Tag Archives: Mom

How Not to Give Your Kids a Trip to Disneyland


Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s been nearly 2 months since I last posted and carry on as though I never left, shall we? Okay then.

For Christmas this year, Mr. LPMD and I decided to surprise our kids with a trip to Disneyland. Not a trip during the Christmas break, but for a bit later in the year, thus we needed to come up with a fun way to let them know what their gift was. (Seeing as how we live on a budget and it would therefore be replacing the majority of what they usually get for Christmas.) Enter brilliant idea numero uno: a treasure hunt.

I grew up with treasure hunts. Like, my mother is the QUEEN of treasure hunt creation. Thus it seemed only fitting to channel my inner mother and do the same, right? Part of the treasure hunt creation curse is that it MUST rhyme. Must. I blame my mother. Again. So here are the clues I came up with. (I changed the number of days because, as much as I love all of you lovely readers, I’d rather not publicly advertise when we’ll be away from home, thanks.)

Merry Christmas to you, and all of the Rays!
We have a big present
It’s really quite pleasant
But you don’t get to have it for 42 days!

I know that’s a long time, but never you fear
To find out what you get,
Don’t cry and don’t fret,
Just follow the clues that you find far and near.

Look for the girl with the crazy red hairs.
I’ve heard she’s quite Brave – she might be downstairs!
{Their clue was accompanied by a new DVD of Brave}

To find the next clue, you must work together,
And search the back porch, no matter the weather.
Might be buried in snow, might be stuck in a crack,
But I’ll give you a hint – the next one is black!
{Nothing fancy – just glued the clue to a black piece of construction paper}

You found it! Great job! Now back inside fast,
You must put on your coats and your gloves and your hats,
And then put on your boots the last thing of all
To find your next clue (which is pretty dang small).
{Clue was hiding inside of one of the boots}

Now that you’re suited and ready to go,
Walk two houses south to somebody you know.
Sing a carol or two when they come to the door,
But you have to sing loud, to get what you came for!
{I had previously delivered the next clue to this neighbor, so she could give it to them after they sang}

Home again, home again, jiggity jig,
Look for the next clue with Ralph, who is big!
You’ll have to look in your bedrooms to find him
The clue that you seek will be hiding behind him.
{Clue hiding with new Wreck It Ralph DVD}

Don’t you love spending Christmas with family all day?
At the hospital, people are working away!
Let’s take them some cookies and spread Christmas cheer
To brighten their day and wish Happy New Year!
{I had the next clue in the car and gave it to them after we delivered the cookies}

Now head to Park City, to see Grandma and Grandpa
Tell them about all your good things from Santa!
Then look for your clue that is hiding with Hugo,
When up, up, and up to the Lego Loft you go.
{The “Lego Loft” is what our family affectionately calls the attic-level playroom at Grandma’s house and the clue was accompanied by a new HUGO DVD}

This is your last clue, so listen up good!
Stay close together, as good siblings should!
If you were a present, then where would you be?
Perhaps it’s not hiding, but _______  ____  _______!

Now all together you can open the box,
But first let me tell you, this gift totally rocks!


Now…what would they find at the end of the hunt? Cue brilliant idea #2: A box, full of stuff to do in the car on the long drive to the park and a cute Mickey Mouse countdown chain and some Disney trading pins and their backpacks/lanyards from Get Away Today (where we purchased our trip) and a Disneyland guidebook and a calendar with the dates of the trip marked. Mr. LPMD contributed the idea of park maps. We gave the big wrapped box to Grandma to already have at her house when we came. It was hidden away and when the kids went upstairs to look for their clue, we pulled it out and put it front and center under the tree.

This was going to be awesome. They were going to be sooooooo excited. We tease and talk about going to Disneyland all of the time. The kids have never been there and frequently ask if we can go. We tell them that we’ll go when they can pay for it. Or when the 1 year old (who’s not a 1 year old anymore) guesses the “secret ingredient” in our dinner without any help. As in: it’s never going to happen, kiddos! So yeah, they’ll be shocked and excited. We’re going to end up with one of those home videos where the kids are told they’re going to Disneyland and they freak out they’re so freaking excited about such a freaking awesome gift. And then Disney would get ahold of the video and love it and want to use it for advertising and give us free trips to Disney parks for life. My kids would be just. like. that.

Clearly, we have some work to do in the excitement department. (And for the record, they ripped 4 links off that chain when they just tossed it aside like garbage. Punks.)

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!


Ideas for a Happier Camping Trip


Today we’re talking camping again! But first, don’t forget to enter to win a free custom made just for you necklace! I’m up to 219 Pinterest followers and the give away will end when I hit 250, so enter and share with your friends!

Okay, let’s get back to camping, shall we? Since sharing my camping packing list with you, we have visited and returned from The Grand Canyon as well as spent a night camping in the middle of the Uintah mountains with some cousins. With those two trips using my list under my belt, I had to make a couple of modifications. Like adding a mallet so we don’t have to  use rocks to drive our tent stakes in next time (oops!) and deleting the sewing kit, which I didn’t even put in the tub anyway. Who sews when they’re camping? Certainly not me – that’s what the duct tape and bungi cords are for, right? If they can’t fix it, it can wait until you get home, I say.

