Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Show Must Go On...

Well as promised, I am sharing how Chickpea's 2nd Birthday Bash went. Overall things went great. The only thing I would do different was wish that I was not dealing with a raging sinus infection. In fact all I wanted to do all weekend long was stay in my pj's, in bed and under the covers. To say I felt and looked like death warmed over would be a compliment. But as all of us mothers know the show must go on, especially when a birthday party is at stake. So I guess it is fair to say that us mom's are much like letter carriers(if that is even a correct term these days) we go to work and do our thing regardless of even the most extenuating of circumstances.

So after much thinking, we decided to host Chickpea's 2nd birthday at the Orlando Science Center. I have to say it was a great choice for many reasons. First, they are extremely easy to work with, and are very organized leaving little to no stress on the day of your party. Second, you can't beat the value that they offer with their parties (invitations, party supplies, activities, 2 party coordinators, price of admission and parking, as well as tickets to the IMAX show for that day are all included). Third, this being the most important (at least to me), when the party is over they take care of all clean up and you are not left cleaning up a mess or worse having lingering party guests camping out in your home.

Chickpea had an animal themed party that ROCKED. Her guests where all greeted by two party hosts, and once all of our guests arrived the coordinators kicked things off by doing a cool show and tell all about the different animals the kids where going to look for during the upcoming scavenger hunt in the animal sanctuary. This was then followed by an art project where everyone was given a round ball of "plaster" that was made of salt, flour, ground coffee beans and water (totally safe in case anyone wanted to give it a taste test). The coordinators then instructed everyone to roll their plaster into a ball, and then began talking about all the different types of animal tracks we saw in the sanctuary. The party guests where all then able to create their own animal foot imprint that they later took home after the party.

After all the fun activities we sat down to enjoy pizza, cake and ice cream. Then just when we thought things were beginning to wind down, we where surprised by one final guest. A baby alligator that all of our party guests were able to get up close and personal with (touch that is). Everyone loved the opportunity with one exception, my sister. The true irony is this is a person who owns multiple exotic animal skin shoes, and handbags. I guess I will chalk up her reluctance to good old fashion guilt.

With everything all said and done, Chickpea's 2nd birthday bash was a big hit. I even took some of my own advice and visited the local dollar store to create a great goodie bag to send home with all our guests. I guess at the end of the day, our children especially at this age have will have little recollection of these parties. So why do we go through all this trouble? I'll tell you, for the memories of friends and family getting together to celebrate your child.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wow How the Time Flew, Chickpea is Turning Two

I can't believe it has been two years since Chickpea was born. Just when I thought I was never going to make it through the sleepless nights, the 2am feedings, bouts of colic, etc., my baby girl is turning two. So now with all the sentiments behind me, it's time to get down to business and start planning a party.

Understand who you are planning a party for: At this stage, your child will probably be clingy and dependent one minute but mobile and freedom-seeking the next. While she will happily play alongside other children, your two year old won't be truly social. This is mainly because she can't put herself in another child's shoes yet, so she may hit, bite, snatch toys and make other children cry without realizing why. Although embarrassing and upsetting, this is normal two-year-old behavior. The key to keeping the peace at her party is to have good adult supervision and not too many guests.

Who to invite: This will depend on a few things, the extent of your social circle, how well your child handles having a group of people focusing on her, and how much work you ultimately want to create for yourself. Now, parents keep in mind you are planning a party for a two year old, and there is no need to have a guest list that rivals an Oscar after party. With all this said, 6-10 kids is ample be sure to include their parents to handle any meltdowns that may occur.

Timing is everything: This is especially true when planning your toddler's party. Some children of this age still take afternoon naps, so take this into account. Mornings or after 2 o'clock are great times to host your party, especially if your toddler’s birthday falls on the weekend. Keep the party short and sweet, I would not recommend anything beyond two hours.

Picking the right spot: Some people feel home is still the best place to host you little one's party, but is seems that there are countless options on where to host a party for your child these days. So whether you choose to host your child's party at a local park, indoor play gym, or a pizza parlor, it is important to check it out and be familiar with any policies they may have before making any final plans.

Choosing a theme: This will depend on your child's likes or dislikes. A jungle/ animal theme is always a winner at this age whether you are planning for a boy or girl. Be sure to incorporate animal musical rhymes, animal-shaped foods and animal masks/costumes to keep things fun and entertaining for your child and their guests. You may find that party supply companies have helpful suggestions for themed party packs, decorations and more.

