Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks Hilton Head... See You Next Summer

I have to say it is nice to be back after taking a much needed vacation with my family. Now, you are probably sitting there thinking how could I be looking forward to a so called "vacation" that involved a six hour car ride, a 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and a 7 month old and sharing a summer rental with another family. But even with all these crazy facts we all had an amazing time. Don’t' get me wrong we had our share of tantrums, and potty training mishaps, but this was one of those vacations that we will look back on and have great memories to relish for a lifetime.

We chose Hilton Head Island in South Carolina as our vacation destination, and rented a home on Sea Pines Plantation. I will admit that getting onto the island can be a bit taxing due to heavy traffic, but once you arrive you can kick back and begin to relax. Sea Pines Plantation is one of the more well known plantations on Hilton Head, but once you pass thru the main gates you are surrounded by never ending tree canopies, and all the beauty that the costal Carolina's have to offer. And the best part is, you never have to leave the plantation once you arrive.

Sea Pines Plantation is unique for so many reasons, but the main thing that made this location attractive as a vacation spot is its reputation for being extremely family friendly. Now, don't get the wrong idea, just because I said it is family friendly, does not mean the kids run the joint and there is little for adults to indulge in. In fact it is quite the contrary with beautiful beaches, world class golf/ tennis, spas, shopping, biking, and restaurants this is hardly a mouse like attraction. The following are just some of our personal favorites of what Hilton Head had to offer.

Gregg Russell:
Every night at 8pm with the exception of Saturday it is a Hilton Head tradition for families to meet under the old liberty oak tree in Harbour Town. It's under this old oak tree you'll be entertained with Gregg's summer concerts. His performances are reminiscent of the children's TV show "Kids Say the Darndest Things" with games, interviews, sing-a-longs and a quick wit that makes for great entertainment for the whole family. There is a reason that generations for over 30 years return each summer with their families night after night to see Gregg play under the old oak tree in Harbour Town. Gregg Russell is an absolute must when visiting Hilton Head, and don't be surprised if it becomes a new tradition with your family.

The Salty Dog Cafe:
In a fishing village at South Beach lived John Braddocks and his dog Jake. John earned his living as a fisherman. Jake shared his love of the sea. Early one Friday morning, John powered up their 36 foot fishing vessel and headed for the deep blue sea. After being tossed out of their boat the Salty Dog, so the story goes that Jake headed west and swam for 3 days and 3 nights with John holding onto his collar. No one knows how Jake could have known the way back to his home port. The townspeople built a gathering place in the village and named it The Salty Dog Cafe - in honor of Jake's heroic feat. Portraits of Jake wearing his yellow sou'wester hat adorn the walls. His place in nautical history is assured.

The Salty Dog Cafe, sits in the South Beach Marina on Hilton Head, and offers great casual food with great indoor/outdoor dining options (and they make a great vodka tonic). Along with the great food there is live music, and plenty of sites to keep your little ones entertained. Don't forget to visit the Salty Dog Cafe Shop to pick up a t-shirt, hat, and a printed handkerchief for your favorite four legged family member.

The Sand Box:
What to do with the kids when your husband and his friend leave to play golf? You take them to the Sandbox, and I don't mean the one that your child is most likely to get a nasty case of ring-worm from. The Sandbox is an interactive children's museum that is dedicated to the positive development of young children through play. This unique non-for profit museum offers quality educational and family-oriented exhibits and programs. Children can let their imaginations run wild as they shop, buy, and prepare exotic meals in the International Bazaar or play with the magic sand in the Loggerhead Sandcastle. Whether taking a trek across the rock challenge course to track the T-Rex or painting a picture and playing an instrument in the Rhythm and Hues room, The Sandbox offers endless possibilities for fun!

Lawton Stables:
Be sure to bring your family to visit the small animal farm which is free to all visitors. They have a petting farm of small animals, including goats, sheep, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, llama, miniature pony, chickens and rabbits. Be sure to stop by to meet, feed, and pet these adorable animals yourselves, and for the more adventurous members of the family there are horse and pony rides.

Harbour Town:
This is definately the heart of Sea Pines Plantation. Harbour Town offers shopping, casual eateries, entertainment for the entire family, a beautiful marina and the historic lighthouse. Harbour Town is the place where families meet at the end of there beach filled days to enjoy live music, and some of the most delicious icecream you will ever eat.

So if you are still on the fence on where to spend summer vacation with your family, I would strongly consider Hilton Head. We had an amazing time and look forward to going back next year.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Unofficial Initiation into Motherhood... The Adventures of Pooh-Casso

As all of you who follow my blog know I am a mom to an adorable toddler who we have nicknamed, Chickpea. Well that nickname has now changed until further notice to Pooh-Casso. No, I did not say Picasso, the famous Spanish artist from Madrid that introduced the world to "cubism", I said Pooh-Casso (emphasizing the Pooh). So you may be wondering, "Why the name change"? I’ll tell you, but before I do, I must warn you this story is not for the faint hearted.

So it was last Wednesday, a typical afternoon in our home. I had put Chickpea (aka Pooh-Casso) down for her afternoon nap. I assumed my normal routine while she slept. I would say it was about two hours later, when I heard Chickpea over the monitor. I started my trek up the stairs to her room not thinking anything was out of the ordinary. I could not have been more wrong!

