Category Archives: Travel

“Why is there so much dancing?”

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Here’s a play-by-play account of how our big day in New York City played out…

8:00 am – Everyone’s in their fanciest clothes. And by fanciest, I mean, most comfortable. I do NOT want to hear “these sleeve bumps are bothering me!” all day. So they are dressed. Period. Not exactly dressed for a Christmas Spectacular at Radio City but I’m not fighting that battle.

8:15 – Shit. I got a paper cut on my texting finger. How am I going to be able to text for help when I lose one of my kids in Rockefeller Center?!?

8:25 – Grab my bag* and we’re out the door.

*Contents of my bag: Z-bars, applesauce pouches, Goldfish, M&Ms, lollipops, one iPad, one DS video game, two books, water bottles, tissues, baby wipes, Epi-pen/Benadryl, change of underwear for one kid, change in socks for another kid and a giant jar of Advil for me.

 And at the last minute, I also remembered our tickets.

8:30 – Aunt Lori drives us to the train station. Says something to the effect of “Wish I was going with you!” I THINK I hear her mutter “sucker” under her breath but I could be wrong.

8:45 – Wait for the train. They’re listening AND super excited. It’s the high point of the day. Kidding! Not really.

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9:00 – Get on the train. It’s packed. A nice woman gives up her seat and moves her bags so the four of us can sit. I see extreme pity in her eyes. I’ll take it.

I just realized RIGHT NOW that I bought a ticket for my 4-year old, who rides free. Grrrr….

I just realized RIGHT NOW that I bought a ticket for my 4-year old, who rides free. Grrrr….

10:00 – 82 rounds of “I Spy” and “Who Am I?” later, we arrive at Grand Central. After having nightmares about losing a kid all night last night, I make them all hold onto me somehow… two hands and a coat-tail.* We are absolutely the most annoying people on the city sidewalks today… a group of four, side-by-side, sort of shuffling because I’m making them all hold onto me, while they stare up at the “super tall buildings!”, stopping randomly to ask about the random puddles of mystery fluid on the sidewalk. The New Yorkers LOVE us.

*I also tried to make them all wear bracelets with my phone number but only the Nibbit would agree. Happy Dude wore his for a whole minute before declaring “This is SO annoyin’ and it’s frustratin’ me.” So I put it in his pocket. Loud One ripped it off two seconds after I put it on and said, “That’s bothering me; I’m not wearing it.” I MIGHT have said, “Fine, if you get lost in a huge Rockefeller Center crowd, don’t come crying to me.”

10:10 – We exit Grand Central and bump into my cousin Meagan, which is a pleasant surprise. Is it wrong that I feel extremely jealous that she is going to work? Alone?

10:15 – I had planned to walk to Radio City but that plan got vetoed so we get in a cab. No functioning seatbelts and an extremely chatty driver who also has two boys and a girl and does NOT recommend bringing them all to Radio City to see the Christmas Spectacular because it’s so crowded and not really worth the money = good times!

10:35 – We arrive at Radio City, take the requisite “Pose like a Ninja in front of giant Nutcracker across the street” shot and head in.IMG_7134

10:45 – The plan is: bathroom, snacks, seats. The reality is: not QUITE the same as the plan. As we approach the bathroom, we see the line winds all the way around Central Park and back. [Slight exagg. Whatever.] I’ve got Loud One whining, “Are we going to miss the show?” I’ve got the Nibbit saying, “I can go to the boy’s room by myself! I won’t look at anyone!” And I’ve got the Nibbit saying, “I weally weally weally have to go RIGHT NOW!”

So we leave the six-mile line and walk straight into the Men’s Lounge. I sit LO on a chair and say, “Close your eyes and don’t talk to ANYONE” before racing the boys straight to the stalls while yelling, “So sorry! My sons really had to go! Girls line too long! Not looking, I swear!”

Gross.

11:00 – Showtime! Lights dim! Music starts! Santa appears! Rockettes kick! Magical things happen! JAAAAZZZZZ HAAAANNNDDDS!

11:15 – Nibbit: When is lunch?

11:30 – HD: I want to go home now.

11:40 – Nibbit: There’s SO MUCH dancing. WHY is there so much dancing?

12:00 – HD: I’m really ready to go home now.

12:15 – All of them: LOOK! OMG, IT’S A REAL CAMEL! ARE THOSE SHEEP REAL?! LOOK AT THAT DONKEY!! ARE YOU SURE THOSE ARE REAL!! I NEVER SAW A REAL CAMEL BEFORE! THAT’S SO COOL!!

12:30pm – Show ends.

Me: Did you guys love it??

Loud One: YES!!!

Nibbit: No. I did NOT like it.

HD: I did not like it either. I liked the camel and the sheeps and the donkeys and the Santas but I did not like the rest like when it snowed and all those girls were dancing all the time.

