Lessons Learned: Road Trip Edition

1. Driving 900 miles with three young children doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. At one point last weekend, the baby was asleep in her carseat (a small miracle), the kids were watching a DVD (yet the van was silent, because they were using their wireless headphones), I was reading blogs and sending e-mails on my laptop (thanks to my husband's fabulous Verizon card) and Corey was listening to his iPod. Iowa has never been so enjoyable.

2. If you follow the advice of my sage readers and pack a few small gifts for your kids to open on the trip, the phrase “Can we open another present now?” will overtake “Are we there yet?” as the most repeated and dreaded phrase of the drive.

3. Bring a mix of healthy snacks and junk food to eat in the car. My husband preferred the baby carrots and pretzels. My kids preferred the gummy peach rings and Pringles. Different strokes for different folks.

4. Don't let any members of your family consume liquids during the drive. Especially the ones who have an insatiable thirst for Starbucks coupled with the bladder the size of a small puppy.

5. Noggin and Nick Jr. have scads of free, printable road trip sheets. My kids loved the Dora’s Colorful Car Bingo and the Backyardigans Color by Number

6. Color Wonder markers really are the coolest thing to be invented since Post-It Notes.

7. It is possible for a six-year-old to lose a tooth while you are hurtling down I-35. (For those of you counting -- which would be my Mom and my sister -- that’s the sixth tooth Natalie lost since last November.) Here's the new smile, minutes after the tooth came out after coming into contact with a pretzel.

8. Being the creative type, I immediately stuck a magnet on the tooth so Natalie could play with it on a cookie sheet. ... No, not really.

9. There is only one Chick-fil-A restaurant between Minneapolis and Kansas City, and it’s in the food court of a beautiful Des Moines mall. Guess where we stopped for lunch?

10. Teyla can sit in a high chair now, and she enjoys conversing with small stuffed dogs.

11. I have the cutest nephews on the planet. (Jordan is 5 months; Silas is one year.)

12. A hotel swimming pool is the only thing necessary for a successful trip in the eyes of a child. (I remember feeling that way when I was a kid, too.)

13. I love weddings.

14. I really love my family of origin. This was the first time we had all been together in about a year.

15. My extended family rocks. I didn’t grow up with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins living down the road. We usually only saw our extended family once or twice a year. The plus side of that kind of isolation is a very close-knit nuclear family. The negative side is I didn’t really get to know my cousins until now. Which is too bad. Because they are hysterical.

16. My daughter is a dancing machine. Apparently, all the dancing urges in my body which were repressed due to years of growing up Baptist were passed on to her. She danced nonstop once the DJs started the music. (Many thanks to my cousin Courtney for being her partner most of the night.)

17. Payback is sweet. (Also known as:
Don't mock your wife, because she is the controller of of the camera.)

18. Seeing the new crops of cousins together makes any road trip worth it.


  1. Thanks for the road trip tips. I always seem to forget until it is too late to pack something to amuse the children. We just keep throwing candy at them. It's sad, really. And, at the end of the trip, the car smells like a movie theater that hasn't been cleaned in a good long time.

  2. Sounds like a blast! Also...I've never had #9...I will gt one next time I'm in Des Moines!

  3. Oh, where to start, where to start?
    1)Your family IS beautiful.
    2)What IS it with Chick-fil-A, anyway? It IS by far the most blogged about fast food joint. I've never been, which must be why I'm in the dark about its draw.
    3)I am currently repenting of my sin of coveting. Verizon card. Cool cool technology.
    4)Good payback. Very good payback.
    5)Nice moves, Natalie!

  4. What fun.

    And these poor gals that have never experienced Chick-fil-A! (Don't YOU feel smug, Kelly!! It's old hat ti you now.) Great food + a Christian company = a winning combo.

    Is it spring there yet? We were kinda chilly when we came out of church today...cloudy, breezy, and 69. :-)

  5. #9 Can't beat it.
    #14 I hope my girls say that one day!
    #16 She has some MOVES! :)

  6. You must have stopped at Jordan Creek on your way through DM? Nice, isn't it?

    I'm still a Chick-fil-A virgin. Maybe this, my fourth decade, will be "the one". =)

    And, BTW, you never told us that Mike Huckabee was your cousin! How nice of him to come AND play the guitar for you!

