Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

No, no we aren't, but "We're going on a bear hunt," sounds so much cooler than "We're taking a really long car trip."

I have been preparing for this trip for months. We are going to be in the car for many many (many) hours as we drive from Connecticut to Texas. Usually we are flyers. I never worried about flying with babies, toddlers, one kid or two kids (although I have to say that the toddler years were the toughest), and for us the cost usually outweighs the inconvenience of the time it takes to drive somewhere.

But this year we are going several places along our journey, as well as taking our sweet time along the way, so with time not being a big factor, we decided to drive. We will take 2 1/2 days to drive to Terry's grandparents' homes in West Texas and visit with them for a few days, then drive 200 miles or so to meet some friends at a family resort for a few days of R&R (OK-- even a resort vacation with young kids isn't really R&R, but the kids will enjoy it, and we'll enjoy not relaxing with our friends), then driving on to Houston to spend time with my family. We'll be there for 5 days, splitting time between my dad's house and my grandmother's house, and then Terry will fly home to return to work.

Stage two of the journey is just me and the kids. I've never worried about flying alone with the kids, as I've done several times over the years when Terry left early to return to work, but this will be my first extended driving trip with me at the helm. First we'll drive from Houston to Tulsa to visit my sister (and her kids) who moved there last year (with a quick fun stopover visit to my stealth roommate). We'll stay there for 3 nights, and then begin the long x mile trip home, which I'm hoping to make in two very long days. We'll see. If the first day seems long, we'll cut it short and make it a 3-day trip.

MY SURVIVAL KIT (and asking/hoping for suggestions from you):

  1. My laptop. The kids can watch movies or video podcasts from itunes, as well as play computer games.
  2. Books and audiobooks -- of course! I picked up a cassette version of A Wrinkle in Time, read by Madeleine L'Engle, and I can't wait to listen to that. We also have the 4th in the Austin Family Chronicles series (I just reviewed the 2nd--finally--at 5 Minutes for Books HERE), and the Newbery Award winning A Ring of Endless Light. Amanda got a couple of books on CD for herself (she can plug earphones in, and we can still listen to the radio), and we also got some early Beverly Cleary for Kyle.
  3. One of my Facebook friends suggested pipe cleaners, and I think that's a fantastic idea! Quiet and not messy at all.
  4. Another Facebook friend suggested that we google Car Games. I had already thought of coming up with some on my own, but I like the idea of help.
  5. The Scratch and Sketch books might be too messy, but I'm bringing them anyway, because they will also need to be entertained while we are staying with family. However, I'm really looking forward to using the Magnetic Animal Safari Set mentioned in that post. It's really awesome.
  6. Paper, pens, crayons, dot-to-dot -- they're all in my little stash that I've been collecting.
  7. But mostly I'm just praying for patience. Lots of patience and lots of hours of quiet, well-behaved, mild-mannered children (does anyone want to swap out their children who fit that description for my adorable, yet much more energetic and chatty ones?).
It could be fun, right???


Corinne said...

Hi Jen - Wow you are brave. How about playdough? A friend of mine once saw a toddler entertained for hours on an airplane with it. I hate the mess, but if you brought some type of tray -- even a gladware-type container -- it might work. Also see if you can find some type of travel bingo game, where the kids look for different items to fill up their cards and the first one to "bingo" gets a treat.

In addition, lots of prayers. :-)

Carrie said...

WOAH - that's an adventure alright!!! Wow....ok. Will pray for patience. ;D As for ideas....hand held video games? (I bought Joshua a Leapster when I was flying home from Texas and had 7 hours to occupy a 2 year old's time with. Yowee.) Books, lots and lots of movies, songs, bingo.....you have a lot to plan for, that's for sure!

Jenni said...

we used to drive frequently from Texas to Tennessee to visit family in 2 full driving days. I remember my sister and I making crossword and word find puzzles on the computer, as well as taking along books. We also made a game out of reading the maps and calculating gas mileage.

One fun family tradition that continues to this day is playing Trivial Pursuit. We would just take turns reading the questions aloud (which helped us work on enunciation & pronunciation) and learned some stuff along the way. We would be in "teams" - one kid + one parent, though we (the kids) always read the questions. Even now, some 20+ years from the start of that game, we still don't know the answers, even though we use the same cards over and over again (original Genius edition). You could do it with any trivia type game....

Lisa writes... said...


morninglight mama said...

I have no worthy advice to offer-- I HATE riding in the car. HATE IT. I despise the 8 hour drive from here to my parents in CT like you can't imagine. I would rather jab myself in the eye with a very sharp object than ever think about riding in a car for two days.

Yeah, I'm a crab in the car.

Good luck! :)

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I do NOT envy your drive. :) We do the trip from RI to Arkansas/Texas every couple of years. We've flown and driven. Neither is much fun.

I agree with snacks and drinks in a cooler. Much easier (and cheaper) than gas stations.

Also, circle the rest areas on your map. Once you're out of CT that is. No one does rest stops like CT!! :) PA & TN are l.o.n.g. and it helps to stop every couple of hours at a rest stop to stretch your legs. Plus, it never fails that 10 minutes after a rest stop someone needs to "go." :)

Are you sure about 2.5 days to WEST Texas? 2 years ago it took us 2.5 days to get to NW Arkansas (2 hours east of Tulsa). That's with traveling 10-12 hours a day. We made a lot of rest stops but those were only 30-45 minutes long.

Other than that, have fun, eat lots of good TX-Mex & fried catfish, and Sonic Happy Hour in my honor. O! And enjoy the sun!! Seems like we're never going to have sun around here. :)

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Love your list and it sounds like you are very prepared! I'm not quite brave enough for a LOOONG trip w/ L. yet. Four or so hours is my limit for one day, and snacks and a video iPod are usually enough to get him through that. Next summer, maybe we'll try something more adventurous.

Martha said...

Yea! I'll get to see you two years in a row!!! You guys will do great! Everyone will surprise you.