Convos and Vacay

The bustle of airports has always thrilled me.  I notice the way the sunlight filters through the windows, illuminating the rolling bags and footsteps of travelers.   Even the overpriced food and the shiny magazines are appealing.  My husband and I used to watch the passengers of arriving flights come off the jet way and make instant whispered judgments of their character:

Him:  Thin lips.  I don’t trust him.

Me:  Oh, she definitely cheated on her husband on that trip.

Him:  They are a couple yet and don’t know it.

Me:  Sweet old grandma. 

Both:  Accountant.  Or Lawyer.

Me:  He flirted with the flight attendants the entire time.

Both:  Drunk!


I shiver to think what assessments would be made of me as I deplane alone with both daughters in tow:

Him:   Haggard, single mom.  Probably busting her ex’s balls for child support.

Her:  Confused.  Part wannabe hippy, part wannabe Cosmo. 

Him:  Those kids need baths.

Her:  Damn, her eyebrows need waxing.

Both:  Drunk!


While Daddy held down the fort back home for 10 days, me and the girl-clan traveled back to the Midwest to visit family and revel in the breezy delight of spring.   Upon arriving at our gate, the distant sound of the “Tom and Jerry” theme song pulled Kaia to a nearby TV and kids table.  Delighted to see a semblance of “kid-friendly”, I parked my bags, babes, and butt nearby and found another mama to chat the time away with.  Later, after sharing stories of traveling alone with kids, I decide to wrap Indi back up in the Moby, grab Kaia’s hand and go check on the flight.

Me (to gate attendant):  Is the St. Louis flight late?

Gate Attendant (blinking and looking totally bershon):  Uh, it’s, like, already left.

Me (blinking with mouth agape,):  You’re kidding!?

Gate Attendant:  Who are you?…Yeah, we called your name, like, four times over the loud speaker.


Astounded that I missed my flight while being in the actual gate area the entire time, I headed over to customer service to find out about the next flight.

Me:  Seriously, am I crazy? I never heard my name once.

Customer Service Rep:  No, you aren’t crazy.  You are the 4th person this has happened to today.  You can barely hear anything over those speakers.

Me:  Well, thanks for the validation.  When is the next flight?

Customer Service Rep:  We can get you on the flight that departs in 3.5 hours.

And so, with shlumping shoulders and tears in my eyes, I waited for 3.5 hours with overtired girls while I chatted it up with yet another Mama.  Only this time, I kept one eye out on my gate at all times.   Indi didn’t stop squirming the entire flight, spilling juice and giggling at passengers as she peered between the cracks in the seats.  Both girls melted down and finally passed out 10 minutes before we landed.  Sigh.   We arrived at my Dad’s silent and secluded Missouri home at 2 am and snoozed to the croaking of bullfrogs.


To prepare for our return flight to Phoenix (after a three hour road trip to the airport), I purchase a Cars magnetic toy set for Kaia to meddle with while we waited.  After she played with it for a measly 20 minutes, I performed a quick calculation in my head.

Toy = $20

Minutes of Entertainment = 20

Cost to Keep Kid Happy = $1 per minute

Seriously.  Can you imagine forking over a buck every single minute just to keep your kid happy? Yeah, I know you can.  Like the clicking of coins in a slot machine, I gamble that my dollar will keep her going, keep her occupied.  At some point, the little rolling windows on the slot machines slow down and I see large, red X’s appear.  DONE.   Twenty minutes of contentment while in a crowded airport? Priceless.


