Road Trip to Philly

My girlfriend Christine and her family invited me and munch to Philly last month. I was so ecstatic (probably too much) that I agreed because I wasn’t driving. I was riding. Now, the disclaimer. My girlfriend has two 5-year-old twins and a 1-year-old. So, three kids of her own and munch, her husband and me. Yippee!

We mapped out our plan of things we would do:

  • We would see the Rocky Statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • See the Liberty Bell
  • Visit Independence Hall
  • Get cheesesteaks
  • And anything else we had time for

Everything was scheduled and my girlfriend sends me a text to say that she would be at my house by 8:30 am on Saturday. Okay, cool. I got up at 6 am to get myself together. I started cleaning, doing laundry and fixing munch breakfast. I wake him up at 7 am because it takes him 45 minutes to an hour to eat breakfast and I don’t want them to wait on us. Munch complains and says that he’s not hungry because he knows it is Saturday and I don’t usually wake him. I tell him about our trip and he gets excited and says, “I get to see the twins.” “Yep” I replied. He eats.

I get him dressed and it’s 8 am. I tell him he can go into his room and play until they arrive and begin to vacuum and fold clothes. It’s about 9:30 and I’m getting tired. I decided to shower and get dressed so that I can be ready to walk outside when they pull up. My girlfriend was texting her apologies and I told her no worries because as I told munch, “It’s 3 of them and 1 one of you. It takes a lot less time.”

She pulls up and munch and I are waiting outside. It’s now a little after 10:00 am. We hop in their beautiful mini-van and head to Philly. Philly is normally a 2 hour trip from my house. However, we made a couple of stops and didn’t get there until after 2 pm. Traffic sucked major butt. A four-hour trip for something that normally takes two hours was not a good thing.

But, the kids were good. Actively playing and my munch was working my last nerves. Her kids were awesome. Why? Because munch isn’t used to being around other children and he feels the need to tattle when he doesn’t get his way. It was a lot of tattling! Sigh.

Due to the delayed time, our first stop was to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Rocky statue which was awesome, but the parking situation wasn’t. We parked behind the museum and paid $36.00. We didn’t know. We were truly tourists. It was so hot so we took a couple of pictures and let the kids play in the fountain across from the museum. It’s now after 3 pm and we’re all getting hungry. Christine’s friends (who live outside of Philadelphia) suggested that we go to the Reading Market Terminal for lunch. Lots of choices and good food.

We agreed and headed over there. We found a great parking lot in Chinatown for $7.00 and went to eat. By this time it was almost 4 pm and I told Christine that the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall may close at 5 pm. We were disappointed, but being parents we knew the kids had to eat first. We went in and loved it. If you’ve never been, you should definitely check it out. Lots of good food and restaurant choices plus independent shops selling everything including books, chocolate, cookies, etc. There’s even a farmer’s market inside.

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Credit Jared Kofsky/PlaceNJ.com

 

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We all ate and then decided we were exhausted. It was after 6 pm and the kids were getting antsy. So, we headed back to the car to get back down the road. But, not before we decided to head over and get our cheesesteaks from Campo’s and Sonny’s because they are a couple of stores away from each other on Market Street. I prefer Sonny’s, but suggested that they try one from each and decide which they prefer. They preferred Campo’s.

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We head back south and the kids fall asleep which brings a few minutes of peace and quiet. I love road trips and I love hanging with my girl and her family. Even though I threatened to slit my writs with a rusty nail file, I can’t imagine munch and I not having them around. Our next trip will hopefully be a camping one to Jellystone National Reserve. Before you get it twisted…it will be a log cabin with wi-fi and a waterpark for the kids. Not a tent on the ground. LOL!
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Ah the joys of parenting!

Family: We’re More than Just Blood

Okay, so I am still in vacation mode as I sip my venti iced coffee with extra cream and 9 Splenda from Starbucks this morning.  I am enjoying the toned color of my skin and I still have that hazy glow of pure bliss. This was the first family vacation that we have ever taken and I actually had a ball.  I couldn’t have imagined having so much fun with my siblings and their families.  If you know me, this in itself is a big deal because we all have varying degrees of dysfunction yet we mesh together in a broken way.  It works for us.

We spent four days in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as one big ole family.  One of the greatest surprises is that my mom took the bull by the horns and made the reservation once we agreed on the date because she knew her children wouldn’t do it.  I applaud her for that.  The resort was nice, clean with lots to do and the weather was perfect.  We all agree that we would do it again next year and would like to make it a yearly trip to the beach with our families.  However, that being said, there are some tips that I want to share to make sure that you have a smooth and friendly family vacation.

  • Save more money.  Whether you are a family of two or a family of six, traveling with children can prove pricey.  We stayed at a resort that had a full size refrigerator and microwave and we stocked our fridge with lemonade, juice boxes, sandwiches and fruit to snack on while we lounged at the pool or beach all day.  Money is essential on any vacation trip and you should definitely have money to afford family dinners and activities.
  • Carpool.  Gas prices are out of control and it is more beneficial to car pool and share the gas prices with others than footing the bill on your own. Because we were able to drive our own cars, it was more economical than flying and having to rent a car.  However, my car takes premium gas and the fill-up is about $68.00.  We filled up 3 times.  I think next year I will rent a car that takes regular gas.  
  • Research.  I wish we had researched some really nice restaurants and things to do with the kids prior to going.  I would love somewhat of a schedule with suggested price listings so we could have planned our activities accordingly.  We took the kids to the Amusement Park that was small and not overly crowded and they had a blast, but I truly appreciate a more itemized and researched vacation suggestions.
  • Pictures.  Nowadays, most people have a smart phone and take pictures on their phone, but many of us forget to send or upload them so that we can all share and have access to the photos to make a photo book of our vacation.  I took many pictures on my smart phone and began uploading them on Shutterfly last night so that we can all view and have a vacation book for our memories.  It was a great trip so you want to make sure that you get plenty of photos of all your family members.
  • Relax and enjoy.  It is simple yet for many of us hard to do.  We don’t know how to relax and enjoy and go with the flow of the conversation or activity choices without complaining or trying to regulate it. I think if you have a suggested itinerary that you send out in advance, you can modify it or decide to opt out of activities that don’t appeal to you.  Whatever you do, just remember that you need to relax and enjoy the time together because it is a family vacation.  
The cutest thing was when my munch said to his cousin William when he saw him at the pool was “Hi, William.”  William said, “Hi, Brennan.  Whoa you’ve gotten dark.” Brennan laughed and smiled brightly.  He responded, “I’m 6 now too.” This trip rejuvenated my munch and strengthened his relationship with his cousins and for that I am extremely grateful.  I love my family and I’m thankful that this trip happened because I discovered that we’re more than just blood, we’re actually friends.
Myrtle Beach – July 2014