Friday, July 17, 2009

Tips on Road Trips with Kids

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We just got back from a very long, but not too excruciating road trip with our four children from Pennsylvania to Colorado. I was a little weary about how the kids would do on such a long trip. I planned for weeks. We do have some experience, though, with travelling long distances with our kids. We've been to Hilton Head, South Carolina six times, and Disney World once.

I always listen to every tip I hear when someone talks about how to travel with kids, but I usually don't learn much. Here are some ideas that work with us. Hopefully you can get a few tips from my list that might work for you!

  • We got the kids to bed by 10, got to bed right away ourselves, and got started by five in the morning. My husband and I just took a quick shower, grabbed our last couple items we needed, and threw the kids in the car. All four of them, from the ages of 15 to five fell back to sleep at least part of the time in the car.
  • After a couple of hours, we ate our breakfast in the car. I packed granola bars, pop tarts, grapes, gogurts, and juice boxes so we could save time by not stopping for breakfast. We try to stop as little as possible. We try to make our first stop for bathroom breaks when we need gas, usually about 4 1/2 hours into the trip. Also, we literally run to the bathroom! It feels good and saves our precious time.
  • I break up the day into blocks of time. The first block is always rest/sleeping time. The next block is breakfast. After that they can get into their bag and choose an activity. My 5-year-old chose video games on her DS. My boys chose the XBox. Beware, though, to bring the XBox, you must wire it in directly to the battery to work properly, or you can bring an older system like the Gamecube. My 15-year-old chose to read her magazines and listen to her Ipod.
  • After a couple of hours of an activity of their choice, we pick out a movie to watch that the whole family will enjoy, including my husband who actually drove the whole way. He can at least listen to it. I sit in the front and recline my seat to watch it. I bought new movies on Amazon really cheap! We got Heavyweights, The Brady Bunch season 2, Big, Innerspace, Bluestreak, and Prince Caspian. I figured we needed at least one new movie per traveling day, along with a couple of our older movies that the kids picked out. I also got a few that the kids could watch by themselves on one of the two portable DVD players, High School Musical 3, Rush Hour 3, and Entrapment.
  • After movie time, we start watching for a McDonald's sign for lunch. If you stop after 12:30, the lines aren't as long. Once again, run. My husband gets the gas, I get in line with the list of what everyone told me in the car. If there's a play area, my oldest daughter takes the little kids to play for a couple of minutes while everyone takes turns using the bathroom. If there's no play area, my oldest daughter takes my youngest daughter to the bathroom, my oldest son takes my youngest son to the bathroom, then they meet me back in line and wait for the food (along with the list to make sure we got everything we ordered). I run to the bathroom, then we all jump back in the car. Eating lunch in the car saves so much time. We don't do anything else while we're eating. It's a great way to pass the time.
  • The next block of time is the kids choice again. Maybe someone else will play the XBox, someone will watch a movie they pick out on the portable DVD player, my son read his golf book, my oldest talks on her cell phone.
  • Then we play something together. We downloaded Uno Rush on the XBox and played that together. Boy was that fun, and it really passed the time while the kids laughed away! When we used to bring the Gamecube in the car, we brought Mario Cart. That's really fun, too.
  • After the last bathroom stop, we play Mad libs. Mad libs are also a great thing to do if you get stuck in a traffic jam. The kids laugh their heads off and don't even realize they're in a traffic jam.
  • One of the last things we do in the car is watch The Brady Bunch. For some reason, all four of the kids enjoy it! I do too!
  • At the end of the trip, we all just watch the city we're coming into and start packing up the car from the mess we've made. There shouldn't be too much garbage because we keep a plastic bag hung over the arm rest for trash, but never less, there's always cleaning up to be done.

I like to stop the day somewhere around dinner time. The kids have had it by then, like between 6 and 7. We stay at a hotel with a pool and whirlpool (for my husband and me to relax in!). We order pizza and have it delivered to the pool. We bring our own drinks, and relax for the evening. We like to stay at the Marriott's because many of them can accommodate six people in one room, two queen beds and a sofa bed. They also have a free breakfast in the morning, saving us precious time and money!

When we start out on day two, we head out a little later, like 8 AM. Our hotel is always a little past halfway so we have a shorter distance the second day.

Another thing I do is have treats for the kids. I bring a little candy, and buy a new toy or magazine for them. I also borrowed a couple DS games and gave them to my youngest to play on the ride home when she's "had it".

Of course I bring snacks. I try to bring some healthy ones that aren't too messy, cheese sticks, nuts, chex mix, fruit snacks, and yes, some chips too.

I think a long trip teaches the kids about patience and finding things to do to keep themselves busy. After this long trip to Denver, it sure will make our 13 hour trip to Hilton Head seem easy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Is anyone else interested in all this drama about Jon and Kate? I actually don't watch the show very often, but I really admire Kate's energy raising eight kids. I was surprised to hear about their latest problems, so I have been watching a little more.

Last week I was on the computer when I saw the caption, "Jon talks to People". I had to click on the latest video to see what Jon was going to say! As I was watching, my 13-year-old son walked in the room.

"What are you doing", he said.

"I'm watching what Jon from Jon and Kate said to People magazine!"


"Because I want to see what he said!"

"Why would you even waste your time watching this?"

(Wow) "You sound just like your father!"

I think he may be right, though. Why would I be wasting my time on this? I don't even know these people. Lots of people have marriage problems. Why do I want to spend my time watching this when there are so many better things I could be doing with my time.

