It would seem that the retelling of our summer vacation is going to take at least 15 posts. I started to feel guilty for the sheer verbosity. But then again, this is for posterity's sake. I mean, this is how my children are going to remember the good ol' days. This is my proof that we did have some crazy good times. I'm horrible at taking pictures. But words are a different matter. I can reconstruct the entire week with my words. It's just going to take a lot of them . . .
Sunday traveling went pretty smoothly.
Or as smoothly as dragging five kids out of bed before sun up can possibly go.
I will have to say, the one piece of advice I can give to a mom flying with a baby is: Take your stroller! I was so glad to have my nifty jogging stroller along for the ride. We checked our two suitcases and three car seats with the sky cap. I strapped Ana into her stroller, draped my diaper bag over the handle, grabbed Elle's hand and we were off! My nimble jogger turned on the proverbial dime, thus preventing me from flattening the random travelers littering the walkways as we raced to our various gates. The boys spread out, alternating between running too far ahead and stopping smack in front of the stroller with some leisurely lollygagging thrown in for variety. Far down the corridors, I could spy Rob's blue shirt as he strode purposefully to our destination, unimpeded by clinging toddlers or errant preschoolers. Good thing I don't hold grudges.
Or retaliate by blogging behind his back.
Since Rob works for an airline, we are able to fly for practically free. The drawback is, it's standby and you never know if you will actually be able to make your flight. But this time there were plenty of seats. We were all in a jovial mood and the two hour flight to Chicago "flew" by. I was really hoping we could snag some Chicago Deep Dish Pizza for breakfast. But that will have to be for another trip. We settled for Subway sandwiches instead. Ever since our honeymoon, we have made a practice of splitting meals when we eat out. Usually it works out. Sometimes not. (I'll never forget Rob surgically dividing the lone lobster lump floating in our bisque, right down the middle.) This is particularly helpful when you have small kids with unpredictable appetites. 3 foot long sandwiches more than fed our family.
We had just one more short flight to Cincinnati. When I turned my phone back on there was a message from my sister. Her pain was considerably worse and she was on her way back to the hospital. I knew that there was nothing I could do for her, even if I was at home. But she was heavy on my heart and mind.
By the time we hit the rental agency, the kids halos were slipping a bit. They had been perfect up to that point. But there are limits and I could feel we were fast approaching ours. Rob was inspecting our van before we took possession. I mean literally, noting and documenting every scratch and scuff to make sure we weren't blamed for any previous damage. I'm glad he thought of that. It's interesting to see how a lawyer looks at the world sometimes. I would have grabbed the keys, cranked up the music and been off in cloud of dust with nary a thought of any sort of liability. That's why God mixes things up when he puts couples together. Two are better than one!
We rested at our hotel for a few hours. The kids took turns badgering us to let them swim. Rob and I took turns deflecting with typical parent-speak, "Not now. There will be plenty of time later. Don't ask me again. Stop bugging me!"
The Best Western in Harrison, Ohio was truly a lovely place to stay. The rates are reasonable and they have a Creation Museum package with discounted adult tickets. The Museum itself is waiving children's admission for 2014. So this is a good time to visit, if any of you have the opportunity.
We were up and at 'em first thing the next morning. In spite of a 20 minute drive, we were still the very first patrons to pull into the parking lot, a full hour early. We were met at the gate by the kindly Henry. He welcomed us warmly and encouraged us to enjoy the botanical gardens while we waited. The gardens were so beautiful. Lush vegetation, koi ponds, a creek, secluded nooks where you can reflect (and nurse) in privacy. The kids loved scampering across the suspension bridge and the floating bridge. There were an abundance of birds, frogs, and turtles sunning themselves on mossy logs. It compelled me to google the lyrics to Morning Has Broken.
At last the museum doors opened to a surprisingly diverse crowd. Tattoed bikers rubbed shoulders with Amish families. And then then there the boring people, like us. Rob and Cy joined the group of thrill seekers at the base of the zip line tower. I herded my small flock towards the main exhibits.