I have no idea where to even begin! I guess by saying… in the girls eyes the vacation was amazingly fun… in my eyes, it was very stressful! I’m beginning to think that the key to lifelong happiness is to see life through the eyes of a child. Everything is wonderful and fun to my girls! But, as a friend told me…
Traveling with toddlers is a trip, not a vacation!
We left home last Monday and stopped at the zoo in Des Moines on the way to Kansas City. It was really just a way to break up the day for the girls. The DM zoo was surprisingly good, considering it’s in Iowa! We skipped naps that day though and didn’t get to our rental house until after 6pm though… so obviously the girls, especially Nora, were cranky. Actually, skipping naps and cranky girls was the overall theme for the week.
On past trips we really tried to adhere to a nap schedule. But we found it broke up the days too much and really just made us feel like most of our time was wasted in our hotel. Now I realize naps were smart. But thus, I digress.
The days are all running together in my mind now, but in addition to the zoo in Des Moines we also went to the Kansas City Zoo, the aquarium, Science City, Lego Land, a mall, and lots of boring restaurants. I say boring restaurants because clearly we’re not brave enough to take two (overly tired by 5pm) toddlers to fancy establishments! Well, we actually did go to a somewhat fancy Italian restaurant one night, but learned our lesson. There was some smiling at dinner before the meltdowns though!
Eating at a not so fancy restaurant…
LEGO Land was one of the girls’ favorite places. And OMG, did you know it’s someone’s job to just build huge Lego sculptures?? What major should I have picked for that profession??
The day we went to the zoo in Kansas City was beautiful. The weather was just perfect, about 65 and sunny! I know the girls had fun, but honestly, zoos are always my favorite. I’m amazed at the creatures! The Des Moines zoo actually had five month-old lion cubs. Talk about adorable! And huge! I especially liked how they climbed on mama and she literally threw them off across the park. I won’t be adding that to my parenting skills anytime soon, but it was certainly interesting to see. The pictures below are from our zoo adventures. Obviously taken before Nora lost her binkie and had the mother of all meltdowns. Yes, it was one of those moments when you feel like thousands of people are staring at you and judging your parenting skills. Probably because they were. It was awful. Another day with no naps though, we should have known better.
We did spend a few hours one afternoon at your typical bigger city mall. I was desperately looking for outfits for Nora’s three year-old pictures, and did find one dress. In the process though, Nora insisted I carry her on my back. And of course I’d only brought the waterproof carrier, which has zero padding!
We didn’t spend much time, other than sleeping, at our rental house. And let me say, I would not do that again based on this experience. Separate post needed for that. Maybe a book. At least a chapter. But again, in the girls’ eyes, it was perfect and fun and special. Eric was brave enough to get down on the floor for playtime with the girls… Not so much for me.
Thursday night as I was putting Nora to bed, the night before her 3rd birthday, I got a bit emotional. I know I bitch and moan and complain a lot, about how hard parenting can be… because let’s face it, it is hard. But it’s also wonderfully special, and priceless, and timeless… So often I want to speed up the days or weeks or years, thinking life will be easier if the girls were older. But honestly, who the heck knows if that’s true. All we really know is it will be different, and nothing, no amount of wishing or praying will bring back the past. We must make the best of the hard times and cherish the good, making memories of both along the way. As Nora and I were snuggling in her travel bed that evening, after finishing reading together, I snapped a bunch of pictures of her and I, hoping to always remember the moment. Here is one of those…
Looking back on our week, I think five days/four nights was too long. Friday of the week was Nora’s actual birthday, and honestly, it was probably the hardest day for all of us. We were tired, sick of being away from home, sick of the car, etc. Again, we celebrated Nora’s birthday for about six days straight, so to her, Friday was fine, and her birthday overall was wonderful, but for me, it was disappointing. I think sometimes I just want everything to be perfect and special, as I somehow connect that with showing my children how much I love them. And since Friday didn’t live up to my special and perfect expectations, I was a little sad. We did start the day with special cupcakes from a cute shop in Kansas City. And of course, Nora only took maybe two licks of the frosting and was finished!
Check-out of the rental was noon, so we had to get up and be on our way shortly after cupcakes… And on our way meant the five-hour drive home. Four hours in the girls were sick of their car seats, and even sicker of traveling, being the God-forsaken DVD player on our van picked that day to stop working. (Remember how every single thing on that new van has broken??) Anyway, we were hungry and tired and needed out of the car, so where did we stop for dinner on her actual birthday? A restaurant connected to a gas station. It seriously doesn’t get any fancier than that. But… the workers were the nicest most amazing people I’ve ever met in my entire life. They got the entire crew, cooks and all, to sick Happy Birthday to Nora with ice cream and candles. She was smiling from ear to ear!
All in all, a good week. A test for Eric’s and my parenting skills, but I think we passed, for the most part. I know we will travel again, and more often in the future, but honestly, I’m in no hurry to pack up and go anywhere anytime soon!
Oh, and that travel toddler bed… Nora did AMAZING in it. She never once tried to escape its boundaries. Seriously, never came out the of the strange bedroom we stuck her in at the rental house. When we got home we figured she did so well we’d convert her crib to a toddler bed. And again, she’s been doing awesome, no different from when it was a crib. She doesn’t ever get out, waits for us to come get her up in the morning, even if she’s awake before we are. How did I get so lucky?? And does this mean it will be impossible with Nadia??