Do you want to feel like you have stepped into a family night from the past?  You can do just that at the Starlite Drive-in!  We enjoyed an old-fashioned night out with our kids.  I was trying to find a place for a family night that the girls would enjoy but that would be a good option for a newborn.  Octavia is only a month old.

I stumbled upon this while searching options in the greater Cincinnati area. The Starlite Drive-in is located in Amelia, OH.  This is an extremely affordable option for taking a family to the movies. They do a double feature.  Prices are currently: 12 and up is $8.75 and kids 4-11 are $5.25. Three and under are free. You can buy a food permit for $5 and bring in outside food.  I stopped at the grocery earlier in the day and picked up some favorite snack food.  We brought a cooler for juice and water bottles. The entire outing cost us under $50.

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We took the minivan for this trip. We turned the backseat around and laid out blankets in the back.  The kids had a blast.  I didn’t have to worry about where to feed the baby.  Best of all we got to spend some time together snuggling and it gave us a great memory.  Your kids only stay little for a short time.  Make as many amazing memories as you can!

Tips for Packing for Kids

Packing for children can be quite tedious and leave you questioning every choice. You don’t want to be bogged down by heavy luggage but you also do not want to be stuck without a spare outfit when you need it most. The first step to deciding how many outfits your child needs is to figure out what their normal daily needs are at home. Do they get dirty a lot? Are they toilet trained? Then consider where you are going and what your activities will be. Will you be outside? Any special outings that require a nicer option? What will the weather be like? Do you need to layer to accommodate changes throughout the day?

My oldest child is 15 so her needs are similar to an adult. I tell her if there is weight/space limitations. She typically brings an outfit for each day of a short trip plus a couple extra options. She may wear jeans or shorts more than once if it’s a city or mostly indoor trip. She will bring one nicer outfit to change into before a nicer dinner or outing. She will bring an extra swimsuit and sundress. Teens are capable of packing their own bags with little to no guidance. Travel is a learning experience. Packing and planning ahead is part of that learning. Make sure to give your teen ample time. When a teen makes poor choices, fails to plan, or waits until the last-minute, you must decide if you are going to bail them out or use it as a learning experience.

Children between 5 and 12 need more guidance. They can and should help with planning and packing for their personal needs. I tell my 6-year-old where we will be going and what type of outfit that requires for each day. She lays out her choices and I check to see if they are appropriate. I pack the good choices. I explain why inappropriate choices will not work and give her a chance to try again. Set very clear limits on toys. This may include the number of items, the size/weight of the toy, if it’s an electronic toy, if it needs to be quiet, and the space within the bag that can be allocated to toys. You may need to offer guidance and supervision depending on your child’s personality, age, and level of experience with these sort of tasks.

Babies through preschool age children require more thought into what to pack. How much to take will really be child dependent. A baby with reflux or frequent diaper blowouts will take extra planning. Can extra bibs help offset some of the need? Do not forget to take this into consideration when packing for yourself. I carry an old shirt for myself in the diaper bag at all times since I had the pleasure of driving home in a sports bra after a diaper blowout in a baby carrier at a park. Assume that a toddler and preschooler will get dirty or wet if the opportunity presents itself. You can let toddlers and preschoolers help by choosing between two items or by handing you things. You can also give preschoolers the ability to pick out favorite clothing pieces to build an outfit around. The more involved they are at this age the more independently they can pack later.

We aim for a couple extra outfits per week/trip for school age children and 1-2 extra outfits per day for babies through preschoolers. There are ways to work these extra items in without feeling like you have majorly over-packed. I typically pack 1-2 extra sundresses for my girls when going someplace warm because they are lightweight options. A swimsuit top can be worn in a pinch. I pack comfortable clothing to use as pajamas that can double as regular clothing in case of emergency. This is my go to for short trips and camping. Do you need your kids to be clean for dinner but don’t want to pack a ton of extra clothing? Consider having them wear the next days clothing to dinner. This has worked for us for normal dining options many times. Casual dresses and button downs with khakis can work on a child at nicer restaurants and still be comfortably worn for sightseeing. A clean onesie is all that’s needed for a baby in warm areas and a sleeper is acceptable in cooler ones. Babies are cute no matter what they are wearing so no need to stress over the perfect outfit for everything.

Beware of buying new clothing for little kids for a trip. It’s a lot of extra pressure. They may not like the way it feels. It may get dirty or even ruined. It may get lost. Remember that this is supposed to be enjoyable. Relax your standards a little. A stained shirt is not the end of the world. Let the kids be kids. Let things go so that you can enjoy yourself.

Reflections, Blessings, Truths, Dreams

This morning I had one of those rare quiet moments where the world is still, the constant mental hum of busy melts away, and I am able to reflect on life. It is in these moments that I have made the big decisions in my life, that I have figured out the answers to questions I’ve been turning over in my mind with such sudden clarity that there is no room for doubt, and that I have time to be thankful for all the blessings in my life. This morning I sat here reflecting as our six-year-old slept nearby and our newest tiny addition nodded while curled against my chest. I watched as the world outside slowly lightened with the rising sun. The fog started off thick, clinging to the trees, burning off as the world got brighter. It was a perfect moment.

This morning I thought about how unbelievably blessed I am. I have three healthy, beautiful daughters. I am healthy. I am married to a great man who I adore. I have a job that allows me to make a difference in the lives of others. I am financially stable and own my home. I have many amazing friends and family members in my life. We were able to open a new business this year. I am thankful for all these blessings and the many others not mentioned.

I also had time to consider what is next in my life. What do I want to work on? Are there any changes I need to make? Any truths I need to accept? Any potential I am ignoring? Any dreams I need to dedicate my little free time and energy toward achieving? Where do I hope to be in five years? Does anything need to change for me to get there?

The truth is I’m in a rut. I have become way too comfortable. I have grown to love parts of my comfort zone and feel trapped by others. The truth is I doubt and second guess myself too much. I waste too much time on silly, trivial things that don’t matter to me and then complain that I have no time. I watch too much television and I’m becoming addicted to Facebook scrolling. The truth is that this is my fourth blog. Each of them has helped me to find myself and attempt to develop my voice and writing style. When I start to find that voice it scares me so I fall back on fact based writing even though I want to write more emotionally driven inspirational posts. I want to put more passion into my writing. The truth is I take the easy road because I am afraid of what may happen if I push through. When I was young I was afraid of what others would think, how they may react. Now that I’m older I am more afraid of change. As I already stated above, I am blessed. My life is not perfect but it is good. What if I push through? If I give it my all, Am I more afraid of failure or success? The truth is I am afraid of what may change with either. If I succeed at my goals it will change me and my life. If I fail, I will lose the dream and it will change me. I know because both success and failure have shaped who I am. The truth is I am ignoring my dreams and failing to act out of fear. It is not just my writing that deserves more effort. I deserve more effort. If I wish to continue to grow toward where I hope to be in five years, I must come back out of auto-pilot and start putting the work in. Whether I succeed or fail, I must give all I have towards achieving my dreams because I will someday regret it if I do not. I don’t want to live with that regret. The truth is that it is easier to ignore my dreams. Fear, laziness and a million excuses could allow me to ignore them forever. I cannot keep ignoring my dreams. I am becoming stagnant in my comfort zone. It is time for a change. It is time for a new adventure. The truth is I am ready.