life in general {airports with kids}

Last week, the family jetted down to NYC to honor and celebrate my sister-in-law’s graduation from NYU. It was a very exciting trip for all of us for lots of reasons, but I always get a little, tiny bit anxious when I am about to take a trip with our kids. I worry about the tantrum in the middle of a flight, negotiating good behavior, the “I have to go potty badly, right now“, so on and so on. I must say though, that we have been blessed with good little travelers. Moira flew for the first time at 3 months old and then again at 1 year…both times making it through cancellations and delays with as much grace as a baby could have at that time. Ronan flew for the first time when he was 15 months old and it was as much a breeze for him as it was for Baby Girl.

To deal with my growing nervousness, I did what any other Mom-who-likes-to-pretend-she-has-control would do…I prepared. I packed the kids backpacks with a book or two, coloring, tracing, maybe a computer game for Moira, and most wonderful of all…Snacks.


In case you didn’t know, food items are ok getting past the security. Just no drinks. I do typically bring empty water bottles when traveling and fill them, again and again, wherever I find a water fountain. I didn’t this time and was kicking myself, often, for not doing it. Water bottles.

airplane-treatsAnd yes I did pack marshmallows, which came in very handy when the kids had to sit still while my husband hunted down my suitcase. And the kisses…didn’t even use them…but always good to be prepared, right?

The preparation paid off. Sure, Ronan had a little hissy fit during takeoff because he wanted to stand on me and look out the window. Nothing a grape or two couldn’t fix though.

Can’t wait to share some of the photos from the trip!

Happy Travels!


Linking It Up:

Mommy's Monday

organizing kids’ spaces


When we lived in our old house, our “playroom” was our living room.  We had some shelving behind our couch that housed the toys, along with some baskets on our ladder shelves by the media cabinet.  Many toys were also boxed up in the attic, waiting to be “swapped out”, which happened maybe once every couple of months…if I remembered.   Even though the space was small, I obsessed about there being a place for toys and tried, endlessly, to make sure that toys always got back to their “homes”.  Tried…


In our new house, the playroom is the sunroom and will be until we feel comfortable enough letting the kids be in the basement to play by themselves…or until the basement is finished.  The same shelving unit from the old house is used, along with much of the same system.  Toys that don’t fit on the shelf upstairs are housed downstairs…in boxes…that are taped up.  Seems like I am falling into the same trap with the whole swapping out.  Until now.

We got some basic white shelving to hold the “spare” toys in a simple play area in the basement.  That, with an area rug, some basic white shelving, etc…there is a spot for the kids to enjoy downstairs.  And a way for me to quickly trade the toys the kids are “bored” with for toys that have been in hiding for a couple of months.


In my unpacking, purging, spring-cleaning, organizing frenzy, I took some previously-used, working methods along with some tips from the net and past practice in my SLP jobs to update our play space work a little better.

Here is what I know:

1.  Teaching our kids from an early age to pick up after themselves works.  It has taken/is taking some time but pays off.  My youngest, just over 1 1/2 years, will put his toys back into a box and put the lid on with verbal prompting.  Not because he is some miracle cleaning baby, but because we reinforce it.  Often.  Of course there are times when I clean up the mess at the end of the day.  Probably more often than I would like, but not as much as I would be cleaning up if we didn’t spend time on the next thing I know, which is…

2.  Teaching our kids to put away one thing before taking out another thing also works.  Same as #1, it takes time and is difficult to stay on top of at the beginning.  With consistency, we can just tell Little Miss “put away your Ponies before you start coloring” without having to directly supervise…most of the time.  Let’s be honest here.  She is still four and disputes everything.

3.  Toys that are hiding in a brown-colored canvas basket (as trendy and neat as it looks) do not get played with as often.  We have them.  We used them.  We are  still using them in some cases as you can see.  But for most intents and purposes, they don’t work.  If the little ones don’t see it, they won’t play with it.  Likewise for toys stored too high (I moved the puzzles and books down at eye-level for Ronan).

