Wanderlustin’ Nature lovin’ Mama

Amigos, it’s been a crazy long time. I’m going to be posting some  recommendations for traveling with kids. Why? Because Knowledge is power, it takes a village, annnnd I wanna remember these things. 

Here’s a little intro/background for ya ūüĎĆ

I live for my summers.

I am fortunate to have family in two amazing states, Michigan and Vermont. So every summer, I load up my car (albeit, school bus- Yukon XL) throw my babies in and head to Michigan for a few weeks and then to the mountains of Vermont for another few weeks. Slowly, as my kids get older (7yo/5yo/2yo) I am being able to widen my scope and explore beyond the lines of “visiting family” (love u family!) 

It’s getting better every year and I find myself savoring these moments that I know  will someday soon be a distant memory. 

So in the summers, I book it, for as many weeks as I can squeeze out of a summer.

My poor husband has no idea what to do with me as a spouse and has come to the realization (for which I adore him) that I am my best when I am able to explore, spend time in nature, and have time alone with my bear cubs, away from the painful realities of common core and schedules.


I feel obligated to say that, I am eternally grateful that I am able to have these years with my babes and when the “get a job” “you are a silly housewife and have no worth” monster crepes into my psyche, I look to my summers and yell, “f that!” These years/these summers…wouldn’t trade it for a thing (most days)

Me and the kids have a rhythm that works when we travel. Maybe it’s because I’ve been “road tripping” with them since they were born, or maybe they are following my lead and just being happy for the experience. 

Now don’t get me wrong, kids are kids and can be total turds. Even through my peace and harmony travel ways, they drive me loca,daily. My kids usually save up their best moves for public places and/or whilst around other people. Lucky people/lucky me. 
But when you’re surrounded by beautiful lakes, local breweries, and a plethora of exciting adventures, who cares how many people your two year old yells “Noooo!” too, or your 5 year old son moons someone, right?! Right???

Trust me, if you want to do, it’s yours for the taking. Get out there. Find a spot on a map, and get there. Get lost! (safely)

You might regret it, and curse me, but at least you’ll be wiser for it, and hopefully have some good stories.

On the flip side, you might find beauty, your kids may learn something, and you will experience something new, together. 

Coming Soon: A Nature Lovin Guide to traveling “Up North” with Kids 

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so much for that plan

I’m being eaten alive by my children.

laugh.

go ahead.

all of you.

all you wiser parents of older kids.

all you who rolled your eyes when I was all pinterested out in the Spring.

go ahead.laugh.

Every plan this summer has been a flop.

The binders have become an emblem of torture for the kids.

The Reading Challenge…HA!

The weather has been horrendously hot, humid and stormy.

My house is trashed daily.

Car trips are filled with fighting and flying toys.

And they’re fighting. so much fighting.

We’ve had nasty colds, viruses, allergic reactions to medicines, teething, pink eye….to name a few.

I keep questioning whether we should have just skipped a few mortgage payments and just put everyone in all day camps.

This summer is definitely giving my ‘free range’ ‘let the damn kids play’ theories a run for it’s money.

The worst part.

It’s all me.

I’m the one who is angry about another kid getting sick, the oppressive humidity, the house being trashed, the over scheduled summer, my 4 and 6 yeard olds lack of interest in my perfectly organized age-appropriate binders and worksheets. (Really Anna, REALLY?!)

I’m the one who can’t find the patience.

I’m the one who has convinced herself that she’s socially awkward and has self-diagnosed herself with every mental health issue within googles reach.

I’m exhausted.

Like really really walking zombie exhausted.

and I’m being the parent that I hate.

I can feel the stress radiating through every aspect of my life.

….sigh…..

Fear not friends,¬†I’ll be OK. It’s only July 20th. I have lots of summer to turn it all around.

My favorite adventures with the kiddies are on the horizon.

My future holds cooler weather, lots of trees, lakes, rivers, and endless boundaries to roam.

I will be zen.

My kids will be healthy.

and my age-appropriate worksheets will make great campfire kindling.

Nama-motherlovin-ste.

Mommy Dating

I’ve dated a LOT of Moms.

It’s true.

I’ve picked up Moms in parks, on the subway, in doctors offices, at the gym, in locker rooms, at preschools, elementary schools, even online.

We make eye contact, assess, exchange cute banter about current¬†situation, talk about the kids….feel out the chemistry.

We exchange info, someone promises to reach out….maybe we’ll run into each other again.

Sound familiar?

(It should.)

You hangout. Things progress. You have fun. The kids aren’t as obnoxious as others you’ve seen, so that’s a plus. …. Or maybe they are, but you like her enough to let it go. It’s good to be open and accepting , right?

