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Same shit different location. Part one of the Florida Trip Series.

When I first thought about taking the kids to Disney for our family vacation, I ordered the Disney vacation DVD and watched it. And then I heard the following: "planning for a vacation is almost as relaxing as being on one." Are you fucking kidding me?  Obviously, the person who wrote that script did not have kids or know anyone that did. "Just as good as"? Really? Fucking really?

Stop looking at me! No,YOU stop looking at me!

Disney World is the one trip they can have during their childhood that proves you weren't an absolute failure as a parent. We'll always have Disney. When they are doing their introspection in therapy, years from now, they can always say, "my parents took me to Disney world. I met Winnie the pooh and Tigger too, whoo hoo. They weren't that terrible." That should take some of the sting off.  But I digress. We figured it was a good time to take the kids to Disney. My cousins were in Jacksonville, Grandma was in Clearwater, and the kids all liked the same stuff, so I didn't have to worry about entertaining children with incompatible interests.

The problem was, we were going to have to drive. Seven plane tickets and renting a car was cost prohibitive. It was already going to cost us a lot of money just for the theme park tickets, not even mentioning meals. So I had to plan for the 13 hour trip. Hey Disney, How fucking relaxing is that going to be? I think I hate myself.  Packing for five kids and myself was crazy, but at least I had a system. I had several sets of e-bag travel cubes which come in different sizes and different colors. Each kid had a different color. I could open a bag and easily find the things I was looking for because everything was compartmentalized. #1 didn't wear short sleeve shirts until May, so I had to go digging in the hand-me-downs to find some. Can't have this kid wearing long sleeve shirts in Florida in June.

How was I going to prevent meltdowns, smack-downs, and scream fests during the road-trip? Tell me Disney, since this is so fucking relaxing. Benedryl? Valium? Ebay had some of the answers.

I scored several Nintendo DS games and a DS system on Ebay for very cheap. I also bought a second dual screen DVD player for the car, since the boys wanted to watch Star Wars and the girls were into My Little Pony. I then went to Five Below and bought them all headphones. That purchase alone, made the ride blissful at times. When the only sound is silence, and the kids are around and not sleeping, it is such a rare and special moment that you can almost hear the angels singing. Redrum. I bought some "Magic Pen" books and assembled goodie bags for each kid. I also made a stash of new things I could give them to avoid meltdowns and stuff for the way back. I was the prep-diva.

While I was packing the van, I noticed a cellophane wrapped bottle. My friend Adrienne left me a birthday present on the dashboard; a bottle of vodka and a 24 ounce cup. Score! She is the best person in the universe. At the very sight of that bottle, I was thanking all the gods that wanted to take credit. If there was ever a sign that said "Jesus, loves you", it was that bottle, on my car, on that day. Jesus for Jews. I'm on that.

We took off and planned a stop every three to four hours, so the kids wouldn't lose their minds. Later, I realized, I was the one who needed the break since I would get really stiff and my sciatica would flare up. We planned to stop over one night, eight hours into the trip. I packed one bag with all of our stuff for that night so we didn't have to sift through the van looking for stuff. It was quick and easy; one bag in, one bag out.

I  also packed a bag with extra clothes for the car. Which contained clothes just in case someone had an accident, car sickness, or made a mess. #2 and Twin S had a history of car sickness, so we were ready. In addition to my car-ready stash of video games, movies and clothes, I also had a package of baby wipes, handi-wipes, plastics diaper baggies and food.

Just imagine trying to pack food for the locusts. When they are at home, they are non-stop eating machines.  Now imagine them confined to a car with little to distract them. I knew that by the end of the trip the van would be absolutely trashed.#2 is allergic to wheat, eggs and dairy, so we had to pack-up his special foods for the drive and the entire trip. We also had to pack up the cereal that the girls MUST have every morning. At the end of packing, our car looked like we had just robbed Trader Joe's.

So how'd it turn out? #1 was car-sick the entire first leg of the journey. The poor kid was a puke-hound until we stopped in South Carolina for the night. Where's the Febreeze? I was really glad I packed extra clothes for him since we had to change him completely at our first stop. When we finally made it to Jacksonville on the second day, we got to take a nice break at my cousin's house. The kids got to swim in their pool, eat a nice meal, and bond with their cousins. We then did the last leg of the trip to Clearwater Beach to see Grandma for a few days before we headed to Disney. 

Was it terrible? Nah. It was fine. We had our share of crankiness and issues, not just from me, but the good outweighed the bad and the vodka bottle remained intact, both inside and outside.


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