Tag Archives: Vacation

OBX Road Trip 2014

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We spent last week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and as promised, I kept a “live record” of the 12+ hour drive down there, starting with our 4:00 am wake-up. It actually wasn’t that bad but I honestly don’t know how the Pioneer People took road trips… you know, without the DVD player in the minivan. “They probably just used their iPads,” you might say, but my kids can’t do that because they’ve inherited my weak stomach, and are prone to getting car sick if they look anywhere but STRAIGHT AHEAD.

Here’s how the whole day went down. And by “went down,” I mean, “went downhill with every hour we spent in the car.”

3:45 AM I repeat, AM! We’re shooting for a 4am departure but this shit ain’t right. I hit snooze. Twice.

3:55 – I’m up. Meaning, I’m standing up and walking somewhere, but I’m pretty sure my eyes are closed and I’m still dreaming. About sleeping.

4:05 – We wake the kids up. This right here is the highlight of their whole trip, until we did it again on the day we drove home. It doesn’t happen often, so they LOVE when WE have to wake THEM. They immediately pop out of bed and start talking. I’m barely awake myself so I have no idea what they’re actually saying… something about excitement and darkness and breakfast… I just nod and tell them to get in the car, there’s no food at this hour.

4:17 – We leave. Kids are still talking. I’m still barely awake.

4:21 – I realize that we’ve forgotten pillows so we turn around.

4:26 – On the road again. Only 26 minutes later than planned, which is sort of amazing considering the ungodly hour, amiright?

4:41 – First Happy Dude-ism* of the trip: “Sometimes one of the suns looks like a shark.” (It’s still pitch dark.)

*Happy Dude-ism = when HD just randomly blurts out a sentence that may or may not make sense but is relevant to absolutely nothing.

At this point, we encourage the kids to try to fall back asleep but their wide eyes and loud voices tell us it’s not gonna happen. So I do what any tired passenger would do in my position… put on my noise-canceling headphones and let KJ deal with them. #boseisboss

5:02 – HD-ism: “Did you bring ALL of my every toys in this car?” All of my every what now?

5:33 – The Nibbit announces, “My belly hurts.” One hour into the effing trip. With my best early morning sympathetic voice, I tell him to Look. Straight. Ahead. Yes, for the next 11 hours.

5:51 – HD-ism: “Mom, I saw you somewhere!”

I’ll admit, at this point, I’m getting a bit concerned about the frequency of these random mutterings. Is something wrong with his brain?

6:05 – First stop! We’re a little worried that the Nibbit is going to throw up. It’s pouring rain, so KJ takes just the boys into the rest stop and within two minutes, I get a text: “Pls turn car off and come in… gonna need help.” I start envisioning vomit all over the floor of this nice rest stop and sprint with the Loud One to the door, where we see the Nib and HD standing there… smiling. KJ is NOT smiling. He says, “HD won’t pee without you.”

We pee. No one vomits. And we sprint – in the rain – back to the car.

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6:32 – We’re back on the road, driving 65 mph on a highway and the Nibbit says, “I saw a lizard on that rock.”

Oh no, it’s contagious.

7:00 – Movie #1: Jungle Book. Isn’t it kind of amazing that we made it all the way until 7:00 am before putting a movie on?

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7:58 – Ding, ding, ding!! We hear the very first “Are we almost there?” from the Nibbit. It’s 4½ hours into a 12-hour car drive, so only the truth will do. “Nope. Not even close.”

8:02 – Disturbing conversation with the Nib, goes like this:

Him: Mom did the other night count?
Me: For what, bud?
Him: For the thing… for the trip… how many drives do we need to be?
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Him: Nevermind, I’m trying to watch the movie.

8:30 – Sing-Along Time! We make it through a variety of Katy Perry songs before we’re bored with that game. I suggest the Quiet Game instead. The kids all lose. Every time, they lose. Which means WE ALL LOSE.

9:15 – Second stop! Gas and bagels. HD fell asleep about 18 mins prior (of course) so we have to wake him up. He’s a bit discombobulated and he can’t find his shoe. He starts freaking out a bit and then says, “Oh here it is! It was on my foot!

Note: Five minutes into this stop, I have a bit of a meltdown when HD wants to touch everything in the bathroom. The VERY PUBLIC, VERY REST STOP-ISH bathroom. Nibbit is being generally Nibitty which sends me right over the edge. There’s some yelling, but I pull it together and we walk out of the rest stop with some of our dignity intact. And toilet paper attached to a Croc.

