Friday, December 31, 2010

These are a few of my favorite apps . . .

Sing with me! "When the dog bites, there's an app for that! When the bee stings, there's an app for that, too!"

Hey, it's a modern-day interpretation.

Finally getting around to doing a blog post of my favorite/most useful apps. As always, it'll take me a while, because I have to get it just so. But I'm a little under the weather today, so I think it's a good use of sitting-on-the-couch time.


Olive Tree BibleReader: I have had an electronic Bible since I got my first PalmPilot almost eight years ago. It makes so much sense for a mom with little kids (one less thing to carry on Sunday morning), and it makes it easy to copy whole sections of Scripture into my notes (on the same device). Plus, I can easily carry multiple versions. The thing that endears Olive Tree to me even more is their Bible Reading programs. A built-in feature allows you to choose to read the Bible chronologically, from beginning to end or by the "M'Cheyne" plan. I chose the M'Cheyne plan. What? You don't know what the M'Cheyne plan is? Well, I confess, neither did I. It's a set of four readings a day that take you through the Old Testament in a year and the New Testament and Psalms twice each year (read about it here). What I like is that it's four small chunks, so, if you get interrupted (not that I ever do), you have a convenient stopping place. Plus, it better fits my attention span these days than long passages would. And Olive Tree feeds it to you one chunk at a time, takes you to the next passage as you finish one, and keeps track of it all for you. I'm actually finally going to read through the entire Bible in a year!

Awaken: I was happy with using the Clock app that came with my iPhone for an alarm clock. Until I had an infant sleeping in a hammock on the other side of my bedside table where my phone sat each night. I needed an app with a variable volume. ML found me Awaken. I have fallen in love (with the app; I was already in love with ML). I now go to sleep each night with my phone on Awaken (plugged in to charge), set to the old-timey flipclock setting that takes me back to my childhood alarm clock. It wakes me up by gradually increasing the brightness of the screen and gradually increasing the volume of a song of my choice. Ahh. (And we use the "sleep timer" function in our boys' room to let them fall asleep to music but not have it playing all night. It fades out after two hours.) Oh, and if you shake the phone while it's on clock mode in Awaken, it flips to a candle/lightbulb option, so you can see your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Handy. (I still use the Clock app as a timer for various things around the house, like Wii time. It's very useful for that.)

CalenGoo: We used to love iCal (which comes installed on the iPhone and we used for a long time on our computers), but it got too glitchy. Plus, we needed an app from which we could "invite" people to events, i.e. each other. Rather than sharing calendars, we prefer to send invites, so we see events as they're created (as opposed to just looking at the calendar and discovering you have dinner with someone that night). At the time, CalenGoo was the only Google calendar app with that function (there may be others now).

2Do: Again, we got this app so that we could send to-do items to each other. Recently, it seems to have lost that functionality, but I'm invested, and I like all the ways I can sub-organize things like shopping lists, etc. (and ML's moved on to a to-do app that works better for him, anyway).

AwesomeNote: Way better than the note app that comes on the phone. Much more subdivisable (my spell check says that's not a word, but *I* say it is). I synch AwesomeNote with Evernote on-line, so I have a back-up. Plus, that allows me to cut and paste things from my computer (like recipes and patterns) to Evernote and then synch AwesomeNote, so they appear on my phone. This is where I take sermon notes, keep birthday party plans, make notes as to what is to be included in my funeral and what possible names we've ever talked about for future children (or pets), etc. It's a large percentage of my brain. That and 2Do.

FemCal: I'm not going to go into much detail on this one. As my grandmother would say, it's a ladies app. Well, my grandmother wouldn't have said that exactly, but . . . feel free to research it, if you want. Suffice it to say, I use it daily.

VIP's (apps that I use often and/or are extra-specially-useful when I do):

YNAB: Standing for "You Need a Budget," this app synchs with a program ML uses to keep track of our finances. It's been great. And trust me, finances not being our strong suit, we've tried a lot of programs. I use the app to enter any cash transactions I make, so he sees them. And I can access our budget and see how much we have to spend in any given category. Yep, I always do that. Mm hm. Okay, so I'm working on using this one more (I'm not an outrageous spender, I just do better with limits, and I need to make more use of my access to those boundaries).

myLite: A free app that I use relatively often as a flashlight. 'Cause I don't have one of them fancy iPhone 4's with that thar built-in flash/flashlight opshun.

AllRecipes: Having used, I built up a stockpile of saved recipes in my "Recipe Box." This app allows me to access those and look for new ones (like Cheese Grits!). I don't use the main screen "Dinner Spinner" option, though.

Netflix: ML uses this one much more often than I do (watching something while doing a repetitive task like data entry), but I recently discovered the beauty of being able to let ZL watch a favorite show while I teach an after-school study session at the kids' school. Nice to have more choices than just what we own in iTunes.

SpellDown: You type in your kids' spelling words, it looks up a voice pronunciation on-line and quizzes your kids. While you drive them to school on the day of their spelling test. Or earlier in the week, even. A must for parents with more than one kid with a spelling list.

VerseByHeart: The only app I found that allows you to enter your own verses (as opposed to preloaded ones) and quizzes you (by having words missing or having you put the words in the right order). Many times, I've handed the phone to my kids in a store line (or, okay, in line to say their verses) to review what they're memorizing.

Mad Libs: Kind of expensive, as far as apps go (above and beyond the basic free one), but by far, the best $3.99 I've ever spent on an app. The kids spend hours playing it, and I even consider it educational, because they're reviewing parts of speech. Win/win. I'm just kicking myself for not knowing that there were new modules out that I could have given as stocking stuffers.

That's all she wrote, folks. What are some of your favorite apps? I'm always looking for new ones.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stateside '10 Playlist

Several friends living overseas have posted on FB wanting music recommendations, and I kept saying, "I should post my 'Stateside '10-'11' playlist, since it's made up of my favorite songs I've heard since we've been here, and they may not know about them." I kept saying that over and over again (to myself). And I finally got around to it.

1. Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly) - Sanctus Real: my theme song for the fall (it was rough); mentioned by a friend who had been through a "worst nightmare" (you know, the kind of thing that happens where people tell you it is their worst nightmare; okay, maybe you don't; it's an interesting phenomenon)
2. Healing is in Your Hands - Christy Nockels: a healing song I didn't have! I couldn't believe it until I looked at the copyright date and realized it was brand new; that explains it
3. Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) - Chris Rice: a new classic; I hate it when people call things that, but it is what it is; it feels old; in a good way
4. Our God - Chris Tomlin: packed with truth
5. Bring the Rain - MercyMe: I know, this one isn't new, but I bought it when it first came out but forgot to put it in a list, so I didn't listen to it; something reminded me of it the other day, and I decided to put it here; it's my list; I can do that
6. Rise Up - David Crowder: the new fight song David Crowder wrote for the Baylor football team; now there's something I can worship to; seriously, it has all sorts of applications, and I like to listen to it with various ones; including the football victory one
7. God of Our Yesterdays - Matt Redman: He was and He is and He is and He is to come; in a new(ish) worship song
8. Love Came Down - Brian Johnson: the greatest story ever told
9. Beautiful for Me - Nichole Nordeman: straight from a VeggieTale video (SweetPea Beauty), plain and simple; love the message
10. Give Me Jesus - Fernando Ortega: a beautiful rendition of an old song
11. Forever Reign - Hillsong Live: pure worship
12. Restoration - David Brymer: one of His greatest gifts to us
13. Better Than a Hallelujah - Amy Grant: heard it at the kids' school during a Zumba demonstration; yes, I did; I like the message, even thought I'm not super wild about the artist
14. A Little Longer - Brian and Jenn Johnson: a beautiful song about striving; or not, rather

Caveat: I know some of this is not cutting edge (aka, it's been around a while), but I have not necessarily been in the right places to have heard it, so it's new to me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

70's Playlist

Don't know why, but this one is a little slim*. Maybe because some of the classics are in the Folk Playlist. Suggestions are welcome, though.

*It grew when I found my to-be-purchased list on my phone. :-)

From the 70's:

1. We Will Rock You - Queen: self-explanatory
2. Joy to the World - Three Dog Night: grew up hearing it and, of course, had to purchase it with the birth of our youngest son, Jeremiah
3. American Pie - Don McClean: most recently brought to mind via the Weird Al "Star Wars" version
4. We Are the Champions - Queen: actually, most makes me think of high school football games

- Up Around the Bend - Credence Clearwater: this one must have been in a TV show we watched recently; don't know what else would have brought it to mind, but I'm pretty sure we had the record
- Ramblin' Man - The Allman Brothers: again, there was a record
- The Joker - The Steve Miller Band: "
- Dueling Banjos - Arthur Smith
- Stayin' Alive - Bee Gees
- Lookin' Out My Backdoor - Credence Clearwater Revival
- Walk this Way - Aerosmith: Nobel's darkroom
- Sunshine on My Shoulders - John Denver

60's Playlist

On to the 60's . . .

1. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows - Lesley Gore: courtesy of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, of course
2. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens: vague memories of a group of guys singing this at Talent Show at Centrifuge
3. Tell Him - The Exciters
4. Hit the Road Jack - Ray Charles
5. Wild Thing - The Troggs
6. Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers: pretty sure we had a record with this on it
7. Born to be Wild - Steppenwolf
8. Da Doo Ron Ron - The Crystals
9. The Twist - Chubby Checker
10. Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett: ironically, I'm pretty sure I heard this for the first time at my brother's wedding reception 4 years ago; it's a signature song of a family friend's, and he always sings it at wedding receptions, etc., so that was my introduction

Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra
Georgia on My Mind - Ray Charles
Space Oddity - David Bowie: 'cause it's just so representative of the era

50's Playlist

While I'm at it, I thought I'd post my other Decade playlists. As usual, I researched and tried to buy the "classic" version of the song. Occasionally, there was not a good recording available or I firmly new it by another artist, so I compromised.

A tribute to the 50's:

1. Lollipop - The Chordettes: Resurrected recently by the movie Planet 51
2. La Bamba - Ritchie Valens: Associated with its resurgence my 8th/9th grade years, due to a movie.
3. All Shook Up - Elvis Presley
4. Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
5. Tequila - The Champs: Again with a movie. Can't remember which one, though.
6. Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis: And yet another movie.
7. The Book of Love - The Monotones
8. Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day
9. The Elements - Robin Ray: NCIS episode, something to do with Abby, of course
10. Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley
11. Lollipop - Sophie Green: Actually from Planet 51

And on my to-be-purchased list:
Chantilly Lace - Big Bopper
Love Me Tender - Elvis
Mambo Italiano - Rosemary Clooney
Earth Angel - The Penguins: Karate Kid, I'm pretty sure
A Teenager in Love - Dion & the Belmonts

80's Playlist

Had a request from a friend (addressed to the "Playlist Queen") for some suggestions for a dance party she's having, all young ladies our age, so 80's music was prioritized. Much to my horror, I discovered I'd never posted my 80's playlist. So, to rectify that . . .

1. Axel F - Harold Faltermeyer (Totally 80's for Kids version; sorry, it was the best I could do): most memorable as what everyone learned to play on the keyboard when they first became popular
2. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
3. Take Me On - A-Ha
4. Angel - Aerosmith
5. Just Called to Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder: my ringtone for ML right now
6. Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
7. We Are the World - U.S.A for Africa: I had the tape. Yes, I did.
8. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper: I remember this one from our sabbatical to Oxford when I was in the 3rd grade. Must have just become popular (there) at about that time.
9. Don't Worry Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
10. Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi: Band bus. Totally.
11. Shout - Tears for Fears: Band bus, again.
12. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
13. Axel F - Crazy Frog: I'd never heard of it, until I went looking for the classic version. The kids liked it, so I got it, too.

- I've Got a Rock 'N Roll Heart - Eric Clapton: Yes, I fell prey to the T-mobile commercial, I admit it.
- Dude (Looks Like a Lady) - Aerosmith
- Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making the Skies Friendly

I went to link a friend to a blog post I'd done on entertaining children on long flights, and discovered I'd never posted it. I've had this list forever and would have thought it would have been one of the first things I put on the blog. Guess not. It's definitely worth reading through, even if you rarely fly but drive places with kids (which is what my friend is doing), since many ideas apply across the board.

Each of these paragraphs is a set of suggestions from a different mom who has traveled internationally with children. Well, in some instances, adjoining paragraphs may be by the same mom. I wasn’t very good at documenting when I first started compiling this document. And only several pages into it did I start attributing the ideas. I’ve offered several times on the message board where these where gleaned for people to come forward and claim their ideas, if they want to, so I don’t think anyone’s too offended at not being given credit.

