Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Keep You and Your Children Entertained on Road Trips

The key to any successful car trip (where kids are concerned) is keeping your kids occupied so they don't get too bored while they're in the car. I just don't know how parents did it 30 years ago when there was very little that you could do in the car, especially if the kids were like me and had problems with motion sickness, which prevents being able to read and do other similar activities. In fact, I think that's one reason why I hate car trips—they were pretty miserable as a kid since my only option really was to sleep or fight with my brother about whether I was touching him or was on "his side."

But now there are a lot more options available then there was when I was a kid, and after taking a trip with my son to Washington, I'd like to share some ways I found to keep your children entertained:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review of Pampers Bibsters

I don't know if you've heard of Pampers Bibsters before, but these are disposable bibs that were created by the Pampers company. To be honest, when I first saw this product, I thought it was a waste of money. Who would use a disposable bib? That was until I was planning a road trip. The thought of having to wash the plastic bibs we typically use after every meal and then find a place to let them dry was impossible.

Then I remembered the Bibsters. I already like Pampers diapers (except the Baby Dry diapers, which I've mentioned), so I figured they would be good quality, and I really liked the idea of using these bibs for meals and then just throwing them away. When you're on the road and just need something to keep your kid relatively clean, I figured they would work.

I got mine at Walmart and it was $6 for 32 of them, which puts them at almost $0.19 each. A little spendy if you're using 5 of them a day on a regular basis, but not bad when you just need them for a few days. I bought the ones with bibs because to be honest, I didn't know they had ones without, and I didn't see any other ones at Walmart.

Let me tell you, they were great. Just what we needed. At one of the restaurants, I was letting Alex drink some water out of a cup, and he proceeded to dump it all over him (he doesn't seem to mind being all wet, so he does this all too often, which is why he often drinks from sippy cups). Considering the bib got soaked, it did a pretty good job at keeping Alex's shirt dry underneath. It also had a little pocket in front to catch food.

Overall, I would recommend these bibs for traveling or when you're eating out and having a regular bib is inconvenient. I'll definitely be adding a few of these bibs to the diaper bag for future use (and I wish I'd done it sooner. You don't know how often I've taken Alex to a restaurant or a relative's house for dinner and realized I had nothing to put on him while he ate).

Just the Facts

Store: Walmart
Regular Price: $6.00 (for 32 bibs)
Date Purchased: November 2009
Rating: 4.5/5

Great for when you're on the road or eating out. Really good protection and fits conveniently in your diaper bag.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Preparing to Travel: Make a List

A couple weeks ago, my dad decided to come from Denver to visit us, which was really great. I assumed when he came that he and my step-mom would stay somewhere nearby, but when they arrived and called me to let me know they were here, I found out that they were staying at a suite in Park City. My dad has a time-share in Orlando, but because he doesn't often use it, and because Orlando is such a popular destination, he has extra weeks that he can exchange for. Obviously, October isn't a popular time for trips to Park City, so it wasn't hard to use one of his weeks there.

At the time, all three of us were sick with a stomach virus and our place was a disaster. The thought of them seeing our apartment in that condition was not appealing, so when I found out that they had this huge suite, with two bedrooms, a living room, and a full-sized kitchen, I jumped at the chance to go there instead (and Aaron, despite feeling awful, was willing to come along. What a good sport!). I wanted to get there as soon as possible so we could get settled and Alex could take his nap, so we packed fairly quickly. Not surprisingly, we forgot some things, and not just unimportant some things, but essential some things. These included my husband's medication (which must be taken every night), the camera, the white noise machines (very helpful for Alex and Aaron to sleep), and Alex's pajamas.

The reason I forgot so many things was I didn't have a list. Lists are important things to me. I make a list of things I need to do, I make lists of items I need to buy, and I make lists of topics I want to write about. Lists keep you organized and help you when you have a frazzled brain (as I had when I was rushing around stuffing items into suitcases).