9:35 – Back in the car for Movie #2 … it’s Scooby Doo time!

11:00 – Zoinks. Everyone starts to lose it. Especially HD. All of a sudden, he is all, “I am DONE with this driving! I want to go home now! This car is the worst car ever!” We pull over into a random parking lot and let him yell and whine and complain while he stretches his legs. That seems to help.

11:05 – We get back in the car and I announce that it’s naptime. In one of the few, true miracles of OBX Road Trip 2014 (I mean, the Nibbit did spot a lizard on a rock going 65 mph), they actually listen to me and they all fall asleep.

BLISS.

Bliss.

blissblissblissblissbliss.

12:41 – HD wakes up screaming, “I want a smoothie at the place!”

1:30 – LUNCH BREAK! We eat at a no-brand sports bar with sticky tables and a LOT of flies. And fries. The flies and fries are both plentiful. As we’re walking out the door, HD yells, “OK, let’s roll and rock!”

Between the final hours of 2:00 and 4:30pm, we drive the remaining 30 miles. That’s right… it took us two-and-a-half-hours to go about 30 miles.

The new Outer Banks tourism slogan should be: “OBX: One lane in, one lane out!”

Various movies are watched and video games are played and audio books are listened to and variations on “Are we there yet?” are asked with increasing frequency:

  • Are we there yet?
  • Are we almost there?
  • Are we even close?
  • Is the house close to where our car is right now?
  • Can we get out of this goddamn car soon, PLEASE? (That last one was mine.)

Until finally, we can answer, YES. WE ARE ALMOST THERE. PRAISE JESUS HALLELUJAH.

The funny part is, 12+ hours later and they look mostly exactly the same as they did when we left.

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We finally arrive to a houseful of KJ’s family who greet us with excitement and more importantly, cold beers. And then, we had a GREAT trip. And then, what seemed like two minutes later, it was time to go home.

Rinse. Repeat. Reread the above.

Highlights…

Beach time with family…

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A little consolation from Daddy where sand goes where no sand has gone before.

A little consolation from Daddy when sand goes where no sand has gone before.

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Have Cars cards, will travel

Have Cars cards, will travel

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Amazing sunsets...

Amazing sunsets…

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

Travel: the Good, the Bad & the Crippled

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Ah, I’ve been away for so long! I’ve missed you so much!

(“you” = “Starbucks”)

We got back late last night from vacation and I’ve just been sitting at the computer all day inhaling all of the Internet I missed while away. Big, deep gulps of sweet, sweet Internet.

And in between the big gulps of Internet, I’ve dabbled at writing this post. Write a few sentences, check Facebook. Write a few more, read every entry in my Feedly. That’s how this day has gone. It’s taken about four hours (editor’s note: it ended up taking twelve), but this is what I’ve come up with:

Random Thoughts and Observations about Travel in General and More Specifically, Our Recent Vacation to Turks & Caicos

Travel: I don’t love it. Here’s why:

1. I hate to fly to the point that I need to add in extra time for vomiting. To Do Before Flight: shower, vomit, finish last-minute packing, vomit, get the kids ready, vomit.

Flying WITH the kids is exhausting and stressful because what if the plane goes down and those oxygen masks fall and after I put on my own (hey, I’m a rule-follower) I only have time to save one of my kids… who would I pick? And also, the PLANE IS GOING DOWN.

And flying WITHOUT the kids is depressing because growing up without me is clearly not something my children would be able to overcome and I’d have sentenced them to a life full of sadness and therapy and maybe rehab and probably a lot of cats.

And before you ask, yes, drugs help. Stronger drugs help more. But nothing helps enough.

2. Traveling with young kids is just like regular life, only without all the comforts of home – like frozen waffles, three bins of stuffed animals and two venti iced coffees a day – and with many more opportunities for meltdowns. Plus, I love my home. I almost never feel any urge to leave it at all, nevermind to board a flying death machine.

3. I’m not that adventurous. Or curious. I don’t love to try new things or eat new foods or even see new places.

Wow, I’m AWFUL.

(Waiting for reassurance…)

No really, I know I am kind of boring. Unless we’re drinking Margaritas, of course. Then I’m more fun than… well, sitting at home reading the Internets! Woohoo!

