Today I have an extra special treat for all my readers…an interview with my wonderful mother! She’s also known as Kalamity Kim, Kim Possible, and Supermom! Below she spills on motherhood (to 7 children!), travel, and everything in-between.
Words don’t properly describe my mother. She always has a smile on her face, ALWAYS. My mom is also the unofficial editor of my blog, loves bright colors, and has perfected the duck face. And she has this insane memory. She somehow remembers all the preferences, likes, dislikes of me and my siblings. She not only was the 1st female firefighter in the state of Arizona but she was also in the Top 10 of the Mrs. Arizona pageant. This woman has done some incredible things in life and I’m so excited to share her with all of you today :) Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Q1: Tell my readers a bit about yourself!
A1: I’m a 58 year old woman, the oldest of three children, who pretty much wakes up every morning with a smile on my face. I’m passionately in love with my husband, crazy about my kids and just love life! I’m a risk taker and love adventure, travel, reading, photography and making cards from my photos (and occasionally borrowing a great photo from a certain blogging daughter)! I have my favorite tv shows: Survivor, Amazing Race, Married At First Sight, Modern Family AND HGTV!!!!!! I have enjoyed being involved with and watching all the sports that my children have played…soccer, cheerleading, crew, basketball, lacrosse and rugby.
In my past life I worked for an airline that went bankrupt and worked for a number of years as a firefighter in Tucson, Arizona (when women were first getting into the fire service). That was my favorite job (outside the home)! After the first two children, I didn’t work outside the home again. I had plenty to do just keeping a household of nine happy, healthy and organized.
I look forward to traveling more in the future since we’ll be empty nesters this fall!!
The last thing about me is I try not to act my age!!
A2: My dad was in the Navy, so we lived some nice places like San Diego, Jacksonville Beach, Boston, and Northern Virginia. We tended to do lots of weekend trips to nearby locations and attractions. But I do remember a very fun trip to Quebec, Canada with my parents. That was also my first international trip!
Q3: When was your first international trip?
A3: See above! [Quebec, Canada]
Q4: I’ve talked a lot about Honfleur and Normandy on my blog because of you and Dad but describe it for my readers!
A4: Honfleur is a stunningly beautiful and magical place along the North Sea. I fell in love with it when my now husband took me there and proposed. It’s had a special place in my heart ever since. September and October are great times to visit, since most of the tourists are gone. There is a gorgeous marina in the center of town with many of the shops and restaurants surrounding it. The entire Normandy area of France is over the top picturesque. It seems like a throwback to another time. There is so much history to see and absorb. Every local we ever came in contact with was helpful and very kind.
A5: Our honeymoon to Innsbruck!!! It was late December and the skiing was terrific that year (at least that’s what we were told)! The only ski slope we saw was from our window and in the distance. We were in the Old Town and loved the shops and little restaurants tucked away. We also went to New Year’s Eve mass at a nearby, beautiful Catholic church. Our hotel was very nice with breakfast in our room every day. In fact, we spent a lot of time in that room (if you catch my drift!!)
Q6: What’s one place that everyone should visit at some point in their lifetime?
A6: I’m definitely biased on this. I think everyone should have the chance to see Traverse City, MI. It’s 4 ½ hours north of Detroit and seems like a different world in comparison to the rest of Michigan. You’re never more than 5 minutes from water and our water is multiple shades of blue and crystal clear. Yes, I am a water SNOB. Plus, no salt, no sharks, no problem! So scuba diving to all our Lake Michigan wrecks is totally safe. We are currently on so many lists as a top destination…it’s very exciting. Our downtown is adorable and vibrant, with lots of great shops and eateries. We’ve become a foodie destination and brew pubs are doing a bustling business. Since we are the TART CHERRY capital of the WORLD, we have a long-standing Cherry Festival every July, which the Blue Angels precision flying team attends every other year. Of course, our terrific Film Festival in late July has its 11th anniversary this year. We also have the famous International school for the Arts…Interlochen. Many well-known singers and musicians have either attended the high school (boarding) or the summer camps (Jewel, Josh Groban, Norah Jones, etc.). We have the opportunity to see terrific groups, bands, solo artists, musicians and dancers year round, with some of the best coming in the summer months. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore earned the distinction of being “the most beautiful place in America” in 2012 after ABC’s Good Morning America show ran a contest for many weeks. And let’s not forget Moomers Ice Cream!! Another Good Morning America contest 7 years ago resulted in it being declared “the best scoop in the country”. The bad news is that I live less than 5 minutes from Moomers and I have the thighs to prove it!!!!
Q7: What was it like traveling to Egypt in the 1980s?
A7: It was wild! I was there only 6 months after Anwar Saddat had been assassinated. Cairo’s tourism was way down, except for occasional travelers from England or Germany. When the plane landed, there were armed military lining the runway. The locals were so happy to see any Americans and actually stopped me to ask where I was from and to tell me that America and Egypt were “friends”. I felt safe at the time but it was a little freaky to look down alleyways and see a soldier crouched down with his automatic weapon resting on a bale of hay and pointing out towards the sidewalk. It was the same with every alley in the downtown area. The pyramids and sphinx were the big things I wanted to see and experience. I did get to walk all around the inside of one of the pyramids, which was amazing. I also rented a camel and went loping across the desert for a while. I’m happy I went when I did, because my fear was that some fanatic was going to blow up the pyramids without me ever seeing them. [note from Jordan: My mom forgot to mention she is blonde with green eyes and fair skin…so she definitely stood out. Plus, she traveled with a Jewish friend who was very outspoken and refused to take off her Star of David necklace!]
