Category Archives: Living

Travel With Kids: Packing

travel with kids packing

Tomorrow my son and I leave on a jet plane to Boston, which means I’m in the midst of packing RIGHT NOW. So what better way to procrastinate than to write a post on the very subject? If you’re going to be flying with your young baby or child might I suggest my post about Flying With Kids, for your prep and enjoyment.

The Bag

duffleFirst things first, what are you going to put all this stuff into? I have a bag that I love. LOVE! It fits an insane amount of everything inside it for me and my son. It rolls, has backpack straps, has multiple pockets for stuffing odds and ends in, and is considered a duffle bag.

The difference is that it opens like a piece of regular luggage. Half is like traditional luggage and the other half is like a duffle. It’s this one from L.L.Bean. We got it online, on sale (because it was red) and with a gift certificate. I think we paid $90 for it. A steal! You don’t need to have a fancy bag, but if you’re in the market, I highly recommend this one.

Right now ours is packed with our portable booster seat, a training potty, our toiletries, a package of diapers, package of wipes, all our clothes, 5 picture books, baby monitor, Nook (sound machine for sleeping), my son’s sleep bag, our shoes, Bananagrams, and a 6″ bouncy ball. We’re going to Boston for a week in the springtime this trip, but this bag has also been on a 3 week stint around Spain, 3 weeks in Maui, multiple trips to and around California, a week during the spring in Maine, camping, and will be accompanying us to Alaska later this year. Big trips, small trips, one bag and a decent carry-on/backpack is all you need.

When putting everything in your bag, step away from the traditional method of folding and stacking. Use whatever Tetris skills you have to get your items to fit. Roll, fold, lay totally flat, turn things inside out and backwards. Stuff your socks and underwear in the small spaces between other items. Lay flat items under or between clothing and nestle breakables in the middle of everything. Make use of every pocket (interior and exterior) nook and cranny. If your bag has interior straps – use ’em. Cinch those bad boys down with all your might. All packed, our bag weighs about 45 lbs. That leaves 5 pounds to spare for the TSA’s 50 lbs weight limit. Boo-ya!

Consider This

luggageObviously the age of your child will determine a whole lot of what you decide to bring along, but there are a few things I think are universal when packing for (or maybe with?) children.

  • Make lists. Include everything you plan on bringing: clothes, medicines, toys, sound machines, baby monitors, tooth floss, etc. Check them over & over. Cross off items that are packed and at the end of the day, make a final list of small items like chargers, deodorant and computers. Anything that you don’t want left behind by accident.
  • Bring at least one outfit per day and 2 extras. It can seem like a lot, but unless you have access to a washing machine, it can save you time washing extras in the sink. I HIGHLY recommend staying in places where you can wash clothing (other peoples homes, laundromats  hotel laundering services, etc). It may take a couple hours of your vacation, but it will make everything that much nicer, I promise. I mean really, who doesn’t like clean underwear??
  • Limit toys to 2-3 small items that don’t make noise or have small removable pieces. We went on a trip for 3 weeks and I brought everything but the kitchen sink and regretted every moment of it. Not only did most of them NOT get played with, but we ended up having to ship most of them home in a boxes.
  • Books are good, but make sure they are ones your kids actually like. You can also take library books, but I wouldn’t mention that to the librarian.
  • If your kid is going to watch movies or use a digital device, get them their own headsets. Earbuds suck in general and a toddler won’t tolerate such ear abuse. We like these.
  • I’m a firm believer in kids carrying their own carry-ons, or at least dragging them behind them. Trunki’s are good for younger kids because they can drag them or ride on them.
  • A thin or inflatable pillow is nice for small people who may, or may not, nap on the plane/car/bus/train. Or maybe you just need to cushion their elbow from continually jabbing you in the thigh or stomach while they use you as their personal Barca Lounger?
  • Consider the length of your journey and pack appropriate snacks/food for travel times. It’ll always be healthier and cheaper this way. And bring your own empty water bottle to airports and fill them up at the drinking fountains past security.
  • If you’re bringing medicine: according to the TSA medicine is allowed in “reasonable quantities” in your carry on. For instance, my son is anaphylactic-ly allergic to cashews so we always carry an Epi-pen with us. On airplanes I carry Benedryl as well, which is 4oz. I always present it with any other liquids and it’s never been questioned. They might be put through some extra screening, but carry any important medications on you. If you’re concerned, bring a doctors note too. I also bring pain reliever in my carry on and check the rest.
  • Car seats shouldn’t cost a dime to check at the airport and will save you $$$ at your destination if you don’t want to rent one. It is standard for the larger car rental companies to rent child seats at a daily rate. You can call taxi’s or hire drivers that also have car seats available in most countries.
  • Umbrella strollers for those trips where there might be more walking than your wee one can handle. These can also be used at the airport and checked at the gate. You will have to run it through the security scanners first.
  • Bathing suit or cold weather gear, depending on destination.
  • Sunblock of choice.
  • Hat if appropriate.
  • Your portable booster seat, if you use one.
  • Any children’s soap, toothpaste, toothbrush or toiletries your kid might use.
  • IMPORTANT: if you’re flying make sure to bring your child’s passport or copy of their birth certificate no matter how old they are, 0-18.

