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Disaster Preparedness

March 15, 2013

In keeping with my decision this winter to be a snow-bird, the children and I are preparing to spend another three weeks in Birmingham.  We leave tomorrow.  Nini thought we were leaving today.  When I told her she had the wrong day, she was so disappointed she took to her bed with a cool cloth for her head.  I cannot understand it.  Her castle is about to be stormed and she would willingly hasten the onslaught by 24 hours? True love.

We have outgrown Nini’s car by one child (although I have been known to buckle two skinny hineys into one carseat), and we have decided to drive down so that we will have our van for the three week stay.  Dan is driving down with us, flying back up to work, and then flying back to spend spring break and drive us home. We are leaving Saturday morning at six a.m. and hoping to make it in sixteen hours. I am consumed with preparations.  I work on it all day every day.  It has gotten out of hand.  Judging by the piles in our bedroom,  I am ready either for a long car trip or Y2K.  Remember Y2K?

Some people, people who are not scared of their children in the back, take long road trips regularly.  Wendy McCollum, has several times made the drive with her five boys by herself.  Granted, her boys are very docile, but still.  When questioned, she responded vaguely, “They colored some.”  The Hoffners (seasoned road trippers) are meeting us on the other end for a spring break week at the beach.  And Sarah is not worried about the drive.  Nor is she amassing provisions for the journey.  She reports (mysteriously) that the children “just ride”.  What is their secret?

As usual, Dan has not succumbed to my panic (although I have tried my best to instill a sense of urgency).  I was highly distressed Monday night that he was headed to a basketball game instead of packing.  I reminded him that he has a “to do” list (composed by yours truly).  We consulted his list.  It consisted of two items: 1. Ipod. and  2. Batteries for Leapster Games.  He doesn’t think it is going to take five nights to get the batteries.  I said, “It’s best to allow extra time.”  He went to the game.

Last week I emailed some friends (and by mistake some professional contacts) to ask advice about the road trip.  Molly Piper (another experienced road tripper) offered a collection of DVD’s. Like me, she birthed a number of children in quick succession.  She is  duly alarmed about our situation.  A number of my professional contacts were also appropriately concerned.  I’m glad somebody is.

Molly’s parting words this morning when I stopped by to get the DVD’s were: “When you stop for gas, make everyone run laps. And, remember,  the DVD player is your fire extinguisher.  Don’t bring it out unless you reach a state of “break-glass” emergency.”  We embraced and she waved me off crying out, “I’ll pray for you!”

I believe that the only way we are going to make it is to go straight through without stopping.  I am inspired by the example of that murderous NASA astronaut who made headlines a couple of years ago when she drove across the country wearing an adult diaper, intent on murdering her boyfriend’s “other woman”.  She was apprehended before carrying out her planned attack. If only she hadn’t put that diaper on, we never would’ve heard her name.  The children will have to “go” in a diaper.  I doubt Dan will consent to wearing an adult diaper, so I am bringing an optional Baby Bjorn potty.

In high school my dad, observing me worrying in advance about next year’s courses,  said I always panic early and avoid the rush.  I believe I am instilling this virtue in the children.  In the time it took to compose this post, the little peppers filled 18 zip-lock bags with water. “For the van,” Charlie explained, “In case we need water on the way to Birmingham.”

Below: Bags packed and ready to go.  If you have road-trip advice, or just want to wish us luck, leave a comment!  And should natural disaster befall our nation, you are welcome to live with us in our van.  We have enough chips for several weeks.


bball and travel 088bball and travel 080

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2013 7:29 am

    Lucy, be sure to ask Uncle Harold if you can borrow his van-potty for the trip back.

  2. March 15, 2013 8:13 am

    Lucy, the trip will go just fine! It should be a fun adventure for all, and will make future trips to Amery seem so very short 🙂 We once drove to the Mountains, when Dan was Annie’s age, in an orange VW mini bus with the back seats out and a large padded play area for all (B4 mandatory restraint laws). My memories are vague—I think there was a bit of chaos. Traveling mercies!

    • March 15, 2013 8:49 am

      Mary, Dan tells me he remembers faking a terrible head injury on one of those trips!

  3. Christa permalink
    March 15, 2013 8:25 am

    Being an organized, preemptive strike kind of mom, I like to keep a routine in the car especially when they were young. Now they don’t need a routine as much – as long as I’ve got snacks they’re happy. But we used to follow a cycle of dvd, coloring, snack, music or audio book, hand held game, then lunch and repeat til we’ve arrived of they’re asleep.

