Author Archives: Naomi Hattaway

About Naomi Hattaway

I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter. I am a blossoming cook, an avid reader, a wanna-be runner and a pathetic gardener. I was homeschooled as a child and some days wish that I had the patience to do the same with my own children. I am stubborn, melodramatic and sometimes impossible to reason with. I am steadfast in my belief systems, vocal and respectful at the same time. I have always exercised my right to vote, my right to free speech and my right to stomp my foot when I see something that is wrong. I type a ridiculous amount of words per minute, but can't possibly have an intelligent argument with my husband to save my soul. I pass up movies in the comedy section and go only for movies that make me think. I have friends that run in very different circles and am a bit scared of the day that those circles intersect. I love coffee first thing in the morning, despise housecleaning and adore the beach. I want to live my life without fear or regret - but only if I've exercised due diligence in researching my options. I write, I love, I create, I dream and I hope to make an impact ... if only a small corner of my world ... for the better.

June 22, 2009

travel advice for road trips with kiddos

What do you get when you combine a car, three children, a cat, a vehicle full of luggage and over 800 miles?

You get a ROAD TRIP!

How does one safely make the journey, while also retaining sanity?

Some of our tried and true tips for surviving a road trip with kiddos:


I’m refraining from posting my thoughts on traveling with pets, as I hope to never do that again … if you need tips, email me and I’ll be happy to share our suggestions individually with you.

WHAT TO BRING:

  • CELL PHONE CHARGER! Too often I make the organizational mistake of packing this in my luggage that I don’t have easy access to. Huge bummer when you have a cell phone with a dead battery!
  • Bottle brush (We love this kind) — makes cleaning out sippy cups a BREEZE when you’re on the go with no access to a dishwasher.
  • Boxed milk that requires no refrigeration (We love this kind) — if your kiddos can’t live without milk, this reduces the need for a cooler in the car!
  • Ziploc bags of all sizes — perfect for trash bags (when you need to contain smelly trash, or to ensure that random french fries from the last drive-thru lunch stay put instead of all over the car).
  • Diapers that your little one has outgrown — maybe a strange tip, but they make for a really fun game of hot potato without fear of breaking or hurting anyone!
  • Dryer sheets to place underneath carseats — another strange tip, but it helps keep the car smelling … well … spring fresh!
  • Ziploc Big Bags (we LOVE THESE!) — pack one in your overnight bag for dirty clothes. The size holds your entire family’s dirty laundry AND zips shut to keep the odor-ifious-ness contained.
  • Travel size of Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. This works for bathtime, sink-cleaning laundry if needed, washing out sippy cups, etc.
  • Nightlight. Nothing is worse than an unfamiliar bedroom (whether hotel or with family) than a dark bedroom.

If you are staying in a hotel or with friends along your way, pack what EVERY member of the family needs into ONE bag.

  • change of clothes for the next morning
  • pjs
  • swimsuits
  • toiletries
  • Ziploc big bag

When you arrive at your first night’s destination, it is so nice to only have to remove ONE bag for the night instead of pulling all sorts of random bags into the lobby, WITH your tired and cranky kiddos.

If you are staying at a hotel, ask the front desk attendant when you check in to allow you to raid their continental breakfast room/fridge for some milk cartons (put them on ice with your bucket) and boxed cereal.

Throw in some fruit, and you’ve got your own bedside breakfast ready in the morning without forcing you to get dressed and wrangle the littles into clothes first thing.

IN-CAR ENTERTAINMENT:

Use a small cookie sheet that magically transforms into a lap desk. The benefits to this are numerous:

  • Magnets STICK!
  • Colors are contained within the outer lip
  • Snacks are easily kept at bay (imagine goldfish flying all over the car when you hit a bump?)
  • They easily slide underneath the seats for storage

We find our trips go the best when I’ve pulled aside some toys several weeks prior to our trip, so that the toys become “new” to them.

The dollar bin at Target, or your local dollar store also makes for great “new toys” for in the car. Don’t go overboard, but pick up some cheap things and your kids will be thrilled!

