Monday, June 27, 2011

ECCJ - the tester

With Steve working away from home for parts of the summer, the boys and I embarked on a small road trip this weekend to go spend some time with him, in a cozy (yet rustic) cabin in the woods.

The destination was 5 hours away. Plus we went on three "side road trips" while we were there. All told, we did 16 hours of driving in the past 4 days, a most excellent primer for the ECCJ*.

(*Epic Cross Country Journey.)

It was also my first foray into "traveling light," which I needed some serious advice for. Thanks for it all, I took it all, and y'all would have been proud of the car when I pulled out of the driveway! If it wasn't for all the stuff I had to drop off in Kingston and Ottawa, along with the 40 lb dog taking up most of the back, the CRV would have been positively SPACIOUS!

It was an excellent trip, as well as a most excellent learning adventure. Here's what I now know:

- 4 year olds will not pee when you are at a service centre for a pee break. They prefer to pee when you are stuck in traffic on the 401, and despite warnings of "you'll have to give me some advance notice if you need to go to the bathroom," will wake from a dead sleep screaming "STOP THE CAR, I NEED TO PEE. STOP NOW...THE PEE IS COMING OUT!"

- Happy Meal toys make excellent car toys, since they are NEW! They are even better if they are the one given to your BROTHER!

- Happy Meal toys also make excellent projectiles.

- No matter which toys and snacks you put within reach of the driver, the children will always want the ones packed deep in the back.

- Sleeping babies wake up VERY badly when their neck does that floppy headed sleeping thing. (We need to get some sort of head support for Corben...any suggestions?)

- On the "do I really need this?" list, the playpen is a resounding YES! I thought we'd be fine, but after four months of Corben going to sleep by himself in his crib, he is no longer very good at falling asleep with space to roam. Last night, at 10pm, after bouncing off the walls for hours, I finally barricaded him into a corner storage area. A pillow, blanket, and the kitchen table on it's side to keep him there. He was asleep within 5 minutes.

- We can do 5 hours of driving at a time, and play I spy, and listen to music, and sleep, and talk, and sing, and we can do it all without any sort of media device or hand held game device that makes annoying noises. And we are going to stick to our guns on that one as we cross the far as I see it, there's really no point in driving across the country if everyone has their heads buried in their laps and they don't see a damn thing. My kids have never ever watched a dvd in the car, in their minds it's not even an option. And that's how it will stay. So there.

I'm looking forward to this trip even more now after attempting a mini warm-up. It's going to be amazing. And of COURSE I'm going to blog my way across the country...seriously, you'd miss me like CRAZY if I disappeared for 3 weeks, right!?? Couldn't have that!

(I have some fantastic pictures...that I can't upload for some dumb reason...will try again tomorrow!)


Catherine said...

I saw this the other day and thought it was pretty cool. It would work for Corben's crankyness.

We don't use a playpen because it's really bulky and have a peapod instead. The Peapod Plus is large enough for Griffin if need be. We also like the fact that we can turn on the lights and not disturb the kids.

I'm very jealous of your trip and hope you have lots of fun.

Catherine said...

oops here you go.,5

Stephanie said...

Ohhh... I love long van trips with the kid(s). Our son travelled from BC to Ontario at 4mo and 1.5 yrs and then to MB at 2.5 and 4.5 yrs of age. Darling daughter went to MB at almost 2yrs. Our trick to the long drive was a tip from a patient years ago. She suggested collecting Mr. Donalds, Burger King or any fast food 'toys', go to the dollar store, garage sales or second hand store to pick up toys, thin books, cheap colouring pads/books and simple packets of crayons. These get wrapped in tissue paper (I id on the outside what it is so I know what it is) and a colour for one child and a different one for the other (to make sure proper kid gets age appropriate toy/writing utensil). When a child becomes terribly bored and whiny then out came a 'gift' for the child. A NEW thing to play with and can be done on a very cheap budget if you have time to peek around but longer if you're trying to find 'earth friendly' options.

Whether it's a long road trip or a flight over halfway across the country we also pack a small backpack which has a couple of new books, new toothbrush, and a couple other toys and often items co-workers kids are getting rid of 'for free' to occupy them for the first leg of the trip. Oh yes, and we do include a couple SMALL treats as well which is a huge surprise for them. Treats have to be saved til after pee breaks as our hands are freshly washed! The backpack also provides something for each child to store their 'new' items keeping vehicle a little more organized!

On that note, boys (or girls for that matter) do not like to pee on the side of the road whilst being bombarded by grasshoppers in Saskatchewan (there are no pit stops between cities and small towns don't seem to even have an outhouse either...WE KNOW..sorry if anyone is from SK). A potty is a handy idea and if its one that you wouldn't mind unloading once you reach the end of your ECCJ. No matter how bad my son has to go, once we pull over and he realizes there's just tall grass or a vault outhouse toilet or one that has spiders in it he apparently can hold it for another 1-2 hrs til we reach some sort of civilization with a flushing toilet!

As for toddlers in diapers we use a waterproof change pad and cut a slit for the seat buckle so it can cover the area of the carseat where a diaper could possibly leak. Nothing worse than a leaky diaper soiling the carseat on a hot drive where you have to find a campground with laundry facilities (we've experienced a few times with the boy).

I wish I was going with you on your trip as we are all flying this summer :(

OH yes, another thing we do is go to Value Village and buy some 'used' shorts and Ts for the kids as the passenger in the front does all the passing out of beverages and snacks throughout the trip and inevitably some of the eats or bevvies spill and some of the stains won't come out by the end of the trip so they can be discarded leaving you with less clothing to fly back with. Could add more but this is already too long.....

Good luck and enjoy your trip!

Ms. Julia Hale said...

On playpens...there are a number of travelling crib options that are like mini tents - I used a pop up sun shade that folds down to the size of a plate