Getting closer!

Getting closer!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blogging at a red light...

Driving. Been driving. Hanging in there, but tired. Whew.

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10PM/11PM updates, combined

I was composing the 10PM update when we stopped for gas. We just stopped in Pintlala, AL. Pintlala? Really?! Make fun of FL names like "Choctawatchee" all you want. Pintlala is a funny name.

Took a little time to figure out how to open the gas tank. It was still raining, too.

We are now toodling thru Montgomery, AL, switching from one interstate to another. The kids seem to have found a 2nd Not so much. I'm gonna try for a nap so I can drive in the wee hours.

I'm not very optimistic. :(

GPS now says we'll arrive @ 10:24AM.
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9PM Update

We're on I-65...mile marker 90. Val & I already got into the Slim Jims & Diet Mountain Dew.

I plugged my iPod into the USB jack & seem to have mucked things so that the radio is kind of frozen on a screen that says, "BT AUDIO: SetuP
No BT Audio Players selected.


Val is currently swearing vehemently at a particularly large & disgusting bug splat right in her line of sight. She's also making up words...

Mac finished his 1st worksheet & proclaimed it "interesting." I said that was good, as he was getting a new one tomorrow. He's texted me 4 times since we left to say he's going to bed now. Ha!

Bella is doing something behind me - I'm not sure what it is but she's quiet. Strike that. She started fretting - yes, *fretting* that "I just don't know what to do with my DS..." I suggested the floor, perhaps...quickly followed by another suggestion less anatomically feasible.

Bubba? He's watched Toy Story 1.5 times now, & hasn't moved (except to yawn) or spoken for about 20 minutes. I keep turning the volume down a little at a time, hoping he'll just give up & go to sleep.

GPS now says we'll arrive at 10:10AM...I wonder now if it changes with the time zones? Hmm...guess we'll find out! More later!
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On the road!

We're finally on the road, after a few false starts. The GPS claims that we'll arrive in Virginia Beach at 10:15 AM. We are more than a little skeptical. There's no setting for "traveling with 3 children" on my Garmin, so it obviously doesn't know what's in store. Ha! More later!
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Chow time!

Pulling in at dinner!
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Let's go!!

Looks like EVERYONE'S ready to go!
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Locked & loaded

You're looking at enough luggage, snacks, crafts, electronics, & bedding to maintain our band of merry men...and women...for a road trip of epic proportions. We hope. We are now all packed up except for the cooler & ourselves. We'll eat dinner after Val gets off work, then get on the road. We intend to update hourly once we get on the road. That is your final warning. :)
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They see her rollin, they hatin (Jen in our rented Swagger Wagon, or Swaggon)

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What EVERY road trip needs:

These little ethnically diverse guys are going to eventually become mummies. (See the SwaggHunt for details.) They start out so cute & innocent...
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Our little traveling companions

So remember when I posted the other day and said I couldn't tell you what all I'd been doing? That the results were a surprise? Well, Val and I decided this morning that it was far too hilarious to put off any longer, and we had to spill the beans. I submit two photos for your consideration first:
Picture 1:

Meet Little Bit, our niece. She and Teresa can't come with us this year, and we were really bummed about we decided to do something about it.

Picture 2:
Mine and Val's dad and step-mom, AKA Daddoo and Nannoo. They sent this pic to all three of us Tucker girls less than a month ago. Anyone that knows my father knows exactly how hilarious this picture is; flip-flops, guitar, shorts....and last but not least, "HOWDY"? It boggles the mind!

So, I won't go into the (demented) creative process that led to the outcome. Straight to the results!! We originally planned to take pictures throughout the vacation with our new companions, post them here, and wait for y'all to notice. I took some pics of our growing pile of "stuff to take" today and we immediately decided to spill the beans. Here they are:

So there ya go. That's what I was doing to prepare for our vacation. Is any of this arts & crafts stuff necessary for vacation? Pff, no way! But are we gonna have fun with it? Oh...yes, yes we will.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our shopping booty - er, BOUNTY!

After Sam's Club we hit up the Dollar Tree and then Wal Mart. Pictured here you see:

From Sam's:
-Mini bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos
-Cheddar cheese Combos
-Animal crackers
-Assorted (Whole Grain!) Crackers
-Easy Mac

From Dollar Tree:
-Assorted glow-in-the-dark stuff for ALL the kids we'll hang with on the 4th of July
-Plastic bowls for our kids for on the road
-Val's Lemon Heads

From Wal Mart:
-Masking tape (see the SwaggHunt)
-Crazy glue
-Assorted individual drink mixers
-2 gallon drink cooler
-individual ranch dressing cups
-Cocoa Puffs
-Golden Grahams
(The last 3 are for S'mores snacks)

Not pictured (as they were put away):
-baby carrots
-jersey sheets (for the air mattress)

We had a spectacular time. I was concerned that Dollar Tree was going to ask us to the time we finished shopping we were all punchy & there was quite a bit of booty shakin' in the aisles.

Much of what we purchased today is road snacks for 2 adults, 2 kids, & a toddler. We're assuming this should last us there & back, unless we get really, really lost.

The Spaghettios & Easy Mac are so we don't immediately deplete our gracious hosts' locusts. A plague of Tucker girls and their spawn!

Rather than bringing sodas or juice boxes we're gonna bring refillable water bottles, a 2 gallon water jug, & drink mix.

We're getting the craft stuff together, too, & I just realized that I need to start packing soon. Doh! Better get off here & onto something productive.
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No nutritional value...

So our first stop, Sam's, turned up a plethora of processed foods. Shloads of animal crackers, combos, 50 (yes 50) mini bags of doritos, a box of 100 slim jims, something like 3 pounds of peanuts, spaghetti-o's, easy mac, and assorted crackers. Whew. Now on to purchase more (and hopefully healthier) foods!
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mario Kart, revisited

So I posted about Mario Kart. Nintendo has official names for all the characters and such on Mario Kart. We know this. However, when you're in first place racing your sisters, a few in-laws or your nieces and nephews and the third "POW" hits you right after a blue shell pulverized you, you don't really give a crap. Between the bunch of us, we've come up with our own names...some of which are less than polite. The bane of our collective Mario Kart existence? Zappy Touch. I don't know what it's actual name is - and don't care, really, because "Zappy Touch" sums it up perfectly. Don't play MK? This is an item you can get that will temporarily increase your speed, and then suddenly shrink you and make you lose all your other items. The only GOOD thing (of course, this depends on whether you HAVE the Zappy Touch or whether you're RUNNING from the Zappy Touch) about Zappy Touch is that before you're zapped, you can bump another racer and pass it off to them. :) We have come up with VERY creative ways to avoid Zappy Touch. I made a Zappy Touch to take on the trip. Here he is:
Isn't he beautiful? He's two-sided, as well. He's almost too cute to use in the SwaggHunt, so there is a possibility that he'll be hung from the rear view mirror and used to Zappy Touch idiot drivers around us. We'll make new ones. He'll almost surely be featured in many pics from the trip, so you'll see this guy again.

