Oct 232014
 

Looking for a fun family fall treat? Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster has it all, or check out a similar amusement in your area--this truly was the perfect fall outing for our young family!

Remember that sweet place in Lancaster County where we love to hang out, Dutch Wonderland?

We are kind of totally in love with it.

So when they invited my family back to check out their Halloween Happy Hauntings, there wasn’t a whole lot of arm-twisting that had to happen to get us there. In fact, there was none.

We excitedly packed our daypack and costumes (yes, the park encourages guests to delight in the season and dress-up!), and headed off. Factor in a few temper tantrums and about 10 trips back to the house for things we forgot, and you’ll get the accurate picture of what goes down when my so-together family decides on a day out.

I like visiting Dutch Wonderland in the fall because all of the rides and attractions, excepting those with water, are still open.  Granted, my kids love the water park, but there is still loads to do on the drier side of the fun. This also allows for a cheaper admission price and a slightly less packed agenda–more time to simply explore and play always works for us!

Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings is perfect fit for young ones. The rides are still smaller-kid friendly as they always are, and the park does an excellent job of embracing the season–without being too scary. Pumpkins, costumes, and cobwebs galore adorn the park, but there are no horrifying super-spooky ghosts or goblins. This works for us–my children battle fears of the dark without any extra reasons for nightmares.

The smaller-kid friendly rides and attractions at Dutch Wonderland are a young family's dream come true! Visit next time you're in Lancaster County, PA, or check out a kid-friendly amusement park in your area!

The highlight of our visit was the Trick or Treat trail.  Crossing over the bridge into the back of the park, we found Exploration Island transformed into a Halloween wonderland! At each dinosaur exhibit, the kids were treated to some yummy candy by the very creatively costumed-employees. I won’t spoil all the fun in case you are planning to visit (Happy Hauntings is open both this weekend, 10/25-26, and next, 11/2-3), but my favorite dinosaur exhibit themes were the Dr. Seuss and the Crayola crayon box–you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a dinosaur dressed as a pink crayon…

The Trick or Treat Trail was the perfect way for some safe trick-or-treating fun with a lot at some of the coolest costumes themes around!

I can’t say how fun it was to let the kids run around in their costumes and have a blast in a family-friendly environment. I even felt sort of vindicated when the hood of my son’s knight costume started to tear a bit after some very active sliding board fun. “See!”, I plead to my husband, “They DO get enough wear out of their costumes!” I may have slight obsession with gearing my children up in adorable coordinated costume themes each year.

The coordinated costume at mention, our little knight and princess combo couldn’t have been more perfect for the royalty theme that Dutch Wonderland is known for year round.  Now if they just start letting us bring in our dog dressed as the dragon, we’ll be all set…

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings @meredithspidel

Head out to Dutch Wonderland, friends.  In a season when there are so many options for fall fun, this is the one that truly brings it all together and creates a whole autumn-full of special memories!

****Thanks to Dutch Wonderland for hosting my family for the day. All opinions expressed remain 100% my own.****

Aug 032014
 
We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit...

We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit…

Dutch Wonderland‘s tagline of “A Kingdom for Kids” couldn’t be more perfectly fitting.  Upon walking through the castle gates, you enter a land of fairytales-come-true.  There are princesses and dragons (all friendly, of course), kiddie rides galore, a water park, and magic.

I still remember going here as a kid and being wowed.  (Most specifically, I remember my grandparents taking me, sailing down a sliding board into a puddle of mud and my grandma hauling me to a store across the street to get a new outfit because I was a hot mess, but this is another story…).

I remember the mezmerizing-to-kids Dutch Wonderland signature features: the giant pretzel, the milkable cow (not real), the mini church, the birthday cake you could walk through and the gingerbread house with the teeny bakers-at-work.

