Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Christmas Eve Tradition: Rosettes

Growing up, many of my classmates had a Christmas tradition of assembling a gingerbread house.  The parents would add the icing, while the kids placed the candies along rooftops and windowsills.  They never turned out perfect like in magazines, but would be proudly displayed on the dining room table the week leading up to Christmas.

Honestly, I never understood the appeal.  So, last year Chris and I purchased one to see if I was really missing out on a magical memory.

It turned out cute, and we 'proudly' displayed it on the table during Christmas dinner, but it wasn't nearly as magical as I thought it would be.  Maybe if you make the gingerbread yourself, and the house smells like warm spices while you're assembling, then it's a completely different experience.

My family's version of assembling the gingerbread house, was the night each year we'd make rosettes.  Sometimes we'd make them earlier in December for an event or party, but usually they were made on Christmas Eve - so they'd be fresh for Santa.

photo from

The evening would start with the great hunt for the rosette irons.  Since they're only used once a year, they're usually pushed back into the far reaches of the lowest cabinet, or the highest shelf of the pantry. My mom has a selection of irons that has grown over the years - stars, trees, snowflakes, traditional rosette flower shapes, and even an elephant and clown which I'm pretty sure we've never actually used.

photo from

Once the irons have been located, then we made the batter (recipe below) and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours until all the bubbles have risen to the top and popped.  This makes the rosettes crispier and is worth it - a soggy rosette is gross.  I've gone so far as to make the batter the night before.

The downside of rosettes is that you use a LOT of oil.  These are deep fried 'cookies' and you'll need 2-3 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan.  You'll also want to use a candy thermometer to make sure that you don't overheat your oil and ruin the whole batch.  You'll also need a lot of paper towels and plenty of counter space for the cookies to drain on.  Once they're dry and cooled, you can sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar, or if you're taking them to an event, wait until right before serving them to add the sugar.  

Since we'll be making these on Christmas eve as Santa's cookies, I'll make the batter in the morning, frying the cookies in the afternoon before the candlelight church service, and then put the leftovers in cookie tins for Chris to bring to work.  (The cookies are very fragile, so hard sided containers are better for storage instead of air tight ziplock bags.)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. white sugar 
  • 1 tsp. favorite flavored extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Canola oil for frying

  • Firmly whisk together the eggs, sugar, extract (if using), and milk. 
  • Sift together the flour and salt. 
  • Whisk into the liquid until the batter is the texture of heavy cream. 
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours. 
  • Heat 2" to 3" of canola oil in a deep fryer or in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat to between 360º and 365º. 
  • Once the oil has reached heat, submerge the rosette iron into the oil to quickly heat it. 
  • Pour your batter into a shallow square pan or container. 
  • Carefully dip the heated rosette iron into the batter so that the batter covers the bottoms and sides or the iron but does not cover the tops. 
  • Dip the batter-covered rosette iron into the pot, completely submerging it in the oil. 
  • Allow the rosettes to fry until golden brown, using a knife edge to scrape off any excess batter formed at the top. 
  • While browning, your rosettes may voluntarily fall off of the iron into the oil. If so, simply fry them on each side for a few seconds until brown, then remove from pan with tongs or a chopstick. 
  • If your rosettes have stuck to the iron while browning, use the knife to gently pry them away from the iron on to paper towels. Invert and cool. 
  • After the cookies have cooled, you can either store them in an airtight container or freeze them for later use. 
  • Immediately before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. 
  • Yields  3-4 dozen Scandinavian rosette cookies
Making rosettes with toddlers:
The batter is very straight forward, and toddlers make great whiskers, so if you'd like to make these with your toddlers and young children, this would be the best step to involve them in.  During the actual frying of the rosettes, toddlers should not be in the kitchen.  (I'm making mine during nap time).  The cookies on the counter are tempting but very hot, and deep frying and toddlers is a horrible combination.  Sprinkling the finished cookies with powdered sugar is a fun job for children, and if they're gentle enough, counting out a dozen and carefully placing them in the cookie tins is the perfect job for mommy's helper.

I'll update this post with pictures of my finished rosettes later tonight.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sticky Situations Contest - Win an iPad mini!

