Archive for category Parenting

Too Young for Disneyland? No way!

We recently had the opportunity to join family in Southern California and take our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to Disneyland.  We considered this trip a while back and decided it would be best to wait until she was over the age of four so that she would hopefully remember most of the trip.  However, we decided “why not” when the opportunity presented itself again and it also meant that our daughter would get the chance to spend some quality time with cousins and relatives she doesn’t get to see often.  So we went….and had the BEST time!

I have to admit, I was a little worried how our daughter would respond to all the excitement of the park.  Was it going to be too overwhelming with all the characters, rides, noise, crowds, and was she even going to appreciate meeting any of the characters?  I couldn’t have been more wrong about this judgement.  She LOVED every minute of it!  I was even surprised to find out she actually knows all the characters and was thrilled to meet the Disney Princesses.  It melted my heart to see her smile with excitement whenever we had an opportunity to meet a princess.

Standing at only 38″ tall, there were definitely limitations to what rides she could participate in.  However, there were plenty of activities to keep her entertained in a two day experience.  The Nemo submarine, Winnie the Pooh,  Buzz Lightyear, Autopia, the Tea Cups, the Carousal, and the Jungle Cruise were among a few of the favorites!

Although, we know at her age she probably won’t remember much about the overall experience, we have absolutely no regrets in taking her this young.  To see the joy and happiness the park brought to her face was worth every penny spent.  Personally, I have been to Disneyland a handful of times and had a different experience every time considering my age and who I was traveling with.  This visit to the park, was by far the best experience I’ve ever had.  It’s not about the rides I partook in or the shows I witnessed, it was about the joy in my daughters eyes.

It’s true what they say about Disneyland, “It IS the happiest place on Earth!”  It’s magical, it’s unforgettable and it’s for ALL ages, young and old.  If you are like us and contemplate when the best time to take your kids to Disneyland is, I hope this post helps your decision.  Good luck and happy travels!

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Last Minute Santa

Phew!  It has been too long since I have logged in.  This time of year always flies by so quickly, so I apologize for being a little distant on the blog this winter.

As we are only a couple of sleeps away from Santa’s debut, we had better wrap up our shopping quickly!  Like every year and in every family, there are always those last minute gifts to prepare.    Have you considered a handmade craft for that special someone this year?  I don’t know about other parents and grandparents out there, but ANYTHING handmade from my 2 1/2 year old is special.  And my heart instantly melts when she hands it to me with a proud grin on her face and says, “Look what I made for you Mama!”

So, if you have little ones in the house and need a last minute gift idea, consider this.  I found this idea on Pinterest and my daughter made one for each set of grandparents this year.  I liked this craft idea because it’s not only seasonal and can be displayed through the holidays, it’s also a memory display.  They are footprints of my daughters feet at this stage in her life and I painted the year on it so we would always be able to look back and compare.  Just a cute, fun and QUICK craft idea, guaranteed to put a smile on any family members face.

Happy Crafting and Merry Christmas!!!

Supplies Needed: 

  • Plain Canvas (any size)…I used an 8×10
  • Acrylic Paint …I used light and dark brown, blue, black and red
  • Small Tip Brush (for painting details on canvas)
  • Larger Foam Brush (for painting the child’s foot quickly before paint dries)
  • Baby wipes (to wipe their feet immediately after painting them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step One:

Paint bottom of child’s foot with the light brown paint and stamp on canvas to make reindeer head.  Repeat with opposite foot until you have two reindeer heads on the canvas.  Wipe paint off feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Two:

Let dry completely and then paint details on (antlers, eyes, nose and and the year).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Three:

Let dry completely and gift wrap for that special someone.

Optional:  You can staple a nice red ribbon to the back to create a ribbon loop on top for hanging.  We just set ours on the Christmas tree as extra decoration.  Or you could display it on a plate holder and set on a shelf for display too.

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Creative Minds Jewelry Display

I’m sure my two-year old daughter is a lot like others in that she loves jewelry, nail polish, dress up clothes and anything that says “GIRL” loudly.  She recently acquired many of these items for her turning two celebration and initially I thought we’d throw it all in the same ‘dress up box’ together.  However, that plan soon failed when I was constantly finding costume jewelry in my bed, in her bed, in our dogs bed…and not to mention the long hunts to find the ‘missing necklace’ somewhere in the house…ugh, enough is enough.  What to do with all these pieces?!

My daughter loves to paint and do anything crafty (probably gets that from her mom :)) and I had a few extra blank canvas’ laying around.  So I pulled out my container of miscellaneous paints, containing mostly acrylic paints and puffy paints, and gave her a brush and let her have fun.  She created a lovely piece of artwork she was quite proud of.  Once it dried of course, I screwed six little white metal hooks into the bottom of the wooden canvas frame and hung it on the wall at a height she would be able to access.

