Spring Break in Maui – Part 1

When we decided to take a trip to Maui for Spring Break 2013, I must admit that I had mixed feelings about it. I wanted to go, of course! But I wasn’t sure how the trip would go with our two youngest travelers, ages 2 and 4. Yes, we had travelled together before. We visit the family in New Jersey each year, but we do not stay in a hotel. We stay at my parents’ house. All of us, in one hotel room, well that hasn’t historically gone very well. Usually, Mayhem keeps us up. The last time we all slept in one room was MLK Day, this year. And I was up. all. night. So here is a summary of our family vacation, and hopefully some useful tips.

Day 1: The flight from LAX to Kahului. We woke up at 5:30 am and loaded our group into the car. They were both excited and eager to climb in. We got through security rather quickly, and grabbed some food for the plane.

Traveling Tip #1: If you are renting a car, and your child is old enough for a booster seat- the rental car agency MUST provide you with one. Don’t waste your energy dragging a booster seat around the airport!

Traveling Tip #2: Make sure you have something for your child’s ears on the plane. The pressure during takeoff and landing can be very painful. For us, lollipops are great and ‘gummy’ goodies work well too.

Traveling Tip #3: Before you leave, stock up on ‘new things’ like coloring books, stickers, and flash cards. Pack them a backpack, with their ‘new things’ for the plane and don’t let them open it until they get on the plane. Hype it up, make it like Christmas for them. I usually try to include a ‘prize’, which is an inexpensive Lego set for Little J or dinosaur figurines. For some reason, they are very exciting?

When we arrived at the hotel, we asked for a crib for Mayhem (I had called ahead to make sure this was an option). We got there around dinner time, so we ordered room service and relaxed in the room for the evening.

Day 2: We got up early, and scoped out the kids pool area. The pool had a waterfall, was only about a foot deep and there was also an adjacent playground! Oh, and the view from the kids pool? The ocean. Can’t beat that! We laid our towels out after breakfast, and then headed back to the room to get ready. We ended up back in the room pretty early for a nap, since this trip involved a three hour time change.

For dinner, we went to La Haina and had dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise. We really enjoyed this, and we had an ocean view. Live music and great atmosphere, what more could you want on vacation!

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Traveling Tip #5: Don’t ‘over plan’ the trip with young children. Be flexible, and have backup options!

Day 3: We wanted to get off the hotel property for a bit, so we talked to the hotel concierge and decided to try to find ‘the blowhole’. It was not particularly easy to find, and when we got there we realized it was not a hike fit for a 2 year old. Mayhem had to stay behind with Grandma and Grandpa while Little J, Daddy and I hiked down the mountain in search of ‘the blowhole’.

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After some more pool time, my husband and I got a chance to leave the boys with Grandma and Grandpa to go exploring on our own. We opted to head back into La Haina for some people-watching. We had a great time, visiting the local craft fair and grabbing a drink at Captain Jack’s.

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So far, so good! More on the trip soon!

One of those days…

ImageYesterday was one of those days… One of those days where I found out, after being at work all day- that I still had the tag on my new blouse. One of those days where I had so much to do that I couldn’t get out of work on time. One of those days where when I got home, the work was just beginning. One of those days where Little J cried over everything, and I wanted to. Here’s to today, and hoping it’s one of those days that’s a little better than yesterday

Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

theme image

Saturday was Mayhem’s 2nd birthday. We celebrated with a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party, and it was a success! I wanted to share what we accomplished, so you could easily do this too!

First, I knew there we some things that I would want to order online- so I started there. I ordered the invitations from Crafts by Jillian, which I am in love with!

invites

I ordered this adorable shirt from Little Petunia on Etsy. She makes really great quality items for kids. She customized the shirt for Mayhem, and the shirt was super soft and thick.

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I also ordered the Mickey Mouse plushies during the Disney store’s 2 for 1 sale. $7 each. Next, I ordered the bounce house to entertain the kids. I found one with Mickey ears!

