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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Silent Sunday

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dear So and So...Off To Tennessee

Dear Drivers Of Charleston,

I know we are in the south of the USA, and life is a little slower around here, ya'll, but OMGoodness can we at least go the speed limit. My 30 min drive from the beach to my parents house took me almost an hour due to you lot. Going 5 MPH under the speed limit is permitted during rush hour traffic and lunch traffic. Going 10 MPH under the speed limit will get your rear end run over (in my mom's snazzy Toyota Prius)(YES, A PRIUS WAS TRYING TO GO FASTER THAN YOU!!!) Get a move on for the love of all that is good in this world.

It's The One On The Right, That Lady Behind You Giving You the WTH Arm Movements

Dear Granny,

I am so so so sad that you had to put Henry, your beloved dog of 12 years, to sleep yesterday. He was so much a part of this family and I will miss him terribly, but not nearly as much as you and PaPa will. I know that he is in a better place, but my heart still hurts thinking about him not being at your house.

Love you Forever, Kat

Dear City of Chattanooga,

Brace yourself, KiKi and LaLa are going to land in your vicinity tomorrow around noon. Brace yourselves.

Fair Warning, Kat

Dear Whichever Kid Rides to Chattanooga with Your Grandfather,

Let's keep the complaints to a minimum, watch your movie, and try to limit bathroom breaks. You do know that he will push it to the last available second before he stops to pee and you have about 2.5 seconds to pee before he leaves, right?

Well Trained, Mom

Dear Readers,

If you have letters, don't forget to link up!! I can't wait to read them all when I get to my grandparents house in Chattanooga. It will give me something to do, since apparently most of my family there will be out of town while I am there *sulks*. I hope you all have a good weekend. Remember, don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Love, Kat

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Flying With Children- Things To Bring

My children have been taking flights with me since they were babies. My oldest daughters first flight happened when she was three months old (she is now seven years old). She was a champ on the flight. I was amazed at how well she did. She still is a great flier, but it takes a lot of prep work to make things go smoothly with even the best of child travelers.

Here is a list of things you need for flying with children.

1. Gum or a bottle/breast (for babies) to help stablize air pressure when the plane takes off and lands. When my daughter was really little I made sure I was feeding her on the way up and on the way down. The swallowing and sucking helped ward off any uncomfortable pressure in her ears during the assent and decent in the plane. A pacifier/dummy can also help with this, but some kids don't take them. Gum can be used for older children, but make sure it stays in their mouth unless they want a homemade haircut when they get to the ground.

2. Blanket and pillow. A good majority of the time, the hum of the airplane's engines will make my kids sleepy. So it is always good to have a soft place for them to put their head. Also, airplanes tend to be cold so a blanket is nice. Sometimes airlines provide blankets and pillows, sometimes for free, sometimes for a charge.

3. A portable DVD player/iPad. I have always found that the kids are never EVER interested in the kids movies that the airlines provide. Either they have already seen it or it is too old for them (geared towards teens and not children). If you don't have your own device and can't afford one, go beg a friend to borrow theirs. It will save your life.

4. Some sort of way to color. I used to bring crayons and coloring books for my kids so that my kids could draw and color while they were traveling. Now, I have my iPad and an app for that. Crayons work just fine, but they tend to get dropped under the seats and then you have to hunt them down. They work, but can be a pain sometimes.

5. A cuddly toy. Having a familiar face from home helps to calm nerves. Just make sure to remember the cuddly friend when disembarking the plane.

6. Headphones that fit your child's ears. The airlines headphones are meant for adult heads and don't exactly fit little ones. Once my eldest child spent an 8 hour flight with her hands over her ears holding her headphones to her head so that she could listen to music and watch movies on the plane.

7. Books. It is a good way to get an older child to sit still. Give them a book and ask them to read to you.

8. Nintendo DS/Leapster/handheld gaming system- Once again, if you do not have one and can't afford one, go beg one off a friend. They are a life saver. When all else fails, kids will usually sit still to play their video games.

9. Extra snacks. My kids NEVER eat the food that is served on the planes. The dinners don't even try to look appitizing to kids, so my kids generally only eat the dinner roll. I make sure I always carry a few packages of snacks that I know that they will eat. Don't bring fresh fruit or veg though unless you want to get a fine when going through customs when flying internationally.

10. Bring your sense of humor. Don't be in a hurry. Try to have fun. Relax if you can. It is going to be a long day, but it doesn't have to be stressful. Remember a few hours of planning beforehand can save you a lot of grief on the day.

