Last Vacation Post

Brad was tapping on the windows to wake everyone up way too early this morning. I vaguely remember peering through sleep blurred eyes out the window, the sun was barely up. I also barely remember him poking my shoulder, “Do you want eggs for breakfast?” I do remember hearing the kids clamber down from the two stories of bunk beds over top of me. Little feet and big feet coming down the ladders and padding outside onto the porch. Finally some peace and quiet and I rolled back over and buried my head under the blankets. It must not have lasted long because it seemed I just got back to sleep and then I heard Mallie giggling and Elsie screaming. Yep, she is taking her pacifier again. “I’m up. I’m up. I’m coming girls.” Let the day begin.

Breakfast is a blur of cups and paper plates. “Don’t forget to shut the cooler,” and “Did you brush your teeth?” Oh, and I can’t forget my favorite, “Quit leaving your clothes all over the floor!” The cabin is small, but manageable. It seems extra small with a playpen in the middle for the babies, but we do have a small walkway around it. It is hard when there are too many people in here up and around, we are bumping into each other like bumper cars and trying to get in and out of the door, with me reminding, “Hurry up and shut the door! I don’t want all the flies getting in!” The flies are horrible here, especially on our porch. I don’t know why. Maybe because of all the towels hanging on the front porch to dry. Maybe because of the smell of baby formula that must emit from the girls. Maybe because all of the other campers left and so they flew over here. They are bad. And they are biting today. It must be going to rain.

“So what are the plans today?” I ask Brad. If it were up to me, we would be going home. I am camped out. It is getting way too hot and the babies and I are mostly in the cabin because they can’t take the heat.  I would go home with the little ones, but we need both cars to fit everyone and everything. He doesn’t have any plans for the day. Not good. The kids have already ran around and played well together, now they are arguing over silly things and teasing each other. I’m getting cabin fever and need some peace.

“Why don’t you take the boys to the caves or go get fireworks? I know you had that planned for tomorrow, but if you do it today then we can head home at a decent time tomorrow and have more time to unpack,” I mentioned to Brad. “I will stay here with the girls.” Man, I come up with brilliant ideas. This will give me a little thinking time. A little quiet time. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the family time, but we are on day 4. I am getting tired of the close quarters, and like most families the end of vacation can be the most trying because everyone is getting tired (well, at least the adults…at least I am).

So now I am sitting here in the quiet cabin eating a Lunchable, everything but the meat – I think it is gross. I set the window air conditioner to 64 degrees, as low as it will go, and it is starting to feel like winter in here. The girls are bundled up and sleeping in their playpen. I am finally writing. It feels good.


I did alot of writing that day, most of which is on this blog. It was a great vacation. Lots of great memories. I will share some of my favorite pics and this will be my last vacation post. Then it will be back to the everyday…there is something to be said about routine. It can be nice, just like vacation get aways.

Thanks again for reading.





Butterflies and Fly Puke

A yellow monarch dances under the willow trees skinny swaying arms. There is a light breeze and I see a fish jump in the calm lake, almost as if it is a rock skipping in the water. It is Monday; all the other campers are gone, except for a few empty RV’s next to us and one other family further up the road. I sit in my green lawn chair, drinking my Mt. Chill (don’t you just love the names of generic pop?), and take deep cleansing breaths of nature. I’m really glad the wind is blowing the other direction; otherwise you smell the port-a-potties that are three cabins down. They have their advantages and disadvantages of being so close.

A cardinal, bright as an apple with a shiny beak, lands under the tree less than 3 feet away from me. I sit still and watch him hop on his strong bird legs. He cocks his head looking at me, as if he is asking me where everyone went. He jumps higher on the tent pole like an acrobat, scaling the side of the tent sideways. Man, I wish I had my camera. Then I remind myself just to enjoy the moment. I take a picture in my head.

It is almost perfect; the scenery, the weather, the quiet peacefulness. Then a fly buzzes my ear. I can count at least 20 of them on the porch rail, and that is only the ones standing still for a brief second to include them in the head count. I once heard that a fly pukes every time it lands. I imagine all the fly puke everywhere. If this is true, then our entire cabin and everything around it is saturated in fly puke. Oh nature, how I love you.

I am only a part-time nature lover. I can take it in short bursts.

