Monday, August 22, 2016

Farewell to the Lands of Lakes and Cheeses (and much more)

I started this yesterday last Friday morning and have since abandoned it twice more. Real life is not nearly as fun as vacation, which is why I have about four vacations a year planned for us through at least 2020 and a whole lot more ideas to last us well beyond that. We are out best selves when away from home.

swimming with a galleon ship; I miss you Duluth

~ ~ from Friday ~ ~

We're home! We all slept in until 9:30 and now I'm deeply disoriented. No hotel breakfast? No views of Lake Superior? I'm making a grocery lists and reading work emails and supervising the kids' writing of thank you notes to the people who made their last two weeks so awesome, while keeping them from flipping out over their lack of structure and non-sibling playmates for those same awesome two weeks. A refreshing dip in Lake Superior sounds lovely right now and the teeth chattering would prevent anyone from complaining about anything which would make the hypothermia totally worth it. Thank god school starts on Monday.

But let's get back to the upper Midwest! I miss its lakes and cheeses and cool evening temperatures very, very much. Let's relive our last day.

We ate breakfast looking out on the lake. Cora charmed all the neighboring tables with her perfect table manners and insistence on wearing her sunglasses upside down. She was perfect on the whole vacation- you'd think the toddler might be the problem, but no, she didn't throw one single fit, have a single tantrum, or act like anything other than a sweet, excited, totally thrilled to be everywhere little traveler. Every "hey, Cora, let's go to the boats" was met with an enthusiastic, "YES! WE WALK TO DA BOATS!" and a furious forward march, tutu on, upside-down sunglasses perched precariously across her nose. She was like that for everything and I pretty much just want to be with her all the time. Landon and Claire are optional/possibly encouraged to secure separate lodging.

~ ~ jumping back (forward?) to the present ~ ~

Ohmygod it's Monday now! I cannot write this post. I was in denial about our return, then I was busy running one million errands, then I was too annoyed at my children to write anything positive (they NEVER normally fight with one another, but after a week together at my parents and then a week together in Minnesota and Wisconsin zomg they needed fresh blood to play with). On Saturday I taught barre (OWWW; it was a great class- full of people and energy and my heartrate monitor registered a 717 calorie burn and I only almost passed out like twice; you really lose the ability to yell while exercising quickly) and I farmed out both big kids to friends' houses for several hours. Everything was rosier. I drank champagne because I was feeling festive and semi-watched The Last Kingdom with James.

On Sunday I baked 6 loaves of my mom's amazing poppyseed bread as first day of school treats for the teachers, made her amazing spaghetti sauce for our night before school meal, and invited a bunch of friends over to swim. They brought beer and snacks and children and the weather was a ridiculously lovely high-80's with a bright shining sun and it was wonderful and the kids got tired and went to bed right at 8 just like we wanted them to. Unfortunately I'd also gotten one million mosquito bites and had to take benadryl for the swelling and fell asleep on the couch at 9:00, totally freaking out James and myself until I remembered the benadryl. I lost a night of my life, but my bug bites look great!

Also over the weekend we decided to start potty training Cora because you know, wtf not? Claire trained herself (truly; on her own, in a day, zero accidents ever at 2 years and 4 months), but Cora has not elected to go that route. I have no memory of how we trained Landon and I tried to find our Elmo Uses the Potty book but couldn't so really none of us know what we're doing here. Cora is intrigued, but not convinced, and continues to feel strongly about wearing her skirts AND the shorts that go underneath or at the VERY least tucking her t-shirt into her panties because she is a LADY and not an animal who runs around naked as we keep suggesting. She is horrified by our lack of decency.

And then school started today!! My favorite thing!! I still feel like an excited kid when that alarm goes off on the first Monday morning. School is the best, and luckily, my kids think so too.


