(As in: everything makes you want to, and your kids do nothing but)

Category Archives: Traveling with kids

Every parent imagines the day they can make their child’s greatest dream come true.

It’s the last wish of dying children.

It’s the first thing quarterbacks do after the big Super Bowl win.

Commercials, cartoons and movies have been subversively, subconsciously training us our entire lives to put the annoying mouse with the pre-pubescent girl voice on a pedestal.

After our highly-anticipated trip to Disney this past week, I consider those hidden messages from the “happiest place on Earth” to be more evil than the secret satanic messages when a song is played backwards.

Over the past month, we used Disney as a way to threaten our son into trying to use the potty.

We used Disney to get our daughter to stop whining.

I drew Mickey Mouse hats on our family portrait on the kid’s white board.

Abuela bought them luggage with Elsa and Anna and Teenage Mutant Engine Turtles on it especially for the trip. (I meant to say “Engine.” It’s what the kids still call them.)

None of this adequately prepared me for one of the most hellish vacations of my life.

Let’s start with boarding a bus packed with pale, sweaty, overweight tourists. Standing room only, elbowing pot-bellies and stepping on the slippered toes of white trash girls wearing Elsa dresses and Koolaid stain smiles.

The driver got lost, so we were bumping and jerking along the winding roads near the Magic Kingdom for an extra 20 minutes.

We finally arrived, battered and already sweating.

We were able to see the welcome train roll in with all the famous Disney characters onboard. I was glowing with joy watching my son shout, “Goofy! Pluto!” (While secretly wondering how many of the “actors” are actually pedophiles and whether the princesses have coffee breath.)

first pic

Before we knew what was coming.

We enjoyed the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

The Jungle Cruise was tolerable, despite sitting next to the bellowing Broadway-voiced failed comedian “guide.”

My daughter plugged her ears for the duration of It’s a Small World and that should’ve been the first clue that things were about to go terribly awry.

Shortly after, as we were preparing to go on the Peter Pan ride she said, “I want to go home.”

alma pouting

After much badgering, prying and film noir interrogation, I figured out that she had to pee and didn’t want to use the public restroom.

It was about 10 a.m.

Oh hell no! After the amount of money we paid to go on this magical, cancer-kid dream trip, you’re going to throw a fit because you prefer the comfort of a familiar toilet?

I dragged her screaming to the bathroom, where she proceeded to humiliate me by shouting, “I don’t have to go pee pee! It’s not coming out!” (Which is a crock of shit, but makes me appear abusive to all of the parents in neighboring stalls.)

alma crying

The real reason why she refuses to go is because, “The potty is too loud.” She’s always had an aversion to any noise above a reasonable “inside voice.” Fireworks, loud music, loud movies in the theater… but nothing is more traumatic than a growling, loud potty.

Cruise ships are out of the question.

Airplane potties, never gonna happen.

Those toilets could suck out your intestines with a flick of the flusher.

We spent the next hour and a half trying to convince her to use a bathroom, dragging her to different potties, her berating me and bawling. She’s screaming, “Is the potty loud? The potty is loud!!”

The only thing that eventually worked was promising to immediately buy her a toy upon urination.

The children survived going to the haunted house, but only because we called it the “Hotel Transylvania.” (They LOVE that movie)

Instead, Alma was terrified of going on the Buzz Lightyear ride. She also had some kind of irrational fear that the People Mover was going to transform into Space Mountain.

Breakfast and lunch, both kids were on hunger strike. I resisted the urge to shout, “This shitty mass produced meal cost us 10 bucks per kid! You WILL eat it.”

tons of food

So, here we are sweating and grunting our way through Walt’s version of wonderland while our children barely crack a smile. My feet hurt, I’ve sweat through my underwear and there is NO BEER. Don’t they realize that without a little bit of liquid CALM, parents are highly likely to resort to homicidal violence?

At one point, some self-important , acne-pocked UCF student is telling us we need to relocate our stroller because we are in the “dancing zone” of the Incredibles. Seriously, we’re interfering with the bubble-muscled Mr. Freeze’s electric slide with our inconvenient children.

kids disney1

Time to buy another 5 dollar bottle of water and daydream it’s vodka!

While planning the trip, I had visions of the kids passing out after watching the parade and fireworks, sleeping with satisfied smiles in the stroller.

Instead, my daughter is plugging her ears and frowning while the characters perform outside Cinderella’s castle. (The one that she’s pissed off about because we can’t go inside.)

huck sleeping

We’re hightailing it to the bus before sunset, back to the resort so we can go out to dinner at a normal place where the shitty food doesn’t cost a fortune.

