The Grand Mother and Washi Tape Stripes Card

As I introduced earlier, this week I'm paying homage to the amazing moms of all kinds who have shaped my "mama schema" (read the post to understand what in the world that means :) and sharing simple handmade cards to deliver to these women who have been so influential in my life. Don't miss today's simple card tutorial at the end of the post: the easiest-ever washi tape card. 

(I had a different type of mother planned for today, but my husband's grandmother passed away last week and we attended her funeral today. And I knew I needed to make sure to recognize that there is just something special about the grandmothers. :)

The Grandest of Mothers

While my mother's mother lost her battle with breast cancer when my mother was only 16,  I was blessed to have a very close relationship with my paternal grandmother, Grandma Ruth, and I married into two amazing grandmothers. All three women were examples of faith and charity, of sticking with it even when times were tough. Two were widowed for many years, and one was plagued with health problems, but throughout everything, they each loved their families and found opportunities to serve and bless many lives. I treasure the memories and family heritage from each of these women, all of whom have passed on.

Since I can't today or on Mother's Day, if you can, give your grandma a hug from me. (Only maybe don't tell her it's from me since that might be weird.)

And then, round up some washi tape and go make the world's easiest diy greeting card.

Washi Tape Stripes Card

Seriously, cards do not get much easier than this.

Start with your blank card -- mine is a piece of cardstock cut in half (hamburger style) and then folded in half. Select 5 or so rolls of washi tape in coordinating colors/patterns.

Starting a few inches up from the edge of the card, line up a strip of tape with the other edge and press it firmly on the front of the card. Leave a tail (long or short - variety is up to you!) and fold it around to the inside of the card. We are decorating both the front and the inside of the card -- go us! :)

With the other colors/patterns of washi tape, continue placing strips of tape at varied heights and of varied lengths along the edge of the card, matching up the edges of the strips but not overlapping them.  Depending on the width of your tape, you may have a small gap at the end. I chose to match up the pattern and have that last stripe be a little bit wider, and then trim the excess tape.

If your original card is a darker color like mine, cut a rectangle of lighter color cardstock just smaller than the size of the card and stick it in the card with double stick tape, so that you can easily see your hand-written note.

See, SO EASY!! And it's adorable on the inside, too (just like yesterday's card :)

Have a happy day,

The Sister-Mother and an Easy Hand-Stitched Card

As I introduced yesterday, this week I'm paying homage to the amazing moms of all kinds who have shaped my "mama schema" (read the post to understand what in the world that means :) and sharing simple handmade cards to deliver to these women who have been so influential in my life. Don't miss today's simple card tutorial at the end of the post: a hand-stitched baker's twine card. 

The Sister-Mother

Sister-mothers are the amazing women who are able to act both as mothers -- walking the path before me and teaching me the ropes of womanhood and motherhood -- and as sisters, empathizing and laughing with me when those very same ropes tangled me up and saw me landing flat on my face.

I have the wonderful privilege of having a wonderful community of sister-mothers, both those who are actually genetic sisters and those who have adopted me into their sisterhood.

These women have taught me what true friendship is, 

what true bravery and faith looks like (and that it has a great sense of humor as well!)

what patience and pressing forward mean, 

and what it truly means to enjoy life, regardless of circumstances. 

I hope you each are blessed with wonderful sister-mothers in your life, although mine will always be the best -- not just everyone can be The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sweaty Pants, you know!

And now, the card for today:

Easy Hand-Stitched Baker's Twine Card

A very simple and easy hand-stitched baker's twine card -- start to finish in 15 minutes!

Gather your supplies:
  • plain note card (mine is just a half sheet of white cardstock, folded in half to form a card)
  • paper and pencil
  • baker's twine
  • needle with an eye large enough to fit the baker's twine
Start by deciding what simple shape you want to stitch. I chose a heart. You can draw it right on the front of the card or, if you are a nervous drawer like I am, use the good old graphite-transfer... Draw the shape on a separate piece of paper, and then flip the paper over and fill in the whole area with pencil. Flip the paper back over (so your drawing is now facing you) and place it on top of the card and then, trace firmly over the shape to transfer a very thin outline to the front of the card. 

Then you'll use a sharp needle to poke "pilot holes" for your stitching. Be sure that your card is OPEN and placed on a firm surface that the needle can poke into -- I used my rug, but I usually use a magazine. Poke an EVEN number of holes around the outline of the shape, spaced equally. 

