I May Have Created a Monster

Well. Who knew that a getaway was exactly what we needed?
Okay, me. 
I cannot believe how much my hubby and I crammed into our 2.75 days alone.
First off, my kids survived and thrived. We are picking up my oldest from camp first thing Thursday morning before heading back to Texas. I know she will be smitten with her own getaway, even though the camp nurse called to tell me she lost her mouth appliance.
Good thing I missed her so much.
My mother-in-law survived the toddler and called her a delight.  
(Because this is the key to another getaway….) Although, I will be the first to admit that it didn’t take our 2 year old 10 minutes to throw a humdinger of a fit. It makes me feel proud that she welcomed us home so vocally.
And my son didn’t even know we were gone. He filled his days with boy cousins and dirt.
Our getaway highlights:
My hubby and I watched THREE movies at a real-live movie theatre. We ate at very kid-unfriendly places. We shopped during nap time. I fell in love (like the rest of the world) with a bunch of vampires (I’m on book 3) and didn’t mind at all that my hubby drove around Tulsa in circles without asking for directions, while I read.  Oh, and my hubby had his first pedicure with me. 
(I’m pretty sure I’ve created a monster on that last one. He wants to know when we can go again!)
Oh, and we reignited the spark for at least another 15 years.
My suggestion for you: If a getaway is completely out of the question for you and your spouse, plan an entire day to getaway. From 9 am to 9 pm on the first day, we discovered something we’d lost along the way:  each other. Our kids demand so much of our attention and we could feel the stress melt away…Make it happen. You’ll be glad you did!
P.S. There’s a little contest going on over in my forum. Just introduce yourself and you’ll be entered to win a $25 Target gift card. Reply to others and you’ll be entered multiple times!

WFMW: Tips for Traveling with Kids

(I published this post last year, but since I’m on a road trip this week and had to refer to this list, I thought it would be helpful for your summer trips too). 

I started to call this list “The Ultimate Stress-Free Traveling (With Kids) Guide.”
But, I’m a mom of three and the words ‘stress-free and kids’, don’t exactly go together. Especially when you’re traveling.
Know what I mean?

We have a couple of small trips planned and so I created this list out of necessity.  Because frankly, driving 250 miles to Family Camp, isn’t exactly relaxing with a screaming toddler.
Here’s a list of some ideas for your next road trip. Maybe one of these or 23 of them will help!
Most of these are items to be taken on a road trip, although many will work for flying too.
  • Audio books (my library checks them out) or you can download them here
  • Ice chest w/drinks
  • DVD player, preferably with movies that haven’t been seen
  • We’ve been driving our smaller less gas-consuming car that doesn’t have a built-in TV.  So, we strap our laptop on an ice chest with a bungee, so the kids can watch a movie. (Yeah, we are THAT family).
  • Bag or backpack with coloring books and small toys for each child.  
  • This site says pack a plastic box for kids personal things and then use the lid as a tray to eat on.
  • Lap Desk for writing and drawing
  • Headphones for MP3 players and/or DVD player
  • Kid’s camera 
  • Sketch pad/pencil
  • Extra change of clothes, separate from luggage.  Because if it can happen, it probably will.
  • If you’re traveling with a toddler, leave when they are tired.  If you leave first thing in the morning, this is their active time and they don’t make the best travelers
  • A package of pipe cleaners (to bend, twist and create)
  • Pack paper towels, wipes, and a couple of blankets.  Remember, we’re talking kids.
  • Buy $5 Tape Recorder and ‘Read’ stories to your kids in your own voice
  • Put a trash box in the back seat
  • Travel Journal
  • Sing silly road trip songs
  • Travel games from the store  (Target has some great ones in the stationary section that are cheap and magnetic!)
  • Travel freebies-links to free stuff for traveling
  • Play the I spy game with license plates
  • Wipe-off white board/marker
  • Magnetic sets (paper dolls, fire trucks, found in book sections)
  • Snack bag filled with pre-portioned zip-lock bags of non-messy foods
  • Kid’s music
  • Tin foil for creations
  • Play Go Fish
  • Make string figures
  • Check out these awesome games (like Noah’s Ark, Build a Story and Fooler, Fooler) to play in the car!
  • Kids pillow and blanket
  • Treasure Jar
  • Rest Stop Box-stock with jump rope, frisbee, inflatable beach ball and Nerf ball, according to July’s issue of Parents Magazine.  
  • They also encourage travelers to ‘crank up the radio, open the doors and have an outdoor dance-a-thon).
  • Printable Car Trip Check List
  • Child-safety scissors and paper (it worked on a long flight w/my preschooler)
  • Invisible markers/Magic paper
  • Chalk Cloth Oil Mat
  • Moon sand on a tray
  • Post It Notes-draw on them, then decorate the car (Women’s Day, July Issue)
  • Spill-proof Bubbles (yes, in the car.  My toddler loves this).
  • Printable Car Bingo
  • Stickers
  • Band-aids (again a toddler-pleaser)
  • Leapster, DS Lite or hand-held game
  • Magna Doodle
  • Cookie sheet with magnetic alphabet letters
  • The following incredible ideas came from MomsMinivan:  travel tickets, surprise packages, and more (Actually EVERY idea on this site is amazing!)
  • Printable Boredom Busters
  • I spy bags/jars
  • Ear plugs for when the “how much longer questions begin”

Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share? I’d love for you to join us! Please note that the links will close at 8 pm CST tonight, in order to keep away the spammers!

Please mark your calendar for next week’s themed edition: “Best Summer Recipes!”
Links have now closed. Please join us again next week.

Works for Me Wednesday Participants

1. Susan @ Practicing Thrift (custom picture frame)
2. Raising Olives (magnetic wall)
3. Cents to Get Debt Free (A Secret!)
4. exhale. return to center. (creating breathing space)
5. Amy @ Finer Things (Avoid the Sugar High)
6. Musings of a Housewife (roasting veggies)
7. Southern Fried Mama(Staying In Touch)
8. The Shabby Chic Cottage (decorating freebie)
9. Heather @ Just Doing My Best (messy bath towel solution)
10. ilovemy5kids (Beach/Sand tip)
11. It Feels Like Chaos (parenting help)
12. FishMama @ LifeasMOM (time with a friend)
13. Jolanthe {Emergency Binder: Household Information}
14. Garibay Soup (Fun Summer Learnin’!!)
15. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (Strawberry Bread!)
16. GROCERY CART CHALLENGE (Easiest Weeding Tip)
17. Aunt Mommy (off da hook swimgear)
18. Donna @ WayMoreHomemade (Bread Machine Focaccia)
19. Muthering Heights
20. Tina in Thailand (learning new hymns)
21. Homemaker Barbi (Clean 1 Room)
22. Hoosier Homemade(New Coupon Organizer)
23. Homemaker Barbi (Bathroom Cleaning)
24. Many Little Blessings {Inexpensive Create Your Own Craft Kit Gift Idea}
25. The Diaper Diaries (Sleepsacks GIVEAWAY!!)
26. HomemadeMom (cell phone reminders)
27. Holly@Homebody (fun easy project w/ kids)
28. Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (Blog Tips)
29. Kirsty@Momedy: FUN and Injury free running. Maybe a marathon?
30. ElizabethG (More energy savings)
31. Home School Dad (The Runaround Place)
32. Smockity Frocks (High Chair Helper)
33. Julie From Inmates (iPhone)
34. The Happy Housewife ~ Kids Make Their Own Beds
35. Kate @ Stolen Moments (basic pesto)
36. A Simple Walk (roadside motel)
37. Susana @ My Family My Forever
38. Saving and Giving (Leave Your Calendar Home!)
39. Diane (cleaning with friends and challenge)
40. Jo Ann @ Just As I Am (movie reviews)
41. Kat @ New England Saving (Switching Grocery Shopping Strategies)
42. Christine @ becomingp31 (No bake treats for summer)
43. Sara @ Learning the Frugal Life(First Attempt at Clothesline)
44. Summer @ Wired For Noise (teaching telling time)
45. Green Baby Guide (Beat the Heat)
46. Lisa @ Moore Minutes (Hanky Panky *for WOMEN only*)
47. Chicagoland homeschool (Discount to Legoland Schaumburg)
48. Jenny @ Another Jennifer Speaks
49. Teach and Tickle (Fighting “I’m bored”)
50. Jordan @ MamaBlogga (blog w/o breaking the law)
51. Kristin -The Goat (Swiffer wet/dry on the cheap)
52. FamilyMakesCents (Meatloaf.. fast!)
53. My Frugal Adventures: Recycle baby wipes tubs
54. Good (& Cheap) Eats (kitchen trick)
55. Michelle-WhiteTrashMom
56. Laptoproadtrip.com (Groceries)
57. Effortless Savings (Frugal Air Travel)
58. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates (Versatile Black Dress)
59. cool mum (Really cheap “curtains”)
60. Melissa (Baby Food Storage)
61. Kitchen Stewardship (Healthy Eating Tips for Working Moms)
62. se7en (Getting Things Done with Se7en)
63. Julia @ The Frugal Find “Stay”cation
64. Amy (Second-fiddle Holiday)
65. Summer Travel Idea
66. the Animators Wife (easy summer dinner)
67. Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers (preusing juice boxes as ice blocks)
68. A Heart for Home (Safe Teething Toys & GIVEAWAY)
69. The Messy Mom (shopping at ice cream stores)
70. mamaK(beginning sew project)
71. Amber (Blogging in Comfort)
72. Angie (using up almost empty shampoo/conditioner bottles)
73. Amy Lynne
74. Tristan (Scripture Scouts CDs)
75. Beautiful Calling (Dangerous Waters)
