Tips for Taking Littles to Disneyland

disneyland

It’s been almost a year since Ben turned two. For his second birthday we went to Disneyland. It feels like every day I run into a parent telling me they’re planning their first trip to Disneyland.  I’m going to share with you my tips and advice for your first trip to Disneyland with your children.

  1. Choosing your hotel.  We went for two days. We stayed off property in a nearby hotel that was only half a mile away. The hotel had a free tram to Disneyland. Most hotels nearby have a free tram to Disneyland and are half price compared to the hotels on Disneyland’s property. However, with that being said there is a lot of convenience to staying on property. It does take two trams to get to Disneyland. With two babies under two years old and all of the stuff we had to bring it would’ve been more convenient to stay on property for sure.   If you’re going to Disneyland and trying to keep a budget then I recommend staying off property, but if you’re concerned about handling the two trams then it might be worth it to pay the extra money and stay on property.
  2. Take advantage of stroller rental.  Immediately upon getting through the gates at Disneyland we had to take our second tram. The first day we drove our car and parked at Disneyland. You can purchase a discounted parking pass online when you purchase your tickets. The parking lot is pretty far from the entry into Disneyland. This presented an issue for us, our double stroller, and all of our stuff. We had to collapse the double stroller, put the boys on the bus, and also carried the double stroller on the bus-it took up a lot of room.  The second day that we visited Disneyland I went by myself with my boys. As you enter Disneyland there is stroller rental which is rather affordable. So I simply wore Adam in a baby carrier all day and had the stroller for Ben.  The strollers that they have at Disneyland are large jogger style strollers with a good amount of storage. img_4986
  3. Get your celebration buttons!  For special events there are buttons you can wear as a group that lets the Disney characters know that you are celebrating. We all wore Happy Birthday buttons to celebrate Ben’s birthday and characters spent a little bit more time with my boys because of it. We were given these free buttons as soon as we entered Disneyland.  Just ask at the first kiosk you see.
  4. Dress comfortable. I highly recommend having your kids wear long, light clothing as the Disneyland chairs, rides, and changing tables are heavily trafficked public areas.  Wear sneakers, hats, and bring sweatshirts for the cool California nights!img_5026
  5. Bring supplies from home. Take hand sanitizer and use it repeatedly, take sunscreen, water bottles,and snacks. The food at Disneyland is expensive. You can cut costs a lot by bringing some sandwiches and some water bottles.  Our hotel also had a complimentary breakfast that we took advantage of every morning.
  6. Kids love meeting the characters!  To see and interact with the most characters definitely check out the restaurants. We went to Goofy’s Café and the boys were able to meet Mini Mouse, Chip and Dale, and Goofy.  The boys had a truly magical experience there. We ate there one night and the next night we just ordered pizza to our hotel room. It’s definitely worth a splurge.
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  8. Get a free line hopper app.  I did not plan on standing in line for hours on end with two babies under two years old to go on rides. So I downloaded a line hopper app and used it the whole time. I also recommend bringing a back up battery pack for your phone so you can charge it throughout the day. Between the battery running out for pictures and the line hopper app it’s good to have a back up.
  9. Nap time.  For nap time I did not go back to the hotel. If the boys were tired I would just take a break have a snack some water relax with my phone somewhere shady. Whichever boy was tired I put him in the stroller and let him relax.
  10. Cool off at the shows.  There are so many free entertaining shows on property and it’s one of the best ways to stay cool in the summer sun. We were at Disneyland in the end of June and it was so hot and humid! We went to every single one of the shows and despite my boys being very young, their jaws were on the floor at each show. They sat quietly and paid attention as soon as the characters came onstage. Most shows run about 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
  11. Cool off and shop!  We didn’t do too much shopping but on property there is the world’s largest largest Disney Store. So I had to check that out! They have items there that I’m not gonna find here in Vegas at the mall or online. I definitely think it’s worth splurging on and it’s another way to cool off! 

How My Family Stays Cool in the Summer With Honest Co.

honestSummer is serious in Las Vegas!  With temperatures reaching 125 degrees we take a lot of precautions as parents with our children’s safety in the heat.  No, we don’t stay inside all day in the air conditioning, however, we do choose how and when we go outside!

Most mornings in the summer we get up early to enjoy the outdoors.  The boys have water tables and a sand pit in the backyard.  We go to the park, play in splash pads, and walk the dogs before 10 AM.  By 10 AM the temperature can easily be 95 degrees, so that’s the time we do our indoor play.  When the boys are outside, even though it’s not during the high heat, I put sunscreen and hats on them.  These simple blue hats from Honest Co. go with most of the boys’ summer outfits and have SPF 50 built in! They’re also waterproof for the beach, splash pad, and water table fun my sons’ have every summer!

