Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vaca - First as a family of 6

Earlier in July, we took our first family vacation since Maggie joined our family. I use the word "vacation" loosely. We were only gone 3 days and 2 nights! But it was enough for us!  

We went to Indy, only a couple hours drive.  We didn't know how Maggie would handle a strange bed in a strange place after all these months of providing her with stability and routine.  Plus, hey, our other kiddos don't handle change that well either! So we wanted to keep it close and simple.  

We did a lot in those 3 days.  We visited a cool place called Conner Prairie, which is an interactive history park.   We got to learn about the way life used to be.  We got to see old homes, an old schoolhouse, a blacksmith (Ben's absolute favorite and apparently his new career aspiration), a barn with live animals to pet (some of which were less than 24 hours old!), a general store, see a looming demonstration, make our own candles, see a Native American hut, etc.  Very cool.

The next day we hit the Children's Museum.  It was very cool and a little overwhelming. We wanted to see as much of it as we could and do things that were age-appropriate for everyone.  They enjoyed it, but it was a lot in one day.  In addition to their regular things, they also have a China exhibit right now, which we tried to soak up a little of as well.

Later that day we rented a paddle boat on the canal, which was really cool.  However, we went a little farther than we should have for the short attention spans, and the trip back was a little hairy. I finally got out of the boat with Maggie and walked back with her alongside the canal; she was too wiggly!

Then my oldest son decided it was okay to pee on a tree in the state park in front of a state trooper.  
Fun times.

The last day was probably our favorite. The zoo there is very cool, much smaller than our zoo, so very doable for our crew. We got to pet sharks, see a dolphin show and dog show, feed birds (their very favorite thing for some reason!) and be outside on a beautiful day.  

We made a lot of great memories and got to do some things we had been wanting to do for a long time with the kids. But keeping it real, it was not the easiest 3 days!

Allie really struggled with the change in her routine.  Although her behavior has been somewhat better the last month or so, she slipped back into her frequent tantrums while we were away and it was stressful for all of us.  Ben I think was a little bored with some of what we did and would have much rather just stayed at the hotel to swim the entire time. 

Sam and Maggie were our champions of the trip!  Maggie was pleasantly, surprisingly great.
Maggie is not a nap-on-the go type kid, but thankfully she took a cat-nap in the stroller for about 45 minutes each day.  She was overall very easy going and handled all the activity well. 

Sleep was the hardest part, as it always is for our kiddos.   We had a one bedroom suite, with 2 double beds in it. We decided for us all to sleep in there and reserve the other room with the couch/TV for being awake.  Maggie slept in a hotel crib, Allie in a pack n play (which she is WAY too big for, but she loves it and I think she feels safe in the small space), the boys in 1 bed and us in the other.  That's a whole lotta closeness in one small room!  Yikes.

The first night in the hotel room was NOT pretty, though, trying to get Maggie to sleep in a strange bed. She screamed for probably over an hour. The kids were SO cute, we could hear them singing song after song to her to comfort her, Ben even got in the crib with her for a while.  She finally passed out and thankfully slept through the night. The 2nd night was much easier.  

Meals are also VERY difficult when we travel.  Sam's egg allergy is a constant stress and strain on us.  Egg is in so much food and he cannot have even the smallest amount of egg cooked in something. So trying to find safe things for him at the various places we went was not easy.  It's frustrating that places aren't better about being aware of what's in their food and having ingredient lists readily available.  The hotel breakfast was awful, they didn't have ingredients listed on anything.  He's also getting increasingly frustrated (understandably!) with having to eat something different from the rest of us, so we try to have all the kids get the same egg-free thing when we can.  Meals can take so much longer with having to figure out what he can eat first, and we're all tired and hungry and needing to refuel. Plus the cost of food at the places we visited was outrageous.  One of the only things he could eat the zoo was a hot dog; the kid's meal hot dog was SEVEN DOLLARS .... AND.... he couldn't eat the bun because it contained egg. He cried for a while over that one, and we cried over the cost of buying each of us a hot dog meal....after we spent a ridiculous amount of time going from place to place inquiring about ingredients.  They don't allow outside food, although next time we will be bringing our own regardless of that policy.

Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed ourselves and don't regret going at all. But as my friends in bible study keep reminding me, this is just a trying, challenging time in our lives right now with 4 young kids.  Going out of town, changing our routine, simply feeding them is a challenge! I'm so glad we did it, though, and I know overall they loved it.  

We had one day left after that at home before Jeremy had to go back to work. We spent time playing at the river and visiting our local candy store.  Perfect ending!

Here's some shots of our memorable little vaca.

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