Monday, May 30, 2011

Confession - Moms Just Wanna Have Fun

Confession – Moms Just Wanna Have Fun

This past weekend, the Ferchaws went on a road trip to Las Vegas. We actually stayed at Lake Las Vegas, which is a small resort community about a half hour from the Strip.

On paper, it was a nice family vacation. The suite we stayed in was gorgeous, the weather was nice and the food was great. We spent time by the pool. I had some “me time” in the gym and at the spa getting a pedicure. We journeyed to the Strip twice for an awesome buffet and for the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.

All of that was swell but something deeper kept tugging at my soul. I think it was the siren song of true and pure, good ol’ Vegas debauchery.

I grew up going to Vegas. I considered the midway at Circus Circus my home away from home. Of course, Vegas was a different place back then. Now it isn’t considered a family destination and I get that. But still the city speaks to me and I miss it from time to time.

Last time I was in Vegas, I was seven month pregnant with Lincoln. It was a fun trip with our other couples’ friends but the experience definitely left me unsatisfied. No drinking, no partying, no acting the fool….what is the point?

And even though the whole purpose of this weekend was family time, that same nagging feeling kept pecking at my nervous system. I must have fun. I must have fun. I must have naughty fun.

Yet Friday night, the night we arrived after a six-hour car trip, I found myself falling asleep next to Lincoln at 9pm while listening to the hoot and hollers of the nightlife outside our room. No, I will not be getting down on it with Kool & the Gang tonight I thought.

Saturday was the same. We ventured to the Strip to check out the new City Center. That was just a mistake. The scene at the Cosmopolitan made me feel like the frumpiest granny to ever leave Hicksville. There was T & A as far as the eye could see and I think I was staring at girls’ nalgas more than the straight boys were. I was mesmerized.

And everyone seemed to be having fun. I kept wondering, When did I stop having fun? Did I ever have fun? I cannot remember my youth. Where is my joie de vivre? Where is my foot-long daiquiri?

I hit that buffet hard that evening. This 32-year-old girl put it away with the best of them.

And, again, I was asleep by 9:30 pm with Lincoln and my new food baby growing in my belly.

The next day I hit an all-time low. And it involved, as most of my lows do, a dirty diaper.

Lincoln’s stinky nappies could probably bring down an elephant with their odor. So whenever they occur, we must properly dispose of them somewhere far and isolated from civilization. Unfortunately, at the hotel, this required a walk down the world’s longest hallway, a trip down the elevator and another walk outdoors to the nearest trashcan.

I had avoided this walk of shame all weekend but it was finally my turn to pay my motherly dues.

So I briskly half-run, half-jog to the elevator before the fumes can cause any permanent damage on my nervous system. I walk into the elevator, look up and see a bunch of grown-ups dressed to the nines for their night on the town.

I am holding the world’s most odorous object.

Not knowing what to do, I put it behind my back and walk sideways into the elevator praying they don’t think I just farted because they might just think I’m dying and call an ambulance. They all look at me and politely smile but I cannot even make eye contact. I stare straight down at my pajama pants and my orthotic flip flops and wish the diaper would just finish us all off then and there.

When I returned to the room, I vowed not to spend another night asleep by 10 pm. After the kids went to bed, we gave my mother-in-law our thanks and headed to the newly opened casino in the Lake Las Vegas village.

A band was playing music so Larry and I sat down at the bar and ordered our Tanqueray and tonics. The band played “Black Velvet” which isn’t my usual cup of tea but beggars can’t be choosers.

Five minutes later the song ended, the band said good night, our drinks were consumed and Larry had lost $20 to video poker.

And we were in bed by 11 pm. It was a small victory. Baby steps. We wouldn't want to sprain anything. 

I know that we are parents and this is our current lot in life. But I think I didn’t sow my wild party oats enough in college. The blue hair, the pierced tongue…they were all an elaborate costume with no actual wild side to show for it.

