Travel Food

Road Trip Food

In an effort to further delay my impending packing rush, I will detail for you all my travel food necessities. We can do without a lot of stuff out on the road, but if the food isn’t right, then aint nothin’ is right. I hope my foody expertise will help out others as vacation season is upon us.

So, a basic list:

Frito Bean Dip (we love it so much, we named our dog after it).

Fruit of all kinds, ready to eat without any green stuff to get rid of.

Mini Baby bel cheese, (hella expensive if you don’t get it at Costco, but still worth it because the red wax on the outside makes for some great sculpting material).

Ramen noodles, to be boiled up in the coffee maker in case we have to make an overnight stop.

Fruit leather, granola bars, crackers for the cheese.

Banana Chocolate Mini Muffins, yum!!! (baked the night before, preferably when packing is at it’s most intense and tempers are flaring).

Ingredients for the NuFlufferBaNutter sandwich. And just what is that, you ask? Let me show you:

Road Trip Delicacy

Nutella, marshmallow whip, banana, and peanut butter sandwich. All the food groups in one! It’s our version of GORP.

Sadly, since that picture was taken, all of us chez Child’s Play have forsaken High Fructose Corn Syrup. *sob*. No more Cherry Coke. Although….everyone might be lots better off if I had one on our marathon drive, so maybe I’ll take one for the team and just get myself some.

Now I’m off to make some mad lists, because I’m sure to forget tons of things that I really wish I wouldn’t. Taking kids and hubby on a vacation is like preparing for a minor invasion. Details, details, details, which isn’t my strong suit.

I’ll let you know on the flip side what important thing I’ve forgotten…

Away we go!

I have a lot to do here, people, before I leave for sunny, happy California. This trip kind of popped up, as most great unplanned road trips do–I realized I have a very finite period of time before summer camps start and I’m stuck here shuttling kids back and forth for days on end. And nothing makes me want to get up and go like the thought of being stuck somewhere.

I’ve got to be ready to go tonight. Tonight! And I have lots to finish up…laundry, packing, repacking, helping the kids pack, cleaning out the car, organizing foodstuffs, baking muffins (best roadtrip food ever), getting reservations somewhere between here and there since there is no way I’m going to knock that out in a day, and getting my hair cut. I’m thinking of ditching the easy ponytail and going short and sassy–it seems I do this once every couple years or so. Decisions, decisions.

Helping the kids pack may take a while, if this morning is any indication. I spent 30 minutes just trying to get Sassy’s shoes on her feet. First, she needed to get them from upstairs, so I sent her up. She came down with a lei around her neck. I sent her back up to get them, she came down with a sock on. Back up, back down with a tiara. Back up, back down with a feathery boa. Back up, back down with one of my shoes on her hand.

I totally believe in taking however long my kids need to let them do things for themselves, and even though I will be placed in a mental institution in the not to distant future, at least I’ll have given my kids wings to fly. I don’t know where Sassy will be off too–a South Beach club if her appearance is any indication.

I used to really prepare for these kinds of roadtrips, but now we’ve done so many and I’ve already got one foot on the crazy train, I just don’t have it in me anymore. I also used to read mothering magazines (ha!) that suggested to wrap one toy for every hour you’re in the car, and let them unwrap it as a treat to keep them occupied. (Ha!) My suggestion is to let them put stuff in their own backpacks, shove it back there with them, and then put on an airplane ‘quiet’ headset and jam to my itunes. And then, every time we stop for gas, let them out to get whatever piece of junk they want to eat/drink. And for Golfer, put a throw up bag next to him since there’s always an issue with it on every trip. Yes, road trips are a far cry now from what they used to be back in my college days.

Ok! So! I’ve wasted enough time avoiding getting ready to go. Wish me luck!

Springtime in the Rockies.

It’s pretty divine!

Rocky Mountain View

2e Tuesday: “Unable to Load Page”

So, you know when you’re surfing the internet, and sometimes you come across a page that won’t load, so it gives you the message “Unable to load page–link is missing or broken” and so then you have to backtrack and try to find the information via another route?

Yeah. Thats the message that flashes across my kids (and my) foreheads at certain moments. It’s all linked to short term memory, I swear. I’m not much into medicating kids, but if they had a pill that would give us all back the huge portion of short term memory that we’re apparently missing I’d totally do it.