Putting together a "goody bag": This is a traditional way to say thank you to your guests for coming and celebrating your child's birthday. Now, the key is not to go overboard and break the bank putting your goody bags together. Be sure to visit your local dollar store to stock up on age appropriate items to give away to your guests. Some ideas include: non-toxic bubbles, crayons, activity/ coloring books, animal crackers, gold-fish, etc. . Don't spend a fortune, but beware of too many cheap sweets which are usually high in colorings and may contain gelatin that is not suitable for vegetarians. Just be sure to use your imagination, and creativity and you will be just fine.

So now that I have completed this week's blog, I have some planning to do on Chickpea's party. Be sure to check-in next week to see how things turned out. And yes, I promise to share video and pictures. TO BE CONTINUED.....

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Summer Vacations...It's That Time of the Year Again

With May almost behind us and June quickly approaching it is quickly coming to be that time of the year, when school lets out and summer vacations begin. Last year we decided to do a summer getaway in beautiful Amelia Island. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island, and it was fabulous. While our stay at the Ritz Carlton was wonderful, I missed the flexibility and some of the comforts of home that come in handy when vacationing with a young child. That is why this year we decided to rent an amazing vacation home with our closest friends, and their children in Hilton Head.

Now, in a perfect world I could just blink my eyes and I would have the perfect summer rental (that's child proof) in the perfect location to meet everyone's needs. Well as we all know the world is not perfect, but I was able to find a great resource with This is a great site that allows you to research and locate amazing vacation homes at various price points. I highly recommend this site whether you are vacationing in the states, or some far off exotic location.

So now that we have a great summer rental secured, it is time to start planning all the other important details to ensure a great summer vacation.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you start to plan your fun filled summer holiday.

1. Be Flexible: Traveling with children can be a wonderful experience (with a lot of alcohol, just kidding) if you go with the flow. Your toddler might get bored having to sit still or sightsee for long periods of time instead of being able to run around and explore at her own energetic pace, so keep your itinerary simple. Limit it to one activity a day and you'll find it much easier to make last-minute adjustments if your child gets tired or just wants to spend time splashing in pool or playing in sand on the beach.

2. Pick a Family Friendly Destination: Choose a relaxing destination that's used to young visitors, so you don't have to sweat the details. Some ideas include a lazy beach retreat, family camps, nature resorts, or similar kid-friendly places. Skip the crowded, over-stimulating tourist destinations, places without shade (sorry Mickey and Minney), and other spots that will pose an added challenge when you have a young one in tow. You can also keep your summer vacation on budget, by looking for family-friendly hotels and resorts that let kids stay for free in their parents' rooms and provide free meals to children or buffet-style breakfasts included in the price.

3. Don't Forget to Pack Snacks and Drinks:
Make sure to tote along plenty to drink and a bag of snacks on any trip. Children can get dehydrated during a flight, and toddlers can't always wait for food service (or they refuse the airline meal when it arrives). You might be able to pre-order a children's meal — check with your airline to find out. Whether you're in the air or on the road, best bets for toddlers include easy-to-pack snacks like baggies of whole grain cereal, precut fruits and vegetables, small cartons of fruit juice, animal crackers, and other age-appropriate nibblers. Dispensing snacks at pre-announced intervals will give your toddler something to look forward to. Consider bringing along moist towelettes and sanitizer for easy cleanup. Lastly, don't forget your On the Fly Bottle Warmer.

4. Plan Frequent Stops: If you are driving break up your trip so your toddler can stretch her limbs and move around to blow off some pent-up energy. Pack a rubber or foam ball for rolling or kicking around and some simple board books for quiet time. Pick out parks and picnic areas on your route by using an online mapping service such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, or MapQuest, or city guides like GoCityKids or CitySearch. End your driving day early so all of you have time to unwind after a long day on the road.

5. Think Safety First: When you pack for your toddler, be sure to include a basic childproofing kit to use at your destination. If you're taking a road trip, make sure your child's car seat is properly secured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 85 percent of car seats aren't installed correctly. Use removable window shades to keep the sun off your child. You may want to dress your toddler in a brightly colored outfit so she's easy to spot in a crowd, and put a small card with identification information on it in one of her pockets in case you get separated.

