Friday, July 29, 2011

The nutty inmates are taking over

My kids are nuts and me and my house may not make it out of the summer in tact.

Clothes seem optional at our house during the summer.

That seems to be a source of great joy for my kids....especially the baby Wade.  Nothing says home and happiness to Wade like being naked.

Maybe it is living in a colder climate or maybe they are just nuts.

My kids also have a blast with our backyard pool---a toddler pool filled with ice cold water from the hose.  Of course the older ones find new scary, dangerous ways to make a toddler pool fun like jumping off the top of the slide.  But still it provides hours of entertainment.

Even with the toddler pool their love of violence comes out.  I found the pool flipped on its side with a stash of nuts to use with their slingshot and their famous bb gun.  
Not sure if they were waiting for me to come out and then go on the attack or what!

And on a rainy, muggy day my kids find ways to have fun half-naked.  When the base paths in our backyard get muddy the kids go running.  A mud fight ensues.  Or mud pies.  Or they play king of the base while they push each other into the mud puddles.

They always seem to make their own fun.  
Today as I was bedridden with a stomach bug those nutty kids found cans of spray paint and did their best to express themselves in our backyard. 

Luckily the little graffiti artists didn't get to the house before I came outside to check on them.

And luckily I don't get too uptight about this stuff.

I am sharing the stories of my kids being nuts to help other moms.  Help them feel better about themselves when their kids make a mess or do some things they maybe shouldn't have.  Now you can say "well at least they aren't as nuts as those Youngblood kids."  

So now what?  I feel like if school started next week my kids would feel happy and satisfied.  But there is a whole month left of summer vacation.  And my kids are getting nuttier with each day.  They are beating me down.  

Don't get me wrong, they are cute and I love them.  I just feel like the tide of summer is turning and the nutty inmates are taking over, if you know what I mean.  

August is going to be an interesting ride.  I apologize in advance to my neighbors for anything that may get broken or damaged.   And don't worry we have confiscated the spray paint cans.

When all else fails...if swimming, bike riding, tag and all the rest hasn't worn those little critters top it off we like a little Wii Just Dance 2 right before bed.  It almost always does the trick!  And it is always good for a laugh.

It's wickety wickety wack.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pretending sucks

I hate playing pretend.  There, I said it. It sucks.

I never thought I would be a mom who doesn't want to play pretend.  I also never thought I would hear myself say things like "enough rapping for tonight dear" to one of my kids.  Or think farting is funny, or watch America's Funniest Home Videos (and think it is funny too) and the list goes on.

But the anti-pretend thing surprises me.  

My daughter Lucy is the queen of pretend play.  That is absolutely all she wants to do.  As I have mentioned we are a sportsy kind of family.  A couple years ago I asked Lucy what she wanted to learn how to do--play soccer? tennis? basketball?  She replied "I want to learn to ride unicorns."  

Even though I don't want to play pretend, it doesn't necessarily mean I don't appreciate it.  I love that Lucy has an imagination the size of Texas (not a very imaginative comparison but you get the idea).  I encourage her pretend play.  I just can't do.  

I find it so much more fun to play catch in the backyard and more physical play like riding bikes, swimming, tag, kickball.  Luckily I am married to a man that isn't afraid to play pretend.  He and Lucy are pretend play buddies.  
A recent garage/yard sale Lucy dreamed up.  She quickly put her brothers to work.
And look who showed up....a customer, her dad in disguise.

Sometimes I feel left out and it bothers me.  Not enough to spend time pretending I am part of the spy ring that is trying to capture the villains and take them to the castle dungeon.  But enough to make me question my role.

I tried to talk to her about why I wanted her to play sports.  "I don't want you to feel pressure, but I want you to have choices," I told her.  I explained that I didn't feel like an athlete until I was an adult and discovered running and I felt that I had missed out on so many opportunities.  "I don't want you to miss out either sweetie," I told her.  She was moving her feet up and down on the vent in the wall to make music and wasn't listening to me at all.

Beyond frustrated I sent her away. 

I guess it surprises me how upset I feel about it.  Lucy is the only girl with three brothers.  I don't want her to be the girl that just tags along to watch her brothers play sports.  I don't want friends of her brothers to say "oh I didn't know you had a sister."

