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

 

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.

I Needed That

Wow!  I cannot believe how many moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas, read my most recent post composed of foggy thoughts made clear one night around 4am.  I just thought a few people might read it and relate.  I had hoped I could just make somebody smile.  I had NO IDEA millions of people would come across my story.  So many mommys said, “I needed that”.  That they were up with a sick child, exhausted, or at their wit’s end.  That they are a single mother trying to play both parenting roles and unsure of themselves.  A stay-at-home dad.  Those who still need their mommys, and talk to them in Heaven.  That they were a grandma who just needed a memory of holding her 1st child while listening to broadcasts as The Bay of Pigs unfolded.  I think we all just need a little reassurance that we are not alone.  That we are doing the best we can.  That somewhere out there in the dark night, some other parent is up rocking their colicky baby.  The needs I spoke of in this post were the basic physical needs of young children.  And I know there are oh so many more.  Many more experiences and adventures to come in this journey of parenthood.  I can’t wait for the memory-making to unfold like the pages of a book.  I think I am only at about Chapter 3.  I pray there are 100.  Thank you for visiting my page.  Thank you for sharing your advice and tears.  Thank you.  I am honored.

What do I need?  Well, I often need a kick in the rear.  Or a glass of red wine.  I need the sunshine to come out (pretty rare here in Central Indiana these days).  I also need a maid, but I don’t think that is going to happen either.  I know for sure I need my mommy.  I need her to watch my baby so I can get out of the house or just to join me on a trip to the mall.  I need my dad to be a different male role model to my boys than my husband.  One that is full of train rides and trips to Steak N Shake.  I need my sister to pick up my oldest from pre-school and take him to her house to bake cupcakes.  Most of all I need my husband.  To be my boys’ “superhero”, and mine.  I have been a parent for just 4 and 1/2 short years.  I need wisdom.  From my mom, my mother-in-law, my cousins, friends, from you.

I am counting on my children needing me in their teen years.  Just as I needed my mom to stop me from leaving the house with ridiculous hair or take me to the dermatologist’s office for my acne.  I assume they will need their dad just like I needed mine to walk with me along the beach in Florida as a child, and to walk me down the aisle to my husband.  I am counting on my children needing their father to drive them to baseball practice, host insane wrestling matches, and to have talks with them that I cannot.

My children need their grandparents.  They need them to form those special and unique bonds that a child can only have with a grandma or grandpa.  I needed my grandpa. I needed him there to celebrate his 91st and final Christmas, because, even though we celebrated it in a wonderful assisted-living community instead of his cozy living room in Lafayette, IN, it just wouldn’t have been Christmas without him.

I know my children will need me in my “golden years”, just not in that same aching way they need me now.  I sure do need my parents now!  Probably more than ever.  Or maybe now I just realize it, and say thank you.  Something I am pretty sure my 16-year-old self didn’t do. Those of you who know me know I am only half-kidding about a wheelchair in an assisted-living facility.  The ones I know of are wonderful places full of loving and caring staff.  I will be the first to wheel myself down to happy hour if I am lucky enough to have my kids put me in one with a bar.

Being there for the people who need us.  Saying thank you to the people who are important in our lives.  Laughing together.  Having a beautiful memory that brings a tear.  God.  Love.  Isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s really pretty simple, even when it’s not.  Please remind me of that one day when I sit in my room at Shady Acres with plenty of free time.  I just pray that in my arms will be my great-grand baby.  And at the table next to me, a well-worn book, an empty baby bottle, and a glass of wine.  Red wine.

*** If you NEED something to laugh at, you can laugh at me, I don’t mind.  Here is a sneak peek at tomorrow’s post…***

The Baricade

There are 2 little superheroes in this picture.  Somewhere.

“Mommy, Somebody Needs You.”

by Megan Minneman Morton

Ever since we brought our new daughter home, her older brothers have been the first to tell me when she is crying, whimpering, or smelling a little suspicious.  “Somebody needs you,” they say.  I have no idea how this little saying started, but at first it sort of annoyed me.  I could be enjoying a quick shower… “Mommy, somebody needs you.  The baby is crying.”  Or, sitting down for a second, quite aware that the baby was beginning to stir from a nap…. “Mama, somebody needs you!”  Okay!  I get it already!  And not to mention that the newborn’s needs pale in comparison to the needs of 2 little boys.  Somebody always needs a snack, a band-aid, a different sock, ice cubes in their water, a NEW Paw Patrol, a stream of snot wiped, a hug, a story, a kiss.  Some days never seem to end, and the monotony of being “needed” can really take its toll. Then, it all started to hit me, they need ME.  Not anybody else.  Not a single other person in the whole world.  They need their Mommy.

