Posts Tagged ‘va-va-vacation’

Let me start out by saying that every year these vacations get better and better and this year was by far the cream of the crop. Part of this has to do with the fact that our kids grow bigger and more independent every year, and with that independence comes more freedom for us, which gives us more quality time to spend with said children in these sweet, precious, short years. And also more time to drink. And nap. And did I say drink already?

In all honesty, it was pretty bittersweet. On many occasions throughout the week I would ask Rowan if she wanted to go on a kayak ride with me, or to the playground, or tubing and she turned me down a majority of the time, mostly because I was not an eight year old girl named Ellie, who is apparently The Shit, or whatever the elementary school equivalent of The Shit is {And you all know that The Shit is good, right? That I’m not calling my lovely niece shit? Okay. Good.} By the end of the week I was feeling pretty jilted and though really what mattered was that we were all having a blast, I sort of wish my five year old could have fit me into her Very Busy Schedule full of Very Important Things. She did go on a paddle boat ride with me, Jen and Jorie but she brought along a fly swatter and was sort of freaking me out with the furious passion of hate with which she went after the flies. I may have backed slowly away from her when we returned to the dock, for fear she’d turn her whapping powers on me.


We left on time and under happy circumstances around noon on July 16th. The kiddos were granted Happy Meals upon embarking out of our city which is something we don’t ‘do’. Rowan could count on one hand how many she’s gotten and I think this was Keaton’s 1st or 2nd and LOOK AT ME I WIN AT PARENTING FOR NOT GIVING MY KIDS HAPPY MEALS REGULARLY. {Now let’s not talk about the peanut butter sandwich/hot dog/spaghettios diet they’ve been living off of for the last 2 months, m’kay?} Anyway it doesn’t matter because I now SWEAR by happy meals as Strawberry Shortcake and C-3PO got along fabulously in the back seat for more than two hours, at which point they started incessantly asking if we “were there yet” so I threw them out the window into the grill of a semi {oh I’m kidding. Or am I.}

Little known fact: Paul Bunyan is a HUGE Star Wars fan. He's pretty lukewarm when it comes to Strawberry shortcake though.

Keaton was very confused by how this giant Paul Bunyan came to be sitting on that stump at a rest area in Brainerd so I very stoically told him that when giant lumberjacks get too old and tired to cut down trees or take care of cerulean oxen they look for the perfect stump, sit down and BAM, just turn into a statue. “Ohhh….” He said like he’d already known this but just forgot and it was all very confusing and then I looked up and knew I had done my dad proud. Not because he’d told me that particular story but because given the chance he would have done the same thing just to fuck with us. Your legacy lives on, old man.

The last hour of the drive was definitely the worst but all in all we did pretty well. We arrived a little after 5pm and set about trying to get our things unpacked and our beverages safely nestled in the coolers as it was eleventy billion degrees outside. This part of MN nearly ALWAYS cools down at night but not this week, people. The humidity and heat indexes kept temps in the 80’s and 90’s+, day and night, almost the whole week.

Getting into actual cabin recap times now. I’m going to try and use as little words as possible and make use of all. the. pictures. Because holy jebus there are many of them.

After dinner we headed to the beach so the kids could get in a late evening swim and we were greeted by old friends, Dodge the One-Eyed Dog, and this other guy whose back legs didn't work so well. Which didn't inhibit him from seeking out kids' sand castles and plopping down on them...

This group of ducklings was new but no less tame than last years. Keaton got into a face-off with the mama duck that I so wish I'd gotten video of. She fell backwards off the dock because she was so distracted by quacking at him {Advantage: Keaton} and then he got too close so she chased him all the way down the dock {Advantage: Mama Duck}. They seemed to come to some sort of mutual agreement after that so I'm calling it a draw.

There were festive summertime drinks {Pictured: This year's new concoction by Jen called The Smurf. All I will tell you is that it contained diet blueberry juice and it was definitely something Gargamel would have been pissed about due to it's epic deliciousness.}

We didn't forget to hydrate the kids either. Or dress them up like little hippies with real flowers in their hair.

