Three days back from vacation and I think we’re finally getting back into routine here. The kids are in school, the mountain of laundry has been washed, dried, AND put away (that deserves a parade all on its own), and I can FINALLY sit down and get some real work done.
It’s not all blog writing and meme sharing, though. My job after our annual vacation is to sift through the even larger mountain of photos taken during it, pick out the cream of the crop, and painstakingly place them, in order, into a photo book that, once it has been completed, my entire family sits down and looks through together. I’ve become the photo book champion, six years running. Or is it seven… Honestly, after the thousands of photos, hours upon hours of tedious work, and years of putting myself through this, I’ve forgotten how many I’ve created.
Am I making this sound fun? Because it’s not fun. Don’t get me wrong, it used to be. To get back from an amazing vacation and to sift through all the photos and relive the experience all over again; to weave the photographs into a story my family can look at and relive for years to come? How would that not be awesome? But awesome turned to stressful. When you take over 200 photos per day on vacation and can’t decide between the one where everyone’s actually looking at the camera and the one where everyone’s smiling and/or doesn’t look like their face is melting (which usually happens to me), the fun part burns up in less than an hour like my skin in the Florida sun and morphs into this hideous hybrid between stress and frustration. And it was hours of that per day, because I’m an obnoxious perfectionist, and just like making sure to document every moment of vacation, I wanted to document every one of those moments perfectly in the book.
I was actually kind of dreading putting together this year’s photobook. Like… really dreading. The kind of dread you feel when you have to go to the gynecologist for your annual pap-smear kind of dread. It’s gotta be done but in no way shape or form do you want to do it.
This morning I sat down and tried to mentally prepare myself to dedicate hours of every day of weeks of my life to this project. I inhaled deeply and opened the first folder which contained day one of our photos so that I could begin going through them to write down the ones I might want to put in the book, start planning out the pages they’ll go on to be sure that I don’t go over the maximum amount allowed, only there weren’t hundreds of photos in it. In fact, there weren’t hundreds of photos in any of the folders. In one of the folders, there were maybe ten photos total. A slight sense of panic washed over me. I hadn’t gone through them while we were in the hotel/on the cruise. Had something gone wrong? Had I lost a bunch of photos? I’d forgotten the cord to offload photos from my camera to my laptop, so we ended up having to remove the SD card and popping it into the laptop and copying them that way, which we’d never done before. Did we do it wrong?
After I calmed myself and thought about it a bit, I realized that the truth was simple: I just didn’t take as many photos. My big DSLR barely ever came out of its bag. Unlike our previous vacations, I didn’t carry it around on my shoulder, and I hadn’t taken the time to stop, take it out, turn it on, tell everyone to wait, and snap a photo as often as I used to. I took more random shots on my phone than anything else.
But what about my photo book? What does this mean for it? I worried momentarily that it would make the photobook shittier if I wasn’t cramming it full of photos of every thing we did, every meal we had, every ride we rode, every step we took. There are more than enough photos to make a great photobook, but there would be things missing. It saddened me, like I’d messed up. I’d screwed everything up by not photographing it so we could look back on it later, but as much as I’d love to have photos of everything, not having the photos doesn’t mean the experiences didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean we didn’t have an amazing time, or do amazing things together. It means that, for once, I stepped out from behind the camera.
If you’ve never thought you spend too much time behind the camera documenting life as it goes on instead of being in front of the camera experiencing it- think about that now. Does it hit home for you? Because it does for me. I didn’t take as many photos because I was having an awesome time. Because I stopped caring so much about having photographic evidence of our vacation, and more about enjoying our vacation.
Thinking back on all the photo books I have from my own childhood- they’re great to have, and I love looking at them, but the memories I remember the most, the ones in the stories I tell my kids, and the ones my family laughs about when we get together, aren’t the ones that have hundreds of photos to prove they happened– like the time we were staying in a really shitty beach bungalow my mom rented, and EVERYONE was mad at her, and somehow I managed to get myself stuck between the crib and the wall and my poor uncle couldn’t get me out for hours because he terrified me– or the time my cousin got mad at me for laughing at her after she got slapped in the face by a fish- YES, SLAPPED IN THE FACE BY A FISH while tubing, and chased me around the yard with a tennis ball, or the time I got so scared on Snow White’s Scary Adventure at Disney Land that I screamed my way through the entire ride. They’re the ones we all experienced together, camera flash or not.