As the mom to a toddler, I know how quickly life can go from clean, tidy and completely under control to a chaotic hot mess.  It's usually about the same length of time it takes me to use the bathroom with the door closed or clean out the dishwasher with my back turned.  Every mom has her own way of handling the sticky situations that come with parenting children.  Mine is the rule of 15:  If it takes less than 15 minutes to clean or costs less than $15 to fix, then it's not worth getting stressed out about and we just turn it into a learning opportunity for Hannah.  This rule helps us keep things in perspective.

WetOnes is giving us the opportunity to share  the Sticky Situations we have found ourselves in and tips on how to deal with them through their Facebook Contest!
Simply log on and share your story and tips, and you can be entered to win an iPad Mini or Six Flags Tickets


I just entered, it doesn’t take long at all, here’s the link to enter:

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Wet Ones. 
I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nativity Sets for Toddlers

For as long as I could remember, my favorite part of preparing for Christmas wasn't putting up the tree, but setting up my mother's elaborate nativity set.  Each year we would try to find a new figurine to add to it, and now as I unbox them I can recall the stores we purchased them it, the look on my mom's face as she unwrapped it, and the placement it's been given over time within the set.  Now that I host Christmas for the family, my mother has passed down the set to me, and it's my most treasured decoration of the season.

Because Hannah is at an age where every decoration is up for grabs, I'm only unpacking a small portion of the nativity set, but this is an example picture of the style of my Fontanini set.

Hannah was very interested in the figurines, and I used it as an opportunity to again explain the meaning behind Christmas.  While the figurines aren't easily breakable, I have been discouraging Hannah from playing with them. 

It's a little too late to get Hannah her own nativity set for this Christmas, but I'd like to get her one next year when she's three.  Her brother will be about 9 months old so it needs to be baby and toddler friendly.  Here are a few I've found so far:

At about $25, this set is reasonably priced.  We own a few Little People sets and they are perfect for babies and toddlers alike - they're not breakable, light weight, and fit easily in tiny hands.  This set is also high in cute factor, and plays Away in a Manger if you add 3 AAA batteries to the stable.

This price runs under $30, but I'm not familiar with the brand or the quality of their products.  I do like that there is a stable, multiple animals and angels included.  I also like that the figurines are more realistic than the Little People set.

With a list price of $45, this set is probably not going to be the one I select.  I like that the figurines are posable with movable arms, but I wish it included the three wise men.

Coming in at under $30, this set is at a good price point, and everyone knows I love my Melissa & Doug toys.  The wooden blocks are durable, I'm just not sure they're as enticing as the other sets.  I WANT Hannah to play with her nativity set.  I want it to be a toy that inspires conversations and storytelling.  While my set is meant to be enjoyed visually, I want Hannah to be excited to play with hers.

Although it's a little 'babyish', I have to admit that I'm leaning towards the Little People set.  I trust the quality, I like all the animals included, and I know Hannah will respond positively to it.  

That said, I have a year to make up my mind and I'd love some reader feedback.  Do you own any of these sets - or perhaps a different one I didn't find during my search?  Reviews, both positive and negative, are welcome.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Orange Zested Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

I'll be 27 weeks pregnant in a few days, and so far the only cravings I've had are for clementine oranges and green apples.  I blame the clementines craving partly on Hannah.  She brings me 4 of them, "two for mommy and two for Hannie!", bribing me for that I'll peel them for her.
It works every. single. time.

So the other night, when I was on Pinterest and saw a recipe for Orange Zested Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze, I was a goner. I had all the ingredients on hand, so it was just a matter of time.

Shopping List:
- all purpose flour
- baking powder
- salt
- 2 sticks of butter
- granulated sugar
- confectioners’ sugar
- 3 oranges for zest and juice
- 1 egg

I followed the recipe from Stephanie's Kitchen to a tee, and these cookies turned out beautifully. The recipe started out like most cookie recipes: The dry ingredients were sifted together in a medium bowl, and the room temperature butter was put in the mixer to cream. But then the recipe took a fabulous twist. The orange zest was added to the granulated sugar, and I mixed them with my fingertips.

The essential oils in the zest turn regular white sugar into this light, fluffy, orange tinted sugar that smells amazing.

Once you add it to the butter to cream, you add some orange juice and an egg and finish creaming together. I scrapped down the side of the mixing bowl and then slowly added the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) with the mixer on low until a sugar cookie consistency dough is formed. The dough is dotted with the orange zest and is slightly drier than a chocolate chip cookie dough.