At Olive Garden, it’s our son’s turn to be a complete D-bag. He’s whining for no apparent reason, border line crying for the ENTIRE TIME. I end up taking a bunch of food back to the hotel room only to realize there’s no microwave. (duh)

In a lame attempt to salvage the “vacation” we get up in the morning and watch the kids pick at their pricey breakfast and then rent a two-person bike. So, we shred our calves and drip sweat along a path around the resort so the kids can argue over who gets to ring the ridiculous bell.

kids bike

We go to the Arcade with our card for free games only to learn it has a total of 100 points on it. Each game costs about 40 points or more. Air hockey? 100 points.

It’s cloudy, but we brave the pool anyway. The unheated-freezing from all of the rain-pool. The pool with the bar that’s not open.

poolside misery


Later, the bar opens! We grab a couple of drinks and shuttle the kids to the “kiddie pool.” My son promptly tries to drown himself, twice. In the mad dash to rescue him before CPR becomes necessary, my husband knocks over his entire alcoholic beverage. (You know, the one that costs more than a year of college tuition.)

We finally bail when the sweet New Orleans jazz music is being drowned out by some kid-friendly club shit. (Not to mention the chattering of my son’s teeth.)

We decide to take the kids to the Rainforest Cafe for another authentic theme park experience. My daughter is plugging her ears and cowering every time the fake gorillas start to scream. She is still on hunger strike. The meal is super expensive and I will be tasting the garlic for days.

rainforest cafe2

Don’t let them fool you.

I can’t catch a buzz.

rainforest cafe

We can’t catch a break.

We pack up and leave for Tampa. We had another full night booked at the resort.

Money flushed down the toilet. The very loud, evil toilet.

me and mckenzie

As I held my new niece for the very first time, I marveled at her perfect little face and how fragile and tiny she was. I was impressed by her full head of hair and the tiny lips already poised to smile in her sleep.

Then, I was relieved that she wasn’t mine.

Maybe it’s because the entire drive to Orlando, my children kept throwing their respective Spiderman and Hello Kitty balls on the floor of the car and whining that I needed to pick them back up.

alma ball

The big mark in the middle of her head is a bruise she got when a kid hit her with a swing. She is not a Klingon.

Maybe it’s because my daughter wouldn’t stop yelling and waking her little brother up once he finally fell asleep.

Maybe it’s because my son threw a temper tantrum in the hospital room and started kicking me, then his Nana and then anyone in his general vicinity.

Or, maybe it was watching my daughter cower in front of her own family, melting into nothing because she was uncomfortable about the presence of a baby. She chose to peer out the window as if there was nothing more fascinating than the rooftop of the building next door.

alma window

Maybe it’s the dozen times this past weekend that I had to peel soggy undies over my son’s little legs. (along with a couple chunky poops) To say he’s regressed is an understatement. We’re starting from scratch.

huck potty training

It’s chocolate. Not poop.

Maybe it’s the previous day when we made the mistake AGAIN of going to the beach. We chose a closer one, but that didn’t stop my daughter from complaining about the duration of the trip.

Once we set up our mobile beach home, it wasn’t the sound of waves crashing on the shore or seagulls that filled the air.

It was, “There’s wind in my eye!” “There’s sunscreen in my eye!” “There’s sand on my hands!” “I want my shoes on!” “I want to go in the water!” “I want to go on the sand!” “I want more oranges!” (“We’re out of oranges, honey.” “I want more oranges!!!!”) “Put me deeper in the water!” “Take me closer to the shore!” “My belly hurts!”

All I could think is THANK GOD I have a week off coming up for my birthday. My plan was to have several days of “me time” with stress free trips to the beach, naps and reading for more than ten minutes without passing out from exhaustion. Then, we were going to do our first weekend without the kids since they were born. Stay at a hotel with a pool, drink too much, sleep too much and remember how much we actually enjoy each other’s company.

We drop off the kidlets at my in-laws after the beach so we can grab a couple of adult beverages and drink off the feeling that having kids at all was a giant mistake.

The first thing my mother-in-law says is that they’re heading to Vegas to celebrate their anniversary… the weekend of my birthday when we were going to get away. I die a little inside.

While having drinks, I tell my husband that life will get easier once Huck gets potty trained and that all I need is several days in a row where I can really work with him.

Big mistake. Now, it looks like instead of a staycation, I will be cleaning up piss and shit for a week. Can I just work instead?

So, yeah… that new baby smell does NOTHING for me. I’ll just use baby powder.

The cute itsy bitsy clothes? I’ll buy Alma a doll.

The thrilling feeling of bringing another human being into the world? Been there, done that, twice.

Maybe I would feel differently if one of my kids had been a dud. Maybe we hit the jackpot of batshit crazy and annoying. Maybe we’re not strict enough. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so difficult if I didn’t have to wrap up a shitty weekend and head back to a wretched job.

I love my children, but they are the little sticks of dynamite that have blasted my biological clock.


All that’s left are gears and cogs, tears and daydreams.

mckenzie and matt

Congratulations to my big brother and his wife… and good luck with that.

All Corsa vacations are preceded by a moderate disaster.

