Make Road Trips With Kids Safe and Fun with These Five Preparations {Plus A DIY Interactive Travel Map}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelTheLove #CollectiveBias  Make road trips with kids safe and fun with these five preparations!

Make Road Trips with Kids Safe and Fun #FuelTheLove ad #CollectiveBias

Summer means road trips for a lot of families in America.  The roads are busy with families traveling to different destinations, family reunions, theme parks, and more.  Summer for us looks a little different, because this is Hubby's biggest time of the year.  He is a youth minister and spends a good amount of time traveling with his youth group, going to camps and service projects.  This also means that the boys and I are traveling a lot to spend time with Grammy and Grampy and our other family members while Daddy is away.

It's so important to have the van all ready to go before we leave.  Hubby and I work together to make sure these important tasks are done before we head out.

1.  Check tires, lights, and wipers to make sure they are road trip ready.  Doing this a few days before your trip makes your departure a lot less stressful!

2.  Buy or prepare a first aid kit in case of emergency.  Also, always have blankets handy in the cold weather, along with water, extra clothes, and plenty of snacks in case you are stranded on the side of the road for a while. 

3.  Check carseats, booster seats, and seat belts the day before you leave.  I always like to take the carseats out, clean them, have the kids sit in them and make sure the straps are adjusted properly, and reinstall them in the van.  Carseats should be comfortable for the kids, but the straps should be adjusted correctly and snug enough to actually protect the kids in case of an accident.

4.  Organize all DVDs, tablets, games, and any other suppies your child may need before you leave.  Make them easily accessible so they don't need help reaching things.  Pinterest has a lot of great ideas for this!  Keep in mind that it is good to have everything anchored down in case of a car accident.  Anything that isn't secured to the car will fly and become dangerous in an accident.  

Have LOTS of fun activities handy and available for kids to grab without unbuckling their carseats.  I created this quick DIY interactive travel map for the boys to be able to visualize our trip and see how much further we have to travel.  I just printed out a map of our trip and taped it to a cookie sheet.  Then, I printed out a picture of a van and the names of a few towns we would be going through.  I then attached all of the printouts to a magnet strip so the map can be interactive and the pieces can be movable.  You could do this with states, landmarks, directions, and more.

DIY Interactive Map for Kids #FuelTheLove ad

The Captain, 6, loves to read signs and ask about towns, cities, distances, directions, and more, so this project is perfect for him.  He can label the town when we get to it, or plan out the trip.  He can match the town name to the one on the map, too.  He loves moving the car to our current destination!

DIY Interactive Map for Kids #FuelTheLove ad

5.  Have your car's oil changed before you leave on your trip.  This is so important and so, so easy at Walmart.  They have a great Automotive Care Center that will do everything to prepare your car's engine for the road. Their trained employees will make sure your car is taken care of and will help you select the oil that is right for your engine.  And the best part is that you can drop your car off, shop for your road trip essentials, and pick up your car when you are done.  It's so easy and convenient!

When we drove up to the Auto Care Center, we saw a sign that helped us make our decision as to which Pennzoil oil to use.  

  • Conventional Motor Oil – Good (yellow bottle)
  • High Mileage Vehicle – Better (goldish/brown bottle – suggested when car milage is above 75,000)
  • Platinum (synthetic motor oil) – Best (silver bottle – Now made from natural gas)

Make Road Trips with Kids Safe and Fun #FuelTheLove ad

Since our van has over 75,000 miles, we went with "Better" for high mileage vehicles.  The Auto Care Center specialist quickly came to our car and asked a few questions, including what oil we would like.  She was very friendly and answered any questions we had about the oil change.  We left the keys in the van and unloaded the family to go inside and shop for our road trip.  When our van was finished, they called our name over the speaker and let us know it was ready.  When we were ready, we paid for our groceries and went back to the Auto Care Center to pick up the van.

Make Road Trips with Kids Safe and Fun #FuelTheLove ad All of the staff in the Auto Care Center were very knowledgeable and friendly.  The checkout was quick and easy and we didn't have unhappy kids waiting around while the van's oil was changed.  

