Let me tell you, there is nothing like mixing pleasure with illness. I say this as I slowly wait for the snot to drain out of my head. I've been waiting for four days now and alas, minimal drainage has occurred.
This started on vacation. Actually ON vacation.
So the hubby and I loaded up the toddler after dropping the wiener dog off at the dog hotel. (Which we HATE to do - he is a rescue dog, after all, and definitely doesn't like being left behind. You'd think after all these years, he'd figure out we're coming back to get him, but no. Who knew a three-legged wiener dog could dish out the guilt so effectively?) This is the first hotel-based vacation we've taken with the toddler since my sister Hannah got married two years ago in Denver.
The toddler was 1 1/2 then, and I was only packing his little tush onto a plane once, so we went a week early and made a vacation out of it. I think the most consecutive sleep we got in the whole 9 days was 4 1/2 hours. The night staff at the swanky hotel we stayed at knew us by name before we left, because I was usually down in the lobby around 2 a.m. where the toddler could scream a bit more freely without waking up the hotel.
See? There's a good reason it took us another 2 years to try the hotel thing again.
So we headed up north to Minnesota to see one of my oldest friends, Erik (he of the wedding story) and his lovely wife and baby. Our kid is older, so we did the driving. The first night we made it halfway up Iowa and stopped at a hotel with a pool.
I grew up with a swimming pool, but man, I don't think I've ever been so glad to see one as I was that Thursday night. The toddler, completely stir crazy after 4 1/2 hours in the car, kicked around that pool (with alternating parents holding his head above the water) for a solid 45 minutes. I got tired just watching him. Then we went to dinner at some Texas Road/Steak house thing - the one with buckets of peanuts on the table - well, that was a huge hit. Then we headed back to the hotel and did something the toddler's never gotten to do - watch TV in bed.
I love TV. I don't understand it, but I love it. We watched the grown up version of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood called How Stuff Is Made, and then an American rip-off of a Japanese game show called Hole in the Wall - doofuses in silver spandex body suits have to contort to fit through a cutout in a foam wall or be pushed into a green pool of water. Silliest thing I have ever seen, and the toddler loved it. We'd only been on vacation for 7 hours, and already the toddler was having the time of his life.
It only got better. Next morning we bought donuts and ate them in the car. Even the toddler started saying, "We're on va-ca-tion, Mommy!" We made it to the Mall of America by 11, and then the real fun began.
They've got a new theme park in the center of that mammoth mall based on Nickelodeon characters like Spongebob, Blue, and Dora. In his shoes, the toddler was 42 inches tall, so he could go on all but 4 rides with Daddy, because Mommy sure as heck was going to spend that time shopping. After all, the Mall is about 8 times the size of our local mall (with 8 times the number of Hat Stores. Seriously. 8 different hat stores?)
Needless to say, the boys had more fun than you could shake a stick at. Just look at the expressions on their faces on the log flume:
What? Can't see their faces? Trust me, they were having the time of their lives. The log flume was the toddler's second favorite ride - believe it or not, my three year old enjoyed shooting "ghosties" in the haunted house most of all - he even went by himself while the hubby rode the "big kid" rides (seriously - the Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge? Most terrifying thing I've seen in a long time.). The third place went to Big Rigs, a small loop with cars that looked like - you guessed it - Big Rigs. Big Rigs with Bicycle horns. He had a blast. And I got a totally awesome pair of jeans. The mall was a big success all the way around.
After another hotel room with TV first thing in the morning (Oh, the toddler loves vacation!) we headed up even farther north to see Erik and family. They live in a cozy little house near a lake (I know, hard to imagine in Minnesota). One of the problems with being friends with a guy as opposed to a woman is that, in 8 months, I'd only gotten one picture of his baby, the birth announcement. So I was dying to see this kid - and, frankly, see how Erik was handling Fatherhood. (Answer: Wonderfully - except for the part where he sat the baby on the ground and told him to eat leaves. The baby was only too happy to oblige. This is how outdoorsmen get started, I understand. Eating leaves. The kid's got great things ahead of him, no doubt!)
Erik and his lovely wife showed us all the sights - the Festival of Foods grocery store, the Mighty Thirsty liquor store, and the local lake, where the toddler walked around in 2 inches of water chasing ducks who were clearly too old for this kind of thing. But mostly we hung out, got caught up, and ate Mexican while all that fresh Minnesota air settled into my sinuses.
Yes, the perfect way to end any vacation is an 8 hour drive with a squirmy three year old in the backseat and a rising tide of sinus miscreance. But I got us home.
We stopped in Charles City for lunch (really - just outside a windfarm - the toddler LOVED the big windmills.) If you're ever in Charles City, you have to find the vintage park tucked up behind Dave's restaurant (great fried chicken). Vintage 1960s swings and merrygorounds. Weirdest swing I've ever seen there - a diamond shaped humpty dumpty with two swings attached, and the whole thing rotated like a tetherball. Needless to say, the kid loved it. It made me dizzy (which was sort of the point, I gather).
We are still recovering from this vacation. Both the hubby and I are muddling through our snot, and the toddler is struggling to come back down to normal reality. At least the dog has stopped turning his butt to me. He even jumped back on my lap last night. Only took him three days.
But the vacation was a success. The toddler slept in hotel rooms through the night (and stayed dry to boot!) we did tons of fun things (the hubby strongly recommends the Air Bender ride, whatever that is), and had a superb time with old friends. Can't really ask for much more than that. Except another box of Kleenex. I'm all out.