Archive for Travel

Planning a Holiday Road Trip

With the arrival of Christmas, that means holiday travel. This post is a little late in the season, but are you planning a holiday road trip? Maybe these tips will help you as you prepare to travel with your family…

1. Make lists. Your to-do list before you leave, one for items to pack or bring, include food, clothing, toiletries and personal items, and finally, one for to-dos while on vacation – places to see, people to visit or call, etc.

Map to N.S.

2. Map out your journey. GPS and smartphones are wonderful and I love having them available to me. However, they are not always right. So pack a real life map and gather your children around to map out what roads you will take, which states you will drive through and what cities you will pass by. If you have time, plan some side trips too! If you homeschool, make it a school project for your children to learn something new about the state or city in which you will be visiting. Older children could handle doing this for each state and city you pass through.

3. Reserve your lodging ahead of time. Reserving your lodging ahead of time prevents you from the disappointment, not to mention the inconvenience of possibly not finding any a vacancies at hotels you just happen to stop at for the night. The holidays are busy so plan ahead.

4. Check the weather forecast for your destination, as well as any place in between. This will help you be prepared for winter road conditions, enable you to bring the proper attire and possibly prevent you from driving in any bad weather.

5. Share your plans with your family. This could be the family you are visiting, God forbid they leave for their own vacation, not knowing you are coming to visit! Or this could be family you are leaving behind, just so they know where you are going and how long you will be gone for, in case of emergency.

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Why We Aren’t Taking a Family Vacation #PGeveryday #Sponsored

My husband and I love to travel, so do our children. We have traveled to Texas, Canada, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Minnesota and Iowa on family vacations or weekend trips. We always have fun, make memories and of course face challenges.

Travel Map of USA
Copyright: hamik / 123RF Stock Photo. Used with permission

It has been a number of years since we took a family vacation. Probably 2009, if I remember correctly. Money has been tight, plus we have chosen to become farmers. Summer is our busiest time on the farm with our CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), markets, egg and chicken business. That is one of the downsides to farming. One of the agreements Robert and I had when we decided to farm was that we’d still take vacations. Well…we didn’t realize how long it would take to recover from a bout of unemployment nor did we expect another season of unemployment so soon.

FFR CSA Week 2 062514

Like the author of this article on P&Geveryday™ titled, Why We’re Skipping Summer Vacation, I admit it is kind of hard sometimes when we hear of others taking their family vacation. I also confess to being green with envy sometimes. But like Christie Tate and her husband, we realize this is the season of life we are in. Extended family vacations are not in the cards for us due to our commitments at home.

That does not mean we cannot take day trips to Chicago to visit museums, the zoo, Navy Pier or the Shedd Aquarium or travel other short distances. It just means it will take a bit of planning on our part to make sure everything at home is taken care of first.

P&Geveryday™ has a section on Travel Tips that will be useful to parents planning trips with children. P&Geveryday™is committed to making every day just a little easier by helping you achieve a life full of rewarding moments. Every day. The site aims to inspire, support and empower you to unlock the extraordinary potential in your everyday life. It offers a variety of topics, helpful articles for family life, delicious recipes for the 4th of July, etc. Check out their informative P&Geveryday Facebook page too.

Do you plan on taking a family vacation this summer? If so, where? If not, why not?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Sharkk Car Charger Review

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Sharkk Car Charger

 

I found a great product!!! Love it … Love it!!

 

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This is a great car charge that charges up to two USB devices in the cigarette lighter of your car. This is a great for charging any technology device. I use it to charge both my phone and my Bluetooth. I am never scurrying to find an outlet… I can just charge both from the car! The best part is that I can drive, use my devices, and charge at the same time!

 

The other great attributes are the changeable non-slip grip area of the charger. You can interchange the grip from white to black, kind of fun… but having that extra grippage while driving if needing to plug or unplug can come in handy!

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Here are the specs of the device!

