10 Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

 

The time has come – you have picked a camp, submitted forms, pick electives – and now it is time to start packing.  Think of this more as a marathon than a sprint.  Start early – don’t wait until the last minute!

  1.  Buy high quality labels.  Labels have come a long way since my mother had to sew millions of printed labels on every piece of clothing.  I have used these labels for years and they stay on the tags of clothing really well.  They also make labels for water bottles, shoes and anything else you can think of.  The biggest problem I had was labeling black socks.  If you want socks back – buy white ones where you can use a black sharpie.
  2. Involve your camper.  Bring him to target, let her pick-out her shampoo.  Most importantly your kid needs to be involved in the packing.  It was actually a great bonding time for my son and I.  Running through target at night – and getting his opinions on bedding.
  3. Follow the camps suggestions carefully.  There is limited space for your camper to keep their things in the bunk.  If you decide to send 4 sets of sheets instead of 2 there will be no place to put it.  This list will also contain special items that they might need.  My camper needed a plain white shirt for a tie-dye project.  It might also tell you special color items of clothing for color wars or special dress-up items.
  4. Buy good quality duffel bags – I was going back and forth with whether to buy cheap bags or nice ones like these.  I decided with the nice ones.  I don’t want to waste money buying new ones every year if the cheap ones break.  These bags will last and I figured he can take them to college!
  5. Pre-stamp, pre-address, and pre-return address all stationary.  The goal is to remove all barriers to letter writing.  It is the most wonderful thing when you get that letter from your camper.  It might be totally spelled wrong, or it might say almost nothing – but it is still awesome!
  6. Find a Mom from your camp to pick her brain!  If you have a friend with an older kid at your camp – take them out to coffee and ask all of your questions.  If not, ask the camp to introduce you to someone.  This person can give you all the tips about the best way to pack and of course the things your camper “needs” that isn’t on the list.  Some wise Mom’s last year told me that the campers love to bring pillow “husbands,” a rug for the end of their bed, and a plastic drawers to go on top of the cubby.
  7. Find out what the “currency” is.  In my day we all brought “cool” stationary to trade and pet when we played card games.  My son was allowed to bring gum last summer.
  8. Make your camper try on all of the clothes they are planning to bring – new or old.  These kids can grow a lot in a year.  Make sure everything fits and that they actually will wear it.  Don’t send fancy stuff – it all comes back pretty lived in.  
  9. Start gathering things now!  Packing for camp is more like a marathon then a sprint.  If you start buying things now – labels, duffles, camp t-shirts and pile them in a closet you will be in good shape when camp begins.
  10. While writing this list I asked my son for his tips.  He said….  Extra underwear!!!  I followed the packing list closely but for whatever reason that was not enough underwear for my son. Whoops….

Top 10 tips to survive spring sports season

I know we are only a few weeks left of the spring sports season (summer here we come!!!). I am working on sleepaway camp tips – but wanted to get these ideas down before I forgot.

  1. As soon as you get team roster – email the list to see if anyone is interested in carpooling. If you work or have multiple kids playing sports you will either need a carpool or a clone to survive.
  2. Consider a prepaid cheap phone. I felt uncomfortable leaving my 11 year old cross town while I was with my 6 year old at a different practice. If there was some emergency I wanted him to call or text. I got a $19 phone off of Amazon and paid $30 for 360 minutes. A good investment for piece of mind.
  3. Look at used sports equipment. If your child is trying a sport for the first time you might not want to shell out money for top of the line new equipment. In Boston there is a high quality used sporting equipment store that sells new and used. Play it again sports.
  4. If you have to buy a uniform – make sure you follow all ordering deadlines. You don’t want your child to miss out playing because hey don’t have the uniform.
  5. Get a dedicated bag for that sport. It doesn’t have to be a sport specific bag – any bag will do. I found that if one bag is for that child and that sport we are much less likely to misplace a glove, stick or pad. I nag them until they put all the equipment back in the bag (even when they are practicing at home) and then have a hook in the garage for that bag. When we are running late for a game or practice – we can grab and go.
  6.  Always bring a water bottle for the kid and for yourself!
  7.  Remember sunscreen for everyone even early in the spring when it still feels cool.
  8.  Bring a chair for yourself. These games can go on forever – comfort is key! I leave a few in the car for any other family members that might join for the game – grandparents or siblings.
  9.  Is is always colder then you think it will be. I keep a blanket in the car for emergencies. I also always bring a jacket even if the sun is shining.
  10.  Thank the coach every chance you get. For younger kids – the coaches are parents. Without them none of this could happen. At the end of every game I encourage my kid to thank the coaches and I do the same.
I am not even getting into not putting too much pressure or stress on your kid. To me this is obvious. I stress having fun, making friends, learning new things and trying your best!!!!

