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Our family is on the road again

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

It’s hockey season and that means two things in the Mullally household.

First, my husband takes complete control of the remote. Despite protests from our two-year-old who already demands to watch “her show” when we sit down in the living room after supper, her daddy now commands the remote control.

And secondly, the family truckster will be making regular trips eastward to Grand Forks to watch our beloved “home” team – the Sioux.

I wasn’t a hockey fan in my younger years and I often tell people that I’m a fan by marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the games. I also enjoy the break it gives us while Grandma and Grandpa graciously watch the kids, but it sure disrupts our lives. I think my husband is so blinded by the glare of the ice sheet, that he doesn’t even realize how much it stresses the family. But we just put on a smile and go along for the ride.

Weekend trips entail quite a lot of preparation on my part. My husband packs for one. I, on the other hand, have to pack for three people – me and our kids. Oh, my how things have changed since the kids came along. It used to be that we could go home, throw a few things in a bag after work and be on the road in 10 minutes. Now it’s a whole different story.

Not only do we pack an outfit for each day, we also pack the “just in case” clothes in the event of a wardrobe malfunction. A wardrobe malfunction when you have children could be any number of things. It could be a faulty diaper, excessive drool, or sweet potatoes that didn’t make it to their original destination, for instance. The wardrobe problem could be for either the kids or mom and dad. It’s pretty common for our shoulders to be full of drool and there’s no telling where those sweet potatoes will end up when those tiny fingers grab for anything within reach.

After we have six outfits jam-packed into the bag, we move on to the other essentials. We also pack bottles, diapers, wipes, food, formula, water, juice, milk, snacks of all kinds, toys, books, crayons, coloring books, blankets, pillows, and don’t forget the favorite baby doll.

But these days the most important, numero uno item that absolutely must make its way into the car is the box of DVDs. That has been our savior on road trips. We pop one of those DVDs in and we don’t hear a peep from Abby all the way to Grand Forks. It’s a stark contrast to the days when she would cry, wail and shriek for miles and miles. After surviving a year of those trips, I bow down to the gods of electronics for inventing built-in DVDs.

The key is to be prepared. I’m like a boy scout getting ready for a camp out. I still leave the house every weekend feeling like I forgot something.

As the hockey season goes on, I get a little better at streamlining. But every year as the season opens, we have to get used to lugging bags, and suitcases are bulging with stuff that we might not even need. But then again, you never know.

It’s a rule that it’s Mom’s job to think of everything. We have to be ready for every situation. Who does everyone turn to when things go amiss and we need wipes to clean up a juice mishap? Who’s the one who has to step up when we can’t find the crayons? That’s right, it’s Mom.

Growing up, I’d watch my Mom as she scrambled around the house to get everything ready before we headed off in the car for a road trip. Sure enough, my Dad was in his usual position out in the car laying on the horn thinking it was getting her to speed up. I’m pretty sure the only thing that it succeeded at was making her mad.

Now it’s me running around the house trying to remember everything as my husband is waiting impatiently in the car honking the horn trying to get me to hurry.

Oh, if men only knew that this makes us go just a little slower in silent protest.

The hockey team has their game strategy and I have mine.

Mullally is a Tribune writer.

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