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Raodschooling Archives | Stephenie Peterson - Author of Nellie Nova and Grace's Ghosts

My Texas Book Tour. Alone. With THREE Kids- or- The Diary of a Crazed Author

crazed

It’s been awhile since I posted last.

Because I have been in recovery, y’all.

My tour to Texas was amazing. I met so many wonderful people, saw old friends, made connections and met sweet young fans. I loved it.

But.

I went alone. With my three kids.

I knew this going into it.

I’ve traveled alone with my kids before. But this was hard. This made me question my sanity.

The first day of travel from NC to TX went fairly well. The kids were excited. They were happy. They joked. They laughed. They happily listened to their audio books. The older two journaled about what they saw. We hit no traffic. We flew from state to state.

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They absolutely loved stopping at each state line to pose for a picture.

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In all honesty, it was fun. We were all truly enjoying ourselves.

We stopped for dinner that night in Birmingham, Alabama. The kids were chomping down their food when I heard thunder. I wasn’t worried. I spent six years living in Texas. I’ve been through storms. I was sure we’d be back on the road soon. Then the rain came down in sheets. I still didn’t worry. Surely, the storm would pass and we’d get back on the road soon. Then I checked the weather app on my phone. I found out that we were in the center of a severe thunder storm with a tornado watch and it would be moving towards Louisiana along the same path we would be taking. The storm worsened as we ate and when we finished eating, I found a hotel nearby and we called it a night. Slightly defeated, I went to bed vowing to get up early to make up for lost time.

Which of course didn’t happen. The kids were not looking forward to another day on the road and my oldest kind of lost it. He wanted to stay in bed. Then he did not want to eat breakfast. Then he didn’t want to leave the hotel dining area to get in the car. When all the tears and tantrums stopped, we were about an hour behind schedule.

Determined not to let it upset me, I sang silly songs with the kids. I played a new audio book. I pointed out interesting landmarks as we drove. We entered Mississippi early in the day.

Soon we were closing in on the Mississippi River and the Louisiana border. The kids were gleefully trying to spell Mississippi in the back seat. A sign indicated we would be to the border in about 20 minutes.

Then it happened. 

My map app chirped at me that my ETA was four hours later than before. Confused, I thought I had missed a turn. Just then, the traffic stopped. Not slowed. Stopped. We were stopped on the freeway. I checked the app and saw that the traffic was stopped for about five miles.

We stopped behind a truck load of livestock. Very stinky livestock.

We waited. The kids started to get fussy. My daughter cried about the smell.

(I wanted to cry about the smell, but I am a grown-up and I am not supposed to cry about such things.) 

After about an hour my three year old began to scream,

I…have…to…POOP!!!”

Over and over again.

He’s well potty trained. I did not bring diapers.

I looked around me, cursing the landscape for not providing trees to poop behind.

More screaming. For another TWO HOURS.

My map app chirped that I could save time if I got off the highway.

The exit was ahead about 1000 feet. Maybe more. I am a terrible at judging distance. I’m a writer, okay? It’s not my thing.

I drove on the freaking shoulder, desperate to get off the highway and to a a toilet.

I don’t do that normally. Usually, I silently curse the people who think they can create their own lane on the road by driving on grass. But I did it. And I am not sorry.

So I get off the highway and realize that there’s not a toilet in sight. There’s nothing in sight. In fact, I start to worry that my map app has tricked me into a slow death in backwoods Mississippi, because this is the road it took me on:

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For three miles, I drove down this dirt road, fearfully wondering what I’d gotten myself into.

After what felt like hours, the dirt road intersected with a real road and took me back to the highway. And a gas station. With a toilet.

And you know what happened?

My son refused to poop.

He “didn’t like” the toilet, so he would not go.

After bashing my head into a wall repeatedly,(*not really*), I got gas, got back on the road, and soon found myself in Louisiana.

We didn’t stop for a picture.

We made it to the Texas border before sunset and made it to Dallas before bedtime.