Where do the flies go at night? Where are the mosquitoes during the day? And why do they feed on us? I have decided this is nature’s irony.

Zombie Bats and Flying Fish

The cool shower sprinkled over my sun burnt shoulders and down my back. I washed all of the day’s dirt and grime off of me; sunscreen, sweat, bug spray, sand, and lake water. It’s times like these when you really appreciate a shower, even if you have to pay twenty-five cents for the 6 minutes of heaven.

I gathered my belonging and loaded Collin in the stroller. It wasn’t dark when we got to the shower house, but it was pitch black as we headed out the door. I waited a second for my eyes to adjust. The moon was bright and white as a ghost, hanging in the sky three-quarters full and peeking at us through trees. “Okay, Collin. Here we go. I wish your stroller had headlights because Mommy forgot a flashlight.”

It’s times like these when I wish my imagination was not so vivid. I can make a story out of thin air and conjecture ghosts and spirits from the trees. The bugs were chirping and the frogs were honking. “Uh, oh,” Collin said. “It’s just the bugs, baby,” I told him, even though I have no clue what he was talking about.

As we descended down the dark hill I tried to make out any potholes or large rocks. Of course, I hit one. Good things strollers have seatbelts; otherwise Collin would have been sailing through the air. “Sorry, baby.”

“If I stick to the right hand side, Collin, I think we can stay on the road. It’s easier to see here. You keep your eye out for raccoons or skunks. We especially don’t want to run into the skunks.” Not that I have seen any, I just like to talk.

The lake was to our left and an owl hooted from somewhere up above. My mind started to wander. What if something happened to the water supply and it drove everyone mad? What if it started to melt the skin from their bodies and they turned into zombies? What if they started appearing out from the RV’s, coming to attack us? Could I get this stroller to roll like it had a Hemi?

What if the animals turned into zombie dogs, zombie raccoons, and there were zombie bats tearing down from trees trying to bite my ears? Fur and fins melting from their bodies, leaving a gooey trail behind them.

What if all of the scary movie villains came together to camp, and decided it was this day, at this campground, that they would hold their pow-wow? Would Freddy, Jason, Michael, and the long face guy from Scream come chasing us from one of the tents? I can just picture Freddy roasting marshmallows on his razor fingers and Jason doing front flips off the dock in the lake. The long faced guy from Scream hiding out in the port-a-potties because he ate too many hotdogs.

We were approaching the arcade. The beach sat behind it, lonely and moaning. I looked out at the water; I looked for a Pine Lakes Loch Ness Monster.  “Half way home, Collin.” I checked to see if he was asleep yet. But no, he sat there like a baby zombie, crystal blue eyes staring straight ahead. Music seeped through the screens of the arcade. I sure hope no zombie kids come running out of the arcade to chew on my ankles. Not to worry, we made it past.

It really wasn’t a scary walk. I knew my way back, it wasn’t that long of a walk. But the humidity clouded my brain and the fresh air invited it to wander through the crazy mazes of make-believe tales. I chuckled to myself; if I can do anything well, it is definitely entertaining myself. I probably should not have drunk that last Mt. Chill, the caffeine was buzzing me along with the mosquitoes and flies.

What if the mosquitoes had some sort of virus, and everyone they bit infected them? The virus would make them crave blood, also. If you were bit, your nose would grow longer and needle like, so you could puncture the skin of your victims for your nightly snack. Forget the s’mores. And the only way to kill your fellow mosquito vampire campers was to smash them really hard, like you do a mosquito…and it would leave a bloody mark on your skin.  

What if someone dumped something into the water and the fish started to fly and the frogs were like Michael Phelps out of water? Slimy flippers and fins smacking your face and getting tangled in your hair. Piranha like teeth dangling from your ear, like a new fashion statement.

It seems silly now, but I assure you it wasn’t when we were walking home in the dark. And no, I did not tell Collin my scary stories…I will wait until he is older. 😉

We rounded the corner and I could see our campfire. I could hear Bradley’s silly laugh cackling along with the crackling fire.

Sleep tight.


Beach Days

Our feet made prints in the thick coarse sand as we made our way down to the water’s edge. It felt like bath water. You had to swim around to find a cold spot, which would only last a minute. But there is nothing like plunging your head under the water on a hot and steamy day.

