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Musings From My Hotel Room...

Today as I am writing this I am sitting in our hotel room of our Marriage Workshop...you know, where he works and I shop ;).  And I guess he really wanted to make sure I was doing my fair share because our hotel is RIGHT across the street from the outlet mall. 

What a caring husband, right?

And as I'm sitting here there are so many things I want to share with you that I thought I would just do a bullet point list here and please feel free to comment and share with me your ideas on my random thoughts.  Here we go:

  • Our coffee maker in this hotel room is in the bathroom and I find that completely off-putting.  Am I just a germ a phobe or does that eek you guys out too?  Just seemed like a horrid place to place items when you could have put it on the desk or the dresser or anywhere other than the bathroom.
  • I just have to put this out there that blogging is hard work.  Ugh. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it.  Scratch that.  Almost all of the time I wonder if it is worth it.  I mean, I basically talk to myself here.  It stinks sometimes and when I talk about myself I often feel like a narcissist. Nick and I had an interesting discussion this morning that was about my blog.  I was telling him how all of these other bloggers do "home tours" of their holiday decorations.  I meant to do one at Christmas and didn't and I then I meant to do one at Valentine's and didn't.  It wasn't that I forgot or anything but when I took the photos of my decorations in our home they looked so bleh.  I thought that they looked super cool and impressive at home but through the camera's eye and then staring back at me from my computer screen they just looked simple and blas√©.  So my conversation with Nick was I shared this struggle with him and he thought that me sharing my home decorations would be like a "look at me" type of attitude.  Which I do sometimes feel like it is but then I feel like blogging in general can feel that way.  Which I would never would want to appear that I am doing!  I want to be a help and an encouragement or a "I did this in my home and by-golly you can too" kind of girl.  So I guess with this question I would love to know...would you have loved to of seen my decorations? Does it seem narcissistic?
  • Along those lines I guess the cloudiness of self-doubt has crept in (it always tends to hit me around this time of the year, darn no sun!). But I find myself feeling unable to come up with anything that feels like an original thought to write about or to share or to take photos of and try to make someone's day.  So I'm really, really curious guys...what would you like me to write about?  More deals I find on the great wide-web? More personal stuff?  More homeschool stuff? More recipes?  What?  Please help your friend out and get me going again with motivation.  I would really love to know what you really love to read!
  • Since I'm in a hotel room I feel it is only necessary to bring up the question we all wonder...why does hotel art have to be so gosh darn ugly? Ugh. Just horrid.
  • Am I the only one who finds it incredibly awkward to work out in the hotel gym?  I went down there today and there was a man in there already using the elliptical.  Him and I, in dead silence.  It was super awkward and weird.  With some stranger.  I try to put my headphones on and think I am just here for exercise.  It's just like at the gym back home.  But it's not and it always still feels weird.

So there are my musings this morning from the hotel room here.  I hope you all have a great day! 

And if you get a chance I would love it if you could answer some of my questions :)

Hotel Life with Kids

Our family is a traveling family.  

Not a hand me a tambourine kind of family. 

Or a gypsy kind of family. 

This is the second year of my husband traveling for work and every once in a while the stars align and we get to go with him.  I think that is one of the best rewards of homeschooling...every place is our classroom and most times we can go with him on a whim to wherever the road takes us.  

Now I feel like I should say (in case any big whig corporate people ever stumbled upon this) that we are very picky about traveling with Nick.  We don't cost the business any extra.  When we go out to dinner, he pays for his with his corporate card and the rest of us are on our own ticket.  But when work is already paying for him to drive and stay there then why not take advantage of a deal for our family and snatch it up.  

*My disclaimer here is that upon accepting his position my husband made it clear that his family can travel and that was what he wanted.  They graciously agreed.  So if you are thinking of doing this with your family, please make sure it is okay first.  It makes you feel a whole lot better that you don't have to be sneaky or anything.  Moving on...

As I homeschool the children we are a one-income family meaning that I like to save money wherever possible.  And something about traveling makes the frugality in me come out.  Also, kind of the hobo in me come out.  Or the McGyver-ness of me come out.  Not sure but I start to feel like "give me a coffee maker and an outlet and I'll be good to go".  

I have spent a chunk of my life pinteresting and googling hotel living and while I have found some, I can't say I have been overwhelmed with helpfulness or anything.  

Anyway, since I have stayed in a hotel room with children about 4 times in the past year I feel like I've gotten pretty good at setting up a good base camp and keeping the kids occupied cheaply and easily. So I thought I would share some tips I have.  Whether you are staying a long time or just going somewhere for vacation these will hopefully be helpful to you: 

* Stay at a place with the following: 

-pool. Let's face it, anywhere with a pool makes it feel more like a vacation.  Plus what swimming kiddos can help but have a good nights sleep after swimming?  I pack two bathing suits so I can dry one while they swim again without a cold suit. 

-mini fridge. You can basically bring anything with a mini fridge.  I personally like to bring my own coffee creamer so I can fix my coffee how I like it at home.  When you go out to eat you can also take the leftovers back to the hotel for another meal.  Money saver!!!

-microwave.  Heat up the leftovers.  Bring along popcorn to munch while you watch a movie. Whatever...I'm guessing you know how to work a microwave so I'm moving on. 

