Traveling With Kids? 65+ Free and Inexpensive Ideas to Make the Trip Easier and Fun!

Forget the parts about babies screaming in their car seats, siblings getting in each other’s space in the back seat, and ineffectively trying to get restless children to actually sleep in a hotel bed.

Traveling is fun!

Well, parts of it anyway.

65 Free and Inexpensive Road Trip Ideas

If you’re hitting the road this summer with your family, we pray you make more great memories than bad ones (though I speak from experience when I say that even most of the bad ones turn into good ones eventually). We pray for wonderful experiences and fantastic adventures. We pray that even Mom and Dad have a good time and get to relax! Is this too much to ask?

Free and Inexpensive Road Trip Ideas and Activities

To make a road trip fun for the kids and hopefully more relaxing for the parents, we’ve put together a fantastic list of ideas and activities, as well as a huge packet of free printables for you. A huge thanks to my friend, Kim, for once again helping me compile this list of ideas. Wait till you see!

First the free printable pack!

Free Summer Travel Printables

You will want this packet of printables to go along with many of the ideas listed below! Print the pages that work well for each of your kids and put together a binder for them to take along on the trip. With these printables your kids can:

  • Journal with pictures or words throughout the trip
  • Play “I Spy” with Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Colors, and State License Plates
  • Spot road signs and different kinds of vehicles – challenging themselves to see how many they can find
  • More (details to come!)

Sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. Once you’ve signed up, watch for an email, confirm your subscription, and your printables packet will be in your inbox soon!

More Travel Ideas that Are Free

vintage toy truck isolated in white background with clipping path.

Are you ready for this? We’ve got over 65 great ideas to help make traveling with kids fun and easy. Here we go with ideas that cost absolutely nothing!

  • Toy Swap! Borrow toys and books from a friend to take along on the trip. This will seem like “new toys” to your kids but will cost nothing!
  • Take along library books, audio books, and movies.
  • Coupon Fun! Use the printable coupons in the packet above to provide your kids with fun incentives and treats to look forward to. (For example: “This coupon entitles you to sit by Mom. …to choose the movie. …to have a special drink.)
  • Borrow fun music CDs from friends that will be new to your family.

Super Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas

  • Hit garage sales and thrift stores to pick up “new” toys and books inexpensively. Pull them out one at a time on the trip!
  • If your kids are old enough, aluminum foil is great for making origami shapes or molding/scrunching into various shapes. It can be used over and over!
  • Take stickers and a spiral notebook or scratch paper: Little ones enjoy the fun of peeling off the stickers and putting them on paper at random. Bigger kids can make scenes with them, then use crayons or colored pencils to make a bigger scene. (Consider including this in a binder in put together for your kids which includes the above Travel Packet Printables!) Here’s an awesome sticker pack that is a great value.

Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas

finger puppets

Arts and Crafts on the Road

melissa and doug water paint

Travel Items Worth the Investing In

playbee

Audio Book Suggestions

adventures in odyssey

Borrow these from the library or invest in them to keep in your car for all your road trips!

Rest Stop Activities

sidewalk chalk

Hotel Activities

jungle puzzle

Travel Games

hungry hippos

Fun Travel Snacks and Drinks

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*TIP* Purchase a gallon of water to keep in the car. Refill individual water bottles as needed. Sometimes it’s fun to surprise the kids with a new water bottle for a big trip! These choices are great for bigger kids. Here’s a great sippy cup for littlesGrown-ups and teens might like this one.

Recipes for the Road

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

I am so in love with all these ideas! Thank you, Kim, for lending your expertise and creativity!

Everyone please pitch in to share your ideas too. And be sure to sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. I love the fun of this packet to make traveling more enjoyable!

A Mom’s Musings on Fidget Spinners, Dabbing, and Other Fabulous Fads

If I never hear or see another bottle being flipped in an effort to “land it” or “cap it,” that will be soon enough for me, so help my frazzled nerves. The bottle flipping craze lasted for 37 long days at my house, resulting in partially full bottles being left in various corners and under beds all over our house, and a mom who constantly said, “If you’re going to do that, you need to please go far away from me so I don’t have to hear it.”

As hobbies and fads go, bottle flipping was the least expensive ever known to man, as there was no purchase necessary so long as one held onto bottles previous purchased and consumed the contents therein. Score one for bottle flipping. Free entertainment for children everywhere.

