Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Vacation 101.

Summer vacation? Kids out of school? On an academic schedule and finished until fall? 

Welcome to Mama Amy Bee: Summer Vacation 101. 

Here's how to have a kick-ass summer. Have fun in the sun. Get laid in the shade. Or some other bullshit you write in each other's yearbook. 

  • Make a plan... Brainstorm with the family, your partner or on your own! Explore your community, take a road trip or dream up a big, fancy fly-me-to-the-moon holiday. But figure out how you'd like to spend your summer break and write that shit down. Otherwise you'll wander around, not doing anything remotely vacation-y and you'll hate yourself come September. If you have kids that can't write (well) then have them draw pictures, cut out photos from magazines or dictate what they want to do. If anything, it's pretty entertaining to hear what adventures they want to have! And it may be surprisingly pretty simple: walk in the park, stomp in puddles, make lemonade. Little did you know you can make your kids happy with the simple joys in life. Who needs Disney?!  Plus, when your kids (or you) claim boredom, you just have to whip out that list and voila! It not only works for kids but for you, too! It helps break up the odd jobs around the house and reminds you to take advantage of the fabulous energy of summer. 
  • ...but remain flexible. Yes, make a plan. Brainstorm lots of great activities, but don't feel locked into what you think summer should entail. Flexibility lets you have a wider variety of experiences. Check in with your friends and family to see what they do during the summer months. Explore a different part of the country that you have yet to visit. Order a different flavor of ice cream or search out activities that are new to you. Crazy, right?
  • Embrace summer-y foods. Visit your farmers' market and plan your meals around what's available. Fire up that grill and plan meals that don't require you to heat up the oven. Make a big bowl of pasta salad to keep in the refrigerator for an easy meal. Want some hot meals? Use the crockpot to cook up a batch of soup and compliment it with a loaf of crusty bread. And head to those wineries and breweries you've been wanting to visit. 
  • Love and MOVE your body! Head to the beach and lounge seaside. Cannonball into the pool! Play that game of volleyball at the next picnic, even if you are awful. Play frisbee and softball and ride that bicycle. Your body is what it is. You can either move it and make healthy choices or you can feed it garbage and keep it stagnant. But love it and move it and take advantage of the summer fun that is not available come September (or October or November...). 
  • Create a tradition. Decide what tradition you want to start and keep it going (for as long as it works for you or your family). It may be vacationing with family or friends, heading off with your family to a special location or taking time away on your own. Whatever it is, it's fun to have something to look forward to every summer. 
There. I hope you have a great summer with the tips provided. But don't blame me if it sucks ass. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traveling sucks.

I don't feel like going on vacation! Maybe I'll just stay home!


Traveling does not bring out the best in my family. It makes us all shitty and makes me want to crawl into bed and hide. It's the packing and cleaning beforehand and the anticipating that just makes us quick to anger. 

I get into this manic mode when we head out of town, unless I'm uncomfortably pregnant or newly postpartum or in a lazy place in my life. I want to clean and organize and get our house in order before walking out the door. I don't know if it's because I'm prepping for our return or maybe I'm just afraid if we all went down what people would think of our home with its seventeen baskets of laundry and dog-hair covered floors and dirty sinks. 

My husband, bless his heart, is short on patience and complains we're bringing too much (says the man that packed a crockpot for our three-day stay at a rented house in Michigan). He takes packing the car seriously, maximizing space like no-one's business. But heaven forbid another bag appears once he thinks he's finished packing! His easy going nature turns sour for those few hours spent tackling the last-minute tasks that simply must get done before leaving the house on a so-called relaxing vacation. 

And let's not get started on the children. 

Luckily, the tension eases a bit once we're in the groove of the vacation, though there's no telling what will make one of us snap. It's actually kind of like a game: when will someone in this family lose their shit and make everyone's mood sour? We should really take bets and make some money on this life of ours. 

I give it ten minutes. No, eight.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


When I return to my childhood home, I enjoy looking around. One may call it snooping, but I hardly call it that when I did used to live there. Surely I have some right to look in the drawers and cabinets that are no longer filled with my belongings.

Snooping, er, I mean exploring, isn't anything new for me. 

I grew up with an older brother, and I adored him. I thought he was the coolest, best brother EVER. And I just wanted to know everything about him. With more than three years between us, he didn't exactly share his feelings or happenings with me. So I needed to learn more about him through my regular wanderings through his bedroom. I found flannel shirts to borrow, music to jam out to, and yearbooks to flip through. I never found anything newsworthy, which I'm sure he'll be happy to learn, but I felt a bit closer to my only sibling. 

I explored my parents' bedroom the same way, opening drawers and seeing what was kept away from my prying eyes. Again, nothing grand, though I did get an idea what my parents valued and felt was worth keeping. I might complain about my mom never getting rid of things, but I'm now thankful she has stored things away; I find my old school papers, wallet sized photos of me in fourth grade, letters I mailed her while I was in college. Knowing she's kept these reminds me of her love for me and her interest in my life. That feels good. 

Now, as a mother and wife, I'm faced with the opportunity to explore my husband's boxes holding his letters, pictures, writings, music. I can look through my children's dresser drawers, which is where my daughter tends to store her special Valentines and drawings and birthday goody bag treats. I wonder if my children and husband ever look for mementos from my previous life, the one before I was married and had children. 

I think about how I'll handle their privacy as the years go by; I don't have any interest in snooping through my husband's collection of stuff from throughout his past, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious what he's found important to keep around. And my children aren't so private that I really want to look around without their knowledge. But what happens if my children become highly private and secretive and they close me out? What happens if I ask to read my husband's latest writing but he tells me he's not ready to share yet? Will I find myself compulsively wanting to snoop? To learn more about them through their computer files, emails, texts? 

Ugh. I really hope not! I want to maintain the openness and trust we share now. It's easy to say I will respect my children's privacy and closed doors and hidden journals. But what if they grow older and push me away? What if I'm worried for their safety and health? What then? 

I think about my relationships with those I love, and I know I want to nourish these relationships so that I don't resort to snooping. Because love and trust and respect not only come from relationships but they also make them stronger. It's this big cycle- love and trust and respect begets love and trust and respect. Right? 

Or am I wrong?