Friday, June 24, 2016

Just imagine how cooler I'll be....IN SUMMER!!

Olaf has been waiting for his moment in the sunlight!  
It's finally Summer!!!

With two boys, Summer can be a fun...and interesting time.  School's out, which means that Littlehead's year in 1st Grade is over, and Momma's Preschool year is over as well.  And Littlesthead is just enjoying being a 1 year old.  So, that means Summer adventures can commence.  

There will be some Cub Scout fun throughout the Summer.  Our local Cub Scout Day Camp is fast approaching.  And of course there are Pack and Den activities to keep us busy.  Vacation will be another week of awesome fun.  BUT WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF SUMMER??!!!!

I'm a typically active person.  I like to be outside when it's possible.  Filling up the baby pool, turning on the slip-n-slide, riding bikes, going on hikes... all of these are things we like to do.  Rainy day?  Board games, Legos, reading and whichever subject we have chosen to study throughout the Summer.  We've learned about bugs, birds, the human body, robots and currently learning about astronomy.  All these fun ideas, but how to make sure we do them and not end up at the ol' standby... TV, Ipad, Video games?  It does make for a challenge to not turn into screen time zombies.

Thanks to this wonderful thing called the Internet, I have found a few solutions to solve this Summer bummer situation.

First things first.....
How do we limit some of the screen time?  It's way too easy for my littlehead to plop down with his Ipad or Netflix.  I found quite a few screen time charts or incentive systems.  I came across one in particular that I felt like would work with my 7 year old from the Shady Lane.
This is the blank version, but there are other versions as well, including a different color scheme and pre-filled in items.  I printed out a copy, filled in the tasks and slid the sheet into a clear plastic sheet protector.  As my littlehead completes a task, we can color in the meter with a dry erase marker until he earned his screen time, wipe clean and start again.  I incorporated reading time (which goes along with our local library's summer reading program), easy chores, and activities from two other summer boredom busters I will mention in just a minute.

My littlehead has always loved activity books.  It could be my doing.  Ever since he was old enough to wield a crayon, we carried coloring books or activity books where ever we went.  Going out to dinner,  a long ride in the car, the doctor's office?  Let's load up the backpack with activity books.  In more recent years, a majority of those activity books became Math related.  Man, does he love Math. We have inadvertently been preventing Summer Slide with these fun activity books, but he doesn't need to know that.  

Of course it was a no brainer when I came across the Summer Brain Camp binder printables from Imagination Soup.  There are activities for Reading, Writing and Math.

The free printables include 3 lists of various activities and reward coupons.  They also provide links to various resources to accompany the listed activities.  It's pretty easy, print, slide into sheet protectors, and put in a binder.  I put a binder friendly pencil pouch to hold dry erase markers.  

My FAVORITE Summer Boredom Buster that I found is from Over the Big Moon: 60 Days of Summer Fun!  All you need is some Popsicle sticks, a way to color code them, and the printable activity cards. 

At Over the Big Moon, they created a color coded system:

ORANGE= Art, Activity or Craft

PURPLE= Cooking

GREEN= Field Trip (Museum, Zoo, Etc)

BLUE= Water Activity

YELLOW=  Science Experiment

SILVER =  Special Activities

There are completed activity cards and blank cards that can easily be edited in Photoshop.  I really only had to edit the Green Field Trip cards and the Silver Special Activities.  This year, with my Littlehead being in Cub Scouts, I added a new color category:  RED = Hiking Locations.  

What on earth do you do with all these popsicles?   At the beginning of the week, Littlehead picks a popsicle from each color, except for Silver.  We find the coordinating activity card, and refer back to Over the Big Moon for activity information or recipes.  That's right, they have all the needed information and resources linked right on the website!  We try our best to complete the activities before the week is up.  Sometimes we end up a little more busy with camps, doctor appointments, sleepovers at the grandparents', or some much needed errands.  

With all of these Summer Boredom Busters combined, I should never hear the words "Mooommmmmmmm..... I'm booorrrrreeeeeddddd..."

I hope these suggestions can work for you family as well as it did for mine.  Have a great Summer!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We forgot the introductions!

Oh how rude of me.  I completely forgot the formal introductions to our littlesthead.

It was a pretty cold day on February 16th.  There was some snow left on the ground when we went to the hospital.  It was a planned c-section, so there was no rush to the hospital.  After all the pre-op and such, the littlesthead was officially born at 11:24 am.  What this mama remembers from the operating room... some super silly things.

