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National Lampoons Camping Trip

My kids, My life, Parenting

Never before have I had more of a respect for Clark W. Griswald as I did this past weekend.  I am always trying to make sure my family and I have a good time but sometimes life gets in the way.

The husband, kids and I packed up the camper/travel trailer, the SUV and our expectations for fun and headed north to Speedway, Indiana.  The racing capital of the world?  Where they race the Indy 500?  So, you’ve heard of it?  Good.  This Sunday was the first motorcycle race at the legendary speedway in almost 100 years.  Since my husband would watch ostriches race at the IMS we had to go.  Being the sport I am I looked at it as a time that the family can get away, maybe hit the zoo or Children’s Museum and have the picturesque camping adventure as seen only in the RV brochures.

PASHA!  The first two days were the closest to hell I think I have experienced.  First off, it was humid, hot and oh yea, OUR GENERATOR DOESN’T WORK.  This is not that big of a deal except it rained and rained and RAINED (thanks to hurricane Ike).  Imagine being stuck inside a hot camper where you can’t open the windows due to the rain, no TV, no microwave, and toddlers who seem as if their shoes have springs.  Not my idea of a good time.  Jim, being the dutiful husband and father headed out in the rain and bought another generator!  I hated the idea of spending the money but I have to admit, I was beyond happy when the air conditioning hit my face and I heard the theme song from “Word World.”

Second day, more rain but that’s ok.  Jim is going over to the track to watch practice and I am taking the kids and meeting a friend and her son at the Children’s Museum.  What a great day this will be.  When I arrived at the museum I turned into a parking lot that was only for school buses and handicapped vehicles.  As I am attempting to leave said parking lot a woman who obviously takes her job as security very serious flags me down.  I roll down my window and she says,

“You are going to cause a WRECK!  You went the wrong way all the way through this parking lot!”

Playing a sheepish stupid girl I say, “Oh, I’m sorry – I’m just trying to get out of here and over to the parking garage.”

Angry rent-a-cop: “Well, back up, go down THIS aisle and exit THAT exit.  Cross the street and you will find the entrance to the garage.”

Me:  “Oh, OK.”

Rent-a-cop:  “Be careful and don’t cause a wreck!”

I back my big ol’ Excursion up and try to do the right thing.  Evidently I didn’t see the curb and ran right over it as I went down “that” aisle.  I didn’t even look back at the evil woman and I felt my face flush in embarrassment.  I can only imagine I looked like Big Foot crawling over cars as my head just about hit the ceiling as I bounced around inside.  I should have seen this as a omen of things to come…..

Once inside the museum, Val and I watched the boys run around the Dynosphere looking at the skeletal remains of a T-rex.  Sam was showing Jackson all the cool cubby holes and hidden treats.  About 40 minutes into this dreamlike outing I turn to get the stroller (where Alex was) to head to the train exhibit and Jackson has disappeared.  My heart stopped.  I just knew this was not good.  That kid is the fastest thing this side of the Ohio.  I was right.  Frantic searching by both me and Val yielded nothing.  As each second went by I could feel my level of anxiety rising.  Val says, “Follow me.” and I’m try my best to do just that.  But, let me qualify this by saying Val is one of those sick people who actually run for “pleasure” so the speed at which she twisted through the Egyptian catacombs exhibit left me panting behind her and trying to just catch a glimpse of her shadow so I didn’t lose her trail.  She leads me to a security officer who has the bright idea to help me search for him.  At that moment I wanted her to call the head of security, have all the doors locked, and have every single person in that place look for the “little boy with a grey shirt that says ‘my Dad rocks.'”  But, we searched the floor AGAIN and she finally called head of security.  Now this is where my memory gets a little foggy – maybe I was in panic, shock, whatever.  But, the head of security who has an ear piece in his ear says, “There is a code Adam matching this description.  I’m with the mother.”  Silence as he listens to the other end.

Then he says, “Is your little boy wearing a grey shirt, blue jean shorts and loves race cars?”

“Yes! Where is he???”

“They are going to bring him to the concierge desk.  Follow me.”

I get there and wait, wait……head of security again is obviously listening to someone talking in his hear and then he turns to me and says, “It seems they are having a hard time getting him to come with them.  I’ll just take you to him.”  I’m confused by what all this means but at this point all I want to do is see my son, hug him, smell his sweet hair and ring his little neck!  We go up to FLOOR 4. That’s right, the little monger got 3 floors away from me!  We step off the elevator and what do I see?  Jackson sitting inside an Indy car.  It seems he wouldn’t let any of the security take him out of “his” Indy car.  When he sees me he says with the utmost excitement, “Hi Bobby, I in a racing car….a Indy Car!!!”  So proud of himself.  I scoop his butt up out of that car hug him so tight and hold back the tears then through clinched teeth I say right in his ear, “Don’t you ever run away from Mommy again or I’ll spank your butt so hard your head will spin.”

After all of this it was hard for me to relax and enjoy this wonderful museum.  It was fun though.  I just had that adrenalin rush and such a rush is hard to come down from.  Val stayed with us for about another hour.  We saw the rest of the “kid friendly” parts of the museum.  Jackson saw it all from the safe haven of the stroller, much to his chagrin.  Then Val and Sam left when it became painfully obvious it was time for Sam’s nap. LOL.  I went ahead and stayed at the museum and saw the rest of the museum..another hour or so.

The trip back to the camper was uneventful – no curbs were harmed.  No rent-a-cops angered.  Kids all safely strapped into car seats.  I did get lost for a bit but a call to Jim got us headed in the right direction.  At the camper Jim and I realize we are about out of milk and other such staples.  He heads to the grocery store while I stay back with the kids to feed them.  While I am trying to microwave their chicken nuggets the NEW generator pops a breaker.  I head outside to flip the switch.  While I’m out there our neighbor comes over and says, “I thought no one was here so I turned your generator the other way – it’s just so damn loud.”  I explain how it was an “emergency” buy.  How our “quiet” generator went out and this was just the one they had at Lowe’s.  He was nice about it but made it clear that he didn’t like the noise.  I turn, flustered and embarrassed for the 3rd time today when my hand pops off the door handle.  It is LOCKED.  Jackson was able to reach the door from him high chair and just my luck, LOCKED ME OUT.  No keys, no cell phone, no patience.  I just sit down on the step and hold my head in my hands.  You would think I would just sit there and cry but all I could do was laugh.  I hang off the hand rail and do some sort of contortionist back bend to see into the trailer.  Jackson sees me and smiles, “Hi Bobby…what cha doin?”  “Unlock the door Jackson.  UNLOCK THE DOOR!”  He fiddles with it a bit until finally, success. I am inside.  When Jim got home he and I had one hell of a fight.  I cried, he apologized and we both agreed tomorrow would be (had to be) better.

It was.


The little train that could (homeschool).

Homeschooling, Mr. Tolerable, My kids, Parenting

I took the kids to the park yesterday for a much needed, much missed playdate with our friends.  They got so filthy that the bath tub still has a black ring around it.  The sure sign of a good time in the eyes of a 2 year old little boy.

After a nice bath in dirt water, Sissy took a nap and the boy and I headed to the library.  We had John Scieszka books that needed returning.  Jackson is a bit young to “get” Scieszka’s humor but I hope when he is older he will find them as uniquely hilarious as I do.  I caught myself reading them long after Jackson lost interest and went to find a car to shove in his sister’s mouth.  I would laugh out loud and then read the portion I found exceptionally funny to Mr. Tolerable.   If you don’t know of any of his books and have 4-6 year old children, I highly recommend these books.  OK, there’s my pitch – wish I was getting paid for that.

When back from the library I read some of the “better” books Jackson picked out – I have grown so tired of reading about race cars and rocket ships I could scream.  But, in the interest of instilling a love of reading, I wade through them.  Mr. Tolerable was down in the office in the basement cleaning it out and trying to prepare himself for a life of employment.  In his de-cluttering extravaganza he brought up a world map and told me Jackson could play with it.  I taped it to the wall and told Jackson where we lived.  Jackson calls it “Merica.”  Pretty good.

I got the idea to find pictures of some of Jackson’s favorite television characters from other countries, print them, cut them out, and put double sided tape on the backside.  I let him stick The Wiggles on Australia.  He asks, “Wiggle House here?”  We put Diego and Dora in Mexico, Kai Lan in China, Arton Senna in Brazil, and a picture of Jackson and Alex in the U.S. of A.  I let him put them in the areas that I pointed to.  Explaining which country it is and what language they speak.  I didn’t get into the specifics how in Brazil’s official national language is Portuguese but that there are hundreds of dialects throughout the country.  I figure that can wait until he is 3.  That is sarcasm for those of you who did not recognize it.  The whole time I am sitting on the floor pointing at the map, I am not really thinking about the fact that I’m teaching anything…more like playing and trying to keep Jackson occupied.  Mr. T came up the stairs as we were placing Kai Lan on China and smiled and returned to his down stairs lair.

