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Don’t Compare Birthday Parties

Posted in Blog, Parenting

Day 27-9:57 pm: It’s just the beginning of the year and already we have been invited to a bunch of birthday parties for our friend’s kids. They are so much fun, and my toddler loves going to them. But for a family like us who doesn’t have a ton of money to spend, it’s really hard not to start comparing your birthday capabilities with others. My point is:

Don’t compare birthday parties.

We see it all the time on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. The “perfect” birthday parties people throw for their kids. They have live entertainment, a cake the size of a dresser, peacocks, and their perfect little baby dressed in designer clothes. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I think they are put there just to make us all feel bad. Yet, when birthday season rolls around, I can’t help but look to those professional photos for inspiration. They are just so pretty! And, I really do want to provide something as beautiful as that for my little one.

But, something you have to remember is: the kids don’t care! Not until they’re older at least. But a toddler won’t care if they have Lady GaGa perform at their party or you dressed up like a princess. And let me tell you, they would way rather have you dress up as a princess. They just want to have fun and eat some cake with their friends.

Let me give you an example. We went to 2 birthday parties on the same day recently. Yes, it was crazy. The first party went all out. They had the Thomas the Train custom cakes, tons of food, matching decor, and train rides. Yes, they rented a kids train and offered unlimited train rides around the neighborhood. They birthday boys literally stayed on the train for 2 hours and loved it. All the kids thought it was amazing. They also had a bounce house the perfect size for toddlers and the kids had just as much fun in that.

The next birthday party was at Round Table. They had a cute little play gym, some pizza, and a nice cake from Safeway. It was nothing fancy, but it was nice. And guess what. My toddler had just as much fun running around Round Table as she did at the other party. All she cared about was playing with her friends.

Both parties were great and we had a blast at both. But, I think we should learn a little lesson from our toddlers.

It doesn’t matter what is at the party, as long as there are good friends to share it with.

I just love the little lessons our kids teach us. Don’t you?

Being Grateful to be a Stay at Home Mom

Posted in Blog, Parenting

Day 26-9:54 pm: This afternoon I was talking to some of my friends at a party. We were chatting and they were telling me all about their full-time jobs. They have their hubbies drop their kids off and pick them up from daycare 5 days a week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Sometimes their kid is the first one at daycare, and they feel guilt. Guilt that their kid is the first one there. Guilt that they can’t spend more time with them. Guilt that their kid has to be at daycare all day everyday. It once again reminded me how amazing it is to be a stay at home mom.

It reminds me to be grateful to be a stay at home mom.

Some moms I know love having a full-time job. They like having the outside stimulation, not to mention the nice bit of money they have to contribute back to their family. Some moms I know couldn’t wait to go back to work, not because they didn’t want to be with their kid, but because they need to be out of the house doing something other then dishes. (I know, dishes drive me crazy too). I really do have so much respect for moms who work full time.

I don’t understand how they make it work. How they balance (there’s that word again!) work and being a parent. It seems so hard to work all day then come home and make dinner or clean the house. Truly it sounds exhausting. So, like I said, I have a great deal of respect for the mom who works full time. I can’t express that enough.

Being a stay at home mom, to me, is wonderful. I never had that urge to go back to work. I wanted my job to be taking care of my kid (and yes, the house too). I don’t mind being at home all day playing tea party or with play-doh. I don’t mind doing all the grocery shopping. I don’t mind not having adult interaction all day (though I do have to occasionally call friends or family to stay a bit more sane). I DO mind doing dishes. Have I said that before??

I love being a stay at home mom.

I never in a million years thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I was raised in a very feminist household where the woman needed to work and contribute to society. My parents actually thought I would be the first woman president. (Sorry, mom, not likely). So it was hard for my family to come to grips with the fact that this was what I wanted to do. But, like always, they supported me.

I am so grateful to be able to be at home and play with my toddler. I am grateful I have the flexibility to run errands during the day and take care of things at home. I am grateful that if we want to go on vacation I don’t have to request “time off”. It is amazing.