Some of the ideas are age-specific, but you can extrapolate ideas, if your children are not those ages.

You’ll notice that some ideas contradict others (i.e. each child has his/her own bag/backpack vs. Mom has everything in her bag). Different things work for different families, so I, knowing this, left in even contradictory advice. Find what works for yours. Good luck!

When we go, I make sure we have plenty of snacks, so that no one is hungry if the plane food is really bad. I usually have cheese, carrot sticks, apples, crackers or rice cakes, pepperoni, and some treats (candy, mints, cookies). I grab barf bags and paper towels as soon as we get on the plane, for trash bags and spills, respectively.

We have each child take a backpack. In the pack, there will be some new markers, coloring book, new book, CD player, audio book, and probably some treats (candy, cookies, chewing gum) that they can consume at will . I usually take the children to a toy/book shop and let them choose a new toy/book that will be in the pack and unopened when we depart.

I usually take a big tote bag as my carry on. It includes books to read aloud. When my children had "lovey" blankets, I always carried the blankets to prevent their being lost. I always take at least a clean shirt for each child (or sippy cups) since we seem to always spill drinks on ourselves when traveling. When my children were younger (my youngest is 7 years old now), I took a full changes of clothes. The worst trip we had a dc threw up in my lap, but I've also traveled soaking wet from a soda can spilled in my lap just after take-off and boy was I cold the whole way home! Oh yeah, grab blankets as soon as you get on the plane. Our 9-year-old daughter likes to sleep flat on the plane floor, so we put one under her and another over her.

The last few times we've flown, the airplane had a TV screen in every single seat back. There were movies, games to play, and other electronic stuff for dc to do. I wasn't able to figure out how to block any of the movies (adult things and Scooby Doo) or to prevent dc from turning the TV on, but there were some okay movies too, like Finding Nemo. The movies can fill a lot of time.

I also try to have a couple of new things for each kid that they don't even know about to pull out at a desperate moment. If you are traveling over night at their age they may sleep quite a bit. Well, the younger one anyway. Our flight from Japan is around 16-18 hours depending on layovers. Last summer my 6-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son slept very little, but my 18-month-old slept a lot of the time. My children were very entertained by the personal movie screen, but that will depend on what things you let them watch and what happens to be offered at that time (if you even have the personal screens). I admit that my children watched a couple of cartoons that I normally wouldn't have let them watch (nothing majorly objectionable, but a few that I just wasn't that thrilled with). It's just such a long flight!

Ummm, drugs????

Don't forget that the flight attendants have trays of food out on the counter in their "kitchen" between meals for hungry/bored people to help themselves. We always encouraged our kids to take walks up and down the aisles and stop and be nosey with other travelers. Sometimes the older kids would be able to talk with other kids and trade games or even play a game together.

In 1985 we were on a C5 USAF cargo plane going to Guam to adopt Philip and 2 1/2 year old Brian was with us...we took all sorts of entertaining stuff...but alas, it was an 8-hour flight from Hawaii and no amount of marvels could possibly satisfy an active 2 year old...much to our dismay when we were disembarking, this "evil, insensitive man" handed me a letter he had penned in route saying with all sincerity and probably concern, that if we would read Dobson's books Dare to Discipline and The Strong-willed Child that we would have a child that would not cry and disturb other travelers. We laughed and cried and stewed and cut ourselves to shreds over that...for we had highlighted and underlined and read and reread those two books and thought we were following them to the letter! So what did I learn from that? Well, everyone's ideas of a well-behaved child is as different as fingerprints.

Another story you might find humorous that I read in Reader's Digest some years ago: A mother went to the doctor for medicine to "drug" her children during a lengthy flight and was given sedatives for them. She returned to the doctor after the trip and he asked her how her flight had been. She replied that it was wonderful. Her children were no trouble at all. She took all the meds herself and thoroughly enjoyed the flight!

Make sure the children are chewing gum or sucking on something when the plane takes off - that will help their little ears.

Take wet wipes, even if you don’t have a diaper-age child.

We always took coloring books/crayons/sticker books, etc. They are simple and kept our little ones entertained for quite some time. When we traveled this year our daughter had a goody bag in her seat when she arrived full of neat things the airline provided.

The drug suggestion actually reminded me of a funny story. My dad was in the Army and had to go ahead of us to Germany to get housing. My mom, brother and I were to follow. At that time my brother was 3 and VERY active. The doctor suggested my mom give my brother a Dramamine to help on the trip. The first day my brother took the medication and slept like a baby. The second day (the flight over the Atlantic) he spit it out several times until it dissolved to nothing. My poor mom had only brought the one with her so we were out of luck. Needless to say - the flight is still a very vivid memory even after 39 years if that tells you anything! The man sitting in front of my brother got so drunk!!

Blow up a balloon or two during layovers in airports - good for quiet soccer or 'volleyball', etc. Another hit is to blow up rubber gloves for funny balloons! Then just pop them and throw them away when it's time to board.

Call each airline (or have your travel agent do it) and request a "kids' meal" for each flight that serves a meal. It's always a way better meal...chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, yogurt, fruit, crackers and cheese, etc. And my children usually can't eat it all so I tuck some of it away for later in the flight.

Audiobooks! Or CD's, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you bring an inexhaustible supply of AA batteries so there are no accidental "cliffhangers"! Some that we always pull out on vacations and road trips are The Chronicles of Narnia episodes that Focus on the Family has put out, and also their Adventures in Odyssey episodes, which are available on tape/CD as well.

Ask the flight attendants for any "kid packs" they might have available. These have been life-savers on long trips when our dc were little and had gotten bored with all the stuff in their own backpacks. They are typically small handle-bags stuffed with anything from coloring books/crayons, to puzzle books, playing cards, kiddy-oriented flight magazines, etc.

Take full advantage of any pre-boarding help they can give you. Once, in St. Louis we were worried about making our connecting flight, and they let us off first, and had my stroller waiting, but they decided it would just be simpler to commandeer a cart. They loaded us up with all our gear and drove us to our gate of departure honking all the way, much to the delight of my then-3-year-old son!

If you do the balloon volleyball during a layover be sure not to bring the balloon onto the plane. The changes in air pressure will cause the balloon to pop mid-flight which in this day and age is disconcerting to all.

