August 9, 2009

12 Things We Learned on Our Vacation

There is no denying this has been a pretty crap year for my kids. Lots of stress and turmoil mixed in with a few lovely moments that kept us all going. Figured we should make a few more lovely moments, so I took them on vacation.

We'd already planned on coming west to Washington for a family reunion. I turned that weekend into a two-week trip. It's the single longest vacation I've ever had ... and easily worth every moment of leave and every penny of savings I've poured into it.

Here are 12 things we learned on our vacation, in no particular order.
  1. There are at least 10 words for poop: caca, feces, droppings, guano, scat, spoor, manure, dung, ordure, excrement. Granted, I already knew most of those. But my kids were thrilled. A whole new set of potty words to play with. Yay. And many, many thanks to the "Animal Grossology" exhibit at Seattle's Pacific Science Center.
  2. Shouting "Uncle Jon is a poopyface!" to a mountain full of strangers is the surest way to get my kids to smile for a photo.
  3. My diva can sing. She had her little brother laughing hysterically in the voice synthesizer room at the Experience Music Project. But her Oma & I, off headsets, were treated to the real thing - a beautiful rendition of Hoku's Perfect Day. My diva rocks!
  4. My diva talks in her sleep. And her little brother snores.
  5. You can fake an underarm fart. I have not tried this myself, but my kids are available for demonstrations.
  6. If you're standing on the deck of a ferry zipping across Puget Sound, do not blow spit bubbles into the wind. My oldest learned this lesson the hard way.
  7. You can get a non-resident library card in Olympia for $10. Worth the price because it kept my Aspie awash in Hardy Boys books - a new discovery for him this trip. Why that's important: in one 24-hour period, between 6:33 p.m. on Wednesday and 6:33 p.m. on Thursday (yes, he kept track), he read three whole books cover to cover. And he could tell me their plots. He did it again the next day.
  8. My redhead is four. He finally admitted it on Friday, just 6 days after his birthday.
  9. Cupcakes and bookstores are my family's answer to Prozac.
  10. The best vacations let you take a break every few days just to read, watch TV and play Uno.
  11. The subalpine meadows of Paradise at Mount Rainier were designed by Walt Disney. It's true. Just go visit Paradise some random August day and you'll see what I mean. It is, hands down, the prettiest place on earth.
  12. There are at least 35 people in the world who love my kids to pieces just because they were born. They love me, too. I knew that, in my heart of hearts, but it helps to be reminded.
When you get right down to it, of course, a single mom is never really on vacation. In these two weeks, I've barely had time to knit a full row, read a page in my book or even take a shower in peace. But I did get to spend real time with my kids. I read them books and held their hands and tickled them till they couldn't stop laughing. I showed them a bison and an elk, taught them how to find a good skipping stone, and took them to the Pacific Ocean. Well, close to it, anyway. And, in between "Don't hit your brother" and "Keep your spit in your mouth," I got to listen to them. They are great kids.

Turns out, I've missed them.

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