Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pumpkin's Donut Birthday Party

Pumpkin, my oldest, turned 5 this summer and the kid is obsessed with birthday parties. She comes up with so many party themes that she’s got her birthday celebrations planned out for at least the next five years. (If you’re curious, future events may involve Star Wars or roller skating.)

This year, we decided to have her party at the i.d.e.a. Museum, a local children’s museum where we are members. The party includes the room, some decorations and an art project for the kids,  plus admission to the museum all day. It’s pretty low maintenance, but we wanted to put our own spin on it nonetheless, so Pumpkin and I settled on a donut theme. She loves donuts! (But who doesn’t?)

She helped me pick out the plates, napkins, straws and candle from our favorite local party store, Petite Party Studio, and the canisters for the donut holes from Michael’s.  We ordered invitations and a banner from Etsy.

I wanted to include her in the planning because she definitely has her own ideas about how things should be, but I wanted to have a few surprises, too.

Donut Shirt
Pumpkin didn’t know until the day before the party (her actual birthday when she opened gifts at home) that I ordered her a special shirt to wear. Funny story – remember earlier when I told you she loves birthdays? Well, on her birthday, she woke up at 1:30 in the morning ready to start the day. Luckily, my husband was able to get her back to sleep. Then on the day of the party she woke up and got dressed in her new shirt before ever coming out of her room. She still needed a shower before the party so I had her change pack into pajamas, but we were cracking up because this is something we ask her to do every day before school but she has only ever done it once or twice before – she was just so excited for her party!  

She knew I would be picking up donuts and donut holes for the party, and serving flavored milks for the kids and cold brew for the grown-ups. She didn’t know that I also ordered chocolate cake (her favorite!) shaped like a donut. It was a hit!

Donut Seed Favor Bags
I will confess that I’m not a huge fan of party favors because our kids have so much stuff already. (In fact, we usually ask our guests not to bring gifts, although this year Pumpkin requested donations instead.) When we’ve done parties before, the gifts have been edible, and they were this year as well! She picked her favorite patterns of Bumkins’ small snack bags as favors (which I love because they are reusable and machine washable, and she loves because they have her favorite characters). The surprise for Pumpkin was what I put inside – donut seeds! These were simply strawberry and chocolate Cheerios mixed together. We rarely get chocolate cereal (this was actually probably a first in our house since we’ve had kids) so the girls were pretty excited.

Pumpkin had a great time at the party painting and playing with her sister and their friends at the museum – and of course, all the sugar involved! If you can’t splurge a little on your birthday, when can you?

Friday, July 1, 2016

10 Summertime Poolside Essentials

My oldest was born in Reno, and in her first 18 months she was in a pool exactly once and it was at a resort casino – how’s that for a stereotype? 
When she turned a year and a half in January of 2013, we signed her up for her first swim lessons at an indoor pool and I remember driving there in the snow thinking what an odd time to be swimming.
The timing worked out, though … at the end of March that year, I accepted a job in Phoenix, and we moved back to Arizona (my husband grew up here and I had previously lived here). 
Summer must-haves
Now my oldest is 4 and has a 2-year-old sister. Here in the Valley of the Sun, we find ourselves in the pool much more frequently – at our friends’ houses, pool parties at the rec centers, etc. And so many splash pads, too!
We also have our girls enrolled in swim lessons every summer to help them learn to be safe around the water. Their lessons are four nights a week, so we always have our poolside essentials ready to go.
Poolside Essentials:
  • Sunscreen: This is a must in the summer, and really should be a year-round habit. Our kiddos get slathered every morning before school and every evening before we head to the pool. 
  • Swim suits: Sometimes the girls wear traditional swimsuits, sometimes I put them in long-sleeve tops with UV protection. 
  • Swim diapers: Our oldest is done with diapers. For our youngest, we love the Bumkins swim diapers that can be worn over and over again. Of course, I love that we are not throwing disposables in the landfill. But let’s be honest – I also love the cute patterns and the fact that they look much nicer under a swimsuit. 
  • Water shoes: The girls need slip-proof water shoes both for walking around the pool before and after lessons, and for water day at school. Closed-toe are the safest (and required for school).
  • Towels and cover-ups: To be more efficient during our jam-packed swim-lesson nights, we bring one towel for the parent who goes in the pool and terrycloth robe cover-ups for the girls. 
  • Sun hats: We don’t need these for swim lessons, but for a long day at the beach or pool – or anytime in the sun – it’s best to have the added protection. I’m always concerned about the parts in my girls’ hair getting too much sun!
  • Sunglasses: Sunlight can damage the eyes so, like hats, these are also good to keep handy if you’ll be outside for a while. 
  • Wet/dry bags: We keep these bags everywhere – the diaper bag, the girls’ backpacks for school – and they get tons of use in the summer. The outer pocket can hold sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses and more, while we use the inside pocket to transport wet clothes home. 
Wet/dry bag
    • Goggles: While a parent still goes in the pool with our youngest for swim lessons and she rarely likes to get her head wet, our oldest is a little more advanced and she always wants her goggles on to put her face under the water. Little sis usually demands some after lessons are over to be like her sister. 
    • Water: We’ve held steady over 110 degrees for several days in a row now. I offer both girls water frequently and ask them to drink up and refill their bottles at school so they are hydrated before going out to swim in the heat.
     Hanging to dry

