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Our Road Trip to Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama – VLOG: Expert Mothers

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If you follow me in any way {outside of this blog} then you know that we recently took a last minute spontaneous road trip to see one of my favorite ladies in the entire universe, Natalie. Or as most refer to her as…The Busy Budgeting Mama.

First, let me start off by saying…I am not usually the “fly by the seat of your pants” type of momma.

Nope. It’s sad, but I usually need time to plan and stress and freak out before I take a long trip with three kids in tow.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

So when I mentioned to my husband that I thought we should take a road trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…he didn’t even need to know why or what for. He immediately jumped all over the fact that I was initiating a spontaneous adventure.

Soooo not like me.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

He also knew that if we didn’t plan it RIGHT then {and commit} that I would have too much time to think about it and change my mind.

So I text Natalie on a Sunday after church and broke the news to her that we wanted to bombard her home with 3 crazy boys. But not only did we want to bombard her house with 3 crazy boys…oh no…we wanted to be there in less than a week.


<<insert nervous blogger friend who was worried that certain people may think she was one sandwich short of a picnic>>

Except something ridiculously amazing happened? I didn’t even have to tell Natalie that we wanted to come immediately…her husband, Ben, suggested it first!


And that was that. Our 10 hour adventure to Pennsylvania was planned in less than 3 hours.

I first found Natalie’s blog when she wrote about the heart wrenching story of losing her best friend, Shannon, to an act of domestic violence. I remember crying through the entire post. I didn’t know Natalie or Shannon, but her posts were so emotional and raw. She had such a way about writing what was on her heart that I was immediately drawn in.

I saw how much she loved her best friend and how much time she devoted to helping woman who are grieving a loss of any kind.

I was hooked.

I was extremely excited when I learned that Natalie and her chubby adorable little guy, Micah, were going to be attending Blissdom this past year. But I never, in a million years, thought I would fall in love with Natalie like I did.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

She is one of those girls that makes everyone feel loved. I’m pretty sure I am not the only one at Blissdom that felt like Natalie’s new best friend. She just has a way with friendships.

I knew instantly that if she could carry around a 20lb infant with her the entire conference {and do it with a smile on her face the whole time} that we could be great friends.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

When we arrived in Pittsburgh I was tired, frazzled, annoyed, and regretting my decision that Sunday to “spontaneously” take 3 toddlers on a 10 hour car ride. To say that we stopped over 47 times would be nothing short of the truth.

Here’s a little tip to those of you traveling with toddler bladders…


Holy pee-fest batman.

All we did was drive from one rest area to the next for the first 4 hours of the trip. We even had to pull on an off ramp at one point because we couldn’t hold it any longer.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

One advantage of having little boys.

I’m pretty sure the road trip took us closer to 13 hours after all of the bladder emptying.

It didn’t take me long to snap out of my funk though. As soon as I walked through the doors of Natalie’s home…I was instantly grateful that we made the trek. Pee breaks and all.

Our children made immediate new friends with one another. Sophia and Sienna {her 3 & 4 year old} were the nicest…sharing their toys and showing the boys around.

Within the first 5 minutes of being there…I had felt like our families had been friends for the last 20 years. It’s amazing how the world of blogging can bring you together.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

I used to joke about people who found friends online. I thought it was absurd and silly. Why on earth would anyone need to use the Internet to find friends? Don’t people have enough real life friends?

I can now honestly answer that question by saying this…do you have to cap the amount of friends you have? Is there a limit to how many friends is acceptable in life?

Because I know, for me personally, any time I make a new friend…a true friend…it usually adds joy to my life in some way!

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

And Natalie and her family are no different.

Even our husbands hit it off.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

You might think that because she has sweet, pretty little girls {minus Micah who’s not old enough to make a ruckus yet} and I have crazy, wild boys that we wouldn’t have that much in common. Not the case.

I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed seeing what life was like raising the opposite gender.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

And it’s VERY different. As witnessed in the above images.

We spent a good amount of our time just hanging around the house because the kids were having too much fun out in the backyard not to.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

But we did venture to the park one evening…just another place to run off energy.

And boy mom or girl mom alike…running off energy is equally accepted.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

We also met up with another Pittsburgh boy mom blogger Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog and her precious family at the zoo.

I’m still wondering how we didn’t get more pictures together that day. I think we were too concerned about keeping track of the 8 kiddos that we had with us.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

Me, personally, I was concerned about making sure my children didn’t try to go pet the elephants. Ahem.

