Nothing Important

This blog is really nothing important.

I have nothing to say about books, or my future schedule, or really anything at all.

I just wanted to blog. About my life. And vacation. And what I learned from carting four kids all over the country in one minivan with no less than 493809 electronic devices and deadlines looming overhead.

It was fun. And it was not fun. It was the best trip of our lives. And the worst trip of our lives.

Just kidding, I'm totally stealing all that from that one book about that one time period. You know what I'm talking about!

No? You don't?

Ok, then let's just all move on.


So, we set out on this eleven day vacation across country with all the kiddies in toe. First, we drove to Nashville where I spent a day and a half at UtopYA doing the whole author thing. And then we went on to Gainsville, Georgia where we spent seven days at family reunion for Zach's side of the family.

There were 38 of us in a big old house, sharing meals and getting to know each other better.

It was a LOT of fun. And the kids had some of the best times of their lives running around with all their cousins and swimming in the pool.

It was also exhausting. I've spent this whole week just trying to recover. And that's included a two day migraine, a house now in utter disrepair and a book that is nearly finished but not quite.

Vacation was awesome. But now we're back to the real world and I'm not sure I can ever catch up.

And I was behind before we left!!!! So... now I'm in way too much trouble. :)

Anyway. I like to look at everything in life as a learning experience. It tends to make everything worthwhile and interesting.

Vacation was no different.

Here are the Top Ten Things I learned about Taking Vacations. These fabulous, instructive tips were picked up while driving for a million miles in the car and struggling through a vagabond life with four little kids and a soccer fanatic husband.

1. Never schedule a trip during a World Cup.

Never. Don't do it. Don't even try to do it. Unless of course, that vacation is actually a destination vacation TO the World Cup. Otherwise, stay home. Where your husband can watch every single game in the comfort of his own home with a TV he's familiar with.

Not that Zach complained much. He really didn't. But with the ESPN app on his phone, and every game streaming live, it made his driving abilities a little questionable when he tried to watch the game AND drive.

Don't worry. My children arrived safely home and the minivan is only slightly worse for wear.


For future reference.

In 2018 we will either be in Russia (Just kidding!) or we will be enjoying the entire month-long tournament from our living room couch and/or the soccer pubs we have around town.

For the safety of myself and my children. :)

2. The Atlanta Aquarium is the busiest place on Earth and only go there if you have a death wish.

Also. Atlanta Traffic.



First of all, let me just say this. Zach does ALL of the driving. All of it. It's not that he's necessarily sexist and doesn't think my fragile female mind can handle long road trips.

Side Note: Truthfully, I have TERRIBLE depth perception and I kind of am a bad driver. Also... driving across country is like a sedative to me and makes me SUPER sleepy. It's dangerous for everyone involved.

But truthfully, I write really well in the van and so I plug in my laptop to the console and Zach drives and the kids are strapped in and can't bother me too much and I get a TON of writing done.

So, most of the trip, up until that fateful Tuesday when I decided to take my kids somewhere fun, Zach had done practically all of the driving.

I'd navigated some around Nashville while he hung out at the hotel with the kidlets, but mostly it was him behind the wheel.

And not only did I have to drive into Atlanta, I had to follow a caravan of two other cars in order to get there.

Let. Me. Tell. You. What.

Holy Hades.

That was a trip.

First, let's discuss the difference between interstate systems in the South and interstate systems in the Midwest. WE use signs declaring that your lane will end. WE have all kinds of markers that point out that this lane WILL end and you should get over! WE don't turn EVERY SINGLE RIGHT LANE into an onramp for a DIFFERENT interstate system. We make our case clearly and succinctly and in general, make it easy to traverse around our particular part of the country.

The South is like this maze of roads that just END. Out of the blue! Or turn into something else entirely!!! And I was following a man named Chuck, who never remembered that the right lane would end until we were practically headed to a different state and then he would abruptly jerk his car into the next lane and leave the rest of us watching our lives flash before our eyes as we desperately tried to keep up.

