8 TIPS FOR PICKY EATERS

One of the most frustrating things for a parent to deal with is supper time with their kids. The curse of the picky eater. It’s easy to get fed up with, well, getting your kids fed up. Along the way it becomes easier to give in to their dinner demands by becoming a short order cook. Here are some tips and tricks I use to helping curb my picky eater’s food aversions and how I get my toddler excited about trying new things.

1- The language we use : We all do it. When your toddler reaches for the thing you are eating that may be a little too spicy or a little too pungent the sentence “I don’t think you’re going to like this” escapes your lips making their mind up for them. Instead of encouraging the trial and perhaps error of trying that stinky blue cheese or overly sirachaed chicken wing, their curiosity is stopped by the dismissive phrase. This is something I have caught myself doing on numerous occasions, and something I’ve had to curb others from saying to my kid as well. I’ve found that embracing her interest and curiosity by eagerly allowing her to take a bite of my food has had a positive result on her willingness to try new things. When out at a restaurant, my husband and I try to use positive language about what the other orders. We will say “that looks good” when the food arrives and ask “may I try a bite” to demonstrate that willingness to try new things. In the end, kids are always watching and listening to their parents. When we speak, it’s important to use that positive language so that they feel comfortable enough to try new things.

 

2- Listen to your kid : Kids like what they like. They make up their minds and stubbornly stick to their opinions no matter how irrational, so I’ve found ways to wield that stubbornness in my favor. Using flavors or foods that have already been established as tasty, I’ve been able to get my daughter to try a wider variety of foods. I have a basic list of staple items : cheese, ground meat, taco seasoning, guacamole (not avocado), salsa, sausages, eggs, breads. For the most part, if it appears in a taco it is a safe assumption that it will be well received. Now that I have these base items and flavors, I have been able to coax her into trying new things. The other day I was even able to get her to try jackfruit! I’ve also found that if I’m willing to listen when my daughter says she doesn’t like something, she is more willing to at least try it. Of course we have a small chat about what she doesn’t like about it (sometimes she can tell me, sometimes I get no more than a “yucky”), but knowing that I won’t push her if she honestly doesn’t like something definitely helps increase her desire to try.

3- Get them involved : The best technique I have found to get my child to at least try a new food is to get her involved in making it : putting on her little apron, showing the steps, cutting the veggies, using the machines, stirring & mixing, watching it bake and finally getting able to taste it. Including my kiddo gets her excited about the food we are eating. It is not always a hit, but nurturing that curiosity and positive relationship with food is always the main goal. Going back to the language we use, one day I was making egg muffins and my daughter reached out to taste some of the raw onion we had just chopped together. She was so excited to try what we were making that she reached out that little hand, scooped up some onion and tried it. I fought the urge to discourage her as raw onion is so pungent, and I am glad I did because, to my surprise, she actually liked it and that small taste made her even more excited to taste the final product. Furthermore, presenting them with options and allowing them to choose things like breakfast and snacks makes them feel more in control and secure when it comes to their palate.

4- Variety, variety, variety : Kids get bored easily. Their likes and dislikes are constantly evolving. Some days my kid will sit down and be my bottomless pit, other days, she’s happier to just graze which is why I find a variety is key. In the morning, together we fill an ice cube tray with snack options. I found one with a lid at the Dollar Store which has been a great addition to getting my kiddo’s diet in check. I keep a variety of healthy snacks for her to choose from. We will fill the small compartments with fruits, veggies and grains and she will be able to nosh throughout the day. I have found that having her feel responsible or in control of her eating limits the amount of daily battles around food stubbornness. I also make sure to have a few options on her dinner plate–especially when I am trying to coax her in to trying something new. Different flavors and options always lead to more meal time successes in the ArEsse household!

5- Dip it : I firmly believe that dips are a parent’s greatest ally when it comes to the success of meal times. Condiments, humus and guacamole have all helped in getting my daughter to eat. Again, you are using tastes that have already been established as okay in your kiddo’s eyes, and you are wielding them in your favor. Now, I have started actually using the dips as a way to sneak in new flavors as well. The other day, I made a beet humus. Because of it’s similar consistency to a chic pea humus there was less hesitation to try it and the beautiful pink color didn’t hurt either!

