Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Fun

Happy Monday, again! August has arrived and, among other things, it’s Family Fun Month!

In my last couple of blog entries, I have been reminiscing about some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; brought to mind, while reading through my copies of Mom’s old, 1970s articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns. I’ve come across some more of Mom’s memories related to those which I recently shared. So, since this is Family Fun Month, I want to share more of those “family fun” times with you today.

Below is a couple of summertime stories that Mom wrote for her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter; they’re titled, respectively, How to Travel with Your Kids (And Live to Tell About It!) and How I Spent my Summer Vacation. As before, I can neither find the exact dates of when Mom wrote these articles, nor when/where they were published. However, again, the descriptions of us on vacation on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes are from that long summer vacation we took in 1971, to see our relatives, in West Virginia, from Dad’s side of the family.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS…

(And Live to Tell About It!)

By Gloria Pitzer

I have nothing against traveling with our kids – as long as we can go in separate cars. A current poll, taken among the mothers of the Sears Sandbox symposium shows 10 to 1 in favor of going around Harsens Island on a skateboard, as opposed to traveling anywhere by car with their kids – even to the mailbox at the end of the [200-foot long] driveway.

For one thing, any trip is going to be automatically rated ‘X’ when, before you can get out of your own driveway, you must first settle which child is going to sit next to a window and which child won’t. Before the trip is scarcely underway, we can always depend upon the child who rolls the window down, because they need some air, to be sitting next to the child who wants the window up because they’re cold.

The Sunday supplement ads for vacation-minded families, who want matching luggage, are a waste of time. Who wants matching luggage, when it should, by all rights, be packed in a U-Haul truck and immediately be disorganized the minute you unlock the motel room [or cabin] door… because this is usually the exact moment I have to find a clean shirt and slacks for the one who spilled their Dairy Queen [treat] all over themselves. If I told him once, I told him a hundred times: ‘let me hold the shake for you while you drive, Honey!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The real trouble with packing, I feel, is that you usually end up taking all the wrong kind of clothes. When you leave home in the middle of a driving snow and the skies are icy grey and bleak, it doesn’t occur to you that 450 miles south you’ll be shedding the snow jackets and galoshes; wishing you had brought those shorts and tennis shoes, after all.

It is completely ridiculous to allow any child to pack their own suitcase. Chances are, they will try to convince you that one change of underwear is going to be adequate for a 10-day vacation – and that’s when I visualize myself spending all of my time sitting out the duration of our trip, watching my enzymes and bleach race their way to the dirt and grime in some out-of-the-way, ‘coin-op’ laundry [facility].

Some of the motel rooms we’ve stayed in, have been pretty nice; but, then, there are some others that left us feeling we could have had the same conveniences, for which we were paying $50 per day, for free had we stayed at home. If [I] can’t wash 6 days [worth of] dirty underwear in the wash basin, [we] can’t stay there!

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Not one of the lovely travel brochures I read showed ‘the happy family’, as they pull up to the Pennsylvania turnpike gate without realizing that the baby ate the toll card along the way. I can say, with all honesty, that we intimately know every public restroom on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes… not to mention, 3 plazas in West Virginia and several in Niagara Falls. Another thing about traveling with the kids is that, invariably, the best restaurant is always just around the bend, after you’ve [already] stopped at the worst [one].

We are further engaged in the constant inquiries of the children who will, at annoying intervals, in the perfect unison of an acapella choir ask: ‘When are we going to get there?’ The remainder of the trip is spent… painfully telling them that I never wanted to read the roadmap for [Daddy] in the first place; and how was I to know that he wanted Exit 7, not 11! And how do you explain to the service station attendant that you were foolish enough to let your wife read the map and now you’re lost? I’ll be darned if I know – but, before we take another trip with the kids, we’ll have a bumper sticker on our car that reads: ‘Approach with caution – driver under the influence of children!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

(And Other Fond Memories of Days Gone By)

By Gloria Pitzer

I see the neighborhood kids are in the spirit of summer… and it makes me remember, quite fondly, those days during which our own five youngsters were home and very much underfoot. Although, some of the memories are pleasantly enjoyed today, in the absence of our offspring, some of those by-gone days were not all pretzels and beer!