4.  To contradict myself, canvas bins are great for toys that go in a specific category.  For example, all of Moira’s kitchen things are in one basket.  All of the accessories for the dollies are in a basket.  The baskets are good for her because as she gets older the toys she plays with have some…corresponding parts…and bins keep them together nicely.  Also, she can maneuver them on and off the shelf pretty well, pack them up, etc.


5.  Keeping like items together works.  Ok.  I am a “categorizing” freak.  I always have been.  Maybe it is OCD.  Maybe it is my Speech-Patholgoist brain.  Who knows.  But it works.  Wanna play with Ponies?  Get the Ponies out.  Then put them away.  Wanna play with cars?  You get the point.


6.  Storing items in containers that kids can use on their own is…just better.  I learned this the hard way.  Moira had a Mrs. Potato Head that came in a fancy box.  Playing was fun.  Cleaning up was a nightmare because the little pieces had to go into the potato, then the potato into the box, then all the big pieces in the box, then try to get the box shut.  Guess who had to stop everything to clean up the Mrs. Potato Head toy.  Yeah.


7.  Keeping some toys hidden away and swapping them with the ones that have been out every so often keeps things fresh.  We finally did this and it was like Christmas all over.  No, seriously, we had toys still in boxes from….one…two?…Oh I don’t know how many Christmases ago.  Anyway, they are NEW!  And the old toys that were in hiding for the last couple of months?  We are pretty excited about those too.

8.  Change your system when it doesn’t work.  I kept holding on to this idea that the play area had to look put together and matchy-matchy.  Guess what.  I am not playing there.  And it didn’t work.  So I finally let go of some of my canvas bins (sorry Martha) and opted for the see-through boxes.  Already with positive results.  The same goes for putting things out on the shelves instead of grouped in bins/boxes/baskets.

9.  Minimize…often.   I am still working on this.  Our kids have entirely too many toys and knowing this, I still look at some toys and think, “awww, this is so cute” or, “so-and-so got this for him” or, “this was her first…”.  Getting rid of toys that aren’t played with, too “young”, a double of something else, or is similar to another item is not a bad thing.  My daughter doesn’t even notice when I give away her toys.  If she does and asks why they are in a box, we tell her we are giving them to someone else to enjoy since we have so many other toys to play with.  Isn’t it so nice to share our — with other kids who might love a — too?

These are the tried and so-far-true ways we organize our play space.  Of course every family is different.  Are there any great organization tools you use for your kids’ toys?  Please share!


Linking it Up:

Southern Lovely

Someday Crafts

Semi Homemade Mom

Creations by Kara

Lil Luna

Ginger Snap Crafts

Suburbs Mama

Vintage Gwen

A Glimpse Inside

Craftberry Bush

Crafty Scrappy Happy

Design, Dining, and Diapers


House of Hepworths

Somewhat Simple

Yesterday on Tuesday

Katie’s Nesting Spot

Serenity Now

New Planner

Even though it is not a new calendar year necessarily, I am no longer working in a school district, and my kids are not yet in school (although we refer to the daycare program as “school”) I still feel like September is a good time to reorganize and get some fresh habits.

Maybe it is the cool weather coming in and the preparation for winter when I will be locked up in my house in snowy Buffalo.  Maybe it is the end of the care-free days of summer.  Maybe it is my OCD.  Regardless, I have this feeling that it is time to take a look at life and figure out what I can do to make it a little less stressful.

Back at the beginning of the year I started using a number of “planning” and “organizational” tools, all housed in a “Household Management Binder” of sorts.

I had a pre-printed grocery list I used weekly on which I checked off or jotted down the items we needed for the week. I had a pre-printed chore list, broken down by rooms in the house.  At the start of each day I picked one, two, or as many chores I would have liked to get done.  My goal was not for every surface to shine everyday, but for me to have a home I felt comfortable enough to have guests in at any given moment. In the past I found that assigning a chore to a specific day did not work for me…it was too rigid.  I had a daily planner that outlined everything from appointments, to dos, menu, things to absolutely get done, notes, exercise, bla bla bla.  That actually worked well for a while until I missed filling out a day. Then another.  Then another.  You get the idea.  I planned my weekly menu on Google Calendar.  Loved it because I could save the links to my recipes or ideas I would be using right there!  We even sat down and did a weekly budget…Thank you SK2.