Always Be Prepared – puke in the car edition

I think of myself as a pretty prepared Mom.  I always have a tissue or bandaid ready to go.  I am the one who always has a snack for my boys and their friends.  My kids get hangry very fast (hungry + angry = hangry).  My pool bag is stocked and ready to go and my packing cube tips are some of my favorite to share.

Since my little one is now 5 – I have let my car preparedness lax.  No longer are the days when I have a diaper bag with me.  I used to keep my car stocked with diapers, wipes, lotion, travel potty and a million other “necessary” items.  Since my boys are now “big” I no longer keep most of these things with me.  And this got me into big trouble yesterday!

My #3 boy has been home sick with a virus.  Low grade fever and sore throat.  We spent the day at home reading books and watching age appropriate tv.  Anyone with more than one kid knows that the youngest will watch what the oldest will watch and never gets to experience of Curious George (my favorite!).  I had to put #3 in the car to pick up #2 and #1 from school.  This process usually takes about 45 minutes.  They are at a private school with two different campuses.  It can be shorter if we park the car and walk to pick them up.  With #3 being sick and it being 19 degrees outside, we opted for the car pick-up line.  10 minutes into the drive – #3 threw up all over himself!  I found myself unprepared, and had to struggle to get us into a position to do the next 35 minutes of our pick-ups.  I did the best I could – stripping his puky clothes in a plastic bag (so glad at least I had this!), putting him in an extra pair of shorts and throwing a blanket over him to keep him warm.  We drove with the windows open and made it home where I had to spend the next 45 minutes cleaning the car and the clothes.  This was a good reminder to be prepared for this situation next time.

Puke in the Car Edition – Necessary Items

  1.  Travel Puke Bucket – you can purchase these plastic half moon buckets online, in a medical supply store, or swipe them from the hospital.  They are the perfect size to slip into your glove compartment.  If a child is complaining of being nauseous – it is in the perfect location to grab it while you are driving and pass it back to the kid.  It is small enough that they can hold it up to their face and hopefully catch anything that comes out.  You can either keep a plastic bag over it – so the puke can be cleaned out by just removing the bag, or you can rinse out the bucket.  The bucket is on the small size – so it will not be that helpful depending on the volume of what is coming up.   Small Puke Bucket6160zVPifiL._SX522_
  2. Plastic Bags – I keep at least 5 plastic bags in my center console.  This is helpful for wrapping up clothes that got dirty, wipes that you used to clean up mess, and holding an already used puke bucket.  You should also keep some plastic bags stashed in the trunk for further emergencies.
  3. Wipes – Since I don’t have any kids wearing diapers anymore, I haven’t been keeping wipes in the car.  I am not even sure that I have any in the house anymore!  I used to buy the large packs and put a small amount in a small plastic holder to keep in the car or my diaper bag.  Because I don’t use them often the wipes would dry out.  I am going to buy some of these small packs to keep in the car – and hopefully they won’t dry out.  Wipes 51BnJKX-PgL
  4. Change of Clothes – I should add that it should be an appropriate for the season change of clothes.  I keep a mesh travel bag in the trunk of my car with a new shirt, pants/shorts, underwear and sock.  Packing Cube51lDNRzc1zL._SL500_SS125_
  5. Blanket – I always keep 1 or 2 blankets in the trunk of my car for a variety of situations.  We were once caught in a horrible rain storm and the boys were freezing.  They are also good for a last minute picnic.  In this instance, it was great for covering my little one once I got him out of his dirty clothes.  A small fleece blanket is my recommendation.  It is cozy, durable and most importantly – easy to clean!  Fleece blanket  61AgmXir+cL._SL1100_

Easy Stress Free Thank You Notes

DSC03512-1

 

I have birthdays on the mind.  In November two of my three kids have birthdays and that means parties and the dreaded thank you notes!  I do think they are important.  I want my kids to be appreciative of presents they have received from friends and family.  I know that our family members love to get them.  HOw to make them stress-free and streamline the process?

