Sunday, August 23, 2009

the 1, 2, 3's of family vacations

I am vacationing with the Littles at the family cabin in Northern Minnesota. It's so beautiful. The lake is crystal clear. There are enough people near us that we don't feel lost. However, it is never a vacation for mom. It is crazy busy! And I love it.

For those of you who have never ventured into the Northwoods with a gaggle of little people, here is your primer:

One - canoe to the bridge.
8:42 AM
Note: must find 4 different sized life jackets to fit 4 different sized people. Fail to find an adult life jacket. Spend 20 minutes discussing the reasons why mom can sit on her life jacket and children must wear their life jackets.
Note: must find 2 paddles. One might have to use a kayak paddle. Teach oldest child the art of the J stroke. Give up. Just pray that the wind doesn't pick up so we can make it back to the cabin.
Note: Swimming at the sandy beach at the bridge really is fun when mommy finally decides to relax.

Two - race to the merry-go-round.
11:14 AM
note: Mommy does NOT ride this merry-go-round. It spans exactly 2 feet across resulting in approx 4000rpm.

Three - practice with the kayak. 12:02 PM
note: See one.
Note: Practicing with the Kayak only works with one child per Kayak. There can be no learning when one is balancing on the front end of the kayak.

12:14 PM
Four - dig in sand & create amazing 4 story sand castle.

Note: Can't find sand toys. Make do with large spoons from drawer. Don't forget to return them after beach time.
Note: avoid sand fleas. Don't forget the pain and tears of last year.

Five - set up and play badminton.
12:27 PM
Note: give up on the beach idea. Sand flea idea is too scary. No one willing to put knees or fingers in the sand. Must find all pieces to assemble badminton net. Must find mallet to hammer the spikes into the solid clay. Must find 4 badminton rackets. Settle for 3 rackets and one tennis racket that is missing most of its strings. Mom gets tennins racket. Must find 2 birdies. Must retrieve birdies from roof of cabin or branches of trees multiple times. Smile.

Six - snarf down lunch. 3:32 PM
Note: it's 3:32 PM. Mom forgot that small children need to eat lunch. Bonus: When we eat this late, children will eat anything.
Note: Did mom also forget the sunscreen? We'll see.

4:00 PM
Seven - start fire in fire pit at beach.

Note: Time to start dinner. Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and anything else that will cling to a stick over a crackling fire.
Note: When lunch is served at 3:32 PM, children won't eat hotdogs that are roasted at 4:20 PM. Haul all of the leftovers back up to the cabin. Save the hotdogs for fishing off the dock tomorrow morning. Yes, children, some fish will eat hot dogs.

5:30 PM
Eight - pour large cocktail and collapse into the lawn chair.

Note: This is only for the Mom! Children get water, milk or juice.

nine, ten and 11 - kids are on their own.
Note: This should need no explanation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

uff da!

Uff Da!

For those of you not from these parts, that's a really tame way of saying "Holy F***ing s***!

It's been one of those days.

I had full on kid duty today. And yesterday. And the week before that.

I know. Boo hoo hoo. Poor me.

OK, here's the deal. I USED to be a full time, stay-at-home mom. It kicked my butt. I loved it, but - yeouch! Then, Daddyman and I switched places. I got a job I love, he gave up one he didn't. I got really used to going to work, being with grown-ups, getting stuff done on a pretty regular basis, and then being the superhero when I'd walk in the door at the end of the day. Not a bad gig!

Then, summer. Ahhhh. Summer. Scrumptuous, sensuous, languid summer. I dreamed of days in the garden and lounging by the pool and days at the beach... Ahhhh.

Reality check: Daddyman's work schedule picked up just as my vacation started. I became a stay-at-home mom. A SINGLE stay-at-home mom!

I have tried to keep everyone happy and entertained and educated. We've been to 476 cabins. OK, not really, just seems like 476 cabins when a person spends that much time in a car with three uber chatty girls and a panting black lab as we voyage to and from a variety of midwestern cabins. I have traipsed, picnic basket in hand, to various and sundry stay-cation sights - we've seen live music and waterfalls and rode ridiculous 4 seated bikes. We've eaten every kind of fair food know to exist in the free world. We've held lemonade stands on rainy days. We've celebrate birthdays and chased down ice cream trucks after searching frantically through couch cushions and pants pockets for forgotten change. We've bog walked and kayaked and tubed and tripped the light fantastic through every sprinkler in the metro area. We've "camped" in the back yard when it was warm and the basement when it was too hot.

And again I say, YEOUCH!

So, to all of you stay-at-home parents - I raise my glass to you. My glass that is very full of bourbon and diet coke. I'm just tryin' to survive after a couple of long, long days. Long rainy days.

