Travel Bag

Thanks for all the travel advice!  The most common tip was to buy or borrow a DVD player.  But…we are traveling through a really beautiful part of the country and I don’t want my kids to miss the scenery.  So, I am giving them all sketch books so that they can sketch elements from nature that they see along the way.  Of course the older boys can journal along with their drawings.  And then those journal entries can turn into educational family conversations.
Are you still reading?  Did you believe me?  Actually, I am not delusional enough to think that my kids are going to be “sketching” while we drive.  They are more likely going to be whining and needing to go to the bathroom.  Hopefully we can reach a middle ground between those two extremes.
I am in trip preparation mode and have been having a bit of fun pulling things together.  I am also doing unecessary things like sewing a pair of linen travel pants for myself when I really should be scrubbing the kitchen floor grout and the toilets.
We are on a tight budget so I can’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff to entertain the kids (although I will hit the dollar store maybe tomorrow) but I do have a pretty good stock of supplies already.  I always stock up on crayons and other art supplies when they are cheap just before school starts.
So far I have packed a pack of crayons for each kid (reinforced the box bottoms with packing tape), markers, colored pencils, stickers, notecards, and playing cards.  I am planning to get some new picture books from the library tomorrow and I had a really good time making a bunch of small coloring books for the kids.  They should keep Larkspur, especially, busy.
The coloring books have images on copy paper inside and a sheet of cheap cardstock on the outside.  I sewed the pages together to create the books.
I hadn’t done this before, so wasn’t sure how it would work out.  It actually worked perfectly!  I prefolded the inside pages (all together in one fold-not individually) and also the cardstock.  Jonny traced down the center line with a pencil on the inside page of each book to help me to sew a straight line (not my strong area).  I sewed down that line, backstitching on each end.
My kids, especially Larkspur, just don’t get sick of coloring THESE dolls. I use white out and a marker to make variations on the original.  I copied them at 60% so that I could fit two to a page for the coloring books.  I played around with the printer so that I had one on the front right side of the page, and then if you turn the page over, another on the back right side.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, it worked out so that when I stacked the pages and folded them, there is a picture on every right hand page.
I also wanted to make some even smaller coloring books, because I thought that would appeal to Larkspur.  So rather than using the full paged doll, I used the doll ornament file, and some white out to prepare to make some new characters to color.  Keats saw what I was doing and asked if he could draw some.  He came up with the cat/child hybrid above which I thought was especially creative.  I hadn’t intended to draw anything but more boys and girls.
So, inside these little coloring books are:
these two guys…
…and these two; all inspired by Keats’ drawing.  I think Larkspur will be really excited when she sees these.
Since Keats enjoyed creating his own characters so much, I made quite a few books with these incomplete dolls, so that the kids can create their own.  I am so thankful to Sarah, from The Small Object, for creating and sharing this great little drawing.
My kids can amuse themselves for at least a few minutes with foil stars and blank notecards, so those are in the bag.
I also laminated a bunch of Arthur Rackham art postcards really for no other reason than I just love them and wanted to laminate them anyway.  In my dreams my children would look at these while we are driving and make up stories to tell each other aloud to go with each picture.  In reality they will probably look at them for about ten minutes.
Since I was laminating already, I let the kids choose their favorites from a set of holy cards and laminate them as well.  They are very fascinated by that little machine.  Again, they probably won’t look through these while meditating or anything fabulous like that, but they will probably look at them for a few minutes and maybe fight over who picked which one and who should get to keep it.
And for insurance, we will have Jonny’s laptop which can play Baby Einstein DVDs for Beatrix.  She’s a bit young for t.v., but hopefully she will like them!


  1. Ginny, you are so creative!!!!! I want to color those dolls myself. I love to color even at age 34 : ) Have a great trip!!!

  2. Michelle, I answered you with another post 🙂

  3. You are BRILLIANT. I love this idea so much more than the DVD player I suggested! I'm eager to read about (and see?) what the kids do with their road time and how it works out!

