Thursday, July 15, 2010

What really happens on a family vacation

Last weekend, we took a five day vacation up to WV to visit my family. I try to get back to WV about once or twice a year but it is getting harder to travel as our family gets bigger. Traveling with kids has always been a challenge and there have been many times that we have vowed to “Never fly again” or “Never drive again” with young children. But several months will pass, we will forget the bad times and I start missing my family again so we endure it. We will always need to take long trips with our kids and as a result we will have lots of stories to tell. So if you ask me how my vacation went, I will probably tell you that we had a great time, but this is “What really happens on a family vacation”

1. Something will go terribly wrong while you are traveling. This was our first plane trip as a family of four so it was the first time we had to deal with two car seats. I decided to check Tallen’s seat with our luggage and bring Sophia’s booster seat on the plane. (I was excited to learn that car seats do NOT qualify as luggage and therefore was not charged the $25 baggage fee to like our three pieces of our luggage). At baggage claim, Trey grabbed the car seat off the conveyor belt and was shocked to find that it was SOAKING WET. Our other three bags, however, were mysteriously dry. After fighting with the ticket agent, paying an extra $50 to rent a car seat, then realizing that our luggage and wet car seat would not fit in the trunk of our rental car… we had to upgrade to an SUV for only double the price before we could finally start our three hour drive from the airport to my sister’s house in WV.

On the day we headed home, we had to drive three hours back to the airport before our 2 ½ hour flight to Dallas. After a quick stop at McDonald’s turned into 30 minutes of playtime for Sophia, we raced to the airport, dropped off the rental car, and argued with the agent about the actual cost for the rental car. With no time to continue the argument over the rental charge, we checked in for our flight, paid our luggage fees, prayed that our car seat would arrive safe and dry in Dallas then did our best to rush through security with a stroller, a booster seat, a diaper bag, two carry on bags, Sophia’s backpack, two hats, a belt, and four pairs of shoes. (Really, the baby had to take off his shoes to go through security)! Since I had forgotten to empty the sippy cups of their suspicious contents, we had to wait while the security agent tested a cup for explosives before we could gather up our crap and run to the gate. I wanted to high five Trey when I saw they were still boarding. Five minutes later we were settled on the plane, only to sit there for another hour in a thunderstorm before we could even push back from the gate. We landed in Dallas about an hour late, but our car seat was dry this time.

2. There will be a potty incident. Of course Tallen picked the two worst times to dirty his diaper on the plane. First was during takeoff, when we had another 15 minutes before the seat belt sign was turned off. I finally gave up waiting and walked back to the bathroom so we would not have to endure the smell any longer. On the flight back, he did his business during beverage service. Perfect timing if I wanted to piss off the flight attendant by making her move the beverage cart.

3. Schedules and bedtimes will not be followed. Midnight, that was Sophia’s average bedtime for the four days that we were in WV. Even with the time zone change, that is a full two and a half hours later than her normal bedtime. Naps were scarce for both kids, and they usually took place in the car while we were driving. One day, I even let Tallen sleep in the car while the rest of us cooled off at the pool (although I did leave the car running and walk over to check on him every five minutes).

4. Sleep arrangements will be scattered. When we visit family, we usually end up kicking someone out of their bedroom so we have a place to sleep. This time we managed to kick two of my sister's kids out of their rooms. We tried to let Sophia sleep in a bed by herself but she preferred to sleep in bed with me. Trey didn't have enough room in the bed with us girls so he slept in the bed Sophia should have been in, and Tallen started out in the bedroom with me but was moved to the playroom after the first night.

5. No one will eat sit-down and eat a wholesome, nutritious meal the entire trip.
Pizza, hot dogs, potato chips, ice cream, biscuits and gravy followed by more pizza and ice cream. My excuse is that I only get to eat favorite foods in my hometown once or twice a year but by the end of the week I was feeling sick. And I think I gained about five pounds while I was there too. Blah.

6. I will forget to pack something. This time it was bug bite medicine, swim diapers, and socks for Tallen. All of the minor necessities that I did remember to pack (baby monitor, extra wet wipes, toothbrushes, nail clippers, favorite blankets and bedtime books) will be overshadowed by the one thing that I forgot.

7. One of the kids will refuse to speak, talk to or hug a family member. This will usually happen with aunts, uncles or cousins that they don’t often see, which I think is understandable. However, I cringe when the kids refuse to let my mom or sister hold them. Living so far away leads to sporadic visits, so I know my kids do not have the same connection to my family that I do but it still breaks my heart when they don’t want to spread the love.

8. We will still cry when it is time to go home. I always cry when it is time to leave, mainly because it never seems like there is enough time to visit. But this time it was hard on Sophia to leave. She cried because she missed her new best friend and cousin, Allie. The girls were inseparable the entire trip. They walked around holding hands, took their baths together at night, wore matching nightgowns, played Barbie dolls and video games together. When it was time to leave, I had a hard time explaining to Sophia that Allie could not ride with us to the airport and she could not go back to Allie's house. It was sweet and sad at the same time. They will not see each other for another six months at best.

It is difficult to travel with kids but it is nice to know that we are making memories. So even though we vow "Never Again..." it only takes a few months before I started planning our next trip.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Journal to Tallen

I keep a journal for myself, just a way to keep track of little events in my life. I also have a journal that I write to Sophia and one that I write to Tallen, which I plan to give to them when they are older. I don’t have an age in mind of when I will give it to them, but I want them to know what they were like as children, their little milestones, the struggles and joys that I faced as their mommy. Below is a page from Tallen’s journal entry this morning.

July 1, 2010

Tallen,

Yesterday was a big day for you. You had tubes put in your ears in the morning. It was the first time you have ever had surgery, so I was a little scared. Daddy and I were both there with you – we let Sophia spend the night with Opa and Gran. The surgery was quick and the doctor said you had a lot of fluid in your ears. Now that it has drained, you will probably be able to hear better - sounds will not be as muffled.

In the recovery room, you screamed and cried for about twenty minutes when you started waking up from the anesthesia. You were furious at the little heart monitor that they put on your foot and you pulled it off twice. Finally, they gave us the OK to go home. You were still crying as I strapped you in the car seat. You threw the stuffed monkey that the nurse had give you at me and you pushed the cup of apple juice that I offered you away. But by the time we got home, you had calmed down and actually started to fall asleep. I think that the graham cracker I gave you helped. You held it up to your mouth all the way home even though you didn’t really eat it.

Gran came over at lunch to stay with you the rest of the day. Sophia was disappointed when she looked in your ears and could not see the tubes that the doctor put in. I headed back to work.

When I got home that evening, you were sitting on the kitchen floor looking up at your daddy. He turned around and told me that you had been walking all over the place. I carried you out to the backyard where Sophia was playing with her dollhouse people and put you in the grass. I was shocked when you didn’t cry (you normally hate when nature touches you) and you took about 15 steps towards me! You can walk now buddy. What a big boy! We love you Talley!

Love, Mommy

**Picture of Tallen before he went back for his surgery, much happier than he was in the recovery room.