Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

Jen and I love to travel (both with and without our kids) and we've learned a thing or two along the road about what works and what doesn't.  For all of my adult life, my parents have lived in a different state so visiting them with the kids always means about a 7 hour road trip.  We just got back from visiting them over the weekend to celebrate Christmas so I was just reminded about all of the things I pack for a road trip with kids.  For me, surviving those road trips all starts with planning ahead and being prepared.  When packing and getting things ready for the car I always make sure I have the following:
  • iPads/iPods - Neither of our cars have DVD players because we decided to forgo those and purchase a couple of iPads instead so that they could be used not only for the car, but also on planes, in airports, or really anywhere that requires the kids to sit and be still.  A few days before we travel I start updating the iPads and the girls' iPods.  I add a few new apps, switch out the movies to current ones they love watching, and make sure they are fully charged.  In today's day and age, most kids learn to work a touch screen device very early on with age appropriate apps.  However, even before they are able to work an iPad, I used THESE CASES, that strap around the headrest, to hold the iPad so they could still watch Baby Einstein or Baby Signing Time movies.  
  • Chargers  - It should go without saying, but double and triple check that you have the chargers for all of those electronic devices.  I once made the mistake of forgetting a charger on a trip and I was stuck in my car during Atlanta's big snow storm last year without a car charger for my phone so now I'm hyper aware of chargers now. I always make sure I have at least one type of charger for all of our devices and when applicable, I also make sure I have the car chargers.  If the movie is what is going to keep the kid happy, the last thing you want is for the battery to die in the middle of the movie!   
  •  Headphones - Kid sized headphones are a must in the car when you have multiple music, games and movies being played in the backseat.  I can't stand everyone arguing because they can't hear and my husband turning up the music louder and louder to drown them all out.  I quickly learned and solved that problem by getting kid sized headphones for each of the kids.  

  •  Activity Books - I usually try to pick up a few new activity books for the kids before a road trip.  I make sure it is something that will grab their attention and be different than what they have seen before.  Anything with invisible ink or dry erase markers are always a hit for my kids. Also, color by number or sticker books and workbooks help to keep them entertained.   
  •  Writing Tools - My kids love to doodle and write little notes.  Having fun colored pens are usually less mess than markers and cute notebooks and pads of paper can keep them busy.  I also love Boogie Board LCD writing tablets and have one for each of my kids.  They can draw, write and play games and then erase with the push of a button to start again!  


  • Plastic Grocery Bags - I have finally gotten smart about this.  My kids are always handing me trash from snacks, papers they have written, old stickers, etc.  I used to try to stick and stash it anywhere I could find during our trips, but now I always have a plastic grocery bag handy in my car (even when we aren't on road trips) so that I have somewhere to put their trash.   
  •  Wipes or Wet Ones - My kids are all potty trained, but I still carry wipes with me in my bag and keep them in my car to wipe sticking hands or spills that might occur.  
  • Sandwich Baggies -  I always, always, always try to remember to bring a handful of sandwich baggies.  When the crayon box rips open, when the kids don't finish their snack, or when I need to divvy up a snack, it's always handy to have a little baggie.  
  • Easy and Mess-Free Snacks - Kids like to snack and for my kids, snacking in the car is always a must.  It helps them stay happy and satisfied.  I can remember teaching them all very early on how to use a Snack-Trap because even a 6 month old was a better car rider when they could eat some Puffs!  Now that they are older, I always go for snacks that will hopefully not make too much of a mess in the car.  Popcorn, Goldfish, Cheez-Its, Veggie Straws, fruit snacks, vanilla wafers, etc.  Nothing sticking, nothing liquid, and definitely nothing with the potential to spill!   
  •  Lollipops and Small Candies - For us, all rules go out the window when we are on a road trip.  I always bring a bag of Dum-Dum lollipops and other small candies like Smarties or Sour Patch Kids.  I try to avoid chocolate because it can obviously melt and make a mess.  If all else fails and someone is melting down or just can't stop asking how much longer, give them a lollipop and I guarantee it will make them happy.  


I'd love to hear if any of you have other tips or tricks you use with kids on road trips.  We have several other trips coming up and I'm always looking for new ideas, so please leave us a comment to share.  :-)  Happy Travels!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A MARVEL-ous Day


Last week, to celebrate the official start of our holiday break, I surprised Cute with tickets to the super hero show that was in town. I heard about the Marvel Universe Live show from a friend and it sounded like the perfect boy adventure. We are just now getting into super heroes at his age, and he couldn't have been more thrilled when he found out what we were doing. 

