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DadStreet Talks On The Go Travel Play

22 Mar

I have two children. O will be turning 3 in 4 weeks and Jake is almost 19 months old. They’re close enough in age that they can share a lot of the same toys but just far enough apart that there’s certain things O has outgrown and that Jake just isn’t old enough to understand. With both kids at home we’re able to cater their activities and play toys to their developmental stages, and of course moods! They actually play really well together for the most part, sans the normal course of “it’s mine!” and “you’re a bad boy, Jakey!” Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often and in fact they love each other very much. It’s not uncommon, in fact, to see them holding hands in the back seat.

All of that is about to be put to the test in just a few short weeks. The entire family is about to embark on a trip across the country (starting out in CA), over the Atlantic, and on to Israel. My sister who decided to take up residency there some 4 years ago is now engaged to be married. So what’s the next craziest thing to getting married? (Just kidding honey!) Well, the answer is taking two kids, 2 years and under on a 10,000 mile trip! We’re going to be on the plane an ungodly amount of time and I haven’t even talked about the fact that there’s a 10-hour time difference once we land!

Oy Vey!

So how does on prepare for such a journey? Well, I suppose in many ways you don’t. However, we’re getting certain things in order. For starters our plane doesn’t leave until the evening so the hope is that they’ll sleep the majority of the trip. Assuming they can muster 7 or 8 hours of sleep (they’re actually great travel sleepers) they’ll only be awake for 3 or 4 hours. We’re still figuring out what to bring for the plane ride but for now we’re loading up on:

  • Paperback coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Tons of stickers
  • A Macbook with Dora and Sesame Street games
  • Two iPhones with kids apps/books
  • iPad with kids apps and books

I’m actually a little more concerned with Jake since O can keep herself occupied with games, etc. She also LOVES watching TV (we do limit this at home) so I’m not worried about her plopping herself down for several hours of Dora or Diego. Jake on the other hand doesn’t watch movies and won’t sit still for more than a few minutes. I’m thinking he and I will be making our rounds through the plane saying hi to everyone. Once we’re off the plane we’re facing a 10-hour time change. The wife and I can force ourselves awake but the kids? Different story. I think this one we’re going to have to play by ear and just go with the flow. Fortunately, we get there several days before the wedding. So, hopefully we’ll be able to all get acclimated in due time.

O and Jake are used to making 6 to 7 hour car drives to visit family but this is going to be a whole different story. I’ll be chronicling my journey on www.DadStreet.com should you want to share in the craziness! Although, I do have a good amount of experience traveling with them (both have flown cross-country multiple times) I can always use advice.

Have any of you traveled with small children on such a long distance? If so, I’d love to hear what worked for you.

About the blogger:

Josh is an East Coast Transplant currently living in Monterey, California with his 2 adorable children, beautiful wife and their golden retriever. When Josh is not drooling over his adorable little ones, he enjoys drinking wine, taking pictures, playing with my iPhone, listening to an audio book, trying some kind of new food, surfing online, sleeping, watching TV, yappin’ on the phone, and last but not least trying to spend quality time with “The Boss”.

You can find Josh’s take on parenthood on his blog, Dadstreet.com

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DIY CRAFT: Easy as ABC Child’s Room Wall Art

16 Mar

We’ve never had a guest blogger do a tutorial before, and this one is super cute and great for any party or child’s room.

Thanks for sharing Alecia!

-The Big Toy Book Moms

Decorating your child’s room doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; a few well-crafted accents can go a long way – especially when they’re this adorable!  This is also a great way to help easily divide a shared space – like an office / playroom.  Here is a really easy (and fun) project that you can knock out in an hour and hang immediately!

  • What you’ll need:

– Pencil

– Scissors

– Hold Punch

– Printed Letters or Numbers, cut out

– Construction or craft paper

– Ribbon

  • Step 1 –

I used our home computer and printer to print out numbers in the font and size that I wanted (make sure you use outline format to save on ink & pick ones that are fat enough to hold up when cut out).  Cut your numbers (or letters) out.  I chose to do 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 because my daughter loves to count right now.

