Resources for a Roadtrip

Our family is planning a major road trip this summer: 19 states plus Ontario in 15 days! To keep everyone happy, I have been collecting ideas and activities from all over the web. You can check out my Road Trip Pinterest board here. Here is what I have planned and organized so far. These are all ideas that I am using for my children ages 6, 8, and 11. My 14 month-old is a whole different story, but my plans for him will be saved for another day.

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas: I purchased this a month ago to help us get to know the states that we will be visiting. It will come in the car as a reference guide to help the children answer their state activity worksheets (see below).

Each child picked out a new coloring/activity book. These Extreme Dot-to-Dot books are a great challenge for my 11-year-old. We have been a fan of the Color Counts Color by Number books for years, and my 8-year-old picked this one. We are trying something new for my 6-year-old, the Usborne Big Maze Book. It looks really cool. I will use a clear laminate sheet to put over the mazes, then Zach can use a dry erase marker to do the mazes multiple times.

Each child gets a 1″ binder to keep all of their activities. The binder can function as a hard writing surface. Binder coversheets (to make it pretty and fun) can be found here (let’s go on an adventure) and here (travel kit with cute cars on a road).

Things to include in the binder:

  • A blank map of the USA. Children can color each state as we drive through it.
  • 100 Would You Rather Questions: I will keep this in my binder, to use as conversation starters.
  • State Activity worksheets: We will be traveling through states that we have never been to before, so we are going to spend some time learning about them. I am putting together a basic worksheet for each state. The children can log the date that we visit the state, and how many miles we travel. Each page also includes a place to fill in basic state facts (capital city, flower, tree, animal, etc), some fun facts, the state flag, and something to color from these cute state doodles.
  • Blank Looseleaf pages: I will encourage my children to keep a daily journal. They can write, or draw pictures of our adventures.
  • Hole punch a manilla envelope or use a sheet protector: it will be a place to keep attraction brochures and ticket stubs.
  • Maps: print a map (or a few) showing your route. Children can trace along it and know how far without asking “Are we there yet?”
  • A pencil pouch: keep writing and coloring supplies contained. We prefer to use twistable color pencils so we don’t have to bother with sharpening pencils.

Games and Activities: insert these pages in a sheet protector, and use with dry erase markers. Then they can be used over and over again.

Other ways to pass the time:

  • Handheld devices/Movies. Use them when you need to. Enough said.
  • Audiobooks: check them out from the library, or try Audible. First up on our list to try is The Hobbit.
  • Good music: We created a road trip playlist for our iPod. Each person in the family gets to pick 10 songs to include.
  • Ribbon mileage tracker. Pin a ribbon along the inside of the van, with mileage increments pre-marked. Use a clothespin to move along a car marker to mark your accomplishments. Another 100 miles finished!
  • Celebrate a mileage marker with a joke. Put a stash of jokes in an envelope and let each child pick one to read aloud.
  • Small toys: Shop the house or visit the dollar store. I will try to have one small item for each day. Stickers, small animals, squishy balls, silly putty, etc.
  • Pipe cleaners: string cheerios or froot loops on them for a snack. Bend them into creations.
  • Sticky note pads: draw on them, stick them on the windows, etc.
  • Squiggle drawings on index cards: add a line, circle, or loop to a white index card and let the kids come up with what it might become.
  • Reusable sticker books/Window clings: we already have these books that haven’t been used for awhile, but they are great fun.
  • Mileage tracker: keep track of how many miles we drive in each day, and how many miles we drive in each state.
  • Conduct an experiment: what is the most common vehicle color? Make a hypothesis, collect data, report results.

Souvenir ideas:

  • Find a rock in each state. Use a sharpie to write the state abbreviation and the year on it.
  • Pressed pennies: My kids have been collecting these for years, they are inexpensive and make a great souvenir. Do a google search for “pressed penny” and the name of the state you are a visiting to see a listing of locations.

Encouraging good behavior:

  • Each child will have a clothespin clip, decorated with their initial. The clips go on the front visor and stay up for good behavior. Whiny, complaining, disagreeable behavior brings the clip down, and they miss the next fun activity.  We went to the craft store and each child chose a pack of stickers. Good behavior will be rewarded with a sticker at regular increments (every hour or 60 miles or 100 miles, etc).

Other sites with great ideas:

Road trip Boredom Busters for Kids on Good Things Realized

26 of the best car games and activities from Cool Mom Picks

Whew! That is a big list. What are your best tips for road trips?

Welcome baby

We are thrilled to welcome this sweet baby boy to our family!1-DSC_0055

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

-William Wordsworth

Truly, life is like a little bit of heaven with this wonderful family of mine!2-DSC_0011

Children Will Listen

Have you heard of the One Voice Children’s Choir? They are a choir for youth ages 4-17, based out of Utah, and they are pretty amazing. As a family we have enjoyed viewing a number of their online videos.

