Category — traveling with kids
Ever have one of those road trips where you are at your wits end, and you are actually considering the all-inclusive fix-it tool – duct tape? Before resorting to this extreme parenting method, consider a couple of alternative car games instead:
SWEET OR SOUR
“Sweet or Sour” is an amusing game for all ages. When you are stuck in traffic on the highway, this is a great time to play this game. Wave to the people wave at one of the cars close to you, or do something else to get their attention. If the person waves or honks back they are sweet. If you know they can see you, but they are pretending they don’t, then that car is sour. You play as a whole car or individually, but keep track of the people who are sweet and sour. You get extra points if the person honks. Keep score or just a record of all the Sweet vs. Sour cars, and see if you can improve your results on the next trip.
THE QUARTER GAME (A variation of The Quiet Game, but with reward!)
“When the kids start getting bored and my nerves are getting frayed, we play the “Quarter Game.” It’s simple — which ever child doesn’t speak for the longest time gets a quarter. It’s a fun, friendly competition plus it gives Mom and Dad a few quiet moments to regain sanity. Kids love it too!” (Submitted by reader, Samantha. Thanks!)
So, before you break out the drastic car management tactics like duct taping your darling children’s smiles, renew their dental insurance and let those pearly whites gleam as you travel the highways in harmony because you kept them happy and occupied on the road. And before anyone gets excited, the kids featured in the photo are my darling nephews who volunteered for this shot! Thanks guys! You are too cute.
February 16, 2013 No Comments
Somewhere in the middle of a beautiful rural Kentucky byway, while I was on my way to Kentucky Lake for my annual Pirate Adventure , my minivan had a birthday. Or rather, a birth-mile. Sylvia (my minivan, also known as “The Mother Ship”) turned 100,000 miles. I took a picture.
Why is that mile different from any other? When I posted the photo to my facebook, I had many friends comment on their locations when their own vehicles hit this milestone. They all remembered where they were when that odometer turned over 99,999 –> 100,000 . I guess it’s just really fun to watch all those 9′s turn over!
One friend commented, “Keep going! You’re halfway to the moon!”
I remember one of my previous cars turning 100,000. It was a Toyota Camry and I was on my way to work teaching school when it turned. Considering the Camry cost of ownership, it would be nice to still have it since it would have kept going forever. But, after my 3rd child and a hoard of Girl Scouts, I traded it in for my series of minivans and became a minivan mom.
So, happy milestone, Sylvia. Here’s to many more fun miles on the way to more adventures!
December 18, 2012 No Comments
I have added two new videos where I show some of my favorite travel products that are available online. They are travel games by Melissa and Doug toy company that I really like. My family has played with these for years, and as a bonus, you can finally see ME in these videos telling you about the items!
I’ve been working hard on my Youtube channel recently and added a lot of new videos. I would love for you to check it out and subscribe to my channel, or at least leave me some comments and hit the “thumbs up” on a few of the videos if you like them. Please let me know what you’d like to see more!
December 1, 2012 1 Comment
Admit it, we’ve all been there. Your patience has run out and you begin to entertain deranged thoughts about how to keep our kids under control in the car just so you can have some peace! Tying your kid to the roof of the car, or duct taping their mouth closed doesn’t seem all that bad, does it?!
If you’ve had “Bad Parent” thoughts, then you are probably normal, providing of course that you don’t seriously act on these thoughts! The best advice I can give if you feel guilty about it, is to just turn it into humor. It’s really our brain’s way of dealing with the stress, and you can actually have fun with these ideas with your kids in the process.
Take a look at the video that my nephews and nieces helped me make along with my own children recently. Obviously I don’t seriously recommend these techniques, but you can’t tell me you’ve never thought of some of them!
While you’re there, please subscribe to Momsminivan on YouTube! I have instructional how-to videos for fun kids activities, as well as product reviews and hopefully a few more humorous parenting videos! Now, get out that duct tape, and get busy!
November 30, 2012 No Comments
If you are expecting your first child, you have begun to experience the wonderful world of baby stuff. Even if this is your second, third, or eighteenth child, you’ve learned that you need to keep up on the latest trends, recalls, and safety wisdom. While every piece of gear you buy is important–with the possible exception of those videos that show toys while classical music drones in the background–the one that both parents and the government require the most from in terms of safety is the car seat.
