Category Archives: Travel

What My Kids Did On My Summer Vacation

Hey! Hi! How are you?! We are Aprill’s kids! And we want to tell you all about what we did on our summer vacation.

This summer was great! We did so many fun things! And we did all those fun things for roughly an hour and 15 minutes before having dual marathon meltdowns! Mommy said this was because when we get overstimulated we turn into evil swamp demons! She’s so funny!

Like any good summer vacation, ours started early, with a trip in mid-May to visit family far away. We even got to fly in an airplane! Surprisingly, we both behaved extremely well during the flight. So, of course, we made up for that by refusing to sleep in the beds provided for us every night! And instead crawled into the bed our parents were sleeping in, not letting them get any sleep for seven nights straight! Because who needs sleep on summer vacation?! Who doesn’t love waking up to a baby foot in your mouth and a toddler foot buried in your rib cage?!

On Mommy’s birthday in June, we went to a pond to swim. Except neither one of us wanted to get wet. Because we can all agree that the best part of going to any body of water in the summer is baking in the hot sun while sitting on sand the temperature of lava!

There were also a bunch of little day trips this summer to fun and exciting places! Where we’d get in the car and complain, and then we’d get out of the car and complain, and then we’d go do stuff and we’d complain, and then our parents would finally give up and say “fine, we’ll go home!” and then we’d complain about not wanting to go home. Traveling truly is a priceless experience!

We also spent a lot of time this summer at the library. We did so many interesting things there, like pretending to listen to books during storytime but really just trying to steal the other kids’ snacks.

We also did a bunch of fun stuff at home!

One of our favorite things to do was climb all over Mommy when it was 92 degrees out with a humidity level of one thousand. This was especially fun that week that the air conditioner broke! The best part of this game was Mommy would pretend to get mad and holler “get off me!” but that just meant she wanted us to do it more!

And what is any good summer vacation without some cool treats?  Even though Mommy forced us to eat our popsicle outside, sticky melted popsicle juice still magically appeared inside. Mommy said bad words. It was so funny! We laughed and laughed and smeared our disgusting sticky hands all over the TV and then laughed some more. Which is why we repeated this exact same scenario with ice cream.

Speaking of the TV, we also spent a lot of time this summer whining and crying about wanting to watch very specific movies! Even though we have already seen those specific movies 78 times! And when Mommy finally relented, we would watch exactly 17 minutes of the movie before deciding to ignore it because climbing the bookshelves that are definitely not attached to the wall seemed way more fun. Even though this activity was bound to end in certain death!

The best part of this summer is that it’s not even over yet! In two weeks we will actually be going on real vacation even though all the cool and important people of the world are already done vacationing. SOMEONE (and I’m not mentioning names although it rhymes with “if you don’t like it plan it yourself next time”) was a bit late in trying to book a place to stay anywhere close to water and so was stuck with dates at the end of August.

We can’t tell you how excited we are to yet again share a room with our Mommy and Daddy and not let them get a wink of sleep! It’s the kind of stuff memories would be made of if it wasn’t impossible to make memories when you are brain-dead from chronic sleep loss.

Now most people feel sad when summer vacation comes to an end. But not us! Since neither one of us is in school yet, these good times can keep right on rolling into the fall. And winter! And spring! And next summer! And next fall! And next…

 

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Checklist for road tripping with small children

