Monday, June 30, 2008

Road Trips...

I was hoping to take some pictures of our road trip items but have yet to find them in the many boxes post move. :-) So pictures will follow... but  here is what we do for long road trips... I always put together a bag of healthy "car friendly" snacks and then together with Zoe we pick 2 or 3 books, small easy to manipulate while in the car seat toys, magna-doodle, coloring book with crayons (we received a fun crayon pocket holder during the first swap, thanks Meg & Mag).... The things I add without Zoe's knowledge usually keep her entertained the longest, I like to bring at least one new toy and one new book along on the really long road trips.  I do not run out and purchase new toys but keep my eyes peeled for fun little things at yard sales or the few times we do get happy meals I snag the toy before she see it and save them for those moments that we need a little something extra in the car! So that is what I do, nothing really special but it makes our road trips more enjoyable, but I have to say we are pretty lucky Zoe really likes to travel!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Learning a little as we go, in more ways than one!

Gosh, it was so interesting to read Liz's post and learn a little about her lifestyle. I think there are many different things we will take away from this swap.
I am planning on creating our little buddies this week. Now that Sophia is on holidays, I realise I may be running a bit late!
As for trips and hints, we took a trip over the Easter break and we packed a thermal bag which fitted between the girls car seats with; lunch boxes full of snacks, drinks, coloring books, and story books. We also took stable tables which the girls could put on there laps to balance books on. Lastly we packed there favourite quilts and there favourite C.D. "Hop, Skip and Jump". We also headed of in the wee hours of the morning, so we bundled the girls into the car in there p.j.s and got a few hours in before they awoke.
If you would like to see how this eventful trip ended up, head on over here!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pine View Dam Swimming

Just did a Pineview Dam visit. Lovely water, waves, and just a bit of beach.
Here we are enjoying the sand:

We loved the little plastic tub boat. It was little tipsy, but fun!!

After a long days of playing we layed on our towells and soaked in the sun. mmmmmm.

The Jorgensens in Utah....

Scamp and Her "Box" Buddy

Right after Scamp and I signed up for the swap, we picked out her new traveling buddy for our trip that would be sent to our New York partners. Big Mistake for a mommy of a 2 year old!

Here she is with her "Box" who was set to accompany us on our vacation this next week.

But, Scamp quickly became attached to this little scraggly raccoon and carried him in her shirt for a few hours as her new baby. How could I send him away?

So, we picked up a new "Box" (Box #2), identical to his brother minus the chocolate milk stains Box #1 sustained a couple of weeks ago, who will also be traveling with us. Box #2 (who may acquire a new name along the way) is hiding in the back of our car until the trip on Sunday. Boxes 1 and 2 will both pose in many a picture in the Smoky Mountains, then Scamp and I will make our scrapbook and send it and Box #2 to our partners. Problem solved (I hope)!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Travel Ideas

Since we essentially live in the middle of nowhere, the shortest drive my children (ages 2 and 3) have is about an hour; when we go to Southern Indiana to see Grandma and Grampie - it is 10 hours! So, I've gotten pretty good in the entertainment department...

Often it is just the kids and me when we make the 10 hour trek. I'm driving so I can't turn around every ten minutes to get something for them. To solve this problem, I put a large Rubbermaid tub in between the two back seats in our van. That way the kids can reach the toys and they stay much happier, they can also set their drinks and snacks on the table when they need their hands for something else. Occasionally a toy does fall (as you can see, the tub is overflowing,) but S and K know they will have to wait until we stop for gas to get that toy back.

