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Let there be cake

Today, Nolan turned 14.


As I mentioned before, we celebrated with an overnight stay out of town last night. Now we’re home, recovering and falling back into our normal routine of things like yelling at Walter to leave the Christmas tree alone. In other words, we traded one kind of stress for another.


We left later than we intended yesterday-- it’s kind of our thing. Now, there are two ways to get to Eau Claire from where we live… One option has more opportunities for bathroom stops than the other. But of course, the one with fewer stop options is just a bit quicker. Since we left late, we chose the faster route. Of course that was a mistake.


We did stop along the way, but the last stretch was kind of a long one. By the time we got to our hotel, Nolan was cranky while Kirk and I were anxious… Nolan, it seems, hadn’t made it all the way there, so we had a wet seat and kiddo to deal with. As with anything else, we split up to divide and conquer as soon as we got Nolan into our hotel room. Kirk took care of the potty break and getting him out of his wet clothes while I moved the car and acted as suburban sherpa and brought everything in from the car.


By that time it was almost 4 pm, so we decided to take the route of the stereotypical Early Bird seniors and head to dinner early. That left us the rest of the night to play uninterrupted.

The place that we stayed (Metropolis Resort in Eau Claire, WI) has both an indoor waterpark and indoor fun center/ trampoline park. In previous years, we’ve visited a large waterpark resort in Wisconsin Dells that has some great pricing at this time of year. They had fewer options for entertainment along with bigger crowds, though. Nolan has sort of an on-again off-again relationship with water and swimming. Right now, he’s not a big fan.


It turns out this was a good choice. Sure we spent more than we could have, but the fun per dollar value was so much better. Plus the hotel itself was so much nicer.


We don’t travel a lot (2019 was a big year for us-- we had 3 overnights away from home) in part because hotels are hard for us. Nolan is out of his routine… We can’t tuck him in and leave him alone in his room to fall asleep on his own, so instead we kind of try to not be obvious about staring at him while we think “Is he asleep yet? No? How about now?”


The whole time we’re in the room, we’re just hoping he doesn’t have a meltdown or start crying and get loud. On a previous trip, someone from the front desk came to make sure we weren’t hurting Nolan because a guest in a neighboring room called to complain that he’d been crying. We had just checked in, and Nolan and Kirk were in the room getting settled while I went back out to park the car. Needless to say, that was a tense night.


But this hotel was marvelous, and I wish every hotel would learn from it. I never heard anything from adjacent rooms-- not even running water. I mean, sure, I heard people in the hallway if they were getting noisy, but I’d be comfortable going back knowing that I wouldn’t need to worry about the Perfect Mom in the next room demanding a refund for her room because she could hear my child in an adjacent room behaving like a child with autism will.


But we played. And then we played. And then we played some more. Nolan chose the trampoline park over the waterpark (which was no surprise to us), so we bought two-hour jump passes. Nolan loved it, and Kirk and I bounced along as much as we could handle. I could barely get out of bed this morning after all of that bouncing, so we must’ve done it right.


And Kirk played all the SkeeBall his old-school heart could handle. He did need a quick lesson in the new technology, but I’m sure he would agree that the system where you accumulate tickets on the same card you pay with is much easier than carrying around a pocket full of quarters along with approximately 23,830,967 arm-lengths of paper tickets.


We stayed out late and were up well past our bedtimes waiting for sleep to win the battle. Eventually it did, so Kirk & I also went to sleep. Sleep was restless for us, and morning came much too early.


So today we’re tired and cranky (like, crankier than normal-- by a lot). I can feel the exhaustion in the depths of my soul. But neither the exhaustion nor the attitude it brings is outside of the norm for these trips either. Maybe that’s part of our travel routine.


So tonight the goal is to sleep early. Nolan has already gone to bed, and Kirk is half asleep on the couch. After a good night’s sleep, hopefully we’ll be less cranky and more patient with each other.


But I’m sure we’ll still be tired. We haven’t found a way to get rid of that completely yet. I mean maybe someday-- a girl can dream, right?


Also, we totally forgot about cake. How does that happen on the one day you're practically guaranteed to eat cake? That's just messed up.

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