With 5 kids ages 6 and under, our first order of business was to make sure Grammy and Granddad were available (June 26 - 27)!
So where does a family of 7+2 go for a "trial run" for a family vacation? How about a day trip to the Crayola Factory...a single night in a hotel...and the grand finale? A family reunion!
Since Crayola is so hands-on, we opted for harnesses, rather than a stroller. The babies LOVED the freedom to roam around and see everything close up. No one was saying "no" and that brought pure joy to their smiles.
As an added bonus: there were crayons! These kids are so deprived by their mother (she's mean, I tell ya'!). She never lets them color at home. She mumbles something about it being too much work...too messy...too many fights over crayons...too much laundry to do...blah blah blah. They sat for hours (okay maybe it just seemed like hours) at the coloring tables and just scribbled their hearts out. At one point, Eli found a marker (meant for tracing a boat on a underlit table) and was laying on his belly on the floor coloring (mostly off) a piece of paper. Too precious.
(Not only ALLOWED to write on the walls with the window markers, but ENCOURAGED to. Zoe was in her creative glory!)
(Who doesn't love sidewalk chalk? Except moms, of course, who can't stand the mess all over the hands and clothes. There goes that mean mom again...)
At some point, we stopped for lunch. McDonald's in the house!!! But here's the issue: No highchairs and no boosters. We were living on the edge! Wild and crazy, that's us! The actual restaurant was packed, so we opted for a picnic table outside.
The big kids' favorite stops were the model magic room, the meltaway corner (painting with melted crayons), and the midnight explosion hall. They also loved the Canal Museum upstairs. They loved the water table that they were able to make their own canals with.
When we'd finished both the Crayola Factory and the Canal Museum, we were off to the hotel for a late afternoon swim. The pool was a big hit.
After we were sufficiently water-logged, I realized I hadn't actually thought about dinner. Shane suggested Applebee's. Seriously? The triplets have NEVER been to a restaurant...ever! Okay, 4 adults and 5 kids...what could go wrong? Let's give it a shot. Know what? Shane's brave idea went off without a hitch (don't mind the lack of pictures, completely forgot to bring my camera).
2/3 of the babies fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. This was ONE of the many times I was thankful to have Mom and Dad with us. I carried Ava up, then went back down for Eli. Shane had to take Cole for another loop...he was WAY too tired to fall asleep in a pack and play. And did I mention that Zoe and Ty were staying in my parent's room?
The next morning, we drove to the reunion...the distance for the babies to nap. They had a great time playing with "cousins" and exploring in the backyard. Just when the babies were starting to show their not-so-pretty side, it was time to pack up and head home.
All-in-all, this was a pretty successful and eye-opening trip. Top 3 lessons learned:
- There's NO WAY we're ready for a family vacation without extra hands.
- We need one of those hamburger case thingies for the top of our minivan.
- "Vacations" with 5 children are NOT vacations (at least not for moms, anyway!)