In-Flight Entertainment

Entertaining a toddler with never ending demands and an attention span the size of a peanut can be extremely daunting, this is especially so, when said toddler has to be confined to 18″ wide seat for what some might feel like hours on end, even if it’s only an hour long flight.  So, wether it really is an hour long flight, or 15 hours, here are some ideas for entertaining small children on the airplane.

Books, Puzzles, and (some) Electronics

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So… I tend to over pack in all aspects of the term.  I recently got the boys new carry-ons to hold all of their traveling fun and they are the perfect size for someone like me (and my boys) who wants to bring ALL the things!  First things first, books.  Both of my boys, like most children, LOVE books.  I try to pack at least 8-10 of our favorite books, small/ lightweight ones for the plane, and the others get checked with the luggage.  Books are the easiest entertainment in my opinion.  My boys read the whole library of books I bring, repeated amounts of times, on every trip we go on together.  Sooooo books are a no brainer, and I’m sure you all knew that.

Small puzzles are such a great airplane activity.  We like these Melissa and Doug ones and I just recently got this Djeco AnimaBasic for Remy because they help with his sorting skills in addition to his fine motor skills.  Speaking of fine motor skills, this Melissa and Doug Lace & Trace is sooooo good for killing time, but the little ones might need more of your attention because they will need a bit of help, but my kids “need” my attention 100% of the time, so nothing new here…

As for electronics, we do have iPads for the boys, and we do use them often on flights, but I prefer that to be a last resort option (more about that later).  The electronic I like to whip out first would be this LeapFrog My Own Leaptop.  It has different levels of skills for toddlers which is nice because what Remy is learning in school is certainly not what Bennett is learning.  It’s nice that you can change the program to something a little more advanced for the older kiddos.

Play-doh & Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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Ok, if you have kids on a plane and you do not bring Play-Doh, I don’t know how you do life.  In fact, I don’t want to know, because there is no better place to bust out play-doh than on a plane (I NEVER DO PLAY-DOH IN MY HOUSE).  I keep this sacred activity special by only allowing it on the plane.  Now, they play with Play-Doh at school almost every.single.day… they certainly are not deprived of it.  I just prefer the nasty crusty mess to be somewhere else.  K, thanks!

P.S. bring ALL the accessories- not just the Doh. Again, part of my over packing problem.

We also tend to over indulge in small airplanes, trains, and monster trucks, but who doesn’t?

Window Clings

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I feel like this is another “duh” product that everyone knows about and uses, but in case you haven’t seen these things before, or maybe you haven’t thought to bring them on the plane, do it!  This most recent flight, Bennett was more interested in the Play-Doh than the window clings, but let me tell you, when we had downtime at the resort, those boys proudly displayed almost every single window cling we brought on the windows in our room.  The best part, they can be used again and again.  I found these to be the most economical.

More random small stuff...

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The fox sweatband is Bennett’s headphones that he just started allowing me to put on him.  They are soft on his ears so if he happens to lean his head against the window or lay in our lap they are not all bulk and in the way.  He can easily sleep with this on his head.

I always find a lot of small travel activities in the dollar section at Target.  The little Dinosaur book, card games, stickers, etc… all from that (soul sucking) section that you cannot avoid when you first walk in to the mega store.

Have y’all played with Kinetic Sand?!?  Ummmm… can we all agree it’s so much better than Play-Doh?!?  I always grab a couple packs of it when I see it to throw in for extra fun on the plane.  To me it is not nearly as messy.

I also bring a pencil bag (the shark one pictured above) full of those special markers that only mark on special paper. Such magical little things!

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Now this Skodzy set was initially introduced to me by Bennett’s speech therapist who has really been such a blessing to our family.  For those who may or may not know, Bennett was a late talker and struggled behaviorally (think frustrated because he couldn’t express what he wanted, when he wanted) for a while before starting the therapy.  He started right when he turned 3 years old and not even a year later, he is a totally different child.  He talks with ease (almost too much now) and is so much happier in life now that he can communicate.  I highly recommend this for anyone who thinks their kid needs a little push with speech.  Anyway, this activity is great for helping your kids learn their prepositions such as over, under, beside, and on top of.  You can say something like, can you put the green peg on top of the red peg, and they will do as you ask.  You can make it more complex with numbers and color coordination.  My son loves this “game”.