So far it has worked like a charm.  Not only are all the costume jewelry pieces in one place, she enjoys the independence and ownership of having a place to put HER jewelry.  Like mommy, she too can put it in safe keeping.

  

Here is what you need for this project: 

Canvas (already framed) – I bought mine at Michael’s craft store for about $5 (11 x 14) on sale

Acrylic paint (or any other paint that can be applied to canvas)

Paint Brush 

Screw Hooks – I bought a pack of six at Wal-Mart for $2

Two nails and a hammer to hang on the wall after you’re done! 

Super easy and fun for the kids…and/or you!

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Ice Cream Theme Birthday Party

I know this post comes to you a little late, considering my daughter’s birthday party was held in mid-July, but I loved the theme and wanted to share it with all of you.  Better late than never, right?

My daughter, Kelly loves ice cream (who doesn’t right?) and therefore, the theme was an easy pick.  It was great for the kids.  They had a blast building their own sundaes and snacking on ice cream themed snacks all day.  Not to mention, it was the middle of summer and it just so happened to be one of those days you can’t eat your ice cream quick enough before it melts all over the place.  It was a perfect day for ice cream and everything cold.

We held it in in the back yard and set up activities for the kids to play, such as a water sprinkler, bubbles, sandbox, fishing pond, water table, balls, and toys.  And as far as the decorations and food went, I was inspired by Pinterest once again.  There are so many ways to search for things on the internet and yet, I still find the most creative and inspirational ideas through Pinterest.  Check it out if you haven’t already!  It’s a cataloging site so you can easily find and ‘bookmark’ where your favorites are in cyber world.

Decorations: I stuck to pretty basic pink decor (table clothes and streamers).  However, instead of just having helium balloons around, I added a cone to the base of each balloon with brown packaging paper to transform the balloons into ice cream cones!

Food: We simply ordered pizza for the main course of the day and then splurged on the sweets!  Of course…it was an ICE CREAM party!   For a snack I had chopped fresh fruit stuffed in waffle cones and for cake I made a cake out of cupcakes in the shape of an ice cream cone as well as a special cake for the birthday girl.  And if we’re gonna load them up with sugar, why not go all out with a full fledge sundae!?  I laid out bowls with different toppings for the kids’ ice cream and they went to town decorating their sundaes.

  

 

Favors:  This was one of my favorite things from the part and I completely forgot to get a photo before handing them all out.  Go figure.  I found fun ice cream sundae plastic glasses and filled them with ice cream themed candies and toys.  I also included a tooth brush :).

Not only was this theme easy for  a mid-summer birthday party, it was fun for the kids too.  I was surprised at how many ice cream themed toys, treats and activities there are in the stores during the summer months.  It certainly made this a very easy party to put together.  There were so many other ideas I wanted to incorporate however, I did my best not to go overboard.

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The “Big Cook” is a Mommy Lifesaver

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We have all been there before.  Whether you’re eight months pregnant or have your hands full with extracurricular activities and busy kids at home, we can all benefit from a “Big Cook!”  Not only is a Big Cook a great excuse to get friends together, but by the end of the day you have a fully stocked freezer of ready to pop in the oven meals.  Personally, I know there are several days where I get busy during the day and realize around 3 o’clock that I forgot to pull something out of the freezer for dinner.  Then I’m stuck quickly de-frosting something in the microwave or calling my husband and suggesting it’s a good night to eat out.

I had the opportunity to join some girlfriends yesterday for  a Big Cook.  It was my first experience doing one, but some of the girls were well seasoned in this area.  One of the girls emailed us a grocery list a couple of weeks in advance and we were all assigned items to bring the day of the Big Cook.  We met at 10a.m. and had successfully prepared 80 meals by 4p.m.!  BBQ Pork, Tricolor Chicken and Pasta, Taco Toss, and Zippy Pork Chops were just a few among our menu.  Our day began by organizing all of our ingredients into one area.  Then we came up with a game plan as to what we were each going to be doing.  I browned 15 pounds of hamburger, while some were mixing the sauces for the burger meals and others labeling the bags the meals were being placed into with the meal title and cooking instructions.  We continued this system through the pork and chicken dishes as well.  Throughout the day, we took turns washing dishes and dividing the meals among everyone.  At the end of the day, we each had 10 different dishes and 20 meals for four people (two of each dish)!  When it was all complete and clean up was over, we sat down with our receipts and added all the expenses together and divided by how many people were taking food home.  The average cost came out to about $9 per meal.  Not too bad when you consider the fact that each meal is for four people.  That’s about $2.25 per person per meal!

