small town kids // big city travel: from TN to NYC

fromTN to NYC travel and hotel

So, we have been home now for a week (we arrived home LATE last Wednesday) and I am SO excited to finally get around to sharing our small town kids // big city travel series with you! If you are brand new to this blog, here is the scoop: our small town family of five from Tennessee recently took a five day road trip to NYC with my best friend, her husband, and their two gorgeous girls. Five kids. One seven year old, two four year olds, and two three year olds.

I asked if y’all had any questions about traveling with kids last week on the blog’s facebook page and you guys and gals came up with some great ones! Today I am tackling the brass tacks of being in the car a LONG time with children, staying in hotels, getting good rates, etc.

Beth asks: “I would love to know how to get the best deal – hotel, transportation, food.
Also, what are you actually able to see on a short trip (logistics of getting around)?”

Jennifer asks: “Of course there are questions, you visited 5 states, in a car, with 5 kids! You all sound like super heroes! Did you take multiple vehicles? How in the world did you fit kids and luggage and strollers inside, neatly? And speaking of your proposed question, what did you do to prepare? Did you pre-pack plenty of snacks? And not to be too nosy, but I’m freak about finances, so of course all I see are dollar signs in this trip, I’m sure you all did this reasonably but I’d love to hear your secrets!”

map to NYC

We did not tell the kids until two days before we left. Why? Because if you tell them we are going to the PARK a day in advance they drive you bonkers crazy about it. So, as soon as we let them in on the secret, Eden pulled out an atlas and began charting the course. On the way there, we drove from Tennessee to Virginia (about a 4-5 hour drive), woke up the next day and drove from Virginia to Pennsylvania (about the same amount of driving) and we visited the Hershey Factory in PA (more on that later!), and then the third day we drove from Pennsylvania to NYC. And yes, I drove in NY traffic. And it honestly was not as bad as I made it out to be in my head. Everyone is a pretty terrible driver there. SO I fit right in.

The kids did really well in the car. (Blessed. And BLOWN AWAY, if I am being honest). I did not plan a bunch of toys or coloring pages, but the drive was so pretty, we honestly just talked the whole time, or napped, or snacked, or watched DVDs we borrowed from the library.

travel with kids

We drove through SIX states in all. On the way home (last Wednesday) we drove a STRAIGHT fifteen hours. Total miles on my van from the trip as a whole? 1,545 on the ol’Kia. And we were never more excited in our lives to see THIS sign:


A few things: choose hotels that serve breakfast. Hampton Inn hotels have amazing breakfasts, including eggs, ham, breakfast potatoes, bagels, cereal, juice and coffee for no extra charge. And the COFFEE is pretty much 24/7 downstairs. And it is SO good. This means that you only have to pay for two meals that day instead of three. If you stay in a hotel that does not serve breakfast, pack granola bars and fruit. Keep in light and inexpensive. Search for good rates online and don’t be afraid to call and simply ask. Gas prices are lower than they have been in years, so that greatly contributed to the price savings on this road trip.

hotel breakfast 2

breakfast at hotel

Also: on the road? Bring a cooler. With ice. I took out the seat in the middle row of the van for extra cargo space. Put lots of waters and other drinks so you are not paying 5 billion dollars for a 20oz Sprite on the streets of New York. The final hotel had a KEURIG so we packed coffee pods and disposable travel cups and creamer that I put in the hotel fridge. Pack small lunches like Lunchables, portable fruit, like GoGosqueez or Buddy Fruits and grown ups things like Lunchables grown up wraps and DRIVE. Just drive, baby.

kids in hotel

And yes. Those are my children on a luggage cart. Also? Traveling for five days in a car with five humans means we packed pretty much every article of clothing we own. I packed the kids’ clothing in one suitcase and my and Brandon’s clothing in the other. Here is the secret: DO LAUNDRY IN THE HOTEL:

laundry in hotel

That’s right. Once we arrived at hotel #2 (Pennsylvania), we grabbed that bag of quarters and laundry detergent we packed, and Tasha and I had late night talks in the laundry room while our clothes hit the reset button. Now we had enough clothing to get through the trip!


