How to Execute a Quick Winter Escape.


The depression is real over here in the midwest right now. We are knee deep in our 2nd full Nebraska winter, and let’s just say that we aren’t built for the cold. Although, this winter is apparently the worst winter in the last 30 years here, so everyone is basically over the gray skies, massive snow days, and deathly windchills.

In true Floridian fashion, I was going insane. I was unkind, unhappy, unmotivated, and consumed with leaving this ‘Arctic Hell’ (as Scarlett calls it). We were planning on spending the winter vacationing this year, but I thought I could brave a winter – I mean, maybe I was just being a baby about it all last year. I did pretty well, if I can compliment myself. I survived miserably until February before John pulled the trigger on shipping me off to the ocean.

If you are in a similar state of winter depression and need a quick escape, I highly recommend spending the next few days searching for the cheapest flight that leaves within a few hours drive of you. You can spend a day traveling to your destination and a day traveling back. Fitting everything into one checked back and giving your kids a backpack for the plane filled with new knick knacks will make the travel more bearable.


Once I decided I wanted to take my oldest two kids along with the youngest and I, ticket prices were in the scary price range for a long weekend getaway. I’m talking $500+ per seat. Well, we aren’t rich over here, so my beach dreams began to fade…. until I extended my search to the airport 3 hours away.  BINGO. Tickets were half the price. I jumped on plane tickets, paid for a bag, booked a parking spot, and started packing.

I contacted as many friends as I could because I wanted my days to be filled with hugs, laughter, and wonderful conversations. Because I grew up in the area, I had family to visit, too. There were too many people to see with too little time to do it all, but I knew that the beach was calling…

Thanks to an old friend, I was reminded that the trip was truly about getting our fill of sunshine, warmth, and ocean waves. I booked a night at The Hollywood Costa Resort in Hollywood beach, right behind the ‘broadwalk.’ While it was a splurge, I needed 24 hours  of beach in my life, and staying with family wouldn’t get me that. It was worth the splurge, as a dear friend drove in from out of town and stayed up late into the night while the kids ran on the sand and margaritas were poured. Nothing beats a big white resort bed either.


Find your connections and reach out to old friends – or even friends of friends. You may be able to make your quick trip even better by adding in something you normally wouldn’t do.

The first travel day was excessively long, between driving and flights, but having my dad waiting with an SUV for us made it easier. My mom reserved a carseat for Veda, and we invested in MiFold boosters for the big kids (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM).  After a late bedtime, we headed to the beach as the sun rose Friday morning. Friends joined us, as did my mom. The sun was breathtaking, so was the warmth, although our skin had not seen an UV ray in over 6 months, so we were hurting, even with sunscreen.  But the ice-cream shop helped everyone feel a little better.


The kids and I headed to my dad’s pool for a chilly dip and some wine with wonderful company before seeing more family at dinner. Saturday morning was yoga-filled before devouring a Publix sub, more pool time, and finally heading to the resort. A second day of ice-cream was in order, as were hats and rash guards in the sun. The rooftop pool was hopping, and the margaritas were on point. We stayed up until well past dark and dove into the waves as early as possible the next morning. Several lifelong friends arrived with their families, and my kids had about 15 instant Florida friends. Of course, more ice-cream was in the cards.

It was hard to say goodbye to the ocean, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t cry a bit. The salty air, the palm trees, the memories, knowing that it wasn’t where my kids were growing up… it stung a bit. But I am so grateful for the escape.


Traveling home was hard. We missed John, Lyle, and Ollie so much, and I regret not spending the extra money to have everyone come. Landing back in the midwest to more snow than we had left behind was also hard. Emmett asked if the plane would just take us back to Florida.

The tans are fading and the snow is still standing,  but our memories are strong.

If you are debating a quick winter escape, jump on the cheapest flight and do it. Feeling the sun on your face and the salty air through your hair will be worth every penny spent.


Make 2018 the year you stop giving THINGS.

I am a giver. I am a buyer. I am the consumer most stores target.

Scratch that; I WAS the buyer and the spender and the shopper. I am still a giver.

I was born into the role of a shopper, and for the past few years I have battled with myself on how to end the cycle so that my children do not fall victim to our consumer-driven society. Having 5 babies makes buying something quite expensive because it is never just one thing that is bought. But if you only have one child, you can still completely relate to over buying.

In 2017, I made a huge decision to cut Christmas down. It was, no joke, HARD. I actually cried several times. I am assuming now that I was going through holiday withdrawals, which is pretty funny because I’m the one who HATES clutter, plastic crap, and has the entire house stripped down and undecorated within days of Christmas ending. I also need everything to have a place in the house or I will donate it. So, I had this internal minimalist vs consumer battle that lasted months… all the way up until the week of Christmas.

We planned a trip with some of our extended family, and we drove about 10 hours to the mountains. Before even arriving, the kids were cheering that it was the greatest holiday ever – in their entire lives. My heart began to swell and I completely relaxed and gave into the trip. We had 3 feet of snow and a complete white out on Christmas. We partook in mountain activities, and John and I even spent a day snowboarding together. There was an afternoon of bitter-cold snow tubing for the kids, snowball fights, and homecooked food. We read books and played games together, and listened to Papa play the guitar at night.

My computer was in the shop, so I was disconnected for the most part – and it was GLORIOUS.

We did have a few Santa gifts, but nothing outrageous or expensive. The kids opened a game for the Xbox, Barbie dolls, hair chalk, puzzles, and a few other small items – WHICH THEY FLIPPED OUT OVER.

In the past, this reaction would have only lasted until the next present was opened, with the previous 30 tossed behind them… at the end, they would say, “Are there any more to open?”  There were meltdowns and lost pieces, trash everywhere, and too much money spent.  But this year? The money was spent in exactly the right places.

My kids are still playing with their few items from us a week after Christmas, and if they are done playing with them in a month or so, I won’t lose my shit because I didn’t overspend on any of it.

What We Learned

Gifts should not include clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, and other things that the kids need. Those should be purchased when the needs arise. Gifts should simply be a few of the items that will make them so incredibly happy. That’s it.

An experience tops the charts when it comes to the magic and spirit of the season. It can be as expensive as you make it, but you can request family gifts be giftcards to be used on the trip. My kids received one from a set of grandparents and had a blast shopping at the mountain gift shop for sweatshirts and hats!

Become a Non-Things Giver

So here is my plea to you. Decide NOW – in January to make a change. It will be a struggle. It will suck when the sale e-mails start coming, but decide now to let go of all of the THINGS. You don’t need to know where you will go or what experience you will give, that can be pondered about for awhile. You may want to invite friends or extended family; you may want to go just with your kids; you may want to host a smaller Christmas at home and then head out for New Year’s on the road (or in the air!). The key is to make sure that the experience or trip is not far away. Kids will not understand that.

I loved having the kids help plan this entire trip. They knew they would only be getting a few things, and we built the trip up for about a month before going. But next year, we may change things up and surprise them with a trip. (Although packing for a family of seven can’t be done secretly… or can it??)

I’d also love to hear how you plan to leave the things behind throughout the year.  We are planning trips for birthdays throughout 2018, vacations in the summer and camping in the fall, and I haven’t been to Target in 6 weeks. (SIX WEEKS) Nor have I ordered anything on Amazon in 4 weeks… but I’d rather order one thing online than be tempted by the entire store and screaming children.

Go ahead and take the plunge. It sure as hell feels good to not have holiday guilt (or spending guilt) hanging over me this January!