10 Family Vacation Moments We Hope to Forget…

….but laugh at now…

We have gone on many vacations over the years and like family vacations tend to go, we’ve had our ups and downs. Overall, I’m hoping the kids have fond memories of them but looking back at my childhood family vacations, I’m realistic to know that some less than pleasant moments will linger in the minds…..maybe forever.

Here is a look at my top 10- I have not polled the kids on this one but I plan on doing it soon. It will be interesting to see what their lists contain.

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1. Deer Park, Sandusky Ohio(2000) This was the first vacation we took with all three kids, Michael- almost 10, Kris- 7 and Andrew- 4-1/2. We went with my sister- 7-1/2 months pregnant, my brother-in-law and my nephew- 5. Everyone was very excited about going to Deer Park and feeding the deer. We ignored the weather reports and headed out, also turning a blind eye to the dark heavy clouds that filled the sky. By the time we got out into the park, it began raining and before long it was a torrential downpour with all of us soaked to the skin, mud splattered and huddling under a shelter with hundreds of wet (and hungry) deer.

2. Kings Island, Ohio (2000) Have you been to Kings Island Amusement Park? It’s known for its roller coasters. While my husband, brother-in-law and Michael were having the time of our lives, my sister and I were dragging around a wagon full of hot, crabby kids. My sister couldn’t go on any of the rides because she was pregnant. We were really tired and it wasn’t long before all 5 of us were wandering around grumbling. Someone whined, “Where’s Daddy?”

If there’s a God in heaven, we will find him soon.” I’m not sure if it was me or my sister that said it.

The crowd parted, I’m pretty sure the sun shined straight down, and there walking toward us were the dads. My sister handed the handle of the wagon to her husband. I turned to my husband and said, “Have fun” and we walked away.

untitled (8)3. Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom, Disney World (2002) “We’re scared!” On our first trip to Disney World, (Michael-11, Kris- 8, Andrew- almost 6), we made the kids get in line for the Haunted Mansion. This was before the days of Fast Passes and we were in long for awhile. Kris and Andy did not want to go in. As time passed, their protests turned into crying until we nearly reached the door. Their wails of terror were entertaining everyone in line. We kept reassuring them that they would not be frightened. I’m sure at that point they thought we were the meanest parents ever. (It ended up being one of their favorite rides and one of the memories sure to bring a smile to their faces.)4.

4. Colorado Cabin (2004) “Remember the time we were wandering around the mountains…” We rented a cabin in the Rocky Mountains when the kids were 13, 11-1/2 and nearly 9. To reach the cabin, we were supposed to meet the owner at a locked gate at the bottom of the IMGP0501“subdivision” somewhere in the hills. When we finally found our destination, no one was there. We had been driving around lost for hours so while my husband waited for the owner to show up, I took the kids to wander up the road to find the cabin. I left my purse, phone, water….. all in the car and off me and the kids trudged for nearly an hour. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Not the smartest move on either my part or my husband’s.

06a3crop5. Pikes Peak, Colorado (2004) I don’t tolerate any kind of altitude well. Driving up to the top of Pikes Peak, 14,000+ feet almost did me in! As the family enjoyed the view and took tons of photos, I staggered around the gift shop, lurching from a rack of t-shirts to a shelf a souvenirs. Andrew, who was nearly 9, had seen enough and decided he was heading back. Back where? We will never know because when we ask him, he’s not sure. He was just done. That was one of the biggest scares we ever had as parents- losing a kid on Pikes Peak.

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6. Denver/Breckenridge, Colorado (2005) A year later we were back in Colorado on a vacation/business trip. This entire vacation quickly became one we would like to forget because it was an unpleasant combination of my altitude sickness getting worse each day and my husband spending long stretches on his phone, leaving us sitting at one site or another much longer than we would ever want to be. At one point, we were all in a hotel room trying to sleep while my husband was on the phone in the bathroom trying to fix some work related issue at 2am.

7. Magic Kingdom, Disney World (2006)- “The Happiest Place on Earth!” Our second trip to Disney World found us with Michael- almost 16 with a girlfriend, Kris- 13, and Andy- 10-1/2 and along for the ride were my parents. It was Florida and it was June so there was rain but this was the year of the hurricanes and we were lucky to experience the tail end of a bigger one. When it rained, it poured. But that wasn’t what made this vacation memorable. This time we can thank Michael, full of teenage angst. He was full of “piss and vinegar” to quote my father and after a week of his attitude, I was DONE. We were in a gift shop in the Magic Kingdom and I had just spent 10 minutes arguing with Kris over some impossibly overpriced souvenir while a bored bystander, leaning against a nearby display watched in open amusement. After being told to have a “magical day” by a cast member at the register, I was in a foul mood. As our group walked down Main Street, strung out over half a block, I heard Michael mutter, “This is the last vacation I’m going on with this family.”