The second day there was overcast but HOT so we spent it at the resort beach for the most  part. Monday was beautifully sunny and hotter still, so back to the beach we went, where a lot of shenanigans on the trampoline took place.

This was a little launcher thingy, where one person sat on the end while the other jumped on it to throw them off. Sadly, in a horrific turn of events, my husband could not get his ass to the end without falling off so I never got to launch him. I know. The saddest story EVER told.



CANTALOUPE! {Keaton yelled out a number of things before jumping into the water, "blast-off!" and "I believe I can fly!" among them, but Cantaloupe! was our favorite. And yes that it my tiny 3 year old jumping from a high, unstable surface into deep water. Whatofit?

Here is where I do need to break out and say that the independence factor carried over to the water this year as well. Last year the kids would jump off the dock to Bill or I but we had to be there with sturdy, open arms. This year, by day two they were both taking running leaps off the dock and in Keaton’s case, the trampoline, all by themselves. Obviously the life jackets and the little inner tubes were key here because they almost always kept their heads above water upon impact but still. This led to greater water confidence and both were dog paddling all on their own around the beach in their life jackets which was great. Keaton even jumped in with us when we took the boat out deep water swimming; jumping off the back ladder to me and then swimming back to the boat on his own, wash, rinse, repeat 400 times over. Most times kids gain their independence in such small, slow steps that we don’t even realize we’ve witnessed it, so it was pretty cool to be there front and center this time.

Photographic evidence of Rowan, who is NOT a water lover, clearly loving the water. The fact that you can see there are drops on her face and she's not writhing about in agony but smiling, is a small miracle in and of itself.

This guy was in heaven. And so fun to watch.

There are some moments in life when you hopelessly look down at the underwear your partner's left for you to pick up on the floor for the 3rd day in a row and you sort of wonder WHY you're still married. Then there are times like this when seeing him with your kids makes your heart warm, then expand in your chest and you wonder how the hell you ever got so lucky. Makes you forget about those underwear for an hour or two anyway.

I think the kids might have liked it too.

Gratuitous ring pop photo. Sometimes they're just necessary, ya know?

I’m going to have to break this into two parts so I’ll have to save the full t-shirt spread, our one and only Challenge {guess who ended up in the water? AGAIN.} And the most epic bonfire substitution ever recorded in recent history. Oooo! Don’t you love cliffhangers?

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But after waking up to this...

On our own private terrace overlooking Superior...

And spending the evening doing this...

With nothing but this,


and this in between?

I'm having a little trouble coming back down from the clouds and the cliffs and the blue of that water.

Bill surprised me with a trip up north for my 29th plus one birthday. We stayed at a beautiful cabin in the woods for one night and a ridiculously amazing mansion/B&B for two nights and ate at 5 very fine eateries. I thought I could escape turning thirty there, but apparently that’s not how it works. Your facebook friends and family will find you regardless because you are stupid and keep your phone by you, which lovingly dinged e-mail messages and texts at me all day, reminding me that: Bitch? YOU ARE OLD NOW. So thanks for that, guys. {And I’m of course just joking because your messages made my day. And now that I’m thirty who knows how many of those I have left!)

Oh, well...

I guess if I have to turn thirty...

This is the way to do it.

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6. Fish Story.

So every vacation has a fish story and since I don’t fish (ew! slimy! and oh the poor fish just swimming along trying to eat a worm when BAM!POW!SLASH! Hooked through the lip while being dragged up to an oxygen filled hell.) So, yeah, I will share someone elses:

This little gal's.

Ellie went out fishing with her dad, cousin Maddy and Uncle Bill. The group was having quite the time of it, as they kept hooking their lines around a pesky sunken log, and things were getting tangled and jammed and all sorts of unpleasantness that ensues when you set out to {murder} fish. The DCFI was helping Maddy with her line when Ellie’s line appeared to get stuck on the stupid log, too. Bill went to help her but somehow her pole slipped and ended up in the water. The same thing happened a year or two ago to Ellie, but the pole was lost in the drink forever. This time, though, her {dumbass} Uncle Bill was there and without even taking his freaking shoes off Bill dived in after the pole like it was his firstborn and by “dive” I mean he tried to spastically throw himself overboard, smacking his thigh so hard on the side of the boat that he developed a huge yellow and green bruise almost instantly. He heroically saved the pole and handed it up to the DCFI who was all, “I don’t think this is attached to a log!” and then Ellie helped reel in her first big catch, a Northern.

