In retrospect, it is probably not a wise idea to go to work the day you're set to fly out on vacation with your family of four for a week. However, given that we were going to be gone for a solid week, OJ and I felt it financially prudent to get in as much work time as possible, so we both DID go to work Wednesday morning. I did most of the packing beforehand, but you know there's always those last minute items...toiletries, sleeping buddies for the kids, food, and so on. There's always last minute home details to take care of, too. So I spent most of my day at work worrying about all the details; never mind the fact that I had made lists to cover all the eventualities. My mind just won't shut off and I kept going over the lists, trying to make sure I didn't forget something; all with one eye on the clock, worrying about whether I'd have enough time to get everything done. In the end, I left work half an hour earlier than planned. And in the end, I would have had enough time even if I hadn't done that. But then I'd have felt even more rushed, so I'm glad I did.
OJ was meeting us at the airport direct from work, so my dad very graciously drove me and the kids to Midway. I lugged two toddlers, three backpacks, and two carseats into the airport, where a very nice Delta agent helped me print out our boarding passes as she simultaneously entertained my children. My husband joined me a few minutes into the process, providing much relief and a most welcome set of extra arms.
I'm not a huge fan of flying, truthfully; it just feels unnatural to me. And plummeting to my death is pretty high on my list of ways I DON'T want to die. Having my entire family on the plane with me ups my anxiety exponentially. Once we're in the air I can manage to relax, but going up and coming down leave me pretty tense.
Thankfully, the two flights to Fort Lauderdale were easy and uneventful. We had forty minutes between the flights, but really, by the time we de-planed the first flight, it was time to walk to the next one (the two gates were, luckily, right next to each other; we connected in Atlanta and I did not get to appreciate how very HUGE the Atlanta airport is. The flight home, however, definitely gave me that chance. But that's a whole week away still!) and immediately get on the plane. So it really didn't seem like much of a delay.
Also, laptops and iPods have COMPLETELY changed the face of traveling with children. COMPLETELY. When we take road trips, we spend a good amount of time watching movies (rather, the kids do), but I still try to resurrect some of the good old road trip games in between flicks. In the air, the travel games don't work so well at this age, but the movies sure do! Both kids were enthralled by Pixar films and old episodes (new to them) of Tiny Toons and Pee Wee's Playhouse. (Mom and Dad don't mind watching along, either.)
(I do have this great airport card game called Flying Rubberneckers that helped us kill some time in the terminals. It's basically a card version of I Spy...my kids are still too young to hold their own hand of cards and play for points, but we had a grand time going through the cards as a family and spotting the different items and people.)
We landed in Fort Lauderdale around 11pm (their time; they are an hour ahead of us), and my father in law was waiting eagerly to pick us up and take us to the boat, which was to be our home for the week. We were starving and he was happy to oblige, so we had a very late dinner at a tasty diner on the way to the marina. It was a decent walk down the marina to the boat, but everyone was fueled by excitement. Good thing too, because we were carrying all our luggage and couldn't have managed to carry the kids too! The inky black midnight water was beautiful, but it has that an eerie quality as well; my son was most sensitive to it and immediately began imagining monsters in the deep. On the walk, he was pretty much dead set that no way, no how was he getting on a boat, were we CRAZY? But once we got there and lifted him on, and he was able to see that it's like a little house, all fear was gone and excitement kicked in full force.
By the time we got to the boat, got the lessons on operating everything, figured out where the light switches were, and got the beds made up, it was close to 1:30AM. We put the kids to sleep on the table-that-turns-into-a-bed, and conked out!
OJ and the kids in the living room area, near the TV. You can see the table-bed down the stairs there.
The kitchen. On the right is a fridge, freezer, and lift-off stovetop. There is also a microwave hidden in one of the cabinets. On the left is a sink, toaster, coffee percolator, and a bar top to eat upon.
The kitchen view from atop the bar (my back is to the sliding glass entry doorway; I'm standing in the living room).
The bedroom, aka "the cave". It's pretty much just a huge bed with a surprising amount of storage hidden all around (and under!) it. There's also another TV in here.
The bathroom. Small, but functional! I even showered there once, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been thinking it might be. (I did shower more than once that week; we just did the majority of our bathing at my in-laws house.)
Barnacles on the pier at low tide. When we arrived the night before, I asked my father in law if we'd be in any danger if we were clumsy and fell off the pier when trying to get on or off the boat (I was thinking more of myself than the kids; we fully planned on keeping a death grip on all children when passing them to or from the boat!). He told me there were loads of barnacles all over the pier and you could get cut up pretty badly. He wasn't kidding! (Side note: I can't think of barnacles anymore without picturing Isabella Rossellini in her Green Porno series. Thanks to her, I know that barnacles have the longest penis to body ratio of any animal.)
What a great note on which to end a post.