Tag Archives: Vacation

Reasons I’m Glad Summer Is Ending

We had a great summer. Carefree days with endless possibilities ended up filled with trips to the beach and Hersheypark, dozens of books, swimming, a seventeen-mile bike ride, and lots of great food and friends. But every good thing has to come to an end. For every wonderful part about summer, plenty of frustrations kept me on edge.

1. I have to say I am ready to pack away my swimsuit and let my gut do its thing. I’ve been tired of sucking it in all summer. Now that Labor Day has passed and pools are closed, it’s time to hang loose.

2. I’m ready to not have to be so consistent with my shaving, so things might get a little hairy. Don’t worry. I don’t let it get out of control to the point that my husband thinks he’s married to a yeti.

3. Bugs will die soon. They will not die soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Mosquito bites in out-of-reach or forbidden places can be unbearable. One can only resist the urge to scratch an unfortunate boob bite for so long while standing in line at the grocery store. As I tell my kids, once you give in, you can’t stop the scratching. Really, it scares away the customers.

4. What’s the point of showering every day to then walk out the door and immediately sweat, stink up your entire self, and become stickier than a bug trap strip? During summer, you’re clean for a daily total of about five minutes.

5. My son lost his goggles this summer. He borrowed my daughter’s because she never wears them. Guess who decided she suddenly wants to wear goggles? Guess who has a second pair of perfectly fine goggles, which are pink but supposedly too tight? The kids have fussed over that one pair of goggles all summer. I am over goggles.

swim goggles

Dad caved and bought new goggles. He is a nice daddy. I am a mean mommy.

6. Humidity gives me migraines. It’s humid a lot in the south.

7. Humidity makes my hair poof up to about four times its normal size, a giant mass of frizz. I’ll be glad to regain some control over this eighth Wonder of the World.

8. I will not miss having to load up snacks, a pool bag, and the car. I won’t miss chasing the kids as I slather sunscreen on them, telling them I’m not finished yet, and still trying to rub goo all over their faces as they inch away from me and turn their heads in fifty directions. I won’t miss finally jumping into the pool only to see a black cloud close in and hear, “Thunder! Everyone out of the pool!”

Now I can settle back, look forward to cooler fall weather, and listen to my husband sing every week, “Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?” Only seventeen-plus more weeks of that, but who’s counting?

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A Fun Fourth in My North Carolina Hometown

While thousands of others hit the roads for the July 4th holiday, venturing to big city bashes or small towns for a slice of Americana, my family stayed home as we do every year and celebrated a fun hometown Fourth with friends.

colonial band, mominthemuddle.comWe kicked off the day downtown with a parade. This band of Colonial actors set the tone early on…

hula hooping, mominthemuddle.comBut plenty of funky goodness brought out the kid in all of us.

After participating in the high-five world record–breaking attempt where just under 3,000 people high-fived at the same time (we didn’t break the record), we needed to refuel and cool off.

beef burger, greensboro, nc, mominthemuddle.comThat retro hamburger joint untouched by time? This is the place. Why we have waited so long to eat here is beyond me. The fast-food style burgers don’t cost much and that means you can get in line again for another…and some milk shakes and a Cheerwine slushie because your husband’s looked soooo good.

cheerwine slushie, mominthemuddle.comHave you been introduced? Cheerwine is a Southern staple, y’all. It’s a black cherry soda, but so much more. And Beef Burger has gone and made it into a slushie. It’s good.

super balls, mominthemuddle.comDo we really need another super ball? Because I thought twenty was enough. No? Twenty-one is the magic number? OK.

neighborhood parade flag, mominthemuddle.comAfter lunch, we met up with other friends and participated in their neighborhood parade, which has been going on annually for 64 years. The kids decorated their bikes and scooters and rode the parade route as onlookers watched from shady lawns.

After hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon, and more, we ended the day with fireworks. Instead of heading to a crowded amphitheatre, we opted for a grassy, out-of-the-way area where the kids could run, burn sparklers, and experience a bit of their own freedom.

fireworks, mominthemuddle.comThat’s a family-style Fourth in our American hometown. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

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The Family Vacation: Why We Do It Every Year

Every summer my family joins my sister’s family for a week at the beach. Cousins can’t wait to see one another and do exactly the same things as last year. Dads man up to see who can find the most sea glass or the coolest treasure. (The taunting started around Christmas.) Us moms just look forward to sitting and doing nothing against the backdrop of a blue sea.

Then we arrive at the beach cottage and reality sets in. The kids run free like the wild horses on one of the islands, and we kind of still have parenting to do. And four kids somehow seems unequal to four parents who desperately want to relax.

