I’m often amazed at the sheer amount of planning and preparation that goes into doing anything around our house. The volume of items to be checked off various to-do lists, the angles that need covering, and the back-ups to the back-ups.
Beth and I just got back from a mini-vacation; vacation for me, work conference/vacation for her. It is rare that we get away together – just the two of us. It’s usually more hassle than it’s worth.
We went to Soulfest together a few years back, and were only gone for five days. The kids still refer to it as THE FIVE DAYS. We divided them up. Each kid went in a separate direction. It’s not easy to find a five-day babysitter for three kids, especially when one of them is Jake. They were so sad and homesick they actually vomited, and cried for most of the time we were gone. Obviously, we were nervous about this one.
This vacation had a lot of moving parts. It was going to take place from a Friday to the following Sunday. Here’s the breakdown. Friday through Sunday would see the whole family at the ASM’s Family Retreat Weekend, held in Standish, ME. Beth and I would fly out of Portland, ME, on Sunday to her CADCA conference in Florida. We would stay there until the following Sunday; simple so far. The younger two would then spend the Sunday through Sunday at Aunt Heidi and Uncle Dave’s in Topsham. Jake would go home with Skip (Meme) and spend the week with her and Grampie Lyons in Medway.
Meme was scheduled to have surgery the week before we left. She wasn’t sure if she’d be recovered enough to come with us. We needed a back-up. Thankfully, my stepmother Shirley agreed to fill in. I can’t thank her enough. Her task was outside the realm of anything she’d done before, but she handled herself well! Her job was to attend the ASM retreat as Jake’s 1:1 for the weekend, while Beth and I were in class. She then had to pack up everyone (in our absence, as our plane left Portland at 7 a.m.), drive Gabe and Liv to Topsham, and deliver Jake to his Meme in Medway. She, along with Grampie’s help, would then be well enough to care for him.
The kids were less than comfortable with the idea of us sneaking out under cover of darkness and disappearing off to Florida. Thankfully, Heidi and Dave had spent the day on a beach in New Hampshire, and were willing to stop into Standish on their way home, late Saturday night. We got to have a formal send-off with the younger two before they went to their week of adventure with Aunt Heidi.
Our flights were uneventful (we had a two hour layover at LaGuardia), and we landed in Orlando without a hitch. We rented a car, and spent the Sunday through Thursday morning at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. It’s where the conference was hosted. It was beautiful. Once the conference ended on Thursday, we had to pack up and move to our second hotel, the Hilton Double Tree by SeaWorld. It was nice, but definitely a step-down.
The younger two kids had an action-packed week at Heidi and Dave’s. They spent the night in a New Hampshire hotel after they went to a minor league baseball game. They toured the coastline, went to the beach almost daily, and even visited Aquaboggen in Saco. It was a trip tailor made for them. Thank you very much for taking such good care of them Heidi and Dave!
Jake had a much quieter vacation of sorts at home. He has his extended school year (summer school) that he needed to attend, and bounced back and forth between his house (where he is most comfortable) and Meme and Grampie’s in Medway. His vacation was quiet, routine, and orderly; just the way he likes things. Thank you Skip and Bob (Meme and Grampie) for helping him keep some semblance of order in our absence!
Beth had taught him to use FaceTime before we left, so Jake got to “call” every morning after he woke up at 6 am, and would “call” again at 8 pm, when he puts himself to bed. It was a nice touch that helped him and kept us connected. He and his Mom needed to see each other’s face every day. Gabe and Liv were kept so busy, I don’t think they realized we weren’t there!
Sunday the 27th came, and we packed up our things from the second Hilton, returned the car, and spent the next 8 hours either flying or waiting in airports, before touching down in Portland, ME. We retrieved the van from long-term parking, and sped to Gardiner, where we met Gabe and Liv. We were all so happy to be together again! We loaded them up, and hurried home, where we found Jake pacing in the front yard, anxiously awaiting our return. I was afraid the reunion might trigger a fit or meltdown, but he handled himself very well.
We arrived at Orlando International Airport at 9:05 that morning, and pulled in our driveway in East Millinocket at 9:35 that night. It was a long day!
Anyway, I just wanted to post a formal thank you to Shirley Whitehouse, Bob and Skip Lyons, Heidi and Dave Dickey, and Ashley Dickey, who met us in Gardiner because her parents had to be out of town on Sunday. I got a few days of playtime with my wife, in sunny, child-free Florida, and I couldn’t have done it without all of your help! Thank you again!