A Vacation Is Just a Trip When You Bring Your Kids.

One month ago, we left on our first real family vacation. Let me rephrase that…One month ago, we left on our first real family trip.

Yep, that’s better. Trip is way more fitting, because damn this was no vacation. This trip was more work than the hustle of an ordinary day at home.

This was no ordinary trip tho. This was THE TRIP. The one my husband has talked about since the dawn of time…the one that I had to hear about for the past year (which really felt like the past 10 years) as he planned our every move on this week long trip. THE TRIP…

The Trip of a Lifetime

Anyone who knows us, knows that we don’t share the same appreciation of Disney at all. In fact, we have the opposite ideas of the place.

:: MY HUSBAND ::

Complete Disney Freak.

It’s slightly disturbing to me that a grown man likes Disney as much as he does, but alas…he does. Honestly, it’s become just slightly less disturbing as my daughter now shares his love of all things Disney & Princess (two of my all-time favorite things…complete sarcasm).

:: ME ::

Not a fan of crowds or standing in long lines, especially crowds or long lines with whiny children surrounding me.

At 7 years old, I wasn’t impressed with the place…turns out not much has changed in 30 years.

We flew down the 3rd week of January with my parents, our 5 year old, 6 month old and what felt like our entire house packed in 5 suitcases. We didn’t stay on Disney property. My parents were kind enough to reserve their timeshare for all of us, so we all stayed in a 3 bedroom condo together. Everyone was excited to make awesome memories and share laughs. We had no idea that it’d turn into the never-ending vacation with fail, after fail, after fail.

Disney didn’t disappoint, it was exactly what I thought…

Afternoon show of characters at Cinderella’s Castle

The “Happiest Place On Earth” where kids turn into assholes & parents look permanently pissed off because they dropped a ton of money for their kids to act like little turds.

No doubt, my daughter turned into a turd and I was a parent with the pissed off look.

There were glimpses of greatness & fun, generally followed by “what am I doing” moments. It was comforting to look around and know that you were not alone. Numerous times, I found myself chuckling listening to other parents having the same talk with their kid that I just had.

To get the full effect of what happened in the next week (and honestly the following week), I’ll give you the play by play.

Sunday
January 27, 2019

Epcot was a complete disaster, which included being drenched in rain that never-ended and my 6 month old going for a ride in the stroller when it fell backwards and hit the pavement. He wasn’t buckled into the stroller for the first time ever. Can you say Parents of the Year here? I turned into Momma Bear / Hulk in the middle of “The Happiest Place on Earth”. This would mark the start of the longest weeks I’ve had in a long time.

Monday
January 28, 2019

After being at the parks all day, we put the kids to bed and I hear my husband yelling for me. It’s 11pm and he starts frantically telling me that our flight home on Wednesday has already been cancelled. Cancelled? OMG, I can’t be stuck in Disney World. Truly that could be my version of hell.

The Polar Vortex was hitting Chicago. It was going to be -53 (yes that says NEGATIVE 53) and they were rescheduling all flights. He had turned his email notifications off and we were 5 hours late to the party to get a new flight home.

A quick call to Southwest with a hold time of 2 hours told us that everyone was also grappling with the same problem we had. We searched for any available non-stop flights (no way was I going to be taking a layover and risk getting stuck in an airport for days with 2 kids) and the best we could do was a Saturday flight at 6:30pm, so we took it. Of course, my mom and I click the change reservation button at the exact same time on the Southwest app and they didn’t get on our flight. Now we are on 2 separate return flights. Fantastic, since we took transportation to the airport together.

Tuesday
January 29, 2019

While at the park, we get a call from the vet that our dog is staying at. Parker has completely licked his back raw. They had to put him in a cone, treat him with antibiotics and they mentioned how depressed he is.

Of course, he’s depressed. This is the first time we left him since Cliff passed, and now he’s stuck until Monday…4 days longer than planned. He isn’t the most easy-going dog. We rescued him from a vet where his last family left him in the waiting room. He basically trusts no one.

We call my sister. Parker likes her. She agrees to go pick him up on Friday or Saturday. However, she has to take him back to our house because he trusts no one and she has a puppy at home. The second problem, she only has keys to our front door, but not the storm door. The storm door that is locked. In order for this plan to work, we’d have to get her keys somehow. She agrees to try to break into our house on Wednesday.

