Awesome App For Kids – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally

Mickey Mouse Free App

Awesome App For Kids – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally

Here is another free app that your kids are going to love! Mickey Mouse and his Clubhouse friends are getting ready for a road rally! Your child’s job is to help them get through their various tasks by using the different mouse-ka-tools. This is literally an episode from the popular Disney Junior television show with interactive things built in for your children to take part in. My kids love it, and I love it engages their minds.

I hope your children love this app as much as my kids do and it creates some entertainment and fun learning times on your next trip across the country or to the grocery store.

Happy travels!!

Kristin

Awesome App for Kids – Endless Alphabet

Update September 26, 2013: The price for this app is now $3.99… It is a cool app, but I’m not sure I would pay $4 for it when there are so many other awesome alphabet apps.

Happy Monday everyone!

You know that one of my favorite things to do on this website is pass on information about things that my kids love! I am always looking for great iPad, iPhone, and iTouch apps that my kids can play on the airplane, in the car, or on the bus.

Endless Alphabet App in iTunes Store

Yesterday I checked out the App store on my iPad and discovered they are featuring a “For Parents” section which lists different apps that parents might like. I am always drawn to the free apps because I don’t like spending money, and the app that caught my attention has totally won over my three-year-old, Katienne.

Endless Alphabet App in iTunes store

“Endless Alphabet” is a wonderful app that teaches kids letters, sounds, spelling, and definitions. The main characters in this app are monsters that cleverly act out the definitions of the words that are on the screen, but the letters themselves end up being the stars. There is a large monster with all kinds of words in his mouth, and when you pick one the word will show up on the screen. Monsters run by, knocking the letters all over the screen and your child has to place them back the correct spot. I was pretty shocked that my younger daughter had absolutely no problem matching the scattered letters to the ones on the word. Yay, my homeschooling has been teaching her something!

As you touch your finger onto each letter they either make the sound of the letter, or the name of the letter (this varies depending on the letter). After the child places all of the letter back onto the word, they hear the word read aloud and see monsters act out the meaning. Then a lovely sounding female voice explains the definition of the word.

To get new words you simply need to go to the “Information” area over and over again until you have all of the current words. This area is protected from your little one getting in by having a sequence of spelled out numbers that you have to type in. This makes me really happy because one of my main complaints about other “children” apps is that my kids always end up in the app store. Thanks so much for this feature Callaway Digital Arts Inc!!

It is currently free in the app store. I have seen websites advertising that it can also be downloaded onto Android devices.

Hope you and your children enjoy it as much as we have!

Happy Travels!

Kristin

Taking Your Kids To A Dinner Party

Yesterday I got an email from a friend inviting us over to her place, and in it she mentioned that since her and her husband don’t have kids yet, they don’t have a lot of things for our girls to do over there. This was a very thoughtful thing to mention, and it got me thinking about our family strategy for dinner parties, no matter what country we are currently in.

Whether you are traveling to a far away destination, or only a few minutes to a new friend or colleague’s house for dinner with your children, there are things you can do as a parent to be prepared.

Crayons, a parent's modern day super hero!

The first thing you need to do is find out if it is an adults only dinner, or your children are invited. If your children are not invited, you will need to find a sitter, or decline the invitation.

Side note: It is ok to decline a dinner invitation if someone does not want to be around your kids. You probably will not always be able to find a sitter. In addition, your kids are part of your family, and if you feel like someone isn’t willing to accept the fact that you have kids, well then they need a reality check. Maybe you saying no will be that check for them. I’m not saying your friends should be ok with you always bringing your kids with you everywhere when they just want some adult time with you, but they should not expect you to act like you do not have kids when you are around them.

But, for the purposes of this article, you find out that your kids are invited. Awesome!

Think about the place you have been invited to, do they have any kids? Are their kids around the same age as yours? If they have children the same age as yours, you probably don’t need to bring toys along with you. If they have much older, or much younger children I would go ahead and bring stuff to entertain your kids. If they have no children, definitely think about things to bring!

Why should I bring things for my kids to play with to someone else’s house?

Well the answer is simple, bored kids are more likely to misbehave, and can you blame them? There is nothing for them to do! Children are not made to sit around for long periods time holding still and keeping silent, especially if it is late and they are tired. Remember that if you are pushing a child too far out of their ability to behave by taking them to a place that isn’t set up for them, or pushing them past their limits of energy and composure that you (or me, or any adult that is responsible for the children) are the ones to blame, not the children. As a general rule Travis and I don’t discipline our children past 9 pm. By then, they just don’t have the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong. They are tired.

By providing your children with something to do or play, you are helping them choose to have better behavior. Really, to be honest, you are distracting them, which is not a bad thing. It will give you time to have an actual adult conversation while the children are playing (although I can’t guarantee that it will be an uninterrupted conversation, lol).

What things should I bring for my kids to play with at someone else’s house?

Unless you want to bring a big bag of things, try to think about things that will fit into an oversized purse. That’s what I do. Here are a few options:

-Coloring, a timeless hobby for kids all over the world. I make little coloring books out of half sheets of paper folded in half, and bring a couple of crayons that are secured with a rubber band and folded into a paper towel so I don’t get crayon marks all over the inside of my purse (I have kind of an obsession with purses and keeping them nice… hey, no one is perfect!).

