May 052016
 May 5, 2016  family, Mother's Day Comments Off on 5 Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the mothers and grandmothers in our lives, so it’s a particularly hard time of year to live far away from family.  My parents live across the country from us, while my in-laws are in Costa Rica.  Though we try to visit as often as we can, it is not practical to go as often as we like, so maintaining ties can be a challenge.  Here are some easy ways we have discovered to keep in touch with family far away.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

1. Homemade Cards and Gifts

I am a big believer in old-fashioned cards and gifts.  For special occasions the kids and I always sit down to make homemade cards to send to loved ones.  Especially when you live far away, having a sweet, tangible gift really means a lot!  And cards are very practical, since they are inexpensive to send overseas.  Hand print cards like this hand trace art are perfect, since they are a great keepsake gift as well.  At our last family reunion, my sister-in-law had all the kids make hand print T-shirts for each other – so fun!  For even more ideas, check out my Homemade Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.

2. Photo Gifts

Photo gifts are also a lovely way to be “present” in your family’s lives even though you are far away.  We send out photo cards with pictures of the kids each year, and often create special family photos to send to the grandparents in the US and Costa Rica for occasions like Mother’s Day.  They are truly cherished, as this way the grandparents get to “see” the kids everyday.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

3. Create a Shared Ritual

One sweet idea is to create a ritual you each can do at the same time.  For example, you could take a morning walk or work in the garden at around the same time then share photos of the flowers or animals you see.  (Especially fun if your kids help take the photos!)  You could also have special candles that you each light as you say your evening prayers, or a favorite bedtime story you read together over the phone, or a decoration that you can both use on special occasions.  My sister, for example, sent us all beautiful handmade garlands that each family uses to decorate for the holidays.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

4. Virtual Parties

Can’t be there for a special occasion? Get on the computer and make a virtual visit!  My family threw a virtual baby shower for us before each of our babies was born, and we have gotten to be a part of the big family Christmas celebration in Costa Rica each year via computer!  We really felt like we were there as my sister-in-law “carried” us around the house to say hi to everyone and even drool over the food!

5. Send a Financial Gift

If we lived nearby, we could take the grandmothers out for brunch on Mother’s Day, or buy them a special gift on their birthdays.  Since this is not practical because of the distance, we often send a financial gift instead.  (Be sure to check out these awesome Mother’s Day deals and egift cards from PayPal!)

As a busy mom, I’m so glad that now I’ve discovered how easy and safe PayPal and Xoom are to manage and move money quickly.  Now I can rest easy knowing our gift was received and they have more time to focus on family rather than chasing down the money transfer.  Managing our money securely is important to our growing family, so using services like PayPal and Xoom helps relieve that added stress that finances can bring.

Xoom is an easy way to transfer money to loved ones

Xoom is the only remittances company that offers instant disbursements, and it has so many options for how your loved ones can receive your financial gift, such as bank transfers, cash pick-up or delivery, bill pay and mobile reload – so easy!  And how great is it that you can track your transfers with SMS alerts, and even get a text message when the money is received?  I can recall so many instances in the past when my husband had to make multiple phone calls to see exactly how/when our family could pick up the money we had sent, and even then we never quite relaxed until we got a call from our family members that they had received the money successfully.  The Xoom system is so much easier, leaving more time for everyone to relax and enjoy the holiday!

How do you keep in touch with family far away?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Jan 062016
 January 6, 2016  family, household 1 Response »

Our favorite household organization tips

Now that we’ve brought home Baby #3, staying on task and organized is harder than ever.  And while part of the answer is learning to be happy with more mayhem, I have picked up a few organization tips to keep things from sliding into complete chaos.

There are two main themes to all of my suggestions: preparation and education.  That is, prep as much as possible ahead of time, as something will always happen at the last minute to throw you off course.  Education could also optimistically be termed empowerment, as it’s all about getting your kids involved in the process and learn to do more things for themselves.

I received a complimentary starter pack from stickerkid; however, all opinions are my own.

Organization Tips for Families with Young Children

10. Start a load of laundry first thing in the morning: I got this piece of advice several years ago, and it really has made a difference.  It’s amazing how much time gets absorbed every morning with breakfast, making sure everyone has gone potty, etc.  Before I turn around, it seems like we’re already halfway to lunch.  So I make sure that first thing I start a load of laundry, and by the time I get through that first round of essential tasks, it’s already done and ready to be moved to the dryer, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something!

9. Have set routines that everyone takes part in: Call them chores, routines, whatever works, these are tasks that your kids complete on a daily basis.  Work together to establish routines that everyone can agree on then be as consistent as possible.  It is worth the effort, believe me!  Not only are you helping your kids be more independent, but you are saving yourself valuable time in the end.  With time, they’ll need less prompting and will be able to do more and more of it on their own.

