Oh, Go Jump in a Lake!

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I’m not a boat person.

Actually, I’m not a roller coaster riding, rock climbing, camping, race car driving, swimming, kind of person. Of course DW is ALL of those things, so I’m amazed everyday that he fell in love with me because we actually have very little recreational interests in common. I like to lay on the beach, soaking in the sun as the cabana boy brings me another drink. DW is jumping waves, skiing, snorkeling or riding high-powered jet skis.

I’ve taken three cruises. Apparently those are big enough boats that I not only manage, but forget that I’m on a boat.  The only time I’ve really had a problem on them is when we can’t dock at port and have to ride one of those little boats to shore. My stomach turns queasy, my head pounds and I feel like I could hyperventilate any minute. I have been known to respond that way on a plane as well. However, on a plane, the destination is important enough to keep me motivated. The boat thing is just “for fun”.

Overall, it’s really a pleasant site and makes all the travelers with me very comfortable. (sarcasm.)

Of course, my in-laws and a handful of my friends all own boats that they frequently take on the lake. The kids love to tube, ski and just hang out anchored to swim. Last summer I finally got the courage to get on my father-in-law’s boat so that I could see my kids tube and DW ski. It was bearable, all things considered, even though I was the only adult wearing a life jacket and clinging white knuckled to the seat. But I got on the boat – I give myself kudos for that first step. It sucks to be afraid of something so silly. Afterall, I drive faster in my car than these boats ever go and I really am a decent swimmer. I’m not sure where this irrational behaviour comes from either. Perhaps it is just inexperience. We didn’t boat as a family when I was a kid, nor did we frequently lake swim. I get wigged out by the speed and feeling of “flying” that the boat creates but I also hate not being able to see the bottom of the lake if we are swimming. It’s creepy to think about living creatures brushing up against you in the murkiness.

I’ve missed so much time with my girlfriends and their families this summer too. Even time with my family, because they still go without me (as they should). Sometimes I meet them at the lake tavern for pizza and burgers afterwards. They are all still glistening with sun and sky while I am perfectly groomed, every hair in place. I’m jealous of their wet bathing suits, sweaty faces and wind-blown hair.

The Tortoise had one of her best friends spend the night on Friday, and the next day DW was going to take all the kids to meet the friend’s parents for a lake day. I was so tired of missing out. I wanted to be with my friends.

“How about I come too?”

Laughter erupted from all parties involved. I didn’t respond.

“Oh! You are serious?” A mix of excitement and dread. I’m sure they were worried I wouldn’t be able to cope, and then the whole day would be ruined. I was a little myself.

“Yeah – I’m totally serious. It’ll. Be. Fun.” I tried to say convincingly.

Saturday afternoon we got packed up. It only took me a half–hour to figure out the whole suit thing. I had done a pretty good job avoiding that this summer, but now I had to face my summer body. Just one more thing I love about the lake. I’m convinced I am the only mom in America that actually gains weight in the summer instead of losing it. The kids are home and I end up eating more of their leftovers, eat dinner really late at night, and of course consume a crazy amount of guacamole, chips and beer. I tend to slim down in the winter, which really matters not when you are hiding behind a full-length down parka every time you leave the house.

Anyway, among the Oreo cookies, goldfish, chex mix and beef jerky was nestled a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Our friends seemed genuinely happy to see all of us. They were even so kind to have brought an herbal oil to go behind my ears to help with motion sickness.

“Can I rub this all over my whole body to help with a general fear of everything?” I half-joked.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Hot and calm. The lake wasn’t even that crowded either. As soon as we got on the boat my heart began pounding. My eyes must have bugged out a little.

“I’ve also brought my own type of remedy for your motion sickness, Em,” joked my friend, as she showed me a cooler with  9 more Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips.

“Good grief I love you,” I laughed.

(Just an FYI – neither of our husbands drink. So it is just us moms who are lushes.)

The only real moving we did was out to the swimming spot. The anchor was thrown, and the kids started jumping all around us. Ms. N and I spent the afternoon catching up and occasionally being splashed by our husbands. A few hours later another family joined us. The moms commandeered one boat, while the other took the kids tubing. I never had to move except to get out to the lake and back to the dock. It was perfect.