The oven was preheated to 350*, and my cookie sheets were lined with parchment paper. You're only going to cook these until the bottom is slightly golden, so the parchment paper helps to get these cookies off the sheet quickly and prevents browning.

I use a small ice cream scoop so that the cookies are a consistent size.

Since the dough was a drier style, I figured they wouldn't spread out very far. I used a flat bottomed glass bowl dipped in a small bowl of granulated sugar to flatten each ball to a consistent diameter. After baking I noted that the cookies didn't flatten much more, so smush to your desired size. The sugar just keeps the glass bowl from sticking to the dough.

Each batch was baked for 10 minutes and the bottom was perfectly golden, but it might take up to 12 minutes depending on your oven. Don't overbake or they will be too dry.

Once the cookies were baked and cooled on racks, I mixed up the glaze. I added the remaining orange zest to some powdered confectioner's sugar and thinned with orange juice until runny, but not watery. I tried to spoon the glaze over the cookies, but I found that I got better coverage if I just dipped each cookie's top into the bowl of glaze and tapped off any extra.

Make sure you put the used parchment paper under the cooling racks to catch all the dripping glaze and make clean up easier.

I let the glaze set up for an hour while Hannah napped, and the recipe made about 3 dozen cookies.  I reserved 6 for Hannah and I to eat as a snack (Chris HATES citrus desserts) and boxed up the rest to bring to my husband's coworkers. They lasted 15 minutes, and got rave reviews. Not only are these cookies delicious with a bright citrus flavor, but they look beautiful with the zested glaze.  This recipe has made the cut and been added to my recipe book.

For the complete recipe, click here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swinging into Fall

Hannah's big birthday and Christmas present from her grandparents this year was a swing set - a fabulous Craigslist find that will last for years.  Whenever we get a break in the weather Hannah begs to swing or slide on it.  Unfortunately, the weather has been pretty 'soggy' lately - according to Hannah - and so she's gone quite a few days without playing on it.

But she woke up from nap time today, and the sun was shining!

First things first, she loves to hang on this bar as long as she can.  
(click to enlarge - the face she makes in the last picture makes me snicker.)

And then she has to take the slide for a test drive.
(click to enlarge - again, the last picture is the funniest.)

But she spends most of her time gliding on her 'rocket ship'

and swinging on her belly.

Sometimes I look at a picture of Hannah, and I can get a 
glimpse of what she'll look like as a teenager.  
This is one of those pictures.  My little girl is growing up so fast.

And when she was all done, we had some hot cocoa to warm up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn Activities for Rainy Days

Here in the Pacific Northwest, Autumn means changing leaves, apple cider, and RAIN.
Lots and Lots of Rain.

Hannah is an active kid, and just a few days into the rainy season she was about to climb the walls.
This mom needed to figure out some activities to help pass the time - and fast.

Here is a video where I detail 3 cheap and quick activities that are fall themed.  Best of all, you can edit them to fit your child's developmental age.

The first activity is a painting project.  Hannah and I discussed the changing (and falling) leaves in our backyard, and the various colors we saw.  I used finger paint, and each color had a dedicated plate and champagne cork.  You could also use wooden stamps, cut up sponges, or fingerprints for older kids.  I painted the tree trunk and let it dry for a few minutes before we started.

Here's Hannah adding the orange layer:

And showing off the red stamp.

She was so proud of herself when she was all done!

We're going to frame it and add it to our Autumn decor.

This next project was done with die cut foam leaves, and a sharpie.  You could substitute cardstock or poster board and cut whatever seasonally appropriate shape you like.

If your child does well with small objects, and there aren't younger children in the home, you could add another layer to this activity by having the child add and count beads.

This is how I stored the activity on our shelves:

tip: Goodwill is a great place to find these wooden trays.  They're usually from Melissa & Doug toys, but I always see them for less than $2 in various sizes and configurations.  They're great to have in your supply closet. 

The third activity is detailed in the video:

I've added this blog post to my Pinterest account. 
Check it, and my other pins, out!

What is your child's favorite rainy day activity?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costume

I always laugh when someone suggests that I let my toddler decide their birthday theme/their Halloween costume/what to eat for lunch.  Either they've never met a toddler, or my toddler is the most indecisive one on the planet.  The girl changes her mind fifteen times and then crumples in a mess of uncertainty when posed with such life altering decisions.

For Halloween this year I suggested that she either go as Foofa or a Pirate.  