And actually, I think we’re missing a big part of our long term memory, too. In fact, it’s almost like we all suffered a massive head trauma that affects our brain output. “How can someone SO SMART be SO DUMB?!” is a question that I’ve heard a lot. And it’s the essence of being twice exceptional…gifted and LD at the same time. Case in point:

Sandwich: FAIL

Sandwich:  FAIL!

This was Golfer last year, after making a sandwich. Even though he’s been making them for a while now, he totally blanked on how to make a half sandwich. So I told him, “take a piece of bread, put jelly on it, fold it in half”, and that’s exactly what he did.

It reminds me of the time I was in 7th grade home ec class, and tried to make a skirt. “Cut out two rectangles of fabric, sew them together end to end.” So I did, and was left with two identical rectangles, like the tops of stovepipe hats.

It also reminds me of the time I was checking in to a hotel and they wanted my zip code and phone number. I totally couldn’t give them either. It’s hit or miss, and sometimes something even that rote and permanent isn’t so rote or permanent anymore.

And then, one time Naturalist brought home a bunch of salt dough, flat christmas ornaments she’d decorated from school (back when she went) and nothing was painted in except the very tippy tops of them…the star of the christmas tree, rudolf’s antlers, the top of the wreath. I asked her why she didn’t paint in the whole ornament and she said, “The teacher told us to only paint the top of the ornaments.” So right, but so wrong all at the same time.

I sent Naturalist to school many-a-day with information memorized and repeated back to me precisely. She’d take the test, and get, like, 10% right.

I understood. Some days you have it, others you don’t. This wreaks havoc in school. I learned to stay BFF’s with my teachers/professors, and have weekly discussions with them about the materials. That way, if I took a test and bombed it, they could vouch that I had been studying and more often than not forgive me a few points here and there on the material they know I knew. Some were more hard nosed and told me to study harder. Whatever.

Some people learn information and retain it completely. We call these people smart.
Some people learn information and retain it…but sometimes can’t recall where in the brain it is. We call those people stupid.

But really? I think our spotty memory combined with our out of the box thinking (seen often in the way we follow directions, ie., sandwich building) makes us prime candidates for Einstein’s quote:

“You can’t solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

One thing is certain, 2e out of the box kids definately don’t use the same kind of thinking as everyone else. Thank goodness.

Come celebrate the many quirks and joys of out of the box thinking over at my yahoo group!

Math Monday: Trampoline Math!

Around the time I started posting these Math Mondays, I started up a Creative Math Club for other creative, visual, right brain thinkers. Typically, elementary and middle school math is not considered all that creative, visual, or right brained. Thus, the struggle for so many kids who just give up in the midst of all the arithmetic and rules. The ironic twist is that, for the most part, the further you go in math, the more theoretical and mental/visual it gets. By the time you reach that point, though, most kids have weeded themselves out.

An interesting thing about Naturalist is that while she struggles doing computation, she can take any shape and deconstruct it in her head. She can take a cube, ‘unroll’ it, roll it back up again in a different formation, make it 2D, twist it around, and pop it back up into 3D. If you give her a deconstructed 2D shape, she can construct it in her head and tell you what 3D shape it will make. Somewhere in the higher level math world, there is a practical application for that. I never made it that far, though, so I don’t know.

Anyway, the goal of Creative Math Club is to take the higher level creativity and put it into elementary/middle school math. It’s tricky, but do-able.

This time, we all met up at my trampoline. Because when I say “math”, I want the association to be with something fun, and what’s more fun than a trampoline?! How about a trampoline and chalk?!


The kids played for a bit, we adults talked for a bit, and then I brought out some schematics of a circle (here and here) to the older group of kids. These were to be reproduced onto the trampoline, and they did a fabulous job. Once it was transfered, we played a game of Simon Says. (Note: I was prepared for this game to either fall flat with the young kids, or with the older kids, and so move on, but everyone ended up enjoying themselves with it.)

First, the basic stuff to get them accustomed to the circle and the game:

Simon says, jump on the circumference.
Simon says, put your elbow on the center.
Simon says, put a toe on the secant.
Simon says, run around a half circle.



Even if they didn’t know what the word meant I was talking about, they quickly got it, either by watching someone else or by looking at the diagram. The beauty of a game like this is that even the 4 and 5 year olds participated. By the end, they knew where to find the secant, or chord, or tangent. Game learning is all inclusive!

Then, once everyone was comfortable with the vocabulary, we got a little crazy.