I am embarrassed that it took me so long to make the first trip. Obviously this was a baby step, but it was a step in the right direction. I also had to overcome another fear, which was learning to pee in public. Believe it or not, I’m not an exhibitionist nor have I ever partied too hard in college that I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I’ve only camped twice in my life. The first time we were at a KOA campground, so that doesn’t count, and the second time I learned quickly to stop consuming any fluids after 4pm so that I wouldn’t need to pee in the woods behind our tent in the middle of the night.

It never occurred to me when I first got on the boat that I couldn’t just wait to get back to shore to empty my bladder. I hate public bathrooms and in 9 years of marriage the only time my husband has ever been in the bathroom with me while I was relieving myself was when I was in the hospital and needed his support. Literally. Although, I tried to avoid this massive “public bathroom” it was not possible. And believe me, it is not an easy feat when you have your children “cheering” you on from the side-lines.

“Come on mom! You can do it, you can do it! You can, you can! Just pee!”

I must say, the later in the day – the easier it got.

Pajama Days versus My Pajama Days

When I started this blog the name came easily. It had been imprinted on my mind for a long time before it ever came into fruition. I never gave much thought to a personalized header or logo and I especially didn’t think much of domain names or email addresses. Unfortunately, I wish I had.

Here I am six months later realizing that a simple google search of “Pajama Days” would have uncovered thousands of websites, blog entries, Facebook accounts and even a domain name (albeit undeveloped, someone own’s it!) There are a lot of blogging tips out there – some are high on my list while others really are just a matter of opinion and will probably not be implemented. This one though, my dear blogging friends – if you haven’t already, please take heed. Think about the blogs that you follow or recommend. I bet most of those have identical web addresses, emails and blog names, or at the very least their web address is simply the author’s name. Foolishly I didn’t do any of those things.

Here is my dilemma: Pajama Days or My Pajama Days? It is one silly little word, but would require a lot of changes. One of which, I can not change, of course, is my user name. That is actually the very least of my concerns since I have a web address reflecting that silly little word My. Besides, closing this account and reopening it under an updated user name seems ludicrous. What would happen to all of my subscriptions?  I really couldn’t believe how many places Pajama Days is used all over the internet…when this blog – these personal stories and observations all belong to me…this is My Pajama Days.

I wish I had read some of these blogs before I started blogging, and not after:

Things I wish I would’ve known by Amy Blam

Blogging Tips by Scary Mommy

A list of great writing resources found on Two Kinds of People

There are tons of other great blogging resources, but these just happen to be the ones I frequent the most. Let me know what resources you find notable.

So I am asking for help and advice from all of you veteran bloggers. What would you do? Would there be any great ramifications or confusion? What are my options?

My Summer, Three Years Ago

There seems to be a reoccurring theme on many of the blogs I have been reading this week – the end of summer and back to school. Some of the blogs have been coming to grips with this year’s change of season, but many have been a look back at summers past.  

I’ve also recently been asked to be a guest speaker for a Mothers of Preschoolers group (MOPS), which has made me start thinking about what life was like with toddlers in the house. It is hard to believe that it has only been three years that my girls have both been in school. It feels like billowing breaths ago we were learning the alphabet and how to tie our shoes. Now we are learning how to talk to boys and work respectfully in a group.  

I wish I had been journaling while my children were younger. Too many times I would tell myself, “Oh – I should write this down…later” but later never came. And our memories can’t always be trusted;  we get distracted by the present and forget the details of the past. This summer I have allowed the last couple of weeks to shade my opinion of the whole summer, even though the beginning was glorious and refreshing.  

Today I found a zip drive forgotten in my computer bag. It had been used sporadically over the last few years. On this portable flash-drive were a couple of forgotten memories. One was written just after The Hare started kindergarten and The Tortoise was heading into 4th grade. Here is the journal entry:  

The Hare's first day of kindergarten


I thought getting older was going to upset me the most. My children reaching milestones in their lives meant that I was passing more and more of mine. And without them here to take care of, what the hell was I supposed to do now? Who the hell was I supposed to be? All summer I dreaded the start of school because it was just one more year I was moving further away from the optimistic, possibility-filled young woman I once knew in my 20’s. Now I am just the mother of a 4th grader and a kindergartener. That’s what I thought at least …that was all I focused on this summer. My youngest talked non-stop about what it was going to be like to go to school. She laid out her clothes weeks before we started and checked to make sure her lunchbox was right where it needed to be. Yet, the weekend before school started she got more restless and the night before she couldn’t sleep, her stomach hurt and she cried and cried that she changed her mind.   

