Kidecals – My Review of their labels!

Let me start off by saying that I was given a free sheet of Kidecals labels to try in return for my review. All opinions are completely my own and I am not being compensated in any other way.Kidecals

Having four kids you can imagine that keeping each of their items straight (because heaven forbid they have to share their favorite cup) can be difficult. Add in that they all are going to school, then the reality sets in that we loose their things, often. I’ve always tried to stick to assigning a color to each kid but what happens with the four pack of tooth brushes comes with 1 blue, 1 green, and 2 pinks…well the youngest ends up with a pink but more importantly he spends every morning and evening fighting with this sister about which tooth brush is his. So when I was approached to try the Kidecals labels I was more than eager for all of these reasons!

I decided to have a sheet of labels made with my youngest son’s name. He just started preschool so he has to take an extra set of clothes, sippy cup, shoes, lunch and backpack every day. Since we were supposed to label all of those items I quickly found many items to use the labels on. Like his tooth brush…that matches his sisters.

Sippy cup

I used the labels on every single thing of his for school. I must say I am very happy with the labels!! His sippy cup has been through at least three dishwashing cycles and the Kidecals label is still holding on strong. Last week he had a potty accident at school so they put him in his extra set of clothes. I washed those clothes at the end of the day completely forgetting I had Kidecals labels on them. They went through the washer and the dryer and came out completely attached to the clothing and looking just as new as the day I put them on the clothes. (Side note: He can’t read yet but he recognizes his label which is helping him identify his name!)

Shoes   Lunch box    Ready for school

Their website was easy to navigate. I was able to choose the label I wanted, customize it, and put in my order all in less than 10 minutes (would have been quicker if I wouldn’t have had such a hard time deciding which design to choose)! Actually I am so pleased with these labels I am going to put in an order for each of my kids a sheet of their own labels!! The OCD side of me is in heaven! 😉

Kidecals has so many great labels to choose from. You can check out their Instagram  and Twitter OR search the hashtags #kidecals and #labelitdontloseit to see lots of different ways to use their lables. They offer free shipping! My order was processed and shipped very quickly! I highly suggest checking them out if you haven’t already!
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Lost Child Prevention & Plan

Lost Child Prevention PlanAs I prepared for our trip to Disney World I was telling some friends about the measures I put in place in the instance one of my children should get separated from us. One friend said “Have you lost one of your children somewhere before?”… No, no I haven’t but I like to prepare for anything. They were impressed with the plan I have in place with my kids.

If you’re like me you start to panic a little the moment you look around and can’t count enough little heads to add up to number of children you brought. It only takes a second for a child to get lost, but it feels like an eternity before you locate them, whether for a minute or an hour. Keeping my kids by my side is ideal, however at a busy zoo or amusement park that doesn’t always happen. My kids know exactly what to do if they can’t find us.

Here is our family plan of action:

  • Take a picture of them in the morning with your cell phone. This gives you a quick reference for an accurate description of their clothing. It also gives park workers an updated photo to share and use to locate your child.
  • Try to dress your children and/or entire family in a similar color. I like to put them in bright colors and have them all matching so I can easily spot them. 
  • Give your children a plan of action as soon as you enter the park. Every single time we enter an amusement park, museum, zoo, etc we point out several workers. We then remind them that if they get separated from us to find a worker right away. If they can’t find a worker they should find a mom with kids to ask for help finding a worker. (Some parents have a meeting spot or show their children the ‘lost parents’ area but we choose not to because our kids are young enough I don’t want them wondering the park trying to find this spot.)
Park Safety Tips

Here I dressed three of us in bright green and the other two in bright blue.

What my kids know!

  • Never ever leave the park without us, not even with a worker. This is important because I had a friend’s child go to their car to wait for them when she got separated from her parents. They looked for her for 3 hours before parking security spotted her and notified the park workers!
  • Know their parents phone number and names! My older children have our phone numbers memorized and all of our children know our names. If they are too young to memorize this then have temporary tattoos with your number made to wear! (Search Etsy to find lots of options.)
  • Don’t try searching for us alone. Kids will often try to find their parents on their own which will just make things worse. Our children know they should not try to find us or wonder around the park. Staying in one area will help us find them quicker.
    Emergency Contact tattoos

    My children each wore one of these every day at Disney World. It has my cell phone number that I carry in the parks with us.

