On the Road Again

The time has come for our annual pilgrimage up to Green Bay for a Packers game. Yes, we are hard core Packers fans. Haters gonna hate 😉

This will be the 5th time for us to make this trip. While we’ve never made this drive without kids in tow, every year it’s like the first time. And it’s the second year with all 3. You’d think it gets easier the older they get, but it doesn’t. Every year, without fail, the days leading up to D-Day are filled with stress, planning, worry, stocking up on car seat activities, backseat media entertainment options, cleaning the van, packing all the snacks, etc.

Before I get the cart before the horse, let me clarify that we do not take the kids with us to the football game. A) we aren’t made of money and B) that sounds like pure torture that we want no part of. So, here’s how it usually goes….

  1. Drive the 9-10 hours up to Bloomington, IL where my mom & stepdad live.
  2. Stay 2 nights
  3. Leave the kids with my parents and then just the husband and I make the 4.5 hour drive up to Green Bay.
  4. Stay 3 nights (football game on Sunday)
  5. Drive back to Bloomington
  6. Stay 1 night
  7. Load all the kiddos and make the 9-10 hour drive back home to Oklahoma.

As you can see, this is not only a getaway for the whole family but it also gives the husband and I a few days away as well while my parents get the one-on-one grandkid time they always pine for. It helps that my husband has a Green Bay office so he spends some time with his team while he’s there….purely coincidental that the Packers are a stone’s throw away. All in all, we’re killing like 14 birds with 1 stone on this trip.

This year, the kids are 16 months, 2.5 and 4 for this trip. The drive to my parents, on paper, really shouldn’t take more than 8 hours. But, with kids, everything takes so much longer. Potty/diaper changing breaks, breaks to stretch legs and burn a little energy, breaks just to have breaks, breaks from the breaks, and the list goes on.

Remember pre-kids when a “break” on a road trip was like a quick 5 minute stop for gas,  grabbing some skittles and you were back on the road? *insert all the laughter* NOPE! Not anymore. Every break is a minimum 20 minutes. If one kid gets out of the car, they all have to get out of the car.

Although, there is one MAJOR perk to this year’s trip. The is the first time on this drive in 3 years that I’m not nursing a baby. Hallelujah! This will make things a bit easier in some aspects. But, as with everything in parenting, overcoming one challenge only reveals a new set of challenges right behind it.

So, here are my tips for road trips with little kids.

  1. Pack snacks. And when you think you’ve packed enough snacks, pack more snacks. Pretty self-explanatory I guess. But, on road trip days I pay no attention to how many snacks my kids consume. It occupies them and keeps them content longer. Something we are going to try this year is going a step further and packing a full family lunch. In the past we always just stopped for lunch somewhere but it was always difficult finding a place that allowed for the kids to have some place to play and burn some energy…we were usually limited to McDonald’s with play places…not easy to find much anymore. So, I think we’re just going to pack a big picnic lunch and find a quality rest stop on the highway.
  2. Manage the liquid intake. If your kids are anything like mine, they chug water. I give my kids a full water bottle, it’s empty in less than 3 minutes, diapers busting at the seams 45 minutes later, a tight car seat strap between the legs and, well, you know where that’s headed. So, water management begins at breakfast before we even hit the road. Fresh diapers and potty breaks right before we get in the car and never more than a 1/2 full water bottle at any given time on the trip. If they empty it, they don’t get more until the next time we stop.
  3. Embrace the backseat DVD player. I generally TRY to keep my kids’ screen time under control. *note* I’m not perfect at this….my kids most certainly do watch some TV every day. But, just like snacking, I really don’t care how much screen time they have on road trips. A movie easily passes 1.5 hours of time and that is 90 minutes of complete peace for our crew. And we are STOCKED on DVDs for the car. We have an assortment of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes on DVD and a few of the kids favorite movies cue’d up. They can watch them all twice for all I care. For real.
  4. Maybe they sleep. Maybe they don’t. Just let it go. The first few times we made this drive (with 1 and 2 kids) I stressed so much about whether or not they slept enough on the drive. Some kids sleep so well in the car. Mine don’t. They sleep GREAT at home. But, in the car, they sleep in 30 minute increments maybe once or twice (depending on age) and that’s probably it. Rory, my oldest, didn’t sleep a wink the entire drive last year. So I’ve just come to accept the fact that it is what it is. Stressing about it doesn’t change it. Just…let it go. Sure, any 1 or all 3 of my kids may be on the brink of an epic meltdown in the last hour of the drive because they are so tired. But, that also equals a quick and easy bedtime for them as soon as we get there and then a night of solitude for my husband and I to decompress!!
  5. An indulgence for mom & dad goes a long way!!! For me, it’s everything sugar. Soda, cookies, candy, you name it. My husband will almost always go for the salt. Chips, sunflower seeds, crackers and so on. The kids get to snack constantly. So do we, gosh darn it. So. Do. We.