But, while there comes guilt with being a full time working mom, there is also some guilt associated with being a stay at home mom. I have guilt that I’m not contributing financially to my family. I have guilt that we can’t go on fancy vacations to Hawaii every year. I have guilt that my hubby can’t buy the 60″ TV he wants to get. I know it is all stuff that is material, that we don’t need. But, they are things that working moms can have because they have 2 incomes.

There are pluses and minuses to each, but I am still grateful that I am a stay at home mom. And I wouldn’t trade it for all the designer clothes in the world.

 

School Etiquette During Flu Season

Posted in Blog, Parenting

Day 25-10:45 pm: As you may know I work part time at my toddler’s preschool. It’s so great because she gets to go for FREE and I get to be there with her to watch her grow and interact with friends. I love it. But, there’s also a not-so-great part about it. Flu season.

When working at a preschool not only does your kid pick up every cold, but so do you.

I have worked at schools and preschools in the past and have found that at each new school comes a new set of colds and flus. Generally I’m catching a new cold or flu every week for the first few months I’m working there, then it gets better. Kids just carry germs and pass them around freely. They say it’s good for the immune system (but as my hubby would say, “Who’s ‘they’?”

But I’m telling you, having a cold all the time isn’t fun for anyone, and being a worry-wart of a parent I’m constantly stressed that my little one is going to catch it. Since I work at her school, if I see a kid coughing or with a runny nose, I’ll purposely make sure she doesn’t play with them, or sit next to them at lunch. I will try to keep her as far away as possible.

Which brings me to my point.

If your kid is not feeing well, DON’T SEND THEM TO SCHOOL!! (Please)

Seriously, if your kid has giant green snot boogies pouring out of their nose that they are constantly wiping all over their face, hands, and sleeves, keep them home! I don’t know what possesses a parent to send their kid to school like that. I’m sorry, it’s just a big pet peeve of mine. If my toddler wakes up in the morning and has green snot pouring from her nose I’m going to keep her home. Why would I send her to school to feel miserable and get all the other kids sick??

And what really gets me is that when I or one of the other teachers politely mention to the mom or dad that their kid has been pouring snot all over the place and that they should probably keep them home, the parents play dumb like “Oh really? He seemed fine this morning. I’ll keep an eye on it…” I’m sorry, you didn’t notice your son was blowing giant green snot bubbles on his way to school??

Give me a break.

I get it, some parents have to go to work and can’t take off, or their daycare charges you whether your kid is there or not. But please don’t play dumb. I see it so often. Find a babysitter if you can. You don’t want your kid to be miserable at school and you don’t want to pass it around to everyone else.

Don’t be the parent giving your kid Tylenol in the car in front of the school to reduce their fever so they can still go.

It won’t do anyone any good.

There are so many different ways to find a babysitter like Care.com or even Nextdoor.com that you should just know that your kid’s gonna catch a cold and have someone lined up in case they do.

And if you see another parent bring their kid to school obviously not feeling well, says something! I do. I usually say something polite like, “Oh no, little Johnny looks like he’s not feeling well. Has he had it for a long time?” Usually the parents say something like “I didn’t notice.” Or “He seems like he’s ok.”

It’s also hard to tell when it’s OK to send them to school or not. Generally I follow these guidelines:

  • If they have a fever keep them home (even if it’s just 99) and wait until their fever breaks and they haven’t had one for 24 hours to send them to school.
  • If they are vommiting or vommited that morning, keep them home. Even if you think it was just car sickness on the way to school. (Seriously, parents have come in saying, “He just threw up on the way to school, but I think he was just car sick.” I don’t care! Keep him home just in case!)
  • If they have a bad cough that sounds wet or “croupy” keep them home until the cough improves or their energy is back up. I know coughs can last weeks, but if you’re in the first few days of the cough and the kid seems lathargic or not themselves. Keep them home for a couple days.
  • If your child has green or yellow snot pouring from their face that they can spread all over the toys, keep them home. I know this too can last a little while, but if you’re in the first 2-3 days of the pouring snot, keep them home just in case. They most likely will pass it along and aren’t feeling well.

