Tag Archives: lucky

Set This Circus Down

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It’s hard to know where to start when trying to sum up 10 years of marriage, not to mention the six years of togetherness prior to marriage. Husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage a week and a half ago, and our wedding day seems like yesterday.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

Until I actually flipped through all of our photo albums since we were married … and then it seemed like a lifetime ago.

Ten years. Our wedding day, up to that point, was the happiest day of our lives.

Everyone who came talked about what a fun party it was, and at the gift opening the next day, Husband and I promised that we would renew our vows and have a big anniversary party for our 10th anniversary.

And then our reality happened.

So much for a special "family" celebration on our 10-year anniversary - crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So much for a special “family” celebration on our 10-year anniversary – crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So I guess our vow renewal and super awesome anniversary party will have to wait a few more years.

For our one-year anniversary, the traditional gift is paper, and I had the brilliant idea that Husband and I should forego an actual gift in favor of each writing down our memories of our wedding day (on paper — get it?). So naturally, I wrote down TWENTY-FIVE PAGES of memories — bulleted, single-spaced, 12-point font. And I wrote down my memories not just from the wedding day, but the five days before it and one day after it. Husband wrote down 11 pages worth of memories, double-spaced, 18-point font. I’d say that’s quite an achievement for a guy who doesn’t like to write!

Jen and Eric First Anniversary-3

Reading memories of our wedding day on our first anniversary.

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Going back to the church we were married at on our first anniversary.

First anniversary dinner.

First anniversary dinner. We look like little kids!

A couple of highlights:

  • When I woke up in the morning I said to my cousin (who’s like my sister), “I don’t want the day to start because I know it’s going to be over before I know it.”
  • Making the very short drive to church from my parents’ house felt like forever. There was such anticipation. When we were driving up the big hill into the parking lot and I saw all the cars, I got nervous for the first time and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! People actually came!” I don’t know why, but I genuinely was surprised that there were people there. It finally started to feel real, and not just like a dress-up game.
  • My mom saying, “Well, Jen, I have to tell you — I take back that you’re going to be late for your own wedding, because you’re early!”
  • When we said our vows. We both had memorized them and we were both so confident. I thought I would cry, but I was just so happy.
  • The same cousin (whom I dubbed the “Cousin of Honor” for the wedding) was dying of starvation by the time we made it to dinner. During the entire meal she made food noises, and said things like “Oh, this is so good. Oh yum. Yum, yum, yum. This is sooooo good.” (this still cracks me up)
  • All day long I said to my BRAND NEW HUSBAND, “We have so much to look forward to.” And I wasn’t just excited about continuing our wedding experience by going on a fabulous honeymoon/vacation. I was talking about all the years we would spend together, having kids, watching them grow up, going on adventures, living our lives together forever.
  • My BFF and maid of honor ended her speech by saying, “May your dreams of today be your realities of tomorrow.” This has always stuck with me (and as far as google can tell me, she made that up all on her own).
My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It's so lovely. I still love this cake.

My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It’s so lovely. I still love this cake.

What we felt that day is almost indescribable. We felt SO INCREDIBLY LOVED. It was like nothing we had ever experienced before. Every single person who was there, was there for us. We both felt completely honored that people would come and be there just for us.

We had people warn us about how expensive weddings are and how afterward we would wish that we hadn’t “wasted” all that money on a wedding, and instead used it for a down payment on a house. They told us that we would wish we had eloped.

For us at least? Never, ever, ever, ever in a million billion years. We wouldn’t have given up that wedding day or how we felt on that day, for anything in the world. It was exactly what we wanted, and the feeling was more than we could have imagined.

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Husband and I got engaged in August 2001, and a few months before that, Tim McGraw released his album, “Set This Circus Down.”

Tim and his wife Faith Hill (I like to think we’re personal friends) have always been two of our favorite artists. For our wedding slideshow, I chose Faith’s song “She’s a Wild One” (one of my faves) to go along with the photos of me, and Husband chose “Indian Outlaw” for the photos of him. For the photos of us together, we chose “Set This Circus Down.”