Then thread your needle with an arm's length of baker's twine -- you may need more if you are dong a larger shape with more stitches. The only needle I could find that would accommodate my baker's twine was a darning needle, so I used the smaller, sharper needle on the right to poke the holes and then the darning needle for the stitching. 

Carefully and gently push the needle through the first hole at the top of the heart, leaving a 4-5 inch tail so that you can tie the bow when you are finished.

Place your hand on the back side of where you are stitching to help add strength to the card so that your stitching won't bend or wrinkle the card. 

Gently push the needle back up through the next hole, and then down through the next, making a dashed-style stitched line, until you have completed the circle. If you counted correctly (or just guessed well :), your last stitch will come up close to your first stitch. 

Tie a bow and trim the tails to your desired length. 

My favorite thing about this card (aside from just how easy it is!) is that it looks just as cute on the inside as the outside:

Thanks for reading,

A Mama Schema, or An Homage to Moms of All Kinds

Mrs. Rosenlof (yes, we called her Raisin Loaf...), my 7th grade English teacher, spent the first few weeks of the semester teaching us about schema. She would get this wild, excited look in her eyes and tell us to explore our individual schema: the unique experiences, people, and objects that make us who we are, the collective framework that shapes our thoughts and actions.

At the time, I was just irritated because the discussion kept going on and on, and I just couldn't get why this older woman was so excited about a crazy, abstract thing like schema.

But now I get it. Schema is important because it is the key to our individual identity. Schema means that no two people will handle a situation in an identical manner, no matter how many shared experiences and qualities the two have.

Since Mother's Day is fast approaching, I've been taking some time to think about my mothering style and the history of its development: my mama schema, so to speak. (I just couldn't resist the alliteration. Forgive me :)

When I am at a mom crossroads (most often mean mom vs. calm mom...) and contemplating my next step, I have a hundred voices, with a hundred faces, in my head, contributing to my decision.

Talk about parenting paralysis :)

Thankfully, most of those voices and faces are of kind, confident, and supportive women (and men, but they'll get their spotlight later). But, while so many of these women have been so influential in my life, how many of them actually know how much I appreciate their contribution to my schema, to my life?

Almost none of them.

And if there's anything I've learned in my nearly-four short years as a mother, it is that every mother -- every woman! -- needs to know that she has an impact on someone, somewhere, at sometime. Because motherhood is rewarding, but the dividends don't always pay out regularly.

So, for Mother's Day this year, I've decided to give the most heartfelt gifts I can, to each of the women who has been influential: a hand-written note telling them specifically thanks for their impact on my life. And, because I like being crafty (and because I dislike paying $5+ for a generic card at the store), I'm going the extra mile and hand-crafting the note cards, too.

For the next week, I'll be sharing a simple-to-make card and paying homage to the different types of mothers in my life -- because it takes all kinds of mothers to make the world go round, and giving birth is not a prerequisite to mothering.

I'd love for you to join me, and I'm sure there are a few mothers in your life who would love a quick note telling them how much you value their contribution to your life. And, you know, it's a good exercise to think about that schema thing. :)

Have a happy day,

DIY Washi Tape Switchplates {tutorial}

pretty washi tape switchplates and outlet covers - an easy washi tape craft

If you've been around the crafty blog world much, you've seen washi tape.

More accurately, you've seen ROLLS of washi tape. Full-on collections of beautiful colors and patterns, carefully curated by an adoring crafter.

Because, even more so than with potato chips, you can't have just one roll of washi tape. It's unnatural.

Debra bought me my first few rolls and I've been obsessing and collecting ever since (with a big thanks to Pick Your Plum for making it even more affordable -- and you can also find it at Michael's and Target. It's also called "decorative paper tape" in some stores.)

UPDATE: It's a great day for washi, apparently -- Pick Your Plum has washi tape again this morning! $1.50 a roll and $2.95 shipping in the US (or just a bit more if you're outside the US). This deal always goes quickly, so if you want some, go fast!
pretty washi tape

Thankfully, washi tape is a totally publicly acceptable, and even budget-friendly, obsession.

I even gave out rolls of washi tape at a favorites party I hosted for my sisters back in February (of which I will post details eventually). As I gushed about how amazing it was, I got one question back from every recipient:
But what do you DO with it?

And my nonchalant answer was: 
You stick it on stuff. 
Just stick it on whatever and it will be cute. 

