Memories in the Midst of the Mess

Posted September 5, 2013 by jimhigley


“Best day ever!”

That’s what the kids in the above picture – my siblings and cousins – are thinking.

And our parents? Well, that’s easy. “We’re exhausted. And sun burnt.”

There’s one other thing the kids probably have on their mind:

“We’re hungry!”


I’m not sure how my parents did it, but as a little kid growing up in the middle of Nebraska, we made regular family trips to southern, sunny California to visit our cousins. Traveling 1,500 miles, with five boys, navigating four flights, and clunky suitcases  – in a pre-wheels-on-luggage era.

And we did this with ridiculous regularity.

From my perspective – and I’m guessing the perspective of my four brothers and three cousins – it was an always welcome week-long, crazy kid camp featuring:

  • Amusement Parks
  • Zoos
  • Studio tours
  • The ocean
  • Relaxed schedules
  • Food, food, food

And unrestricted playtime as our cousins’ home turned into a mini-dormitory for eight kids – the older ones being lucky enough to sleep on cots in the garage. We never got to sleep in our garage back in Nebraska. But then again, our garage didn’t have the ping-pong table that our cousins’ garage sported.

My dad and his brother, Uncle Jack, had one primary task during our week-long camp. They were the keeper of the schedule. The ever-important logistics guys who were charged with mapping out schedules and figuring out transportation for our small army of 12. And they did so with military precision. The fact that my uncle was a banker and my dad was an accountant came in handy.

As for my mom and Aunt Margaret – they were the designated cooks (sexist, I know – but this was the sixties!). Drafted. That meant while nearly everyone else was creating chaos, they were the two you could almost always find in the kitchen pushing out one of over 250 plates of food for our hungry mouths during our extended stay.

Cook. Clean. Play. Sleep.

And truthfully, it was probably more like: Clean-up, Cook, Clean, Pack-up, Play (whew!), Unpack, Clean-Up, Cook, Clean, Clean again, Sleep (briefly). Repeat.

I never thought about it then, but that must have been their world. I’m sorry they never got to play ping-pong.

And in my memory bank of childhood fun, never a complaint from either of them about how exhausted they must have been.

Memories. I guess they can be a messy thing.

But the nice thing is – long after the mess is gone – the good memories never go away.


This memory is brought to you through my partnership with Kimberly-Clark during the months of September and October. It’s part of their Pick Up the Values Program– providing tips and ideas for parents to stretch their budgets.

Today’s memory is compliments of Viva towels. Why Viva? Well, a lot of great childhood memories are downright messy. Which is why Viva towels is the perfect partner for my “Camp California” story. They’re tough when wet – making them great for clean-up. And they’re great  in the microwave (an invention my parents would have greatly appreciated back in the sixties!).

Stop by Viva towels for more information. And be sure to visit the Pick up the Values website for over $40 of money-saving coupons.

And for daily tips and ideas, be sure to “like” the Pick Up the Values Facebook Page!

Rest assured, while I’ve been compensated by Kimberly-Clark for this story, the memory, and belief in their product is as real as it comes.


  • Chris Narbone

    Reading this reminded me of my summer trips as a kid. With my own family now, I have no idea how my parents got us on the road with their sanity in check. We took a couple of trips with the family this summer and realized you just have to roll with it. Have a schedule but be flexible.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for the note Chris – yeah, as I was writing this my head was spinning thinking about the logistics my dad and uncle had with 12 bodies…getting them all over southern California. I have no memory of that mess. But DANG, do I have good memories of all the fun!