Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to load up the car and drive to my sister's house in Virginia.  Depending on how many stops, and traffic of course, it takes us around 11 hours.  Thankfully, we've got two little great travelers on our hands which made the trip a lot less daunting.  (Check out my post with our must haves when traveling with kids!)

We left Tuesday morning and only had to stop once until we got to our hotel for the night.  We like to break up long drives at hotels with a pool.  The kids can get a lot of energy out and then they aren't in the car all day.  We got all checked in and the kids were bouncing up and down asking if we could go find the pool.  The look on Redmond's face when the woman at the front desk said "Our pool is closed" was heartbreaking.  Tears welling, bottom lip quivering.  Poor guy!  It was a huge disappointment to say the least, but Jason saved the day by suggesting we go find a park.


The kids even declared it was 'the best park ever!'

The next morning we loaded back up and headed to Maryland.  Jason needed to make a pit stop at his office there to work for a couple hours.  While he was working, I took the kids to a park that I used to take Redmond to almost daily when we lived in MD part time.  It was fun to go back there and explore.

After lunch, we got back in the car and finished the trip to my sister's house.  The kids slept the entire way.  Phew!  That was easy!

The kids were so excited to see their cousins!


On Thanksgiving, my sister, brother-in-law, mom, step-dad, my nieces, nephew and I went and did the local Turkey Trot 5k in my sister's town.  It's been a tradition since 2009 and I'm happy to report I beat my time from last year by about 35 seconds!  Woo-hoo!!!  It was the first year that my nieces ran the whole thing and they did great!  We celebrated with complimentary Krispy Kremes while we waited for everyone else at the finish line (we were the only ones that ran it - everyone else walked).

After the race, we headed back to my sister's house.  My sister and I got busy inside getting all the good food ready while the guys hung out around the infrared fryer outside.  We had the most gorgeous weather all weekend!

Redmond is obsessed with inflatables and he quickly convinced my brother-in-law to set up their Christmas inflatables.  Our favorite is this nutcracker.  Beer belly, tattoo, trucker hat - hilarious!
The rest of the day was spent drinking, eating and laughing.  It was a great, low-key Thanksgiving!
Friday morning I went out shopping with my sister and mom.  I found a few good things, but I was out more just to hang with my sister and mom.  Later that day we had "early Christmas" as the kids have named it.  Since we live so far away, we always do the kids Christmas gifts over Thanksgiving.  Always a hit!

That night, we headed outside for a bonfire and s'mores.  Great end to our trip!

When we woke up the next morning, it was Saturday already!  We got the car all packed up and hung out for the morning and through lunch.  Shortly after lunch we loaded up and hit the road.  Originally, we were going to stop and stay in a hotel and finish the drive home Sunday, but we decided that we would just drive straight home.  We got home a little after 11 pm and it was so good to sleep in our own beds!  We had a great time and can't wait for next year!
~ Sara :)

Traveling With Kids

Every year for Thanksgiving, we load up the car and head to my sister's house in Virginia to spend time with my family.  Traveling with toddlers/preschoolers can be absolutely exhausting!  Redmond has always been a great traveler (well, except for the occasional car sickness....) - from the time he was 6 months until he was about 21 months, we lived part time in Maryland and part time in Michigan.  We traveled back and forth every 4-6 weeks, so he became accustomed to traveling via car very quickly.

Ashlyn, on the other hand, not so easy.  That girl hated the car from the get-go.  She would scream no matter how far we had to travel.  Even a five minute drive to my in-laws.

Thankfully, she is much easier now and can be - and keep herself - entertained.  I was well prepared for this road trip though.  And, I thought I'd share some of our must haves when traveling with our little ones.

Food.  Snacks.  Lots and lots of food and snacks. 
Lots of variety too.  I decided to do something different this trip.  Normally, I just pack a bag full of different snacks and whenever I hear "I'm hungrrrrryyyyy!" I list off everything that I have until they hear something they want.  This time I decided to give them each their own snack bag. 

