Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer 2012 travelogue

When the kids were smaller and had fewer commitments, I could pack them up and take them to my family’s cottage almost the minute school was out and not return until seconds before school started again. Now that they’re older, they have activities and things that make this impossible although it remains my ideal. Somehow, this year the stars aligned and we had the unheard of amount of 5 weeks in which no tennis tournament was planned (well, not any W. was going to play), no dance competition was scheduled, and no soccer game was happening. 5 weeks! Staggering, really. So I took full advantage of it and we headed to Upper Peninsula Michigan for a long and schedule-free vacation. As per in previous years, DH miraculously couldn’t get away the same day the kids and I could so I was left to do my usual 16 or so hour drive with three children, two dogs, and no other driver to spell me, although W., newly possessed of his permit, offered to help should I need it. (Pretty sure he didn’t hear me mumble “No freakin’ way” under my breath.)

We pulled out of here in the morning, later than I’d planned because I apparently hadn’t factored in the slothlike speed with which teenagers move in the a.m. even when they are heading to the place they love most in the world. Noon would have been a more civilized departure time according to them. But it was lucky we did leave when we did because we encountered terrible, scary storms on our way up through Ohio. The wind and debris swirled all around the car, smacking into the windshield hard and then the rain poured down sideways. It was really a bit apocalyptic driving through it and even once it was over, no one for miles (and I do mean many, many miles) had any electricity. We had to sit on the highway for a while waiting for crews to remove the trees that had blown down and into the road. I had put off stopping for dinner because we don’t make the drive north without having Skyline Chili which we cannot get down by us. The first two Skylines we stopped at on the outskirts of Columbus had no electricity and were therefore closed. The third one was apparently the only one in the metro area to have electricity so we got to stop and I averted total mutiny by my loving children who were threatening to eat my arm by the time we found the open restaurant. Luckily we didn’t plan to stop in Columbus on our way up and so after some very satisfying three-ways and coney dogs we kept driving until we were out of the storm’s swath.

Our second day of driving started off fine as I forced the second car-sickness pill down Gatsby’s throat. Entertainingly, she and R. can both take the same motion sickness stuff (Bonine) which means there’s no worries about giving the dog the kid’s drugs or vice versa. It worked great. Unfortunately, Daisy was the one to get car sick and she hadn’t had any meds. I probably shouldn’t have really hoped that we’d make the trip in the new van without any vomit episodes; I’m sure that jinxed me. But small puke puddle aside, we made it all the way north without any further incident and settled in to our blissful existence up there.

Not many days into vacation, W. discovered that people were in fact not lying when they warned us about the Coast Guard, DNR, and sheriff being very active on the water this year. He and a buddy had gone into town in the boat and on their way back, they were stopped by the Coast Guard. As typical, always ravenous teenaged boys, they had gone into town to pick up pizza and the CG actually asked them “Can we look in that pizza box?” They must have looked shifty or something. Turns out all the boys were smuggling was a meat lover’s pizza.

Gatsby found herself being just as ravenous as the teenaged boys since her diet continued up north. Of course she had many more chances to supplement her meals there than she does at home, digging up a well-seasoned pelvis and spinal column out in the woods to offset the scant amount of food we, her people, were willing to give her. She also managed to eat a few crickets, gnaw on one dead toad, and lick a turtle. This led me to come up with a book idea: The Dog’s Guide to Vomiting. It'll start out with "Step One: Find carpet. The lighter the color the better." See? My family has always maintained that I have a book in me and I’m pretty sure this could be the one.

Other things of note this summer? T. earned his boating license. It’s not valid until he’s twelve though so he’s already called driving the boat first in two years. W. borrowed my dad’s gun one Sunday when we went to shoot sporting clays and he managed to hit 40 out of 50 of them his first time ever holding a 12 gauge. He’s already been told he’s out of the will since he can now outshoot his grandfather. He passed me up long ago and R. can sometimes outshoot me too. At least I’ve still got T., for another year anyway. I made my annual donation of sunglasses to appease the lake gods. Thankfully they were cheap but they were my favorite pair. R. tried to learn to waterski. Despite her good sense of her center of gravity from dance, she failed miserably and gave up long before she got up on the skis. Tubing seems to be more my kids’ speed. I had to write some reviews while up there and since we don’t have wi-fi, I had to drag my laptop around to find it. Many of the reviews were written from very lovely and scenic spots but I discovered a drawback of sitting outside under trees. A small, wiggling white worm dived into my keyboard and despite my best efforts, I’m pretty sure the bottom side of my “s” key has worm guts under it. Ew! On a more palatable note, W. had his first summer romance this year. Given the lack of technology where we are (cell phone coverage is dodgy at best and as mentioned before, no wif-fi), we were treated to an old-fashioned summer romance. They had to call each other on land lines and couldn’t get too far from the base without dropping the call so I got to eavesdrop freely and without shame. Entertainingly enough, we went all the way to Upper Peninsula Michigan for him to find a girl who lives a mere 2 hours from us in North Carolina. What are the odds?