       

6- Family meal time : Aside from it being a great habit to get into, and that it is quality time to sit and actually have a conversation in this increasingly busy world, parents are the best example when it comes to building a positive relationship with food. It also teaches good habits and table manners which will help on those nights when you get out to a restaurant. Another advantage of sitting at the table for meals helps limit distractions so your kiddo might actually eat their meal, and research has shown that it also decreases overeating.

7- Sweet Tooth : Let’s face it, as delicious as they are, sweets are called treats for a reason. It is hard though. I don’t want to create a situation with sweets that they are some forbidden fruit, so I find that having some form of dessert in the evenings does help with her over all relationship with sweets. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but overall we try to keep the sweets to be true treats; otherwise, these treats can become meal replacements and kids will be less likely to eat the more nutritious food available. Of course as a parent, sometimes sweets can be our life line to sanity, but I’ve found with my kid that a little creativity and being prepared with a healthy alternative can go a long way. Some of our favorites are : avocado pudding, fruit and yogurt dips, banana ice cream. I also find that substituting something tart will work too.

8- Make it fun : At the end of the day, if it’s not fun, your kiddo will be less likely to be excited about it. Cookie cutters are a great trick to getting my kid to try new things, colors and presentation all help when it comes to a meal time success. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way one of those amazing bento box moms, but if I am introducing a new fruit or taste, a cookie cutter can go a long way for my mental health! I also find with my kid that something as simple as picking out her own cutlery (we recently picked up some cool new airplane spoons) or her own plate have an effect on meals.

SMOGGY DAYS

Okay, we have been pretty lucky with the amount of outdoor play we have been having this summer; however, since the smog has rolled in from nearby forest fires and we have been placed on an air advisory notice, I am scrambling to find things to distract my toddler from the sand, toys and water fun we have been enjoying outside.

Here are a few ideas to fill a summer day inside when all you want to do is run and play in the gorgeous sunshine!

Get In the Kitchen

While turning on my oven is a big no no during the summer, my child loves to cook and bake. If you’re like me, your Pinterest account is home to several saved no bake recipes you have been waiting for the right moment to try. Well with my baking supplies dwindling over the past few months, I felt pretty limited in what I could create. Luckily I found an easy recipe I could make using what few ingredients I actually had left in my pantry which meant I did NOT have to venture into the smog to the store–yay!

Today we made puppy chow, and it was so, so fun! My kid loves to measure and mix things, so this was the perfect recipe with minimal clean up. As this is mostly made in a ziplock bag, my Little Love was more than excited to shake, shake, shake her way to a tasty treat! Afterwards, she enjoyed her snack (while pretending to be a puppy herself), and I was able to get the kitchen cleaned in less than 5 minutes!

 

Make a Fort

Reading is a big part of our day. We love books, and the best part of my day is going through the mountain of books my child pulls off her shelf each morning and afternoon as she waits for me to come grab her from her slumber.

Making a fort is just another way to nurture that love of reading. She thinks it’s so fun to pile our pillows, bring in our water and a snack, and just chill. Sometimes we read, sometimes we sing nursery rhymes, and sometimes we just lay on the pillows and laugh. In this household forts = WAY too much fun!

Get Creative

Crafts on a whim can be challenging, which is why I try to pick up kits and material for those “rainy days”. Of course, murphy’s law is that my kiddo didn’t want any of that today, so Momma needed to get a bit creative!

Being a blogger, I keep in touch with a lot of fellow moms for support, and yes even ideas. Just yesterday, I saw @raisingmyknight on Instagram had made a little Lightning McQueen with her son. My kiddo loves cars and painting, so we took a stab at hit. While it may not have turned out as cute for us, it was definitely a fun way to kill an hour!

Go on a Field Trip

While there are less drop in play gyms available over the summer, indoor playgrounds like Jungle Jacs, Crash Crawlies, or Kokos are always a fun way to fill an afternoon. Plus, it gets out some of that indoor energy before bedtime!

