Tag Archives: Yukon XL

The College Drop-Off….


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more bittersweet milestones. Nearly 19 years ago, I could never have fathomed that the day would come when we would be dropping Nick off at college. Seriously, I never even let this kid ride the school bus. But low and behold, our summer came to a screeching halt and there we were; loading up the truck.

I must admit, while Nick was somewhat apathetic, I had great fun treasure hunting; gathering each and every little necessary item (and completely unnecessary items) for life in the dorms. We were tripping over the stuff as it was spilling out of our guestroom, into the hall. I guess I thought if I made his surroundings as comfortable as possible, his room would feel like home; a comfortable bed, a cozy chair, a throw blanket made with love from Amanda, his favorite snacks, even posters duplicated from his bedroom in the form of movies classics like Slap Shot and Caddyshack.

The day we left was complete and total chaos. Before we raced out the door, Nick visited Rick the Barber for a haircut and he set up Skype with my mom, his Nana. While he was out and about, Chuck and I stacked our Yukon XL to the rafters. We had so much stuff, there was scarcely room for our student! Finally, Chuck, Nick and I piled into the car and hit the road. Thankfully, school is only 3 hours away.

On our way, we made a detour so Nick could spend a little time hitting a bucket of balls, chipping and putting. When we finally pulled into the Inn, we were ravenous and ready for our Last Supper; just the three of us. As we settled in for the night, we decided to watch a movie. I wanted to watch Toy Story 3, but Nick said, “There’s no reason for Mom to start crying right now when she has all day tomorrow.” I suppose he had a point. Wedding Crasher’s it was!

Drop off day was an absolute blur with so much to do and so little time. Thankfully, the university had it down to a science; you pulled up, 15 volunteers helped unload your car and brought everything up to Nick’s room. By the time Chuck parked the car, we were unpacking. Thankfully we were alone in Nick’s triple, allowing us time to loft and bunk the beds and get totally organized.

 The rest of our day went by in a flash; unpacking, settling in, meeting the roommates, ID’s, laptop support, checking the mail box, signing up for the work-study program, meeting his mentor group, the convocation ceremony. Suddenly, it was time for Chuck and I to say good bye. Elton John says, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Clearly he’s never said good bye to a beloved child, because that is truly the hardest word. I tried to be brave, but as I held my boy, I wept. Not only do I love Nick, but I really and truly adore him. While I know I should be so excited for all the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for him, I can’t help but mourn the loss of having this bright, funny, talented, amazing kid in our life each and every day.

What surprised me the most was the abruptness of the entire situation. Thursday morning was life as we knew it; I shagged Nick out of bed so he could get to the caddyshack on time, I toasted him a breakfast pastry (breakfast of champions), and laid out a fresh caddy shirt. Friday morning, we packed up the car and by Saturday, we had him moved into his new home away from home. By Sunday….crickets.

I just got off the phone with my Nick and I can’t even begin to tell you how good it was to hear his voice again. Fall break won’t get here soon enough!

More milestones, more dorm living, more new experiences, more absence making the heart grow stronger……

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Stick It! Why All Good Things Must Come To An End….


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….more family milestones. I am so not good at change. I could barely read Who Moved the Cheese, being one of those people that just so happens to like things the way they are. In my head I know that my job as a mother is to raise a family that is well adjusted and independent, but in my heart, I wish we could go back in time and live forever with Nick as a 6th grader and Amanda as a 3rd grader. Those were particularly innocent, sweet and tender years.

Like mother like daughter. When Amanda was four she cried when we sold our old Volvo station wagon in exchange for our Yukon XL, explaining that the station wagon was the only car she had ever known. So you can imagine my surprise when it became apparent last month that Amanda had slowly come to the conclusion that she was no longer “in it to win it” at gymnastics.

 

This is a little girl that has dedicated her entire life to gymnastics for the past decade (and she just turned 15). 20 hours a week, 52 weeks a year she trained. Most days I would find her standing by the car door, her arms crossed, tapping her foot, waiting for me as she’d scold, “Gym starts at 9, Coach doesn’t say get there at 9.” She happily missed play dates and birthday parties to go to the gym. So dedicated was she that she opted out of attending both her 7th grade trip to Springfield and an 8th grade overnight so she wouldn’t miss precious hours in the gym as she prepared for her State and Regional meets. Ever a boastful mom; it paid off. Last year she competed a Yurchenko vault and she was the Illinois State Vault Champion.

 

Gymnastics is a brutal sport. This fall she was treated for a stress fracture in her back; which was the beginning of the end. While wearing her corset, she had all kinds of time to adjust to life as a freshman in high school; football games, friends, sleepovers. She loved it and she should have. Apparently she discovered that an entire world exists outside of the gym, and she wants to experience it. Good for her!

