Tag Archives: family holidays

I Should Have Known Better

22 Dec

Relatives coming to town should be a joyous occasion. You should be excited for their arrival. Excited.

But, no.  Stress … Stress is what consumed my Guat mind and body. The mental and emotional strain infested my being as project sister-coming-to-town was initiated.

7:00 A.M. Mother comes in and announces that sister is coming to town.

7:01 A.M. I know this already as my sister, A.K.A. Queen of the Nile, informed me that I was to pick her up promptly at 7:00 P.M. Promptly.



I had my day planned out already. The entire day revolved around her arrival and making sure she wouldn’t sass me if I arrived late for any reason. On time. I needed to be on time and leave the house presentable for her. My whole mission was to avoid the older sister attitude. Does that ever happen to anybody else? You spend the whole day trying to prevent a hostile situation because you know it’ll burn  you out. Plus it adds to your gray hair. Yeah that was my mission. Prevent hostile Queen of the Nile encounter.

I tried to give myself a two-to-three hour window to clean the place. Baby’s nap time … that’s when operation Mop&Glo-Comet-Simple Green would commence. My son would work on his puzzles, monster trucks, or Curious George computer adventures, while I swept, vacuumed, mopped, washed, and scrubbed.

But prior to all this domesticated fun and games, I was to go to the cemetery and decorate my dad’s site with ornaments and a mini tree — you know bring a little Christmas spirit his way, this would be followed by a trip to the post office to mail off my Christmas-Happy New Year’s cards to my local buddies, then it would be off to the park to hang out in the sandbox and catch some seesaw, slides action, then back home for lunch.

But I should have known better. I really should have.

8:01 A.M. As I roll out of bed I find clean laundry, which I had folded the night before, evenly distributed between the floor pile, the top-of the dresser pile, the mix-it-up with the dirty hamper pile, and the under-the-bed pile.

Needless to say I was a little burned out that my late night efforts to fold all my clothes, my son’s clothes and my daughter’s clothes would be effected by my mom “watching” my one year old while I slept an extra thirty minutes.

Mom left to work, I exhaled loudly and began tackling the hurricane of clothes once again, but the kids didn’t mind as they got an hour of Saturday morning cartoons under their belt. After a late breakfast, I rushed out the door.

10:20 A.M. On my way to the cemetery my mom informs me that she can not make a wholesale delivery, because she doesn’t want to leave the store. The store wouldn’t be unattended. She had three workers there. She just didn’t want to leave her supervisory role at the time. I needed to drive forty minutes to the shop, pick up the chicken and drive it over to the restaurant to drop it off.

What time?

Yeah .. the baby’s nap time. She’s aware of the kids’ schedule. She’s aware of how sleep deprived I am and how when the baby actually decides to listen to me during the day and take a nap I feel victorious. I feel Woo-hoo! It’s a time when I get to eat lunch, clean up the tsunami of toys sprawled across the floor, wash dishes, play with my son, or perhaps even take a shower if my son decides to take a nap. Nap time is a cherished event for all worn-out defeated parents. And those of you who rob of us this luxury should really be penalized in some form. I don’t care who you are, you should suffer some consequence.

But this did not happen.

So I shortened my stay at the cemetery, picked up my cards at the stationery store, did not address them or deliver them, and reluctantly picked up a sandwich and french fries from the deli so the kids could eat lunch in the car (never a good idea as bread crumbs and parts of mayonnaise, salami and french fries always find their way to the floor mats, back seats, and nooks and crannies of the car).

12:25 P.M. Usually nap time. But drove to the shop.

1:05 P.M. Arrived in a salami and mayonnaise smelling vehicle.

1:10 P.M. Left with 30 pounds of chicken to be delivered.

1:35 P.M. Daughter, in a cranky mood for the last ten minutes, finally falls asleep. Get to the restaurant, make the delivery, and head back home.

