Our Family Trip to S.C. and D.C. – Days 3 & 4

Days 3 & 4: We’re On Vacation!
I booked a 3-star hotel about 30 min away from Emily’s house, because the only 3 options near her were 2 1-star motels with sketchy to just bad reviews, and 1 2-star hotel with a possibly racial incident, but also because I REALLY wanted a room that had the beds separated from the rest of the room by at least a divider I could hide behind and use the computer while the girls slept – if not a real wall and door! Which put us 30 min away at least. Then I realized an indoor pool would be way better than an outdoor pool, so lo and behold we ended up with a 2 Queen bed suite at Home2 by Hilton. Y’all, this “room” was amazing! The bed room was the size of a normal hotel room, and then there was a large-ish bathroom, a full efficiency kitchen (with full size fridge, microwave, even a dishwasher! No stove.) with a small dining area, AND another room for the TV, couch, desk, whatnot. The suite was huge! Except for the ugly yellow it was painted, and what I later realized was a recent building being poorly maintained, we really liked it. The indoor pool was partially under glass, and unfortunately on a Sun facing side of the building, so the room was Hot. But it also meant the pool water was a wonderfully warm temperature! There was an average size exercise room, the girls really enjoyed it. Aurora called it the play room, lol! And maybe the best part for me (though the suite and pool were really great too), was the free breakfast: They had normal continental breakfast, plus make your own multi-grain waffle – which Amber had each morning with chocolate chips – and a bunch of pre-made, wrapped up stuff that you could heat up in their toaster or microwave – which is how they got around not being a hot breakfast. Aurora had fruit loops every morning. She loved it ’cause such sugary and artificial cereals are not served at home. The first morning I headed right for the cylinder hot pot with the steaming cereal symbol on the side, because I love fresh oatmeal that I put brown sugar in. I said to myself, “Oh! Yay! Oatmeal!”, opened the top, and exclaimed to myself, “No! Not oatmeal! Grits! Because I’m in the South!” and I laughed! Ah, my preconceived notions based on where I live. I chuckled for a while, had myself some grits with brown sugar, and I really liked it.

Anyway, our first night there was actually Day 2. By the time the girls and I arrived, they were being AWEFUL. I know it’s because they were over tired and hot, but so was I and I just couldn’t take it. They were still up at 10 pm, and I needed them to fall asleep. It wasn’t pretty. But once we had a good night’s sleep, we were all good again.

As part of all the schedule rearranging, I had been unable to get my medical school application finished. And it NEEDED to be finished, so as not to apply to med school too late to be taken seriously. Monday morning (that’s Day 3), I spent writing a new start to my personal essay and re-writing the rest of the essay. I had a remote advising appointment on Tuesday morning, and I was supposed to send my drastically changed personal essay Monday morning to my advisors to give them a day to read it. I hadn’t had time before that morning to work on it. I didn’t get it read-worthy enough done until just after 1pm on Monday. The girls got to watch a LOT of TV that day! Which they loved. Normally they have a 2 hour per day limit on screen time. But hey, we’re on vacation! Though Aurora was baffled, because the hotel only had cable / satellite, and we only have Roku (streaming) and DVDs at home. She couldn’t understand why we couldn’t “pause it” or “go back”! Commercials were a brand new thing too, and apparently not one either child much liked.

So I finally get my essay finished after lunch, and housekeeping shows up to clean the stuff that wasn’t clean when we checked in the night before (the night desk attendant had emptied the kitchen garbage for us, but everything else had to wait until full staff was on shift). So the girls and I head down to the pool even though Emily and the oldest 5 of her 6 children haven’t shown up yet. The plan was to family swim at the hotel’s pool that day, then head over to a fast food restaurant with an indoor play structure for dinner and hopefully us two adults getting catch-up best friend time while the kids played. It worked out pretty much that way, just started later than expected. We still had over 2 hours in the pool! What turned out to be a salt pool, not chlorine! I had felt weird when we first got in, like the water was compressing my chest. Then I noticed my breasts were more floaty than usual. I wasn’t sure what was going on, until I accidentally got water in my mouth, and it tasted wrong – it tasted salty! Emily confirmed it when she took her present youngest out to use the potty.

The pool was 3 foot deep at its shallow end, and 5 foot deep at its deepest. Aurora was tall enough to stand and have her whole head out of the water in the shallow end! She loved it. Amber was able to touch with head out of the water to just past the 4 foot mark. All the kids had a great time in the pool! Even us parents had some fun. Emily did not allow her kids to splash, but the two oldest tried to get away with doing it anyway. So finally I broke free from my kids, and showed those two how splashing is properly done! And how wave splash making is also a great defense against being splashed! Hehe. Dinner and play worked out as planned. I don’t properly remember, but I think the girls and I also did a just the 3 of us family movie night that evening too. It was a good day, despite my PMS. And I was super looking forward to breakfast the next morning.