    Thursday, June 30, 2016

    June is Potty Training Month!

    The potty training journey is an emotional one for everyone involved. Little ones are eager to become a big kid, but can get frustrated with the process involved. Parents look forward to getting rid of diapers, but it can be a tough realization that you don’t have a little baby anymore.

    There are tons of methods people use to reach the end goal, and reading all of the articles could leave you confused and back at the beginning. While we won’t tell you that one is best, we can say that to make the process a bit easier, you’ll want to have the right gear. Here are some of our favorite Bumkins products that have come in handy while we’ve helped our little ones down the sometimes-bumpy road of potty training:

    Wet/Dry Bag: Accidents will happen, so it’s best to be prepared. Keep a clean, dry change of clothes handy, and have a place to store the wet, messy clothes with a Wet/Dry Bag. The waterproof back pocket is perfect for clothes, and the front pocket can hold wipes to clean up any messes, toilet seat covers, or any other potty accessories.

    Large Snack Bag: As little ones progress, accidents get less frequent and smaller, so you may not need to bring a full change of clothes. Keep extra underpants in a Large Snack Bag, which can then be used to carry the wet ones after changing.

    Small Snack Bag: Rewards can be the key in motivating some of the more stubborn children. Whatever forms of currency/bribery you use – M&Ms, lollipops, cookies, stickers – keep a stash at the ready in a Small Snack Bag.

    Splat Mat: Sometimes, little ones are so involved in whatever they are playing/watching/reading, they’ll wait too long to make a trip to the potty and an accident can occur. Have them sit on a Splat Mat while they’re focused on their fun and you’ll keep furniture and floors clean and dry.

    While some kids take to potty-training quickly, it can take a while for others. Don’t be discouraged! It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in the stall of a public restroom waiting for what seems like forever as your kid does anything but go potty, but know that you will, one day, be able to ditch the diaper bag and enjoy the freedom of a toilet-trained kiddo.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    Painting Fireworks for the 4th!

    By Carly of Carly G. Media

    With everyone in the patriotic spirit, Independence Day is a perfect time to craft with kids. Save your empty toilet paper rolls and grab some red, white, and blue paints to make fireworks the whole family can enjoy.


    What you will need:
    • Red, white, and blue paints 
    • 3 toilet paper rolls
    • 3 paper bowls
    • Scissors 
    • Tape 
    • Paper

    • Start by cutting strips into one end of the toilet paper rolls. The deeper the cuts, the bigger the firework blast.
    • Pour red, white, and blue paint into separate paper bowls.
    • Have kids dip the fanned out end of the toilet paper roll into the paint.
    • Stamp the toilet paper roll onto a piece of paper.
    • Repeat with each color.
    • Tada! Fun and easy firework art for the holiday.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    Breakfast: An Edible Ode to Dad on Father's Day

    By Jessica a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist

    Fathers Day Breakfast ideas

    Everyone told us when our first child was born that the time would fly by. They were right. Our three sons are now in fifth grade, first grade, and preschool. The last decade has brought my husband and me more mess, more noise, more laughter, more driving, more potty jokes, more sweetness, more struggle, more laundry, and more love than we ever imagined possible.

