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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Last Thursday, some new friends of ours from church
invited us to join them for the day on their 52' boat.
Papa had to work, but I took the 5 young ones, Ben, Carissa,
and Adopted Big Kid Kati. What a FUN day we had!!!
We cruised out toward the San Juan Islands
for a couple of hours.
The boat was a great place for Elijah to recuperate
from his surgery, as there was no place to run
(which he can't do for a month).
It is soooo... good to have Carissa home from Argentina.
Here, she and Ben are being silly.
Carissa, Ben, Kati, Hosanna, and Josiah
enjoying the sunshine.
After cruising for about 2.5 hours,
we arrived at a little island.
The whole island is a state park.
Ben took Sarah, Josiah, and Elijah with him
on the first group to head in to the island,
as the big boat was on the buoy.
Mama kind of forgot about Elijah's surgery recoup,
and didn't remind Ben to be careful.
(I think, though, we would have had different
definitions of what "be careful" means.)
They were long gone by the time I got to the island,
and I didn't see them for a couple of hours,
as they explored the island.
When I asked Elijah later if they had been careful
with his leg, he assured me that,
"Ben helped me down the cliffs."
I don't think I want to know the things
they did and the places they went,
with Elijah just 1 week post-surgery.
Since the other kids were long gone by the time
we reached the island, Rachel got to spend the day
with Mama and our friends. It was actually a very
good "natural consequence", as the day before we
had had some serious RAD issues.
Rachel played quietly on the beach,
hauling logs and "building" things.
After a couple of hours on the island, we rounded up the kids
(which was a bit difficult, as Kati, Carissa, and Hosanna had
gone a bit far on their beach /rock climbing adventure) and
made our way back to the boat on the buoy.
Heading back to the harbor,
all of the young ones got to drive the boat.
Here is Rachel, at the helm.
We cruised through Bellingham Bay, cleaned up the boat,
and headed back to our house for a BBQ. Since Jim had had
to work all day, but wanted to spend time with our new friends,
we decided that extending our day with dinner was a good idea.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day with our new friends.
It is so fun to have Kati home from TX for a few months,
and awesome for Kati & Carissa to have time together again.
(They are 22, and have been friends since Middle School.)
We all enjoyed the boat ride ... the sunshine ... the sandy beach ...
and the fellowship of family and friends. Thank you, Jesus!!!
Mama is not on another Road Trip
(although I wish we were).
I am dreaming about another Road Trip,
but must wait until we get our
Adoption Tax Credit in order to plan one
(and what a headache that has become).
Last week, I had to opportunity to meet one of my Sweet Bloggy Friends, Sheri. We each drove about 75 miles to meet halfway for lunch. Now, for some of you, that may be a "Road Trip"; but for Mama that is just a "drive down the street". When Mama is talking about going on a Road Trip, Mama is talking about driving thousands of miles.
Anyway, Sheri and I each had our own little list of things we wanted to talk about. And, it appears, my list won. After a 3 hour lunch, Sheri got home and remembered that she had somehow forgotten to ask me about our Road Trips. (That is because I was too busy asking her about her family, their upcoming move to OR, and their first year of using the Robinson Curriculum for homeschooling. Sorry, Sheri!)
I asked Sheri to write out a list of questions that she had for me about our Road Trips, and that I would answer them in a blog post. I thought that some of you might also be interested in finding out about our crazy Road Trippin' Days, too. (If you are new to the blog, you may not know that we have traveled to 41 of the U.S. States in the past 6 years, in 4 separate cross country trips; and 2 of the trips I took with the kids, without Papa.)
1. When did you start doing road trips?
When our Big Kids were very young, we started Road Trippin'. We had relatives in Southern California that we liked to visit almost annually, which meant a 2500 mile drive round trip. Actually, we would have liked to visit them a couple of times per year, but didn't want to wear out our welcome.
I remember one trip that we took when we had 5 kids under 6 (and I was expecting #6). We drove 800 miles (to Oakland, CA) on Friday ... attended my brother's college graduation on Saturday ... and drove 800 miles home on Sunday. Yes. We did. That's what we do for family.
A few months later, we were planning the 1200 mile drive to visit my aunt for a week, when Jim got a new job and couldn't go. I asked a new friend (a single gal, who had never even met the children) if she wanted to join me. We loaded up the van and headed out for an adventure.
2. How young were your children when this adventure began?
As I said in the last answer, our older children were very young when we started taking Road Trips. So, most of our kids probably went on a major road trip before they were 6 or 8 months old.
