Traveling with parents and kids

Written in 2008, found tucked away in a file on my computer

What is interesting to me about this is that we just had a travelling Christmas vacation with Marc’s Dad. Many of the things that I wrote (and didn’t revisit) seven years ago would still have been great considerations for this trip. The kids being older (and all having their own phone) allows for different flexibility. And the ones needing to be careful about rest time were no longer this younger set.

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preserves

Now that I am ten years into my parenting journey, and now that my youngest is four and out of diapers, I feel that I am getting quite good at planning a car-trip, an overnight, a plane-ride, and an extended vacation. Recently, my skills were put to the test when we took my parents on vacation with us to King’s Landing Historical Settlement in Fredericton, NB. Here is a list of what I hope I will remember to do next time, when planning a multi-family/generational vacation.

*Do your homework and find out what is going on everywhere. Request books from the tourism bureau for yourself and each household going on the trip. Compile it, include times, phone numbers and directions. Even if something doesn’t look appealing to you, a lecture on grafting fruit trees may be the most exciting option for dear old dad. Remember to ask those that have been to your point of destination, what they want to see. Use FB and twitter to find out what might be going on off the beaten path, and what to avoid.

Anna - 6 years old*Be aggressive about getting everyone to say what their one thing is that they hope to do. Being trained in nice-ness, I didn’t push this point after my first ask. I knew for certain what two people out of seven wanted to experience (and I wasn’t one of them). By the second day I found myself frustrated that we were spending more time in some places and not in others.

*Expect that you are not going to see and do everything that everyone wants to. No matter how much time you have, this is probably true. We have always made it a point to not take the ‘this is a once in a lifetime trip’ approach. It MAY be once in a lifetime, but the pressure that puts on everyone is unfair and no fun.

*Have a rigid schedule for arrivals, departures, meals, and snacks. Waiting for hunger to hit is often too late with kids. Saying we’ll leave when we’ve had enough can be disastrous. I love traveling that way, but for the sake of my kids, and my sanity, our trip would have been less stressful to have put some of these solid boundaries on the path.

*Plan on having some meals separately. Meals while traveling are stressful times for kids (even if they do well with it). Meals with extended family can be the same. Add the two together, and just a meal can exhaust the kids (and parents) . I wish we had planned to have at least one meal a day with just our core family, preferably a ‘sit down and play UNO after the meal’ meal. It’s like a soft reset for everyone’s CPU.

*Build in times to explore together and separately. This morning the girls will be here, the boys will there. This afternoon grandma and grandpa will go to this show, and the kids will go with us to the pool. In the evening, grandma and grandpa will babysit so mom and dad can go have a drink together. (I was not as bold in asking for a break for hubby and I as I should have been.)Mom & Dad

*Evaluate rest and sleeping times, and be generous with them.

*Make caring for travelling plans and documents a team sport. At least two people should have addresses, phone numbers, timetables, and know where passports and other travel documents are at all times.

*Do two debriefings toward the end of the day, preferably with pen and paper. One debriefing would be for me and hubby: what went well, what went poorly. This would not only allow for better planning and preparation, but would also give space to put to bed any frustrations of the day. The other debriefing would be for everyone: what did you love today, where were you surprised by today, what did you learn? The fresh memories written down will be an invaluable addition to a paper or digital compilation of all the photos you’ve taken.

Our vacation to NB was a treat for all of us. We got to spend lovely time with each other in a lovely place. I got to see my son tease my father, and my mother and daughters learn about spinning flax together. My husband listened to my father observe many things that he would have missed, including grafts in fruit trees. We all stood in awe watching wood be split in a water-powered sawmill. And as we considered family and village life in the 1800’s, we were strengthening and enjoying our own family life in the 21st century.

Jones House hats

Jones House hats

Roasted String Beans

I remember having a conversation with my sister a few years ago about how she loved roasting vegetables. I have been such a ‘boil or steam  the veggies’ (if there are any veggies at all) person, it really took me some time to get my head around cooking a vegetable in the oven. I knew that it was going to be one of the techniques I was going to try this year as I grow my friendship with this food group.