One time we had to rush our French Bulldog to the emergency vet for a costly, time-consuming overnight visit that resulted in a diagnosis of “bad gas.”


Another night before leaving on a trip, my husband’s car stopped working.

Stomach bugs, pink eye, even a massive “bomb” dropping onto the hood of my car from the monkey puzzle tree in front of our old bungalow. It never fails.

the bombthe dent

This time, I take the dogs to get their vaccines so they will be up to date for a week at “camp” and the vet notices my Boston Terrier has a hematoma on his ear that will need to be drained.

poor sick del

Tack on 300 more bucks to what was already a hefty bill and my last day before vacation will be spent rushing him to and from the vet. (not to mention he will be wearing the cone of shame while being humped by strange dogs. Double shame.)

That night I also get ridiculously sick. So sick I call in to work at 3am. Yet, my boss text messages me at 6 in the morning and basically begs me to come in anyway.

I do.

I am miserable.

I haven’t washed my hair.

I can’t speak.

I end up leaving early to go to an after-hours clinic for a Z-pack.

While in recovery, I somehow develop a massive swollen gum in the space where my 4th wisdom tooth would’ve been… if I had one there. (but, I don’t) Now, I am kicking off my vacation with wicked jaw pain.

We’re on Cuban time, so my husband and I race around packing and dressing the kids (no small feat) (they have small feet) but then have to sit around wasting time for hours until the rest of the clan is ready to go.

Even then, we must depart in a group.

We’re going in separate cars, but it’s the soldier’s creed. No man left behind.

Anna Maria Island is beautiful and quaint, the vacation house ideal.

beach house

There’s a lagoon-like pool with a sometimes operable waterfall and a minimal amount of beach sand collected on the bottom.

waterfall alma

We are two blocks from the beach.

This should be a great vacation, except for my aching jaw, endless stream of snot and the sensation I have plummeted instantaneously into the 1950’s.

I end up trapped in a bedroom with two insane children hopped up on VACATION, jumping around the bed we’re all expected to share while my husband is downstairs watching the World Cup.

kids in bed

Maybe it was the fear that this was going to become the anticipated routine.

Maybe it was the burgeoning revelation that the entire trip was secretly orchestrated to coincide with the World Cup in order to torture me.

Maybe it was all I could do to keep myself from racing through the home with a burning bra, but I stormed downstairs and demanded the keys to the car to go for a drive.


The next morning after being pummeled all night long by bony elbows and knees, awoken by the sound of my son grinding his teeth in his sleep and the pain in my whole face… I’m still ready to tackle my pre-women’s suffrage duties and help cook breakfast for the house of 12. (My family, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, her two kids, his two kids and one teenage friend of her son)

I remember that they cook their scrambled eggs with oil while I opt for butter or butter spray so they’ll probably find mine bland and inedible. I decide to go for the bacon and start to get the pan when my mother-in-law says, “You need to put it in the microwave first.”


I mentally throw my hands up and avoid cooking bacon for the rest of the trip.

The next day at the beach, Mother Nature valiantly came to my rescue.

I am obsessed with sharks. Terrified of them, adore them, secretly hope and dread for encounters with them.

The very first time I am watching my mother-in-law wade in the water with my daughter on her hip, I spot something unusual a couple of yards behind them. It looked like something pointy and dark sticking up out of the water.

Then there were two.

Then three.

They were moving.

I walked toward abuela Corsa and made a hand motion for her to come toward me.

I could see clearly now there were at least two, possibly three sharks in the water.

I didn’t want to be “that guy” that shouts “SHARK!” and terrifies everyone at the beach. But, then again my mother-in-law is embracing my precious cargo and this scenario is like an unimaginable nightmare.

I remain calm even as my mother-in-law continues to demand to know why I am telling her to come to shore.

Other people see them too, so I have confirmation. These were not dolphins. I know what dolphins are. In fact, we saw some of those later in the day. Completely different swimming behavior.

The same day, we also watched a manatee lumbering along in the shallows.

Late afternoon, the summer storms roll in and I am watching them from our balcony. Billowing, fast-moving, dark clouds. Swirling, hinting at circulation. Palm trees whipping around like witches on broomsticks.



God bless you Mother Nature, you have shaken me from my stress-induced stupor.

The days that followed were filled with moments of joy, stress, hilarity and a healthy dose of awkward.

Perfect example of the latter: One of the said extraneous children along for the trip is about 9 years old.

He’s soft-spoken to the point of being irritating and even more bizarre than I was as a child.

He’s also a bit sneaky.

He and his sister appear to have some kind of arrangement that allows them to cheat and win at card games, hide each others’ crimes and possibly bury bodies in the backyard unnoticed.

At one point, my mother-in-law shouted that she saved me a piece of cheesecake.

Within a matter of seconds, I watched the boy grab the last piece and stick it inside an orange Dixie Cup so nobody would know he did it.

