October 10, 2010

Road Trip

Hello, dear blogging buddies.  Boy have I missed you!  Actually, I've been home since Monday night, but there has been no time to even think about logging onto my blog.  I was really grateful that I had put up a few posts before I left to keep things moving for my first week home.

Here it is Sunday night, and it is hard to not think of where I was a week ago.  Balmy 90's, boating with friends, enjoying the scenery, the wild life and a private island.  Sigh... a far cry from the crazy pace we've been keeping since we hit the floor running on our return Monday night.  And I mean literally.  Ten minutes home and we undid three weeks of hard earned rest and relaxation.  When we got in, hours later than scheduled Monday night, we dumped our luggage and the kids to catch our class... to which we were an hour late.  After getting groceries we didn't get to bed until after midnight and that has been the routine since.

Painting, gardening, vacuuming up stink bugs, cleaning, washing, switching summer clothes for fall clothes and more... but let's not dwell on that!

The following post, I wrote from the car on the way home Monday.  I never got to publish it, though.  I had trouble get online with the 3G card and never had an opportunity to put it up since we got in.  Let it suffice to say, I am looking forward to catching up with everyone. 

A great big THANKS to all my guest posters, in case I didn't say that already.  Now I leave you with my long rambling road trip post.

Hugs, hugs, and more hugs,


All good things must come to an end. And such is the case with every great vacation. Still, it seems cruel to begin the last day of vacation by dragging ourselves out of bed at 4:30 am to start the journey home. In order to avoid the painful evening parking lot they call rush hour traffic on the DC beltway, we do it anyway.

Which works well. Unless, of course, there happens to be a bad accident in Virginia that backs the traffic up for 7 miles while they bring in helicopters and emergency vehicles.

Then all bets are off.

Fortunately, for me, my good husband offered me the use of his 3G card and laptop so I could spend some time catching up on the guest posts here while I was away. And what fun it was! I will comment on individual posts… if I can ever get the network to connect again, but in the meantime, what fun to have all your great posts to come home to. I am so glad the girls came up with the idea of asking you all to stop by and fill the pages in my absence. We might have to do it again some time real soon

A few of the posts that were scheduled for my time away didn’t publish so you might note a number of posts that seem out of place on October 4th. Better late than never?

Can I mention the shock of getting in the car in Georgia where it was in the 80’s yesterday and then stopping for a break four hours later and stepping out of the car where it is only in the 50’s?   And then arriving at home to 48 degrees and all your winter clothes safely tucked away in the attic?  That is certainly the thing I dread each fall about coming home after being away in the subtropics for a few weeks. Adjusting to the cooler weather.

Once we settle in and get used to it, we always enjoy fall with great delight. What’s not to like?  The colors, the smells, cider, leaves, sweaters, bonfires...

In the old days, when we didn’t go away in the fall, the gradual cooling was always a terrific relief from the summer heat. Doing it all in one fell swoop is a whole other story.

Have you all ever read, “The Vacation” by Polly Horvath? Well, if you haven’t, you must. Our family has loved this story for years. Better than the book, is the audio book read aloud by Kirby Heyborne. If you have not read it, do take the time to do so. You will laugh like crazy. It is a great family read aloud. However, I can’t stress enough that Mr. Heyborne enhances a great story with his delightful job of reading it for the library audio book. We listen to it every year when we go on vacation. Among a boat load of CD’s and other audio books.

We love road trips! Have I ever mentioned that?

People are always asking how we manage an 11 hour drive with 7 kids. But that’s it. We just love them. Car trips. Well, we love the kids, too. But car trips is the topic here. We have such a good time. We sing, listen to books, visit, read and play games. The time really flies by.

Except when you are sitting in an accident and have moved less than two miles in more than an hour and all the kids are napping and all you can think about is that you haven’t seen a Starbucks in three weeks.

So, I am just teasing about that last bit, although, I do seriously miss Starbucks!