  • Step 2 –

Trace your numbers onto the BACK side of your construction paper.  I used a different design for each number just to make it more ascetically fun – pick whatever colors/textures will work best for your space & child.  When tracing the numbers be sure that you trace them BACKWARDS and to the BACK side of your paper – so that once you cut them out, the printed side will show your number the correct way.

After you have them traced, cut them out.

* An alternative to Step 1 & 2 would be to combine the process and print your numbers directly to your construction paper, but I didn’t want the printed marks on the front of my paper and since I used scrap paper that I had leftover from other projects, my sizes were different and would not have fit easily into my printer.

  • Step 3 –

Punch two small holes in the top, center of each number.  Keep the holes far enough apart that you can easily string a ribbon through each hole without worrying about it ripping.  Sting your ribbon through the holes, slipping the ribbon from back to front for the first hole, then front to back in the second.  Repeat for the remaining numbers, in sequential order (of course).  Distance your numbers appropriately to fit your wall space and preferred amount of ribbon.

  • Step 4 –

Hang your new wall art!  I tied a bow on each end and used a small piece of sticky tack to adhere each end to the wall.  Stand back and marvel!

Because this craft is so easy, you could always incorporate the help of your kids or change the images you’re hanging to suite the seasons or your child’s interests at any given time (think using dinosaur images instead of numbers or going with a red & green theme at Christmas).

About The Blogger:

Alecia is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls, wife to an amazingly devoted husband, and an aspiring writer.  When she not sipping pretend tea, she shares savings tips, online deals, crafting ideas and recipes at Savings & Stewardship; helping the modern family survive, thrive, and live life fully.

Loving Leapster Explorer

9 Mar

Children these days are already exposed to a plethora of technology. In fact, they are probably constantly trying to play with your touch- screen phone, tablet or any other electronic device that is lying around the house. My son is no different. That is why I jumped on the opportunity to get him a Leapster Explorer this past holiday season. Although it was quite the splurge for a 2 year-old ($69.99) it was worth EVERY PENNY!

I wish I would have investigated the setup before letting my son open it, but my husband said I shouldn’t play with his toys before he does. It’s just not fair. Well, we definitely paid the price. Once you get the Explorer you must plug it into to a computer to set everything up, and my son was not having it! So, I had to wait until he went to bed that night to really investigate all of the fabulous features of this touch-screen wonder.

The Explorer is portable, yet the buttons are large enough for children who are still developing their fine motor skills. It also includes a stylus that is ATTACHED to the game console so little fingers are less likely to lose. But, the best part about it is you don’t have to use the stylus if you don’t want. You can use the touch screen with your fingers. This was a must for my toddler, because he was used to playing on my IPod touch and Pop Pop’s IPad.

Leapster really did a phenomenal job of incorporating all of the familiar features of other touch-screen products and made them kid-friendly! They have an e-book feature using the Leaplet Learning Apps. We downloaded the Dinosaur’s Roar book, which is completely interactive, and the pictures on the page come alive with just one tap of a finger. The Leaplet Learning Apps allows you to purchase more reasonable games than the cartridges (which can run around $24.99/ cartridge), and they are just as fun! My son loves the “Jewel Train” game in which you have to rearrange the tracks so the train can get into the station. He struggled with this game at first, and originally I thought this way out of his reach (academically), but he soon came to successfully completing several levels!

My son’s favorite cartridge game is “Toy Story 3”, but it was a little challenging for him at first. It has an interactive board game layout, and your little learner can navigate through various activities on the board without having to complete or pass the level previous. This made for a happy mommy, because I didn’t have to go through and play the levels he couldn’t pass! It touches on skills such as letters, phonics skills, rhyming, word recognition, word building, spelling, and Physical Science. Of course, this is all the while that your little learner thinks they are Buzz Lightyear or Woody, which truly does give them a thrill.