You’ve got the latest edition of Baby Bargains on your iPad, you’ve narrowed down which houses for sale are in the best school district and don’t have any exposed wiring or trap doors that lead to crocodile pits, your auto insurance is all up-to-date, and you’ve sold the ’72 Chevy Nova for a newer model with LATCH. Congratulations–you are doing an excellent job of building the illusion that you are ready for life as a parent! Your next assignment is to spend a minimum of forty solid hours researching the best infant car seat. Whilst poring through the myriad books, magazines, websites, and parents’ brains, keep the following questions at the front of your mind:
- Does it exceed government standards? Try not to settle for just meeting them. That’s not how modern parents roll.
- Is it easy to use? If it’s hard to get junior in and/or out, your frayed nerve ends may force a brain shutdown, which you don’t need when there’s a diaper that needs changing and a mouth that needs feeding.
- Is it versatile? You really shouldn’t care if the seat matches the upholstery, but at the prices seats go for these days, you might want to consider a seat that will keep your progeny safe for a few years down the road.
- Holy #*%@–$300 for a *$&# car seat? “Costlier” is not a synonym for “safer.” While three large will get you a seat that is safe, feature-rich, and stylish, one of the best-reviewed car seats of 2012 will only set you back $170. If you are not sure what features you need, this is one time when you can trust in online user reviews and friends’ recommendations.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
A car seat could have an impact-activated forcefield, gyroscopic stabilizers, and inertial dampers, but if it is not used properly, that kid ain’t gonna be safe. Before you even think of installing that thang, read through the included manual–heck, read it in every language, just to be thorough. Check the manufacturer’s website; many feature videos that walk you through the steps. Many local police departments offer child seat inspections; call for a schedule.
Before you leave the house, though, do your best to install the seat to manufacturer’s specifications. This probably requires that you not put the child in the seat and then leave them on the car’s roof, trunk, or hood–it’s a safe bet that the police would not approve of such usage.
Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and Law Enforcement. (Guest Blogger for Momsminivan.com)
October 18, 2012 No Comments
Do your kids refuse to cooperate for family vacation photos? If you are a photo-taking maniac, chances are good that they are sick of posing in front of touristy spots for family pictures. If you can’t get them to cooperate at all, then I have the cure. Let them “not cooperate”. Have you looked at your teen’s facebook page lately? It is loaded with really strange and goofy self portraits of themselves and equally odd photos of their friends. That is apparently what teens are after these days.
So let them be goofy. You already have enough “pretty” pictures of your kids, so why not just let them be dorks, and take photos of them having tons of fun!
In other words, when you’re on vacation, don’t pose them in front of cool stuff and and order your children to put on fake smiles — get involved! Ham it up!! Your photos will really capture the fun they are having and they won’t whine every time you want to take their picture. It will make the trip all the more memorable, and they’ll have fun at the same time. No doubt they will probably even share these “family pictures” with their friends, and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.
(These photos were taken during our Thanksgiving trip to Universal Islands of Adventure Tips at the Jurassic Park section of the park.)
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October 4, 2012 No Comments
It comes as no shock to my readers that I drive a minivan. What you may not know is that my minivan has a name. It is aptly referred to by my family as “The Mother Ship”. She is the third Mother Ship minivan in my fleet.
At the touch of a button, the back hatch opens and closes automatically, while displaying an array of extra terrestrial beeps, noise, and blinking lights, not unlike a spaceship. On a personal level, her other name is “Sylvia”, because she is silver-colored, and because the built in navigational system has a female voice.
To help me identify my Swagger Wagon in a universe full of look-a-like silver minivans, I have deliberately tagged mine with distinctive decorations which include a “United Federation of Planets” bumper sticker, a Star Fleet Academy logo on the back window, and a silhouette of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the side window. The Mother Ship indeed. It helps that I’m a fan of Star Trek and sci-fi in general. This also fulfills my responsibility as a mother to embarrass my teenage children in public. Despite my outward tendency toward nerdiness, I take pride in my ride as I cuise the open road with my children across the galaxy on our travels, seeking out new life and new civilizations.
Sadly, I know that someday my minivan days may be behind me. Then I’ll opt for another sweet ride like one of these limited edition cars. My teenage daughter is currently saving up to buy her first car and has been eyeballing some of the sporty wheels from Scion. Her first car will no doubt be nicknamed alien escape pod.
Do you have a name for your vehicle? And what would you call your teen getaway pod?
August 1, 2012 1 Comment
OK, seriously, who else has done this? I cannot be the only person who has actually gotten into the wrong vehicle by accident. With all the look-a-like minivans around here, surely someone has even gotten into mine!
The first time it happened to me, I was chatting away with my friend Devra on my cell phone as I left the grocery store with one small bag in my hand. I was immersed in our usual hilarious banter and her delightful puns as I opened the door to my silver minivan, sat in the driver’s seat, and started to set my bag down next to me. As I looked in the rear view mirror, I was stunned to see the hatch was open and there a man loading groceries into my van! What the ?! Then it happened — my brain kicked in. This is not my minivan. It’s his.