Bradley and Cedrik liked to go to the edge of the sand and run full blast into the water, the sand and water spraying like they were doing burn outs at top speed. I imagine this is why I had to spray Bradley off real good with the hose after we went swimming, he had sand everywhere, which I would imagine would be quite uncomfortable in the long run.

Collin waddled and waded into the water, following his brothers. He had no fear. He looked so cute with his big life jacket, pale spiky hair, and the bridge of his nose getting a little pink. My little swimmer baby. I really had to keep a hold of him, otherwise he ended up floating upside down with his life jacket. I’m sure he swallowed a little of that water, probably as much as he splashed and made a racket. He loved the water though.

Cedrik also entertained us with flips and cartwheels off the dock (the deep end, which I think was the only cold part of the lake), his long skinny limbs flying in every direction.

Crazy kids. They are so much fun.


Dishsoap & Dragonflies

Day 3

I went to our outside watering hole to wash my hands. The translucent wing of a young dragonfly was stuck like tape to the orange bottle of dishwashing soap. You could see the veins of the delicate wings sparkle in the morning sunlight, like a freshly spun spiderweb gleaming in the light. His thread thin legs clung to the wooden pole, as if trying to support himself and break free. I imagined it probably felt like hanging there from your hair, your scalp in pain, follicles screaming to break free, giant hands coming at you, please don’t smash me, please don’t hurt me! I meant to help him but my hands were wet and I went to dry them off, for fear I might further damage his wings, and got busy and forgot. It was like that all day, same story – just a different interruption. The dragonfly was still alive and hanging there in the evening, as the sun was setting. I finally set him free.


Are We There Yet?

Day 1:  July 8, 2011

The bachelor buttons dotted the edge of the highway and the Queen Anne’s Lace lazily swayed in the wind, waving her good byes as we sped past on Highway 67. I followed the boys in the Intrepid and the girls and I were in my car, the back-end piled to the ceiling with camping gear, baby bouncers, and walkers, and just about everything else. The twins were fast asleep and the morning’s fresh air and solitude engulfed me as I pushed play to listen to Neil Gaiman tell me a story (I love audio books). The day couldn’t be more perfect, sunshine and clovers on an old highway and my favorite author reading to me.

The peacefulness only lasted about half way there. Mallie started crying, Elsie started screaming. There was nowhere to pull over. I called the boys on the cell phone, “Pull over when we get a chance. The babies are hungry.” It seemed to be an eternity before there was a spot to pull over. And just to let you know, it feels like torture having to hear my babies cry and there is nothing I can do about it for the moment. I talked and tried to soothe them, “Don’t worry baby girls. We’re almost there. Mommy make you a nice big bottle. It’s alright. Shhh…” and so on. It didn’t phase them, but it made me feel a little better. And man, I am one of the fastest bottle makers in the midwest. Brad said, “Hurry up, the train is coming,” and I mixed those bottles so fast and we beat the train. After 20 minutes of baby tears, I just wanted to get there. The scenery changed from farms to forests and we sped along the highway at 55 mph leaving a screaming wake behind us.

The trees seemed to be getting greener and the forest thicker, I could tell we were almost there. “Eight miles left,” I called back to the twins. “We’re going over Panther Creek,” and “I think we are almost there. I bet you it’s around this corner. I know I said that about the last curve, but I have a feeling about this one.” It was only a three-hour drive, but I like to talk. Soon enough they will start answering me.

As we pulled away from the park office a tall statue of Yogi Bear greeted us with sun gleaming off of him in every direction, he is the star of the park. Pansies, petunias, and geraniums lay at his feet and the shady green trees swayed their welcoming arms. Ferns and moss lined the little white bridge and ornamental rocks were tucked in by the hostas and Impatients. We finally made it and I couldn’t wait to get the crying babies out of the car. The first couple of hours weren’t bad for them, they slept and played. But that last hour was hell for me and them.

We followed the wooden signs along the dusty road looking for campsite 420, number 3. It was like stepping into another world after we entered the gate; RV’s, tents, cute wooden cabins that look like they should be on the front of a syrup bottle, a fish weighing station, and lots of playgrounds. I could tell we were going to have a great time.

