Spring Break Blues

Aidan, Eileen and Cousin Finley | Spring Break, 2011

We are the family who returns to school after spring break just as butt-white as the week before. In fact, one year Eileen returned a little green after having the stomach flu during the entire break. The stars have just never aligned for us to escape the Midwest to someplace warm and I am okay with it. My kids don’t seem to mind because they really don’t
expect it.

(Perhaps my only parenting accomplishment: lower the expectations to zilch and your kids will appreciate you for all of 15 seconds if you actually do something indulgent like throw a bag of candy in the shopping cart. However this philosophy backfires if your husband is the Fun One and comes home with Garrett’s cheese popcorn on a regular basis or pays them $5 to do a chore he does not want to do.)

In the past, Tom and I would take a few days off of work and visit some local attractions with the kids or go on a short road trip. This break was different. My brother, his wife and their adorable three-year old son were visiting from Germany. (He met a wonderful German girl at a bar while stationed in Italy and they married.) And my sister would also be in town during a 10-hour layover in Chicago. She was heading back home to Ireland after conference in California. (She met a charming Irish lad at a bar in Chicago and they married.)

And my other sister is dabbling in a relationship with a German fella who lives in Denmark. (They met at a bar in Chicago.) If you are noticing a trend, yes, I met Tom during a pub crawl. He is a country boy, but at least from this country. We are waiting for my other brother to hook up with a Swedish girl. So is he.

Okay, so as you can imagine, my family doesn’t get to see each other as often as we like. My kids have met their cousin Finn only one other time when he was 18 months old.  Still a baby. Now he is such a little person! I really forgot how fun someone else’s three-year old can be and it made me very melancholy. I can barely remember those days with my own kids. (Now eight and ten.) The years fly by much too quickly even when there are long-ass days that never seem to end.

Every time my kids entered the room, the little guy’s eyes lit up. The cousins were inseparable. You would never know that they did not grow up together. Finn understands both English and German, but while he was here, he spoke Germlish. It didn’t matter.

The three amigos played trains, built forts, raced cars, rough-housed, tickled, beat each other with pillows (and dirty socks), ate lots of treats and ran in circles. Literally. When we were teasing Aidan that his feet were stinky, Finn announced that they smelled like a Odelfassel and let out an infectious giggle. It sounded super cute until my brother explained that it was basically a manure (and other nasty animal innards) spreader used by Bavarian farmers. Love this kid!

The last day, the secret society of Grandpa’s Club had an initiation meeting. Finn was introduced to the hidden place where Eileen, Aidan and Grandpa like to meet and play cards. (And probably sneeze a lot since it’s in the attic.) Finn even learned their classified code to get into the club: inserting your pointer finger up your nose and saying, “Shhhhh!”

Grandpa's Secret Society | March, 2011

The worst part of the whole visit was saying goodbye. Fortunately, Finn was smarter than all of us and decided to skip the farewell hugs and kisses. I did not follow his lead and chose the ugly cry complete with snot and smeared eye make-up.

The kids and I headed back home in a complete funk. Aidan begged to be left alone to do nothing but stare at the TV in the basement. Eileen lost herself on a fashion game on the computer and I laid on the couch for five hours, ignoring the million things that needed to get done around the house.

So tomorrow we will be back in school and will hear about everyone’s sunny vacations to Florida and California.

But no one will top our spring break adventures in Finnland.

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  1. Kelly

    Love this! I especially love grandpa who will play in the attic and stick his finger up his nose!! Thank God for bars

  2. Mia

    Sounds perfect!!

  3. marta

    very touching Karen!, I wish my nieces from Spain got to come and spend some time here too. I would trade that for a trip to the FL too.

  4. A Field of Dreams

    Sweet post, but where is the snotty nosed, dribbling eye make up photo? P.S I met my husband at the pub too!

  5. John Powers

    By far my favorite post yet. FANTASTIC.

  6. Amy

    Love this. I feel the same way when I leave my sister’s, and she’s only 6 hrs away. It’s heartbreaking in a sweet way. I know we don’t know each other (but I know Miss Colleen : ) ), but hugs to you.

  7. Karen

    Yes, Grandpa is a piece of work and I do thank God for bars often!

  8. Karen

    Thanks, Marta. Knew you would relate~

  9. Karen

    Thanks, Amy! Both Colleen and I are suffering from Finn withdrawals. Hope you get to see your sister soon~

  10. Maria

    Others may have had better weather, but not such a memorable break!

  11. dooner

    Perhaps you should hit a German bar this week and make your own Finn.

  12. Holly Taylor

    I love the name FInn! My nephew melts my heart also. Espcially because he’s the boy I never had and in this stage (I hate you’s and attitudes) with my girls his trucks and 2 year old temper tanturms are a welcome change!

    Its funny you mention lower your childrens expectations because that is what I just talked with my hubby about the other night. How we need to do just that so they start to appreciate the simple things in life…which are really the best things after all! So I know not the point of your post but I had to comment on it!

  13. Jill


    Love your family, Karen. LOVE.

  14. Karen

    I have also lowered my expectations of just about everything and everybody — that way I am never disappointed. Love being a Simpleton!

  15. Karen

    Danke, but no danke!

  16. Kim Pugliano

    My nephew belongs in the club. His finger stays up his nose 24/7 when it isn’t in his mouth. How you deal with your family being spread all over creation I don’t know. My entire family including 6 cousins, my parents, my sister and family and my grandparents live within 5 miles of me. I miss them.

  17. Ilana @ mommyshorts

    Awww…what a sweet post. With a cherry topper of a picture! I’m going to have to remember that “entry code’ and use it in the future. Sounds like you guys all had a wonderful break. Even if you didn’t leave town.

  18. meg

    What a short and sweet visit, we’re so so lucky! X

  19. Colleen Bernard

    as mastercard says….priceless! Love the grandpa club!!!

  20. Michelle

    That sounds WAY better than being in overcrowded, over priced, (insert Florida town here) with a million other people.

  21. Karen

    Thank you! My poor sister-in-law needs to “unteach” all the mad skillz that Finn learned in the U.S.

  22. Karen

    Yes, it was better than touching other people’s sweat! (But a little bit of sunshine would have been lovely~)

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