My first attempt to roast included string beans. I have had string beans in some places where I was surprised that I could actually like them, and I have had string beans that I didn’t like at all (and that didn’t surprise me). This recipe was… okay. Or, I should say, this attempt with this recipe was okay. It will likely be revisited and I will continue to experiment with this recipe, this veggie, this method.

I think this method helps a vegetable show off. Whatever you put with it for seasoning (done correctly) is like a perfect scarf or hat near a woman’s face. Additional flavors can show off different features of the string bean, but the string bean (or whatever the veggie is) can be the star.

Starting the week on Thursday

Here is another written/unpublished post from 2012. Not only do I still do this, it has grown in it’s impact of our family. Just yesterday when Marc and I were talking about our days, I began by saying “Monday will be a much better day if these things happen.”

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Years ago Marc and I knew this guy. We only knew John and Amy and their kids for a brief time, but something John told me impacts me every week. I must have been walking across campus on a Friday afternoon and John was walking in the opposite direction. We chatted about the weekend and somehow it came about to John’s plan for weekend success with his family. He didn’t come home on Friday until the work of this week and planning for next week were done. I had imagined getting the past work done, but not the future work.

When I realized that homeschooling on Monday mornings was a lot of wasted time waiting for me to get things organized, or that Saturday and Sunday had a lot of time committed to planning or worrying about planning, I remembered John’s approach to weekends.  Because we often have a field trip planned on Friday, or because we are so excited to be done with a week, I began to use Thursday afternoons as my planning time. (That also worked because we don’t have any lessons to get kids to on Thursdays.)

So on Thursday afternoons, I gather all of our binders and books and the calendar, and get each of the kids work planned for next week. If I have any extra stuff to get together or prepare. I (usually) have plenty of time on Friday to take care of it. So Saturday and Sunday are homeschool planning free zones.

I had gotten so used to Sunday night, Monday morning being the beginning of a new week, it took some very deliberate planning to change my internal calendar. But recently when I missed my Thursday planning, it was awful enough to remind me why I made the change in the first place..

Monday’s are totally different for us now. We do have a hard time making the transition from weekend to school week – who doesn’t? But two major things have been taken care of and make that transition MUCH smoother.

I don’t think that my schedule will work for everyone. I would never say this is how it should be done. But I would challenge you to look at your calendar and tasks and to take ownership of your calendar and make it work for you – not you work for it.

My Valentine

TurnerHill1994This is our 21st Valentines day together.

We don’t really ‘do’ Valentines day – we do life.

We do dates and notes and sweet-nothings and cuddling on the couch.

We do calendaring and taxi-ing and lifting each others loads.

We do kitchen and bathroom chores, laundry and vacuuming.

We make small changes and Huge changes.

We make eye contact that says more than the words that we might try.

We do budgeting and splurging, vacationing and working, reading and praying.

We take walks sometimes and hikes sometimes.

We parent and homeschool and do entrepreneurial stuff.

We explore coffee and beer places together.

We argue. We make up.

We grow things and prune things, change things and keep some things the same.

We give. We take. We lead. We follow.

We have traditions and customs and bursts of spontaneity.

We giggle. We cry. We hold hands.

I’m so thankful for our life.

About Izzie

written in the Fall of 2012 – found in Evernote

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Not a plantain, but often called a weed. 🙂

My friend Izzie – there are so many cool things about her. Our youngest girls are best friends – they probably don’t remember a time when the other wasn’t there. We eat, talk, pray, play guitar and sing together. Izzie and I will sit around a talk about nothing and then she will ask ‘how is it with your soul?’ And it’s okay. (It wouldn’t be okay coming from a lot of people.)

But the thing that I think is most cool about Izzie today happened today. Anna got stung. Her first sting. And it hurt. I ran to get some salve for her and Izzie ran to the front yard saying something under her breath as she went. She came back in with a leaf and asked for a mortar and pestle. I don’t happen to have one hanging around my house so Izzie asked if I minded her saliva mixed with this plant that it became apparent was going to be put on the sting site.

Izzie chewed. Izzie applied. We held the chewed plantain onto the sting site with band aid. Ice applied to held numb the site as the plantain drew the poison from the stinger out. Anna felt better. So did I.

Everyone should have a friend who will chew on yard weeds to comfort your child.