76. Lee @ foodie plus 4 (keeping produce fresh)
77. Lori @ The Book Lady (reusable sandwich bags)
78. Girls in White Dresses (Fishful Thinking)
79. Melissa @ Frugal Creativity (blueberries)
80. Tracey @ Girls to Grow (Grocery List)
81. MC (Dealing with Anger)
82. Steady Mom (Accept Your Children & Yourself)
83. Becky (easy summertime snack)
84. chili pepper (the dot system)
85. Christine (no more tattling)
86. The Rambling Ewe – letting children help
87. Newlyweds (New Camera)
88. rachel from springpad (great smelling hair)
89. Janel @ Becoming Janel (Pressure Cookers)
90. MollyGreen(little summer treat)
91. Jackie @ Blessings Overflowing (No-Sew Cloth Diaper Liners)
92. Health Begins With Mom (5 Minutes to a Clean Shower)
93. everydayMOM (grocery shopping)
94. Bailey’s Leaf (Pampered Chef Small Scoop)
95. pennypinchinmomma(save $200)
96. Cardamoms Pod (In Touch With Daddy)
97. Mother Hen (Little Helpers)
98. Stephanie (Family Devotion Idea: A Pocketful Of Proberbs!)
99. Stephanie (Family Devotion Idea: A Pocketful Of Proverbs!)
100. The Cozy Country Home (Farm Stands)
101. Homeschool Creations {School’s Out Challenge}
102. Chic Critique (relief from foot blisters)
103. Greta (free coloring news”paper”)
104. Bake at 350 (a FREE food lover’s podcast)
105. Monica@DailyDwelling (photo editing)
106. Brilliant Moms (Microfiber Mops)
107. Suzanne @ Adventures in Teething (Potty Training Tip for Parents)
108. Tutu (make a
109. Tara @ Feels like home (another free game for kids)
110. Llama Momma (summer survival cooking)
111. songberries (sewing organization)
112. Amy @ Living Locurto (my favorite tips)
113. Cara (bulk onions)
114. Sandra @ A Lot of Savings (Waking Up Early)
115. The Nifty Newlywed (Fresher Freezer Meat)
116. Superchikk (Prevent Laundry Detergent Goop)
117. Suddenly Stay @ Home (PreCooking)
118. Carolina Mama (Little Debbie Cakes & Giveaway)
119. Pillaging With Buffie (Starbucks Cards)
120. April-Protesting Home Tax Appraisal
121. Lori (garden tip)
122. Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom (Site to simplify nutrition)
123. Shannon (turnip greens quiche)
124. Michelle (measuring on the wall)
125. Moving Forward (keeping counters clean)
126. Joyful Johnsons (The Van Can)
127. Steph @ My Country Haven (Using Up Leftovers)
128. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet (Want Great Pics?)
129. Kelly @ Fruit of the Womb(planning vacation meals)
130. Sandy @Jesus & Dark Chocolate (ice cream treat!)
131. Muses of Megret (Summer Door Dots)
132. Becky@ Living Out Loud (pets and hot weather)
133. Holly @ A Mommy’s Blessings (zoo pass)
134. Camian Academy (Buying Meat in Bulk)
135. Beth (Homeschooling in the Summer)
136. Joys of Homeschooling(Menu Chalkboard)
137. Grannyann-Pour a can of coke
138. Mary – discipline chart and blessing chart
139. Amy @ CouponPsycho -Frugal Date Nights!
140. Paula @ Organizing Tips (Organizing for Husbands & Wives)
141. Kristi_runwatch (sign language with kids)
142. Joanna @ Grace In The Home (Soap Scum Remover)
143. The Nifty Newlywed (Fresher Freezer Meat)
144. Overwhelmed Working Mom (Quick ‘n Easy Dinner)
145. Susan (kids’ toilet seat covers)
146. Cassandra-HomeMade IceCream
147. Jennie (list making, chicken marinade)
148. Miche@CoordinatedChaos-Kid Fun for 4th of July
149. Amanda (simple healthy toddler recipe)
150. Missy @ Simply Red(frozen banana pops)
151. Milehimama (Crusty Tricks)
152. Penny Raine
153. missy @ missysthrifty (childrens chores)
154. Jen @ What’s Shakin’? {Grilled Banana Boats}
155. Steadfast At Home {Wiping Little Faces}
156. Michelle @ SAH {Wiping Little Faces}
157. Aubrey (healthy frosting)
158. Frugal Carol – Rained out pool party….
159. Angie (Creating A Mii Avator)
160. Kristen (homemade maple bars )
161. April(repair instead of replace)
162. Simply Swee
t Home (patriotic cupcakes)

