Friday, June 26, 2009

Channeling Jane in a leopard tankini...

Vacation…Webster defines a vacation as a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. We bank our time and save our money planning for that perfect vacation. We each have our own version of what that vacation would entail. For me, heck, all I need is a good book, some celebrity mags, a comfortable beach chair and a steady stream of libations served to me with little umbrellas by a waiter on the beach, preferably a cute one. Others may appreciate spending their time strolling the streets of Paris with a French dictionary in their pocket, eating coconut macaroons while navigating the sky for the closest way to the Eiffel Tower. But you get my drift.

During the first 10 years of my marriage, the Big Cheese* and I have been fortunate enough to take some great vacations, both to the beach and traveling across the globe. These trips, overall were never that adventurous and mostly consisted of good food, strong drinks and lots of R&R.

So how on earth now, after having two children, a sore hip and 10% more body fat have our vacations turned into one never ending commercial for Bass Pro Shops Superstore. Now a giant outdoor nightmare, complete with real sweat, bug spray, Merrel shoes and a handheld GPS. Bye-bye pina coladas, island dance clubs and sleeping through breakfast. Hello waking up at the butt crack of dawn, bug bites the size of quarters and the ever popular game of “Hey Cheese*, don’t touch that mushroom, its poisonous. Goodbye private bathrooms-- hello squatting in two feet of stagnant water pretending to look for fish while you pee, in PUBLIC.

Our most recent vacation or I should say excursion brought us to woods of North Carolina. I was looking forward to a nice quiet week visiting my parents in their log cabin. I didn't have much planned, I would mostly spend the time catching up on my soaps, joining in happy hour at 4:30pm, followed by a couple of games of penny canasta and concluding on the couch watching a 9pm rerun of Law & Order. Instead on day two, before I had a chance to finish my first cup of coffee and make a plan for the day the Big Cheese* had loaded the kids and me into the minivan and we driving straight into the Pisgah National Forest. Instead of catching up on Days of Our Lives, I spent my day screaming for my life, sliding down a 150 foot giant rock into a 7 foot pool of freezing cold water. I kept thinking each time I face planted into the ice cold water, after getting back my breath and pulling my wedgie out of my in the hell did he find this place? What did he Google “dangerous slippery natural waterside, located in the godforsaken underbrush of the Pisgah National Forest”?

So box was checked, surely one “outdoor adventure” would tide hubby over for this trip. I was not so lucky. On day three, while many of my friends were Facebooking about their great island vacations in the Florida Keys and St. Maarten, I was stuck in banjo country white water rafting down the Tuckaseegee River with no guide, in a raft wearing my leopard printed tankini. No drinks, no food, no nothing, just a paddle and a prayer. Oh, and to top off the assemble, I have to mention my hideous pair of water shoes, neon pink and black slip ons, two sizes to big purchased 15 minutes prior to push off at the local Kmart. The only think I remember during the purchase was the Big Cheese running behind me as we were going to be late, yelling “honey don’t worry, you can wear those shoes next time we go rafting”. Next time, what is he kidding? If only I could locate the GPS, maybe I could send a diress signal and have someone air lift me out of this Fish and Stream nightmare.

In retrospect had I known we would be sliding down giant rocks and white water river rafting I would have left home my black Steve Madden heels and leopard tankini and opted for some semi-fashionable river shoes, and a pair of jean shorts.

OK so you can see I am pretty pleasant to deal with, but after all my bitching and moaning I have to say that the vacation was not a total bust, it was definitely adventurous and maybe even a little empowering. I did feel young sliding down that slippery rock, I imagined myself as Angelina Jolie sliding through ancient tombs of the never world, even if I looked like a tramp. And more importantly as family we got to try some fun things together. There is something to be said for seeing a child’s eyes light up for the first time when they attempt and later conquer something new. And although I griped the ENTIRE time during both outdoor trips, the girls had a blast. They embraced these adventures like the little Lara Crofts they inspire to be. And while the Big Cheese* may have missed the mark marrying me and my love of all things silky, shiny and fashionable, he did hit the jackpot with our girls, Mac and Cheese*. Their eyes are wide open and they are eager to experience all of life’s great adventures as long as we continue to show them the way. If he, or should I say we keep this up, those little girls will surely conquer the world one giant rock at a time. Of course they will be wearing fashionable shoes, I mean seriously why can they?