Here’s to another great trip. Please send me all the good travel vibes! We will need them.

Until next time, mommas!

~ Erica

Embracing Imperfections

You know what really sucks about coming home from a vacation? Catching up on….well, everything!

Unpacking turns into 27 loads of laundry. Groceries are either non-existent or everything has expired. All that work that I said could wait until I got back now haunts my every waking moment.

All of my imperfections are slapping me in the face as I try to keep this household, this family and this business afloat.

Just breathe. Prioritize.

Side Note: Yesterday afternoon I realized that I hadn’t showered since Saturday. SATURDAY, people!!!  Immediate priority #1: personal hygiene. Sometimes us busy moms need to be reminded of this basic need.

It definitely takes good prioritization when you’re a working mom. But, I feel like a Stay-At-Home-Mompreneur requires prioritization to the maximum amount. And, despite my momentary lapse, I’ve always felt like I’ve done a pretty good job of prioritizing my life…at least when it comes to the big things.

The big picture of priorities in my life looks like this:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Son
  4. Work

Now, within each of those pieces falls about a million tiny little tasks to accomplish on a daily basis. But, I’ve found that when I keep the big picture in focus, all the tiny pieces fall into place much easier.

The true struggle for Entrepreneurs is that we deal with the blessed curse of allowing our work to define us. It’s so easy for us to find our value and self-worth wrapped up in our businesses. Unfortunately, when this happens, everything suffers. Our familial and romantic relationships become secondary and, over time, can dwindle down to non-existent. Our health suffers due to lack of sleep and high amounts of stress. The list goes on. But what I realized a few years ago that was a game-changer for me is this:

Erica Weddings is what I do. Not who I am.

Who I am is an imperfect child of a perfect Savior, a wife and a mother. Just saying it is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do and I’m blessed beyond measure to be able to do it. But if I let it take precedence over my God, my husband and my son, then I become tired, burnt out and resentful. I know this because, unfortunately, I’ve been there and I hope to never be there again.

So what does this prioritization tangibly look like day in and day out? For me, it’s waking up with my son around 7am and enjoying some time with him. The Husband may watch him for a bit before he goes to work and I’ll get a few things done around the house, reply to a few emails, etc. Once The Husband is gone then it’s Little Man and I against the world! When he is awake, I’m with him – soaking up every minute. When he naps, my butt kicks into high gear (showers, work, dishes, laundry, eating, cooking, etc.). And when The Husband gets home, work is done!!! He helps get us through our bedtime routine and Little Man goes down for bed around 7pm. Then The Husband and I have the whole evening to ourselves! We are usually just lazy couch bums but we like it that way!

You may look at everything I laid out above and see my priority list and wonder, “Where is God in all this?” I wonder that myself sometimes but I guess the answer is: God is IN everything I do, all day long! I squeeze in my quiet time whenever I can during the day and I’m singing praise & worship music pretty much all day every day. That’s one of the extraordinary things about Him: keeping Him #1 is so simple. All it takes is a genuine love and appreciation for who He is and what He’s done and you’re golden…you can’t help but meditate on His greatness.

No single day is perfect. Some days the laundry doesn’t get done. Some days my email inbox has one too many emails left unanswered at the end of the day. Some days (or 4 days in a row!!!) I forget to shower. Some days I get stuck on a phone call with a client and my son is stuck playing alone on the floor with his pacifier to keep him quiet.

Bottom line: I’m not perfect. But none of us are. So, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Thank God that His Son was perfect for us so we don’t have to be!

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Houston…We Have Milk

I suppose the title should say Tulsa instead of Houston. I don’t live in Houston. I didn’t travel home through Houston. I’m getting off-track here…

I’ve returned home from our glorious 5-day vacation in Riviera Maya, Cancun with my breast milk 🙂

While I do believe the resort lost about 20 oz. of my milk, I’m not up in arms about it. I still came home with about 90 oz. of milk that is now stashed in my freezer and I’m confident my breastfeeding journey can continue for a few months to come because of it. For that, I am grateful.

It was a lot of work keeping up with pumping while enjoying an all-inclusive resort vacation. I mean, who wants to leave the beach to go pump in their hotel room? I didn’t want to, but I did.

Major props go to our personal concierge for being so nice about storing all of my pumped milk in the restaurant fridge for me. The mini-bar fridge, obviously, was not big enough so he came running whenever I called him so he could take it to the restaurant kitchen. God bless that sweet young man!!!!

