7 Tips for Traveling with Littles. {Road Trip Edition}

This past summer after traveling across the country with my three kids and my aunt I had lots and lots of people ask me how, why and what made it possible. “What are your secrets?” a fellow blogger said at an event a few weeks after returning. I promised a post on my secrets to road trip success and as my little girls and I are headed on a road trip and long weekend to Chicago this morning, I figured it apropos.
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1. Screw the schedule. I am the worst when it comes to schedules. Part of that is necessity {hello, we have five kids} and part of that is my free spirit. I am all about having a loose schedule that is more of a daily routine than anything else. If you don’t live and die by a schedule for your kid, I really think travel is a lot easier. The way we framed schedules for our babes was always around US, the adults. We followed routines and tried to keep bedtime scheduled as much as we could but aside from that there was no set timing for meals and naps, it was how it fit in the day that day. Maybe lunch is typically around 11, or maybe if we’re running errands we don’t eat until 12. My goal for my kids is that they are flexible and adaptable kids, not kids who are thrown off by a missed nap or a later lunch than normal. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for us and really is probably the biggest reason travel works so well for us.
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2. Do it early and do it often. My grandma always says, “Samara takes those babies everywhere.” Why, yes, I do. When my grandma had her six babies, she got a nice long week vacation in the hospital, in 2006 when I had H, they kicked us out after 24 hours and 5 minutes. Having a baby did not keep us home though because when I had H, we also had T and M who were active, busy school agers, so H just came along. And then when we had E, we did the same and Miss F, her whole life has been that way.  Don’t stop living life and going places because you have a baby. I think when you have an infant it’s actually super easy to bring them along places, it’s once they get mobile it gets harder. We went away with H for the first time when he was just over a month old and he flew at just 8 weeks old. We crazily brought Miss F to Chicago on a whirlwind trip at 8 weeks old too. Do it early, do it often and your kids will adapt to car rides or flights and sleeping in pack and plays and such.

3. Let it go. We all want our kids to eat healthy snacks but I admit when we travel that’s one of the first things to go. Special treats and snacks are a welcome assistant. Buy things you maybe wouldn’t normally buy and let the food rules go out the window just a stitch.

4. Same goes with screen time. Both H and E have iPods with pretty strict limits when we are at home. When we are on a road trip, all bets are off and unless there is a behavior reason {i.e. we took it away} we let them play games, watch shows and listen to music. I promise it’s not going to have lasting long term effects because you let your child binge watch Dora the Explorer for a long car ride.

5. But what about the baby? I am pretty strict about screen time when it comes to Miss F because I agree with the AAP that screen time should be limited prior to age 2 so she wasn’t playing an iPod or watching shows on our long road trip to Virginia Beach last summer. Even now at 17 months she might watch 15-20 minutes of a PBS Kids episode here and there so I don’t know that electronics would even pacify her attention span in the car. That said, I did bring an old deactivated cell phone of J’s that could be turned on and off and still had pictures saved on it that Miss F played with {and dropped on the floor 150 times!}. For the most part, instead of electronics for her, I packed a few miscellaneous things for her to play with.

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Aside from the old cell phone, books and snacks, these three items were the only entertainment we brought for Miss F on our 24 hour road trip to Virginia Beach.

Lacers which are good for fine motor skills, an old wallet filled with old gift cards and business cards for her to rip apart to shreds because what baby doesn’t love to think they are destroying mom’s goods. This is one of those case’s where WE create our kids expectations, Miss F already spends time in her carseat every day with little to no entertainment besides looking out the window or her siblings, because that’s how it is most days, a road trip wasn’t that much bigger of a deal, it was just a longer amount of time. If your child spends little to no time in their carseat each week because you never leave home, this might be hard. Finally, we also just worked around her. When she slept, we kept driving, when she was getting antsy to get out, we stopped and had lunch.

6. Organize, organize, organize. Plan ahead, know where you have what you need and stay organized. Are the snacks accessible? If someone spills or gets sticky do you have wet wipes? Did everyone go to the bathroom before getting in the car and at each stop? These are the key to staying calm when traveling. Anticipate boredom, bring coloring books and crayons, have your kids pick out a new reading book at the store or library. Think of  that thing that your kid would be thrilled to get to play with or see several hours into the trip and SAVE it for that desperate moment. Keep a few surprises up your sleeves. Involve them in the packing {note, I said involve, do not under any circumstances let them pack!}

Brainerd bound with this bunch! #tradition

Road trip with friends this summer.

