About 3 months ago, Jeff decided to take a week off and we spent a week at home, just relaxing and doing things around the Houston area. At the end of the week, I told Jeff that I felt so rested and re-energized. Having him home to help with the three boys, getting to sleep in, taking naps and not having to cook very much for a week, was a great way for a stay at home to get refueled.
At the end of that same week, I was listening to our local christian radio station and a segment from Focus on the Family came on. The guy was saying that families, especially families that have small children, need to have days or a week where we rest, recover and regroup. I was telling Jeff about it and told him that about every three months, I would like to take a week and do my best to relax and put my normal everyday chores aside and rest, recover and regroup.
This past week, we did just that. We took a family trip to Westcliffe, Colorado and we had a blast!!! Now, I'm not going to lie, we had a very rocky start, but I honestly don't think you can call it a vacation unless something happens right before, during or right after you get back from a vacation. When I was child and we took our family vacations, it seemed like something always happened, thankfully, nothing tragic, but something. There was one time we started to lose our bikes off the back of our trailer while driving down a major highway, my grandma's pants started to catch on fire from sitting to close to the fire pit, and the list goes on. As much as you hope and pray for an uneventful trip, something is always going to happen. Hopefully, it's something you can look back on and have a good laugh about it.
Well, for our trip, it was no different and even though we will probably, one day, look back on this trip and have a few chuckles, I don't think I am quite there yet. You see, we were supposed to leave on a Wednesday. The Saturday before, my oldest, Joseph, runs to me and says he pooed in his pants. Seeing how that's not normal for him, I assisted him to the bathroom. He got cleaned up, changed his clothes and it happened again about 20 minutes later. And just like that, he had diarrhea. All I could think was that we had five days to get him well and keep the rest of us from getting it. The next morning, Jeff woke up to Joseph vomiting in the kitchen and the rest of the day was him making frequent stops to the bathroom. About 24 hours after Joseph first started getting sick, Nathan started having issues.
The next 3 days consisted of the boys laying on the couch, watching movies, drinking lots and lots of fluids, and finally that Tuesday, the day before we left, I started them on the B.R.A.T diet because they didn't seem to be getting any better. We made it through Tuesday and by that evening, we really thought that everyone was on the mend. Wednesday finally arrived and we were all so excited to get to the cabin and be with Jeff's sisters, their husbands and their kiddos. We made our first stop at the Buccee's in Madisonville and the boys had picked out some donuts. Joseph wanted his entire 6 pack of donuts, but we wanted to take it slow, so we just gave him three and we told him if he could keep those 'in' for longer than 30 minutes, he could have the rest. About 20 minutes later we made our first stop for him. Right away, I was thinking this was going to be a looooonnnnnggg trip. From that time on, we just gave Joseph saltines and more Gatorade and apple juice.
We made it all the way to Wichita Falls without any big blow out, until Jeff went to get Nathan out of the car at our stop at a McDonalds. As soon as Jeff took him out of the van, Nathan threw up in the parking lot. Nathan threw up two more times while we were at McDonald's. This was obviously a HUGE let down. We went ahead and took the older two to the play area and let them have a sprite. They didn't have much interest in playing, and then Christian told me he had to go to the bathroom. So away we went and as we went into the bathroom, Joseph told me he needed to go. I was obviously more concerned about Joseph and what his progress was like so I was with him and then C told me he was done and as I went to assist him, I was greeted with him saying ,"look Mama, it's an ant pile." As I glanced over the rim of the toilet, I was blown away at the amount of poo in the toilet. Honestly, I have never ever seen so much. Again, another let down. We then loaded up and I told Jeff that I felt like crying. I wasn't worried about my boys being sick on our vacation, but worried about the fact that we were going to be staying in the same cabin with four other adults and seven other kiddos. I honestly didn't want to be responsible for getting everyone else sick and potentially ruining their vacations.
We continued on to Amarillo and all three boys were doing great. We played it safe and made a trip to the local Walmart and stocked up on Gatorade, soups, saltines and regular cheerios. That was their diet for the next 24 hours. This seemed to work and by the time we arrived at the cabin, all three boys were in good health and spirits. What we think happened with Nathan was the 2 days before we left, he had been on such a bland and light diet, then was put in a car for 7 hours eating nothing but junk, the food didn't set right and then when being jostled a little, it made him spew. As for Christian, I think he just cleaned out his system because he was eating everything the other two were days before we left: soup, toast, crackers, so not a heavy diet at all and I just think he got cleaned out.