The night before I watched him go for some cheesecake in the freezer and when he saw me watching him, he rushed to open the freezer and put it back but his chicken-like arms were too weak to open the door.

He squeaked out a strange animalistic cry of frustration, like someone squeezed a rabbit REALLY hard.

screaming bunny

To add insult to injury, a short while after he purloined MY piece of cheesecake, he shit it back out in the bathroom ATTACHED to our bedroom.

He is a Junior, so they call him “Tito.”

He shall henceforth be known as Cheesecake Tito to me.

Here’s another good one: In the afternoon, my husband was on the beach mercilessly teasing my sister-in-law and mother-in-law because they have decided they believe mermaids exist. Their scientific proof was viewed on a television show.


That night we’re playing Apples to Apples with the whole family with the exception of my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. He’s apparently holding some kind of grudge because he lost a game years ago to me over the definition of “The Big Bang Theory.”

apples to apples

So, while we’re playing we hear the sound of harmonious singing pouring from the open door to his room. It was like the bewitching melodies belted out by sirens, the ones who lure sailors to their deaths. The mermaids!

So, my husband says “He’s in there, unfurling his mermaid tail.”

I don’t know why, but this made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.

I am a chortler. Maybe the occasional guffaw slips out. I NEVER laugh that hard.

I was crying, I was speaking in tongues, I was HAVING FUN.

Then there was the moment we were waiting for the trolley near a church and the truly Cuban members of the family decided to pose for a picture.


We ended up in Downtown Anna Maria Island, which for the record, does not exist. We were meandering down neighborhood streets looking like lost Okies drenched in sweat.

But, there were magical moments.

I watched my daughter discover the joy of being slammed by waves, overcoming her perpetual fear of the ocean.

kids beach

I saw my son kick around a soccer ball with the big boys until sweat was dripping off his little melon head.

huck soccer ball

I saw sharks, I laughed until I cried and I drank more beer than seems humanly possible.

Yes, I was impaled nightly by little kid limbs. I spent much time trapped in bed watching PBS kid shows on the lousy cable while everyone else screamed about the World Cup downstairs.

little kid limbs

I got a sun rash and gained five pounds. (my weird tooth issue resolved itself after days of gargling salt water)

But, it’s still the best vacation we’ve had with the kids since they were born. Good enough that my poor son is still grieving.

huck depressed

Huck is pouting under that blanket.

I am too.


I’ve been begging my husband for weeks now to go back to the beach. His hesitation is solely based on the temperature of the water. He was worried it would be too cold.

I finally convinced him the water was ready for us, so we chose to go… on Memorial Day weekend.


We’ve done a fair amount of stupid stuff, but this nears the top.

In second place might be choosing to start driving toward the beach at around 11 a.m.

It started out perfect. Both kids fell soundly asleep in the back seat. They stayed asleep while I ran into Publix to get subs and snacks.

Then, we arrive at the beach to find every single parking spot taken.

We drive around waiting for something to open up and miss every single opportunity.

We spot meatheads roaming around looking lost, so we follow them only to discover they’re drunk and have located the car which they need to remove a single item from so they can get back to looking beefy on the beach.

I asked one leathery old lady if they were leaving and she snapped, “After we shower! It’s going to be awhile!”

Countless people were loading up 30 bags of sandy crap into their trunks for so long we would move on to scout out another spot only to watch another driver snag their spot.

The kids are awake and I’m trying to appease them with Lunchables. Ignoring the wads of cheese they’re collecting under their fingernails, the cracker crumbs accumulating in all crevices. (the car seats and theirs)

We were literally driving around parking lots for an hour and a half. We were about to give up, but every parent knows you cannot renege on a trip to the beach when it comes to little kids.

So, we tough it out.

My blood pressure is rising.

I am wishing I could trade the Gatorade in for a bottle of Vodka.

We find a spot and it’s like the heavens have opened up and the light of God is shining down on us.

Oh, wait… it’s just the glare of the scorching sun made more intense by bouncing off the
hot-as-coals sand.

My son’s experience with sand is limited, so he immediately starts whining that we need to pick him up because it’s “dirty.”

My daughter is shuffling down the boardwalk so slowly in her flip-flops, exacerbated beachgoers are grunting in irritation and pushing past.

Like pack mules, we haul our load of beach junk and one solid little dude with sandophobia to a spot where we can set up shop.

Alma is thrilled and immediately starts playing with sand. Huxley is puzzled as to why everyone thinks it’s okay to coat yourself in inedible sugar that’s really just glorified dirt.

Needless to say, I’m already sweating… mostly the perspiration of STRESS.

So, we head to the water. The second Alma’s teeny feet hit the wet sand, she starts shrieking that she doesn’t want to go in the water.

