GONE... and back again.

Perhaps they can sense my uncertainty. Kids are like dogs that way. You cannot let them see your eyes when they are darting all over the place. Which is what happened the moment we boarded the plane for home. We had fallen into a pattern of waking up in a new town -- a band on the road singing Let it Go and Wheels on the Bus and What's Up by 4 Non Blondes. Boarding the plane back home was like waking up from a dream that we weren't finished having.


New York was incredibly fun but it was also incredibly stressful and overwhelming and, to be honest, too much for a family of six. At least my family of six. We had a lovely time but we also had several nervous breakdowns.

A lot of it was the culture chock of switching to the big city from ten days in rural small towns and villages. Going from small town fishing village to the MET in a two day span was an insane thing to do, I realize now, but hey! You win some, you lose some, right?

Anyway. Picture me rambling, right? I have so many things I want to share about our trip, but first I want to drop some tips on road-tripping with a large family. Things we spent the last two weeks learning, for better and for worse.

And so. On this week's Mom.me... 

1. Any accommodation that includes the word "suites" is your new best friend.

Okay so maybe this is common knowledge for large families (and small families) but when the word SUITE appears in the name of a Hotel/Motel/Holiday Inn, it means SLEEPS SIX COMFORTABLY as in two full beds + a couch that folds out. (Ex: Embassy Suites + Comfort Suites are our jam, we now know.)

We didn't know this until this past week when we put two and two together that OH THIS IS WHY THEY ARE CALLED SUITES! Game-changer for a family of six, for sure. (Every other night we slept three to a full-sized bed, which was.... cozy.)
2. Backpacks are the new Purses

I brought a purse with me that I used zero times on this trip. Instead, I carried large backpacks full of changes of clothes, snacks, 7897987 water bottles, crayons and paper, figurines/dolls/toys to play with while waiting for food, sunscreen, a first-aid-kit, bug repellant, etc etc infinity.

If you're in the market for a backpack, I have become a bit of a backpack collector this past year. Here are a few of my favorite backpack brands:

1. Krochet Kids: The Brooklyn (I have this backpack in black and white and wear it almost every day and get 7897987 compliments on it.)

2. Herschel: Archer wears this backpack (which I routinely steal) and Bo and Revi wear the kids' size backpacks

3. Sprayground: Hal and I both carry Sprayground backpacks as our laptop bags. I have this one and Hal has this one. (Both out of stock. They are THE BEST laptop bags and have 78789 padded pockets. If you're in Los Angeles, they sell the best prints at Sportie LA, which is where I bought our packs.) 

4. Brixton MFG Co - I recently picked up the biggest baddest backpack EVER on super summerblowout ssale for $20 at Univ in Encinitas. I don't know why it has two stars on Amazon because IT IS PERFECT. I wore it daily on our trip, filled it to the brim with stuff and never had a backache. Sure, it's huge, but when you're traveling with four kids YOU NEED HUGE. 
3. If you're going to drive more than 4 hours at a time, make sure runaroundaparkincirclesfortwohours is part of your itinerary.

We drove almost 1500 miles during our two week trip and many of miles were driven on long stretches. Two of our days included 5-6 hour drives. Toyota hooked us up with a Sienna for the trip and that Sienna played DVDs so we brought a few DVDs for the long drives. (I am usually very anti screens in cars but this was HUGELY helpful for the long stretches of driving... and so I am no longer very anti-screens in cars. Not on road trips, anyway.) With four small bladders in the car, we did a LOT of gas station bathroom stops and a handful of park pit-stops. Cooping four kids up in a car all day is cruel and unusual punishment for kids AND parents so be sure to plan for LOTS of pit stops for pee and play.
IMG_8762 IMG_7792 the hills are alive!
4. Do not pack anything you are not willing to lose.
We had several casualties on this trip, including my beloved face wash, 78978 hair barrettes, a pair of shoes and Archer's (brand new) hat. This is pretty good considering how many of us there are and how many places we went. (We actually did SIX states in two weeks. And stayed in NINE different motels/houses/B&Bs along the way. That is A LOT of losing-and-leaving-things potential. (We all lost our minds a little, too. And that's okay.)...
IMG_8753 You can read the rest of my post, here
ED: For the next two weeks, I'll be sharing notes from our various adventures, beginning with NYC and working backwards up the coast to Maine... I'm going to try to cover all bases including where we stayed, recommendations on food + etc... Stay tuned and Happy Monday!