163. angelina(thanks and a cool tip)
164. Michelle @ Saving Some Green (Discover where you live!)
165. All Things Cherished (clean porcelain sink)
166. The Gaines Gang( Pickle Jar Cuteness)
167. Amanda (free photo editing software)
168. Mama Said (cut stair climbing)
169. Sharinskishe (Bacon Grease)
170. Tips for getting cake out of the pan
171. Sherean
172. Liza’s Eyeview
173. Liza’s Eyeview (Prayer Cures Anxiety)
174. Sherean (Organic produce cheat sheet)
175. Niki @ Free 2 Be Frugal (50 books challenge)
176. Maria @ Very Blessed Mommy(Preschool bags & workbox actvities)
177. Better is Little {leaving house w/ children}
178. Amyswandering (Grocerywiz Customized List)
179. Kelli @ writing the waves (Secret Weapon for road trips!)
180. blue striped shirt (garage sales)
181. FabuLESSly Frugal (Cut Your Grocery Buget-FREEZER MEALS)
182. Maria @ Thrifty Ways and Ideas (Thrifty Tip for Flower Gardens)
183. Kristin@Fill My Cup (less kitchen mess in the summer)
184. Farrah from Wife and Mom of 3 (Lists)
185. Kirstin: homeschool testing
186. Liz @ Frugally Blonde (Easy Way to Save on Baby Food)
187. Aunt LoLo (Keep bread fresh!)
188. ‘Becca (colored socks)
189. Kristen ~ Pajama Mama (turn a skirt into a camera strap/purse))
190. Staci @ teaching money to kids (If you give a mouse a cookie)
191. Heather – digital reader 4 kids
192. Saving Money Ideas (organic pb)
193. Declutter Blog (Timers)
194. Rhonda in OK – Pantry Storage Jars
195. JenT (Kool-Aid dyed scarves)
196. Eden (Smoothies)
197. Peggy @ rainberryblue (bug bite relief)
198. Iowa Expat (linguini with clam sauce recipe)
199. Pam at BeyondJustMom (Mother/Daughter journaling)
200. Intentionally Katie (Quick Cleaning Tips)
201. Judy @ Frugal at Home (earning Amazon gift cards)
202. Diana @ Holes in My Shiny Veneer
203. Diana @ Holes in My Shiny Veneer (reusable produce bags)
204. Meghan @ Married to the Cows (stain removal/detergent)
205. Rhen @yestheyareallmine
206. Wani (1200 Free Photo Prints!)
207. Be Home Happy (cheap movies)
208. Mama Manifesto (easy bottle warming)
209. Prairie Cottage Rose (Spreadable Butter)
210. Fly Away Family (12 Frugal Gardening Tips)
211. Andrea@Hopefulhousewife (Easy fan cleaning!)
212. Grateful for Grace (FREE short Bible study)
213. SWAP SAVERS (FREE Summer Activities for Kids and Families)
214. Everything Moms (Helping kids when loved ones are away)
215. April @ ElCloud Homeschool (CUTE clothes pin bag)

