Archive for July, 2013

Home, sweet home

Captain’s Log, Day 6 and 7

At long last, we are home.

30 hours of driving
+ 1,903 miles
+ hundreds and hundreds of dollars
= a trip we won’t repeat.

There were some good moments (“Wicked,” pierogies, seeing family, Roadside America, Crayola Factory) and some bad (Dad and I are not quite on speaking terms).

We are planning our next trip to the New York/Pennsylvania area, but we will not drive. It’s just exhausting for a family that does not much care for road trips. We prefer to fly.

The highlight of the drive back was a detour to the Lincoln Memorial.
The low point was the traffic everywhere. Where was everyone going this weekend?

I’m exhausted. Going to work tomorrow will be a relief.

And then my mother-in-law arrives.

Stay tuned …

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Color me happy

Captain’s Log: Day 5

In “Poetics,” Aristotle wrote:

Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or a lower type (for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences), it follows that we must represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are.

I’m going for comedy out of tragedy here, so you all know that I pick and choose what will make the best stories. Heroes and villains and a story arranged just so.

You know that, right? Right?! I guess I know how Augusten Burroughs feels. Sigh.

Anyway, today made the whole vacation worthwhile. Family time all day with the Crayola Factory thrown in for good measure.

The place is pretty awesome. A Mecca for my artistic boys, although they were leery at first. A few kids in mid tantrum came out as we were going in. Dominic said, “What’s happening in there that everyone comes out screaming?”

It’s nothing a little nap couldn’t fix.

This was the best thing we could have done. Look at the boys with their cousins!


Eddie just said, “I liked today.”
Yeah, me too.

Coming tomorrow: the home stretch

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Captain’s Log: Day 4

New York was hot. So hot. The musical should have been “Spider-Man: Turn on the Air.” After the 10-block walk from Penn Station, the sweat had dripped into my eyes and pooled in my underwear.

I felt sorry for the furry characters hawking photo opps in Times Square. I could only imagine the human soup puddles in their fuzz-covered shoes.

I’m from the South, but even my blood wasn’t thin enough for that heat.

The musical was … meh. Even the boys were a little bored. After another romantic Peter/Mary Jane love scene, Gideon groaned, “Not again!”

A walk through the sea of people that is the theater district, dinner, then “Wicked.” That musical did not disappoint. I saw it when it first opened in 2003 and featured Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. It’s still snappy, even at 10 years old.


Day 3 ended with two trains, a bus and a shuttle back to glorious Newark.

Today began with another trip down memory lane. This is the Somerset, New Jersey, house I lived in until I was 3.


I remember standing at the front door eagerly awaiting the garbage man, on whom I had a crush. Nice.

Then we were off to Easton, where we spent the day with half a dozen of my cousins — none of whom knew we were in the area and coming to visit until I happened to text one of them last night. They hadn’t heard we were supposed to be in town with the RV either. Oh Dad. Dad the Anti-planner. Surprise!

All’s well that ends well. Or ends wet in our case. Yay for play time for the kids!


Finally vacationing,

Coming tomorrow: Crayola factory adventure

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Captain’s Log: Day 3

Eight states and 12 hours later, we arrived in the thriving metropolis of Newark.

You may be asking, “Why? Oh God, Woman, why Newark?”

Because the budget for this trip from hell does not include $400 per night for a New York hotel.

Featuring reasonable hotel rates and convenient (sort of) train service to New York City, Newark it is.

On the way up, we stopped at a place that looms large in my memory from road trips with my parents: Roadside America.

My boys loved it as much as I did. That right there almost made the whole fiasco worthwhile.


Today we head to NYC where the main attraction — and the reason we couldn’t cancel this trip — awaits us on the Great White Way: tickets to Spider-Man and Wicked.

We’re all pretty excited. We’re ignoring all the news reports that feature phrases we don’t want to hear — phrases such as “heat advisory” and “hottest day of the year.”

We’re going to make this work.

Coming tomorrow: Land of my father


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On the road again

Captain’s Log: Day 2

We are on our way. The “we” does not include my father.

I’m sorry (not sorry) to say we abandoned him and his motor home like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Let me explain.

When last I wrote, we were waiting for the RV to get out of the shop. We waited the whole day, trapped in the dollhouse. There’s nothing I hate more than waiting (except for maybe a guy named Tony, but that’s another story).

The estimated time for completion was noon. Then it was 3 p.m. Then “come on by and we will get it to you before we close.”

We showed up and saw this:


Keep in mind that the mechanics had it since last Tuesday!