Make Road Trips with Kids Safe and Fun #FuelTheLove ad

I know I can trust the Auto Care Center at Walmart for our road trip preparation.  And the best part is Pennzoil oil changes at Walmart are on Rollback through September 9th.  

  • High Mileage $35.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $39.88. {Industry standard price is $46}
  • Platinum Full Synthetic $45.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $49.88. {Industry standard price $66}

Pennzoil motor oil for high mileage vehicles is great because:

  • They help clean out sludge that other oils leave behind.
  • Designed for complete protection
  • Will allow you to drive an extra 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine
  • Provides the best protection from friction
  • Helps to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage vehicles
  • Pennzoil offers a free warranty that covers 15 engine parts that may fail due to engine wear or friction.

We are ready for our summer road trips with these five easy preparations!  


How do you make sure your road trips with kids are fun and safe?

Tips for Medication Safety with Kids

It is definitely cold and flu season. So many of my friends and family members have been sick already, we are just trudging along, trying to avoid sickness. The boys are both loving berries right now…blueberries and blackberries specifically…and they love to take their vitamins and drink orange juice, so that's a start. We're trying to keep our hands washed, which is difficult when it's so cold and our hands are dry, but we're trying!

But what happens when our kids DO get sick? We turn to medicine to help ease the symptoms of the common cold or to cure strep throat. I know there are many differing opinions on giving kids medicine. I have some friends who avoid antibiotics and other medications at all costs. I believe you have to weigh the pros and cons of each medicine and, along with your doctor, make the best choice for each child. But when you make that decision, here are some tips to keep in mind to be safe when giving your child medication:

  • Read the label.  This is obvious, but important for so many reasons.  You must know the amount to give (for weight, NOT for age) and time in between doses.
  • Read the ENTIRE label.  A friend of mine recently said that she saw some cold medicine that was "for ages 4 and up" but when she looked at the back, it said "consult a doctor" for age 4 and then gave appropriate dosing for ages 6 and up.  Misleading labels are everywhere and we as parents have to go the extra mile to read the entire label and spend the extra time to keep our kids safe.
  • Check for allergens before you buy the medicine.  The Captain is allergic to penicillin and while our doctor is good at checking when prescribing antibiotics, I still double check before buying the medicine, especially if it is a new medicine.
  • Follow the rules.  If the label says "not for kids under 4" do NOT give them the medicine without strict instructions from a healthcare professional.  There is a reason for that warning label and though it is rare, accidents do happen.
  • Keep a log.  When we were houseparents at a children's home, we were required to write down every medication we gave to the kids, whether it was OTC or prescribed.  Of course we didn't like this chore, but it was necessary when you had eight boys in the house.  We could also go back and check to see the time we gave it and this also made us check the label for appropriate dosing.  I'll admit that I don't keep a good log and there are times I second guess myself.  Just jot down the time and amount given and you'll thank yourself when it's 2 AM and you're brain is foggy.
  • Make sure the entire dose is taken.  This is a hard one.  Even when the medicine is "flavored," it oftentimes doesn't taste good, especially when you're sick, but it's essential.  And if some spills on the floor, don't try to guess and make up for it because you could overdose.  Call a pharmacist to know what exactly to do.  If you need some tips, check out this post for getting your sick kids to cooperate.
  • Homeopathic is not always safe.  I have friends that have completely stopped using any and all medicines that aren't homeopathic.  This is completely fine and a personal choice.  The boys and I have been taking homeopathic cold and cough medicine and it really does work.  I like it because it doesn't make me absolutely crazy because I'm highly sensitive to medicines and their side effects.  Homeopathic medicines also are some of the only medications you can give to younger children safely…BUT…and I cringe when I hear people say that they feel safe having homeopathic medicines around the house because they can't hurt kids.  Homeopathics are safe when given appropriately, but we must not become lax and think that if our kid drinks a half of a bottle of homeopathic cough medicine or gobbles up a container of homeopathic teething tablets that they are "fine."  And sometimes, they are not tested or regulated like other OTC medicines, so just please, please be careful when administering homeopathics and other medicines.
  • Properly dispose of all unused medication.  If medication is expired or not needed, check out the link for how to properly dispose of it!  This helps keep not only the kids in your family safe, but other kids and adults, as well.
  • Stay up to date with any and all medication recalls with RecallsPlus.  Instantly be notified of medication recalls!

