Family Road Trip {7 Quick Tips}

Last weekend, our family went on a road trip from 765-mile road trip for one my brother’s graduation for his Masters in Education. It was cheaper than flying all of us an not at guilt-inducing as me abandoning the family for a weekend. Before the trip, we kept asking ourselves if we were crazy but it was a very enjoyable trip and we are so glad we got to go. We also met up with some family up there and another very good friend who also happened to receive her Masters in the same city as my brother!

How on earth did we survive that 14-hour long car trip (that would have taken others only about 11 – 12 hours)? I’ll share 7 “Quick Tips” for today’s yesterday’s Friday Quick Takes. Here are some tricks we used based on ideas from friends and ones I’ve just picked up along the way.

1. Books and Audio Books

Before our trip, we went to the local library and stocked up on books and audio books! Having a fresh set of new books to read kept the five-year-old especially happy for the first few hours of the trip.

I also took advantage of all the fee time and finished reading Love the Home You Have by  Melissa Michaels from The Inspired Room blog and then made a big dent in Dr. Gregory Popcack’s soon-to-be-released Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart!

I reeeeaaally enjoyed both of those as part of a book review exchange coming soon and I am SUPER excited to chat with Dr. Popcack about his book this coming Monday! I’ll be sure to add that interview on my YouTube HangOuts playlist as well as the audio version to The Simplemama Podcast.

The kids love having a book read to them, even the ones who can read. When I couldn’t crank my neck back to read to them anymore, or get older sister to read to them, we put in a book with a CD so they could listen and follow along. That also kept my husband and I alert and entertained while driving. My favorite one to listen to was Big Wig.

What a silly – and sometimes gross – history of hair! I thought it was hilarious and fascinating. And now I understand where the term “big wig” comes from.

2. Movies

Books and “activity sheets” can only get you so far in a long road trip. I did pack them all bags with coloring books and such but they got bored of those fast. Eventually, the roadkill hit the tires and everyone hit their breaking point. These are times I thank God for modern technology in vehicles that enable us to put on a movie, or two…or three for the kids. We brought a few of our own but mostly watched ones we found at the library – making sure all of them stayed in the car at all times and made it back to the library before the library erected a new wing in our name from all the fine money. (Although, we’ve probably given them enough to do that already.)

The kids really  liked The Sword in the StoneCharlotte’s Web (1973), but were somewhat “reluctant” to watch The Reluctant Dragon. By that time in the trip, we were about 2 hours from home and they were all just ready to get out of the car and sleep in their own beds again.

3. Music

Books and Movies are great for the passengers, but how on earth does a driver stay awake not go out of their minds while driving for hours on end? Music. My husband hooked up a special device in our car that allows us to stream music, podcasts, an phone calls through the van’s speakers (since we don’t have any of those new-fangled cars that come with all those features.) So we went through quite the assortment of songs on Spotify.

My favorite part of the car trip was when Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody came on. Aside from the first part with the not-so-happy lyrics, the rest of the song is so random and crazy that it caused a riot for the kids and before long we were all singing and bashing our heads around and laughing with it. It was great.

4. Podcasts

Along with music, listening to another person’s voice talking directly into my ears was a great way to stay alert and drone out some of the background noise.

I really enjoyed the Wildly Unconventional Episode from Tsh Oxenreider‘s The Art of Simple Podcast. It’s about a family of 6, like ours, who traveled around the world for one whole year! We were only traveling to one state and back for one weekend, I couldn’t imagine going around the world and being gone for 1 year! Wow. I really love traveling and have done my fair share of world traveling. I really do hope we can show our kids more of the world, but maybe we’ll stick to one-trip-at a time in our own country for now. It was very interesting listening to this mom’s experience and if she does write a book about it I’ll definitely want to read it.  (The links for that episode weren’t working when I tried posting this but maybe they’ll work for you. Or, if you subscribe to her on iTunes you should be able to listen to it. It’s from back in February.)


Ok, books, movies, music, and podcasts are great but everyone knows the most important part of any road trip is – FOOD!

I remember a time when I swore I’d never let the kids eat in the car. Ever.

But when you’re stuck in a van with hours of road ahead of you and fidgety kids, crumbs all over the van floor pale in comparison to the alternative – going crazy.

On the way up, I packed some egg breakfast wraps I’d made the night before. I wrapped them each individually in plastic wrap then put them all into a baggie. I also made individual snack bags with grapes and other munchies for each person and stuck those into another bag. The trick was to only give them one of these snack items in increments throughout the trip instead of letting them eat all the food I’d prepared before we even got out of Kansas. We did stop for lunch which made the trip take longer but it gave the kids time to stretch their legs and run around a little.

Knowing how messy eating can be with kids, I gave everyone their own plastic container. Anytime I gave them snack, we put it in their container so they’d eat over it and hopefully minimize the amount of crumbs all over the van seats and floor. Everyone was great about this – except the two-year old who basically had to be shaken and beaten like a rug (figuratively) every time we got out of the van to get all the crumbs off him and his car seat.

I also packed a diaper wipes and paper towels and kept plenty of trash bags around so when everyone finished eating, they’d each get a wipe to clean their hands and faces and a trash bag to put their trash in. I felt like an airplane stewardess as we arrived to each stopping place. “We will be landing soon, please check your area for any trash around you and put it in the trash bag.”

Taking my cues from airplane rides, I also kept “Vomit bags” and a big bowl handy “just in case”. My friend, Mary Big Hair, made a great suggestion to use seal-able ziplock bags so that, should anyone use those bags for regurgitational needs, we could keep it contained and avoid any spillage until we could safely dispose of it at our next stop. Thankfully we only had on child throw up during the trip (there’s always one) and it was not while we were in the car.