  •  Charge status indicating 2 color light. Use with your own device charging cable. Good for all portable devices like cameras, cell phones, mp3 players, tablets. Input: DC 12–24 V

 

  • One Output (iPad port) : DC Max 5.0V 2100mA for iPads, Tablets and GOS

 

  • Second Output (iPhone Port) : DC Max 5.0V 500mA for Phone, MP3 players and iPods.

 

  • Dual Output: DC Max 5.0V 1600mA (iPad port), DC Max 5.0V 500mA (iPhone port)

 

  • Sophisticated circuit design with over-heated, over-current, over-charging protection

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There is also a lifetime warranty on the product!

 

Visit Amazon.com to buy now …it is really a great price 5.99… I have seen cheaper versions selling at the local drugstore for 10.00

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIELQG0

 

Please visit sharkk.com for more information on this product and may more techie gadgets! You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter!

 

 

 

 

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Kidoodle TV Free Trial and Giveaway

I participated in a Blogger Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Kidoodle.TV. I received a promotional item and a free trial as a thank you for participating.

Somehow over the past few years we’ve allowed ourselves to watch more and more TV compared to say the first 15 years of our marriage and being a parent. We still filter much of what our children are allowed to watch. The shows have to be pre-approved. Kidoodle TV offers our kids just that. We found a character I grew up watching, Inspector Gadget, and others include Madeline, Transformers, Paddington Bear, National Geographic and Strawberry Shortcake. Then there were others I did not really recognize. There is a different selection of shows compared to Netflix. Kidoodle is made just for kids and is easy to navigate. No worries about them coming across questionable movies or ads, since it is ad-free.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 4.03.32 PM

It is really easy to sign up for Kidoodle. Simply create your login, create your kids’ profiles and then select your shows. You can create up to five kids’ profiles, which is the number of children I have that are interested in Kidoodle. The children love the personalized accounts. I think it makes them feel special and grown up or something. Children cannot log out unless their parents enter their four digit passcode, which is nice, but another number/letter combination to add to my ever-growing list. I really like the timer, which is helpful in monitoring usage. I have not really used the Parental Controls since signing up, but it offers age category filtering and title selection and de-selection, which allows you to tailor available content to each child’s needs.

FFR Kids with Kidoodle TV

If you are traveling over the Christmas break, Kidoodle has a mobile application, but we have not tried it yet. It’s on iTunes so check it out.

The Kidoodle.TV Holiday Giveaway Details

Right now Kidoodle is offering a free trial:

Try Kidoodle.TV for FREE and enter by December 31, 2013 to win 1 of 10 tablets or 1 of 10 Kidoodle.TV year-long subscriptions! To enter the giveaway, go to Kidoodle.TV to sign up for a free trial. Follow the on-screen directions and submit!

Feel free to follow Kidoodle.TV on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidoodleTV and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KidoodleTV

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Kidoodle.tv – Dad Central

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I participated in a Blog Blast Program on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for Kidoodle.TV.  I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

By Guest Dad Blogger Scott -

This is best thing next to sliced bread!  I love it!  My daughter loves it!  BONUS!  She loves watching Mario Brothers (I didn’t even know there was such a thing.)

Kidoodle.TV is age appropriate television viewing for your children, that you control.  When first setting it up you choose the age of your child/children.  The next screen will ask if you want to remove or add any addition programs.  Easy Right?

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Ok your child is ready to watch Kidoodle.TV.  You the parent will log on by entering your email address and password.  Then move onto the next screen, choose the child.  It asks how long you’d like to child to watch.  Once that time is up,Kidoodle.TV stops and says…

Kid tv 3 Kid TV 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kidoodle.TV is on Facebook and  Twitter click here to follow them!

Even better there’s a free trial going on for December! Try it today! Did I mention if you sign up for a free trial by December 31, you have a chance to win 1 in 10 tablets or 1 in 10 Kidoodle.TV for a year!

Sign up today!

 

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Chicago at Night from Willis Tower – Wordless Wednesday

In October I went into the city of Chicago for a business meeting with Moms.com and after the meeting we walked to Willis Tower. The photos below are of Chicago at night from Willis Tower. It was really cool.