A few days ago, my family got to spend the day at Dutch Wonderland, and one of my favorite parts was watching my daughter as enraptured with those gingerbread bakers as I used to be:

Sweet captivation

Sweet captivation

We visited on a gorgeous day, and I think my son would have played in the water park area for forever if we had let him.  I love Dutch Wonderland‘s water area because it is truly little-kid friendly.  It is isn’t too huge, so it’s easy to keep track of your little ones.  There are three separate areas: one for little little kids, one for water gun-shooting and other water play, and another with three not-enormous slides that are very well-manned by life-guards.  All are closely lined by lounge chairs for parents who want to grab a seat, but still keep a close eye on their kids.  In short, it’s a paradise for both kids and adults.

He was in his bliss!

He was in his bliss!

After running around the water park all morning and breaking for lunch, it was then time to hit the rest of the park.  We were all excited to visit Exploration Island with its new-for-2104 dinosaur exhibit and take a spin on the remodeled Turnpike:

What I love most about the picture is that my daughter wasn't quite tall enough to make it in--out her hands are still peeking out.

My daughter wasn’t quite tall enough to make it in, but her little hands still make an appearance ;)

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Then we were off to (not-so-scary) roller coasters, the big flume ride, bumper cars, a family boat cruise and few old-fashioned kiddie rides for good measure.

Seeing her delighted over this ride was especially sweet–the exact same first one I rode as a kid and then operated as a teen!

Let’s be honest: a day at an amusement park with kids is never a relaxing event as a parent, but Dutch Wonderland makes a big day out pretty darn easy and fun.  It is truly a child-friendly park.  All of the rides are geared for little ones.  While my husband took our son on some of the “bigger” rides that my daughter was still too small for (The Kingdom Coaster and the bumper cars), there were loads of toddler-friendly rides (and gingerbread exhibits) within easy reach to keep us amused as we waited for the guys.

All of us had fun and were thoroughly delighted with our day in the Kingdom.  The only thing I’m left wishing for? That we get to back again very soon.

*****Thank you to Dutch Wonderland for hosting our family for the day!  Our delight in the park is 100% genuine, as is our desire to return ASAP!*****

Despite my best intentions to get a cute photo of my guys playing at the park in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits "the softest, most comfortable suit Ive ever worn", according to my husband), I had to settle for capture their summer cuteness at home!

Despite my intention to snag a cute photo of my guys playing at Dutch Wonderland in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits (“the softest, most comfortable suit I’ve ever worn”, said my understated husband), I ended up capturing their summer fashionableness poolside.  They are loving these suits–and I’m loving them in them!

 

Jul 212014
 
Go ahead, Summer, throw us your best, we are suited up and ready to take it!

Go ahead, Summer, throw us your best, we are suited up and ready to take it!

I love summer.  I love swimming in the pool, walking barefoot, and the splash of freckles across my nose.  I love lazy evenings on our deck, the smell of fresh-cut grass and sleeping with the windows open.  I love the ease of trading in snowsuits for sandals and how ridiculously blue freeze pops turn my kids’ tongues.  I love watching them chase each other through the sprinkler in the sunshine and then chase fireflies in the moonlight.

I love summer so much I’ll even tolerate the not-fun things.  The infinite number of flies that always get inside our house no matter how many times I holler to shut the door, the inanely popular notion that I should expose my legs to the world at large by wearing shorts, and my endless non-sexy sweating.  For the chance to wear cute sandals, I’ll agree to repetitive toenail-painting.  And because I am a good sport, I’ll even put up with the fact that those popsicles make every single surface of my home sticky, including my children.

I won’t lie; I jumped for joy when the school year ended.  Mostly because I had spent nine months fruitlessly trying to figure out how be on time and I had to officially resign my title as The Late Mom. Darn.

I longed for staying-in mornings, relaxed visits with friends, birthday parties, a beach vacation, precious help from my Mother’s Helper, an amusement park visit and lingering hours of daylight.  It was all going to be glorious.

