Friday, August 7, 2009

Road Trip!

The reason for no post yesterday? I was on the road, four boys in tow.

While I was looking forward to our destination (a scenic town by the Mississippi River), I was not looking forward to the trip. Just one day before departure, I loaded all four boys in the van for a routine, half-hour drive to the orthodontist and Walmart. (I know -- I lead a completely glamourous life, don't I?) It. Was. A. Disaster!

Boy #1 argued with Boy #3 who picked on Boy #2 who tried to make things better for Boy #4 but instead made him shriek. By the time we got there, I wanted to strangle all four of them. The trip home was no better.

So it's safe to say that I loaded the sleeping bags and snacks in the van with a little trepidation. After all, this was to be the longest trip I'd ever taken, solo, with the boys. Usually, I'm the Mom/Activity Director in the passenger seat. This trip, I was Mom/Activity Director/Driver.

My plan? Snacks and diversions. I let each boy pick out a special snack at Walmart: Doritos for Boy #1, sandwich cookies for Boy #2, Swiss Cake Rolls for Boy #3 and Goldfish crackers for Boy #4. For me, Twizzlers.

Then I sent Boy #1 to the library for some audiobooks. On previous family vacations, I'd managed to entertain the family for hours at a time by reading Harry Potter aloud. This time, I wouldn't be able to read aloud -- but I reasoned someone else could.

I should note here that our 1999 mini-van is electronics-deprived. No DVD player, no CD player and a cassette player that broke years ago. Not that I'd have it any other way. Strapping kids in and hitting play somehow doesn't seem quite right. Well, except for the audiobooks. Son #1 duct-taped some batteries into an old boom box and loaded it into the van.

Each boy also got to pack his own backpack: a change of clothes and whatever he wanted to keep busy. Boy #1 packed a bevy of WWI books, #3 brought books to look at, #2 had his baseball card collection and I threw in a magnetic face making kit and some machine books for Boy #4. (The face making kit ended up being a hit with all the boys.)

I'm here to say that my plan worked! We listened to Holes half of the way there, then stopped for lunch at Pizza Hut. The boys ran off some steam (read: tossed berries at each other and climbed a tree) while I made phone calls and scheduled a couple of work interviews. After a great lunch -- and a fun time spelling names forward and back, thanks to Holes -- we loaded back in the van, cued up Aliens Ate My Homework and drove the rest of the way to our destination, incident free.

My sanity, I'm pleased to report, is still intact.

How do you survive road trips?


  1. Sounds like you have it all figured out. Clever mom, you are. I'm happy to hear they like books instead of electronic games. How did the work interviews go? Who watched them for you?

  2. Don't get me wrong -- they like video games and electronic diversions just fine! They just aren't "fortunate" enough to have handheld devices they can carry everywhere.

    The little bit of work I did was actually just calling to schedule interviews. So while the boys tossed berries at each other, I sat in the van and made my phone calls.

  3. Sounds like a successful strategy.

    Believe it or not. We don't really have much trouble on long trips. The kids are usually well-behaved. We usually do bring some kind of snacks.

    On our January trip to the Dells, we loaded a bunch of podcasts on the history of ancient Rome. Otherwise, it's pretty much public radio...exciting huh?