So, when did my kids become good? I mean, really. We went on vacation for three days, spent a total of 20 hours in the car, purposely left the Focalin and melatonin at home and still I don’t have a single complaint about our vacation. I am wondering when it was that they woke up, had a meeting and decided they no longer needed to do really dumb shit in public. It’s kind of messing with my hobby of making fun of them.

I yanked them out of bed before the sun came up. I forced them to eat an entirely unhealthy breakfast of sugary cereal. I yelled at everyone to get off their asses and hurry up with the brushing of the teeth and packing of the toothbrushes. I hurried Hubby along, complaining that the cat was going to be alone too long. I complained that there wasn’t going to be enough room in the front seat for my camera, purse, book and snack bag (I’ve learned my lesson countless times when I’ve packed the snack bag in the back seat).

When we were finally on the road, they were all too happy to just chill and listen to music. If anything, the worst behaved person on the trip was my oldest child – the hubster. But that’s nothing new. I expected that, so I made sure there was at least one rogue Red Bull in the snack bag, a baggie of mustard flavored pretzels, and a few Slim Jims. The happy hubby trifecta. He still complained, but at least he wasn’t hungry and tired. We ate fast food lunch. We cleaned fast food wrappers from the van. We cleaned fast food chunks from beneath Jack’s butt. We cleaned fast food grease from the windows, seats, headphones and hands. We cleaned fast food crumbs from the van a week later. In case anyone cares about my opinion, I highly suggest a nice healthy picnic lunch to be eaten outside your car on long trips.

And after ten hours, we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge, the funnest indoor water park adventure we’ve been to. We’ve been here three times, I think. And let me note that I am biased as it is the only one we’ve been to.





As per usual, the kids and I wait in the car whilst Hubby checks us in. We wait. And wait. And wait. The kids are bouncing around as if they had been cooped up in seat belts for ten hours and were excited about something. Damn kids. I had a headache and anticipated a frown from Hubby as he walked out to the van (not because I’m a pessimist or because he’s an asshole, mind you. Because every time we go somewhere, something pops up that puts a kink in our plans. And neither one of us are particularly ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ people.) But as it were, he walked out smiling! A home run!

We found the room easily enough, after piling three days’ worth of luggage for six people, a crock pot full of Sloppy Joe’s and three grocery bags of groceries (more Red Bull, some chips, soda, chocolate . . . necessities, people) on top of one of those rolly luggage racks things. Being the ‘you need to work hard to earn this shit’ mom that I am, I did make all the kids carry their own backpacks. Our room had the promised ‘Happy Birthday’ sign on the door and a large bag full of the birthday package treats we paid for in this nifty little add-on appropriately called the birthday package.


Let me go into painful detail here, as this thing was so cool:

At this water park, you pay for your room and you get as many water park passes as people you list staying in your room. So on this particular trip we had 11. Since it was Liam’s birthday, I thought, why the hell would I not add this $125 package to the mix? The Internet claimed that we would get a meal comp, a birthday cake, a poster, a scrapbook and tokens for the arcade for four kids. Let me tell you, at Great Wolf Lodge, they don’t skimp on their packages! I assumed we’d get a meal comp for four people, a crappy paper scrapbook with an ugly, flimsy cover and a tiny birthday cake. Instead, we got a meal comp for nearly all 11 of us (it was pizza, salad, breadsticks and soda. We had to buy one pizza because a. I like my fatty food, b. our three boys can eat an entire box of cereal in one breakfast, so dinner has to be large, and c. my Hubby is excessive in everything he does), a HUGE round birthday cake, decorated and personalized, eight arcade tokens for each kid, a chocolate bar for each kid and a scrapbook that cost $29.99 in the gift shop. I checked. Ooh, and I almost forgot what had me so impressed. The birthday child was to receive a ‘stuff the animal’ and outfit in the gift shop, akin to Build-A-Bear. I checked that out, too. The animal was $24.99 and the outfit was $19.99. So far, just the extras tally to $75, not including dinner, the cake and the arcade tokens. I’d say that the tokens should have been about . . . (ugh, maths) $8. That leaves like $40 for an entire pizza dinner and a birthday cake (don’t you dare refigure my math. That would be embarrassing. I did it all in my head with no paper and pen. I’m impressed, but I haven’t checked my work with a calculator). Regardless of actual birthdays, I’d say it would be a great idea for anyone going to GWL to add this package on. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat cake and pizza in their hotel room?


