Europe with Kids: It’s Not All Gelato (the Other Side of the Grand Tour)

Europe with kids


The blog, like Facebook, is the place where I show my best face. Happiest moments, optimism, wishful thinking. All reflecting only one side of the coin.

The truth is that as much fun as we are having, there are also moments of the ridiculous, despair, tantrums, cross words, the gamut. You know. Those moments of tension over directions, where to eat, schedules. The kid who has to go to the bathroom the second we leave someplace WITH a bathroom.  Not to mention two bee stings (Magnolia, me), a number of large spiders (and me with my phobia) and stinging bugs of every variety (Melisa’s worst fear).

Here’s a little taste of the dark side:

  • The kids’ favorite word of the trip is ARMPIT. Just saying it sends both into the giggles.

“I want ARMPIT gelato”

“How many ARMPITS does a deer have?”


  • Most car drives, like the one we made yesterday to Pisa, are characterized by the sillys. For instance: Magnolia coming up with surnames for Betty instead of Boop. You get the idea. Or singing a tuneful melody at the top of her lungs about Spiderman. Jasper punctuates both with random exploding noises. Melisa ignores everything, reading her guidebook, until she can’t. I chew gum like there’s no tomorrow, thinking  “find a happy place, find a happy place.” God bless the iPad. Without it there would be no silence.
  • Once we get to our destination, the complaints begin.

“Mom, when can we have lunch?”

“Mommy, can’t we get some gelato?”

“Momma, I can’t walk any further!”

“Mom, can we get a toy? Why nooooottttt?”

“I don’t want to see the leaning tower of Pisa, I want the pool!”

“Mommy, mommy, mommy…(pause) MOOOOOOOMMMY!”

Then: “Not you, OTHER mommy!”

Yesterday, Melisa and I laughed half-way home from Pisa. We were laughing over ARMPIT. It is kind of a funny word.


Chrissy, true to form, has been posting on how fabulous everything is. And, don’t get me wrong — it IS fabulous and we feel very lucky to be here, enjoying exceptional time away from the normal day-to-day of our lives in New York City. But, as you know, we’re a family traveling with young kids. If you’re reading these posts and hating us just a little bit, perk up here — it hasn’t all been great. Here’s what I mean….

Yes, we’ve been seeing beautiful cities and towns and villages in France and Italy, but at a snail’s pace — Magnolia slows EVERYTHING way down. Chrissy and Jasper walk ahead, as if they’re on their own — I have to stop every two seconds with Magnolia, while she gets a rock out of her shoe, scratches an itch, examines a bug bite, picks up something potentially interesting from the sidewalk, stops to smell a flower (yes, she actually does this), or pauses to reflect while asking a pressing question (can we have a picnic on the floor of our house tonight for dinner?). How SLOW can you go? I’m finding out.

Jasper has been giving us the major attitude. He chews with his mouth open, picks his nose (!), touches his sister’s bottom and then laughs uncontrollably, and asks every two seconds for gelato, a piece of Pez candy, chewing gum, or more movies on the iPad. When we ask him to dial it down a notch, he responds with: “Why don’t you quit telling me what to dOOOOOOO?!’ Dude, yeah, no. Get a grip. When you’re like 40, maybe.

And, embarrassingly, our kids are the loudest and the wildest wherever we go. Seriously. Name your nationality or number of kids in a family and we will take their asses down with EASE. We’re the mother-effing international STEAMROLLER of loud and wild.

And you know all those loooong posts from Chrissy you’ve been reading and enjoying? Well, she’s been commandeering the laptop and the kids have had the stronghold on the iPad while I COOK DINNER.

But, you know what? We are having the best time! I’m here with the people I love most in the world, and we are laughing a lot.


And it’s beautiful everywhere we go. Yes, yes. Beautiful.



4 Responses to “Europe with Kids: It’s Not All Gelato (the Other Side of the Grand Tour)”

  1. 1 Amy W July 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Best quote: We’re the mother-effing international STEAMROLLER of loud and wild.

    I am so glad you posted this. I have really been picturing your trip without whining and was so jealous. We were just on much shorter trip recently and my favorite quote from our 4 1/2 year old (after walking 4 blocks) was “I can’t walk any further, my feet are bored.” Shew.

    Your stories, photos and trip sound amazing, but I’m glad to know you have some armpit moments. xoxo

  2. 2 Nikki July 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Just emailed above quote(steamroller) to my sister in law… We are in the same boat: 3 boys, 1 girl, 1 pregnancy on vacation.

  3. 3 Melisa July 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

    @amy — without whining?! really? well, believe me, there has been plenty. lots of “ups,” but difficult moments, too. we’re hanging, in, tho, and so will your boys when you take a big trip. 🙂

    @nikki — thanks for reading, and, WOW — good luck on your travels!

  4. 4 Rebecca July 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Get this – I will be traveling with TEENAGERS this week…in the heat wave. And they won’t appreciate Linda Ronstadt. And an unhappy, bored, hot teenager is a sight to behold! If only ARMPIT would amuse.
    Always good to know that one’s family is not the only LOUD and OBNOXIOUS ATTITUDE ridden crew out there!

    I’ve loved your posts and wish you a sweet au revoir and welcome home.

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