We also intentionally swap out toys every 30-45 minutes … even if they’re not “done” playing with them. Instead of waiting until frustration levels are high and they’re beyond playing with the toys, refresh their scenery and swap out on a regular basis.

Ziploc or grocery-store bag each GROUPING of toys. Explain to your kids that they need to keep all like items together and you’ll all save yourself some much needed energy.

If you have room between carseats, throw in a plastic crate (like THIS) — the crate will serve numerous purposes along the way. (For the kids to keep their juiceboxes, snacks, toys in their reach, etc.)

Pack each kiddo a backpack of their own special things. Include in their backpack their OWN bag of colors, kid-friendly scissors and … a roll of tape. No joke here … that roll of tape can keep them busy for H.O.U.R.S!

Create a BINGO game of sorts (afix it to their cookie sheet lap tray for ease). Identify several things that the kids will be likely to see along your journey and let them color in the squares when they spot each one.

Create a “map” of your journey with your starting location, your final destination and pinpoint several landmarks or locations along the way. Provide stickers just for this map and help your children identify and understand a bit more the process of the journey. It cuts down a bit on the “Are we there yet?” question.

EACH AND EVERY TIME you stop for gas or potty breaks, clean out the car. Take the extra 5 minutes to throw away that trash!

ANOTHER MUST? Designate the pouches on the back of the seats for the kids’ shoes and socks. If they have special blankies or lovies, also use those pouches for those items. Instead of having to search high and low for these things when they are rapidly needed, form a habit of always placing them in those pouches.

DVD Players. I canNOT stress this enough. Each child gets their own DVD player AND headphones. Saves from fighting over which movie to play, whose player is louder, etc.

* * *
With a little bit of planning, alot of patience and some organization, you can make your summer road trips bearable! I’m sure there are SO many more travel tips. Share your favorites!

June 1, 2009

creating bonds.

That little beauty is my niece who currently lives approximately 471 miles away from me. I hate that we live so far away, and am upset that we are about to move even farther.

I can’t control where our family has placed themselves, across the nation, and even overseas already as my mother lives in Kenya. I can however, control the frequency of my attempts to make connections and form bonds.

The internet is a wonderful thing – you can send photos, videos and even e-cards to your loved ones with a click of a button.

I plan on using EVERY resource available to me as we leave soon for our relocation to Delhi, but I also plan to try and remain loyal to “real” communication.

When we recently made our dandelion paintings, we stuck one in the mail to the little darling in the photo above. How sweet it was to receive the photo via email of her looking at and touching the painting.

She’s too young to understand that Mia MADE that painting for her, and too young to appreciate that they may very well form a close relationship as they grow up – no matter how far they are separated.

These two girls – my Mia and my niece who we affectionately call “Babybug Ladybug” can indeed form a bond, even across the miles. That is, if we choose to make the effort to keep them in touch.

Whether it be sending each other post cards of their travels, or finding fun things to collect and exchange via the mail … or maybe even keeping an online blog together of their experiences (how fun would that be?) … there are all sorts of creative ways to help keep a friendship and relationship intact even when you are separated physically.

I plan to help instill a relationship between the two youngest girls in our family … and hope to see it blossom and grow as they grow up!

May 27, 2009

global wonders

I’ve long been a lover of music. Music of all kinds.

Music moves me and I often used it to veg, motivate, relax, provide perspective or to just all-out-jam to.

I’ve long wished for my children to also become lovers of music and I’ve been very excited to introduce them – concurrent with our pending move to India – to music from all over the globe.

At our recent Playdate Goes Global, we created cds of various international themed children’s music, but I SO wish that we’d been able to provide each family with a GLOBAL WONDERS CD!

Now available (AS OF TODAY!) through Amazon.com and at Target, ToysRUs and other retailers, this truly great CD features authentic culture in music styles that you moms and dads will also enjoy listening to (I promise!). This is not another one of those cds that you cringe at when your kids ask to listen to it!

Our family has spent many an afternoon be-bopping to this CD and the kids are even learning the words (in other languages!). Global Wonders is an award-winning CD, produced/composed by Jim Latham (who has also written for Disney).