I spun around and snapped, “Who said we were even going to ask you next time?”IMGP3805(It would be 6 years before Michael took another vacation with us and guess where we went? You got it- Disney World!)

8. Epcot, Disney World- any year “Rain, rain, go away….”june 07 - Epcot 025We went to Disney World a number of times and we expected rain to play a part in our days. What we didn’t expect was that every time we went to Epcot it would pour. But that’s what happened each and every time. And it wasn’t the pleasant sudden rain shower that clears up to sunshine in a few minutes. It was that non-stop downpour where you are soaked to the skin. Every single time. Despite the forecast or even how the day started out. We were finally granted a reprieve this past June when we only had a short sprinkle- it was truly a Disney Miracle!!!

IMG_39719. Niagara Falls, US (2014) Andrew and I spent a lot of time on the road this year while he was auditioning at colleges. On one of our trips we found ourselves with some free time and we were only an hour from Niagara Falls so we decided to head on out to see it. What we did not realize was that it was 20 degrees below the average temp for that time of year and with the wind chill it felt like -10 degrees. I’m not sure we even saw the Falls, to be honest. The ice pellets stung our face and the sun was so bright we were blinded. Our fingers and toes were frozen for hours afterward, not to mention our nerves being frazzled by the treacherous ride back to the hotel in an icy snowstorm.

10. Disney World Resort Parking Lot (2014) “F-ing Disney World” On our recent family vacation to Disney World, we experienced a few tense moments. Michael and Jasmine were struggling with CJ, who was going through a tough time- testing their patience at every turn. It wasn’t until we were loading up our cars and preparing to leave that “it” happened. Our cars were separated by a few empty spots and my husband and I were sitting in our car when we noticed a commotion over at Michael’s car. We could hear yelling and when we got out of our car, we heard CJ screaming and crying. We looked at each other, not sure if we should step in or not. That had happened a lot over the course of the past week. (It’s a fine line- if you have grandchildren, you know what I mean!) And then as we were still not sure what to do, we got our answer. Michael’s voice carried loud and clear. “I don’t care if it’s f-ing (feel free to fill in the blank with your favorite f-word) Disney World, I’ve f-ing had it!” My husband marched over, snatched CJ from his parents, and buckled him into our car, not saying a word. Disney 2014 (33)

Michael’s brothers were really bummed to have missed him dropping f-bombs all over the place while they were off getting coffee.

But if you ask CJ, he will tell you it was the best vacation ever. (Thank God!)

We really did have fun on these vacations, too! I swear we did!!! But let’s be honest here- anyone who has taken children of any age on vacation will admit there are usually a few of these moments thrown in to mix things up.

What are some of your most memorable….or unmemorable vacation moments?

10 Movies I Forced My Kids to Watch

Welcome to the inaugural post of my “10 Things” feature. I’ve been searching for something that will bring a different perspective to the blog. While Friday Fuzz focuses on transgender and gender issue related topics, our family is more than just the family with the transgender kid. My goal is for people to get to know us better since I’ve been told I’m very guarded. We will see!

10 Movies I Forced My Kids to Watch

Yes, as my children were growing up until as recent as last month, I have forced them to watch movies they otherwise wouldn’t have seen. I wasn’t trying to punish them or anything. I really thought they would enjoy the movies, for one reason or the other. The hidden bonus in making them watch these movies is that they sparked on so many conversations, not just the day of the movie, but for years to come. We talked about pop culture, the way society has changed since their dad and I were growing up, family stories from way back in the 70’s and 80’s, and how things related to their lives now. imagesCFPPVFOZ

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)- I cannot remember the first time we watched this together. I do remember telling them that we did not condone getting high in the school library and destroying school property…..or getting Saturday detentions. This movie is a classic and it truly stands the test of time. My kids immediately embraced it and it has become one of their favorites. Andrew shared it recently with his girlfriend, who to his horror, had never seen it.untitled (3)

2. The Bad News Bears (1976) – Both my husband and I had fond memories of this movie. Apparently our memories were from the point of view of a child and not as a parent because when we sat down to watch it with the kids (the 1976 Walter Matthau/Tatum O’Neal version in all its glory) we had to quickly pause the video to make disclaimers and explain why we thought this was suitable viewing matter for children. They were approximately 12, 9, and 6 around this time. To this day, I’m not sure we adequately explained the suitability factor.

This was when we came up with our own mantra that carries on until today- A-C-T, which stands for Approve, Condone, Tolerate. My kids quickly learned that the minute we began, “We do not approve, condone or tolerate any behavior….”

