Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Open Road

We did it! We loaded up the minivan and survived the cross-country trek from Dallas to Chicago. The attached photo is a stock photo from but our minivan looks exactly like this and I wanted you to visualize our experience.

Day One: We left Dallas about 11:30 a.m. and made it to West Memphis by 6:00 p.m. The children did pretty well....I overdosed them on electronics, of course!

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make the trip a little educational. Our trip route took us from Texas to Arkansas, and as boring as the state sounds, there are a lot of neat sites to behold on I-30 Eastbound. We traveled through Hope, Arkansas, (birthplace of Bill Clinton), Hot Springs, Arkansas (home to Hot Springs National Park) and Little Rock, Arkansas (home of the Clinton Presidential Library).

A fun game that we were able to play while in Arkansas is "I Spy the word Walmart." Being the home of the infamous Sam Walton, the word "Walmart" is everywhere. From stores, to delivery trucks, to gas stations, it is obvious what store is king there.

The Day One drive would not have been complete without my friends at Starbuck's and Meringue Bakery in Dallas. While Starbuck's is known for the "fancy" drinks, they also have a special energy pack of ginseng that you can add to any drink. The cashier took one look at the three kids and joklingly said, "I'll give you an extra energy pack on looks like you will have a long day." I accepted the offer, however, was definitely not prepared how it would affect me. Road Trip Tip #1: Know how your body reacts to energy drinks before you partake! Cupcakes from Meringue are simply fabulous...they melt in your mouth and the flavor is amazing.

For road-tripping Texans this summer, be weary of our state's rest stops. We did not see an open rest area along I-30 and a couple of weeks ago we were on I-20 for a family funeral, and the same occured then. I did misjudge the number of bathrooms turns out we did have to stop every hour to an hour and a half or so. All of us had busy bladders!

Many of the budget-minded blogs that I subscribe too (thanks Christie!) mention all kinds of rebates, free items, etc. for consumers who present a gas receipt. In most cases, it doesn't matter how much or where you get your gas, but it may be worth your while to save your receipt every time you fill up...even while road tripping!

At the end of Day One, here's what I noticed: About an hour a way from our destination, everyone (including myself) got ansy! The children were arguing, I was impatient and jittery (remember the double energy packs) and more than anything we wanted to be done with the driving! On the road at that moment, I made two very important decisions.

1. Even though I am travelling alone with three small children, I need to figure out a way to do some night driving. The darkness soothes them and encourages quiet.

2. When physical fights ensue and we are on the highway, I let them go at it. In 15 minutes, they have worn themselves out and are too weary to speak.
Stay tuned...tomorrow, we roll into the Windy City!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Am I Really About to Do This?

Tomorrow morning I am doing something that I am not even sure I should be doing. I am packing up three children (incredibly cute and intelligent; however they are children nonetheless) and we are driving to Chicago to spend the summer with my parents. While it's nice to say that this journey begins right now, it really began eight years ago when I got married. My husband and I have been seperated for a little over 6 months now, and our lives have taken challenging and unusual turns.

You see, before I got married, I was the epitome of the single-twentysomething woman. I dated a lot (cutie patooties), spent quality time with friends, was adventurous, and high-spirited. Through the years, I've settled into common wifey and mommy roles which sometimes included side effects of neglecting myself and experiencing sleep deprivation, depression, emotional eating, an overactive thyroid that could only be controlled when stress was under control, and premature gray hair.

When I moved out of the house my husband and I shared with our three children, it felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. I didn't have to walk on egg shells, I could cook gumbo for Christmas dinner, I could buy generic foods, and I could decorate my new place any way I want.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn't see my separation as such a great thing. I quickly discovered that the more honest I became with what was happening in our personal lives, the more I subjected our family to unfair judgements, prejudice, and chastising by people who were not in my circle. While I am grateful for the friends and family who helped us through the trials and turmoils (and throughout the summer, I'm you'll read about the nitty gritty details), I need time away from Dallas to process the past six months and plan for the future.

Why Chicago? It's home. My parents live there and I am relishing the opportunity to go to my childhood home and snuggle with my stuffed animals in my old room. I need a sense of stability right now and that's the place I'm seeking it. While Chicago in the summer is fun, I also plan to use the open road to do a lot of thinking.

Our estimated time of departure is noon Thursday! I'll update the travels as events warrant (and as I have internet access). Here's to a fun and enlightening summer!