*I am not giving medical advice. Obviously if your child doesn’t feel well you should talk to a medical professional. This is just my opinion as a parent and a teacher.

Just think about how you feel when you have a cold. It sucks right? Your throat hurts, your nose won’t stop running, and you’re weak. Why would you want to force your kid to go to school when you wouldn’t want to go to work. All you want to do is lay on the couch and watch movies. That’s what they want too.

So please be considerate of your kid’s feelings and of the other kids in the class. Use common sense and keep your kid home if you have to. The teachers thank you. The parents thank you. The kids thank you. And most importantly, your kid thanks you.

How to Do California Adventure with a Toddler

Day 24-11:18 pm: This past weekend we had the great pleasure of being able to spend a day at California Adventure. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, this is a theme park located across from Disneyland and has similar attractions, rides, and characters as Disneyland. It is Disneyland’s sister park, and let me tell you, it is so much fun! Doing Disneyland with a toddler can be overwhelming, especially when there’s a ton of lines and it’s busy. I should know, I went last year with our toddler when she was 20 months. But, California Adventure is a completely different experience.

California Adventure is very toddler-friendly.

So many of the rides allow little kids to come on. Yes, the whole park is a lot smaller than Disneyland, which makes it more manageable with a toddler. I think it also helped that it wasn’t super busy there. We were able to get on every ride with a 5-minute wait or less.

So, here is how our day went:

FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers

We got there at 9:00 am and went straight for the Cars ride “Radiator Springs Racers” FastPass. You have to get it early because it’s the most popular ride in the park and the FastPasses get taken quickly. My sister came with us, and this ride is only for big kids, so just my hubby and I got passes and my sister agreed to watch the toddler.

Monsters Inc. Ride

Then it was on to the Monsters Inc. ride. I thought it would be too scary for my toddler but she loved it! It was dark and there were monsters, of course, but the kid “Boo” in the story line kept her entertained and when we walked off she said “Mommy, that wasn’t scary!”. So there you go.

Anna and Elsa

After that we walked down Hollywood land to the big amphitheater. I was curious so we went inside where they have couches and large TV screens in a giant room. The perfect place to give everyone a much-needed break, nurse a kid, or have a kid take a nap. Since it was still early, we didn’t need to do that, but they announced that Anna and Elsa were there so we walked up to a couple people working there and asked if we could meet them. They took us down a hallway of doors, knocked on one, and then opened it. To my toddler’s surprise, Anna and Elsa were standing right there (with a photographer)! She walked right in and they both welcomed her and started talking to her while the photographer (and us) got some great shots. She was totally star struck and didn’t know what to do! I was in shock because there was no line to meet them! Win!

Cars Land

So, with Anna and Elsa checked off the list, we made our way to Cars Land. We stopped on the way to get a picture taken with Mickey Mouse. Cars Land is super cute and they have Flo’s Cafe which has a good breakfast and lots of snacks. Not to mention the stars of the movie “Cars” were there for photo ops! Get your picture taken with life-sized Lighting McQueen, Mater, Sally, and other characters. My toddler had never seen the movie, but she was still totally into the cars! We went on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and my toddler had the biggest smile on her face as she rode around the ride.

A Bug’s Land

There was another ride for toddlers in Cars Land but the line was longer so we decided to move along. We entered “A Bug’s Land” based off the movie “A Bug’s Life” where it feels like you have shrunk to a bug’s size and everything is bigger. They have some really cute rides here and we went on “Flik’s Fliers” which is basically like a merry-go-round. They have a 3-D movie experience, but I heard it was a little scary for toddlers so we skipped that. They also have a train ride, but it was closed. We just let her run around this area and she was perfectly happy.

