Last night our family returned from a last-minute road trip to visit family in Michigan, which we decided to take before Kelly started his brand new job today. We drove 450 miles on Friday, stayed two nights, and drove 450 miles back home yesterday. Visiting family was, of course, awesome! But some of the best part of the weekend was the time we spent traveling. It's not often we have 18+ hours of completely uninterrupted family time.
We don't have DVD players for the kids in the van. We watch little television at home, and have made a conscious decision not to have television in our vehicles, whether for everyday use or for longer trips. We made the decision after a trip to Florida when Bonnie was about two and a half years old, for which we had purchased a portable DVD player. It was one of the most peaceful car rides we've experienced; in fact, it was almost as quiet as when Kelly and I traveled before having children. Alas, we came home and returned the DVD player to the store, after realizing that maybe road trips with kids are supposed to be different than they were before having them, and wondering what sights and questions Bonnie had missed by looking at that screen instead of out her window.
Instead of watching DVDs, we listened to a lot of music on our trip. By a lot of music, I actually mean a little bit of music over and over again, because my kids usually listen to one thing they like until we all go crazy and need a break from it. For this trip, it was They Might Be Giants' Here Comes Science, which I've praised before. The music is ridiculously catchy and started a lot of questions and discussions about everything from white blood cells to electric cars. We're all still singing the songs today.
I brought a book to read aloud, not sure how it would go over in the car, but it worked out really well. I read about half of In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, some on the way up, and some on the return trip. We heard short creation stories from Native America, Siberia, Guinea, Melanesia, China, Russia, Benin, and Australia so far. The book isn't heavily illustrated, but we stopped after each story and discussed it a little before continuing. It was fun seeing the connections the kids made between stories. Bonnie decided she didn't particularly care for the way First Woman is often portrayed! We'll finish reading the book this week and I'm sure will enjoy learning more creation myths, including those from West Africa, Zambia, Iceland, Nigeria, Babylon, Tahiti, ancient Israel, Egypt, and India.
In addition to the things we did as a family, Bonnie brought along her own books to read, and the boys each had a couple of small toys to play with while Kelly and I talked and listened to the radio. Thanks to the suggestion of an awesome friend, on long car trips I bring along several wrapped dollar store toys for the kids to open along the way. As always, the little presents were a huge hit. We tried to stop often and only at places that allowed space for the kids to run around and stretch their legs and have fun. It was probably the second most peaceful long car ride that we've had since having kids.