    I know how stressful it can be at a busy place with little ones so hopefully you can use some of these tips on your next adventure!

Have a great summer!!
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Anticipation and wait is over…preschool has STARTED!

1st day of prekMy youngest two had to wait almost two weeks after their older siblings started school to start preschool AND IT ALMOST DID US ALL IN! They were so anxious to go to school they made me take them everywhere with their back packs on. Every night they would beg me to lay their school clothes. Finally after talking/prepping them for the big day it arrived!

They spent all morning to excited to want to eat. We left the house way earlier than needed. Arrived at the school where they took a picture in front of the cute chalk board the director made. Then headed off to their classrooms. Where they both FROZE! They didn’t cry but they clung to dad and I as we tried to get their items put in their cubbies.

Becca was a little more receptive to letting go of us once we started saying good bye (probably because she has done this before). She ended up getting a ‘star’ sticker for sharing and being helpful in class. Actually every day they tell me how pleasant she is in class!….I’d love to see that girl at home…just saying… She is doing great an the worksheets and projects during class too! Oh and she already has like 3 songs memorized from circle time and she has only been to school 3 days…one smart cookie I have!

Kaedyn on the other hand was not really wanting us to leave but also wasn’t upset…just nervous. I played by him for a minute then when he was distracted I walked out and said “Love you, bye”. He didn’t say anything back nor did they have any problems with him crying during the day. He had one potty accident at school but other than that was PERFECT! Every school day since then he has not had any accidents and has been great! They have no complaints and say he is very pleasant in class, helpful, follows directions and NAPS! (All preschool teachers love napping kids! 😉

1st day collage

I LOVE this collage I made. In the middle row you can see at the top Kaed is asking Becca what her sign says. The next one down she is telling him. The bottom row is from their actual first day. The other photos in front of the bush were taken on meet the teacher night because I was afraid I’d forget to have them hold their signs the morning of their 1st day.

You can read all about the older two’s first day of school HERE and where I found these cute picture signs! PLUS how my oldest homeschooling is coming along HERE. Also read about why we chose a charter school for our son HERE!
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My Kids Review of Pleygo!

Pleygo creation finished. Lots of fun!Have you heard of Pleygo? It is like Net-flix for Legos! You can read more about it here. My boys got to try it this week…they LOVED it! **Disclaimer: We were given a 3 month free trial to Pleygo in exchange for my blog posts/review of the product. All opinions are 100% our own!

Here is how it worked for us. September 10th I signed us up and put 10 Lego sets on our want to try list. By Thursday the 12th we had received our first set in the mail. Friday after school I brought the boys home, opened the package, went over the Pleygo instructions, then let them have fun creating. A couple hours later they emerged with a fully built Lego set. They have been playing with it ever since…even opting out of ‘free screen time’ to play Legos!Pleygo start to finish!

This is the first Lego set they have assembled all by themselves. I am very proud of them. They followed the directions to create a masterpiece!

I would recommend Pleygo to parents with children that enjoy Legos. My boys are 6, 7, and 8…they along with their younger siblings love Legos and love the idea that they can “check out” a different set of Legos as often as they would like, trying lots of sets and not getting bored with the same ones we already own.

"We Like Pleygo!"

Here are my kids reviews straight from their mouths… “I like that I can try a new set of Lego’s without having to buy it every time.” “This is great because if we don’t like a set we haven’t wasted any money on buying it!” “I like playing Legos a LOT so this is perfect!”

Pleygo has different price options for their monthly membership. Check out their website at www.pleygo.com for more details. (They also offer the option to buy the set which would be great if your children loved the set and didn’t want to return it for a different set.) For my kids trading sets every couple weeks is perfect! It also gives us the option to include some sets for their sister so she can explore and build from time to time too! 