Traveling home with 90 oz. of breast milk in tow was nerve-wracking to say the least. When I got all of my milk back from the restaurant as we were packing to leave I noticed they had stored it in the freezer instead of the fridge. So now I was faced with the task of keeping it frozen in transport. And, of course, the missing 20 oz.-ish was a little frustrating but, again, not the end of the world.

As I approached the security checkpoint in the Cancun Airport, my stomach was in knots. It was at least 100 times leading up to that spot that I read/heard (signs, intercom announcements, baggage check-in personnel, etc.) to discard of all liquids over the 3.4 oz. limit. While putting my belongings on the conveyor belt to be scanned I motioned for the security guard to come to me. As I read in the TSA instructions to do, I alerted him that the bag I was holding was full of pumped breast milk for my baby. Of course, he barely spoke English so we had a little difficulty back and forth before he understood. I think my hand gestures signifying “baby” (cradling arms) and “breast milk” (grabbing my boobs) really helped out here. Although, they may have looked a bit bizarre to any on-lookers.

I walked through the scanner and awaited the security team’s next move. The same guard came back to me and asked me where my baby was – another thing I had heard was a common question from security in traveling with pumped milk. I told him politely that my baby was home with grandma and grandpa.

My milk made it through the scanner and a different security guard brought the bag back to me and said he was going to have to look inside. Fine. I expected this. He dug around a bit – destroying my beautifully organized placement of milk to ice pack ratio but now wasn’t the time to throw a fit about that. LOL. He then called over the security supervisor. They spoke to each other back and forth in Spanish for a bit. I didn’t recognize a word of what they were saying except “leche”. But the supervisor gave me the go-ahead and I was on my way. WHEW!!! I’ve never been so relieved in my life!!!

I’m really thankful for this experience because it has given me full confidence in my option to travel in the years to come when I have a nursing baby at home. Something that I had previously thought would be impossible – or, at the very least, not worth the hassle.

On a related note, I’m so happy to be home with my little man! My heart ached for him while we were gone. Especially the last 2 days of our trip. I am at peace today. We’ve nursed. We’ve played. We’ve ran errands together. And he’s been all smiles the whole time.

Little Man
Little Man

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Mothering, Entrepreneuring and Vacationing. Oh My!

This week, the Husband (Russ) and I are preparing for our first real vacation since our son (Rory) arrived. Really it’s a business trip for Russ but he gets to bring a guest and it’s all expenses paid to an all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya Cancun so we’ll take it!!

But it’s requiring a lot of plan-ahead and organization on my part for 2 VERY BIG reasons:

1. Erica Weddings has TWO weddings this weekend, while I’m away.

2. I’m a nursing Momma. Need I say more? But I will…

The weddings taking place while I’m gone are not of huge concern to me. I have an amazing staff who I trust to get the job done and represent my brand well in my absence. But the breast milk issue. Has there ever been a subject matter more stressful to a working mom than the issue of breast milk? Keeping supply up, pumping milk, storing milk, keeping milk fresh in travel, getting milk through security (specifically in another country), etc.

I’ve done my research. I know the TSA guidelines. I’ve spoken to other mommas who have done this exact same thing and the vast majority of these women have nothing but positive experiences to share. But, if I’m being honest, I have this awful, dreadful nightmare on replay in my head that I’ll be watching over 100+ oz of my pumped milk being thrown in the trash as I try to get through security at the Mexican airport on my way home. Just the thought of this possibility makes me well up.

Why so emotional for me? Well the breastfeeding moms certainly understand…no explanation required. For everyone else, here’s some background. I’ve breastfed Rory from day one. He’s never had any formula (no judgment to the formula mommas!!). I built up a great freezer stash in the early months of his life which I’m so thankful for now as it’s gotten me through some dry spells AND it’s enabling us to take this baby-free trip. BUT, taking this trip will be wiping away my freezer stash completely. There’s no way I can breastfeed up to the 1 year mark as planned without coming home with a fresh stash of pumped milk to put in my freezer. Enter these 100+ oz I will be pumping while I’m in Mexico. THIS milk is critical to my sons nutrition – I need it to supplement in the coming months as my supply goes through it’s peaks and valleys. I know having to supplement with formula will not be the end of the world. It’s just not my Plan A.

Maybe everything will be fine and I’ll breeze through security on my return trip home. But, until it actually happens, I’m going to worry about it.

I’m fully prepared with my breast pump, pump supply cleaning materials, insulated carry-on bag, breast milk storage bags, travel gel-cool packs, print out copy of the TSA guidelines regarding this matter and a copy of Rory’s birth certificate (in case I need to prove I actually have a baby). But if any of you Mommas have any experience with this that you can share I welcome it!! Every positive story relieves my stress a little bit.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma