Tag Archives: Florida

A Lazy Happy New Year

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It’s true what they say about writing. The more you write, the easier it becomes. That’s not to say the quality necessarily improves, but the rush of ideas comes easier, flows faster. The stories, the questions, the insights, the jokes… it all pours out when you’re doing it on a regular basis.

But then you take a break and it all goes to hell. The ideas just get all jammed up. Muddled. Foggy. My brain feels like quicksand… an idea pops up, but then it starts to sink back down and I feel it slipping out of my hands, even though I desperately try to pull it back up and make it work.

That’s how I feel right now. I really wanted to kick off this year with some grand, inspirational, beautifully written post about the miracles of the holiday season and the fantastic promise of another New Year.

Guess what. I didn’t.

I was slightly derailed by the flu that landed me in bed for half of my Florida vacation last week. And after that, I was more than slightly derailed by the laziness that took over once I was recovered. I really, really wanted to write something special but instead I watched movies and listened to books on tape. (Yup, I was too lazy to even READ words.)

So, here we are. Two days into 2013 and I’ve got nothing close to beautiful or inspirational. Dammit.

I could talk about how Christmas was mostly perfect this year. (I say mostly, because nothing is ever 100%, right? Loved ones were missed, out loud and in moments of quiet. Nothing can ever be 100%.)

We spent a lot of quality, chaotically-fun time with both sides of our families. In two days, we saw 15 cousins, ate 18 desserts, opened 547 presents, sang “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and shared countless laughs. Lots of food, lots of presents, lots of noise, so much love = mostly perfect.

I could talk in more detail about the magic of Christmas morning with the Loud One, the Nibbit and Happy Dude, but I don’t have to, do I? I imagine so many of us were feeling pretty blessed at 6:30am that morning, with bright eyes, huge smiles, bouncing feet, yelps of joy, huge messes and of course, giant cups of hot coffee.

(Plus, if I start talking about things like the “magic of Christmas morning,” you will all wonder what has happened to me and think about whether or not you want to keep reading. I get it… I’ll shut up about the magic.)

As for my New Year’s Resolutions, they’re a work in progress. I haven’t really solidified any goals the past few years because since I’ve had kids, I always kind of think “Make it through every day without killing anyone” is enough. And I don’t really see the need to put that one in writing.

This year, I am thinking about some others, so maybe I’ll publish those in the coming weeks. (Mostly, I’m working on resolutions for my kids. They have a lot of growing to do this year and I’m the one that’s going to help push them in the right direction. Improved reading skills, listening ears, muscle tone… you know, the usual.)

So, here it is…

  • I hope your holiday season was, yes, magical. Let’s all file our memories away in the bank to be pulled out when our kids are obnoxious teenagers and we need to remember back to when Christmas morning was about something other than new electronics.
  • New Years resolutions are in the works; I’m definitely going to be better this year. I’m not sure exactly how, but figuring it out is Resolution #1.
  • I should never take an entire week off from writing. Because it all goes to crap when I do.

Happy New Year, everybody. May 2013 be full of mostly perfect.

 

2013

 

Holiday? More like HELLiday…

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I was looking at some old pictures of trips we took with our kids the past few years and I had a thought… there really should be a unique word for “a travel expedition with kids.” “Vacation” is entirely misleading and inappropriate. Vacation implies rest and relaxation, leisure and laziness, drinks and more drinks… none of which is the norm for a trip with young children. (Or at least not with my ¾-part-monster kids.)

A term more akin to “rallying troops and heading to war” would be more appropriate.

First off, there’s the pre-deployment preparation (aka: packing). The amount of STUFF that three young children need to travel is IN.SANE. The bags and gear outnumber the people traveling 10:1. And the craziest part is, it doesn’t matter if you’re going away for a week or an overnight… the amount of stuff is the same. HOW THE HELL IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?

(Also included in prep is, of course, the mental preparation. For up to a week prior to departure, you can hear me muttering, “I can make it through this. I WILL make it through this.”)

Second, we have boot camp. That’s the time you spend at the airport waiting for your flight to board. (And if you’re anything like me, that’s usually about three-and-a-half hours.) At any given moment, you may be sprinting (down a long corridor, chasing a two-year old), carrying heavy weights (in the form of car seats and doll suitcases) or commando crawling under chairs (to attempt to clean up the Matchbox cars and Goldfish that have been dropped everywhere).

Second, it’s time to head off to battle. And by battle, I mean the attack your kids initiate against every single other passenger that had the misfortune of being on your flight.

There are a few ways to protect against the attack:

  • Small, cheap, plastic toys that a.) the troops kids have never seen before, b.) don’t roll away when thrown on the floor and most importantly, c.) don’t make any noise.
  • Snacks, in the form of salty carbs (chips, crackers, etc.)
  • Movies
  • Snacks, in the form of sweet carbs (cookies, granola bars, etc.)
  • Saying things like “Look out the window! I think I just saw Mary Poppins/a rocket ship/Superman/a hot air balloon/the Wicked Witch outside in the sky!”
  • Snacks, in the form of candy (especially M&Ms, because you can dole them out one at a time and lollipops, because they last a long time)

Did I mention snacks? I cannot stress the importance of food bribes when trying to keep kids happy on an airplane. (Happy = not screaming and not kicking. Anything beyond that is gravy.) My kids typically consume more calories in the course of a two-and-a-half hour flight than they do during a typical weekend at home.

And last but not least is the war, I mean, trip, itself. It’s Them vs. You. Every damn day.

  • Sleep routines are more than disrupted, they’re completely eradicated, so everyone’s exhausted at all times.
      • There’s always the challenge of configuring the kids’ beds/cribs in a way that they will not wake each other up, yet Mom and Dad will still be able to drink at night.
      • There’s the additional challenge of trying to occupy the kids between the hours of 5:30am and 9:00, before the rest of the world gets moving.
  • Nobody’s eating well. There’s a delicate balance between sugar highs and hunger dips that is hard to achieve. That scale is almost always tipped one way or the other.
      • Believe it or not, frozen waffles, grilled cheese and pasta with just butter are not ALWAYS available at the appropriate times in every possible travel destination. Huh.
  • Kids want constant activity, 100% of the time.

Side note: We spent a few days at the beach last summer and after swimming in the indoor pool (because it opened at 6:00am), walking to town to get breakfast, heading straight to the beach to swim and play for a couple of hours, eating lunch at the hotel restaurant, and then more swimming at the outdoor pool, we’d head back to the hotel in the late afternoon for some “down time” before dinner. Well. Let me tell you a little something about kids and down time. OXYMORON.

  • Everybody’s running on adrenaline and kids that have been sugared-up and worn out to the brink of exhaustion can freak HARD. (Note: Any Disney theme park offers PRIME viewing for top-notch, hardcore meltdowns.)
  • Eventually, they crash. And immediately after that, you do, too.

Finally, the trip ends and you return home. The kids have a hard time readjusting to the normal routine and you? Well, you have certifiable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Good luck with all your <sneer> vacations this year.

OK, bye.

Why don't my kids ever look like this on an airplane?

PS. I feel compelled to add that, with this satirical essay, I mean no disrespect to our country’s real troops (and their families) and the very real wars they’re fighting for the sake of our country and our freedom. I understand that there really is no comparison between fighting difficult battles and… what they’re doing. (If I used winky faces, I might put one here.)

PPS. I also mean no disrespect to my parents who go to GREAT efforts to make sure that our family vacations bear no resemblance to the one described above (aka, the ones we take without them).