How To: Fly with a Toddler

20140630_112324Up, Up, and Away! 

Jayden has become a pro at flying after just a handful of times in the air – he is like his daddy! 🙂 We took our first flight when he was 2 months old, then again when he was 21 months old (both times to the east coast from California, and both times as a lap infant). His next time on a plane was at 2.5 years old, then again at 3.5 years old, and most recently just a week ago at 4 years old (he had his own seat for these and I have to say, as much as I hate having to pay for the extra seat I love that he has his own space and we are able to spread out a bit!).

Flying was definitely easier when he was an infant rather than a toddler. He slept most of the way and did not require too much work (aside from having to lug so much gear around– to be discussed below). As a toddler they are more wiggly, noisier, and just plain restless – so be ready!

20150521_132614

Tips for flying with a toddler:

Bring LOTS of snacks – anything non-liquid will be easy to take through security; variety is key.

Bring a sippy cup that you can fill past security – as a toddler TSA is more questioning about liquids brought through that isn’t breastmilk, so I go the easy route and just pick something up after security, and most flight attendants are more than happy to give you a juice for your little one as you are boarding.

New toys-does not have to be expensive, I usually raid the dollar section at Target or hit up the local dollar store for some goodies.

New games or movies on your tablet-make sure you download them before the trip since they charge you for WiFi on board. And a pair of kiddie earphones (they keep your fellow passengers from hating you, but I also like the ones made for kids because they have volume control on it so it is never too loud for their little ears).

Blanket and Lovey – you MUST bring something familiar from home. It is a scary enough situation to be in, it would help to have their favorite stuffed animal and a cozy blanket to snuggle with.

Check in what you do not need – Strollers and car seats are free to check in on most major airlines. Do it! We tried doing the free gate check the first time around, but let me tell you, when you are rushing to catch your connecting flight it is a pain in the tush to have all that to lug around, plus keep track of your kid, and the hand-carry luggage. It is best to have on board just the necessities. The car seat on board is a personal choice. We prefer to let him stretch out rather than be confined in a car seat – he is not the biggest fan of the car seat on long car trips as it is so we would rather save the headache and make it so he has more space to play and move around instead.

Bring lots of wipes – to wipe the child, yes, but also to wipe down your surroundings (armrests, trays, etc).

Extra outfit – for all members of the family because you just do not know what will happen. As an example, on one of our flights my husband ended up getting poop on his shirt from our very wiggly child being changed on the plane changing table. Funny for me, not so much for him! But I definitely did not want to have to smell him the rest of the trip! 🙂

Baggies in several sizes – these are another must! Perfect for throwing toys into, wet/dirty clothes into, extra snacks into, etc. The list just goes on…

Travelling is a time for fun, a time to play, and a time to break the rules. 🙂 We try to keep as much structure as possible (easier said than done!) but don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong or not quite how you planned. Be flexible in your plans, and expect things to go wrong – that way you are not surprised by it, are prepared for it, and it might actually end up a fun bonus when it all happens to work out nicely in the end.

Here are some items I like for travelling:

These are fantastic because they don’t stain on anything.
Always have a bag for your checked in stroller or car seat – they will end up filthy if you dont.
Still need to convince hubby about this one since it is pricey, but I love that it becomes a little ride for the kiddos and makes travelling more fun. The Kindle for kids has been wonderful!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links *

Advertisements

How to: Discuss Death with a Toddler

We have had a couple deaths in the family in the last year or so, unfortunately. When Jayden was younger it didn’t seem to be such a big deal since he was not asking so many questions. Now at 4 years old, he is full of questions and is very curious. It is also a difficult concept to process so there is a need to keep repeating ourselves as he asks the same questions over and over, in an attempt to understand it.

We have a funeral this week and there has been a lot of discussion leading up to it. My big thing is to keep it very kid-friendly and light. Hubby and I told him that Auntie was very sick (and he has known this for a while now since Grandma was travelling back and forth taking care of her and to visit her lately), and that she is not going to be around anymore, and that she is going to heaven. We explained that at the funeral we are going there to say goodbye, and that some people are going to be sad but that it was OK, that just meant they were going to miss her.

