Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, The Salties

Summer Send-Off

The Salty Mamas reflect on their summers, and they made you this sweet little printable so you and your family can record your summer memories too!

Summer may not officially be over until September 21, but let’s face it: It’s over for us. The kids are in school, the lifeguards are working their last weekend at the beach, and there’s football on the TV today. For all intents and purposes, it’s fall. But before we put on our cozy scarf and grab a pumpkin spice latte, we have a tradition of sitting down as a family and doing a Summer Send-Off.

And now, you can join us! Snag this printable and take a few minutes to capture the best, worst, and most memorable events from your summer!

Record your family's summer memories with this sweet, free printable!

What’s your favorite vacation memory?

Jaymi: We spent an amazing three days at a cabin on some remote coastal property in NorCal. The road trip there was intense, but man was it worth it. No TV, minimal internet, no work, not even toys… Just our little family and our friends, spending the days hiking, rope-swinging, roasting S’mores, and playing at the beach. Pure, unplugged magic.

Christine: On a whim, we decided to go down to San Diego for a night to go to the zoo. They were going to have bands and lights and a special bubble show off this giant bridge and it all sounded like fun. But all my kids wanted in the whole world was to see the hippos. So we walked around, we did the bus tour, but still no hippos. They were on the very very very far side of the zoo through very steep and windy paths. And we were pushing a thousand pounds of stroller. I really wanted to shut it down. We could see them next time. But the kids were insistent. We had to see the hippos. So right before the zoo was closed, we made our way to the right path. And it was DARK. This isn’t like some amusement park where they light everything up – no, this is like the wild. And it was a little spooky. And there were animal noises everywhere. You could barely see. And then we came upon the hippos. And there was no one there. Just us and one beautiful hippo swimming back and forth and back and forth. And my kids were the happiest I’ve seen them in a long time. I was so glad we went looking for the hippo.

What’s something from summer you’d like to forget?

The unnecessary stress I put myself through. I get too worked up over things that are supposed to be all fun and get caught up in the details. I need to try to relax a little!

The Great Potty Training Debacle of Summer 2017 – wherein my 2 year old, who we thought was ready to potty train due to one successful declaration of “I need to pee!” She was NOT apparently because upon us making the effort to train her she decided to go on a two week stint where she would poop consistently – and EXCLUSIVELY – in a pool. Not cool.
 
What will you miss most about the summer?

I am going to miss all the opportunities for free or cheap kids’ activities. Cheap movies, wading pools, late evenings at the park, days at the beach. Anything that got me out of the house and having fun with my kids! And I think I’m going to miss having Lila home with us everyday (I mean, you never know. I could be like, “Thank God It’s Monday” on the regular. Only time will tell!).  Having her home gave us so much flexibility, and so many opportunities for fun, that I know that I’m going to miss her. But summer will be here again before we know it!

I’ll miss our pool being warm enough to swim in everyday. Poop incidents aside, the pool is our favorite thing. And this year I had the added bonus of the big kids both being completely confident swimmers so I could sit on the side and watch them have a great time – and get hella tired. Early morning swims as the sun rose, hot midday swims while the baby napped, sunset swims where I had to beg them to get out to eat dinner and late night y’all should be in bed already swims. Soon the pool will be too cold for us to swim whenever and I’ll sure miss it.
 
What was your best moment of the summer?

 An evening at the wading pool. Hands down. So simple, but I was already nostalgic for it while it was still happening.

Is it so absolutely terrible if my best moment totally did NOT involve my kids?? During our staycation, we had the genius idea of getting a babysitter at the hotel. Vacations are wonderful, but all that togetherness and kids and hotel rooms and everything that makes it into a trip can be forgotten for one brief shining night when you get a babysitter! My husband and I went to Disneyland and went on rides and ate food without managing the needs of the tiny people and had conversations without interruptions and it was the kind of night that makes you realize why date nights really are that important. Which is why over after dinner drinks and some chocolate bread pudding that was bomb.com we decided we needed to make date nights a “thing.” So we did. And I definitely credit it to that one perfect summer night.

 

Now it’s your turn- download the printable and spend some time with your family talking about your summer highs and lows, and then share a little with us in the comments below!

koefoe party of 5, momlife, The Daddys, Traditions

For the Love of Being Right

Things you should know about me:

  • I LOVE to be right.
  • I HATE to be wrong.

I know, most of us do, but I’m brave enough to admit that I can be kind of, well, obnoxious about it. I’m also incredibly stubborn. I know, it’s an incredibly attractive combination ain’t it? But I try, oh how I try, to not say, “I told you so.” Especially often. Especially to my husband. Lucky for me, said husband is also phenomenally stubborn, so we’re really two peas in a pod. He also is one of those delightful people that has to learn things the hard way. There is no amount of talking that will convince him that his way is not the right way.