“Amanda! Hey guys! Come here. You got to check this out,” Brad and Taigyn yelled from the cabin window. I was already impressed with the quaint cabin and nice little porch and cement patio, but the boys absolutely loved the bunk beds stacked three high. They were up the ladders like monkeys and claiming their sleeping spots, even though the older boys were sleeping in the tent part of the time.

The boys unloaded the cars in assembly line fashion and I organized the cabin as quick as they were bringing the bags and boxes to me. The girls were much happier to be in their bouncer and walker. They even welcomed the playpen, anything to get out of the car seats. I think Collin was in disbelief over all of the space and new wondering places to explore. He was off and running toward the lake first thing. “Get back here. You can’t go in without us!”

It took no time at all to get unloaded, organized, and the tent up. The older boys rented a paddle boat and checked out the lake. They already looked sun burnt as the peddled by me on the lake, waving and yelling.

Yogi even visited us at our cabin.

So much to do…I couldn’t wait to get to the beach and swim.

More to come. Bye for now.


***Note: not all the pictures are in order. They are just some of my favorites.***

Packing for Vacation: The Beginning

Oh, vacation…how I love thee. Oh, vacation…you can exhaust me. It was fun, but I’m trying to get the house back together now. Laundry and blankets and sheets and clothes and everything else for 8 people…the laundry pile looks like Mt. Everest trying to eat my washer and dryer.

It was a really nice place, though. It wasn’t a sunny beach or a tropical island, although I could really use a tropical drink with some vodka right about now. We went camping at Pine Lakes Resort. Five fun-filled days of the great outdoors. It was a good time. No TV, no Internet, and I only checked my cell phone in the morning and evening for emergencies. It was nice, minus the flies and mosquitos. I didn’t miss television, but I did miss blogging. I did a lot of writing, so my next posts about vacation were actually written sometime between July 7-12. And of course, there will be lots of pics soon. 🙂

July 7, 2011  Packing for Vacation: The Beginning 

Our camping reservations were made months ago. I just started thinking about everything we would need a couple of days before we left.  I wanted to start packing a week ago, but that is kind of hard when you use the items daily. So I knew it was going to be an all nighter/marathon packing event.

I started a list of necessities on a small notebook that sat next to my purse. Whenever I would think of something I wanted to remember to bring I would add it to the list (as long as I could find the list, things get lost in that area with all the clutter, honestly). The short reminder list turned into a long list (picture a scroll unwinding down an endless staircase) to basically the whole house needing to be shoved, crammed, rolled, squeezed, and folded into bags and boxes. Who knew you needed so much for camping! 😉 We needed laundry soap for the babies clothes because they can get gross pretty quick with spit up, baseball hats to keep the sun off my boys’ shaved heads, cereal bowls, plastic silverware, sheets, blankets, bottles, baby food, among many many other things. The items were scribbled and printed and written in every which direction and in many colors of ink and even crayon. And when I ran out of room I wrote sideways, upside down, and every which way in the margins. It was a cluttered mess, but I found what I needed and crossed the items off one by one as I packed them away the night before we were to leave.

“Is this going to be enough towels for 8 people?” I wondered out loud. “Did I overpack?” It did start to feel like I was packing everything except the kitchen sink. But there was nothing there, so I knew we needed these things. But when is enough enough? How many blankets do you really need? But I don’t want to be cold. We are gonna pack the electric griddle so I can make pancakes, better grab the mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc… And maybe I might make bacon, better grab the tongs. Maybe I should grab an extra spatula. I think I will throw in the pizza cutter too, why not? You never know! This kind of self questioning went into every item I threw into the bags or boxes. I always had an excuse why I really needed it.

In the meantime…

The kids tore through the house with a toddler and two dogs trailing right behind them. The babies giggled in their seats as I talked to them. I also talked to myself… and I love talking into thin air. “I wonder how many pots and pans should I bring?” and “Better grab some seasonings for the burgers…and  pot holders.”

Obviously, I didn’t need all of this and a lot of it stayed packed up most of the trip. There were a few things I forgot though, like a can opener, foil, and baggies.  Oh, well. We managed. It  was fun…and a ton of work, especially with all the babies. We made lots of memories, though. They wont remember, but I will.

Stay tuned…the rest of the vacation will eventually find itself on here. I’m still in tired vacation mode.