Below Sea Level.

I feel so lucky.

We’re just back from a nine-day family vacation. Nine days. And my teenagers actually wanted to go.

I josh you not.

While the trip started out a bit rocky. Rocky, as in I vomited all the way from the TSA line at National Airport through a layover in Milwaukee and onward to San Francisco. Rocky, as in the flight attendant on the second flight asked Andrew if I was a nervous flyer. He said, “No, she’s just sick.” Bet that made her day. And rocky, as in I missed the first 36 hours of our San Fran visit.

But Andrew and the boys kept on ticking. I had a great and comfortable place to rest (go VRBO!) and they saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito (which they fondly call Sausagelito). And they saw the SF Museum of Modern Art. And rode cable cars. And such.

I totally rallied for Alcatraz.

It was so interesting and a beautiful day. We were so happy to be together. It was, for me, the start of a wonderful vacation.

Did you know that there are still three Alcatraz prisoners alive? All are still in prison somewhere. Andrew is really into the show Alcatraz. I think it’s just creepy. But, I digress.

Dinner that night? So fun. We went to Range. And yes, my sons were the only non-adults there. But no one seemed to mind. They’re as tall as the adults, anyway. And they know their way around a nice restaurant. It was all good.

The next 4 days were incredible. Monterey. Yosemite. (We stayed in a Caboose and had fabulous Cajun food. Not kidding.) Sequoia.

And Death Valley. Very fun “resort” in Death Valley. We met the nicest people there. And honestly, I think that I slept better there than any other night. It was just so peaceful and we were so darn happy. After dinner, there was nothing to do. I mean nothing. No Internet. No TV. No cell service.

We bought a 40 at the convenience store (for the adults, obviously) and some snacks for all. And we played poker. All of us in one room, laughing and playing cards. So fun.

And the next morning, we headed into the park and saw the sites. We hiked. We took pix. (Okay, that was me.) and we went to the lowest place in North America.

We look happy, no?

After a full and exhausting day, we headed east to Las Vegas.

And the adventure continued.

There are a million details I left out. Like the Artichoke Capital of the World. Like the funny Mexican restaurant in Laughlin. Or Laughlin, in general.

I can’t express how happy I am that we had a week of laughs. A week of talking. A week of experiencing. A week I’ll never forget.

My boys are growing up so fast. Davis will be applying to colleges soon. And as of next fall, they’ll all be in high school. No more middle school. No more elementary school. No more preschool.

It’s shocking.

But it’s wonderful.

I’m so grateful. (Not for the throwing up part. But for every other minute of my life.)

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Higher education.

{note: I deleted the post by mistake & sadly it took away all the lovely comments. I promise you I read them! Yikes. Sorry}


It’s really never been a question of whether our kids would go to college, but rather where they’d go. (I’ll add that Andrew and I would be open-minded about non-college options or a gap year.) But in general, college has always been on the table as the next step after high school.

It seemed so far away.

So unfathomable.

So impossible.

And yet, Davis has been working on his list of colleges to consider. We’ve visited a couple already and plan to visit more. He’s taken the ACTs and will take the SATs in a week or so.

Rewind to when he had rosy cheeks and freckles. (see above!)

He sat up on his bed – high up on the top bunk – and looked at me very seriously.

“Mom, when I go to college, I want to stay here and live with you. Maybe I’ll go to Johns Hopkins.”

And though it was unbearable to consider that he’d ever leave, I told him that while living home during college was a fine option, it was likely he’d change his mind when he was 16 or 17. And that for a lot of kids, going to college away from their parents is a big part of the college experience. Part of growing up.

Still, he insisted he’d never leave me. He loved me way too much.

The schools that he’ll be applying to are varied and wonderful. None is a commuter school for us. And honestly? I think that’s great for him – the right choice. I know he’ll be great on his own.

But there’s that little piece of me that wants to cry and remind him that he promised he’d never leave.

Name Game

Name Train

When each of my boys was born, my friends Risa & Howard sent wooden letters to spell the newborn’s name. (And a caboose and engine, of course.)

Think they’d be surprised to know that the long train with all three boys’ names lives in plain view all these years later?

It was such a wonderfully, thoughtful gift. Maybe I’ll pass the letters down with the brio trains someday…

Postcards from the Edge

I’ve saved every postcard that our family has received since the kids were born. I thought the boys would appreciate having them. 

Stored in a vintage wine bottle basket, they quietly sit on a high bookshelf in my bedroom. 

But I know they are there.

The basket caught my eye this morning and I had to take it down. I spent time with every card and smiled as I remembered the boys’ excitement as they looked at the pictures and I read them out loud…

Happy judgment-free holidays to you.

I came across a post I wrote 6 years ago today. And it still resonates. I mean, really. What the heck is balance anyway? My boys were 7, 8, and 10 at the time. A lot has changed in our world.