  1. Run to the store to buy juice boxes, goldfish crackers, raisins, assorted cheaply made toys designed to be hurled into the backseat at the first sign of a tantrum.
  2. Eat all the leftovers in the fridge, even the questionable ones, over the three days leading up to the trip. The ancient pizza, the fossilized Chinese food, the milk on the verge of going bad, the giant vat of bean soup everyone hates but mom keeps making because it’s cheap and has at least a 2 percent nutritional value. Eat it. Eat it all.
  3. Do everyone’s laundry because every single person in the household only wants to bring the outfits they wore for the past five days.
  4. Run back to the store because you just realized you are out of dish soap and need to run the dishwasher before you leave.
  5. Spend 45 minutes looking for suitcases in the attic.
  6. Realize suitcases are still in the corner of the bedroom where you left them the last time you took a trip and still contain the dirty laundry from said trip.
  7. Unpack suitcases.
  8. Do laundry. Again.
  9. Run back to the store AGAIN for Little Swimmer diapers because the hotel has a pool. Pay $10 for an entire pack even though you will likely only use one. Cry briefly in the car.
  10. Gather all the chargers for everyone’s electronic devices. Keep removing chargers from the pile of chargers because everything needs to be charged.
  11. Look up route on Google Maps. Cry again.
  12. Drop dog off at the dog-sitter’s house, who you found off of Rover.com after surfing the website for five whole minutes. Feel huge waves of guilt you are abandoning your dog with a complete stranger. Try not to look too concerned when she opens the door and looks 12.
  13. Run back to that godforsaken piece of crap store AGAIN because the Little Swimmer diapers were the wrong size for your toddler. Also fork over another $10 for another pack because what if your freaking 4-month-old wants to swim too? Give $3 to a bum in the parking lot so you can take a swig from his brown bag whiskey.
  14. Pack. Or more precisely, try to fit basically everything you own into every suitcase, backpack, tote bag and ridiculously large purse you own.
  15. Drag all the luggage to the car the night before. Play the world’s least fun game of Tetris.
  16. Start drinking heavily.
  17. Wake up hungover at 4 a.m. Throw everyone in the car with their pajamas on. Get snippy with your significant other over whether the coffee pot is still on.
  18. Run back into the house to search for Mr. Doody, the stupid stuffed monkey your toddler can’t live without. Give up search after 20 minutes. Go back to the car and see your toddler holding Mr. Doody.
  19. Try not to murder your significant other when they ask if you checked the coffee pot while you were in there.
  20. Climb into the driver’s seat.
  21. Re-enact Ryan Reynolds’ car scene from “Just Friends.”
  22. Calmly put the car in reverse.
  23. Take a deep breath as you pull onto the highway and both children immediately start crying.

Checklist for the return trip home

  1. Hurl everything into the car.
  2. Throw suitcases into the corner of the bedroom and unpack eight months later when you need the suitcases for another super fun family bonding trip.

What I did on my summer vacation

We didn’t really have the money. Or it might be more accurate to say we had the money but we knew we should probably save it like real grown-ups do to put toward buying a house, or purchasing bookshelves that aren’t held together with duct tape or funneling it into an account to pay for our toddler son’s future therapy bills.

vacation_therapy

But instead, we said screw it and blew it all on a spur-of-the-moment beach vacation.

And here’s why:

It was growing dark on our first night in a little beach town in Maine. Walking through the quaint downtown, we saw a fudge shop and since calories don’t exist on vacation, we decided to buy an obscene amount to counteract the obscene amounts of deep-fried things we had just got done eating.

The friendly teenage boy working the counter gave us samples to try and made small talk and made faces at our toddler and it was all very Norman Rockwell-esque until I ruined it all.

“How do you resist the temptation to eat fudge all the time?” I asked him.

“Who says I resist it?” he replied.

Hahaha. We laughed. He laughed. Even Riker laughed. And then cue awkward moment in 3…2…1…

“Well, you look REALLY good.”

…crickets chirping…tumbleweed rolls by…

vacation_fudge

“Yeah. Well, here’s your fudge.”

As we awkwardly left the store and headed back to our hotel, I turned to my husband.

“Did that sound…?”

“Oh yeah.”

“But I just meant he’s in good shape.”

“Sure.”

“I mean, that I would weigh 400 pounds if I worked there.”

“Oh, I knew what you meant. I just don’t think he did.”

“So it sounded…”

“Yup.”

“So, to sum up, it appears like a creepy woman in her 30’s just hit on a teenage boy in front of not only her husband but also her son.”

