5 Games to Play in the Car

We have all been that parent on a long car trip listening to the incessant questioning: “Are we there yet? How much longer? When are we going to stop? I’m hungry!” Lord knows we heard them on our recent trip to New York City, and we will probably hear them a bazillion times more on our road trip to Florida this fall!

Although we do have a DVD player in the swagger wagon, we try to break the trip up with some non-screen time. I told my kids that “Back in the old days, we didn’t have DVD players in the car, so we had to rely on other games.” ;-) Here are some games to play in the car that can help distract your kids and give you a little time to yourself. You will probably recognize them from your own childhood!

5 Games to Play in the Car

  • Alphabet Game– I used to love playing this game with my sister! One child takes the right side and the other takes the left (if you have more than 2 kids, you could divide them into teams for right and left). The first child to find every letter of the alphabet wins. We used to add in a wild card: if you saw a white horse, you automatically won. Feel free to come up with your own wild card!
  • 20 Questions– This age-old game is always good for keeping kids busy! One child (or adult!) picks an item, and the rest of the group gets to ask twenty questions. After the twenty questions are answered, each person gets to guess the item. Whoever guesses right wins! With younger children it works best to limit the items to categories like animal, vegetable, etc.
  • The License Plate Game– We used to love this one too, and it’s good if you need a game that is going to last a long time! The goal is to spot a license plate from every state in the union. Whoever spots them all first wins! Here is a printable worksheet for the game that will help keep track of all of the license plates. It’s also great because it provides a visual picture of the license plate to help the kids easily identify each state.
  • The Story Telling Game-- One person starts off the story with a sentence, and each person adds another sentence until the story is finished. Get creative and silly with the stories! See how long you can make the story go on–to the next stop, next town, etc.
  • Name that Tune– Hit scan on your radio and randomly stop. Whoever guesses the artist wins! This one is obviously a little easier with older participants, but fun none the less!

What are YOUR favorite games to play in the car?



The Run Less, Run Faster Plan

I first heard about the Runner’s World Run Less, Run Faster plan from my friend Michelle over at For the Love of Running. She has used it for a number of marathon training cycles with great success. As I am eyeing a few fall half marathons; it’s time to pick a plan, and I think this is it. I will probably ending up tweaking it a bit, but at least I have a plan now!

Run Less Run Faster


The basis of the Run Less, Run Faster plan is that you only need to run three times a week. The key is that these three workouts are quality workouts. It’s not about the quantity of miles, but the quality of the workouts in this plan. Each week you have a speed workout, a tempo run, and a long run. I chose to buy the app available for iPhone which allows you to input a recent race time and your desired race date and length (plans run 16 weeks out). The app then produces a training plan based on the Run Less, Run Faster plan. The app is $2.99 and available in the App Store.

The Run Less, Run Faster plan arose out of research at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST). Researchers at FIRST sought ways to avoid the over training, injuries, and burnout that can accompany some training plans. As I’m getting older, I am realizing the value of avoiding injury and burnout. You no longer recover the way you used to when training hard. I have battled injuries in the past when I started training on more traditional plans, so I am anxious to see what happens with this one!

I am still firming up the fall racing schedule, but so far I am definitely running the ZOOMA Cape Cod Half Marathon (there will be at least one other half marathon!) and the Main Street Mile! Since my six-year old completed four weeks of track camp, he gets a free entry into the Main Street Mile. I told him we could run it together. I can’t wait! :-) He’s already improved so much over the past few weeks– oh to be young again…



Joovy Boob Baby Bottles – Perfect for Breastfeeding Babies!

Joovy Boob Baby Bottle System

Now that William is just shy of three months old, I have started pumping and making bottles for him to give me a little more freedom throughout the day! Don’t get me wrong–I love breastfeeding! It’s just nice to be able to go out for a few hours and not worry that he will get hungry when I’m gone. ;-) I discovered the Joovy Boob bottles at Baby Palooza when I was at Blogger Bash in NYC a few weeks ago.

joovy boob baby

When I had my first son, I was nervous about introducing a bottle– I was afraid that he would prefer the bottle over the breast. I was so relieved when he didn’t. It’s crucial to find a bottle/nipple system that is as close to the real thing as possible! I recently had the chance to try the Joovy Boob, and I have to stay, there were a number of things that really impressed me about the Boob Baby bottle system.

