I have been insanely busy preparing for our trip to Michigan and I apologize for the lack of updates. We are doing well. Calla is busy cutting her first two bottom teeth, Zander is cutting his two year old molars and Gabe is getting his six year old molars. Happy happy house! In other news, Matt will be home on Friday, just in time to help me pack and gather odds and ends before the kids and I leave with my brother (who is flying in next Monday) on next Tuesday. Whew! I am exhausted just thinking about it. Before Matt gets here, I am trying to do as much running around as possible so we can enjoy our 'Daddy' time. I do, really quickly, want to share with you my ideas for our survive-the-journey-to-Michigan car ride.
Do I need to repost 'Mayhem' as a reminder of my fear? I didn't think so.
Last time, I showed you how I made the magnetic faces with the cookie sheet and exposed the greatest entertainment secret of all time (plastic soldiers with magnets on the bottom).
Since then, I have been busy making activity books for each of the boys:
Absolutely, ridiculously easy to make and incredibly cheap and cost effective.
I bought two soft binders (from Target - $.79 each), the portfolio ones, two sets of 25 sheet protectors (PX - $5.99 each - most expensive part and you could probably find them elsewhere cheaper), and three coloring books from the Dollar Store ($3 total) to create these.
To assemble, rip the coloring book pages out of the book and put them back to back inside the sheet protectors and then inside the portfolio. The kids can color on them (with any kind of crayons) and they will wipe off with a rag. I have seen this idea before with dry erase markers, but there was no way I would give Zander a marker in the back seat of my van unsupervised. Crayons work just as effectively!
I chose to buy coloring books because they have activities other than just coloring in them to keep the kids busy, and I didn't want to waste a bunch of printer paper or ink. To use the whole coloring book, I ended up sticking multiple pieces of paper in each sleeve. Then when the kids get bored of whatever pictures are in front, we can switch them out with new pictures.
I did print some educational coloring pages and letter writing ones from this site Mr. Printables. I love this website. Very very cool stuff for all ages.
At Easter time, I ordered these (picture below) for the boys. They are chalkboard mats that roll up and can be taken anywhere you want. I love them. The part you write on is vinyl (I think) and works perfectly for writing and cleaning up after. These were a part of a Very Jane deal, but you can order them anytime from Crafty Momma's etsy page.
I always talk about how great the Dollar Tree is (and it is pretty awesome for bargains), but I really love Target's Dollar Spot. I found these two wooden puzzles there. Both boys really enjoy them, but they weren't travel ready. So I bought some velcro patches and adhered it to each puzzle piece and space they belong in. Now they can take all the pieces off, put them back on and they will stay on (even if the puzzle falls on the floor). I don't know why they didn't come with velcro, I think it should be mandatory.
Also, I feel obligated to share this super cool deal with you. I had no idea that Barnes and Noble sells audio books for kids in the mp3 form. Did you? They are only the sound file of the book being read (no book included) but only cost between $1 - 2.50 a book. My kids LOVE listening to books on tape. We have many books already, but I always love to surprise them with new books to listen to. The best part is that you can download these instantly to iTunes and sync them with any device. I currently have an 'Audio Books' playlist on both the iPad and iPod just in case. Barnes and Noble has MANY different books to choose from, but here is the list of ones I have purchased for our trip - note all the Jamie Lee Curtis books (I absolutely love her). Also, the Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) book for kids!
I expanded my arsenal of reading books today when I got an email from Amazon about their "Big Deal" sale on Kindle books. Having an iPad has really come in handy in that I can order books for the nook (from B&N) and for the Kindle (from Amazon) and read them from their apps. In their "Big Deal" sale, they have ebooks for all readers at a super discounted price. For the kids, I bought three books for $2 each and one for $1. They are fully illustrated and will work perfectly. As much as I ADORE the act of holding a book and reading to my child, when we travel like this (packing as light as possible) I am glad I can still read to my kids without having to tote our library with us.
You can't see the titles as well as I thought, so I will list them for you:
"Little Pea" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
"Little Hoot" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
"Little Oink" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
"Chicken Big" by Keith Graves
and for me, I bought:
"Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat" by: Temra Costa
"Fifteen Minutes Outside" by: Rebecca Cohen
I am excited - both were $2 each. That's $11 for 6 books. I think it's a steal.
Lastly, I have two exciting food finds from Target today.
You read it right, applesauce on the go! It is applesauce in pouches that have twist off resealable lids, perfect for traveling. I would rather stock my car (and take up precious cargo space) with wholesome food than have my kids eating fast food for the three days we will be on our way. This 12 pack cost $6.49 at Target, equaling less than $.50 a pouch. Baby food costs more than that. They have different flavors (cinnamon apple and strawberry apple), but I stuck with original because I am planning on feeding it to Calla too. This is genius.
That's right, peanut butter in to go cups! I love this idea for multiple reasons. It is pre-portioned for my kids. I can give them one of these and some crackers and apple slices and say "Go to town! Enjoy!" and that can be a lunch meal. Also, it cost $2.19 at Target - less than a box of Uncrustables ($2.49 for 6).
Originally, I was planning on packing sandwiches, but that came with lots of negatives:
Gabe only likes PB and honey sandwiches - no honey in my van.
Zander picks the sandwich apart and eats each half individually.
Sandwiches always get crushed in a cooler, then you have sandwich guts all over the inside of the bag.
Instead, by going with the pre-portioned peanut butter cups, I have less mess and less worry. Although, I am a little nervous about Zander. That kid was made to keep me on my toes. This might be a snack they eat when we are pulled over for gas or at a rest stop. Even then, it is still something they can eat on their own and that makes me happy.
In the end, you can see I have put a mountain's worth of thought into this trip. I am, and will always be a planner at heart, and I am just hoping that all this planning pays off! If you have any tried and true methods of entertaining kids while road tripping across the country (other than watching DVD's, trust me I have that set up as a fail-safe), please share! I know I am not the only one making a trip this summer and we all benefit from collective ideas.
Otherwise, this could be the last you hear from me before we embark on our journey! I do have one other blog post I have been working on, a huge list of recipes we have been using, and will hopefully get that posted before we leave. If not, I can post it from my iPad (it just might be sans pictures).