Day 4, Tuesday, we were supposed to go to a jump gym or bounce house with Emily’s entire family. After all, I wanted to see her husband, Jericho, too! (I had see the 2 year old on Sunday, Day 2. The little flirt!) We had planned all indoor activities for our visit with them, because we Northerners just melt in this Southern heat. Turns out, they struggle with the heat too. !All these people are crazy to live down here in this! I said that many times, but I added to Amber that I expect they call us crazy the same way living up North in all that snow in Winter!

I had my remote advising appointment to review, and hopefully finalize, my personal essay at 10am. And we didn’t quite finish! 2 of my 3 advisors were present, and they wanted to finish too. So they offered me their lunch hour to cover the rest of it. So great! Emily and I made contact, she to tell me that she was having difficultly getting her family up (as in awake) and going. I to tell her that I needed more time because I was having an impromptu second advising appointment at noon to finish my essay – and that it REALLY needed finishing. She understood the importance for me, and I think she was relieved to not be the cause of delaying the day’s plans. So my kids got more TV again, no one complained once I promised we’d make it to the pool at some point that day! After the advising was done, we went to the pool, just the 3 of us, for just over an hour. Then it was time to get dried, dressed, and off to see Emily’s family.

We all got out to the trampoline place, only to find their hourly admission rate was 80% more than stated on their website, AND you HAD to buy their special trampoline socks for use on their equipment, you couldn’t wear your own normal socks – which were NOT included in the hourly admission rate. For a group of 12 people, that was prohibitively expensive. We expressed our displeasure to the desk staff (without swearing at them), and left. We decided to go to the Museum of York County, because the children’s museum was closed due to a water main break that had flooded its first floor! No one was overjoyed for it, but it was our only option. Turns out, as Emily put it, we should have just planned on this museum for the day! It was great! We show up, and they are running a NASA 50th anniversary of Man on the Moon event – that day! The former administrator of NASA was on premises, and they had a guy who brought a moon rock for people to touch! Also, NASA stickers. :) Then, the museum had a room for “explorers” with dress up gear, a log to crawl though, a tree to climb inside the trunk of, up out onto a tree fort, AND with a rock climbing wall!! After that we saw some natural history exhibits, a taxidermy exhibit of real, and large, animals. Lastly we found a children’s play room, and a dark of night animal exhibit! The kids had a great time. Oh, parents too :)

As this day was Emily’s birthday (and my half birthday – we’ve mentioned that makes us perfect best friends), and my present to her was to be a family portrait, I made all of her family snuggle up together in front of the fantastic space background the NASA event had up and took their pictures. Emily has long lamented to me (only) that she doesn’t have any picture of herself with her kids. Years ago I Paint cropped her head onto her husband’s body in a photo wit her four oldest, before the last 2 were born, and that was the best she’s had. It’s been difficult to get a family picture with her, because Emily has pretty much refused to have her picture taken since the car accident that left her in the ICU for almost a week. But, as I’m her legit best friend, she acquiesced for me. Love you, Emily!

We went back to Emily’s house for dinner, tv time, and what little bonding time we had left in this trip. Emily bought the girls each a slushie on the way – they were huge! And they were the small size! I had some of each of theirs instead of one of my own. Another thing the girls loved, as I haven’t been allowing any since I quit my job to go to school and have had no income. Aurora also enjoyed that it turned her tongue blue! Which reminds me, we also got Wendy’s frosties on the drive down, Day 1, and Dunkin Donuts’ donuts on the drive down, Day 2 – more things we haven’t had in over a year due to lack of money (except the one time that weekend in Chicago when frosties were 50 cents each – I got us 2 to share). The only treat I think we didn’t get on this vacation that we’ve been missing since I’ve had no job is Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins.

Emily and Jericho bought a window A/C unit on the way home too. Jericho and I installed the thing as we staved off children scavenging pieces of it for toys, while Emily looked on and lamented “Why can you two work together so well, and he and I can’t?” I tried to give her a helpful answer, but all that came out my brain and mouth was, “Because we’re not married.” Jericho left for work. Emily and I fed the 8 kids and ourselves. We talked in her room, watched some TV with the kids, and had an impromptu dance party for the last 10 minutes or so of our visit. Then the girls and I were off back to the hotel for bed.

Another good day. I was sad while packing up that night after the girls were asleep. I wanted one more day and night. I almost extended our stay at the hotel, but I knew the girls and I had other fun waiting for us in D.C. And, of course, Emily didn’t have the next day off work, so I wouldn’t really get to see her anyway. But, I had breakfast still to look forward to!

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