    We’re finally down to one five-point harness car-seat and one booster. No more cribs, diapers, highchairs, or strollers. Kid-induced sleep deprivation is no longer an issue. We used to spend many hours arguing over how to sleep-train: Ferber vs. Sears vs. Happiest Baby on the Block vs. Babywise…thankfully, we survived that stage (twice, with our first two kids…the third one loved to sleep, thankfully). My babydaddy and I still wake up too early and stay up too late, but now we can blame Netflix, HBO, and work.

    Every day I am grateful that I picked a great dad for my kids. On our first date, sixteen years ago, he charmed me with stories about his siblings and grandparents. So I knew right from the beginning that he was a family-oriented person.

    Since then, his actions have demonstrated his values. He prioritizes our family’s needs. He’s loving, honest, responsible, kind, a good sport, and very well-organized. He dresses better than me, and almost always knows pop culture references before I do. He’s super goofy, which people don’t really expect at first because he has very good manners. He’s good at explaining things, and making small talk. He’s good at being a friend and teaching our kids how to be a good friend to others. Our kids know that their dad is the expert on camping and hiking. He shows them how to fix things around the house. They know he’s the one to ask about art, architecture, how to organize their desk and what’s going on with just about every sport and playoff situation going on. He explains personal finance concepts, how to run a business, and stuff that’s related to our iPhones and computers. And “he doesn’t make us eat too many vegetables, like you,” said our six-year-old when I asked him to tell me his favorite thing about his dad.

    So this Father’s Day, the kids and I will be showing this very special guy how much we appreciate him with our usual festive traditions. We’ll make breakfast at home, which is very likely to include pancakes with berries and chocolate chips - a recent family favorite. There will definitely be bacon, since my husband loves bacon. Coffee and a green smoothie will also be on the menu (for us, not the kids). There will also be goofy cards and crafty homemade gifts. We always plan the day around doing a family activity, like a hike or a swim. For rainy or too-hot days, we’ve been known to visit to an art museum or an indoor rock climbing gym. Then we always head back home for some down time to relax.

    Here are some Father’s Day breakfasting tips to make the morning fun and energize everyone for a fun day of celebrating Dad: 

    1. Choose one of dad’s favorite recipes; keep it simple to assemble or prepare.

    2. Shop for ingredients the day before to make the morning go smoothly.

    3. Kids can help out too, by arranging fruit on a plate, pressing buttons on the blender for a smoothie, or setting the table. Playing “restaurant” and drawing a menu is fun for preschoolers.

    Recipe ideas: -

    Avocado toast: Toast whole grain bread and spread sliced ripe avocado on it. You can also mix mashed avocado with a squirt of lemon juice and spread it. Add a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper. Top with a scrambled, soft-boiled, or fried egg.

    Eggs, hash browns & fruit: My kids love the task of cracking eggs into a bowl and beat them. Use frozen hash browns, or grate your own potatoes. Rinsing fruit is a fun task for toddlers.

    Crepes with Nutella and sliced bananas – Mix up the crepe batter and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. Or buy crepes, ready-made, at the grocery store.

    Veggie and cheese omelette: Chop veggies the night before and let everyone pick which ones they want to include. Bagel with lox and cream cheese: Shop for these ingredients in advance. Add sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and capers. Arrange on a plate – voila!

    Breakfast sandwich – a scrambled egg and a slice of melted cheese on an English muffin is always a home run.

    Fathers day breakfast

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Celebrating Nova's 6 Month Half Birthday

    By Alicia of Lollygag Learning

    Reaching Nova's 6 month "birthday" felt like a big milestone in our family. She has learned so much in the past few weeks- sitting unsupported, pulling herself to stand in her crib, first words and signs, and she is working really hard on crawling. As parents we have survived half a year of parenting two little ones. We decided to celebrate Nova's half birthday and the start of a new phase of her life. I made a cupcake out of pure avocado by filling a silicone cupcake liner with sliced and mashed avocado.

