April 12, 2010

capuano family tour de USA

we are going on a road trip. not just any 8 hour, day long road trip... we are going across the great u. s. of. a. yes, our van has 160,000 miles on it. yes, we have many, many small children. yes, i only recently got my driver's license. yes, we are clinically insane. but, it's true. we are going to do it.

we are taking a month (well, a couple days shy of four weeks) and driving across the country with four kids. 6, 4, 2, and 6 months. we are in the early stages of planning, but we are leaving the day after our kids get out of school for the summer, and we will get back at the end of july. i am sure i will be blogging about this quite a bit as we make our plans, and am willing to commit to a certain number of blog entries during the trip for a small salary. or a large one. whatever.

so far, we are sure on the following details:

  1. we are camping in a tent. all six of us. in the same tent. all of us.
  2. we have a mad-tight budget. (and i mean is-it-wrong-to-make-the-kids-do-lemonade-stands-to-help-with-gas kinda tight.)
  3. we will stay mostly at free campgrounds, but will occasionally splurge on a campground that has shower/bathroom facilities. and about once a week we will stay in a cheap hotel or hostel to do laundry and shower. we will also be visiting friends, family and the occasional friend of a friend along the way. we are open to ideas about free accommodations if you have any. (in other words, does your aunt in utah have a finished basement?)
  4. we will have to bring a lot of crap. (we will have to use a car-top carrier, which is so obnoxious and embarrassing. my husband says they look like a big mac or whopper or something like that. it's funnier when he says it, or if you actually know the right hamburger reference.) i have a notepad that lists all the things we need to bring. it has a table of contents because there is so much crap you need when you traveling with one kid, let alone four. really, london is the one who is overpacking at this point. babies are so high-maintanence sometimes.
  5. we are seriously out of our minds.

at this point we are just trying to make sense of the route, the gear we need, the budget, the timing, and all the "what-ifs." (my what-if's include... what if we get a flat? what if we gets lots of flats? what if our van kicks the bucket mid-trip? what if tom really does make us drive to astoria, washington to see the museum that makes a brief cameo in the goonies? what if our kids cry incessantly the entire trip? what if a bear starts to eat me or one of my family members? what if we have to turn around after a few days because instead of instilling a sense of adventure and appreciation for nature, our kids develop an aversion to traveling and all things outdoors? what if tom continues to see this as an opportunity to purchase and use a tazer?)

the kids have been very involved in the preparations. we have been making lists of the gear we need, and marlie (4) reports that above all else we will need to bring "a computer to check the weather... or a window." harper (2) said that for our trip (or "chip" as he says) we will need a restaurant. annalee (6) is a little more pragmatic in her request for a tent.

hearing their idea of the essentials suggests to me that they really have no idea what we are about to do. and the reality is, we don't really either. i know that, along with all my worries, i have really high hopes for what we will experience as a family, what we will learn, and how we will grow. in the meantime, i am open to any advice about to prevent bear attacks.

April 9, 2010


if i read one more mommy blog, or article, or book about how not to be a stressed out mom... i am going to vomit. not because i think de-stressing is a bad thing, because i don't. i actually think it would be nice. i get suckered into reading these things because i actually would like to feel a little less overwhelmed. they all start the same way...

"are you stressed out? are you feeling overwhelmed? having a hard time juggling everyone's schedules?"

ummm, yes.

how about: "are your keys lost, your dinner burned and you haven't shaved your legs since '06? are you considering enlisting in the military because you need to get away and can't afford a vacation? can you remember the last time you showered? do you shower, ever? are you feeling secretly enraged that your husband has to go to work every day?"

my husband is very helpful, and he works at home. so "going to work for the day" means going upstairs. so, you know i've got a serious problem when i'm mad that he's upstairs! ok, so i guess this could be considered "confessions of a dead beat mom, part 2." but, i really feel like these articles might apply to me. so, i get sucked in. some expert swears that if i "just keep reading" i will figure out the key to reducing my stress-level, managing my home and guarantee life-long peace and happiness. i read on. without fail, the same crap advice is given.

1) find time for you. (this might be worded any number of different ways. "make time for you" is a popular alternative. i also love the ever-faithful "put yourself back on the priority list." (gag.) trust me, being more selfish than i already am is NOT exactly the solution i am looking for. it's BECAUSE i am selfish that i don't clean my house. i would rather read a book, or watch a movie with tom at the end of the day... it's because i am totally self-indulgent that i don't have a clean house. next.

2) hire a "mommy's helper." this brilliant suggestion can also entail such words and phrases as "babysitter," "hire out services," and "neighbor girl to play with your kids." of course, this advice is usually combated with concerns of money, to which the advice-giver will undoubtedly reply that "if you refer to piece-of-useless-wisdom #1 (see above) you will see that when you put yourself first you will learn to allocate money for hiring people to do the stuff you should magically be able to do yourself. the problem with this is about 100-fold... so, i'll just scratch the surface with how much i hate this advice. first, if i could afford to hire a housekeeper/butler/nanny/personal assistant i would have done that a long time ago. i did not need permission from some lady who already has those people doing things for her. but, i can't afford those services because i am a stay-at-home mom. that means only one income for us. (yes it's our choice for me to stay home, and yes, i love it. but no, i don't get everything done and cannot afford to have someone else do it for me. and finally, i would like to briefly advocate for the "young neighbor girl down the street" who apparently has nothing better to do than play with my kids. first of all, i don't think there is a young girl on my street. if there was one, i don't think i'd feel right paying her next to nothing (which is what we have to spare) to play with my kids. i used to babysit for my dentists kids and so much was wrong with it. a) he was a horrible dentist and he smelled like bacon bits and rubber gloves. b) his kid used to bite me. c) i really knew nothing about child-rearing and am certain i was a horrible babysitter, which may have been why i kept getting bit in the first place. d) people usually felt guilt-free about underpaying me as an 11-year-old girl, child labor laws anyone? (you know who you are, donna "$1.29" mchenry). but i made up for it by eating so much fruit snacks while i was there. mwah ha ha.

3) don't stress if you aren't perfect. first off, you can't tell someone that the way to not be stressed is to not stress. that is the opposite of helping. and second, i don't think that falling just shy of perfect is what's stressing me out. i am stressed out because at least 3/4 of the square footage of my house is covered with large, obnoxious toys (courtesy of my mother), and laundry. clean, dirty, folded, stacked... it's out of control.

*i realize that i am just complaining and am not offering any solutions to other mothers. if i promised that reading this post would energize you, make you efficient and diligent, i would be lying. i'd rather call this what it is: a rant that will help distract you from all the laundry you should be putting away.

when i ask my daughter marlie (4 1/2) to help with the chores, she will say that "her arms are very broken and tired." i know exactly what she means. i know that she is really saying "but there is so much to do, i am overwhelmed and paralyzed by it all." at the top of my chore list i used to have a bible verse that promises that god will show up and help me, strengthen me and uphold me. i am a desperate women, and i am not above asking jesus to help me do my laundry. it is really the only hope i have that it will get done. not hiring a mommy's helper, not taking a day to myself, not lowering my expectations. i seriously need me some jesus if i am going to get anything done around here. because apart from that, my arms are just very broken and tired indeed.