Category Archives: How To

Fashion for the Kittens: something mindless for a Saturday night.

Let’s do something a little mindless, okay?
Let’s talk children’s fashion.
I used to talk a lot more about children’s fashion, but that was before work and four kids and school and autism and violin and dance and Willow Center and GAP…it was when children’s fashion was closer to the top of my list of things that matter.
I’m lucky these days if I can find matching socks for my kids much less a put-together outfit. Just kidding. I try my hardest because it’s something I enjoy, but I don’t care as much as I used to. But it’s a perfect subject for a blog post when things have been a bit heavy lately.
It’s technically Autumn but it feels a lot like Spring. Today it was 70 degrees, I kid you not. We can see our breath in the morning but by afternoon we are peeling off our coats and it’s short sleeves. I’m over it. Let’s move on to sweaters and hoodies, booties and tights. Enough with the short sleeves.
Here are some of my favorite looks for kids in the Fall:
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I’m a sucker for bloomers and tights. I know, what’s the point? The point is that it’s adorable. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
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Maria is eleven and would rather me pick clothes for her than have to get up 10 minutes earlier than necessary to pick her own. She’s so easy to please and she’s super fashion on her own, so skinnies always, boots always, and she rocks a leather jacket like a boss.

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Last year, Charlotte wouldn’t even touch her clothes in the morning if it didn’t consist of a dress and wedges. Yes, wedges. A famous Charlotte quote: “What is THIS?! This isn’t even LIKE A DRESS!!” complete with a toss of the cute clothes I had laid out for her. She’s mellowed out a bit and will even let me dress in her a sweatshirt with Jay-Z on the front and tennis shoes. We’ve come a long way, baby. But to meet her in the middle, I like a dress, leggings, and cute shoes. The jacket gets torn off, I’m sure, within minutes but she humors me at least while she walks to the playground.

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Welcome to my perfect world where Ollie would happily put on a neutral Mabo tee, a cute jumper, wellies and yellow tights. Ollie cries when she’s not in a dress (this is a Charlotte flashback) and she usually sneaks a princess dress during that sweet spot when she knows we don’t have time for her to go in and change before leaving the house. But I’m not adding a Princess Sophia dress in this little collage, so this is it.

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Alice and Jamie dress alike and if I let them do it on their own, they’d wear pajama pants every day and flip flops. So Hanna Andersson staples it is. Super comfortable, classic and cute.

 

If you see me out and about and the kids are wearing pajama shirts and tights as pants, it means I lost the morning battle. Or….Dan got the dressed. Either way, remember that deep inside me, I still know kitten fashion.

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Ramen Night

It’s been two weeks + since I’ve posted and so much has happened.

I had another baby

We moved to Canada

We started an exotic pet business

Dan started a band and made it big

We had ramen night.

 

4 lies and a truth.

 

But we have, actually, been busy. The kids are coming up on the last days of school. We pulled Charlotte from her preschool program so she’s been on summer break early. Liz had her baby (Lucia) and I’ve been making excuse after excuse to sneak some snuggles in. Maria had her Spring dance performance and got pointe shoes and had her school Spring concert. Jamie has been researching paradoxes and schooling us on as many as he can. Alice had a birthday party and scored big. Franci has perfected her “no” and “hello” and is basically the cutest baby ever. Ollie has defended her title as happiest human on Earth with zillions of out-of-the-blue giggles throughout the day.

And we had ramen night.

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Okay, so you (probably) know this about me: I love a good party. Themes make them so much better. Not stupid and over the top themes (although I dabble in that as well) but subtle themes. Ya know, like ramen. In San Diego, Danny and I ate at Underbelly, this amazing ramen house. The food there was so delicious and I love dishes that can be customized to an individual’s liking without re-creating the entire dish. With ramen, you have your standard base and you mix in what you love. We decided we’d try it out. Also something about the Prasils: when we decide to do something, we do it.

Amazon happened to have legit ramen ingredients and materials so we utilized our Prime account. Dan made a broth (homemade broth is everything), we skimmed it and skimmed it some more, we smoked some ribs and made a delicious sauce

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soft-boiled some eggs, and arranged it all for the perfect ramen experience.