Because of finances, though, we didn't do our first cross country Road Trip until 2004. We had dreamed of it, and talked about it, for MANY years. When I founded a school for homeschoolers in 2004, we realized we finally had the funds to turn our dream into reality. After the trip, though, we realized that we could have actually done cross country road trips earlier, because it cost us a LOT less than we thought it would. See THIS POST for Road Trip Budget details.
For our first cross country road trip, in 2004, we drove 8,000 miles, visiting 22 states, in 3 weeks. Our kids were 2, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 15, 17, 18. Gregg (20) couldn't join us because he was already serving in the army.
Our 2nd trip was in 2006. We took 8 of the kids (ages 4 - 17) and drove 8,500 miles, visiting 27 states, in 5 weeks.
Our 3rd trip was in 2009. I took 7 of the kids (Papa couldn't come) and drove 7,000 miles, through 12 states, in 5 weeks.
Our last trip was in 2010. I took 6 of the kids (Papa joined us for the first 2 weeks) and drove 9,000 miles, through 17 states, in 6 weeks. We visited 9 National Parks and Memorials on this trip, and the kids did the Junior Ranger Program at each of them. This was a wonderful educational experience. We all learned a LOT.
3. How long do you travel at one stretch? and how do you get the kids to adapt to the journey?
We don't allow our kids to ask, "Are we there yet?". Seriously.
We learned very quickly that sometimes the "I need to go potty." is just a ploy to stop the van and get out and run around, hopefully at a gas station where we can beg for candy. So, when a young child (maybe under 10?) says, "I need to go pee." I offer to pull off to the side of the road (assuming we are not in the middle of a city). I only have 1 child who will joyfully jump out and take care of business (which shows that he really does need to go). The other children have seriously trained their bodies to "hold it" a bit longer than most kids do.
When we took our weekend trip to Oakland, CA with the 5 young ones, on the way home we stopped for dinner in Portland, OR and realized that we had driven over 600 miles without any of us needing to take a bathroom break. (Mama did change the twins diapers at the gas stops, but we never got out of the van.)
How long do we usually travel at a stretch? We probably take a break every 3 or 4 hours, depending on how the kids (and the driver) are doing. On the other hand, we have often driven 5 or 6 hours without anyone needing a break.
As for fidgeting ... our kids lives are not used to being entertained, so they have learned to entertain themselves and each other. We haven't watched t.v. in 20 years; we watch limited movies; and our kids don't play video games. So, the same is true on car trips. We don't have a dvd player in the car; and our kids don't have handheld video games. We limit the use of iPods, because we want the teens interacting with the family. But, we do play their iPods through the stereo system, so we parents are open to listening to "their" music.
So, what do we DO while driving 600-800 miles in a day??? We talk. We listen to all types of music. We talk. We play games. (We have a LOT of the great travel games that are now on the market: Scrabble, Yahtzee, etc...) We play "car games" ... word games that we have played for 20+ years with the kids. We talk. We draw pictures and color in coloring books. The little ones have toys to play with. (On our first cross country road trip, we pulled into a T*rget after our first day of travel and bought more toys for the 2 little guys. We stocked up on Rescue Heroes.)
On our last couple of cross country Road Trips I have purchased "school" workbooks so we are learning about the different states we are visiting, etc... The teens have also learned a LOT about map reading, and helping to plan the trip. (We don't have a GPS or a "smart" phone, so we stick with our trusty old maps and our AAA guidebooks.)
4. How does your husband feel about you traveling "alone" w/ the kids?
He might think I'm a little crazy to drive
on a highway like this. It was kind of a tight squeeze
to get the van and trailer through the tunnel.
While Papa would LOVE to be traveling WITH us, his work schedule doesn't always allow. We talk throughout the day on the phone, and he keeps up with our plans of where we are supposed to be each day. He trusts me ... and trusts our teens ... and knows that we can "take care of ourselves". He also stays involved with any necessary discipline issues (because my kids are NOT perfect) ... sometimes even skyping with us in the evenings, so he can speak with the offender face-to-face.
I actually took my first "alone" road trip in 1988. I took Gregg (just turned 4) with me, and with 12 hours notice headed out for a 5,000 mile drive to TX and back for my Grandma's funeral service. Because ... that's what I do for family. I went back and forth about whether to go all alone, or whether to take Gregg. But, he was already a seasoned traveler and I thought it would be fun to have him along to talk to. (I left Cassie (2) and Jeremiah (1) home with Papa and babysitters.) I never regretted the decision to take my 4 year old with me. We had a great trip!
5. How do you calculate the cost before going?