And you know what?  It IS glorious–all of it.  I love every minute of our summer so much.  So much that it is actually starting to hurt. It hurts in the form of countless missed naps, running from dawn to past-dusk, endless fun with friends, completely obliterated schedules and lots of cherished US-ALL-BEING-TOGETHER-ALL-THE-TIME.

I was chatting about this with a friend who is experiencing the same “exciting summer intensity”. I went home, ruminated on it, and then had my epiphany.  “It’s the PACE of summer!”, I later declared to her.  “It’s the pace.  It’s all good, it just never ends.”

Those rare few minutes we could snag in the middle of winter of settling down into our couch? I’m honestly not sure if my couch is still there.  It might have been moved.  I’ll check in September and get back to you on this.

I know I have oft-shared how I pass out from exhaustion early in the evening, but let me give a true glimpse of how our summer nights go down:

My husband (who bizarrely has extended hours in the summer) walks in the door late.

I glare at him. I know, I know; he’s a lucky guy.

Shaking it off and coming back for more…

We may or may not eat dinner.  The kids and are in a fabulous state of mixed-dress combining elements of wet bathing suits, day wear and pajamas. If I attempted to put on make-up that day earlier, it is now streaming down my face and congealed in pretty globs as an effect of repetitively chlorine-bathing my face.  I am hot; again, he is lucky.

Somehow the kids land in their beds. I then romantically look at my husband and ask if he would like to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.  We cozy in, I pick up my knitting and then…

It is morning.  I have literally no clue how I landed in my bed or what happened after the yarn was broken out.  It’s sort of like wild college days with a more suburban, middle-age vibe and less booze.

Regardless, Summer has clearly won.  It has overtaken my life and weakened all my defenses of order and routine while exhausting me beyond capacity.  But like a classy victor, it leaves its adversary respecting its methods.  And in this case, it leaves me wanting more and more of all the sweet stuff it has to offer.

Well played, Summer.  Well played…

Jun 302014
 
Source aka Fantasy Land

Source
aka Fantasy Land

It was the stuff of fantasies–a Saturday, kids at the zoo with my in-laws and my husband and I were left peacefully alone to tackle our massive to-do list.  Despite the stymieing length of the list, there was hope in the air.  We had a boatload of errands to run, sure, but we could attack them without having to dedicate 16 minutes after every stop trying to wrangle children back into their car seats.

The mood was light, giddy with the potential of completing an entire task before the sun set.  Stopping on our way for coffee to celebrate our good fortune, we were off.

Two hours into all our running, we were still cheerful as we pulled into Sam’s Club.  Upon walking through the doors, I proudly yanked my membership card from the depths of my wallet and flashed it front of the bouncer.  “Look at me! Leaving the house without kids! Getting things done on a Saturday morning!”, my head shouted.  I was majorly bummed when the sweet elderly lady didn’t seem as impressed with me as I was.

Whatevs.  This shopping trip was ON. We had driven in separate vehicles, as we thought the van might have to be left for the day so it could be suited up with new tires. Surprised to learn it would only take 45 minutes, my husband suggested we leave, cross a few more things off our list, and then return to pick up the van.

Yes! Me! I want to be organized!

Yes! Me! I want to be organized!

“But,” I ventured, wild possibility boiling inside me, “Can I stay?”

“You mean stay here while I leave? What would you do?”, he struggled to make sense of the insanity.

“I think I would shop.”

“Will you get bored in 45 minutes?”

Eyeing up some adorable new oven mitts in the corner of my eye right next to a fabulous pile of margarita-maker ball gadgets, I breathed, “No, no I don’t think I will…”

Shooing him away, I immediately realized my error of not grabbing a cart.  What a fool I’d been!

Cart the size of a small flatbed secured, I dove into my glory and BEHOLD.  The things!  Clothing!  Not all of which looked like something my grandmother would have worn in the 70s!  And the most adorable pair of flipflops and a perfect baby gift for my sister.

Speaking of my sister, I’d better check to see if she needed any road atlases. Or cucumbers.  So very many cucumbers.  Do I eat enough cucumbers? Lots of quick texts sent to her.