The hats fold up small and can fit easily in my diaper bag for busy days and trips. When we went to Israel they came in so handy!

Another way we have fun in the summer is swim classes. We actually do swim classes year round at Water Wings Swim School. They have indoor heated pools. Ben just moved up a level and is so proud! We go 1-2 times a week. I still get in the pool with Ben, but next month when he turns 3 I won’t need too I the water with him, so I will start Adam too. While we currently don’t have a pool, we are looking to move to a house with a pool so swim gear is so necessary. Even though Ben is potty trained I do still put a swim diaper on him and I love the swim diapers from Honest Co. They come in many sizes and cute prints, which is Honest Co.’s specialty.

When the boys’ are swimming even though the pool is inside I don’t want them catching cold, so they wear a swim shirt to the pool. It’s also a great cover up for the beach, outdoor pools, and at the splash pad. I don’t want them to get a sunburn!

Click here to get 20% off your child’s summer sun essentials!
20% Off Sun Care from The Honest Company. Use code: SUPER 20

Parenting Tips for Two Under Two

2 underSo when I found out I was pregnant with Adam, Ben was only nine months. To say I was in shock would not even begin to describe the feelings I had. With Ben we had tried for three years to get pregnant and ended up being successful through IVF. Adam was truly a surprise!

A couple hours after I found out I was pregnant with Adam it dawned on me how young Ben would still be when Adam would be born.  He would still be in diapers, he would be walking, but he still would not be completely verbal. He would not understand why mommy is with this little baby instead of him sometimes and that concerned me.

Being a mom of two under two is truly mommy boot camp. You are changing two sets of diapers, you need a really good double stroller, and you have two little babies who depend on you 24 hours a day.  Just remember it will get easier. Here are some tips that worked for me while I had two under two.

1.  Figure out how you will transport your children to and from your vehicle before you try it. I started teaching Ben to walk to the car and back to the house on his own in my late stages of pregnancy.  We don’t have a lot of traffic on my street and it was a good start for him to learn how to behave in a street or parking lot. Now he’s learning how to behave in a street and the parking lot at 2 1/2.  Most of the time what I would do is have Adam in the baby carrier leaving the house and hold Ben’s hand or have him walk beside me to the car. I would put Ben in the car first and have Adam in the yard in his baby carrier.  I figured since Ben was more mobile it would be better for him to be the first put in and the last to be taken out of the vehicle.  If you live in the city with a lot of traffic this might not work for you.

2.  Have a really organized diapering station. I bought a set of three plastic drawers that I keep next to my pack and play/changing table.  I used ABC organization: the top drawer are Adam’s diapers, the second drawer were Ben’s diapers, and the last drawer were cloth diapers.

3.  Use nap time effectively. I understand if you need to rest and sleep. If not, I recommend getting your housework done, starting dinner, and paying bills.  A newborn sleeps a lot so you can use some of that time to have one on one with your toddler.

4.  Create a laundry schedule. I have had the same laundry schedule for the last year. I start doing all my loads of wash and folding them on Thursday through Saturday morning. Then over the weekend when my husband is home he can keep an eye on the kids while I put away all of our laundry.

5.  Organize a system for hand-me-down clothing. I use large plastic totes that I label with Ben’s clothing size to store for Adam.  When Adam’s done with them I have a friend I gift them to.

6.  Don’t be afraid to enlist the village’s help.  Friends and family can help you load your kids in the car, keep an eye on your baby while you chase your toddler around the playground, and give you a minute with your significant other.

7.  Streamline bath time.  Whether your kids bathe together or hop in with you try to cut down on the time bathing each individual.  Another option is a bathing schedule as to who gets a bath each day.

8.  Practice self care.  Seems impossible right?  I can’t say that I was very good at or am very good at putting myself first.  Taking a stroller walk to get back into shape, waking up 10 minutes earlier to meditate in bed before the kids wake up, or just NOT wearing yoga pants can qualify as self care when you’re a mom of two under two.

Whether you have twins or two littles months a year apart being a mom of two under is tricky.  I’m on the other side of two with Ben and Adam’s walking-now I’m onto two toddlers!  If you have any advice on handling two under two or two toddlers please share in the comments below!  I would love to hear from you!

Tips for the Mommy on the Go

mommy-on-the-goWhen I chose to stay home part of that was so I could create experiences and take classes with my kiddos.  I’m very used to running around with my toddler and baby, for a new mom or a mom just getting used to two the idea of getting out of the house can be daunting.  Trust me I’ve been there.