They got the tires on by 5:30 p.m. As we were paying, this happened:

Dad: “Did you check the generator?”
Shop dude: “No, we didn’t get to that.”

Uh oh.

No generator = no air + no electricity
No generator = no trip

Fine. Trip cancelled and we go home, right?

Not so fast.

Eddie and I had the bright idea to take the kids to New York to see “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” and “Wicked.” After all, NYC is only a little over an hour away from Easton.

Yeah, I bought tickets.
I’m a planner.
It’s a curse.

So we had to go or lose (more) money.

We threw sandwiches down our gullets, tossed the suitcases in the back of our truck, shoved the kids into the back, and took off in a cloud of dust.

We were headed north by 7 p.m. No lie.

We passed this on the way out:


Dad killed Bobby the Lion with his mad RV driving skilz.

Maybe it’s best we postponed the RV trip with Dad until spring break.

Stay tuned,

Coming tomorrow: Glorious Newark, Treasure of Jersey

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Captain’s Log, Day 1 Day .5:

We were supposed to be approaching Easton, Pa. — my father’s homeland — in his RV by now. Yes, an RV. Specifically, an RV filled with my dad, his wife, their four dogs, two birds and cat, plus Eddie, the boys and me.

Pause for Xanax break.

Yet I am writing this at my father’s kitchen table.


Because my father insists I told him we would leave on July 18 instead of what I actually told him, which was July 14. I even confirmed this via text.

The evidence

He did confirm with the doctor that he could go, and we’ve been talking or texting every other day for weeks.

Those of you who work a regular M-F job know that it would be crazy talk to decide to go on a week-long vacation on a Thursday. You leave on a Saturday so that you only have to take one week of vacation off but you can have more time because of the bookending weekends. Right?

Anyway, my dad got it in his head that we were leaving Thursday, July 18. We were about to leave our house Saturday, July 13, as planned to go to his house but there was a huge storm. I texted him to tell him we’d leave once the storm abated a little. He immediately called me.

Dad: “What are you talking about? Why are you coming up now?”
Me (incredulous): “Because we are leaving to go to Pennsylvania tomorrow.”
Dad (also incredulous): “We aren’t leaving until next week.”
Me: “Um … no, that’s not the plan.”
(Argument ensues.)

No big deal right? He and Kat throw some things in the RV and get ready to go as planned. They are retired, so no worries.

Yeah, well. The RV is in the shop getting a workover and new tires. It won’t be ready until sometime today. Maybe. And in the meantime, we have to look at this:

The eyes, the eyes!

Surely you must remember my stepmother’s particular interest.

If you are a praying person, please do so for me now. If you are not, then simply wish me well.

Updates to come, of course.

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Enter the confessional

Dear Fellow Moms:

Look, I know there is plenty of guilt to go around. People (including other moms) pass judgment on moms all the time. Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms and all that jazz.


The truth is that we all make decisions that are right for us. No one else’s decision is going to work.

Now we have to stop feeling guilty about these decisions. We need to stop feeling guilty about a whole bunch of stuff.

We also need to talk about it. We need to hear the terrible things other people think and feel so that we don’t feel so guilty and so alone.

Today, I’m letting go.

I’m going to tell the truth about what is in my nasty, shriveled heart. There’s only one thing I want you to remember: I really do love my husband and kids. (OK, two things: I’m also a generally happy person.)

Forgive me, People, for I have sinned. It has been a while since my last (official) confession. These are my sins:

