Posts Tagged ‘vacation’


Our Final Days on Vacation.

July 1, 2012

Yeah, I missed out posting Days 5 and 6.  I have less photos, because the days were a little less cooperative.

Day 5:  We planned another field trip day, and the weather was hot hot hot.  We had been lucky all week with temps in the low 80s, and on our first field trip day, mid 70s.  But then on Thursday, it shot up into the 90s, and we all wilted.  The hurricane in the atlantic (Debby) had caused some rip currents, so we weren’t too upset about not being on the beach.  The thing Lemon really wanted to do was to go and see the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight:

“It’s only a model.”

“Da Plane!  Da Plane!”

(As if someone else wouldn’t have come up with it if they didn’t.)

The markers indicate the first 4 successful flights.  The 4th is pretty far out into the sweltering field.  We did not visit the markers.

This was on a hill.  The hill was higher than it looked.  And it was HOT.

Monument, with a Wright Head.

Mouse, however, was miserable.  “This is all the things I hate!  Museums and airplanes!”  I gave her permission to give the Wright brothers (and the first planes) the finger, but she just glared at me. Like this:

Oscar the Mouse.

“Stop taking my picture!  I am miserable! I am sweaty! I am bored! Stop!”

So, we went to Five Guys and gorged ourselves on fries.  Then we went home, and the girls played games while David and I read books.  It was nice.

Our last day at the beach was also a bit lackluster.  It was due to be another scorcher, so we planned to get up & out earlier than usual, by 10 a.m.  (Oh, the torture that represents for a nearly-16 year old!)  But when we got to the beach, very soon after our planned time, we were greeted with a very rough sea, high winds, and pelting sand:

We went in the ocean for a bit, anyway, but it lacked the serenity of days past.  So we tried to take advantage of the wind, and fly some kites:

Lemon had some success, but Mouse’s broke.  So we tried to read for a while, but the sand was pretty sharp.

So we packed up by noon, and went and watched Brave.

Seriously, I started tearing up at the opening scene!  The opening scene!  When the mom was chasing her little girl around to tickle her, and they were so sweet.  I was all, “my girls used to be that little, and we used to chase around to tickle, and they used to giggle like that!”  And then later,  I cried more.  Then, when it ended, I sobbed.

Mouse laughed at me, but Lemon also had some heart-wrenching.  (I can’t say when, because it’s kind of a spoiler.)  But then, in perfect Lemon form, she picked on the premise afterward.  God, cartoon characters are so illogical!

Then we went home and packed, and we ate yummy foods, and we packed some more.  I found myself pretty sad about leaving.  Even though I was also ready to go.  I was sad to go.

I soothed myself by choosing next year’s house in between loads of laundry.



August 25, 2011

Seriously, that is how I am feeling.

I could not have been more excited about the pending vacation.  I couldn’t think about or talk about anything else for quite some time.

I was especially excited after last year’s mess, thanks to work schedules.

We’d carefully crafted our plans:  a night (tomorrow night) in Ocean City, Maryland, which is about 8 hours into the 12 hour drive to the Outer Banks.  We planned to leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow, and get there in the afternoon, to allow for time on the boardwalk, a swim in the pool, maybe even a dip in the ocean.  Because our hotel is steps from the ocean.

On Saturday – which is check-in day for the house we rented – we would slowly drive down Highway 12 in the Outer Banks, stop and see some of the towns on the way, check out the sand dunes that Jen suggested (kites are on the packing list!), and generally enjoy the sites until check-in time.

Then we would sit on the beach.  For 7 days.  We had menus planned (the girls kept saying “we don’t want to do anything or go anywhere, we just want to rest!”).  A couple of sights to see (because who listens to their kids’ demands?). A thousand books to read (seriously, my iTunes and Kindle spending limit was exceeded, to say the least.)

Then, the news bulletins started to come out:

Irene Slamming Bahamas; Outer Banks, Northeast Next in Line

Okay, yeah.  So that is, in fact, where we’re going.

Being as obsessive as I am, I started to monitor the reports very, very closely.  I know every change in track, every possibility.