**Names have been changed to protect the innocent and obnoxious. All blogs now refer to my nine year old as "Mac", my five year old as "Cheese" and my hubby as "the Big Cheese" because he is the cheesiest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Over the river and through the woods...

to Grandmother's house we go. Only today we hop on the closest southwest flight and we stay with the kids rather than drop them off. The trips are pretty short...mostly a long weekend. And we all look forward to the time we can spend together as a family, or so we think. As I sit here in the mountains in North Carolina at my parents gorgeous cabin overlooking pastures of green grass, vibrant blue jays and cardinals feed from the bird feeder and wind chimes ceremoniously clanking in the background, I am interrupted by Mac, "I'm bored" she says. Seriously. Her words come out of her mouth like tiny little knives. As I look over to her from my perch in the rocking chair, her shoulders are slumped, she is in fact, in defeat. Her pink Nintendo DS is dangling from her left hand while the Wii Guitar is strapped around her neck. Under stairs are two boxes of toys that I packed myself after asking the girls numerious times to pack, also included are books and "journals" and coloring supplies we have bought for them the past week to keep Mac and Cheese busy and still Mac is bored and we are on only day two.

Should I tell her about when I was a kid my parents would drop off my brother and me at my Nana and Pop-Pop's in Ocala in an old folks home/ trailer park for a week at a time. We would have nothing more than a game of Yahtzee, an electric organ and a couple of gardening shovels and we found ways to keep ourselves completely occupied. We had a great time, and looked forward to getting our hands on those three objects, there were plenty of things we could do. For instance, we could "dig to china" using the 3x2 gardening shovels (this was an all day affair and we swore we could hear little Chinese conversations if we held our ears down to the soil). Or we would read the label of a shampoo bottle to the jazzy prerecorded tune of the electric organ and make our own commercials. And there was always the standby, we could pick up a game of Yahtzee in the carport with Nana and Pop-Pop or any kids that were also left in the trailer park for the weekend, not to mention the tons of games we made up with the five dice from the game. You could count on dinner to be served promptly at 5pm and you ate whatever was served on your plate (no requests). However, if you finished your meal you could take advantage of the cold lemon drops in the refrigerator or a frozen slice of Sarah Lee Coconut Cake. After dessert we would move to the family room and watch Lawrence Welk, catch a episode of Animal Kingdom or there were always the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney Movie. Life was so simple, both sweet and sour, but we never thought to complain or even mutter the words... I'm bored, at least that is how I remember it, my Nana may disagree.

Now traveling to see the grandparents is a family affair and one that is cherished by all. We get to travel to some great locations, the beach, the mountains and up north to New England. Kids are treated like the princesses they are, fed the meals they want and as parents we are rewarded with great adult conversations and happy hour each evening. I am not sure what other precautions to take to make sure the kids stay happy. The more they have the more they want and the more interaction they need. Maybe I should stage an intervention, box up the toys, Nintendo and the Ipods and leaving out a game of Boggle and two hula hoops and get back down to basics. Heck, I could even force them to sit through a hour of Lawrence Welk and the Donny & Marie show. Or on the other hand, maybe I should just drop them off and take a week's vacations, I mean seriously why can't I?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quotes from the last week...

While playing Cooking Mama...hey Daddy wanna help me bread this fish, because if you do you can be a real fry cook when you grow up.

You know the coin I threw in the fountain yesterday, I wished for little boobies, not as big as yours.

You know mom, I will never wear sunglasses that big.

From grandpa, after drinking a 12 pack...I have a headache today but I think it is from the sunburn I got two days ago playing golf. Yeah right.

Mommy, I found this egg I am going to put it in my pouch and sit on it and maybe it will grow a new baby chick.

On our way to our friends cabin, Cheese says, "Hey don't they have a wishing well at their house." Yes we said how did you remember that, you haven't seen the house for a year. Cheese says, "I wished last year that I would remember that wishing well."