Lest you think otherwise, I have seen a good number of places outside my state lines. I have traveled extensively within the US (in fact, Maine and Alaska are the only two states in which I’ve never set foot or car tires. And before you say it, I already know how close Maine is; I’ve seen a map) and Europe, backpacked in Australia and New Zealand, safaried in South Africa and hiked around Machu Picchu in Peru with my sister, because she forced me to. (She’ll want me to include the fact that I also promised to go to Fiji with her with Habitat for Humanity and then bailed at the last minute. She went anyway. Alone.) While I feel kind of lame saying that I never want to go to Vietnam or Alaska or Thailand, it’s true.

Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) recently spent hours answering readers’ questions and this one just spoke to me:

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Yup, I’d have to agree, only I would add “… while KJ takes the kids to Disneyland.” Now THAT would be a win-win for everyone!**

**except KJ

So, we just spent the past week at the Beaches resort in Turks & Caicos with KJ’s side of our family, including Grandma, two aunts and uncles and six cousins ranging in ages from 7-18.

We got off to a bit of a rough start when KJ hurt his knee a few days prior to the trip and instead of getting better, THE OPPOSITE HAPPENED. By the time we left for the airport, he could barely walk. By the time we landed on the island, his knee was the size of a grapefruit and he was forced to request crutches.

Aside from being in a lot of pain, a parent with a serious knee injury on a tropical island vacation (think: swimming, water slides, running away from Mommy during endless sunscreen applications) is virtually useless from a parenting perspective. I might have been jealous of him except for the whole he was in excruciating pain thing.

This leads me to our next mishap. I’m not a water slide kind of girl. Never have been. Definitely definitely definitely never will be. But Happy Dude needed an adult to take him on the water slide and could you say no to this face?

Didn't think so.

Didn’t think so.

We made a few successful runs, but before I could think “This isn’t so ba…” BAM, I smacked my head against the side of the slide immediately before hitting the water. The next few minutes are a blur, but I remember panicking that we were both for sure drowning. In reality, KJ tells me that a.) Happy Dude was completely fine and was pulled out of the water immediately and b.) that the noise of my head hitting the slide was horrific… which is pretty cool, am I right?

I had a pretty bad headache for the rest of the day AND I still have pain in my shoulder and neck. Not to mention that Happy Dude was SOL when it came to water slides because he ran out of un-injured parents to take him.

That said, we had plenty of help from the older cousins whom our kids ADORE. Seeing our kids with their cousins was the absolute best part of this trip.

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The Nibbit is in heaven when he’s around his teenage boy cousins because he can basically be as aggressive and rough as he wants to be – which is HIGHLY aggressive and EXTREMELY rough – without getting in trouble. They race, wrestle, tag, dunk, hide and carry… all of the Nibbit’s favorite things.

That’s not to say that the Nibbit wasn’t any trouble at all. Nope, pretty sure nobody would say that. And by nobody, I mean any of the thousands of people who were in his presence at some point this past week.

You know sometimes when you’re out in public, you see a kid misbehaving a little bit and you see the mother overreact and completely snap? And then you feel bad for that poor kid for having to deal with that crazy mother and you have a quick daydream about confronting the mother and saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice what just happened with your son and don’t you think that maybe you overreacted a TINY bit? I mean, he only grabbed that bag of cookies off the shelf and really, what kid DOESN’T grab cookies? So was your screaming ‘PUT THE COOKIES BACK AND LET’S GO’ really necessary? Maybe you should just take a deep breath and give the kid a break.”

Yeah, I’ve done that, too and I can now honestly say, I will NEVER do it again.

Because now I get it. Now I completely understand that in the 30 minutes or two hours or six days prior to the cookie incident, that kid was probably acting like SATAN’S SPAWN. And even though grabbing cookies isn’t such a big deal, the mom just COULDN’T. TAKE. ANYMORE.

It was a serious downside of traveling with my in-laws – downright embarrassment at some of the Nibbit’s behavior. And yes, sometimes my own.

(The other downside of this trip was that the only place that served iced coffee served it in teeny tiny plastic cups and I was all, “This is great, but I’m going to need TEN of these.”)

Of course, the family was very kind and understanding about the difficulties of traveling with little ones, even little ones that sometimes lack the ability to act like a human being in public.

The kids had such a blast on this trip – despite the bug bites, the remnants of Tropical Storm Dorian (thank God for Xbox in the hotel room!) and the looooong travel day home yesterday which included a shuttle bus, waiting in a HOT airport for three hours, the 3½ hour flight, more waiting on a long immigration line and a hour-long car ride home – they loved the water park and the beach and the video games and the dessert buffet and the quality time with the family. We ALL loved the QT with the family and are thankful to Grandma for this experience that the Loud One called the BEST! VACATION! EVER!

