It’s official. We’re moving. To East Texas. I’m half excited and half terrified.
Everything is about to change and we, as a family, are going to have to make some major adjustments. First, I am a city girl by every definition of the word. My time is in the country-side has been limited to my undergrad years and living in a bonafide college town is just not the same as ranch life…..cows and chickens and horses….ranch.life.
I will also be moving 3 hours further away from my family and that’s going to be hard. Also, what does it look like to move with 2 kids? A mess, I’m sure. Just the process of boxing has been more than I’d like to deal with right now.
We explained to Makenzie and RJ that we are moving to “the ranch house” and they couldn’t be happier. It’s freedom and outdoor voices and animals and adventure hikes; they are more excited than my husband and that’s saying a lot.
I figured it was time. We have been in Houston for a long time, thanks to me. When we first got married, Red’s plan was to move me from San Antonio, where I was living while we were dating, to Marshall. I went along, attempting to be a good sport because that’s what supportive wives do. Red was the family’s ranch manager when we met and started dating so it really wasn’t far fetched that I’d end up on the ranch if things got serious. Ah, love young and the tendency to not (realistically) think too far into the future.
New living room furniture was bought, a nursery was put together — all that jazz. And then….I changed my mind. Country life “wasn’t for me”, I was in the midst of starting my Masters degree at TAMU through the online course and the internet sucked on the ranch. I was too far from my parents and my friends who were still currently in San Antonio. I just wanted out. Luckily, Red has mobility in life, working for his family, so he transferred to a position within the family business that allowed him to be in Houston. And so we moved.
That was over 5 years ago.
At the beginning of the year, Red and I were driving around, running errands one day and we started talking about our long-term plans. At this point, I had graduated with my Masters, had worked full-time with the NBA and gotten settled into my Stay-at-Home Mom position. Red, on the other hand, was still stuck in the same position he had been in when we initially moved.
I’ll be honest, I’m a hard person to please. I’m a pusher. If I see potential, in myself or in my parter, I don’t rest well until it’s realized. That has been one of my many roles in my marriage: not wanting my husband to settle for doing what he’s doing because we are comfortable. We talked about what he wanted to do and the passion and excitement I heard in his voice while he was talking about the ranch made me feel a little guilty. But why?
And then I had an epiphany: He had moved away from the ranch for me. He had all these big ideas for the ranch. He moved to make me happy and then (I guess) I just expected him to transfer his passions to something else. Of course I had realized all of my goals and he was in the same spot. So I asked, “Do you want to move back to the ranch?”
One month later we made the official decision to do it and we have been planning it out ever since. And the time is here! We are doing it. It is happening.
I am trading in all of my pumps and purses for rain boots and overalls. WHAT?! It’s fine. My husband has a new pep in his step.
This is going to be good.
I have really fond memories of traveling as a child. So much so that I knew that I wanted to carry that tradition on with my kids. Most of the time, we fly but we recently road tripped to New Orleans and (shocker) packing looked a little different this time around.
Parents, this one is for you– especially if you have never road tripped with your toddler before. Travel is less fun if you aren’t prepared and we don’t want that.
1.Create Multiple Music Playlists in Advance
One playlist is great if you are flying and your child can put on some head phones and is happy listening to the same 10 Disney songs over and over and over and …you get the idea. Let’s be real, they will probably be happy to listen to their ONE favorite Moana or Frozen song on repeat for the entire trip. On a road trip, it’s a little different. I think that everyone being involved in the trip is important in making great travel memories; that means, no headphones…no isolating yourself during the ride.
Making more than one playlist will keep everyone satisfied–no one will get worn out by ‘Let it Go’ playing on repeat and you can even squeeze in the edited versions of your favorite “adult” songs. Me and my kids listen to the edited version of Beyonce or Chance the Rapper albums–win, win.
2. Dry Snacks ONLY
Please do not make the mistake of packing things like yogurt cups or pizza lunchables. Think of the long term goal of not having to stop to change clothes after a spill or having to seriously clean your car once you arrive. Pretzels, apple slices, grapes…..those are the kinds of snacks that have minimal clean up repercussions.
3. Quiet Games
Both of my kids have ipads; I promised myself that I wouldn’t be that parent but that was before I actually was a parent and….screw that. I don’t know what I was thinking. But that’s besides the point. On road trips, it’s nice to avoid them. No one wants to listen to bouncy noices or magic wand sound effects or train horns all day while your kid taps away at their screen.
Instead, I pack no-mess markers and mini-coloring pads…the kinds made especially for travel or restaurant dining. They work wonders. Your kid’s favorite teddy or doll is also a plus. It can even be really entertaining to hear your kids have full conversations with their toys. Makenzie basically chastises her kids , threatens them with time outs and then reminds them that she loves them…she is basically me. LOL
4. Avoid Drinks When Possible
Yes, it is important to stay hydrated but let’s be honest: no one wants to deal with a toddler-sized bladder on 12 oz of water. GEEZ-US. It is the worst and completely kills your travel timeline, having to stop every hour for a potty break. I stop the drinks an hour before we take off on the road, make everyone use the bathroom before we leave the house/hotel and then avoid anything more than a sip of water after food while on the road.
5. Enjoy the Unexpected.
Give yourself a break. Remember that you’re on vacation. This is hard for me at times because I am a Type-A personality. I like structure and timelines and goals and ultra-planning. I have to remind myself to relax. Allow yourself to check out the cool hipster shop that you see when you pull over for food or to stretch. Take the time to set up your tripod and take a full family photo in front of the colorfully painted house or the random, life-size statue of a bronze chicken (I’ve never seen one but a girl can dream). The point is, on road trips, you will find things that you weren’t expecting. Enjoy them. Make the memories. Take the picture. Embrace it. Your kids will love you for it and you will appreciate it, too. I promise.