Also on the toy front, we have toys that remain in the car all the time. That way they are special and it is a treat to get to play with them. (Remember, I live on an island where cars are illegal, so the kids only ride in the car about twice a month.) The favorite car toy we have right now is the Magna Doodle. It is a great toy that the kids love, and best of all I think they were $3.00 each on clearance at Toys R Us. Lola the dog and Arial the elephant (our swap stuffed animals) love the magna doodles too.One last thing: To make the trip shorter for the kids I get on the road at 5:00 am. (You read that right - 5:00 in the morning!) I get the car all warmed up, lift them from their beds, put them into their car seats and cover them with blankets. Often they will sleep until eight or so. (My daughter is still in diapers and my son sleeps in a Pull-up, so wetting the car seats is not an issue for us.) It cuts a few hours off the trip for them making the day easier on me - even if I do have to be up before most everyone else.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Contest - Entertaining the kids

We don't do a lot of traveling in the car. The longest drive that we've done thus far is 3 hours. It's not long but still long enough for a 6 year old to get antsy. So this is what I pack into her backpack: lots of snacks, books, a writing tablet, her pencil box with crayons, markers, and pencils, her Nintendo DS, and last but not least or iPod. Sounds like a lot of stuff but if you knew my daughter you'd know that all of this was necessary. She has a short attention span and need many things to keep her occupied.

On her iPod, we have the music that she likes to listen to, TV shows that she loves such as Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Hannah Montana, and Raven, her favorite movies, and audio books. Right now I just have the Harry Potter series but will be uploading Junie B. Jones and maybe even Spiderwick Chronicles.

Before we had the iPod, we had a portable DVD player. We lugged that thing around with at least 5 different movies every time. When the DVD player broke, we started using my laptop. Thank goodness for the iPod, it's smaller and takes up less space.

When we travel to Hawaii, we pretty much take the same things. It's a 5 hour flight so keeping her entertained is a little more difficult. On the flight, she prefers to write and color so I make sure there are lots of paper and coloring books. She has her own carry on bag with all of her ammo.

I realize that not everyone has a Nintendo DS or iPod but there are other options out there to keep the children entertained. There are lots of games that come in travel versions. Playing cards are also an option that will keep the kids busy. Keeping the children occupied and entertained on long road trips or air travel will not only benefit them but also the parents.

Travel Bags

Several years ago, our DVD player passed away. With several hour trips being taken almost every month up to the grandparents, it was a bit painful at first. It didn't take long for the kids to adjust though. We got books on tape, read Little House on the Prarie, and played card games in the car. Recently, I made the kids some "travel bags" (photos of the bags we also made for our swap partners) that help encourage their creativity and they've been really helpful to all of us. I stitched up some simple (and I mean SIMPLE!) little bags with a strap. Inside, I made a pocket with a few different small sections. Here's what has been the biggest hit in our bags so far:

little spiral notebook with blank pages
tiny markers/pencils/pens
card games (favorite one came from our spring Swap friends!)
little doll family set
bird identification book
finger puppets

We do alot of story telling, and the most requested ones are stories from our childhood where an injury was sustained, where trouble was had, or where something that involved loud shouting happened!

We haven't taken it on a trip, but we also like to have "conversation" and some of our favorite topics came from this box. Our little family is able to talk in a casual and honest way about lots of deep-life things. I hope that these things stick with them throughout their lives.
That's my two cents!


A lot of you were very encouraging to Michelle (aka Meg) when she shared her story of how she was planning to travel across the country to have a legal homebirth in CA. I thought you might be interested to know that her and her family have made their journey and arrived at their destination safe and sound. They are now guaranteed a CA birth!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Prize

There are still eight days left to post your travelling tips and be entered into the June contest. Michelle (Meg) provided this prize, but I (Melissa aka Mag) will be mailing it out since she is getting very close to giving birth now. If you can't tell by the picture it is a mini-scrapbook kit with everything you need except the pictures, of course.
My best tip for travelling with kids is to remember to bring those snack catcher containers along so you don't end up with goldfish all over the car. Other than that we usually just bring a lot books and CDs. Some of our favorite music to listen to with kids includes The Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson and Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants--both are very kid friendly and don't drive my husband and I nuts.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Surviving the car ride!