I remember the first time I went out with both boys on my own.  It was supposed for a doctor’s appointment. I packed the double stroller and the diaper bag and picked out the boys clothes the night before. I made sure my toddler had plenty of snacks and I had my nursing poncho with me. We got up early in the morning and draft the doctors office only to find out that they had a second location and I was supposed to be there. I was crushed!

1. Have a really organized diaper bag.  I use gallon sized Ziploc bags for this.  They’re inexpensive and clear.  I use one for diapers, one for extra clothes, one for snacks, and one for additional items like wipes or Tylenol.

2. Pack your car and diaper bag the night before so you’re ready in the morning.  Put the stroller, baby carrier, a book or toy to occupy the kiddos, etc.

3. Keep an extra stash in your car.  I keep a grocery bag with extra diapers, clothes, wipes, and diaper cream in the backseat under my seat.

4. Buy a lightweight stroller.  I’ve had heavy, clunky strollers and truthfully my single umbrella stroller from Chico and my double City Mini GT are my go twos.  Seriously, I sold 3 strollers this past fall and kept just these strollers because they take up the least amount room in my car and they are so light and easy.  The Chico even has a strap to carry it over my shoulder!

5.  Pick a diaper bag that has stroller hooks.  A backpack style is great for the mom on the go!

6. Pack a snack and drink for yourself.  Especially if you’re nursing you need the hydration and nutrition.

7. Be home for nap time. There’s nothing worse than coming home in the car and seeing my toddler falling asleep in the back. I know that when we get home getting him out of the car will wake him up and that nap that he would’ve had is gone. So I try to schedule any classes or errands in the morning and be home before noon so he can get a good nap.

These are my tips for getting out and about with littles.  I’ll be sharing the contents of my diaper bag and how I pack it in a future post, also on Instagram. Be sure to follow me on Instagram. I look forward to reading in the comments any ideas you guys have for making going out easier with littles.

Hump-Day Hype!

How I Hike with Two Littles

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How I Hike with Two LittlesEnter a caption

Upon my quitting my job as a full time as a full time art educator and staying home I searched for local Facebook mommy groups that had similar interests to me.  I stumbled upon a baby wearing hiking group and joined.  I was concerned that I couldn’t hike with both my boys-Ben had just turned 2 and Adam 6 months, but I have hiked a lot with them and here are my tips for success.

 

1. Either get a durable baby carrier or take paved/packed gravel trails. You do not want to take a wrap carrier on a hike!  I have an Ergo 360 which works great and a Beco Butterfly I use on my back when Ben needs a boost (I tandem carry if need be).  A lot of moms in the group have a Tula-and Tula makes a great toddler carrier!

2.  Take water for everyone.  I am nursing so water isn’t super necessary for Adam-but I still bring an extra water bottle for him. Camelback does make a toddler water bottle pack and if you’re hiking with a baby in front, you could have your Camelback on your back and be hands free!

3. If you’re taking a little who you expect to walk do a hike with little to no incline and consider the safety of the area.  You want to be careful about run ins with wildlife, falling on branches that can poke a little guy, and weather can play a role in safety too.  Out here we have to wear and take sunscreen, hats, glasses, and tons of water with the dry desert heat.  Wind, humidity, rain, and snow are all tough for a little on a long walk.  Also, keep in mind your little walker may get tired so bring a carrier in case.  Ben is two and a half and can do about a mile before getting tired.

4.  Do not go hiking with a little in an area that is s remote you won’t see other hikers, stay on well known trails that are also well maintained.

5.  Second hour of a long stroller ride and your kiddo is getting bored?  Snacks, water, and songs will help a lot.

6.  Take a small first aid kit with you.  Ben fell once on a trail and I was able to treat the cut and finish the hike with no worries.

7.  Hike with a friend or two who can help with your littles if you have multiples.  I’ve had friends carry Ben down Mt. Charleston when he got tired and I really appreciated it.

8.  Be sure to talk with your kids about the natural elements they are witnessing such as big mountains, blue sky, green grass, etc.  Use the hike as a chance to build vocabulary by describing the scenery.

9.  Take photos.  I love the photos of my boys exploring and being free in the wilderness.  These are some of my favorite memories of my time as a stay at home mom.

10.  Snacks that travel well: crackers, sandwiches, granola bars that don’t have chocolate, fruit, nuts, and dried fruit.  Bring a lot of snacks.  The kids will want them and it’s important if you’re nursing to stay hydrated and nourished too!

Have fun, be safe, and create great family memories!

Art Teacher Tips for When the Kiln is a Disaster!

kiln

What do you do so when you open the kiln it doesn’t look like a grenade went off and destroyed all of your projects?