And that is totally true, but... 
[big confession] 
I had never actually used washi tape on anything! 
{hang head in shame}

So, a few weeks later, when we painted our stairway and upstairs hallway, I took the opportunity to put my washi tape on display by letting it work its magic on the switchplates and plug covers before I put them back on, like these I had seen on Crab & Fish. It started out simple:
easy washi tape craft

and then developed into a bit, er, more...
cute washi tape craft

And now the only bare switchplate in my house is the outlet cover behind my couch. (Okay, the ones in the basement are bare, too, but just until I get down there without forgetting my screwdriver.)

I loved the way the pretty switchplates looked on my neutral tan walls upstairs, but I wasn't sure I would like the patterned covers on my pretty blue walls in my kitchen (Belize by Sherwin-Williams). But I love them even more! Love love LOVE them. I squeeed as I installed each and every one --  my husband can confirm. (And even he admits that he likes them -- and everyone who comes to my house comments on my cute light switches!)
cute washi tape switchplates collection

It's super easy. A craft for non-crafters, with a minimal time and money investment. If you want them all to match, one roll of washi tape ($2-4) will do a bunch. I did the first 5 in around an hour, and the next set of 12 took me about 3 episodes of Burn Notice (or just over 2 hours).

The Color Run: Happiest 5K on the Planet (and save $5 on registration)

Disclosure: The Color Run provided me with a promo code for my readers and a free race entry in exchange for sharing this information with you. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am a fair-weather runner, so my running season is just getting started for this year. I love running races -- there is just something about the energy at a race, big or small, that is exciting and just so FUN! But, as the penny-pincher I am, I am always looking for a deal: either an inexpensive race or one with what I call "added value" -- great swag (the free stuff you get to take home - shirt, etc), amazing party at the finish line, and/or a super fun experience.

So I am triple thrilled that The Color Run is coming to Salt Lake City on August 24: it has all of the "added value" I look for in a race, plus a completely reasonable entry fee (only $25 if you register as a team using the promo code below before May 1 -- more registration info below).

The Color Run isn't your ordinary 5K. Instead of finishing the race just sweatier than you started, you finish more colorful than you've ever been! Participants are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer, so you start with a white shirt and end up with a one-of-a-kind colored shirt -- and face! (Check out the videos from past events here.)

If you are new to running or concerned about your pace -- don't worry! The Color Run is untimed, and less about your average mile time and more about having a good time! The color fun continues with a big colorful party at the finish line.

All participants are welcome -- young, old, fast, slow, runner, walker, and everything in between. The Color Run only has two simple rules:

  • Wear white at the starting line. 
  • Finish completely plastered in color. 

So, get registered!

Registration is limited, so sign up now because you won't want to miss it! Use the code COLORJUSTLU to save $5 on your registration until August 21. You can save another $5 by registering as part of a team (4+ people), so grab some friends and sign up for only $25 each (until April 30). If you miss the early registration or would rather be solo, the pricing is only a little bit different:
The Color Run™ Salt Lake City Pricing & Deadlines
SOLO Runner/Walker
35.00 Early Registration
40.00 starting May 1st, 2013
45.00 starting July 1st, 2013
4+ PERSON COLOR TEAM Runners & Walkers
30.00 per person Early Registration
35.00 per person starting May 1st, 2013
40.00 per person starting July 1st, 2013
Hope to see you there!


Cookie Sheet Letter and Number Matching

The "at-home preschool" idea is something that I am trying to work into our daily routine. Ha, routine! I crack myself up!

Okay, we have no real routine, so we're working on a routine, and we're working on making sure this routine has time included for specific learning activities, a proactive time set aside with my preschooler (age 3 1/2) to tackle some of the "get ready for school" type skills.

My son knows all of his letters and all of the letter sounds. This is 100% due to Starfall and not me.

Okay, I am the one who introduced him to Starfall and I'm pretty awesome at reinforcing the things he is learning, so I'll take 10% of the credit and leave Starfall 90%. Does this make me a terrible parent? Probably, but my kid and I are both very happy, so that lessens the terrible by at least 25 points. Which, since I'm also awesome at math, means I win. Moving on...

If you haven't heard of Starfall, and you have a pre-reader who loves technology, go now. You will love it. Did I mention that it's free? Seriously, GO check it out now. I'll be right here waiting when you get back. And this is not a paid advertisement, just true love. 


Awesome, right? (Thanks for coming back :)

My son would spend all day "playing letters" if I let him, but I do have enough parent goodness to know that unlimited screen time makes my boy craaaaanky. So he is allowed to play Starfall while I prep/make dinner (and sometimes lunch), but that is it. Except for when I need to mop the floor. Or make an important phone call. Because it entertains his sister (18 months) as much as it entertains him, so Starfall time is happy time at our house.