The first thing I noticed was that the base of the nipple is larger than other bottles–helping baby to “latch” on to the bottle in a more natural manner. The length of the nipple is perfect, and it comes in five different flow rate to accommodate baby as he/she grows. The nipples undergo an extra step of “baking” which prevents them from collapsing, while still retaining a softer texture. We started out with the three-month and under nipple and the 5 oz. bottle size.

joovy boob baby close up

The Boob Baby Bottle PPSU gift set that we received has (3) 5 oz. bottles, (3) 9 oz. bottles, one nipple each for stages 1 and 2, two nipples each for stages 0, 2, 3 and X, and a small and large bottle brush. Additionally there are two breast pump adapters, three sealing caps and six CleanFlow™ vents. I LOVE that the set came with breast pump adapters that work with Medela breast pumps (I have the Pump In Style). It’s so much easier to pump right into the bottle! 

joovy boob baby nipple close up

joovy boob baby insulated

The Joovy Boob Baby Insulated Cover on the 9 oz bottle

Speaking of bottles, the Joovy Boob bottles are made of polyphenylsulfone or PPSU. PPSU can be sterilized repeatedly, is BPA-free, phthalate-free, and lead-free. It does not absorb odor or either, so if you forget a bottle in your car on a hot day, you can throw it in the dishwasher (yes, they are dishwasher safe) and it will be as good as new! 

The one-piece CleanFlow™ venting system is also very cool– no gas for William while he was having his bottles! The vent fits perfectly on the bottle top, so you don’t have any leaking, and it’s easy to clean and replace. William is loving his new bottles, Dad is loving getting to feed William, and Mom is enjoying a little more freedom. I would say it’s a WIN-WIN-WIN. :-)

I received the Joovy Boob Baby Bottle PPSU Gift Set in for the purpose of this review. All opinions and writing are 100% my own. 



My July Stitch Fix!

My July Stitch Fix arrived on Wednesday, and I really liked the color scheme of this month’s fix–navy blue, coral, and aqua. I kept only one item from my last few fixes, but this month I kept two! I would probably have kept two more, but I didn’t want to blow my budget out of the water! ;-)

So, what did I get?

Pixley Kiera Nautical Studs copy

Up first is the Pixley Kiera Nautical Studs Set. The earrings were cute, and I love the nautical theme, but I really don’t wear earrings that much anymore (especially now that William is grabbing everything!).

Status: Sent Back

Market and Spruce Char Ikat Print Maxi Skirt

Next is the Market and Spruce Char Kat Print Maxi Skirt. I LOVE this skirt. I love the combo of the navy blue and coral, and it’s super comfortable for hot summer days. I actually changed into it the day I received it! I have always thought that maxi skirts look cute on others, but was hesitant to buy one for myself. I am glad this was in my fix, since I wound up loving it!

Status: Kept

Market and Spruce Camille Striped Pocket-Front Tank


I received another item from Market and Spruce, the Camille Striped Pocket-Front Tank. This tank was cute and very comfortable, and if I had an unlimited clothing budget, I would have kept it. I think it would look really cute with denim shorts.

Status: Sent Back

THML Abriana Geo Detail Shift Dress

I also received the THML Abriana Geo Detail Shift Dress. This dress looks super cute on the hanger, but it was just okay on me. Once again, I love the navy and coral color combination. I think the fit may have been a little off, because I am so busty right now. ;-)

Status: Sent Back 

41Hawthorn Berneen Printed Dolman Sleeve Top

The last piece in my fix was the 41Hawthorn Berneen Printed Dolman Sleeve Top in coral. I HEART this shirt in a major way. I received a dolman sleeve top in one of my other fixes, and it’s funny because I would never have picked that style out–something I have been loving about Stitch Fix. I think the dolman sleeve is a really flattering fit, and I love the geometric pattern in the shirt. It’s also a material that will travel really well and wash up nicely.

Status: Kept 

Overall, I am very happy with this month’s fix. I can’t wait to get the next one! If you want to sign up for Stitch Fix, click HERE for my referral link.



Dad on Duty ~ New York City with Kids

I am SO excited that this is the first post from my Super Dad husband, Clarke. He is going to contribute occasionally to 30 Something Mother Runner to share a dad’s perspective of parenting three crazy (and very lovable) boys! 

Last weekend I called upon my inner Clark W. Griswold, on a family trip to New York City.  I’d like to think that we outdid Chevy Chase and gang– by a long shot.  Driving to New Haven and taking Metro North into Grand Central is a breeze… ok, maybe all the passengers on our train car wouldn’t agree, but we made it down in one piece.

Early in the week I was psyching my 4 and 6 year olds up for the trip; my oldest son had been to NYC when he was 6 months, so essentially they’d be experiencing it for the first time. I described the huge buildings, the enormous Central Park, the plethora of playgrounds and museums, the Intrepid war ship. Apparently I sold it well, because my son said “New York is my second-favorite city, after Providence.” A kid after my own heart. I told him he might want to hold off on that designation until he actually saw the place!