Also, bottle flipping was harmless entertainment (though not according to my friend’s son who acquired a black eye from an unfortunate bottle flipping incident). Overall, if one had to select a trend for kids to become crazy over, bottle flipping wouldn’t be the worst choice. Sure I found it loud, nerve wracking, and obnoxious. Yet, I took a few turns and landed my share of flipped bottles, because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

fidget spinner

Then overnight I realized it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a bottle poking out from under a bed or heard one being flipped as kids everywhere are spinning and fidgeting and fidgeting and spinning. The infamous fidget spinners are the latest craze, at least as of 12:57 pm, CST, May 27, 2017. Said spinners were created to help students with ADHD, but according to all moms, teachers, and child care providers – Fidget Spinners have now taken over the world.

Our youngest played with one at a friends house a few weeks ago, then talked of nothing else for 159 hours, reminding us of how hard he had been working lately to earn and save money so surely spending $4 of his hard earned dollars on this absolute necessity wasn’t too much to ask. Of course there were none to be found in our small town, so four trips to every store later, we ordered some online and had to wait impatiently for their arrival.

Even if all four of my sons is using one at the same time, the noise of these spinners is nothing compared to the jolt of a landed bottle flip – in my opinion and experience. Granted, I am not a teacher in a classroom so I have not had to deal with what some educators are facing with the spinners, God bless you one and all.

A Mom's Musings on Fabulous Fads

Regarding all things that fit into the fad category whether it’s fidget spinning, bottle flipping, dabbing, or whatever will become “the thing” five minutes after I publish this post – I have a few words to say to parents:

This too shall pass.

Therefore…

  • Pick your battles.
  • Help your children choose wisely.

I didn’t love (understatement) bottles being flipped over and over and over right under my face while I was trying to concentrate on writing articles or help a kid with an assignment. But unless I had instructed otherwise, there was no harm done by bottle flipping – so long it was done far away in another room so I didn’t have to listen to it. My kids actually made some pretty fun competitions with them, and praise be, it was active and didn’t involve a screen.

Fidget spinners? They personally make me dizzy, but all four of my kids say they actually concentrate better while fidgeting, so spin away, my children. (But put them away while you’re at church or in Bible class so you aren’t distracting others or slowly killing your teachers.)

Dabbing? We’re already looking back at that one as a thing we all did back in 2016.

And can you believe overalls and high waist jeans have made a come back, even though I undoubtedly did my part to kill off these trends back in 1988?

What have we learned from these motherhood musings over fidget spinners and the like?

We’ve learned that all parents everywhere need to remember that some things are worth fighting over and some are not. If it’s not causing harm and it’s not sinful, we can probably chill out about it – though we can ask our kids to take the “fun” to another room so we will still remember how to smile.

We’ve learned that fads come and go as quickly as purple kool-aid hair. Therefore, it’s wise to guide our children in using discernment when making a purchase of the latest thing or tatooing it forever onto their left cheek.

We’ve learned that Laura landed a bottle flip a time or two, which makes us all impressed and proud.

And we’ve learned that dabbing mostly is out and overalls are actually back, at least for today.

Share with me your love/hate relationship with whatever is the latest trend at your house…

What to do if you love coffee but need to watch the caffeine. (Have you tried Teeccino?)

Sometimes a person says something she means but doesn’t really mean. You know what I mean?

Take, for instance, when I say, “I love to drink. Drinking is so fun! Drinks make me happy.” You might think I have a drinking problem. It’s definitely not a problem, though, because I can stop any time I want to.

Now, what I’m talking about, isn’t drinking. No, no. I’m talking about drinking. Understand now? I actually stay away from drinking because my system can’t handle it, I’ve seen too many dear friends struggle with it, and anyway, I have way more fun when I’m drinking instead.

I drink at home and I drink with my family and it’s great to invite friends over and say, “Do you want to come over for drinks?”

Well now. I think after reading that we can all use a drink. What can I get you?

  • Coffee? (Iced or hot? Decaf or regular? With cream and a spoonful of my homemade chocolate sauce?)
  • Tea? (Hot or cold? Sweet or unsweet? Mango or peach? Raspberry perhaps?)
  • Water? (Ice or no ice? With lemon or lime?)
  • Sparkling Juice? (Cranberry is our favorite. Recipe is coming soon.)

Now that we’re all clear (as mud) on where I’m coming from, allow me to explain further.

I always drink a nice amount of water during the day so I stay hydrated and healthy. I actually like water, even if it is just…water. But I also really like to enjoy another fun drink or two throughout the day.

pumpkin_custard_drink

Desserts? I’m over them. Junk food? I really don’t want it. But a variety of drinks? Yes, please. I think they are a ridiculously fun treat even though I don’t even add sugar or stevia to them.

I realize this puts me over the edge into the complete nerd category, but you guys, sipping an iced coffee in the afternoon is as much a treat to me as brownies used to be back in my “I can eat anything” days. Tossing a slice of lemon in my water makes me feel like I’m indulging in something special when in reality, I’m still in my pajamas and I’m about to embark on a science lesson with my kids.