Moving on up...

Ten things I have learned this week while moving...

As we sit here up to our asses and elbows in boxes, hubby in the backyard trying to keep Mac and Cheese entertained with a hose, a couple of things come to mind.

1. Hubby is right, I really do have shopping issues.

2. Do we really need three different sets of dishes? We haven't used the China since we bought it four years ago, what are we waiting for the return of Jesus?

3. Of all the crap, we only have 3 pieces of "good art" so what do we call the other 48 pictures and portraits, I guess "bad art".

4. If you lift up 4 out of 5 items, you will find a Hobby Lobby or TJ Maxx price sticker on the bottom.

5. I have one brand of every face cream advertised since 2006.

6. Oreos, oreos, oreos

7. Watching HGTV is not a good idea while moving, it becomes very tempting to put your boxes at the curb and start all over.

8. Cats while they are great getting into tight spots (like in between boxes) aren't as great at getting out of them. I realized this, this morning as I circled the neighborhood looking for a lost cat.

9. No matter where you hide your "personal toys", a packer will always find it and be sure to place it at the top of your box, just to show you that they are onto you.

10. After a week of packing I am actually looking forward to living with all of my worldly possessions "in a van down by the river."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Superfriends, I need you...

What ever happened to the Superfriends, I am in some duress and I need Aquaman to talk to all of his fish friends and swim me out. Actually, I know that answer, they now hold fort on cartoon network, lodged in between Adult Swim and Total Drama Island and come on at 10pm at night, when my kids should be in bed. (which is another topic altogether).

I miss cartoons, and I realized how much I missed them this morning as I sipped my first cup of coffee watching The Worse Animal Nightmares. This morning "as a family" we watched a woman that survived three death rolls by a gigantic crocodile and a man in New Zealand whose kayak was attacked by a shark. I was actually hoping to watch a family hiking in the mountains get mauled by an adult grizzly bear, but it seemed this morning we checked New Zealand and the Amazon off of the list of places to go before we die. And what was worse is that Mac and Cheese thought that these were the actually shots of these horrific episodes, as if a cameraman had been recording the entire bloody disaster while Ms. Dumb Ass Explorer was being death rolled by a 14 foot croc. I admit, an overall parenting score of 4 out of 10 for me this week, does it count we watched it as a family?

It seems this generation of children have skipped over cartoons altogether. Sure Cheese, my youngest may catch PBS every now and again for an episode of Clifford or Curious George, and Mac when she was young did watch some afternoon cartoons and hour here and there. But I find that even though there are at least 5 dedicated channels for children's television, which is about 5 more than we had as kids, this generation seems to lean towards the TV sitcoms and reality television shows. My kids if given the opportunity would not be able to tell the difference between the Geico cavemen and Fred Flinstone. What ever happened to the Jetsons, the Smurfs and Captain Caveman? Saturday mornings even now hold a special place in my childhood. I remember waking up early on a sunny Saturday morning, grabbing a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and traveling to Conjunction Junction. It is sad to me that Saturday mornings are just like any other day. Instead they are spent playing Guitar Hero, watching Animal Planet, and maybe a random episode of Hannah Montana, FOR THE 9th TIME. But I will not give up, like J.T. sung instead of bringing "sexy back" I want to bring the Superfriends back..."I want to hear my favorite phrase once again..."Wonder twin powers activate- form of a bucket of water, form of an eagle", I mean why can't I???

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Few sinners are saved after twenty minutes of a sermon"...Mark Twain