I’d better send my husband and his friend a pic of the beekeeping novel I found too–might be fab for them to do some light hobby-relevant reading together?

And the Lysol–Holy Cow!  What an amazing price on Clean Linen scent spray.  And such a super deal on kids’ vitamins…now, actually, I was starting to get a little ticked, feeling as though I’d been thoughtlessly left in the dark.  I called my sister, “Why have you never told me how awesome this place was?!”

“I thought you knew.”

“Well, I knew in the way I knew all things before I had kids.  You were supposed to keep me updated.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be.  Do you want more books about The Civil War?”

“I don’t have any. I don’t want any because I don’t read about it.”

“Fine. I’m stocking up on pizza in case you get hungry.”

“I don’t live with you.”

“You still might get hungry.”, Gracious, I hate it when she’s so illogical.

Blissful meandering continued, delightful treasures at every turn. This was the best Saturday morning of my life.

And then, right there before my very eyes, I saw It.  The Post-it aisle.  I think my heart actually skipped several beats.  I whipped out my phone and immediately texted my husband and my sister, horrific feelings of being foolishly unaware flooding my being, “WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME SAM’S CLUB SOLD SUCH CUTE POST-ITS?!”

Can you EVEN IMAGINE all the cute notes I could write with these?

Can you EVEN IMAGINE all the cute notes I could write with these?

Here's the thing: if you can stash your Sam's Club haul in the passenger side of a Honda Civic, you're a good woman.  A very good woman.

Here’s the thing: if you can stash your Sam’s Club haul in the passenger side of a Honda Civic, you’re a good woman. A very good woman.

My sister wrote back, “Jared, I’m so sorry.”

As I continued to shake my head in disbelief before the glorious stock of Post-Its, my husband returned from his errand run and walked up beside me.

“Jared…,” I exhaled and grabbed his arm.

“I know,” he said, “I know.”

Beautiful, beautiful Sam’s Club.

 

May 082014
 
Source Someday, my love, someday one foot will go in front of the other.

Source
Someday, my love…someday one foot will go in front of the other.

Sunday morning my husband rolled over and whispered some sweet, sweet nothings in my ear, “I just want to sit calmly with you over a cup of coffee.”

I swooned at his amorous words, “Me too.”

We then looked at each other, got up and wordlessly split duty, each wrangling one fussy child into their church clothes. Over a leisurely breakfast of repetitive screams to not spill milk, it became very apparent that we would have to table our coffee date.  Until about 2029. The estimated year that my daughter might leave for college.

This theme of tabling stuff until the kids get older has come up a lot recently.  The thing is, it didn’t occur to me until last week that I wouldn’t actually be able to physically take progressive steps until my children were older. I know, silly ignorant newbie mom…

We had some dear friends visiting one day, and much in need of a little exercise, we decided to trek down to the park.

The fact that we can walk to our local park is one of my favorite things about our house.  For years, it worked out super. I threw the kids in the stroller and off we rolled.  When they were very young we went to just spin around for fresh air.  When they were older, we crawled around the playground equipment while Mommy madly snapped pictures until someone fell and began sobbing.

The good old days…

Source But for now, this is the name of the game.

Source
But for now, this is the name of the game.

I was going to be smart this time.  The week prior I had gotten burned carrying three bikes, multiple helmets, and one scooter up a very large hill while my kids and their friend gleefully ran ahead.  The extensive bruising on my shins still hasn’t forgiven me.  I won’t be able to wear a mini dress without raising alarms of abuse until mid-summer.  Never again.

This time, Mommy was smart.  She pulled out the wagon.  Told each child they could pick one scooter and would have to walk the entire way to the park.

My daughter promptly sat down in the wagon and refused to move.

