Posts by christy:

Are We There Yet?

must haves for road trips with kids

With the holiday season approaching, travel is routine for many families. We happen to have extended family within reasonable driving distance, so we are used to packing up our kiddos and hitting the road.  This post is dedicated to my top 10 must haves for road trips with kids.

Must Haves for Road Trip with Kids

10.  Snacks and water.  

Then, more snacks.  Then, back-up snacks. Within arm’s reach!  I pack a small cooler of healthy, perishable snacks – cheese sticks, Gogurt sticks, apple juice, etc.  Then, a bag full of fruit (already cut-up or prepared), crackers, raisons, baggies of dry cereal, etc.

Oh, and a few treats you wouldn’t normally give your child (maybe fruit snacks, or animal cookies, or bite-size candies – whatever is special for your kids).  I use these as incentives and rewards, if (ahem…when) needed!

As for water, I allow for each person to have at least two bottles worth, depending on the length of the trip.

9.  A package of baby wipes.  

No matter how old your children are, I find that baby wipes can pretty much clean up any mess.  Messy faces, messy carseats, messy floors, messy anything.

8. One fabric box bin per child traveling with you.

You can find these at almost any store or online – I got mine at Target.  I’ve tried backpacks with zippers (they usually get dumped within the first 10 minutes of the trip), back pockets of seats (they can’t reach their things), and cute little gift bags (again, dumped quickly).

My kids want to see all of their toys and books and travel games at the same time…hence the ceremonial dumping. In these fabric storage bins, your child can easily see what they want.  And the bins can (mostly) fit in the middle seat between their car seats.  Easy to reach, easy to see. Minimal dumping on the floor.

7.  Now fill those bins with toys, books, and car safe games!  

I typically include small books, matchbox cars, little dolls, stickers, dollar items or trinkets I’ve picked up in my travels, etc.  Small, but fun items.  Oh, and each kid’s lovey or favorite stuffed animal.

I also love etch-a-sketches.  This may be a little old-school, but if your kids want to color, this is SO much easier than managing crayons and markers.  Crayons and markers roll, drop, and scribble on car seats.

6. An extra pair of clothes or jammies for each kid.

Plus, diapers, undies, training pants, socks, etc. easily accessible. My munchkins are notorious for spilling drinks, wiping sticky stuff on them, squeezing ketchup at lunch…on their pants, etc.  It’s much easier when new clothes are handy, versus digging through a suitcase in the trunk.

5.  A first aid kit and any medicine you will need for the day.  

The worst is when you need a band aid. Or children’s Tylenol. Or a dose of the antibiotic your kiddo is on. Or ibuprofen (for you!).  And, you packed it safely away in a cosmetic bag in your suitcase, on the bottom of the pile in the trunk.  Lovely.

4.  Blankets for your kids.  

My kids tend to get chilly with air conditioning. Or, if you’re wanting them to snuggle up (if that’s even possible in their carseat) and sleep, blankies are a good thing to have tucked within arm’s reach.

3.  An arsenal of car games. 

I Spy.  Alphabet I Spy.  The license plate game.  Everyone look for a [insert color] car.  Make-up silly stories…everyone takes a turn and adds a sentence.  Rhyming games.  Silly songs.  What starts with the letter [insert letter].

It depends on your child’s age.  I try to play these games earlier on in the trip when everyone is still fairly fresh.  Then, when boredom takes hold, the kids get restless, and scabbling/whining/kicking the seat creeps in, I break out the….

2. DVD players OR iPads OR tablets.  

Whatever technology your family uses for watching movies or shows remotely.  Oh, and kid-safe head phones.  I once got stuck on an eight hour car ride listening to Yo Gabba Gabba on repeat. On LOUD repeat. Fun little kid show. A little much for eight hours. Headphones are an excellent investment.

1.  Chargers for the car.  

Phone, iPad, iPod, DVD Players, tablets – whatever the technology, bring the back-up car charger.

I hope this list of must haves for road trips with kids comes in handy. Or, at least helps you keep your sanity. Try to start your trip well rested (emphasis on try), remember…you got this, mama!  Safe travels!

What are your must haves and go-to’s for a long car ride with kids?  Share below!

Elf on the Shelf Does Birthdays!

elfbirthdyas

I just found out about this cute Elf on the Shelf birthday tradition and I had to share with you. Elf on the Shelf does birthdays!

My mother-in-law called me all excited a couple of days ago…because she had just seen Kathie Lee Gifford interview the authors of, “Elf on a Shelf,” and she asked me if I knew that our family elf is able to visit on our child’s birthday?

