Alex's family usually heads to the Gulf, or Orange Beach area, each year for vacation. Last year we went with his sister and her kids while I was pregnant as a "last hurrah" vacation before kids. :) This year we couldn't really do the beach, for lots of reasons. But his sister who lives in Atlanta said we could come visit any time! Her youngest was turning one, and we decided we'd make it down for his party!
Obviously having the van helped a lot; I don't think we could have managed otherwise. I was pretty nervous about them crying in the car, since there's nothing I can really do for them. They're typically pretty good, but it's such a long way and it's not like they're old enough to watch a movie or anything. We left Thursday around 4, after we'd fed them an early dinner (they usually eat after 5.) I was honestly just impressed that we left pretty close to our planned departure time. We were on the road till close to 7 before we had to stop. There was some slow traffic around Louisville, and Henry had started crying off and on around 6. (I passed him some gram crackers, but that was about all I could do to help him!) We stopped at a steak/roadhouse type place that was pretty empty and had a nice, quick dinner. We changed them into pajamas and clean diapers in the back of the van (woo, go van! bonus points for changing area) and gave them both an 8 ounce bottle. When we got in the car we gave them their bulldog lovies and hoped for the best! They did pretty good with sleeping almost straight through til we got to her house. They woke a few times, but since it was dark, they'd go right back to sleep. It wasn't as fun for me and Alex, though! It felt like forever, and it's never that great driving in the dark. I maybe slept for a few minutes here and there but never really got comfortable. We got to her house at 2:30 am I believe, and transported the kids into the pack and plays she had set up for us. (That was another thing I worried about, since they'd never slept in those for more than a quick nap.) We set up our sound machine and changed their diapers and they pretty much went right back to sleep! It was a minor miracle. :)
Friday we just took it easy, but it was fun to see the boys playing with their youngest cousin, Josh. We went to a mall for lunch and to check out the play area. (I could have shopped a lot longer, but nap times were approaching!) The boys got to see their older cousins that evening and just check out the new surroundings. They napped great the whole time we were there, probably because of the constant stimulation! Friday night the older boys went to a movie party birthday in the neighborhood, and Stephanie told us to tag along! So we got to sit outside and watch the movie Rio (which was cute!) and eat birthday cake, while the boys were home in bed. Kind of a fun date!
Saturday morning we went to the pool in their neighborhood. It had been 100 degrees all week, so we went early to avoid the head (around 9:30 am.) We had the pool to ourselves, and had a great time. It was fun for Alex to get to see them in the pool and in their floats, since he'd never been with them before. Then Josh had his party! It was low-key, but cute. Stephanie make cakes in the shape of a basketball and a baseball and decorated them, and had lots of yummy food. (Including some family favorites, like chex mix.) My boys ended up taking a nap during the cake part, but that's ok. They'll get to eat cake at their own party, soon enough! I'll have to get some pictures from Stephanie's camera for some party pictures. Saturday evening we just chilled out at her house, since it was still too hot to do anything outside.
The boys enjoyed playing with new toys and checking out new foods. Josh had different types of puffs and a steady supply of Cheerios, which the twins loved. He also had a toy piano in his room that they loved to pull up on and play with. I fell in love with it, too, since it did so many different things! I was determined to find one for them when we got home (which I did! Yay for Once Upon a Child!) Josh also got a blue car to ride in for his birthday, so Henry and Holden both got a turn in that while Noah pushed them around. It was pretty cute! They both seemed to enjoy the ride. (Don't worry, it did have a seatbelt!) I thought the boys did great with all the new surroundings. They both got two new teeth while we were there, and they didn't even really fuss! I was proud that they slept just fine and stayed good natured the whole time. And it was really cute to see all the cousin bonding time with all the boys. It was hard to get any good pictures since 6 boys don't tend to hold still very well, but I'm glad we at least tried. :)
Sunday we decided to go ahead and head back home after lunch, since I had students to teach on Monday. We had talked about going into Atlanta to go to the aquarium or the World of Coke, but decided that didn't make sense. The aquarium was too expensive to try and go and not know how long the boys would tolerate it. I wanted to do it, but realized they won't remember it yet, anyway. So we'll save those for our next trip down! We packed up the car and had lunch all together at a Mexican place. We got on the road home about 2. I think we stopped at a McDonald's/rest station around 4:30 or 5 to feed the boys and just get out for a bit. We hit some traffic around Nashville, and really slowed down. The boys were restless again, and even though it was early, we decided to pull off and eat at a Cracker Barrel there. I'm so glad we did, because we heard there was a big accident ahead. And if we hadn't pulled off at that exit, we would have been sitting for a LONG time with cranky babies. So we ate, they ate, we changed them in the back of the van (yes, I felt very white trash with my half naked babies in the parking lot!) and we pulled back into the barely moving traffic. I think we finally saw the accident after another half hour on the road. It was actually on the other side of the highway, but it was bad enough to slow traffic on our side, as well! We got going for a while after that, but then hit a huge thunderstorm and more construction in Kentucky. (I texted my mom, hoping we maybe got some of that rain in Indy, too, but no such luck.) I think we finally made it home around 1 am. Luckily, the boys went down again pretty easily, and Alex and I finally got to crash as well!
Holden and Zack
So in all, it was a very successful first family vacation! I kind of wish I had canceled my Monday lessons and stayed another day, but it all worked out ok. Thanks Stephanie, for letting us stay! I'm looking forward to joining the family at the beach again next year! :)