Then came the end of pregnancy when I was lucky to get a single task–napping and chasing a two-year-old not included–done.

Then came a baby and I was lucky to get a single task–napping, nursing, changing diapers, rocking an infant, chasing a two-year-old, and potty training not included–done.

A planner?  Yeah right!

Well, now I am ready to be back on track with the intent to use everything as before…except the Daily planner. It is just too much to fill in all that stuff everyday when I am rushing around as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.  But weekly?  I can manage that.

So I spent a couple of nap times doing this…
Weekly Planner(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

I have my To Do (including workouts, work, or activities with Moira & Ronan); To Clean (where I can jot down what chores I will do from my weekly chore sheet); To Go (for appointments and errands); To Eat (dinner…and any other meals that need planning); and To Remember (any extra important stuff that week).  I can fill out the majority at the start of the week and fill in the rest on that day or as it comes up.

Less paper…less filling in.  I have even thought about putting this in a frame for a dry-erase calendar.  Not quite there yet.

Feel free to use for yourself.  I am happy to have some organized chaos in my life again!!!


Organize and Decorate Everything  Let Birds Fly

Spring De-Cluttering

Whether it be cooking weeknight meals or baking to fulfill my sweet tooth, I enjoy both trying out new recipes with new ingredients and returning back to those old favorites I will suddenly get a craving for (he-llo Hershey’s Special Chocolate Cake).  If you are a Betty-Crocker wannabe like me, your pantry/cupboards are full of wonderful things to include in your recipes…and they are all in bags with some sort of twisty, clampy closure thingy…and they are all shoved into a corner of your pantry…and they may be a bit older than you would like to admit publicly.  Every time I open my cupboard I think to myself, “Geez, Anne, clean this out!”  Well today I got a start on it…

I have been following Simple Mom for a couple of months now because I like her ideas on simplifying and organizing life.  The past couple of weeks she has been presenting a new “Project: Simplify Hot-Spot” for her followers to tackle in their homes–cleaning, organizing, simplifying, decluttering, stuff like that.  This week’s spot is the refrigerator/pantry. ( I am proud to say I cleaned my fridge out yesterday.)  Today I began tackling the the baking side of my cupboard.  I really loved how Simple Mom used recycled glass jars to store dry goods…goodbye bags with twisty, clampy things.  And since I just cleaned out my fridge, I had plenty to start with.  I printed some address-sized labels from Giver’s Log, slapped those on my jars, and I am now one more step to being less cluttered (and I am reusing too!)

And when you clean out your baking supplies, what do you wanna do?  Bake!  I had some (not expired) ingredients in a bag here, a container there that I thought of using up to free some cupboard space and ended up making a much-altered-version of an old family favorite…Jumbo Golden Raisin Cookies.  But wait!  I don’t have golden raisins, nor do I have walnuts…I have dried cherries, apricots, cashews, and honey roasted peanuts…oh, and some flaked coconut.  It will have to do!

The result was a chewy, large, breakfast cookie-type treat.  Mild flavor, hearty, and oh-so-yummy.  I really enjoyed them with my impulse (note: pregnancy) buy at Wegman’s today–vanilla flavored almond milk.  mmmm…

 This is the recipe for Jumbo Fruit & Nut Cookies:
1.  Put 1/2 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots in a small bowl.  Add enough boiling water to cover, and let them sit about 10 minutes.  Drain, then added a cup of flaked coconut
2.  Cream 1 cup butter, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 cup packed light brown sugar in a large bowl.
3.  Add 3 eggs, one at a time and beat well.
4.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped nuts to the fruit mixture (I used 1/2 cup chopped cashews and 1/2 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts).
5.  Sift together 4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 2 cups all-purpose and 2 cups whole wheat flour).
6.  Gradually add to butter mixture and blend well.
7.  Stir in fruit/nut mixture.
8.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle sugar on top and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 (I used my BIG cookie scoop, flattened the cookie slightly, and baked on an ungreased stone for 20 minutes.  If left on stone too long, they will stick a bit).