3/5

Originally, Kid A was planning to take a nanny job with three little kids in a nearby neighborhood for the summer.  But then she was offered a summer internship at my dad’s law firm in southern New Jersey.  She weighed her options: Babies or the beach?  Wearing t-shirts covered in finger paints and spit up or dressing up for an office job every day?  Living at home with your parents who are always complaining about money or staying with grandparents who basically buy you whatever you ask for?  Kid A is smart, has always been independent, and has had one foot out our door since she went to Spanish immersion camp the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school.  Obviously she chose the internship.  She has been gone (with the exception of a long weekend when she came back to GA for college orientation) since the beginning of June.

Kid A and I texting a few short weeks after she left

Kid A and I texting a few short weeks after she left

Kid B was relied upon heavily during the house selling and buying phase of the summer.  Basically, she raised the other kids for us.  Well, she did along with all of the video game systems we have in the house.  Do you know what happens when you leave a 15-year-old in charge?  I’m talking no bathing until the weird smells start to offend, cereal/ peanut butter sandwiches/ frozen chicken nuggets as the “fancy” meals, and a glazed look in everyone’s eyes as a result of 8 – 10 hours a day of electronics exposure.  I wasn’t paying attention to how bad it had gotten until one morning, after dropping Kid B at the soccer field for training, Kid E and I were having a nice car conversation.  Then he asked me if I knew what a K/D spread was.  I did not, but said I could look it up when we got home.  Imagine my horror when I learned it was short for Kill/Death ratio (basically, how many kills you achieved before your character was in turn killed), tracked in Halo, a military science fiction video game.  Parenting Fail #1,024 for the summer.

Me:  Um, you know that this is a video game and you NEVER, EVER shoot anyone in real life, right?  Because when you die in real life, you don’t get more lives.

Kid E: Yeah.  Yes.  Of course, mom.  I know.  Everybody knows that.

Eh, they’ll survive.

Fortunately for everyone, I was quickly jolted back into a lead parenting role as Kid B had a trip of her own planned this summer.  She went to Europe to guest play with a team from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in an international soccer tournament.  She was gone for almost two weeks.  She traveled to several cities in Spain (including Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Madrid) as well as the beach in Biarritz, France.  She had the trip of a lifetime and didn’t miss home very much at all.  As a matter of fact, she admitted to crying on the plane ride home because she couldn’t stay there for the rest of the summer.

For me, the time with both Kid A and Kid B gone was amazing.  Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy both of them tremendously and love that they are my children.  But let’s be honest about the Catch-22 situation involved in raising independent, strong-willed, powerful women (which is my end game in successful parenting Kids A, B, and C, by the by).  There is the occasional tension and butting of heads between teenage girls and their mothers.  And I’m saying that in the nicest way possible.  Add in PMS, some OCD, the DMV, a deficit in R-E-S-P-E-C-T, plus a pinch of sarcasm, and you likely get one or more parties CRBT (crying real big tears).  I already knew it, but while they were gone I was hit once again by the fact that raising teenagers is really hard.  I’ve stopped counting all of my parenting fails with them.

Eh, they’ll survive.

But will I?

Oh, of course I will.  I used their time away to thoroughly enjoy the three littles (well, Kid C is not so little anymore, but you know what I mean).  We went to the movies and the pool and we played games and stayed up too late and went out to dinner (it’s much more affordable with less people!).  It was relaxing and light and fun.  No matter how many kids you start out with, it turns out having fewer is kind of a vacation.

But when it was time to pick Kid B up from the airport, we were all excited and ready for her to be home again.  Especially the ‘kids’ that she raised for us.

Kid B airport pickup

Now we are back to 4/5.  And even though it is only for a little while, I can’t wait for all of my chickens to be home.  Having Kid A go off to college in August will definitely be interesting.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

 

Getting So Much of the Not Having of the Sleep – Day One in Barcelona, Spain

“I feel like I am going to DIE,” I whispered from 17F across the plane seats as we jetted toward Spain.  It was midnight to my body, Eastern Standard Time, and I had been upright for 18-plus hours.  Kid A, my sisters, and I had flown into Atlantic City from Atlanta the day prior, then traveled on Monday in a monsoon by bus-limo to the Philadelphia Airport to take a flight to Barcelona, which would land 8AM on Tuesday.  I hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.

"There's a colonial woman on the wing!  She is dressed in traditional colonial garb." - Annie, Bridesmaids (2011)

“There’s a colonial woman on the wing!” – Annie (after she mixed alcohol with Xanax during a flight to Vegas), Bridesmaids (2011)
P.S. I really took this photograph on our flight from Atlanta to Atlantic City.  Isn’t it so cool?

“It’s like when you have a newborn!” exclaimed Sister B, who was against the window in 17A.

From 17 D, Sister C agreed.  “Yeah, I would trade just about anything for some sleep right now.”

Kid A had been sleeping in 17C for three hours.  Teenagers can sleep anywhere.

We were so jealous.

“I would trade my first-born for a reclining pod in First Class,” I admitted.  “And conveniently, she is on this plane with me.”

There was no one in 17E, but we still couldn’t get comfortable enough to rest.  And there were miles to go before we would sleep.