Tomorrow we are thinking of trying out Kidtropolis which we have heard is an awesome place to spend an indoor afternoon.

Swimming is also a fun way to spend an afternoon, and a sure fire way to tucker my kiddo out!

Picnic in Your Living Room

As a kid, my favourite memories were doing things that weren’t typically allowed. Well, eating in the living room is a definitely no no for my messy eater. That being said, picnic food and picnic rules are a little different. Together, we made our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we picked our favourite fruits. G was torn between bananas, blueberries and oranges, so we decided to have a bit of a fruit feast instead of choose! We mixed our drinks (pureed watermelon with perrier in a sippy cup) and we set our puppy chow in the fridge for later. It was such a fun way to lunch and will definitely be keeping this in my back pocket. 🙂

 

Let’s face it, inside days on a sunny day can be tough. Which is why this Mommy is choosing to end her day with a glass of wine! In the end, we all do what we have to do for the sake of our sanity. Hopefully one of these ideas will be helpful, and may the odds be forever in your favour!

CANVAS ART WITH A TODDLER

I know it is tough to know what interests a kid will carry with them through their adolescence and teen years, so for now I really try and nurture any and everything. It’s a lot sometimes, but I know it makes my kid happy so why not?

I have a little artist at home. We draw everywhere from the table, to the sidewalk, to the bathtub, and everywhere in between. She loves it, and I love seeing that joy of creativity. Something that I find difficult though is honouring that creative mind. My house has enough clutter going for it that I don’t want to add having half scribbled drawings on display. Seriously, her toys have overtaken my floor, she’s not getting ahold of my walls too! While I am not that mom who has the gorgeously tidy house all day every day, I do like knowing that when I need it, I can have an adult space.

So where’s the balance? For me it was finding a way to incorporate her art into my design. We spent an afternoon outside with a canvas and left over paint, and together we created a piece of art for our living room. Something she is proud to show off, something that values her talent, but also something that fits the space.

We started with a large blank canvas that I had found from a liquidation place. We took some left over spackle from our renovation and using a plastic putty knife from the Dollar Store, I had her smear it across the canvas to give it some texture. We had a yogurt pop and enjoyed the sunshine while we waited for this step to dry.

Next I poured some white paint into a painter’s tray and had her roll it over top the canvas. Slowly, I added a small amounts of grey to the mixture as she rolled to begin adding dimension.

We then switched from roller to a brush and I gave her a plate of different shades of grey. We also added a bit of the leftover navy paint we had to tie the colours together. I taught her a few techniques for brush strokes to get that abstract look I was hoping for.

Afterwards, we experimented with different materials to add a little more texture. She pulled the paint across the canvas with the putty knife, she used an old toothbrush-although this did not last long because this child is obsessed with brushing her teeth and we came a bit too close for comfort with having painted teeth. We used cardboard and tin foil, but my favourite item used to create texture was when she grabbed her shovel (she loves to garden) and started pulling it across the canvas.

 

With her advising me where to put it, I added the black because it’s a colour that can very quickly overpower a project.

Lastly, I painted a streak of glue over the dried paint and had my daughter add the sparkles.

While it may not be a project good enough for the Louvre, it’s the perfect addition to our living space. It’s a work of joy, and that joy radiates every time I look at it, and really, at the end of the day, isn’t art supposed to put a smile on your face?

PERFECT GIFTS FOR DAD THIS FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day is nearing. It’s a day we get to celebrate the awesome men in our children’s lives. It’s a day set aside to appreciate the amazing contributions they make, and most importantly, a day to be together as a family.

I love these types of holidays. I don’t know about you, but our every day life is hectic. It’s busy, and sometimes emotions are heightened. Things are taken for granted, and appreciation is not always conveyed. While obviously it is important to humble ourselves and spend days where we cherish and value each other more than once a year on a specific date, I will say, I love these types of days.

Trust me when I say I am aware of how lucky my child and I are to have such an amazing man in our lives. There are too many absent parents in this world, that having presence is by far the best present my husband, my daughter’s father, could give us.