2:10 P.M. Arrive home. Try to sneakily take baby out of her car seat and continue the napping experience, but failed as the neighbor’s dog begins to bark. I take her inside and try to put her back to sleep for the next fifteen minutes … denied. She’s up and running.

2:25 P.M. Could really use some chocolate right about now.

2:26 P.M. Try and begin Operation Mop&Glo-Comet-Simple Green on the first floor. It’s hard to do while carrying a baby in your arms, but I think my biceps are getting up to body-builder status.

2:30 P.M. They want a snack. Fruit. We ran out of fruit. But they want fruit. But we don’t have any. But they want it. Field trip to the grocery store.

3:30 P.M. Baby falls asleep in the car again. No fruit for her. I take her out successfully and put her in the crib. I fix my son a snack and commence the cleaning phase.

4:00 P.M. Baby wakes up.

4:01 P.M. Dizzy from all the cleaning, I decide it’s time to go to the post office, and drop off the cards before they close at five.

4:20 P.M. Arrive at post office. It closes at four on Saturdays. I should have known. I exhale and mail the cards anyway.

4:40 P.M. Return home.  I begin emptying out the car so that my sister, Queen of the Nile, isn’t burned out from the toy clutter.  But according to my son, it’s family play time so I need to go inside.

5:20 P.M. My dude comes home from work and just as I am informing him that he needs to assist me during the Comet phase of this operation. My mom calls. Says she has run out of chicken. Can my dude go get chicken from the distributor, before they close at six, and then drive all the way over to the shop to deliver it.

I remind her that Queen of the Nile arrives at 7:00 P.M. and that she gets a little hostile when people are not on time. I remind her that I can’t take the kids with me, because my sister and her family have brought six ginormous suitcases. She reminds me that they’ve run out of chicken and that she’s pretty hostile.  He leaves, kids finish dinner, then watch some Nickelodeon while I continue my cleaning project.

As the clock winds down, I feel like one of those Price Is Right contestants scrambling to finish before time runs out, only I don’t get prize.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

6:57 p.m. He returns.

6:57 p.m. I’m out the door.

I’m lucky that baggage claim takes forever. I’m lucky we only live fifteen minutes away from the airport.

7:18 p.m. I pull into the airport, she’s standing outside with her entourage and baggage. I eat a piece of chocolate, take a deep breath, and open the door.

She’s not smiling, but she’s not hostile either.



The Guat’s Halloween-athon

31 Oct

I’m exhausted. If I was a bad mother I’d be full of energy right now, but I consider myself a pretty good Guat parent, so when it comes to Halloween I try to fit in as much fun as possible. From sunlight to moonlight the Halloween-athon was in full effect.

This is why I’m in need of Advil and a good massage.


It always starts and ends with the pumpkins.


Party at school.

We got dressed up and ready for the costume parade at school where Thor, gladiators, superheros, astronauts, cowboys and firefighters strutted their stuff.


Checking out the real deal.

After school we headed to the fire station so that my son could show off his costume and ask about a million questions, which he does every time we visit. Except this time it looked more official, considering he was wearing his uniform.


The baking begins.

After all that excitement we went home for snack time and began our baking project. Pumpkin pie … from scratch. Oh … yeah … it was on. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and never attempted. Visiting the pumpkin patch the other day got me into the spirit so I decided why not? This of course is how all Bucket List items begin for me.

I began the pumpkin pie baking journey with my son. Step one … making your own pumpkin puree. Step Two … follow Bobby Flay‘s Pumpkin Pie recipe. We got to mixing, whisking, pouring, and baking.


Jack-o-Lantern Time

While the pie was baking we decided to carve the pumpkins and baby sister decided to help her four-year old brother remove the seeds. There was pumpkin membranes and pumpkin seeds on every surface, including the dog.



This was our finished product. I know it looks basic, but it was a very creative and skillful effort on the part of my son and his awesome pumpkin carving tools. I was very proud of his cutting skills. Very patient. Very.