The song has such a literal and figurative meaning for us:

Sometimes this road it just keeps winding, round and round and back again
But you’ve always kept me smiling
Over every hill round every bend

Baby you’re the one smilin’ with me
When the sun comes up
I got the wheel,
You got the map and that’s enough

Chorus:
And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

Sometimes I lie awake just thinking
Of all the horizons we have seen
And as another day is sinking
I thank God you’re here with me

‘Cause baby you’re the one laughing with me
When the sun goes down
Livin’ on faith and holding on tight
To the love we’ve found

And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

And set this circus down
Baby, one of these days
Gonna set this circus down
Set this circus down
Baby, one of these days

Two days after we got engaged, Husband and I embarked on this crazy adventure where he literally had the wheel and I had the map. We packed up a tiny U-Haul truck with all our crap and moved to North Carolina for me. He left a secure job, a home and all of his family and friends, for me and my dream.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

Looking back, I’m not surprised he did it. But I am surprised at how easily he made that decision. It really wasn’t a decision — we were young, we were in love, the world was our oyster and we had no real responsibilities at that time that were holding us to Wisconsin. He came with me and chased my crazy dream, and we always knew that we would come back home eventually to be with our family and friends.

When “eventually” turned out to be six months later, because we (mostly me) was so homesick and my dream job was not all that it was cracked up to be, we packed up and came home — despite the fact that he had just gotten a new job in North Carolina.

On our wedding day, when I kept telling him over and over again, “We have so much to look forward to,” I didn’t really have any specific ideas of what that would look like — what our home would look like, what our kids would look like, or how many of them we would have. I don’t know that I could have imagined anything anyway.

Marriage has been both infinitely better than I thought it would be, and also infinitely harder than I ever imagined. Before you get married you think you know that you’ll have your ups and downs; that you’ll have battles; that you might go through a rough patch or have a crisis or two. But here’s the thing — you don’t really know. You’ve heard all those cliché pieces of marriage advice like compromising and fighting fair and trying not to go to bed angry and yada, yada yada. You don’t really know. You think you know what it means to make a lifelong commitment to someone in good times and in bad. But you just don’t really know until you’re in the trenches, making that decision to be in it, in good times and in bad, every day.

But, like I said, marriage also has been infinitely better than what I imagined, because we have built a life together. I have a partner — in life and in everything — and he is a kind, warm, generous, strong, gentle, funny and selfless man. And despite how very hard it is on some days, we have love, respect, faith, laughter, and this:

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

We set our circus down, literally in a sleepy little town just liked I’d always hoped, and my dreams of yesterday have most definitely surpassed my realities of today. I couldn’t have dreamt this. I feel so lucky and so blessed. And while I can’t even fully dream tomorrow, I feel certain that my reality will surpass my dreams.

Husband, like I’ve told you countless times before, as we travel this crazy journey, there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with than you. Thank you for our circus, and thank you for being my partner. I thank God you’re here with me.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.

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10-year anniversary dinner.

10-year anniversary dinner.

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A Monkey Turns Four

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A Monkey Turns Four

1. What is your favorite color?

Orange and purple

2. What is your favorite toy?

Baby dolls and my strollers

3. What is your favorite fruit?

Strawberries

4. What is your favorite TV show?

Team Umizoomi

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

Smashed potato (with butter, ham, cheese, peas and corn)

6. What is your favorite outfit?

Dresses!

7. What is your favorite game?

Candyland. And I want you to buy me a Dora game, too. And if you find any Team Umizoomi games

that is going to be super fun, because we love Team Umizoomi.

8. What is your favorite snack?

Cheetos and pretzels and goldfish and strawberries

9. What is your favorite animal?

Fishies

10. What is your favorite song?

Taylor Swift (Also, on a separate occasion she told me that she wants to play all the instruments that Taylor Swift can play: banjo, guitar and piano)

11. What is your favorite book?

A Team Umizoomi book or a Dora book

12. Who is your best friend?

Braelynn

13. What is your favorite cereal?

Reese’s Puffs

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Swing

15. What is your favorite drink?

Chocolate milk

16. What is your favorite holiday?

Easter! And I love Christmas too.

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

Petey and lovey

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Pancakes! And strawberries.

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

Hot dogs

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A mama and a girl fire fighter. Can you be three things when you grow up? Then I want to be a mama, and a girl fire fighter, and a teacher.

(sigh) I just love her so much. I’m so proud of the person she’s becoming.

Birthday morning surprise.

She was especially thrilled that the bike had a basket for a baby.

Totally spontaneous smile. Iconic.

Friends party at the Y!

Pure joy.

They love each other so much.