I am always shocked by how many (meaning just about everyone I have ever discussed the topic with) parents go into a complete panic at the thought a road trip with their family. I know of families who won’t take vacations because the trip in the car with the children is so painful. People report bickering and arguing and whining and complaining along with numerous stops in an attempt to appease the kids.

That has never been an issue with our family. We have traveled by car North from Maryland to Maine and South from Maryland to Florida.

There are a few things that we have learned over the years that make things go smoothly.

An early start, for instance, is key to a happy family trip. We try to make sure everything is packed and in the car the night before our departure. Everyone tries to go to bed early but somehow there always seems to be some last minute details that need tending and the kids are always too excited to go to sleep. But that works well for us.

Years ago, when we had 3 babies, we devised this method of travel. We rise at 3:30 and ready ourselves for the trip. The car is already packed including a change of clothes for each of the babies. We pick them up out of their beds, buckle them in and drive off before they have a chance to wake. They sleep quite contentedly for at least the first four hours of our trip. At our first stop I dress the babies and brush their hair and teeth while Allen gasses the car.

And speaking of stops, we stop no more often than every four hours at which time everyone has ten minutes to use the facilities and stretch their legs while we gas up the car. That’s how it is so make sure you do what you need to. No one pesters about when we will stop because they know we will stop when we stop. No one whines about being hungry because they know we will eat when it is time to eat. And no one asks for a drink because they know that it could be a while before the next facilities are available.

Now, with older children, stops are handled on the buddy system. Each older child is assigned to help a younger child with the rest room, washing up, brushing teeth and purchasing their meal if it is a food stop. Everyone is expected to be back in the car and buckled up before Pa pays the attendant. We haven’t lost anyone yet!

Another question we often get is how do we entertain the children for so long in the car? We don’t. I don’t entertain my children at home and therefore they don’t expect to be entertained in the car. They visit with each other, read, sing and watch the scenery.

If you don’t like any of those choices, take a nap. The more than two hours we just spent sitting waiting for this accident to be cleared up, was spent singing every hymn we could think of. Some of them were only choruses since we couldn’t remember all the verses. While my voice is much weaker for the effort, my heart is light and full of joy!

“The kids bickering drives us nuts!“ Another sad statement Allen and I often hear from weary parents. Our children are never permitted to bicker at home and thus never bicker in the car. End of story. Ditto for whining, complaining or any sort of unpleasant attitude.  That is never acceptable, so why should it be accepted in the car?

It’s all about training. If you allow them to do it, they will do it, regardless of where you are. Having a happy content family at home or while traveling starts with training in manners and kindness to each other.

Which brings me to another point.  Why are children expected to be polite to others outside of the family and permitted, even expected, to mistreat their siblings and parents?  It breaks my heart to always hear parents explaining away the rude treatment their children use toward them and their siblings as if it is an unavoidable thing and a normal behavior.  While it may be typical, it is not unavoidable or normal at all.  I think the Bible says love your neighbor as yourself?  I thought that meant everyone.  Where does this command exclude family members?

When I was a young mother, I heard it put like this.  The home and the family is a training ground for the behaviors that you desire your family to exhibit outside of the family.   Therefor they should be expected to treat their family as they would treat those you meet at worship, in the grocery store or anywhere else you might find your family in a social setting.  My boys are expected to hold the doors and carry bags for ladies.  This includes the ladies they live with. 

You can apply that to table manners etc... if you want them to sit politely in a restaurant than you must start by expecting them to sit politely and use good manners at the family dinner table. 

So, all that is a little bonus for you all.  The bottom line is this.  Road trips, or anything you do as a family be it work or play, should be a happy and pleasant experience no matter the day of the week or age of your children.  If you find this is not the case, perhaps it is time to examine the training ground in your home. 

Until next time,

1 comment :

  1. Hope, I couldn't have said it better!

    Great post, Kat....as usual!

    Glad to have you back! WE MISSED YOU BUNCHES!