Road Trip Hacks for Toddlers

Only about a month late (slaps wrist) but I still wanted to share our road trip hacks from our recent trip to Colorado.

Most of my ideas were focused around Isaiah because of his age (3.5). Lucky for us, Samuel is still thrilled with anything that shines or jingles. ;)

I had several tricks up my sleeve, but here are the top five that helped salvage our sanity on our fourteen hour drive.

Road Trip Hacks for Toddlers

1. Behavior Bags: Before we left, I raided the local dollar store for little treats and trinkets that would fit into brown paper bags. I tried to make them activity based, to keep him busy. Then every so often, when Isaiah was “making good choices” (as we call it) he’d get a good behavior bag. It gave him something to look forward to, and gave us some bargaining chips to stop the “are we there yet’s”.

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

2. Suction Cup Caddy: I also picked up a small suction cup shower caddy to place on Isaiah’s window. He’s really into action figures right now. And I just knew I’d be constantly turning around to fetch any who “fell behind.” (See what I did there?) We placed the caddy right within his reach, and it worked like a charm. 

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

3. Dollar Store Tray: Y’all. This one might have been my very favorite. Even over the shower caddy. When I was in the dollar store, I spotted a junior sized party tray and I snagged it. I thought it would be perfect for containing snacks and meals on-the-go. But we used it for so much more. It helped hold the iPad for movie time, cards for card games, and so many other activities. (And yes, that’s play dough in the car. I was brave.) I loved it so much, I went back for another one once we got back into town. Gotta plan ahead for Samuel!

 Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

4. Busy Binder: I’ve seen sweet little busy books before, and they are adorable. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized they wouldn’t hold Isaiah’s attention. So I made him his own busy binder. I did my best to make it into a “big boy binder” so it would be special to him. I filled it with ruled paper, stickers, crayons, and stamps. Although I think his favorite part was his very own Transformers notebook. ;) 

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

5. Sippy Cup Lasso: One thing I totally anticipated, was Isaiah dropping his sippy cup HALF A MILLION TIMES. So I got smart, and lassoed the cup to his car seat. I simply used an old piece of ribbon, and secured it to the base of his buckle strap. Did it stop the cup from falling? No. Did it stop this Momma from turning around a million times to retrieve it? Yes. And that was worth its weight in gold. 

There you have it. Hope these tricks help you half as much as they helped me! 

The “Perfect” Vacation

We’re back from Colorado. And we’ve recovered.

Mostly.

We spent the past week in beautiful Estes Park, with wonderful and cherished friends. It couldn’t have been more amazing.

And if you know anything about our trip, you might think I was crazy to say that.

We won’t talk about the “how” (because it might be the parenting FAIL of the century) but during our drive up, Sammy took about a four foot tumble–landing head first onto asphalt. We stopped right where we were and called our doctor, who advised us to stay put and watch him closely.

We did just that, in a nearby Barnes and Noble (which turned out to be the perfect place). And as soon as we were out of the woods for any real danger (Praise God) we got back on the road.

We arrived in Estes Park around 11pm (our fourteen hour road trip turned eighteen) and put the kids to bed. Then at 12:45pm sharp, I woke up to the most horrifying scream. You know the kind…where you leap straight out of bed, lump in your throat, running to get to your child before your eyes have even adjusted?

Poor Isaiah was sick. And since this was his first “stomach bug” experience, he was terrified. We did our best to calm him, but the episodes went on well into the morning.

Then I caught his bug, and well…by day 4 of our 7 day vacation, after visiting the Urgent Care in town, things finally started to normalize.

And if that wasn’t enough, I broke my toe on the last day there. No, not hiking. Kicking my suitcase while packing. (I think I should make up a better story, don’t you? How’s this: I got in a kickboxing fight. With a bear. )

With such an “eventful” trip…it would be easy to think we felt cheated. Right?

But the thing is, it truly was amazing.

Was our vacation perfect? No. But in my humble opinion, it was pretty darn close.

We had a terrifying accident on the way up, but were blessed with great doctors to see us through. The Barnes and Noble staff let us camp out on their floor, and turned the other cheek as our kids ripped apart the Children’s section (still sorry about that, B&N). The kindness they displayed to a Mother in tears was simply overwhelming.

When we were up all night with Isaiah, we woke up to dear friends taking care of us. They cooked us breakfast and offered to watch Samuel. They were the epitome of grace, even after we exposed their kids to our sickness (and us Mama Bears know how frustrating that is…on vacation no less).

Sure, we were pretty much house-bound for the first three days, but the views were spectacular. I mean, if you are going to be sick, by all means…do it near Rocky Mountain National Park!

And I broke my toe, yes. But on the very last night. No hiking in sight, just a two day car-ride ahead of us, and the perfect opportunity to “ice and elevate.”

Upon our return to Dallas, I learned of a family who was tragically killed on their way home from their own family vacation–not far from where we had been. A fatigued driver hit them head on. And they’ve been on my mind ever since.