Yesterday, they thought that the hurricane was veering east, and that the Outer Banks would be “brushed” (which would still be significant), but that it would then head into the ocean again before hitting New England.

A lot of hand-wringing ensued on my part, while WD kept saying, “oh, don’t stress, let’s just wait and see.”  I may or may not have snapped at him about the lack of control I have over my stress levels.  I don’t make a decision to stress.  It just happens.

We’d been watching the reports for some time, watching as some parts of the Outer Banks started their evacuations, but still seeing the bulletin on our rental service’s site:

If you are due to check in this weekend, keep your plans intact and monitor these reports. There may be a delay in getting down here, but we think you’ll enjoy the outstanding weather which usually follows a storm.

Pretty optimistic.

We decided, while the hurricane was veering east, to book at second night in Ocean City.  We knew there was some risk, but we also knew that if Ocean City evacuated, we’d have no loss, as we wouldn’t be charged.  We had considered (a) staying home for a while, and (b) heading inland instead.  But since the hurricane was due to hit at home, too, we thought that would add to our delay.  In a scenario where the Outer Banks are hit, they flood, the waters recede, we would get to our house as soon as allowed.  However, if we were in New England, being slammed by the hurricane, we wouldn’t want to get on the road.  So the closer we were, the better.  We didn’t really want to go somewhere inland, because, well, we think inland is boring.

So I called the hotel in Ocean City, they said, “eh, the hurricane isn’t coming here, you’ll be fine.  And we won’t evacuate unless it gets really bad.”  So I booked a second night.

One hour later, the hurricane center changed its forecasts.  The hurricane shifted west.  Ocean City was in its sights.

But fine, still, right?  So maybe they’ll make us leave that second night, we would survive the drama of moving inland for a different place to stay.

But today, the forecast is even more dire.  So much so that this is the new status:

Ocean City, Md., asks visitors to postpone trips until Irene passes

And what else?  Oh yeah, Ocean City started evacuations.  First is their student-workers, next are tourists & visitors.

So it looks like that hotel reservation is awash.

Which is maybe fine, because a production scheduled to go out tomorrow at work isn’t coming together as it should be, and I’m panicking about how I can possibly be absent tomorrow.


I think I may cry.  And I’m not a crier.





August 17, 2011

Yeah, I’ve been quiet.

The girls have been in & out, but mostly out.  And work has remained slow.  Most of my peeps are out of town visiting this island or that country, or maybe some other part of this country.  I feel listless, and a little bit pointless.

Mouse has been at camp since last weekend – she comes home this Saturday.  I’m looking forward to seeing her, but it’s a little odd in that once she gets home, we have to go to the airport to pick up not only Lemon, but also the Ex.

Having him in town, or even intersecting with my life, is never my favorite. Lemon is with him now, and already, it’s impossible to speak to him without there being some sort of crossed wire or subtle dig.  It’s just not-fun.  I say, “Lemon had more stress than anticipated about flying alone, there were tears.  She’ll love a big hug on your end.”  His response, “I always hug them when they get off the plane.”  The assumption that everything *I* say is a subtle dig bothers me, too.  Because it’s not.

This past weekend, WD and I saw three movies.  Friday night, we saw Lincoln Lawyer, in our living room.  On Saturday, I went running and then met my running partner for a shopping outing, and while we were out, we realized we were both free that night.  So we thought “movie night!” All four of us (both couples) brainstormed movie choices.  We had every movie known to man on the list (in the theater).  Independent films, documentaries, etc.  Consensus could not be reached.  Where did we end up?  Captain America.  I was entertained, nonetheless.

Then on Sunday, WD and I brought Lemon to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Two days; two big dumb movies (as we refer to them).

My vacation is in 8 days.  I think I can tread water through this funk knowing that’s around the bend.  Then, school starts and life gets back to normal.  Hopefully, once the deadness of August in New England passes, work will pick up again after Labor Day, too.

And that’s all I’ve got for now.

Off for drinks with a colleague who is also bouncing off the walls.


Preparing for the Beach, Love of Storms, etc.

