We had high hopes for a trip to the Balloon Festival in Battle Creek last night.
The plan was to pick the three oldest kids up from VBS at noon, feed them lunch, have a couple of hours for naps, and then leave for the festival at quarter after three. The festivities started at five o'clock, and we're a little over an hour away. No problem, right?
Sometimes I think God laughs at all the silly little plans we make.
I decided first thing in the morning that I should bring the baby to the doctor to see if he had an ear infection. Every time he's cried for the last few days, he's pulled on his ears, and it seemed wise to get them checked out. However, the only time they had available was two o'clock. Hmmmm. Tight, but doable. We were also dangerously low on diapers, so I figured I could squeeze in a quick Meijer trip while I was out.
The second wrench in our plans came when my husband left to pick up the kids from VBS. Or at least, he tried to leave. Our van wouldn't start (in fact, it still won't start and is currently "resting" on our driveway). When you have a big family, your van not starting is a BIG problem. We have another car, a tiny little Prism that my husband drives to work, but it is waaaaaaaaaaay too small for our family. So our options were: skip the trip, or find another car to borrow.
Since we were meeting my parents at the Balloon Festival (they're camping down there), we called them, and it was decided that we could borrow their small car. But we needed to get to their house to pick it up, which meant leaving some of the kids at home by themselves (which we've never done). We decided to go during naptime, while both girls were in separate areas and unaware we were leaving. Mr. J (11 1/2) was left reading a book in the living room with a phone nearby, and we took the two little boys with us.
This went off without a hitch, except that the passenger door handle completely broke while I was getting out of our little car, and no longer lets anyone in or out. But besides that, we were able to pick up my parents' car, I was able to get baby K to his appointment at two, and then wait for forty minutes to find out that he just likes pulling his ears. Especially when he's frustrated. Or maybe he's just frustrated that he can't get them off.
After a quick Meijer trip, a gathering of paraphernalia from home and aforementioned stationary van, the assembly of a trail mix for the car ride, and several potty trips, we actually left our house in two separate vehicles at about four. Not too bad.
It would have been fine, actually, except that the stupid GPS fell off the dashboard and cleared when we first started our trip. I thought that I had restored it to the address my husband had input, but an hour and twenty minutes later, we wound up at a Dollar General in the center of Battle Creek. We had driven twenty minutes past our destination. Whoops.
We finally collected my parents and headed to the airport for the festival, parking in a nearby neighborhood. When my husband went to get our lawn chairs from the back of my parents' car, though, a mouse jumped out of the hatchback, over the back seat, and landed directly ON MY BABY! I very nearly died. A screaming mouse chase ensued, the men trying to scare the mouse out of the car, me anxiously pushing to get my baby out of the car, and the children scrambling to see the mouse, which eventually leapt from the vehicle and scurried, terrified, down the street.
And although none of the escapades after were nearly as exciting as the 'mouse on baby' encounter, the rest of the evening went a little like this:
Forgotten camera bag. Husband walks all the way back to car to retrieve. Looooong way. Looooving husband. But didn't end up taking a single picture.
We discover the 'buy one get one' entry coupons we brought were the wrong ones. The correct ones were sitting in my parents' trailer.
Thirsty children. Thirsty adults. No water. "I'm thirsty" is heard over and over and over and over and over and over and over....
Balloon launch delayed due to weather. We wait in a scratchy field. We wait. And wait. And wait.
Balloon launch (whole point of trip) is eventually cancelled.
We realize that it's 8:30 and we haven't eaten dinner. We need to get back to the campground to have time to eat, as it closes at ten. No time for carnival games. Or crafts. Or elephant ears. Forlorn children walk past carnival, downtrodden.
We can't get our car into the campground because we hadn't purchased the parks sticker for it (we bought it only for the van, seeing as how we would never be bringing our family anywhere in the tiny car). People in car are dropped off, and men leave to park car in distant parking lot outside park lines.
Too many mosquitos and too little time for anticipated campfire. We eat microwaved hotdogs inside the trailer. No roasting marshmallows, no s'mores, but we are appeased by ice cream.
We pick up our car from the far-away parking lot, and then we leave.
Final tally? Broken van. Broken door handle on car. Children left unsupervised. Long wait at doctors' office. Baby mad that ears are not removable. Late departure. Went to wrong destination. Wasted driving time. Mouse attacked baby. Forgotten camera. Wrong coupons. Long wait in scratchy field. Thirsty people. Hungry people. No hot air balloons. No carnival. No car allowed in campground. Excess mosquitos. No campfire. No s'mores.
Trip Fail of Epic Proportion.
Know what? We still had a great time. Got to see Grandma and Papa. Got to see some airplanes. Got to spend lots of time in the car with my oldest son and my middle daughter, two kids that often get overlooked in our crazy family. Got to drink Speedway cappuccino and look out for 'evil alien robots that only come out at night' (cell towers) and sing hymns on the way home. It was a good trip.
Guess it's all in your perspective.