Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vacationing with Small Children and Medium Sized Dogs

This guest post is a part of a series featuring my amazing and hilarious co-authors of the book "I Just Want to Pee Alone". 

i dont want your life
This guest post is written by my very dear friend whom I have never met named Johi Kokjohn-Wagner. We share a mutual blog love that makes other people feel uncomfortable but I DON'T CARE. I DON'T WANT YOUR LIFE. I love Johi and I don't care who knows it. 

Here's her bio: 

Johi is a writer, an illustrator, a humor blogger, a stay at home mom, a horsewoman and a photographer. She was raised on an Iowa horse ranch, where she was worked like a beefy man. Somehow, in the midst of hay lifting, manure scooping and mud boots, she developed a love of books, art, fashion and design. Johi currently resides in Ft. Collins, Colorado with her husband, their two sons, two naughty dogs, two adorable ponies and one smelly cat. She hopes, one day, to have her very own pink tractor.

When Johi isn't over-sharing on Facebook and Instagram, she writes at Confessions of Corn Fed Girl and is featured in the hilarious anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. She also writes and illustrates for Chrome magazine and illustrated the children's book B. Thomas the Bear's Rocky Mountain Chocolate Adventure

Summertime is vacation time, right? I have foggy memories of taking vacations... sleeping in... eating out... relaxing..... sounds wonderful, right?

My husband Brock got a job working on a rustic little cabin in the mountains. YAY! It happened to be in the same neighborhood as our friend's adorable cabin. Are cabins on the side of a mountain considered a neighborhood or a camp or a cluster? Our friends graciously gave us a key to their cabin a few years ago, so that we could use it whenever we desired. In three years we went once. Once. It is merely one hour away from our house. We vowed to utilize their kind offer this summer and the job was the perfect opportunity to go and stay a while. 

I drew you a picture so you can see the cuteness.
This is as good as it gets when I cartoon from memory.
We decided to pack up six beating hearts (Smelly Cat didn't make the cut) and move up there for a week. Did you all know that we have a 15 month old baby? His name is Thing 2. He recently discovered his Volume 11 shrieking voice and he loathes his Pack-n-Play.

I made it two nights. In that time I got five? hours of very broken sleep. Then I came home and had a meltdown. I'm fine now. *LICKS GLASS*

Here is the Campbell's Soup version of our "vacation" in the quaint cabin in the mountains.

Day 1:

I packed for six straight hours, only stopping for an occasional water break. I arrived late afternoon with the children and my 87 year old Grandmother who was visiting. She watched the children (i.e. we locked them in the cabin) while I unloaded 468 items out of the vehicle. After I spent an hour unpacking and settling in, Grandma and I celebrated our success with a cocktail and made dinner. Brock arrived at dark with Red Dog and Black Dog. Being in a new environment, they were naturally excited (read: cRaZy). After an hour of fetch with Red Dog and a chipmunk scavenger hunt with Black Dog, we all settled in for a good nights sleep.


Everyone was exhausted and tucked into their beds by 9 pm. Grandma and Thing 1 were in the twin beds in the front room. Brock and I were in the double bed with Thing 2's Pack-n-Play at the foot of our bed. The dog beds were on the floor. The relocation of the family and the "equipment" that we need to function on a daily basis had taken its toll on everyone. We were tired. Obviously, Brock started snoring immediately. I laid awake in horror and awe while I listened to the magical hog-like snorting sounds coming out of my handsome husband's mouth. For two hours the chain saw sputtering went on and on and on, and then Thing 2 woke up and shrieked like someone was poking him with tiny hot needles. 

We quieted him with a bottle and everyone attempted to get to sleep.

A few hours go by, and Thing 2 starts wailing again, and screamingand hollering.

Shuffling around in the dark, my husband found him more milk as I frantically searched for his plug. Together we finally pacified him.

Everyone got back into prone position, as just as our eyelids were fluttering blissfully together, we heard:

Crunch crunch crunch crunch  CRUNCH crunch CrUnCh CRUNCH crunch crunchcrunch

Red Dog had decided that sometime around 3 a.m. is the best time to eat her dinner.

Brock removed her bowl and I think we may have slept a bit until I heard a horrible ruckus coming from the floor on my side of the bed. It sounded like a bear was trying to claw his way into the cabin. I looked down and saw Black Dog, who had brilliantly wedged herself under the bed and was frantically clawing her way out.

She succeeded in her escape from the sneaky bed trap, but alarmingly in the process, she woke Thing 2.

Day 2:
Brock and I, in a last ditch effort to let my Grandma and Thing 1 get some sleep, did the unthinkable. We pulled the baby into our bed. We proceeded to lay there for an hour as he gleefully poked our eyeballs, pulled our hair, kicked us and spit on us. I decided that my hour and 26 minutes of sleep was all God was allowing me so I hopped out of bed, grabbed the dog leashes and took the mutts on a hike.

