traveling with a toddler.

Last year, we went on vacation with our then 7 month PB. It was our first vacation with our baby, and, as we imagined, it was very different. But, for the most part, it was relatively easy. Sure there was more planning and logistics involved, but overall it went pretty smoothly. PB slept a lot during travel time, and he sat like a bump on a pickle down at the beach. Easy breezy.

This year, as we were planning our vacation back to that same beach, I assumed we’d need to again plan and work out some arrangements, but I expected our trip would flow pretty easily this time, too.

Enter tip number one:

LOWER DROP ALL OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

We always break up our trips at Ben’s dad’s house. We expected him to nap on the ride down, which he did not do. So, instead, we put him to bed at 9:00 p.m., and he woke up at 12:00 a.m., thinking he’d just taken a ‘nap’. He was ready to play just as Ben and I began dozing off. So, we were up all night long. Literally, we did not sleep the entire night.

We expected he’d sleep well in the car. He did not.

We expected we were taking a ‘vacation’. We did not. We prefer now to call it ‘quality time with family’, as we ‘worked’ more on vacation than we do at home.

We expected that he’d sleep well on our trip. He did not. Not for 2 weeks.

We expected that he’d enjoy playing in the sand, and that we’d be able to sit still for at least 5 minutes. He did not and we did not. He preferred to run from the ocean, to the sand, and to the pool, back and forth, allllll day long.


The bottom line: drop any expectations of a vacation. I know that a vacation pre-baby is 100% different than a ‘vacation’ with baby. And any expectations I have of what I once knew a vacation to be are non-existent. Reading a book, whilst plopping my behind in a beach chair, and dozing off during the day= never happening again. But, it’s okay. It’s actually better than okay. I wouldn’t trade seeing my boy squeal with excitement when a wave knocks him for anything.

Tip number two:

PLAN AHEAD FOR STOPS.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far traveling with PB was trying to go from point A to point B as fast as we could, making minimal to zero stops. Bad idea. We’ve learned it’s best for us if we plan stops to rest and play a little. When traveling this time, I did a little research while we were on the road and I planned out kid-friendly stops for us. Chick-fil-a is a must, as it’s one of the only places left that has a kid area. I also scouted out the nicest rest stops I could, and we were able to get out for a while and let PB run wild in the shade. We stopped about every 2 hours and spent some energy. It made the trip so much more pleasant for all of us.

Tip number three:

PACK WISELY.

One of the unexpected joys of traveling with a baby is the amount of stuff you’ve gotta take. Seriously, I feel like we could pack our car full solely using PB’s things. I tried to pack as lightly and condensed as I could for this trip. I used the rolling method for packing his clothes (rolling the clothes up instead of folding them), and that was a big space saver. I packed all of his necessities first (clothes, diapers, shoes, sound machine, sippy cups, etc.) and then I crammed toys and books in anywhere I could fit them. I had things stuffed everywhere, but I was able to pack more in a smaller space.

and finally,

Tip number four:

SOAK IT UP AND ENJOY IT.

There were several times on vacation that I let myself get frazzled. We’d spend all morning chasing a wild man around the hotel, trying to feed everybody, lather up in sunscreen, and haul a load of stuff down to the beach. Some days, by the time we’d get everything and everybody to the beach, we’d no sooner turn around, and we’d be coming up for lunch and a PB nap. It seemed like we spent most of our time at the beach trying to get down to the beach. I let myself get too uptight, running around trying to ‘prepare’ for vacation that I lost sight of why I was there: to spend time with my family, and watch my baby boy experience so many new things. Focusing on that reminds me that life is so precious and it is meant to be nothing but enjoyed.

Do you guys have any vacation traveling tips? Traveling tips for baby? Toddlers? Husbands?


Have a blessed Monday 🙂

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vacation, yo!

After two weeks of vacation, our sweet little old house never looked and felt so good.