August 2, 2011

My up-coming vacation has been a bit of an obsession for me.  I am having a hard time thinking about much else.  We have some challenges to overcome, like a tiny hatchback hybrid of a car.  And 4 people who need to pack not only clothes, but also beach chairs, sheets & towels. But other than space and financial limitations, the planning is nothing but sheer joy.

First up was bathing suits.  Because my weight roller coaster is (despite some loss) at a peak, not all of my suits fit in the most flattering of ways.  Sure, I can squeeze them on, but the “squoze into this suit” look is not a pretty one.  And while swimming in the Berkshires, I noticed that my one larger suit had started to wear in an embarrassing manner on the backside.  Can we say “translucent?”

I kind of didn’t mind, though.  This meant I had to go shopping.  Shopping!  A must!  Hooray!

[Because I honestly do not shop for myself unless I really must. The kids get priority every time, and then the budget ends up zapped, and I’m wearing the same clothes I was wearing in 2004.  Groan.]

First, I went to L.L. Bean.  Their suits were on sale, and they were kind of cute.  But “on sale” there meant $45-$50 (per piece, and I was looking at tankinis).  So I picked one, and thought, “well, I’ll order it, see if it fits, and exchange it if it doesn’t.”

Before I clicked on the “purchase” button, I went over to Lands End.  I didn’t like their patterns as well, but their plain suits were plain but still with some detail, and more than acceptable (especially for someone who feels larger than she should be).  And they were $15 per piece.  Or as low as $15 for a one piece.

So … I bought 4.  Two tankinis and two one pieces.  In navy, brown, black and a plum color.  I tried them on, and I like them all.  No returns going on here.

Then, I (a) wondered how we’d get all our crap to the beach from the house – there’s a path, and it’s the equivalent of 3-4 city blocks and (b) was envious of my friend’s awesome beach bag that she brought to the beach on our beach trip. So I went back to L.L. Bean (just because I rejected their bathing suits doesn’t mean I have no use for them!), and found myself a couple of these:

 I got one large (lime green) and one extra large (orange).  WD was less than thrilled – “These are bigger than the entire trunk!” But they aren’t.  And if they don’t work to pack full, we’ll just flatten them and pack on top of them, and then use them to get crap to/from the car, and then to/from the beach.

And I got a pair of sporty flats/sneaker things because my feet suck and can’t handle flip flops for long periods of time.

So I’m done with myself.  No more shopping necessary for Suzie.  And the girls are quite well-outfitted with shoes and clothes, but they may need an extra bathing suit here or there.  I’ll need to find a good sale for that, too.  Another plug for end-of-summer vacations.  Clearance sales abound! WD took advantage of some of them to get his own self some more swim trunks.  He only has one pair, and that does more than well for us in our normal lives.  But since we’ll be spending an entire week on the beach, he’s going to need more.  (An entire week on the beach!  Did I mention that I’m excited?)

We are also working to come up with a list of restaurants, grocery stores, sights, etc. So if you have any recommendations for the Outer Banks in N.C., please let me know!


Have I mentioned that I am a storm lover?  Because I love a good storm.  Thunderstorms and blizzards make me very, very happy.  I will track the weather – a good 50% of all of my bookmarks are weather-related.  It is a very good question, why didn’t I go into meteorology?  (I guess because I dislike science and math …) WD often jokes that if I choose to take on a new career during retirement, it will be as a storm-chaser.

Hurricanes are included in the storms that I love. Of course, I do not love a storm that takes lives or creates hardship.  Katrina and the aftermath is nothing to celebrate.

But I’ve lived through a few hurricanes, and they were mild-to-moderate, and they were exciting.  There were a couple that reached to my family home in Southwest Connecticut – one of them snatching our electricity away for most of a week.  And when I was living in Mobile, Alabama one summer with the Ex, a category one moved through the area.  It was nothing but awesome.  The whole city shut down in anticipation, and the Ex and I drove to the bay.  The waters had all receded, as the storm was just offshore and sucking all the energy and water into itself.  The wind was whipping around, and the sky was so-so dark.  We went back to our apartment before the storm hit, and lost power for a short time.

