A Wife Loved Like The Church

Posts Tagged ‘Travels

Jonathan and I both love to travel. We have been everywhere from San Francisco to Prague. We have slept in classy 4 star hotels and dirty hostels. Over the past 10 years, we’ve shared some amazing memories through our travels.

And then we had kids.

Let me just get this out there :: Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. They’re fun and I genuinely enjoy being with them. But, if you want a “just like old times” trip, your kids are going to make you want to gouge your eyes out. With a plastic fork. From an Indian food restaurant in Oklahoma City you never {and I mean never} should have tried. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

Yet, even with the eye gouging moments, we make it a point to take our kids to as many places as we can because we want them to grow up loving to travel. They’ve been every where from San Diego to Washington D.C. with several areas in between.

Why travel with little kids? They won’t even remember.

True. I highly doubt Joseph will ever remember that time he saw the White House {in fact, he could care less about the White House, but he was pretty fascinated by the fountain on the North Lawn}. But, our girls {who are now 4 and 5} still talk about visiting LegoLand last August. So clearly, they remember something. Yet, our travels aren’t just for them to remember-that-one-time, but to prepare them for when they are older. Traveling while they are young is an investment for their future. Teaching them to have manners in new places, make insta-friends at new parks, enjoy seeing the culture of new places. None of this can they fully do now, but one day they will.

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

Traveling with kids is so expensive. I could never afford it.

You are telling me. Come November, we have to buy 5 plane tickets when we fly. That is easily $1500. Did you read that right? $1500. Oy. I need a drink. So, what do you do if you can never, ever, afford to fly somewhere? Drive. It takes longer, but we’ve done many 1000+ mile road trips. With three kids. Under the age of 5. {See above paragraph about Indian food in OKC.} If you can’t bear the thought of driving that far with your kids {or husband, ha!}, find a closer place. We live in Austin and have made many a vacation trips out of the surrounding cities. Even a day trip can be an eye opening experience for your children. Once at your destination, you can either stay with family/friends, or find deals on a hotel. We’ve had major luck with the “big name” travel sites on finding great hotel deals.

With the right planning, you can make your trip fairly inexpensive. Make your own meals. Stay at a campsite. Find family discounts at area events. Make a budget, make a plan and stick to it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

I realize not every family can travel. The expense and time off work just aren’t permissible. And frankly, not every family wants to travel. It can be overwhelming and chaotic. But, it can be amazing and incredibly rewarding. If you set the right expectations.

How to have good expectations when traveling with kids.

I’ve learned the best thing for our family is to have a well laid out plan. If we are visiting a new city, map out the top things we really want to do, followed by the things we would like to do. On a recent trip to D.C. our list included the White House and The Museum of Natural History. Everything we did or saw after that was mere bonus. Having a plan in place, will help you prioritize and stay focused.

Realize that when traveling with little kids, they will be more of everything. More tired. More hyper. More cranky. More chill. More nervous. More excited. And it can vary by day {heck, with my kids it can vary by hour}. Be prepared with extra of everything. Extra water. Extra snacks. Extra time. Extra lovies. Extra {extra} patience. You’re asking a lot from these little people, so set your expectation accordingly. And give them lots of praise.

Julia can become very shy when she’s in a new setting. The problem is, we Windhams don’t do shy. Jonathan and I are both quite outspoken and encourage our children to be the same. We spend a ton of time coaching Julia on how to use her voice and speak up to other adults {or other children she wants to meet}. It’s taken countless failures, but our last trip to the East Coast showed me just how far she had come. On our flights she was talking to the attendants, while out and about she was making friends with other littles, and when visiting museums she was asking the curators for more information. Every time she stepped out of her shell, we were quick to praise her efforts. In her world, this is a huge step and I want her to see how well she has done.

Day trip to Sea World - San Antonio, just me and the littles

Day trip to Sea World – San Antonio, just me and the littles

Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway. 

Our travels as a family aren’t always rosy. When we were in D.C., Jonathan and I spent a good 30 minutes arguing because we were under prepared for the day {think rain but no umbrella, lots of walking but no stroller}. Our kids were grumpy, tired and generally off balance. But, as Jonathan and I changed our attitudes and reset our expectations, the day ended up being really fun. So while traveling with little kids can suck at times, you gotta push through and keep doing it anyway. The long term reward is worth the momentary road bumps.

