Travelin’ Food, Then and Now

By Ellen Buikema

Travel cookies, from

When I was very young, my parents gathered snacks for us to bring on trips—travelin’ food for the family.

These treats often consisted of sweet things to keep my brothers and me quiet in the backseat while my father drove along country roads and highways. My mother was tasked with navigating using a map or paper TripTik from the American Automobile Association—or as we called it—triple A.

On the Road

Adventure driving, without maps, frequently left us lost, which annoyed my mother to no end. She took to stashing maps of Illinois and Wisconsin in the car’s glove compartment, just in case. We three kids, sitting in the backseat of the rusty, green Chevy with a small hole in the floor, didn’t pay much attention to the road while eating our way into sugar comas.

I sat between my brothers to act as a human seatbelt, throwing my arms across them if Dad stepped on the break too quickly. Also, I served as a buffer between the two boys in case they decided to swat each other as we traveled. Being the eldest was not fun.

Shopping Solo

Eventually, deemed old enough to walk to the candy shop on Lake Street in Oak Park, Illinois, by myself, I freed my mother of at least one chore. Told that I had great taste in candy and chose a nice variety, I headed to the candy shop to purchase five pounds of mixed candies for the next trip.

Opening the old wooden door of the shop, I stepped into a wonderland filled with giant barrels of candies—a sensory delight to the eyes and nose.


Sometimes mom sent me sugar shopping too early. The candy would disappear, and I’d be sent back to buy more. I’m surprised we didn’t have more cavities.

I still bring travelin’ food with us on research trips for writing, recreational daytrips, and sometimes sad trips like a recent one for my brother-in-law’s out-of-state funeral.

Now that I’m in charge of my own health, travelin’ food has changed dramatically, because too much sugar made me antsy, cranky, and hungrier. So, after researching various cookbooks and websites, I found a recipe that would satisfy hunger and keep the taste buds happy. Travel Cookies.

The basic recipe requires three ingredients: almond butter, oats, and bananas. As I can never leave well enough alone, I’ve added a few more. These cookies have been a godsend and freeze well.

Travelin’ Cookies


  • Three large, very ripe bananas, mashed (ripe for sweeter cookies)
  • almond or other nut butter, ½ cup
  • rolled oats, 2 cups (quick or regular, not instant)

Optional additions:

  • chocolate chips, ½ cup
  • crispy cereal, ½ cup
  • raisins or dried cranberries, ½ cup
  • vanilla extract,1 teaspoon
  • Monk fruit sweetener,1 tablespoon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A hint of sea salt (I use a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 176 degrees Celsius

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan.

In a mixing bowl add mashed bananas, nut butter, and rolled oats. I also add chocolate chips, real vanilla extract, a beaten egg, Monk fruit sweetener, and a bit of pink salt – for extra minerals.

Drop a glop of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet. The cookie will not spread, so make whatever size you want. Two-inch rounds work for me.

Bake for ten minutes or until the tops of the cookies are golden brown. Some of mine were a tad darker, but that still works. Larger cookies will take longer to bake, so you’ll need to experiment a bit with time.

Let the cookies cool for at least ten minutes before removing them from the baking sheet or parchment paper. I typically slide the parchment paper off the sheet right away, but that’s me.

This recipe made 18 cookies. The number of cookies will vary depending upon the size of the drop full of dough and the amount of goodies added.


If you freeze the cookies on a thin cutting board overnight, and then double bag them in freezer bags, they won’t stick to each other.

About Ellen

Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents and a series of chapter books for children with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Works In Progress are The Hobo Code, YA historical fiction and Crystal Memories, YA paranormal fantasy.

Find her at,, and on Amazon.

Managing Fatigue Levels as a Parent

By Gwen Payne

If you’re struggling to manage fatigue levels as a parent, you’re not alone. Parenting a child through their first few years typically comes with a fair share of fatigue, and oftentimes that fatigue can extend into adolescence and even young adulthood.

Just because it’s normal to feel tired and lethargic, however, doesn’t mean that you do not need to address the issue. Along with assessing your level of fatigue, it’s critical to foster your health and well-being in any way you can. Below, this guide provides some essential advice for navigating the challenges of fatigue as a parent.

Assessing Your Fatigue    

Before you do anything to treat your exhaustion, you will need to evaluate exactly how much fatigue you are battling. While it is best to consult a doctor, there are some signs that you can look out for to get an idea of your fatigue level. For instance, consider the quality of your sleep. Do you frequently have problems getting at least seven hours a night? Does your sleep get disrupted in the middle of the night, and do you sometimes fall asleep during the day?

Another way that you can gauge your fatigue level is to reflect on your parenting. Do you feel like you are doing a good job with your child? Many parents who deal with chronic exhaustion are not confident in their parenting abilities. Moreover, considering how much time you spend care-giving can give you an idea of how fatigued you are.

Addressing Your Fatigue    

Once you have a better idea of the fatigue you are up against, it is time to start taking steps to fight it. Try to find an exercise routine that you can fit into your daily schedule. For getting in a good workout, it’s hard to beat running and HIIT movements. Yoga can also prove effective in improving your strength and reducing stress. Make sure you are eating a nutritious diet and drinking plenty of water as well.

Another thing to consider is finding time to unwind. Whether it’s reading a book, meditating, or taking a long bath, think of relaxing activities you can do in solitude so that you can recharge and be the best version of yourself. Consequently, developing good habits like these can lead to better sleep.