Thoughts about the iPad

So, here are my thoughts on the iPad… I am ALL ABOUT the iPad.  My problem is, the iPad is a special treat while traveling, so my kids are not the best navigators on the iPad which causes a lot of melt downs at the absolute worst times on the airplane.  Which sucks, this is a double edged sword for me.  I don’t want them playing on an iPad at home.  When my kids have access to YouTube Kids on the iPad- its like a crazy vortex that takes over their ability to be human beings and they instantly become zombies.  Then, when you are on an airplane and you cannot stream YouTube Kids- they are psycho!!!  It’s seriously the worst.  Now, Bennett is getting better at navigating around and finding matching games that can entertain him an entire 2 hour flight (crazy!!), but with Remy, he is unreasonable and I dread the moment he loses it while playing on the iPad which happens within minutes of getting his little hands on it.  I know I will grow to like to iPad… Remy just needs to mature a little bit before I do.  For now, it’s my last resort.

The New Carry-On!!

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I’m obsessed.  Great size, fits right under the seat in front of you on the plane.  Some might not like it because it is quite large for small kids, but if your kids are like mine and enjoy having their own bag of tricks, this is a great option!  It holds ALL the things!  Seems that’s the theme of this post… ALL THE THINGS!

You can find it here.

I hope this post was somewhat helpful! Oh!  And if all else fails, SNACKS!!!  Bring ALL THE SNACKS!!

xx


Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Oh, Belize… you were so good to us.

Going to Belize, I really had no idea what to expect.  Everything that I heard about Belize was not the most flattering of reviews.  People said the bugs are insane (which they are, but manageable), that Belize wasn’t the best idea for a family vacation (false), the infrastructure was terrible (yes, but… whatever).  As soon as we arrived at the resort, White Sands Cove, (three flights and almost 5 hours of travel), I knew I would never want to leave.  This place was pure paradise.

The backstory… so my good friend (you all know her- Laura- she takes all of my family photos) went to a charity event and won the trip at an auction.  When she was telling me about it at church one Sunday a few months ago, I obnoxiously and overwhelmingly invited myself and my whole family to tag along with!  Of course, she said yes, because… who wouldn’t want me and my two terrorist (JOKING!!) children to join them on their fabulous trip?!?  All in all, I’m so glad we went with another family.  The kids entertained each other and the adults got to hang out and sip the local cocktail favorites.

We spent a lot of our time hanging by the pool, beaching at the not-so-secret Secret Beach, eating so much good food, drinking all the drinks, and oh, yes (!!), we took a private catamaran trip for a whole day where my TWO YEAR OLD swam with sharks!  No need to clean your glasses, or re-read that last line.  You saw correctly.  My baby, Remy James, swam with sharks in Belize.  We did some snorkeling too.  Did you spy the Spotted Eagle Rays and Green Moray Eel in the underwater pictures above???

We drove around town to see all the sights via golf cart which is the ideal transportation on the island.  The roads are very rough, but not the worst I’ve ever seen.  Everything was extremely casual.  No need to dress up for any of the restaurants, even the nice ones on rooftops were shorts and flip flop appropriate.  Speaking of restaurants, the food… my mouth is still watering over the wonderful Snapper they would prepare in the Belizean way, wrapped in foil with spices, peppers, and onions.  Wowza!  So yummy!  Another thing, the first language of Belize is English.  All of the signs and locals speak it perfectly, no language barrier whatsoever.  This makes traveling there even more perfect!

Our whole family had the best time with our friends in this wonderful country!  Hope you guys enjoy the pictures!


Big Sky, Montana

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Has anyone been to Big Sky, Montana?!?  This was a first for us and it was incredible!  And cold!!  The highs never got above 30 and it snowed almost every day we were there which was pretty chilly for these Floridians.