Though I enjoy a vacation, and especially love one to the beach, nothing makes you appreciate home more than being away from it.
We headed out at the end of June for a weeks vacation with Ben’s family to Bald Head Island, North Carolina. And let me tell you something…if you’ve never been to Bald Head Island, put it on your bucket list.
It’s a small island on the southern coast of North Carolina. Only accessible by ferry, cars aren’t permitted and you travel around the island only by feet, bikes, or golf carts. This is our second trip back to the island, and I loved it just as much this year as I did last. 
This year was a major change compared to last year because PB could walk run. I’m not quite sure we sat still the entire trip. He was in to everything. He loved the pool.
He wouldn’t touch the ocean that first week. I think it was partially because the water was cooler there. By the end of the week, he was trying to swim and running and jumping in the water like a maniac.
We had a marsh out back from the house we stayed in. I’ll go ahead and add ‘marsh’ to the top 5 irrational things I’m scared of.  I mean seriously, could you imagine falling off of the boardwalk into a snake/crab/alligator pit? I cringe just thinking about it.
We had a wonderful time getting to see Ben’s family and catching up with everyone. PB loved all of the attention and extra playmates. 
Oh, and you’ve totally got to see this house. Ben’s dad and stepmom have two dear friends who own a house on the island. We first went to their house last year, and I was totally blown away. Lisa, a designer, and her husband Ron, have totally transformed their digs into a magazine worthy abode. Here’s a link to their BHI home, featured in Lonny magazine. That’s Lisa and the house on the cover, and the article starts on page 198. I’m now convinced we need a bubble chair in our house.
On Saturday, we got on the ferry and headed back to the mainland. Southport, North Carolina is the town where the ferry docks and loads, so we decided to grab a quick bite to eat at Fishy Fish Cafe before heading back on the road. 
After lunch, I was convinced I needed an ice cream sandwich for dessert, so Ben and PB walked down the street and found what they thought to be a little market.
It turns out, they had stumbled onto the set of ‘Safe Haven’, the new Nicolas Sparks movie featuring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. I’m not big into love movies, but I guess I’ll have to watch this one now. 
After our 2.3 seconds of fame, we headed down to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to meet my family for our second week. 
This week, PB loved the ocean. I think it was because the water was warmer. His zeal for the ocean led to a small sand rash on his thighs, so he then refused to wear swimming trunks the rest of the week. I ended up letting him wear a small pair of pajama shorts the rest of the time. We resisted the man thong, and let him wear the booty shorts instead.
We spent the week laying by the beach, butts planted in beach chairs, reading books and drifting off into spontaneous naps. 
Yea. 
Right.
PB was wild. In between running up and down the beach, and picking up babes, he wore us out.
We also discovered that PB likes carnival rides. We spent our weight riding the carnival horses.
By the end of the week, we were exhausted. We managed to head out on the beach the last night and snag a few family pictures. Can I tell you how much bribing goes in to trying to get a toddler to smile? 
That was the closest thing to a smile we could get. He was more interested in the sand and ocean than taking silly pictures. Both PB and Ben complained the whole time. I’m outnumbered.
I’ll be back with more vacation stories, including my tips for traveling with a toddler, or better yet, lessons learned the hard way 🙂
Have a blessed Tuesday 🙂

we’re baaaack.

Ahh….

Home sweet home.

We’re back after two weeks of vacation.

This is what my house looks like:

And this is what my yard looks like:
And better yet, this is what my garden looks like, after a few big storms apparently:
So we’re digging out today, mowing our hayfield of a yard, and washing approximately 2837 loads of laundry. We had a wonderful time, though, and I’ll be back to share a recap of our trip. 
Have you taken your summer vacation yet? Are you going anywhere, or taking a ‘staycation’?
Have a blessed Monday 🙂

buying our first car.

Well, folks.

We have a car payment now.

We finally broke down and bought a new (to us) car.

It was time. Actually, it was a little past time.