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Then, I tackled the paper goods. Target had pretty much everything I needed there- red table cloth, red and black paper plates, black and white polka dot napkins, yellow plastic utensils, and red Solo cups. I was keeping it simple!

dessert table

We all had a great time, which is what matters most. And the kids loved the Mickey Mouse theme. I have seen other Mickey parties with ‘hot diggity dogs’, which is so cute! We just did pizza for our lunch, and served cut up strawberries and popcorn as snacks for the kids. I put ears on the kids table for each kid, and they were all running around with them on. Of course, some of the moms had them on too!

The goody bags each had one of the plush Mickey Mouse dolls, a couple bags of M&Ms, Mickey Mouse bubbles, and individual packs of goldfish. The were in 99 cent red buckets from our local party store, and we used FREE Mickey Mouse printables to decorate both the buckets and the water bottles that we put on the kids table.PicMonkey CollageWhat other ideas do you have for a Mickey Mouse birthday party? 

Quick and Healthy Snacks for Preschoolers

Little J is somewhat of a challenge when it comes to eating ‘meals’. He is not very interested in eating, sometimes I wonder if he would eat at all if not for me! This post is as much for me, as for you. I’ve gathered a few snack ideas that are quick and easy. Yogurt and applesauce are my old standbys, but he’s been refusing me by saying, “I had that already.” So I’ve attempted to mix it up a bit.

1. English muffin pizza. We used to make these as kids, and I still love them. J seems more interested in eating things that he can help me make. So I’m hopefully on this one! If all else fails, Mayhem would be happy to help me make and eat these. I use whole wheat English Muffins, marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella.

2. Frozen fruit bars. The fact that liquids freeze in the freezer makes this treat fascinating to the boys. Mix up the 100% juice and some fruit, toss it in the freezer. The next day, wow! homemade frozen fruit bars.

3. Smoothies. We use ice, milk, yogurt and fruit. Blenders are loud, and boys LOVE loud!

4. Whole grain waffles. Peanut butter is the favorite topping at our house.

5. Dips. Mayhem loves to dip. Rather than ranch dressing, I’m trying to steer him towards hummus and veggies. J prefers strawberries with yogurt dip.

And, in the ‘candy jar’ I’m using raw almonds. This goes without saying, but be sure your little ones can handle an almond before you allow this. But I’m happy to have us all eating those instead of M&Ms! What healthy snacks do you serve at your house?

A Long, Wonderful, Family-Filled Weekend

This past weekend was a great one. We got to spend a lot of quality time together as a family, and we did some really fun activities! I personally had a 4 day weekend, which was sooooo needed. Here’s a run down of the weekend’s main events.

SaturdayHow to Train Your Dragon, Live Spectacular. My MIL took us to Anaheim to see this amazing show. It was truly astounding what they were able to do! The dragons breathed real fire, flew, and interacted with the actors. It’s a cute story to begin with, and if you have not seen the movie I highly recommend it. Of course, we had to bring home a dragon toy to commemorate the occasion. Little J LOVED it! I think we all enjoyed it a lot more than we originally imagined. It was a 2 hour show, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing really little ones.

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J had so much fun!

Sunday: We got up early and headed to Disneyland. We were unaware of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon that was going on in the morning, and it took us half an hour to get from the freeway exit to the parking lot. But, when we finally got into CA Adventure- we secured FastPass tickets to the World of Color show at 8 pm. Then we went on a few rides, and checked into our hotel. Disney’s Grand Californian has bunk beds in the rooms, and the boys LOVED them! It’s also just a gorgeous hotel, and you get into the Disney parks an hour early when you stay there.

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Mayhem is hard to catch SITTING STILL … this was the best I could do!

We went to dinner for my cousin’s birthday, then we went to see the World of Color. My husband had been pressing to see this for a long time- I wasn’t really that interested. But this too exceeded my expectations! It was water special effects, Disney music, scenes from Disney movies projected on the water… hard to explain. I’ll just say that I was skeptical, but I very much enjoyed the experience. It was crowded, but we left the boys with my parents so we got to enjoy a little ‘adult’ time.

