How to Enjoy Your Spring Break, With Kids. (Hint: Put Your Phone Down)

It’s that time of year again.  Spring break!!!  Or as many moms think of it…  Just another week, but with an exorbitant amount of sand, close quarters, and a really small washing machine.  No matter what you call it, or whether you are traveling to Fiji or enjoying a “stay-cation”, it is a week of no school and hopefully some days off for Mom and Dad.  Needless, to say, the additional passenger in every family’s car or plane is… the smart phone.   I am openly “technically challenged”, but still more often than not, find myself always with a little 6 oz electronic addiction in my hand.  I will not be controlled by a bunch of wires and over-priced plastic!  I am going to beat this addiction with a good old-fashioned family vacation!  Sans electronics.  No phones, no laptops, no nothing.  Okay, except for the plane.  The kids can use approved electronic devices on the plane.  But, this is strictly for the safety of other passengers.

Every year we travel down south to Longboat Key, Florida.  A tropical little island paradise with gleaming white beaches and azure foamy waves.  I have gone there for spring break every year since I was 5 years old.  And for 25 fabulous years, I had a lovely, relaxing time.  Then one year, we had a stowaway.  He was a little 20 pound butterball that woke up 3 times a night and successfully ended every dinner out by competing for “world’s longest high pitch shriek”.  This little condo-crasher seemed to think the whole vacation revolved around him!  He was wide awake and ready to take on the day, every morning by 4:30am, and his only beach skills involved being able to stuff an entire fist-full of sand into his tiny mouth.

Gone were the days of basking in the afternoon sun and staying up late at the tiki bar.  Gone were the days of actual…vacation.  Of course, it was great to be away from work, but, wait a second!  This was kind of harder than work!  My clients didn’t usually wake me up during the night, spill my beverages, or poop in a diaper.  It probably didn’t help that I was 10 weeks pregnant with #2.  So, no liquid comforts.  I couldn’t drink alcohol, but my husband and I were definitely consuming a big ‘ol dose of reality.  We realized that just like the first months of parenthood, we were wildly unprepared for the changes that came along with a new baby, on vacation.

Fast forward a few years, and we are sitting with our lounge chairs sinking into the tide.  The sun is setting and we are sipping frosty Coronas.  Two sun-kissed little boys run and dip into the waves, wielding their sand shovels.  Our little boys.  We have figured it out.  How to vacation with kids.  It’s different then vacation used to be, it’s harder to enjoy at times and a lot more work. But it is much, much more fulfilling.  We learned that once you are a parent, it’s just not always about you.  It’s usually about them, and more importantly… it’s about time together as a family.  Even if that time is spent removing sand from all sorts of crevices.  Even if your “basking in the sun” is about 14 minutes on the deck while everyone is briefly asleep at the same time.  Even if, you eat dinner out so early that the tiki bar isn’t even open yet.  Vacation with kids is about learning, observing, sharing, and adjusting.  It’s about the adults taking turns.  It’s about finding the peaceful moments to sit and soak in the memories.  Before someone has a fight over a beach bucket.  You won’t remember how cold the surf feels the 11th time you go to the sandbar in a row.  You won’t remember what you ate out at dinner, or if you even did.  But you will remember dancing in the sand with your little ones to a steel drum band.  You will remember watching your child cautiously find their way closer and closer to the waves, building their confidence and forging a life-long love of the sea, just as you did.  You will remember your first trips to the shore, and for a few days, you will begin to be a child again.  You will dig in the sand, forgetting about your manicure.  You will search for the perfect shell and chase the sand pipers.  You will fall asleep, your hair soaking with salty water, wrapped in a Disney beach towel.

BeachBoys

Most importantly, they will remember.  Your children will remember watching the golden sun melt into the ocean, with you.  They will remember special morning walks with just Daddy along the shore and spotting a school of dolphins. They will remember that first sunburn and the smell of the cool aloe as Mommy spreads it across their arms.  They won’t remember if they had to go to timeout for kicking sand at their brother, but they will remember how they loved the warm days, together.  Distraction.  Isn’t that really what a vacation is?  A distraction from your daily life, a chance to escape some of the monotony?  I know I use my phone as a distraction.  I just don’t want to distract myself from my vacation.  So, au revoir phone!

BeachDad

 

I can absolutely promise you, that you will not remember that awesome YouTube video you are watching while your daughter finds a perfect conch shell.  I can assure you, that voice mail from work is not as important as riding the waves with your son.  I am positive that the Facebook news feed will not bring you as much satisfaction as filling your spouse’s empty hand with your own.  We will get used to our lack of electronics, just as we did to braving the security line with toddlers.  Vacationing with kids is about enjoying, adjusting and growing.  And being able to laugh at yourself when you need to(have you ever changed a blowout in an airplane bathroom?)  But most importantly, being present.  Be there, with your family, and don’t miss a single sunset.