No sweat; we could still get this thing.  Undaunted, I threw her scooter in the front of the wagon and took off.  We covered at least a dozen steps and all appeared to be working out extremely well–until it occurred to me that two of the children in my care were nearly out of yelling range–in opposite directions.  I panicked a little, ran in circles herding everyone back together, and then we were back on track.

We pressed on further, threw several temper tantrums, and incurred more bruising of various type.

The sum total progress of our efforts at this point?  A half block.  I wrote a long time ago about the sheer difficulty of trying to get further than the end of my driveway with a baby and a toddler.  What I didn’t know is that several heavier-than-you-think tricycles and children who can walk later, I would be longing for those baby days.

As it stands now, I am firmly anticipating getting at least halfway to the park by July. Momentous forward progress is, for now, tabled.  In the meantime, I looked over at my friend, and said the most-true truth of motherhood, “I need a drink.”

Better make it a double?

Feb 072014
 
With love from our snow day hell to yours...

With love from our snow day hell to yours…

Lest you live in one of those more modern parts of the country where you have fancy things like power and heat, around these parts, as I write this, we are without such amenities.  I whined about the weather on Wednesday, yet things have since taken more of an Apocalypse-now turn.  Let’s just say it’s gotten rather cold and apparently, entertaining chidlren sans electronic devices or TV when you are stuck inside for days on end is a talent exclusive to pre-1950s housewives.  And I am off by more than a few decades.  Darn my lateness.

We find ourselves on the pre-flip side of this icy tundra and it is DESPERATE TIMES.  I could cry, but the tears might freeze to my face, which would make for an even uglier snottier scenario all around.  Not a good scene. 

But then I talked to my very pregnant-with-multiples friend.  She told me her husband is now flushing their toilet with clumps of snow, which is working nicely for the men in her family.  Less nicely for her.  It is quite a “chilly situation”.  I adore her and hearing this, I snorted so loudly, my soul was warmed.

And I realized something very important–maybe it was time to start looking for the funny in this whole mess.  You know, avoid those snotty frozen tears and such?

Because there is a decent amount of funny on this side of this flip…When we found out my husband’s grandfather died and then my children subsequently both developed volatile diarrhea on Day #2 of our outage?  I got a bit snappy, which made my husband irritably admonish, “I’d hate to see how you’d act if we were ever in a bad situation.” AM I MISSING SOMETHING?  DOES THIS NOT QUALIFY??

Speaking of Dr. J, when he reminded me that we have to be “judicious” about dirtying too many clothes because it may be days before we can do laundry again?  As if I would actually voluntarily take the time to change into a new outfit if I wasn’t leaving the house. Silly, silly man.

When he kindly suggested I grab a shower this morning before all the hot water totally ran out, this momma is no fool. I was onto the unspoken, “I smell, don’t I?”  He pleaded the fifth, “It’s just going to be really tough to bathe again before the power comes back on.” I have a vested interest in continuing our relationship, so I took one for the team and grabbed a shower.  And only whimpered a little when the cold air bit me on the way out.

(Also, for the record, I knew stocking up on my sea salt spray in bulk was a smart move.  Since there is no hope of hooking up with my wildly modern, electricity-powered flatiron for the foreseeable future, bring on those beachy waves curls.  You’re welcome, husband.  So glad I can still look gorg for you in the midst of our hell.)

When my foggy brain, so numbed by the cold and my ever-growing pile of impossible to-do lists, latched onto one prevailing thought, “My son’s Valentines” and refused to let go of it.  You see, he is to write 2-3/day as a preschool “homework”, and as a first time Momma, I’ll be darned if I’m screwing up the first homework assignment this family has ever had.  Fire up the oil lantern, babe, because we are having old-school family night working around the kitchen table.

