Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Not Tonight Honey.

I had a Red Bull and two Madeline cookies for lunch today if you've been wondering how life with three under four is going. With a near nineteen pound three month old, you'd think I'd be skinnier than I am and my arms (well, at least my right arm) more toned than they currently are. I'm here to tell you that neither is the case. In fact, I've still got twenty pounds to lose despite my short stint with weight loss snack bars. I mean, I'm sure the Madelines and copious amounts of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup aren't helping matters but come on now! 

Despite having washed my face and brushed my teeth for the night only moments earlier, here I am sitting on the couch, laptop popped open having just grabbed a Hershey bar from the fridge. We're the Millers is playing on TV and serves as semi-adequate background noise. I also totally just lied to you- I definitely didn't wash my face before and rarely ever do before bed, it just made the sentence flow a bit better so I decided to throw it in there. I need to get better at that. 

Washing my face, I  mean. Not the lying part.

My husband is trying to lure me upstairs with the promise of wine and a hot shower. The wine sounds tempting while the shower certainly is not. It's one of those strings-attached showers, if you know what I mean and those sorts of things lead to babies and we're maxed out in that department currently and forever, thankyouverymuch.

I'm pretty sure he just wants to see my new tattoo. After all, who waits until they're in their late twenties/early thirties to starting making poor life decisions and permanently inking their body? I'm kidding about the last part there. It's no secret that I put a lot of thought into my ink and the same rings true for my latest addition. Even though his first remark upon seeing it was, "shit, that's bigger than I expected," he quickly sang a different tune when he decided to start telling me that he "read somewhere that girls with more than one tattoo like to..." Well, you can just fill in that there blank yourselves. 

If you're wondering, the answer is, "they don't' like to do that" so unfortunately my husband was sorely misinformed. It does have me questioning his current choices of reading material, that's for sure. Girls with more than one tattoo and three children under four love to sleep. That's what they love. They love to sleep and eat Hershey bars long after everyone is in bed so that she doesn't have share a single goddamned piece. 

Speaking of pieces, I have to clean our house before the house cleaners come tomorrow which is the dumbest fucking thing in the entire world. Now, let's pause for a minute so that the Internets can rip me a new one for hiring a house cleaner because whine, whine, whine, cry, cry, cry, woe is me and I can't even clean my own house and take care of my children. See what I did there? I did it for you. Asshole thereupon ripped.

The reality of that is that I can, in fact, clean my house but when the kids tear it apart thirty-six seconds later, I want to throw things, lots of things, just like they do. Instead, when someone else cleans my house and the kids tear it apart thirty-six seconds later, I've wasted not my own time but rather my money and I'm okay with that. Now, when the cleaning crew comes, I throw the kids into the car and we go out to breakfast. We bring donuts to the park. It's the best $120 I spend every month. 

If you don't count the large iced cookie dough coffees from Dunkin Donuts and Spicy Chicken Deluxe sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A.  

Seriously though, I'm about to break up with our current house cleaner. I'm new to this "luxury" if you want to call it that (previously we had our home "deep cleaned" a couple of times per year but when they're coming on the regular there's literally a "de-clutter clause" in my contract that says I must de-clutter the house before they arrive. 

Clearly they have no idea what it's like to live with small children because, hellerrr, they are the epitome of clutter. So before I brushed my teeth and lied to you about washing my face, I was de-cluttering my house which really meant I was moving one pile of shit from the floor in one room to another table in a different room and maybe shoving some of it in a drawer. 

I'm about three months and a baby behind in my writing. I don't have much else to say about that other than I have the words. I really do. I just don't have the time to write them. How do people have the time to do these things? I think I'm on the verge of figuring it out... 

Last week I hired a Mother's Helper. She's a high school graduate who comes to my house four hours a week and plays with my kids. She does this so that I can do things like write, cook, or fold a load of laundry without having to get up 1,589 times to break up a fight, put someone in timeout, fill a sippy cup, spread peanut butter on a sandwich, roll the baby back over to his back, change a diaper or really, tell my kids, "wait one more minute." The truth is they really love our new helper and I'll be sad to see her off to college in a couple of months. 