It was a beautiful, crisp mountain morning. When I got far enough from civilization, I unclasped their leashes and let them run so that they would be too tired to annoy us back at the cabin. In true Red Dog fashion, Red Dog circled me 587 times, always staying close and keeping watch over me. In true Black Dog fashion, Black Dog ran out of sight three times, and after I called her name 47 times, she finally came back twice with leg bones from a carcass and the last time covered from head to tail in shit. I believe it was cow shit, but I'm not entirely certain.

I then hiked back to my truck, where I had to manually load black dog into the bed, because everyone knows that princesses don't jump. I put Red Dog in with her, who immediately bailed out over the side, because everyone knows that Red Dogs ride in the front (preferably on a lap). I then drove my special needs troupe back to the cabin, where my children awaited. 

*theme music from Jaws*

Then we tried to put Thing 2 down for his morning nap.

Did you know that he can wail for an entire hour before he wears himself out enough to sleep? I'm frightened, yet impressed by his sheer will.

We ate and I cleaned up and then it was time to feed everyone again and I cleaned up. Then we locked the pooches safely in the little cabin and we took the children to town for a pony ride at my family's stable. 

We  returned to a bloody massacre. Apparently a feeble minded chipmunk decided to enter the cabin, where his death by bored dogs awaited him. You know how dogs like to shake things? Yeah. They did that.
Don't worry Sheryl, I cleaned it.

Scrub scrub scrub. Call me Cinder-fucking-rella.

Then I fixed dinner and we ate and I cleaned up some more. Then we put the kidlets to BED.

Then I watched in horror as Brock tried to peer pressure my 87 year old Grandma into getting hammered (WTF BROCK?), and when she politely declined, he cheerfully set out with the clear intention of getting schnockered himself. I wished I could have joined the party, but all I could picture was a drunk man snoring next to me all night long as I attempted to sleep. The rage was building....
Then we "learned" to play Mexican Train. I put learned in quotations because anyone who knows drunk people, knows they don't remember any games they "learn" when drunk. I know how to play Mexican Train. If you ask Brock, he would tell you that he has never even heard of the game.

Then we went to bed. Amazingly, Brock did not snore (maybe because I threatened to cut him if he did), but I laid awake anyway, knife under my pillow my nerves raw and frazzled from the previous two "vacation" days and hateful in anticipation of the snoring. I slept maybe two broken hours that entire night.

Day 3:

Brains. BRAINS!

We ate and I cleaned up and then it was time to feed everyone again and I cleaned up.

Then we tried to put Thing 2 down for his morning nap.

Did you know that he can wail for an entire hour before he wears himself out enough to sleep? I'm frightened, yet impressed by his sheer will.

Fuck it. I gave up and went home, where my parents took my poor, exhausted Grandma back to Iowa and I had a physical manifestation of the ever present magic that is my life. 
Hello lover Laundry....

Are you considering a vacation with small children and medium sized dogs? Don't do it. Just don't.

(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013


  1. OMG. I mean, O. M. G. The chipmunk. I snorted in a horrified fascination.

    I remember those feelings of "why. why in any universe did I decide this would work?" with vacations and kids. And the WORST? To me, anyway? It's when the Snore-a-saurus husband wakes up the next day and loudly complains about how tired HE is. I start feeling around in the couch cushions for a shiv.

    1. Vacationing is FUN... right? RIGHT?
      This is why I now spend one weekend a summer in that adorable cabin with a girlfriend and a box of wine, while my husband stays home with the kids and pets. It's much more relaxing.

  2. I just laughed so hard I cried. I was not expecting a chipmunk death scene.

    1. I almost always expect a chipmunk death scene.

    2. Ouch. I snorted so hard I was afraid for my eyeballs.

  3. I should not of read this. We are going on "vacation" (read trip) in 2 days. My hubs and I have been trying to psyche ourselves up for the 8+ hour drive with 2 kids under 3 but lets be totally honest. IT WILL SUCK OUR WILLS TO LIVE AND DRIVING WHILE DRINKING IS ILLEGAL. Oh, and we would be bad parents. The cartoons made me laugh though so maybe while I am enjoying episode 301 of Curious George (George is a monkey, he can do things you and I can't do- yeah, like live with the man in the yellow hat who never remembers the shit George got into the last time he was left alone without supervision), I will try my hand at cartoons. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. That was the most hilarious vacation horror story in like....EVER!! I had to copy and paste and send it out to my mommy co-workers. This definately brightened up my morning.

