Sunday, July 24, 2016

Six Ways to Make Roadtrips with Kids Easier

Our Toronto Airbnb. 

I returned this week from a trek with G & E to Wisconsin for a family reunion - a mere 19 hours driving from our home here in New Hampshire--by myself.  

I had dreaded this drive for quite some time, preparing myself and the kiddos by building up to five hours' driving in preparation.  Thanks to my sister's advice (the one with the nine kids!), I was able to survive the trek and even enjoy many hours of the ride there and back.  Here's what helped:

1)  Download audio books for you (the driver).  My kids' require multi-sensory stimulation in the car, and thus the CD player is always monopolized, even while sleeping (more on this later). Thus my MP3 books became a lifesaver.  Plug my phone into the car charger, and the phone into me, and I was set and enjoyed much of the drive time, especially that while they were sleeping :-).

2) Coordinate nap times.  Training babes to sleep and at the right times starts long before you get in the car, but coordinating nap times while traveling is crucial to allowing kids to get sufficient naps and keep the cycle going.  I learned (the hard way) that getting them to sleep while traveling is helped by the following:

a) Fill them up with lots of carbs and turkey and any other sleep-inducing (legal and safe!) substances before hand  - this does not include a lot of sugar...
b) Fill up the car with gas *before* nap time starts
c) An hour-long CD of harp music works wonders to get-and keep - your babes to sleep
d) Rub the feet of your babes directly behind you to help sooth to sleep
e) Warm up the car just a bit
f) Have handy all of their normal sleep aids - for my kids, that involves their blankets.
g) Follow the same nap schedule you do at home
h) Don't watch a movie immediately before nap time, unless that is what normally puts your kids to sleep.
i) When all else fails, bribe them.  G knew he got a treat after he woke up from naps - worked like a charm.

 3) Pack the right loot.  My sister loaned me the "right" stuff on the way back, and it made a lot of difference.  She packs a bag of car projects for each child to work on.  Toddlers are the hardest -  they should have kaleidoscopes, small digital toys, the etch-a-sketch pictured below, coloring books, magnet pictures (also pictured below), sticker books, and mechanical toys.  Gideon (3) did well with the rotating viewer (pictured below - what are these called?), the etch-a-sketch, the magnet toys, sticker books, cars, and his favorite book from the library.  My kids don't get a bag - they get one thing at a time.  These projects worked for 1-2 hours.  Awesome.

4) Get Organized. My consul and passenger seat had everything I needed within range - food (in the wicker basket), sunglasses, water for me, milk for G, my purse for tolls and such, and the project basket.  Hard containers I think make all the difference for car travel.  Should have had a hard container for garbage, which I kept directly behind my consul in-between the kids.  I would clean and reorganize after naps so the cycle could start again (see next item).

5) It's all about the schedule. I've learned that, with naps, if you can do four hours of travel, you can do 10.  Start with 1-2 hours of projects, then a movie, then lunch, then naps.  Then repeat for traveling into the night (which I prefer to do at least for a couple of hours after their 7 or 8 bedtime).

6) Drinks.  Do NOT let your kids have whatever drinks they want.  I made this mistake on the trek out and paid for it in spades, having to stop every two hours for G to go potty and went through at least one outfit for him each day and bloomers for E.  I got E off the bottle before coming home so she could sleep without it and let G have just enough liquid to keep him hydrated.  My sister freezes little water bottles for each of her kids - they can only drink as it melts.  Genius.  This made all the difference in the frequency of my stops, and by the last day, we had it down, stopping only every three hours for potty and gas/dinner.

What do you do to make traveling with kids smooth-sailing?  Super curious!

Small Wonders:

* The babe inside is moving - felt it for the first time on the 15th, and now all the time.  Love it.
* E has started saying phrases consistently, including "Your welcome," "I sorry," "I pooped" (sorry - but the tense is impressive!), "give me" "Up the stairs/Down the stairs" "I wuv you!" "All done mama," "I see you," "like this (standing in her low high chair to point to Cheerios in a bowl with milk, rather than dry as I had given it to her)" and the like.
* E will make the kissing suck sound with her tongue, resulting in very wet kisses
* We started swimming lessons at the town pond, and both are loving it.  G swam about 200 feet with just a noodle underneath him yesterday! and E has absolutely no fear, running into the water and going up to her chin, attempting to swim whenever I let her.  
* G sang "You are so beautiful" to me after watching Little Rascals the other day.
* When I wear something G likes, he will say "I love your dress" or "cool shirt!"
* G is ever mindful of how I'm doing while biking them around.  "Don't let us fall!" "Good job!" and after arriving home the other day, "Thanks for driving us!"
* Overheard by G - "French fries and chicken nuggets will make me feel better!" "Wahoo - we are on our way!"