I often hear parents talk about the dread they feel anytime they need to take a long car ride with their children. They rely on the DVD player to maintain some sense of sanity on the trip. We are very fortunate when it comes to traveling by car. Since birth our daughter(now 4 years old) has taken the 5 hour trip to visit our families and is a fabulous car rider! We do hear an occasional "Are we there yet?" but generally our car rides are very pleasant. We don't have a DVD player in the car, so what's our secret? Besides lots of practice riding, I'd say having special snacks and giving her some control over the ride are our secrets. She gets to choose what we listen to on the trip. Yes, five hours of listening to Dragon Tales Tunes and Elmo is a bit boring for us but she's happy and the ride goes by quickly. We've started checking out audio books from our library right before a long trip. On our last trip we all listened to the first Harry Potter book. We all enjoyed it! We also have a scheduled stop for gas and snacks that we make on each trip. She looks forward to this and is happy in the back seat for an hour after our stop eating her snack. We enjoy the car ride.
Some other audio books we've enjoyed are:
The Magic Treehouse
Rabbit Ears Treasury of Fables
Rabbit Ears Treasury of Animal Stories
Tell Me a Story
The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Waterhorse

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Contest- What to put in the stereo!

Hi, I don't count to do one of the drawings since this is Meg (Michelle.) But, wanted to start us off and participate none the less. One cd I have found that I really like and am very OK with my kids listening to is Renee & Jeremy. On their site you can listen to some tracks and I bought our copy on iTunes. Other music we listen to is Folk music, and John Denver. John Denver is all about the nostalgia (Especially the song Country Roads and Grandma's feather bed) for me and the Folk music has some great songs that kids and parents can relate to. Usually our radio is tuned to NPR or the local Alternative music station. But, as the kids get older and sing along we are becoming more sensitive to what we listen to.
Another thing we are trying this trip is reading original fairy tales aloud. We bought a collection of Hans Christian Andersen ones. The local bookseller also recommended this book, called Hello Miss Piggle Wiggle. The tales in this second book are more old Fashioned, not old like Andersen's though.
Lastly we bought some toys that are new to the kids or have been pulled out from a long silence in the basement so they seem new. They include: a flat battery operated light brite, a big magna doodle, lacing beads, little figurines to act out adventures with, and some books. We also found a leapster on ebay that we are going to try. We will be in the car for a total of 85 hours this summer not including rest stops and eating, etc. Luckily, we have a built in DVD player that we use when the fighting gets to be too much. Some of these last things I have mixed feelings on. But, traveling the car that long, I think it is OK to do things that normally are limited or off limits at home. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else suggests. We leave Friday for the first leg of our trip straight to CA, 35 hours!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June Contest!!

We thought this time around it would be fun to have a contest each month of the swap. To be entered in the June contest you will need to do a post that includes tips for traveling with children. You could share directions for a favorite travel game, travel music that is enjoyable for both kids and adults, ideas for games and books to take along or whatever else you can think of. Pictures and links are helpful, but not required. We will choose a winner by drawing a name randomly from everyone that makes post regarding this topic (please do not comment on this post, but rather create a new post). The prize will be a mini scrapbook kit. Please post by June 30 to be entered in the contest.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Hi Swappers,
We received an email yesterday from a mom wondering if both her children should pick a friend to send to their partners two children or if the family should collaborate. This is a really good question. Originally we had pictured each family doing one friend/ scrapbook to send to another family. So we will say that is the minimum that must be done. BUT, this is where you can individualize your swap. If you want to customize the number of friends you take on your adventure with the number of children in your recipient's family then that is allowed. Just make sure you both agree. We have been talking behind the scenes about some of the advantages we see to both ideas and will list those here at the end of this post. Both ways of doing it are great. Secondly, we did receive a request to enter one family's children multiple times. (One partner for each child in the family.) If this was something you would like to see we wanted to explain why we do family groups instead. When reading through how we make pairs you will see that we take the number of children in the family into account. We used family groups in the first round and noticed that moms with more than one child or moms sending to more than one child were very sensitive to each child and including everyone. It worked so well that we kept it the same way this round. The other reason is that if we were to pair every child individually it would mean a lot more work for us, plus a lot more spent in postage for families with more than one child participating. Also the moms would be spread so thin that building cross country relationships would probably not happen as much as it did the first round. If you have any more questions feel free to ask. We are more than happy to take your suggestions and to clarify what runs through our minds.

