Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Few Things for Your Travels

Here's a bunch more things I found to share! This goes along with the last post about road trips but there's plenty you might want to check out whether you have travel plans or not.

Spotify! (referral link) If you don't all ready use this awesome application you should try it. There is a great selection of music. You can get a free 30 day trial of premium so you can listen to music without ads and offline. Who doesn't love listening to "What Does the Fox Say?" 30 times on a road trip?! (my goobers certainly will)? *

#2 The modern version of books on tape. Click the link to make your way to a free download! You just need an amazon account. There's a free 30 day trial and one free book each month. *

We <3 Ramsey. His advice has saved our poor, greedy butts lots of times. We hope to be debt free by continuing to follow his methods. There are even some MP3s oriented towards kids like "Battle of the Chores" and "A Special Thank You" recommended for ages 3-10.  These are regularly $10-20.

From iTunes for the Kiddos:
Baby Animals (free)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's that time of year . . . road trips!

     Hours-long car rides, road trips, and cross-country flights! Hooray! Ha. There's a good chance you may be driving a little ways for a holiday gathering very soon. I know we are and even though it's not our first trip I always have something new to figure out. There's always something I almost forget. There's plenty of things that I do forget.

Maybe you've visited this blog before and know I've posted about this before!

One way or another here are some of my tips for road trips:

Road Trips Ain't For Babies: The Basics - Part 1

Road Trips Ain't For Babies: The Basics - Part 2

If you don't want to read through all that here are my top quick tips and recommendations for making things go a little bit smoother:

  • Clean out your car beforehand. A quick clutter-pick-up or a deep cleaning. It feels better to be in a nice clean vehicle on a long drive.
  • Triple check your car seat installation!!!
  • Make a packing list. Double check it as you pack. As you put things in the car, mark it off. Go over it one more time right before locking up and leaving.
  • Keep a fresh copy of your list to make it easier to re-pack when you head home!
  • Use disposable diapers for any liquid spills. They rarely leave even the slightest damp spot if you get to it quickly. Cheap cloth diapers work great too.
  • Always have a spare towel or some old rags in the car. 
  • However many diapers, pull ups or changes of clothes you might need bring at least double. I personally keep a few diapers or pull ups and/or one change of clothes for each kid in the diaper bag and another bunch of diapers, pulls ups, and clothes in a fabric bin. Don't forget socks. 
  • Bring a change of clothes FOR YOU. If you don't want to fill up the front of the car just put an easy outfit in the top of your suitcase, duffel bag, or an extra bag with some spare room.
  • Every day things like toiletries, sunglasses, or your cell phone may slip your mind. Add them to your list or keep extras in the car.
  • Create a "misc bin" for those things you'll need for accidents or that might be easy to forget.*
  • Try to enjoy the ride or flight. Sing, read, talk, be quiet, play games. It will be over soon.

  • If you are short on space one (or more) of these back seat organizers are relatively cheap and sturdy. They are out of the way but they can hold a lot of little things like phone chargers, tissues, snacks, emergency flashlight or umbrella, bandaids and neosporin, hand sanitizer or baby wipes, card games, notepad and pens, sippy cups or bottles, small toys, a list of phone numbers, or maybe spare change.

  • The girls each have their own suitcasesbackpacks (err "pack pack", as they say), and tote bags. This makes it easy to pack for them and to distinguish their things. It has also made it simpler to save space in the diaper bag (or one day again my normal people purse) for necessities.

  • I love these fabric bins for car-trip toys, a snack box, and for those spare changes of clothes and extra diapers and my "misc bin". They are flexible yet sturdy. They fold up flat when they are empty too!

  • This thing right here (the fisher price rock n play sleeper) is going to be my savior on space this trip. (And right this moment it's on sale!) It's lighter and smaller than the pack n play (but still sturdy). It folds flat so it will fit easily in the trunk of a sedan or anywhere in a van. I don't have to bring TWO pack n plays and it's much easier to move from room to room wherever you're going as well. We will still have a traditional pack n play for Sweet Pea. Bitty Bug now sleeps on this comfy little cot. This also folds up small but kind of like a camping chair though a good bit smaller.