Wednesday
January 30, 2019

Luckily, I have family that lives in Tampa who graciously offered to open their home to us. Not only did it save us money, but it was nice to be in a house with the kids.

Since we have no where to be, at no particular time, we ask the timeshare we were staying in, Bluegreen Vacations, for a late check out. The answer was NO. My parents are owners of a timeshare, you’d think they’d be more understanding of our current situation. It’s not like we are simply hotel guests here. But they said NO, so we pack up the circus and head to Tampa by 10am.

The Polar Vortex hits Chicago with unbelievable temps. I am checking our Honeywell WiFi thermostat repeatedly to check the temperature in our house. (Did I mention that 3 weeks before we left for Disney, our furnace went out? Yes, that was how the fun of 2019 started!) That’s the perk of a WiFi thermostat, you can view it from anywhere. Except that I had received an email from Honeywell the day before we left for vacation, that they’d be doing server maintenance and we’d be losing connection to our thermostat intermittently.

Our services will undergo planned maintenance over the next few weeks. Start Date: January 22, 2019
THANKS FOR NOTHING HONEYWELL

Just perfect timing right? Record low temps and a new furnace. Every time I can see our thermostat, which is like every 12 hours or so when it reconnects, it is 55 degrees in my house. 55 DEGREES IN MY HOUSE, what in the actual F*&k.

Meanwhile, my sister and brother-in-law try to break into our storm door. A car keeps circling the block and watching them. It’s so cold out…the car freaked them out…they can’t get it. We find the nearest UPS Store to send our keys out. We OVERNIGHT the keys to my sisters house. OVERNIGHT, as in get there Thursday. This will mark the last time I use UPS.

Thursday
January 31, 2019

All day I keep an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. It is suppose to be delivered by 5:30pm. At 4:30pm, the package is all of a sudden ‘still in transit’. My husband calls UPS. Nobody knows anything about anything at this point, it’s still on a truck. Our package doesn’t make it overnight.

It is still 55 degrees in my house.

Friday
February 1, 2019

Keeping an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. By 5pm, I start to lose hope that this package is going to be delivered today.

I hear my husband outside on the phone at 5:30pm. I walk outside and he’s on the phone with my sister. The package was delivered at 5:28pm to my sisters front porch with a huge slit in the bottom of the envelope and MY KEYS ARE GONE. GONE. No damage to the envelope, just a slit at the bottom.

UPS SUCKS - Photo of package completely slit open at the bottom and ripped open

The UPS driver left the broken open package on my sisters front porch tucked under her welcome mat, like nothing was wrong. Luckily, my sister noticed the UPS truck in the driveway and stopped him. God bless her, she proceeded to cry scream at the driver and demanded to search the UPS truck for the keys. My brother-in-law and sister get on the UPS truck with flashlights. The keys are no where to be found. The UPS driver claims that he has to take the package back to mark it damaged, so he gets back on his truck with the damaged envelope. It’s 6pm on Friday now and nobody will help us.

It has now hit 62 degrees in my house.

February 2, 2019

At 11:30am, we pack the van back up and head back to Orlando to catch our 6:30pm flight. We are all so ready to be back home.

We stop in Disney again and find a playground for my 5 year old to run around for a little while before we have to sit in an airport for the rest of the day. While at the playground, I decide to check our flight. DELAYED 2 HOURS. I feel like crying at this point.

We catch wind of the news. The Orlando Airport (MCO) has been shut down and all flights have been grounded. A TSA agent has jumped and committed suicide in the security lobby of the Southwest gates. I can’t even form words at this point, so many thoughts are flooding my mind. One of which is: Are we ever going to make it home?

My sister decides to pick up Parker at 11am, even without a way to take him back home. He cries hysterically after seeing her, and jumps at every car in the parking lot, like “Lady, I don’t what you drive, but get me in that car and let’s get the hell out of this place.”

He broke out of jail and can finally relax.

It has now hit 66 degrees in my house.

We have been in touch with UPS who has told us that the UPS Store has to make it right. Apparently UPS and the UPS Store aren’t one entity. It’s like nobody wants to own what has happened. Of course, the UPS Store owner doesn’t work until Monday.

