Passport pandemonium

December 22, 2008

by Jen Bakken

February will be the month we leave Delano for the first time and take a family trip. That is, unless you count nine years of hockey tournaments in Minnesota and Wisconsin as family trips.

We will not only leave Delano, but the country all together. The Minnesota cold will be far behind us as we step off the plane in Mazatlan, Mexico.

My dad was recently diagnosed with cancer, and my parents decided a family trip was in order. By February, he should be finished with cancer treatments, for awhile, and by then, we should all be ready for nice warm weather.

Our family, including eight adults and seven children, ranging in age from 1 to 11 years old, has never done anything like this. In the midst of cancer, it has given my dad and all of us something to look forward to.

But, aside from the fun in putting together a vacation, there is much necessary planning, as well. Last week, the kids and I made a trip to the Wright County Government Center to obtain passports. I really didn’t know all that was involved in this process.

First, I found out that each person needed to have a certified copy of their birth certificate. The one given in the hospital, when babies are born, doesn’t count because it is without the required seal.

Fortunately, the certified birth certificates can be purchased at the same time you apply for the passports.

Once you have the certified copies of the birth certificates, each person has to fill out a two-page form. Young children need to have both parents present to fill out and sign the form. This meant, since I am divorced, my ex-husband had to take a morning off work to help apply for the children’s passports.

Next, each of us posed for a picture. I wasn’t happy with mine, but didn’t want to prolong the passport pandemonium just to beg for a photograph that satisfied me. (I never like pictures of myself anyway.)

After our photo session came the most painful part, paying for it all. It cost $64 for the certified copies of our birth certificates, $100 for the passport application fees, $40 for the passport photos, and $270 for the passports. That’s $474, before we have even left the state.

Thank goodness my parents are paying for this, or we would have been left in Delano continuing to suffer through the February winter cold. They aren’t independently wealthy by any means, but decided to take the family on this once-in-a lifetime vacation while my dad is able to. Just think of the wonderful memories we will be creating!

Once the whole passport process was taken care of, the woman behind the counter at the Wright County Government Center instructed us to raise our right hands and make a statement. My daughter immediately put her left hand in the air and had to be instructed to use her “other” right, after giggles erupted from her older brother.

Finally, we were able to put the passport pandemonium behind us. The kids found the whole process boring, of course, but didn’t complain once I reminded them they were going to Mexico.

Now, we need to plan what we can and can’t bring on the airplane. My younger two have never been on an airplane so they can barely contain their excitement.

My dad has been busy planning different activities for us to do while in Mexico. There was talk about a fishing trip, but I will opt out of that one. Though I enjoy fishing, I don’t enjoy being on the ocean. As a teenager, I took a short trip on my uncle’s fishing boat in Oregon. Let’s just say I’m a Minnesota gal and love being on the lakes, but the ocean doesn’t like me!

One thing I have planned is for the kids and I is to go volunteer in an orphanage. It’s something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember.

If you have any suggestions on activities to do while in Mazatlan, or places to see – send me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you.