Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Car Kits

I was at the park yesterday, and was discussing the “emergency kit” I keep in the back of my car. It has personally saved me countless times, and has saved other moms I know while our kids play together.

It’s a medium-sized plastic bin with a lid._MDS6207

Inside is a random collection of items that make life with little kids much easier to handle. Here’s a list of the items I keep in mine:

  • Cereal bars
  • Applesauce cups
  • 2 packs of peanut butter crackers
  • Comb
  • Extra ponytail holders
  • Socks for each family member
  • A bathing suit for each kid
  • One diaper
  • A shirt, pair of pants/shorts, and underwear for each kid
  • Sunscreen
  • Small First Aid kit (I have an additional First Aid kit elsewhere in the car)
  • Sanitizing wipes

_MDS6205 I have a note on my calendar every six months to remind me to rotate new items into the emergency kit. I stash fresh snacks, and change the clothes to suit the upcoming season.

This kit has saved me when I am stranded for an unexpected wait without snacks. It has provided backup clothes when a child (mine or a friend’s) has a potty accident or maybe just plays on a wet slide. It has saved me from having to buy another pair of socks when we go to a play area or bounce house that requires socks. Stock yours with whatever you deem crucial in the pseudo-emergencies of your life!

While we’re on the subject of sanity-saving tips, there are a few other items I keep in the car to make my job a little easier. Besides the prerequisite diaper wipes, tissues, and Goldfish snacks stashed in the car’s console, I have a wonderful restaurant kit in the trunk. Some people call them Busy Bags, which is a better name because they work in places other than restaurants too. Mine is stocked with crayons, a coloring book, stickers, blank paper, a set of Aquadoodle pages with the “magic” water coloring pens, a Thomas the Train take-along play set, dry erase board and markers, and various tiny toys (a Hot Wheels car, a Star Wars figure, and a toy airplane)._MDS6202

I used a zippered plastic bag (the type you buy a comforter or sheets in) and added a dog tag to the zipper with my son’s name and phone number on it. If it gets left behind in a restaurant or doctor’s office, it can be returned to us.

I’ve been visiting a few doctors lately with regular lupus checkups, and I make sure to grab the crayons out of this bag in my trunk. Jackson and I use the crayons to draw all over the paper that covers the exam table, and it makes the wait a little easier. Then when the doctor walks into the room, I break out the big guns and give him the MOST appealing toy I’ve been saving for last: my iPhone!!! It has brought me sanity and allowed me to focus on the doctor’s presence.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

“Make It Your Own”

And I feel like I should follow that title up with a resounding, “Yo, dog!” like the judges on American Idol.

But you know that’s NOT what I mean I say “make it your own.” I’m talking about taking something that’s not quite personal and adding to it so it’s unique to your little family.

This week, I realized back in February I promised to blog about a certain little game I made. (Read that post here.) Did I ever do that? Nope. So, here’s my post, fulfilling my promise six months late!_MDS5501-

My kids love playing Cariboo, and it’s one of the few games that doesn’t drive me crazy after three rounds. [NOTE: Go check out the link to Cariboo I included above. It says the game sells for $191 on Amazon. Whah?!] This is how the game looks regularly._MDS5518-

You draw a playing card that has a shape or letter or color on it, and you find a door in the game that has a matching shape/letter/color. Use a little key to open the door and see if there is one of six balls inside the door. If so, put the ball in the vertical blue cache on the right side of the game. When all six balls are placed in the cache, a treasure box opens and the game is over.

I decided to step it up a notch and personalize our Cariboo. First I removed the cards on the door covers. I used photos of our immediate family members and sized them in Microsoft Word, and then tinted the photo one of three colors. I included the person’s name under their photo, then printed them off on white cardstock. I cut the papers into the precise door shape, then slid them in place. Next, I took regular typing paper and printed colors and letters for the playing card pieces._MDS5506-

Once I figured out the door sizes, it was pretty easy to personalize the game for my kids. Now they get to play a game that helps them not only learn family member’s names, but how to spell those names too.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where Ya Been?

Oh, just trying to keep up with life!