So when we made a second unexpected trip (in less than a month), the first thing I did this time was make a list. I decided that instead of writing it down, I would type it up on my computer. This way whenever we made a trip in the future, I could print it out and I would less likely forget anything. Then I took that list and I walked around the house. Whenever I saw something that should have been on there, I wrote it down and later added it to my computer list. And guess what: I didn't forget anything on the trip to Washington (which was pretty important since unlike Park City, we were more than 45 minutes away). Sure, we forgot to bring the camera with us when we saw family, but at least we got the camera to Washington.

So even if you're not planning a trip anytime soon, take a minute and make a list. You can separate the items by each person in your family, and have a separate section for each season, and then as you pack check off the item as it's put into the suitcase. You'll spend a lot less time trying to think if you're forgetting anything and you won't get to your destination without any underwear.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review of Graco Pack n Play Underwood Safari

When I was a kid and we'd go to visit our grandparents, I remember this unusual contraption in one of the guest bedrooms (which used to be my mom's room growing up). When I got older, I learned that it was a crib that my grandpa had built that was attached to the wall and pulled out when it needed to be used. Being the youngest, I never saw it used (except maybe by my cousins when I was little). It was a wonderful thing for our parents, so they didn't have to worry about where their babies and toddlers would sleep. And just like all things that my grandpa built, it was very sturdy and safe.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Traveling in a Small Car

Our car is a 1989 Toyota Corolla. On top of that, it's a very basic model—no A/C, no tape deck, no automatic windows or locks. But we're grateful to have it. My step-mom gave it to me when they replaced her car. She'd had it since she bought it new, and at the time we had a 1984 Honda Civic, so it was a step up.

But when you're traveling 750 miles, it can be a little tricky fitting everything you need for 3 people and still allowing room to stretch out while you're driving. So here are some tips I learned (the hard way) about traveling in a small car.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What to Feed Children on Road Trips

With a 12-hour drive ahead of us (along with stops to get gas, go potty, and eat), obviously one of the major things we needed with us was food. Aaron and I could easily make it from breakfast to lunch and lunch to dinner without eating anything, but Alex needs to eat about every 3 hours, so having snacks for him were essential to our sanity. In fact, Alex did quite well on the trip overall, and most of the time when he complained, it was because he was hungry. Once we gave him something to eat that he wanted, he quieted right down and went to eating.

Normally, I try to feed Alex fairly healthy meals. Just like any child, he balks if I give him plain oatmeal or other unsavory choices, but I try to give him foods that taste good and are nutritious. But for this trip, I didn't worry about that so much. I figured that if giving him some junk food would help him get through the drive happier, it was worth it. It's not like two days of junk food is going to make him unhealthy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tips on Road Trips with Young Children

Last week we found out that my husband's father wasn't doing too well. In a way this wasn't completely out of the blue, but it was still unexpected. Pat has been fighting leukemia for over a year, but last we knew, he was doing pretty well. He had been at a Sacred Heart in Seattle going through treatments including a bone marrow transplant and had just gone home to Spokane because he was doing so well. Then we got a call on Tuesday morning (a little over a week ago) from his sister (Aaron's aunt), informing us that he might not make it. He had some infections that caused one of his lungs to collapse and he was having trouble breathing.

Immediately, I told Aaron that I would support whatever decision he made in terms of going to see his dad. He debated on whether he wanted to go. He was behind in classes, and it would be difficult to get there. And I think that he truly believed his dad would make it, so in a way there was no immediate need to go see him. On top of that, one reason Aaron wanted to go was he really wanted his dad to see Alex one last time, and we found out that Alex wouldn't be able to go into the ICU, so that point was moot.

So we continued to debate the pros and cons of going when Aaron got a call around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday saying that his dad wasn't doing well at all. They put the phone up to Pat's ear and although Pat couldn't talk, Aaron was able to tell him he loved him. Still, he was hoping his dad would get better, and he got off the phone with his family when Pat started to improve some. But then the news came around 2 a.m. that Pat had passed on from this life.
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