Thursday, July 21, 2011

Calgon . . . or vodka

I pick Vodka . . . preferably in a Bloody Mary.
I’m completely exhausted, but proud to say that we survived 5 days in a minivan with our children and only pulled out 2 movies.
Here’s what I learned from 5 days, 5 states, 5 family members and 3 national parks in a space the size of a closet:
1)      Yes, you have lost your mind when your child hands you a Frisbee, calls it a pizza and you pretend to eat it.         

2)      By day five, you will pull out the “don’t make me pull this car over,” and you will have to make good on it at least once.  I'm sure the park rangers at the Grand Canyon entrance were entertained by the show and particularly of Ego (our middle child) sitting on a rock under a tree for 10 minutes in time out.

Excalibur Buffet - dinner of champions!  Wrapping up the girls' Knighthood Camp Experience
with a dinner fit for Kings and Queens.
3)      Every time you are within 5 miles of your destination, your children are like dogs – they can smell that you’re close and that is their cue to become completely insane.  It’s like the circus invaded our car.  Thank goodness we stopped in Las Vegas for dinner! 

4)      Speaking of Vegas . . . yes, your children will be more intrigued by the Disneyworld effect of the Man-made Excalibur Castle than the extraordinary beauty of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Tragic!
But, at the end of it all, we have gorgeous photos of Arches, Zion and the Grand Canyon and most importantly, priceless memories that will last a lifetime.  I did learn that it is worth the time and effort you put in to come up with entertaining games and projects for your kids.  They spent time talking and laughing with each other rather than being comatose.  Mine and my husband’s nerves are fried, but the memories really are worth it.  Also, I’ll do a little bit of tweaking for the next trip. 
Grand Canyon

It of course wouldn't be a trip without at least one tantrum and mommy couldn't resist capturing this one on film at one of the points on the edge of the Grand Canyon - have you ever tried to control a 4 year old while walking on a cliff face?!  That was an experience.  :) 
Here are the entertaining items that worked, and those that failed miserably:
Great Successes:
Pipe Cleaner Party
1)      Surprise Balls – especially the one with the Pipe Cleaner Party and glow sticks.  The children always looked forward to the surprise balls and they are still asking me when they can have the rest of them.  Those with activities rather than just prizes work best. 
2)      Sticker coloring books – but make sure you have one for EACH child.  I thought I'd be clever and buy different ones for each kid.  Not a good idea.
3)      Coloring pages – definitely needed a lot more of those
4)      Telling the kids they couldn’t have a movie until an hour into the drive – they usually got so distracted they didn’t remember that you said they could have a movie.
5)      States and capitals game – we probably played that for a good hour.  Shamefully mommy and daddy only got about 1/3 correct.
6)      License plate game.  The kids had a great time trying to find them.  However, Daddy did have to help a little because they couldn’t see them as well.
Miserable Failures:
1)      Mazes – even though they could be colored in, they were not that interesting and the kids finished them in 2.5 seconds.
2)      Grab Bag – I bought a bunch of toys for the kids, but I found out that toys just aren’t going to cut it.  You have to have things that will entertain them for a few hours.
3)      Reward tickets – got this idea off  The kids were supposed to turn these in for treats at our stops.  Problem was, most of the time they lost the tickets or they tried to turn them in at places where the only cheap thing they could get had A LOT of sugar.
4)      Trip tickets – see #3 above.  The kids were supposed to turn these in every 50 to 100 miles.  Again, they lost them before they could turn them in.  They also didn’t really ask “are we there yet” all that often.
5)      Boxes with all their provisions (i.e. crayons, markers, scissors, tape, glue).  They kept dumping them all over the car and then they lost all those provisions and for the next 100 miles we heard "where's the tape", "where are my scissors".
Trash cans – this was only effective with the oldest.  The other two couldn’t find theirs most of the time.

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