7:30 a.m.: Wake up, look at clock, realize you wanted to leave at 7:00, shrug, go back to sleep.
8:30 a.m.: Allow Sven to wake the household.
9:00 a.m.: Begin putting children in the car.
9:02 a.m.: Discover the neighborhood cat on our front porch.
9:15 a.m.: Begin putting children in the car.
9:28 a.m.: Pull out of the driveway. Nod wisely when Sven points to the clock and says, "See, we left by 9:30."
9:32 a.m.: Get fuel. Go in to get snacks while Sven drives home to retrieve the Shamu Sports Cup that entitles us to $.99 refills at Sea World.
9:45 a.m.: Sven returns. "We're not going back again," he grumbles. "That's fine," you say. "Did you get the kids' beds?"
9:46 a.m.: Princess says, "Daddy, we don't say 'dammit.'"
9:52 a.m.: Sven gets the kids' beds, you get the DVD player and an assortment of movies the children will hate and cry about.
9:58 a.m.: "See, we left by 10:00."
12:45 p.m.: Stop for lunch at The World's Slowest Chili's.
1:52 p.m.: Back in the car.
2:30 p.m.: Make the obligatory stop at Buc-ee's for fresh fudge and dubious jerky. Sven vows, "We will not get any stuffed animals on this trip."
2:37 p.m.: Leave Buc-ee's with a screaming Princess sobbing, "But I wanted to see the animals!" and Dexy pointing over your shoulder, crying, "Want that! Want that!" But you are stuffed-animal free.
4:03 p.m.: Arrive at Natural Bridge Caverns. Sven and Princess do the cave tour while Dexy and you "mine" for "gemstones" in Texas' Longest Sluice. Don't pretend you're not impressed.
5:30 p.m.: Go to the drive-thru safari. Purchase 4 paper bags of food and get the strict instruction: don't hand feed the animals, keep your hands inside your car.
5:45 p.m.: Sven hand-feeds an antelope. It goes well.
6:00 p.m.: You hand-feed a zebra and pet it on the nose. The zebra, sensing your weakness, puts its entire massive head inside the car. You coolly scream and throw the entire bag of food at the zebra while Dexy (on your lap) looks mildly concerned. The zebra takes the entire bag of food and finally leaves. You keeps your window rolled up for the remainder of the trip.
6:45 p.m.: You do not go to the gift shop. Stuffed animal count: 0
7:00 p.m.: Eat dinner at the Magic Time Machine, where the waitstaff includes Dorothy, Harry Potter, Lara Croft, and Elizabeth Swan. There was also a Naughty Alice in Wonderland, but you're not sure why she was there. The children get balloons.
7:52 p.m.: The Balloon War of 2009 has commenced in the back seat of the car, where Princess insists that she needs to Hold On to Dexy's balloon, Just In Case.
8:30 p.m.: You find your hotel and check in. You immediately begin putting the kids into their swim gear, knowing this will be the best way to get them tired enough to sleep.
9:00 p.m.: You still haven't gotten anyone into swimwear except Sven.
9:20 p.m.: All are now in swimwear and heading down to the pool.
9:24 p.m.: You get into the pool, populated by a polite family finishing a poolside dinner.
9:40 p.m.: The Rowdy McYell family arrives at the pool. They appear to have 28 children, all between the ages of 11 and 14. These children begin to dive into the pool.
9:42 p.m.: You, having been kicked twice by the same child, turn your gaze to the McYell parents, only to see them making out in the deep end of the pool while holding their baby. Not wanting to disturb them, you make Sven, Dexy, and Princess stick to the shallow end of the pool.
9:45 p.m.: The McYell boys begin diving into the shallow end of the pool. Mr. and Mrs. McYell move their makeout session to the center of the pool.
9:46 p.m.: Princess informs you that there is a monster in the pool, so you need to go.
9:52 p.m.: You are back in the room, promising the children a hot bath.
9:53 p.m.: You discover the bathtub lacks a stopper, so there will just be a quick rinse in the shower.
9:55 p.m.: Princess discovers that her left buttock will block the drain, so she takes her bath.
10:10 p.m.: You take your shower.
10:30 p.m.: Children asleep, Sven goes to get garbage bags. You check your blog, e-mail, and Facebook, then play Bejeweled until you are ready to go to sleep.
10:37 p.m.: You are ready to go to sleep.
11:25 p.m.: Sven comes back.
11:45 p.m.: Sven is asleep.
12:30 a.m.: Sister Act is on.
1:30 a.m.: You are asleep.
2:22 a.m.: Dexy comes to your side of the bed, whimpering.
2:25, 2:37, 2:58, 3:12, 3:31, 3:48: Dexy pulls your hair and kicks you.
4:00 a.m.: Dexy is finally still and you go to sleep.
6:00 a.m.: Alarm goes off.
6:10, 6:20, 6:30: Alarm goes off.
7:00 a.m.: You wake, realizing that Sven, Princess, and Dexy are already up and getting dressed. "Getting up today, Lazybones?" Sven teases. You aren't amused.
8:15 a.m.: Check out of the hotel and set off for breakfast.
8:20 a.m.: Denny's.
9:15 a.m.: On the way to Sea World! Yay!
10:00 a.m.: Sea World opens with the playing of the National Anthem. You go immediately to feed the dolphins.
10:15 a.m.: You feed and pet a dolphin!
12:00 p.m.: Shamu show. You, again, sob throughout.
12:48 p.m.: Ice cream.
1:12 p.m.: You proceed to the Sea Lion holding tank and purchase a small paper tub of partially disemboweled fish and squid to feed them.
1:13 p.m.: Your paper tub falls into the pool, necessitating retrieval by two surly Sea World employees wielding a 12-foot net.
1:17 p.m.: You proceed to the World of Penguins.
1:24 p.m.: You, having seen the entire World of Penguins, prepare to leave.
1:25 p.m.: Sven takes Princess back through the World of Penguins, Just To See.
1:27 p.m.: Sven purchases two stuffed animals: a pink penguin for Princess, a crazy rubber-haired penguin for Dexy. (He already bought Princess a Shamu necklace.) Sven hangs his head in shame.
1:58 p.m.: You load the car and leave for home, secure that you have gotten enough use from your Fun Cards to justify buying them.
2:01 p.m.: Sven says, "Don't worry, Princess, we can come back for Labor Day."