nantucket or Democratic Presidents Vacationland otherwise known as MV.   Check out http://www.twiddy.com for rental houses.   (And no, sadly, they aren’t giving me a deal for recommending them.)

Only 356 days until we head back.  I can’t wait.

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Nothing of much importance to say today.  Just a little of this and a little of that.

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I married a man who believes a week-long family vacation in an RV is a great idea.  I’ve been fighting it tooth and nail since the day we married.   Remember in my last post I referred to Husband as Clark, as in Clark Kent?  Well, apparently there’s a little Clark, as in Griswald, too.   It all sounds god-awful to me, frankly, what with the bugs, the cold nights, cramped spaces and all.  If I’m in a car for a long time, it’s so that I can get somewhere I really want to be.   Like, a suite with a Heavenly Bed and room service.  Lord knows, I don’t really want to be at a campsite surrounded by a bunch of other RV’ers.

Unfortunately, wise Husband has Big Brother all fired up about the idea and whatever Big Brother wants, Little Brother wants so…sigh…I’m out numbered by three boys I love.  It appears to be happening sometime in July.  I’m trying to look at the bright sides.

  • It’s bound to produce decent blog content.
  • He’ll owe me.  Big.
  • There are a good two months between the trip and the start of school.  Which means the entire trip will be long forgotten and is, therefore, unlikely to make it into the kids’ “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” stories.

Stay tuned, folks.

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Cutie pie Lee DeWyze won American Idol.  Which I love.  Because I was all about Lee DeWyze.  I was all about him despite the fact that he got completely screwed in the season finale with stupid, lame-o songs.  Telling someone they need to raise the energy level and then asking them to sing “Everybody Hurts” is like telling a birthing mother to relax during a contraction.  Shut up.  Not cool.

You go, Lee.   Atta boy.

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Howard Stern should be the next American Idol judge.

* * * * *

No one loves Paula Abdul more than Paul Abdul loves Paula Abdul.

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Big Brother starts kindergarten next year.  I’m sure I’ll get all sentimental about this for you in upcoming blogs…probably sometime after I get over the fact that I just sent in my check for public school kindergarten tuition.   Did you catch that?  Public school.  Tuition.  Makes me a little crazy.

* * * * *

I’m getting old.  Today I discovered that Samantha from “Sex & the City” and I finally have something in common.  If you’re a fan, you’ll know what I mean.  If you aren’t, I’m not spelling it out for you.

* * * * *

This dopey dog on my floor made me laugh today.

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This poor bird in the Gulf made me want to cry.

What the hell is going on?  How can this still be getting worse?   It’s unfathomable.

* * * * *

I wish I was friends with Brody Jenner.  Husband laughs at me about this but he totally wants to be friends with Pat Sajak which I think makes him even geekier that I am.

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I think NBC is afraid to tell Jerry Seinfeld that The Marriage Ref sucks.

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Why is it that my 5-year old, while peeing, will look all around in every other direction but is apparently incapable of actually looking down at where the hell he’s pointing that thing?  Good Lord, child.  Pay attention.

* * * * *

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.  Try to take just a little break from all the awesomeness that is the official start of summer and remember our fallen soldiers.

Enjoy it.

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We’re done having kids.  Officially.  We made the decision to call it quits after our second and, as I was having a scheduled c-section, the logistics around closing up shop were simple.  My family is complete.