When asked how I was feeling after getting epidural and whatever other fluids they were pumping into me, my response was "I'm actually hungry".  I was!  I wasn't allowed to eat anything for breakfast since my food/liquid intake had a midnight cutoff.

Right around that 11:24 mark, Dr. Gotzman, who was performing the procedure, says "What are you holding onto in there?" Apparently, the littlesthead was a grabby little guy and got a grip on something.  Good news, he did not bring any kind of souvenir out with him.  And, the presentation to mama and daddy over the blue curtain...littlesthead proceeds to show his love by spitting at his mama.  Yeah... love you too buddy.

Littlesthead weighed 6 lbs 5 ounces and was 18 inches long.

So, now, here we the 3 month mark.

Wait?!  What?!?!  3 months already?!?!?  My how time flies. And look how impressed he must be to be 3 months old.

Littlehead and littlesthead are getting along well.  Big Brother is enjoying his promotion.  He loves holding his little bro, and entertaining him.  It's fun now that littlesthead smiles and laughs.  He is even starting to recognize familiar faces, including Big Bro.  I mean, look at the brotherly love.

And let's say, these two definitely look like brothers.  Don't believe me...see for yourself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Cloth Diaper Chronicles - Lil Helpers

So, yes, we are in the midst of the Cloth Diaper adventure with the Littlesthead.  We are quickly approaching 3 months since the littlesthead was born.  We have been cloth diapering for a little over a month, well part-time.  I have a few different brands that I purchased to try out.  One of the brands that I came across thanks to Fluff Love University, is Lil Helper.  Lil Helper has been around since 2009.  The company was founded by Mohammed Gandhi and Nader Abu El Samid,  and it's sole mission is "to provide quality products and fantastic customer service".  "Apart from providing parents with a greener alternative to disposable diapers, Lil Helper also started the Baby Do Good program, which gives 1 brand new cloth diaper to a family in need for every 3 diapers they sell."

After finding out about Lil Helper, I decided to give them a try.  At the time, they were running a special, 50% off on 2 Diapers and FREE SHIPPING!!  Why would I not take advantage of that?  The catch, I had to select 5 of my favorite colors, and they would pick 2 to ship me.

Well, apparently word got around, and the good people at Lil Helper actually had to wait for their diapers to get restocked.  I received an email from Mohammed informing me of the delay and that this was "not business as usual".  Okay, so my order is delayed.  No problem, especially since they notified me.  A check mark in the great customer service column.

Before I knew it, I received my package from Lil Helper!  And it didn't just have my diapers!

I was surprised to see some extra goodies included.  They sent a cloth wipe, a hand-written thank you note, tea and some treats!  Another check mark in the great customer service column.

Next step, I prepped my new diapers for use, and was a little sad to discover (dun dun dunnnn) that one of the inside snaps that connects to the liner was missing!

So, I sent a nice email informing them of the missing snap, and even sent the picture.  Well, guess what?  Shortly after, I received a response that (1) they needed me to resend the picture b/c they were in the midst of migrating to a new help system and (2) they would send me a replacement  cover.  I asked if they'd like me to send the now defective one back and the answer was...No, go ahead and keep it.

After I got them all prepped, we gave them a test run.

 I do dig the Lil Helper diapers.  They fit pretty darn good, and are fairly trip.  Now, they came with two inserts, a large and a small that snap to the cover.  They are made to attach to each other and to the cover.  I have only been using one at a time.  If/when I decide to cloth at nighttime (we do disposables now) doubling the inserts would probably be a good idea.

What do I say about Lil Helper?  All good things.  The product is great.  The customer service is fantastic.  And the fact that have the Baby Do Good program is AMAZING!  Two thumbs up from this mama.  And if he could do it, another two thumbs from my littlesthead.

If you are thinking about trying Cloth Diapering, please consider Lil Helper.  They are always running specials it seems.  Go ahead.  Check them out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Preparing for the littlest-head

It's the final countdown to the arrival of our littlest head.   Plenty to do in a little over a month.

Let's go back to July 4th weekend, where the Big news was revealed to the Big Brother (and everyone else for that matter).  We were attending a Maryland Blue Crabs baseball game, and thought it would be a fun way to let the Littlehead know that he wasn't going to be the only littlehead in the family anymore.

