tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the tag “vacation”

Giving new meaning to “a day at the beach” and “a walk in the park”

A day at the beach.

A day at the beach.

So yesterday I took my three boys to the beach for the first time and afterwards we went to play at a nearby park. This got me thinking about sayings like, “it was a walk in the park,” meaning something is easy, or references to, “a day at the beach,” meaning relaxing and peaceful, (which probably initially helped prompt my desire to make this trip). But as I experienced this day at the beach and walk in the park, it occurred to me that the people who came up with these saying, obviously did not have kids with them at the time.

I vaguely remember a time when parks where things I strolled through leisurely and beaches were places where I relaxed in the sand with a trashy magazine while working on my tan. Maybe that’s why I still had this misconceived idea that spending a day at the beach with my kids would mean blissful hours of sand castle building while I sipped an ice tea and caught up on celebrity gossip, then joyfully splashing in the waves to cool off, followed by relaxing on a bench while the kids went down slides, swung on swings, and frolicked at the park. That wasn’t the case though. Once you have children, outings that you once found enjoyable morph into soul crushing battles of the will and wits.

First off, just to get ready to go on any kind of outing with three kids is a process. My husband often times laments the days when, if we wanted to go somewhere, we just got up and went. Now, I must pack for any possible situation and even for ones that might not be possible (because with three boys, anything really is possible). To go to the beach yesterday, I began packing the night before and was still packing things right up until the moment I walked out the door. In total I brought four different bags (one with bags within the bag), a sleeping bag, a stroller, and one more bag of things I picked up at the store last minute. The drive there wasn’t too bad (thanks the inventor of portable DVD player and wireless headsets). Once we arrived, I had to change the boys in the van, since we came straight from camp, and then the unloading of all the previous mentioned things began. Being the only adult, I couldn’t possibly carry all those things alone, so I had to load the stroller as full as possible, which really didn’t leave room for kids. We had to park up the street from the beach, so I had to wrangle the two kids, who didn’t fit into the stroller, and the two bags, that didn’t fit, and the stroller, about two blocks to the beach. Of course, once we reached the actual beach, the stroller had to be abandoned and I had to drag everything across the hot sand to the location in which we were going to set up camp. The kids, of course, wanted to immediately run into the water, but we still had to squeeze water shoes on and lather our bodies in sun screen. Once that was done, we were ready to joyfully splash in the water. Well, the was definitely splashing, but it was less than joyful. They were splashing each other, they were splashing others, at one point my oldest dumped a bucket of water on some poor, unsuspecting boy whom he thought was his brother. Then there was the rock, sand, and seaweed throwing. Oh and did I mention that watching small children around water, especially wavy water, is far from relaxing or fun? When we were done in the water and ready for a break, it was time for a snack, which consisted of a little of everything that I’d packed mixed with fistfuls of sand, and then a reapplying of sun screen, which felt more like a sand scrub thanks to the copious amounts of sand stuck to our bodies. Then there were the multiple trips to the bathroom in which all four of us trekked across the sand carrying anything of valuable with us, only to make the trek again ten minutes later when someone else now needed to use the bathroom. At this point, it was time for some blissful sand castle making. Yes, this was my moment to really relax and read a magazine or newspaper; right after I settled the fight over who got to use which pail (after all, we only had four pails and three boys, so why would it work out that everyone got a bucket?). I managed to make it to the third page of my paper before I had to talk to the boys about flinging sand. After the tenth time I talked to them about this, I managed to return to my paper and get a few more pages in before I had to tell them to dig separate holes since they were fighting over it. I was so close to finishing my short, local paper, when the screams began, the shovels full of sand flew at faces, and one of the boys ended up pushed down into the sand. Eh, there really wasn’t anything all that interesting in the paper anyway, time to pack up all this crap and hit the showers. So, I pack up everything, I drag it across the sand to the stroller, and then I push three boys and all our stuff, now hap-hazardly thrown onto the stroller, over to the showers were it becomes a full on wrestling match to get the boys to rinse off the sand from their bodies and to keep them from going back into the sand.

