10+ tips for car trips with kids

10 tips for car trips with kidsDo you have some long car trips coming up for the summer? Like most people, I will be spending quite a bit of time in my car over the next few weeks as we visit relatives, see the sights, and vacation with friends in the area, and I’m already planning ahead for the road trips with three young kiddos.

To me, road trips are a great way to bond and see the sights both near and far in ways you just can't on an airplane, and I love taking a good road trip {or three} each summer. But, because of limited space and cramped conditions, they can also be a delicate balance of having what you need with fun things to do, without packing your vehicle from top to bottom. The picture below shows a precarious suitcase tower that includes what 5 people need for a snowshoe, ski, sun, and swim trip and even with the bigger car, and all of this stuff really pushed the limits of what is manageable for a road trip.

 Outlander 2017 luggage

Here are a few tips for awesome car trips with kids:

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American Girl fans: DIY Tenney and Logan inspired tin drum craft

DIY Tin Drums inspired by American GirlAre you as crazy excited about American Girl's new contemporary dolls, Tenney Grant and Logan Everett, as we are? We've literally been counting down to their release for months, and we're so thrilled they are finally here. To celebrate their release, we came up with a Tenney-and-Logan-inspired DIY project to make a tin drum so you can start a band just like they did.

I'm going to walk you through the steps to make your own drum, including two handy little printables you can use to add logos to your American Girl-inspired drums.

To start with, you will need to gather your supplies: 

2 large tin {or tin-and-cardboard} cans – we used milk substitute tins, but you could repurpose coffee cans, formula canisters, powdered drink containers, or whatever else you have on hand.

2 long threaded rods (or bolts), 8 nuts, and 12 washers – for securing the drums together

2 printables – for covering the cans {you can download those below}

Scissors, tape, ribbon, and a small drill {optional, you can use scissors if your can is thin enough} Tenney Drum supplies

Read moreAmerican Girl fans: DIY Tenney and Logan inspired tin drum craft

Introducing Logan Everett, the first ever 18″ boy doll from American Girl

Sponsored post American Girl playing guitarHe’s here! He’s here! I feel like we’ve been waiting forever for the release of the new American Girl doll, Logan Everett. The rumors have been swirling for months that a boy doll was in the works and I think I got roughly 50 messages asking if it was true. I’m happy to say that the rumors were true, and Logan Everett arrived this month at American Girl on Valentine’s Day.  American Girl Logan in storeIf you know my son, you know he’s one of the biggest fans of American Girl that there ever was. It started when my daughter got her first doll when she was 4 and he was only 2, and that love has grown exponentially throughout the years. He was crazy excited when he was given a boy Bitty Twin we scored second-hand, but I always wished there was an 18” boy I could buy for him. American Girl Tenney and Logan in storeYou should have seen his face when his sister and I surprised him with his own Logan Everett doll at the Seattle American Girl café last week. Not only was he over the moon excited, but so was his sister who has been dying for him to get his own doll for years and years. She had been plotting since before Christmas about how she could get him a doll if they came out with a boy and Logan was everything she had hoped for for her brother.

Read moreIntroducing Logan Everett, the first ever 18″ boy doll from American Girl

Playing and learning with American Girl: Melody’s microphone and piano playsets

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Amereican Girl Melody doll
After spending so much time this year learning about the new BeForever character, Melody Ellison, I wanted to get the kids something special this year to celebrate. With so many awesome choices in the Melody collection, I debated for a bit whether I wanted to go with one of her playsets or an outfit or two.
Melody with piano and microphoneIn the end, I decided that adding to our Melody collection with a toy they could play with was the way to go. I chose Melody’s Microphone Set paired with Melody’s Electric Piano because the kids were specifically drawn to them at the Seattle American Girl store after they realized that they actually really work. American Girl family band

Read morePlaying and learning with American Girl: Melody’s microphone and piano playsets

Back to School with AT&T deals

Sponsored postIt’s back to school time, and your shopping lists probably look a little like mine do. First, the office supply store, then some clothing basics mix and match separates at the local mall, after that there is backpack shopping at the kids’ store with all three kids, then heading out for a special trip to the organizing store for some lunchbox accessories, and… I’m already glazing over just thinking about all my back to school errands. So, for my own sanity, I needed to add a fun stop for back to school.