So of course, I am going to celebrate him. The day is spent saying to hell with our everyday normal and simply enjoying each other’s company and making memories. It usually starts with a well deserved sleep in, a yummy breakfast, the day together (usually outside), and a relaxing evening after the babe goes down playing board games or snuggling to a movie he loves.

Father’s Day to me is not a day for fancy gifts. Birthdays, yes, but father’s day is definitely a time for a more sentimental approach to gift giving. To me, it’s an opportunity to mark the day, time and place much like a time capsule. Handprints, photos, things you love about dad are all ways to create a memory frozen in time.

If you’re looking for some last minute options, here are some of our past gifts for Dad.

1- DADDY picture frame

Looking for a last minute gift that is sure to hit your child’s father right in the feels? Using pictures to make a word or sentence will definitely tug at his strings. The great thing about this is that you probably have every picture you’ll need already on your phone to make this memory frame a reality.

At the time of my hubby’s first Father’s Day, our daughter was about 2 months old. Writing the word Daddy in photos was really neat because it was sort of a road map through our first weeks as a family of 3. He was over the moon and let me tell you, this proud papa could not wait to hang it up for all to see.

2- Make your own picture book

Sample title: I love my Daddy, Happy Father’s Day
Sample caption: My Daddy sure does work hard to provide for me and mom, and when he gets home he kisses me and sings his special Daddy song
Sample Caption: You’re the best Daddy it’s true, it’s true and I just love spending time with you! So today of all days I just wanted to say, how much I love you and happy Father’s Day!

To commemorate my husband’s first Father’s Day I did want to buy something special for him. I decided on a watch to mark the special occasion, but I wanted to make a reason for it to represent the day. In searching Pinterest, I found the phrase “I love spending time with you” and it clicked! I wrote a small poem of things our girl loves about her daddy and found correlating photos. I then assembled them into a cute picture book with the last page being a photo of her holding the watch with the caption I just love spending time with you. After reading it, he opened the watch and was too thrilled for words. Although he loves the watch and in his words “enjoys wearing her heart on his sleeve”, the individualized picture book was definitely the big hit of the day.

3- For the time crunched Momma

Last year’s Father’s Day was a little crazy for us. Being between homes after living separately for 2 ½ months due to a relocation, Father’s Day crept up far too quickly for this mom to get creatively crafty. Enter a store bought gift. As irritated as I am sometimes that my favorite bookstore now carries an abundance of children’s toys, particularly when I am there with my kiddo attempting to treat her to a new book, I’ll admit they are my go to location when it comes to a good last minute gift.

4- A sign he’ll LOVE!

Another time crunched creation. For this, I used an old piece of wood we had laying around from our renovation. I stained it using Minwax Jacobean stain that I had leftover from the renovation as well. This is a super simple addition to any décor, and will leave a smile on his face every time he sees it.

5- Personalized plates

I don’t know about the men in your life, but ours love to BBQ. This grilling plate is perfect for any man in your life. As a bonus, all the materials can be found at your local Dollar Store.

To make, dilute some yellow, orange and red acrylic paint with water to make it less thick. Stamp the hands on the plate and let dry for 24 hours to avoid cracking. Draw in the grill using oil based Sharpies and let dry. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees Celsius. Careful not to over bake as the color may turn. Recommended Hand Wash Only.

Sentimental gifts are nice, but remember, the most important present your child can give their father is, in fact, their presence. Enjoy the day together!

DIY FIRST BIRTHDAY PHOTOS

How, how, how is my baby almost TWO?! It’s amazing how time works. In one way I cannot believe it has only been 2 years since we welcomed my little love into our lives, but on the other side, I can’t imagine there was ever a time she wasn’t a part of our lives. I mean, she was a part of our lives before she was even born. Heck, she was a part of our lives before she was even conceived.

I’m a big fan of documenting everything when it comes to my little love, and I especially get intense when it comes to those big milestones. Wanting birthday photos, but not loving the price tag associated, I decided to set up my own birthday milestone photoshoot.

Here are some tips and tricks for the do it yourselfer!

