Relax . . . You’re on Vacation!

Ahhh…vacations.  They’re all good, right?  I got back from vacation recently and this article spoke to me “Back from the Beach?  You need a Vacation”.  Oddly enough,  it gave me comfort.  Why?  Because apparently I’m not the only nut out there that doesn’t feel relaxed after a family vacation.  Whew! What a relief!  I thought I was alone.

Our vacation in the Outerbanks was really fun and it was great to see my sister (who lives many states away).  It’s just the pre-vacay and post-vacay rituals that stress me out.  Packing a family of 5 ain’t no game and is not for the faint of heart.  Of course, my family thinks my packing rituals/routines are insane, but we rarely forget anything important or critical to our trip.  I’m not a fan of the saying “If we forgot something, we can buy it!’. 

The pre-vacay routine has gotten a little better since my kids are old enough to pack themselves.  When all of the kids were little, it was C-R-A-Z-Y (totyards, diapers, baby food, bouncy seats, etc.). 

The Packing Routine

The formal living room becomes the staging area and the pre-vacay routine typically begins on the Sunday prior to the Saturday departure.

1.  If  you want a certain board game, fishing pole or baseball mitt to come on the vacation, please place it in the staging area. 

2.  Your suitcase must be in this area emptied and ready for loading.

3.  Please grab your pre-printed packing list from the counter (these lists are available a couple of days prior to departure).

4.  If you have a favorite outfit that must go on vacation with you, please put it in the laundry at least 2 days prior to departure.

5.  You are responsible for your own “fun” bag for the car ride – that means electronics, electronic cords, books, etc.

6.  Friday is family truckster loading day and the pre-flight check.


Once we arrive at our destination, it usually takes me about a day and a half into the vacation to get into full relaxation mode, but I do eventually get there.  Since we rent a house on a lake, the minute we arrive (after an 8 hour car trip) we must immediately unload the van so I can go the grocery store (you all know how I LOVE The grocery store 🙂 ).  I feel like I never really get a break from the stuff I normally do at home (grocery, laundry, cooking and cleaning).  I wish we could vacation with an “Alice”.  I mean, my husband is an architect!  I thought the live in nanny was automatic (false advertising!).

Of course, the return trip routine is a little easier because we just need to re-pack everything we brought with us.  But, I usually spend half of the last vacation day on the post-vacay ritual.  And, of course, the post-vacay ritual continues once you pull in the driveway – I’m still working on the three 13-gallon trash bags of dirty clothes we brought back with us from our trip to the Outerbanks!  (UGH!! The BANE.)

My bro-in-law appropriately stated that vacations are pretty much about the kids – I couldn’t argue with that!  He can be very insightful :).  That’s why my husband and I take a trip once a year – just us!  That’s my real vacation every year (he can pack himself and clean up after himself :)).

The news article really summed it up for me.  I may have to follow some of the post vacation de-stressing suggestions in the article (except maybe the weeding – I don’t think that would relax me).

Here’s a relaxing scene from the Outerbanks!  Beautiful, isn’t?

Enjoy your summer vacations!

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.  ~Don Herold          

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.  ~Glenn Turner          

Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weights you down.  ~Toni Morrison      

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  ~Mark Twain           

Per Wikipedia, anxiety is “a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events.”  

Recently, I’ve been mulling over my increasing anxiety about, well, life.  The anxiety scale ranges from blissfully ignorant (1) to obsessive worrier (10) and I have named the midpoint MWE (my husband’s initials).  It’s appropriate because he seems to have the right combination of worry and “let it be”.  I’m constantly striving to be at the MWE point on this scale, but I’m failing on fairly regular basis.  I hover around 8 or 9 which equates to “Cuckoo”.   

Last Friday morning’s Therapy Breakfast meeting provided me with some food for thought on this topic (besides my standing order of french toast and bacon!).  It was basically the nature vs nurture discussion which I always find fascinating.  You know, birth order, environment, DNA, etc.  This led to a discussion of “Why do some people repeat the perceived parenting mistakes of their own parents? ” And “Why do some people break the mold?”  For example, if your mother was critical of everything you did and you hated it, why are you doing it to your own children?  Or Why are you making a conscious effort not to be critical?  

We came to the conclusion that it had to do with the ability to be introspective.  Either you have it or you don’t.  We all know the people in our lives that clearly do not possess this ability – it’s just not within their grasp.     

Now, I’m not trying to brag, but I possess the ability of introspection – I can go on ad nauseum of why I am the way I am (just ask my breakfast buddies!).  I can make my own head spin if I’m not careful!  This skill has been honed over the years as I’ve tried to figure out  why I have the freakish need to control everything, why I see the peril in every scenario, why had the pathological need to get straight A’s in school, why I was/am afraid of failure, etc.  I’m especially interested now because my anxiety seems to be getting worse.  Is it because I’m an adult now with three kids, a marriage, a mortgage, a dog,  impending college expenses, and the fact that I see imminent danger peeking around every corner?    
Well, my husband also exists in this same realm  – how come the hubby doesn’t feel the same level of anxiety?    
Some people in my life think I can just shut this off.  “Why are you worried  about it?  You can’t change anything!”   “Oh, really?  I thought I could control everything. Well, shoot!  You know what?  I was getting really tired of feeling anxious all of the time so I’ll just stop the worrying right this very second!  Thanks for the info!”    
Is it wrong to envy people that go through life swimming around in the blissfully ignorant end of the pool?  We all know a few of these people in our lives, don’t we?  I can feel smug because they really don’t know what real life is like, but what does that get me?  They seem really happy and mostly stress-free . . . . .Ugh!  They can really get on my nerves!   
Why am I swimming toward the deep end of the pool? Who really knows!? But it’s obviously a combination of multiple things – people are complicated!     

