Who Wants to Go Swimming?

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 21-08-2012

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It seems like we just got back from our spontaneous trip to Disneyland – but that was already two weeks ago.  Time flies, huh?  Anyhow, seems as though we just unpacked our suitcases, and decided to do it all over again.  Not the Disneyland part – but the weekend away part.

One of our best friends turned 40 on Friday, and his amazing wife arranged for a weekend-long surprise party for him at the Seascape Resort in Aptos.  We were lucky enough to be included on the guest list amongst family and other close friends.  We were really thrilled about a beach getaway, especially one so close to home.  I mean, if we could survive a 10 hour road trip home from Anaheim – surely a jaunt to Santa Cruz would be a piece of cake.

But, here’s the thing. Traveling with kids is never a piece of cake – in fact, it’s more like a root canal from eating too much cake.  It’s the packing….clothes, diapers, food, toys, medicine (just in case), sunscreen, blankets, strollers, car-seats, etc. that gets you.  It’s imagining a quick getaway, and then being faced with hours of organizing the car to ensure it all fits, that sucks the life right out of you.  And then there’s the “My belly hurts” from the back seat, peppered with the “Are we there yet’s?” along with baby cries (wails) along the way that really enrich the experience. Needless to say, nothing is quite as sweet as reaching your final destination when kids are in tow.

When we checked into our hotel and unpacked the car, both my husband and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as DJ jumped from bed to bed and Bitzy rolled around on the couch.  Our first night there was great – until bedtime of course. I spent the night listening to my husband snore while I kept a watchful eye on DJ, who almost rolled out of her bed a dozen times.  When the clock struck morning, I was already counting down the hours till nap-time.

And then, when the clock struck nap-time, DJ completely revolted (I can only hope she carries this much conviction into her future – I’m sure it will serve her well, when it’s not directly affecting me). I laid down in between her and Bitzy (who fell right to sleep), and tried ever so sweetly to calm her down.  I stroked DJ’s hair, gently tickled her face, rubbed her back, covered the flashing clock with my husband’s t-shirt, played white noise from my iPhone, sang to her, left her alone completely – ignoring her wiggling body and made-up songs. Nothing was working. Hours were passing.

I started to get mad.  I was losing patience very quickly.  Not only was I exhausted, but I was super stressed out anticipating her future meltdown – likely to occur as we reconnected with the broader group and sat down for dinner. With each movement of her overtired body, my skin crawled more.  I felt the tears surfacing and I felt the words climbing up my throat, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GO TO SLEEP!” Nothing like a calm mother to evoke a deep sense of serenity, right? My husband, who was wisely keeping quiet, sat up quickly, and looking like a deer in headlights. He glared at me, and I knew I had lost it.  My cool, that is.  I handed Bitzy over to him and marched toward the bathroom.  I said “I’m going to take a shower.  I HAVE to have some time alone.” I know that he would’ve said it if I didn’t first.

I slammed the bathroom door and stripped out of my clothes.  The tears began to well up inside, and in a split second, I realized that my kids were going to think of their Mom acting like a complete lunatic on their first beach getaway.  That made my tears fall even heavier.  In an instant, I knew I had to pull it together.

I opened up the bathroom door, peered right at DJ and asked, “Who wants to go swimming?” My husband looked suspicious of my quick change of heart, but DJ jumped with joy!  The four of us quickly got suited up and played in the pool for an hour before meeting up with our friends.  While the water play definitely compounded our exhaustion, it was a memory that we’ll never forget – Bitzy’s first time in a pool. The laughter from both of our kids was well worth the 9:00pm meltdown later that evening.

That’s what vacation is all about, and what memories are made of….insane Moms who begrudgingly lead their families down the path of least resistance.

Shishies, Fafaris and Zoos

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Posted by annemarie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 31-03-2012

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I’m sitting in my hotel room in San Diego with my little family. We’ve had such a great week of exploring all the fun that beautiful San Diego has to offer. Of course, my husband and I want to come here every Spring Break with PJ and our “future” children. It’s hard to start making plans when I’m not sure when I will be able to get pregnant. I don’t want to live constantly trying to figure out when that will be, and yet, I want to know!