I grabbed my bag, slipped out of the door, and started to walk back so I could apologize to the man. Then I realized that he was so immersed in loading groceries into his man-van that he had NOT EVEN SEEN ME! I began laughing hysterically to my friend on the phone. From her perspective I had just taken a double dose of crazy as I cackled like a hyena, and I could barely even tell her what had just transpired.
I gets better. If you were reading carefully, you may have noticed that I wrote, “the first time it happened…” This bit of foreshadowing tells you that it has happened again. My poor Sylvia (the name I give my current Mother Ship) must be suffering from an identity crisis, and I am getting a reputation for not recognizing my own car! There have been several other times I have walked up to the wrong shiny silver van with keys in hand, frantically clicking the unlock button until I realize my mistake. I swear that I am not even on the phone when I’ve done it, however, I do get the urge to call Devra when it happens. Sometimes I do. And we laugh.
Seriously — Has this happened to anyone else?
July 23, 2012 No Comments
NOTE FROM ROAD TRIP MOM: This is a guest post by one of my favorite road trip kids – Carlie! She recently took a trip with us as part of a carload of Girl Scouts on our way to camp and road tested this product!
Rolling Reviews from the Backseat — Kleenslate — By: Carlie F.
Recently we tried some Kleenslate paddles on our long drive to camp, and we were able to have a new experience in road trip games. We could do all kinds of things with this cool dry erase board, including writing song lyrics, practicing handwriting, being an artist while mixing colors, or designing a new species of animal. The Kleeslate would be great for a wide range of age groups who ride in your car on a next road trip.
On our trip, our favorite games were ones that we made up ourselves, such as the “Emotion Potion” game which was funny and a great way for us to pass the time and have a laugh at our silly selves. Overall this prop was fantastic in almost every way. We did however experience a few bumps in our experience of using the Kleenslate. When we were writing we found that the marker would sometimes get on our pants, or the writing would become permanent on the board if you didn’t erase it soon after it had been used. Overall we really enjoyed our use of the Kleen Slate compared to an ordinary white board that you might find at school.
Here are some of the games we played with it on our trip:
One child closes their eyes and passes around their board, while the rest of the passengers write down their feelings or emotion at that exact moment. Once they are done the person who had their eyes closed tries to guess which person in the car has that emotion (Hint: Try to disguise your handwriting so that the person guessing will not know who wrote that emotion.) Some suggestions for the emotions are depressed, funky, or even disturbed!
Pretend to be waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant. You take someone’s order, and then draw their meal before serving it to them.
Everyone closes their eyes and tries to draw the shape of the face on their own Kleen Slate board, but without looking! You must draw the entire face without lifting your pen. Try to draws all parts of the face such as a nose, lips, eyes, freckles or any other thing that could be on a face. Take a picture of the face that was drawn to remember your road trip.
Hangman was a really popular travel game with us. One person thinks of a word and writes down blank spaces depending on the amount of letters in the word. The other player guesses a letter that he thinks is in the word. If the letter is correct, then write it in the space that it corresponds with . If the letter is wrong, then you draw a body part of a stick figure on the hangman rack. Start with drawing the head, body, arms and legs. If you have too many wrong guesses, your hangman will croak when hi s drawing is complete!
We really enjoyed the Kleenslate product and would recommend it for others!
May 31, 2012 2 Comments
A few years ago, we took our three children on a whirlwind 3 day trip to New York City. It was a weekend-long family reunion, so we crammed a lot into our short stay in New York and had a great time.
We saw museums, visited the Empire State Building, enjoyed the Circle Line tour around the Statue of Liberty, rode subways, took precarious taxi rides, walked around Central Park, and still managed to get to all the family events. In spite of the cram packed schedule, the biggest complaint we had from the kids was that they wish we could have stayed longer! I agreed!
The ultimate travel trip for me would be to actually live in a big city or foreign country and enjoy new experiences from the perspective of the residents, or as I like to call it — “going native.” In my dreams I imagine myself checking out New York City apartment rentals and taking an extended vacation for a few months to truly enjoy everything a big city has to offer.
Since I can take my job with me almost anywhere, this idea isn’t actually that far fetched. So, while I’m dreaming, I guess I’d better add some more items to my bucket list of places I’d like to go native. I’ll start with that little Mexican beach town I once visited, then hit Greece, Rome, Rio…. After all, every vacation I’ve ever had started with a dream. What’s yours?!
May 21, 2012 Comments Off