anatomy of a roadtrip with children

08 February 2014

Way back when I was little (probably around 8 .... so a zillion years ago ) one of my friend's moms would always say, "and we're off!! ... like a herd of turtles!!" whenever we would get in their van to go anywhere with her kids (plus a Grace) and in the naivety of my younger years I always thought that was funny but a little bit of a dramatic exagerration.

Now I know.

Oh, I know.

She was actually just being wildly optimistic because CHILDREN.
Adorable cherubic childrenz.

We drove to Wichita to see Simon's family yesterday. The trip is about ~7 hours long (we've stretched it to 8 .... no thanks to a baby Julia and a seriously ill-equipped Toys-R-Us bathroom in Columbia, Missouri ... and a legendary diaper but I'll spare you that fun memory) and I thought we could get on the road by 7am so that the we could still salvage the kids naps because our kids don't sleep in the car which is some insanely unjust punishment for something terrible I did in a past life ... I know it.

So .. I thought 7am was realistic.

I thought.

Grace: Sebastian, please don't walk in the snow when you go outside.
Sebastian: (solemnly nods) okay.

We still can't decide if he's just really willful or maybe just not our brightest Crayola.

But we eventually set sail ...

toddler bladders are small.
and pregnant bladders are smaller.

We got inside the fine dining establishment and Julia immediately put her pointer finger to her mouth and thoughtfully mused, "hmm I sink I'm hungwy."

And she got the DEE-NY. Meanest parents in the universe. Plus Super Mom packed two generous ziplocks of Cheez-Its .... the healthier alternative to Mickey Dzzz.

And after a rousing performance of silent but deadly death glares to the toddler set from the parental set along with some White Noise set to SUPER HIGH VOLUME on the sound machine app ....

So if you happened to be Kansas bound on the interstate yesterday and saw a whale of a preg doing the Tootsie Roll in the passenger seat of a white Odyssey ... I'm sorry. Parental wins that warrant serious victory dances come but once a year up in here. Up in here.

just adoring his dancing wife. And taking a break from singing. Darn.

(just kidding, Sime. you know I love when you furrow that brow and belt out your best vibrato)

and then finally the blessed LUNCH BREAK at 12:30pm.

"okay ... twenty minutes in and out TOPS .... " - Simon

... but I think he forgot to factor in
+ the diaper changing times (he draws the line at changing Bash's diaper in the booth ... )
+ the time it would take his wife to choke down a burger that he ordered WITH MAYONNAISE (the devil's actual food)
+ the fact that our kids inherited their mom's penchant for staring instead of being efficient with their time and eating BECAUSE unfortunately Theo spotted his first genuine rat tail on a human head of hair ...

so we had to take his salted carbs to go to munch in the car while he processed what he'd done saw.

and back in the saddle again. After only double our alotted eating time ...

And the kids magically watched multiple loops of Madeline much to Julia's delight until ...... she announced she "riddy riddy" had to go to the rastroom.

"can you hold it for a little tiny bit?"


And we were on a toll road with not a prospect in sight and Simon tried tossing back a giant Wendy's cup which I tossed right back with an unamused stare.

So .... he made it happen like the good dad that he is ....


And she came out smelling like an ash tray because I do not know where on the frontier we were but at least her jegs stayed dry.

And eventually ..... eventually ....

We made it to Wichita. Which is what Julia calls Grandma's house .... because the concept of entire towns is very confusing which is why our house and only our house encompasses all of St. Louis.

The kids are in heaven because Julia gets to sleep in the top of the "junk bed" (in America we call them bunk beds but ... to each their own) and is really anxious to meet Aunt Elizabeth's "friendboy Fwancis" for the first time tonight and Sebastian is smitten with these crazy things by the name of Legos and has gotten very good at joining forces with Mom to smuggle a gross amount of Grandma's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

And braveheart Theo is especially jolly as he had his first encounter with truly the most docile and elderly canine over at Great Grandpa's digs this morning ....


I don't have plans to blog the return trip because it will be a carbon copy of this but with a dirtier car and even uglier baditudes but you know I can't ever help a little live-gramming. Run and hide, my little loveboats, run and hide.


  1. That rat tail on pinterest....epic.
    -Elise Layton

  2. I just love all of this - esp the Wendy's cup. We're roadtrippin this weekend, too, so I can totally relate. Friendboy Francis is an old college friend of mine - small world!! Have fun!

  3. The rat tail (along with mullets) are alive and thriving here on da islands. Here in Hawaii we operate a few decades behind. Alohaaaaa.

  4. You're probably the bravest people I know. I think the farthest I've ever taken the kids is the KC Zoo, and we almost didn't make it. Here's to a smoooooth return trip!

  5. The rat tail comment and pictures! O. M. G! :)

  6. Oh what a trip!!!! Road tripping with kids should be used as a torture tactic. When we did Georgia to Alaska I made it to Seattle before I boycotted getting back in the car. I also looked up plane tickets and ways to ship our car. Haha! But I hope you guys have a great time with the familia :)

  7. Love this post. Enjoy your time with family

  8. You're so much braver than we are. And I might need the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies recipe...

