Browsing Posts tagged family vacation

I’ve mentioned my crippling fear of sharks and how the Florida shark migration happens to coincide with our vacation, on the same beach we frequent, while helicopters circle and teenage lifeguards wish they had chosen any career but this one while they shake in their high chairs and snort zinc oxide.
I. Am. NOT. Afraid.
There’s really no reason for me to be scared. I have no interest/business going into the ocean so I feel totally comfortable watching surfers, metal detector guys and exotic birds parade around in front of my picnic blanket while I eat sandy granola bars and shout, “Crab!” but then when someone looks, they dart into their make-shift crab shacks and make me look like a liar.

Then yesterday when my kids and husband were playing in the waves and I pretended I had some important architectural detail to tend to on our sand castle, I noticed a family setting up camp next to our blanket/snack buffet.

The Dad next to me waved hello and we smiled as his wife placed their blanket.

He waved with his left arm because his right arm appeared to be missing.

I’m not saying it was a result of a shark attack. I’m not saying that but come on.

I always feel a little extra stress on our final day of a family vacation.
The same shoes that were kicked off full of sand a week ago with huge laughs are now being tossed angrily out the door with a, “Who kicks their sandy shoes all over the floor? What are we animals?”
I try not to let the kids know I’m on edge. Nervous about the flight, the clean-up, worrying about leaving behind a favourite toy, or blanket or Hanna’s latest animal print lace sleeves.
Chloe senses something is different and starts acting out, more than usual.
She hits her sister in the face and while I would normally tell Hanna how she could better duck or defend herself from such actions, I become increasingly angry at the three year old.
I start my routine of making beds, cleaning bathrooms so we leave the place looking less sandy than the first day we kicked off our shoes and assign Greg the task of sweeping the main floor.
When I finsh washing all of the sheets, duvet covers, making the beds and scrubbing bathrooms, I ask Greg if he’s eager for another job.
“No, I’m just checking my email.”
I enter the newly “swept” room but I’m unsure if there is more or less sand than that first day and when I ask Greg if he moved any furniture out of the way he says, “I did but you’d be surprised how dust can really move around.”

Plan B–Greg takes the kids outside while I work on the final round-up.
Minutes later, I’m “re-sweeping” the floor, I hear a knock at the door.
It’s my six year old handing me a box so I can collect the recycling and she would like to deposit it all into the bigger bin.

Ellie: Also, it gives me an excuse to come back for a Mommy-hug.

Huh. Kids.

Who knew?

You know when you’re in a hotel or at a home away from home or on vacation and you take your baby back to your room or suite or bunkie or ice hut and you think, the baby can nap and I’ll get so much done?
But the clacking of your keyboard is enough to startle the baby into a hysterical, frigid starfish and wake up screaming so you opt instead to wash dishes quietly but the running water is so much louder than it is at home so you brush your teeth but the electric toothbrush while buzzing a soothing hum isn’t consistent when turned off abruptly after the scheduled 2 min. mark, you can’t risk it so just the one front tooth sparkles.
You can’t put clothes in the dryer because slamming the door with enough force to actually close it will send your child into a post traumatic stress induced coma as would the totally unnecessary blaring buzz indicating the end of a cycle.
You can’t flush the toilet so you pee (while shushing the urine) and leave it sitting in the bowl.
You can’t turn on the kettle for a cup of tea because the whistling water sounds like a dozen squirrels are screaming.
You could make the beds but you can’t risk swearing while trying to make perfect hospital corners.

Running the dishwasher–out
Showering–out. What if you’re rinsing your hair and your baby falls out of bed and rolls down the stairs and you can’t hear her over your uncanny interpretation of Kelly Clarkson’s Mr. Know It All?
Or what if the baby walks out the front door?
Then you hear the gleeful squeals of children skipping down the hall so you smile, poke your head out and yell, “Hey kids! SHUT!!! UP!!!

So you sit on the couch careful not to scrunch the leather beneath too loudly and you stare blankly at the wall for an hour and a half.
When your husband returns and sees the mess, the pee-filled toilet, the dryer door dangling on its hinges, a kettle filled with cold water, dirty dishes, unmade beds, lint-riddled carpets, a complaint notice from the front desk about the crazy mother in 4B who screamed at some kids on holiday with the Make A Wish Foundation and you’re as disheveled as you’ve ever looked (with really repulsive breath) and asks, “What have you been doing all this time?”
You have my permission to punch him in the gizzard.


