Spring Break with Kids Eyes Wide Shut

friends at the beach

Over the years, my family has had interesting Spring Break experiences. So this year, for all of those wondering how my Spring Break went this year…don’t ask!

If I wanted to teach my grade school daughters the difference between beer pong and beer bongs, I would have already. Of course it would be right before the Division of Family Services started leaning on our doorbell.

This Spring Break my family was trapped in a live version of “Girls Gone Wild.”
When we drove 1,000 miles to enjoy a quiet beach vacation, I wasn’t planning on addressing any milestones. However, according to the owner renting us our condo, this was the first time in the history of Gulf Shores, AL, that hoards of barely dressed and terribly over-served collegians stormed the beach section directly below our family’s balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

If there had been fifty students, we could have managed, but with 2,500 under aged partiers flying their college and fraternity flags, and doing things that no one wants to witness, many parenting teachable moments occurred. At every turn we desperately needed to protect our children faster than a student could empty a beer bong. For the layperson, this is a funnel Chunnel to the gut for full cans of beer because heaven forbid they take sips of their adult beverages like the rest of the adults in free world.

During our weeklong stay in our private skin exhibition and alcohol dispensary, our naïve daughters, aged eight and nine, matured more quickly than we had intended. I wasn’t planning on addressing these topics or behaviors until they were old enough to drive to one of these drunk-a-thons. But alas, we drove them there.

It truly was a bi-polar experience, and when I wasn’t holding my breath that my children would pay attention to their surroundings, I was shielding their eyes when they were.

Now before I had kids, I signed up for all the challenging tasks. I was willing to teach my children authoritatively about all of life’s milestones. Like when a tear-stained toddler cries out why the wasp that stung him, hates him. Or when a child asks, “Have you ever lied to me, Mama?” And of course the “Birds and the Bees” conversation, which is atop many scary parenting lists, I was planning to grab that one by the horns and directly give my best Dr. Ruth impersonation.

We weren’t even going for parents of the year. Isn’t it fabulous that my young daughters are aptly prepared for anything now? For example:

Our daughters are now proficient in telling whether a person passed out cold in the sand is alive or dead.

“Dad, is that guy dead over there?” asked my daughter in a panic.


“No, he’s fine…but look at the time! Time to head back into the condo!” said my husband.

Of course in the time it took for us to pull together all of the beach toys, towels, umbrellas and chairs, the ambulance crew was working on the “dead guy” and another extreme partier decided to purge his stomach contents directly in view of us.

I’m sure this sounds humorous to some of you, with the exception of parents who had college students at Gulf Shores last week; but let me assure you, I wasn’t ready to teach my girls about drinking games, or how all those girls had earned their Mardi Gras beads around their necks – they weren’t for sale for my princesses. Anxiety, much?

When rocking my babies to sleep many years ago, I stroked their heads, humming lullabies and imagining all of the wonderful possibilities to come. Baby’s first step, learning to talk, dressing their selves for the first time, or driving a car…those are the stellar moments.

If only those college kids’ parents had been there to witness their babies on the beach. They would have been, oh, so proud!




Key to No Barfing on Family Road Trips


The other day my friend and I were discussing how we dreaded traveling with kids and it wasn’t for the reasons most parents have:

“She crossed over the line and her finger is on my side!!”

“Bobby took my headphones!”

“Mom, Sarah won’t stop staring at me!”

Oh, no, we both had the dreaded Car Barfer.

After discussing this malady by the snack table at church, regarding traveling with kids on Spring Break, I realized that after I fought this “uphill” battle for 7 years, I could be considered an expert.

And because of that, I felt it was my public duty to share my tricks and secrets.

When my daughter, Munchkin #1 was a baby, she immediately became what they call in some glamorous social circles, a projectile puker. The girl could hurl it to the third seat area of the van if she produced a good arc.

The hubby and I prayed that she would grow out of this attractive behavior, for she wouldn’t win any popularity contests if this continued.

In fact, we couldn’t go anywhere in the van over 15 minutes without the upchuck routine. This was awful since the grandparents lived 30 minutes away and people frown on covering infants in Saran Wrap or attaching feedbags.

So after many urping episodes, and tempts of fate thinking she could make it 16 minutes, 17 minutes, we tried everything we could think of to make our darling child, feel better, keep unsoiled and not smell like the ladies room on 50 cent beer draw night.

Here are my tips for keeping you and your child happy and considering getting back on the road again:


Younger children cannot take any medication to settle their stomachs, so you have to just suffer through. When your pediatrician says that Benadryl is OK for your child, that can be a blessing for some; but you need to be careful and know the exact dose and realize it will knock most kids out into a prolonged stupor. Of course there are some kiddos that have the opposite problem and turn into complete spazzes, but at least they aren’t throwing up. REMEMBER: Don’t give Benadryl without your pediatricians approval.

Dramamine is for kids over 2 years of age, according to the packaging. There are chewables, but they are hard to find. And if you try to get your kid to swallow Dramamine in pill form, and they have not developed that skill yet, they taste awful just sitting on the tongue, so it will be near impossible getting another one in your kids mouth ever again.

However, Dramamine is a blessing from God!! I remember thinking that my daughter would never turn two so that we could use the magic potion of the road. NOTE: Never give Benadryl and Dramamine together. Dramamine contains Benadryl, so you can overdose.

Not all pediatricians will prescribe this for older children, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, but Odansetron (aka Zofran) is an anti-emetic (anti-nausea/anti-vomiting) drug that is often used for pregnant women who can’t keep food down or patients after chemotherapy treatment. Children over the age of 4 can take this, and if your child does not respond to the other choices, Odansetron works beautifully. This drug needs a prescription, so your physician will let you know if this is appropriate for your child.

