21 Car Games for Kids

Holiday travel is upon us and it’s time to share some car games for kids!  If you’re like us, you don’t want your children to be glued to the DVD player or gaming devices the entire trek over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.

What’s a parent to do?

I’m so happy to tell you there is an overabundance of options!  Win!!!

21 Car Games for Kids from the New Lighter Life

Some of the ideas below are crafty and some need to be purchased.  The age range on these games varies considerably.  Maybe it’s just my kids, but my older children liked to the younger children activities too…so I didn’t even to attempt to separate out by age-appropriateness.

I’m sure you’ll find some great ideas to ease the boredom!

Games to Make

1.  Button Snake

Simply cut some felt squares and put a slit in the middle of each one, (except for one of them).  Sew some webbing or wide rick rack to the square that doesn’t have the slit.  Next sew a button to the other end of the webbing/rick rack.  Voila!

DIY Felt Button Snake Travel Toy


2.  Velcro Building Sticks

This is super easy to make.  Just buy some popsicles (you can purchase them dyed or dye them yourself) and add sticky-backed velcro to the ends.  My kids LOVED this.

Beware.  If you have a little guy that likes to make swords, he will make swords out of these sticks.

Velcro Popsicle Sticks Travel Game


3.  Color Swatch Matchup

Again, very easy to make.  This was a bit challenging for my 3 year old to match up.

Color Swatch Matchup Game


4.  Keep the Coins by The Vintage Mother

I love this idea!  My children are always looking for gum money and the idea of keeping your change is motivating!

Keep the Coins Travel Game



5.  Pipe Cleaner and Pony Beads

Yep…for real.  Just some pipe cleaners and Pony Beads and my 2 younger kids were entertained for at least 20 minutes.

Pipe Cleaners and Pony Beads Travel Game


6.  Homemade Color (or Colour) Book by Craftulate

I LOVE this idea from Craftulate!!!  We are road-tripping soon and this is on my to-do list!

Homemade Color Book from Craftulate


7.  Crayon Roll

There are so many different options for making a crayon roll to hold a notepad.  I whipped this puppy up in about a half an hour, but you can find some inspiration and ideas to make your very own, here.

Crayon Roll for Traveling




8.  DIY Travel Geoboard by Left Brain Craft Brain

Wow!!!  Seriously, this is so smart!!

DIY Travel Geoboard


9.  Magnetic Tangram Puzzle by Delia Creates

Travel Tangram Game


10.  Tic Tac Toe photocredit Canadian Family

Travel Tic Tac Toe



11.  Portable Lego Box by Fun at Home with Kids

Head over to Fun at Home with Kids and print the cards out!  If you need some random lego pieces to be able to complete the puzzles, Bricks and Minifigs has loose legos you can buy!  If you don’t have a store near you, make up your own puzzle cards, buy more legos, or beg and borrow from friends.

Portable Lego Kit


12.  Magnetic Peg People

This was such a fun little project!  I used a left over tin to house our family.  Once I was done painting the people and spraying with sealer, I added pieces of magnet to the bottom of them so they could stand on the tin during play. Sew a pillow and throw in a piece of fabric, you have a bed for the family.

Portable & Magnetic Peg Family


13.  Friendship Bracelets

There are a whole bunch of instructions on how to make different friendship bracelet patterns, here.  You can also search for printable friendship bracelet patterns and gather supplies for your little crafter.

Friendship Bracelet Kit

Games to Buy

14.  Magnatab

This little board is mesmerizing!!  As you “draw” the pen over the board, the beads come to the front.  Love it!

Magnatab a Great Travel Game

15.  Mad Libs

Totally fun for the kiddos and they get to brush up on their grammar.

Mad Libs


16.  These Water Wow books were a HUGE hit!!

You can buy them on Amazon and they have a whole variety of themes.  Individually they are only about $5 so they are a great deal.

Water Wow Books for Kids Traveling

17.  Lacing Cards

Take a few of these out and have a nice little travel size project for the kids.  We used different lacing cards but my kids enjoy doing this and it doesn’t make a mess. Okay, truth be told – I attempted to make lacing photo frames but the laces kept getting snagged on the finish project so I now opt for the store-bought versions.

