Ways to Spot Midwesterners on Vacation

Sometimes it is possible to guess what area of the country people hail from based on their behaviors.  Midwesterners like myself are usually pretty easy to identify based on their behaviors.


  1. We say hello to everyone.  Do you know me?  Probably not.  Are we passing each other on the sidewalk or street?  Yes.  Then, I’ll be acknowledging you with some sort of hello.  Just say “hi” back and move on.  It’s what we do.   I’ll know you aren’t a Midwesterner if you give me a puzzled look when I say hello.
  2. We’re Polite.  Midwesterners will wait the extra few minutes for you holding open the door while you puzzle over the fact that we are actually holding the door and waiting for you.  It doesn’t matter if your hands are full or not.  It’s just the right thing to do.  And it annoys the heck out of us when you let that door slam in our faces…doesn’t matter if we were a few steps back or not.  We’re too polite to say anything about it though. The words “please” and “thank you” are part of our standard vocabulary.
  3. We’re nice.   We like to strike up random conversations with you and find out what area you call home.  If your kids talk to us, we’ll talk back to them.  We may talk to them anyway if you are right there.
  4. We’re usually the ones wearing our sports teams’ clothing.  We may glare at you accidentally if you are wearing your sports team’s gear and it’s a rival team.
  5. Generally, we aren’t in a hurry.  We aren’t horrendously slow either though.
  6. Most of us have common sense.  If an activity looks like it would require tennis shoes, we’ll be wearing our tennis shoes and not our flip flops. *Unless we have a teenager with us

This post was just for fun and of course, I’m stereotyping and generalizing.  I’m sure there are Midwesterners who don’t exhibit any of these traits on vacation or at home.  Some of these traits might be more specific to those of us in the Kansas City area (especially number 4).

What about you?  Do the people in your area of the country make them easy to spot when you are in a different locale?




Tips and Tricks For Somewhat Organized Vacations

Even though school is starting up again here, I know it is still vacation season for many.  I confess I still have vacation on my mind.  It seems like once I get myself in vacation planning mode, I tend to stay in it and start thinking of our next vacation almost as soon as we arrive home from our current one.

I’m not the most organized vacation planner out there but we do take somewhat organized vacations.  Honestly, I learned the hard way about over organizing a vacation on a trip my husband and I took to Colorado before the boys were born.  It was fun and miserable at the same time.  Suffice it to say it was a good reminder that sometimes less is more.

I’ve learned that somewhat organized vacations are a bit more relaxing and fun for everyone.  It’s actually okay to have days with nothing in particular planned and sometimes those days end up being the best ones of the whole trip.

Here are a few tips and tricks to pulling off vacations that are somewhat organized:

Pre-Vacation Planning:

  • Order the state travel guide.  You can look at these on-line but there is something about having a magazine to hold in my hand that I prefer.  They’ll usually send you a state highway map as well.  Use these things together to determine if the things you are planning to do are within a reasonable area of where you are staying.  The TripAdvisor forums for the general area are also often a wealth of information (even the older posts).
  • Vacations take money.  We always cash in our coffee can change jar prior to going on vacation and use that as the spending money for any souvenirs we buy on our trip.  Generally, we don’t purchase a lot of souvenirs but I do like to make sure everyone has at least one t-shirt from our trip.
  • While the travel sites like TripAdvisor are great for seeing the top rated sites in an area, I always also Google “free things to do in (fill in your destination)” as well as checking out things like Groupon or the entertainment book sites for the area.  Note:  I’m seldom organized enough to order the coupons in advance but looking at these sites will sometimes give me insight and ideas into things in the area we’d have otherwise overlooked.  It’s also fun to see if you can find a few blog posts by locals about what they are doing.
  • Repurpose a folder to keep all your vacation planning papers in one easy to locate spot.  I like to use one of the kids’ old school folders.  This rides in the front seat with me while we’re on our trip.

    My info folder from our vacation.

    My info folder from our vacation.

  • Let everyone choose one to two things they’d like to do while on vacation (it’s okay if more than one person in your family choses the same thing).  This is really helpful if you are traveling to an area that has hundreds of things to do.
  • Pack a “just in case” bag.  While yes, I know that most places have drug stores, I like to have my blue bag when we travel because it seems to generally be late at night when illnesses flare.  Who wants to drive around a strange location looking for a drug store?  Not me.

