Call me crazy but Thursday morning we packed all five of us in our Honda Accord and headed 7 hours south to my dad's house in North Carolina. Have you ever tried to fit three school-aged kids in the back of a Honda Accord for a long trip and all our stuff?
Besides the small space and vast amounts of stuff the kids did wonderfully. We really do have great kids and I am very thankful for that! We even made it there in under 7 hours. The drive home took closer to 9 because of traffic but it still wasn't bad.
My dad and mom separated when I was 17 and it was a messy, long and drawn out divorce. My dad left my mom for the woman he is now married to. After the divorce my dad and I weren't particularly close and even didn't talk for a year or two. He never was much of the hands on grandpa when B was little. He visited 4 or 5 times a year and showed up at B's birthdays but never babysat B for me. He moved to North Carolina about a year before we moved to Maryland but still came back to Colorado to be part of hubby and my wedding.
Fast forward to this year, he drove up to help us unload our moving truck and visit with the kids. Then in September he took time off work and watched the kids for a long weekend while hubby and I went to NYC. He calls often just to see how things are going. He is still two states away but he is the only family we have within driving distance.
A couple weeks ago I realized hubby, the kids, and I would all have Thursday - Sunday off Thanksgiving weekend so I called my dad to ask what he thought about us coming to visit. He seemed excited and asked for the time off of work.
Our vacation was really simple, we mainly hung out at his house but my kids had a blast! Wyn even asked if she could stay. Proves to me having fun with kids is more about attitude and giving them your full attention than spending money on them. At grandpa's house there weren't many rules, instead it was all about them. Grandpa let them eat all the junk food they wanted, they didn't even have to ask. Grandpa let them watch TV show after TV show, movie after movie, and play computer and video games all day.
Thursday when we arrived we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner his wife prepared, I didn't have to do a thing. Friday he took out his electric scooter (moped) and the kids practiced driving it in his back yard (he lives outside the city limits on 2 acres). Friday night hubby and I were able to go see New Moon and have dinner at Applebee's with free babysitters. Sunday hubby and my dad went out back on the property and shot guns. They even taught B how to shoot and got me to go out there and shoot a few rounds even though I hadn't shot a gun since I was a kid. Sunday afternoon we took the kids to Chuck E Cheese's. Today we packed up and grandpa ended the trip by giving them each $5 to spend on the trip home. Did I mention my kids had a GREAT time?
They also have 6 pets (3 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 birds) we have no pets. My kids were all over all the animals. I was not surprised though they beg me for a pet all the time.
My dad and his wife also smoke inside their house on a very frequent basis. Do I like breathing and smelling cigarette smoke? No! Did it kill me or the kids? No!
The funny part of this all is before I met my hubby I probably would've been way too uptight to enjoy this whole experience. Hubby really keeps things in perspective for me. He said it was good for the kids to realize not everyone lives their lives like us. He also says eating junk food and watching TV all day for a couple days isn't going to kill them. Having a relaxing vacation with no real planned activities was a welcome treat for me. I really enjoy sleeping in and lounging in my pajamas. Next vacation whether it is to my dad's or not I will have to schedule more R & R. The way I do things certainly isn't the only way to do things and maybe isn't even always the best way to do things.
Now my kids are back to reality. They unpacked their bags, cleaned their rooms, and by 7:30pm they have showered and have school clothes picked out and backpacks ready for tomorrow. I hope they don't have too hard of a readjustment phase. In the end I don't mind being the "mean" mom because I know I am doing what is best for them. Kids need rules and guidelines, and schedules to thrive on a day to day basis. Besides I can always send them to grandpa's house to get spoiled.