Some of you may be asking why I did it. I did it because my friend Amy did it with her kids when she came to visit me a few months ago. She left at 4 in the morning and her children slept happily in her car. They were well-behaved, ate, watched movies and I think they sang, too. I, too left at 4 in the morning. Unfortunately, my little buttercups didn't sleep. We were doing well until I hit Columbus, Ohio (it's only 90 minutes from home!) and headed due east into the blinding sun that came streaming into all of the windows of my vehicle. It quickly went downhill from there. Ultimately, I made only two stops. I went into towns with a Walmart near the highways(St. Clairsville, OH and Carlisle, PA) and let the children run around like freaks up and down the aisles for 30 minutes and then would feed them at the McDonald's inside the stores. That seemed to work well. What DIDN'T work well was my attempt to emulate Amy's "peeing in a diaper so you don't have to go to a public restroom with two wild children who like to touch stuff" thing. See, Amy has this great way of being able to take care of business without having to leave her car by using one of her son's diapers and a plastic container for easy disposal. My attempt did not work so well. I think it helps if you are a size two. I also don't think my windows are tinted enough. I couldn't help but think someone was going to drive by, see me sitting at the wheel and say, "Yep, she's peeing into a diaper." I believe that on my next big trip I will slap on a Depends and call it a day.
New Jersey was an absolute blast. We spent the first 5 days with our friends Amy and Michael and their adorable children (who travel well!). The kids wore themselves out by playing hard each and every day. The weather was gorgeous so we went to several parks and lots of picnics:
By 7:15 every night the kids were all in bed and we would fall into chairs outside and relax. And then we would fall into our beds in exhausted heaps.
Herr flew in on Friday afternoon. He had spent the week keeping our house clean for NO ONE to come and look at our house (It's for sale. On Realtor.com. Virtual tour and everything! Email me if you want to buy it.) He also didn't want to take any vacation days since he wants to be paid for them when his employers kicks him to the curb on June 30. Don't feel too sorry for Herr. Technically every single day at work is now a vacation since he doesn't actually work. He rolls in around 9:00 ish and spends a couple of hours searching for the end of the internet (his latest report is that he is close.) Then he goes and works out at the company gym, eats lunch, goes back to his desk for an hour to look at houses on Realtor.com that we may or may not be able to afford in the Easton, PA/Western NJ area. Lately, he has been home by 2:30 pm. No lie. Who WOULDN'T want to stay home and do that?! At any rate, we spent one more night with our friends eating, drinking, and pondering our childrens' futures. It was great.
On Saturday we said our goodbyes and headed to Merchantville, NJ, which is right next to Cherry Hill, which is just outside of Philadelphia. The entire reason we came out to New Jersey was for our friends who host an annual Horse Track party at Monmouth Race Track. Our friends Lisa and Albert rent a grove and have boatloads of family, friends, food and drink. Four families stay at Lisa and Albert's house that weekend. With kids, it totalled 17 people in their house. You have to realize that Lisa and Albert live a very quiet and unassuming life in a quiet and unassuming neighborhood. Then there is that one weekend a year when the neighbors look out their windows and see all of these people streaming out of their house around 10:30 Sunday morning to head to the track. I am sure it probably looks not unlike a clown car.
The event, as always, was a blast. The food was great. I distinctly remember some brownie cookies and bacon wrapped pretzel rods that were then dipped into something sweet. I don't believe there were any huge winners at the party this year. Last year, our friend Jenny won $1100 and one of Lisa's friends won $8K on the last race. While Herr and I are never huge winners, I was CLEARLY not playing my A-Game. We won nothing. We spent nearly the entire time chasing Peaches, who kept trying to sneak out of the grove with her stroller, no doubt to look for a newer, nicer family. As a result, I haphazardly placed my bets instead of studying the names of the horses and deciding which name I liked the most. The winner of the $8K was nice enough to host a little contest at the party. There was a jar of coins for all of us to guess the amount. The winner won an iPod Nano. I thought that was really nice, especially since Jenny took her winnings and went to Italy. She did call us from Florence while we were at the track, which was pretty cool.
The evenings were spent hanging out eating, drinking and playing poker. Baby Girl was old enough to really play with the big kids this year, which was so cool to watch. The kids had flashlights and went searching for bears they had seen in the yard. She just seemed so much older this weekend. Don't get me wrong--we still had temper tantrums over really stupid stuff, but she was in heaven.
I had been dreading the drive home, but it ended up being fine. All of the construction I had encountered on the PA Turnpike earlier in the week had been cleared away for holiday traffic which shaved an hour off of our trip.
Now, before you get all worked up about how I took this picture, relax. It was no different than someone driving and talking on a cell phone. Or driving and rooting around on the seat next to you to find the quarter you lost for the toll. Truth be told, I took a ton of photos and this was the best one.
So now we are back in Ohio, waiting around for someone to buy our house so that we can move back to NJ. I am also trying to plan my next trip taking place in a few weeks. I do believe I may fly.