We arrived in Spain to beautiful weather… it was bright sunshine and 80-plus degrees outside.  After waiting and gathering our luggage, and a quick power nap for me on a cold, marble pillar nearby, we boarded a short shuttle to our port of departure.

Conveniently, we were able to go to our rooms on the ship earlier than expected.  Our luggage hadn’t arrived yet, but we quickly got the lay of the land and saw the room we would call home for the next twelve days at sea.  “Tiny” was a generous description, especially with three of us sharing a berth, but no matter.  This was going to be an adventure!

The Royal Princess was scheduled to push off later in the day.  We weren’t due to be on board until 5:30PM, so several of us decided to tour Barcelona for the day.  We took a bus into the marina district and we walked from there.

For those of you still keeping track, none of us had slept since a couple of nights prior.  And we were getting a little punch-drunkety.

We made our way through the narrow, crowded streets as we held our purses close to our bodies.  We walked around with cameras pointed at the architecture and other unique sights in an attempt to capture the feel of the city in just a few short hours.  All I could see was graffiti, discarded McDonald’s wrappers, some fairly unsafe construction, and a lot of other tourists.

It is weird what sleep deprivation can do to you.  I was exhausted on a cellular level.  Yet, I still thought it was beautiful.  And I was in Spain.  Amazing!

After much walking and a little window shopping, we finally found the Museu Picasso.  I remember seeing paintings and vases and pitchers and sculptures, but I only saw them with my eyes, not with my heart or soul.  I didn’t feel any connection to the artist at all.  Utter and extreme weariness trumped everything at that point.  My dad sat on a bench by the gift shop.  He sighed and said he  thought he was missing the art gene.

untitled-1937-11

“Picasso used to say to me, ‘The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world'” – Jean Cocteau

Really and truly, how high was Picasso when he painted that?

Eventually, it was All Aboard.  We also desperately needed showers.  So we checked in and we scrubbed and rinsed the travel off of our bodies just in time to follow the crowds to our assigned Muster Stations for a quick safety drill.

We were barely still standing upright as we carried our bulky, orange accessories down to a dining room, with the rest of the people with whom we could potentially share a life boat or a deserted island for the rest of our days.

A message was delivered via loudspeaker from the ship’s captain.  He sounded exactly like the school principal from the television show Glee.  Every night for the rest of our cruise, when the captain would address the ship from the bridge, I would make the same comparison and think what a wicked shame it is that that talented Cory Monteith boy died earlier this summer.  Oh, Finn… such a waste!

During the rest of our practice at Muster Station F, we sat at a table with a mother and her daughter.  The teenage daughter was not yet unplugged and she was fiddling on her phone.  The mother was lost in her own thoughts, but likely hearing Sister C, Kid A, and I as we mumbled how completely and utterly tired we were.

I had become completely nonsensical at that point.  I said something to Sister C and Kid A about “getting so much of the not having of the sleep,” and they burst out laughing.  They knew exactly what I meant because they felt it too.  We were totally sober, yet completely intoxicated by our sleep deprivation.

Hey!  Maybe I did get something out of the Picasso Museum.  Do I smell opium in here?

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Baby, You’re a Ship – You Make Me Want to Wear My Evening Gown… and Cruuuuuuise

…aaaaaaaand we’re back.

After fifteen days, six countries, and three continents, we are finally back.

WOW is really all I can say.  I am simply blown away in retrospect.

What a trip we had!  It was amazing and truly once in a lifetime.  It was not a vacation by any means; it was much more of an experience.  We set an alarm almost every morning, were out the door and off of the ship to meet and explore (and get a little lost on more than one occasion), came back hot and sweaty and covered in filth, but our memories (and our cameras) are filled with some absolutely amazing things.

Yet, that was not the end of each day.  After we reboarded the Royal Princess, we then showered and dressed for dinner (Sheepdog is so mad that he missed that… I wore a dress and heels every single night, and I even wore gowns on the two formal nights).  Then, we started our nighttime adventures on the cruise ship.  We drank, we ate, we laughed, we cried, we drank some more.  My sisters, an aunt and an uncle sang on stage.  We gambled and played BINGO and asked if they had any swedish fish (sadly, no).  We shared stories and reconnected with old and new friends and family members.  We met new people and made new friends.  Then we drank some more.  Sister C, Kid A, and I (we were roommates) went to bed “early,” but many of the rest stayed out until all hours of the night watching (and participating in) shows and sing-a-longs and whatever else was happening aboard the incredible floating entertainment palace.

It was like being back in college... tiny twin beds (one came out of the ceiling ), no closet or drawer space, a very small shared bathroom, and lots of drinking.  And we loved every minute of it!

It was like being back in college… tiny twin beds (one came out of the ceiling), no closet or drawer space, a very small shared bathroom, and lots of drinking. And we loved every minute of it!

We made even more spectacular memories than I could have imagined.

I tried to jot down some of the things I was thinking and feeling throughout the trip.  It was hard, mostly because we were so busy and always running from one thing to the next, but I managed to keep a journal on my laptop.  Most of the entries are unfinished because I fell asleep in the middle of writing them.

My plan is to post everything, along with some pictures, over the next few days.

For now, I have to unpack and wash a mountain or two of laundry, catch up on two weeks of lost sleep, and should probably spend a little time in rehab.

My family did it like we always do things… absolutely over-the-top.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…