How To Leave Your Vacation in 10 Steps (Vacation Days 7/8)

Sweet Connecticut!!!!

(Aaaand, now I’m going to have This Song in my head the rest of the week.)

We are finally home after leaving Virginia Beach yesterday and coloring all over the dining room mirrors of my friend’s house where we stayed the night.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s “how to leave your vacation” in 10 easy steps:

1: Recognize the signs that you and your children are going into vacation insanity mode caused by lack of consistent sleep and routine. (Hanging off the coffee table while watching TV…check!)  2: Plan a family photo shoot the day before you leave.  Expect to take 80 or so shots of your kids, and leave with 1 or 2 that are…well…better growling than not looking at all.

3: Assess all the things that you had once packed so carefully…breathe in… and haphazardly shove them into the nearest available suitcase. Suck it up! Now is not the time to cry over a little disorganization!!

4: Walk your kids down to the beach to say “good-bye”.  Your desire to stare longingly out over the beautiful, rippling water will be cut short by your boys running away from you.  You should probably catch them, even though they’re being punks and they can totally hear you yelling at them to come back. Ahem.

5: Start your trip carefully following your phone’s GPS and trustingly believe it when it says the “accident in the tunnel” will only cause you an 11 minute delay.  After waiting in dead standstill traffic for 5 minutes, turn around in a mostly legal way. Er.  Close enough.  (It will take you months to trust your GPS again…but with therapy you’ll make it.) Pull over to take a depressing family picture while your husband researches a new route.) 

6: Regroup at a cute little rest area complete with lawn art and a toddler sized toilet.  (Decide to use the toddler toilet because frankly the bathroom line is unnecessary.) Be careful to avoid the “wet floor” signs…they’re kind of subtle.

Step 7: After some crazy rain and flash flooding, finally make it to your overnight stay at a friend’s house.  Let the kids run amok in her home and obsess over their exotic door mail slot.  

Step 8: Take your time in the morning to properly release your family chaos all over your friend’s peaceful townhouse.  Allow your friends to cook you an amazing breakfast and drool over the delicious Croatian leftovers they generously send you home with.

Step 9: Stop about an hour away from home to grab a bit to eat.  In an irritated attempt to find your son’s shoes that he likely threw during a moment of car rage, inadvertently drop the soft cooler that’s holding your new coffee mug.  Take a moment to mourn your loss. Step 10: Power through that last hour of trip and then beam briefly at your trip odometer.  Not too shabby.  Now, quit smiling and get inside to start unpacking and dealing with the post-trip melt-downs. These are simply signs that you’re alive and made it.  

(We loved VA, but it’s good to be back CT.  For those who survived all of our mini-vacation episodes…thanks so much for sharing this adventure with us.  It’s been a blast!)

Sincerely,

~Carrye

Hiding from Vacation (Vaca Day 6)

Well CT,

Tomorrow we’ll be returning to you and I’m starting to feel it.  The “it” of swimming in anything but normal, without the floatie of routine or consistency.  I’m feeling the lack of sleep, and questioning the sanity of my decision to combine a back to back late evening of gaming with my whim to catch the 5:55am sunrise.  I’m struggling with the oddness of seeing my husband every day and not remembering the last full conversation we had because although Virginia is for lovers, family vacation is not.  (The top scintillating conversations we’ve had so far this week are: “Did you put sunscreen on the kids, or was I supposed to?” and “I think I saw a jellyfish in the water.”)  In looking through our pictures, I found an unfortunate trend.  Let’s see if you can figure it out:

(Ummm, yeah, you can ignore that last picture my son took of me pretending to be attacked by a giant lobster statue…) But the common denominator for all the OTHER pictures above is simply that my husband and I aren’t in any of the pictures together because we’re always tag-teaming kid duty.  I actually think the fine-print on all family vacation contracts stipulates that couples-only pictures are strictly prohibited, with the exception of dude ranch trips or travel to Ohio and Yemen.)

As my mom said today, vacation feels like its supposed to be a delicious mini-slice of heaven on earth, and yet we’ll always be falling a bit short of perfection.  (Even with delicious food, precious family fun, surf and java.)

And eventually something about the relaxation of vacation actually draws a renewed desire for something truly purposeful and intentional in our pre-trip lives.  With any luck we leave paradise with a piece of peace, a reminder to slow long enough to savor people over agendas, and a vision of our smallness in the midst of vast creation that gives us fresh taste of humility’s wisdom.