After we returned from our nine-day road trip, we had one day to pack and prepare for a big milestone for Katie: her first sleepover camp! I grew up going to camps every summer. My parents started sending me to camp when I was SIX years old. (And I was gone for a month!) I can’t imagine doing it that early with my kids, but I know for sure I want them to have some sort of camping experience. I think it’s good for them to be away from their parents and learn about nature and getting along with others and having adventures of their own. My camp memories are priceless and it’s a gift I want to give my kids.

Katie’s first sleepover camp was at a nearby Girl Scout camp. She went with one of our neighbor’s daughters, and they did a special session called “Pair Up.” They pick a buddy to arrive with and spend the three-day, two-night adventure together.IMGP3350-a

I was nervous about Katie spending her first nights away from us in a platform tent in the woods, and thought there was a 25% chance I might get a call to retrieve her before the session ended. But she was a great sport and I didn’t hear a thing from her until we arrived to collect her. She and her friend were a bundle of energy, telling us about their adventures (“Lots of bugs!”) and singing camp songs (lots of potty humor songs!), and I think it was a successful first try. She says she doesn’t want to go to camp again because of the bugs, but I’ve already got some plans simmering for next summer at a camp that has cabins. Yippee!IMGP3420

After Katie returned from camp, we had one week before the new school year started. We filled the last week of summer with visits to the movie theater, pool and even Chuck E Cheese.

I got to second shoot with my friend Michael and photograph a wedding in there too, which made for some days of exhaustion (the good kind)!A_

The first day of school arrived…_MDS5393-a

…and we continued our tradition of treats after school, so we could hear about everyone’s first day._MDS5454

The adults also enjoyed some treats – my new favorite drink made with Firefly sweet tea vodka. Yum!_MDS5456a

Jackson recently hit a milestone: Katie taught him to write his name by himself! He likes to practice on our craft table too, where I stuck a sheet of paper with his name on it under the acrylic table protector. He uses a dry erase marker to write, erase, and write again._MDS5481

We have some other things that are starting to drive me a little bonkers this summer: our bathroom shower tile is popping off the wall, and the mess and potential for mold behind the tile has me a little tense. Not to mention the idea of spending money to fix it. Ugh! But in a related thought, the idea of money has me already thinking ahead to Christmas spending. I am starting to ponder how I can plan gifts that are meaningful and inexpensive. Hmmm…

We have all kinds of critters that keep popping up in our backyard. Katie previously blogged about our “pet” squirrel Pancake. I’ve spent a few summer hours watching this crazy squirrel hang out in our trees as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.IMGP3412

And the other day I found a dead mouse and then saw two LIVE ones scurrying around our garden. I’m about to declare a full-scale war on varmints!_MDS5488

I think we had a pretty great summer this year. We did lots of activities (VBS, day camps, vacation, camping, amusement parks), celebrated birthdays, swam at the pool, and made some good memories. How did your summer turn out?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I don’t know what today holds, but I do know this, Lord: You are my light. You are the constant through my days. Even when I run off distracted by life and seem to forget You, You never once forget me. You never neglect me.

Your patience in waiting for my return is astounding. Because the moment I finally realize I’ve run off without You, I turn and sense You’ve been with me all along. You never walked away from me; I am the one who did the walking. And the running. And the forgetting.

You are faithful. Loyal. Dependable. Present.

And so very gracious.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Miracles Turn One

Remember those little miracles I’ve written about here, here and here? It’s a big milestone for them: they have turned one! Here’s Owen:_MDS4980

And my godson, Finn:_MDS4954

Almost every time  I visited this past year, I brought my camera with me to capture their lives. I have quite the portfolio of beautiful babies now! Especially their incredible blue eyes._MDS3251 (2)

Happy birthday, sweet boys!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to School Lunches

It’s that time of year again! We are preparing the back to school routine. Some moms sweat the lunch question every day (What can I pack that my kid will actually eat?!), but I figured out a way to make that question a little less pressing for us. I’ve shared it here before, but it’s worth repeating. Check it out at JC’s Loft today.
{Update: The JC's Loft blog was closed and the link no longer works. If you would like instructions, leave a comment and your email address and I'll be in contact. I'm sorry for any confusion!}


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