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Car Trip

Many of you know that our recent trip to
Colorado was our first family car trip, and I was a bit nervous
about it, to say the least. I’m a pretty good packer, having
spent much of my adulthood traveling from city to city, so the
vacation portion didn’t worry me too much. But being ready
for the fourteen hours in the car – that was another story.

I did my research. I road-tested stuff. I polled other moms. And I
finally compiled several lines of defense to stave off boredom and
squabbles during our enforced family intimacy time.

And, I must confess, had a little freak out.

But time moves forward, and the day of our
road trip arrived.

We’d planned to be on the road at 4 a.m. Our thinking was
that we’d get a few hours of driving in while the girls went
back to sleep, then stop for breakfast around 7:30. The girls would
travel in their pjs, and they braided their hair the night before
so they’d be comfortable in the car.

All went as planned until 3:55 a.m., when Brian went to unhook his
iPod right before grabbing the girls from their beds. He’d
set it to synch up all night, making sure he had all the audio
books and Disney songs on it from our external hard drive. Well,
apparently something happened, because instead of updating his
iPod, it wiped it completely empty. Brian panicked, and after some
hissed whispering, we decided to bring our entire external hard
drive with us, synch it up in Colorado, and grab some old-fashioned
cds to listen to in the car.

So we finally got on the road at 4:30, which still isn’t bad.
The girls settled back to sleep, and I dozed in the front while
Brian drove. I thought we were home free until right before 6 a.m.
Cora screamed, “Look! A train just like the one Daddy rides
to work!”

And everyone was awake.

But all in all, the car trip was awesome. The girls didn’t
squabble, they both used the restroom at every stop – more on
that later – and weren’t too awful about begging for
sugar. The biggest hit was the map I’d laminated showing our
driving route; every hour or so Maddie would fill in the distance
we’d covered with another sticker, and she found it extremely

We only watched one movie, with headphones for the girls, which
they thought was enormously cool. I loved watching them motionless
and silent, glued to the screen, until something funny would happen
and Maddie would yell to Cora, “DID YOU SEE THAT?
WASN’T THAT FUNNY????” And they’d laugh for a
moment before going back to being zombies.

I packed a tub of snacks for them, with two identical sets of
single-serving snacks. I’d loosened up on my junk food
restrictions a bit, and the bags were filled with goodies like
animal crackers or store-bought granola bars. Each bag held only
one of each type of snack, and the girls would agonize over whether
or not to eat the one bag of animal crackers now, or save them for
later. Once they discovered which tub on the floor was the snack
tub, they began eyeing it with increased regularity.

But at the risk of sounding naively utopian, it was a pretty darn
fun car trip. There were a few short naps here and there and the
one movie, but we really did spend a decent amount of time talking
to each other. We played hide and seek – I’d count to
ten, and the girls had to think of a place in our house to hide in
their imagination. Then I’d ask them questions –
“Is it on the first floor? Are you in a bedroom? Are you in
your bedroom?” until I finally “found” each one.
That was a big hit. And we made up stories about each other,
listened to a couple books on tape, and had a great time. The trip
ended, and I wasn’t sick of my kids.

Cross-country? Bring it on.


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