Monday, July 30, 2012

Relaxing Roadtrip - Packing with Kids

We're hitting the road and I'm packing up for everyone.  In this installment of my Relaxing Roadtrip series I'm sharing a few ideas I found that made the job a lot easier.

Pillowcase Pockets:

We have to take our own bedding with us as we've rented a house for this holiday.  I originally saw this idea on Martha Stewart and put it into use when packing for this trip.  I put the flat and fitted sheets in the coordinating pillowcase.  When we arrive it will be easy to hand out every one's bedding and get organized quickly.

Relaxing Roadtrip - Packing with Kids
Image & Idea:  Martha Stewart

When it comes time to leave I'll put them back in the pillowcases which will ensure that all my bedding returns home with us.

Ziploc Day by Day Packing:

Kim from All Things Simple shared this great idea to make packing simple when travelling with young kids.

Put an entire outfit (including undies, socks, jewellery and hair accessories) in a Ziploc bag. Put together one bag for each day of your trip. When you get to the hotel you simply put the bags in a drawer and the kids can pick one out each day. You know you've remembered to pack everything by doing it this way and it is a huge time saver at your destination. The bags can stay in luggage to reuse each time you travel.

Image & Idea:  All Things Simple

Why limit this to the kids?  Packing like this for yourself is a great idea too.  I know that my bag is always the last to be packed and if anyone is missing anything, it is usually me.  I can't to see how this works out!

Shower Cap Shoes:

I thought this idea was great.  Wrap your shoes in shower caps.  It keeps them together and keeps everything else in your bag free from dirt.  Shower caps are easy to find at the dollar store.

Image & Idea: Proper Prim
Happy Packing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Relaxing Roadtrip - 10 Activities for Keeping Sane in the Car

This summer we are heading out on a road trip.  This means LONG days in the car with kids who are not used to drives longer than about 2.5 hours and have probably been in the car for no longer than 5. 

You already saw the 3 re-usable travel games I created and the Travel Activity Binder I put together for my kids.  In this installment of Relaxing Road Trip I'm sharing some more great ideas to help keep the kids busy and you sane on a long car ride.


DIY Lego Travel Box:

This Lego box idea from Finley & Oliver is great!You can easily make it yourself and your child will have something to play with en route and at your destination.

Image & Idea: Finley & Oliver

Another version using a suitcase type box rather than a slide lid.  These can be found easily at dollar stores.

Image & Idea: Finley & Oliver

Drawing Tutorials:

In the travel binders I created for my kids I included lots of activities to keep them busy.  I wanted variety so I popped in these animal drawing tutorials from Busy as a Bee in Paris.  I put them into the section of their binders with blank paper.  They love to draw but having these step by step tutorials will make their pictures come alive.

 I had a really hard time downloading and printing from her site but I made a PDF version of the Learn To Draw pictures for you to download and print at home.

The Licence Plate Game:

This free printable from The Dating Divas was included in my binders.  I laminated them the same way that I laminated my own re-usable travel games so that we could use dry-erase markers to cross off the plates.  This meant that we'd be able to play both on our way to our destination and our way home. 

Image & Idea: The Dating Divas

Note:  I wish I could have found a Canadian version online but time was not on my side so we only had the American plates.  Sorry!


Funny Faces:

I found these cute face templates over at Planet of the Apels.  They  are intended to be used with playdough but I thought the kids could just use their dry erase markers and have some fun.  I printed the boy and the girl, laminated them back to back and added them to my trusty binder.  Planet of the Apels has a whole series of free printables to be used with playdough.  Check them out before your next trip.

Image & Idea: Planet of the Apels

Origami Dresses:

Okay, this one might be more for me than the kids but I think these little paper dresses from MeiJo's Joy are adorable.  With a full tutorial to go on, I think we'll enjoy passing the time making some of these in the car.  She also shows how you can use plain paper and colour the dresses to make a full and unique wardrobe.

Image & Idea: MeiJo's Joy

Wouldn't these be great to make into a mobile for your little girl's room when you get home?  What a great memento of your trip.


Remember this game.  Teach a new generation!

Instructions: (from Mash Magazine)

  1. Your friend writes M A S H at the top of the page. This, of course, stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House.
  2. Then she asks you the names of four boys you would like to marry, four careers you'd like to have, four cities in which you would like to live, and four cars you'd like to drive.
  3. Then, while you look away, she begins to draw a spiral when you give the go ahead.
  4. You say stop when the spirit moves you. She will then start at the top of the spiral and count down the number of lines that have been drawn.
  5. Using that number, she will start counting at the M in MASH and go all through your choices.
  6. Each time she comes to that number (6, in the case of our example), she crosses out the choice she has landed on.
  7. When there is only one choice left in each section, those are your prophetic answers.


I divided the jokes from Childhood Beckons into two lists and printed them out for my two kids so that they would each have their own unique set.  I dropped them in my nifty binder because we all know, kids love to tell jokes.

Image & Idea: Childhood Beckons

Unique Colouring Pages:

I thought these were beautiful, unique and detailed enough that they would keep the kids occupied for a little while.  They might not be for really little ones but the colouring pages from Dover Publications are amazing.  I printed a few for each of the kids.

Image: Dover Publications

Cootie Catchers:

Kids always love these because they can let their imaginations run wild with ideas to fill them with.  I know my two silly ones will get a kick out of making them and playing with them in the car and with family once we arrive.  This great template from Billy Bear 4 Kids is great to get you started.  It shows all the fold lines and has instructions.

Image & Idea:  Billy Bear 4 Kids

    Track your progress:

    One of my favourite bloggers, Cheri, from I am Momma - Hear Me Roar, shared this idea for road trip fun.  She had her kids create a visual timeline for the trip.

Image & Idea: I am Mama Hear Me Roar
    She had the kids colour a car and using an exacto knife she carefully cut two slits in the drawn car.  She then thread a long piece of packaging ribbon through the drawn car and drew a black line to represent every hour of their trip.  She attached the drawn car to the handles of the real car.  Every time an hour passed along their way, the boys were able to move the car to the next black line.  It was easy for them to see the progress and hopefully helped cut down on the inevitable question, "Are we there yet????".

    Happy travelling everyone!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Relaxing Roadtrip: Re-usable Travel Games (Free Printables)

In this installment of my Relaxing Road Trip series I'm sharing my re-usable travel games with you.

As I mentioned before we are embarking on a long road trip with the family this summer.  We've done lots of shorter trips but nothing over 5 hours.  In the car my kids love to play the traditional car games of the past - the licence plate game, the picnic game, hangman, etc.

 I wanted to create a re-usable template for these games to save paper and allow them to play over and over (and over) on the journey to and from our destination.  I made 3 of my own games.

To make the games re-usable, I purchased Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets from the dollar store and put my Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe games back to back so that both games would be laminated together. It was as simple as placing the pages, peeling off the adhesive protector and smoothing out the bubbles.

I then punched 3 holes down the side (optional) so that they would fit into my car trip binder that I prepared for the kids.
While at the dollar store I picked up dry-erase markers with erasers built into the caps. The kids will be able to use these over and over along the way.


I saw an idea for a portable baseball game made from an Altoids tin at Plaid.  Not having an adequate tin or finding cute baseball paper on my shopping escapades I decided to embark on creating a travel baseball game of my own. 

Download free Baseball PDF here.

Materials Needed:

  • Dice
  • Paper
  • Glue
  • Post-it Flags or other sticky pieces of paper in 2 different colours for game pieces
  • Printout of Game Board (free PDF above)
  • Dry erase marker


  1. Print off a copy of the PDF
  2. Cut out squares of paper the same size as one side of the dice.  Glue them to the dice and once dry, write "S", "D", "T", "H", "O", "S" on a side. 
  3. Stick 5 Post-it flags to beside each side of the scoreboard.  These are your players.
 * If you don't have time to cover your dice, simply use the following rules:
   1 = single, 2 = double, 3 = triple, 4 = home run, 5 = single, 6= out


  1. Roll the dice and follow the letters instructions. 
    • "S" = single - move to first base
    • "D" = double - move to second base 
    • "T” = triple - move to third base
    • "H" = home run - move all the way around the bases to home
    • "O" = out
  2. When you get 3 outs, you’re team is out and it is the next team’s turn.
  3. Keep score of each player that comes 'home' and write the score on the scoreboard.
  4. Play until you have played 9 innings (or your little one is tired).


Download free Hangman PDF here.

I created the template with a space between the gallows and the alphabet to leave room for the kids to draw their lines for the words.  I included the alphabet at the bottom so that they can cross off the letters as we guess them as no one can ever remember what has already been guessed.  I also thought we could use the letters for other games such as "I spy".


Download free Tic Tac Toe PDF here.
No real explanation needed here.  I created 9 on a sheet to allow the kids to continue playing for a while before having to erase and start all over again.

 Hopefully they're a hit for my family and yours!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Relaxing Roadtrip - Travel Activity Binders

This summer our family is embarking on a long road trip.  Join me on a week long "Relaxing Road Trip" adventure as I prepare and share ideas, tips and tricks to make your next road trip more enjoyable.

Travel Activity Binders:

My biggest fear on this trip would be boredom on the drive.  There is nothing worse than two bored kids needling eachother in the back seat as you drive.  I wanted to ensure that the kids had enough activities to keep them busy and hopefully ward off the question "Are we there yet?" for as long as possible. 

In my gallant attempt I created a Travel Activity Binder for each of the kids.  It is full of activities, books and games, etc. that should help them pass the time. 

They've seen the binders in the house but they have no idea what is in them.  Here's what they'll discover...

1.  Inexpensive magnetic games

2.  Wax Strips

3. Activity Books

4. Crayon roll & pencil case filled with new markers, pencil crayons, erasers, etc.

5.  Re-usable travel games (free printables)

6.  Plain Paper, Lined Paper, Colouring Pages

7. Books

8. Gum that is theirs to chew at their own discretion (a HUGE treat)

9.  Map to our destination

10.  Paper Towels in different patterns to colour with markers

Let's hope this helps us have the Relaxing Road Trip I'm envisioning. Happy Travelling!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Craziest Cure for Hiccups - But it works!

I was at work the other day when I was hit with a terrible case of the hiccups.  Now when I get hiccups I get them bad.  They are deep, strong and last forever (it seems).  I often end up with a headache because I can't get rid of them. 

Image:  Healthy Talks

I had been sitting there suffering for about 20 minutes trying my best to muffle the sound (had I mentioned they're usually really loud?) when a client walked in.  Laughing, she claimed she knew a crazy cure for the hiccups but didn't want me to get my hopes up in case it didn't work.  I kind of assumed she was going to tell me to drink a glass of water, stand on my head and yodel at the same time but I was getting desperate and told her to go ahead.

Drum roll please...

She told me to put my forefingers inside each of my ears and pinch the tragus (the piece of cartiledge where your cheek meets your ear) between my finger and thumb while holding my breath. 

Image: Dr.Spiller

Yup, that was it...

I  followed her instructions and immediately my hiccups stopped.  I SWEAR, it was a miracle.  I still find it hard to believe that everyone doesn't already know about this when the solution is so simple.  Maybe you already do know and I was the only one left in the dark...but just in case, I thought I'd share.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Easy Bake - What a Misnomer

On the weekend my kids had a sleepover with their Grandma and Grandpa. When we went to pick them up we were told that they had gone to a garage sale with Grandma on Saturday morning and they’d each chosen something to buy. My son showed us a basket filled with toy soldiers. He was happy with his purchase but it was my daughter’s face that lit up and gave away that she felt she had won the garage sale lottery, that she had found something really special. My daughter was the proud new owner of an Easy Bake Oven.

Now I never had an Easy Bake Oven growing up so the nostalgic allure was not there for me. She had shown them to me in the store before but I had always said ‘no’. We bake together in the real oven, why did we need an Easy Bake? But isn’t that what grandparents are for, to buy the kids things that they don’t ‘need’ but really want?

She and Grandma had gone to the store and purchased a cookie mix. She was excited to get going but by the time we got home on Sunday night we didn’t have time to make the cookies. Grandma checked in on us a few days later to see how they turned out. Again we had to admit that we hadn’t yet had time. We were going to the cottage the following weekend and Grandma and Grandpa were going to be there. We decided we’d make them Friday night so that we could take them and share. 


This is where the name Easy Bake threw me for a loop. We opened the package and realised that it only made 4 cookies and when you’re baking with a lightbulb you can only make one cookie at a time. Each cookie took 15 minutes to cook and 15 minutes in the cooling chamber. That totalled 2 hours in total to make 4 cookies. How is that Easy Baking I ask you???? 

We then realised that we could bake one while another was in the cooling chamber so that cut an hour off the baking time but seriously, 1 hour for 4 cookies not to mention that they probably cost about $1.25/cookie.

In the end the cookies turned out well and she was proud that she had made them herself. It isn’t my type of baking but I don’t think I’m really the intended consumer. 

I'm always looking for ways to empower my kids and help them to become more independent. This is a good start. I figure that there are probably some great recipes out there in blogland that other creative mamas have come up with. I’m going to do a little research and this might become a fun summer activity for her. Who knows, maybe she’ll be able to Easy Bake us dinner one night this summer. A mother can always hope.

PS - Notice that she started in clothes and ended in pajamas. THAT's how long it takes to bake 4 cookies in an Easy Bake Oven.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Library Books - The search is off

My kids and I have a standing date to visit the library every week.  They love searching the aisles for new adventures, seeking out old favourites and getting to choose whatever they want.  Where else can you go, fill a bag, not pay a thing and end up with a week's worth of entertainment?

I love that they love books and reading.  I love our weekly trips to the library.  I love the new knowledge they gain reading.  I love seeing their progress as they master reading on their own.  I absolutely love snuggling up with them and reading together.  What I hate though is the search for library books every week when it is time for our next visit. 

I sometimes wonder if library books have minds of their own and the ability to grow legs because there were times they were nowhere to be found.  My girlfriend is always lamenting about the 'lost' library books in her house.  It seems there is an epidemic.