-a coffee maker can be your best friend.  Here is what I've done with it.  Made coffee, ha!. Ran hot water through for hot cocoa.  Made hot water for Ramen soup. Made hot water and dumped it into a tub that had a temperature control so I couldn't get the water hot enough.  I am sure you could think of other things. Basically if it has to do with hot water, you could do it with a coffee maker.

Hotel Stays with Kids.  Super Busy at Home.

-free breakfast. Read free breakfast also as: future snacks for your kids.  Most breakfasts have pastries, yogurt cups, and fruit which can all be brought back to the hotel room for a snack for later on. Another thing I will take from there are two coffee cups, packs of hot cocoa, and stirrers.  When we get back from the pool my kids love having hot cocoa to warm up.  I also love getting the hard boiled eggs from the little fridge for myself for a protein packed pick me up in the afternoon.  Also, when you have the mini-fridge you can put all of this in there.  Oh and I have to remind you to grab plastic cutlery!  It's hard to eat ramen without a fork or spoon.  It's very interesting to do!  It feels like some type of youth group game.  Anyway, get silverware. 

Just do it.  I mean it. 

Our two favorite hotel chains so far have been: 

Holiday Inn Express (we have had NO luck with straight up Holiday Inn hotels though)

Springhill Suites (A Mariott Hotel) 

These two have had all of the above necessities for us.  

Here are some helpful items to have/take: 

*Plastic hangers. When we go anywhere it always seems like they have those hangers with the little rod with a ball that attaches to the thing on the rod to become a hanger so you can't steal.  Which by the way do not work too well in the shower.  So I pack 5 little kid plastic hangers so I can hang bathing suits on them and hang them on the shower rod.  Amazingly this works so much better than trying to drape wet suits all over God's creation.  And they dry so much better.  

*A knife.  Not like a shiv or anything but a nice kitchen knife.  A lot of times the buffets have little cups of peanut butter by the bagels so a couple of those with a cut up apple makes for a great afternoon snack for little kids.  

*Plastic Bags. I try to bring a trash bag from home for dirty clothes.  It makes keeping the room tidy with four people so much easier when you can just chuck all of the clothes you've used into one bag.  When we get home that bag goes right to the laundry room and the rest can be put away. I also save plastic bags from take out, purchases, whatever that we collect while there.  I use them for trash.  Hotels must be really proud that they have the world's smallest trashcans because they are always inequitably tiny.  And with 4 people there for days on end it always ends up getting too full.  They are also good for dirty shoes, beach items, whatever.  

*Food.  I'm not saying by any means you have to bring bags and bags of groceries but a few items will save you some serious cash.  Here are my staples I bring and how they save me: coffee creamer (I don't run to Starbucks anymore!), microwave popcorn (saves you from running out for a snack), fruit (this REALLY helps keep my kids, shall we say, regular? while on vacation and eating junk food galore!), ramen noodle cups (we never eat these at home but at hotels the kids LOVE them). 

Hotel Life with the Kiddos.  Super Busy at Home

*A Netflix Account and a way to watch it.  One of our last trips we went to a small city and there really wasn't much to do.  There were playgrounds and a couple of fun outdoorsy things but it poured for two days straight and we were running out of things to do.  The hotel had maybe 5 channels on a good day and none of them were kid appropriate.  I have no idea what I would have done if I hadn't had our computer.  I set it up and we had popcorn and hot cocoa and watched a movie.  What could have been the worst, most boring day ever was turned into a rainy day memory save for the Netflix.  

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Here are some organizational tips I have for staying in a hotel room with kids: 

*Unpack.  I mean it. Before we started traveling regularly we hardly ever used the dressers in hotels or even unpacked at all.  We would just take out what we needed as we needed it and then shoved it back in when we were done.  Wrong!  The best thing I have found to keep me sane is to unpack.  Nick still hates unpacking and most hotel dressers have 3 drawers so I use one drawer for my things and one for each kid.  I unpack everything from their bags and then find somewhere to shove the bags.  It's so great to not have those things to be tripping over.  In a couple of hotels I've even taken them back out to the car so we didn't even have to deal with them.  

*Set up stations/areas. In the area below the nightstand table I put all of our books and activities.  On the desk I put all of our charges, nooks, phones, and computer.  In the kitchen area I put all of the food (genius, I know).  In the bathroom I put all shower stuff in the shower and everything else below the sink. I put the bag for dirty clothes by the front door or in a closet.  It makes it easier to find things when everything's not just jammed together in bags in say, the closet area or somewhere.   

*Put your purse by the door.  And repeat.  When you're leaving it's easy to find.  If there's a fire it's easy to find.  It's just easy.  Don't put it by an open door but a normal, safe, closed door is just fine :) 

Hotel Stays with Kids. Super Busy at Home.

*I feel like Ross Geller from Friends telling you to do this but...Get a late check out.  Just ask.  We've never not been able to get a later check out.  It takes away some of the stress to get out the door and if the kids want to have a last minute swim it's a lot easier to get everyone showered, dressed, and out the door when you have an extra hour or two.  


So there you go.  I hope some of these help you and save you some sanity during your next trip with your kiddos!  Please feel free to share any tips you have...Lord knows I need all the help I can get! :)