Another time, I was back home in Birmingham, and a storm hit the gulf coast.  Somehow, this hurricane maintained all of its energy and wind speed and charged up the state of Alabama and hit Montgomery hard, and then moved on to Birmingham.  We had considerable more damage from that hurricane in Birmingham – 215 miles inland – than we did from the one that hit us when we were in Mobile (directly on the coast).

I keep hoping we’ll get to experience a hurricane here in New England.  I wish for a category 1 or maybe a 2.

WD knows this about me.  So last night when I told him, “I can’t imagine being more excited for anything than I am for this vacation.”  He suggested that perhaps experiencing a hurricane while there would be even more exciting.

I considered it.

And decided no.  That would not be more exciting.

A storm disrupting work, school, normal every-day activity – that’s fun to me.  I like the  excitement of something so powerful that it can derail routines, and cause an out-of-the-normal blip for an entire community or region. (Again, especially if there is no loss of life or serious property damage that isn’t covered by insurance.)

But my vacation?  I’d like that left alone.  Save the storms for the work-a-day world.  Then I get a vacation AND a storm-disruption.  I don’t need both wrapped into one.



August 1, 2011

I did it.  I booked a vacation.

Does anyone remember last year?  Remember my after-the-fact affair with fate ?

And this year, planning has continued to be difficult for me.  Partly because of work*, partly because of kids **, partly because of money (directly related to the kids’ summer plans).

But the more we talked about getting away that week, the more it came clear that the entire family wanted this.  We want a chance to chill, to get away, to rest.

We really only had one week that would work with the various camps and the potential visit from their father — the week before Labor Day.  And that is likely the week that fall crew starts for Lemon.  But she – on her own – spoke to her coach and said, “it’s the only week we can go on vacation, I just did summer crew right after spring  crew, I need to miss this week.”  He said fine.

I toyed for a little while with going away for a longer weekend over Labor Day.  This would mean somewhere local – the Cape or Maine, perhaps.  But Lemon in particular pouted.  “I don’t want to!  I want to go to North Carolina, like we were going to last year.”  I think we’ve done enough quick-trips in the easier-accessible places that it doesn’t feel special to them.

And from my end – if we did a longer weekend, we also wouldn’t be able to do a house.  We’d end up in a hotel or a motel.  And up here, Labor Day is the last of the summer, school-year wise, and comes with premium pricing.

But in the south, school starts in mid August (if not before), and so the week before Labor Day is practically off season.  Price-wise, it’s somewhere between peak and off-season.

Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine for a few nights?  Probably $900.  House in the Outer Banks for a week?  $800.

Guess what we chose?

We looked at several houses.  For a while, I had my mouse hovering over a 2 bedroom home that was slightly removed from the beach. But it was very cute, and only $600.  But I hovered too long, and it was snatched up.  I started looking at a few in the $700 range, but couldn’t really pull the trigger.  WD was still away, and he’d said I could decide on my own, but I put it off until he got home.

Most of the houses in the area have wireless internet. But some do not.  As I was comparing the amenities for the various remaining options, I realized the most did not have internet.  How sad is it that I was having a hard time finding this as an okay situation?  Am I really that addicted?  I justified my issues by pointing to work.  “What if I need to log on?!”  WD wasn’t really disputing the desire for wireless.  (I mean, seriously.  He has FOUR blogs and a very active twitter account … clearly a wireless connection is not too low on his priority list.)

So we started to look closer at a house that was $800.

When I was seriously considering the $600 house, $800 seemed like a huge increase.  But once we were looking at $705 or $750, $800 seemed feasible.  Throw in an uptick in the decor/furnishings, a third bedroom so the kids don’t throttle each other, a shorter distance to the ocean, and WIRELESS, and it became a no-brainer.  I mean, look how pretty:

The living room/dining area – wide open spaces!




The view from the deck.

One of the many porches (one of them is screened in, and has a table).

