Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daddy & Daughter Date Night




{To her the name of father was another name for love.}
- Fanny Fern
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Explorers

There's a construction site nearby, and the lure of trucks and tractors was too much for us to resist! The einsteins are really enjoying photography hikes nowadays, so we grabbed our cameras and headed off to the land of the giant tires.
(It was a weekend, so they were parked)
Hubby and I did really well keeping the kids off the equipment, but it was just too exciting for us, me, so we climbed up in a few.
(I know, right? Don't try this at home, folks)
The kids had so much fun measuring the tires against us parents, and each other.
You would love to see the kids' pics. They are absolutely adorable! I'll have to borrow a few once they decide to download them :)
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Road trippin' Busy Bags!

Summer has officially arrived (yesterday, that is!!), and I have finally completed the kids' new busy bags for the summer road trip we'll be taking later this summer.
I usually use the shower caddies that I stock up on when I find them, but by the end of the trip, they're ripped apart and hanging by a thread, because, well, I have kids, and when we road trip, we road trip. It's not like a going-on-a-10hour-drive-to-Colorado thing. It's like a going-on-a-ten-DAY-driving-trip type thing. Oh yes.
It's our thing.
We road tripped pre-einsteins,
We road tripped with newborns,
We road tripped with family,
We road trip.
And this year's will be no different.
Except I found a better bag.
Check it out!
 I've been lusting after these since I saw them last year before school started. I waited until they went on sale after school ended, but they were still like $9, (I'm uber-cheap - don't judge! LOL!), so when i found them for $4 each on clearance, I went for it.
(and they had the einsteins' fav colors, no less!)
 They come with hooks for the wall for your stationary desk area, but I tossed them in the junk drawer and pulled out some carabiners to put on the rings instead.

And then I unloaded my busybag stash from the closet...
 Evan has his stuffs -
 ...and Em has hers. They have a few different items because a friend picked up a few things for them, but I try to keep them the same so that there's no arguing over someone getting something beeeeeeeee-terrrrrrrr.
 They would hang just fine on the headrests of the driver/passenger seats, but the carabiners allow me to take them off and on quickly so they can go into hotel rooms with us and trash/reorganize before the morning road.
The hooks work GREAT for hanging their electronics bags (their DS-es and ipods are inside) and their cameras.
 Em is our trip historian. She journals and scrapbooks our adventures in notebooks. This time we've added THIS PORTABLE PRINTER to our van for her to print photos as we drive, so she can scrapbook on the road. You can buy a battery pack for it, but our van has wall plugs, so we'll just plug it on in, and print away! It reads your memory cards!

A few other things we've stowed away...
Cash register paper! A whole box for $4?!?! Yes, please! We make driving time lines, driving Richter scales, and more with this paper!
A travel truth or dare game. Got this in the dollar bin at WM, which, by the way, almost ALL my busy bag items were a dollar or less)
And blue tickets, which are used for our "Good News Stand". They earn tickets along the road for good behavior (and lose them for bad), and when we stop for the night, they can use them to buy little toys I have stashed, or certificates for souvenirs along the way.

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Just the two of us

Yesterday the peanut and I ventured off to the zoo together. Just he and i, and our bag o' snacks and sanitizers. :)
Just the two of us.
It's not often anymore that I get to spend time alone with my sweet boy, and oh how i have missed it! This little boy is a completely different person when he's with me, and no one else. The little manly man becomes my sweet little hand-holding, cuddling while not sure about new things, sweet talking, mommy loving, boy. 
Train ride!
 We stopped off to see baby Maylee, the elephant, but they were late to show, so we wandered on down the path to see the chimps.

 Here we are, with a little added fur.
 No, seriously, I actually had to play momma chimp for the next 30 minutes. It killed me, but it was our day, and everyone deserves to be a baby chimp for a day at the zoo, right?
 We hopped back on the tram for a snack and a look at the map - which my little navigator liked to do probably the mostest while we were there (besides be a baby chimp).
 Our $9 hot dog!
(It was a special day. It was a special day. It was a special day....yeah, STILL hurts)
 The lorikeets were the next stop, and they loved Evan, even without buying the $3 shot glass of nectar! Woot!

 (maybe the lorikeets wanted to play baby chimp-daddy chimp)
Thank you, Evan, for this most precious day. For the slow walks down the paths of a faraway place, holding your little hand in mine. For whispering "Am I choking you?" every few seconds while riding on my back, just to make sure. For saying "Thank You, Mommy" as we hopped the tram. For asking me if I was "so excited" when we came around the bend to see the pink flamingos. For being my little peanut.
I love you.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One fish, Two fish

My sister and brother in law were in town last week for a wedding, and no one was more excited than Em. She had been counting down the days untiil her "Auntie Pickle" arrived.
She got to go fishing with them when they finally arrived, and loved watching Uncle Levi flyfish.

