Hmmm… I remember the days when I consumed large amounts of coffee on a trip to stay awake to drive so I wouldn’t have to change diapers and feed the baby. Now all that is just a blur… in fact we often refer to those days as “The Blur”.

I digress now… I mentioned a “Change Pot” before, where we save up coins and miscellaneous money from pop cans, random money from couch cushions, selling stuff on Craigslist and E-bay, etc. The money goes into a piggy bank and when it gets full, we bring it to the bank and I match the money dollar for dollar to double it.

The kids have wanted to take a trip to the Wisconsin Dells for quite some time, and my summers are pretty busy chartering, so we had to delay it until after my busy season. The Dells is better weatherwise in the summer, but it’s not busy in September, so it wasn’t hard to convince them that it’s not a bad time to go.

At a recent family meeting, we discussed the trip… “How much money do we have and what can we afford to do?” I asked them. “Let’s count the money in the change pot and see,” Stanley suggested. After the meeting, they made piles of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies and a small stack of bills. $78.78 was the total… added to our seven hundred-some in the credit union account and multiplying by two (which is what I agreed to kick in) we would have over $1400 to spend on a trip. From what we could figure, the trip would be much less than that.

Joyce agreed to keep track of the expenses, as I would charge them to my card, and deduct it from their CU account. We knew we’d have to pay for: Gas, lodging, park passes, food – eating out and any extra snacks, and any extracurricular activities they want to do on the trip. If someone wanted to spend change pot money, they’d all have to agree or, if not in agreement, anyone not participating would get to do something else. Another option was to take some of their own money and pay for their own fun stuff.

By the way, the two boys who chose to stay home forfeited their vacation. Calvin stayed home because he thought it’d be boring, and Andy stayed home to play football. Darlene would have come, except she left on an extended trip to Nicaragua with her sister-in-law. That only left us with Joyce, Stanley and Bruce… we also took Cade and Sven, two of their cousins… a small and easy-to-handle family when we were used to taking lots of kids of all ages!

As we wandered downtown in the Dells and mostly window-shopped, the kids poked their noses in a fudge shop for free smells and were overcome by the aroma and just had to have some fresh fudge. In a quick powwow, they decided to spend some change pot money for a couple pounds of sweet treats.

Boys At Dells Jpoyuce at Dells

At the outdoor park, a “sling-shot” ride, where two riders would get flung 150 feet in the air in a cage attached to bungee cords, got their attention… and yours truly, also. Not everyone wanted to do it, so it was paid for with individual funds by Stanley, Joyce, Cade and myself. The others just watched. Then I bought a DVD of the ride as a souvenir. (See a video of Joyce and Cade here) The restaurant meals, paid by change pot money, consisted of Pizza, I-hop and splurging at the Texas Roadhouse.

I type this on the way home in the van and marvel at the change in our lives from noisy, hectic travel and the memories of… “can’t wait to get home and get the kids in their own beds,” to the peace and quiet as we travel with the youngest one who is almost 10 years old. Back then, I usually did the driving in order to avoid the diaper changing and bottle feeding on the road. Now our youngest girl, Joyce is behind the wheel and the van is quiet… Hmmm, maybe we’ll have to do this more often.

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