From the Archives (8/3/2009): Thirteen hours in a minivan with four kids under the age of 8

I’ve decided to bring back some of my older posts from other websites into my wordpress blog in order to bring them all together in one place and also in order to enjoy them once again. This post originally appeared in my “Facebook Notes” on August 3, 2009.

The family took our annual summer vacation trip this past week, to northern Minnesota, the same lake that I frequented as a lad. One difference, though. As a child I lived near Minneapolis, so the lake trip took four hours on a bad day. Now that we live in Illinois, the drive is quite a different story….

We were all set. We had our portable DVD player, activity books for the kids, and plenty of snacks.

Things started out pretty well as we headed up I-39 across the Lincoln bridge at La Salle. Before we even hit Rockford, however, I glanced in the rear-view mirror and noticed that Drew had a black spot on his cheek. I asked what he had on his face, only to notice that it was not confined to his face…nor his skin. All over his face, arms, window and seat was black marker….BLACK MARKER! Connor looked at me as if to say “no marker on me!” , but I knew his role (I used to play it as the oldest sibling). He was the idea man. The Danny Ocean of marker-gate. He was not spared from my dishing of instant verbal justice.

“But, it’s washable!” was the justification. Why did we teach them to read? Or reason? Or talk, for that matter? Now, if it was a couple of toddlers back there I might have been a little more understanding, but remember that these kids are 5 and 7 years old.

After flinging several baby wipes in the direction of the back seat with specific instructions to remove all traces of marker (with baby wipes! :)), we decided to put on a DVD to keep them occupied. Of course the DVD player we’ve got has been through quite a bit, including several temper tantrums in the past that included someone getting angry and kicking it from their car seat, so it decided it was no longer going to oblige us with two hours of crystal clear digital entertainment. Instead, it just sat there – black screened and sneaker-scuffed, as if to say “you’ve abused me, and now I abandon you in your hour of greatest need.”

Seven hours later, after several shell station and rest area stops, we’re speeding along I-94 through Saint Paul, happy to finally be in Minnesota and cruising at such a nice pace (7 pm is well after rush hour on a Friday in the Twin Cities). Kendall started whining a bit. We didn’t pay much attention. It had been a long day for everyone, after all, and she had been nursing a deep cough for a couple of days. Thus, we also didn’t notice much about her starting to hack around the same time. That is, until the vomit came. Oh yes, I said vomit. Grapes and bottled water with a hint of red Twizzler. Right in between St Paul and Minneapolis, with nowhere to pull over quickly and no airplane-type emergency bag readily available. I wish I could say that would be the last time she’d have that problem, but unfortunately about thirty minutes later we had a repeat offense. Thus, the story of how we learned about Kendall’s motion sickness was born.

We rolled into the resort around 11:00pm on Friday night, remarkably only about 12 1/2 hours after we started our long trek on the I55/39 interchange outside of Normal. It was hands down the worst drive we’ve experienced to or from a vacation. Luckily, it had nowhere to go but up from there! Vacation was great and I’m happy to report that we all made it back in one piece.


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