Magnolia

So unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper. I’m a fan. Obviously they are big into the whole modern farmhouse vibe and so am I. So when Brian had a work trip in San Antonio, TX he easily talked me into going with him (and our littles) by promising me a stop in Waco to see the Magnolia Silos. And trust me, I earned the stop by being stuck in a hotel for a week with two kids under the age of three….

Waco is about an eight hour drive for us, so we left in the evening and drove as far as we could so the kids could sleep for most of the drive. We stopped at a hotel about an hour outside of Waco so we could wake up and only have a little bit of a drive and get to the silos right after they opened. I HIGHLY suggest getting there when they open or soon after on a weekday. It was already busy, but there were still plenty of free parking spaces left and while the store and bakery were bustling with lots of people, we didn’t have to stand in line or anything.

I follow the Magnolia store on Instagram so I was prepared for everything to be beautiful, and it was. As someone who worked in retail for half of their life, I fully appreciated all the work that goes into setting displays and watching people rearrange and touch all of your hard work. I can also sympathize with all of the refolding of t-shirts that must go on in that place! The store was really clean and open and if there was something you wanted to look at but couldn’t because there was a crowd in the way, it was usually in another place or two. Things were a little pricey in my opinion, it was priced a lot like Anthropologie or West Elm. I got a t-shirt $28 and a couple candles for $26 a pop.

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We also stopped into the bakery, which is so, so tiny. It looked so much bigger on t.v.! It was worth the stop though, Brian and I both got a warmed, cheddar, bacon and chive biscuit….heavenly. I NEED that recipe in my life. I’m really kicking myself for not getting some cupcakes to go. It’s one of my biggest regrets.

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The kids’ favorite spot was the large, faux grass yard. I loved it too. It was a great way for the kids to run out some energy before we had to get back in the car and drive to San Antonio. I loved the fake grass because it looked nice and kept the kids clean…I am now wishing our lawn was fake grass. There were bins full of balls and outdoor games, but we didn’t even need them, Hollis ran laps while Bo took some wobbly steps.

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There were also big swing sets at the far edge of the lawn, but we didn’t get on them. I was impressed with how clean and tidy everything was. I can only imagine how full this lawn in on the weekends!

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There were also a couple of rows of food trucks and tons of picnic tables and places to sit. We would’ve loved to try some of them, but we were there too early. Next time, maybe. Although, I could just live on biscuits every time I go and be perfectly happy about it. They also had tours you could take that would drive you by some of the housed the Gaines’ have done. We didn’t have time for anything like that, but it would’ve been fun to see them.

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Brian even ran into someone he knew there, because of course he did, he knows everybody. We couldn’t leave without taking the obligatory picture out in front of the Magnolia sign. The employees were spread out all over the place and were all very friendly. There were a few outside the store that offered to take your picture for free, which I gladly obliged since there are only about six pictures of all four of us together in the universe. I don’t even care that we aren’t all looking at the camera….All in all, it was a good trip and I’m glad we had the opportunity to do it, and I would do it again anytime!

 

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Road Trip Through Colorado (Pt. 2)

After spending a weekend in Colorado Springs for a family reunion, we headed to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. On the way we stopped and stretched our legs and had a mini picnic lunch with a beautiful view….and of course Hollis found some dirt to play in so she was stoked.

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So many beautiful places to pull over and stretch your legs and take pics. I can’t wait to hike some of these places when the kids are a little bigger.

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The next morning we woke up nice and early to drive the Million Dollar Highway. I’m so glad we went early because there was very little traffic which made the super steep drop-offs and winding road, slightly less terrifying. I’m glad I wasn’t driving because there was so much beautiful scenery to look at. I kept pointing things out to Brian while he was driving…luckily he ignored me and kept his eyes on the road. Fortunately there are many places to pull off and whip your camera out.

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File_000(2)The cutest town, Ouray is tucked away in the mountains. We drove through it because the kiddos were asleep, but we would have loved to get out and explore it. It looked like a fun town to stay in, so hopefully next time we can do that.

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Not a bad view to take in while nursing this little guy.

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We drove through Durango and then to Farmington, NM where we got a glimpse of Shiprock before heading to Four Corners.

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We got just close enough to Shiprock to take a few pics.

We were looking forward to the Four Corners Monument, but it was a little disappointing. It was super hot and there was zero shade to escape the afternoon sun. The only thing to do there is stand in line and have your picture taken on the monument. The people in line were friendly and took turns taking the pic of the people in line in front of them so it went fairly quickly. There are also little vendors selling souvenirs. The prices were reasonable, but each vendor pretty much sold the same things. We let Hollis pick out a necklace and bracelet and we picked out a bear carved out of stone for Bo. The biggest disappointment was that there was NO FOOD/DRINKS. There was one food truck there, but it was not open at 1:30pm while we were there.