We had two vehicles, a Toyota Camry that Ben got in college, and an old SUV that I drove in high school. High school, y’all. Ben drives the SUV and its really just a beat-around car. We haul the dogs, kayaks, trash, and other junk in that car. And I drove the Camry. It served us well, but it was becoming more of a hassle to drive it. During college, a motorcycle hit Ben head-on, and practically totaled the car. Since then, it seemed like we were continuously working on the car. We had talked about trading it for some time, but we were just waiting for the last straw.

And then it arrived.

About a month or so ago, Ben and I went to visit his family. His dad lives halfway between us and his mom, so we always stop at his dad’s house on the way to his mom’s house 8 hours away. We had postponed the trip for a day because PB had a touch of a virus. He had a low grade fever and just wasn’t feeling like himself. The next day, he woke up like himself, so we decided to give it a go, and head on out. We’d be stopping at his dad’s house in only 4 hours. Plus, we’d timed it up to leave during his naptime, so he’d sleep most of the trip. It wouldn’t be too bad.

Right?

He stayed awake the entire car ride. And for icing on the cake, he cried the WHOLE WAY THERE. I climbed in the backseat to sit with him and I realized why. It was 19382 degrees in the backseat, and we didn’t have tinted windows. His fever returned. We had to have the air conditioner reconfigured every year after the wreck. It hasn’t worked right since. It was a miserable trip. Totally, completely miserable. I don’t think Ben and I talked the whole way there.

When we got to Ben’s dad’s house, we ate quick bite of supper and went straight to look for a new car. We wandered over to the Toyota lot, and I found the car I was looking for: a white, used Toyota Highlander. We test drove it and loved it right away. The only thing we didn’t love was the price tag. Too much for a 2008 used vehicle we thought. The car was in great condition, and had reasonable mileage, but was still overpriced.

Let me stop here and say that neither one of us have ever bought a car. I’ve never been around the ‘negotiating’ nor am I good at ‘negotiating’ anything. As we were driving the car back after the test drive we were both trying to figure out how we could negotiate a price. I mean how in the heck do you buy a car?!?

We walked back in to the office like two sweaty-pitted teenagers. I’m pretty sure the salesman could smell our fear. We sat down in the ‘buyer’s seat’ and the salesman started crunching numbers. He handed us a sheet of paper after some calculations.

We were not happy. Still completely overpriced.

We went in for the kill. Two hours later, and 45 minutes after their closing time, we walked out with the keys to our new (to us) car. They took $4500 off the sticker price, and gave us more than we thought our car was worth. We paid the maximum amount down, and got a pretty decent interest rate. We hope to have the car paid off by Christmas this year.

 Being totally new to the car-buying business, we had no idea what to expect. After we’ve gone through the first-time buyer experience, here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Do your research. Ben and I had been researching cars for a couple of months. We decided what we wanted early on, and had been looking at vehicles for several months. We actually had found another car that we were interested in several weeks prior, and we were able to use it as a bargaining factor for our car.

2. Go later in the evening. We got to the lot around 6:00. The dealership closed at 7:30. By the time we test drove it and looked it over, it was close to 7:00. After an hours worth of bargaining and crunching numbers, I think they were just ready to get us out of there. They had already turned off most of the lights in the building!

3. Don’t mention that you want to trade cars right off the bat. My best friend and her husband recently traded vehicles, and this was the piece of advice she’d given me. We wanted to find out what would be the lowest price total that they would take for the car with or without trade.

4. Don’t be afraid to bargain. I’ve never been a negotiator, nor is Ben. But we were 200 miles away from home and had nothing to lose. Words came out of my mouth that I didn’t think I had. Plus, I needed a stinkin’ air conditioner that worked!

5. Act like you know what you are talking about. I think this is especially true for young folks. Don’t let them take advantage of you because you’re young!

Do you have any tips for buying a car? Or for negotiating/bargaining in general?

Have a blessed Monday 🙂