But I’m not sure my emotions have quite caught up to all that wisdom, so for the next few minutes I’ll just finish hiding from vacation here in the AC without the kids.  I’m like a chameleon; I’m blending so well with the wall art I bet you can’t even see me.If you can’t spot me, don’t worry.  You can catch me in person in a couple days.

~Incognito Carrye

 

 

Three Ships to Neptune (Vaca Day 5)

Hi Again CT,

Miss us yet?  It’s been five days, not that you’re counting or anything.  Virginia decided today that we’d hung out together enough for her to be vulnerable and really be herself…so we got a scorcher.We might brave the beach later.  You know, at midnight or something when we its really too dangerous to swim, but we won’t succumb to heat-induced irritability syndrome.  (And I’m probably the most susceptible to that particular ailment.)

So instead, we took to the sea more figuratively…by checking out a nearby coffee roastery called “Three Ships“.  (Its named after the 3 ships of the Virginia Company of London that set sail in 1606 and landed here at modern day Virginia Beach.)

I’ll be honest…we didn’t all love it.  My middle child felt it was a necessary place to come unglued and take an undying oath to be miserable.  (And apparently the breathtaking smells of java and comfort food were offensive to his untrained nose.) So he and his dad checked out the hip umbrellas outside.Inside, the other kids happily ordered their iced “kid cappuccinos” (an actual coffee-free item on the menu),

And then we all sat and slurped our ice beverages, because when in Rome…And to my Avocado on Brioche, may I just say in a bad paraphrase…(Sorry in advance, Carly Rae) “Hey…I know we just became acquainted, and this is absolutely insane…but I’d love to give you my digits…so…you know, give me a ring sometime, perhaps.” 

Once my husband pried me away from coffee heaven, we headed to my son’s vision of a perfect outing: a trip to see the statue of Neptune at Neptune’s Park.  Because what could a 6 year old boy love more than checking out an oversized muscular hero awkwardly clutching a sea turtle.But although King Tritan here perked up my boys, my wave crashing daughter apparently does not do so well in heat without water.  So we stopped for a quick pick-me-up at a candy shop where we found this random squid…and such delectably unique treats as this…And do you know what my kids first choices were????  Jelly beans and a ring pop.  Pure and generic sugar over high-quality chocolate novelty.  Where did we go wrong as parents??  Anyway, that irrational candy decision making must have been exhausting, because two out of three fell fast asleep on the way back to our beach house.  And a 66.6% napping ratio is about as likely as finding a winning lottery ticket in a dolphin’s mouth.  And that rare miracle, friends, is how vacation is supposed to be done.  Until tomorrow…

Calm, cool and coffeed up…Carrye

 

Son of a Beach (9 Problems With Paradise: Vaca Day 4)

Don’t judge me CT….I love the ocean- really I do.  But there are just a few minor issues I have with paradise.  So I made a quick list:1. Rental coffee cups. (The one of the left.) For some reason, most of the lake-house or cottage rentals I’ve been in are stocked with coffee cups the size of thimbles.  I know we’re on vacation and everyone should be perky and happy but for. the. love.  I have three good pint-sized reasons to require heavy amounts of java regardless of the situation.  The mini-cup is “cute” in an itty bitty baby romper kind of way (aww…) but cute isn’t going to keep me awake.  So my husband picked me up a slightly larger model to try on for size.  And yes.  It is making me Awesome.

2: Beach crabs.  OK, they’re actually pretty cool and probably don’t belong on this list.  But this morning when I woke up early to catch some sunrise and read and I noticed all these little holes in the sand.Next thing  I know, I’m catching sneaky ghost crab movement out of the corner of my eye and a bunch of these little guys prairie dogging out, flinging sand.Not creepy all by itself…but I definitely got a little bit of that Hitchcock’s The Birds vibe from the whole thing.  Or maybe that scene from Jurassic Park when the tiny dinosaurs nibble that guy to his death.

3: STUPID ICE CREAM TRUCK!!!!  OK, does anyone else feel like ice cream trucks are the last legally acceptable form of child-stalking?  They started showing up at my kids’ school earlier this summer and my kids are well-aware that I’m not forking over the money.  The whole world can be at peace and then that irritating carnival music starts filtering in, hazy at first, and the kids melt faster than the ice-cream.  There’s a truck seriously patrolling our block and I’m afraid I’m going to forever have gorgeous beach scenes (like the one below from this morning) eerily tangled up with some creepy version of “It’s a Small World”.  Not cool.4: Shaving.  People, if you don’t know by now, I’m pretty low-maintenance in the beautification department.  I air-dry my hair and my shower schedule is more based around whether I wake up in time than on cleanliness.  (Now you know my shame.)  Anyway…who has time to stay beach shaved all the time?  I see all these apparently “normal” people who seem quite capable of smooth-leg upkeep…not this girl.  Hence my swim shorts and stubble-forgiving flowy bathing suit top.  Moving on before I say too much.

