Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Vacation/Excursion/Travelling Toddler Sh!tshow

Hello everyone!  You may have thought I disappeared!  Don't worry, I did not.  We have just been gone all week and that combined with our Internet connection issues means I haven't been able to post. 

We have been on what could loosely be called a "vacation" around MN, SD and ND.  As anyone with little kids (who is honest) knows, the term vacation refers to something relaxing and fun and generally doesn't exist for anyone who is "vacationing" with little kids.  This excursion, as I will refer to it, involved me driving hundreds of miles with the kids by myself (we were meeting Justin in SD because he had a work trip), one incident of car seat disassembly due to vomit, several gas station bathroom stops with one or both kids screaming the whole time, one vehicle completely destroyed by food wrappers, spillage and crumbs (something I used to distain-I used to clean cars for my family's car dealership when I was a teenager and I was always so disgusted by the condition of cars where kids were frequent passengers.  I just couldn't imagine how someone could let food get all over their vehicle! I was delusional), an average of 4 hours of sleep per night (for me, surprisingly the kids slept fine!), several afternoons spent at overstimulating public places during nap time, the resulting necessity to try to discipline kids in public places, one toddler girl who only wanted me to hold her the whole time and 95 degree temperatures.  Oh, and being in the third trimester of pregnancy and having to urinate every 45 minutes.  Here is a summary with a few pictures.  I wish there were more now, but I was too busy trying not to lose my mind to take very many.  There were many good times that will stand out more than the bad as the days pass and I can find the energy to go out in public again.  Here are a few of them. 

The week started with us going to a family reunion for Justin's step dad's side.  I knew many people but there were some I had never met before and that he had not even met before.  It was a good weekend but Tessa was sooooo clingy I truly could not put her down.  My arms could physically not hold her anymore and all she would do was scream.  I have no idea what that was about.  It was insane.  And so I was insane.  I was relieved to be in the car just so I wouldn't have to carry her around everywhere.  Here is a picture of her in the tube.  Yes, this is it.  The only picture I took.  Good thing other people were taking photos.  The few minutes on the tube allowed me to rest my arms for about 10 minutes.

On Sunday I drove home while Justin stayed behind so he could leave for his trip from Fargo on Tuesday.  Tessa had napped all afternoon so she was awake the whole drive while Ben fell asleep.  I let her watch the portable dvd player the whole time we were driving and just as I parked in our garage three hours later I heard that telltale gurgling sound.  Yes, indeed, she threw up.  It happened after we stopped moving.  I think it must have been caused by watching the screen the whole time while facing backwards since her car seat faces the rear.  I actually read some piece of advice from a full blown car seat crusader that said that you should never wash the textile part of a car seat.  If you didn't know, this is a mom who is obsessed with car seat safety and judges everyone else for such offenses as buying cheap seats, getting a used seat from a friend or using a rental seat when travelling and renting a car (because you NEVER KNOW what has happened to that seat it could have been in an ACCIDENT!!!!) and turning your child forward facing before the age of 5.  I know car seats are no joke but sometimes people should just mind their own business.  For example, if rear facing makes a child car sick or if a seat gets soiled by any number of bodily fluids.  Anyway, I guess there is some sort of flame retardant on the fabric and if you wash it too much it washes off so if you are in a fiery crash the seat could melt.  HMMM OK, if a child vomits on a seat I think any reasonable parent will be washing everything that can be washed.  And I did that night and then had to spend 1/2 an hour trying to put it back together the right way.  And it's probably wrong. 
On Tuesday, I headed out toward South Dakota.  We planned to meet friends who were visiting from Alaska in Sioux Falls.  I went halfway to my sister's house that night.  She lives in north eastern SD.  I think, if I remember correctly, the trip went smoothly except that my favorite gas station was closed for remodeling.   

Here are the kids reading with their uncle that night. 
I left for Sioux Falls (another 3 hour drive) Wednesday afternoon during prime nap hours assuming that I would get at least two hours of silence.  I was wrong and the trip was a whiny, screamy nightmare.  I finally made it to Sioux Falls and was a sweaty, tense mess.  The rental house was very nice, fortunately.  It was booked from, which is a very interesting concept where people who are away from home a lot rent their houses out to travelers.  The owner of this place was a musician who is playing here in September!  It would be fun to see him perform.  It had a nice fenced yard, a basement theater room and all the amenities of home.  It was MUCH better than a hotel for travelling with toddlers.  The other two families were already there and I had a few hours before I had to pick Justin up at the airport.  There were seven kids total and there was a three year old boy exactly Ben's age and they immediately went about fighting over every toy and trying to murder each other.  Holy crap it was stressful.  I was burned out on discipline after an hour and we still had two days ahead of us. 
On Wednesday we went to Wild Water West, a huge waterpark.  It was a really hot day and this water park is really amazing.  It is just the type of place I love, mixing water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool and even a swim up bar.  But, like everything else, the enjoyment diminishes with each dependent baby and toddler in the mix and pregnant people aren't encouraged to ride water slides, was still pretty fun though.  There were many options for really young kids and Tessa loved the little water slides.  We took both kids on tubes in the lazy river, had ice cream and Justin even took Ben on a big waterslide.  He was scared.  We also took both of them in the wave pool.  I went on a big waterslide just once even though the signs said pregnant women should ride at their own risk.  Risk assumed, legal counsel for Wild Water West! 

Tessa taking in the watery spectacle.

This pirate ship kids slide complex looked pretty fun for kids who were a bit older than ours.  I love that parrot up there!
Justin took Ben on a bumper boat ride. 
He also went on one of those crazy zero gravity slides.   
I have done these before, although it's been years, and hopefully I will again someday!
So we survived a whole afternoon at the waterpark.  I really look forward to bringing my kids to places like this when they are older because I remember loving this sort of thing as a kid (an elementary school age kid who could swim and function in strange environments without having meltdowns and throwing fits).
On Friday we all parted ways and I dropped Justin off with his step brother at a golf course where they played an 18 hole golf tournament and I continued to Brookings, which was a short drive which both kids slept through.  That afternoon my sister-in-law and I took the kids to the children's museum there, which was really nice.  It is located in an old historic school building which I am fascinated by so anything that is located in an old school is something I am interested it!  I couldn't help but imagine the students in the hallways and try to guess which rooms were used for what. 
My kids loved the little grocery store where they were able to fill their own carts with realistic looking groceries.  Tessa filled hers until it spilled over!

Ben's favorite room was what he called the "water machine" which was a huge pool of water with various water features where you could move balls around.  It reminded me of the old game "mousetrap". 
We made it home on Saturday night with loads of disorganized crap shoved here there and everywhere, mountains of laundry and an empty fridge waiting for us.  On Sunday we had no choice but to go restock the house in the afternoon where Ben passed out in a shopping cart. 

Not to be outdone, Tessa peed through her diaper and we had to change her into a clearance outfit that I bought at the mall sidewalk sale that is two sizes two big for her.

Then she drooled yellow candy drool all over it.  Fortunately it came out so the outfit is still fresh to rediscover next summer!
We checked on the garden and found that our big tomato plant is as tall as I am now.  Still no ripe tomatoes though!

WHEW!  Now that I have had a day back in the normal old routine I have started to relax again although it took three TV shows to get Ben to let me finish this post and him and Allan are both sitting on me right now.  We are going to bake a zucchini cake now.  I can't wait to eat that seasonal favorite of mine!  It's like so many other September the sight of it will make me nauseous but now it seems mouth watering! 

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