Top 10 Sanity Savers for Your Next Family Road Trip

Top 10 Sanity Savers for Your Next Family Road Trip

My husband and I always debate on who gets to drive.  Yes, who gets to drive.  Normally neither one of us is a big fan of driving, but on a long road trip the driver gets a break while the co-pilot serves a cabin full of cranky travelers.  So, since I usually end up as co-pilot I’ve created a quick list of sanity savers.

1.  eBooks  & Traditional Print Books (read-a-loud from Blio)

Of course I always start with books!  I bring a wide selection of traditional and ebooks.  Lift-the-flap books are always great for young children.  I have a lot of the Little People Lift the Flap books and they were a hit with my son and now my daughter loves them.

If you have a tablet you should definitely download the Blio app and use our website to send great picture books to it.  Some of the stories will read aloud to the child.  We also have books for older children in Blio as well as Overdrive.


2.  Colored Pencils and a Drawing Pad

I always like to use colored pencils instead of crayons for the car.  The last thing I want to find is a melted crayon in my carpet and with colored pencils you don’t have to worry about that issue.  Crayola has a twistable colored pencil that never needs sharpening.

3.  Plastic Bags

Ah, my guilty pleasure is a zipper bag.  If you have an earth friendlier bag I heartily endorse it.  However, I use these things like crazy on a road trip.  Practically everything goes into a bag.  I do try to reuse them whenever possible.

4.  Fruits & Veggies

Since I let them sit in front of a screen for hours I try not to give in to the junk food monster on our road trips.  Using plastic bags or containers I make fruit, veggie and nut snacks.  I figure we’ll be eating enough ice cream when we get to our destination!  We can go healthy on our way there and back.

5.  Small Box

I like to use a small box to contain all their toys, pencils and papers.  It seems to make it easier to find stuff instead of me having to dig through their backpacks.  The boxes I use also can fold flat if you need to get them out of the way.


6.  Movies!

Stop by the Library for movies movies movies!  You can check out up to 10 DVDs per Library card.  I usually take the DVDs out of the plastic cases and put them in a portable flip case so that they are easier to manage.  If you don’t have a dvd player you can borrow a Playaway View  from the library.  We have many fun and educational titles.


7.  Picnic

Find a nice rest stop or park to stop and have a picnic.  After sitting for hours it gives your kids a chance to run around and explore while you get lunch ready.

8.   Audio Books

If you or your children get motion sickness from reading you may want to try an audio book.  This can be a great way for the entire family to follow along to a story or pop in own earbuds and listen to a book on your phone.  *Secret mom tip – close your eyes and pretend like you’re asleep and you may be left alone for up to five minutes.

9.  Music

Use Freegal to create a fab playlist for your family.  We have lots of kid friendly songs in our collection as well as radio edits of many popular albums available for older children.

10.  Fun
Don’t forget to bring the fun!  One of my funniest memories of a certain notorious reality TV mother of 8 children was when they were at an amusement park and she screams at them “WE’RE MAKING MEMORIES”!  Whenever I start to get irritated I think about that scene and laugh.  So, get out there and make some memories.

One final note, just remember…


Prom Tips

It’s prom time, so let’s talk about hair and makeup!

If there’s one thing I (Jessy the Librarian) love as much as stories, it’s probably lipstick. Or maybe eyeliner. One of the best place I’ve found for (non-video) makeup/hair tutorials is The Beauty Department. I love the idea of taking this studded eyeliner but using crystals and liner in different colors.


This is definitely the sort of thing I would run a trial on first. Test out creating the look, then have a backyard dance party or just jump around a lot—make sure those crystals stay put!

When it comes to pretty hair, my own personal taste is basically “shove it all up behind your head in a messy chignon or at the nape of your neck in a messy bun with lots of pretty bobby pins.” But this isn’t a blog about what Jessy the Librarian would dress up like; it’s full of tips and tricks and DIYs for all sorts of tastes!

If you have straight hair (or want to straighten your hair for prom), Martha Stewart has lots of guides.

If you have curly hair, there are guides for pretty updos here and here.

