Sunday, September 6, 2009

Packing up and Heading Out

"If you are going on vacation, give yourself a day to prepare." Advice from a genuinely concerned author, mother of one or two, on how to eliminate stress from a mother's life.

Except that I have five children and I have been "preparing", not packing, mind you, that will take 30 seconds, but just preparing, for two days now, and we leave tomorrow. Somewhere along the line, my husband got the notion that the Apostle Island National Park in the very north of Wisconsin, on Lake Superior, would be the perfect vacation destination. It has been a year or two since that time. And here we go, a ten-hour drive, north, when all reasonable people, birds and animals are heading south for the winter, planning cruises to the Bahamas, jaunts to Hawaii or Florida...we're going north. (Just between us, I LIKE north, but the rest of them want to swim for a week solid, we'll see.)

For weeks now, we've been researching the area, found out there are bears galore, some wolves and wild cats too, waves of up to seventy feet...finally got over all the anxiety and nightmares of little people worried about lions and waves and bears. Recently, we've been reading reviews of campgrounds and randomly calling people in the Bayfield phonebook for their opinion on the local campgrounds.

Ten hours in the car. The possibilities are endless; road alphabet games, story-telling, knitting, books on tape, screaming toddlers...the last time we took a road trip with a two-year old, all of the great books on tape were yanked out of the CD player in a hurry each time he woke up and demanded; "hai-ye had a pah-ty," or "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," by Trout Fishing in America. Would you like me to recite the lyrics? Because I can. Along with "All I want is a Proper Cup of Coffee," the only two songs on the CD he wanted to hear. This time, I have a plan. I offered the three youngest their very own CD walkman. (I can hear my media-free friends right now, my only defense; it's not a DVD player, lol!)They can listen to, from youngest to oldest; "High School Musical 2," "Katie Kazoo," and "Geronimo Stilton," ('cause I heard that story 3379 times last year stuck in traffic around Chicago.) WE can listen to "The Mysterious Benedict Society" and "Gregor the Overlander," and if the older two decide to listen to their play-aways, the remaining adults can pop in "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families," or U-2 or Natalie Merchant or...have a conversation.

Problem number one; finding the walkmans (do we say "walkmen"?) I thought it would be simple; one store would surely do the trick, wouldn't it? Well, the first store was too expensive, so I declined to buy three of the four sets they had, I would find a better deal. Ah, how many hours of our lives do we lose out searching for the better deal?

I tried the next store on my list; cheaper, but zero left in stock. I started to get an icky twinge in my gut. I really hate to shop, unless it's for shoes when I have a real budget. I go home and look up stores online, find a great deal and send hubby, since he is going out to find one of those cool tuner thingy's to connect his ipod to the car stereo. He comes home empty-handed. I call around, no luck, go back to store number one; one left. Who the heck bought three walkmen since yesterday? The nerve! I go pick up the pizzas for dinner, a compromise in our busy day. On the way, I stop by one of the drug stores I had called and who had one left in stock. Victory, there are TWO, in TWO different colors!!! (And at this point, who cares that they were two dollars more than the original three I passed up.)

In the mean time, I have made purchases only camping would permit; I'll spare you the list, but it meant, for convenience sake, my annual pilgrimage to a really big store I never like to set foot in.

We drop the bird off at the boarder's, make arrangements for the plants and the rat and the mail, clean the whole house, rearrange the furniture in one bedroom. Drug store again for what we forgot at the big store. Oh, and go to the library three times to make sure we've returned everything, checked out the audio and paper books we'll want and a third time to sign up for the electronic book system, a very cool option.

Now to squeeze that mountain in the living room into our mini-van...happy vacation to us! We'll be off the grid for a week, no computers are along for the trip, cell-phone batteries will be out by the time we don't call us, we'll call you.


  1. Oh my gosh, I am laughing so hard! lolololololol!!!

    You all have fun. You deserve it. :)


    Hello...just wanted to pass this link along :-) There is also a UU hsing group on yahoo.


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