Door bell rings. I run to answer it with wet hair from the pool, no bra under my FSU t-shirt with a handful of Tostitos and 6 kids in the backyard playing/screaming. A nice looking couple is on my porch with a Bible in their hand and spiritual enlightenment in their eyes. "Hi we are from VBS and we had Mac in our class last week." Uh, huh was all I could mutter with my mouth full of chips as I realized that this was more a meet and greet and not a drop off. "Did Mac tell you that she made a big decision last week? She made a vow to bring Jesus into her life as her saviour and creator." Oohhhh, that is what she was talking about last week when she blurted out from the backseat, "Hey mom I'm a Christian now." I guess I should have done some probing.
So here we were on my front patio. Completely clueless and a little taken off guard, the good looking man sensing my shock, asks if I had any questions for him as he was here on my front porch to support Mac's decision and would like to talk more about what it means to bring Jesus into Mac's life and to us as a family. After I brushed the chips off of my shirt and strategically crossed my arms across my chess to cover my nipples I had to pull out the "move card" once again. Kept especially for times like these, the "move card" is especially handy whenever the word commitment comes to play. And as if that wasn't enough, I laid all my cards on the table, also mentioning that hubby was on the road this week traveling to move up one of our cars, I had 6 hungry kids in the backyard, and although I looked like I could use some saving, this was not the time. "Can we pray for you right now then?" Uh, OK. So the three of us bowed our heads on my front porch while the good looking couple prayed for me and the fam and the move and my hubby driving cross country. Although it seemed a little hokey at first, it was nice to know that someone was looking out for us, even if it was the Holy Father himself.

Coincidentally, as I mentioned above about the time I was having the front yard prayer service, hubby was driving on the opposite side of the state on his way cross country to drop off one of our cars. As he pulls up to a stop light and a man in the truck next to him is motioning to get his attention. Curious, hubby rolls down the window and the man is doing the "international sign" for something that men only want women to do...picture a mouth and a moving hand. Disgusted, he can't believe it and immediately rolls his eyes and his window up.

I do not make this stuff up. Seriously, how can I?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Pep Rally...We are the light...

On Mondays I will start what will be called my Monday Pep Rally. There are a great deal of interesting stories of strong, amazing women before us that paved their way in history, laying the ground work so that we could rise up and become the independent, strong, kick ass women that we are. So I am going to highlight their efforts here, as many were never recognized for their heroism and courage. Sure I admit this is not the New York Times Monday column, the shout out here is quite small with the four people that read this blog, actually three including my mom...but every little bit counts. I mean seriously, why can't I?

The Women at the Lighthouse

In 1857, at age 15, Ida Lewis took over her father's lighthouse when he became ill in Newport, Rhode Island. A year or two later she pulled out four young men out of the water after their boat overturned. And a year later she saved two more soldiers whose boat had capsized in a storm. The public was fascinated with the story of a woman who did not even stop to put on her shoes before jumping into a boat and rowing out into the rough sea to rescue the drowning men. Yet the government waited ten more years to recognize her feats and only after several more dramatic rescues. And finally years later was she named official lighthouse keeper.

So I started to think about this story and how many of us are the lighthouse keepers of our family but like what happened to Ida, we are rarely recognized. As mothers and wives at any given moment we are willing and able to jump into a boat without shoes to "rescue the ones we love". Speaking of no shoes, I do remember taking the girls to Taco Bell for dinner one night only to realize that I was wearing my slippers. I was mortified. Comfort is one thing, but if you are under 80 years old and you can't find time to put on a pair of shoes before you leave the house, then maybe you should have your pizza delivered to your double-wide instead.

Back on topic. For our families, we are the strong, independent, kiss ass women, that keep the lights shining while at times burning the candle at both ends. From making sure our children put on clean underwear (out of the drawer and not from the floor, "no honey those are Monday's panties, smell them") to preparing our kids with the best advice on how to find and keep their place in the world. Number 5 of mom's can never be too overdressed. I taught that one to Mac just last week.

Sure there are times that we feel our own boat capsizing: there are some mornings where I have completed 2 loads of laundry, checked homework, refereed two rounds of boxing and cooked to order 4 eggs "sunny side up with the yolks still runny, but not too runny, no pepper, some salt, but not too much salt and buttered toast" all before 8am without my first cup of coffee, without a thank you. And at times we can all be self-deprecating. Our arms hurt from rowing and we feel like we will never get to those "soldiers" for the waves and the current pulls us other directions. But today take the time to enjoy your strength and your accomplishments and maybe tell a friend about her great accomplishments as well. We could all use some recognition every now and again and on more than just one day of the year. Everyday we should hold our head high as we Windex (for the third time that day) the lighthouse lamp, as we know that we are the official lighthouse keepers, guiding the wary seafarers, of our life, back home to us.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quotes of the week...and a story from the past.

