For Christmas we were given an extremely thoughtful and generous gift from Jeremy's bosses: an overnight stay at the Gaylord Texan along with tickets to the ICE exhibit. We'd never done it before and they thought it would be a fun family event for us as they know we don't often do many events like this. Jeremy and I were excited to surprise the girls. We gave them hints yesterday morning before we left and they seemed excited. Or at least Riley was. Julia - not so much. It turned out to be a family event we'll always remember, if only for all the wrong reasons.
The ICE exhibit is 9 degrees - very cold for us Texans. We were planning to do it last night and planned to wear our warmer clothes so we could get there and enjoy. Julia was very much opposed to this idea. She hid her warm tights that were laid out, threw her clothes into a pile and threw a fit downstairs as we packed up the car. We chose to ignore it and just kept getting ready while listening to her fuss, cry and yell. The yelling stopped and we saw her socks and shoes were near her but not on anymore... and she was sacked out on the couch. Brought herself to a great nap as a result of the fit. We let her sleep a little and then transferred her to the car where she immediately woke up and we enjoyed another verbally loud frustrating sound from her.
We drove about two streets before she screamed that she had to go bathroom. I took her inside a CVS and the bathroom doors were locked. Found a worker to unlock them and thankfully she made it. Finally on the road to an awesome trip. Jeremy was on the phone about to cancel our reservation and I said that we were fine and we should go ahead and do it.
When we arrived, we knew that we needed to park our car overnight. We didn't know that we needed our room key in order to enter the parking garage. This was discovered once we were at the gate with nowhere to go - blocked by the bar in front and three cards behind us amidst a busy intersection. Jeremy was stuck as he was too close to the machines to open his door so I got out to explain to the three cars behind us that apparently we need our room key to park for the night and could they please back up into traffic or go in the next lane? Yes - thank you. The lady behind us didn't know this either and was glad to find out.
We headed towards the hotel where they had valet for an extra $10 which we took full advantage of. Jeremy waited in line and I hung out with the girls to the side. We got our room key and put everything in. It was later than we had anticipated so we chose to walk around the hotel. Tons of cool displays and lots of different areas for fun pictures. It was close to 5pm and Jeremy figured we should go to the restaurant to eat early. Everyone else had the same thought.
*If you ever go to the Gaylord, make reservations for dinner, lunch and breakfast. You will save tons of time and your kids will be much happier.
The girls both laid down on the benches near the entrance. Then played by a water fountain where water got all over their pants from sitting on wet stone. I took them for a walk while Jeremy waited. It was taking a while and the girls needed to have something to do. Jeremy had the app Open Table pulled up - saw a 5:30pm slot open and took it. We were in much sooner as a result. They put us in the bar area where we were on higher stools. Figured it'd be no big deal.
After our walk, Julia claimed she was not going to eat any food at all. She refused to sit in her chair and sat cross legged on the floor next to her chair. She wasn't in the way of any of the staff so we let her stay there for a bit. I then set a timer on my phone and told her that if she wasn't in her chair before it beeped, there'd be consequences. She watched the numbers go down and moved just in time - proceeding to kick the table, push away the bread and fuss. I took her out as she cried and had a talk with her in the bathroom. She wasn't happy with her socks, was overtired and hungry and being extremely difficult. We had a good talk and she was fabulous the rest of dinner. She ate a ton of food, sat well and all was good for now.
We knew we wouldn't have much time for the ICE and the girls were hoping to swim. We checked out the indoor pool which was super crowded and smelled. The girls couldn't wait to go; Jeremy and I were apprehensive to say the least, but had two motivations:
1) we told them we'd swim
2) it would wear them out and they'd sleep better
I put on my suit to which Jeremy replied "We're really going to do this?" So we did. The water was lukewarm and the sign asking people who had diseases that were communal in nature to not go in the water frightened me. Getting another funky disease was not anything I really wanted to do. Prayed for protection and got in. Julia and Riley were happy as could be. They enjoyed jumping and playing. It wasn't bad until you got out and were freezing! We noticed that almost every parent was sitting in a chair watching their kids swim. Of all the families there, only four parents were in the water. Four. Two of whom were Jeremy and I. One lady had a little toddler and the toddler played on the stairs of the pool while the mom watched and touched her as little as possible. Another women had on cute boots and a trendy outfit, was on her phone and her tweens were happily swimming. Happy to make some good memories with our kids, but still scared to death of possible communal diseases I might receive.
