31 January 2017

Tips For Road Trips With Kids

  

  

     

  



  

    

   

 

  

    

 

  

  

 

      

  

     

  

  
  

  

For more travel tips, check out my "Travel" page or feel free to email directly for help with a specific trip! 
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26 January 2017

{How We Do} Screen Time - Free Printable

When it comes to "screen time" we have done different things at different times, but like most things in parenting, we have found something that works well for our family.

If you havn't seen or heard, the AAP revised their guidelines for media and screen time last Fall and you can find the updated findings here:

Media and Young Minds Policy Statement 

Media in School Age Children and Adolescents Policy Statement

The gist of their guidelines is that starting at 18  months of age, there CAN be some educational benefits, but families should make a Family Media Plan and talk about it with their children. They suggest :

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. 
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
The AAP really emphasizes the importance not just of parental knowledge of what their kids are watching but for parents to interact with their kids and the media they are using.



We consider anything with a screen, screen time. Makes sense, huh? So computers, tv, wii, and tablets are what we have available in our home.

For the record, all of our kids watched Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Thomas the Train before they were 18 months. All of them. And, the Praise Baby DVDs helped me make it through the infant years.  But Kyle and I have always been careful about is content and length of time. We do not even to have our TV shows on during the day when they can see them, even when they were infants. We were never comfortable with the idea that we didn't know what they could remember or might dream about when they slept. 

For where we are right now with an 8, 6,4, and 2 year old, we loosely follow the AAP recommendations for amount of time on a screen with the following prerequisites:



Exceptions we tend to allow:

- Long Road Trips 

- Vacations

- Sick Days

- Other purposeful uses (like school projects or homework, or we sometimes use it on purpose as a distraction tool when we are trying to get Archer to try new foods. He is more likely to try something new as a distracted eater, which won't work in the long term, but helps right now when verbal communication is still growing). 
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24 January 2017

Steal and Splurge

                         

I'm linking up today with the Momfessionals blog for show and tell Tuesday talking about Steals and Splurges. Through the years we've had our fair share of both steals and splurges so I thought I'd share some of my favorites. 

Steals

I love love LOVE a good deal. Part of it is because I have to. We live on a tight budget, but I've always had the mindset that that doesn't mean we can't have pretty things or things we want. It's a matter of being smart and planning ahead. 

A few of my favorite steals have been:

Kyle's chair



We got Kyle's leather chair at a Goodwill store in McKinney, for TWENTY DOLLARS. This chair is amazing. It's real leather, soft and comfortable. Big. Perfect for Kyle. The reason it was so cheap is because the reclining feature doesn't work on it. But that doesn't bother us at all. The chair is still awesome and a favorite for sure. Twenty dollars, yall. 

Cars



I consider our vehicles as much a blessing as they were steals. In the same year, we had to replace both of our cars. We got both of them off of Craig's List and were able to get such great deals and pay cash for them. I love my van so much and feel like it fits my personality and has everything our family needs. I didn't know if I could ever love a car as much as I did my VW bug, but this one comes pretty close!

Clothes



I love a good deal on clothes and through the years I have found many. If I buy clothes, I shop sales and clearance racks or second hand. Some of my favorites have been a pair of black boots from Plato's Closet for $7 (this was 5 years ago and I still wear them!) or even recently I went shopping with a gift card I got for Christmas where, for $30, I got a new dress, a pair of shoes and a cardigan. (For the record, the cardigan was $2.) 

Splurges

Like everyone, we have things we have splurged on through the years. This isn't as common as bargain shopping is for us (by a long shot), but there are a few things I have LOVED splurging on!!!!

A few of my favorite splurges have been:

My couch



When we moved, I knew we needed a new couch. I shopped and looked at so many options. I had one picked out at IKEA even that I was planning on. And then I decided to be a big girl and go to Haverty's and just look around. I saw our couch and fell in love with it. It has feathers in the cushions, is the color I love, and one I feel like will last us for years. I came home from shopping and after talking to Kyle, we decided to splurge on it. And I'm so glad we did!

Anniversary Dinners




We have always loved celebrating our Anniversary with a fancy meal. When we still lived in Texas, we had a tradition of eating with some close friends who's anniversary is one day after ours at Texas De Brazil every year. This is not a restaurant we would eat at normally, but it was an occasion we looked forward to every year to dress up and eat a little bit fancy!
Even though we don't live in the same area (or State) as the Browns anymore, we still like to celebrate with a nice meal! 


Disney



I know the cat's out of the bag that we love Disney so much. Clearly I do since I decided to become a travel agent and help people plan magical trips to Disney. But  Disney is expensive. It's something that we have to plan for and save for to get to go every few years. The memories we have made with our kids has been priceless and have been absolutely worth the splurge. Not to mention sparking something in me to inspire a whole new career. 


What are some of your favorite steals and splurges??