7. Be Positive. The more negative and stressed YOU are about the trip and the travel, the more your kids are going to make you crazy. I promise. Assume your kids are going to make a mess in the back and that even though you give them a trash they will still throw their GoGoSqueez wrapper on the floor. Make it an adventure, make it fun. Stop and look around at rest stops and buy that special treat you would usually say no to. Don’t be afraid, create fun new memories and establish what your “normal” travel expectations would look like. Most of all, enjoy. It’s work but it’s fun.

Are you a traveling family? What works {or doesn’t work} for you? Any tips you would add?

Have you tried Citrus Lane?

Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage these days and I was really excited to hear from a friend just how much she liked her one year olds Citrus Lake subscription.
UntitledSo we had to try it out. I am not a big toy person, for five kids in our house we are pretty minimalist when it comes to toys. I just believe kids don’t need a lot of toys to play with so I was hoping the box would be fun, unique, special things versus just more “stuff”.

You specify age and gender and they do the rest.

We did just a one month trial just to try it out and determine if it would be something we’d want to do for a gift for Miss F or even friends. You get to specify age and gender and you can sign up for just one month or three months or even six months. Because your first month is half off, it was $14.50 to try it out.

Here’s what we got….

UntitledMaracas. A baby doll. Legwarmers and a detergent sample.

It was ok. Not great but not terrible, you know?

That said they are kind of the perfect items for a one year old {aside from the detergent sample} though I’ll probably save the leg warmers and doll for a gift because we need another baby doll like we need a ….

I’m planning on trying it again, as the friend who referred me has really liked the ones she got. I also think it’d be a neat gift idea for a loved one far away, it’s super convenient to sign up and have the gift sent once or even on a monthly basis.
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Have you tried Citrus Lane? What monthly subscription programs have you tried?

If you sign up with my link, your first month is half off. If you do it, let me know what your child gets when your box comes.

 Disclosure: Affiliate links were used in this post. This means if you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I will be awarded referral dollars.

On Choosing Your Own Adventure.

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Fall is my favorite. I love summer, don’t get me wrong. I love the lack of structure and schedule and the pool and the sunshine and the beauty of a park day. But I really love fall. When routines start again and the leaves change and the air is warm in the afternoon and cool at night.

I love leaves and pumpkins and harvest fests. If we could go to one every single day it would still not be enough.

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Last weekend I had a little woe is me do si do. “We haven’t even gone to buy pumpkins,” I whined to J. Between weekends with projects and sickness and J’s dad and everything else the weekends have flown by. Now this is where J balances me out because when I am whining that we haven’t done anything “fall” he reminds me of the trips to 101 Market and our Labor Day jaunt to Apple Jacks, a Friday night spent at Deer Lake and the pumpkins we grew in our own garden. Still.

The phone rang minutes into this conversation and my dad invited J to golf the next day. The day I had just claimed for “doing all things fall”. It’s like J and my dad telepathically communicated or something.

Of course I told J to go golf. He’d taken care of sick as a dog me for days, was mourning the loss of his dad and hadn’t golfed all year. It’s as though my dad knew just where to take him, a course J’s dad loved for years and years, Theodore Wirth.

So after church last Sunday, we drove down to drop J off to golf and thinking I’d take the kids to Target or maybe even my mother in laws house for a visit, we did neither. We explored and hiked trails, wandered in ski chalets and walked the dock of a nearby swim pond. We played at the playground and laid in the leaves.

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We laughed. Big and strong from within our bellies we laughed.

My littles and I didn’t jump in any corn pits that day and there wasn’t any hay bales or pumpkins to pose next to but we chose our own adventure and it was better than any other day I could have planned. We discovered all the joys there were to be found around that area and it was fun.

All this to say, choose your own adventure this weekend. Don’t do what you think you’re supposed to do, try something new. You never do know what you might discover.
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***

In case you missed it I wrote about the time I became a hockey mom over on Star Tribune this week.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the Minnesota Bloggers Conference so if you’ll be there too, be sure and say hi!

2014 MNBlogCon Attendee

Happy Friday!

A Day In The Life. #OneDayHH

For the third year in a row, I participated in the fun Instagram challenge {I’m @samarapostuma over there!} that is #OneDayHH. Laura over at Hollywood Housewife dreamt of a day where we just shared the ordinary details of an ordinary day via social media.

It’s so easy to perfectly craft a photo for social media. To think, oh this would be a great picture or oh, the story behind this one. But we easily gloss past the nitty gritty, somewhat boring details of a normal day.
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The thing I love about participating in the day is that it’s just so normal. You scroll through the feed and you see coffee cups and kids in carseats and parking lot drop offs and Target runs and rushed lunches and nap time. You see homework and the normalcy of work days whether that is from home, or a workplace or whether that’s a spouse returning from work. In the evening, there are pictures of wine glasses and Netflix as Instagram winds down for the day.