But, when we are unplugged, my son still loves to play with letters. He's fairly letter-obsessed, so we're going with it and riding the wave of enthusiasm.

Last fall, I picked up two packages of magnetic letters and a package of magnetic numbers at Dollar Tree, intending on painting them cute colors and patterns like Creative Carissa. That hasn't happened yet, but when I found this awesome letter matching idea from We Can Do All Things, I knew it would be a hit with my little guy. (She also gives you other awesome ideas for using cookie sheets for travel learning games, so go check them out!)

It's the easiest learning game ever, and I love that my son can do it on his own, too. I just grabbed a yucky old cookie sheet (which I will spray paint some day), saved just for occasions like this, and wrote the alphabet and the numbers 0 through 9 right on the cookie sheet using a dry erase marker.

Then I handed my son the box full of letters and set him loose.

Paul had such a great time matching the letters! As he matched them, he would tell me what each letter's name was and what sound it made, and we would talk about what words had that sound in them. Seriously SO easy. And it's teaching so many skills at once: matching, letter recognition, alphabetical/numerical order, fine motor skills, etc. Easy activities like this greatly increase the odds that we can make a routine and learning time happen regularly!

What kind of "learning time" activities do you do with your kiddos? I love hearing ideas! (You can see more ideas I'm trying over on my "learning time" Pinterest board.)

Have a happy day,

"Tangled" Envy

Are you familiar with Rapunzel, from Disney's Tangled? Because, I confess, I've got Tangled envy, and it's not for the reason that you think.
image via
It's not for her amazing hair, even though it does look great both long/blonde AND pixie-short/brown. Oh, and the whole magical powers thing. But that's not it.

It's not for her skills with a frying pan.

It's not for her super cool chameleon buddy.

It's not even for the fact that she has an adorable love story that makes me get a little choked up. Every time. (My husband has a pretty good smolder of his own, sorry Flynn.)

Nope, my Tangled jealousy is purely based upon all of the time she has to devote to her hobbies! Just listen to her telling of it:

I can't be the only one who thinks, "Gee, it can't be all that bad in that tower... away from all the people... with all that time to devote to awesome talents..." I mean, c'mon -- ventriloquy, chess, and paper-mache, all in the same day, and all after all the housework is done. Yeah, there's a lot of wondering and brushing... but also guitar! pottery! painting!

I think rather than asking when will my life begin, I'd be shouting from the rooftops that this is the life!

Sign me up for my time in the tower! Just think of all the sewing I could get done! and how much better I could become at quilling! and oh, all the HTML and CSS and other coding goodness I could learn with a few uninterrupted hours...

Now, before you judge me too much, I know, hobbies are not all there is to life. And I know that I'd miss my husband and kids (eventually...) if I had a chance at the tower.

Because while varied hobbies and creative endeavors are definitely the spice of my life, they aren't actually LIFE.

So, that's where I've been this week. Smack dab in the middle of this wonderful and crazy life. Which reads a little bit more like this:

and looks like this:

But, at the end of the day (every day), this is my life, and it is glorious and I am so grateful for it. Grateful that I can to share a bit of it with you, my bloggy friends. And grateful that I have a chance to do it all again tomorrow, and hopefully better than I did today. And maybe with a little more paper-mache. ;)

If you had your chance at time in a tower, what hobby would you take up or improve? 
I'm pretty sure I'd love to figure out Google+....


Traveling with Young Children, Part 2: In The Car [free printable pack]

Earlier this week I gave you my worked-for-me tips on packing for traveling with young children. Next: suggestions  for keeping them busy while on the road (and don't miss the free printable pack!)

Since I was in the backseat of my parent's car with both of the kids, we didn't have the same type of room as we have on past road trips. I took a tote with a few of their favorite and most entertaining books (such as look and find type books), and some art supplies, both dry-erase activity books and traditional crayons and coloring books... and some printed pages I whipped up the night before and stuck in plastic sheet protectors. Because I love you all (yes, even you!), I will share them. :)

I am too cheap to print with color ink in my home printer, so I printed these in black and white and just used markers to color them in. But because I love you (yes, especially you!), I tossed in some color to make it even faster for you to get these printed and get on the road! If anyone out there is cheap like me, I also have the black and white versions available for download :)

The printable pack has three sheets: find the letters of the alphabet, find each color, and find a vehicle of each color. I handed my son the page (in a plastic sheet protector) and a dry erase marker, and he happily called out colors and letters for a large portion of the trip. I'll be honest... these were good for me, too, to give me something to do during the drive!