Benefits to sending multiple friends to a family: Each child gets to express their creativity and interpret the scrapbook how they want. Each child receives a "friend."

Benefits to sending one "friend" from a family to another family: Siblings learn to collaborate and incoorporate their ideas into a cohesive theme that flows. Sharing is encouraged. Less stress and to do on your trip.

Both ways are good and whichever way you choose you now have reasons so you can feel comfortable talking through with your partner what you choose to do. We would love to hear what you decide. Please post in the comments to this post how you are approaching the swap.
Happy Swapping, Meg and Mag

Friday, June 13, 2008


Thank you to everyone for introducing yourself! It is fun to get to know everyone and see where you are headed. Mag and her son did a map last time. They are planning on posting another one this time. Maybe they will even be able to include travel destinations.

You should have received and email letting you know who your partner is. Email us if you didn't get it and it is not in your spam folder. This is where the fun begins. Remember the swap guidelines are just a minimum and you can add and personalize the swap however you want within those parameters. Or you can use them as a jumping off point and up the stakes. Just make sure both you and your partner are both whole heartedly in agreement. Also make sure that you are including all the swap requirements.

We thought you might like to know how we make the pairs. We paired you based on these items in this order:
1. Who your previous partner was if you had one, or who you already knew.
2. Children are older or younger
3. Number of children in family
4. Where you live, making sure it is not next to each other.
5. Travel month.

If a mistake happened we are so sorry. We do our best. This time we tried to simplify things for ourselves by not including individual ages or genders. Next time we may throw the ages back into the mix because it helps narrow it down some. If you have suggestions please take note of them and give them to us at the end when we send out the exit surveys. We hope you all have fun this round. We had tons of fun last time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

4 in Utah --ready to go

Here we go guys. We have 4 little guys going out to explore the world and take notes, and read books, and collect postcards!! We have returned from City of Rocks, Idaho and we are taking a 10 dayer to Mt. Rushmore in July. We have some fun summer activities planned in between.

Busy the babes on the road

Hi everyone! I just wanted to share a few fun things that I've found recently that may help keep your kiddos busy on long road trips.

I've been wanting a tray for the car seat to keep snacks and toys from rolling away during a long trip and found this one via MomsMiniVan. This site is great and has hundreds of tips and ideas for making road trips more fun for everyone. You can buy the Snack and Play Travel Tray for $20 over at Traveling With Kids or at Family Travel Gear.

Also A Toy Garden had a fun "On the Go Bag" with lots of toys to keep kids busy. This one is the deluxe for about $30, they have another for $20. I thought the bags were great and might also make a nice gift for someone on the go. Personally, I figured I could just take the idea and run with it to make my own.I also found (via Goodyblog) easy idea to make a felt board activity. The activity comes from Plum Pudding . The boards are so cute and could be a fun activity for an older child to make for a younger one. I think I'm going to make some for my little one... if I am any good at it, don't be surprised if our partners get one in their box!Family on Board is another company with ideas and products to keep the kiddies happy in route! Happy traveling!

Hi from Southern California

Hi. Cordelia here. Samuel (age 7) and I are really looking forward to the swap. Yikes! are we the last ones on board? The end of the school year is pretty hectic. We will be doing some local travels and probably a bit of camping this summer.

Hello from CShell

I am finally on board...yeah!!now I can share about my gang too! We are a family of 5. Court is 16, my Jeremiah is 11, and Autumn is 9. This is our first family swap. All of the kids were interested in this, and offered to do a bit of everything to make our fuzzy friend travels fun!
And our summer travels start this weekend! We are camping for the first time ever as a family. In the West Virginia mountains.Then, in July, mom and Dad get to go away while the kids stay with Grandma! Finally, in August, we are heading to Busch Gardens and Williamsburg, VA. I am sure we will have mini-trips planned as well. Living about an hour from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD, we head out often. Can't wait to meet you all!

