Tuesday, April 9, 2013

High Roller Spring Break

I'm not sure how, but I survived Spring Break. (EIGHT school days off...it was a long one!)

In fact, Sunday night I went to bed feeling all bluesy around the edges. We'd found our new routine just in time to disrupt it again. I didn't want them to go back. I wanted everyone here. Also, I wanted to stay in bed 'til 8.

Isn't that just how I am? Wishing for the thing that isn't happening? (The answer is yes.)

It has me thinking about how infatuated I really am with predictability. I've been pondering the rhythms of our days and the way they treasure-map the path to my sanity.

But I digress.

Over Christmas break we were supposed to take a trip to Kansas for a few days. Then Calvin's health hit a rough patch and the doctors nixed out-of-state travel. The kids were kinda bummed about missing out on the family reunion and sackcloth-and-ashes grieved about missing out on a night's stay in a hotel.

So that was our consolation prize - A night's stay in a hotel!

(A word of advice from someone who knows: Never pass up a photo op with a drab duck. You'll just never be sorry you have it.)

But then two tires went bad and there was much teeth gnashing.

They understood, in their own way. We laid it out as the simple truth that it was: We need to buy two new tires. We don't have money for both. The car is more important. We'll make it up to you.

Spring Break = Making it Up to You

People, we took them to the Comfort Inn 20 miles away. Sixty bucks for the night. Two double beds.

They were so geeked, you don't even know.

We used the side door because Cory insisted on parking at the end of the building, closer to our room. Like it was a true, throw-back motel with the room doors on the outside. The second we made it inside, this conversation ensued:

Ruby: It smells...different in here!
Silas: Yeah, it smells fancy!
Calvin: It's the pool. And the nice carpet.
Mommy: It's chlorine mixed with stale cigarette smoke trapped in the kinda-dingy burgundy carpet.

(Pretty sure Cory was the only one who heard me. I'm not here to be a dream crusher.)

The kids raced around our palace and practiced switching on all the faux brass light fixtures. They slid around on the nylon comforters. (cringe)

It might as well have been Disneyland.

They threw on their suits and Daddy took them swimming while I drove down the street to Marshalls where I found THE BEST EVER bathing suit for $30 with the original $190 price tag still attached.

Dear Marshalls,
Please uphold your commitment to keeping orignal tags on all high-end merch.
I thought the bathing suit was sort of interesting, but only after I spotted that tag did I realize how truly breathtaking it is. After all, it's not so much about looking good as it is beating the system.
Very Truly,

After our afternoon activities, we did what anyone would do on a fancy vacation: dinner at Golden Corral.

People. It was expensive. But I'll sing its praises for the rest of my life or at least through Fall. It just opened a few months ago and buffets always require a certain degree of bravery, but I'm a believer now.

Dear GC,
Thank you for making your mashed potatoes from scratch.
The blue cheese crumbles on the salad bar were a nice touch.
I'd like the recipe for your guac.
And I'm very sorry I took four desserts. It was really too much.
Ever Yours,

Back at the hotel, we were closing in on bedtime. And that's when things got interesting.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Earlier, at dinner, I noticed Silas walking around with both hands tucked so adorably in the front pocket of his hoodie. I distinctly thought to myself, "He doesn't usually do that! He's the cutest ever."

(Silas at a cross-roads.)

Fast forward. We're back at the hotel. It's time for jammies. I pull the hoodie over Silas's head and an unidentified object flies out of his kangaroo pocket and lands on the floor. It looks like a restaurant pager, but GC didn't give us a restaurant pager....

Calvin gasps. Louder than necessary. "Ummmmmmmmmmmmm! I saw those at Ace today!"

Silas stares at the burgundy carpet.

He's been caught. Red-handed. With a clip-on, battery-powered, flashing, bike reflector. Classic Silas material. And he kept it hidden for over 7 hours.

Once again, we did what any awesome parents would do: "Silas, if you steal something again the police can come and take you to jail."

(Keep in mind, jail is not at all theoretical to our shorties.)

Silas cried his eyes out. "You're making me sad! I don't like you to boss me! Don't boss me! Daddy is mean when he bosses me! You're making me saaaaad! I don't like it when you boss me! Etc..."

We read a chapter from our book and the kids were out.

It had been an emotional evening.

The next day?

Free hot breakfast, more swimming, community zoo that we have passes to from last season (cousins Jack and Macy met us there!) and lunch at Culvers with gift cards scored by Calvin from one of his past medical procedures. (Our pediatric Hematology/Oncology clinic does not mess around.)

Immediately after this picture was taken, Silas went ahead and tossed his plastic fish-food cup over the edge of the fence, onto the ground. Like that episode of Mad Men when Don throws his picnic trash onto the grass then drives away. Almost exactly like that. (Uncle Kevin hopped the fence because he's heroic like that and environmentally conscious.)

It was hill-billy perfection.

