An Apology from the World’s Worst Mommy Blogger

My dearest Reader (all 12 of you):

I am sorry. I would like to express my deepest apologies for the sporadic nature of my recent blogging (or lack there of) activity.

Tri-X 400 @ 1600. Rodinal 1:100 for 1h. Formulary TF-5 for 6 minutes. Scanned using a Hasselblad Flextight X1

*Photo credit to Timothy Brown

It appears that I have not posted here since February. Seeing that it is now June, I don’t suppose you’d want to hear about my Spring Cleaning ideas or my tips about surviving the end of the school year. It’s not that I haven’t thought about you guys or even sat down to sketch out an outline or write a few paragraphs. It’s just that, well, I haven’t.

There you have it, folks. I have managed to single-handedly create a whole new level of mommy guilt. Here’s the worst of it: I did it willingly.

I entered into this blogging thing knowing that this could/would probably happen. Like most things in life, I (we) have these unrealistic expectations of  myself (ourselves) and then when I (we) don’t achieve these self-imposed unattainable goals, I (we) feel like I (we) have failed, letting myself (ourselves) and others down.

I am just being real here. That is what I set out to do with this blog, after all. Life happens. Things get pushed to the back burner and goals change. Ultimately, my children are fed, clothed and mostly happy. Our house is still standing and fairy clean and my hubby still loves me (Bless his heart). So if you all don’t mind, I am going to grant myself some grace here and call that a success!

I do have several blog posts in various stages of completion. Stay tuned and thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Make Do Mommy Goes to Work: Movie Night!

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Photo by SidewaysSarah

TGIF, right!?! Since I started working again, I have deemed every Friday night, “Movie Night.” Mostly this just means that I always cook pizza on Friday nights and my kids get to watch a movie. They get really excited about movie night. It gives us all something to look forward to (it also simplifies meal planning. Every Friday = Pizza).

movies2

What they don’t realize is that it is really a ploy that mommy uses to get them bathed and ready for bed quickly. I start the dough (see recipe below) and let it rise while I bathe them. I start the movie and proceed to prepare the pizza and get it in the oven. Once it is finished, we chow down on the cheesy goodness and when the movie is over (usually around 6:30 or 7:00) they are ready for bed. It has worked out beautifully for all involved. They are happy and mommy is happy!

The best part is, once they are in bed (early, of course, after a long week of school) the hubs and I usually enjoy a movie night of our own and snuggle up on the couch for some quality time.

Don’t you just love Fridays!

Sister-in-law’s Pizza Dough Recipe:

recipe2

Notes about this recipe:

  • The recipe can be doubled if you have lots of hungry mouths to feed.
  • It can be done by hand but the KitchenAid is a life saver!
  • Use good quality ingredients. Our favorites are: Kind Arthur flour, Kraft mozzarella cheese with Philadelphia, Classico pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, and fresh veggies (for the grown-ups)
  • Start out with 10 minutes and go from there. Cook time will vary depending on your oven.

making the pizza

 

The finished product: Yum!

finished pizza collage

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Sticks and Rocks and a Cardboard Box: My Ultimate Holiday Toy Guide

Sticks, Rocks and a Cardboard Box

There you have it. My ultimate guide to quality toys this holiday season. Allow me to explain: I HATE toys. No really, I do. The plastic, the clutter, the never ending supply of tiny little pieces. YUCK! Now don’t get me wrong, we have toys in our house, plenty of them. I have even been known to buy a toy or two for my kids, but believe me I did not enjoy it. I have found that the fewer toys they have, the more creative thier play tends to be.

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After a few years of observing the patterns of play in my children as well as other children, I have come this conclusion: kids do not NEED toys. I know it seems extreme.  However, we have all observed this classic scenario: buy the kid a really expensive gift and all they want to play with is the box.  I try to make a concerted effort not to let too many toys in and to give away any excess toys that we have outgrown.