My eye may or may not have been twitching when we got there.

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(Yes, we stopped at the TX border. My three year old still had to poop. He didn’t like the toilet in TX either.) 

We had a great time in Texas. The tour was wonderful, really. I had so much fun meeting young fans and hearing what they had to say about my book. One sweet little girl came up to me, hugging her copy of my book and told me it was her favorite book ever. It made my day week year.

I loved the actual tour part of the trip. I can’t express fully how much I love these speaking engagements.

We also saw so many great friends and got to visit some of our favorite parts of Dallas.

 

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The drive back was filled with more storms, but otherwise went okay.

Plus, we got to stop in Bucksnort, TN. Don’t be too jealous.

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(In all seriousness, Bucksnort seemed like a nice little town, but what is with that name?!) 

We made it safely back home to North Carolina and we were all relieved.

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And here’s the part that makes me question my sanity:

I can’t wait to do it again.

 

Learning on the Road

1a

I am preparing to take “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” on tour! As this is my first book and first book tour, this is a new experience for me. I will be heading to the Dallas, TX area in early March. I am just a little excited. Or a lot.

So are the kids.

I am taking them with me. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have a lot of options other than to take them with me. Thankfully, I picked Dallas as a destination because we lived there for almost six years. We have friends there who will help me out during events. That will make our trip so much easier. This trip is basically a trial run to see if I can handle touring with the book to other destinations with my sweet little brood tagging along.

My kids are great travelers. We’ve done a lot of road trips with them. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much that can’t be learned at home or in a classroom. It’a one thing to read about dolphins. It’s another thing all together to watch them jump and play in the Gulf of Mexico. But where there’s lots of driving, there’s often antsy kids. And when kids are away from their routine, be it homeschool or traditional schooling, a lot of parents get anxious about learning. I thought I would put this post full of tips together to help remind myself of all of the great experiences we’ve had on the road and to help other families as they embark on their own adventures.

Stephenie’s Tips For Keeping Learning Alive and Keeping Parents Sane on the Road: 

books

Two of my three kids are great readers. They will happily read for hours, at home or on the road. We always bring stacks and stacks of books with us on the road. If you are worried about keeping up a school schedule, this can be a great way to keep up on assigned reading. We usually bring books they’ve chosen as well as some that relate to our destination. On our last few trips, we’ve added audiobooks as well.  There is something wonderful about audiobooks. They keep everyone happy and engaged and as a bonus, their eyes are free to take in all the changing scenery. We’ve been going through the “Harry Potter” series on car trips and I enjoy that as I am also a huge fan of the books. It makes the time pass by more quickly for the parents as well as the kids.

geo

If you will encounter geological features vastly different from those in your hometown as you drive, this is a wonderful time to discuss and explore geology. The depth of this discussion will obviously vary based on the ages of your kids, but if you are going to be passing somewhere like Mount Saint Helens or the Grand Canyon, you can learn a ton!

explorenature

Whatever your natural surroundings may be, take time to stop and explore. First off, as much as you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, your kids will be happier if you stop and stretch your legs from time to time. Also, kids can benefit a ton from nature study. We always bring nature journals with us on the road. That way they can make observations about the world around them on a short hike. Younger kids may just doodle, but older kids can take notes on animals they encounter, plants they want to identify later, or tracks they find in the dirt. And did I mention they can get out some pent up energy? Because that matters on a a long trip. A lot. 

history

If you pass a battleground, get out of the car and explore. Go slightly off course if it will make a trip to a great art museum possible. Get out of the car and enjoy new areas as you pass through them. There’s always something to learn if you just look for it.

FUN

While driving and when you get to your final destination, don’t forget that it’s okay to relax! You don’t have to schedule every moment. You and your kids will be happier and more open to learning if there’s time for fun as well!

I hope these tips help you enjoy a roadschooling adventure! I can’t wait to get on the road for my “Nellie Nova” tour with my sweet little assistants by my side.