At 1:50pm, they reopen the airport and flights are starting to take off and land again. We start making our way to the airport, having no idea what we are going to encounter. We check our bags, which includes my daughter’s car seat and a large tub of formula that we now have to carry home because we ran out while on this never-ending vacation (We use Costco brand formula, they only sell it in Costco size tubs. We brought 1 with thinking it’d be gone for the trip home).

To our surprise, the security lines are short and we get through without much trouble. As we walk down the terminal, it seems that a majority of flights have been cancelled for the day. There are lines everywhere…long lines. Our flight is still good and is now only a 45 minute delay, we get in line for Family boarding at 7pm. It’s 7:10pm, our plane has arrived, but we still aren’t boarding. My phone buzzes, a text message from Southwest…

YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED due to weather. Our flight and my boarding pass has completely disappeared from the Southwest app.

I look up and see my husband’s face, who has just received the same text message..a look of panic. One by one, I can look around and see others on the same flight getting the same text message from Southwest. The terminal seems to be going up for grabs, it’s getting louder and people are running to get in line. My husband books it down to farthest gate to try to be first in line. We speak to a gate agent, soonest flight they can offer us is a 7:50pm FLIGHT ON MONDAY. You have got to be kidding me? We ask the gate agent if we can retrieve our bags. I mean my 6 month olds formula is in one of the bags and I don’t have enough formula in the diaper bag to get us to Monday. She can’t help us, we need to go to baggage claim to see if our bags are still in Orlando. Meanwhile, my husbands books a rental car. Driving home is sounding more appealing by the minute.

We get to baggage claim, just a complete cluster.

Mass chaos at MCO
Mass chaos at MCO. We have to try to get our bags with all of these stranded passengers.

I am by no means a seasoned traveler, but I travel more than the average person. I’ve been to my fair share of airports across the country. Never in my life have I ever been part of such a cluster f*&k like this. We waited 3 hours for our bags to come out.

Waiting for 3 hours for our bags at MCO

It is now 10:15pm, we pile all of our worldly belongings in this van…8 suitcases, a stroller, 2 car seats, 2 kids, and 4 grown adults. At 10:30pm, we point the van north and start driving. This is NOT how I thought this day would end.

February 3, 2019

We drove all night and finally arrive home at 2:30pm. I swear the van and all of us smell like the worst funk I’ve ever smelled. But it has never ever felt so good to be home. It was finally 68 degrees in my house.

My sister brought Parker home around 3pm. He is 5 pounds thinner and bald on his lower back. When he saw us, he cried like he never thought he’d see us again.

February 4, 2019

My husband is on the phone with the UPS Store first thing in the morning. The owner, Mark, tells him that the package is actually marked ‘Out for Delivery’ today and he can’t do anything until that package has been delivered. **Eye roll** An empty package is ‘Out for Delivery’…

5:08pm: I get a call from my sister.

Me: “Hey.”
My sister: “You aren’t going to believe this.”
Me: “What?”
My sister: “Your keys were delivered to my house today.”
Me: “What?”
My sister: “Your keys were placed back in your slit and ripped open envelope and taped back together. The envelope was placed in a plastic bag and hung on the door handle of my front door.”
Me: ** No words are coming out of my mouth.**

So my keys magically showed up at my sisters house.

We demanded an explanation from UPS on what happened because, of course, there was no note with this magical package. The manager of the local UPS hub that delivers to my sisters house called my husband as directed by Corporate UPS. The manager knew absolutely nothing about my keys or any lost keys at the UPS hub, which gives me a warm and tingly feeling. The manager ‘looked into the matter’ and called my husband back to tell him that my keys were found on the truck. The same truck my sister and brother-in-law searched with flashlights. If the manager didn’t even know my keys were missing or they were suppose to be looking for them, how on earth would anyone know that those keys belonged to us or that package?

The only way my keys were on that truck is if they were in the drivers pocket. I’m sorry, but my keys were stolen. I have felt that way from the beginning.

6:20pm: My 6 month old starts throwing up while we are all eating dinner.

For the entire rest of the month of February, I spend my time cleaning up vomit, diarrhea, administering medicine for a double ear infection, nebulizing a viral lung infection away, wiping & plunging massive boogers, and disinfecting my entire life, all while NOT SLEEPING, figuring out why my piece of $hit Honeywell thermostat still doesn’t work, fighting with UPS and getting my house rekeyed.