Monday: We got up at 6 am and headed to CA Adventure at 7 am. We did this so we could get on Radiator Springs Racers before the line got too long. I thought this ride was really well done, and exciting. J told me, “I will NEVER go on that again. It was TOO FAST!” Oh well, at least we didn’t wait 2 hours for him to tell me that. We spent the rest of the morning at the park, then headed back to the hotel for brunch with the characters. I was so happy that the boys weren’t too afraid! When we see them in the park, neither of them wants to get too close. But J gave Pluto a big hug, which was so adorable.

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I can NEVER get him to approach the characters! I was so happy that he gave Pluto a hug :)

Monday afternoon, we drove home and the boys were exhausted. They both took naps, and I cleaned out the car and got ready for the week. All in all, a very fun weekend! Hopefully this coming weekend will be a bit more relaxing- but I can’t complain. I think the girls (Mollie and Kallie, the dogs) will be happy if we stay home ALL WEEKEND.

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Everyone was tired. Great time to snuggle.

What did you do this weekend?

5 DIY Valentine’s Day Treats for Kids

baking with kids valentine's day treat ideas recipes

baking with kids valentine's day treat ideas recipes

This Valentine’s Day since Little J is in school, I wanted to put together some treats for the kids. I wanted SIMPLE, and something that we could make together. Below are some DIY Valentine treats for those important people in your life — from your sweetheart, neighbor or co-workers, even your child’s teacher. There are so many great DIY Valentine ideas this year, here are a few of my favorites:

Rice Krispie Treats - Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make this delicious treat into a Valentine’s Day treat.

Chocolate covered pretzels - Can you tell that my kids are into sprinkles? This is another treat that you can decorate with Valentine’s Day sprinkles.

Marshmallow pops - Instead of cake pops, try marshmallow pops! You can use white chocolate, and decorate with festive pink/red/hearts sprinkles.

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Gluten Free! Image source

Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies - Super easy, and fun for the kids to decorate.

Goody bags for any of the items above - Jaime and Jacinda from Prudent Baby have some adorable free printables up on their site. 

Get the kids involved, and enjoy this Valentine’s Day!

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Each year in January, we ‘reset’. We try to realign our ideals with our reality. I normally don’t truly set resolutions for myself. But this year, I’ve decided to give it a try. You can keep me honest, and call me out. Here goes!

1. Being In The Moment- I’m going to try not to worry so much about what the future holds, since this just adds stress to my life. It’s important for me to enjoy the ‘here and now’ with our boys growing up so fast!

2. Stay Focused- When I’m at work, I want to be doing my best. When I’m at home, I want to be focused on being a better parent. The boys deserve my full attention. It’s easy to be too tired, or too cranky to really be there with them. I want to focus on them. Tangible results for this goal to me include getting on the floor and playing trains or dinosaurs. That doesn’t sound too bad!

3. Looking My Best- Because I believe that this will translate to feeling my best- which will help with all the other resolutions! I want to try to be ‘put together’ as much as I can. Since I get up so early for work, I tend to get lazy with my appearance towards the end of the week (by this I mean, after Monday). I would like to look professional, and after seeing photos of myself with my hair up- I need to keep my HAIR DOWN! More likely, I’ll search Pinterest for ‘professional updos’ – see below!

4. Being Nicer- I want to put positive vibes out there, and I know that I’ll get positivity back! You never know why people behave the way they do, but this year I’m focusing on being a better ME. I’m not going to worry about what’s causing other people to behave badly. I want my children to be pleasant, and easy to get along with- so I need to be a role model!

5. Eating Healthier- I know this is very general, but I would like to shift our family’s diet towards more veggies and organic produce and milk. If I present my children (and my husband) with healthy options, everyone will benefit. Simple, healthy and fresh food is the goal here. Less processed, sugary and ‘thrown together’ meals.