Do you have any other suggestions for things to bring on the plane to make traveling with children any easier?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Military Space A Travel w/ Kids

Unfortunately the military doesn't pay extremely well, even when you live overseas. So, flying home to the states is very rarely within our budget. However, the military thankfully does not leave us to fend for ourselves when it comes to transcontinental travel. They offer what they call Space A travel on military cargo planes for service members and their families. It is really very handy, but extremely unpredictable.

The first obstacle is that you have to have command sponsorship when traveling, which means going through the appropriate channels to get a letter saying "yes, they can travel on the plane". It isn't really a big deal, but something different then you would have to deal with when flying a commercial jet. Then the second problem is that you don't know when a plane is leaving until 3 days before it leaves. On top of that you don't know if you will actually get on the plane due to the fact that you don't know how many seats will be released on the flight and how many other people will show up for the flight. Then on top of that all the passengers are ranked based on priority to get onto the flight. It is a rigmarole, but it is FREE.

Last Sunday I found out that a plane was leaving for Tampa, Florida on Tuesday of that week. So, of course, even though school wasn't exactly dismissed for the summer holidays, I decided to try to take the flight. Executive decision. I mean really, what do kids usually do the last week of school? Report cards are already finished.

We showed up Tuesday morning at 6:30 and by 7AM we found out that we had indeed made the flight. I can't believe our luck! I have known people to show up three or four times before actually making it onto a Space A flight.

We got driven in a bus across the flight line (tarmac) to the KC-130 that would be taking us to Tampa. This was a tanker aircraft that refuels other planes mid-air. Our seats were jump seats situated on the side of the plane, made of nylon canvas with a nylon cargo like net for the back. They were actually a TON more comfortable than standard plane seats because we could stretch our legs out in front of us. Kind of like having a hammock to sit in for the entire flight.

Since the plane was mostly empty there was a large gap in the middle of the plane. The children on the flight were allowed to sit down on the floor and play with their toys or stretch out to take a nap. Some of the kids actually pulled out washable markers and were drawing pictures on the floor of the plane and then washing it off with baby wipes. There was also a lady who had a yoga mat and a sleeping bag who slept on the floor for the entire flight. The only downfall to the whole situation was that my feet were freezing cold due to the altitude of the flight and the heater at the top of the plane only reaches so far. A minor complaint really. Remember, this was a FREE flight.

The crew of the plane was amazing with the children as well. They took every single child on the flight (and some of the parents) up into the cockpit of the plane to look out the windows and then down to the place were they lay down in the back of the plane to look out of the window where they refuel fighter jets. My kids thought this was the coolest thing ever. Mind you, these were airmen who were returning from being deployed for 60 days who took time out of their day to show the children on the flight some of the cool things about the plane. These guys were amazing.

I have to say, as long as my family is allowed to use Space A travel, we may never make another commercial flight again. It was so much more relaxed and comfortable. I didn't feel restricted on the plane. My kids were made to feel special and not like they were a burden on the flight. Well done USAF, you know how to treat your passengers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dear So and So...Jet Lagged

Dear Readers,

I would like to take this opportunity to warn you that half of these letters may not make sense because I am so jet lagged that my brain isn't functioning at full capacity. I literally just waited a minute before starting the second sentence because that is how long it took my brain to catch up.

Apologies, Kat

Dear USAF flight crew from England to USA,

Thanks for being amazingly awesome and accommodating on our flight over here. I can't believe how much nicer it was to fly on a military plane instead of a commercial plane during a transatlantic flight. You have no idea how invaluable you service was to my family. I can't wait until I have the time to write a proper post about the experience.

You Guys Are Amazing, Kat

Dear Jet Lag,

You stink. I have spent all day in a complete fog and my brain literally HURTS. I can barely form a thought, my patience is short and my attention span is non existent. It made for some really interesting driving of my mom's new car to say the least. Please be gone tomorrow. I can't handle this for a third day. Wait...will it be 3 days? Crap my days are blending together.

Yeah Just Go Away, Kat (the lady in the fog)

Dear Mom,

Don't worry I won't wreck your new car. Well, not intentionally.

Love, Kat

Dear People of Wal-Mart,

During my pilgrimage to your mecca of consumerism heaven I couldn't help but notice a good few of you need a bath. A good scrubbing. Maybe with steel wool. Mind you I wasn't looking my best (see letter to jet lag), but at least *I* had an excuse. What was yours?

Regards, Kat

PS- Clothes that actually fit your body and cover up a bit of skin would be the next step after the bath.

Dear Readers (again),

If you have a letter don't forget to link up! Can't wait to see them.