Don’t just take our word for it…go try Pleygo for yourself! I bet you’ll love it just as much as we do! Receive your First Month FREE at  http://www.usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?bid=11329&dealid=1389®ionid=75 or directly at www.Pleygo.com to register!

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Happiness Is…. Finally back at this!

After slacking off all summer of linking up with Lisa, at Crazy Adventures in Parenting, I am back! The week has been full of getting back into the routine of school but we are off to a great start. Here are our #HappinessIs moments this week…

Happiness Is… Going back to school! We love our 1st grader’s new charter school and my 3rd grader loves homeschooling this year! The younger two start school next week!

back to school time

Happiness Is… Finding not one but two purses I like at Khol’s on sale and using my Khol’s cash!! $26 for both of these is a steal of a deal (which was my birthday money from early this month)!

new purses

Happiness Is.. Jif Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter with Pretzels for an afternoon snack!

jif and pretzels

Happiness Is… Finding a dress you wore as a baby, putting it on yourself, and showing mom how much you’ve grown in 3 years!

baby dress

What are you #HappinessIs moments? Did your kids go back to school…was that HappinessIs moment for you or sad day?

Hope you all have a great week full of lots of Happy Moments!!

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And the adventure begins…

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We decided to split our 14-20 hour drives in half by staying the night half way. So from Texas to Georgia we are stopping in Louisiana. On our drive from Georgia to Ohio we are staying in North Carolina. Then on our way from Ohio to home we are staying in Tennessee. Having 5 kids under 8 in the van with us we knew that we couldn’t push them much past 10 hours before we’d start to get major meltdowns.

One of the fun ways we kept the kids from asking “Are we there yet?” every five minutes was with a banner I idea I got from The Dating Divas. I used the free printable to add major cities and state lines along our route for each of the four trips we are making. When we went through an area that I had written on the printable cards we had a little mini celebration and talked about what are we are going to drive through next.

For my banners I just took ribbon I had on hand, cut the papers out, wrote out 10 spots from start to finish along each major road trip, then stapled the papers to the ribbon (they have a spot to hole punch them but I was worried little ones would mess with them so instead I stapled). Then in the van I tied one end to the front ceiling handle and one to the rear handle so it is visible to everyone in the car. I also printed a full map of our entire 3300+ mile road trip so the kids can see how far we are going/have been already! I made all of my banners ahead of time and stuck them in a ziplock to tie up when we needed them (since we will be staying 5 days in Georgia and 5 days in Ohio and not doing our trips consecutively).

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Don’t forget to check out my other Road Trip Tips!!
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Road Trips: Packing Efficient for Big Family (Final Part in my Road Trip Series)

road tripI have changed the way I pack significantly over the years. I like to be able to pull each person’s clothes out for the day in a jiffy so each child can get dressed and ready for the day. I also have found that I like the kids bathroom essentials with my bathroom essentials so I can easily get to them all at one time for morning or night routines.1-IMG_4620

For this trip we will be making overnight stops on our drives so I have one medium duffel bag that is an overnight bag while the other bags are for our longer stays in Georgia and Ohio. The other medium duffel is for my younger two kids and the suit case is for hubby and I (in this case it is just mine so I added the kids sweaters and all of the bathroom essentials to my bag).

For each child I set out 7 outfits, 7 socks, 7 underwear, 4 pajamas, and 2 swim suits. Each outfit along with a pair of socks and undies goes into a ziplock bag. This saves me time when we get to our destinations and it saves room. I put all pajamas in one ziplock and both swim suits in a ziplock for each child. My four children share two different bags but it includes everything they need for an entire week, including diapers, wipes, and night time pull-ups.1-clothes-002

On the bottom of my older boys duffel bag I pack all our beach essentials; towels, swim shoes, sunscreen, hats, swim diapers, and a flattened bag. Then in the top portion is my boys clothes.1-IMG_4613

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The only other bags we have are these…

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Just the kids Busy Binders, gaming device bag, a couple bins with new road trip games/toys, and then our food for the road (which will be in a small cooler but is not pictured here).

Now we are off on our Road Trip Adventure! First stop is Baton Rouge, LA followed by Georgia to see family! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep track of our road trip journey!