They recently released a cover of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods. I haven’t seen the movie or the broadway show, so I am not familiar with the song or how it fits into the plot. But as I watched the video I was struck by the words and their implication for parents.

“Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.
Children may not obey
But, children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say,
“Listen to me”.
Children will listen.”

Yes, our children do watch and listen to all that we say (even if it seems they don’t hear a word). Am I really saying the things and doing the things I want my children to hear and do? It is something to reflect on.

Feeling Grateful

I have great kids. Really. Today I am feeling especially grateful for three things:

1) For a ten-year-old daughter who will take a walk with me, and reach out to hold my hand.

2) For a seven-year-old daughter who loves to hear stories. She loves to be read to, and she loves to hear real stories from the past. She is prompting me to gather stories from our ancestors to share, since my personal stories are running dry! She is the first one to ask for scripture stories each night, encouraging us to do the reading we should be doing as a family.

3) For a four-year-old son who is so loving. He gives the best hugs and kisses, and he gives them often. He always has a kiss on my belly for his developing baby brother.

I just needed to record these sweet moments in my life, before they slip away in the day-to-day life. I love my family.

A Woman of Joy

A dear friend sent me this lovely card this year:1-DSC_0063She commented that I was like the “woman of joy” pictured on the cover. Her comment brought a smile to my face as I thought about the many reasons I have to be joyful.

1-DSC_0366I have joy with my husband. He is such a great support to me, and he shows me much love and kindness. I am so thankful that we are together…we make a great team!

IMG_0147I have joy with my children. Raising my children brings purpose and fulfillment to my life. While the day-to-day tasks may seem small (feeding, clothing, cleaning, teaching) the effects are far-reaching. The arms around my neck for a hug, the sticky and slobbery kisses, the bed-time stories and snuggles are moments to treasure.

IMG_0078I have joy in mothering and nurturing…especially the new spirit that will join our family in the spring.

lost-lamb-art-lds-425852-tabletI have joy in my Savior. Following the teachings and example of Jesus Christ bring great peace and comfort to me, showing the path that I should follow in this life.

I have joy in this Christmas Season, remembering that He Is the Gift.

Vacation to D.C.

Our family recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. Since we are currently spending a year living in North Carolina, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the capital of our country while we are just a short drive away.


Planning a trip to D.C. is a little overwhelming. There is just so much to see! The good news is that there are a ton of awesome free sites (hello Smithsonian!). The bad news is the traffic–parking is difficult, but we were super grateful for our GPS (seriously, how did anyone get anywhere before GPS??!!).

Before our trip we did a lot of research. I went to the library and browsed the Juvenile non-fiction section. I found a whole bunch of books on Washington, D.C., in the 975…section. I checked out 4-5, and spent a few weeks looking at the pictures with my youngest children. I tried to give them a preview of what we would see, so that the monuments would have a little more meaning. But honestly, I think the highlights of the trip for my three  year old and five year old was riding the elevator and seeing ducks in the pond.

I gave my eight-year-old daughter this book to read: A Kid’s Guide to Washington, D.C.


The book was engaging, and she enjoyed it. The background information she read helped to make the sites that we saw more meaningful.

Ice Cream Cone Trees (and a FHE lesson to go with it)

I’ve got about 10 different posts I would love to share with you this holiday season. Unfortunately, they are all still just written in my head. Time with my family and other projects are at a higher priority than blogging right now, so you’ll probably have to rely on my Pinterest boards to see the fun ideas we have been trying this year.  But here is quick idea I had to share: Ice Cream Cone Trees

Supplies Needed

Sugar ice cream cones

Frosting (tinted green)

Assorted candy: we used red and green M&Ms, mini marshmallows, and crushed candy canes. For the star on top we used a Reese’s Pieces.

The directions are simple: Spread the frosting on the cone, decorate with candy, and voila–instant Christmas tree! This activity was a hit with the entire family, from the 20 month old to the 31 year old.This little cutie did a lot more eating then decorating!This would make a great addition to a gingerbread house. I’ve been a little intimidated by the effort involved to make a gingerbread house and have yet to attempt that activity, but the trees were a great alternative for our family. You can visit this blog for fabulous patterns and tutorials if you are in the mood to make a gingerbread house.

Prior to doing this activity we had a Family Home Evening Lesson on the symbols of Christmas, provided by A Year of FHE. All around a great family activity!

Thanksgiving: Turkeys and other thoughts

Allow me to introduce….Tom the Turkey (nicknamed by the Ant Bug).