Her current mantra is 'I LOVE Captain Hook' after catching an episode of 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates' while I was in the shower.  Now if she picks up all her toys then she can watch an episode before naptime.  Not so surprisingly, she loved both suggestions and couldn't pick between the two.  

Since it's Oregon, and 9 times out of 10 will be drizzly on Halloween, I went with Foofa made from a sweatshirt and long pants.  Cute & Warm was the goal, and I think I succeeded.  If you ask Chris, the goal was not to spend $40 on something she'd wear for 20 minutes and pose for a few pictures in.  This homemade version came in at right about $12 (plus some mommy craftiness time).

I have the pattern for the eyes and flower, as well as a discussion on how to make the 'neck petals' (seriously, what would you call those things?!), but my computer is having a hard time creating a PDF, and Hannah is having a hard time watching me sit on the computer, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the quick stroll around the neighborhood:

And for those that have NO idea who Foofa is, she's a character from Yo Gabba Gabba, a kid's show on Nickelodeon.   A picture of the pink wonder and the rest of the Gabba Gang can be found here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gymboree Sale Haul - October 2012

Haul from Gymboree - October 2012 - for Baby Bubblelush

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 17 Ultrasound

I had a quick ultrasound done at my most recent midwife appointment.  
Here's a look at BabyLush #2!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Top 10 First Trimester Must Haves

After my second go around through the first trimester, I've established my list of 10 items I need to get through the first trimester.  I've included obvious choices like Prenatal vitamins and Tums, as well as practical items like a calendar to keep track of doctor and ultrasound appointments and a scale to monitor weight gain.  
But I also threw in some of my personal discoveries, like an extra pillow and blanket to get through long work days, and freezer meals made before week 6 to use on nights when 'morning' sickness extends through dinner time and raw meat is the last thing you want to see.  And thus I present to you my list of the Top 10 Must Haves for the First Trimester:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

11w6d Ultrasound

We went in for a screening ultrasound on August 24th at 11 weeks and 6 days along.  I rounded up to reflect 12 week developmental milestones for this collage since it was only 1 day shy.  The results of the ultrasound combined with a blood test, puts our risk for down syndrome and trisomy 18 at 1 in 10,000 births.  The baby appears to be growing healthy and strong and we're all looking forward to the second trimester.

10w6d Ultrasound

We went in for a dating ultrasound on August 17th and found out that we were 10 weeks and 6 days along.  I rounded up to reflect 11 week developmental milestones for this collage since it was only 1 day shy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Party Planning: Selecting a Theme

A party theme can be inspired by anything - a color scheme, a decade, a food, a Disney character, an ugly Christmas sweater, a country, you name it - a party has been planned around it.

While the purpose and person of honor should be at the forefront when deciding a theme, you should also take into account the time of year, party location, and guest list - their ages, dietary restrictions, and the sheer number of invitees.

Now to narrow it down.

To License or Not:
An easy way to weed out theme options, especially for kid's parties, is to decide if you want to select a popular character and use the licensed party supplies that go with it.  For example - If you went with a Dora the Explorer theme, you could then just buy the Dora licensed plates, napkins, party favors, wrapping paper, balloons, invites, thank you cards, etc etc etc.  While it might look like Dora threw up all over your party, a die hard Dora fan would probably love it, and while you would lose originality point from the pinterest crowd and it might cost a little more, it would save a lot of time and energy.

The alternative?
Select the person of honor's favorite character and use them for inspiration.  Maybe splurge on a few Dora themed party supplies, but draw the color scheme from the show - Pink, Orange and Purple? - Transform plain purple gift bags into backpacks full of treasures.  Put a Swiper No Swiping! sign above the birthday gifts.  Set up a multipart treasure hunt for the main activity.  Decorate with stars and send invites that look like rolled up maps.  Use your imagination or scour pinterest and google image searches for ideas to swipe.

Is it Limiting?
I tend to start my party planning by selecting a color scheme or design.  Hannah's 1st birthday was inspired by a multicolored polka dot dress I found at Nordstrom Rack, and our Christmas party was a mixture of blues and silver with lots of shimmer and snowflakes for a winter wonderland feel instead of the traditional green, red, and Santa.    Polka dots and snowflakes are easy to decorate a party with.  Banners, serving ware, invites, and wrapping paper can all be incorperated easily into those themes.  But for Hannah's 2nd birthday party I considered doing chevron themed decor in a certain color scheme:

The problem?  
I just couldn't seem to make it work easily.  I couldn't find scrapbook paper with a nice chevron, so I couldn't do a banner or bunting.  And while I COULD find lots of digital scrapbook paper for download, I didn't want to rack up a huge bill at the print shop.  I could find chevron gift bags, but giftbags weren't a huge part of the party - although I did make them for the kids.  I couldn't find serving platters or even paper plates with chevrons on them, and I couldn't find a premade dress or even fabric in a chevron design to make an outfit for H.  Hense, it just wasn't working.