wered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

Vintage Pearl {Giveaway}

*UPDATE* We have a winner, people. Mr. Random chose a man (my hubby will be proud)! Congrats to Dave HomeSchool Dad
While I’m bonding with my hubby this week, I thought y’all might enjoy a giveaway from one of my favorite Etsy stores!
Y’all know I love my hubby (even when he takes pictures of me sleeping with my mouth open).
How could I not? Especially when he comes up with stuff like this:
He contacted The Vintage Pearl and had her create this necklace for me:
You’re what works for me 
(as in WFMW)
I’m glad I work for him. And I’m assuming he’s not referring to the laundry.
Erin did a fabulous job. I absolutely love her hand-stamped jewelry!
Today, she’s offering a reader a custom piece. Winner’s choice ($50 value)!
Visit her shop, tell me what you’d put on a custom piece, or even better, what your hubby would engrave on a necklace!! 
This giveaway will end on Friday.

You Might Want to Read This First

My oldest child (who thinks she is much older than I think), has been begging to attend our 4-day out-of-state church camp for years.
But I am a weenie when it comes to being away from my kids.
She thinks she’s getting her way without realizing that I’m maintaining a little of the control.
Since the camp is only an hour and half from my in-laws farm, we dropped her off yesterday. Her clothes neatly labeled and sorted in zip-lock bags.
Yes, I am THAT Mom.
We left our son and toddler with the grandparents and are staying for three WHOLE days at a Bed ‘n Breakfast, less than an hour from all of our kids. 
I need to say that again, BY OURSELVES.
This is our 15th year of marriage, so obviously, we are celebrating it.
I mean, I’m celebrating in-between sudden urges to grab a child’s hand, wipe a nose and lick my finger to clean a sticky mouth.
My 2.5 year old is the youngest child on my hubby’s side. The next youngest is my 7 year old son. I totally trust my mother-in-law, but only thought it was fair to offer her step-by-step instructions for handling a toddler. Because some assembly is required:
How-To Assemble
Clothing must be pink in nature. Subject tends to move quickly, so a firm hold is necessary. Subject will remove assembly every time you blink. Don’t blink. (see figure a)
How-To Extend Battery Life:

Subject loves food, but does not enjoy the same thing twice. It is not uncommon to prepare a complete meal and it remain untouched. Subject will always consume M&M;’s, or food on a necklace (see figure b)                            
How-To Replace Batteries:
Subject will run low on battery power after noon and evening feedings. The best way to recharge said batteries is unplugging subject. Read instructions to subject in sing-song voice, cover with favorite filthy blanket, shut door and run.

How-To Clean:
Cleaning is a top priority in the long term satisfaction of your new subject. Bubbles are a key ingredient. Adult supervision is required. Goggles and plenty of towels are suggested. Repeat as needed, as subject likes to break open ink pens with her mouth. (see figure c).

How-To Miscellaneous:                                                                           
Subject is prone to loud, frequent outbursts. This is completely normal and expected. If subject thrashes on the floor, carefully step over them and resume normal activity. This may last for several minutes and is not covered under warranty.
Most of all, handle with care.
Love your daughter in-law,

When Words Fail

For the first time, words fail me.
I cannot express my love for you with a few measly adjectives.
I cannot explain my deep respect for you with several crafted sentences.
I cannot exclaim my joy in having you share my life by just putting some letters together.
I cannot exaggerate my praise for you as a father to my children in a poem.
I cannot eloquently describe my heart that beats in rhythm with yours with a pen and paper.

