What child is this

rock city “Daddy, how much more minutes will it be until we get to grammy’s?”

“A long time honey.”

“But, how many minutes?”

“It’ll be about 124 minutes.”

“But that’s a really long time. I wished we lived right here.”

Here, being the middle of nowhere, somewhere between a little town in Georgia and another little town in Tennessee, up Hwy 411. If you’ve ever watched HGTV’s 100-Mile Yard sale show, then you can pretty much picture what this 2-hour stretch of lonely road is like. In fact, they have their own yard sale Web site, aptly named the “Hwy 411 Yard Sale.” Check out the link. (I find it interesting that all of the Points of Interest mentioned, have nothing to do with sales, or yards).

We did finally make it to grammy’s luckily, and after retrieving a bottle of clorox and a scrubby thingy and scouring her in-law suite downstairs until all of the spiders and various fungi had disappeared, we had a great weekend! Honestly, I can’t even begin to relax until my surroundings are clean!

We swam in the river and played with critters–catching four turtles and three crawdads (crayfish for your northerners).  We explored Tuckaleechee caverns (which I HIGHLY recommend!) and I only had to carry MLI for 1/2 a mile…500 feet underground (I think the closer you are to the center of the earth, the heavier you are because of gravity or something). We rode bikes and watched DVD’s. We ate junk food and took very unflattering pictures of daddy’s belly in his swimsuit. All in all it was a really good weekend.

As I drove back, I reflected on how different MLI is away from his brother. At home he’s constantly competing for attention; however, away from MLE, he’s actually a pretty calm, well-spoken, fun person to be around. It was good spending time away from home where I could actually see what his personality is becoming, rather than the hollering, near-incoherent whirling dirvish he is around his brother and his friends. It’s amazing really, the difference.

I’m going to have to make it a point, as the boys both grow, to spend time alone with each of them, in addition to all the things we’ll do together. Because I honestly enjoyed this weekend alone with him, which is more than I can say for any “Family” adventure we’ve all done together.

Of course though, all good things come to an end and it wasn’t 15 minutes after getting home on Sunday that I remembered WHY we went away in the first place.

Ah well, it was good while it lasted…yeah, it was REALLY good!

At this point, the 8 hour drive home sounds like bliss…

golden arches I owe that great big, yellow and red clown at McDonalds an apology!

For years I have derided McDonalds for their fast food ways; their McNuggets that honestly aren’t any better now that they are “all white meat” than they were before 60 Minutes got ahold of them; and for their greasy fare that just never seemed to be something that any health-conscious person would ever, in a million years, consider eating for any reason other than a life or death situation.

But then, I had kids.

And then we wanted to go on vacation with said kids.

And then, after three hours in the car, said kids were driving mom and dad batty and needed to exercise.

What is a parent to do?

Oh looky! Is that a McDonalds with an indoor playground? Holy Cow! Stop NOW!

And that is the wellspring from whence my repentance flows. And be darned if McDonalds doesn’t have some gloriously sweet tea!

And it was good–for about 30 minutes until dad’s “schedule” reigned supreme and he forced them all back in the car for the rest of the trip to Kiawah Island, SC, where he would spend the next few days slapping 50 SPF sunscreen on his wonderfully 35-year old body, while schlepping sand-laden plasty-crap back and forth from the beach to the condo and back again; all the while praying to the gods (whichever ones rule over beach vacations) that the boys would sleep soundly at night allowing mom and dad to relax for a few minutes.

But someone remind me again how, after the first day, when you’re tired of the beach and you’re spending the bulk of the time in the A/C in the condo, or at the pool, how this is better than going to your neighborhood pool and relaxing in your own home where a half gallon of skim milk doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Tell me again how that works?

My Solution to the Gas Crisis!

vacationForget food-price-gauging ethanol production; forget uber-expensive hybrid vehicles, and forget flux capacitors; I have a way to cut down on the demand for gasoline going into the hot summer months when everyone is racing to the beaches and casinos. I’d like to start a campaign called,
“Take A Kid On Vacation!” or TAKOV!

TAKOV! is a grass-roots campaign (by me) to bring awareness to those not yet blessed with their own little ones, and who still drive around everywhere in their sports cars, convertibles and mammoth SUVs, caring little for those of us with kids languishing in uncomfortable car seats for hours on end.

Here’s how the program works (in theory, though I’m still working out a few details):

Step 1:
You and your childless lover decide where you want to go on vacation together. The only rules are that you must drive, and the vacation location must be at least four hours away from your point of origin.