Want more ideas for prom hair and makeup? Check out our prom-related pinterest board!

This post was written by Durr Young Adult Librarian Jessy.

El día de los niños/El día de los libros

spanish familyChildren notice things.  Every year in this country, in the space of 5 weeks, we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  An observant child will inevitably ask “So, when is Children’s Day?”  Of course, the standard answer from every parent is “Every day is Children’s Day!”

Actually, the observant child has a point. Seventy-seven countries around the world celebrate a Children’s Day during the course of a year.  The United States is one of the few developed nations that does not. In Mexico, Children’s Day is celebrated every year on April 30.  That day is called El día de los niños.  It is quite a celebration, too!  Schools have carnivals, towns have parades, and children receive special treats.  Mexican immigrants in the American southwest brought their observance of Children’s Day into their communities in this country, and in 1996, a children’s author named Pat Mora noticed. She thought it was a wonderful idea to celebrate children, but her background as an educator and author led her to think that it would be even better to celebrate children’s books!  That was the beginning of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day).

With the support of children’s librarians and teachers, Pat Mora’s idea has spread across the country.  This year, hundreds of libraries and schools will celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day sometime near April 30.  In our community, we have two opportunities to celebrate.

On Saturday, April 27, from 1:00 -4:00 p.m., the Kenton County Public Library will partner with the Cincinnati Public Library to hold a joint celebration at the Bond Hill Branch.  The celebration will include performers, crafts, and free books for children.  On Tuesday, April 30, at 7:00 p.m., enjoy a Bilingual Puppet Show at the Erlanger Branch.  Children’s Librarians Lise Tewes and Theresa Goedde, with the help of Spanish speaking volunteers, will present a short puppet show in English and Spanish.  Free books will be available for all the children in attendance.  Plan to participate in one or both of these events to celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day this year!

This post was written by Lise Tewes, children’s librarian at the Erlanger Branch.

Kocanut Joe’s Frozen Yogurt Spring Break Giveaway

Kenton County Schools are on spring break and we are looking at a high of 80 degrees today!!! You could cool off with a $5 Kocanut Joes Frozen Yogurt gift card and Kenton County Public Library water bottle! You have three chances to win. Be sure to enter each way with a separate comment for more chances to win. The contest only runs until 2 p.m. today, Wed., April 10. Two winners will be randomly chosen. Winners will pick the prize up at the Erlanger Branch Library.

How to enter:

1. Comment here telling us your favorite part of spring break (required).

2. Share this contest on Twitter or through Facebook and comment telling us you did.

3. Follow this blog and comment that you did.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: The gift cards were given to the Kenton County Public Library to giveaway to lucky blog readers.

Financial Responsibility with the Library

wall street journalWhile you get your body in shape for summer, get your finances feeling healthy, too! Visit the Kenton County Public Library for all sorts of resources to get financially fit. For new graduates, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Starting Your Financial Life by Karen Blumenthal provides clear, concise steps to set-up checking and savings accounts, manage your first car or college loan, establish an emergency fund, prudently pursue a good credit rating and launch a basic retirement plan. The book also makes an excellent graduation gift!  Newlyweds will find the Morningstar publication, Investing for the Long Run: Strategies and Solutions to Shape up Your Personal Finances available in both hard cover and as a PDF on the library’s web site, a great short guide to review together before launching into married life. Morningstar helps you think through the pros and cons of keeping accounts separate or combining them for joint ownership. The tome also provides fifty basic ways to save money and approach the many purchases needed to set-up a household wisely. Gift givers would also do well to check the library’s Consumer Reports online edition to uncover the best appliances to purchase for the future couple.

New households and young families are often overwhelmed by the onslaught of information thrown at them frodave ramseym life insurance agents, stock brokers, accountants, lawyers and financial planners. Who do you trust? A good first step is to educate yourself about the particular product or service you need to purchase. The library’s shelves and virtual e-book site are full of titles that can help you discern the best path to take. Some great volumes by popular financial gurus include The Road To Wealth: A Comprehensive Guide To Your Money by Suze  Orman,  The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey, Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn and Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security by Jean Chatsky. Read up on renting versus buying, leasing versus purchasing a car, saving money in your company’s 401-k plan or starting a Roth IRA or both, the best ways to save for college, buying whole or term life insurance, protecting yourself from identity theft and more. Feel a little less nervous and more in control of your own plans when you meet with a financial services professional.