 

I also used to pack toys for the kids when we would travel. Now, I just ask myself, “Do they have sticks and rocks there?” Yep. Then we are good. Let’s go. They will play for hours outside with sticks and rocks. (You could also go with the indoor cousin of sticks and rocks, the pom pom and popsicle stick, if necessary). Throw in a cardboard box (crayons and/or markers if you are feeling crazy) and maybe a bed sheet and you have hours of fun and imaginative play.

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We have also reached a lovely new era of INDEPENDENT PLAY in our household! And all the Mamas said, “Amen!” My two cherubs have finally gotten to the place where they can go in their rooms or the basement playroom and entertain themselves for an extended period of time (we are talking half an hour or more). HEAR THIS: it is not a love fest where they both hold hands and sing Kumbaya. We live in the real world here, people. Nine times out of ten it ends in tears and/or timeout and ten times out of ten it ends in a mess. However, it is a lovely new phase and I have enjoyed listening to all of the fun games and stories they have come up with together.

 

The bottom line is I want my kids to use their brains. There are lots of great educational toys out there and we have some of them. But if you ask me, all you need is some fresh air and a good supply of sticks, rocks and a cardboard box or two to keep those crazy kids entertained for hours.

 

By the way, is anyone getting a refrigerator for Christmas? We could really use a fresh box.signatureMDM

-Ish: A Lesson in Mom Time

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

JD-https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Before having children, I considered myself a fairly punctual person. It was actually kind of a point of pride. I could plan my time accordingly and arrive at my destination with plenty of time to spare. I also took personal offense when people were late. My time is just as valuable as yours, right?

Well my chronologically challenged friends, I would like to openly apologize for my prior prejudice and beg your potentially delayed forgiveness. Something happens to you when you become a mom. A big black time-sucking vortex opens up in the universe somewhere and begins stealing away minutes, hours and maybe even days or your well intentioned and well-ordered time. It absolutely doesn’t matter how early you wake up. It does not matter what time you “intended” on leaving the house. It does not matter if you have a flawless game plan (maybe even displayed in a tiered flowchart) of how you will arrive at your destination early (ha!) or on time. It does not matter! YOU. WILL. BE. LATE.

This fact we must accept.

The baby will decide that she must eat, RIGHT THIS MINUTE! The potty-training toddler finally decides that he must go, NOW! The preschooler left her favorite toy at the breakfast table and CANNOT leave the driveway without it. Your school-aged child forgot the random thing (INSERT: worksheet, shoe box, class pet, etc.). The teacher will be soooo disappointed and all of her friends will hate her and the world is going to end if she doesn’t bring it. The teenager forgot his cellphone that is charging on the bedside table and could not possibly go an entire day without sending or receiving texts to/from the friend that he is literally sitting beside. And all of this is just getting to/in the car. I haven’t even addressed the domestic travesties that have occurred before we even get to this advanced segment of our journey. You get the picture. You are living it.

So here is my proposal, sweet perpetually late mommy friends. Let’s all just agree to grant each other some grace and go with a new system of timekeeping and appointment-making.  I like to call it the “-ish.”

If I make a play date with you for 10:00 A.M. let’s just automatically add an “-ish” to the end of the number ex. 10-ish. I will actually see you sometime between 10:15 and 11. No need to text or call to tell me you are running late. I get it. I am, too!

If we have a doctor’s appointment. I know it is very important to be on time.  I will do my very best to move heaven and earth to get there at the predetermined hour of 8:30 A.M. But let’s be honest. That’s a big ask. We all know it will be more like 8:30-ish when we drag our crying, whining, tardy selves in there. And hey, you are running late too Doc. Cut a gal some slack, eh?

Your time is no longer your own. Your hours are now directed by those tiny humans that have taken over your home and your heart. What time did they eat, sleep, poop, etc.?

The moral of the story is that in 18 short/long years your time will be your own once more. You can, again, return to being your appointment keeping, punctual self. In the meantime, I will see you for coffee at 11(ish).

 

P.S. Have you guys seen this watch? Ha!

 

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Make Do Mommy Goes to Work:Making School Lunch

lunch with Boogie

My boy with a sweet friend at a special school lunch.

