Traveling With Small Children: Road Trip Edition

We don’t live near any of our family members (and none of them live near each other), so needless to say we do a fair amount of traveling.  We’ve learned that as enticing as the speed of flight is, it’s best to drive when we can so you can load up your car, and not worry about schedules.

Photo Via Every Mom Needs

Toddler and Baby Travel Tips

1: Don’t do it!  Just kidding.  Sort of.

2: Break your media rules.  We don’t let our kids have any screen time during the week, and limit their screen time on the weekends.  We also don’t let them use screens as distractions at restaurants and on vacations because we are gluttons for punishment.  During travel time, though, they can watch ALL THE MOVIES.  I don’t care if my daughter watches Frozen four times in a row if it gets us to our destination in peace.

3: Snacks.  Pack a million healthy snacks.  If you don’t you’ll have to grab whatever you can get at gas stations along the way, and will end up with upset tummies or sugar crazed monsters.  There’s something to be said for snacks keeping kids occupied in the car.  My son will sit through anything if you offer him some cheerios.  Bonus points for pre-packaging homemade trail mixes.  My daughter likes to hunt through her bag to pick out the good stuff.

4: Blankets.  More than you think you’ll need.  In the winter it might be chilly, in the summer they double as sun shades.  You can roll them up to prop up sleepy little heads, and use them as towels in a pinch.

5:  Fun books.  Seek and find books are great for older kids, and interactive books like “Pat the Bunny” are great for older babies and young toddlers.  Plus, you have them strapped down so even the wiggliest kid has to sit and listen.  Sticker books are also great.

6: Be flexible, and stop a LOT.  We have one potty trained kid and one in diapers so stopping frequently is a given.  It took me a long time to stop worrying about schedules, and just stay calm and remember we’ll get there when we get there.

7: But do plan a little.  Drive during sleepy times.  If you can drive over nap time or leave around bedtime things will be much more pleasant (if you’re lucky enough to have car sleepers).  We also try to find a Chick-Fil-A to hit up around lunch or dinner so the kids can play for a half hour or so before we get back on the road.  It works wonders!

8: Pack a couple changes of clothes for your kids.  There will be a blowout, or someone will barf, or a kid will spill their entire drink all over themselves.  Maybe all three will happen.  Be prepared, and by prepared I mean bring these plastic bags.  You NEED them.  I promise.  They contain and mask the smell of even the grossest incidents until you reach your destination.

9: Sit in the back seat if you fit.  My kids are still really little, and things go much more smoothly if I ride in the back for part of the trip.  It’s not the most comfortable, but neither is listening to an 11 month old cry for an hour.

10: Be organized.  Have separate bags for everything.  A fully stocked diaper bag.  A bag for snacks.  A bag for toys.  If you’re getting in late make sure your suitcase is accessible so you can just grab it and run inside.

Bonus tip for nursing moms:  Get a car adapter for your pump and use it during the drive.  Kills time, and you’ll have bottles ready to go on your trip!

The Easiest Chicken Pasta

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I really really like to cook.  I love making big fancy meals, and making sure the food we eat is healthy and delicious.  Unfortunately I don’t really have time for any of that these days.  We’ve been eating a lot of grilled cheese (surprisingly time consuming!) and takeout.  I do have a few simple and delicious recipes though, and here is my favorite:

Super easy chicken pasta:

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1 package whole wheat penne

1 package baby spinach or spinach/kale mix

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tablespoon dill

3 green onions

1 package traditional crumbled feta (lowfat is fine too)

2 cooked chicken breasts, or leftover rotisserie chicken, shredded

Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)…you want enough to make it feel saucy, not so much that it’s gross.  It’s best to add it after the lemon so you get a better feel for the amount of liquid you need.

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Boil the pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta cooks combine all other ingredients (except the spinach) in a mixing bowl.  In the last minute of boiling add the spinach to the water to wilt, then drain the pasta.  Return the pasta to the pan, and mix the prepared “sauce” into the pasta.  Serve warm or chilled.

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It’s really simple and delicious.  I usually take this to my friends when they have a new baby because it’s light and nutritious (don’t worry, I supply cookies as well), feeds two adults (or even two adults and a young child or two) for two meals, and it reheats well or tastes good cold if you don’t have time to do anything but stand in front of the refrigerator and shove things into your mouth in-between newborn nursing sessions.

