Thirteen Hour Car Trips Will Almost Always Lead to Drinking

Our vacation this summer is going to be spent at my mom and dad’s house in Somers Point, New Jersey.  They live in a marina in a not totally kid-friendly house that is close to the beach.  It is an all-around awesome place, except for the lack of kid-friendliness and the fact that they only have three bedrooms and not enough beds to house the seven people in our family without blowing up some extra sleeping arrangements.  Fortunately, for space reasons, my parents are in Mexico for the first two weeks of our visit.  For the last few days of our trip, we will all cram into the house, go to the beach, celebrate the 4th, eat and drink together and basically remind one another why it is good for children move out of their parents’ house when they grow up and have families of their own.

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On Wednesday morning at 1 a.m. Kid E wandered into my bedroom and climbed into my bed.  About an hour later he informed me that I could take him back to his bed because he was no longer comfortable.  About an hour after that my alarm went off, signifying the incredibly early start of our very long travel day.

“Let’s get this party started,” I mumbled, 98% sarcastic, as I dragged myself out of the warm bed and put on my clothes and pulled my hair up into a ponytail.

By 3:45 a.m. I was easing out of my Georgia driveway with Kids A – E fully seat belted inside, an insane amount of beach gear zipped into a gigantic Thule bag on the roof, and too many bikes racked onto the back.  I may have looked like Jed Clampett, but I felt like The Bandit, (North) East bound and down, hopeful that I could avoid the Smokeys as I hauled ass along the I-85 and I-95 corridors.

As far as long car trips go, this one was really good.  We stopped just north of NASCAR’s Mecca (Charlotte) for some breakfast, but that was our only break other than one pit stop for gas (the kind that makes the car run) and one “I have to poop right now!” false alarm from Kid E when we were just 60 miles from our destination.  So, it was really two gas pit stops (LOL: fart joke).  The traffic was fairly light, road construction was minimal, and the Po-Po must have had a Beef and Beer Fundraiser somewhere else, as they were not occupying many of their standard access road hiding spots along the highways.

We pulled into our destination just after 5 p.m., very ready to stretch our legs and eat some dinner.  Luckily, my mom is awesome and she left two trays of lasagna and two pies for us to eat.  I stuck dinner in the oven, enlisted Kids A, B, and C to carry our gear in and unpack, disassembled the bike rack, and detached it from the trailer hitch.  Then I proceeded to sit on a beach chair and do nothing while the older four kids rode their bikes, RipSticks and scooters around the gloriously flat and virtually car-less street out front, all while Kid E squirted everyone with water guns.

Mommy's BFF

I said another silent prayer of thanks for our safe arrival, the minimal in-flight fighting and “Are we there yet?” queries, and for the ability to put the pedal to the metal and make it here in just over thirteen hours.

Then I did some quick math in my head, figuring that I had basically been up since the middle of the night.  I realized that one of my kids is a new swimmer and another can’t swim at all and we are staying in a house that is surrounded by water.  The kids had car trip fever and they had now begun fighting and trying to run each other over with their bikes.  Sheepdog is not due to arrive for another whole week.  How am I gonna do this all by myself?

So I opened a bottle of wine and proceeded to drink the whole thing.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Having a Lot of Kids Will Almost Always Lead to Drinking

This past weekend we were heavy two cosmonauts (temporarily).  Sister C and her husband traveled to Jekyll Island for a wedding and her oldest two kids stayed with us.  My nephew is seven and my niece just turned five.  They are good and get along well with my kids.  So we threw them into the pot and told them to hold on tight for a bumpy ride.  Seven kids over three days was gonna be FUN!

Friday was Day One.  I was getting my hair cut and colored (I have the Catch-22 of giant Jersey Girl hair that grows super fast, yet started turning grey when I was only 25 years old) because my sparkles (what I call the evil grey hair when it shines next to my naturally dark hair) were lighting up like a Christmas tree.  My appointment was early, so I just asked Kid B (Kid A sleeps like the Teenage Undead until noon if you let her) to watch them all until I got back.  Sheepdog had made the mistake of deciding to work from home that morning without checking our schedule first, so he got roped in on the babysitting gig too.  Actually, the Wii ended up babysitting three of them, as the boys played video games until their eyeballs were just about to pop out of their heads.  The girls went upstairs and dragged out the $17,000 worth of American Girl Doll equipment, clothes and furniture that we have in a closet and played until their little fingers were bleeding from working those tiny buttons.  I gave them spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and ice cream cake for dessert, then they were off to bed!  Everybody was happy.