The sooner I can accept that being Mommy means that I never go off the clock, the sooner I can find peace in this crazy stage of life.   That ‘Mommy’ is my duty, privilege and honor. I am ready to be there when somebody needs me, all day and all night.  Mommy means I just put the baby back down after her 4am feeding when a 3-year-old has a nightmare.  Mommy means I am surviving on coffee and toddler leftovers.  Mommy means my husband and I haven’t had a real conversation in weeks.  Mommy means I put their needs before my own, without a thought.  Mommy means that my body is full of aches and my heart is full of love.

I am sure there will come a day when no one needs me.  My babies will all be long gone and consumed with their own lives.  I may sit alone in some assisted living facility watching my body fade away.  No one will need me then.  I may even be a burden.  Sure, they will come visit, but my arms will no longer be their home.  My kisses no longer their cure.  There will be no more tiny boots to wipe the slush from or seat belts to be buckled.  I will have read my last bedtime story, 7 times in a row.  I will no longer enforce time outs.  There will be no more bags to pack and unpack or snack cups to fill.  I am sure my heart will yearn to hear those tiny voices calling out to me, “Mommy, somebody needs you!”

So for now, I find beauty in the peaceful 4am feedings in our cozy little nursery.  We are perched above the naked oak trees in our own lavender nest.  We watch the silent snow fall and a bunny scampering across its perfect white canvas.  It’s just me and my little baby, the neighborhood is dark and still.  We alone are up to watch the pale moon rise and the shadows dance along the nursery wall.  She and I are the only ones to hear the barn owl hooting in the distance.  We snuggle together under a blanket and I rock her back to sleep.  It’s 4am and I am exhausted and frustrated, but it’s okay, she needs me.  Just me.  And maybe, I need her too.  Because she makes me Mommy.  Some day she will sleep through the night.  Some day I will sit in my wheelchair, my arms empty, dreaming of those quiet nights in the nursery.  When she needed me and we were the only two people in the world.

Can I enjoy being needed?  Sometimes, sure, but often it is tiring.  Exhausting.  But, it isn’t meant to be enjoyed every moment.  It is a duty.  God made me their Mom.  It is a position I yearned for long before I would ever understand it.  Over a 3 day weekend my husband couldn’t believe how many times our boys kept saying, “Mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy”!  “Are they always like this?” he asked not able to hide his terror, and sympathy.  “Yep.  All day, everyday.  That’s my job.”  And I have to admit that it is the toughest job I have ever had.  In a previous life I was a restaurant manager for a high volume and very popular chain in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  A Saturday night at 7:30pm with the expo window overflowing with dishes, a 2 hour wait, and the electricity inexplicably going out has got nothing on a Tuesday, 5:00pm at the Morton house.  And let me tell ya, South Florida diners are some of the toughest to please.  But, they are a cake walk compared to sleep-deprived toddlers with low blood sugar.

Once upon a time, I had time.  For myself.  Now, my toe nails need some love.  My bra fits a little differently.  My curling iron might not even work anymore, I don’t know.  I can’t take a shower without an audience.  I’ve started using eye cream.  I don’t get carded any more.  My proof of motherhood.  Proof that somebody needs me.  That right now, somebody always needs me.  Like last night…

At 3am I hear the little footsteps entering my room.  I lay still, barely breathing.  Maybe he will retreat to his room.  Yeah right.

“Mommy.”

“Mommy.”  A little louder.

“Yes”.  I barely whisper.

He pauses, his giant eyes flashing in the dim light.

“I love you.”

And just like that, he is gone.  Scampered back to his room.  But, his words still hang in the cool night air.  If I could reach out and snatch them, I would grab his words and hug them to my chest.  His soft voice whispering the best sentence in the world.  I love you.  A smile curls across my lips and I slowly exhale, almost afraid to blow the memory away.  I drift back to sleep and let his words settle into my heart.

One day that little boy will be a big man.  There will no longer be any sweet words whispered to me in the wee hours.  Just the whir of the sound machine and the snoring husband.  I will sleep peacefully through the night, never a worry of a sick child or a crying baby.  It will be but a memory.  These years of being needed are exhausting, yet fleeting.  I have to stop dreaming of “one day” when things will be easier.  Because, the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today.  Today, when I am covered in toddler snot and spit up.  Today, when I savor those chubby little arms around my neck.  Today is perfect.  “One day” I will get pedicures and showers alone.  “One day” I will get myself back.  But, today I give myself away, and I am tired, and dirty and loved SO much, and I gotta go.  Somebody needs me.

SomebodyNeedsYou

Trying To Rest in My Nest

Hi.  I just had a baby.  A soft, perfect, 9 lb butterball of love.  A little girl!

I can’t say this is the best time of year to have a new baby.  A blizzard, some quirky cable, and 2 VERY stir crazy toddlers have made it…challenging.  But, I like a challenge.  So, for now I am just trying to rest in my nest, wrangle my toddlers, and bond with my new little girl.

I will be back posting soon, or kind of soon.  How about, I will be back posting sometime before the ground thaws when my brain works, kind of.

Welcome to our nest Sage Genevieve.

View More: http://bykatiedestry.pass.us/sagegenevieve