Hello from America's Dairyland!
Vacation was way too long. Vacation is supposed to feel too short. Welcome to traveling with a toddler.
Overall, vacation was successful. We spent four nights in hotels for a grand total of $200 (yay, Priceline!). We got to see the various family members we intended to visit. We had very few car meltdowns. We even got to do some kid-fun things.
But overall, it was exhausting.
There was the first day, when we drove and drove to the halfway point, and Olivia protested loudly and often at her confinement to the carseat. She refused to nap more than 40 minutes all day. Then, when we finally DID get to the hotel, she ran around and opened all the drawers and climbed into the window and tested all the buttons on the TV until we were exhausted. We worked for more than an hour at trying to get her to settle down and go to sleep, and as a last resort we finally put her in the car and drove around for 20 minutes. Not a good start.
The second day was better. We spent the morning at a local zoo before departing for the second half of the trip.
That gave Olivia some play time and allowed for a good nap window once we finally did get going. She behaved passably well at dinner with Aunt Julia, and then she was rewarded with a swim in the hotel pool. This hotel was better suited for us because it had a pullout couch. We put the mattress on the floor and Voila! Instant bedroom. Olivia went to sleep without much trouble and slept all night. Score!
The third day was when we finally reached Grampa's house (Olivia's Great-Grampa). Because of our schedule, this day offered almost no nap time, but Olivia behaved fairly well. When she is nap-deprived, she is off-the-charts active. I don't know how that works, exactly, but it's true. Luckily, Grampa has a big backyard so she had a place to work out her energies.
Yep, I'm a farmgirl on Grampa's tractor!
We drove around that night until she fell asleep because we weren't about to play the exhausted-but-not-sleepy game again.
The fourth day had us driving and driving. We met a cousin for lunch. We drove some more. Olivia napped intermittently, as if she were bored and there was nothing else to do. We stayed in the same hotel as we did the second night, and Olivia slept as well.
The fifth day was a long day of driving, back toward home, where we'd spend the night at my brother's house. Their housing development has a park, and Olivia was more than happy to finally be allowed to play. By this time, my husband and I were exhausted from all the different hotels and schedules, but Olivia had finally settled into a routine of sitting. I guess she just figured that this was the new normal. So the playset was a welcome surprise for her.
The final day had us driving a short distance to a cousin's soccer game, and then another short distance to another cousin's birthday party. Olivia enjoyed this day the most, because there was a large amount of time for her to just play and be a kid. She really enjoyed the birthday party, and participated in the games with all the other kids.
Olivia is the third kid with the orange balloon.
After the party, we made the five-hour drive home.
I have never been so happy to see my own bed.
It was a good and necessary trip. I mentioned before that Grampa is in his 90s, and we want to visit him and let Olivia get to know him while he's still with us and well. But it's just hard. It's such a long drive that it's hard to do in one day, which explains the several days of driving and different hotels. But even if we had stayed in one place for several days, I doubt that it would have been very relaxing for us. Taking toddlers out of their routine is just hard. It has consequences. Even so, I'm glad we took the trip. And I'm glad it's over.