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This Is What Happens When Bryan Makes Me Take a Vacation

This Is What Happens When Bryan Makes Me Take a Vacation

I’m currently in Las Vegas.

Sorry, I should have started with a little more pizzaz…

JEN ZUG DOES VEGAS!

(If “does” is code for “reading a book in various locations within a one block square radius,” then that statement is totally accurate).

I might be the least Vegassy person I know, but I am nonetheless enjoying myself, not to mention that when I got here, I saw this guy for the first time in over a week:

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He is here on business as part of the core team at UP Global that is hosting the UP Summit. Holy cow are these people amazing! Over 500 enthusiastic, motivated, smart, and extroverted people from around the globe who are all excited about infecting the world with their startup culture.

The summit started Thursday, so after a few days of lounging around the pool, I’m excited to be learning and connecting with some great people.

Speaking of lounging around the pool…

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After arriving late afternoon on Tuesday, Bryan had a dinner meeting to attend, so I went down to the pool to read my book. All the lounge chairs around the pool were taken, but there was an entire section of empty chairs behind a red chain and I was all, Maybe that chain is just to make sure people fill up the other chairs first – like they sometimes do in church to make everyone sit toward the front – so clearly it’s okay for me to sit here now that they’re all full.

Well, apparently I entered a restricted cabana area. But a kind young security guard with a rather large walkie-talkie said that if I book a day in advance I can get this area for $100 cheaper!

Cheaper than what?? I didn’t ask, because that would have blown my cover as someone who goes to Vegas all the time.

So I apologized for not seeing the chain earlier (when I stepped over it) and moved to a chair in the non-cabana area. At that point I realized the $100-cheaper-than-something price gets you a cool mist spray from above, which the chairs in the regular area don’t have. This is an important detail, mind you, because it was 100 degrees as the sun was setting.

I totally felt like I was sitting third class on the Titanic, about to sink into heat stroke while first class guests are misted with a dewy spray.

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To prevent my nose and the part in my hair from burning in this unrelenting sun, I wanted to bring a hat to Vegas. The trouble is, I don’t have a cute sun hat, nor did I buy one before leaving.

I do that sometimes. I sabotage my intentions by doing absolutely nothing about them.

Here’s a fun experiment. Take a person who is never alone and is terrible at making decisions and drop her off at the airport alone with a backpack and a ticket to Vegas. You know what she might do? She might step into the cutest airport store ever to try on hats for wearing by the pool in her swimsuit, then become paralyzed because do you buy the practical hat you can wear with anything or the fun hat you can only wear by the pool because nothing else in your suitcase will go with orange plaid?

Keep in mind this person agonizes over the purchase of a single pair of shoes every four years or so because that one pair of shoes has to last for at least one Presidential term, be comfortable, and look equally good when worn to the grocery store or “out on the town” (do the kids still say “out on the town” or am I showing my age?) because GOD FORBID this person spend the money to buy situationally specific shoes for herself. At this point the odds are stacked against the fun hat or buying both hats because HELLO: one hat to rule them all until the next presidential election.

To be safe, this person might phone a friend, as it were, by texting pictures of both hats, and this friend might be completely unhelpful by pointing out all the wildly cute things you can wear with the orange plaid hat, causing your utilitarian, depression-era-frugal mind to explode from all the irresponsible ideas being suggested, but when faced with the possibility of what could be, you turn around and walk all the way back down Concourse C to exchange the practical hat for the fun hat, but not before trying them both on again several times, then walking out of the store with the practical hat again, the one you bought in the first place that represents all that is the opposite of dropping a woman off at an airport alone with a ticket to Vegas.

Here’s the hat I ended up with:

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My final lesson learned was the next morning – Wednesday – when went back down to the pool around 11:00.

I’d brought my sunscreen with me and began rubbing it all over my legs, arms, and chest. I’m sure applying sunscreen is a sexy experience for some demographics, but those of us with a lot of surface to cover and minor difficulty with flexibility, it probably looks a little like a giant bear trying to relieve an itch by rubbing up against a tiny tree trunk.

It was not a very flattering experience trying to get sunscreen all the way around my thigh. How else can you do this except by throwing your leg up in the air while rubbing yourself in areas that aren’t normally included in your public appearances?

(YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE VIEW, FELLOW SUNBATHERS!)

If you know of any YouTube instructional videos on how to do this, I’d appreciate a link.

Needless to say, from that point on I applied sunscreen before I left the hotel room.

My vacation awkwardness leads me to consider two action points:

1) I need to go on vacation more often, or

2) I should never be allowed to go on vacation ever again.

Day Trip to Mount Rainier

Day Trip to Mount Rainier

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When I was a kid, probably about Ruthie’s age, my parents took me on a road trip from Minneapolis to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. The most vivid memories I have of that trip are 1) seeing the region’s destruction from recent flooding, and 2) my bad attitude.

In fact, I remember hiking up to the view point to Mount Rushmore, looking at the four faces carved into the side of a rocky mountain, and declaring, “We drove all the way here for THIS?”

Yeah, I was a charmer.

So I suppose it was parenting Karma when Ruthie, who was totally fine during the drive up to the Paradise Visitor Center on Mount Rainier last weekend, suddenly “felt sick” as we got ready to hike one of the trails.

I won’t go into all the details of her bad attitude because public shaming is not my goal here, but it was one of those moments where it was challenging for me to stop trying to control everything and just enjoy myself regardless of how other people decided to act.

And even though she didn’t “recover” enough to pose for a family photo, these moments are easier to deal with now that she’s older, because we can just leave her on the park bench “to die” while the rest of us take in the beauty of mountains and meadows.

It was a beautiful drive, a beautiful hike, and except for a brief mental breakdown when my blood sugar dropped and I was convinced Bryan was a bigger douche bag than Heisenberg, it was a glorious day.

Flickr slide show below:

Riding the Mothership to Dungeness Spit

Riding the Mothership to Dungeness Spit

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Yesterday we rented a Mini from Zipcar and went on a day trip across the water to Sequim. Zipcar names all their vehicles, and it just so happens we rode The Mothership, which added a bit more kick to the adventure.

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I love vacations in bite sized chunks or in extended stay stretches, like day trips and long weekends, or 3-4 week stints. Anything in the middle feels like a cruel joke, because just as I begin to unwind it’s time to pack up and leave.

The only thing that makes me feel even remotely connected to the idea of homeschooling is the ability to travel whenever we want for as long as we want. Like the time we went to California for three weeks and was later scolded by the school district for not asking permission.20130324-143601.jpg

We decided to explore the Dungeness Spit, which is a peninsula of land created by sediment from the nearby eroding bluffs. There are trails to walk above the beach on the bluff, a view point of the entire spit, and beach access ($3 cash for your entire group).

You can also hike out to the lighthouse, which is eleven miles round trip and takes about 4-6 hours. But since some members of my family experienced the gorgeous ocean views like the Griswolds at the Grand Canyon, we did not bother with the hike.

But I did get to experience this…

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…which is all I really wanted anyway.

Our full Flickr set is here. All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Doe Bay Fest… or bust.

Doe Bay Fest… or bust.

Doe Bay Fest 2010 from Decade ii on Vimeo.

I’ve had a helluvatime explaining to my kids where we’re going this weekend.

Every year for the last seven or eight years, we’ve attended a small music festival on Orcas Island. This year that music festival was canceled, but we’re going to another music festival.

On Orcas Island.

So, yeah. My kids are confused.

Thomas especially, but I think that’s only because he doesn’t pay attention when I’m talking to him. I clearly explained how we were going to the same island to see a music festival, but it’s a different campground and a different music festival.

Thomas asked me about 42 questions to clarify what I was saying, and after 10 minutes of me repeating myself he finally goes, “OHHHHHH, so we’re going to the SAME ISLAND but to a DIFFERENT CAMPGROUND.”

See that bald spot on my head? That’s where I pulled all my hair out.

Getting out of Dodge.

Getting out of Dodge.

Sun.

We went camping with friends this weekend, which was the perfect way to wrap up an incredibly busy and stressful June.

Sunrise game of CatanSunrise Game of Catan / Photo by Bryan Zug.

I love the way Bryan loves me, the way he continues to woo me in marriage. He invites me to himself – to follow, to engage.