When, speaking of old-school, I spent an entire 30 minutes looking around the entire family + dog piled into our bedroom with a space heater and wondered how Little House on the Prairie people ever managed to reproduce.  I mean, surely the baby boom that will hit late fall must belong to those who maintain electricity and separate sleeping quarters, right? Yet, when my husband told me he was going out to split wood, I’ll admit, I understand how the whole lumberjack appeal could encourage inventively working around certain rooming inconveniences…

When I rev up that generator because this blog post must be written.  As I punch out the words on my laptop, trying to warm my numb fingers by the fire and my kids cozy up with Mickey Mouse on the iPad, I take comfort in knowing that I clearly have my priorities straight.  Excellent.

You see, I don’t know when this situation is going to flip, but I do know that, despite my no-swear policy, I am walking around my house mantra-ing Kristen Wiig’s voice from Bridesmaids, “See you on the flipside, ___________”.  It’s kind of soothing and in-your-face-sucktastic-weather all in one shot.  Plus, there has to be a flipside, right?  Right??  As always, please just say yes.

xo from my tundra.

Feb 052014
 
Source Darn bane of my existence

Source
Darn bane of my existence

Winter is adorable.

Totally, utterly adorable in all its snow-covered death trap roads and sub-zero temps.  Listen, I would be all over taking my kids out to frolic in the snow if my fingers didn’t instantaneously go numb whenever I opened the door.  Raynaud’s Syndrome in these chilly months?  A total peach.  Not that I hate winter or anything…

The first time I thought we would all die from the peril of the icy roads, I wrote a post and felt heroic. (Honestly, I was thrilled with the opportunity to parallel myself to Maria Von Trapp–who wouldn’t be??). Yet after the fifth time in two months I found myself clinging to the steering wheel and praying for the safety of my children, I decided to regroup on my opinion.  Not that I hate winter or anything…

You see, my coat was pretty awesome.  Scoring it two years ago on an Old Navy Black Friday special for $15, I felt pretty boss in it.  I’ve rocked it out to its fullest, even when it didn’t come close to matching my attire, just because it’s warm.  But then…the zipper crapped out.  Upon realizing this glitch, I may have teared up a little.  Or a lot, but in any case, it was a sad moment in my Pennsylvanian suburbian money-saving life.

Whatever, we could go with this, right?  I could bundle up with one of those groovy new scarves I have now dedicated all waking children-sleeping hours to producing and pretend I was cozy warm.  Who cared if my coat was actually shut?  Except…

Crap! Why do they have to be so cute when they play in the snow?

Crap! Why do they have to be so cute when they play in the snow?

That sweet little bow-accented 2T coat my daughter has been sporting all winter?  THE ZIPPER CRAPPED OUT.  Nooooooooo….I could write Kohls a nasty letter and complain about the quality of the items they offer on super-discounted clearance in July (not that this is necessarily how I obtained the coat), but it seemed more mature to just whine incessantly to my husband that I HATE WINTER.

That I am done with it.

That I would prefer for it to “Please be Spring”.

Because, clearly, my opinion will make a firm difference in shifting the weather patterns.  Mmhhhh…

Friends, I think I am officially bagging these frigid temps and the delight of hauling toddlers to preschool in the midst of the icicles.  All you snow-covered mountain lovers/aka Maria Von Trapp throwbacks?  Forgive me.  Not that I hate winter or anything…

Dec 312013
 

Yeah, a whole year has gone by and 100% no change…we are DEFINITELY the crazy partying parents around these parts…

Or…not.  Can you even remember a New Year’s Eve without kids?  I vaguely recall a few things about it:

1.  There were no mad dashes to Walmart to stock up on diapers before it closed at 6pm for the holiday.  It mattered less if we ran out of Pampers because we didn’t need them.

2. My driving panic was less of the, “Ack!  A drunk driver is going to crash into my new-ish minivan!” variety and more of the “Crap!  I snagged my nylons.  Is there a place I can discretely pull over to change them without someone thinking I’m giving them a peep show?”.

3.  Staying up to see the ball drop at midnight was not an act of God.  As in, it was semi-feasible.

4. Not as many of the fake ringing-in of the New Year events at 5pm at the community center with a bunch of screaming kids.  In fact, there were none.

