Friday Wrap: Family Road Trip

Aaaaand we’re off! Our family trip to South Dakota has officially started. In fact, I’m writing this post as we’re driving. I have the computer in my lap, coffee in the cup holder to my left, and sunscreen on my right arm…you know, all of the important passenger stuff.

Although, according to this hilarious diagram, as the shotgun rider, I should also be keeping my eyes on directions and ears on the radio. (They don’t call me DJ Mama Bear for nothin’)

For today’s weekly wrap up, I thought it would be fun to share a few items we put on our Must Pack list.

Inside the car, we have…

{ONE} A New Road Trip Tee

road trip shirt

If you saw my Road Trip Tip board, you may have noticed this cute number. Well, I decided to order it! How fun is this to kick off a little Griswold-style vacation?

It was also the first time I’ve ever purchased something directly from Pinterest. Has anyone else tried this, yet? It was super easy.

ready to road trip

See the “add to bag” button on the right? You just click and go to your cart – like any store.

{TWO) Travel Books

travel book cover

My girls wanted a special journal for their trip, and we decided to go the super fun route with Wreck This Journal. There are a few in the series, and this is a special edition is specifically for travelling. Perfect.

Just look at the first page…

travel book warning

How awesome is this? And the back cover offers suggestions for places to wreck your journal…

travel book back

{THREE} Furry Friends

You know how my girls love stuffed animals? Well, they have accumulated so many that it has caused a few situations. One being that they can’t take everyone on road trips.

So Avery and Clara held a “Bear Meeting” where they took inventory of everyone in the room. Then they listed all of the upcoming trips and assigned animals to attend each summer adventure. Girls after my own heart with all of this organization.

Here’s the official chart, complete with names.

animal list

Now, those who weren’t lucky enough to come along can still join virtually. The girls took glamour shots of each furry friend, so they’re on the iPad. Crisis averted. 

furry friends

{FOUR} Playlists & Podcasts

I was perusing for a good playlist for our trip and I came across this compilation that was featured on Lauren Conrad’s blog. Even though it’s a few years old, I thought it was a great list. (It had me at Matt Kearney.) <3

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Brandon and I also have a few podcasts up our sleeve. You know the Serial podcast, which sparked much debate about an inmate named Adnan Syed who has served nearly 16 years in a prison in Maryland? Well, many people believe he’s innocent, and he was just granted another trial – like on July 5th. So, now we’re planning to listen to Undisclosed, which is continuing to follow Adnan’s journey. #fascinating

We’lll probably mix things up with some humor, too.

{FIVE} Portable Snacks

Each person in our family has a favorite go-to road trip snack. So here’s the rundown of our stash.

I love a pack of cherry Twizzlers and ice water with a shot of Mio.

MIO

Brandon goes for more salty choices like a trail mix or Chex Mix. He likes those mixes 😉

ChexMixflavors

The girls like to wait until we’re at a rest stop to get an ice cream treat. They especially like those F’real shakes. As the name says, they’re the F’real deal. So tasty.

F'Real

Evan is pretty much the only health nut in the car. He likes fresh peaches, apple slices, or string cheese. Where did he come from?! Lol.

What’s your favorite road trip food or other Must Have item to survive a long drive?

I’ll be filling up on Twizzlers, snapping tons of pictures and simply enjoying some family time for the next few days. So I’ll see you on the flip side. Have a wonderful weekend (and week ahead), my sweet friends!

XoXo,

Kate

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Five Highlights from 2015

As we ring in the new year, open our fresh planners, and start pushing ahead with new goals and aspirations, I decided to take a quick minute to reflect on what a blessing this year has been.

Of course it wasn’t all blissful, as I lost a friend, experienced ups and downs with work, and searched for ways to balance life with three tweens. But between the tears, questions, and touches of sass, there were some pretty special moments. In fact, here are five pretty incredible things about this past year.

{ONE} Getting our puppy, Leo

sleepy puppy

This bundle of Goldendoodle fur became an Andersen this fall. Leo Heath Andersen is his official name. His special talents include walking upright on his back legs – like a person – and finding all of our favorite socks to use as chew toys. He really is a doll, and we’ve loved getting to know him and adjusting our lives to include his sweet self.

rosie at the office

We think Rosie the Rabbit feels the same way. They don’t snuggle like something you’d see on a Hallmark card, but they’re co-habitating fairly well. Rosie loves it when Leo takes a nap. That means she gets to roam the house and help with the blog. #coffeebreak

{TWO} Visiting Oregon for our 15th wedding anniversary

K and B beach

Arborbrook Vineyard

Brandon and I officially made it to 15 years of marriage. Not that I questioned the milestone, I just can’t believe it has already been that long – and that we were able to sneak away for a long weekend together to celebrate. The stars aligned, so we hit the friendly skies and headed straight for the Oregon coast to enjoy some much-needed adult time, incredible food, and gorgeous scenery. It was such a treat and perfect way to celebrate with my best friend.

