A Tale Of 7 Cities…

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We were nearing the end of my husband’s music tour across Eastern Canada when I received a text from a friend about how jelous she was of my “glamorous” life. When you are traveling to 7 cities in seven days, spending nearly 38 hours in the car with a 3 and 6 year old, “glamorous” is not the first word that comes to my mind! 🙂 We had run out of juice for my son’s cup and he was crying (mostly from exhaustion) and begging for his cup. We decided to pull off the highway and run into the nearest grocery store. We spotted a Zehrs, pulled in front of the door, and I hopped out. My husband asked me to hurry as he was running late for soundcheck in the next city. I ran through the store, grabbed the juice and a few other snacks and headed to the cash. There were only 3 cash lines open and all of them had substantial lines. I chose the one that looked shortest and tried to patiently wait my turn. After what seemed like an eternity it was finally my turn! I dumped the contents of my basket onto the belt and retrieved my debit card from my wallet. I quickly figured out why the lines were moving so slowly. The sweet cashier was a chatty one! She started to tell me a story about her neighbours ex daughter-in-law and the custody battle she was involved in. I was begining to feel like her story was never going to end, when my total popped up and she asked for $24.50. I swiped my card and started gathering my grocery bags. “Sorry Ma’m, but your debit card is declined” she announced. “What?…that’s impossible” I thought, “Greg assured me we had money in our account!”. It must have been a glitch. I swiped the card again and waited..it was still not working! I could feel my cheeks getting hot as the eyes of the impatient man behind me were staring mercilessly at me. I had no cash or credit card with me. I had just waited all this time in line and I knew my three year old was likely still crying in the van. “You could try redeeming points from your PC Plus card” the cashier suggested. I had never done that before but it was worth a try! To my amazement I had just enough to pay for my entire order. Thank you Lord! (apparently the gas station where I had filled up our van had a security breach with their debit cards and all cards used that day were compromised and immediately deactivated.) I grabbed my bags and ran out to the van. “What happened to you in there?” my husband questioned “I thought you were going to be quick?!” We peeled out of the parking lot and within good time arrived at the city where his next concert was being held. My husband dropped us off at the hotel and he hurried over to the venue.

I loaded my shoulders with all of our bags and guided my two children up the elevator and into our hotel room. I set some toys out for my kids and retreated to the bathroom. I was longing to wash my face and flat iron my hair in peace and quiet! 🙂 I was in the bathroom for 15 minutes when my children started calling for me to come out and “see something”. I opened the door of the bathroom to my children shouting “surprise!” “We decorated for your birthday!” They had toilet papered the entire room. I tried not to look upset as I scanned the room. It was not my birthday and this was not the kind of surprise I was hoping for! We cleaned up the “party” mess, and decided to head to the hotel pool for a swim. The kids excitedly put on their bathing suits, grabbed their water wings and took the elevator down to the pool. When we arrived at the pool a lifeguard was sitting at the door and informed us that the pool was closed for a private swimming lesson. My kids started to cry. “I have a fun idea!” I suggested, “Let’s go back to the room and order some room service!” (When you are alone in a hotel with 2 kids and the pool is closed, your idea of “fun” gets pretty creative!) We took the elevator back up to our room, ordered some room service and were settling in for the night when my 6 year old daughter asked if we could go to Daddy’s concert.