Here are some more highlights:

Wreaking havoc in the water park

Wreaking havoc in the water park

Lizard-hunting

Lizard-hunting

Playing "Poison Silverware" at the "very fancy restaurant." (My childhood friends will understand... we didn't have M&Ms!)

Playing “Poison Silverware” at the “very fancy restaurant.” (My childhood friends will understand… we didn’t have M&Ms.)

Shark-hunting

Shark-hunting

Hibachi!

Hibachi!

Riding in the back of the golf cart (because Daddy couldn't walk to the restaurant)

Riding in the back of the golf cart (because Daddy couldn’t walk to the restaurant)

TV FACE: Island version

TV FACE: Island-style

"Hey! This rock is singing!"

“Hey! This rock is singing!” #naturespeakers #toddlersaresogullible

Hammock fun

Hammock fun

 

French Fries in Paradise

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We’re on “vacation.” Yup, those are air quotes. I use the air quotes because while this trip has had the outward appearance of a vacation – sun, swimming, restaurants, even a few frozen cocktails – it is sorely lacking in some key vacational elements like, say, relaxation… long, uninterrupted naps on a lounge chair… trashy beach novels… and many more cocktails.Now, I can’t complain too much. Amanda is here with us, which allows us to work on a man-to-man defense as opposed to the more-exhausting zone defense. This also means that whomever gets to take Happy Dude for nap time gets a full Nibbit-free hour-and-a-half, so THAT’S awesome. (Granted, you have to take a leisurely stroll around the 9,358 acre property for him to sleep, but still.)

Aw, I’m just kidding. (Sort of.) We’re having a wonderful, leisurely, fun, restful time.*

It’s also been educational. Here are just a few of things that I’ve learned:

  • Wrestle Baby is way more intensely competitive in a hotel room than it is at home.
  • $40/per person is too much to spend on a buffet if three of the people only take one helping of mac-and-cheese and a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s. And then don’t eat the mac-and-cheese.
  • “You are what you eat” can’t possibly be true, because if it were, I would no longer have kids, I would have french fries.
  • Water slides NEVER get old. Even if they’re the same three, short water slides. Over and over and over again.
  • Fellow hotel guests do NOT like to hear your kids playing with their new remote control cars at 7:30am. I can’t say I blame them, but I don’t like hearing that shit either, so better them than me.
    • Side note: they have something here called the Speedway. For an insane amount of money, your kids can design, build and race their own remote control race car. It’s very fun and adorable. Until 3 1/2 members of your five-person family end up in tears because of the following reasons: My car won’t work! I want to win! I hate to lose again and again! I’m not good at driving this! This doesn’t feel like vacation! (One of those was me. Guess which one. Yup, I’m the 1/2.)
  • We could take Happy Dude anywhere in the world as long as we have a bag of cars and trucks with us. Literally ANYWHERE. Island, city, war-zone… wouldn’t matter.
  • Baby sharks make my kids very happy. I’m going to consider replacing Squeaky & Pip with one.
  • A lazy river makes my kids very exhausted. I’m going to consider replacing our swingset with one.
  • I’d make an excellent lifeguard.
  • The following rules will need to be implemented BEFORE we leave for our next vacation:
    • No one under the age of (Loud One’s age + 1) gets to push an elevator button or use the room key.
    • No one over the age of 4 gets to sit in a stroller until after 3pm.
    • Sunblock will be applied as often as an adult deems necessary. Any complaining will result in additional applications.
    • Ice cream will be limited to once a day. Most days. If you injure both of your siblings in the same day, no ice cream for you.
    • Our normal wake-up rules apply. Do not even think about getting out of bed if the first number on the digital clock is a five. I don’t care how excited you are for the water slides. They don’t open for another FOUR hours.
  • There are many, many, many kids in this world – or at least on this island – that are more annoying than mine. In fact, mine are pretty great. Exhausting, but great.
Signing off from Paradise… 
Our new pet. Fluffy.

Our new pet, Fluffy.

PS. FYI, by the time you read this, we’ll be home. But for future notice, you should know that we have a state-of-the-art alarm that we sometimes remember to use. We also have a house/petsitter. And two, fierce guard dogs. And two, fierce guard guinea pigs. Oh, and now a shark.