But I am still relatively young and still have life in me people!

There's nothing I can do about it tonight. After another six-hour car ride, we are back in the Orange County. And God knows there ain't nothing wild going on around here. Unless you count the cougar bar down the road. Hmmmm.....

No. It's best that I just plan my triumphant return to Vegas. 

And I am warning the city of Las Vegas right now to be on guard for my triumphant return! It’s gonna get messy! Or something!

Until then…yawn, good night. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Culture - For Your Consideration...

Things have been a little slow around here. Not much to talk about. Not much to do. 

So we created our own fun.

Yes, the fight scene runs a little long but I think it's action-packed. And the image quality not so hot. But you get the point...

And I kept it totally PG. Maybe even G.

I hope you enjoyed our little film! Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Confession - Why I hate America... Ferrera


Help me.


I am in a self-destructive spiral that cannot be broken.

Let me tell you, my friends, that I ate about 2000 calories of food today. This is bad for two reasons.

One, my diet plan only allows me to have 921 calories.

Two, eighty percent of my calories consumed today were made up of puffs…of both the cheese and cream variety.

I do not know what is the matter with me. But these phases come and go. It’s that green-eyed monster again. My inner demon. The fickle and ugly hand of jealousy.

I blame America Ferrera.

And not just her but every great woman out there who has stolen my thunder without even knowing it.

But we’ll start with America Ferrera. She’s cute, she’s Latina and she’s a talented actor. She’s not skinny, she’s not gorgeous but she’s got charm and skills. She has single-handedly taken my niche in the show business world. I could’ve been her if I had put down the puffs and applied myself….maybe.

Then there’s Bethenny Frankel. That rich bitch stole my money. She didn’t steal my idea but definitely the $100 million that should’ve been mine because I wished for that shit on a star when I was 10 years old. Dreams don’t come true, children. Lesson learned.

And don’t get me started on that lady who backed into a parking space today. Why can’t I figure out how to maneuver an SUV with such grace and class? I hate all people who back their cars into parking spots instead of just driving in head-first. They are arrogant show-offs and I hock a metaphorical loogie in their general direction.

I shouldn’t envy people. I especially shouldn’t wish ill upon my sisters. I should support them and applaud them for their success.


I’m trying.

I’m trying really hard.

No good thoughts yet.

Wait…I feel something bubbling to the surface.

God, I hate Angelina Jolie.

Do you know why? I mean, aside from the money and the beauty, she’s one of those motherly types who could have a million children from a million different countries and they will all share one giant bed and come out well-adjusted and kind and generous and close.

I have two and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about shoving one in the dryer for just 10 minutes.

I wouldn’t turn the dryer on, people.

I mean, I would never ever, in a million trillion years, put my child in a dryer.

It’s a metaphor. Just like the loogie.

Ok, back to working on that positive thought.

I hate Stephenie Meyer. She wrote my books. I swear I had those vampire dreams a million times. I just never wrote them down. But they were there. And now she’s got millions and I have to find something unique to write about which also makes me kind of hate Tina Fey now too.

Just kidding. Who could ever hate Tina Fey? She’s amazing.

But I do strongly dislike Jennifer Hudson. She’s thin now, don’t you know?

There’s gotta be something down deep that pure and good. Maybe I should meditate on it…whilst watching Sister Wives.

All the effort is making me slightly nauseated. And, no, it isn’t because of all the puffs. I’m nauseated from trying to be nice.

You know. I’ve worked hard enough for one day.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

I hate Sandra Bullock.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obsession - Scrabble

While camping with our friends a couple weeks back, I was reintroduced to Scrabble.

Not a good idea.

I’ve avoided playing Scrabble for many years because I thought I wouldn’t be any good at it. I thought it would be like bowling, just another forum for public embarrassment.