Day 1: There was no denying when our troupe of eight arrived at the beach. As my brother-in-law put it, we looked like the Griswolds with our beach paraphernalia strapped to backs and shoulders: chairs, buckets, shovels, umbrellas, coolers, boogie boards, a skim board, towels, a football, and whatever else the kids snuck in their bags. Anyone in our vicinity who wanted peace and quiet was in for a rude awakening with all the shouting, flying sand, and obnoxious laughter.

Day 2: The expensive umbrella we bought for last year’s trip didn’t last through last year’s trip. We bought a cheap one this time. We were driving down the road our second day and fwoomp!everything on the roof had blown off. My sister’s umbrella and boogie boards landed in the middle of a five-lane road. So of course at the beach that day, my umbrella kept falling apart and hers stood strong.

Crappy beach umbrella, mominthemuddle.com

This may account for some of my sunburn.

Day 3: “Red Solo cup. Let’s fill it up. Let’s have a paaar-teeee. Let’s have a paaar-teeee.” Every year, everyone thinks it’s clever to latch onto one song so it gets stuck in everyone’s head the entire week. Four kids singing (the wrong lyrics) off-key day after day became mind numbing. When I heard it on the radio today and realized it was a real song and not some silly words the kids strung together, I nearly fell off my chair.

Day 4: Riding in a van with eight people can be lots of fun. When four of them are kids, it can also not be. At times I’m certain there were eight different conversations going on. I’m not sure how that was possible since I wasn’t part of any of them. My favorite was “Let’s copy Karen” and the kids would repeat everything I said. I hate that game. Then we played the quiet game and my husband gave the winner a quarter. Kids really aren’t so good at that. I got the quarter.

steamed crabs, mominthemuddle.com

No reason to feel crabby at the beach, right?

Day 5: My kids have never been taught proper beach bathroom etiquette. I grew up near a beach. If there weren’t bathrooms, you simply got up, waded into the ocean, and did your thing. My kids think this is disgusting. The same kids who lick their shoes and eat things from their nose. Seriously. Go in the water along with millions of marine wildlife.

Day 6: The kids and their cousins begged us to go go-karting. This activity provides no thrills for me. It’s not NASCAR. It’s not bumper cars. My kids fight over who has to ride with me because I always finish last. I don’t want to shell out $20 to drive my kids around a track so they can complain about it. I do that at home for free.

Day 7: Packing up, the kids got in some last games together. They told one another good-bye. And the adults were already making plans for next year’s trip.

We came home exhausted, filled with sand, and covered in peeling skin. A mountain of laundry sat as tall as the washing machine. The refrigerator held nothing for dinner. Normal life had returned.

But when we looked at the photos, we remembered: that first year when the kids were so small, songs from years past, giant sea glass, running down the dunes, and always getting soaked that first night on the beach. Every year the kids get older and bigger. So do the memories.

That’s why we do it.

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The Best Plans

When my husband announced he’d be off for the kids’ winter break, I had mixed feelings. The four of us together for eleven days with no real plans sounded like the perfect recipe for a bubbling disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But there are many weekends I don’t think I’ll survive, when I think we all can’t wait for Monday to come. The kids fight over who gets which vitamin at breakfast, who gets to brush their teeth first, and the grumpiness escalates from there.

I can handle them fine on my own for a week. They run off in their pajamas and play while I have a little “work” to do. But throw another adult in the mix and they suddenly need to be supervised. They need someone to play with them. This usually translates to my son begging my husband to be with him 24/7 and my husband not getting any peace.

I needed a plan. Eleven days together couldn’t possibly go well if we didn’t have a schedule of fantastic places to go. Our usual winter break of the kids and me lying around the house in our pj’s, playing games, crafting, watching movies, and playing the day by ear would drive my husband crazy, I thought. He would be bored in the house, the kids wouldn’t leave him alone, and I wouldn’t be able to stand the tension.

Or so I thought.

I never did make that plan. And we did lie around the house playing games, watching movies, reading books, and just doing whatever we wanted. The kids played with friends a couple of times. Save for one meltdown and a few minor fusses, our vacation went smoothly. We snow-tubed our way down a mountain one day, toasted in the new year together, and discussed every Star Wars character we could think of. We broke in my son’s new basketball goal, learned a new domino game, and broke household records and slept in every day. We drove dolls around in their new pink jeep, made the best chocolate-chocolate chip cookies ever, built the city of Atlantis, and made Lego starships take flight.

The night before my husband had to go back to work, I could tell something was wrong. He was sad. Since our son was a baby, that’s the longest time we’ve had at home together as a family to just be. To just enjoy each other, to have nowhere to be, and to go where the days took us.

We didn’t do anything fancy. We didn’t go far. But we defied all expectations and proved that sometimes the best times are those that are unplanned.

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