By LINDA A. FOX
General George C. Patton had nothing on a mom preparing for the seasonís first "landing" at the summer cottage. Getting the supplies, the troops and the transportation organized can be as complicated as maneuvering a troop of Marines.
Just ask Terri Kinghorn, a busy professional and the mother of two young children. Along with her husband, Andrew, she sets about making sure everything is packed and on schedule for the first weekend by the lake. That means checking off a list of items for everyone in the family Ė including the dog.
"The first trek of the year is always the biggest," says Terri. "We do a huge shopping and get all the staples which will last, hopefully, for the summer."
Terriís list includes such essentials as ketchup, mustard, relish, macaroni, spaghetti, BBQ sauce, paper towels, paper plates, and cleaning supplies such as detergent and J-Cloths.
The Kinghorns donít take a lot of meat up to the cottage from their home base in Mississauga, Ont. Why? Because the hydro power is not too reliable at the cottage and they never know when the freezer might be off for a couple of hours. Terri says they go into a nearby town when they need to buy steaks or burgers for the grill.
And remember the dog! "We forgot the dog food a couple of times," says Terri. "But we managed, as there is dog food there belonging to my father-in-lawís dog. We are so busy remembering everything for the kids, that the dog only gets a second thought!"
Next she organizes the bedding.
"Anything we can spare from the house goes with us," she says. "Older towels and sheets for the family and extras in case we have guests. Sometimes we ask guests to bring their own sheet and blanket or towels, if they wish."
The family also takes as many clothes as possible on the first visit of the season. That way, says Terri, they have enough clothes for the summer and only have to bring home the dirty clothes on the return trip.
And the most important thing for kids? Terri says forget about packing a million toys; the most important thing to pack for kids is the medicine cabinet.
"The last thing you want when you are miles from a hospital is a sick kid," she says. "We pack lots of kids Tylenol, calamine lotion, decongestant, Benedryl and Band-Aids. Sun screen is also high on the list."
Another sound piece of advice is "donít forget your health insurance cards." The Kinghorns have had to take the kids to the nearest hospital a few times.
As for entertaining the children, the family keeps lots of games, puzzles, and movies for the VCR at the cottage. "Each summer these all seem brand new to the kids, as they havenít seen them for most of the year," Terri notes. "And if the weather is nice, the whole family is taking advantage of the lake, swimming, fishing, or boating."
When they get bored they will revert to the same things they do at home. Ryan will play with his mini-hockey stick in the basement and Alison plays with her Barbie dolls.
Terri says she and her husband have specific tasks in getting ready for the troop maneuvers.
"Iím in charge of food, bedding, clothes and the kidsí stuff," she says. "And Andrew looks after outside stuff, such as fishing gear, life jackets and loading the van. Weíve got it down to a science by now."
Andrew is also in charge of making sure the van is in good condition Ė checking that the tire pressure and the windshield washer fluid are both topped up for the long drive.
By the time the family is nearing their destination, Terri and Andrew usually pull in to a local store and pick-up last minute essentials such as milk, penny candy for the kids and those all-important worms for fishing.
Then there are those cottage visitors who are invited up each year.
"We have one family of friends who join us each year," says Terri. "They bring everything up here but the kitchen sink. It is unbelievable. They end up packing 80% of it back in their car, unused."
The key is to plan wisely, know what you need from past experience and relax. "Isnít that the whole point of a cottage getaway?" says Terri.