Later he came up after our little play session was over and said,

“You know you are already homeschooling right?”

I said, “What?”

“That whole map on the wall thing with the characters on it.  That is homeschooling.”

It never really occurred to me as such.  I was just being a Mother and trying to challenge Jackson, keeping him from driving me crazy and putting to use the “useless” map that his Dad was about to discard.  I sat up a little straighter and had a wave of pride sweep over me.  It also made me think, “Maybe I can do this homeschooling thing.”  I don’t know anyone who goes about the task of homeschooling without having thought it all out, researched, and weighed the pros and con.  Even still we (homeschoolers) ask ourselves, “What if I can’t do this?”

I think I can.  I think I can.

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Sometimes I’m good…sometimes, not so much.

My kids, My life, Parenting

Am I the only one that feels on some days I have this whole mothering thing figured out and on other ones I am thinking “I suck at this” ?  Today is a good day.  Kids didn’t watch “too much” television.  They ate decent breakfasts and were changed and dressed by 10am.  We went out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant and the kids were angles.  We even got praise from an older couple sitting a booth over about how well mannered our two were (never happened before!!)  Then we went to the library where I let Jackson and Alex pick out some books to read and picked up a book on CD for myself.  (Just as a side note and because I think it’s a cool idea – I am ripping that CD to my computer and then putting it on my iPod so I have that to listen to as I clean house).  The kids and the husband are all napping right now and I am about to commence at folding the baskets of CLEAN laundry I have waiting for me.  Then we are headed to the park for the “Back to School Bash” where there will be firetrucks for Jackson to climb on and in, games and fun to be had.  I’m sounding like a good Mom at this point right?

Yesterday…..(Let me qualify the following paragraph by saying we just returned from vacation and I had a ton of laundry, cleaning and dishes to do to make this house livable again – when I work I have ear buds in my ears at all times).  The kids never did get out of their pajamas and that’s what they slept in again last night.  For breakfast Jackson had pretzels and juice.  Alex, a more sensible meal of butter cookies.  They watched TV for approximately 4 hours throughout the day while I was cleaning and either on the phone or listening to podcasts.  We didn’t go outside.  We didn’t really play together much and the kids were left to fend for themselves in the way of entertainment all day long  except for a break where I let the kids finger paint.  In order for me to sweep and mop our upstairs hard wood floor I had to lock them in Jackson’s room for about 30 minutes (checking often).  What was for lunch?  Um…..Jackson took it upon to make a “sammich.”  It consisted of a hamburger bun, and well…nothing else.  Alex begged off of him.  Sippies all around though!  I then fixed hamburgers and mac ‘n’ cheese for supper but all Jackson wanted was pickles.  Alex did eat part of a hot dog.  At the end of the night I didn’t give them a bath as is customary but I figured they hadn’t DONE anything to get dirty so why bother.  (Oddly enough they both fell asleep better and faster than ever before!)

So, am I the only one who feels like a shinning star on one day and like the worse mother on the planet the next?


Seperate but equal

My kids

I always heard people say, “You love all your children the same amount” but honestly when I was pregnant with Alex I did not quite comprehend that.  How could I possibly have enough love in me to love both my children as much as I already knew I loved Jackson?  Once Alex was born I still even wondered how it would be.  Of course, I loved her the moment I laid eyes on her but that “bond” didn’t seem to form as instantaneously as I remember Jackson and my bond being.  I look back and I realize it was because of all the stress that surrounded her birth.  She came almost 7 weeks early.  The anaesthesiologist messed up my spinal block twice and did not get it “right” until the third try at placing a needing in my back.   She was whisked immediately to the nurses station and the NICU to be treated for apnea as well as keeping her body temp regulated.  I nursed Jackson not 30 minutes after he was born.  I now know how precious and vital that time we had together in the recovery room was.  It was that hour or so with him against me, staring into his eyes, smelling him, touching him, kissing him.  All of that went into play to forming an INSTANT bond.  I never got that with Alex.  I did not hold her until hours after she was born and that only lasted precious moments.  I wasn’t able to nurse her until she was 3 days old.  But, my determination did not wane.  I am so glad she was not my first or I may not have breast fed.  Pumping every two hours for 24 hours a day for 3 days is enough to send anyone over the edge. 

It is hard to admit to yourself, let alone anyone else that you do not feel bonded to your own child so I never did.  My husband knew something was up but he could not quite put his finger on it.  He thought it was post-pardom depression.  It may have been a touch of that but I think mostly, I felt like I was robbed of the “dreamy” birth I was given with Jackson. 