Words fail me.

You do not.
Happy Father’s Day, honey.

DIYP-Father’s Day Edition

Do you have a link or an idea for a fun, last-minute Father’s Day craft? Would you share it here in my forum? I know there will be some frantic searching this weekend for some last-minute gift ideas!

Our Dad Rocks
My kids and I saw this idea in the summer Family Fun magazine
We borrowed three round, flat rocks from our neighbor (who happens to be Mr. Rocky).
I set up plates with paint and each of my kids claimed a rock. They painted the rocks a solid color (even my 2 year old painted!)

It didn’t take long for them to apply a few coats or to get overheated outside. While they took an unplanned swim break in our plastic pool (with their clothes on-still trying to say yes), I used Sharpie markers to add some detail:
When you put the rocks together, the resemblance is uncanny!

Father’s Day Shirt Cake
Cooking Video - Father's Day Shirt Cake

Isn’t that a cute Father’s Day cake? 

Or you can just wing it, like we did. My kids were in charge and they were really pleased with the results (this pineapple upside down cake was delicious):

We celebrated early with my parents. They loved the cake! My mom chewed and thoughtfully said, “What exactly are the round decorations on the tie?”
My son said proudly, “That’s my leftover Easter candy.”
My Mom found her napkin quickly.
Nothing says happy Father’s Day like old Easter candy.

DIYP-Mini Makeover & Giveaway!

*Update* Congrats to winner Mindy Waters
I’ve always had a secret love for modern things.
I love the sleek lines, the sharp edges, the funky colors.
It makes this traditional girl want to grow up into a modern girl!
Recently, All Modern Baby, contacted me about reviewing a product or two. I informed them that I was fresh out of babies. They pointed me towards their Mom and Dad product line. (But just in case a baby is ever dropped on my front step, I’d get this and this and this! And if I needed a high chair, I think this Stokke Tripp Trapp is groovy!)
I’m so glad they pointed me to their grownup stuff.
My family room is black and white without a speck of color.
We live in that room. Our indoor/outdoor rug used to be a creamy off white. It has been gray for a long time. I’ve always wanted to add a modern touch to the room.
I’m thinking green. 
Funky green throw pillow

Lime. Green. Rug.

Click to enlarge if you really want to see my nasty rug

What do you think? I think the pop of green on the floor and the sofa will make the room more fun, less formal. My 9 year is concerned because black, white and green don’t match. 
I may have handicapped her future in modern home decor.
Go look around this amazing store! I spent entirely too much time browsing! Tell me what you like and you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate for anything in the store (baby or not)!
This giveaway ends on Saturday, so get those comments in!
(Stay tuned for my DIYP: Father’s Day Edition)


I say no more than I say yes.
I didn’t realize it until I became conscious of it. My real life friend Jennifer issued a personal challenge for herself: to say yes as often as she could this summer. 
She encouraged me to do the same.
I learned something the first day I tried it:  I say no all the time.
Naturally, I choose no more than yes.
I don’t like this about me.
Oh, I can offer dozens of excuses for why I say no. Safety is obviously a priority. Cleanliness is way up there too. But I like structure, organization. I like control. And I can maintain control if I say no.
Often times, saying yes requires more work for me. I say no because I’m selfish.
So, I’m baby-stepping, I’m trying to say yes more. 
Yes, you can do sidewalk chalk in  your pajamas. Yes, you can pull all the cushions off the couch for family movie night. 
(Try not to look at what was under the couch cushions)
It’s not easy for me to say yes.
And I’m not good at it.
Lisa (the genius blogger behind the retired Domestic Accident) sent me this link.
I encourage you to watch the video or listen to the tract. It’s from a Mom, who is dying. She writes about how Death is Not Dying. She talks about saying yes and about capturing each moment and about finding true happiness at the Cross.
I was moved deeply by it. 
Moved to say yes.
Yes, you can have a silly string fight on the trampoline.
Yes, you can build a fort on the landing and leave it up for two days. Yes, you can eat lunch in it. Yes, you can introduce your sister to Sleeping Beauty on my laptop in the fort….

Yes, yes, yes.

It’s getting easier.
Is it hard for you to say yes or are you a natural?

Food for the Soul:
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11