But then I thought, Who cares if people judge me and think me mentally challenged? Actually I thought, I was really good at Maya's word scrambles the other day. I may actually be decent at this. People will not laugh. They will be amazed at my natural ability and cower when I enter the room.

And, as it so turns out, I was decent. I almost won except Larry ran out of tiles and he got all our leftover points and that put him over the top. That lousy cheater. So I became bitter and driven to improve.

A week later, on Mother’s Day, I broke out our Scrabble set and played my brother. Again, I lost. I became even more bitter and now a little crazy obsessed. Ok...a lot crazy obsessed.

I started playing online. And that’s when all the trouble started.

Hours upon hours were now devoted to this game. I ignored laundry, chores, my husband, my children. I could not put the damn iPad down. It was a new virus to invade our household. One that could not be cured without a little bloodshed.

And even while I honed my skills against the computer, my best friend Elise was kicking my ass on Facebook. The first time this happened I found it unacceptable and I forfeited.

But apparently forfeiting is unacceptable in polite Scrabble circles, so I was forced to play her again and she is currently kicking my ass a second time. 

Finally, on my father’s birthday this past Sunday, I challenged my brother to a rematch. And, finally, praise the Lord, finally, I was the one doing the ass whooping.

And now, my friends, I shall retire. But not without learning a few important life lessons... 

  1. Scrabble is sent to us from the devil Lucifer.
  2. You don’t need a large vocabulary to play Scrabble. You just need to be able to memorize all two-letter words in existence. And all words that begin with Q that don’t need a U.
  3. Your children will suffer if you forsake them for Scrabble. I think Maya lost a couple pounds from both hunger and transferred anxiety. 
  4. If you play a stranger on Facebook, it’s not like He will not want to date you for your superior intellect. In fact, if you are beating him, Jeremy D. will just stop playing the game.
  5. It would be more helpful for me to pursue any other addiction besides Scrabble. I’m thinking of taking up an addiction to the drug speed instead. It will help me be a more productive, skinnier wife and mother.
  6. Scrabble is sent to us from the devil. (I feel this bears repeating.)
  7. Scrabble points are not like money. They will not impress anyone in Orange County.
  8. It’s ok to lose in Scrabble to anyone and everyone but your brother. Because friends and, sometimes, husbands come and go. But a brother will never let you live that shit down.
  9. Apparently “quo” is not a word but “qat” is. That’s some fucked up shit right there.
  10. You can retire from Scrabble and then pick it up again some day. Like Celine or Cher, I plan to rise from the ashes and shame all those who have once shamed me. Just you wait bitches!

So, when I finally put the iPad down for an hour, I decided I would return to the land of good, nurturing mothers and set up a nice artsy project for my kiddos.  It’s called Sidewalk Painting.

I saw this on the blog Pink and Green Mama and I would recommend it as a highly effective way to keep the kids creative and busy.

Basically you mix cornstarch, food coloring and a little water in muffin tins. Then you give the kids some paintbrushes and let them go to town.

I would call him my little Jackson Pollock but I'm pretty sure Pollock never tried to eat the paint.

I’m telling you, my house was much happier today. And I’m sure it will be even happier tomorrow when the speed really kicks in.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Culture - What is Art?

My brain is fried tonight.

After watching 90 minutes of Real Housewives of New Jersey, I don't even know what is what anymore.

But that shit was awesome.

Halfway through an Italian family riot at a baby's christening party, I paused the show and turned to Larry.

"This is amazing," I declared. "This is cultural studies at work. Where does this happen in our Orange County world? It doesn't. But here we are witnessing this insanity we cannot even comprehend."

After attending grad school and getting a Masters in "performance studies," I find culture and art everywhere I look.

So I started thinking about art, high art vs. low art and I remembered a piece from our visit to Paris' Centre Pompidou....

Paola Pivi
Untitled (donkey)
Photographic print, aluminium, frame / Photographie couleur, aluminium, cadre 
Where does this fit in?

Can someone please explain this to me?