Recently on Pinterest I saw someone turned a DVD cover into a drawing pad with paper on one side and color pencils secured by a piece of ribbon glued across the other side. It’s a compact and nifty idea.

-Hot wheels. They don’t have to be the original version of course, but girls and boys love playing with small toys that have wheels. We also have some animals that have wheels on them that I always keep with me. Our favorite is the moose, he has real character.

-An iTouch, iPad, iPhone, Android, or any other small device that can hold games or movies. We have an iTouch (check out this article) that we keep a few movies on along with the girls’ favorite games. Movies work great for dinner nights because they are tired and usually just want to vegetate. We can usually get an hour of quiet time out of one of these while we talk with our hosts.

-DVDs. Find out your host has a DVD player in a place that is out of the way of the dinner party, and if they do bring one or two DVDs along. If you are in a different country, just make sure you bring the right region of DVD or it won’t play in their player.

-A mini version of their favorite bedtime stuffed animal. If you have small children that are attached to particular objects, it is easier to carry around a travel version of that object then to hear them crying over it when they get tired. I have personally experienced this enough times that we finally started taking a small version of Kati’s penguin, Waddles, with us when we go somewhere and know we will be gone late. I only wish Travis or I had thought of this solution sooner!

-Any other small, low maintenance item that your child likes to play with that doesn’t make a lot of noise, or cause a lot of damage.

I hope this helps and gives you a little bit of quiet adult time at your next dinner invitation. Try to remember how much you enjoy your children, and that other people are going to enjoy them too if you model the right attitude towards your kids (one of joy and not of annoyance).

As far as getting your kids to eat whatever is served to them at this dinner party… well that’s a whole different post!

Happy Travels!

Kristin

Technological Travel: iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad

I have a confession to make to you. I am a Mac person. I have been a Mac devotee since I married my husband in 2005, when he totally converted me from being a PCaholic. I use a MacBookPro (yes, I’m typing on one right now…), and I love, love, love OS X. What does this have to do with travel? Well I wanted to review my favorite iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad games, and if you don’t have any of these devices, let me apologize in advance. I don’t have a droid, so I have no advice as far as that goes, sorry.

The Girls chilling on their bed playing a video on the iTouch.

My parents bought us an iTouch 4G for Christmas last year because they knew that even if Travis was working on the computer, I could use it to Skype with them so they could see the girls. Well, it has turned out to be something we use for much more than that. I don’t want to say this small device has been life changing for us because that sounds so dramatic, but it has definitely been a help in many situations. I have been wanting to write about this in relation to travel, but I finally got the kick in the pants I needed this week. I won a free case for it on TentBlogger (a website you should seriously check out if you are into any type of blogging). Thanks John! So… here we go!

One thing I do occasionally is check out the iTunes store for free TV episodes. They have been getting more and more kids shows on there, including some of our favorite PBS Shows like, Sesame Street, Super Why, and Word World. You can also find Nickelodeon shows like Dora the Explorerer, The Backyardigans, and Blue’s Clues. If you find every free TV show under these two stations, you will have around 10 different 20 minute shows, and you don’t gave to spend any money for them! On the plane ride from Athens to Budapest recently, Katienne enjoyed watching Blue’s Clues, and everyone else on the plane enjoyed the pause in her crying while she watched it.

Games are next on the list. I had a really hard time finding age appropriate games for my kids that they actually liked. So here are three from my personal arsenal, that are Ksena and Katienne tested and approved. Sorry, they aren’t free, but they are cheap, and awesome. Just a note, all the prices are in USD. Read more

Flying With A 2 Year Old

This week my youngest daughter, Katienne, will be turning 2 years old! I cannot believe it! This time of reflection made think back to the time when my oldest daughter was 2, and we started our traveling lifestyle. There were so many questions I had about the best way to travel with a 2 year old, and two short years ago, I had a really hard time finding any useful information on this subject. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you, my lovely readers, about some tips and tricks I picked up along the way.

Why Two?

When you travel with a 2 year old, you can no longer purchase an “infant” seat and that means that a lot of people who have a 2 year old are curious as to what the next step is. Plus, it is unlikely that a 2 year old will sleep through entire flight, like a newborn would, so you also have to think in terms of entertainment (especially on long flights).

Here is the run down on options you have for an airplane ride with a young child:

Ksena, 3 years old, using her CARES Harness on a long flight.

To car seat, or not to car seat? If you look back at my entry about an air friendly car seat you will notice that I used the phrase “5 point harness” quite frequently. Your flight attendant might be more inclined to let you use a car seat that does not have 5 points on it if you are flying with a young child instead of a baby, but for safety purposes 5 points are always better than 2 or 3. In my opinion, a giant car seat for a 2 or 3 year old is a bit overkill, and you can end up with your little one wanting some leg room. I suggest using a car seat that is on the light, small side, or you could use this. It is a product called CARES, and it can be quite pricey. You can rent one for your trip on ebay for around $13, or you could purchase one used from $50. If you purchase your own, you might consider renting it out on ebay when you are not using it to make your money back. I have used this since our oldest daughter was 2 1/2 and she loves it. I found a pillow at Target with a button strap on it, and I just strap it right onto the shoulder harness for her to rest her head against when she sleeps. As for her actual car seat, I slip it into one of these babies (also known as a JL Gate Check Bag) and check it with our checked luggage. Read more