I’m not a morning person. I love to sleep, and waking up early makes me grouchy. But when the sun is rising over a misty, tree-lined lake and your husband invites you to play Settlers of Catan while everyone else is still sleeping…you’re suddenly very awake and happy.

Sign of a full day.

Of course the kids fell asleep on the way home. Why wouldn’t they? Caked in dirt, cheese puff dust, and slightly dehydrated, they earned a nap.

The Happiest Place on Earth

The Happiest Place on Earth

splash mountain

We went to Disneyland with my brother-in-law’s family our 2nd weekend in California, and I can’t imagine a more perfect experience.

First of all, after a week of temps over 100 degrees, it dropped down to the low 70’s that day. I’m so glad, because you did not want to read that blog post about my sweaty thighs.

The timing was also great since we were there after Halloween but before the Christmas season, so there was hardly any other people. No lines! Splash Mountain was so empty they let us ride it again without even getting out of the boat!

disneyland teacups

This was also a great age to enjoy Disneyland with the kids. They’re at the tail end of 5 and 7 – old enough to endure the day, and young enough to still believe it’s magical.

We had to leave the house at 6:30 to hit the park by 8am, and we stayed until 7pm. My feet were killing me after eleven hours, but for the first time since high school I rode roller coasters! WIN!

disneyland parade

I think the best outcome of the day, though, was turning Ruthie into a fellow roller coaster junkie. She loved them! We rode The Matterhorn first thing at 8:15 and she was hooked! We went on everything together except Space Mountain.

It was such a blast to have a “big kid” with us this time!

(check out her adorable face in the picture below).

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I noticed something about myself while at Disneyland: I was having fun.

I know, right? Who wouldn’t have fun at Disneyland? But I clearly remember our trip three years ago, and I was anxious, self centered, and struggling to enjoy myself.

And here I was – three years later – completely enjoying myself, without agenda, and ready to go with the flow.

“You know what?” I said to Bryan after we got off Thunder Mountain, “It really helps to not be depressed at Disneyland.”

Indeed.

This Kid.

This Kid.

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At LAX for our return flight to Seattle we were herded into a queue that took us to an escalator that led to the security screening on the second floor.

As Thomas boarded the escalator, he didn’t make the turn wide enough for his wheely bag to clear the end, and it got stuck. As he ascended the bag finally cleared, but he didn’t quite have himself situated.

Also, he wasn’t paying attention.

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but he ended up rolling down the escalator steps like he’d just rolled down a grassy slope a few days before.

A quick-witted attendant stopped the escalator, I comforted him and kissed his scrapes, and we headed for the elevator.

Fast forward to our Seattle arrival.

On our way toward baggage claim, we obviously take the elevator this time. As Thomas is getting on the elevator, he turns around to say something to me as he continues to walk backwards.

And I swear I’m not making this up.

He says, “I’m sure glad we’re not taking the escalator this time because I got kinda scared.”

Then he tripped over Ruthie’s bag and flipped over backwards into the elevator.

LAX > SEA

LAX > SEA

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I’ll admit I was a bit of a romantic when I booked our trip to California for three weeks.

I’d just read this article about the Crafton family who spent seven years at sea, and I’d just watched these videos of friends who hiked the Wonderland Trail for twelve days with their four young children.

Both talked about how their experiences brought them closer together as a family, and it made me cocky.

I was all, YEAH! LET’S DO THIS THING!

But three days in to the trip I was reminded that CLEARLY I am not called to homeschool.

We had a great time, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But we are home now, and thankful to be here.

I think Ruthie spoke for both of us when she exclaimed on the flight home: “I’M SO EXCITED TO GO TO SCHOOL TOMORROW!”

Poolside

Poolside

poolside

I’ve spent the better part of the last three days at the pool in my brother’s neighborhood.

Ruthie’s finally tall enough to stand in the shallow end, and Thomas won’t leave the steps, which means I get an easy afternoon to watch the clouds float by.

Oh wait – California doesn’t have any clouds.

Haha! Yes, that was especially for you, Seattle.

Zug-O-Lanterns

Zug-O-Lanterns

thomas' pumpkin

The picture to the left is Thomas’ vision.

