Thirteen, for a moment

July 14, 2017

I used to call the moments of brain dysfunction writer’s block. But after the birth of my third (then fourth kid) mom brain has become the more appropriate term. It was about my second pregnancy when I realized how downright dumb I felt. As if my intelligence and actions were somehow blocked, like a kink in a hose blocking water flow. I’m smarter than this, when I walked into the kitchen for the tenth time forgetting I simply needed a glass of water. There was an incident, somewhere near the end of my second pregnancy, that involved a parked car and me fleeing to another grocery store to make it go away. Hit and run sounds so dirty, so we will call it a panicked pregnancy glitch followed by a knock at the door. It didn’t take long. It was the image of a pregnant woman, wet from sweat and tears on hot June day, and an equally confused husband who just couldn’t answer the question of why, that most likely got me in much less trouble than I deserved. To this day, I can’t answer the question of why beyond the loss of reason, intelligence and impulse control that goes along with a body swelling with hormones and water retention.

Continue reading Thirteen, for a moment

The Answer is in the Dunes

The days after my trip have left me with a mess of maps, notebooks, pictures and memories. As I arrange myself back into everyday, real, adult life, I hold onto a longing for the freedom that is the open road and no plan. My vacation was completely immature; an itch to satisfy curiosity and wake up every day to an adventure. I took my baby,my toddler and two teenage girls away from their comfort zones. I risked tantrums and eye rolls and bickering about who has to lean over the seat to grab the truck Jackson has thrown for the twentieth time. We ran out of everything, diapers, milk, cell phone data, patience, money, batteries, tolerance for camping and even sunny days.
Being back to adult life now, I can only relive the journey by writing about it. There are so many pictures and moments and stories that I am excited to share. We did it. We drove six thousand miles in two weeks with four kids. We are better people because of it. The best place to start? right in the middle.
July 14,2016

We are driving somewhere through Idaho. Potatoes, Napoleon Dynamite. Why do I keep saying Iowa? What do I expect? Even now, I can’t fully describe Idaho. It was everything. Farmlands sprinkled with mountains and corn and windmills. Lava rocks, desert, sand dunes. The landscape has more colors then Sherwin Williams and every hue glows. It was surreal, like the way Dorthy must have felt when she walked out of her house to a world suddenly filled with color.

I looked over my shoulder and the babies were peacefully asleep. Tired out from a morning of swimming and another day of new experiences.  They were snuggled into their car seats in the midst of a snoring contest. The girls are in the way back. Like typical teenagers they have headphones permanently attached to their ears and some electronic attached to their hands. Their faces are fixated on the window. The miracle of Idaho. More wondrous then the appeal of YouTube. More interesting then the feed of Instagram. They stopped to stare. We all did. We couldn’t stop looking. The radio was singing Band of Horses to us.
“But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do. No one’s gonna love you more than I do”

I looked over at Josh driving and held his hand. We were all here, in this moment in complete awe. I knew it was coming. I felt the urge in the back of my throat. Tears. I don’t even know why. The sky, the water, the mountains, the music, my family, the moment. It all hit me. And for the first time in a while, I cried over something good.

“Where are you going on vacation?” random person asks.
“We are going to Oregon. Driving from Ohio. For two weeks.”
The reactions were priceless. Some were more polite (while inner questioning of my sanity)
Driving? Yes. With four kids? Yes. 39 Hours. Each way. Six thousand miles, in two weeks. Where are you going to stay? With friends some nights and some nights we will camp. Some are perplexed. Some are vocal. Some are in awe and some tell me they took a road trip as a kid and it was their most memorable vacation. I hear the voices, and the doubtful ones are the loudest. What were we thinking?
The truth is, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Josh and I had one of those nights where we probably drank too much wine and started fantasizing about this magical family road trip. I became Clark Griswold and started thinking about this adventure to Wally World. (Or in our case Oregon). The writer in me took over. It became this Kerouac meets Hunter S.Thompson meets Harry Potter dream world I cooked up in my head. I don’t know what we were supposed to find driving for days and exploring the Northwestern part of the United States. I knew it was missing. It became boggled up in the stress of our life. For me, the stress has become cumbersome. The kids felt it, and Josh felt it. I could no longer function as adult. I needed a break.
Today, we have comfortable settled into our nomadic, gypsy life. We faced uncertainty and found the flaw in our lax attitude toward planning. We had our Wally World moment (that’s for a whole other story). Today, I found the point of this trip – the journey, the adventure, started to reveal itself.  As I actually see “purple mountains and amber waves of grain” I know that my soul feels this. It is happy to the point of tears and every day we are out on the road is another  brilliant  fucking adventure.

We arrived at Bruneau Dunes State park. It was in the middle of vast farmland and we had been the only car on the road for miles. The landscape opened up and there they were: Sand dunes. I had never seen such massive sand dunes before. There were maybe thirty campsite and enough people there that it wasn’t creepy but not too much for over crowding. The sites were shaded under trees in an otherwise desert area. The dunes outlined the landscape like they were looking over the sites and the land ensuring this was a safe place to be. There was no attendee just a card we filled out that claimed site 21 just for us. As we unloaded our tents, I made a pact that I could run to the top of a dune. no problem. (easier said than done). Olivia was anxious to swim. (her goal everyday). We found a lake and it was what exactly we needed. This was our greatest camping experience. It was the reason we took this trip. After our nightly ritual of cooking hot dogs on a fire followed by S’mores, the girls took Jackson in the tent and he fell asleep nestled between them watching the Lego Movie for the millionth time. (next road trip note: have more than two movies downloaded to tablet). Cece was snuggled in my arms asleep with her thumb in her mouth. I didn’t want to go to bed because it would mean the day was over. Josh and I sat there in our American flag camping chairs with our wine under a clear sky sprinkled with stars and the sound of a coyote howling in the distance. We are halfway between Denver CO and Eugene OR and miles away from everything else we know.


