Wow, it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about our family vacation !!! How can I not share a 2,000 Miles road trip to the land where one of the most popular songs is: ‘Whiskey in my water’?
After last year’s post-vacation meltdown, I was adamant that this year was going to be 360 degrees different and I had a checklist to keep my eyes on the ball:
– No flying – CHECK. We were going to drive so if the kids loose it we will be able to stop and let them have a total freak out while I drink wine or eat chips (my number one food comfort)
– Go somewhere I cannot be judged on my parenting skills in high stress situations – CHECK. We were traveling to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, bystanders probably will have no fucking clue of what ‘tu vas arrêter de faire chier ou pas????’ means and DOUBLE CHECK since we were renting a beach house with our friend Rafa, dad of two, who as a good old Marseillais swears like a truck driver. And thus cannot possibly judge me by the number of times I say FUCCCKKK!!!!
– Travel with child free and zen master/helper/masochist/friend who can suffer 50 renditions of ‘Let it go’ belted out by a trashier/less talented Von Trapp family without wincing – CHECK. Our girlfriend Maro from Berlin agreed to carpool from NYC. The girl is a top finance executive and a rock band drummer. We are a lightweight challenge for her…Plus I have checked and there were no major international airports between DC and Miami thus a reduced likelihood to dump us at a local mama’s fried chicken dinner.
What I love about road trips besides the fact my 3 kids are restrained in their car seats 4 hours a day is that you really get to discover the country you visit and in this instance, the very country I do now live in. And I have indeed learnt many,many things:
– Americans have this reputation of never traveling overseas. Europeans are often gobsmacked by this fact and often use it to evidence ill placed superiority. I now understand better why they don’t travel overseas: each state is really like a freaking different country…In the space of 2 weeks, we traveled to Gritty Philly, Complex Virginia between North and South, Rugged North Carolina, Laid Back South Carolina, Proud Romantic Georgia and for some reasons though the time zone has not changed I felt I had to adjust.
– Indians had no horses – originally! They used to travel by foot until the Spanish conquistadores brought horses into the country. Can you believe this? This fact just floored me. I hate you John Wayne.
– People don’t ‘mix’ in some states. I keep bragging about how every single kid the age of my children is of mixed cultural heritage in my neighborhood Well…Down in the South, blonde people are really, really blonde and black people are really, really black. And they don’t sit at the same tables. I swear. And then, I remembered that interracial marriages was legalized in those states less than 50 years ago in this part of the States. Blimey. I got a whole new understanding/appreciation for the civil rights movement in this country and of why it is a fucking big deal that Obama was twice elected president. Anyway, people on the beach could not figure out our crowd like AT ALL. What are these people: the mix raced couple with 3 ‘Chinese’ children, the Aryan lookalike family and the single child free almost 40 year old woman. An why do they ‘speak Cajun’?
– Americans do the beach differently to Europeans. They are fucking pros: 3 coolers on wheels, a gigantic gazebo that protects 6 adults, 4 teenagers, 3 toddlers, 6 foldable chairs, beers, food for the whole day, music player, planned activities american football for mornings, volleyball with proper nets for afternoons, tanning with feet in the ocean during low tide, BBQ for sunset. Meanwhile our crew of 5 adults and 5 tots were fighting over 1 seat/cooler placed under the one and only umbrella when we were not busy pushing ‘going to fall apart’ strollers on the sand…All this plus the non stop ‘Tu vas arreter, oui????'(‘are you going stop??? in a very, very loud voice) did set us apart. LOSERS. The funniest thing is that – unbeknownst to us when we booked our vacation – staying in Hilton Head Island meant a certain etiquette, savoir-vivre and bank account …so our fellow beach goers were rather dismayed by the bunch of tramps we were.
– P thinks that her twerking in our home bathtub is actual swimming, which is a problem when you rent a house with a not child safe swimming pool. I will spare you the drama…but yeah…Parent of the year award
– DH does not know the difference between a dolphin and a thin shark and thought it was clever to flap the water to call out a ‘dolphin’ while swimming with G. Someone will have to/be made to rewatch Blue Planet.
