One of the things I neurosed about before our vacation was how to occupy two small children on not only four and a half hours of plane rides each way, but also occupying the days of hanging out at a remote cabin.
My son turns into a turkey when boredom sets in. Best to keep him busy.
Therefore, I spent A LOT of money on things for my son to do on this trip. We bought him a LeapSter (which I convinced my husband he needed for the trip — he wasn't sold at all), and many activity packs and coloring books.
Ninety percent of it? Completely worthless.
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OK, not worthless. Maybe just not used.
The LeapSter never made it out of the bag. (I am reluctantly admitting my husband was right on this one.) The ColorWonder books and markers I bought for my son were enjoyed much more by my daughter. The markers made excellent projectiles and drum sticks. (Thanks to all the people around us for pointing out where the markers landed on the flights...)
A friend of mine suggested Totally Tape and she was dead on with that one. It falls in the 10% of items used and enjoyed. The only regret is that it seems to have been left behind in Alaska at the cabin.
Sorry to anyone on the flights back who might have been sitting near us who got to listen to my son whine about wanting his "Tape Book." Really sorry about that.
The magnet scenes were only a minor hit, and I completely forgot about that deck of Go Fish cards I bought that migrated to the bottom of his carry on bag.
What else was a hit?
Fishing off the deck at the cabin – particularly after having just caught a rainbow trout the day prior in Anchorage, his first fish. I was seriously amazed how many hours my son sat on the dock with his little kid fishing pole carefully putting salmon eggs on his hook and fishing. Or as the case was — essentially feeding the minnows whose tiny little mouths would never fit over one of those hooks.
Wandering. Both kids loved just walking around outside. No activity book necessary.
Then there was the "Find the item” book (similar to Where's Waldo) my son pointed out at a novelty store in Alaska and I willingly bought. I can't say no to a book request.
I want to tell myself I learned my lesson and that the kids don't "need" that much stuff for a trip. But I am sure next time around this experience will be a distant memory.