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Oh, such a normal day.

Though this year’s #OneDayHH has passed, I encourage you to choose your own normal day and chronicle the daily nitty gritty. The things that don’t usually make it to your social media feed. The chaos, the boring, the bliss, the joy of a normal day.

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure that you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” Mary Jean Irion

Lark Toys in Kellogg

Just before school started we took the kids on a little adventure to Lark Toys in Kellogg. I admit I was a stitch skeptical of the idea thinking what in the world will we do at a toy store? And it’s how far away?
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UntitledBut alas it was a great time. All of our kids had a blast. And we were there pretty much all day.
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Introducing Lark Toys.
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The best and most fun and magical toy store you’ll likely ever visit.
UntitledThis is no chain toy store, this is an original, complete with a toy museum with all of the classics and just about any other specialty toy you can think of. From baby dolls to puppets to Legos to books. There are brand names and Lark wooden exclusives. There are toys for everyone.

An old fashioned candy shoppe right on site complete with ice cream by the scoop.
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There is plenty to do at Lark Toys between the browsing in the store for books and toys to having a snack to playing a round of mini golf outside …
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…and my personal favorite part, the carousel.
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A real, old fashioned, gorgeous original carousel.
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It was F’s first ride and she loved it.

Well, honestly she was skeptical but I loved that it was her first carousel ride.

If you go, Lark Toys is open year round and is free to visit. We found the food reasonably priced for homemade picks. Toys range in price as does the candy shoppe. The carousel is $2/person but those age 90 and older can ride for free.

The second Friday of each month they hold a special preschool story time that includes a FREE carousel ride. 

Have you been to Lark Toys?
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On Serving Well.

This morning we sat gathered with friends and family and people we don’t even know, who knew my father in law, to remember his sweet 83 year old life. My father in law passed away 10 days ago now and life has been such a whirl with details and planning and too much pneumonia in our household and life all mixed together.

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I sat in the crowded funeral room sandwiched between J and F and M. My arm draped around sweet M, who’s so sad to have lost her grandpa and J leaning forward to touch his mom. A woman who’s spent the last 55 years serving her husband.

The minister spoke and he looked right at Judy and he said, “you have served your husband well.”

And I was so taken aback by those words. Not because they aren’t true because they’ve likely never been truer, I’ve never seen a soul serve another so wholly and deeply in my life. But I was just taken aback by the fact of it all. Of the many, many things I could say about my inlaws, the flaws and faults I could poke at, there’s not anything I could say that would change this fact.

Judy has lived her life as though her job was to serve Bernie. 

Our society tends to nitpick anything that speaks of gender roles when it comes to marriage. And I admit I’m one of the first to speak when I feel as though women are given the short end of the stick.  We value individualism and pride ourselves on being able to “do it ourselves”. There are thousands of articles and blog posts and journals written about women and power and feminism and equality and more. But service isn’t about any of that for me.

For 55 years my mother in law has served my father in law.

She served him well by raising their children and by supporting him while he chased his dreams of opening a bakery. She served him by working at that bakery and cleaning and cooking and shopping and doing all the things wives do. For the last 18 months or so, she has served him in sickness, in real, true, heartbreaking sickness. She served him at his best when they married and were both handsome and beautiful people, young and alert and ready for the world. And she served him at his worst, when his body was broken and his patience was shot. She served him all these years and she served him well.

J serves me daily. He gets up at night with our kids when he knows I need to sleep and when I am sick as I was this last week, he steps in and takes care of me better than I would take care of myself.  And he’d probably have to mention that just about every single night as I climb into bed, I’ll say “oh shoot, I forgot my water. Will you go grab it for me?” And he does. Every time. He serves me and our family well.

We are served by others in our life in many ways. Friends who brought meals when we needed them, family who helped with kids when we needed. We are served well by others.

I only hope I, too, am serving others well.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Buy One, Get One at SkyZone!

BUY ONE GET ONE at SKY ZONE! – Show this coupon {click link!} at Sky Zone in Plymouth or Oakdale, and you will receive a second 60 minute jump ticket free when you purchase the first!
skyzoneHappy jumping!!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of US Family Guide.

PediaCare Smooth Melts {Giveaway.}

This post is sponsored by PediaCare.

‘Tis the season for colds, flu, sniffles and more. It seems since school started we’ve had our share of fevers and illness around here. Both boys have had temps around 103, H had pneumonia and Miss F has had an on again off again cold.

I recently participated in a PediaCare webinar with Dr. David Hill and he shared some great information on children’s health and cold and flu season.

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According to Dr. Hill {and most parents would agree here} back to school season is peak time for illnesses. Young kids {age 6 and under} typically get 6-8 colds a year and older kids get fewer each year.