Now that you’ve got a list ready to go, I want to share some tips and tricks for making a camping trip with kids more enjoyable for everyone.


First, let’s start with packing, shall we?

*Start with a packing list.
You can make your own, or you’re welcome to use mine and modify it for your own needs, but use one. It makes it so much less likely that you will forget something important. Like a mallet. To drive in your tent stakes. But DON’T cross anything off that list until it is actually packed! Not even if you intend on going to grab that lantern right after you tie your 4 year old’s shoe for her because we all know that when you’re done with that and then cleaning up the milk your toddler spilled and answering your 7 year old’s question about why he has to pack a pair of underwear for every single day of the trip, you’re going to look at your list and see the lantern crossed off and move on to the next thing and then you’ll be lanternless in the woods. So just…cross things off as they get packed, okay?

*Pack clothes by the day.
I do this by laying out a pair of pants folded in half, and then the shirt half folded on top, and then socks and underwear on top of the shirt and rolling them all together in one bundle. I’ve seen others put each day’s outfit in a ziplock bag or folded together another way. The reason for this is that it keeps kids from digging through the bag looking for their clothes or a certain shirt. Just grab a bundle and you’re good to go.

*Buy a foldable laundry basket or 2 from the dollar store.
I found this tip on these great wide internets and I tell you what, it’s genius. All the dirty clothes go in the laundry hamper and the bag(s) have only clean clothes

*Pre-soap some sponges.
I bought a 6-pack of those cheap yellow sponges with the green scrubby part on top and cut them all in half. I squirted dishsoap on each one and let them dry in the sun before packing them in a ziplock bag together. We didn’t have to pack any extra dishsoap and worry about it opening or leaking and doing dishes was a breeze to just grab a sponge and go. Used sponges went in to a new bag and were rinsed/resoaped when we came home so they’re ready to go again for the next trip.


*Make sure to pack a flower book or a bird book or a bug book or whatever floats your boat.
It is great fun (and shh! even educational!) for the kids to be able to observe and identify the things they find in nature.

When you get to camp…

*Set up first!
No ifs, ands, or buts, set up camp as soon as you get to your site. Get the work out of the way so you’re not hurrying to get that tent up and find everyone’s sleeping bags come bedtime. This is my #1 camping rule.

*Clearly set boundaries around camp.
Take some time to set boundaries for your kids around your campsite so they know where they can and cannot safely play.

Food…I only have two things to say about food


*Plan simple meals.
You don’t want to spend your whole day cooking and cleaning up. Roast hot dogs. Foil dinners. One or two dutch oven dinners if you’re so inclined. Whatever floats your boat, but keep it simple so you can enjoy your trip.


*Make Banana Boats.
Everybody has s’mores camping, which are great and delicious and a must. But we’ve added a new must to the food list – oh the goodness of a banana, sliced down the center, stuffed with yummy things like chocolate chips and mini marshmallows and peanut butter chips and then wrapped in foil and cooked on the hot coals of a campfire! Divine! Some other great things to stuff inside would be those little caramel bits or nuts or toffee bits or even little mint chips. Just typing this makes me want one. Mmmmmmmm.


Other tips for happy camping…

*Bring things for the kids to do.
My camping list includes a tub of kid-friendly activities. I didn’t include everything on the list, but used it as good place for ideas. One thing I put in there that they didn’t really care for was the cut up pool noodles. Just not their thing, I guess. What surprised me was how much my 2 year old loved the beads and pipe cleaners. He spent so much time just stringing them. So figure out what your kids would enjoy and bring it along for them so they can entertain themselves while you’re cooking or just relaxing around the campsite.

And along with that…
CampingTips13*Let kids be kids.
They will do things you wouldn’t, but they will learn to love the outdoors if you let them discover it in their own way.


*Don’t be afraid of the dirt.
I mean, you’re camping in it. They’re going to get dirty. Let them. If you can just relax about it, they’ll be happier and so will you.

*But since they’re so dirty: no shoes in the tent!
This is my #2 rule, right behind setting up when you get there. Bring along a carpet remnant or something for outside the tent door where people can sit and take off their shoes.

*Wet wipes are your friend.
Bring them. And bring lots.

*Bring along some surprises.
I brought along glow bracelets for each night of our Grand Canyon trip. What kid doesn’t love a glow stick? We also had treats/snacks that we don’t usually have. Know what makes your kids happy and surprise them with it!



 *Enjoy and explore nature together.
That’s why you’re camping, isn’t it? So stop and watch the water skeeter flit across the pond. Break open the flower book and figure out what that pretty purple and yellow one is called. Spend a moment in awe of the big beautiful clouds. It’s good for you.


 *Participate in a Junior Ranger Program.
Most (if not all) state and national parks have junior ranger programs for the kids. They learn a lot about a lot and if you have a kid like one of mine, they’ll just eat it up. So if you’re camping in a park, do it!