The trip was dedicated to skiing with our friends, we stayed in a ski in/ ski out home that was absolutely fabulous, but unfortunately Bennett (who was allowed to start ski school because he is 3 and potty trained) did NOT enjoy it.  Not surprising… it takes him a while to warm up to new things, but he didn’t even give it a second chance.  I’m hoping we can do another ski trip next year and try again, that way Remy will be able to join in on the fun and hopefully encourage Bennett to try.  Although, I must say, Remy HATED being cold.  Every time we went out and played he cried the entire time (see solo picture above ha ha ha!).

I took a lesson since I haven’t skied in over 15 years.  I learned so much in that three hour private lesson than I ever did as a teenager.  I feel like as adults we appreciate the time and energy it takes to do activities like skiing, so we pay attention better as to really avoid hurting ourselves ;).  I didn’t want to go home with two very energetic little boys and a broken leg or hip!  So, I was very attentive and felt like I got the hang of it fairly quickly.  Now… I’m very slowwwwwww.  This mama won’t be going down a black diamond any time soon.  But, I did enjoy myself every day that I got to ski and cannot wait for the next time!  Husband grew up going on ski trips with his family and friends, so he is a fantastic skier.  He picked right back up where he left off and was feeling pretty sore after the first day going down blacks.  He was super sweet and went skiing with me a couple of times and was super patient while coaching me down the mountains.  Love him.

When we weren’t on the mountain shredding powder ;) we were hanging with our kiddos.  We got to experience authentic dog sledding which was an interesting adventure.  It was like a blizzard that day and the kiddos were freezing, so just getting them into the sled was a complete sh*t show.  Everyone was staring at us like, get your kids under control and wipe the snot please.  But once the doggies started running and as long as they were at full speed, my boys were silent and enjoyed the moment and scenery.  It was so beautiful.  I don’t think I will ever need to go dog sledding ever again, but at least I can check that off the bucket list.

Another day was spent traveling over to West Yellowstone where we actually got to drive through the outer side of the national park (gorgeous, would love to go back in the summer) and visited the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.  The boys loved it!  The wolves were stunning and so interactive.  We only saw one bear and he seemed a bit old… but still entertaining for a few minutes while he moved logs around and ate.  Highly recommend if you are visiting the area with small children, it’s nothing fancy but it was interesting.

Most of all, what made the trip so fun was going with some of our great friends and their kiddos.  We spent many nights making dinner at home, warming up in the hot tub, and cuddling up enjoying the log burning fireplace with a nice glass of wine.  We had a great time and hope to visit again real soon!

 

 


Alaska on the Disney Wonder

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If you are considering taking a cruise through Alaska,  if you are dreaming of taking a cruise through Alaska, if taking a cruise through Alaska is a top bucket list item, if you have heard about cruises through Alaska and you thought to yourself, “hmmm… that might be something I want to do some day”… Stop whatever planning you have for your next family vacation (you know it’s probably somewhere Caribbean…), and book a freaking cruise through Alaska!!

We decided, on a whim, to make the trek to the opposite coast to catch the Disney Wonder for a 7 night cruise out of Vancouver, B.C. and I can’t even begin to describe how great it was!  We stayed in a hotel that was connected to the boat terminal called Pan Pacific and they all but carried us to the boat.  They brought our Disney luggage tags, transported our luggage to the boat so we didn’t have to hassle with them, and we just went down the elevator the morning of departure, checked in, and got right on!  Not one issue whatsoever!  Here is a view from our room of the boat:

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Now, I did not have the highest expectations for this cruise even though everything I had heard about Disney Cruise Line was extremely positive.  To be honest, I’m just not a cruise person.  I like to plan my own trips, be able to rent a car and just go.  I don’t like the idea of being confined on a big ol’ boat, around thousands of people I don’t know, in a shoebox sized room, with germs everywhere… ewww…. but y’all, this Disney cruise exceeded every single expectation… by a lot!

From the moment we set foot on the boat and they introduced our family to the whole entire boat our experience started.  We went and ate fine dining, which you would think with kids would be a complete sh*t show, but for some reason it was like a dream.  Disney sure knows how to pick their employees, they all seemed to LOVE my children!  I mean, my kids are no angels, and I don’t even pretend that they are.  They can be real a**holes sometimes.  But the staff, literally every single one, pretended to LOVE my kids.  It was a little weird at first, but you get used to it.