For the fun stuff that will actually get them excited about back to school, look no further than AT&T. AT&T store 2By now you know that the AT&T store carries everything you need to make the most of your mobile devices, and back to school time means everyone is going to be a whole lot more mobile with school schedules, sports, and extracurricular activities. Whether you are looking for a new smartphone so you can keep in touch, speakers for a dorm room, a tablet so they can do homework when they can’t be at a computer, or an activity tracker to keep up with all those extra steps they will be racking up on campus, AT&T has you covered.   Microsoft tablet and phoneReady to start the fun back to school shopping? Here are just a few great deals for back to school:

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Seattle: Teatro ZinZanni’s new family show Lighter Than Air rocks

Sponsored postHave you passed by the Teatro ZinZanni historical spiegeltent on Mercer Street in Seattle and wondered what on earth went on beyond those brightly colored walls? 6a0105362badb1970b0191032af460970c-800wiNow is the perfect chance to check it out with the whole family with Teatro ZinZanni’s new family show, Lighter Than AirFeaturing Seattle’s own kiddie rock band, Recess Monkey, this new show has something for everyone. Teatro ZinZanni wallAs soon as you enter the lobby, you know you are in for a treat. The lush lobby of Teatro ZinZanni is full of color and excitement, just begging kids to dress up, relax, play pretend, and even grab a snack from the old fashioned snack bar before the show. Teatro ZinZanni face paintsAnd, then you step inside the gorgeous theater – a lofted tent filled with booths, chairs, and for this show, a “mosh pit” where kids can enjoy the show while they dance.

Read moreSeattle: Teatro ZinZanni’s new family show Lighter Than Air rocks

Back to School ROCKS with AT&T – LG Tone wireless stereo headset

Sponsored postIt’s back to school time, and you’re probably busy checking off lists consisting of pencils, glue sticks, backpacks and rulers. All of which are necessary for back to school, but I think we can all agree they really aren’t fun, are they?

So, what if you want to get them something they will be excited about for back to school? For all that fun stuff, look no further than AT&T. LG Tone Pro back to schoolBy now you know that the AT&T store carries everything you need to make the most of your mobile devices, and back to school time means everyone is going to be a whole lot more mobile with school schedules, sports, and extracurricular activities. Whether you are looking for a new smartphone so you can keep in touch, speakers for a dorm room, a tablet so they can do homework when they can’t be at a computer, or an activity tracker to keep up with all those extra steps they will be racking up on campus, AT&T has you covered. 

Read moreBack to School ROCKS with AT&T – LG Tone wireless stereo headset

Great gifts for Dads and Grads from AT&T

Sponsored postWhen it comes to gifts for dad, you really can’t beat awesome tech accessories, and you can find all sorts of great tech gifts at AT&T. This June AT&T retail stores are offering a variety of gadgets under $100 that make great gift ideas for Father’s Day and Graduation that we adore, and I’m sure your dad or grad would as well.

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One of our favorite items on the gift guide is the Braven BRV-1 speaker. We got one of these awesome Braven speakers from AT&T earlier this year and we absolutely adore it. It can go anywhere, do anything, and it sounds amazing. It’s rugged enough for camping and can even handle damp conditions. You can check out our full review here. 6a0105362badb1970b01bb08095c57970d-800wi

Read moreGreat gifts for Dads and Grads from AT&T

Travel must-have for kids: The LeapPad3 learning tablet

Sponsored post LeapPad travel must haveMy kids are pretty awesome travelers for the most part. They can handle short flights like pros and are the best road trip buddies on long car rides. But, as it turns out, they are pretty awful redeye international travelers. Go figure.  

When I look back now, I can’t help but ask myself what I was thinking taking two small kids on packed overnight flights that included 4 airports, long layovers, no meals, and a trip through customs. Oh, and did I mention I am very pregnant and have a hard time getting comfortable in even the plushest digs?

Seriously. What on earth was I thinking?! Having taken dozens of flights with them before, some of them international and some of them redeye in which they handled themselves perfectly, I was clearly going into things far too cocky considering the itinerary and their ages.

Thank goodness our friends over at LeapFrog realized that even good travelers could use something to pass 14+ hours of travel and they sent us their newest tablets, the LeapPad3 to use on our way to #BeachesMoms Social Media on the Sand conference. I spent the night before our big trip loading up on learning software, TV shows, and music to put on the tablets in addition to our collection of software cartridges from our original LeapPad, and I’m so glad I did. LeapPad 3 Rocking outThis awesome show? This was my view during one of our shorter flights. Would you believe that she is rocking out to the old classic "Do you Know the Muffin Man"? Someone download this girl the Frozen sing-a-long, stat. 

Read moreTravel must-have for kids: The LeapPad3 learning tablet

Hello, phablet! Nokia Lumia 1520 16GB from AT&T

Sponsored postRemember my beloved Nokia Lumia 920 Windows phone? It met its untimely demise after the screen was crushed at Disneyland last April, which is after it was revived after it took a swim in the kids’ bath, and after it had been dropped a bazillion times while juggling kids. I was so distraught about ruining my phone that I simply couldn’t retire it and kept on using it even with the cracked screen and the odd thumping noise it made when it would get shaken. Nokia Lumia in riceBut, then the Nokia Lumia 1520 with Windows Phone 8.1 arrived and I happily ditched the 920 in a pile of paperwork until it could be recycled properly.

Friends, meet my upgrade, the Nokia Lumia 1520. Part phone, part tablet, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is best described as a phablet. With a huge 6” HD 1080p display, this is quite possibly the biggest phone I have ever seen, which I honestly wasn’t sure was for me before now.

Read moreHello, phablet! Nokia Lumia 1520 16GB from AT&T