What are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions? Have you kept them so far? It has been 10 days! 

Three Adorable (and No-Sew) Toddler Halloween Costumes

I am not very crafty. I’ll pause and wait while my sister and mother stop laughing…still waiting…still waiting…OK, now if you are still trying to figure out what to dress up your toddler as for Halloween, I have scavenged the internet and found some cute ideas. I will warn you that I have been looking for little boy Halloween costumes, but a couple of these would work for boy or girl. Enjoy!

Baby Frankenstein

1. Baby Frankenstein - Instructions for this adorable Frankenstein can be found at www.parenting.com  Super easy! 

2. Pumpkin - This mom posted a sweet video of her son, with instructions on how to make this simple, no-sew pumpkin costume.

3. “Up Costume” – This is the most adorable costume I found. Very simple, you can make it at home. Everyone would know what this is- which is important for a costume, in my opinion! 

And for those of you who are more crafty than I am (believe me, that will be most of you)- here is a cute idea that works for boys or girls. It does involve a bit of sewing, but not very much! Our office did this concept last year for Halloween, and I tried it on Baby Mayhem just for kicks. Pretty cute!

Garden Gnome costume

BONUS COSTUME: Garden Gnome - This costume is pretty easy, you just have to make the hat. You can decorate it however you’d like- jeans and a plaid shirt work well for the outfit. Very inexpensive, and adorable!

 

Are you dressing up your toddler? Show me pictures! 

Taking Time Out

It’s been a hot summer in So Cal. We’ve all been complaining about the heat, and looking forward to Fall. Knowing that ‘fall weather’ here is anything under 72 degrees, or ‘gasp’ even potentially some RAIN! We haven’t taken advantage of living 10 minutes away from the beach this summer. We’ve been busy, caught up, working, sick, you name it. There have been weekends where I felt trapped, unable to get out of the house at all.

This weekend, I told my husband that we should head to the beach. I said, “It will be good for our souls.” I’m sure he thought I was crazy- but sometimes I just need to get out of the house! So we packed up the boys, and headed west. We spent the morning in Laguna Beach, playing in the sand and just enjoying being outside.

Laguna Beach, California – October 2012

It was so nice to see them all smiling, and enjoying each other. It made me take a deep breath, and remember that THESE GUYS are what is important. How do you take ‘time out’ with your family?

How I Handled My Oldest Child Going to Preschool

Little J makes me so proud. He started preschool, and there were no tears… from him. I tried to take some of those classic ‘first day’ photos on our porch. Except, trying to explain the ‘look over your shoulder’ pose to a 4 year old turned out to be much more difficult than I had planned for.

sure, that works. not what I was thinking, but it works.

Then, I loaded him into the car and spent the ride explaining how he was going to school and STAYING at school- and that I would see him later. He told me that you’re not supposed to turn right on red (seriously). When we arrived, he marched into the classroom to take a look. He was a bit nervous at first, but then he folded right into the routine with the other kids. He was bubbling with excitement when he got home, so I asked him a few questions.

Me: Who was your favorite kid? J: All of them.

Me: What did you do today? J: Played with kids. Had a snack.

Me: Did you make anything? Or sing any songs? J: Yeah, we made fish. But they had glitter on them, so I didn’t bring it home ‘cuz it would be too messy.

Getting nowhere fast. Guess I’ll have to be content to hear it all second-hand. But he’s really enjoying his half-days at school. They celebrated his birthday, and he got a crown to wear for the day. He had ‘share day’, or ‘show and tell’ to children of the 80′s. And he brought a T-Rex, of course.

It made me a little sad to leave him there. It’s a strange feeling, and I know many parents have to leave their children when they are much younger… but it was a first for me! I never cried before I had kids, and there I was crying in my minivan before leaving him at school for his first day! Children have destroyed me!

Have you cried more since you had kids?