The Fashionable Baby 1 month – 2 Years

I’m going to assume you have a good idea of what the climate is like wherever you’re travelling. Obviously pack accordingly for anytime you’ll spend outside and what makes you and your child comfortable. Here’s what I suggest, in general, when packing for children under two:


  • For travel dress baby in layers. Planes are either way too hot or way too cold. Be ready for both. Bring a change of clothes for baby and parent. Bring more than enough diapers and wipes and always bring a burp cloth or two.
  • Any sleep aids you use: baby bags or swaddling blankets, baby monitor, sound machine, any cuddly friend your baby sleeps with at home.
  • Breast pump, baggies, formula and bottles if necessary.
  • Diapers and wipes. Remember, there are probably store where you can purchase disposables once you reach your destination too.
  • Bibs. One per day and 1-2 extras.
  • Bathing suit or cold weather gear, depending on destination.
  • Sunblock of choice.
  • Hats if appropriate.
  • Umbrella stroller and/or baby carrier of choice.
  • Car seat, if not renting one at your location.
  • Passport or copy of birth certificate.
  • Any baby soap, toothpaste, toothbrush or toiletries your baby might use.
  • Baby carrier of choice. If you’re flying, you won’t be able to wear your baby in the carrier during take off and landing if your child is sitting in your lap. Don’t ask, it’s not allowed.
  • Water for nursing moms, formula for babies and any snacks or sippy cups for babies eating solid foods.

Movin’ and Groovin’ 2+ years

There will come a point when your child has a say in what they bring with them on trips, so I’m going with what I know here and will let you work it out with your child if you think they are ready to start making lists of their own.

If you have a delicate flower of a child who doesn’t get dirty and likes to wear pretty clothes, than pack those. If you have a rough and tumble little person who you know is going to make a wreck of whatever they wear, than pack enough to get you through your trip comfortably. Better yet, stay somewhere that you’ll have access to a laudramat and spend a couple hours doing laundry. It sounds like a chore, but it can significantly cut down the amount of stuff you’ll want to bring.

  • Any sleeping aids from the 0-2 list above that will help your toddler sleep as comfortably as possible.
  • If there isn’t a bed and your child is too big for a rental crib (like my huge child) I’ve packed an inflatable camping mattress and pump for some of our longer trips. It’s worth it if it means your child will sleep more, and if they are prone to rolling off the bed (just sayin’ it’s a reality in my house) it’s nice to have them closer to the ground.
  • Are you potty training (or something like it)? We have this portable potty at home and we bring it with us.
  • We tend to eat in a lot when we travel so we bring our portable booster seat. Obviously this and the potty are optional. If we didn’t bring these two items we could easily pack my husbands clothes in the same bag too.
  • Depending on where you’re travelling, bring the minimum amount of shoes and only ones you know your kid will wear.

The most important thing to bring with you on any vacation, which wil save you time and (most importantly) patience is…grandparents. If you can fit them into your luggage or even into the seat next to you, this will be the very best investment in travelling gear ever. EVER.

porter spain
Now go show your kids the world. They’re gonna love it!

This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday

Real Food Grocery Haul Week 2

grocery haul1Here’s week 2 Real Food Grocery Haul. I neglected to mention in the original post what my goal is. I hope to initially bring our $1200/month grocery budget down to $800/month.

grocery2 a
A shout out goes to Malheur River Meats, my favorite meat and egg farmers at the Boise Farmer’s Market.

grocery2 c

grocery2 b

grocery2 d

This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday

Real Food Grocery Haul – Week 1

grocery haul1

Back in the times of milk and honey, a few short months ago, I did all my grocery shopping at one place – our local co-op. It felt good to support a local business and I knew where everything was. It was also very convenient to do my shopping at one store. Turns out we were paying for that convenience – a lot!

