There aren't enough bags in the world to pack all the things we would've needed on this trip to Dallas. We've experienced both super high highs and the extreme lowest of lows. I thought I would write about it to remind myself to pack a little extra next time, and also look back and laugh- hopefully- one day on the torture that ensued our little "vacation".
We began the 22 hour drive Saturday morning, around 7:30am. Th drive started seamlessly. The kids had movies, activities, snacks, and empty bladders.
We set out heading up 75, into the eternal abyss that is the state of Florida. Teaghan must've asked if we were "there yet" about 462 times before we even got to the highway.
The kids needed to stop to pee an hour before lunch. The subway didn't have a changing table. Neither did the Starbucks. Booth it is! I ignored the elderly couple next to us with peering eyes. Adalynn had pooped. And also very skillfully managed to get it out of her diaper and into her pants. This is just the beginning.
Lunch came and went, and we stopped at a Chick-fil-a - naturally. The kids got out and played for a bit on the playroom slides. We stretched our legs and used the toilets. Again. This time I had to lecture the girls on why it is inappropriate to look under the stall door to the person in the stall next to you.
Just 2 minutes after re-buckling all four car seats, and securing all the things needed for the next leg of the drive, Wesley started to puke.
Paco pulled the car over quickly. And we both scurried to assess, address, and avoid a repeat of the situation.
One change of clothes down. (I only brought everyone three changes. They were mix-n-match-able to create additional outfits, but only when clean. And we were about to be at Litas for Christmas. Which meant everyone would come home with additional outfits.) never the less, in a car for 22 hours, the clothing was beginning to look sparce.
We passed Wesley's vomiting off as a fluke and made sure he had plenty of water. It was nap time and hopefully he could sleep off whatever it was that made him sick to begin with.
An hour later, another set of clothes bit the dust as Wesley puked again. This time on the highway. We flashed our hazard lights and hoped the 18 wheelers would pay attention. The back of our car was beginning to look like a landfill with all the plastic bags filled with vomit covered clothes, and Wes was now in his last clean outfit.
He had no fever, no nothing to signal concern. What is the deal?? Maybe he's car sick.
Quickly I googled like a boss the remedies for car sickness. We stopped at the next exit, to a not so glamorous wal-mart, for a back-up change of clothes, fresh air, and some lighter snacks for Wes. Paco adjusted the car seats so he could see out of the front of the car, and if it was motion sickness, we would know shortly because his blowing chunks should stop.
We finally managed to stop in Baton Rouge around midnight for a hotel. The kids had all fallen asleep around 8, but we were nearly there ourselves. Sleep never looked so good.
The best western was a breath of fresh air. It was clean, and stationary, and had lots of beds. The girls shared a pull out couch and Wesley had a queen bed all to himself.
At 7 we all woke up for the hot continental breakfast buffet, with bacon, waffles, eggs, hashbrowns. The kids ate their fill, and so did we. We filled their juice cups with juice and started out on day two of the road trip. We managed to get all of twenty minutes outside of Dallas when everyone needed the potty again. This time, the nastiest of places in the middle of no where, smelled of ash trays, and germs crawling. I closed my eyes pretending not to notice. Our destination was 20 minutes away- and we could all shower if necessary.
We finally made it! To Lita and Pancho's house. Greeted by relatives we didn't even know in the kitchen. The kids were overjoyed at being out of the car. Heck- so was i.
I was all excited thinking that Wes could now get back to being Wes and we could venture out and do all the fun things we had planned for the trip. Except that didn't happen. Because it never happens the way you plan it.
Wes came down with a fever.
And then McKenna and Teaghan.
Followed closely by Paco.
While I may be fever free, I've had a few of their symptoms manifest in my body. Like a scratchy cough that acts up when you're trying to sleep. And a runny nose that drips only while eating.
If I had to summarize the trip into an example familiar to others, I would say that for me, visiting family in Texas is a lot like going on a mission trip to another country.
See, not only did I have to work hard when getting involved in a marriage, at blending two lives into one, but two cultures into one.
I don't speak a lick of Spanish. I lied. I know about 30 words. But it's not nearly enough to understand the whirlwind of conversations happening around me here.
It's an unfamiliar place (yes I attended a Dallas Texas college, but it was in a completely different part of town, nearly 6 years ago, PRE- children. Which means I've lost any recollection of directional wisdom once stored.) unfamiliar foods, unfamiliar smells, sounds, language. I don't even have the same grocery stores or eateries. Because past the Mississippi, territory is considered the north west. And my friends, I am an east coast girl.
This doesn't mean all the unfamiliars are terrible. It just means I have to live outside of my normal, organized, routine, box. And for me- that's a big deal.
Aside from all of the kids eventually getting the same virus as Wesley (we like to share in our family- toys, love, hugs, an germs alike) with fevers, coughs and enough mucus to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool. And Paco and I also catching said bug- and being pregnant I can't take anything other than Tylenol (which is half of my struggle!) things have been relatively smooth.