 Read my past Show and Tell Posts:






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23 January 2017

Weekend Recap: LK meets Harry Edition


Our weekend started off by all piling on mine and Kyle's bed and laughing at snap chat together. Is there any better way to start a weekend? And is there anything better than hearing your children laugh hysterically?? No. No there's not. 


This weekend was a huge milestone in our house. Kyle and I have been talking for a while about when LK would be ready to read Harry. For us, it was more than just cognitive ability, but about whether she could handle it emotionally. I wanted her to have a good enough grip on the reality of good and evil before she read Harry because it is such a wonderful world that makes the reader WANT it to be true. So after much thought and discussions with her, we came to the conclusion that we were ready to start reading it together with her! Which is SO FUN to get to share in it with her. I am often jealous of anyone who gets to experience Harry for the first time! We're three chapters in and already she is loving it!



On Saturday we had quite the weather adventure. We woke up to bad weather and tornado warnings and just as I had gotten Archer down for the night, another warning hit. So we piled into the kids bathroom (which is the only room in our house with no outside walls) and turned on a show on the ipad. The boys thought it was an adventure. LK was a nervous wreck and was flipping out the whole time. Thankfully it was a false alarm and after one "Goldie and Bear" we were able to get everyone back to bed. Fun times. 


At church yesterday, Kyle had the opportunity to preach! He taught the 3rd sermon in our series on "Covenant", specifically addressing spiritual disciplines. He did such a great job of making the point that our purpose for practicing spiritual disciplines is to stir our affections for Christ, not just check something off a list. So good!


We started our weekend with laughter and we ended with it too. The kids favorite show right now is America's Funniest Home Videos. I guess you could call it our "Family Show" right now. The kids think it is absolutely hilarious (which it totally is). Such a great way to end the weekend. 


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20 January 2017

My Favorite Children's Books

Books! You know me. You know we like books around here :). It's our favorite hobby, our favorite past time. We like to start 'em young. Like in the womb. 

For today's Friday Favorites, I decided to compile a list of my favorite children's books. This is in no way based on literary content or reading levels or academic goals. It is purely based on the books that I either liked as a child or like as a parent (otherwise known as books that don't annoy me to read over and over).

You'll also notice that a lot of the books lean more towards girls. That's because my oldest child and only independent reader is a girl. Also, I'm a girl. As the boys get older, and we read even more, I'll probably add to this list.

Also, it needs to be said, I think a test of a good book are those that are passed along and recommended from friend to friend. For those friends that recommended many on this list and continually respond to my "What should LK read next" emails and texts, THANK YOU.



Bibles



This is our favorite Bible for the 2-4 year olds. We love the big beautiful pictures and the way that every story points to Jesus.


Probably the best Children's Bible on the market. Because every story points to Jesus being our rescuer and redeemer.


While not an actual Bible, this book tells the biggest story, the story of the Gospel and the Bible in beautiful pictures and easy to understand language for kids to follow along with and track with.


Board Books







Picture Books











Young Chapter Books







Chapter Books 









Favorite Read Aloud/Together Books







Posts About Books and Reading On This Blog:








Today, I'm linking up with MomfessionalsGrace and Love Blog, and Little Bit of Everything Blog, for Friday Favorites! 

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of this blog*
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19 January 2017

Theme Park Tips With A Toddler

(This post originally appeared here at  Mama's Organized Chaos as part of a Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day!)



Some families choose to wait to travel to theme parks until their children are older. We are not one of those families! There are solid reasons for waiting until they are older, but for our family the hustle and bustle is so worth it for the memories with have with our kids.

That being said, the toddler years can be difficult enough to navigate on their own without throwing a big trip or theme park into the mix. I have taken toddlers to theme parks several times and have learned some things along the way…

Plan

You need to formulate a good plan for your trip. Planning ahead could save you countless meltdowns and frustrating moments on your trip.

Most theme parks have websites with park maps available to browse. Look at those sites and maps to find the following things:

 - Baby Care Centers or Nursing Mother’s Rooms(At Disney parks, there are BCC located inside every park)

 - Restrooms

 - If outside food is allowed in the park

 - Park Hours

 - Height Limits

Working with a travel agent is a great idea to help you make a good plan. It is always beneficial to have the help of someone with training and experience. A travel agent should always be free help for you. This doesn’t even mean the price is jacked up to pay commissions since most agents get paid through vendors. It should cost you no more than if you booked the trip yourself. For more benefits of working with a travel agent, you can read this post to learn more.

Know

You need to know your toddler well and keep that in mind when planning your trip.

For example, one of my children was TERRIFIED of character interactions… bloody-murder-screaming, the whole nine yards. But we knew that ahead of time and had planned that one of us would just stay back with him and not approach the characters. We wouldn’t push it with him unless he initiated. Having a relaxed approach let him relax and know we weren’t going to push him with it.