Over the weekend, I had taken him shopping to let him pick out a new super hero shirts for he and I. I let him choose what we each wore and was shocked his favorite, Captain America, wasn't among the mix. 


I purchased tickets for the 11:00a.m. show and with Atlanta traffic we made it just in time for a quick potty break, popcorn purchase, and sprint to our seats for show time. (Side note: for those who don't live in Atlanta, to give you an idea of how bad traffic is, I left the house at 9:15a.m. and I live approximately 30 miles from the stadium we were visiting. Its. That. Bad.) 

I was thrilled to see the seats I picked out on a guess were actually great! We were about eight rows off from the "stage". 


I was a little nervous how Cute would handle the pyrotechnics and loud noise that close, but he did excellent and didn't take his eyes off the show for one second. 


Having grown up with all girls, the super hero thing is new to me and I was clueless as to what the show was actually talking about, but Cute and the boys surrounding me LOVED it. There was lots of action, fighting, flying and flipping through the air, fire, and most importantly...motorcycle tricks. 


There was a break mid-way through and we took the chance to visit some of the things we missed on our way in. They had face painting set up, special pictures you could take with super heroes, and every kind of super hero paraphernalia you could find. Cute picked out a huge light up sword as his souvenir. 


After the intermission, the second half of the show proved to be just as entertaining and action packed. Captain America's section definitely was Cute's favorite, and if he wasn't a huge fan before of the man and his shield, he is now. 




The show visits several cities around the country and even internationally. I would highly recommend for any who have a super hero loving little one in their life. Tickets seemed expensive but there were several ways to get huge discounts to make it more affordable (more on this later), and it was definitely worth it to see that huge smile on on my own little super heroes face. 


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Monday, December 29, 2014

Movie Day {Annie}

I love classic movies and I love introducing my kids to movies I grew up watching like The Wizard of Oz and Marry Poppins.  In fact, just last week I recorded Home Alone and we had a family movie night watching it.  They LOVED it and I don't know if I've ever seen them laugh as hard as they did when the burglars slide down the icy steps or when Macaulay Calkin swung pant cans from upstairs to knock them out.  Good old fashion humor!  I remember seeing that movie in the theater as a kid and to see them enjoying it was so much fun.

Another classic I just recently introduced them to was Annie.  Their dance studio chooses a theme each year for the recital and bases the whole show around that theme.  Last year it was Cinderella and this year it is going to be Annie!  It will be a combination of the classic and the modern version so I wanted them to see both. We borrowed the DVD of the classic from some friends and they watched it on repeat for about a week.  They were so cute singing all of the songs and dancing around.  Boo-Boo even called Gigi "Miss Hannigan" one night when she was keeping the kids and getting onto him for not getting his PJ's on.  


Last week, we went with our friends from dance to see the modern version of the movie.  It was a rainy day so perfect for a movie day.  We met for lunch first and then made our way to the theater.  All of the kids loved the giant Annie sign that was in the lobby!  


After loading up on popcorn and treats we founds seats and were ready for the show.  It was such a sweet remake of the classic with a very modern day twist.  A lot of the classic songs were incorporated with a lot of new songs, too!  There was dancing, singing, and lots of entertainment.  The little boys lost interest about the mid-way point, but then the movie grabbed their attention again towards the end when the singing and dancing picked back up.  

In my opinion, Cameron Diaz plays the role of Miss Hannigan perfectly and steels the show at the end of the movie with her comedic lines and references to C&C Music Factory (which totally went over all of the kids' heads, but us moms were cracking up).  


I would definitely recommend this movie.  It is a little cheesy at parts, but it is bound to be anytime people randomly break out in song and dance.  The movie is cute, with a sweet story, and ends on a very happy note leaving you with a smile on your face.  
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Sunday, December 28, 2014

That's A Wrap


Whew! It is official...as of today Christmas 2014 has officially come to a close for our family. And man, was it a good one. 