Another thing we have had to work on with him is realizing that this isn’t some vacation we are going on. He needs to know everyone is not there to play with him, and that he needs to keep things more mellow and use an inside-voice. We do realize however that he is a 4 year old, and that there are going to be some loud moments and defiance and we are just going to have to roll with it all and make the best of the situation – this will definitely be a time when electronics (with earphones) and bribery will come in handy 🙂

We love you Aunt D and we will miss you! 

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 4)

20151214_183545

We have finally made it to Christmas!

We celebrate with my husband’s side on Christmas Eve and with my side of the family on Christmas Day. Lots of food, lots of love, lots of presents.

Jayden was so excited to spend the time with his cousins and play with his new toys.

I did not take many pictures because I really tried to remain in the moment and just enjoy being in the company of those I love.

One thing that we did again this year was the Elf on the Shelf. We started this tradition last year, but Jayden did not quite get it yet (so it was easy!). This year I got excited and did a little Pinterest research for some good ideas.

First of all, I made him so much easier to pose by adding a little wire to his arms and legs. I did not have to worry as much about him falling over and have to god-forbit touch him infront of the kid.

Here are some of my favorites, and I think they were Jayden’s favorites too!

Snapchat--3255930741051441084

20151226_145409

Jingles arrived with style – and with a present! Here is the finished product 🙂

20151218_072620

20151218_072634

 

Jingles was ready for some California snow!

 

20151219_103012

20151219_102955

Jingles wanted us to get into the spirit!

20151224_083355


A little candy cane hunt with Jingles!

20151223_215131


Jingles was almost ready to fly home with Santa!

Cant wait to see what Jingles will be up to next year!

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 2)

20151212_181404

After his birthday came Hannukah. We are a blended family so I do feel like we have a lot more celebrations throughout the year.

We do light our Menorah (electric version at home, candles at Grandma and Papa’s), and do gifts but not all 8 days. We have family and friends that celebrate as well so we kind of spread things out. We probably give on average 4-5 nights and then grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and friends round out the remaining 3-4 nights. We don’t typically do too many large presents but if we do we try to make it as even to what he is getting for Chrstimas or what we are anticipating from Santa. We would just prefer that he enjoy both holidays equally and not pick a side just based on what presents he gets.

20151212_124355

Hannukah also typically means a family gathering or two, brisket, latkes, and dreidels. This year, Jayden was old enough to help cook the dinner and enjoyed being chef for the evening. He made brisket and Hannukah cookies with Grandma and Mommy. He even brought the plate of cookies around to serve to the family 🙂

We also had Jayden help in the lighting of the candles, and he was also learning Hannukah songs at school along with the Christmas ones, so we wanted him to be a part of the traditions as much as we could. He definitely enjoys the Gelt 🙂

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 1)

Hello, 2016!!

Been a bit M.I.A. trying to be present during the holidays rather than behind the computer or phone screen -but now I am back!

December is a rough month for us, but also one of my favorites! We have Jayden’s birthday/birthday party, Hannukah, and Christmas all squished into a very short 3 weeks. Not to mention a TON of gifts for the little man – I have no idea where I am to put everything! (Don’t get me wrong, totally appreciative of everyone that gave him something, I just have to better about purging/organizing/donating BEFORE December so it doesn’t look as much like a tornado of a toy store came barreling through our little house)

It started with Jayden’s 4th birthday party. I originally wanted to take him to Disneyland and keep it small and simple. Well, at almost 4, he definitely had a mind of his own and his own ideas of what was going to make his birthday fun. He had been talking about his birthday party since before summer camp began. He wanted a Cars party. The fact that a 3.5 year old was able to stick to his guns and still want a Cars party come October/November just meant that Mickey and the Magic Kingdom would have to wait for another time. Cars party it is.

cars

Picture via Google

We scoped out a few local places, but could not decide right away. One thing we were in agreement of was the date. Being that his actual birthday is right before Christmas it ends up being in competition with a lot of other parties and activities and not a lot of his little friends end up making it. We went with the first weekend of December and let’s just say the guest list was a tad larger than I anticipated. But he was so excited and had a blast!