And so, we are going.  We are driving down (12 hour road trip!  Yee ha!), and we will probably get a hotel/motel for a night on the way down.  We’ll explore the islands and towns thereon on our way down, and then will spend a quiet week in our pretty house mere yards away from the beach.  We’ll stroll for ice cream, maybe hit a clam shack here and there, perhaps catch a movie if we tire of the sun, or if it starts to rain.

And just when we’re starting to feel antsy – missing our friends, our cats, our own beds, we’ll load the car back up and come home in time for a flurry of back-to-school shopping, removal of Lemon’s braces, and school.

We have wanted this for a very, very long time.

Please join me in crossing fingers that a hurricane will not strike & force our evacuation!




* This year, it isn’t a trial.  It’s kind of the opposite.  Work has been slow enough that I am concerned about meeting my minimum billable hours.

** Lemon has fall crew, Mouse was trying to work out a time to see her father.


Flashbacks – vol. 1

May 25, 2011

Mouse’s birthday yesterday combined with a lull in work brought me to some huge photo-organizing and cataloging efforts. I scanned hundreds of photos, and uploaded thousands onto flickr. Today, I am going through Flickr and purging/consolidating, in the way I imagine most people do as they go. For now, though, I’m just grateful that we have as much photographic evidence as we do. Of the girls’ entire childhoods, of trips taken, of homes lived in.

I do not have a good memory. I really don’t know why, but either do my siblings. I remember snapshots here and there of every phase of my life, but not an entire narrative. So looking at these old, old photos is very rewarding. It brings it all back, in a way my brain doesn’t do on its own.

Some of the photos jut make me smile – oh, remember when Lemon used to make that face? Oh, there is Mouse’s favorite pillow – the one she loved so much, so intently, so constantly, that it literally disintegrated as the years went on. We* had to cut it down twice, and eventually removed all the stuffing, and she slept with a scrap of material from the pillow cover. She fell in love with the pillow when she was an infant, and it was finally retired when she was 6. So it had a good run.

Here she is, sitting on it when it was still full size. She was about 3 here. It was with her (in the house) at all times. (also pictured, my nephew.)

It’s fun to have a picture bring so much rushing back.

Here’s another:

That’s me. Years & years ago (we think summer of 2004, but 2003 is possible). A couple (ha ha ha) pounds thinner, and with henna in my long, hippie hair.

WD and I had been camping a good bit at this point. Some with the girls, but mostly without, while they were with the Ex. California was good for that – camping was always an option, and in such fantastic settings.

Once we got all set with car camping gear, we decided to try backpacking. We purchased a 2 man tent, a couple of backpacking sleeping bags, and set out to find a destination.

We didn’t want to go too far, because I’d never done it before. So we looked around the bay area, and settled on Angel Island. A very small island in the middle of the bay.

But, see, I remembered that. What this picture reminds me of is a whole phase of WD and my relationship.

I am sitting on that wall, sipping a Starbucks cup. That Starbucks coffee was a very hard-fought battle.

WD does not drink coffee. When we first started dating, he used to give me a very hard time about drinking coffee. At the time, I think I was drinking 2 cups a day. Morning and afternoon.

And he thought it was unhealthy and inconvenient. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think he mostly thought it was unhealthy. But that day, he was pretty pissy that I was insisting on stopping before we got on the ferry (no, Angel Island does not have a Starbucks).

Seeing this photo, and me with my coffee, I do not dwell on the pissyness. I think about how it’s changed. How that was a “thing” for us (and truly a minor thing, of course).

Probably soon after that, he got over it. Instead of being frustrated that I had to stop for coffee (or suffer the headache later), he just accounts for the time. He no longer offers caffeine as the reason for every ailment I may come across (weight gain? Give up caffeine. Insomnia? Caffeine. Trouble waking up in the morning? Caffeine. Menstrual cramps? It’s the caffeine!!). He found drinks he enjoys while I sip my coffee. He’s bought me coffee pots (2; most recently my adored Keurig).

Of course, I am sure to point out to him every. single. study. that comes out touting the benefits of coffee/caffeine.