Obviously, it was a bit of a shocker.  But we had more people to share the news with.  How to do it?
Well, good thing Mommy designs shirts for such an occasion.  We had to improvise since it would have taken too long to order a real shirt from my Cafe Press shop, but it worked great.

Littlehead walked into Mimi and Poppy's with the shirt on, and didn't say a word until someone actually read the shirt (which says "Big Brother To-Be : Loading in Progress").  Lot's of excitement ensued.

When it was time to find out if it was a Baby Mickey or Baby Minnie, we decided to involve the Big Brother in the reveal! He was at school while mom and dad were at the doctor's getting the results.

It's another BOY for the Goldman family!
Good thing we've held on to all if little head's clothes and such.  We just have to supplement a few things since the littlest head will be born in the winter instead of the summer. 

Now it's January, and it's a little less than a month before the  little guy is due to arrive.  (Well, due is a little different in this case as it will be a scheduled C-Section).  And there's plenty to do.  The lists have has the nesting it seems as I have just spent the past few days tackling some organization in the kitchen.

One big thing on my mind lately... Cloth diapers. Now, big brother was a solely disposable diaper baby, until the cloth training pants stage.  Now...I have quite a few friends who are experienced cloth diapers, and I have hit them up for suggestions and advice.  I've also done research via Pinterest.  I found a decent sale on Zulily on FuzziBunz,and ordered a few.  Just waiting for them to arrive.  I also found a local gal who runs a cloth diaper business from her home.  A shout out to Tiffany at FiggyFuzz for letting me stop by and explaining all things cloth diapering.  It was very helpful to see and touch all the varieties of cloth diapers.  From pre-folds, to pockets, to all-in-ones.... it actually really all started to make sense.

So, this is the beginning of this new endeavor.  I hope to keep sharing as I learn more about cloth diapers and how they work or don't work for us and the littlesthead.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Yet more Disney inspiration... Tinkerbell Gifts

As the 1 year anniversary of our trip to the Mouse's house approaches, I am still reminded of all the fun we had.  I'm also finding some useful tips, tricks and fun information that was useful during out trip, that would be useful for others.

Last year was our now 5 year old's first trip to the World, and we wanted to make sure it was the most magical trip ever.  I scoured the web for any helpful information.  The result.... an overflowing Pinterest board.

Let's talk Tinkerbell Gifts, because this is one of the most fantastic ideas to add a little extra magic to any kid's trip to WDW.  The idea is that Tinkerbell, or whomever your child's favorite character happens to be, leaves a little something special in your room each day.  I personally thought this was brilliant!  Not only does it have that magic factor. it also creates a method of reducing the
meltdowns for souvenirs, and may even encourage good behavior.  In the weeks leading up to our trip, I searched through the clearance section at Walmart, the $1 spot at Target, and our local Dollar Tree for gifts.  I also made use of my creativity for a few of them.  The biggest purchase was pins for trading/collecting from eBay.

***Time for a Public Service Announcement... when purchasing pins from eBay... DO YOUR RESEARCH!!  Google "Disney Scrapper Pins".  They exist, and unfortunately, the trading pull on any given Cast Members' lanyard in a park has been "diluted" with these scrapper pins.  They are not illegal, and some are cool, but still...  Also, make sure you purchase from an eBay seller with a high ranking to reduce your chance of being scammed.   ***

Back to Tinkerbell Gifts... I did end up with a pretty darn good stash of gifts for my littlehead.  Next step was to organize and write cute little messages to accompany them.  This is definitely fun.  Let me show you how my notes turned out.

The first gift was came the night before the trip.  Littlehead found a nice surprise waiting for him on his bed.  Mickey had somehow left a package with new Disney PJs and a set of activities for the plan.  He also included a reminder to wear the "I'm going to Walt Disney World Resort" shirt littlehead had gotten for his birthday.

Then next gift was delivered very early the next morning (it's amazing how Mickey mail works).  Russell (from Up) was kind enough to send a note of encouragement for littlehead's first plane ride.  There was also some animal guides and an invitation to become a Wilderness Explorer at Animal Kingdom, as that was the planned for after check-in at our resort.

Every morning, a new gift was waiting somewhere in our room at Caribbean Beach, and sometimes next door in Mimi and Poppy's room.  The character who sent the package usually corresponded with the activities of the day.  Gifts included:

    • Glow sticks for nighttime activities
    • Activity books
    • A printed passport for EPCOT
    • An autograph book for Universal Studios
    • A Trick or Treat bag for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
    • Buzz and Woody figures

And each day, there were pins to either use for trading purposes, or just to add to the collection.

