We've been in Colorado for almost a week now and so I feel ready to let you know how the driving portion of our trip went. Truth be told, when I think of it in my head as taking four kids, in a minivan, halfway across our great land of America, I feel more than slightly overwhelmed. But when I think of how the trip *actually* went, I realize that it went spectacularly, the kids behaved amazingly and things went about as smooth as they could have possibly gone.
Monday evening we started packing, with the plan being that we would leave on Tuesday mid-morning as soon as Elie got off the bus. Elie was adamant that she attend the Last Day of School. It was very, very important to her and so we decided not to pull her so that we could get a really early start on the drive. But we knew that we needed to pack the night before so that we could be ready to go as soon as Elie got off the bus. We started to get the kids ready for bed and Talia burst into tears. "Why are we getting ready for bed? Why aren't we going to the reunion? I thought we were going to the reunion????" After explaining to her (several times) that we were leaving in the morning, she finally got it sorted out. Whew. The ideas they get in their little heads sometimes.
Tuesday morning we got Elie off the bus and jumped into the car. (Surprisingly, we were actually ready to start driving when she got home, sometimes getting ready for trips isn't so much our strong suit.) I made sandwiches as we were driving and everyone had fun time with our picnic on the move. We crossed over into Maryland....and the questions began.
"What state are we in?" "When we will get to the reunion?" "How much longer will we be driving today?" "Are we going to Cindy and Jay's house?" "When will we be there?" "What state are we in?" "What state are we in?" "What state are we in?"
After about the fifth time in a row (you know, every child has to ask the question for themselves and they can't listen/process the answer that was given to a question asked by a different child) that Adam or I had answered the "what state are we in" question, we were starting to feel like the road trip was going to be an exceedingly long one.
We told them to stop asking and that we would be sure to announce when we crossed over into another state. But I couldn't stop thinking about how to get the information into their own hands, so they could access it at anytime. Then I got a Great Parenting Idea. Elie brought some journals to write in. I suggested that she start making a list of what state we were in, writing another one down when we crossed into a new state. That way, whenever she wanted to know where we were, she could just look at her list. And you know what? It WORKED! She wrote them down, it was a family activity to announce them AND she used it.
Isaac - "Elie, what state are we in?"
Elie - "I don't know, let me look at the list. (flipping pages noise) Indiana!"
Isaac - "Indiana. Aws (Isaac's abbreviation for the word "awesome". Thanks!"
It worked, it really worked!!! It was amazing how much fun she had writing it down and keeping track.
We made it to Dayton OH the first day and had time to visit with my friend from high school, Cindy, her husband, Jay, and their beautiful daughter Zoe. We got up the next morning and cruised for a really long day, all the way to Topeka, KS. I'm not saying there weren't some minor outbursts (Elie hit Isaac in the face with a motorcycle "on accident", Isaac spilled a large amount of water, and other issues) but for the most part, everyone played happily, sang with me, read their books, listened to me reading books and were really super troopers about the car. I even got a fair amount of work in on the washcloth I'm knitting and the blanket I'm crocheting. Third day we finished out the trip to Colorado Springs and made it there in the late afternoon.
We did squeeze in some caching (just about being carried away by giant mutant mosquitos in Eastern KS while waiting at a playground, for Adam to do a cache) and managed to cross off Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri as states we needed to cache in. Thank goodness for rest-stop caches because we HAD to stop at lots of rest-stops. Talia is deep in the stage where anytime anyone says any word remotely related to using the bathroom, she suddenly has a deep and urgent need to visit one. And Isaac still has trouble taking care of his business all in one visit. Ah well, maybe taking all those breaks isn't such a bad thing.
We're having a super amazing time visiting with family and doing really cool and fun stuff. I'll save that report for another day, though!