(posted via meg and mag from Cshell)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hi from Australia

Hi! My name is Sophia, and this is my sister Tessa. I am 4 and Tessa is 2.
We live in Melbourne, Australia. At the moment it is Winter, not Summer!
We are wearing our winter cardys our great aunt in England sent us for our birthdays.
We have 2 weeks holiday in July, I don't think we are going away, so, most of the time our toy will come to kindergarten and playgroup and do other fun things with us.
We hope you enjoy visiting Australia through our family.

About all of You!!!

Well, here we are sign ups are closed and we are in round two officially! We thought you might like to know a little bit about our group:
There are 9 pairs being made and one mama sitting out to have a baby. 8 of you are repeaters from round 1.

A lot of you found us through the swapdex website and then the rest through random connections.

The busiest travel month for our group is July.

The person who is farthest away is in Australia, we think her partner will be mighty lucky to get some very exotic treats. Isn't it opposite season's there? So maybe we have a summer/ winter swap. ;)

We have people from these states: California, Washington, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington D.C., Idaho, Utah, Alabama, New York, New Hampshire, West Virgina, Oregon, Montana, and Michigan.

Fourteen people have blogs. (Lots of neat info on them, check the sidebar)

So we are off to a good start and should have lots of fun. Hopefully that will help everyone get their mind off the crazy weather we are having this summer from snow in Montana yesterday, to fires in California, and heat waves, on the east coast. Look for your partner's info in your email box this weekend. And check back here often for announcements, contests, and info on the other swappers. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hi!  My name is Cherie Uyeyama.  My daughter Manami and I will be giving you the tour of the cowboy capitol of the world...Oakdale, CA.  We do short trips lots of places, so our little friend will be doing alot of here and thereing!  No big vacation.  I look forward to the adventure.  I've never done anything like this...sounds cool!  

Another Scrapbook type idea

Head over to Luckybeans for matchbox books. This could be a cute scrapbook idea for the older kids or moms to help make!

Countdown to Summer Swap

Really, our top priority right now is figuring out what *kind* of stuffed animal to make. Or stuffed object? I'm a big fan of upcycling material and I have some excellent fabric from a fleece sleepsack with a faulty zipper (and no, I am not capable of replacing a zipper!). We're from Washington, DC but will be traveling to the Pacific Northwest, California, and New England this summer. Two kids: EGirl is 5 and CBoy is 18 months. We loved our experience in the first round of the swap and can't wait to come back for more. Thanks Meg and Mag!!

Us in Ohio...well, right now

Hi, I am Meg one of the orgnanizers. My name is Michelle. But, on here and between Mag and I am Meg...
This picture is from Mother's Day. I am much bigger now. Think bus + house!!! Our trip is going to be long and last all of July. We live in Ohio. BUT, moved here only last year. After we moved here they started prosecuting homebirth midwives as felons. We only ever had homebirths. So when we got pregnant, (darn that Long Island Iced Tea) we weighed our options and decided that it was important enough to us to have another homebirth with legally acceptable help. So we are taking a trip to CA to live with my dear friend and midwife and have a homebirth. Sometime in July, I am due June 29th. This will be one vacation we will never forget. Along the way we aren't stopping. But, once we get there play in our homestate near San Francisco and head home we will be making many stops. Those new babes have to eat every 2 hours you know. From the Bay area we will hit Medford, Oregon then, Seattle, WA then Mag's house in Spokane, WA, then Lakeside, MT to see my parents, then home. We have friends in all the other places. It will be a very memorable trip with amazing before and after pics. Also my husband thinks it will be so much fun to be able to say: Look here is a picture of Michelle nursing at Yellowstone, here is a picture of Michelle nursing in Eureka, here is Michelle nursing by the side of the road. I think I prefer the Look here is Ryan changing a diaper at the fish market, here is Ryan changing another diaper at the Denny's parking lot and so on! At any rate I am trying to keep a positive attitude because I wake up thinking we are CRAZY! They have all kinds of travel now, I wonder what you call birth travel? If there is an odd number of you all participating than I will sit back and facilitate. Otherwise one of you needs to be very understanding and will be paired with me!! Happy Swapping, we are so excited for round 2!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Greetings from Washington!