At this rate, by then I will have outsourced every single one of my domestic responsibilities. 

I will also be broke. 

If only I could hire someone out to satisfy my husband.

I kid. I know what I signed up for when I got married. I'm pretty sure there was something about that in my vows or something. 

I know. I know what you're going to say.  This is just a season. How much do you want to kick a kitten every time someone says, "oh, but it's just a season," or "give yourself some grace." I'm pretty sure that if it wasn't for the blog world, those two sayings would be all but obsolete, no matter how very true they might be. The blog world is a funny, funny place. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more chores to do. Not tonight honey, I need to wash my... face.  

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

That Place, That Place Will Always Be Home To Me...

I crawled into bed, although different than the one I slept in as a little girl, in the very same corner of the very same room in the very same house I grew up in and at one point, I squinted through the darkness to see all three of my boys asleep in the very same space. 

I still have a hard time believing that I have three. Three sweet and sometimes sour, beautiful, kind and precocious boys. Selfishly they are all mine and I do, at times, have a hard time sharing them. But how could I not? How could I not want to keep them all to myself forever and ever, even in those sour moments?  

As I squinted through the dark, I could see my oldest was asleep on the travel cot in the far corner of the room, his eyelids fluttering with dreams full of the day's earlier adventure. Adventure that included fishing in the same nook of the same pond that I grew up fishing in and what's more, my Dad was by his side helping him reel his very first catch in. My mind flooded with memories of emptying my Dad's tackle box in the very same nook- as I was never any good at being patient waiting for the fish to bite- while he taught me how to cast a line and reel in The Big One. 

I glanced over to my middle baby, asleep on the trundle beneath me to my right, the wildest sleeper of the three, he was mumbling something, something about a police car and he looked so small there on that bed. If I squinted hard enough, I could still see the baby in his face, something that is barely but a trace on him in the daylight. There's just something about turning two, about thinning out so much that your little boy neck appears and you are no longer the baby when the next baby arrives... 

And the baby, oh, my sweet nearly three month old baby. As he slept in the play yard at the foot of my bed I wondered how we got to this place, this place of having him here, earth side for almost three months now. I blink and he grows. He's on the verge of giggling now and just when I thought his sweet coo's couldn't melt my heart any more, he starts to giggle and just like that I am putty in his hands.

It doesn't take much to make my knees go weak. One giggle, a sweet cuddle from my middle baby and a "this was the best day ever" from my oldest, even on the most mundane of days is enough to make me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. 

But this place. This place will always be my home, even though I haven't lived here since graduating college more than nine years ago. Even though I'm kind of grown up, married with three boys and living a life in a house far away from here, living a life that is all our own, I will always come home to this place. When I say "I'm going home for a few days," it's here that I'm referring to, the hometown I grew up in, never ever the house I currently live in. That's just "going back." 

The house I currently live in, the house my husband and I saved for, planned for and hoped for, the house that we poured ourselves into making a home, one that welcomed our three babes with open arms and warm nooks and crannies to rest their sleepy souls in, is just that to me, a house

And in a way that makes perfect sense to me. 

I am who I am, the way I am because of the way and the people who raised me in that original place. It's the only home I've ever known and it's where my roots took hold. Its walls spill over with memories. Memories of birthday parties, broken bones and bruised hearts. Of sleepovers, backyard camp outs and college acceptances. Of defeat and joy and unexpected endings. Of new beginnings and the kind of laughter that makes you laugh so hard you weep big fat tears and can hardly stop laughing or crying. It's the place that taught me what it meant to be a family. What it meant to grow together, to love each other unconditionally, to extend grace, to struggle together but at the end of the day to love one another and be grateful. 

And although I've lived in many places since then, truly lived in them, experiencing heartache, new life, loss but always overwhelming love in them, they never feel like the place where my roots began.

That place, that place will always be Home to me.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Cleanest, Friendliest Amusement Park There Ever Was.

