Before we had children, my husband and I participated in that rite of passage for all college students, Spring Break! I myself went to Chicago, Il; Panama City, Fl; South Padre, Texas; and Pensacola, Fl. All of these trips were memorable in their own way, but none of them will ever compare to our recent trip to Pensacola as a family of four!
It all started on the afternoon of March 12th. We had planned on leaving soon after I got off work at 1pm, but my husband got held up in a meeting and we didn't actually leave until closer to 3pm. We had been driving in the car for about an hour when I commented to my husband that the kids were being very well behaved and that depending on how things went, maybe we should just drive straight through instead of stopping and spending the night in a hotel as we had planned. BIG MISTAKE!!!! We stopped for dinner around 6pm at a McDonalds with a play place so that the kids could get out and stretch their legs a little while we ate. About 45 minutes later we got back in the car and I fed the kids their meals. Then my stomach began to grumble and churn. I tried to make it to the next planned bathroom stop, but couldn't! My husband grundginly pulled off the road so that I could make a pit stop. After that was taken care of, we were back on the road. When we next stopped for gas, we set up a bed in the back of the van so that my husband could sleep while I drove for a little while. It was at that time that the children started to get crabby and need to be entertained. We drove for about 1/2 an hour trying to get the kids quieted down to play in their seats or sleep, but it just wouldn't work. Randy was upset because he needed to be able to sleep so that he could drive the stretch between 4-6am when we would be nearing our destination. Frustrated we pulled over and switched back drivers (almost turning around to go back home in the process!) I tried to entertain the kids and get them to stop crying so that I could take a nap and do the driving early in the morning. We made it a few hours without too much trouble. Then Aidan started crying and I could not find a pacifier. We stopped at a Wal-Mart and Randy ran in to buy a package of pacifiers. This worked for a little while. Then around 2 am the kids still had not really gone to sleep and were being really crabby. We decided that they would hopefully be able to sleep if we just had beds, so we pulled over and checked into a hotel. We got to our room and laid everybody down and they just cried and cried! One of us needed to be able to get some sleep, so I took the kids down to the parking lot around 3 am and put them in the stroller. We walked around the parking lot for about an hour and neither one of them even had heavy eyelids. I was so exhausted, I had to take a nap. I put the kids into their carseats, so as not to wake my sleeping husband in the comfortable hotel bed, turned the car on, locked the doors, and took about an hour nap. At about 6am the kids were awake and I decided to go back to the room, since my husband had had about 3 hours rest. The kids would not play quietly or sit to watch tv or go to bed, so we just ended up waking him up. We packed everything up, grabbed a quick bite to eat and got back in the car to start driving for the day. We stopped once for gas and then another time around 10 am. We went to another Wal-Mart in hopes of buying a DVD player to replace ours which was not working very well, so that the kids would be entertained. I played with the kids in the toy aisle, while Randy checked out the DVD players and got some lunch to eat in the car. We settled back into the car, sans DVD player, and had some lunch while we drove. After eating both kids fell asleep and we finally arrived at our hotel on the beach around noon. We immediately went to the pool to find the rest of my husband's family. We got out Reese's swimsuit and she was off and swimming! Grammy took Aidan to get him ready while we took all the luggage up to the room and changed into our swimsuits. Unfortunately for Grammy, Aidan had pooped through his diaper and all over his clothes. She gave him a quick bath in the bathroom and he was swimming when we finally got down to the pool to join them. We swam for awhile, then went to play in the sand. Finally, we cleaned up and went to town to eat dinner and get some groceries for the week. When we finally returned to the hotel, we dressed the kids in their pajamas and put them to bed where they finally slept! After a 21 hour trip with the kids on very little sleep, we fell into our beds and fell asleep.