So here it is. All the wisdom that I have gained about making school lunches can pretty much be summed up in these 5 simple strategies:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Do it the night before.
  3. Buy great containers.
  4. Stock your fridge.
  5. Include a note.
  1. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated. I find that my kids are pretty much guaranteed to eat everything in their lunchbox if I stick to an easy formula. I literally wrote it out last school year on a piece of paper (below). My basic formula is Main Dish + Veggies + Fruit + Treat = Lunch! That’s it! The specifics and amounts will vary from child to child based on tastes, allergies, age, etc. but it’s pretty simple. This formula cuts down on my prep time while still ensuring that the kids get enough yummy, healthy food to keep the “crabbies” away all day. Also, remember to pack food that you know they will eat. Lunch is not the time to experiment with new flavors. Save the new taste explorations for family dinner time.formula
  2. I have tried making lunches both at night and in the morning. Night wins every time. If I wait until morning I end up cursing my past self. Why did you do this to me!!! I have even started packing lunches while I clean up from dinner. That way I don’t have to dirty up the kitchen a second time and I can quickly and easily pack leftovers in lunches and VOILA. Lunch! Suck it up buttercup and pack the lunch the night before. You will thank yourself in the morning.

    clock

    Photo credit: Ryan Johnson

  3. I love the bento style lunch box. There are so many choices out there. In researching this type of container, I googled Bento lunch boxes. I came across this box.  They are great! These were by far the most economical choice and came with the bag, individual containers with lids and ice packs included. One disadvantage to this particular lunch box is a very limited selection of colors and patterns.  Despite that, I prefer this type of lunch packaging over regular lunch boxes with a bunch of random baggies or individual packs of crackers, cookies, granola bars, etc. Too much waste and often too difficult for little fingers to open. True, you have to wash the containers everyday but you can buy in bulk, you will save money on plastic baggies and Mother Earth will thank you.
  4. I try to have lunch in mind when I do our weekly grocery shopping. For the most part, I don’t buy “special” items for school lunches. I buy a few extra items like crackers, fruit leather, and a couple of other “treat” items but for the most part I just make sure that I have all of our staples well stocked and on hand so that I can whip up a yummy and nutritious lunch with as little hassle and headache as possible.

    Photo credit: Ramona Klee

    Photo credit: Ramona Klee

  5. My boy is old enough this year to enjoy getting a note in his lunch and more notably old enough to notice when I don’t. So pretty much every day, I put a sticky note with some sort of message on it (stickers are also a quick and easy way to jazz up the lunch note). My kids can’t read, but the teacher reads them the notes and they really love it. I do NOT do the whole elaborate lunches with special shapes and cat faces made out of sandwiches, but I can make the meal special by giving them a little love note to brighten their day.Lunch Love Note

*From time to time, I do try to make a “themed” lunch but this is always super simple. The “special” lunches can make it easier for the kids to participate in choosing of thier preferred lunch.  Do you want a “Hulk” lunch (all green foods)? Do you want a “Spiderman” lunch (all red foods)? Do you want an orange lunch? You get the drift.

Here is a sampling of a few of the lunches I have made so far this year. (feel free to comment or contact me if you want to know any of the specifics of the below pics)

Lunch 2 Lunches 1

So where can you find some recipes and more ideas? I absolutely love Weelicious for the kid-friendly recipes (her pancakes are our favs!) and here is my “Kid Food” board.

Follow Lindsey’s board kid food on Pinterest.


So get out there and pack some lunches!

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Make Do Mommy Goes to Work: What’s for Dinner?

askmewhatsfordinner

Original Photo by Jay DeFehr

In just two days I will embark on a new journey as a working mom. In another life a million and a half years ago, I was a middle school teacher. I am rejoining those ranks, ever so briefly, this fall as a long-term substitute teacher. I will be teaching 8th grade Physical Science to some lovely, angelic teenagers (here’s hoping) through October.

This change in situation has brought our need for routine and order at home to all new heights. There are lunches to prepare, clothes to lay out and folders to be signed. Not to mention all of the other duties like cleaning house and making dinner. Yikes! Did someone say DINNER!?! Better get mine started…

*Cue the “hold” music…

Now that is in the oven, where was I? Oh, yeah. Dinner. This new chapter means a new schedule and routine, where days are long and time at home is precious and short. How do I love on my babies whom I have been away from ALL day while preparing a nutritious and delicious evening meal?