FFR Chicago at night from Willis Tower

Willis Tower, or the formerly known Sears Tower, the tallest building in the United States. Sears was actually the company that built it to house all its employees in one place.

FFR Chicago at Night from Willis Tower 2

The Sears Tower became Willis Tower when a London company rented out a large space in the building and had the option to rename the building in its contract. And that’s exactly what they did.

When you visit Willis Tower you get to watch a little movie on the history of the building before you are escorted up to the Skydeck. On the Skydeck you can walk around, shop for gifts, look through the telescopes and walk out onto the “ledge”. The Ledge is a glass box basically and when you step out into it you can look down at the city of Chicago through glass. I was not brave enough to walk out onto the ledge, minding heights as I do.

I definitely recommend you visit Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) the next time you travel Chicago.

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Chicago Field Museum: 1893 World’s Fair Exhibit

My husband is a history buff and he has passed on his love of history to our children. We love visiting museums. Last weekend we went to the Chicago Field Museum to visit the 1893 World’s Fair Exhibit, which will be here in Chicago until early next fall. We took advantage of one their free admissions day knowing we’d have to purchase a Discovery Pass for the Fair exhibit.

Those of you who live in the Chicago area you may be interested in knowing upcoming free admissions days at The Field Museum:

December 2
December 5
December 9
December 10
December 11

FFR Chicago Field Museum outside

For all the storms Illinois experienced last weekend, it did not deter people from venturing out in the cold and rain to visit The Field Museum.

FFR Entrance Chicago Field Museum 1

What is the 1893 World’s Fair Exhibit about?

The Field Museum was born out of the 1893 World’s Fair and belongs to the people and the history of Chicago. The World’s Fair exhibit are all original collections that were all displayed at the Fair and is the single largest collection of items displayed at the Fair. The truth is, The Field Museum is the legacy of the Fair; scientists conduct ground-breaking research on the ever-growing collections.

FFR Chicago Field Museum World's Fair Exhibit

The Field Museum Tours App

The Field Museum Tours App is available to help visitors with their tour. We had downloaded the app before we got to the museum so all we had to do was connect to “FieldMuseumWiFi” upon arriving. You can download the Field Museum Tours App too. The Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair takes visitors back to that time in history, to the World’s Columbian Exposition – one of the greatest events in the history of Chicago. The exhibit shows visitors what visitors back then saw at the Fair 120 years ago.

Chicago Field Museum App 4

The app is informative as you can see from the following screen shots.

FFR Totem Poles at Chicago Field Museum App

Chicago Field Museum App 2

Chicago Field Museum App 3

What did we see?

We saw more than 200 artifacts and specimens from the the Fair’s ground.

FFR Chicago Field Museum World's Fair Ticket 2

We find it interesting to learn about different aspects and cultures in history. It’s amazing what you can learn! Below is a photo of a small stuffed female lion, but there was also a stuffed male lion as well. One of our sons loves lions so he was interested in this display. He was also interested in the tigers and seeing inside the mummy. There were over 20 mummies! All the children thought the pyramid was really cool to go inside!

The children thought the computer from the World Fair looked like the computer from the show S.H.I.E.L.D Agents. They thought that was really cool too.

Another cool thing they liked was the DNA lab.

FFR B at Chicago Field Museum 2

Below you can see in the display cases a trench drum/log drum and behind them on hanging from the ceiling was an octopus! (Pictured in a photo below in the photo with our children)

FFR Chicago Field Museum 3

There was an Inuit display from a group of Inuits who came to the Fair from Labrador (Canada).

FFR Chicago Field Museum 4

There was an Inca Active Instruments display that had a simulator allowing us to play the instruments. We found that pretty interesting.

Our daughter B was quite interested in the oils and herbs displayed in their original bottles. All from different countries around the world. Her words, “It was amazing! To see Frankincense and Myrrh from all around the world.” None of any of these items have been displayed since the 1893 World’s Fair.

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Here is a stuffed Indian elephant with a giant octopus hanging over our children.