1- Pick your theme: I am a big fan of fairytale feels, and wanted to create a ethereal birthday feeling for my little loves birthday. We knew we wanted a cake smash, which we did separately, but we also wanted some photos of her all clean and in an environment fit for a princess. Themes being colour, or content are a definite way to focus your photos to make your vision come true!

2- Find your props: I knew I wanted an outdoor shoot and so I began scouting locations and props for her special model. The location was easy as we went with one of my favourite places to visit, sit or even write in. I chose some simple pink and white balloons to accent the space and found a beautiful canopy for her to sit under. To add a bit more colour to the already beautiful space, I brought some of the tissue flowers I had made for her party to tie it all together.

Browsing Pinterest, I had also come across a too cute “hot air balloon” picture I thought was too cute to pass up. Seriously, Babies in baskets are my absolute favourite! If you’re stuck for ideas, Pinterest has a ton of beautiful ideas for you to go off of and make your own.

3- Remember less is more: While it may be adorable dressing your child in a crazy cute outfit and surrounding them with a ton of props and colours, it is important to remember those things are not the star of your photos, your child is. Their beautiful cherub faces, bright eyes and amazing smiles will make any photo special, so just relax when it comes to thinking you need this, that and the other thing for that professional-esk photo. You already have the perfect model.

4- Natural light: If you are not a professional photographer, getting the lighting right may be tricky. I will always seek out an opportunity to use natural light with my photos as I really feel like everyone looks their best in it. If I can take photos outside, great! If not, I try and set up my shoots next to the biggest window I can find so that I don’t have that yellow that comes with incandescent bulbs.

5- Have fun with it: Listen, your child is not going to take direction as well as you would want them to. You can try and get them to hold the wooden letter and not eat the paper flower, but you know what? They’re going to do what they’re going to do. Set the scene and let them explore because that’s when the magic happens. That’s when you get the honest, beautiful pictures that absolutely capture the light of your life. Those are the memories you want, not the posed perfections, the silly real snaps of your little love!

DISNEY 101- SIMPLE TIPS TO SURVIVING YOUR FIRST TRIP

If there is one thing I love (aside from my kid, husband, champagne and hotdogs) it’s Disney. It truly is one of my first loves. Growing up, I was delusional enough to believe that I was a Disney princess and that the world was my fairytale. Glitter was pixie dust and I could paint with all the colors of the wind. So naturally, when I found out I was pregnant, before picking a crib or picking a theme my nursery, I started planning our Disney adventures.

Well, as you know, SAHM life is one that usually goes hand in hand with a tight budget; therefore, while I am determined to one day be in the position to stay at the incredible Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, this was not that day. When it comes to saving for vacations, I have a little trick that I swear by. I started to do this when I was in my early twenties and have been able to go on some incredible adventures because of it. Each time I come across a debit machine that has a cash back option, I always opt to take out twenty dollars, which I will then deposit into our travel account at a later date. It’s a pretty simple solution that can accumulate a vacation without very much additional stress or financial planning.

Choosing Your Dates

When you are looking at choosing your dates, there are a few things to keep in mind. Obviously peak seasons are beneficial because of extended hours of operation, better weather and more themed experiences such as Mickey’s Haunted Halloween or A Very Mickey Christmas; however, you have to decide if those extras are worth the added cost and crowds. In my case, they did not.

We opted for an early February vacation. Yes, the park hours were reduced, and some favorite rides were closed due to updates and repairs, but the trade off was much shorter lines. Furthermore, thanks to the weather and the fact that Californian’s apparently melt in the rain, we had a few days where our longest wait time was twenty minutes. Let me tell you, with a toddler, that fact alone was pure gold!

Having gone with a twenty month old who still naps and has a bedtime of 7:30, we didn’t feel like the additional cost of a peak season would really be worth it for us.

Picking Your Hotel

When it comes to picking a hotel, we opted to check out a variety of different options all within walking distance. We ended up at the Holiday Inn and Suites because in the past we have been happy with the hotel chain, but more importantly, it was the right price point. We actually chose to book through Westjet Vacations because they offered a hotel and flight combo that just couldn’t be beat. When booking, make sure to price out flights and hotels separately as well as flight vacation deals to make sure you get the best value. In our case, booking through Westjet Vacations allowed us to book in Canadian dollars, which was AMAZING considering the exchange at the time would have increased our costs by 33%. Winner!

