Shoebox Packing

One of my favorite charity activities every year has long been packing shoeboxes! I LOVED the advice I got last year from this blog “Unsolicited Advice About Shoeboxes”ย and it changed WHAT I pack but not so much HOW I pack.

If you have tips share them in the comments!

Here is a diagram of my box for a 5-9 year old boy:

The bottom layer: pack of 8 colorful ink pens, box of colored pencils, unsharpened neon pencils, blue bandana, comb, bar of soap, fat 4X6ish notebook & turned against the side of the box a pouch with a toothbrush, toothbrush cover & toothpaste in it.ย 20161029_185810

Top Layer: Melamine bowl with cars on it (least weird design I could find) and a matching sturdy cup turned sideways to fit in bowl. Inside the cup is a blue led flashlight with batteries in it and a three pack of new extra batteries, a pencil sharpener and 3 large erasers. Next to the bowl is a green string backpack folded up, a 3 pack of green washcloths folded, a squishy ball that looks like Earth, a pair of sunglasses with a 3 pack of decorative striped and polka dot socks folded through the middle and finally hard candy and bubble gum sprinkled everywhere it can fit.

Tucked in between the backpack & washcloths (so hard to see): a small squishy soccer ball, plastic gold coins, 2 self inking stampers.

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Lid can close securely but will still be rubber banded for extra closure. To be added is a personal note from my son & our prepaid shipping form.

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T.R.A.V.E.L. with Young Kids

Whats the secret to traveling with young kids?

 

Lots of wine, just kidding I actually don’t really drink but it seemed fitting ๐Ÿ™‚

For me it all boils down to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tricks, ask friends, family & the internet for their favorite travel tricks and choose the ones that suite your child & destination. I think my favorite travel trick for almost all age kids is candy! I pack a bag of dumdums and m&ms, and use them as bribes, rewards and to help ears pop on the plane ๐Ÿ™‚

Research, not everyone loves research but it really does make for smoother travel. I watched parents turned away from a flight for arriving too late for check in, waiting in line for a ride their child could not ride and begging their children to stop crying when theirs ears began to hurt because she’d forgotten to bring anything to help them (I passed out suckers on this one but not everyone will have a helpful stranger). All of these little joy suckers were preventable by research.

Adaptablity, Be prepared to change plans! I love research, i’m a planner by nature but I am very willing to adapt the plan if it’s not working for us or a better option comes along! We got to do everything we wanted in Epcot by lunch thanks to short lines early so we adapted by heading to Hollywood Studios which I had done some research on as a backup anyway and I whipped out my phone to double check a few things as we rode the bus too. Some really special moments happened there that made the day and were never in the original plan!

Vigor, Ok this isn’t fully in your control if you have health issues but be as physically ready as possible! Keep everyone well rested, well fed and have necessities like water, sunscreen and bandaids readily available. It makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy the goings on of travel!

Expectations, I can’t stress enough how important it is to manage your expectations when you are with small children! If you expect them to keep up with an adult pace, or to have no little meltdowns or issues you are setting everyone up for failure and disappointment! We had at least 1 teary episode per day (usually less than 2 minutes but still tears!) over everything from a scary loud toilet to chicken that tasted wrong. I consider this 100% success. Having less than 30 minutes of tears total per day was my goal for the 1.5 & 4 year olds and we came in well under so I was ecstatic!

Luck, It would be intellectually dishonest to tell myself there isn’t luck involved! Even with the best planning, attitude, kids, etc. there is always an element of luck! We had no flight delays, pleasant weather, no lost luggage…in other words alot went our way! Any of these could have thrown a wrench in a lovely vacation and made it less pleasant but thankfully they didn’t for us… this tim

 

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Happy Wife, Happy Life is ruining marriage

All those “cute” sayings that insinuate women need to be the focus of a marriage (or men) are pretty harmful ideas about relationships so i’d like to share a few things that have actually helped in my own marriage.

I’m celebrating seven years of marriage today. I have a stinkin awesome husband but I think the reason our marriage works so well has little to do with either of us, in fact I think the reason our marriage works so well is neither of us think it’s about us!

Marriage isn’t about one or both of us being happy. Are we happy? Absolutely! Is that the purpose of our marriage though?

No.

We have recognized some truths that spare of us from so many of the relationship pitfalls many of our friends and loved ones face.

Disclaimer* We are not perfect or walking around on rainbows while music plays from the clouds and we are not happy every minute of everyday, I am in no way qualified to speak on marriage but in our 7 years we have gleaned countless wise pieces of advice from a number of sources so why not put them together for people with even less experience than me! (Or people with more who haven’t encountered this awesome advice.)

