Road Trip in the Big Van

Our house has faced a little chaos over the past few weeks.  We’ve torn out a kitchen, evicted a small critter  (Read about our raccoon visitor!), and dove into spring football and all that entails.  But Spring Vacation on the beach proved to be a big enough blessing that we left in the midst of the crazy to haul our family to the beach.

We loaded up the big van with suitcases and beach toys and coolers of food.  We took out one row of seats and packed the kids into two rows to make the 10 hour drive.  In an effort to break up the trip we stopped at a hotel in Jacksonville late on Friday night.  Our youngest started the ride out with a little bit of a runny nose that became full on coughing and congestion in the midst of the drive.  So when we arrived at the hotel we knew he was going to be a needy sleeper.  He piled into the bed with Nick and me and spent the whole night sleeping on top of my head.  I mean this literally.  I could not move my head because his body was pinning my hair to the pillow.  I felt every cough and prayed my immune system was strong enough to take this up close assault.


The hotel breakfast started at 7am, so we wanted to be in the lobby and ready to go right at 7.  With 7 people in one room there wasn’t really the possibility of sleeping in.  We saw 6:15 on the clock, rallied the troops and got dressed to head down to breakfast.  Once we had woken everyone and gotten the whole crew dressed and in shoes, Nick glanced at his phone and realized the clock in the room was wrong.  We had gotten up at 5:15.  Apparently we were going to make every minute count of this trip! Fortunately much of the continental breakfast was already available.  (Listen, there are 7 of us, breakfast included is like saving $100).

My kids have a way of making friends with people wherever we go…because I have a chatty group of kiddos I’m privileged to call my own.  So the kids befriended some older gentlemen who had also woken bright and early.  People often comment on the size of our family…and this particular conversation often leads to people asking if we are planning more…and offering their opinions…and we say vague things like “we are so blessed!” and “we are so happy with our family now”…but occassionally the kids like to pepper in some personal information that makes things a little awkward.  After this particular breakfast I had to have a talk with the kids about how we will allow the adults to handle questions regarding our family size.  But as a side note to adults…this is a strange question to ask other people.  I understand the curiosity…but let’s drop this one from casual conversation with strangers.


When the big van is loaded up with stuff for a full week, and we are missing a seat, the kids are snuggled in pretty tight into their rows.  We still have one in a car seat and two in boosters…and one who gets car sick…so assigned seating is important.  It also cuts down on “she’s breathing at me!” from the backseat.  I was excited that I found a fun activity for each of the kids at Mast General Store before we left on the trip, so as they got antsy I could pass back something fun to keep them occupied.  I’m a pretty low-tech mom, so our kids don’t have devices at their disposal, but they did get Mad Libs, a knot-tying book, some magnets and a few books.  I won’t say our kids never use technology in the car, but it usually is limited to mom running YouTube song requests for a car dance party.  I almost had my first veto this trip on the requests when one of the girls asked for the Macarena.  And our youngest daughter has become the world’s biggest Guns N Roses fan.  I can only take so much.

But we survived.  10 hours in the big van.  Half a children’s Dramamine.  About a million dollars in gas station Subway food.  At least 10 GnR Songs.  And more coffee than I can measure.  But we made it.


Skipping School: Beach Trip!

Fond Memories: Balancing Tradition with New Experiences

2 thoughts on “Road Trip in the Big Van

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