Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to motivate yourself to take a roadtrip with your kids when you're 8 months pregnant.

All you have to do is buy an 80 dollar America the Beautiful 2011: National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass. We bought ours back in May and ever since, I have been determined to make it worth it. I was sure we would be visiting every national park in the western United States ever since we set foot on US soil this year. Oh, the dreams we have! The plans we make! How is it that life never really turns out like you think it will? I knew Jonathan would be busy this year with school and work but I didn't really think I would be so hesitant to venture out on my own with the kids. I didn't realize how the US really gives me the creeps. There really are a lot of wackos here. Despite that fact, I do believe in regrets and I do realize how I can only force my kids to do what I want for just a little while longer. That is one of the reasons I'm homeschooling this year. Soon they will look at me just like Jennifer Connely looked at David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth and say, "You have no power over me." Then they will venture out on their own and make all their own choices and say, "Homeschooling sucks Mom!" and wear strange clothes that cost way too much and spend more time on their hair than I've spent in my lifetime. So, to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone we went! So what that I was 8 months pregnant! So what that I'm a horrible driver in the sense that I have trouble staying alert at the wheel for more than an hour! So what that my kids tend toward the spazzy side and that the youngest is not yet 2!

I prefer Grand Teton National Park over Yellowstone. Check out those peaks! Gorgeous! I realized even before I left that we wouldn't be doing a lot of hiking on this trip. I love to hike. But wearing a Kelty and being 8 months pregnant doesn't really work. So, we had to do short walks with Hector. He's a pretty good walker for his age thank goodness. There were a few times he just stood there and screamed at me, waiting for me to give in and pick him up. Of course, I gave in. Those were the moments when I had to tell myself, "You chose this Christine." So I really couldn't get mad at him. He's just one and he never asked for this kind of adventure.

On the days that we drove a lot, especially in Yellowstone, I was reminded of the trip my father took me on. Two foreign exchange boys from Spain were with us as well as my brother Clayton. We were all teenagers. I remember my father getting mad that we weren't looking out the window. At the time I thought, "Man, what's he getting mad about!" Now, I realize how cool Yellowstone really is. There is a lot of wildlife there. To get my kids to notice and care about it I bribed them with money. Atticus is 7, a prime age for bribing. Here is our price list:

Bear, buffalo, moose, elk, wolf, or deer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 cents

The only catch was that they had to see the animal before me. Since I was driving and concentrating more on the road, I thought they would have a chance. It worked. They each made a handful of change. Cinci only saw one thing first. Sherman had troubles, but he always has troubles. His vision is very bad. Atticus saw the most. They were all pretty attentive throughout the whole trip. No iPads, no iPods, no car DVD players. Only Mommy screaming a few times. Sometimes Hector did that for me. And the rest of the time we listened to books on tape or cd or really annoying songs that the kids like.

My favorite moment of the trip was when we got to see the elk come out in the evening for their mating rituals. The big bull would do his mating call. He was grand and majestic. I have a picture of one above but the one I'm speaking of was different. He and his female friends were grazing in a river valley by our campsite on the third night of our trip. We heard him calling out all night long. I was happy to hear Atticus talking about it the next morning.

My most unfavorite moment of the trip was when I noticed that the coolant was a bit low and I couldn't get the cap off. Fortunately, I was able to drive three more days until I got home safely. I still haven't been able to get that dang cap off!

Here are my two favorite items I bought for the trip. The first one was individual premeasured cups of instant oatmeal. All you had to do was heat the water, dump it in the cup and stir. All ready! No pouring into bowls needed. The other thing I really liked for the trip were those small powder packets that you just add to a bottle of water. The kids think they're great. That way you just pack a crate of bottled water and you don't have to bring extra special drinks for the kids. My kids know that when we go camping we bring lots of junky things that we usually don't have. Like soda, junky cereal, candy, licorice, marshmallows, chocolate, etc. Well, I usually have chocolate, but they only get it sometimes. A lady told me about disposable toothbrushes that come with the toothpaste already applied. I'll have to look into those for my next trip.

As for sleeping at night, we wouldn't have made it without our Pop Top Super Adventure Volkswagen Eurovan. We just slept in that on the nights that we camped. I can't say that it was comfortable. With my large belly and Hector drop kicking me all night, I can say that it was just okay. Not great, but okay. Comparing it to the few nights before I actually left on the trip, it was better actually. Hector had these strange canker sores that wouldn't permit him to sleep well. But they started to disappear as our trip progressed. Instead of screaming in the middle of the night, he just screamed for about thirty minutes after he woke up every morning. I kind of felt sorry for all those old timers in their cushy RV's having to listen to my baby screaming at 7 in the morning. I hope they consoled themselves by thinking, "I'm glad I'm not that lady." Unfortunately, Cinci started to get the canker sores too but his were worse. They were the size of dimes. Two dimes on each side of his tongue. He comforted himself by holding my small binoculars the rest of the trip. I think he liked them so much because they made him look like Wall-e when he put them on his eyes.

Atticus and Sherman really helped me out a lot during the trip. I couldn't have done all the lifting stuff and watching of Hector by myself. I don't think they learned as much as I would have wanted them to but I have to remind myself to chill out. Throwing rocks in the Snake River with Hector will probably be a more pleasant memory to them than having their over- stressed and unattractive mother repeating questions to them about the volcanic activity in and around Yellowstone.

So, there you have it. My trip in a nutshell. We survived. We had fun. We didn't spend too much money. I didn't fall asleep at the wheel. Jonathan got a lot of work done while we were gone. We have some pictures and plenty of memories.

1 comment:

Sonja said...

Wow!! You did it, Christine!! I have so much respect for you. I really hope one day your kids will come to realize they have the coolest mom ever. I mean--EVER!