Another thing to consider is how well your toddler handles skipping naps or if he or she will nap in a stroller. If it is just a one-day trip you are taking, you could probably push the nap for the day. But for a multi-day trip you need to think through whether it would be beneficial to go back to the hotel for afternoon naps. We do this most of time and always feel like it is worth it.


Prepare

Prepare well for your trip by thinking through what you will need to have with you on your trip.

- Stroller or Carrier: Think through navigating an airport with a stroller (when applicable) or getting on/off onsite transportation. Think through how well your toddler handles crowds, etc. My personal preference is to bring a stroller and my Ergo. I have been able to baby wear on my baby for even my bigger toddlers and it has been beneficial to have options.

- Bag: What bag are you going to carry? I recommend a backpack as it is easiest to fit diapers, snacks, change of clothes, etc.. in. Most parks have lockers where you can store the bag if it gets too bulky.

- Snacks: I always travel with snacks in my bag. Fruit snacks, granola bars, and goldfish are my go-to, but you bring your faves. Snacks are lifesaver and can help pass the time in lines or hold you over until you get to your next meal.

- Activities for long lines: Having a few activities on-hand can be helpful for the long line waits at theme parks. I like to have a couple small books to read, a favorite truck or car or other small toy. You might even consider a tablet or phone.


Vacations and Theme Parks are SO much fun and I absolutely think it is possible and fun to bring your toddlers! The memories you make are totally worth it!! If you need help planning a trip or would even like more travel and theme parks tips, please visit www.travelbysisters.com or email me directly at carrie.wiley@keytotheworldtravel.com .
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17 January 2017

Scripture Memory 2017 {Free Phone Wallpaper}



One area I feel challenged in this year is scripture memory. I really want to do a better job of hiding God's word in my heart. This isn't an area I've been particularly good at, nor have developed a discipline for for any length of time. I have had a few weeks of it here and there, but never anything consistent.  But I know this is an area that is so important for the life of a believer. The Bible tells us that scripture is our daily bread and that it is profitable for us (2 Timothy 3:16).

I talked to my small group girls at the beginning of the year about tackling it together. Because I always do better with accountability and the extrovert in me loves it when friends join together to tackle goals!

My memory is not so awesome. What's the opposite of a photographic memory? Is it mommy brain?? I feel like it's mommy brain. And trust me, I have to fight against some serious mommy brain!! Somebody say amen and that I'm not the only one!!!

One way I have found to help with fighting the mommy brain is to work with it instead of against it! There are a few ways I do this.

1. I write the verse with a dry erase marker on my mirror.

2. I write it on notecards. Sometimes I tape them throughout my house, I have a spiral notecard holder, or I have even been known to put the notecard in a baggy in the shower.

3. My favorite. I started making wallpaper images for my phone with each week's verse on it. I look at my phone a million times a day, and I think this might help me more than even notecards!

Because I love you and as an added bit of accountability for me to keep on with this, I decided to make a page where I can share them with anyone else who'd like to use it. I'll add to this post each week and you can find the post in the right side-bar.

Feel free to right-click and save them to your own device if you'd like to use them!










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16 January 2017

Weekend Recap: Trampoline Edition



It's been a good weekend with lots of playing with my babies! 

Since the kids got a trampoline for Christmas, I've tried to jump with them some. On Friday, I needed some sunshine and Fischer was happy to oblige! He thought it was hilarious that I would chase him around and play "popcorn" with him. Archer was running around us on the ground (because he would rather jump off the trampoline that be on it) laughing and laughing with us. 


I love having a trampoline. It reminds me so much of my childhood because we practically LIVED on ours. Of course, we didn't have the nets. But it was probably one of my most loved childhood toys... you're welcome for this gem of a picture. This may or may not confirm that LK is related to me. 

I havn't talked about Gilly lately, because "She who shall not be named" has NOT been my favorite lately. The list of things she has chewed up is growing and the barking is continual when she is outside. However, we are actually having a few sweet moments with her lately and this was one of them. 


On Saturday, I rested and re-couped. It has been a long week, good, but long. I had a big wave of quote requests for travel, which is so fun and I'm so excited about finally building up some momentum. But after a long week of staying up working late, I needed a relaxing day! 

After Dinner we went to my parents house for steaks and to play outside because the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Also, my Mama made me chocolate oatmeal cookies, my favorite, because she loves me and knew I had had a long week. Love that so much!

After church on Sunday, we went to lunch at Dairy Queen. It was so yummy. Another childhood favorite. 


LK wore this adorable dress I got for her in Mexico!  


The kids were so excited to get their kiddie cone! How cute are they??!!




I've been looking at some ways to connect with LK a little bit more. I found this idea of a Mommy/daughter journal on Pinterest. It's a journal that she and I will write back and forth in. She was so excited when she found it on her pillow tonight!! You can find the original link and printable here: http://mamajenn.com/blog/2010/11/mama-me-journal.html


I'm excited about having the kids home tomorrow for MLK Jr. Day and then on to another week of school and work :). 
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