8. Do menu planning and have a (more or less) set shopping day: Menu planning is one of those organization tips everyone talks about, but it’s not just a myth – it really works!  I have a set of index cards where I’ve written down the meals we make regularly, divided by category: Soups, Weekend Meals, etc.  Then I just have to flip through those to come up with a menu plan for the week.  (See some of my favorite meal ideas on my Easy Dinners Pinterest board).  Then from there is a a cinch to write up a shopping list.  Having a set shopping day is more important as your kids get older and you are adding in set activities like soccer practice, and so on.  For me it’s helpful to know which day I’ll be going to the store, because I’ll plan that far in advance.

Our favorite household organization tips

7. Reusable shopping lists: I started using reusable shopping lists when my oldest was little.  These are really helpful if you and your partner share shopping duties, or if, like me, you have an extreme case of Mommy brain and tend to forget at least one or two essential items with every shopping trip.  For each of our regular stores, I wrote up a list of items we buy from there then laminated them and hung them up inside our pantry.  During the week, I can check off items I can see we’ll need to refill.  There’s also plenty of room to write in items that aren’t on our regular list.  Then before I make a trip, I go through the list and check on all the items to see if there’s anything I missed.  No more coming home from the store just to realize we’re out of my son’s favorite snack!  These lists are also helpful for those times when my husband calls and offers to stop at the store on his way home from work.  It never fails that he calls when I’m in the middle of a diaper change or a heated argument between the boys.  This way I can just glance inside the pantry door and rattle off to him what we need.

6. Kids’ drawers and shelves: Have a number of designated drawers and shelves in your kitchen that are accessible for your kids.  That way they can get their own plates and silverware at meal times, help put away clean dishes, and get their own snacks.  My husband also went through their bedrooms and made sure all the drawers were in working order and safe for kids – important, since we bought several dressers second hand, and originally a few of the drawers didn’t have stoppers, so they’d come all the way out when pulled too hard (as kids are likely to do!)  Besides taking the burden off of you, it’s also very empowering for the kids to be able to take care of things for themselves.

5. Build in “clean up” times: I love to give my kids plenty of time for free play, yet somehow for them this translates into pulling all the cushions off the sofa and dumping every toy box onto the floor.  Rather than let things build up until the end of the day, we have several designated “clean up” times during the day.  That doesn’t mean they have to put away the toys they are actively playing with, but before lunch and dinner, we go through and put away those that they’re no longer using.  Besides making sure clean up time isn’t so overwhelming (and that I don’t go crazy in between), it also helps them get used to a rhythm of play and clean up.

4. Keep your bag stocked with essentials and non-perishables: With three young children, we carry a lot of gear whenever we go out, so rather than have to scramble to get ready each time – on top of making sure everyone has gone potty or gotten a diaper change, gotten shoes on, etc. – I restock my bag after each trip so it’s ready for next time.  And while I do my best to take along fresh fruit as snacks, I also keep a number of healthy, non-perishable items in the bag to round things out or for those days when cutting up an apple is just not happening if we want a chance of making it out the door on time.

3. Keep a donation box in your closet: With young children, it seems like they are constantly outgrowing clothes or losing interest in toys.  For a long time we held onto these for the next child coming along, but now that we have had our last baby, we’re beginning the cycle of gradually passing these on to other families.  I have a box (sometimes several!) in my closet for clothes and toys we no longer need, which we periodically take to charities in our area, like a local school for homeless children.  It’s an easy way for your family to get involved in charity, plus it keeps down the clutter in your house.

2. Library bags: In our house, we have books coming out of our ears.  Every trip we take to the library, we max out each of our library cards to the limit of how many books we can check out.  So keeping track of all of these is a big issue for us!  My solution was to have several designated library bags that live in my closet in between trips.  If I get a notice that a book is due soon (and I’m not able to renew it), or if I see ones that the kids really aren’t interested in, I stash them in the library bags right away.  In fact, I usually do a sweep of the house not only just before we head to the library but just after.  The “just after” sweep is for those books that I’m not sure about – but if they last in the library bag for a week or two without anyone missing them, I know they’re safe to return.  If not, I can always pull them out and keep them for another few weeks.

Our favorite household organization tips

Love these stickers, shaped perfectly to fit inside shoes!

1. Labels: A recent find are these adorable sticker labels from stickerkid.  They are completely customizeable labels for all of your kids’ belongings – from water bottles and umbrellas to shoes and shirts.  Never worry about your child’s backpack getting mixed up with another child’s at school, or your super cute snack cups getting confused with someone else’s at the park.

Our favorite household organization tips

These labels are easy to apply, and – I love this! – you can even pick clothing labels that can be removed later, to pass down clothes to another child or donate them (see #3 above).  So convenient!  I also love that you and your child get to sit down and customize the labels when you order.  We had so much fun doing ours!  You can choose from all sorts of designs and colors, even different languages!  So not only will you make sure your items are safe at daycare or school, your child will have lots of fun with them!

If you’d like to try them out, be sure to use the Discount Code SG10STICKERKI7_R9 to get 10% off!