Next, we explored the ship.  First things first, the kids club and nursery. This is where you can drop your kids pretty much any time of day (if not all day ;)) and they can play and be entertained with children their own ages!  DREAM!!!!  So if you and your hunny want to frolic around like teenagers, go see a movie, get drunk… kids club is what’s up!  If you scroll up to where you see Bennett in a area that looks like “Andy’s Room” from Toy Story, he literally would wake up wanting to go to kids club.  And surprisingly, Remy didn’t mind the nursery!  Again, all of the workers were super friendly, always knew my kids names, the check in and check out was super secure, and if the kids were ever not 100% happy and wanted us, they would call us on our portable ship phone which is in every stateroom.

Speaking of stateroom, they were cleaned twice a day, spotless.  One night we ordered room service (because it doesn’t cost anything on the boat- yeah, you heard that correctly) and Bennett accidentally spilled BBQ sauce on the carpet.   I quickly cleaned it up and thought no one could see where it was, well, I have no idea how they knew, but our carpets were professionally cleaned the next morning while we were out on an excursion.  CRAZY!!!  We had a veranda were we had plenty of whale sightings.  We even witnessed a baby Orka learning life strategies from it’s mama!  It was amazing!  We also saw icebergs, up close and personal, going through the Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier (pictured above).  Just stunning!

We did plenty of excursions, I cannot even remember them all.  One of our favorites was the train ride via White Pass and Yukon Railway (starting from Skagway) which takes you across the U.S./ Canadian boarder.  The views from the train cars are incredible. Bennett especially enjoyed this!  Remy participated, but chose to take a nap instead of enjoy the scenery.

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  Another thing we really loved was the seaplane!  It was about an hour long ride in and out of the misty fjords.  It was stunning!  We couldn’t get out (which was the plan) because of the rain, but it was still a great experience.  It’s all Bennett could talk about for weeks!

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Again, Remy participated, but chose to sleep instead of enjoy the views.

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For the seaplane excursion, we got to ride in this trolley to the Docks!

The other excursion we really loved was whale watching in Juneau! Unfortunately, it was a longer excursion, I think it was about 6 hours total, and Remy was not able to participate (age) so he had to stay in the nursery.  Which, again, he didn’t mind ;).  So it was just  husband, Bennett, & I!

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We also got to hike a little bit to see Mendenhall Glacier!

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But every day we would get back on the boat, have a fun dinner, see something entertaining, and enjoyed it to the fullest!  I hope this post inspires some of you to take the adventure to Alaska.  Even with small children, it was truly remarkable!

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Los Cabos, Mexico

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I wish I had all the time in the world to write the most detailed blog post about our trip to Cabo right now, but to be honest, I have two boys who are still awake (it’s 10PM on a school night) and just keeping it real… the pictures tell the story. BUT I’ll say a few words anyway ;)

It was a glorious week in paradise with our family!  The boys enjoyed being transferred from the pool to the beach, then back to the pool again just to want to go back to the beach once more.  This was pretty much the daily routine :) We did rent a car one of the days and drove into San Jose del Cabo where we walked around the cute historic district filled with restaurants and shops.  Every morning when we would wake up, Husband & I would make our coffee and we would sit out on the balcony and watch the whales.  One morning there were at least 15-20 whales way out in the distance blowing their air holes and breaching.  It was absolutely amazing!  Seriously made my day every morning.  On Thursday we chartered a sailboat out of Cabo San Lucas where we enjoyed some light snorkeling (my brother in law says he saw a white tipped reef shark- no… just, no.), did some more whale watching (this time it was much more up close and personal), saw a huge pod of dolphins, and then sailed the Sea of Cortez/ Pacific Ocean.

We ate so many tacos, quesadillas, skirt steak, chips and guac, and ceviche- I swear I gained 10 lbs in a week.  Not to mention all the margaritas that were heavily flowing ;)

It was a beautiful vacation, much needed for this hard working husband of mine.  I’m so thankful for my in laws and their generosity and for inviting us to tag along with our energetic, slightly bi-polar boys!  We love y’all!

P.S. take note of the incredible sunsets!!