My husband and I both have large families and each year we joke that we celebrate what we call the "12 days of Christmas". We are so blessed that most of our family lives close by, so when the holidays roll around, we have tons to celebrate. Unfortunately, we can't fit all the celebrations into one day, but it is fun to spread it out over the entire week. The kids think its great since Santa just happens to leave presents for them at each one of our stops. 


Christmas Eve we enjoyed church together in the morning to kick off our holiday right, and then we were able to enjoy not one, but two gatherings. 

The Cutes were in awe everywhere we went because apparently Gigi and other family members decorate the lower five feet of their tree. This was a huge deal, and almost was more exciting than the offerings of Christmas sprinkle cookies and new toys at every turn. 


We arrived home LATE Christmas Eve night, and word has it Mrs. Claus was up finalizing last minute details until 3a.m. Luckily, her faithful hound Bella kept her company. 


The Cutes woke up on Christmas night morning bright and early. I am pretty sure we saw the sun rise, but neither The Hubs or I were going to complain. We were just as excited as they were!

Their faces were priceless, and Little Cute understood more than I thought she would. She also went straight for her brother's section, and it took quite the convincing for her to release the new Planes cup Santa brought her brother.


The convincing came in the form of baby dolls. She was smitten with the Cinderella one Cute gave her, and didn't want to unwrap a single gift after that one. 


Cute forgave the cup snatching incident the moment he opened his gifts from the Hubs. My hunting loving husband gave Cute not one, but two, bow and arrow sets. This was the only thing, other than the "green helicopter that is friends with Dusty", that he asked for. One shoots nerf darts, and one, to much excitement from Little Cute and Bella, shoots mini marshmallows. Needless to say the latter was a HUGE hit for everyone involved. 


The excitement didn't stop there when it came for my turn to open. Nothing says hot holiday gift like all weather floor mats for your car. 

Get excited people. Floor mats!!!

I did put these on the list this year. Waaaaay at the bottom of the list, but it was on there. Life is too short to be spent vacuuming crunched up goldfish out of your car everyday. Who knew Santa would by pass all the pretty sparkly things on the list and go straight for the practical? Crunched up goldfish must bother Santa too. 

After we opened all of Santa's surprises, and the sun finally rose, we got dressed and hosted a string of family members throughout the day. The kids had a blast playing with their grandparents, aunts, and uncle, and loved giving gifts just as much as receiving them. 


Along the way we even acquired a new family member. My youngest sister, K, gave Cute (much to his parents surprise) his very first pet of his own. Everyone meet Sammy...


Sammy has shown that he has a laid back personality and a keen sense of survival. He has lived to tell the tale of continuous tank tapping to "make sure he moves", multiple large feedings because "mommy he looks hungry again!", and often enjoys an all day rave (K bought a tank with multiple lighting change options). 

Our last event of the week was so much fun. We went to the Hubs' aunt's house and the kids loved playing with all of their cousins. Everywhere you turned there were tons of smiling happy children playing together and it made my heart happy to see.


True to form, Aunt P had the house decked out in the most wonderful holiday decor. Everything was gorgeous! Little Cute was so enamored with all the sparkly things with in her reach.

Today I felt a little sad that the week went by in a blur, and that the festivities had come to an end, but I am over joyed that my husband and I get the blessing to experience the spirit of Christmas through our children's eyes. 

Nothing could be a greater gift. 


It definitely trumps gifts in the form of rubberized car floor protectant. 

We hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family!!!

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Fashion Fix {A Few New Favorites}

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!!!  We loved spending time with our family and can't wait for more family time over the weekend. I will probably share more about our Christmas next week, but today's post is all about fashion and a few new favorites of mine!  

I mentioned in my Fall Fashion Wishlist post a few months ago I hoped to get a pair of ankle boots (AKA Booties) and was ready to jump on the bootie bandwagon (HA - I just laughed out loud when typing that).  Jen, being the awesome best friend that she is, gave me a gift card to Nordstrom for my birthday so I could get the ones I'd been eyeing.  I went twice to check out their selection and try on a few pairs. I though I had narrowed down my pick, but they were out of stock in the color and size I really wanted and I just wanted to see them and try them on in person instead of ordering online.  