Nibbit: Me too.

OK then.

1:00 – Lunchtime! While we waited for our food, we played the “Guess what I’m drawing game” and this happened:

I’m not sure what exactly he’s drawing.

 

I asked them, “Do you guys want to go see this show again next year?”

LO: YES!!!

Nibbit: No.

HD: I want to stay home with the Nibbit.

HD may have been a little tired.

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I tried telling them that this was the big tree I was telling them about but they didn’t buy it.IMG_7144
So we went to see the REAL big tree.

I thought I got the perfect picture until I checked it and saw that it looks like HD had been cut out of a picture taken at a scary movie on a really sunny day and Photoshopped into this picture. I have NO idea how this happened and I’m sure I could never make it happen again.

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I tried again and got this “perfect” picture.

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So, it turns out, I was wrong when I said, “It will either be a great day or a great blog post!” because neither was true. In fact, I’d say that the whole experience was … fine.

Just like this post.

PS. This happened on the way home so it should be a nice, late night tonight.

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OBX Road Trip 2014

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We spent last week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and as promised, I kept a “live record” of the 12+ hour drive down there, starting with our 4:00 am wake-up. It actually wasn’t that bad but I honestly don’t know how the Pioneer People took road trips… you know, without the DVD player in the minivan. “They probably just used their iPads,” you might say, but my kids can’t do that because they’ve inherited my weak stomach, and are prone to getting car sick if they look anywhere but STRAIGHT AHEAD.

Here’s how the whole day went down. And by “went down,” I mean, “went downhill with every hour we spent in the car.”

3:45 AM I repeat, AM! We’re shooting for a 4am departure but this shit ain’t right. I hit snooze. Twice.

3:55 – I’m up. Meaning, I’m standing up and walking somewhere, but I’m pretty sure my eyes are closed and I’m still dreaming. About sleeping.

4:05 – We wake the kids up. This right here is the highlight of their whole trip, until we did it again on the day we drove home. It doesn’t happen often, so they LOVE when WE have to wake THEM. They immediately pop out of bed and start talking. I’m barely awake myself so I have no idea what they’re actually saying… something about excitement and darkness and breakfast… I just nod and tell them to get in the car, there’s no food at this hour.

4:17 – We leave. Kids are still talking. I’m still barely awake.

4:21 – I realize that we’ve forgotten pillows so we turn around.

4:26 – On the road again. Only 26 minutes later than planned, which is sort of amazing considering the ungodly hour, amiright?

4:41 – First Happy Dude-ism* of the trip: “Sometimes one of the suns looks like a shark.” (It’s still pitch dark.)

*Happy Dude-ism = when HD just randomly blurts out a sentence that may or may not make sense but is relevant to absolutely nothing.

At this point, we encourage the kids to try to fall back asleep but their wide eyes and loud voices tell us it’s not gonna happen. So I do what any tired passenger would do in my position… put on my noise-canceling headphones and let KJ deal with them. #boseisboss

5:02 – HD-ism: “Did you bring ALL of my every toys in this car?” All of my every what now?

5:33 – The Nibbit announces, “My belly hurts.” One hour into the effing trip. With my best early morning sympathetic voice, I tell him to Look. Straight. Ahead. Yes, for the next 11 hours.

5:51 – HD-ism: “Mom, I saw you somewhere!”

I’ll admit, at this point, I’m getting a bit concerned about the frequency of these random mutterings. Is something wrong with his brain?

6:05 – First stop! We’re a little worried that the Nibbit is going to throw up. It’s pouring rain, so KJ takes just the boys into the rest stop and within two minutes, I get a text: “Pls turn car off and come in… gonna need help.” I start envisioning vomit all over the floor of this nice rest stop and sprint with the Loud One to the door, where we see the Nib and HD standing there… smiling. KJ is NOT smiling. He says, “HD won’t pee without you.”

We pee. No one vomits. And we sprint – in the rain – back to the car.

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6:32 – We’re back on the road, driving 65 mph on a highway and the Nibbit says, “I saw a lizard on that rock.”

Oh no, it’s contagious.

7:00 – Movie #1: Jungle Book. Isn’t it kind of amazing that we made it all the way until 7:00 am before putting a movie on?

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7:58 – Ding, ding, ding!! We hear the very first “Are we almost there?” from the Nibbit. It’s 4½ hours into a 12-hour car drive, so only the truth will do. “Nope. Not even close.”

8:02 – Disturbing conversation with the Nib, goes like this:

Him: Mom did the other night count?
Me: For what, bud?
Him: For the thing… for the trip… how many drives do we need to be?
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Him: Nevermind, I’m trying to watch the movie.

8:30 – Sing-Along Time! We make it through a variety of Katy Perry songs before we’re bored with that game. I suggest the Quiet Game instead. The kids all lose. Every time, they lose. Which means WE ALL LOSE.