Pizza party

Back to the main attraction – my sweet baby niece made her appearance at her first vacation! At seven weeks old, she was a vision in pink. Her dark skin and hair made everything she wore look custom-colored just for her. I’d also mention the color of her eyes, but that little booger kept them closed for like the entire time she was there. Seriously, if I were a jealous person, I’d be insanely jelly of my sister and her super duper easy, sleepy baby. And the pinkness. Yeah, the pinkness would make me jealous. If I were a jealous person. Which I’m not.


Marley Renee, as pretty as her mommy

I got some great pictures of my mom sleeping in the water park.


I got a few cute pics of my kiddos smiling. I got a great shot of the birthday boy blowing out his candles. I got a few cute pics of that sweet, pink little baby. With her eyes closed, of course.

And that’s it.

See, nothing even remotely funny in three whole days.

Except for when Jamie got pulled over and received a speeding ticket with all four kids as witnesses. I was a great wife and didn’t say a single word, though inside my head I saw myself pumping my arm in the air and screaming, “YESSSSSSSSSS! It’s about time!”

Just kidding. No wife wants her hubby to get a speeding ticket.


And that’s the end of that. I must really be into this blogging thing because as Officer Not So Friendly (actually, he was kind of a dick – is it normal for a cop to ask the driver what color their car is?) was running Hubby’s license and registration, I very seriously contemplated whether I would/could be reprimanded for taking a picture of said cop handing the imminent ticket to my speeding Hubby. I wish I had done it, in hindsight. A reprimand from a crabby cop would have been great fodder for this. As would the resulting photo of shame.

I wonder what else I would do just to be able to write about it.







Seeing 20/20

In a family with kids, weekends are less of an end-of-week vacation and more of an opportunity to sneak in a few more chores and errands (and tears).  That is why I spent the majority of a crisp, glowing Saturday afternoon under the rejuvenating fluorescent lighting in the eye doctor’s office with both bigger boys.  To them, it was an opportunity to get something (like buy something.  Something new.  They have a problem with material possessions).  Number One repeatedly stated that he wanted glasses because they’d look so cool with his long hair and braces (!!) and Number Two kept stressing that although he wanted glasses, he didn’t want those things that go in your eyes.  “Contacts?” I asked. 

 “Yeah, I don’t want anything touching my eyes.” He looked out the window in a Focalin trance.  I should have known at that statement and the defeated body language that there may be an issue in the near future, but I waved aside his discomfort and laughed. 

 “Only bigger kids and adults get contacts!  Don’t worry; nothing is going to touch your eye.  The eye doctor is the easiest doctor to go to.”

 “Am I going to get eye drops?” I could hear the worry and once again, I chuckled.

 Haha.  Kid stress is hilarious.

 “No.  Why would you get eye drops?  You don’t have pink eye.”  Oh, woe is me for my ignorance and failure to predict that what can go wrong, will.  Of course he was going to get eye drops – dilation is the only way in which an eye doctor can prescribe glasses for a child with impaired vision.  One guess as to how I know that.

 Their excitement over the possibility of glasses grew as we neared the mall, as did their eyes as we walked past the indoor bungee jump and it’s corresponding sign – ONLY $7.00 FOR FIVE MINUTES!!!  “Mom!  Can we do it? I know you’re going to take us after the doctor!  That’s a surprise, right?  If we’re good we get to go.” 

 Hmm.  Noooo.  Never crossed my mind.  And wasn’t going to happen.  “What is seven times two?  Sorry, no.  Maybe another day you two can convince Dad to bring you.”  Passed the buck.

 Let me interject a little something here: I am a big believer in fate and signs, though I don’t usually internalize those signs and allow them to help me make decisions based on logic.  Nope.  I see them – don’t get me wrong – and I count them as they lead up to whatever climactic outburst is in my future, but I rarely heed their unspoken advise.  Case in point:  

 Sign #1:  I went the wrong way on the way to the eye doctor. 

 Sign #2:  As we walked up to the reception desk, the receptionist asked if I received their message about my insurance (no, I didn’t get that message.  I may have a problem with phones) – yep, what can go wrong, will.  They couldn’t find us in the system and for sure the glasses wouldn’t be covered.  Sigh.  The exam will, though, she told us, so I breathed a little easier . . . until Number Two had to get the puff of air test. 