I want stories like that for my kids. Okay, maybe not exactly like those, but you know what I mean. I want to make those kinds of memories that we talk about for years, and while pictures would be great, the pictures don’t make the memories.
What I’m not saying is that documenting your vacations, activities, etc. is bad. I’m sure I’ll find myself doing it again, because I’m insane about my damn photo books. What I AM saying is that every now and then, put the camera down. Maybe even hand it to someone else for a bit. Take it all in. Enjoy it. You may not have photos you can hold in your hands, but I promise you’ll have a story to tell.
Hi all! Currently sitting in a hotel room in Savannah Georgia, a little over halfway to the first destination of my family’s vacation to Disney World. I’m going insane,d my back hurts, my uterus hurts (yeah, uterus has a sense of humor and decided to explode the day we left for this trip) but I’m EXCITED because I LOVE adventures! We’ll be spending 5 days at the Walt Disney World Resort, and 5 days on a Disney Cruise in celebration of my 10 year wedding anniversary (albeit a bit late) and my kids’ 8th & 10th birthdays (albeit a bit early).
This means I won’t be able to post new content here on the blog for the next 11-ish days, but I will be LIVE blogging this entire adventure on my social media accounts, and I’d love to have you there to share the experience with you!
Holdin’ Holden on Twitch (for live streams on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday)
Hope to see y’all there!
I’ve been seeing weird things in my room lately. For four nights (not in a row) I’ve woken up, looked toward my bedroom door, and saw a black mass above it.
My first instinct, as always, is to debunk. Could it be a shadow? Room is pitch black, what would it be a shadow of? Couldn’t find anything that would cast a shadow above the door that would explain this away. Maybe it’s just my eyes trying to see in the dark and failing, my eyes aren’t exactly fantastic and I have shitty night vision. The first night I was convinced it was nothing more than a trick of the eyes and I went back to sleep, but when it showed up AGAIN? I got that creepy skin-crawly feeling you get when something just doesn’t feel quite right. When you feel like something is watching you. Something is in your room that you didn’t invite.
What’d I do? The only thing I could. I pulled the covers up over my head and pretended it wasn’t there.
Let’s just say that my sleep hasn’t been awesome since this little friend began arriving in the overnight hours, but that’s not even the worst of it. Not even the most horrifying of apparitions to appear in my room in the wee hours of the night. There’s something far more sinister. Far more terrifying than a black mass. And I can’t hide under the covers from it, because it’s there, too.
My 7 year old.
Despite my own best interests, I stay up really late after the kids go to bed to get not only shit done that I can’t do while the’re awake, but to get ME time. I needs my me time like my dog needs a fucking breathmint. When I walk upstairs for bed time, it’s not because I’m putting myself to bed at a reasonable time, it’s because I’m exhausted, so the last thing I want to see when I flick on my bedroom light is my kid in my bed, sweating on my pillow. Side note: WHY DO THEIR HEADS SWEAT SO MUCH. IT’S NOT NATURAL.
This is exactly the scene I flicked the light on to last night. Per usual, he was moved back into his bed.
Middle of the night, I am awoken. Not just by the black mass once again hovering above my door, but by a little voice next to the bed. This might sound like the beginning of a really fucking scary horror movie, but it’s not. It’s my damn life. It’s my friggin’ 7 year old, back in my room, wanting to crawl into my bed AGAIN. No nightmare. No storm. No loud noises waking him up. Apparently, he was wheezing too much to sleep in his own bed and he thought he’d sleep better wheezing next to me. How this makes sense, I have no idea. Why was he wheezing? Because he’d spent a solid hour yesterday screaming and crying over having to pick up his own mess.
What is my bed? Narnia? Atlantis? Aladdin’s Magic Carpet? NO! It’s a shitty old bed covered by mediocre memory foam I won in a Christmas gift exchange game when I stole it from my step sister, who is probably still mad at me over it. And it’s queen sized, so space for two people is limited, let alone three.
The kid was never a “bad” sleeper (that’d be his brother)- but it took a long time to get a full night of rest after he was born and to get him 100% out of my bed and into his. While I love cuddles, I thought after a certain age kids weren’t interested in crawling into bed with us anymore. Spend a night with a 7 year old wheezing into your face and still try to claim that’s true.