FFR Kids at Chicago Field Museum

This last photo is a from a slideshow or video footage.

FFR Chicago Field Museum 6

The 1893 World’s Fair Exhibit was an incredible learning experience and we hope we can go back again before September 7, 2014.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Jif Sandwich Contest

Magnificent Mole Chicken Torta
Magnificent Mole Chicken Torta

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Jif. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Do you know what one of our favorite go-to meals is at our house? One that we reach for on busy nights or busy weekends? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Do you know how many sandwiches our family can eat in one sitting? There are ten of us and on average most of us eat two sandwiches, a few will eat three. That’s 20-30 sandwiches!! Yowsa! Talk about needing to buy stock in peanut butter and jelly. We also like deli ham and turkey. Just today we had grilled cheese for lunch. Sandwiches are such an quick and easy meal. We love them. Sandwiches usually mean very few dishes too, which is a definite bonus! ;)

Now through November 8th, Jif Peanut Butter is running their Most Creative Sandwich Contest – challenging families across the country to create an original sandwich recipe that includes two tablespoons of your favorite Jif products! Parents and children with 6-12 can submit their original sandwich for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund and a trip to New York City! The photo featured above is one of the winning sandwiches from last year’s contest – Magnificent Mole Chicken Torta.

You can enter the Jif sandwich contest too by going to www.Jif.com/Promotions/Most-Creative-Peanut-Butter/

Have fun!

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LeapReader “Ready, Set, Read & Write!”

I received free LeapFrog products in order to host the LeapFrog sponsored MommyParty.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

I am thrilled that I was able to be a host for the LeapReader “Ready, Set, Read & Write” Party, sponsored by Leapfrog!  LeapReader is the complete learn-to-read-and-write solution.  It combines reading, writing, and listening into one easy and fun system.  LeapReader uses books, flash cards, workbooks, audio book apps, music apps, and even trivia apps to enhance the learning experience.  If you’ve never tried a LeapReader, you must.  It is lifechanging!  My son and I call it a magic pencil, since it knows everything.

LeapReader1

The activity book that came with the LeapReader was great.  It really taught us how versatile the LeapReader was.  For example, we turned to the page featuring “Cars” and the LeapReader read it to us.  It also had a game to play, and it would sound out the words for you if you touched the words with the LeapReader.

LeapReader4

When we turned the page to the “Leap and the Lost Dinosaur,” my son loved pointing the LeapReader on the different pictures and learning fun facts about them.  He was engaged the entire time, and was learning.  It is the best of both worlds!  Another page he loved was a game you played with the “Muscular System” page.  The LeapReader would give you a clue and you had to point to the answer.  For example, touch the muscle you smile with.  We played that for a good ten minutes.

LeapReader2

The LeapReader flash cards were a hit, too.  You are able to mix and match letters to build words.  It has rhyming, spelling, and singing games as well.  My son’s favorite were the singing games.  If you touch one of the pictures with the LeapReader it sings a song, spelling and sounding out the picture.  It actually made him start to remember how to spell the words, it was very catchy!  My favorite feature was the included sight words list.  Just touch the word with the LeapReader and it would say it.

LeapReader6

We attempted the Writing books, but my son was more interested in hearing the stories than writing.  Some of my friends’ kids came over and tried them, and they had a ball!  The LeapReader really tells you step by step how to write Upper and Lowercase letters, while saying letter sounds.  I found it amazing that the writing magically appears on the special paper.

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Each of the writing activity sets includes a workbook filled with fun activities as well as extra writing paper so you can practice.  The activity books are so interactive that the kids are constantly engaged.

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The Get Ready for Kindergarten book is a must for all preschool aged children.  It teaches letters, vowels, beginning sounds, blends, patterns, numbers, skip counting, math, months, seasons, community places, and more.  This was my son’s favorite book.  He plays with it almost daily.  There is so much to do on each page, that he rarely does the same thing twice.

