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Tower of Terror for one (and a pair of clean pants), please.

Last weekend I spent a few glorious days in sunny California, specifically Disneyland. The trip aligned perfectly between two of Michael’s really looooooong trips to Belgium, so the decision was easy to gift myself a few relaxing days away (without my children) when Casey asked if I wanted to accompany her on a conference trip.

Normally I would pass on such a “frivolous” weekend away with friends, but given our (my) current stressful situation of moving abroad and my husband current intense work calendar, a few day of respite sounded amazing and justified.

So I packed my bags and went to Disneyland, leaving my four kids behind in gloomy Indiana. (best. mom. ever.)

You guys, not to rub my good fortune in your face or anything, but it was nothing short of magical. We hopped parks till late in the evening, spent lazy afternoons lounging at the pool, and I think I read 3 books in a 72 hour period.

Sure, one hundred time over I wished my kids were with me to experience the sights and sounds only Walt Disney can create, and I promise I’ll bring them back someday (next stop, EuroDisney), but this particular adventure was just for me.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 9.45.04 AM

One of the most unexpectedly awesome moments of the trip came at 7:15 am on Friday morning. The park does this thing called “extra magic hours” where only guests staying on property in a Disney hotel can visit the park. Basically, for one beautiful hour, the park is seemingly empty. And never wanting to miss an opportunity, I got up early and by myself and headed to the park to get on some of the good rides without having to wait in an epic line.

I bolted to The Tower of Terror, a ride that puts you in a haunted hotel elevator and plunges you to your death. Apparently I was the only one in all of California with that wake-up call.

You guys, the ride was empty. Like, I was the only non-worker in the whole tower (and can we discuss for a second how seriously the Tower of Terror employees take their jobs?). I mean, the ride is particularly creepy to begin with, but then couple that with being the only person on a ride that typically has up to a 90 minute wait, and I was about to mess my pants.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 9.45.22 AMVisual proof, don’t let the fake smile fool you, I was terrified.

When the ride finished up, the dude running it asked me if I wanted to stay strapped in, because he would be more than happy to just keep the ride running for as long as I want. Over and over again…

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Once was enough, and I got the picture to prove it.

stuff I learned on the beach

The thing about going on vacation with four little kids is that when you get home, you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. Today is the first “normal” day after vacation, which means I have an epic post-vacation hangover. Vacation hangovers, they are totally a thing and I got a good one going on.

And even though I’m completely in need of a nap and housekeeper, I’m so glad that we went ahead and did the trip. It came and went in a blink of an eye, but because the days fly by and melt into each other like chocolate Easter bunnies let out in the sun, Spring Break 2014 will be here before I know it.

A few things I’ll always remember from SB 2013 (a bullet point list, of sorts):

– My baby sister got engaged.

– Paul refused to eat anything unless he found it in the sand, and lucky for him Gage’s favorite activity just happened to be throwing food in the sand.

He might be snacking on goldfish.

– Piper officially decided she wants to scoop ice cream for a living, and Nola wants to work at the cheap crap souvenir store. This makes me a very lucky lady, as it looks like I’ll always have a hook-up for a shark tooth in a bottle, or a lacquered up shrunken alligator head for my mantel. College savings? WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT!

– Speaking of college, Michigan State kinda blew it in that bball tournament thing. And last night, I actually found myself rooting for UofM for the first time in my whole life, which is basically the equivalent of hell freezing over.

Yes, we're tailgating beach style. #msu #gogreen

– Also worth noting: I shouldn’t shuck steamed oysters after a couple beers, and my new favorite drink is called a Miami Vice. Mmmmm, frozen rum drinks on the beach while grandma keeps the kiddlets entertained BEST EVER.

– Paul fit a whole lot better in that middle place 15 months ago. Next year, he’ll still be my baby, but his shadow will be standing on it’s own.

He fit there a bit better 15 months ago.

– And then there was that one time when I just wanted to the kids to play independently on the beach for 5 short minutes, and I found myself saying: “why don’t you just pimp out your hole for a while”. Not exactly something I ever thought I would suggest to anyone, let alone my children.

But this hole? It needed some serious pimping. Back rests, cup holders, places to store the shovel. Time consuming details, but totally worth the effort.














And lastly, I was reminded that my people are pretty great. We might drive each other nuts most days, but wow do I sure love them.















Selfies. So much better at sunset with a sandy ring pop in your mouth.




finding magic in unexpectedly expected place

We’ve been home from our trip to Disney for a few days and counting. As we get back into the swing of things and detox from our vacation hangover, everyone we come in contact with who knows where we’ve been immediately asks the kids what their favorite part of the trip was.

