Reasonable and Road Trip Don’t Go Together

We’ve got a family wedding to attend. It involves a lengthy road trip. I’m usually a “pack at The Last Minute” sort of gal because why pack all the necessities before you’re done using them, right? But this time, Andrew requested that we begin packing and planning ahead of time in hopes of making taking a trip a less daunting experience. So maybe we’d do it more often.

That sounds really reasonable, doesn’t it? I agreed and we made a plan.

Yesterday, I loaded the seven kids up and we took a two hour tour of wal-mart.


I let them pick out some cheap toys to take on the trip. (That process took an hour all by itself and I believe I deserve credit for only trying to gouge my eyes out with a Barbie arm twice.) But everyone was incredibly good, especially when I ripped open the protein bars in the middle of the store and handed them out when our blood sugar dropped all at once and tears were imminent.

I even let Sam and Ian push carts to the van and THEY LOADED ALL THE BAGS BY THEMSELVES.

It is A NEW ERA, my friends.

Yesterday evening was spent running around checking “to-dos” off of our lists. Andrew and I worked straight up until 10 pm so we’d be ready to leave for a trip two days away. How restful!

This morning, Andrew was out the door before 6 am for a meeting and to get the van tuned up. I gathered the kids’ seven backpacks and packed five days worth of clothes, pj’s and underwear. Plus wedding clothes. I’m trying a new packing system this time. I’ll let you know  if it works.


Just a fraction of what we need to load in the van…

I finished packing the kids around 12:30.

Which was about the time we realized Ellen probably had strep. Did I mention Ellen is a flower girl in the wedding?

I knew she had a pretty high fever but she didn’t complain of any other symptoms. She didn’t even complain of the fever. I finally reached back into the cobwebs of my brain and remembered she mentioned ONCE that her throat felt like it had dirt in it.

Oh, hi ulcers all over her throat! When did you get here?

Since doctors don’t work during lunch hours, we bundled her back in the bed and I dashed off to the library to stock up on books and entertainment for a long road trip that was suddenly in question. I raced back home, threw Ellen in the car, and whisked her off with me to my neurology appointment.

Where we sat for two and a half hours.

Ellen missed her appointment with the pediatrician so once I was FINALLY seen by my doctor, we raced off to find an urgent care clinic that would take us. At which point they confirmed our suspicions of strep.

Let me just pause a minute to brag on my daughter. Kid never complained. She sat with a blanket over her head and played the iPad for something like four hours by the time we were done. When the doctor said she needed a shot, I gave her a sucker and let her watch Looney Tunes. She never cried or fussed during the shot. Not. One. Word.

She’s a tough old bird, that one. And maybe I cried a tear or two so she didn’t have to.

Meanwhile, Andrew had a meeting he couldn’t miss so we cried “uncle” to the crazy and called a baby-sitter. She arrived at the house about ten minutes before I did, but it got Andrew to his meeting on time and meant I had a little help for the evening. (I mean, she’d driven all that way, I couldn’t just send her home, could I?)

So I made my phone calls to change all of our travel plans while the baby-sitter handled the non-sick kids. Our plan is to wait 24 hours and make sure no one else is coming down with the plague. We’ll miss getting to travel with Grampaw and his people, but they’ll like us better if we don’t give them all strep. If everyone stays healthy, we’ll head up a bit later and still get there in time for the Blessed Event.

Meanwhile, I’m all packed for a trip we may not even take. And I’m not one iota more relaxed than I would be if we’d waited until tonight to start packing.

So I’m gonna give myself the evening off and leave the rest of the packing… or not… until The Last Minute. Which, obviously, is the only proper way to pack. And I’ll dream of the Some Sweet Day when I’ll holler up the stairs, “Get your stuff! We’re going on a trip!” and they’ll come down with their backpacks loaded with clothes and books and then we’ll all get in the van and drive off and have adventures that don’t involve running out of diapers on the interstate or listening to “I’m A Little Teapot” 846 times in a row.

Don’t laugh. It could happen…



  1. I love your sense of humor, friend. It’s the best coping mechanism, isn’t it? (Well, that and prayer. And maybe a glass of something. But you know.)

    I’m so impressed with how Ellen coped with the whole thing. Bless her.

  2. wow. hugs and prayers.

  3. So I know y’all are wedding-ing this weekend and it’s too late to hear what I’m about to say concerning packing. But. You know I like to share ideas that work for us! So when we go on a more-than-an-overnight trip, I pack everyone’s clothes by day. Day 1 clothes for each person all go in the same bag. Day 2 clothes for everyone go in bag 2. This works lovely for the kinds of trips we take. Then, we only have to open one bag per day and stuff doesn’t get tossed pell-mell to the floor when they are searching for pajamas or underwear, which are inevitably at the bottom of the bag. Honestly, big families should discuss daily strategies more often. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve come up with!!

  4. It gets easier. And I was about to say the same thing as Aubrey, that’s how I pack for more than an overnighter.

    I also add one more bag of “just in case” outfits. 🙂

  5. Stephanie says:

    Having just survived a cross country trip with my four girls, I was laughing aloud at your chaos. (Forgive me.) Love this post as well as your fabulous perspective and humor in the midst of all of it!

  6. So, I’m really late to this post and I don’t know if you’ll see it, but I have 8 kiddos 12 and under and I like to pack like this: Pass out a list or post a list on their doors that tell how many *clean* pajamas, pants, socks, underwear, shirts, etc, that they are to put in their backpack. Then at some point, we meet in the hall and I call out items, “Four shirts!” and they have to hold it up in the air. I get to quickly decide if they have actually remembered everything and if I approve of all the shirts. If someone has only three or a trashy one, they have to immediately run to their room and grab another. By the end, I know what’s in their bags and how many, and I didn’t have to run around like a crazy girl to do it. I still pack the 2 3yr olds and the baby myself. But it works great for my five and up crowd. I LOVE someone’s idea of packing by days instead of people. I’m gonna combine our systems next time!


  1. […] had a great little road trip, despite its beginnings. Much to tell you, but just to be obnoxious, I’m gonna do the trip in reverse. Which means […]

  2. […] the day we found out Ellen had strep I was sad for her, of course, but I was also immediately concerned about how to keep the rest of the […]

  3. […] including loading it into the van, so I like to think this means we’re growing as a family. My backpack system is working. […]

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