9:15 – Second stop! Gas and bagels. HD fell asleep about 18 mins prior (of course) so we have to wake him up. He’s a bit discombobulated and he can’t find his shoe. He starts freaking out a bit and then says, “Oh here it is! It was on my foot!

Note: Five minutes into this stop, I have a bit of a meltdown when HD wants to touch everything in the bathroom. The VERY PUBLIC, VERY REST STOP-ISH bathroom. Nibbit is being generally Nibitty which sends me right over the edge. There’s some yelling, but I pull it together and we walk out of the rest stop with some of our dignity intact. And toilet paper attached to a Croc.

9:35 – Back in the car for Movie #2 … it’s Scooby Doo time!

11:00 – Zoinks. Everyone starts to lose it. Especially HD. All of a sudden, he is all, “I am DONE with this driving! I want to go home now! This car is the worst car ever!” We pull over into a random parking lot and let him yell and whine and complain while he stretches his legs. That seems to help.

11:05 – We get back in the car and I announce that it’s naptime. In one of the few, true miracles of OBX Road Trip 2014 (I mean, the Nibbit did spot a lizard on a rock going 65 mph), they actually listen to me and they all fall asleep.

BLISS.

Bliss.

blissblissblissblissbliss.

12:41 – HD wakes up screaming, “I want a smoothie at the place!”

1:30 – LUNCH BREAK! We eat at a no-brand sports bar with sticky tables and a LOT of flies. And fries. The flies and fries are both plentiful. As we’re walking out the door, HD yells, “OK, let’s roll and rock!”

Between the final hours of 2:00 and 4:30pm, we drive the remaining 30 miles. That’s right… it took us two-and-a-half-hours to go about 30 miles.

The new Outer Banks tourism slogan should be: “OBX: One lane in, one lane out!”

Various movies are watched and video games are played and audio books are listened to and variations on “Are we there yet?” are asked with increasing frequency:

  • Are we there yet?
  • Are we almost there?
  • Are we even close?
  • Is the house close to where our car is right now?
  • Can we get out of this goddamn car soon, PLEASE? (That last one was mine.)

Until finally, we can answer, YES. WE ARE ALMOST THERE. PRAISE JESUS HALLELUJAH.

The funny part is, 12+ hours later and they look mostly exactly the same as they did when we left.

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We finally arrive to a houseful of KJ’s family who greet us with excitement and more importantly, cold beers. And then, we had a GREAT trip. And then, what seemed like two minutes later, it was time to go home.

Rinse. Repeat. Reread the above.

Highlights…

Beach time with family…

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A little consolation from Daddy where sand goes where no sand has gone before.

A little consolation from Daddy when sand goes where no sand has gone before.

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Have Cars cards, will travel

Have Cars cards, will travel

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Amazing sunsets...

Amazing sunsets…

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

Spring Not-Really-A Break

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In the months and weeks leading up to Spring Not-Really-A Break, I considered traveling somewhere with the kids. I thought about Florida and decided, “Nah… we were just there in February.” (Because gorgeous sunny weather just gets old when you’re stuck in endless winter. (LIKE ANA FROM FROZEN. AAAAHHH! She’s still stalking me.)

Then my sister and I found a cool-looking resort that was close to Washington DC and offered a kids club. Perfect! We booked a suite for all of us to share, planned days by the pool and outings into the city and high-fived. (Not really.) Then we found out that it was actually three hours from DC and that the kids club didn’t open until Memorial Day. We CANCELLED that shit asap.

At that point, I embraced the Staycation. And as everyone knows, the first step to the Staycation is MAKE PLANS. LOTS AND LOTS OF PLANS.

So the kids and I came up with a list.

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TOTALLY manageable, right?! I was going to rock this spring break!

Let’s break it down by day to review, shall we?

Saturday and Sunday:

Everyone knows Spring Break doesn’t start until the first day off from school so we didn’t do anything fun on these days. Doesn’t count.

Monday:

The Loud One’s school had a make-up day on Monday (too many snow days… endless winter… AAAHHH!) so I put her on the bus and dropped the boys off at all-day baseball camp. AAHHHH. Peace. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but I’m sure a nap was involved. Woohoo! I LOVE Spring Break!!

Tuesday:

OK, our first official day of Spring Not-Really-A Break – we had decided to plan our S’mores Party for this day. Guess what? RAIN. RAIN. RAIN. RAIN. RAIN. And MORE RAIN. This was the only completely outdoor activity we had planned and we picked the only completely miserable rainy day on which to plan it. S’mores party cancelled.

Staycations suck.

Rainy day contingency plan:

Dyeing Easter eggs. Never as easy as you think it will be.

Dyeing eggs. Never as easy as you think it will be.

TROUBLE.

TROUBLE.

