Thursday, August 18, 2011

First family road trip

Mike and I decided last year that we were going to plan a trip to Denver, Colorado in 2011. The part of the trip planning that held us up was how we were going to get there. I wanted to fly. Mike wanted to drive. And neither one of us had much interest in what the other wanted to do. After several discussions, and a couple of standoffs, I finally gave in. Please....hold the applause. I was still really negative (hopeful....but negative) about the whole "road trip" idea. But Mike made some valid points to why this could be the "vacation full of great memories". I was certain that he was going to regret choosing to spend five, long days in a car with two small children, but I agreed to the proposed plan of traveling in the minivan.
Once we made the decision to drive, I embraced the idea and set out to make the long trip as successful as possible. Tons of snacks. All the Gatorade that a kid could want. Two bags of Ella's favorite toys. Gifts for Jaycoby to open at every pitstop (worked like a charm, by the way- thank you Target $1 spot). Portable dvd player with twenty different videos to watch. And, we waited to turn Ella's car seat around until the morning of the trip, so that she could have something new to do as well- plenty of new things to look at when you are forward-facing in the car for the first time.

Some memories from this road trip:
-Turns out, Ella liked her car seat facing forward a little too much. She was so excited that she could see both of us and was really happy about it.....for the first ten minutes. Then she decided that if she could see us, that we should be playing with her, or holding her, so she began to fuss. Every time it would get to the point that we would say "at the next exit, we are going to turn the car seat back around" she would settle down. Then, five minutes after passing the exit, she would begin to fuss again. It was a fun game...for her. But after the first day, she figured it out and she did a lot better on our way home. We made sure to do a lot of stops, so that helped a lot as well.

-"The chocolate milk incident". We made a pitstop at Starbucks on our way back to Oregon and Mike got Jaycoby a chocolate milk. Let's just ignore the fact that I tell Jaycoby that he can't have certain foods, or drinks (uhem, chocolate milk), in the car "because Mike said it is the rule". That is neither here nor there. So we head out on the road. I glanced back and saw that Jaycoby was carefully sipping his chocolate milk and holding it with two hands, because he KNOWS the rule. He knows that mommy is a nervous-wreck, because we do NOT have chocolate milk in the new car. Ever. I reminded him that he needed to be extra careful and he said "okay mom". Not two minutes later, I turn around and see the chocolate milk cup turned upside down and Jaycoby is playing a video game. I think to myself "there is no way he drank it that fast". I told him to pick up his cup and he says "oh no". This is when the steam starting coming out of my ears and nose. I quickly climbed into the back seat, while we are driving, and discovered that the whole cup had poured out under the seat. THANKFULLY, the majority poured into some cupholders and the damage was minimal. But I was fuming. I was so mad that I was being quiet. Very, VERY quiet. Jaycoby was trembling and just kept saying "I'm so sorry. Am I in trouble? I'm so sorry. Am I going to get a spanking?". I couldn't even answer him. I was beyond ticked off. So then Jaycoby puts his hands in his lap, starts crying and says "I'm just going to put myself in time out". By this time, Mike had found a spot to pull over and we were attempting to clean up the mess. Jaycoby had been moved to the driver's seat (still in time out) and by the end of the clean up we were laughing. I don't think I would have been able to recover so quickly if all of that milk had gotten on the carpet, but if the milk was going to spill, it couldn't have happened in a better spot. Jaycoby knows his bottom was spared that day. If we mention "chocolate milk" he says "I don't want to talk about it".

Obviously, this picture was taken before "the spill".

-Ella learned how to drink out of a straw while we were on our trip.

-One of our favorite channels on tv is the Food Network and one of our favorite shows is Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. We were able to stop at two of the restaurants that have been featured on that show while we were on our trip. It was just another fun element to add to the drive.

Waddell's- Spokane, WA

Bar Gernika- Boise, ID

-I got to clean a diaper-changing station at a rest-stop. Ella decided to pee while I was changing her diaper (she has done this since birth) and completely filled the whole thing. I stood her up, to get her out of the mess, and she kept going, and going, and going. I cleaned up what I could and then took her out to the car in just her diaper. Then I had to go back into the restroom, with my Kirkland disinfectant wipes (how did I know I was going to need those?), and wiped down the whole station. I will never look at those stations the same. As if we don't think they are gross enough. Now I know how gross those things can really be and I'm sure not everyone is as worried about the next occupant as I was. Bleh!

-We did several pitstops at the park. These were usually no longer than twenty minutes, but it worked great for getting the wiggles out.

This last picture shows how hot it was when we were outside. It was really hot on those stops!

-We tried to find pretty places to stop and eat. Here is a picture we took in Hood River, when we stopped for lunch at Taco Del Mar.

At this restaurant, we were sitting next to a mother and her two girls. All of the sudden, one of her daughters said "ew mommy, there is a bug on my shoe". I glance under the table at the same time as the mom and we both saw this huge, beetle sitting on her daughters sandal. It was so gross! Just a random, funny memory.

-We stayed at a few hotels on this trip, but we never got too settled. We drove late into the night mostly and the kids would be asleep in the car when we arrived. Jaycoby was so excited to be able to stay in hotels, because he knew they had pools, but it never worked out for us to take him swimming. He did so great and never asked about it or complained once. The picture below is of Jaycoby trying to teach Ella how to crawl in our hotel room.

While we were on the road, I had lots of time to read. I stumbled on to a new blog and read a post on Traveling with Kids. I just wanted to share a snipit that I really liked and found to be completely true after this experience (I've changed some parts to include our memories):

There have certainly been times when the effort, energy and expense have seemed greater than the returns. However through the highs and despite the lows, I have become convinced of the importance of traveling with our children. There is a special bond that forms through experiencing new sights and places together. Lacking the familiar comforts and schedule of home, we unite to create a new rhythm. Family closeness is fostered. When else, but on a five-day car ride do my children have my undivided attention for 13 hours at a time? Often parents think travelling is about children making memories, but I am so very thankful for my memories. I am able to remember the age and stage of my children by thinking back on vacations. Those memories stand out vibrantly against the landscape of everyday life. I will forever remember what Ella was like at 13 months and Jaycoby at 5½ by thinking back over our trip to Colorado. And while Ella may not have memories of her 1-year old self in Denver, I will never forget the special bond that she formed with her great-grandmother in such a short amount of time together. My children are helping to shape me on this journey from unfettered traveler to mother of two who desires to show them the world.

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