Surviving our Family Vacation…

my family is just coming off the highs [and lows] of an epic trip – 26 days and 6,000+ miles of travel by 5 airplanes, 2 rental cars and 5 places we stayed, throughout Oregon and California.
we’ve been back almost 2 weeks, and I am still. tired.
seriously, I was so tired.
we were constantly on the go – seeing so many people, places and things.

it. was. awesome.
seriously, it was so awesome.
all the time we spent with people, places we went to, and things we did were awesome. 

…and these are our stories of the stains, pains and gains of traveling across the country for 26 days.

travel is super fun. but it is also super hard… especially when traveling with 3 small kids.
it is taking your work with you 24/7. it is never getting a break. or downtime. it’s wiping butts elsewhere. it’s time out elsewhere. it’s losing count of how many times you turn around and say “stop fighting! keep your hands to yourselves! quit bothering your sister!” it’s not being able to separate the 3 bickering kids squished into a Toyota Camry rental car when they are used to slightly more space (at home) in the luxury of your own ’97 Honda Odyssey. it’s gritting your teeth and clenching your toes b/c your trying to force your 3 1/2 year old on the toilet and scaring her with your demon angry mom face without everyone in Powell’s bookstore hearing you yell underneath your breath at her to “GO POTTY!”…
as one friend coined the phrase: it’s parenting elsewhere.

it’s finding a tick on selah’s head during our picnic at the beach, smelling oil in the ocean as each wave brings a new whiff of the lovely odor, looking into the vast distance of the ocean, only for the view to be halted by the oil rigs doing their ‘job’. discovering the oil stains on their swim suits and bodies after we’ve spent hours playing in the water unaware of the results. the beach trips were some our favorite days, but there was always a little something to remind us nothing is perfect… even on the beach days that were close to perfect… like hearing them whine ~ “i wish the beach didn’t have so much sand! or “i wish the sand was grass!” really?! these kids.

it’s sneaking into the historical Santa Barbara Mission church service, feeling guilty about limbo-ing underneath the rope with a “service closed” sign attached. [well, soleil and i felt guilty… because we try and follow rules] so after a brief argument, we nonchalantly whistled our way under the rope. oh, and Adam walked right in and joined the communion line, no sweat. the usher telling him, “I’d never tell anyone they can’t take communion.” good job usher – you just affirmed my husband breaking all the rules. the Mission was built in 1786 and has been around a while, so i’m sure we’re not the first ones to have “broken in”.

then there’s selah yelling all the way up the hike to Multnomah falls, and all the other tourists giving me their pity – or ‘you’re a terrible mother’ – glances along the way. well, at least she smiled for the family picture. but only after i bribed her into doing so with the promise of ice cream. then there was our visit to Tillamook cheese factory where you can view the workers processing and packaging the cheese and other dairy products they are famous for. i don’t know about you, but i’m not really comfortable with a bunch of strangers staring at me while i work, packaging dairy products and passing them down a conveyor belt. so we quickly looked around, enjoyed some ice cream and headed for our last stop – the cheese sample line. we grab our toothpicks and start picking up the famous “squeaky cheese” when the lady behind me gasps pointing, “Ugh! SHE just put her used toothpick back in the box of clean toothpicks!” i mumble the response, “well… ummm, i’m not sure which 1 dirty toothpick out of the 300 in the box is hers…” so while she’s still staring at me expecting some kind of crazy reaction, i look at adam, shrug my shoulders and grab about 48 toothpicks of the top of the pile, hoping i got the right “dirty toothpick”. after we continued thru the sample line, and enjoyed our pepper jack samples – plus – the ones the kids didn’t finish, we both burst into laughter. what else can ya do?

not too far into the trip ~ our travel phrase became, “Well. they don’t have a Selah.” 

hey, it made us feel better… at least temporarily.