Now take a deep breathe, make a plan, and start your travels!

The Fab Five is heading to Colorado in two weeks!

To say that we are all excited is quite the understatement. Our trip is just about all we talk about these days. Julia keeps asking “Are we going to Colorado the next day?”, while Hannah is telling everyone “I’m turning three and going on a plane to Colorado.”

Jonathan and I have never been to Colorado, so we are thrilled to finally be visiting. And it doesn’t hurt that our friends post pictures like this ::

{picture courtesy of L. Rohlf}

Yeah, folks, those are mountains. That you can see from a house. Like, really, how sweet is that?!

We are spending the week visiting one of our favorite families, the Rohlfs, and watching one of our sweetest friends, Amanda, get married ::

{Me and Amanda, NYE 2010. So much awesome, so few words to explain it}

We don’t have major plans on our agenda {you know, other than being in a wedding}, but will most definitely be seeing some sweet sites and spending lots of time with sweet friends.


The girls and I arrived back home late Tuesday night. To say that it was a whirlwind of a trip is a slight understatement. Little sleep was had {mostly on my part}, add in some bed wetting and mama-sickness and it was a busy time. Even with some draw backs, it was such a great trip celebrating my littlest brother’s graduation and my best friend’s wedding. And let’s be honest, most importantly all the flights went smoothly {even had a few “your girls are so well behaved” comments} and the girls seem to be back on track for our normal lives.

After six days in Tennessee, I headed to Chicago Friday night for my best friend, Carrie’s wedding. We spent all day Saturday doing wedding preparations and pampering Carrie for her big day {which was Sunday afternoon}. It was fabulously fun and Carrie looked amazing.

My Favorite Shot of the Couple, even if fuzzy {Taken by Meredith L.}


It was such a sweet, sweet time to see Carrie and Jamil commit their lives to one another. From the time I met Jamil, 3 years ago, I knew that he was such a perfect match for Carrie. Endearing, loving and kind-hearted, just like her. It was an honor to be a part of their ceremony and stand up there while they shared their vows.

There was one minor draw back at the wedding….

I fainted.

Yes, you read that right. I fainted. I knew it was coming. I started getting overheated and lightheaded and just knew that I was going to faint. Apparently, I did it gracefully {at least that’s what I was told} and out of the way. I stepped out of line and walked into a hallway just a few steps away. Thankfully, I fell with most of my weight on my arm/side and protected my stomach from hitting the ground. I have a midwife appointment later today {previously set}, though I’ve felt baby move since then and am not worried. At the time, I wasn’t too worried, just extremely upset about having “ruined” the ceremony. Especially because it happened right before their first kiss. I have good timing. {Currently taking applications as “that” bridesmaid.}

The rest of the night went perfectly. And Carrie looked radiant the whole time.

Notice the fireplace? That's were the procession stood, thus contributing to my overheating.

We were able to drive around Chicago after the ceremony to take pictures with the photographer. I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I know they will turn out great. It was a lot of fun being out and about in the city, all dressed up and taking pictures.

In order to save money, I spent the night at Jamil and Carrie’s new place since they were in a hotel. That’s where the real fun began. And by fun, I mean not fun. I woke up around 2 am sick as could be. At first I thought perhaps I had gotten food poisoning, but then my mom suggested it was my body’s reaction to major fatigue. How I made it from the apartment, to the L, to the airport and home is beyond me {lots of prayer}. Once at my parent’s I slept all day and felt much better come Tuesday.

The week/weekend was a grand adventure that I will cherish forever {well, except for the whole fainting and getting sick part}. I had a chance to see Carrie enter into her newest {and best} stage of her life and to celebrate with my brother, John, as he goes on to college this fall.
Visit Alicia at Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures Thursday.

As I mentioned yesterday, we took an impromptu trip to San Antonio this week. As we were heading out of town, Jonathan turns to me and says “Do you want to swing by the AT&T Center?” Now, my friends, that might mean nothing to you. But the AT&T Center is where our beloved Spurs play. I laughed and said “Sure, why not.” Jonathan’s face lit up with shock and excitement. He then asked “Would you want to watch the game if I could get tickets?” Of course! We found parking, discussed what we thought to be a reasonable price for tickets {since we’d already missed the first half}, and Jon went off in search of tickets.

