Archive | May, 2012

Mother’s Day…the Day After

14 May

I made it through and survived another Mother’s Day.  It always seems that the one day that is supposed to be about Mom, happens to be one of the most crazy days of the year.  It is the day that I really give up all control (well at least most of the control) and let Dad take charge.  He takes care of the meals, the shopping, the kids, and the clean-up.  So, I spent most of yesterday relaxing and resting.  I played around on my iPad and watched T.V. while my family lived life right around me.  I let the chaos escalate right before my eyes, since I knew that they wouldn’t dare ask me to clean it up.  At least not then, on Mother’s Day.  I can aways tell how much work, excitement, and energy went into the festivities of Mother’s Day, based on my damage control of my house the day after.  By the looks of my house this morning, it was a success. Today, kids are back at school and I have the house almost to myself (since one kid is home sick).  Now it is my time to conquer the mess and reflect back on Mother’s Day.


The morning yesterday started with “Fancy B” (a nickname in our house for a carb overloaded and sugar filled breakfast prepared by the whole gang).   The nearly 2 hour preparation, actually turned into a lunchtime meal that was enjoyed by all.  The kitchen this morning was still wearing a thin layer from the preparation process and was just the beginning of a day filled with excitement for my 4 young chefs.   We also enjoyed some sort of dinner concoction, where the inspiration  for the entree stemmed from a Man vs. Food episode.  BBQ pulled pork topped hot dogs anyone?  Sound interesting?  It was interesting for sure.  At least it beats the bacon wrapped sausage roll from last year, right?

My husband and kids cleared the table yesterday after each “dining experience” and kept the dishwasher running.  The overflow from the 2 meals and middle school Spanish cooking homework were just too much for our one dishwasher.  This morning the counters were sticky, the stove was a disaster, there was about as much grass & bark in the house as out in the yard.  I know they tried, but sometimes these things just get overlooked.  I bit my tongue and kept my cool all day yesterday (really tough for me).  Honestly, I was just really enjoying every minute of knowing that my husband and kids really couldn’t ask for my help.  I’d deal with the mess tomorrow, I thought.

Well, this morning I’ve scoured the kitchen, straightened out the office from tiny paper clippings covering the floor from homemade cards.  The disaster of the gift wrapping projects done by my kindergartener has been resolved and put away.  I spent some time putting way the 10 added “special” gifts (ranging from rocks to old books) presented to me from my same little gift wrapping guru.  The blood stains from the nose bleed, after the unsupervised tackle football game, has also been cleaned from patio.

I’m a pretty lucky girl to have a hubby and kids who take Mother’s Day so seriously.  I do have to say that the day after Mother’s Day is pretty great too.  I just love to spend a few minutes sitting in my clean & quiet house remembering the best memories of the day.  I can take it all in and reflect on the day of chaos and realize that I wouldn’t change a thing.  It sure feels good to know that I am loved, while I enjoy my clean house with hand picked flowers from my kids and a beautiful card from my husband.  I am starting to think that the day after Mother’s Day just might be the best day of the year.

Staying Sane in the Friendly Skies

10 May

Traveling with babies and children can be a very challenging situation.  I have had my fair share of great flights and some horribly embarrassing situations also.  Here are a dozen of my favorite practical in- flight tips for parents…

1.)  Remember that traveling with kids is NOT fun.  Airline flights can be successful, but they are not easy for parents.  Do not expect to relax and watch a movie, read a novel, or look at every page in your People Magazine.  If you ignore your kids, your children will misbehave, you will be stressed out, and the other passengers sitting around you will give you dirty looks.  Just plan on being a non-stop babysitter the entire flight and it will be easier for everyone.

2.)  Have your child sit in their car seat if possible.  You can’t expect a 3 year old to sit in a lap belt for an entire flight.  It is way too much fun to jump on the seat and make faces at the people sitting in the row behind them.  Entertaining for the kid, annoying for others.

3.)  Pack plenty of HEALTHY snacks.  Feeding your kid 10 packs of fruit snacks and candy is not a good idea.  One word…Puke.

4.)  Always carry on a simple change of clothes for each child and parents.  There is nothing like your potty trained preschooler falling asleep in your lap and having an accident.  It’s pretty rough walking off the plane with a half naked and screaming child wrapped in an airplane blanket.  Even better when it happens in 1st class…classy!

5.)  Bring a portable DVD player, over the ear headphones, and several DVDs.  Your little one might actually sit and watch the movie.  If not, the act of changing the movie 5 times can even keep your child quiet and busy for a few minutes.