and then the kids’ homesickness kicked in, missing their own beds and space, and the los angeles traffic – which we are pretty sure is the equivalent of time spent in hell – seriously?! a few of the highways had 8 lanes. 8 lanes people!?! and the impatience…, and the kids moving slowly, the length of time it takes to herd kittens, err… i mean, our kids out the door every single day… it takes forever to pack lunches, extra clothes, toys, and books, for whatever adventures awaited us each day…

intertwined in the midst of the stains and pains, were the beautiful gains… 
the quality time spent as a family (we spent a lot of time getting along beautifully ;)). 
the time without television, video games, and videos on our road trips (although at times we were wishing we would’ve had a video player to minimize some of the car drama)…
the time spent without unnecessary shopping, not going into a target the entire trip (and we love target!), minimal responsibilities and material things to keep track of, less toys to fuss over, wearing the same outfits over and over again…  
the time spent hiking, waterfalls, the beach… everything outdoors!
experiencing church in different, unique places ~ the Portland Rose Garden, Crater Lake and the Santa Barbara Mission ~ on the sunday’s we were gone from our beloved home church. 
the time with adam’s parents. 
the coffee dates, and time to surf and boogie board while the grandparents watched the kids.
special memories our kids have made with their grandparents…
time with adam’s sister, our brother in law, and our neice and nephew. 
the squeals of joy when our kids and their cousins embraced each other yet again… after a year apart.
time with my aunt and uncle who had just moved from oklahoma to california the same week we arrived. 
visiting some of the area where adam grew up… the old Grananda hotel his grandfather owned… where rooms were once rented for a few dollars a night are now upwards of $400 a night.
time with adam’s aunt and uncle… whom we had not seen in over 12 years, and it was their first time meeting our kids. 
the kids running chasing enjoying uncle gilberts farm, the animals and adventures to be had.  
and hearing the wonderful family stories our aunts and uncles shared… history lessons of our family tree.
the laughter. the joy. our hearts swelled full of time with our loved ones… 
creating memories. priceless moments made. to be held forever in our hearts.

much of our travel time had a stain or pain ~ and ultimately a gain ~ attached… and we are learning this is all part of the reality of hard core traveling as a family: fighting, yelling, frustrations, miscommunication, impatience, difficult conversations, deep work thru some tough emotions…

it’s the reality of the fam~glam(orous) travel lifestyle.
and yea, we’re crazy… we survived our family road trip… and we’ll do it all again…

thank you for reading… as always feel free to comment, share and follow us our half written records. and be sure to visit the blog again soon for my next post about our experience on the second part of our Oregon / California journey when we attended the Vineyard Pastors conference in Anaheim!

In Him, Leslie

The Original Playstation

I love fall.
Fall time is outstanding in central Ohio. The weather is perfect. The colors are vibrant. The pumpkin spice latte is baaaack at all the coffee shops.  
Yes. Fall is lovely. 
My favorite part about fall *besides all things pumpkin* is the time we spend outdoors… 
The original playstation.
Nothing beats the great outdoors. No “konkey kong”, Mario video game or anything on T.V. or the Wii can even. come. close.    
As summer comes to an end and fall is just around the corner, I can’t wait for all of the fun we are going to have in the great outdoors of Ohio.  
I’m also feeling nostalgic for the wonderful times we had this summer. Especially all the fun we had exploring the original playstation ~ the great outdoors of Oregon. 
*Here are some more snapshots*
Silver Falls State Park 

looking out from the top of the falls

silly & serious faces

Me & my sister in law Amber

our family with cousin Micah

Sisters, OR

I love that Oregon has a little town called “Sisters” & the capital of Oregon is “Salem”
Salem & his sisters playing at a park in Sisters, OR

The High Desert Museum ~ Bend, OR
Exploring the pioneer ranch

Smith Rock ~ Terrebonne, OR
During this hike we used the rapid shooting feature on Adam’s camera phone. It was fun to capture lots of facial expressions and background beauty of Smith Rock.

the slippery rocky trail

Aunt Amber!
Selah with cousin Noelle

the hike back up and out of the canyon

We ended the outdoor festivities with a campfire. Right next to a pile of wood chips.

So this fall we will be exploring the outdoors of central Ohio.
Wherever you live across the globe ~ get outdoors and enjoy 
the Original Playstation!