He was very concerned that Bryan could pull it off, given that it turned out a bit small in relation to the size of his pumpkin, and he was very adamant that the pumpkin have a pucker.

Bryan, of course, pulled it off with his eyes closed.

Ruthie's pumpkin

This is Ruthie’s pumpkin, based off her vision on the picture to the left.

Ruthie was a very demanding Creative Director and submitted many creative change orders after the design was already approved, such as substituting hair for eyelashes.

But she was nothing if not thorough in gutting her pumpkin.

I know, I know, I know. POOR ME.

I know, I know, I know. POOR ME.

Pumpkins

In Seattle you don’t die of heat stroke at the pumpkin patch.

I mean, yes, it was 54 degrees and raining in Seattle yesterday so of course I love the sun and heat, but I was not mentally prepared for pumpkins.

No, due to the gorgeous weather I was mentally prepared for a beach chair and a margarita, which I did not find in the middle of the pumpkin patch but could have used after the wheelbarrow incident.

All American Boy

The unbearable heat also changed my strategy in the corn maze because I only wanted to stay on the shady paths.

However, Bryan strongly suggested that this strategy would not get us out of the corn maze in a timely manner, nor would it help us find posts marked 1, 2, 3 & 4 in the corn maze scavenger hunt, which would earn us the coveted prize of sparkly black and gold bead necklaces.

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I’m just thankful I made it out alive, which is more than I can say for the pumpkins I saw in the patch.

The View From Here

The View From Here

Back yard

This is a working vacation for Bryan and I, so we’ve been swapping the kids back and forth every few hours so we can each check in on our projects.

Yesterday afternoon I sat in a comfy chair on the back patio looking at this view while I responded to all my emails from the day.

It was just starting to cool down after a 78 degree day.

Grandpa's camper

Earlier in the day I’d sequestered myself in the camper for a conference call – a perfect mobile office.

I really love that we can work remotely. It’s the only thing that’s even come close to influencing me in the direction of homeschooling. If we weren’t tied down to the school system, we could go anywhere and do anything whenever we wanted.

Well, if we had money, that is. But you get my point.

But alas, I am neither qualified to teach children, nor am I patient enough. So we’ll see how it goes while we’re here.

California

California

Departure

My friend Giyen tweeted about a Virgin America sale back in August. One thing led to another and before I realized what happened I’d booked a three week trip to visit the Land of Zug.

I was all, BRYAN CAN WORK ANYWHERE WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION! And then I was all, I CAN WORK ANYWHERE WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION!

And I sort of forgot our kids don’t do the kind of school that happens on the internet.

This morning Ruthie asked if we were going to homeschool while we were away, and Bryan was all, No, we are REMOTE schooling.

Five ladies, three generations, boxes, and wine.

Five ladies, three generations, boxes, and wine.

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I’m writing this from seat 17B on our flight to Minneapolis, just Ruthie and me. We’re headed to my mom’s for an all girls week, along with my sister and her youngest daughter, Grace.

This trip evolved since I booked the tickets way back in December – I wasn’t working then, but now I have projects to manage in the margins of our vacation. I predict many early mornings and late nights to bookend our busy days together.

And in an ironic twist of Providence, an apartment recently opened up at a retirement community my mom was wait-listed on. The move in date? February 16th – right in the middle of my trip.

What started as a visit to grandma’s house to refresh, regroup, and help prepare my mom for a move at some point in the future, suddenly became a work week of epic proportions.

We land at lunch time, and I imagine we’ll hit the ground running as we hurry to fill boxes before the movers come on Tuesday.

My sister IM’d me yesterday morning, and said she was heading out to Trader Joe’s. “Pick up some three buck Chuck!” I said.

I think we’re going to need it.

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!We are in Los Angeles this week, helping with video at the 140 Twitter Conference. And by we, this time I really do mean WE – I’m the second camera operator. But since that sounds boring, and I can’t have a cool title like gaffer or key grip or best boy, I plan to call myself Director of Photography this week.

It may be a slightly elevated title, but that’s what L.A. is all about, isn’t it?

Speaking of what L.A. is all about, we had a chuckle over these decorative flags along Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, because what could be more welcoming to a community visitor than pictures of fire and bomb explosions?