How long has this been going on, and how am I just finding out about this?!

As the authors explained during the interview, Santa loves birthdays. And he loves that each child has their own holiday so he wants to help them celebrate!

But you must write to Santa in advance to ask if your family’s elf can join you on your birthday. You can send a message to Santa on their website.

Then hopefully Santa will give your elf the “day off” to visit and observe all the festivities of the day.

There are few things in life that my children love more than our beloved family elf, Jingles.  They take her presence very seriously. (Yes, it’s a girl elf.  My daughter was absolutely insistent that Jingles is a GIRL, mom.  So I wrote Santa last December and asked him to deliver a skirt so that Jingles would be more comfortable.)

Even my littlest one…who was introduced to Jingles at only two, still asks throughout the year, “Mama, when our Jingles come back?” with big, hopeful puppy dog eyes.

So for this sweet little elf to appear on their birthdays? Oh.my.word.

There is a full Elf on the Shelf birthday kit you can order which includes the Elf on the Shelf: A Birthday Tradition book and birthday outfit for your elf to wear to the birthday party.

My little girl turns six in November, so it’s a must.  I am super excited, and can’t wait to see her surprised little face on her birthday morning. I wonder what that silly elf will be up to!

This would also be a GREAT Christmas gift to give your kids on Christmas morning. 

During the interview, the authors also said that a dollar from every book is going to charity water because Santa wants to make sure birthdays are celebrated all over the world. Love this.

If you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf phenomena, click here.  I highly recommend this adorable little tradition during the holiday season.  It has become very much a part of our every December.

Stay tuned for more Elf on the Shelf blogs as the holidays approach!

Has anyone else’s family elf visited them for their child’s birthday?  Any fun stories to share?  If so, comment below!

Jar of Thanks

jar of thanks

With November starting in full swing and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I am reminded more and more about expressing my gratitude – and encouraging my kids to do so as well.  I found the cutest idea on parents.com ~ a jar of thanks you can turn into a family thankful garland for Thanksgiving.

Jar of Thanks

Have your family start in early November and contribute to the jar everyday until Thanksgiving.

You’ll need lots of little pieces of paper or notecards…big enough to write a few words on, but small enough so a bunch of them can fit in your jar or container.

Then designate a glass vase, mason jar, clear bowl – whatever you have on hand – to designate as your “jar of thanks.”

Each day, have every family member write down one thing they are grateful or thankful for that day and drop it in the jar. Your kiddos can also practice their writing if they are old enough, and you can keep their thankful notes as a keepsake to look back on.

We are keeping the jar where everyone can see it, as a daily reminder to be happy for everything we have.

Make a Thankful Garland

On Thanksgiving, we plan to do as the parents.com idea suggests, and put up each “note of gratitude” from our jar of thanks by clothespin, and make a thankful garland to hang over our buffet table.

You can even use inexpensive fall foliage garland from Michael’s to dress up your garland to make it look fall festive. I found cooking twine works great to hang the clothespins on and it fits with the look as well.

Crafty, practical and adorable, all while teaching a lesson of gratitude.  Love it!  Thanks parents.com!

How do you and your family talk about being thankful?  Any fun crafts to share in honor of Thanksgiving?  Please comment below!

A Spooky Halloween Craft to Do With Your Kids

Halloween Craft for Kids

Here is a spooky Halloween craft for kids that will help set the mood for holiday fun!

My munchkins love craft time…and this mama isn’t always the craftiest on the block. So, I was super excited to come across this fun Halloween project idea on Pinterest last year – little ghosts made out of your kiddos’ footprints. Last year I made one for each set of grandparents and myself!

There are lots of variations – different Halloween shapes, handprints, footprints, different fall colors, different backgrounds –  but this is how I did this Halloween craft for kids.

I hope you and your little ones have just as much fun as we did!  Are mine professional-looking? Absolutely not. But the kiddos and I had so much fun making them!  Gotta love those little feet!

Halloween Craft Supplies: 

– Orange, yellow and white paint (your choice of brand)

– An orange colored plate (I bought mine from The Dollar Tree) – you can also do paper plates, nice quality white plates, plaques, really any background or palette that you want!  It depends on how you want to arrange the colors.

– Black permanent marker

Steps:

Phase 1

– Paint your little ones feet with white paint.

– Carefully (I stress, carefully!), have them make their footprint on the plate upside down…make sure that their toes are spread out, so their toes are the ghost’s bottom part.

