In the House

7 Tips for Taking a Trip with Kids

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We have four kids between the ages of 12 and 2 and so packing for a vacation, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a weeklong spring break trip, can be a challenge. None of my kids are old enough or responsible enough to actually pack for themselves and let’s face it even if they were, I’m too much of a micromanager to actually let them. I’ve tried plenty of different ways to pack and after numerous trips and fails, what I have come up with is this list of the five tips for packing with kids.

  1. Use Zip Lock Gallon Bags: Count out how many outfits you think you will need for each kid. Then write their name on as many gallon zip lock bags. Put the entire outfit in the bag: shorts, top, underwear, socks, the whole thing. Use a bag for swim suits and towels as well, because each kid needs their own. Even PJs can go in a bag. Then, put all the Zip Lock bags into one suit case (yes, I can fit a week’s worth of clothes for four kids into one bag). This little prep tip saves hours when on vacation. No more finding matching outfits, trying to figure out what is clean, finding underwear and socks that were packed separately. It’s all done. Each kid pulls out a bag and gets dressed- easy-peasy. At the end of the trip, I bring the bags home, store them in an empty suit case and use them again for the next trip. IMG_3030
  2. Pack Garbage Bags: If you don’t plan on doing laundry when on vacation pack a garbage bag for each kid. They can use this bag for dirty laundry. Once clothing is dirty they stuff it in the bag and when you get home you have all the dirty laundry in one place and not mixed in with clothes that have not been worn. You can also stuff wet suits in these bags to keep them from getting other items wet.
  3. Use Amazon: Don’t bother packing your kids’ favorite foods, instead have them shipped. Whether you are staying at a resort, a rental, a hotel, or your in-laws, order what you need on Amazon and have it shipped there. The same goes for diapers, wipes, and really anything that you’ll need for your trip. Pack a few to get to there and have the rest shipped. You will have less packing to do ahead of time and you won’t have to worry about finding a store (and all your kids’ favorite items) once you get to your destination.
  4. Electronics Bags: With four kids, each one has a device, headphones, and a charger to keep them entertained while traveling. Add to that my stuff and my husband’s and we have a lot to keep track of. So, I have one bag to keep everyone’s electronics in so that we always know where everything is. Inside that bag I have other smaller bags ( I reuse Ipsy bags for these- see post here) so that each person’s device and accessories can be kept separate and we don’t end up with a mess of tangles wires. In the car, they must all put their devices (and accessories) in the bag before we get out so that nothing gets trampled and so we don’t lose anything in the shuffle. In the airport, this is even more important, so that only one adult has to deal with unloading all the electronics as we maneuver our way through security. Once on the plane it is also easier to dole out and collect the devices if we are organized.img_1222
  5. Back up Chargers: We carry back up chargers for every device. Seriously, there is nothing worse than having a toddler on a plane, settled in watching their favorite movie and their iPad dies. You can get cheap back up chargers at the Dollar spot at Target or you can get heavy duty ones at Home Depot. Either way, charge them up and don’t leave home without them. IMG_3319
  6. Baby Wipes: Baby wipes are not just for babies. Although we have been traveling for the last four years with someone in diapers, we have used the baby wipes much more frequently on everyone else. They clean everything! Hand sanitizers can smell, spill and some won’t make it through airport security. baby wipes
  7. All Wheel Suitcases: Make sure when you are traveling with kids that your suit case can move in all directions. You will inevitably have to chance your kids down as they take off in different directions and if your suit case can’t move with you, you will lose either the kid or the case. So test your case out and make sure it can move it in all directions, if you can’t spend the money and buy a new one.

Give Stitch Fix A Try

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You’ll never know what’s inside if you don’t try it!

If you have ever wanted to try Stitch Fix now is the time. Until January 31 you can waive the $20 styling fee and if you use your American Express you can earn a statement credit! 

Here is how Stitch Fix works: you fill out an online survey of your preferences, personal style and budget, then your stylist puts together five items to ship to you every month. These items can include shoes, pants, dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and accessories, plus a styling guide on how to pair them with other items in your closet. You can also link your social media- I share my Pinterest account- so that your stylist has even more insight into your style. You pay the styling fee, which is deducted if you purchase anything from your box and then pay for the items you keep. If you purchase everything in your box you get a 25% discount too. All shipping and returns are free. You get a new Stitch Fix every month, but you can skip a month if you need/want too. You can also make special requests. 