All of the games, accessories, and console itself can get pricey, but they are worth it! I put all of the items on my little guy’s Christmas list and that helped a lot. So, I would definitely suggest making this a “big” gift and suggesting things for fellow family members or partygoers. Everyone loves to get a child a gift that is not only educational, but a gift they will love and treasure for many years!

About The Blogger:

In addition to running her own blog, Running on Empty Mom,  Rebecca Gillis is a full-time college student, job coach and teacher’s assistant for special needs children, wife—and, most importantly, a mommy. Rebecca started contributing to an online town newspaper for Collingswood and Haddonfield this past January for AOL, which has also kept her quite busy! She is finishing up her teaching and writing degrees at Rowan University and hopes to make a difference in the lives of her future students and readers.

Quick Easy Tips to Squeezing in a Fitness For Mom

23 Feb

I read a brilliant quote on a friend’s Facebook page the other day: Tomorrow’s body is today’s workout.”

As “CEO” of my household, I know how difficult it is for us busy moms to find the time {and energy} for working out. But, as a woman, I know how hard we can be on ourselves when we look into the mirror. Others may see me as a strong, petite, average-sized woman, but all I see are love handles, saggy boobies, and a flabby belly.

Between taking care of our families, cleaning out homes, grocery shopping, and schlepping our kids around town, it’s easy to push off exercising until tomorrow. But if we continue on that path, we’ll never look into the mirror and be content.

A few years ago, I started taking Zumba classes here and there. I’ve always been bored by the thought of elliptical training or walking on a treadmill, but I’ve had a love for dancing ever since I was a child. I was intrigued by the Zumba fitness philosophy of “ditching your workout, and joining the party.” I was also intrigued by their claims of burning upwards of 500 calories with just one hour of booty-shakin’ fun. Weight Watchers and sporadic Zumba workouts started to make a difference in not only how my clothes fit, but how I felt. I had more energy, and was starting to feel confident and sexy. No sooner did I realize that I needed to add one more thing to my “placemat”….and so I became a certified Zumba Instructor. I wanted to help other moms gain confidence and sculpt bodies that they wanted to see when they looked into the mirror.

I encourage you to find something you love to get your heart-pumping, otherwise you will always find something else that “needs” your attention. Checking to see if there are any Zumba classes in your area is a good place to start {don’t be fooled, anyone can Zumba–you do not need much coordination nor a dance background to join this party!}. Here are some other simple things you can do today to get the body you want tomorrow:

  • Drop and give me 20 – push-ups, crunches, anything! We all have time to squeeze in 20 anything’s! Making lunches? Pause for 20 squats. Drying your hair? Do 20 calf raises.
  • Make push-up’s your BFF {and I don’t mean push-up bras!}. Doing a simple modified push-up works so many parts of your body, and using your own body weight is not only a safe way to work out but it’s also free! Brushing your teeth? Place your hands on the ledge of your sink and do some push-ups. Playing on the floor with your little one? Get on your knees and do a few more! There’s nothing more efficient and easy to do to help sculpt sexy arms, a nice back, and a tight belly!
  • Don’t wait around for a good parking space! Pick the furthest spot and hike it into the store. Pushing a cart full of groceries and kids to and from your car is an added bonus!
  • Do you watch a favorite show at night when the kids are sleeping? Spend commercial breaks doing crunches instead of snacking.
  • Brush your teeth as soon as you put your kids to bed—doing so will make you less likely to reach for the popcorn or cookies as minty fresh breath curbs your appetite.

About The Blogger:

Chrissy is a happily-married, child-raising, semi-homemade cooking, country music-loving, amateur-writing, hypochondriac-thinking, wife & mom of two amazing kids–“Buckaroo” {age 6} & “Miss Mac” {age 3}.