Simon says, put a toe on the circumference and an elbow on a chord. (if a kid was too far away from something, then they hollered out and someone would draw one by them)

Simon says, everyone form one diameter across the circle (this took some teamwork)

Simon says, make a radius with your body. (this was cool, because each radius ended up dividing the circle into fractions of a circle)



Simon says, make a tangent with your body. (This was my favorite, because they unexpectedly formed a nonagon around the trampoline.)
Simon says, jump on the line segment with the two endpoints on the circumference. Note, at no time did I define ‘line segment’ or ‘endpoint’, but they all kind of looked around and found what fit…the chord…because visual kids can infer things easier than they can sit and listen to boring definitions.

As we moved around the trampoline, the chalk kept erasing off of it. This gave the older kids a chance to redraw the geometric diagrams with chalk. I love this kind of natural repetition, because my kids hate to do anything twice (or more) if they can help it. When it’s fun, it allows for more leeway.

We ended up playing this game for much longer than I thought anyone would want to, and by the time we were finished they had a nose, elbow, knee, finger, ear, and foot on just about every part of a circle at one point or another.

Then, for kicks, we measured the circumference of the trampoline in string and stretched it out to see how long it was.

All in all, a good time was had by all! Find a trampoline and try it out!

Trampoline Math

More Math Mondays here.

A small glimpse into Mommyhood.

Most of mommyness is full of fleeting moments that go down unremarked and unnoticed. I’d like to take a second and point out how a little thing like eating a sandwich changes when you have kids in tow.

Exhibit A:

Sub sandwich from Subway.


notice how it’s flayed open, with some meat missing? We’ll get to that in a second.

I used to get a 6 inch sub from Subway and eat it. Actually, I can barely remember when I used to do that, because for the past 12 years I’ve taken to disasembling them. For Naturalist, who will eat no meat (seriously–not even at 9 months would she let meat past her lips), I used to open the sandwich up and give her all the veggies, leaving me with the turkey and bread. When she got big enough to get her own sandwich, Golfer came along and gobbled up all the bread and tomatoes, leaving me with the turkey and lettuce. Now Golfer gets his own sandwich, and Sassy is claiming her part. For her, I order myself a turkey sub with double meat and double mustard. Then she takes all the meat and mustard and leaves me with a veggie sub.

It’s a small thing, really, not eating a sandwich as ordered for 12 years. But it’s also kind of amazing. And I know when Sassy is old enough to get and eat her own sandwich…leaving me to eat my very own in peace…I’ll miss disassembling it. And that time is close, because now that Sassy is 5 she’s sitting at the big counter with the older kids now.

3 musketeers

Here’s a hat tip to all the moms out there who do so many remarkably unremarkable things during their day, whether it’s sharing a sandwich or eating a meal consisting entirely of other people’s leftovers. Cheers to us! There’s a banquet waiting for us all in heaven.

Speaking of hitting the road…

There is an epic road trip going on by a bunch of guys you’ve probably never heard of and a Quiznos Toaster that you probably have, if you’ve seen the funny yet rather disturbing new Quiznos ad.

So, basically, three guys and the Quiznos Toaster are going to travel through all 50 States in only 14 days. They’re on day 3 today, and we’ve been following their progress on a half hourly updatable map. This is pretty much an unschoolers dream, because my kids have been hovered over a US map looking to see what route they’ve taken and then trying to plan out where they’ll go next. Geography has never been more fun! And extra plus is that the Quiznos Toaster is dropping gift certificates everywhere he goes. He updates his twitter page to let everyone know where he drops them off.

The individual twitters for each dude on this crazy roadtrip are:
Mike Hedge
Hunter Weeks
Mike Dion

This kind of adventure makes me happy. When you are pretty sure than none of your kids is headed for a 9-5 desk job, but aren’t sure where that means they will actually end up, people like this that are living the dream are quite inspirational. Proof that you don’t have to learn how to sit still and work at a school desk to do amazing things with your life. A lot of people still don’t know this.

My kids are now planning their own epic trip (hopefully without Quiznos Toaster…I’m sure he’s nice and all, but I just don’t have the room in my van). So far it’s stateside, but I’m pretty sure they’ll jump the Atlantic and head over into Europe at some point. Until then, I’ll let them virtually explore where they’ll go and tell them to start saving their money.

On a side note, I really miss the Quiznos Spongemonkeys. Remember them?! They were rather disturbing, too. But I loved them.

Tis the season to hit the road!

Now that June is almost here, it means one thing…road trip season!!!

Who am I kidding, around here any excuse is a good reason for a road trip, which kind of makes it always road trip season. But officially, I think it starts now for everyone else.

