I always hated people who returned from a long, glorious time away from the office and whined about needing a vacation from the vacation. I think they’re the same people who smirk, “half day?” when you leave at 5:30.

And yet, it’s kind of how I feel after getting home from Vermont.

Or Gramont, as the kids call it.

Admittedly Nate and I were about 10% worried about how we might all get along–three families together in one huge beautiful house, bonded mainly by the fact that our daughters were kindergarten friends and that we all thought it would be a good idea to drunk bid on the house at our school auction.

6 adults, 6 kids, 8 bedrooms, 7 gorgeous sunsets, and 1 ginormous tray of cheese grits that fed us for an entire week. Turns out, not much to complain about.

Except that (and here I whisper) I’m tired.

We went from circus to 4th of July parade. Cooked out, camped out, threw a birthday party for Thalia in a blackout. We watched the girls make their own little parade, complete with candy throwing, which we now know is the most important part.

We spent hours in the car without ever putting on a DVD, leaving room for counting cows and license plates. We toured the Ben and Jerry’s factory and even jaunted up to Canada for a day to visit what we were told were “fields of lavender,” but turned out to be more like a lavender theme park complete with entry fee and gift shop. Still, it was the best smelling theme park ever in history.

Be assured that along with $120 in soaps and lotions, we did not take home a giant pot of lavender home across the border, because that would be illegal and wrong.

It’s funny, we did so much and yet it all seems to blur together. When I conjure up Vermont, mostly what comes to mind is having time alone with my family, singing in the car, having conversations that don’t get interrupted by telephone calls, and simply watching my little girls become big ones.

We working moms don’t tend to get that many consecutive hours with our families all at once. I don’t get the opportunity to see how they interact with friends every day, which games they make up with them, and who whines when they lose. They have entire sides of themselves that we don’t see. It was a joy to be let in if only briefly. At least when they weren’t whining.

All in all, a week off well worth having.

The girls now know the better part of the Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack and Thalia can tell you with great confidence that the capital of Vermont is Montpelier. (Please look very impressed if she ever does. We promised her it would get a reaction.) They camped out in a tent with Nate one night and learned their first campfire story. They listened avidly to every mysterious legend I could think of, from the Yeti to the Loch Ness Monster, to Area 51.

In fact, Thalia has announced that she wants to grow up to “be the first girl president,” and when she does, she will find out about the aliens and let us know.

We told her that no child whose mother has a blog will ever be president. But keep dreaming those dreams.

They roasted s’mores over the grill, striving to achieve that delicate marshmallow balance between golden brown and unappealingly burnt. They learned way too much about Katy Perry, thanks to one of their friends. And thanks to her brother, they learned the finer points of the original Star Wars trilogy. They learned how to do seat drops on a trampoline. They identified Queen Anne’s Lace on the side of the road. They spotted deer and ravens and beavers.

Also, they learned about capitalism.

Thalia and the other kids invited me outside to their “water stand.” Not even a lemonade stand–just water. I was informed that for one dollar I could have a cup  of water, for two dollars I could have ice in it, and for three dollars I could have “fruit ice.” Fruit ice being ice that sat on top of an ice tray intended to make ice in the shapes of fruits, but didn’t.

For an extra fifty cents we would get to keep the commemorative cup. I stuck with the dollar version.

When I asked Thalia later what she would do with all the profits, she told me she was going to split them equally among everyone who worked for the company including the two year-old who just kept them company.

So I guess I’m glad we took that Ben and Jerry’s tour after all.


19 thoughts on “Gramont”

  1. What a wonderful gift vacation is. What a wonderful gift to the world children are. Sounds amazing. It makes me long for out 8 days in New Hampshire that are just weeks away.