Because that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about when you are raising girls. But boys….different story. And Parker told everyone he met that weekend all about the elephants pooping.


On Saturday night Natalie did something super awesome…are you ready for this?????

She got us a babysitter!

Woot woot!

I mean, I love hanging out with 6 kids and all, but a chance to have adult time with JUST Natalie and Ben in the city…was much needed and greatly appreciated.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

I wish I could tell you we got all wild and crazy and hung out till 2 am dancing the night away. But Ben and Natalie are just like Jeff and Mandy…2 very tired exhausted parents who enjoy a nice dinner…a good dessert…a stroll over the city bridge…and our beds. :)

Call us lame. Go ahead.

We did have a mini photo shoot in the streets of Pittsburgh, but only because it was the perfect backdrop. It’s not everyday you can take pictures on a bridge.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

Monday came too fast and I’m not sure if I was sad to leave The Busy Budgeting Mama family {and the amazing dinner she made us the night before} or if I was ticked about having to drive 10+ more hours to get home.


I was definitely SAD to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts. And by wonderful I mean EXTREMELY wonderful.

I mean, who else offers up their home to a family of five with less than 6 days to plan for their arrival? Not to mention, it was a holiday weekend.

Oh yes, we crashed Ben’s Father’s Day. But luckily he shared his chocolate cake with us.

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

I’m already planning The Busy Budgeting Mama’s road trip to IL. :) I’m so thankful for taking the chance like I did…and asking Natalie if she was up for guests.

Have you ever gone out on a limb and taken a chance on a friendship? If not, I would encourage you to do so. You might be surprised at how rewarding it truly is!

The Road Trip To Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama - Expert Mothers

And of course, because there are no better mothers in the world besides Natalie and me, we filmed a little vlog to show you how easy it is to parent these angels. Hop on over to Natalie’s blog today too…she’s giving her full recap!

After all, we are experts.



  1. Julie Redd says:

    Thank you for sharing! It looks like you had so much fun. I am also a
    planner, organizer, and stress ball and rarely do things spontaneously, that would be crazy :) This post is inspiring and reminds me that our life with a toddler boy is normal…the screaming, crying, destruction of property, etc is all normal! Thank you for showing real life, not the “perfect” world we sometimes only see!

    • Mandy says:

      Yes, girl…so very normal! In fact, my kids are running around the house making farting noises as I type. Oh and they just knocked over the dog food bowl. :)

  2. Lol! I love this!! The video was SO CUTE!! Super jealous that you got to hang out with Natalie & her family!! Looks like you guys had a great time!!
    Tonya @ Love of Family & Home´s last blog post ..Punch Bowl Cake Recipe

  3. Ashley says:

    It helps so much to see that vlog. I am a mom to 3 girls…7, 4.5 and 1 and our live is so chaotic. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that everyone else’s kids behave better than mine. Thanks for showing me that we are just like everyone else!

  4. Dani says:

    Oh my goodness, your video is TOO funny! I’m glad both your families had so much fun! 😀

  5. Kelly says:

    I loved the video and can relate to pretty much every moment. :-)
    So glad that you took a chance, reached out, and make the trip. New friendships are amazing.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Carter is TWO!

  6. Karyn Lisk says:

    This is the cutest and funniest video I have watched in a long time! So true to life! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jesi says:

    Best. Video. Ever.
    This is the pure definition of parenting!
    Loved it! Glad you had a good trip!
    Jesi´s last blog post ..H54F

  8. Cute video! It had me smiling the whole time. :-)

    Sarah @ An Inviting Home´s last blog post ..When A Junk Drawer Is Just…A Junk Drawer

  9. Looks like you all had a great time! :)

  10. I just adore Natalie! I haven’t met her in person (although I’m a Pittsburgh blogger too) but I love her blog and I am so happy that she’s introduced us to you and your adorable family! The video is a adorable–I’m one of those “perfect” moms too! 😉
    Christine at More Than Mommies´s last blog post ..Christine’s Mommy TMI VLOG Featuring: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    • Mandy says:

      You should go to the Ohio Valley Blogger Meet Up at IKEA! I wish I lived closer so I could go! I am sure Natalie would love to meet you in person! Ok…going to check out your TMI vlog! 😉 Nice to meet you!

