A jumbo suitcase lays unzipped on the bed, teetering piles of little kid clothes surround it.
I do the math. Three children times five days equals more clothes then even a jumbo suitcase can possibly hold. The number of socks alone is overwhelming.
Not to mention all the "extra" clothes you have to take when you travel with kids. Yes, extra clothes, which we absolutely needed, not.
Sure, those extra clothes remain unused over ninety percent of the time, but, you still need to pack them.
Trust me, if you don't pack extra clothes, it practically guarantees one or all of the children will spill something thick and sticky all over them and possibly you too.
Without extra clothes, you run the risk of spending precious vacation time looking for a Laundromat or worse attempting to round up enough coins so you can feed the overpriced machines in the hotel laundry.
Either way, you don't want to be stuck inside waiting for the spin cycle while everyone else is riding the roller coasters.
I begin stuffing the clothes into the suitcase. Even with the extra large suitcase, it is going to be a tight fit.
This is not a job for the faint hearted. You can't just flop the clothes into the suitcase, you have to cram, shove and in some cases stuff items into the suitcase.
Somehow, how I manage to fit the whole pile of kids clothes into one suitcase. I admit at one point I was begging the suitcase to take just one more T-shirt-please.
Once the kid's clothes are packed, I contemplate my pile of clothes. After using the super duper deluxe suitcase for the kids, I am stuck with the small "weekender" suitcase.
Unfortunately, our trip is a week, not a weekend. Besides what woman can get everything she needs into one suitcase? Somehow, I need to compress my week's worth of clothes and toiletries into a space roughly the size of a large shoebox.
Huh, guess I am going to sport the wrinkled "natural" look on this trip.
After the squeezing, err I mean packing, I have to place a kid on the lid of the suitcase so I can zip it closed.
I step back. The suitcases are bulging ready to spring open like a can of joke snakes the minute I try to unzip them.
While I was busy folding the clothes into origami, the kids were busy packing their knapsacks.
This particular trip involves a very, very, I can't say "very" enough times, long car trip.
Knowing that I won't spring for an in car DVD player, hey, if I can't watch movies on the trip neither can they, the kids are laying in a supply of toys and books to keep them busy.
After the kids finishing cramming an entire toy store into their packs, I check their backpacks. Along with the usual games, coloring paraphernalia and books I find unusual stuff.
Stuff like forks-I explain to the small child that they will in fact have forks at our destination and they don't need to pack them. In addition to cutlery, I find an assortment of odd items.
Although I want the kids to have things to do on the trip, I don't think they need a calculator, unless they are doing my taxes on the trip.
The final step is to place everything in the trunk of the car, after placing all the suitcases into the trunk I need to put all three kids on the trunk lid in order to get it to latch.
Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.
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