This CD includes an impressive 19 songs spanning the globe – almost literally – with music from India, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Ireland, Cuba and the United States (New Orleans Jazz, and Hawaiian Tiki). Highlights include a unique version of Vande Mataram, (India’s national song and the second most popular song in the world, per the BBC), incorporating a children’s choir into the chorus; Go Go Greece, a get-up-and-dance traditional Greek song; Banda Dance from Mexico; the Bollywood style India Celebrations; and America The Beautiful in a gospel vibe.

Take a listen at their special Global Wonders YouTube page or check out the Global Wonders website.

This family already has “India” the Global Wonders DVD on their wish list!

May 18, 2009

playdate goes global

What do you get when you combine 14 crazy mommas, over 30 children, some ingenious passports and loads of sugar?

Playdate Goes Global, that’s what!

In a community where diversity is NOT a large part of our children’s day-to-day experiences, two of my friends and I decided that a cultural lesson was in order.

All invited moms were instructed to choose a country, research with their children (admittedly most of us did the work on our own), plan a craft and provide a snack – all that correlated to their chosen country.

We gathered yesterday afternoon for the result and boy was it crazy!

After each mom and kid team set up their tables (some with flags, some with appropriate fabrics, some with music and some with books or reading materials), we started the process of “clearing customs” with each family.

Handcrafted passports were handed out to each child, along with a Country Itinerary (their checklist to be sure they made it to each country).

With all of these countries to visit – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland and Russia – can you believe we made it to all of those locations in just under two hours?

Whether it was sampling mango chutney, eating with chopsticks, tasting eclairs or dipping melons in grecian yogurt, the children were given a fantastic example of what food might taste like in a different country.

No hotdogs, mac-n-cheese or pizza here! What was incredible was that most of the kids responded to their taste testing with a resounding “Mom! That was really GOOD!”

The crafts were equally as educational. Chinese lanterns, german pretzels (made from playdough), coloring boomerangs, Indian rangoli, Faberge eggs or pasta art from Italy, these kiddos exercised their creativity!

When we planned this event, we envisioned a very brief introduction to various countries and how people live on these far away places, with playtime taking up the majority of the time. What surprised us was how “into it” everyone got.

We watched kids run up to other kids and ask “Have you been to China yet?” or “Oooh, go make the craft in Germany!”

We as parents have a responsibility to teach our children not only about manners and their ABCs, but also to be more culturally aware. We owe it to our kiddos to help them understand that there is an entire world out there.

Just across the ocean, just across our borders … lies a completely different way of living. Whether it be the standard dress of a country, varied religious practices or general ways of life … it can be incredibly rewarding to watch your little ones soak up this new information.

Many schools host international/cultural fairs when children are in 3rd or 4th grade. However, you don’t have to wait until your kids get into elementary school to start expanding their horizons.

Gather some of your friends together, and host a ‘trip around the world’ for the benefit of your kiddos!

May 10, 2009

field of dreams

Take ONE patch of dandelions

Add in TWO stir-crazy kiddos as mom is busy packing up our belongings

Mix in with some dabs of paint

a little bit of creativity

 

BEAUTIFUL!!!

 

I realize that this may be over-kill, but you should SEE the tubs of craft supplies that I have packed and ready for the move.

I am deeply fearful (I call it a bomb shelter mentality) of what we may or may not be able to find when we arrive, and we thrive on random craftiness.

Call me silly, but if our family has craft supplies, we WILL travel!

I encourage you to get crafty with your kids.  All it takes is some dandelions (and whose yard DOESN’T have dandelions right  now?), some paint and a willingness to take some TIME.

Take some time and create!

losing focus

Can you read that? It says “56 in a 35″

Criminy.

$149.00

All because I lost focus.

More importantly, I had quite the humbling moment with my middle kidlet in the car.

At first he panicked and asked …

… if we were going to jail (when he saw the light bar).

Then Tony asked why the policeman was mad at his momma.

I explained that I was going too fast.