Step 2:
Contact TAKOV! and request a child, under the age of 6, to go with you. TAKOV! will comb through its extensive list of available children to find one (or 2?) who would best fit your vacation itinerary.

Step 3:
On the day of your vacation, pick up your TAKOV! child at a mutually agreed upon convenient location. TAKOV! will provide toys only, NO SNACKS. You are responsible for providing all food and drink for your TAKOV! child.

Step 4:
Enjoy your vacation!

The program works by ensuring that after taking at least one child on a long drive, the couple will never want to do it again, thus reducing the number of people flying or driving anywhere this summer. It may even have the added benefit of completely changing some couples’ minds about having children altogether, thereby also helping to solve that pesky population problem.

TAKOV! is also providing, free of charge, this handy-dandy list of things to bring along on the trip:

  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Lots of sugary drinks
  • Lots of sugary snacks
  • Percocet/Valium
  • Long-handled fly swatter (use your imagination here)
  • Rooftop car carrier (for all of the kids’ stuff)
  • DVD portable entertainment system, if your vehicle is not so equipped
  • Books
  • Anything that makes a noise
  • Sippy cup w/ill-fitting top

So do your part, join TAKOV! by signing your child up for a wonderful vacation with a needy, childless family TODAY! (no prescreening necessary!)

(Author’s Note: Yes, we drove to Grammy’s house this weekend!)

Wouldn’t you like to get away…just for a day…

Ritz-Carlton Lodge CareerMom’s company gives out Pavlonian-style rewards for good work behavior. One can redeem these rewards (with a substantial markup) for all manner of things. Normally, we use them to replace whatever electronic necessity the boys have dropped in the toilet most recently, but this time, we used them to book a night at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in beautiful Greensboro, GA. Yes, folks, a Ritz-Carlton in the middle-of-nowhere Georgia.

It’s about a two-hour drive from Roswell, and so CareerMom’s folks came over to stay at our house to watch the boys. Mind you, they live about five miles away, but they find it easier to just stay at our house rather than put up with my youngest not sleeping because he hates the pack-n-play at their house.

Anyway, I didn’t realize the significance of this Ritz-Carlton’s location until we drove past nearly a mile of golf courses and were greeted by a cadre of knicker-clad bellmen. That’s when it hit me, “Oh yeah, this is where they played the 2007 PGA Cup and will host a future PGA Pro National Championship (will that be the FEDEX Cup now?).

With all this great golf nearby, do you think I got to play? Nossir—and here’s why. CareerMom likes her some spa treatments…yessir, that she does. And when you book a package deal, they won’t let one of you play golf while one of you gets a treatment. You both have to do the same thing. And since CareerMom doesn’t play, it means that for three mini-getaways now, I’ve gotten up-close and personal with massage therapists, while the closest I got to the golf course was tearfully viewing it from my room balcony.

Now I know…boo hoo me right? I HAD to go to the Ritz-Carlton, and I HAD to get a spa treatment. I know, it’s a bit petty but one of the few things I REALLY enjoy doing in my life, and I have the opportunity to do it in a place that most people only get to watch on TV…and I don’t get to do it. It IS frustrating.

Among the other notable things that happened while we were there, was getting the chance to watch two young, fairly attractive women at the pool. Let me set the stage; CareerMom and I meandered down to the pool, which overlooks the lake. We stayed there talking for a few and both turned around towards the pool so we could lean up against the fence. We both had our sunglasses on and CareerMom says, “Is that girl lying on top of another girl?” Being a man, I quickly glanced over and from what I could tell, there was one girl in a bathing suit lying facedown on a chaise lounger, with another bathing suit-clad young woman lying on top of her…also face down. Though I wanted to stare (and fantasize just a tiny bit), I tried not to look. CareerMom though, had no such qualms. “I can’t look away” she said, “It’s fascinating.” This from a woman who later that evening, as I paused to watch a “girls gone wild” commercial remarked, “Two women together, I just don’t get it.”


Anyway, we also made nuisances of ourselves later that evening at the off-site restaurant, where CareerMom ordered a filet, cooked medium, and it came back very rare. I ordered the Cajun pasta and halfway through, came across something that looked very much like a grub worm that I might pull out of my compost pile, but that the chef insisted was a crawfish tail. Either way, it ruined my appetite.

But the time flew by and we soon were back on the road. It’s amazing how much stuff you can cram into 24 hours. We left at 1 p.m. on Saturday and arrived home by 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. It was fun, but if I’m gonna drive two hours to stay at a Ritz-Carlton, I want to STAY at a Ritz-Carlton. This was just a mad-dash. For that, I could have stayed home and chased after the kids.