Two boys.  Three years apart.  And, at ages 5 and 2, they are becoming closer friends every day.  They worship Dad but need Mommy.  They snuggle and love and climb up onto my lap and they give me everything I have ever needed and allow me now to sit back with a contented sigh and say, “Yup.  This is it.  All I need.”
And, really, I have not for one honest moment, had a second thought about the decision not to expand the clan further.  I mean, sure, I love the feeling of a sleeping baby on my chest, the smell of their hair, the sound of their gentle breath.  But, most of time I remember that I’m terrified that their gel-like necks will break, that they’ll wake up and wail or that colic will force me to the local pharmacy for Xanax.  I adore children but babies, more or less, terrify me.  And, frankly, Ross and I are finally getting real sleep again (until 8 am on Saturday!).  We have trusted sitters and can go out to dinner without worry.   I can take a shower when both kids are awake and know that they won’t choke on a marble while I’m gone.  We’re about six months from never changing a diaper again.  We’re in the groove.  Start over?   No, thank you.
But, we went on vacation last week with some friends.  They also had two kids.  A little boy who was all boy.   Like, banging into walls, rough and tumble, crazy, funny little man.   A boy.  
But.   They also had Alex.  And, Alex is “little girl” without being excessively girly.  She’s sweet but not wimpy.   She was chatty but not precocious.  She was 3 1/2 but kept right up with my 5 year old.  She took a liking to Ross, which melted my heart over and over again — snuggling up to him on the couch, dog-paddling him down in the pool, giggling at his attention.  I don’t know how many times I picked up teeny, tiny little princess doll shoes and scooped them into a small pile and I loved it every time.  A little girl.  Cutie pie.  Her parents have done a nice job with her.  And, I was, admittedly, a little jealous.   
I bought her a little pink princess bracelet at Disney and could have gotten her about a million other little things throughout the trip.  Because there are so many cute girl things out there in little person land.  And basically nothing for boys if you aren’t desperately seeking some ridiculous sailor suit or a black t-shirt with hideously gaudy designs.
Still, I’m reminded of one of my very favorite lines about having boys versus girls.  It came to me from a male friend in Vermont who has only daughters.  A father of two boys once said to him:
“You know what, man?  I have to worry about two penises.  But, YOU have to worry about the rest of them.”
I wouldn’t change my mind, of course.  I love my boys madly and they (in the cheezy words of Jerry Maguire) complete me.   They have completed our little family.  But, last week, for just a few moments…
A girl.  
Shoot.

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When you go to Disney World without kids, as Ross and I did before we were married, all you notice are the people with strollers.  They’re everywhere.   Ev-er-y-where.  Without a stroller, you are the outsider.  And, while we still more or less enjoyed ourselves at the time, we sort of felt (not sadly) that we didn’t really belong at Disney World.  In hindsight, we had no idea how lucky we were.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It’s delightful to hear your children squeal and point when they first see Mickey.  It’s beautiful to watch their eyes turn teacup as they glide through the magical “It’s a Small World.”  Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Blah.

See, I’m a roller coaster person.   And, in the land of the world’s coolest roller coasters, know how many I went on last week?

Zip.  None.  Nada.      


Grrrr.

When you’re there with your two year old and your five year old, there’s no Space Mountain, there’s no Big Thunder Mountain and there’s no Splash Mountain.  At Sea World there will be no Manta and at Animal Kingdom there will be no Everest.   Harumph.   I’m already looking forward to when we go back in four or five years and my boys will be so psyched that their Mom wants to go on these rides.  Over and over, please.

Ross and his buddy, Bill, made it onto one cool ride, though.  Bill’s wife, Katie, and I encouraged them to hit a water-ride roller coaster type thing while we watched the kids.  The line looked shortish and there was a good spot where we knew we’d capture their faces with our cameras as they came down the steepest incline towards the water.  Kids at heart, they took us up on the opportunity.

Here’s the shot:

The guys are in the back.  Ross is on the left here with his arm in the air.  
They came off the ride wet and laughing like children.  It was great.   
“So,” we asked, “was it cool?”
“Oh, yeah!  We were laughing so hard.  Did you see our fellow passengers?” Snorting laughs to each other.
“Yeah, I mean, I guess so.  Kids, right?”
“Yeah…”     More snickering together.

It wasn’t until we were home and looking at the days photos that we took a closer look at all the shots from the water ride and really looked at the rest of the people in the boat.  And then, for some reason, we were all snickering.  Then, those deep belly laughs.  Then tears and hold your stomach doubling over laughs.  All four of us.  I don’t exactly know why it was so darn funny when we saw the actual kids.  The fellow passengers.  Their faces.  Ross and Billy sitting there behind them.  I don’t know.  But, damn, we laughed.
You be the judge.  

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Our kids are lucky enough to have two great-grandparents.  They have a great grandmother who lives in Houston and a great grandfather who lives in Melbourne, Florida.  I care very much about getting the boys to each of them as often as we can swing it financially and logistically, which sadly doesn’t make it happen often enough.   Both Grandma Schieffer (86, I think) and Papapa (90) are amazingly healthy and “with it”. They both live relatively independent lives in their own apartments within a larger care-taking complex.  I wish they didn’t live as far from each other as they do because I know they would really hit it off.