  2. This is an extremely long shard of brilliance. But an example of how family vacations go in our home. Here is A Colleary Christmas – 2009
    Cast of Characters:
    S – Shannon (44): Fairly well-preserved wife/mother/writer/controversial AYSO soccer referee and pseudo intellectual. Prone to occasional bouts of grandiosity.
    M – Michael (49): Almost as well-preserved-if-he’d-just-exfoliate husband/father/writer/Lord of Darkness and daughters’ luchadore nemesis. Prone to occasional bouts of staring wistfully into the middle distance.
    R – Rowan (7): Young Anakin Skywalker in a girl’s body. Constantly testing the limits of her Masters’ patience/willful Padowan/fearsome light-saber dueler and refuser of compliments (especially regarding her beauty; which holds no merit with a Jedi Knight). Also an expert on knowing whether a rock is sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous. Prone to occasional bouts of outrage.
    W – Willa (5): Storyteller/dream weaver/lover of men (that’s you Miles, get rid of that McKenna if you want to reach puberty), prancer/dancer/and vixen. Prone to occasional bouts of self-adoration.
    Setting: 200-square foot breakfast nook where the family eats breakfast, lunch and dinner, often accompanied by their blind, hobbled, deaf, 15-year old dog, Shelby, who is prone to occasional bouts of incontinence, but still able to slide a lamb chop off Willa’s plate without detection.
    ACT ONE:
    The lights come up on tonight’s meal. The children eat with begrimed fingers, Michael swills “his green tea,” (a stimulant) and Shannon “her wine,” (an opiate). Underneath the table Shelby waits. Her lust for red meat unquenched. Her desire implacable.
    Shannon: Okay, okay, okay guys, focus. I’ve gotta write something about what we did this year in a Christmas letter.
    Michael: Rowan, honey, don’t play with your chicken.
    Rowan: Willa’s not eating her chicken.
    Willa: Yes, I am.
    R: She’s not, daddy. She gave it to Shelby.
    M: We’re not talking about Willa.
    W: Yeah, Rowan, we’re not talking about me.
    R: Great. That’s just great. I’m always the one who gets the consequences!
    M: (confused) What are you?…I never gave you a conseque…
    S: Guys, guys, come on! So okay, I’ll write about our trip to Ireland and London since that’s the best thing we did this year. Girls, what was your favorite place we stayed on our trip?
    Rowan sticks a wad of chicken in her mouth, chews, thinking. Shelby watches the meat poking out of Rowan’s mouth. Will it drop?
    W: This is kind of boring, I want to talk about what Miles said when I asked him to marry me.
    S: We’re just going to talk about the trip for a minute, okay? So did you like the little cottage in Sligo, with the grassy path to the craggy beach, and the ivy crawling all over the manor home? Or maybe the little hotel in Ballyliffin where we met all of granny’s first cousins…?
    W: I have three cousins in Ireland.
    S: That’s right, honey, you do.
    W: The boy one in Dublin was mean!
    S: He was three!
    R: I hated all the eating at restaurants. And the cemeteries.
    S: You liked the cemeteries! You made us stop at the cemeteries…
    R: (outraged) But, we went to a million cemeteries!
    S: Your ancestors were buried there!
    W: Did you know lots of good words start with a “W?” “Wonderful, woman …”
    M: “Willa!”
    R: “Wookie!”
    S: Okay, so did you like the B&B in Dublin, where you girls got your own bathroom? Or maybe our basement flat in London?
    W: I liked the airport hotel.
    R: Yeah, that was my favorite.
    S: Your favorite hotel was the Sheraton Skyline hotel at Heathrow?
    R: It had a swimming pool!
    W: And room service! I looove room service! Holla!
    S: Okay, but what was your favorite thing that we did? Seeing the duel at the Tower of London? (to husband) A little help here, please.
    M: What?
    S: What else did we do?
    M: Oh, yeah, yeah. Umm….
    S: (impatient) Going up in the London Eye and seeing the entire city at sunset? Having a light saber battle at Parks Castle? Or…or…or…the birds of prey show, with the bald eagle? Horseback riding on the Sligo beach? Rowan’s horse was Lady, Willa’s was Leprechaun, daddy’s was Jippy and mommy’s was Lollipop.
    R: Yeah, that stuff was okay.
    W: The whole place smelled like poop. I liked it when we went to McDonald’s!
    R: And when we had Rowan-and-Willa Day and we got to go see a movie.
    M: “Bandslam” wasn’t bad.
    W: Gabriella was in it!
    S: (to husband, accusatorily) We could have stayed home and surfed the Disney channel while cramming down Happy Meals.
    M: Honey, turn around and crawl toward the light.
    R: I liked the Coke we got on the airplane.
    W: And they gave us the can!
    M: Mommy loved going to the Boden store.
    S: (sighing) The Mother Ship.
    R: And mommy you said a lot of bad words on the trip.
    S: I did not!
    R: You still owe me a dollar and fifty cents!
    S: All I said was “Arse” and that’s not a bad word.
    R: It’s a bad word in Ireland. It’s the “A” word in Ireland.
    S: (to husband as a diversionary tactic) What was your favorite memory, Michael?
    M: Whatever yours is, honey.
    S: And they say women are smarter than men.
    M: Yes, dear.
    W: Did you know lots of good words start with the “F” word?
    R: Oh my gosh, Willa! Mommy, give her a consequence!
    S: I think she means the letter F, not the F word.
    W: Holla!
    M: I know some words that start with F. “Friend.” “Friday.”
    R: (big laugh) “Fart!”
    W: “Family.”
    And just like that. Magic. The characters freeze, and we hold on this tableau of communion. Shelby, however, remains mobile. As she pillages the dinner table unmolested, the lights dim and finally we…

  3. What a great vacation.
    We will be in that area on October, to see the famous foliage.
    And yes, spend some long consecutive hours with my family. Can’t wait. 🙂

  4. Sounds like you had a fabulous vacation! I love the fact that they made a water stand and actually made money. What’s even better is that she wanted to split the profits! Sounds like you have some pretty amazing kids!

  5. You are so eloquent! I’ve been anxiously awaiting fall when my youngest (who is just a few weeks younger than Thalia – I never realized that before) will go to kindergarten and I can go back to work. I have totally appreciated being able to stay home the last several years but I also really miss working and I can’t wait to get back to it. I know that I will miss this too… and you explained exactly why. “We working moms don’t tend to get that many consecutive hours with our families all at once.” Sigh. I’m glad you drunk bidded – it sounds like it was a dream.

  6. Love the water sales, very entrepreneurial. And vacations with kids are a different animal, aren’t they? I AM one of those people who complain about the vacation from the vacation. I never actually get one.

  7. What flavor was in the B&J graveyard that you used to loved?
    Let Thalia know that if she works for B&J she gets 2 free pints a day. 😉

    Sometimes it feels weird to leave this place for the summer, especially after you describe it so perfectly, but I need my weeks by the ocean….

    Hope our vacation is as sweet…and glad you had a good one.

    1. Aw, we didn’t get to stop in the graveyard because a crazy thunderstorm swooped through (thus, the power outage). But I think I need to vote for Rainforest Crunch. Enjoy your trip!

  8. Sounds like an amazing vacation!

    You’re completely right about working moms not seeing their kids for consecutive long periods of time . When I’ve gone to my son (4) friend’s birthday parties I get glimpses of this whole other life that he leads. They gave inside jokes! At 4! That I know nothing about! Crazy.

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