We were planning on having a quiet night at the hotel, but when my daughter suggested we venture out, I thought “why not?” After all, the church he was singing at was suppose to be “just across the street”. The automatic doors in the hotel lobby slid open and we stepped outside. It was now quite dark. I looked directly accross the street and didn’t see the church. “It must be just a ways down the road” I thought to myself….but which way? Should I head left out of the hotel parking lot, or right, or straight ahead? I decided to go with my instincts which was to head to the left. Now anyone who knows me well, knows that my “instincts” when it comes to geography are disastrous and to add to the adventure, this night, we were in Montreal! Every sign we read was in French and unfortunately my French is limited to ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir”. 🙂 As we walked I told my daughter to keep an eye out for any building that may look like a church. I was wracking my brain trying to think of the name of the church, but I just could not remember. How hard could it be to find a church? We were walking for about 15 minutes when my 3 year old decided that he was too tired and needed to be carried. I slung him onto my back and continued searching for the church. As we neared the end of the street and had travelled further and further from the hotel, I started to feel as if we were going in the wrong direction. “Let’s turn back honey”, I suggested to my daughter. “I think we need to walk back to the hotel and go the other way”. By the time we got back to the hotel, we had been walking for 30 minutes. We started out again and this time in the opposite direction. I saw a large building at the end of the street that I thought must surely be the church. My son was whining about being tired, my arms were numb from carrying him and I was getting really hot and sweaty! After walking for another 15-20 minutes we reached the building at the end of the road. It was not the church. “Ok guys, I’m sorry but we are just going to have to head back to the hotel. Mommy can’t find the church” My daughter was upset and she pleaded, “But Mommy, we’ve walked all this way! We can’t give up now! Can we pleeeaase walk just a little further?” And so we did. We walked…And we walked and we walked some more. We were zigzagging up and down each street with no luck. Finally ahead in the distance we saw an illuminated cross: the church!! We made our way towards it, just praying that it was the right one! My daughter started jumping up and down with excitement! “We found it! We found it!” As we entered the doors, the French speaking ticket collectors asked to see our tickets. I was certain that my lack of French would be my undoing in this moment. “I THINK we should be on the list?” I replied. I gave her my name and she started to scan her list. “Sorry madame, you aren’t on the list” she replied.(thank goodness her english was better than my french!) We cannot allow you to go in. My daughter started to whimper and I, of course did not bring my wallet so I couldn’t even buy tickets. I could hear my husband singing in French from the auditorium! I tried to explain to the girl that we are usually on the list and that there must have been some mistake. “Okay”, she replied. “Have a seat on that bench over there.” A bench? What a glorious sight! My back was throbbing and my arms were numb from carrying my son. I was HAPPY to sit for a bit. It wasn’t long before one of the organizers met me at the door, apologized kindly and brought us in. We had made it! We were guided to a beautiful ‘green room’ and re-united with my husband and the night turned out to be really fun!

This trip was just the begining of a year that will be filled with many roadtrips and adventures! Anyone with young children knows how difficult it can be to travel long distances in the car with your children! I spent quite a bit of time in preparation for this trip! A little bit of preparation and organization can dramatically alter the experience you have when travelling with little ones! My husband and I have travelled with our kids since they were babies and I have learned a few tricks to help make the experience enjoyable for everyone!

Tip #1- Prepare Car Activities

* One of the best purchases we made was a dual screen dvd player for the car. Sometimes everyone just needs a little quiet time in the car. I found some really great children’s DVD’s at the dollarstore!
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* Treat Baskets- I purchase all of my children’s favourite treats and package them in individually portioned packages. That way when they start to get hungry or need a little treat I can easy pass one back to them.

* Lap Desks- I purchased lap desks for each of my kids! They are awesome for the car!! The lap desks help the kids to colour or play with toys without trying to balance it on their lap. Most of the lap desks come with a built in cup holder which is great for crayons or markers so that they don’t roll away and onto the floor.I got mine at Chapters but I think most office supply stores have them as well.
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* Gifts- I also always purchase a few dollarstore items and wrap them for each child. I reserve these for the really kookie moments when the kids have tired of watching movies and are starting to get on each others nerves, and yours! 🙂 I pass a gift back to them which contains some type of “busy work” activity. Of course you can just buy little activities and not wrap them but there is something extra special and exciting for kids when you wrap them! 🙂 Some examples of items I wrap are: colouring books, sticker books, puzzles, dvd’s, simple crafts, glow sticks for when its dark, flashlights, etc.
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* Leap Frog Tag Reader- My sister bought a leap frog tag reading system for my daughter a few years ago and they are awesome! The reading “pens” read stories aloud to your children as they turn the pages of their books. Each page also has learning games where kids have to find certain shapes and colours. The Tag reading system brand new is pretty pricey but I found an additional one for my son at a second hand store for really cheap! You can find them on kijiji and ebay as well.
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The trick to a smooth long car ride is to keep the kids busy with a variety of activities. I rotate between watching a movie, colouring on the lapdesks, using their tag readers, and opening and playing with their little gifts. This system has worked wonders for us!