In The Car:

  • Have some (non-messy) snacks and water available.  We like Twizzlers and Chex Mix for our vacation treats.
  • Carry paper towels.  Spills and messes will happen even with non-messy snacks. Be prepared.
  • Also make sure you have hand sanitizer and a small first aid kit.  By the way, J always hated hand sanitizer (and it’s never been a favorite of mine) until we found this Honest Company Spray Hand Sanitizer.  It doesn’t drip everywhere or hurt if you happen to have a small cut on your hands.  I found mine at Target.

While on Vacation:

  • Find the local welcome center and make use of it!  These visitor information centers are a wealth of information.  They can share knowledge of road construction, what is going on in town, and even suggest restaurants if you just ask.
  • Embrace the GPS.  I fully admit this one was tough for me to do.  I’m used to being the map reader on our trips.  It became a bit of a family joke that I despised the GPS lady.  I may or may not have referred to her as “the other woman.” However, she was great at finding restaurants when we were all tired and hungry.
  • Have a rough outline for the days.  However, don’t make concrete plans for every single day.

    The boys loved just spending time at the pool relaxing err racing.

    The boys loved just spending time at the pool relaxing err racing.

  • Have a plan for dirty laundry.  Can’t even escape from this stuff while on vacation!  We always put our dirty clothing in a different location than our suitcases.  Usually, we take a large black trash bag and fill it with our dirty DRY clothing.   If necessary, take the bag to a Laundromat (we’ve only had to do that on one vacation).
  • Make sure you pack enough clothing.  Too much is always better than too little in my opinion.
  • Hang wet beach towels and swimsuits up to dry immediately upon returning to your room. If you need to pack them wet, use a separate bag.

Home Sweet Home Sanity Savers:

  • Unpack the car as soon as you get home.  It won’t turn into any less of a job the longer you wait.
  • Start a load of laundry immediately especially if you have to pack damp clothing.
  • Have at least one quick go to meal ready in the freezer or be prepared to order a pizza.

I used to always feel like my vacations had to be super organized as if I’d never return to a place again but I’ve learned it’s okay to go with the flow a bit and just enjoy a place thinking you never know, we may return someday.

What about you?  Do you prefer a more organized or more relaxed approach to your vacations?

Happy Homemaker Monday and Menu Plan

Do you ever wake up super motivated to just get everything done?  Yeah, me either.  Except for today.  For some reason, I woke up with a jolt (that may have been the phone ringing) and just felt motivated to start getting things done.

I made myself focus on the kitchen before I focused on the computer.  There may be something to that.  So far today, I’ve cleaned the kitchen counters, cleared off the kitchen table, taken out the trash (twice), and cleaned out the refrigerator.  Thrown out a dead plant, switched over the laundry and started a new load, made 3 shopping lists (something I definitely usually don’t do), researched an outing, made a phone call, put together a gift, and prepped some lunch foods.  It may not seem like much but I certainly feel like I accomplished something before sitting down to plan my week.

I’m hoping I can keep this get it done energy and mentality going all week.  It still seems strange that it is only 1p.m. around here.  Maybe making a plan for my week will help.  As usual, I’ll be linking this post up with Sandra’s Happy Homemaker Monday post over at Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom and Laura’s Menu Plan Monday post located at I’m An Organizing Junkie.


This week, I’m starting with my menu plan because I’ve already finished it as well!  Here’s what will be on the dinner table around here this week:

MONDAY:  Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad

TUESDAY:  Bacon Wrapped Chicken

WEDNESDAY:  Fish Sticks and French Fries

THURSDAY:  Pork Chops, Corn on the Cob, Salad (request)

FRIDAY:  Hamburgers and Hot Dogs on the grill

As you can see, our meals are going to be pretty basic this week.  I work two days, G has high school orientation, and we have an outing planned for another day.  It will also be the last week of hot at home lunches for the boys so we’ll be having some of their favorite lunches including macaroni and cheese, mozzarella sticks, and French bread pizzas.


It’s August.  Going to be hot and humid, highs in the upper 80s to low 90s.  Might rain Tuesday night and Wednesday.


