Tag Archives: travel

The many stages of packing. 

For my people, summer travel generally means car travel.  I like the Northeast in the summer. I love the beaches, and I particularly dislike summer air travel. Once in a while we get on a plane, but more often than not, come summer, you can find us in the minivan. Ah, the minivan. I have detailed fantasies about an asteroid taking it out, but last time I checked it’s still here, and 101,000 miles later, we are still tooling around in it. 

With any trip, after the planning (I am bad at that), comes the packing (I am even worse). Everyone knows, that if I am left to pack for all of us, at least ONE person will travel without underwear. Thankfully, on these trips, I can count on the kids to pack themselves. Hell, if they want to travel with underwear, they have no choice; even the little ones have a list. God knows what’s in their bag, but at least I don’t have to pack it. 

Packing is bad, so bad that it comes in stages, like grief. Here are the ones I can think of, so far: 

1. The denial phase: This generally involves me sitting on the floor in my bedroom overwhelmed. Many things in my life have me sitting on the floor of my bedroom overwhelmed, but none more than packing. In this phase, I tell myself that this time will be different. This time I won’t pack 14,000 little bags for myself (M hates this, he especially hates that of the 14,000 little bags I pack for myself, NOT ONE of them zips shut). But I like to put things in little bags because I believe it is easier to find things if they are in little bags. (I also love collecting little bags, and summer travel lets me use them.) I have a shoe bag, a toiletry bag, a book bag. You get the picture. In this phase though, I am completely convinced that this time I will remember my underwear and this time I’ll be more streamlined, because when you travel with 14,000 little bags, you are likely to lose one on the trip. 

2. The kitchen sink phase: This follows pretty quickly, and we are all guilty. I get asked questions like: I just made slime, can I bring it with me? (NO), and When you said three outfits, did you mean six? (NO), and IS THREE FOOTBALLS TOO MANY? (YES). In this phase, the kitchen floor looks something like this:  

 
I don’t even know that the hell is in those bags, but I’m pretty sure we need none of it. This phase also has me emptying out the Stone Age contents of the freezer into a bag to bring with us because if we have yet to eat it at home we are definitely going to eat it on the road.

3. The I hate my children phase: I know they have packed their own bags, but that’s pretty much it. I asked one of them to empty the dishwasher and was turned down, so I had to move down the line. I asked them to empty the garbage. Three times. The garbage, which is bursting forth with crap, has still not been touched. Every so often, I pass by and shove all the crap down so it looks a little less awful, but then someone washes his hands and used 200 paper towels and leaves them all on top… 

 

4. The I really fucking hate my children phase: This phase has me outside, drinking. Ok, it’s usually iced coffee or kombucha (DON’T), but I’m still sitting on the back step, shaking with anger and chugging a cold beverage. Inside, 5 children are all in front of a screen. One is crying because her iPod keeps shutting down and she isn’t sure how she’s going to make the trip. Another is playing some princess shit on MY ipad, which makes me crazy, because there is literally nothing in this house that they don’t touch. One of them asks me why we have to take car trips when other people get to go to Hawaii in the summer. Yeah, says another, how come we’re not going to Hawaii? I just spent 20 minutes wondering from room to room trying to remember what it was I came into the room for, and I am strung out. I try to explain that not only is Hawaii on the other side of the world, but that seven tickets to Hawaii… oh, whatever, they don’t even care. 

5. M’s intervention: At this point in our marriage, he knows better than to tell me I’m wrong or to calm down, so he just reminds me that this trip was my idea. Of course, that never makes things worse. He then tells me to channel friends of ours who never seem to lose their shit. He says, correctly, that these friends of ours would ditch the kids and go for coffee. We look at each other and we both know that if he and I leave the kids and go for coffee, we may never come back. We may even go to Hawaii. 

6. Retreat: At some point, I come back inside the house, and finish up the packing. At some point, the TV is turned off. At some point, our stuff gets in the car, and we follow suit. The children are even moderately helpful – at least some of them are. And at some point, we get on the road and the packing phase ends and the puking phase begins (another story, entirely). 

But nobody ever emptied that trash. 

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Filed under Minivans, Road trip, summer camp, travel, Uncategorized

The Flying Pony ?