Favorite memories from Missouri vacation:

  • Walks through the lush forests of Missouri with my Dad and the girls as the wind whistled through the leaves of the trees.
  • Utterly perfect weather.
  • My Dad introducing me to these addictive pita chips (the simply naked variety).
  • Having no house to clean or laundry to fold.
  • Bird watching from the kitchen table.
  • Biking the Kady Trail with my Dad and the girls.
  • Lounging in a folding lawn chair as my Dad pushed the girls in a swing hanging from the high sturdy branch of a tree in our front yard.
  • Witnessing Kaia scream in anger as I requested she finish some of her “growing food” before eating a treat:  “I do NOT like growing food…EVERRRRR!!!!”
  • Helping my Dad pack individual meals for his upcoming 4 day Appalachian-trail hike with my sister and bro-in-law (this process took many, many hours and included re-engineering of the meal packing process.  Did you know that entire breakfast and lunches can fit into a sandwich sized Ziploc and dinners can fit into a quart sized Ziploc?)
  • Watching my girls wander and discover and play in the home I grew up in.   Having moments of nostalgia as I sat on the steps of the front porch, realizing I was like my Mama at this age:  watching her brown-haired daughter (me) play on the very same grass of the very same lawn on the very same gorgeous May afternoon with a little sibling (my brother).
  • Splurging on junk food with my Dad.  Savoring Hostess cupcakes and ding-dongs together on the road trip to Indiana.
  • Reprising an old tradition of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” as we crossed the state line in a trusty, beat up Mercury.  This song was belted out together every time my dad brought my siblings and me back home to my Mom’s house: every other weekend since 1980.  Only this time, it was sung to the tune of two screaming girls in the backseat.

Favorite memories from Indiana vacation:

  • Sleeping with the girls and my Mom all in one room.
  • Our day trip to Holiday World with my Mama, brother, and girls.  The park hasn’t changed since we were kids.
  • Riding rollercoasters for the first time since not being pregnant and or/toting kids (2004).  My brother and I screaming our way through the twists and dips of the wooden, creaking coasters, riding one of them three times in a row without exiting the seats (hooray for no lines!). 
  • Realizing that riding coasters while screaming and barely breathing is therapeutic.
  • Sleeping in while Grams watched the girls.
  • Visiting with old friends over Mexican food and laughter.  Hearing us all say “We all look the same as we did in High School” and really wanting to believe it.
  • Meeting a sister-doula in my hometown to discuss the state of birth-culture there and our hopes for inspiring change.
  • Celebrating my brother’s 30th birthday party at my older brother’s 100 year old home with my entire family.   Sharing memories of my brother’s life.
  • Hearing that my side of the family is finally going to welcome another grandchild! I’m going to be an AUNT!  And my amazing, tender-hearted brother Billy is finally going to be a Dad.
  • Perusing through all the garage sale finds my Mama scored for us.
  • Swinging in the homemade Eames swing my brother hung in his backyard.  Watching Kaia and Aunt Robin water the beautiful garden together.
  • Seeing my siblings for the first time since Christmas.  Laughing with my sister.  Watching my siblings entertain and love on my girls.
  • Driving past my childhood home in Indiana and stopping to tell my girls details of it.
  • Enjoying the craziness of motherhood with my very own Mama.
  • Knowing I was Home.
  • Accepting help with the girls (distraction, holding) from strangers on the airplane
  • Seeing Jason’s smiling face in the terminal as we arrived.  Watching the girls’ eyes glow as they noticed their Daddy and Kaia jump into his open arms.
  • Coming Home to just-as-divine weather in the desert.

Not So Favorite Memory:

  • Having my Dad pull ticks from my hair (I was too terrified).  Finding two ticks in Kaia’s hair during a bath.  Remembering how we used to be covered in ticks when we were kids.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Bo says:

    Becoming an aunt is only number 9 on the Indiana list??? Im sobbing right now……….

  2. leighsteele says:

    You should know these are in no particular order. 🙂 i wanted to build up to it, bro….

  3. janistan says:

    Welcome back! love the pics and the fact that you are now back in AZ. ((hugs))

  4. Oh, I loved that picture of you girls in the field – UNTIL you mentioned the ticks. Now I’m all queeby. 🙂

  5. Thanks for saying we haven’t changed. :0)

    We’ve grown a lot, but we love that it still “feels the same” here at Holiday World.

