Family Vacation: Behind the Facebook Pictures

It’s a beautiful morning here in Breckenridge. The snow is falling peacefully outside my window as I sit here trying to catch a few minutes with my coffee and a good book. Honestly, I’d be sitting outside if the table and chairs on the deck weren’t covered in snow. I love the cold. I love the mountain air. I love the crisp feel when you walk out the door. I’m so dang hot natured(menopause will be my death) that I’d sleep with our door cracked open at night if Rob would let me. This is my happy place.

I’ve posted pictures with everyone smiling and happy, seemingly loving every single moment of our togetherness. We’ve eaten and shopped and played in the snow. Josh and Rob have hit the slopes the past few days exploring my kids freakish ability to master a sport they can only do once a year. I’m taking credit for their athleticism(totally kidding. I used to dry heave during suicides in basketball). They love it(and kids just learn stuff quicker, they aren’t prodigies). They have asked at least a million times if we could live here. Um no. But it’s tempting.

Jake has a broken wrist so he can’t ski or snowboard or do anything that “puts him at risk for falling.” So basically in this environment, I guess he shouldn’t even be walking outside.  But we’ve fudged. He’s played in the snow and gone to the toy shop and children’s museum so his 4-year-old counterpart for the week could be, well, 4.  He’s been such a champ. Finding activities that a 10 and 4-year-old will both enjoy has been a massive challenge, but we are taking it in stride, for the most part.

this is right after we let him fly over a small little ramp on the sled. I mean, it was the last day, we had to let him do something. Sorry Mr. Orthopedic Dr. who told told us NOT to let him do this, but the arm is still in tact.

Here’s the deal. I was sitting here, about to post my “post card worthy” snow pic on Facebook for all the world to see, and I started thinking about the real and raw truth of family vacations. Ours are not always postcard worthy. Sure, we may snap a few pics that are high in their happiness quality, but there is an ugly truth that comes out when a family of 5 travels together to a place that’s new and that requires ten million layers of clothing per person.

Though the majority is wonderful, there are moments when it totally and completely sucks.

Are we alone? I mean, I know the Griswold’s experienced vacation failures in epic proportions, but in the real world, do families really feel and act as happy as they look on Facebook? I’m going with no.

As much fun as we have, and as much as we love each other, we have had some ugly moments.  Let’s not get caught up in thinking the Facebook pictures are surrounded by a perfect family, because they are not. So, again, in the spirit of authenticity, here are some not so “post worthy” experiences.

the infamous family picture in the mountains

Sure, our family picture may be adorable with the snowy backdrop and picturesque town all around us, but don’t get too close.  You will surely see my giant pit stains. I wreak of sweat and coffee because getting these children dressed and bundled just to step foot out the door has caused a very minor panic attack. I mean seriously, getting them ready takes an hour. More on that later. But you can guarantee that when you need them to look happy, they will fall apart. When everyone is cute and bundled and ready, the snow is hitting you in the face and the wind is blowing a million miles an hour, so taking a family picture is just not in the cards. The freakish blizzard has taken our moment. And so, on day 6, you snap a selfie, because this is as good as it gets people.

The Flying

I HATE flying. Hate it. And flying into Denver? You basically fall out of the sky to your death on the way in, and if you are like me, grabbing the puke bag in the seat pocket in front of you.  It’s lovely really.  My face turns white, my kids laugh at me, and again, I sweat. I have a problem.

Traveling by plane with 3 kids sounds fun right? Yea. Not so much. They are getting older, which means I’m not the mom standing in the back by the bathrooms with the crying baby anymore, but I’m lodged between giant back packs and ipads and coloring books and not enough snacks and my word, it’s hot on planes. I’d rather be in the safety of our own car. Where we can fight and bicker and laugh and eat and stop to pee in real life sized bathrooms. It’s just my preference. But, driving to Colorado when you only have a 6 day vacation doesn’t make sense. And so we fly.

The kids are exhausted after getting up early to catch a flight, waiting hours for your luggage and grabbing a rental car for the hour and a half to two-hour drive up the mountains, depending on the weather situation. Yes, we had some really fun and sweet moments. Yes, our kids did great considering the giant storm and delay’s. Yes, we LOVE the views on the drive up. But there were definite pure human moments of melt downs and tears, both kids and parents alike. Well, Rob didn’t cry, but still. And did I mention I hate to fly?