We’re going to be sending P to a great preschool in the near future, and that also costs – a lot! We want to pay down our college bills which are – a lot! We would like to save up for a better house in a nicer location, which will inevitably cost – a lot!

Looking at our budget for the last 12 months, our food costs (groceries, coffee and eating out) ranked in 1st place for most money spent. We were spending ~$1200 per month for groceries. Thats a @#$% lot!

Yes, I’m commited to eating real food and as organically as possible and I belive in paying the farmer before paying to doctor, if you know what I mean. But seriously?! Too much for us to continue that way with the goals we have in mind.

So here’s what I’m doing to lower that bill

…but still eat real food and continue to feel good about the food I feed my family.

  • Let go of convenience and shop at 3 different locations for optimum choice and savings: Farmer’s Market, Winco and Whole Foods (they simply have a better selection than the co-op). I’ll reserve the co-op for hard to find spices in bulk.
  • Limit our organic produce to the dirty dozen and take care to wash the other produce thouroughly before comsumption.
  • Grow food in the garden – this has yet to be determined as a viable value. We’ll check back in the fall.
  • Start buying produce in bulk when it’s in season and canning what we use a lot of (read tomatoes).
  • Post weekly grocery haul and totals on this blog.

It’s about to get real folks!

I’m going to let you in on how much I spend for exactly what I get each week at the grocery store/market. This will hopefully give you a good idea about what a real food diet costs and help me figure out where I can save more $$$.

Here are my food priorities

  • Continue to get high quality pastured meat, fats, eggs and dairy (it’s worth the cost)
  • Shop the dirty dozen for organic and get commercial produce for everything else
  • Utilize the bulk section of each store
  • Limit coffee consumption to one serving per day, my usual is two.
  • Continue to work towards eating out less and eating in more.

This weeks haul looks like this

Farmer’s Market = $68
Winco = $49.26
Whole Foods = $88.01
Milk = $9


Just for reference, this is what our refrigerator looks like at the end of the week right before I go shopping. My pantry looks fuller, but is really just disorganized.
Farmer’s Market Haul = $68 I would love to say I buy all my produce locally, but the fact is it’s just too expensive. I do buy most of my meats, eggs and bread (home baking bread just took too much time) and a few summer veggies that are grown locally in a hot house and are therefore less expensive.
Winco Haul = $49.26 Not included are the toothpaste, floss and Q-tips.
Whole Foods Haul = $88.01 I think I’m going to start fermenting my own kefir.
Everything = $212.13 except the milk not pictured, purchased after the fact. This will last us though the week and a couple items: nuts, dressing, some meat, cereal will carry over.

This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Small Footprint Friday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Sunday School, Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday

Words For Friends – Wonder


I Wonder

I wonder why the grass is green,
And why the wind is never seen?

Who taught the birds to build a nest,
And told the tress to take a rest?

O, when the moon is not quite round,
Where can the missing bit be found?

Who lights the stars, when they blow out,
And makes the lightning flash about?

Who paints the rainbow in the sky,
And hangs the fluffy clouds so high?

Why is it now, do you suppose,
That Dad won’t tell me, if he knows?

~Jeannie Kirby

porter bridge


This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Small Footprint Family, Sunday School, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday

The Family Meal, Worth It?

family mealHave you read my post about how to ease your way into eating Real Foods? You should. If you’ve read it already than you know my #3 way of getting into real food is to make your own food at home, thereby having total control over the ingredients in your meals. Now that you’ve made all this amazing food, hopefully you’ve saved a few minutes to sit with your family and enjoy it.

Norman-Rockwell-ThanksgivingWhen I try and remember growing up what my family did for breakfast, I can only remember my own breakfasts, and occasionally my brother chowing down on a bowl of Rice Crispies. My mom made us breakfast, but I can’t say that I ever remember her eating, and I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t eat breakfast for many years. Lunch was usually at school, except for my senior year when my mom and I had amazing lunches of pizza or bagels at the beach. Dinner, however, was usually spent at the dinner table with the whole family.

simpson thanksgiving-meal-greeting-card


My dad usually cooked the meal, my brother and I set the table and cleared, and my parents cleaned the kitchen at the end of the day. I’m certain the memories that my brother and I have about these dinners differ, a lot. Dinner was a time for me to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. My brother was quieter, but I know he got a couple words in. I loved sitting with my family at dinner, even then. As it turns out, not only was it a good stage for me with a captive audience, but there were other benefits.