“Couldn’t I just stay home with mommy just a little bit longer?”she asked.   

My heart hurt. I couldn’t believe it…she was really going to leave me and I knew it had nothing to do with my fear of getting older…it was a fear of being totally alone now. And not just being alone, but saying goodbye to my children. I had to smile and stay positive – sing songs and rub her little back and assure her that she was going to have fun on her first big day but in my head I was crying and crying to myself, “no, don’t go, just stay home with me. You can stay forever”.  

I remember when she gave up her pacifier. She was 2 and we took all of her pacifiers over to a friend’s house to give to their new baby. I told The Hare that she didn’t need them anymore and that it would be a wonderful gift to give them away to someone who did need them – a baby. She gladly gave them away and was very proud to be the big helper. (Much like her joy and excitement all summer when talking about all the possibilities of the coming school year.) But when it was bedtime she asked for those pacifiers. Her little voice quivered and she had tears in her eyes when I reminded her that we gave them to the baby.  

“You’ll be alright” I said, “the morning will come soon and you will see that you are a big girl now”   

Then I sat outside her bedroom door and cried because I knew she was very upset to not have what comforted her at night. That is how I felt last night before kindergarten. I kissed her goodnight one last time.  

“You’ll be alright tomorrow. You’ll have so much fun and you’ll see that you are a big girl now.”   

Then I sat outside her door and cried again. She didn’t go to sleep this time though. I ended up carrying her into our bed and slept with her all night…watching her breath, smelling her sweet damp hair clinging to her cheeks and wished with all I had for that 5lb baby girl to be placed back in my arms…remembered whispering in her ears, kissing those tiny toes, feeling her sweaty hands grasp my breast in the middle of the night nursing until her belly was so full it pressed against my ribs. I missed her already and she hadn’t even started school yet…until this morning.

 She wouldn’t eat breakfast and she hardly said two words all the way to school. She didn’t want me to leave the classroom until I was the last parent standing in the room. When I finally let go of her hand and walked away we just looked at each other.  

” I love you” I said.  

“I know” she replied, and then added, “but will you miss me as much as I am going to miss you?”   

“Probably more” I said. And then I left the room and cried outside her door…. again.   

Yes, she had fun today but she couldn’t sleep again tonight. Her stomach hurt after dinner. At bedtime we said our prayers, read our book, sang our songs and snuggled just a little bit longer. And when I said goodnight, and kissed those sweet little lips for the last time today she held tight to my neck.  

“I don’t think I will miss you any less tomorrow,” she whispered.   

“I know” I said, “I won’t miss you any less tomorrow either.”   

So here I am at 1am, still thinking about her…still regretting all the moments I said “not right now…in a minute…or maybe later” when I should have been playing Candy Land one more time, making chalk drawings on the driveway just a little longer, or reading the same book for the 100th time because one day I went to bed with a teeny tiny baby and today I woke up to an independent 5-year-old and had to say goodbye at the kindergarten door.  

It woke me up a little to read those words, a slap in the face, stinging smartly a reminder that every year I lose another piece of my little girls. Every year they are growing up into young ladies. Every year I need to enjoy whatever stage we are experiencing because next year it will change again. And I will have to remind myself over and over that this is how it is supposed to be – they are both alright. They are big girls now.

Girl Parts and Boy Parts

My hair and body are still smoldering from the fire pit in our back yard. I love the sweet smell of burning wood while roasting marshmallows and making Smores. Tonight felt like summer. Not quite like the Texas summers that I grew up with, where you can’t hardly step outside to sneeze without dripping with sweat, but a perfectly still Michigan summer. The temperature was somewhere in the sixties with no humidity. The Tortoise ran around the yard with her little sister and three friends playing flashlight tag. Now, I smell like summer – a mix of musky wood and citrus mosquito spray. I stopped counting the number of gooey crisp puffs of sugar that I consumed as I finished off a bottle of Sweet Shiraz with my neighbor. The kitchen was cluttered with remnants of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, corn on the cob and baked beans. Fresh cut raw veggies circled a bowl of ranch dip, balancing out the half-eaten bag of Oreo Double Stuff cookies. The potato chip bag was empty as well as the pitcher of pink lemonade. We had snacked and eaten for hours.