At this point, it was time to grab some dinner and call it a day. Aside from my middle child deciding to lay on the floor and throw a fit every chance he got, dinner went rather smoothly (I’m sure the promise of ice cream to anyone who was good had nothing to do with it). In fact, dinner went so well that I decided to venture to the park around the corner to burn off any left over energy they had before we started the drive home. I figured, a frolic in the park would be the perfect way to end the day, which was already beginning to have a nostalgic haze, thanks to the ice cream comma I was slipping into. Unfortunately, frolic seems to have a totally different meaning for boys. Apparently frolic means, running around like crazy, climbing up slides, jumping off things way too high, charging head first at moving swings, and trying to kill yourself and/or give your mother even more grey hairs. I knew it was time to call it a day when my not-quite-two year old got plowed over by his swinging oldest brother and took a fall that would make his chiropractor cringe, coming up with a face (and mouth) full of wood chips. Oh yes, it was now time to head home and watch as these tired little guys passed out, leaving me with the easy bedtime of carrying them and all the wet, sandy bags in from the car. Ha, ha, ha, like it would be that easy! Only the youngest fell asleep on the way hope and he promptly woke up the second the car pulled into the driveway. The older two, who were so close to snoozeville, quickly perked up as soon as they walked into the house and saw that their dad was home. So much for that plan.

Of course, despite all that didn’t go the way I intended, and my dreamy little picture of that day being smashed, I must be a glutton for punishment, because on the ride home, I asked my two older boys if they had had fun and wanted to do it again another day. Of course they’d had fun and wanted to do it again! After all, they’d just had a day at the beach and a walk in the park. And you know what, I had too.


When vacations go bad: tales of a toxic trip

TMI warning: do not read if you cannot handle human bodily functions.

I need to get the toxins from this last “vacation” out of my system. So as a sit in the bath, trying to wash away the memories of the last few days, I decided that the best way to do that was to put it all out into cyberspace.

With only a week left until we move into our new home, the three boys and I ventured off on a “family vacation.” It was only a family vacation because we were traveling back to our previous habitat in the desert to meet up with family that still live there and more family that were coming in from out of town. Our family, however, was not complete because my husband stayed behind to work and we would not have chosen this location for our vacation had it been a true family vacation. Of course, after the events of the past few days, I’m not sure any of us will choose this location as a vacation destination again.

The trip started off beautifully, a little over a week ago. All three boys behaved nicely on the airplane back to the desert. The fact that the boys behaved so well on our first flight without Dad since the third son was born should have been the first sign that something was amiss and that I would pay later. Upon arriving in the desert, the two youngest and my sinuses instantly flared with allergies that we thought we had left long behind. Our skin began to shrivel and dry as if we were never once accustomed to the desert climate. Noses ran like faucets, throat stung like cacti, and hacking coughs sounded throughout the night like a coyote’s howl. Yet we sallied forth knowing that they were only allergies and could not keep us from the once a year rendezvoused we had with our cousins. Everyone was getting along. Sure there were the usual family squabbles; grandparents becoming overwrought with too many grandchildren in their house at once, siblings razzing siblings, arguments over who had dibs on the next margarita out of the blender; but everything was going well. that’s when the second omen occurred. It snowed in the desert (or at least in all the surrounding towns but where we were). Not quite as biblical as raining frogs, but we’re talking about a place where the slightest bit of rain garners breaking news updates as if it were the hurricane of the century, so snow is kind of a big deal. That’s when I made, what I believe to be, my crucial mistake; we went to the kid pit at the mall. We didn’t stay long, but I forgot to bathe my children in sanitizer when we were finished and then fed them a snack. After that, things took a real turn for the worse.

