Our Family Unit
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  • January18th

    After 46 hours in the car, over 2600 miles, across 5 states, with 20 iPad apps12 roadside meals, 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 car topper – was the Road Trip with Kids worth it?  Would we do it again?  YES!  Absolutely!  But we did learn a few things along the way…

    1) Hotels that serve breakfasts are our friends!  It worked well to let the kids sleep as long as possible while Kyle packed the car and I went to the lobby to bring back waffles and cereal for everyone.  That way, once we were in the car, we were ready to just drive.  Less putting on/taking off of coats and boots and seat belts.

    2) Run around time is critical for the kids!  On the very last day, we pushed too hard to get home.  Kyle and I were “over” traveling and just wanted to get home so we drove the last leg in 12 hours (what had taken us 14 the time before).  But it was too much for the kids.  They were restless and cranky and poor Buzz was not loving his carseat at that point.  I think we would have had a happier last 2 hours if we’d stopped more earlier in the day.

    3) Don’t count on your kids to sleep in the car!  Everyone we asked and every blog I read told us to drive while the kids were sleeping, so we tried it the first day.  We got up early and started out while it was still dark.  But the kids never went to sleep!  Even at nap time, we were lucky to get them to nod off for 30 minutes.  It just made for tired kids and cranky parents.  Neither Kyle nor I are morning people, so we were hating the early morning start just as much as the kids.  In the future, we won’t expect sleeping and will do what’s best for all of us.

    4) Make the trip itself an adventure!  Do things out of the norm.  Take the time to make some memories and talk it up to your kids.  Opening a “surprise” from the $1 Store can be thrilling to a 4 year old, or boring.  It’s up to me to make the difference.  Stopping to take a picture at the state sign can be cold, annoying and slow you down…or it can be exciting, silly and fun to stomp in the snow.

    Don’t be afraid to try it; it can be a lot of fun.  Sure it takes prep, it can be tiresome, the kids will have a melt down here and there…but that’s not the whole story.  It’s a chance to spend time with your kids without interruption, it gives an opportunity for those long and deep conversations with your spouse, it’s a gift to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation…it will make a memory.

     

  • January17th

    Four solid days of driving meant at least 12 meals along the road or in the car, not to mention snacks.  With a preschooler and a toddler, I needed a strategy.  Most of the time, I knew we’d be getting out of the car for meals, if for nothing else than to let the kids stretch their legs.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to work best for us to have the food location as close as possible to the gas location.  This usually reduces options down to fast food, although we did eat burgers at one truck stop diner (where all the waitresses came and gathered around our table to talk to the kids and coo at the baby.  I know their motives were sweet, but it’s kind of awkward to have people just stand around and watch you eat).  Other than that, it was Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Arby’s.  The one good thing about these places is that they all have things the kids are guaranteed to eat.  The last thing any of us needed was a food stand off.

    As for the people fuel along the way, Kyle’s requirements were Snickers and Salt & Pepper Sunflower Seeds.  He loves these so much he actually asked for them for his birthday one year.  This is the go to “stay awake snack”.  For the rest of us, we of course had frosted Christmas cookies and then some variety from Costco, a bit of sweet and a bit of salty (Goldfish, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Animal Crackers and Protein Bars).   I am a cheese-aholic and am raising my kids to be the same, so we’re never too far from a block of Cheddar.  We took that and a few Granny Smith apples for another mess-free option.  For drinks, we just grabbed water whenever we stopped for gas.

    One of the frustrating things about a kid eating in a carseat is that those straps and buckles make it impossible to reach any cup holders or cubbies in the car.  So we got a few things to help with that.  First, these Snack and Play Travel Trays fasten around the entire carseat and make a great table top.  I especially like that it has the lip around the edge, which helps keep rolling markers and pencils corralled.

     

    Secondly, we took along our Snack Catchers and I purchased two BooginHead SippiGrips.  The Snack Catchers are brilliant and the SippiGrips did what they were supposed to (kept the dropped cup from rolling from the front of the car floor to the rear and back again) and also let the kids reach their drink without a cup holder but I was disappointed with the cups themselves.  Is there such a thing as a leak free Straw Cup??  Anyone?

    Traveling with a baby means we, of course, had tons of baby wipes.  They make clean up so easy for just about anything though, that I think they’re just as essential to every car as a registration and insurance.  :)  I couldn’t have been happier about the kids’ attitudes toward the trip; they all did great.  But with food, just like with toys or apps, I think variety is what saved the day.

  • November15th

    Two years ago, when Jessie was born, my mom made something for me that now looking back I don’t know how I ever did without.  The Nursing Basket!  It was such a huge help, especially in those early super-foggy days right after delivery.  It’s been just as essential now that Buzz is here so I figured I’d share what I include in case you’re in the same season of life that I am.  Even if you’re not, this could be adapted to make an amazing baby shower gift!  But what exactly goes into a Nursing Basket?

