My last single brother is getting married this summer- on the opposite end of the country and we have decided to attend. Actually I think God was getting a real kick out of the situation when I told the kids we couldn't afford to go to Florida for vacation. It was just a few days after that declaration that I discovered we were going to Florida whether we liked it or not. Just to be clear- we like it. It isn't completely clear whether we are driving ourselves or all hitch hiking, but we are going.
Anyway, the process of loading up 9 people in a van to travel 24 hours driving time in order to be in a wedding- which I might note requires attire that doesn't look like it's been smushed in a van for 24 hours- is quite the feat.
Also, this means that our vacation budget is about to be funneled directly into the gas tank, so we had better make the most of all those miles. Thus begins the planning extravaganza. In short, it goes a little something like this:
-Determine how many things we'd like to do on this trip if we could do anything we wanted.
-Cross off 75% due to time, money, travel issues, and logistical impossibilities (we can't tie the children to the roof of the car, that's illegal, so that's a no)
- Add several hotel stays that we hadn't thought of due to other logistics.
- Locate a hotel that serves free breakfast, will let 9 people all sleep in a relatively close space, doesn't mind kids, has a pool- cause why would you not take advantage of that possibility if you can, and also doesn't have some random minimum stay of 3 nights.
- Reserve rooms in three different states. Write down how much that will cost.
- Buy White Out to paint across hotel bill projections so you can think about something else between now and then.
- Next, discuss ideas of things to do- DC for three days? Week in FL? Activities while there? Call the most insane friends you have in those areas and ask them if they have beds for 7 children, one which still wets the bed, and 2 adults. Wait patiently while they recover from their fainting spell. When they say you can stay with them, become giddy with excitement over the fact that there are still people in the world willing to house an entire army battalion in their home. Smile that you have such awesome friends- even if they are a little crazy.
- Find all the free things to do in the areas where you will be and carefully coordinate when you will do them. Dream about a couple of activities that actually cost money. Pencil them onto the list in case you accidentally find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk.
-Next: shop for wedding clothes for everyone because no one has anything decent to wear to such an event.
-Go look for a dress for yourself. Try on every single dress in the department only to find out that nothing fits you there because you are actually in the juniors section. Whoops. Try on all the dresses in the women's section in three different stores and discover that still nothing looks good.
-Pause to bemoan the weight gain over the winter, partly due to surgery and partly due to chocolate ganache. Get over it and keep going.
- Cross off several stores on the list in this way.
- Shop for shoes for the kids WITH ALL THE KIDS. Act like you are only there with one of those children.
- Create mass chaos in the shoe section while everyone runs to find the shoes they like best.
- Put them all back because none of them are black dress shoes.
- Find shoes, be happy, buy them, have a heart attack over how much money you just spent.
- Take shoes home and realize that you forgot to buy one child shoes.
- Go shoe searching for that child in several other stores that you go to on other errands. Find nothing. (This is a rule. Discovering the right thing can not happen by chance. It must take intentional WORK!)
- Locate two dresses that fit girls, no one, no, two...wait...only one. Ok, buy one.
- Get tired of stores and try purchasing two dresses for yourself online. This allows you to not fit in something thus giving a good excuse to return the garment to the store and try again.
-Somewhere in here do something else in your life besides work on wedding clothes shopping. For example: feed people meals, teach school, or bathe.
- Take dress back to department store. Shop for other needs. Find two dresses, three suits, three ties, three dress shirts, two suit sets, and a make up sale at one store and buy it all. Be happy all the way until you look at the receipt. Have a second heart attack. And also a seizure. Loose two nights of sleep.
- Bring clothes home and try on. Mark 4 pairs of pants to be hemmed.
- Go shopping again and find 1 pair of shoes, three belts, 2 necklaces, a dress shirt and a tie.
- Come home for approval.
- Take back tie. Get different, "better quality" tie.
- Also exchange belt and shoes.
And this is where we are at in the process. On one hand, it's a fun adventure. On another, it's a lot of work. And on a third hand- if you have one- it takes a lot of faith. I know we are doing what needs to be done, but it's always a little tricky how things will actually turn out. Sometimes it can be exciting to see how God will provide. Sometimes that's a little stressful, but it's all part of the adventure.
Now that we have hotel reservations and clothes, we'll move on to food. That should be yummy.