Lacing Cards for Travel


18.  Doodle Pro is a classic travel toy.  Bonus is that there is no mess.

Doodle Pro Trip


19.  Spot It! on the Road

I Spy but with cards.

spot it


20.  Travel Memory

Since this is completely contained, there is no worry of losing pieces.

Travel Memory


21.  DryErase Dot to Dot

I also love games that are reusable.

DryErase Dot to Dot

So those are some of our favorite car games for kids.  We ration out the games so they do not get bored as easily.  Also on a round trip trek, we save some of the games for the return ride

How about you?  Do you have a particular game that you absolutely love for road trips?


Easy Morning Routine System – Self-Sufficient Kids

How many of you have a morning routine system for your family?

Maybe mornings at your home look similar to how mine did 6 months ago.  You know, the little creatures wake up and hang around in the pajamas until you lose your cool and start yelling.  Don’t you dare tell me that my kids are the only ones that have the propensity to go into super-slow mo while whining and complaining about getting ready?! Ha!

I was so sick of nagging the kids to get ready.  I needed a solution.


Look, if you have little people running around, (or laying around) not doing anything to get going, it gets frustrating fast.

Personally, I’d tell them multiple times to do something as simple as get dressed or put dirty laundry in the hamper.  For real, these are such simple tasks but my kiddos outnumber me.  And let’s face it, I’m busy trying to get my day underway too.  So I had to figure out a way to get them on board with a routine.   Scratch that, I needed to find a way to get them excited about getting everything done.  AND I had to remove the nag-factor.

My very intellegent friend gave me a SUPER simple and effective tool that has been awesome for my kids!  My *almost* 11 year old even gets into this and I’m no longer the nagging mom.  As a bonus…this is easy to throw together and basically no fuss. (like really you can write this on a blank piece of paper…so read on)

Here it is…

How the Morning Routine System works:

  1. First determine what time you need your children to have all their tasks completed. (for us this is 8 am)
  2. On a piece of paper, list their names, routines, and any special jobs for each child.
  3. Place the routine paper on fridge or somewhere in a central location.
  4. Gather reward stickers and prize bucket.
  5. Explain to your children how it all works, what’s expected, and the reward.
  6. Remind them for a day or two, (especially for littles who can’t read) and watch them gain ownership of their morning.
  7. At the designated time, check to see where your children are with their morning routine.  If they’ve accomplished everything, they get a sticker.
  8. On the 4th day, they get a sticker and a prize from the prize bucket.

So what’s in this prize bucket??


Yes, balloons.  My kids LOVE balloons.  ($0.01/each)



Coloring books and activity pads ($1/each).



Candy!  Now’s a great time to steal back that Halloween candy for the prize box. (FREE)



Sticker sheets.  We just added Christmas stickers. ($0.18/each)



Dollar store toys. ($0.50 – $1/each)

Some more ideas…

Gum, quarters, a media pass (10 min. or more), sticker sheet, etc.  Make it inexpensive but something your kids will look forward to earning.

Introduction Phase

The first couple of days, my kids, (especially my 2 littlest) had a hard time getting the concept.  I gave them quite a few reminders but they still didn’t do their tasks.  They figured out pretty quickly when they didn’t get a sticker and that means no prize.  HALLELUJAH!!

*disclaimer* This ONLY works if you enforce the routine and sticker chart.  You have to take 3 minutes to check what they did and assign the stickers.
(I realize this is a no-brainer but I found that I got a little relaxed and my kids reverted back to their old habits)

Customizable & Printable

Just to save you a couple of minutes, I’ve uploaded a customizable routine chart, (made in excel) for you to tweak till your heart’s content.

Customizable Routine Chart

All the boxes are there and the shading for the reward day, you just need fill in the information to suit your needs.  (If you are curious about my font, I used  Archistico Bold for the bold font and Dawning of a New Day).

You can seriously take a blank piece of paper and draw out your routine if you don’t want to type anything (so don’t let that get in the way).

I’d love to hear if this is working for you, so please share if you implement this!

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Easy Morning Routine System

Dry Baby Wipes Recipe

There was such a great response to my post about how I make my Homemade Baby Wipes, today I decided to revisit the topic and share my dry baby wipes recipe.

