I continued to doze off and on (through Hubby leaving, the kids waking, and some really bizarre dreams where I was getting frustrated because people kept waking me up) until about 7:15am when Buddy had an "accident" in the hallway outside of our bedroom.
And with that, our long weekend began.
Friday morning, Erika came over, we packed the externally flameless Mommyvan full of kids and DVD's and snacks and coloring books and crayons and other necessities and headed SouthWest to Missouri*. Shortly after we set out, Buddy reminded me of the one thing I didn't prepare for -- "I think I gonna puke, Mom..." Ah yes. Two miles into our journey and Buddy nearly tosses his breakfast**. I ordered him to put the coloring book away, made a swift right turn into the nearest gas station, and pulled a plastic garbage bag out of our "other necessities", just in case. After some saltines and a bit of water, Buddy's tummy was righted and we were on our way once again.
Erika is awesome, let me just say that right now. She took me up on my offer to come on a road trip with the circus. Seriously, I didn't have to pay her or anything! And you gotta know that seven hours in a van with three kids and a woman who is not entirely sure where she is going and has never driven on a long road trip like that, and most certainly not ever with three children (who would do such a crazy thing?!) can't be the first thing on her "Oh yes what fun let's do that! list". Still, Erika came with us and she was wonderful and gracious and "talked me off the ledge" at just the right times. We love Our Erika.
We followed our MapQuest/Rand McNally directions and only had to turn around once (in the parking lot for DERR Motors... "DERR!") and I didn't fall asleep at the wheel even a little bit, in spite of being awake off and on since 3:30am. Yes, I'm sure we could have gone a different way, (because isn't there always a better way to get there?) but we made it! All by ourselves! We were so proud of ourselves! I discovered I CAN ride that far in a vehicle without falling asleep, and Erika discovered she makes a terrific map-reader and navigator! I also discovered the phrase "Oh, don't worry, they'll sleep in the van..." surely means, "The kids will be awake the whole time. Bet on it."
We arrived Friday in time for pizza with B.J. After wearing her out some, we dragged the kids back to the hotel and proceeded to get them to sleep for the night. We brought their sleeping bags, thinking they would get a kick out of sleeping on the floor (because at home, it's always such an adventure to sleep on the floor). The look they gave me pretty much told me "Uh, no. We're not sleeping on the floor, Mom. Nice try." After that, bedtime seemed to resemble a Chinese fire drill. Erika and I tried to share a bed, with the two girls in the other bed and Buddy on the floor. Buddy, of course, wanted someone to "sleep with", so Punkin went down to share floor space. When she had had enough of him bugging her, she got back on the bed with Sweet Pea, which, naturally set off Buddy. He calmed, but now the two girls were giggling and getting more wound up by the second. It was time to seperate the girls. "Erika, do you want the tall one, or the short one in with you?"
Punkin shared space with Erika (did I mention Punkin is a sprawler when she sleeps? Did I mention she's nearly as tall as Erika?), while I scooted in with Sweet Pea... and Buddy because he didn't want to be left out. I had to sleep in the middle of the two littles so they wouldn't giggle and carry on. This worked with some success until Buddy fell out of bed and hit his head on the nightstand in the middle of the night. Then, I put him in the middle of the bed and slept on the very edge.
To say that neither Erika nor I slept very well was a bit of an understatement.
The kids were awake as early as ever (6:30am, of course), and asking if we could call B.J. and go play on her boat. I was pretty sure B.J. didn't want us to call at 6:30am, so we instructed the kids to get ready, we packed for our day on the boat and set out to breakfast. (McDonald's, of course.**)
Once at B.J.'s, the three adults lounged around on her fabulous porch, enjoying the breeze and the peace and quiet while the kids sat mesmerized by cartoons. Buddy's attention span is a bit shorter than that of his sister's and he eventually let us know that we needed to get out to the lake.
We had a great time on the boat! We had enough snacks and sammiches and music to last us about three days. We lounged on the boat, and in the water. Sweet Pea (our water bug) spent a lot of time dog-paddling between B.J. and Erika and I out in the lake. She was quite proud of herself for that. Buddy spent a lot of time sitting on my lap in the water, and Punkin hung out in the water by the ladder.
We ate and ate and ate. We slathered the kids (and ourselves) with sunscreen and stretched out. Strangely enough, the sun seemed to concentrate most of it's rays on our shoulders and faces, and didn't bother the kids at all. Apparently, the kid sunscreen only works on kids. Who knew?
