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Road Trip

While Derek tore down wood paneling and put up new drywall, I took the boys on a trip for a week to visit my best friend from high school, Kim, and her family.  Her husband is the park ranger at a reservoir in the middle-of-nowhere-Nevada so we don’t get to see them as much as we’d like.  We had so much fun and it gave Daddy and Grandpa some time to get work done without little “helpers” running around.

We had kind of a rough start to our trip.  We woke up late, started late and ended up having to stop 4 times before we even got to the freeway.  Isaac choked on a fruit snack and threw up so we stopped and changed clothes within two miles from home.  After eight stops we finally made it to the state border for lunch (not even half way there!).  We ate at McDonald’s because I was sure they’d have a play place.  I was hoping the boys could get some energy out.  Unfortunately, I had found the least kid-friendly McDonald’s in the country.  They didn’t even have high chairs!  Luckily the boys were so tired after lunch that they slept almost the rest of the way and we only had to make two more quick stops for gas and diaper changes.

The first thing we did when we got to Kim’s was play with the animals.  They have a dog and two cats.  Josh was also taking care of his boss’s horses so we got to go help feed them.  The boys were in heaven.  I didn’t even think about bringing allergy medicine and more importantly the nebulizer with their albuterol.  I was worried they’d have a reaction and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.  Isaac had a hard time breathing that night but I said a prayer and found some Vicks to rub on his chest.  Within a few minutes he was breathing easily again and didn’t have any other problems all week.  Such a blessing and a relief.  We had dinner, let the kids play and ended the night with glow stick dancing.

The next day we spent down at the river.  The boys didn’t do much swimming but they played in the dirt and were happy as clams.  A couple of Kim’s friends brought their kids down to play too.  Josh stayed up at the house while the kids napped so Kim and I could have some girl time with the other ladies.  It was really lovely.

Day three we were planning on spending swimming again, this time in the reservoir with more of Kim’s friends and their kids.  The boys had had a rough night though and wanted nothing to do with it.  I took three wailing boys back home and let Kim, Josh and the girls play with their friends.  We spent the afternoon lounging around, watching movies and playing in the yard.  IMG_6746 IMG_6702

After dinner, Kim and I drove into town for a relief society meeting and left Josh with the 5 kids.  I was a little worried for him but he popped a huge bucket of popcorn and they watched a couple of movies until we got home.  The youngest three even fell asleep for him.  2013-07-08 19.29.05

He handled dirty diapers and even some Isaac barf (that kid is the pukiest kid I know).  Kim and I had a nice girls night out.  Wish she lived closer so we could do that more often.

The following day, we all piled into the Pilot (first time I used all of the seat belts!) and took a trip to Reno so that Kim and Josh could go to the temple.

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I had told them that I wanted to watch the girls for them while I was there so they could go on a date.  They live so far from anyone that they aren’t able to get sitters very often.  They decided that rather than leave me at home with the kids all day, we’d go to town together.  We went to the park at an elementary school for a couple of hours while Kim and Josh were in the temple.  I found the Kindergarten playground that was totally enclosed and was able to herd the kids pretty easily.IMG_6693  IMG_6683 After the kids went to bed that night Kim and Josh and I played my all time favorite game which Derek hates: Boggle.  I won, of course.  😉  Actually Kim was killing us the whole time and I barely won the last round because she was falling asleep.

Our last day with Kim and the girls we went to Safe Haven Rescue Zoo.  They house wild animals that have been injured or confiscated from people who were trying to keep them as pets.  They have tigers, lions, bobcats, coyote, foxes and a tortoise.  Isaac knew we were going to the zoo so he kept asking to see the monkeys and elephants.  Ha.  We had a picnic lunch in the park in a cute little town/settlement called Unionville.  The boys took a three hour nap that day while Kim and I just talked away the afternoon.  Have I mentioned that I wish she lived closer?  Game night that night was Tripoley.  I lost miserably.

Our drive home was much less eventful than the ride out.  We only stopped twice!  Once for lunch in Wells (we bought Burger King and ate it in the park) and once for gas.  We got home so early that Daddy, Grandpa and Uncle Lee weren’t ready for us yet and we had to play outside for awhile.  It was good to be home.         IMG_6704IMG_6718

I am a better Momma for having taken the boys on our trip. I played more with them than I do at home because I didn’t have to worry about cleaning or making meals or being in charge.  IMG_6751I got to watch Kim and Josh be awesome parents to their girls and learned some lessons about how I can be better.  I gained more confidence and motivation to be a good Momma.  I relaxed.  It was just what I needed.  Thank you, my friends, for taking care of me and my boys!  I miss you already.