My answer: I’m not sure yet. J I’m certain my methods will evolve as time goes on. My goal this summer was to stock the freezer with lots of meals. I was going to use a plan like this or this. Or just make a double batch of whatever meal I was preparing that night for dinner. How many did I get in the freezer you might ask? That would be a big fat ZERO! Oops. My bad.

I have discovered that meal planning for my family is by far my least favorite task as a homemaker. I would rather scrub something, fold something or bake something than plan our meals for the week. Hence, I have used this meal planning website (http://www.thefresh20.com/) in the past and will continue to do so, if possible. I love it and highly recommend it. There are many options for special dietary needs and it is full of fresh vegetables and fruit, focusing on seasonal produce. It is a bit more time consuming than I can probably swing right now but we will see. There is a free sample week. You should try it out!

So here is my plan going forward. Example Meal Plan:

Monday: Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a Tossed Salad

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Breast with Grilled Asparagus and Baked Potato

Wednesday: Shrimp and Basil Pasta Bowls with a side of Zucchini

Thursday: Stovetop Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Garlic Green Beans

Friday: Pizza (We make our own but you can order or buy frozen as well)

Saturday: Out Somewhere/Anywhere

Sunday: Leftovers (This is grocery day so it is good to have an empty fridge to fill again)

I am planning 5 meals for the week. One will ALWAYS be in the crockpot, one will ALWAYS be on the grill and Friday will ALWAYS be pizza. That way I only have two other meals to think about. Those will be super simple and hopefully not very time consuming. A meat and 2 veg is our usual fare. We probably won’t eat quite as healthy as we do when I am home, but we will all survive and be happier for it. Pinterest is where I get most of my recipes these days. Check out my Food-Savory board to see what’s for dinner…

Follow Lindsey’s board Food- Savory on Pinterest.

Stay tuned for other posts in the MDM Goes to Work Series.

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Travel Series: Is it time for the beach yet?

A Day at the Beach

ben at beach1

Since we are planning on spending a large amount of time at the beach on our trip, I thought I would dedicate this last entry in the series to the subject. There is a plethora of information and tons of other blog posts out there on this topic. These are just my nuggets of wisdom to share, some from experience and some from research.

*I apologize in advance for all of the “S”‘s. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop myself.

Safety– Have this talk with your kids before they even see the water. After they have laid eyes on that great big beautiful body of water, they will no longer be listening to you.

  1. Stay where Mommy can see you.
  2. Don’t go out deep without an adult.
  3. Wear your swim gear (if applicable, life vest, puddle jumper,etc.).
  4. If it is a crowded beach you may want to have the “stranger” talk. These ID tattoos are pretty amazing or a D.I.Y version that can be found here.

Sunscreen– I usually slather a thick coat of baby sunblock on the kids as I am putting their swim gear on so it has a chance to soak in and so that I know they have been fully coated. I do an extra application of the stick stuff on the face as well. After that, it is recommended that you reapply every 90 minutes or so depending on your exposure and activity. Don’t forget those sensitive and often forgotten areas like ears, noses, lips feet and hair parts. Rash guards are good for sun protect for boys and girls (bright colors if possible for quick locating).
Snack and Drinks– This is a no-brainer. Bring lots of yummy snacks (some healthy and some not – we are on vacation after all). I try to avoid things that will melt and make a mess like chocolate and then provide LOTS of liquids-preferably water. It is usually best if the snacks are easy to open and eat. Individual sizes of things that don’t require adult dispensing or utensils are easiest but can cause excess litter.

Shoes- (Don’t skip this one, that sand is HOT!) Bring a pair of cheap flip-flops in case you need to toss those sand ridden things upon departure.

Shade- There are various and sundry versions of beach shade. From tarps and tents to umbrellas and pop-up awnings. Choose what is best for your family. We tried a tent but it literally blew away so we have opted for a version of this. We anchor it into the sand and lower it close to the ground so that the wind can’t get under it and lift it away.

