Traveling again

We have been away from home for a month now. We went from Colorado to Georgia for Christmas and yes, we are still here in GA! We have a big tradeshow for my ‘day job’ that we are currently working at so we decided to just stay a month instead of coming back twice. It made sense at the time……

At this point, we are looking forward to getting back home and readjusting to CO in 2013. I have big plans for organizing my house this year so I am anxious to get started. In the meantime though, we are living in upstairs bedrooms at my in laws house. And however accommodating someone else may be, it’s never the same when you’re not in your own home. Read: I have limited clothes and I’m missing all my DVR shows! Sorry Modern Family, Justified, and How I Met Your Mother, I’ll catch you on the flipside!

Since we’ve been doing so much traveling, I needed the packing to be organized and efficient. My sister had given me some Ebags Packing Cubes to help with packing. These things are so clever. They are varied sizes of zippered packing bags in a variety of colors.

packing cubes

She sent me some in 4 different colors, so we have a set for each family member. Awesomeness! They are great because:

-You can easily identify whose stuff is whose.

-You can just move an entire cube into a drawer at a hotel so you don’t actually have to ‘unpack’ everything.

-They are pretty durable, with mesh openings so you can see inside and double zippers so they are easy to get into.

-They help to limit what you take so that packing is more efficient.

The only thing I don’t like as much is that you don’t always maximize the space in your suitcase because you’re just putting the ebags packing cubes in there. It doesn’t allow you to use up all of the little corners of the actual suitcase so you can really fit less in any given suitcase. However, there’s always extra things you can cram in to fill up the room, such as shoes.

So when we packed to come out to GA, we had one suitcase with the majority of our clothes for the trip. We also had a separate bag for the clothes we would use on the 3 day drive (yes we drove, how crazy are we??????). However, the cubes were great for organizing most of our stuff.

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I have always prided myself in packing light, but you will notice that I have 3 pretty paisley packing cubes and everyone else has less than me. Hmmmmm. We also did cram some larger clothing items, such as pants into the suitcase outside the cubes.  Anyways, love these things and I completely recommend these or anything that helps you organize on the go. Happy travels!

~Erin

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Back in the Swing of things

Well, I’m back from a much needed vacation with my husband. My in-laws watched the kids (and 3 dogs!) so that my husband and I could escape the literal chaos that pervades our house on a daily basis. Soooo thankful for them!

We went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and spent the last week camping and looking for animals. We were lucky enough to see 7 different wolves, which can be quite difficult. One was actually right on the road and it was within a few feet of our car. Amazing!

Here are few pics from the adventure!

Here are a few ways I prepped for the trip:

-We were going to be camping for multiple nights and wanted to make cooking dinner as easy as possible. So I threw together a few easy meals the night before we left and put them into air tight sealed bags. I froze them overnight and then we put them in the cooler.

It doesn’t look that appetizing when they are smashed into the bags, but we had mac & cheese, spaghetti & meatballs, and Shepard’s Pie. I used the Food Saver food sealer and I Love.This.Gadget.

I could do a whole post on this thing, but I’ll stick to why it’s great for preparing for a camping trip:

1) It sucks all of the air out so that the food lasts longer and I don’t have to be so worried about it in a cooler full of ice.

2) It is also waterproof so when the ice melts, the water isn’t seeping into our food. We have had way too many experiences of soggy sandwiches and water logged snacks to make the mistake of using regular bags or plastic containers again!

3) One of my favorite features of the bags is that you can boil them! That means we cooked dinner each night by placing one of the bags in boiling water. When the food was heated, we just opened and served. No cleanup at all. Awesome!

Back to camping preparations!

-We had a list of things to take and we started the list about 3 weeks before we left. That gave us plenty of time to think of random things we would otherwise forget. Then 2 days before the trip, we started packing. Having a well thought out list helps sooo much!

-We had several medium to large plastic bins to store all of our stuff, one for snacks, one for all other food and dishes, one for general camping supplies. By having a specific bin for each type of item, it made organizing easier throughout the whole trip.

-My in-laws were watching the kids, so we made sure to check in a couple times each day. We also let them know what campground and camp site # we were staying in. It’s always important to let at least someone know exactly where you will be when you’re traveling.

Those are just a couple things we did to prepare and it made the trip go so smoothly!

Now it’s back to the daily grind.

My day job has been extremely hectic since we’ve been back (with no signs of slowing!) and it’s taking me longer than usual to get back to square one with my unpacking. I’ve gotten the suitcase empty and put away, laundry done and pictures downloaded. But there are still 3 sleeping bags in the mudroom and some other stragglers that are still out and about. There is so much gear that can go along with camping and we want to clean everything completely before we put it away. I’m trying to keep my own tips in mind from my ‘After Vacation’ post, which you can read here.

However, I’m also trying to get the house back in shape. My new Cleaning Schedule is really helpful and I think I’ll be back on track soon.

