I love to take my kids on adventures.
In doing so, I hope to pass onto them a love, and a longing, for adventure, that lasts them their whole life.
Our adventures often entail a fair amount of work and a bit of discomfort, and usually leave me exhausted by the end of them.
But they also leave me exhilarated.
They are the stuff of memories.
I’m always, always, glad we made the effort.
Early this summer, Aaron set out on an adventure of his own.
He flew to Spain and Portugal to hike El Camino de Santiago.
He, my dad, and some others, would be there for 10 days, hiking over 80 miles along an ancient pilgrim route.
It was an amazing time, and I hope I can get him to blog about it here.
Meanwhile, I stayed home with our 4 kiddos.
It was the end of the school year and baseball season.
There were a million things going on.
I couldn’t get a babysitter to save my life.
There were closing ceremonies, pizza parties, and extra practices for playoffs.
I was pretty worn out from doing regular life alone, and missing Aaron fiercely on his birthday, Davy’s 2nd birthday, Father’s Day, and our 15th wedding anniversary.
As a way to get through the time while Aaron was gone on his adventure, I had planned to take the kids on one of our own, but time seemed to be working against me.
I had one night.
So we went to Palm Springs.
It was a calculated move.
I needed to deliver some paintings to Just Modern, a fabulous shop in Palm Springs that sells Aaron’s work.
And James had been asking to stay at the ACE ever since his Daddy took him there for lunch a few months prior.
That’s right, my 9 year old loves the ACE hotel.
He liked the food, the aesthetic, and the design.
“It’s mid century, but kind of rustic too, Mom. And they have a photo booth. And a diorama.”
He knows how to woo me.
I found a ridiculously cheap rate–$63 for a double–and away we went.
One night in a hotel?
That’s not much of an adventure, you say.
Our kids have stayed in a hotel only one other time in their lives.
We have 4 kids–we travel cheap.
That means we camp, we stay at the grandparents, and once a year we rent a tiny, log cabin on the central coast of CA, and the owners think we are insane for cramming our whole family in there.
We don’t really do hotels.
So to my babies, it was an adventure extraordinaire.
It was for me as well.
Taking all 4 kids anywhere by myself always is.
Even to the grocery store–I never know what;s going to go down.
But to a hipster sort of place like the ACE, where my kids could very well be the only ones there, and where anyone with 4 kids might as well have 14, it would be an adventure indeed.
I was game.
Bed jumping commenced the moment we walked into our room.
The irritation of packing up, of leaving hours later than I had planned, of stepping out of the car into 108 degree heat, and of feeling a little out of place with my four kids, my minivan, and my distinctly unhipster attire, faded away.
They were having so much fun already.
While they gleefully jumped from bed to bed, I opened my computer, hoping to catch Aaron in Spain, and facetime with him for a few minutes.
He wasn’t online.
I checked my Facebook messages, hoping there would be one from him.
Instead, I saw news that made me gasp in disbelief, and then burst into tears.
A childhood friend had been in a motorcycle accident that morning, and by that afternoon he had passed away.
He was a young man, married, and his first baby was due to arrive in days.
It was the kind of tragedy that leaves you crying for everyone that is left behind.
The kids were ready to go to the pool, but I told them we needed to pray, and it would take Mommy a little while to be ready to go outside.
They were sweet and respectful, eager to hug me, and pray with me for people they didn’t know.
It was such a reminder of the day, nearly a year before, when another friend passed away unexpectedly.
It catches you so off guard.
And it makes you instantly aware of what matters.
I knew this was the frame for our time together these 2 days.
No chores, no work, no distractions to keep me from the most important part of my life.
I dried my tears, and with prayers in my heart, we went to the pool.
We had the small pool all to ourselves.
It was bliss.
Everyone got hungry, and we headed to the big pool for dinner.
I treated myself.
Davy wasn’t the least bit interested in food.
All he wanted to do was play ping pong.