I pick her up and carry her crying into the ocean. It takes a solid 15 minutes before she realizes I am not going to dump her head first under a wave and watch her flounder for fun. (nothing like watching hot, young, childless folk give you dirty looks because you’re forcing your kid into the ocean)

My son had a blast in the water. He would LOVE it if we dumped him head first under a wave for shits and giggles. In fact, even if you don’t, he’s going to spend the next hour TRYING.

We’re in and out of the water for about an hour before the notorious and punctual Florida storm clouds start to roll in. My experience with this is so vast, I can predict the amount of time before the rain reaches the beach.

I say we have about 15 more minutes before we need to head back to the car when the first bolt of lightning strikes.

Alma starts whining and grinding her teeth and I know we have to hightail it.

I am rushing ashore to start the Sisyphean task of loading up our beach gear, while the throngs of scantily clad teenagers continue to shimmy to Rihanna and drink their secret booze.

The crispy, burnt old folks with their rotund bellies popping out over their swim trunks are posted up in lawn chairs like suntanning slugs.

No one is moving but us. We have a child that is about to lose her shit, so we are practically RUNNING.

Even once you get everything and everyone to the parking lot, you’re faced with a logistical nightmare: How do you get your sandy, wet children from their skin-tight soaked swimsuits into the car without ruining the car?

Reluctant to peel off their suits and reveal their nudity to the inevitable perverts lurking around, I end up telling my daughter to stand inside the car behind the driver’s side door so I can attempt to peel off her suit, which is basically enmeshed with her body. Clumps of wet sand fall to the floor of the car and I squeeze her still dripping body into clean clothes.

One kid down.

My husband was in charge of Huck. I am pretty sure some lucky sicko got a glance at his junk, cause getting a kid out of a swimsuit AND a swim diaper is pretty much impossible to do discreetly.

You’d think the kids would be exhausted from our travails, but instead they decide to let out ear-piercing screams in unison for half the ride home. We ended up rolling down the windows to try and drown it out or shut them up.

My husband turns to me and says, “The only reason why we will ever go to the beach again is for the kids, because this was horrible.”

I turn and ask Alma if she had fun. She says she made a star with sand on the beach and that was kind of fun.

So, let’s just buy a bucket of sand and STAY HOME!

(NOTE: Absolutely no pictures were taken of this lovely day for obvious reasons)

I didn’t realize that as a parent I would unintentionally terrify my children on a regular basis.

Last night, I’m reading Alma a picture book and we were on the sea creatures page. I pointed at the lobster and said, “I loooove to eat lobster.”


She looked horrified and said, “You can’t eat that!”

Guess I shouldn’t tell her about where her chicken nuggets and fish sticks come from. I mean, they are called “chicken” nuggets and “fish” sticks. Guess she hasn’t made the connection yet.

The other book I chose to read her last night was all about the tooth fairy.

Yes, honey. Part of your body will fall off within a handful of years and some creepy little person will sneak in while you’re sleeping to steal it and leave you with some money.

tooth fairy

It’s no wonder we all have nightmares as adults about our teeth falling out. It’s some latent PTSD from learning about the tooth fairy as toddlers.

teeth falling out

This past weekend we took the kids to the Tampa Bay Airfest. We were trapped in bumper to bumper traffic in the seedy neighborhood near the Air Force Base for at least an hour. We got to spend several minutes inspecting each haunted house and shanty. At least I got a picture of this gem.

glamour shots

Super proud of our Glamour Shots from ’89?

By the time we got to the base, Alma was “pissing her pantalones” as my husband would say.

It was the perfect opportunity to introduce my daughter to the terrors of the Porta-Potty.

porta potty

I’m holding her over an enormous hole filled with neon blue water, used tampons and other people’s crap.

She’s chanting repeatedly, “I can’t go. I can’t go.”

After it’s over, I can tell she’s never going to go in another public restroom again.

Then, we sit around and watch F-16 fighter jets (Alma calls them “Fire Jets”) nearly collide and crash into the crowd, bursting our ear drums.

alma scared

Yay! Our little aviation enthusiast is now going to be more inclined to take the Greyhound.

Our son had a blast. Our daughter was too scared to even eat a cheeseburger.


I recently made the mistake of watching Goonies with the kids. Within minutes, I realize that showing toddlers a movie that revolves around murderous Mafia-linked jailbirds with a deformed sibling chained in a basement was probably not the best call. (I turned it off before we really got to know the Fratellis)


So, I think I am going to try to do a better job of not traumatizing my children.

“No, baby, you will never have lumps of fat that sprout on your chest, or bleed profusely once a month.”

“Farmers raise chickens and goats because they’re just so darn cute!”

“The lobster I eat has absolutely nothing to do with Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. This one is fake, like tofu.” (Which Alma calls “Toe Food.” Sounds about right.)

“The tooth fairy is me. Me and dad. We determine how much money you’ll get while you’re sleeping. Those old teeth? Garbage can little friend.”

It was a huge weekend, anticipated for weeks.