A few weeks before a trip I buy several inexpensive toys, (you know the ones: they're made in China and they break almost immediately - it's the one time I go for cheap not durable because I only care about amusing the little ones for a few hours) and I GIFT WRAP them and stuff them in their backpacks along with new pads of paper, some new pencils or crayons and some stickers. I gift wrap as much as I can. It takes them time to open the packages (and every minute counts for me) and it makes the toy seem more festive and wonderful than it really is. Then take a deep breath and go.

Our last flight we met a young woman traveling alone with her 10 month old. As we waited together for our strollers by the jetway she sighed and said "That was so much worse than I ever imagined!" My husband said later, "She must not have a very good imagination. I usually imagine being locked in a telephone booth for ten hours with a screaming infant and then whatever we experience has got to be better than that."

I agree with wrapping the gifts. But however, I add to that. When I start thinking about handing one out...I give a 10 or 15 minute warning. I will show them the gifts and say "let's have 15 minutes of good behavior please!" Then I get a quarter hour of excited but quiet little ones.

I take pajamas for overnight flights. I take the children to the rest room, they brush their teeth and go to the bathroom, we change into pjs, go back and set our seats back and they go to sleep as if for the night. No sleeping in clothes for the kiddoes. To maintain something of their bedtime routine, I think, helps them sleep so much better and longer. The last then 3 yr old and 5 yr old slept 8 1/2 hours!!!!

Don’t underestimate the value of a ladies magazine. Many more pages than a children's book and they aren't looking at the articles...they are looking at the colorful ads and the pictures...they enjoy a magazine for about 15 minutes when most children's books are read twice over in less than 5 minutes!!!!

My kids are happy with a bunch of happy meal type toys, or JUNK from the dollar store. I'd rather use cheap stuff and then throw them away or give them away when we are done. Anything new and different is entertaining.

I take maze and dot-to-dot books on trans pacific flights. I would buy brand new ones (Amazon has tons) just for the trip. There may be several available for free on the internet, too.

Sometimes having the kids backpacks be rolling ones can be nice. You have to weigh the advantage of rolling v. the extra weight those usually are.

I always pack a full-size carry-on suitcase as one of our carry-ons, usually mine. In it, I pack at least one change of clothes for _everyone_ (including adults; we've had too many throw-up/bad diaper experiences), more than one for potty-training age; a can of formula (which I use to refill the three-serving divider in the baby's bag), if one is in that age range; toiletries for my husband & myself (love to wash my face, brush my teeth, and re-do everything at the end of the long flight); all our meds (never say you'll never need that is my motto :-); etc. I usually put my own personal stuff in a smaller bag inside this suitcase and take it out to put under the seat in front of me (although I've discovered I need a _lot_ less to "entertain" myself when traveling with kids; our tradition is to buy a couple of magazines at the airport after check-in). On good flights, we barely touch most of this stuff, but it's all there in case we need it, which is better than the other way around. Plus, if our luggage happens to get lost or a flight gets delayed/cancelled, we have all the stuff we need for at least one night.

My husband’s sister and her husband came recently, and they did use "drugs" for their kids, Benadryl, specifically. He's a doctor and she's a nurse, so I figure they know what they're doing, lol. Actually, we're just lucky to get kids (so far) who have _very_ adjustable body clocks, so we haven't had to do that. One warning I've heard, though, is to make sure to try it out before the trip, if you don't know for sure how your kids react to that particular med, since it actually makes some kids hyper!

One other good idea my sister-in-law and brother-in-law had was to travel with phenagrin(sp?), an anti-vomiting/diarrhea medicine. It basically knocks the person out so they can sleep, but it would be a life-saver if someone got sick, and there's nothing you can do about it mid-trip but push through. It is prescription, though.

If you have an iPod or other MP3 player, you can get audio books to put on that, a little more convenient than CD's or tapes.

Last idea for now: for a 4-8yo, a Leapster is a GameBoy alternative that we've really been pleased with. Aside from being exclusively educational, it requires a skill level more appropriate for those ages (my oldest son could do some things on some games on his friend's GameBoy, but mostly, he just pushed buttons). My 3.5-year-old can do plenty on the Leapster, too, just on the games that are included originally. He's getting a LeapPad for his b-day in July, before our next big trip. My plan is to have at least one new game for each of them to pull out somewhere along the trip.

Depending on the timing, I might put the youngest in her jammies before we board, or we might have the dinner, head to the bathrooms where we get ready for bed and then back to our seats where we put the jammies on. We lay back the seat, plump up the pillows and blankets to make a little nest and then hope for the best!

We pray for upgrades to business class, but they rarely come through for us so as a friend told me, "it's one day out of your life and then it's over."

I just keep reminding myself that I can do anything for nineteen hours (or how ever long its gonna take)! Most of the time my kids do great, but if something is embarrassing (say a crying kid), I am reminded that I'll never see these people again and it is worth it to go through this for all the fun that we'll be having once we're there!

I did hear a tip on a radio travel show. They polled parents for the very best toy/item to keep young kids occupied for hours on a plane. The winning item was unexpected - a roll of scotch tape!!

Try to check in early to get good seats especially the ones near the toilets, but more importantly to make sure that you get to sit together with your children.

I also would just suggest being very careful with how much you carry on. Sometimes the amount you’re carrying can become more of a headache than the actual time on the plane.

If you’re traveling in the winter-time, a friend who came to visit us had a wonderful idea: she brought a large army-type laundry bag with her on the plane. It was canvas, so it folded down to practically nothing and could be stuck in the side pocket of a bag. Once on the plane, she put everyone’s coats (and any other warm accessories in the bag and stored it overhead. That way, they were all easy to find upon arrival. After she got here, she used it for transporting laundry.

Red River Mom:
Tip 1: Fleecy blankets can easily be vacuum packed and will take no space at all. Buy the space bags or just use regular trash bags, use your vacuum cleaner and then tape it up. We do this every time we travel distance. Clothes take up no room at all this way and allow more space for other things.

Tip 2: Check out luggage storage facilities at the airport where you are overnighting. Often you cannot check luggage all the way through if your layover is too long. So we pay and store it at the airport and don't have to deal with it again until the next day.