Love, Kat

Monday, July 18, 2011

John Lewis Christmas in July

Vintage and Tech is where it is going to be this Christmas according to John Lewis. At their Christmas and July event a week ago I had the opportunity to preview some of the new items that are going to be available in the stores at Christmastime. Let me say, you will not be disappointed. There were gadgets and gidgets a plenty...

Look at this cool cordless phone by ePure!!

Some of my favorite items to look at though were the toys of course. This is what I am mostly going to be buying at Christmas and it was nice to see what was going to be new to the market. My kids are really into technology and Lego and I was not disappointed by what I saw at the event. There were a lot of toys by Vtech that are going to be offered at John Lewis this season. One of the toys I was the most excited about was the InnoPad by VTech. It looks kinda like my iPad, which my kids are always fighting over, and since it is by VTech I know it is educational. I have always had a good experience with VTech toys because of their durability and I would be much less nervous with my kids playing with their own tablet computer than playing with mine.

This is definitely going on the Santa list!

Another two items that are going directly onto the Santa list are the Lego Sort and Store and the Lego USB Drive. Both of these items are incredible! When you tip your Legos into the Sort and Store it sorts them into small, medium and large bricks. How incredibly cool is that? It will definitely make large Lego projects a lot easier. USB Drive is for the kid (and geek) in all of us adults. It is shaped like a Lego man and his little legs come off to reveal a USB plug that will go right into the side of your computer so that you can store and share files. Genius!

I may have squealed a bit when I saw these.

Now I just can't wait until September when these items will be hitting the John Lewis shelves so that I can snap them up before the Christmas rush. If you can't find them at your own local John Lewis, don't forget to check their online store where all the items will be available.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dear So and So...Summer Time!

Dear English Weather,

On Wed night LaLa had a baseball game and it was so cold that my toes turned blue. Yes, I may have been an idiot for wearing flip flops, but it is the middle of JULY. Frankly, I should be allowed to wear flip flops in JULY and not have my toes turn blue. Can we work on this please? Actually, I don't really care I will be leaving soon for warmer weather.

Wondering Where July Weather Went, Kat

Dear Google +,

I has only been a week and I am addicted. Well played, Google, well played.

Repeatedly Checking For Updates, Kat

Dear People Who Put Me In Circles On G+,

If I don't know straight off who you are you go in my "Don't know who the hell they are" circle. That circle doesn't get many of my updates unless I make them public. If you think you know me better than that, you should send me an email or something telling me who you are. Just sayin'

Slightly Confused, Kat

Dear John Lewis,

Your event yesterday was lovely and I really enjoyed myself. Can't wait to do a proper post about it!

Love, Kat

Dear House Elves,

You're fired.

Also, The Harry Potter series is over, so you are out of another job. Good luck in this economy.

Regards, Kat

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters, don't forget to link up! Have a lovely weekend and stay safe.

Love, Kat

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dear So and So...Little Ball of Stress

Dear LaLa,

When I tell you to quit horsing around at breakfast time I am serious. I don't know why you are so hyper in the morning, but goodness gracious child my brain can't cope. Please just sit there and eat your breakfast like a mindless zombie like other people in the morning. Or at least wait until I have had a cup of coffee before you kick off.

Love, Your Mother Who Is NOT A Morning Person

Dear Brain,

When you give me weird dreams don't expect me not to act on them.

Writing Furiously, Kat

Dear Sam Kitty (Ninja Cat),

When I pull into the driveway it is not a good time to run directly *at* the car. You see those big round black things? They're called tires and they will run you down. Mind you I wouldn't run you down on purpose, but running at the car is a bad idea. Bad bad bad bad idea.

Love, The Woman Who Feeds You

PS- You still haven't stopped that moaning meow that we talked about last week. We need to work on that, k?

Dear KiKi,

I know you're not really *that* "sick" but we all need mental health days off school. You're lucky I'm a softie.

Love, Mom
Dear PTA,

I think next year we need more worker bees and less queen bees if you're getting my drift. I know it is good to have a strong personality, but I think we all need to tone it down a bit and find one or two strong leaders. I think it would cut down on a lot of hurt feelings and miscommunication.

Just a thought, Kat
Dear Readers,

If you have any letters of your own, don't forget to link up!

Love, Kat

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Gallery- Grandparents

(My Grandparents and I in Trafalgar Square, London)

I never ever imagined that I would get to show my grandparents around a city outside the United States. It was just never something I ever thought would be possible. That's something that posh people do on holiday where I come from. It is funny how these things work out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chad Valley Toys "Design A Friend" Doll- Sneak Preview and Review

It isn't very often that I find a toy that isn't electronic that my children fight over. I was sent a doll made by Chad Valley Toys called a "Design A Friend" doll for my girls to preview. To be honest, I figured it would keep them occupied for about five minutes. I was wrong. This doll has become the item de jour at my house and provided hours of fun imaginative play for my daughters.