(i.e. not paying attention, a million and one things running through my mind, late for the next activity, trying to figure out X, Y and Z, trying to find the right song on the radio, handing Tony his Bakugan that he’d dropped, adjusting my seatbelt … )

The nice officer smiled ever so sweetly and asked for my license and registration. I’ve always had pretty good luck with ‘getting away with warnings’ but today was not that day.

He returned to the car (after what felt like ages while I impatiently drummed my fingers on the steering wheel) and handed me my ticket.

A ticket that equals about 50 McDonalds Happy Meals or 130 RedBox movie rentals (I say 130 because I never return them on time).

That ticket also equaled several relaxing massages or a whole case of nice wine.

That ticket equaled more than that though. It equaled a costly reminder to stay focused. To try a bit harder to leave my to-do list at HOME when I get in the car.

To block out the mental tornado that is currently going on in my head when I’m responsible for other people while behind the wheel.

To keep my phone secured safely in its cute little holster and maybe even stop communicating while I’m driving.

As I was writing the check out to pay the fine, I showed Tony and explained that I was having to pay alot of money for my ticket. Alot of money for not paying attention and for failing to follow the rules.

You wanna know what he said?

“Momma, you should’a told the ociffer that we were moving to India. He would have let you go if you had told him THAT”

I am starting to realize that when I give my all to ONE thing, my efforts are much more magnified than when I multi-task and attempt to spread myself (too thin, most times) across the board. I am writing this post “out loud” as more of a reminder to myself in the coming weeks and months.

If you see me flying down the road in the coming days, or I seem to be losing focus and getting distracted from something you know I want to devote myself to, remind me, ok?

Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein

May 3, 2009

moving stuff, protecting memories.

Moving creates stress. Moving fosters arguments and moving SURE adds an extra level of uncertainty to your relationships.

 

Moving can even breed bitterness and contempt as one starts the process of packing. How could something that people do every day, cause such anxiety? How could the things that are contained inside of four walls create such havoc?

 

It’s because we as humans – and even more so as mothers – attach our memories to things. We cling to physical objects in the hopes that maybe we can allow our little ones’ childhoods to linger a bit more. We desperately want to never forget the small moments that helped to form who our children are becoming.

 

What about looking at it from the opposite side of things? What about finding the positives of purging, cleaning out and making do with less. What if we all took a more creative approach to protecting memories, instead of holding on to the clutter?

 

When we started purging the house for our upcoming move to India, I got incredibly overwhelmed. How could I possibly take a home, that we had all lived, loved and played in for so long … and simply label everything either “ship” – “store” or “send away to Salvation Army”

 

We had alot of stuff. Sure, some of it was memories and some of it was necessities, but most of it … well, most of it just collected dust, interrupted our daily routine and caused more worry than any of it is really worth.

 

I decided to start with the kids’ bedrooms, followed by their toy room. As I spent several days sorting and creating various piles, I found that the “memory” pile was growing larger and larger. Toys that we had spent hours playing with, or artwork that the kiddos had labored over. Board games that we enjoyed together as a family, collections of matchbox cars and legos. Dressup clothes that no longer fit or were tattered and ripped.

 

All of those things somehow ended up in the “keep forever” pile. It wasn’t because they were worth anything monetarily. It sure wasn’t because I would ever mend the dressup clothes for continued play and most of those toys they had long outgrown and forgotten about.

 

That pile of things ‘to keep’ simply had memories attached to them.

 

In the several weeks that have gone by since I started sorting and purging, I have begun to let go of the attachment to these things, and have begun to journal my memories instead. I’ve replaced the physical ‘holding on’ mentality with a written form of keepsakes. I am choosing to do away with the stuff, and instead keep a longer lasting recollection of the emotions and moments that go along with the stuff.

 

By writing about those experiences (the puppet shows, the 100s of dressup escapades, the family board game nights, and arts & crafts time) and capturing what they meant to me, I am creating a much more important treasure box, so to speak, than if I chose to keep the items that were attached to those memories.

 

What creative ways can you keep memories alive, without keeping the stuff? How can you preserve your children’s childhood and keep it alive in your minds, without cluttering your living space?