Folks starting to take care of aging parents, paying for weddings or just getting closer to retirement have a myriad of money issues to plague a good night’s sleep. Specialized books on specific topics can help open your eyes to the many options available to you for help.  A Bittersweet Season: Caring for our Aging Parents and Ourselves by Jane Gross and Caring for Your Parents: The Complete Family Guide (AARP) by Hugh Delehanty & Elinor Ginzler are two  books that supply support and show ways to find the medical, community and government resources available for your parent’s individual situation. On a happier note, Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget  by Denise & Alan Fields, now in its 10th edition and The Knot’s Complete Guide to Weddings by Carley Roney will aid both frazzled brides and parents.  The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before & After Retirement by Rob Pascale gives the reader a blueprint to follow before taking the giant step of leaving the world of work behind permanently.

mcclendon_cover finalFor the serious investor with time to spare, the library and a cup of coffee can combine for a great morning of free research sources.  The library carries all the newspaper favorites including the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily , Barron’s and the Cincinnati Business Courier in cherished hard copy form. Trusted database resources like Valueline and Morningstar are available online for free . Copies are ten cents each if you like to print out investment reports on potential stocks. Demographics Now is the library’s main “go-to” resource for those doing feasibility studies for starting your own business during the retirement years.  The savvy saver can also read the latest editions of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, MONEY, Bloomberg’s Business Week, Forbes, Fortune and Fast Company. Past month editions can be checked out for 28 days. If you get tired of paying for research you can print, visit the library to access it for free.




The Kenton County Public Library helps you make the most of your money. Some additional financial resources available from the FTC include:

This post was written by Natalie Ruppert, adult librarian at the Covington Branch.

Spring Garden Preparation

 top pic

Whether you are getting ready to plant fruits and vegetables, or planning a beautiful flower garden, there are things that you must do in order to guarantee the best results for your garden this spring. This post, along with materials (see video and Pinterest page) from the Kenton County Public Library should help.

Preparing your garden doesn’t have to be complicated. Enjoy a sunny afternoon by donning your gardening gloves and taking these four easy, basic steps for gardens big or small, perennial or vegetable.

1.  Basic Maintenance

Start your spring gardening with some basic maintenance. Remove any covers you used to protect plants during the winter, and perform any repairs or servicing on gardening tools and equipment. Better to have problems with the lawnmower fixed now, rather than mid-summer.

Take a walk around the garden looking for signs of winter damage. Paving stones may heave with freezing and thawing, fences may need repainting or repair work, and decks need cleaning.

2.  Prepping Garden Beds

Winter snow or rain compacts bedding soil, so you’ll need to prep your beds in advance of planting. Remove winter mulch or, if it’s compostable, dig it into the soil. Use a spading fork to aerate the soil, breaking up clogs of dirt. You want to make the soil lighter and capable of holding water and air.

At this point it is time to test the soil for deficiencies and amend if necessary.

Soil Testing

The tests provide the levels of pH, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, organic matter and sometimes lead and other metal levels.  It is recommended to test the soil each season with a home soil test kit you can buy at the hardware store.

Amending the Soil

Based on the results of your soil test, follow these guidelines to amend the soil:

  • Adding nutrients and organic matter
    to the soil before planting because plants absorb nutrients as they become available.
  • Most amendments placed in the soil before the planting are dry amendments such as blood meal, seaweed, wood ash, compost and manure.
  • The dry amendments should be incorporated into the soil in the top 4 to 8 inches of soil as plant roots stay above 12 inches deep

3.  Planting

You can either purchase seedlings, start your own seeds indoors, or sow seeds directly outdoors.

Purchasing Seedlings

The best place to purchase seedlings is at your local garden nursery or farmer’s markets.  You’ll find plants that are ready to go in the ground that are specific to your climate.