Painting snakes (and cars and birdhouses and crocodiles)

Painting snakes (and cars and birdhouses and crocodiles)

Perler Beads. Also known as THE. BEST. INVENTION. EVER.

Perler Beads. AKA THE. BEST. INVENTION. EVER.

Wednesday:

OK, Staycation started to redeem itself with a fun-filled cousin day. Activities included: Art… with cousins. Hide & Seek… with cousins. Backyard fun… with cousins. Wrestle Baby… with cousins. And out to dinner… with cousins. Everything is more fun with cousins!

Thursday morning/afternoon:

I was exhausted. Boys went back to baseball camp. The Loud One and I enjoyed a lovely quiet (let’s not get crazy) day together that involved Barnes & Noble, paint-your-own pottery and bagels. Books, art & carbs for the win!

I'm not kidding when I say that the Loud One approached this book and said, "OH, I've been wanting to learn more about Jesus. And his last days."

I’m not kidding when I say that the Loud One approached this book and said, “OH, I’ve been wanting to learn more about Jesus. And his last days.”

CHECK OUT THE FRUIT! MOM OF THE YEAR!

CHECK OUT THE FRUIT! MOM OF THE YEAR!

Thursday evening:

Stuffed Animal Picnic with Friends! It was cold (endless wint… OK, you get it) so we rejected the beach part and opted for my friend Tara’s living room floor which really turned out to be the perfect venue because who likes sand with their Pirates Booty anyway? NOT ME. All the kids wore PJs and brought their favorite stuffed friends and took turns sharing a little bit about them. Awards were handed out (with gumball prizes from sweet Aaron) for Biggest, Fluffiest, Smallest, Longest and Most Homemade Stuffed Animals. Spoiler alert: everyone was a winner.

I have to say, the Stuffed Animal Picnic was a real highlight of the Staycation, so special thanks to Tara, Aaron & Juliet (and Brett for allowing this high-society event to take place on his birthday) for hosting our stuffed soiree.

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Friday:

Let’s go to New York City! Well, first let’s have meltdowns because as it turns out, taking the minivan over the train? NOT a popular decision. But we recovered. KJ took the day off for this so he drove us down to the Intrepid’s entrance, dropped us off and drove off to park the car. We didn’t him again until two hours later. (That’s a slight exaggeration, but I’m not kidding when I say that we toured the entire upper deck before he made it back to meet us. I told him that DUH, next time we should take the train.)

Side note: I highly recommend buying an Intrepid membership if you intend to visit. The extra money it costs for only one visit was well worth it when we walked right past the looooooooong line of suckers people waiting to buy tickets. And if we actually go again, BAM! money saved. You know me, always good for money-saving tips. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)

We had a great time at the Intrepid with only two meltdowns (Happy Dude’s) and one fever (Happy Dude’s… coincidence?), but I’ll let the pictures do the work here.

Missiles call for superhero poses.

Missiles call for superhero poses.

Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger

If you look closely at this one, you can see the start of Meltdown #1.

If you look closely at this one, you can see the start of Meltdown #1.

LEGO Intrepid! Hey, maybe we can do that next Staycation.

LEGO Intrepid! Hey, maybe we can do that next Staycation.

Afterwards, we went to lunch, did math problems in our new Intrepid notebooks (their idea, not mine… OBVIOUSLY) and headed home.

I’m pretty sure that marked the official end of our Staycation, but then the weekend brought tons of Easter fun with egg hunts and lots of cousin time. I actually wasn’t feeling well over the weekend so I was fairly absent but also cranky and maybe a little mean.

The Easter Bunny kicked ass though.

Just an estimate

Just an estimate

Is that a shadow bunny?

Is that a shadow bunny?

So just to review…

4 out of 6 ain’t bad.

It probably would have been really easy to find an indoor pool, dammit.

Oh well, 4 out of 6 ain’t bad. 

Next year we’re going away.

Hope you guys had nice Spring Actually-A-Breaks.

Village Circles

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I’m leaving tonight to spend a few days with one of my closest friends because she’s dealing with some shit. It’s not my place to define “the shit” but trust me when I say, her plate is overloaded with sucky circumstances and crappy conditions. (Is that vague enough for you?)

There is a lot of logistical planning that has to take place when Mom leaves the house for four days. A LOT. Now, KJ is a great Dad who can easily handle the three kids on his own, but I’m leaving for four weekdays and he does have a job. Thank God we also have Amanda (our kids love “Amanda time” so much, they’ll hardly notice I’m gone) but she also has a lot going on.

So our Village has been called to action. 

We talk a lot about our Village in my family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – all local and all ready to help. Anytime. Anywhere. In ANY WAY. Yes, I KNOW how lucky I am.

But then the Village spreads out in concentric circles (wait, that’s a math term, isn’t it? Did I use it correctly?).

