If you recall, last year we took the family to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It was simply dubbed as the Vacation from Hell. We never really bothered reflecting back on it, we didn't want to look at the photos... It was by far the worst vacation we had ever been on. Quite honestly when we began prepping for this years annual trip to the OBX, to say that I was queasy was an understatement. I had absolutely no desire to go. We drive down there, it takes us about 5.5 hours or so usually with all of the kids, and then we stay for 2 weeks. This time... I hemmed, I hawed... I put off leaving until Wednesday of the first week. I was filled with dread as we filled the van. I was convinced that we would get down there and the swine flu would hit. I was so convinced in fact, that I had prescriptions for antibiotics for all of our kids, as well as one for myself. JUST IN CASE. Because after last year, one can NEVER be too prepared.
We drove down, and the trip was seamless. The kids were purely joyous to be going to the beach. Of course they asked us every 5 seconds when we would be there, but that was par for the course. William and Jon drove in their own car, and Myself, Adriana, and the other 4 kiddos were in my car. I followed him down to the OBX, and aside from a screaming back we made great time and it was an awesome trip...
Since we had just been in Florida the month prior, we already knew what worked for us in regards to sleeping arrangements. We put both of the girls in Pack N Plays in our room. William in our Bed, and the boys in their own room! Since we had brought ample childproofing equipment it only took a second to make a quick sweep of their room to make sure that it was safe for them. The room had 2 twin beds, and a trundle bed. Jack was pleased to sleep in a big boy twin bed, and with the trundle pulled out, I wasn't afraid of him falling onto a hard surface. Evan slept quite well in the trundle. We brought monitors, nightlights, blankies, noise machines, everything that they might need. They slept amazingly from the first night on... It was FAB-U-LOUS. The girls and William in our room, was also working quite well for us. My parents switched rooms with us, and gave us the Master Suite. We had a ton of room for their PNP's as well as for all of our "stuff". Also, our room was on the main living floor. This really let us keep our stuff contained... Anytime there were kid clothes or whatnot strewn about, it was easy to shuffle it all into our room. Simply because it was RIGHT there. All of the kiddos slept so well during our stay, the only complaint was that they woke so much earlier than normal. Around 630!! Jon was incredibly frustrated by this, and as hard as he tried, he couldn't get them to lay back down to sleep... It could have been just excitement over starting yet ANOTHER day at the beach!
Before we left, we brainstormed over how to make this trip easier on us... We had a really tough time in the years past keeping the kids in specific areas. Keeping them out of the kitchen. Away from the pool. It had been nightmarish at times...
This year though was DIFFERENT! We had GATES!! We brought enough childproofing equipment that we could've childproofed the whole neighborhood! We had three of these gates. They collapse down to nearly nothing (almost like a beach umbrella) and are so easy to transport in their own carrying bag. Nita, had bought two of them before heading to the beach with us and I was able to borrow one from a very generous neighbor. We were able to completely gate off the kitchen, dining room, and elevator from the kids. It was invaluable. Jon and I actually commented more than a few times that this type of gate would be great for rental homes to have stashed away in the closet. Since they are so compact, lightweight, AND cheap ($40!)!!
So between the gates, the meal planning for the kids, the awesome help that we had from Adriana, the delightful weather, the company from Nita, Rick, and little Ricky, and of course the company of our family... This was by far the best vacation that we've had with the kids, since they've been around! I would do it again in a heartbeat!
**And since there's just no way that I can possibly put up all of the great pictures we took... I'll actually put up a NEW photo album over there on the right hand side for all of you who only follow me here and not on Facebook!**