30 August 2010

Tracey’s List of Things You Can Get By Without on an Airplane Trip:

Baby/Toddler:  milk and water (they’ll have plenty on the plane), toys (make use of the magazines in the seat pocket and the pouches that you packed everyone’s stuff in)

Elementary Children:  balls, cars, and other toys that can roll away, games or toys with many small parts, pillows and large blankets (use the ones they give you), tie shoes (too much work when they have to go to the bathroom – wear crocs or slip-ons)

Mom/dad:  don’t bother packing much of anything for yourself except basic survival items – too much to carry

29 August 2010

Tracey’s List of Must Have Airplane Trip Items:

Baby/Toddler:  Diapers, lots of wipes (for the blowout that will happen either right before or right after you must fasten your seatbelt), hand sanitizer, baby food/snacks, formula if needed, socks, sippy cup, pacifier, 2 changes of clothes, blanket or lovey, carseat (for a place to strap them in if nothing else)

Elementary Children:  Video games, headphones (invest in ones that fit or you’ll spend your whole trip readjusting), extra batteries, paper, markers, cards, sweatshirt, socks, extra clothes, blanket or stuffed animal

Mom/dad:  book or magazine (but don’t expect to have any time to read it), toothbrush and toothpaste, sweater, ipod and headphones

We love love love the Trunki suitcases we have for our two boys.  It’s a hard sided suitcase on 4 wheels that doubles as a ride on toy.  I have no affiliation with them whatsoever, but I cannot tell you how wonderful they have been for us.  They have been to the other side of the world and back, have held up beautifully, and have provided hours of entertainment when waiting at airports, for taxis, etc.  And they hold like 5 gallons worth of stuff – check them out!

28 August 2010

Airplane Travel

For various reasons our whole family was not able to sit together on the plane for our flight to Europe.  So, I got the boys in the back and my husband got the baby in the extra leg room section.  Since he’s tall I figured he could deal with the toddler who won’t sleep.  Although it turns out we both got the shaft in that arena, since the boys were so excited that they had their own televisions and headphones they watched Toy Story 2 all the way to Europe.

Anyway, my point is there is a lot to be said for everyone having their own carry-on while flying.  It may seem more efficient to combine things into one bag, but in the end you spend more time rooting through that gigantic bag than if you just carried a few smaller bags.  And for us, it was easier to separate when it came time to do so on the plane.

If you don’t want to go that route, at least use packing cubes or smaller pouches inside of the larger bag.  Color code or label each person’s pouch so it can be easily found when the baby needs a diaper or the older boy wants his book.

Finally, if your kids are like mine, they won’t use half the toys you pack, so after you pack, go through again and streamline.  If you are on a long flight, there will be a movie.  If it is an evening flight, they will hopefully sleep.  And there are always snacks.

27 August 2010


Well, we live in the Netherlands now.  We went on vacation, said our goodbyes, and hopped on a plane.  We are in a temporary house, but we don’t have regular internet access.  I will do what I can, but please keep checking back, even if I can’t always post.  I’ve learned a lot about traveling and moving, especially with children!  Someone should benefit from all this new found knowledge.

18 August 2010

Moving Time

Tomorrow my family boards a plane to move to the Netherlands.  The day is finally here, and it's hard to believe.

One quick word to let you know I'm still around.  I don't have much to say except this:  in the end, no matter how much you organize or plan, something will be forgotten.

And it doesn't really matter.  Forgotten things can be bought.  Money is just money.  We have our passports, plane tickets, and a ride to the airport.  We will end up in the Netherlands.

And we're having fun along the way.  Today we abandoned our packing and planning and spent the day doing fun things with the kids.  Because that is more important than every article of clothing being folded just so.

So, sayonara USA.  Halo, Nederland.

15 August 2010

On The Road Again

Well, here we are traveling again.  But by this time next week we will be settling in to our new home in the Netherlands.

As you can see, posts are still spotty, but I'm still here.  It all just depends on my internet access and when I can find a spare moment.

