We took a family vacation earlier this week. To quote a friend and fellow twin mom, “it was a trip, not a vacation.” Traveling with young children has its challenges, especially two children who thrive on their routine and sleep…as well as the two parents.
My parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, which is awesome, and generously offered to rent a cabin in Gatlinburg for the whole family. Jeremy and I decided to go for three nights so we rented a minivan and hit the road on Sunday. The kids were excited for “cation” with their car seats facing forward for the first time and their new sleeping bags. We had a couple of new road trip CDs, snacks, and great weather.
My parents and brother, along with his wife and kids went down the day before. Unfortunately, the original cabin was flooded so an alternate cabin was offered. It was not in the heart of Gatlinburg and was a bit smaller, but would suffice. Jeremy was apprehensive, considering we were staying on the side of a cliff (he doesn’t like heights) and there were large carpenter bees buzzing around (he doesn’t like bees due to an incident with a nest of yellow jackets as a kid). I texted his mom commenting that it was like Jeremy’s own personal hell. She replied to keep him well lubricated and feed him some red meat. It cracked me up…and I did exactly as she instructed.
The challenge with our kids started at bedtime. I created a sleeping space next to our bed. Grant and Maria would be lying next to one another…I thought it would be comforting. Not so much. Grant took to irritating the tar out of Maria to the point where I put him up in our bed until he fell asleep at which time I moved his floor bed away from Maria and put him in his sleeping bag. They seemed to be sleeping fine. Unfortunately, my nephew came down with a stomach bug and due to the lack of insulation or sound dampening in the cabin, it was hard to ignore. Grant ended up in our bed and Maria flopped around on the floor like a fish. She seemed to be sleeping, so I didn’t get her. Needless to say, it was sleepless night for Jeremy and me.
The next day, we headed into the national park and found a kid friendly trail. Grant and Maria had a wonderful time throwing rocks into the stream, picking up sticks, and jumping off logs. We enjoyed the day in Gatlinburg and headed back to the cabin tired from the big adventure. Jeremy and I fixed pizzas for the family and we mentally prepared to cheer on the Cardinals in the NCAA national championship basketball game.
Night two proved to be as sleepless as night one and Jeremy and I decided that it was time to go home. Given my nephew’s intermittent vomiting, the smaller than expected living quarters, Grant’s growing obstinacy (which is a side effect of fatigue) and Maria’s declaration of “I want to go home,” at three o’clock in the morning, it was the right thing to do for everyone’s sanity and health.
We packed our van and headed home and enjoy my last day off work with a family zoo date. On our way home, we stopped through Knoxville and got to introduce the kids to some of the NEDC staff including Dr. Carol Sommerfelt. She is the embryologist who so carefully got Grant and Maria, as well as so many other NEDC babies, out of the freezer. Grant and Maria don’t understand now, but I’m so thankful we got the opportunity to visit.
Thankfully, we arrived home safely, Maria declared that her bed was “her favorite one!” and subsequently slept 13 ½ hours. We are planning another trip with the four of us later this summer. Until then, we will enjoy our routine and quiet comfort of our own beds.