My kids went to sleep relatively easily (which I should have taken as sign #3), so I thought that I’d actually get to hang out and have drinks with my siblings. By 9:00, my middle child woke up very unhappy. I went into him just in time to move him away from the mattress that his two other brothers slept on before he vomited all over me and himself. I quickly moved him to the bathroom where he vomited more before I could get him near the toilet. I screamed for help, unsure if he got it on either of his brothers or had woken them, and waited an eternity for my befuddled mother to come in to help. Apparently once you get your kids through childhood, you don’t deal much with other people puking and begin to lose that quick response and sense of know-how that parents of young children seem to have. So I began barking orders like a drill Sargent while quietly praying between breaths that it was just food poisoning. Once we thought he was done, I changed both our sets of clothing and brought him out to the greatroom area (living/dining room combo for those of you unfamiliar) and began trying to figure out what to do about sleeping arrangements. That’s about when he projectile vomited all over the floor and us again. My dear old dad didn’t miss a beat, he looked over at the mess and promptly turned up the volume on the crime drama he was watching. Some shuffling of sleeping arrangements was done (thanks to my sister), more silent prayers were said, and I took my two youngest to bed with a puke bucket in hand. A few hours later, we did a similar song and dance. My mom came in to help, this time with her “puking child” wits about her, and for good reason. Apparently she had already dealt with my oldest puking all over himself as he sleep in her room several times. I still secretly held out hope of food poisoning since the two of them shared the same thing for dinner, but even more secretly, I was trying to keep down the possible reality of the situation along with my own dinner. Fast forward several restless and sometimes puke filled hours later to late the next morning. I was roused from my second attempt at sleeping by my middle child spewing strawberries slices in the hallway and my youngest reacting with an incredibly scared shriek. I then receive confirmation that it was not food poisoning. My poor youngest niece had puked in the car on the way to breakfast, while sitting in the restaurant during breakfast, and then again on the way home from breakfast. After another change job, I take my son and the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach back to bed. Fast forward a few more hours and it is my turn with the puke bucket. Back to sleep again and I awake to an empty bed and voices from the next room asking my middle son if he is okay and my niece saying “I think he’s going to puke again.” I scramble to get out of bed as I hear my son puking across the room in what feels more like a museum of things kids shouldn’t touch than a living room. Now where exactly the puke landed, I will not say in case my mother reads this, but I will say thank god for my sister and her powers of cleaning. It is a good thing that my parents are old and therefor slow when they go out to the store (I love you mom). That day was topped of with yet another of the clan following victim to the stomach virus from hell when my oldest niece took to the puke bucket.

The next day we thought we were all on the mend. My oldest niece was still weak, but had stopped puking. So we all headed off to the zoo with multiple strollers for puke weakened children. Sure, not the best idea, but it was our last day in town and we had more family to meet up with. It was a tiring excursion, but no major problems. On the drive home my two youngest fell asleep. When we got to the house, my middle child wanted to continue sleeping, but instead, wandered around the house until after everyone was bathed and then threw up all over us both again. I treaded lightly with him that night, fearful because the next day was our flight home. He ended up being okay, despite a few scary moments, but my nephew then started throwing up, as well as having it come out the other end, all over the bed. Him seemed better by this morning, but then it was my brother-in-laws turn, only hours before a six hour flight with a layover. I don’t think any of us could get out of there fast enough. With only the memory of the last few days, I’m not sure any of us ever want to go back. My middle child is so traumatized that he now associates Nana’s house with throwing up.

By some miracle, we all made it to our final destinations without incident. My sister texted me that they had gotten home okay, but now she was feeling sick. I breathed a sigh of relief that it seemed to be done for at least my family. Ten minutes after my sister’s text, while my husband was at the store, I hear my oldest yell to me from the bathroom “Mom, I pooped myself.” This is when we get the shit cherry on the puke sundae. I go into to find that not only had he pooped his pants, but he must have tried to take his pants off after making this discovery. There was poop everywhere, all over the freshly cleaned bathroom. Not to be overly graphic, but it was in his underwear, on his jeans, his socks, all down his legs, on the floor, and all over the white towel. My stomach was just starting to feel better, but was still a little queasy after lunch today, and this did not help the cause. I began to retch as I attempted to clean it up and end up running for the other bathroom before getting very far. I called my husband frantic, praying that he was close, but he wasn’t close enough. So I ventured in again, trying to come up for air frequent enough that I didn’t puke all over my son. Despite this tactic, I was overtaken again and ran for the other bathroom only to find my 3 year old pooping on that toilet. Luckily I managed to keep myself from puking all over the only other bathroom and my husband finally showed up.

So now the kids are bathed and I am too and I really hope that this is truly over. Hopefully neither one for my parents end up with it and if my sister does get it, it moves quickly. I think we all just need to have a little selective amnesia and forget this toxic trip, or at least the last half of it. I say instead of meeting at my parent’s house for our annual family vacation next year, we take a real vacation and meet at an all inclusive resort where the only reason someone might get sick is from too many drinks, not that that’s any fun when you are parenting, but that’s a story for another time.

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