We watched a movie tonight, Secretariat.  I cried through a lot of it.  I had an ache in my heart through a lot of it.  Not because I am a horse lover.  Because the storyline of a mother going after her dreams and her identity outside of being a mom hit home.  And being an example of following your passion and showing your daughters to do the same hit home.

In a way only Disney can, the movie made me cry, cheer and want to be a better person.  Okay I got a little too into it.  But my god, when Diane Lane says "This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it" I clapped and yelled "that's right!"

My kids looked at me like I was insane.  JT got bored with the movie and left the room.  The pretend buddies were talking through parts of it while I shushed them.

When I tucked Lucy in tonight I asked her if she was happy.  She smiled up at me and said "of course" like she wouldn't know any other way to be.  Next I swear she sort of tossled my hair and gave me a look that said "you overthink things mom."  

Her insight surprises me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pole dancing at the park

I heard things today that I never thought I would hear.  At the park with my children of course.

"When I grow up I want to be a pole dancer," my daughter says.  That's right, a pole dancer.

You may wonder where the hell she got an idea like that.  Me too.

I stood there staring in disbelief, smiling at the other mothers at the playground, my isn't she cute, kids say the darnedest things smile.  The mothers smile back with a nod, I am sure thinking "geez, society, really!"

"My dear Lucy, wherever did you get an idea like that," I ask with the smile glued on my face.

"From you," she says.  

I break into my you've got to be kidding me chuckle  and turn to show that desperate smile to the other moms.  But they have gathered up their little girls and taken them to the other side of the playground, working hard not to make eye contact with me.  I am sure they are thinking "geez, what a horrible, god-awful mother, really!"

"When you let us watch that show on tv," adds Lucy.

Me?  The mom who is so strict about what my kids watch.  How could I have shown them a show with pole dancing women?  I wrack my brain trying to think how this could have happened.

Then I hear two of my sons say "Watch my pole dance."  
What the hell is going on?

"Just like that guy on America's Got Talent," says Peyton, finally clearing up where they got the pole dancing inspiration.

Yes, I thought they would get a kick out of the revamped, modernized Star Search.  Little did I know it would inspire unorthodox careers.  (This year on the show there is a contestant that does an amazing pole dance with no stripping involved of course.)

Maybe I should show them those old videos of Solid Gold, at least there is no pole dancing.

I distract my children at the park with monkey bars and trees to climb.  

This picture makes me laugh.  Looks like an album cover.  Yup I said album.

Thinking the worst is over, I relax a bit.  As I chase Wade around I hear, "that's okay everyone has nipples."  And that's right, it was one of my kids. 

I skip the smile to the other moms, gather my kids up and head home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Embracing my crazy, and my Sam Kinison

Sometimes my kids don't listen to me.  Okay a lot of times my kids don't listen me.  Okay, okay, most of the time my kids don't listen to me.

Everyday the only way my kids move off the couch is because I yell at them.  Oh, I tell them breakfast is ready in a soft, even cheery tone maybe five times.  Not one of them budges.  Maybe I get a nod from the oldest, but he stays on the couch.

Then something takes over and I turn into Sam Kinison and start screaming "BREAKFAST IS READY, COME AND GET IT!"  All the kids come running.  They aren't upset, they just come running into the kitchen to eat their breakfast.  And I am not mad either.  It is simply the only tone of my voice that registers with my children as a call of action.   We end up eating breakfast together and go about our day.

The Sam Kinison in me comes out off and on all day and night.  I feel nuts.

I wonder what they think of me.
I wonder that a lot.

My mother was never really a yeller, not that I can remember.
My mother was a storybook mom for a little kid.  She baked amazing cakes, sewed our clothes, played games, sang silly songs.  
My mother hamming it up with me and my very fashionable siblings.

She didn't work.  Her job was making sure me, my brother and my sister were happy.  And we were.  Until she went crazy.  Crazier than Sam Kinison.

My mother was and is a stereotypical southern troubled woman.  Think Vivi Walker in "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" or any woman in a Pat Conroy novel.  They all start out charming, quirky, wild, fun.  Then it goes wrong. Tragically wrong.

My mother had this fabulous quirkiness and spontaneousness about her that made everyone fall in love with her.  She would bring out her baton from her high school majorette days and twirl in the front yard until all the neighbor kids would sit in a circle around her.  She was in heaven and my siblings and I looked on with pride.  "She is our mom!" Our chins resting in our fists as we looked up at her and beamed.