Clean-up Supplies:

1. In addition to medication, you need to have your vehicle stocked sufficiently. A little package of tissues you carry in your purse is not going to cut it with one of these kids. You need a jumbo box of baby wipes and periodically check to make sure they remain damp. Nothing worse than reaching in for a cleanup job and find dry wipes! Not only do the wipes work well to essentially bathe your child in the car, but also they can clean upholstery, carpeting and the seat belts quite effectively. These are a MUST! My kids are 7 and 8 and I still keep a box in the car just for spills and accidents.

2. At first I asked every person who traveled to bring me back vomit bags from the airlines. I had about 20 of those in the back pocket of the driver’s seat. But you will quickly learn that those are 1) not airtight 2) not leakproof and 3) have a small opening, which proves to be a poor target for a young or inexperienced barfer. Ziploc Freezer Bags with the strong zipper seal are the answer. Aim, shoot, and zip! Toss and you are back on the road. I actually kept an entire jumbo box of those in the car with the wipes.

3. The last thing you want are kitchen trash bags. Many times I stood on the side of the highway with my toddler stripped down to her diaper and I was tempted to just dump her clothes right there. If you have a big bag for clothes or the liner of the car seat, you can close those up tight and toss them in the trunk.

I apologize for those with a weak stomach. I know this isn’t a glamorous post, but hopefully this information can save at least one family some headaches.

The good thing is usually by the time your car sick child is a teenager, she can sit in the front and look out the front window, reducing or possibly alleviating the nausea.

Thanks so much for joining Nurse Mommy Laughs today! If you know of someone that has a child this post could help, please feel free to forward this link. How do you get through traveling with carsick kids? Any other tips you would like to share in the comments below?


Kicking up our Sequined Boots for Spring

Stacey Hatton Commentary

The Kansas City Star – March 28, 2013

Western cowboy still life on the deskWhat’s with spring break marathoning? I’m not talking about running a crazy amount of miles. I mean when did 11 days of no school in March seem like the right thing to do?

When I was a kid (some time after the invention of the cotton gin and before rap music), spring break consisted of approximately 5 days. Nothing happened. We didn’t go anywhere. There were no Disney cruises. Never did you hear of families traipsing to Europe — no time for that nonsense.

We had shows to choreograph, jump ropes and hairbrushes to sing into and epic problems to solves, like who was a little bit country and who was going to be a little bit rock ’n’ roll?

But times have changed. Spring Break is such a huge family production. I know — bigger than Donny and Marie? Yes! So my hubby and I decided we needed to up our game and teach our girls about the finer things in life. We headed to “Little Hillbilly Vegas” — yes, we grabbed our cans of Aqua Net hairspray and our BeDazzler Bead Kit and set our GPS for…Branson!img_3862_8

For the previous family vacation, we traveled to our state’s capital, Topeka. Aim low was our goal. If you can get the kids thrilled to be in middle of nowhere and spending no money, that’s a pretty great vacation. Our girls bragged to everyone about their love of Topeka: their teachers, their pastor, strangers, even their grandparents.

But for spring break, we knew we had a brilliant master plan and was going to work out just fine.

Entering Branson’s city limits, we saw billboards almost stacked on top of each other. Our girls thought they were watching a movie on both sides of the road. Talk about ADHD distractions! How can you even get into Branson with all the promotional roadside reading material? Thankfully both our children are now readers so I didn’t have to translate each sign, for that might have sent me over the edge. Word to the advertising agencies of Branson: you did an excellent job for the 5- 8-year-old crowd. One of my daughters saw all those signs and said she is going to “honeymoon in Branson.” Thank Heavens she didn’t say get married!

After driving down the strip and screaming out for my husband to stop so I could take a picture of a two-story chicken — which, thank you, he wouldn’t — we were able to window shop all the attraction spots from the car. We saw the outdoor mini pirate golf, mini dinosaur golf, go-carts, kids’ fun center and water park, Silver Dollar City amusement park and our biggest destination, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.

We checked into a lovely resort, luckily, because the next morning it snowed 4 inches in a town that doesn’t see snow that time of year. Mini-golf, amusement parks and go-carts…oh, my! Not going to happen. So we put on our happy face, pulled on our creative thinking caps and found the fun.

Truly, when you have children who have not experienced big, fancy family trips yet, they aren’t too disappointed when things go downhill. Plus, on our last day we had Dolly’s Dixie Stampede, which I have to admit was one of the most outrageous things I have experienced. It had plenty of big hair and falsies (eyelashes, silly!), pretty ladies stunt riding on horses, and handsome men in uniform riding around the arena and waving their flags. Bands played, doves were released and indoor fireworks were shot off. And if you have never noshed on a Cornish game hen with no utensils while cheering for racing baby pigs or women riding ostriches, you haven’t partied at Dolly’s house.

We had to leave Branson a day early due to another threat of snow because you can bet your bottom casino chip that I wasn’t about to let snow trap me in that city of kiddie speed.

Our trip was entertaining. The children enjoyed themselves and now we can claim we are one step above Topeka in our travel experience.

Omaha is sounding nice. I hear they have a great zoo and not as many billboards and sequins.

Stacey Hatton is a co-author of the new best-selling book “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” available on Amazon and her website, www.nursemommylaughs.com.

You know who else is a co-author of that book? Patti “Sporkalicious” Ford!! That’s right, the Queen of Unicorn Blogdom and Spork switchblades, her royal highlariousness herself. Actually, after I posted my Star article to my book peeps, Patti so generously shared her experience with the giant cock of Branson. And I’m not talking about Tony Orlando, ladies! No, get a load of Patti “koala-ing” that giant gam!

You should check out her zany blog too. She’s a trip! Insane in the Mom-Brain is where she keeps almost 70K readers snorting and hollering!

Giant Chicken