Tip 3: Be prepared to put your kids to work. 9 yo can easily take on a cart of luggage (esp. carry-ons) while you and your dh each pile 5 on the other 2 carts. Put 6 yo in charge of 3 yo. While we stand in line to check in, my kids can often be found at the nearest pole or wall, sitting together and playing their gameboys and guarding the carry-ons. I need them out of the way while we are wrestling with bags, if the check-in folks want to see them they are nearby and smile on demand. LOL

Tip 4: Don't make your kids carry-ons heavy. You will end up carrying them! My older ones know whatever they pack, they carry, but I still wean through their stuff before we fly... amazing what my 11 yo deems necessary to ahve with her on the plane as opposed to in the luggage.

Tip 5: Take some easy card games for in the airports. We usually head straight to the gate where we can grab a bit of floor space, sit on the floor, and play cards.

Tip 6: When reserving your seats, you can book three seats together and then leave the middle seat free between the other two. No one will take that seat unless the plane is completely full and you will end up with some extra space. If the plane is full and the seat is needed, trust me whoever is in it will gladly trade with you so they are not in the middle between two of your kids!

Tip 7: Reserve children's meals through your travel agent in advance. They are so much better than the regular fare and a better chance your kids will eat something.

Tip 8: Take on healthy snacks but don't force the kids to eat. Keep them available, but don't be surprised if they are just not hungry. Just make sure they stay hydrated and they will be fine.

Tip 9: Pack up some new things for the kids as a surprise for on the plane. Save them until you are desperate and then whip them out and you get Mommy-of-the-year points.

Tip 10: Keep in mind, at all times, that the process of overseas travel will end, you will get there, and, even though it may seem endless, above all - you will survive!

Tip 11: The kids attitudes and coping during travel will largely depend on you. Laugh at the problems, smile at the spilled juice, nod sweetly when dealing with long lines, longer security, and endless red tape. You show frustration and your kids will pick up on it and reflect it right back at you. Make it an adventure (even if you know it means you will be nominated for Best Actress), your kids will do better because of it.

Wow, that was a lot more than I planned to say... Take what is interesting or applicable and toss the rest. And, have a great trip!

Jackie in Oz
I have had one or the other of my children pulled aside for the more vigerous checks (never do understand why a 9 year old would be considered a threat . .) and I always insist I am present, even if the security guy has to wait a few minutes while I organise the rest of us. If I am pulled aside and if I am travelling with the kids alone, I insist they come along!

Lisa Marie
I always made sure I had healthy snacks, a change of clothes, some favorite read aloud books, small toys (possibly electronic games) and whatever they usually slept with (blanket, teddy bear) especially if it's a "long" flight--you want them to settle down and actually sleep at some time! When our boys were around 2 and 3 they REALLY loved listening to things like Adventure in Odyssey on tape. It would keep them occupied for hours depending on how many different stories you bring!
(Children's Tylenol and Band-Aids are good to bring too--I say this from experience!)

First...accept the tiny of bottle of wine they offer and drink it.

Two, at least 2 changes of clothes...cause the reality is..... I mean for the dc and at least a clean shirt for yourself MINIMUM.

Snacks... most littles don't like airplane food.

A surprise toy...but not one with a lot of little pieces!!

• magnetic puzzles
• a new colouring book
• blocks, doll or a new car... they have never seen and give it on the plane.
• Pack one cuddletoy in their they can sleep.

Juice boxes for take-off so they can suck on something as the plane ascends/descends

Some books to read to them
Finger puppets

Keep it simple...the airline should give them a toy pack
You don't want to be lugging a lot of extra weight when the dc are heavy enough and you are by yourself... I learned that the hard way!

A walkman cd or tape with books or music they like is also great.

Last time, I put things in regular business-sized envelopes, numbered them, and sealed them. I probably did 10 envelopes for each child, and we didn't even get to them all! And I did the "I need 15 minutes of quiet behavior before you get your next envelope"...worked really well.

The favorites were:
• a roll of scotch tape (my dc went nuts over this and played with it for the longest time...hands down, the all-time fave!)
• about 10 bandaids (for them to play with, put all over themselves, etc.)
• sheets of foil (my oldest two had a ball making foil sculptures)
• oh, and I also had some little bitty stuffed animals (someone gave me from a Happy Meal or something)...I put those in an envelope with a questionaire that my dc had to fill out with the pet's name, favorite food, tricks, etc....a ton of questions! And they had the best time "inventing" info about their pet. Then they played with their pets for a long time afterwards.

My other thing is that my dc always wear Crocs when we fly so I don't have to deal with socks or helping dc get their shoes on.

What I personally don't waste a lot of space on is snacks. I take a few things, but then just save left over granola bars, etc. from the kids' meals during the flight. (But my dc aren't picky eaters so that helps.) I also don't take a lot of books...simply because of weight and space. My dc do far better on flights with unusual, fairly interactive things. (If I do take a coloring book, it's one of those Color Wonder ones so I don't have to worry about the markers.)

Last year, I downloaded some stories (ours were Odyssey, but you could do anything age-appropriate) onto my iPod. My dc took turns listening to it. That obviously won't help with the littlest ones, but maybe the oldest would enjoy it, and it definitely takes very little space.

When my kids were little, I used to carry lots of wet wipes ,for the obvious clean up of sticky fingers, diapers, but ds used them to clean the seat, table, window, floor ,anything really...kept him happy for a LONG time.

I used to do small presents in wrapping rather than envelopes, but I like the envelope idea. Stickers, wet wipes (ds once spent the entire 1.5 hour train ride "washing" the train we were in....), notebooks for the stickers/drawing in, some crayons (although the plane might a small pack from a restaurant or similar doesn't take up much space), audio books especially if you have the book and individual backpacks for the kids to carry their junk in. Magazines/comics that they've chosen "for the journey" plus some snacks - then pack the bag the night before pushing how exciting it will be and how the day will go plus how we have to behave. I found a small "first adventure" type book and bought that ds read it over and over whilst on the plane at 28 months. hmm it is still in print:

We like to travel with small magnetic doodle boards (not the ones that make lots of noise when erasing). My girls love to draw and this way I don't have to worry about lots of paper or crayons that will get lost.

Word to the wise - the sound of fifty crayons hitting the floor and distributing themselves in random places around the plane is not a happy one.

Hmmm - wonder if it's anything like the noise fifty-squillion bionicle pieces make when they hit the floor and roll chaotically around whilst wails of anguish are heard from a certain seat?????

