traveling with kids: some creative ideas & a giveaway

10 Jul

I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the past few days at home doing laundry to prepare for our trip this week to Michigan. Whew! Once this summer is finished and we’re home for good I’ll be so thankful. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved our family time and trips and all, but home is home sweet home. In preparation for our trip to New York last week I put together some GREAT travel boxes for the littles to do in the car and they had a great time with them. I highly suggest making some like them if you’re traveling with littles.

My children are 2, 5.5, and 7. In my boxes I put the following:

     For the baby – stickers (as seen above!), paper, a toy microphone, a travel magna doodle pad, a book, post-it notes, fruit snacks, a few candy treats, and a toy horse

     For the biggers – stickers, a notepad, colored pencils, a roll of aluminum foil (for sculpting). a pack of  pipe cleaners, a roll of tape, post-it notes, dry erase markers (for window art and a laminated Bingo game I made), a new book, a hidden pictures book, a book of mazes, fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, and a few candy treats

Some of the items I wrapped for the joy of opening them. I used the plastic shoebox sized boxes from the dollar store and I wrote each child’s name on the lid with a marker. When we go on trip 3 out of 4 of the Richards Family Tour next week, I’ll definitely be loading their boxes back up for our long car drive!

I also had read about doing a fun thing to help the kids pass the time and not ask “how much longer?” every 10 minutes. Out of colored paper I cut rectangles. On each rectangle I wrote “Travel Ticket.” Then I put a travel ticket for every 30 min. of our travel time in a plastic bag for each child. Every 30 minutes I would ask for a “travel ticket” and the kids would hand me one. You could even have them trade them in for a treat. It was great because they’d realize that they had 4 left in the bag and that would be 2 hours until we got to our destination. I don’t think they asked “how much longer” a single time. They were able to see how much time had passed and how much time was still left.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you in traveling this summer with your littles. I think after we finish our 4th trip next month, I could write a book about traveling with kids!


NOTE: Don’t forget to go to THIS post and listen to Erin Elisabeth Aubrey’s music! I will be giving her CD away tonight at 10pm to one of my blog readers who comments on THIS post. There haven’t been that many comments so your odds are GREAT!! 


Great Giveaway! Win a CD from Erin Aubrey!

7 Jul

While we were in Tennessee a few weeks ago, I had the privilege to meet Erin Elizabeth Aubrey. She was leading worship for the week of camp at Appalachian Christian Camp that we were a part of and I fell in love with her, her style, and her voice. I wanted to share this with you guys because I think you’ll like her, especially if you like music that has a different sound than mainstream pop. She has a sound that is much like Ella Fitzgerald and Norah Jones.  So, today I’m giving away one of Erin’s CD’s titled, “All These Ours.” But first, I want you to meet Erin and see a little bit about this sweet girl!

 How long have you been singing?
I’m pretty sure I started singing before I even started talking.  I was in the church kids choir by age 3 and singing into the mic even when there were no designated solos 🙂  
 What is your favorite thing about making music?  
My favorite thing about making music is that moment after a show when a girl comes up to me and says, “I can tell by your music that we’ve been through the same thing.  We should do lunch sometime and talk about it.”  To know that people can listen to my music and know that they aren’t alone, that makes it all so worthwhile.  I love the magic that words possess, and I love the art of stringing them together in a way that can speak to another human being.  
 What are the artists that inspire you?
My favorite artist is Ingrid Michaelson, but I am also very inspired by Norah Jones, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Feist, and Zooey Deschannel.
 What’s a fun, little known fact about you?  
Fun Fact: At night and on the weekends, I play shows all around Nashville.  But during the day, I am a preschool teacher at a Montessori school!  I am in charge of activities and love to make up songs and dances for the kids!
 You can go HERE and listen to a sample of Erin’s music. Then come back and leave a comment below to WIN a CD of your own. You can enter up to three times by (1) liking “Erin Elisabeth Aubrey” on Facebook, (2) liking “Mommy Needs Coffee” on Facebook, or (3) subscribing to “Mommy Needs Coffee” (check the right hand side). Leave a comment for each thing you do! I’ll select the winner by random on Sunday, July 10th at 10pm.

back in town

6 Jul

Part 2 of our 4 part Richards Family Tour has been completed. We returned last night after 15 hours in the car, from a 1450 mile round-trip to New York. My husband has family in New York and we went for a great family reunion. Being that we’ve never had the resources before, either time or money, we felt that this year we needed to make it a priority to be there and we were happy we did! Our kids had a blast playing with cousins, seeing family, and exploring new sights. On the way to New York we were able to stop and stay in DC for the night. While we were there, we went to two of the Smithsonian museums – the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum. They were great!

the US Capitol

We also saw the US Capitol building, the Washington Monument, and the White House. A crazy thing that happened was that we had best friends, Steve & Elizabeth Martin that lived here in Columbia, SC. They moved several years ago to Texas. Well thanks to Facebook, we found out they were flying into DC the same night; they were going to be there on vacation. We got to meet up with them before we left and had lunch. So great!