Ding! Ding! Ding! The Main Event.

Once the pumpkin pie was done and the Jack-O-Lantern was complete we ventured off into the night for some tricks-or-treats…mostly treats. A bucket full.


Spooky houses.


A different take on the Hollywood sign.


Some nice front lawn decor.


The best Halloween House I’ve seen.


Fountain at Boney Island house.


The tree house at Boney Island.


The window display at Boney Island house.


The porch at Boney Island house.

After all that trick-or-treating and hanging out at amazing Halloween houses, we headed home with a bucket full of Snickers, M&Ms, Twizzlers, Twix, and KitKats. People seemed to enjoy giving away chocolate. I had no problem with that. We plopped ourselves in front of the couch and watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My feet were thankful for the rest, so was my back.


My pumpkin pie 🙂

Then after giving the kids a bath, reading bedtime stories, putting them to sleep, putting the roasted pumpkin seeds in Ziploc containers, and washing the dishes, I finally ended my day — my Halloween-athon. One slice, one spoon, and a lot of whipped cream. It was a Guat-sized portion. I got a little carried away. I was proud of myself for making it … from scratch.  Ahhhh, that Bobby Flay … he rocks.

The Guats Hit the Farm

28 Oct

Ever since I decided to make my life less crappy with my own little Happiness Project, errands, like finding a pumpkin for my kids this Halloween season, take on a different meaning. This pumpkin is no longer a grocery item at the Farmer’s Market down the street. This pumpkin search becomes a project — one that requires a family field trip to the farm.


This was our first outing to the Underwood Family Farms and it proved to be an awesome country adventure as the Fall Harvest Festival was in full swing. Granted it took us over forty minutes to get there and my kids were running out of patience, but we made it — all in one piece.


John Deere rocks.

We started off with the Combine Slide, something  that my four-year old is very familiar with courtesy of one of his favorite shows Mighty Machines. We hung out here for a while and despite the massive slathering of Coppertone we got a nice tan.


The Hay Pyramids

This was followed by a little climbing. My son found the altitude of the hay stacks quite amazing, my daughter thought hay throwing was even more amazing.


Checking out the farm scene.

After all that activity, we decided to mingle with farm animals and my daughter decided to chat up a storm with the sheep. They were having a lengthy conversation — the kind where she screams and laughs, and they just stare.


The Brave Loner.

While the kids continued making friends with all the four-legged farm residents, I happened to glance up at the sky and notice this one goat … just thinking outside of the box when it came to walking around the farm. I was tripping out on his balancing skills and his I-got-this! high-beam walking routine. He’d rock the Olympic gymnastic stage.


Some kid causing traffic … and my son helping him out.

After all that walking around, my son decided to get behind the wheel. He hates traffic and managed to steer clear of it. But he realized that traffic jams happen on the farm too. But with his city mentality, he was able to get out of that one soon enough.


The Beginning of the maze.

After a couple of rides on his mini John Deere tractor, we decided to take the adventure out to the corn. With the sun beating down on us and the smell of food in the air I was hoping we’d get through it pretty quickly. I mean I went to college. I could do this.


We saw plenty of these signs on the way.

Getting lost in the maze cracked us up. It took us over twenty minutes to get through it. However, we never made it to the exit. We looped around and then left through the main entrance. Woo-Hoo! Let’s hear it for the college grad. For this valiant effort I decided to buy myself a shaved Hawaiian Ice. A large.


My son waving the flag.

Feeling corn-maze victorious, we headed over to one of the main events: The Pig Races. I had never been to one of these before and apparently it was a very popular event as the stands were packed with corn-on-the-cob eating spectators. We witnessed these spry three-month old pigs sprint  through a small obstacle course, and we cheered on the winner. I was happy when they asked for volunteers, because my son became one of the chosen ones. He was the blue flag holder and proud of it. He was pretty excited to see his pig win a race. Other than the mini train tractor ride around the farm, his pig coming in first place was the highlight of his day.


