Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

how to travel with kids without the stress

So later this week we are headed out of town for a little late birthday, mid-winter, vacation. Usually at this point in the travel prep, I'm searching the internet trying to find great ways to entertain my young children on the plane. I'm heading to the store to buy toys and candy and other patented parenting bribery. Just last spring we went on a long flight to NYC from Montana. I was mildly terrified of flying for +6 hours with two kids under the age of 4. Thankfully, even despite the fact that our flight was majorly delayed, we were able to have a pretty stress free travel day.

So how did we do that? Even when we sat on the tarmac for hours with a plane full of cranky adults and seats in coach? Let me tell you that first of all, there wasn't any magic gadgets or treats involved. The key was my husband and I both spent time playing and focusing on our kids. I do think my children are relatively easy going, so that is definitely a BIG help. But most kids can be easily entertained with playing with the SkyMall magazine for at least an hour or more if you go through it with them and play with them. As long we kept calm and interested in what they wanted to do, everyone was happy. If the parents are cool and calm and not stressed, the kids will be follow that. Having toys and books with you is always a good idea, but don't be surprised if you don't need half of them if you do it right.

Take my advice for what it's worth (unsolicited and free) but you don't need to spend time individually wrapping toys for each hour of your flight. You don't need to pay money for iPad games that they'll only play once. Just be prepared to spend 95% of your time (if they are awake) playing with your kids. They love you, they want to play with you, and they might really enjoy the flight more that way.

Also, I usually get air sickness, to some degree or another. I noticed once I was fully engaged on what my kids were doing, I didn't have enough time to stress or worry about the plane falling out of the sky. I was too busy figuring out to make paper airplanes out of SkyMall pages. Win-win.

the Christmas that was

Hi! How are ya? It's been a while!!!

Happy New Year, by the way! 

But before we get to all of that, I thought I'd share a few photos from our wintery holiday vacation in Idaho with my family. It was freezing cold (actually below freezing), but very warm and cozy inside my parent's house with most of my siblings and their kids all staying under the same roof.  

It's a rather crazy tradition, really. At some point, our whole family (my parents, their six children, their significant others, and their children) can't all fit in one house anymore for the holidays. Finally this year, some of us had to stay at a hotel just to make sure everyone had a bed and a little bit of their own space. Also, somehow my parents have internet that is worse than dial-up speed, so keeping everyone entertained for days at a time is no small feat. There were definitely many crafts going on, programming questions being solved (that's my husband in his element), baking, sledding, skiing, gingerbread house making, shopping, and a fair amount of healthy discussions about politics. 

My girls had an absolute blast hanging out with their cousins. They also suited up once a day to go outside into the sub-zero temperatures and snow storms to visit the animals with my Mom. Chloe had lots of fun snuggling up to Lucky (the horse). Who, I believe, was just happy to have a warm body petting him.

We got lots of resting in and didn't think about work or working on a house for at least 7 days. That was worth all the bathroom sharing and the long drive through Wyoming.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!!

a short list of the best of Billings, Montana

Now that we've officially moved out of Big Sky Country (aka, Montana), I've been reminiscing about our favorite spots/hangouts/eateries. I wanted to compile a little list today on the blog for you, in case you ever find yourself in the Magic City.

Billings, Montana is actually a great place to start your travels in Montana. It's the largest city in Montana and is a short drive away from some major attractions (some examples here, here, and here). Yellowstone National Park is only a 3-hour drive away through some really amazingly, beautiful country. Billings was also voted by Outdoor Magazine as one of the best places to live in the U.S. for 2016.

So we only got to live there for two short years, we did do a lot of living while we were there. I've also asked a few of my friends who live there currently and have just moved away to rank their favorite spots also.

best place to eat >  The Fieldhouse (great food and great ambiance)

best coffee shop > The Annex (try the rosemary, lavender cappuccino), followed closely by Rock Creek

best burger > Burger Dive (they are award winning too!)

best lunch > Harper and Madison (I always called it Ashley Madison, haha, oops)

best cocktails > Walkers (great live jazz on Sunday nights)

best brewery > Angry Hanks (try the Anger Management)

best breakfast > Stella's (the cinnamon rolls are amazing)

best Italian > Cio Mambos

best steak > Rib and Chop House

best antiques > Oxford Antiques (super friendly owners)

best ice cream > Softies (open seasonally since 1972)

best park > Pioneer Park (with the best playground, of course)

best gym > downtown YMCA (my hubby and I love the lunchtime bootcamp class)

Okay, so in no way is this a complete list of absolutely everything that is awesome about Billings. However, if you are looking for a great place to eat and grab a coffee, this list has some really great options.

I will probably be following up with a list of things to do and see while in Billings, that one will be coming sometime later.

in between the rain clouds

Gosh, isn't that girl up there the cutest?!

And in other news, we're moving this week! More on that later.

But before we left we spent a little more time in Roscoe with the family. Chloe got to ride a 4-wheeler and drive a 4-wheeler! She was over the moon happy and her dad was having giggling fits while he held onto the back of the 4-wheeler. It was pretty cute to watch.

Elinor and I did a little riding too, but she was past the point of happiness since she was trying to skip her afternoon nap. We quickly retreated indoors to snuggle with granny and let the professionals drive around the fields and hills.

Overall it was a nice weekend before the hustle of packing and driving begins.

an afternoon at Tippet Rise

Just as we're about to pack up our stuff and leave the state of Montana, we get a chance to go to a world class art exhibition, basically right in our backyard. Or two hours away, if you really want to get picky about it. 

On Sunday we met up with Chris's family and took a two-hour, guided tour of the property and exhibits. Tippet Rise is an art center / working ranch / musical venue / non-profit philanthropic gift to the world. Life-long philanthropists and artists Cathy and Peter Halstead created this ranch by buying a few smaller ranches near Fishtail, Montana and creating one massive, 11,000-acre ranch full of rolling hills and views of the Beartooth Mountains.

I had read about Tippet Rise in the local newspaper early in the summer and had been dying to find a weekend where we could spend the day out there. It just so happened that we finally got to visit the very last weekend it was open to the public for the summer. And let me tell you, the weather was frigidly cold and blustery, so it was just about perfect timing.

What impressed me the most was that this billionaire couple had really honored the landscape and the feel of the ranch. They've hired locals to run the ranch and tours which provide a good job for a small rural town. If I had billions of dollars, I hope I would do something this amazing. The entrance fee is $0 and when they have live concerts, they only charge $10 per ticket. It's basically a free art museum set in an amazingly beautiful corner of Montana.

We took a few pictures along the way. There are even more amazing photos on their website, Tippet Rise.

beethoven's quartet

This piece is called Beethoven's Quartet by Mark di Suvero.  It used to reside in New York City before they transported it here. The piece in the middle was meant to sway and move in the wind, so it fit the windy hilltop here much better than in the middle of New York. Below it was two mallets that you could use to ring the mobile steel structure and create a resonating tone.

inverted portal

Ensamble Studio created three pieces for Tippet Rise, they have an amazing video where they showed how they created these concrete behemoths and placed them.

beartooth portal




This house reminded me so much of the Netflix show, Stranger Things. It was creepy and wonderful all at the same time. They built a brand new schoolhouse and then aged it so that it looked turn of the century. The artist is Patrick Dougherty and his work is quite amazing. He takes willows and tree saplings and molds them into fantastic shapes. His website has even more awesome creations.

I would highly recommend making your way to Fishtail, MT and checking out Tippet Rise.

Insider tip: I would recommend going in June or July. Late September is very cold up there!