“Yup.”

Long pause…

“So…does this make me a cougar?”

And then we burst out laughing again. Even Riker (although I suspect his laughter had something to do with the epic poop we would soon find out he was busy taking in his Little Swimmers).

That right there. That story. That’s why we dipped our tired and grubby little paws into our savings account and splurged on a three-day trip to Maine. Because I can guarantee that THAT story will eventually become family lore. The vacation photos that everyone points to and says “Wasn’t that the trip where Mom hit on a poor kid that she could practically breastfeed?” And everyone will laugh. Even me, once I’m done whacking everyone in the back of the head.

Because that’s what families are; a series of stories all lived together and then told and retold and embellished (“No, I was not massaging his chest when I said it!”). And for far too many months, the plot of all our family’s stories contained work, dinner, Netflix on the couch while doing more work, repeat and too little else.

vacation_family

Study after study has been released lately on the recent American tendency to avoid taking vacation days, or if they are used, it’s for a “staycation” where you do all the boring things you don’t have time to do when you’re busy doing all the other boring things you need to do. This is due to a lot of reasons but a good chunk, I’m assuming, is because people are so overworked they can’t afford to miss any work and, as in our case, a lack of funds to even afford a proper vacation.

And sitting here typing this, I can already name two dozen other things that the money probably should have been used for instead.

But I don’t feel guilty. Not even slightly. Even if the rent check will be a little late this month.

Because, sure, we have nothing tangible to show for all the money we spent other than all the sand we dragged home that will remain in our house until the day we die and seven extra pounds each and that white touristy sweatshirt I bought that Riker promptly got mac and cheese stains all over. But that story and those memories and that mental image of the relaxed smile my husband gave me (the first relaxed smile I had seen in quite awhile) as we clinked our beers together in some beachside dive will last much longer than new bookshelves.

Plus, Riker can just pay for his own therapy. I mean, that’s what allowances are for, right?

Hmm, and where do you summer?

Guys, I don’t want to alienate any of you, but I can officially say that I now “summer in Maine” like the rich people do. So please no longer make direct eye contact when addressing me, peasants.

Ok, ok, busted. We’ll actually be slumming it in a small motel by the beach for barely three days, so technically I guess you could say we’ll be “slummering in Maine.” But you can bet your ass we’ll be drinking our boxed wine with our pinkies up as we converse in our best haughty country club accent (you know, where you say elitist things without moving your lower jaw and laugh like a creaky door).

And a vacation is a vacation is a vacation. No matter where or for how long. The only thing that matters is that you spend the whole time posting enough selfies that all 933 of your Facebook friends are super annoyed.

Of course, before any vacation comes pre-vacation prep. And this horrible ritual almost makes going anywhere not worth it. This is doubly true when you are traveling with children. Because children need a lot of things. And whatever they don’t need, they WANT or they will just DIE. In fact, it might actually be easier to just detach their entire room from the house and drag it with you.

And packing all their ridiculous stuff is just the beginning. For example, we happen to be leaving tomorrow so here is my To-Do List for today:

