A Vacation Is Just a Trip When You Bring Your Kids.
One month ago, we left on our first real family vacation. Let me rephrase that…One month ago, we left on our first real family trip.
Yep, that’s better. Trip is way more fitting, because damn this was no vacation. This trip was more work than the hustle of an ordinary day at home.
This was no ordinary trip tho. This was THE TRIP. The one my husband has talked about since the dawn of time…the one that I had to hear about for the past year (which really felt like the past 10 years) as he planned our every move on this week long trip. THE TRIP…
Anyone who knows us, knows that we don’t share the same appreciation of Disney at all. In fact, we have the opposite ideas of the place.
:: MY HUSBAND ::
Complete Disney Freak.
It’s slightly disturbing to me that a grown man likes Disney as much as he does, but alas…he does. Honestly, it’s become just slightly less disturbing as my daughter now shares his love of all things Disney & Princess (two of my all-time favorite things…complete sarcasm).
:: ME ::
Not a fan of crowds or standing in long lines, especially crowds or long lines with whiny children surrounding me.
At 7 years old, I wasn’t impressed with the place…turns out not much has changed in 30 years.
We flew down the 3rd week of January with my parents, our 5 year old, 6 month old and what felt like our entire house packed in 5 suitcases. We didn’t stay on Disney property. My parents were kind enough to reserve their timeshare for all of us, so we all stayed in a 3 bedroom condo together. Everyone was excited to make awesome memories and share laughs. We had no idea that it’d turn into the never-ending vacation with fail, after fail, after fail.
Disney didn’t disappoint, it was exactly what I thought…
The “Happiest Place On Earth” where kids turn into assholes & parents look permanently pissed off because they dropped a ton of money for their kids to act like little turds.
No doubt, my daughter turned into a turd and I was a parent with the pissed off look.
There were glimpses of greatness & fun, generally followed by “what am I doing” moments. It was comforting to look around and know that you were not alone. Numerous times, I found myself chuckling listening to other parents having the same talk with their kid that I just had.
To get the full effect of what happened in the next week (and honestly the following week), I’ll give you the play by play.
Epcot was a complete disaster, which included being drenched in rain that never-ended and my 6 month old going for a ride in the stroller when it fell backwards and hit the pavement. He wasn’t buckled into the stroller for the first time ever. Can you say Parents of the Year here? I turned into Momma Bear / Hulk in the middle of “The Happiest Place on Earth”. This would mark the start of the longest weeks I’ve had in a long time.
After being at the parks all day, we put the kids to bed and I hear my husband yelling for me. It’s 11pm and he starts frantically telling me that our flight home on Wednesday has already been cancelled. Cancelled? OMG, I can’t be stuck in Disney World. Truly that could be my version of hell.
The Polar Vortex was hitting Chicago. It was going to be -53 (yes that says NEGATIVE 53) and they were rescheduling all flights. He had turned his email notifications off and we were 5 hours late to the party to get a new flight home.
A quick call to Southwest with a hold time of 2 hours told us that everyone was also grappling with the same problem we had. We searched for any available non-stop flights (no way was I going to be taking a layover and risk getting stuck in an airport for days with 2 kids) and the best we could do was a Saturday flight at 6:30pm, so we took it. Of course, my mom and I click the change reservation button at the exact same time on the Southwest app and they didn’t get on our flight. Now we are on 2 separate return flights. Fantastic, since we took transportation to the airport together.
While at the park, we get a call from the vet that our dog is staying at. Parker has completely licked his back raw. They had to put him in a cone, treat him with antibiotics and they mentioned how depressed he is.
Of course, he’s depressed. This is the first time we left him since Cliff passed, and now he’s stuck until Monday…4 days longer than planned. He isn’t the most easy-going dog. We rescued him from a vet where his last family left him in the waiting room. He basically trusts no one.
We call my sister. Parker likes her. She agrees to go pick him up on Friday or Saturday. However, she has to take him back to our house because he trusts no one and she has a puppy at home. The second problem, she only has keys to our front door, but not the storm door. The storm door that is locked. In order for this plan to work, we’d have to get her keys somehow. She agrees to try to break into our house on Wednesday.