But just when you think you’ll catch up with life, there’s more. This Thursday, I am taking the kids to Phoenix to see my parents, grandma and friends. It’s little O-Man’s first trip to AZ and it should be another interesting plane flight with the two boys. Since we got back from camping, I think both my husband and I have realized how LOUD our kids are. Not in a bad way, just normal crazy baby and toddler stuff. Compare that to the soft sounds of nature from a tent though, and our house feels like a circus!

More posts coming soon!

~Erin

Post Vacay Wrap Up!

So, seriously, where did July go? That was the name of my last post and July wasn’t even over yet. Now it is and I can’t believe how quickly time passes by. We went to Georgia for almost the entire month, but my husband and I got to sneak away for a few days to Florida….without kids. It was glorious! Now part of me felt bad about how much I’ve been neglecting the blog and a couple other things. But then I realized I deserve a break from day to day life sometimes. So we drove to Florida from Atlanta (we did take 2 of our dogs so my in laws wouldn’t have to watch 2 kids and 3 dogs!), stayed at my in-law’s condo and relaxed. Seriously, I left clothes on the floor, didn’t fully unpack, leashes on the counter, all sorts of shenanigans! 🙂

All we did was eat seafood and take the dogs to the dog beach in St. Pete. Here are a few pics from the travels!

These are all pics from Florida. I have few more good ones from Atlanta, but I’ll save those for a post later this week on photo organizing!

Now that we are back in Colorado, I am decompressing and catching up on, well, everything. Here’s how I am handling the post vacay wrap-up!

-As soon as I got home, I started unpacking. Even though it was about 11 at night, I needed to get a jump start. The rest of the unpacking was done the next morning. I find that when I unpack immediately and do the laundry and put away the suitcases, I feel much better about being home. And I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t do it quickly, I will end up staring at a partially unpacked suitcase on my closet floor for a month. And then I might also find a half eaten bag of airplane issued Biscoff cookies 5 months later hidden in a small backpack compartment. So….I put everything away right away.

-I have also been going through all of my pictures (more on that later this week!)

-There are certain vacation spots, such as Florida, that we go back to multiple times. It’s great to have a reference of the restaurants we ate at or things we did so that I can remember for the next visit or recommend to other people I know visiting the same area. However, another chart or list in my life is NOT what I need (Have I mentioned my obsession with excel charts?). Enter Yelp. I have recently signed up for yelp and I reviewed a few places near my home. But I decided to review all of the places we ate at in Florida. So now, I have a record of where we went, when it was, what we ate, what we thought, and if we would go back. I can easily refer friends and family to my Yelp site too. Awesome! Click on the button below to view my Yelp page!

-I am also turning my post vacation goals into something realistic and attainable. What do I mean by post vacation goals? Well, does this scenario sound familiar? You are on vacation, lounging on the beach, taking morning walks and you think ‘This is so nice, I should really take a morning walk EVERY DAY!’. Or you have a great meal and think ‘I could make this. When I get home, I’m going to buy all of these ingredients and make this myself!’ Or you spend a day lounging around on a patio and think ‘When I get home, I’m going to take time for myself and just sit and think every afternoon’. Am I the only one who makes up these fantasy scenarios of how life will be when you get home? Then you actually get home and spend the next 10 months going through mail, scrubbing floors, chasing kids, answering emails, and falling down exhausted at the end of each day.  Well, my fantasy scenario was to start exercising more. I was walking on the beach every night and I thought ‘I should exercise’. Well, I hate to exercise (sad, but true). So I gave myself a realistic goal of 10 minutes of exercise each night and I’ve actually been doing it. Now, I know I won’t be getting any trophies for fitness for just 10 minutes of exercise, but maybe I’ll get a ribbon that says ‘Good Enough For Now!’ or ‘Better Than Last Week!’ I am finding that setting goals that are in line with your lifestyle, schedule, and commitment are soooo much easier to reach!

Enough ranting for tonight! I had a great time in Georgia and Florida, but i’s good to be home!

~Erin

Super Sunday!

So I arrived in Georgia yesterday afternoon after a surprisingly easy plane ride with two tired little boys! We left our house at 4:15 in the morning, drove the hour to the airport and waited in unusually long check in and security lines. I was trying to push my way to the crowd to get to the pre boarding line and I have to admit I was a little perturbed by my 3 year old who was walking soooooo slow. We were late and he was stopping to tell everyone how he was ‘going on a plane’ and ‘going to Georgia’ and ‘Owen is in the stroller’. Looking back on the situation, I am so proud of him for being so personable and smart and excited about life. But at 5 in the morning, I was like ‘Come on already!’.

So I had my backpack full of activities and healthy snacks for Evan. I had a bottle for Owen and I was going to hold him off until the plane started to take off. Also, we had been assigned to the aisle and middle seat so my plan was to politely ask the person in the window seat if they could switch to the aisle (pretty please if that’s ok with you?????). Here’s how the first 20 minutes really went:

-Owen screamed for 10 minutes as I tried to scoot Evan down the aisle.

