Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Troop Movements

The day finally came. Time to move our troops from New Jersey to the family farm in Kentucky. I am not going to lie the thought of that drive makes my skin crawl. Under normal circumstances I enjoy a good road trip. This however was not normal circumstances. I had 6 kids, 1 rabbit, 1 grandpa, 6mths worth of clothes and school books….all jammed in my van!  According to google maps the drive should have taken 10 hours. It actually took 16 hours. SIXTEEN HOURS in the car with 6 children between the ages of 2 and 10. Only one person threw up on me so I guess that was a blessing.

In all honesty the trip did go smoothly, it just took forever to accomplish. The children for the most part did very well and there was a minimum of fighting, mainly between the headstrong 5 yr old and the bossy 8yr old. I mean who wouldn’t have seen THAT coming?

Lets start at the beginning however. Before we could even pull out of the driveway I had to pack everything we needed for 6mths away from home. Being a homeschooling family this meant not only did I need our clothes, shoes, toiletries, and toys…..I also needed all of our books for the end of our current school year and the start of the new school year. That is three whole curriculums when you consider the twins kindergarten! Talk about a lot of books!

I had a battle plan for the packing of our clothes. I decided to do two children’s clothes at a time and make identical stacks for each. 1 stack for play clothes (shirts and pants), 1 stack for church clothes, 1 stack for PJ’s, 1 stack for undies, and 1 stack for socks.

I packed 10 play outfits and 5 Church outfits per child. There were also the Church shoes and leggings to add to the girls bags. After I had all of the clothes stacked up I put each child’s clothes into their own vacuum sealed Ziploc storage bag. Those bags then got placed in a suitcase for the trip. I liked that I could keep each child’s clothes separate while in the suitcase. There is nothing I hate more than going to look for a child’s clothing in the suitcase and finding someone has been rummaging through it leaving the clothes for 6 kids mixed together. Drives me nuts to then have to resort and refold it all. With the individual bags within the bigger suitcase each child knew exactly which bag was theirs when we reached our destination. They pulled their bag out and found their clothes for that night and the next morning without my help. I was then able to easily unpack the bags into their closet here at our current home.  Added bonus that I was able to fit 6 months of clothes for 7 people, including shoes and toiletries, into 3 suitcases!

So clothes, shoes, and school books packed. What else is there? Ralph the rabbit of course.
There was no way we were going to be able to leave our therapy bunny at home! How in the world do you transport a rabbit in the car for 16 hours and then have a home for at your final stop? We were blessed to be given an animal carrier for free before we left New Jersey. Ralph was able to ride in comfort inside her animal carrier with her litter, hay, water bottle, and assorted gold fish crackers (Our 2 year old thought she looked hungry).  Before we left New Jersey I stopped over at Tractor Supply and purchased a complete rabbit starter kit. For a whopping $58 I had a portable cage that I could fold flat in the van and then assemble at midnight while surrounded by exhausted children. Fun times.  Luckily our 5 year old twins do not need a lot of leg room so I was able to slide the box in under their feet for the trip.

One last very important thing missing……snacks! I found a set of 5 plastic “project boxes” at Costco while buying our snacks for the trip. I thought the boxes would be good for corralling our school supplies and such while we were at the farmhouse in Kentucky. To justify making room for them in the van I used them as snack boxes while on the trip. Each child got a box, except our son who was sitting within arm’s reach of the passenger’s seat his snacks were kept in a plastic grocery bag. I prefilled the boxes (and grocery bag) with the snacks (goldfish, animal crackers, juice pouches, nuttela dippers, etc) and a few other surprises (Little notebooks, crayons, a piece of candy, etc). The boxes were placed by the children in the back 2 rows of the van. They were able help themselves to their snacks and there was no fighting that so and so ate the last of their goldfish.

We made several stops along the way and attempted to get our goofy wiggles out as often as possible.

Over all as I said the trip was very long but went extremely smoothly. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We arrived at the farm house at midnight and were very happy to settle in to the house that had been so lovingly prepared for us. My family worked extremely hard to get everything set up for us here. Including setting up our beds, buying new bedding and towels, cleaning the entire place, and putting in a new hot water heater! I couldn’t have asked for anything more and was extremely touched by their generosity and love.

The first thing I heard the morning after our arrival was our 8 year old daughter screaming about the “wild cows” outside her window. I have to admit I got a giggle out of that one. Our first day here at the farm house was spent exploring the country side and enjoying some much needed quality family time.

 I miss my husband every single day and wish he could be here with us. I wish he could see the children attempting to feed the cows and hiking in the woods.  I wish he could hear their giggles as they spend the afternoon together without the influence of the tv. I have to keep telling myself that his being away is out of our control and happening regardless of my feelings or input. I can make the best of the situation and give our children a summer to remember fondly or one to remember poorly with mom who cried all the time and fed them nothing but take out. I think you can guess which way I went on that one! Being strong sucks some times but the alternative sucks even more. So for now I take a lot of pictures of the kids and their adventures, I instant message my husband little things all through the day so I won’t forget to tell him all these priceless moment, and I remember to thank God that he IS going to come back to us in just 180 days. There are families whose dad isn’t coming back. We are blessed and extremely fortunate that this separation is temporary.  Until we are all together as a family again I will continue to make lemonade out of lemons and hope you will join me for the journey!

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