When she is not running her household, she can be found reading celebrity gossip magazines {when she has a minute to herself}, watching chick-flicks {when it’s her turn on Netflix}, spending quality time with friends & family {as often as she can}, shopping {also as often as she can}, and sometimes {though it should be more often} working out!  Her placemat {note: a business card would not be big enough!} includes duties as a wife, mom, business owner, blogger and everything in between.  She blogs about her life as CEO of her household over here. In her “free” time, Chrissy is a Zumba instructor as well as a contributing writer for several online publications.

Follow Chrissy on Twitter: @Cmacceo

Guest Post: Encouraging Healthy Eaters

20 Oct


About a year ago, my daughter began to have some strange reactions — hives actually –to certain foods that I was preparing for her meals. After maintaining a spreadsheet of her reactions, I determined that she was allergic to food dyes, even those coming from seeds! In a way, it has been the best thing to happen to us because as a result, I am raising a champion vegetable eater!

When other parents learn about her allergies, they always ask, “So what *do* you feed her?” The answer is simple — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, & lean meats.

Here are some of our favorite ways to eat healthy – I hope you’ll find one that will work for you too!

Nutrition through Play- GuestPost Healthy Food Ideas

Almost every kitchen has a muffin pan, but did you know that it can make the best little snack tray? We love to fill it up with all kinds of different taste sensations! For today’s snack time, I filled it with carrots, apple slices, craisins, black olives, & organic crackers. It took less than five minutes to fill it up with nutritious foods and with four toddlers surrounding it at our table this morning, it was gobbled up almost as quickly! You may want to try some of these in your muffin pans:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • hummus
  • crackers
  • bites of cheese
  • apple slices
  • dried fruit
  • pretzel sticks
  • cereal
  • pears
  • peppers

When your children are sitting at the table, it’s likely that you don’t want them to “play” with their food, but you could try being “play-ful” with their food. When I taught preschool, parents took turns sending in snacks and there were always a couple that would say “I don’t *like* that!” So instead of telling the children that snack is raisins and pretzels, tell them with your eyes wide, “We’re having ants & sticks for snack today!” Boys really think that’s cool. Think of how much fun you can have with that! Dried fruit is “nature’s candy” and carrots & peppers are “bunny food”!

Don’t forget to let your kids catch you eating delicious & nutritious food, too. Setting a good example for your children will go a long way. When my husband and I dine out with our daughter, we like to order a Greek side salad — our daughter now immediately takes some of my field greens, tomatoes, & cucumbers for herself. There’s nothing that makes me more proud as a Mom than to hear her say, “Mmm, feta! It’s yummy!”

Just remember, if they don’t eat it today they may like it down the road. Keep trying, keep exposing them to whole foods and limit your pantry to healthy, “grow” foods. You may be surprised at what they will try!

About the Blogger:

Sara is the wife of a college football coach and mom to the world’s busiest toddler. You
can read more about their adventures on her blog The Football Wife. (www.thefootballwife.com)

Guest Post: Birthday Parties, Headless Style

13 Oct

Did you know that October has more birthdays than any other month? I do. 2 of my 3 kids have birthdays this month, and my other child? November. We’re in full birthday mode around here, not to mention all of the fall holidays and trying to get prepared for Christmas. It’s no wonder I call myself ‘headless’, right?

I’ve found that the simple parties are the best.

The following are tips to throw the easiest, cheapest, and most fun party for your kids, the headless way!

1-Plan it for after school on a Friday. We live close to the school so I can meet the kids and walk home but if you live in a more spread out community you could have parents drop off the kids but have your start time no later than 30 minutes after school is out.

2- For boys: Have soft-foam dart guns and extra darts available and set them free in the back yard. (Alternately you could provide ‘light sabers,’ or whatever small, outside toy your child is into this week.) They can form teams or it can be a free for all. No need to supervise other than just being around. The kids can handle it and will enjoy the free play time.

For girls it could be craft supplies, dress up clothes, mani/pedi supplies, the sky is the limit. Remember: this toy, or craft, is their ‘goody bag’. It doesn’t need to be costly.