  • Write newspaper column. About something funny. Or just be lazy and shoot off 700 words about your To-Do List.
  • Buy jean-wearing, Converse sneaker sporting, flannel shirt obsessed husband swim trunks and his first pair of shorts ever and shoes that don’t require socks.*
  • *Also remember to wrestle black socks away from husband when he tries to sneak them into suitcase. Use as much force as is necessary, including frying pan head whacking.
  • Clean house for dog-sitter, a lovely young lady we kidnapped asked nicely to watch our neurotic dog. And I mean, really clean. Like scrub the toilet and tell the hobo who lives in the southwest corner of the kitchen he needs to vacate for a few days level of clean.
  • Clean out the car trunk, which still contains (among many other fascinating artifacts from our life) a box of severely molded party favors from our wedding.
  • Charge camera batteries.
  • Find battery charger.
  • Find the camera the batteries belong to.
  • Pack.
  • Go to store and buy enough snacks to feed multiple pee-wee football teams even though there are only three of us (and one is a toddler) and we’ll only be gone 2.5 days and the place we’re going to is only an hour and a half away and has literally dozens of stores and restaurants within walking distance but no matter because we still need an entire cooler-full of all these snacks because it’s not really a vacation without six economy-sized bags of Bugles although no one really knows why other than that’s the way our parents did it and their parents before them and who are we to question the tradition of the Great American Beach Vacation.*
  • *Also buy more snacks at the gas station on the way out of town. Just in case.
  • Find passport because I just realized my license expired. Which you wouldn’t think would be a big deal since I’m not the one driving and I’m 34-years-old and have the bags under my eyes to prove it. But you’d be wrong. Because, funny story, this whole traveling without a valid I.D. thing also happened five years ago because I’m an idiot and keep assuming licenses are valid forever. But you know who doesn’t think it’s a funny story? Bartenders and car rental associates and the T.S.A. and hotel managers and that blonde lady cop.
  • Shave. Ugh. Shave it all.
  • Go to liquor store and purchase reasonable amount of booze since the aforementioned toddler will be passed out by eight, essentially chaining Mommy and Daddy to the confines of the motel room. Plus, we’ll need something to wash down those 56 packages of peanut butter crackers we brought.

The good news is that if I survive today, it’s nothing but sand, sun and surf for the foreseeable future.

Minus those predicted thunderstorms.

August? What do you mean it’s almost August?

Things I planned to do this summer:

  • Go to the beach as much as possible.
  • Take my toddler to the Tiny Tot summer reading program at the library every Monday.
  • Take a weekend trip to Maine.
  • Sign my kid up for swimming lessons.
  • Go camping.
  • Go to the free sunrise yoga in the park.
  • Wear sundresses and flowers in my hair.
  • Drink a glass of wine on the back porch with my husband as the sun sets.
  • Take the family to Movie Night in the Park and have a picnic while watching a family-friendly film.
  • Get the air conditioner fixed.
  • Go to the weekly farmer’s market for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Make s’mores.
  • Go to a Red Sox game.
  • Attend at least one music festival.

What I’ve actually done this summer:

  • Found my swimsuit bottoms from 1998 but no luck yet on finding the matching top.
  • Went to the library exactly once only to realize it was Tuesday and Tuesday is the “Wild About Reading!” tweens reading program.
  • Googled “weekend trips to Maine.”
  • Googled “swimming lessons for toddlers.”
  • Googled “camping sites that don’t have bugs or humidity” and survived five hours in my house with no power because of a blackout.
  • Wore my yoga pants all day like I actually dragged my ass out of bed and went to sunrise yoga instead of watching “Sesame Street” in a comatose state while drinking a gallon of black coffee.
  • Ponytail. Tank top. Flip flops. Every. Single. Day.
  • Drank an entire bottle of wine on the back porch with my husband. Woke up hungover. Missed sunrise yoga yet again.
  • Waited until toddler went to bed and then ate KFC on the living room floor while binge watching “Vikings.”
  • Got air conditioner fixed (I’m lazy, not suicidal).
  • Actually did make it to the farmer’s market a couple of times but left sporting not insignificant bruises from little old ladies who feel elbowing you out of the way of the asparagus is acceptable societal behavior. And it is acceptable societal behavior for them because who’s going to stop them? They’re ancient and yet slightly scary.
  • Searched for bag of missing marshmallows for three days. Found approximately 43 half-eaten marshmallows under crib.
  • Googled “Red Sox tickets.” Had heart attack.
  • Listened to Wilco on vinyl while drinking overpriced coconut water mixed with vodka and snapping selfies (which is basically the same thing as actually going to a music festival).

Well, I guess there’s always next year.