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What I Didn’t Learn From Pinterest

In the few weeks before our trip to Chicago, I scoured Pinterest (where else??) for ideas for traveling with kids/toddlers.  I found a lot of good ideas for entertaining three little guys while flying, driving and sight seeing.  I found advice on when to travel and where to travel and what to pack and what not to pack.  I found all kinds of tips and tricks, some of which worked and some, not so much.  Here are the top 5 things I learned, though, from the actual trip.

1.  Kids do better than you expect!  At least mine did.  I think we all imagine the worst case scenario and spend so much time worrying about what could go wrong that we forget what could go right.

2.  You know your kids better than you think.  Trust your feelings about when (meaning kids’ ages and/or time of day) and where to travel.  Chances are, most of the time you will be able to predict how they will react to each activity in your travels.  I read several blogs that mentioned to avoid flying during nap time because then you end up with over-tired tots who don’t sleep and make life basically miserable.  Makes sense.  But I just felt like our guys would be ok.  They’ve always been pretty good sleepers.  So, our flight home landed right during their nap time.  And they slept almost the whole way!  So plan according to your instincts.

3.  It takes longer to recover from a trip with toddlers than it does preparing for one!  And I’m not talking kiddo recovery!  Momma has had about zero motivation to do anything.  (My bags may or may not still be on the floor in the bedroom…)

4.  There are nice people wherever you go.  I mean it.  They really exist!  One of the things I was most nervous about was inconveniencing people around us.  We were, after all, going to be THAT family wherever we went.  The noisy, insane, out-of-control family that everyone else is watching.  I was so surprised and delighted when everywhere we went, people were just KIND.  I don’t think there was a bus, plane or train that we boarded that someone didn’t offer us a seat or to hold a child or carry a bag.  HUGE relief.

5.  Your experience will be what you determine it to be.  Just as we were pulling into the airport parking lot ready to embark on this adventure, I promised myself that no matter what happened, I was going to be HAPPY and HAVE FUN!  I knew that people were going to stare at us wherever we went and that the kids were bound get tired/hungry/cranky at the most inconvenient times but I was determined to have a good time.  Also, I wanted to send the message to all of those staring strangers (and more importantly, to my boys!) that my family is important to me and that I enjoy being with them (even during melt downs in the airport).  I am so glad I took that moment to prepare myself to be happy.  I wasn’t perfect but I thought of that moment on more than one occasion and it helped me get through some of the ugly moments with a deep breath and a smile.

As I read back over this list, I realized that I should probably apply these mantras to life in general.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have to spend endless hours on Pinterest looking for the answers to my problems. 😉

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Flight Home

I have been pleasantly surprised at how smoothly everything has gone this week and especially how well the kids adapted to everything we did.  There were some rough moments but we had fun, got a break from the day-to-day grind and had some good family bonding.  I say it was a success!

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The trip home was actually quite uneventful and I only took one photo today (yogurt breakfast in the room before we checked out) but figured I should wrap up with one last post.  We caught a shuttle to the airport (6 bags of luggage + 3 toddlers + a stroller on a train didn’t sound fun) and checked in around noon.  Security was outrageously long but thanks to the three amigos in tow, we were ushered to the front of the line. Sweet! No mishaps this go around.  We rushed to McD’s for happy meals for some not so happy little campers.  They were over-hungry and over-tired and wanted to run their little legs.  Cooper had a complete and utter melt down which made me a little nervous about cramped quarters on a plane for 3 hours.

My worrying was short lived however.  All THREE boys were snoozing away by the time we were in the air! (No, we didn’t give them any drugs, though we considered it…) Not only that, but they slept for almost two of the three hours!  I was so, so happy.  Even Derek and I got a little shut eye.

We had a small inconvenience with our checked bag once we were in SLC but it was resolved pretty quickly and we made it home in time for the boys’ bedtime and Derek’s soccer game.  Momma is blogging and eating chocolate in bed.  Perfect ending to a perfect week.