But the thing that dominated the summer this year? Bodily elimination. And by that I mean pee and poo. You’d think that as my kids get older, we would move away from all the bodily functions but we seem destined (doomed?) to live in toilet humor land forever. In order to not stress the septic system so badly, the boys have always been told to go outside and pee on a tree. T. was afraid to do this in the full dark of night so he was just walking to the edge of the porch and peeing through the slats onto the newly planted fern bed. My mother put an end to that, insisting that he go further afield, a decision that would come to bite her in the ass later. W. managed to lose his glasses for several days, assuring me that they were in fact somewhere in the cottage but unable to produce them. We all searched for them for days and couldn’t come up with them. W. had already been told that he would have to pay to replace them himself when my sister and her family arrived and my 7 year old niece finally discovered them outside the Rookery (the name of where we stay) on the ground under a tree. Don’t ask. I’m not sure why they were there either. We were off shooting sporting clays (and even blind, the kid managed to shoot 34 of 50 birds) when she found them so she handed them to my mother who promptly licked the lenses to clean them off. Again, don't ask me why she did this. Isn't it clear by now that my family is weird? When we got back from shooting, A. got to give them back to W. as mom told us where they were found. I sort of paused and asked if she knew that that was the tree on which T. was peeing since he wasn’t allowed to pee through the slats anymore. She hadn’t but it was too late and the lens licking had already happened. Sickos that we are, we’re still laughing about it and probably will be for years.

Apparently T. was having major issues with the toilet this year though as his fear of peeing outside in the dark wasn’t his only problem. He came waddling out of the bathroom into my room one night holding his underwear and jammies pinched between two fingers. I asked him what the problem was and he admitted that his stuff might be a little dirty. I sent him to drop the stuff directly in the washer rather than in my laundry basket, which was where he was originally headed. When he got back, he was still walking strangely and I called him on it. He told me that there had been no toilet paper and he hadn’t wanted to “inconvenience” me by telling me. I asked him how he’d wiped his butt and he admitted that he’d used the cardboard paper toilet paper roll! Worse yet, he’d then put it back on the holder. After some shouting on my part, he took the poopy roll down to the trash can in the workshop and tossed it. When he came back, I showed him where exactly the toilet paper was kept so he’d know in future and so he could finally clean himself off. On his third trip out of the bathroom, I made him come over and prove to me that he had cleaned himself off completely because, let’s face it, clearly my kid is gross.

He was clean but I was startled to see that my 10 1/2 year old had started developing a bit of pubic hair. Never a mother to spare her children embarrassment, I pointed it out and asked when that had started. He tried to tell me that it was a year ago. His sense of time has never been strong. So I released him and called W. into my room to ask him because if you can’t mortify one kid, try another, especially a teenager. He was a bit non-plussed when I asked him if he remembered when he started getting pubic hair and suggested that asking him if his brother’s development was normal was a question better suited to a doctor. My kids are so going to get their money’s worth in therapy later in life! I wasn’t finished with the question though and asked a friend about her boys who are slightly older and slightly younger than T. or if she knew what normal was. She had no idea but when I mused that I should probably find out family history, she just about wet her pants laughing hysterically and suggested that she wanted to be there when I asked my dad how old he was when he got hairy testicles. I might have very few filters (duh!) but after practically choking on my own laughter, I did manage to draw the line and not ask dad. (I did ask my husband, who might have thought the question was a come-on if I wasn’t a thousand miles away from him when I asked it, but he’s used to my complete lack of propriety by now and simply admitted he had no earthly idea.) So I still don’t know but whether or not my kid is normal, I suspect it’s pretty clear that I’m not and that is probably genetic too.

Now we’re home without further antics or embarrassing questions and our unscheduled time is over. I’m finally unpacked although not everything has found its way to exactly where it belongs yet. The heat and humidity down here are killing me and I’m pretty sure if my parents call me to tell me that they are having another evening in the 50’s and they are having a fire on yet another night up there without me, I might just crack and ask my dad after all.


  1. Oh my goodness! You're going to be so happy years from now that you wrote this all down :-)

  2. I just discovered your blog and was laughung out loud. You are so funny! I am sorry to tell you that the bathroom humor never goes away, I have 3 sons in their rwenties and it is still a topic of conversation.

    The story about your mom still has me chuckling. I am looking forward to reading your blog from now on.

  3. I just found your blog, and that post had me laughing out loud, especially the part about your mom! I wiah I could tell you that the bathroom humor/stories go away when they get older but I have three sons in their twenties and it is still a topic of conversation.


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