Adventures of a K-5 Academic Technology Teacher & New(ish) Mommy

Life’s a Beach

To enjoy a trip to the beach, one has to actually make it to the beach.  😉

For our trip to Panama City Beach last weekend, I packed what I called a “bag o’ tricks” with the hopes of keeping Hayes entertained for the 5.5 hour car ride. I knew we had the DVD player in the backseat as a last resort, but I wanted to try out some toddler road trip activities that I found on Pinterest, and some other ideas I came up with.

My green Publix reusable bag o’ tricks contained:

● A road trip mix with marshmallows, raisins, craisins, pretzels, Kix cereal, and Cheerios; any guesses as to how the underside of his carseat looked upon arrival?

● A Ziplock baggie of different types of chip clips (random, I know, but Hayes likes to tinker with magnets and opening and closing items)

● Nesting cups; the colorful kind that stack up to make a tall tower…the hope here was that we could then do some stacking in the condo

● Crayola Twistables and a pad of blank paper

● An addition made en route was the Curious George magic pen and invisible pictures pad that I mentioned in this post

● Several DVDs (Our old faithful Baby Bulldog DVD – thanks Bryan and Steph!, a Thomas the Train DVD, Elmopalooza, and Sesame Street Monster Hits; this trip was the inaugural DVD in the car experience, and it was a good one, but now every time we get in the car to go anywhere, Hayes points up to the screen that folds down and says, “train? train?” No buddy, we’re not going to watch Thomas on our 5-minute trip to Publix.

● Dum-Dum lollipops, a lot of them

● Hayes’ “blankies”; if you aren’t familiar with Aden and Anais, check it out! They are the best, most lightweight muslin blankets I have ever seen, and Hayes sleeps with three of them every night (thanks Ben & Syd!). To him, the blankets signal sleep…so much so, that when he wasn’t quite ready to nap in the car, he would throw the blankies that I had handed him on the floorboard. Smart kid.

Eventually, he gave in…for 30 minutes.

● Not exactly *in* the bag, but just as crucial to the success of our trip was lots and lots of music…iHeartRadio toddler stations, our Music Class and Fisher Price CDs, our “Baby Songs” playlist on the iPhone, etc. Hayes constantly has a song running through his head, it seems, so singing, clapping, and dancing to the music made the car ride go much more quickly. Our all-time favorite toddler and kid singer/songwriter is Laurie Berkner. More to come on her awesomeness later.

● A toy car for Hayes to drive up and down his legs, and for us to play with in the condo

● Two new puzzles that Hayes had never seen before. Novelty is key in road trip situations. The kind we introduced on the trip (for use in the condo, not the car) were the Melissa and Doug magnetic fishing and bug-catching puzzles, where the child has to use a magnetic rod to “catch” the pieces. Hayes loved it and picked it up in no time. (Thanks Mia and Papa!)

We made it, the ride down was enjoyable, and we had a great time just being together at the beach!

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PCB 2K12

That’s right, our little family of three spent last weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida and…we had a blast! After trying to find a suitable (and affordable) rental in Santa Rosa and Rosemary Beach and realizing that everything on VRBO was either unavailable or a Saturday to Saturday rental, Brad finally suggested that we look at Destin or Panama City for our four-day trip. He, shockingly, had never been to PCB before, but I on the other hand, have spent many-a-spring-break-trip with cruising up and down Front Beach Road in my parents’ minivan, shopping for a cheesy souvenir at one of the thousand Wings locations (which are all gone!), and gettin’ down in the bubble room at Club La Vela with girlfriends. Yep, I did that. I assured him that I didn’t mind going to PCB again; you can’t beat the sparkly white sand and turquoise ocean water, right?

Hayes was a peach on the way down, even with only one 30-minute nap the entire 5.5 hours. Stopping at the Cracker Barrel in Dothan, Alabama was a highlight, where we picked up a fun Curious George (Hayes’ fave!) coloring/sticker book–you know, this kind with the magic orange marker that reveals invisible pictures on the pages when used? I added it to my “bag o’ tricks” for the ride down–the contents of that bag to be revealed in a later post. 😉

Our condo (Unit 1608, Ocean Reef Tower) was clean and gorgeous, which we fully expected since we heard from the rental company that we were the first renters. The view from the 16th floor was fantastic, and it had a large balcony that was perfect for breakfasting and napping in the sun. Jennifer Ethridge of La Playa Resorts, LLC was wonderful to work with, and all in all, we had a great time.








A non beach-related highlight of our weekend was spending time at Pier Park, an awesome shopping and dining area on Front Beach Road near…you guessed it, the pier. We also had a great time at the Gulf World Marine Park catching the sea lion show and spending time with the rough-toothed dolphins, tortoises, sharks, rays, parrots, and penguins. In the event that you’re ever in the area, a ticket to the Marine Park is good for animal shows all day and includes entrance to either a magic show or a rock show every evening of the week. Children under 2 are free.

Our complaint about PCB is that most of the visitors can’t be bothered to take care of the beach. We had trouble making a sand castle with Hayes because we kept shoveling up cigarette butts, and to top it off, Hayes was toddling around said castle, fell, and cut his foot on a piece of glass! We were livid at the time, but little man toughed it out. It was nothing that a few applications of Neosporin, band-aids, and socks couldn’t heal. 😉

We’re already looking forward to our 2K13 beach trip!


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Video-Sharing & iPhone App: Kincast

If you’re anything like me, you probably take tons and tons of video on your phone. And then, when it comes time to email the precious videos you capture on your phone (’cause they’re usually of your child doing crazy cute things), they’re too long and you get this dreaded message:









Ugh! I tried using MobileMe, iDisk, and now iCloud, but it all just seems too complicated and I worry that eventually all of that online storage will go away. So, I reached out to my PLN via Twitter about this problem and received the following tip from Thomas Belote (@tombelote) “try @Kincast you can send an email link to a video of any length.” Perfect! I downloaded the Kincast app for free and quickly and easily began the process of emailing myself all of my full-length videos so I could download them and then load them onto my external hard drive and keep them…forever.

Think of Kincast of a private video-sharing site, similar to what Shutterfly offers for photo files. You can upload videos from your iPhone camera roll or take video from within the app. Once a video or clip is captured or uploaded, you have the option to trim, play, or share. Kincast allows users to capture full screen video simply by rotating their phones, and users can opt to purchase a one-month premium membership for $1.99 or a one-year membership for $19.99 (more Kincast Cloud storage, “video-gifting,” video viewed notification, etc. The basic membership has worked for me, and I’ve transferred 64 videos so far!

Thanks Kincast!

And, just because I think it’s so darn cute, here’s one of the 64 that is now safely stored on my trusty hard drive:

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