I am all about photoshop – photo editing.  What I have been doing the last bunch of years, is to use a photo from the child’s birthday party, or to have them write thank you poster and hold it up in a picture, or once we even created a thank you sign with legos.  You can either print it out just with the thank you, or in photoshop you can add some special text as I did above.  I print out these photos 4×6, one for each thank you note.  At this point  you can have your child hand write a quick thank you on a blank index card and tape it to the back of the photo.  You could also type specific words, print it out, and tape it to the back.

DSCN2466

The Big Baby List

Big Baby

Not a rule but more of a tradition – pregnant Jewish couples usually do not have baby showers. There is a superstition about buying and receiving baby gifts before the birth of a baby. To follow this tradition is hard as you are sitting there with a growing belly and desperately wanting to get organized for your new family member. As I was pregnant with my first son, I chanlled this energy into what I called “The Big Baby List.” I needed to get organized the only way I knew how – making a list! I divided it into different sections. (1) Need Before; (2) Need After; (3) Need Later; (4) Hospital Bag.

You can download this list here and edit it to make it your own.  Big Baby List

Need Before – these were the handful of things that I wanted to buy before.  I felt that I couldn’t go into the hospital to give birth without having these things already bought.

  1. Pack-n-play or other bassinet
  2. Infant Car Seat
  3. Nursing Bras
  4. Diapers
  5. Baby Wipes
  6. Bibs
  7. Glider / Rocking Chair
  8. Wash Cloths
  9. Blankets
  10. Burp pads – cloth diapers
  11. Baby laundry detergent

Need After – these were things I wanted to my parents and close friends to go and buy shortly after we came home from the hospital.  We didn’t need these things right away – but I thought we would use them sooner rather than later.

  1. Diaper Pail + refills
  2. Baby Monitor
  3. Stroller that fits infant carseat
  4. Umbrella stroller
  5. Baby Carrier
  6. Baby Bjiorn or sling or Ergo
  7. Night Light
  8. Breast feeding pillow
  9. Breast Pump
  10. Nursing Tops
  11. Bottles
  12. Breast Pads
  13. Pacifier
  14. Clothes
    1. Onsies (4-7)
    2. One piece nightgowns w/ drawstring bottom (4-7)
    3. Cotton shirts w/ snaps @ neck (4-7)
    4. Sweater or jacket (1)
    5. Socks/booties (4-7)
    6. Hat
  15. Grooming kit
    1. Soft hair brush
    2. Comb
    3. Infant Nail Clippers
    4. Baby Shampoo
  16. First Aid Kit
    1. Rectal Thermometer
    2. Diaper Ointment
    3. Baby Tylenol
    4. Bulb Nose Aspirator
    5. Petroleum Jelly
    6. Rubbing Alcohol
  17. Diaper Bag
  18. Travel baby wipes
  19. Changing Pad
  20. Hooded terry cloth towel
  21. Laundry bag

Need Later – these were things on my wish list, but I knew we could wait until the bris or later to receive them.

  1. Crib
  2. Mattress
  3. Sheets – 2-3
  4. Bumper pad for crib
  5. Dresser
  6. Changing Table Pad
  7. Baby Bathtub
  8. Baby swing/bouncer

Hospital Bag – I obviously had my hospital bag packed for a while – but it still felt good to have a checklist.  These were musts for me to have in the hospital.