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Chicago: Day 6

Our last full day in the Windy City started with breakfast at Pret a Manger (pain au chocolat for me!) and a walk in the park. I really wanted to take the boys to the Lincoln park zoo but there just wasn’t an easy way to get there on public transit without taking the bus (not willing to face that disaster on my own– especially after last night) or walking a million miles. Isaac has been a trooper but I didn’t want to push him too far. I have been using my Moby wrap a lot but I was feeling my back starting to act up so I’m taking it easy on carrying boys today. I even tried to take a cab but they wouldn’t take my kids without car seats. That’s good of them I guess but I am disappointed that we aren’t going to make it this trip.

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Instead we did a little souvenir shopping, some train watching and more dirt digging at the park. The twins’ favorite city sights are choo-choos, doggies and buses. Isaac loves riding the “eligators” and always has to help push the buttons. I have to be quick to make sure he doesn’t push the emergency/alarm ones. (Who ever thought to put those down at two year old level??)

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We got Chicago dogs and grilled cheese from Chicago Carry Out grill just down the road from our hotel and then had a picnic in our room. Daddy even came up to visit for a minute. Then we all laid down for a blessed and much needed nap–first one they’ve had all week. That’s one upside to missing out on the zoo today.

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It’s been fun to travel with the kids and see all of the reactions different people have. Most just stare as they walk by. Some say stuff (mostly about how dang cute the boys are) to each other like we are a tourist attraction. A few actually talk to us just to state the obvious (you have a lot of kids there, you have your hands full, they are so cute, etc). Lots ask us if they are twins/triplets. So many help to hold doors or give up seats for us. The most friendly are usually fellow moms of multiples or ones who have kids close together. The best reaction yet came from a nice man today while I was waiting for lunch. He said “Bless you,” “crossed” me and then walked away.  At first I wondered if he was being sarcastic but later he came back to talk to me a bit and to entertain the kids (they were getting impatient…). Thank you, nice man. I could definitely use more blessings like you.  🙂

We just spent the afternoon in the hotel room packing.  As soon as Daddy was done with his conference we went out for pizza again at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.  We hoped to swim after dinner but the pool is only for swimming laps.  Isaac was very disappointed.  But they all got down to bed early so they will be well rested for the plane ride home.

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Chicago: Day 5

After breakfast Janel and I walked to the Harold Washington Library with the boys.  We spent some time in the Children’s Library reading board books and then hoped to see the big garden on the 9th floor.  It was closed for a private event so we only could peek in. IMG_6375We walked back to the hotel and headed for the airport to say goodbye to Aunt Janel. I only had to make a few U-turns before getting her off for her flight.  We already miss her.  We were really glad she could come.  She has been so helpful on this trip but the truth is this trip was just an excuse to get to hang out with her for a week.  We’ve been looking for a chance to do something like this.  The kids love Aunt “Jelly” too. 🙂

The boys and I found Friendship Park Conservatory in Des Plaines (near our first hotel) and ate our sandwiches there.  Isaac loved watching some school kids play baseball while we ate.  There is a little playground there so the kids played for a little while.  We didn’t last long because it was like 85 degrees and all the playground equipment was too hot.  I hate that!

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After lunch we headed to LEGOland.  I drove around and around first hoping that the boys would get a good nap.  The twins took advantage of the time and snoozed but not Isaac.  We got there just after all of the school kids left (about 3:00) and it was perfect timing.

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We pretty much had the place to ourselves.  Isaac was so proud of himself for going down the BIG slide in the play place.

I’m glad kids are so easily amused.

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The day kind of went downhill from there….

The plan was to drop off the van and take the train into town.  Derek could have met me at the airport/car rental after the conference but I was feeling brave and said I could do it on my own.

I’ll never do that again.

We headed to IHOP for dinner (pancakes are Isaac’s favorite) at 4:30.  I figured that would get us there in time for an early dinner (no cranky kids!) and then back to the hotel at a decent hour. It would have worked perfectly had we not run into construction and took 45 minutes to go three miles. Awesome. Isaac and Carter were both asleep by the time we got there so I had to wake them up.  And they were starving. Cranky kids for dinner again.  At least they ate without a fight.  But then the twins thought it was the perfect time to have a shrieking competition.  They only laughed and screeched louder when I told them to stop.  I was so embarrassed.  I scarfed my dinner down and then got everyone out to the car before they could start throwing food too.