Fast forward to today.  I have definitely made up for lost time.  I am so in crazy love with Alex it is retarded.  Her personality is so perfect.  She gorgeous.  Her face lights up when she sees me.  I can not wait to go in her room in the mornings to get her out of her crib.  Every morning she is standing, anxiously awaiting to be rescued from her lare.  The squeal she lets out when I open that door is a sound embedded in my mind.  She is already becoming my best friend and I look forward to the times when she is older and we go out to eat and shopping together.  Of course, I am in NO HURRY for her to grow up because I am not so naive to think those times will be all good.  Teenage years, PMS, boys, heartbreak, mean girls, and body image – yuck!  On second thought, I don’t look forward to that time at all.  I’ll take my happy-go-lucky baby girl for a LOOOONG time. 

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Trip

My kids

Yesterday we went, as a family, to a place that is so important to Jim and has been his whole life.  Jim spent countless hours with his father at that very place.  Almost all of the good stories Jim has of time with his dad are centered around that place.  To this day if you get the two of them together the only thing they seem to talk about is racing. 

I watched Jim and Jackson walk hand-in-hand around the grounds.  When Jim was pointing out various things and explaining who Tony Hulmann is I realized Jackson may NOT hold the IMS as dear in his heart as Jim does.  The reason I say this is Jim and Jackson are going to have such a rich and fulfilling relationship. One that has so many levels and such depth.  Their whole life together will be full of teachable, rememberable moments together.  He will see this 2.5 mile oval as one of the MANY places his father took him and made memories at. It will hold a special place in his heart as an adult because he will remember how important it was to father.  How his Dad’s face lit up when he saw the Pagoda in the distance.  How his pace quickened once he entered the gates.  How any miniscule fact of that track was kept in his father’s head just waiting to be leashes on the masses.  This is the reason I love that place; because of how happy it makes Jim.

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When is enough enough?

My kids, My life

I spent three years, thousands of dollars, numerous hours in doctors visits, and countless tears getting the two wonderful babies I have.  I have a healthy boy and was doubly blessed only one year and 4 days later with a healthy (even if a little early) baby girl.  I should be happy with that and satisfied.  Jim and I talk often about being “done” having kids.  Logic tells me it’s the right decision.  Our house is only big enough for two kids.  Most restaurant tables and booths are made for a family of four.  All vehicles will carry two children.  When we go to amusement parks in the future and are going to ride the roller coaster, there are perfect pairs to ride together – no odd man out.  There’s no middle child to feel “left out.”  Financially, 2 children is more affordable.  I plan to home school and with Alex and Jackson being so close together I won’t have the big difference in curriculum.  I’m getting older and Jim is 10 years older than me.  See, my brain says it makes total sense to stop at the two wonderful children I have.  But there’s this other thing: heart?  spirit?  intuition? that says I MAY not be done yet.  I just don’t know.  But, I DO KNOW I am not interested in doing anything at this point to permanently sterilize either myself or Jim.  I just want the option. 

Ever since I began wanting children (which stems back to playing with baby dolls) I thought I would have two boys and a girl.  That is what my Mom and Dad had though – so maybe that’s where I get this notion.  I’ve had names picked out for my little guys for over 5 years now.  Jackson was my first.  My second boy’s name is Maxwell (Max).  I can see him as plainly as I can see Jackson in my mind’s eye.  He exists, kind of like when you have to go pick your child up from school.  You know they are there waiting for you to go get them.  It’s that strong.  But, for all the reasons in the previous paragraph I just wonder if that isn’t just a childish dream and vision. 

When will I know for sure? 

I’ve heard that when your family is complete “you know.”  So, since I don’t “know” right now maybe it isn’t?  Or maybe in a couple of years that feeling will wash over me and I will be able to relax and feel comfortable in the decision I’ve made.     

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  • Why I Write this Stuff

    My children called me Bobby when they were toddlers due to not being able to prounounce "Mommy." They are now 7 and 8 years old and I am Mommy. But my real name is Mandy. I just do this so I can keep in touch with the REAL me. Being a Bobby is a dream I thought I may never realize and I do not take it for granted. I homeschool (more specifically unschool) my two children and it's easy to lose yourself in the tasts of the day. I just want to make sure that after 19 or so years have passed,and my kids have moved out, I'm not stuck looking in the mirror and squinting in hopes of seeing Mandy again.