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Then it was off to the Pier. This is a great area with games and rides and food. Here, we went on “Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” which was amazing considering this is one of my toddler’s favorite Disney movies. She absolutely loved it! Simple, cute ride that makes you feel like you are “Under the Sea”.

Frozen!

So, by now it was time to head back to Hollywood Land for the first showing of “Frozen”, a live play of the movie. I knew my toddler would love to see this and they recommended getting there 30 miniutes early. We got in line and waited for about 10 minutes before they let us in. Then we waited for another 15 and the show started. We chose to sit in the Mezzanine because they said it had better viewing, which it did, but in the Orchestra some of the characters go up and down the aisles, so I thought that might have been fun too. It was a great show, about an hour long, and since it was close to nap time and dark in the theater, my toddler started to get a little sleepy.

Lunch at Wine Country Tratorria

After the show it was lunch time, and I had tried to call ahead to make reservations at the Wine Country Trattoria restaurant, but they said everywhere was full for lunch and dinner. (Call ahead, like a few days or weeks ahead, to make reservations) But, I tried my luck just walking up and they literally sat us in 2 minutes. My hubby had been walking around with our toddler and she fell asleep on his shoulder. He plopped her in the stroller and we adults enjoyed a nice meal together! Side note-California Adventure has alcohol, so I got a glass of wine and they even let me take it to go in a plastic wine glass! Great food here and good service!

Radiator Springs Racers

When my toddler woke up it was time for me and my hubby to head to the Radiator Springs Racers ride. Without FastPass the line was 80 minutes long! No way! And that was light! But, with FastPass, we walked right up, waited 5 minutes, got on the ride, had a blast, and was off in a total of 15 minutes! Definitely get the FastPass! My sister and our toddler even got to watch us ride from the viewing area and thought it was hilarious when she saw us in our car go racing by!

Then we stopped and got her a hot dog and sat by Ghirardelli restaurant and ate. They looked like they had a bunch more restaurants around there but we didn’t have a chance to explore.

Disney Junior Show

After food, we went to the Disney Junior show. I had no idea what to expect, but it was perfect for toddlers! The kids and parents sit on the floor and they have puppets on stage of their favorite Disney Junior shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It is very interactive too and the kids are encouraged to stand up and dance while bubbles float from the ceiling. Super cute show and only 30 minutes so it’s perfect.

By then we had felt like we had done most of the rides that we wanted to. I kept my expectations low and decided we shouldn’t try to do too much, but it felt like we had done a lot! There was only one ride remaining that we needed to go on the King Triton’s Merry-Go-Round.

King Triton’s Carousel

So we made our way back to the Pier and got in the short line. But, things seemed to be taking a while. Then we found out why. All of a sudden Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel, and Tiana all climbed aboard the Merry-go-round! My toddler was in shock! And then, they let us in to go ride with them! I went straight for the first princess I saw and sat my toddler right next to Tiana! She got to chat with her and ride along side her! It was a magical Disney Moment! Then on the way out she gave each princess a hug. I was just as excited as she was and she couldn’t stop talking about it. They were just on for that one ride and we had amazing timing. It was a spontaneous thing that makes the Disney parks so much fun.

Toys and a Big Balloon

After that we got ice cream and then to the big “Emporium” store at the front where we let her pick out a toy to take home. We decided not to do dinner at the park (even though I wanted to stay later) since my hubby wasn’t feeling well. So we got our toy, our giant expensive balloon, and headed back to my cousin’s house for dinner.

All in all, it was a perfect Disney Day. No meltdowns. She took a nap. We went on all the rides on my to-do list. And, we had our magical princess moment.

There were only a few things I put on my to-do list for next time:

-Toy Story Ride

-Dinner at Ariel’s Grotto while watching the light show (I hear you get to dine with the princesses, which is where they all had come from)

-Try more of the restaurants

-Soarin’ California Ride (Grown ups and big kids only)

-Watched the parade

I’m sure there’s a ton more to do there, but this was perfect for a toddler. So grab some snacks, put on your walking shoes, and get ready for a fun filled day! You definitely have to check it out!