Eating around the family table takes place in only 50% of homes.

dinner set table 1Considering the powerful and positive outcomes for families, especially adolescents,  we’d be smart to carve out more time for eating together. Children in families who eat together experience:

  • Better grades
  • Healthier eating habits, including more appreciation of vegetables
  • Lower levels of obesity
  • An expanded food palate
  • Less depression and fewer eating disorders
  • Increased feelings that their parents are proud of them
  • Increased ability to resist the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
  • Lower stress levels

If you have the time, try and get your kids involved in the planning and preparation of a meal. It may make things more difficult, but kids who are involved in their own meals are more likely to eat the food. It’s also important that we teach our kids to listen to their bodies when eating.


Start 'em young!
Start ’em young!

Studies show that making your kid eat everything on their plate actually contributes to overeating and obesity. Take this time to teach them about portions. We can always go back for seconds and if we waste less food than there will be leftovers for tomorrow, therefore saving time and $$$.

A few things to consider when planning your family dinner:

dinner porter cooksIn order to achieve positive results you have to put down phones, tablets and other devices, and turn the TV off. Interaction with each other is the important part of eating together.

Now, not every family has someone who gets to stay home and prepare all the meals. This can make it that much harder to get a healthy meal on the table for everyone to share. The importance of meal planning is imperative.

  • Search the web for ideas on how to make a bunch of food at once and freeze it for week nights
  • Eat leftovers
  • Take turns in the kitchen
  • Maybe you have to let an after-school activity go
  • When you do eat out, get it to go and eat at home
  • Start with a couple nights a week and work up to 4-7

Will it take extra work?

Added bonus, if your child eats a the family table regularly, then eating out becomes a breeze.
Added bonus, if your child eats at the family table regularly, then eating out becomes a breeze.

Yes. Sometimes it’ll be a total pain in the butt and seem like more work than it’s worth. Some days you will order a pizza. These are the moments when you have to really consider the priorities you’ve set for your family. Your persistence WILL pay off. I promise (if you leave the serious discussions, devices, and expectations aside) you’ll create a stronger and healthier family.

Sources 1,2,3,4,5

dinner friends
Dinner with friends – everyone gets to feel the love at this family table!


This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesday, Small Footprint Friday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday

Weekly Link Love

link love


In an effort to eat more fermented foods, I started a ginger bug this week. This led me to what is now sitting on my counter – Strawberry Soda!

I don’t have any issues with deer eating my garden plants, but I know of plenty of people who do. Maybe this post on how to deer proof a garden will help.

Know Your Ingredients

High protein, low glycemic load food – it’s the longest living fad diet at millions of years old.

This article came out about Guar Gum and, although I’ve noticed it on ingredient lists beore, I passed on reading the article at the time. Then I went grocery shopping yesterday, and in finding a coconut milk with the least ingredients the only one I could settle on had 1 extra – guar gum. So I of course had to read the piece and pass it onto you.

Oh sweet bitter coffee. It’s the one special beverage that holds a place in my day, which I truly look forward too. And why is that? Well, the half and half has a lot to do with it, but I’m pretty sure the caffeine does too.

Get Dirty

My dad is a green thumb, and one of the few people I know who can yield a bumper crop of sun loving tomatoes just a few feet from the ocean, in the foggy coastal summer weather of California. Last week he planted his tomatoes, and my mom was shocked because he was planting them on the full moon. Here’s why she took note of the lunar calendar for this event. Who knew?!


I’m doing this decluttering with Porter, but I’m not waiting for his ability to count to 20. I’m going for 10!

Because It Feels Good

My parents swear up and down that they weren’t hippies. I’m sure that in 60’s-70’s they had a clearer vision of who hippies actually were. Unfortunately for them, I think that cultural vision has blurred over the decades. Lucky for us, we can all have a good laugh at the bits and pieces of the “alternative culture” (is that a better description?) that did indeed influence some of my childhood. Were your parents hippies?

Earlier this week I wrote an article about using play as exercise. This guy has the balance of a teenage circus performer – he’s 70 – and guess what he uses to keep his mind sharp, his body strong, and his mood positive? You’re right, he plays!

Revolutionary Exercise, So Easy A Kid Can Do It

play at beach

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

In an effort to get healthier and lose 100 pounds I’ve been doing a lot of things differently. Along with eating Real Food, cutting out refined foods and a whole lot of grains, I’ve been “working out” more. This time around, though, I’m trying a different method of exercise. It’s pretty revolutionary – I’m playing around. Literally. If I don’t like an exercise, or I get tired of doing something, I just stop doing it and find something more enjoyable. If what I’m doing doesn’t feel like playing I’ll find something else that does.