I will try to post as often as possible over the next two weeks about our trip plus I have some GREAT scheduled posts coming up too!

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Road Trips: Cutting Food Costs (Part 2 of my Road Trip Series)

road trip

I am all about saving money while on the road. I also like the ease of having our own foods on hands and since those to things go so well together I thought I’d share some ideas we use to save money on food for road trips!

How I save money while on a road trip…

Muffins

Breakfast on the Road: Bake muffins ahead of time and package in baggies to eat on the road. Make little throw away fruit cups with fresh fruit ahead of time. Individual small bags of cereal are great for toddlers served in a snack trap.

Lunchables

Lunch on the Road: Things we eat on the road for lunch are; *PB&J’s, **homemade lunchables, fruit, veggies, chips, and drinks. 

*Make PB&J’s with an entire loaf of bread, cut into shapes or squares, put each sandwich in a baggie, then place them all back in the loaf bag and freeze over night. Put in the cooler and pass out as needed for lunch or snacks on the road!

**Slice up a block of cheese into squares, cut up lunch meat & pepperoni into shapes, put 6-10 cheese and meat in each baggie, then in a separate baggie put 6-10 crackers. AT lunch pass each person a bag of meat, cheese and crackers.

I PREPACKAGE ALL OF OUR VEGGIES AND FRUITS INTO SMALL BAGGIES FOR QUICK EATING ON THE ROAD WHICH PAIR GREAT WITH LUNCH.

Drinks on the Road: We avoid sugary drinks and instead try to stick to a lot of water but I do let my children have a couple Gatorades or flavored water with their meals. I freeze most of our drinks over night then place in the cooler the morning of the trip to help keep the other items colder longer. I always travel with sippy cups of milk for each child, especially for my toddler who is lactose intolerant.  

Snacks

Snacks on the Road: I like to take an entire box of gold fish, crackers, toddler puffs, fruit snacks, raisins, etc and sort them into individual snack size bags ahead of time. I usually make every child two bags of each snack per day we will be on the road. It’s also a good idea to put little special treats like gummy bears, lollipops, and licorice in snack sized bags ahead of time too! (This helps prevent my kids from thinking we need to buy something when we stop for potty breaks and it also prevents fights about sharing.)

Avoid buying food at convenient stores…they are the most expensive there. Instead make a quick stop at a grocery store if you run low on food or drinks.

Dinner… We typically will stop for dinner at a diner, restaurant, or fast food place if we have been on the road all day (see my tips below to save money buying food). If we start driving late in the day I treat dinner just as I would lunch on the road…sandwiches, lunchables, fruit, veggies, and a drink.

If we stop at any restaurants I try to have coupons on hand to save money. Or stop at places that kids eat free. I also try to buy individual food items rather than meals at fast food places then I use our own drinks and snacks to supplement the rest of the meal (so long as we will be in the car eating).

My next post will be up later this week which will highlight how I organize our clothes in our luggage to streamline our daily routine while vacationing!


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Road Trip Tips (Part 1 of my Road Trip Series)

road trip

My family and I will be taking a 3300+ mile two week road trip this month. Being a family of six we tend to road trip vs. plane or other transportation. We can save a lot of money while traveling via our mini van. Actually before we were a family of six we chose to road trip…we just enjoy the open road and sight seeing along the way to our destination. We have made so many road trips as a family that I have now made many 10+ hour trips alone with my four kids from the time they were little.

I get asked a LOT about how I stay so organized on our road trips. I must admit that some of my best ideas have come from other bloggers I found on Pinterest but prior to Pinterest I found ways to stay organized, while keeping the family happy on the road.

Here are  my best tips for road tripping (with or without kids)…

1-IMG_4461Food & Toys Baskets: Found at Dollar Tree these baskets are perfect for putting an entire meal in on the road. They are also great for holding kids toys, gaming devices, books, crayons, and anything else you can think of to keep in arms reach of your children. I originally saw this on Pinterest from Lookie What I Did .