  7. That was a fun post! I love it when my kids are with their cousins, it is a fun relationship!
    And the family picture is so great.

    Oh the Verizon card...it is my new BFF.

  8. Great lessons learned. We are headed on a road trip in a few weeks and will definetly use your advice. So glad you got to eat at chick-fil-a. I'm making my 45 minute drive tomorrow to get my fix.

  9. Great post! Cute pictures.

    I live less than 2 miles from a Chick-fil-A. It is one of the few spots we actually go out to eat with the kids.

  10. I love all the pictures !! I REALLY love the picture of Natalie dancing and the picture of Corey is awesome !!

  11. Ummmm....hellOOO! You can BLOG while DRIVNG?!?! Am I THAT techy-challenged?!?

    Please please PLEASE can I go on a roadtrip?


  12. Blogging while driving has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

    Love the pictures.

  13. I'm sorry, I've never been to Chik-Fil-A, but that sandwhich looks - yucky. I will take your word for it that it is not. ;>

    The trip sounds like it was wonderful. I used to have a Verizon wireless card, but it barely worked on the road. I'd be online for two minutes, then off, then on, then off. It made me CRAZY.

  14. I love the pictures and reading about your trip. You have a beautiful family. Glad the kiddos did so well on the road!

  15. Wireless headphones are the greatest!

    So is Chik Fil A!

    And blogging on the road? Color me impressed...

    Love this post!

  16. I smiled through the whole reading of this. Your ability to celebrate the usual is infectious with blessing to me. I was hoping that you'd get a taste of the CFA delights while traveling.

    Favorite pic--that shot of the youngest cousins--those are the jewel moments, truly.

  17. I'm so glad you had some Chik fil A! The magnetic tooth comment cracked me up! I'm glad yall had a great trip!
    I'm celebrating my 100th post today! :)

  18. You made great memories with your kids that will last a life time!

  19. Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Vinho, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://vinho-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.

  20. I loved this post. It's funny but also really contains good tips. You could re-write some of it for publication. Why do I see this in everyone else's writing but mine?? Anyway, I was surpsied that Teyla is big enough to be in a high chair now. You have bee-utiful children, but you know that.

  21. Love the road trip tips! Also, it's so funny to hear you mention I-35 since that runs through my town too and I'm way down here in Texas. You should have just kept driving another, oh, 20 hours and we could have met for coffee!

  22. That's awesome! I'm glad the Bingo cards worked. That's what we always used for our kids, too.

    And hotel pools are to die for. I just wish they'd keep them a little warmer!

    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  23. Blogging in the car? I feel oh so 20th century without this technology!

    Looks like a fabulous trip- gotta love the dance moves :-)

  24. What an excellent recap..You really had it under control in the car and for that I am totally impressed. :)

    And what was wrong with gluing the tooth to a magnet? We could tile a table top with all the teeth gathered in 'special boxes' all over the house.

    And the picture of Corey?

    Let's just say he would owe you one if you didn't already owe him several for the cowgirl get up..:)


  25. AAAAH! Too much cute in one post. This comment will be in bullet format:

    The kids actually look... PEACEFUL there in the backseat! You're a miracle worker!

    I'm sure it's only because there was no plug-in for the glue gun, right? Otherwise the tooth magnet would be very real, I've no doubt.

    I have a confession: I'm Chick-fil-A-ed out. I simply cannot EAT MOR CHIKIN.

    Natalie has some groovin' moves. Did she learn them from you?

    Corey's picture... niiiiice. :) It must feel good, Kelly.

    What a fun read. I agree, this post is very likeable. LOL!

  26. I love this post kelly and all the pictures. Your fam is lovely.

  27. Good payback! That picture reminds me why I'm always the one behind the camera. :)

    Have a fabulous day enjoying this 70 degree weather!!