Here are the notes that were left each day.  The littlehead was very excited to see who left him a gift each day.  There was one day taht two gifts were delivered.  That would be the day we had breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mikey and Pluot at 'Ohana's before heading to Magic Kingdom for half of the day.  We took time for a nap, during which the second gift was found, before heading back to Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.



For the day that we visited EPCOT, this "communicator" note was left by Major Monogram, in addition to the note from Duffy.  M.M. was recruiting our little agent to take part in the Agent P Adventure throughout EPCOT.  That was a fun addition to the World Showcase.

Were the Tinkerbell gifts a success?  I'd say so. Littlehead did not pester us every minute of the day for a souvenir.  We did find some special items through the parks, like tshirts and even took the time to have a silouhette done.  oh, and Pressed Pennies.... those were a hit as well.

About those Pressed Pennies... littlehead loves them.  And they do make a pretty cool souvenir.  Collect your pennies and quarters prior to your trip.  Then get a container.  Those M&M Mini cannisters are the best.  You can easily find printable wraps around the Internet, or you can design your own.  Use this pattern to load your quarters and pennies for the most efficient method:  Quarter, Quarter, Penny.  You will need $.51 cents per each pressed penny.  Want to be even more efficient, have a list or map of the pressed penny locations printed, or saved on your phone.  You can find a good up to date list here or some maps here.

I hoe your find this helpful.  If you have any questions about Tinkerbell Gifts or the notes I created, don't hesitate to ask.  And if you're planning your next trip to Disney, good luck and I hope you have a magical time.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yes, we're pin collectors...

All of these Thursday that have passed me by and I have yet to take advantage to make one a "Throwback Thursday".  Today, I have the opportunity to do a little Throwback to 2001.

It was my 3rd trip to Walt Disney World.  I was almost 20 years old, and it was Spring Break in my college days.  My parents decided to take myself and my cousin, Shannon, on a trip to Universal Studios Orlando and Walt Disney World.  AWESOME!!!

I'm pretty sure this is the trip where I was on the plane with my short hair up in crazy pig tail things on top of my head.  The airline attendant walked by and reminded my mom that we were seated in an emergency exit row, and wanted to confirm that I was at least 12 years old.  12?!?!?!  We all looked at her and my mom blurted out "SHE'S 20 YEARS OLD!"  I've hear looking younger, but wow.... 8 years younger.  

Anyhoo - fast forward a bit through the trip. We noticed folks walking around with lanyards and such around their necks, weighed down by numerous pins.  Then we saw the carts selling these various shiny pins.  We checked out one of the carts finally and asked what the deal was with these pins.  That's how I first learned about Disney pin trading.  I was debating joining the craze.  I did't know the history, didn't know how long it had been going on, didn't know how long it would last.  The Cast Member realizing my hesitation informed me that pin trading had been going on for 2 years, and it wasn't going anywhere.  Okay!  SOLD!  Sign me up.  What do I do?

So, we bought a lanyard and a pin or two.  The Cast Member who sold it to us, also gave me my first official pin trade: a very cool musical Mickey conductor.  

I acquired a few more pins throughout the trip, including one from the Caribbean Beach Resort where we were staying.  And of course, I HAD to have an Indiana Jones pins, especially since I was finally on a trip that I was old enough to be in the Indiana Jones stunt show and was selected to be in it!

And here we are, posing under the Tudor Lane sign ('cause my maiden name was Tudor) and my pin lanyard around my neck.

Now, fast forward 12 years. It was back to Walt Disney World for my 4th visit, and my littlehead's 1st visit!!  What did I make sure he received for his birthday prior to the trip, his own pin trading starter set!  It came with a lanyard and four 2013 pins representing the four WDW parks. 

Littlehead's first "trade" was the very pin I received as my first "trade" - the musical Mickey conductor.  The other pin he received as part of his Disney theme bday gift was a really cool spinner with Mickey and Friends.

We acquired a few more pins for trading purposes.  When we arrived in WDW, the littlehead and I were ready to do some serious trading.  We ended up with some great pins.  Some traditions had to be repeated.  For instance, littlehead was in need of a pin to remind us of the resort we stayed: Caribbean Beach Resort.  On the left, if my pin from 2001, the right is his awesome Mickey pirate pin.  Yeah, I was way jealous that his is much cooler than mine.  But the folks at CBR did appreciate my older pin.