It's times like these that I feel sad that the five of us sibs are so far apart on this earth. We're in Afghanistan, Alaska, Japan, and Oklahoma. Could we BE any more spread out?!?
Move back, everyone!! Move back!!
:)

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Junk in the trunk - per request :)

*If you're visiting from my segment on the Dr. Oz show - welcome! You may have noticed the trunk of "Big Bertha" has changed a bit since this post was written! The needs of my little ones change constantly, and the truck changes with them! But you HAVE found the right place to begin!

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SO, I'm posting this, although I usually hide my OCD tendencies from people because of the relentless teasing. I've been stopped SO many times while loading my groceries by people who ask to take pictures, "pin" it, and/or ask questions, that i figured I had better post this so that I can direct all traffic here and save me the extra 30 minutes of oogling and questions.
I didn't take pictures of all the organization in my momma mini, but I've got the trunk, and I'll answer your most frequently asked questions...



What ARE those hanging things?
- They're actually shower caddy things you hang off your shower head. I got them at the local dollar tree (plus about 10 more, because I use them EVERYwhere!)

WOW. Is your house this organized, too?!
- Not really. There are parts that are, but other parts that more closely resemble HOARDERS instead of Martha Stewart.

Do you do this for hire?
- Ummm, as much as I'd LOVE to organize for a job, no. You hear about the idea that cooks don't cook at home, maids don't clean at home, etc.,  and I'm SO not risking the loss of my organization highs. :)

What to do: Just grab some labels and make spaces for all the things you need during your trips. We are a HUGE road tripping family, so we spend hours and hours and miles and miles in our mini, and these are the things that we need the most often that can easily be stored:

FIRST AID: Band-aids, antiseptic wash (foam version, which my kids love), benadryl spray (Ev is highly allergic to mosquito bites, and we carry this stuff like an epi-pen!). I also have an actual first aid kit in the car as well that has the other medical needs inside.

SUNBLOCK: Sunblock and Bug Spray. I also have extras of both under the seats in another pouch, which also includes the bracelets that repel bugs for impromptu lake trips. NOTE: I have heard that sunblock loses its potency when stored in heat. I have bottles I keep in the house that we use for the pool and grabbing to put in swim bags, but these are kept in my car for emergencies. If I forget to pack my SPF50, it's better that my kids get a less potent was-SPF50-now-SPF30 than nothing at all.

KLEENEX: Pocket Packs. We also have a box in the 2nd row organizer caddy that the kids can reach from their seats. My mini sunblocks and bug sprays have overtaken this pocket as well. :)

RAIN GEAR: Ponchos! There's been SO many times we've gotten somewhere like an OSU game, where an umbrella just doesn't cut it, and have had to stop in at an overpriced stand and buy ponchos. Now we have a half dozen - at least- so they have earned their own pocket.

WET WIPES: Yes. Well, if you can't think of anything that these would be useful for, you obviously have no need to organize your minivan - because you probably drive a two seated boxter or something like that.

SCISSORS & TAPE: Plus pens, pencils, a sharpie for last minute writing-a-name-on-your-kids-towel-because-three-other-kids-also-have-Lightning-McQueen-on-their-towels-too, notecards for who knows what you'll need to take note of, thank you cards for those "Oh crap! It's the LAST tennis lesson?!?! I didn't even get a thank you card!!" moments. (Yes, folks, stick a $5 bill in a sweet thank you and the world is happy).

GERM-X: Absolutely the most refilled pocket in my van, even though we have a large pump in the front seats, too. I'm obsessed, and it has trickled down to the kids. Sigh.

BARF BAGS: None of us get car sick, but Emma has a little friend who absolutely does, and a close call scarred me for life at the thought of throwing up on myself because of the smell of someone else throwing up in the car I'm piloting. SO, last summer during our gazillion trips to the hospitals and chemo rooms, I collected a small stash of barf bags for the car.

ELECTRONICS: Our van is da bomb. It has wall plugs and red/yellow/white input plugs, too. So I store extension cords here, and usually headphone splitters and earbuds for when the wireless headsets are minus batteries. There is also a small flashlight in there, a mini sized box cutter, and an all-in-one screwdriver. (I have batteries stored in one of the front seat consoles and a big spotlight in a side box.)

TRASH BAGS: In here are bags for our two trash cans (one in front and one in the 2nd row organizer). There are also dog poop bags in a roll that I used for dirty diapers, but now use for our porta potty, which stores below the 3rd row seats. There is a roll of scented ones in the sliding door cup holder also, and a folded reusable shopping bag lives in that pocket, too, which comes in handy at the farmers market on Wednesdays.

SILVERWARE: You know you've gone through the drive through and came away with a melting sundae and no spoon. We all have, and it only becomes worse when it accompanies a freaking out child. This started off holding the kids little silverware sets, sorta like these, but with actual reusable silverware, not plastic. Sameish case, though. Now that they're both bigger, it's grown to include plastic ware and chopstick cheaters, for asian restaurants.

ACCESSORIES: Em has long hair, We are ALWAYS in dire need of a hairbrush or hair tie. This brush stays in the van at all times. I also stick any extra pairs of sunglasses I find lying around in that pocket, too. I'm a stickler for keeping eyes protected, since they don't have a lot of good eyesight on their genetic trains down the track...