Having a cup of hot tea mid-morning (let’s call it a “spot of tea,” shall we?) in a special mug really hits the spot while I’m answering emails. Enjoying a flavored sparkling water (lime is my fav) with my lunch makes me feel like I’m splurging at a restaurant. And setting out an assortment of hot drink choices for my family before we begin a game night is way, way more fun than one would think.

Coffee Milkshake

This leads me to share about a fun drink many of you already know about (because several of you have mentioned it through the years). A sample of Teeccino came in my last Azure Standard order.

I made a BIG DEAL of trying it. As in, I made it, put on my pj’s and slippers while it was brewing, added cream, and snuggled under a fuzzy blanket in the living room so I could sip it slowing and savor it. I only had one kid at home with me at the time, so naturally I made him try it with me. He was a good sport, skipped the slippers, and added sugar to his.

We both came back with a thumbs up. So now I have yet another great drink to add to my drinking repertoire. Can life get any more fun than this?! I think not.

teeccino

What is Teeccino?

It’s an herbal tea, completely decaf, which tastes similar to coffee. But don’t expect it to taste exactly like coffee because it doesn’t.  I think it has a unique taste – kind of a mixture of coffee, tea, and chocolate.

It is delicious, though, and I love that it’s decaf so I can enjoy it in the evenings!

All of my family has tried it and enjoys it too. Therefore, I ordered a case which is a variety pack, because of ALL THE FUN this will provide for us.

Now that you’ve heard my drinking confessions, it time for you to share what your favorite drinks are. Also, have you tried Teeccino and do you like it?

22 years later, I got revenge.

I have been so naughty this week. You never knew I had this in me.

The back story:

When Matt and I first started dating in college, then became engaged, we spent quite a bit of time at the Miller’s house. They probably didn’t even know how much they were mentoring us toward beginning a healthy marriage, but they were.

On our wedding day, we were so pleasantly surprised to see that they’d driven all the way from York, NE to little ol’ Isabel, KS to honor us. How sweet are they??

Not as sweet as you think.

No, but really. They are very sweet. It’s just this:

I didn’t dare put my honeymoon suitcase in our get-away car because as much as I love all the guys involved in our wedding, I wasn’t sure I trusted them with my “special things” I’d packed for our wedding night and…etc. So instead of putting it in the car, I put my suitcase in the women’s restroom where it would be safe. Uh-huh.

After the ceremony, the picture taking, the cake eating, and the wheat throwing (I’m from Kansas. I didn’t want rice. I wanted wheat.) – I grabbed my suitcase and away we went.

Well. When we got to our hotel, I opened my suitcase and what did I find?

Every one of my socks was full of wheat. What’s more? Every single article of clothing – even my “special things” – were all tied together so that when I pulled out one piece, I just kept pulling. And pulling. And pulling. (Like a clown. On her honeymoon).

It took me completely by surprise and I could not for the life of me figure out who to blame. When we got back home, I started accusing everyone I could think of. First I pointed to my cousin Dana, who had been a bridesmaid. “It was you!! You and Rebecca I bet! When did you do it??”

Nope, innocent.

I confronted the rest of my bridesmaids, other friends who were there, my sisters-in-law, my aunts. No one knew a thing about it. Grandma?!? Nope. It wasn’t Grandma.

This remained a mystery for years.

Then came the day so many years later when I was telling the story to a group of friends in which one very guilty lady named GAIL MILLER sat sheepishly in the back, trying to contain her laughter. “Ah-ha!!!” I screamed when I saw her face. “It was YOU!!!!” I could not believe it. No way. Not Gail Miller!

Yes, Gail Miller – along with an accomplice who now lives in another state but should probably watch her back. (You’re next, Robbie.)

We’ve gotten many a laugh out of this through the years. Gail continues to be a fantastic role model, friend, and mentor to me. But here’s the part where I tell you what I did last week and I am so very proud and not the least bit ashamed of myself.

Gail and her hubs went out of town for a couple of weeks. While they were gone, they employed my husband to finish working on the walls and a closet in their basement. They gave him a key, and I believe their exact words were, “Go in and out as needed. Make yourself at home.”

Well if you say so.

What started out as me (the sweet and supportive wife) telling Matt, “I want to run over there with you some day to see what you’re working on” turned into, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!! I am soooo going with you some day while they are gone and I am going to tie a bunch of Gail’s stuff together for her to find when she gets home!! I will fill her socks with wheat! Revenge time!!!” at which point I’m sure Matt had never been so thankful for and proud of his meek and godly wife.