6. Pack a Goody Bag: A good way to keep kids content on a trip is to take along a goody bag filled with more toys and doodads than you think you'll need. Your toddler might like an array of puzzles, dolls, action figures, puppets, brightly colored paper, nontoxic crayons, books, and favorite toys. Wrap some of them before you leave and present your child with a surprise every once in a while. Start building your toy cache a few weeks before the trip.

7. Take Some Proactive Trips: To get a feel for what works and what doesn't when you're on the road and away from home, you might try leading up to a big trip with some short day trips or weekend getaways. The trial runs could provide key insights — about things like what supplies you should pack, how long your child can last in a car seat, and which toys keep your toddler happy (or drive you nuts).

With these tips, hopefully your summer vacation with be fun and full of great memories. Remember, traveling with small children like life is full of great unknowns, preparing ahead will allow you to make the most of your vacation and time with your family.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Moms Really Want for Mother's Day

With Mother's Day just a few days away it got me thinking of my first Mother's day with my husband. It was May 2008, and I was due to give birth to our daughter at any moment. I remember that my husband had a tee time planned with an old friend, I guess you can say I felt a little guilty knowing that once our daughter was born he was not going to see the sights of a golf course for a long while.

So once my husband left, I assumed my position on the sofa with all the pillows strategically placed, and just when I was getting good and comfortable.... I had to pee. After returning from "the loo", I started to head back to my thrown (aka the sofa), when the doorbell rang.

When I finally got to the front door, I opened it only to have a nice woman holding a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Once I signed for the flowers, I went back inside to read what the card said. "Dear mommy thank you for taking such good care of me these past 8 1/2 months, I can't wait to meet you Happy Mother's Day" read the card.

I immediately called my husband to thank him for my flowers, and my sweet note. Little did I realize that when my husband saw the house number on his caller id, he would go into full panic mode thinking I was about to give birth to our daughter on our living room floor. After convincing him I was fine, and not in labor I thanked him for the beautiful flowers and thoughtful card. It was a great Mother's Day for us both, my husband got to finish his round of golf that day, and a week and half later we welcomed our lovely little girl into the world.

Not to brag, but I have a pretty amazing husband. Thoughtful gestures like what he did for my first Mother's Day are his way of making me feel appreciated and loved.

Now with Mother's Day just days away, I am sure there are husbands and kids struggling on what to do for mom come this Sunday. The reality is that most moms don't need a big elaborate production in order to celebrate Mother's Day.

Here are some ideas on what we moms really would like on Mother's Day.

1. Time. Time alone. Time to shop. Time to watch shows that we have recorded, but never get the time to watch out of reality of being interrupted. Time to take a bath. Time to get dressed peacefully, rather than at a frantic pace. We just want time.

2. To be appreciated. To be appreciated for the countless things we do on a day to day basis. Appreciated for always being there to make sure things get done, and go off without a hitch. Appreciated for the butts we clean, the tears we wipe, the homes we keep clean, and the meals we make. Most of all for the mother's and women we are.

3. A kind word. This may come in many forms: a card, a poem, a hand written note, a hand crafted piece of art from your child.

4. To be pampered. This does not mean yo have to send us to the Ritz Carlton Spa (although, I can't imagine most moms would object). While mani/Pedi's, facials and massages are always great and much needed, we moms love the simple gesture of having a bubble bath drawn for us (hint, hint).

5. Yummys for our tummy's. Interpret this how you will. Breakfast in bed, brunch, lunch or dinner, it all works for me, but my favorite is when Chickpea and Malcolm make me a Mommy Mimosa. Yum.

With all this said, don't get me wrong we moms love jewelry, and fancy things. I am just trying to convey that fancy things are not required in order to make Mother's Day specail. Just remember to share with the mom's in your life how much you love and appreciate them for all they do.

In honor of Mother's Day, On the Fly Bottle is running the follow promotion. One free On the Fly small starter kit - Value ($18.99) or One Large Starter Kit for only $1.00 (Value $19.99) (each contains one On the Fly BottleSOC and 2 warmers) Recipients are responsible for shipping and handling of $6.00. Participants must follow On the Fly on BlogSpot, Face book and Twitter to be eligible. Followers will be notified of a code that will be required for this offer. Please note this offer is only valid with purchases made through Happy Mother's Day.

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