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Hello Everyone and welcome to the April 2022 edition of The Nap Times! If you are receiving this and do not want a monthly newsletter from me, simply unsubscribe at the bottom. I totally get wanting to simplify and declutter your inbox and will not take it personally. 
This newsletter topic was sent in by y'all and right when I saw it I thought: YES! This is a great topic idea! It's all about cooking on vacation and also a list of the miscellaneous items we always pack when heading to a rental. Then, we will end the way we always do with current things I have read/listened to/watched. 
Let's begin, shall we?
I should open by telling you I am one of four. And all of us are married and have kids. When we go on a family trip with my parents, there are (currently) ten adults and nine grandchildren. There is a LOT of food. A lot of what I say below might not translate perfectly for you, but I do hope it helps you think for meals when planning your own family trips. Oh man…even as I type this my mind is moving faster than I can get my fingers to move…I love this topic!
FIRST OFF: You need someone to be the planner/ring leader. 
This person is willing to start the email, make the spreadsheet, etc. In my family, this is my brother Will (#firstborn). In my friend group, this is Megan (also a #firstborn). Y'all, you NEED this person. And if you can quickly identify who that is in your own family/friend group, I hope you make a point to thank them on the next family gathering. We poke fun at my brother Will, but the truth is, we would flounder without him. 
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Above is an old photo I found of Will, frying fish for us in the Bahamas in 2017.
Next up: allow people to play to their strengths
What I mean by this is that not everyone has to cook a meal if that is very stressful for them. Allow them to do more of the snack/drink options. Or bring staples like paper towels and dish soap. All of my siblings (and their spouses) are incredible cooks, but we also play to our strengths. I can guarantee you I will never be the one to prepare meat on a family vacation, unless it's chicken in an enchilada. My brothers can prepare meat and seafood to perfection, and there is no better chicken pot pie in the world than my sister Anna's. My SIL Meredith is going to make incredible sides to go with the seafood and my SIL Nina is the queen of bringing food for the kids. Mom is going to bring something delicious, and usually handles all the paper products (and many of the things on the list I will share last). If I showed up without some form of brownie (the current favorite are my Andes brownies) there's a high chance I would be sent home. 
Eating dinner on vacation with kids
In my family, everyone has smaller mouths to feed and is also willing to eat a later dinner in order to have a break from said smaller mouths. We usually make an earlier dinner for the kids (1-2 people hop on this around 5pm) and then enjoy a much later adult dinner after we put the little ones to bed or put a movie on for them. The kids are going to eat things like chicken nuggets, macaroni, grilled cheese, and cut up fruit. Every. single. night. 
This is vacation. 
No one is stressing about proper fruits and veggies, and those that stop pooping get applesauce or a yogurt. End of story. 
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Saint Berta with the kids breakfast. Last year she got them cups made with lids and their names on them and this was a GAME CHANGER with having less dishes to do. 
It is important to remember when on vacation that you eat more than just dinner. For that reason, when Will sends out his sign up list, he includes more than just dinners. We have a spot for each breakfast and dinner, and a spot to sign up for lunch items (think deli meat, cheese, bread, etc.). This, like I mentioned above, is a great opportunity for someone who feels less confident cooking dinner to contribute to all the lunch necessities. 
My favorite method for doing meal sign up is a googledoc that everyone can edit. This is also perfect because you can make a copy of it for the following year, and add anything to it that you realize you forgot this year so you don't forget it next year!
My friend Lisa's family does the spreadsheet so well. It's honestly so impressive that I asked Lisa if I could put a screenshot of it below and she kindly obliged. As you can see, everything is accounted for. And each year they simply make a copy and delete the names so people can sign up for what they wish to bring.
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Above is Lisa's family spreadsheet. Please note that her dad signed up for gumballs. 
Grandpas are the best ❤️
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Above is a preview of how my family does it for food items, including breakfast and lunch.
This can be a pain point for everyone, and I think you could handle it one of two ways. Either, the family that cooks dinner that night is also in charge of dishes, or, you rotate in such a way that the family who cooked dinner doesn't have to do the dishes. And I know that there are far more dishes than just the dinner meal!
At the end of the day, I think you have to recognize that everyone is on vacation. Everyone wants to relax, but there are still chores to do. If you are an early riser, perhaps you just make a point to unload the dishwasher every morning. No, it's not fun. Yes, you are on vacation. But it's a wonderful way to serve the people you love. 
On the note of lots of dishes, I also think it's a great idea to give everyone their own cup! Whether you splurge for a personalized option, or simply bring a sleeve of solos and a sharpie, everyone having one cup they use and keep track of will save you in the dish washing department!
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If you notice that you are festering with anger that you seem to be doing a lot while others are doing nothing, I think you have to either suck it up, or be honest. If you don't want to cause a scene, I think you could simply suggest that each person take a different day to handle the dishes. I do believe, however, that you will expend more energy in being angry and keeping score than you will if you just take the five minutes, load the dishes, and get on with the day. 
When we are on vacation, my mom shoulders a ton of the dishwasher loading/unloading load. I think she watches us wrangling the kids and sees this as a way to serve. She doesn't complain, she just quietly does it. It's something I have always noticed and appreciate. 
You can thank Berta and Barbara (my friend Lisa's mom) for this list! Depending on your rental, you might not need to bring all of these things or prefer to purchase once you get there. We divide this so everyone brings 1-2 things and no one has to make a grocery trip upon arrival.
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*I am going to use this section to only share things I read/watched I would suggest to another person. I definitely read/listened to/watched some duds! 

I finished the The Midnight Library (by Matt Haig) and I now understand why it has 4.3 stars and 152,000 ratings on Amazon. It was as good as I had hoped! It's a fiction, but is making such a broader point about the life we live and the regrets we carry. Matt Haig is able to broach this heavy topic with such a lovable main character (Nora). The subject matter is important, but the book remains lighthearted. I will be thinking about this book for months to come and would suggest it to anyone. 
I also am almost through listening to the three part audiobook compilation of Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work!, and Keep Going (all by Austin Kleon). Steal Like An Artist came at the suggestion of The Nester via her Newsletter The Cozy Minimal {List} (one of few newsletters I read and love). She is always pointing to beautiful things and great ideas…it is such a fun read! All three are super short (you can listen to all of them combined in about six hours), and there is a high chance I will buy these three books to read again and underline. If you are a creative in any field (which really, we all are) I would read or listen to these. 
And yes, I am still HEAVY on the Wordle train and it is one of the highlights of my day! I love how it causes me to use my brain early in the morning. 
The kids and I are still watching The Great British Baking Show FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. It is honestly one of the most enjoyable things in my life right now. And that's not to say my life isn't enjoyable…it's that British Baking is SO ENJOYABLE. If I could go back in time, I would have started this in 2020. It would have been balm for the soul during those early pandemic days. We started in Season 5 (which I know likely isn't wise but that is what Netflix offers). After this season I am going to go in search of seasons 1-4. From what I have learned, I can only watch seasons 1-2 on PBS/ so looks like I will be watching on my laptop for the next month. 
Alright friends, that's all I have for you this month. I hope some of the tips for planning meals on family trips are helpful. Take those that work for you and your family, leave those that don't. Have a wonderful May,