I have begun preparations for our vacation. The majority of our vacations the past, (many!) years, while wonderful are, predictable. Starting when Daniel was 3 would would make our trek to Northern Michigan. The first year we stayed in a hotel and after that, my in laws started to rent houses. This was very nice in terms of food preparation etc. But for Daniel is started to be difficult because it would take him half of the vacation to get "used" to where we are staying. This is, of course, before I became a pro at preparation. Be Prepared. The motto of the boy scouts and of The Sneathen Family. I have learned, right along with Daniel how to best prepare him for trips.
It's been a while since I've had to do it. Partially because Todd's parents BOUGHT a house in Northern Michigan. This, obviously, helped a huge amount with Daniel. After the first time, he always knew what to expect. Our other vacations have revolved around visiting my aunt in Florida. She lives in Sarasota, Florida, which is beautiful. So each time we've gone there it has been the same house, pool, beach. Convenient. We are very very lucky indeed. There were two Walt Disney World (WDW) vacations thrown in there which needed a great deal of preparation. But basically we have been in a vacation groove. Not a RUT. No way. I would never describe having wonderful accommodations at our feet a rut. It's been wonderful. In a few days we leave for our regular northern trek. It is going to be much shorter than the usual because we have another vacation on the horizon. One that is causing my head to constantly swirl with activity about preparation.
My eastern cousins and the Michigan cousins have talked for years about getting together again. When we were kids it happened with some regularity. Since we are now all adults with our own families that has predictably fallen off. My Aunt and Uncle, last year, celebrated their 50th anniversary. There was talk of a giant celebration. Never happened. Last spring two of my cousins and I flew out for a wedding reception. It was wonderful. I hadn't realized how much I missed that part of my life. This is my mother's side of the family and she has been gone for (gulp) 16 years now. Unbelievable.
I also have become a genealogist part time and have spent countless hours looking into our family history. Facebook, believe it or not has also come into play. I LOVE facebook and spend a LOT of time (yes, too much) on it. It has been a wonderful way to reconnect with these relatives. Which brings me to this trip. I finally decided I wanted to go back and I wanted my kids to KNOW these people. Not only that, I thought it may be a great idea to DRIVE out to see them. I think nostalgia was getting the best of me because I hate driving anywhere. Ever since Daniel was 7 and I (ahem) experienced our first flight with him, I have taken the opinion that we can get on a plane and endure 2 1/2 hours instead of 20 hours driving. Makes sense. He does well on a plane. It is still a lot of work, don't get me wrong, but it is relatively painless. The memories of my childhood and driving to Massachusetts with my cousins got the better of me. I decided that we would all DRIVE together! My cousin and her family are driving too. Just like the old days! Well almost. We aren't all going to be sardined into an air conditionless station wagon together. We will be in separate cars stocked with Nintento DS's and Ipods. Daniel however, gets car sick and watching movies and playing video games doesn't work so well for him. But on the way we are stopping for an overnight. We are spending the night in Niagara Falls.
Daniel has researched Niagara on the internet and I believe this is what he is most looking forward too. The kids LOVES water. He has tried to create his own personal waterfall in our house when he was younger by overflowing the toilet, (on purpose) and continuously flushing it so he could watch the water flow over and over. I discovered it by walking into the kitchen and there was a waterfall coming through our kitchen light to the floor. So the prospect of taking in the REAL waterfalls is very appealing. We are then driving the rest of the way and spending 4 days with our family. I was trying to count last night and very quickly came to 33 people. 33 people. That's a lot of stimuli. They are all strangers to him. They of course know of him, and his challenges. Some even follow this blog regularly. They all seem very receptive and understanding of the challenges ahead of us. We'll be ending our trip with 2 nights at the Cape. Cape Cod. All of these places have SUCH wonderful memories for me. I can't wait. I just hope that I am able to slow down a bit and take it all in myself. I hope I'm not so busy trying to keep Daniel prepared and over stimulated that I can relax some of the time. I hope they come away with the same wonderful memories that I have of this trip and they appreciate the love that will be sent their way. I hope we don't all kill each other in the car. What was I thinking?
I spent hours on Sunday writing Daniels social story. I've printed out maps for each leg of our trip. I've written stories about what to expect, what dates we'll be where. I copied pictures off the internet of the hotels we'll be staying in (all with indoor pools for plan B of bad weather) all with refrigerators and microwaves to handle our food "issues". I've put pictures in of the relatives with everyone's name. I think I'm ready. I just hope everyone is ready for US!
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