Confession time: we haven't taken all of our kids away from home at the same time before. As in, we've never gone on any type of real vacation with all five kids without extra hands around. This gives us a bit of parental guilt from time to time, especially because there seems to be added pressure to not conform to "big family" stereotypes like never being able to go anywhere.
But! We happily changed that this week with a very realistic, if short, 4 days away in the mountains at Jasper National Park this past week.
I'll also freely admit that just the idea of travelling with my children makes me exhausted, let alone the actual travel. For some reason I have not been gifted with the superpowers of wanting to travel with my kids (like others we won't mention, cough, Kendra, cough cough, Jenny, cough). We've just always had multiple babies who need multiple naps who hate any car rides and toddlers who want to wig out over everything and not enough money to spend on time away only to undergo different types of this kind of torture. And usually it's not torture all the time. Usually the kids have tons of fun and are fun to be with. It's true, and this trip was no different they were fun and hilarious, and tired and cranky at times. So I fully understand these are my personal crutches because others get along just fine with their normal babies and toddlers who are just as loud and as much work as mine. I get it. But I thought I'd just get my whining out of the way first in the interest of journalistic/blogger integrity. Ok, finito.
I was tempted to make them walk home from the mountains...
It should take about a 5 hour drive to get to the mountains from our house, however, it took us about 7 which we thought was actually pretty awesome. I'd say about 20% of that time there were children screaming/crying/whining which when you think about it is a decent percentage. Of course it still made me want to run screaming from the car for the nearest bottle of tequila as soon as we reached our destination, but such is life!
We stayed on a quiet, pristine, gorgeous lake in a cabin almost as big as our house with a loft of two double beds, a bedroom with a king bed for us and a nice size living room where Nora's pack and play got booted to each night. We also had a full size kitchen, which at this stage of the family game is essential I think. We made all our own breakfasts and lunches, and went out for dinners (two take-outs, one surprisingly well done sit-down in a decent chain restaurant). If I'm going to travel with five kids I'm going to do so as comfortably as possible - you can put that on my tombstone!
My husband and I love, love the mountains and it's been a couple years since we've gone for a trip there which used to be at least a yearly thing for us. I also grew up really close to the mountains and took them for granted, so now I crave them every so often just for a soul refresher of sorts.
I hadn't realized that even the uber-tame things and sights my husband and I like to do in the mountains become highly dangerous when done with 5 small children! We visited waterfalls, climbed up to view glaciers, and took a cable car to the top of a mountain which had me nervous and paranoid. Everywhere there were guardrails my children wanted to climb, bridges they wanted to peer over, near drop-offs they wanted to run towards. Danger, danger, danger! I think years were shaved off my life while we gave these children adventures. Maybe we should have been a little more choosy with our sites we visited, or at least brought 5 small leashes to protect everyone from falling off heights, into waterfalls, tumbling down mountainsides; but everyone remained unharmed - so parenting win! (However, my hands-free parenting style probably caused a lot of raised eyebrows when we had 4 kids running in 4 directions at the top of a mountain.)
Nora still hates being in a baby carrier!
And these were her "happy" in the sling faces!
Sure, I may have used the excuse "my baby just doesn't like being worn" before this baby because I hate wearing babies, but with Nora I didn't have to fib at all because she still hates being forced into a carrier for the hour or so a day where we went hiking just as much as she did as a newborn. Grumpy Kitty did not find the mountains too exciting but she did love her some ice cream!
The boys got their fill of rock throwing, fish watching, swiming in the lake, playing in new playgrounds, and watching various new and exciting motorcycles around every corner. Gemma was crying when we had to leave, she loved the life of vacation. Nora slept almost through the night every night by a variety of miracles. And the husband and I crashed on our bed at about 10:30 each night! It was a pretty great holiday, we made it through with mostly flying colours even if we're completely exhausted after 4 days! Maybe next year we'll be a little more crazy and go for 5 whole days...
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