  1. Though I never (for real) regret getting married and having kids, sometimes I’m jealous of single people and people without kids. I miss sleeping late. I miss spontaneity. I miss being able to go to an R-rated movie without scrambling for a trustworthy sitter who won’t cause my children nightmares and/or expensive therapy.
  2. Unless there is obvious hemorrhaging or a bone sticking out of the skin, I cannot muster up any concern or sympathy for injuries earned while doing something stupid.
  3. During the summer, I put the kids in camp. Every day. Yes, I have a new job and I can’t take much time off, but I would put them in camp anyway. I really like working and I don’t have the patience or desire to be a stay-at-home mom. Meanwhile, they are thrilled to be at art camp, skate camp, whining-about-imaginary-ailments camp, killing-your-parents-with-your-sound-effects camp, etc.
  4. I have a heart-soaring moment of glee when I drop them off at camp. The words, “I’m free” ring out through my evil brain. Often, the words come in the form of the melody from “The Who’s Tommy.” Sometimes it’s just the screaming banshee of freedom.
  5. I wait until the last possible moment to pick them up. I lick clean the plate of alone-time.
  6. I would rather allow the boys to spend two hours killing sheep with lava in Minecraft than spend two minutes doing some kind of craft project with them. I hate craft projects. I hate the words, “Mama, can we do a project?” I hate all the clay crap that comes home with them from art camp. As someone who is not a fine artist, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of splendid artistic creations lovingly made during art camp.
  7. I kicked Dominic’s remote-controlled rattlesnake so hard it broke in two. Why? Because he drove that thing in the kitchen again after I had warned him not to do it.
  8. I want to follow through on my threat to throw out the things they don’t put away, if only to rid the house of some of the clutter.
  9. Sometimes I can’t wait until it is their bedtime. Then, when they are asleep and the house is blissfully quiet, I check on them. I kiss their cool, little-boy foreheads. I hear them breathe deeply and watch them sleep the sleep of the all-played-out. I am filled nearly to knocked-over with love. I vow to be better. I promise I’ll be more patient. I insist that I’ll create a life-size replica of the Sphinx with them in our backyard as a craft project. And then I forget all that in the morning during my first blinding rage of the day when they are fighting over who gets to open the new box of cereal.
  10. Sometimes the word “Mama” makes me want to drive sharp No. 2 pencils in my ears so I never have to hear it again.* It’s because some crazy request usually follows the word. (See No. 6.) Lately, I’ve been saying “No” as soon as I hear, “Mama, can you …” I tell myself that I am teaching them how to be self-sufficient. Really it is because I am JUST. SO. TIRED. I don’t have the energy to get them a drink or a snack/untie a knot/put their towels back up/twist off the cap/charge the battery/unstick the Legos/fix the airplane/find the foam dart in the tree, etc. I’m tired. I just want peace.
  11. I cannot do it all. I can do one thing at a time well, but not all things at all times. If I am being the best mother, then I am sucking at being a wife or an employee. Or maybe I don’t suck and I’m worrying for nothing. And then I suck for wasting time worrying.
I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past. Or maybe I’m not sorry. Hard to say.

I’m often teetering over the pit of despair because I think I am a horrible person. Then I read pieces like this, and I think, “I am normal.”

It’s now my mantra.

To all of you moms out there, let it out. Confess your sins. I won’t judge.

Yours in solidarity,

* That’s hyperbole, of course. Don’t call someone on my behalf.


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Dear New Babysitter:

I hope we didn’t scare you when we peeled out of the driveway without a backward glance. We just couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Yes, I know you had only known three of us (Eggy, Sophia and me) for five minutes. I’m not sure you knew their daughter’s name. Had you even laid eyes on our youngest? I don’t even know where he was when you arrived.

We love our kids, of course. Really. But we need those moments where we are Beth, Eddie, Eggy and Sophia and not Mama, Daddy, Daddy and Mama.

Here’s what we heard all day:
“Mama, I’m hungry. I’m so hungry, Mama!”
“He won’t let me have the bow and arrows. He’s had them all day!”
“He’s being a jerk to me! He called me ‘stupid.'”

This is what we wanted to hear:
“Would you like an appetizer with that?”
“What kind of drink would you like?”
“Would you like a refill?”

Thanks to you, we were able to have adult conversations while we sipped martinis, ate delicious food (made more delicious by the fact that someone else cooked the meal), and watched Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy cement their homance.

No one badgered us to get him a drink/feed her/play with him/get her Merida dress/mediate a fight/find a Bey Blade/get a Bandaid/put on Netflix/let him watch “Spongebob,” etc.

We tried not to leave you with too much to do. We made sure they were bathed and fed. Bedtime was on you. All you had to do was keep them alive until we got home.

You did and they were. Thank you.

From the bottom of our jaded, frazzled, exhausted little hearts, we thank you.



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I’m falling apart

Listen, Body Parts: We need to talk.

Bladder, I’ll start with you. I’m fine with hanging out with you during the day, but this 2:30 a.m. desperate cry for attention is getting on my nerves. And Brain, just because Bladder is up, that doesn’t mean you have to be also.

Neck, I’m not sure why you are cranky all of a sudden, but you need to get over yourself. It shouldn’t be all about you. Now everyone else is overcompensating because you don’t want to move. Get with the program!

Metabolism, I’m still not speaking to you after you started to balk at carbs and bacon.

Skin, what’s with the random displays of pigment and dry patches? I thought we were good. I take care of you with hundreds of dollars worth of potions and this is how you repay me?

All of you renegades need to take a cue from the Eyes. They are doing their job, working well with others, and are not clamoring for attention.

So this is a warning that you all need to settle down. Don’t make me have to call in backup.



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