If we had bad days she would take us out in the car for a drive and tell us to scream as loud as we want to let it all out.   (Maybe that is where the Sam Kinison in me got started!)

She choreagraphed the dance numbers in elementary school talent shows, she told off bullies down the street, she sang Kenny Rogers or SuperTramp at the top of her lungs with a wooden spoon, nightly.  She was the woman that wouldn't let us call Cokes "pop" because it was too "Yankee" when we moved to Michigan.  She is also the woman that I saw cry like it was a close relative when the University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant died.  She was fun, compassionate and kooky.

But a head injury, a heartbreaking divorce, mental illness and a crippling drug addiction all made her become not the mom every kid on the street wanted.

There were signs when we were little, signs that she might not be right.  But we chalked that up to her most-of-the-time loveable quirkiness.  Like when a storm came through.  As the thunder was rumbling she would look at us youngsters and say "Do you know what that sound is?  It is the devil beating his wife."  And she would laugh like she told the funniest joke.  She wasn't able to keep many long-term friends or a job either.

She would look at me when I was having fun and say, "You mark my words, you will be crying before bedtime."  And damn it she was usually right.

Her words haunt me.  I quoted her the other night to my husband.  "That crazy lady was right, I always cry when I am happy," I told him.

As I scream at my children, I wonder what they think of me.  I also wonder if I am on borrowed time.  Am I wired wrong like my mother?  Does the happy/crying thing mean I am manic depressive? If I am crazy I want to be bipolar 2 like Catherine Zeta-Jones.  It seems so much more dignified.

Of course I am scared but I am determined to not let the scariness of mental illness govern how I live, most days.  And I also vow to screw my kids up in totally different ways.  And in the meantime, I will enjoy my heritage of being a quirky, fun mom. One who needs to yell like a dead, somewhat obnoxious comic to get anyone to listen.

Not that funny, but you get the idea of Sam if you don't remember.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Let it rip

Today is my anniversary.

Eleven years.

We don't normally celebrate or buy each other presents.  But this year we must be in a good place because we both surprised each other with gifts.

The first store the kids and I went to didn't have what I was looking for, season 2 and season 3 of "Arrested Development."  I usually don't cave on buying my kids toys, but I must be tired from the vacation still or the infection from the jellyfish sting is making me weak because I caved.  I bought them each a Beyblade.  Anyone know about these toys?  My kids enjoy them immensely.  Tim, my husband, calls them expensive tops.  As the kids play with these toys they say "1-2-3, let it rip" over and over and over.  But they are happy, so I caved.

As we made our way out of the store I had another one of those aha, thankful moments.  Looking at the shopping cart full of floppy haired kids with mismatched clothes I felt more amazement.  Amazed that this is my family and it all started when Tim and I decided to get married.
Blurry picture from iphone, sorry.  But you get the idea.

So, I got Tim two dvds of Arrested Development because it is funny and he loves it.  I am kind of obsessed with the show right now.

When I got home we presented each other with the gifts.  He was excited about his and I jumped up and down about my present like it was a diamond ring.  Tim gave me alcohol.

So our big plans to celebrate our eleven years of marital bliss are: watch old tv shows and I am going to get a little bit drunk.  1-2-3 let it rip!

I dare you not to laugh at this clip.  Seriously.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vacation Me

I like myself on vacation.

I am a happier, calmer, maybe even better looking, version of myself.  I laugh more.  I say no less.

My kids like vacation me.  It is because I can totally focus on having fun and my job is about relaxing.  At home my job is about organizing the house and bills, remembering the snack, signing the kids up for stuff before the deadline, cleaning up everything all the time and making sure everyone has eaten.  And I suck at my job at home.

I like my husband better on vacation too.   Vacation Tim is a funnier, more laid back and yes, I think even better looking, version of himself.

Vacation eating is better too.  Our normal house is gluten free because my son, JT, has Celiac disease.  So that means we don't have a lot of sweets, we hardly eat out, etc.