  11. Valerie says:

    Hi! I was reading through Natalie’s blog post about your trip and had to stop by and check out your blog. Totally loving your blog, I have already spent a good chunk of my morning checking it out. Looking forward to reading more!
    Valerie´s last blog post ..Brayden {16 & 17 Months}

  12. Brooke says:

    That was THE BEST video! I laughed so hard! It looks like you guys had so much fun!

  13. Jonie says:

    It’s amazing meeting new friends. I’ve just recently started my blog in hopes to simply inspire others. I have also been praying for God to bless me with a good true friend and lately, He has blessed me with several. I love reading about and watching how God works in other people’s lives.

  14. Laura says:

    Oh my word, the vlog! Best ever. :) Glad you ladies had such a great time!

  15. Angela says:

    Love the video! So funny! Looks like everyone had a great time! :)
    Angela´s last blog post ..Oh, How Pinteresting!

  16. Beth says:

    AAAACCCCKKK! I’m a Pgh-er, too! Sorry, I don’t know either of those blogs but I will-I only found yours recently. Hope you enjoyed the burgh. We think our town is the greatest!

    I lost a sorority sister to domestic violence and think its the most senseless, preventable crime ever, so I will be reading Natalie’s blog. Thanks.
    Beth´s last blog post ..My Review of Cyber School

    • Mandy says:

      Pittsburgh was so much fun….I see why you think your town is the best! 😉 You will definitely love Natalie’s blog…she does a wonderful job writing about domestic violence and women. Nice to meet you!

  17. I am cracking up over here! That video is awesome! I had so much fun hanging out with you girls, too…elephant poop and all! :) I’m so glad you guys had a great time in Pittsburgh! Now you’ll just have to come back! 😉

    ~Abby =)
    Abby @ Just a Girl and Her Blog´s last blog post ..I love lamp…finally!

  18. CB says:

    Let me just say…if you have boys (and you obviously do!) and are planning a road trip, save lots of 20oz water or soda bottles. They are instant port-a-potties 😉 You do not even need to unbuckle or stop the car 😉 Just make sure to save the lids and slow down a bit. Hope that’s not TMI!!!

  19. This made me so happy tonight. THANK you for posting it. :-)

  20. Shu says:

    Love this post! Sounds crazy and fun!!! I love the chocolate cake pic…. it looks like Micah’s head is coming out of the cake haha!

  21. Jenn says:

    Ya’ll, seriously, that just made my day!! Looks like such a wonderful, albeit somewhat chaotic, trip :) can’t wait to see what happens when Natalie’s crew heads up your way!
    Jenn´s last blog post ..Friday Fun List

  22. Kathleen says:

    I love that striped maxi dress! Where is it from?

  23. Marissa Haley says:

    I love the video! And this post! How fun! It looks like you guys had your hands full and how sweet was it of Natalie to get a babysitter for a little R&R adult time! :) I’m glad you guys had fun! Question: where on earth did you get your turquoise, black and white dress? It’s absolutely gorgers and that’s the style that I have been looking for and was hoping was out there somewhere! I love it!

  24. Nancy says:

    Haha! Yay!! Aww…I miss y’all! I wish I lived closer so I could make a road trip too! My kids are way older than yours so it’s not as bad but I get the…”Mommy! He’s on my side!! Tell him to stay off my side!!” And then I ceremoniously declare, “This whole car is MY side! So, why don’t y’all ride on the roof? How ’bout that?” Yep…I’m an awesome mom. Love you both!!! xoxo

    Nancy´s last blog post ..How to Communicate with Your Spouse More Effectively

    • Mandy says:

      Haha!! Maybe we could somehow work that out…because think how many problems could be solved if they rode on the roof! Miss your face!

  25. Oh.My.Word. DYING of laughter over here! You two look like you’ve been best friends for YEARS! Love this video..So.Much. :)
    Kenzie @ Life According to Kenz´s last blog post ..Coffee Date + Life Lately

  26. Ok, I don’t think I have laughed that hard in awhile. This is absolutely adorable ad hilarious!!! Love it! You two are seriously experts….you need to host online classes to teach us all how to be perfect, because I was beginning to feel like even with one kid that my life was {perfect}…ahem! NOT! Thanks for being real girl!
    xo, Jennifer
    Jennifer@ Blissfully Ever After´s last blog post ..Seattle’s Best #hoticed Giveaway+ DIY Coffee Recipes

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