So much fun.

So almost entirely free.

We'll not be re-thinking this wheel.

ps - Bike reflector was returned using this script: "My name is Silas. I stole this from your store. I'm very sorry."

pss - My friend Nici wrote today about their spring break, which was pretty much the opposite of ours in every way. Truly beautiful and maybe a bit envy-provoking. Like ours. (Not at all.)

What was your spring break high point?


  1. Loving your spring break story! My 7 year old daughter thinks hotel rooms are "da bomb" but I won't let her near the bedspreads (double cringe).

    We stayed home for spring break and had play dates and stayed in our pj's. We did visit Stone Mtn one day but we shied away from all the "pay to enter" places and went old school with a hike up the mountain, picnic by the lake and frisbee on the lawn! My Sweet Girl said it was the "best day ever".

  2. ps - Bike reflector was returned using this script: "My name is Silas. I stole this from your store. I'm very sorry

    We did this when our son stole basketball cards from a store we went to all the time....and daddy took him over to the local police station and had an officer talk to my son about "the slippery slope". You're a good mommy.

  3. This is wonderful all the way around, from "sackcloth-and-ashes grieved" to "don't boss me" to threatening to take him to jail. So real, so true, so HILARIOUS.

  4. my husband and I read this aloud. you were cracking our stuff up. I adore you. truly. xo

  5. This could be my family. The only thing that matters at a hotel is the pool and jumping on the bed. We stop at Golden Corral on vacation to get some fruits and veggies in our systems. And then the kids eat cotton candy that is larger than their heads and cancels out all the fruits and veggies.

  6. We didn't really have spring break here (though my mom visited for a few days and I got a NAP! I think I got two naps! Hallelujah. And she took us to the dreaded Chuck E. Cheese for the boys, and then after games we went for real pizza instead of whatever they serve there.)

    My favorite line of this whole story was, "It smells fancy." Love.

    The boys and I had to meet my mom out of town in the fall for an appointment for G, and C STILL talks about the hotel. Every time we talk about going to see Babushka he wants to know if we are staying in a hotel. Um, no. Mommy got about 2 hours of sleep that night. No hotel until you are old enough for adjoining rooms, haha.

  7. That's a Canada goose, not a duck.

  8. Spring break for my kids is merely a dream. I don't know why, but they don't do it here in our schools. We get a Friday off here and a Friday off there. They think we aren't picking up on their screwy system, but we are. So, sadly, for me there is no spring break to hang with my kiddos. I look forward to Christmas break and summer break every year, and, don't tell my kids, but I'm always okay when they are just a little sick (not like puking their guts out or horrible sore throat) so that I have an excuse to let them stay home and have some one on one with me. You are very brave for letting your kids play on the hotel bed covers. I am happy that you had a good time.

  9. I loved the part where Siley returned the bike reflector. Thanks for putting that in there...I have to admit I was worrying about it. Excellent ending! What did the store say??

  10. Oh my gosh! It sounds like an absolutely perfect break to me. Do you know, the kids LOVE when I take them to a hotel. They think it is the coolest thing ever. I think about how I can't really sleep good on a bed that zillions of people have slept in and the kids are jumping and laughing and LOVING our uber cool vacations.

    I laughed out loud about your comment about the smell of the hotel : ). You are too funny for words.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Sounds like you made the most of your spring break! And, yes, the line about the smell of the hotel? Classic.

    I just had to tell you my own story of larceny. I was six years old and we had just had dinner "in town," which, in my farm-girl-growing-up life was a major deal. After dinner, my dad had to stop by the pharmacy on our way home, so I went into the store with him. It was there that I spotted the pack of green Dentyne that I so desperately wanted--no, needed. I asked my dad for it, but, being the frugal farmer that he was, he said no. So I slipped it into the front pocket of my dress when he wasn't looking. (Who knew it was that easy?!) When we got home, it was time to get ready for bed, and my dad insisted that he help me take my dress off. I was insisting just as hard that I was a big girl and could do it myself because, of course, the pack of gum was still stashed away in the pocket. As he lifted my dress over my head, out fell the green Dentyne. Long story short, I had to face the store owner the next day, it was horrific, and I never stole another thing again in my entire long life. The end.

  13. This was the best!

    Silas thinking it was fancy.

    His stealing the reflector- lol.

    The buffet. Brad fears them. His stepdad is obsessed and used to strong-arm us into going while visiting. A few illnesses later, we flatly refuse.

    I took my nephews to lunch over spring break here. It was a few weeks ago. They were well behaved. An old lady (80+++) came by our table to let me know she thought Andrew wasn't eating correctly.

    Was he excited about his rainbow pancakes? Yes. She was out of line. I just stared at her, then she said " that's not how we did it. Just MY opinion." And I said "sure is! You have a good day now."

    Later on Andrew declared " the Catholics just take themselves WAY too seriously!" While in line at McDonalds on a Friday during lent.