I think this trip I've opened up the most I have ever, when visiting this side of the family. Rather than being reserved, I've spoken up and either made friends or enemies. I've told Paco my opinions on situations, and he has chivalrously taken on the responsibility of being the bearer of the news to his family- without exposing my vulnerability. He's taken the battles on as his own, and defended me without even knowing it. (Which if you're a dude reading this: take note. It's a big deal to your wife to defend her amidst your own family and prefer her over everyone else.)
We've visited the aquarium, food establishments, and locations not found in our home state of Florida. And we've become familiar with both the pharmacy and pediatric emergency room of the area. (Which I can highly recommend. Children's medical center of Plano is a fabulous place to take your sick kids- if you live here or visit, in the event of an emergency room.) and that's saying a lot- because typically in medical environments- especially a hospital fully equipped with needles and lab supplies- I panic.
With the exception of a few unexpected set backs, the trip was good. The kids were better. And the car ride wasn't nearly as terrifying as I expected.
Here's a few tips for those of you driving with small kids ( aka- 4 under 5 y/o) anytime in the near future.
For car sickness:
Put the car sick kid in the middle seat. So they can see out of the front windshield. It helps align their brain and motion sense into logical.
Feed them light snacks- even if it means ruining their lunch. Better than puking up their lunch later. (Graham crackers, goldfish, ritz, you get the idea).
Keep them hydrated. Water is best cause if it comes back up- it's not a terrible smell or color. We mixed one part coconut water with three parts water for flavor and to help balance Wesley's electrolytes.
At every stop, load up on napkins, and plastic grocery bags. That way you can properly store the vomit covered clothing until you're able to wash it.
Also at every stop- let the car sick kid out of the car. Play ring around the Rosie while pumping gas, do jumping jacks together, race to the gas station door, balance along the curb edge, whatever. The kids will love it- everyone stretches their legs, and it gets the car sick kid a breath of fresh air and allows them to "re calibrate" their motion sensors.
(Ps. I found all of this crap on google. But thought I would post what really worked for us here in one space.)
Please note: I am not suggesting you drug your children for said results. But Wesley was already grouchy, whining, coughing, sneezing, and barfing with a mild fever. So we gave him some Motrin and Benadryl. A half dose of each. This gave him an extra dose of sleepy, and allowed him to sleep. And when a kid is sleeping. They aren't feeling sick and aren't barfing.
What we did for 26 hours in the car, and how to survive the drive:
We took everyone a tv screen for the car. So they could watch DVDs. Since the little kids can't tell or understand time, I used movies to explain timing. For example: we will stop for lunch after two movies. Or you can finish Brave, and then it's time for a nap.
We took one iPod touch- the kids took turns passing it around, which gave them a break from movies, and a chance to stimulate their brain with other activities. Two kids would share the DVD choice and the other had the freedom to use the iPod. Then we would switch.
My mom purchased all the kids a pair of ihome headphones. This was a great little bonus because if Paco and I needed a break from all the noise of disney, we just hooked up all the headphones for some quiet.
If we stopped for anyone- for anything- everyone got out to pee. Little kids got diaper changes, mom and dad- everyone went to the bathroom. That way- we knew we were good for about three more hours regardless of who needed the toilet.
We stopped for lunches/dinner at sit down eateries. Places like CFA with a play place, or chilis with lots of room. So that everyone could get a break from the drive.
We stopped at night. All the kids fell asleep around 8:30. (Thank you routine schedules from home) which meant we could drive from 8:30-12:30 with music, laughs, a movie, whatever- without the kids. But when we got tired. We slept. We checked into a nice hotel- a best western- with a beautiful hot breakfast in the morning. It charged all of our batteries and let us set out fresh for the next day of driving.
All this along with the typical snacks, juice boxes, coloring books, small toys, and car games.
Were there melt downs? Heck yes. About three times, Wesley lost his mind. But honestly- a two year old can only cry so long. He was tired and frustrated- and didn't understand what was happening.
Ps: You'd be amazed at what worship music can do. I have a playlist called "rest" on spotify, with lots of peaceful worship songs. When the car was crazy and stressful or everyone was going stir crazy, I would start to play the soft worship music and turn it up loud. This drowns out the sounds of everything else. Everyone would get their blankies and just take a rest for a minute. We've practiced getting "self control" when we aren't in the car. So it wasn't a new thing for the kids. Normally- we say "can you please fold your hands and take a minute to get some self control." And they do. The folding of their hands gives them something to focus on and they can get their attitude in check.
In the car, we did the same thing except no one could do anything because they were buckled up- so laying their heads on their seats, with their blanket is the equivalent. It gives them something to focus on besides their attitude. And it also teaches them the virtue and spiritual fruit of self control. Which will absolutely be necessary later in life.
In fact, I have had the girls tell me to get some self control before. It's a moment where I know I need to check my attitude- and also correct them for correcting me! Lol.
All in all the trip was decent and a well deserved break for Paco. The kids enjoyed the sites and cool air, and it has made me all the more grateful for where I live and the things I have and do.
Happiest holiday to you and yours!!! Merry Merry happy new year!!!!!