Tomorrow, after I run out to Pasadena to take an exam, the kids and I are hitting the road on a trip up to San Francisco for my mom's wedding. She's marrying David, whom we all love, her partner of the last many years. I've never been up to her neck of the woods, and as a bonus, one of my dearest friends lives up there too, and we'll be staying with her and her family. It's a quick trip, but a long drive (about 6-7 hours), so preparation is key.
I've done a lot of driving with my kids. For many years, I drove them ten hours to and from Arizona on trips to visit their dad, so I know all about what to expect. It isn't always pretty. Or peaceful. Or fun. But much can be done to make the best of things. I am so excited to have my kids all to myself, with no friends, no internet, no cell phones, no iPods. It's gonna be great.
I thought I would share my Mom's Magic Bag with you. It starts with a great bag, this one from my amazing friend Luisa. She brought it back for me from London and I LOVE everything about it. My Mom's Magic Bag has all the essential tools for bored kids. I take it to Stake Conference, doctor's office waiting rooms, and anywhere else that the kids might have too much time sitting and waiting. Of course car trips. And I switch the goods inside appropriately, but here is what is coming with us on the road:
Sometimes, a little silly game is just plain fun, no matter the age, but I try to keep something for everyone. I have mini Etch-a-Sketches, a mini Simon game, three 20 Questions games, little get-the-ball-in-the-hole games (whatever they're called), a Seek and Find (mostly for Conor, but all the kids use it--it's never the same twice!), and some children's stories and songs on tape.
There's also some notepads, some magazines, some mazes, word searches, and Sudoku pads, sharpened pencils, and some big kid talks on tape.
Then, I made Road Trip Bundles for each of the kids. The cover is a map of California, so they can follow our journey. Inside are all kinds of games and activities (most of them in double so they can play on the way up, and on the way home). I found great printable pages on Mom's Minivan. Here you can see one of the Road Trip Bingo games (they each get a pack of Skittles for markers), and a License Plate Game (gotta have one!) The License Plate Game for the trip home is just a map of the US that they have to color in as they spot a license plate from that state.
There's also a Travel Scavenger Hunt. Here's Conor's version, with pictures. The older kids have a more challenging list to find. Their bundles also have Tic-Tac-Toe boards, Line and Dot games, Sudokus, and Word Searches. Plenty for both ways. And prizes? Oh, I've got prizes (I'm all about the prizes), and they all begin with chocolate.
We're packing our own food. We have little mini chicken salad sandwiches on croissants for a picnic lunch, with juices and fruit. I have treats and crackers, and of course my famous Trail Mix. The kids love this, so they each get a baggie for the way up, and the way back. You can do whatever you want with a trail mix, but here's what I put in ours: pretzels, goldfish, yogurt raisins (or dark chocolate raisins, whichever), some kind of M&Ms, dried cranberries, raw almonds, and raw cashews.
So tomorrow we're off! Getting there should be interesting. My new GPS that I got for Christmas? Yeah, it died tonight for some reason. The first time I actually really need to use it, and it just won't turn on. It's under warranty, and apparently this is a common problem, but I need it tomorrow! And oh yeah, my printer ran out of ink today, so I'll have to have Adam print off a gazillion directions for each leg of our visit from Map Quest.
But nothing can stop us! Some time tomorrow, if you live in California, open your doors and windows. As I drive by, you'll hear me singing my heart out! You'll have my children's sympathies.