But not that much.

Parts of Speech

[originally posted 12/23/05]

Judging others is a dangerous hobby. Without all the facts (and you never have all the facts) it is impossible to understand someone’s decisions, motives, choices on all fronts. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t relate to others’ issues, challenges, etc. Two things I’ve learned over the years come to mind:

1) You don’t know what happens in someone else’s house.
2) Never say “I never would…” in reference to someone else’s choices. You might one day when faced with the same situation.

I’ve been stewing about something that happened the other day. In order to let it go, I’ve decided to write about it. I drove some kids (including some of my own) to an after-school class. One of the kids was unable to carry his stuff in, so I dropped them all off, parked the car, and, sans coat, trekked across the parking lot to bring the kid his stuff. I was cold. I had a sick kid at home I wanted to get back to. My father had a procedure that day and I couldn’t go sit with my mom while she waited because of my kid at home who needed me. My work was behind schedule due to the same sick kid and the construction noise at the house was really getting to me and to that same sick kid, who cried about his head hurting for hours. You get the picture – the day was not a cake walk. (I always wanted to say cake walk – I hope I used it correctly!)

Walking into the school, I ran into a friend. Not a “hang out all the time” friend, but someone I like and socialize with occasionally. After saying hello, she took a hard look at me and said:

Balance is a verb.

It felt like a punch in the stomach. She has balance so never looks harried? I am unbalanced? I am incapable of managing my life? What exactly was this wisdom she was (unsolicited, I might add) presenting to me? She had no idea what I had done for the past month, let alone for the day. I was really irritated. How superior.

After a day I asked a close friend, who I respect tremendously, what she thought. She said:

Bitch is a verb too.

Happy Erev Chanukah. Merry Christmas Eve. I’m planning on a judgment-free holiday.

Shake it, baby, shake it.

The earthquake today was crazy. We all made a quick bee-line for the basement. We waited until we were sure it was over. The boys were a little scared. It was a little scary.

But I admit, I was so glad we were all together.

It’s that time of year again.


It feels like the heat of summer, yet we’ve been school supply shopping.

The start of school is bittersweet for me. I do appreciate when the boys are in school – learning and growing. I appreciate the quiet days with the early beginnings.

But I do miss them. And I am very conscious of the time ticking away; they’re growing up so fast. And this year, we start thinking about college for our oldest son. Unbelievable.

I won’t pretend that the first day of school doesn’t freak me out. I wrote about it here in 2006 and here in 2009. And in case you don’t want to click on the links, I’ll summarize it for you here. I cry the first day of school. Always have, always will. It’s just how it is. Feel free to ask my mom. She’ll confirm it.

So, as I was saying, we went school supply shopping today.

We don’t need crayons anymore. We buy college-ruled paper and flash drives.

I don’t know where the time has gone.

And as we were putting the supplies away and restocking our pencil and paper supplies, I took the time to clean out the drawers. I found fingerpainting paper (why did I save that?), safety scissors, and more crayons than you could shake a stick at. The crayons were in the Crayola ‘cigar’ box that we’ve had for as long as I can remember and a Crayola-branded zip up case that came with an art set that Davis got for his birthday when he was 3. Seriously? We have so many crayons that I doubt you’d really believe me if I counted them.

And you know what? I don’t have the heart to throw them out. I just don’t. Seeing and smelling them brings back memories of Davis and Sophie coloring at the kitchen table, Reed eating his first blue, Max coloring on the high chair tray. And of course, I can’t forget all the amazing art projects and coloring books.

So the boys are ready for school. 8th, 9th, and 11th grades. They aren’t taking crayons on their first day. Or any day. But I’m not throwing them out.

I just can’t.

Shock, review, and happiness.

Shock


Notice anything strange about this soap? Like the fact that it is unused? Yes, folks. I just unpacked this from one of my sons upon his return from 4 weeks at camp. All I can say is that I hope he gave the shampoo double-duty. Otherwise, ewwww. Just ewwww.

Review

I was sent a full size sample of the NEW Downy UNSTOPABLES™ from Vocalpoint, so fter researching to be sure it was safe in a high efficiency washer, I decided to give it the test of all tests.

Yes, I’m talking about the musty, filthy, disgusting clothes the boys brought home from camp.

I’m not big on a lot of scents, so I started slowly. The first load came out smelling amazing! So, I tried a little more in the next. And the next. And now, I might be hooked.

Yes, I’m still going to need to burn some of those clothes. They may smell fresh, but they’re never (and I mean never) going to get clean. But the clean clothes? They’re both clean and fresh and the boys’ rooms smell better than ever since I hung the clothes up in their closets. Win/win.

I am a happy mom.

Happiness

But the real reason for my extreme happiness? We’re all back together again!