My grandfather is a lifetime military man.  He was a four-star Major General in WWII and continued to serve the Army at the Pentagon for many years after he returned.   He will, one sad day, join his wife in Arlington National Cemetery where he will receive full honors.  He was badass then and he’s badass now.  Just a very cool, no bullsh*t kind of guy.  He’s pretty near to being deaf and nearer to being blind although he doesn’t let either fate stop him from accomplishing just about anything.  In fact, he has a driver who brings him to a local community center to teach the blind how to more easily achieve their day to day tasks. (Toothpaste on your finger before the brush, spooning your food towards the center of your plate instead of to the outside, etc).  He teaches an exercise class in his complex and there’s a live bird in his act.  No kidding.   He listens to satellite radio, has a machine that scans and reads his newspapers and he is a religious baseball fan.   Ross and I were taking him to dinner one night a few years back and, in search of somewhere near to his home, we suggested The Outback.   His reply?  “Hmmm.  Isn’t that the place with ‘no rules’?  I don’t much like places with no rules.”   Like I said, a military man through and through.

So, anyway, we were all set to make the 90-minute drive to Melbourne from Kissimmee with the kids the day after our arrival to Florida.  We had planned it (with my wonderful Aunt Betsy who lives nearby) to the minute (military folks like schedules, you know).   We would depart by 9:30, arrive by 11, go to a nearby diner by 11:30 and beat feet, so as not to make the day too long for him,  by 1.   But kids, of course, can really screw up the best laid plans.

John developed a little cough a few days before we left.  By the time we got to Florida, he had a low grade fever (sorry JetBlue Flight 431 passengers!).   I texted my Aunt Betsy about it and said that unless  he took a turn for the worse we were still up for the trip but maybe bringing a sick kid around a 90-year old wasn’t a good idea?  She got in touch with him and got back me.  Silly me.  Did I actually think that a man who led troops and took incoming fire from thousands of enemy soldiers for somewhere between four and six years would be afraid of a two year old with a cough?  Heck no.  He told her he’d had his flu shot.  Bring it on.

Well, then John spent the entire first night in our bed not sleeping.  Just a hot sticky mass of kicking feet, whines, cries and coughs.   Fever was higher.   Definitely not a happy camper.  But, I really, really, really didn’t want to cancel.   So, on we pressed.  Got everyone (exhausted) into the car on time.  Stopped at a local Walgreens for some medicine.  Miraculously got miserable little John to take the medicine delivered by Mom from front seat to back.   Drove about 1/4 mile more and…yup…throw up.

On John.  On car seat.  On “Baa” (his precious bunny that goes everywhere with him when he’s not feeling right).

Change of clothes?  Um, no.

Handi-Wipes?  Check.   Much-too-hot John-sized sweatshirt in my bag?  Check.

Poor kid.  It was like we were torturing him.  He should have been home in bed or curled up on my lap or at the very least watching Yo Gabba Gabba on the couch.   But, it was Papapa.  Who had been waiting for and looking forward to this visit for months.  And so were we.  So, we clean up as best we can.  A stinky John is better than no John at all, right?

Onward.

(Hoping it isn’t true that when you lose one sense the others get stronger.  No sight, no sound…just SMELL!  Lucky you, Papapa.)


Amazingly, John rallied enough at our arrival to Southland Suites to come into my grandfathers room with an audible (even to Papapa) “Hi Papapa!” before crawling up onto my lap.  And, Will, as usual, did us proud with his high-pitched chatter and interest in all things new and touchable.  My brilliant Aunt Betsy made them “treasure boxes” — shells, sheriff badges, silver dollars in wooden cigar boxes — which held their attention for a while before we went out to lunch.

Lunch was a bit of a mess.  My kids ordered toast, which only Will ate.   John lost it (his mood, not his lunch) about halfway through so Ross and I took turns with him outside while everyone finished up.   We all put our best faces on but it was certainly not the trip we all hoped for.

I know that the most important part is that Papapa got to touch my kids, hear them talk, show them around a little to the people in his complex, and know that we love him and miss him and think of him often.  We wouldn’t miss a chance to be with him.  He’s an amazing man and I love him so much.

So it did my heart good when I heard that he recapped the trip to my Mom and told her that he was proud when Will shook his friend Henrietta Wakefield’s (Tim’s grandmother) hand when he met her.  And that John rushed in and said “Hi Papapa!” despite how how badly the little guy was feeling.  And he was glad we came.

Next time, Papapa.  Next time, it will be better.  Or…maybe not.

But, at least we’ll be together.

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