I have this circle of close, local friends who offer up babysitting help – and kidneys, should one of us ever need one – on a regular basis. When the shit hits the fan for anyone of us, they’ve got the carpools, the play dates and the Meal Train set up before you can even think, “I need help.”

My oldest friends in the world – from middle school, elementary school and even preschool – are out there. They’re all over the place, living their lives, succeeding at jobs, raising their kids. We don’t see each other nearly often enough, but I know they are there, should I need them.

I have a huge extended family and I could call any of those aunt or uncles or cousins for help – or for a Margarita – at any time.

The Village circles go on and on.

Last week, I was sick. I spent many, many hours on the floor of my bathroom, fighting the stomach bug that the Nibbit had brought home two days earlier. I could write about it in detail, but I don’t think that’s necessary. You’ve probably had it this past month as well. You know it sucks.  

Yet the whole time I was sick, in addition to nauseous and miserable and achy, I also felt so lucky. Because I never once had to worry about my kids. I made a few logistical calls when I first woke up and knew I was going to be down for the count and my Village pretty much picked it up from there.

Tonight I fly out West and tomorrow, my Village kicks it into high gear. Pick-ups and play dates and car pools and dinners. And for every person helping, I’ve had many others asking, What I can do? Can we have the kids over for pizza? Did you give KJ and Amanda my number? How are you feeling about your trip?

There’s no real point to this post. It’s just that as I’m packing my bag to go see my dear friend, I’m feeling blessed. I know that if I get the flu, or plan a trip, I’m surrounded by this Village to help. I also know that if I ever need more, the circles go on and on, spreading outward. A ripple effect of support.

I’m very thankful today that because my Village is so strong, I can go play Villager for someone else who I love.

 

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Alone Time in NYC

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So, I spent this past weekend alone in New York City (well, as alone as one can be in New York City). I cleared the weekend with KJ a while ago when sleep was very much missing from our lives and I thought I was going to lose my shit if I heard “I’m done sweeping!” one more time between the hours of midnight and 4:00am. I didn’t care where I went or what I did; I just knew I wanted to get away.

At the very last minute (like 3:00pm on Friday), I picked New York City partly because it’s convenient and partly because there is so much to do. (NOT that I was worried about being bored. I don’t get bored. Ever. I love reading and watching TV too much to ever get bored. And if I can stay in bed while do so, BONUS.)

So, it’s possible that my brother and city friends are right now saying, “You spent a whole weekend in the city and didn’t call me?” The answer is yes. And I felt a little bit bad about it while I was there, but not bad enough to call because

IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Here are some of the things I did during my 40 hours alone in New York City:

  • I spent way too much money on a TEENY TINY hotel room in my old neighborhood. The room had a small desk, one flat screen TV on the wall and a BIG BED. Perfect for my needs. (Minus the desk. Turns out, I didn’t need the desk.)
  • I walked. And walked. And walked.
  • I went to the Union Square farmers’ market and bought an apple. (That was the only healthy thing I ate all weekend.)
  • I went to three different Barnes and Noble stores and the Union Square branch twice.
  • I had four Starbucks drinks.
  • I read. And read and read and read. I finished one book and started another. I read Real Simple and all about Oprah’s Favorite Things and people.com and a billion blog posts I’ve been saving and even the fancy magazine that came in the tiny hotel room.
  • I got some Christmas shopping done. It wasn’t even part of my plan, but it just started happening, so I went with it. (Guess what you’re getting… BOOKS.)
  • I ate pizza.
  • I slept. I didn’t actually sleep as much as you would think because those damn kids have trained me to wake up early, but you know what’s better than sleeping? Waking up, and realizing that you do not have to get out of bed. Like, for the whole day if you don’t want to. I’m sorry, but there is NOTHING better than that feeling. (Except maybe that feeling plus knowing that you have Cadbury Mini Eggs in your bag.)
  • I watched CBS News Sunday Morning from start to finish! Usually the kid noise drowns out Charles Osgood entirely, so we give up. This was a real treat.
  • I walked some more and ate a bagel.
  • I shopped some more. (I went to ABC Home, which really should be listed as a tourist destination in the guidebooks because that store is crazytown amazing.)

Equally important, here are some of the things I did NOT do:

  • I didn’t talk to anybody!! With the exception of ordering food and drinks and a tiny bit of chit-chat with register people at various retail outlets (“Yes, I found the Cadbury Mini Eggs I was looking for with no problem, thank you very much”), I didn’t have one single conversation.
  • I did NOT go to the Strand. Given my love for bookstores, several people have asked me if I visited the famous independent bookstore. The Strand is very hip, but you can’t find shit and there are no big comfortable chairs. I have no desire to be hip or cool, so I go to B&N where I enjoy the huge, organized shelves of books and toys and the comfortable seating areas and the huge selection of beautiful blank journals that I buy and never use and yes, the SBs. Plus, I did not love this story.
  • I didn’t visit any museums. Or do anything cultural at all. Oh, I did watch a guy play the piano in Washington Square Park for about 30 minutes.
I call park concerts count as culture!