When the day came, I couldn’t bring myself to go in search of her “special things” drawer. (Because I’m nicer than Gail.) So I stayed in the kitchen and dining area. Not to worry, there was plenty of tying to be done so there’d be no doubt I’d been by for a visit. It was ever so much fun.

Now let the fuzzy selfie slide show begin (because it’s much harder than you think to tie things together and take pictures of yourself at the same time):

First, when she opened her potholder/tea towel drawer it looked like this as normal:

revenge7

But when she pulled out a tea towel, she found this:

revenge1

My arms weren’t long enough to show you all 7 towels tied together (cue evil laugh here). But here’s a FB picture of Gail’s daughter Lynn that made me laugh for five minutes:

revenge 8

This next pic is the fuzziest of all, but my favorite of the prank. Gail has a drawer full of decorative flags she hangs outside as the seasons change. I tied them all, which spread across the entire room.

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Oh look. She found them.

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Next I found that tying all the chairs together at the bar was a fantastic idea. “Can I get you a chair? How about three chairs?”

revenge4

All of her shopping bags were hanging together in the entry way. Assuming she will need all of them for a single shopping trip, I tied the handles all together. Just trying to help.

revenge6

Lastly, I found all her jackets. Just one last special surprise for the fall when it gets chilly.

revenge3

It was 45 minutes of pure silliness, of which Matt was finishing his work in the basement and shaking his head at me (while silently cheering me on, I’m sure). Malachi was there too, laughing that his old mom could possibly be so cool and fun. (Right, Malachi? That’s what you were thinking.)

Then, of course, I had to wait many days in silence before Gail and Ray got home to discover what I’d been up to. Finally, the Facebook message appeared:

“Took me a little while, but I finally put it together. It has taken a few years for some due payback, but you finally got me. Good one, Laura Coppinger. Good one!”

to which I answered,

“Welcome home, Gail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But what are you even talking about? Payback? Payback for what? I’m just sitting here reading my Bible…”

I guess you all know now that if you play a prank on me, I will most certainly get my revenge – even if it does take 22 years. Watch yourself.

P.S. Love you, Gail Miller!!!

Bread, Recipe Card Craft, Service Ideas, and More – All Less Than $1.00

I’ve got more “make it for less than $1.00″ ideas for you today! If you missed yesterday’s list of ideas, go check them out. It’s fun sharing all these super inexpensive ideas with you this week!

$1.00 or Less Recipes, Crafts, Gift Ideas, and more!

First, the simplest craft idea ever:

Remember when I posted about how to make these cute Recipe Card Holders? These are incredibly fun and cute and EASY. The cost for each is about 20¢. Read the details here, and read other ideas for how to use these. (They’re not just great for holding recipes!)

recipe card holder6

Want to teach your kids to cook this summer?

The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse will be open next week. But for this week? Sign them up for the go check them out Malachi (our youngest) learned so much from these (and the entire course). Seeing as $FREE$ is much less than even $1.00, go check them out.

Homemade 100% Whole Grain Bread for a Buck

You can’t buy a loaf of 100% Whole Grain bread for $1.00 – or at least I sure can’t. You also can’t beat homemade bread. This Stir-and-Pour Bread recipe is just about as easy as it gets because you don’t even have to knead it. You can make this so quickly!

stir and pour bread loaf 5

Bread Mix in a Jar – Make it for a Gift!

You can either bake some of the Stir-and-Pour Bread to share with someone, or you can follow these directions to make the mix-in-a-jar to give as a gift. Either way, what a fun way to love on someone! You can also use the free printable gift tags (found on this page) to go with your jar.

Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix Gift Jar with Free Printable Gift Tags

More fun bread variations – all for $1.00

Use the basic Stir-and-Pour Bread recipe to make these too:

Watch for more “less than $1.00″ ideas coming up tomorrow!

The Week We NAILED it With Hospitality

I thought you’d appreciate knowing that when it comes to hospitality – we totally nailed it this week. (Nailed rhymes with failed. There might be a connection there.) Details? Oh yes. You do want to know these details. Maybe. 

First, as you recall, we hosted 15 teenage boys last weekend. Crazy as that sounds, having them here was the least eventful of everything else I am about to share with you. Oh yes. The boys all trooped into our house on Friday and Saturday nights after fun times at the church building with youth from four different states. They kicked off their shoes; they crowded into our kitchen where Matt and I stood throwing out cheap junk food for an hour and a half each night; they went outside and played football in the snow at midnight.

By Sunday afternoon when everyone left for their homes – my floors were covered in mud and dirty towels. The sink was overflowing with dishes. I was going on about seven hours of accumulated sleep over the course of three days.

dirty_kitchen_1

This is when our new guests moved in. Sunday afternoon. When I was a zombie and there were no clean sheets or towels.