  9. Love everything about this. Also, I have to pee all the times on road trips and I am neither prego nor a toddler. :)

  10. my kids are 9, 7, 5, and 5 months and every time we leave the house I still say or think, "It never ceases to amaze me how long this takes." Every single dang time.

  11. When the tears start rolling down my face from laughing so hard, you know that's a good post. :) Keep em' coming!

  12. I always say "We're off like a herd of turtles." Because I'm actually 53. No offense to 53 year olds.

    And roadtripping with kids... God bless us, every one.

  13. Ah they joy of potty breaks! Oh and diaper changing breaks. And then once again potty breaks. You are a trooper.

  14. I love Theo's rat tail reaction! And I think I'll be adding 'off like a herd of turtles' to my vocabulary.

  15. You are such an AMAZING writer (sooooo funny), and your computer skills are equally amazing (time stamped photos)! I totally get the road tripping with the kids. When our oldest (now 14) was 2 and potty training, we had stop TEN times in a TWO mile radius for her to go potty, and she.went.each.time. I thought my husband would shoot himself when she asked after about the 3rd time! Here is a tip though: bring a portable potty (and toilet paper). We just pulled over to the side of the road, she went, and we were rolling again. Good luck - this too shall pass!

  16. Theo + rat tail photos = the best. Have fun in Wichita!

  17. Oh gracious. This summer it looks like my merry troops and I will be hauling across the USofA as we move ourselves from a Navy base in SC out to Washington state. In the Outback with 2 large dogs and a 10 month old. The joy will know no bounds. Google says it's 48 hours. :/ I wonder if anyone has ever gone that long without sleep because I have NO desire to drag that loveliness out. Bless you, Simon, and your tiny souls. And thank you for making my Saturday oh so much funnier.

  18. Oh my goodness. I laughed out loud NUMEROUS times in this post. You're a gem, Grace. I adore how you present motherhood. :)

  19. This makes me seriously consider not potty training my little girl until after she's three, because we are flying to the US this summer from Scandiland, and a direct flight is 11,5 hours (to SF). How many times do you think a freshly trained toddler can use a restroom in 11,5 hours in an enclosed space with lines???

  20. Haha John was not amused by the smallness of the pregnant bladder during our 18 hour trip to PA over Christmas either. He recommends Depends...uh no. Have fun with the fam!

  21. This really made me laugh! Was that my mom or did someone else say it too :) I know I've started saying it when we roll out about two hours after our planned departure time. Also on the list of mom quotes I've found myself repeating "I'm not the dish fairy"

  22. Bahahahahaha! 12 hours later and I'm still laughing at Theo's Rat Tail kick. My husband seriously wants our boys to have one. They are always the first to go anytime I give haircuts :)

  23. FYI - Bash is not willful OR unintelligent. He's just a toddler boy. Seriously. Boys don't listen. Ever. Unless you get right their faces, speak the words. More than once. And make them repeat out loud. And even then it's only a 50/50 proposition, depending on how great the snow/mud/water/tree/bush/wall, etc. looks to them at the moment. My in-laws live 3 1/2 hours away and the first time the kids were old enough to make it ALLLLLL the way without stopping, I thought I might cry.

  24. 7 hours, oh my. I say that thundering herd of turtles every time we leave for a more than 1 hour drive anywhere. Except that my husband spoonerizes everything so that thundering herd becomes the thundering turd. Which sounds about right 45 minutes down the road. We are pros at cramming that three hour drive to my in-laws into five hours courtesy of the nursing baby, preschooler with the teaspoon-sized bladder and potty-training toddler. My husband wants to make a 15 hour drive to visit his sister this summer. I did him the favor of laughing hysterically before I said no.

  25. Great post! Wow snow! I live in Louisiana so that never happens! Too funny! Working on potty training our 2 and a half year old and its not going well. Was hoping to have her trained by the time our baby boy was born and thats in two months. Any advice would be appreciated :)

  26. Haha! Poor Theo and the rat tail incident. That's a confusing sight to be seen.

    Shame on me for thinking all kids went out like a light when traveling in a car! My parents used to drive me around the neighborhood at night to get me to fall asleep.... Guess I'll be in for a treat whenever we have kids!

  27. Okay, this post was incredible in and of itself, but FOR SURE the best part was Theo's reaction to the rat tail. I just laughed out loud in my office (that I share with three other people...awkward). Grace, I've been following your blog for a while now, and I am just smitten. Keep it up!!!

  28. As a Wichita native currently residing in Columbia, MO. First of all, sorry about the Toys R Us. Secondly, the next time I'm lamenting the long, boring solo drive home to visit my fam, I'll remember this and be thankful. :-)

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  30. Haha. I love this. Traveling with kids is seriously no joke!

  31. Travelling with kids is such a military operation! I love all the grumpy selfies though.. even if your kids didn't haha!

  32. haha loved this. i have three small children...i understand this whole post lol.

  33. Ugh I feel you on the blessed road trips, we're military so the never ending road trip loop begins in December and ends in November, only to begin again. Yee Haw.



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