Well, I have no doubt that those of you who have read this journal for awhile, or at least through our last two or three family vacations, have come here tonight, expecting to read an entry about obnoxious children, ill-mannered, disagreeable, quarrelsome, ungrateful hooligans, and the hazards of traveling with such social boors.
You will not be disappointed.
Is it ALL children on the planet, or just mine, who somehow lose their brains when they travel? Who forget common niceties like saying please and thank you, let alone keeping their hands and rude opinions to themselves ….. who lose the ability to ride in the car more than two miles without fighting over the dvd player ….. who turn their noses up at all planned activities …. who, despite the plethora of fun things to do and neat things to see, declare themselves bored every five minutes, declarations accompanied by huge, aggrieved SIGHS just in case we didn’t believe how bored they were …. who decide picking fights with their brother and sister is the only activity worth doing …. and who somehow manage to become deaf to the requests and threats of parents? Parents, who, I might add, have vowed in the past NEVER to take said children on another vacation, BUT THIS TIME WE MEAN IT, YOU BRATS, WE’RE NOT EVEN KIDDING AROUND!!!!
There. I feel better already.
At last year’s Quiet Heroes Luncheon in Atlanta, I bid on and won a three-night stay at a villa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The villa was part of the silent auction, serving as a fundraiser for CURESearch, and I was so excited to be high bidder. We waited until now to use our stay, hoping to enjoy autumn and the beautiful fall weather, and picking this weekend, as the 3rd anniversary of Kendrie’s leukemia diagnosis. It seemed like a great time to make a fresh start as a family. To come together and make happy family memories. To make good times out of bad, and hold hands 'round the campire singing Kum-Buy-Ya together .....
They whined, they argued, they fussed, they complained. Mainly, it was the complaining that annoyed me. We took them to a nice restaurant for dinner; Kendrie griped that they didn’t serve macaroni & cheese. We let them pick souvenirs at a gift shop; Brayden griped that we didn’t give her enough money. I rented movies from Blockbuster and even BOUGHT A NEW DVD PLAYER WHEN OURS BIT THE DUST ON THE DRIVE THERE, DAMNIT; Kellen griped that all the movies I chose were dumb.
But hands down, the two highlights of the trip were when Kendrie dropped her fishing pole in the lake and cried for ten solid minutes because Blaine couldn’t go back and get it off the bottom of the lake with his Magical Fishing Pole Retrieving Abilities, and when Brayden proclaimed, halfway through our five hour bicycling trip around the lake (let me repeat that, in case it’s not clear --- I rented a bike and pedaled my fat ass FIVE HOURS around that lake) that she was bored (SIGH!) and I said, trying hard to be the happy, positive, encouraging mom that I am …. “Brayden, honey, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, we’re having a nice ride on a gorgeous day, couldn’t you just enjoy nature for a moment?” to which she replied, “They're just leaves” in a totally snotty voice.
At which point I told her to shut up. Me, the mom who doesn’t allow anyone in our house to say shut up to anyone else, told my 9-yr old daughter that if she couldn’t think of anything nice to say, THEN. JUST. SHUT. UP.
Go ahead and call DFACS now.
Despite their constant grumbling, I do have them trained properly (most of the time) to smile for the camera. And Lord knows I always have my camera. So I’ll give you the gist of the weekend, in pictures (those of you with dial-up, forgive me):
The beginning of our bike ride; still smiling.
Hey, it wouldn’t be a fall festival without a little happy requisite pumpkin painting. Yes, happy times. Afterwards, I put all three kids’ pumpkins in the basket of my rental bike and rode them all the bumpy way home, looking like stupid ole’ Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz, balancing Toto in my damn basket. All the bumping caused the pumpkings to rub against the basket, and some of the paint to flake off, which brought about a huge temper tantrum from Brayden, who claimed I didn't care about all the hard work she had put into the pumpkin. Did she thank me for hauling those frickin’ pumpkins all the way back to the villa for her? Or express any thankfulness that I managed to ride that entire way on a rental bike without killing myself? No, of course not. But she sure carped on the fact I let her pumpkin get scratched. You know. Happy times like that.
This was a pretty scene. No children to ruin it with their whining.
"Zip it and smile or I swear you’ll be grounded all weekend. I don't care if you're bored. Look like you're having fun."
Hey, wait, now he's actually starting to have fun. Of course, Kendrie hadn’t started in on her temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums about the fishing pole at the bottom of the lake yet. But it's coming, never fear.
This was Brayden’s favorite part of the weekend, the drive-through animal safari in Pine Mountain.
We rented a zebra-van and hit the road. We were the first family in the park that morning, and let's just say those animals have the entire Pavlovian response to the zebra vans down pat.
Kellen really enjoyed it, also, when he wasn’t squealing like a girly-man.
This was the view we had most of the hour-long drive. I felt pretty much the same way when I realized, the next day, that I had left my spare camera battery in the damn zebra van. Of course, no one turned it in. Why would they?
Kellen’s favorite part of the weekend, the bike rides.
The first day, I didn’t have a bike, so we headed over to the bike rental place, with Blaine and the kids riding and me walking. That’s why I’m still smiling at this point. I hadn’t yet begun the Buns of Steel Eternal Never-Ending Bike Ride Around the Lake. Did I mention it took us five hours??? Natalie, *how* does Eamon do it???? Better yet, WHY??? My ass STILL hurts!
Naturally, the kids complained that my walking to the bike rental facility was taking too long and slowing them down. So I got on Blaine’s bike. And he got on Kendrie’s 18-inch Rhino Booster. And pedaled her on the pegs. He is such a stud.
Actually, this was one of the (FEW!) spontaneous happy moments of the weekend. After visiting the Butterfly Center, we let the kids goof off on the grass, and they laughed joyfully and wrestled gleefully with one another. Until Kellen poked Kendrie, or Brayden hit Kellen, or some other calamity, who can even remember who was mad at who which time with these kids?
Requisite butterfly photo.
Requisite flower photo.
And lest you think the entire weekend, 24/7 was horrific ….. well, it pretty much was. No, I’m kidding, we did have a few pleasant episodes mixed in amongst the squabbling. The best moment of all? Saturday night, while Blaine and I hung out in the guest bedroom watching the Florida/Auburn game, and the kids were in the guest bathroom, mixing up “potions”, which consisted of emptying every shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash container the villa provided and pouring them and arranging them in various ways with every utensil found in the kitchen, then calling those concoctions “inventions” and declaring they were in a “Science Club”.
You know what? Fine. But we could have done that at home, for a LOT cheaper, don’t you think? And my ass wouldn’t have been near as sore.