Do you have any other safety tips for kids and medicines?


Stay Updated on Recalled Christmas Gifts with Recalls Plus (FREE!)


We have been very blessed this year and the boys have a lot of STUFF.  Toys, food, candy, ride-ons, carseats, etc, etc….there is just no way I can stay up to date on all of the recalls that happen daily by checking out manufacturers’ websites and subscribing to email lists.  Most of the time, I notice a recall weeks or even months after it happens and that is frustrating.  Unless it’s a MAJOR recall that affects the health of a lot of people, there is a delay in when I actually hear about it and can take action by removing the toy or tossing the food product.

We recently found out that the Captain is allergic to pecans and walnuts.  A lot of things we eat contain these nuts, so it’s helpful to know if a product contains them.  A lot of times products aren’t properly labeled and need to be recalled because they contain allergens that weren’t known to begin with.  I LOVED hearing about Recalls Plus because it’s a simple app that immediately alerts you to any and all recalls.  You can specify what recalls you want to know about.  Of course, we want to be notified of recalls pertaining to products containing tree nuts, so that’s already on my “Watch List.”


You can also add ages of children, companies, and more to your list.  So, if you’re only buying Graco products, you won’t be notified with every Britax recall there might be.  I love this aspect of Recalls Plus!

Features of the Recalls Plus App include:
• Proactively delivers timely recall alerts for the items on your Personal Watch List (a personalized list of the brands and products that you wish to monitor)
• Hand curates every product and food recall directly from government agencies (CPSC, NHTSA, FDA, USDA) for relevance to children and consolidates them in one place
• Provides parents a simple, easy-to-use solution to track recall information and instantly share it with family and friends

Recalls Plus tracks recalls issued by four Federal agencies in the US:

• Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
• Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Download Recalls Plus for FREE at the Apple Store, Google Play, or Facebook.
**Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 Carseat is For Birth Through Age 2! #GracoSafety


Recently there was a Graco Safety party in DFW to announce the awesome new Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 carseat to a few bloggers.  I was unable to attend the local #GracoSafety party like I had planned, but thanks to my sweet mother-in-law and blogger friend, Staci, from 7 on a Shoestring, we received this awesome Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 carseat to review:


 This is the only carseat that provides rear-facing protection for babies from birth to 2 years old.  This carseat easily grows with babies from four pounds up to forty pounds and allows children to stay rear-facing longer, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The AAP says that babies are five times safer when rearfacing than forward facing in a carseat until at least age 2.

The boys had a great time snapping in their "Baby" properly:



I was curious as to the height limit of the carseat, and I quickly found it in the owner's manual.  Kids MUST be 35 inches or less in height, as well as weigh between 4 and 40 pounds.


My favorite part of the SnugRide Click Connect 40 is the head support height adjustment.  As Baby grows, simply raise the head support.  It's super easy to do and you don't have to worry about taking out straps and such.



The carseat base is fairly simple to install, as well.  I just follow the easy directions in the manual and secured the base in with the seatbelt:


I didn't get a picture, but the front of the base has a slide out "tray" where your child can place his or her feet and keep your seat clean.  I thought this was a great idea, as Baby D always gets dirt on his seat!

This is what the carseat looks like, installed with the base, on it's maximum height head support setting:


It is very roomy!  Baby D, however, refused to sit in it when I was taking pictures, so I can't actually show you that he fits in it, but he does!  I will say that he has a big head (no really, he does!) for his age, as big heads run in our family, so he isn't as comfortable in this seat as your average 22 month old, I'm fairly certain.  I do feel comfortable putting him in this seat and know he would be safe and secure!  However, this particular carseat is going to our precious little niece who is making her appearance by the end of the year, hopefully!

