Sunday, July 29, 2018

Surviving A Road Trip With Kids

Photo by Andrew Neel
I recently took on the challenge of driving my two children, two and six, to upstate New York by myself.  I generally don’t like to do this.  I usually enlist the help of a grandparent or friend, or wait until my husband is available to go along.  This time, however, no one was available.  I was really nervous about the 5 ½ hour drive, but I really wanted to attend my Grandma’s 90th birthday celebration.  So, we set out on the trip.  I brought the usual snacks, books, toys and Etch A Sketches.  We did several stops and even had their favorite foods, hamburgers and chicken nuggets.  It went a little better than anticipated, but there was one hour where they were fighting so badly and grabbing each other across the seats and screaming.  I had had enough and was at my wits end.  Finally, I put in a CD of children’s music.  Magically, they began to calm and sing along.  I had peace and quiet for those 20 + songs at least.  Whew.
When I pulled in to my destination, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had survived the trip.  Just barely, but we did.  After this experience, I decided to enlist the help of my mom’s group for some road trip ideas.  (MOPS/Moms Next at Grace Brethren Church, check us out this Fall!)  Nothing is better for ideas than other moms who are in the trenches!  Steal and enjoy these ideas from mommas who know how to road trip with kids and please post your own ideas in the comments so we can continue the conversation.  Look for the next blog in this series coming soon from my sister-in-law who travels all the time with her kids.  Happy summer!  Alisa

Audio books have really cut down on the amount of time spent on the tablet.
Puzzles and brain teasers really kept our kids entertained.
Rubix cubes
Etch A Sketch
US map:  when you see a license plate from a state, mark it off on your map.
A cooler full of sandwiches and drinks.  Lots of snacks!
Bring a travel potty for emergencies.  (Especially for those potty training kiddos!)
Travel Aquadoodle or books from Target with the water pens.
The Color Wonder sets.
An unusual amount of snacks, but not too much water.  (Less potty breaks!)
Usborne sticker books, car bingo games, Target $1 spot for new little trinkets, notebooks and activity pads.  Bring out a new option every few hours.
For long trips, make a chain link where each child gets to rip off a link every hour.  (They loved the times when they fell asleep and woke up and got to rip off two or three links all at once.)
Melissa and Doug Scratch Art activity pads.
Travel bingo game.
Plan stops where there is a Chik Fil A if possible.  Playtime and good food (and great service!) make getting back in the car so much easier.  (As long as it’s not a Sunday!)
And my all time favorite response…
Leave the kids at home…lol.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Patience of a Rice Krispie Treat

How's your summer been going?  I have to admit I have a harder time writing blogs during the summer time.  I sit down to write, and then my kids demand a juice box, a movie started, or more likely, my daughter will shout "I have to go potty!!!"  (We are in the thick of potty training, friends, and it ain't pretty...)  At the moment, one tiny human is watching the Wheels on the Bus movie and the other is blessedly still asleep, so here goes...

It's been a rainy couple of days here and the kids are getting a bit antsy.  After a fun week of staycation with my sister and family visiting, we were used to gorgeous sunny days, boat rides, water park trips, and Six Flags adventures.  Now, it's three thunderstorms a day.  I do love watching thunderstorms, but my kids do not.  So, yesterday, we decided to embark on a cooking project.  I have planned a couple of these for rainy days such as these.  I'm trying to be one of those really cool, prepared moms.  I haven't gone as far as Pinterest, but we do have some notecards in a box for "sunny days" and "rainy days" with ideas my son and I have written on them.  We picked "cooking project" and decided to make rice krispie treats.  It seemed like a fun and easy task.  The iconic dessert/snack that people have made for years.  Wow, was I wrong...

It turns out that making rice krispie treats requires the patience of a saint.  Step one:  Melt butter at low heat in a saucepan.  That took about ten minutes.  Step two:  Melt several cups of mini marshmallows in the pan.  This was supposed to be quick, but literally took about 30 minutes (the entire start to finish time the recipe claimed!)  

I was so worried about it burning, that I kept it on extremely low.  This gave me extra time to fold some towels, entertain my son and start building an ark...

Eventually, thirty minutes later, it began to melt, and I stirred constantly.  My son had long since lost interest.  His contribution (during his sister's nap) was to add some secret ingredients.  He went with sprinkles (a child after my own heart!) and M&M's:

After the sticky mess finally melted, I mixed it with the cereal and wrangled it into the pan.  After attempting to flatten it down with the spatula several times, it finally looked somewhat edible.  We cooled it in the fridge during dinner.  

Making this concoction really tested my patience.  I learned long ago never to pray for patience or God will test you on it.  (Thank you, Gloria, one of my college roommates, for that advice!)  But, I must have accidentally said a little prayer, because I was getting a test of patience that I wasn't expecting.  The waiting reminded me of the last year or so of my life, as I've been waiting on God.  It takes a lot of time.  It takes patience.  And it's often messy.  As I've figuratively "waited for the marshmallows to melt,"  there have been times when I've gotten frustrated and wondered if I was doing the right thing.  Just like our cooking project, God doesn't want us to sit around, waiting for things to happen.  He wants us to keep busy in the waiting.  Serving him, praying, talking with trusted friends, and being open to his presence and work in our lives.

The waiting is often messy work.  It doesn't come easily.  Sometimes we mess things up and have to scrub and scrub to make our lives better again.  Sometimes God allows the messy things into our lives to grow and stretch us.  But, like all these dishes, they are worth it when we look back and see what God has done in our lives.

A few times during this process, I was tempted just to give up and go to the store for some boxed rice krispie treats.  (So much easier!)  But, I had already gotten this far, so I persevered.  In life, it's easy to give up and go the easy way.  But, if we persevere, God's plan is so much better.  As I took a bite of my rice krispie treat (after eating all of the food on my plate, of course!)  I was amazed by how good the homemade one tasted.  I had waited and waited,  and the work had paid off.  (The sprinkles didn't hurt, either...)

Persevere during this rainy week!  Make some sprinkle-M&M-krispie treats, go bowling, paint, read, do whatever makes you happy as you wait for the sun to return.  Share your rainy day ideas in the comments!

Look for my next series of blog posts on keeping little ones entertained on road trips.  (Something we all need help with!)