The Official SwaggHunt List

A scavenger hunt for citizens of the Swaggon - a game of a game of logic, resourcefulness, and creativity
The object of the game: To obtain the highest number of points working together as a team Participants: Mac and Bella (participation is open to any other children interested in helping)
To the winner goes: the spoils of victory! Cash & prizes await the winners upon our return home. Also? A trophy. With your name on it. Seriously. So get busy!
Judging Panel: Your loving mothers, and any other adults they choose to conscript for judging purposes

Swagghunt Rules:

1.) This scavenger hunt is not a contest between players; rather, it is a contest for the players to complete together. So remember: you are not playing AGAINST your cousin, but WITH him/her. YOU MUST WORK TOGETHER.

2.) Unless noted, the judging panel prefers that items be worked on and completed AS A TEAM. Exceptions to this rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis but is not guaranteed.

3.) You must complete one task/item before starting another, lest the Swaggon be filled with half-completed craft projects. If you don't feel like working on a certain project anymore, either hurry up and finish it (and risk point loss for shoddy work) or else take a break for a while.

4.) Each item is marked with a maximum number of points that can be awarded for its' completion. Complete each task to the best of your ability and your efforts (AS A TEAM!) will be judged (at a date and time TBD). Total points will be calculated and the prize(s) received will be based on these total points.

5.) If an argument takes place while a task is being completed, points will be taken away for that task. The shotgun occupant will keep track of this and points will be deducted at judging. Discussion is fine, arguing is not. Should a discussion occur that SOUNDS like an argument, you will be given the benefit of the doubt and one warning will be given. If, after that warning, the discussion continues to sound like an argument, point deduction will occur.

6.) Anything you make, unless noted otherwise, will need to be carefully saved for judging purposes (and possibly for other items on the hunt). A box will be supplied for this purpose.

7.) You may ask for assistance from an adult, but keep in mind that they have the right to refuse. This is YOUR game, after all, and YOU will be winning the prizes. If you do not fully understand a task, you may ask for and receive clarification, but help is entirely at the whim of the person you are asking.

8.) Some items just require being seen to be checked off and receive points. However, your sighting MUST be verified by an adult. Checking off 'dog in rear windshield' without having it verified by an adult will result in not only forfeiting the possible points, but also deduction of that amount of points from your total. Sighted items require the initials or signature of the adult who verified it. If the shotgun adult occupant is busy when you need verification, you may politely ask the driver to verify, but the driver retains right of refusal since they are so busy. If you cannot get an adult to verify your sighting, you must wait and hope you see the same item again. If you complain about this occurring, you will lose points.

9.) Props: all props must be mad props. (Shout out to UofC ScavHunt!)

ITEMS TO SEE (requiring verification!):
______ License plate from a foreign country (Hawaii does NOT count) (1 point)
______ 8 motorcycles in a row (2 points)
______ someone wearing green flip flops (1 point)
______ Car with no hood (2 points)
______ Mini-Cooper (1 point)
______ Smart Car (2 points)
______ Car with a mattress tied to the roof (3 points)
______ School Bus (2 points)
______ Foam dice on a mirror (1 point)
______ Dog (alive) in rear windshield (2 points)
______ Bobble-head dog in rear windshield (1 point)
______ Duct-tape car repair (2 points)
______ Sign that says "Hot Coffee" (1 point)
______ Car with more than 8 bumper stickers (2 points)
______ Sign with bullet holes (2 points)
______ Cows, ALL cows lying down (3 points)
______ Cows, at least 20 cows (count quickly! 5 points)
______ Cows, ONLY ONE (2 points)
______ Explain what is wrong with the above item (3 points):
______ Sign that says something about "Falling Rocks" (2 points)
______ Horse and Buggy (2 points)
______ jet ski on trailer (1 point)
______ jet ski NOT on trailer (10 points)
______ person riding jet ski not on trailer (20 points, and hey, it could happen)
______ people taking picture of themselves by a road sign (1 point per person)
______ Skunk, dead or alive (2 points, 10 points if it's dead and smelly and you take deep breaths through your nose for the duration of the stench)
______ Horse (1 point)
______ Man riding horse (3 points)
______ Horse riding man (150 points)
______ The word "YEE-HAW!" on a sticker or sign (2 points)
______ Person sleeping in another car, mouth open (2 points)
______ Person sleeping in another car, head bobbing around (2 points)
______ Person in another car picking nose (2 points)
______ Person in OUR car picking nose (3 points)
______ VW bus painted with peace signs and such (3 points)


1) You are a team, so name your team. Make a sign proclaiming your team name and its incredible awesomeness. (2-4 points based on creativity)

2) Say the secret word. What is the secret word? We're not going to tell you, it's a secret. (15 points, no points if you ask, "Is the secret word _____?")

3) Riddle me this Batman: What occurs once every minute, twice every moment, but never in a thousand years? (5 points for correct answer) (ANSWER: the letter M)

4) Using the kit provided, make a balloon animal. Balloon animal must be recognizable (within 3 guesses) by a member of the judging panel. (10 points, 15 points if it is recognized on the first try)

5) In the style of the ministry of silly walks, create a silly walk. At the next stop, display your silly walk to the world. Must silly walk until adequate photos and video have been taken by the judges. (3 points)

6) Using the following chart, convert your parents' phone numbers into as many REAL words as possible. (1 point per word, 15 point bonus for a 7-letter word).
1=FREE LETTER - any letter you want 2=A, B, or C
3=D, E, or F 4=G, H, or I
5=J, K, or L 6=M, N, or O
7=P, Q, R, or S 8=T, U, or V
9=W, X, Y, or Z 0=FREE LETTER - any letter you want

7) Using construction paper, make the most realistic paper bacon strips EVER. Glue those to a sign that says "Honk if you love bacon" and display in the Swaggon window. (4 points, 2 bonus points if someone actually honks)

8) Using the book provided, make two different origami dinosaurs. Then each contestant must select a dinosaur and draw a three panel comic explaining why and how their dinosaur would win in a fight between the two. (8 points)

9) Flat Stanley is coming along! Small enough to be mailed is small enough to fit in a suitcase. Take legit, proper photos of Flat Stanley enjoying our adventure with us. (3 points for each photo, and keep it clean, it's going back to school)

10) Flat Stanley's country cousins will also be joining him. Flat Mac and Flatty B's escapades do not have to go back to school, so their escapades can be a bit more...dubious? Tasteless? Let's put it like this: You wouldn't put Flat Stanley IN a cannon. Flat Mac, however...anything goes. No journal entries needed, just document their escapades with photographs. (3 points for each photograph, bonus points available for making an adult LOL)

11) Riddle me this, Batman: What can be driven but has no wheels, and can be sliced but remain whole? (4 points for correct answer) (ANSWER: a golf ball)

