Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Real Deal


I’m not sure when it happened but at some point I stopped being completely real here in this space. Everything I share is 100% authentic but I hold back a lot. I feel so lucky and blessed in so many ways that it seems really shitty to complain about my first world middle class “problems”. I feel like I have to disclaimer everything by acknowledging that I know I have a great life and I shouldn’t complain – so I just mostly quit doing it. My blog used to be a real piece of me. Now? It is cute photos of my kids and occasional recipes with a tiny bit of snarky commentary thrown in. I’ve decided to say screw it. I’m tired of being polite and apologetic.

One morning this week, at the ass crack of dawn, we leave. I am driving the kids 10 hours to Pittsburgh. We are staying a couple of days then leaving for the beach for a week. You notice I don’t say “vacation”. Because let’s be honest, mothers of young children (and maybe older children too – I don’t know, I’m not there yet) don’t get vacations. We basically have to see into the future and pack up everything that any family member might want for the coming 2 weeks. Plus Extra! Exciting! Items! to pass the 10 hour car trip (or in our case 10 hours then 12 hours then 12 hours back and then 10 hours back again). Then we have to try and keep some semblance of a schedule in place so that meltdowns don’t occur every day at 4:12pm while well-meaning relatives feed our children copious amounts of sugar and allow our children to break all of the rules (because they don’t know the rules that keep things from falling apart). While doing all of this, we must wash laundry daily because the kids wear every freaking outfit every freaking day, cook meals, apply sunscreen 337 times a day, and make sure no one has unsupervised access to a body of water (pool or ocean or hot tub – this makes me tense the entire time – I have nightmares so let’s not discuss). All of this while building treasured family memories. THEN when we get home, we have to spend 3 days doing laundry and a week deprogramming the kids by convincing them all previous rules have been reinstated and that they must again learn to entertain themselves because Uncle Pat isn’t here right now to play whammy with you.

None of that screams vacation to me. My idea of a beach vacation is long, quiet walks on the beach and sitting in a beach chair while reading a trashy novel and admiring the waves. A cabana boy bringing me fruity adult beverages would also be nice. Then dinner out somewhere – preferably seafood and cocktails. Maybe a dip in the pool after dinner. Some drinks and card/board games in the evening (shut up, I’m a dork and would rather do that than hit a club).

The girls love these beach trips. They get to spend time with family and have so much fun. I love that and enjoy the time I get to spend with my husband, my girls, and my inlaws. I married into a great family. I’m looking forward to the trip for a lot of reasons. Just don’t try and call it a vacation or I might punch you in the face.

Last year:

posted under Misc.
17 Comments to

“Real Deal”

  1. On July 12th, 2011 at 12:05 am typelittlea Says:

    I will call it a vacation, because it’s more than I’ll get for many years to come. Don’t hit me. Even with the kids I would give me left nut to go to the beach for the week. My last vacation was 2 nights at the Great Wolf Lodge. We might take some day trips to the shore or Sesame Place.

    That said- I understand everything you said, too.

    Have a miserable time on your not-vacation! LOL. Hope you have 9000 house showings while you’re gone!!! 🙂

  2. On July 12th, 2011 at 12:58 am Michelle Smiles Says:

    It won’t be miserable, it will be fun! I guess my point is that vacations are relaxing and thus kind of trip isn’t exactly relaxing

  3. On July 12th, 2011 at 4:31 am Heather Says:

    I definitely know what you mean. We’re taking the kids to the shore this Saturday with another family we are good friends with. Us ladies have asked for one thing – one morning or afternoon on the beach without having to take care of our children. Where we can sit with a nice cool drink, a book and sun ourselves. That will be a mini-vacay.

  4. On July 12th, 2011 at 5:00 am Julie P Says:

    Happy to have the real you back. I so hear you about vacation. Good luck with the car rides, I’m hoping no one gets sick in the car – that is the worst – and I know you know that.

  5. On July 12th, 2011 at 5:48 am mamak Says:

    Love you. Love this post. I feel exactly the same way about “vacations”
    I totally expect it and plan for it. But it sure ain’t relaxing!

  6. On July 12th, 2011 at 7:20 am Zoot Says:

    Donnie tried to get me to plan a “long weekend vacation” around his triathlon in TN last weekend. “It’s Chattanooga! We can go to the aquarium, make a trip out of it!” But the idea made me want to punch myself in the face. Because two small-ish children chasing him around a triathlon course, and then a trip to the aquarium? And other walking type outtings where I inevitably end up carrying some kid on my shoulders and stopping the other one from having a tantrum? WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THIS TO MYSELF?

    So, yeah. I hear you.

    And Kudos for being you.

  7. On July 12th, 2011 at 9:07 am elle Says:

    What I’ve learned in parenting is that our definitions change. Christmas to me is no longer beautifully wrapped matching presents and hours shopping finding the right gift. Christmas is now the look on my son’s face Christmas morning when he sees the unwrapped scooter that I just put out under the tree at 5:00 a.m. because I forgot to put it out the previous night because my brain is totally fried from 3 solid weeks elbow deep in chocolate.

    A vacation to us was never relaxing. It was always a road trip, a camping trip or a trip to somewhere huge (like NY). To us it is an opportunity to step away from regular life and just be a family. When we were in Russia picking up Oleg we commented that it was our first family vacation. We were able to just be as a family. We have an upcoming 2 week road trip. It will certainly not be relaxing (since we are visiting 3 major theme parks), but it will be just us. And that is a vacation.

