This week, we decided on short notice to take advantage of hubby’s vacay and a homeschooling discount and took a day trip to Biltmore Estates. And on short notice, I mean 3 days in advance. Just a day trip. Not overnight.
Before kids, my hubby and I used to decide in minutes to take off to parts unknown and could be packed and ready for anything, in well under half an hour. Not so much with kids. Yes, when they were babies or toddlers, I knew that my first step would be creating an excel spreadsheet with built-in pivot tables to ensure that I didn’t forget anything and could map our trip according to their every whim and bodily functions.
However, they are older now and it really shouldn’t have been that demanding. Yet, it was.
Upon our vacation reveal to visit a gigantic museum, each boy ran upstairs and began packing a bag. They came down the stairs about an hour later with their military backpacks full of toys, night vision goggles and candy. They had to use the stair railing to steady themselves during their dissent. Both proudly acclaimed that since it was just a day trip, they decided on just one bag and were all set with the essentials to survive.
Good, because we are all set to leave in three days. (insert sigh)
Fast forward to the morning of departure. When we booked the tickets, every conceivable weather app gave 90% chance of rain. If it were just the boys and me, I would have also planned for a tornado. However, daddy was with us and per Murphy’s law – 76 degrees, blue skies and no wind. This just pissed me off. Daddy should get to deal with the same freak acts of nature that us moms have to deal with. But whatever. On to making memories.
I carefully laid out the boys’ clothing with appropriate layers to withstand cold, heat, bugs, spills, comfort, wind, and rain. I also switched my purse to a sling-back to carry camera, phone, wallet and waters. After pulling out of the driveway, I noticed my sling-back bag was heavier than last tested. I found about 50 pirate treasure maps, kids wallet filled with toys and a fake police badge, crayons and a pen. Our 6 yr old showed signs of a meltdown at the mere thought of me removing these items.
“How many more minutes, momma?” times 13. Do they even notice that we keep giving the same answer? And is it normal to pee that many times in 100 miles? They could at least synchronize this with each other.
Ok, arrived and parking. Now is the time that I shred their dreams of carrying those backpacks inside the estates. 1) because I’m fairly certain we won’t need night goggles or be able to set up a military recon unit in the Louis XV bedroom and 2) because I would undoubtedly end of carrying them. So I lie to them and tell them that kids are not allowed to carry backpacks inside and if they try it, they go directly to jail until the police finish their investigation. It takes all of twenty minutes for the boys to see a backpack on every kid we pass. They look at me. I look back at them. No words are needed here. Let’s move on.
Oh look boys, there is the Biltmore! ooohs….aaahhhs. Before our faces are distorted from the over-exertion of the day, I convince them to stand with their dad, with the Biltmore in the background and I snap a rare picture. .
Going through a museum with two young boys is a kin to trying to run in quicksand. Our beginning reader (that hates to read) just wants to see if the next room is better than this one. The other boy, a reader…..a slow reader, ….. wants.to.read.every.word. And then talk about it……..a lot.
After two hours touring the house and property (we convinced them that the gardens were closed for the season), Daddy and me were trying on our brave faces and hiding our tears of pain – while the kids were running suicides up and down the stairs. Do their hips not feel like they are about to snap out of socket?? We decide that we need a break and agreed on ice cream and wine for me. That was the best $30 we spent all day.
We then made it to the farmhouse and our youngest spies the horses – about an acre away. I breathe a sigh of relief that Daddy has caught on when I hear him explain that the fence of that pasture is electric and will shock them.
On the way out of the Biltmore, I whip out my camera to review the few pictures that I was able and allowed to get. They don’t allow cameras inside the tour, yet an entire photo shoot is set up inside and we were able to grab a priceless family photo for just under $30. One picture. Gah. Anyhoo, I excitedly backtrack through my camera to review rare pictures of me with the kids – these were all out of focus and the kids looked pissed. Whatever. I’m still holding out hope for that one picture. I finally get to the first picture that I captured of my boys and daddy…and our oldest is shooting me a bird.