Hit the ground running…..

The train pulls in and I step out of the station, armed with my GPS  and hotel reservations and am on my way!  As I cross the bridge, a gust of wind flies through me and I am instantly transported to the Mary Tyler Moore show!  Winds blowing, and Mary gazing up at all the bigness and business of the city!  I am energized!

And then I begin my walk.  I am fully prepared to see homeless people begging for money, in fact I have seen them arguing over who gets which corner.  But what I was not prepared to see was a homeless vet, younger than I, sitting down, wearing his medals, with a sign next to him asking for help.  For the whole walk to the hotel, I could not shake it.  My mind kept going back to how does this happen?  In fact this kept creeping up on me my whole trip.  I will get back to this periodically, but to go onto a lighter note, I did finally arrive at my hotel!

It was the same hotel as the guests from Oprah stay at!  That made me all the more sure that I would run into her!

This is the view from my window if I zoomed all the way out and stood on the farthest edge of the window and then squinted!  The other side of the window?  Cement.  I wondered if Oprah’s guest ever stayed in this room?

AAHHHH!!!  A big bed all for myself!

Fancy shmancy soaps dans la salle de bain!

The hotel was older, lets call it more historical, but full of some great details often overlooked in the newer modern hotels.

Character filled nooks.

And fancy shmancy elevator doors!

Here We Go!

Late one Wednesday evening, the night before my birthday, my husband says he needs to give me my present a little bit early.  He says I need to have it now, in order to prepare.  Prepare for what, exactly?  Looks like I am heading to Chicago the next day and spending the night! Alone!  What time did you say my train leaves in the morning?  8:20 am, you say?  And what time is it now?  10:15 pm?  And you think that is enough time to prepare?  And who exactly is going with me?  Alone you say?  To a city known for its nightlife and jazz clubs?  Hmmmm…..  Well, lets start with the train ride…

So I had it all figured out, at least for the amount of time I had to figure it out; I was going to wile away the time on the train figuring out my life’s goals, fantasizing of the french countryside and journal-ing my thoughts and dreams and whatever else I chose to do.  I naturally assumed I would see Oprah, by the way.    Um, yeah.

Then I met THEM!  THEM? Oh the 3 guys that I thought were on a blue haired tour, but actually ended up being on a train to Omaha, Nebraska to mark off one of their events on their “Bucket List”.  They even had shirts to prove it!  They were 3 retired law enforcement officers, one from the Sheriff’s department, one a city cop and one a state trooper.  Turns out the state trooper and I knew a lot of the same people!  They asked if I would be their fourth in euchre.  They also offered me a bourbon and Pepsi, at 9:00 am.  I took the Pepsi, left the bouron and we never did play euchre.  I think I was just plain intimidating.

The train was only 2 hours late arriving…not the TGV.  But nonetheless, I arrived, ready to walk the 0.8 miles to the hotel and start my adventure!

 

Playing catch up.

Playing catch up!  Tristan graduated from the eighth grade and they have a ceremony kind of thing.  I do not remember this, although my grandmothers never went past the eighth grade, because higher education for women was just not done.  I guess nowadays the public school system looks at this is a congratulatory event.  Well, we got this many through, YEE HAW!

Here Tristan is receiving his Presidential Academic Achievement Award!

His first girlfriend.

India at her Baton/PomPom competition.

Beach with Kids:101

Ok, so we are not the Druggars by any means, however, people often look at me and say, “how do you do it?”  I’m not sure if its my age or that other people just can’t handle the decibel or what, but I prefer to think that it looks harder than it is.  Not to say that having 4 children is a piece of cake by any means, but age spacing makes a big difference.  Each child needs more attention at certain times.  When you see them making stupid choices, that is usually a good sign to spend a bit more time with them.

In any case, this is not a post about stupid choices, but more of a what not to do or a how to about getting a family to the beach without killing someone or forgetting anything. Oh! And to do it easily!