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Games: Along with the gaming devices my children already have, my daughter is turning 4 on Thursday (which we will be driving on her birthday), I found a great deal for a LeapPad Explorer 60% off at Target that she will be receiving Thursday. I also found TONS of $1 travel games at Dollar Tree this week!

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Toys: Each child gets to pick 5 small toys to take with them. I limit it to 5 because when we are staying in several hotels and are on the road I want everyone to easily find their 5 toys and put them in their back pack. This also makes them decide what toys are most important to them rather than just packing my van full of their stuff. I also keep a container of new inexpensive toys and books for my toddler and preschooler to give them along the way. AND we all know that we are bound to get a few things at gift shops along our trip.

Clothes Pin Behavior Clips: I originally saw this idea on Pinterest and you can read about it here at Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss I am not as fancy as her to I just wrote my kids names on a clothespin and clip them to the visor. HOWEVER I will only be doing this for my toddler and preschooler. My older boys will be receiving tickets that I’ll explain next.

Good Behavior Tickets: I’ve seen two posts on this travel ticket idea HERE and HERE. I am planning to change it up a bit by giving my older boys good behavior tickets for when I note good behavior (i.e.helpful with younger siblings, sharing, using their car voice). They will get a ticket at each stop so long as I didn’t have to get onto them for bad behavior. They will keep their tickets in their binder pocket during the trip. Each ticket is worth $.50 and at the end of the trip they can buy something special! Money is now a big incentive to my older boys so I think this will work perfect! BTW: I am just using plain raffle tickets bought on a roll at Target or WalMart.

Back of van organization

Back of the Seat Organizers: Each of my four children have these organizers from Rubbermaid from WalMart. They have lots of slots for books, crayons, pencils, toys, cups and snacks. PLUS they top section opens up into a flat surface to draw, eat, read, etc! It is perfect for them. I also have the entire back of my van organized so that I am never left stranded with out a needed item.

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Fun papers Worksheets

Road Trip Busy Binders: On my vacation board on Pinterest you will see that I have found lots of great ideas to put together the perfect Road Trip Busy Binders. My kids binders include worksheets, fun papers torn out of coloring books, and games in plastic sleeves so they can use dry erase markers on them then wipe away and play again! I gathered these great ideas from Six Sisters Stuff, Dating Divas, Moms Minivan, Prepared Not Scared, Gluesticks Blog, and 30 Hand Made Days.

Pit Stops: We try to take as little stops as possible and maximize our time when we do stop. We let the kids out, use the restrooms, stretch, clean the car of all trash and put toys/books/etc back in their bags, get gas, give everyone a drink/snack from the cooler, and head back out on the road. We have stops down to a science. As soon as I pull off the Interstate I prep my kids by having them place their shoes on, then as soon as we stop we run through the list above before heading back out on the road.

EXTRAS:

  • My children each get to bring their pillow pet, a stuffed animal, and a blanket from home.Their stuffed animal must fit in their backpack with their 5 toys to help with car clutter.
  • I keep a bucket for trash in each row of the van. Kids must clean out their trash at every stop.
  • We have a dvd player in our van with dual screens so my children get to watch a couple moves each day we travel.
  • I limit gaming device time to 30 minutes for every 3 hours traveled. We also make a list and rotate the gaming devices so there is no “unfairness” going on.

 Check back tomorrow for my tips on how to save money on the road!

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Throwback Thursday- July Birthday Babies

My oldest son turns 8 on July 25th and my daughter turns 4 on July 17th, so I decided to post some throwback pictures of them this week.

This is just a few of the many expressive photos I have of my daughter…

My oldest is a fun loving kid that is ready for a party at any second. Here are some throw back photos of him.

The two of them both have a lot in common and most of the time get along great. They make perfect buddies. These two pictures sum up their relationship!

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Here he is holding her at just a few days old.1-DSC06147

Just about to turn 5 and 1 here you can see how much fun they have together!

I sure am blessed to have these two amazing kids in my life. They each have such unique personalities but they are the perfect little people for our fun loving family. I love that they both take life by the horns, try new things daily, and really push themselves to the brink. They clearly have a love for thrills. I am blessed to be their mom! I can’t way to see how their personalities develop more over their life!

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