I am a big believer of having birthday parties away from the home. While this may cost more money, it definitely is less stress. There are people to help you set up and clean up and keep the party running.

On the negative side, things don’t always go your way. Such as for our party – we were promised the larger party room when booking and the numerous visits to scope things out. Come party day, we were crammed into the smaller party room since the other group was larger and needed the larger room. That makes sense, yes, but we had already booked it. That should have meant something but instead it felt like we were just brushed aside. This was a major bummer for me since this is a venue my son loves to play at, and now it is somewhat tainted in my mind.

Regarless of the craziness that any party comes with, I tried to cut corners by DIY-ing a lot of the items. I made the invitations, some of the larger centerpieces, and the gift bags from ideas I found on Pinterest. Then I bought in bulk the items for the goody bag. There were more generic items in the bag rather than ones specific to the character, but let us be honest, at 4 they just like that there is a new toy to play with.

We also planned it around major meal times 🙂 It was a 1:30 party, so while we did feed the kids the adults just got some things to snack on.

Next year, I think we will tone it down and just have a select few friends of his picking and his cousins attend. Choose something more low key and just concentrate on celebrating Jayden. Sometimes these parties get so big the day kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

 

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 3)

Next up is his actual birthday!

20151220_080836

Definitely not as big, but just as busy. We started the day with his donut tradition  with daddy. He gets to go to the donut shop, just the boys, and pick out his donut. Last year it was larger than his head and was more of a cake, this year it was a bit more manageable. We always sing happy birthday and blow out the candle.

20151220_102834

Once we were up and ready we then headed over to his best friend’s house since it is her birthday on the same day! He celebrated right along with her, and her parents were so sweet they even made him cupcakes and had everyone sing to him as well!

20151220_143629

After we finished there, we headed out with Grandma and Papa to the Discovery Cube in LA because we heard they were doing a whole Curious George theme and Jayden is obsessed with George! While he did have fun in that section (a little small considering how much they hyped it up), I have to say he seemed to enjoy himself the most in the LA Kings section. He got to be goalie, tried to score during a shoot out, climbed up on a zamboni, and got to see the jerseys and other gear up close. As much as he is still a little guy, he is all BOY. He LOVES sports! 🙂

Once we finished up there, with a couple new items to go home with, we met up with some extended family for a small family dinner at his favorite, Japanese Tepan. This boy loves his tofu and to see the chef make a choo-choo!

We had a tired but very happy 4 year old! 🙂

How To: Make a Fall Wreath on a Budget

I just love Pinterest! I find the best ideas – some successful, some utter failures 🙂

20151110_225539[1]

This time, a success! I made a Ribbon Wreath. I debated for a while on whether or not to make it Halloween specific or just go with Fall. Fall won seeing as that it can be used for a longer amount of time.

I went to Joanne’s and found the white foam ring (full price, but I had a 40% off coupon good only for regular priced items so that worked out perfectly). Then I chose 10 different fall colored ribbons in a variety of shades, designs, and sizes. These were all on sale for 60% off, and the large burlap one was on clearance for $1.99.

20151110_214544[1]

I cut the ribbons into approximately 10-12 inch strips and just knotted them all around the ring, scattering the like ribbons to make it look random.

All in all, it took about an hour and cost about $18-$20 – I finished it off by trimming the ends into the cute ribbon points we were taught to make by our moms growing up haha and took some time messing with it until it resembled a full, semi-fluffy wreath. My one concern was making sure the white of the ring did not show. In hindsight, I probably would have saved myself some trouble if I just wrapped the ring in ribbon to begin with and that way if any part was showing it would look intentional or people would not notice at all since it would then blend in.

I chose to hang it by using an extra piece of the burlap ribbon and a Command Hook since the wreath hook that I have is silver and glittery and just does not go. I like the more natural look of the burlap – but to each their own 🙂

 

Halloween Fun

Halloween is a fun time to get dressed up and be a big kid for a night!

20151031_205710

AND enjoy lots and lots of candy! 🙂

Hubby and I were “Partners in Crime” stealing loot for Jayden’s college fund haha and Jayden was a Police Officer – S.W.A.T. team technically.