So, after we acquired a collection we needed a way to display them.  Where else to look, but Pinterest?  I found my inspiration for a great pin display at these two sites:

Utilizing two shadow boxes (which happen to be on sale at JoAnn Fabrics), two foam boards from the dollar store, and free customized maps from Disney, we created two awesome pin displays that now reside in the littlehead's room.  The Disney customized maps are fantastic!  You can select your favorite rides and attractions to be listed on your maps.  They will have your family's name on them as well.  You can choose from a Character or Classic theme.  For these, we chose the Classic theme.  The only problem I have with these is that they are double sided.  Luckily the two maps I wanted to use for this project are on two different sheets.  

Above is the Magic Kingdom map display.   The littlehead and I sat down with our pins and chose ones that fit in with the Magic Kingdom.  We even included our band from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

This one is a map of all of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.  This was a fun one.  We actually had pins that represented each park.  And, our Caribbean Beach Resort pins were a great addition as well.

Littlehead's 1st Visit button also found a home on the WDW resort map!

Here are the lanyards, displaying the pins that remain.  Yup, we are Disney Pin Collectors (ignore the Ravenclaw Quidditch pin on my lanyard. Besides being a Disney Geek, I'm also a Harry Potter nerd).  We are quite proud to be Pin Traders and look forward to more trading in Disney.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Paying the Magic Forward

Prior to our trip, I did quite a bit of online research for Disney tips, tricks and other miscellaneous information.  I came across so many interesting things.  One of my favorite little tidbits, was found on  The Disney Diva shares an anecdote about a trip to Disney where a 12 year old girl approached the Diva and her daughter to share a plush Minnie Mouse.  The 12 year old's mother proceeded to explain that each trip they buy a toy for their children to give-away to another child to "create some magic for another family."  

The Disney Diva and her family started a similar tradition.  She shares; "throughout the trip they look for families with children in melt-down or just being pushed down the street in their stroller. When they feel the child is JUST RIGHT for their toy they approach the family and ask permission to give their toy away."  

She concludes her story with the following:
"So this is the Diva Family Challenge to you on your next trip. Are YOU willing to make some magic for another family? Give it a try and see if it doesn’t turn out to be the highlight of your trip."

Well, after reading the post, I thought it was the most brilliant idea EVER!  I was ready to take the challenge.  I shared the story with my 4 year old son, and asked him if this was something he was interested in doing?  His face brightened at the idea of sharing some magic with another boy or girl during our trip.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

So, we went on a search for a small plush Minnie and Mickey.  We happened upon some perfect ones at CVS (of all places).  We wrote up some notes and tied them to Mickey and Minnie's arms (a little rhyme to share a smile and an explanation of our new family tradition).  My son was very proud to pack them in his suitcase to Disney World.  

After we arrived, we made sure we had one of the plush dolls with us in a backpack at the parks.  My son kept an ear and a eye ready to identify a "friend" having a bad day.  Our first friend who needed a smile we found at Hollywood Studios.  We had just gotten off Toy Story Mania, and could hear someone crying nearby.  We looked around, and saw a mom with her crying daughter in a stroller.  I looked at my son, asked if this was someone he thought needed a little smile, and when he responded "Yes", we walked over together with of the plushes in hand.  As we approached the pair, I explained to the Mom that we have this plush, and can see her daughter was in need of a smile.  I asked if it was okay if my son could give her daughter the plush. After receiving approval, my son peeked into the stroller, offered the plush, and instantly the little girl stopped crying.  I read her the rhyme and told her that we hope she'll keep a smile for the rest of the day.  Even the mom had a smile.

Our second friend who needed a smile was in EPCOT.  We followed the same protocol as before, with my asking the mom and giving an explanation first.  Turned out, the friend we heard had siblings as well who were succumbing to a long day.  We spoke to the girl, and I even asked her if she could share the Mickey with her siblings to give them a little smile.  

After both encounters, my son and I had even bigger smiles, knowing that we shared a little magic with others.  We didn't ask for anything in return, we never gave our names.  We actually saw one of our "friends" later in the day, but didn't draw attention to ourselves.  We smiled as we noticed there was not an unhappy sound that followed.  We helped make a little extra magic, and it felt really good.  

So, as the Disney Diva issued in her blog, I am doing the same here and challenging YOU to make a little magic for another family during your Disney trip.  It really does add that special something that you will remember, and possibly a memory another family will have with them forever.