Nana was coming to visit.

I asked Alma repeatedly what she wanted to do with Nana when she came to stay with us for a couple of days. She said “she’ll give me bunny ears.”

The chick has a memory like an elephant. (What exactly is it that elephants remember? That their life is boring? That bathing is still unnecessary although you smell that foul?)


She actually remembers that Nana gave her and Huck bunny ears around this time last year for Easter. She was 2 then.

A Nana visit means great anticipation.

Not for Alma. She has to be reminded about how many days are left. She still thinks anytime after today is “tomorrow.”

Huck has no concept of time, particularly when it comes to when it is appropriate to wake up screaming and demanding milk.

A Nana visit means I am counting down the days until I have a spare moment alone with my husband.

I count down the days until I can have a conversation with my mother that’s not over the phone and interrupted by her News Director looming over her at the top of the 5 o’clock newscast. (she also works in this Godforsaken business)

So, when I get the text message from my mother saying her flight has been delayed by an hour I immediately feel a lump swell up in my throat like a rock.

Then I get all weirdly hypochondriacal and convince myself the cramp in my calf is a blood clot and I am about to die without seeing my mom one last time and my children will grow up motherless and turn into drug addicts.

blood clot

She still arrived in time to see the kids before they went to bed.

We still got to go to dinner.

It was probably just a leg cramp.

We had a wonderful visit with one exception. It’s those damn expectations that destroy everything.

We made plans to go to the beach on Sunday, just my mom and me and the kidlets. (My husband can feign feeling left out, but we all know he gets the best part of that deal)

We started by swinging by McDonald’s to get the kids something quick to eat. My mom totally freaked out while I was driving because Alma’s egg white was sliding out of her sandwich. Like… full on crisis mode.

egg white mcmuffin

Huck’s oatmeal was too hot and had chunks of fruit that could pose a choking hazard.

So, we ended up sitting in the Target parking lot waiting for an eternity for the kids to finish their food.

I think my mother underestimated just how long it takes my daughter to consume even a small portion of food. Even without television to distract her, each individual bite comes with a 3-4 minutes pause in between. It’s like she has to digest each morsel before moving on to the next.

So, we eventually make it inside the Target where I spend the college funds we were never going to start buying a bunch of crap for the beach.

Got a cooler, umbrella, weird screw shaped thingie to get the umbrella into the ground, sunscreen (which is ridiculously expensive… and is probably just lotion with ZERO SPF… and we’re all gonna die of cancer anyway) and fruit, cheese and juice.

Oh, and Minnie Mouse flip flops because Alma refused to leave the house without wearing her pink cowgirl boots.

We find parking at the beach despite it being Spring Break. I wait in line at the parking pay station for some dipshit with a million quarters to pay. Seriously, are you really going to stay at the beach until TOMORROW?

That dipshit is followed by another dipshit who doesn’t understand which buttons to push.

That dipshit is followed by another dipshit who doesn’t remember what their parking space number was. So, they just keep trying endless combinations like they’re trying to crack a safe filled with cash.

Finally, we pay and start to load up our gear. We managed to find a way to carry all of our crap, without realizing that we also have to schlep two small human beings across a busy parking lot.

Like two pack mules with midgets, we wobble across the boardwalk to the beach.

pack mules

On the other side, we’re immediately slammed in the face by gale force winds, pelted by sheets of sand. The kids burst into tears simultaneously, cowering and grabbing at the beach chairs I’m holding. The strap is digging into my shoulder like a scythe.

Alma is screaming that her flip flops are digging into her feet.

But, we keep moving. There has been much to do about this beach day. The last cancellation of a beach day led to a wild tantrum by my daughter that could’ve gotten her Baker Acted.

child straight jacket

We end up trying to set up shop behind a sand dune, but we were being sandblasted. The kids were terrified. It was Lawrence of Arabia dermabrasion for babies.

lawrence of arabia

So, we find a way to gather up our enormous haul and drag the screaming kids back to the car.

Poor things had sand in their eyes.

My mother and I were chewing grit for the rest of the day.

The inside of my purse could fill an hourglass and then some.

We ended up trying to salvage the day by heading to a park. I had to sit and watch our stuff because Lord knows that even in St. Pete some crackhead will steal your purse. My mother was watching the kids on the playground and had the revelation that it’s impossible to keep them both safe.

Alma is ideal for snatching and Huxley is hell-bent on playground suicide.

The wind was just as strong. Check out my kids speeding down a raceway. Or just sitting in a stationary car.

race car

My mom had the genius idea of filling their buckets with ice from the cooler so they could play with it like sand. Note to self and to any Florida moms. Ice is cheap or free and won’t get stuck in anyone’s crevices.

ice buckets

This is the kind of afternoon that leads to what we refer to as the “cruise ship effect.” There is much consumption of alcohol followed by big evening plans that turn into an unusually early bedtime.