Happy Fourth Birthday, Monkey!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxooooooooooooooo

And So It Begins

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Comfortable Love

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One day when Husband and I were in Punta Cana on our vacation, we happened upon a wedding on the resort.

I love weddings. I’m usually a hot mess of tears from the moment the bride walks down the aisle, even if it’s the second cousin of my husband’s boss’s friend, or a wedding on TV, or the wedding of two complete strangers that I just happened to catch as I was walking by. (Basically I’m a hot mess of tears anytime anything remotely emotional comes on TV, yes even commercials, which is why I don’t allow myself to watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition.)

I love how being at a wedding makes you nostalgic for your own wedding day — makes you remember what it was like to be that blushing bride gazing into the face of your nervous groom, with all of the newness, hope and anticipation laid out in front of you. For me, seeing those emotions on the faces of two other people is a reminder about why I got married in the first place.

I am especially eager to listen to the officiant’s message at a wedding. It’s always something about partnership and love, and usually I can find a piece of advice to apply to my own married life.

I think the officiant at the Punta Cana wedding said what I think is possibly the sagest advice I’ve ever heard regarding marriage.

He said getting married is like saying to the other person, “Thank you for sharing a life with me.”

Wow.

Yes. That is exactly what it is.

Because marriage is not always fun, it’s not always never the overly romanticized thing we see on TV, and often, it’s really, really hard. But, it’s a choice that you and your spouse made to share a life with each other, and everything that life entails. Everything.

And that is simultaneously what’s also so wonderful about marriage.

In the brightest moments and the darkest hours, I can look to my husband and thank him for sharing this life with me. I can laugh with him, cry with him, lean on him for support, worry out loud, be totally neurotic, be absolutely silly and always be myself.

I don’t think anyone ever prepares you for how challenging marriage can be at times. I mean, people say it’s hard, but you don’t really get it. You don’t really understand until you’re arguing about who’s family’s house you’re going to for Christmas, or which one of you is going to get up with the screaming baby for the fifth time, or who has more responsibilities around the house and why. (It’s kind of like motherhood — people can tell you that you need to feed the baby every two hours, but until you’re actually doing it, it just doesn’t click.)

So yeah. Hard work.

But the best things in life aren’t free. And isn’t marriage one of best gifts you could ever receive? Someone picked you. And in addition to arguing over where you’re going to spend the holidays and who has to trim the bushes, you also have the privilege of building a home together, watching your daughters take their first steps, and sharing inside jokes.

Husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary a couple days ago, and it’s been almost 14 years that we’ve been together. We’ve basically become adults together. We’ve gone from courting each other, to puppy love, to newly-wedded bliss, to a comfortable sort of love that’s shown by saving the other person a piece of cake or not leaving the dish rag wadded up in a ball. I love how author and blogger Chandra Hoffman wrote about what love means in her marriage. She said:

“When he buys and carries five eighty pound bags of water-softener salt down to the basement every six weeks, that is love. Also, hand-weeding in between the pavers of our driveway. Turning my kitchen compost pile. Building a 60×8 foot trellis for the lima beans to climb.

That is all so, so true. It’s the gestures that aren’t necessarily big and grand, and the acceptance of each other as we are. That’s love in a marriage.

So, thank you Husband for sharing a life with me. You make me feel unconditionally loved, and there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with on this journey than you.

May 16, 2003

Letter to My Three-Year-Old

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When I looked at you in the rearview mirror this morning on the way to your Nana’s house, you somehow looked older. Your hair was all curled up thanks to the layered haircut you got last week, and your bangs were swept to the right side and held by a magenta flower hair clip. You were looking out the window and I felt like I noticed a difference from yesterday when you were two, to today when you’re officially three years old.

I glanced at your sister on the other side of the car, who was looking out the opposite window, and felt like you just looked like that — it seems like yesterday when you were 14 months old.

Monkey, 14 months

14-month-old sunbather

THREE YEARS. It’s been three years since my life changed in the most wonderful and miraculous of ways. It simultaneously feels like less and more time has passed.

Monday, April 21, 2008, 12:30 a.m.

You were born at 12:30 a.m. after an hour and a half of pushing. It took your daddy two tries to cut the umbilical cord and then they laid you on me, all bloody. It was what I wanted. I remember feeling absolutely amazed at what had transpired. I couldn’t stop saying to your daddy, “I can’t believe we made her.” It was truly the most remarkable and miraculous thing to happen in our lifetimes.