{THREE} Taking a fun summer road trip

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This summer, we packed up the truckster and hit the road for a two-week, Griswold-style family vacation. The adventure started by heading straight north to Minnesota for the Clark family reunion. (My maiden name is Clark, and this fun bunch of people are from my dad’s side of the family.) We only get together every three years, so it’s always a wild time catching up, and meeting babies and newlywed spouses. A lot can happen in three years, you know!

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emma and paul

After the reunion we ventured down to Nebraska for my niece’s wedding. It truly was a picture-perfect wedding, and we were honored to be able to share in their joy.

{FOUR} Watching my kids continue to grow into beautiful little people.

Christmas card

Life with tweens can be interesting – and entertaining. Somehow Brandon and I managed to get some really great kids with equally as sweet friends. I’ve heard the teenage years get more complicated, so I’m enjoying this phase as long as I can.

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Evan completed his first 5K this year, as well as a full season of cross country. This translates into a growing boy who eats like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously. That boy can eat. When he stands still long enough for me to get a good look at him, I’m amazed at the young man he’s becoming. He’s officially taller than I am, but still says he loves me when I drop him off for school. He can officially stop growing, now.

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The girls entered 4th grade this year and played soccer for “coach dad.” They’re super active and are starting to show an interest in swimming. So there’s hope for a few more fish in our family. These two are total peas in a pod and are always up to something creative – and stuffed-animal related. For instance, I recently found them duct-taping stuffed animals to the fan blades in their room giving free “carnival” rides. They figured out how to get up there from the top bunk bed. It’s never a dull moment with my twinsies – and I wouldn’t trade a second of my life.

{FIVE} Celebrating my first blogiversary

Blogiversary-Thank-You

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

This blog has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavors. I have loved meeting other bloggers, sharing my experiences, and having a space where I can feel truly comfortable with my writing – typos and all! 🙂 I’ve definitely learned quite a few things in this first year, and I’m beyond excited for the adventure ahead.

Thank you for being here with me. Here’s to an incredible new year for all of us!

-Kate

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Hello again!

Hello, friends! If you’ve been wondering where the heck I’ve been lately, not to worry. I was on a whirlwind, family-style adventure for the past few weeks, and now I’m back and ready to blog about it all.

Where exactly did I go?!

Our little family of five trekked up to Hastings, Minnesota for a family reunion. Then we headed down and over (very technical directions, I know) to Lincoln, Nebraska for my nieces’ wedding. It was a trip that took us two weeks and all the way through the entire state of Iowa. We saw lots of agriculture and wind farms (cue the 12-year-old boy jokes) and even a few rainbows spread across the sun-stormy skies.

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A beautiful rainbow over Somewhere, Iowa

Our whole adventure started with a full day’s drive to Owatonna, Minnesota where we visited Brandon’s sister and brother-in-law over cold beers and grilled burgers.

owatonna pic

We made it to MN! We’re in my SIL backyard next to a gorgeous koi pond.

But let me back up a bit.

If your family is at all like ours, the adventure actually begins before you even leave the driveway. First we had to stop off at the vet to drop off Rosie the Rabbit. That’s where she stays when we go out of town. That little bun arrives with more stuff than you’d pack for your first-born child. It’s pretty ridiculous. Once we got Rosie settled and said our dramatic good-byes, we moved to the task of shoving our suitcases, pillows, stuffed animals, coloring books, snacks, drinks, magazines, electronics and all of the associated chargers and adaptors into the car – and the car topper.

At one point, there wasn’t enough room for either Avery or Clara. Since it wasn’t an option to leave them Home Alone style, we rock-paper-scissored our way down to one stuffed animal each. When it was finally time to pull out of the driveway, we only had to de-program the house alarm twice to get things we forgot before we were officially on the open road headed for middle ‘Mercia.

family road trip

Road trip!!!! Of course Mr. Fluffers and Hershey made the cut.

Adventure Part One…Done!

Back to being in Owatonna. After our visit to this cute town, we decided to head to Mall of America before things kicked off at the family reunion. Now, I was a bit leery about this particular outing – only because this was our family’s second attempt at shopping here.

The first occurrence happened back when Evan was 3-years old and the twins were a mere 3-months old. We had a four-alarm meltdown right in the middle of Rain Forest Café where visitors were not able to distinguish between the sounds of automated rainstorms with screeching monkeys and our three whaling children. Our car was parked MILES away, and we could not get out of there fast enough. It’s a memory I’m still trying to forget, which is probably why my right eye started twitching the moment we pulled into the multi-storied parking garage.

I’m happy to report that all went well this time! There were a few screams, but only out of delight when we rode the roller coasters (yes, plural) and other crazy rides in Nickelodeon Universe®, which is smack dab in the middle of the mall. Evan found the Lego store, which was clearly marked by the two-story Transformer – made entirely of Legos.