  4. : )How long is your trip? I hope you're going somewhere fun and, dare I say it, a little relaxing? Somehow??Michelle

  5. Hi Michelle, I really appreciated your comment!

  6. I so, so loved and appreciated your first two paragraphs here! (And the rest of the post as well!) Yours is the first blog I read everyday. Wonderful pictures, wonderful ideas, and just enough not-so-wonderful days that I can relate completely. : )I really enjoyed your post about deciding to homeschool Keats this year. Gave me encouragement to face my own homeschooling endeavors. : )Michelle, Catholic homeschooling mom of four

  7. I got the baggies! Now if I can just get my house clean. Oh yeah, and pack. I need to pack too.

  8. LOVE your colouring books. They are priceless. Please take a lot of pics of the kids using them. I am sure they'll be whimsical.I was going to suggest ziplocks for the crayons, but someone beat me to it. (I always pack quite a few extra ziplocks of various sizes for the storing of miscellaneous things that seem to multiply during long car trips, along with a sharpie so people's bags can be labelled — because goodness knows we shouldn't get our loot mixed up with each other. These items nestle into the activity box pretty easily, so no additional space required.)

  9. Seriously? Seriously???Are you for real? I mean this with all due love and admiration of course:)But seriously you are who I want to be when I eventually grow up.Do you off seminars? Workshops? Hand drawn on organically grown paper straight from your garden manuals?Really?Much Love my dear!

  10. Hi- since you are going to the library anyway – get a couple of books on tape. You have to get the unabridged ones as they are easier to follow. My kids a spellbound by these. For some reason, listening as opposed to seeing the story, draws them in. We took a trip to Missouri and listened to a six hours story. They were quiet and mesmerized. Your kids may be a bit young but you can probably find a book that works for the boys.

  11. You are very prepared! I hope you have a great trip. I forgot to mention you can take a tape recorder and record various songs and stories, the kids enjoy hearing themselves when you play it back.

  12. You had me laughing there at the beginning! I can just see them all sitting in the back, sketching nature! Ah! (You'll have to wait for Bea to do that, following her namesake.) The rest of your post literally took my breath away. There has never been a mother more attuned to homeschooling than you! My only regret is that I can't drop off Anastasia and Zhen for your "Little Country School". I LOVE your coloring books! They are beautiful! Your idea of the art cards and holy cards are beautiful, too. I think that as a child I would have relished these. But I had no toys! Is there a way you could withold them and pass them out every so often as a reward for good behavior? I think that might a) make them seem more precious and b) encourage the more careful perusal of each one individually. That suggestion is in the category: Might work – Might not.My own "idscovery" regarding crayons is the efficacy of simply putting them in a zip lock freezer bag. That allows them to be stored, nicely; they sit on the table a bit better than the box without lling off; it is easy to see the crayons in there and get the one you want, and if it should fall on the floor and get stepped on (how could THAT happen?) the baag is still in tact.Have a lovely trip! I am sure they will all enjoy the nature.(In my childhood trips I did come to a realization that nothing soothed my soul like the Iowa countryside… children DO look.) However, I also remember fondly the challenge to find all the letters of the alphabet in signs.

  13. I always had the boys count the number of red cars or tractors or a particular type of tree (like a palm tree) and whoever comes up with the most won a dorky surprise. (This worked well until they got old enough to cheat! Of course I never saw them cheat but I had the distinct feeling they did.) This little game would keep them busy for quite some time and you can use your imagination on the possibilities of things to count. Count ambulances, schools, churches, you name it. But counting things gets them looking out the windows and watching the scenery. It worked for several years with my boys. Your coloring books are just so perfect! You have so many talents, Ginny. I would have simply purchased big Activity books at the dollar store and issued those to the kids. Your idea is way more creative and fun for the kids. But the bright idea of sewing them together was pure inspiration! I think I will make a few of these little books with blank pages and sew them up for Karishma, 9, (my Compassion child in India that I sponsor). Once a month I mail her a big letter with stickers and coloring pages, bookmarks, and anything else I can get my hands on. The gifts need to be paper or card stock and can't measure more than 1/8th of an inch thick. I could make her some and let her use them to write in or draw in or use as a place to keep the stickers. I have plenty of supplies for making these books. This month I sent her a thin book of paper dolls that she could cut out (or tear out) and "dress" the dolls. It also had a template in the back that she can use to design her own wardrobe for her dolls. I hope she knows how to use the paper dolls. That's kind of universal, isn't it? I sent her birthday money last month and requested they buy her crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Anyway to sew the book is a great idea. And I have a brand new sewing machine sitting in my closet that has never ever been threaded. Got it for Christmas a few years ago. This will give me a reason to figure out how to fill the bobbin and thread the machine. I used to know this stuff.Have a great trip!Marj

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