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  • This week's fieldtrip reminded my why I'm so looking forward to the big TRIP. For one thing, there is no better feeling (for me) than watching my kids exploring the natural world like a playground. To watch them amuse themselves almost endlessly with sticks, water, leaves and rocks is like manna from heaven. I feel like I'm depositing money in the First National Bank of Childhood. These are the experiences, I tell myself, that mold a person and years from now when they are "full grown humans" all they will need to do in moments of dire stress is to reconnect with this world and these experiences to find joy and calm. Maybe I give myself too much credit, but at the very least, I know this can't be bad for them.

    On the way home, I was reminded of the challenges I am likely to face on a cross-country drive with 5 kids. "Are we almost there?" No. "How much longer?" Five minutes less than the last time you asked.

    Then I remembered a game. I'm not a natural at conjuring up distracting and fun games -- like my mom or my Aunt Claire. Those two can turn fidgeting, whiny kids into engaged giggling cherubs in no time. But occasionally, I can see beyond my stress level to something that is pure fun, pure distraction. Mad libs, for instance are a true godsend. My kids love them and are learning their parts of speech, no less. But here's the best one: "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm gonna bring..." The first person brings something that begins with A. Then person two has to remember A and add B, and so on. We played many games of this on our 1977 Grogan family cross country adventure.

    So, I strike up a game with my kids on the way home. We get about halfway through the alphabet, and my girl says "I'm goin' on a picnic, and I'm gonna bring....Nana". Don't I wish we could! Now THAT would be some trip!
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