After about 5-10 minutes, Jonathan comes back to the car with these:

I’m not sure what to point out first. The fact that it was a LAKERS game or that we are only TWELVE rows from the court!? I had no idea that we were playing the Lakers. In my little basketball world, the Lakers are my arch nemesis. And to only be 12 rows from the court? Seriously does it get any better?

Actually, it does.

Did you see the price of the tickets? Look really close. $175.35. Not for the pair. Just for one.

I’m sure you’re saying, “Sarah, um, that’s not better.”

But wait for it….

We got the tickets for free.


This family was coming out of the game and Jonathan asked them where he could buy tickets. They said he could have theirs, since they were leaving for the night.

So, on Tuesday, December 28th, our family went to our first Spurs v. Lakers home game. I hope there are many more to come.

Visit Alicia at Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures Thursday and Jill at Diaper Diaries for more Things I Love Thursday.

Top Ten {Tuesday} It’s been 7 years since I was in Texas for Christmas. Since 2004 I have celebrated Christmas in colder climate areas. So it’s been a transition to go from 30 degree weather to 70+ degree weather during the holidays. But there have been some great holiday highlights over the past several weeks:

1. Random Christmas trees on the highway – For the last couple of decades, “mysterious” Austinites have crept out at night to decorate cedar trees along a major highway. Nothing feels more festive than driving down the street and seeing 100’s of trees decorated.

{photo credit}

2. Outdoor Shopping – Outdoor shopping centers are popular in Texas, since it never gets too cold to deter shoppers. We visited the newest center, The Domain, this last weekend. It was so much fun walking the strip, looking at all the beautiful displays and ending it with a huge Christmas tree.

3. Food Selection – This has more to do with being in a bigger city in general, but I can’t get over all the wonderful options for food that we have. And while that doesn’t seem very Christmas-y, it is when you’re preparing to cook for your whole family.

4. Zilker Park – A huge park just south of downtown, Zilker Park {home of Austin City Limits Festival} does a wonderful Christmas tree “poll”. It’s a poll that is shaped like a tree, with the shape outlined in lights. It’s a sight to behold.

{photo credit}

5. Trail of Lights – The area in and around Zilker Park is decorated with lights, as a trail leading to and through the park. I’ve seen it in the past and it’s beautiful. Sadly, this year the city decided to cancel the trail of lights to conserve money.

6. Being outside. A lot – Since the weather isn’t cold, the girls and I have had some great chances to be outside during the day. I could get use to spending the entire holiday season playing at the park {just get back to me come July!}.

7. Holiday parties – I went to a cookie baking/exchange party on Saturday with a group of women I met from church. We have two holiday events we have been invited to this week. That’s good ol’ Texas hospitality at work!

8. Jonathan’s work schedule – Jonathan is working just three days this week. And then only two days next week. His company has an unwritten rule that employees take plenty of time off during Christmas to spend time with family. It’s awesome.

9. Reindeer cars – Maybe this is popular elsewhere, I know I’ve seen it just a few times before in Iowa. But, people here have gone crazy with dressing their cars up like reindeer. And it’s hilarious.

{photo credit}

10. The weather – This, actually, is the only thing I haven’t been loving about Texas at Christmastime. I know the snow gets old {just as hot weather gets, well, hot}, but it hasn’t felt quite like Christmas without seeing white covering the ground.

What are some of your favorite city holiday highlights?

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

{photo credit}

Between packing, moving and living in transit, I haven’t cook for nearly three weeks. Sure, I’ve put together a meal here and there, but I haven’t had a real menu in weeks. We don’t have our things yet {another story, another time}, but I do have a crock pot and a few borrowed pots and pans. The girls and I went to H-E-B this morning to restock our pantry. It felt good to be able to shop and buy good foods. I think our entire family will be happy not see a fast food bag for a really long time. And if nothing else, my hips will be happier.