Luckily, I have family that lives in Tampa who graciously offered to open their home to us. Not only did it save us money, but it was nice to be in a house with the kids.
Since we have no where to be, at no particular time, we ask the timeshare we were staying in, Bluegreen Vacations, for a late check out. The answer was NO. My parents are owners of a timeshare, you’d think they’d be more understanding of our current situation. It’s not like we are simply hotel guests here. But they said NO, so we pack up the circus and head to Tampa by 10am.
The Polar Vortex hits Chicago with unbelievable temps. I am checking our Honeywell WiFi thermostat repeatedly to check the temperature in our house. (Did I mention that 3 weeks before we left for Disney, our furnace went out? Yes, that was how the fun of 2019 started!) That’s the perk of a WiFi thermostat, you can view it from anywhere. Except that I had received an email from Honeywell the day before we left for vacation, that they’d be doing server maintenance and we’d be losing connection to our thermostat intermittently.
Just perfect timing right? Record low temps and a new furnace. Every time I can see our thermostat, which is like every 12 hours or so when it reconnects, it is 55 degrees in my house. 55 DEGREES IN MY HOUSE, what in the actual F*&k.
Meanwhile, my sister and brother-in-law try to break into our storm door. A car keeps circling the block and watching them. It’s so cold out…the car freaked them out…they can’t get it. We find the nearest UPS Store to send our keys out. We OVERNIGHT the keys to my sisters house. OVERNIGHT, as in get there Thursday. This will mark the last time I use UPS.
All day I keep an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. It is suppose to be delivered by 5:30pm. At 4:30pm, the package is all of a sudden ‘still in transit’. My husband calls UPS. Nobody knows anything about anything at this point, it’s still on a truck. Our package doesn’t make it overnight.
It is still 55 degrees in my house.
Keeping an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. By 5pm, I start to lose hope that this package is going to be delivered today.
I hear my husband outside on the phone at 5:30pm. I walk outside and he’s on the phone with my sister. The package was delivered at 5:28pm to my sisters front porch with a huge slit in the bottom of the envelope and MY KEYS ARE GONE. GONE. No damage to the envelope, just a slit at the bottom.
The UPS driver left the broken open package on my sisters front porch tucked under her welcome mat, like nothing was wrong. Luckily, my sister noticed the UPS truck in the driveway and stopped him. God bless her, she proceeded to cry scream at the driver and demanded to search the UPS truck for the keys. My brother-in-law and sister get on the UPS truck with flashlights. The keys are no where to be found. The UPS driver claims that he has to take the package back to mark it damaged, so he gets back on his truck with the damaged envelope. It’s 6pm on Friday now and nobody will help us.
It has now hit 62 degrees in my house.
At 11:30am, we pack the van back up and head back to Orlando to catch our 6:30pm flight. We are all so ready to be back home.
We stop in Disney again and find a playground for my 5 year old to run around for a little while before we have to sit in an airport for the rest of the day. While at the playground, I decide to check our flight. DELAYED 2 HOURS. I feel like crying at this point.
We catch wind of the news. The Orlando Airport (MCO) has been shut down and all flights have been grounded. A TSA agent has jumped and committed suicide in the security lobby of the Southwest gates. I can’t even form words at this point, so many thoughts are flooding my mind. One of which is: Are we ever going to make it home?
My sister decides to pick up Parker at 11am, even without a way to take him back home. He cries hysterically after seeing her, and jumps at every car in the parking lot, like “Lady, I don’t what you drive, but get me in that car and let’s get the hell out of this place.”
It has now hit 66 degrees in my house.
We have been in touch with UPS who has told us that the UPS Store has to make it right. Apparently UPS and the UPS Store aren’t one entity. It’s like nobody wants to own what has happened. Of course, the UPS Store owner doesn’t work until Monday.
At 1:50pm, they reopen the airport and flights are starting to take off and land again. We start making our way to the airport, having no idea what we are going to encounter. We check our bags, which includes my daughter’s car seat and a large tub of formula that we now have to carry home because we ran out while on this never-ending vacation (We use Costco brand formula, they only sell it in Costco size tubs. We brought 1 with thinking it’d be gone for the trip home).