    Well, first up is obviously nursing supplies:

    • nursing pads (either disposable or reusable)
    • nipple cream, such as Lanolin
    • burp cloths (at least 2 fresh ones)
    • nursing cover (for when you’re little one is hungry but visitors are there)
    Then I include some baby supplies, since it seems that every time I sit down to nurse, I’m also changing a diaper or two:
    • diapers
    • wipes
    • petroleum jelly (for that first week or so after a circumcision)
    • an extra outfit, t-shirt, hat and socks
    • a clean blanket
    • a pacifier, if your baby uses one
    And last but not least, some things for mom:
    • any medications or daily vitamins (it’s easier for me to keep it all in one place and I remember to take them when I see the bottle every 2-3 hours)
    • lip balm and lotion (breastfeeding seems to make the rest of my body dry out)
    • a pen and notepad (comes in super handy for all those random thoughts that float through my head while I’m sitting down and immediately disappear as soon as I stand up; whether it’s to-do’s, shopping lists, thank you notes, or journaling)
    • a water bottle and snacks (keeping the fluids up is a must when breastfeeding, as is calories.  Whether it’s a protein bar or just a few Saltines to take with your medication, it’s nice to have easy access)
    • my phone (absolutely indispensable! for returning phone calls and answering emails to browsing Pinterest and playing solitaire at 3AM)

    We all know that breastfeeding your baby has enormous health benefits for your child (and supposedly helps mama drop that extra baby weight, although that has not been my experience, EVER.  My theory is that it’s my payback for not having morning sickness.)  But breastfeeding has some draw backs, too.  For one, it is t-i-m-e  c-o-n-s-u-m-i-n-g and not exactly conducive to multi-tasking, given that you’re pretty much stationary.  The nursing basket is a life saver!  It saves me time and frustration, but also helps keep me sane during the hours and hours that I spend sitting.  I set it on the nightstand when I go to bed and carry it from room to room throughout the day.  Baby in one hand, basket in the other – I know I have everything I need.  Anything that makes life with a newborn smoother gets an “A” in my book.  Fill a basket with everything but the cell phone and meds and give to a new mama – she will love you for life!

  • September10th

    Finally, after months and months of little projects and redos, our Playroom Makeover is finished!  The room started out as a guest room/office but since the double bed took up so much floor space, the kids and I rarely used the room.  Kyle worked at the desk some nights and weekends; but unless we had visitors, the room stayed pretty much empty.

    Once I got pregnant with K2, we started having conversations about bedrooms and who should sleep where.  I was also thinking more about homeschooling and really wanted to designate a space somewhere in the house for that.  And around that same time, we purchased our Rockwood Roo camper trailer, which we store in the backyard.  So after much discussion, we decided the best use of space would be to take down the guest bed and turn the room into a Playroom / Schoolroom / Craft Room / Office.  We’d put all the kids in one room and use the camper as a guest suite when we needed to.  It was definitely the right choice!

    The shelving on the wall was already installed by the homeowner, I just rearranged it to my liking.  Kyle installed a countertop from IKEA to be my desk and hung pegboard above it.  He also hid a surge protector under the desk so I have plenty of access to electricity and best of all, he hung canned lights underneath the bottom shelf so I can actually see when I’m working on projects late at night after the kids go to bed.

    Having such a huge workspace that does NOT need cleared for dinner is amazing!  It’s great for spreading out projects or cutting fabric.  Both the Silhouette and my embroidery sewing machine need hooked up to my laptop to work and now I have space to do that.  The laminator and paper cutter are life savers for homeschooling, but previously they were stored in the tops of closets and now they are so accessible.  Really, everything is more accessible after the makeover.  Before, most of my craft supplies, scrapbooking tools, fabric, etc were stored in bins under the guest bed.  Now it’s all just right there.  Another favorite feature is my Craigslist office chair.  I can adjust the height, which my back and shoulders are so thankful for, and it’s so much more comfy than the Costco folding chair I had before.  The picket fence cord hider is doing it’s job perfectly, while still looking cute.

    On the other side of the room, we purchased a massive wardrobe from IKEA.  It is filled with homeschooling stuff, toy sets (like Legos, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Gears), and a little bit of seasonal home decor.  The best part is that there’s still room to grow!  We opted for the mirrored doors to help the room seem larger and reflect more light.  The old school school desk is one I used when I was homeschooled and Mom & Dad brought it out to me a few years ago.  Now that we have a Playroom, we could finally bring it in from the garage.  The kids love it!  The pictures on the wall are magazine covers for Kyle’s games.  There are even more in the closet.  I’m trying to gently break it to him that I’d like to take these down and string wire on the wall to clip the kids’ art to and hang learning posters on.  Do you think he’d go for it if I spun it that the hallway could be his Gaming Gallery?

    I purchased a few storage containers from IKEA (the button jars and the pink and green boxes), but the rest I had on hand and modified to go with the color scheme.  The three fabric crates I recovered with left over bunting fabric and I repainted a couple of the cardboard storage boxes.  All the labels are made from chalkboard vinyl that I cut out with the Silhouette.  So far the only problem with that idea is that almost every time I lift down a box onto my desk, my enormous belly erases the label.  :)

    I love having a sewing nook!  After painting my flea market drawer, I filled it with all my sewing miscellaneous (needles, pins, chalk pencils, thimbles, etc) and then I organized my thread by cutting down a few dowel rods.  I like how the bunting turned out and think it helps tie the room together, but I ended up making about twice as much as I actually used.  My original plan looked half-hazard once I hung it, so I ended up simplifying it and now I have extra.  Not the world’s worst problem…

    It’s probably a disease to have so many types of scissors and writing implements, but in my mind, they’re all necessary.  I love the buckets from IKEA to keep it all organized.

    The new Playroom has been a hit with everyone.  The kids love having all the extra space.  So many more toys are getting used now that we can access them and leave them out for an extended bit of time.  Schoolwork is fun!  Crafting is easy!  It’s like we added on a whole room to our house with all the floor space we’re now using on a daily basis.  Last Saturday, the entire family spent the afternoon together in the same room!    Better late than never…