First things first: plan, plan, plan and then make a list.  This list needs to be well thought out and done 1-2 nights before. I recommend 2 nights before, and save the list. Secondly, pack everything the day before except food.  What should be on your list? What should you pack? Start with the basics: Sunscreen and swimsuits, then move to towels, sheet (sand flies off sheets better than blankets), reading material, digging material, chair or umbrella if you wish.  Clothes to change into and diapers, wipes, etc….Now, once you have everything packed, but the food, pack it into the car after dinner.  Get it in there and leave it there.  If you have a ton of stuff and fairly small kids, here is a trick that can help you out.  Yank out a sled out of your garage.  You can put chairs, umbrellas, bags, even a kid sometimes and drag it across the sand.  HOWEVER, if its real windy you better have something to weigh it down, otherwise someone is going to be really angry with you when it hits them in the head!

Now in the morning everyone is going to be running around screaming LAKE! LAKE! LAKE!  Relax, this is normal.  Give them each the task of getting their personal poop in a group (ie: toys for the car) while you pack up snacks.  My children, in fact I believe most children, are not interested in a sit down meal whilst frolicking in the waves.  So, snacks need to be available and ready.  My biggest problem with food at the beach is sand.  I hate grabbing food and I get an extra crunch that was not supposed to be there.  In order to alleviate this I bring prepackaged food; granola bars, peanut butter crackers, carrots and dressing in the packages.  Also, fruit that requires no work, like apples or nectarines, and bottled water.  I then plan to have to buy ice cream and whatever later on.  Don’t believe me about the food?  Take a look:

That look on India’s face is saying, “LuLu, that is gross and full of sand”.   After this day, we will just say that LuLu had her colon exfoliated with the amount of sand she ingested!

A few other tips to help you out.  It may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you some burnt children.  I never have them wear their suits to the beach or water park.  The only time they are dressed before is at the local pool.  The reason for this is many fold.  Swimsuits can irritate little bums and whatnots, especially if sitting too long.  They also give an illusion of sunscreen boundaries, thus making all the edges easy targets for sunburn.  So, I take them into the changing room or bathroom, strip them naked and cover them with sunscreen and then put their suits on.  This way I know I have not missed a spot and I feel better when I do quick re-applications.  Case in point of places missed below:

Once they are lubbed up then get to it!

The main objective with dad, regardless of which beach we are at, is to make a sand castle and pool area with the help of the kids!

When we head to the beach for a day trip we go to South Haven, North Beach.  My in-laws live in Battle Creek, so there is always a pit stop available and a quick visit with Grandma and Grandpa!

Who is that guy?

An in ground pool!

Cold much?

Most people recognize that we are on a tight budget and we even have to budget out these day trips.  Measure how far the beach is from you and calculate your gas, ours was a tank ($60).  Figure your ice cream and whatnots and really that is it!  I think we spent a total of $100.  Unfortunately, even that is pricey for us, and we were missing a teenager that day!  Many magazines and websites keep speaking out about day trips and staycations, but I think you can spend close to the same if you are not careful!

I hope even a little bit was helpful.  I will not claim to be an expert on traveling with kids, but I am working on it as its one of the things that I like to do best!

Sabbatical

So I guess the Onion pits frightened me off.  I have been on an unforseen sabbatical.  Its called life.  Apparently when children are on summer vacation, they decide that I am the person to fulfill their needs and wants.  UGH!  So I will catch up when I can.  Here are a few photos from the end of the year prayer service and picnic!

The little one’s with their uber-fantastic teacher Michelle!

India with great friend Alex and favorite boy, Nick!

India asking for prayers.  Hope her pits don’t smell of onions!

Digger.

 

LuLu me love!

Onion Pits and Other Obscenities

Just a few highly evolved thoughts and ramblings to offer up to you……..

If Adrian wants to improve their image then………

 

hmmmm… well anyway……

My right armpit smells like onions on a Subway sandwich, while my left is more of the milder vidalia variety.  What gives?  I have not had Subway or onions in the last 24 hours?  What?  That was too much information?

This is my day:  Dishwasher is broken and backing up into the sink and leaking through the floor to the basement, my brakes have air in the line AGAIN and are barely moving, my toliet is running and sweating so bad that its dripping profusely all along the pipes in the basement, there is a plastic bead stuck in the track where my lint catcher goes into my dryer, my water/ice maker line that goes to my refrigerator is not connected and I have to prioritize which one gets fixed first.

 

On the other hand, I got a Hot-n-Ready pizza, crazy bread, 4 snack size McFlurries and one large unsweetend tea and paid for it all in quarters.  Yep, that’s my day!