6.)  Loosen up on your regular media rules and let them watch something you wouldn’t usually allow.  Popping in an action filled PG-13 movie for your tween son will keep his attention much better than the regular stuff he watches.  Being in a crowded box, 30,000 feet in the air, with a bunch of strangers is all about survival.  Save the rules for when you are on solid ground.

7.)  Plan for ear pressure during take off and landing.  Be ready to feed or give a pacifier to babies and encourage older kids to swallow or chew on something.  Sippy cup, box juice, gum, or whatever works.

8.)  Bring a small blanket and pillow for each child.  It can make all the difference if they sleep or not.

9.)  If you are traveling on a longer or night flight, older kids may need some help getting some sleep.  I’m not a doctor and recommend talking with your family physician about what the best option is for your child.  If you are interested, I have had pretty good luck with melatonin.  Words of advice, think twice before using Benadryl, some kids have the opposite effect and it may dry out their sinuses.

10.)  Pack some new and fun activities.  Some of my favorites are WikiStix, colorful pipe cleaners, Play Foam, and coloring pages on a clipboard.  These are all small, easy, quiet, and inexpensive.

11.)  If your kid is going to kick the seat in front of them, take their shoes off.  It’s not nearly as fun to kick a seat barefoot.

12.)  Most importantly, keep calm.  You can do everything right and your kid can still decide to behave like a total monster.  Don’t let other people around you stress you out more.  Parents are in a hard position on an airplane.  It’s not like you can take them for a little walk out front to resolve the issue.  You are stuck.  Remember, you’ll never see these people again in your life.

Good luck and happy travels!

Mexican Vacation…Family Style!

7 May

With summer approaching, I feel that I must share what I consider the perfect easy tropical getaway.  With my crazy busy life this past week, I’m posting a “Flashback Friday” memory on a Monday instead.  I’ll just call this one my “Magnificent Mexican Monday”, in honor of Cinco de Mayo perhaps.  Better later than never, right?  So, all you  families out there looking for that last minute summer getaway, here’s an idea for you…

A tropical vacation…sipping an ice cold fruity drink while relaxing under a palm tree.  Hot days full of adventure and warm summer nights, all while enjoying fabulous local foods.  This is the type of trip we all dream about.  But, in the reality of real life, with multiple kids, and a busy family life, making this happen can be tough.

The reality is that many tropical destinations are not easy vacations.  They can be hard to get to, get quite pricey, and some destinations even require special vaccinations.  This is especially hard when traveling with a large family.  One of my absolute favorite places for an easy and reasonable dream vacation is the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.  Direct flights from most major cities and no special pre-travel vaccinations needed.  It is reasonably priced, has great dining, beautiful beaches, and more activities than you could imagine.  It is touristy enough that you have all the modern comforts, yet it still has the feel of a smaller fishing village.  Also, the summer is the low season, so you can really rock it on getting a great deal.

Flashing back to the peak of the recession a couple of years ago.  I was in search of finding the perfect family vacation and taking a week away from real life.  I needed the flights to be easy and staying on a budget was important.  After pricing out a few U.S. trips and realizing how expensive that option became, I started moving south.  With the help of some saved up frequent flyer miles and flexible dates, Cancun was the way to go.  Knowing that I am not a huge fan of the huge mega resorts, but still love having the option of a different restaurant every night, I decided on Playa del Carmen.  Just an hour drive from Cancun, on a beautifully constructed highway, this was the perfect first international trip for our young family.  We were able to score a great beachfront condo and were just steps from the famous 5th Avenue promenade.  We hit a local grocery store for snacks and beer, avoided the huge tourist traps, and found some great unique excursions that didn’t have to break the bank.  We visited a Mayan ruin, snorkeled in cenotes, fished, swam, and overall just relaxed.  Our tour guides treated us like friends, showed us the best the area had to offer, and were an amazing help with our kids.  It doesn’t get much better than relaxing on a boat and eating fresh guacamole while the kids are fishing their little hearts out.

The locals of Playa del Carmen were some of the most family friendly people I have ever encountered!  They catered to my family and actually seemed to enjoy my free spirited (another way of saying wild and crazy) children.  We played in the rain during a Tropical Depression (perfect opportunity to take a break from the sun and teach the kids about bar hopping).  We let the kids indulge in soda, stay up late, sing on the street corners, and run around in Mexican wrestling masks.  We totally let loose…family style!!