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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I have trouble writing about the bigness of vacations because so much stuff happens, but most of it is the day-to-day that really doesn't lend itself to an interesting blog.  So I'll touch on it a little, then I have to get back to writing Chapters 4 - . . . infinity of the Bigger Story. . . story.

We vacation in Nags Head.  This year we decided to stay Sunday to Sunday.  If you vacation Saturday to Saturday and understand what Saturday beach traffic means, then consider saving yourself the knuckle whitening stress of bumper to bumper traffic and go Sunday next year.  It worked for us.


Friday while I was at work, Leslie got  most of our stuff ready to go.  She packed the kids, herself, the overnight bag, the groceries, toiletries and bedding.  I packed myself.  50-50.  That's how we roll.  Anyway, she packed during the day, unless she was working from home on Friday and her coworkers are reading this, in which case, she packed late late that night after working a full day in our home office.  But anyway, when I got home it was all packed.


My NON tongue-in-cheek 50/50 piece comes from my roll which is. . . take the packed stuff and put it in the car.  She still does the lion's share by a fair margin, but packing the mini van sucks.  I opened the garage door and started packing.  I think I got distracted because at some point our neighbor knocked on the door and said. . . "did you know your garage door was open and that your minivan trunk is open?"  and I responded that we were going to the beach and that I was packing.  And it took longer than it probably should have to convince her that I wasn't lying because I think the minivan was empty still and the trunk lid had been open for a couple hours.  REGARDLESS. . . I got it packed.


 We had a few last minute things to pack in the morning (shower stuff, jammies, slippers, etc) then we were off to the races.


EXCEPT THAT. . .


Lily was melting down.  It started about an hour before we left and nothing could get her back under control.  She was whining, wouldn't eat, wouldn't go on the potty, was angry at being fastened into the car and slapping at Leslie while she pushed her into place and had no interest in the movie we'd put into the portable DVD player that is often the savior of long car rides.


"She'll calm down once we're driving," we told ourselves.


We got both kids in the car and my wife was grabbing something from the house and came out just in time for me to turn the key in the ignition and for it to go. . . "Clickclickclickclickclick" instead of "Runinininin-vroom".  From outside the minivan her eyes got wide and she mouthed, "what's that?" and I calmly replied, "What the hell do you think it is?" at the top of my lungs only the "hell" part was in my head and not out loud because the kids were sitting there.  I tried again. . . "Clickclickclickclickclick".


"Is the battery dead?"

"Probably," I replied, before attempting to make it about her, "have you ever had your battery replaced?"
"I don't think so."
"Batteries usually last 5 years or so." In my head I think I was trying to make some sort of passive-aggressive argument for this being her fault as a result of her failure to replace the battery before it went dead.  I had conveniently compartmentalized any memory of the hours I'd left the trunk open the previous night.

I got out of the car ran into the house for the keys to MY car.  I opened the trunk and got out the jumper cables, popped the hood, and clipped the red to plus or the black to plus or something. . . I can never remember.  Ultimately it doesn't matter as long is plus is to plus and minus is to minus, but whenever I jump a car my brain goes back to some partially obscured memory of a conversation with my father that goes like this:


"If you fasten the cables to the wrong posts your battery will explode!!!"


And that's all I remember.  So I fastened the battery up and turned on the car and then popped the minivan hood and followed red (+) to red (+) and black (-) to black (-).  I first clanged the two clips together though, because it sends out a shower of sparks if the battery is connected to them securely, and also (and, I'll admit, primarily) because it looks so badass when the sparks shoot out.


From inside the minivan, Leslie turned the key to a satisfying, "Runinininin-vroom".  While the cars were connected we talked about what we'd do if it didn't charge the battery (for whatever reason) and calmed Emma down (she was getting upset because this is NOT the way family vacations are supposed to start).  I disconnected the jumper cables, closed the hoods and put my keys back in the house.


We have a AAA membership and I know they'd have come out and replaced the battery if push came to shove, but while my wife ran in the house to try the still angry and crying Lily on the potty again, and after I felt a suitable amount of time had passed, I shut off the minivan, prayed to the flying spaghetti monster, and turned the key. . .


"Runinininin-vroom".  LIKE A BOSS.


At this point my wife was back, placing the struggling and upset Lily back in her carseat before climbing in the van herself.  She got settled in and I said, "Just a sec," and decided to make a last second pit stop myself before we took off.  Only. . . only I had the minivan in reverse and was just holding us in place with my foot on the brake.  When I opened the door and climbed out, the van started moving backward and Leslie shouted, "Jim!"


I jumped back into the fucking van.  It was a "fucking" van at this point, despite every single solitary issue that had gone wrong being solely my fault, and shoved down on the e-brake before having the presence of mind to push the brake and bring the van back into park.


