Ok, not everything went wrong.
Actually, most of it went right. But we did have an unusual number of challenges and misfortunes on our family vacation this past weekend.
We packed up the car early Friday morning, took the Princess to her ballet class and then headed south with bagels late in the morning. The kids were so excited. We would be going to Legoland! They had been counting down the days for weeks. We had packed them each a backpack of fun things to do in the car and had brought along snacks. My husband’s phone’s screen decided to blank out, but he could still receive calls and his work phone was in good shape, so it was no big deal.
Our first misadventure had everything to do with an irresistible red button…. irresistible to a certain 5 year old redheaded boy. We had stopped for food at a gas station with a fast food and store attached to it. It didn’t take long for our son (actually, I take that back- my husband’s son) to shut down the entire gas station- 25 pumps. For each pump that was shut down, a message came over the loud speakers in the restaurant that declared that it was shut down. So my husband and kids (I was in the car, nursing the baby, thankfully) heard this message repeated 25 times.
But seriously- who puts an emergency shut-off button within reach of small children anyway? Shame on them! So other than that, our trip down south was for the most part, uneventful. It was raining by the time we got to the Grapevine and there we got to see the Wienermobile! We all thought that this hot dog car was pretty amusing. There were a few ominous sounds emitting from our engine (this is a foreshadowing of things to come- we really should have paid closer attention to these), but they went away after a short time and we relaxed.
The kids were great the whole way down. They didn’t start getting restless and edgy until dinner time, right at the end of our journey that day. I don’t blame them, I was tired of driving by then as well.
We arrived at our hotel around 6 in the evening and after eating dinner in our hotel room we donned bathing suits to hit the hot tub. Princess K thought that it was so funny to be going to a pool in the dark! After enjoying the warm waters of the pool and hot tub, we went back to our room to wash up and change into our jammies. Then we cuddled up on the bed and watched a Veggie Tale together. It was a delightful evening of family togetherness and fun.
Saturday was a delightful day. We visited with old college friends, wandered around my old college campus, played at a park, and jumped on a trampoline in my friend’s backyard! I was so encouraged and refreshed by my conversations and time with my dear friends and it was difficult to tear ourselves away! Shortstop decided that he was hungry for his brother’s green crayon and it rained a little in the morning, but other than that, it was a perfect day.
That night, Shortstop got sick and woke up every two hours because he was having difficulty breathing through his nose and sucking his thumb (which helps him get to sleep). Poor guy. By morning, he was a little better- though he did have a runny nose and difficulty with sleeping for the remainder of the trip.
The next morning was a little cloudy and misty, but we were happy with that. We were hoping that would keep the crowds away. We managed to get four kids ready and out the door, breakfast eaten, and a diaper bag packed by 9:30. We were in the car and heading for Legoland! The kids were ecstatic!
So it was at this time that our next challenge presented itself. Our car died in the middle of the road. This was not that fun, I’ll admit. Thankfully, the Lord was looking out for us and we managed to get the car back in the hotel parking lot (after a few harrowing moments in the middle of an intersection). Since it was Sunday, there wasn’t much we could do about fixing the car. The rental car place that the hotel front desk guy recommended was closed, so we just called a cab (we got really good at quickly installing our car seats in the various cabs and shuttles we took over the weekend).
Guest services at Legoland was great- we were able to store our three big, bulky, Britax car seats there while we enjoyed our day at Legoland. The weather was a little misty and cloudy, but it was warm, the kids were excited (and they had kept their good attitudes even though it took a little longer to get to Legoland than we had expected), and we had a lot of fun. We spent the next day at Legoland as well- and it was sunny and warm and on both days- there were no crowds and hardly any lines.
Legoland is great for little kids! The rides are gentle and the ride operators are very good at handling “parent swaps.” Since we had Shortstop with us, and Z-urchin was too short to ride half the rides, Hubby and I would take turns taking a kid on the ride while the other stayed with the remaining children in the front of the line or in the exit zone.
They were all utterly fascinated by the Lego Star Wars exhibit and I really enjoyed the mini Lego cities. We also visited the aquarium attached to Legoland and a certain redheaded 5 year old set off a very, very loud alarm in the middle of the aquarium by attempting to exit an emergency exit door. We ducked out of that room quietly and quickly, I assure you.
At the end of the second day, my husband discovered the “Build and Test” center and he and the kids spent an hour building Lego cars and racing them down the ramps they had. I think this was my husband’s favorite part.
We discovered at the end of this day that our car would not be ready in time for us to leave when we planned, so we extended our stay for an extra day. That night Z-urchin got sick- he came down with croup and had that loud barking seal cough. He was up a few times that night with his cough. By morning, all he had left was a runny nose.
That extra day was so relaxing. We took the hotel shuttle to the Carlsbad outlets and had lunch and ice cream there. We spent the rest of the day relaxing. Hubby took the older kids to the hot tub and then spent Z’s naptime building Star Wars ships out of Lego kits they had bought at Legoland. I read, napped, and relaxed. Our laptop died. Completely. Of course.
Our car was ready in time for us to go out to dinner- McDonalds with a great indoor playplace! That night, Princess K wanted to go swimming in the dark again (she thought it was so funny!), so we all went to the hot tub and had the whole pool area to ourselves. It was very nice.
The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and then packed the kids and stuff into the car and headed north. The older two caught the mild cold that the younger boys had, but since the trip up did not involve any emergency buttons or doors or alarms going off, I say it was a great success.
Really, other than the emergency shut-off, the car dying, the emergency door alarm situation, the laptop dying, and the four sick kids, this was the best family vacation we’ve ever taken with four children! Also, it is the first family vacation we’ve taken with four kids. It can only get better from here, right? Truthfully, it was wonderful family time. The kids had great attitudes and got along well. They were so excited about all of our adventures and Hubby and I were able to laugh (you know, for the most part) in the face of our difficulties. He and I had a lot of time to just talk and so I am just so thankful for our weekend away.
Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!