5: Billiards.  No, I’m not condemning billiards, you’ll have to watch Music Man for that.  I’m just saying I don’t play often…in fact, virtually only on vacation at this point. 

So when I played pool with my 6 year old today I had a whole bunch of ugly false starts.  Bad. I finally and proudly hit a ball in a pocket (kind of the idea) and that jerk of an 8-ball followed suit and fell in too.  Then my husband came to watch us and got a front row seat to my embarrassment.  Painful.

6: Photo ops.  I have a little issue with expectations.  I’m sure eventually these expectations are going to create an extensive money-making opportunity for some therapist out there.  And one of my expectations of vacations is that we document with photos. I don’t expect perfect pictures- I don’t need my kids to be matching or smudge free.  But it would be nice if everyone were looking, or heck even just angled slightly towards the camera.  And maybe if every pose wasn’t a growl or a karate chop move.  I don’t know.  Just saying. 7: Diabetes + Beach = LAME.  I won’t go into the whole dramatic sob-story of all my diabetes related fears, but let’s just say it complicates beaching.  You have to bring all this medical junk with you, and somehow I feel like I’m a bathing suit model for a hospital.  Maybe if I stuck a bow on my pump.  Eh. That and everyone and their mother is eating ice cream in front of me.  (Obviously not from the truck.)  And sometimes you just really want to gorge yourself on ice cream, but I can’t.  So I drink coffee instead.  Which only perpetuates issue #1.  8: Sand. You can really only tell your kids to “not throw sand” so many times. And its not even entirely their fault because the wind is a sneaky wingman and doesn’t leave a lot of safe places for shaking out beach toys.  But the eyes, children, for the love of all things sweet, watch out for the eyes!

9: ACDC.  Not the band, actually, I just made up a new acronym.  Air Conditioning Death Chill.  You know that amazing feeling you get when you walk out of the sweltering heat into the cool oasis bliss of an air-conditioned room?  And then, five minutes of AC later, you feel the need to check your children for frost-bite?  The back and forth hot to cold is just confusing. I packed for the beach weather, just not for the AC.

Well.  That’s all for now.  Wishing you peaceful, balmy weather as wonderful as ours here.  And maybe a little less sand?

~Carrye

Beach Blitz Breakdown (Vaca Day 3)

Hey CT…

Short post today- this Mom is tired.  I thought I’d break down the way my 3 kids have tackled this beach thing.   Youngest to Oldest, here goes:

My 3 year old:

This normally fearless kid has always been highly suspicious of water.  No lie, he treated the bath like a torture chamber for the first 2 years of his life.  So the waves are a bit more than his constitution can handle; any time they knock him over he runs away to the safety of the beach blankets, deeply offended.  Still, he won’t admit defeat- plucky kid that he is- he prefers to chase the waves out like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, only to turn back around squealing when the waves go on the offensive.  This is pretty much his zone, right here… I think that might be a karate chop move…or he’s being batman.

My 6 Year Old…This kid is all laid-back goof.  The first day we were out in the waves, he laugh-screamed every time a wave broke over him, as though each one were a hysterical practical joke.  He has no clue that he’s not really catching the waves with his board, nor is he aware that he’s way overdressed for the ocean.  The kid is blissfully and happily himself. Beach hair and all. 

Last, there’s my newly 8 year old, who suddenly seems much older than that.  This. girl. is. a. wave. warrior.  From the moment she went out, she was playing for keeps.  She mastered catching baby waves with her board and she’s undaunted by setbacks.  The girl has been repeatedly tossed under, knocked over, and left gasping for air coughing up sea water with hair askew.  She somehow played rough enough with the waves to end up with a head-full of sand. (??!!) 

But she never quits.  The same girl who would rather play indoors than encounter a bee was clearly born for the beach.

Other than hitting the sand, I’ve been seriously wracking up bad-mom points with the amount of TV they’re watching…although its hard when there’s a tv in their room.…and I may lose face with some of you for letting the following nailpolish moment happen….

But all in all…we’re having a great time.  And I’m soaking up these smiles.

(Which reminds me, my husband bought me a new toothbrush today!! Better than flowers.)

Here’s to another fun day tomorrow,

Your high-volume-haired friend,Carrye

P.S.  Taking a break from “Gray Faith” study this week….will return with another video next Monday!!