 

 

Oh, and fried rice. We made fried rice.

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We had drinks and hung out with friends. Of the 7 couples we invited, only three were able to come. There were fundraisers attended, sick kids to take care of, sick adults not able to party, and out-of-town commitments. We were disappointed of course but had a great time with our pals who were there.

 

How do you make ramen? Here:

 

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Ramen party not required.

DIY Fabric Banner

DIY

You can all now call me Dr. Prasil.

Or Professor Prasil.

Or Professor.

Or just Ruthie, I don’t care, but I prefer Dr. Prasil.

What I’m saying is that I’m teaching a blogging class at our local college all about blogging and one thing we did was a DIY post. Enjoy!

 

Here’s what you need:

Photo Apr 14, 6 27 54 PM

 

Cut the fabric into 1″ strips.Photo Apr 14, 6 34 18 PM

 

Oh, hello, lovely class.Photo Apr 14, 6 34 54 PM

Fold the strips in half…like so.Photo Apr 14, 6 39 10 PM

 

At the end of the strip with the fold, fold it down again only about 1″ down.Photo Apr 14, 6 39 24 PM

 

Cut a slit about 1/2″ long on that fold (so that when you unfold it, it’s an inch long, Einstein)Photo Apr 14, 6 39 36 PM

There’s your slit.Photo Apr 14, 6 39 47 PMPhoto Apr 14, 6 39 59 PM

Lay it on top of the jute cord like this:Photo Apr 14, 6 46 26 PM

 

Pull the ‘free ends’ around the back side of the jute cord and through the slit.Photo Apr 14, 6 46 43 PM

 

Tighten that baby up.Photo Apr 14, 6 47 00 PM

 

Now, go create a petition and present it to your dean of nursing, proposing a change in carpet pattern.

 

You’re done!

San Francisco with a Toddler

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10 times out of 10, when given a choice (…side note, this scenario is rare) I will choose to see the ocean on vacation. Being by the water is something I need in life and seeing my kids love it makes me so happy. Cities and towns by the ocean have a different vibe to them, am I right? That vibe happens to be mine, too.

San Francisco is an incredible place to visit with kids. There is absolutely no shortage of parks, museums, events and sightseeing that kids might find entertaining. Luckily, they are all things that parents like, too. I recently took my 2 year old and my almost-1 year old to San Francisco to visit family…on my own…and was so pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to stay happy and keep the little ones content as well. Check out our favorites:

  1. Curiodyssey at Coyote Point in San Mateo. This is a hands-on science museum where kids of any age (really) get to do different science experiments with all kinds of materials: magnets, air, water, mirrors, etc. In addition to the exhibits inside is an outside area devoted to animal exhibits. Badgers, raccoons, bobcats, eagles, birds, butterflies, snakes, otters and others live in spaces that visitors can peek in at. Catch the bobcat feeding at 1:00 for a really great explanation of the animals, why they are there, what they eat, how they live and other interesting facts. There is also a great gift shop and snack shop making it easy to have an all-day adventure.

 

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2. Magical Bridge Playground – If you are anywhere near Palo Alto and have an hour or more to kill, you have to visit this playground. It’s a socially inclusive play area designed to meet the needs of all children of all abilities. Children in wheelchairs (or adults in wheelchairs of course!) can access any and all parts of the playground and take advantage of each feature. It was designed and constructed with every child in mind: those with disabilities (both physical and those that cannot be seen such as autism or sensory processing disorders) and those without. There is literally something for everyone here and something for every age and developmental level.

 

3. Various Community Events – Renegade Craft Fair – We hit the jackpot when we were in town because so was the Renegade Craft Fair, a collection of artists who come together for a weekend show. Basically, every great Instagram shop on the West Coast. Everything from jewelry to furniture to watercolor prints to clothing. It is held at Fort Mason Festival Pavilion which also happens to be an incredible ‘walk-around’ spot for adults and kids alike if there isn’t a show inside. From the edge you can see the Golden Gate Bridge to the left and Alcatraz to the right. We saw sailboats and swimmers (brrrr) and played at the park, too. It’s definitely a place to visit with kids or without.