There really was no hope of sleeping after you were born. By the time we made it up to the recovery room, it was 2 a.m. The the nurse gave you your first bath and we didn’t try to go to sleep until around 3:30 a.m. Your daddy fell asleep immediately, but I couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at you and touching you to make sure you were still breathing. I was on such an adrenaline high.

One-day-old Monkey

Monkey, you are such a joy. Your personality is SO BIG. You are exuberant. You are alternately sensitive, yet defiant. You want to be heard. Things always have to be done a certain way. You are stubborn. You are empathetic and concerned about the well-being of others. You are confident in your own opinions. You want to feel included at all times. You are caring and nurturing.

You get many of these traits from me. While it has been challenging for me at times to deal with my own personality, I think I’ve got it figured out, and I think it will serve you well, too.

You love Dora, chocolate, ice cream and anything sweet. You love to be outside. I think I could push you on the swings for three hours until my arm fell off and you still wouldn’t be tired of it. You want a dog. You want to help with everything, including making every meal. You ask to help wash the dishes every night and you want to help with the laundry and unloading the dishwasher. You take great pride in your accomplishments and you basically want to do everything by yourself. You love to bake with me. Your curiosity is unbridled. You have an amazing memory. You’re creative and want to draw, color, paint — and your latest — cut with a scissors. You still love to cuddle, and sometimes when we lay down with you at bedtime you ask to hold our hand. (I heart this).

You probably are one of the funniest people I know. Obviously, I’m biased, but you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. When one of my aunts sees pictures of you, she says, “I can just see her thinking, ‘I’m so funny’ because you probably tell her that every day.” And I think I do tell you that almost every day.

You are learning how to identify and express your emotions, and you communicate in such a way that it makes me feel like you’re older than you are. You listen to everything we say and ask questions about difficult subjects that I’m not sure how to explain.

You continue to become your own person and I’m in awe of the process. I’m also a little nervous. Because from the moment you were born and every day since, you’ve taught me how to be a parent. You’ll always be my first born, my test case, the one I make the most of my mistakes on.

It was a slightly terrifying time to be a first-time mother, feeling overwhelmed and incapable, and in typical “you” fashion, you didn’t make it any easier on me. That’s okay though, because you force me to be my best. And I want to be my best for you. We’ll keep figuring it out together. So far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.

I am so happy to be your mama.

She looks so big here that it kind of takes my breath away.

April 21, 2011 - Someone's sister wasn't interested in a birthday morning photo shoot.

Happy third birthday to my great big girl.

March Madness

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It’s March Madness. And no, I’m not talking about basketball. If I was, I would just say that my bracket bled to death and leave it at that.

No, I’m talking about the madness that exists in our household this month of March. This month of March, which continues to march on endlessly. How can it only be Wednesday? It feels like it should be FRIDAY. Friday, APRIL 1. I can’t wait for April.

I always thought the month of January went slowly, and I’ve never had much of a problem with March. But this March — oh this March cannot be over soon enough.

And how can I even be complaining when Husband and I got to take the most GLORIOUS vacation to Punta Cana this March? To be honest, I can’t even believe that it was just a few weeks ago because it feels like several lifetimes ago.

Oh vacation. We really did have a glorious time. We did nothing. No, really. We — did — nothing. It was so wonderful. Whole days filled up with nothing. Many days in a row filled up with nothing. There was no schedule, no time limit, no agenda, no diaper bag.

Glorious nothingness at the pool.

There were only sun-drenched days that stretched out before us, offering the promise of nothing more than lounge chairs, the pool, the beach, food and drinks. It’s called free time. Sans kids. We sat and read, we sat and napped, we swam, we drank and we ate.

Glorious nothingness on the beach.

"Toes in the water, a$$ in the sand ..."

After two or so days of this, we almost got to thinking, “Vacation? What did we need a vacation for? Things weren’t really that busy or stressful at home.”

But we knew this was foolhardy thinking. In a moment of clarity (thanks screaming four-month-old at the pool who desperately needed a nap, but whose parents continued to feed you into submission) we recognized that we were merely suffering from vacation amnesia. And we pressed on with our glorious nothingness.

When it was time to come home, it was wonderful to return refreshed and recharged. We were SO HAPPY to see our kids. Plus, it felt like the vacation renewed our well of parenting patience.