As I grabbed the doorknob to open the door to Chickpea's room, it did not take long to figure out I was in for one of the more shocking experiences I have had to date. There she was in all her fecal glory. Yes, my sweet, innocent, little girl was covered in poop and loving every minute of it. Not only was she covered in poop it seemed like everything within a 10 foot radius was covered in poop. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was like wall to wall shit. So as my sweet little girl reached up her hands for me to pick her up out of the crib I had to go into full on HASMAT mode. I thought to myself, "Where do I start?”

As I slowly began to triage this crappy disaster, I remember telling myself "Don't make a big deal out of this, all kids do this." I could not believe how much pooh I was dealing with. Pooh all over the kid, pooh all over the crib, pooh on the floor I am surprised there was not pooh on the ceiling (although I think she tried). It looked as if Chickpea got into a full on wrestling match with a chocolate cake (that will cure those chocolate cravings for sure) All I can say is thank God the dog was not home that day, he would have thought it was an all you can eat hot food bar for Labrador Retrievers.

So after spending close to two hours cleaning, disinfecting, washing laundry, and making up her crib I call my sister for some advice on this situation. See my niece Margaux pulled the same stunt on my sister about a year ago. When my sister heard what Chickpea had done she started laughing hysterically, then in her twisted way she asked if I took any pictures and commented this would be great for the blog. Don't worry, taking photos of this disaster was the furthers thing from my mind. After she got through her laughter, she congratulated me on my official initiation into motherhood. I then asked what I could do to prevent this from happening again. Like a great sister, she gave me some great practical advice. She told me that this is a thing that most kids her age do, and that it is part of the whole exploration experience, and not to make a big deal out of it. My sister also advised that I would need to prevent her from getting to her diaper, and to put her in a onsie or place diaper cover over her pamper.

Well I am happy to report that her advice worked and we have been pooh free since. After looking back on what happened last week, it made me realize a few things:

1. You have to exercise a vast amount of patients with your children

2. You cannot have a week stomach

3. You must resist the urge to over react to situations

4. You must be able to find the humor in even the darkest of situations

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What to do When Your Toddler Hates to Shop....

Shopping has always been a great past time for me. There was nothing that a little retail therapy could not fix or make better.....that is until I became the mother of a toddler. Oh do I find myself longing for the early days when Chickpea was an infant, and I could get out of the house a go to my favorite shopping places and spend an afternoon. Long gone are those days. Now it seems the second I step foot into any retail establishment, Chickpea mutates into a cranky, screaming, destructive alter ego. Needless to say, it took me a couple times of experiencing the alter ego to realize my girl does not like to shop. At this point I am thoroughly convinced my husband has conditioned her to go off anytime mommy attempts to take her shopping.

So what is a mom to do when she needs some retail therapy or if she needs to buy birthday gifts for the endless amounts of birthday parties we seem to be attending these days? I'll tell you. Just when you think you've been defeated, turn to your trusty computer and fire up that internet, and soon you will find infinite shopping opportunities.

Now don't get me wrong, while there seems like endless shopping opportunities on the internet, there are still those great websites that never let you down when deliver the goods. The following are two of my some of my favorite shopping websites for kids, and what makes them so unique and great.
This is the ultimate site for hip, stylish, and functional baby/kid gear. Genius Jones is just that, Genius. This website along with 3 store locations in South Florida offers everything from apparel to home decor. Founders, Daniel Kron and Geane Brito subscribe to a great philosophy: Just because you're now a parent doesn't mean you should have to abandon your love of design.  The fact that Genius Jones looks for products made by companies that truly care about children that use non-toxic and sustainable materials, and take steps to ensure that their manufacturing process does not cause harm to the environment are some of the things that makes Genius Jones a cool pace to shop.  In addition the folks a Genius Jones  feel that parents don't have to surrender to the whims of the mass market. It is possible to find functional children's products that are well designed (no more hiding the hideous baby gear when company comes over). So the next time you are looking for that ultra cool, unique and functional gift that has not been seen ten time over at your local Babies R Us, checkout Genius Jones, and become the coolest gift giver among your friends. :
This site is brilliant for so many reasons, especially if you are becoming a parent for the first time, this site is a must. Founder and CEO, Ali Wing, wanted to develop a unique baby store.  When getting ready for a new baby, there is a lot to take into account, choices can be overwhelming and stressful (and your baby hasn't even arrived yet). Giggles helps to make new parents and soon to be parents jobs a lot easier. How does Giggle do this you ask?  Giggle has done the homework for you, by including the must have baby items, that have been pre-sorted to include the most stylish, healthy, and innovative products, and if they didn't make our lives easy enough, offers customers endless resources like: great gifting ideas for parents, babies, toddlers, baby showers, grandparents, and even first birthdays, or shopping by stage to ensure the right tools for each milestone, and various buying guides for how to stock your nursery to feeding on the go.  My favorite of all the resources are the 6 different blogs that are written by local experts with topics ranging from child development to nursery design. If you happen to be fortunate enough to live near one of the 11 store locations located in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and New York check out the site for upcoming events ranging from mom/baby yoga, cooking and music classes. Giggle is for sure a one stop shop  for new parents and parents to be.

So the next time your little one bucks at the idea of going on a shopping trip. Just remember that great retail therapy is just a click away. Happy shopping.

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