Earlier in the day, The Hare was helping me fill up water balloons. She fished out each color in a pattern known only to her, as I stretched the balloons past a plastic nozzle. This nozzle attached to the mouth of our outside hose. It looked like a slightly elongated bottle tip or the top of a puffy paint bottle. For each balloon I had to turn the water slightly on to let a small stream fill up each colorful ammunition. After it was filled properly, I quickly turned the nozzle off, but a tiny trickle would still escape after I pulled the balloon off the tip.

I couldn’t help but chuckle, watching myself balance this hose between my legs, the stream of water draining out between my legs from this very phallic garden hose. I’m mature like that.

“What’s so funny, mom?” asked The Hare.

“I’m just laughing at how it looks like I’m peeing every time I take the balloon off!”

The Hare chuckled. Then she looked at me confused.

“What exactly do you mean? If I tried to pee standing up it would just run down my leg.”

“Well, yeah – but not if I was a boy.”


Silence while I filled up another balloon.

“You do know what boy parts look like, right?” I questioned, distinctly remembering having the anatomy talk with The Tortoise at an age earlier than this. Had we forgotten to talk to the second child? Naw – been there done that, right? Checked off “the list”. We’re not due for another body talk until fourth grade. I have another year!

“Yeah, of course mom, sheesh!” giggle, giggle.

Silence while I filled up another balloon.

The Hare hesitated handing me the last balloon.

“Well…I guess I still don’t really know what you mean after all.”

Apparently, our little “talks” haven’t really sunk in completely. I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

You know that word that rhymes with witch?

It is a two beer kind of night, only I’m too tired to go back downstairs to retrieve one from the fridge. I’m trying to savor slowly the last few drops of this golden Corona, hoping it will last long enough for me to write this post.

DW is out of town again. Our whole rhythm starts to unravel just 24 hours after he leaves. Not that he “does” a lot at night. (No offense sweetie, but keeping the bed warm for me while flipping channels for an hour as I clean up the kitchen, get the kids in bed and put another load of laundry in the dryer isn’t really what I had in mind. But then again, you aren’t a mind reader either.) I know I’ve said this before, but just having him present keeps a steady calmness throughout the evening. There is comfort in having someone to talk to while I maneuver through our night-time routines. There is comfort in knowing that at any given moment he is available to referee between the girls, fold a pile of socks or take the dog out if I asked. He is always willing and able to pitch in if I need it – the trouble is that I usually don’t ask. I’m Super Mom after all, and can do it all myself. Besides, I’ve somehow convinced myself that his day at work was harder than my day at home and that he needs time to “unwind”.

Apparently so do I.

I stayed up too late last night doing nothing. Flipping channels, blog surfing, snuggling with Luna. It was the only time I had to myself all day. So, of course, I had a hard time getting up this morning. The girls took the opportunity to watch T.V. for a couple of hours while I hibernated, even though it had been made abundantly clear the night before that there were certain chore expectations. T.V. watching in the morning was never in the equation, even while eating breakfast.

I stood in my kitchen in shock, surveying the damage. The night before it had been clean and organized. This must have been an episode from The Twilight Zone. Somehow our staircase had transported me into someone elses kitchen because it was inconceivable to think that my kitchen would have peanut butter sandwich crusts stacked on the coffee table, empty chocolate milk and juice cartons laying on their sides on the floor, various dishes and bowls scattered across the counter, a hundred or more stuffed animals lining the couch engaged in a rerun of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and forgotten goldfish beached between cushions.

I gave loud instructions to pick up this mess while I headed to Costco. The day before I had gone to Pearl Vision to pick up my eye prescription. We no longer have vision care, so ordering contacts at a super discount store rather than a fancy eyeglass chain made the most sense.  Easy enough – they quickly printed out what I needed, no questions asked. I did inquire about prescription sunglasses and even with their 50% off frames and 10% off my lens it was going to be around $220. Yikes!

This morning the plan was to pick up contacts and order glasses at Costco, but when I got there it turned out that I didn’t have a prescription for contacts, only glasses. Seriously? So I called Pearl Vision, politely asking  if they could fax Costco the correct prescription.

