We love going to bowl games! And this one being our 10th bowl game, we have got a pretty good system down.
Not every football family loves going to bowls, in fact not every football family goes to the bowl games.
And I know and understand why.
Living in a hotel for 5 days without a schedule or the comforts of home.
Kids that can't go to bed at night because of the thrill of the stay.
Especially difficult with young kids, napping kids, schedule kids etc...
You are still a single mom for most of the trip because of the schedule the coaches keep; meetings, practices, meals and more meetings.
There have been many trips where I can remember sitting on the floor outside the hotel room in the hall reading magazines waiting for Alayna to finally fall asleep in a nap she desperately needed. Or when I was 24 weeks pregnant and walked 2 miles with a 4 year old Ashtyn carrying her at times to a gas station to get a cheap lunch because there was no other options.
BUT the memories my kids have are endless. I love hearing "remember that bowl game when..."
Yes, they miss school, their schedules, class parties, usually Christmas parties but if we stayed home that would be one more week we don't see dad and don't support our dad.
Here are a few things that make bowls easier...
I have learned that each bowl has a site with the general schedule and from that I can usually figure out the things that families will be required to go to and the days we will need to schedule our own activities. I always mark and plan for the wives luncheon very first. Most of the time they have an coordinating activity for the kids. Sometimes there is an age limit when I need to make arrangements for help. I have used Jay's family, older kids of fellow staff members and have even brought along a sitter to help out.
Once I get a general idea of the schedule (usually a few weeks in advance) I search things to do in the area. We have gone to places like the New Orleans Zoo, Graceland, Legoland, miniature trains and even some city parks. I look for as much as we can in walking distance. Walking the kids wears them out and makes them sleep better and even take naps.
Because of the sporadic schedules, I usually only plan for one big excursion day. That day most likely being the day before the game. This is the day they shut down the hotel game room and the coaches are busy in preparation so there is no chance of seeing dad.
The rest of the time is spent
--exploring the hotel-- finding the gift shops, elevators, stairs, top floor, game room, hospitality room, pool, exercise facility, walking paths, outdoor gardens etc...
--using the game room and ball rooms--the bowl sets up a room with snacks, drinks and treats, multiple gaming consoles, foosball table, air hockey, pool perfect for a few hours of entertainment. If the game room gets boring we bought a soccer ball and bouncy balls that made for hours of entertainment in the ball room not to mention tag and other energy draining games.
--finding opportunities to hang out with dad.
--I like to bring or purchase at the nearby Walgreens a new coloring book and or toy (particularly my girls like petshops, squinkies and Jacob loves cars) good in room entertainment while I flip through channels, nap or shower.
I love the relaxing unscheduled part of a bowl game. Sleeping in, cartoons, 2 meal days because you slept late and breakfast is now brunch, lunch becomes dinner and dinner is a treat from somewhere fun or special.
--Winding down the evening early with an in room movie is now a tradition. And most times they are asleep before it even ends.
As often as we can we try to cheer on the players and attend the media dinners, luncheons and pep rally's.
Now make sure you also prepare for the unknowns....and when I say prepare I mean remember it is not the end of the world and things will be o.k. even if your pantie wearing 2 year old has a mean bout of diarrhea on the bus in the middle of a dozen big 18-24 year old football players and you definitely didn't bring the necessities you will find a way.
It will be o.k. if your 4 year old gets the worst raging case of very contagious pink eye ever. Your Doc can send a prescription to the concierge's suggested pharmacy and you can have it under control in 12 hours.
It will be o.k. if your child has a total thermal nuclear meltdown because you have NO where to be and can put the child in a timeout and have quiet time in the hotel room.
It will be o.k. if your 6 year old barfs the entire first half of the initial traveling, kids are resilient and usually a good nights sleep will cure it.
This year was the Vegas bowl. I did not take as many pics as I should have but her are some of our highlights....
Dinner with the Broncos...
The lions at the MGM Grand.
Looking at the new bridge over the Hoover Dam.
Looking toward the old bridge that goes over and is the Hoover Dam. A bucket list destination that I have wanted to visit ever since this movie and I can now check it off.
The Rainforest Cafe, the girls very most favorite restaurant that is overpriced for blah(read disgusting) food but the atmosphere is so fun. And did I say the kids LOVE it.
Jacob getting close and personal with the 'real' Vegas
Actually the secretary was the one who said this would be a great pic...
...Of course, I agreed
Walking along the strip.
And who could forget, the reason for the season....The game....
Jay coaching them up, making sure everyone knows their assignment.
And it's over, the game, the week, the vacation....
Jay specifically said "DON'T!" post this picture anywhere....
but I am documenting reality.
If you know Jay, he is NOT crying...This is what happens
when you put in 80+ hours a week. When you don't see your kids awake from the time you leave church on sunday until wednesday night. When you miss out on piano recitals, school award ceremonies and slack in your callings a bit. When you live on a few hours of sleep a night. All for 4 hours of 18-24 year old kids running and pushing each other around. And at the end of that 4 hours when the confetti doesn't fly down on you, you put your head in your hands and say what. just. happened? What went wrong and how am I going to not let this happen again.
This was the first bowl loss in 10 years. The only one we have ever and hope to ever experience again.