Shovels and brooms and my daughter's 10U softball banner (inexplicably still hanging in our garage months after the season ended) had clattered to the floor of the garage and I had to pull back inside far enough that the door wasn't wedged open by the crap still hanging on the wall.


I wanted to throw stuff.  I got out and moved all the crap out of the way and then just said "fuck-it" and walked into the house to pee and cool off before returning to the van to leave.  Emma was crying at this point.  "This is NOT how family vacations are supposed to start!"  Lily continued her own tearful agreement.


I took a long deep breath and climbed back into the van before putting it in reverse backing out.  I felt the van bump something and made my peace with it (whatever. . . the car runs over it, we pick it up later) . . . until stuff started to snap and break and then I was like. . . NOW what?  At this point I started laughing, because at a certain level of stress you just top off and start to giggle like a school girl.  Not giggling madly. . . just laughing at the comedy of the situation.


I got out. . . I had shattered the push broom and bent into a 30 degree angle the handle of (and this made me a little sad) the steel core snow shovel we had gotten during "Snowmageddon" of two years ago.  I kicked the broom remains out from under the minivan, tossed the shovel to the front of the van and climbed in.  While I was out Leslie had started laughing and Emma, still crying, was saying very forcefully, "It's NOT FUNNY" and Leslie was attempting to calm her down.  Lily continued to whine and cry unabated.


Eventually we closed the garage door and drove, and although Lily did NOT calm down once we started to drive, she DID calm down about 30 - 45 minutes later with the aid of some fruit snacks or gummi bears or something, I can't remember.  Leslie handled that part.  Emma also settled in and just hoped that the vacation would get a LOT better and end more happily than it began.


And it did. . .



























































The End. 


40 comments:

  1. Yeah, we have the same 50/50 thing at our house. I make the lists, pack the bags, organize all the items, make sure nothing gets forgotten, and my husband puts it all in the car.

    50/50 my ass.

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    1. hahahahah. . . did I see you're (or were) in OCMD? Or was that an old pic? We used to vacation there. Lots more to do, but usually way bigger crowds. We're slower paced than once we were.

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  2. Ah, the classic 'Lowering Of The Holiday Expectations' opening gambit. Very clever. Although I see where you went wrong, you pray to the flying spaghetti monster for flat tyres, not batteries. Rookie mistake.

    Awesome sandcastle city, by the way!

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    1. I know! I totally did it without even trying too!

      thanks!

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  3. The problem with vacations is that they start and end with travel. With kids. And stuff. And stress and something going wrong and always an argument and that is why I never go anywhere anymore. The beach looked fun, though ;)

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  4. Forget vacations, I feel like that is the scenario anytime we try to leave the house. Subtract one kid and add a dog and a crazy cat that thinks he's a dog. :)

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    1. haha. . . well, when you start out like crap, you're almost certain to get better.

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  5. great pics!! ..glad you eventually were able to have a good vacation.. I really hate Murphy's Law sometimes.

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    1. yeah, it was a good vacation, thanks, Jaime.

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  6. HILARIOUS. From start to finish. The neighbour kid reminds of the kid from "Home Alone", who distracts everyone from counting Kevin.
    Glad the holiday was great!

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  7. You're such a "guy" - you write about the packing and the snow shovel getting bashed and then just give us photos of all the good stuff! The photos tell a whole other story. The soft, beautiful, loving, fun filled one that, as a mom, I would have written about - big surprise huh? Love the picture of Leslie and Emma! I liked the wordless part of the story the best!

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    1. Well, Karen, that was the idea. . . write about all the bad shit, and then tease that emma hoped it would get better. . . write "and it did" and then let the pictures act as like this overwhelming slideshow of awesome fun pics of all the shit we did so that the folks reading the blog would come away going. . . okay, that looks like a lot of awesome stuff happened after a shitty beginning.

      Did I overthink it?

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  8. One of the best comedy of errors I've read in a while, and even better for being true! Well, not great for you while it was happening, but hey, you got a great blog post out of it, right?? The pics are gorgeous, I hope the vacation turned out as lovely as they did.

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    1. It did. It had rocky parts too, but overall was a nice time with my family, and my folks, and my in-laws!

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  9. Aw, Jim. I'm so glad it ended up well. I've totally had those everything-keeps-going-wrong days. They're the worst. But I'm glad it all happened at the beginning of the trip, and not the end. You can forgive anything at the beginning of a trip, I think. At the end of a trip, you're already cranky about having to go home, so you don't want ANYTHING more to go wrong.

    Aw, the kiddos! Thank you for the photos. They're great. You guys deserved an amazing vacation. And I'm glad you're back. We missed you!