But in the custom van, vacation Tim and vacation me went crazy with the snack cakes.  My all time favorite snack cake that I have been obsessed with my whole life is the Little Debbie Fudge Round.  My grandmother used to mail me packages filled with Fudge Rounds in college.  But since giving up gluten (which saved my son's life so we were happy to do it) it has been bye-bye Little Debbie.  So feeling confident with the kids so far back in the van, Tim and I indulged in the gluten-filled, decadent Fudge Rounds, a lot.  Seriously.

Tim and I had a lot of time to talk in the front cab of the van.  Vacation talking of course.  The kind of conversations that start with, "well, what if..." or "I know this probably won't happen but..."  Maybe I should call it vacation dreaming.  Out on the road with all the kids preoccupied by old movies on the vcr, or sleeping, anything is possible.

Honestly, it is moments like these, when all the kids are quiet and trapped, I mean buckled, in their seats that Tim and I have talked about having another baby.

On this particular trip, somewhere around the 45th hour of driving, a preview of the Olsen Twins' new Christmas movie (circa 1993) blaring from the vcr , Tim and I looked at each other, smiled and gave each other a look that said, "Holy shit we're tired and we are so done having kids."

Vacation moments, gotta love them.

Maybe it is all that vacation goodness that makes coming home so hard.

I thought a family trip to Home Depot would help.  I know I am insane.  I started crying in the door aisle.

Crying because vacation me wouldn't care that all the kids were climbing on the tractors.  Vacation me wouldn't have snapped at Tim for taking too long to get the paint. Crying because I was tired. Crying because I was losing that feeling of anything is possible. 

I came home defeated and just plain bummed out.  But life goes on.
There was laundry to do, house projects to finish, food to make and baseball games to go to.
And kids to keep happy.

But an amazing thing happened with my kids.  After spending so much time together the past week and a half, they still wanted to play together!  All day, the three big kids and even the baby played together.  Fishing in the pond, make believe in the back yard and splashing in the pool and then off to support and cheer on JT at his first baseball game.  

Watching them I smiled and thought well maybe anything is possible.

Although this still bums me out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A dream fulfilled with my posse

After traveling through 10 states over the last 11 days with 4 kids I am tired.  I might be a little slap happy.  A little nutty.  A little relieved that it went pretty smoothly, minus the jellyfish attack, which don't worry I am having an allergic reaction to.  A little sad, that it is over.  A little like a roller coaster.
This is how I spent a lot of the vacation.

That was the nickname my brother gave me last week at the beach.  It didn't surprise me, or my husband Tim.  I am a roller coaster.  I like to say that I am very sensitive to people's emotions and feelings, intuitive.  Other people call me "roller coaster."  That's cool, I guess.

My brother nicknamed my kids too.  

Peyton was called Vanilla (or "Nilla" as the kids called him).  Because according to my brother he is quiet, reserved, but smooth.  I agree.

Lucy was called Replay because of her constant retelling of well, everything.  She will replay a show she saw, a book she read or even a comment that she said a minute ago that people (or maybe just she) thought was funny.  "I was like, oh that's funny and then grandpa said yeah it was."  Replay, it fits.

JT was referred to as Crazy Eyes, because he gets a totally freaky, insane look in his eyes when he is overtired and he was overtired for half the trip.

The kids nicknamed my brother too.  The kids decided on Uncle Fun Times.  It fits.

Driving around the country in the custom van with my nicknamed posse I felt like we were on tour.  

Every stop we made was a new discovery--about our vast country and about what was important to us.

Apparently, what is important to my family is violent weapons. Must be why we don't fly.  

The first rest stop my husband and the kids loaded up on Pop Its (those gunpowder in a sack toys).  The next stop, the boys and my husband almost skipped out of the gas station.  They were packing heat with a fake BB gun (with soft gel pellets).  I swear to god, on another stop my husband bought my oldest son a pocket knife.  When I screamed at him he said "every boy should have their own pocket knife."  What? When I expressed concern to my son, Peyton said, "Look mom, it has a nail file too." Seemingly trying to prove the practicality of the purchase I guess.

Feeling a bit in the doghouse, my husband redeemed himself.  Now I have been making the drive from Michigan to Alabama my whole life.  For over 30 years I have wanted to stop at a particular mountain amusement park in Kentucky.  My parents always told me there was no time, Grandma was waiting  or that we had to get home for dad's work.  Stopping for gas I looked up at that same mountain fun park and giggled.  Tim looked my way and said "We're going up.  Kids get ready, we are going somewhere your mother has always wanted to go, Guntown Mountain."