12) Everyone needs a traveling companion, so you need to find yours. Keep an eye out for a nice rock that will fit through the opening of the provided jar. Once you've found your pet rock, give him or her a nice pair of googly eyes. Name your pet rock and take care of him for the rest of the trip. (4 points, 2 bonus points available if both eyes stay on for the duration of our trip)

13) Attack of the mummies! Using the provided paper dolls and masking tape, create a small army of small mummies. Stage them in attack position around the Swaggon and photograph. (6 points, 4 bonus points available for grossing up the mummies with blood, etc, 4 more bonus points available for a second photograph showing someone covered with attacking small mummies, person must look convincingly like they're being attacked by mummies)

14) Using the book provided, each contestant must draw a sea creature of their choosing. Draw, color, and cut out, then stage them with whatever props you might choose to make and add (seaweed, bubbles, etc). Photograph. (4 points, 2 bonus points available for creativity)

15) Over the course of the trip be aware of statues with hands/feet/paws that are within your reach. You need to take three (3) "Gimme five!" pics, each with a different statue. Pic 1: Give one statue an "up high." Pic 2: Give another statue a "down low." Pic 3: Give another statue a "too slow." (9 points for ALL THREE pics - no credit for 1 or 2 pics)

16) Each teammate must compose a Haiku about how they feel the trip is going so far. Must follow traditional Haiku form of 17 syllables (first line 5, second line 7, third line 5). (8 points, bonus points available for wit and/or humor)

17) Using your drawn sea creatures and your origami dinosaurs, stage an epic land versus sea battle. Photograph. (4 points)

18) Create a large - and I mean LARGE - Mario Kart banana peel. Place this in front of the Swaggon at a stop. Adults must be convinced to sit in the Swaggon and display the proper "OHMYGODIT'SABANANAPEELNOOOOOOOO!!!" face while utilizing proper arm gestures. You have 1 (ONE) chance to take this picture...make it fabulous the first time. (10 points)

19) Riddle me this, Batman: Your mother's brother's brother-in-law is also: a)your uncle, b)your father, or c)your cousin. (5 points) (ANSWER: your father)

20) Using whatever items you have at your disposal, create props and characters from a Super Mario Brothers game. Pipes, 1UP mushrooms, brick blocks, question mark blocks, turtle shells and any other items from the games are acceptable. Stage the scene, photograph and remove. (6 points, 2 bonus points available for creativity)

21) Daddoo and Nanno (Ms. Phyllis) like to travel, so we're bringing them along! Photograph them on our vacation (they are to be the only people in the photograph). Be creative and use camera angles well. (2 points for every GOOD picture)

22) You're going to get a 3rd eyeball! The doctors can put it anywhere you want on your body, and you'll be able to see out of it! Where would you put it? Where would it be most useful? Why? Draw your new eye and cut it out. Take a picture of yourself with your new eyeball where you want it, looking thoughtfully at something interesting. Picture can be taken outside of the Swaggon for an additional 3 points. (5 points, 3 points for a pic in public)

23) Each contestant must decorate and then fold a paper airplane. At the next rest stop, in a coordinated, organized effort with adult permission, throw them as far as you can. (1 point for each foot traveled, 2 bonus points available for style and/or witty name)

24) Using materials at your disposal, use your previously made Mario characters to create a MarioKart scene. Track and karts or bikes are required. Any other items (banana peels, zappy touch cloud) will provide extra points for creativity. (4 points, 2 bonus points available for creativity)

25) Avast, me hearties, it's time to get pirate up in here. The Swaggon is now the seagoing pirate vessel the S.S. Foul Wind. Make up your own pirate names and create your own pirate flag. (6 points, 10 point bonus if all children present talk like pirates for a full 5 minutes)

26) Arr, maties, with the provided instructions and materials, build pirate popsicle stick catapults. Use your new weapon to catapult marshmallows into your teammates mouth. (4 points for working catapults, 1 point for each marshmallow that finds its' target up to 20 points)

27) You act like the A-Team. Once a photographer and/or videographer is properly positioned, leap out of the Swaggon in A-Team style while loudly humming the theme song. (5 points, +3 points if you both land on your feet)

28) Pick a book, any book. Randomly pick a page from that book (page must not have pictures ) and write down the last word in every line on that page. Using those words, compose a poem that one contestant will read aloud while his/her teammate claps by snapping his/her fingers. (8 points, possible 10 bonus points available if you compose a song instead and sing it.)

29) Create "The Swaggon Daily News": a newspaper announcing the goings-on in the van for the day before. One page, can't be all comics. (6 points)

30) Riddle me this, Batman: "What force and strength cannot get through, I with a gentle touch can do, and many in the streets would stand, were I not as a friend in hand". What am I? (5 points) (Answer: a key)

31) Welcome to Bigfoot country! But we don't think Bigfoot just hangs out in the woods, we're pretty sure he goes other places, too. Make a Bigfoot head and set of hands. Strategically place them in the places Bigfoot has never been seen (rest stop bathroom stalls, in the Swaggon, etc) in the appearance on peering around a corner, and photograph. (2 points per GOOD photograph, +2 points available for making an adult LOL with your arrangement)

32) Each contestant much draw a fish (large scale, please) they think should be available on Animal Crossing. Draw your fish, name it and note how much it would sell for. (6 points)

33) Create amazing facial hair from construction paper. Construction paper facial hair can be in any shape or fashion, but no adhesive can be used except to *temporarily* attach it to your face. Find a creative name for your hairpiece. (3 points, 5 bonus points for an especially creative name, additional 5 for finding a way to wear this without adhesive at all)

34) It's the Zappy Touch game! Object of the game: to pass the zappy touch to an ADULT in the Swaggon. You must get a Swaggon adult to look directly at your Zappy touch cloud. If they do, you gleefully pass the Zappy Touch cloud to them, and receive 1 point. The adult's job is to then attempt to pass the Zappy Touch back to you in the same manner. If you or your teammate look at the Zappy Touch cloud, it is passed back to you and 1 point is deducted. ADULTS HAVE THE FINAL SAY over what constitutes as 'looking' and whether or not someone 'looked'. (+1 point for passing to an adult, -1 point for it being passed back to the team - game ends when the trip ends)



35) Using the book provided, make towel animals. Stage these towel animals and photograph (i.e, a towel puppy standing outside the hotel room door waiting to come in, etc). (2 points for every good photograph)


36) Take a photograph of Mei and Bubba sitting together and sucking on their toes (their OWN toes, not each other's, ew). You're going to have to be quick! (10 points)


37) Turtle daps: At the sea turtle tank, take a photograph of either (or both) participant(s) pretending to offer daps (fist bump) to a sea turtle. Must be as realistic as possible, in the photo your fist must appear to be bumping the turtle's fin. (4 points)

38) In the reptile area, each contestant must find something that scares them and take a photograph demonstrating how scared they really are. (4 points, 2 bonus points available for awesome faces)


39) Welcome to the gun show! Show off your guns next to some Civil War-era weapons. Pose in body builder poses as close to Civil War weapons as allowed. Points awarded on a sliding scale based on the size of the antique artillery in the picture. You may pose for as many pictures as you like, but must choose the best two shots to submit for judging. (1-5 points per photo)

40) What was Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech? The Gettysburg Address! Many historians believe that he wrote this speech on a napkin on his way to Gettysburg! Could this possibly be true?! Only one way to find out: write the Gettysburg address on a napkin. The entire speech must fit on one side of a single napkin and be completely legible. (5 points, 5 additional points for reading the speech from the napkin, ANOTHER 5 points for wearing amazing Abe Lincoln construction paper facial hair while reading the speech from a napkin...on video!)