I also LOVE how this Graco carseat clicks in with any Graco stroller.  So if you already have one, like I do, all you have to do is click the seat in and you're good to go!

The carseat we received was the Mena print and the other option is Moonstruck:


The Graco SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 – the first and only newborn to two-year infant car seat that actually grows with your baby from four pounds all the way up to 40 pounds. The car seat is designed for a parent on the go. The infant car seat can be easily removed from the base and used as a carrier when the infant is small, providing portability and convenience so you can easily move your infant in and out of the car without disturbing them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made the recommendation to keep all children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. Graco set out to make this product so parents can keep infants rear facing longer while still keeping them comfortable.

To learn more about the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 carseat, visit  This carseat can be found at Babies R Us or Toys R Us for $219.99.

Connect with Graco on Facebook and Twitter for more information on this and other Graco products!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graco. The opinions and text are all mine.


Save Face, Wear a Helmet

We bought Captain Fussybuckets his first bike at a garage sale last Fall.  It came with training wheels, but no helmet.  We knew the importance of wearing a helmet when cycling, even if the training wheels were still on.  It's important to get into that habit, for sure.  So, Grandma bought the Captain a helmet for either his birthday or Christmas of last year, I don't really recall.  But, he's been wearing the helmet each and every time he rides his bike outside, and most of the time when he rides his bike inside.  (Yes, I let my child ride his bike inside!  We have a big room for the youth group and the couches are pushed to the wall and it's the perfect place for the boys to ride their bikes, cars, Plasmacar, etc.)  


always wear your helmet!

Well, on Monday, we decided to take advantage of the cooler morning temperature and take a family walk to the park.  The Captain rode his bike and wore his helmet, Daddy pushed Baby D, and I walked alongside of them.  On our way back from the park, we stopped at a stop sign and the Captain was getting a little hot, so he took off his helmet.  We were almost home, so he asked if he could ride with it off.  Daddy quickly told him no, that he had to leave it on to be safe, and without a fuss, he put it back on.  Thank goodness, because about one minute later, he took off as fast as he could, lost control of the bike, and flew forward, falling with the bike.  (Yes, you can still fall using training wheels!)  Daddy ran to pick him up and he was crying and complaing about his finger and thumb hurting, which we looked at them at they were a little scraped.  Then he grabbed his head and we took off his helmet and saw this:


with helmet

Yes, that tiny little mark on his forehead.  It looked better when I took this picture, but it was just a tiny little scrape from where the velcro UNDER the lining of the helmet scratched him.  The Captain had fallen ON his head when he fell off his bike and the helmet saved his face from a huge scrape and probably saved us a trip to the ER and/or a concussion.  He was riding pretty fast when he lost control.  

It doesn't look like much, but his helmet is beat up.  This definitely taught us a lesson because you know if the helmet looks this bad, his face would have looked a lot worse:


scratched helmet

Helmets are important, even if you're three and using training wheels!!  


Summer Safety

The Summer provides many new safety issues, especially concerning small children.  Here are a few helpful tips and links to articles that have helped me to think about ways that I can keep my children safe in the summertime!

Water Safety – It's obvious, but never let your child in any amount of water without an adult present.  No one should go swimming alone because muscle cramps and blackouts DO happen and it's better to swim in at least pairs.  Life jackets, floaties, and floatation devices are great, but don't rely on them.  And don't rely on other people to watch your child.  Swimming pools get busy and sometimes a drowning child can't be heard over the loud noise of the pool.  Take every second seriously when your child is in the water.  If you're thirsty for more water safety tips, check out Going Crazy!! Wanna Go??!!  where Janet, Child Safety Specialist, gives us her top tips for water safety!

