Monday, November 12, 2012

Sewing Projects

I've been up to a lot of sewing lately!  I'm happy to report that I finished my last few stitches last night and hope to let the sewing machine rest for quite a while!

The first project I did many of you may have seen on facebook (well, I guess I posted pictures of all of these on facebook in some form).  I made Sadie a super cute Halloween costume!  Here are a few pictures:

The next project I worked on I can't share on facebook just yet...we have to wait until closer to Christmas to share that one!

Next I needed to make some little bags for the girls for our trip.  On our last trip they had stuff all over the van.  By the time we got to Gulf Shores, the van was a disaster!  Hopefully with these new bags the girls will be excited to keep their stuff contained :)

The one on the left is Sadie's (I made it out of fabric that was leftover from when we did her nursery).  The one on the right is Maddie's.  I'm especially proud of these bags because I made a flat bottom on them.  Eric was pretty impressed that I knew how to do that :)  I just like how it makes the bag a little wider and easier for kids to find things.  Maybe I need to make a solid bottom...Hmmmm...if I have time left over this week I'll do that.

The last project I'll share is a couple of travel pillows.

It's hard to see in this picture, but Maddie's travel pillow has a 2 inch flat section in the middle.  This is so she can fold it over her seat belt and hopefully it will help it stay in place.  I just used an old pillow case, cut it to 18 inches, hemmed up the bottom, then sewed 2 seams down the middle to form the two pockets and empty section.  Stuffed it with polyfill, then sewed it closed.  It's not pretty.  It's not perfect.  But Maddie loves it.  She especially loves that there are roses on it since her middle name is Rose :)

Here's Maddie simulating resting on her seat belt :)

And here's Sadie's.  I wasn't planning on making her a pillow, but when she saw Maddie's she wanted one.  I knew if I didn't have something for her, it would make for a rough trip.  Every time Maddie would get hers out, Sadie would fuss.  So I had a few squares of flannel in the sewing room, I just made a quick little pillow with that.  I didn't stuff it too full, I know it's not going to be very useful in her car seat, she just needs to feel included :)

Ok, I'm sure this will be my last post until we get back from vacation (unless I go crazy and want to share anything else travel-related).  I'm going to spend the next few days wrapping presents, baking cookies, cleaning and packing!)  Have a Happy Thanksgiving and we'll see you when we get back!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Traveling with Kids Part II

Treat bags!!!

In this post I'll share with you what the girls are getting in their treat bags for our trip.  We have four legs of the trip.  First, from Houston to Knoxville.  Second from Knoxville to Baltimore.  Third from Baltimore to Gadsden, AL.  Finally, from Gadsden back to Houston.

I put all of these legs of the trip in Google maps and found cities in between at regular intervals.  I'm doing citites about 3-3 1/2 hours apart.  When we go through each city (or at stops), the girls will each get their bag for that designated city.  It gives them a little activity and a little snack and just kind of motivates them to look forward to the next city.

The first leg of the trip we'll be driving through the night.  Because of this, we're only giving the girls two bags for this 14 hour trip.  We're really hoping they sleep well through the night so we won't have to worry with the fussy kid/tired parent combination!

Trip One (Friday night):

  • The first treat bag will be given in Beaumont, TX.  They'll get a little clipboard with a notepad on it along with some pencils.  For snack they'll have pretzel balls and m&m's.
  • They'll get the second bag in Lafayette, LA.  This time they'll get a glow stick (hopefully it'll be dark or close to dark by then!) and some Pringles and skittles to snack on.  

Trip Two (most of the day Monday.  We're anticipating a 9 hour drive):