5. If I was going to waste a bunch of calories on grape juice, it would be alcoholic and definitely not have the “Welch’s” label on the bottle.

6.  The next day didn’t feel like the March of the Walking Dead because I had dared to stay up past 9pm.

7. If I wanted to actually leave the house for the evening I wouldn’t have had to pay off some teenager at 3x her normal rate to watch my kids after having booked her 5 mo. in advance.  I would have thrown a treat to the dog and just…walked out the door.  And I could stay out past 10pm.

8. We could drink out of actual glassware without fear of little heads breaking it.  Not that the discount plastic wine glasses aren’t super-nice.

9.  Pigs-in-a-blanket was not always the hors d’oeuvres of choice.

10. When I kissed my husband at midnight, he wasn’t always asleep.

Again, this is just a vague recollection, so I could be off on a lot of these points.  But it’s definitely possible that my husband and I won’t be blowing the top off of this New Year’s Eve.

Hey, my cozy heated mattress pad, latest issue of Star, and 9:30pm bedtime isn’t all bad, is it?  Just say yes so I don’t feel totally lame about myself.

 

Dec 112013
 
Source Perilous beauty

Source
Perilous beauty

This past Sunday we were hit with a surprise nasty little snowstorm.  I say “surprise” because while the snow was well-predicted, after so many false calls for storms the past few years, no one around here believes the weather people any more.

In any case, we were leaving church. I in our beater Honda Civic with our daughter and my husband in the minivan with our son.  My husband has to arrive at an unseemly hour for worship practice, so we drive separately.

Shortly after pulling out, I realized the roads were bad.  Very bad. I called my husband in a panic and he suggested pulling over so we could switch vehicles.  I growled at him that I was too terrified to switch lanes and hung up on him. I am a peach.

After another 10 minutes of white-knuckle driving and glancing down at my cell, totally ticked that he didn’t have the decency to call back and do something to fix the whole icy road situation, I finally picked up my phone at a light.  He had called 3 times.  I had set my phone on silent during the service. Whoopsie with some misplaced blame.

In any case, we pulled over, switched up the vehicles and proceeded on.  But this wasn’t any better.  In fact, it was worse, and since we had determined the van was the safer vehicle, I now had both children.  After repeatedly losing traction and sliding into the curb I started hysterically sobbing.  You know the kind of wailing where you can’t breathe?  Yeah, that.  I was going to kill myself and both our children.

We ended up parking the car and setting off again as a whole family, with my husband at the wheel.  You can imagine how the “sweetness” of our marriage shone in the next 2 hours (it usually takes us 20 minutes to get home from church). I made helpful suggestions, such as ” Be careful!” and “Keep a safe following distance.”  Since my husband loves input on his driving, this went over extremely well.

We slid backwards on hills and we prayed. I put my head between my knees for dramatic effect.  We fed the kids random cupcakes we had in the van for lunch and told them it was a game to see who could be quiet the longest.  In short, we were scared out of our minds.

The roads were packed because no one expected the storm to be this bad.  There was no one to call because everyone was in the same boat.  Ambulances and firetrucks kept wailing by.  IT WAS NOT GOOD.

Source Martial bliss in a defining moment

Source
Martial bliss in a defining moment

It was then that I realized we were The VonTrapps.

Clearly, someone stayed up until 11pm on Thursday night and had Maria and Georg on the brain…

But see, really, the parallels can’t be denied.  We were in a horrible situation, with only ourselves to rely on.

We had seriously considered just parking the van and going on foot. I was reminded of Georg saying as they were preparing to flee The Abbey, “But the children…”, and Maria answering, “We’ll help them.”  Yes, my husband had his Old Navy canvas shoes on, but we could walk fast, right?  I could carry our son on my back and sling my The Sak tote over my neck–no way would I leave that behind.

There were snow and hills. Granted, the way was concrete-paved and less wild territory, but it was a desperate winter situation nonetheless.

