Going on vacation with kids is a far different animal than an adult vacation. It's fun in its own right, but relaxing it is not. In less than 24 hours, we will be heading to my dad's farm in upstate New York in a caravan of two SUV's stuffed to the roof with air mattresses, rafts, suitcases, coolers, games, and kids. My mom and I depart at the crack of dawn with the three stooges while Abigail and Paige will enjoy a more peaceful car ride with James mid-day after his shift at work. I'm really excited about six hours of bickering and snack (drink) demands. And "are-we-there-yet's".
Our destination is a legit tree farm. For those of you who know my dad, farming is not an image that may pop into your mind. But he has a passion for lumber and anything John Deere and despite his inability to find his way out of a paper bag (a trait I unfortunately inherited), he affirms that if you plunk him anywhere on his 1,000 acres of farmland, he knows exactly where he is and how to navigate home. I might put this claim to the test.
I'm looking forward to a different sort of vacation for us - one that centers on the great outdoors with miles of woods to (drink) explore, four-wheel gators to cruise around on, and nighttime (drink) bonfires. Maybe we'll see a bear or a bobcat. Though, if we do, I'm not sure I'm prepared for Kaleb's deafening girl shrieks. Honestly, the kid freaks out if he sees a beetle in the pool. Maybe this trip will put some hair on his chest.
What I'm not looking (drink) forward to is dealing with the logistics associated with traveling with five kids. I'm not just talking about the car ride. Or the packing (which is close to complete - I just brought everything and called it a day). It's the arrival. For the kids, the arrival is the moment the vacation really starts. For the grown-ups, it's the moment we want the vacation to start, but must deal with the ultimate task of settling in.
Our family is very accustomed to adapting (drink) to a new temporary home. When we vacation, we almost always rent a house. Hotels are not only cost prohibitive for a family of seven, but it's nearly impossible to find a suite or adjoining rooms conducive to our family dynamics. Plus, there's no way I can go a day without doing laundry so a washer/dryer is required. My dad's farm happens to have a guest cottage that will fit our family comfortably so our arrival will be much like any other vacation commencing with the kids spilling out of the car before it even stops and stampeding into the house to scope out their new digs. There will be long deliberations over who gets which room, who bunks with who, and who gets the blow-up mattresses versus actual beds.
They'll make themselves right at home kicking shoes off wherever they happen to land, opening every single cupboard, flipping light switches to see what they do, initiating a game of hide-and-seek, and peeing in toilets without flushing. Meanwhile, the adults are lugging in enough supplies to last a small army a month even though we're only staying four days. All I want (drink) to do is take a shower, organize my own belongings, and pop open a bottle of bubbly, but instead, I find myself making up beds, assigning dresser drawers, and sending James off to procure groceries which is challenging because you never know what the house is equipped with. Do we need cooking spray? Salt? Coffee? Is (drink) there even a coffee maker? It literally takes hours to organize everything, and it doesn't help (drink) that the kids are hungry and tired and we have no food yet to shut them up.
The travel/settling day of vacation always feels like the longest day of my life. You know those days when you're finally about to hit the sack and you think back to that morning and it seems like months ago? That's what tomorrow has in store for us. But it will be worth it. There's something magical about getting away from regular life. Even (drink) if there is still laundry and cooking and picking up socks and shoes. Somehow it feels different; less obligatory. The journey to get there may seem endless, but it is all part of it. Maybe it won't be that bad. I'll let you know. Probably it will suck.