Q8: What’s the best Wagner family vacation we’ve ever done?
A8: That’s a tough one! We’ve had some wonderful motorhome trips but I’d have to say that our Europe trip in 2012 was incredible!! Not only did we do 2 transatlantic crossings on Cunard’s Queen Mary, but we also had my mom fly into Frankfurt to meet up with us. We had quite the adventure with our 9 passenger Mercedes Benz stick shift van. Jordan was studying in TuEbingen at the time, so she met up with us whenever she could. We went to so many great countries over a 5 week period, with an additional week on each end for the ship crossing. Most of our kids finally got to see where John and I started…in Honfleur. We re-enacted the kissing part of the proposal. We also took them to Innsbruck, the site of our honeymoon. We didn’t re-enact anything for them there!! The most incredible part of the entire trip was that nothing went wrong!! Every single hotel worked out perfectly and we always had multiple rooms. There was never one mistake or issue with our room/hotel reservations. I was pretty proud of that, especially since I did all the reservations for us.
A9: Hmm, depends on how you define “worst”. Our Newfoundland trip in 2013 was “interesting”. John ended up driving over 5,000 miles to get to and drive around this magnificent island. It is over the top beautiful, with scenery right out of National Geographic. The capitol, St. John’s, is cute and full of history but it is a vast, wild landscape. There are lots of small, simple villages that are not always equipped to house tourists. Those same villages have very limited food selections…can we say cod? But I also LOVE it because it was rustic and so unspoiled. The driving part was just tough…oh yeah, we were in a 32 foot motor home and the wind always wanted to blow you off the road. Would I go back?? Absolutely! The people were sweet, kind and anxious to please. [note from Jordan: All we wanted was lobster and to see an iceberg. Once we got there, we were told we were 1 week late in the season for both!]
Q10: Do you have any funny or unusual travel stories?
A10: Oh, this is the best! One day on our Europe 2012 trip, we were driving through the Black Forest and the surrounding towns and villages. We were on a particularly long, scenic stretch with a house every great once in a while. Everyone was hungry and we suddenly saw a large house and property on the side of the road. Because of the size, we all figured that it was a restaurant or inn of some type. Our German speaker, Jordan, was not with us at the time! When we walked in, the people ushering us in were very nice but spoke no English. There were a few elderly people in the hallway and a long row of pictures of even more elderly people on the wall as we entered. We were ushered through a common room where older and/or disabled folks were finishing their lunch. About this time, we figured we weren’t in Kansas anymore!!! They brought us to another room filled with tables and then pulled a room divider across to block out the first room. We actually were given menus but by this time we figured this was NOT a restaurant. The whole scene was so funny and by the time we left, we all hugged the staff and waved to the residents. We still don’t know for sure, but the consensus was that it was the German equivalent of an assisted living facility!!
Q11: Can you explain the Wagner family Disney World obsession?
A11: Who doesn’t love Disney World??? Early on, John and I decided that Disney World was made for large families. After all, where else can you go with kids and let them run around and make as much noise as they want. It became our “go to” place. It just made sense to go there every year!
Q12: Wagner family travel motto?
A12: Our travel motto has got to incorporate driving. Maybe “drive till you drop”! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a great vacation idea but it included driving 10,000 miles in 2 weeks!! Ok, not quite that bad! My sweet husband tries to please everyone and hit every spot that people want to go. And he DOES love to drive. But sometimes I need to save him from himself or else he’ll be glued to that driver’s seat for weeks!
Q13: What trip are you most envious that I took?
A13: That would be Iceland. John and I would love to go there. Maybe next year!
A14: My dream trip would be back to Slovenia for a couple of weeks. We didn’t have the time to really explore the country and it’s amazing! It’s still unspoiled and not overrun with tourists. The natural beauty of it is breathtaking.
Q15: What’s something readers would be surprised to know about me that doesn’t come across on my blog?
A15: Well, you already know that Jordan is bright, witty, funny, adorable and energetic. But did you know that before she was two, she could recite the entire alphabet backwards…very quickly and totally for fun? We were in the car returning from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where we had gone to get a second opinion for Jordan’s cancer diagnosis. On the drive back to Washington, DC, she suddenly told us that she could say the alphabet backwards. After we asked her to do it, she rattled it off and laughed at the end! BTW, she can still do it to this day!!! [note from Jordan: genius child!]
Q16: What’s it like being a mom to 7 children?
A16: It is humbling and so incredibly fun! I always wanted children and knew I would have them, but I never dreamed that we’d end up with 7. We had our last child, Paris, two days before I turned 41. Even after that, we both lament that we didn’t meet earlier and have a couple more children. Of course, I was in 4th grade when John was going to his senior prom, so I’m not sure how much earlier we could have met without John being arrested!!
Q17: What’s your favorite part about motherhood (besides me, duhhhhh)?
A17: Whew, there are so many favorite parts… I just love the fact that 7 people call me “mom” and love me unconditionally. I love that I was half responsible for creating some pretty darn, amazing children who will all find their niche in life and go on to live happy, fulfilling lives. I once read a quote that said, “having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your head”. That was so funny to me and it can be crazy at times…but, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and probably even have a couple more.
How amazing, hip, sassy, and cool is my mother? I’m so happy you all got a glimpse into the wonderful woman that inspires me daily and makes to strive to be the best woman possible!
Happy Mother’s Day!