When picking your hotel, it is important to create a list of must-haves and find lodging that will be the most compatible with your needs. For us, our needs were pretty low-key. We needed a place close to the park with access to a crib, as my daughter does not yet sleep in a big girl bed. Continental breakfast and pool, while nice, while nice, were not deal breakers. An important thing to keep in mind with hotels is that they will most likely not guarantee you a crib until the day of, as they typically will only have one or two on hand. Before you leave the house, call the hotel and confirm availability of a crib, and then push to have it confirmed to your room, otherwise you may be SOL in which case you should probably lug your own pack and play if that is required. Also, be advised that while some hotels like the Holiday Inn will have actual metal cribs which can be easily sanitized, others may only offer a pack and play with a mesh siding that most likely has never seen the right side of a scrub brush.

To Park Hop or Not To Park Hop

There are lots of options when it comes to buying park passes for entry into Disney. Obviously, the more days you are there the better the buy. An awesome perk is that you receive a Magic Morning (early entry) for one of your days if you buy a pass for 3 days or more. That being said, you may feel inclined to purchase a park hopper pass. To which I would maybe suggest pumping the breaks a bit.

While California Adventures is a neat extension to Disneyland, it is still in the process of being built and therefore, not as magical as the original Disney park. While the cars ride is a MUST, California Adventures definitely provides more classic amusement park rides such as the Screamin coaster, Mickey’s Ferris Wheel, Goofy’s Flight School, bumper cars, etc. Aside from Toy Story Mania, Monsters Inc and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, there are not many rides that will truly transport you into the Magical World of Disney the way Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland or Pirates of the Caribbean will.

It honestly pales in comparison at this point in it’s development in my opinion, and to me was not worth the additional cost of a park hopper. That being said, the World of Color water show is a definite must as it is as breathtaking as Dumbo flying over Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Disney 101

Disneyland (aside from my own kitchen of course) is the happiest places on earth. There is Disney magic sprinkled all over the park from the moment you step foot into the park. That being said, there are a bunch of tips and tricks that will help make the magic a little easier to absorb.

  • While the food is actually fairly reasonably priced considering you are in Disney and the toddler options are fantastic with meals that come with a drink and a fruit pouch, it is definitely a good idea to bring your own snacks. You can order groceries from Von’s and have them delivered to your hotel. Also, if you’re up for a little trek, there is a Walgreens close by where you will be able to stock up on snacks to occupy your child in those long lines.
  • Buy a photo pass. There are photographers scattered all around the park that will capture some amazing shots for you. These Disney cast members are awesome at capturing interactions between your littles and their favorite characters so that you can be in the moment instead of fumbling with your phone. Also as a bonus, all those horribly, hilarious photos of you screaming on space or splash mountain are yours for the saving. This is definitely a well worth it purchase.

  • Take advantage of the fast passes. Rides like Indiana Jones and Hyperspace mountain can easily have you lined up for over an hour, so while the fast pass won’t have you on the ride right away, it will probably get you on the ride just as fast had you waited anyways. Beware though as some rides will run out of fast passes quickly depending on crowds. In California Adventures, the Cars fast passes will be out before noon, so don’t stand around twiddling your finger, get there fast. For fast passes, with the exception of World of Color, you will either have to wait two hours before grabbing another, or wait until you are within the time period of your ticket. For rides like Autopia and Peter Pan that don’t offer fast pass options, be sure to make those priority rides in the morning or you will be waiting well over 45 minutes to ride.
  • It is important to keep in mind that Disneyland does not have Wifi, but it is definitely a good idea to invest in unlocking your phone and a US sim card so that you will be able to access the Disneyland app. It will keep you up to date on ride times, nearest washrooms, what characters are out, and where to eat.
  • Bring your own poncho. Yes, it still rains in California, and you don’t want to be stuck in the park when it does without a rainproof option because I’m sorry, no matter how wet I am I cannot justify ten dollars for a poncho. I just can’t. Also, make sure to bring your own Disney outfits. 60$ for a dress at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique can sure add up if you’re there for five days! I shopped Walmart and H&M for comfortable Disney attire. I also lucked out and found matching (yes matching!) jackets at the Disney outlet.