On a whim I decided to run in Marshall's on my way home to check and see if they might have any I liked. I really wanted a taupe color that I could wear with both black and brown and as soon as I walked in I saw these: 



There was one pair left and it was my size so I took it as a sign!  The color was just what I had been looking for and I loved the little fringe/tassel detail. I tried them on, loved them right away, and immediately texted Jen to ask if she thought I could really pull them off. Ha!  I like to think of myself as pretty trendy and up with current fashion.  In my head I still think of myself as being in my mid-twenties, but let's be honest... I'm really a 30-something mother of 3, so I wanted to get her opinion and I knew she'd be honest with me.  She said YES so I bought them and wore them that night because we were heading to a friend's surprise birthday party.  



I read all about how to style them and apparently when wearing with pants, part of the fun of the look is to cuff your jeans so your ankles peek out a bit.  That's exactly what I did and I really loved them even more when I put them on with a cute outfit.  This 30-something mom immediately felt super trendy. :-)

A couple of days later I wore them again to the girls' Christmas parties at school.  I am not used to wearing heels so my feet were not loving them after all of the walking I had to do that day, but they still looked cute and made my outfit.


I also wore them to the Justin Timberlake concert last weekend and let me just tell you, it was bootie central there.  I promise just about every girl there had on a pair and this mama felt like I fit right in!


If you want to check out a pair for yourself,  THESE Dolce Vita ones are the exact pair I have.  After clicking around a bit though I saw that Dolce Vita actually has a bunch of really cute styles that are similar in color. Click HERE to see them all.

Another one of my new favorites is this $10 statement necklace from Wal-Mart.  Y'all might remember Jen's post about them and ever since them I've been on the hunt.  Unfortunately, my Wal-Mart never had any in stock, but just recently they finally got some in and I snatched this one because I knew it was neutral enough to wear with just about anything.



The other thing I've been loving lately are my black jeans.  I am a Target and Old Navy kind of girl and if you ever want to know where something comes from, it usually is one of those stores.  I love Old Navy's Rockstar Skinny Jeans and have them in several colors.  They are super affordable - just under $35, but they are always on sale for much less than that.  I also love the fit and they are comfortable because they have stretch to them, making them perfect for tucking into jeans or cuffing to wear with ankle boots, etc.. A few weeks ago when Old Navy was having a big sale I picked up a black pair. I haven't owned black pants since I was teaching and needed to dress professionally everyday, so I wasn't sure how much wear I would get out of these.  I actually shocked myself with how often I have worn them, though.  They have been perfect for when I want to be just a little dresser than wearing normal jeans, but they are still super comfortable and not too dressy.  Click HERE for the direct link to the ones I love! After looking back through my outfit pictures in this post I realized that I wore them in every single picture.


That, my friends, is called getting your money's worth!  
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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

From our families to yours...



We wish you a happy, healthy, and very

MERRY
CHRISTMAS!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Justin Timberlake 20/20 Tour

Over the weekend my hubby and I got to sneak away on Saturday evening and go see the Justin Timberlake 20/20 tour.  I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to see JT live.  I had heard he put on an amazing show and that the whole thing was a major production.

We met some friends for dinner ahead of time and then made our way to The Arena at Gwinnett Center for the concert.  I had never been to this venue before and it was really nice. I felt like anywhere you sat in there you would have had a great view of the stage.  Our seats were in the balcony club level, but the theatrics and lights of the show were still amazing.




The crowd was going crazy and it was so loud in there. It had been a while since I was at a live concert and I forgot how electric it feels to have a huge crowd like that cheering and singing along for one person.




JT did not disappoint.  From the second he stepped foot on the stage he was singing and dancing and performing nonstop.  Justin Timberlake is a true performer.  He can obviously sing, but he also played the guitar and the piano during the show and if he wasn't playing, he was dancing the entire time.  His dancers and back-up singers were also impressive and together they all put on a heck of a show.



At one point he asked everyone to turn on their phones (a modern day version of holding up lighters) and it was the neatest thing to see.  There were thousands of twinkling lights all over the arena shining as he sang.



Towards the end of the show a part of the stage started to move and this entire catwalk traveled above the seats on the floor all the way to the back of the arena.  The crowd was going wild as he moved from side to side singing up close for everyone.  Then he came down from the moving stage and proceeded to play several songs at the back of the arena.  Everyone truly got a wonderful show and no matter where you were sitting, you got a close-up view at some point during the night.





I will say this, if you ever have the chance to see one of his shows I would HIGHLY recommend going because it is an amazing show and such a fun night!


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