There's an advert here that made me laugh, the Mom is booking seats and the assistant says, "Oh we can only sit three of you together". They get on the plane she seats the dad and two small children and then wanders up the plane to the other end to her own seat..... Would never happen in real life but perhaps a fantasy

Angle Bagsh
one thing I would request is the bulkhead seats, it's no fun taking care of little ones when the seat in front of you is in your lap!

My secret weapon was Ring Pops. You can't whine or cry while sucking a Ring Pop, and they last long enough to get you distracted!

Pull Ups for any kids with any chance of potty accidents, even if just while sleeping. I had one who was potty trained but fell asleep and wet the plane seat- that was the biggest pain of the whole trip.

Another big hit was one of those square pads of multicolored post it notes- the kids loved writing on those and sticking them all over the place. Mini magnadoodles- the pen is attached and you can't drop it! Etch a Sketch. Avoid, as others have said, anything with little pieces that can be dropped.

Wipes and post-its go right along with my theory that anything that you would normally say "no" to around the house...okay, maybe it's just my house. LOL! Wipes, post-its, bandaids, scotch tape, reinforcement stickers,...those are forbidden treasures.

And ring pops...that's genius! Plus you've got plenty of wipes for clean up!

Jennifer in AZ
Remember that you don't want toys that make noise-even toys that seem quiet at home are very loud on a plane!

That said, my dd loves her leapster and you can either turn the sound off or use headphones w/ it.

Crayola Modeling Material: My 5 and 3 year old played with this for over an hour on the plane. It's got a different feel than playdough. It is not messy and it's light. Store it in a ziploc bag.

Jennifer in AZ
If you have a lay-over, have the little darlings run around. If you can find an unused gate they can play tag or something. My dc liked to play a game they made up called "Naughty Noo-Noo". If you have seen teletubbies, it's that Noo-Noo. Anyway, they would march around the seats/bench and then whenever someone yelled "Naughty Noo-Noo" they had to run until they were laughing too hard to continue. Silly kids! Then they would play again.

We tended to take too much and then you will have to carry it all because they are tired/grumpy and cant carry their own bags. This is an important point to mention to her. We have found that we don't take very much - colouring books, pens, soft toy (1) or small soft toys, a few little cars or other little toys they like, 1 or 2 small reading books, but often they don't use much of these things - and I know from experience we have travelled for sometimes 30 hours at a time when the kids were little.

Pick an airline that is good and check if it has individual TV screens - we love Emirates best - they give everything!!!

Hunca Munca
Before boarding each flight, we wrote each kids seat number on the back of their hands. Made making sure we were all in the right places SO much easier as we boarded.

laminated name tags: put laminated name tags inside pockets and remind the children never to take them out. if you can attach them to the garment by any means so much the better. the name tags should contain essential info, eg, their names, country of origin address, tel no including country code and area code, destination address and tel no again including country code and area code as well as health info, eg, allergies, etc.

about food. i never take any into the plane. they feed you anyway. what i do is feed them while waiting at the airport so i dont worry if they fall asleep during the flight, whether its long or short, etc... i usually bring the stuff they fail to eat that way i dont worry about where to get food and feeding them once we arrive at our destination. this also works when there's a connecting flight and a long wait in between.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Lists for a New (Temporary) Life

Way too much to catch everyone up on right now, but suffice it to say, we're spending the school year in the US. Suprise! To everyone! Including us!

Hopefully, I'll be able to come back later and explain all of that, but right now, I've had a couple of requests to look at the morning, after school and bedtime lists I have adapted for this season.

Oh, did I not mention that the kids are going to school? For the first time? Ever? Well, they are. And, consequently, we have had to learn a whole new system, including lunch boxes and homework and PTF committee meetings (okay, so those aren't on the lists, but . . . ).

To keep my sanity (you may laugh right now), I updated our old lists, and then revised and revised them. I'm sure they'll undergo continual revision, but these are relatively final, so I thought I'd go ahead and post them. (We aren't doing individual family responsibility [aka "chore"] lists right now, because we're just doing chores as we have time. [Read: Mommy and Daddy are doing most of the work])

Hope these are helpful in spurring ideas for other families:
- morning list
- after school list
- bedtime list

You'll notice that ZL now has his own lists. He loves them. Seriously, he thinks it's so cool that he has his own lists. And, no, he does not watch TV from the time he finishes his morning list until the Bigs get home from school (although "Nick, Jr. is like preschool on TV!" ). We pull the plug relatively quickly, but this gives me an opportunity to have an extended Quiet Time on occasion (although it is pretty surreal to be listening to worship music via earbuds and have Olivia playing on the TV in front of you).

(My apologies for the funky format of some of the lists. They get simplified when they're uploaded to Google Docs, and they lose all of their pretty colors, etc.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Trip in Status Updates

Last time I traveled to the States by myself (oh, did I mention that I traveled to the States by myself with all five kids last week?), I kept a running note on my Palm of texts I would have sent ML along the way, if I could have. I sent it to him (and to family members) in an e-mail after I arrived.

This time, I kept thinking of Facebook status updates I would have posted, so I jotted those down. And posted them one by one after I got here. It was my in-flight entertainment. Cause, you know, you can't just put the headphones on and watch the movie when you have to keep track of and take care of five kids.

For those more into blogging than Facebook and for posterity's sake, here is My Trip in Status Updates.

Needn't have worried about Z for takeoff. He's so fascinated that he's been sitting still with his hands folded in his lap, eyes wide, the whole time.

There's a ladies-only bathroom on this flight. Haven't seen that before.

Forget the safety info. How about a video on how to latch the bathroom door?

I'm paranoid. Every time I hear someone repeatedly pinging the flight attendant, I make sure Z is not touching the buttons.

Sitting MA next to JAK and I was a win. She's reveling in helping take are of him. And I'm reveling in it, as well.

Z's fascination with the airplane has worn off. I think we only have 12 1/2 hours of the 13 hour flight left.

I've got to make or buy some sort of pouch that will hold 6-7 passports and our residency cards. They kind of balk at the ziplock bag.

Apparently, only some airlines are worried enough about peanut allergies not to serve them anymore.

Mental note: put long pants on the baby, even if you are flying from the Middle East to Texas. It's a tad chilly on the plane.

Ah, a Friends episode. Just what I would have picked for the first in-flight option on a family-filled flight when everyone is still awake.