Hi, I'm Melissa, one of the organizers of the swap. My family and I are travelling to the Oregon coast this summer for the 4th of July weekend. This picture was actually taken byMeg on a trip our families took to the OR coast together almost 3 years ago. We now have a fourth member to our tribe and our son is like twice the size! I am really looking forward to the extra fun the swap will bring to our travels, as well as seeing all the adventures everyone else take their "friends" on.

Hi I am B and I am 5 years old. My sister S is going to be 3 in a couple weeks. We live in Ooltewah, TN which is really close to Chattanooga. We love traveling, and this summer we are going to go to southern Florida and southern California. We have not done the swap before, but we are looking forward to it!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hi from Alabama

We live in Alabama and we home school. The Dancer is almost 5, and The Robot is 8. We like being outside so much that we do our school in a treehouse! Our blog is about our adventures in life, and the discoveries we make. We did the last swap and had a great time. We made new friends and we still write to them and keep in touch!

We're looking forward to making more friends this time around too!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Simple Photo Journal/Scrapbook Idea

We promised that we would give ideas for cheap and easy scrapbooks, so here is one for now, but we will post more later. This one came from Martha Stewart's Good Things for Kids. It was from an old issue, so we couldn't find the directions online, but they are pretty easy to figure out just from looking at the photo below:

This was made with 5x7 notecards and an old keyring. You could add more embellishments to dress it up a little. This would be an easy for older kids to create on their own. Please feel free to post your ideas, too!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hello from Big Sky Country...

Hi! My name is Zoe... I am 2 1/2 and love this swapping fun! We had such a good time on the last go around we had to do it again.  My mommy loves to scrapbook so that part will be fun for her.  I like pretty much everything... This summer we get to go to see my uncle in a Broadway play, he is a dancer... We are also going to Flat Head Lake to swim and play with all of mommies old friends. Other than that we will be taking our little friend on hikes, to the farmers market, other short trips around Montana, and my favorite the SPLASH park!!! Oh, I almost forgot, we get to go see my Gamma's NEW baby horse, it will be born in July.  I can't wait to meet my new partner! Have a GREAT day...

Hello from Idaho...

Hi! My name is Genny and I am 9 years old!
I live in Idaho with my mom, dad and sometimes people who are like my older brother and sisters. It's pretty fun having teens around!
I am a home schooler and I love art, and music!
This July we are going to Missouri to visit family, (my mom says, "unless gas prices get really high!" ) and to the Ocean. We also go camping a lot! I can't wait to work on the scrapbook!
Hopefully I can make a new friend or penpal! That would be cool!
Thanks for reading this! My mom said I might get to guest post on her blog because I am wording out what she types so good!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hello from Northern Michigan

Hi! I'm S and I am 3 and 1/2. K, my little sister is only 2. Our family lives on an island in Northern Michigan. (Because only about 500 people live on our island, my mama tries not to use our names or faces on-line.) Our island gets a lot of tourists because there are lots of historic things to look at here. K and I would love to send you pictures of our Butterfly House and the old Fort. My mama is a teacher so we get to take our trips in the summer. This year we are going to visit our Grandma and Grandpie in Southern Indiana. While we are in Indiana we will go to Wonder Lab and to Holiday World. Both places are a lot of fun. We can't wait to get to know our new swap partner friends!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Greetings from Upstate NY!

I'm Isaac, and I'm 4 years old. Mommy calls me "Monkey!" My Mommy and I are so excited to be a part of this swap. Daddy's confused about swaps, so he's not as excited. We're taking a few day trips away from our home in Upstate NY, because I've got summer session at school, and I can't miss those days, because I like playing with my speech therapist and my occupational therapist that I see all week. Plus, I'd miss my friends too much! So, Mommy promised me some cool trips that only take a day, and we can do them on the weekend or Mommy's days off from Starbucks. I can't wait to get to know all of you!