First things first though, I’d like to address concerns over molding with the original homemade baby wipes.

From my experience in the 2 plus years of using my homemade baby wipes almost exclusively, I’ve never once had mold.  I do understand the concern though.

So for those of you that want a fail-safe, here are some solutions for you.

  • Add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil or Lavender Essential Oil to your wipe solution.
  • Use distilled water instead of tap water.
  • Use a homemade dry baby wipe.

Dry baby wipes?!

Some companies have started putting out baby wipes that are dry and you simply need to add water to them.  Since I’m going for chemical free and non-toxic, I have a method that is really quite simple and works nicely with either washable cloth wipes, napkins, or paper towels.  I like options!

Homemade Dry Baby Wipes ~ TheNewLighterLife.com

Homemade Dry Baby Wipes

  • Spray Bottle
  • 1 c. distilled water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 drops of Tea Tree Oil or Lavendar Essential Oil
  • 1 Tbsp witch hazel
  • 1 Tbsp baby wash

Pour all of the ingredients into a spray bottle and gently shake.

When you need to use a wipe, shake the spray bottle solution (since the oil will separate – see below) and spray the cloth or paper towel until saturated.


Dry Baby Wipes Spray Bottle


Now let’s talk about a couple of different ingredients.

Dry Baby Wipe Ingredients

Olive Oil. Since coconut oil solidifies, and this is a spray solution we have to replace it with olive oil.

Witch Hazel. The witch hazel is added to the solution because of it’s anti-microbial properties (and we no longer have coconut oil in our mix).  Witch hazel is also an anti-inflamatory and known to be soothing to the skin.  Translation – it’s good for diaper rashes – bonus.

Tea Tree Oil & Lavender Essential Oil. Because of this article, many parents are concerned about using either tea tree oil or lavender in a wipes solution for little boys.  You have to decide if you are comfortable with using either one. But I will say, I appreciate this post from TheSmartMama.  Basically, there were only a handful of boys affected and there could have been a multiple of factors that contributed to gynecomastia, (breast enlargement).  Given how many parents use tea tree oil and lavender essential oil on their children, you would expect to see much more gynecomastia.  But follow your gut instinct.

Paper Towels.  If you opt to use disposable wipes, you can use whatever brand of paper towels your heart desires.  The reason I had previously recommended Bounty was because it is very durable and can hold up to sitting in a wet solution without falling apart.  With your homemade dry baby wipes, you don’t need to be concerned about durability.


This wipe solution is a great option for traveling and it’s convenient.  I use little pump spray bottle and stores it easily in my purse.  This particular spray bottle has a little slider that locks it from spraying, I bought it at Dollar Tree.

For travel, I just tuck napkins and the spray in my purse.  If I run out of napkins, I just use a paper towel.

If you’ve tried them, I’d love to know what you think.  Not conventional, but they do the job and they do it well.

DIY Magnet Backed U.S. Puzzle

It’s a beautiful thing when you can combine learning and play.

I saw a picture of a puzzle magnetized a few months ago.  I thought it was a great idea but our RV fridge was not magnetized so I filed away in my brain for a project to complete someday when we are living more *normal*.

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The Mystery of Food & Children

Life is FULL of mysteries.


Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?


If “con” is the opposite of “pro,” then what is the opposite of progress?

But truly, we have a real mystery on our hands.


Like why will a child be willing to eat WAX candles, but say my cooking is “yucky”.

IMG_9883True story.

I’m glad we stopped her before she finished off the “8”.


Oh, and it’s totally her willingness to eat a wax candle that makes her that much MORE lovable.


As far as I’m concerned, there is no excuse for her to not love her dinner.



Hot Chocolate Mix Without Powdered Milk

My mom is a good cook.  She makes popcorn, chili, cookies, and lots of other foods.

Our friend’s mom is a good cook too.  She makes good chili, it is not spicy.

To all the kids, say thank you to your mom for making food.

My mom says I am a good cook too. This hot chocolate mix is better than store-bought. I made it for gifts for friends.

hot-chocolate-mix-recipe-without-powdered-milkHot Chocolate Mix
3 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. cocoa
1 T. salt
whole milk for serving

We mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  (This makes a lot)


To make:

Heat one cup of milk (I use the microwave). Add two tablespoons of mix to the heated milk. Stir.


