Monday, November 28, 2011

The Travel Diaries, Part 1: The Preparations

The rest of this series can be viewed by clicking here (#2), here (#3), and here (#4).

Since I'm not a fan of posting my vacation plans to the world, as an invitation for my house to be burglarized, I'm posting this after the fact, when we've returned.

So, for Thanksgiving week, the boys and I are heading out of state to see my family. We're driving approximately 689 miles. That rounds out to about 11 hours of driving time, but that average is for people who maybe have to only make a quick stop or two. Let me remind you that we are doing this with a 14-month-old, a 3-year-old, and a 5-year-old. So, in other words, we're going to have to make 14 stops, and it's going to take about 16 hours, if we're lucky. It's going to be fun. And by fun, I mean miserable, and by miserable, I mean an absolute nightmare. I'm sure I'm going to want to slam the car into the freeway center divider at a high speed a time or six just to put us all out of our misery. But, since I'm a fan of thinking positive, I'm going to turn this frown upside down and begin a little mantra of: This is going to be GREAT! Smoooooth sailing! All the way! 

Now, I'm not actually thinking "positive", per se, I am merely accepting with a giant, mental-illness-induced smile on my face that the drive is going to bring about pure and utter horror. 

In typical trip preparation fashion, I pack. The boys are easy to pack for; the jeans and t-shirts they wear require zero outfit coordination (thank God for boys). I pack about 32 pounds of food for the drive, because I know that if the kids have food in their mouths, then they are less likely to talk, scream, cry, and fight. I pack a "go bag" to have in the front seat with us; basically a bag of easily-accessible items that we can throw at the baby in desperation, because there is nothing more agonizing than spending 12 minutes painfully contorting yourself in the car, looking for and putting together a bottle or toy or something while the kid is screaming his face off 16 inches from your ear. By the way, GREAT TIP HERE, even though he's a couple months past the formula-drinking age, I had a few leftover ready-to-feed bottles. I throw those in the go bag with a disposable nipple, and bottle prep takes about 9 seconds. You should totally have those for any kind of long trip with a baby. You will thank yourself for it. Promise.

The day before we leave, I run a thousand and one errands. The main errand is to the dollar store to stock up on cheap, new things for the boys to occupy themselves with in the car. The key word here is "new". So then, instead of starting out bored with the toy we throw at them because they've been playing with it for the last several months, now it will take them approximately four minutes to become bored with it. Four minutes can buy a lot when you're desperate. I also buy some bribery ammunition - a giant box of Mike and Ikes.

In anticipation of the nightmare that the drive is going to be, my stress level is high, and the closer we get to the witching hour, otherwise known as the time we leave our driveway, it just keeps climbing. As extra special contributers to my stress level, the night before we leave, I realize that I forgot to drop my little African dwarf frogs off at my brother's house for him to feed (they live in a tiny cubed tank), and sometime during the day, Connor had turned on an interior light in the car without my noticing, and it was left on all day and into the evening. Thankfully, Nate's mom notices that it's on when she leaves our house that night, therefore sparing us the tragedy of a dead car battery in the morning when we're trying to get this show on the road. Now I don't know for sure if the battery would have been drained from a dome light being left on for 22 hours or not, but to say that I don't really want to find out the second we're trying to leave on a major road trip is an understatement. The kid is lucky his Nana discovered the light, that's all I'm going to say....

The night before we leave, after the kids are in bed, Nate and I hang out on the couch and watch some t.v. My mind is going a thousand miles an hour, trying to figure out what all I have forgotten and whether or not I have it in me to handle the nightmare that the next day is going to be. In an effort to dispel some of my tension, I punch Nate several times in his leg (I have a tendency to be overly affectionate) and tell him how "psyched" I am to drive almost 700 miles with our small children. I remind him over and over what a nightmare it's going to be, just in case he's developing any hopes that perhaps the trip might go well. I figure, the lower our expectations are, the better off we'll be. Anything bad that happens, we'll be expecting to have happen, and therefore, it'll just be a drop in the bucket. On the flip side, anything pleasant that happens will be of lottery-winning proportions. 

I'm psyched.

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