Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Gut Feeling

My parents and brother have abandoned me for three weeks to take a “family” vacation to my father’s homeland of Idaho.  It’s weird that even though I am a married woman with two children, I still see myself as part of that family unit of four. I wasn't at all happy about my mom/best friend is 2728 miles away (Yes, I looked it up).  

Left out and left behind, I was feeling pretty bummed that Mike and the girls and I were too poor to join in on the Idaho fun. So I decided to formulate what I thought was a brilliant plan to take advantage of our two annual passes to Sea World.  Sea World is a smaller park (as far as theme parks go), and my plan was to only spend a couple hours there in the indoor exhibits and then go back to a hotel for a swim and relaxation. We had to drop my parents off at the airport in Orlando anyway. It could be a happy poor man’s mini vacation-sort of a consolation prize for staying behind from Idaho.

I booked a hotel a ½ mile from the theme park that had a ½ price special and used some consignment shop money to pay for the room. We packed a lunch box of hard-boiled eggs and other gluten, soy, dairy free items for us to snack on, and crammed everyone into the car at 3:45 a.m.  I had pretty much everything well budgeted and mapped out. What I didn’t plan on was that Jenna was so excited she decided to stay up and not go back to sleep during the 1 ½ hour trip getting there. When we had 2 + hours to kill before the park opened she did as well as any overly exhausted and excited 2 ½-year-olds could. 

I started having reservations that this trip wasn’t a great idea the night before but dismissed the gnawing feeling in my stomach to nerves. Now as I watched my child running back and forth across the van seats trying to entertain herself, they started to rise again. Suddenly, Jenna announced to me that she had poopied.  (We still haven’t mastered that part of potty training).  I called for her to be changed only to find that not only had she done a most stinky #2 but that it was runny and had soaked through her shorts and was now dripping down both legs into her socks.
“EEWWW!” “That’s disgusting!” (Yes, Jenna, that is pretty foul!) I cleaned her up, floor up, seat up, clothes up, then changed everything, and because she seemed normal and happy 1 hour later, we headed to Sea World and got there at the parks opening. Short lines, slight morning breeze, it looked like the makings of a great day. Naomi was smiling and cooing in our fancy double stroller, so we hit the Elmo show first, saw some sea lions and seals, penguins, and dolphins. Then at 10:45 on the dot, both girls were sleeping. As we sat in the air-conditioning of the Nautilus Theater waiting for the next show to begin, I smiled to myself at the genius of this idea. Everything was going according to plan. We even found a super awesome chef in the Voyagers Smokehouse to make me a sauce-free rib rack so I could eat a great lunch too.  Jenna woke up just in time to enjoy Allure: The Call of the Ocean (sort of a Circ De Sole with acrobats dressed as sea creatures).  She was so impressed she had to meet the performers up close which is interesting because she had no interest in meeting Elmo at all.

After a total of four hours, we went to leave and that’s when things got stressful.  Jenna and Naomi had had enough.  It was after 12 and was growing hotter.  They were tired and so were Mike and I.  We headed for the exit, got turned around and ended up walking the entire long way around the park.  In the stress of trying to keep Jenna from running away that morning, I had forgotten to mark our parking spot on our map and couldn’t find the car.  At this point, Naomi is wailing and Jenna is trying to out-scream her.  Mike and I gently poured water over both girls’ heads which helped for the moment but I started to feel like the stupidest mother of the year for taking two small children to a theme park in July.  Panicked I start praying and finally flagged down a parking attendant on a golf cart. He helped me find our van just 10 cars from where we were looking. I jumped in and backing out glance up at the temperature gauge: 104 degrees.  Air conditioning turned full up and blasting, I raced down the road, leaped out and frantically strapped the kids in, threw the stroller in the back and headed to the hotel.  I didn’t know I was cursing but apparently, I was because Jenna shouted out from the back, “We don’t say that! Say only nice words, Mommy!”

At the hotel, our room wasn’t ready at 3 as promised so by the time we got to sit down I was near tears.  I tried desperately to comfort myself. I’ve had migraines this excruciating before. Aside from the stink of the carpet the room really wasn’t all that bad. So what if there are creepy construction crewmen all along the halls-trying to watch my family and I swim?
“I want to leave now!!!” I sobbed to Mike when we got back to the room from the pool. “If you really want to leave, we can leave.” I smiled through my bloodshot eyes-my husband, my hero! “But we will have to eat the $50 for the hotel. It is almost night and we are all pretty tired.” “But whatever you decide is alright with me.”

This made me sober.  $50 was a lot of money for us. I just couldn’t waste that, could I? And what about the girls? I looked at Jenna who was happily trying to fight sleep as she watched Clifford on TV. Naomi was stripped down to her diaper, snoring softly in her travel cradle. Mike was right. Instead of bailing, I formulated a new plan that I could live with.  Promises were made that everyone would wear socks while walking around the room and no one would touch the quilts that I stripped off the beds and threw into the corner.  I installed a stick-able alarm on the door so that in the event the deadbolt gave out it would provide some added protection. After showers and food, the girls and Mike fell fast asleep, I joined themed at around 1 a.m., at least that’s the last time I remembered looking.  

The next day turned out to be more challenging than the first.  Apparently, Jenna’s diaper explosion wasn’t just a freak event because Mike and I took turns rushing to the toilet every 10 minutes or so that morning. Not so fun when you are trying to drive through Orlando and make your way home.  Then the car kept getting overheated and we had to pull into a Wal-Mart Auto Department and wait 3 hours for them to fix the problem. All the while Mike and I were still rushing to the bathroom despite the 3 Imodium AD’s we had taken when we stopped at a CVS the hour before. I have to say that Jenna was a trooper and very good considering all the calamity and Naomi (praise God) slept through most of it.  In the end, our 1 ½ hour trip home took around 8 hours.

When we pulled in the driveway a silent Hallelujah chorus broke out in my head.  Drained, and sleep deprived I reached for my cell phone to call my mom and them remembered she’s not home. If my mom wasn’t 2728 miles away I’m sure she would have some wisdom to offer in a moment like this. “Think of how much you will have grown from this experience.” “If you saw your trials like God saw them, you would eat them as bread.” To this, I would have to reply, “I think I am just about full.”

It was two days before Mike and I were back to normal again. My grandmother chewed me out for being stupid taking little kids to a place like that during a heat wave like this, “A person like you should have more sense!” In hindsight, I would have more sense and stayed home. Who knew the weather would break records that day.  Who knew the great rate I got was because the hotel was under construction?  Who knew the van had a temperature gauge problem that cost $97 to fix? Who knew the gnawing feeling in my stomach was the beginnings of a most disgusting intestinal virus? Not many could have known.  But Mike and I have firmly decided that the next time I get a “gut” feeling like that, we’re not going anywhere. 

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