This time, instead of bunches of teenage boys, we were hosting a young family with two little ones. We’d planned it. I’d warned them about what they’d be walking into. They were extremely gracious. I got them settled (sort of) then excused myself to pass out in bed for a couple hours.

Fast-forward a couple of days. Young Family was still here. Young Husband began feeling a major allergic reaction. Upon checking more thoroughly in our guest room – we realized that mold was becoming a problem on a wall where we had recently had a leak. Oh my stars. We were slowly killing our guests.

Bleach was our friend (even though we hate bleach – we hate mold more). The wall became livable for the time being until we can find a moment to knock it out and replace it. Enter: more guests.

Young Family’s brother moved in along with his girlfriend. YF’s Brother camped out with our boys upstairs in their room. Girlfriend got guest room downstairs. We liked Girlfriend immediately (a good thing too, because YF’s Brother is like a son to us).

Girlfriend is low maintenance and sweet. This is probably why she did not mention the complete lack of hot water for her shower the first morning she was here.

Matt discovered it later that day when he was washing his hands in the downstairs bathroom and the water in the sink never got warm. He went to the basement to investigate. Sure enough. The hot water heater had a leak in the tank. There was nothing that could be done. It had lived its life. Time to buy a new one.

So let’s see. Mold. Cold showers. What else did we offer our guests this week?

On not much. Just a HUGE police investigation next door that revealed a Meth-Lab in the works. Wha??! I am so serious. That place was hopping for hours on Tuesday – with guys in Hazmat suits, firemen standing by in case of explosions, you know – just another day in our quiet neighborhood in small town Nebraska while we sit around sipping hot cocoa with company.

applecrispsm

When all was said and done, I’d say we’ve all still had a wonderful time visiting. Somehow I’ve caught up on sleep and laundry (which of course, doesn’t mean anything because there is no such thing as “caught up on laundry”). If nothing else, I’ve done my best to provide our guests with great food. I mean, if all else fails, feed people Apple Crisp and Blueberry Pancakes, right?

Anything exciting happen in your house or on your block this week? I’m voting for a few laid back days at our house next week. Please??

Fun Christmas Socks Gift Idea ~ Keeping the Mistle “Toes” Warm

I picked up several pairs of fun Christmas socks before Thanksgiving, so as expected, I bought some toothpaste and pencils to go with them. This is the obvious action to take when gifting Christmas socks. Everything I do is normal.

What actually happened is that I bought the fun Christmas socks with our adopted college students in mind. I figured I would package them up with some other goodies and put them in their campus mail. But then I came across the fun idea on Pinterest to fill the socks with treats and little gifts, and before I knew it (which really translates to several days and hours later) – I had six sets of these:

Christmas Sock Gift

These gifts were terrifically fun to put together! I went with basic wool socks for our three male adopted students, as you’ll see below. Since I’d gotten so many pairs of fun girly Christmas socks on sale, I decided to mix theirs up a bit. While it looks like they’re receiving mis-matched pairs, I actually rolled up the second sock of each pair and stuck it down inside the toes. So the girls are getting two pairs of cute socks. Sorry boys – yours are much more practical!

Christmas Sock Gifts

Speaking of practical – I included a few other practical items inside the guy’s socks. What college student wants to actually spend money on toothpaste and soap? Not to worry, I’m here to help. Their socks included soap, toothpaste, pens, candy cane chapstick, a small flashlight, gum, and candy (because not everything must be practical and at least I included toothpaste to brush away the sugar).

The girl’s socks were a little more on the fru-fru side because my inner girl rarely gets to come out in this household of men and all that I’d been holding back exploded in the dazzling Christmas aisles at Walmart. I got the girls sparkly lip balm and glittery nail polish, Christmas nail files, snowman pencils, face scrub, gum, and candy.

Our family then worked together to come up with a punny gift tag idea to attach to our socks. Our gift tag creativity hadn’t woken up yet that morning, however, so all we came up with was “Hope your Christmas doesn’t sock.” (Get it? Don’t try too hard.) Since that idea didn’t come close to making the cut, I searched online and came up with this:

mistle toes4

Yes. That’s better.

I then created a generic tag for all of you in case you’d like to steal this idea.

Mistle Toe Socks Gift Tag

Download FREE Mistle Toes Gift Cards

As I’m writing this, I realize that this would be a very good idea for those of you who live in a community with a large homeless population. Filling wool socks with practical items and turning them into fun gifts like this would surely be a blessing to the recipients. In my town, we don’t have many homeless, but we do have many low-income individuals and families. I’m working on putting together packages for several people we’ve met and become friends with this year while volunteering at our local mission. I’ll write more about this experience sometime. :)

This time of year is so much fun!

