Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hello, is it me you're looking for? {Plus, road trip tips...}

Let's just get the elephant out of the room right away....it's been about a year since my last post. Call it a hiatus, call it a break, call it whatever the heck you want to but it's been a long time. I wasn't sure if I wanted to blog anymore, feeling that I had veered away from where I started. That's a good thing though. We all go through seasons. Now that our youngest is 8 our life definitely has a bit smoother time rocking and rolling along. 

The kiddos are growing like crazy. Tyler, now 16, will be a junior this year and he is looking at colleges and soccer programs that he would love to be a part of. Rhys will already be 14 in November, and that just freaks me the heck out. She'll be in 8th grade. Griffin, affectionately referred to as "the baby" much too often...will be in 3rd grade! He's 8 years old, going on 40. A much different situation than when we started Staying Home and Staying Sane. I started the blog as a stay at home mom, sharing our life, recipes, tips, travels, reviews from a point of view that I knew a lot of people could relate to.  I had a toddler at home and was navigating the world of elementary school with the two oldest. Now, I have started helping out at the family boutique, Madeline's, which has definitely been a change. With all three of the kids in school full time, I've really enjoyed being able to be a part of something outside of the home that doesn't just involve school activities. I have now experienced the craziness that is Dallas Market and have felt the sting (and exhilaration) that comes from competition. 

I started missing the outlet that writing provided me with and have decided to gradually start blogging again. I think it is so important to use your creativity in whatever way you can, it's good for the soul. I'm still baking whenever I get the chance and cooking non stop for the family is a given. I hope to share more of my meal ideas and favorite recipes this time around. Feeding a family of 5 is an adventure in itself and I know that other moms and dads are always open to ideas.
With school and work, our travel time is still the same....summer and spring break. Tyler's soccer schedule has taken spring break a little off of the grid for a while but we are on the hunt for the perfect small-ish camper so that we can start fitting in memory making weekend trips whenever possible. 
We just got back from our annual Alabama/Florida vacation visiting family and squeezed in a few side trips.We always drive....about 12 hours with all of the stops we usually make. Yes, that's a loooong drive with three kiddos. It's a long drive for two adults! So, what better way to rev the old blog back up than a travel post? In a previous post I showed you guys the Road Trip Kits we made for the long trip but since that trip we have kept all of the kids waiting for their "travel prizes", not just Griff. It definitely adds to the fun making them wait it out. When else would a 13 and 16 year old be amped up about a giant sticky hand to slap around? Boring road trip, that's when.
Here are a just a few tips that I find absolutely necessary now. 

First things first, we implemented a one duffle bag rule for everyone. No hard sided luggage! No huge suitcases! The kids and I did have small bags with us in the car, let's call it the road trip carry on...no clothes, just stuff you want near. This saved SO much time when loading and unloading the rooftop luggage carrier and we realized that we didn't need more than what we packed anyway. Probably less. I think I wore the same 5 outfits on rotation when I wasn't in a bathing suit. 

A few days before:

Hit up WalMart and Dollar General for road trip surprises. I don't care if your kids are teenagers, you will find these to be your saving grace in the car. I'm not talking huge, expensive toys/gadgets. Old school seems to be the big hit. Wooly Willy, the Magic Slate board with the piece of plastic over the top that "magically" erases, Silly Putty, Play Doh, Sticky hands, Slinky, new coloring book, etc. I did throw in a few $5 DVD's I found as well a few other things like a Frisbee and magazines for the older kids. My kids have been road tripping all of their lives, so a 12 hour drive isn't so bad but each one of them looks forward to these surprises throughout the day. It breaks up the monotony, gives a playful mood to the drive and hell, if worse comes to worse (it has with us) it gives you something to take away if they are literally about rip each other's heads off. 

The night before:
Make breakfast for the next morning. I make muffins because they are so easy and pretty common ground with the whole family. My favorite muffin recipe is from Damn Delicious for her Blueberry Oatmeal muffins. Instead of a streusal she uses a granola topping and every single person in my family loved it, including my grandfather when we arrived at his house with the leftovers. I used a Central Market Organics granola with hemp and flax seeds, you could use whatever you have on hand. You can make this the night before and let cool and cover before you head to bed or you could make the batter and leave in the fridge overnight, which actually helps it to rise. Easy peasy. 
Pop those suckers in a large plastic baggie in the morning and hit the road. NO McDonald's big, fake egg breakfast plate for you. 
Make lunch for the next day too! I made a massive bowl of Spaghetti Salad (tons of recipes on Pinterest and they are all pretty much the same thing, pick your veggies) for the three of us that actually enjoy veggies. For the boys, I packed lunch meat, cheeses and slider buns so they could throw together a quick sandwich. We packed a cooler and even brought along a gallon of our favorite tea (hello Red Diamond sweetened with Splenda) to avoid soft drinks. We loaded up plastic cups and plastic forks/spoons and used those for our lunch and did not have the worry with flyaway paper plates. That cooler was also a lifesaver when we got to our destinations.

The day of:
Don't leave at the butt crack of dawn if you're not a chasing-the-sunrise kind of person. We have experimented with leaving in the middle of the night....I hate this because I can NOT drive at night. I will fall fast asleep and I feel supreme guilt when Bryan drives the entire way. We've also tried leaving at like 3 in the morning. Lord have mercy on my soul...I can't. Planning, cooking, packing, excitement, nerves. There's no way I can fall asleep the night before our trip at a decent hour. The past two years we decided on 6 a.m. I know this is a total compromise on Bryan's part because he likes to leave early and get it out of the way. But when you're married to a woman with anxiety for 17 years...you compromise. Bless him. 

Even though I love my family dearly and appreciate them hosting us it is so nice to get back home. My own bed, that Texas sky, our puppies, our family here! 

We celebrated our Birthdays while we were away, This was his kind of Birthday.

sweet little flower

My favorite kind of days....nothing to do but float or swing.

Love seeing how free Rhys feels on vacation

Back flips for days...

My girl.

One of my favorite views of the lake, Through that window before dinner.

Sprinkler fun in Opelika

She knows how to go antiquing...

Griff's fave person ever...Bo Jackson

Soccer....all the time.

Tyler's fave person..Cam Newton.

Rhys visiting the town where her Granddaddy grew up.

Family love

Blue Springs in Marianna, Florida

Because we celebrated 17 years of marriage while on vacation...and I had to snap a pic of a pic out of my grandmother's album.

Met our nephew and his family while in PCB!

Dodds boys....

My Papa .

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