It’s funny how little conversations can be encouraging without even knowing it at the time. We were able to meet some friends and our neighbors in the Bay Area down at Sea World yesterday as they were taking advantage of their Spring Break as well. I was in line for a water ride and my friend and I were talking about the age differences between us and our siblings. I’m 6 years older than my sister and 11 years older than my brother. My friend is 13 years older than her sister. Weirdly, it encouraged me to know that there are people out there, just not me, who have years and years between their siblings. Would I want PJ to be 13 years older than her brother or sister? Probably not, but if that’s how it happens, then that is okay.

I think us Moms get caught up in trying to have our children 2-3 years a part. For some reason, it feels like the “magic number” and I must admit I’ve panicked some knowing that PJ will probably be older than 3 years from her siblings. I can’t have the perfect plan when trying to plan out my family. Each family and each situation is unique and I have to be okay with my family not fitting into the mold I always thought it would. Does it scare me not knowing if we come back to San Diego next year that I might have a baby or not? Sure. Am I going to just stop enjoying the family I’ve been given now? Absolutely not.

Vacationing Ain’t for Sissies

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 09-08-2011

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Greetings from lovely Lake Tahoe!  It is absolutely, without a doubt, so incredibly gorgeous here.  I just read a little fun fact about Lake Tahoe this morning : The Lake is 99.1% pure, and  an object dropped under water as deep as 100 feet, can still be viewed from the surface.  I guess this fact struck me so much because honestly, all I can think of when looking out over the Lake is “pure beauty.” And, it really is.  

This is our first real vacation since having DJ nearly two years ago.  In fact, we are staying at the same place we stayed when I was about eight months pregnant with her.  It is also the same place that my husband’s family vacationed every summer while he was growing up.  We love it here on the South Shore, and look forward to spending our family’s summers here, too.

Now that all the flowery stuff is out of the way….talk of the beautiful lake and the sentimental connections we have here – let me level with you, vacationing with a toddler ain’t for sissies.  Lord Almighty. 

Today is our fifth day away from home, and I am more exhausted than I have been in two years!  And yes, while I’d rather be exhausted on a sandy beach then stuck inside my own four walls – I will definitely not be returning from this trip with the glow of a woman whose done nothing but joy-read while sipping frosty Pina Coladas.

Let’s take yesterday, for example….my otherwise totally-devoted-to-family-time-while-on-vacation husband, agreed to take one business call our entire trip.  This call happened to coincide with the time that I decided to take my FIRST shower sans-toddler since arriving on vacation (Did I mention that since leaving home, DJ has literally been attached to my hip?).  Anyhow, I’m in the shower, taking a moment to appreciate my independence, when in barges my determined daughter, saying “poo poo, Mommy, poo poo.” 

Um, ok – you can’t argue when a kid is potty training.  So, the toilet is right outside the shower…which means DJ has now pealed back the shower curtain (my only shield from motherhood), and is begging me to put her on the potty.  While dripping water all over the place, and breaking out in goose bumps, I lean over the tub, strip her pants and big girl panties off, and place her on the potty.  She then gets ticked off by my close proximity to her and pleads for “privacy.” Obviously, I win the argument that I can’t actually go anywhere else (with suds streaming from my head and down my back), and she relaxes enough to do her business.

Of course when she finishes, we both take notice of the empty toilet paper roll.  With wet, pruned fingers, I once again lean outside the shower and try to place a roll of the cheapest one-ply paper the hotel could get a bargain on, back on the chrome fixture.  All the while, DJ is freaking out, “I do! I do! I do!” Again, I finally win the argument, put the roll on the spring-loaded thingy, and realize I now have to wipe her bum bum.  Needless to say, my shower ended abruptly, my arm pits went unshaven again, the conditioner surely hadn’t penetrated my split ends, i had toilet paper shreds streaming from mu fingertips, and the bathroom was a sopping mess.  