So please join us as we give ourselves the gift of a technology-free vacation.  Don’t let your children remember you on the beach with your face buried in your I-Phone.  Use it to capture a picture of them buried in the white sand, change your profile picture to this new memory, and then… put it away.

Safe travels everyone!  Enjoy your time together!

BeachMom

 

Decorating For St. Patrick’s Day

Top ‘O the Mornin!  St. Patrick’s Day is highly celebrated and under-decorated.  Growing up in an Irish family, I have always loved March 17 for its tradition, fun, beer, and c’mon, everyone looks great in green!

Here are some of my favorite simple decorating ideas for St. Paddy’s Day…

Pin up St. Patrick’s Day cards, pins, and  kids’ artwork!

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A few assorted beer glasses with green water and a floating candle make an easy and inexpensive display..

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St. Patrick’s Day in a ball jar!  Fill a jar with gold coins and cute green hats(available at Michaels)

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Festive signs from the $1 section at Target on the front door…

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No St. Paddy’s Day is complete without some real beer…in a cupcake!  This recipe is delicious and leaves some leftover Guinness that just can’t be wasted.  I found this on www.partypeopleblog.com last year and have promised my son that my fingers will not get caught in the mixer again this time.  That was before I drank the Guinness BTW.

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Icing

-For the Cupcakes-

1 bottle Guinness

1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Baking Temperature:  350 degrees

Baking Time:  17 minutes

Makes 24 Yummy Cupcakes

1.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

2.  Bring Guinness and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat.

3.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly

4.  Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in a large bowl.

5.  Add Guinness-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat until just combined.

6.  Add flour mixture and beat on slow speed.

7.  Fold batter until completely combined.

8.  Fill cupcake liners, 2/3 to 3/4 full.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Cool completely on a rack before icing.

-For the Frosting-

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 tablespoon milk

1.  Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until creamy.

2.  Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well (about 2 minutes) after each cup until a good consistency is reached.

3.  Add Bailey’s and milk until just combined.

Ice, decorate with sprinkles or a shamrock, and enjoy!!!!

Erin Go Braugh!!!

The Author of “Mommy, Somebody Needs You”? Is You.

Shhh… the baby is sleeping.  But, I want to tell you a secret.

I don’t know you, but you are awesome.  I know, and this is why…

If your arms have held a baby, and you’ve had to stop and catch your breath because the love has pushed up into your lungs, where the air should be…

If you love a child and their eyes melt you like a bowl of ice cream…

If you are a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, step mom, step dad, adoptive mom or dad, orange, purple or green…

… then you are the greatest person on earth to someone.  Your love makes you awesome and no one can ever tell you any differently.

You are doing the best you can.  Even if you just went through the McDonald’s drive thru or have more fruit chewies in your pantry than you do fresh fruit.  Even if you have laid down on the floor and cried, thinking, “I can’t do this.”  Or, “I can never do this like SHE does!”  You can.  And you can do it better.  Because no matter how this baby you love ended up in your arms, it is yours, and no one could ever love it more. SHE couldn’t love it any better.  And just what is “it” anyway?

Motherhood.  It is a tough job, and God didn’t just choose anyone to be your baby’s mom.  He chose you.

Your Nursery

A mother’s love is universal.  It’s power is the same whether in a cottage in the Swiss Alps or a Syrian refugee camp.  Mommys and Daddys from 216 different countries read the post, “Mommy, Somebody Needs You”.  They read it, because they wrote it.  Maybe not with the clicks of the keyboard, but with the beats of their heart.  You have held your baby alone in the night.  You have cradled your sick child.  You have felt exhausted and isolated.  You have felt elated and blessed beyond words.  If you love a child, then that child needs you, at any age and anywhere.  This love spans all landscapes and centuries.  This love looks with the same eyes into the starry night, whether through the holes of a withering tent or the cool panes of a nursery window.

So see that other mother over there?  She is beautiful.  She is a perfect mother.  Even if only in the eyes of her adoring child.  You don’t know where she has been.  So don’t assume to know her unless you have changed a thousand diapers in her shoes.  Help her.  Smile at her.  Open the door for her double stroller.