1. God must be the center. Everything in the world is temporary, save God, if you are both walking toward God then you will also always be drawing closer together. “Drifting apart” or feeling “disconnected” can’t happen.

2. Marriage is a tool to sanctify us, not make us deliriously happy all day long. I LOVE my house, I love being home but if someone told me I was going to Disney World and took me to my house I would be disappointed. Given the choice to live in my house or Disney though it’s hands down, I want to be home. Marriage is my home, I went into expecting the work and upkeep that comes with maintaining a home not the expectations of nonstop entertainment, catering and excitement that comes with Disney and because of it I get to thoroughly enjoy each day of it.

3. Failure is not an option, we took time before we got married (premarital counseling, I highly recommend it ya’ll) to make sure we were ready then we got married THEN we stayed married for a few years before we decided to have kids. Waiting gave us time to adjust to life as a unit, work out our communication, and get to do all the fun spontaneous things you can do before kids like spur of the moment travel ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Get up everyday and make the choice not just to love your spouse but to show it through actions. (And when you simply can’t at least apologize so they know you tried!) We are always trying to finish a project or chore for one another and it makes us both feel valued.

5. Don’t put so much emphasis in gifts and holidays. Women are really bad at this, they blow these things up in their minds then get let down/hurt/angry/etc. when the gifts/presentation/setting don’t meet their expectations. We like our holidays super low key, it takes the stress, pressure and expense out of celebrating! We like to get each other little just because surprises frequently instead (I might buy a favorite snack for his work bag or he might pick me up a sweet tea and bring it to home or work for me).

So many people have told/shown us so many wonderful things to do over the years but these are a few of my favorites I thought I’d share.

 

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I’m a Better Mother Than You.

Booyah.

I’m better than you, let me tell you all the reasons my parenting choices are better than yours.

If you know me you knew I wasn’t actually making that statement seriously and yet all over the land of internetdom that exact sentence is being screamed, shouted, cried and begged in so many more words.

Yep. The Mommy Wars. They don’t exist…or do they.

They have left a deep scar on the collective psyche of women in their parenting years so there must be some truth to the term. If you look to Merriam Webster and find the definition of war as ” a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism” then you can safely bet your paycheck the mommy wars are real, happening and destructive.

The topics are endless…. I mean seriously endless. EVERY issue a parent has ever faced can become a skirmish. Even issues almost no parent has ever faced but still theoretically could pertain to parenting cause the tongue lashings to begin.

Breast, bottle, organic, processed, cosleeping, cry it out, potty training methods 1 through 793, gender neutrality, gender roles, baby education, benefits of child classes in various art forms, child led weaning, daycare, stay at home, working, father roles, technology, seriously no joke this list could just keep growing for eternity and NO ONE WOULD EVER BE RIGHT.

But what about the benefits of…Nope.

But science says that…Nope.

But my friend does …Nope.

[Disclaimer, I am OBVIOUSLY not referring to matters of safety, I am talking about issues where it is all subjective and the child is not endangered. That’s a crime not a parenting choice so please don’t pull out the lunatics who refuse all health care, people who give their children dangerous substances, etc.]

I’m talking about good old fashioned preference. Whether you have science, your doctor,ย six generations of your family or anyone else backing you up on these choices they are still just that: choices.

Every kid is different. Really. I can’t say it enough because our society seems to hear it as every child is special (and beautiful and unique and blah blah blah) but that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that every child is a tiny human being with emotions, personalities and preferences. What works for one kid will not work for all kids. Period.

For every method there are success stories. AND a bunch of failures too.

If we could stop telling ourselves that who our children become is entirely on our shoulders and recognize that within the confines of any healthy loving home most kids are going to turn out just fine we might could stop the wars.

If you didn’t think you were solely responsible for whether your child becomes obese some day you might not go postal over the thought of them tasting a non-organic snack once in a while.

If you didn’t convince yourself that the deciding factor between your child becoming a CEO or an exotic dancer is her exposure to the arts you might stop putting her in a dozen dance, art and music lessons and judging everyone who isn’t.

So maybe these wars exist, although I contend it is largely within the confines of the great anonymous portal we call the internet and that out here in the real world women aren’t judging each other this harshly. (Because it’s harder to pretend your kids are perfect when people can actually see them (you know awake and stuff).

So next time you see an opposing view (that’s wouldn’t cause child protective services to raise an eyebrow) think about what your saying before you say it and if the other person is going to read it and hear you saying “I’m a better mother than you” just don’t say it.

Even better, next time someone is sharing just listen. If they want advice they will ask. I promise. Until then it’s ok just to listen even if they are making choices you wouldn’t make. By listening you may gain their respect enough that they will actually WANT your advice sometime. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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