To our surprise, the security lines are short and we get through without much trouble. As we walk down the terminal, it seems that a majority of flights have been cancelled for the day. There are lines everywhere…long lines. Our flight is still good and is now only a 45 minute delay, we get in line for Family boarding at 7pm. It’s 7:10pm, our plane has arrived, but we still aren’t boarding. My phone buzzes, a text message from Southwest…
YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED due to weather. Our flight and my boarding pass has completely disappeared from the Southwest app.
I look up and see my husband’s face, who has just received the same text message..a look of panic. One by one, I can look around and see others on the same flight getting the same text message from Southwest. The terminal seems to be going up for grabs, it’s getting louder and people are running to get in line. My husband books it down to farthest gate to try to be first in line. We speak to a gate agent, soonest flight they can offer us is a 7:50pm FLIGHT ON MONDAY. You have got to be kidding me? We ask the gate agent if we can retrieve our bags. I mean my 6 month olds formula is in one of the bags and I don’t have enough formula in the diaper bag to get us to Monday. She can’t help us, we need to go to baggage claim to see if our bags are still in Orlando. Meanwhile, my husbands books a rental car. Driving home is sounding more appealing by the minute.
We get to baggage claim, just a complete cluster.
I am by no means a seasoned traveler, but I travel more than the average person. I’ve been to my fair share of airports across the country. Never in my life have I ever been part of such a cluster f*&k like this. We waited 3 hours for our bags to come out.
It is now 10:15pm, we pile all of our worldly belongings in this van…8 suitcases, a stroller, 2 car seats, 2 kids, and 4 grown adults. At 10:30pm, we point the van north and start driving. This is NOT how I thought this day would end.
We drove all night and finally arrive home at 2:30pm. I swear the van and all of us smell like the worst funk I’ve ever smelled. But it has never ever felt so good to be home. It was finally 68 degrees in my house.
My sister brought Parker home around 3pm. He is 5 pounds thinner and bald on his lower back. When he saw us, he cried like he never thought he’d see us again.
My husband is on the phone with the UPS Store first thing in the morning. The owner, Mark, tells him that the package is actually marked ‘Out for Delivery’ today and he can’t do anything until that package has been delivered. **Eye roll** An empty package is ‘Out for Delivery’…
5:08pm: I get a call from my sister.
My sister: “You aren’t going to believe this.”
My sister: “Your keys were delivered to my house today.”
My sister: “Your keys were placed back in your slit and ripped open envelope and taped back together. The envelope was placed in a plastic bag and hung on the door handle of my front door.”
Me: ** No words are coming out of my mouth.**
So my keys magically showed up at my sisters house.
We demanded an explanation from UPS on what happened because, of course, there was no note with this magical package. The manager of the local UPS hub that delivers to my sisters house called my husband as directed by Corporate UPS. The manager knew absolutely nothing about my keys or any lost keys at the UPS hub, which gives me a warm and tingly feeling. The manager ‘looked into the matter’ and called my husband back to tell him that my keys were found on the truck. The same truck my sister and brother-in-law searched with flashlights. If the manager didn’t even know my keys were missing or they were suppose to be looking for them, how on earth would anyone know that those keys belonged to us or that package?
The only way my keys were on that truck is if they were in the drivers pocket. I’m sorry, but my keys were stolen. I have felt that way from the beginning.
6:20pm: My 6 month old starts throwing up while we are all eating dinner.
For the entire rest of the month of February, I spend my time cleaning up vomit, diarrhea, administering medicine for a double ear infection, nebulizing a viral lung infection away, wiping & plunging massive boogers, and disinfecting my entire life, all while NOT SLEEPING, figuring out why my piece of $hit Honeywell thermostat still doesn’t work, fighting with UPS and getting my house rekeyed.
We wont be doing business with Honeywell or UPS anymore. UPS is the worst company to try to deal with. Neither the UPS Store or Corporate UPS will even so much as give us our money back for the overnight shipping cost that obviously didn’t get provided.
It was the vacation that just kept giving. Numerous times I thought we were on candid camera or the ‘Griswold Family Vacation’. Needless to say, we wont be taking a family trip for a long long time. Because remember ‘vacations’ are only ‘trips’ when you bring your kids along.