Pursuing Personal Goals  

Establishing goals for yourself and the journey to accomplishing them can do wonders for boosting your daily energy. Maybe it’s time to pick up a hobby that you do each week. Maybe it means returning to school to get that degree you’ve always wanted. If you want to improve your career prospects, earning a degree is a wonderful way to do it. And these days it’s easy to find an accredited online college that offers flexible coursework to fit any schedule. Boosting your credentials will help you in whatever career path you choose.

Avoiding Negative Outcomes 

Lastly, you want to be aware of the negative outcomes that commonly occur as you look to battle your fatigue and pursue your goals. For example, if you relax too much without exercising or taking other steps to boost your energy, it could cause or exacerbate anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms.

If your partner is not pulling their weight while caring for your child, overcompensating for them can lead to increased fatigue and burnout. And while it’s essential to have a support network that you can turn to in hard times, it’s important to avoid putting too much of your burden on them, which can cause relationship issues of its own.

As rewarding as it can be, parenting is anything but easy. Make sure you are evaluating how much fatigue you are struggling with. Take steps to address the fatigue and set out to achieve personal goals. And along the way, look out for the negative outcomes that can be avoided.

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About Gwen

Gwen Payne blogs about ways women can create, fund, and find a balanced work and home life. You can find her at Breaking into Business, The invisible Moms.

Top Image Photo by Mehrpouya H on Unsplash

Preparing Your Kids for School

by Daniel Sherwin

While the threat of COVID-19 remains, the world is trying to get back to normal. With this flurry of activity, it’s important to get your kids armed and ready to continue fighting this unseen enemy. Well With Life offers some great resources to help you prepare your kids for the coming school year.

Healthy Habits

As your kids face another pandemic year, it’s more important than ever to encourage and instill healthy and hygienic habits.

  • Remind them that social distancing is still the best way to help them adapt to the situation.
  • Help them get reacquainted with wearing masks, and remind them why this is necessary.
  • Instill effective handwashing techniques, and ensure they use safe hand soaps.

Healthy Bodies

Putting a premium on your kids’ health is the most crucial thing you can do, as a healthy immune system is still the best way to ward off the threat of COVID-19.

Healthy Homes

While possible exposure to COVID-19 still exists in the world at large — including school, despite best efforts — it’s still wise to take great pains in keeping your home clean and free from virus-carrying germs.

Healthy Learning

Make sure your children are prepared for school, whether it’s in person or online.

We didn’t expect to still be fighting COVID at this point, but here we are. This means we must stay vigilant as parents and engage our kids to keep them protected. It’s the most we can do for now.

Top image via

About Daniel

I’m Daniel. I’ve been a single dad to my daughter (9) and son (6) for three years now. I’ll admit I don’t always know what the heck I’m doing, but every day is definitely an adventure and a blessing. And for that, I’m truly grateful. I noticed that there aren’t a lot of resources out there for us single dads so I thought I’d share some of what’s worked for me here on my website.

How to Raise Happy Kids Through Every Age

By Leslie Campos

Every parent wants their children to be happy. Giving your kids a happy home life will set them up for a healthy, successful future. But how can you help your child’s happiness flourish as they grow up? As it turns out, raising your children to be successful, confident, and empathetic can help them develop the skills they need to get along with their peers and cope with setbacks as they progress through life. Here are some key tips to help you foster these skills in your own kids.

Practice Self-Care

Raising happy, healthy kids starts with caring for your own mental and physical well-being. Try to carve out time from your busy parenting life to practice self-care. Eat healthy foods, maintain a regular exercise routine, make sure you get enough sleep and spend time doing activities you love. Even shopping can become a healthy self-care practice! Don’t feel guilty about treating yourself to a few things that will make your life easier and a little more comfortable. For example, some supportive maternity clothing can make a huge difference in how you feel during pregnancy and postpartum. Especially if you’re carrying around a baby and chasing after a toddler.

Balance Structured and Unstructured Playtime

It’s no secret that kids love playtime. Whatever the age of your kids, make sure they get a good balance of structured and unstructured playtime. As Verywell Family explains, structured play is play with some kind of purpose or learning objective. Structured play activities can be used to teach everything from fine motor skills to complex mathematical concepts. There are endless ways to encourage structured play at home. Start a new hobby together, break out the board games, or follow an online crafting tutorial. You could even build a playground in your backyard!

Just remember that unstructured play is important too. Unstructured play is described as children-led, improvised play. During unstructured playtime, kids use their imaginations to invent games and create unique activities. Unstructured play is great for keeping your kids entertained during long, rainy weekends when you run out of activity ideas. At the same time, it fosters the development of creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.

Spend Time Outside

Spending time with your kids outside is an excellent chance to instill an appreciation for nature and physical exercise. Unfortunately, kids seem to be spending less and less time outside in recent years. Encourage your kids to get out into the fresh air and explore nature from a young age. And you can even take it farther from home. Whether it’s a bike trail, a walking path, the zoo or even a playground, find ways to help them get outside. If you’re toting a toddler around on your family outings, consider getting a lightweight, affordable umbrella stroller in case they wear out easily.

Teach Interpersonal Skills

Children who are brought up with good interpersonal skills have an easier time making friends, taking on leadership roles, and building professional connections later in life. Teaching interpersonal skills will give your kids the confidence they need to succeed at school and in their future careers!

One great way to support your children’s social skills is by teaching them how to listen to others. Communication games are a fantastic way to practice this. Additionally, try modeling empathy and showing respect when talking to your kids. Setting a good example will help your kids learn how to behave when interacting with others!

Being a parent is a continuous learning process. We’re always looking for new ways to make our children happy and help them grow up into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

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Above Photo image via Pexels