I recall really trying to enjoy summer vacation, even though I had the feeling I was just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’. Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely), were spent wandering through aspirin lectures, asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

As I [remember], we stopped spending vacations with the children; considering how, one summer, we spent 2 weeks on the turnpike… and lived to tell about it… there honestly were positive virtues to the 9am to 3pm [school] schedules, which left us mothers 5 days a week, from September through June, during which we were not answering dumb questions.

For one thing, it was none of the kids’ business why I looked pale and plump in a bathing suit. I knew, the minute I walked into Chubby Chicks’ Swimwear Boutique, summer (for me) would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some shut-in from General Hospital!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Actually, it was my husband’s idea, out of consideration for the neighbors, that he only let me sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He also claimed that I discouraged mosquitos. This is the same man who would stand on the porch, whenever I sang in the shower, so the neighbors could see that he was not beating me!

The same man, mind you, who would come home from (and I quote him exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously – when was I planning to clean off the top of the refrigerator, did I write to his mother, did I have fun at the Book Mobile with 5 kids and would it be alright if we ‘ate out’ that, by his definition, was hot dogs in the backyard over a fire in the grill that I would have to make.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

He just didn’t understand why I spent my summer vacation counting the days ‘til school opened again! But, then, he never had to find band aids for braless Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe [‘action figures’], who got sucked into the vacuum cleaner hose periodically.

My lovable, better half never had to wander through a vast wasteland of Pop Tart wrappers and Mr. Misty cups; while 7 neighborhood kids motorbiked their way through the yard, the flower beds and into the center of a National Noise Abatement Program, sympathetically excused by 3 probation officers who did not have to live next door to them!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Summer vacation, as some laughingly refer to those 10 weeks [mid-June to September], is NOT a vacation; but, more like an endurance test – during which, those families who stayed together, got on each other’s nerves! It was enough to leave a mother looking like a wire service photo that, by all rights, should have been printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP – HELP SEND THIS MOTHER AWAY!’

It’s mothers that need the vacation – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home and Mother could develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I recall, telling the 5 kids one day, everything would be alright as soon as Daddy got home.

And the questions I had to answer all by myself – questions like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’, ‘Can I have a popsicle?’, ‘Can I have my allowance?’, ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’, ‘Have you seen my tennis shoes?’, ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’… and those were just the questions my HUSBAND asked! Compared to all those [questions] that the kids would ask me during the day, I could [better] take those which my husband posed to me. He meant well. But, he never did understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t start until school does!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Mom always had a very satirical sense of humor – not just in her writings and in her drawings, but in life in general. I always admired how much Mom took on, all by herself. She almost always worked from home, doing jobs for which she was paid money; and then the other, harder work at home for which she only got perks – like hugs and kisses and love. Mom wore many hats while simultaneously raising a husband and five kids, as well as an array of pets! I struggled to do the same with having only three kids, instead of five! If you consider the whole birthing process, to begin with, mothers know better than anyone – like the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said – “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalWaffleDay

In honor of today, also, being National Waffle Day; I want to give you a copy of one of Mom’s “free offer” recipes for pancakes, as I couldn’t find a waffle one among them.

In order to be made properly, waffles require a waffle iron that creates a distinct pattern and crispy exterior. Waffles contain more fat than pancakes; because of the greater amount of oil used in making them, the raw batter is thinner when making waffles than when making pancakes. Thus, to create waffles from the following recipe, increase the amount of oil and post your creations on social media with #NationalWaffleDay!

Recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

PANCAKES, LIKE PERKINS’ by Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

12-oz can of 7-Up (or Sprite – diet or regular)

2 eggs

2 TB sugar (or an equal sugar substitute)

2 TB oil

3 C Bisquick

Instructions:

Put it all into a blender on high speed, using an on-off pulse to agitate for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let batter stand for 10 minutes before using it. Allow ¼ cup of batter for a 6-inch round pancake prepared on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes 16 pancakes. The batter freezes well, to use within 3 months.