I have been impressed from the start. My very first box had a pair of pants that fit me like a glove- I wear them all the time. I just could not believe they matched me with a pair of pants that fit in the waist, hips and were the perfect length- that would have taken me hours in the store. I’ve also got cute tops that I never would have even looked at in the store. Recently they sent me a pencil skirt and a dress that are simply perfection! When you get items you aren’t interested in, you just let your stylist know. I only wear jewelry that my husband buys me, so I just told my stylist and now I don’t get those accessories anymore. Now, Stitch Fix can be a little pricey, so you do have to consider if that’s worth it to you. For me, the nearest mall with a department store is two hours away, so it is totally worth my time and money to have such high quality, stylish and perfectly fitting clothes delivered right to my doorstep.

If you love Stitch Fix as much as I do, you can refer your friends and earn discounts on your next fix! So go ahead give it a try: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/14799929?sod=w&som=c

 

Why I love Ipsy Glam Bags

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The Ipsy Glam Bag is one of my favorite things. Each month I look forward to the beauty surprises I find inside. First of all, your package comes in a hot pink, bubble wrapped envelope- how exciting! The Ipsy Glam Bag itself consists of five products personalized for you. The products can range from hair care, makeup, brushes, tweezers, and skin care. According to the good people at Ipsy, “the point is you’re free to try new things and express who you are.” And that is one of the reasons I really love it. Some of these products I wouldn’t buy just to try out, but this way I can experiment with colors, styles and tools, without the cost. Plus, the products are picked based on my profile and delivered right to me! The Ipsy mission is to make “beauty more accessible, rewarding, and liberating than ever before,“ and it truly is with this monthly package. My little girls are already conditioned to know that when that hot pink envelope arrives it’s “new makeup time!” I am just as excited to see what’s inside and I have never been disappointed. In fact, I have ordered more of some of the eye care products that I’ve loved using. When you order products, you get them at a discounted price and you earn points for more free items. You can also earn points for referring friends. At $10 a month it is totally worth it!

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Some of my Glam Bags

 

SWAGGING

I have admitted I have a shopping problem. I will blame my mom for the fact that when I am confused or frustrated or upset you could usually find me wondering the aisles of T.J. Max, Target or hiding in the discount shoe room in Von Maur. Sometimes I would wonder just see and touch the pretty things and never really buy anything. Sometimes I’d buy a bunch of stuff and return it all the next week. My one vice- the thing I never returned- (and have way too many to admit to an exact number) is cute pads of paper and notebooks. I just love them!. I keep them in my purse, in my desk at school, on my nightstand- they are everywhere. But, now that I have moved and the nearest Target and/or T.J. Max is 1.5 hours away (Von Maur is even further!) I have to curb the wondering- in person that is.

Yes, I knew the beauty of Amazon before I moved, I even had a prime membership and used it regularly. However, as of late, it has gone a bit beyond the “normal” usage and I needed to do something about it. But, give up shopping completely- that ain’t happening! My solution- Swagbucks. I have used Swagbucks before to “save up” for big ticket items on my wish list., yet now I feel a little less guilt about my online shopping because what I am purchasing is essentially free! Here is how Swagbucks works in a nutshell: complete surveys, watch little videos, enter codes, use their search engine , buy stuff online (hello!) and you earn points. The points add up to gift cards to online (and yes some you can use in store) purchases.  There are lots of other little ways to earn points, but I am a multi-tasker who doesn’t like to waste time, so if I am Swagging (my terms for working on earning) I am also doing something else. Watch a movie = answer a survey or two. Exercising = play the videos on my phone. Searching for anything on the internet = Use the Swag search engine.

It adds up and it adds up fast! I don’t spend an obsessive amount of time Swagging, but I do work it harder when I know my Amazon shopping cart is full. Check it out here and see if you like it: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Cassgray2.

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My Christmas Stash

We have a family of six so there is a whole lot going on at home. I am married to a high school math teacher and we have two boys, 9 and 12, and two girls 3 and 1. My kids all attend the the same district (which is really all in the same building) that I now work for. Every one of my kids is born on a holiday (tax day counts-right?) and so that makes our house even crazier and more festive when those holidays roll around. We are all active and busy with commitments, but we are not afraid to admit we love to have a family movie night with everyone piled up on the couch sharing a giant bowl of popcorn (with M&M’s of course!)