Vacation Should Be A Four Letter Word

Vacation. The word sounds relaxing and exciting, right? When you think of vacation, you think of a warm beach, a crystal clear pool, a snowy ski slope and of course oceans of wine. Am I right?

As a kid I always remembered our vacations as a fun escape from school and fun with the family. It was a time to go somewhere fun and new and exciting. We always had great ones like Washington DC, Myrtle Beach, Skyline Drive, Disney, Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, and a million other ones in between. I guess that they were such a blast in my memory book because I was the kid and not the parent. I didn’t have to plan entertainment, plan for car rides, traffic, book hotels and figure out ways to pay for everything. Everything just always seemed to flow seamlessly as a kid. Now that we are adults and we have to plan these vacations with our own kids, vacations might as well be a four letter word. Because I have used a ton of them during the past few vacations. Vacations are tough.

When my husband and I start planning out our next vacation will be, we go into it with as much excitement as a kid waking up on Christmas morning.  It’s fun trying to decide where we are going to blow our money each year. We used to take annual trips to Avalon, NJ but now we have been trying out a few new places. We have done Hershey Park, Rehoboth Beach and we were even going to attempt Disney.  We had the trip 75% booked, but then we ended up buying a house and couldn’t do the trip.  And as I look back I am probably happy that we didn’t go, who the hell wants to spend a 10 days in Disney with their kids?? Oh yeah, I guess a lot of people! We were definitely sad to give up the trip but we couldn’t pass up on upgrading to a new house.

This summer we did get to enjoy a few days in Lake George (with 2 out of 3 kids) and then Rehoboth Beach with all 3 boys. Lake George was awesome and so relaxing.  Then spending a few days at Rehoboth Beach boardwalk with all of the cheap rides, arcades, the beach and the hotel pool was great. I always like to take pictures of our trip and post them online. But not everything I post is as pretty as it seems. Yes, of course I post the fun, sweet pictures, but we all know that vacations can be pure hell with kids — especially 3 boys!  Does anyone else feel this way? Or is it just me? Why is vacationing with kids the most difficult thing in the world? I mean look at these sweet little faces from the summer, how could they cause so much trouble and drama?

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What you don’t see in the pictures that I post (and what everyone in the world posts online) is that 4 minutes before this one of them was screaming about sunscreen in their eyes and the other one was fighting with his brother because he splashed him.   It may look like we had a picture perfect trip, but trust me, we didn’t.  That’s the thing with online social media.  Everything seems perfect in everyone’s lives…. but it’s not. And that’s okay. I get it that no one wants to talk about the fighting that goes on before and after the perfect shot. But I don’t mind talking about it. Here’s our little story of our last vacation!

Lake George October 2016

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The boys had a four day weekend from school and we thought that it would be a great time to go on another trip. Four days away sounded nice. Like I said when we booked it, we were happy and thrilled to get away. We decided that we loved Lake George so much this summer  that we would go back again in the fall — with all three boys.

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Ben missed it over the summer because, well to put it nicely, we all needed a break. He definitely needed a break from us and his brothers.  Don’t get me wrong, mom guilt was with me the entire time we were away, but it was necessary and we all ended up having a great time. He wasn’t in 1/2 of our pictures because he wasn’t even with us for half of our trip.  Like I said, vacation is not always fun and exciting. It’s just like life but in a very expensive location.  Hey, he enjoyed time with his grandparents and we enjoyed some time with a little less fighting.  It was a win-win situation. Would I do that again, probably not but at the time in our lives, we all needed to regroup.

Well as this fall mini vacation got closer, I was becoming very nervous for a variety of reasons. The main being that the boys had lost their iPads the week before for bad behavior and there was no way that we were going to cave and give them back. We had done that one too many times and this time we had to stick to our punishment. So this meant 5 hours in a car (each way) with three kids and no electronics. This mommy had to plan. So when did I plan their in car entertainment???? ummmm 11pm two nights before our trip. Thank goodness for some great ideas from friends and for Amazon same day delivery.

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Well the day arrived, we were set to head up to Lake George! I was so sick to my stomach. Wasn’t vacation supposed to be exciting? Why was it such a hassle this time? But after we got on the road, something strange happened on the way up to New York – the kids were good. Sean read his book for almost three hours. And if you know this kid it’s not easy to get him to sit and read. He finally finished his very first chapter book! I was practically in tears. Owen watched some tv and then took a very long nap. And Ben worked on a Road Trip Journal and a few other mini activity books. He also spent a lot of time drawing pictures. It was strange but for almost 5 hours the car was silent. It was amazing. Of course I knew that this wouldn’t last the entire trip. So I sat there in silence and savored every moment of it.

A happy moment in the car vs. the moment his brother started to annoy him at the end of the trip by resting his feet up around his seat. See I can post the nice pictures vs. the reality.