I actually read a book last week.  It was one of the Amazon Prime Kindle selections for July.  Crooked Little Lies by Barbara Taylor Sissel was a pretty good suspense novel type read.  It wasn’t something I would typically chose to read but I still enjoyed it.

My husband and I are still watching The Americans and finished up season 1 over the weekend.   I’m already sad there are only 3 seasons of it.  I love the subtly of the show even though it can be a bit predictable at times.  We also watched the second episode of Zoo (I missed the first one) and found it rather hokey (more so than the book) but I was surprised to see Billy Burke in it (playing a character not even in the book) so I may give it another shot.


I’m torn this week between wanting to get everything done and just wanting to slow down and enjoy the last week of summer vacation.

  1. Go to the grocery store
  2. Get the boys’ school supplies
  3. Clean the house especially the bedrooms
  4. Laundry
  5. Get a New Welcome Mat for the front door
  6. Return Library books

Really, this week’s main to-do items are more shopping lists than anything else:  food for breakfast, lunches, and dinners, school supplies, new lunch boxes, cleaning supplies, new trashcan for desk area, new tennis shoes for me (the kids have their new shoes already)…

P.S.  I think I might have some blog posts that just need some spit & polish and I can schedule them.


Getting back to the routine of the school year.  An upcoming trip to see family later in August.  Going shopping later.


I saw a tip on Pinterest about making boxed blueberry muffins taste more like homemade or bakery muffins and tried it out.  Adding the juice from the can of blueberries in place of all our part of the liquid did nothing for my Hy-Vee brand muffins except make them so blue that Violet Beauregarde would have been delighted.

This one wasn't quite as blue.

This one wasn’t quite as blue.

I also saw one that said to rub baby oil on a stainless steel sink to make it shiny.  I didn’t use baby oil but a few drops of tea tree oil did seem to make a difference.  At least, for the five minutes before I  had to use the sink.


Can you find the cat in her new hiding spot?

Can you find the cat in her new hiding spot?

Flowers closer to home: Surprise Lillies

Flowers closer to home: Surprise Lilies

Guess where we went yesterday?

Guess where we went yesterday?


Painting is a harder job than it seems (I painted our front porch railing), I’m still not a plant person (the orchid lasted from March until August), knowing exactly what you want is not a bad thing, and it is also okay to have lazy, summer days.


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.  Philippians 4:8


What’s on your agenda for the week?

Fleeting Thoughts on A Friday

As you might guess from the title of this post, it will be a compilation of random things I’ve been thinking about and doing this past week.  I can’t seem to get myself out of vacation mode. Maybe next year I’ll be able to talk my husband into going somewhere for two weeks.  I doubt he would go for that idea though.

I’m missing views like these:

I'm missing views like this.

 Blue Bergamot

Now that's a waterfall! Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Now that’s a waterfall! Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about this week…

  • I’ve had a post about Midwesterners on vacation in my draft folder half-finished all week.  Maybe I’ll pretend this is a Follow Through Friday and actually complete it today.

  • My “published” writing this week is all over on Trip Advisor.  It is my favorite trip planning site and I like to give back by writing my own reviews as well.  (I received nothing from Trip Advisor for linking to them).

  • My boys are officially enrolled in 5th grade and high school (!).  Every year, J seems to be in a different class than his friends.  This year so far has not been an exception.  I am hoping he’ll make some new friends but he’s not quite as social as older brother.  G seems to have all the classes he requested so is pretty happy.

  • They apparently don’t give school supply lists out for high school.  I guess they think those kids should be smart enough to take a paper and pencil to class without prompting.  Either that or they realize that after parents pay all the fees and expenses (An activity fee just to do things and the yearbook costs what?!), a school supply list would put us over the edge.

  • I have 4 bags of miniature marshmallows in my house.  I don’t generally stock up on them so I’m not sure what happened.  Actually, I have a theory that I kept deciding to store the marshmallows in different locations in the kitchen and pantry and so kept buying them thinking we were out.  I still had to go to the store and buy the big marshmallows for J and friend to roast over a fire on Wednesday night.

