Family, Surviving Chaos

Surviving Chaos: Brain Quest Workbooks

Brain Quest Workbooks

Need to keep your kids busy on long flights but keep them learning? Check out Brain Quest workbooks! These workbooks are my absolute favorite busy activity for our kids when we are training. Why? The are small and compact, no pen or paper needed, fit easily in our carry-on, and it helps our kids continue learning. Our kids love the quiz style format of the workbooks and all the fun illustrations throughout. I have been known to bring these out on weeknights when I am trying to get dinner ready. #survivingchaos

Each Brain Quest deck is a fast-paced question-and-answer game that challenges kids on the stuff they need to know, when they need to know it. The workbooks are jam-packed with curriculum-based activities, exercises, games and challenges, all in full color. There is workbook for each grade level from pre-kindergarten thru 6th grade. These will keep them busy for hours!

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Family, Surviving Chaos

Loving Abroad

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

When my husband first started traveling, I thought I was prepared and would be comfortable while he was absent. The beginning trips were small, 2-3 days but as his achievements in career progressed, the business trips grew longer to 5 days and now 7 full days. When his role expanded to a global position, not only were the trips longer but we also had to coordinate the time difference, which really hindered phone calls. I thought I was prepared for this type of separation -I wasn’t. It was harder than I expected , sometimes more than I was able to handle and more than I wanted to deal with. So I needed to be creative…..how could stay connected while we were so far apart? So, I started putting cards with hand written notes in his suitcase. While he was busy working on logistics of his trip, I would go and hide them in his suitcase. I became an expert at finding good hiding places in his suitcase…..between shirts, inside shirt sleeves, in his toiletry bag, inside a pant leg, etc. The possibilities were endless! And these cards were not your run of the mill cards; I would specifically choose cards that were quirky, odd, funny, romantic or matched whatever was happening in our lives at that moment. He was so thrilled to receive a card and find it in the most unsuspecting places and when he was least expecting it. He would call me and tell me what part of his trip (or where he was in the world) when he found it and how he found the card, which was always the best part and the most hilarious! Thus started our tradition of writing cards to each other whenever one of us was traveling. He has kept every single card I have given him…..a whole drawer full (he travels a lot!) These cards gave me the opportunity to write all the things I hadn’t had time to say or the courage to say. To make up for missed opportunities. The idea of him reading a heartfelt note about what was on mind and on my heart brought me comfort over long distances and during the long separations.

Although I would write all kinds of things in his cards…appreciation, thanks, funny stories, etc, it wasn’t always about the content. It was more about receiving a personal note from a loved one, a small token of affection, or that I took the time during all the chaos to write something especially for him. If this note was going to be the last thing he would see or my last opportunity to say what was on my heart, why would I not take that opportunity? I encourage you to find ways to connect with spouse during travel times. What may seem like a small gesture or insignificant action makes a huge impact on someone else. It definitely gets us through the long trips and tougher parts of having a traveling spouse. How do you stay connected during times of travel?

When in

Best airlines for 2020

AirlineRatings.com recently released their best airlines for 2020, the worlds only safety and product rating website. Based on the top 10 list below, Air New Zealand took the #1 spot and has appeared in the top 10 for the 6th time in a row. In order to make the top 10, advisors at AirlineRatings.com rated the airlines on major safety and government audits and 12 key criteria: fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offering, and staff relations. You can read more about why Air New Zealand made the top spot, the other winners and best low cost winners here. Safe travels!!

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Nippon Airways
  4. Quantas
  5. Cathay Pacific Airways
  6. Emirates
  7. Virgin Atlantic
  8. EVA Air
  9. Qatar Airways
  10. Virgin Australia
Family, Surviving Chaos

A B Choo Choo!

An ABC train is loads of fun! This was one of my first DIY kids projects when we my husband first started traveling. I needed a way to not only keep the kids entertained while I made dinner but also get them to learn something!! A few pieces colorful construction, laminating sheets (for durability) and creativity made this project a breeze. And as an added benefit, when we started traveling as a family, the ABC train came in handy as it was easy to pack in a carry-on for long plane rides or road trips. Its a win-win!

To make it, cut out 26 wheels (they can be any color) and label them with the ABCs. Next cut out the boxcars and add 3 letters per boxcar (or 1 or 2-its up to you!). As for the locomotive (or engine), I drew it by hand; there are lots of free locomotive printables online if free hand drawing is not your thing. Laminate all you pieces and voila!

Surviving Chaos Tips

  • Let the kids help cut out the all the pieces; keeps them busy for while and helps their scissor skills
  • Change the letters to numbers
  • Use sight words on the boxcars instead of letters. This is perfect for kiddos learning how to spell!
  • These also make great letter recognition flash cards
  • Put it in zip loc bag: it keeps the pieces together, an added layer of protection from spills and it’s TSA friendly
When in

Staying Healthy While Flying – Updated!