What You Play Can Change Whenever You Feel Like It

For months I’ve been doing yoga, and before that water aerobics, but lately it hasn’t been fulfilling my need to play. Maybe because it happens in a dimly lit room, and after the winter my body is aching to be outside in the sun. Being stuck in a rut is poor play ethic.

Riding bikes and working in the garden are much more appealing to me right now. Pulling weeds and mixing soil are deposits in my play bank of exercise these days. Dancing ALWAYS feels like playing, so no matter what I make it a priority to attend my Tuesday night dance parties at the gym.

Here are some other reasons we should be playing more:

  • People are more productive at work and get better sleep
  • It can be done anywhere and has no limitations or structure, the sky’s the limit
  • Playing develops stronger bonds with friends and creates community
  • Reduces stress, which makes a healthier immune system
  • Lowers blood pressure – more than regular exercise
  • When you do something you truly enjoy, you’re more likely to do it again (sources 1,2)

What a boon to my own health journey the idea of playing has been!

play slideAll of a sudden, the time I spend in the garden, or sliding down the slide and subsequent climbing up the ladders (which I did at least 7 times today, without my son), hanging on the monkey bars, taking P on walks around the neighbor hood or to the playground – they all become health inducing. Simply by making an effort to play at the playground, which looks a lot like following my kid around with enthusiasm, I’m burning more calories and getting stronger.

Everyone Plays Differently

That’s the benefit of play, anything goes! If weight lifting and running marathons is what floats your boat than do those things. If you’d rather hike with your dog, work at a farm, regain the ability to go across monkey bars, build a table, run with a kite, or roll down grassy hills – DO THAT! You instinctively know what’s good for you, because it makes you feel good to do it.

Last night we went to watch my husands softball game at the park. It was intensely gratifying to watch an organized sport. I can’t stand baseball on TV, but in live and living color it becomes exciting and community building for those playing and those of us who cheered in the stands.

4797975454_d01c14401fWe got to play catch with my son, run around, and teach him about sportsmanship. Through the eyes of a 2 year old, hitting a ball with a bat and catching it with a glove made his dad, and all “the guys” into real life heros. The best way to have healthy kids is to set good examples, right? So why not show them that playing around is healthy and feels good to everyone.

Participating in team sports (in both children and adults) has proven to be:

  • Good for mental health
  • Learning to overcome loss and to be a good winner translates into improved personal relationships
  • Promotes gratitude for others (teammates) which in turn strengthens bonds and gives you opportunity to practice positivity. Being positive always trumps being negative. The more you practice positivity the easier it gets to see the positive in everything.(source)
  • You have the added benefit of running, jumping, swinging and moving your body

So there it is. Playing isn’t just for kids, but do they make great playmates. If you’re using your body, enjoying the activities you are able to do and being aware of how great they make you feel, then that’s all you need.  It may seem unrealistic and strange, but I promise that when you get your mind wrapped around it, exercising can be playing and playing can be exercise. Now log off and go play.

This post featured on: Small Footprint Friday, Family Table Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday

Words For Friends – Earth


Planet Earth, my home, my place
A capricious anomaly in the sea of space

Planet Earth are you just
Floating by, a cloud of dust
A minor globe, about to bust
A piece of metal bound to rust
A speck of matter in a mindless void
A lonely spaceship, a large asteroid

Cold as a rock without a hue
Held together with a bit of glue
Something tells me this isn’t true
You are my sweetheart, soft and blue

Do you care, have you a part
In the deepest emotions of my own heart
Tender with breezes caressing and whole
Alive with music, haunting my soul.

In my veins I’ve felt the mystery
Of corridors of time, books of hisotry
Life songs of ages throbbing in my blood
Have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood

Your misty clouds, your electric storm
Were turbulent tempests in my own form
I’ve licked the salt, the bitter, the sweet
Of every encounter, of passion, of heat

Your riotous color, your fragrance, your taste
Have thrilled my senses beyond all haste
In your beuaty, I’ve known the how
Of timeless bliss, this moment of now

Planet Earth, are you just
Floating by, a cloud of dust
A minor globe, about to bust
A piece of metal bound to rust
A speck of matter in a mindless void
A lonely spaceship, a large asteroid

Cold as a rock without a hue
Held together with a bit of glue
Something tells me this isn’t true
You are my sweetheart, gentle and blue

Do you care, have you a part
In the deepest emotions of my own heart
Tender with breezes caressing and whole
Alive with music, haunting my soul.

Planet Earth, gentle and blue
With all my heart, I love you.
~Michael Jackson


This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday, Family Table Tuesday