Thursday, February 04, 2016

3 Kids, 3100 Miles and 0 Screens: What Worked and What Didn't

I left this in my drafts for awhile to make sure I hadn't forgotten to add anything. The only thing I forgot was to hit 'publish.'

The suitcases are empty, the laundry is (nearly) done and we've breathed a huge sigh of relief. We survived our Christmas road trip--and dare I say, it went much, much better than we ever expected. (Or maybe our expectations were too low to begin with?) We drove nearly 1200 miles (each way) plus another 600ish miles during our 10 day stay for a total of 3100 miles in 13 days. We also decided when our kids were younger that we weren't going to be using electronic devices on road trips, so that added a (good) challenge. (No judgement if your family does use them in the car--this is just what works for us.)

Before hitting the road, I did a bunch of Pinteresting (that's a verb, right?) and planned activities, most of which I'm happy to say were very well received. I wanted to document what worked for us and our kiddos (nearly 5 year old boy, 3 1/2 year old boy and 19 month old girl).

What Worked
Binders: I channeled my inner Leslie Knope and made the kids road trip binders. They loved them and used them many times. They were mostly coloring pages and printables (found on Pinterest). I put the printables in plastic sleeves and gave the kids dry erase markers so they would be reusable. The pages included handwriting sheets with their name, numbers, alphabet, etc, as well as road sign bingo, draw your own road sign, etc. Lydia's binder contained some pictures of her favorite animals and coloring pages, some in page protectors and some not. I used yarn to attach a piece of felt to each of their binders so they could erase the reusable pages.

The boys each had a binder pouch (from Amazon) for markers and crayons. I just handed Lydia a marker (which she basically used on the entire binder) or crayon as necessary. In the binder pockets I put stickers, which they enjoyed more than I expected. Since we have plenty of stickers at home they weren't anything new or super special, but hey, whatever works, right?

Glow Sticks: We were on the road by 5:30 a.m. most of the four days we drove, hoping the kids would go back to sleep in the van. It didn't quite work (something about Christmas AND heading to Grandpa and Grandma's made for lots of excitement), but they were actually pretty happy considering they got woken up so early. And when they weren't happy, glow sticks did the trick. I bought some at the dollar store for the trip up and got a "fancy" pack at Target for the trip home (it even contain pieces to make the glow sticks into glasses).

Sticker Pads: I bought these reusable sticker pads from Amazon and the kids really enjoyed them. They come with a TON of stickers--in retrospect, one or two pads probably would have been enough. I also wish I'd taken the time to remove the stickers from the pages and put them in Ziplocs before leaving. It would have made it easier in the van, especially since Isaac needed help getting them off the page. That being said, they provided lots of entertainment and as a bonus, the stickers work on the window which was fun, too.

Books: I tried to be strategic in the books that I packed, choosing ones like I Spy or Richard Scarry with lots of detail to look at. I also brought a few chapter books to read aloud to them, but they didn't really go for that (not gonna lie, that bummed me out a little..I had visions of LOTS of read aloud time), though we did read plenty of picture books. We also brought along some audio books, but they wanted to listen to music more than stories. Some old Clubhouse Jr magazines were also great to have on hand, especially because I didn't worry if Lydia ripped them.

Music: Slugs and Bugs and Songs for Saplings provided much enjoyment. Chris and I actually like the music, too, and we all had fun listening to it. Lydia was greatly entertained by the Isty Bitsy Spider as well as the up-and-coming finger play titled Two Little Puppies, starring Lydia and her best friend, Maddie. ;)

Pipe Cleaners: I don't know why, but they love pipe cleaners. We made them into shapes, airplanes, rainbows and strung Cheerios on them for snacks. I had planned to make snack necklaces with Fruit Loops (a road trip treat), pretzels and gummy Lifesavers (another treat), but we tried them at home and the boys weren't fans, though like I said, they did like Cheerios on the pipe cleaners.

Finger Puppets: Lydia got a couple animal ones for Christmas, and I made four Veggie Tale puppets they enjoyed. The puppets weren't the most durable (I glued them instead of sewing because it was late and I was tired), but I'd definitely make nicer ones for another road trip.

What Didn't Work
I Spy Bags: I made I Spy bags with paper cutouts and rice (glued shut and double bagged) buuuut...the elevation change sucked all the air out so you couldn't shake the rice to see anything inside. Mom fail.

Silly Putty: I don't know if I'd call this a fail, but they didn't play with it a ton. Timmy liked his more than Isaac, but I think the boys would have done better with it if they'd played with it before.

Mittens just off the needles and a cat...why not?

Other random stuff that helped: I sat in the middle next to Lydia, with Isaac and Timmy in the back. I know some people would say I should have sat in the front because I'm a wife before I'm a mom (which is true), but I knew that if I sat in the middle, the trip would go smoother. And a smoother trip meant that Chris and I would be less stressed. It was definitely a good decision. I could hand things to the boys (Timmy always sits in the back and giving him snacks, books, etc. isn't easy from the front) and help keep the peace.

We also had plenty of snacks, some very rare treats (Fruit Loops) and some more standard fare (Cheerios, lunchmeat). We kept our Costco cold bag in between the front seats so we could easily access the cheese, ham, etc. Also, at every stop we insisted the boys go to the bathroom. Definitely resorted to bribery with M&Ms a few times, but I didn't care. It worked, because I think we only had to stop once so one of the boys could go to the bathroom.

We packed an overnight bag that we could easily access to bring into the hotel instead of having to lug in our huge suitcase. We also didn't change the kids into their clothes until our first stop each day. That definitely made leaving early easier.