Later, I told my husband about our conversation...

"...and he asked me why I was watching it, and he sounded just like you!", I said.

"I was going to say, why are you even wasting my time telling me this story?", my husband said.

OK, OK, they win! I will TRY to not watch the Jon and Kate drama anymore. I can't believe a 13-year-old can teach his mom a thing or two, pathetic.

Well, does anyone else watch it?

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I Learned About Cyber-Schooling

I know I haven't been around much lately. I was starting to feel the guilt from so much time on the computer when my youngest wanted to play Candyland with me and I didn't have time because I was blogging. Soon she'll be grown up and won't want to play games with me anymore. This fall she'll be in school full time. I'll never get this time back again. I already feel like I don't have enough time to get everything done in the day, let alone play with her. I'm going to spend much less time blogging. But sometimes I have something to say.

Cyber School. My 15-year old started high school this year, my old high school. Let me tell you it is NOT the same as when I went there. It's one of the better schools in the area, but I guess most schools now are very different. In one week time, she had her cell phone stolen, her hood off her jacket stolen, and two girls threatened her for "looking" at them in class. About a week after these things happened she wasn't feeling well and decided to take a day off. We had a great day. We talked about how much time is wasted in school, and how bad school can be sometimes. We decided to look into cyber schooling so she could spend more time at home. Fifteen is an impressionable age, and I feel between school and activities, she needed more time at home with her family. How else can you teach them if you don't have any time with them?

It seems that everyone I mention cyber schooling to is either positive or negative about it. "Wow! That sounds great!", or "Oh... Well, how do you see your friends? I would miss my friends. I would never do my work at home on my own." For us, we found it to be a very positive experience:

  • Cyber schooling is your right being a tax payer, just like your decision to home school.
  • It's very easy to get involved in it. We met with the counselor at school on a Friday, and started the next Monday.
  • We were given a free brand new laptop and printer. We get reimbursed for our internet service. Our only expense is the paper.
  • My daughter is only taking health class to start, but has online help from 8-11PM. She can also use her laptop for her classes at school and even use the online teachers for help with her at-school classes.
  • You can sign up for online any time throughout the year. We signed up at the beginning of the semester and she is already more than half-way done with the class. At school, they are only about 1/4 of the way done. She can work any time, as much as she wants. She only needs to make sure she spends at least the amount of time they do in school on it. BUT, when she's done with the class, she's done! It will be free time for her.
  • What ever grade she gets in cyber school is the grade that will be put on her report card.
  • She can take whatever class she wants, at any time. The school is very flexible. She can come in late in the morning or leave early from school. My daughter leaves 1 1/2 hours early every other day. If she has an activity after school that day, she can stay at school and work on a computer there. She's done that a few times and gets about three assignments done and all her homework for her other classes.
  • Gym class is the easiest. She'll be doing that next year. All she needs to do is log in 60 hours of physical activity within the year. That includes bowling, ski club, track, swimming, ice skating, roller skating, working out at the gym.

One of the counselors at school was very negative about it. He said she needs to be very disciplined and could get behind and most kids quit. Well my daughter is not every kid. She's a very fast worker. She actually loves school, so part time cyber schooling is the perfect mix for her. She can even get a job if she wants now. I just had a gut feeling that this was the best thing for my daughter. The cyber school even told us that some colleges require you to take an online class before they will accept you!

There a lot of information online about it. Your school may even offer it. Ours did, but barely anyone knows about it because they're not allowed to advertise it. Maybe yours does too! If you are at all interested, check it out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

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March 12-15 only.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1st Day of Umping

Last night was my son's first day of umping. This is just a picture of him playing in the last game. I'll have to get a picture of him umping. I guess he did pretty well! He only let a kid get 4 strikes one time. He said he was nervous for the first batter, then he felt confident. He made all the calls nice and loud and only had one shout out from the stands:

"STRIKE? That's more like golfing! FOUR!"

It's a good thing that happened after my husband left. He told me he would escort anyone out of there who was mean to him.

Here's my son pitching in last weeks game during the rain. It was a steady drizzle and got so dark, he couldn't even see the plate. That was pretty difficult for him.

During the game I looked over at one of the dads and saw his camera pointing at me! I thought, "I hope he's not taking one of me!". He was. He took tons of pictures of the whole team with his new fancy camera and sent them to the everyone. That was very nice of him. They came out really good, except for mine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Anyone Watch Survivor?

For me, that was the saddest and most frustrating episode I ever saw! Early in the show yesterday, my son and I had Eric picked out as the winner. I guessed that he'd be up against Amanda for the final two. My son guessed he'd be up against Cirie.

As soon as I heard Cirie mention the plan to get his immunity idol I said, "Oh, no!". I knew it was the end. Some may call him dumb, but I just feel sorry for him! He was too trusting. The girls were just plain mean. I just hope Natalie doesn't win. My favorite one of the whole show was Jason. His pathetic ending was similar to Eric's. He decided not to use his immunity idol because he believed the others were going to vote someone else out. Here's my new pick for winner:

Don't forget to watch the season finale on Sunday. So did you see Survivor last night? What did you think? Also, who's your pick for the winner?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gas Prices Still on the Rise!

California has the highest gas prices in the US. Luckily some of the parents are starting to carpool to away games and other events. Is anyone else starting to ride their bikes and walk more? Where we live in Northwestern PA gas is at $3.61, higher than the national average. What is the price of gas where you live?