I’ve been less than productive in terms of blogging this month because we are days away from the bar mitzvah of our oldest child. The bar mitzvah involves a large family trip, the planning of which seems to be akin to the Normandy Invasion. 

Being a shitty planner means that not only can I not plan well (duh), but also that I cannot plan and do anything else at the same time.

You may be unsurprised to learn that I am a worse packer than a planner. On each trip at least one person arrives with no underwear, and if there is an item that we absolutely must remember to bring – yup, you guessed it.

The kids tried to help me pack, and by help I mean SHOVE STUFF IN MY CASES I HAVE NO INTENTION OF BRINGING.  The list can include such wonders as: 4 sticks of Axe deoderant (Really Sir. How many armpits do you have?), the entire Pinkalicious collection (which if you’ve been following, clearly jumped the shark at Goldilicious), a Peyton Manning lightswitch cover, enough Pirate Booty to sink a .. ship, and this: 

 

Each time I remove this cursed beast from my case, it finds its way back in. If you see a bright pink plastic Barbie pony falling from the sky, you’ll know it stowed away only to be discovered mid-flight. 

Don’t pity the pony; according to her owner, all Barbie ponies can fly.

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The Long Road Home (if you moan about the Springsteen I WILL leave you on the side of the road.)

It’s never as much fun driving home. We are all a bit deflated. We have none of the anticipation that propelled our way out … ten days ago. We have seen all the movies on our devices many times over. We are running out of food, on the last dregs of our supplies. We are grating on each other’s nerves. Sort of like the Donner Party. But not.

I brought our last pack of frozen cold cuts for the trip but forgot to defrost them. Here they are sunning themselves on the dashboard.

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(Loud child in the way back: I cannot currently attend to you. I am blogging. Hush.)

It seems we have all been together forever. Other than M, I can’t remember the last time I spoke to someone I didn’t birth.

It seems that everyone is peeing a lot more than usual.

It seems that I didn’t fully clean off all of Sidney’s puke off my t-shirt.

It seems we are subsisting on Pirate Booty and stale water.

It seems that I have not explained to these children the importance of silence during a Springsteen song.

It seems like I might need a vacation from this vacation.

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Filed under blogging\, children, Summer, travel

London.

Truly my happy place. Here with the boys for the bar mitzvah of the son of one of my dearest pals.

The event was this morning. Forgot to pack deodorant. Had to use Bennett’s.
They served fish balls in synagogue which I ate with reckless abandon.

So I spent much of the day reeking of Axe deodorant and chopped and fried fish.

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Despite all that, the trip is a big success so far. Traveling with the boys is almost luxurious. True, they spend the entire time worrying that their “devices” will run out of battery (chill kids, it isn’t a pacemaker); but they also carry my luggage.

Tradeoffs…

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Filed under children, parenting, snow, travel, Uncategorized

Trippin’

Once a year I take a giant spill while on my morning run. It is always in the same spot. This is the spot as viewed by me while sitting on my ass on the concrete:

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The spot is about half a mile south of my house. I only run south if I’m feeling too tired for the hills of the park, if I feel like a change of scenery, or if it’s too early to be out on the loop alone. Normally, I trip over a tree root, or a raised bit of pavement, but last week I fell TWICE. Once over that damn root; the second time I was dragging so badly I tripped over the bloody curb. So now I’m sporting bloody knuckles (first fall) and banged up knees (second). I fell flat onto my face and was even showing off a rather attractive swollen lip. Really, I’m quite the sight for sore eyes. I just have to be thankful I didn’t knock out my tooth (it did hurt)… then I’d have fit in really well at Lake Chelan, where we spent this past weekend, our final one here in Washington State.

Clearly I need to get myself some more sleep. I tried explaining this to Sidney at five am while she was yelling me about the placement of her blanket, or to M as he was leaving for NY for a couple of days. I even tried having a conversation with the “to-d0” list that I typed into my phone. I consult this list obsessively, but do not seem to be shortening it at all.

So far, nothing has worked. The list grows and I look more and more like Rocky Balboa.

I did knock off one item on the list: Today I took the boys to the pediatrician for their (somewhat belated) 9 and 11 year checkups.

These are not the feet you want to show to the pediatrician:

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Sadly, they actually look cleaner in this picture that they do in real life.

