Friday, May 1, 2015

Friendcation

Last week we took a couple days off work and headed south for a mini vacation with a bunch of our friends and their families. We rented a beautiful 6 bedroom log cabin in Branson, Missouri and braced ourselves for a fun and eventful weekend. With 10 adults, 3 kids, 2 toddlers, and 3 babies inhabiting one house for four days, things were bound to get interesting. I think all of us were so excited at the thought of actually spending four entire days together that we didn't care what kind of shenanigans the kids we would possibly get into.


 


We stayed in Lazy Bear Lodge, one of four animal-themed chalets that sat right on the edge of Table Rock Lake, which meant that every detail of our cabin (down to the light switch covers) was decorated with bears and other wild life. The decor included a giant stuffed bear that hung over the main fireplace, a stuffed wild cat over the entry table, and other stuffed critters scattered throughout the house. This little guy in particular was our favorite.


We left Thursday morning and traveled caravan style, which makes everything more fun. Previously, we would've driven fast and reckless to get to our destination as soon as possible, but with kids in tow we made plenty of pit stops for feedings, diaper changes, and to let the little ones run off some energy. We stopped for lunch at the infamous Lambert's Cafe just outside of Springfield. The thrown rolls and laid back atmosphere were the perfect way to kick off our vacation.


Upon arrival, Taylor made sure to give all of her friends big hugs. The only thing better than having a child of your own has to be watching your child play with your friends' children. Watching them play together throughout the course of the weekend was surreal, but seeing the happiness on their faces and the love they have for each other was absolutely priceless. My photo taking skills were less than fair (as I was having too much fun to remember to get my camera out most of the time), so I didn't get pics of all the kids, but how sweet are these little faces?




By the time we arrived at the cabin and got settled in, it was time for a quick dinner and baths for the little ones. It had been a long and tiring day of travel for all of us, and the adults were ready for some kid-free time and a few cold ones. Once the kids were asleep, we built a fire on the screened in porch and laughed and reminisced all night. No amount of money in the world could ever buy that kind of therapy. Sometimes you just need to be with your friends, remember the old days, and be thankful for where they have brought you.


We spent the next day hanging out at the cabin. It was rainy and windy and none of us were in the mood (nor had the energy) to do much more than cook three meals and clean up after the kids. After nap time, we headed outside to explore the grounds which included a mini golf course, sand box and play area for the kids, and (the adult's favorite) a zip line. We're all just big kids ourselves, so it was no surprise when we each took turns flying across the property on (what was supposed to be) the children's zip line. Even my husband put the 150 pound weight limit to the test when he flew past me, his butt grazing the grass below.
 


That evening, we made a taco bar complete with Coronas and beer-ritas for the adults. This vacation was definitely family-centered but, let's face it, we were incredibly excited when bedtime rolled around each night. Thanks to a three story cabin, we were able to put the sleeping children mostly upstairs and use the downstairs for own own. We attempted to relive our college days but quickly realized that babies wake up at 6 a.m. where you like it or not. Hangovers and early mornings do not mix, my friends.


Saturday morning we were up and out the door early, hopeful that the kids would nap in the car on our lengthy drive into Branson. After a light lunch and some shopping on the Landing, we decided that riding the Ducks would be an activity that everyone would (probably) enjoy. And let me just say, it turned out to be GREAT choice. The kids and adults had a blast riding around Branson in an old military vehicle, but the real fun began when we drove into Table Rock Lake and the kids were able to take turns being captain of the boat! The fresh air combined with loud music, non-stop quacks (thanks, Arnolds!), and a sense of adventure had smiles on all of our faces.







That evening, we grilled burgers and hot dogs and had a big family-style dinner, the perfect way to end our last night together.



Unfortunately, sometime in the early a.m., three of the adults woke up with a terrible stomach bug and were downright miserable as they juggled being sick while still performing their mommy duties: one nursing her 3 month old baby, the other a mom to 6 month old twins, and the last with two kids as well. Needless to say, their illnesses made packing and cleaning Sunday morning an even more arduous task than it already was. Once the cars were loaded, we said our goodbyes (with waves instead of hugs) and were on the road by 9:30. Our awesome friendcation was quickly sabotaged by either food poisoning or the flu bug, although we're still undecided as to which one.

We arrived home Sunday afternoon, quickly unpacked the car, and laid the tot down for a nap. The early morning must've gotten the best of us, because our entire family napped until nearly 6:00 that night. What we weren't aware of at the time was that Taylor's poor body was beginning to fight off an illness of its own. Things were fine all day Monday but the next morning her fever spike to 102.7 and we knew something wasn't right. She stayed out of daycare the majority of the week, alternating time at home with Jake and I, and had been a sad sight the last couple of days, whining about everything and just wanting to be held. Yesterday morning her fever finally broke and we were beginning to see glimpses of her happy, playful self.


It has been a looooong week for all of us, but I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say we had a great time regardless. Our goal is to continue this vacation every year so that our kids will have wonderful memories together, just as the adults do. Traveling is never easy with kids in tow, but I think they all handled themselves pretty well considering how young they are. Now that the trip is over and everyone is back in good health, it's time to start planning for next year!