And boy, it’s a good thing, because we sure have needed it — what with all the madness and all.

You see, the girls’ Nana (my mother-in-law) left for her annual two-week vacation to Florida with her sisters only four days after Husband and I returned. Nana watches the girls while I’m working, plus she and Grandpa took care of them while we were on vacation.

So St. Nana, (she’s a saint in my book) DEFINITELY deserved a vacation. And in theory, it works out perfectly — Nana spends a whole week with the girls and just as she’s about ready to pull her hair out, we get back and are DYING to spend time with them, and she relaxes on her vacation.

Perfect, right?

Except not.

As much as I wish I could be spending these two weeks with the girls every day, I am crazy busy with work. CA-RA-ZY. Thankfully, the craziness is scheduled to cease and desist as of this Friday (another reason Friday cannot get here fast enough!!), and then I will just be very busy.

So I asked a friend of the family, rockstar C, to come over and watch the girls three days a week (instead of the usual four) so that I could get some work done.

Cue the clinging and uncontrollable sobbing.

Bean was starting to have some major separation anxiety issues with me before we even left for vacation. Plus she had a cold and was teething.

Return from vacation = new cold, still teething, separation anxiety with renewed vigor.

Crying face.

I’m sure leaving her for a week didn’t help the separation anxiety, but it is UN-REAL. I’m not saying that I don’t understand it — I get it, I do. Her routine has now been disrupted for more than three weeks, she feels miserable, her teeth hurt and she’s not sleeping well. But I don’t have to like it.

It’s hard. Bean has to be ON me. Sometimes even when she’s as ON me as she’s gonna get, she still feels the need to try to get MORE on me. Not only can I not leave the room, I can’t even turn my back to her in what appears to be leaving the room, otherwise uncontrollable crying results and the only way to stop it is to pick her up upon which the crying stops immediately.

My job in the evening is to sit on the floor while Bean plays around me. Every few minutes Bean will come back over to me and plop herself in my lap as if to re-stake her claim. And if Monkey or Husband approaches me, Bean runs over to me, pushes them out of the way, and sits in my lap. She doesn’t leave until they’re gone, and if they make a move in my direction, she’s on the lookout. Yeah.

And it’s not just hard on me. It’s hard on Husband, it’s hard on Monkey and it’s hard on C.

Husband feels like a total failure when he and Bean are happily playing together and the moment I come home, Bean drops everything and comes screaming toward me as if Husband has just been plucking her toenails out.

Monkey starts to feel a little left out because Bean is demanding so much attention. And poor C. The uncontrollable crying starts as soon as it appears I’m going to leave.

And then there’s the fun of locking myself away in the bedroom so that I can work uninterrupted. Generally, everything is fine once I’m out of sight. Every day I consider going to the library or Starbucks, but I need to be able to talk on my phone without disrupting people. So to the bedroom I am banished! Sneaking around my own house and texting the babysitter from another room are two things I never thought I would be doing.

On top of Bean’s clinginess, Monkey has been sad and weepy at times during the last three days too — specifically right away in the morning when C comes. Poor C. The girls really do love her! As soon as I’m out of sight, they have a ball playing with her. I think the long disruption in routine, on top of missing her Nana, is what’s bothering Monkey. It’s even harder to explain to your three-year-old why you can’t play with her even though you’re home.

Ugh. STRESS! MADNESS!

You never realize how much you appreciate and come to rely on the normalcy of your daily routine until something changes. While we certainly tell the girls’ Nana “thank you” all the time, and we often think to ourselves, “Oh, I’m so glad we have her to help with the girls,” these last two weeks has been an indication that we probably haven’t done enough to show her just how much we appreciate her and everything she does to help our family run smoothly.

So, I think I should take this moment to publicly thank my mother-in-law. Thank you SO MUCH for taking care of the girls and making them feel so safe and comfortable and for allowing me to work. Thank you for making crafts with them, baking cookies, teaching them and playing outside. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make our lives so much easier and we are so grateful. The girls love you and miss you and we can’t wait until you come home!

Only 2.5 more days of madness. Between the stress of work on a deadline and the kids’ craziness, I feel like 5 p.m. Friday will NEVER get here. I’m doing a lot of praying and drawing on my renewed well of parenting patience.

Have your kids experienced this type of separation anxiety? Do you have any tips? How long did it last? Do you have a friend or relative in your life that helps your family run smoothly?

