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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Sensory Bottles for Entertaining Kids on the Road

I LOVE sensory bottles!  Ever since I was first introduced to them a few years ago, I've made them and played with them.  My kids like them too!  Most people think of calm down bottles as part of the classroom or making an i-spy bottle on a rainy day, but discovery bottles are also great for road trips.  They're a self-contained, mess-free (if you super glue on the lid) toy that you can customize to your child, road trip theme, or sensory need.

I teamed up with my friends in the Kid Blogger Network to bring you the very best sensory bottles on the net.  I hope you enjoy!

In case you don't want to make your own...

Which ones are your favorites?  Which ones have you done?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Family Food Hacks for Camping

It's almost the end of the summer, and most people are planning their last camping trips.  Labor Day weekend (USA) is also a popular time for family reunions and celebrations.  If you're looking for a few unique ideas to make your time together extra special, you'll love these family-tested hacks.

My kids LOVE those store-bought applesauce pouches that you can buy on the fruit isle of the grocery store.  They're sweet, convenient, and "contain real fruit;" however, I do not like their price tag.  Those little pouches are only 3 oz and they're not reusable.

The other day, I decided to try an experiment with the "portion control" narrow zip top bags that I had in the house.  I used a canning funnel to fill them with applesauce.  Then, I zipped them up and poked a hole in them for the straw (we've since switched to stainless steel straws).  The kids held them by the top edges and sipped out the applesauce.  It was magic!  Plus, they're reusable!

Another option would be to use reusable drink pouches like these, which would hold even more applesauce.  Make them before your outing and stick them in the cooler or bring the pieces and make them up at camp (or in a hotel).

We found that adding a bit of water to the applesauce stretches it a bit (important if you're making a bunch) and makes the fruit easier to suck up through the straw.  Or add some juice for a totally different flavor!

This amazing bacon weave was my mom's idea!  It's 3 pieces of bacon, cut in half, and then woven together into a waffle.  After cooking them in the oven, they're perfect for hamburgers, BLTs, club sandwiches, and more.  Plus, they transport very well for camping.

My whole family loves these Pie Iron Pies- tasty sweets sandwiched in bread and toasted over the fire.  The cast iron device on a roasting stick, which can be used for many different recipes from breakfast to dessert.  Stuff them with meat, cheese, eggs, or whatever for a crunchy, toasty treat.  They make a great gift for the camper in your life, especially if you pair it with a pudge pie cookbook.  Easy enough for anyone to master.

Comment below with your favorite camping hack.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Pressed a Penny, Now What?

Many people have returned home from their vacations and have either gone back to school or are getting ready to resume normal life.  Perhaps you went to a touristy destination and pressed a few pennies at a souvenir machine.  If you're like me, you press the pennies in the excitement of the moment and then don't know what to do with them when you get home.  This is the post for you!

First, if you're new to penny pressing, here are a few resources:

Pressed Penny Collectors website which lists all the known coin pressing machines in the world.  So cool!  I had so much fun looking up places near us to see what machines we haven't visited or missed.  I think it would be a good idea to visit them before an outing so we can plan to get a pressed penny.

Experimenting with Cleaning the Pennies allows you to combine vacation preparations with science.  This would be great for homeschoolers, too.

Get this Metal Punch to put holes in the pressed pennies.  Perfect for craft projects where you want to hang them or connect them together.

1- Shadow Box- drop them in

2- Coffee Table- a museum collection

3- Bracelet- where your travels

4- Belt- show off your journey

5- Key Ring- contain them in one place

6- Souvenir Book- store on a bookshelf

7- Mickey Mosaic- perfect for Disney trips

8- Wind Chimes- make music

9- Travel Map- mark your locations

Do you like to press pennies?

What do you do with them after you press them?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Everything is Awesome Family Road Trip 2018

We've been home from our Everything is Awesome Lego Road Trip for one week.  I'm just starting to get us unpacked and dig the pictures off the camera to share.  I have several road trip posts planned in the near future (some of them are guests posts on other blogs), so this post is just meant to be an overview.

