How is everyone’s Spring Break going?
I keep seeing all these photos from sunny destinations, cruises, beaches on facebook. And I must say, in hindsight, that was a smart decision. Traveling to different cities every night and checking into different hotels, lugging bags up and down, packing and repacking is tough with 4 small kids.
Optimistic at the start of the drive.
Adam, trying to appeal to my hunger for spending time with my friends and family, offered to drive us down to North Carolina for the week to see my sister and friend Jennie. It also had the added bonus of satisfying Adam’s wish to road trip with his family.
Now that I have kids, I practice a little mediation before every holiday. I mentally prepare myself by saying – Vacation is not about you anymore. Your vacation time happens at nap time. Vacation is not about you anymore.
But even as I said this I was very excited to see Lara and Jennie! And Adam was excited to see his buddy in Kentucky.
How did it go, you ask? Let’s put it this way, on the first day I lost my sunglasses and I spent many hours, many, many hours on the trip wishing I had them only to find them when we got back to Chicago and unpacked everything. The whole trip I was missing them terribly and because I didn’t have them everything seemed a bit off. Which was kind of how I felt the entire trip.
One of our tactics was to stop each day that we were on the road at a park to let the boys out to release pent up energy. But surprisingly the boys didn’t mind sitting in the car for long hours eating snacks and watching new movies. In fact, getting them into the parks was sometimes a struggle!
Outside of Indianapolis.
And there were many other stops as well. Our first night we stopped in Louisville, Kentucky. Adam’s buddy from high school, Dave Greenlee, lives there.
They were very hospitable and they seemed so happy to see our brood of offspring. There were in a completely different place, kids in college and nearing the end of high school. They were already on a new venture – moving to the bahamas to build a house. That kind of freedom seems unfathomable right now, but it is only 15 years away if you compare our youngest kid to theirs.
We wanted to take advantage of the hotel pool in Kentucky but we ran out of time after breakfast so the next day we packed up and headed to Lara’s.
It was so nice to see her! The kids loved all the extra attention too.
They hated all the bugs and lack of internet connection in the country, though. We are raising a serious bunch of city kids! Jack almost refused to feed the donkey he was so scared. But he overcame it in the end, which pleased me greatly.
We spent two full days there and everything was a bit off. The first day we walked Main St and took the boys to the candy store. It rained on us the whole time.
Mast General Store.
The next day we decided to go to the gym pool in Lara’s town, it has a zero depth entry and some fun stuff for the kids. After packing up all the swim clothes, floaties and toys we got there to find out it was closed until 1pm.
So we decided to hike. After all we were in North Carolina! Lara pointed us to the closest hike and we drove there. Our sunny day turned into fog and got colder and colder as we headed up the mountain. I didn’t bring jackets, thinking we were swimming. When we got to the hiking spot, the view looked like this…
The picture in front was the only way we knew there was a great view there! Still we hiked it.
It tired the boys out considerably. On the ride to my friend Jennie’s house, the car was silent.
Nothing like having your kids take a late nap right before dinner, right? That always ends well! In fact, Sam started a schedule of napping around 5pm then waking up and crying hysterically for hours. He did that for our dinner at Jennie’s house.
Lara, me and Jennie.
Jennie and her husband Nathan have a really cool yard and beautiful house that make for great entertaining.
Jack and one of Jennie’s sons on the trampoline.
After spending some time with Lara and Jennie I actually felt quite depressed. I know in Chicago I hardly see anyone anymore, adult conversation is hard to come by and when it does I sit there out of practice and ideas. Besides kid conversations I don’t have much to say these days. I don’t have time to read interesting books, catch up with news, see local exhibits or movies, exercise, have hobbies or do anything people might talk about in normal adult conversation.
All my conversations with Jennie and Lara were interrupted. Questions I wanted to ask never were voiced. Sadly I had a better text conversation with Jennie the day after seeing her then I did at her house. All my friends and family with older kids say this time goes quickly so hopefully they will all be waiting for me at the end of this part of my life’s journey!
And still we soldiered on. We spent the next day in Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. Yes, Dollywood. Dolly Parton has her own theme park. Again we bit off more than we could chew. We had four kids with different ideas of what we should do and only two adults. Jack wanted the thrilling roller coasters, Ben was scared to ride anything, even stuff the twins wanted to do, and the twins didn’t understand the concept of waiting in line for your turn to ride.
Luckily Lara and Brandy showed up and took Jack on some of the roller coasters. I told them he has no fear and no height restrictions.
They returned him 3 rides later because he wouldn’t do the more daring rides. He had ripped the roller coaster out of his map of the ride he did ride, it was too scary to enjoy even in hindsight.
In the meantime we took the other kids to a small playground in the park. We realized none of them cared at all about being in a theme park and we could have just found a beach or pool and just camped out there for a week.
That night we checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg. The boys got room service, one of their favorite traveling perks (mine too!) and were able to eat in front of the TV. A real treat! The next morning while Adam worked I took the boys up to the pool, finally.
Another great perk was that this trip I graduated to the mom who sat on the sidelines of the pool instead of going in. Having four boys means someone always has a friend to play with! It only took eight years…
That day we drove back to Indianapolis and stayed at the Downtown Indianapolis Hilton, two blocks from Adam’s office. The next morning we took full advantage of the pool again while he was working.
A few weeks before we left we realized that Adam would have two deals in the pipeline over our road trip, and when we were traveling a third one came in. Adam every afternoon or morning missing out on the family time while he headed down the mountain to connect with the world, if were were in the car he would get us to dinner then hole up in the car and work, or even stop on roadsides to have calls.
We got back last night and had the first night of sleep in a week that didn’t include one or more kids waking us up. It was heavenly.
Next year I’m thinking a staycation might be in order…