Water Park/Amusement Park Safety – These attractions are insanely popular, even in the hot temps.  It is a good idea to put your cell phone number ON your child, like with a Tig Tagz wristband.  Kids can disappear in the blink of an eye and then freeze up when a stranger asks their name, let alone their address or phone number.  Teach your child to find a mom with kids, a policeman, or a park employee if they're lost.  The person should find the wristband with their number and you could be reunited faster than if they were to wait around for you to find them.  

Safety In The Heat – Here is a great post written by MamaNYC on the Going Crazy!!  Wanna Go??!! blog.  In addition to this, remember to keep little ones hydrated because if they're playing and having fun, especially in water, they probably won't think about the fact that they are thirsty.  And remember that we all need more than water, especially if we're sweating a lot.  Sports drinks are good, if you can find some without high fructose corn syrup.  Other great, natural options for replacing electrolytes are:  bananas, coconut water, watermelon, or you can make your own replenishing sports drink with this recipe:  1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 Tbsp sugar, and mix with 1 liter of water.  Also, remember that sunscreen is ALWAYS a must!

Lawnmower Safety – I see it all the time.  Parents or grandparents out on the riding lawnmower with their child on their lap.  Sure, it's fun and an easy way to keep tabs on your child while you're doing lawnwork, but please consider this:  the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that about 17,000 children require care in the emergency room each year because of lawn mower accidents.  That is not riding lawnmower specific, but I hear about accidents and even deaths of children who have fallen off riding lawnmowers or who have been ran over with a riding lawnmower.  PLEASE be safe and know that accidents happen.  Riding on the lap of a person on a lawnmower is bouncy and loud.  You never know when your child is going to jump or fall off.  It is the absolute best option to keep children inside with an adult when operating any kind of mower or machinery.  And for a step further, tell children the seriousness of lawnmowers and help them to realize they must never go near a lawnmower.  And let Grandma and Grandpa know, too, that you don't want your child near a lawnmower.

Carseat Safety – Lastly, I think we as parents tend to become lax in the hot summer months.  Some parents might choose to let the child ride in a lap or in the seat without a seat belt if the carseat is hot or "we're just driving around the corner."  If a child is in a moving vehicle, they MUST be restrained properly.  There are many affordable options to safely restrain your child in a car.  Here is a carseat that is good for 10 years and good up to 120 pounds! You don't have to spend the big bucks to get the best seat, either, as all carseats have to pass certain standards, so lack of money should never be an excuse.  There are also agencies that will help provide carseats for those in need.  Also, never buy carseats at garage sales, because most of the time they're out of date and could have been in a crash, in which case, need to be thrown away.

Each state and country has it's own carseat safety laws.  Since I live in Texas, I'll share with you the Texas recommendations from the Texas DPS website:  

Phase 1 – Rear-Facing Seats – Infants, Babies, and Kids should ride rear-facing as long as possible, up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat.  

I know three year olds and even older kids who still ride rear-facing.  It is truly the safest option, and many carseats have high rear-facing height and weight limits.  The old thought of "one year and 20 lbs" no longer holds water.  Rear-facing is always safest if you're within the limits of the carseat.  Don't be in a hurry to turn your child around.

Phase 2 – Forward-Facing Seats – When children outgrow the rear-facing height and weight limits of the CARSEAT, they should ride in a forward-facing carseat for as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of the harness.  Most forward facing carseat harnesses have weight limits of 40-80 lbs.  NEVER turn a child forward-facing before one year AND 20-22 lbs, but like I said previously, rear-facing is always best if you're within weight and height limits of the carseat.

Phase 3 – Booster Seats – After age 4 and 40+ lbs, children can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult belt will fit them properly.  (Usually when the child is 4'9" tall.)  You MUST have a lap/shoulder belt to use a booster seat.

Phase 4 – Adult Safety Belt – Once children outgrow their booster seat (usually at 4'9", 100 pounds), they can use the adult safety belt if it fits them properly.  Lap portion low over the hips/tops of thighs and shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and center of the chest.

Get more tips for choosing a carseat from the Naptime Is My Time blog!