I mean, I love it.

But how is it "art"?

My brain is fried.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cooking - Oreo Pops and A Study in Patience

This week was Teacher Appreciation Week at Maya’s school. Since I was assigned snack duty for today, I had to put my dad’s birthday week aside for a couple hours and concentrate on someone else. Being a principal and all, he’s expected to understand.

(But I’m sure he doesn’t and is demanding his fair share at this very moment. Place this quote: “All I want is my fair share. All I want is what’s coming to me.” My father says it often.)

Anyways, my friend made a cute version of those oh-so-popular cake pops for her teacher appreciation treat at her son’s school. I was totally inspired.

And then I was immediately overwhelmed.

So I opted to do the lazy mom version of the cake pops. I call them Oreo pops. I skipped the whole damned cake baking process and just stuck an f-ing Oreo on an f-ing stick.

And even that was a lot of work…for me, that is.

You see, after you dip the Oreo into melted red candy, you must stand there and wait… and wait… and wait while the excess drips back into the bowl. It takes forever. And I’ve never been good at waiting. Just ask poor Maya.


I made these infamous cake pops for Maya’s fourth birthday and I nearly slit my wrists halfway through the 10-step process. First you bake a cake. You wait for it to cool. You mix it with frosting. You shape them into balls. You freeze the balls. You make the pops. You candy-coat the pops….I mean it goes on and on.

And then you eat the devil turds in two bites. It’s a masochistic ritual.

Drip….dripety drip…..drip drip dip.

Adding insult to injury, in the middle of my construction phase, Lincoln starts kicking off. He’s pushing me and crying and demanding I hold him.  So I try ignoring him (after screaming “Stop it!” forty times doesn’t work.)

Message received. And he has one of his own.

He pulls out his little wee-wee and pees on my feet.

Drip….drip…..splash on my bare feet and hardwood floor.

After Larry unemotionally cleans up the piss (like one cleans up after a puppy), he whisks the lad upstairs so I can finish the pops in semi-peace. Not complete peace because I can still hear the banshee wailing upstairs. And there’s no mental rest either because the anxiety has kicked in. Will they look ok? Will they taste ok? Can I finish in time to read stories? Will I mess this one up? Will Lincoln stop screaming? I’m a trembling mess over the bowl. But it’s helping the candy drip a little faster.


I decide I’m done with patience and start shaking that shit. I vigorously shake and shake. I shake it like I wanted to shake Lincoln after he peed on me. I shake it like I wanted to shake Maya when she wouldn’t eat her dinner. And I shake it like I wanted to shake Larry when he was 10 minutes late getting home.

And then that little bitch fell off the stick.

Back to the drip…..drip……………………………………….drip dip.

I’m wondering why I’m even doing this. Reminiscent of the paper flower project, I begin questioning the meaning of motherhood and life. Then, I suddenly remember why I find this crap so important.

It’s a flashback to my youth.

One year, when I was in fifth grade at my Catholic grammar school, they were holding a dinner fundraiser and had asked all the kids in my class to bring a flower centerpiece for each table. I don’t know if my mom got the memo or if I had failed to give my mom the memo, but – the morning of the fundraiser – I suddenly remembered that I needed those flowers.

There may or may not have been severe consequences for non-compliance but, if there were, my mom didn’t give a shit. It was my own fault for not telling her in time and there was nothing to be done about it. She was a working mother who had to help put dinner on the table and did not have time to spare.

Overachiever that I was, doing nothing was completely unacceptable to me. I had to bring in some flowers. What was I going to do?

Panicked, broke and without a driver’s license or car of my own, I made a quick decision.  I ran to my yard, grabbed the first flowers I saw, yanked them from the ground and shoved them in an old flowerpot.

It wasn’t pretty but it was something to turn in to my less-than-warm fifth grade teacher Ms. Villalobos.

My mom said nothing. She let me go about my business on my own. I took this as a good sign.