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We also managed to find the Godiva Chocolatier store where we stuffed our faces with truffles like we were Lucille Ball. Aaaand…we ran into both of my brothers and their families. It was a delightful day – one I’ll be happy to remember for a long time.

Godiva chocolate store

Yes, we found the chocolates!

It was the perfect way to kickoff our reunion with the Clark family (my dad’s side), which started later that day.

Our reunions are special because they happen once every three years.

It’s amazing what can happen in that amount of time – both joyful and tragic. We spent the entire weekend catching up, hugging, laughing, eating, drinking, swimming, canoeing, and even praying together.

frisbee golf

This is just a few of my nieces and cousins who were there! They were the “frolfers” – frisbee golfers 😉

One of my favorite outings was a boat ride along the St. Croix river that docked in the darling town of Stillwater, MN. The mosquitoes there are no lie, but the views are worth the extra spritz of bug spray.

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River Boat on the St. Croix

Once we said our good-byes to all 85 or so family members, our little family headed to Nebraska where we spent the week helping my niece and (new) nephew prepare for their wedding. This is the same couple that I made a scrapbook for – which pulled together really well, btw!

Anyway, I may have to dedicate an entire post to this event, because it would be worth it. This couple is absolutely adorable, and I’m not just saying that because I’m their Aunt Kate. People unrelated to them say the same thing. They had a picture-perfect wedding, and I felt honored to be able to share in their joy.

emma and paul

I mean…look at that sweet couple. Am I right?

Talk about lots of family time!

We certainly enjoyed every minute of our trip. Well, except for a couple of bad decisions on gas station stops. #sanitizer All-in-all, it was a wonderful experience. I even picked up a few “rules of the road” I’ll share with you tomorrow on my Friday Wrap. It feels good to be back on the blog and I’m so glad you’re here.

Can’t wait to visit more tomorrow!

-Kate

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Five Holiday Road Trip Tips

Holiday Road TripHappy Friday!! Not that I have to tell you, but Christmas is just six days away. Eek! Many of you are planning a road trip over the river and through the woods to your favorite relative’s house or vacation spot. So before you load up the wagon and roll down the road, here are a few helpful tips to keep you organized, safe and happy.

Organized

{1} Pack the bags: Three important words: make a list. Write down all of the clothes you’ll need, gifts to take, and supplies (like baby bottles or puppy chew toys) that your family requires for happiness. Here are a few list ideas from Real Simple to get you started.

{2} Pack the car: As a mom of three kids, I’ve figured out what our family does (paper towels) and doesn’t (a dozen stuffed animals) need on road trips. I made a printable of a Car Packing List that includes the things we like to pack. Maybe it will help you, too!

Safe

{3} Be prepared: You know Murphy’s Law – anything that could go wrong, probably will. But if you’re ready for any kind of emergency, chances are good you won’t have any. Let’s pray that’s the case. It’s super smart – especially this time of year when road conditions can be tricky – to have a few essential items packed away. Things like a tire repair kit, flashlight and batteries could be lifesavers. Here’s a complete list from Farmer’s Almanac to review.

Happy

{4} Eat right: Just because you’re confined to the car doesn’t mean you have to squeeze out good eating habits. Convenience stores have been improving their selection to include cheeses, fruits and veggies. Go for these options or a carton of yogurt or package of nuts (granted you don’t have allergies). These are a good source of protein, and they fill little tummies longer to last you between stops.

We also bring our Tervis tumblers and fill them with ice water along the way. Most places let you fill your own cups with water for free.

Christmas Tervis

A Christmas-themed Tervis would be a fun gift to start your trip!

{5} Play Games: Nothing makes the miles feel shorter than a few good games. With so many electronics these days, kids are usually plugged into their own worlds. It’s good to mix it up a little with some “unplugged” family fun. Here are a few holiday games to consider:

  • Christmas Scavenger Hunt: Try to find these tried and true decorations while you’re cruising the streets of town. This version is from Daily Messes.scavenger hunt christmas
  • Christmas Spelling Bee: Who can be the first to spell “Christmas” using signs and billboards along the road? Once you’ve spelled that, you can move on to other words, such as: holiday, reindeer and Santa.
  • What’s the Next Line: Play a holiday song from iTunes or a CD. Pause at any point in the song and pick someone in the car to sing the next line. If they guess it wrong, it goes to the next person. You can tally points or hand out small treats for each correct answer, like M&Ms.
  • Guess the Christmas Jingle: Someone hums a song and the first person to guess it correctly gets a prize – like an M&M or Hershey’s kiss.

My friends, wherever you’re headed I hope you have a safe and happy trip!

Lots of love,

-Kate

P.S. I’m linking up with Five on Friday, again. Be sure to check out some of the great blogs on the list! Fiveonfriday

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