    Personal favorites are fruit loop necklaces, bubbles and duct tape crafting 🙂

    You are going to have a great adventure! Memories in the making!

  4. March 15, 2013 8:27 am


  5. Beth Saav permalink
    March 15, 2013 8:31 am

    We’re big fans of audio books (and children’s music). Good luck!

  6. March 15, 2013 9:18 am

    I feel so honored to be mentioned in you post! We will be following behind you in a week or so. Audio books are our best friend. The youngest children are within reach so I can I pick up things they drop. They each have their own backpack filled with snacks. When we first began our long drives I’d let them pick a snack each hour, but that resulted in an onslaught of, “When is the timer going to ring?” So I scraped that plan and now let them eat what they want whenever with the stipulation that when their snacks are gone they are gone even if the trip is not over. They have never run out and there is much delighted conversation over what to eat next. I also used to have the rule that if they treated their brother unkindly they had to make it up by giving him one of their snacks, though I haven’t had to implement that in a long while. We do break the drive up and stop ideally every 3-4 hours for gas and bathroom and stretching. Gabriel has a pencil roll attached to the seat in front of him to color without dropping his pencils which has been helpful.

    Good luck and happy travels! Perhaps we will see you in the sunny south.

  7. March 15, 2013 9:30 am

    Definitely audio books! LONG ones over 2 hours like Paddington, Pooh, Children of Noisy Village, Jesus Storybook Bible. We also love Jim Weiss.

    Also, bring several rolls of aluminum foil. When the kids need something to do, hand them big pieces of it (as long as they won’t eat it…) and watch the magic.

  8. Claire permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:10 pm

    My memory of road trips was Matts chocolate chip cookies (the only time we were ever allowed store bought cookies) and counting things. I think Charlie’s probably a counter, so make sure he can see through the window: count trees in Illinois (there aren’t very many), count hawks by the side of the road (I once, at the age of 25, counted 106 hawks in Arkansas alone), and count flowers as you get closer to your goal.
    As your mom says about my wedding – it’ll either be great or be a great story!

  9. therigneys permalink
    March 15, 2013 1:48 pm

    Unconscious, Lucy. You must drive the bulk of the trip when they are in deep REM. Trust me. I’d never lie to you. We learned the hard way. 😉

    I forgot to tell you this in my e-mail, but we have a lot of Seuss audio books if you want to borrow them. Or did you already get a ton at the library?

  10. Mandy permalink
    March 15, 2013 3:46 pm

    I’m with Jenny. Do as much of the drive as possible while they are asleep. If insomnia strikes tonight, don’t hesitate to hop in the car and get going!

    We are also huge fans of audio books (dramatized ones or Jim Weiss).

    When I have time, I wrap up a few dollar spot purchases or snacks or forgotten toys to hand out at opportune times (even fruit snacks are exciting if they are wrapped).

    We let our kids pick out their own snacks at the grocery store and they also get to pack their own backpack filled with their favorite things (within reason, of course). We have also been known to bribe our children with the promise of treats at the next gas station.

    We have used Haley’s aluminum foil idea and it is a blast.

    Now that the boys can track numbers, we have contests to see how many miles we can go without stopping!

    And, the most important part of prepping for long drives for me (& for the whole family really) is to prepare myself. Because let’s be honest, the old saying is true: when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

  11. Teresa permalink
    March 16, 2013 10:11 am

    I agree w/ the Rigneys–go overnight! Totally worth arriving tired to have the kids unconscious half the trip. Bring paper lunch bags to put the kids snacks in, and let them color them beforehand. Bring extras so they can make puppets with them. Bring clipboards so that the kids have something hard to color on. Buy and bring LOTS of those glow sticks that you can turn into bracelets/necklaces. Make sure your kids don’t bite them–I have to watch one of my kids closely with these.
    Melissa and Doug travel bingo is great. I find in general the more toys we bring, the quicker my kids lose interest in each toy. But bubbles and balloons and suckers have unlimited appeal, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. 🙂 Have fun! It really can be fun to have a family road trip–as long as you accept that at this point in life, the adult NOT driving has the much tougher job. The more we do it, the better it gets (despite having more and more children).

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