                                 

 

Seats- Some choose blankets, sheets or towels on the ground. This can get sandy, but it is the beach after all. I have even seen a cool trick where you take a fitted sheet and turn it upside down with the cooler and other large items tucked into the four corners to give it structure, thus keeping the sides taut and the sheet hopefully sand-free.

Chairs, folding camp chairs or cheap beach ones, are usually what we opt for. Especially the ones close to the ground (see Shade above).

I’ve also heard really amazing things about this one.
:                                                                                               

Sleep– If your kids nap or have daily rest time, I highly recommend finding a way for them to sneak it in, even a small, nap/rest while you are at the beach. Do your best. It’s all fun and games until someone has a throw down tantrum in the middle of a nice restaurant later. 🙂 Nobody wants that!

There are many options:

    • Hold said child while he sleeps. HOT!
    • I have seen people hollow out a spot for a baby in the sand and cover it ( the hole not the baby) with blankets to make a little “bed”.
    • Pack ‘n plays on the beach (maybe buy an old one from Goodwill that you don’t mind getting sandy).                                                                                                                             
    • The little baby tents work great.
    • Even the foldable wagons with all of your stuff removed can create a good make-shift napping spot.
    • Maybe this for an older kid, if they would lay down.

Surf and Sand Toys- This one is also a no-brainer but I did see a really cool tip while preparing for our trip. Put the sandy toys in a mesh laundry hamper so that the sand will fall out but not the toys.

                                                                    

Sand Removal– The surf and sand are so much fun, until it’s not. When those kids want the sand off, they want it off NOW! This trick has saved me so many times that I have just started traveling with these two items in my van. A generous sprinkle of baby powder will remove the offending grains of sand and leave your little one smelling fresh. If you don’t like using baby powder, cornstarch is also a good substitute.
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Sand can get lodged in little eyes, as well, and cause a vast amount of pain and tears. Salt water is also irritating to those sensitive peepers. I keep a travel sized contact solution (saline) with us at all times in case something should get into their sweet little eyes.

Sitters- If you are lucky enough to be traveling with a hired sitter or extended family like we will be, having extra sets of eyes, ears and hands is always a welcome addition.

  • Need to run back up to the room for something? – “Hey will you keep an eye on them for me?”
  • Need to take only one kid to the potty in order to avoid a monumental meltdown in the other? – “Would you mind watching this one for a couple of minutes?”
  • Need a 5-minute mental health break? – “Would you mind watching the kids for me while I take a solo walk down the beach and back?”mama1

Thanks, Family!

Supplemental- These are a few extra things that you may or may not find useful.

    • First Aid Kit- well stocked including jelly fish defense
    • Wipes (the disinfecting kind are great for a pre-meal hand wiping)
    • Waterproof speakers for music
    • A camera (in a resealable bag or other protection) or a LifeProof case for your phone so that you can safely capture those watery, sandy, precious moments
    • Cash for miscellaneous beach purchases
    • An inflatable baby pool. This is a great idea especially if you have little babies at the beach. Place the pool under your shade and use a bucket to fill with water. Keep baby cool, shaded, and content. Win!

I hope you and your family have an amazing trip to the beach. I want to hear all about it! What are your best beach tricks?

family on beach

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Travel Series: Why aren’t you asleep yet?

travel sleep

Travel Sleep

I certainly do not claim to be an expert on this topic via my vast experience. We are pretty much home bodies and don’t travel a whole lot with the kids. However, when the opportunity arises to take the Littles away somewhere, I tend to be a planner. A really BIG planner. Again, Google and I are pals. I love a good web search and I really love to be prepared. So I thought I would share some of the things that I have found helpful while traveling and sleeping with small children. Some of these have been gathered through good old fashioned word of mouth, some online and some through shear dumb luck and desperation for sleep.