The idea for The Big Cook came from three busy mom’s named Joanne Smith, Lorelei Thomas and Deanna Siemens.  They decided one day to get together and cook in mass in order to prepare meals to freeze for future evenings.  They developed fast and healthy meals that could easily be frozen for future use.  The idea took off and in 1997 they published the cookbook titled The Big Cook.  This is one of those products I saw and said to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!?”  It’s such a great idea and there is an enormous market of mothers and fathers that would benefit from this style of cooking.

My husband and I are pretty adventurous with cooking and I wouldn’t go as far to say that we will rely on this method completely, but for those days you really just don’t feel like cooking or don’t know WHAT to cook, it’s great to know you have meals ready to go in the freezer!  Another great thing about this style of cooking is it allows us to focus more time and energy on the side dishes that surround the entrée.  For me, I usually spend most of my time preparing the entrée and then add simple vegis and rice or potato with it.  With The Big Cook in my life now, I can focus more on some new side dishes.

Overall, The Big Cook is a great concept for any family.  I am already looking forward to the next event and I hope that you adopt the idea among your friends and family and give it a try.  So fun and so easy!  Happy cooking!

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Nursery to ‘Big Girl’ Room

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Our daughter Kelly is fast approaching her two-year birthday and still wakes up every morning in our bed.  This is not something we are proud of however, we certainly don’t take for grant it the mornings we are woken with that sweet little voice and a warm hug and kiss to follow.  We were those first time parents that would go to put her to bed and had to rock, feed, or walk around with her until she was sleeping and then gently lay her in the crib, as to not disturb her or we’d be back to square one again.  After three months of maternity leave, I went back to work full-time while my husband was also working full-time, so getting up for feedings throughout the night became painful.  It was just easier, for the both of us, to bring her to bed and let her nurse in bed as opposed to sitting in the nursery during the wee hours of night.  This went on for months.  Then when we moved to Canada I was blessed with the privilege to become a stay-at-home mom.  Once we were settled, we began trying different methods of getting her to sleep through the night and in HER crib.  We tried everything, but it seemed like every time we would make some progress, she would get a bad cold that would wake her through the night or we had a vacation coming up where she was going to be co-sleeping for the duration of the trip.  For a while there it also seemed like she was terrified of the crib.  We even had family stay with us who also commented on the severity of her screams when she would wake at night.  So around the age of 15 months we put the crib away and set up a toddler bed for her (I know some will say this is extremely young, but we felt it was the right thing to do at the time).  She LOVED the bed and was super excited to sleep in it.  But to this day, she still wakes in the night wanting to come to mommy and daddy’s bed.  It’s a constant battle.

So our most recent attempt at accomplishing this transition from co-sleeping to her toddler bed consisted of converting her nursery into a “Big Girl Room.”  It took me about a week to finish and only about $100 and most importantly, Kelly LOVES it.  I made sure to include her in as many decisions as possible while putting the room together.  And as you will see, there are butterflies and flowers all over the walls because she was a big part of that task.  It’s been a couple of weeks and every time she goes to bed she comments on how ‘pretty’ the room is and points out all the butterflies and flowers to me.  We even put a Dora nightlight at the head of her bed and every night, as part of her routine, after story time she says “goodnight” to Dora and Boots.  However, she still wants us to lay with her until she’s sleeping and she still wakes up through the night wanting to come to our bed.  So on one hand, it’s been a great start to a new chapter, but on the other hand, we’re exhausted and anxious to get through this chapter.  Kelly loves her new bedroom and that’s the most important thing about this transition.  It’s a start and there IS a light at the end of the tunnel (that’s what I keep telling myself 🙂 ).

I made a canopy for her bed with some tulle from the sale rack at the fabric store, two curtain rods I got at the dollar store, and some ribbon.  Since it’s spring time, I didn’t have any trouble finding little butterflies to decorate the canopy.  We also found some wall stickers at the dollar store that were a cheap and temporary decor that was fun for her to help put up.  We found a couple of new pillows and a bean bag that she picked out to create a little reading corner.  And to add a few personal touches, I added a couple of canvas prints to her wall (DIY mod podge canvas prints); one with a picture of her and our dog, her best friend, Lilly and the other of some flowers I photographed in Europe this spring.

I changed her bedding by incorporating a butterfly themed quilt a family member made for her when she was born.  It matched perfectly, so there was no need to go out and buy something new and Kelly was excited to get to use the quilt on her bed.  Overall, the room came together really nice and it was highly affordable.  Now we just need to continue our work on getting Kelly to enjoy it ALL NIGHT LONG.