*Here is where the picture of Ellie and her fish should be. Only the DCFI forgot his camera so he placed the fish in the live dead well until they came back. And you know how this ends, right? They waited too long and the fish totally bit it. The Deps did get a picture of his daughter holding a bloated dead fish, maybe in the hopes she wouldn’t notice, which of course she noticed a smelly, bloated, dead fish. Whatever, though. They got their picture, which I won’t be displaying here, you’re welcome.*

7. The night of the living Mustaches

You guys. I don’t even really know how this happened. We were sitting around playing cards, either Screw Your Neighbor or Bullshit, when somebody went ahead and broke out the fake mustaches. What?! Don’t YOU bring fake mustaches on your vacations?

You're doing vacation all wrong then, lemme tell ya.

Maddy's was so close to her natural hair color that it looked a little too convincing, totally creeping her aunties and grandma out.

We also invited Inspector Clouseau. Who apparently likes to karate chop.

If only all of our family photos could look this good. I'm thinking this is Christmas card material.

8. The shirts.

So the first year it was bass attack (scroll down to 9th picture). Then last year it was wolf shirt. So of course this year was the year of the…

Wild stallions running though clouds, duh. The only obvious choice.

I wonder how long Keaton will abide this before he flat-out refuses to get a dorky matching t-shirt with his dad. My guess is 5 or 6 but that might be pushing it.

No matter. Bill will always have a back-up in the DCFI, who purchased a wolf shirt of his very own this year. (And so did Jen, if you noticed in the above group shot. I managed to avoid the wolf pack this year but I don't know if I'll be able to hold out another year.)

9. The spoons event.

After last years epic spoons event where I crushed Vince (what? It’s my blog, I’ll embellish if I want to), I was a little disappointed to see the game of spoons was already in full swing when I came down from putting Keaton to bed. My disappointment was short-lived however, because in the end it came down to Vince (again!) with his poker face and Giacomo, who at 600 feet tall is a little imposing. At some point in the final round someone started humming Eye of the Tiger and before we knew it the whole room had joined in, lyrics, harmony and all, creating an epic soundtrack of Dun. Dun dun dun. Dun dun dun. Dun dun DUUUUUNNN (Chicachicachica) DUN and so forth, as they played spoons, which PS, is one of the most anti-climactic games to win in the last round EVER, but neither of them was getting 4 of a kind so it kept going and going. I have a video of it but it doesn’t quite capture the awesome of how beautifully random and spontaneous this was, because I started taping a minute or so in. But trust me, if you lived inside my head you’d be laughing really hard right now.

10. This picture.

I have no idea why but I keep coming back to this picture and smiling. I think it’s because it sums up what this vacation was supposed to be about. Shedding our many layers of day-to-day bullshit and stress, getting down to the basics of good food, good drink and good company. Being out in the great wide open, enjoying what we so often forget lies just outside our windows. Who knew Mickey Mouse underoos could reveal so much?


I’ll be posting the rest of the pictures to facebook so breathe easy, Internet, my vacation slideshow has come to an end.

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Here in the Gunter household we are counting down to Cabin Vacation ’09 and in preparation for this event I have been indulging in one of my favorite pastimes. That’s right, List Making. Oh the beauty of a bright shiny list, in all it’s gloriously splendid potential. There really is no greater feeling than getting things out of your head and onto paper in an orderly numbered fashion. (Do you see how I embrace my lameness? Shut up, it’s a beautiful thing.) With categories and subcategories and blah blah blah I know I need to get a life.