UPDATED- 6/15/2020

Now that our travel season is underway, I figured this would be the perfect time to share our favorite tips on staying healthy while on the plane. As all travellers know, when your in the airport your focused on getting to (or running) to make your next connection, scouting out the best place to eat, or reading the ever evolving arrival and departure flight board to see which gate your supposed to be at. It’s so easy to forget to put on hand sanitizer or just simply wash your hands. With as much traveling as my husband does all over the world, we’ve managed to determine a good game plan to keep him healthy. We definitely do the basics….hand sanitizer, cover you cough or sneeze, etc but did you know there are other things you can do while your on the plane that will keep you healthy? Lets discuss….

(New) Wear a face mask

The CDC and all airlines are now requiring passengers to wear face masks both in the airport and on the flight. There are a number of companies offering both reusable cloth and disposable face masks; you can even save by bundling. Face masks are key to protecting yourself and others from getting COVID-19 and are essential for travel at this time. When your in the TSA line, expect the TSA officer to ask you to pull down you mask so they can see your whole face for identification purposes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take it all the way off. If you get ear strain from wearing masks, you can purchase ear extenders. The extenders attach to the ear loops of you face mask and are placed at the back of your head, thus preventing ear loop strain. Invest in a couple pair, they are awesome!

Get digital!

TSA frontline workers will now be wearing face masks and gloves to screen passengers. Additionally, plastic shields are now in place at podiums with a small window to slide ID and tickets for verification. In order to reduce contact, download your ticket to your airlines app! This provides a hands free option for the TSA officer to scan your ticket without them ever having to touch your personal items. There are also a number of different apps that you can use that support digital tickets, check out my favorite travel apps post for some options.

Wash your hands….often!

So this concept isn’t technically new but it is definitely worth saying. It’s so important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds….yes you can spare 20 seconds!! 20 seconds is equivalent to singing the Happy Birthday song (in your head). Think about all the door handles, bins, armrests,etc you touch in the airport and you will see why you definitely need to wash your hands. Additionally, don’t touch your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) unless your hands are clean. These areas are by far the easiest way to introduce germs into your body. A sleep mask is a great trick for keeping your hands out of your eyes and helps you get more restful sleep.

Hand Sanitizer

Also not a new concept but it needs to be in your carry-on bag….so you can actually use it! Hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol and should be used an as alternative to hand washing. This is quick and effective way to keep your hands clean and with all the wonderful scents they come you will smell lovely to the person sitting next to you. Update: You can now carry up to 12oz of hand sanitizer in your carry-on. This is great because you will need sanitize your hands more often in the absence of soap and water.

Pick the window seat

When flying, choose the window seat instead of the aisle. Once you’ve sat down, stay there and don’t get up. Why? People are pretty much moving/walking around on the flight (unless the fasten seat belt sign in on) which helps spread any possible germs to others. Additionally, people who sit in the window seat don’t get up….which reduces the number of people moving around….and also reduces your chance of coming in contact with any germs. Its a win-win. A word of caution: be sure to use the restroom BEFORE you sit in a window seat….because if you have to get to go to the bathroom it defeats the whole purpose. Update: most airlines are requiring the middle seat be left empty in order to comply with social distancing rules. This will make availability of the window seat smaller so book your seat ASAP!

Open your air vents

Open the air vents above your seat to improve ventilation and angel it to blow air AWAY from you. Basic science: germs can be spread via air circulation. Opening the air vent keeps air ventilation flowing so germs don’t get a chance to “stop” and land. You basically get a wind barrier from germs from an air vent. Clever!

Use Sanitizing Wipes

So this trick may get you some strange faces or raised eyebrows but it is totally worth it. Use sanitizing wipes to wipe down the tray table and arm rest. The tray table is the dirtiest place on the seat…..have you ever seen a flight attendant wipe them down….NO! Wipe it down yourself and save yourself from a headache or cold or whatever else is still hanging around. Sanitizing wipes are cheap ($1) and can be found everywhere so buy more than one and put them in your carry-on.

Stay Hydrated

Be sure to drink plenty of water. Basic science: drinking water allows your body’s natural immune fighting mechanisms to work properly and keep your mucous membranes in your nasal and throat passages from getting dry. It is recommended to drink 8 oz of water for every 1 hour of flight time but be sure to adjust this amount to fit your body’s needs. NOTE: Remember that window seat….in order for all this to work properly follow this process: 1) Drink water before the flight 2) Go to the bathroom before boarding or before take off 3) Sit in the window seat.

BYOE – Bring Your Own Entertainment

The second most germ place is the seat pocket full of magazines in front of you. The seat pocket get used for everything….food, tissues, diapers, trash, etc. Bring your own magazine, movies, games, etc on your next flight so you have don’t even have to touch the seat pocket. Head to the Surviving Chaos->Family section of my blog for easy entertainment ideas that you can make ahead for the whole family! If your looking for book recommendations, head to my Books of 2019 post or my Instagram Stories “Books” for some ideas. I add my latest reads to my Instagram page. Additionally, almost all commercial airlines offer from Wi-fi for movies, T.V shows and games you can stream on you laptop and/or tablet….so put it to good use. Just don’t forget to download their app so you can access it.

We hope you found these tips helpful; we know some of them are not traditional but they have kept us (and my husband) healthy on flights. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying healthy while flying? Let us know!

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