07 July 2010

Show Me the Way to Go Home

I'm just home from a long holiday road trip. Five days away left me equal parts wonderfully exhausted, warmly buzzed from being with family I don't have a chance to see often enough, and eager to get home so I could see my husband, whose work schedule didn't let him come with us for the fun. I keep randomly grinning from the little snippet-memories I'm getting of things that made me laugh over the weekend.

It's about an eight hour car trip to my sister's house. We've done the trip so many times that there isn't much that is shiny and new along the route, other than the occasional new construction area that slows traffic to a crawl. Not exactly the sort of new I look forward to. And I'm very much an "It's about the destination, not the journey" person when it comes to this sort of road trip. If I only have 5 days, I want to get there and start having fun with the people I'm going there to see.

So the 16 hours in the car that bracket these family visits have been the least favorite part of this trip for a long time. And this is in spite of the fact that the kids are really great travelers. They know bickering will make Mom a NOT happy person, and when a NOT happy person is in charge of snacks, drinks, and potty breaks... well, let's just say they are sharp enough to know not to go there. But I didn't like that the trip there and back had become something we just endure.

Then a few years ago I picked up an audiobook right before the trip. I think my daughter was 6 then, and my son 14. And suddenly, the words "Are we there yet" all but disappeared from our road trip dialogue. Instead, before we're even out of our neighborhood I hear "Start the book Mom!"

The only real challenge to this is finding a book that appeals to both kids and me. My son is 16 now, and my daughter 8. Not a whole lot of overlap in their reading interests. But having it read aloud means that I can introduce my daughter so some books she isn't quite ready to tackle on her own just because her reading vocabulary isn't quite there, as long as I keep the genre one my son likes. Luckily the fantasy genre, his favorite, has a large number of young adult authors that fit our niche very sweetly.

This trip we found a new-to-us author, Garth Nix. His book "Sabriel" was a perfect mix of magic, with a talking cat (who isn't really a cat), a young female heroine with enough male voices to keep my son happy, and a storyline that was kept us all entranced. The unabridged audio was just over 11 hours, leaving us enough downtime that my daughter could nap a bit and I could get my NPR fix. And we made it there and back having heard a great story, perfectly framing the wonderful family time that was the main reason for the trip.

I'm already looking forward to our next family trip. I'm not sure what we'll listen to next time. Something YA, so the content isn't too "adult" for the now 8 year old. Something with magic, and either cats, horses, or dragons. (Unicorns are cool too!) Something no more than 14 hours unabridged, and at least 8. Any suggestions?
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