  1. Relax your expectations: This is a MUST and is the hardest for me because sleep is so important in our family. I have to really work on this one. They will NOT sleep like they do at home. I must accept and move on.relax
  2. Suite or separate room (if possible): Our first born was awful at room sharing since he never had to do it much. So when mommy and daddy were in the room, he was like “Party Time!” I swear he could smell us.  Measures had to be taken! You may need to put them in the suite’s “kitchen” area, the closet, hall, etc. Sometimes just a little visual separation can help your child settle down and go right off  to glorious sleep. We have even used a spare bathroom for a “bedroom.” Don’t judge! It worked great. Plus it had awesome acoustics for the sound machine (see #4).hotel suite
  3. Other “Special” Visual Dividers: If you are not lucky enough (or too cheap, that’s me) to get a suite or extra room, we have discovered other less conventional ways of separating your snoozing child from your line of sight.
    1. Canary Baby (so named by a fellow blogger): Put the crib/pack ‘n play in a corner with two sides up to, but not touching, the wall (for ventilation) and cover the other exposed sides of the crib with gauzy blankets. These
      work great.
    2. Circus Tent: This one was devised by my husband’s cousin’s family and passed down to us. We have traveled with a dark blue sheet ever since. You place the crib in the corner or even in one of those recessed “closets” some hotels have. Take a black or dark blue sheet and a few strong tacks and attach the sheet to the ceiling, concealing the pack ‘n play. Tacky, I know but it worked! Obviously, don’t damage the room and make sure to put the sheet away from the reach of the baby. This one is super portable and has worked for us on several occasions.circus tent
    3. Room within a Room (also taken from my fellow blogging mom): Similar to the circus tent, you take an expandable curtain rod and put an inexpensive curtain on it. This is placed across the narrow entryway to the room (or any other narrow place in the room) and this creates a perfect makeshift “room” in which your little one can sleep.curtain
  4. Sound machine: We are big sound machine fans. I love these things. I know some people enjoy a good “Whale Call”, “Cricket Chirp”, or “Ocean Wave” but we stick with the old faithful, “White Noise”.  Simply turn it on and my kids are already halfway asleep. We even use them in the car from time to time. Oops! You forgot the sound machine. Never fear! I have even downloaded them as an app on my phone and/or iPad. Technology to the rescue! (Warning: Don’t turn them up super loud. Not good for little ear drums.) We use this one:
  5. Blow-up mattress: If your little one has graduated to a “big kid bed” you, may need to pack an air mattress. This is great if the kid is rooming in with you. I found this one online and it looks amazing. Very portable.
  6. Pack ‘n Play or Hotel Crib: Along with a safe and suitable sleeping apparatus, don’t forget to bring your own sheets and blankets from home to make it more familiar and comfortable.
  7. Bed rail/pool noodle: If your sweet sleeping cherub is lucky enough to be in their very own bed but may still roll out from time to time, you may want to think about making a pillow barricade around them or bringing an extra pool noodle to snug under the fitted sheet. I also found these awesome inflatable bed rails online. Brilliant!
    pool noodle
  8. Lovies- Of course don’t forget to pack your kids favorite comfort item(s) from home. God forbid you forget it. Bad, bad!

    Don't forget Mimi!

    Don’t forget Mimi!

A couple of good sites I found:

http://www.suitcasesandsippycups.com/2011/08/its-not-crazy-if-it-workstips-for-sharing-a-hotel-with-baby.html

http://bedtimebaby.com/travel-beds-for-toddlers/

So the moral of the story is: Plan ahead and then relax. They will get back on schedule, eventually. They will. Have a blast!

I would love to hear your travel sleep tricks. No matter how kooky or strange. If it works, it works. Share them in the comments below.

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Travel Series: Are we there yet?

car baby are we there yet

We are getting ready to hit the road for a beach adventure in a few weeks so I thought I would do a round-up of some helpful tips and tidbits that the interweb has to offer. 😉 Hope you find them helpful, too. Maybe I will do an update later and tell you how they worked (or didn’t).

*These are mostly for younger children. The teenager can pretty much handle himself these days.

TRAVEL DAY(S)

Departure

There are several schools of thought on when to leave. Trial and error may have already lead you to the “right” time for your family. We will probably leave pretty early since our kids are early risers and hit the trail when they are fresh, in good spirits. Some may choose to leave super-duper early or super late at night if they have car sleepers. We do not, thus this is not our “right” time.