DRINKS: A couple capri-suns and 2 reusable, flat water bottles hubby brought home from a conference. (He goes to the BEST swagtastic conferences, I tell ya! BEST!). These get thrown at them when they are "sooooooo thristy I could DIE", lying limp in the seat, tounge out. The way I see it, if they don't want a warm capri sun that's been cooking in a 101 degree van all day, they're not that bad off. And the water bottles are great for cheer practice (oops! I forgot to pack your water bottle!!). I have a gallon of drinking water in the trunk as well, just in case.
NOTE: I have heard that some drinks kept in the heat can spoil or have bacteria growth. Luckily, my kids go through these pretty fast, and they usually don't stay in the car for more than a week at a time, but after making a few calls and such, I have found that bottled water does not go bad, even with an expiration date, and capriSun drinks are commonly used in backpacking and hunting trunks because their wrapping makes them pretty resistant to basically everything. My theory was that the warehouse they're stored in or the trucks they are delivered in are hot, nasty, and stale (maybe even more than a minivan!!), and the drinks are never refrigerated then, so I figure it's cool...but use your own theory. :)

SNACKS: Fruit snacks, chip bags, granola bars. Whatever they get post-soccer game for a snack and don't need because we're headed to lunch goes in here for a day when they replace the dying of thirst with the dying of starvation. There's also a large collection of the table toppers stuffed in this pocket, too. Invaluable when stopping at rest areas to eat (especially once you read the carvings on the table tops! *shudder*). Which reminds me, I also have toilet seat covers in the under-back-seat pouch. Also a must-have for rest areas!

BLANK: Right now there's a fruit juice bottle in there, but through the years, many-an-item has found refuge there before moving on. It's a good place to keep your old digital camera so that when you forget yours (or God forbid you get in a collision), you can grab it and document the event.

Hanging on the bottom: 1.Umbrellas - the big golf size. Pink for girls and blue for the boys. :)    2. Our first aid kit  3. a "spare clothes" pouch for each kiddo. This started out as they potty trained, but now more for getting in an impromptu water fight at the park or falling in Gradad's pond while fishing kinda deal. Make sure you add a swimsuit for the summertime, and change out the clothing for the winter!

In the trunk: A collapsible trunk organizer that folds out to two compartments (the BEST swag from conferences!!!). Inside I keep a roll of paper towels, a picnic blanket, gallon of water, and a pouch that holds our jackets for cold restaurants and nights. (I'm ALWAYS cold!). I also have a collapsible rolling tote. This has payed for itself tenfold with the number of times I've had to drag boxes of cupcakes to a school party, library books to the return chute, or day-at-the-lake items to our spot.

There are so many cubbies and spaces in my van to store things, it's always a suprise when I don't have something we need, but it happens! I just jot it down on my list and add it when I get home. I also don't use the third row much, so I leave the seats reclined as far back as they go, that way if something terrible happened at high speeds, the contents in the trunk don't fly around the cabin space. They are confined to the trunk.

Any FAQ's I forgot? Ask away, my friend!

Some similar items:

     


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Pool, Pond, PLAYDATE!

So, yesterday, we headed to Evan's friend's house for a playdate in her new house! Her mom, another FAB play-at-home mom, told us to bring washable markers so we could tatt up the kiddos pre-splash. And boy, did we ever :)
Evan Potter...
 Ethan, P.I.
 ...and the rest of the colorful gang.
 The girls were totally into drawing fabulous casts, rainbows, make-up, and nerd glasses on each other...
 ...while the boys were just happy checking the filters for critters.
(and their hunt went well. One bloated frog and a handful of {gasp!} june bugs!!)
Then it was off to the pool to wash it all off in a colorful splash! 
 There was a quick snack of pretzel sticks before our next adventure...
 ...which was heading down to the pond to catch a frog or two.


 Unfortunately, the frogs evaded us, including the big ol' bullfrog, but we managed to collect baseballs, tennis balls, a football, the bottom half of a turtle shell, and an attempt to grab a frog but really was a water snake.
SO, the bys headed back to drive the gator while the girls hit the bubbly hot tub and we put things away because the thunder had arrived and was warning us of the impending downfall, which started as soon as we started to drive home.
Thanks for the GREAT morning, W family! We had a BLAST and we love your new home!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ice Cream Truck!!

You remember our summer checklist, right? (And YES, I KNOW I put "Water balloon fight on there twice!)
Well, we got to check off another box yesterday when we caught the ice cream truck outside our house!
 Emma grabbed a Powerpuff girl and Evan got a tounge splasher, which splashes not only your tounge with a stain of color, just as a warning...


 ...and a little Joker action, for all you batman fans out there....
 In the morning, a friend and I headed out to the lake with our kiddos for a little fun in the sand and water.



People in the stores and such are always suprised when they ask me if I am happy school's out and I enthusiastically answer "YES!". I absolutely, positively, LOVE having my kids home with me all summer!! One day soon they'll be spending these lazy days in the sun elsewhere, and hubby & I'll just have to read these entries, reminiscing of the days when we were small and trips to the lake were simple and fun and days were fun filled and sweet.


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