After emerging from the bathroom totally battered and bruised, with my husband’s call having just ended – I glared at him and said “How could we have forgotten her potty?” I mean, really, with EVERYTHING else we had remembered to pack – her favorite books, the sunglasses she likes to chuck at us, her special water bottle, the pillow from her bed, her life jacket and water socks, her favorite dolly – somehow, we had forgotten DJ’s potty….the one she can sit on all by herself, the one that has it’s own cubby for wipes. The one that doesn’t require parental supervision to use.

Then, there are the stairs.  We are staying in a lodge-like hotel, and our “room” is more like a two-story condo. There are 11 stairs from the first floor to the second.  Ask me how I know there are 11…..well, because I have walked up and down them fourteen hundred times in the past five days.  Aside from the in-room AC unit which blows cool air from it’s fan, the stairs are DJ’s favorite part of our room.  We don’t have stairs at home, and let me tell you – exercising was not high on my list of objectives for this vacation. At least I’m not feeling guilty about the S’mores.

I hadn’t really planned for the extreme separation anxiety and the associated need for DJ to be held by me almost every minute of every day.  I hadn’t really thought about how DJ would feel suddenly living in a new environment. I didn’t anticipate that she wouldn’t understand what vacation meant.  I hadn’t thought through that bringing a canopy for shade, our own chairs for lounging, all of DJ’s beach toys and a cooler for our fresh lunch on the beach would mean arms and hands full of crap that would require lugging to/from the room everyday.  I hadn’t really thought through how the changes in DJ’s routine would affect her mood, or how the majority of our meals out would effect ours (any two year old is not really known for their good restaurant manners).  I really just thought that “vacation” held a universal understanding of relaxation, freedom from responsibilities, and protection from all things grumpy.  Not so.

However, with all of that said (and yes, I am feeling loads lighter after that rant), there have been such precious memories made this week.  Watching DJ’s face light up each time she sees the Lake while she shouts, “Ocean, right there!” has been priceless (as has hearing her sweet little voice pronounce “Lake Tahoe,” has been as we correct her that it’s not the ocean).  Seeing her bravely jump around in the kiddie pool, practicing her favorite songs from swim lessons, has been a delight (and great confirmation that those lessons are money well spent).  Watching her pick up handfuls of sand, slowly releasing each grain through her fingers and into the light breeze has reminded me how much wonder is all around us if we just stop.  Just stop.  Stop worrying about the small stuff – like how we forgot to pack the potty.

Last night, we roasted marshmallows in a fire pit on the beach.  We watched the sunset as DJ discovered the gooeyness of roasted puffs of white sugar.  It was beautiful, and it was a blast.  It was also one of our finest “vacation moments.” And, if we walk away from these five days of craziness with only that memory etched into our minds, then the seven hours it took to travel what should have only taken four, will be more than well worth it.

Room service, please……

Enough with the Vacations!

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Posted by jamielentzner | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 22-08-2010

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Do you remember the Staples back to school commercial from a few years ago, where the Dad is riding a shopping cart through the store?  His two children are sulking and walking slowly behind him as he tosses school supplies into the cart, all while the Christmas song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” plays?  Ya – that one.  I feel like that right about now.   

But it not because I crave routine, or my kids are fighting over the wii and we have all had a little toomuch family time….well okay, it is sort of that.   Everyone I know has gone on some fabulous/exotic vacation.  My friends and family have been to Tahoe, Disneyland, Mexico, Spain, England, Canada, Germany, Japan, China, Vegas, Arizona, Palm Springs, New York, Yellowstone….and at least 34 of ‘em have gone to Hawaii.   What I really can’t wait for is to not open up Facebook every frickin’ morning to see one more person post a  57 fabulous pictures of their vacationing. 

I get it, life is fabulous when you are on vacation and you want to share it with the rest of us feeble poor people that are at our office working, while you sashay around the world.  I see the happy lightly sun-kissed pictures of your kids, the unbelievable sunset, the expensive foofy drinks with umbrellas you and your spouse drink poolside.  The truth is I am jealous, okay.  I am, I am, I am – and I am sure everyone else is too. 