On this note, I shall finish with a list of country songs titles from the Highway radio. Hope all of you are having a kick ass summer! Xoxo
Made in America
Whiskey in my water
I am in hurry
Like a cowboy
Kiss me when I am down
Keep them kisses coming
Small town throwdown
(I am getting) Drunk on a plane
Hungover [please do appreciate that this song often followed the one title above – gotta love country music radios]
That s how we do summertime
I don’t dance
Country girl (shake it for me)
Hope you get lonely tonight
I described the challenge of packing a stylish vacation wardrobe with now 3 kids in tow. So I looked for some inspirations, this blog post by Ain’t no mom jeans is particularly useful. I also decided to curb my fashion schizophrenia by adopting only one look for the entire vacation: the 40s. The idea is that it will help me filter through outfits and accessories and thus pack light (or at least lighter). It will be tough for me because I never stick to one style – see my ‘mood of the day’ posts.
First item on the packing list: Le chapeau.
Options included straw men’s hat, a cap with visor, a cowboy’s hat, and a straw large brim. The main attribute should be ‘easy to carry around’ but I favored the ‘I don’t care if it gets trashed’ factor because on my last trip to France, I wanted to show off to my family my millinery skills so I flew with my straw cloche. It was my way to say ‘No, I am not a jobless loser. I kind of make my own hats…How cool is that?’ But unfortunately a fellow passenger put their suitcase on top of it….Nice. I almost sobbed in the middle of the aisle. I have thus chosen a granny brim purchased in Savannah, Georgia which I improved with a striped scarf. The plus factor: I can pack a couple of ‘no space cluttering’ scarves as alternative trimmings. Still schizophrenic but genius, right?
I am throwing in two pairs of sunnies, a cheap one and a Tom Ford pair: one to wrestle with the kids in the pool and one to pose with on a bar terrace.
PS: my rants of the day
– I had to buy something in the village for my sis today and ended up walking in the meat packing district. I adore this hood but could not help feeling like I was the protagonist of the ‘Truman show’, except that it was more like the ‘Cindy Crawford’ show. In the meatpacking, all the women are long legged amazons, all men are like Richard effing Branson and I am the naive troll wandering around wondering if unbeknownst to me I crashed into a Style Network production.
– I did some shopping in a department store in Chelsea (aka known as gay and skinny Chelsea)and a shop assistant heckled me:’Mommy, mommy, the fitting rooms are over there’. I was like ‘Am I in the maternity section?’ and thus checked if I had picked nursing tops…Horror, I had not. She bloody thought I was pregnant !!! B-I-T-C-H.
PS bis: in the middle of the rush hour at 34th st Herald Square, a perfect falsetto rose. A big guy was singing a Maxwell (I think) song, he did not have a GQ face but a voice that stopped at least 50 people in their tracks: young African American teenagers, tourists, commuters, elderly people, busy mamas etc. I love this city for the sickening volume of talents you can find at every corner. And when that talent stops time, unites such crowd and makes me forget about the sticky weather and my swollen feet, it is just magical. New York, I am going to miss you on my vacation…
I have been in denial for about 6 months but it is high time I face reality: we are really going to France in one week with the 3 kids, stopping in Paris, Corsica, Bergerac and Paris again. It is happening. 5 flights. 3 rental cars. 2 strollers. 2 trains. Why do people insist calling this inane experiment ‘vacation’?
I have planned details of this trip in my head over and over again and considering the little amount of time I am sleeping these days, I am telling you this: it is a shit load of hours. But every single time, it ends with another question, another dead end and another panic attack a la Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of Scream 1. With less blood and more weird facial expressions. Here’s what has been doing my head in.
Transport and logistics
First we have to reach the airport. How to do this when you need 3 car seats ? We pondered all options:
– rented mini van with rented 3 car seats; as costly as an air ticket to Puerto Rico
– rented mini van with our own 3 obnoxiously gigantic car seats aka ‘The Thrones’; but who is going to drive us and bring back the seats all the way to Harlem on a school night? N-O O-N-E
– 2 cabs without the car seats, do I really want to be squishing my babies on the back seat praying our cab driver’s alter ego is not a NASCAR driver?
