Monthly Archives: March 2015

Living with a toddler is like…

Living with a toddler is like…

Living with a toddler is like living with a drunk

ways Living with a toddler is like prison

why Living with a toddler is like being in jail

Thanks for the pep talk Google.

My top 3 apps for a 12 to 20 month old

Since my Top Maternity Apps blog post was such a hit (CTV Morning Live Video). I’ve decided to create a list of 3 great apps for 12 to 20 month olds.

 Mr. Potato Head – Create & Play: School Edition (free)

With this app, she’s learning to drag and drop objects into a toy box and replace facial features on Mr. Potato Head. Also, there is a fun camera feature in this game that enables you to take a screen shot of your Mr. Potato Head in action.

WheelsOnBus (Free or Pay)

We paid for the full version of this app, because our daughter loved it so much. There are many activities that she can do using this app. She can pretend she’s a bus driver, play a memory card game, learn about emergency vehicles with the tiny train and use the coloring book. Her favorite thing about this app is the song. She’s able to tell me that she wants this app on when she says “bébé”, because she wants to see the baby go “wah wah wah”. I thought this app was worth buying the full version.

KidsDoodle (free)

Our daughter loves colouring and drawing. She has a few Magna Doodle type toys and loves all of them. When we forget these toys in the car, I can often distract her with this app. The simple gesture of waving your finger around on the screen and a line happens to appear is enough to keep her attention for a few minutes.

Other apps that we continue to use on a daily basis are:

YouTube (free)

I create TV and music playlists for my daughter using YouTube. We have songs from Yo Gabba Gabba to the Sesame Street gang. TV shows from Dora to Mickey Mouse classics.

Relax Melodies (free)

We still use this app on a nightly basis. Our house is very small and we’ve found that this app helps her get a good night sleep and drain out some of the noise from the other rooms at night.

 

Do you have any apps that you like to use with your kids? What are they and what age are they playing it? I’m also looking for suggestions on French apps for kids.

25 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

IMG_4922

Are you looking for ideas to fill kids Easter basket for next weekend? Look no further, here is my list of 25 non-candy Easter basket ideas for kids.

  1. Play-doh
  2. Stuffed animals (chicks, rabbits)
  3. Mini Lego sets
  4. Paint
  5. Stickers
  6. Crayons & markers
  7. Sidewalk chalk
  8. Nail polish
  9. Windmills
  10. Popsicle molds
  11. Balls
  12. Bunny ears
  13. Books
  14. Socks
  15. Band-Aids
  16. Tickets to a local show
  17. Glow sticks
  18. Puppets
  19. Umbrella
  20. Sippy cup or regular themed plastic cup
  21. Chew toys (for the young ones)
  22. Bath toys
  23. Lip glass
  24. Baking kit (include anything from whisks, muffin tins, cake mix and/or spoons)
  25. Gardening kit (include anything from pots, watering cans and/or gardening gloves)

We got our daughter a few of these things on this list. We’ll see if it’s a hit next weekend.

Do you have any more ideas on non-candy Easter basket ideas for kids?

Reasons why to stay at Room2Board in Jaco, Costa Rica

As mentioned in a earlier post, my husband and I recently traveled to Jaco, Costa Rica for a little (much-needed) vacation. I have already written a very positive review on Trip Advisor for this hostel, but felt that I needed to go into more detail.

 

Location

The location of the hostel was ideal. Less than a 5 minute walk to the beach. It’s about a 15 min walk to the middle of the action in Jaco (IMO, this was where Los Amigos and/or Taco Bar were located). The hostel is actually tucked back a little from full view, which I liked. It wasn’t on the main strip, so it was a little quieter.

 

Cleanliness

This place had clean bathrooms, room and common areas. You can tell that it was very well-kept. Never was an issue.

 

Things to do

At the hostel you could:

  • Hang out by the pool
  • Eat breakfast/lunch/dinner and snacks ($)
  • Free coffee until 11:30am
  • Drink, drink, drink ($)
  • Do yoga! ($)
  • Hang out on beanbag chairs or hammocks in the common rooms
  • Use the kitchenette for guests
  • Take surf lessons ($)
  • Book a tour ($)
  • Small shop available to buy souvenirs ($)
  • Meet super cool people (priceless)

I would like to add an extra note about the yoga. During our stay, I did yoga as many times as I could and loved it. Found the instructor Paul to be very good and professional. Doing yoga on vacation, really helps relax and helps you learn to breathe a little slower. Sometimes you move through life so quickly. It was great to take a break and do something for myself. I highly recommend it.

 

Staff

The staff and owner at the hostel is really what make this place great. Everyone from the kitchen and cleaning staff are marvelous. I found that the staff really wanted to engage in a conversation with you and actually get to know you a little. They have a great laid-back attitude, which is contagious.