File_002We kept moving towards Mesa Verde National Park. We had another impromptu picnic there and checked out the Cliff Palaces.  We would love to do the tour some day, but the kids were just too small to do it this time. There was more white-nuckle driving as we drove higher up and then down the mountain. We left just in time before it started to storm.

File_003IMG_1176 File_005At this point, the kids were getting really used to hotel life. We found that after a long day of driving we all did better with picking up dinner somewhere and eating it in our hotel room. The kids were able to wind down before bedtime and pretty much stay on their usual schedule. So while our night life was pretty low-key and boring, it definitely made for calmer, happier kids the next day.

IMG_1185File_008On our way back home, we stumbled upon my new favorite spot. We had spent most of the day driving already with no real opportunities to get out of the car and recharge. So when Bowen woke up hungry and Hollis started to get restless, we decided we better find somewhere to stop asap. Of course when you really need to stop, there is nowhere to stop. After searching for a place to pull off and feed the baby, with no real options, we decided to get off the highway and trek down a dirt road and see where it took us.

We ended up at a campground tucked away deep in the trees. Seriously, if you wanted to commit a crime and hideout somewhere, this is the place to disappear. We continued down this narrow dirt road, passed people horseback riding, and passed what we thought was a little stream to our right. We thought it would be a great spot for Hollis to get out and do her thing aka dig in the dirt. When we actually got closer to the spot, it opened up to this beautiful fishing spot.

IMG_1201These pictures really don’t show how secluded this little gem was. The whole spot was hiding behind a wall of trees. I was so happy to relax on a blanket and feed the baby while Hollis got to collect rocks in the water with dad.

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We had the place all to ourselves for a while. A friendly older couple showed up to fish and said this is their favorite fishing spot because it is so hidden and quiet. They were really sweet and let Hollis watch them catch a fish (which only took them less than five minutes to catch). We didn’t stay long after that because we didn’t want our little hooligans to scare away any fish for the nice couple.

The rest of our trip home was pretty uneventful. Just lots of driving. Lots and lots of driving. We broke up the driving with one more stay at a hotel so that we only had about 3 hours on our last leg home. Part of me really wanted to just keep driving and not stop, and if it was just Brian and I, that’s probably what we would have done. I’m glad we stopped and rested. The kids definitely appreciated it and it made life a lot easier when we did get home and transitioned back into our normal routine. I needed that rest just to unload everything out of the car and catch up the laundry!

I’m so glad we survived (and enjoyed) our first vacation as a family of four. Colorado was so beautiful and had so much to offer. I can’t wait to go back again!

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip Through Colorado (pt. 1)

When you farm, taking vacations can be a little tricky. There is a small window to work with after wheat harvest and we do our best to take advantage of it. Brian’s family had a family reunion in Colorado Springs planned on a weekend in July and we decided to plan our little family vacation around it.

We headed to Colorado Springs on a Thursday. It’s about a six hour drive for us and we took our time getting there. We stopped whenever we felt like it and even took a long break to have dinner in Pueblo with a former colleague of Brian’s. We arrived at our hotel right a little after the kids usual bedtime…and you could tell they were done and ready for bed.

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Our road trip snack of choice was this yellow watermelon we picked up at  a farmer’s market.

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After getting to the hotel and turning the bathroom into a bottle washing station, I was so very ready for a ‘mom drink’.

Friday morning we woke up early for breakfast and to meet up with Brian’s family before heading to the North Pole  with everyone. I had never been before, but when I realized it was a retro Christmas theme park tucked away in the mountains, I was 100% on board! We thought Hollis, who is 2, would love all of the kitchy little kid rides, but she rode a whopping 1 and 1/2 (she skipped out early on one) rides. She loved driving the cars and hanging out with her cousins. Next time we go, I have no doubt she will love the rides and seeing Santa.

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After about four hours there, our kiddos were starting to meltdown and were ready for naptime. So Brian and I decided to drive through Garden of the Gods while they got a good nap in the car. We were a little bummed we couldn’t get out and explore because they were sleeping, but it started raining anyway so it worked out really well to just drive through it. When we reached the end, we snagged a great parking spot and were able to take turns getting out and taking pics. The next time we go I really want to get out and do some of the trails.

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We finished the day at the arcade and having dinner outdoors with the whole family. Saturday morning we woke up and headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. We thought by getting there early, we could beat some of the crowd. Apparently everyone else there thought the same thing. Even with the crowds, we were able to see everything we wanted to. The giraffes were by far our favorite exhibit. You can get right up to them and feed them and pet them. Giraffes are Hollis’ favorite animal so she was especially excited to get up close and see them.

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Zoo ‘tude.

 

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She was a little surprised at just how close the giraffes would get.

 

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After the zoo we were wiped out and headed back to the hotel to rest up before we met up with Brian’s family for BBQ and Bunco. I was a Bunco newbie, but I have to say I loved it and got really into it. I could have played it all night if I didn’t have little babes to put to bed. This was our last night with family and everyone woke up early and parted ways the next morning. Instead of heading home, we headed toward Black Canyon Nation Park…..but I will finish that up on another post!