We took a few extra towels to wrap hair and bodies. Smart people that we are, we forgot swim shoes or coverups. There was only one entrance into the pool area which was directly through the entire facility. Amidst all of the families dressed nicely, taking pics and eating dinner, came our family walking in wet towels. There were very few families doing this, I might add. It was rare to see because the vast majority of people weren't swimming. It was crowded, but almost solely kids in the pool... like I said, only 4 adults amidst the many, many kids. People don't look strangely at a wet kid in a bathing suit walking through a resort.
Julia and I were finished getting ready first. Jeremy was wanting to give his suit more time to dry and I was ready to shower. I told him that I'd meet him in the room and take Julia with me so we could order more towels from room service. We only had three towels in the room. Riley waited with Jeremy. I carried Julia through the hotel with a towel around my body and a towel around my head while wearing my socks and tennis shoes. Julia was wrapped in a towel and didn't hold on well. The looks we got were priceless.
I did my best to avoid getting in the way of pictures that were taken. Though somewhere on Facebook, there will be a picture of us walking past a couple. We crossed behind them right as the flash went off. Yup - they will have quite the photo bomb behind them when they check out that picture. The good news is that people are quick to move out of your way while gawking at you with looks that say "why are you wet?" and virtually speechless. You'd think they'd know about the pool, but it was a rarity to see anyone wet.
We got to the room and I ordered the extra towel. I couldn't stand feeling grimy so I got in the shower as fast as possible. Then gave the girls both baths as they shower head was so high it wouldn't reach them well if they were given a shower. Jeremy was standing around in his suit for us to finish. Three towels used up... and still no extra towels had been brought by room service.
I called to double check how long it'd take for the towels to come. The lady said that they were extremely busy and what is usually ten minutes would be at least an hour. It'd only been 15 minutes. Jeremy stood for a while in his suit and then couldn't take it anymore. We had a hand towel that was clean. Somehow he made it work. He was clean as he could get and frustrated as well.
Julia fell asleep next to Jeremy for a short nap. This would prove to create a very long, long, long night for all involved. Riley was hungry again. The girls always have a small snack before bed as they eat small meals all day. We didn't have any food... she mentioned her hunger after I ate the last granola bar. Looked into room service and she wanted some pizza. At $16 plus $4 for fee, taxes and other fees and a 21% service fee, it wasn't going to happen. This would also prove to create a very long, long, long night for all involved.
It was around 10pm that we decided to go to bed. There was one bed: King size. And one cot: Twin. Riley was on the cot and the three of us were in the bed. Riley has very particular sleeping habits - must be somewhat cold, no sheets on, cuddling with an animal friend and comfortable. All seemed great. Julia has one sleeping habit - to be as close to me as possible without me falling off the bed. There was tons of space between her and Jeremy. Riley felt lonely on her own bed and decided to come up to sleep with all of us.
This would have been fine if all of us wanted the sheets off. Three with sheets and one in the middle laying on top of them and kicking around didn't work. Jeremy got frustrated and went to sleep on the cot. This left tons of room... for playing! and tickling! and laughing! and farting! and repeating random sounds non-stop! The girls stayed up for hours. And so did we.
At one point, Jeremy sat up on his cot staring daggers at the girls and said "If you don't go to sleep, I'm going to take back your Christmas presents." I was like "seriously??" and couldn't help but laugh. They were scared for a second and then the tickling continued. Our plan to wear them out with swimming did not work.
Riley wanted to see the beautiful scenery out of the window (the ceiling of the building below us). Julia went and joined her. Riley then said "This is the worst night ever. I'm hungry and I can't eat. I'm tired and I can't sleep." Julia chimed in with "Yeah - dis is dah wust night eveh." I separated them and slept between them... I mean laid between them. Sleep didn't come for a while. Jeremy had the Chad Lawson music going to help and hours later they were all asleep. I felt Julia completely relaxed and moved her back to the middle so she wouldn't fall off the bed. Riley had slithered down to the bottom half of the bed.