We kicked off our tourist activities on Thursday evening with a small snack of grilled cheese and bacon with a side of waffle fries at a 24 hour diner. “You mean it’s open all day and all night?!” “Yep, this is the city that never sleeps.” “Awwwwesome!” My wife was at a conference, so I strapped my 2 month old on, and the 4 of us walked from the Penn Station area down to the beginning of the Highline Park in the Meatpacking District. If you’ve never been, and you appreciate urban public spaces, this is a must-see.

The Highline is a fantastic reuse of an abandoned elevated freight line, converted to a linear park taking you from 30th St. to Gansevoort St. along the West Side. There are views of the Hudson River and the sunset, and many other attractions. The landscaping and hardscaping are beautiful, the latter often referencing the previous use of the freight line . My kids got a kick out of the rails embedded in some of the walkways and the iron sculptures reminiscent of rail ties.  Numerous bars are scattered along the way, ranging from happy hour places, to taco stands, to shaved-ice bars.  We walked the entire park and back, no small feat for our group! At one point, I had the baby in the Ergo carrier in front and the 4-year-old on my back while I pushed the 6-year-old in the stroller!

Highline Park NYC

Highline Park

Highline Park

Highline Park

By the time we had dinner at the New York Burger Co. and made it back to the hotel, it was pretty late.  By the time the kids actually stopped talking and fell asleep on each other in their double bed, it was even later.  We definitely embodied the city that never sleeps motto!

Friday was our big day– Jessica took the littlest man to her conference, which left me and the older boys to do our thing.  Tons of stuff to see, not enough time to see it… so what do we do first?… struggle to get out of bed, get coffee and pastries in the lobby, take forever to get dressed and ready to go, and finally leave the hotel by 10:30.

We jumped on the C train up to the American Museum of Natural History to see some dinosaurs.  My 6-year-old pointed me to the correct platform to head uptown, and both boys enjoyed their first subway experience.  The museum was crowded with kids camp groups and… tourists (freakin’ tourists), but eventually we were on our way through the expansive building.

boys at american museum of natural history

At the American Museum of Natural History

I decided at the start that regular tickets were enough– no need to spring for the special exhibits. Of course the kids got a glimpse of the signs for the special exhibits – live spiders, and sharks – and continuously asked when we could go see them.  I decided that rather than spend another $30 and wait in the long line again to get tickets, I’d barter with them for an alternative.  Thirty dollars and two happy kids later, we left the gift shop to go find some lunch…

Exploring Central Park

Exploring Central Park

We found a nearby deli and brought steak and cheese subs (sorry New Yorkers, should I say heros?), then walked over to Central Park for a picnic.  The kids found a somewhat private spot on a secluded rock outcropping, and we had a nice lunch.  Shortly thereafter, my 4-year-old informed me he needed to do a number two… AWESOME.  Luckily I kept the museum tickets, so we zipped back over to the museum for our best bet at a clean public restroom.  Tip to future NYC-traveling parents: the entrance fee to a museum is worth the price of admission when your little kid has to take a deuce and you’re nowhere near the hotel!

Belvedere Castle

After eating, we set off to find the castle – Belvedere Castle to be exact.  No princes or princesses, but the narrow staircase climb to the terrace and the upper level offered a beautiful view across Central Park.  We spent a while hanging out in the shade, having a snack, and enjoying some down time after the trek through the park.  I told my boys that my favorite part of the day was getting to hang out with them and not have anywhere else to be. We had no agenda, no appointments, just the whole day to enjoy our time together. Later they told my wife that their favorite part of the day was going to the gift shop in the museum…  “oh yeah, and we liked seeing the dinosaurs and the animals, and Central Park, and the castle.”

We survived NYC

We survived NYC with 3 kids!

By the time we finished our Thai take-out in the hotel room, it was almost 10 pm.  As I lamented the fact that it was so late, my 6-year-old reminded me that NYC is the city that never sleeps.  True enough kid, and your dad is the father who never sleeps, so go to bed!  In all honesty though, I can’t wait to take them back to New York!



Baby Palooza and William’s First Photo Op!

At last week’s conference, there was a special session called Baby Palooza, and there were some wonderful brands who set up shop to show us their new products! We got to check out everything from new strollers to safety equipment. I was so excited to see some of my favorite baby gear brands!