Saturday was Day Two.  We had a 1st Birthday Party to attend for my youngest niece later in the afternoon, but it was sunny and hot in the morning so we decided to get everybody dressed and ready for a day at the pool first.  Nine sandwiches, drinks, snacks, towels, bathing suits and eighteen flip-flops (well 17, as Kid E still has the boot on his left foot), and an assembly line of sunscreen later, we headed off to the neighborhood pool for some cooling off.  I was Mama Duck with my seven little ducklings marching behind me along the side of the road.  As we walked I heard the dreaded rumble of thunder off in the distance.  Crap.  We decided we could eat lunch at the pool while we waited the required 20 minutes before being able to go back in the water after thunder and we pressed on.  No sooner did we get to the pool than another boom of thunder rocked our ears.  Double crap.  The skies still looked blue and the clouds were not menacing, so everybody just ate lunch and we hung out for our second penalty.  As it goes, just seconds prior to the end of the waiting period, yet another thunderbolt crashed somewhere far away.  Despite our insistence that it was just a neighbor bringing in his trash cans, the lifeguard went all hard-core and shut us down again.  Third strike and all, we gathered our things and headed back to the house, never having even dipped a single big toe into the cool pool.

After our complete bust of a pool day the kids all complained that they were hot and sweaty and sticky from sunscreen and they all wanted soapy showers before the party.  Sheepdog was adamantly opposed and suggested we just hose them off in the backyard.  But I conceded to their request, mostly because they went straight into pj’s the night before.  By the end we depleted the hot water supply from our not one, but TWO hot water heaters, but everyone was clean, cool and dressed for the party.

Now the party for my other niece was in Kennesaw, which is forty-five minutes away no matter how you cut it.  The big monster truck that I drive all of the kids around in only fits seven (especially with all of the car seats), so we had to formulate a plan on how to get there.  We had the option to take two cars, but after much discussion we opted to take the truck and just put two people in the waaaay back, using body and boyfriend pillows for back support.  Sheepdog and I both grew up in the 70’s and have ridden seat belt-less on the hump in the back seat or in the empty bed of a pickup truck.  Hell, the “infant car seats” from when we were babies were basically laundry baskets that got put on the front seat next to the driver.  And we’re both fine, so we decided to Old School it.

I am considering this for my next car, as they say they were able to fit 13 people into it.

One dumb ass decision by Sheepdog and me, a driver who fell asleep at his wheel and two busted up cars later, we were getting a fire truck escort over to the right shoulder on GA-400S.  Our girls riding in the back saw that the driver was nodding off and called to Sheepdog to PLEASE GET OUT OF THIS LANE RIGHT NOW, DADDY.  He told them that it was fine, yet turned on his blinker and attempted to move over in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.  As the girls continued to let him know that they were frightened and he (and I) countered for them to calm down and that no one would really drive while asleep, but we were moving over nonethele… KABOOM!  He rear-ended us.  Fortunately we were going under 15 miles per hour and not even one person was hurt (the guy’s car is a different story – he lost his entire front end).  Oh there was some screaming at first from the jolt of the impact, but the kids really were troopers.

You really can’t even imagine how bad the sleeping driver felt when he learned that he just crashed into a car filled with seven little kids on their way to their cousin’s birthday party.  Why not just run over some nuns and orphans while you’re at it?  But, like I said, everyone was just fine and we went on to the party and had a great time celebrating and visiting with even more aunts, uncles and cousins.

So Sunday comes afterwards.  Day Three was a hot and sunny once again, so we decided to just go balls to the wall and attempt the pool one more time.  Suits, check.  Gear, check.  Food, check.  Sunscreen, check.  You know the drill by now.  Mama duck and baby ducks.  And on this day there was no thunder.  As a matter of fact, it was a fantastic day at the pool all around.  The kids had fun, swam like fish, and Sheepdog and I managed to keep an eye on everybody and we even got to spend some time hanging out together.  By the time we gathered out things almost four hours later we had four or five more kids who came back to the house along with us, everybody a little sunburned and everybody a little worn out.  It was a great end to a (mostly) fun weekend.

After Sister C came to gather her chickens and take them back home, and Kid A took off to go to dinner and the movies with her friends, and Kids B and C were invited to sleep over at their friend’s house, I made a simple dinner of burgers and dogs for Sheepdog, Kid D, Kid E and myself.  As I was standing at the grill I said a prayer of thanks that we were all safe, and I made a promise that no one was ever riding without proper seat belt restraints under my watch again.  And then I came back in the house and opened a giant bottle of wine and I proceeded to drink most of it.  Because having a lot of kids will almost always lead to drinking.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…