She has 1 child.  She has 8 children.  She has paid help.  She has a wonderful husband.  She is a single mom.  She is a widow.  She is in a same-sex relationship.  She is funny. She is terrified.  She is blessed.  She is insecure.  She is tired.  She is proud.  She is Mommy, Mum, Maman, Ahm, Mami, Mat’, Mae, Okaasan.  Across the earth we are all the same, we just have a different story.

Don’t judge another mother, help one another.  Don’t keep it a secret.  Don’t whisper, shout it!

Tell a mom she is awesome.  Even if it is yourself.

Now, pass it on…

Trending Today…

Trending today at the Morton house…

Flirting with the ceiling fan (the baby, not me)

Selfies,

Trending Selfies

Chocolate chip waffles,

Running with no pants on (a 4-year-old, not me)

***Picture Censored***

Wearing flip-flops indoors, all day, for the 37th day in a row.  In winter.

Trending Flip Flops

Snuggling with baby sister,

Trending Snuggles

Playing new game called, “mean animals”.  Involves crawling around and howling as a pack of wolves and speaking in very mean voices.  I get to be the three-legged wolf with 1 eye who carries about 30 beanie babies back and forth to our “mean wolf den”. 

What’s trending in your nest today???

Jesus and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last Thursday was just like any other cold, snowy winter Thursday here in Indiana.  Maybe your Thursday went a little something like mine.  Or maybe you think I am totally crazy.  Either way, here is what happened…

4:55am Hear Baby Girl crying in nursery

5:35am Finish feeding, diaper change, and swaddling

5:40am Perform yoga moves on nursery floor

6:00am Fall back asleep in bed

6:35am 4-year-old wakes up

7:00am 3-year-old wakes up

7:01am I am in denial that they are awake and continue to lay in bed.  Hear husband head downstairs so I can doze.  God bless him!

8:00am Notice that Big Brother looks pretty crummy for the 10th day in a row.  Miss call-in-hour at doctors office

8:00am-8:30am Make breakfasts, distribute medicine, start laundry load #1, unload dishwasher, chug coffee, pillage pantry for healthy breakfast

8:30am Call doctor and get 10am appointment

8:35am-9:15am Talk incessantly to The Brothers about being ready to leave for doctor on time, feed baby, change everybody’s clothes, pack bag, clean kitchen, argue with The Brothers about cleaning up the “airport” they built out of the couch cushions, realize I am in my pajamas…

9:18am Little Brother removes clothes because being “cold is my favorite”.  Refuses to put on any clothes besides Cincinnati Reds shorts and t-shirt he has been wearing since last June

9:27am Little Brother is still laying naked on floor

9:30am 2 outa 3 in car and ready to leave on time.  Bribe Little Brother into clothing himself and getting into car.  He refuses to get in car seat until his hair is, “how I like it”.  I submit to brushing his red hair into a comb over

9:50am Arrive at parking lot 10 minutes ahead of schedule.  Excited to beat other 10am appointment people to the check-in window

9:51am Realize there is absolutely no where to park due to construction

9:52am Stalk lady sitting in pickup truck holding the “Vehicles with Small Children” spot hostage

9:53am Give up on evil woman in truck ever moving and park in Illinois

9:56am Hobble with infant car seat, bag, and 2 toddlers to pickup truck

9:57am Walk up to lady in truck and administer death stare

9:58am Notice other mom with 3 kids running into office building.  Begin dragging my offspring across the parking lot

10:00am Admit failure and sign in behind other family

10:01am Try to find corner of waiting room at least 3 feet away from any of the 18 kids that are coughing

10:02am Begin prayer that The Brothers do not start chanting, “Money Money Money!!!” while beating on the fish tank like our last visit

10:10am The Brothers stare at older boys crawling around waiting room and screaming.  They are either in shock, or getting ideas.

10:16am Notice Big Brother is standing in the middle of room, picking his nose and eating it

10:24am Begin to realize that everyone else is getting called in before us

10:27am Little Brother begins talking to random people and telling them that the other little boys in the waiting room are “really bad and mean people”

10:32am  Little Brother asks me, “is my hair like I like it?” for the 20th time.  Yes, your comb over looks amazing

10:46am Finally get called back for 10am appointment!

11:30am Finally leave doctor’s office and coast home on fumes since everyone is screaming that they are starving and I don’t think we (I) can make it to a gas station.  Safely.