It’s important when taking care of a sick kid to make sure they are getting plenty of rest, they are staying hydrated and that they are being medicated appropriately.

Some kids don’t like the taste of medicine which makes it hard to keep fevers down or start feeling better.

“Babies are born with the ability to detect and prefer sweetness,” Dr. Hill said in the webinar.

His tips for giving kids meds:

1. Use a syringe instead of the measuring cup.

2. Point the syringe towards the back of the mouth and inner cheek.

3. Always ask the pharmacist about if you can mix the medicine with juice or applesauce to make sure it will still be effective.

4. Always take medicine before brushing teeth.

“Great taste increases the willingness to take medicine,” Dr. Hill said.
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In celebration of their 30th anniversary of being devoted to children’s medicine, PediaCare has recently come out with a new medicine to help kids with cold and flu symptoms. PediaCare Smooth Melts- an acetaminophen based fever reducer and pain reliever. The new medicine focuses on taste so kids will take it willingly, is cherry flavored and an easy chewable tablet. Recommended for children ages 4-11, I love the idea of no dosing cups and also the fact that the tablets are pre scored so easy to cut in half when necessary.

Currently, PediaCare Smooth Melts are available at RiteAid and Amazon.

What do you use when your kids are sick? Tell me in the comments and you could win a prize pack from PediaCare including a healthy supply of samples and other PediaCare products.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Disclosure: This post is sponsored by PediaCare. All opinions expressed are mine. 

It’s Going to be a very Frozen Halloween. {GIVEAWAY!}

If I were a betting woman I would bet that there are going to be just a few Anna’s and Elsa’s and Olaf’s trick or treating this Halloween, wouldn’t you agree?

The trouble is finding all the right costumes, accessories. EVERYTHING. Am I right or am I right?

Thanks to the help of friends and good ol’ Facebook here are your best bets for securing Frozen Halloween anything:

Elsa hair-

elsahairI ordered this one on Amazon. com. Whether it will be here in time is anyone’s guess because it’s shipping from China. {Might need a back up plan but I did get a shipping notification already tonight!}

Justice {Thanks to my friend H for this tip!} The Albertville Justice store has plenty in stock, made by Disney and $15 a piece. You can also order online for $14.35 plus shipping.

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If you are crafty, this is adorable. And the pattern is FREE. 

Costumes:

Target has a ton of options but Target keeps selling out. This week they did BOGO on select Halloween costumes and MANY of the Frozen pieces were included. But KEEP looking. I called my local Target tonight and totally lucked out. So CALL your local store and keep checking if you are looking for something specific, they can hold things for up to 24 hours.

Kohls {thanks for the tip S!} Lots of options if you’re ok paying for shipping. Two discount codes you can use this weekend: YES2FAM for 20% off and TRICK15 for 15% off costumes.

How cute is this sweet Olaf costume?
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Where are you finding your Frozen goods this Halloween?

Good news, Frozen fans {and parents of Frozen fans} I’ve got a Disney Frozen Elsa costume to give away! As pictured below, it’s size 2T and I KNOW that there is some mama out there who just HAS to have this costume for her little girl.

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This giveaway is sponsored by me and I will ship the dress directly to the winner. United States only, please. Resale of the costume will be strictly prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five Reasons to go see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day This Weekend! {Review}

Two of my littles and I went and saw Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Tuesday night and it was a hit. We are already planning on taking J to see it and can be sure it will be a family hit!
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Here’s five reasons we think you should go see it this weekend:

1. It’s good, clean fun. It’s rated PG and there is some potty talk but there was no swearing, no violence and no sex. The potty talk is mild {butt crack and penis, but in a mother/son way}, the baby pees on the floor and at the end, the Australian cowboys are actually strippers but most kids wouldn’t pick up on that joke and they do NOT strip.

2. You will laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh. We laughed the entire movie through.

3. As a parent, it’s terribly relatable. We have all had those days where it is one thing after another after another and where you’re just rolling with things as they come.
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4. All star cast. Any movie starring Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell is sure to be a hit.

5. It’s a rare Hollywood movie where the siblings actually GET ALONG. I’m so tired of movies and tv shows that perpetuate sibling conflict. While yes there are some disagreements between siblings {because THAT is real life} in the end, the priority is family and that’s always a plus for me.

I totally recommend taking your kids this weekend. I think most kids ages 5 and up would enjoy it and even though some of the jokes might fly over the younger ones’ heads, there will still be plenty of fun and enjoyment!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day opens nationwide TODAY and we think you should go see it!
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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are mine. We were invited to a complimentary press prescreening of the movie for review purposes and due to a relationship I have with Allied and Disney.