Last weekend and on a whim, friends of ours asked us if we'd be willing to make the hour forty-five minute trek up to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to spend the day with them at Dutch Wonderland, a 48-acre amusement park that caters primarily to families with small children. 
Having never had much experience with carnival-type rides, I was a little weary bringing the boys, 2 and 4, to the park. I was afraid that they'd hate the rides and our adventure would be a bust. Thankfully, that wasn't nearly the case. I mustered up every ounce of adventure in my bones, packed the car for what felt like a week away rather than just one day and loaded everyone, including the baby and my husband into the car.

I had seen commercials for the park on TV and will admit it did look pretty awesome. The kids were super excited to "go out on a ba-venture" and I wasn't sure at this point who was looking more forward to our day away. With over 30 fun-filled rides, Duke's Lagoon water play area and live entertainment, deep down I knew we would all have a really great time. 

Being that it was a Sunday, and one soon after schools had let out, I braced ourselves for some traffic and long lines once we arrived at the park. We arrived promptly at 10:30am, only thirty minutes after the park had opened. The parking lot was FULLER than FULL but thankfully parking was free.   

Once we parked, sprayed ourselves down with sunscreen and made sure to pack a few extra bottles of water for the long, hot day ahead, we donned our swimsuits and headed straight for Duke's Lagoon. Immediately upon crossing the threshold of the park, I swear I saw each of my boys begin skipping merrily together, hand in hand. The park and all of its amusement glory seemed to have that effect on them. We didn't make it very far as it was just minutes before they started begging to ride some rides. 

From bulldozers to monster trucks to the classic potato sack ride, any reservations that I had prior to attending the park were immediately put to rest. The boys had a blast. Dutch Wonderland, truly is, a Kingdom for Kids. Once they had their fill of rides, we continued on our quest to meet up with out friends at the water play area.

Even though I was sidelined with our two month old for much of the time, this was hands down my favorite part of the park. With varying degrees of water spray based on your child's comfort, there was splash pad-type fun for everyone. The boys loved chasing each other around the water park, sliding down the tube slides and standing beneath the drenching buckets, waiting for water to rain down on them. 

After an hour of water fun, it was time to towel off and track down some lunch. Dutch Wonderland has numerous eateries including two open-air dining areas as well as the air conditioned Mill Stream Eatery and Merlin's Restaurant. It was clear, by show of sweaty heads and rosy cheeks, that air conditioning it was. 

Fifty-eight dollars later, (for Cafeteria-style food for four), our bellies were full and it was off to ride some more rides and see more attractions. Brand new in 2014 is the park's attraction, Exploration Island. It was here that the boys dug for dinos, rode a Gondola and wandered down a Prehistoric Path complete with animatronic dinosaurs.

Needless to say, it was an absolute blast. We wound down our day with a stop at the Dole Whip ice cream stand and enjoyed a refreshing treat before boarding the very popular Wonderland Special choo-choo train. After a spin around the park, we waved goodbye to all of our favorite rides and promised them that we'd be back again some day soon. 

It's been a little over one week since our visit to Dutch Wonderland and the boys still talk about their favorite rides and how much fun they had, especially on the Road Rally monster truck ride and the family-oriented Turtle (Tilt-A) Whirl. I think my stomach is still spinning from that last one! 

My final thoughts on the park if you're considering a visit are as follows: it is a pre-schooler's dream. The park is most definitely designed to entertain kids ages 2 to 6 and I guarantee they will have more fun than you could ever imagine. Be prepared, however, to spend a pretty penny. Entrance to the park is not cheap, rivaled only by the price of food. Not to mention that games, toy and snack stands abound and you cannot exit the park without wandering through the gift shop. Last but not least, this was, hands down, the CLEANEST, FRIENDLIEST amusement park I have ever visited. Guest Services were out walking the park grounds and extremely helpful when it came to locating the nearest restroom, snack stand, etc. And for a park that caters predominantly to children, it was cleaner than clean. 

It was absolutely worth the hour and forty-five minute trip from our home in Maryland and we will undoubtedly visit again. Thank you, Dutch Wonderland, for hosting our family for a day of fun!

Be sure to check out Dutch Wonderland for events, trip discounts and more!
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