Not bad for a Days Inn, though you may want to skip the free breakfast.
Top Five Road Trip Essentials
1. Entertainment – We could not have driven across the country without music, podcasts, coloring books, and Kindles. I would have gone absolutely bonkers. We have an amazing car charger that can charge four electronics. It’s kind of the best thing ever. We were always quick the Kindles once the kids started to fidget. It bought us many extra hours on the road. Never discount the power of distraction.
Food– As the head car chef, I can tell you that snacks are crucial. Being hangry in a car with eight other people is no bueno. While we did a lot of snacks type food, we also made sandwiches and ate tons of fruits and carrot sticks. Just be sure to have a place for garbage.
For Christmas, the girls received a Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore. It was a magical way to learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly.
We weren’t quite sure how this would turn out. There are two types of Butterfly Gardens offered by Insect Lore, one contains live caterpillars, while the other contains a voucher to redeem for live caterpillars. We received the livings ones. If you have been following along, we were leaving Chrismas night for the better part of two weeks. Much to our delight, the caterpillars seemed to thrive in their cups and had plenty of food to sustain them while we were gone. After careful inspection of the instructions, when we returned, we would have to immediately remove the lids from the cups, with chrysalis intact, and place them in their position to emerge. So that’s what we did.
The girls spoke of their butterflies throughout the trip, wondering which stage they were. They were anxious to get home. Since they were missing key points of metamorphosis, we promised we would get another cup of caterpillars in the spring. This seemed to ease their minds a bit.
Once we returned home, we were pleased to find that we had six chrysalides dangling from the lids. We followed the instructions and prayed they would open.
Five days later, we saw our first little friend!
I can’t fully describe the excitement and enchantment that was in our home for the next several days. The girls sat on the top bunk for hours watching their butterflies flutter about their habitat.
Release day was met with mixed emotions. They couldn’t wait to watch their beloved pets fly about outside, but they were also saddened by the thought of not watching them every day.
We waited for unseasonably warm weather for the release. It was absolute magic.
The girls giggled with delight as their butterflies danced around them, warming up their wings.
They were able to observe the eyes and proboscis up close.
What this Butterfly Garden was able to convey through observation and experience was more than I could ever teach with printables and lessons. We are already planning our next cup of caterpillars! The great thing about the kit is the reusable habitat. We already have everything we need for our friends in the spring!
Our first big road trip as a family! Our itinerary is ambitious! Here are our planned stops:
- St. Louis, MO
- City Museum
- Lumiere Sculpture Park
- Hays, KS
- Estes, CO
- Day trip to Boulder
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Dinosaur National Monument and Split Mountain
- Moab, UT
- Dead Horse Park
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Yellowstone National Park
- Mt. Rushmore National Monument
- Badlands National Park, SD
- Maybe a stop on the way home.
- Buying a small enclosed trailer for towing our gear. Since the van will be packed full of us, we need to add the additional storage space with a trailer. In my mind, we will tow a 4’X6′ enclosed trailer. This will be plenty of space for our tents, clothes, food, camping supplies and maybe even bikes. The challenge is finding a trailer that is affordable and also practicing towing the trailer behind the van. (anyone looking to sell a used trailer?)
- Meal planning for kids with allergies. We need to figure out a way to make vegan granola bars and trail mix. What can be cooked at a campsite that we won’t get burned out on after being in a tent for over a week? How many hot dogs are just to many hot dogs?
- Water! We need to make sure we bring enough water with us and have the capability of finding and filtering water if needed.
- Kids safety is a major concern. There are the medical issues. Noah’s epilepsy and SEVERE food allergies always seem to be lurking. Eli and Kam constantly deal with Elhers Danlos stuff. But there are other safety concerns also. Philip will be learning to walk while we are journeying through canyons and mountain ranges. Naomi has no fear and loves to climb. Both of them will likely spend a significant amount of time riding in backpacks or slings.
- Lots of supplies. Sunscreen, bug spray, compass, warm weather clothes, cold weather clothes, lots of socks
Today, Eli went foraging in the woods with his book club and it’s a super big deal. Eli has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and has a lot of food allergies. We don’t do potluck dinners or attend a lot of birthday parties, and we certainly do not go foraging in the woods. But we are reading My Side of the Mountain, and we are stepping outside of our comfort zone.
I use “we” because as a mom, the thought of accidental exposure terrifies me. The thought of him having a flare keeps me up at night. So today, we went foraging and it was great. He ate foods that were safe and he is ok. We’re ok. This book club has stretched us in a good way. We have grown as mother and son. I am so proud of him. Sam was brave. Eli was brave. So I must be brave.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way…WE WENT FORAGING!!
We collected garlic mustard. It is an invasive species that is out of control in our local parks. We started by identifying the plant’s leaves which have “teeth like” edges. Once we found them, we pulled them out by the root to prevent them from coming back. It is important to gather them in the spring because it prevents them from flowering, and they tend to taste better.
Once we gathered enough garlic mustard, we headed back to the nature center where we separated the plants from the roots and washed them. We found some chives growing nearby, so we grabbed those as well. Then we were ready to make our pesto.
Here’s our recipe. We omitted Parmesan cheese and substituted the traditional pine nuts with sesame seeds. I can’t wait to make this again!
Garlic Mustard Pesto
- 1 cup garlic mustard (rinsed well)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 T chives
- 2 T sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
The outdoors has a way of healing, sparking curiosity and inspiring change.
He listened intently to the instructions given by the group facilitator. He made a nest out of jute by unraveling the rope and forming it. This would make good tinder and is also biodegradable. He then put on protective eye gear (safety first!). After finding a good piece of flint and learning how to hold the steel properly, he began practicing his strikes. It took him several times to work up a spark. I wish I could have captured his face the first time he saw the flash from his flint.
After a few minutes, he added some char cloth to the flint and steel combo. The red embers glowed on the char cloth once he connected the flint and steel. He added it to the jute tinder he made earlier. Very carefully, he blew on the makeshift nest, until it caught fire.