Well, having a need for organization (you can read about that here if you like) I new I needed a plan. In comes my 'library basket'.  I placed a dedicated basket on our fireplace hearth which has been dubbed the 'library basket'.  When we get home from the library, the books get placed in the basket.  When we are finished reading a book, it gets put back in the basket.  I even keep our library bag (with library card inside) folded in the basket so that everything is all together. 

The kids know where to look for their books and more importantly they know where to put them away.  On library days we simply do a quick count, empty the basket and fill up our library bag then we're off.  It has made a HUGE difference.  No more searching the house, under beds, through our bookshelves, etc.  99% of the time the books are all in the basket.  An added bonus of the library basket is having the books close at hand.  I think it helps the kids remember their choices and they end up reading them even more.

The Library Basket: Simple, I know!  Effective - Yes!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Short Sheeting – Practical, not a Practical Joke

Transitioning from a crib to a big kid bed is a BIG step for some kids, for others it doesn’t phase them. Luckily for my husband and I both our kids fell into the second camp. What surprised me however was the awkward transition from bed-rails to no bed-rails.

My daughter didn’t seem to have a problem, probably because since birth she has been a good sound sleeper who doesn’t move much at all. My son on the other hand kept landing on the floor. Perhaps this was in part because we happened to buy him a new mattress at around the same time we took away the bed-rails or perhaps it is just because he is a mover.

You can see the excess fabric on the sides when you short sheet the bed. It provides lots of extra sheet to tuck under the mattress and keep it in place.
Whatever the reason, I needed to come up with a solution and fast. I wasn’t used to this waking multiple times in the night to pick a kid up off the floor, dust them off and tuck them back in.

You lose the tuck down of the sheet by short sheeting but this hasn’t caused any issues in our house.

As I was making his bed one morning it came to me, short sheet the bed. The kids aren’t long enough to reach the end of the bed anyway so not having it tucked in at the bottom isn’t really an issue. Instead I could use that length to tuck under the sides of the bed and keep the sheet pulled taught and snug around them.

As you can see, you can’t tell the difference when the bed is made and for us it has really made the difference. 

I tried it that day and SUCCESS, we haven’t had a mid-night fall since.

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's the Simple Things

Don't you wish sometimes that you could harness the unabashed joy and wonderment your kids can find in the everyday moments?

The sprinkler for instance. I have to admit that for me it has become just another thing you have to do around the house but for kids it is a water fountain, a splash pad, a car wash, a rainbow maker. I have vivid memories of trying to perfect my timing both on my bike and on foot so I could pass by a neighbour's house at the precise moment so that I didn't get wet. On other days the perfect timing meant getting hit at full blast to cool you off on a hot summer's night.

I love seeing my kids faces when the sprinkler comes out. I need to recapture some of that innate joy. Who knows, if you pass by our house one night this summer you may just see a really big kid running through the sprinkler.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1 Day In and I Can Already Feel It...

I love my kids and I love spending time with them but after only one day of school holidays I can feel my stress level rising. 

No, my rising stress level isn't due to bad behaviour, bickering or bellows of 'I'm bored'.  Quite the opposite. It is from the clutter that they have managed to create all over the house while keeping themselves busy remembering everything, and I mean everything, we have to play with.  I admit it, I have a clutter phobia.  I literally feel myself tensing up when I look around and see 'stuff' everywhere.  Today tested my limits.

Imagine my horror when I saw this....

and this...

and this...

What you can't see is all the dinosaurs, superheros and Transformers hiding
between the cushions and what lays beyond the couch.

I know to many of you this seems like a normal playroom and it isn't like I've never seen ours messy before but I have an intrinsic need to pick things up and put them away when they are out of place.  I know that messy can be good and messy can produce amazing things but I find mess hard to ignore.

Now my mother finds this all quite amusing because it seems that I was notoriously messy when I was young and keeping my room tidy was a battle.  Just like many other of those light bulb moments you have about your childhood when you become a parent, this one hit home hard.

While my heart wanted to beg them to pick it all up, put everything away and return me to my happy place (a very neat place), I held back.  I took a deep breathe, collected myself and told them to "leave it".  What I needed to focus on was the fact that they played beautifully together all day, taking turns playing Barbie, Transformers, hockey and dinosaurs.  They used their imaginations and I didn't need to interfere or referee even once. They were just so happy to finally have time to really play without anything else on the agenda to pull them away from their toys.  That's what childhood is about, right?

Tomorrow morning the toys will still be all over the playroom floor.  Hopefully they'll play with some of them again and I won't break my neck trying to weave my way through the room.  We'll compromise and slowly put things away as they move onto new activities.  Deep breath...ahhhh.  I can feel the stress dissipating as I envision it now.

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