Eating Out

So. Eating out with 3 kids who are exhausted from a day of skiing or playing and getting very little sleep is a tricky art. It’s crowded here. College kids and people vacationing without kids. Wedding parties and such. It’s a whole thing. We have attempted to go eat with the sweet thought that our kids are old enough to just wing it. Waiting an hour and a half for a table is no bigs, and we can sit and chat and enjoy our togetherness.

Then, you walk into the restaurant, one kid has a massive headache from snowboarding all day and drinking well, nothing, the 4-year-old starts to meltdown(ahem….again. Eating out is not her jam these days. Burying herself in the snow? Totally good. Swimming in the middle of a snow storm? Sign her up. Sit at a table and eat actual food? Heck no) and you look around, at all the people also waiting two hours for a table looking completely miserable, and you decide grabbing burgers and heading back to the condo is the way to go. And it’s so completely ok. Sometimes eating out just isn’t fun. Then sometimes you may be surprised by a pleasant meal, games of tick tack toe, and an amazing snowy view from your table. But it’s a crapshoot.

the gear

Ski trips. Winter vacations. Any destination where the temps drop below freezing requires an insane amount of clothing. When you add temps below 0, you are in for the workout of your life. Layer upon layer. It never ends. Just to go to dinner. Never mind what it requires if they actually want to roll around in the snow. I had to open the door every time we got dressed. And it was like -12.

Who needs to run? Just get your kids dressed to go skiing. And the worst part is that they just don’t get it. We tell them to layer up, and they have the gall to ask why. Why you ask? Because it’s -15 degrees outside and my darling, you are from Texas. You don’t even know cold. We curse life and the day we were born and then, finally, it’s over. They look like Randy from A Christmas Story. Totally unable to move their limbs.

We are officially done. And we haven’t even gone anywhere yet.  And oh the tears. I mean, the socks are lumpy and the hat is too big. They get hot, you get hot, and you just want to call it quits and let them go outside in their underwear. Who the heck cares.

Long underwear, outer layer, several pairs of socks, hand and feet warmers, sweatshirts, ski bibs, hats, boots, face masks. It’s an art really. By day 4 we have it down pat, and then it’s time to come back to Texas where it’s 70 degrees and currently in the middle of a major identity crisis and our kids are in shorts, and even more confused than ever. Is it really Winter?

So. I have been writing this post all week. Documenting the crazy. But honestly, through all the hair pulling moments, it has been sweet. We decide every time we leave somewhere, that regardless of how hard it is, it’s worth it. Because we are together. We’re not perfect. We fight and bicker. But we also laugh and roll around in the snow. We have fun. And fun is what I want for my kids.

I’m also totally ok with them seeing the not so perfect side of family, and of us as their parents. We don’t always hold it together. Jake threw an icy snowball right in my face(he has a broken right wrist, so he threw with his left hand…terribly I might add) at close proximity and I let out a big ole word that I don’t typically say, much less in front of my kids. It left me with a giant fat lip. It was legit. I’m human. And it hurt. I apologized, hugged him, and he apologized to me and learned never to throw snow in someones face when you are literally close enough to smell their breath. It’s all good.

It’s funny really. I wrote most of this before we headed home. Yesterday we got in the car to head to Denver, which is normally an hour and a half drive, and 6 hours and one missed flight later, we arrived at the airport. Avalanches and highway closures made for a long day in the car. We drove through snow storms and through mountain passes that were somewhat treacherous, at least to the wimpy Texans.

The kids were amazing. It was our best day. Funny right? You just never know when you travel with kids. So my advice is to go. It may be a train wreck. It may be amazing. More than likely, it will be a little bit of both. But the memories last forever, and you get to be away. Together. It may not be a ski trip or an exotic trip to the beach or a nice resort. Maybe it’s camping or hiking or just a staycation somewhere close to home. But go. Be together. Laugh and cry and experience all the feels of family vacations. Because I promise, it’s worth it. Just make sure you bring plenty of Tylenol.

6 comments on “Family Vacation: Behind the Facebook Pictures

  1. Wendy, I totally know how hard it is to remember that!! I really do. Typing it out helps me remember when there are meltdowns all around me haha!!

  2. “We decide every time we leave somewhere, that regardless of how hard it is, it’s worth it. Because we are together. ”
    This right here. I need to remember this more often….so much more often!

  3. Great pictures! I saw a quote recently….”we were together…I forget the rest”. … that’s the best part! The good the cranky the challenging…..it all is better together

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