5 tips for traveling w/ the toddler

Today, a friend told me that she is traveling 15+ hours by car for Thanksgiving with her 2 YEAR OLD. Since we travel often (6 car trips in the last 12 mo of 4-15 hours!) she asked for tips.

I included my top 5.

Disclaimer: these are things that work/don’t work for us. There are a plethora of ideas on Pinterest.

1.Do bring electronic entertainment, but don’t use it right away .
I love electronics for travel. The day the kid will watch the iPad is the day traveling to grandma’s got 80% easier. However, don’t give it until you absolutely have to (kid is about to lose her mind!) because once you give it, it will take an act of God to get it back. Also, don’t forget the car charger and headphones! Ten hours of Sponge Bob is enough to make an adult snap (it’s not pretty!) In an ideal world each child would have his own device, however since we don’t live in utopia, Walmart and Target both sell an IPad case that straps to the back of a head rest for $15. This also helps if you want to control what they watch.

2. Don’t bring crayons, but do bring a couple of a favorite toy.
Crayons seem like a good idea. If your child is perfect, then maybe bringing crayons will work for you. In my experience, they become weapons to be slung at me or a sibling when the inevitable tantrum ensues. They are apparently quite slippery and get dropped frequently causing extreme frustration. As a final thought, one WILL get dropped behind the car seat and melt into your leather minivan seats. True. Story.

3. Do bring food individually portioned, but don’t bring all junk food.
We always travel with a cooler and snack bag. Our best trips are when all the snack are in individual portions, so that you can hand the child a little bag of snacks. We all have different interpretations of the words “junk food.” As the parent, you know what foods work for your family. Stick to them.

4. Don’t drive for more than 3-4 hours (unless they are asleep), and do plan to let them run for a while (15-30min) when you stop.
I have noticed that until age 5 my kids CANNOT sit in their car seats for more than 4 hours! So just plan to stop. In order to save time we will eat in the car and then let the kids run around while we get gas, etc. I have been dropped off at many Chikfila stores with the kids while Hubby gases up. Depending on the amount of time you have, a thirty minute break is awesome, but even fifteen minutes helps and is worth putting shoes back on or even the coats. Sanity is worth the extra time!

5. Do attempt to enforce sleep schedules (nap/bedtime), but don’t panic if you get off schedule.
Of course this assumes, you are on a schedule. We do our best to maintain the nap time and bed time. We have the required blankets, oils, etc. Kids are flexible so obviously it’s not a crisis if they miss a nap or go to bed late, but it is worth the effort for a few hours of peace and quiet.

Bonus: Don’t forget they are kids: they will cry, tantrum, scream. DO BRING YOURSELF HEADPHONES and crank up your music!


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Fall Parent Teacher Conference 2014

This school year began with some drama/anxiety on MY part (of course, because Hudson could care less): new school, new teacher, etc. Of course everything has worked out beautifully. A few weeks ago, I had the first of many conferences with Ms. Perseus and the SLP and OT.
During our time I found out several things:
1. Ms. P believes in child- led, play based learning. “They are still little. They need to play.” I completely agree.
2. The classroom has several sensory toys. Hudson’s current favorites include the body sock and the vibrating snake. This helps me to understand which tools will best help meet his sensory needs at home.
3. Hudson is being exposed to typical PreK curriculum: letter/number recognition, patterns, writing his name, etc. In a special ed classroom, this is not a given. I am thankful that as a whole, his class is operating on this level.
4. According to Ms. P, Hudson’s behavior is “normal” given his diagnosis. Yes, he talks too much (remember when he didn’t talk at all??), makes noises, has tantrums, and has difficulty with transitions. But his behavior could be so much more difficult to manage. He loves to work and is engaged in his learning. Last week, he even reminded me about his homework. “Do my work, mommy.”

So, we are thankful. Progress is being made. He is learning. He is growing, and so am I.

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Fall Fun with the Cousins

Almost every year since Tyson was three and Kaiden was 18mo, we have cut pumpkins and celebrated fall with the cousins. This year, the stars aligned and all the kids were out of school the same day, so we took a little trip to Williamsburg, Va and stayed overnight at our timeshare. We ate at our favorite BBQ place, went to the pumpkin patch where we rode the hayride and played games, watched movies, played at the park and swam in the indoor pool. The kids were great and the adults exhausted. IMG_7050.JPG







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September Firsts

Since today is October 1, the official beginning to all things Harvest/Halloween, I thought we would look back at September. Last month we experienced many new and exciting things. Here is our list (in no particular order):

Hudson’s first day of school was at Little Creek Elementary.As I was pulling out of the driveway to take him to school, I realized that the bus comes at 8:30am this year instead of 7:30am. He now rides to and from school every day, except on the mornings that he has speech.