Wiggam’s Birth Story (Baby Kitties!)

This is the post where I pretend to know everything that happened last night in regard to our mama cat, Wiggams. If she were to share her birth story, I’m sure it would be almost identical to the words I will write to share with you.

This, from the one who knows nothing about cats and didn’t even want a cat or any kind of pet until late July when Wiggams showed up and took over our porch. What can I say? She’s a sweet cat. And she eats bunnies. Love her.

wiggams coffee 3

Well, said sweet cat had been getting wider by the day (and not from eating bunnies). All day Thursday I felt she was moving slowly and sluggishly. Basically it reminded me of how I felt right before giving birth. Obviously, I could relate to Wiggams since cats and humans are almost exactly the same with so few differences. Hmmm, I wondered. Baby time?? We gave her some extra love and re-washed the towels we’d put in a box for her.

Around 5pm, I heard her meowing loudly right outside my office window. I didn’t realize she could see me through the window and screen from the porch, but as I looked over from my office chair, not only did she look me right in the eyes through the window, she meowed again loudly as if to say, “What is going on? I don’t feel right. Someone needs to do something!”

I gave her a look of, “Ohh, Wiggams. I have to get some work done. This is the first I’ve sat at my desk all day long. Go take a sip of water.” (Inside joke. That is always my go-to instruction to anyone with a need, “Go take a sip of water.” It is my be-all-and-end-all. It solves everything.)

Wiggams was less than okay that I didn’t move to get up. She responded by meowing again and slamming her front paws onto my office window screen, looking at me with wild eyes. “Get out here, NOW!” she screamed. I promise. I’m not making this up.

I left my chair and went outside. She meowed and rubbed up against my leg, then tried to crawl up my leg, then meowed loudly again. All the while, I was gently rubbing her back. She got sad anytime I stopped rubbing, so I kept rubbing. Dude, I never wanted anyone to touch my back when I was in labor. Maybe cats are different from humans after all.

Suddenly she bristled, which I took to mean, get your hand off my back. Okay then. You’re done with the rubbing. I get it. Don’t touch the back.

I ran back into the house and up to the dryer to get the clean towels, ran back outside and put them into Wiggams’ box, then walked Wiggams to the box. I put the box in a little cubby under our porch and told her, “Hey, if in fact you’re getting ready to have those kitties, this is the perfect spot. Clean towels, cozy environment…and conveniently we’ll know where to find you and the babes.” Yes, I really did say all of those words. I was certain she understood. Just call me Dr. Doolittle.

She was done with me at this point, so I went back to work in the house. I told Matt and the boys about Wiggams’ weird behavior and said that I wouldn’t be surprised if we had baby kitties the next morning.

To Be Continued

Just kidding. That’s just mean.

The next morning, I was getting ready to head to Lincoln again for a follow-up doctor appointment for our sick boy. At ten minutes before departure time, I heard a knock at the door. There stood our next-door neighbor, cautiously (so that the boys wouldn’t hear or see) letting me know that he’d found a baby kitten on a cement pad on his property. It hadn’t survived. What would he like me to do? He didn’t want our boys to be upset.

Side note: This neighbor has been so kind to Wiggams ever since she showed up here. He is the first to get to pick a kitten (we had already arranged this), especially after all his extra kindness today.

Knowing that Wiggams and (hopefully) more baby kitties were somewhere out there, several of us bundled up and searched all over our property and our neighbor’s.

Suffice it to say that I am not the Cat Whisperer that I claimed to be the night before. Wiggams certainly hadn’t taken me up on the box with towels plan. Or any of the other logical suggestions I’d made for potential birthing centers.

I had to stop my search to head out of town for the doctor appointment. We all figured Wiggams would come out of hiding when she was hungry. The day commenced.

Early this afternoon, Matt texted me this:

baby kitties

Kittens!

Our neighbor had finally found them. They were (of all places) in a trashcan full of sticks and debris on our neighbor’s property. I couldn’t get home fast enough. Sweet, sweet, baby kitties!

As far as we can tell at this point, there were four kittens total. Two did not survive. Two are safe and snug…with their mama in a pile of sticks in a trash can.

I have to continue to remind myself that cats have had babies for thousands of years without my help and that Wiggams is fine. I have asked her several times if she needs anything. After all, after I had my babies I needed people to bring me food and slippers. I just did. Right now, she’s pretty much like – Back off. I’ll see you in a few days.

She found her way to our porch this afternoon and ate an enormous amount of food. This was comforting to all of us.