It was terrifying.

Jesus Take the Wheel was on a constant loop in our car. My kids started calling me Ms. Underwood.

And there are so many people in Atlanta, I'm not sure how anyone goes anywhere. Ever.

In Omaha, it takes you 20 minutes to get anywhere. That's the truth. We have a population of something over 600,000 people and you can get ANYWHERE in 20 minutes. Also, our traffic is sweet and adorable and barely traffic at all.

Atlanta is not freaking messing around. Not at all. When they say traffic, they mean eight lanes of pure stand still.

(Although, nothing will ever be worse than New Orleans on a Friday night. That was my worst traffic experience ever. And I was a passenger in the Peruvian mountains once. That's saying something.)

And their Aquarium is no better. After I paid $150 to get in. And I didn't even take Zach. He had to stay back and work on dinner for that evening. It was just me and the kids. Can you BELIEVE I paid that much to get in! I mean. For real. I know I have a large amount of children. But what the what?!?!?!?! We complain about our Zoo prices if you don't have a membership. And adults pay like $13 a piece. I can't even talk about how much I spent that day on an Aquarium.

Ahem. Moving on. After I paid our entry fee, my children were then sent through security.

They've never been through security in their little lives.

Talk about freaked out. They were all STRANGER DANGER. And the security guards were all MOVE ALONG THERE'S A LONG STINKING LINE BEHIND YOU. And I'm all, I just paid WHAT to get into this thing where they are manhandling my children and scaring the living daylights out of them???? Uh-uh. Nope. Forget it. You will take them as they come! Stop trying to get them to stick their arms out like a Zombie!!!!

But we made it inside. Eventually.

Only to be drowned in a sea of cranky, rushed people that literally tried to fit in their entire Aquarium day before they had to leave at 3pm to avoid the traffic again.

That was just crazy.

I had wanted a relaxing day in the city, exploring a new place with my kidlets. What I got was a nightmare of epic proportions and bruises on my ribs from all the elbowing of strangers.

There was one point I looked around at my children and weighed their worth. I thought... not all of you are going to make it out of here alive. We're going to lose one of you, maybe a few of you. Which of you has the most potential to survive? Which one should I invest what little resources I have to protect you???

Just kidding. I'm Mama Bear. I threw as many elbows as I took. Stay away from my children or I will end you.

But man that was intense.

And then we left.

In the middle of rush hour.

Oh, lord. Help me.

I had never been more stressed out in my life.

Thankfully, during the day, Zach had invested in a bottle of Brazilian rum and had a rum and coke waiting for my shaking hands upon arrival.

He's a very good man.

3. I should have had my kids in the pool every day as babies.

For real. Stella is a little fish and taught herself to swim. She's amazing in the pool. And has no trouble splashing around and getting in the deep end. However, Scarlett and Stryker are TERRIFIED of the water. Up until this summer, we couldn't even get Stryker in a sprinkler! That's a true story! He was too afraid. And those two rugrats NEVER leave the steps. Despite their floaties and that Zach and I are in the pool with them. They won't even let us carry them around.

They don't trust us! Can you believe that????

On the other hand... Solo... It was like he was born in the water!!! He'd never really been in a pool before, so we didn't know what to expect. But we put his cute toddler floatie on him and he just swam around the whole thing. Zach and I were always right there, but he swam and swam and swam. All by himself!!! I was really impressed! And so proud.

Who knew a baby could swim like that???

Also... he's almost two. He's not quite a baby anymore.


4. I know the most amazing authors in the world.

This is a fact. And also. I REALLY need to go to more signings/conferences/conventions and all that! Like for real.

I've always shied away from them. And I have my own reasons that are kind of silly. But also, it's hard to travel and leave four kids behind. Like seriously. If you're a mom, you know what I mean. And some working moms HAVE to travel for their job and so you make it work and find routines that work for you.

But so far, I've gotten away with not making it an essential part of my job. I think that time is at an end. I think I really need to get more involved.