We wont be doing business with Honeywell or UPS anymore. UPS is the worst company to try to deal with. Neither the UPS Store or Corporate UPS will even so much as give us our money back for the overnight shipping cost that obviously didn’t get provided.

It was the vacation that just kept giving. Numerous times I thought we were on candid camera or the ‘Griswold Family Vacation’. Needless to say, we wont be taking a family trip for a long long time. Because remember ‘vacations’ are only ‘trips’ when you bring your kids along.


The Evolution of Santa Claus :: According To My Daughter

Christmas is such a magical time to me.

As a child, I have great memories of the entire holiday season. As an adult, the holiday season seemed to take on a different meaning. Some years I have been very into the season, and other years…well I could take or leave it honestly. As a parent of a Santa believer tho, it’s the best! Absolutely pure magic, more magical than being a child.

We believe in Santa in our house..hell I still believe in Santa today. When I was young and getting toward the age when I began having my doubts about the guy, I can remember questioning my Gram about whether she believed in Santa. Her response was so golden that it has stuck with me to this day. It’s a response I plan on telling my kids in years to come when they start questioning their beliefs.

Yes, honey…absolutely 100 % I still believe in Santa. What’s not to believe? As long as you have the magic of Santa in your heart, you’ll always be a believer.

My daughter has never ever been a big fan of the guy. When she was 3 years old, we started a yearly tradition of going to see Santa at the ‘North Pole’ (otherwise known as the Hesston Steam Museum in LaPorte, Indiana) and taking a ride on the Candy Cane Express. Our family gets about 5-8 minutes alone with Santa. It’s really a cool experience, an experience that I would of simply loved as a child. My daughter likes the tradition, but she’s still is not a big fan of the guy.

The Yearly Evolution of Santa

2015 :: 2 YEARS OLD

“Tell Santa to leave my presents at Kylee’s house (our neighbor at the time), I don’t want him to come to my house.”

We have no pictures with Santa from this year. She didn't even want to be in the same room as he was, and certainly under no circumstances was he to come to her house.

 

2016 :: 3 YEARS OLD

“It’s okay if Santa leaves my presents on the front porch, but he can’t come in the house.”

As you can see, she wouldn't even take her death stare, also known as her RBF, off of him long enough to take a picture. She had to make sure he wasn't coming any closer and he COULD NOT touch her. Although she did accept a candy cane from him, that was huge!

 

2017 :: 4 YEARS OLD

“Santa can come into the house, but he has to stay on the 1st floor. He isn’t allowed to come upstairs and go in my bedroom. He sees you when you are sleeping and he’s not going to see me.”

She is sitting across from him...willing to take the sticker that he offered to her. She told Santa about a couple toys she had been wanting 'really bad'. All of these toys were news to our ears, super enlightening for two apparently clueless parents. I guess I shouldn't be surprised tho. She acts an awful lot like my Mom, who doesn't tell anyone her $hit.

It’s a new year and a new age. I don’t know what age 5 will bring us. It’s always interesting with this little mind, she’s a thinker. I will never push her to sit on his lap. After all, the premise of Santa is quite creepy. An old overweight man, who you barely know (except for the 5 minutes you visit with him once a year), who knows an awful lot about you, who sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake…comes IN YOUR house one night. Honestly, that could be an adult nightmare.

So I’m ok with my kid being slightly skeptical of the whole thing, but I still see the magic in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she talks. And I just love this time of the year, and I will always believe in my heart.

My Son Will Wear Pink & It Begins With This…

You see that?! It’s a very pastel pink Bundle Me.

I was given this as a gift when my daughter was born. It was one of my favorite things to use with a small infant. Soooooo convenient when she was tiny and it was freezing outside. When I had my son, I tried to sell it so I could use the money to buy a different color one, but I had zero luck with that. Since putting this in his car seat, I have received more comments and looks. It has now become a principle thing (anyone who knows me knows I love to do things based on principle).

Believe it or not, pink was not always considered a ‘girl color’, a simple Google search will show plenty of examples. A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Pink being engrained in all of us as more feminine and a ‘girl color’ is a result of various celebrities in the 50’s & 60’s and most recently by marketing in the 80’s. Marketing manipulation at it’s finest.

In today’s society, I would love to say that we have broken down stereotypes and preconceived notions of gender. However, I have become aware that we, as a society, have a long a$$ way to go. And I almost succumbed to the pressure.