This weeks meals are pretty simple, since I can’t bake anything yet. We have a lot of chicken that we got on sale and are going to try to eat up before buying anything else. Here’s what I have planned:

Monday – Creamy Chicken with Rice

Tuesday – Chicken Tacos with Beans

Wednesday – Veggie Stir Fry with Rice

Thursday – Ribs with Mashed Potatoes

Friday – Fish and Pasta

Saturday – Soup and Sandwiches {lunch}

Sweet Potato Burritos {dinner}

Sunday – Sweet Potato Burritos leftovers {lunch}

– Grilled Chicken Salad {lunch}

Hopefully by next Monday I will be back to baking, making homemade rolls and feeling more like a real cook!

Visit Laura at I’m an Organized Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday.

At some point late Saturday night, I announced to Jonathan “I’ve forgotten to take our family picture, let’s make sure to do it tomorrow before you leave.” Then at some point late Sunday night {well after Jon left} I announced to my SIL “I forgot to take our family picture before Jon left.” I soon came up with what I think was a brilliant idea. I asked my 7-year old niece to draw a family picture:

Grandma, Jonathan, Sarah, Julia, Hannah, Jack

November has been a crazy, crazy month. The second week of the month, Jonathan accepted an offer at a company in Austin, Texas. This new job is an amazing opportunity for Jon and we are thrilled to see how God will be using his talents while there. He started the job Monday and is spending this week on a company scavenger hunt – a way the company gets new employees to learn all about company history and their fellow co-workers. Pretty cool idea, huh?

Julia turned 3-years old on the 23rd. Wow. I can’t even fathom that three years have passed. On one hand it’s flown by, but at the same time I can’t remember life without my precious little girl. I’d love for you to read my birthday letter to her: Happy Birthday, Julia Mabel.

Hannah has really started talking more and more. She’s added “Katie {her cousin}”, “guys {as in “hey guys”}, “yes”, “Julia {which sounds more like Ju}” and “grandma”. Hannah is really claiming her own and making me see that she is a force to be reckoned with. She is showing some stubbornness and making herself known far more than I expected at this age. And topping it off with a fearlessness that puts Julia’s antics to shame. She is keeping us on our toes, there is no doubt about that.

As for me, I’m feeling like I’m just trying to keep up with it all. Aside from packing and moving, not much has happened for me this month. I had started the 30 Day Shred, but couldn’t keep up with it the last few days in Iowa and certainly haven’t been able to while we’re in this holding pattern {Jonathan is in Austin, while the girls and I are in Ft. Worth}. It’s been a trying month at times, dealing with a lot of emotions and changes, but God has really been good to show me His continues faithfulness and love. I will say though, I’m so looking forward to setting up all my Christmas decorations. And don’t be surprised if I leave them up a little longer this year.

Top Ten {Tuesday} Our Thanksgiving was quite the event. Lots {lots} of traveling, eating, shopping and time with family. It was a wonderful time and made me so thankful to see what our future will look like being in the same state with family for the first time in six years.  Here are my top ten highlights from our week:

1. Flying with the girls – I’ll admit I was a little timid about flying solo with both girls, but they did amazing. However, I gave them a candy cane towards the end of the flight which lead to extreme hyperactivity. Never an easy thing when confined to a 3×2 foot space. But at least it was only the last 20 minutes and most of the passengers thought it was cute/funny.

2. Eating Mexican food – I’m sure having Mexican food will eventually get old. But nothing starts off a move to Texas quite like fajitas, queso and warm, fresh tortillas.

3. Baking, baking, baking – I love baking. My sister-in-law loves baking. Put us in the kitchen together making Thanksgiving goodies and we were two happy little mamas.

4. Shopping, shopping, shopping – My SIL, brother and I decided that it would just be a fabulous idea to stay up all night Thursday night/Friday morning to participate in Black Friday shopping. Yeah, maybe that idea ranks up there with giving the girls sugar on a plane.

5. Being with family – I adore my brother’s family. My two nieces are precious and I love seeing them and their interactions with my girls. It’s pure delight. *sigh*

6. Drastic weather change – When I left Iowa it was freezing, hailing and rainy. When I got to Texas it was 85. Now, I’m not thrilled about no longer having winter-ish weather, but I think come January I’ll be pretty happy.

