Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Goes on Vacation

You know those families who take vacations all the time?  The ones who, despite crazy hectic lives and unpredictable children are always off doing something fun? Since having kids, I have harbored a secret jealousy of these brave people. I see their Facebook posts of their smiling toddlers exploring a new place and think, 'I wish I was a cool mom, like that.'

Earlier this year (probably during the polar vortex) I told L that it was time to start taking vacations.  At least once a year.  Sure, we've gone on trips since the kids have been born, but we still have PTSD from a couple of those.  I'm talking pack-up-the-family-with-the-intent-to-make-memories kind of vacation. Anna is three and a half, and Aaron is two.  It's time.

A couple years ago we met another couple here, J and J.  Well, L met J first. The way I tell the story when people ask how we met is by saying that they fell in love, because it's mostly true.  L liked J so much that I was actually nervous to meet his wife because I wanted so much to like her (and her me) the same way our husbands liked each other.  Well, we did.  And we now have combined our last names and are looking at building a compound so we can live together for always.

J and J suggested we all go to a place called Grandview Lodge, which apparently every single person in the Midwest has heard of and gone to before, except L and me.  We rented a huge cabin, had most meals included, and went on all kinds of adventures.  (This is GLAMping, people.  This woman in her thirties doesn't camp.)  Here are a few highlights:

(Our first of many chaotic meals.)

(Our first of many ice cream cones.)

(The captain and his first mates.)

(Had to stop and take a picture of this on our bike ride on the Paul Bunyan trail.  All those signs point to people's cabins.  So Minnesota.)

(Aaron's first s'more)

(Turtle races in downtown Nisswa.)

(Yes, we had shirts made for the trip. Deal.)

(We had a babysitter one night and went out for a nice dinner.  We shut the place down and may or may not have sung along to Richard Marx, Toto, and most of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack that was playing over the speakers.  Good, good times.)

The looks on my kids' faces in this last photo pretty much sums up how we all felt about leaving. A wonderful week with wonderful people, and we are so very grateful for all of it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Slows Down.

For awhile now, Anna has had a bit of a stutter.  At first it seemed like no big deal, and all of my parenting books confirmed it for me:  lots of kids stutter, and most grow out of it.  But then it wasn't going away, and then it started to get noticeably worse, and long story short, a few weeks ago we took her for a speech therapy evaluation.

I like to think I have a bit of an advantage in parenting since I was a teacher.  Sure, the first few years are crazy-town, but after that I can deal with schedule, discipline, and that oh-so-delicate balance of tough and love.  I've done it many, many times.  How could my child be different?

The evaluation itself was good.  The therapist saw a bit of what we saw, but didn't seem terribly concerned.  We are to watch it and be patient, both with Anna and with the 'disfluency' (as it is now known).  Okay, we both said.  Phew.

At the end of the evaluation, however, the teacher in me came out.  'Be patient', sure, but what else could I do? Surely there was a workbook out there, or a book I could read, or some sort of work I could do with her at home?

'The best thing you can do,' the therapist said, 'is to slow down yourself.'

'What, you mean my speech?'

'Yes, your speech.  And everything else.  Just slow down.'


I believe parenting-- like teaching-- is unique in that it places a big, glaring spotlight on your strengths and weaknesses as a human being.  I have lots of strengths in my life.  Lots!

Slowing down is not one of them.

In the weeks since that appointment, the advice to slow down has been at the forefront of my brain.  Slow down, yet our schedule is packed every single day, and hurry up get in the door before the flies get in, and could you please walk a little faster because I've already lost your brother, and oh, I'd love to talk to you about butterflies right now but we have to go. Go. GO!

As is is now August, and summer is... gulp... almost over, I have three to-dos.  (To-do lists being one of my strengths, mind you.)

1.  Eat pretzel curds at the State Fair
2.  Experience a real-life Dirty Dancing Vacation (more on that later)
3.  And slow down and enjoy these precious moments.  For Anna, and also for me.