As I figure out a format for the blog I think that Fridays will be a good day to quote and reflect. I mean why can't I right?

(First a disclaimer, in order to protect the innocent, and not so innocent, I am going to assign names to my girls... from here on they my eight year old beautiful blue eyed girl will be called, Mac. And my freckled face little cherub will be called Cheese.)

When asked Mac about her day at Vacation Bible School, Mac simply replied, "You know Mom, Cheese is definitely a sinner."

Driving in the van, Cheese asked me "Mom, were there artichokes in the olden days, you know when you were young."

Cheese says, "oh that felt good, it was an air poot and it stayed in my pants".

Did she really say that?...
During the school year Mac was tasked to make a chocolate bar, name it and write a short advertisement for it after reading Chocolate Fever in class. We were in the kitchen discussing this project and after two days she came up with a name...she was going to call it the "Dick Bar". As you can imagine we were both appalled but at the same time flabbergasted as to where she would ever learn that name or associate it to a chocolate bar, we all know that they are nothing alike. She explained further that she was going to call it the DIK bar because that was backwards for KID. Whew, allowing Mac to watch Yes Man had not come back to haunt us, this of course had made more sense. But now we had to justify why all of the blood had drained from our faces a few minutes earlier. Hubby threw a long pass and a shoulder shrug and it was up to me to take it home. I explained that Dick was another name for pen__ (I know I am being a sissy, but not ready quite yet to be linked to nakedness and debauchery) just like ass was another name for butt, and hoo hoo was for vagi__. To this Cheese responds, "yeah I am still trying to find my 'gina, is it close to my ass?"

Monday, June 1, 2009

V is for victory, verbal contracts and vacation bible school

"I don't want to go mommy, please please don't make me go". We have been negotiating for weeks, in total we have made three pinky swears and two verbal contracts.. Conditions: "I will only go if you take me AND pick me up." A final handshake and the deal is made. You may think that I was sending my five year old to the underworld to sit at the right hand of Hades to rule as his bride for all of eternity. Only I wasn't, I was sending her to... Vacation Bible School.

VBS as it is so affectionately called, I have recently discovered is on of the most wonderful, happy places on earth. Three hours a day for a five days, children of all ages flock to our local churches to take part in good ole Christian fellowship, songs, crafts and most importantly for parents it buys us one more week of peace before summer chaos sets in. Not to mention that we as parents get to check our "being a good Christian parent" box as now both of my children can sing the books of the Bible in order to a catchy tune. Until this year I had never taken part in the VBS phenomenon, however now, it has now earned a coveted spot on my list of "great ideas" right in between buying colored underwear, as an alternative to white, for my husband and finding a delicious powder to mix with a avocado to make homemade guacamole.

So while I am patting myself on the back with a job well done. My five year old suffers through her own insecurities and has turned her week in VBS into a "week without mom, dad, the pool, my sister, my cats and my house." Contracts in place, on day one I march her freckled face, thirty pound scrawny little butt to school, I am rewarded with what was probably one of her top ten temper tantrums, even Charles F. Richter didn't see this one coming. When the dust had settled she had assaulted two teachers and traumatized twelve of her peers as they started to wonder if VBS was really the place for them as well. After the "hand off" I nervously bolted out the door and didn't look back. Day two was a little easier, only after we renegotiated the terms and now I would drop off and give a longer hug and kiss (I guess she saw me bolt on day one). As we roll into day three, there is nowhere to go but up and if we can all get out with a couple of hurt feelings and some broken fingernails than we are OK. Overall this has been a battle of wills. And although she did not win this round, as we are forcing her to complete the week, she definitely opened our eyes to her stubbornness and tenacity. Not to mention we did get a preview into what life will be like in her early teens. Her dreams of becoming a ballerina are now in the toilet as she has proven herself a strong negotiator and we will start to cultivate that seed very soon. In the meantime she needs to just get over it, as next year when I have the whole summer in front of me I am going to start early, and coordinate a solid two months of Vacation Bible School at all participating churches in a 20 mile radius. Seriously why can't I?