When I got to school, I handed my teacher the flowers and I’ll never forget the look on her face.

It was pure disgust.

“These are not flowers! These are weeds! Where did you get weeds? Why did you bring them to school? Did you not understand? Take these away!”

I was horrified. I didn’t know they were weeds. They were just flowers to me. I stared at the dirty, raggedy mess in my hands long and hard before I threw the whole thing in the trash. I vowed that I would never again forget the difference between a flower and a weed.

The rest of my fifth grade was a blur of humiliation and self-loathing. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic but I’m telling you that day will never leave my memory.

And because of that day, I will never let my daughter or my son go to school with anything less than tulips or roses or adorable f-ing Oreo pops.

I’ve got real issues people. I know this.


When the pops are finally finished, I admire my art, my patience and my exercise in crafty mediocrity.

I feel a brief tinge of joy in my heart and revel in the warmness that seems to dim all evidence of toddler screeching.

I’m in my happy place. I hold this new moment up there with the other greatest times of my life. When I got married. When Maya was born. When Lincoln came home from CHOC’s NICU. When I found that extra French fry under my sandwich at Chili’s.

I smile, wipe that missed droplet of pee-pee off my leg and go to bed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Culture - EZ Playlist

I hope you don't think I'm phoning it in with this blog post but I felt that I had to share some writing from my past. 

This week is what my father calls his "birthday week." He can't have one day a year. No no. He must have a whole week. So, I'm gonna give him this week on my blog to honor that yearly ritual. And today's post, much like him, is an oldie but a goodie. 

When I was a music writer for the UCLA Daily Bruin, I had a regular column where I'd spout my opinions on music. Usually, like this blog, they were funny little bits of me without any real substance. But I think maybe 10 people enjoyed reading them. Or five people, if you don't count me, my parents, my roommate and my editor. 

One week I decided to write about my dad. His love of music has always motivated me in odd ways. When I played the piano, he would listen fondly from his recliner in the den...and howl like dog every time I played the wrong note. 

And he made it a point of always keeping his music listening tastes both classic and current. So, when we would get into debates about Beck or Marilyn Manson, I would be both amused and annoyed that he some times knew more than me about the subject. I would never admit that, however.

Once, my music editor and I found some of his mixed tapes in the glove compartment of my Honda Accord. They were labeled "EZ Best I" and "EZ Best II" and so on for EZ Best III-IX. 

Recently, Larry and I were driving his car and found similar playlists on his iPod - "Super" and "Super Plus." I can't even tell you the kind of music that he had on those playlists because I do not recognize 80% of the artists names in his library. But I couldn't stop laughing at the variety of those I could identify which even included Idina Menzel and Crystal Bowersox. 

That's my father. Random and funny yet surprisingly complex and cultured. 

So here's the column I wrote about him more than 12 years ago. And it will serve to show that some things never change.

(God I'm old. I'm going to go cry in a corner now.)