“I’m sorry, but you have to come in and sign a release form for that.”

“But I was just in yesterday afternoon and no one said anything about contacts being a separate prescription from glasses.”

“I wasn’t here when you came in.”


“Well, I was and I asked for my eye prescription. Don’t you think it would have been helpful if someone had mentioned I had two on file?”


“Well, how can we rectify this situation? Can’t you fax the release form too?”

“No – we have to verify you are who you say you are. We don’t want to be held liable for your eye care if you get contacts somewhere else.”

“But I didn’t have to sign something for my glasses?”


Images of my destroyed kitchen flashed before me. My cheeks became a little hot thinking about how much time this conversation was wasting.

“This is really a BIG inconvenience. Isn’t there anything else we can do?”

“No – not really. Come in and sign the form and we’ll give you your prescription.”

I hung up the phone, defeated, knowing that my eyes were being held hostage and there was nothing that I could do about it. The next thing on my list was a specific lunch sack that The Tortoise had requested for school. I searched every nook, cranny and end-cap for that stupid thing to no avail. It had vanished. There must have been a run on polka-dotted insulated lunch sacks with plastic containers inside. Strike two. So I bought three bottles of my favorite wine instead and headed to check-out. But my gawd, why do they have to put so many overflowing tables with cool things strategically throughout the store? It’s like a maze you can’t avoid, funneling you to the front, forcing you to say things like, “oh yes, I have always wanted a pair of Ellen Tracy PJ’s…they’re only $12.99…I need one in every color too.” (I have a weakness for PJ’s if you hadn’t guessed.) By the time I made it to the cashier, my cart was filled with wine, PJ’s, salsa, a meatloaf dinner, M&M trail mix and three books. Why?

I wasn’t overly optimistic that the house would be back in order by the time I got home – probably I good thing that I set realistic expectations for myself. Everything was just as I had left it, only now there were two bigger messes upstairs in each of the girls’ rooms.

“What the heck is going on up here?” I bellowed.

“We’re cleaning,” they both sang smartly, “It always looks worse before it gets better, right?”

I had to walk away…walk far, far away before my head exploded – or my mouth, neither of which would be good.

There was just enough time to put my “groceries” away and pack up Luna for the vet. Her ears had an awful stank to them this morning, and she has been shaking and scratching them non-stop for over a week. It wasn’t rocket science to know that she probably has an ear infection.  Although it may not seem like it at times, this really isn’t my first dog show. About an hour later it was determined that she actually has two ear infections.

Back to the house, fingers crossed, I stepped inside the mud-room hoping to find a slightly cleaner kitchen and den. It was still the same. Perhaps it was still a mess because there had been great strides made upstairs instead. As I ascended the stairs I could hear yelling.

“Get out of my room now and take your crap with you!”

“Fine! It was your crap in the first place!”

SLAM…stomp, stomp, stomp…SLAM.

The rest of the day was pretty much the same. Until it all came to a head around 5:00pm. We were packing up to go, to another appointment and then to drop the girls off with a sitter so I could go to my first orchestra rehearsal of the season. I stood in the kitchen, consumed with angst over the staggering mess, knowing full well of the mess still waiting to be cleaned upstairs. The girls were dawdling and complaining about something, everything, who knows at that point.

My head started to spin, eyes bulging out, sweat seeping from my pores.

“Would you just SHUT UP!” I yelled at them both. “What I wouldn’t give for school to start tomorrow so that I didn’t have to put up with the both of you for one more second!”

We all stood in silence, staring at each other. The girls picked up their bags quietly and got into the car. I was left to put Luna behind her gate and lock up. It was completely silent the rest of the evening. I was so angry I couldn’t even see that they were both on the verge of tears in the back seat. By the time I acknowledged what a foolish bitch I had been, it was too late. They were already in someone else’s car, and I was already on my way to rehearsal. And now it is too late to apologize. They are both asleep and I am struggling to put into words what I want to say to them. I am supposed to be the grown-up. I am supposed to set the tone of the household, one of tranquility not of temper tantrums. You would think that after 12 years of being a parent that I would finally “get it”, but it appears that the only thing that I have perfected is how to apologize, rather than parent.

Tomorrow is a new day.