It’s like, “Let’s hit the midnight buffet! Yeah!” Then, you wake up drooling at 2:30am.

I actually caught my mom snoring during “The Road.” And she loves Viggo Yellow Rice Mortensen.

the road

I had a great time, but it was no day at the beach.

Whenever my husband tells me he’s going out of town on business, my stomach sinks. I feel pressure under my tongue like I’m going to vomit. I expect it’s similar to how I would feel if I were to find out I was expecting a third child.

pregnancy test

Ok, maybe not that bad… but close.

I know it means I will inevitably be late for work, arriving frazzled, in border-line meltdown mode. That’s how I feel when I am 5 to 10 minutes late, even if I work through lunch. You can imagine how I feel when I’m actually out sick. I was racked with guilt when I was in the hospital with MRSA.

I am not normal.

My life is planned down the second.

Alma demanded braids this morning. That’s all it took to ensure I was 5 minutes late. Hard to believe? I frequently have to decide whether to pee before work or arrive on time.

My “lunch breaks” are spent buying milk to store in the work fridge and canceling all of the appointments I can’t make because I can’t even use a vacation day to see a Doctor. I’m just so valuable.

So valuable that I could create a daily list of criticisms longer than my grocery list. We have two kids. It’s a long-ass list.

work fortune

Got this fortune this weekend. Couldn’t stop laughing.

I see the sunrise on the way to work. I watch it set on the drive home. I know, I know… there are people who would say, “Be grateful you have a job.” Oh, I am.

It’s so awesome to be able to afford to enjoy absolutely NO time with my children or husband.

Well, I do have my weekends. This past weekend was a blast. We had a party to celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday. I ate too much, drank too much wine and had to delete all pictures where you could see my arms. (Not a fan of my arms right now. I have “drink too much” arms. Not even lugging around a 30 pound kid can cure that.)

Birthday parties are a blur. Afterward you question whether you were rude to anyone, did the food taste good and WHAT HAVE WE DONE BY GIVING OUR TODDLERS CAKE AND CHOCOLATE??


Nothing compares to post-birthday party meltdowns.

Sunday, we took the kids to a state park to enjoy the great outdoors. Nothing great about my daughter demanding I carry her for miles through snake-infested woods, sweating my ass off and constantly having to stop so she could throw sticks in the river.

My son had a blast. He’s a future hiker.


Alma… she’s a future shopper.

She spent an hour before leaving crying hysterically because we wouldn’t let her wear a white lace skirt and light pink church shoes to go hiking.

alma crying

I knew we made a mistake when after just a couple of minutes of walking she started saying, “I’m sweating. My knees hurt. I’m hungry.” Her “knees” hurt?

Yeah, that’s a new thing. “I can’t walk up the stairs because my knees hurt. My feet hurt and my arms and my toes.” She’s a classic bullshitter.

The day at the park started out with us saying, “Maybe the kids will be ready soon to try out camping.”

It ended with us saying, “Let’s never leave the house again.”

We’re terrified to even go out to eat anymore.

HELP, we’re being held hostage by two very small people with astonishing strength and an inability to communicate effectively!!


You’d think all of the action of the busy weekend would wipe the kids out and they would sleep like logs.

My daughter slept like a log, if you picture a little blonde log rolling out of a bed at 2 a.m. and screaming incoherently, “I don’t want i! I don’t want it!” (I have no idea why she was saying that)


Throw in the fact that this weekend one of the dogs snatched away a piece of bread packed with the other dog’s medication and then proceeded to projectile vomit around the house for an hour and you might begin to understand why I have “drink too much” arms.

My husband and I played a game to entertain ourselves in public places long before we had children. You look for drunk toddlers.

Try it out the next time you’re stuck at the airport. Within minutes you’ll spot some 2-year-old so wasted he’s drooling. Then you’ll see a 1-year-old stumbling around and still sucking down the drink. They cry, scream and make complete asses of themselves.

It’s a great game.

I’ll use my son as an example. Look at this lush, trying to sit on a tiny chair and chugging! Clearly, he’s blitzed. Next thing you know, he’ll be passed out, pissing himself.


Our second vacation with the kids, we decided it made more sense to drive. We wanted to save money and didn’t want to deal with whole airport fiasco like the last time. The drive from Tampa to North Carolina wasn’t so bad. We drove overnight so the kids could sleep and they mostly did. We got there in the morning and the plan was for my husband to take a nap as soon as we got there.

Within hours, he started to feel sick to his stomach.

Then the puking began.

He was laid up in bed for 24 hours, periodically rising from the dead to give the potty a long embrace.

Shortly after midnight, the virus wrapped its slimy tentacles around my daughter. She destroyed a comforter, so we relocated to another bed in the house where she proceeded to puke all over again. She would puke, cry, I would comfort her, start laundry, relocate and then the whole process would begin again. Eventually, we ran out of unused sheets and beds and opted for a towel on a bare mattress.