  • *Here's what we put in our "misc bin" or in a safe place for just-in-case along with a tool box: 
  • paper towels (either a full roll or 10+ sheets)
  • toilet paper (the tiny roll in the camping aisle)
  • travel-size baby wipes
  • a trash bag
  • several plastic bags (like target or walmart)
  • a few ziplocs
  • multi-tool
  • fix-a-flat
  • tape (packing tape or duck tape)
  • flashlight
  • jumper cables
  • ice scraper
  • umbrella
  • a piece of cardboard and/or a towel (for getting out of mud or ice)
  •   And a final but very important note, don't forget that there is a good chance any after-market products for your kid's car seats, whether it's a cover, a toy, or another accessory, will likely void the warranty! Safety-wise it seems there are only anecdotes but most car seat manuals specify that any extra add-ons that aren't specifically manufactured or sold by the manufacturer of the seat may not only pose a safety risk but will deem your car seat non-replaceable in the event of any accident or recall. Check the manual! If it's not still attached to the seat itself you can probably find it online easily.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Merry Thanksgiving

     That's what you say when you become one of those people. Yup. MERRY THANKSGIVING! We put our tree up all ready this year. We had replaced our scantily clad 6.5 foot artificial tree with a glorious, less-shiny-stemmed 7.5 foot beauty. I even managed to have our living room furniture oriented in such a way that it could sit in front of the window for all the world to see!!

      So yes, according to my hubby we are officially "those people". I like it though. I had the urge to decorate the day after Halloween so I'm calling it even, anyway. We'll go off for our Thanksgiving festivities and after a long half-day drive back home on the last day of November we'll be able to wake up on the first glorious day of December with Christmas spewing from every corner of our home and nothing left to do but make giant mugs of hot chocolate and enjoy it!

     Besides, if I didn't do it now we'd have to wait a whole week into December to decorate because we'll be gone the end of November and finals week is the first week of December! Waiting that long is simply not an option, people.

Bonus #1: it totally balances out all the hoopla of Black Friday overtaking Thanksgiving. I think decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving just adds to it and balances out the crazy greedy shopping with a whole other kind of crazy.

Bonus #2: Rearranging all the ornaments is totally keeping my normally rambunctious Bitty Bug and Sweet Pea occupied for quite a while. I got some dishes done this morning!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homemade Salsa and Easy Pumpkin Spice Cookies!

It just occurred to me this past week that it could be awesome to try homemade salsa and if we liked it to jar some! Hello, duh! Everyone stop buying the canned and bottled and jarred stuff at the store. It's ridiculously easy to make it at home and it tastes so good. Plus, you can tweak it however you like! Here's the recipe I came up with after reading a few different ones like this and this

3 vine tomatoes
3 tomatillos
1 very large bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 large clove of garlic
lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
a lot of cilantro
1 tsp sugar

      I tossed everything, one or two at a time, into my blender and added it all together in a bigger bowl.  My blender is annoying so any big chunks I'd just throw back in for a minute. We won't be saving this batch so I put it right into the fridge for a while to let all the flavors meld together. This is a sweet, tangy salsa with a decent kick to it. I left the cores and seeds of the peppers out or it would've been much spicier. I also used just a little bit of lemon juice to make sure everything stayed pretty and fresh but it also adds a nice smidge of flavor. My husband (salsa connoisseur) prefers a heavy, bold restaurant-style salsa but he liked this too! It's so easy to pick up the produce, chop it up, and throw it all together. You can tweak it however you want too so it's more to your taste.

 Also, I've seen this simple recipe bouncing around pinterest the past few weeks so I finally gave it a try. There are only TWO ingredients: a boxed spice cake mix and a can of pure pumpkin. I plopped the mixture on the pan and put them in my oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. They came out very soft, almost sticky. They are comparable to cookies you'd make with pudding. Definitely a quick and easy, festive cookie.  Oh, and if you get the cake mix and pumpkin at Aldi's then it's only going to cost a couple bucks! I wish I had some butter pecan ice cream to go with them. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of these. The kids ate them up before I remembered to take one. They were sneaking them so have no doubt they were tasty!

Monday, November 11, 2013


     Didn't I mention back in September I might get slow about posting? I wasn't kidding! But, here I am again. Things might appear slow at our house to the casual passerby but our plates are full and things are in high gear.

     The biggest, best thing this year happened a few weeks ago! We became a family of five! Our Little Pumpkin arrived. We are so thankful for our new addition. I am so thankful NOT to be pregnant anymore. ha!

    I'm still recovering, of course, but I'm also back to full time mama-to-toddlers duty and scraping by to keep up with my part-time student status. #3 is a whole entirely different experience than #1 or #2 (that's a post all on its own). We're enjoying most of the changes but I won't lie. It's crazy and hard. Imagine literally juggling the three most important things to you. That's not even a good analogy but it's all I can think of right now.

    Soon I'll be back to writing more regularly. The semester is almost over too so all that time I would be using to study and that I should be cleaning . . . I'll be on here!