I look forward to sharing more with you as I learn more. I’m sure that once Wiggams is up for it, she will give me all the details. In the meantime, we’re coming up with names for the two kittens.

The little gray/black one is Neymar (named after Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, a professional Brazilian soccer player). We’re considering Lionel for the little ginger-colored kitten (after Lionel Messi, pro Argentine soccer player). By the way, some pro soccer players we love really don’t have good cat names. Not criticizing. Just saying. Also, it’s possible we all take kitten naming way too seriously.

Stay tuned for more of the cat drama at our house. As Asa (our college freshman) said as I texted him throughout the day with updates, “I feel like there’s an episode of Curious George going on at our house today.” Yes. That describes this day perfectly. I may have to get myself a tall yellow hat.

A Cat Update. I Don’t Even Know How To Say This.

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Several of you warned us. Many of you suggested that we do it sooner rather than later. But truly we don’t know what we’re doing here, and we didn’t know that sooner really meant, “No really. Soooooooner!” Like several weeks ago sooner.

eheh

Don’t mind me. I’m going to ramble on for a bit. I’m simply avoiding the issue. I’m hanging my head and peeking up at you sheepishly. I can’t quite come right out and say it. I’m trying. Really.

So it went something like this:

Malachi and I were outside together a few days ago. Wiggams walked up as she usually does, ready for a little snuggle. Suddenly, I gasped in shock. Malachi looked at me like I was crazy. In a weird little high pitched voice I said, “Wiggams. Whoa. Wiggams! Say it isn’t so. Wiggams, what in the world??” Malachi was like, “What, Mom? What?”

I told Malachi my suspicions. We asked Wiggams to spill it. “Out with it, Wiggams! Is it true? Is it??” Wiggams just purred and rubbed up against my leg. For a woman, she sure doesn’t add much to conversation around here.

I was in denial for the rest of the day. (I still can’t say the words.)

We showed her to Matt when he got home. We all circled around her, eyeing her with scrutiny. Together we decided resolutely that Wiggams had simply eaten an entire rabbit (family). Indeed. That had to be it. There was no other possible explanation for her widening belly.

Asa and Brittany came by later that evening. We told them our suspicions and asked Brittany what she knew about cats. She knew significantly more than we, and also she might be a little bit better at living in reality. She looked Wiggams over thoroughly, and said something like, “Well, your suspicions were correct. She did not eat a rabbit.”

So my friends. I guess it’s time to officially announce that Malachi is going to be a grandpa.

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I’m just. I can’t. It’s so…

eheh.

I can’t help but think that Bob Barker would be so disappointed in us. (If you’re in the Drew Carey generation, this makes no sense. Unless he says it too. I haven’t watched the show in a while. Does he say it too? Again, I’m rambling.)

My research tells me that 1-8 kittens should arrive….umm perhaps as soon as within the next couple of weeks?? (Apparently by the time a cat begins to widen in the middle there are only a couple weeks left. Help me out here, cat lovers. I only know about human babies.)

But speaking of cat lovers, so what if I am one now? Maybe I recovered from my shock and got really excited about seeing baby kitties on our place soon. Maybe I even sometimes let Wiggams crawl up on my lap while I’m having a cup of coffee in the sunshine.

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Maybe I even make weirdo cutesy cat faces at her.

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Thank you, Grandpa Malachi, for documenting my weird cat lady faces.

As soon as there is kitten news to share, you’ll be the first (few thousand) to know. We’ve already promised one kitten to our neighbor. Any other takers? And yes, Bob, Drew, and everyone else who told me to do this sooner rather than later – after the kittens are born and have been enjoyed, weaned, and shared – we will really and for real get Wiggams fixed.

eheh

Gratituesday: My BFF Jen Hatmaker

Did you know? Jen Hatmaker is my BFF. So what if we’ve never actually met?

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This message brought to you by a refreshed and relaxed me who just returned home from…wait for it…a girl weekend.

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I know. A little get-away like this doesn’t seem like much. But remember who I live with. I love all of my many male people so, so much. But this weekend I got to go to where there were all women, all the time. For 26 hours.

Here’s part my private Facebook thread conversation with friends before leaving Friday:

Tonya: What are you guys wearing tonight/tomorrow?

Emily: Jeans, tennis shoes…

Me: Capris and comfy flip flops. Debating on a bra. #girlweekend

Of course I was serious. So off we went to the Women of Faith conference. (Fully clothed, with all appropriate underthings in place.) The closer we got, the more excited we got.