We also took our kid-tough camera (we have this one, thanks to grandma) and my son had a blast just taking pictures of anything and everything. I had jotted down a list of things to have him watch for to take pictures of (cows, windmills, different types of trucks, things of different colors, etc), but he was entertained without me giving him any tasks. I planned to make a fun photo book for him... until he deleted all the pictures. Stinker.

Technology to the rescue!

No matter how many fun things I could have packed, none of them are space-efficient or effective at holding my young kids' attention as technology. I loaded my Kindle Fire full of free books, apps, and a couple of short shows, and put a couple of games and short videos on my phone. (My smart phone is still very new and I don't love the kids playing on it, so it was to be a dire emergencies backup for our ancient iPod... which of course died 30 minutes into the trip and refused to hold a charge. The best laid plans...)

Everything I put on my Kindle was FREE! which makes it even better. There are loads of free (mostly "lite" versions) games, apps, and e-books available for every platform. These are the ones that my kids loved -- all on Amazon, and all free as of today:

Learn Along with Sesame Street and Sesame Street from Around the World are not your typical Sesame Street seasons, but they are free and my kids don't mind that some of them are odd topics, such as "Lead Away" where "Oscar, Elmo, and Rosita learn how to protect themselves from the dangers of lead." Our favorites are Music Works Wonders, Math is Everywhere, and The Get Healthy Now Show.

Car Coloring Racer. This is a super simple app, but it kept my vehicle-obsessed 3 year old boy entertained for at least an hour, and begging for more. He loved the music that went along with it, and there were plenty of "coloring pages" to keep him busy, and enough that he didn't even notice or care when he repeated them. He just used the free play mode, but older kids would enjoy the challenge of racing the clock to color the car, I'm sure.

Bubble Pop Game for Toddlers. I thought  my 18 month old daughter would love this app. She didn't, but my son did. Again, super simple -- touch (and drag) to form bubbles, touch again to pop them.

Cars, Trucks, and Community Vehicles -- Puzzles for Kids. Again, my vehicle-obsessed 3 year old boy loved this app. It didn't hold his attention for a super long time, but he was happy to redo the puzzles again another time after a break.

Subway Surfers. This game is really popular on every mobile device platform, it seems, and BOTH of my kids love it, even if they are always smashing into trains and having to start over. It's not particularly age-appropriate, but this was one of two games that actually held my daughter's attention for more than a couple of minutes, and I think she might actually be more skilled at it than my son is...

Barnyard Games for Kids (Free). This is the app that literally saved my sanity on the last few hours of the trip home. It is awesome and perfect for toddlers like mine, especially for my daughter who was so hard to find digital entertainment for. It is designed specifically for *little* littles, so they can't easily exit the game or do anything crazy. When we start traveling for famil reunions this summer, I will definitely be paying the $2 to get the full version with 9 games instead of just the 3 that come with the free version.

Another big tip: for those of you with Apple devices, learn how to use Guided Access! It is awesome and would have saved me from listening to Cookie Monster's "Share It Maybe" over and over after my daughter deleted the other videos I had loaded on my phone (by using KeepVid). I had read this article/tutorial explaining Guided Access, but I completely forgot about it until after we got home [facepalm].

With summer coming, are you planning any fun trips with your littles? What tricks work to keep your kids happy in the car?

Happy traveling,

Traveling with Young Children, Part 1: Packing

We spent last week visiting my sister in Oregon, a mostly-beautiful but long drive from our home in Utah. It was just me and my two littles (ages 18 months and 3.5 years)... and my parents.

We are so grateful that they invited us to go with them (thanks, Mom and Dad!), but I won't lie... traveling with the grandparents made me a little nervous. My dad doesn't love traveling and he keeps his cars clean and tidy, so the thought of my kids trashing his car and screaming during the 12-hour drive had me worried.

Historically, my kids have been really good travelers, but we don't travel a ton and we have never made a trip longer than 4-5 hours with my daughter, plus she is at that age and of the temperament where if she decides she is not happy, there is very little that can be done to make her happy. And being restrained for the better part of two days is not really on her happy list.

So, I racked my brain and scoured Pinterest for some ideas to help make traveling easier on my two young children (and, uh, easier on me, too). Hopefully my experiences and tips here can help someone, because tear-free traveling is a goal we can all live with, right? :)

First up: packing.
(head over to this post to see what I did for in-car entertainment, including a free toddler travel game printable pack!)

