What I Learned From Summer Vacation

What the heck is in Hot Springs, Arkansas anyway?

Seven kids, five adults, and two carloads of curiosity for a jam-packed family vacation.


Our vacation crew. Hubbies are taking the pics.

My kids are quite easy to please. Through the years, vacations have been very simple. Since we live about 800 miles away from family, our usual vacation is a road trip visiting the family and attending camp. This summer however, that all changed.

I realized that, like me, my kids prefer to mix up their summer action. We tend to switch up summer camp activities, so why not mix up the vacation location? Our friends proposed  that we combine our families for a vacation extravaganza to include seven children and five adults.

We decided to live on the edge…well in the car. After 19 hours (yes I am absolutely not over exaggerating!), and about six red bulls, 3 slim jims, a number of burgers (yuck!), several strategic water bottles, snacks, and fill ups later, we made it to Hot Springs.

I learned many valuable lessons. First of all, Hot Springs is not always that hot! The beginning was warm and sunny. By the end of the week, it was rainy and slightly cool. Next year, I will be prepared as long as I remember these tips.

1. Bring a bag full of drugs
Or a supply of remedies for whatever ails you.

On the first morning I awoke to a sinus headache with a side of allergies. Not fun at all. The kids were up early and screaming to swim, and I was turning over wishing that I had not agreed to the trip. While hubby ran to the store to find meds, I bummed some pills from my friend’s mother, and drank some very weak coffee. 20 minutes later, I was in vacation mode.

2 – Bring extra linens

When I stay in hotels the linens always look and feel brand new. I have no problem diving into the bed or using the bath towels on my face, especially since there is someone to freshen up each day. Our resort is a different story. Although the apartment is a great space overlooking a lake, the linens were nothing like hotel linens and there was no maid service.  Thank goodness for the washer and dryer in the unit.


Lakefront view

3 – Bring a pair of sneakers

Yes, I know this an obvious point but not for someone who doesn’t really “vacation.” Besides I only own two pair of sneakers: one for working out and another is a pair of converse that my husband forced me to get years ago (they are pretty worn). I did bring a pair of cushioned athletic flip-flops that are just as comfortable as a pair of sneakers. The problem is that when riding in go carts or paddle boats, the back of my heels get a little more action than I desire. I spent the day rubbing black rubber marks off of my heel and dodging lake water.

4 – Bring the cooking necessities 

Vacation rentals tend to provide pots, pans, and other dishes. But cooking and washing dishes everyday don’t feel much like vacation. This makes plastic or paper utensils a necessity, especially with seven growing children. We also purchased spices to cook food and save money on eating out. Other items included water bottles, spirits of choice, and quick snacks.

5 – Make sure to have lots of film/phone memory

We did so much in a compact amount of time that I can’t keep up with all of the memories. I am glad that we had five cameras on deck! Between all of our smartphones and cameras, we were able to capture all of the unforgettable moments.


My oldest son is brave!



Beach photo shoot!



Watermelon delight

Happy Summer!


 [Photos courtesy of the Barnes and Trowel families.]





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