Now I’ve got to tell you something before going any farther. I am not one to be star struck. Our family has been to Newsboys concerts in which Michael Tate was close enough that we could reach out and stroke his hair (which we did not do). All my guys were like, “Dude, that is Michael Tate!!” and I’m all chill with, “Now which one is he again?” We’ve been to a Toby Mac concert where we were sitting so close that the sweat from his brow could have sprayed our cheeks. We rocked out with Lecrae and loved it. But hey. These are just regular (very famous) people. No need to get all silly about it.

But…Jen Hatmaker

All that went out the window though, because this weekend, here’s what I discovered. Sometimes you just need to get silly. Need I remind you of the lack of male people in the arena this weekend? Not to mention my complete lack of any responsibility or need for thinking, answering questions, or any other such mothering or wifing on my agenda for 26 hours. This brought out my silly. I’m not even ashamed about how totally age 12 I was acting half the time. For real – laughter is so good for the soul, as is quality time with girl people who speak my language.

So guess what? My favorite author and best friend, Jen Hatmaker, was going to be speaking at the conference. If you do not read every word that she writes, I encourage you to change that immediately. I adore her writing style, but mostly her heart for Jesus and people. I’d never heard her speak before (which is so odd seeing as we are best friends and all.) While I was looking forward to many things about the weekend, I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing Jen. (I dropped the last name here because we are on a first name basis, obviously.)

Here’s where I started to get silly. I mean, I already was silly, because #girlweekend. But as my friends and I were talking more and the conference was about to start, our hashtag turned from #girlweekend into #mybestfriendjenhatmaker (because my friends claim her too).

When we first saw her come out to be introduced with the rest of the speakers, I got so excited I actually jumped up and down and pointed (see age 12 behavior admission above). This is when I knew, whoa, I cannot even believe how excited I am that she is here. I now want to turn into a weirdy weirdo about this. I just love her so much.

At this point, since she was so closely in front of me, I decided I’d best try to get a picture. It was either that or holler her name, jump over eight people, and grab her into a big bear hug so we could start catching up on the past 40-whatever years we’ve missed out on together. I totally could have done it (like a weirdy weirdo), but I settled for a picture. (You’re welcome, Jen.)

Allow me to now present to you, the Jen Is About To Be Introduced and I’m Seeing Her For the First Time Scrapbook. What? The only reason I took so many shots was because I hoped to get at least one good one (which I did not). It’s okay though. I don’t need no stinking picture. To be star struck is sooo silly.

Here is #mybestfriendjenhatmaker standing beside another conference speaker when she first came out from back stage and stood eight people in front of me:

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Here’s another of her smiling and talking to that same other conference speaker. Told you I didn’t get any good pictures. Being a groupie is not my gift.

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Here’s another in which she continues to talk expressively with her hands. Isn’t that so endearing? Yes. It is very endearing.

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Jen, pointing to the left.

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Jen linking arms with other speakers while the lights went down.

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Jen sitting in the chair farthest left by the stage where she would later impart wisdom and humor and blessing.

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The evening continued with worship, fun, and speakers. And also #mybestfriendjenhatmaker was there.

By the end of Friday night, I was at a high point of silly and decided to just go with it because it was #girlweekend and I was having so much fun. This is why, as my friends and I were leaving the conference arena and we walked by the very chair where #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting, I was all, “Ooh, there’s her chair, I’m going to touch it!” One thing led to another and well, I have no idea how I ended up sitting there, but would you just look at that?

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There’s me. In the very chair #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting on.

Well anyway. I had a super fun weekend. It was a blessing to see #mybestfriendjenhatmaker and hear her heart on stage. If you haven’t already, go right away and read her new book, For the Love.

Now I am back home and no longer acting like I’m 12, nor am I speaking girl language because of all of the obvious male household mothering and wifing reasons. (Spell check does not like the word wifing. I think it is a brilliant word, so you just need to get over it, spell check. What makes you think you are the spelling authority? My brilliant words trump your red squiggles of dismay.)

While I found the Women of Faith conference to be less meaty overall compared to last year, I still feel filled up because I had so much stinkin’ fun. I have not let my guard down and laughed so hard in months.

Also, I really recognized the value of enjoying friendships this weekend. While I’d love to have a sit down with #mybffjenhatmaker sometime because I appreciate her Spirit-filled life and work – lemme just tell you how blessed I am with the women right here in my life, right here on my porch, right here in this very place.

I am loved by many. I have many to love. Life is fun and full and rich.

May we live life entirely. May we see people through the eyes of Jesus. May we love and be loved, bless and be blessed.

And every few months, may we all have the chance to act the part of a silly 12 year old, laughing for hours until we almost pee (because you are – in real life – much older than 12 and your bladder does not agree with your choice to revert to that time of life).