1. Do not hollow a closed ceramic object, that’s just asking for it.

2. If something is very thick create a hollow area that comes through one end of the clay object.

3. Let your green ware dry at least five, if not a week before firing.

4. Teach your students how to properly wedge, that means not pounding it into oblivion!

5. Set the first firing for one-two hours so to let the moisture out, the second for an hour, then let it run for the final firing.

 

What if you do have an explosion?

1. Get all the large pieces of pottery shards out with your hands and throw them out.

2. Have a custodian come in and vacuum out the remaining small pieces and dust. The dust is highly toxic.

Adam’s DIY New Year’s Day First Birthday Party

Having lived in Las Vegas for over a decade now, I’ve had some pretty memorable New Year’s Eves.  Last year took the cake, though.  I went into labor on 12/31/15 at 1:40AM which continued for another 28 hours.  Adam was born on New Year’s Day and while last year’s celebration took the cake, I literally made cake this year while watching the ball drop.

I have a philosophy: anything I didn’t do with Ben, I’ll do with Adam.  For example: I didn’t do those monthly pictures Ben’s first year with the sticker that goes on the onesie.  So I did that this year for Adam, or tried to-  often forgetting and posting on Facebook the second or third day of the month, so goes the life of a mom with little multiples. For Ben’s first birthday I was in the middle of my first trimester of pregnancy with Adam so I purchased everything: cake, decorations, etc.  The party went fine, but I thought it was missing that personal touch.

This year I decided to do everything myself.  I started looking on Pinterest three months ago and decided on a theme: black, white, chalkboard, and gold.  I would mix the birthday with New Year’s and have it on New Year’s Day as no one with littles goes out anyways.  I found a lot of chalkboard printables on Pinterest to use for the party.

 

Free printable chalkboard style thank you gift tags which you can personalise and give to guests when they leave the wedding, saves having to send out thank you cards.:


I taped these thank you tags to my party favors which were simply velvet coloring posters that came with markers.  I got them for $1 at Party City.  These tags can be customized to have your name or your family’s name and the date of the party printed on them.  Thy’re free, so are all the printables I used.

These free printable chalkboard banner letters, A-Z, are super versatile. Perfect for parties, seasonal and regular decor, classrooms, and so much more.:


This chalkboard banner was used for the bunting that hung from Adam’s highchair.  I spelled out ONE with it and threaded it through with twine.  On another piece of twine I knotted black, white, and gold ribbons and tulle.  I also made a simple Happy Birthday Adam banner that hung over my fireplace.

084bb308a2a76842d285b286506c6fb2.jpg (564×1600):

I used this chalkboard bunting to spell out ADAM over his birthday cake. I attached it with kitchen twine and bamboo skewers.  It really added a lot to my homemade cake.

I am not a baker.  I would like to be.  I strive for perfection.  So nothing could be worse than a burnt cake at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve!  I still had to clean and decorate the next day!  I used my cake leveller to trim off the burnt bottom and iced my layers.  Once the cake was layered I cut around the rest of the burnt edges.  Then I iced.  Crumbs from the chocolate cake were getting mixed into my bourbon vanilla buttercream frosting!  Ugh.  Thankfully I bought a crazy amount of gold and white sprinkles and viewed a lot of tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest on simple sprinkle decorating.  I managed to make the cake look decent and cover the ugly mixed up buttercream completely.  The cake turned out to be delicious.  Everyone was in shock that it was my first time baking a big cake.  The smash cake and cupcakes went much more smoothly.  I used Dollar Tree champagne glasses to house the cupcakes with black and white M &M’s.  Below is a picture of the pin I used with a link attached.

cupcakes in dollar store champagne flutes:

I had another disaster that night as well.  The Oreo sprinkle pops.  The idea seemed simple enough.  Push a lollipop stick into the cream center of the oreo and dip in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle and cool on wax paper.  The oreos fell apart every time!  I gave up on it and focused on cake instead.
Quick and easy sprinkle Oreo pops DIY, perfect for party favors, a dessert table, or Valentine's Day treats! See more party ideas and party crafts at CatchMyParty.com.:

The next day we decorated and cleaned.  I was so relieved to have my parents to help.  My husband hung all the balloons and I organized the hot cocoa station.  The photos are below.  Everyone had a great time and the party went off without a hitch!  I set up a crafting station for the kids, the toddlers that attended enjoyed the cupcake craft and decorating party hats.  My family wore New Year’s party hats I picked up at Party City in gold and white.  Adam smashed away at his cake and celebrated turning 1 on 1/1.