We even had a guitar, thanks to that early morning worship practice.  Granted, it was a bass guitar that had to be plugged into an amp, but it was there.  Maybe if my husband strummed loudly enough he could muffle the singing voice that caused me to flunk chorus in high school (this is a true story).

Yes, there were less nuns praying over us as we left, and no Nazis in hot pursuit, but I am pretty sure for Sunday afternoon, we were indeed The VonTrapps.

Step aside Maria and Georg, the hills most certainly are alive and Dr. J and I are taking Downingtown.

Nov 272013
 
Source A magical place indeed

Source
A magical place indeed

Previously, when I heard this tagline from Home Depot, I never gave it much thought.  I presumed it had something to do with drills and bits and building houses or some such business.  Probably making people’s dreams come true through a lot of hand-on hard manual labor.  You know, the stuff that I love. (If you didn’t catch the sarcasm there, please just give up on today, go start eating turkey and drinking beer now please–it’s probably best for everyone).

My husband adores the store.  I think he wants to live in the tool department, and honestly, with how often he’s there, it would probably be a gas save.  By the way, what is an appropriate Christmas gift for Christine who works at the Return Counter?? For someone so important in our lives, a fruitcake just won’t suffice.

In truth, I kind of like the store too.  It’s bright, smells fresh and clean, and somehow makes me feel kind of boss to be trolling the aisles and kind-of know what I looking at.  A weekend trip to The Home Depot?  Sure, count me in.

Source Kids love it.  Seeing things like this? Same thing as Disney, really...

Source
Kids love it. Seeing things like this? Same thing as Disney, really…

Then something happened to throw a bit a of wrench in the game.  We had kids.  Two of them to be exact. Two who need A LOT of attention, and lately have really been driving Mommy bat-crap crazy. It became a thing, when the first Home Depot run of the day was announced, I would suggest my husband grab one of the munchkins to take along.  I would stay home and enjoy the vacay of running herd on only one cherub.

Then one day, when it had been a very, very long time since I had taken a private dump, I asked my husband to take both of them with him.  He looked at me and said, “It’s really hard to shop with two kids.”

I just stared back at him.  Maybe there was some way to silently emblazen all the grocery store trips from hell I had endured into his brain with sheer will?  I tried.  It did not work.

He took one child. I pooped with an audience of one and we carried on.

Then this past weekend, we made a family trip of it.  I had to meet some people from my online yardsaling group there, so he would take the kids in the store until I finished peddling second-hand jeans in the parking lot and could join them.  Some people ended up being late, so I had time to just sit in the minivan and watch.  Watch all the dads with children. Screaming children. Trying to launch themselves out of the cart.

It looked genuinely hellacious for the dads.  No doubt.  But you know what I saw the most? NO MOM.  Genius women who set aside their Saturday guilt and cheerfully pushed their kiddos out the door with dad so they could clean the toilets in peace.  Or write blog posts, what-have-you.

And Home Depot?  I fell further in love because I saw at least 3 different kinds of carts that had fun seats for the kids.  Step aside, beastly grocery store car carts, this is the new generation of belting your kids into a metal cart.

Don’t get me wrong; my husband is a fantastic father and husband.  He is incredibly hands-on and does so much around here to help out.  But any future references to shopping with kids being a horror?

Yeah, I know.  DO IT ANYWAY.

Source Exactly what I was thinking, Home Depot.  Except maybe in a slightly different way...

Source
Exactly what I was thinking, Home Depot. Except maybe in a slightly different way…

And this is my hope for you, dear readers, on this elongated weekend of thanks and kicking-off the holiday season–may you find yourself with a moment.   That perfect moment of guilt-free ALONENESS while someone else manages the sippy cups, snack bags, and the impossible joy of taking little ones to pee in public bathrooms.

Somehow, eek it out.  Find it.  Grasp it.

And if it happens courtesy of Home Depot, feel free to hop in on the thank-you gift to Return Counter Christine with me.

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