The lady checking in my car was so helpful and so was the shuttle driver who took us to the train.  The kids were a little restless on the bus but it was only a 10 minute ride so we survived that leg without a problem.

The train ride was a different story.  (I so miss you Janel!!) The plan was to leave the twins in the stroller and put them in one of the cars that had wheelchair access.  Well, it didn’t work out so I had both twins on my lap and Isaac next to me with the folded up stroller crammed in next to us.  The more tired Carter is, the crazier he acts.  He would not sit still the whole ride (45 minutes-ish).  He would thrash and whine and try to get down and try to sit on Isaac and try to hit Cooper and try to stand up on the seats and look out the window…. At least the other two boys behaved most of the time.  About three stops before we were supposed to get off they all snapped.  I was holding down two screaming twins and trying to get the stroller open just hoping Isaac wouldn’t run out of the train door at the next stop (he kept saying he was done and wanted to get down to see Daddy).  By some miracle, I got the stroller set up and the twins in it before we came to our stop. Derek and his boss Sean met us at the train station and walked us home.

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(Boys found this hiding place this morning)

Whew.  I’m glad that’s over. I’m glad that I usually have Derek to help me tackle the boys in public (and at home!!).  He went out tonight after they were all finally asleep and brought me chocolate ice cream to eat while I typed up this blog post. I’m glad he’s mine.

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Chicago: Day 4

Today was the first day of conference for Derek so Janel and I were on our own again with the boys.  We walked over to the Field Museum after PB&J for breakfast (yeah, no continental breakfast and I wasn’t up for a restaurant with the kids that early in the morning…).  We spent almost all day there.  We still ran into field trip kids but I felt like there was more room to spread out than in the science museum.  Also, the CityPASS got us in to most of the “extra” exhibits that aren’t included in basic admission so we avoided the school kids whenever we went in those.  The boys had to hang out in the stroller for the most part but there was a lot to keep them interested: LOTS of animals!, dinosaur bones and lots of buttons to push and okay things to feel at their level.  We were able to see a lot and keep the kids entertained for like 5 hours.  Pretty impressive.Image

ImageAfter the kids were thoroughly done with the museum, we walked through Grant Park and found an area mostly enclosed with shrubs and let the boys loose.  They chased a rabbit, watched squirrels and found the only patch of dirt in the whole park to dig in.  So great.  After about an hour we walked up to Millennium Park to take a picture by the huge bean.  Since the sun finally decided to come out, it was the perfect day to be outside.

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We shopped for souvenirs (and breakfast food….) on our way back to the hotel.  We got back just in time to go to dinner with Daddy.  We drove (because our feet had enough walking for the day) to Pizzeria Due for Chicago deep dish pizza.  It was so, so good.  We should have ordered ahead.  Each pizza takes like 40 minutes to bake.  So the kids were starving again and super tired.  They didn’t hold together as well as last night.  I finally took the twins outside to walk while everyone else finished eating.

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Chicago: Day 3

What a super long and fun day!  We checked out of our first hotel early in the morning and took Derek to “work” (business meeting with Bridgestone Firestone).  Janel and I drove to The Museum of Science and Industry with the boys.  We got there just in time for all of the school field trips to show up.  It was really crowded and our kids were a little young for everything.  It is a really cool museum though.  There is a full size submarine, train engine, airplane and subway train to tour.  Older kids can dissect an eyeball or owl pellet and do other hands on science activities.  Isaac “drove” a tractor and a combine and watched the big model trains.  His very favorite thing was seeing the race cars.  We stayed until lunchtime and then had PB&J in the car before heading to the Art Institute.

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The art museum was even worse on the boys than the science museum.  I hoped they would sleep in the stroller but no luck.  They were super cranky and we didn’t last long.  We did see American GothicA Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, some Van Gogh  and Georgia O’Keefe stuff and a few Monets before we left.

We checked in to the Hilton (which is where Derek’s conference is going on all week) and spent the afternoon entertaining the kids in the hotel room.  Dinner was on Derek’s boss at the Grand Lux Cafe.  We walked a little over a mile both ways so the kids were pretty worn out and hungry by the time we got there.  Luckily they didn’t melt down too bad and the food was delicious so it was successful.  Also a bonus: two kids were asleep by the time we got back to the hotel.  Easy bedtime!Image