Road Trips with Young Kids: You can DO IT!

Traveling with kids is the BEST. And, at the same time, traveling with kids is the WORST.  Every parent understands.  The meaning of vacation shifts as you become a parent. It doesn’t evoke feelings of calm, restful, carefree days.  The word I like to use is trip instead of vacation.  You are traveling to a new place with your kids, but it probably won’t be calm or relaxing. But you will make memories.  It WILL be worth it!

Here are my tried-and-true tips to help you actually enjoy your trip.  Maybe it will even feel a BIT like a vacation!

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This was our biggest road trip: Minnesota to Colorado with two little kids!

1. Pack one big bag, not small ones.

Walking into a hotel or camp with one big suitcase (preferably on wheels!) is so much easier than hauling six separate bags.  The fear is that it will get all mixed up with everyone’s things, dirty and clean, in one bag.  One way to avoid that is to bring a separate laundry bag (even just a big garbage bag), so that there will never be dirty laundry mixed in with clean clothes.

*One caveat: If your kids are old enough to carry their own bag, I would change this tip.  Let each kid who can carry their own bag have their own backpack of their things.  Then pack the rest of the family in one big suitcase.  I would start this at age four or five, depending on their endurance.  This teaches them responsibility, and saves you from carrying EVERYTHING!

2. Ziplocks and plastic bags

This is a MUST.  Bring ziplocks and plastic grocery bags for all the things that will be wet, leak, or be dirty.  Bring extras.  Throw the wet swimsuits in these bags to avoid getting all the other clean things wet.  Throw the leaking shampoo in one.  Throw the sand toys in one!  When a kid pukes, throw the nasty towel in there. You will need them, trust me!  This brings me to the next tip…

3. Plan for sickness.

Even if your kids are healthy, and good travelers, plan for the worst!  This, unfortunately, we learned the hard way.  Nothing is worse than a kid vomiting in the car, except for when a kids pukes in a car and you’re unprepared.  I always throw a small empty bucket, a rag or towel, and some extra clothes for each kid in the backseat.  A little prep work here can save you HOURS on the road.

4. Don’t stress if you forget! Buy it!

Yes, I know that finances are tight for everyone.  You don’t want to be running to Walmart on vacation if you don’t have to.  But there are very few things that are truly irreplaceable.  For me, the only truly irreplaceable things are my glasses and contacts and my baby’s one specific kind of formula that she likes from Costco.  Pretty much anything else that’s forgotten (toothbrushes, underwear, deodorant, charger, etc.) can be replaced if needed.  So don’t stress about it.  Focus on the irreplaceable things and relax.


Moms and Dads, what would you add to my list?


#roadtrip #family memories #vacation #travel #travelwithkids

Jesus first this Christmas: Set up a nativity!

Put Jesus first this season.  

The order of things matters. In the Bible, order mattered a lot. The significance of giving your “first fruits” of your labor to God as a tithe is stressed. The firstborn had more status and responsibility. So when it comes to little things like Christmas, I think the order matters too. That’s why we put up our nativity FIRST. Before we pull out the tree, the lights, the presents, the stockings. We set the tone for the season. This holiday is not about the “stuff,” but about the KING!

Our pastor once preached about having the nativity as a central part of your holiday season, and Paul and I went straight out and bought a set that day. It doesn’t matter what kind you get- a table top set, a picture for the wall, a big plastic one for the yard. Just make it a priority in your family!

Make the Christmas story kid-accessible.

There’s something about nativity scenes that draw a child in, and they want to touch, rearrange, and yes, PLAY! So make it accessible for them. That may mean buying a toy nativity, or just letting them touch a fancy one. That may mean rearranging your house to set the nativity somewhere they can touch it.

During the holidays when we were in our old house, we would move a coffee table over to a spot where it could display the nativity. Kayla, my daughter, was always over there, touching the characters, acting out the story, and having fun with it.

Kids need the chance to interact with the story- to pretend, play, act it out. It makes it more real to them. So you may have to let go of your perfect display for the sake of letting your child have some fun with the nativity.

Tell the story.

The last thing I want to mention is that having a nativity out is the perfect chance for you, as the parent, to act out the story with your kids. Take the characters and talk about what part they played in the story. Make it age appropriate, telling more details as they get older.

Kayla is six this year and has asked a few questions about Mary and Joseph like, “Who was Jesus’ real dad- God or Joseph?” and “What are these presents that they wise men brought?” Let your child lead the discussion and present this amazing story to them.

Don’t hesitate to drop in the theology and importance of it. Tell them how amazing it was that God gave his only son to the earth to give us a way back to God. Tell them that Jesus was a real, actual person like us that walked on the earth. And use this season to lead them to the most amazing gift- a personal relationship with Jesus. Moms and dads, this is a fantastic opportunity each holiday season. Don’t let it get shuffled away with the events and excitement of the season. Make it count this year. Put Jesus first.


4th of July Fun Foods for Kids!