While a color scheme or pattern might look great in your mind, if you can't find the supplies to make it work, then you should probably rework your concept.  Unless you want to stay up all night piecing together strips of paper to create a chevron banner.  I admit, I considered it.  But sleep sounded better.

For more inspiration, check out these great websites:

A huge list of party themes - birthdays and beyond - plus lots of real party recaps with pictures.

Unique ideas, beautiful pictures, and daily updates.

Hostess with the Mostess.  Really, doesn't the title say it all?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Traveling & Baby Gear: What Do You Really Need?

Yesterday we talked about flying with small children
 But what about all the Baby Gear that you’ll need?
Any expecting parent can tell you that the shear amount of STUFF ‘required’ to raise a child is insane. It’s bad enough trying to figure out how all this new gear will fit in your home, but when you consider that you will still need the majority of these items while on vacation, the shrinking weight requirements of checked luggage can make the idea of traveling with a baby seem nearly impossible. Have no fear. SOME airlines get it (they must be parents themselves) and will work with your on some of the big items like a Pack n Play, Stroller, and Car Seat. But do you even need any of these items?

Portable Crib
Is co-sleeping an option for the duration of the vacation? If you answered yes, will you also feel comfortable having them nap on the adult bed? Do you know anyone near your destination that has a pack n play you can borrow? Most new parents have one, and in our case, we were able to borrow it for the duration of our trip and could leave ours at home. (THANK YOU DAVE & KELLY!) Remember to bring your own sheets, just in case, and pack any bedding that your child MUST have to fall asleep – a favorite blanket or stuffed animal (or even a nightlight!) can make bedtime in a new room easier for little ones to handle.

The same gut check goes for the stroller. Are you going to do touristy stuff? Walking, touring the city, using public transportation, visiting amusement parks or zoos, waiting for nearly an hour outside the car rental office while they straighten out your online reservation that went haywire with a hungry toddler and a pile of 7 bags? (Not that that seems to happen EVERY time we travel…) Think of your plans for the vacation and decide if you need the stroller.
If you DO decide to bring it (I usually do) make sure the car picking you up at the airport, or your rental car, will be able to accommodate the stroller along with all of the luggage. (SUV rentals are your friend.)
Hannah patiently sat in the stroller while we waited at the gate (Total lie. She actually ran on the moving sidewalk), and then right before boarding the plane we simply gate checked the stroller. It was waiting for us when we disembarked at our destination and was probably the easiest piece of ‘luggage’ we dealt with our entire trip. Make sure you attach a luggage tag complete with Name, Cell Phone, and Airports (Including layovers!) just in case there is a mix up.

Car Seat
If you’re going to be driving or riding in a car/taxi AT ALL during your vacation, then you need to have a car seat for your child. If someone is willing to let you borrow one at your destination, then that’s one less thing to worry about, but if they’ll be installing it for you as well, make sure they know if your child is rear or front facing. Each state has different requirements, so check these out when planning any vacation. Also verify the make/model/year of the car seat you’ll be using. Car seats have expiration dates! As always, before strapping your child in, verify that the seat has been installed properly and is secure. If you’re bringing your own car seat (we always do), check your airlines policy on checking baby gear. In the past we’ve been able to check the car seat at the ticket counter for free and gate check the stroller for free. The one time we brought a pack n play as well, they agreed to check it also, but I think we just ran across a sympathetic ticket agent. Re-read the car seat’s manual before your trip so that the different installation methods are fresh in your mind. Most cars have latch systems, but not always in the middle seat. Reminding yourself of the tips and tricks that are unique to your car seat will make it easier to install in a new car. Safety First!

