First, road trips with little children go so much better if you come prepared! Jacob loved listening to a couple books on tape with his own personal cd player and head phones. Grace and Joshua really enjoyed the pom pom push it in game. I also made each child a cookie sheet with some magnetic games. Those were all a huge hit!
We're all smiles.....so far. Getting there always seems to go so much faster and be so much more fun than the coming home part.
The next thing I learned is that on the outside, my family likes to try to make people think we look like this:
But really, on the inside, we feel like this:
I'm not sure what parent provided the goofiness that makes the Ruth family tick, but none of us missed out on it in the gene pool. Some definitely got more of it than others, but we all got it nonetheless.
Did you know it takes three picnic tables to seat and feed 18 people at one time? Well, now you know. It also takes a lot of charcoal (three grills) and a lot of Capri Sun's to adequately hydrate seven little boys and one little girl.
I learned that nephews are seriously a lot of fun. Especially in large quantities all at one time. Add in a touch of sleep deprivation and lots of freedom to roam and stay up late at night....they just get even MORE fun.
Hmmmmm....that tiny touch of sleep deprivation and late nights can make adults get a bit of the sillies too.
I learned that laser tag and the bouncy pillow can make everyone "think" they are a kid again.
It takes massive amounts of bacon to feed 18 people at breakfast and campgrounds give you skillets that are way too small to cook massive amounts of bacon at one time. It also takes massive amounts of pancakes and one master chef to prepare enough pancakes for 18 people. You should be prepared to eat pancakes and bacon in shifts if it is raining while camping.
I learned a thing or two about my children during this leg of the vacation, as well. First, kitchen sinks make an outstanding option for a bath tub when faced with either bathing WITH your child in the shower or sticking them in the kitchen sink.
My children can be naughty anywhere. They do not reserve it special for home. Below you will see Joshua and Grace sharing a pack 'n play. I put them down to nap and heard a lot of noise. They figured out they could scoot the pack 'n plays across the floor to get close to each other. Then Joshua got out of his and into Grace's. Naughty babies! Busted!! They don't look too worried about the consequences here....
Children can surprise you anywhere, including on vacation. Like Grace, who won't eat fruit at home, who ate grapes and blueberries by the truck load on vacation. Now we're home. I served grapes with lunch today. Did she eat them? Nope.
I learned that camp fires are fun, but also seriously intense with little kids around. I am very thankful for the watchful eyes and helpful hands my siblings offered around the fire!
Lastly, I learned that nothing quite compares to making memories with your family, no matter how goofy, silly, or nutty they are. I love my family and I am so glad we had this opportunity to ALL be together in one place at one time. With folks in Kentucky, Michigan, and New York, a large gathering with all the spouses and kids is pretty rare (the last time we did anything like this was when Jacob was about 9 months old!!).
Congratulations, Mom and Dad. You made it 50 years! What a rare and special lesson you've taught all of us about commitment! We love you and we are so glad we had a "reason" to get together. I learned this was fun. Let's not wait till we have a "reason" to do it again!