Mom Vacation Confessions (Day 2)

Hello Again CT,

I really should have mentioned where we were headed in my last update.  Oops.  Mom details.  As I write this now, we’ve arrived at our destination: Virginia Beach!

Our morning in the hotel was basically…

The Good: The waffle machine worked!!  Free unlimited eggs and breakfast sausage are always a win.  My children even adored the awkwardly frozen-fruit. 

The bad: I had to choose between “bold” and “gourmet” hotel coffee.  What does that even mean?  Can’t I have a bold gourmet without having to mix the two?  Then, my 3 year old gagged on a partially frozen hardboiled egg, and my husband was exiled to a neighboring breakfast table because nothing about hotels is made for a family with more than 2 kids.

The ugly:  Kids don’t readily absorb concepts like “someone is sleeping in the room next door” or “you can’t run up the hotel stairs alone”.  So we spent a large amount of time chasing and whisper-shouting at them, which culminated in me completely snapping at my son in a way that, really any way you spin it, I sound like a jerk.  But if he tells you I used a bad word, that word was “punk”… which was just so accurate a descriptor at the time that my mouth forgot to filter it. 

Moving on.

After refueling, I started looking for a Starbucks. I kid you not, it seemed we passed one every 20 miles in NJ, but upon crossing the state line, there was a sudden Starbucks dearth.  To my credit, I did not find it necessary to drive 20 minutes out of our way for coffee.

Not-so-much-to-my-credit, I researched coffee roasteries on our route and found an amazing one in a quaint little town where

I briefly lost sight of our end destination.  This was one of those little hipster corners just into Virginia with artsy brick buildings and lights rigged up fancy in the trees.  (Notice the fake flowers tied on the branches.)

And my sudden desire to traipse whimsically with the kids to some cute eatery clashed severely with my husband’s desire to actually get to our destination.

In the end, we nixed the eatery but I did get my coffee, which was too amazing to describe in language appropriate to use around the children. After this, we briefly stopped for essentials at a Food Lion store.  I picked up many things, but most importantly…a new toothbrush. I tried to get a picture of my kids holding souvenir shirts that we never planned to actually buy.  I’ll let you be the judge of whether that photo op succeeded. 

Aaaand as we made PB&J for them in the store parking lot, I realized that we maybe shouldn’t use plastic spoons for the peanut butter anymore.OH…then my husband learned something new about me.  I don’t think I have many phobias, but apparently underwater tunnels is one of them.  And if you’ve never crossed the Bay Bridge Tunnel (we called it a “brunnel”)…well…its a whole lot of bridge and tunnel that doesn’t seem terribly attached to….what’s the word I’m looking for?…right, LAND.  We started to cross and I began firing questions uncomfortably: How long is this? How on earth do they do maintenance on this thing? How would they know if something was wrong? Look at those concrete columns!  They look crooked!  (My husband assured me they were supposed to be crooked and that they clearly have the money to pay for repairs with the $15 they charge/car to cross.  But please, you don’t have to explain that to me, you have to convince my phobia… ahem.  See below.)

If the bridge weren’t bad enough, we then had to drive straight down into the bowels of the bay, while my 6 year old rattled off how bad it would be if the water got into the tunnel and all the cars got flooded and sharks attacked us.  (Thanks kid.)

And just when we got to the lowest point of the tunnel my GPS creepily said, “Lost Satellite reception” and I told my husband that this is like a location right out of an apocalyptic film.  And I’m pretty sure right over there is where the meteor hits the water and launches a wave that sends a barge crashing into the tunnel where we all meet our ruin.  So I don’t know if the light at the end of the tunnel is a good thing or if we’ve all died.

Thankfully, our kids made it over the brunnel because upon arriving at our vacation home with family,  they are head-over-heels in love with the beach (more on that tomorrow.)

But for now, I need to use my husband’s tooth brush again before bed because I accidentally flipping threw out that new toothbrush I bought and it absorbed some unidentifiable brown liquid.  For. the. love.

Till tomorrow…

Still-Not-so-fresh-and-minty, Carrye

 

Vacation Confessions (Day 1)

Dear CT,

I’m writing home to tell you how my husband and the 3 kids are doing since we left.  You know, all of 7 hours ago.   Has it only been that long?