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    1. All's well that ends well. I should have titled this blog post that. . . what's Shakespeare going to do? SUE ME??? HAHAHAHAHA. . . in your FACE Shakespeare!

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    2. Shakespeare would not sue you, because he said, "the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." (Which contrary to popular belief had nothing to do with killing lawyers. HA THAT WACKY SHAKESPEARE WITH HIS WORDPLAY.)

      Also, I forgot to mention: my dad's the same way with the exploding-battery-jumper-cable thing. Once in college, when I had my first car, a friend needed a jump, and I was all, "No, because my battery will explode, my dad says so" and that friend thought I was nuts. I still kind of think my battery will explode if I get a jump. Can't help it.

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  10. I was giggling long before the pulverized broom and bent shovel. Hahaha!

    I'm glad you guys had a nice vacation--the photos are wonderful.

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  11. Yikes. I'm glad you had a nice vacation despite the eventful start.

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    1. soooo eventful. But really only a bent shovel, broken broom and meltdown away from near perfection.

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  12. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad your vacation went better than the beginning of your drive. Saw your photos on instagram and wondered where you had went, looks gorgeous!

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    1. Yeah, it's nice. I'm sure there are prettier beach destinations, but it's soooooo laid back. Very non-touristy. Very empty beaches.

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  13. Those are some great pictures! It looks like you guys had fun, but, really, it had to get better after that start!

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  14. I must not show Alex your sandcastles or he will be pissed.....
    I'm glad you had a good time. Why do all vacations start like that?!? We always manage to lose a tire every time we travel. The battery right out of the gate is a much better way to go. Just sayin.

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    1. Yeah, I'm glad we were stuck at home if we had to be stuck anywhere.

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  15. I always write out these big comments on my phone, then they never post, and yet I still keep trying. Anywho...yeah.

    50/50 in my house means I pack for everyone...EVERYONE...and I carry a lot of it to the car. Chivalry doesn't live here. Judging from the fact that you expect your wife to do things like replace a car battery...I assume it doesn't live with you, either. You should be nicer to your wonderful wife ;) #teamleslie Anyhow, glad the rest of the vaca went well. Love beach vacations...they are the best.

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    1. that doesn't seem like 50/50. . . but I'm no engineer. Or wait. . . I am actually!

      I'll try to be nicer.

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  16. I found your blog after reading about the young man at Target. I am still crying & laughing over the vacation start. It brings back so many memories of the melt downs we started every trip to Ocean Isle and Disney and to where ever we went. LOL My dear husband still gets shaky at the thought of starting out a trip.(Our boys are grown) LOL! We have wonderful memories of our boys once we got over the start. Well there were some moments we try not to remember. Enjoy your family. We did and now we do sit back and say, "Yes, they are just like you". Lingu

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    1. I'm glad you found me! Thanks for commenting. The start of the trip was about the worst. The rest of the trip was a breeze. Both kids were awesome throughout. I remember the bad because it makes for great stories, I remember the good because it makes for great memories!

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  17. Your pictures are gorgeous and do not reveal any sign of any meltdown. =)

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    1. Thank you! I'm not going to lie. . . I didn't take even one meltdown picture. That's why they look like that.

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  18. Nags Head - great vacation spot. We live in Kill Devil Hills with my son who is on "the spectrum" along with a few other things. At times, the beach can be a great therapy for him other times, the sand and saltwater bother the shit out of him. Cheers to the meltdowns and the food that usually will eventually help calm them down.

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    1. Yeah, it was hit or miss with Lily too. She was either begging me to stand in the blue waves (deep water) or the white waves (shallow water) . . . OR. . . eating or throwing sand. Hit or miss. Have you ever had him participate in the surf therapy thing? I hear some kids really love it. Lily's gross motor skills wouldn't allow.

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    2. For the past two years Seth has participated in the Surfing for Autism event held yearly in Nags Head. Other then that, most of his actual therapy takes place in home. When he was younger I would take him to the beach for "therapy" play; water, sand and wind. He use to have issues with wind and esp with strong cold winds sweeping his face. He is much better with that now. At least this past year he has been. Yesterday, he wanted NOTHING to do with the beach, surf or sound. He preferred to have meltdown over meltdown because he was bored and that I (his mom) just didn't understand him. Sigh.

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  20. I considered your web journal in the wake of perusing about the adolescent man at Target. I am still shouting & giggling over the get-away begin. It carries such a large number of remembrances of the melt downs we began each outing to Ocean Isle and Disney and to where ever we went summer family vacation ideas .

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  21. i had a very good spending a lot of time in bandipur resorts 2 days I had so many memoriable movements and br hills resorts too

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