Sigh…

On the bright side, pumpkin spice lattes will be available soon. Oh! And I have so many plans for this fall! I want to go hiking and drink in a beer garden while wearing a cozy sweater featuring an ironic bunny and make homemade apple cider and sew my own Halloween costume (a.k.a. tell my mom want I want and make her sew it) and bring the baby to a pumpkin patch and…

Road hookin’

They say that a true sign of wisdom is when you finally know just how much you don’t know. They also say it’s cliché to start an article with the phrase “they say.” But “they” can suck it. I like how it sounds.

(I also enjoy the “good news/bad news” cliché from time to time and the occasional question lede).

Anyhoo, moving on. If that is the case, then I am now about as wise as…as…uh, I don’t know…Angela Lansbury, maybe? Or perhaps the big-boobed mom from “Facts of Life.” Yeah, definitely the big-boobed mom from “Facts of Life.”

Because despite the numerous road trips I have taken across this great country of ours (like this one, or this one, or this one), I am not too proud to admit that I remained ignorant of an apparently somewhat common road tradition.

That is, until this latest 14-hour trek to the Mid-west I recently took.

It all started when I noticed that an unusually large number of trucks kept flashing their lights and honking at me as I barreled down the highway. Now, in my experience, this kind of behavior meant one of two things:

  1. There is a cop up ahead. And you are going 93 miles per hour. Slow down, dumbass. Or…
  2. Your car, which is being held together with duct tape, has something visibly and very, very wrong with it. Like your trunk just fell off.

However, after about three panick-y inspections of my vehicle at rest stops, I knew it wasn’t No. 2 and I immediately dismissed No. 1 since my car can’t go over 75 miles per hour without switching into what I like to call “Seizure Mode.”

So, I decided to call an expert, who, based on the fact that 1. she drives and 2. calls me “kiddo,” would have the answer.

“Mom? Trucks keep honking their horns at me and flashing their lights. What gives?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s how they try to get your attention when they want you to pull over at the next exit with them.”

“Why?”

“I know you’re not that naive.”

“How the hell do you know this?”

“The 80’s were a crazy time, kid.”*

Of course, seeing as how I drive a 2004 Hyundai Accent, which is technically the smallest car you can get without being a card-carrying member of the Circus Clown Car Union, I immediately dismissed what she said. There is absolutely nothing about that car that says “Hey, I’m a road hooker!”  If anything, it says “Hey, I dig doing puzzles on Saturday night with my cat!” Sure, it gets great gas mileage, but I doubt that’s what these guys are looking for.

“Wow. She gets 38 miles to the gallon? That chick must be down for a good time at a seedy truck stop!”

But then, this happened:

I’m in the left lane. Some white pick-up is in the right. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him creeping up on me. Soon, we are side by side. The truck then falls back. Repeat three times. Cut to me getting annoyed because I hate when people don’t abide by the “left is the passing lane” rule. It throws off the ENTIRE flow of traffic. So I, thinking he wants to pass me and considering my car is already in heavy “Seizure Mode,” slow down and pull into the right lane behind him. As we approach the next exit, he starts hitting his brakes. And now, I’m super-duper annoyed because this jackass just two seconds ago wanted to pass me. He then starts to get on the exit ramp and as I speed past him, he begins flashing his lights and honking his horn as he rolls off toward the exciting world of Snow Shoe, PA.

And that’s when it hit me.

I just apparently accidentally gave the international road hooker sign that said “YES! I will get off this exit with you and then we can make a bastard in some Exxon Mobile/Subway parking lot!”

I felt bad for a bit. Even though I just thought I was being a polite driver, my actions caused this poor horny pick-up driver to not only lose a good two minutes of traveling time as he wandered his way through some podunk town, but had also dashed his hopes that he would soon be able to tell his buddies he scored with some Massachusetts foreign car drivin’ slut.

And that bad feeling lasted for all of two seconds.