The Best DIY Teacher Gifts On Pinterest (Approved By A Teacher!)

 

As an art teacher and art club organizer for 17 years I didn’t receive a lot of holiday gifts over the years, nor did I expect it.  Who has money to spend on all of their kids teachers?  When I did get presents it really meant a lot to me and I treasured every DIY gift I got because I truly believe it came from the heart.  I have enjoyed researching DIY teacher gifts on Pinterest so much this weekend and I thought I would share my  5 favorites with you.  You can click the images to be linked directly to the pin.

 

  1. I found this on Craft with Angel and thought it really elevated the crayon wreath idea.  I would hang this in my classroom all year long!

teacher wreath.. bought the stuff to make this with Landon for Mrs Nicholson! hopefully we'll get it done this week!:

2.What teacher doesn’t want cute supplies? From Scraps of Shirlee.

Scraps of Shirlee: school supply cake teacher appreciation gift:

 

3. I’m dying to make this when I go back to teaching as my daily tote! From G is For Gift.

Teacher Appreciation Gift:  Decorate a canvas tote bag - the link is broken but the photos look pretty self explanatory. (I wouldn't just limit it to a tote either...this would make a great bandana or scarf print etc etc):

 

4. Such a nice gift to remember that amazing class! From So Festive.

Apple Themed Teacher Gifts   Free Printables:

 

5. I love the chalkboard pots idea and think of all the gifts you could put inside!  From Snowman Crafts. Co.

Thanks for helping me Grow | 20 + DIY Christmas Gifts for Teachers From Kids:

I hope these give you a little inspiration and imagination to go out and make something special for the grown ups who make your kids’ day special.

Tips for Painting with a Toddler

img_3744Over the years I have been told repeatedly by classroom teachers how brave I am.  Not because I’m a ninja, but because I can organize groups of fifty elementary school aged children while creating messy masterpieces.  Painting with a 1 year old or 2 year old is very different and presents far more challenges than with a group 20 five year olds-seriously.

1. Cover the chair they’re sitting in with a garbage bag, even if it’s a highchair.  The dyes in the paint could leave a permanent stain on the fabric or plastic.

2. Tiny paintbrushes or Q-tips.  Tiny amounts of paint being splattered and dropped is everywhere is a lot easier to clean than large amounts of drippy paint.

3. Non-toxic only. If the paint is store bought there should be an AP label. I have had a few students taste the paint over the years and even though it’s non-toxic, I sent them to the nurse just to be safe.  She had them gargle with water and sent them back to class.  If you want to be extra safe try my homemade, food safe paint recipe.

4. Make a DIY garbage bag smock.  Turn the garbage  bag upside down, cut a hole at the top for the head and two at the sides for the arms.  It will cover them top to toe and it’s reusable.

5. I recommend putting some kraft paper on the floor for spills and on the table. Or wrap plastic wrap around the highchair table.

6. When they are finished, take away the supplies first and the smock last.

7.  Baby wipes work best for cleaning up the kiddos or a bath.

8.  Stain removers that have worked well for me are Oxyclean, Honest (got out Sharpie), and good old baking soda/vinegar.

9.  Little ones don’t know to cover the whole page, and maybe parts of the page are out of reach for them. Either point out where else on the paper they can paint or turn the painting for them.  You want to do this before they paint over and over in the same spot for so long they wear a hole through their painting.

10.  Turn their paintings into something special: a garland, cut out repetitive shapes and make a Warhol inspired work of art, scrapbook with it, the possibilities are endless!

 

Snowflake DIY 

I am a huge fan of What’s Up Mom’s. I love all of their videos and their really happy energy. They definitely influenced my decision to become a blogger. So here is one of their DIY projects from their YouTube channel that I tried out. You can see their tutorial here.

I tried having Ben paint the popsicle sticks first and he was not at all interested. So then it dawned on me to have him paint the finished product. I built the snowflake but every time I built it I noticed that one end was a little bit crooked or one of the sides was not parallel to another side. I was popping off popsicle sticks left and right and starting over. Even now as it’s finished I still see areas that could use a little tweaking.

 I would  recommend if you’re going to do this project to do it on some sort of a grid or on a table with straight edges that you can better plan out your snowflake and make sure that everything is straight and parallel. I also recommend using wood glue, it dried faster than Elmer’s glue all.

If a child is helping you paint the snowflake-turn areas that could use paint towards them so they can reach new areas easily.

Overall I think our snowflake came out really nicely.  It’s definitely a craft for home or small groups with large work areas.  A classroom desk would not be enough space for the finished snowflake.

What blogs or vlogs influence you?Please share your answers,