I call park concerts count as culture!

  • I didn’t make any decisions. I didn’t make any meals. I didn’t help anybody with anything! No one asked me tie their shoes, fix their underwear or put on their jackets. No one asked me to locate or explain or pour or reach or decide anything. No one complained that they didn’t like the things I was doing or the words I was saying or the food I was cooking (I didn’t cook!). No one whined. No one tattled. No one invaded my personal space. WINNING. (–> are we still saying that?)

It really was special. I came home feeling very calm. Of course the craziness commenced as soon as I walked in the door, but it turns out, when you recharge for two days, your tolerance for chaos goes way up. (I was going to make an alcohol analogy here, but I realized that it’s actually the opposite of drinking, where if you take a break, your tolerance goes down. Oh well.)

Anyway, I highly recommend doing a weekend alone. Beach weekends with the spouse or girls’ weekends in Vegas are equally awesome, of course, but there was something really nice about being alone. Just be sure to go to a big city… with lots of Barnes and Nobles.

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PS. The whole time I was in the city, I kept an eye out for Brandon Stanton (the photographer behind Humans of New York) and envisioned exactly how our encounter would go should we cross paths. I would confess to him that I’m actually a Former Human of New York. And he would ask me why I left. I would say oh, because I had a bunch of kids and moved to the suburbs. And he would say, how many is ‘a bunch?’ And I would say just three, but it usually sounds like a lot more. We would laugh. And then he would ask what are you doing in the city today? And I would say escaping the kids! And then hundreds of thousands of his mom followers would comment saying things like, I’m so jealous! and I hope she knows how lucky she is! And I’d be all… I do, trust me, I do.

Is that really weird?

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Travel: the Good, the Bad & the Crippled

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Ah, I’ve been away for so long! I’ve missed you so much!

(“you” = “Starbucks”)

We got back late last night from vacation and I’ve just been sitting at the computer all day inhaling all of the Internet I missed while away. Big, deep gulps of sweet, sweet Internet.

And in between the big gulps of Internet, I’ve dabbled at writing this post. Write a few sentences, check Facebook. Write a few more, read every entry in my Feedly. That’s how this day has gone. It’s taken about four hours (editor’s note: it ended up taking twelve), but this is what I’ve come up with:

Random Thoughts and Observations about Travel in General and More Specifically, Our Recent Vacation to Turks & Caicos

Travel: I don’t love it. Here’s why:

1. I hate to fly to the point that I need to add in extra time for vomiting. To Do Before Flight: shower, vomit, finish last-minute packing, vomit, get the kids ready, vomit.

Flying WITH the kids is exhausting and stressful because what if the plane goes down and those oxygen masks fall and after I put on my own (hey, I’m a rule-follower) I only have time to save one of my kids… who would I pick? And also, the PLANE IS GOING DOWN.

And flying WITHOUT the kids is depressing because growing up without me is clearly not something my children would be able to overcome and I’d have sentenced them to a life full of sadness and therapy and maybe rehab and probably a lot of cats.

And before you ask, yes, drugs help. Stronger drugs help more. But nothing helps enough.

2. Traveling with young kids is just like regular life, only without all the comforts of home – like frozen waffles, three bins of stuffed animals and two venti iced coffees a day – and with many more opportunities for meltdowns. Plus, I love my home. I almost never feel any urge to leave it at all, nevermind to board a flying death machine.

3. I’m not that adventurous. Or curious. I don’t love to try new things or eat new foods or even see new places.

Wow, I’m AWFUL.

(Waiting for reassurance…)

No really, I know I am kind of boring. Unless we’re drinking Margaritas, of course. Then I’m more fun than… well, sitting at home reading the Internets! Woohoo!

Lest you think otherwise, I have seen a good number of places outside my state lines. I have traveled extensively within the US (in fact, Maine and Alaska are the only two states in which I’ve never set foot or car tires. And before you say it, I already know how close Maine is; I’ve seen a map) and Europe, backpacked in Australia and New Zealand, safaried in South Africa and hiked around Machu Picchu in Peru with my sister, because she forced me to. (She’ll want me to include the fact that I also promised to go to Fiji with her with Habitat for Humanity and then bailed at the last minute. She went anyway. Alone.) While I feel kind of lame saying that I never want to go to Vietnam or Alaska or Thailand, it’s true.

Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) recently spent hours answering readers’ questions and this one just spoke to me:

Bloggess comment

Yup, I’d have to agree, only I would add “… while KJ takes the kids to Disneyland.” Now THAT would be a win-win for everyone!**

**except KJ

So, we just spent the past week at the Beaches resort in Turks & Caicos with KJ’s side of our family, including Grandma, two aunts and uncles and six cousins ranging in ages from 7-18.