The One in Which I Prepare for Vacation

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We booked our trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on December 3. And since then, I haven’t really thought about it.

I haven’t been daydreaming about white sandy beaches, the hot sun, the warm ocean, the poolside drinks, and the luxurious time that Husband and I will have to catch up with one another. I don’t know why, but I just haven’t. In fact, even after “officially” booking the trip, after talking about it for more than two years, it didn’t seem real.

Before I could even think about vacation, there was the whole Christmas holiday to prepare and plan for. And then I focused my attention on getting through the month of January, since it’s my most hated month of the year — so dreary, cold and blah. Not to mention that I was busy planning Bean’s first birthday party, which was the first week of February. I told myself that after Bean’s birthday, I really had to focus on planning for vacation. I thought it would seem more real then.

Hello, we’re two weeks out!! The trip LITERALLY is upon us.

And I am sooooo not prepared. It still doesn’t even seem real to me, and I’m afraid it’s gonna get real in about two seconds. I’m a huge list-maker, and I need to seriously start writing down everything that I need to do before we leave for vacation.

I guess, chiefly, my main concern is missing the girls. They will be very well taken care of by my in-laws. The girls’ Nana watches them four days of the week and my in-law’s home is like their second home. They each have a bedroom where they nap, they have loveys and blankets that are for Nana’s house only, and there are enough toys, activities and books for a regular daycare. They’re so totally in the routine of eating and playing at Nana’s house so it’s not the routine, per se, that I’m worried about.

It’s just that … they always come home. And see us. I’m not sure how Monkey will handle it. In November I spent 3 nights and 4 days away from home with my two best friends in the world. Even though I explained to Monkey over and over again before I left that I was going to be gone for a few days visiting her aunties, and she totally seemed to get it, that first full day with her daddy when I wasn’t home at night, was terrible. Husband called me to say that Monkey was hysterical that I wasn’t home. She thought I would be home that night, even though we had told her that I would be gone for several days.

When she got on the phone with me she was sobbing so hard that I couldn’t make out any words. Which then resulted in me sobbing on the other end, trying to be calm and find words to console her. But that’s kinda hard when you’re super upset because you’re kid is super upset. It wasn’t good.

Thankfully, she was better the other 2.5 days. But honestly, while she was better, I was a mess by the end of the second day. It was really hard for me to be gone from them for that long — the longest I’d ever been away from Monkey was a weekend, and Bean, only one overnight.

Which brings us to this vacation. The vacation that Husband and I have been dreaming about taking since 2009. We haven’t taken a “real” vacation since December 2005. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing this — especially because I know some people don’t ever get to go on vacation.

I’m especially grateful for this trip because l think it’s important for Husband and I to reconnect on a spousal level — something more than just being mommy and daddy. It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking of your spouse as the other half of your parental partnership, that you forget that they have a role beyond that. And a strong mommy and daddy unit makes for a strong family unit.

So yes, I do think this trip is going to be a great thing and I’m very thankful for it.

I just need to get over the whole “missing my kids” thing. We’ll be gone for 7 nights and 8 days — YIKES! We opted not to book a five-night trip because it barely costs less, and because you spend two days traveling.

So can you help me? For those of you who have traveled without your kids, can you tell me what I need to have prepared for them? The two biggest things that have popped into my head are finalizing our wills, and leaving all the girls’ doctor’s information and emergency numbers for my in-laws. What else do I need to remember or plan for?

Do you have any tips for how to help the kids cope while we’re gone? I’m planning to print a calendar for Monkey so that every night she can cross off the days until we’ll be back. We’ve started talking to her about how she and Bean are going to stay at Nana’s house while daddy and I are gone on vacation. We’ve told her that we’ll be gone for several days, but not to worry because we’re coming back. Any other suggestions?

What about tips on how to enjoy time with Husband and not spend too much time missing or worrying about the kids (aside from copious amounts of alcohol, obviously).

I also need to figure out how the whole cell phone/Internet thing works while we’re there. I’m probably going to want to call at least a couple times and I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with outrageous roaming charges. My in-laws don’t have a webcam, so we can’t Skype with them.

I can’t believe we’re leaving in 12 days!

Help!!

Have any of you left your young children for an adults-only vacation? Did you all survive? Any tips you have ON ANYTHING are greatly appreciated!