But then, just to bring this whole thing full circle, I realized that even though I now know about this underground road sex tradition, there is still so much more that I don’t know. Like, if you do actually get off the exit with these guys, how does it work? Do you park side by side? Do you choose the McDonald’s parking lot or Taco Bell? Or is Arby’s considered classier? Do you introduce yourselves or just get down to business? My car or yours? Afterwards, do I at least get a cup of gas station coffee in return? Or maybe a large bag of Cheetos if my performance was suitable?

So many questions. So many no-way-in-hell will I ever know the answers.

But, I guess in the end, you just have to take the good and take the bad and there you have the facts of life.**

*I may have made that last part up.

**See? So wise now.

Fear and Loathing in Las Toyota

Ah, the family road trip. That great American tradition that has launched a million therapy sessions.

Three or four kids crammed in the backseat of the family wagon as dad seethes in the driver’s seat and says words you didn’t even think he knew while mom periodically turns around and whacks the kids with a fly swatter to get them to stop fighting.

The American Dream, indeed.

Now, for the first 15 years of my life, I never really got to experience this. It was just my mom and me for all those years, meaning any road trip was a much more PG-version of Thelma and Louise rather than the Griswold’s taking on the open road (although technically my mom could have been blowing away potential rapists with a shotgun while I was in the bathroom, I suppose).

Then my mom married Albert, meaning I was now reassigned to the backseat. BUT, I had the entire backseat all to myself and a 90’s portable CD player approximately the size and weight of a phone book playing Veruca Salt on an endless loop, so no big whoop.

Then they had my brother Brandon (no need to call CPS, he has a different last name than me). But he was an adorable kid and had yet to figure out that his earthly purpose on this planet was to annoy the ever-living crap out of me, so sharing the backseat was no big deal at the time.

But THEN my dumbass had to fall in love and get married, throwing off the ENTIRE family road trip dynamic and making the backseat much more crowded.

So, technically, my first authentic family road trip wasn’t until a few weeks ago when all five of us went to Panama and we set out on the totally reasonable mission to see the entire country in four days.

DISCLAIMER: Now, what you’re about to read below is…well, in short, it makes me look like a horrible, horrible person. Specifically, a horrible sister to my 14-year-old brother. So I’d just like to add here that I love my brother Brandon very much and he is one of my best friends in the entire world. He truly is an amazing kid and there isn’t a thing about him that I’d change. Also, all his bruises should be healed, so he’s, like, totally recovered by now.

Now, like any good, old-fashioned, emotionally scarring family road trip, ours began by waking up at some ungodly hour because we had to be ON THE ROAD by 6 a.m. per my stepdad (“Oh, take your time, kids. We can leave whenever for our road trip.” –said no dad, ever). Meaning there was only time for about 1.5 sips of coffee and absolutely no time for me to sneak outside ninja-style and suck down a cigarette.

So, as you can imagine, I was in a SUPER fun mood.

But it didn’t really start to go downhill until we stopped for a quick bite to eat at a Panamanian fast food joint where we ordered a bunch of chicken and empanadas. Now, despite growing up in a country where food is not only plentiful but actually over-produced, my brother treats food like he is some third-world refugee. He steals it, hoards it, and is constantly paranoid about who is getting the last piece despite the fact his own plate is overflowing.

So, when he kept reaching for a second empanada despite the fact he was currently eating a chicken leg, our parents kept telling him to finish his chicken first. After which, he would take a tiny bite of chicken and then once again reach for the empanada. After which, he’d get yelled at again.

This went on for about 10 minutes before my coffee-and-cigarette deprived self decided to chime in:

After ChickenGate, we all piled back into the car and as you can imagine, I handled the rest of the trip as the mature and elegant woman who you have all come to know:

Some good did actually come out of this experience, however.

1. My husband has yet to serve me with divorce papers.

2. Despite the 17-year difference in our age, I can rest easy knowing that my brother still got to experience a typical childhood and the lovingly abusive relationship all siblings have.

You’re welcome, Turd-face.