 Sign #3:  Unfortunately, he watched his older brother do it and even though Number One laughed, Number Two was whining and wiggling, saying, “Nooo.  No.  I won’t do it.  No.”  I saw this coming a mile away.  Four tries later, the tech was able to get his first eye.  Three more tries and the second eye was done, though not without tears.  I, being the no nonsense mom that I am, actually grabbed him by the temples and held his head still, threatening to hold his eyelids open if he wouldn’t stop closing them.  I was subconsciously practicing for the feared eye drops.

 The eye doctor came in and determined Number One could see at 20/20 or better – saved a bunch of money with that little blessing.  Number Two, though, was deemed to see at 20/40 and needed corrective lenses.  We figured as much, so not too much of a shock . . . until the doctor brightly announced these words: “Okay, we’re almost done – if your mom agrees, all we have to do now is put a few drops in your eyes so we –“

 And the climax:  “No.  No.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Nooo!”  I watched with slight surprise as a fully medicated Number Two actually slid down the chair, hands on his eyes, crying already.  “No drops.  You said no drops.  You liar.  You’re a liar!!  I hate you!”

 “Hey, it’s gotta get done.  No chance of getting out of it.”  Ms. No Nonsense was in control, I kidded myself.

 I knew, based on my experience with Number Two’s fits, that with a little cajoling and perhaps even the dreaded bribe, I could get him to relax enough to just take the eye drops, so I tried offering ice cream.  I tried offering candy.  I tried begging (please, just let her put them in.  They don’t hurt.  Please.) and lost all self-respect.  The doctor tried begging.  I tried holding him down, but being twenty pounds and 7 inches taller than the last time I needed to hold him down really put a damper on my control.  He nearly banged his head on the corner of the table, and since I was struggling to keep his hands away from his face so the doctor could squeeze the drops in, he started kicking his feet, missing the doctor’s thigh by millimeters.  The whole time he continued to scream, “I hate you!  You’re a liar!  Liar!”

 Finally, I gave up the struggle and a light went on.  “He has oppositional defiant disorder,” I lamented, “do we have to do this?”  And that’s how I know a child needs to be dilated to obtain a prescription.  Every situation is a chance to learn something new.  “Is there a m-a-l-e  d-o-c here?”  As if Number Two was three years old and couldn’t spell.  The doctor looked at me, bewildered.  “It’s not personal, he just does better with men.  He usually just does what they say.  They’re gruffer.”  I felt like an idiot saying it, but . . . I was at a loss.  In hindsight, I should really be reading all those helpful articles I signed up to have e-mailed to me from a great ADHD website.

 Enter a male optician, 40ish, blonde, soft-spoken, and smiling.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted someone tall, dark and scary looking to sweep in and say, “Okay, we’re doing this.  One drop, two and we’re done.”  Nope.  What I got was a sweet child-like man who did not want to use force (probably the best thing anyway).  He tried bribing with candy.  He tried bribing with a mini field trip to the lab where he made glasses.  Still Number Two had his hands on his eyes, crying and kicking – looking a little ridiculous alone on the chair, fighting just the idea of something.  The optician spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to convince this ball of tears and squeals to just take the eye drops, during which time I dithered between feeling crappy about the doctors’ wasted time and feeling crappy for Number Two’s stress.

 In the end, I did what any other self-respecting parent would do.  I caved.  I asked for another appointment so that Dad could bring him and I could take my flaming cheeks and get the h-e-double hockey sticks outta there.  Yeah, I passed the buck again.  Embarrassment had never felt so deserved as I should have a) realized that special needs require special prep and b) had a plan in place for the tantrum I should have seen coming. But before I could go, the optician came up behind me and whispered conspiratorially, “I even tried to pay for a bungee jump.  No dice.  Sorry Mom.”

 Am I right to be doubly embarrassed that a perfect stranger offered his own money to convince my child to do what his mom says?  Was anything I did during this trip right?  Am I screwing up my kid? Maybe the answer to the latter is one I don’t want to hear, as just this morning I caught myself reminding (teasing, nagging) him that there are only three more days until he gets the eye drops.  And they might hurt this time.