Advantage of the plane engine noise: it drowns out some of the noise from the children in front of us. Disadvantage: the parents feel like they need to yell at each other from two seats apart.

Oh, Karen Rumbaugh, I could just kiss you for introducing me to the AquaDoodle product line. Just on the cheeks, of course. But three times on the second side.

The lady in front of me apparently only brought enough formula powder for one bottle, so now she's asking the flight attendant for milk. Seriously? For a 13-hour flight?

Is it really necessary to have the kids' meals scalding hot? (I know, one warmer, probably, but maybe they could take them out ahead of time?)

Rather than bulkhead with a bassinet as I was told I had, I have one row behind bulkhead with a bassinet on the bulkhead row. JAK is napping in the bassinet while we eat, but when it's time for me to sleep, he'll have to go into the sling. There's no way to strap him into the bassinet, and I'm afraid he'd wake up and fall out.

The older four kids went to sleep remarkably well. After trying to figure out how to keep the headphones on Z, so he could watch something while he fell asleep, I gave up in frustration. He conked in about 30 seconds.

Jeremiah slept in the bassinet during dinner, which was great, because I had my hands free to eat and help the other kids. Not so great when he woke up and was raring to go just as it was time to sleep.

Jeremiah's been doing his army crawl, which he just started, across the seats in our row.

I think flight attendant pinging (repeatedly pushing the call button) is something akin to Chinese water torture. And I'm not even the flight attendant. Amy and Cindy, care to tell us how it feels?

The ladies-only restroom has gone the way of the dodo bird. It's first come, first serve now.

Spoke too soon. Z just hit the call button. :-/

Just got complimented on what great travellers the kids are. A. They really are. B. I'd be crazy to do this, if they weren't, and I told the guys so. And C. I don't think the contrast to the kids in front of us hurts.

Zachariah insisted on feeding me all of the M&M's out of his trail mix once he found out that I liked them. Love that kid. (Actually, he calls them M's, because that's what's written on them. There's no convincing him otherwise.)

Yeah, the bassinet in the row with the yelling kids is not really working out for me.

Requesting kids' meals, which come before the adult meals, so I can help them get set up and actually eat my meal when it comes = win.

Flight attendants should have a way to turn off the call button for a specific seat. Not arbitrarily, but some sort of three strikes, and you're out thing.

The flight attendants on this route should get combat pay. Or overtime. Or something.

I'm totally traveling by myself with five kids from here on out. I've been waved past two humungous lines, passport control and security.

Magdalyn's response when we came up to take the train from one terminal to the next in Chicago: "Oh look, Mommy!" It was grass.

I feel like I'm in the movie Airplane. We've changed gates three times so far.

It's so nice not to have to think through how to say something before I have to say it.

Make that four gate changes. All in the same terminal but back and forth between wings. Good news is that I've bonded with several fellow passengers as we've jogged along.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Buy a Used, Unlocked iPhone

After a couple of statuses (stati?) about how pleased I am with my (current) iPhone, I've gotten several questions about buying an unlocked phone to use overseas. As was my purpose with this blog in the first place, I'm going to park my answer here to link to in the future.

I am currently the (proud and not-so-proud) owner of two used, unlocked iPhones. So, I can tell you how to and how not to buy one.

How not to: look randomly for a used, "unlocked" phone on eBay, buy it, bring it to the country where you live and have a partially unlocked, partially functional phone/iPhone (mine never recognized wireless, which negates almost half the functionality of the iPhone and didn't wake up from sleep to ring, so you constantly had to check to see if you'd missed calls, if you wanted to put it to sleep to, say, put it in your pocket).

How to: Buy used from Gazelle on eBay. You can check them out at They buy used electronics from people, evaluate them, and turn around and sell them (they also do fundraisers where non-profits can collect used electronics from people and get paid for them, which I thought was cool). The advantage they have over buying used on eBay, in general, is that they have a consistent rating system, they deal in bulk, so they know how to evaluate the condition of the piece of equipment, and they detail the condition of the piece, i.e. where scratches are, etc. I like this, because you can decide that you don't mind scratches or an engraving on the back, for example, since they'd be covered by a case, but you don't want scratches on the screen. We've bought three 3rd gen iPods and two iPhones from them, so far, and been very pleased.

"Sunday School" overseas

The same friend as the previous post recently (no, really, it was recently this time) asked whether I had any suggestions for doing "Sunday School" with her daughter. Living overseas with no convenient access to an English-speaking church, you have to be creative about these things. Even when you have a group of ex-pat friends that you fellowship with (which we do), you've most likely got a wider age range than you're going to be dealing with in the average church children's program.

Here's the answer I gave my friend:

My suggestion for "Sunday School" activities is to pick a Bible story book and work your way through it (a story a week, one a day, a few a week, whatever works for you). In preparation for each story, google, for example, "Noah sunday school lesson," "Noah coloring pages," "Noah craft," etc. This will give you plenty of activities to choose from, from dress-up to paper crafts to songs. You can pick and choose what's at P's level (and what uses supplies you have access to/you can get people to mail you :-).

Some Bible story books we have (in no particular order):
- The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers (I notice this is a younger version of the Rhyme Bible Storybook. Haven't seen it, but it might be worth checking into.)
- The Picture Bible: particularly good for older children (and younger children who long to be/seem older :-); done in a "graphic novel"-type format (that's geek speak for "comic book," and it actually more accurately represents the book itself; it is not "childish" at all); very engaging
- My First Bible in Pictures: very simple (a few sentence each) stories with an easy question at the end; the first story Bible we used with MS and similar to one ML grew up with
- Read and Learn Bible: we haven't had this one long, and the illustrations aren't my favorite (a little too cartoonish), but it looks like a good option for an 2nd grade-ish level reader to read independently or to be read to a younger child
- The Early Reader's Bible: kind of like a study Bible for 1st graders; lots of questions and application scenarios; would also be perfect to read to older preschoolers/kindergarteners
- The Right Choices Bible: out of print, which is a shame, because it presents Bible stories in light of the (right or wrong) choices they make; would be worth looking for used
- Egermeier's Bible Story Book: one of the most in depth story Bibles you'll find; the stories are often several pages in length (small type) with detailed illustrations; good for reading aloud to a very interested K or 1st-grader or an older child; the read-alone level is probably 3rd grade or above
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: we don't actually have this book, a friend brought it with her when she moved here recently; it tells all of the stories of the Bible as they point to Jesus, and I'm very intrigued to check it out further
- One-Year Children's Bible: another that we don't have, but piqued my interest as I was searching for links for the others; we may have to get this one; because, obviously, our motto is "never can have too many story Bibles"

I also love using scripture songs for verse memorization. We like GodRocks! and Seeds Family Worship. I like to type up the verse and put pictures above major words (from Google images searches) to help with memorization (I repeat the pictures from verse to verse for the same concept). And we use sign language for major words when we're singing the songs. I have a bit of a background with sign language vocabulary, but a good online dictionary is really all you need (ASLUniversity and Michigan State's ASL Browser are the two that I use).