  • All the marshmallows made me think I needed to make cereal bars.  I decided to look at my dessert board over on Pinterest and found this recipe for No Bake Crispy Pretzel Bars by Patty over at Homemakers Daily.   I thought they were really good and so did G (He may or may not have renamed them “diabetes” in a way only an obnoxious teenager can manage).  Guess what ingredient they did not require?  Did you guess marshmallows?  You guessed correctly.

  • There are several things going on around town that I’d like to do this weekend but I know everyone else will want to just stay home.  I’ll probably give in to this request since the boys only have one week left before school starts again.

  • I certainly have plenty of things to do around here (cleaning, laundry) so it is a good thing that my husband and I found a new show to watch, The Americans.  It is set in the 1980s (what is it with this 80s obsession) and about soviet spies living in the United States. We’re watching it on Amazon Prime.  I’m tempted to watch another episode today and just let my husband catch up on the show sometime.

Maybe once school does start again, I’ll be able to shake myself out of vacation mode and get back into a regular routine.  Until then, I’m going to try to enjoy the last fleeting moments of the kids’ summer vacation.



Happy Homemaker Monday and Meal Plan

I’ve looked four times now and yes, it is indeed the last week of July!  How did that happen?  Where did the lazy days of summer go?  I don’t even feel like we’ve had any truly lazy days of summer but I’m also not sure what we’ve done (we did go on vacation last week but prior to that? No idea).

One might think the last week of July would be a perfect time for those lazy days of summer to kick in to play.  However, instead our last week of summer involves a week of band camp for G and school enrollment for both boys which means I get to spend my day tracking down papers (thankfully, most of the enrollment is on-line this year-finally!).

I’m trying to get back into a bit of routine starting with this week.  We’ll see how I do with that.  Thankfully, I have Sandra from Diary of a Stay At Home Mom to inspire me with her Happy Homemaker Monday posts as well as Laura from I’m An Organizing Junkie with Meal Plan Monday (I really need to get back into planning our meals).

The Weather This Week

HOT! Hot! HOT!  We were a bit spoiled by the weather in the Black Hills of South Dakota last week.  Highs in the 90s aren’t bad without any humidity and when the nights cool off to the 60s.   It’s back to highs in the 90s and intense humidity for us now.

Things That Make Me Happy

Vacations, lazy summer days (what are those?), saltwater taffy, and showering at home.

Weekly Menu

This week is going to be pretty basic as I try to shift back from eating out every night to having to cook dinner again.  Most people think the vacation laundry is the worst…not me.  I think losing my “cooks” is the worst thing.

MONDAY: BBQ sandwiches


WEDNESDAY:  Spaghetti

THURSDAY:  Pork Chops

FRIDAY:  Fish sticks, chicken, or leftovers….

To-Do List

It’s probably longer than I could list in one post but here are the main things that need to happen this week:

  1. Pay bills (done)
  2. Enroll the boys in school and take documentation to schools for class assignments (half-done)
  3. Fold the laundry (hey, at least it is clean)
  4. Make an all-inclusive list of needed school supplies for the boys…
  5. Get beginning of the year school dates into my phone calendar
  6. Clean the house
  7. Mow the lawn

Books, Movies, and Television

We only watched minimal television last week although I was excited to catch an episode of Chopped while on vacation.  Oh, before we left, my husband and I finished season 7 of Sons of Anarchy.  Note:  even if the majority of the characters are criminals, it is still mean to make fun of your wife as she cries while they meet their demise.

We also subjected the teenager to some 80’s movie education by making him watch the original Footloose.   I think he enjoyed it more than he would admit.  I was the only one in favor of getting the soundtrack for our trip though.

Sadly, no books read, just lots of travel guides.

From the Camera

We actually drove overnight to get an extra day of vacation and stopped at a rest area in Chamberlain, South Dakota on Sunday just as the sun was rising over the Missouri River.

Sunrise over the Missouri River

Sunrise over the Missouri River


A little more daylight in this photo…

By the way, if you are from the Kansas City area and know what the Missouri River looks like in these parts, you’ll understand how astounded I was to see it with BLUE water!

Overview of Badlands National Park

Overview of Badlands National Park

 Thoughts for the Week

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” (Theodore Roosevelt)


I did indeed start this post early on Monday morning but it is now Tuesday as I’m finishing it.  I think it is perhaps going to be one of those weeks.  What are you looking forward to this week?




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