Enjoy the Mess of Vacation

It’s family vacation time! We have a tradition of going to Orange Beach Alabama (next town East of Gulf Shores) every year with the whole family. We rent a condo on the beach each year and enjoy our traditions. The in-laws have been coming down here every year for about 15 years and this is my 11th year since joining the family. Zac and I had just started dating when I first started coming in 2006. Back then it was just the 6 of us, My husbands family and the two “girlfriends”. 

So much has changed since that first trip for me in 2006. There have been 2 weddings and now 4 kids in a 6 year time span making us a party of 10. We have gone from easy going relaxing beach vacations to hectic Moments that even Clark W. Griswold wouldn’t envy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nothing ever goes as planned on vacation, all parents know that, but we would like to think that we make the best of our Family Vacation Mess year after year making amazing memories for our kids. It’s in those Clark W. Griswold messes that we make the best memories. In any of life’s unplanned Griswold moments everyone has two options, let it ruin your day, or make it an adventure. I am thankful that my husband and I were both raised by parents who always chose the latter, because it’s in those adventures that we have some of our best memories. 

For example:
Rainy days in Disney. I actually hope for a rainy day when I’m there. Growing up as a Disney Kid those were some of my fondest memories with my family we threw on a yellow Mickey poncho and braced the storms. While all of the people flocked out of the park we had our pick of any ride that was up and running in the rain.
Rainy days at the beach. Some of our best beach memories have been made when the dark clouds roll in on the beach. We have a canopy tent set up every year and when the rain starts, even in the downpours as long as the lightning and heavy wind stay away, we all move our beach chairs in a circle around the cooler and hang out enjoying the rain under the tent.
Some of our other favorite messes include Losing the transmission in the car in Southern Alabama at 8am in the literal definition of no where on our anniversary. Driving in first gear to the nearest mechanic and getting towed to Montgomery. We left the car, rented the only thing we could find to fit all of our stuff and hoped we would figure out a way to get the car home.
Losing the transmission in the rental in Vegas after a side trip to Page Arizona (highly recommended, ill post that trip sometime). We were pulling into Vegas, driving up the strip, when in true Griswold form we lose everything but first gear. So here we are with cars flying by us flipping us off trying to limp the car to the Mirage where there is a Rental Car branch. (Yes We are hard on transmissions)
Cooper throwing up all over the table at a BBQ restaurant in northern Alabama on our way to vacation. This prompted a full outfit change by both him and I. We threw our clothes away because they were too gross to keep in the car for the couple hours left in the car. This was followed by Zac locking the keys in the car right after the outfit change, so we had to call a lock smith. I’m pretty sure those people have our picture hanging up as people to never let back in. 

This vacation started off with Cooper waking up with a bad cough that got worse, he was miserable, and didn’t even want to play. We had prescriptions called in, but the pharmacies aren’t open past 6. We ended up at Urgent care for a breathing treatment and a dose of steroid. This was followed by 2 days of rain on our beach days. Our professional picture day was scheduled for Monday morning at 6am. We woke up at 430 to torrential downpours and lightning. To me it doesn’t matter these are great memories. All of the normal beach days run together, but it’s the days that are a hot mess that stand out as the best memories. We will always remember the night we had to take coop to the urgent care, and the day we did rapid fire photography session in a 15 min break in the rain. 

My favorite memory so far this vacation has been breakfast after our pictures in the thunderstorm. We got to sit at a restaurant on the water and watch it storm as the only people there. The kids were running around having fun, and it was a great morning. Even though we had all spent an hour getting ready just to get soaked on the beach for pictures. 

Enjoy the mess, it’s the best part of the adventure. It for sure makes the best memories. I hope that my kids grow up and remember these moments. The perfect days make good memories but the messy days make memorable stories. 

The Cooking Kid: Raising Foodies by Teaching Them to Cook, and ending those dinner time fights

I don’t know about all the other parents out there, but when it comes to dinner time in our house it is always a fight that goes something like this:

Kid: Im starving, I want a snack

Mom: Dinner is almost done, no snacks. You can eat your dinner

Kid: (whining, sometimes with tears) Buuuuut IM STARVING

Mom: (15 min later, Dinner is served) Ok get up in your chair and eat.

Kid: Pokes around his plate with his fingers

Mom: Please use your fork

Kid: Takes two bites and starts playing with the dogs that have positioned themselves underneath him

Mom: I thought you were STARVING why don’t you eat your dinner

Kid: (Laying across his char on his stomach) But I’m Full

Mom: Get up in your chair and eat

Kid: How many more bites

Mom: 10

Kid: 10 (crying) that’s a lot of bites

Mom: Just eat your dinner


Mom: You have only eaten 2 bites


Mom: You aren’t getting out of your chair until you eat 10 bites


I could go on and on and on and on and on. It is a frustrating process for both my husband and I as well as my 5 year old.  I don’t know why dinner time is like this everyday, he is a good eater for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. I know that after talking to other Mom’s that I’m not the only one that goes through this on a daily basis.

Cooking in our house is an experience, an event, an adventure if you will, it is our relaxing and unwinding time.  We love cooking.  We truly do enjoy the whole process, adding flavors, stirring, tasting, adding, having a glass of wine and just enjoying each others company, and the company of anyone else who may have came over for dinner. My husband and I can take something that would take anyone else an hour to make, and make it a 3 hour ordeal.  This drives some of our family members crazy when they come over, because they are cook it and eat it kind of people, but we enjoy the process.

The daily dinner fight has made our relaxing evening cooking experience not so fantastic any more.  It wasn’t even that he didn’t like the food, because he did and every once in a while he would eat well and say that he liked it.  He just didn’t like eating dinner.

Usually when we are cooking Cooper would be in his playroom or outside playing. He has always been interested in cooking and would ask to help, so i would give him small jobs like stirring or dropping pasta and send him back to playing.

Teach them to cook

So after the same fight day in and day out, and letting Coop help cook here and there with dinner, he started to become more interested in the cooking process. He would ask if he could make us food, which usually consisted of water and a bunch of different spices in the pantry mixed together and warmed up in a sauce pan. It was disgusting but we would try it and tell him how great it was. Thats when I had my AHA moment. “I should teach him to cook”, “He can help make his own dinners”.

That’s exactly what we did.  We started engaging him in the cooking  process every night. We would make him taste the different spices before they were added so that he knew what he was adding and how it tasted, and he knew how it would affect the flavor of the dish. He loved it. He would help stir, and add, then he would taste it and help decide what else it needed to make it perfect.  We even bought him some kid friendly knives so that he could help us chop. They were nylon knives made by The Curious Chef. They are fantastic and I highly recommend them if you have a Kid Cook in your house, as they are designed to not cut skin, but will chop veggies pretty well. We got them on amazon for 9 bucks.

All of a sudden he couldn’t wait to try the different meals that he helped make. He thought everything that he made was “really good” and “the best thing ever”.  Now these weren’t new things that we were cooking. They were the same things that we have always cooked, the same things that he would always throw a fit about eating. The difference was that HE made it. This changed everything.  Instead of fighting to get him to eat, he was excited about cooking and eating what he made. He was learning to love cooking just like we did.

Several months ago he was helping me make shrimp pasta. I was turned around doing something at the sink, when I heard him explaining how to make the shrimp pasta dish. I turned around thinking he had probably called a grandparent to find he had proped up my phone on the counter and he was videoing himself cooking. When I asked him what he was doing he said he was making a cooking show for food network like the ones we watch on TV. He did it all by himself starting and stopping the video and talking about the different steps he went through. I threw it together in iMovie for him and let him watch it. It was pretty good for a 5 year old, he’s a ham. He wanted to know when it would be on TV so I uploaded it to YouTube and sent it to some friends. He was in awe that he could watch himself on TV (with the help of Apple TV).

Now a days dinner has gotten better in our house.  He doesn’t cook every night with us, but he does cook a lot with us and he enjoys the process.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have nights where we fight the dinner fight with him, but those nights are more sporadic and not nightly any more. I’m proud that he is becoming a good cook, and learning to enjoy things in life. We try to teach him to see everyday as an adventure an cooking is no different. Every meal we cook is an adventure, we are always adding something different or trying something a different way just to make something even better. It’s a life lesson that I’m thankful my Son is learning early, and we are making memories doing it. Most importantly it’s great family time spent together, and that’s what it’s all about.

Check out Cooper’s latest cooking video below from our YouTube page, and take a peek at some of our other videos. Subscribe you our blog and YouTube channel to get more adventure from The Adventuring Family. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1YN_9W9lOg7MvSjEkUxkbg




Independence Day Weekend Fun

Happy Independence Day!! The 4th of July is one of our family’s favorite holidays. It includes most of our favorite things; family, friends, cookouts, the pool, and ice cold drinks. With the 4th falling on a Tuesday this year, our favorite fireworks display in our community decided to celebrate early on Saturday, so we did the same. 
We rounded up our closest family and friends and threw a pitch in around our pool. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 80’s. We decided to make marinated pork steak skewers and homemade mac and cheese. The pork steak skewers are Cooper’s absolute favorite. They were quite a crowd pleaser as well. It was a great day to hang out by the pool and enjoy the day with everyone.

Once everyone had their fill of food we started loading up the Jeeps to head to fireworks adventure (Colt stayed home to snuggle with Grandma). Our favorite spot is on a neighboring golf course. The course is closed down and everyone brings their own lawn chairs and blankets and sits on the fairways to view the show. The fireworks show is quite spectacular, however, just as spectacular is the laser show that accompanies the fireworks. Sitting on the ground and looking up on the laser show is mesmerizing and brings a whole different experience to the fireworks. Cooper is always amazed at the lasers, as are the adults!

Besides the fireworks and laser show there is plenty to do at the fireworks display. For the kids, there are inflatables, games, and plenty of light up accessories. Local business and food trucks set up shop to sell their goodies. There is even a beer garden for adults. It is such a great environment for everyone in the family.

One of my personal favorite things they do is at the start of the night. Everyone is asked to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together; followed by the National Anthem and GOD Bless America. For me personally, this is such a great thing to teach our kids. On our way over to the display we took a few minutes to talk to Cooper about what the holiday means and why we are celebrating. I’m sure it is hard for a 5-year-old to comprehend how lucky he truly is to live in our great county and have the freedoms that we take for granted every day, but we made sure he knew it wasn’t just about fireworks. We also always try to remind him that our military men and women make all of this possible.

The fireworks were great as usual, everyone had an absolute blast. After our small adventure we headed back home to get some much needed rest. The rest of the long weekend looks about the same. Cookouts, family, friends, drinks, and some much needed pool time. Thanks for taking the time to check in on our adventures, we really appreciate it. We hope everyone has a safe and adventurous holiday weekend.