I cannot believe it’s been over a week since my last post…
Damn that Rockband!!
The pile of laundry to catch up on is hopeless. So help me, I will never pick up another drumstick – I have blisters!
But always one to ‘over-do’ it, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
As I’m typing, I’m noticing that my arms are two distinctly different colours. My right is it’s normal, pale, freckled self, albeit, with a giant blotch on it reminiscent of Jupiter’s Red Spot – the result of a losing battle with a lab nurse last week. The left is considerably pinker. In between the darker brown freckles.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day outside, that I waited out the afternoon for the girls at school in the van with a good book. Actually, it was more like an hour than an afternoon. And sure enough, I’m now lopsided. No ‘easing’ out of summer for me. No sir.
I get an idea into my head and I’m off and running with it.
Take last year’s March Break. The school board decided to tack an extra day onto the week off, giving me my family for ten whole days. When the Dad got home on the Thursday, looking relieved, if not excited, he sat himself at the desk, swiveled to face me, and opened with, “So what are we doing this week?”
He should know better by now…
I looked down at the crap flooring under my feet and offered up, “Well, for about $500 we can redo the floor all the way into the kitchen!” And oh, how we needed a new floor!
He was not amused.
I wasn’t trying to be funny.
He promptly countered with, “We should zip out to P.E.I. for the break.”
Nobody ‘zips’ out to the east coast for a week. But he’d been talking about wanting to drive out there for years. It was just that time and money never agreed with him.
I looked at the floor, ran some quick numbers through my head, looked him in the eye and said, “Ok.”
He began to argue against the floor. He had been working far too hard too long. He missed the summer vacation last year. He had an itch. He could ‘teach’ the kids en route…
“Ok,” I repeated.
He took a deep breath, ready to go off again when it hit him.
“What are you up to?” he accused.
“Nothing. I think it’s a good idea.”
He immediately took the other side. “But we don’t have the money. The engine light’s on in the van. We have no time to plan.”
Sometimes I don’t understand how he makes it through a day.
“I’ll tell you what. You take the van into the CarGuy tomorrow. You were going to do that anyway ’cause the engine light’s been on for a year now. If he can fix the van for under, say $1000, we’ll go.”
The Husband just sat open mouthed.
“I used the income tax to clear off the entire credit card,” I explained. “I vote, ‘What the hell!'”
“So it’s all up to CarGuy?” He was trying to absorb.
“Okay,” he agreed smugly, like he was calling my bluff…
The next morning, the Dad had Nana follow him out to CarGuy’s place. The oldest boy had spent the night at a friend’s. Our next had friends sleeping over here. So, with a ‘Happy Friday!’ smile on my face, I made my way down to the kitchen to start a ‘big breakfast.’ Nothing gets kids out of bed faster than bacon.
By the time I had food on the table and a dozen sleepy faces loading plates with eggs and pancakes, Nana walked in the front door.
I felt a little panic. Oh no. We lost the van.
“Where is he?”
“Isn’t he here yet,” she asked, apparently oblivious to my take on her losing my husband.
“Well, he left before I did, so he should be here any minute.” And she sat down to eat.
Sure enough, about a minute later, he walked in the door.
He had to get gas, he explained.
“And CarGuy says the van’s fine. Rotated the tires, checked it out, found the problem with the light in the dash, no charge.”
“Yeah, he just wants a case of some beer you can only get in P.E.I.” he grinned encouragingly. “So yeah?” he asked.
“You’re serious,” Nana checked.
“With your crew you should get some insurance,” she warned.
The Dad and I looked at each other. We have bought travel insurance every single time we’ve every traveled. And we have needed that insurance virtually every single time we have traveled. Hmm. This was our first time out of province since becoming a family of seven… Wonder how much that was going to be.
“I’ll pick up the boy and stop at CAA. If it’s not too much, we’re off.”
Funny how you can have a complete conversation that involves your children, right in front of your children, and they won’t notice a thing.
Yet whisper someone’s name in the next room and…
So I picked up the boy from his friend’s house and we stopped at CAA, me excited, him confused. Seven of us, ten days, out of Province, maybe out of country. I didn’t know what to expect.
“It’ll be double if you want to cross over into the States,” she warned.
“Double what?” I wondered apprehensively.
“Well, it’s $22.”
“Each?!” Times 7. Times 2. Okay.
“No, for the seven of you.”
“So, $44 for all of us for the week?”
“Yes,” she said carefully, as if this was going to change my mind.
“Sign us up!” I decided.
The boy was baffled.
“Where are we going?”
“I have no idea.”
He seemed okay with that.
We zipped home to make the announcement. I sat the whole family in the living room. It was 1:00.
“Who wants to go on a vacation?”
Seven hands up.
“Grab your school backpacks and empty ’em out. Look at what you’re wearing right now and go get one more of everything you have on and shove it in your bag. Find your bathing suits and goggles and meet us out in the van in a half hour.”
Dad and I did likewise. I packed up a lego bin full of toiletries.
As we’re heading out the door, the youngest pipes up with, “What about the dog?”
Crap!! The dog! Everybody used every cell phone in the house and called everyone we knew, but no one could take the little 5-pound toy poodle we had inherited from the friend of a friend. What happened to all those “Ahhhh! She’s so cute! If you ever want to get rid of her I’ll take her!” people? No choice but to take her along. We’d manage.
We stopped and bought each kid a disposable camera, a blank notebook, and a pen. This was an eduvacation after all! We made a quick stop at the grocery store for road food, got gas, and were on the highway by three with nothing but a VISA card!
A week later we returned home from our edventure. 4,500 km and about that much money later, we’d had the trip of a lifetime. We slept in all of the capitals east of Ottawa. We saw a moose. Witnessed an explosion. Met a lot of people. Played some great games in the van. (No DVD player for us…) Took a ferry across the Bay of Fundy. Stayed in hotels. Lost a kid and the dog. Found the kid and the dog. And survived the snow storm of the year while driving home 17 hours from Fredericton. (I really did think we were going to die at that point. It’s still a sore spot in our marriage…)
But with no plan. No reservations. Just a credit card and a map. We discovered a little piece of Eastern Canada, the most beautiful place on earth. It was just a taste, but we jumped in with all eighteen feet and had a fabulous time – a trip the kids will remember forever. We have some wonderful memories and a slew of pictures – many of which are pictures of the face of the one kid who never did figure out which way to point the camera!
It was yet one more thing we rushed into that turned out to be absolutely and totally worth it!
Kinda like havin’ kids in the first place!
Now we just have to figure out how to get back out there…