We got off to a bit of a rough start when KJ hurt his knee a few days prior to the trip and instead of getting better, THE OPPOSITE HAPPENED. By the time we left for the airport, he could barely walk. By the time we landed on the island, his knee was the size of a grapefruit and he was forced to request crutches.

Aside from being in a lot of pain, a parent with a serious knee injury on a tropical island vacation (think: swimming, water slides, running away from Mommy during endless sunscreen applications) is virtually useless from a parenting perspective. I might have been jealous of him except for the whole he was in excruciating pain thing.

This leads me to our next mishap. I’m not a water slide kind of girl. Never have been. Definitely definitely definitely never will be. But Happy Dude needed an adult to take him on the water slide and could you say no to this face?

Didn't think so.

Didn’t think so.

We made a few successful runs, but before I could think “This isn’t so ba…” BAM, I smacked my head against the side of the slide immediately before hitting the water. The next few minutes are a blur, but I remember panicking that we were both for sure drowning. In reality, KJ tells me that a.) Happy Dude was completely fine and was pulled out of the water immediately and b.) that the noise of my head hitting the slide was horrific… which is pretty cool, am I right?

I had a pretty bad headache for the rest of the day AND I still have pain in my shoulder and neck. Not to mention that Happy Dude was SOL when it came to water slides because he ran out of un-injured parents to take him.

That said, we had plenty of help from the older cousins whom our kids ADORE. Seeing our kids with their cousins was the absolute best part of this trip.

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The Nibbit is in heaven when he’s around his teenage boy cousins because he can basically be as aggressive and rough as he wants to be – which is HIGHLY aggressive and EXTREMELY rough – without getting in trouble. They race, wrestle, tag, dunk, hide and carry… all of the Nibbit’s favorite things.

That’s not to say that the Nibbit wasn’t any trouble at all. Nope, pretty sure nobody would say that. And by nobody, I mean any of the thousands of people who were in his presence at some point this past week.

You know sometimes when you’re out in public, you see a kid misbehaving a little bit and you see the mother overreact and completely snap? And then you feel bad for that poor kid for having to deal with that crazy mother and you have a quick daydream about confronting the mother and saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice what just happened with your son and don’t you think that maybe you overreacted a TINY bit? I mean, he only grabbed that bag of cookies off the shelf and really, what kid DOESN’T grab cookies? So was your screaming ‘PUT THE COOKIES BACK AND LET’S GO’ really necessary? Maybe you should just take a deep breath and give the kid a break.”

Yeah, I’ve done that, too and I can now honestly say, I will NEVER do it again.

Because now I get it. Now I completely understand that in the 30 minutes or two hours or six days prior to the cookie incident, that kid was probably acting like SATAN’S SPAWN. And even though grabbing cookies isn’t such a big deal, the mom just COULDN’T. TAKE. ANYMORE.

It was a serious downside of traveling with my in-laws – downright embarrassment at some of the Nibbit’s behavior. And yes, sometimes my own.

(The other downside of this trip was that the only place that served iced coffee served it in teeny tiny plastic cups and I was all, “This is great, but I’m going to need TEN of these.”)

Of course, the family was very kind and understanding about the difficulties of traveling with little ones, even little ones that sometimes lack the ability to act like a human being in public.

The kids had such a blast on this trip – despite the bug bites, the remnants of Tropical Storm Dorian (thank God for Xbox in the hotel room!) and the looooong travel day home yesterday which included a shuttle bus, waiting in a HOT airport for three hours, the 3½ hour flight, more waiting on a long immigration line and a hour-long car ride home – they loved the water park and the beach and the video games and the dessert buffet and the quality time with the family. We ALL loved the QT with the family and are thankful to Grandma for this experience that the Loud One called the BEST! VACATION! EVER!

Here are some more highlights:

Wreaking havoc in the water park

Wreaking havoc in the water park

Lizard-hunting

Lizard-hunting

Playing "Poison Silverware" at the "very fancy restaurant." (My childhood friends will understand... we didn't have M&Ms!)

Playing “Poison Silverware” at the “very fancy restaurant.” (My childhood friends will understand… we didn’t have M&Ms.)

Shark-hunting

Shark-hunting

Hibachi!

Hibachi!

Riding in the back of the golf cart (because Daddy couldn't walk to the restaurant)

Riding in the back of the golf cart (because Daddy couldn’t walk to the restaurant)

TV FACE: Island version

TV FACE: Island-style

"Hey! This rock is singing!"

“Hey! This rock is singing!” #naturespeakers #toddlersaresogullible

Hammock fun

Hammock fun

 

Transportation Day: A Retrospective

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The boys and I went into New York City yesterday to ride as many modes of transportation in one day that we could fit in before meltdowns. (Mine and theirs.) We made it to SIX. (Sort of.)