– Let the footprint(s) dry.

– Once dry, you can take the permanent marker and make eyes on the heel of the footprint (I also added a nose and a smile!) to the ghost’s “face.”  Then, I took the permanent maker and carefully outlined the ghost (you can make the outline as thick or as thin as you want it).  I also added a little more white paint to create a more ghost-looking shape.

– I wrote the year to commemorate the kiddos little feet size.

Phase 2

– Once everything was dried, I took the permanent black marker and evenly spaced out small triangles around the edge of the plate (the “candy corn.”)

– You can also write any Halloween or “spooky” message you want – I added “Happy Halloween” and “Boo!” (see picture).  I’ve seen some that say “Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet!”

– Then I painted yellow on the bottom of each triangle, orange in the middle and white on the top.  Ta da!  Now you have your candy corn.  In whatever pattern on the plate that you want.

– Let everything dry!  And enjoy your new “ghosts!”

NOTE:  These are for display only…not as serving platters or plates!

 What is your favorite Halloween craft or project to do with your kids?  Share below!

6 Easy Service Projects To Do With Your Kids

Service Project Ideas to Do With Your Kids

I am a firm believer in teaching my kids the importance of serving others…giving back and thinking about something bigger than themselves.  So here are 6 easy  service project ideas to do with your kids!

1. Decorate Cards for a Local Nursing Home

Spread some cheer to a local nursing home, hospital, or assisted living care home…have your kiddos make cards or pictures with stickers, glitter, crayons…wherever your kid’s creativity takes them.  It can be “just because,” or  themed toward the next holiday on the calendar.

Then, have your kids come with you to deliver them.  And watch the smiles spread…

2. Send Letters to Our Troops

While you are decorating cards, how about making some for our troops?  There is a service called, “A Million Thanks,” that is designed to show our appreciation for our U.S. military men and women

Have your kids create pictures, color cards, write notes of thanks…whatever you want…as a thank you to our troops.  Make them generic…”A Million Thanks”  actually delivers your cards and letters to our military for you – active, reserve, and veterans!

This is a great way to continue to teach your kids about the importance of freedom, and respecting and appreciating the men and women who protect it everyday.

Click here to learn more…and find the nearest letter drop-off site for your cards.

3. Set up a Hot Chocolate and Cookie Stand 

Summer may be over, but it’s not too late to set up a hot chocolate stand.  Make a batch of hot chocolate or warm apple cider (yum!), bake something delicious (I love cookies because they’re simple and easy to bake in bulk), and collect your tips.  

Once the goodies are gone…or your kids poop out…count out the money together and let your kids decide who to give it to. It can be a charity, a cause you believe in, your school, your church…whatever is important to you and your family.  

4. Donate Old Clothes, Toys and Shoes

This is one of my favorites.  As moms, we are constantly on the lookout for too small clothing, toys that aren’t played with, and honestly, how to get rid of so much kid clutter, right?  Instead of being stealthy and waiting until your kids go to school, or go to sleep to bag up items, ask your kids to pick five things each they would like to give to another little boy or girl who needs it.

The key here is to let them pick.  I explain to my kids that we are choosing clothes and toys to share with other children that need them.  My son can fill his bag in three seconds, easily parting with five toys or trinkets.  My daughter goes to her room and quietly assesses everything she owns, and it may take her up to an hour to pick her five things.

But they both take ownership in the process. I have them help me bag everything up to go to whatever toy/clothing drive or donation drop-off location we are giving to. So they can see where it’s actually going and how they are helping others.

5. Collect Canned Foods for a Local Food Bank

This is a simple way to give back…by collecting canned foods at the grocery store or in your own pantry.  You can make this as elaborate (organizing a larger canned food drive among your school class, activity group, club, neighborhood street, etc.), or simply keeping it to you and your kids.  

Once you decide your canned drive is complete, pick a charity or food pantry to give your cans to.  Have the kids come with you for drop off.  Simple and effective.   Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County is a great organization helping to feed those that are hungry, right in our own backyard.

6. Gather Old, Worn Out Blankets and Towels

Animal shelters and vets are constantly looking for old towel and blanket donations for their furry friends.  This is a super easy project to do with your kids.  Gather up your blanket/towel donations, bag them, and take your kids with you to deliver them.  Explain that they are helping keep animals warm and cozy!

More Ideas…

– Check out OneOC.org for local family service project ideas to do with your kids and youth volunteering options.

Volunteermatch.org

Do you have a favorite service project or idea that you like to do with your kids?  If so, please share below!

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