Somebody moved the cheese……..I will certainly mourn the passing of our gymnastics years; the families, the meets, the road trips, the overnights, the Pay-per-view movies in our room, doing her hair (fancy hair is almost as important to gymnastics as it is to beauty pageants, but not quite as weird) and all the time Amanda and I logged in the car listening to books on tape, jamming to our I-Pods and just talking.  

Though, there is a silver lining. Over the past several weeks, Amanda has been home with us at night. Instead of pulling back the aluminum foil as she takes her supper out of the warming drawer at 8:45pm, all four of us eat dinner together as a family. Nick and Amanda have always been exceptionally close. The very best part is all of the time she’s had to spend with her brother before he heads off to college in the fall. Every night Nick takes Amanda with him to work out at the health club. It’s not all lollipops, unicorns and rainbows, I’m sure they nearly come to fisticuffs. They are a very competitive pair. That’s okay. What they’ll have are more memories of all the times they shared together. I can live with that.

More success, more excitement, more living, more memories…….

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Fasten Your Seatbelts….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more student drivers! I’m sorry, but teaching your child how to drive is the single, most terrifying experience of parenthood. Bar none. And now, Amanda has started Drivers Ed…..

 

Nick’s done a pretty good job, though he has had two tickets in two years (both incurred within the same 6 ½ month time frame, however). One for speeding (guilty, dead to rights) and the other for an “improper lane change” (a totally trumped up charge. I think he was stopped because he looks like he’s only 12….. a blessing and a curse.). Unfortunately, these things happen to the best of us. When I was 16, I got my first ticket; no left turn, 4-6 p.m., weekdays. That was in the good old days (for me!) when you didn’t have to tell your parents everything. My friend Kathleen accompanied me on my day in court, where we waited for the only judge we knew; Judge Wopner (at 4:30). I was a moron. It’s a miracle I lived to tell the tale. Thankfully, I’m fairly comfortable with Nick driving away now, but, like his mother, he plays the music way too loud. In the beginning, I wouldn’t let him listen to music at all. The sound of my heart rapidly beating out of my chest was loud enough.

One night, when Nick first got his permit, I let him go through the Portillo’s drive-thru and nearly had a heart attack. After we paid, they asked if we could please pull over to the side to wait for the rest of our order. Ha! The drive-thru sits alongside a ravine and if they thought I was going to allow him to pull over and back up in our enormous Yukon XL, then they were crazy. I said, “No, I’m sorry we can’t. Student driver.” We just sat there, holding up traffic, but it completely beat the alternative, which clearly was driving off into the ravine, potentially needing the assistance of the Jaws of Life to escape with our lives.

There were so many scary moments, like driving down a narrow, two lane street in our Yukon. Seriously, this car is like a small airplane, with plenty of room to move about the cabin. Even the side mirrors are huge. It would always feel like we were dangerously close to either the side of the road…or oncoming traffic. I would chant, “Watch the curb. Watch the curb. WATCH THE CURB!” To which Nick would reply, “I know.” Just so you know, you don’t know, but what you should know is that I think this is giving me a brain aneurism.

The day Nicky got his license, the kids made me drive home from the DMV in the back seat; a very strange and surreal perspective. As soon as we pulled into our driveway, these rascals ejected me from the car, practically ala The Jetson’s, and drove off to have breakfast by themselves. It felt kind of lonely. While they were out, the ran into my friend Linda (not like a Pinky Tuscadero/Malachi Brothers Demolition Derby kind of run in, but a catch up with a friend while you’re out) and she said that they were very sweet and wearing seatbelts. Of course Nick came right home and took Wrigley for a spin so Wrigley would no that Nick, too, was now a bye, bye maker.

It’s impossible to believe that my Amanda is ready to learn how to drive. It was only yesterday that she was learning how to rollerblade, ride a bike and write her name in cursive. My daily duties are becoming obsolete, and I am really going to miss the time we spend together in the car. Fortunately, Amanda won’t be 15 and getting her permit for a few more months, not to mention the fact that it will take forever for her to accumulate 50 driving hours. Until then, I will enjoy more yelling about the curb, more use of the imaginary break, more holding onto the arm rest for dear life and more appreciating being in the moment….

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Fun Girls and the Fighting Irish…


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…….more fun at my first girl’s weekend ever! Sure, over the years Chuck and I have been away for a few days here and there (furniture shopping in North Carolina was my personal favorite, though I am not quite sure Chuck would agree). For years we’ve had to divide and conquer between hockey games, golf tournaments and gymnastics meets. But in 20 years of marriage and 18 years of motherhood, I have never before left my family (not that they wouldn’t have enjoyed a respite).

I guess it’s just that I’ve never viewed my family life as something to take a break from. While I may do an awful lot of hollering, I would have never wanted to miss a single, solitary moment. When my fabulous friend Elena invited me, and a bunch of my favorite girls, up to her lake house for two nights of girl fun, I admit I was hesitant. But I’ve got teenagers now. If Nick isn’t playing golf, skating, or hanging out with the fellas, he’s watching a movie with his girlfriend (lights on in the basement, PLEASE!). Amanda is a busy High School student. She goes to football games, the show or hangs with her girlfriends watching movies and making s’mores at a bonfire. Chuck and I merely provide refreshments or transportation. My people don’t actually need me for that, so I said; YES!!