So, Nilla, Replay and Crazy Eyes and I headed up to Guntown Mountain.

Maybe it was because it was a Monday.  Maybe it was the economy.  Maybe it was something else.  Whatever the reason, Guntown Mountain was a ghost town. 

The parking lot was empty.  Signs looked like they hadn't changed since 1968.  Rides outside the store were rusty.  The ride up the mountain was running, with no one on it.

I instantly felt like we were in a Brady Bunch episode, the one where they camp in the Grand Canyon, in a ghost town.  Except there were just a few less of us and we didn't have an Alice (so wish I had an Alice).

We walked into the general store to buy souvenirs.  No one was in the store but my family.  The old southern woman behind the counter was very sweet.  Not sure if I had been watching/listening to too much Scooby Doo in the custom van, but I expected her to give us a clue about the ghost town outside.  Instead she offered me advice about baby Wade's fit, "Sugar, we call those meltdowns."

Even though it was eerie and a bit sad, it was a dream fulfilled.

And don't worry, we found a violent toy to purchase.  A bow and arrow set for JT, which he promptly practiced using in the van on our next leg of our trip.

And hell, if you can't beat them, join them.  Right?
Yes, that is a BB gun I am shooting at a Pepsi can target.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Showing up

After all the jellyfish hullabaloo, it was time to get back in the water.

I timidly walked into the water the morning after the attack, I mean sting.  I convinced the kids it was all fine.  I convinced everyone except JT who was with me when I was stung.  Somehow his fear of the ocean turned out to be my fault and not the fault of the jellyfish.  "You made me scared," he told me.  Why is everything the mom's fault?

As we walked deeper into the waves, JT was clinging to me.  He was terrified. 

With each step I could feel a new wonder of the ocean.  Sand dollars (which I had heard were dwindling in numbers two years ago when I was in the this part of the country, but Peyton found 165 in one morning!) were everywhere, fish were jumping and Lucy pulled up a gigantic starfish.  "Isn't this amazing?" I asked everyone.  Meanwhile JT was doing what I really wanted to be doing, crying.  

The funny thing about nature is, it seems to pop out at you when you aren't really looking for it--the animals, they just show up. And when you do go on a hunt or maybe search is a better word, you can't find it.  

We hopped on a dolphin cruise in search of the gentle sweet mammals that don't sting people.  It was a very nice, calm boat ride through the ocean waters. After quite a while when the captain asked the group if they had any questions, Lucy raised her hand and asked the captain, "How come we haven't seen any dolphins yet?"

"Good question," the anxious, somewhat frustrated captain replied.

Leave it to Lucy to say what is on everyone's mind.

We did finally see some dolphins and I do like them much better than other sea creatures.  The kids had fun, but I think the grown ups enjoyed it more.

The funny thing about kids is that sometimes when you plan really big things that you think they will love, they don't.  And when you keep it simple, they show up.

This week we have gone swimming in the pool, played on the beach, done some fishing, played cards and hung out.  My kids are so happy.  And so tired.  There has been minimal tv watching and hardly any computer time.  There have been a few squabbles, but nothing like normal days.

We haven't planned big tours and amusement park rides; no character dinners or shopping.  We have kept it simple and they are showing up--and playing hard.  

Every night they have gone to bed tired.  
The good summer tired.
Vacation tired.

These kids are making memories--belly laughing with cousins, fishing with grandpa, playing barbies with their favorite uncle, jumping waves and more.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's a dangerous world out there

It is a dangerous world out there.  That is what I have discovered after two days of my dreamy beach getaway.

Our trip began with a very, very long journey by car.  I was determined to prove I could be laid back and not a control freak.  So, after Tim, my husband, packed his magic snore machine, I gave him another job. Book the hotel room for our half-way point of the drive.

Well, he booked a hotel in a city that will remain unnamed, in a state that will remain unnamed.  But suffice it to say, I will never in my lifetime stay in this city again.  

As we pulled into the hotel parking lot I felt scared.  Not a good sign.  

I started to say, okay I did say "I knew I should have made the reservation.  What were you thinking?  I am not staying here."  But then I looked at my tired family who had been so good on the road for 10 hours and said, "Oh well, it will be okay.  Let's go have fun!"