Now, this was written to someone just looking for something to use with a two-and-a-half-year-old, but it really can apply up through upper elementary age, at least. At that point, you can include children in your own gathering, start them on independent studies, etc.

Hopefully, this will spark some ideas for those living in similar circumstances.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Entertaining 2-year-olds (whether or not they're being angels)

A friend asked me recently (okay, back in February, but I've been meaning to post this since then) for some ideas for entertaining her 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Since most of our children have been or will be two, I thought this was a topic of possible general interest, so I thought I'd post my response here. This family lives in India, so my comments as to "available there" refer to that fact.

Ah, children's toys/activities. How did you know my weakness? We've never had "bristle blocks," "waffle blocks," or "tinker toys," but just about everything else non-electronic . . .

I don't know what all you would have access to there, but I'll list several things, and hopefully, you'll hit the jackpot on some. Or something will look promising enough to be worth the time to make, if that's an option.

- lacing cards (threading a shoelace through holes around the edge of a shape; could be made, if necessary)
- Duplos/MegaBlocks (large/extra-large legos)
- cardboard bricks (these come flat and then you assemble them, so it's possible to bring them over in a suitcase/trunk)
- instruments, like shakers, cymbals, drum, etc. (although, then, you have to deal with the noise :-)
- dollhouse (Melissa & Doug makes a folding one that is relatively compact, but you could probably find something locally or make something out of cardboard boxes)
- dolls & doll stroller, plus doll blankets, doll bed, etc.
- dress up clothes (if you have a used clothing bazaar, this is good for stocking up; also, buy scarves, etc., locally; they're great for dress-up, plus it ties the kids into the culture)
- wooden puzzles
- Mr. Potato Head
- magnetic playsets (search for "magnetic playset" on; they're backgrounds with figures to play with on them; also great for travel)
- play food and dishes
- wooden blocks
- books (if you can, train her to look at them by herself, especially ones she's been read enough to know the story line)

For an electronic options, iTunes has a great selection of PBS shows. At that age, Little Einsteins and Blue's Clues (okay, so that's Nick, Jr.) are good options. We tried to steer clear of Dora, with the goal of mastering Arabic before we added Spanish, but that's just a personal preference.

Similarly, and have some simple games that P might be ready to get started on, if you have a desktop computer you're willing to let her play on. Or if you want to attach a mouse to a laptop (that would work for some 2 1/2-yr-olds, for others, it would be a recipe for disaster :-).

If you have a video iPod, is building a collection of children's audible books that show the illustrations on the screen as the book is being played. Under "categories" at the bottom of the page, look at "with synchronized images." Kids books can be kind of short, but if you teach her to navigate the click wheel or she listens/watches nearby with you to help, it might buy you a decent chunk of time. (Man, I did *not* need to look at that site again. I'm a sucker for children's books and gadgets. This is the perfect marriage of the two. :-P)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Children's Songs

Went looking for "Wheels on the Bus" (one of Z's favorites) and, well, I stumbled upon this "little" list. Okay, so it was a tad comprehensive. I shelved it to the wish list until the kids' annual Christmas iTunes gift certificates came from Uncle Carter & Aunt Karen. Then, I spent Z's and JAK's on the essentials of the essentials. The following was the result. (I noted a few others, such as several songs from the Mary Poppins sound track, for future purchase. Shhh. Don't tell MA. Her birthday is this week. :-)

Chicken Dance - DJ's Choice
B-I-N-G-O - Larry Groce & the Disneyland Children's Sing-Along Chorus
ABC (The Alphabet Song) - Dora the Explorer
Are You Sleeping? - Twin Sisters
Rubber Duckie - Ernie
The Farmer in the Dell - Larry Groce
Hokey Pokey - Ultimate Party Mix
I've Been Working on the Railroad - Pete Seeger
Old MacDonald - Larry Groce
It's a Small World - Disney Studio Chorus
Itsy Bitsy Spider - Tom Gardner
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt - Larry Groce
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Elizabeth Mitchell
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes - VeggieTales
Pop! Goes the Weasel - Larry Groce
Row, Row, Row Your Boat - Elizabeth Mitchell
Shoo, Fly, Don't Bother Me - Larry Groce
This Old Man - Rob Newhouse
Wheels on the Bus - The Little Series
Skip to My Lou - Larry Groce
Where is Thumbkin? - David Jacobi
Linus & Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio

* Also of note is iTunes Essentials Children's Lullabies list. We have many of them, and it's enchanting.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mommy/Baby Hospital Lists

Quietly announcing that I'm going to try to post something to one of my three blogs each day in February. I figure that's a smoother attempt at getting back into blogging than to try to jump full force into one of them (or worse, all of them). We'll see how I do.

A friend here is due any day and has been packing (and re-packing) her hospital bags. I remembered that I had an ongoing list in my Palm software, so I looked it up and sent it to her. Thought it would be good to post here among all of my other lists.

the "adult" bag (myself and dh)
coffee (for ML & prepared for me)
hair towel
towel obviously from a previous pregnancy, since the current hospital provides these
house shoes
socks: both
Tucks medicated haven't needed these since my first, but I guess I never took them off
underwear: both
make up
wash cloth
hair gel (ML)
pajamas: both
clean clothes: ML because we got there without any for him one time; oops
khaki pants a trusty pair of "transitional size" pants
water bottles: sm 1/2 froz, lg froz again, the more recent hospital provides cold water
kids' books for when they visit the hospital
phone charger think we forgot this one time, too
blood work
admission papers
bananas/dried apricots

the baby's bag (aka everything else)
candy to give out at the hospital, a cultural tradition
under shirts
changing pad
alcohol pads
baby blanket