Joovy caboose varylight

Joovy Caboose VaryLight

The first stop was Britax/BOB. BOB has a new stroller that just came out– the Revolution Flex. The Revolution flex sports a handle bar that can be raised and lowered to accommodate mom and dad (or anyone else who wants to run with your baby or toddler!). Joovy also had a new stroller to share – the Joovy Caboose VaryLight. This stroller is a sit and stand stroller that can easily change from short frame to a long frame, depending on how much space you need! How cool?!?!  I also love that it comes in such vibrant colors! They brought a variety of their other strollers and baby gear including the Groove Ultralight, the Tricycoo (their super cool toddler tricycle), M0on Room play yard, and the Boob bottle system (which you will be hearing more about in the next few weeks!). Joovy also recently released the Zoom 360– a brand new jogging stroller that I am dying to try out! :-)

I also stopped by the Delta Children booth to check out their new play yard/bassinet and portable travel sleep solution. Boon and J.J. Cole were also there with some great diaper bags and bundle me blankets, in addition to the Boon tub and new bath toys for toddlers. The bath toys were great–I know even my oldest would love them!

Boon Drying Rack

Lastly, we were treated to an interview and Q&A session with renowned baby photographer Anne Geddes. Anne has a new campaign Under the Sea and a new book Little Blessings. Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media interviewed Anne about her life and photography. She gave some great advice for taking pictures of your own children: keep it simple and make sure that you put yourself in photos too. As moms, I think we are often the ones taking the pictures. I frequently go through pictures and find myself in only a few. Anne made a great point that your kids will want to see what you looked like when you were younger, so make sure you include yourself!

After the interview, Geddes signed copies of Little Blessings. In between signings, she scooped up William for a quick photo op. She is definitely a natural with babies, and he posed for a few pictures. Thanks so much to Jennifer DaFonte from Mom Spotted for the great pics! The pictures and book signed to William will be something we treasure.

Anne Geddes holding William

Baby Palooza was a big success, and I look forward to working with many of the brands and sharing their cool products with you!



Grocery Shopping with Kids

grocery shopping with kids

Yesterday I was reminded that raising small children is not unlike living in an undeveloped country. Anarchy is rampant, and if there is a structured government, it must be a dictatorship. There are daily attempts at a coup d’etat, some of which are successful. Bribery is a completely acceptable and effective means of getting things done…

Enter grocery shopping with the kids, and it raises the game to a whole new level. :-) Yesterday I bravely decided to take all three boys to Stop and Shop-in the summer-on Cape Cod. Anyone who lives on the Cape knows that a trip to Stop and Shop in the thick of summer is no easy feat. I was relatively well prepared for our excursion. William had just woken up from a nap and the kids were stuffed with snacks. I put William into the Ergo, closed up the swagger wagon, and headed into the store.

I did notice a few looks of sympathy from fellow moms and some smiles from elderly women. I kept my game face on and headed into the store. First stop: Scan It machine. Although there are usually epic battles over who gets to use the scanner, it definitely keeps the boys occupied during the trip. We made it in and out relatively unscathed after the promise of a “treat” at the end of the trip. I was broken in the snack aisle, when I quickly blurted out that each child could have a Teddy Grahams snack cup to take along for the duration of the shopping trip= total win! We have had some spillage incidents with these snacks in the past, but today we were on top of our game. In the words of Coolio, “Today was a good day.”

What are your survival skills for grocery shopping with kids?



5 Make Ahead Meals for New Moms

make ahead meals for new moms


One of the BEST gifts you can give a new mom (in my opinion!) is a prepared meal after baby is born. Make ahead meals are so nice to receive when you are running on zero sleep and adrenaline! This was especially true for me after the delivery of #3. I had no energy to cook during the last month or so of my pregnancy, so I had absolutely nothing made ahead in my freezer. Thank goodness for my super awesome mother-in-law and father-in-law who would regularly bring us dinner! I did have a few new friends here on the Cape who brought us dinner after William was born, and it was a godsend.

So, what are the easiest make ahead meals you can prepare and/or buy to bring to a new mom? Here is a list of five suggestions to get you started:

  1. Lasagna– Lasagna is great because you can make it ahead and freeze it in an aluminum baking pan. Deliver a lasagna (it’s always a good idea to check if her family eats meat) with a loaf of Italian bread and a salad for a super easy weeknight meal. If you are cooking for a vegetarian, eggplant parmesan is also a great alternative to meat lasagna and easy to make ahead and freeze.
  2. Roasted Chicken with Vegetables- I regularly roast small chickens in my crock pot for easy dinners. All you have to do is buy a small chicken and rub the top with some unsalted butter. Next, pour some cooking wine over top, add some vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, and celery. Season with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (yes, like the Simon & Garfunkel song) and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. You will have a complete meal to bring over!
  3. Breakfast for Dinner (or breakfast!)- Breakfast casseroles with egg, ham/sausage, cheese, peppers, etc. are easy to make ahead and freeze. You could also make a large bag of whole wheat pancakes and deliver them with a bottle of real maple syrup–they would be a hit for mom and any younger siblings!
  4. Chunky Vegetable Soup or Beef Stew– Soups and stews are great to make ahead. The recipes are endless, and you could even try a gazpacho or cucumber soup if the weather is warmer. Soup with a nice French baguette would make a perfect light meal for a new mom and family. If they like a little spice, try a nice chili!
  5. Quiche– If you want to get a little fancy, make a quiche. Quiches are wonderful because you can really throw in whatever you want (according to new mom’s tastes) for meat, vegetables, cheese, etc. They look fancy, but they are not really hard to make. It’s a great meal that’s easy to reheat and serve. An added bonus–mom can also have it for breakfast after a sleep-deprived night!

Did you receive meals after giving birth? What were your favorites?  




Sweet Suite Recap!

Sweet Suite banner


Last night at Sweet Suite was a fun night of treats and a sneak peek of many of the toys that will be arriving on shelves this fall! There were so many great toy brands, it’s hard to know where to start! It’s always fun getting to check out the new toys that will be hitting the shelves this fall and for the holiday season. We arrived at 4:30, and the first stop was the Kidz Bop table, where the group was singing and signing autographs.

Kidz Bop at Sweet Suite

After making our way into the main room, it was pure toy craziness. I thought I would share some of my favorite finds and brands. I love that Leap Frog is introducing a new activity tracker watch for kids and an interactive gaming system (think Wii Fit for younger kids). There will be a ton of games featuring popular characters for the age group including Sofia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I love that this system not only stresses activity, but learning as well. It will be available for pre-order in September.

Leap Frog gaming system at Sweet Suite

Another super cool product was the Boogie Board LCD writing tablet that offer hours of drawing and redrawing–sort of like your modern-day Etch a Sketch. These would be awesome for note taking in school or a budding artist. There is also a model with Bluetooth capabilities, so that you can download notes and drawing onto your computer.

Boogie Boards at Sweet Suite

We love the Smartmax building toys in our house, and I was excited to see a new set coming out that will work with the older version. Smartmax also had a TON of super cool travel games and puzzles that would be perfect for travel!

Smartmax Toys at Sweet Suite For those of you with Hex Bugs fans in your house, you will be very excited to see new Hex Bugs coming out this fall. You will be able to build your own large bugs that can be controlled and programmed via remote control. These Hex Bugs were a really remarkable interactive toy that lets your child be creative while learning some rudimentary programming!

Hex Bugs at Sweet Suite

Sweet Suite 2014 was a blast, and I will be sharing more of these toys in the fall as we approach the holiday season! There were so many great new additions to share–I wish I could write about all of them, but this post would turn into a novel! :-)



Blogger Bash Bound!

This morning we are off to Blogger Bash in New York City. That’s right–the swagger wagon is headed south to the big city! Rather than driving into the city (which I avoid at all costs!), we will take the Metro North train from New Haven into Grand Central. The boys are so excited to take the train and see New York City. I love that they are at an age when just the transportation into the city is exciting! If only it stayed that way!… ;-)

Sweet Suite

First off on the agenda is Sweet Suite, a giant party hosted by the Big Toy Book. I went to Sweet Suite at the BlogHer conference a few years ago, and I can’t wait to go again! The party will be a Location 05 and will feature toys from Disney Infinity, Lego, LeapFrog, Skylanders, Crayola, Hex Bugs, V Tech, and more. It’s a great opportunity to check out new toys from these companies and share them with you! Another bonus–lots of unbelievable desserts!

Friday will be a busy day of meeting with brands. The great thing about Blogger Bash (this is the first year) is that it’s a much smaller crowd than BlogHer, so there will be a lot of opportunities to make meaningful connections with brands and hang out with other bloggers. I will have breakfast with Lego Batman 3, a media panel, speed dating with brands, lunch with Johnny Rockets, Mommy Tech, Baby Palooza, and the Kidz Vuz Back to School event. My six-year old will be coming to the Kidz Vuz event with me, and he’s super pumped!

My husband will have the boys while I am busy at the conference–Will is coming with me in the Ergo. Hopefully he will have fun at Baby Palooza! The boys will be busy walking around the city and hitting the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and maybe the Children’s museum. They are going to be exhausted at night! ;-)

More to come from NYC!