3-Have water and simple snacks available.

4- Serve dinner: pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, whatever the birthday boy or girl loves right now. Remember: make sure it’s easy! Kids love simple food.

5-Can’t forget the cake (or cupcakes,) and ice cream!

6- Shoo the kids out the door at a reasonable hour (3 hours is usually a good run time for this kind of party,) pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, collapse on your couch, and pat yourself on the back for being done!

My kids LOVE this party because with our busy schedule we don’t often have a chance to have their friends over. I love this party because it’s inexpensive, I don’t have to micro-manage their play time, and it’s usually over before I know it.

Do your kids have a favorite party? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Blogger:

Kendra, or Headless Mom as she’s known on the internet, has been blogging for 3 years. She likes football, moderate exercise and chips and queso. Her daughter is in college and her sons (age 8 and 10,) just keep her busy – that’s why she’s headless! Visit Kendra at her personal blog, The Adventures of the Headless Family, Inland Empire Family and Draft Day Suit, where she writes about her obsession with sports.

A Note From Big Toy Book Mom, Corine

We first met Kendra at our Sweets In The City Party during Blogher 2010 in New York City. We instantly fell in love with her when she handed us her business card…

Headlessmom Business CardHow could we not love her? This cute little doll now sits on top of my desk reminding me of the fun time we had at Sweets In the City!

Thanks Kendra!

On Your Marks, Get Set, Its Game Night!

28 Sep

Our games included a Monopoly game, a Cluedo (the English version of Clue), CandyLand (the old version without Queen Frostine), Snakes and Ladders (the English version of Chutes and Ladders), and maybe a deck of cards. My childhood game closet is a far cry from the games my children have to choose from.

We have accumulated a massive collection of games after 14 plus years of birthdays, Christmases, and just because. We’ve had some hits. Some misses. And some games that wore out. Even after a few clandestine purges we still have a huge collection of games.

Our family loves a good game night. As the children get older, game nights become harder to schedule. Here’s why…

  • My teen is an independent sort. She’s happiest reading a book, checking Facebook, or lately chatting up a storm with her friends. I can’t blame her. She’s about to start high school. Life is a busy social whirl of volleyball, books, school gossip, movie nights with friends, and getting the best out of what is left of the summer. I hate to tell you this, but teens would rather spend time with their friends than with their parents.
  • My kids are involved in sports. The older two play volleyball. The youngest splits his time between karate and football. All three are on the summer swim team. Family time needs to be dovetailed between practice, summer workbooks/homework, and rushed family dinners.
  • My husband has a long commute. When he is home he likes to be able to catch a kid’s game or play a video game with the kids.
  • And then there is me. I love buying games, but not necessarily always playing them. Take chess, for instance. I never played as a kid. We were a checkers family growing up. I bought my kids a learn-to-play-chess set. We have had a number of games of chess, but I feel like I slow the game down by my slow chess play.

We are not quite to the point where we have to pencil in “Family Game Night” on the wall calendar or cozi.com online calendar…but we are not far off! For now we grab family game night when we can.

I do the following to ensure that family game night works:

  • We play after dinner but before dessert.
  • I lure reluctant kids to family game night with a promise of dessert or popcorn.
  • I set the family game night on a day when I have the kids picking up the toys from the family room and clearing off the coffee table. We need a large playing area for comfortable game play.
  • I choose a game that will work for 5 players. If the game is complicated, we play with 4 players with my husband and youngest child teaming up.
  • I choose a game that will work for different ages. Two recent successes…Apples to Apples Jr., Pictionary, Bubble Talk, and Pictureka.
  • I let the game night end when I can tell that the oldest or the youngest’s attention is waning.


What games do you and your family like to play on family game night?

Leave a comment.

About The Guest Blogger:

Musings from Me on Kids, Preteens, and Teens Jill Berry is a writer and Mom of 3.  You can find her blogging on her site  Musings from Me about her kids and everything else under the sun.


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