As I had suspected, my kids were the only ones there.
We stood out.
Dinner time was exhausting.
And probably quite humorous for anyone watching me.
Through it all, I was chasing Davy, taking every kid to the bathroom at different times, changing a poopy diaper. trying to keep Davy out of the pool long enough for me to finish something on my plate, and changing tables a million times to get away from smokers, to be near the pool to watch the big kids swim, to be in the shade, to be by the ping pong table, to be away from the ping pong table, and on and on it went.
Thankfully we had an incredibly nice waitress, and my friend Deliesse showed up so I’d have another adult to talk to.
We gawked at the guy walking by in the white speedo and cowboy boots, and she stayed with the kids while I made bathroom trip after bathroom trip, one child at a time.
She was a lifesaver.
At other times, all of this might have gotten to me.
Like I said before, adventure is fun, adventure is worth it, but adventure is also work.
I could have said, I’m fed up!
This isn’t any fun!
Why does everything always have to be so hard?
At other times I’ve said those things.
Those thoughts didn’t come this time.
Instead there was the ache in my heart for a life lost, and a vow to cherish my time with the people I love.
It’s how I should always be, but sadly I am not.
Far too often I loose sight of the most important things and focus on the unimportant things.
At times I get downright lost in them.
After dinner, it was back to the pool with lots of picture taking along the way.
The ACE is extremely photographable.
Night swimming, and sunset, and tired kids falling into bed.
We had such a great day together.
It’s so nice to wake up to cuddles, knowing the only thing you have to do is head out to the pool to eat a breakfast that someone else is making for you, and will then clean up for you.
Eating crackers in bed before breakfast?
Mommy doesn’t have to clean those sheets.
Hotel life is pretty blissful.
I wanted to stay until Aaron came home from Spain.
James and I enjoyed breakfast by the pool.
He’s my foodie, and I was happy to give him the chance to live it up for a couple of days.
“Isn’t it amazing to get to eat breakfast right by the pool Mom? I can’t wait to come back here.”
He wanted eggs, toast, potatoes–the works.
The other kids just wanted croissants.
They didn’t want to get out of the pool.
The hipster vibe was in full force that morning.
I felt it.
There were mustaches galore.
Short shorts–on the guys.
And no other kids.
I didn’t mind that.
There is a lot of hipster stuff I like–put a bird on it!
But there I was, with my mom body, in my hideously unflattering, sagging in all the wrong places, bathing suit from last year, amongst a sea of firm, bikini clad bodies.
Did I feel uncomfortable?
I was running around, chasing Davy, splashing with them, playing tag in the pool, getting out for cold water to drink, putting on sunscreen, giving Shamu rides, and just being a mom.
I didn’t feel cool, or hipster, or very much at ease.
But they were having the time of their lives.
None of the things I was feeling mattered to them.
They were just having fun.
And they were happy to me playing with them instead of folding laundry.
So I remembered my vow, stopped thinking about myself, and had fun too.
After all, no one is ever thinking about you nearly as much as you are thinking about yourself, right?
If we never do anything that is new, or hard, scary, or uncomfortable, we’re going to miss out on a lot.
We’re going to miss out on adventure!
There was some crying in the back of the minivan when we pulled out of the parking lot.
No one wanted to go.
And everyone couldn’t wait to come back.
The ACE was beautiful, fun, the food is always top notch, and despite my own insecurities, everyone was super nice to us.
It was just the kind of grand adventure I had hoped it would be.
I will forever cherish the memories of our day and night together at the ACE–just me and my babies, braving the hipsters, and having a darn good time.
All the best,
PS. How fun that the day I post about our trip to the ACE, I see this fabulous giveaway on Oh Happy Day.
Go here to find out about a chance to win a trip for 4 to Crafting Community at the ACE.
It sounds like something my kids would absolutely love.
They would have to share the pool this time though.
They might like it better when it’s just them and the hipsters.
No really, go check it out.
It sounds fun!