41) Fanny pack count! WITHOUT POINTING, EXCLAIMING ALOUD OR BEING RUDE, note how many fanny packs you see. Maintain a running tally throughout the day. (.5 points per fanny pack, 1 point for a patterned fanny pack, 2 points for a wildly patterned fanny pack, group of 5 or more ALL wearing fanny packs and traveling together gets 3 points per group member, 4 if the fanny packs match)

42) Have your picture taken with at least 3 of the Hershey characters strolling around the park. 5 (5 points, 1 point bonus for each additional character picture beyond the original 3)

CHEROKEE MUSEUM (en route to)

43) Using the syllabary page in the book about the Cherokee indians, write everyone in the Swaggon's name in Cherokee syllables. Get as close as possible; there aren't going to be exact syllables for all of our names. (10 points)


44) Are you ready to rock? Find the biggest rock possible and have a photo taken of both teammates putting on their best rock faces and fingers. (4 points)



45) Use pipe cleaners to make Harry Potter glasses and a wizard wand. Have a photograph taken while you demonstrate the "swish and flick" technique. (2 points)

46) Top hats rule. Make a top hat and wear it at the next stop. (4 points, 2 bonus points if you wear your facial hair)

47) Using twisted together pipe cleaners, spell out the word of your choice. Using another pipe cleaner, turn it into a necklace and wear it at a rest stop. Take a photo. (4 points, total point loss PLUS extra deduction if it is a bad word or a word your mother doesn't like)


48) If you were a superhero, what would your powers be? And what would your costume look like? Draw your superhero and explain your superpowers, then at the next stop wear your blanket like a superhero cape and have your photograph taken in a super pose. (4 points, 4 point deduction if your blanket is dropped in a toilet)

49) For the duration of one stop, whether it be gas, restroom or a meal, you must sing everything you say. From the moment you step out of the van to the moment you step back into it, everything you have to say, whether "I'll be right back" or "Can I get some skittles?" MUST BE IN SONG FORM. (4 points, 1 point deduction for every time you forget)

Daily pages

Anyone with kids of a certain age knows what I'm talking about here...I'm sure you've all had this conversation:
You: How was school/day care/field trip/whatever today?
Kid: Fine.
You: Learn anything?
Kid: Sure.
You: Do anything cool?
Kid: Nah.
You: Do anything at all?
Kid: Eh.
Good talk. They could have had a spaceman with a rocket suit land in the middle of the room, and you'll find out about it second-hand...or maybe that's just my son? I wanted a way for the kids to be able to keep track of what we did on a daily basis that wasn't as lame as "write about what we did today." Not that the daily sheets aren't lame, but they're not AS lame. I hope. I tried to include fun stuff and educational stuff. Here's Bella's 1st page:

Mac's is a bit more befits his Tween attitude:
So I did one of those for each of them for every day of the trip. The header and footer on Mac's allows him to keep track of starting and ending mileage as well as SwaggHunt points. The final page has them tally up mileage for each day to find out exactly how far we went round trip. Gotta get something educational out of this. :) We'll let y'all know how this goes..

Friday, June 25, 2010

We're getting so close!

Val and I are putting the final touches to the scavenger hunt. Ending it is harder than I thought it would be...we've been working on it and adding to it for many weeks now - how do you know when it's finished? Anyway...we're going to cut ourselves off, format the pages, and then post all or parts for your enjoyment.

I'm keeping it a secret from Mac - he's at that age where he can talk himself into our out of something given enough time, so I hope that surprising him with it will make it acceptable, and also keep him occupied. This is gonna be a long-ass trip. Val has shared bits with Bella, who is SUPREMELY excited about the whole thing.

I spent all day Wednesday working on stuff for the trip. We have a list on Google Docs that is actually titled "THINGS WE NEED TO DO BEFORE WE LEAVE" (caps and all) and when I started it there were about 6 items. As I did things for the trip that weren't orignally on the list, I added them so I could strike them off. I feel zero guilt for this. It was for the trip! Some of the things I did can't be mentioned here yet as they are a surprise...and oh, what a surprise they will be!! I can tell you about finishing all the maps (the older kids have copies of the AAA turn-by-turn directions & maps) and both the kids' daily sheets. The rest? I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

The maps and daily sheets will be given out the day they are to be used, and will go in the kids' Trapper Keepers (henceforth called "TK" because who wants to type that every time?!). Did I mention the TKs? I don't remember. If not, someone comment and I'll clarify. Anyway, the kids' TKs currently have a copy of the Swaggon Constitution, the Houseguests' Bill of Responsibilities, the 1st set of maps (P'cola to VA) and their first daily sheets, tailor-made for each of them. I'll post parts of the kids' daily sheets later, as well.

Val and I also have a binder, in which resides OUR copies of the maps, confirmation & reservation info, and other important things:
It's very official. :) We also have all the kids' future maps and daily sheets, and let me just say, that mofo weighs a TON. As the trip progresses our binder will get thinner as their TKs get thicker, so it works for me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I told you about Bigfoot...

...we also have a slight obsession with Mario Kart. Well, maybe "slight" isn't the correct word. Maybe we could just say "obsession with Mario Kart." Yeah, that's a little more accurate. Val, Teresa, and I all have a Wii, and we all have Mario Kart. We all got Mario Kart at different times, so it wasn't a coordinated effort like Animal Crossing was. We've had the game for quite a while, but the obsession started pretty recently. We started playing each other via wireless, and it. Is. AWESOME!! We have a blast. And we do it a lot. Mario Kart has worked its way into our vocabulary and other parts of daily life. So anyway, in future posts you will encounter Bigfoot and you'll encounter Mario Kart. Just be warned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't tell the kids....

Jen and I had a hard time coming up with prize ideas for the Swagghunt (that is the scavenger hunt we created for our kids to do while on the road). They won't get their prize(s) until we come home from our trip, at which point they will be spoiled rotten, having been eating, playing and purchasing things (or having things purchased for them) up and down the east coast. They won't need anything. So what do you get the kids who have everything (or at least, don't need anything)? A bad trophy.

Oh yes, we'll promise them prizes. And prizes there will be! I just ordered this trophy....