CampingTips5 *Have kids carry their own packs.
If you’re going to do any hiking, there’s no reason for you to haul around water and snacks for everyone else. Have a way for kids to carry things themselves. It gives them control and responsibility, which is good for everyone.


 *Watch a sunset together.
They’re beautiful and awe inspiring. What other reason do you need?


 *On at least one of your camping trips each summer, take a family picture outside.
You could ask a stranger to take it or bring a tripod and use your camera’s timer, but take one. You’re all going to be dirty and gross, but do it anyway. In all its imperfections, it will be a picture you love, I promise.

And last but not least:
Things are not going to go the way you planned. The 3 year old and the 2 year old are going to whine on every hike and want Dad and only Dad to carry them or hold their hands. Somebody’s going to get hurt. The dutch oven meal isn’t going to cook as fast as you hoped. The toddler won’t sleep at night. It will rain and be too cold or not rain and be too hot. Just roll with it. Nature is unpredictable and that’s what makes it amazing so take things as they come and enjoy your trip!

Happy Campers


*If you’re here from Pinterest to see my camping checklist, check out my giveaway going on now and get in on the action!*

I am in the midst of preparing for a family camping trip to the Grand Canyon we’ll be taking later this summer. My family did a lot of camping growing up and I remember it as always being so much fun. I still enjoy camping an awful lot, but you know what? It’s a whole different beast when you’re the adult in charge of planning, packing, feeding, and keeping everyone alive for 4-5 days in the dirt!


We’ve been on a few camping trips with our kids before, but I’m determined to make this one as low-stress as possible, especially since it will include a looooooooooooong drive before and after as well!

To that end, I’ve been searching out some tips and tricks for making our little roughing it stint a little less rough for mom {that’s me}. You can find links to a lot of good ideas, recipes, etc. here on my camping board.


One thing that I haven’t used before but really want this year is an extensive packing list. I found a few different ones, but not one that fit just right, so I plunged through the lists buffet style, picking and choosing what looks pleasing to my palate and came up with my own list. My intention is to get a few big plastic tubs and fill them with our camping stuff by category and then just leave that stuff in there, making packing for future trips as easy as 1-2-3. And since I’m feeling ever so generous today, I turned it into a pdf to share with all of you! Don’t you feel lucky?

Camping1{apparently I am incapable of posting a picture of the pdf, so you’ll have to click on the above picture)

My list includes a kitchen tub (no food!), a general camping stuff tub, a keeping kids busy tub, personal bags, and all the other big stuff/equipment that you can’t fit into a tub. As should be pretty obvious from the size of the thing, this list is for car camping trips rather than backpacking trips. I mean, if the length of the thing didn’t give it away, the amount of clothing required for a 3 year old ought to.

Now that the list is made, all I have to do is make sure I’ve got it all and can fit it into the car. That’s the easy part, right? Right?!

Oh yeah, and figure out what to feed people…

PS – Check out my new post for some tips and tricks to make camping with kids more fun for everyone!

Real Life Trumps Blogging


It’s possible you’ve noticed already (seeing as how it’s been over a month since my last post and it’s not the first time that’s happened), but for me, blogging takes a back seat to life. And let me tell you, at the end of the school year around here, life is all we have time for. And over the summer? Yeah, we try to live it up then to. So while I may not be around much this summer, I’ll be doing stuff. And I may even blog some of that stuff. But I make no promises.

As for the past couple of months, we’ve been busy with Batman’s first season of soccer:

Filling up the garage with thrift store things to refinish so I have to park in the driveway:

Helping with Grandma’s annual “Harry Potter Camp”:

Paying people to leave big holes in our bathroom floor:

Celebrating the last day of school:

The Princess’ first year doing track club…

And crying over the fact that my camera whacked out and deleted ALL of my pictures of the Princess at her first track meet.

Pin Love


Today I feel like sharing a few of my favorite pins that I’ve found in the past week or so. It may become a regular thing. Or not. {PS – the photos are links back to the pin if you want to click on them.} Enjoy!

I’m thinking we’ll try dying eggs like this tonight. I’m sure the kids will LOVE it!

Instructions for Volcano Colored Eggs: Mix together a tbsp of baking soda, couple tsps of water and some food coloring. Now, grab your paint brushes and begin painting your eggs. Then pour vinegar it on top of the egg & watch the “volcanic eruption” take place.You can repeat steps 2, 3, & 4 over & over until you’re ready to move onto another egg. Lastly, pat off any excess vinegar or simply let them air dry.

If this is true, it’s awesome! Someone go to a Disney park and come back to tell us if it works! {Better yet, take me with you!}

If you yell “Andy’s coming!” in front of Buzz or Woody at a Disney park they will stop what they’re doing and drop.

Wrapped V-neck High Waist Maxi Dress

Oh how I want this tub. Times 1000.

The Tub I Really Really Would LOVE in My Bathroom

I loved reading this article (and more on the blog too!) and have decided to take on the challenge of not yelling at my kids. Starting small over here with just a month long goal. Had to start over today because yesterday was…unsuccessful.

10 things I learned when I stopped yelling at my kids. Great parenting and relationship read.

And last but not least:

Do you have any favorite pins from the week? Please share in the comments!