After my recent road trip with the boys to NYC to visit Tiff and Brie, I started realizing some things that made my trip SO much nicer.
I ♥ my (Mom and Dad's) Magellan Maestro GPS. Oh my, this thing is wonderful. I was previously very skeptical about the reliability of these things. I've known too many people who use them and wind up in a vacant parking lot when it's directing them to the closest Friendly's or get more lost trying to use them than not. A couple years ago I borrowed one from a friend to get to calling hours in Syracuse and we were an hour and a half late because it was guessing at the address. I had my trusty Mapquest directions that eventually got us there but apparently since the GPS didn't know exactly where the address was, it guessed and it took us MILES out of our way (in the wrong direction!). Needless to say, I've been converted since that horrendous trip. While this thing did steer me wrong a couple times, it was more as the result of the steep learning curve associated with such devices than the actual directions it was giving. I know now that when it says to "keep to the right", that does not mean you must be all the way over to the right or you may end up getting off on an exit you did not mean to take. Oops! The GPS was fabulous to have on hand just to find our way to areas of interest once we got there. As a result, I took a leap of faith (unnatural for me!) and plugged in "Statue of Liberty" before we headed out of NJ and it led me to a fantastic park where I was able to snap some great shots of the Lady Liberty herself before heading home! It gave me a huge sense of confidence knowing that no matter what I'd get us where we needed to go safely (and know exactly when we'd arrive there!) No doubt I will be browsing Buy.com or Newegg.com for one of my very own shortly!!
I ♥ cruise control. Again, I was never much of a fan of it. I always went the way of the "more gadgets in a car make it more likely to break down" mentality. However, my new car had it automatically and I didn't want to pay more to get it without, that would have been silly. Let me tell you though, after a six-and-a-half hour car drive by myself with two small children under the age of 4, I am SO glad now that it had cruise control. I was able to concentrate more on driving and focus on where we were going (and not being too far right!). I could just chug along at the correct speed and not worry about getting a ticket (I do have a genetic lead foot, afterall!) or stress about maintaining speed so as not to annoy fellow drivers. It was fabulous! Not to mention the cramp I surely would have had driving all that way with my foot on the gas pedal!
I ♥ our cheap portable DVD player. I know I'm running into a pattern here, but I always thought these things (and the parents who used them) were the devil. I know, I know. I have since walked a mile in their shoes and can admit my transgressions. This silly little freebie we got for signing up for DirecTV (or whatever it was) was a life saver. Call me lazy, but I can't imagine entertaining my children by myself for 6 hours without it. And we only watched a couple movies on it the whole way there and back...the songs, books, games, and snacks I packed alone would not have worked to keep them (and ME!) sane for 6+ hours! I honestly don't know how parents did it "back when". I know they managed but I'm glad not to have had to.
I ♥ my iPod. Prior to leaving, I loaded that bad boy up with songs for our listening pleasure. (Finally those Classic Disney CDs I had to have years ago have paid off!) I've never used my iPod in my car before but it was fabulous to have a Serenity Now (yes, that's what I named it!) playlist at my fingertips. When the natives were growing restless I fired it up and distracted them with fabulous songs like "Cool to be Uncool" and "Do the Elephant" by The Jimmies. We rocked out to "We're Knights, That's Right" by The Backyardigans, and were even reminded to eat our vegetables with "Party in My Tummy" by Yo Gabba Gabba. Fanastic stuff, I tell you.
I ♥ my Joovy Caboose Ultralight double stroller. Of course I didn't use this on my drive down, but once we got there this thing was fabulous. While it's not always the easiest to steer (what IS with a total of 60+ lbs of kid on it), I love that it gives Nate freedom when he wants it and gives me control when he needs it. Alex just hangs out all day long riding along and Nate even fell asleep in it at one point and had room to snooze while I loaded it up with packages and bags and gear.
Most importantly, however, I ♥ my kids. They travelled so fantastically. Not only did they require only one (1!) stop in more than 6.5 hours of driving, but they did well the whole weekend. I had their schedules (napping, eating, sleeping) so screwed up yet they slept well and behaved considerably well, too! My favorite part of our trip into the City was when Nate charged a few steps ahead of me and ran into someone on the street. He totally wasn't watching where he was going and before I could say anything he looked at the lady and said "Oops, I'm sorry!". As I passed the woman I heard her say to her friend "How cute! That little boy just said he was sorry!". I was so proud!! The boys made the trip magnificent! I honestly had visions of frequent stops along our route to fetch dropped sippy cups, make potty breaks, yell, etc. Yet even in big boy undies, Nathaniel did fabulously and Alex was a trooper. They napped (albeit shortly) and snacked, watched a movie, listened to music, told stories, looked out the window at the mountains. The whole trip was fun and remarkably stress free! That makes me want to do it again! Where to next?!?