This hotel/motel smelled like stale cigarette smoke.  Our room was okay, minus the peeling, water-damaged walls and the cigarette burns in the chairs. The kids didn't care though, they just wanted to get to the pool.  Oops, no pool.  Gritting my teeth, I tell everyone "No problem, let's get McDonald's for dinner." Even though I wanted to complain again about how I would've done it differently, I knew the kids were starving. And I wasn't sure if I would have wanted to swim in this particular hotel/motel's pool.

The woman at the front desk told us McDonald's was in the mall down one block from the hotel/motel.  We packed up the umbrella stroller and headed out in search of a very rare fast food treat.  

The one block was very scenic, scary scenic.  We passed three strip clubs, two liquor stores and some very interesting characters.  Thank god it was only 6 o'clock.  And thank god the only question I got was from Lucy when she asked "what's a mall?" 

After we survived the scary hotel, we left the city and vowed never to return.

We continued on in the custom van--the kids watched movies on the vcr.  That's right, vcr. 
By the ninth hour, the kids were starting to go a little nuts.  They took off their shirts and kept saying "we can't take it anymore."  It started to look like a scene from "Lord of the Flies."

But we survived that too.
JT wore his goggles for the last 4 hours of the road trip.  

Made it to the beach and changed into our suits right away.
I ran into the ocean with the kids.  Recklessly throwing myself into the white waves.  Proving to the kids once and for all, I am the laid back fun parent.  

My kids were a bit tentative.  JT ran with me and he looked at me and asked "Are there sharks in here?"
"No, not here," I replied.  But at that moment, something pulled me down into the water.  I screamed, shrieked and yelled "Oh my god!!!!!!"  

JT screamed "Mommy!!"

I thought I was under attack from a shark, but it was one or two giant jellyfish that had wrapped tentacles around both my legs.  I managed to pry it/them loose grab JT and run for the shore.  Screaming very bad words all the way back to the beach chairs.

"Mommy, I am scared," said JT.
 "Don't be afraid, Jesus it hurts," I said smiling and crying at the same time. "Everything is okay.  The ocean is safe," I lied.

After a vinegar bath, some Motrin and a couple Benadryl I felt better.  But I also felt like the sister who gets married in the movie "Sixteen Candles" only I smelled like I just dyed Easter eggs.  I seriously can't handle any drugs.  My brother kept saying, "You are so wasted."

After I was wasted on Benadryl, it was a lot easier to lie to the kids and tell them the ocean isn't dangerous.  The kids running around the pool and jumping on top of each other didn't seem so scary either.

But let's face it, it's a dangerous world out there.  Strip clubs, shady characters, ocean monsters and more. 
Even the after dinner fun last night was throwing Pop Its at each other on the deck.  My brother summed it up, "A little gun powder in a sack equals fun for a kid,"  


So, for the rest of the week it looks like I will be popping a few Benadryl and giving up my quest to be the laid back parent.

But look what washed up last night.

Another jellyfish victim.  Poor Lucy.  Danger.

Fun movie clip (I think I am a little obsessed with 80s movies and tv.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Don't forget the snore machine

I am almost totally packed for the beach vacation.

My husband asked what he could do to help and I told him he is responsible for one thing, his snore machine.  That is what we call what he sleeps with every night.

I swear to god, the machine saved my marriage.  My poor husband has sleep apnea and now he has to sleep with a mask that, well quite frankly I don't know how it works and I don't care.  All I know is that the snore machine makes the snoring stop.  And it is like magic!

Tim, my husband, is a good sport.  This magical machine has provided some funny moments.  Sometimes when I snuggle up next to him at night I forget that it is there and I get all tangled up in the hose.  And it is a funny scene when we say good night.  Picture us like Mike and Carol Brady.  We finish chatting about how great our kids are, kiss sweetly and then turn out our lamps on either side of the bed.  But now picture Mike Brady putting on what looks like a space mask. 

But without the snore machine, the vacation would be ruined.  So while I load up 18 suitcases, sleeping bags for the kids, 22 bottles of sunscreen and so much more--my husband carefully places his magic snore machine in a bag and places it in a special reserved spot in the van.

As far as our vacation....this video sums up how I am feeling right now.

And this one sums up probably how I will be feeling 14 hours into our drive.