11:45am  The Brothers now say they are not hungry and that they want to play outside.  It is the warmest day in about 4 months so I agree.  Big Brother swears he feels all better.  This would have been useful information earlier in the morning

11:55am Make lunches, clean bottles, get laundry load #2 going, constantly check on boys out the window

12:03pm  Realize The Brothers have been climbing a snow hill and are soaking wet and covered in gravel

12:04pm  Baby is screaming

12:06pm Nimbly dress The Brothers in snow pants, change socks, coats, hats, gloves and boots while in squatting position with baby in Bjorn.  At least 1 squat is done for today

12:10pm  Feed baby in dining room so I can watch The Brothers jump in giant mud puddles

12:30pm  Walk in 32 circles around cul-de-sac with baby in Bjorn for exercise

12:55pm – 1:20pm  Undress and re-dress The Brothers, feed children, cleanup, change poop diaper, entertain Baby Girl, start laundry load #3 and #4

1:25pm  Realize I am eating sandwich that fell on the floor that I meant to throw in trash can

1:35pm Lure Little Brother up to his room for naps with his Cincinnati Reds outfit

1:36pm  Little Brother informs me that he will probably “only get up 5 or 6 times to pee during naps”

1:45pm Big Brother promises to stay upstairs for quiet time and not come down until the secret message is enabled (a Jake and the Neverland Pirate ship at the top of the stairs is the signal that it is safe to come downstairs)

2:14pm I hear suspicious noises coming from the pantry.  Either Big Brother is performing one of his famous and stealthy “pantry sneaks” or we have a very large rat on our hands

2:17pm “Catch” Big Brother with large bowl of cereal sitting behind a curtain in master bedroom.  Not surprisingly, he acts like he just doesn’t know how this big bowl of cereal got upstairs. “It was probably Chippy.”  That’s our Elf on the Shelf.  It’s February dude, he has been back at the North Pole for weeks.

2:57pm Pretend to be asleep on couch as I hear Big Brother coming downstairs for a second offense

2:59pm  Big Brother gets as close to my face as he possibly can and asks 12 times, “Are you asleep?  Are you asleep?  Are you asleep?”

3:45pm Both brothers are allowed to get up.  Apparently they are upset that I wouldn’t let them eat cookies and have staged a coup

4:00pm Realize I have been barricaded from Big Brothers room

4:03pm-4:35pm  Feed Baby Girl, make dinner, continue loads of laundry #s I don’t remember, balance check book, call cable, refill prescriptions, do 5 minutes of pilates with Baby Girl on my stomach.  Briefly think how cute it is to hear The Brothers playing so nicely upstairs

4:41pm Glance in mirror and notice I only put mascara on 1 eye

4:44pm Realize it is WAY too quiet upstairs

The Baricadecoup2 coup2

Oh. That’s why.

I have been barricaded from the room due to my unwillingness to provide chocolate chip cookies.

5:30pm-6:30pm The Evening Hustle.  Husband comes home from work sick.  Make dinner, feed Baby Girl, maybe I did laundry, make school lunches, might have cleaned up

6:30pm  Sit at dinner table with 2 tiny food critics.  I gently explain that what we have for dinner is what is on our plates.  No, I will not be getting chocolate chip waffles.  Big Brother asks why I am so grumpy and Little Brother “accidentally” throws his plate on the ground.

7:00pm-8:00pm The Bedtime Hustle. Tubby time, try to wrestle with boys since daddy isn’t feeling well, feed Baby Girl, PJs, break up fight over which bedtime story to read, distribute medicines, potty one last time, fill humidifiers, ensure proper night lights are activated, prayers, and final tuck in.

8:09-8:27pm Silence.  Eerie silence.

8:28pm Mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy.  Little Brother is up and back at it.  In our efforts to enforce our “you only get tucked in once” rule.  We ignore him.

8:35pm He is still calling for me so we decide to investigate.

8:36pm  Find Little Brother standing in the bathroom with no pants on and bath towels covering the floor.  He informs us that he “accidentally pooped while he was going pee pee and hid the poopy.”

8:37pm Begin exciting scavenger hunt for poopy hidden under bath towels

8:40pm During poopy hunt, Little Brother informs us that he also happened to step in it and walk down the hallway

8:41pm Husband cleans up hershey trail from hallway, cleans up Little Brother, brings new load of towels down to be washed and tucks him in, one last time.  Ensures him it was just an accident and is no big deal, and that yes, his hair is like he likes it so there is no need to sleep sitting up

8:55pm Hear Big Brother calling “Mommy” from his room.  I lean over him and remind him I’ve already tucked him in and he needs to get some sleep.  He yawns and asks,

“Can you tell me a really good story about Jesus and chocolate chip cookies?”

I weave a brilliant and captivating tale involving these two subjects, say an extra prayer, tell him the crescent moon is out watching over him, kiss his little forehead, and creep out of his room as he sighs.  Probably already dreaming about Jesus.  And chocolate chip cookies.