We are starting out our summer by doing something crazy.
We are taking on a feat yet to be tackled by our family in our nearly ten years of existence.
We are taking a road trip.
It’s no day trip. It’s no short jaunt over the river and through the woods. No, we got it in our pea-sized brains to pack four fairly large, fairly long-legged, fairly small-bladdered and fairly lower-back impaired human beings into an automobile and drive 1,044 miles to San Diego, California.
I told you it was crazy.
But we are stoked.
To spend as little money as possible while laughing as much as possible.
To see atypical (and hopefully free) things (as well as many friends and family) on our route.
To grow, to bond, to learn together.
To not kill each other.
We’ve got some plans already sketched out, which I’m happy to share with any of you like-minded crazy road-trippers. But I’m hoping you all will help a mutha out and give me your best tips and advice too! Here’s what I’ve got:
Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon: We’re planning on packing our lunch on Day 1 and stopping here for a picnic.
Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, CA: Oh yes. Buttered popcorn and juicy pear for me, please.
San Francisco, CA: Plans include visiting Golden Gate, getting pictures in front of the Painted Ladies (Full House theme song, anyone?), winding down Lombard Street, strolling through China Town. Any other must sees?
San Diego, CA: Highlights include Cabrillo National Monument, Balboa Park, La Jolla beaches, maybe a visit to Julian and worship at The Rock. We’re skipping Lego Land, Sea World and the Zoo but would love any other suggestions!
We are packing a lot of our own food to save money and stops.
I’d love to hear your car-friendly snack and meal ideas, as well as economical, family-friendly suggestions for where to eat in:
San Diego—I got nothin’. Hit me.
I am actually most excited for the time we are going to spend in the car together, because I have all sorts of “fun” planned!
Reading: I’ve picked up some awesome books to read to the girls on the way down, including The Phantom Tollbooth, The Westing Game, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and The Egypt Game. I’m practicing all my character voices now. Chris can’t wait.
Language Lessons: the girls and I are learning Mandarin Chinese this summer and will be packing our materials for the car. Our goal—to be able to find the bathroom, the library or the discotheque in China Town.
Workbooks: my kids think workbooks are actually activity books, full of fun! I’m not going to tell them any differently and slip these Kumon math “activity” books into the seat pockets.
Talking: we love this Gabbit Faith Family Edition game, that is full of silly and intentional questions for all of us to answer together. And there will be the usual gab as well, I’m sure.
We are hoping to crash with family and friends when we can, and worst case, there’s Top Secret Hotels. Have you heard of this or tried it? I hope the “secret” isn’t cockroaches.
If you have any road trip lodging tips to share, please do! Unless your suggestion is camping. We may be crazy, but we aren’t THAT crazy.
Happy summer, friends! Happy road-tripping! And thanks in advance for all your help!
I’m a big fan of destination birthday parties. We’ve done the whole amusement part thing a couple of times, and then there was last year’s trip to the American Girl doll store. No fuss, no mess, no work. Mommy likey.
But this year, Gigi wanted us to throw her a birthday party at home, so she could enjoy the time with all of her friends. She specifically wanted a garden tea party.
And today, it was totally our pleasure to host a dozen girls in celebrating sweet Gigi’s life.
Here’s our garden tea party spread:
There were finger sandwiches, cut into flowers and hearts. They were filled with cucumbers and cream cheese, cream cheese and jelly and peanut butter and jelly.
I would suggest using a very light, thin white bread. Ours was a little thick and tended to tear.
There were also rainbow fruit kabobs.
These were a huge hit, until Lulu went through and started swiping the strawberries of the top.
We served individual veggie cups, carrots, celery, cucumbers and bell peppers all sat in a scoop of homemade ranch dressing.
So brilliant for kids—no need to regulate double dipping.
We sat out some “seeds” (of the chocolate-covered sunflower variety) to go with the garden theme.