Times Square

After DC we went on to New York where we spent 4 nights with family. We went into the city on Saturday and brought our kids with us to Toys R’Us, Times Square, Central Park, on the Staten Island Ferry, and to see the Statue of Liberty. It was awesome! The train driver from Long Island (where we were staying) into downtown Manhattan, let us sit in the front with him and he gave us a tour as we entered the city. We really had a great time! Between DC and NYC we rode a bus, taxi, subway, ferry, train, and walked 10 miles.

riding the Staten Island Ferry after being in NYC all day


We’re home for a week and a half before heading to another family reunion in Michigan for my family. Today I feel like I have vacation hangover. I’m tired and just trying to get things back in order. of course, 3 hours at the pool helped with that some! I’m looking forward to routine and regular day to day living!


Tomorrow on the blog I will have a giveaway for you! While on our first trip to Tennessee, I met a young musician, Erin Elisabeth Aubrey. She shared a CD of hers with me for you to have! Tomorrow we’ll meet Erin, hear what she has, and have a chance to win her CD. Trust me: you don’t want to miss this! So come back tomorrow and be ready to leave a comment or two!

a look at our Tennessee trip

28 Jun
WARNING: A lot of fluff ahead!!

Benjamin at Lake Watauga

Of course, one is always not looking!

I miss this scene!

Looking at rocks with Daddy in Jonesborough

church in Jonesborough

A rare shot

This is more like it!



once upon a time…

27 Jun

Once upon a time there was this girl named Michelle who used to blog at her little corner or the web-o-sphere called “Mommy Needs Coffee.” Michelle did pretty good at juggling blogging, mommying, housekeeping, and schooling. She was involved at church, hung out with friends, and even went grocery shopping when she had to. Well, one day she went away on a great trip with her family. Upon return she realized that the balls she was juggling were flying through the air and landing on the floor with a bounce. They bounced to the corners, under tables (catching dust bunnies), and on the countertops. Laundry was piling up, the house needed to be tended to, church responsibilities increased ten-fold, the school year needed planning, her hubby was making some very important work decisions and having a lot of meetings, her children reached the boredom stage of summer, and another trip was on the horizon. So, the computer sat closed with only the occasional glance  for a while. 🙂

I love y’all, seriously. I love your comments, your e-mails, your encouraging Facebook comments and messages. I love the community we can have, seeing that we’re alike in so many ways and learning from each other. Thanks for hanging with me!

We leave for New York on Thursday. We’ll be driving the 13 hours with the 3 littles in the backseat of our Jetta. So please, be in prayer y’all! But, I am so very excited. I have never been to New York and I’m looking forward to sharing it for the first time with the littles. I love my in-laws and their crazy Italian family. We’ll be there for a family reunion and of course are planning on a few days in the city. Yes! Yes! Yes!  Then we’ll be home for 10 days before we head out again for Trip #3 to Michigan for a family reunion for my family. Whew!

Coming up on here, I have a few guest bloggers – so excited to share these lovely women with you. I also have a great giveaway I’m waiting on a few details for before I can post it up. But it’ll be worth it, I promise you!

Love y’all and thank you for your grace!  ~Michelle


sticky fun with littles

24 Jun

I came across this great idea to have fun with little hands. You simply tape contact paper to a window or door surface in the corners. I then provided a selection of things to stick to the paper. You can use feathers, sequins, toothpicks, googly eyes, scraps of ribbon or fabric, wooden pieces and shapes, and even pieces of paper. Harper had a great time and loved sticking the things to it. My 5 year-old wanted to do his own and even enjoyed it. He was able to use the items to make actual objects with the things – like a house, airplane, 3-eyed monster. Such cheap, easy fun!!

gardening, prayer, New York, and a giveaway

21 Jun

It’s going to be a hot one here today! Heat indexes in the 105-110. Ye-ow!! So we have  playdate scheduled with some friends to help occupy the littles. Hopefully we’ll find some water play in there somewhere too to keep cool!

A few random happenings/thoughts today:

Our garden: So we are year two into gardening. Up until this point, I was that person who kills everything living. But last year we did okay considering it was our first year and this year is going okay as well. I enjoy gardening and enjoy eating what we grow even more! It’s such a great experience for the littles as they tend to it, learn about it, and eat from it. This year we’re growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, onions, strawberries, and watermelons. My tomatoes aren’t doing well, but our watermelons are taking over everything! They’re growing so quickly too that you can almost see them growing if you stand by and watch! There are so many life lessons you can learn from being in the garden.

Prayer: My heart is burdened for struggles that many around me are having. Battles with illness, miscarriage, life changes, struggles with their children, church transitions and changes, and the list goes on. Don’t the needs of those around you just leave you weary sometimes? I am glad I can call on the One who listens and is always there. Some days I just feel I need more quiet in my life to really focus on prayer and time with Him.

New York: In 9 days we’re travelling to New York for a family reunion and some time in the city. I’ve never been and am really excited to bring the kids and see everything. We have planned to ride on the Staten Island ferry, go on the subway, visit Times Square, Ground Zero, and Central Park. What great ideas do you have to share about going to New York? Sites to see with kids? Things to avoid? Hints, tips, tricks? Bring it on!

Giveaway: I’m really excited about a great giveaway I have coming up at the end of the week. It’s something unique, but something that I love and really think you’re going to like as well. I’ll be introducing you to a really special gal too. And I KNOW we can get more people to enter than those that entered the last giveaway. So once it’s up, pass it on to your friends, leve a comment – you never know – you could be the winner (although you probably are one who thinks you never win anything!). 🙂

Enjoy the first day of summer! We’re working hard on our summer lists and trying to keep the littles from being bored.