  8. On July 12th, 2011 at 9:14 am Tonya Says:

    Hubbie would ask “where do you want to go? what do you want to do?” and I would say….”do we have to?” ya, a lot of work and stress..but they usually went better than I imagined they would.

  9. On July 12th, 2011 at 9:48 am debbie Says:

    I’m glad the real you is back : ) It’s funny how we feel like we have to paint this “my life is perfect” world in blogs. Then everyone just walks around feeling like 1) liars and 2) never measuring up (for the readers of the blog).
    I still laugh at your post to the rude woman at that famous coffee shop. I have had several of those experiences lately and everytime it happens, somehow it doesn’t make me so mad because I am laughing inside.
    And I hear ya on the vacation thing. Before we went to Disneyland I had visions of some incredible bonding time with my girls: Lots of love and hugs, hours of swimming in the pool together, relaxing, meeting them on their level, laughing, experiencing the wonders of disney together.
    Not so much.
    This is how deluded I was: I packed a book for myself to read.
    One mommy + 3 and 5 yo at Disney = STRESS
    Yes, we had fun, but I have never been more exhausted in my whole life.
    We do have some really great memories though. Like our trip to the ER in an ambulance and 20 stitches for mommy. That was more fun than riding Dumbo according to my girls.
    Have a safe and wonderful trip. Hopefully it won’t be long before you will all be together again.

  10. On July 12th, 2011 at 10:20 am Sonia in MO Says:

    My mother, my daughter and myself went to Texas last spring, on a 12 hour drive with our newly acquired 2 month old puppy, to visit my brother for a week. Between recovering from a bout of the flu Hannah and I both got four days before we left, attempting potty-training a puppy on the road, cleaning my bachelor brother’s home once we arrived to the point we felt it was habitable (dead scorpions in the bathtub, anyone?), painting his bedrooms and working on projects he had lined up for us, running all over Austin picking up odds and ends, I was exhausted when we returned home. When I recently mentioned I’d love to get away for a few days before Hannah starts school, My mother had the nerve to mention “your vacation to Texas last spring.” I SO get where you are coming from 🙂

  11. On July 12th, 2011 at 11:59 am Laurie Mitchell Says:

    I TOTALLY get it! and mine are 9 and almost 13! And in the summer with my husband being the golf course superintendent at two different golf courses in two different states! (we are very close to Michigan border so they are only 20ish minutes apart), we either don’t go on vacation or I handle the trips all by myself. It is exhausting to pack, drive, entertain, watch, etc.! Ed and I went to Jamaica (alone!) for our 15th anniversary a few years ago. It was the best week ever! 🙂 Hope you have a nice non vacation and that someone (husband or other relative) gives you a few moments to yourself! (We can all dream!) 🙂

  12. On July 12th, 2011 at 12:58 pm Priscilla Says:

    This reminds me of one of my good friends who notes there is a difference between a “visit” and a “vacation”. Visits take place with extended family, when you travel to see them. Vacations happen when you run away somewhere with your spouse or friends – and don’t take your kids!

    The only thing we ever do is visit my folks. Perhaps because M will have nothing to do with me there, even sleeps with my parents, and my mom is ok with me not coming downstairs until noon.

  13. On July 12th, 2011 at 4:53 pm Ani Says:

    I hear you! On our last “vacation” (which included a plane ride to ATL to visit family) I naively bough myself a magazine to read during the flight… What the heck was I thinking???? I was traveling with my 30lbs personal entertainment system on my lap 🙂
    Needless to say, the magazine flew round trip without being opened once!

  14. On July 12th, 2011 at 6:12 pm kimberly Says:

    we go with the family on a trip every year too. it is stressful to pack everything, have rules broken, and add additional duties to the multitude that we already have as mothers, but I do look forward the the trips. I do hate the car rides though. We tend to leave in the middle of the night so that the kids sleep some and the movies help with the rest. I love playing card/board games at night while having a drink after the kids go to bed. It’s tradition on the trips.

  15. On July 12th, 2011 at 6:45 pm heather Says:

    i like the real you!!! 🙂 and good luck on the car trip…hopefully it goes semi-smoothly and your hubs picks up A LOT of extra kid-care-work once you join him in payback for your solo car time!

  16. On July 17th, 2011 at 7:50 pm Ashley Says:

    #1… the south has rubbed off on you more than you thought. I think it is a way of life down here to think what you want but never share them out loud because (FOR SHAME) it might offend someone or seem unappreciative… BLESS THEIR HEARTS!!! =)

    #2… I always tell hubs. It is not a vacation it is a change of location! Cause nothing I do changes and honestly I have more work to do because I am not at home. AND…Heaven help us… Disney is calling our names =)

    #3 Have a great week!

  17. On August 10th, 2011 at 9:06 pm martha Says:

    I am a long time reader and I don’t mind when you want to keep it ‘surface’ and I love it when you let it all hang out.

    Love your photos of the kids and your recipes.

    We just had a ‘vacation’ too We did Florida to Michigan; then stayed with my dad a week; then Michigan to North Carolina (Supposed to be an 11 hour drive and was 14 and a half) Stayed with my inlaws for four days then home back to Florida and we brought our new not quite grown golden retreiver mix Samson.

    My Husband also gave me some ‘alone and rest’ time too. It was good to rest.

    Now it’s back to my real life.