An important tip about checking Car Seats:
Bring your own clear plastic trash bags and zip ties. Not all ticket counters have bags available, so you run the risk of ruining your car seat cover and straps if you can’t bag it up yourself. Just keep enough bags and ties in the front zipper pocket of a suitcase for each leg of your flight. (Assume the worst – the bag gets ripped each leg and you have to repackage it each time you board a flight. The likelihood of this happening is small, but these items take up minimal space, and can double as dirty laundry bags if you have plenty.) Wait to zip tie the bag shut until the ticket agent says it’s okay in case they need to examine it, and use zip ties thin enough that you could saw through it with a car key in a pinch.

High Chair
This is probably the easiest piece to leave at home. Most restaurants have high chairs or boosters available, and if you’re visiting family they can easily pick up something on craigslist or borrow from a friend. If all else fails, have a picnic! Towels laid out on the floor wash up easily and your child will probably think it’s a special treat! There are some smaller items that you can pack to make eating out easier for everyone. Check out the Restaurant Kit we never leave home without.

Bath Tubs
Finding a substitute for an infant bathtub can be difficult if you don’t plan ahead. Bath time in the kitchen sink and sponge baths are always an option, but consider taking a bath or shower with your baby for a real bonding moment. Plus, if the baby poops in the tub, You’ll be completely prepared after reading THIS.

Some babies just love their swings – I get it – and the thought of leaving home without it can scare some parents. If you’re not willing to either (1) buy a swing at your destination – new or used (2) Borrow from a friend or (3) Rock the baby yourself, then you can always look into a Baby Supply Rental Company. (Google “Rent Baby Equipment {nearest major city}”) If you’re going to go this route, they often have packages available that include toys (which is great if you’re near the beach), feeding , or sleeping gear, and might be more cost effective than paying baggage fees on the plane.

I’ve purposely avoided mentioning this service sooner because usually the prices are high for short term rentals, and free and low cost alternatives are usually available. But in the case of a baby that will only fall asleep to the gentle rocking of their comfy swing, everyone's sanity is worth blowing the budget a little. Better to be well rested and Enjoy vacation than to save a few bucks and be miserable.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

7 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

First things first, keep in mind that every flight is going to be slightly different – time of take-off and landing, temperature in the cabin, aisle vs window seat, turbulence – all these things can throw a wrench in the best laid plans, so my Main piece of advice is to Be Flexible. 

1. Lap Infant? 
Always check your specific airline’s policy, but as of the publication date many airlines allow children to ride free (while sitting on your lap, not in their own seat) before their 2nd birthday. If you’re a family on a budget, this helps cut down on vacation costs. Some airlines, like Jet Blue, also allow the child to bring 1 carry on like a diaper bag in addition to your carry on and personal item. 

Chris and I took advantage of both of these policies on our recent cross country flight from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts. Hannah was ticketed as a lap infant (free!) and we carried on two small suitcases, a backpack, a large purse, and a diaper bag with no additional luggage charges. However, this meant we lugged 5 bags and 1 sleepy toddler on and off a plane while onlookers just shook their heads and prayed that she wasn’t going to scream and that I wasn’t going to peg them in the head with a stray bag while navigating the skinny aisle way. We were flustered before the flight even started, but I’ve never been a ‘light packer’. 

2. Give them the Time of Day 
Since having Hannah, we’ve flown in the afternoon, at dinner time, and overnight - and they all pose different hurdles. 

If your flight falls during nap time or bedtime, then you have to take sleeping rituals into account. Do you usually read them a story? Pray? Sing lullabies? Do they sleep with a special blanket or stuffed animal? Do they need a bottle of milk? To nurse? Pacifier or lovey? Preparing for these requests, and making sure that these items are packed in the personal item at your feet – NOT in the overhead compartment – will make things easier for you (and those around you). 

If the flight falls during snack or meal time, plan ahead to either bring food that will get through security or allow yourself time to purchase food at the airport. Even if the flight Doesn’t fall during these times – I’ve yet to meet a toddler that will turn down goldfish crackers, even when in the foulest of moods. 

If your child should be wide awake during some portion of the flight, make sure you pack something for them to do, like a toy to play with or crayons and paper. Test the toy out ahead of time and make sure that it is a ‘silent’ toy for the sake of those around you. While most parents have been inoculated against the random beeps and songs of baby toys, not everyone wants to listen to that when they’ve paid hundreds of dollars to fly. Just be courteous to those around you. You can’t control whether or not your baby will cry, but you can control how much noise their toys make. 

