Monday, February 28, 2011

Spur of the Moment Joys - Reality Check! (Fantasy vs Real Life)

Today's post is part 2 of "Spur of the Moment Joys - A Great Addition To Everyday Life".  As you know, I had planned a last minute getaway with the family to Ottawa for this past weekend.  I will start off by saying that overall, it was a great break from our regular routine and the kids had a blast.  We had fun too, but let's look at the fantasy I had for the weekend vs what really transpired...

Fantasy:  kids are delighted to roam the museums, they are entranced by all of the interactive fun exhibits, they listen as we explain all of the cool things we are seeing.  Arrive at nice hotel where room is fantastic and most importantly, the heated indoor salt water pool and 2-storey water slide are beyond fun.  Skating on Rideau Canal brings laughter and adventure, kids have rosy cheeks and big smiles. Eating out with no fuss or mess while we enjoy some real quality family time.  Return home from great adventure buoyed by good spirits and renewed energy.

Reality:  Let's first start by saying my kids were very excited and kept asking about the beach in Ottawa and that they hate winter and couldn't wait to be out of the snow.  Uh oh.  Like I said, we usually plan our family vacations well in advance and they are usually to either Mexico or Florida.  Hmm... needed to explain that Ottawa was only 2 hours from home and that it was also cold.  They were very confused and couldn't seem to grasp this idea.  It took a few tries.

Arrived in Ottawa and  we go direct to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  Everyone is happy to be there and to get out of the car.  We buy the tickets and off we go.  But one kid runs off in one direction, and one in the other.  Hubby and I split up each trying to keep a child in sight.  Thank goodness for bbm or we would never find each other.  Kids don't stay long enough at any one thing to actually learn something.  Myles makes a beautiful drawing in "colouring to music" and Charley accidentally cuts it up during "make your own kaleidoscope".  Tears, tears and more tears.  All in all, a good time at the museum. 

After the museum, we go for lunch at a Chinese restaurant as we are all starving - kids fight over who gets to sit next to mommy.  Mommy puts chair at end of table so she is in the middle.  Kids fight over who gets green pen who gets blue pen to draw on paper on table.  Upset that restaurant doesn't offer crayons.  Noodles arrive but need to pick all green things out.  Forgot to order without green things.  No tears.  Phew.  All in all, good lunch.

Arrive at Delta hotel with GREAT expectations.  Room is not ready.  Children are whining and tired and want to swim.  Standing at front desk for forty five minutes as they try to sort out room.  Finally get in room only to arrive and it is not 1 bedroom suite as reserved, but single room.  Husband goes downstairs to yell.  Another 20 minutes later we are in 2 bedroom suite that has definitely seen too many bachelor parties.  Husband is grossed out and puts sheets over everything in  the room and towels all over the floor.  Still with great expectations, I take kids down to pool - they are soooo excited to swim.  Get to pool... where is great big indoor, heated salt water pool with 2-storey water slide???  I nearly choke on my dismay as reality sets in.  Very small pool with about 30 people swimming and about 18 of them in whirlpool (oh right, it's spring break... crap).  Water slide is separate, not heated (rather, they needed to add water and so it wasn't heated yet).  Kids still want to get in and as a good sport, I say OK.  Husband arrives after us and nearly dies.  He is also good sport and gets in, all the while telling me we are going to catch e-coli or some other deadly disease. 

Dinner out is great, except kids are fighting over who gets to sit next to mommy.  So all 3 of us squish in on one side of the booth and each fights over who gets to put their head on mommy's lap.  They bump heads. More tears and screaming.  Finally separate them.  They are practically falling asleep at the table.  Eat fast and leave.  Kids fall asleep during 8 minute car ride back to hotel.

Musical beds during the night at hotel.  Need I say more?

Next morning, we head out early for breakfast.  Original plan was to skate on the Rideau Canal but thankfully was given the heads up by a friend that despite mild temperatures when she went, it was about 20 degrees colder when actually skating on the canal.  I saw the writing on the wall.  Instead, opted for the Canada Science & Technology Museum  - this was also fun for the kids but by day 2 of trying not to lose kids in crowd and splitting up once again... less fun for mom and dad.

On the road home by 2:30pm.  Kids fall asleep exhausted.  Mommy sits in passenger seat and wants to rest but keeps one eye open in case daddy accidentally takes rest.   

Lessons learned...

Probably could have just taken the kids swimming at the pool in Grandma Betty's assisted living building.  It's brand new, nobody uses it, it's really hot in case old people do want to use it, and it's about 3 minutes from home (defnitely no spring break crowd there). 

One museum per weekend is PLENTY! 

Weekend getaway adventure does not leave you buyoed by good spirits and renewed with energy.  It leaves you exhausted and thrilled to go back to work on Monday morning for a rest.

Conclusion:  Although it was a great adventure over all, my fantasy was definitely not the same as the reality!  I will continue to try and add spur of the moment joys to our everyday lives, but I will keep in mind that when kids are involved, expectations and adventures are a tad bit different than they were when I was the kid growing up.  Reality check, done!


  1. not a vacation- more of a relocation learned from my recent visit to Florida.