The House of Pumpkins.

However, the sun was getting hotter, and my one year-old was getting tired of all the hay and corn, so it was off to search for the pumpkin.


On a mission for The Great Pumpkin.


The produce.

We came across this funky-looking squash and my son decided it was not Halloween-worthy, so we left it at the farm, and continued our search.


The Patch

And wouldn’t you know it … just as we reached the ginormous pumpkin patch, my camera battery died. So most of the pumpkin-choosing memories remain tucked away in my Guat brain. But it’s a good archive, I got lots of pictures stored up in there.  So there were no worries … after all we didn’t go up there to take pictures, but to have a good time and sure enough, we did. Who knew pumpkins, corn on the cob, pig races and Hawaiian Ice would make for a Happiness Project moment. But it did. Pumpkin patches rock, just wish they were a little bit closer.


The Crazed Egg Hunter

7 Apr

Look at them … at first glance they look pretty normal — even caring.

But put a golden egg in front of them and they become this crazed, seething hunter trampling on anyone and anything in their way, including their own kid.

I’ve seen parents get a little pushy, but crazed egg-hunter bitches? That’s a whole new level.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easter egg hunts happening all weekend long and you’re bound to run into parents like these. Easter egg hunts are supposed to be family friendly. They’re supposed to give kids a chance to get their own eggs, that’s why they split the kids up by age. They should split the parents up.

It’s funny how everyone followed the rules at first. There’s a multitude of brightly colored eggs scattered all over the baseball field. Everyone is lined up in the outfield and along the fence. They tell you to stand back. Don’t start ’till you hear the whistle.

There’s no caution tape. No ropes. No red tape. Just you and the honor system. And everybody follows it. A kid walks out and the parent hauls him back in line and explains that it’s not time yet. Everyone was lining up — waiting for the countdown.


A marathon of parents rush the field along with their toddlers and three-year olds. Most follow the egg protocol, where they head to a patch of grass and collect five, maybe six eggs. Kids are happy, parents are happy.

But then there’s the crazed hunter who sees the golden egg, glistening in the sun. Is there something special to it? A dollar bill? A gift certificate? A Willy Wonka Golden Ticket? Yeah, maybe. I dont’ know I’ve never been the crazed parent to get one. But there must be something special because the guy with the microphone said they were special. Plus there were only five of them on the field.

It was these five special golden eggs that created the madness.

So after countdown I see him sprint by, dragging his poor kid past all these rainbow-colored eggs. She reaches for an orange egg during the race, but it’s out of her reach as her dad pulls her toward the golden egg. He picks up speed as he sees another crazed egg hunter sprinting toward the same egg. His daughter’s shoe falls off, but he doesn’t stop. She cries. He runs.

As he sprints to one of the five special eggs, he crushes a blue plastic egg that a kid with a dinosaur shirt was planning on putting in his basket. He doesn’t look back. He doesn’t say he’s sorry. He keeps going. It’s a race to beat the other parent.

He finally sees it within his grasp. He bumps into another kid, and sidelines an adult. He notices the other crazed parent is close, but according to his estimate he’s closer. A kid with a baseball cap pops out of no where and it becomes a three-way race. I’m rooting for the kid, but as he stretches his hand out for that special egg the man busts out his Andre-the-Giant hands and grabs that golden egg in one swoop. The kid looks startled, as the man clutches onto the prized egg. The other crazed hunter is upset and continues her scramble.

There are no more eggs on the field. He’s got one. The one. Everybody stares in amazement. He shows the egg to his daughter. She’s angry because she wanted the orange egg. She gives him a dirty look and walks back to the outfield, looking for her shoe.

He calls her name and shows her the egg again. She rolls her eyes and turns around.

I look at my son. He peeks inside his red bucket and smiles. He’s got seven eggs, all different colors. He picked them himself.