Isn’t he cute? I found the no sew tutorial for this adorable bird at Gwenny Penny. Her directions are very clear, and she provides a template for body parts (that red snood can be kinda tricky, you know). The body of her bird is made out of burlap, but I used felt for mine since I have a plethora of felt leftover from last years Christmas projects.

So…hurray for a Thanksgiving decoration! I am  a little lacking in the “Thanksgiving decor” department right now, but I’m sure my girls will have me well supplied in turkey art before the end of the month.

I’ve got a few other Thanksgiving projects on the brain right now. I definitely want to make time for a few handprint turkeys (like this one or this one or this one). I do have to give  a shout out to the Ant Bug who made her first handprint turkey of the season on  November 2nd.

I get to host a Thanksgiving themed preschool next week, so I’ll probably nab some activities from this preschool packet at 1plus1plus1equals1.

Last year we had great fun playing Don’t Eat Tom, a variation of Don’t Eat Pete provided by Prepared Not Scared.The girls were pretty excited to see the game board again this year, and we’ve already played a round.

I haven’t planned the rest of the menu yet, but at least I know what dessert will be on Thanksgiving: Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake, courtesy of Our Best Bites, of course! A cheesecake and pumpkin combo that is making my mouth water…maybe I should make a test version this weekend…

Are you on Pinterest yet? I’ve been finding lots of fun things there. You can take a look at anything that has intrigued me (Thanksgiving themed or otherwise!) by clicking here or on the link on the right and taking a look at my boards.

What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?


A simple Tangled birthday party

This week the Sweet Bee turned four years old. She is a sweet funny girl, and I love the funny things that she says.Tangled is her favorite movie, so that was the theme of her party. Parties are very small and simple affairs at our house, more along the lines of a “play date with a theme”. There are so many ideas available online, so the party was pretty easy to plan. The best resources I found came from 3 sites:

Plucky Momo

Supermom Moments


Our invitations were simple: Flynn Ryder Wanted Posters. I forgot to take a picture, but I copied the template here on Plucky Momo.


I was hoping for some inexpensive lanterns to hang from the ceiling, but I struck out at the dollar store. My next plan was to hang balloons from the ceiling with glow sticks inside (inspired by this post I saw on pinterest), but when it came down to it, the result just looked like a glow stick inside a balloon. Not as cool as I had hoped. We ended up just hanging the balloons and the glow sticks separately from the ceiling, and it looked okay. Kids are always happy with balloons anyway!


As the guests arrived (dressed in their favorite princess attire), the girls spent some time coloring in their homemade Tangled coloring book. I just googled Tangled images online, then compiled and formatted the images to make a book. Hole punch in the corner, tied with yellow ribbon to keep it together.While the kids were coloring I took one child at a time to put together a Pascal party blower (complete directions found here). I helped them stick the foam together and I used hot glue to secure a googly eye, and then the children drew their own faces.The obvious party game we had to play was “pin the frying pan on Flynn Ryder”.  Wanted poster are easy to find online, and then you can get the frying pan templates here.Food

Snacks were simple: grapes and pretzels, served in a frying pan.The cake needed to be a tower of course. I saw a bunch of complicated ideas online that involved things like pecan rolls, cupcakes, ice cream cones, wooden dowels and frosting. I opted for something much simpler: donuts!

The base is a green floral craft foam. I just wrapped it up in pretty wrapping paper. I made the tower support with wooden skewers (the kind you use for shishkabobs on the grill); I stuck one skewer in, then taped another skewer on at the top to reach the desired length. Slide on the donuts. I topped it with a purple cone and added some ribbons. Definitely the easiest “cake” I have ever made.Favors

What does Rapunzel do in all those long hours in the tower? She paints! So party favors were simple: paints and a brush (and the coloring book and a balloon and glow stick).

This party was easy to put together, and lots of fun for my little girl. The Ant Bug has already decided that she wants the same Tangled party for her birthday in a few months.

An inspiring family on Extreme Makeover Home Edition

This week I was contacted by a representative from Extreme Makeover Home Edition and I was invited to preview an upcoming episode of the tv show. I have to admit, I haven’t ever watched a complete episode of the show before, but this episode was worth watching. This week’s show (airing Sunday, October 2nd) is a moving episode featuring a family from Utah. The Gomez family is a single mom with two cute children, and one of the children suffers from a rare blood disorder. It was amazing to watch the donations and volunteers come together to build a beautiful home for the Gomez family. My children were oohing and aahing over some of the fun features included in the play area  of the house (hint: a fun whirly swirly!).

The best thing about this episode is the awareness that the show is bringing to the rare disorder that Jonah (the son) is diagnosed with. With the help of Major League Soccer, they spread the word to thousands and gave many people the opportunity to volunteer to be a donor. After watching the show you’ll want to be a donor too!

So after watching General Conference this weekend, you might want to check out Extreme Makeover Home Edition.