Month: July 2012

Olympic Car Travels

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An Olympic gold medal would be nice. I’m expecting to be recognized by the medal committee in the next few weeks. I plan to take home the gold from London and nothing less for surviving what many parents would never attempt. I strongly feel after nearly 60 hours in a minivan with my six family members, I deserve to be recognized. At the very least, my patience with five children ages’ 4-16 and my creativity to keep them from killing each other in a confined space for over 3200 miles deserves something.

With hopes set entirely too high on my part, my family recently traveled to southern California for a vacation. I’m still recovering and now need to be coerced into my minivan for even a five-minute jaunt across town. I’m either really claustrophobic now or I’ve crossed over the crazy line and can’t find my way back. I’m sure in the near future I’ll think this is a good idea again; kind of like natural childbirth.

Stuffing seven people into a seven-passenger van (who knew the following year’s Honda Odyssey would have eight seats) was a bit cramped. The older three children rotated sitting in the back row between two car seats. It’s not comfortable for anyone, even my daughter who resembles a string bean. With a large cooler, snacks galore, pillows and blankets, it’s a miracle we even fit. Our bags totaled eleven! One of my daughters brought three, with one entirely stuffed with just shoes. I think I need to teach this one the definition of packing lightly and leave out the fact that I once did the same thing.

On our way back from California, I became convinced that the state of New Mexico doubled in size. I thought I’d never see the Texas border again. After stopping at what felt like hundreds of bathrooms, there are several I can now recommend avoiding at all costs. I never thought the side of a highway could look so appealing. I opted out though for fear someone would see me on a Google Earth phone app.

As we entered Oklahoma, my allergies kicked in almost immediately. Apparently they grow the same plants and grasses as Kansas. And my hair that air- dried into wavy curls in California, went back to frizz head of the Midwest (Hello flat iron.)

The longer I road in the van coming home, the tighter my seatbelt felt and I couldn’t get comfortable. I clearly didn’t exercise enough when I was away to burn off all the Mexican food I consumed. It’s simply not fair a woman’s metabolism slows down the older she gets.

I think driving to the destination is always more exciting and seems to go faster than the return trip. I guess it might be the closer one gets to home, the more a person thinks about all that needs to get done once they arrive. I’m still doing laundry and I swear it’s multiplying like bunnies overnight. I can’t seem to make any headway. And my house looks like it hasn’t been dusted in years. There are cobwebs everywhere! That means there’s spiders lurking somewhere too. Now I’m completely freaked out.

Hopefully the next time I think a road trip this long is a good idea, a friend will knock me out and drop me at the nearest airport. My husband and children can drive in the minivan and meet me there. In the meantime, I’m holding out for my gold medal.

Compliments of the Atchison Globe

Seize the Summer Months

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Seize the summer months
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

Before you know it, you’ll be headed to Walmart with a school supply list in hand. Your cart will be full of erasable pens, notebooks, and backpacks. As the precious weeks of summer fly by, consider summer activities that will have a lasting impact on your whole family and not your budget. I’m not talking about overbooking your children. Most parents have excelled in that area already with mixed results. According to a New York Times article published last summer, “the number of activities your children are involved in doesn’t necessarily have an impact on their chances for academic success later in life. It might, however, have a negative effect on a parent’s emotional state, not to mention a family’s finances.” So, enjoy activities that won’t break your wallet, but instead build lasting memories with your children. Here are a few ideas:
Unplug completely. Take a vacation from Xbox, the Internet, cell phones, and TV. It’s amazing how creative the children get. Soon you’ll be joining in their imaginative games.
Get everyone outside! After unplugging, take the children outdoors to play hopscotch, basketball, badminton, or whiffle ball. Better yet, teach them how to play a game from your childhood, like four-square.
Sign the kids up for swim lessons or teach them yourself. The cost is minimal and most children are drawn to water. Knowing how to swim may just save their life and it opens up the opportunity for lots of water activities.
Insist on mandatory quiet time every day. Children need down time and it gives them a chance to regroup. Have them each play quietly, read, or nap in their bedrooms. Not only will they be better for it, but so will you.
Plant a garden and then enjoy all the fruits (literally) and vegetables of your hard work. Don’t have a green thumb? Plant herbs in small pots and stick them in the kitchen window. They’re easy to grow. Still hesitant? Buy a watermelon and eat it outside and let the sticky juice run down your arms.
Make homemade ice cream. Some days are unbearably hot. Sit on the deck and teach your children how to churn ice cream the old-fashion way. It takes forever.
Have a camp out in the backyard and make it a summer tradition. The older kids will love it. Little ones can even stay in the tent for stories and snacks and then head inside while the older kids brave the night. S’mores are a must as well as bug spray.
Run through a sprinkler with the kids. Soon you’ll be giggling right along with them.
Read! Older children can read on their own while the younger ones enjoy special reading time with mommy or daddy. Take them to the library so they can pick out their own books.
Go fishing. Teach the kids the difference between doodlesocking, snagging, and long-lining. They’ll be completely impressed.
Lastly, don’t forget summertime offers great opportunities for stargazing. Enjoy at least one late night on Aug. 12 or 13. Watch the meteor shower from the constellation Perseus the Hero light up the sky. The best part of the show begins after midnight, when 50 shooting stars per hour appear in all parts of the sky. It’s worth the lack of sleep and your children will always remember it.
Seize the summer months while you can. The kids will be these ages only once. Enjoy them now. Before you know it, they’ll be headed off to school with those new backpacks.

Compliments of the Atchison Globe