August 21, 2014

One Year & Beyond - Dining Out with a Toddler

Wow, I can't believe this is the second-to-last topic in our One Year & Beyond series! Today we're sharing our secrets for dining out with our toddlers.

Taking O out to eat used to be the biggest anxiety inducing outing for me. I would worry about what we would do if he had a meltdown in the middle of the restaurant? Or if he threw something across the room? Or what if we couldn't keep him contained to our table? I don't worry too much about all of those things anymore, we can handle whatever happens these days. Although, every once in a while we need a little extra help, so I try to make sure we're prepared with a few things that might help us make it through the meal.



No Expectations.
Keith and I have a rule for parenting, no expectations. I'm not saying we don't hold O to a certain standard of behavior, or that we don't expect a lot from him in terms of achievement, but when we're out and about we try to not have any expectations for how things will play out. Even with all of the preparation in the world and all of the fun entertainment you can provide you might still have a completely disastrous experience. No expectations, and no one leaves feeling too disappointed or jyped. Having said that, I think it is still very important that you set yourself up for success!

Be Fair to Your Child.
We don't expect O to sit in his car seat for a long drive up to San Francisco, go straight into a restaurant and sit nicely through an entire meal, only to get right back in the car and head home. That would not equal a happy experience for any of us. We try to work in some kind of play time before expecting him to sit still for any amount of time, so the restaurants we choose are usually near a park, toy store or shopping center we can roam for a bit.

The Right Location.
There are a handful of restaurants we like to bring O to. Here are the requirements:
  • noisy - to drown out the noise we will definitely be bringing to the table, literally. 
  • has a changing table - duh, but some places that you'd think would obviously have one do not. it's disappointing and really inconvenient.
  • is generally child friendly - will the other patrons give us the side-eye for bringing our kid in?
  • is there an escape route? - benihanna would be a huge NO, we need a place where we can take our meal to go at the drop of a hat.
  • entertainment - something for O to look at (a nice view of cars / the ocean / a tv) while we sit there. 
  • coloring place mat -did you know The Cheesecake Factory does not provide them? Shocked.
The Right Time.
Cranky pants and restaurants don't mix. Even if we plan on going out somewhere we'll usually nix those plans if O is exceptionally cranky or defiant that day. Like I said, set yourself up for success. BUT there are times, like when you're on vacation that you just have to eat out. When this happens we try to pick the best option, and maybe that's ordering takeout and eating somewhere O can play.


Bring Entertainment.
Crayons, coloring place mat, cars. busy bag, action figures. Anything to keep them busy and happy while you wait for your food. I don't pack all of the items pictured, but I usually make sure to throw one of them in my bag before heading out. Playdough, Melissa & Doug Crayons + paper, Water Wow by Melissa & Doug let's your child "paint" with a water pen, dinos + cars, or a Play Pack.


Bring Snacks.
I don't pack all of this food with us each time we go -- that would be INSANE, because the whole point of dining out is to not have to prep food yourself, right? This is just a look at some of the faves. We love our Zoli Snack Stacker, because the cups are interchangeable and you decide how many to bring. I always have O's Camelbak with us, but at a restaurant I usually order him a sparkling water, because it's his favorite and it will encourage him to stick around -- and it makes him feel like a big boy to have his own beverage from the restaurant.


Bring a Bribe.
Lollipops, a Hershey's Kiss, the promise of dessert at the end, etc. can all save you a few moments of peace before things get crazy.

When All Else Fails Pull Out the iPhone.
We both have Netflix and Amazon Instant Watch apps on our phones so we can turn on a quick show in a pinch. We also really love the Sago apps for Owen to play: Sago Mini Music Box · Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer · Sago Mini Forest Flyer.


Keep in Clean!
Restaurants aren't always the cleanest place, and if there aren't children's place mats given out I pull out my own for O to use. And of course, no mom leaves the house without some Wet Ones! I keep a large container in the back seat cup holders and a travel pack in the diaper bag / my purse.

Thank so much for stopping by and hearing what I have to share! Check out the other mama's blogs for even more tips! And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this.


July 10: Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17: Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24: Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31: Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7: Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14: Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21: Tricks for eating out with your toddler

Aug 28: Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)

August 19, 2014

Never Miss a Beat, I'm Lightning on My Feet

Okay, you know you've got that song stuck in your head too. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check it out here. Thank me later, friends!