I do apologize that that may have been a little too much info, but that is the reality of traveling with young children. Once we got to the cabin and it appeared that everyone was on the mend, we were ready to have a blast. We spent five days with Jeff's sisters and their husbands and all their wonderful kiddos. There was a total of 16 people in the cabin at once and it was a blast! All the kids get along really well as well as all the adults so it makes for a very exciting time.
Some things we did while in Colorado: Played ping pong, games, watched movies, played with foam airplanes, played with a little rocket thingy (it didn't flame or anything), rode a little wooden cart down hill, hiked, played in a river, went to town and had ice cream and pizza, Joseph and Jeff went hiking up a mountain, built forts, used slingshots, had s'mores and went to the North Pole.
Our 5 year old was defiantly the easiest of the three. The trip up there, he did fantastic. I think he was just super excited to be out of the house. Since he had been sick since that Saturday, we had laid low for 4 full days doing nothing but drinking Gatorade, eating bland foods and watching movies. Needless to say, this kid had an insane amount of energy by the time we arrived at our hotel in Amarillo. You want to talk about extreme combustion: have three boys on lock down mode for three days drinking sugary drinks, put them in a car for 10 hours with more sugary drinks, then in a hotel room....holy moley!! All three boys were INSANELY energized! The day we were leaving Amarillo, he asked for food, he didn't say he was hungry, he wanted FOOD! Who could blame him? At some point that day, he asked to go to McDonald's, which he rarely ever asks to eat there. Poor thing probably wanted a big juicy hamburger and fries to make up for those past 4 days.
On the way back to Texas, he struggled quite a bit. I knew he had to be extremely exhausted because he did nothing but wake up early, play from the time he woke up till he laid his head down at night, and stayed up late every night we were gone. At one point in the car on the way back, I told him to lay his head down and when he did, he was out for at least an hour or so!
I honestly don't feel like I saw him much while we were at the cabin. He was so distracted playing with all his cousins that he didn't have much time for mom or dad. He learned how to use a slingshot while he was there. He hiked up a trail with his three older cousins, his uncle Kyle and his Dada. At the North Pole, he rode everything! This makes me so happy because when you spend that much money you really want your kids to be able to enjoy it and he did. He even rode rides on his own...such a big boy! Oh, while in our hotel room in Amarillo, he pulled out his second tooth! This kid is growing up so fast!
Christian is our easiest car rider. He did great on the ride up to Colorado and on the way back. This kid is either sucking his thumb and taking in all the sights or sleeping! Such a fantastic traveler! Other than the "ant pile" that he left in the toilet in Wichita Falls, and I literally mean 'left' (You know how almost all public toilets are automatic? Well, this one wasn't sensing him having gotten off the toilet so it didn't flush. I sat there and tried and tried and tried to get it to flush to no avail. I felt bad about leaving such a gift, but what can you do?), he was pretty healthy. The first full day we were in Colorado, he struggled with the altitude, just like his Daddy! He was super grumpy, fussy and moody, and if know our C-bear, you know that isn't normal for him. We walked down to the river the first day we were there and he did nothing but cry and whine about being tired and wanting to go back home (to Houston, not the cabin). Once we got back, he was upset about something and just lost control of himself so I told him to lay down for 5 minutes and when he laid down, he asked for a pillow, so I knew he wasn't getting up anytime soon. He fell asleep at 11a and slept till about 1p. That night, in the middle of the night, I could hear him starting to get up. I hopped out of bed to meet him to tell him to go lay back down. He met me at the end of his mattress, pointing to his nose, so I took him to the bathroom. The poor little guy had a horrible nose bleed. It was all over his face, hands and feet (I have no idea..). The next morning, I noticed he had gotten blood on the walls and on their air mattress. Then that same night, about two hours after the nose bleed, I wake up to Jeff darting out of bed. When I came to, I could hear Christian choking. I went to the bathroom to find him over the toilet puking up dry blood. The next day he woke up a little pale, but after a morning nap in the car while the rest of us played at the park (don't call cps, the parking lot is right next to the park, and it was in the very low 70's), he pinked up and was himself the rest of the trip.
He was so much fun to take to the North Pole. I honestly had no idea how he would do. Even though he is my fearless one, he sometimes wants nothing to do with rides or water slides. However, that wasn't the case for the North Pole. He rode everything Joseph did and loved it. There was only one ride that he looked like he was going to lose his lunch and another ride he told me straight up he didn't like, but other than those two rides, he had a blast.
