We've just returned from what many people would call a vacation. Ryan had a big presentation in Tampa this week, and I happened to find reasonably priced tickets to Tampa for the boys and I to join him for the week. I was thrilled to cancel a class, pull Pete out of pre-school and fly to Florida for four days to spend some time with Ryan and see the big presentation of this project he's been working on for months. After all, the hotel and car were paid for, and how often do you get a family vacation for four to Florida for just the price of the plane tickets for two?
But that's where it's important to adjust expectations. A trip to Florida with a 20 month old and a 3.5 year old is not a vacation. It's an exciting trip for the boys. It makes precious family memories. But it is not, in any way, shape or form a relaxing vacation.
Part of the reason that we didn't book this trip right away when Ryan's presentation was first scheduled is that I'm nearly 30 weeks pregnant. Since, as everyone knows, I'm miserable while pregnant, I wasn't sure if I would feel up to this trip at 30 weeks. I knew there would be challenges, but when I found the tickets on sale, I was feeling well enough to take the chance. Many people asked me how I was going to manage through this trip, and to be honest, it was a breeze. Still not a relaxing vacation, but certainly an easy trip!
First logistical detail, getting two small children to an airport, security lines, boarding lines, and onto the plane before 8:40am. There are not many times I'm excited that my children wake naturally around 5:30am, but on a travel day, it certainly helps! A limo company that provides toddler car seats in the shared van to the airport was another big help. Chester rides in the umbrella stroller, Pete walks pulling his own suitcase full of books and toys and I check our cothing bag, leaving only a carry-on bag with diapers, cash and snacks for me to carry.
When we arrived at the airport, I initially sat the boys next to the window so we could watch the planes, but I quickly realized they were in no mood to sit at all, no matter what exciting planes and trucks were driving by he window. The little girls sitting back in our gate happily colored in their coloring books, but there's just no chance that would keep my boys quiet. So instead I moved them to an empty gate nearby and let them run up and down the ramp like airplanes. Problem solved, even if everyone at our gate was probably wondering why I couldn't control my kids.
The boys watched movies on the iPad for the first flight (Thank you Miss M for loading the movies on the iPad for me!), then we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Atlanta before walking around the terminal reading numbers and letters. Sure, Chester pitched a fit at lunch because I insisted that he eat his pear before he could have a cupcake, but that happens at home too. I'm sure it was the entertainment of the day for the restaurant staff and fellw travellers, watching Pete reason with Chester to "please eat your fruits so we can eat cupcakes" and Chester sitting in his high chair screaming "cupcake, cupcake" while Pete polished off ALL FOUR CUPCAKES (okay, just the frosting and sprinkles) because Pete ate all his pears and Chester took a bite of his pear and spit it back out. The second flight was even better, and Pete put his head on my shoulder during taxi, and had his eyes closed by the time we took off. Chester screamed from the time we sat down until we left the gate, then promptly passed out for the entire flight. Those 7 minutes of howling must have scared the rest of the passengers, but I knew it was just naptime coming on. I even got to read a magazine while they both slept. Piece of cake.
Ryan expertly reserved a car with two car seats, had a co-worker pick us up from the airport and we relaxed at the hotel until he joined us for dinner at Maggiano's across the street from our hotel. The rest of the week went similarly smoothly, with a visit to the zoo with an old friend, her husband and their two children, a date with the sitter arranged by the hotel and a trip to the convention center to see Ryan's booth.
All in all, a great trip, and in no way, shape or form a vacation. In fact, it took me over a week to have the time and energy to finish blogging about it.