My son really enjoyed reading the Monsters University LeapReader Interactive Book, too.  You can either touch on the book picture and it will read it for you, or you can touch word by word to read and follow along.  For now my son likes to listen to it, but I’m sure in no time he will be wanting to touch word by word.  This will then teach him how to read.

I am absolutely in love with the LeapReader “Ready, Set, Read & Write” system.  In additon to all of the workbooks, flash cards, and books you can buy for your LeapReader, you can also download apps to put on the LeapReader.  Mine was conveniently loaded with two audio books, learning music, and a trivia app.  Let me just tell you how amazing this is for travel.  My son brings this in the car, plugs in his headphones, and enjoys listening to the stories and music.  With a touch of a button you can switch between apps.  The LeapReader is lightweight so I carry it in my purse or diaper bag when we are out and about so he is always entertained and more importantly, learning.  The best part is that no batteries are required.  Simply charge it with the included USB cord and you are good to go!

I can honestly say that this LeapReader is life changing.  I will be telling all of my mom friends about how great of a learning tool this is.  It is great for reading, writing, and listening skills.  My son has yet to become bored with it, and continues to ask me to buy more books or apps for him.  I love that he asks me to buy him books rather than toys.  The LeapReader is definitely going to create lifelong learners for all children who use it!

www.LeapFrog.com

I received free LeapFrog products in order to host the LeapFrog sponsored MommyParty.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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Tips For Keeping Kids Entertained

This is a partnered post by a guest writer.

Avoiding in-car boredom on your summer break

It’s the time of year when we’re all taking to the road with the kids in tow, and it’s time to get your thinking cap on to find ways to keep the kids entertained. We all find long car journeys boring, but for excitable kids with heaps of energy, they can be an even bigger challenge.

PassSmart have written a few tips to keeping in-car boredom at bay, which, hopefully, will keep the dreaded “are we nearly there yet!?” away.

Design their own game

Getting the kids to create their own game is bound to keep them occupied. If you’re going on holiday or a day trip, they could design a game to do with your destination. So, for example, if you were on your way to Disneyland, a) you’ll have some VERY excited kids, and b) they could draw or write a letter to each Disney character they want to meet.

By keeping their mind on the destination you’ll be able to keep them thinking about what they’re going to do rather than the boring journey which comes first.

Plan you breaks

Keeping Kids Entertained

Plan your breaks strategically to make sure the kids get a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs. The more energy they use up during your stop off, the less restless they will be in the car. Try and stop off somewhere where they can get out of the car and have a little run around. This isn’t always possible, but you could consider taking a scenic detour to find somewhere away from the main roads.

Beware the sugary snacks

The best part of going on a road trip is often the in-car snacks, but try not to let them over do it with the sugary treats. Staying still in the car is tough at the best of times, let alone on a sugar high! Instead pack snacks with a natural energy boost like fruit, nuts and raisins. For something a little more appealing, you could make your own ice poles with fruit juice and pack them in a cooler bag, ready for lunch.

You don’t, however, have to cut out the sweets completely! Instead, try to impose an evening curfew for sweet snacks and, ideally, let the kids have them before you stop off for a break so that they can burn the energy off.

Old-fashioned fun

You don’t have to have an iPad, a portable DVD player and a Nintendo DS to keep the kids happy in the car. Great old-fashioned games like I-Spy or lorry spotting are fantastic ways to keep the kids occupied, and, you never know, you might even have fun too!

Take it in turns to choose a game you want to play and the kids won’t be able to complain about your choice of entertainment. You can even put an educational twist on some in-car games, like, for example, the alphabet game. Get the kids to read license plates and think of an animal/food/country/color relating to each letter. You might be surprised at how long in-car games keep the kids occupied for, and, best of all, they won’t cost you a cent!

Avoid music battles

Trying to decide what music to listen to in the car can be a headache in itself, but there is a way to keep everyone happy. Unless you all have different devices to listen to, you’ll know that someone has to compromise. Get the kids to choose 5 songs each and then take it in turns to play one of their choice. You may have to listen to a few Disney classics, but at least there’ll be no squabbling to contend with!

Finally, drive safely and enjoy your trip!

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