Ellie: Mommy, can we buy an RV?


Ellie: Can we rent one?

Sure, let’s rent an RV.

Ellie: Well, what is an RV technically?

It’s a bus-like vehicle where a family can travel and sleep in the same place. (My worst nightmare)

Ellie: That sounds AWESOME!

To whom?

Ellie: Can we wear hats and stuff?

It would be weird if we didn’t.

Ellie: Let’s buy an RV and hire a driver to drive us around.

Why not? Where would you like to go?

Ellie: Can it drive anywhere?


Ellie: Okay, let’s go to the glow-in-the-dark-mini-putt place.

Deal–but we’re taking our hats off.

Flying home yesterday, once again the “airline” mixed up our seating arrangement and I was assigned an exit row while the other four members of my family were lovingly lined up eager to share mixed nuts, crushed pretzels and beg for ginger ale only to be told they could have water or become dehydrated. As parents, we agree, it’s always better to give the kids choices.

My seat-mate resembled a more feminine looking Weird Al Yankovic on first glance. He/she was on the tall side with crinkly curls, a mash-up of colours painted on his/her fingers, fluorescent sneakers. Not any particular shade—just exceptionally bright but surprisingly not distracting enough to draw me away from our conversation.

When Al smiled at me and cleared his/her throat, I knew I was in for one last adventure before returning home.

Al, or Alexa, was very forthcoming with his story. I too had a choice. I could either pretend I heard the baby squealing directly behind me (Chloe) and pretend I was bothered by the constant yanking of the tray table which felt like someone behind me (Hanna) was patting my back trying to induce a burp and I could even pretend I couldn’t hear the incessant whining about the health benefits of ginger ale.

Instead, I opted to ignore the back row back tappers and listen intently to Al’s story.

In just two short hours, I learned about his first trip to the beach in a bikini prior to having the full surgery. I learned how his two daughters had no judgement when they saw him mid transformation. I learned the Sabres are two points out of the play-offs when I quickly stopped him and reminded him if he wanted to sound more like a woman, he’d have to worry less about the point spread and more about a more subtle approach to footwear.

As we chatted, laughed, sipped our g-ales and learned more about Al’s journey, I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have such an amazing team behind me, with incredibly strong legs and vocals the Mini-Pops would be lucky to have.

We all have days when we feel like getting up for a 4:30am wake-up call seems too overwhelming to deal with. But if being denied a ginger ale is the biggest battle/challenge/judgement we’ll face that day, we need to consider ourselves incredibly lucky.

Thanks for talking to me today Al. I’ll be thinking of you and wishing you luck on Dec. 3rd.

Sometimes our kids say the sweetest things. It’s just another benefit to being a parent. Their wonderfully innocent observations, the adorable way they phrase things like, “Will you splash a blanket on me?” It never gets old and never, ever ceases to bring a smile to my face.

This morning for example, after a week of swimming, we were out for a family walk, exploring our surroundings and taking in the last bit of vacation air we would have for a while.

We skipped, we laughed, we talked about favourite moments and Ellie lagged behind a couple of feet before letting out a huge gasp.

“Mommy! Your hair looks exactly like Rapunzel’s right now! It is so, so shiny!”

I know how much my kids love Rapunzel so it was a real honour to be told I reminded one of them of a character they hold so dear.

“Why thanks Ellie!”

“No Mommy. You know the stuff that ate my bathing suit?” (pool chemicals)


“Yeah. It’s making your hair glow. It looks really weird.”


We took the kids for an overnight adventure for March break and opted to once again stay in a Junior Suite.

The Junior Suite works well for our family of five, ahem, in that there are two queen beds and one pull-out couch.

The kids spend most of the drive to the Junior Suite discussing sleeping arrangements, often negotiating things like, “I’ll be nice to you for the duration of our stay if I can sleep on the pull-out, left side,” (but they didn’t use words like duration or pull-out–more like “I won’t hit you or tell people you are really a troll doll if I can sleep on the side furthest from the door where the bad guys can get us.” Or, “I’ll be nice to you if I can choose the show we watch from the bed, me on the left, you on the right and you share three french fries with me if in fact, we do have french fries.”