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We finally arrived at our hotel (which is awesome by the way – The Holiday Inn) and then all hell broke loose. There’s just something about hotels that makes kids lose their shit. It must be the beds that they can jump across. Or the fancy bath soaps, or maybe it’s the key cards that they all fight over using. Who the hell knows but whatever air they pump into the rooms makes these boys turn into wild animals.  So after we unpacked and rested for a short time, we walked a bit around the hotel to show Ben all of the fun things.  Then we hopped in the car and headed to dinner.  This crew was hungry! We headed to one of our favorite spots in town Adirondack Pub and Brewery.  They have great beers and great food. We have hit this spot several times over the past few trips to Lake George. The kids were pretty good at dinner, and we still enjoyed some good old fashioned entertainment (Mad Libs, Word Searches, etc).  Thankfully the food was quick and we had a decent dinner! There was minimal fighting and we survived without the iPads. It was a Christmas miracle!

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The next morning we woke up and went down to the hotel for breakfast. So we ordered our yummy buffet while the kids devoured pancakes and chocolate milk! We decided to spend the day walking around in downtown Lake George. There are tons of stores, arcades, restaurants, etc. It’s a bit touristy but it’s fun. Our first stop of course was for mommy at the winery.  There’s a cute little tasting room for Adirondack Winery right on the main street. Over the summer we stopped in there for a quick tasting about bought a few bottles of wine.  This time around we found a front row parking spot so I got to run in without any children and do my sampling.  Delish!!! After a few samples, I purchased a bunch of wine for vacation and to take home. If you are ever in Lake George, stop by the winery! The barrel aged chardonnay is my favorite!

So now I was happy and ready to take on the day with these clowns.  Our next stop was the arcade. The boys were dying to go all morning long.  So we finally strolled in and I knew right away that a meltdown from Ben was on the horizon.  One of the prizes was a Five Nights at Freddy’s toy. Well it was at least 750 tickets and after all four of us playing for an hour we still weren’t close even if we combined our tickets. Ugh! Finally after 20 minutes of convincing him that he would never have enough tickets, he settled on candy. Yes we spent an hour in the arcade and at least $50 so he could buy $3 worth of candy! Fun times. But Sean picked out a few small things and was a happy camper. That kid is easy to please. It was a fun time. I was happy that I could play skee-ball and the boys were happy running around just throwing quarters into random games. I would have snapped pictures of the meltdown but I couldn’t get out my camera in between talking Ben down from his breakdown on why he just couldn’t play for more tickets.

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After the arcade mommy and daddy needed some refreshments, so we stopped off at a nice little bar called the 163 Tap Room for a quick beer.  It was nice to sit outside on the main street and have a cold glass of some IPA. The kids were being good at this point – mainly because Ben spent 45 minutes eating all of his candy (thankfully he shared some with his brother).  After our beer we headed over to Adirondack Brewing for a late lunch. Probably not the smartest move after two of your kids just ate a ton of candy. But we were hungry.

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This is where the second of the major meltdowns occurred.  We sat outside since it wasn’t too crowded and I was hoping we could have another nice meal like our dinner the night before. I was wrong, very, very wrong. This is one of the meals where I never sat down, Owen wouldn’t sit in a chair, Sean wasn’t hungry and Ben was yelling because he didn’t have enough fries. I was crying of embarrassment. Let’s just say that the young couple that was seated next to us won’t be having kids anytime soon.  I don’t know if they were just tired or having a meltdown from the sugar overload. So we scarfed down our delicious meals and I took off for the car.  Back to the hotel so the kids could explore the hotel and pool again and to work off their wild behavior.

The hotel has so much to offer for kids – that’s why we decided to go back to this one instead of trying something new.  We just spent an hour or so walking around playing on the playground, the putting green, basketball and shuffleboard.  Ben even attempted chess. I think he was just trying to make patterns with the pieces but he was having fun outside!

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After playing outside for awhile, we decided to go to the pool for a little bit before dinner. The boys were in heaven, they now had Sean’s new ball from the arcade to play with and thankfully they all got along.  They made a friend or two in the hot tub, which quickly became their favorite spot. Even I got into the hot tub. It was outside and since it was in the 50s, it felt wonderful. I think Owen enjoyed it the most since it wasn’t as intimidating as the pool.  The meltdowns stopped and we had a great time.

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After the pool, we cleaned ourselves up for some dinner. Dinner didn’t go as smoothly tonight, but we survived.  Thankfully the restaurant was dead (since we spent a lot of time swimming and had a late dinner) and we didn’t scare away too many people.  That’s the thing about traveling with kids.  No matter how much you have planned, no matter how much you spend or where you go, there will be meltdowns.  It’s inevitable with three boys who don’t get along in the real world, so why would they get along on vacation.  Dinner took a lot longer than expected and we had a few impatient kids.  The massive amounts of question games and Mad Libs that we played while waiting just wasn’t enough.  By the time dinner was over we were all ready for bed.  But it was such a nice night and the fire pit was going so we tried to sit by it for a few minutes.  Over the summer Joey, Sean, Owen and myself sat there for at least two hours.  I think this time around we got 2 minutes.  Owen was running all over the place and Joey and I just couldn’t relax and deal with chasing them around.  Ben was screaming he wanted to go to bed, so off we went.  It was pretty for the two minutes that we were there.