Tip #2 Orgainze, Organize, Organize!

* One of my favourite travelling tips is to be organized with your packing! I purchased a variety of totes from the company 31 Gifts, and they are amazing! I divided everything into separate totes to keep it organized. It is much easier than piling everything into one large suitcase and having to dig to the bottom, making a mess, every time you need something. I have one tote for car toys, one tote for activities for the kids to use during the concert, one tote for first aid/medicine, one for hotel toys, one for toiletries, make-up, snacks, etc.
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This is one of my favourites! It contains all of my makeup and hangs conveniently on the back of the bathroom door. Everything is displayed so nicely and with easy access. Something about walking into a hotel bathroom with copious bottles of face, hair, and make-up products littered across the counter gives me anxiety! This is the PERFECT solution for that! To make things even easier, I purchased duplicates of all of these products. This is my “travelling” make-up bag. I keep this packed all the time and use different make-up when I am home so that I do not have to continually pack and unpack. It’s always ready to go! Throw it in the suitcase and done!

If you are interested in purchasing organizational gear click on the link below and it will direct you to my wonderful consultant Natalee. She has awesome ideas and helps you to get the best prices possible for your organizational needs! 🙂
https://www.mythirtyone.ca/natalee/

Tip #2- The ZIP AND SHIP method.
This method of packing was introduced to me by watching this link

and has since been perfected by my sister. I love this method for many reasons!

The Method:
– Purchase large Ziploc bags
– Go through your closet and drawers and decide which outfits you will need for your trip and put each outfit into a pile. For example, if you are going on a 7 day trip, make 7 piles on on your floor- one for each day. In each pile you should have the top and bottom you will be wearing, a pair of socks, a pair of underwear and any accessories you will need for the outfit. (jewellery, belt, ect)

-Label each ziploc bag with a sharpie with the date the outfit will be worn.

– Put each outfit into a designated bag.
-Squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it up.

– That’s it! Easy Peasy!
– You will be AMAZED at how much more you can fit in your suitcase this way! I am convinced that this is THE MOST efficient way to pack!
– You don’t have to worry about anything spilling or leaking in your suitcases since everything is individually packaged.
– You don’t waste any space in your suitcase packing things you don’t need or won’t use. Everything you pack has a purpose!
– It makes getting ready once you arrive at your destination completely mindless!
– It’s husband proof!:) On those busy mornings trying to get out of your hotel room, just give your husband a child, the bag marked with that date, and he has everything he needs to fully dress your child! Question and confusion free! :o)

We are blessed to be able to travel as a family! The more fun and enjoyable you can make it for everyone, the more you will WANT to do it! Honk if you see us on the road! 🙂 XO

Pam

cleanlifehappywife.com

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Clean Living Travel Tips

Clean Living Travel Tips
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Some of my greatest memories from my childhood are of the annual family vacations we would take. Once we actually arrived at our destination, it was alway fun- but getting there could be a challenge. I’m talking about the good old days before the invention of GPS,Smart phones, portable games systems and dvd players. One missed turn could set us back hours as my mother would spread the roadmap across the dash board and my father would make one sharp turn after the next trying to get us back on course. It was usually at this point that my sister and I would start to turn green. I remember that horrible nauseous feeling that only a person who struggles with chronic motion sickness can identify with. I would swallow hard trying to push down the inevitable…but…one of us would finally call out “I’m going to be sick!”

