“I was invited to a convention this weekend. It starts in 5 hours. Want to go?”
I looked up from my work computer. “Um. OK. Do we have a room?” “Not yet, but I wanted to check with you first.”
Fast-forward 5 and a half hours and we are pulling up to the hotel. The drive was 1 hour, give or take, and it took us an hour to load up the car. Before that, we hastily packed everything we thought we would need, but there wasn’t enough time to do that well.
We are on the second night of this trip, and this is going better than the previous night by far. I have learned a lot in these two days. Things to pack and things not to pack. How to get the little ones to go to sleep while sharing a cramped hotel room. How to keep them that way. (Hint: it involves hanging out in the hallway, preferably with a beer.)
Packing on the fly
We packed a duffel bag with the children’s stuff, and one with ours. We planned for one night. By the time we got there, we had both independently decided that we would be staying for two. This caused some issues right off the bat. The girls are in the same night-nights tonight that they were in last night. I don’t have enough contact lenses. None of us have enough clothes. But we are making do.
We have a full diaper bag with plenty of diapers, wipes, and pull-ups, but we forgot the swim diapers. The baby never made it into the pool, (for other reasons), and somebody we met at the pool gave us one anyway, but I made a note of it for next time.
It was easy to grab the diaper bag, which is always pretty much ready to go. Packing our duffel bags was more chaotic. Clothes and night-nights for the kiddos and for ourselves, bathing suits, “floaties”, toothbrushes, toothpaste, more.
We brought along our laptops and an HDMI cable, and I am glad that we did. The original plan was to plug the Roku into the TV, but I couldn’t get it to authenticate to the hotel network. Don’t know if it was user-error, or if the Roku can’t sign on to a network that requires a browser to authenticate. I didn’t waste any time figuring that out, I just pulled out my laptop and grabbed the HDMI cable.
At nap time (by far the most difficult to navigate), I set up some of the girls’ favorites on YouTube (a treacherous place, to say the least, post on that someday), and put them down. The girls shared a bed, and the baby was in his pack-and-play set up between the beds. The girls were so excited to be sleeping in a new place, while sharing a room with their parents that they didn’t really sleep, but they did manage to zone out enough that they got some rest. Without the entertainment, I don’t think we would have been successful.
My wife was at her conference from breakfast until dinner, so we had the whole day with a strange and new hotel to explore. We started with the hotel restaurant, for breakfast. This was my first time with all three children and a buffet. I wasn’t sure how best to handle it, but I put the baby in a high-chair and I told the girls to wait patiently. I could see the table from the buffet line, so I was able to see that they were behaving themselves.
While we were eating, a man with a parrot on his shoulder walked by. The girls were very distracted by that, and I had to remind them to finish their breakfast. Mommy stopped by for a minute, too, and that was very exciting!
Once we were done eating, the first order of business was to find the man with the parrot. We found him after a short walk, where we found several parrots on different perches, and their caretaker. E pet one of the parrots, Rio, but JR was too nervous. I didn’t push.
After meeting the parrots, we walked around the grounds. It is a beautiful hotel, with a lot to see. There was a pond that was full of turtles. They must have been used to being fed, because as soon as they heard us, they all collected around us. We couldn’t reach them from where they were, but everybody, including I — the baby — was very interested in watching them swim.
Later, we got to see some bigger tortoises, who were just walking around in the same area that we had earlier seen the parrots. E got to touch one of them too. She loves animals!
After nap-time, we headed down to the hotel pool. JR is an early swimmer, with the help of a floater. They have come a long way from when I was a child, I wouldn’t have been comfortable without it. She wasted no time getting into the pool and started swimming around like a little fish. I got into the pool with E, but she wasn’t quite comfortable in the deep water, so I let her go into the shallow kiddie pool (which I was quite thankful for), and I set up shop in between the pools so I could keep my eyes on both of them.
At first, I was a little bit nervous about letting JR swim by herself, but her confidence, plus the stability of the floater eventually eased my fears. The baby stayed in his stroller, and the girls splashed and had a great time. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t even have a swim diaper for the baby, so I didn’t intend on putting him in, even though a nice couple with a baby about I’s age gave me one of theirs.
It was pretty uneventful. We ate dinner next to the pool, and then we went inside to find Mommy.
After a long weekend of fun, we were all beat, and ready to come home. We packed everybody up in the car, drove home, and put everybody to bed.
Next time, I’m going to make sure I have a list:
- Swim diapers
- Bathing Suits
- Play pen
- HDMI cable (a long one)