On subject of music criticism, father believes he knows best

Tuesday, December 1, 1998

On subject of music criticism, father believes he knows best
COLUMN: Dad promotes interest in talents of Ice Cube, Marilyn Manson
This Thanksgiving break my father gave me a lot to be grateful for. Actually, besides turkey and yams I was forced to digest a whole lot of old-timer goodies from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles. All of a sudden everyone, including my dear old dad, has joined the mission to make a true musical connoisseur out of Michelle.
Let's see if I learned anything.
My father, Edward Zubiate, thinks he is truly hip. A middle school assistant principal, he walks around very tough-like behind dark sunglasses intimidating all the 12-year-olds that cross his path. He prides himself on being a fan of Tupac Shakur, but this weekend, he went too far. Unfortunately for him, I'm beginning to see music through my own eyes, and he doesn't like it one bit.
All my life I have been taught to love the basic B's: The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Bob. (As in Dylan, not Marley. No matter how hard I try, I will never appreciate reggae.) I used to choreograph cute little skits in my little bathing suit holding a beach towel while The Beach Boys sang "California Girls." So I am proud to say that I do love some classic music (meaning pre-1990s.)
But my father has never been a consistent fella. His musical tastes vary as much as the other fads he gets into, such as cheese popcorn and sunflower seeds. As well as hanging onto the stuff from his youth, he frequently ventures into the land of the present to turn on the radio and impress us all with his knowledge of 92.3 The Beat. Ever since I joined the Daily Bruin, every weekend has become a battle where he reads my clips from the week and gives his own criticism and interpretation. My own is not good enough. I'm just a punk kid.
Once in a while I'll bring my father something I think he, as an old man, will appreciate. Seeing as he likes the blues, I brought home some Johnny Lang. Score one for me, he ate it up in an instant. Recently I played Beck's "Mutations" for him because many of the songs sound very, very Beatle-ish. This was not a pretty car ride home. Bored and uninspired he announced to everyone, "I know a star when I hear one and this one, my daughter, will never amount to anyone."
"Uhhh...too late, Dad. Beck's last album was a huge hit, and his sound has been described as the future of music. This album alone has already been given great reviews, and the melodies are truly moving."
"Sorry," he says. "I know good music when I hear it." So speaks the voice of God.
And of all the things for my father to instantly love: Marilyn Manson. It's kinda embarrassing when you live in a neighborhood of old folks and your father is blasting "Dope Show" louder than you've ever been allowed to blast any sort of music your entire life.
My father is filled with these little quirks. On a trip to Vegas, my old editor, Mike Prevatt, opened up the glove compartment to find a stash of tapes belonging to my father from when he used to own the car. To the amusement of everyone present, a majority of these tapes are labeled "EZ Best: Volumes I-VIII." I will never hear the end of it. Every once in a while, Mike will now suggest something my dad will like and add, "Hey, maybe it can be another EZ Best!"
But my father has good intentions. If it weren't for him I probably wouldn't be a music writer now. I would be laughed out of the office if I never had heard of Jimi Hendrix, and no one would bother to read my work if I didn't have a little bit of knowledge of the blues, swing and classic rock.
It is kinda cute when he quotes Ice Cube. Who wouldn't laugh when a chubby little Mexican man whispers in your ear War's line: "The world is a ghetto"? It is also pretty sweet when he invites me to look up at the stars with him while Sinatra croons ballads of love and good times.
Because of my dad, I've been forced to hear all kinds of music and love it. He took me to see "Phantom of the Opera" the first and second time. He sat me in front of "West Side Story," and a love for musicals bloomed.
He loves music more than almost anyone I've ever met. When I ask him the moment at which he was most proud of me, in a second he will say when I sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" for him my senior year of high school.
Despite the fact that he calls all my records "bubble gum" music and refuses to ever let me have control of the radio in the car, he supports me when I write something he can relate to and brags about me to all he knows.
Dads are funny that way. Even though you argue about everything from clothes to politics, you can always find a common ground. Unfortunately in this case, the common ground is Marilyn Manson. What is the world coming to?
Michelle Zubiate 

© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Confession - My Mama Told Me

My mama told me...

  1. It isn’t important to remember the actual names of books, movies or songs. Patrick Swayze’s “City of Joy” could have just as easily been “Joy to the City.”
  2. If you’re sick (and this goes for any ailment including stomach aches, colds and bug bites), drink water and sit on the toilet. That is all.
  3. Don’t let a hospitalizing case of E. coli keep you from living your life on your own terms. If you want to eat that day old burrito that’s been sitting in a hot car for hours and hours, you do it! Carpe diem!
  4. Side dishes are never a necessity.
  5. And if someone doesn’t like the food you’ve made, they can eat shit. (This one is multi-generational, passed down from my dear grandmother.)
  6. Never apologize or explain your irrational dislikes whether they be for McDonald’s or Calista Flockhart.
  7. Speed is overrated. You only need to ride your bike fast enough to stay upright.
  8. The same truth holds for both salads and eggs – the more in them, the better.
  9. There is never a need for the air conditioner or the heater. Wear a sweater or open a window, dammit.
  10. Wrapping birthday presents for others is completely optional. And, if your children really want to be surprised by their gifts, they should know better than to look in the hall closet. Otherwise, it’s their own fault.
  11. Naps are vital to one's happiness - even at 7:30 pm. 
  12. It’s ok to be a little cheap with your money as long as you aren’t cheap with your love.