Piper will tell you is was the Expedition Everest roller-coaster, which I refer to as “the weird yeti ride”.

Nola will tell you she loved the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween party, except for the part where we made her sit through the Hall of Presidents.

And Gage will tell you his favorite thing ever was Buzz Lightyear, and I think he’s talking about the new-ish Toy Story ride at Hollywood Studios.

Yes, all those things were awesome. And candidly speaking, the trip honestly wasn’t at all about Michael and I “taking one for the team” and reluctantly spending 5 days in Orlando doing this we didn’t want to be doing, just because we wanted to be “good parents”. Truly and a little bit surprisingly, Disney World was a blast. I can’t wait to return some day when my whole family is over 44″ tall.

Everyone always talks about the Disney “magic”, and now I understand. It’s not mythical, it’s real. It’s a place where adults and children can spend time together and reconnect in the most basic way: having fun.

On more that a few occasions, this is exactly where I found all the magic. Sure, the rides were great, and the live shows were awesome. The employees or “cast members” were absolutely amazing, and the food was admittedly “meh”. But the reconnection I found with my children, especially my dear Nola, was worth every penny (and trust me, there were LOTS AND LOTS of pennies spent).



















Often during the everyday strain of life, I forget to interact with my children in a joyful way. Sure, I bark demands and I reprimand them tirelessly. But being able to spend time with them for an entire week, doing things together that we both enjoyed, was absolutely priceless. I held my kids hands, and looked deep into their eyes more last week than probably the past 6 months combined.

And it’s true, you don’t have to go to Disney to reconnect with your children. I’m sure this type of joy can be attained in the very home you live in.

I’ve been anxious and stressed out now for a long time, and everyone under this roof can tell their own story about that. The innocent and childlike joy that feels so amazing has been missing in my life for a very long time. But today, I feel it. I feel reconnected to my children in a beautiful way.

Gah, it’s like I went on a romantic holiday with my 5 year old. But whatever works, right?

*linking up with Thankful Thursday over at Simple. You should too…



I’m around, and you can call me Matey

Today I realized I haven’t blogged here (emphasis on the here, I’m still busy writing lots of other awesome places) in almost three weeks.

I didn’t mean for it to happen, didn’t set out to “take a break” or anything, it’s just how life went down. Honestly, I thought I blogged at least last week or something. But yeah, almost 3 weeks ago.

I’ve been doing stuff. You know, everyday normal people stuff.

I took a canning class. I really should blog about it, because it was awesome, and now I want to put all the food in all the jars.

Screen shot 2012-09-30 at 8.26.40 PM

I’m shopping often to stock the ugly sweater shop, Junky Brilliance. Yes, the season already starts mid-September (I know). Gage is my sidekick, and sometimes he stages fugly protests when I don’t buy him broken toys.

Staging a thrift store protest. I will win this one.

We took the kids to Disney last week, it was so awesome I’m basically at a loss for words. It really is a magical place and we felt like princess.

And then I gave her a crown.

Starting the morning out right.


Cinderella's castle spooked to the nines.

If you ever decide to go to Disney, I highly recommend being an irresponsible parent and yanking your kids out of school for a week sometime in October. The crowds were completely low (because everyone’s in school, like suckers), the weather very comfortable, and the Halloween festivities are out of this world.

We rented a house with my sister (brother-in-law and nephew) and dragged my mom along for the ride. Renting a huge house is also something I totally would recommend. It’s much cheaper than staying on Disney property, everyone gets a bed(room), you can make meals at “home” where the kids can freely enjoy their post-themepark epic meltdowns, and our particular rental even came with a pool and hot tub. I must admit, there’s something very magical about not having to hide in the dark hotel bathroom while waiting for the kids to fall asleep.

The only non-magical part of the trip was driving 16 hours south (and then another 16 back up north) in the car with 4 small kids. Everyone did ok, except when they didn’t. Nola lost her mind over a dropped marker, and there was that naughty 3 hour stretch of highway somewhere in Georgia that Paul didn’t care for and wanted us all to hear about it.

But we’re home now, sleeping in our own beds, where the bed bugs don’t bite. Acclimating to real life where you don’t get a daily afternoon chocolate dipped ice cream Micky on a stick just for giggles.

R2D2 glow toy entertainment. Be glad this photo doesn't come with sound. #18hourroadtrip

And lastly, Gage learned a new song, thanks to Piper’s new found love of teenie-bopper music. You can call him, Matey. This is only funny if you personally know him. From day one, straight out of the womb he’s talked like a pirate. Like, total leave-me-lone-get-off-my-yard old man growl in full effect. He’s now constantly going round the house singing a tone def off key version of “this crazy, call me Matey”. It’s hilarious, and I really need to make a video of this to remember it always.