6. Pee and Poop

I also kept a baby potty seat in our trunk just in case someone really could not hold it any longer. Thankfully we didn’t have to use that and amazingly the two-year-old kept a dry diaper the whole way and back. But at some point in the trip, we forbade them from drinking any more water and I began to seriously consider catheterizing all of them for our next road trip.

7. Pray

Of course this is the most important one. We started and ended our trips with a prayer of thanksgiving and petitions for a safe and fun trip. I’d like to say we are one of those families who pray a Rosary on road trips but it’s just not something very practical for us. And, I’m afraid it would be so peaceful that it would put everyone to sleep, including the driver. So I just prayed on my own throughout the trip as I usually do throughout the day and asked for patience and grace to deal with any whining and complaints.

Most of all though, I prayed that I could be a good wife and mother on this trip with my family, that I could fully take advantage of this time together and trully enjoy my family and be present to them. That’s my favorite part of taking family trips together. I can’t be anywhere but with them so I might as well make the most of it and relish it. There will be a time when they’ll all grow up and go on their own adventures without me. For now, we are in this particular adventure story together.

So there you have it, that’s how we got through – and enjoyed – our family road trip this time. I’m always looking for more ideas as we have other trips planned in the future.

How do you survive family road trips with young children?

Minimize the Mess {Book Review VIDEO}

I’m excited to share my next book review today for my friend Rachel Kratz from Efficient Momma. Her e-book, Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying Your Home, is exactly what it says – a simple guide to getting your house under control so you can get back to enjoying your home and family.

Like I said when talking with Rachel, I’m a self-proclaimed clutter-phobe, who goes into paralytic shock when my house gets too messy. So when I heard the title of Rachel’s book, Minimize the Mess, I was instantly interested and couldn’t wait to glean any new ideas. I’ve read a lot of books and blog posts over the years about de-cluttering but what I like about Rachel’s book is how simpleand efficient her approach is.

I had the chance to Hang Out with Rachel last weekend and we had so much fun talking in person about her book and how to help Minimize the Mess in our own homes. You can watch our Hang Out together here and now you can also listen to the Minimize the Mess episode on the new Simplemama Podcast! Or you can watch/listen below without leaving this page (at least it should work.)

And! There’s also a chance to read Rachel’s e-book for FREE by entering the Giveaway below starting today, May 15 – Friday, May 22.

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Or, if you can’t wait to Minimize the Mess around you, head on over to Rachel’s blog and you can get her book 25% today through May 22. Use the code: launch.  At a price of $2.99, it’s a great deal and all the free printables mentioned in the book can be found at Rachel’s blog also.  

I hope you enjoy Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying Your Home as much as I did! I’m off to go declutter that office room I revealed to you in the video – yikes! (that’s actually not even the worst room in the house so I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me.)


{Amazon sends my family a neat little gift card when you make any Amazon purchases via the links provided – thank you!}

A Promise in a Wheat Field {Marian Consecration}

Fifteen years ago, I made a promise. And today, I renew it.

Knee-deep in a golden ocean of luscious thick wheat.

I ran my fingers gently on the soft kernals as we walked through it, taking in the beauty and simplicity of the scene.

Thin wispy clouds swayed in the pale blue sky, a soft pink sun hovered over the horizon.

The air was clear, it had been a warm day but a chilly breeze trickled in, not quite ready to fully embrace summer’s warmth.

My mind wandered, my soul filled up with gratitude for the amazing day I’d spent with two of my closest friends, pondering the unknown future.

Soon many of my friends would breathe a long sigh of relief and say their goodbyes, celebrating the end of their formal education and step into the world of lessons that could never be taught in a classroom.

Though I had one more year, I too would soon say my own goodbyes as my family and I packed up our belongings and moved 1,000 miles away.

My heart was heavy with a bittersweet Grace.

We reached a good spot and just stood there, in the wheat field. Taking it all in. Thinking. Praying.

Jackie had picked up some pamphlets she’d found at church – something about Mary, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and a militia he started in another time, another place. It sounded exciting enough.

We looked at it and read it over quickly and decided we’d do it. We’d read this Prayer of Consecration and give ourselves over to Jesus through His Mother. Together, we would CONSECRATE and ENTRUST our lives – and our very souls – over to the same woman whom Jesus entrusted the apostle John to while  giving his life for us the Cross.

As we read through the consecration prayer together, I had a small feeling this wasn’t some small thing. By this act, I gave myself over to my Mother, and I also took her “into my home [soul] as my own.”

I looked over the wheat field and saw – in my mind’s imagination – a hand, reaching over an empty field, scattering seeds, the seeds grew into the hardy wheat I now stood in. All that was needed now were the harvesters.

Mary was calling me – calling us – to be the harvesters for the Master of the land. And I knew, without knowing then exactly how, that she would use us to bring about many great fruits by our prayers of consecration that day. And she would gather all these fruits and present them, with us, to her Son, on our behalf.

And with these fruits, He would feed us, His people.

These excerpts from 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration by Michael E. Gaitley explain Marian Consecration well – though I’d suggest reading the whole book for an even deeper understanding.

Mary knows the power of the Redemption, the power of merciful Love, better than anyone…Therefore, she calls us not only to conversion but “to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.” For again, Mary’s task is to bring us to the Fountain of Mercy, to the pierced side of Christ to his Merciful Heart.


Essentially, then, consecrating ourselves to Mary “means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to the infinitely Holy God. It means entrusting ourselves to she who was most united to Christ’s own consecration…Consecrating ourselves to Mary means relying on her motherly intercession to help us offer ourselves more fully to Christ in his own consecration for our redemption.” (pgs 103 -104)

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