Addison had her first day of Parents Morning Out at the Y. She goes 2 Fridays/mo for 4 hours and loves her independent time with friends.

Tyson started 5th grade at home and attends Co-op on Fridays. This semester he is taking architecture, wood shop and Imagineers.

So two Fridays a month, all three kids get their lunches packed and are out of the house for a few hours.








This sounded like a good idea and parts of it were fun. Unfortunately, most of it wasn’t. We came home early. Apparently, it is really hard to camp with a 2yr old and a 4yr old, especially when he has autism.

We are building, again! Yea! The opportunity has arisen for us to sell our town house and build another one on our same street. The new one will be a 4/3.5 with a double car garage. We are excited to have a bit more space. We are hoping to close/move at the end of Nov.



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August Recap

For the month of August, we threw the schedule out and just played, a lot. There was so much fun, but now I am exhausted. Haha. School (even homeschool) can’t start soon enough. We (I) need a schedule…
So this is what we did-

1. Late night trips for ice cream

2. Late night walks to the fountain on campus



3. Colonial Williamsburg with friends





4. Zoo with friends



5. Dog Sitting for a friend


6. So many days at the Y with friends


7. Adventure Park with friends (a terrifying day!)



8. Soakin up days at the pool


So much fun. So many friends. So thankful.

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5 things I need to start the school year

All summer I work bit by bit towards the next school year. Curriculum is researched and purchased. Co-op classes are registered, and city class fees are paid. In August, I really get busy prepping by planning units and quarter objectives. These are a few of my favorite planning tools:

1. My new laminator
Purchased of Amazon for $17.99, this machine has already earned it’s place in the office. I have mostly used it to prep PreK activities for Addison, but I’m sure I will use it for the boys as well.

2. Bestvaluecopy.com

I uploaded 10 documents that needed printing, some bound, and some 3 hole punched. The cost of over 500 pages printed and shipped was $30. What a deal!

3. A lesson plan page that works

I finally got Hubby to design a page that would suit our family. After looking at it for a few weeks, it needs some tweaking, but for the most part, I really like it.

4. Online Shopping
Most people think that homeschoolers don’t need back to school supplies. However, we need notebooks, crayons, scissors and glue sticks just like everyone else. We try to reuse as much as possible, so we may not spend as much as others. In addition, all 3 of the kids needed backpack and lunch boxes due to a neighborhood backpack thief. My favorite online sources for school supplies are target.com (I can return what we don’t use!) and childrensplace.com (all 3 backpacks and lunch boxes were under $40 with shipping). I love online shopping because it was done in 30 min from my phone during rest time.. Much less stressful!

5. A flexible attitude
This week there was a mild bit of drama regarding Hudson’s school situation. Apparently, the district switched his school without notifying me. I was only made aware by a bus driver calling regarding pick up time. After a week of receiving the “run around,” I was finally able to meet his teacher. She spent an hour talking with Hubby and me. The para played with Hudson. We feel good about sending him.
Speaking of flexible, sometimes as a parent, I am really flexible and let Hudson get a red Mohawk at a friend’s birthday party. He loved it!


Of course, Addi needed a pink sparkly pony tail!

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Family Fun in Raleigh, NC

Early August, we went to Raleigh, NC for a family reunion of sorts. Hubby’s family was there from AZ and IN. We all met there for a party and some family time. We spent the first 2 nights with my aunt and uncle catching up with them, then the next two night at a hotel near the rest of the family. After the party on Saturday, Sunday found us at the Marble museum in downtown Raleigh. This is a wonderful place for toddlers and preschoolers. It is really busy because it is only $5 admission and amazing! Aunt Rebekah and Vellani, Grandma Paula and Papa Paul went with us while Hubby wrote a paper for school.





On Monday we went to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science which is 2 buildings with 3 floors each. This was another amazing deal as the admission was free! Geared for elementary ages and older, there was also several exhibits that the littles enjoyed, especially the dinosaurs. We were there for 3 hours and only saw about half of it. They also had a preschool area with many hands-on activities. So the littles did that, while Tyson did the Rainforest exhibit.






After the museum we went to hang out with the cousins at their house. Many hours were spent playing trains, watching the Lego movie and playing outside.



After going out for breakfast on Tuesday, we went to this great park in Cary. There was a nice playground, trails to walk and paddle boats to rent. We ended up coming back later in the evening to rent the boats and all had a good time.