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4. Half Moon Bay – drive to Half Moon Bay and hang out on one of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast. There were very few people there when we were, and although it’s a bit of a hike down it’s definitely doable (even with a couple kids in tow) and absolutely worth it.

 

5 – Kabuki Theater -Sundace Cinemas has a location in downtown San Francisco that is so much fun and worth taking your kids to see a show. At Kabuki Theater, you can enjoy Humphry Slocombe ice cream (may I suggest the “secret breakfast?”) or a fantastic meal. Or stick to the traditional popcorn and candy. At 21+ shows (several are shown a day) you can take any drinks in that you purchase, including full wine bottles. Now, explain to me how that can get any better?

 

Sundance Cinemas

 

Enjoy!

DIY: Bird Feeders

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The sun is teasing us lately. Not only is it shining on our February days, it’s warming them, too. It was 64* the other day. That’s so close to 70 which is so close to 80 which is close to 90 which means it’s basically summer.

When it’s this unseasonably warm, I have to do everything in my power to keep the young ones from putting on their swimming suits and running straight for the hose. This time, I put on my crafty pants and took a craft straight from Pinterest. This is a recipe that is ALL over and comes from many different sites…like here, here and here for example, among many others. Birdseed is incredibly cheap, especially if you buy it at Winco. The rest of the stuff you most likely have on hand (although gelatin is one of those things you have only if you’ve made something in the last year or so with it because it comes in a package of 4 envelopes).

(before we start, let’s talk about this spelling of “gelatine”….Now, I wrote it like that on the paper because that’s what it says on the package. But…I’m pretty sure it’s gelatin…am I right?? have I gone mad??)

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You definitely don’t need a cookie cutter for this craft. You can totally free-hand a design or just do a ball or use something else like a jar lid or something. But I live in a house full of unicorn-animal-heart-loving girls so we just had to do it this way.

Dissolve the gelatin into simmering water. Let cool for a couple minutes then dump in the birdseed. So, I’ll be honest here and totally eyeballed the entire recipe. I think I used a little more water and a lot more birdseed. Basically, you want to make sure it’s not soupy at all. Not even stew-y.

Mix in the birdseed.

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Dump it out on wax paper (more on this at the end of the post) to let cool so little hands can handle it easily.

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We rubbed our hands with olive oil so the stuff didn’t stick too much to our hands and fingers. Fill up 1/2 – 3/4 of the cookie cutter and pack it down really tightly.

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Fold the string in half and with the open ends, place them in a spot where the weight will be evenly distributed (so it doesn’t lean too far forward or backwards…we should have placed it in the unicorn’s head).

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FIll it the rest of the way up with seed until it’s completely full and all you have sticking out is the loop of the string.

Let it dry COMPLETELY. If you do it in the morning, don’t even think about touching it until after dinner. If you do it in the afternoon, wait until the next morning. Waiting is hard.

But look what you get when you do:6 7 8

And if you decide that plain paper will work just fine, you will get this:9

The gelatin is pretty much glue. It’ll make your paper stick right to the floor. If this does happen to you, get SUPER hot water on a washcloth and wipe up as much of the paper as possible. Then, for what’s left, dab a couple drops of YLEO lemon oil on a washrag and scrub it out.

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Enjoy!

A Day in the Life

I love “A Day in the Life” posts from other bloggers. Just like posts about what people have in their purses, their fridges, or home tours. I’m nosey. I like seeing how other people live and what their every day is like. One thing about social media: it’s SO easy to make your life look beautiful and wonderful and easy and flush.

So here’s a look into our Thursdays.

I start the morning off at 4:30am with a green machine smoothie. I slip into my Lululemon leggings and my Albion Fit top and put my Nikes on and head out for my 5 mile run. Just a short one on Thursdays.

You guys, I’m kidding. I wake up at 7:00am and don’t shower because I shower the night before.

Then I start the process of waking everyone else up. This girl is always already awake and is always sitting on her bed like an angel reading.

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The others have a harder time. It usually involves crabby talk and then migrating out to the TV room where they find blankets and sneak in a few extra minutes of shut-eye.

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They always have 3 options for breakfast: scrambled eggs, Eggo waffles, or oatmeal.