Until next time,

Separation Anxiety and Our Quest for a New Dog

Once upon a time, we had a dog. . .

He was an awesome dog.  Awesome?!  Pretty lofty to describe our 4-footed friend, but awesome he was!

His name was Gus.

6 months after Mark and I married, we rescued him from the pound.

He was awesome!  (I guess I said that already)

I admit . . . it was not all happy cozy times with our mutt. . .

  • We dealt with mange.
  • He had food allergies and had to eat raw meat.
  • He chewed up my Birkenstocks.
  • We got a $500 vet bill for Canine Bloat.
  • He had an overactive scent gland!  Oh my word!  If you know anything about this, it is absolutely horrible!  Horrible!
  • His extreme separation anxiety resulted in $400 in window repairs (I’m serious).

Of all the not so fun things about Gus, it was really the last one that was the kicker.

The Evil Separation Anxiety

He could not stand to be left at home alone.  He had broken out our home through the window 6 or 7 times and was an expert escape artist.

It all came to light when one day I came home from the store to find the front window busted out.

Gus was gone.

Knowing how loyal our dog was, I figured he must have chased after the would-be robber.  I called the police and they got word that a stray dog was about a mile down the road, sitting in the parking lot.  It was Gus.  Hmmmmm….interesting.

We poured out all sorts of love and affection on our guard dog and were so happy to get him back.  The only problem was the fact that this happened several more times.

So we set up a video camera.

We found that Gus became a ragging lunatic when we left.  Our docile and calm dog was VICIOUS!  He was howling, barking, and biting at the window frame.  HE was busting the window out.

Our Attempts to Deal with It

We tried a muzzle, but were scared he’d pass out from trying to breath.

We put him in a back room so he couldn’t see the neighboring chihuahua being walked and freak out.  He was a Houdini and got out of the room several times Other times he chewed on the door frame.

Clearly he wasn’t safe to roam free in our house.

So we resorted to getting him a large wire kennel and crated him when we left the house.  He chewed at the metal and mangled it beyond repair.


We tried to find him a new home for about a year.  We were frustrated and had given up.

We Gave Him Away

My Mom, (who was dog sitting for us) called one day to say that she found a new family for Gus.  They had kids and another dog to keep Gus company.

This family lived in a VERY small town, (population 15 or so).  It seemed like the perfect home for Gus.  He had more roaming ability and wouldn’t need to be kenneled.

My heart sorta fell into my stomach.

I hesitated, but said yes.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I bawled like a baby.  Why wasn’t I happy?!  We finally found him a new home!  But we’d had him for 8 years!

It’s been about a year and a half since we re-homed Gus and I still get choked up when I think about him.  I miss him.  In fact, a few months ago I texted my mom and asked her if we could get Gus back.  She said she would see.  But we decided he was probably in a better place and with the RV thing, it just wasn’t ideal.

If you’ve made it through this story, (which is entirely too long) bravo!  🙂

All this to say. . .

We are Considering Getting Another Dog

Months and months of Ellie and Eli asking for a dog have started to wear on our resolve.

Gus really did a number on me and I still get sad about him.  I wonder if we’ll ever have another dog that could possibly compare.

You might be thinking, “What in the world was so great about that dog?”

I don’t think I can explain it…the thrust of this post has been his negatives, but he really was a wonderful dog 95% of the time.

Still we are considering it.  Mark said we should be crazy and get a Great Dane.  🙂

I still wish we could get Gus back.  I really do.

Are we nutso?  I’m thinking so.

Figuring out the Right Breed

Today we’re looking for a small, non-shedding type.  And we welcome your suggestions!  I’d rather not get a poodle or a yippie dog.  Whatever dog we get, I know we’ll get attached and love him/her.

We’d like to get a rescue dog again, but the shedding thing is really our biggest concern so we’ll have to look for either a pure bred or a shelter dog with that breed in it.

So what do you think?  We have several wish list items.

  • small
  • kid-friendly
  • non-shedding
  • not yippie

Think it’s possible?