Sunday, December 07, 2008

Welcome to Virginia

Our trip to Virginia started off with some early morning, last-minute packing. Almost all of our bags were in the van but I always have to cram something in at the last minute. Including the children. And the dog.

We see our entire family when we go home for Thanksgiving. Even my dad flies back from Colorado. I was born in Northern Virginia. Jason was born at the same hospital as me. Matthew was even born at the same hospital. (And this is a major metropolitan area too!) My mom was born outside the gate to Ft. Belvoir. My dad was born in Washington, DC. Both of my sets of grandparents worked at the Pentagon and raised my parents in Northern Virginia. It is truly my home. I love going back to visit!

Since we see everyone while we're there, we always bring all of our Christmas gifts for them. It saves on shipping and then we don't have to worry about them getting lost or broken in the mail.

Once I get the van packed up it looks something like this.

The boys are in the last row of our 12 passenger van. Delmar, our black lab/dalmation mix, sits between them on his comfy dog bed. Behind the boys is the twin stroller, 3 black duffel bags of clothes, 5 winter coats and all of our Christmas presents.

In the next row you'll find Nathan and Ryan. In the empty seat next to them I cram the diaper bag and a bag of other travel necessities. Under their row of seats I cram a few other various bags. On the floor between their row and the big boys' row is where I put Delmar's food and water dish and his container of food.

Leila and Sarah sit in the front row, right behind me. They are forward facing now so they can watch movies on the DVD player. Between their seats is a collection of dollies, Care Bears, and lavender blankies.

For this trip made each of the big kids a travel bag. It was just a plain tote bag that I appliqued. Matthew's bag had race cars, Joshua's had penguins, Leila's had Strawberry Shortcake, and Sarah's had Disney princesses. Inside were little goodies for the road like dry erase boards (bad idea) and coloring books. I kept the food up front with me.

I always travel with 2 coolers. One has snacks and packed lunches for our trip and the other has food for when we arrive. It's a good thing Jason wasn't riding up with me since the passenger seat was buried. Somewhere in that pile is my purse and a car organizer containing all of the kids' DVDs. We are literally packed in like sardines. Good times.

We made our first stop at South of the Border. I pulled into the parking lot and walked the dog and then we all sat in the van and ate breakfast. I'd packed our food so it was a pretty quick stop.

At our lunch stop I got gas and pulled around to the back of the gas station which was bordered by grass and trees. It was potty break time and the kids just went in the grass or in the little potty I brought. I fed everyone lunch and we were on the road again. We are super-efficient when we stop now!

Somewhere in North Carolina we pass this Paul Bunyan-looking lumberjack statue. It's one of the landmarks I use to judge how much driving I have left.

And then we see this sign! Finally, we're in Virginia. Once we get to this point we only have a few hours to go, depending on traffic. Wild cheers erupt from the back of the van.

At last we have arrived. This is the view from my sister-in-law's town. She lives over an hour from the rest of our family. She is way out in the 'burbs in what used to be farm country just a few years ago. Now the farms have been replaced by cookie-cutter subdivisions and shopping centers.

Interestingly enough, Jason and I are actually considering buying a house in my sister-in-law's town. Prices have dropped dramatically and we can afford a big house. I could move there next year while Jason is gone and then we could rent it when I go to Washington. If we do that I wouldn't move to WA until December and I'd be a heck of a lot closer to family. Maybe I wouldn't need a refugee au pair after all.
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