I must be an eternal optimist, have no long-term memory or simply not have a terribly high IQ...
Duane and I decided to attempt another trip with the kids. We kept it simple: few days in Grand Forks then a few days in Minneapolis, indoor water parks, indoor theme parks... life is good, right? Not only this, but for a week before leaving, the kids all cycled through high fevers and illness. Good! Let's get that out of their systems BEFORE the trip!
Diary - Day 4 of trip - morning
True to form, on this vacation, the kids seem to be taking turns discovering a whole new virus causing them to vomit for 24hrs! I haven't slept in 3 nights... It began with Avalyn a couple of nights ago who decided to "bless" my just-newly-purchased fancy pyjamas... and every towel we had in the hotel room... sigh. I've been cooped in a hotel room for days now while Duane tries to take healthy children down water slides in the water park; however, ...
Yesterday, Duane decided to take all four kids (all of whom were feeling fine) all the way up ten flights of stairs to a "family raft ride." With small children and grill flooring, Duane had to carry our youngest, Avalyn, up ten floors! The lineups were huge, it seemed to take forever but finally, finally, finally, when they were third in line, Sivana tugged on Duane's shorts and said "my tummy hurts!"
Duane assessed the situation to see if she could handle waiting and go down the ride or if they needed to manoeuvre their way back down ten floors through the crowd. Judging by the look on her face, he deciding on the latter. No sooner had they taken four steps did Sivana throw up! Duane caught most in his hand, but he watched as some fell through the grid flooring to the people entering the water slide right below... unaware... likely assuming more dripping water from above... oy!
Down, down, down he goes with four children... vomit cupped in his hand while people are gagging and lunging away with disgust as he goes by. The occasional knowing mother looks at him sympathetically. Where was I, you're wondering? This was the one moment I seized to have alone time... argh!!
The whole point of the trip was for today, the last day, to be spent at Nickelodeon amusement park. Sivana appears to be on the mend, but Ethan is complaining of his tummy hurting this morning. Do we dare venture onto rides and more potential puking on others? Is it sad that I'm so flippin determined to go that I don't care anymore if we do end up with a public display of tummy upset? At least I won't have to talk to the poor lady at front desk again (with whom I am now on a first-name-basis)!
Diary - Day 4 of trip - end of day
Well, we decided to attempt Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America. Duane left after lunch with the little girls (who still weren't feeling great). This morning, I clarified with hotel front desk about their shuttle to and from the mall of America, where the theme park is. Their wording threw me off "every forty passed hour"... What the? Every forty minutes? Or every X:40? "And which mall doors do we wait at?" "East doors right at Sea Life exhibit." "Right at those doors?" "Yes ma'am."
I felt safe sending Duane back with the van because I figured Ethan, Anika and I could shuttle back later and bring supper with us.
Ethan wouldn't eat lunch but insisted he was well enough to stay and ride. He's pretty self-aware so I took him at his word. We spent four more hours at the park without any glitches and finally decided to pick up supper and make our way towards the East doors to catch our shuttle. With relatively mild weather and not wanting to spend extra money on huge lockers for big winter jackets, we had decided to wear only sweaters. Within a couple of minutes of shivering outside, I told the kids to sit along the wall just inside the main East doors where I could see them while I stayed outside trying to keep my eyes open for the shuttle with the hotel name on it. It was 5:20 pm.
Well with the flux of traffic going through those doors I was twisting my head every direction making sure Ethan and Anika were safe, and trying to watch both directions for a shuttle, fearful of missing it... all with my black hoodie on tight around my face and carrying a big bag. I either looked like a paranoid psychzophrenic or someone about to make their first drug deal! Oh you think it's funny, but sure enough, 25 minutes later, cops show up where the kids are sitting...
I yank open the door and ask "is everything ok, officers?"
"Are these your kids?"
"Yes! I'm trying to keep them warm while I watch for our shuttle."
"We got a couple of calls about abandoned kids. It's good to see that's not the case. But shuttles get picked up down by the metro. You gotta cross the street and head down underground at that sign."
Flip floppin' frick fractor!!!! (Don't worry, I didn't say that in front of the cops)
The kids and I politely excuse ourselves and race down across the street and head down some escalators to some shady metro station... If the front desk lady meant at forty passed each hour, then my little cop fiasco would have happened right at that time. I see no "shuttle" signs anywhere and now fear that I missed the shuttle back up on the main floor! Argh!!
I finally cave, turn on my cellular data willing to incur whatever roaming charges will haunt my next bill and call the hotel to get Duane to pick us up.
Finally back at the hotel, Duane drops us off at the doors and I start heading in with all four kids while Duane goes to park the van. The little girls fight over who will push the elevator button to get to the 2nd floor for the umpteenth time while we wait for the painfully slow elevator. I'm chilled to the bone and ready to chew through my arm as we finally get on the elevator only to look over at Ethan...
"Oh no, Buddy!! Can you hold it til we get to our room?"
(Swallows uncertainly as his face turns more green) "I think so"
Stupid elevator door opens reluctantly slow as I push the two little girls out of my way and make a mad dash for our room door... Ethan on my heels... If I can just open the door, there's tile flooring right inside! I scramble trying to get the card into the door, yank down on the handle just as vomit ricochets off the door and carpet... So close... and yet so far away.
"Hello front desk? This is room 209... Again. I've got another one down! I repeat... I've got another one down! I'm so sorry. He almost made it but I'm afraid he got the hallway carpet just outside our door." The all-too-familiar voice replies "Wow, it's just going through all those kids, now isn't it?"
I'll laugh about this eventually, I just know it... but in that moment... NO THANKS!
I run back to shuffle the girls inside while Ethan drags his lunch bag through the vomit. "ETHAN!! Pick up the bag!!" Poor guy drops it and runs for the toilet.
I quickly grab his "covered" shoes and start washing them in the sink when it dawns on me "OH NO! Quick... Open door before Duane arrives and steps in..."
Door opens and there's Duane standing full blown in Ethan's vomit, a smile on his face unaware of the madness of the past five minutes or the mess under his feet.
"Oh Duane!! You're standing right in it!!!"
All calm, he looks down at the squishy carpet under his feet and simply asks "oh... Which one?"
From the bathroom, Ethan yells "it is NOT cool, Dad!!"
Duane heads back out moments later to bring stuff back to van. Once again, while "momentarily" away, Avalyn decides to fart and I stop what I'm doing when I hear it's odd sound and I say "oh no, Avalyn... Did you just poop in your pants?"
All indignant she stands up and replies "no I didn't!!!" But as she starts to walk away from me indignantly, I smell something foul, and sure enough, her indignant walk begins to look uncomfortable like something's not right. Sure enough, she turns around surprised and says "Mommy? My bum is all wet!"
Folks... This has been a puke-filled, sh*t-your-pants kind of a day. I'm ready to come home and trying not to fear the worst about the trek back home tomorrow!