  • First bag:  Marion, VA.  They'll each get a little stuffed animal along with a dollar store doctor kit.  Chex mix and a lollipop for a snack.  (I thought it would be cute to have a lollipop with their doctor visit!).  I decided to put this as their first toy because my girls love their doctor kits so I'm hoping this will keep them happy for quite a while.  I also expect if they have periods of boredom, maybe they'll go back to this one.
  • Second bag:  Staunton, VA.  They'll get a little wooden car and Funyons and fruit snacks.  
  • Third bag:  Silver Spring, MD.  They'll get a super annoying microphone (you know the ones that kind of echo?...yeah...those).  I know it'll be really annoying for mom and dad, but the girls LOVE those things!  I figure by the end of this trip, they'll be getting anxious to get their and this will lift their spirits.  They'll also get Nutter Butters and Smarties.
Trip Three (all day Saturday.  We have to get the first 12 hours of our 24 hour drive out of the way)
  • First bag:  Staunton, VA.  They'll each get a little toy horse, some pizza Combos and some gummy worms.
  • Second bag:  Marion, VA.  Maddie will get a little compass and calculator.  She's loving math these days so I thought she might have fun with that...and the compass will help her draw nice circles in her notebook.  Sadie will get a new DVD.  I picked up a Berenstain Bears Christmas DVD for her.  For snack they'll have pretzel balls and m&m's.
  • Third bag:  Knoxville, TN.  This time Maddie will get a movie.  Yes, I know two movies in a row is going to be torture!!  But I knew if I didn't put them close, Maddie would get upset that Sadie got a movie and she didn't!  So...Maddie is getting The Dog who Saved Christmas and Sadie is getting a little tea set.  For snack they'll have Chex Mix and fruit snacks.
  • Fourth (and final for the day) bag:  Fort Payne, AL.  They'll each get another glow stick, some Pringles and Skittles.
Trip Four (all day Sunday.  This will be the final leg of the trip...another 12 hours.)
  • First bag:  Livingston, AL.  The girls will get pom poms.  Yay...these are going to be super annoying too.  But, the girls will love them so they should stay happy for a while (I hope!)  For snack they'll get more Chex Mix and a big Tootsie Roll.
  • Second bag:  Picayune, LA (I have no idea how to properly pronounce that city).  They'll get a dry erase board that has activities and a space to draw pictures.  I think Maddie will like it.  I worry that Sadie may draw on the van...we'll see!  For snack they'll have Combos and gummy worms.
  • Third bag:  Lafayette, LA.  I found cute little mermaid sets at the dollar store so they'll get those this time.  With their mermaids they'll get Pringles and Reese's Pieces.
  • Fourth bag:  Liberty, TX.  Another glow stick!!  I really hope they're asleep by this point because I'm going to want to be asleep by this point!  ha!  Pretzels and m&m's for a snack this time.  
I didn't spend a ton of money on these bags.  I shopped at the Dollar Tree, 99 cent only store, Target dollar spot, Walmart and the trick-or-treat buckets (shhhh....don't tell the girls!!).  Of course, you have to expect to spend a certain amount, but don't go crazy.  I'm not expecting these toys to be permanent toys in our home.  If anything gets lost or broken, it's ok.  The point is just entertainment.

Here are some pictures for you :)
Here's a shot of all of Maddie's goodies.  

Here are Sadie's.  Another thing I should note:  have everything opened up out of the package and ready for the kids to play with.  You don't want all the trash in the car to deal with.  And the point of it isn't for them to see they have brand new toys, it's just to have something new and fun for them to play with.  By all means, by a "lot" of used toys for this and save some money!!

Here are Sadie's bags with the toys inside and the treats ready to put in.  Things that didn't come individually packaged got put into snack size baggies.  I tried to keep it to 1/3 cup or less (each Pringles bag has 8 Pringles...and that may be too much even!).  I don't want to fill the kids up, but having snacks at regular intervals will keep them happy.

So, there you have it.  The treat bags.  I have a feeling these are going to be legendary in our family :)  Please let me know any questions you have or any suggestions to improve my process!  

Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Traveling With Kids

When I was a kid, flying in a plane wasn't even a consideration.  Anytime we went anywhere, we loaded up the car and we were on our way (there was one trip where we flew to LA and drove to Vegas...but that's a post for another day).  I honestly don't remember complaining too much about being in the car.  Now, my mom and dad might have a different memory of those road trips, but I'm telling my side of the story :)  Our biggest complaint was when we were driving with Pap Pa (my dad's dad) and he did NOT like to stop.  We would have a scheduled lunch stop and you better use the bathroom while we were there because it would take a natural disaster for us to stop again!  That was the only problem, holding it until we got to our destination.  Ahhhh...the problems we had as kids :)

Fast forward 20 years and here I am with my own kids and I have gotten quite spoiled by flying with them.  When we're in the car, we consider a trip to the zoo (about 40 minutes) a long drive.  I let the girls watch a DVD to keep them happy on the way.  Isn't that crazy that 40 minutes is a long drive??

Well, we've taken a few long trips with the girls.  The first was when Maddie was just under 6 months old.  We drove from Houston to Knoxville for Thanksgiving.  Maddie was still a baby so she slept a lot.  We made a stop every 3-4 hours.  The stop would consist of us getting gas in the car, getting some food, using the bathroom, nursing and changing Maddie.   Then we'd get back on the road.  Life was good.