O had his first dance class at Small Fry Dance Club and it was a total WIN!! Let me take you through how it all went down with a picture overload.


I know what you're thinking, "dance is for girls", and while I disagree, I may have doubted my decision to sign O up for the first 5 minutes of his class. O is naturally an outgoing boy, and has no trouble making friends with boys or girls, but he definitely feels more comfortable around other new children when some of them are boys.

He hung back for a little bit and sat in my lap while the rest of the kids sat in a semi-circle with the teacher. He still participated from my lap, but was reluctant to join the group for a bit.


And then things took a turn for the better! Look at that smile :) Maybe the circle was a little intimidating at first?


It didn't take long for our little star to get up and show off his rhythm. I'm pretty sure he gets it from me ;) Hashtag: can't stop, won't stop grooving



Look at that boy! This is when I realized I should never doubt my mommy instincts, because this was a fantastic idea. He was having a blast just shaking, wiggling and grooving all his energy out. 


He also proved himself to be a great listener and direction follower. You may remember our experience with gymnastics in the winter and the struggle we had with following directions. It's a relief to think this might go more smoothly.


O is not all too familiar with group style directions, so when the teacher asked everyone to find a yellow strip of tape to sit on, we were surprised he found one and sat right down -- again, I'm impressed. I had no idea he'd learned to follow directions, which is likely because I don't see him following he directions I give at home a lot. 


And then he reminded me that he's only 2 1/2 and has his own plans, and became the leader of the pack. The teacher did not ask them to all lay on their tummies -- Owen took it upon himself to switch positions and all the girls followed suit.


And then they had a little Meditation Time, which is code word for "let the poor instructor have a break, because that woman is working hard for the money, has all the patience in the world and has already earned her way into Heaven".


After Meditation Time the teacher set up a little obstacle course for each child to go through one at a time. All the kids that were not doing the obstacle course were asked to sit along the mirror while they waited their turn. I'm sure you can just imagine how that went. Poor lady, it was like herding a gang of feral kittens. But everyone had fun!


Before we knew it, class was over. Stamps were distributed, and good-byes were said. Keith and I spent the entire class smiling from ear to ear while watching O have a blast, so I'd say it was a GREAT idea to sign this boy up for dance class!! We're already looking forward to next week's class.

Small Fry Dance Club is one of our sponsors this month, but this post was not sponsored. All opinions expressed here about the class are my own. We purchased the voucher I told you about last week from Plum District for the class.

August 18, 2014

Blog Business Cards

Way back in the Spring when I purchased my tickets for BlogHer I knew that there were a few things I wanted to do to prepare myself for the conference. I had to make sure I had some comfortable/cute shoes and outfits, an idea of what I wanted to gain from going, and some cute business cards.


Besides having a mobile device of some sort (smartphone and/or tablet), business cards are the second most important thing to bring with you to an event like this. At a conference like BlogHer you meet so many new people and spend a ton of time chatting, that you would never be able to keep them all straight and remember their blogs without exchanging business cards. And it's really nice to have a system for keeping them all organized in your bag. I went the super fancy route and use a ziplock baggie to hold all of the tons of business cards I was accumulating. 

It took me forever to decide if I felt like my cards should match my blog design, or if I could get away with having something that just coordinated with the colors I have here. My little internal debate about the design helped me to continue procrastinating on having them made, and left me to design my own cards less than a week before the conference. I'm also really lucky to have a professional printer as a friend, so I was able to send my files to Jen and she printed and cut them for me. Thanks, Jen!


I used the Acorn program on my Mac (it's the same program I use to make all of my graphics) to create the layout. First I created a standard rectangular shape as my base. Then I pulled images from my site into a file on my desktop and made sure to save them as a PNG file. Then I just played around with what kind of design I wanted.



I really wanted a double sided card too, because why would anyone interested in marketing their site NOT want to take advantage of that space? I also wanted to keep things simple and clear so that my information can be easily read.

Next time I have cards made I think I will deifintely make the font a little larger and I'll include a few photos of some of my favorite projects to give an even better idea and feel for what my blog is about.

In the end I am so happy I created them myself and that they match my blog design!

August 15, 2014

Hello, Friday!

