How I Survived a 13-Hour Drive with a Toddler

Last week, my husband, father-in-law, 2-year-old son, and I packed up the mini-van and headed out on a 13-hour road trip to Baltimore for a visit with family and an Orioles game. I was slightly worried about how the drive would go since my son would be strapped in his car seat most of the time and he's a bundle of energy. It can't be all that comfortable and, at his age, the entertainment options are somewhat limited. I brought books, and toys, and snacks, and even a few Elmo DVDs for desperate times, but I wanted to give him something to play with on his own to give the human entertainment system (me) a break.

After reading the same four books over and over and over again, I needed that break. So, with fingers crossed, I pulled out a new, shiny toy for the kidlet to play with: alphabet in a pan.

SONY DSCIt turns out that magnetic alphabet letters and a brownie pan can keep my little guy occupied for hours on end. He spent most of the ride calling out letters and the words they start. We all joined in, and it was a great way to keep everyone occupied and practice words. Plus, it was the least expensive toy ever. I grabbed a pan from the kitchen cabinet, threw in the magnetic alphabet letters I got in Target's bargain bin for $1, and we had an instant hit.

From now on, I'll be keeping my eye out for fun magnets that we can use for the next trip. And I might even stop by Target and pick up a few more packs of the alphabet letters for when the little guy is older and wants to practice spelling.