As I'm traveling with young children (and until today no husband), I am reminded again of the benefits of planning my packing.  I typically don't like to pack ahead of time.  I kind of go with the mantra, "If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute."  Which is true, but throwing things together at the last minute is a guarantee of chaos at some point.  And nothing is worse than frantically throwing the suitcase open to find the beloved stuffed animal while kid #3 is crying because she's overtired and needs it right now.  Not that it's ever happened to me...

The point is, it pays to plan ahead.  We have several bags with us, but our 1 night in the hotel room tonight does not require us to unload the entire car.  Taking the time to plan 1 or two nights' worth of supplies and putting it all into 1 bag goes a long way to keeping the trip smooth and chaos-free.

Oh, and my absolute necessity for the children?  Packing cubes!  1 large cube for each child (or maybe two each for the older ones, depending on size of cube and size of child's clothing) makes for a super easy pack job!  And each child can access his or her own clothing without dismantling the entire suitcase.

11 August 2010

Work Backwards

In the midst of all this moving we're doing, we have a lot of things to do.  And it usually happens like this:

Guess at a timeline
Make tentative plans
Change those plans
Hurry hurry hurry!  Everything has to be done now!

It's not our fault, it's just how things work when you get ready to move.  But the frustrating part is that we still have to plan.  Even with no information.  Otherwise there will never be time to get everything done.

So, we've found the easiest way to deal with all the unknowns is to develop a backwards timeline.  Put due dates on a calendar, last to first.  We always use a physical paper calendar, even with all of our technology. Sometimes there is no replacement for good old pen and paper.  In this case, though, it would be pencil and paper.  Then we figure out each prior due date in order to accomplish the final step (in this case, the date we get on an airplane to move to Europe).

We make a to-do list for each due date as we determine it.  This helps us from being overwhelmed with a huge list.  We do put everything into a master list when we're finished, but it is more a collection of small, manageable steps rather than a big chaotic list that just tends to paralyze.

This can be applied to many situations.  The key is to figure out your end result, and when.  A garage sale in 4 weeks?  The guest bedroom presentable in time for the visitors?  Write it down.  Then break it down.  Then make due dates for each piece.  Then break it down some more until it is simple, manageable, and has concrete action steps.

Make sense?  Good.  Now get to work!

10 August 2010


Little Chefs

My kiddos love to help cook.  I can't say it's the most efficient way to get dinner on the table, but I try to let them help me whenever I can.  However, in order to keep things orderly, I institute a few rules.

1.  Wear aprons!

2.  Get ingredients out first.  Great thing to let them do.

3.  Take turns (of course).  Divide the ingredients between the children, as well as the steps.  

4.  I always stand between the kids for easy access to each one.  

5.  Vary which aspect you get help with.  Will it be measuring, pouring, mixing, etc?  Add a little more responsibility every time you cook.

6.  Chill 

7.  Make sure the kids help clean up too - that's part of cooking

Cooking is a great way to encourage teamwork, math skills, and upper body coordination (think holding a big bowl and stirring).  I always recommend cooking activities to parents of children I work with, and with just a little pre-planning, it can be a fun and non-stressful experience for everyone.  Just be sure to keep it simple - no Julia Child or Iron Chef.  At least not until the kids can clean up for themselves.

09 August 2010

I'm Baaack

Wow.  Being unplugged for a week was awesome.  I highly recommend it.  You wouldn't believe how much fun my kids had wandering in the woods, building campfires, geocaching (GREAT kid activity, google it!), and generally spending the day outside being dirty.


Consider this my Forget It Friday.

Every once in a while, forget all technology.  Go offline.  Turn off the phone, tv, computer, and anything else with a screen.  Forget the email.  The regular mail.  The To-Do list.  The kitchen.

Go outside.

Sit in the grass.

Eat watermelon.

Look at the stars.

03 August 2010


Well, it's been a few days, hasn't it?  That's because the movers have gone, the house has been turned over to the landlords, and Mclean, VA is but a memory.

And now I am controlling my chaos by unplugging for a week in Canaan Valley, WV.  No internet, no cell phones, nothing, nada.  It is glorious.  This is my one and only post to say that I am not going to post for a few days.  I'll be back to civilization next Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Or...