Our Family Unit
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  • February13th

    Hwy 101

    Remember us?  Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; this has been a crazy month for us.  Kyle’s video game is officially complete, so he was able to take some time off work and we took advantage of it.  Not everything went as planned (roof rat infestation in the garage), but things were crossed off the list (kids are currently sleeping in bunk beds).  However, the BIG EVENT was our 10 day camping trip up the coast along Highway 101.

    OR Trip day 1-5

    Kyle has been dieing to get in the camper and just go, so that’s what we did…after some tweaking.  At first, we thought we would head south to AZ and NM, thinking that South = Warm.  But after taking a look at the weather, we realized that the coast would give us the warmest nights, albeit highs in the 30′s.  So Kyle did some mods to the Roo (more on those later) to ensure that everyone would be warm and toasty and we headed north to see the Giant Redwoods.

    The first day out, I used some travel app to find a cool place to eat lunch along side the road.  It said there was a wrist wrestling monument in Petaluma and it had a picture of it similar to this.

    OR Trip day 1-2

    In my mind I was picturing something like The Awakening that the kids could climb all over while we ate  our little sack lunch.  In stead, this is what we got.  Fortunately, not all our stops were this underwhelming.

    OR Trip day 1-1

    We drove until it was dark and stopped for the first night in Benbow, CA.  The next morning, we woke up to an absolutely gorgeous day and enjoyed driving the awe inspiring Avenue of the Giants.  After staying at the Vacation House in Pepperwood 2 years ago (when Jessie was Buzz’s age), it became one of Kyle’s favorite places.  It’s hard to get a grasp on just how big these trees are, but take a look at our drive on the 101.

    big tree drive-1

    It truly is one of the most incredible places on earth.  You cannot help but stand in awe at God’s greatness when you’re standing at the base of these trees, feeling like you’re in a real life Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  But we couldn’t stay long, we were just passing through…headed north to see what we could see.

    OR Trip day 1-3

    See the rest of the trip!

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  • January23rd

    My kids may or may not think it’s the 1960′s.  Personally, I can’t stand shows like Yo Gabba Gabba or Spongebob Squarepants.  I’m not saying they’re evil, I honestly just don’t watch them because they DRIVE ME CRAZY!  So instead, when my kids watch TV it’s shows like Leave It To Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show or the original Batman.

    Batman has been the current favorite lately.  They love it and I think the cheesiness of it all is hysterical.  (For instance, the Dynamic Duo doesn’t drive the Bat-mobile unless they have their seat belts on.  Safety is always at the forefront of any crime fighters mind.)  Woody is Batman and Jessie is Robin and they get calls on the red Bat-phone from Commissioner Gordon.  Then they dash off to fight imaginary villains with “POW” and “BANG” punches.

    For Christmas, they each got a couple of costumes to help with the adventure.  These are brought out at least 5 times a week!  Usually while Jessie is singing “Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na BATMAN!”  Woody felt bad that Robin didn’t have a song, so he made one up for him/her.  It’s all about how Robin can fight as good as Batman, isn’t that adorable?

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  • January18th

    After 46 hours in the car, over 2600 miles, across 5 states, with 20 iPad apps12 roadside meals, 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 car topper – was the Road Trip with Kids worth it?  Would we do it again?  YES!  Absolutely!  But we did learn a few things along the way…

    1) Hotels that serve breakfasts are our friends!  It worked well to let the kids sleep as long as possible while Kyle packed the car and I went to the lobby to bring back waffles and cereal for everyone.  That way, once we were in the car, we were ready to just drive.  Less putting on/taking off of coats and boots and seat belts.

    2) Run around time is critical for the kids!  On the very last day, we pushed too hard to get home.  Kyle and I were “over” traveling and just wanted to get home so we drove the last leg in 12 hours (what had taken us 14 the time before).  But it was too much for the kids.  They were restless and cranky and poor Buzz was not loving his carseat at that point.  I think we would have had a happier last 2 hours if we’d stopped more earlier in the day.

    3) Don’t count on your kids to sleep in the car!  Everyone we asked and every blog I read told us to drive while the kids were sleeping, so we tried it the first day.  We got up early and started out while it was still dark.  But the kids never went to sleep!  Even at nap time, we were lucky to get them to nod off for 30 minutes.  It just made for tired kids and cranky parents.  Neither Kyle nor I are morning people, so we were hating the early morning start just as much as the kids.  In the future, we won’t expect sleeping and will do what’s best for all of us.

    4) Make the trip itself an adventure!  Do things out of the norm.  Take the time to make some memories and talk it up to your kids.  Opening a “surprise” from the $1 Store can be thrilling to a 4 year old, or boring.  It’s up to me to make the difference.  Stopping to take a picture at the state sign can be cold, annoying and slow you down…or it can be exciting, silly and fun to stomp in the snow.

    Don’t be afraid to try it; it can be a lot of fun.  Sure it takes prep, it can be tiresome, the kids will have a melt down here and there…but that’s not the whole story.  It’s a chance to spend time with your kids without interruption, it gives an opportunity for those long and deep conversations with your spouse, it’s a gift to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation…it will make a memory.

     

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  • January17th

    Four solid days of driving meant at least 12 meals along the road or in the car, not to mention snacks.  With a preschooler and a toddler, I needed a strategy.  Most of the time, I knew we’d be getting out of the car for meals, if for nothing else than to let the kids stretch their legs.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to work best for us to have the food location as close as possible to the gas location.  This usually reduces options down to fast food, although we did eat burgers at one truck stop diner (where all the waitresses came and gathered around our table to talk to the kids and coo at the baby.  I know their motives were sweet, but it’s kind of awkward to have people just stand around and watch you eat).  Other than that, it was Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Arby’s.  The one good thing about these places is that they all have things the kids are guaranteed to eat.  The last thing any of us needed was a food stand off.

    As for the people fuel along the way, Kyle’s requirements were Snickers and Salt & Pepper Sunflower Seeds.  He loves these so much he actually asked for them for his birthday one year.  This is the go to “stay awake snack”.  For the rest of us, we of course had frosted Christmas cookies and then some variety from Costco, a bit of sweet and a bit of salty (Goldfish, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Animal Crackers and Protein Bars).   I am a cheese-aholic and am raising my kids to be the same, so we’re never too far from a block of Cheddar.  We took that and a few Granny Smith apples for another mess-free option.  For drinks, we just grabbed water whenever we stopped for gas.

    One of the frustrating things about a kid eating in a carseat is that those straps and buckles make it impossible to reach any cup holders or cubbies in the car.  So we got a few things to help with that.  First, these Snack and Play Travel Trays fasten around the entire carseat and make a great table top.  I especially like that it has the lip around the edge, which helps keep rolling markers and pencils corralled.

     

    Secondly, we took along our Snack Catchers and I purchased two BooginHead SippiGrips.  The Snack Catchers are brilliant and the SippiGrips did what they were supposed to (kept the dropped cup from rolling from the front of the car floor to the rear and back again) and also let the kids reach their drink without a cup holder but I was disappointed with the cups themselves.  Is there such a thing as a leak free Straw Cup??  Anyone?

    Traveling with a baby means we, of course, had tons of baby wipes.  They make clean up so easy for just about anything though, that I think they’re just as essential to every car as a registration and insurance.  :)  I couldn’t have been happier about the kids’ attitudes toward the trip; they all did great.  But with food, just like with toys or apps, I think variety is what saved the day.

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