WOW! There really isn’t a way to cram into this one post all we’ve done in the past 4 weeks but I will try to catch the highlights and share them with you in hopes they will ‘light’ up ideas for your family and crew! (Perhaps 4 or more posts will come out of this past 4 weeks!)
First, upon coming home from the Dominican Republic, Emily and Anna had a couple days to finish preparations to leave home headed for college! In just a couple days they completed the last cramming and jamming packing along with too swift good-byes to friends and family. Perhaps it was better for all of us that it was quick – less painful when you don’t fully realize what is happening, right?
Remember our Utah-to-Canada-to-Florida trip with 10 kids (2 little babies)?? Perhaps that was good preparation and made this trip to Utah, with 20 items to check as luggage (2 carseats included) so we could get Emily and Anna moved out there to BYU and be at both our family reunions, a breeze!
Well, ‘breeze’ would be exaggerating just a little perhaps. After starting out hours in advance we made it through the delays of construction, a huge tour bus showing up at the gas station we stopped at, and a few security issues that held us up in the security line. In the end we were RUNNING to our flight and made it, sweaty and out of breath, JUST as they announced ‘family boarding’. Phewph!
We filed onto the plane- which is a rather long file, more like a parade, and I am soooo grateful for the friendly faces of KIND, PATIENT people smiling us on even amidst our accidentally bonking them from time to time with a bag or two on our backs as we try to hold or help a child or two down the isle! They smile kindly even amidst their bafflement at such a LONG family train and then they can no longer hide their shock at either how many we have or at finding twins in the mix.
It had been a bit stressful getting on board, even Sarah and Adelynn walked part of the parade by themselves, as Mike and I both had armloads of backpacks, bags and blankets. They were separated in the rush and as I found my seat with Sarah she immediately started asking in a worried tone, “Addie? Addie? Addie?” She was looking for her sis, makin’ sure she was OK. I reassured her that Adelynn was right in front of us but she was not content until I stood her up on the seat to see for herself that Addie was there in the row in front of us with Daddy and Anna.
Sarah & Adelynn were soo happy to see each other and seemed to sense our great relief at being onboard and in our seats that they started laughing and kissing one another spontaneously right over the top of the seat. They were great comic relief to us and the rows of people around us. Lots of oohs & awhhhs.
Mike and I remarked how that may have been one of the smoothest trips to and through the airport ever! The rest was a cinch :-). Non-stop 5 hour flight with a little entertainment from the back-packs and a nap for everyone and we arrived.
Packing and Traveling tips for a family (or ANYONE):
-roll your clothes, you can DEFINITELY fit more! (I like rolling whole outfits including undies and socks together for the little ones. Kate and Mikela had an ultra-cool way to fold up their shirts they discovered on pinterest. Look how NEAT Kate’s suitcase looked! :0 Just be sure your suitcase doesn’t get over 50 lbs!)
-start packing at least a week before (sometimes I start even further out than that) and aim to finish packing a day before the trip. That way I am sure to capture all the clean clothes I want – a calmer way than scrambling through piles of clean (or dirty) laundry for that ONE shirt I wanted!
-each of the children carry one carry-on backpack that has little entertainment activities for the car including some personal snacks for the road, a favorite stuffed animal or toy, a couple books to read (light ones – not bulky!), always something to write with and on (think clean though!), and some mind-stretching workbooks (anything from a kids geographic travel log to word searches and IQ & logic games – take advantage of those miles!).
-great road activities for kids: those little etch-a-sketch boards, any little travel games, always some paper and something to color with – a new coloring or game book goes a long way when it comes to entertainment in a car or plane (preferably with a coloring item that won’t get all over everything!), bendables are the BEST! (especially decorating car windows with them), of course leappads, gameboy DS’s, kindles, ipads and such are handy (though we didn’t use ANY of those this trip!) We also didn’t have any video access in the car which is kind of great because we actually sing together and laugh and play more car games that way, classics like “I Spy”, “The Alphabet Game”, “I Packed My Suitcase”, and “Twenty Questions” are still our very favorites. Our song list for the little ones are action songs like “Popcorn popping”, “Eensy Weensy Spider”, “In a Cottage in the Woods”, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock”,”Five little Speckled Frogs”, “Five Little Monkeys”, etc… and rounds for big kids like “Horsy, Horsy”, “Chairs to Mend”, songs like “Sippin’ Cider through a straw”, and tons from the Primary songbook!
-Avoiding hunger and boredom, strategically assigning seats in the car, and trying to get enough rest somehow goes a long way to keeping people happy on the trip!
-Just know from the get-go there will be hassles and hold-ups, unplanned delays and obstacles to climb over on your way. “Come what may and LOVE IT!!” We usually end up laughing at it all – in the end at least!
– have ONE BATHROOM bag that everything from shampoos and deodorants and toothbrushes and make-up and vitamins and hair supplies to any extra medicine you bring along can go in! Put anything that could leak in a big zip-lock baggy. Best that Mom has control over this bag and keeps it close and handy for the whole family to use! Keeps things from getting spread too far, lost, or too confusing!
-pack ONE SWIM bag for the whole FAM! We keep it always packed like this under a laundry room cupboard. It has everyone’s swimsuits, cover-ups, sun-screen and swim toys so we just grab and go when the opportunity to swim arrives!
And once we arrived we felt that incredible net of family encircle all around us and lift us up just like our incredible families always do!!
Mom and Dad Hoffman met us at the airport along with sisters and brothers and cousins – they all brought along several cars to load those 18 bags and 2 carseats into! It was SOOOO HAPPY and we were all filled with REJOICING in our hearts for being together with those that mean so much to us!!!
Mike’s parents so graciously let us crash in their basement apartment, which is HOME to ALL of us, not just Mike, for we all lived their the year Mike did fellowship at the UofU. It’s always fun to return but most especially because of the LOVE Grandpa and Grandma put into the place before we arrive – thoughtful, personal things, like the children’s favorite fruit on a bowl on the counter, my favorite, CEREAL, stowed in the cupboards with a gallon of fresh milk in the fridge, Mike’s favorite tortilla’s and salsa ready and on-hand, Clara’s very favorite go-gurts in the freezer, and always Grandma’s fruit-snacks available to children! Everything is so clean and nicely organized and it is wonderful that it is quite stationary too – it’s changed little since we stayed there 8 years ago now. So nice to come home. (It still makes me think of the very first time I got to go ‘home’ with my Michael, went right into his room with him! It was no longer off limits! We had been married that morning and everyone advised us to take a quick nap before the evening’s events. Of course I could not nap well snuggling in next to my handsome new husband on his very own bed, but what a treasure it was to get to just be with him, right there in the room where he had grown up! It was so nice to be ‘home’ with him. It still is!) We dropped all 18 bags of luggage in their familiar places and the girls happily claimed their familiar beds (Mikela was thrilled to take over Isaac’s old bed there) and we repacked for a quick Hoffman family reunion in the Uintahs and then…. we were OFF!!
– to be continued with AWESOME FAMILY REUNION IDEAS ahead!!!
CaMarie & Crew