You hangout, you text, you laugh, and you don’t stress about the state of your house when you’re together.

Things might happen fast. You share spirits away from the home base. You call it a “Mom’s Night Out” to keep it simple, you remind yourself It’s just an excuse to get out of the house- no pressure.

You end the night with laughs and promise to do it again soon. You hope it’s not awkward the next morning at playgroup.

Congratulations, you’ve made a new Mommyfriend.

When you’re away, with regular friends, with coworkers, with family, you describe what you did over the weekend, how you had such a blast with your MommyFrrr…..

wait.

That sounds unfair, untrue, and so so annoying.

She/they are more than that! You’ve been through the ringer, they’ve seen you in good times, but more often in bad, they’ve held your hands, poured you a drink, listened to the crap (and there’s a bunch of it!)

It just can’t be. They’re more. You’re become more, together.

Since the beginning of time… Or at least, since I’ve¬†became a “Mom” ¬†I have grouped new friends, made post baby, without relation to my life before baby as a “Mommyfriend”

But that was then. In the beginning, when I was new to the game. The term worked. It helped lighten the reality of what I was really doing (dating for friends in same phase of life/realm of existence).

So here I am 6 years deep, with almost all of the many life complexities worked out (psych!)  thanks to the help of my new and not so new Mommyfriends.  The camaraderie is evolving and deepening.

You get to a point when you need to ask.

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Are you?!

Gulp.

Can we 

Be friends?

Summer with Kids Survival Plan

It’s almost here.

So many emotions.

I just, I don’t know…

It’s just such a complicated relationship.

I love…

I loathe…

For weeks I have been having bi-polar-menopausal type reactions to the onset of summer vacation. En serio.

One minute I’ll be jumping for joy that the temporary end of pick ups and drops, homework, projects, packing lunches, snacks, backpacks, and additional miscellaneous parental responsibilities are in site. No routine, no rules, lets get wild kids! The world is ours for the taking! Free range play or bust!

And then, like clockwork, the heat flashes.

Days upon days with all.the.kids.at home.with me.all.day.every.day.

No, no, I’m excited.

Really, I am.

I mean, I will be OK… it will be GREAT.

F.

Here’s my plan. Join me.

We’re in this together.

The Summer Survival Plan of Attack

1) MOMMY CAMP. My brilliant/superMom friend has been organizing a week of “Mommy Camp” for the last few summers. One Week, 5 days of easy/affordable activities for parent(s) and their littles. You don’t have to sign up, or commit. She sends the schedule for the week, there’s a point person per day/activity, you can come and go as you please. Activities include: Lake Days, Children’s Theaters, Playgrounds, Museums, Zoos. The best part(s) your kids play with the other kids, you get to catch up/meet new friends, it’s easy, and you get to explore and experience where you live! Make it happen.

2) Always Find Water. Pool, lake, spray parks. It’s hot, your hot, their hot. Water anything. Endless entertainment.

BathingSuites, Towels, Snacks, and for the really littles- the best floaty in the history of the world ¬†—>

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Stern’s Puddle Jumper (Amazon)

3) Pretend to have your Sh!# together Summer Binder.  My children will be like 3 grades ahead of your kids by the end of the summer. Oh yea, you just wait. I am going to Pinterest the summer away with educational activities, reading challenges, and science experiments.

Kids will spend 20-30 minutes “working” and “creating” in their flawless Summer Binders that I made with blood, sweat and tears for them. They will love it, me, and relish in their summer creativity…sigh…. Probably not. But I’m going to try.

Some seriously cute ideas and printables on this creative Mom’s site.

And my littles are most excited about the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenege

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4) Let other people entertain them.

I found a great list of stores that offer Kids workshops. Check it out HERE.

Museums, gyms, and indoor play areas usually offer free events and/or open play times.

I’m a big fan of local activity blogs- KidFriendlydc.com¬†and¬†http://redtri.com/

….and when all else fails, when it’s so hot your sticking to each other….

4) Go to the Movie!

$1 Kids Movies @ Regal Theaters 

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You can see documentation of my summer anxieties and excitements with oodles of educational/somewhat cute/not so annoying summer ideas on my Summer w. Kids Pinterest Board 

…and friend BeyondDomestica¬†on Facebook and Instagram!¬†Follow and share your Summer Survival Plans. Please, I beg you. We’re in this together, right, RIGHT?!

Don’t leave me alone with them!

How many weeks until school starts?!

Dah!

Just one of those days

I stayed up too late working on one of the many projects that I am convinced will solve all of the issues in my world.

I wake up to the sound of the bathtub being filled. That can’t be a good sign.

BabyDaddy walks in tells me baby is going in the tub and her whole crib is covered in $h!t and he has to go to work.

