Yes, Doug and I are on vacation with the kids and are determined to enjoy every possible minute. I booked this trip months ago and although everyone in the family has managed to stay healthy and injury free, the flight was on time and no hurricanes have been predicted, one thing I wasn't anticipating was an environmental catastrophe. Fortunately, we are staying at one of the few spots on the Gulf of Mexico that isn't experiencing mayhem, but honestly, if our trip ended up having to be rescheduled or altered, I would have just added it to the long list of our past vacation glitches, because no matter how well I plan, there's almost always a glitch.
San Diego. We took this trip in March, 2004 when Zach and Charlie were 7 and 5, and I was pregnant with Zoe. It was the first time the boys had flown, and we were all excited to head somewhere warm, swim and go to the zoo. Sure enough, though, Charlie (who rarely gets sick) developed a horrid chest cold a week before we were supposed to leave. I took him to the doctor the day before our vacation, and after a chest film it was determined that he had pneumonia. Fortunately, they didn't tell us to reschedule our trip and actually encouraged us to take him somewhere warm. So after shoving a nebulizer into Doug's carry-on bag and stocking up on antibiotics and prednisone, we boarded our plane, buckled our seat belts, and that's when the real coughing began. And let me tell you, people love to hear a coughing kid on an airplane. I tried to tell one particularly annoyed woman "Don't worry, it's not contagious, it's just pneumonia," but that just made the face she was making change from "Seriously, make your kid quit coughing" to "Holy shit you're the worst mother in the entire fucking world." Sorry lady, but no kid's faulty lungs are going to get between me and warm weather, so mind your own business and watch the movie.
Jamaica. We spent a week at a Beaches resort in Negril, Jamaica right before Zoe turned two. Our flight was at 6:00am, which meant that since it was an international flight, we were supposed to be at the airport at 4am, which meant that we had to get up around 2:30. Ay-Em. Needless to say, Zoe's day was thrown just a little bit off schedule and she ended up grazing on Goldfish and apple juice at 7:30 in the morning. We had quite a bit of turbulence during the last half of the flight, which made her stomach feel weird, which she registered as hunger, so she just kept chowing down on Goldfish. After we finally landed in the heat of Jamaica, dealt with the customs/immigration line and found baggage claim, Zoe's body realized that it wasn't hunger that it was feeling -- it was motion sickness, and Goldfish don't like to hang out in anybody that isn't feeling well. Apparently, the Goldfish prefer to make a projectile exodus from whoever is holding them captive, because no sooner had an airport employee walked by, pointed at Zoe and said "Your baby, mon" then she started barfing chunks of Goldfish all over herself, the floor, and me. The next two minutes is kind of a blur of fluids, chunks, the boys saying "Oh gross, Zoe! Ewwww!" and Doug and I alternately saying "Oh my god what the hell oh my god so gross oh my god." After she was done doing her best impression of Old Faithful, I picked her up and ran for the nearest bathroom. There, despite the fact that the hot water didn't work, the cold water only came out as a slow trickle and they were out of paper towels, I managed to clean her up using every wipe I had packed in my diaper bag, changed her clothes and she was good as new. As for myself, I was instantly grateful that I had dressed in light layers and wasn't emotionally attached to the top one.
Jamaica, Part 2. Everyone had been healthy all winter so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Zach got strept throat (and, by the way, that is the only time any of these kids has ever had strept throat) a week before we left. I made the mistake of getting him diagnosed at one of those quick clinics in the grocery store, which resulted in him getting an incorrect dosage for his drugs. In other words, he was only taking half of what he should have been. I only know this because after he finished his prescription and seemed well, the strept came back -- while we were in Jamaica. I don't know if it was the fear that one of the other kids might get sick while we were in a third world country, but I had packed a full prescription of antibiotic, just in case. So, after a quick phone call to our pediatrician, two correct doses and one dinner in bed, he was back to normal the following day.
Phoenix, AZ. In March, 2007, after surviving a long winter, we were all excited to spend a hot, sunny week in Phoenix. I found a resort where we could play tennis, hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and have five different pools to pick from everyday. After a freakishly smooth day of travel, Doug and the boys grabbed their tennis racquets and headed to the courts while I unpacked (and drank a beer). Less than an hour later, though, they walked back in the door or, in Doug's case, he limped through the door. Somehow his shoe had come off, probably while trying to get to one of Zach's passing shots, and then not only did he miss the shot, but he also managed to step on the shoe and twist his ankle. When I looked at the thing, it was pretty swollen and he seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. So I did what any sympathetic, caring wife would do: I threw him an ice pack, put on my suit, grabbed the kids and went to the pool. Unfortunately for Doug, I kind of suck at the role of sympathetic wife.
Los Angeles: This wasn't really a vacation, but it does involve Charlie, Zoe and I flying to Los Angeles because Charlie was invited to a national tennis camp. I was kind of excited to travel with just two kids (shh...don't tell Doug and Zach) and spend a few November days in sunny California. Sure enough, though, a week and a half before we left, Zoe woke up in the middle of the night yelling "OWWWW! MY EAR IS ATTACKING ME! STOP IT EAR! STOP IT!" My supermom intuition kicked in and said hmmm, I'll bet she has her first ear infection, so the next day I hauled her into the doctor's office to get it checked out. The doctor said yes, it is pretty red but you know we're really trying to discourage parents from treating ear infections with antibiotics so if you don't mind I'd like to just suggest managing the pain for a few days with Motrin and then if it doesn't clear up you can come back for the antibiotic. I said um, yeah, well I do mind because she's four and this is her first ear infection and also her first antibiotic and we fly in exactly eleven days so write the goddamn prescription already. He said okay and then wrote the goddamn prescription, which she finished three hours before take-off.
We have managed to take other vacations that have been mostly drama-free, and even though I micromanage these trips right down to the smallest details, I always keep realistic expectations because no matter how many stars the resort has or what the weather forecast looks like, I've accepted the fact that there's always the chance that a toilet will run all night, rain will fall, and a kid will barf all over baggage claim. But no matter what happens, there has always been a solution (and depending on who you talk to, sometimes even a free meal) and it's amazing how quickly the problem is forgotten when that "Needs Service" flag goes up on the back of my pool chair.