3. Come Prepared 
Hannah has been having some fairly epic meltdowns lately, and just in case she lost it on the flight I kept the other passengers in mind. Not only did I bring an arsenal of snacks – gold fish, trail mix, applesauce packs – and lug on her favorite fuzzy blanket, but I also put ~10 individually sealed packs of ear plugs in a sandwich bag in an easy to reach pocket of my diaper bag. (Ear plug are readily available at Home Depot or Lowes and you should use them anytime you use power tools for home renovation projects, so they’re not bad to have on hand.) Had Hannah thrown a tantrum or start crying uncontrollably, I would have quickly handed them out to those around me. 

4. High Tech Entertainment 
Worst comes to worst, nothing cures a cranky Hannah quite like an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. I’m pretty sure Hannah would trade me in to go live with Foofa in a heartbeat. We have an iPad and downloaded a few episodes off iTunes before our trip. We also had an entire series of Backyardigans that really came in handy while driving to Boston from Upstate New York. If you’re going to go this route, make sure you bring appropriate headphones. If you’re going to wing it and hope that the in-flight entertainment will suffice (most airlines change their TV and movie selections monthly and have them listed on their website), then consider a headphone jack splitter and two sets of headphones so that both of you can enjoy the show. 

5. High Pressure Situations 
While in an airplane, the pressure changes significantly during takeoff and landing. When I was a kid I remember preparing my carry on before a big flight and getting to pick any flavor of bubbalicious chewing gum I wanted. As an adult, I STILL remember to pack a few sticks of gum to help my ears, but babies and toddlers do better if they’re nursing – either on breast or bottle. I dug out a small 4oz bottle and filled it with water after going through security for our most recent flight, but I’ve nursed Hannah on previous flights (before weaning) and she’s yet to have any flight related ear issues (Knock On Wood!). Take stock of how comfortable you’d be nursing your baby next to a stranger (and consider how they might react) and pack a cover or thin blanket if you feel like it’ll come in handy. No pressure! (Pun intended.) 

6. Is there such a thing as a 
Mommy Mile High Club? 
Just like the seats, leg room, and in flight services, airline bathrooms seem to be shrinking by the minute. Between getting to the airport hours in advance, being one of the first to board the plane, drinking during takeoff, and sitting through a seemingly never ending flight, consider yourself lucky if you do not have to change a diaper while on board. 

So do yourself a favor and make the inevitable diaper change as easy on yourself as possible. Put everything you’d need for the worst of the worst diaper change in a small easy to grab bag. Space will be at a premium, and you don’t need your ENTIRE diaper bag taking up precious room. You also don’t want to have to go BACK to your seat and grab a forgotten item, so take a minute and really think about this quick grab bag. 
  • A diaper is obvious. 
  • Plenty of wipes 
  • Diaper rash cream 
  • Extra pants or onesie depending on in-flight outfit 
  • A ziplock bag for soiled clothes? 
  • And if you’re going for bonus points – a pre-treating laundry stain pen to prevent set in stains.
While this list is pretty universal (but certainly not all inclusive – did I miss anything?) I have plenty of tips for traveling with Cloth Diapers which I’ll be discussing later this week.

7. Be Flexible 
Kids can give our patience a run for its money in the most relaxed situations. Add a hundred strangers, confined space, and limited supplies (even with the extra diaper bag *wink*) and things can go south quickly. 
 But don’t worry Mama – You got this. 
Just remember that the flight will eventually end, and you just have to keep it together for a little bit. Put it in comparison to all the hours you’ll spend parenting in your lifetime, and this flight is just a blip, so there’s no need to stress. Take advantage of what you DO have – a window shade that opens and closes, beautiful clouds or twinkling city lights to look at, an aisle way to strut up and down while the seat belt sign is off, a cell phone in airplane mode with lots of buttons to push, a sandwich bag full of ear plug party favors, and a ‘funny’ story to tell them when they’re all grown up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wedding Dress Shopping

Our friends are getting married this summer and I NEED to find a dress for the occasion. I haven't shopped for dresses in over a year and I had no idea what size I needed or what would look good. Come inside the dressing room with me and check out the fiasco. From my commentary to Hannah's input and singing... I'm sure everyone else in the store thought we were crazy.
video link:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hannah's Art Table

Click the image below to see the larger version
Hannah's Art Table

$6.99 -

$7.99 -

$7.99 -

$7.99 -

IKEA Kritter
$13 -

$4.99 -



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