Here’s the funny thing about blogging:
You only see what I want you to see. And for the most part, those are good things. Sometimes they’re hard things, but usually what I reveal, and what I want to remember is the good and the beautiful.
But the danger in that is preserving a false memory, and a false perception of who we are. I’m often intimidated by other Mommy Bloggers who seemingly have their world in completely organized, beautiful control.
That is not my life.
That is far from my truth.
And just in case your life is messy chaos too, just in case you also take a million bad photos for every good one, and you’re looking for a glimpse of reality, let me explain how our Newport Vacation actually went (lest the pretty photos deceive you):
Upon arrival, we decided a short (0.5 mile) hike into the beach would be a great idea. Afterwards we could hike out, check-in at our hotel and go to 5:30 Vigil Mass. Great theory. Reality: kids didn’t nap, barely ate lunch, stopped to look at every.single.thing along the trail resulting in a 45 minute hike to the beach, at which point everyone melted down due to lack of said nap and food.
So, we had screaming, hungry kids, covered in sand (at least one absolutely afraid of the water), and Mass time was quickly approaching. Oh, and the car was a hike away. So, I (stupidly) hiked back through the now distinctly creepy woods ALONE to go get the van while Andy built sandcastles and calmed melt-downs.
I wasn’t mugged. Andy got the kids to the road. They all screamed as we loaded them into the van. I shot nervous glances to onlookers that I hoped conveyed, “Don’t worry, these are actually my children, and I do know what I’m doing.”
We got to the hotel and quickly realized we were booked in the wrong room.
Suite with a door so that we could technically have 2 rooms? No.
But it did have a giant jacuzzi tub in the middle, which might as well be labeled: Certain DROWNING Device to any Mother of a toddler.
The room was changed, we peeled off sandy clothes, rinsed down sandy babies and booked it to Mass…
Where we were the ONLY family there, read: the only noisy people there. We didn’t get angry looks, and an older gentleman even stopped by afterwards to chat. I couldn’t really hear what he was saying over my screaming 17 month old, but I think it was something about our family being beautiful. Then I picked up a million crayons and cheerios off the floor before we finally headed to dinner.
Every time we went out to eat, my kids were those kids. The ones other patrons stare at with condescension and judging eyes. Yes, the kids were over tired. Yes, the kids were extra hungry. Yes, there were valid reasons for them to be screaming, and running around, and extra whiny. But it was still embarrassing. Andy and I chose to laugh, because if we had added to the crying, I think the check would have come even more quickly than it already did.
Anyone else get that sometimes? The not so subtle, I’m sure you don’t want dessert, so here’s your check. Feel free to leave whenever you like (aka now).
Saturday night, the fire alarm went off in our hotel at 1am. There’s no better way to figure out what’s important to you than a potential life-threatening emergency.
Ok then, we’re out of here.
I left behind my purse, my clothes, even the fancy, full-frame, Nikon DSLR Andy rented for me to play with while vacationing. I barely remembered to put pants on. But, I had my baby in my arms and my 5 year old by the hand. My husband carried Lulu, and we fled down three flights of stairs as quickly as we could (he had the presence of mind to grab his keys and wallet… my always-prepared, Eagle Scout, Handy Andy comes through for his family again!).
My confused and tired children were so brave. Mo had one moment of tearful panic at the top of the stairs as she desperately tried to both cover her ears against the blaring alarm and sleepily navigate the steps. But one calm, collected, “It’s ok baby, trust me. We need to go as quickly as we can” from her Mama and we were on the move again.
Someone burnt popcorn in the lobby microwave.
The next day, my well-rested kiddos and their well-rested parents (ha ha ha) headed to the Newport Aquarium for a day filled of wonder and amusement. Also, a day full of “Mo suddenly has laryngitis”, sea otter poop (see above), all the grumpy melt downs, and the constant battle between parents wanting to both see cool things and show their kids cool things.
“Lulu, if you wait for just another 2 minutes, the zoo trainers will come out to feed the sea lions.”
“I want to see sharks!”
“I know baby, but I would really like to see the sea lions, can we wait here for a couple minutes?”
“The sharks are that way!”
“We’ll see the sharks later, Love. I promise. The sea lions are soooo neat! I bet they will do tricks!”
“Love, we’re here to see what Mommy wants to see too. So, you can either speak to me with respect or go to time out.”
Tears welling, “I just want to see the sharks, Mama…”
Gah! So much negotiation! About EVERYTHING. What to see, where to eat, what to eat, how to walk, what to buy, where to go and when to go… We try to let them make decisions. It’s a hard balance though, between us respecting their freedom and them respecting our authority…
Rogue Brewery for dinner was mostly a success, barring the usual screaming from Dominic. And the drunk adults telling Mo to toss her frisbee into the river after dinner… Come on people. Really? (She didn’t. Smart girl)
Lulu refused to wear a sweater on the pier where we went to watch the people crabbing (Crabbers?). Then she wore my sweater when she realized she was cold. Then demanded that the sweater be taken off when she realized she didn’t know what she wanted (aka was deliriously over tired).