And in place of tea, we served raspberry lemonade (Simply Lemonade brand is just water, lemon juice and sugar) with frozen raspberries for the “ice cubes.”
We decorated the backyard with lanterns we bought at the local party store.
The girls ended up loving these and each girl took one home to hang in their bedrooms.
We also had a table set up for crafting and planting.
We bought terracotta pots ($.69 each), paints ($.99 each) and some stick on stencils at Michaels’.
We picked up a few variety of wild flower seeds at Target.
And filled a wheelbarrow with potting soil and trowels.
The girls had a blast decorating the pots and planting their seeds.
And feasting on a big blanket together.
Then, it was time for cake.
I was a little proud of myself on this one.
It’s a homemade ice cream cake—white cake layered with orange, lime and raspberry sherbet and covered in a fluffy cream cheese frosting.
I used this recipe, and while almost no component was made from scratch or overly nutritious, the tricky assembly yielded a beautiful result.
A beautiful and delicious result.
So delicious, in fact, I foresee a second silver in our near future…
All-in-all, Gigi said it was the best party ever, and I admit, it was pretty great.
Sure, we could have picked another destination and not had all the mess and fuss again this year, but we would have missed this spectacular day for our sweet girl.
And she is totally worth it.
Speaking of birthdays, this weekend She Reads Truth celebrated it’s one year birthday! The Lord has done amazing things in our community this year and in the lives of all the women involved. If you need a little encouragement, check out some of the vlogs and blogs linked up here from so many inspiring ladies.
And if you haven’t read and seen all the work God’s done in our family, here’s where you can find a lot of markers on our path that keeps stretching into it’s beautiful existence.
It’s been an amazing year and His work is definitely something to celebrate (with cake!).
Our Gigi girl turns eight today.
I don’t believe it.
How can this screaming, colicky, red faced, “ultra-intense” baby (as a doctor—deliberately not chosen as our pediatrician—once called her), this infant of unimaginable neediness–how can she be turning eight?
She is a miracle.
I could type word after word to describe who she is in the world’s eyes, all her gifts, her school accomplishments and awards, her pretty hair and sweet smile. But I don’t want her for a second to think that’s even what we begin to treasure about her, so I won’t.
Instead, I’ll tell you what she decided at dinner last night.
We’d just got home from ballet, and she had her face inches away from a bowl of steamy noodle soup, in hopes it would clear her sinuses from this nasty virus we’ve been fighting in our house. I mentioned something to Chris about how ballet class felt a little bit strange, as the girls are preparing for their Spring Performance, which happens to be Wizard of Oz.
Gigi is a munchkin. Her friend Lucia is a part of the tornado.
I instantly picture a grade school. A teacher stretching out her arms as far and wide as she possibly can to cover her kids in the ultimate “act of God.” My throat catches and I put down my fork.
“Mom? Dad?” Gigi slurps a noodle and looks thoughtfully at us. “I want to do something to help those people who were in the tornado.”
And so we start brainstorming. Ideas are thrown out. Ideas are drawn out. Some more than others.
Gigi decides to bravely ask her ballet teacher if she can put out a collection jar at the entrance of the Spring Performance to collect money to give to the Red Cross for aid in Oklahoma. An email is crafted, one hand pecked letter at a time.
Her teacher responds.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Operation Oklahoma, on Gigi’s eighth birthday, is born.
There has never been a prouder mother than Gigi.
Except for me.
I chip in money from my grandma that’s been on my kitchen counter since my birthday for two weeks ago. Chris chips in $5 Bob Goff gave him to do something with in the name of Love. This is it.
“And Mom?” she says to me this morning.
“If I get money for my birthday I’m going to give it to the Red Cross for Oklahoma.”
Like I said, she is a miracle.
If you’d like to give Gigi a birthday gift, please donate to the Red Cross in any amount you are able. And if you could leave a comment below to let her know you supported Operation Oklahoma, you would bless her heart.
Prayers to all of those who are hurting in Oklahoma. Our hearts are with you.