So how was our vacation? Let me tell you. It was pretty amazing. We saw some beautiful sights, and spent wonderful time with friends. But more than that? My family is well, my foot is mending, and we are all home safe and sound. And we are blessed beyond measure. Rich in friendship and love.

Who could ask for anything more.

Thanks for the memories, Colorado. It honestly couldn’t have been any closer to “perfect.”

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How To Pack For Little Ones

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I’ve been packing all week for an upcoming family trip. It’s not a long one, but I think we all know that time doesn’t change the amount of crap you need for a baby and a toddler.

Traveling with little kids should be some kind of Olympic Sport.

P.S. I need to write a post about how Moms pack vs. Dads. I swear I’ve planned for every possible natural disaster that could occur and prepared for it, and Michael will most definitely pack thirty minutes before we leave. 

I’ve been making lists in my head for weeks–what to bring, what to leave, and what not to forget on our way out the door. I’ve been doing my best to think of anything and everything we could possibly need–anything that might make our trip just that much easier.

But as I loaded up the suitcases with swimsuits, baby food, bottles, and outlet covers (I could go on)…I began to realize I had the packing list all wrong.

If you plan on traveling with little kids anytime soon, you’re in luck. Hot off the press, here’s my recommended packing list:

 

What to bring with you:

1. Patience- And lots of it. Really, fill your whole suitcase with it if you can. Because no matter how much you plan, you’ll never be prepared. But welcome to kids, right?

2. Humility- By definition, humility means having a low view of one’s own importance. Even if this trip is for you, guess what…it’s not. The days will revolve around your kids if they are little. Check your ego with your luggage.

3. Strength- Everyone has their own source of strength. For me, it’s prayer and meditation. For others, it’s coffee. Whatever your source, find it and pack it–lots of it. And while you’re at it, bring back up.

 

What to leave behind:

1. Agenda- Make plans, sure. But be ready to throw them out the window. And guess what? That’s okay. Us “Type-A” personalities can really benefit from the lessons kids teach us, especially while on vacation. Life doesn’t always have to be planned. Roll with it. Enjoy it.

2. Expectations- A wise friend once told me she always travels with the same mantra…“Raise your tolerance and lower your expectations.” I’ve been repeating that  mantra ever since. Traveling with kids takes it to an entirely new level. But somehow keeping the above in mind brings a sort of serenity that washes over everyone around you. Say it with me, “lower your expectations.” Better yet, leave them at home.

3. Inhibitions- This one’s a  good one, and my personal favorite. The best part about traveling with kids is seeing (and experiencing) everything the way they do. Ice cream at 9am? Why the heck not. Jumping in the pool at midnight? In your pajamas? Bring it. You can’t experience each other when you are closed off to the opportunities life brings–to the opportunities your children bring. And if you have older kids? Just try it. Lose your inhibitions, and watch theirs melt away. BONDING. CENTRAL.  Because really, isn’t that what traveling with family is all about?

 

Oh, and Sunscreen. Whatever you do, don’t forget sunscreen.

Sonoma

Back from a week in Sonoma and still wishing I had a glass of wine in my hand. It’s such a heavenly place, with golden hills and row after row of beautiful vineyards. Seeing those vines up close, some upwards of thirty years and still not yet at their prime…made me think about the importance of time in our own lives.

It takes time for us to heal, to mourn, and to forgive. But it also takes time to grow, mature, and become who we were really meant to be. We need it, to be us.

If I had a glass in my hand, I’d raise it.

To “time”. Cheers.




St. Barths

We’re back from St. Barths, with a new obsession for Orangina.

What a wonderful holiday it was. They speak nothing but French in St. Barths (which was quite the challenge for these two Texans) but we managed just fine. Let’s just say we based our food purchases off of the package pictures, which wasn’t 100% fool-proof, but hey…you do what you can.

We rented our own little villa and made it our own little paradise. Wonderful people, beautiful beaches, and your best friend at your side. What more could you ask for?

The abridged album is here…trust us, you don’t want to weed through all 200 photos. We’ve also placed a few below to give you a little taste of the island. Enjoy!

No soup for you!

Just kidding, you can have a bowl.

When we were in NY, we happened upon this lovely little place called Hale and Hearty. For all you New Yorkers… run, don’t walk. It’s a soup and sandwich place, but specializing in soups. While we were there, it just so happened that I was getting over a hateful cold, and Michael was just coming down with one.

When I saw this place, I insisted we step inside. I had the “Green and Yellow Pea” and Michael had the “Chicken Vegetable”. (I adore pea soup. Little known fact. It all started with Pea Soup Andersen’s.)

Both were to die for. The beauty of this place was not only the quality, but the quantity. On any given day they have around 20 soups to choose from. And they let you taste as many as you like, people!

I got to thinking. Soup has pretty much seen its day. But why? I would love to see a resurgence in soup. There’s nothing more calming, more comforting, whether you are sick or simply worn from the week.

So why is it that we take casseroles to friends and family who are ill? Or just had a baby? Why would we not send soup to soothe the soul? I think that’s going to be my new M.O.

Soup. It’s what’s for dinner.