Traveling that far with three little kids wasn't easy, but with lots of prayer, planning and (let's be honest) chocolate, it was doable and, at times, even enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Timmy's 5th Birthday Interview

Somehow Timmy turned five last week. Not quite sure who let him get that old. Anyway, as per tradition, here is his birthday interview.

1.      What is your favorite color?
2. What is your favorite toy?
"Dusty, Magna Tiles"
3. What is your favorite fruit?
"grapes, strawberries, bananas"
4. What is your favorite tv show?
"Curious George and Veggie Tales"
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
"apples, bananas, snacky lunch"
6. What is your favorite Bible story?
"Abraham had Isaac"
7. What is your favorite game?
"Goldbug" [Richard Scarry's Busytown game]
8. What is your favorite snack?
9. What is your favorite animal?
"rats*, horses, camels, all the animals, giraffes"
10. What is your favorite song?
"Chingle Bells"
11. What is your favorite book?
"Curious George"
12. Who is your best friend?
"Judah, Hannah, Bek, Lydia, Isaac"
13. What is your favorite cereal?
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
"ride bikes"
15. What is your favorite drink?
"milk, water"
16. What is your favorite holiday?
"Valentine's Day"
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
"Bunny, Lamby, Kirby [lion]"
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
"nachos and fruit"

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
"a robot"

*You can thank E.B. White for Timmy's love of rats. He thinks Templeton is great.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Recent Happenings

We've been...

starting the adventure of homeschooling,

going for family walks,

snuggling baby dolls,

falling asleep in random places
sporting adorable hairstyles, 

making super hero capes,

flying with Daddy and

enjoying all the cuteness.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Timmy's Birthday Interview

Not sure if I blogged Timmy's birthday interview from last year, but here are his answers from this year along with a few clarifications.

Timmy’s Birthday Interview

1.      What is your favorite color?
2. What is your favorite toy?
"Veggie Tales" 
3. What is your favorite fruit?
4. What is your favorite tv show?
"Dusty" [Planes to the rest of us]
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
"peanut butter and jam"
6. What is your favorite Bible story?
7. What is your favorite game?
"George" [Curious George's Discovery Beach]
8. What is your favorite snack?
9. What is your favorite animal?
10. What is your favorite song?
"Cubbies song"
11. What is your favorite book?
"Cubbies book, Small books" [Policeman Small, Cowboy Small, etc. by Lois Lenski]
12. Who is your best friend?
"Judah. I love Judah."
13. What is your favorite place to go?
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15. What is your favorite drink?
16. What is your favorite holiday?
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
"Bunny [original Fuzzy Lamb], Teddy Bear [bear named Peanut Butter] and blanket"
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
"Toast with peanut butter"
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
[We had Sloppy Joes, corn, fruit salad, Doritos and Veggie Tales Cake]
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
"O the Owl" [from Daniel Tiger] and the "white building" [where Chris works]

Our big FOUR year old and his birthday cake!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Half a Decade

5 years

4 houses (almost)

 3 kids

2 states

1 man I'd marry again in a heartbeat 

 Five years since we said "I do" and the rest of our lives to go...I can't wait to see what forever holds ♥

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Larry Boy and the Soccer Ball

Transcribing this for posterity's sake. I made it up on the fly one night a month or so ago, and my children apparently think its literary genius, because Timmy asks for it at least 5 nights a week before bed. And when he repeated it to me last night, he did a pretty good job getting the plot right!

So here, word for word (hence some run-on sentences), is the tale of Larry Boy and the Soccer Ball.

Gratuitous photo of said Higboys
Once upon a time there were two little boys named Timmy and Isaac. They lived with their Mommy and Daddy and their baby sister, Lydia. One day, Timmy and Isaac were playing soccer when Timmy/Isaac (I switch it up) kicked the ball so high it landed on top of the apple tree! Timmy said "oh no, what are we going to do?" Isaac replied "I know, Timmy, let's ask Larry Boy to help us." So they looked up at the sky and said, "Larry Boy, we need you!" and who should come flying down to earth but Larry Boy in his Larry-mobile. He hopped out and said "I am that hero! I'll find your soccer ball, Higboys." Larry Boy walked over to the apple tree, hopped to the top and stuck his super suction ear on the ball. Then he hopped back down and gave the ball to Timmy and Isaac. They were so thankful, they gave him a big hug and said "thank you, Larry Boy, thank you SO much!" Larry Boy said "you're welcome, Higboys! Now I'm off to help someone else!" And he got into the Larry Mobile and flew away.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A Big Step

It's where we brought both Isaac and Lydia home from the hospital and where we've hosted game nights, BBQs, birthday parties, Waffle Wednesdays and a multitude of other events. Countless evenings have been spent on the patio talking under the white lights and enjoying the cool summer air. I painted the bathroom bright green and Pinterested a good many projects throughout the house. Chris has made a workbench, bookshelves, clock and countless other projects in the garage turned shop. It was our first time paying a mortgage instead of rent and it truly became home.
Bookshelves Chris built
But...we added two kids to our family here and are starting to feel the squeeze of five people in a two bedroom house. We'd also like some more land and a better guest room situation than having our guests choose between sleeping on the couch or sleeping on an air mattress in Timmy and Isaac's room (sorry, Mom and Dad). So even though we don't really know what we're doing, after praying and talking and talking and praying, we've decided to put our house on the market. Our motivation comes from several different reasons, but we believe this to be the right decision for our family. We've spent the last few weeks cleaning, painting, fixing, cleaning, purging and cleaning, and as of yesterday we are officially for sale.

The kitchen has never been this clean
No, we don't have another house lined up yet (though we're faithfully searching online), but that hasn't stopped me from doing a lot of Pinteresting for that house when we do find it.

And if you're interested in a cute, 2 bedroom starter home, let me know... ;)