Rainy Day Fun

Today’s rain/snow coming down means “inside” fun for the girls and I. I hate to take them out in the cold if I don’t need to, just because of the increased risk of sickness. As every mom knows, if one kid is down for the count, the other child{ren} inevitably get sick as well. With our upcoming week, we can’t afford sickness. So, indoors it is!

I’m always looking for new ideas and fun for my toddler.

I wanted to share our current top five:

1. Coloring – Brooklyn loves sitting down with a coloring book and crayons in hand. I haven’t attempted paints yet, but those are next!

2. Books – our girls love their books. {Want Chicka Chicka Boom Boom read? I can recite it to you right now}. Growing up as a book worm myself, I’m so excited that they are following in my footsteps!

3. Puzzles – this is a great learning tool and she has a ton of fun, too! We have quite a few Melissa and Doug puzzles that are great quality and hold up against a teething 8 month old.

4. Make believe: my toddler excels in the area of imagination. She has dancing animals, blocks that magically transform into trains, and tupperware that make pancakes, oatmeal, and birthday cakes. {I’m always the taste-tester and I tell you, she’s a cooking genius!}

5. Children videos – we are a VeggieTales and Praise Baby loving family. Adam and I are pretty strict about what our girls can watch, but these are great Bible teaching videos that we really enjoy.

What are some of your favorite indoor activities for toddlers?

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Preparing for a Trip {with kids}

My husband and I have been planning our post-Christmas vacation for a while now. We settled on the destination (Okinawa, Japan) and have begun the preparation on the huge undertaking of traveling with two young girls.

I wanted to share a few tips on how we prepare for our trip.

I’m a very organized and detail-oriented person by nature, but from past personal experience, I know I need to bump that to almost straight-up OCD when it comes to packing and preparing for our trip. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on traveling, but I think my 40,000+ miles of overseas flying with my child(ren) over the past two years counts for something.

1. Make a List: I understand we are in the twenty-first century with all this wonderful technology of excel spreadsheets, iPhone notes linking directly to the Macs, and the like, but I still thrive off of hand written lists. There’s just something about being able to cross things off or add forgotten things in the margins. My husband finds me crazy, but whatever. It works for me.

Our goal: to pack all our things in two suitcases and one diaper bag for the four of us on our 10 day vacation.

I created three lists. One for myself and the girls’ things, one for the diaper bag, and the other for miscellaneous stuff. I let my husband take care of and pack his own things.

2. Set things out. I begin doing this about 2-3 days prior to our trip. There’s nothing worse than realizing at midnight before your big travel day that you forgot to purchase extra diapers or something of high necessity. By setting everything out, you can take inventory and insure you have everything you will need.

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Pictured here are all the things I placed in our diaper bag. Yes, every one of these things fits in my awesome bag. I highly recommend the Ju Ju Be Be Prepared diaper bag. (I don’t think they carry the Pretty Tweet print anymore for this bag, though.)

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I placed everything we will need for our travel days in here. Obviously, the diapers pictured and baby food will not be enough for the entire trip. I placed the other things in the luggage or we will purchase when we get to our destination. 

3. Pack. Adam and I purchased these handy little organizers for our backpacking trip to Europe we took three years ago. They have by far surpassed their value and worth to us. I was able to put all of my things and the girls’ things in one suitcase. Adam packed his stuff in the other suitcase, with room for purchases we make on our trip.

A couple other things we are taking along:

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Kidco PeaPod Lite
For Scarlett to nap in while we’re on the beach or in case the hotel doesn’t have a crib available.

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Books, DVD’s, flashcards, and other fun activities for our two-year-old to do while traveling.

4. Check and double check. Sometimes things get checked off the list prematurely, and never actually get in the suitcase. This can happen especially if two people are packing and one thinks the other person grabbed it when in fact that didn’t happen. I always check and double check the important things, {passports, military ID’s, drivers license, diapers, etc} before we walk out the door. It would be a shame to travel all the way to the airport only to realize they were left at home.

5. Test Run.  When I fly with both girls by myself, I have to make sure I am physically able to carry and push everything from our house, to the bus, through the airport and security checks, onto the airplane, from baggage claim, to the taxi, and finally arrive at the hotel. I literally set everything by the door, the stroller out and ready for use, with the luggage nearby. I walk around pushing the kids in the stroller and pulling the luggage, just to make sure I’m capable. I think you would be surprised at how much you can travel with.

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There you have it. Double stroller, two suitcases, and diaper bag.

Happy travels!

Wanting Off the List

One of my favorite things to do since living here in Japan is walking to the post office and receiving mail. As sad as it may sound to you friends who live in the States and have unlimited amounts of fun activities to do each day, it’s true.

It’s a fun mother-daughter date, that we probably get all too excited about. I mean, getting a card in the mail from a loved one? It’s a great day. A package? Even better. My heart rate is increasing just thinking about opening up that little metal door to see the desired yellow slip of paper with my name on it, representing a package of something wonderful that was sent to us. Gifts, purchased items, heck — I even get excited about surveys and insurance envelopes!

Unfortunately, lately we have been receiving un-welcomed things in our box. They come in the form of a catalog. These annoying “books”, addressed to me {but might as well have had Brooklyn’s name written in big, bold print on the front}, have pictured in them lovely dolls, or toys, or clothes that my 2-year-old is inevitably drawn to and immediately desires.

Yes, I’m talking to you Land of Nod. And American Girl. And Pottery Barn Kids.

Apparently these companies have our names on a list entitled, “Has young child, perfect prey” and sends them to us at timely intervals. Just when I was able to hide the last one after hours of being looked at, the next one arrives.

I’m sure it’s partly my fault. I buy one backpack from Pottery Barn kids, and will now forever be haunted with my purchase by my child picking out ten more things from their catalog that costs ten times what I want to pay.

Good job, children’s companies, on your marketing ploys. They are in full effect and working perfectly for you. But, as a concerned parent for my daughter who is picking out all these wonderful things that she will never be getting, maybe you could take our name off that list and put it on the “tortured long enough, take one year sabbatical before continuing.”

I’d really appreciate it.