 

 

 

Road Trippin'(with a toddler)

We are embarking on a road trip in a few weeks and I am so excited! Brian and I LOVE road trips. When we were dating, he traveled a lot for work and I would tag along with him on trips whenever possible. You really get to know a person when you are trapped in a car with them for hours on end. 🙂 We love driving so much we even road tripped on our honeymoon!

I love the flexibility of driving to our destination as opposed to flying. We can stop whenever we want to, or explore a different route, and take lots of pictures. I find it much more relaxing. Traveling with kids, however, has kind of changed everything. We have lost a little of the spontaneity from our trips. We have to schedule a few more stops and pack a lot more stuff, but I want our kids to love road trips as much as we do.

Hollis, who is 2 1/2, is quite familiar with long car rides. Since we moved out here to the farm, I try to visit my family back home in Kansas City about once a month (some months they visit us). The drive there is about 4 hours depending on traffic and how many times I have to stop. I have made the drive so often, that I have it down to a science. I can usually do it these days without any stops and our drive gets cut down to about 3 1/2 hours with traffic. Our road trip this summer is going to be about 8-10 hours of driving, so it will be a bit of an adjustment on our little ones. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making traveling easier with littles.

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  1. DVD Player. I know, I know, t.v. will rot your brain.  I don’t want my kids to rely on electronics to keep them entertained all the time, but sometimes it is a life saver. My toddler will watch a movie (or most of one) and then fall asleep. Sleeping kids on a road trip is like the holy grail. At the very least it usually allows me a quiet hour or two on our trip.
  2. Backseat Organizer. We were gifted one of these, and it has been really handy. Ours hangs on the back of the passenger seat and keeps things within reach of the me and Hollis. I can keep toys, books, snacks, drinks, dvds, wipes, diapers, etc. up off the floor and off the seats. It also keeps dirty feet off the back of my seats!
  3. Water Coloring Books. My daughter looooves these books. I think we have all the ones Melissa and Doug make. She loves that she can ‘paint’ and I love that there is no mess. The paint brush holds water inside and only shows up as ‘paint’ when applied to the pages of the book. When the pages dry, they erase and she can start all over again. I like these for the car bc they are a lot easier to maneuver than coloring books and crayons. She doesn’t need a hard surface to use it on and if she drops her paint brush, it’s no big deal because it’s just water.
  4. Wipes. Obviously these are a must. Messes happen, especially when toddlers are involved. I swear the harder I try to keep the car clean, the more messes we end up having.  I like to keep one of these universal wipes in the front seat in the console and one in the back where Hollis can reach them. I feel like I’m constantly reaching for these; to clean hands after stopping at a park, after using a rest stop bathroom (they never seem to have soap!), wiping sticky hands after a snack….the list goes on and on.
  5.  Cooler Tote. It does not matter how long of a drive we are going on, my child will ask for a snack. Sometimes we don’t even make it out of our driveway without her requesting something. Stopping for food can really add up on a trip as well as slow you down. I pack things like, apple juice, milk, water, string cheese, sandwiches, apple slices, and grapes to snack on. I like to keep some paper plates and utensils handy too so that we can stop at a park or wherever and eat. They are also really nice to have for when you get to the hotel or wherever you are staying.
  6. Treats. Snacks can make or break a road trip for me. I like to pack a lot of healthy options to keep us from stopping at every fast food joint we pass. BUT I also like to bring along a few treats that we don’t normally get to snack on. Sometimes sugar is totally necessary when you’re trying to stay awake to drive or stay awake to make sure your significant other stays awake to drive. It also makes a good bribe for when you do have to take the little ones in somewhere and need them to behave. I try to stick with things that are individually wrapped and that don’t melt too easily onto little toddler fingers.
  7. & 8. Magnetic Boards. This house board and this farm board are in my Amazon cart right now. I like to grab a couple of new toys for Hollis when we go on a long trip. I also like to hide a few toys she loves for a couple of weeks before our trip and then bring them along so they feel somewhat new to her. I let her help me pick out these magnet boards so she has something to look forward to playing with in the car. I like that the pieces are moveable, but stick to the board so everything stays together and we’re less likely to lose things in the seat.

My biggest tip to road tripping with little ones is be flexible. We like to look ahead on our route and take note of places really want to stop at, places we don’t mind missing if the kids are asleep, and also places that would be good to stop at if the kids need an extra break. It’s important for them to get out every couple of hours to stretch their legs and run off some energy. We like to stop at parks, but rest stops and deserted shopping malls (when it’s super hot or raining out) work too. Anywhere that we can play a game of tag or run around a bit are good. The best part of taking a road trip is that the journey there is just as much part of the vacation as the destination is. You can make it as fun as you want!