PACKING FOR A ROAD TRIP

Friday, September 21, 2018
A quick rundown and packing list of  what I plan on packing for our road trip through the Pacific Northwest in a minimalistic way.
Tomorrow the girls and I leave for our big road trip through the Pacific Northwest. As a quick reminder we'll be leaving our farmer on the farm...because farm things. We'll head north seven hours and stay for a few days. Then into Washington, down through Oregon, a little further south into California, east into Nevada, and then back to southwest Idaho. The whole trip will take two weeks. 

(Feel free to follow our travels over on Instagram! I'll be posting lots of pictures and stories!)

If you're new here (which may be the case - lots of new faces!) - The trip will be me, Kaye (5), Sawyer (3), and our youngest, Elli. She just turned one. This will be my first experience traveling alone with my girls. We've done short road trips before...but nothing like this. To say I'm nervous is an understatement. I just want everything to go so well so as to not deter myself from taking future trips. If I could just get Elli to chill out in her car seat.

With all that said - Here's what I have packed for our two weeks on the road:

  • Sleep
    • (2) sleeping bags + pillows - When we aren't staying at an Airbnb we'll be crashing with friends along the way. The girls will have their sleeping bags and Elli in her...
    • Pack and Play
  • Clothing
    • (5) outfits for each of us (laundry on the way)
      • play clothing, nice outfit, running shoes, outerwear
      • swimming suits (my farmer's #1 rule - always pack a swimming suit)
    • I'll pack Sawyer and Kaye in one suitcase and Elli and me in another. All Elli's diapers and wipes will also go in our suitcase. I can't be schlepping back and forth to the car to bring in four bags + sleeping bags + backpacks + all the things.
  • Activity bags
    • Kaye and Sawyer will each pack their backpack with a few toys, markers, paper, and a few special snacks that they'll have at their disposal.
    • Homeschool binders - I made a binder for Kaye and Sawyer with printouts of each state we'll be visiting. It includes coloring pages, a word search, fun facts and spelling words. We'll also be reading a book about each state and bringing along some workbooks for math.
  • Snacks
    • Speaking of snacks - My girls are insanely affected by sugar. It turns them into wild, whiny animals. (It also makes Kaye super sick to her stomach.) So the old trick of give them a sucker or pack a million packages of fruit snacks would actually work against us and I'd have children hanging off the ceiling of our car like cats. So...My favorite car snacks are:
      • apple slices, grapes, banana halves, popcorn, cheese sticks, crackers, Goldfish, beef jerky...and then to break up the trip and let the girls stretch their legs we'll make stops at grocery stores so they can pick out a special snack along the way. 
      • I also plan on packing about 45 packages of wet wipes, because really,  can you ever have too many wet wipes?
      • Water bottles for each of us
  • Movies
    • We're so lucky to have a TV in the car. We'll be bringing along three new movies to have in the rotation. One is The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad which is from my childhood! It's also Halloween-ish...perfect for a fall road trip!
    • My farmer is trying to convince me that we need to bring along one iPad. I'm resistant because it's been almost two months since we've let the girls play on the iPad and I don't want to fall down that rabbit hole again.
  • First Aid Kit
    • It's pretty inevitable we'll need a band-aid or seven along the way, Tylenol for babies and big kids and a thermometer. I also have sunscreen and bug spray packed.
  • Tech Gear
    • Big camera - I've debated whether or not I want my DSLR or not, but I think in the long run...I'll regret not having it. So...I'm going to pack it and accept that if it never leaves the car, that's okay. At least I had the option.
    • Laptop 
    • Phone
    • iPad - maaaaaybe
  • Stroller - The double stroller is mandatory because there are these crazy moments when Sawyer decides both her legs are broken. And to keep the meltdowns to a minimum I'm going to make room for the giant double stroller.
  • Misc - I read somewhere that packing a roll of paper towels and some spray is a good idea. Normally, I'd risk it, but since it'll just be the girls and me I'm feeling like erring on the side of prepared for anything...like puke.
  • Purse - Most importantly, my purse. When traveling I always pack MY essentials in my purse. This includes : 
    • All chargers - I hate not having quick access or trying to guess where I decided to hide the chargers. (phone / computer / camera)
    • Headphones
    • Our brand new selfie stick that I'm already in love with. I debated on getting one of these...but friends, I want to be in some pictures!
    • My laptop - once the gals are in bed I plan on still getting work done on the road.
    • RX bars - there's nothing worse than a hangry mom
    • Binkies - I plan on packing no fewer than seven binkies for Elli that I plan on throwing haphazardly into the backseat as she gets whiny.
    • Hair supplies - I always feel a little better about wearing yoga pants if my girls look halfway put together. I can't have them falling out of the car with dreadlocked hair.
Things I wish we could bring, but I'm leaving behind:
  • Bikes
  • Osprey backpack (baby carrier)
  • Toy bin - I'd love to bring a toy bin, but since we'll only be in each spot for a couple of days while visiting friends (who have kids) I think we'll be okay. If all else fails...we can buy a special toy on the road.
  • And then probably a whole additional carload of things I'm not really able to wrap my head around at this moment. You see...I'm a little high maintenance when it comes to packing. I like to be pre. pared. But...when you're traveling solo with the kids, it's a great time to be a touch more practical. 
And that's that. Packing up and shipping out. Our farmer is acting sad and telling us how much he's going to miss us...but I have a feeling he's doing backflips in his head and he'll probably be throwing some kind of farmer party while we're gone. I mean...wouldn't you? Ha!