Friday Funnies… sort of

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I was on vacation this past week with my brother, Tom, and sister, Lori, and their families – six adults and seven kids ranging in age from 1-year-old to 8-years-old (stay tuned for a post about the awesomeness of cousins… and by “cousins,” I mean “people who are happy to occupy your kids on vacation”), so I didn’t write down all the funny things that made me laugh out loud (typing on the beach –> lame). But I do have a few lines from The Loud One and the Nibbit that made me smile…

1. After our fifth ice cream cone in five days, the Loud One observed:

“Ice cream is sort of like water… with milk in it… that’s kept in the freezer … with taste.”

2. Another pearl of wisdom from The Loud One:

“It’s a good time to go fishing because it’s lunchtime and I bet the fish are looking for some lunch.”

3. Last Friday afternoon, The Nibbit was going to a one-hour session with “Frank the Science Guy” at a local preschool. The Loud One was trying to decide if she wanted to go to and they had the following exchange:

LO: Nibbit, what does the Science Guy do? Like… magic? Or math?
Nibbit: No, he does science stuff. His name is Frank the Science Guy. <implied duh>
LO: Like what? Does he have animals?
Nibbit: No. <He pauses, trying to figure out how to best phrase his answer…> Everything cool stuff is, he brings.

And this last one requires a brief introduction. Actually, it may not be that brief. I’m sorry, but I honestly can’t help it. Skim if you must.

So, my Mom and my aunt (her sister) used to joke about how their daughters must have been swapped because my two cousins were much more similar to my Mom than Lori and I were. They loved shopping and clothes and other girly things like getting their nails done, while whenever our Mom said to my sister and me, “Let’s go to the mall and buy some new clothes!” we would just groan.

It was a cruel twist of fate for my Mom who was desperate to have daughters that wanted to go shopping and get manicures. Instead, she got… us.

Well, payback is a bitch because now, we say the same thing about our own daughters. And never was it more clear than this past week on vacation.

First, let me give you a two-word description of my sister that will tell you everything you need to know about her:

JULIE. MCCOY.

PS. If you don’t understand that reference, than you’re much younger than I am and I hate you.

You know when you go to the local diner and they have those RACKS of brochures and pamphlets for every single activity you could ever possibly do in that area including hot air ballooning, whale-watching expeditions and guided walking tours through the cemeteries of the region? Well, guess who collects all of those things: yup, Lori. And guess who actually does most of those things: yup, it’s Lori. And guess who really wants to do all of those things with her: yup, it’s The Loud One.

The Loud One is just like Lori in two ways: she likes to do outdoorsy stuff and she likes constant activity. (In case this wasn’t already abundantly clear, she did NOT get any of this from me or KJ.)

The Loud One’s ideal day would include: waking up, putting on a loose, non-restrictive dress, rescuing all the worms that were writhing on our driveway, going for a hike, riding her bike, going for a swim, and taking a ride in a kayak. And then coming in for lunch. Oh and while eating, she wants to know what the plans are for the rest of the day.

Aunt Lori would love to do all of that with her… except maybe the worm part.

My nieces, on the other hand, should have been mine. While they too enjoy outdoor activity, it’s to a much more normal degree. Like after taking a hike, they’d like to curl up on the couch and read for a little while. Like three hours. Or two days. In general, they are calm and quiet and awesome.

And I am lazy. So you can see how this would work for me.

Side note: Happy Dude shows promise for being calm and easy. In fact, we decided on this recent vacation that more appropriate names for him would include: Complacent Dude, Chill Dude or just… Dude. But I expect that all to change when he turns three, the same age as The Nibbit when Satan got a hold of him.

OK, so back to what made me laugh:

4. The Loud One and I went out to dinner last night – it was just the two of us since KJ took the boys home after The Great Miniature Golf Debacle of 2012 (this may be post-worthy someday, but right now… it’s too soon) and the following conversation took place:

We’re discussing our vacation and summer in general…

LO: I loved camping with Aunt Lori. And kayaking with Uncle Scott. He likes to do a lot of things on the water.
Me: Yeah, Aunt Lori and Uncle Scott do a lot of stuff that you like to do – camping, boating, hiking…
LO <pause>: Yeah, it’d be really cool if I could live with their family.

WTF?

She didn’t even have the decency to feel guilty about saying it. Whatever. Maybe the trade should be arranged.