  5. We endured a three-week vacation with our 5-year-old. We survived. This is the best thing I can say about those 3 weeks. By day 2, we were referring to our son as "Satan" or "Demon Child." I do not remember anything from days 2-21 except for tears, with the occasional ice cream cone, just to keep us hoping for better. Upon our return to real life, Satan turned into Angel, and he now routinely tells us how much he loves us and does cute things like color pictures and cuddle. Alas.

  6. That. Was. Hysterical. There are tears running down my cheeks from laughing so hard. Mostly because it was so incredibly true. I'm not laughing AT you, I'm laughing WITH you. :-) I wasn't there, but I've been on that same vacation before with different players (not that different!). The cartoons were awesome. The chipmunk scene was priceless.

  7. Maybe I shouldn't have read this as I am packing to spend 4 days in a cabin in the woods with 7 adults (all from my husband's side of the family), 4 children under 4 and 2 large dogs. My husband doesn't understand why I am not ecstatic about it.

  8. I can totally relate! Our last family vaycay ended with me shouting curse words at everybody in the car on the way home! I almost NEVER swear! This shocked & horrified everyone in the car including the dog:) Overtired, malnourished & overworked, that's what my "vacation" was! Everybody else had a fabulous time away & just couldn't fathom why I was so irritable & cranky?

  9. OMG. And my husband doesn't understand why I don't feel like travelling 7 hours to go up to the cabin this weekend. I have been home approximately 3 weekends this entire summer. My last suitcase IS STILL PACKED from the trip we took LAST weekend. Or, in other words, whatever clean clothes I have are still in that suitcase because everything else in the house is dirty.

    I tried to explain that going to the cabin is, for me, just like moving my responsibilities to the woods with no running water and only 300 sq feet of space. There I cook, clean, wash dishes (with water he thankfully hauls for me) and vacuum. Let us not forget the killing of spiders for screaming daughter, the nightmares she has about mice in her bed (not unwarranted, mind you) and a big, frito-smelling dog who never gets more than 5 feet away from me, unless it's to careen through the woods after wildlife. And then I have to take a 4-wheeler and go find him.

    Then there's the bear who lives over the hill. He is an asshole. Because there is no indoor plumbing means we have no indoor potty. So, a midnight potty trip means traipsing out to the outhouse and possibly encountering said asshole bear.

    Oh. And the big dog? Usually gets car sick. (Thank the heavens for Dramamine.)

    I feel your pain. And thank you for writing this---it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one!

    1. The 2nd paragraph reminded me why, even if we get to where we can afford a boat again, we will have no Thistles or Flying Scots or any other kind of hotrod boat in which you can't really sit down and where you cannot relax for a minute. After a minute the wind shifts and you have to tack, and the skipper yells "Helm hard alee!" and you have to scramble as fast as you can to the other side of the boat, scraping hell out of your shins on the centerboard trunk. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  10. Ah, yes. Vacation with the littles. I have never been brave enough to vacation with pets though, so.... you win. Then again, I've never had to clean up bloody squirrel carcass. So.... maybe I win. I'm not sure why we keep trying to do vacations with our two (currently 3 and 4, respectively). Do we ever get sleep? NO. Do we ever get to do anything without a monstrous tantrum? NO. Do we ever get to drink and pretend we are having a good time? NO (as we don't have the benefit of grandma coming on vacation with us). And still, we persist in having family vacations. I'm entirely convinced at this point that the only reason we do vacations is so that we can get pictures of us looking like a family enjoying themselves so that someday when we are demented we can pretend we had a good time. The end.

    1. I saw something similar on

      when it came to vacationing haha.

  11. I've so far refused to go on any "vacation" that involves doing what I do every day with fewer resources and/or in a place that's too strange for the kids to relax. Hubs was jazzed at the offer to use a cousin's beachfront house until we sat down and faced reality: 4 days of keeping 3 little kids away from breakable antiques, keeping sand out of a spotless house, no restaurants nearby, and having to thoroughly clean before leaving [did I mention spotless?] Seemed more of a recipe for a nervous breakdown than a vacation! We politely declined.

  12. I have no doubt it takes Thing #2 an hour of screaming to fall asleep, actually I'm surprised it only takes 1 hour. And I have to assume it's an allergy to cleaning up and laundry that makes Brock snore so much...? All in all, sounds like a very typical vacation with small kids (and dogs). :)

  13. Yes,I did a round the country trip of a month this summer. Two small children, and a cat from Wichita, KS to St. Louis, MO on my own. Followed by flying to Hawaii from St. Louis with said children on my own then back to St. Louis and another car ride with cat in tow. I was a quivering, twitching mess by the time I was home. Summer "vacations" are "fun" when your spouse is deployed. Ugh. Hilarious story, had me laughing so hard I woke the snore-o-saurus husband.




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