The best part of the trip (for me!) was that Hudson FINALLY consistently used the potty all the time. We MAY have spent $30 on Thomas trains as we rewarded him for every time he pooped in the potty, but as Hubby pointed out, it is cheaper than 2 months of pull-ups and SO much less stressful. We haven’t had an accident since….

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Hudson’s 4th Birthday

Last month we celebrated Hudson’s 4th birthday. He loves the pool so we just did a simple pool party with a few friends. We swam and jumped in the pool (over and over!) for a little over an hour. Then had a picnic in the grass. I found these little sand buckets at Party City for 99cents and put each child’s name on it. Then we filled it with his/her lunch as well as sunglasses and a small beach ball that read “Hudson’s 4th Birthday!” When I asked Hudson what he wanted for his party, he said, “balloons and party hats.” So the morning of the party we stopped at the Dollar Tree and got balloons and party hats. I think the whole party cost under $100, and everyone had a wonderful experience.







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Vacation: Family, Friends, Fun and Potty Training

This summer we went to Orlando, Fl for our summer family vacation. We decided to drive down over the course of several days since it is a 12+ hour journey. We left on Friday afternoon as soon as Hudson got off the bus and drove 3 hours to Wilson, NC. We got there early which left time for dinner out and pool time. It was during pool time that Hudson recognized the need for a bowel movement AND used the potty… TWICE! We have been working on this FOR A YEAR!!!
Next, we headed to my Uncle Mark’s house in Ludowisi, GA (middle of nowhere!). He and his wife rolled out the red carpet and took great care of us. We spent a relaxing 2 days there. (Though Hudson had a potty accident there!)







Next day we journeyed to Orlando where we spent the night at our condo. The next day we are up early to drive to Sebring, Fl to visit friends. Have u ever met someone and bonded over heartache and loss? Kinda weird, I know. This is how SB and I became friends 3 years ago: telling each other our miscarriage stories. We spent the day chatting, watching our kids play and eating. It was good for my soul. Oh and she also has a 2yr old lil girl… So much cuteness!



Wednesday was spent at the Central Florida Zoo. Then we went to see my Grandmother and Aunt in Lakeland, FL. They had never met the littles. I think they made quite a dramatic first impression.






For a little bit, on most days we would see my parents, Grandma Gail and Papa Mike who were also vacationing in Orlando. We ate at their condo and went to the pool on Tuesday: they joined us at Grandma Bo’s house on Wednesday night: the littles spent Thursday at Chucky Cheese and ChikFila with them. It was great that they are able to form a relationship with each other. One of the favorite activities was singing with Papa Mike and his guitar. He even let Hudson play some.



On the last night, we realized that Hudson hadn’t pooped in a couple days… This is usually bad… Very bad! I will spare u the details but he went 3 times that night IN THE POTTY! It’s like he understands, so now he does it.
Now… To get his sister on board…

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5 Best Moments in NYC: Decade Birthday (part 2)

When Tyson turned 9, we asked him where he wanted to go for his birthday. His response was NYC. Immediately, we decided that we could not go as a family. The city with 2 little ones (ages 2 and 3) seemed like a nightmare and would cost too much money. So we set aside some money and purchased bus tickets. Then Hubby met a guy who supervises the mission house NYC for the NY convention: discount hotel! So, late Monday night after spending the day at the aquarium, they were off on their “trip of a lifetime!”

1. Visiting the Statue of Liberty

This was his #1 priority. They took the tour and climbed the pedestal.

2. Shopping and Time Square


Tyson was most impressed with a 40lb Hershey bar. He also brought home presents for his brother, sister and cousins.

3. The Museum of Math

Yep. The country’s largest math museum just opened in NYC. Go to a show? No way. Math Museum? Definitely!

4. The Discovery Center’s The Art of Brick

I am so glad they found this. I had heard of it but could not figure out the details. I knew he would love it. The sculptor recreated famous paintings using Legos, plus much more. Apparently they spent almost 3 hours at the exhibit.

5. Food!


This trip was NYC on a budget so they couldn’t spend a lot on food. Thankfully, there was a Trader Joes across from the hotel where they purchased bagels, cream cheese, fruit, granola bars and water. This is what they would eat for breakfast and lunch each day. Then they would eat a snack ( hot dog, donut, etc) on the street in the afternoon and go out for dinner.
The exception to this was on Friday morning when Hubby took him to restaurant, The Edison, for pancakes and blintz. This was significant because Hubby was taken there by his mom when he visited NYC with her!

Tyson got to do many other things: Museum of Natural History, visiting Harlem and lots of shopping. These were his highlights.
After he returned, I told him that his next big birthday will be 16. I then asked where he might want to go… His response… Paris! I can’t wait to see how God works that out.

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