That would usually evoke an “Oh sh*%”” from my Dad as he raced to pull over and fling the van down open so that my sister and I could topple out onto the side of the road. This would usually start a chain reaction where both my sister and I would be vomiting as well as my mother and even our dog Murphy would join in on the side-of-the road barf fest. My mother would mercifully sedate my sister and I with gravol, and pass us ginger ale and saltine crackers so that we could endure the remainder of the trip.

My husband and I are going on a trip to Europe with our 5 year old and 2 year old.  Crazy?  We might be….  My greatest concern is the 8 hour plane ride.  We’ve travelled quite a bit with both of our kids since they were babies, but this is the furthest we have taken them.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really believe that being prepared and making a plan makes all the difference! I’ve learned some tips and trips along the way and thought I should share!

Tip #1- Kid’s Plane Packs
Like I mentioned before, I am nervous about the long plane ride. Especially with my 2 year old son. Like most 2 year old boys, he is not a fan of sitting quietly for long periods of time. Along with loading up our iPad with his favourite shows and movies, I also made activity backpacks for each of my kids. I purchased little toys and games from the dollar store and wrapped them. Each “surprise” is marked with an opening time (ex. Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3, etc) At the start of each hour on the plane they will be given a special package to open with something to do inside. This keeps the flight exciting for them and gives them something to look forward to as well as helps to keep them busy. My mother use to do this for us when we were kids travelling and I LOVED it!
Some examples of things I put in the packages are:
-Sticker books
– Colouring books
– Small puzzle
– Small lego kit
– Kinder egg
– Small cars

If you wander up and down the aisle in the dollar store you will be amazed at what you find!

I also buy the snack size Ziploc bags and fill them with pretzels, crackers, cut up fruit, raisins, cookies, etc and stick them in their backpacks too! A hungry child is a grumpy child and you don’t want to be counting on the snacks in the airplane to fill them up!
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Tip #2- The ZIP AND SHIP method.
This method of packing was introduced to me by watching this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlb-t6Yv1i8

and has since been perfected by my sister. I love this method for many reasons!

The Method:
– Purchase large Ziploc bags
– Go through your closet and drawers and decide which outfits you will need for your trip and put each outfit into a pile. For example, if you are going on a 7 day trip, make 7 piles on on your floor- one for each day. In each pile you should have the top and bottom you will be wearing, a pair of socks, a pair of underwear and any accessories you will need for the outfit. (jewellery, belt, ect)
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-Label each ziploc bag with a sharpie with the date the outfit will be worn.
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– Put each outfit into a designated bag.
-Squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it up.
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– That’s it! Easy Peasy!
In the suitcase pictured below there are:
14 Shirts
14 Pants
4 Pairs of shoes
14 underwear and socks
2 packs diapers
1 pack wipes
2 hats and mittens set
8 Sets of pyjamas
And as you can see, there is still LOTS of room in the suitcase for more!
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– You will be AMAZED at how much more you can fit in your suitcase this way! I am convinced that this is THE MOST efficient way to pack!
– You don’t have to worry about anything spilling or leaking in your suitcases since everything is individually packaged.
– You don’t waste any space in your suitcase packing things you don’t need or won’t use. Everything you pack has a purpose!
– It makes getting ready once you arrive at your destination completely mindless!
– It’s husband proof!:) On those busy mornings trying to get out of your hotel room, just give your husband a child, the bag marked with that date, and he has everything he needs to fully dress your child! Question and confusion free! :o)

Tip #3 Snack Packs!
I’ll let you in on a little secret! I am a little nervous about all of the fresh pastries in France! I have not travelled since switching to clean eating and I am a little nervous about being able to find foods that I can eat. I’ve tried to think ahead a little- a least for snacks. I’ve baked a few of my clean favourites; banana bread, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies https://cleanlifehappywife.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/a-ma-zing-clean-chewy-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies/ and pumpkin muffins https://cleanlifehappywife.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/clean-pumpkin-muffins/. I’ll be packing these and bringing them along!
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Hopefully these tips make travelling a little easier!
http://www.cleanlifehappywife.com