....that will be engraved with their name. Fancy! Other items we're thinking would make good prizes are generic, dollar store candies, something utterly practical like toothpaste or deodarent, and, for the cash prize part, pennies - NOT in roll form.

Nothing says "congratulations for spending hours working on odd projects" like a resin trophy. But shhhh! It's a secret!

Didja see what was in the news today?!

And you laughed when we said we'd let Bigfoot adopt the kids!

Bigfoot alive and well and living in North Carolina

The Bill of Responsibilities: Rules for being a Houseguest

The Momocracy of the Swaggon(tm), on the occasion of the Great Northern Adventure that begins on Wednesday the thirtieth of June, two thousand and ten, at the time of their adopting the constitution expressed a desire, in order to prevent potential embarassment and avoid fierce punishment of citizens, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added that pertains to behavior while acting as guests in someone's home. Extending the ground of family members' faith in the ability of Swaggon(tm) citizens to behave while acting as houseguests will best ensure harmony and goodwill and enable citizens to maintain positive future relationships. RESOLVED by the Momocracy, assembled online, with both governing members agreeing unanimously, that the following articles be made law:

1.) Find out and follow the house rules for whomever's home you are in. No shoes in the house does not mean that your chuck taylors are an exception. Watch out for sneaky indoor cats when you come and go, and don’t give the dog people food, even if he’s making his I’m really hungry face. If food is not permitted outside the kitchen or dining area and you are discovered munching on crackers in the den, you might find yourself embarking on an involuntary fast. Follow the house rules, and follow our rules, and we'll all get along just fine.

2.) In any regard, on any topic, citizens will ALWAYS ASK or TELL YOUR MOTHER FIRST. This goes for any question/comment/issue you might have, regarding food, regarding showers, regarding schedule, regarding tattling, regarding mood or boredom, regarding ANYTHING, ASK OR TELL YOUR MOTHER. If you cannot find your mother, you may ask your Aunt. If you cannot find either, that means we have left you with whatever family member you are staying with. Good luck and Godspeed.

3.) ALWAYS BE NEAT. Even though it goes against your nature. Be neater than you are at home, neater than you are anywhere else, ever. Straighten up your sleeping area when you awake. Your things (clothes, books, games) should be kept near your sleeping area to avoid losing or leaving items. Dirty clothes should be placed with dirty clothes, not spread around the house. Our hosts do NOT want to see your camoflouge boxer briefs or your My Little Pony panties on their bathroom floor or anywhere else. Dirty clothes should also not be jumbled up with clean clothes in your suitcase or anywhere else. Doing so will result in stinky clean clothes that you will be forced to wear anyway, to teach you a lesson. A good rule of thumb for keeping track of your belongings: When you’re not in your room, it should look like it did when you arrived. Put your clothes away, hang up your towel and straighten the bed every morning. Don’t abandon your slippers in the hallway, your iPod on the kitchen counter or your book about pirates in the den; take your toiletries into the bathroom when you need them and bring them back to your room afterward. AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FLUSH.

4.) DO NOT COMPLAIN. If you feel the need to complain, sit on it and wait until you can complain in private later, to your Mother or Aunt, but do not expect sympathy. If the bed you are sleeping in is uncomfortable, don't complain. If the dinner being offered it not to your liking, don't complain. If you hate what's on TV, don't complain (and for pete's sake, go find something better to do - we're on vacation!). DO NOT COMPLAIN TO OR WITHIN EARSHOT OF OUR THOUGHTFUL, CONSIDERATE HOSTS. Doing so would be incredibly rude and ungrateful, and will result in immediate punishment. Remember: we didn't have to bring you.

5.) ALWAYS BE POLITE AND CONSIDERATE. If you wake up early and everyone else in the home is asleep, be quiet. If you are trying to sleep and the other people in the house wake you up, deal with it - it's not our house. Before asking for seconds at a meal, make sure everyone else has eaten. Take short showers, don't hog the bathroom, don't use our host's personal things (i.e, toothbrushes), knock on doors and wait to be invited in before entering rooms, make polite conversation when engaged (no mumbling "whatever" as an answer to every question), and share and play nicely with other children. We are Southern ladies and gentlemen, and we will remember our manners and behave as such. "Please" and "Thank you" are required. AND REMEMBER: ALWAYS, ALWAYS FLUSH. ALWAYS.

6.) BE HELPFUL AND OFFER TO HELP. To your mom, to your Aunt, to other kids, and especially to our hosts. Offer to help CONSTANTLY. If someone is working in the kitchen, whether cooking or cleaning, offer to help. If someone is carrying something heavy, offer to help. Utter the question often, because it will never get old: "Is there any way I can help you?". It is the least we can do. IT IS EXPECTED that, after a meal enjoyed in someone's home, Swaggon(tm) citizens will automatically get up and help with dishes and/or cleanup.

7.) GO WITH THE FLOW. We are guests in someone else's home and as such, we will accomodate THEIR schedule. If everyone else is going somewhere and you would rather sulk in your sleeping bag and play DS, TOO BAD. If you take issue with something that is scheduled (see item #3 for more information about complaining), suck it up and deal. There will be plenty of time do sulk and play nintendo at home, let's enjoy seeing and doing things we can't at home. If you want to be sullen and rude, that is your right, just as it is the right of your Mother or Aunt to punish you thoroughly. You do not have to have fun but you do have to be nice.

8.) DO NOT EXPECT TO BE ENTERTAINED. While there are many fun things planned for this trip, not every moment of the day will be taken up by activity. Read a book, play a video game, go outside, take a nap, BE SELF-SUFFICIENT. If you approach an adult complaining of boredom or a lack of something to do, said adult will find you something to do and rest assured, it will not be fun. It might involve toilets or hair clogs or diaper changes.

9.) CHECK ON/FOR BUBBA. Bubba is your fellow citizen, the youngest of our group and also requires the most maintenance. As such, it behooves us all to help ensure his overall mood stays positive. Check on him periodically, to make sure he hasn't fallen out of a window, or to see if he needs something to drink, or if he's trying to rewire the house via a fork and electrical socket, or if he's walking around tearing the pages out of someone's wedding photo album. Your Aunt/Mother appreciates it. Just remember...if Bubba ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy. And that is a fact, Jack.

10.) DO NOT TALK ABOUT BODILY FUNCTIONS OR EMISSIONS OR PARTS. Do not say 'bosoms' or 'scrotum' just to try and get a laugh; believe me, your Mother and/or Aunt will not be amused, and we are the ones that matter in this respect. Do not tell everyone, over dinner, that your poo was green when you were in the bathroom earlier. Do not tell that story at dinner or any other time. Do not scratch yourself in public. Do not tell everyone, loudly, that your private parts are itchy. If that is indeed the case, let your mother know in private. Do not walk out of the bathroom waving your hand theatrically and saying "WHEW! DO NOT go in THERE!" after you have used it. If you must pass gas, try and do so quietly and without commentary. On the occasion of an SBD (silent but deadly), do not sit and snicker and look around expectantly and then laugh when you see someone sniff and make a face. If you are experiencing digestive problems, let your Mother or your Aunt know privately and we will get you the appropriate medicine. Do not announce to everyone that you have 'the squirts'. AND ALWAYS FLUSH. I cannot say this enough.