Emailing this hostel from home was great too. They were always quick to reply to my email questions. I never felt like I wasn’t being taken care of. It feels really good to feel this way, especially when traveling from another country.

The owner went out of his way to say hi and accommodate us if we had any questions. He runs a tight ship and it shows. The place is clean, well maintained and the reviews on all the social media websites show how much this place is loved.

 

I’m not sure what else to say about this place other than I loved it. If you have any questions about our stay here, please feel free to email me.

 

Have you ever stayed somewhere that you loved so much that you wish you could have written more than a simple review on Trip Advisor?

DIY felt bean bags

IMG_1782

As I mentioned in a earlier post, our toddler has learned a new skill: Throwing. I’m happy that she has learned this new skill, but I want to encourage her to throw the right things vs. the wrong things (like spoons/books/iPhones/etc…).

Here is my very simple and quick tutorial on how to DIY felt bean bags.

You will need:

  • Dry beans (I used Pinto Beans)
  • Ziploc bags
  • Decosonic bag sealer (optional)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Felt
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks

Put beans in Ziploc bag

FullSizeRender

Tape or Decosonic the Ziploc bag to make it small enough to fit in between a felt piece folded over.

FullSizeRender_1

(Optional) Tape the beanbag to the felt.

FullSizeRender_2

Glue gun around the edges of the bean bag and fold the felt over

FullSizeRender_4

Once the glue has been set and cooled, check the edges for any spots where the glue didn’t take.

FullSizeRender_3

Cut around the edges of the felt and enjoy!

FullSizeRender

 We tried the bean bags with her yesterday and for a first try it went well. I put a small bin on the floor and taught her to throw the bags in the bin. She didn’t really throw the bags into the bin, more a pick up and drop in the bin. We have some work to do, but good for a first try.

Ted Talks on Parenting Taboos

I love this Ted Talks on Parenting Taboos. If you have a spare 18 minutes, I strongly encourage you to stop what you’re doing and watch this. Especially for new moms.

Babble.com publishers Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, in a lively tag-team, expose 4 facts that parents never, ever admit — and why they should. Funny and honest, for parents and nonparents alike.

Toddler Throwing

IMG_1767

Since we’ve been back from our trip, we noticed that our 19mo daughter has picked up and mastered a new skill: Throwing. It’s only been a few days since we’ve been back and I’m already over it. Yesterday, my patience was really tested. She would throw anything from a cushion to an iPhone to her spoon to her Mr. Potato’s. It was very frustrating. After she went down to bed, I started googling “How to stop my toddler from throwing things” and found some really good advice.

All of the following information has been taken from the BabyCentre website. I am just providing some highlights from the text below. For more detailed information, please visit their website:

Throwing things is a new and enjoyable skill for many children between 18 months and 3 years of age. It takes fine-motor skills to open the fingers and let go of an object, and considerable hand-eye coordination to actually throw it. No wonder your toddler wants to practice this exciting skill!

What you can do about it:

  • Show her what she can throw

  • Discourage her aggressive throwing

  • Fasten her toys to her seat

  • Clean up together

  • Set a good example

  • Sit with her at mealtime

  • Use toddler-proof dishes

  • Stick to small portions

I have to admit, I’m much more relaxed about this new behavior after reading this article. Here are some activities to encourage good throwing:

  • Rocks in the river
  • Snowballs at a tree
  • Catching and throwing a ball
  • Throwing stuffed animals into a bin
  • Bean bags (DIY) into a basket
  • Socks in a dirty hamper or basket

Instead of fighting it, I’m going to do my best to turn it into a game. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do you have any advice for dealing with throwing with toddlers?

Jaco, Costa Rica

IMG_1706

Recently, we visited Jaco, Costa Rica. We had such a lovely time that I need to share with you a few things I learned while planning our trip, traveling there, our accommodations and problems we met returning home.

Before I start, as you know, this is a family blog. Although, we did not bring our daughter with us, we do plan to take her here when she’s a little older wand show her some of the cool stuff we learned while we stayed in Jaco.

Flights

We had used Google Flights to help us decided when was the best time to travel from YOW to SJO (San Jose). We finally decided to leave on a Wednesday and come back on a Wednesday to get the best price. We paid approx. $690 pp. CDN (tax incl.) through Expedia. In the end, I decided to book through Expedia vs. the United website, was because I have always received great customer service through Expedia vs. United, so I have to admit I trust them a bit more.

Accommodations

After reading many, many, many reviews on Trip Advisor for accommodations, we finally decided on a hostel. This was our first time traveling in a hostel (ever) and wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but based on Trip Advisor’s 5/5, Facebook reviews 5/5 and Booking.com 8.9/10. We had to give it a try. More on my love for Room2Board in a future blog post.

