I've waited a few weeks to compose this post - partly because real life came at us real hard when we got back and I haven't had a chance, and partly because it's overwhelming to log such a big experience with all its pictures and happenings.
Things I was nervous about before the trip:
how the drive would go
if the kids would sleep at all in the hotel
Amazingly, the kids were absolute ANGELS in the car. Seriously couldn't have done any better than they did. They were calm, cool, and collected the entire 12-13 hours, starting at 4am. I was so proud of them! We didn't have any potty accidents (although Natalie did pee on the side of the road once haha), and they weren't whiny or needy at all. They were content to watch movies and look out the window and fall asleep and just wait patiently.
Bless my mom for letting us steal her van for the week. WOW it made all the difference.
Also amazingly, once the kids were asleep in the hotel they stayed that way until morning! It took some coercing and maneuvering to get them to sleep, but they didn't wake up all night like I expected. That was a huge blessing because at least we were able to get some sleep.
|mandatory quiet containment time|
Afton and Anthony lent us their pack n play since Ashlee wasn't really using it, and that helped a TON. Stockton liked sleeping in it even though he didn't really fit. We let the kids stay up super late (like 9 or 10) and then got them cozy and settled and waited for them to fall asleep. Natalie and Jack took little effort - Stockton required a little more creativity. Some nights I took him for a drive and carried him back upstairs once he was asleep. He liked when I would touch his face with my fingers in that sort of hypnotic way and that's what calmed him down enough to fall asleep. Below is him with purple blankie in the halls of the hotel at 10:30 at night (this was only the second night, so we were still working out our plan of attack.)
Wrangling Stockton did present its challenges throughout the trip, but overall I would say he did his best and we did ours, and it worked out passably haha. One night I took him over to my aunt Laura's house while everyone else went to Old Spaghetti Factory and it was wonderful - he got to run around and do his thing without anyone forcing him to do anything or go anywhere (or not go anywhere) and it made me so happy to watch him be so relaxed. Plus I got to hang with Laura, which is one of my favorite things to do. He found an old broken sprinkler at Grandma's house and adopted it as his own - it was cute to see him so enamored by something so mundane. It's currently sitting in our church bag ready for tomorrow : )
I was very proud of all my planning and preparation for this trip. I didn't leave anything at home that I wished I had brought, nor did I overpack, and I felt like the whole operation was very efficient. We ate the snacks that I brought (nutella sandwiches and honey nut cheerios were the favorites for the kids) and everyone had enough clothing options.
|all of our belongings for 5 people for 7 nights|
|Jack was copying Natalie's arm position|
|cuties : )|
One very negative thing about our hotel room was that the door latch that normally is up high was down low, right above the door knob, meaning that Stockton could unlock it and open the door any time he wanted (which was all the time). He never ran down the hall or anything, but he would open and close it a million times in quick succession, open it and yell something out into the hall and slam it shut, or open it when we were changing or the others were asleep. Most of the time Austin or I had to sit against the door so he couldn't open it, which was inconvenient for us and annoying for him. Thank GOODNESS our second hotel had the latch up top on the door where he couldn't reach it - it was literally 1000% more relaxing. Ahh I'm relaxing even remembering it.
One very positive thing about the hotel: SWIMMING. The kids were in heaven. Natalie was thrilled that she could swim on her own with her "puddle jumper" floatie, and Jack got pretty good at it too by the end. Stockton loved being in the water but had zero interest in wearing any sort of flotation device (big surprise) so we just had to hold him the whole time as he flapped away, happy as a clam. He just swims in undies haha, he doesn't like swimsuits. We need to get him a speedo.
And that's all for tonight. This girl needs to get in bed : )