We love the 4th of July around here! We love the parades, the patriotism, the flags, the family fun, and of course… THE FOOD!  Here are three fun, easy things to do with the kids this 4th of July!


Slice a watermelon thinly, like about a quarter of an inch.  I do this on a cookie tray to keep the juice contained.  Then use a small star cookie cutter to cut up the watermelon into cute stars.  Mix with blueberries for a festive, healthy treat!



So fun!  Melt white chocolate bark in the microwave until it is a smooth texture.  Get blue sprinkles and put in a small dish.  Then dip a strawberry into the chocolate, then the tip into the sprinkles, and lay on wax paper to harden!  Enjoy!




You need some refreshments with those kiddos!  The hard part of this project is getting the right drinks at the store.  You cannot buy just any kind of juice.  You need to buy ones with three different sugar contents.  So I found these:


White: Gatorade frost, 34g of sugar

Red: Hawaiian Punch, 14g of sugar

Blue: Gatorade G2, 7g of sugar


Then, the trick is to put the highest sugar content in first, so the white drink first in this case.  Then, put the ice in.  When you put the next two colors in, pour the juice onto the ice.  It will help the colors stay more separate.


Add in your last color, and you’re done!   So fun!

*The white got a little mixed in with the red on this pic!*



Happy 4th!




Resolutions… Plans with deadlines

I am a firm believe in resolutions.   And if anyone has set a resolution, worked toward it, and felt the satisfaction of accomplishing it, you understand why.  It’s so worth it.  I don’t set typical resolutions (weight loss, financial, etc.), I set very specific, reachable goals.  I think this goal-setting is in my DNA.  I write it down here for some accountability and to check in periodically.  Here are my goals, with some explanation.


  1. Improve my 5k time.

Running has become a hobby and I want to take it to the next level, where it become more of a routine.  So a time goal will help motivate me.  Also…

2. Run 5 miles without stopping.

Similarly to the first, I need a time and a distance goal.  I have not run 5 miles without stopping since about 2011, so it’s time to focus on that one!

3.Write in my girls’ journals monthly.

A sweet pastor’s wife friend of mine who recently passed away, Jane Grenell, told me that one thing she does is journal letters to her kids as they grow up, documenting the funny things they say, the momentous occasions, their current favorites and friends, and so on.  Now, in hindsight, as she passed away so early, I bet those journals are priceless to her three kids.  I want to continue to do this for my girls.

4. Get a new job.

I recently moved, and am now an hour away from my current job.  So I cannot sustain that kind of commute and will be looking for a job closer to home, hopefully as a classroom teacher in my current school district.  As you would imagine, this one resolution is really like seven resolutions in one. I need to write an updated resume, tell my boss I’m leaving, submit applications, go to interviews, and be hired by a district, pack up my classroom home, get trained in a new district, and begin teaching, hopefully in Delano or nearby.  Much of this is out of my control, but I am trusting the Lord to lead me to the right job, while I take care of all the details I can on my end.

5. Read the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.

Bible reading is so much a part of my life that I don’t feel like I need a resolution anymore. That is one beauty of resolutions, actually.  It was my resolutions for so many years that it has become a life-long habit, and the most powerful one I could have ever hoped to attain.  The Bible is powerful.  Seriously.

6. Read 50 books (or audiobooks), 25 fiction an 25 non-fiction

I have some friends who question the validity of listening to books (“That’s not really reading!”) but to me, it is just as much of an undertaking.  Given my long commutes (see #5) I listen to a LOT of books.  It’s mid-January and I’m working on my 5th already.  But this year, my goal is to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, so as to expose myself to new genres and authors.  We shall see how it goes!

So far,

-Bonhoeffer, biography

-The Storyteller, fiction

-Power of Habit, self-help

-Rouge Lawyer, fiction

-Multiply, church/religious


7. Blog/post something meaningful every month.

Hense, this post!  I will try to keep up the blogging, just for the sake of writing my thoughts and improving my writing skills.

8. Start a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and grow it to 20 women consistently.

This is exciting and has been a dream of mine since I moved last year.  Mops is an amazing organization and I can’t wait to get going with it.  So far, a friend and I have met to brainstorm and we have submitted the paperwork necessary.  More to come on this one!

9. Build my Teachers Pay Teachers store to 150 products for sale.

This has been a fun hobby on the side of teaching, and it has become more profitable as time goes on.  My goal this year is not profit-related, or sales-related.  I want to focus on being creative, and making products that are useful to me and my team, and that I think other teachers around the world could find useful.  That’s the fun part of TPT for me.  The side business is just a fun bonus!  Check out my page here!  Currently, I’m at 98 items, so I have some work to do!

10.  Memorize one scripture per month and journal/blog about it.

As I mentioned earlier (see #5), I love the Bible and learning about God.  So I hope to focus on one scripture per month to really glean everything I can from it.  For January, I’m going to learn Philippians 4:8.


So that’s it. Ten goals, ten dreams.  I’ll let you know how it goes!