Claire has Landon's beloved former first grade teacher, so she was thrilled to pieces about that. She didn't even need us to walk her in, but I insisted. As I insisted on this hug.

one of us is more into this than the other

Landon is upstairs this year because he is an old and giant third grader and that's messing with my mind a little. He also did not need us to walk him in, but again, insistence. He did allow a semi-anonymous hug with his dad near the door frame. Caught it!

Mom this is so embarrassing

It was ALSO Cora's first day of school.

"Let's DO this!" her spirit sang as we marched up the ramp to the front door, ready to rock our first day.

Of all our kids she's the most intrepid, so it was a little surprising when she was the one with tears. Apparently our week away led her to forget she was changing classrooms (they'd carefully "transitioned" her the week before, but then we left town for 6 days and erased all their work) and she cried when she realized Ms. Gloria wasn't coming with her. Ms. Gloria looked a little teary herself. (It reminded me of the post I wrote about daycare kids; it's a special kind of love between those wonderful providers and their kids.)

Once she was shown the vastly superior selection of puzzles in the new, older classroom she quickly rallied.

Then I had to go to work because that's what you have to do so you can take more vacations in the future. James picked up the kids and took them to the pool and then I picked them up at the pool and Claire was so exhausted from loving first grade that she wouldn't tell me anything about it and instead cried on and off for the next 90 minutes. Landon on the other hand ALL the words about how much he loved third grade and threw them all at me in hyperspeed while literally running in circles in the living room. He continued to talk through 2 time outs and Cora hitting him on the head with a sword. I drank the rest of my champagne from Saturday and wondered how much online shopping I could do to distract myself before James got home. As it turns out, only three dresses and three pairs of shoes worth, because his last lesson got rained out, thank you jebus.

BUT I never actually got to fulfill the title of the post that I am now quite attached to and leaving in place as the header even though I have neither talked about lakes nor cheeses. And I'm doing Orangetheory in the morning (that is going to huuuurt; I'm still full of cheese from Wisconsin and now also champagne) so there is no time to do the lakes and cheeses justice by keeping this post going.

In short, on our last day we all swam in Lake Superior one more time before we left. This time I wore a proper swim suit (assuming hot pink bikinis are appropriate for Lake Superior rather than say, a dry suit) and Cora refused to be left out so we let her in the freezing, dark, endless waters and James ferried her across to the ruins on his stomach like a turtle, to the probable horror of those watching from the shore. She hung out in the window frame with whichever of us wasn't climbing walls and swimming through underwater tunnels with the big kids. Totally normal summer vacation stuff.

It was super, super fun. Cora didn't even seem to mind the cold which makes me wonder what crazy things she'll be doing when she's old enough to do whatever she wants. We do impose some limits...

The flight home went great. It was delayed nearly 2 hours, but once you're in the airport and past security the stress of travel goes down significantly. Our plane was very new and had TVs at every seat with a full complement of kids movies, TV shows, and games. The big kids were devastated when we landed. Cora earned her gold star traveler award by falling asleep perfectly vertically and without any of us realizing it until it was time to land. May all our future travels go so well.

Hope everyone's first days of school were wonderful and first evenings home from school were better than mine!

End of the first day of school picture!


  1. LOL I adore this last picture. Vacation is definitely better than not-vacation, but routine is nice, too. Wishing you all a happy school year!

  2. I'm so sorry, I really don't want to sound mean, but I love that your kids actually do fight and have days of 'tude like that last picture suggests. At times, I read your blog, and wonder what the heck I'm doing wrong, because your kids all seem so well-behaved and perfect. My daughter isn't bad, by any means, she just tends towards the drama, which can be exhausting. Yay Claire and Landon for being real kids on occasion. :)

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  4. I had the exact same thoughts!!!

  5. Who took the picture of you guys swimming by the ruins? :)

  6. Hate to be a party pooper....I love your posts, but as a social worker I just want to suggest that it might be a good idea to remove the photo and the comment that indicate where your beautiful children go to school. Just to be on the safe side. It's a frightening eworld out there.