Unfortunately, our Everything is Awesome trip didn't start out very awesome.  We were anticipating a family reunion with my husband's side of the family, headed by the matriarch, who was near her 90th birthday.  We were very excited to get to spend time with her, as we hadn't seen her in over two years.  Sadly, she died a few days before we left for our trip.

Our second issue that caused us a bit of stress the weeks before the trip was car trouble on our big, comfy, nine-seater SUV.  I made a few crafts for that car to help make it even more comfortable, and was excited about using it.  A few days before we left, my husband informed me that we wouldn't be able to use the SUV and would need to take the much smaller, five-seater Rodeo (note- there are 5 of us).

Since we took the smaller car, we had to come up with a cargo solution.  We decided to purchase a rooftop cargo bag, which turned out to be a good product.  The lack of extra car seats meant that all the kids had to sit next to each other, which was not the original plan.  It was a bit squished, but the kids are still young enough that they didn't mind too badly.  My seat was much less comfortable than it would have been in the SUV; however the air conditioning was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Our first day of driving was also Dragonfly's birthday, so we surprised her with a trip to the Museum of the Rockies.  We first went two years ago, and the kids have been talking about it ever since.  They loved it even more this year.  I will write more details in a future post, so look for that soon.

After several days of driving, we arrived at my grandparents' farm.  They've been married for 63 years and are still living in the house they bought early in their marriage.  The way they love each other and help each other is so inspiring.

We were only able to spend a day with them, but it was such a precious time.  The boys remembered Great-Granddad's orange tractor "Alice" from two year ago, and were very excited to spend time on it again.  They also got to spend time on a John Deere tractor, working the hydraulics to move the scoop up and down.

Granddad hooked up the trailer and took the kids and my husband on a drive through the countryside to a farm with animals.  Everyone had such a great time that they went a second time!  The boys were excited to see "Dusty Crophopper" planes both near the farm and on our drive.

The kids also spent a lot of time riding their bikes in the driveway, which pleased my grandparents a lot.  It's been many years since my own mom was riding in that same driveway.  It was sort of a "full circle" moment.

I don't know if we'll ever get back to the farm, so this was a very special part of our trip.

After we left my grandparents' farm, we drove another day to my husband's family in Nebraska.  All of his siblings, spouses, and kids were there, so we got to spend lots of time with them.  The kids played inside and outside, the adults played music and talked, and there was even a trip to a water park.  It was a fun, relaxed time, and way too short.

I love taking pictures of my kids when we're on vacation.  Is that weird?

We also had a large family reunion at a rented retreat center.  It was very fun to have all the cousins and their families in one building.  My kids loved meeting all the other kids and sleeping in an exclusive "hotel" full of people they knew and could play with during the day.  They didn't want to leave.

While we were at the reunion, we had the memorial service for my husband's grandmother.  It was a lovely service at one church, followed by a meal at another church.  During the reception, I got to meet a lot of people from my husband's past, which was pretty cool.

Every day after dinner, the family met together in one room for games, skits, quizzes, and other fun things.  The kids participated a bit, but mainly they played with the giant bin of Lego that one of the cousins brought.  It was a very awesome way to include Lego in our Everything is Awesome Lego trip (see how we customized our road trip to the Lego theme by clicking the link).  The kids have really gotten into Lego since this trip (although they're still only playing when Daddy can play with them to help contain the chaos).

On our way home, we stopped at Reptile Gardens near Rapid City, SD.  The kids loved all the snakes, turtles, and other animals at the world's largest reptile zoo!  We watched a show about poisonous snakes and one with gator wrestling.  My kids had mixed feelings about those two shows and animals, but they all loved the giant tortoises.  They were roaming around in an area where people could go up and touch them.  You can see in the pictures that they kids were dwarfed by the reptiles.  I intend to write more later, so watch for that post.

It was a busy, whirlwind trip.  We all enjoyed it, but we're excited to be home.  Check back next week for more posts about road trips with families.

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