-The person in our row wasn’t there yet so we just sat in the window and middle seat. When the guy showed up he said ‘I’m supposed to be in the window seat’ and I must have just looked at him and not said a thing because he paused for half a second and then said ‘um, I’ll just sit in the aisle if that’s ok’. I don’t technically remember giving him any particular look, but it must have been a look of absolute pleading for the window seat or else it was a death stare and he was afraid of me. Window seat…check.

-Owen’s first bottle was gone before the plane backed out of the gate.

-Evan spent the first few minutes in his seat crumbling up a strawberry Poptart EVERYWHERE!

-5 minutes into the flight, Evan was watching ‘Rio’ on my computer.

Ha!

After that, things calmed down and Owen did take a nap (after spitting up on me a dozen times) and Evan did look at flashcards and read his book about safaris. We did have healthy snacks and we sang a couple songs and practiced not kicking the seat in front of us. Another passenger carried my carry-on suitcase all the way up to the front for me after we landed and the pilot gave Evan a little plane ‘wings pin! I had no idea they still did that. How freaking cute!

Lessons Learned:

-No matter how much you organize and prepare for an event, something unexpected will probably come up and catch you by surprise.

-If you prepare as much as possible, then you know you’ve done the best you can and it makes all these little upsets sooooo much easier to deal with.

Here’s a couple pics of our trip and our 24 hours in Georgia so far:

I was so proud of both my boys and now I’m not nearly as nervous about flying back to Colorado with them. They are amazing little people and I’m blessed to be their mom. Funny side story…today Evan went around to everyone and said ‘Are you a human?’ How funny, why would he even say that? 🙂 Love those kids…..

On another note, my sister in law is pregnant (Yea!!!!) and I went with her today to start her registry. I was seriously so excited, not only because she’s having a baby, but because a registry is literally the first organizing thing you do for a new baby! And I got to share it with her! Thank you Stacy!

However, the store did not offer any kind of real checklist. Now I know everyone’s needs and wants are different, but it’s still helpful to have a general guide for anything like that. We are continuing the registry process tomorrow so tonight I searched websites and found a couple great baby registry checklists that I’ll print off for her to look at. It really does help to have something to check off and reference. And I’m such a ridiculous list person that I literally can’t do anything without a list. This registry thing is right up my alley. I’ll keep you posted on my travels through Georgia!

~Erin

Fear of Flying

In 3 days I am going on a cross country plane trip with a hyper 3 year old and a possibly teething 5 month old. I’ll pause while you gasp sympathetically. I must admit I’m pretty nervous. First of all, Owen may or may not be teething. Either way, he’s been a little extra fussy for the last few days and hasn’t exactly had a reliable nap schedule. Second, to say that Evan has an abundance of energy is a major understatement. This kid stops about as often as a hummingbird. I don’t have any idea if I will be able to corral them into plane seats for 3 1/2 hours. Not to mention the fact that our plane leaves at about 6 in the morning, so they will be up hours before they normally get up! I actually had this picture in a post early last week, but it perfectly exhibits what I’m expecting on the plane:

Enough whining. Here’s what I’m doing to prepare:

-I have a carry on suitcase, but everything I will need on the plane will be in a backpack under the seat.

-I will have sooooo many snacks. I have a stash already set aside of granola bars, raisins, dried fruit, lollipops and Buddy Fruit.

If you haven’t heard of Buddy Fruit,they are blended fruit purees in a little resealable pouch. They are about the size and shape of a Capri Sun, but they are real fruit blends and you can put the twist cap back on if your kid doesn’t finish it all at once. Genius! Hope they are good on a plane!

-I also have an ‘activity kit’ for Evan. Here is what it includes:

~I have 4 books – note that they are all thin so they store easily. I also have one book called ‘100 Things to Spot in the Town’. This is a more interactive book and Evan will probably spend more time looking through it than a typical story book. He also loves the Richard Scarry and I Spy books si I highly recommend those!

~A plastic case which holds a pad of paper, coloring book, stickers and crayons. The case snaps shut to keep all of this together and it even has a clip on the front to hold a piece of paper still while coloring.

~2 Movies – I am bringing my computer for work so I will have it available to pop in the DVD when it comes to that (and I know it will). I have super slim cases for the DVDs so they take up barely any room at all.

~And here is my absolute favorite thing I’m bringing, just because I’m pretty proud of it. I’m bringing 2 sets of flash cards. To keep them from flying all over the place, I hole punched the cards and attached the sets with a metal ring that clasps:

Evan is learning how to spell simple words, so one set is short words. The other set has pictures, colors, shapes and numbers. I think Evan is really going to like them because they are new and he can flip through them by himself. Also, each set of cards cost less than $2.00 and a set of 8 of the metal rings was also less than $2.00. So economical, so practical, great for learning, and fun for the kids! Yea!

Another great thing about these activities is when they are stacked, the whole stack is less than 3 1/2″H.

I have a couple more days to mentally prepare myself, but knowing that I have done everything I can to keep them busy and happy will make the anticipation a little more relaxing. So wish me luck everyone. I will be keeping you posted on our travels!

~Erin