Birth Order – I am the first born and, as I’ve said before, I think I possess every trait listed in any book about birth order.  Compliant Traits – People Pleasers, Crave Approval, Nurturers, Caregivers, Reliable, Concientious, Cooperative, Team Players, “Grin and bear it” mentality / Aggressive Traits –  Natural Leaders, Perfectionists, Driven, Conventional, Always have things under control, Want things their way.      

Genetics – I come from a long line of professional worriers – my mother, my mother’s mother (I think they were all the first-borns, hmmmm).  I could tell you stories to back this up, but they aren’t that exciting.  

Environment – Our house growing up was very chaotic and unpredictable.  This definitely intensified my need to try to control every facet of my surroundings.   

Since I do recognize most of my shortcomings, I’m definitely working toward creating a stable, predictable, “normal” household for our three children.  Of course, with High Anxiety Mommy, it can be a challenge!   As I’m trying to “break the mold”, I’m sure I’m also creating some unintended environmental landmines for my kids to discuss in therapy when they get older.  What are parents for anyway, right?!

Carpe Diem (but wear your seatbelt)!


A Tale of a Runaway (well, almost)

I was intrigued by the recent story in the news about the Runaway Mom, Tiffany Tehan.  I mean, who hasn’t ever thought of running away – even just once?

But, to actually do it is what?  Crazy, irresponsible, cruel, selfish, etc.?!  Especially the way that she did it – no contact what-so-ever.  What did she really think was going to happen?  That she could disappear and have her awesome, stress-free life now? 

I’ve read some quotes from her in various news articles and here are a few gems:

Tiffany Tehan Wants to Repay Cops for Search – So They Don’t File Charges (, Apr 30th):

The 31-year-old apologized on “Inside Edition” on Thursday and said her religious upbringing made divorce impossible.

– This statement just has me confused.  So betraying your husband, daughter, family and friends is deemed okay and congruent with your religious upbringing?

She says, in hindsight, that the decision to run was not right for her. 

– Really? Ya think?  She has the under-developed frontal lobe of a teenager.  According to my almost 16-yr-old daughter, teens make bad, short-sighted decisions because their frontal lobes aren’t fully developed.  Apparently, the frontal lobes are completely mature around our early to mid  20s, but hers must be idling at maybe age 15.

 Runaway Mom Tiffany Tehan Didn’t Think Search Would Go Nationwide (, May 3rd):

“In a nutshell I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with life, just the pressures of work and raising a 1-year-old daughter,” she (Tiffany Tehan) said. “I wish that I had handled things completely differently.”

– Who hasn’t felt this way at one time or another?  I mean, I have three kids! One seems like a cake walk now.  Anyway, you don’t runaway, you go out for martinis with your friends!  Did she think her “new” life would be any different? What if she had more kids with the new guy?  Refer back to the immature frontal lobe.

“I really didn’t think anyone would look that hard for me,” Tehan said. “Maybe a little bit, but not nearly what it turned into.”

– She really thought that her husband, parents, siblings and friends would just be like, “Well, she’s gone.  Nothing else we can do here.  Let’s get on with our lives!  At least she left us the car!”

There are others, but you get the picture.  One of the puzzling things for me regarding this story is the husband’s reaction.  It appears that he has forgiven her and wants her back.  Let’s face it, this whole story is perplexing.

Now, I’m not discounting her feelings of being stressed out and overwhelmed, just her reaction to it.  My husband and family will probably cringe when they hear this, but as I’ve driven in circles around Carmel doing my taxi duties after working all day, I have often thought, “What if I just keep driving and don’t look back?” (Of course, I would make sure all kids have exited the taxi first).  This thought popped in my mind more frequently when I was working full-time, but it still makes its way to the surface now and again.  There are some days when I feel that I just can’t keep up with my life and the life of my family (since I am family manager) and it is overwhelming

I still haven’t called about Rachel’s driving test (that reminds me – I really need to do that!), the interior painting quote, the quote to replace all of our windows, the kennel for Jasper in May & June, Camp Pyoca for the kids, blah, blah, blah. . . . . . . .  Ummmm, maybe I should go upstairs to pack my bags and get in the car and drive.

Oh, . . . . . . . .  wait   a   minute!  My van (a.k.a. the taxi)  is in the shop today for the umpteenth time in the last 8 months (about $500 worth of work and they need to keep my car overnight).  CRAP!  This is really going to put a dent in my escape plans.

I guess I will have to work on an escape plan later – another item for my “To Do” list.  Shoot!