    Avocado Cupcake
    1 ripe avocado
    1 silicone cupcake liner
    1 candle
    Paper towels

    1. Cut avocado in half. Slice one half and cut a couple slices into small segments to fit in the silicone cupcake liner. These slices will hold the candle in place. Reserve the other slices for your baby to explore.
    2. Scoop the flesh of the other half of avocado into a bowl and mash as desired. You can add a bit of water, breastmilk, or formula if you want to make it more creamy.
    3. Fill a Ziploc bag with the mashed avocado and snip the bottom corner off with scissors. Pipe the mashed avocado into the cupcake liner to create a frosted look.
    4. Serve immediately to enjoy the pretty, fresh color! This recipe will work with a variety of first foods such as banana, sweet potato, or butternut squash.

    Be ready for a huge mess! We took the celebration out to our back porch and used our Bumbo Seat with the tray that way it could all be washed down after her meal. Our Bumkins Superbib saved a lot of cleaning and stains. The thing I love about Superbibs is they can be washed a few different ways. If it’s not a major mess I wipe it down with a damp cloth. I also toss them in a sink of warm soapy water, rinse, and hang to dry. A few times per week I toss the Superbibs in the laundry with my kitchen towels and washcloths then hang to dry.

    Big sister Josie was very excited to be a part of the celebration and eagerly ran to Nova with a spoonful of avocado before we were ready! It was a lot of fun to watch Nova taste her cupcake and explore the texture. I did offer her a few bites of mashed avocado on a spoon but she was most interested in feeding herself the large slices I had set aside.

    Keep in mind that your baby’s first meal will probably only be a few bites. The prep for our celebration lasted longer than the time she spent eating but it was a lot of fun to share the experience as a family. I am glad we have memories and photos to show the girls from Nova’s half birthday! Once Nova started showing she was done we hosed everything down... baby included!

    Disclosure: I received Bumkins product in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    Packing for a Trip with Kids

    By Tammy of Musing of a Working Mom

    I’ve traveled quite a bit with my oldest daughter, who is almost 5, but a couple weeks ago we had the chance to take a trip – just the two of us – for the first time since her little sister was born. We flew from Phoenix to Reno for a wedding at Lake Tahoe.

    Packing for a three-day-weekend with a soon-to-be kindergartener is much lighter than packing for a trip with a baby or a toddler, but there are still some essentials I packed into her backpack (which, of course, I ended up carrying most of the time).

    For my kid, who loves to draw and practice writing, this is what I packed in her carry-on:
    • Favorite stuffed animals and favorite blanket
    • New travel coloring books (some she picked out and one I surprised her with)
    • Notepad and pencils/crayons
    • Headphones to watch a movie on the plane
    • Books (not pictured)
    • Change of clothes
    • Sweatshirt
    • Water bottle (empty before going through security)
    • Snacks
    • Wet bag (if you need to change clothes, you will likely need the wet bag)

    My own carry-on list was a bit different. Using the three-pack set of clear travel bags from Bumkins, I packed the small bag with toiletry items: unscented lotion, lip balm, hair ties, etc. The medium bag I used for electronics: phone chargers, headphones, etc. The large bag I used for snacks – it’s large enough to pack a few snack bars as well as some small Bumkins Snack Bags filled with other treats such as almonds and trail mix.

    Other items in my carry-on included:

  • Water bottle
  • Travel coffee mug
  • Sweater
  • Laptop and DVDs

  • Since it was a short trip, we shared a suitcase. At the last minute, we actually had to downsize the suitcase because there was a back-up with checked luggage at the airport and we had to carry everything on. The smaller suitcase meant I had to downsize my toiletry bag, so I pulled out just the inside insert and slipped it into a Bumkins Wet Bag in case any liquid items leaked on the flight. (Tip: Don't completely fill any containers with liquid items; leave room for expansion.) We luckily had no leaks and used the wet bag as a laundry bag for the remainder of the trip.

    The trip was quick one, but we had a great time visiting family and going to the wedding. My daughter enjoyed splashing around in Lake Tahoe just before we left for the airport, so the change of clothes and wet bag in her backpack worked out perfectly!