In my extreme geekery, I had carefully folded and saved the Cabin Vacation ’08 List in a safe spot (the recipe box because, let’s face it, if I don’t cook I should use it for something, right?) and we took it out for reference in making this years list. After perusing the section aptly titled Keaton and all 500 of it’s subcategories, we were floored. He had countless rows of yellow legal paper devoted to what we needed to pack to keep him happy for one week. Sections included Feeding with subcategories of “Solids”, “Breast”, “Bottle” and “Accessories”.¬† And that was only the tip.

For gear we packed a jogging stroller, an umbrella stroller, a Baby Bjorn, a Mai Tai carrier, a sling and I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure there was also a mini remote controlled hovercraft (oh, kidding-but that would be all kinds of AWESOME). For sleep we brought a vibrating bouncy seat, a pack and play and an Amby baby hammock. For play we brought an exersaucer, a hanging door jumper, a Bumbo seat and dozens of toys and books. How much shit does one baby need for one goddamn week?!, you are asking and I tell you we used and needed 95% of what we brought. Keaton was SUCH a hard baby to please and would get bored or fussy if he wasn’t being held, and even then it was hard to keep him happy. This was also just a few short weeks before we ended up sleep training him so we were still doing the absolutely AWFUL routine of shushing (as in SHHHH, baby! SHHHHH, baby! as loud as we could) and jogging in place with him for 45 minutes or more to get him to fall asleep.

It was so much work. I remember Bill and the Deputy Chief Fire Idiot coming back from settling our accounts at the end of our stay and chatting about securing the cabin for next year. I wanted to punch Bill in the mouth and shake his shoulders while shouting I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! I restrained myself, but all the same- I was pretty sure I was not going to put myself through caring for a cranky baby in the northwoods ever again. Especially since we had to drive 4+ hours each way with said cranky baby. A cranky baby who did not like being in the car for 5 minutes let alone an extended period and he let us know this by screaming until his head popped right the eff off and we had to stop off at some shady small town hospital so they could sew it back on. Twice! True story!

Anyway, you know that hormone that woman have to make them forget the agony of childbirth? I have that in rampant stores and turns out it also makes you forget the horrors of traveling with cranky babies because come last January I was all Oh my God, we better find a cabin to stay in for Cabin Vacation Oh Nine, Haste and ye hurry!!! So, here we are making our lists again and you know what we need to bring for Keaton this year? His blanket and his nuk, The End.

The difference the last six months has made was staggering and something we hadn’t really contemplated too hard. Neither Bill nor I like to reminisce about the early days of Keaton. It’s so sad, but it really turns my stomach into mushy butterflies and makes me tense and angry when I think about how unbelievably hard his infancy was. I can’t even communicate in words how much better he has been, despite some impressive attempts by his molars to derail us, the last few months. Keaton is still a needy and sometimes whiny little guy but, oh, the difference between 18 month old Keaton and 7 month old Keaton is so ridiculously ginormous. At 7 months, I was terrified that he had some sort of neurological disorder that made it physically impossible for him to be happy, or even content. At 18 months he spends so much of his day giggling and smiling and being a general goof-ball. I just can’t believe he became this person based on his babyhood, but so very thankful, whatever it was that was making him so miserable, has figured itself out.

So this year we will pack the Ergo carrier for him and a jogging stroller for the kids to share. He will eat what we eat and the only accessory we’ll really need are toddler spoons and sippy cups. He will put himself to sleep, easily and peacefully in his pack and play. He will entertain himself with the sand toys and, let’s face it, probably the toilet and various garbage cans because for whatever reason, that’s what he likes (hmmm, future sanitation worker?). We just flipped his car seat to front facing a week ago so everything he sees is new and interesting and he loves riding in the car and singing along to whatever music we put on, be it Mama Mia or Jack Johnson.

It feels like I have been in some really sadistic version of baby boot camp for the last 3+ years and making this years list has made us stop, look around, and see that we are finally coming up for air. We are more mobile, more free to do the things we want to do without having to re-arrange our lives to figure it out or rent a fricken U-Haul to get us there. We still have to cater to the kids which includes nap times and family friendly events but our lives as adults, as individuals- not just caregivers or parents- are slowly shifting back into perspective, and you know what? It feels good. Not quite as good as making awesome lists, but still, pretty damn good.

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