We are a happily, blended family of seven. Plus, one dog. So actually, we are eight.
With this eight, there is never a shortage of fun. Or noise. There is a lot of fun and a lot of noise.
And while we are, of course, blessed for the love and beautiful – and crazy – connection of our family…we are also blessed to be able to take an annual summer vacation.
When planning our annual vacation, my husband and I put in a lot of time, a lot of research and a lot of effort.
Last summer, we brought our five children to Disney World for a week – and yes, we may have been crazy going to Florida in August but our budget dictated the timeline. For the kids, this was a dream vacation. For my husband and I, this was work. A lot of work. Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t wait to see my then-five-year-old son’s face light up when he met Mickey Mouse or when my then-eight-year-old rode a “real” roller coaster for the first time. And, of course, I was excited to dress the seven of us in matching shirts and capture the perfect Disney-themed family photo that, when I posted on Facebook, everyone would say: “That HAS to be your Christmas card.”
But before all the “Disney magic,” we had to pack, confirm all iPods were charged, make sure everyone had flip-flops to wear to the airport so getting through security was as seamless as possible, assign seating on the plane so our then- 10- and 8-year-olds were as far away from each other as possible to avoid uncontrollable laughter and unwanted noise on the early morning flight, request to pre-board because our daughter has Autism and I have MS, confirm that the flight attendants were aware we have two children with peanut allergies, explain to the kids why their electronic devices had to be turned off during take-off, and then survive the questions – and understandable excitement – of the two-hour and forty-minute flight. Once we arrived, the rest of that week was a memory-making experience like no other filled with fun and fairy dust.
Disney Vacation 2013
I don’t think we were even off the plane back in New York when the kids started beckoning the question – almost simultaneously – “where are we going next year?”
ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?
SERIOUSLY. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?
I know they were just excited. And to be honest, we [Ernie and I] were already asking ourselves the same question. Over the next five months, we would make plans and change plans countless times. We were DEFINITELY going here. And there. And everywhere else.
We planned on taking a plane. Or a boat. Or a train. But for all of our sanity, not the car. Seven people. One car. HELLS-TO-THE-NO!
Fast-forward tons of plans later, a trip to the doggie hotel for Rosie and our two cars were packed for a week in Ocean City where we would drive off at sunrise to end up in Maryland to watch the sunset.
It had all the makings of a perfect week. A big group of friends and their families were going at the same time. The weather forecast was picture-perfect. Our hotel was beachfront – just steps from the sand. The famous boardwalk – funnel cakes, the Ferris wheel and fun – were all calling our name. Oh and two cars. Let’s not forget about that.
The ride to Ocean City was pretty uneventful. The traffic gods must have been on our side because we more or less flew from Long Island to Maryland in just about five hours.
The days went something like this: beach, pool, food, drinks, fun.
The nights went something like this: boardwalk, amusement park, food, drinks, fun.
But then there was that one night when something else happened.
And it involved a trip in an ambulance to the emergency room. Twice.
“Mick Jagger Lips” Concussion
This Was Trip #2 To The Emergency Room
Please, allow me to explain – if for nothing else, so that I have this in writing so one day – one day WAY down the road – we can laugh about.
My husband has sleep apnea. I’m not just talking about snoring. Don’t get me wrong – he snores like a bear (to be fair, I do too!). But for him, it is a very serious breathing issue where he often stops breathing during the night, frequently waking up gasping for air. Before we left for vacation, he had a sleep study done and was “thisclose” to getting the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to help him get back on track with sleeping (due to his severe sleep apnea he has not had a true night sleep in weeks).
Unfortunately, “thisclose” wasn’t close enough. One night, during our vacation in Ocean City, he woke up to use the bathroom. The room was dark and unfamiliar. He went head-over-heels, literally, landing in the in-room Jacuzzi slamming his head and blacking out for a minute or so. He was calling my name, but I was a few rooms away escaping the snoring. I finally heard him and was his Knight In Shining Sweatpants.
Since I Wasn’t There When It Happened, I *Tried* To Create This Reenactment
Long and longer story short, Ernie got a pretty bad concussion, we stayed an extra two nights – so he could get more oriented – and we wound up taking one car home after all (one of our friends took our other car back to Long Island). And guess what, seven people in one car – mixed with a lot of bathroom and snack breaks, wasn’t that bad.
Our Big, Happy, Loud, Sleepy Family 2014 (missing Rosie!)
* Sleep apnea can be a severe condition and is often treated with lifestyle changes, breathing devices and, sometimes, surgery. The goals of treating sleep apnea are to restore regular breathing during sleep as well as relieve systems such as snoring and daytime sleepiness.
If you or a loved one has sleep apnea, please talk with your doctor to discuss which treatment option(s) will work best in your specific situation.