Over the course of the day, you know what I discovered? Navigating the city with two little boys, who are not accustomed to so much city stuff, is a lot trickier than living there with one baby girl.

I imagine if we still lived there, the boys wouldn’t need to talk about and touch (and in one disgusting case, lick) every single thing we saw. Look at that tall building! Look at all those yellow taxis! Look all those people watch that guy cram himself into a box!

They also paused a lot, which philosophically is great, but in midtown, not so much. Pausers used to drive me crazy. Well, karma’s a bitch because my boys were stopping to smell the roses all over the place… on the sidewalk, in the subway station and most notably, at the bottom of the escalator. But guess what… there are no roses in any of those places. There are only angry New Yorkers that have to get to where they’re going like yesterday. So MOVE IT.

We started here, waiting for the 10:33 train to Grand Central Station.

We are ready to go! We are also ready to pose like a couple going to the Prom!

Two things to note in the next picture: one, I did not instruct them to sit in that exact same position and two, while it looks like I was specifically trying to take a picture of that pretty building in the background, I was not. That could be a prison for all I know.

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Have Cars book, will travel.

They loved the train, but when they got off and saw THIS scene? Well, we could have turned around and gone home and they would have been happy. I wonder if the staff at Grand Central Station knows what an attraction they have here. My guess is no, they just have a storage space limitation problem.

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Aaaaand let the questions begin! “Who drives this cart? Where is that water going? How do they drink that water with no cups? Whose hat is that? Do they have to wear that hat to drive this cart and carry the water?”

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“Why is the sky moving? When I walk around in circles, all those stars move, too. This place is so big. Why is that flag so big? Where are all the trains? Where are all these people going?”

Time to head underground.

*By the way, as a group, we decided that the escalator totally counts as a mode of transportation since it takes you from one place to another. I didn’t get any pictures of them on the escalator because I was too busy holding a stroller, a heavy bag and a two-year old’s hand.

You know what New Yorkers LOVE? Little kids that just stand in front of the escalator building up the courage to step on. Seriously, they love that.

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Waiting for the downtown 6 train. Happy Dude was torn, because while he loved the trains coming and going, he did not love the noise of the subway. He kept covering his ears and saying “TOO LOUD!” And I kept saying, “SUCK IT UP, YOU WUSSY SUBURBAN KID!” Well, not out loud.

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You see that girl reading the newspaper? Well, for some reason, the Nibbit felt compelled to lean over her shoulder and I don’t know, smell her hair or something. I was appalled. “NIBBIT! What are you doing? You can’t just invade somebody’s personal space like that!” She was laughing and said, “Oh, there’s no such thing in New York City.”

Love you random newspaper girl in NYC. And I can’t really blame him, your hair is all kinds of awesome.

Time for lunch!  

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Drinking at Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man

The Nibbit took this next picture of Happy Dude and it’s my second favorite picture of the day.

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Chocolate shake = pure joy

My absolute FAVORITE picture of the day is next. We made it to the bus stop where, the Nibbit asked, “We’re at a bus stop? Do we have to go to school now?” Seriously? Is what we’re doing here not clear at all to you??

I told the boys to stand in front of the sign and smile and I just love the results. Because of the way the boys are looking at each other and holding hands? NO. I love this picture because of that awesomely cute Batman photobombing my shot. He continued to stare at us like that the entire bus ride. I loved him and really wanted him to join us for the rest of Transportation Day but I thought the Mom might get scared if I invited him. And maybe have me arrested.

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Remember the last post I wrote about not judging? Please remember that as you witness the Nibbit’s socks and shoes up close.

OK, so this side entrance to FAO doesn’t make for the classic photo-op offered by the front of the store, but the front was sooooo far away and we were getting sooooo tired by then….

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… not too tired to scare pigeons though!

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Last vehicle of the day… taxi!

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Holding their new souvenirs (Cars, of course), we made our way back to Grand Central.

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The train ride home was a little bit more challenging than the earlier one… mostly because I spent an hour desperately trying to keep the two of them awake. Naps at 4:00pm = BAD for Mom.

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Pulling into our station, I said, “Hey guys, we’re almost home. What’d you think of Transportation Day?!?”

Nibbit: Fine.
Happy Dude: Good.

WTF??

Me: Well, I LOVED it. I CAN’T WAIT for our next adventure!
Nibbit: What’s it going to be? Can we go to the candy store?
Me: <sigh> How about thumbs up for Transportation Day?

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So here’s our final tally:

Minivan – CHECK
Train – CHECK
Escalator – CHECK (Shut up. It counts.)
Subway – CHECK
City bus – CHECK
Taxi – CHECK

Nobody completely losing their shit – CHECK.

WINNING.