11.) DO NOT ORDER WHATEVER YOU WANT AT ANY RESTAURANT, REGARDLESS OF TYPE, without checking with your mother first. Whether fast food or a barbecue joint or at a fancy sit-down restaurant, QUIETLY run your menu selection past your mother before announcing your order. DO take prices into consideration, DO NOT order the most expensive thing on the menu. Most likely, YOU are not paying for this dinner. Most likely, your mother is paying, or even more importantly, someone else is, in which case it is only right to check yourself (particularly before you wreck yourself, which is what will happen if you say "I'll have the $24.99 rib platter special" before asking your mom if that is ok). Mothers have every right to veto your choice. You have every right to sulk about that, just as your mother has the right to send you to the van for the duration of dinner. Make certain to quietly notify your mother as to what you would like, as opposed to shouting across the table, "I want to get the hamburger, unless you think it's too expensive, since you're so cheap". That qualifies as wrecking oneself. This is also no time to experiment with new foods; you are expected to eat what you order. Should you order something at a restaurant and not eat it, it will be brought home and presented to you for breakfast the following morning. And every possible subsequent meal thereafter, until it is eaten or until the food becomes sentient and finds a way to escape.

A good rule of thumb is, if you think it might get you in trouble, it probably will, and most likely in TWICE as much trouble as normal since we are staying in someone else's home. Basically, what we are asking for here, is for you and all of us to pretend we're not the smelly, rude, ill-behaved boorish cads that we all really are. For example: say you tell a fart joke in the car that makes the adults laugh so hard that they cry. If you were to tell the same joke while we are houseguests, you will get in trouble. It's not quite fair, no, but it's how things are. Keep in mind that we will only be staying with family for about a week, and then everyone's normal bad manners, hygeine and behaviors can resume once we are back on the road and headed home.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Constitution of the Momocracy of the Swaggon™

We the people of the Swaggon™, in order to ensure a peaceful trip, establish ground rules, ensure domestic tranquility, provide common sense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of sanity to ourselves and our posteriors, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United Momocracy of the Swaggon™.

  • Article 1: The MOMocracy

    • MOMOCRACY: The Swaggon™ is not a democracy. It is a MOMocracy. This vacation was planned, funded, and flawlessly executed by Momocracy founders Jennifer Smith and Valerie Bernardo. During the planning stages there were discussions of a childless vacation, so any and all children accompanying those founding Momocracy members should consider themselves very, very lucky to be going anywhere at all. Any member of the Momocracy is automatically granted special rights and responsibilities which will be outlined here, but should expect to solve problems and create new laws as the need should arise.
      • MEMBERS OF THE MOMOCRACY: The Governing Board of the Momocracy consists of any and all mothers in the Swaggon™. This includes any women who are not YOUR mother, but are still indeed SOMEONE’S mother and therefore automatically a fully recognized member of the Momocracy Governing Board.
      • ULTIMATE AUTHORITY OF THE MOMOCRACY: All members of the Momocracy Governing Board have the power of the “final word” on any subject; this includes, but is not limited to:
        • Bothering: The Momocracy will be the final authority on what constitutes “bothering”. For example, poking someone would be considered bothering. Looking at someone, or the person across the way sitting with their legs crossed in a way you don’t like does NOT constitute bothering, no matter how much it might bother you, for whatever reason.
        • Burping contests: Momocracy members are the only Swaggon™ riders allowed to suggest and supervise burping contests. While Swaggon™ riders may vote for a winner of said contest, the ultimate decision of burp victory is left to the participating Momocracy Governing Board members
        • Fart-related disputes: The Momocracy refuses to mediate fart-related disputes, nor do they subscribe to such faulty logic as “he who smelt it dealt it” or the like.
        • Item-related disputes: If an item becomes the subject of dispute and the Momocracy become aware of it, said item will be forfeited until such a time as the adults deign to return it. Keep asking to get it back and we'll sell whatever it is to Bigfoot and spend the money on vegetables. Especially the ones you don't like.
      • PUNISHMENT: Should you disagree with a decision made by a Momocracy member please see the "Rule of One" and "Exclamations of Dismay" amendment. Failure to recognize authority of the Momocracy of the Swaggon™ will result in punishment, up to and including being left on the side of the road in North Carolina, where you could possibly be adopted against your will by Bigfoot. Bigfoot will make you do chores and shampoo his butt hair.
    • DRIVER: The Momocracy recognizes that driving is a very stressful activity and therefore place the driver (also called “captain”) in charge of items and activities to include (but not limited to): vehicle air conditioning, radio stations, radio volume, iPod playlists, travel speed, and the time and location of bathroom breaks or meals. The driver deserves respect from all other Swaggon™ passengers; potentially distracting behaviors (such as screeching, shouting, or screaming) should be avoided to ensure the safest Swaggon™ ride possible.
    • MISC. ADULT PRIVILAGES: The Momocracy of the Swaggon™ grants citizens over 18 years of age extra rights and responsibilities.
      • SHOTGUN: Riding shotgun: (also known as "pilot") is a privilege, not a right. Pilots must be able to check the driver’s blind spot for cars, be able to reprogram the GPS, reach the cooler for beverages/snacks without removing his/her seatbelt, answer vague trivia questions as they occur to the driver, and be able to properly work the driver’s phone with little-to-no coaching.
      • VETO PRIVILEGE: adults over the age of 18 may veto the shotgun request of anyone under the age of 18.
      • ELECTRONICS: Adults over the age of 18 are allowed to use electronics without headphones at his/her discretion.