We’ve cut back on our excursions a bit this year. A sucky economy and the fact that Hubby has been without a job for 11 of the past 24 months made that decision real easy. Don’t worry, we’re fine, we just don’t have a savings account anymore. But those are sooo overrated, and really–no one has one of those any more. Or a retirement fund. So, we’re in good company.

But It did make me remember last year at this time, and the super amazing road trip I took with my best friend before she moved away to Chicago (sob). 2 cool mamas with 5 kids between us. I could have sworn we had, like, 23 kids between us–but that may be the vomit-a-thon talking that we endured.

And so, as I plan out some more trips for this year (just a mini one, I’m so stir crazy!) I leave you with an oldie but goodie…Spring Trip ’08. A great week long trip that circled from Denver down to Durango around west to Moab, and back to Denver again. Because really, I like to take “Free Range Kids” literally. 🙂

2e Tuesday: Blooming.

2 years.

I planted some columbines 2 years ago, and in those two years they haven’t bloomed once. They got green, and spread out, but never bloomed. Hubby wanted to take them out and replace them something else, but I really really wanted to see those flowers blooming! But no. They may be Colorado’s state flower, but they refused my front yard.

I’d given up this year. Not only given up, I didn’t even hope for the blooms. I just kind of ignored them while I tended to the other things that were greening up our yard. And then, I walked by today and did a double take. They’ve bloomed. Lots of them! In all kinds of colors! It took my breath away, not only from the beauty, but also from the unexpectedness of it finally happening.

2e, or, Out of the Box Thinkers, are so similar to my columbines. I’ve already written about late bloomers, as it applies. But even this term is a tad derogatory. “Late” bloomers. delayed, slow, after everyone else. I fundamentally disagree that there is a normal range for development in any form. You bloom when you bloom. Who cares when, or how, or why. Mark Twain certainly didn’t begin writing until well into an age where most people are well established in their career. Does it take away from his brilliance? In fact, maybe some of the gifts of his writing came because he took his time to bloom, and experienced a lot of what life had to offer first.

OOTBT need nourishment. Air, water, sun, and the big sky. They need time and space. Room to grow out as wide as they want and reach their roots as deeply as they can. They may not be blooming, but they are growing. Allow them that. Enjoy their process on their own terms.

If you happen to be in the library, check out the book Leo the Late Bloomer and stop stressing out. 🙂 Enjoy your child for what they offer, not for what they do that you think they should.

That’s what the columbines and my kids have taught me.

Math Monday::Labyrinth Math and Pi!


The 80 degree weather continued this week, so math was outside again. The Creative Math Club has been working with compasses to explore circles, and we continued our exploration outside at a giant labyrinth. Sonja came up with the idea to meet there, with the idea that the kids could literally get inside a circle and walk in and around it. So fabulous! And, they did. Before we started anything official, we all walked the path of the labyrinth–even Frito.

walking the path

We talked about lots of things as we wound our way along the path. The difference between a labyrinth and a maze, if life was more like a labyrinth or a maze, how we liked walking along the path. Some kids found the labyrinth boring compared to a tricky maze, others enjoyed it more. It is endlessly fascinating to ask kids an open ended question and listen to what they say!

Once they had a good feel for the size of the circle, Sonja brought out some measuring tools and we started measuring the labyrinth. First, we opened it up to the kids to problem solve how to find the diameter of the very large labyrinth–it didn’t take them long to take the radius and double it!

Finding the Diameter

Then, they set to work finding the circumference of the labyrinth. This was a joy to watch. I think it ended up being appx. 150 feet, and it took all of them working as a team to come up with how to get the measurement right. First they strung a string around the outside of the circle, then straightened out and measured it. It was something like 2,225 inches.

It takes a village to find a circumference.

Once they did that, Sonja asked them how many times the diameter fit around the circumference. More measuring. Discovered it went around 3 times plus a little bit. Then we gave them other round objects and had them see how many times the radius of each circle went around those circumferences.


All items had the same answer…about 3 times plus a little bit. Even the oreos!

Here’s Sonja–she brought out some Pie to go with the oreos, and then read a bit on the history of Pi.

New BFF.

After the club, Naturalist realized that her summer camp would interfere with math club. I told her we would probably stop math club until September, and she begged to keep it going all summer long. Then she paused and said, “I can’t believe I just said that!”.

If you’ve got a labyrinth nearby, I highly recommend getting out and measuring it (as long as no one is trying to have a spiritual journey on it.) Here’s a nifty Labyrinth finder: