Summer Vacation or Summer Purgatory (#324)

I know parents who can’t wait for summer vacation.

“No more making lunches!” a mom of three rejoiced on the last day of school a few years ago.

“We’re totally sleeping in,” said the mom with twins.

Another mom chimed in with, “No nagging about homework for 2 whole months!”

There were moms who had vacations planned, or had already purchased season passes to Disneyland. They were as giddy as their kids about the end of school.

I was never one of those moms. I dreaded summer vacations. My only child NEVER slept past 6 AM. Baby D was a restless bundle of energy (and if you let it build up it would explode as destructively as possible).

Baby D building a moat for his sand castle.

We walked the dogs to the park, ran errands, had Nerf wars, and then hit the beach or the pool before those other, luckier moms ever got up; like that old Army slogan, we did more before 9 AM then most people do all day.

Some afternoons I’d fall asleep on the floor in mid-battle between his stuffed cat army and my dog/bear army. Mostly I woke up before he jumped on me (always knees first) or snuck off to draw an ion canon from Clone Wars on the living room floor.

Mostly.

By the time Baby D was in elementary school, I was planning out as many half-day summer camps for soccer, surfing, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, or swimming as we could afford. In March.

And then came the pandemic. Last year, even the outdoor camps like Junior Lifeguards and British Soccer were canceled. Baby D’s regular soccer team didn’t hold practices until August. The best I could manage was a coach to wear out work with Baby D in private and semi-private lessons (outside with masks).

The only camp available was Mom Boot Camp, which Baby D hated. Mom Boot Camp meant that screen time was forbidden until after Baby D worked on his cleaning, laundry, cooking, dishwashing, weeding, sweeping, and dog washing skills.

Baby D slaving away in the kitchen.

This meant he also sharpened his whining and arguing skills, especially when I called him back to re-wash something properly. (Pro tip for the ruthless parent: this strategy of deterring slipshod cleaning is most effective when you interrupt games of Fortnite or Minecraft Bed Wars.)

This year, soccer camps returned, although most of them were not in LA County. I booked what I could.

When Andy announced that he would take Baby D to Hawaii to visit his mother for a whole week, I did a victory/ happy dance around the house while he checked the calendar and priced tickets.

I stopped mid-fist pump and asked, “You did check with your mom, didn’t you? Do not hit that ‘purchase’ button until you check with her.”

“She said she’s not going anywhere this summer,” Andy told me. And pushed the button.

Which meant that when Andy talked to his mother 10 days later, he learned that he’d booked flights one of the same weeks his sister was going with her entire family and her in-laws (and they were staying with Sunny for nearly a month). Sunny told Andy there simply wasn’t enough room at the inn. Unless he wanted to get a hotel room ($$$$) and rent a U-haul (since there were no rental cars available in Hawaii), Andy would have to cancel the trip.

This is how United Airlines acquired over $1,000 of our money and I lost my chance at a week by myself in the house after a year-and-a-half of Pandemic-Induced Always Togetherness.

I went for a walk until I didn’t want to murder my husband anymore.

It was a long walk.

When I returned, I told Andy that since he wasn’t going to use his vacation days for Hawaii, he could use them to take Baby D to a 3-day soccer camp 3 hours away.

“But it’ll be expensive,” Andy protested. “A hotel and eating out!”

“The hotel has free breakfasts and a kitchenette. Take a cooler of food.”

“But what am I gonna do while he’s in camp?” Andy whined.

“Sit out by the hotel pool and pretend you’re in Hawaii.”

Andy said nothing further.

Last week, the husband, the child, and the giant cooler of food drove away in the early morning hours.

The quiet was immediate.

No child demanded food or attention. No husband played music, argued on conference calls, or banged around in the kitchen.

I cuddled with the cat. I read books, blogs, and articles uninterrupted.

Usually, I made Baby D a big breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and fruit. That morning, I opted for the easiest breakfast I could think of: cereal.

Only to find that there was no milk.

I texted Andy: Next time maybe tell me when you take ALL the milk.

He texted back: But you have cream.

I called him and yelled, “Did you just MARIE ANTOINETTE me?!”

I didn’t really mind, though. Sure, I would have to go to Costco later and buy milk.

But for the moment, being alone in my tiny house felt like being in a luxurious castle.

And I was queen.

The Joys of Downhill Skiing (#271)

Wondering where I’ve been?

Working on maple sugar rugelach.

Well, first I was in the kitchen, covered in flour, making Christmas cookies. Tons of cookies, because we were meeting up with the familial horde in Utah.

Then we were on the road, and then we hit the slopes. Continue reading The Joys of Downhill Skiing (#271)

Fun Dad (#264)

I was primary caregiver to our son. This meant that I was also primary disciplinarian, Sayer of “No,” Destroyer of Fun.

It’s no picnic parenting a headstrong, contrary child. Ideally a parent can redirect a toddler to a non-destructive activity. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. Then you have to back it up with consequences. Otherwise, you’re raising a privileged monster who flouts the rule of law and does whatever the hell he wants. (You know, your basic born affluent white man.) Continue reading Fun Dad (#264)

Not Dead Yet (#229)

Much like the Monty Python plague victim…

Yeah, I know I haven’t posted in a while. Thank you for your patience while I’m off having adventures in the Northeast, which is green and quiet and soothing and far away from the Chinese mother-in-law telling me that I should be eating celery to lose weight while also insisting that I should go to dim sum daily. (No, celery is not a dish served at dim sum. You see my issue.)

The rural Northeast is also soothing because cell service and WiFi are questionable, at best. More than once I’ve hiked 2 miles to get a decent signal for a phone call. Continue reading Not Dead Yet (#229)

When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

You know those big, dysfunctional but lovable white families you used to see in television and film? They were all about siblings being super shitty to each other. Yet when one member of the family was threatened, the family closed ranks and fended off the attacker.

I grew up in a huge, white, broken, dysfunctional family.

I thought those stories were bullshit. Continue reading When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

Stocking Savior (#164)

My family collects college degrees. We have some BAs, a lot of BS, an MD, a JD, an MBA, a MSW, an MFA, and a Masters of Education. Big Brother added second MBA when he married. Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister married a second lawyer. I brought the most, though, when I added Andy — a Masters of Engineering AND a Masters in Cyber Security (so, HA, you Russian hackers, give up attacking my website already).

I think the only degree we missed was a PhD. Bummer. Continue reading Stocking Savior (#164)

London Diary: Day One (#130)

T-12 hours: I check the forecast for London:LondonForecast

So much for, “Oh, to be in England now that April’s there…” But as the Vacation Rain Goddess, I am unsurprised.

[22 hours later]

Our 777 approaches Heathrow. Then passes Heathrow, circling London and heading back east to the runway. It’s sweet that the pilots like to give incoming tourists a view…of the RAIN CLOUDS. Almost like they’re saying, “Here’s a preview! Next time, when you think British vacation, think British Virgin Islands, you bloody fool.” Continue reading London Diary: Day One (#130)

16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)

When Andy and I went to London earlier this month, I thought I was prepared.

Turns out, Dr. Who, Top Gear, Graham Norton, Inspector Lewis, and Downton Abbey may leave gaping holes in your education that authors P.D. James, Helen Simonson, and Elizabeth George cannot quite fill.

The internet doesn’t exactly do London justice, either. But for those of you who are either looking to laugh at the clueless Americans or hoping to visit London and NOT look like clueless Americans, I’ve made this handy list: Continue reading 16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)

London Calling (#128)

IMG_6884Those readers who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram know that Andy and I recently took a trip to Great Britain.

Those readers who don’t follow me on social media, well, you should. I have live action videos on everything from the Whitehall Horse Guards to Andy’s ongoing battle with the neighborhood squirrels.

Andy and I haven’t had a real vacation since our honeymoon. That was years ago. No, I’m not telling you how many, but remember, this is a memoir blog. It could be 3 years ago, it could be fifty! (It’s not fifty.) Continue reading London Calling (#128)