Goodness the week went by quickly! We've been around home a lot lately because there has been some work being done on the house (dry rot in the downstairs bathroom), so I am really exited when the weekend comes because it means we get to get out and see people and do fun things!

Playing Dress Up!
I've been looking forward to when O would want to play dress up since last year. When we bought his Halloween costume last year he wasn't really into it, and really fought me when I wanted to put it on him, but now he's totally into pretend! We bought this pirate costume yesterday at Costco (best $20 I've spent this month!) and the only time he's taken it off was last night for bath and bedtime. He promptly asked to wear it this morning upon waking up and I'm pretty sure he will be wearing it to the gym this morning!
 


New Subscription Box - Kiwi Crate 
I decided this week to cancel our subscription to Citrus Lane. We have loved all of the items we've received in our shipments, but I started to feel like O would benefit more from a subscription box that gave us an activity to do together rather than adding to our already overflowing amount of "stuff" in our home. Have you tried Kiwi Crate? I can't wait for our first box to be delivered, and I will share all the results.

Whole Foods Bag of Goodies 
Did you see the Blue Bottle Iced Coffee I posted on Instagram last week? It was amazing! While we were in there we also picked up a bag of goodies c/o Whole Foods San Mateo that was full of all sorts of fun new things to try! My favorite so far have been the Elderberry Balsamic, it's perfect for summer strawberries, and the water bottle for O, because we can always use more handy ways to stay hydrated! What are your favorite items to pick up at Whole Foods?

Organizing Our Life
I have been meaning to organize our personal files for as long as we've been married -- that's 4 years! I hate feeling panicked when I need to find some important paperwork and have to sort through a haphazardly organized box, so this weekend I am making a trip to Staples to buy all of the necessities to get us really organized. My biggest inspirations for this project: Simplified Personal Files and the Project Paper Series. I'm also hoping to get started on some kind of system to keep this blog organized, as my current system goes no further than my brain (not always dependable!) and my Life Planner.


Angel Soft Winner!
I drew the winner for the years supply of Angel Soft® facial and bath tissue giveaway, and the WINNER is Christina of This Woman Cooks! Congratulations Christina! I will send your information to my friends at Angel Soft and they will send you your products!

And on that note, we're off to workout and swim! Have a fantastic weekend! I'm linking this post up with a gaggle of wonderful people, so go check them and all the other linkersup!

August 14, 2014

One Year & Beyond - Another Baby?

Today is the sixth week of our One Year & Beyond series. This week we are discussing how we all figure out when it's time to have a second child and how we answer the most awkward question you can ask parents...
 
The question hanging there is absolutely the most awkward question I get asked these days. O is 2 1/2, and people have been asking us when we'll have another baby for quite some time now. You'd think that after being asked it a handful of times I'd know how what to say, but I still struggle with exactly how I want to answer it. Should I be honest, and dramatic, and drop the bomb on the question asker and give them all the details of exactly where we're at with baby #2? Should I smile and tell them we're not ready yet (which would be a total lie)? Or just play it cool, go the vague route and just say "We hope so!" and leave it at that? I usually go the vague route. It's safe. No one will leave the conversation feeling like they got more than they asked for, or feeling bad for probing, and I get to keep my privacy.



I know I'm guilty of asking the question myself. I've asked people I know and love the very question that breaks my heart each time it's asked. Even though I know some of them probably didn't mind, and my question didn't bother them. I want to apologize to the people who were hurt by it. It was none of my business to ask. Really, you never know what's going on in someone's home, their marriage, their heart, their body, their private life. There is so much more to having children than just wanting them.

So where are we at exactly? Where waiting, and hoping, and I hope that in a few months I'll have some happy news to share. We've had what's probably way more than our fair share of losses in the last 18 months, and right now I'm just trying to soak up my time with O and hope that someday soon he'll get to be a big brother. That's what I worry about the most, him growing up without a little comrade.

Now to answer the question of how you know when it's time to start thinking about having another child. It's really different for everyone, but we knew it was time to start trying to have another baby when things with O became less stressful and he became more easy going. We can take him almost anywhere, he's become a great little helper, so I can see that he will be ready to be a (really fantastic) big brother!

  
Hopefully you can relate to all of these Baby #2 talks this week! Check out the other mama's blogs for even more! And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this.

July 10: Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17: Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24: Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31: Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7: Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14: Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21: Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28: Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)
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