Surprise inspiration: Collegial kids

This week I heard a self-proclaimed ?struggling freelance writer? talk about his need for a Muse to get his creative juices flowing.

While I?m not into mythology and the guy didn?t strike me as reliable, he did have a point. Writers are generally inspired by something.

For me, I have three subjects that tend to produce volumes of inspiration. Despite my interest in all my children, I?m pretty sure my second-born has her own section in my inspirational library. Her sometimes harrowing adventures not only contribute to my writing, but have recently given me my first gray hair.

And I expected nothing less for this column.

You see, we vacationed in Florida last week.

We flew out of Kansas City to Fort Myers, and I thought for sure that dragging three kids, five carry-ons and a stroller through three airports in one day would surely inspire column-worthy escapades.

You can imagine my relief (and shock) when nothing significant happened. We all made it on the plane and our luggage re-joined us in Florida. We rented a car and crammed three car seats in back, which actually came in quite handy because my oldest could shovel Cheerios into the mouth of my empty garbage-disposal son.

The next day, we successfully maneuvered a boat ride to an outlying island, where we spent a portion of the day hunting for shells. On the way out, we got to see a pod of dolphins. On the way back, we raced (and beat) a pop-up storm, thanks to our captain, my uncle. Day 2 of vacation down, and still no outrageous story.

On Day 4, we took a drive north to Sarasota where we spent time at the No. 1 beach in the United States, Siesta Beach. It was wonderful, even after driving rain beat down the fluffy sand. The girls befriended a 4-year-old named Izzy, and toward the end of our impromptu playdate, we built a sandcastle, complete with a waterfall mote.

But Day 4 wasn?t over with that. We drove home and readied ourselves to dine at my relatives? country club. I was very uptight about the decision to take my crew to an establishment that included the words country and club. But the kids were on their best behavior?thanks to my prayer warriors, I?m sure?and no plates or temper tantrums were thrown. (And the dessert was a very delicious bonus.)

By this point in the trip, I was starting to get a little worried about my column inspiration. My ?muses? weren?t delivering. But up next: a trip to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. This could get juicy.

Tampa was a two-hour drive from where we were bunking, and the kids all got pretty antsy, but we survived. The aquarium was huge and jammed with people attempting to get up-close and personal with shark tanks and penguins. Even the baby enjoyed the exhibits, though, and the toughest part of the day was navigating our way through the showroom floor back to the marketplace on an impromptu stop at IKEA. (Dear Kansas, please start schmoozing this company. Thank you.)

Wow. A whole day in a crazed location, and all three children stuck by our sides. The girls were even confident enough to touch rays and starfish. Now they were wreaking havoc on good ole L&P.

A day later, we attended a Catholic church. The children sat still and colored.

We ate at an ice cream parlor, where only small drips of the homemade goodness made it to the ground beneath our patio pub table.

And now, here I sit, with only one day of vacation and one day of travel still ahead and no distressing adventure to write about. I never expected that sort of inspiration.

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