7. Texas – I’m not sure there’s much to say other than “It’s good to be home”. Although, I do feel like I’m on vacation, since we’re still with family while Jonathan is in Austin this week starting work and waiting for the movers to deliver our belongs. Still, just being in Texas is a sweet, sweet thing.

8. Coffee – My SIL makes coffee several times a day. Yesterday we had coffee at breakfast, coffee again after the girls got up from naps and then again when my brother came home from work and made up ice cream lattes. Ah, I could get use to this kind of coffee drinking.

9. Being with family – I know I already said this one, but it’s so warms my heart. I just love the closeness, the familiarity, the feeling of belonging that comes with being with my family.

10. Reliance on God – Despite all my highlights, the last week hasn’t been a cake walk. But God has shown me His continual faithfulness in the midst of trials. Things haven’t gone according to plan, Jonathan is in Austin while we’re in Ft. Worth, our stuff is on a moving van somewhere in the Midwest and life happens. But it’s allowing me to constantly rely on God and not myself.

How was your Thanksgiving? What are your highlights?

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

We got back yesterday from a week long trip to Texas. We traveled down to Houston to celebrate Matt and Kristen’s wedding, then headed to Austin to visit friends, and ended the trip spending time in Ft. Worth with family. It was a wonderful trip and the girls did amazing.

As evidence from the photo, Hannah has discovered her nose. She doesn’t actual pick it, so much as just “hang out” there. I’ve tried discouraging it, but everything I’ve tried just makes her laugh. Hmmm, not quite what I was going for. Other than discovering body parts, Hannah’s vocabulary is increasingly daily. She’s mostly into animals, either saying their names {cat, dog, duck} or making the animal noise associated with them. The newest Hannah-ism – she’s taken to carrying Molly {her bear} around in her mouth while growling. It is hilarious.

Julia seems like she gets older and wiser every second. Jonathan taught her how to wave her index finger and say “I don’t think so”. Oh man, that had us laughing for days. She’s now a little parrot, repeating everything we say. It’s been a good reminder to say good things and speak edifying words. Julia’s also taken to being really interested in the map. Perhaps it’s because of the trip, but she’s always asking us to “show me” where we’re going.

Jonathan has really been enjoying the football season. He’s doing a much better job of keeping track of the teams than I am, which doesn’t really surprise anyone. He hasn’t had as many “honey-do” projects, so he’s weekends have been more free {if that’s actually possible for any husband and dad}. He was a groomsmen in Matt’s wedding and I must say looked quite dashing in his tuxedo.

As for me, I’m always up to some new project. Unfortunately I didn’t make it the whole month without sugar. I cracked at the wedding, when several people said “you aren’t having wedding cake?!”. Shamefully enough, once I caved, I caved big time and consumed too much sugar on our trip. I’m having to evaluate how it’s effected my body {more tired, headaches, etc} to decide if I really want to be intentional in cutting out sugar more long term. As for my crazy 100 mile running challenge, I’m a wee-bit behind. I didn’t do any running while we were gone, but I’m hopeful I can make it up in the coming weeks. We’ll see!

I have a mild obsession with Mexican food. And by mild, I mean, I eat some form of Mexican at least four times a week. I am not exaggerating. It’s mostly bean and cheese tacos, meat tacos or some variation. You’d think I person would grow tired of it after a while, but I haven’t. In fact, I love it so much that since being on our trip I’ve had Mexican nearly everyday. And one day I had it twice.

Tuesday night we had dinner with some friends in Austin. It was a Tex-Mex/Southern joint that served enchiladas on the same menu as chicken fried chicken and burgers. You know, a place a girl like me instantly loved. I was in a burger mood, until our friends and waiter suggested I get the fried avocado. Avocado. Fried. Topped with more avocado. Served with beans and rice. Hallelujah.

I can’t give the meal the justice it deserves. Seriously it was amazing. While we spend the next few days in the Ft. Worth area I am going to try making it for my family {since avocados are so much cheaper here}. Hmmm….. Just writing this makes me hungry.

Visit Alicia at Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures Thursday.

Visit Jill at Diaper Diaries for more Things I Love Thursday.

{photo credit}

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