Palmyra was on our way, so we had to stop!

Loved reading about how we got the Book of Mormon last night and G connecting the Hill Cumorah to the place we visited.

The Hill Cumorah pageant was on, but we couldn't stay that late!

Lake Michigan, Cleveland side

Bookworm gardens - the magic school bus was a hit! 

Helping Horton hatch his egg

Cleaning Harry, the Dirty Dog

Curious George and the Pizza garden, sponsored by my sis!

Grandma time.

Reading with grandma


When asked what her favorite part of the trip was by Lance, E said "Anje!"

couples yoga by the nephews.

burying cousins in the sand

kid yoga

morning breaks on our last morning in Wisconsin

We took the ferry across Lake Michigan

And stopped in Toronto on the way home

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Dad wanted to pick blueberries our first morning home

second cousins came to visit!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The New England Dump: A Tightly Held Tradition

It wasn't till after we moved into our home here in the quiet New England town of Hopkinton, New Hampshire that we discovered there was no trash service.  Dismayed and shocked, I learned we would have to manage disposing of our family of four's refuse, including the diapers of two babes.

The learning curve was steep.  Before getting rid of the enormous amounts of trash a trans-Atlantic move produces, we had to purchase a permit to visit the "transfer station" aka town dump and buy the right trash bags at the local grocery store (the way it is paid for), not to mention figuring out and buying interim trash receptacles for garbage and the many different types of recycling facilitated at the dump.  I had to learn what was recyclable and how (you need to wash everything before it's added to various recycling piles) and learn to pack the car so that I got to various trash items in order.

Each different section is for different types of recyclables - eleven different types all told within the dump, plus sub-types.
Then there is the incinerator at the end.

I was doubly shocked to learn that the town dump was a closely held New England tradition, and the place where many candidates campaigned (it acting as a town forum).

But now I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love being required to pay attention to what I am throwing away, knowing I or my husband will have to heft it into the car, then into the incinerator at the dump. I carefully think through what can be recycled and how.  Each week, it is rather fulfilling to be able to put all trash in its appropriate spot and start again with an empty slate - or can.  (Rather symbolic from a religious perspective, but that's a topic for another time...)

Beyond all this trash-talk, people will leave things in various areas of the dump they would otherwise take to a charity shop.  Used toys, games, ribbons, ski equipment, gardening equipment, and clothes are left by the incinerator.  Used and unsold furniture (from shops) is left by the wood section. Then in the paper recycling section, people will set aside books and egg cartons for those raising chickens.  In the metal section, there is camping equipment and one time an iron folding blue bed I loved and brought home, currently installed in our upstairs guest room.  There is so much stuff that town volunteers, along with dump employees, have put together a separate "swap shop" trailer so that the used items otherwise thrown away at the end of each day are organized by wonderful volunteers and made available to those who might like them.

the wood section, where chairs and tables are pulled to the side by our thoughtful dump ladies.

Bric-a-brac left by the incinerator.  Today there was an easter basket, crucifix, picture, cookbook, toaster oven, and heater.

our town "swap shop," where everything is free!
Besides all of the goodies available at the "Hopkinton Mall," the best part of the dump are the women who run it.  These ladies are tough, operating all of the dump's heavy machinery, but also thoughtful.  The organization and careful placement of items (pulling it out of a pile) is done by our wonderful dump ladies, who will keep a list of wanted items by town members, who they then call and let them know they have found what they were looking for.  After accidentally throwing away Gideon's wooden carved trains he got for Christmas, I left a desperate message before the dump opened the next day.  I thought it was a lost cause, but when I returned after being gone for a while and checked in with dump management, much to my surprise, I found the trains.  These women had dumpster dived for my son's benefit, and I will always love them for it.  I know I'm not the only one who has benefited from their kindness (and grit!).

I don't know why, but I'm always so impressed with all the machines these ladies drive and handle as pros!

Magazines, books, and egg cartons left for people to browse.  I've gotten great antique classics this way.
Small Wonders


I made a little IG and FB announcement this week - can you guess what it is from this pic?

I was told we won something in the parade, but don't know what!

Made by yours truly.  Love me some strawberry rhubarb goodness.

Although this picture would make you think it, keeping two toddlers up way past their bedtime to see fireworks = definitely not worth it!

G &E go their own copies of the Book of Mormon in nursery last Sunday.  They were THRILLED. One morning, G insisted on turning every page of his Book of Mormon before he ate his breakfast. (BTW, that's a "what does the fox say T-shirt")

One of our favorite farms, Carter Hill Orchards, with its amazing communal playground and toys.

Circumnavigated the playground then parked all 8 of them...

town pond.

Picking clover for Chloe, who is becoming a very picky bunny!

Turns out G isn't the only puzzler!