  1. Going home outfit – me
  2. Toiletries
  3. Flip-flops
  4. Socks
  5. Underwear
  6. Lip Balm
  7. Snack food
  8. Magazines
  9. Sanitary Pads (the ones they give you are enormous!)
  10. Nursing Bra
  11. Book on nursing
  12. Camera
  13. Camcorder
  14. Telephone List (list of people or places you will need to call from hospital)
    1. Family
    2. Friends
    3. Moyel?
    4. Pediatrician
    5. Furniture Store
    6. Magic Beans
  15. Baby’s going home outfit
    1. T-shirt that snap closed on the side
    2. Diaper
    3. Something for the feet
    4. Outer outfit
    5. Hat
    6. Receiving blanket

What’s Erica Eating – week 1

Erica

I am trying a new weekly post from a great friend of mine Erica. She is a great friend, Mom and cook! We have always shared common interests from when we first met and learned to knit our first hat together! She mentioned to me the other day that she has been emailing out her weekly family meal plans to some friends and I said “get me on that list!”

Keep in mind that she does not keep kosher. I am happy to tweak any recipes of hers that are of interest to make it kosher friendly. Enjoy!

———————

Happy Monday Ladies!  Here it is- the moment you’ve been waiting all day for– what my family is eating this week!

Tonight- I’m making pasta with vodka sauce and chicken & mushrooms.  I just buy chicken breast and cut it into chunks.  Saute with a little olive oil, salt & pepper.  Once the chicken is pretty much cooked through I add in come sliced mushrooms and saute for another few minutes.  I buy vodka sauce from TJ’s and add that then some spices (garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning, etc) and let it all cook until heated through and throw it over pasta.  I’m going to steam some green beans to go with that.
Tuesday- I do a lot of Mexican on Tuesday nights and this is one of my standards- Tostados.  It’s super easy and everybody loves it!  I just buy crispy corn tortillas (they look like giant round chips) and soft flour tortillas, and serve them with yellow rice, corn, black beans, tomatoes (or salsa), cheese, avocado and steak. I just buy a small piece of flank steak that takes about 2-3 mins per side to cook.  I usually throw a little Soyaki on it to add some flavor.  It’s pretty hands on to make it, but I do the whole thing in the 20 mins. it takes to cook the rice.
Wednesday- I have moussaka in my freezer that’s getting thawed and eaten.  We belonged to a CSA last summer/fall and kept getting a ton of eggplants, so I was desperate for new eggplant recipes.  This is what I used: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/moussaka-recipe.html
I will caution you- unless you have a personal sou chef, I have no idea how you prep this is 25 mins.  It took SO long to make.  The good news was that I doubled the recipe and made a TON of it, and it’s delicious.  So, if you find yourself with a day to cook- I highly recommend this, but definitely don’t start at 5pm unless you want to eat dinner at midnight!
Thursday- As usual, it’s pizza night!
Friday- I’m making mahi mahi, Israeli cous cous and a cucumber tomato salad.  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/ginger-soy-glazed-mahi-mahi
I haven’t tried this yet, but Jake chose mahi mahi as the fish for this week, so here it is!
That’s all we have this week since we’ll be out on Saturday night and Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I absolutely refuse to be in charge of dinner!  Hope you all have a great week and enjoy this beautiful weather!!

30 Days to a Change

30-days-to-a-better-you

In November I stumbled onto the Blogher 30-day challenge.  I had been trying to motivate to publish regularly on this blog and the challenge really got me moving.  I did 30 days of posts – but I stopped doing everything else.  I stopped updating my family blog, stalled on my youngest son’s baby book….  After November – I haven’t posted again.  I also haven’t been able to get moving with my other projects that fell by the wayside.  I don’t think my answer is posting every day.  I am going to try twice a week and go from there.

I have a long list of things I want to do on a daily-basis that I want to be part of my routine.  My brother told me that he read if you do something everyday for 30-days it becomes a habit and then easier to keep doing moving forward.  With the new year, and my kids finally back to school from school vacation – here is my list of things I am going to try to do every day for 30-days – hoping they will become a habit and then I can keep them up without as much trouble.

  1. Daily Excersie – on busy days this can be 5-10 minutes of yoga in my house
  2. Daily face lotions – last summer I went to an expensive dermatology practice and spent a ton on a face regime.
  3. Floss
  4. Update family blog
  5. Drink water
  6. 52-week declutter project – I am following this blog which has daily decluttering and organizational projects for the whole year.
  7. Food logging – I use myfitnesspal.com on my phone.  I know this is the only way to achieve my fitness goals.