The good news is that I know the most lovely people in the world. And that is truth. I had so much fun at UtopYA connecting with people. I like to make friends in real life. Then they feel like real friends. Instead of just pen pals.

5. Never go to St. Louis.

Yep. That is definitely number 5. And if you are from St. Louis and love your city.... Good for you!!!!

I hate it.

Like, for real.

Ok... it might have had something to do with the fact that we stayed overnight there on the very tail end of our trip. My family was exhausted. My kids were OVER the car. And we were anxious to get home.

I will give you that benefit of the doubt.

But also... the hotel we stayed at was HORRIFIC. And it was a Marriott. So it should be BETTER. We paid enough for that stinking room. Literally. It smelled awful. And we have so many of us, that we have to get suites so everyone has a place to sleep. And it was just bad. And it was packed. So breakfast the next morning was a complete nightmare.

We went to this really good place for dinner. Shlafly. Delicious. But the service was really bad too. Our waiter was so impatient and rude. And I get that he doesn't usually have to deal with four kids that are beyond their limits, but still... a little common courtesy goes a long ways. Then I got yelled at in the bathroom by a hipster!!!

That was the last of my rope. I was like, get me the hell out of St. Louis. Meet me in St. Louis NEVER. I'm done with this trip and this town and Missouri.


Ok, I'm exaggerating. Especially because I will be in St. Louis for Penned Con. So.... for real you should Meet me then!

But the hipster yelling at me was completely uncalled for. I was standing at the sink, helping my girls wash their hands and she's yelling at me asking me if I'm in line. Um? What??? We are washing hands. How does this look like we're in line for the bathroom??? Usually the chain of events goes like this, walk into the bathroom. Go to the bathroom. Come out of the bathroom stall. Wash your hands. Leave the bathroom.

Apparently, they do things differently where she's from?

I don't know.

But I was polite and a good example for my children and that's all that matters. But beware Hipsters of St. Louis, you have not made a good impression on me.

I'm so kidding. I would never judge a whole people group based on the actions of one person. Well, at least I can say that now. After I've been removed from the situation and gained a little perspective.

I might not have been so forgiving at the time.

I might have condemned all hipsters everywhere to a lifetime of greasy hair and ill-fitting clothes.

6. Taking four kids to the bathroom at random gas stations all over the southern US is about the worst experience any mother could EVER have.

Like. For real.

Gas station and random fast food restaurant bathrooms are bad enough! But taking four kids potty, whilst one of them is still in diapers, is now a thing of recurring nightmares for me!!!!

For real.

It was so bad.

Let's just start with the fact that my kids can't keep their grubby little hands to themselves EVER. Why do they have to touch EVERYTHING?? It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it!!!! It's so gross. So so so so so so gross. And then there are all those people! Why are bathrooms always so packed with people!!! And the different changing tables?? I can't feel good about laying Solo down on any one of them.

There was this one time... (We have a rule that we can't eat at any restaurant that we have in Omaha) We were at Steak and Shake. At lunch time on a Saturday. It was INSANE. There was a line out the door for people waiting to be seated. And three of my children had to go potty. So Zach stayed with the baby outside, while I took the three older ones into the bathroom and ordered our lunch to go.

Well, the bathroom was a two-stall monstrosity of disgustingness. The handicap bathroom- which I prefer to use with that many kids- was overflowing with... I can't even talk about it. It was so gross. So, that left ONE stall open. We had to wait for like four people in front of us and then I sent my girls in one at a time. The line was wrapped around the restaurant by this time and... my kids were not fast.

Hey, can you blame them?? They had been on the road for a full day and their diet was not what it usually was.

Oh my gosh. It was a nightmare.

I never want to have to go to that many public restrooms again.

Or at least, I need my kids to grow up a little bit so I don't have to supervise every trip.


7. Family is the best.

Like seriously.