Want to know the sights we saw in NYC and how we navigated the city with so many littles? That post is tomorrow!

we went to New York with five children!!

Hey guys! We just got back from NEW YORK!! If you were wondering why I haven’t blogged in five days (probably not, but ya know..) it is because we paired up with my best friend and her husband and kids and took an impromptu FIVE day trip to see six different states, ending up in NYC.


So, next week I will be doing a five day blog mini series all about our road trip with five children in tow and how we conquered a big city with strollers.

But what I need from YOU is this–what would you like to know? How long it took? What we did to prepare? If we let them eat from a street vendor? (Quick answer to that: YES).


Leave a comment here OR over on the Letters from the Nest facebook fan page I will be back on Monday with the mini-series. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram (here) and you can search all of our trip photos by using #LettersfromNYC. See ya Monday! I’ve got some laundry to catch up on…

cell phone friday, volume 34.

Hey guys! We made it. It is FRIDAY, which of course means it is CELL PHONE FRIDAY, volume 34. We have some good stuff this week, as per usual, so let’s get right to it!


cell phone friday 34a

Okay, so what IS IT with people flushing randomness down public toilets? Last week’s Cell Phone Friday had a restroom disclaimer too. Oh, and I had to ask my friend who sent this in what “nips” are. They are tiny bottles of liquor?



So, two things: JESUS is on twitter AND he favorited my tweet about Veterans’ Day.

cell phone friday 34c



Forget buying everyone in the family a Snuggie. Let’s be economical about it and just get ONE GIANT FAMILY SIZED ONE. (also: aside from the dad having a full head of hair, this looks strikingly similar to MY family. Weird.)

cell phone friday 34d




This is my favorite photo this week. I CAN’T EVEN.

cell phone friday 34e


So, you INSTANTLY become Canadian, eh? Like, right then. Canadian.

Want to submit a photo to Cell Phone Friday? It’s simple. Find me on facebook // twitter // instagram or just email me

Love ya! Have a great weekend with your family.

November 2014 goals.

november 2014 goals

So, it’s November already? It seems like October just slipped right by us! I started sharing my monthly goals at the urging of my friend over at A Cookie Before Dinner (check her out, you will love her!) and I keep it super light and fun. I have been dividing my goals into three categories: Jesus // Others // Yourself. That’s right, Michelle Duggar: JOY. It’s a great acronym. Let’s discover what I have planned for November:

Jesus: Honestly? Just want to continue to dig deeper in my quiet time. I got sick in October for like, FIVE days with no voice (and all the Elkins children said AMEN) and it threw my morning time off a tad. But I have been diving into She Reads Truth and it is really life giving and I just adore it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt a bit that we have the full set of Matthew Henry commentaries on our bookshelf. (That would be the punchline to: What do you get when two religion majors marry?) Anyway: GET IN THE WORD, FRIENDS.The Lord desires it of us! book of james

Others: Last month, one of my goals was to send out a TON of snail mail. It was so fun that I definitely want to do another round of cards this month! Another goal to tag on to that is to have guests in our home more this month. Hospitality is something that I focused on more at our old house, but ever since we moved to the farm I have kind of lost my way a tad. But our fixer-upper is pretty rad and having friends over sweetens the soul. (PS: I have some lovely writer-friends that recently launched a blog called Grace Table focused on the act of hospitality and it is fantastic. Go by and check it out. Tell ‘em Christie sent ya!)

Yourself: This month, I would love to work on hanging more photos on our hallway walls. And by “more” I mean ANY. Our hallway walls are bare (except for this quaint little lantern) and I would love to fill them with pictures of family. I figure the holidays are a great time to find coupon codes for canvas prints, so if you see any floating around the internets, send them my way? (the picture below of the kids from McKays is one of my faves!) Also: working on a cool writing nook. Brandon found a desk that belonged to his grandmother in his dad’s storage building that simply needs a little TLC and it is good to go. Really excited about owning that space at the end of the hallway. Move along spiders. There’s a new sheriff in town.

kids in bookstore

AND, I just finished the best parenting book EVER. I’ll chat more about that soon.

What are your goals for November? I would love to hear them! If you want to see my October goals from last month, click (here).