Dream Mudroom

10

With three boys, I think my mudroom is my favorite and most used room in the house.  We bought our house from a rabbi who had an office in his house.  The office has direct access from the driveway and from the garage.  It is a very big room but it did not make sense for our home office.  In the four years that we have lived here, my husband and I have both bought laptops.  Our “home office” is now anywhere we bring our laptop.  Let’s be honest, this is usually my living room couch in from of the tv.  Hey, that is where I am right now!  So, this big room that we will walk through from the garage would be our mudroom.  When we moved in, (I have to find a before picture!) it was just an empty room with one closet.  For the first two years we made do with a bench and two small bookcases.  We had been planning these lockers from the beginning.  My husband and I spent countless hours on pinterest and houz.  We came up with our wish list and my husband made a drawing of our dream lockers.  We hired an amazing carpenter and they brought our vision to life.

The top cabinets we use for hats, suntan lotion, coloring books for restaurants and anything else we want hidden away but available for quick access.  The open area with the hooks we use for coats, backpacks and my purses.  The bottom drawer is for gloves, hats and the boys yarmulkes they have to wear for school everyday.  The open bottom section is for shoes.  If we had a couple of more inches to the ceiling this part would have been good bigger.  It is too short for snow boots.  I still keep a small two shelf bookcase on the right wall in the mudroom for these shoes and any other extra stuff.

Two years later I am so happy with our design.  No matter how many cabinets you have or systems you have in place, if everyone is not committed to keeping it organized and de-cluttered it will be just as messy as before.

Korn_Mudroom 1_10.30.12 Mudroom Lockers

Packing Tips – individual packing cubes

14

We are not the biggest travelers.  I have a friend who is off somewhere with her kids at least once a month.  During the summer they are gone most of the time.  My parents live in NY, so we go down there 4-6 times a year.  We also go on a few vacations.  I love vacations but I HATE packing.  I am always trying to re-think my planning, method, materials to make this horrible experience slightly easier.

I swear buy these packing cubes from Ikea.  I bought one set for each of my three boys.  Although, now that #1 is in size Large clothes, I bought a forth set since his clothes are so much bigger now!  I used a silver sharpie marker.  On the front of each bag I wrote the boys name.  Even though, I can identify every piece of clothing and who it belongs to – no one else can. On vacation, my parents, mother-in-law or husband can be in charge of getting the boys dressed and I don’t have to be involved!  I use the long bag with the zipper in the middle for socks and under ware, one bag for shirts, and one for pants.  If we are going to a fancy event I will take all three boys clothes for this event and put it in one bag so it doesn’t get confused with everyday clothes.

The cubes have definitely made traveling easier.  The packing is easy if the boys clothes in their closet are put away and organized.  Not fun!

Good luck to everyone who is traveling over this holiday season!

The Laundry Dot System

The Laundry Dot System

 

I have three boys.  Luckily I can pass down clothes from one to the next.  Trying to figure out whose Ninja Turtle shirt belongs to who can be maddening.  Some shirts run small, some bathing suits run big.  Right now my 3 year old is wearing 2T bathing suits, my 8 year old is wearing size Large, and my 5 year old wears both 4T sweatpants and boys size Small t-shirts.  I can barely keep them straight and my husband has no idea!  I do not take credit for this amazing system.  I read it in a magazine years ago – where I have no idea.  But I am happy to spread the simplest most important laundry system for your family.   I introduce you to the Dot System!

1.  Get a black sharpie.

2.  Wash your kids clothes and as you begin to sort and fold take out your sharpie.

3.  Put a dot on the label of each item of clothing.

4.  1 dot for the oldest child, 2 dots for the second oldest, 3 dots for the third oldest and so on.

5.  When a piece of clothing is being past from one child to the next – simply add a dot!

Think about it….  you just add a dot!  When you are putting laundry away or someone is fighting over a favorite t-shirt – just look at the dots.  You can even give the job of folding and putting away to someone else.  Your husband, housekeeper, helpful grandparent.  If you are adding the dots only on the clean laundry – it might take a while to get to all the clothes.  If you are really ready for the dot system to be fully employed – you can go through all the closets and dot away.  Make sure you dot any new clothes coming into the house.