Top 6 Reasons Why My Son WILL Wear Pink:

6. I’m cheap & in my house the color pink is readily available.
5. He has absolutely no idea.
4. It’s a character builder and a taste of what is to come with society. He’s gonna have a lot of character.
3. He wont always get what he wants, but he’ll always have exactly what he needs…pink or not.
2. My daughter wears blue, green and black…what’s the difference?

And the biggest reason why my son will wear pink is:

1. In our house, we don’t follow ‘traditional gender roles’, defined by society, and we ain’t startin’ now.

My husband and I take equal roles in caring for our household. You’ll see him cooking, cleaning and doing all aspects of taking care of the kids. And you’ll see me cutting the grass, taking care of the landscaping and working outside of the home. We both do whatever it takes to care for everyone in the house. We are a team, where both parents are equal. My daughter and son will see a strong, independent woman as an equal, both at home and professionally. Likewise, they will see a caring, active father, who provides for them in more than just a professional sense.

Come on society, it’s 2018, we are more than a color that we choose to wear. My son will wear pink and play dress up or pretend in the kitchen. He will do whatever he choses, just like my daughter…so get over the color pink already.

 

The Gift I Didn’t Want to Receive

Welcome people! This is my first official blog post and it’s my birthday. There I said it…IT’S MY BIRTHDAY. I’m not shy about it, honestly I’m not super shy about much. Birthdays are usually my favorite, they were always really special growing up. With all the warm and fuzziness from growing up, I try hard to make sure my kids birthdays are really special. If I can’t get it right everyday of the year, at least I can attempt to get it right on the one day that really means something.

Every year as an adult, I attempt to look back on the past year. Sometimes I start a project or journey that I have been thinking about, regardless of what I do (or don’t do)…I try to look for growth. So this year, I’m going to start a blog. A blog about my life that incorporates my sense of humor and the way I look at life, about my journey as a woman, mom, wife and what I think about & encounter on a daily basis. God help us all and god help me, my thoughts on the internet…this could get bad. Right now it doesn’t look like much, but I’m just starting out and I gotta start somewhere.

Basically I was unprepared for my 36th year of life, but let me explain…

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t want? Not just a gift that you didn’t like because it was the wrong size, color or just wasn’t you. A gift that meant something was coming that you weren’t prepared for…a gift that was a great sentiment, but at the complete wrong time.

Last year, my wonderful husband gave me this as a present on my birthday. I opened it up and couldn’t even read it, I placed it back in the box and closed the lid with tears in my eyes. You see the necklace said “no longer by my side but forever in my heart” (with paw prints), but my dog was sitting at my feet COMPLETELY ALIVE…for now.

It was 10 days previous to this that we had taken Cliff to the vet and they told us that he had a mass in his bladder. A mass that nothing could be done about, they told us to just keep him comfortable and we’d know when it was time. This news was still fresh and it hurt. Cliff was my first baby, he was my baby before I had real human babies.

I always attempt to start a new birth year with a fresh start. I was in need of a new start. The past year was spent praying, wishing and hoping for another addition to our family and I had ended up with a prolonged miscarriage. A loss and experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, a life changing event. Just 10 days prior to my ‘fresh start’, I knew that sometime in my next year I would be experiencing another loss. And my thoughtful husband decided to engrave my pending loss in a pendant for me to wear around my neck, and give it to me for my birthday. I didn’t want this gift. I didn’t want to think about this and I certainly didn’t want to wear it. So I hid it in a box in a drawer. At this point in my life, if I could of gotten in the box and hid in the drawer…I would of done the same.

Fast forward a year later…

Today, on my 37th birthday, I have that same necklace…the gift that I didn’t want to receive last year…around my neck. Yes I ended up losing Cliff, and yes it hurt a lot and yes I still miss him. But today, I am wearing it proudly, because it turns out that it was actually a gift that I treasure. The whole story makes me laugh now, and the fact that I get to keep it in my back pocket and throw it at my husband when I need to prove a point…makes me smile. It was definitely the right present given to me at the wrong time, but regardless he knew what I needed…but shhh don’t tell him that.

Today as I’m wearing the gift I never wanted to receive around my neck, I received another necklace from my little family. A necklace that has 2 pendants on it with the names of my 2 kids on it, the exact gift that I spent 2 years praying for. Life is full of irony.