A highlight from this vacation was watching Christian and his cousin, Phillip, who is 2 days older than him, bond. It was really fun to see them giggling and having such a good time together.
A really funny story involving Christian was when we were at our hotel in Colorado Springs, I took the older two boys down to go swimming with their cousins and as we got to the pool area, there was a very clean glass divider. On one side there were some arcade games, one being a race car game, the other side of the glass divider was the walkway to the pool. C immediately ran to the race car and I said, "this way buddy," he then stopped and turned without really looking. BAM! smack into the glass. Joseph and I could not stop laughing and Christian, of course, had a pretty good sense of humor about it. As we were leaving the pool that night, we had to walk past the glass again and you could see his hand and forehead print.
A not so funny story was the night we stayed in Wichita Falls on the way back to Texas. Christian decided to jump in the pool without his puddle jumper!! Thankfully, my sister in law was attentive and Jeff was able to grab him immediately! This kid is fearless and careless!
Nathan did pretty well for a 20 month old. Anytime you plan a trip with a baby, you tend to worry about how they are going to do in the car. He is at that age where movies don't distract him and if decides he wants to be done with the car seat, it can be very difficult to persuade him with snacks or drinks. On the way there the only time that he was fussy was right before his naps. He would just scream and cry for about 5 minutes and then be out for almost 2 hours. But on the way back, he struggled right along with big brother Joseph. He wanted to be done with the car seat!
When we first arrived at the cabin, he was pretty cranky and would scream if any other child got near him. I kept thinking to myself that it was going to be a really long week if he continued with that behavior. The next day, he did great and continued to do great the rest of the trip. Other than the vomiting in the McDonald's parking lot and twice on his Dada (while in McDonald's), he was pretty healthy and didn't have a hard time with the altitude.
He loved being outside! He enjoyed the rides at the North Pole and he did great at all the hotels we stayed in! He also enjoyed his first s'more!
Jeff and I both had a great time once we arrived. We were both a little nervous with the boys being sick and being in a house full of kids. Once we felt comfortable about the boys being healthy, we began to enjoy our vacation. It was so nice to have Jeff as our navigator (he does such a great job of planning and reserving hotel rooms), it makes our trips so relaxed and easy going. I also enjoyed having other mom's to help cook and clean up. It's really nice to get a break from the normal, every day routines.
We have such sweet and amazing siblings, nieces and nephews that it makes trips like this so much fun and memorable. I am already looking forward to the next time that we get to do this.
Other than the boys being sick before the trip, the only other bump in the road that we came across was we thought we had lost Jeff's car keys. It was pretty frustrating at the time. It's Monday, the day we are leaving the cabin for good to go to the North Pole and stay the night in Colorado Springs before heading back home. Everyone is gathering up their kids and Jeff comes to me and asks where his keys are. Now one thing you need to know about Jeff is that he ALWAYS has his keys on him. Right away I was thinking, okay, there are 10 kids in the house, 3 of them are a year old and two are pre-schoolers. At this point, I am thinking the worst; keys have been flushed down the toilet, been thrown in the trash can. Then I remember I was the last to have them and started to feel really sick to my stomach because I was one responsible for holding everyone up. I think back to the last place I had them and could HAVE SWORN I put them back on the dresser where they had been all week. I skimmed through my diaper bag and Jeff started going through our clothes, luggage, dirty laundry. Then all the adults started going through all the rooms and our vehicle. After about 15 minutes of looking, Jeff decided to go through my diaper bag again and there they were, PHEW!! Lesson learned: always take both sets of keys!!!! This was the first time that we have ever traveled that I didn't take my set and look what happened. As we were searching like madmen and women, I asked my 3 year old if he knew where the keys were. He said he hid them but couldn't remember where. After we found them, I asked him if he hid them in my diaper bag and he says he did, but I honestly don't know if that's what happened.
I want to say here that I am so incredibly thankful for my sister and brother's in law and the grace they showed our family at the time. They knew that we were upset and sick about it and instead of being annoyed or ugly about being irresponsible, they jumped in immediately and helped us search. And when we found them in a place that I had first looked, they weren't upset or annoyed. They are some amazing individuals!!
It was very difficult to leave such a beautiful place where we wore sweaters and jackets every day, didn't have to put on mosquito spray once and were able enjoy the amazing mountains. Now that we are back into our normal routine and every day activities, we are getting geared up for what's left on our summer agenda: Mimi and Papaw visiting, family reunion, college friends reunion, and visiting Mimi and Papaw. We can't wait!!