Sullivan’s Island, SC

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Just wanted to hurry up and get this post up before things start getting crazy around here… well, crazier around here, as Hurricane Irma is approaching this weekend and we are still watching it closely to see what our plan is going to be.  As of right now we plan to stay put and ride it out, but as the satellite images are starting to shift the storm westward, I’m getting a little more anxious.

For Labor Day weekend, my sweet friend Courtney planned this awesome getaway for us and a couple other families to stay on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina.  It was just a hop, skip, and a jump from Charleston, which we had the pleasure of being tourists in for a day.  We drove into the charming city, where we had brunch with my cousin Eddie and his sweet wife, Maryann, and their beautiful daughter, Emilia.  They were so hospitable showing us around their city, we cruised down King Street, saw the theater that was featured in The Notebook (I didn’t link it, but if you don’t know what that is, we shouldn’t be friends), walked around Waterfront Park and even did a horse and carriage tour!  It is such a gorgeous town!  I plan to visit again soon, even if it’s just for food!

Anyway, Sullivan’s Island was so quaint and just what I expected.  We stayed in a great house right on the beach, the babies got to pretty much roam free, ate at some super cute restaurants, and cruised around on golf carts.  The lighthouse was definitely one of the main highlights.  And all of the barges hauling goods up and down the coast… the boys were in heaven!

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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My gorgeous friend, Laura, captured the following picture of Bennett & I on the beach, and I’m obsessed.  He was being abnormally cuddly that morning which I just ate up… I really need to cherish these snuggly moments, because they will soon be few and far between…IMG_5648

 


Maui, Hawaii

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Seriously… I cannot get over the beauty of Maui!  Looking at these pictures from our trip make me so eager to go back!  Although, I think I will wait until I can control my kiddos a little bit better ;) That flight home was pretty brutal, not gonna lie.  Also, I need to go back when Husband can come with us.  Unfortunately he had to work this time, but there was NO WAY I would have ever missed the incredibly romantic wedding of my sweet cousin, Kelly.  It was held at the Four Seasons Wailea where they set up on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.  My little man, Bennett, was the ring bearer, and he did not disappoint… just kidding, he had a meltdown and had to be removed from the wedding completely, but no one will remember that because there was so much other awesome stuff going on during the ceremony such as a gentleman blowing a conch shell, a ukulele playing some authentic Hawaiian tunes, then the bride and groom exchanging their written vows.  It was seriously amazing!  I was so honored, she chose me as her Matron of Honor, it truly was so special.IMG_4577

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I cannot take credit for the some of the beautiful pictures that follow, but I wanted to share them!

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FullSizeRenderIMG_5085Obviously, we couldn’t go all the way to Maui and not do the Road to Hana!  I really should have done some research before I went, of course I did not wear a bathing suit to get in the waterfalls or the water at Black Sand Beach :( And I’m not sure why I thought Tory Burch sandals were the perfect shoe attire…  but I made it!  And so did my shoes!  It was stunning, just stunning.  Every curve brought excitement to keep going and see more!  But it was a VERY long day in the car, so if you plan to do this… be prepared for at least 9 hours of winding, cliffy, driving.FullSizeRenderIMG_4095

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That night we checked out a Hawaiian luau, the drinks were flowing and plenty of boomerangs were taken.  It was a good time!  The next morning a small group of us crawled out of bed at 3 AM to see the sunrise above the clouds at Haleakala.  This was probably one of the top 3 most amazing things I have ever done in my life.  The view was  heavenly, that’s the best way to describe it…IMG_4868

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I have to thank my mother in law, Debbie.  She flew all the way out to Maui to help me with my boys, and when I say she went above and beyond for me, she did!  I got to experience the whole wedding and all of the fun events that Kelly had planned without having to worry about my babies at all.  That was priceless for me, and I appreciate you so much, Debbie!

{Random Thought :: I also want to highly recommend Mama’s Fish House for lunch or dinner , it was fantastic!}

Scrolling through these pictures, I’m feeling so blessed to have been able to experience this with Kelly and her new hubby, Randy!  They are seriously the cutest couple and they totally complete each other!  I love them both so much…

Hey Kel, we should try to go back every couple of years ;)  wouldn’t that be a fun tradition??