It was one of their first looks into how different the world was now compared to the 70’s. Kids swear, adults drink and smoke. Yes. But in movies, kids do not swear like that and the responsible baseball coach does not bring his beer to practices. He also does not pile kids into his convertible with no seat belts while drinking his beer as he drives. Do I even have to say it? My kids LOVED it.untitled (4)

3. Mr.Mom (1983)- Michael Keaton and Teri Garr. Taking it for the silliness that it was, it went over really well with the kids. The only touchy part was when the dad had to take away Kenny’s woobie (his blanket). I was afraid my blankie boy, Andrew, would fear that we were going to take his blanket away. We didn’t but that’s a post for another day.

4. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)- Molly Brown and the Titanic have always interested me for as long as I can remember. The year we were heading to Denver on vacation, we watched this movie because I really wanted to visit the Molly Brown house and I figured if the kids were familiar with her story they would get on board with the idea. Since Michael was obsessed with the Titanic when he was younger, I hoped his enthusiasm would grab Kris and Andrew. No go. They don’t remember watching the movie. They don’t remember going to the house in Denver. Nothing. Oh well, you win some. You lose some.untitled (2)

5. The Music Man (1962)- While I introduced my kids to some movies because they were favorites of mine, others had a specific reason in mind, such as #4 and this one. Kris and Andrew would attend a musical summer day camp and after the first year when the play was Fiddler on the Roof, I realized that they enjoyed it much more if they were familiar with the story and music. Kris was about 10 and Andrew was 7 or almost 8. Having watched a very young little Ron Howard playing the part of Winthrop, Marian the librarian’s little brother, Andy went into auditions mimicking Winthrop’s lisp instantly earning him the part. He made his performing debut on a stage in front of a packed auditorium and blew us away. That sparked off a string of classical musical watching that continues. The results have been mixed- Oklahoma is a winner where as Carousel got mixed reviews.

6. The Sound of Music (1965)- I had such hopes for this movie and all were unrealistic. I had memories of huddling around the tv set with my sisters and brother and watching this movie. We had to take advantage of the once a year opportunity since this was before the days of VCRS, DVDS and DVRS. I remember the treats we would have and laying on the floor together after fighting over who was laying in the middle and who got stuck on the outside ends. What I didn’t remember was how incredibly long this movie is or if I might be honest here, how slow the 2nd half is. In fact, we had to watch this movie in 2 sittings because the kids were antsy when we hit the halfway mark. As we watched the 2nd half, I didn’t even remember most of it, leaving me to wonder if, as kids, we always fell asleep before the end.untitled (6)

7. The Blue Lagoon (1980)- Have you seen this one? Brooke Shields. Christopher Atkins. Nudity. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I sat down to watch this one with my then 17ish year old daughter (who was actually Kris). Michael and Andrew were not included in this viewing. If you’re not familiar, you need to find some clips on YouTube. I definitely do not remember the underwater scenes where you see the startlingly clear outline of Christopher Atkin’s quite male physic with nothing left to the imagination. Awkward!! The punchline of this one- to this day Kris maintains that it is one of his all time favorite movies!! Go figure. (I still blush at the thought of Christopher Atkins naked.)

8. Beaches (1988)- I don’t know what I was thinking with this one. It was another Mom and Kerri viewing. I honestly thought Kerri would love Bette Midler’s character- CC Bloom. I really do love this movie. What I didn’t count on was how much Barbara Hershey’s character, Hillary, dying would upset Kerri. To this day, Kris is so mad at me for this movie. I learned my lesson about the importance of spoilers with this one.

9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)- This would be the time I forced my entire family to watch a movie that I myself had not seen in 20+ years and I probably should have reacquainted myself with it before doing so. I did not realize that my husband had not seen the movie. What was he doing while all the rest of us were going to those midnight shows in the early 80’s? Kris and Andrew were teenagers when I decided we should watch it. Michael was not around for this. As I stated in an earlier post, this is highlighted as one of the two most traumatizing times in Andy’s life. I think it still ranks pretty high in my husband’s list too! Kris, in contrast, loved it. And I did too. Live and learn, right?

10. Last but not least, When Harry Met Sally (1989)- I know it probably wasn’t completely appropriate for them but compared to some of the other movies they were subjected to, this one did no harm and they genuinely enjoyed it. They had been seeing bits and pieces for years because like Pride and Prejudice (which I have not forced on them) I insist on watching it when I see it’s on. I had shared the Sharper Image scene with them years ago because they were doing Oklahoma at summer camp and I thought they would get a kick out of it. They did. And they really did like this movie too. What’s not to love? Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are the best together! This is one of my all time favorite movies.


There are so many others- Moonstruck, Dirty Dancing, Pretty in Pink, Sleepless in Seattle….. I would like to think I did more good than harm in making my kids watch these movies. I know I exposed them to bits of the past that they otherwise wouldn’t have encountered. And I see the tradition continuing as Michael recently shared The Brave Little Toaster with CJ for the first time!

Have you “forced” your kids to watch any movies? And if so, what kind of response did you get?