  • Article II: Other Citizens of the Swaggon™
    • UNDERAGE CITIZENS: Definition: Anyone in the Swaggon™ under the age of 18 is considered underage. Underage citizens have very little power within the Momocracy, but enjoy more freedom than adults citizens. Just ride and follow the rules. Cake.
    • RIGHTS: Underage citizens of the Swaggon™ will be provided the following:
      • Swaggon™ Snacks: Your food and drink for this trip were thoughtfully provided and obtained. What you have is what you have. If you got Frito's but for some reason wish you had opted for Bugles, remember it for the trip home but DO NOT ASK for Bugles while stopped at a gas station. If you run out of snacks before we arrive at our destination, it is your fault. It is not your mother's, aunt's, or cousin's job to provide you with snacks because you pigged out on the first day of the trip and have nothing for day 2.
        • Exception: If you are offered, you may request something else (within reason). If your request is approved and your mom/aunt buys you the Bugles you wanted so badly, you should thank them. Remember, we didn't have to bring you.
      • Swaggon™-tainment: We have known about this trip for months, and you have had that long to calculate, organize and pack what you wanted to bring. Momocracy members consulted with underage Swaggon™ citizens before packing their Swaggon™-tainment bags. The Momocracy refuses to accept responsibility for any items (clothing, entertainment, or communication) forgotten at home. Don't complain about leaving something behind - unless we are within a block from home, we will NOT turn around to get the DS game (or book, comfy pair of socks, stuffed animal, toy axe, etc) you forgot, nor will we purchase another item to replace the one you forgot.
        • Replacement: Should you have your own money, YOU may purchase something (see "your money" rule for more information on purchases), but you may not even ASK your mom, Aunt, cousin or anyone else to purchase something for you. Punishment will be swift and severe for anyone caught begging from family members Please do not insist that you've run out of things to do 5 minutes into the trip.
      • MAPS: The Momocracy will provide older underage citizens of the Swaggon™ with maps on the days we will travel great distances.
  • Article III: Swaggon™ Rules
    • THE RULE OF ONE: You may submit a request once; if your request is denied you may not ask again. Should your request is denied, you are allowed one (1) exclamation of dismay ("aww, maaaan!" or similar). You do not ask again. It really is that simple. Breaking the RULE OF ONE will result in a warning, and then punishment at the discretion of the Momocracy. Continuous whining will result in revocation of fun outing privileges, i.e, mowing some one's lawn while the rest of us go to Hershey Park without you.
      • Addendum: asking the same question but adding "please" still counts as asking the same question, but do keep in mind that using "please" the first time you request something might help your case. Still, no guarantees - you have no rights in the Momocracy. You are only along because we allowed you to be. You could be home emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash.
    • SEAT BELTS: Every rider in the Swaggon™ will wear his/her seatbelt at all times - no exceptions. Even if you can't get comfortable, even if you can't sleep, even if you feel as though it's choking you, there is no good reason to remove your seatbelt. This is not only the Momocracy law, this is the law of every single state we will be driving through. This is for your safety and to avoid the costly ticket the driver would receive if you don't wear it. No arguments, no asking, no trying to be sneaky and take it off underneath your blanket. The Swaggon™ is smart and will notify the driver if you remove your belt. Removal of your seat belt while on the road will result in punishment of an unpleasant sort, to be determined.
    • SWAGGON™ SEATS: Seats are assigned by Momocracy members before departure. Please refer to the following crude diagram to determine your seat:
    • B) Shotgun D) Notgun E) The Poop Deck
      A) Driver C) Bubba Seat E) The Poop Deck
    • ASKING "ARE WE THERE YET?" If we are still driving, we are obviously not there yet. if we were there, we would stop the Swaggon™. Rest assured that you will be notified of our impending arrival, because the adults in the car will be just as excited as you. And you are not tricky and smart by asking "how close are we" or "how long until we get there". You will receive updates on our progress periodically. Allowed, within reason (as in, not every half hour): "Where are we".
    • THE USE OF HEADPHONES: Any personal electronic device you plan to use for your own, personal entertainment (i.e., an iPod, DS, etc.) WILL be used with headphones. In addition, you may NOT unplug your headphones without permission. Please see the Rule of One. It applies here, both to asking and to being told no.
      • The Bubba Clause: Anything Bubba plays with/watches is potentially exempt from this rule, due to his sensitivity to sound and noise (unless he consents to wear headphones, the chances of which are slim). IF Bubba is playing with something that is making a noise/sound that irritates you, listen to/watch/play with something of your own (with headphones) to drown out the sound. Or just deal with it.
    • POTTY BREAKS: When the Swaggon™ stops for a potty break, everyone will make an effort to go to the bathroom. Do not let the words "but I don't HAVE to pee!" pass your lips. It doesn't matter - if you have a bladder, you will get out of the Swaggon™ and make sure said bladder is empty before we leave. The first person to skip a potty break only to announce 15 minutes after we get back on the road that he/she needs to pee will be using the bathroom on the side of the interstate. Swaggon™ riders will be allowed to make up silly songs about this person and will be entitled to bring up this embarrassing story at future events (birthdays, graduations, Christmas) indefinitely.
      • Do not wait until it's an emergency to tell someone you need to use the bathroom. You should let someone know as soon as the urge strikes you that you will need to use a restroom, and when possible provide an approximate time frame ("I'm going to need to stop at the next rest stop, please!"). If you fail to do so or fail to respond to being notified that there are no more rest stops for 300 miles, you will use the bathroom on the side of the road. Where Bigfoot might be watching.
    • BICKERING: If you cannot play nicely with each other, do not play with each other. Everyone will have his/her own things to do. Remember the "Rule of One": if you want to play with something your cousin brought, you may ask him/her once if you may borrow it. If your cousin says no, that's it - don't ask again. Do not tattle that your cousin will not share. If your cousin says yes, discuss an appropriate time frame for usage of whatever it is you are borrowing/loaning. Letting someone borrow something for two minutes and then taking it back is not permitted.
    • TRASH: Put your trash in the container thoughtfully provided by the Momocracy. Do not throw trash on the floor. Do not throw trash at your seat mate or the front seat. Do not throw trash anywhere other than the bag/basket provided. Failure to do so will result in being forced to clean out and vacuum the entire Swaggon™ while everyone else is doing something fun.
    • OUTBURSTS: There will be no screeching, shouting, or screaming in the Swaggon™. It is annoying and possibly dangerously distracting for the driver. Conversation should be maintained at a normal level. Laughing is permitted and encouraged. Singing will be considered on a case-by-base basis. Arguing is strictly forbidden - if you can't get along, leave each other alone. Pestering, bothering and goading will not be permitted.
      • Gassy outbursts: Everybody farts, sometimes: please use commonsense rules of polite society if you fart or burp in the Swaggon. Burping is permitted, but one should not make themselves burp(see Carsickness amendment). Should you burp, you are expected to 1) excuse yourself, and 2) keep it to yourself and not blow it In someone's face. Burp blowing is a violation of the Swaggon constitution and can result in loss of beverage privileges. Farting is allowed, but arguing over farting is not.
    • CARSICKNESS: If you feel as though you might throw up, let someone know as early as possible. If you do throw up, attempt to do so IN something: a bag or trash can, etc. If you are doing something that makes you feel like you might throw up (i.e, reading in the moving Swaggon™), stop. Close your eyes, lean back, take a small sip of your drink, and see if you feel better. If, while on the road, you discover that a certain activity makes you feel like you might throw up, don't do that anymore. Find another activity that does not make you want to puke. Puking in the Swaggon™ is severely frowned upon for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which being that it could set off a chain reaction of sympathy puking amongst family members, all of whom have sensitive stomachs. Accidents happen, and will be understood as such, but keep in mind: puke in something, whenever possible. It will be better for all of us.
    • YOUR MONEY: Be careful with your money. Yes, it is *your* money. However, the Momocracy reserves right of review AND refusal on purchases. Every purchase must be approved by YOUR mother. Although it might seem like you will not survive without a $20, five-pound Slim Jim, rest assured the Momocracy has the best interests in both your physical and financial health when they suggest you opt for something else on which to spend your money. And while you might be upset when your request to purchase 10 pounds of saltwater taffy is denied, you will ultimately be grateful that you will still have money to spend at our last stop on the adventure (and a digestive track clear of 10 pounds of saltwater taffy or five pounds of Slim Jim). Your cash should be counted and organized periodically, so that you have an idea of what you have to spend. You are responsible for your money, and if you lose your money, it is lost and will NOT be replaced. If you need help securing or counting, Momocracy members will gladly help you.