That trip to Angel Island was awesome. Take a peek:

*At this stage of my life, “we” always refers to my sister and I.  We had both recently become single mothers, me of 2, and she of 1, and we essentially combined our households for a year or two.  I went to work, she stayed home and took care of the kids.  If Mouse got sick at school, my sister would go and pick her up.  When we needed to mend clothes or make some curtains – her job.  When we had to cut pillows down so the torn covering would actually enclose the foam stuffing – her job. Over and over again.  I think it was late 2003 or early 2004 when she moved into her own apartment (across the street), and then soon after, I returned to the East Coast.  But that partnership is definitely one of my favorite pieces of my past.



February 23, 2011

That means: I’m home!!

Not only home, but home to a clean house! The house cleaners come every other Wednesday, and that was today, and we got home to lots ‘o clean. Amazing, still (this was our third cleaning, the novelty has not worn off yet).

Our trip was a good one. It was cold, we needed hats, gloves, scarves, and multiple cups of tea and hot cocoa to keep us from veering toward miserable. We did start thinking about spending next February break on an island. A non-Manhattan island. (I vote Greece, the girls both vote Caribbean, and Writer Dude votes South Pacific …. of course. Classic us.)

No – seriously. We had this one recommendation for an italian restaurant, and we were going to go until I looked up the menu and found that it was a “family style” restaurant, and entrees were sized for 4-6 people. Thinking about getting the four of US to decide on an entrée sent us to a different restaurant.

Mouse is a vegetarian, Lemon hates pasta (I know, right?) and would gladly eat a cow at every meal, WD has very specific “moods,” and I …. well, I like cheese. And meat. So I present no problems in an Italian restaurant.

While we were there, we found a shop that had certain Moleskin products 50% off. I bought a calendar/journal. It’s a small one, 3×5, and each day has a single page. I bought it because I thought maybe with a little help of paper and a pen, I will remember more things.

Because I have the World’s Worst Memory.

I’m sure I’ll forget to write in it. Just like I forget to write here.

But the book isn’t meant to be a journal — just a record. “Today, we took the train to New York.” I don’t think I’ll get as detailed as what I bought in a grocery store, but I would like to track the bigger things.

Of course, we got home, and the first thing 14 yo Lemon did was to jump in the shower. Then she threw on sweats and a t-shirt, dragged a comb through her hair, and said, “okay! I’m leaving!”

And she was gone.

I could potentially be offended by that. That race to Get Away. But I choose not to. We just had 5 solid days together, and while there were some bumps, we by and large had a great time, and many memorable moments. So it’s ok with me if she runs out for her social fix.


I am proud of our trip. I’m proud of getting to a point where we could see shows (more than one!) and buy tickets to the top of TWO buildings without passing out that they were $20/pop.

We saw Phantom of the Opera, which was planned in advance. I was a little afraid that the show would be a bit stodgy for the girls, but it was not. The set was amazing, costumes ornate, performances stellar. The story was unfamiliar to all of us (pathetic, perhaps), and so it was very enjoyable. We had a great time. Our late dinner afterward was not as late as anticipated – we ended up at the restaurant by 10:30 instead of 11:30. We had a fantastic dinner, and a very fun time. We spent most of the time working out our ranking system for Broadway shows, as we planned a trip to the TKTS booth on Tuesday to try for a second show.

And we DID score tickets for a second show. Our first choice was Chicago, and that is what we got. We had front row seats in the mezzanine. We were a little nervous when we first sat down, because we were far enough to the left that part of the stage was obstructed. But the show is staged completely on the front part of the stage, and I don’t think we missed a thing.

What a contrast in shows. We went from Phantom with crazy-ornate sets and costumes, to a very bare bones Chicago. It was great! Loved the Bob Fosse choreography, loved the talent, and again had a great time.

Dinner wasn’t as great as the night before, but at least we didn’t starve to death. The girls ended up on the overtired side, and drove us a wee crazy on a very short cab ride home, but we all survived.

And now – we’re home with good and fun memories, full bellies, and shitloads of laundry to do. And potentially an island getaway to plan for next year.

:::: Thank you for reading my rambles ::::