So while I fretted about our trip to the cabin for weeks, he quickly dismissed my concerns, telling me not to worry about it. We were going with some of his family, and the quarters are somewhat cramped. I asked him repeatedly to make a couple calls to find out what the sleeping arrangements were. I do better being able to visualize where I’m going to sleep, where my kids are going to sleep, and depending on their proximity to me, how much alcohol to bring to survive.

Kidding.

Sort of.

He said we’d figure it out when we got there and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I took a deep breath, and chose to trust him.

I was worried about my husband’s expectations for the week…he wanted to take Cole fishing. He wanted us to go on a family hike to the Wishbone tree – a 45 minute hike each way. He wanted us to stay up and cook s’mores and share his love of the great outdoors with our kids. I worried about the record breaking river levels and it’s speed. I hate hiking and was skeptical our 2 and 4 year olds would be up for the trek. I warned that if we let them go too many days without a nap and staying up late they’d turn into actual literal monsters. They may grow horns and extra eyes, I don’t know, I just know that it’s not advised to try.

He thought I was just being negative.

He grew up at the cabin. He knew what he was doing. I’d see.

Now this is where you have to decide, dear reader: Which of us stubborn ass people won the day and got to be right?

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Have I built up enough suspense??

Okay, I won’t make you wait any longer…..

ME!

That’s right. Me. This is NOT one of those posts where I realize that my kids are lovely, that my husband is capable and thoughtful, that I just need to take the road less traveled and be brave and bend the rules and not be such a rigid, negative, naggy B of a wife.

No, this is a post where the moral of the story is TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

Because here’s what happened our first night: The baby was asleep, a minor miracle with all the excitement of a new place, the kids were just finishing up a movie, their beds set up, and we had almost made it to bedtime. And then it happened. My husband’s Aunt and a carful of teenagers pulled up. They came in the house, guns of excitement blazing, woke up the baby, amped up the other kids and killed any chance my husband had of being right.

We had arrived first and taken the “Master” room, as it was the largest room and we, the largest family. But apparently that room wasn’t to stay ours for long and we had to cede it to the Aunt who basically complained until we gave up. So then we had to move the beds – the ones we had set up for all three of our kids, shown to them, explained how this was the place they’d be sleeping, etc. – to the other, much smaller, room. The teenagers were to sleep up the ladder in the attic. A ladder that the teens had to go up and down one hundred thousand times in the first seven minutes of being there. A ladder that is VERY enticing to 2 and 4 year olds. 2 and 4 year olds that are supposed to be going to sleep even. Especially?

Three hours later, we had the baby back down and the other 2 were wavering between complete and total exhaustion and an undeniable desire to be outside around the campfire with their cousins. A delightful combination let me assure you.

The first morning went a little better…because pancakes are generally a uniting force no matter your age or how much sleep you got the night before.

And then we went on Daddy’s hike of his dreams. We slathered on sunscreen and deet, I put the baby in her carrier and we put the 2 year old in the hiking backpack. Off we went! And everyone LOVED it. For four minutes. We got hot, but we trudged on. The kids got heavy, but we trudged on. We got hungry and THIRSTY, but we trudged on. And then we found a GOD DAMNED ROTTING MOUNTAIN LION CARCASS. We did not trudge on. Cole burst into tears, and stubborn Daddy started to crack realizing this whole thing was a terrible mistake. I may have never loved him more than when he latched onto the giant dead animal on the trail as an excuse to turn around and head back.

As we walked back Daddy said, “Well, you’re a trooper.”

“And?”

“And this has been kind of a mess.”

“And?”

“And it’s been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

“And? Come on…give it to me…..”

“And you were right.”

“Thank you!!!”

God, I love to be right. But sometimes I really wish we didn’t have to live out all the wrong to get to the right…

momlife, parenting

A Relaxing Trip to the Cabin

Laughing already?

I am too.

Once upon a time, Chad and I used to spend lazy summer weekends at his family cabin in the Sierra’s. We would pack up the car, drive a pleasant few hours, and plant ourselves in hammocks. I’d bring a stack of library books, eagerly anticipating lounging in the late morning quiet by the small river, devouring each book one by one. We’d live off chips, beer and s’mores. We’d take casual hikes through the giant majestic trees surrounding us. And we’d be completely cut off from communication with the outside world. No tv. No wifi. No cell service. Just one old rotary telephone in case of a dire emergency.

As I sit here today, I find myself wondering how the HELL that paradise became the four day trip that has me so anxious I want to cry/vomit/run away. Why is it that all I can think of now is how fast the river is running this year, how bad the mosquitoes are, will any of the kids get carsick on the windy road, how there have been rattlesnake sightings on site. Rattlesnakes. And all. That. Prep.

The lists in my head are ridiculous. The food, the toys, the clothes, the repellent, the sunscreen, the medicines just in case because there’s NOWHERE to buy anything, the diapers, the wipes, the snacks (very different from “food” of course), the car activities, the STUFF. Endless, endless stuff!