(LaLa with the "Design A Friend" doll in it's pretty pink box)

The "Design A Friend" doll is pretty fantastic. It comes in a nice fancy pink box, that makes the doll feel extremely special and in the box along with the doll is a small silver charm bracelet. The doll itself had thick hair, that actually feels like real hair. It honestly does not feel like the typical straw like doll hair that you find on most dolls. The clothes the Design A Friend doll comes in are very trendy and appeal to little girls. My girls especially like the shoes.

(KiKi holding my favorite blue shoes that came with one of the outfits)

(LaLa wearing the charm bracelet that came with the doll)

For the purposes of the review my daughters also received three other outfits for their new "Design A Friend" doll. Each outfit came with another charm for their bracelet. The charm was actually just an additional thing for the girls to squeal about when they opened each outfit. They were mesmerized by the fashionable clothes and shoes that came in each little pink box.

(two of the outfit packs, some accessories, and the outfit that came on the doll)

The girls also love the accessories that were available for the "Design A Friend" doll. They absolutely adored the gray headband, scarf and mitten set. However the most adorable moment that I saw was when LaLa grabbed the glasses put them on the doll and then said "She has glasses just like me!" I think that is the most fabulous aspect of this doll. Each child really can customize their doll to their own fashion sense.

("She has glasses just like me!")

We have had the "Design A Friend" doll now for over a week. The girls interest in the doll has not lessened at all. She has gone through more outfit changes and style revamps than I ever thought possible. The outfits are being mixed and matched depending on the mood of the child dressing her. The "Design A Friend" doll has been brought along to show and tell at school, shopping trips and baseball practices. LaLa relocated her other doll clothes and accessories to another bag in order to give the Design A Friend doll the most stylish of all her tote bags for her accessories and outfits.

(Very stylish in her gray outfit and accessories)

The "Design A Friend" doll will be in the new Argos catalog which hits the stores on the 30th of July. Each doll of the four dolls to choose from will retail for about £20 and will include the charm bracelet. A special offer will be a doll, an outfit and an accessory pack for £30 with 12 different outfits and 5 accessory packs to choose from. Each outfit comes with a charm for the charm bracelet.

*For the purpose of this review I was provided with a "Design A Friend" doll, three different outfits and two different accessory packs.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dear So and So...It's Gonna Be A Good Day Tater

Dear Lawnmower,

You are new and lovely and still in your box. Please don't be a pain the the backside to assemble. I really would like to get my grass in the garden cut at some point today. I don't want to be sitting on the pavement in the garden swearing at the top of my lungs at a gigantic hunk of metal. I would like to leisurely assemble you while bird chirp and bunnies hop around a modern day Snow White.

Lets Make it Happen, Kat

Dear Sam Kitty (aka. Ninja Cat),

What is up with this loud moaning meow that you have started doing lately. You sound like you are in heat...but your a dude cat who's missing his equipment. It doesn't make sense!! Please stop.

Love, The Lady that Feeds You

Dear Elizabeast,

I am so glad that you are feeling better. I didn't think your back/legs were ever going to heal up properly. I was serious looking into a wheelie harness thing for you if you didn't improve or got worse. Now you are well though and that is super great. Well, except for one thing. Can you please quit jumping on my sofas? Thanks in advance.

Love, That Lady Who Feeds You

Dear Friends Who Have Done Me Ginormous Favors In the Last Two Weeks,

Debbie, thanks for letting me borrow you lawnmower and watching my dog while I was down in London for the weekend. Seriously, you are worth your weight in gold and I owe you so big.

Kristie, My kids had a blast at your house and are still talking about it. Thank you so so so much. If you EVER need a baby sitter holler at me (Like when you have the movers at your house and you don't want kids under foot).

Sam (not the Kitty) You are awesome and you make a mean cup of tea when I need to have an emotional breakdown (like when people steal my things). Your hubby is also awesome since he cooked me dinner that night. I really cannot thank you guys enough.

I really do have wonderful friends. *sigh*

Love, Kat

Dear Ghost In My House,

Not. Cool. At. All. You just scared the bejebus out of me when you open and closed the cabinet. Stop that mess!! I know you're here. Just take a chill pill.

A Bit Freaked,Kat

Dear Readers,

I know you love me and want to link up today!!! Remember, your Dear So and So letters don't have to be mean they can be nice and lovely too. Sometimes it is nice to thank people. Have a lovely weekend.

Love, Kat