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Yes, I’m very gourmet and healthy. I don’t need more people to tell me, this I already know.

Kids get dressed, brush teeth, and then I feed and clothe the tiniest.

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With help.

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Olive does NOT leave her side. “Mama!!! Baby!!  CRYING!!” Yep, I can hear her. And now I hear you. Move along, now.

There is also lots of hair to brush and fix.

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And this:

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Let me tell you what a chore it is to fix Alice’s hair. It’s like giving a cat a bath, trying to brush the fur of a young rabbit and dodging Nerf bullets all at the same time. It’s that annoying and difficult. And it’s usually why we are late to school. So after everyone is dressed and ready, I yell a little bit and we are out the door.

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But, for the love of all that is holy, we CANNOT forget DeeDee.

We drop some kids off at school, then get my Starbucks. There’s one thing I’m not willing to give up on this god-awful diet of mine. Starbucks.

I feed the baby again, change some more diapers, then decide to tackle the dishes in the sink while getting Maria set up with her school work.

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The dishes, like laundry, never end. I once thought I was genius by buying throwaway cups for my kids to use during the day until I figured out that I was spending so much freaking money on cups. WHY do they get a new cup every time they get water? They get water every 10 minutes! I don’t want to do the math on that right now, but I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t cost effective. So now we just do a lot of dishes.

Sometime between school drop off and another school drop off (yes, multiple drop offs), Ollie decides to do something really naughty. Today, it was this:

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Oh, that’s just my blood-red lipstick. All over her lips. It stains really well, you guys. It also is pretty thick and you learn this quickly when you try and clean it up off the bathroom cupboard doors and floors. So, naturally, I gave her a stern “No,” which resulted in the saddest tears you’ve ever seen. So I gave her a peace offering of cheese.

Cheese is her love language.

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I also happened to have a doctor’s appointment (6 week post partum checkup…how is that possible?!) so I quickly curled some (more) hair and got little bodies out the door after also making lunch for Alice to take to school. This outing required a kid-transfer at the doctor’s office since Alice needed to be at school (and Charlotte picked up) right in the middle of my appointment.

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(that is a picture of the doctor’s office.)

I get home, after Dan has done the school stuff, and feed the monsters lunch. I also see that Charlotte has thrown off her school clothes and very quickly changed into a princess dress. Standard.

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We talk about school and she shows me her work from the day.

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After Maria eats, I crack the whip and put her back to work. So much work for a 9 year old. *sigh* Worst. Teacher. Ever.

She’s learning how to compose and properly write letters. So if you receive one in the mail (I’m talking to you, Rihanna), please reply. And also send free stuff. We like free stuff.

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Then I have her read the newest Time for Kids (homeschoolers…it’s SO worth it to subscribe to this!). If you know Maria, you know it was completely her idea to dress like her….

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Then after I set her up with the rest of her afternoon work, change some diapers, feed a baby, and put the 2 year old down for a nap, I do the following:

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Clean.

Play.

Read. (and plan)

That lasts all of an hour though before I have to go and get the kids from school.

We get home and I have Maria practice violin, Jamie snuggles up and does his own thing (read), and the girls play ponies.

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After I feed Francesca again and get an after school snack for the other kids, I put her down to play.

She LOVES PLAYING!!!

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oops.

Then I get dinner started. We bought 1/2 a cow from our good friends through the Boys and Girls Club Auction and it was the best decision everrrrrrr. We have beef coming out our ears. Tonight I went with this recipe and it was so good and easy, you guys.

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And corn muffins.

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And roasted cauliflower.

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With 6 kids you set everything up assembly line style.

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And then this guy gets home. My favorite part of the day. After Starbucks. Obviously.

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We get the kids set up and then eat together in peace. I know, this goes against my whole post a long while back about eating together as a family, but sometimes mom and dad need time alone.

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Then it’s a little more laundry, a little more cleaning.

The baby, who is good as gold, falls asleep.

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This carpet really, truly, is that color. And now it’s clean (even though it may not look it!).

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And then, thinking it might never arrive, it’s bath and jammie time!!!!

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I get the other ones settled and ready for bed and then make my way to my room.

