Friday, November 28, 2008

Where In The World Were The Sombars?

Niagara Falls!

For weeks we'd been telling the kids we would leave Thursday morning and drive to Splash Lagoon in Erie, as we had done the year before, but secretly Tom and I were planning to surprise them and keep going North. They'd mentioned several times in the last year or so that they'd like to go to Niagara Falls, and we figured that a few extra hours driving wouldn't hurt....

So Wednesday, after school, we piled in the van and headed out into the freezing cold. At first it appeared that I might need some heavy medication, as everything was going haywire in the plan. Of course, with my darling husband behind the wheel, anything can happen, and as usual, he took life by the seat of its pants and decided to wait until the last minute to get in the correct lane to go through the tunnel into Pittsburgh,so.....we got stuck for about twenty minutes, circling the city, trying to find our way back onto the highway (duh!). I could've strangled him, but somehow I knew there would be no celebrating with me in the State Pen. for aggravated assault or murder, so I suppressed my homicidal urges and sang Christmas carols at the top of my lungs instead, scowling just a little. About five and a half hours later we arrived at our pit-stop for the night-a hotel in Buffalo, NY (nothing short of a miracle, as Tom had decided he didn't need directions when we got off of the interstate, and, again, we circled and circled and circled). Our children, still clueless as to our whereabouts, began what would be at least eight hours of pure lunacy, as we, like the Beverly Hillbillies, crammed into a semi-luxurious 200 sq. foot room at the Hyatt. First there was the predictable jumping on the beds, then musical beds. At one point I seriously contemplated going AWOL but I fell asleep instead... then the neighbors woke me up at 4:00 because they were drunk and stupid, so I called the front desk twice with my most threatening sleep-deprived voice, then I began plotting evil things against the mean neighbors who didn't shut-up until 5:30. By the time we were ready to leave, Thanksgiving morning, I was astonished that I could've bred such an uncivilized bunch of humans- reaching for the toilet paper, I came to realize that my uncouth brood had pilfered everything in the place not held down by a bolt. So, with a deep sigh, or perhaps, some yelling, we checked out and headed back into the cold...
Scurrying for the elevators at the Hyatt in Buffalo- I secretly feared there might be a T.V. or telephone in one of their suitcases

Finally, about five minutes prior to the border, Lily pipes up "Mommy- I'm so confused- where is Splash Lagoon- I keep seeing signs that say Canada!" So our tricks worked and the kids were excited beyond reason that we were making our first trip out of the country together, though Ben kept wondering if we were going to be turning around and heading back to Erie- he liked the first plan better. As we, being the ding-bats of the earth, forgot to pack- you guessed it- bathing suits, Tom had to drive to several different Walmarts where we were greeted with laughter, given the snow, ice, and bone-chilling winds outside, at the inquiries about possible summer clearance attire. We got lucky at the last stop, however, and $40 later, we were back on board the ride out of my dysfunctional nightmare.

So, in a nutshell, our Thanksgiving was spent in a most non-traditional way: rocketing down slides, feasting on slush puppies and nachos
, and splashing through waves at the FallsView Waterpark in Niagara.

I would liken the adventure to frolicking about in an aquatic meadow- I had to constantly remind myself that I was inching on 40, as I ran with my children around and around the rides, ecstatic that there were no lines- really, it doesn't get better than this people.

In case you were wondering, we dined, unlike the pilgrims of yore, on Italian food

(does anyone notice that all of my children are wearing nice warm clothes, except for my daughter, the only person alive who would find a sequined tank top appropriate attire for Canada in the winter?!)

(cheese-less pizzas for the big boys, noodles for Lily and me, and a mushroom brick-oven pie for Tom and Seth)
then toured the breathtaking falls, via our mini-van,
ogling at the miles of Christmas light displays which the city had marvelously constructed.

Back in our suite, the boys fell asleep to the fourth Harry Potter movie while Tom and Seth snored, and Lil and I attempted to make our way through the CNN Heroe awards (which were fantastic, not to mention inspiring).

This morning we got up slowly and spent a few hours making our way around the Falls,

looking for the best candy store, and then heading stateside again.

Sethy, a/k/a the bottomless pit, dined on Japanese rice snacks while Lily and Liam watched various episodes of "Little House On The Prairie" and Benjamin took some moments to sleep on the way home.

We're already planning next year's surprise festivities, though it will be hard to top this one- we have all unanimously agreed that this was our favorite vacation yet.


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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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