 

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Our Family Journey Through Europe, Part One – The Unforgettable Paris

Do you remember what it felt like when your wedding night had come to end and that overwhelming feeling of relief hit you and you said to your new spouse, “That was the best time of my life, but I’m so glad it’s over.”  Upon arriving home after a 2.5 week vacation in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Iceland, there was an enormous sigh of relief when we walked through the front door of our home.  After planning this trip for the past year through online research, reading books, and studying the German language, it’s hard to believe the trip is behind us now.  We saw so many amazing sights, tasted some of the best food, and shared some unforgettable experiences.  It was by far, the busiest vacation we had ever been on together and yet, the most exciting.  Planning a trip half-way around the world is a lot of work, but when you add a toddler to the picture, it changes the whole dynamic!

We put much thought and preparation into this trip, as you should when traveling abroad.  However, there is plenty to think about for two adults, but as I mentioned before about the dynamic of your travels changing with a toddler on board, there was much more to consider for her.  Were we going to pack the car seat along or trust the rental car company would have a decent one on hand?  How many diapers should we pack?  What type of clothing should we pack for her?  Did we make arrangements at all the hotels for her?  How will we manage the luggage, car seat, the stroller and our daughter in the airport?  Can we manage if there are no carts at the train station?  The list went on and on and on.  So much to think about!  All that thinking (some of it, unnecessary), and everything always worked out to our benefit.  I will add that one of the best purchases we made before we left was buying a Combi umbrella stroller.  It was FANTASTIC for quickly collapsing and carrying over the shoulder on the subways, up stairs, through tiny doors, etc.  Great purchase!  I own a B.O.B. jogger stroller and there were MANY occasions in which we said to each other, “There is no possible way we could have taken our big stroller here.”  The Combi umbrella stroller is light, great for long walks (I can vouch for that), stands alone when folded up, and has a shoulder strap for easy carrying.

Our first destination was Paris, France and as everyone knows, this is considered one of, if not, the culinary capital of the world.  With our 21-month old daughter traveling with us, we knew there was a great possibility we wouldn’t get to experience the fine dining in Paris.  We were always on the lookout for ‘family friendly’ places to eat that also offered a variety of traditional French cuisine.  While we thoroughly enjoyed every single meal in Paris, there was one evening that was simply unforgettable.  We stumbled upon La Petit Fine Restaurant and immediately took note of the exquisite menu items, including the children’s menu.  Keep in mind that the locals don’t usually eat dinner until after 7p.m.  So when we are used to eating and feeding our daughter around 5:30 – 6:00p.m., none of the restaurants were open for dinner yet.  We were a little hesitant to walk in after 7p.m. and expect Kelly to sit still and eat that late at night, but she did wonderful.  The staff barely spoke English, but right away catered to her.  This was a white linen, 5-star service restaurant with a children’s menu.  Kelly enjoyed a fresh filet of salmon with seasoned french fries and Gelato for dessert (mind you, this was from the children’s menu), while I enjoyed the BEST pork chop I have ever put in my mouth!  And my husband also had an amazing dish.  They were so helpful with keeping Kelly entertained and everyone around us was more interested in visiting with her, than worried about her disturbing their dinner.  It was the best ‘culinary experience’ we could’ve asked for in Paris.

La Petit Fine Restaurant

TripAdvisor.com became our best friend before and during the trip.  I can honestly say that there was not a sight, hotel, restaurant, or activity with great reviews on TripAdvisor.com that we didn’t enjoy.  Everywhere we stayed was based on online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations and none of them failed us.  Prior to leaving home I downloaded the Trip Advisor application onto my Ipad and whenever we had WiFi access, we would use the app as a guide for the area.

I could go on and on about Paris.  It was probably our favorite destination throughout the whole trip.  Full of culture, history, great food, beautiful scenery, and very nice people.  We enjoyed our stay very much.  Some of the highlights were definitely visiting the historical sights such as the Arc de Triomphe, Napoléon’s Tomb, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and of course, the amazing Eiffel Tower.  Many people don’t think of Paris as being a ‘kid-friendly’ place to visit, but it’s as kid-friendly as you allow it to be.  For us, we were obviously always on the lookout for kid-friendly places to visit in between the historical sights that fulfilled our pleasure for the day.  Paris is full of beautiful parks and playgrounds and many that offer daily petting zoos or pony rides.  One of our favorite parks was the Garden De Luxembourg.  It was never a problem to find a place to park the stroller, sit in the grass and let Kelly run around for a while.  Paris was delightful.  Loved every minute.  The worst part about our stay there was probably the blisters that I managed to develop from all the walking.  But that was no problem either, as there are pharmacies on every corner.  Beautiful, historical, kid-friendly, unforgettable Paris.

To be continued…

Napoleon's Tomb

Notre Dame Cathedral

Garden De Luxembourg

Arc De Triomphe

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