Top 10 Travel Tips

For the past 30 some years, Adam and I have both had the opportunity to travel many places, all over the world. 
We are almost travel pros.   
For some, traveling can be extremely stressful… especially with kids.  The thought of traveling with small children is close to having a root canal. 
BUT. You should GO!
Kids shouldn’t hold you back from traveling…Even as we were backpacking in Europe before we had our wee babs, we spent much of our time dreaming about one day traveling with our children.

Now, it is time to share our “Top 10 Travel Tips” for successful travel with children and adults, taken from our trip to Oregon last month.

1. Be prepared to wear a diaper.  
Ladies – sometimes you won’t know when “aunt flow” is gonna visit… if it happens at 10:30pm in a small Oregonian town with every store closed and no 24-hour Walmart handy, you’re gonna need an alternative… thankfully, I had a diaper handy when ‘flow’ visited me…and a wonderful husband who went out the next morning to buy me some necessities. Until then, the diaper worked brilliantly. and… they were pretty much the same size as the pads my hubby came home with. 
2. Be prepared for temper tantrums. from your children. and from yourselves. be prepared to handle them creatively.

Travel isn’t always easy.  Sometimes children and adults can get irritable.  Selah was throwing a fit on our way to Portland and nothing was settling her down…until she discovered mommy’s vaseline tube. she squirted it all over herself. I let her go with it. my brilliant idea worked.

3. Be prepared to take a nap. whenever. wherever. 
Sometimes tantrums break out as a result of being tired.  and when your child finally falls asleep, don’t move them.  even if they look uncomfortable.  it will be better for everyone involved, especially the old lady squished up next to you like a sardine on the airplane… trust me. let them sleep in whatever position they fall asleep in. and *bonus* if you get a nap in too. 

4. Be prepared to eat the same thing almost every day.
it’s easier. it’s cheaper. it takes up less brain space not thinking about what you’re going to eat. if you have a refrigerator handy, buy your food at the local market and pack it. 
we packed lunches nearly every day. sandwiches. fruit. veggies. chips. water.
it’s better for your body and for your kids if you have homemade food handy that everyone enjoys.  some restaurants can be nasty.
and don’t spend your whole travel experience at restaurants. be adventurous. 
discover an unexpected picnic spot.
Silver Falls State Park
Sitting outside of Whole Foods

5. Be prepared to find restaurants with toys.
When you do need to eat out, be prepared to find restaurants with toys. or places that are family friendly.  we prefer non-fast-food places which takes a little extra work on our part. with the help of the app Yelp it usually works out just fine.

We had a nice time when Grandma took the girls out to lunch at a tea shop, complete with gummy worms for the kids.
We also went to The Laughing Planet cafe. complete with dinosaurs on every table to enjoy.
lots of laughter at the Laughing Planet Cafe
After we finished eating, we used Yelp to help us find a nearby park
6. Be Prepared to embrace both the similarities and differences of each traveller. 
Our family enjoys most of the same things. playing. being outdoors. being silly. being together. eating the same things…
our kids are not picky about what they eat. they are pretty good at sharing too – a chicken salad with chips & salsa.
We are also very unique personalities. we need a break from one another. all of us need space at some point during travel. space while traveling with others can be hard to find – sometimes that “alone” time is available during a car ride… 
Salem asleep. Soleil “talking” to her friend on a toy cell phone.  Selah getting over a tantrum. 
7. Be prepared to embrace other cultures. and their ice cream. 
We went to Woodburn, Oregon and ate at a well known family owned Mexican restaurant one evening.  Woodburn has a large Hispanic population and is a very family friendly area.  We enjoyed and embraced every moment at the restaurant and the ice cream shop.

We also enjoyed the smiles we got from the window shopping we did.  In all my life and travels and shopping, I have never seen boots such as these… these boots were definitely made for walkin’.
8. Be prepared to wear the same thing during your travels and live out of your suitcase.
I don’t have any specific pictures to capture this point.  But if you look back at the pictures from the last few [Oregon travel] blog posts, you will see we pretty much wore the same outfits on our trip.
it’s easier to pack. it’s very freeing. just bring your 5 fav outfits. and a scarf! just do laundry.
it’s totally worth the less crap you have to cart around. especially when you also are carting 3 small children around.
9. Be prepared for all things random.
Life is too short to not. have. fun. Sometimes the random things you end up doing while traveling, end up making some of the most precious memories. 
You let your kids play on Grandpa’s treadmill with their cousins.