Bath/bed time came with its usual amount of fussing and yelling and screaming. Although this time with the added pressure of knowing our neighbors could hear everything.
We’re never staying in another hotel again (that’s probably a lie).
Andy and I laid down on the bed, deciding to hold still for a couple minutes to make sure the kids were asleep before we started a movie or board game, or something uniquely grown-up-y. We were on vacation too, right?
We woke up 3 hours later in our clothes with the lights still on… Party animals right there!
Lulu’s eye had started to water a bit at the aquarium, and we thought it was left over from the sandiness of Saturday.
That became super clear when both she and Mo had crusted-shut eyeballs Monday morning.
So, breakfast in the room, everything the girls had touched into a specific suitcase labeled “CONTAMINATED with the WORST THING EVER!” and the kids stared at the TV, watching PBS till their eyes watered. Pink eye. Everywhere.
But at least they weren’t touching anything.
I happened to have an eye drop prescription in the car from the last time they caught this scourge. I made a, perhaps not completely medically sound, decision and started them on the ancient antibiotic drops right away.
Their eyeballs didn’t turn more red or swell shut, so I considered it a success.
We had already bought a weekend pass to Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, and though the kids are too short to go on the tour, the natural area there is called “outstanding” (for realz, as in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area). So, we decided to at least drive up to the light house and let the kids run around in nature (not touching anything) before we headed home.
I read at the visitors center “Yellow jacket danger especially high this year,” but the writing was old and a little smudged so I assumed it didn’t apply. I mean, we were on vacation. It couldn’t possibly apply to us. Right?
When we exited the van Monday morning to see the lighthouse, the yellow jackets immediately descended. Several swarmed each kid, even flying between Dom and Andy, who was holding him. Things that sting are not Andy’s favorite, so I valiantly defended our family, smacking the little buggers left and right with my hat and being calm and collected, “RUN GIRLS! RUN FOR THE LIGHTHOUSE!”.
I can only imagine what that looked like from a distance.
“Why didn’t you just leave Caitlin?”
Good question, hypothetical reader.
We were on vacation! Dang it! And we WERE going to see the lighthouse. And we WERE going to have a good time! Pink eye and yellow jackets be darned!
I was definitely thinking different words…
They didn’t follow us. And we did have a good time. And I did get to play with the fancy camera. Although there were a lot of bad photos.
And we drove, and we breathed, and I called in another antibiotic prescription to be waiting when we got home, and we tried to do anything besides rub our pyschosomatical-ly itching eyes.
We got home, burned everything, and moved away.
Kind of. We used bleach instead of fire, an by “we” I mean Andy. Because he is awesome like that.
And we didn’t move away.
Because we’re staying home. Forever.
Seriously though, I didn’t write this to complain (although I’ll take sympathy if you’ve got it to give). And I know it could have been much worse (e.g. barf, the hotel burning down, ER visit, actually getting stung by a yellow jacket). This is just an effort to give you a real glimpse into our lives. A not-so-picture-perfect view.
The previous post, showing us having fun, is true. All those smiling moments actually happened. And, disease aside, I truly enjoyed vacationing with my family. I bet we even do more in the future.
But this post is truth too, written for you and written for me.
10 years from now, sleep deprivation will have erased all the hard memories (I hope) and I’ll be looking back through posts with great pictures of my adorable babies and I’ll wonder why I ever thought life with toddlers was difficult.
Exhibit A: The Newport Family Vacation of 2015
Just keepin it real, Future Caitlin.
Keeping it all real.
I am literally reading this in the dark and trying not to shake so hard from laughter that I wake my husband. 🙂
You are awesome and your family is wonderful.
You’ve given me a great post to refer to when I someday have a vacation that isn’t picture perrect. I’ll think back to this and think, “Well, the Elders survived… we can too.” 🙂
Ah, the brutal honesty of a family vacation. I’m remembering fondly out first attempt to go camping with our new trailer…
My lovely Cait Your “honest vacation” brought back all those fond memories of our Family vacations. You do not forget the hard but keep the good whether it is reality or not (you least have comprehensive documentation your generation likes to keep, we only exaggerate on our fading memories). Kind of like all the fun we had in our 100 year old camper. Love you and all Dad
We stopped calling them vacations for decades. They were family trips. Just exactly like you described! I love the transparency and the authenticity that prevents re-writing history. You are also hilarious, even when I was empathizing with my hand over my mouth because that is so how it is on a family trip. It’s wonderful and horrid and you really do NOT want to be an adult because it would be so much better to be able to whine, cry, scream and have all the problems disappear, made possible by anyone other than Andy. Sending you loving hugs! You rock, Mama!
NOW we take vacations. But my youngest is 25.
You’ll love this. You’ll laugh. You are so not alone.
There is a lot of truth in humor. Your words and pictures made me laugh ’til I cried. Whether you have children or not, family “trips” are in most of everyone’s memories. Way to document the “real”. Love Lulu’s jacket . . .