Activities Along The Way

On the way– This is a really cool idea for an app. I haven’t been able to get it to work yet but basically you tell it your beginning and end points and it tells you great places to stop along the way.

Let’s pretend– This is a game (I hardly call it an actual game) that I made up out of necessity one trip whilst sitting in horrendous traffic with some super grouchy kids. We count down 5…4…3…2…1…Blast off! Then pretend anything we want. Where are we going? To the moon, to the beach, to the center of the earth? Go wherever your imagination takes you. One of our favorite destinations is an ice cream shop on a faraway planet. Play this as long as you want. Best part: No assembly required. Only brains needed.

A large bin/box/basket (within easy reach of all or duplicates for each child):

  • Food: It doesn’t matter if they are hungry or not. It will buy you some time. It is a scientific fact that it is harder to whine, cry, or complain with a full mouth. We are going to do these snack boxes, because my littles still can’t handle lots of open containers. Older kids could probably handle this version of a snack box and it would create less garbage to dispose of later. We stick with water to drink. Less mess. Plus, they don’t over consume causing extra stops (Heaven forbid!) .
  • Stock up on a few new toys at the Dollar Store: Silly putty, pipe cleaners, stickers, paper, pencils, crayons, etc. (Whatever you think your kid might dig that won’t make a crazy mess.)
  • Books: Lots and lots of books! (NOT library books, in case of spill, rip, or loss)
  • Wiki stix: We love these things. Hours of entertainment, no mess!

Audio books– We plan on getting several of these from our local library, but there are also websites for downloading audio books onto your devices if you have that capability:

http://www.travelsavvymom.com/blog/resources/the-best-audio-books-for-kids/

http://www.storynory.com/

Good tunes– You can play kid music (oh, the agony) or your own music (disks or playlists) if your kids will allow. We also enjoy a good baseball game on the radio.

Electronics– I try to save these as a last resort but certainly do not shy away from them either. Desperate times call for desperate measures. DVD players, iPads, handheld gaming devices, etc.  all fall into this category. Do what you gotta do! (Don’t forget the chargers, cords and/or extra batteries)

Here is a link to my Pinterest board for travel and a great website for family travel:

My Pinterest Board about Travel

http://www.travelsavvymom.com/

*This is also a really good idea that we may try next trip when the kids are a bit older.

Stop often. Be realistic about how far/long you and your kids can go. Plan to blow off some steam when you arrive at your destination and get those kiddos to bed. Tomorrow the fun begins!

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When Life Gives You Brown Bananas…

Brown Bananas

Make banana bread, of course!

I probably would not even be sharing this recipe except I had a MDM (Make Do Mommy) moment right in the middle of preparing it. I ran out of brown sugar. So I made some! (More on that later.) It was awesome and the bread turned out great.

Please excuse the hair and the bathing suit. We had been a the pool all day. Keepin' it real!

Please excuse the hair and the bathing suit. We had been a the pool all day. Keepin’ it real!

Our family consumption of bananas ebbs and flows. This week was a slow week in the banana department. There is so much yummy fruit that is ripe and on sale right now that we have veritable fruit salad to choose from in our produce drawer. Ye ole banana got pushed to the bottom of the list.

Nothing left to do but bake.

Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter (save the butter wrapper to grease the pan)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (I used this as a guide but honestly just eye-balled it. See pic below.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 or 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • cinnamon sugar for coating the sides of the pan

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease loaf pan (see above note about butter wrappers) and coat the insides of the pan with a cinnamon sugar mixture, in the style of buttering and flouring.  You could also make this into mini loaves or muffins if preferred.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients (reserving 1 tbsp. of oatmeal and brown sugar for the top.)

Beat mixture 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.

banana breadSpoon into pan. Sprinkle with oatmeal and brown sugar.

Bake 45-50 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes (if you can wait that long) before turning it out and cutting. Enjoy!

banana bread complete

 

*I have no idea where this original recipe came from. I have tweeked it so many times that I am claiming it as my own.

recipe card

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