Worse than the vacations are the Staycations (don’t ya hate that word? It is so lame and over used in “these tough Economic Times“).  The Stay at home Moms post pictures all day, every day of some little remarkable place they have visited in Northern California.  I have found myself clicking through someone’s photos only to find my son behind me, peeking at the places I did not take him this summer.  I want to take the day off and go to miniature golf, Great America, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Marine World, Muir Woods, Berkley, The Academy of Science and then top the night off with dinner in China Town.   And, yes I am jealous of all you too most days.

 I wonder if that is why people  okay we post 45 photos of our amazing vacation, unless they want people to be jealous.  I would actually like to see the other pictures every once in awhile.  You know where the kids are fighting, a child is crying, Mom is yelling and throwing the foofy drink at Dad….now those would be worth posting.  But, let’s face it no one (including me) is ever going to post those pictures.  Every Time a camera comes out we all start babbling if the photo is going to be “Facebook Worthy” and the “Don’t you dare post this on Facebook without my permission!”  (Ya, I got that speech once).

 Well I have had it – I am going on vacation!  I am getting in one last mini-vacation next week.  It is not super glamorous and their won’t be a $12.00 cocktail for miles around – but it will be beautiful and their will be a river and wineries.  Jealous yet?  You will be….oh wait, I will just make sure and post 65 some odd photos of my trip when I get back.  That ought to get ya!

I might need a vacation from this vacation….

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Posted by Rebecca Bingham, Special Needs Mommie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 30-06-2010

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“I want to go home. I WANT to go HOOOOME”.

Are we having a fun vacation yet?  That is the soundtrack of most of our vacations as a family.  I think that I have actually had each kid crying this at the same time IN THE MIDDLE OF DISNEYLAND.  I remember wondering how they missed the memo that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.

So summer has rolled around again and this week we made our annual trek to Park City, Utah.  This little town is nestled in the top of the Wasatch Range. It provides awesome skiing all winter and in the summer we get to take advantage of hiking, bike trails, swimming and even the occasional camping trip.   It has everything you might need to have a fun summer vacation–including wide open spaces and an absence of crowds that view YOUR child’s tantrum as a major detriment to THEIR time in the happiest place on earth.

Park City is also is where I grew up and is where my parents still live.   I look forward to this trip every year and each year we run into some of the same issues that make the trip less of a vacation and more of an exercise in endurance.  I decided to do more prep work this time to help make this trip successful for all of us.

In years past, being on vacation meant being on vacation. No schedule, no rules, no therapy, just fun and rest.    This didn’t work very well with my kids that really (and I mean REALLY) don’t do well with disruption.   The sudden switch to new surroundings, new people and no schedule caused more than a few meltdowns.  No one was really enjoying their “vacation” much.

This year I did a few things that have helped ease the transition.  We talked with the kids about what room they would stay in at Grandma’s house (and we try to have them stay in the same room each time). I brought a pillow case from each of their bedrooms–unwashed.  Weird, but their pillows looked and smelled like home.  We have been really careful to keep the basics of the schedule routine… get up, eat meals, and have some quiet time at the same time as we do at home.     We planned ahead of time what we were going to do and assigned each activity a day. We spend time talking about what we will do that day, what we are going to do the next day, etc. No surprises.  I also let the kids pick a play list to put on their iPod.   They started listening to it at bedtime at home, and then they got to listen to it at bedtime here too.  It is a bit more organized than I usually roll, but just bringing in a little bit of familiarity has made a big difference to all of us.

So far, so good.   We are on day 5 of our trip, and we had our first meltdown last night and it was pretty minor.  Usually by this time I am ready to go home.    We are having a lot of fun this trip and rolling with it.  Even the kids have remarked that this trip feels different.   Someday I might have the vacation that I dream of.  The one where I get to sleep in and no one melts down and they are all excited to do the same things that I am…..  I can dream right?

We are off to ride the Heber Creeper and have a picnic and float down the Provo river.  Happy 4th of July to all of you and hopefully you have a safe and fun holiday weekend.