  • Budget for a souvenir. Everywhere you go and everyone you see will have something that your kid will absolutely love, so if you can, let your kid pick out something from the emporium. The best items, hands down, are the bubble wands. Seriously, this thing was a lifesaver for entertainment while we were waiting to meet a princess or for the parade to start. I know, I know you’re already spending an arm and a leg just by being there, but twenty dollars bought me sanity and with the bubbles being so affordable, I definitely wish I had made the purchase sooner. Also, just for fun, you can get free buttons at the Town Hall. We got my daughter a “My first visit” pin that she proudly showed everyone! I also got an “I’m celebrating” one.

If You Can, Make It A Family Event

While it would have been nice just going as a family of three, being there with my mom and my sister was definitely a positive experience. My mom, having knee problems, was happy to stay with my daughter during naps and bedtimes, which gave us the opportunity to explore the park and go on some more adult rides. My husband and I got some time to spend just the two of us, and everyone got to experience pure Disney joy through the eyes of a child.

 

Taking my daughter to Disneyland was definitely a dream come true. While I know she is not likely to remember the trip, I will always be able to smile remembering the happiness and laughter that we got to experience together. Leaving the park on the last day may have brought a tear to my eye, but I know we will be back in a few short years. While there is a lot of stimulus for young eyes and you may be stuck riding King Arthur’s Carousel again and again, it is definitely worth every penny.

Goodbye Disneyland, thanks for the memories and be seeing you soon.

Until next time,

XoXo

Anjie

MAGICAL MOMENTS WITH YOUR TODDLER

I don’t think I can truly express how much I love Disney. I mean, I seriously LOVE Disney! I’m one of those people that despite the realities of life, I still believe in fairytales and happily ever afters. Becoming a mom I went from Princess to Queen and while there is a ton more responsibility that comes with the new title, I was glad to pass the tiara down to my beautiful little pea!

Working with children, I see how quickly kids grow up. Thinking back to the stupid naïve kid I was at 10 years old playing with Beanie Babies in the tree in the play yard during recess, it saddens me to see how much trends have changed and how quickly kids are ready to grow up now a days. After all, they are preteens NOT kids anymore. Seriously, when did that happen?!

Knowing that the years are fleeting, you know, since I blinked and woke up with a toddler, I’ve decided I am going to do everything I can to keep that magical sparkle burning bright in my child’s innocent eyes.

1- Photo shoots: I LOVE taking photos of my kiddo. It is actually one of my favorite pastimes. While the majority of them are natural and of her playing in a field, or exploring the sand on the beach, every now and again I like to capture a little whimsy and set up an actual staged photo shoot. Like I said, I am a massive fan of Disney, so of course I needed some accent pictures with beautiful quotes to compliment my little girl’s garden princess room, and what better theme to choose than the magic of a Disney Princess!

Costumes are easy enough to find, the props are a little trickier. I’ve been planning my princess scenes in line with the seasons. Cinderella is easy to capture around Halloween thanks to the magic pumpkins you will be able to transform into little carriages. Elsa is best to do in the winter where, depending on where you live, you can use the snow to capture your scene. Ariel is best to keep for summer and Belle gives more of an autumn feeling.

Whatever direction or theme you choose for your photos, make sure to have fun with it.

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Cinderella Disney Toddler Photoshoot

2- Tea Parties: Fall down the rabbit hole on a Sunday afternoon with a beautiful tea party complete with mad hatter treats and unbirthday merriment. Right now, there is nothing my kid loves more than stirring her teacup with a teeny tiny spoon, so I decided to have a little fun and spruce up a daily activity.