After a several year hiatus, it was time for Bennett to get some shots. Three of them. So he hid:

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At least his feet were clean.

On the way home, we talked about the move to NYC and one of them said: “I want to go to Madison Square Garden and pee on the grass. Just so I can say I’ve done it.” I explained that the Garden isn’t really a garden.

But I just want to get there.. in one piece.

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Filed under children, moving, parenting, Seattle, Uncategorized

What do you really think?

Spent the holiday weekend in Portland, vacationing with some friends and visiting with M’s grandmother.

God should really grant me a very long life,  because apparently when you hit your nineties, you can say whatever the hell you want.

She is a remarkable cook, even if it seems that at any given moment she may set fire to the entire kitchen. I asked her how she made her chicken.

“First I brown it, then I put it in the oven.”

“How long do you brown it for?”

She looked at me like I was a complete idiot.

“Until it’s brown.”

Obviously.

I’m used to her uncensored comments about other family members, but I’m  not used to being at the wrong end of them myself.

“You’ve changed your hair.”

Yes, I said. My ends were fried and the layers will make everything a bit healthier… I babble, trying to convince myself that I like it.

“I liked it better before,” she said.

“And that bag,” she said referring to a bright blue purse I bought when my friend N came to visit from LA this past week. (I hate to shop alone. Visiting friends = shopping trips where we buy identical items which can make us feel a tiny bit closer. Just ask H from London, who now owns the same jeans as I am wearing right now.)

But I digress.

That bag. “It’s ok for travel,” she begins. “But it’s not for a fancy girl like you.”

I am secretly thrilled to be a fancy girl. So thrilled that I don’t care about the bag slight.

The hair is still annoying me. I needed to get it off my face today, and I asked Francie to borrow one of the 16 ponytail holders she wears on her twiggish wrist. She flatly refused me, even when I pointed out that I bought all of those bloody elastics.

“Fine,” I said. “Fiona will give me one. She’s the generous one. And when I die, she’s going to get ALL of my jewelry.”

Maybe I don’t need to wait until I’m 90.

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Filed under children, parenting, travel, Uncategorized

Damn That No Return Policy.

I once bought a pair of shoes in a final sale, loved them in the store (even though they were a rather distinct shade of pink), but were shockingly unable to find anything with which to wear them. I have also been known to buy things on vacation (those alpaca sweaters from Peru come to mind), but look downright silly in them when I try to wear them at home. I couldn’t return the shoes or the brightly-striped sweater, so I was either stuck with them, or had to pass them on. (If you see someone in a tacky Peruvian sweater and size ten fuchsia heels,  you’ll know she shops at the Goodwill on Dearborn Ave. )

In hindsight, I should never really buy anything with a no return policy.

Sometimes I feel like that about my kids. Or, more specifically, my two year old.

At the time of conception it all seemed like a grand idea. I was jolly and buoyant during the interminable pregnancy. Even the hospital scene was both dewy and euphoric. But lately I find myself cursing that damned policy.

Today she got her hands on a Sharpie from Bennett’s binder and unleashed herself on my dining room table. My white lacquered dining room table. Now, this is no precious piece of furniture. I’ve had this table for about nine years, and I’ve managed to remove all sorts of scratches and marks. But I am not feeling at all confident about THIS:

IMG_1924[1]When I scolded at her, she shouted right at me: “IT’S NOT FAIR!”

I’ll tell you what’s not fair, sister. It’s not fair that I can’t return you for a more compliant model.

Minutes later she escaped to the deck where she got her hands on a brand new box of sidewalk chalk. I heard her whooping with delight and foolishly thought, “Ah the happy wee thing. Finding joy in some fresh air and art.” I was even momentarily impressed when I heard her calling out all her colors. (A personal favorite: “Lellow!”)

But I walked outside to find her throwing the very last piece of chalk off the deck and onto the concrete below, where it joined its brothers in smithereens.

I tried talking to her about this, but she barked, “Get your butt out of here! Right now!”

I wish I were kidding.

And so I did. I got my exhausted backside right out of there and sat in a dark room until I came to my senses. Unfortunately, my senses never arrived, so at some point I just got up and walked back out.

Folks, it seems that I am stuck with this defective model. Lellow ringlets and all.

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Filed under children, parenting, Seattle, Uncategorized