Snapchat-5864783858456423564

For me it is a lot more stressful leading up to it since I am in charge of our company party for clients, staff, and their families. Halloween typically starts much earlier for me – ordering, scheduling, purchasing. I usually make quite a mess in our office just trying to stock all the things needed for a good 80+ people. Luckily they don’t all come at one time, so we are able to take it somewhat easy on the day of. After the decorating is done, we are able to take a breath and take a look around and enjoy all the smiles of everyone around you enjoying themselves. Then the chaos begins again when it is time to clean up and pack up. Even if it is a ton of work, I still enjoy it and have lots of fun.

Halloween day itself I am able to relax since my mother-in-law typically takes charge of it. We do dinner at her house and then head out for trick-or-treating. This year we decided to try heading to a good section of houses in Agoura Hills that blocks off the streets and just has house after house looking fabulous and handing out yummy goodies. Last year we caught wind of it later in the evening and just got to see a small section of it. This year we started there so I was shocked just how large this all really is. And, O.M.G.! The people! So many people! It was overwhelming at times for me, and it eventually got the best of our little man 😦 Once we got him calmed down we headed over to Grandma’s neighborhood to do a little more mellow trick-or-treating. I wanted to make sure we ended on a good note, and luckily we did. The adults even got a nice jello shot treat at one of the houses! 🙂

halloween

To get into the spirit, I created little goodie bags for each couple, and one for Jayden too.

20151110_202354

I started with these cute chalkboard take-out boxes I found at Joanne’s on clearance (score!). Got some plastic spiders and Hershey Kisses from Target and a spool of orange ribbon from the Dollar Tree. I printed out the tags from a pin I found on Pinterest – I LOVE when they have free printables! 🙂

They were a big hit and so stinkin’ cute- even if I do say so myself!

How To: Make Monkey Bread Muffins

20151026_205442

I had been seeing more and more pictures of monkey bread on my Facebook feed…. it made me want to make some of my own. The problem with monkey bread, in my opinion, is that it is a difficult treat for just 3 people because it is usually made in a Bundt pan and it always seems like too much and we end up throwing some of it away.

I decided to experiment one night making muffin sized treats that would make it easier to grab one and go for breakfast or a quick snack in the afternoon.

I started with a mini muffin tin and muffin liners (I just used what was laying around the kitchen – so mine were spring colors with flowers and stripes). Spray the pan down with some cooking spray to make it easier to remove later – I forgot this step and it was not pretty popping out 😦 Good thing this was just for the family and nobody was really going to see them. My boys didn’t seem to mind that they were a tad messy looking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I used three small tubes of Pillsbury biscuits cut up into quarters, a stick of butter melted, a cup and a half to two cups of brown sugar (a cup or so for rolling and about half a cup for melting), and lots and lots of ground cinnamon – just eyeball what works for your taste.

Get started rolling your biscuit pieces in the dry mix (sugar and cinnamon) while you are melting the butter and dissolving the rest of the sugar in it.

20151026_201128

Once you have all the pieces covered in the dry sugar/cinnamon mix go ahead and fill your muffin tins, but without packing them in too tight. After that, pour over the melted syrup mixture – be careful, it’s hot!

20151026_201405

Stick the pan in the oven for 13-17 minutes. Depending on your oven, the timing will vary. Mine were ready at about 12-13 minutes, so keep an eye on it! A couple of the muffins in the back were getting pretty brown. Luckily I have a hubby that likes things on more of the well done side 🙂

Let it cool to the touch and enjoy! Mine were not as gooey as I had anticipated, but then again I used paper liners so I think it soaked up some of the yummy goodness. Next time I will try foil liners or no liners at all and see how it goes. Even without as much gooey syrup, I still got the sweet effect I was going for so they were gobbled up by my family. Hubby barely waited for them to cool off before attacking the pan! 🙂

Next time, I think I will try this with a little frosting drizzled on top – I see them do that at different bakeries, and I think it would just put it over the edge!

How to: Potty Train

Fisher Price Froggy Potty Seat (purchase at Amazon.com)

Potty training is not a fun experience. It is a messy one!

You need to go into this fully knowing what you are getting yourself into – lots of wet clothes, floors, etc. Have lots of sanitizing materials handy and lots of extra towels. And plan to stay home for it (I say at least over the weekend).