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And every night, without fail, this little bug makes her way in.

Sneaky like a fox.

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And that’s our Thursday. Each day is different of course. On Tuesdays, there is violin and dance. On wednesday, there is First Communion prep. On Friday, more dance. There are play dates and dinners and birthday parties on any given day. Our life is busy, and so is yours.

How To: take a quick getaway with lots of little ones

Dan and I get cabin fever quite often. We like to be busy and on-the-go. Sometimes that means running errands all day, sometimes that means getting out of town. While it can sometimes be less stressful to just let the kids run crazy (and usually half naked) around the house and pulling out toys from every cupboard and drawer while you snuggle down and watch tv on the weekends, it can be equally less stressful to not deal with that house mess and instead leave your clean house behind for a weekend away.

We are insanely lucky to have access to a couple cabins that are a short drive from us — 3 hours, tops. In the winter we go to play in the snow, snowboard, ice skate and play with our winter friends and in the summer we go to swim in the lake, go to farmer’s markets, pick huckleberries and play with our summer friends.

Make no mistake…it’s not easy to pack for 6 kids, 2 of whom are still in diapers. In addition to clothes and jammies for each day, there are always the ‘extras’ that come with seasonal activities. Snow boots, jackets, gloves….swimsuits, lifejackets, sand toys. All things that take up every available square inch of space in the suburban. But that’s okay, because it’s worth it.

I get asked all the time: “How do you do it?” I think having more than 3 or 4 kids is a mysterious thing to lots of people. They can’t imagine doing it, so it’s hard to imagine how others do it. There’s no secret, though, and odds are very good that most people would manage just fine with 6 kids, just like we do. We have just learned some tricks to make life easier, especially on vacation.

1. Rules don’t really apply on vacation.

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At the cabin(s), the kids snack all day long. They snack on things like chips and cheetos and juice. Sometimes, that’s what they eat for lunch. They watch movies all day and play on our phones. Because a vacation is a vacation and sometimes that means rules don’t apply.

What does this mean for mom and dad? It means less whiney kids. It means peace and quiet and a vacation that we can enjoy, too. Battles are meant to be fought on the weekdays. Let’s keep weekends peaceful, shall we?

2. Hang out with pals.

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During our ‘normal’ days and weeks, we don’t get together with friends often. We don’t get families together and hang out. We have lots of family time with Dan, me and the kids alone. Like…lots. So when we get out of town for the weekend, we like to spend time with our friends. We are really lucky that we have friends at each of our weekend getaway locales. Down in the snow, our group of friends is so much fun and treat us just like family. The kids LOVE them and we have so much fun with them and their adorable kids, too. And, again, it makes mom and dad happy to have other adults to hang out with. Happy parents = happy children. That’s a mathematical fact.

3. Let things go.

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Things can get awfully overwhelming at times if you let them. So…don’t let them. If you don’t get to the ski hill on time, who cares? If your kids would rather hang out in the car and watch dvds than play in the snow at the bottom of the bunny hill, even though it took you 40 minutes to get them all in their snow gear and 20 minutes to put on each pair of gloves that the little ones kept taking off…then just let them. Give them their cheetos and juice boxes, put in Sophia the First, whip out your US Weekly and People magazines and read them in front of the propane-fueled heater, snap selfies with your phone, and let things go. Our car is usually a disaster when we are out of town: wrappers everywhere, remnants of take-out lunch, books and toys and ALWAYS random shoes. Let it go. Let it be messy for a few days.

4. Snap LOTS of pictures on your phone. Sometimes, the memories of fun getaways and looking back on pictures will remind you how important it is to make the time for it. It always makes me excited to go back and anxious to do more things and take more adventures.

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(our friend’s 2 year old daughter, Alice…honestly, how adorable is that?!)

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On the practical side: 

pack the day before you leave

pack extra clothes for babies and toddlers and more diapers than you think you might need

pack a backpack full of toys and crayons and coloring books and don’t give it to the kids until you are at your destination

stop at the store on the way into town and get fruit snacks and cereal and juice and crackers and whatever else your kids like to snack on and that might seem like a treat

and, for the love of god, don’t run out of Eggo waffles and oreos

happy vacationing!