Clothes and toiletries
Since we were traveling with my parents and staying with my sister, I didn't want to over-pack and I knew that it would be really easy to do laundry in the middle of our stay. So, I only packed clothes for about half as many days as we would be traveling, with 1-2 extra changes of clothes just in case.

Tip 1: Daily clothes/accessories bags
I used this tip from All Things Simple and packed each day's clothes in a zipper bag, and it was seriously a lifesaver! It kept me from over-packing (I always pack way more shirts than we need and never enough underwear, anyone else?) and it made it so easy for someone else to be able to help get my kids dressed. And when I did laundry, I folded the clothes into outfits and put them, along with socks and underwear, right back in the bags.

Tip 2: Corraling laundry
I packed a basic mesh laundry bag to put all of our dirty clothes in each night, so it was easy to do laundry. If you aren't doing laundry, stuff the dirty clothes back in the zippered bag they came out of! Next time, I will pack a mesh lingerie bag for the socks -- I use them at home to keep track of the tiny (or not so tiny) socks -- just zip it and toss it right in the wash! -- and we lost a couple in my sister's washer.

Tip 3: Pack for your itinerary
I packed two bags: a smaller wheeled luggage case with our clothes, and then a backpack with all the other stuff -- toiletry/bathroom bags, extra diapers/wipes, medicine (just in case!), etc. Since I knew we were going to be staying at a hotel one night on the way there and then on the way back, I also put one pair of pajamas and one zippered bag of clothes for each child in the backpack, plus pajamas and next-day clothes for myself. This made it so much easier at the hotel, to only have to open one bag to get our stuff. Less stuff strewn around the hotel and potentially forgotten (and, if you have a vehicle that allows it to stay safely out of sight, one more thing you can leave in the car instead of hauling into the hotel room!).

I will be the first one to admit that I waaaay over-packed on snacks. But traveling with young kids, you never know when they are going to be super snacky or not, so I erred on the side of caution.

Tip 4: Individual packages
Everything I packed I either bought individually packaged or I portioned out into snack bags myself. This meant no fighting over a larger bag/package and easy dishing out of snacks in the car. I packed...

  • trail mix
  • Goldfish crackers
  • graham crackers
  • fruit snacks
  • string cheese
  • apple slices
  • pretzels
  • granola bars
soaked the apples in diluted lemon juice as suggested by The Yummy Life to keep them from browning, and it worked great. They were still looking fresh even on the second day of our trip.  

Tip 5: Pack something special
Most of these snacks are normal food at our house, but snacks that my kids always love. Fruit snacks, however, are a rarity, and are ONLY for road trips, so they were my big magic trick to keep kids happy when they were ready to be done driving! I even let them each choose their own character fruit snacks to increase the "special" element. 

One thing I should have packed? More treats. I was so focused on NOT packing my kids full of sugar (or melting chocolate all over the car interior) that I completely neglected the major truth that my kids will do just about anything (including sit quietly in the car) for a treat. Thankfully my dad had M&Ms that got us through a few rough patches :) 

Tip 6: Space-friendly and accessible snack and drink containers 
I wanted the snacks very easily accessible, since I was sitting in the smallish backseat with my kids and there wouldn't be a ton of extra room to pack things or to move around to rummage through a bag. So I removed the store-bought snacks from their boxes and tossed all the individual servings of snacks into these awesome (recycled!) containers to keep them together and unsquished. 

The oatmeal canister was the perfect height for tucking in my snack bag so that I could easily grab the snack that was on top. The Laffy Taffy container actually held more than the oatmeal canister, but it was harder to reach since it was shorter and had a lid on it. 

Theoretically, one container was snacks for the trip there and the other for the trip back (because I'm over-prepared like that), but we only went through about half of the snacks, except for the "special" fruit snacks.

I tucked a couple water bottles, plus some snacks for me (Corn Nuts and whole apples) into the larger catch-all snack bag with the containers. I used these take n' toss cups with straws for my kids, so I could refill them from the water bottles as we drove or from wherever were stopped. 

Tip 7: Keep it cold!
There are always a few things you want to keep chilled, but even a small cooler takes up a lot of space. I put the string cheese and apple slices in one of those collapsible silver keep-cold bags (like this), with a couple frozen/cold water bottles. The bag keeps things nice and cool, plus it can expand to hold as much or as little as you have and it folds neatly and compactly when not in use.  

Do you have any great tips for road-tripping with young kids? Stay tuned later this week for my in-car entertainment recommendations (including a set of free printables!) Update: head here to read my recommendations and get the free printable pack!

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