Monday, June 11, 2012

Road Trip Ready

Question: How do you prepare a two-year-old and a four-and-a-half-year-old for a twenty-six hour road trip across five states?

Answer: I have no idea. But I thought I'd start with tote bags.

We've made this trip before, last year in fact - we packed up the minivan and strapped in the boys to make the cross country trek from central Illinois to western Montana. It was different last year, somehow. For one, Emmett was still very much a baby - in a rear facing car seat with a propensity to sleep a lot and in that blissfully unaware stage (you know, where you could pull into a drive-in and order yourself a milkshake without your kid even noticing) that made him kind of a non-factor in the equation. Finn stayed content with books and DVDs and more sleep than usual. Now I've got  two kids to keep entertained, two kids who aren't particularly good at entertaining themselves in the best of situations. I am thus determined to be prepared.

Over the last few weeks, I've been building a stash of goodies for the trip. I'm not talking about the edible kind (though we will bring plenty of those), but the keep-'em-happy kind. I've been searching the Internet for parenting articles about road trip happiness (and have found a lot more directed at older kids, unfortunately), and I've talked to Finn at length about the kinds of things he wants to do in the car.

We will bring the portable DVD player, but I honestly don't want them watching movies the entire time. I did think ahead to purchase new, sturdy, kid-sized headphones (aren't they cute?) for both boys, since last summer Finn watched (and we listened to) It's a Very Muppet Christmas (the really annoying one with Joan Cusack) about seventeen times in South Dakota alone.

I love the Crayola Color Explosion markers that only show up on special paper (instead of all over my kids), so both boys got a set of those. We've got coloring books and colored pencils and pads of paper for drawing. Each boy gets a set of binoculars and a flashlight, and we picked up some garage sale books last week so they each have some books they've never seen before.Finn's got a stash of Highlights Hidden Pictures magazines to bring along, and Emmett will probably get a few little cars to play with.

Last year, Finn developed a deep affection for travel brochures. He actually slept with a stack next to his pillow the whole time we were at Grama and Grampa's house. That stash migrated to every deep corner of the van. This year, I made him a brochure box that he can use to stash the brochures he picks up. Hopefully this will work for both of us.

Now that I've got this ever growing pile of activities, where do I put it all? I thought a couple of tote bags might do the trick and decided to make them extra special by customizing them. Here's a quick tutorial on how I did that for your appliqueing pleasure (I can't believe spell check let me get away with that).

I would love to hear any great road trip ideas you might have, particularly for the preschool/toddler set.

Happy trails, all!

 Initial Tote Bags

What you need: blank canvas tote bag,initial pattern, scrap of fusible interfacing, iron, scrap of fabric, sewing machine, thread

1 - Start by pressing the tote bag and the fabric scrap so that everything is nice and smooth.

2- Using a word processing program, print out the desired letter. Mine were Franklin Gothic Heavy, size 700 in outline.
3 - Cut the fabric and the interfacing slightly larger than the letter. Use an iron to fuse the interfacing to the back side of the fabric. This makes the initial substantially sturdier. Pin the letter to the right side of the fabric/interfacing and cut it out.

4 - Pin the letter where you want it on the bag. Use a zigzag stitch to attach the letter to the bag (it helps to practice on a scrap of fabric first so that you get the zigzag to the appropriate width and length - mine was 2.5 wide and .5 in length).

5 - Carefully sew all sides of the letter. Note: curves are trickier than straight lines. Just take your time.

6 - Trim off loose threads. Enjoy your bag!

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