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We all crashed that night and were ready for our next and final full day of vacation. Joey and I decided to drive down to Saratoga, which is only about a 30 minute drive away from the hotel.  During the car ride and once we arrived, Ben was being very rude and had a horrible attitude about walking around town. We went into a nice toy store and he had a meltdown because he couldn’t get a book.  I was going to buy it but Joey reminded me about his attitude that morning and we agreed it wasn’t right to reward him for his behavior.  Well you can see what happened next.  I spent the next 15 minutes trying to calm an out of control kid on the side of a gorgeous downtown main street while in front of a wine store!!!!! Why was it too early to drink???? AHHHHHH

After walking around for a bit we needed some lunch.  And since Ben was hangry and only wanted pizza so of course we had to stop into a pizza shop to feed him. I knew if he didn’t get pizza the day would just go downhill, especially since we were headed into a nice restaurant for lunch. I mean look how happy the kid was now that he had a few slices of pizza.

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The rest of us found a nice Mexican restaurant to enjoy our lunch and mommy finally got her glass of wine! AHHHHH The kids did well here (mainly because hangry Ben was full).  He spent our lunch drawing pictures in his notebook.

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On the ride back to Lake George, we decided to stop and visit this mountain drive that was right outside our hotel.  It’s called Prospect Mountain and was a great spot to see gorgeous views of the lake.  We were going to do it that morning but it was too foggy out.  It was mid afternoon so the perfect time to check out this spot. Now of course we had the typical Callaway boy reactions – Sean was all into it and Ben complained. At Prospect Mountain, you can either hike the trail or drive up to the top and then walk the last 1/4 mile up the trail or road.  We of course decided to drive up.  We are not hikers, Joey’s legs and back are still killing him and were not dressed to hike. Oh and from what I have read it’s steep in a few spots and not recommended for kids. Especially our kids who can barely walk to the car without complaining how far away it is.   The mountain is about 2030 feet above sea level and has the most gorgeous view of the bottom of Lake George.  There are three lookout spots to park your car and then you park at the summit. We walked up the road for the last viewpoint. Whew! Just getting up that hill was a hike. But we made it to the top and it was worth it.  Ben cried every step up the hill but he was in heaven when he saw the lookout viewer. Thank goodness I had a few quarters in my pocket to keep him entertained while we actually admired the view (and made sure that Owen didn’t walk off the cliff). Definitely worth a visit during the fall months.

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After Prospect Mountain we hit the pool and hot tub one last time.  You spend all of this money to go to a nice fun town and all the kids ever care about is the hotel pool. Oh well, I’ll take it. It’s one of the very few times where Sean and Ben get along so it was worth it.

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This time Joey took the kids to the pool so I could have a few minutes of quiet in the hotel room. And by quiet, I mean drink two glasses of wine without having to entertain the kids.

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Ahhhh just mommy and her wine which only lasted about 8 minutes until I was asked to bring Sean’s ball down to the pool! DOH!

Dinner that night was pure hell. The boys would not settle down. I thought that after a day walking around town, doing a mini hike and spending an hour in the pool that they would be a little tired! NOPE! Dinner was a disaster. We tried Mad Libs again but this time everyone had run out of adjectives. Well Joey and I had a few that we could use but probably not ones that were appropriate for the kids to hear.  Owen again wouldn’t sit still.  Next time no matter if the kids eat free or not, I might do room service! Worth the extra $15 in meals – haha!

I wanted to do the fire pit again but that lasted about 8 seconds. It was time to go back to the room again. After an episode of some kids show, they all fell asleep! FINALLY!

The next day it was time to head home.  We went down for a quick breakfast – which wasn’t so bad this time around.  The kids were happy to have their pancakes again and by this point we just wanted to get on the road.  So we loaded up the car and took a short drive to the west side of the lake to check out the views and the drive.  Then we jumped on that interstate and booked it home!

Vacationing with kids is so exhausting. Kids fight, people cry, someone doesn’t get their way but in the end, you do it all over again.  You do it because you do have those few moments where everyone gets along, where the view is absolutely amazing or you find a restaurant that everyone enjoys. Or maybe you just drink enough wine to get through the trip!  I guess in a way it’s just like childbirth…. it’s horrific at the time but you forget about all of the bad parts when you decide to have another child.  So when Joey and I start planning our next vacation, I pray that we forget all about the horrible dinners, the fighting in the hotel room, the bratty behavior when God forbid I force a kid to walk 1/4 mile and I remember that one special moment, that was captured in one picture, that showed me why we do this to ourselves as parents…….

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