April 15, 2012
“Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me. Other times I can barely see. Lately it occurred to me, What a long strange trip its been…” Grateful Dead

This is the story about a girl and a truck. Once upon a time, this girl always rode in trucks. I can barely remember a time when my Dad was with out truck. In the nineties he drove a red molester van, complete with no back seat. I remember we would ride in the back of the van, usually sitting on lawn chairs and laughing hysterically when he would make a turn and we would tilt sideways and go flying. Other times, he would drive a group of girls home from baseball practice. Since it was the pre cell phone (and even pre pager) era, there was no way to for a parent to call (or text) and say they were running late. If a kid was parent-less after all the bats and helmets were cleaned up, bases were neatly packed in the shed and the infield was raked, then that kid was getting a rid home in the big red seatless Econoline. When you packed in five girls, a large sack of bats and some random tools from whatever construction site he was working, the ride home became an adventure. We used to slide around every turn he made and try to dodge the bat bag as it went gliding back and forth with each stop. We also had a long line of trucks. I forget their names now, but there was a couple red ones, a blue one, and most recently a white one. He is the all-American. We used to love to ride in the back of the truck and sit right on the edge. We would roll around as the truck was in motion and jump out the back right before he had a chance to make a complete stop. Can you imagine this now? The commotion that came about when Britany Spears drove with a kid in her lap was a random act of weekend twenty years ago. (insert walk to school uphill both ways line here…). How else did you please a whinny toddler but to let them sit on your lap as you gently held down the gas and they turned the wheel? Things are way different now. Kids don’t ride in the back of trucks, on lawn chairs in work vans and they definitely don’t steer cars for grown ups.
There is something about a truck that makes me think of those days when riding on the corner of the truck bed as the wind whipped through your hair as you were on your way to get ice cream that takes me back to a time of my life where things were just simpler. There was no job, no responsibilities, no financial difficulties, there was just long and lazy days of summer. The back of a truck was an endless source of entertainment as well as great way to haul lots of kids and baseball bats to Dairy Queen. You would double dare someone to hold their arms up like a roller coaster as the truck was rolling down a hill. It was a slow motion forever young moment where the only decision I was making was what kind of ice cream cone I would get. Since my dad passed down a truck recently, I have been getting that nostalgic truck feeling. I love driving a is such a bad girl feeling. The kids say they feel more important riding in the truck. (buckled in the back seat of the extended cab of course). When the truck is parked in the drive way, I watch them play in the bed..enjoying a beautiful day. I smile and hope they have the same truck love as I do.






The Swing

March 19, 2012

What is it about a swing that makes kids so happy? I love the way they squeal with joy when their feet touch the sky. Nothing makes you feel more youthful and free than being on a become that kid again who thinks they are a bird. You start to sway really slow then gain a bit of momentum by pumping your legs. Legs out, legs tuck, lets out, legs tuck. Sometimes you hold on tight to the cold chain and lean back slowly to let the air puncture your cheeks. Then you arch your body forward so the back of your head gets a turn in the breeze. There is something completely magical about a swing. Who came up with this concept of a piece of rubber fastened to a chain so perfectly that it molds to every bottom? Our ten-day forecast in Ohio: amazing. With all stress and tension building up in my life, I couldn’t think of anywhere better to go than to the playground. Josh and me played “best aunt and uncle ever” by taking the girls and my three year old niece on a walk to the playground yesterday. The sun was hot and the air had that perfect spring breeze as we pulled the little one in a wagon and the girls rode their bikes. Immediately the kids ran to the swings. “Push me! Push me!” they would yell. I remember when the girls were little; they didn’t know how to make themselves go on the swing. I think that is one of those moments of motherhood that goes vaguely noticed but appreciated…the moment the kids can pump there legs and you don’t have to push. I remember standing there pushing and pushing while they laughed..”Higher! Faster!” Push, push. “Are you good?” I would ask…my arms starting to get stiff from the constant motion. I start to think of things I could be doing while they were playing. I could be thumbing thought a magazine or getting their snack ready. I could be lying on a bench staring straight up at the clouds watching the day slowly float by. But there I was, pushing and pushing…making a funny face as they would soar closer to me. Then one day, they don’t need me. They run over to a swing and start pumping their legs while I sit on a nearby bench and update my facebook status. As I stared at the clouds slowly floating by, I thought about how fast my kids have grown. They went from needing me to do everything to barely needing me at all. They can make their own food, ride their own bikes and push their own swings. I sometimes forget the little things. Some days, I get a memory or a glimpse of them when they were small…or even my own youth. I try to hold on to the good things….like tiny fingers clutching the chain on a swing crying out for more. If you are having trouble my recommendation is to head to your nearest playground..grab a swing and let your feet soar in the air.


Shirt/Pants: The Gap
Shoes: Teva

Writing Prompt: Think of something you loved to do as a child. Was it a playground or a swing or your bike. Think of how you learned this activity and why it meant so much to you. Tell a story of you as a kid enjoying this activity and imagine yourself as an adult trying to do the same.