Boobin’ and Boozin’

wine serving

Responsible drinking is totally ok while breastfeeding.  You shouldn’t be going on spring break style ragers while taking care of any baby, regardless of what it’s eating, so definitely keep that in mind (obviously), but a serving of the good stuff here and there is fine.  You’re a mom, you’re not dead.  A 12 ounce serving of beer is pretty easily identifiable if you stick with bottles and cans (although watch the alcohol content your craft beers…I’ve made that mistake before), a serving of hard liquor is 1.5 ounces and that’s why we have shot glasses, but what about wine?  Odds are you’ve already picked up the wine cube I told you to get because you do everything I tell you to do.  I’m also going to assume that even if you’re nursing you have a baby bottle lying around somewhere.  Use it to measure out your five ounces.  You’re welcome.  I mean, you probably have a measuring cup in your kitchen too, but I don’t know maybe it’s dirty or something.  I’m just trying to help.  Also, you might be pleasantly surprised like I was.  I was under-pouring!  Think of all the wine I’ve missed out on!  Never again!

Emergency Cookies

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Hi!  How’s your Monday going?  You know, the first Monday after we lost an hour of sleep and you had to drag your ass out of your bed at what felt like an ungodly hour but was really the regular time you get up and it’s raining.  That Monday.  I assume you’re in a pretty bad mood.  I know I am.  But fear not, dear reader!  I have a gift for you.  The perfect “My kids were really bad today and my boss is a huge dick and I need a cookie” gift.  These are magic.  This recipe is all over the internet, but often people try to perk it up — adding different ingredients to make it fancier, but that is unnecessary because they’re super rich and delicious on their own.  It also defeats the point.  These are meant to be quick and easy and made with ingredients you probably have on hand.  Ok, I’ll shut up now.  You’re probably not in the mood to be reading all these words today.

Emergency Cookies:

ingredients

1 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter you have on hand, crunch or smooth but I like smooth)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 bag chocolate chips

Put those things in a bowl, stir them together, roll them into balls (and smash them a little) and bake them at 350 degrees until the edges start to brown.  The end.  You’re welcome.

One tip: These don’t spread, so you can put them all on one cookie sheet.

I hope these improve your Monday!  Have a good week!

Stuff New Parents Need

There are countless lists on countless blogs (including this one) detailing every little thing your baby will need.  Items you simply MUST put on your registry.  That’s great, because if you’ve never had a baby you’re likely pretty clueless about baby gear.  The thing is, though, if you’re clueless about what babies need, you’re probably even more clueless as to what havoc they will bring to your life.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, everyone starts out this way.  I’ve compiled a list of things that make a parent’s life easier.  If you’re gifting a new parent please please please stick to the registry (people really need the stuff on that list!), but if you want to make your gift extra special maybe add in an item or two below.  And bring food.  Food is always a good idea.


parent gear


“Waterproof” Mattress Pad:  Having a baby comes with a lot of bodily fluids.  Your water could break in the middle of the night.  There’s a good chance you will have all of the following on your bed in the first few weeks of having a baby (sorry in advance for this super gross list): blood, milk, pee, and vomit.  Even if your baby doesn’t sleep in bed with you, somehow it will happen.  It just will.  Protect thy mattress.

Oxi Clean Spray and Powder: When the above happens to your sheets (and your clothes, and your baby’s clothes), these are what you will need.     A good soak in hot water and Oxi Clean is the only thing I’ve found that will get out a poop blowout, and (murderers, look away!) the Oxi Spray is a miracle on blood!  It will also take out berry and spaghetti stains when your kid hits the “smear berries and spaghetti sauce all over my body” phase of eating solids.  I’ve also used Oxi spray on red wine spilled on a white rug, and the stain disappeared before my eyes.  Magic.

Tide To Go Pen:  Keep one in your diaper bag at all times.

Keurig Mini: I don’t have one of these.  I had a traditional coffee maker when my kids were born (that I broke), and then I got a French press.  I love that shiny little baby, but honestly I don’t really have six minutes to fuss over my morning coffee.  I’m thinking about adding this baby to my rotation.  The coffee might not be as good, but the caffeine is.

Travel Mug: So you don’t spill hot coffee or tea on your sweet little baby/so your sweet little toddler doesn’t spill it on you.

Wine Sippy Cup: For the same reasons as above.  It’s probably not good parenting to spill wine on your baby’s face.

Wine Cube: Like the Keurig vs French Press we have a quality over convenience issue.  Really, if you’re nursing a box of wine is the way to go.  You can have just one glass (related tip coming up next week), and the wine stays fresh much longer than it would in an open bottle.