We woke up around 8:30am when Riley turned over and flung her arm into Julia's head. With Julia awake, Riley was now awake and had to go to the bathroom. Instead of going across the end of the bed, she chose to walk across Jeremy's cot which woke him up. Then Julia had to go to the bathroom and went over me.
With all of us hungry, we made a plan to have valet bring our car to the front lobby, put all our packed items in it, eat breakfast and go to ICE. Julia didn't want to wear her warm clothes again. Got her pants on and couldn't find socks. Amidst the fit yesterday, the socks I had packed that were thrown in her room were then unpacked so she only had the pair she had worn the day before. Oh well - such it was. But she wasn't wanting anything to do with the dirty socks.
So another crying session occurred. Jeremy was fed up and spanked her four times which resulted in louder crying. I was frustrated and told him to control his anger. He got mad that I was undermining him and that spanking worked because she didn't like it. Then there was banging on our wall from the room next door. Apparently we were the loud, obnoxious people you don't want to have next door to you when you're having a very pleasant sleep. So embarrassing. Just being real, folks. We aren't perfect (though you know that). This was a big low.
We were able to get her dressed, everything packed and out the door. Car was loaded and we were on our way to breakfast... without a reservation. Again, I reiterate: if you ever go to the Gaylord, make reservations for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was a 25 minute wait.
There was an empty table to wait at off by the fake river. The girls chose to fight over where they could each place their feet on the bottom of the table which resulted in it tipping back and forth. I finally moved the table to the side away from them and we sat unhappily, tired, grouchy while watching other happy families enjoy their morning. "See those kids over there - they are acting perfectly" - this was Jeremy's comment meant to spur the girls into perfect behavior. "We are never traveling again" - this was my comment meant to spur us on towards positivity and happiness. "This is the worst day ever" - Riley's comment. "Ahhhh!!! I hate these pants" - Julia's comment
We were the epitome of Christ at this moment.
Then breakfast was served. Warm food, happy girls. We relaxed and smiled and laughed together. Then we went to the ICE.
They make you wear blue parkas over your clothes as it is very, very cold. Julia refused to put it on. Once on, she laid on the floor ripping at the snaps and screaming "I'm not comfortable! Ahhhh!" It was embarrassing. She got the coat off and her hair looked as though she'd put her hands on a round static ball - hair was sticking up everywhere. I tried my best to put her coat on again and just couldn't. I went to the window to ask one of the workers if she had to wear it to go into the exhibit. They smiled and said that some parents bring the coat with them to the ICE where the kids get cold and will let you put it on them. I know Julia is incredibly stubborn, but was hopeful.
Poor Riley - through everything she was incredibly well-behaved, kind and patient. Haven't mentioned her much because she created no drama and was very easy to be with.
First we took our family picture where all of us smiled and looked at the camera. Except Julia who looked sideways and had her mouth open in what is her face when she is annoyed. We got into the cold and she took off her gloves and hat. And refused to wear the parka.
We walked into the entrance and she began to cry and cry. I tried to walk her out but was told that it was an entrance only; the only way to get out was to go through the entire exhibit and get to the exit.
What should have taken 45 minutes of fun with ice sledding, characters, cool sculptures, ended up taking roughly five minutes of just getting out of there as fast as possible. One of us could have stayed with Riley to enjoy it but having reached peak frustration, we didn't consider this enough. I greatly regret this as she should have been allowed to enjoy it. Makes me sad to think we didn't just take one of us out with Julia and the other stay. I didn't want Jeremy to take Julia as I figured he'd just spank her repeatedly with no solution; he didn't want to stay with Riley because he felt like it would be unfair to saddle me with Julia. Riley wasn't the focus and for that, I feel like a terrible parent.
Once outside of the ICE, there was a super long line for sledding and at $20 something per person, we weren't up for another adventure.
We left in silence and it felt like a forever ride home. Once home each girl went in their room for some silent time alone. I went upstairs to read on the couch in our room and slept a few hours. Then went to the gym to workout some stress.
Tonight we had the best dinner together with laughter, kindness and talking. Jeremy is currently spending time with the girls and sitting snuggling together on the couch. I am documenting what could be a turning point for all of us. Sometimes the worst adventures give you the best perspective. We have a lot to work on as far as parenting goes. And our kids are not perfect. But they are ours.