    I almost forgot. We also have a thing for Bigfoot. It's also a product of our TV/BBM time. We never claimed to watch quality TV. We watch what we like. For a little while, Bigfoot was in, or at least mentioned in many of those shows. Sort of a "Bigfoot crossover," if you will. We've embraced Bigfoot ever since. Bigfoot is our friend.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    It's what we do

    We complicate things. It's not always a bad thing. When we decided a year ago that we wanted to do this trip, we knew - we knew - that we must be a little touched in the head to volunteer for such a road trip with 3 kids. We decided immediately that rules were in order, and that they must be written down.

    The first incarnation of the rules was in commandment form. Lots of "thou shalt"s and "thou shalt not"s. Somehow...I don't remember exactly how now that I'm writing about it...this morphed into Constitution form. Val?

    So we have a Constitution of the Swaggon (including a preamble!), which consists of rules for the kids while on the road. Val knew that we needed rules for OUTSIDE the Swaggon, as well, as our children have inherited enough of our smartass DNA to point out that "we're not IN the Swaggon right now." To stay with the theme, she created the Houseguests' Bill of Rights. That particular document details how we expect them to behave while in someone else's home.

    I've created a page-a-day worksheet that they'll get each morning of the trip. It has a little synopsis of what's planned for the day, then a fill-in-the-blank section about the day. Mac and Bella have different pages, and I tried to gear their stuff to them directly. I want them to have a record of what we did that would be less painful than a "what I did this summer" report.

    To help keep them busy, we also created our own personalized Scavenger Hunt. Most of the "road trip scavenger hunts" out there are extraordinarily lame. Seriously. Google it. Or don't - just trust us...lame. Val discovered the University of Chigago's annual ScavHunt and we were inspired. Read some of the archived lists. Things of BEAUTY! So we created our own version of the ScavHunt (scaled down for an 8 & 10 year-old) and call it, of course, the SwaggHunt.

    To keep track of all this we have provided the two older kids with Trapper Keepers. They'll have a copy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, SwaggHunt lists, worksheet pages, and copies of the AAA TripTiks of their own. On top of the portable DVD player, the netbook, DSs, and whatever else they bring to keep them entertained.

    We're going to post copies of everything. The ScavHunt will come last, as it it constantly evolving and growing. We welcome questions or comments - and especially suggestions. This is going to be a ridiculously long car trip, and the happier the kids are the more sanity Val and I will retain.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    What's a Swaggon?

    So Val and I...we watch TV. We don't watch excessive amounts of TV. We don't watch it in the same room...or even in the same house. We watch in our own homes, but we BlackBerry Messenger each other our thoughts. I can't even begin to tell you the hilarity that has ensued from our BBMing during TV time. The Swaggon is one funny result I can share in public.

    The Swaggon came about shortly after we'd made our rental and hotel reservations. AAA listed minivans as "Toyota minivan, or something similar" and while we knew we probably wouldn't get the Sienna, the commercials for the Sienna family had just come out and thoroughly captured our imaginations. Have you seen the "Swaggerwagon" one? Go to YouTube and look for "Meet the Parents" on the Toyota Sienna channel. Val and I decided that "Swaggerwagon" was awesome, but who wants to type that all the time?! We shortened it to "Swaggon" and history was made.

    We don't know what kind of minivan we'll be sporting on the drive up, but it doesn't matter. If we're in it, it's the Swaggon. The end.


    There may be some poor, unfortunate soul that comes upon this blog with no idea who we are or what we're those of you that already know this stuff, please play nicely while I rehash.

    We're Val and Jen, 2 of the 3 illustrious 'Tucker Girls.' We're all "grown up" and married now, but the old childhood label has stuck pretty well. Our 3rd sister, Teresa, is going rogue and staying home on this trip but WILL be joining us on future vacations, if we have to drive by and kidnap her in the dark of night. I'll be joined on this epic journey by my 10 year-old son, Mac. He'll turn 11 while we're gone...assuming we let him live that long. Val is bringing her 8 year-old daughter, Bella, and her 2 year-old son, Bubba. One big, happy family. Mmmm-hmm.

    We're reliving our family vacations back in the day...Uncle Bob and Aunt Rachel would fill up the minivan with luggage and kids wherever any of it would fit (seatbelts were more of an option back then) and drive like a bat out of hell until we ran out of gas or they needed more caffeine. Good times!!! We're renting our minivan this time, but it'll be nearly the same. Sort of...

    We're leaving June 30, and plan to be home Sunday, July 11th.

    Our ultimate goal is our family in central Pennsylvania, with a bunch of stops along the way, both there and back. We'll see Val's SIL in Virginia Beach and visit the aquarium, and we'll see a Civil War reenactment in Gettysburg on July 3rd. We'll shop and eat in Amish country, visit Hershey Park, and spend the 4th of July with our family and see some amazing fireworks. On our way home we'll stay overnight at a Cherokee reservation, picnic in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and "See Rock City!".

    Because we're gluttons for punishment, that's why. We are GOING to have fun, dammit, one way or another.

    Why read about someone else's vacation?

    Yes, it's another "someone-that's-not-me-going-somewhere-I'm-not" blog...but this one is different. How's that? Well, for starters, this time it's the Tucker girls going on vacation. It's a fact that the more Tucker genes involved in a vacation, the greater the odds of unscheduled hilarity, unexpected shenanigans, and the occasional total mental breakdown. Who wouldn't want to hang around for THAT?!

    We've been told that we're very funny...I agree that my sisters are two of the funniest people I'll probably ever meet. Modestly, (or not) I admit that I have my moments, but they're usually limited to narrating the kind of event that's only funny if it's happening to someone else...or if it happened to you and you've lived long enough to look back on it with greater perspective. Those are my shining, terrifying moments.

    Anyway, us Tucker girls take our vacations very, VERY seriously. We've had this one in the works for about a year, and are becoming unbearably excited as it gets closer. We've put a lot of work into this ways that would confound a 'normal' vacationer. The 'normal' stuff (like rentals, hotel reservations, and the like) was taken care of in one night. The rest? Well...that's a work in progress, constantly evolving. Don't worry - we'll tell you ALL about it. Stay tuned!