Inside was a variety of snacks.  Most were special treats, but I threw a few staples (Clif Bars and fruit) in there as well.
And, I always pack two water bottles per child.  I learned the hard way that if you only have one...and they drop it...and you can't reach doesn't end well.  So, I always have two ready to go!
This can be anything.  Well, anything that can be done in a moving vehicle while strapped into a car seat.  This time I packed a bag full of all kinds of different things for the kids.  I found a lot of stuff at the Dollar Tree.
For Redmond I picked up a couple of workbooks to practice writing his letters and numbers, a dry erase board, new (washable!) crayons, pad of plain white paper, TMNT stickers, Melissa and Doug color pad, new sunglasses and a couple small toys.
Ashlyn also got a dry erase board, an M&D book, crayons and a pad of paper.  She got Frozen stickers, a new coloring book, new baby bottles for her baby doll and a little Olaf figurine.
I packed them each a bag and kept it up front with me.  They had no idea that I even had these bags of goodies - I'll call it my secret arsenal. 
When they started getting restless or bored, I would pull something out of my secret stash to make them happy and keep them busy.  Even if it was only for 5 minutes ;)
Thankfully, I didn't have to use too many items from my stash.  Stocking stuffers!!!
(P.S. The built-in cup holders in their car seats were perfect crayon holders!)
Have them pack their own bag of travel goodies.
I had both Redmond and Ashlyn pack a backpack with activities/toys for the car.  They didn't pack much - a couple small toys, a couple books and they each took two stuffed animals.  I would have encouraged more (like coloring books and crayons), but I knew that I had my secret arsenal stashed up front with me, so I didn't.
  Because we travel at least once per year (but usually more), we have purchased a portable DVD player for both kids.  I know a lot of cars come with entertainment packages, but we prefer them to each have their own.  That way they can watch whatever their little heart desires.  These can usually buy us at least 30 minutes of quiet.  Usually.  The kids also have been given little tablets (R has a VTech and A has a LeapPad) for gifts in the past few years.  These are great for the car too.

Hotels with a pool.
If you need to break up your trip by staying overnight in a hotel, get one with a pool!  The kids will have lots of bottled up energy from traveling in the car - a pool is a great place to get all that energy out.  If a pool isn't available, try to find a local park. 

Traveling can be so stressful.  Amiright!?  It's stressful to the little people too.  And, just remember that if you're in the car long enough, they're bound to fall asleep at some point, right?
And, if you're really lucky, they'll nap at the same time.
So, there you go - these are our must-haves when traveling with our kids.  Anything I missed? 
Happy Travels!
~Sara :)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Four No More

We celebrated yet another birthday at the Hayes Homestead this weekend.  Our little man turned five!


I know, I can't believe it either!  Time just flies, doesn't it?  To think he's been in our life for five years....crazy.  

(*warning - bragging parent rant ahead*)

He is thriving at school.  We just had his parent/teacher conference this week and his teacher did nothing but rave about him.  He's counting well past 100, is writing his first and last name (as well as any other word you spell for him), counting by 2's, 5's and 10's, and is beginning to recognize some sight words.  He's doing basic addition and subtraction and already has impressive problem-solving skills.  He's an awesome kid.  Super duper awesome.

 He has two best friends - his Grandpa Joe and his sister.  His grandpa is his best buddy and I love to see the two of them interact.  As for Ashlyn - they are two peas in a pod.  They look out for each other, help each other, share with each other (usually....) and play so well together (most of the time...).  I love having them so close in age - they truly are each other's best friends and are soooo bored when one of them is not around.

Redmond has just started showing interest in superheroes - Batman mainly.  He loves the Octonauts and one of his and Ashlyn's go-to games is travelling by 'gup'.  They load up every toy they can squeeze into a backpack and run around to the house to different gups - the couch, beds, stairs, chairs, etc.  They have quite the imagination!

 Some of his favorite foods are: hot eggs, bananas, yogurt, cheese quesadillas, salmon, pork shoulder, chicken sausage, tacos, pasta, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, mac & cheese, pizza, pretty much any fruit, roasted potatoes, chicken, waffles, pancakes, French fries, cupcakes...

Instead of a birthday dinner like we did for Ashlyn, he decided on a birthday breakfast instead.  We had Jason's parents and our friends Katy and Jake.  We celebrated with birthday pancakes, bacon and cupcakes for dessert.


Once breakfast was done - it was on to presents! 

His birthday was extra memorable this year - we got 8 inches of snow!!  When they were calling for snow in the forecast a week before, he got super excited.  He really wanted to build a snowman on his birthday.  His wish came true!

So, after breakfast, presents, and cupcakes he headed outside with Jason, Ashlyn, and Grandpa to build a snowman.  He requested that it face the chicken coop so that the chickens could enjoy the snowman too.

The afternoon was spent playing outside in the snow and with all of Redmond's cool new toys! 

No big surprise that he picked Mexican for dinner - cheese quesadilla, rice, and water - a Redmond staple!  Grandma and Grandpa surprised him by showing up for dinner - he was so excited!!  After dinner he got to wear the sombrero and they brought him some ice cream.  Everyone loves free ice cream!

We had a great day celebrating our guy turning five! 

Redmond, we could not be more proud of the little man you're becoming!  You are sweet, generous, caring, imaginative, sensitive, tons of fun and hilarious!  We love you so much!!  You're gonna go far, kid!

Love you buddy,
~ Mommy :)