  • Pros/Cons—seedlings come ready to plant. On the other hand, starts are more expensive and give you a smaller selection of varieties to choose from.
  • Be sure to look for and purchase healthy looking starts with green leaves and healthy stems. Dying or yellowing leaves may indicate disease or lack of nutrients.
  • Don’t buy starts that are overgrown. Their roots can be bound if allowed to stay in the little pots, which deprives the plant of a healthy beginning. You also don’t want a leggy plant. While its height may look impressive it means it had to compete for light, which makes it less healthy.
  • A good test to tell if a plant is overgrown is to look at the bottom of the container.  If the roots are protruding from the holes in the bottom of the container the plants may be root bound.
  • Check out your local nurseries, farmers markets and special plant sales for some more unusual varieties that do well in your growing conditions.

What to Look for in Seedlings

  • Short, stocky with deep green color.
  • Avoid top-heavy plants and plants that are already fruiting, these are too old.
  • Don’t select plants with discolored leaves, plants that are wilting or have chew marks, as these are signs of pest damage and disease.

Starting Seeds Indoors

  • Pros/Cons—starting from seed is more cost effective and allows you to pick unique varieties, but it does require some pre-planning to make sure you get the seeds or starts outdoors at the right time.
  • Temperature is the key to germination, so follow temperature suggestions to try and optimize the range of temperatures a specific plant needs.
  • There are lots of seed starting kits available that really make it easy to set up and get going fast.
  • Plant 3 times the amount you will need to account for non-starters or seeds that dry out.
  • Look for a place where you can give them watchful care to ensure the seeds stay moist and warm.
  • Some plants are a real challenge to start from seed such as asparagus, garlic, and onions.
  • Some seeds have need light to germinate, and some need to be soaked overnight. Check the seed packet for instructions.


When to Transplant Seedlings

  • Plant seedlings outdoors after the last chance of frost for your particular hardiness zone.  Find your specific zone here.
  • As a general rule the younger the plant, the less transplant shock it suffers. Older plants have a harder time regenerating new root hairs and roots to replace those lost when they were uprooted.
  • Seedlings should be set out as soon as they reach optimal size: They should have at least 3 to 5 true leaves and shouldn’t be much taller than the depth of their container. Size will vary by variety.

Hardening Off

  • Hardening off is the process which exposes them gradually to natural outdoor conditions.
  • Begin the process of hardening off plants by putting them outside during the daytime in a protected area of the garden to expose them to slightly lower temperatures and bring them back indoors at night.
  • You should also reduce watering, waiting until they are almost stressed before watering again. Don’t fertilize again until they are transplanted out.
  • Once you’ve increased the amount of time outdoors in the elements, begin to plant in the ground, this process is specific to each plant. Generally taking 1 to 2 weeks depending on variety.


Planting Seedlings

  • Take the seedling out of the container and loosen the roots.
  • Dig a hole in the desired location with a hand shovel or your hand.
  • Water the hole to ensure moisture to the roots and add the root supporting mix.
  • Take off the bottom leaves of the plant to focus its energy on growing larger and place the transplant in the hole.
  • Cover with soil and water lightly.

Starting Seeds Outdoors

  • Some plants, such as carrots, cannot be easily transplanted. Direct sow these seeds in your garden.
  • Poke a hole in the soil to the proper depth, as described on the variety’s seed packet, place a seed in the hole, and cover with soil. Water seeds thoroughly after planting.
  • Young seedlings are susceptible to getting eaten by critters, so try to protect them outdoors as much as possible, either with straw or row covers.

4.  Pruning

Be sure to prune fruit trees before the new buds develop. Spring is also the time to prune late-summer and autumn bloomers, which grow on this season’s new growth. Leave pruning spring bloomers until the fall.

Check your perennials and see if they need dividing. If they do, divide them now before the plants start their spring growth. You can swap divided perennials with your friends for seedlings or mature plants.

Do you have any gardening questions? Please post them here and we’ll help find the answers!

This post was written by Stacy Walters with Corporate Garden Coach.