Shortly after breakfast, it got me.

My son is apparently some kind of mutant soldier or machine. Never got it. (little S.O.B.) (Wait, that means I’m the “B”… nevermind)

soldier huck

At least somebody had fun.

So, it was pretty much 3 days quarantined in a guest house, sleeping and puking.

By the time we got to my mom’s in South Carolina, everyone had recovered. By the last day of the trip, it hit my mother like a brick wall. Her joyfully insane boyfriend was setting off fireworks in the backyard while Alma screamed in terror and my mom kept shouting “STOP IT!” from her bed in between vomiting in a bucket with her loyal dog by her side.

That was the night we drove home. My son screamed the entire way home. Think I’m kidding? I’m not. I silently cried so much that there were no more tears by the time we got home.

Pulling into the driveway, my husband and I nearly said simultaneously, “We are never going on vacation again.”

Our kids? Well, they promptly fell peacefully asleep the second we arrived home.

sleeping alma

sleeping huck
We are masochists, stupid enough to envision our children prancing through wildflowers while we picnic and drink wine, dozing in the sun.

flowers prancing

Gorgeous, right? Taken from the side of the road after stepping out of a car. Nope, no fun was had here.

Why can’t we just picture the reality of screaming children, endless vomiting and a nervous breakdown and STAY HOME? Maybe because all of the rest of you hide your misery, post awesome pics from Disney and the beach, preferring to say you had a fantastic, relaxing vacation.

You’re all full of shit though, right? Right???

Here’s me before having kids:

barcelona-beaches“I’m not going to be one of those parents who won’t travel because it’s too difficult with children. I’ll just take an umbrella stroller, a Baby Bjorn and we’ll hop a flight to Barcelona.”

Sounds like a joke, but it’s not. We seriously considered taking a trip to Spain the year our daughter was born. We checked out hotels with cribs you can rent and planned day trips to a beach nearby.

We weren’t just naive.  We were morons.

Our first trip with our daughter was stressful, but tolerable. We simply visited my mother in South Carolina and drove to see my Dad and his wife in North Carolina and then flew back home.

We weren’t anticipating conceiving our second child with so much ease, so that was the last relatively simple trip we will EVER take in our LIFE.

The next vacation was to Key West with the entire Cuban Cluster. (See previous post)

We figured if we just packed like champs, it would be a breeze.  The Cluster drove.  It’s just a short flight from St. Pete to the Keys.  We figured that would be better than driving for several hours with screaming, miserable kids, right?


We found ourselves in the airport parking lot, what seems like miles from the terminal with two small children, two hulking car seats, one massive stroller and three big bags packed with all of the crap you could possibly need. What could you need during a four-day trip to Key West? Diapers, wipes, formula, sunscreen, tons of clothes because they will destroy them all with vomit, pee and poop, medicine, (because all children inevitably get sick the day huck-planebefore a vacation) books, toys and blankets.  By the time we figured out the logistics of just checking in, which was nearly impossible, I was drenched in sweat, my blood pressure was through the roof and I just wanted to go back to work.

Even if your kids don’t scream and cry on the flight, they will wiggle, kick and even laugh too loudly. They will want food and milk and the one toy you forgot to pack.

Key West was sweltering and you have to walk everywhere.  Slather the kids in sunscreen, walk a marathon and then you can’t even get blitzed because you’re with your whole family and oh, yeah …  the kids are there.  Nothing like watching the whole rest of the world have a blast on vacation while you suffer.

While middle-aged women with frosted hair are guzzling Mojitos, you’re in a muddy bathroom without A/C trying to change a diaper on the floor because restaurants just assume nobody would be stupid enough to bring a baby to Key West.

huck-nightOur children simply can’t hang with the idea of sleeping somewhere different.  My son was probably six months old at the time.  If he could’ve talked he would’ve been saying, “This f&^ing Pack ‘N Play is a bunchabullshit.”  He woke up every single hour.  We took turns, but when it’s that frequent ain’t NOBODY sleepin’.

My daughter slept in bed with us, but only when we would sleep with her.  It was an 8 p.m. curfew, the next two hours spent staring at the ceiling, getting kicked repeatedly and wondering why we ever had children.

Cheetohs, snot & in need of a nap

Cheetohs, snot & in need of a nap

Trips around town were strung together by a series of meltdowns.  A store accused my daughter of breaking a maraca that probably cost .10 cents to make.  My husband and I took turns consoling my hysterical son during dinner at a fancy restaurant.  A lunch was ruined by my daughter screaming for no apparent reason.

My amazing mother-in-law did watch the kids for an afternoon, so the rest of us could go snorkeling.  I had a blast, but my husband and sister-in-law nearly barfed on the ride back to shore.

But, that all didn’t stop us from trying to go on vacation with the kids again.  And we decided to drive!

That’s a story for another time.