1. Remind yourself that the four people with whom you'll be traveling are, on the whole, a really delightful bunch. Remind yourself that you may need to remind yourself of that at various points along the way. Continue packing and tying up loose ends at home.
2. Have what appears to you to be a heart attack. Spend outrageous amounts of money (three days before you are scheduled to drive cross-country) to have a cardiologist put you on a treadmill, call you an old lady, then pronounce you perfectly fit and healthy and express dismay that someone could appear to be so out of shape and still last that long on a treadmill. Vow to find a new cardiologist if you ever appear to have another heart attack. Thank God that you know you're healthy but ask Him why He has to put you through this stuff. Couldn't he just send you a nice, recognizable panic attack?
3. Read Mary Ellen Barrett's excellent article, Are We There Yet?, from the most recent issue of Faith and Family. Thank God for Mary Ellen and her sweet and funny wisdom. Repeat to yourself: "A family trip is not a vacation for Mom. A family trip is not a vacation for Mom. A family trip is not ...." Okay. You get the idea.
Day One of the Trip:
Be sure the trip begins on Atticus's birthday. At 5:50 a.m.
Something really special always happens on Atticus's birthday. For example, last year, Atticus spent his birthday in a parking lot in Bellevue, Nebraska, waiting for the 7th Harry Potter book to be released. He's never read a single Harry Potter book himself, but he loves you and the kids and will do anything for you. He'll stand around in a parking lot full of geeks in costumes (and even cheer wildly for his own offspring when she wins the costume contest.) And, he'll leave for Pennsylvania at 5:50 a.m. if you ask him to. So, ask him.
Drive for eleven hours, stopping only for bathroom breaks, gas and ice cream, and arrive at a hotel in South Bend, Indiana to find that there is a baton twirler convention there. Hmmm. Keep moving. But first, enjoy the milkshakes at Steak and Shake, let the kids swim and thank God for those free breakfasts at the hotel.
Drive the next day to a very small town in Pennsylvania. Take in some great views along the way.
That's all for tonight. Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on why we're praying for a waitress in a small town in Pennsylvania.