Kicked. My. Butt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I've been taking classes this last week. They are focused on Responsive Classroom. All of you elementary school teachers out there might want to look into this educational theory. It's pretty amazing.

One of the tools we are using is a book called Yardsticks. It's a wonderful book that explains, in detail, the developmental growth -year by year - of children 4 years of age through 14 (?) years of age! It has not only helped me in my teaching, but it has helped me in my parenting.

So, tonight, instead of absolutely loosing my mind over my 7 year old - I pulled out the book, checked on a couple of things, took a deep breath and proceeded without freaking out! Hooray.

It's the small victories.

Monday, August 10, 2009


So, today wasn't so bad, as far as mondays go.

Daddyman purchased a ticket with "found" money. His boss, the one we've heard some not-so-nice-things about (not his clown boss, the other one...) actually paid him - well - for his work this month. He's been dabbling in stand up comedy, and he's run the room at a local bar/hotspot! I am very proud of him!

I guess that I should back up just a little bit.

And I'm getting off track!

Daddyman's bonus dad passed away last Friday. Bonus Dad hasn't been well for awhile and we've been waiting for the phone call. Apparently, BD got up in the morning, had his usual - cookies and coffee - then he went back to bed. He passed on while he was sleeping. Not a bad way to go, I guess.

But it does lead to the question: what was in those cookies?

I have no idea! I just know that when it's my time, I want me some of them cookies.

Meanwhile, we've fretted and worried about how to send him out to Philly to be with his family. Where would the money come from? What would we do about babysitters? How would it all work out?!

Well, the world can be a wonderful place! The boss paid Daddyman, plus gifted him with "extra" money from The Actor's Emergency Fund! Very generous, indeed.

Then, Papa gave Daddyman a couple thousand bonus miles to lower the flight of the airfare. Again, very generous!

Daddyman will fly out to Philly on Wed. and stay with his mama, sisters and brother, and aunties and uncles and cousins - big Irish Catholic family - through the weekend and return home to us on Monday.

So, as Mondays go... this one was pretty good. I expect that NEXT Monday will be a good one, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

i love Julia

Noni and I watched Julia on PBS this morning. She was making omelets. First, I must say just how much I admire her sense of humor and the absurd. Then, she makes everything look super easy.

So, we watched and our mouths were watering. What's a girl to do? We marched our littles selves into the kitchen and made omelets! The swirling and the flipping. We all cheered - we did it! They were REALLY good. So good, in fact, that they didn't stay on the plate long enough for photos.

Noni: "Mom, these are so good! They taste like egg marshmallows!"

We love you Julia!

a long time...

wow. It's been a really long time.
It's been a perfectly rotten spring and winter. Now, normally, I hate blogs that people spend all of their time complaining - who cares, really? But I need to get it out of my system so that I can move forward.

In November, we hit two deer with our lovely family mini-van. TWO! At the same time! yes, it wrecked the van. Nope - we'd let the insurance lapse. Yes - big mistake. No - we didn't do it on purpose!

So, we were thankful that we'd purchased a ridiculously cheep vovlo station wagon. Yep - that was a mistake. Nope - didn't want to run. Door came open on the highway. Ava was sitting inches from the asphalt during rush hour. TERRIFYING! Driving to Thanksgiving - car began to smoke - inside the cab! Had the car towed. Needs a new engine. Car guy says, don't bother! It's not worth it.

So, we were thankful to purchase a car from a friend. Yes - another mistake. This car does not start in the rain. When a person really needs to drive. Oh, another joy - we can't fit all of us in this car. What a great purchase.

I don't think the car gods like us very much.

So, we were thankfully allowed to borrow my father's car. Thanks, Daddy.

Then, through the holidays, jobs came and went. quickly. Then, I was told that my contract would not be renewed. Cant we talk stress? I never thought that I would feel that kind of desperate, stomach clutching fear. I am usually the optimist. Things will always get better. But I've got to tell you, I've got some serious worries about how we're going to get out of this mess!

Long story short - I've been hired back into my job. The joy is that I will be returning to the district as a tenured teacher. I think this is what I want. In some ways, I feel like I've missed a chance to reinvent myself.

This winter/spring/summer has kicked my ass. Hard! I am going to have to reinvent myself, but I still feel sort of stuck. I hate being stuck at home. ALL OF THE TIME. Daddy man has hit his midlife crisis hard - he's exploring the world of stand up comedy. He's very good. But he's not making much money and it's taking most of his time. That means that I am the one at home all night long. I feel resentful and lonely. He's got a brand new social life that he can't wait to get out the door to be a part of, and I'm home - alone with kids and no car - yet again! It really sucks. I want him to be happy, but I wonder when it will be my turn to do something fabulous, instead of always being the practical one!?

OK enough complaining. THank you for letting me vent. I will return to happier thoughts soon. Maybe tonight.