The Roadtrip from Hell (part 1)

This past weekend we travelled to visit my grandmother for her 85th birthday.  Initially we were scheduled to leave on Thursday, as it would take us approximately 9 hours to travel, and that would allow us time to recouperate from the trip on Friday before the party on Saturday.  About two weeks before the planned excursion we found out that Brendan had a program at school on that Thursday.  Not only that, but he’d been awarded a part in the program.

So, after confirming with my mom that there was no reason why we couldn’t travel a day later than originally planned, we revised our schedule to leave early on Friday morning.  Thursday went off without a hitch.  Brendan was fantastic in his program, and by 11 pm we had everything packed and ready to load into the car for a quick getaway Friday morning.

Friday began uneventfully.  The kids knew we would be getting up way earlier than usual, and they were excited to go on a roadtrip so getting them out of bed wasn’t as much hassle as it can be.  The late night meant that we were all moving a little slower than usual so we hit the road about 30 minutes later than we would have liked, but as it was still only 7 am, we felt confident we’d make good time to our destination.

Being the eternal planner that I am.  I estimated that if we stopped every 2 and a half hours, it would allow the kids enough rest area stops that we wouldn’t need to pull over unexpectedly, and that the second stop would nicely coincide with lunchtime.  I should have known that life doesn’t work like that, and that my kids are on their own individual schedules.

The first problem with my little time table was that any time we drove for more than 2 hours, Kaylee began to whine, cry, and basically demand to be let out of her car seat.  The second problem was that pulling over to let 4 people use the rest room, and change 1 diaper meant that we added 20 minutes to the overall time of the trip each time that we did it.

The third problem was quite simply Brendan.  I don’t know whether it was the fact that we’d had to call him out of school (which he hates), or that he was overly excited to go on this trip, or that we were forced to coop him up in the car for so many hours, but whatever it was he was AWFUL.  Every time we stopped, be it for gas, rest room breaks, or lunch he ended up having a massive meltdown.  At the final rest stop before our destination he was screaming, crying, and basically refusing to get back into the car.  I’m sure we got a lot of strange looks as I took him by the upper arm and forced him toward the vehicle.

By the time we arrived at the hotel Matt and I were absolutely frazzled.  Between Brendan’s meltdowns, Kaylee’s insistence to be let out of her car seat, and Cameron practically bouncing off the walls from being cooped up for so long, we’d just about had enough…and the trip was just beginning.  As we go to check into the hotel we find out that the city is under a blizzard warning for Saturday and that they are expecting between 8-14 inches of snow to fall.  Are you freaking kidding me???  I just drove 500 some odd miles into a blizzard?  Who’s idea of a sick joke is this?

But that aside, we checked into our room anyway and my parents offered to take the kids off our hands for an hour so we could unwind a little from the trip (they’d driven up the day before since they were helping with the party).  Matt and I decided to do a little shopping then met up with everyone for dinner.  The hour off did help quite a bit but, despite the break, the kids were still out of sorts from spending the entire day travelling.

Kaylee, who had refused to nap during the car trip, had now been up for approximately 14 hours and was very tired and VERY grumpy.  She had gotten to the point where she didn’t ask for anything, she screamed for it.  Unfortunately, one of the things she had demanded was to sit by mommy, and she pushed her way past Brendan in order to get her way.  Well, my choices were give the 2 year old her way and not have to deal with an irrational, over tired toddler; thus upsetting the cranky, over dramatic 9 year old who’d spent the majority of his day screaming, crying, and being overall irrational himself.  What to choose, what to choose…

Well I finally chose to side with Kaylee because I could guarantee that she would not understand any explination I gave as to why she couldn’t sit by me.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that Brendan was in one of his more rational moves.  Wrong answer.  In the middle of a croweded restaurant, at a table of 12 people, he fixated on the fact that he wanted to sit by me and kept insisting that I move Kaylee.  He got more and more beligerant and would not be distracted by anything else.

He was on the verge of a full fledged meltdown when Matt saved the day.  By chance, he happened to have both his iPhone and our iPod in his pocket.  That, combined with my iPhone meant that we could give all three kids a video game to play while we waited for our dinner.  This effectively distracted Brendan, and kept all of the kids happy throuout the remainder of dinner.

We finally made it back to the hotel and got the kids settled into bed.  They weren’t terribly happy with the sleeping arrangements as they would all three be sleeping in one bed (the hotel did not allow rollaway beds for some reason).  But we set them up sleeing the short way on the bed, figuring that would allow each of them a little more room to stretch out (and since none are all that tall yet, they fit on the bed that direction without heads or feet hanging off).  We turned on a cartoon to help them unwind, and when it was finished we turned out the lights and waited for them to drift off.

The instant the cartoon was over Cameron said that he wanted to go home and sleep in his own bed.  We told him no, we were sleeping here, and to go to sleep.  Like his brother, Cameron can take a subject and fixate on it until you’re ready to bang your head into a wall.  After 15,000 more insistences that his bed was way more comfortable than the hotel room bed Matt lost his patience and told Cameron that his choices were the hotel bed or the floor.  In a fit of anger, Cameron grabbed his pillow and blanket, threw them down on the floor, and promptly went to sleep.  I couldn’t believe that the hard hotel room floor could be terribly comfortable, but hey at least he went to sleep.

No one slept well that night.  Despite numerous adjustments to the temperature control, the room remained hot all night long.  By 5:30 the next morning we were all awake and as ready as we were going to be to face the day.  Looking out our hotel room window we saw that our day was going to be a lot of fun as the predicted snow had started falling at a rapid clip, and from the look of it had been falling for a good couple of hours.  Lack of sleep meant that again we were moving way slower than we would have liked to, and we had no choice but to go out and face it as we needed to get the kids some breakfast.

Overall, despite the snow, Saturday went really well.  There were a couple of hiccups in our day, but none that we couldn’t overcome.  I’d brought the kids some nicer clothes to wear to the party, and had gone ahead and gotten them dressed first thing in the morning not thinking that they’d have to get through 2 meals before the party itself.  And as we went to the party location to help set up right after breakfast we weren’t in a position to give the princess her beauty sleep for the second day in a row.

Amazingly, for being cooped up in a rec room for about 5 hours with very little to do, my kids did very well.  They had to be reminded a couple of times to not run and to quiet down some, but that’s it.  They were loving it because they had my cousin’s children to play with.  After the party the whole family (around 20 people) went out for pizza.  The food was good, the conversation lively, but by the time it was over the five of us were truly exhausted.  We felt like we’d crammed about 6 days worth of activity into 12 hours.  The only bright side was that the snow let up just about the time we were headed back to the hotel.  So it looked like the city would be able to clean the roads overnight and we’d have smooth sailing travelling home on Sunday.

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