I have currently (who knows everything can change in a whim) settled for: the 3 musketeers (DH, Thor and Archibald) with the 3 Chucky dolls on the A train all the way to JFK airport and me in a cab with all the luggage. DH is very trustful; it did not cross his mind that I, lunatic mama, could take a cab and come back home for a stay-cation on my own. Pure Evil.
Supply chain management
Second, I need to figure out how to optimize our supply of baby food, fresh milk, diapers, swim diapers, wipes, sun block, pool toys, water, summer and ceremony clothes, presents for all the kids in both our families etc. I also need to figure out the transportation and logistics: which strollers we are bringing where, where to store things, how many high chairs and baby carrier to borrow. Procurement will be key: online orders and getting my sister, my friend Tess who is traveling by car and my mother in law to purchase presents and diapers stash. The major headache is how will we smuggle and store fresh milk to give the kids in the plane as we are landing in Paris after an overnight flight? As you know they are milk addict and do NOT shut up until they get some (one day I will film this and post it; it is worse than Evil Dead meets Kruger). The five of us might get quarantined in the restrooms by the flight attendants. What is mostly depressing about these thorough processes is that their main outputs will be: poop and soiled diapers. OK maybe , some smiles from the kids too but mainly poop really…
Rocking the vacation look
When I was a single gal, I used to love packing because I would spend days visualizing outfits and their variations for every single day of my vacation. I thus always travelled with 3 full bags of accessories (necklaces, bangles, earrings, brooches, hair pieces, ribbons, hair pins, 2 thread bobbins and a needle – always ready to do a hair pin on a whim) and 2 bags of make up including 4 lipsticks: 2 shades of red, 1 brown and 1 gold. I won’t even start on the number of shoes I used to travel with.
When I moved in with DH, things changed a little. First, he is a ‘5 Ts, 5 pairs of trousers, 5 underwear, 5 pairs of socks’ guy …and 2 pairs of shoes (how is it possible???). His favorite Ts brands are: IECS (the French business where we met), Pepperdine (the university where he got his MBA), Bank X (where he works) and NY Knicks. In short, he is all about Cotton-Cheap-Comfort. I started to feel self conscious about how much space I was using in our collective luggage so I started to streamline. But now with 3 babies, I am screwed. I may have to wear the same underwear two days in a row.
DH and I being DH and I, we did not opt for the easy vacation model: get your ass to paradise, do not move your ass in resort and let some people wipe your kids’ asses. Example: Club Med in Punta Cana. Instead we are renting a house in Corsica in which kids under 5 are overpowering the number of adults (7 against 6). The upcoming post in this leg of our trip is likely to be graphic to say the least. If we survive this, we will then join DH’s family to celebrate our nephew’s birthday and the first time the whole family gets together in 3 years. And if we survive this, we will then meet with my eccentric family for my brother’s 600+ guests wedding. It is a guesstimate since I heard that my mom has been copying wedding invitations behind my brother’s back to distribute…She did this for my wedding too. I remembered her showing the color copies oblivious and totally proud of their quality while I almost fainted from anger.
Yes I am stressed out. It does not help that my man, aka Mr Cool Dude, has a very bad case of departure HAADDA, Hyper activity Attention Deficit Disorder Anxiety, whether it is to go on vacation in Thailand or to go to take the path to Hoboken. He babbles random ‘to do’ lists for about a month, asks thousand of questions, puts me in charge and then on departure day he suddenly becomes Manimal: he turns red, sweats profusely, breathes heavily and turns into a yapping hyena. It is scary. He always claimed it was in his DNA. It is actually true. His family is like this bourgeois family in which home you could hear a pin drop but when they have to go somewhere. Oh boy…It is like Game of Thrones: a massacre. Everyone goes out for the jugular. And the weaker fall one after the other. I usually try to hide terrified. You know the one that pretends to be dead until the battle is over? Yep, that is me.
4 days left and I am still contemplating. All thinking, no doing. See my bedroom. Yes it is a sewing machine in the background because I have sooooo much time to make blankets right now. I am so random.