But of course, I know why. Kids. They turned the vacation into a trip. On vacation you wp-image--1013931929.lounge and eat what you want, when you want, where you want – preferably at a restaurant or somewhere you don’t have to clean up afterward. On a trip, you’re still cooking for everyone. And doing dishes. And hunting down a thousand water cups for tiny hands that have misplaced theirs. Because apparently kids can’t live off chips, beer and marshmallows alone – though to be fair I haven’t tried…..

On a vacation, you go on a hike, taking breaks where you want and you sit and take in the beautiful views. You can walk at your pace because there’s nothing (no one) slowing you down and nothing (no one) to chase. You bring a book because you might find a perfect spot to spend the afternoon. On a trip you have one kid strapped to you and two more running in opposite directions. You have to bring a thousand snacks because they can’t go five minutes without food. One of the walkers decides halfway that they’re going to die and throw themselves on the ground saying they’ll never walk again.

On a vacation you bring that thick 600 page book that you’ve been waiting to crack into, because you know you can dedicate all the time to getting hooked on it. You spend the rest of the day falling further into the fantasy world before you. On a trip? Bring a magazine. Maybe. Or something that hooks you right away and is only about 150 pages. Nothing with confusing characters or plots or you’ll spend most of the time re-reading pages you already read because you were interrupted by cries of, “Moooooooommmmmm! I neeeeeeeed youuuuuuuu!”

And did I mention THERE’S NO WIFI???

So maybe for me it will be a trip. But I can still keep it a vacation for my kids. Read them all the books. Let them hike and get dirty and find bugs and explore. Make them eat real food, but also go nuts on the s’mores. Help them make memories so they’ll one day talk about the awesome vacations they went on.

And then, after I’ve sufficiently worn them out, tuck them into bed, grab my book, go out on the porch, grab a beer and sneak a few minutes of vacation before morning.

momlife, parenting, The Daddys

The DaddyQ

This summer, we will all gather for birthday parties, holidays, beach days, pool parties, cookouts and campouts. And at every single one of them, a version of this will occur:

A cluster of women will be standing in a circle near a cluster of men. One of the women will bemoan the fact that her husband NEVER cooks. Said husband, from his conveniently adjacent location will hear these words like a homing call, turn around, address the women and proclaim, “Hey, that’s not fair! I barbeque!” This will be followed by a collective eye roll from the women. The wife, if she’s smart, will just say, “That’s right dear” so everyone can go back to having a good time.

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But lets be clear.

The men do not DO the barbeque. Here is what a barbeque ACTUALLY entails.

Step one: Plan for the barbeque.

You may have a conversation with your partner about WHAT actual meat will be grilled. If you’ve got one of the fancy ones, he may even offer to toss on some sort of vegetable. At this point, you will be required to select all the side dishes, get recipes, go to the store and buy everything. You will also be required to make sure this stays within the family grocery budget.

Step Two: Prep EVERYTHING. 

Marinate the meat, chop the vegetables, cook the pasta for that homemade pasta salad he loves and suggested you make (even though you had your eye on that premade stuff from the deli), wash and cut up fruit, bake something delicious for dessert, basically, you know DO the entire meal. Oh, and see all those dishes you just used? Well, just a quick reminder….they’re not going to wash themselves. Yeah, that’s probably on you too.

To be fair, the men are not COMPLETELY exempt from this step. During this incredibly important phase, your partner will walk over, and turn on the grill. It’s not to be missed and is crucial. It’s basically on par with all that other stuff you just did. He also grabbed a beer while he was doing it, so don’t say he can’t multitask!

Step three: BARBEQUE!

Here, it is, his BIG moment!19858447_10213897670822251_73273742_n

But you should probably help just a little. Help him find his tools real quick. Then when he’s ready, bring him the meat you marinated. Don’t forget to run back in and get him a NEW platter for the cooked meat. Wash the one with the marinade when you get a sec, okay? Don’t want stuff piling up!

While he’s doing this, it’s a good time for you to finish all the other items. Toss salads, make sure everything has a serving spoon, are the plates and utensils ready, refresh people’s drinks – oh shit I forgot to put out the chips and salsa before! – do that, check on husband, maybe grab him another beer – now is NOT the time for multitasking, honey! – the meat has to be flipped at the PRECISE moment!

19679873_10213897670062232_1199026602_nOnce it is, he’ll set it on the tray (the one you brought him) and stand proudly, tongs in one hand, beer in the other and survey all that “he” has done.

Don’t ruin that moment for him.

Step four: Enjoy

He did it! He barbequed!!!!

Everyone will tell him how DELICIOUS the meat was, perfectly seasoned, cooked to perfection. The corn salad that took eleventy years to chop is great too, of course. It just doesn’t get the same acclaim as MEAT. But at this point you’re too exhausted to care. Instead, you grab a margarita, kick back and forget about all those dishes.

Later, once the friends are gone, but the buzz remains he’ll say, “that was a great barbeque, we should do it more often.” You’ll nod, because it was nice. And now you can say, “but honey, you didn’t barbeque. You did a daddyque.”