Here are some things I learned so far:

  1. If you try to make a giant leak-proof ice pack using a sealable bag, the bag will definitely have a hole in it and will leak out of your soft-cooler and onto your purse.
  2. You should make a packing list.  Or you’ll forget something important like your toothbrush and have to choose between the equally nerve-wracking options of not brushing your teeth at all or borrowing your husband’s brush.  (Although, he reminded me I accidentally use his often enough.)
  3. If you ask your children “what do we talk like when we’re in the car?” your three year old will say “batman” and you’ll find yourself role playing a scenario in which batman politely asks your husband to stop singing so loudly, because NICE and QUIET are how we talk in the car…  Except A) no one is buying your batman, B) your husband doesn’t sing period and C) Not even you are taking yourself seriously.
  4. Hotels are not made for sleeping.  And I don’t mean that as innuendo.  Hotels are like a cruel social experiment where each child strategically pushes you closer to the brink of the abyss.  One of your children will only mildly complain that they can’t sleep.  You will lightly scold.  A second will ramp up the complaining by 90%, only to finally stop flopping and talking awkwardly to himself when you promise a prize to the first kid who falls asleep.  (This idea came from the same part of your brain as the batman charade.  This will come back to haunt you.)  A third child won’t fall asleep even after you threaten to take away the hotel’s free waffle breakfast, suggest that he might make his Mimi cry, and begin to walk him back to the van for a “timeout” at 10:15pm.  (Who are you really punishing there?)  Halfway down the hall he’ll promise to sleep and will somehow finagle his way into nesting on a chair with a towel for a blanket.  Suit yourself, kid.
  5. “The Edge of Glory” is apparently sung by Lady Gaga, not Pink.  Who Knew?  (I don’t want a show of hands, I’m sure lots of you knew.)
  6. Blogging makes everything better.

That’s all for now.  All I can say is, the waffle machine better be working tomorrow…I’ll be in touch shortly….hopefully from an awesome beach view.

Sincerely,

Vacationing (But not sleeping) Carrye

 

 

Summer Stalling…

Summer is here and somehow having no schedule is just as stressful sometimes as keeping up with the weekly school routine.  At least for a person like me who does not plan things out ahead of time. I have a few things penciled in here and there, but otherwise I wake up in the morning thinking- oooooh boy- gotta figure out something to do to make the day enjoyable for the kids (and me too).   Which is how we wound up making recycled soda bottle “bowling pins” the other day.  But that was the only brilliant idea I’ve had so far, and you can’t make those every day.  Nor can you wear a deflated pool floatie everyday, as I’ve tried to explain to my son.

Which is probably why I’ve become obsessed with our library summer reading program- if I read five books with my daughter a day I, errrr…um… I mean she earns a “book buck” each day.  (Up to six bucks a week.)  We read a ton of books as it is because my daughter has loved a good story practically since she was in the womb.  But now that there is a reward attached I am hyper vigilant about it all- “five books!  We have to read five books!”  And then I have to log them- and there is the breakdown.  Because this year, for the first time, we have to log all of our books into an account on the computer.  Before I could generally note the books we read and write them all in last minute before we turned in our log at the library each week.  But with the computer, the books are logged virtually by time and date entered…so of course the day came when we meticulously counted our books to log, and I forgot to log them on the correct day, thereby forfeiting a precious book buck.  (At least I think…the system may not be quite as strict as I’ve given it credit for, but my obsession breeds paranoia.)  Now I find myself at 11:45pm frantically entering books so we can make it all the way to the $15 Time Machine gift certificate we have our eye on.  
I’ve also been checking my phone frequently to see if anyone has texted to do something with us.  (I don’t write this to imply we are friendless and miserable, just that I’m a dimwit and don’t plan things with our friends far enough in advance.) But this, too, has been complicated by the summer.  No, OK really it was complicated by me jumping into the pool with my cell phone in my pocket- which isn’t ideal for receiving texts.  But the summer is the root problem.  I tried all the tricks I know- leaving my phone overnight in a bag of rice and everything.  I got the thing working again- but it has never been the same.  So my brother gave me an old cell phone to use, which was great till I dropped it on the floor at the airport.  Now the phone works but whenever I get a text it sounds like a muffled cannon has fired instead of making a perky “beep”.  I expect to start having dreams about the Revolutionary war any night now. 
Meanwhile I’ve made actual war on the bugs in the house- we have no ants inside this year (which I’ll naively attribute to my cinnamon barrier at the exterior door) but we have earwig bugs and those awkward beetles that blunder around looking comically ridiculous….until they crash land onto your shirt.  Then they are just annoying.  But the earwigs are the worst- I haven’t figured out how to outsmart their tactics yet.  Also some sneaky bugs are chewing up my veggies- but once I set up my garden spy cam its game over for them.

As I ponder what I’ve written, it seems clear that we need a couple more hobbies this summer- at least until swim lessons start.  Any fun, cheap summer ideas from other Moms or Dads out there?