Of course by the time bed time rolls around, the Junior Suite which had so meticulously been laid out to accomodate our rather organized family of five becomes a living nightmare before anyone gets under any covers. (sheets only, no hotel bedspreads)

After a series of negotiations the Junior Suite was ready to have Hanna and Ellie and their three shared french fries on the pull-out couch with iCarly on the t.v. The first queen bed would be for Mommy and Chloe who has never slept in a big girl bed and therefore needed a parent to keep her from falling out (or stealing anyone’s fries). Daddy would through no fault of his own, sleep alone in the giant, queen sized bed anticipating the greatest sleep of his life.

What really happened?

Hanna and Greg shared one queen bed. Liz, Ellie and Chloe shared the other. The pull-out couch sat made-up and totally empty. Junior Suite!

Between the hours of 8:45pm and 4:15am I was kicked, told to “Stop it Hanna!” more than seven times, slapped in the head and considered turning my body so my feet would be on the pillows next to the girl’s heads but this might only give Chloe the idea to play with ten piano keys for toes and fuel her midnight madness to carry on that much longer.

I looked at the bedspreads tossed on the floor. The bedspreads I remove immediately the second we walk into any hotel room. The bedspreads that had been piled in a heap in the far corner near the garbage can, that if any skin-on-bedspread contact was made would require an immediate de-lousing.

I looked at the pile of soft, probably non-fatal if slept on bedspreads and thought, I could just climb on the mountain and sleep as though in a dog bed. Key word–sleep.

Then I started to think of songs that reminded me of lying down and sleeping.

“Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick and think of you.” (Cyndi Lauper) Except in my scenario, it was the heater or the AC unit kicking in and out that I was hearing Time After Time.

“Lying beside you, here in the dark.” (Journey) Except it wasn’t really dark Journey, because there was a light from the parking lot that no matter how hard we pulled the Junior Suite curtains, that light was somehow finding a place to shoot laserbeams directly at my eyeballs. And it wasn’t so much that I was lying beside anyone so much that they were either lying on top of me or I was wedged under and around them.

“Lying here with you so close to me….” The understatement of the decade Lady Antebellum.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Kelly Clarkson. You said it sister!

I was surprised to hear my five year old talking about a recent trip to Florida to a complete stranger.

First she sighed aloud, hoping to engage this parent at the mom-and-tot open gym time between racing to the wall and back against a surprisingly willing hula hoop.

“Ahhh. It sure was nice to go to Florida where it’s always sunny and warm.”

Stranger: Oh, you went to Florida?

Ellie: Yes, we fly there because we have money to fly. Other people that don’t have money drive there.

So, this began a conversation over lunch hour I wish I had never started.

Me: Ellie, I wanted to talk to you about your conversation with that woman at the gym today about our trip.

Ellie: Okay.

Me: Flying to Florida is something we do because it’s a faster way to get there than driving. It has nothing to do with money. There are a lot of people who have much more money than we will ever have who choose to drive to Florida because they have time or because they prefer the comfort of their car over a plane.

Ellie: Yeah, and?

Me: Well, it’s just not nice to tell people that you have money to fly and others don’t.

Ellie: Why? I think she had enough money to fly.

Me: That’s irrelevant. I just want you to know it’s impolite to talk about money (let alone my discomfort with her just yapping about our flight plans with perfect strangers). It’s called ‘bragging.’

Ellie: Huh?

Me: Bragging is when you tell someone you have something that they might not to make yourself feel bigger or better than they are.

Ellie: I wasn’t bigger than she is Mom. I’m a kid, she’s an adult. Hello?

Me: I realize that. I just think you are old enough for me to have this conversation with you just as I did with Hanna if she told someone that she had a piece of cheese in her lunch and maybe they didn’t.

Ellie: Nobody on our plane had any cheese, I remember that. And I’m pretty sure the Mom at the gym today had that lacto thing from the commercials where she can’t eat dairy……..

Me: I will have this conversation with Chloe when she’s old enough to understand too.

Ellie: Oh, so you’re old and smart and she’s too young to understand? Bragger.

I’m glad we had this little chat.

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