Follow our travels over on Instagram! I'll be posting lots of pictures and stories!

ELLI'S FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
On September 6th our third daughter turned one year old. I planned a little Party Animal party for her out here on the farm complete with a bounce house and the cutest custom cookies. All the details are below!


When it comes to planning these parties I always think it's going to be so minimal. Hardly any work...I tell myself. Why is this never the case?

To start things off, I created a little Party Animal Invitation that we sent out to all of Elli's nearest and dearest (ie. all our friends). And just like that, the theme was born.


Next on the list - We've been collecting these tiny animals since Kaye was a baby, so we have quite the group. All I had to do was make 12039 tiny cones and put little wool balls on top...and then, of course, hot glue them to each animal's head.

I also decided I wanted to try my hand at balloon garlands. I've been seeing them all over and I just knew if all these other people could do them...so could I. And friends - they are easier than they look! Just make sure you have a hand pump.

And just like that - Ba Da Cha - My minimalist party was complete! Not so fast. There were going to be a range of ages at this party with quite a few in the 3 - 7 age bracket, and let me tell you, nothing is better at a party than a giant bounce slide. It keeps the kids active and gives the parents a chance to eat all the party treats. Everyone wins! And while Elli wouldn't touch the bounce slide, she absolutely loved watching all the kids scream and laugh and have the very best time. If you're local to southern Idaho - grab yourself a bounce slide for your next event at Bouncin' Bins!


They have the best selection of wet and dry slides. You can get bounce houses and combos and there really are so many options I had a hard time deciding. The double slide ended up being a huge hit with our groups. You can get 10% off by using the code GIRLSTRAVELING.


Okay...NOW my party was complete. Invites - check. Bounce house - check. Balloon garland - check. Oh wait! What about those adorable custom cookies I've been seeing at so many parties lately? Elli neeeeeeeeds them! (Internal conversation I'm having with myself a week before the party.) So, because Elli obviously needed custom cookies I contacted a local Boise bakery that specializes in custom treats - One Haute Cookie, and they did NOT disappoint. I e-mailed them my idea and included a picture of Elli's invitation and within two days they had e-mailed me back with some sketches and ideas that were absolutely perfect. I can't brag on the ladies at One Haute Cookie enough! When I picked up the cookies I bought Sawyer and I each one for the road (mine was gluten free) and they were so soft and delicious I couldn't even believe it. Even better, friends, they ship! So, if you're in a different part of the state, or in California, or Nebraska...it doesn't matter. One Haute Cookie can be at your event.

Side note - I also used the cookies (that came individually wrapped) as party favors! I just attached a little tag to each one with some string. So easy!


So obviously, now that we have a bounce slide and custom cookies, the party is more than complete. No. That's never the case! One must make a smash cake and cakepops and floral arrangements and cupcakes and go to the grocery store 327 times and get out all the tables and chairs and tablecloths and...the list goes on.

And while I'm kind of hating myself in the moment of getting all the goodies and decorations pulled together...I'm NEVER mad at myself for planning a party for one of my best gals and inviting friends and family to the farm to celebrate. Never. It's worth it every single time.

The only snafu was watching the weather roll in that day. The forecast said 75 all week and even the day of. There was no mention of rain. Then the wind started blowing and sprinkles started falling. My heart sank. Everything I'd worked all morning on was getting wet. Everyone grabbed something and hauled it up our stairs to the kitchen. And just like that - my low maintenance outside party that I wasn't going to have to clean my house for...was an inside party. And as soon as we got everything moved inside...the sun came back out and it was the most beautiful day. Perfect 75 degree weather. Go figure.