B.J. in her boating hat
Soon, the clouds started to move in and B.J. decided it was time to head back to her house for burgers and hot dogs and fries and mac and cheese. (Homemade Mac and Cheese -- it was WONDERFUL!) We were all worn out from the sun and fun, and lounged around on her porch for a bit longer than we probably should have... but oh, it was so nice and relaxing and peaceful.
We eventually had to say farewell to B.J. and head back to the hotel. We were returning home the following morning, so we made sure the kids all thanked and hugged and kissed our hostess. The visit was too short, but we packed a lot of fun into it.
Back at the hotel, we once again played Chinese Bedtime Fire Drill. Erika and I were both sunburned and a bit on the achey side. Erika showered while I tried to get the kids to calmed down for bed. (How did they get so wound up when they could barely keep their eyes open just a few minutes ago?) This time, Sweet Pea shared space with Erika, while I slept in between Punkin and Buddy. We put Buddy on the other side, and laid the sleeping bags on the floor in case he fell out of bed again -- which he did, and vehemently denied the next morning. Once again, I put him in the middle of the bed and slept on the edge. Sometime in the middle of the night, he scooted out of the middle, came around to my side, and told me to scoot to the middle. At 2am, I was not going to argue with a 3 year old about sleeping arrangements.
Erika made some visits to the air conditioning unit on our side of the room to cool off her sunburn a few times in the night. Each time she got back in bed, Sweet Pea talked in her sleep for a moment or two.
When I woke at 4am, I noticed one of the lights was on in the room. We later discovered Buddy had turned it on.
To say that neither Erika nor I slept very well again was a bit of an understatement.
The kids were again awake early. We encouraged them to get dressed (again using McDonald's as a bribe) while we packed up, checked out and loaded up the externally flameless Mommyvan for our trip back home. Erika and I discussed our return route (because I had failed to print 'reverse directions') and opted to just sort of wing it.
The rain forecasted for Saturday had held off until Sunday, and for that we were grateful. It wasn't raining very hard -- just sprinkling for most of our trip home. We did run into a bit of a storm which made driving a white-knuckled challenge for me a few miles, but we made it through that. I did become pretty tired for a bit, but Miss Erika, bless her heart, stayed awake with me the whole time.
Just as we were almost home, we ran into bumper-to-bumper traffic... of course. By that time, the kids were "so over" watching DVD's, Erika was very tired and uncomfortable because of the sunburn, and all I wanted to do was GET HOME. I think we all did pretty well, though with keeping ourselves "in check."
Finally, FINALLY we were home. We sorted through bags and boxes, downloaded all of the weekend photos from Erika's camera and got Erika on the way to her Grandma's birthday party (we were doing our best to get home so she could get there before the party was over) and the kids poured into the house, dropping their stuff in the foyer. I do believe we were home a full two and a half minutes when Punkin wanted to know if she could watch High School Musical 2 which we TiVo'd for her while we were gone. (Seriously? You want to watch television after watching movies for the past 7 hours? Oookkk.)
At that point, I was pretty fried. I let the kids watch television while I unpacked and started laundry and checked email (I had no computer or working cell phone for the whole weekend! I was starting to twitch from withdrawals.) We ordered pizza for dinner, took baths and just chilled for the rest of the evening. Strangely enough, the kids didn't fight bedtime too much Sunday night.
It was a fun, relaxing adventure in sleep deprivation and childcare, sprinkled with the normal "kid" moments (like when Sweet Pea told B.J. smoking was bad for her, or when Punkin copped a 'tude about something, or when Buddy interrupted our conversation with a rather loud 'cutting of the cheese' after which he giggled and walked off) and laughter.
I have it on good authority that we didn't trash B.J.'s place or traumatize her dogs and cats too badly, although she hasn't invited us back. Also, Erika told me (on more than one occasion) that she had a good time and enjoyed herself, but she declined to watch the kids for us when I go to another conference at the end of September. Coincidence? I think not. (hee hee!)
While we were in the planning stages of this road trip, I was a bit anxious about how it would all work out. Once I got in the car Friday morning, I felt calm and confident. Sure we had a couple of "oopsie" moments, but all in all, it was a fun weekend. Erika and I surprised ourselves with the things we accomplished (surviving a seven hour road trip with three kids!), and everyone had a good time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get some sleep...
* Why Missouri? Why not, I say! I have a friend who lives in Missouri, and is gracious enough to let the circus come to her town to visit. She also cooks for us, and takes us out on her boat to play. Billie "B.J." Jean is the bomb!
** Which is far better than last time we went to Missouri. We had made it about half way there when, without warning, Sweet Pea began tossing bits of her last meal before leaving home -- Mandarin oranges. She continued until just before we reached our destination that time.
*** Why do kids never, ever tire of eating at McDonald's?