Unwanted Visitors — June 17, 2019

Unwanted Visitors

Alright folks, this may make me sound uppity, but No Soliciting means NO SOLICITING! Am I right?

I’ve never been comfortable having unwanted visitors show up at my house, but especially with having small children and crazy dogs. It’s a no go for me.  

Growing up in Iowa, I do not recall strangers coming to our house to ask for us to buy things or listen to a religious spiel.  Every now and again, we’d get a girl scout or boy scout but that was the extent of it.  

From there, I was mostly in apartments so didn’t see if this type of soliciting was branching out until we were in Tucson, AZ where our home had a security or privacy door which was great.  I recall a few Omaha Steaks solicitors coming to the door and I felt safe because it was a door that they couldn’t see into the house as well as heavy enough to “protect” me.  But I still do not like this method of marketing.  I will not buy anything from you with the exception of neighborhood children selling school stuff.  

During our time in Georgia and with a little one, I started seeing the “Don’t Knock or Ring bell as I have a baby sleeping” type of signs.  I definitely jumped on this bandwagon as nap and bedtime are critical to the baby as well as my mental sanity.  And I’m a protective Mama bear who from time to time is home alone with my brood.  

And now in the PNW, the majority of our neighbors had personal “No Soliciting” signs on their homes instead of one sign at front of neighborhood. After the first few weeks, we understood why.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, Big churches, Bug companies, Painting services, Yard maintenance, kids selling stuff, etc all walking door to door to offer services or a religious discussion.  It’s weekly if not more.  So, we installed (aka used a sticker) to put up a No Soliciting sign as well hoping that we would be over and done with all this.  But nope.  They just ignore it.  And when I ignore them or are not home, they shove a flyer in the door jam.  (Just try to ignore them with a barking dog and two kids shouting that there may be a friend or a package outside the door!)

So, then we get the Nest Hello Doorbell trying to further deter them.  But instead, these folks just knock on the door and ignore our doorbell and No Soliciting sign all together.  But at least we have them on camera so I do feel some safer!!  (Though I think we’ll end up with a privacy door of some kind even if it’s just a glass door as an extra layer up with kids opening doors and such.)  

Our Nest Doorbell even caught the thieves who broke into our mailbox cluster.  No kidding.  We were able to see the vehicle back into the road, get out, break into the mailboxes and drive off.  Chris sent this to the police and we understand they may have been apprehended because of this.  

Who knows!  Maybe I’m just extra protective due to hearing these types of briefs during my stint at the National Laboratories and/or having Chris be in the military.  But one thing is for sure, I will do anything and everything to protect my family.  

Thanks for listening to my rant! lol.  Friends and neighbors always welcome at my house though.  Just don’t try to sell me anything 😉

~Mel

(ignore the bugs and dirt on siding please)

Tips for Traveling with Kiddos — April 9, 2019

Tips for Traveling with Kiddos

Morning! As I’m preparing for some of our besties to visit in a couple weeks, it’s got me thinking about my tips for traveling with kids. We’ve done flights, drives, overnight trips, weekend trips, camping trips, grandparent trips and our longest, a cross country move.

Traveling with kids will always have it’s challenges but I’ve found that following these tips helps ease our anxieties and gives some relief during meltdowns:

  • Plan, plan, plan! I’m a huge believer in planning and making lists. Nerd alert! I know. But it truly helps having a plan of what you think you are going to do so you can have a better packing list and idea of what you may or may not need.
  • Give the kids a break! Whether you’re driving or flying, the kids will need to stretch their legs. If flying, we tend to let them walk laps before the flight so by the time they need to sit still in the airplane, they should have their jitters out. If driving, we typically stop every hour or two to hit the potty, get gas and stretch our legs. And every parent knows you top off the gas at every stop. You don’t want to need gas just as a kid falls asleep or all hell will break lose as you stop too early into a car nap. Also, we either bring or pick up some lunch and find a park/playground to eat at and give the kids 10-15 minutes to play.
  • Kids’ suitcases – My in-laws got each of the kids his/her own suitcase and they LOVE them. If they could have them out everyday, they would (though they like to sit and hide in them or pretend they are boats). But it gets them excited for the trip as well as coordinates their things. Though depending on the space and length of stay, I will pack their things in with mine into a larger suitcase as well. I’ve heard great things about packing cubes but just haven’t crossed that line yet because I’m an overpacker and refuse not to be.
  • Special item – Blankets/stuffed animals/pillows that let your kid feel like he/she is at home. Plus, if you’re traveling by car, this helps encourage car naps.
  • Travel bed or crib – We are past the Pack’n’play stage thank gosh. But they are great for babies and young kids. Luckily, most hotels will have one on hand to borrow. Our current fave is a portable blow up mattress for the kids called a Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed
    .Our kids both slept on the one Shrunks bed we have over the Christmas holiday when Olivia let her Uncle Josh sleep in her bed. Jaxon wanted in on the sleepover fun too so they just snuggled in together on this amazing bed (on Jaxon’s floor, next to his empty bed).
  • Sound machine – We actually have two of these White Noise Machine
    for the kids’ rooms at home. But we like to bring one with us when we travel as well to cover any hotel noises etc.
  • Sleeping bags – We have two of these Coleman Kid Sleeping Bag
    from my folks for the kids for sleepovers, camping or travel. Olivia has slept in in on the floor next to her bed as well. She is ready for her first sleepover. I am not! Lol
  • Night lights – The kids usually request that we bring one of our Turtle Nightlight; though I prefer to pack something smaller so they don’t wake up scared being in a different space.
  • Monitors – Audio and/or video monitors if you have a large enough space to need them. We have an original Dropcam and the newer Nest Cam which I’ve shared earlier. We bring the Nest Cam on every trip as it’s easy to setup and we can use it if we have a suite or are staying with family/friends, we can keep an eye on them while being in another room. I swear, we have shared our love for this product so much that at least 10 friends have purchased one. But we also have the old school Audio Baby Monitor
    in case the wifi isn’t great and they work well for naps at grandparents houses too!
  • Headphones – These are desperately needed on any road trip or flight. Olivia loves wearing her Kids Headphones. Jax not so much. But these are great as they fold-up so take up less space and have a rope covered cord which seems to be tougher than just a normal cord. And not hearing “Baby Shark” on repeat is a plus for my sanity (though you bet I will do the moves if I hear it).
  • Gel clingons if traveling in an airplane (or you don’t care if they use on your car windows). These always buy us about 30 minutes of fun for the kids and are usually in the Target dollar section too.
  • Baby Carrier and/or stroller – We are nearing the end of this phase but I still use my Ergobaby 360
    for long hikes. And an umbrella stroller will save the day hauling the kiddos through the airport. However, Chris has learned to pull the kid(s) on his suitcase through parking lots and the checkin process. But the likelihood of falling is more prominent with this method.
  • “Snacks, snacks, snacks” (sung to the LMFAO “Shots” melody). Enough said.
  • Presents to open for extended trips. On our cross country drive, the kids got to open one present a day. I had them filled with coloring supplies, small lego figurines, stuffed animals, cars, etc (Think Dollar store items)
  • Movies and games on iPad. I don’t care if you are the no TV/movies/tablet family or not. This will buy you an hour or two minimum of somewhat quiet and calm. It is needed.
  • Extra clothes within reach (in a large ziploc). Accidents, car sick, massive blowouts, wet playground equipment, etc. I’ve been that mom in the airplane bathroom changing a baby’s blowout and had to yell up 10 aisles to get Chris to bring Olivia AND I some clothes. So I always pack an extra top for me too now. And the large Ziploc can then store the nasty stuff for the remainder of the trip.
  • Let’s just make it it’s own bullet. Baby wipes. They can save the day with almost anything. Bring them even if you’re past the diaper phase.
  • Final bullet. Alcohol. It’s necessary on long travel days in my opinion to help keep the parents sane. Chris and I search for kid friendly, sometimes pet friendly but always has a free breakfast and happy hour for us.

Ok, I think that’s it but I’m sure I’ll think of another 10 things as soon as I hit post. Anyone else have any great travel tips for the kiddos?

Enjoy!

~Mel

Babysitting — April 5, 2019

Babysitting

OK, for all you mamas and papas out there. What are your must haves for a babysitter?

So, first kid, in Georgia, we had the BEST babysitter which set the bar very high. I’m talking getting her Masters in Childhood Education, CPR and First Aid trained, won awards for her grades and work with children in the community, remembered Olivia’s birthday and bought her a better gift than we did, etc. And in South Georgia, they called it “keeping” your children (versus babysitting). “Yes, I can keep your kids on Friday.” Um, done. Keep them and we’ll see you on Sunday was what I was thinking. Ha!

Now, flash forward to 5 years later. Our standards have lowered some. The girls growing up in South Georgia wanted to be Moms. It was strange because the other college-aged sitters we used down there, all talked about when they become a Mama, etc all the time. Now, in the PNW, even further away from family, we are relying on friends to recommend sitters. And we all know how close everyone keeps their babysitter’s information because a good sitter is like gold.

So I’m hoping for this A+ kid-keeper while my husband, Chris, thinks the sitter only needs to be able to call 911 if anything bad happens when we’re away. Not sure we’re on the same page there. Lol.

But, in the almost year we’ve lived here, we’ve found a great 16-year old girl to watch the kiddos. Having a young high school student watch the kids is different for sure. A parent either has to drive her or we have to drop her off. Her authority probably isn’t quite as much as it is with an older sitter. School nights are mostly off limits as well as too late of nights (who am I kidding? I like to be in bed by 10pm too). But the kids enjoy their nights with her.

And maybe I’m just projecting as I hated babysitting as a young girl. I tried it a couple times even after attending the Red Cross babysitter certification class. I thought it was going to be my calling. My money maker.  Until crying kids and sitting alone at night in a random house came into play.  Then came the call to my Mom to come help me or hang out with me.

But we may keep on this trend. Because if you can get a good younger sitter and groom her for your family, maybe she’ll stay your sitter throughout the next 2-6 years depending on what she does after high school.

Go forth and schedule a date night. And maybe order a Nest Cam for your kids rooms’ so you can check on the nighttime routine like we do when we’re away from home. We have one for each kid’s room and the doorbell cam too. Though at first, it was our doggie monitor, now it’s a way my husband can check on the kids in their rooms when he’s traveling.

And my one tip that works well for my family is to build up these babysitter nights to your kids so that they look forward to your date nights. I tell the sitter to basically give the kids whatever they want…snacks, food, drinks, movies, painting, etc. So now, when we get home and wake up with the kids, they are so excited that they got to eat four marshmallows and watch a movie upstairs that they didn’t even care that we were gone.

~Mel