All this to say - We had a wonderful day. I can say with confidence that even Elli had the best day of her life. She enjoyed all the attention and strutted around with her thighs out in her new sneakers like she owned the joint. Her smash cake was a big hit...even though there was minimal smashing and more so just dainty pokes and licks with her finger.
Will I be throwing another large party for Kaye and Sawyer in October? I say no now, but how can I shy away from more delicious cookies and a bounce house? Stay tuned - We'll see how our two week road trip goes that we leave for on SATURDAY! To say I'm nervous would be an understatement.

Party Details :

Bounce Slide - Bouncin' Bins
Custom Cookies - One Haute Cookie
Balloon Garland - Shop Sweet Lulu
Invitation - Wink & Ink Paperie
Flowers - Trader Joe's
More Pictures! A highlight of the party was this guy's little surprise. He shares a birthday with Elli, so naturally we threw some candles on a cake that was half eaten from Russell's birthday and let him go to town.




LIFE LATELY - WE CAN'T ALWAYS BE TRAVELING

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Oh, you know. Just a blog that's supposed to be about all this travel travel travel...and we have yet to...travel. But obviously I have all the excuses in the world. Ie. School starting, birthdays galore, coordinating with all our friends in all the states. Those sorts of things.

But...we have been up to the day to day and here's what's been happening...

A few weekends ago we made our way to a county fair about two hours east of our farm. That same town has a Costco, so it was a dual-purpose trip.

Sawyer has never been as brave as Kaye (albeit, still outgoing) so we thought for sure it would take some prodding and convincing to get her on the rides. We were so very very wrong. Both girls were sprinting from attraction to attraction and picking out rides way beyond their height clearance. Thank God they have each other...because that hot air balloon ride would have done me in. I used to be able to do all the rides...and then motion sickness set in in my adulthood. Does anyone have recommendations for that?
Because I've been talking about it way too much lately, you maybe heard our youngest gal turned one on September 6th. The best decision I've ever made was postponing her party by a full weekend. So, we've been doing little party preps here and there and I'm loving how funny these little party animals are turning out. 

If you follow along on Instagram you may have seen that on Tuesdays we have both school and gymnastics. This wouldn't be a big deal, but we drive almost 40 minutes to school and then I drive back to the farm. Then I drive 40 minutes to pick them up...and then another 40 minutes to take them to gymnastics. Then three hours of gymnastics...and then an hour drive home. It's not that there's a lot going on, it's just a lot of time in the car and a veeeeerrrrry long day. Especially for Sawyer. Girlfriend always falls asleep and is usually pretty crabby when we have to wake her up. 
On this particular day, in hopes of keeping her cheery, we stopped for a quick smoothie before class. As we waited for our smoothies the girls played Elli's favorite game of peek-a-boo. And then once smoothies were in hand, both spilled them down their fronts. So...that was a win.
Later that week (it was a Thursday) Elli turned one. It was probably the worst day of her life as I made her pose for waaaaaay too many pictures, but I'm trying to start some traditions, people! We started with birthday pancakes...and yes. She can devour the stack.

And later that day we had a birthday nap wakeup with balloons. We couldn't do birthday morning...because girlfriend wakes up at 6 am and it's still dark.
We've had some daaaaayzzzz on the farm...and the weather has been toying with our emotions. Some days it will be so beautiful out. Just the perfect amount of heat. And then we'll have a mini-heatwave where it's 95 and dry and dusty and ugh. This particular day also happened to be the day we had nothing going on. We didn't have to be anywhere. No visitors. Nada. So...I gave the gals a pass and we didn't fix hair and they picked out their own clothes. Kaye will a t-shirt and shorts every day...and Sawyer picked a swim cover-up. Oh, and they put a bandana on Elli. Also...why bother with shoes?

The farmer and I managed to squeeze in a date-night. We popped over to Boise, met up with some friends, and ate at a new-ish restaurant called The Wylder.
And lastly...I've been starting way too many projects...and not finishing them. As of late I've been trying to make our front deck a little more welcoming. We have a porch swing started. I have pots planted...after they housed dead things all summer long (forehead slap). And my last feat was removing all the crappy gravel that was in front of our porch steps. The plan is to level it out with some sand and then lay flagstone. We'll see. But what should be noted is when I went to wheel the wheelbarrow away I hadn't calculated how heavy it would be with all the rock and I immediately dumped it. Which I then had to shovel all the rock baaaaack in. And then I waited for my Farmer to get home.

And that's lately! This weekend we'll have our final celebration for Elli's first year and then it will be full steam ahead as we finish up the final planning details for our road trip!

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@karlibellmeier