Shuttle to Jaco from SJO

From SJO to Jaco its about 1.5 hours away. Some people take taxi’s, local bus, organized or private shuttles. I found a lot of websites talking about different pluses and minuses of each option. We finally decided on going with the shuttle that was organized by the hostel ($100/ per car USD). I was the most comfortable with this option because this guy who is picking us up will be driving us directly to the hostel, no milk run for us in the middle of the night.

Packing

I was told many times how warm it is in Jaco. Bring your lightest cotton shirts they said. Did I listen, no? Did I end up buying a laundry soap bar and rewashing my lightest clothing a few times… yes. Here are some things that you should bring with you when visiting Jaco:

  • Casual clothing: Nothing too fancy required. Everyone dresses very boho casual there.
  • Flip flops: I heard a rumour that some women who wear high heels are known to be prostitutes in the area. Just saying.
  • Light shorts: Nothing that you can see sweat through, because you may or may not get swass (it’s that hot there).
  • Bathing suits
  • Beach towel
  • Small amounts of toiletries – Do not pack a hair dryer. Trust me you won’t need it.
  • Laundry soap bar.
  • Earplugs.
  • Sunscreen
  • Coconut Oil: This can be good for an eye make up remover, shaving cream, moisturizer, hair treatment and as your aloe.
  • USD cash
  • Cheap sunglasses: In case you lose them in the ocean or zip lining.

IMG_1626

Since we stayed at a hostel, I wish that I would have brought something cool to say thank you to the staff and friends that we met there. Maybe a craft to do a quick DIY friendship bracelet or something like that. I think it would have been very boho of us to do something fun like that.

Things to do before traveling to Jaco

Read up about the area and watch YouTube videos. Get a good sense on where you’re about to visit. I think it helped knowing that they area has some good and bad areas, but really, what destination that you go to doesn’t have that. I just thought it was helpful to know about possible scams that may arise. Just use common sense guys.

Here are somethings that I looked up prior to visiting Jaco:

  • Currency exchange from CR $ to CDN $
  • Average cost for beer and wine
  • Good reviews on a tattoo studio
  • Good reviews on restaurants
  • Ideas of possible excursions that I might be interested in going on

What I wish I would have looked up before is learning some more basic Spanish, such as:

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening
  • Red wine
  • Beer
  • Thank you

I kind of know what these are, but never thought to use any of it. Wish I did.

If I were to plan to go back

I would:

  • Stay at the same hostel
  • Do a few more excursions
  • Eat more ceviche
  • Hang out more with the guests at the hostel and staff there
  • Pack a few really good sets of ear plugs, less clothing, one laundry soap bar and another beach towel and fit it all into a carry-on

Have you been to Jaco? What did you think of the area? Am I missing anything?

How to prepare the grandparents for watching your kid while traveling.

This is now the 4th vacation that my husband and I have gone on away without our daughter. I miss her dearly everytime, but I do find that the recharge really helps moving forward.

While preparing the grandparents for an eventful week with our little one, I generally do my best to create a document to help give them some ideas and important information that they’ll need to know while we’re on vacation. Here is the breakdown that I used:

  • The ideal schedule: If everything was to go smoothly (she woke up around 6am and went to bed at 6:30pm), what would that day look like? It never really ends up this way, but it’s what we strive for.
  • Meal ideas: Lately our daughter has been good about eating what we eat, but I give them some ideas of things to give her that are sure bets. Pogo’s and pizza wins almost everytime.
  • Bedtime Routine: It’s important to try to stick to a regular bedtime routine, expecially with toddlers, it will help her have a good night. If things waiver a bit, it’s okay, but I like to give them an idea on what we do every night (bath, lotion, pjs, bedtime snack, bottle, rocking, which stuffed animals she takes to bed, etc…) so they have an idea of the schedule.
  • Hard No’s: We only have two hard no’s right now. We list them so that we’re all consistant with our approach.
  • Medicine: List any medicine that you normally give, when, what kind and why.
  • Supplies: If they run out of any supplies like diapers, wipes and/or milk, let them know what kind of size you normally buy.
  • If the power goes out: What do they need to know? At our place, they will have to turn back on the baby monitor base and reset the heater in her room for else it will continue to heat up the room until it’s 32*c!!!
  • Ideas of things to do with your kid: Grandparents are the best. They come in with fresh ideas and lots of enthusiam. I just list a few things that I know my daughter likes to do and if there’s a lull in the day, hopefully it will help spring some ideas.
  • iPhone/iPad apps: Our daughter really likes certain iPhone apps. I list them in case they wonder what “crocro” means when she starts yelling at their iPhone.
  • Contact details: List all the numbers they’ll need to get a hold of you, your hotel, your family doctor and telehealth.
  • Remind them to let us know to take lots of pictures and let us know how’s she doing.
  • Remind them to have FUN and spoil her!

Am I missing anything? What other information do you give the grandparents or caretaker while you are away from your kids?