I will never have my mom’s level of patience, her kindness or her generosity of care. But, because of her, I will have more than was ever possible without her.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Ma and to all the mamas out there!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Obsession - Camping

The Ferchaws went camping this past weekend. It was an adventure for sure.

Larry has never really camped before he met me. His idea of camping was staying at a Best Western.

I’ve been camping since I was a tiny baby but have no memories of tent camping. I’ve been in an RV across the country and back a couple times. With my parents, I saw 48 of the 50 states and many parts of Canada. I always loved it and want the same experiences for my own little dirtballs.

So last year, when my friend Arlene invited us to join her family tent camping, we nervously held our breath and jumped right in. We survived and enjoyed immersing ourselves in the great outdoors.

But this trip felt different. Alongside the rush to prepare for three days without Real Housewives, I had this nervous dialogue running through my head. Questions popped in and out while I made lists, cooked chili and packed underwear. I was scared of some of the answers.

But now that we have returned, I find that all is right with the world. Osama Bin Laden is dead and I have not one but two episodes of Housewives to watch on DVR! And I have some answers to those burning questions…

Can I go three days without showering? I can and I did and my hair will never be the same.

Will Larry still love me after not showering for three days? He does but I think all bets are off after day three.

If confronted with a snake, a spider or even a mosquito, will I really protect my children or will I run and save myself? Lucky for us all, this question was never put to the test.

I’ve always RV camped. Am I really a tent camper? I need to be honest here. On Night Two I wasn’t so sure. The temperature that night dipped into the 30s and I thought I was going to D-I-E. As I lie there awake, listening to the raccoons enjoy their Cheerio and Goldfish feast outside our tent, I wondered what the signs of hypothermia were. I considered checking into the Bates motel next to the campground but was afraid of rabid raccoons.

Have I packed my diet pills? I did but forgot to take them 80% of the time. But luckily the amount of work my body had to do to stay warm probably burned a lot of calories. I didn’t gain any weight.

Is my math sound? 1 diaper an hour x 24 hours x 3 days = We will no longer have room for my 5 pillows. I discovered that diapers can effectively double as pillows.

How much dirt can a child consume before you have crossed the line into child endangerment? Apparently, quite a lot. Lincoln’s dirt to food ratio was probably 1:1.

Is all this packing really worth the freakin’ trouble? YES! Despite the cold and the raccoon-snake-spider-mosquito-phobia, I loved seeing my family connect without televisions, phones or computers around. We went with a great group of friends who love to eat, play and laugh as much as we do. And we taught our kids how important these moments outdoors really are in life.

I love the Grass Stain Guru’s Play Bill of Rights and will soon make one of my own. Here is hers if you too would like to be inspired to get your kids outside:

I have the right to:
Unplug at least an hour a day and do something that makes me happy;
Walk barefoot and not care about how dirty my feet are;
Walk in the woods and forget everything and everyone and just enjoy the sounds of nature;
Giggle and clap my hands at the new crop of baby ducks each year, and generally act like a 5 year-old; and
Think that nothing tastes better than an orange popsicle eaten while sitting in the shade of a favorite tree on a hot summer day.

What it boils down to is this: I have the right to LIVE. To play, and laugh, and leave the dishes in the sink sometimes — and so do you.