  6. jouette says:

    i totally was covered with ticks as a kid too (that’s what a childhood in the Minnesota backwoods’ll do to ya) i didn’t even think about what it would be like to find them now, ew, lol. what a wonderful vacation, it warms me all over~familylove is amazing ♥

  7. Jena says:

    What a great post. I loved every minute of it – the airports, the sizing-people-up for fun, and the exuberance you exude (for lack of another word)! The image of you as your mother is lovely – I imagine the generations of daughters and mothers and sisters and more daughters containing each other like nesting dolls. Thanks for writing what you do.

    xo Jena

    P.S. I would have been a basket case about the ticks. Lice is bad enough!!

  8. Heather says:

    Woohoo! I love roller coasters. This is such useful future information. Woohoo!

    (This is me cyber-jumping up and down)

  9. Suemonster says:


    Every time I read your posts I wish for a relationship with my mother like you have with yours. EVERY TIME .

    Instead Im currently in a bitter custody battle with my 81 yr old mother over my late sisters child who I raised to begin with .

    I WISH I WISH I WISH I WISH I knew what the amazing love you feel for your parents feels like .

    Your momma is SO lucky , as are your children !
    Whatever my troubles though , your words are food for the soul .

  10. Megan says:

    I’m writing this from our hometown as we speak (and we’re heading to St. Louis tomorrow as we speak, so kind of the reverse of your trip). I totally feel for you on your airport trip. I’m kinda glad airline tickets are outrageous right now, so we don’t get tempted to fly with Sofia. And Holiday World, sooooo much better now, although I love that many things have not changed. All my siblings and their kids (plus us!) went on Sunday and we had so much fun, especially Sofia, even though the water was freezing! We went last year when I was 7 months pregnant, so it was awesome to actually be able to ride anything I wanted. I so wish we could have seen each other! Our girls would have had so much fun — they could run away from diaper changes together.

    And congrats, Billy!!!!

  11. mb says:

    i loved this so much, it makes me feel like i get to be with you even when i’m not.

    your voice and magic ooozzzzze outta everything you say. someday i gotta make this visit with you.

    love love love

  12. Chelsea says:

    Sounds like you and your girls had a great trip.. I love that photo in the field. And roller coasters – I am jealous – how fun! I am glad you got to re-connect with your family and old friends and share your history and traditions with your daughters. Sounds like a pretty perfect vacation.

  13. bella says:

    you are GLOWING in this picture.
    I love coming here, hearing your voice, soaking up the beuaty and energy and fire that is YOU.
    so much love to you dear one.

  14. leigh lear says:

    loved this post, i think we grew up very close to one another, judging from some of the pics of you guys on the katy trail and i noticed your dad’s Truman State shirt, I almost went to college there and it’s just 30 min. from my hometown. i actually delivered my first child there. crazy small world.

  15. what a fabulous post. 🙂 i haven’t been by in a while, but i so enjoyed reading this and sneaking back into your world if only for a little bit. sounds like a fabulous trip minus missing the flight and the ticks. eek.
    congrats on becoming an aunt!!
    love n hugs,

  16. Doulala says:

    Oh how I miss you! I’ll be home tomorrow and I will have lots to write about too. Next time let’s take our vacations at the same time, no more of the back to back leaving town. See you soon Sista!

  17. Jenni Shaver says:

    I love your writing; you are very talanted. It is a gift. I hate ticks. You are not alone there. They are creepy and freak me out. I have only had to remove a few in my life..I don’t go out where they are much, I guess. You sound like you had a very full trip; wow, I would be exausted! Keep bloggin’..change the world one post at a time. 🙂

  18. Kelly says:

    Ticks every time we are home!!! One or more of us. My Dad’s house has the woods behind and to the side of it. Just found out the neighbor on the other side, their house burnt down.

    Congrats on the Aunt!! I know the family NEVER thought that was going to happen.

  19. Megan says:

    You know, we were in Illinois the same time you were in Indiana/Missouri and we also flew in and out of St. Louis.

    Next time you plan a trip home, let me know and maybe we can help each other through the adventure of traveling alone with little ones!

    Oh, and I hate ticks too!

  20. Woohoo! I love roller coasters. This is such useful future information. Woohoo!

    (This is me cyber-jumping up and down)

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