Monkey on my back.

So yeah, this blog and I have some catching up to do. I have grand ambitions to get my act together, promise.


A lesson in how not to travel by air.

Yesterday started as a normal last day of vacation BlogHER 2012. I mean,the vacation conference was clearly over, and a simple day of travel was what was on the agenda.

It started with a woozie cab ride through Manhattan to LaGuardia airport, where upon arrival, Casey lost her cookies, and my breast pump was given a body cavity search. But nonetheless, the day was looking up, and it appeared to be business per usual.

An uneventful flight took us from NYC to beautiful Washington DC. From what I can tell, DC looks lovely and I want to go back.

But friends, my adventurous zest for travel was crushed in our nations capital. You guys, it was horrific. I’ll give you the quick and dirty:

1. Casey, Shireen and I boarded our Washington DC flight, and the plan was for it was to bring us back  to the beautiful land of Indiana in less than 90 minutes. We got on the plane, and we sat. And then we sat for an hour. Oh, then another hour. And lastly, the better half on another hour. Almost three hours in, our flight was cancelled because of weather.


In their defense, it rained 3 raindrops and a really big brown cloud passed overhead. Clearly reason to abandon flight.

Been stuck on this sky rat for over 2 hours. But not in the air.

2. We get off the plane, immediately call US Airways (yes, that’s the lovely company we were flying with) and try to re-book. I get a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, but my girls Casey and Shireen were not so lucky. I leave my besties and run to the next gate, where my flight is set to take off within the hour.

3. I sit on my next plane, still in DC, for another hour. When the flight finally takes off, the ride is uneventful. The only slight problem was that the plane landed only 13 minutes before my next flight (to Indy! Woo Hoo!) was to leave. The flight attendant assures me that I have time, because the gates are only steps away from each other. We dock at what she said was C13, and I needed C19.

4. I get off the plane, and realize we’re not in concourse “C”, we’re in concourse “D”. Yep, It’s time to be that person. The person who takes off her flip flops, hauls ass running though the airport yelling at stranger to move out of the way. Friends, I deserve a gold metal for people hurdling or something. I honestly jumped over a hipster on his iPhone.  Looking back, I ran from the very farthest point in concourse C, to the very farthest point in concourse D, in a matter of 10 minutes. I also sprained my ankle and pulled a muscle in my calf.

Related: I really need to start running again.

5. I get on the plane, sit down in the very last seat on the bird, and realize it’s next to the meanest, douchest dude in First Class. He drinks (3) beers and is clearly annoyed he’s sitting next to a strung out 30-somthing year old hyperventilating chick who’s obviously not paid for her upgraded seat.

6. I finally make it to Indianapolis, after 13 hours of travel. I have no luggage, I hadn’t pumped my boobs in over 8 hours, but I was home. I take a $50 cab ride home with a serial killer in the dead of night, and live to tell.

I’m tired but thankful. Remember my friends Casey and Shireen? At the time this post was publish, they sill were stuck in DC, maybe Philly if they’re lucky. I’m sure they’ll blog about their take on the situation, assuming they live to tell about it.

Funny side note: My carry-on luggage had to be run through the x-ray machine 3 times. My breast-pump got violated, but my full-sized bottle of Dolphin Organic lotion was never detected.

I think their new tagline should be: So natural, even TSA can’t detect us.

Just unpacked my purse from last nights flight. Yup, this full sized bottle of @dolphinorganics made it through security no problem. Can't say the same for my breast pump.

I can laugh about it now, but yesterday I’ll admit to doing the ugly cry into an overpriced burrito somewhere around gate C40. There is nothing friendly about flying.


the rush to be lazy

In my dreams, summer is a lazy void in the calendar, filled with blank spaces. But in my reality, it’s the exact opposite. All good things, just busy.

We’re thick into travel. Hurrying up, hastily packing and repacking, so we can get to the next place and “do nothing”.

Everyday is a crazy race filled, go-go-going until the toddler drops dead in his sandy tracks with his life jacket still on.


Each and ever day is good, but kinda overwhelming as well.

Wednesday night I pack up the kids (again), head back to Michigan, en route to Buffalo NY, by way of Canada. Paul’s going to meet border patrol for the first time, and I’m crossing my fingers all he needs is his birth certificate and a social security card.

Bitty baby passport? Nope, doesn’t have one.

This weekend my dad got out my old collection of super soakers, circa early 1990’s. The kids thought they were awesome, even if they couldn’t hardly hold up their weapons.

Backyard defenders.

This is our summer.

*this morning I blogged over at Babble about another summertime delight, getting poison ivy on my boobs, while breastfeeding. Always an adventure, I tell ya…