 

Of course, more of everything is always better…especially luggage! Four girls on a road trip in our Yukon XL (I am even all about more automobile). Duffel bags, hanging bags, tote bags, make up bags, shopping bags and multiple coolers, stacked to the ceiling of the cargo area, spilling out over the third row. It is quite likely that we brought more wine than shoes. I could barely sneak a peak out the rear window. Good thing I practically have a trucking license.

On the agenda upon our arrival; Spa-ing, cocktail-ing, dining, cocktail-ing, girl-talking (even headstand-ing) until the way, wee hours.

 

Saturday it was time to get our game faces on. Even though I scarcely know the difference between a first down and a touch down, I was pretty psyched about the big game. Really, does it get much more exciting than Notre Dame vs. Michigan? There’s nothing like tailgating Fighting Irish style! We had sub after sub after sub from our favorite place, Augustino’s Rock n Roll Deli, and to wash it down…. A little bubbly!    

 

What a game, and the half time show wasn’t bad either. Who knew that the Michigan Marching Band was a Lady GaGa tribute band? Sadly it wasn’t ND’s day, but it certainly was ours, because we squeezed in a little more tailgating fun. After 8 hours on campus it was time to head back to the house and put on our jammies. What better way to end the day than with an appetizer buffet, a glass of wine and a little…Hot Tub Time Machine? (a MUST SEE for anyone that came of age in the 80’s, with the iconic John Cusack).

I must say my first ever girls weekend was a smash hit! What could be better than more time with girlfriends you love, more laughs, more fun and more memories?

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Ride, ride, ride….let ’em ride!


To paraphrase the immortal Rupert Holmes,

“If you like Pino Grigio

And getting caught at the mall

 If you’re not into yoga

If you have half a brain

If you’d like our kids to be asleep by midnight

I can’t stay up much later than that

Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for

Text me and escape…..”

I love to shop. Chuck swears the fluorescent lighting makes his eyeballs itch. Chuck likes to golf. I am so awful that I can shag my own balls back at the driving range. However, one thing that we both love (other than Nick, Amanda, Wrigley, the Cubs and going to the movies) is biking! We’re hardly ready for the Tour de France, but we do a perfectly fine job for amateur weekend riders.  

We rode a quick 20 miles Saturday evening and upon our return, Chuck said, “Hey, I was thinking, why don’t we ride 12 miles towards the river, stop at Starbucks and ride home tomorrow morning?” What a perfect idea! Amanda was at a sleepover and we shoo Nick out the door at 6:50 AM for the Caddy Shack. It’s a date!

Sunday morning comes. I hand Nick a toasted Pop-Tart (brown sugar and cinnamon with frosting….breakfast of champions!), a bottle of water and fulfill his request that I make him a tee-time for 3PM. I clearly have Personal Assistant written all over my forehead. I bounce back upstairs and ask Chuck, “Back to sleep or bike ride?” Bike ride it is.

As I am tying my shoes, Wrigley asks me, “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather take me for a run? I’d really like to go for a run.” He’s normally a very effective and persuasive communicator, but I am really looking forward to our bike ride. 

Water bottles filled. Cell phone, camera (blogging addiction) and money tucked safely into the pouch attached to my handlebars, and we’re ready to go. We’re riding along, chatting and enjoying the day, when all of the sudden my tire goes completely flat. Shoot!

 

We turn our bikes around and make the walk of shame back to the nearest gas station. I run inside to get change for the air hose machine and while I’m there, completely on impulse, I purchase a lottery ticket. If you don’t hear from me the rest of the week, my family and I have flown the coop for an exotic and obscenely over-priced family vacation. More than likely though, you’ll hear from me tomorrow….

Chuck starts putting air in my tire and soon discovers a great big rusty nail. We’re not going to be riding anywhere. It looks like we’re going to have to hoof it home. We grab our bikes and get to walking. The Prairie Path is swarming with mosquitoes, and isn’t really the most direct route home anyway, so we walk along the side of the road; around the bend, along the rails, in the gravel and the muck (leaves of three…leave them be). Chuck wants me to take his bike, ride home and meet him with our Yukon XL, but his bike is really too tall for me. I suggest he just ride home, but he is a gentleman and won’t leave me alone on the side of the road. So, for five miles we walk (and talk and laugh). The last two miles we are close enough to home, so Chuck rides ahead to get the car, while I continue to walk.

 With one mile to go, Chuck and Wrigley pull up along the side of the road and ask if I need a ride. Chuck loads up my bike, and Wrigley says to me, “you know, this would never have happened if you had just taken me for a run…..” How true!  But really, what’s the difference? We talked more, walked more and laughed more. What more could possible matter?

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