It always amazes me that you can connect with people just because they're family. This was all Zach's side and they aren't particularly close. He hadn't seen most of the family for years and I hadn't even met the majority of them. Yet we fell into a comfortable routine almost immediately.

It helps to have kids. Moms can bond over the smallest of things. And it's just easy for us to relate to each other. But still, with that many people in the house, I didn't know what to expect.

It was a wonderful week. And I had so much fun. It was also super relaxing and I enjoyed every minute by the pool. :)

In my opinion, family makes the best vacations. That's how I grew up. We never went anywhere unless it was to visit family. (Except for this one time after I graduated high school that we went to Florida. And another time we visited some colleges in the South.) But almost all of our vacations were family destinations.

And it's nice to include Zach's family in that bank of great memories.

8. However. That being said.. I need a vacation from my vacation.

How is vacation so exhausting???

Is it coming back to the stress of knowing I'm super far behind? Or even though our house was cleaned before we left and I unpacked immediately, it's now a huge mess and I'm going to have to carve out time to scrub the darn thing? Is it my tired, off-routine children that are used to being spoiled and getting their way? Or is it that I had so much help with the kids and they were so constantly entertained that parenting almost seemed, dare I say it... easy for a whole week?? Honestly, it might be simply from the two-day drive back...

Either way, after vacay, trying to recover, attempting to finish this book and the 4th of July, I think I could sleep for the next week and not wake up even once to pee.

I'm exhausted!!!!!

9. I am the worst ever at taking pictures.

The absolute worst.

I didn't take ANY on vacation.

Well, like four at the Aquarium but my kids were so over it so they aren't good shots.

I barely took any yesterday, on the 4th!!! I had the obligatory step-shots that I do whenever my kids are dressed, coordinating and cute. But none of like the actual event!!!

And I got lucky in Georgia, because someone hired a photographer and planned family pics for us. But otherwise there would not be one memory of our lives.

I need to get better at this. My dad was amazing at taking pictures. Like, so many. And I am the exact opposite. I like to pretend that it's because I'm in the moment with my kids and don't stop to take pictures.

But that's just an excuse! I have time for pictures. I have time to snap a couple candids and record our lives.


I should probably start practicing at home....


10. There is never a better time to see how mature your kids have grown than vacation.

Sure, they were off playing with other kids and they still had the fights and tantrums that they normally do. But they also choose to eat healthy. And can ask for fruit if I haven't given it to them yet that day. They drink water and they make smart eating choices. They play WELL with other kids and when I'm not looking, they really do know how to share and include everyone. They can say please and thank you and know to ask me or their dad for permission. They throw their trash away and sit quietly at the dinner table. They take care of each other and keep an eye on each other so no one gets lost.

They are growing up.

I didn't think it would ever happen and now that it is, I'm not so sure I'm okay with it. :)

But it's fun to see. And sometimes it helps me breathe a sigh of relief that I'm not doing EVERYTHING wrong.

Just most things.

And despite all my shortcomings, my kids can excel despite me.

That was my favorite part of the whole trip. Memories with kids that I'm proud of and love to pieces. And a husband that stands by my side through it all.

When I got home, I vowed to never leave my house again. It's way too much work.

But I'm mostly confident that was a lie.

I can't wait for our next stressful, exhausting, hectic adventure. I can't wait for the public bathrooms that give me nightmares of disease and germs, for the pictures I'll forget to take, for the many laughs at all the ridiculous situations we get ourselves into so we can laugh about it later. And for all that uninterrupted, focused time as a family.

Better start planning for next summer!

Bonus Number 11. White Castle.

We discovered White Castle.  


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  1. Rachel you are HILARIOUS! You need to come do a signing/hang out in California- perfer San Francisco and I promise I will bring an entourage of 6 people with me and that is not including all your other California fans. Thanks for making my day with this hilarious post. Amanda M. :)

  2. "And despite all my shortcomings, my kids can excel despite me."

    THIS. Such a relief when I realize I haven't totally screwed them up. haha!