Now our girls are 2 and 4 and they are opinionated!!  They no longer sleep most of the trip, they need more entertainment to keep them happy and they F.I.G.H.T.  So, this past summer when we drove to Gulf Shores, AL we knew we had to do some pre-planning to satisfy all the girls' needs.  It was a lot of work and took a lot of planning and a little bit of money...but it paid off BIG TIME!

I'm going to turn this post into a few-part series just to keep this from getting too long...but for today I'm going to give you my top ten tips for traveling with kids.

10.  Do NOT start with movies right off the bat!  If you do this, you will only have movies going the entire trip.  Some of your kids may be ok with that, so ignore this.  For Sadie, however, if she's watching a movie, she will NOT go to sleep!  Also, once one movie ends they just want another and another and nothing else we have planned for the trip seems as good as watching a movie...we try to save this for desperate times!

9.  Plan car-friendly snacks.  Since Sadie is probably the messiest eater of all time, I really have to be careful what we bring.  This means no crackers, no breads, no cereals, nothing that gets too crumby or sticky.  Some of our favorites are fruit snacks, apple slices, grapes, cheese sticks, pretzels (mini ones, not sticks...those get crumbly easier), individual packs of m&m's, chex mix (yes, it's a messy one but it's a special treat because we don't eat that much at home).  We keep a cooler up front between the front seats with cold snacks and water.

8.  Be prepared to sit in the back seat with the kids.  Sometimes kids need something a little out of the "norm" to feel special.  I take along some books (we have a stock pile of books at home they've never read so we bring plenty of new ones and some old favorites!) and will sit in between their seats and read to them.

7.  Expect your kids to be cranky and unhappy.  If you go into the trip expecting cranky kids, then the trip can only go better than you're expecting, right??

6.  Have special "trip-only" toys.  I have a magna doodle, a Mr. Potatohead, a Crayola dry erase crayon board, some magnetic paper dolls, and finger puppets that we used for our last trip.  I think some of those things have made it to their play room so I'll have to come up with some other ideas for our upcoming trip...but, by bringing along toys they aren't used to having, they keep their interest longer.  You could even consider "hiding" some of their favorites 4-6 weeks before the trip so if you get it out in the car, they'll be super excited to play with it!  Don't give them all the toys at once, or even at all.  Save them in a bag for when you need something.  If the kids are happy looking out the window trying to find alligators as you drive over the bayou, by all means let them!

5.  Have a stock pile of napkins/wipes at the ready.  You just never prepared!

4.  Plan to stop every 3-4 hours.  If the kids don't get a break from sitting in their car seats, they're definitely going to be fussy.  Go ahead and just be prepared to stop at regular intervals.  Get them out, let them run around or even bring along something to do while you're stopped (bubbles, a frisbee).  Play tag, play Simon Says, play follow the leader...just get them moving!

3.  "Choose an activity" cards.  For the last trip I wrote out some activities on little pieces of paper.  They included things like "read 4 books", "sing songs with Mommy", "play with Mr. Potatohead", "Tell stories", etc.  If Maddie was acting bored, I would let her chose one card out of the bag and we did whatever was on it.  We only had to do this 2-3 times (and that included the drive there AND home!)

2.  Treat bags.  I put together treat bags to give to the girls at regular intervals on our last trip.  I'll go into more detail on these on another post, but I had to put them here.  The girls knew I was putting them together so they were really looking forward to them!  Each bag contained a small toy or activity (I shopped at the dollar store) and a snack.  I'm sure these bags are what saved our trip (and our sanity)!

1.  Keep a potty chair in the back!  Of course this is good in case you just passed that "Last exit for 120 miles" and THEN the kids decide they have to poop.  But also it's good because kids are just more comfortable going in their potty instead of in a gas station potty.  AND Mom and Dad don't have to kneal in a nasty bathroom to hold little ones on those nasty toilets!  Along with your potty it's a good idea to keep a pack of wipes or tp, and little bags to carry any solids to the bathroom when you get to a good stopping place.  We didn't come prepared with the bags on the last trip so Eric had the pleasure of carrying the little potty insert into gas station bathrooms :)  Oh, and don't forget the Clorox wipes with it too.  It's always nice to know you have a clean potty!

Ok, that's it for now...let me know if you have any other tips to add to the list!  12 days til our trip, I can use all the help/advice I can get!!!!