You take lots of pictures…of random things you find hilarious.
we told the kids these were “marsh-mellow farms”

You give your kids the extra leg room… they deserve it.
10. Be prepared to be thankful… in all circumstances. 
even in an hour of traffic because of the beauty around you.

even in the difficult moments flying home… remain thankful. 
home sweet home. with a monkey in the background.
Don’t expect perfection. just be prepared to be Thankful
Take your kids [or just yourselves] and Go.

We have taken our kids pretty much everywhere we go.  Here we are on our mission trip to India in 2007.  Since having the wee babs, we have been on the road, in airplanes, biking, boating, running, and walking everywhere with Soleil, Salem & Selah.  Soleil (8) has been flying since she was 6 weeks old.  She has flown several times and been on countless road trips in her short life.
This picture is from their first nap in India-Soleil (3) & Salem 9 mos).

Live out of your suitcase. 
Eat the same thing everyday. 
Let yourself have a tantrum. and a nap. and be prepared…

Be prepared to Embrace. Experience. and Enjoy. every. crazy. pointless. ridiculous. random. silly. moment.

God’s Sandbox

Ahhh…the Beach!
God’s sandbox.
Get there if you can. Really.

The Northwest Pacific Ocean…
It’s sandy, rocky, windy, sometimes cold, sometimes sunny and always beautiful.
The waves crashing against the shore is the most somber sound.
The openness of the ocean is overwhelming.
The vastness of the view is incredible.
The sands by the seashore are innumerable.
Here are some pictures from our trip to Oregon… 
where we had some really great times playing in God’s sandbox.

we thought the flying nun was chasing us, but it was just Grandma 🙂

Soleil & cousin Noelle

Selah and Noelle

Adam and the three wee Babs with cousin Micah
Salem wore daddy’s sweatshirt when it started turning chilly
Soleil kept warm with her sand blanket

Grandma had to take drastic measures to stay warm

Then the sun came out again on our way home

It didn’t matter that we were caught in traffic for an hour; I was driving and couldn’t stop smiling, after a beautiful beach day in God’s sandbox!
The Pacific northwest coast is more often a sweatshirt beach, than a swimsuit beach.
And there is always the option of wearing a wet suit.
If you’re okay with this, and you prepare by bringing different layers of clothing, you will LOVE it!
On our last trip to the beach, the last day of our trip, we had the chance to go boogie boarding.
Adam jumped at the opportunity and ran to rent his wet suit and board as soon as we got there. 
But I was more hesitant.
I debated for about 30 minutes, worrying about the kids…would they get bored, tired or cranky sitting on the sand with Grandma & Grandpa?  Worrying about myself…would I have enough energy to withstand the ocean waves tossing me around?  I’m not a good swimmer, what if I drowned?  Worrying about the money…was it worth the $35 cost of renting the wet suit and board for 24 hours, knowing I might only use it for 30 minutes if I hated it???
Then, God slapped me upside the head and said, 
“You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
So, I ran over to the surf shop to rent my wet suit.
Have you ever worn a wet suit? 
They are extremely difficult to put on… and get out of.
But it was worth it. Every penny of the $35. Every ounce of energy it took for me to get in. and out. of that wet suit. so worth it!
We boogie boarded for about 3.5 hours and still weren’t ready to go.
The breakdown of the cost ended up at $10/hour… so worth it.
I could spend $35 on so many other things, but nothing can replace that experience.
And of course, the kids were never bored hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa, playing in God’s sandbox.

Any chance you get, get to a beach, any beach!
For your kids, for yourselves, for your friends, get there!

Who wants store bought sand shoved into a plastic turtle which ends up being used for cat litter box when the lid is left off accidentally??
We need the Beach…
We need to spend time in God’s Sandbox.