    He then went on to order two double cheese burgers.

    We drove home, passing his school where he yelled " there's the school that's failing me!" (?? He's in elementary school.)

    It was.. Perfect. Still makes me giggle.

    Emerson refers to hotels ( when we've stayed in them ) to " our apartment". :)

    I love them so!

  14. Our spring break was so amazing that it might take me three or five posts to write it out. Seriously. I'm ready to leave again. We're headed in your direction next, in fact. But I think Indy's as close as we'll get to you.

  15. I love this. My kinda adventure.

    We had a freebie beach house for 3 days, which was heavenly even though it was freezing and windy as all get out on the beach. My kids charged straight for that 55 degree water. Except the teenager who almost didn't come with us, until I packed up his video game machine and told him I would leave it at the beach house. He called us when we were about a mile down the road and asked if we'd come back and pick him up.

  16. My high point: celebrating my little guy's 4th birthday. And to keep it real...my low point: cleaning up vomit at 2:30 in the morning. Yay stomach flu!

  17. When I was about Silas' age I stole a piece of bubblegum from a CVS (or something of the like). When we got in the parking lot I handed my mom the empty wrapper. I was not nearly as clever at thievery as your little guy ;)

    Silver lining: after my lecture I never stole again!

  18. What is it about sleeping in a hotel? I think all kids love it. :)

    We had family visiting us for the first half of spring break so we hit a lot of Athens hot spots (short people style); the end of spring break we took it easy. I loved it. There was one day when I never left the house and didn't get out of my pj's until noon. I think that one was my favorite.

  19. These kinds of trips can sometimes be the absolute best. Stories and laughs for years to come. We once stayed in a hotel that I swear it was a cover for some major drug lords or something. It was BAD. But we laugh about it to this day. We'll never stay there again, though. Live and learn, you know.
    I read about Nici's getaway, and yes, you guys were on way, way, WAY opposite ends of the spectrum. ;)


  20. I have had a few spring breaks over the years just like this! Just wait until your kiddos are big and talk about "that vacation". It's so funny to hear their recollections!

    My son found an army man as a little boy that was "just laying on the floor" of a drug store and when I realized the situation we drove back and asked to speak to the manager. Instead of it being a good lesson about why you don't steal, and how being honest about his actions, the manager decided to play head-games and threaten both us. It was a disaster!

  21. Ah! We've been at that zoo and had that picture taken, too :) It's nice to visit friends/family. And it's amazing what kids think is fancy. I've been reading your blog for several months but couldn't remember how I stumbled upon it. That link to Dig's website is the answer! I must have found you through her.

  22. Thanks to the federal government (said no one never) we were able to take our girls on our very first family vacation to Sea World in San Antonio. It was alot of fun, and my girls loved it!

  23. This is so great! When our girls were little the highlight of spring break was taking them to the 'big' city and eating at Swiss Chalet. They were always thrilled even though most of their friends were going to Disney World.

  24. i love this. this is so my kids, they think staying in a semi-crappy hotel for a night is the best thing ever. now, this is coming form two kids that have never even been to chuck e. cheese.... so their idea of amazing is a bit skewed.
    ps- i wanna go to a doctor that gives culver's gift cards instead of stickers and dum dums.

  25. Sleep in. Ski. Repeat. That was our spring break in a nut shell! I have a disproportionate amount of pride in the LACK of showering that went on during spring break... 2 in 8 days (it's the little things)!

  26. We don't get spring break here, so your spring break IS a little envy-provoking! But, we did get an ice/snow day today...in April.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Staying in nearby hotels is the bomb!

    When we walked into the hotel lobby, our boys saw the big gold lettering.

    Grand Ballroom.

    OH NO! They said! We left all our balls at home!!!

    Then we walked into the room. They laid eyes on the huge mirror on the wall and preceded to dance in their undies and practice karate moves. Priceless.

  29. I loved every word of your Spring Break story....memories don't cost anything except maybe your sanity...:)

  30. You're so funny and your stories never cease to amaze me.
    Our spring break was ho-hum until we left for a night in Atlanta last Thursday.
    We bought city passes and saw the coke museum and the georgia aquarium...and ended with CNN...wouldn't have visited there except my kids heard they had the longest escalator in the world. go figure.

    i was SICK with allergies and a chest cold but I managed to complain as little as possible...
    getting away is always fun....the pool at the hotel occupied our kids for hours...we sat and talked...so needed!

  31. you know what i laughed at the most? the ending where you shared to read nici's story of spring break and i guess i was feeling sarcastic because i though to myself..with the drama of social media and curating lives etc..that YOU fpfg..know the diff
    anywayzz..reminds me SO much of my life in raising the kids..i can't even go there without writing 50 pages
    but just know i get it..in the ways that matter
    and the sliding on the nylon bedspreads...TOTALLY get