Down one adult.

Fill 2 bowls and 1 tray full of organic whole everything cereal and bananas… is this healthy enough? I survived on frosted flakes and fruity pebbles, they’ll be fine.

Friend pulls up to drop off her 12 month old, I completely forgot about that. Pull it together, you only have 3 kids, she has 4.

Little girl runs to the bus stop. I pray to the free-range-parenting-goddess that she will be ok and that the neighbors won’t call child services.

Miracle babysitter shows up to watch babies while I go “co-op”/watch 3 year olds at little boy’s¬†preschool.

My house is a mess and will without a doubt be spotless when I return, miracle babysitter is a lifesaver. How does she do it? She must think I’m a¬†mess of person. I wish I could pay her more. Guilt.

I kiss 1 of the 2 crying babies goodbye and rush to the door. 8:50, I got this.

No keys.

Frantically run around the house looking for keys.

Babies crying. Everyone is looking for the keys.

No Keys.

Call preschool. I’ll be late.

Miracle babysitter helps me look for keys. Babies crying. Whole bag of whole everything organic cereal being shaken wildly by my wild baby all over the floor. Poor miracle babysitter will have to clean that. I would have left it for days.

Call MamaFriends who live close. Get a ride to preschool. Get a ride home after preschool.

Cancel appointments scheduled for the afternoon.

Search the house over and over again.

Shake every shoe and boot.

Empty every drawer.

Clear out all the kids toys.

Ransack each room.

Go through the trash bins and the recycling with a spatula.

Dissect the couch.

No keys.

Car is locked. Look through every window. No Keys.

They might be in-between the seat and the door. I’ve done that before.

Call a locksmith.

$95 later, the creepy locksmith opens the car.

No Keys.

Creepy Locksmith shuts the door, car locks again.

I scare the creepy locksmith into opening door again. If I disappear, it’s the creepy locksmith.

….or the UPS dude, he’s odd.

Search the ENTIRE house again. No Keys.

Search the ENTIRE car in the 200 degree crazy humidity filed car. No Keys.

Little boy on his 2nd (5th) cartoon. Is this going to hurt him later in life? Once in a while is ok, right??? Is it really once in a while darlin? Is TV my parenting crutch? I suck.

Call creepy locksmith’s friend who can get new keys without towing. Quotes me $235, F!

BabyDaddy has to text the dude a pic of his license. Baby Daddy unreachable.

The Dude says if he doesn’t get license by 4, he can’t send someone out until tuesday. F!!!!!

Frantically calling BabyDaddy.

Convince the Dude I am not trying to steal the car, he says he’ll send someone.

Googling ways to DIY replace keys. I’m scrappy, i can do this on my own! You can order keys on amazon? huh.

No. be smart. trust a professional.

I can’t believe I’m about to spend $330 to replace my lost key.

Walk to get girl from bus stop.

Tell her my ordeal with the keys. Asks her if she’s seen them.

“Yea Mom, I hid them in my room from the baby.”

……….

Frantically call the dude not to send someone out.

About to lose my mind.

she’s a kid. she’s a kid. she’s a kid.

Deep breathing Mama, deep breathing.It worked out. It worked out. It worked out.

Hit the reset button.

Throw the kids into the car after a long sit down about other peoples things, the importance of communication, money, etc etc.

We’re going to the pool.

Kids don’t listen when it’s time to leave.

One kid gets grounded.

I threaten no dinner for everyone. Did I really just say that? I’m a barbarian.

In the car. With the keys. Finally. Order takeout.

Drive home filled with traffic and arguments about big sister “not having a butt” and how little brother “smells like a butt” this goes on a very long time. Where do they learn this stuff?

Keep it together.

Get to restaurant. Nowhere to park. Baby is naked in her car seat. kids in wet bathing suits.

Park car in front of many parked cars. Run in to grab food in skimpy bathing suit cover. Car running. AC On. I’m officially failing parenthood today…while looking like a trashy heifer.

I don’t get arrested for leaving kids in the running car and the kids didn’t take the car, so that’s a positive.

Finally home to my crazy mess of a house.

Inhale food.

Throw kids in quickest bath ever.

Grounded one goes to room/bed.

Little one is tucked in. I need to read more books at night. Maybe if I don’t they’ll think it’s a luxury? I need help at night. No, i just need to keep it together longer. come on, you can do it.

Decide to rock baby to sleep, that makes everything better. You can see her little face forming into the non-baby face. It is like I’ve never seen her before. I need to savor these moments more. She is so amazing and these moments are so fleeting. I lay her down peacefully, I’m about to shut the door…

The phone rings.

Baby is crying.

Grounded Kid is whining.

Little boy is calling for me.