Baskets:  Baskets, baskets, baskets.  I could write a whole book of sonnets on my love of baskets (seriously, I took some pretty intensive poetry classes in college…English major, yo!).  Maybe you’re the type of person who is super organized and puts every little thing in it’s perfectly prepared place right after you use it.  I’m not one of these people.  I’m, honestly, pretty messy, and keeping things tidy with small kids is nearly impossible.  My solution is baskets.  I have baskets for toys, baskets for mail, baskets for laundry, and makeup, and toothpaste, and remote controls.  They’re genius.  They’re fake organization!  I can pick up a whole room in a matter of seconds because I just throw everything in the appropriate(ish) basket.  Things look tidy, but with minimal effort.  My kind of housework!

There you have it!  Feel free to contribute anything that helped you in your time of need in the comment section!

Chia: A Funny Story and a Yummy Breakfast

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*One time when I was in the sixth grade we had to watch a video on becoming a woman.  I’m sure you did the same.  There was one girl, Lizzie, who took it upon herself to sing “ch-ch-ch-chia!” as the animated woman grew pubes.  It was hilarious, and now that I’m an adult, I’m in awe of the comedic genius that was that 11 year old girl.  Bravo, Lizzie, wherever you are.*

chia 2

Ok, so breakfast isn’t the most interesting topic, but hey, we all gotta eat.  Back in the days of my youth (and during the first go around of this blog), I was super into health and fitness.  I worked out all the time, I was the insufferable health nut at the office that said things like “uh, I don’t eat sugar” and “you should totally take the stairs ” (sorry coworkers).  Two back-to-back babies later, and I never (ever) work out, and since my younger kid was born last April my diet mostly consists of sugar + whatever healthy thing my kids eat for dinner + a glass of wine after bedtime.  In the interest of being an adult, however, I’ve decided to ditch the daily doughnut and instead eat a nutritious breakfast (and replace the wine with tea, most nights).  I’m not going for a total overhaul of my diet, but instead trying to put in more nutrients and take out the sugar gradually so I don’t even notice it’s gone (ha).

My current healthy fave is chia pudding.  I’m totally tardy to the party on this.  I always thought it sounded gross and assumed it was a lot of work.  It’s neither of those things!  You guys!  It’s so good and so easy!  All you have to do is mix 12 ounces of liquid with 1/4 cup chia seeds and put it in the refrigerator.  I do it at night, and in the morning I have delicious breakfast pudding.  Also, if you call something pudding it makes it sound like dessert!

My recipe (if you can call two ingredients a recipe):

12 ounces coconut milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

Put it in a bowl, and put that bowl in the refrigerator.

Add topping of your choice.

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What are my toppings of choice?  I’m glad you asked!

Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry/Almond

Banana/Peanut/Honey/Cinnamon

Blackberry/Peach/Almond

And my 100% All Time Favorite

Mango/Black Cherry/Pecan/Dark Chocolate Chips

I’m definitely going to keep experimenting.  I want to try to make a chocolate version because, yum.  I also plan to give chia jelly a go.  I’ll keep you posted.

You guys. I’m bored.

i'm so bored

I love Instagram.  Pinterest is ok.  I spend a lot of time perusing the web and social media in general, and one of my most favorite things is interior design, so you would think I would live for feasting on the eye candy that is the internet.  I’m not into it lately, though.  I’m just so bored.  I feel like I’m looking at the same picture over and over and over.  It’s not just interior design — I’m also giving pretty serious side-eye to the “from where I stand” skinny jeans/long sweater/Starbucks/bangle shot, and the “but first coffee” fancy latte/sunglasses/fancy planner/magazine shot, and peonies…I love a good peony, but come on…there are other flowers (Related: are tulips the new peony?  Do you care?)!  I’m fine with the style and coffee pics though because, while boring, they’re pretty and they’re not intended for the long-term, and Lord knows after two back to back babies I could really use some wardrobe inspiration.  Pretty pictures are a nice break from the news.  It’s just that I’m currently working my way through decorating my house, and I don’t want it to look like everyone else’s house, and if I’m going to put that level of time and money into a project, I don’t want it to read as dated immediately.  So, I’m currently working on breaking free of boring interior design trends.  You won’t see marble in my kitchen (especially since marble is way too porous for kitchens, in my opinion), and you definitely won’t see all white anything.  I guess I’ll go ahead and admit I’m still loving gold.  Let’s not ruin it though, ok?

Some inspiration for your weekend:

How about some color?

Why not paint your kitchen pink?  The rug is a bit much, though.

My personal favorite wall color!

Hopefully you’ll be seeing something similar to this in my dining room soon!

Have a good one!  See you Monday!