I was lucky that I had experience as a Behavioral Therapist for many years and had gone through it with other kiddos before the time came for my own little man. Those “practice runs” came in handy when my husband and I got started.

List of items needed (besides the towels and disinfectant for clean-up) :

  • Toilet seat (free standing or toilet seat insert – you decide!)
  • Step stool
  • Undies (tons – I probably started with a good 20 of them)
  • Wipes
  • Books/small games/toys
  • Reward (keep it small)

Thomas the Tank Undies (purchase at Amazon.com)

We started by deciding what weekend we were free to stay home and agreed to get started. I took Jayden shopping for the undies so he was able to choose the ones he liked. I got some fun character ones and some plain white and striped ones too.

Next up, we discussed what was going to be the reward. For staying dry, we chose stickers (you can get a lot of these at the dollar store) and for going in the potty, we chose M&Ms since Jayden loved them and we felt it would be motivating. The most important part of choosing the reward is that it is something that will entice the kiddo. If it isn’t motivating, it just wont happen. Remember, you are trying to reinforce the good behavior (going in the potty) so reward them right away with praise, “Great job staying dry!”, “Look, you went pee pee in the potty! Way to go!”. Also, you want to reward them right away with the tangible item. You want them to make the connection that if they do good, they get good things in return. If you wait too long you loose that connection, especially in the younger kiddos.

Next we set up the bathroom so that things were within reach. We put the M&Ms in a clear jar on the counter so he could see them. Stickers ended up on the counter as well, just out of reach. We put some books and toys in a little storage cube in the corner so we can grab things to keep him entertained while sitting there.

We started off with a potty seat insert and a stool. I recommend the stool because it helps the kiddo reach to get on and also gives them something to put their feet on so they are not just dangling. It didn’t work too well for us since Jayden is on the smaller side and he got scared being on the toilet. He just could not reach the stool and so I think he just felt like he was hanging on. Once we got the free standing potty, he was much more comfortable. The stool still came in handy because then it helped him get up to the sink for washing hands and brushing teeth. The first few days it seemed he was getting the pooping in the potty part pretty quickly, but was still having wet accidents as he just wasn’t able to control it yet. It went from ” I need to go potty” to “oops, I went peepee on the floor” in about 2 seconds. There wasn’t enough time to get him to the potty. This got better as he learned to hold it and make his way to the potty. Heads-up if you have a boy – be prepared to teach him to lean forward when peeing sitting down. If not, be ready to get squirted! 🙂

Jayden took to going peepee and poopoo in the potty pretty easily. Some things that we did that I feel helped were:

  • Choosing to start when the weather was nice – this way we were able to let him hang out in just his undies and made the process that much easier.
  • We allowed him to hang out in his birthday suit – he was a lot more aware of what was going on when he did not have something to catch his accidents.
  • As he got better and better at going in the potty, we started a potty chart – this way he got to earn a bigger prize if he earned a certain number of successes. We let him choose if he wanted to go for ice cream/Slurpee, a new Matchbox/Hot Wheels car, etc. before we started a fresh chart and he was very excited to work for the bigger prize. He wasn’t punished for having an accident, he just had to earn the right amount.
  • We took it one step at a time – we started with only potty training during the day, and saved night time potty training for when we accomplished the day time training. This worked in our favor because Jayden was so proud of himself and what he had accomplished that he was the one that told us he did not want diapers anymore and wanted to only have undies even when he went to bed. We have had only 2 or 3 night time accidents since he decided to get rid of all diapers.
  • We had open discussions with his school teachers about his routine – keeping the communication lines open was a must. They have Jayden for 8-9 hours most days and I feel school was a big help because his teachers worked right along with us when he was under their care. They gave him rewards (we put a baggie of goodies in his backpack for them), and he got lots of praise. We were given reports on how he was doing and given feedback on what was working or was not working. Remember, they have been doing this probably longer than you have and for more children – listen. You may not always agree, but you might learn a thing or two that you did not otherwise already think of.

Everyone has their own method that works… this is what worked for our family. If anything, maybe you got a few new ideas to help make your process a bit easier.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links*