Just another lie told to parents. Put it up there with “you’ll miss that when they get older” and “the terrible twos are the worst. Once you’re past that, you’ll be fine!”
You’re not getting your bed back. Or your sanity. Or all the hours you were forced to sit through Caillou and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
It’s officially the end of the summer. The kids are bored with basically everything. All of their toys. All of their coloring and painting utensils. Each other. Me. It’s too damn humid to play outside, and we’re all losing our ever-loving minds.
This is the train of logic we seem to go through every day and end up at the same place. Me giving in, and the kids winning out and getting what they want. Call me weak. Call my kids manipulative. I disagree with both. I call me exhausted, and my kids smart. But honestly, everyone kinda wins when you follow the correct path to “fine, let’s watch Netflix.”
Is there anything to play with in the house that interest you?
Is there anything I can send you to clean so you stop complaining about being bored?
Is it a proper temperature outside for me to boot you out the door?
FINE. I GUESS WE’LL WATCH DAWN OF THE CROODS ON NETFLIX.
Don’t go thinking I haven’t employed this tactic on my children in retribution. I can learn from them just as well as they can learn from me. They come to me asking to watch TV when it isn’t their “TV time” (yeah, we have scheduled TV time for them. There’s only so many kiddie cartoons I can watch, y’all.)
Is it YOUR tv time?
Have you played with literally everything else you own and are positive there’s nothing left to do?
Is the temperature outside unbearable?
Okay, have you done the extra chore to earn TV time when it isn’t your TV time?
But it’s still not YOUR TV time?
Okay! Stranger Things it is!
I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get my kids to watch Stranger Things with me. They LOVE Science Fiction. They LOVE spoopy stuff. They LOVE music from the 80’s. I swear they just don’t want to sit down and watch it with me because I want them to, so this is what I gotta do.
What show do YOU use (or do your kids use) mental gymnastics to get someone to watch something on Netflix with you? And more importantly… DOES IT WORK?
In case you need some tips on how to successfully mental gymnastics someone into watching what you want on Netflix, here ya go:
My social media feeds are full of kids posing with bookbags and lunchboxes, about to head back for their first day of school. My kids just got changed out of pajamas because I yelled at them. We still have a few weeks left of summer break, and have yet to take our annual family vacation. One week from today, we hit the road. We used to fly, but it seemed we caught the plague every time we did and the convenience of quick travel wasn’t work four people puking in a car on the way home from the airport.
We stick with road trips. Which means we’re healthier, but we have a lot of free time to fill to keep the “are we there yet?”s at bay.
Now, whether you’re already sending the kids back to the hallowed halls of education, or you’ve still got time left to serve on this summer sentence, eventually, you’re going to find yourselves in a car with kids for a prolonged period of time. I’ve read shitloads of articles on how to “keep kids busy”, and other ones on “fun car games for families”- because why not make something mundane fun if at all possible, but the one common thread I’ve found in these articles is that they are all completely full of shit.
Just telling the parents to take along movies, assortments of snacks, coloring books, and to try playing the ol’ Alphabet game is. not. adequate. It takes us TWO days to get to Disney World (it’d take one if we decided to drive the full 13 in one sitting but HAHAHAHAHAHA HELL NO) and we go every year, if not more than once a year. Trust me when I tell you that these things alone do not work. They will not keep your kids occupied. And for SOME kids, these tips are downright detrimental to everyone’s health & wellbeing.
It’s time we accept that traveling with kids has changed. No, we don’t have teleportation yet, and (at the time of writing) the hyperloop has yet to be given the go-ahead, but long gone are the days where road trips consist of an old Gameboy (if we were lucky) that only lasted an hour, and being able to roam about the oversied minivan freely, taking naps lying down, and car games that took up hours of time. My kids fight over Eye Spy.
Here’s how I arm myself for long car trips (and yes, I consider it arming myself):
I’d say to wish me luck, but I think we could all probably use it. May the force be with all of us.
Best compliment you can give me is to tell me you hope your future kids turn out like mine. I mean, you're lying, but it's a nice compliment
Where you should be spending your Saturday night twitch.tv/holdinholden
How you win at parenting pic.twitter.com/vFxCsfqmh7
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