I started by adding lots of color to my table with a fun tablecloth and flowers. Next, I made a few special treats for our party. Cheshire smile cookies and berries with a sign saying eat me. In addition to her play teapots, I went to my favorite store (Home Sense of course!) and picked up a cute, and cheap colorful tea set.

Yes, things like this take a little planning, but I am all about making those amazing memories with my kid and engaging in special moments. Weekdays are chaotic and usually run on a routine. Whimsical weekend activities are my reminder to stop and smell the freshly painted roses instead of rushing around because we are once again running late.

3- Dress up: This is the perfect activity to really create a foundation for creativity and imagination. Dressing up and playing make belief creates a sense of positive expression. While it’s easy to simply view dress up as another form of play, it gets children thinking about how a princess would act, or a doctor, or a cowboy, or a police officer which begins to create an understanding of community.

Also, contrary to societal views, there is absolutely no rules stating that girls can only wear dresses and that boys cannot. While I love, love, love seeing my girl twirl like Cinderella, princess dresses are not the only options in her dress up corner. The other day I walked in to find my daughter coloring in her car costume while wearing a tiara, which made me fall in love with her more and more. She likes what she likes, she feels how she feels, and I love those moments when her personality shines.

Halloween is a great time to pick up some fun costumes and accessories to add to your dress up corner. I have gotten some killer deals in the past thanks to clearance sections and after Halloween sales, but make sure you have a designated place for all the great things you will be bringing home. In my delusional days, I thought it would be great to have her costumes hanging next to a mirror…I was younger and more naïve back then. Sure, maybe when she’s older I’ll be able to have the Pinterest worthy dress up corner, but for now I am happy with my dress up trunk and a few baskets to manage the accessories. After all, if it was good enough for Mr. Dressup, it’s good enough for me!

4-Bubble Dancing: Is there anything as enchanting as bubbles? Seriously, I love everything about bubbles. From the bubbles in my bath, to the bubbles drifting through the air, to the well deserved bubbles dancing around my flute of champagne after a very long, and tiring no nap day. And if I, a twenty-seven year old, feel that happy around a bubble, think of how magical they are for that sweet little toddler of yours.

Kids love new textures and experiences. Bubbles are around us daily. You have endless opportunities to strap on your ruby slippers and float through Oz with Glinda the good witch; all you need is a little creativity. For instance, bubble wrap. Think of the satisfaction everyone feels in popping those tiny bubbles of plastic. Why not try strapping them to your feet and walking around like a dinosaur? Or even simpler, blow bubbles in your milk and listen for the belly laughter that will inevitably follow from your curious toddler.

The world is a messy place; a little bit of suds and magic can go a long way!

5- Disney adventures: Okay, okay, I know this is not as realistic as the other activities in this post, but I CANNOT WAIT to take my kid to Disney for the first time. I am fortunate to live close enough to California that I will not have to sell a kidney to make it to Disney before I’m seventy-five. We have been planning our first trip ever since the strip turned blue and I am so thrilled that it will be a reality soon. Check back for all the tips and tricks I’ve learned when it comes to planning your Disney adventure; post is coming soon to the blog!

Anyways, getting back on track If Disneyland or Disney World is not feasible for your family at this time, no worries; there are TONS of Disney adventures to be had. Really, even going to see a movie in a theater is a pretty awesome thing for a kid. Add a costume and a fun sing along car ride and you’re golden! Another option is to hit up a Disney On Ice show if you are lucky enough to live in a city they tour to. Growing up, my birthday present every year was attending a D.O.I show and it was always so, so magical. I got to wear my Minnie ears and stay out past my bedtime. Not only is it a fun (and cheaper) alternative, it is also such a fun tradition. I’ll be honest, being twenty-seven, I still can’t wait for the show to come to town.

At the end of the day, there are countless ways to bring the magic of Disney into your household. Kids have a habit of growing up too fast, especially in a day and age where technology is such a dominant part of our daily lives. As difficult as it may be, I am determined to keep my little princess believing in fairytales and dreaming about fairies and pixie dust as long as possible.

While kids are destined to grow up, take a night to get a little lost in Neverland, shall we?

XoXo

Mama Lost Boy