Find more tips for your home on my Household board on Pinterest, and share yours in the comments!

Dec 172015
 December 17, 2015  family 4 Responses »

10 Tips for Bringing Home Another Baby |

We are still fairly early into our time as a family of five, but while it is all fresh in my mind, I wanted to share my tips for bringing home another baby, based on our experiences so far.  These thoughts are especially geared toward the first few weeks of bringing home a second (or third, or fourth) baby, though many will apply to any family with a newborn.

Bringing Home Another Baby: The Early Weeks

1. Remember it won’t be like this forever: Part of what stressed me out at the very beginning was the thought that the chaos and craziness of the first weeks was what our life was going to be like now that our family had expanded (again).  It isn’t.  While life will never be the same as it was, that also doesn’t mean it will always be like it is when you first come home from the hospital.  Remember that you are still recovering – physically and emotionally – from delivery, plus you are all still finding your new rhythm as a family.  Slowly you will start to get your strength back, the baby will start sleeping more, and you will all figure out your new roles.

2. Don’t worry about setting a precedent: During the first weeks, you really are in survival mode, so don’t worry too much about your older kids getting stuck into this new pattern.  The early days are a “time out of time,” a transition period where things seem upside down for a while.  That doesn’t mean that your kids will get too used to late bedtimes or eating more take out than usual or rules generally not being enforced as strictly.  It is a bit like being on vacation.  It may take a while to get back into a routine later on, but you will.

10 Tips for Bringing Home Another Baby |

3. Follow your child’s lead about interacting with the baby: My boys were very different about how they reacted to the baby, and each reaction is totally normal and okay.  One was interested briefly, then really wanted to get back to doing his own thing.  The other was much more curious and visibly enthusiastic.  If your child isn’t that interested, continue to offer opportunities to connect with the baby, but don’t push if it.  Sometimes they are just not sure how to handle such a strange little creature, and sometimes the baby just doesn’t seem that interesting compared to their toys and books.  They will come around in their own time.

4. Be kind to your kids: If your older kids are acting out or being extra clingy, remember that they are going through a big transition.  (See great tips in the articles below about how to help them with this!)  And even though you will be tired and so less patient than usual, remember that they really need the extra hugs and attention, so try to muster up some extra kindness for them.

Big brother’s photo of Baby #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #siblings

A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on

5. Be kind to yourself and your partner: Parents, of course, are also going through a major transition.  No matter how many times you bring home a newborn, each time it is a new experience, and a huge adjustment.  You’ll keep saying, “Did the others cry this much?” “I don’t remember having to change this many diapers!” “I am sure we didn’t go through this before!”  Newborns are wonderful and snuggly, but they are very labor and time intensive, and it is a struggle to balance caring for them with caring for older children as well.  So cut yourself some slack.  If you snap at your toddler or burn dinner or generally are less pleasant or “with it” than usual, it’s no wonder!  This too shall pass, so have a little chocolate and try to go to bed early.

6. Ask for (and accept) help: This is not the time to be a super hero.  Often it is physically impossible to do everything yourself in the early days.  First, you are supposed to be staying off your feet as much as possible, and second, if you are breastfeeding, it is difficult to go far away from your baby.  And really, letting others help you is a gift you can give your family, because it means you’ll have more time and energy to focus on them.

7. Kids – and adults – don’t need to bathe every day: Just sayin’!  This tip alone will save you a lot of time and trouble, trust me.

8. Never pass up a chance to go pee, jump in the shower, or take a nap: There are many things you can do while nursing or carrying a baby, but some things are really best done alone.  And when you are sleep deprived and trying to look after everyone else, you’ll be surprised at how much time can go by without you remembering to do one of these.

9. Safety first: Make sure that all the kids are being taken care of – at minimum, that everyone has eaten, gone potty, and is generally being looked after.  Particularly after there is more than one child per adult, it is too easy to, say, drive half a mile down the road with one child unbuckled because you each thought the other was strapping him in (ahem).  And remember that you are no longer able to multitask like you once were – especially when you were up all night with a newborn, your preschooler is clinging to your leg wanting you to play with him, and you’re pretty sure the baby just pooped – again.  So take extra care to make sure the burners are all turned off, scissors and knives aren’t left lying around, and everyone is getting some sleep.

10. Remember it won’t be like this forever: I know I’m repeating myself here, but for me this is the main point to keep in mind.  This time won’t last forever, so take a breath, look around at the beautiful chaos that surrounds you and take a mental snapshot.  These are the moments you’ll always remember, the stories that will be woven into the fabric of your family history – the look on your child’s face when he held his sister for the first time, the way the boys decorated the house before you came home from the hospital, the time the baby peed on her big brother – these are the tales that will be told year after year at family gatherings, the photos you’ll pull out at each birthday.  So don’t forget to enjoy the ride 🙂

10 Tips for Bringing Home Another Baby |

More tips and reflections:

Playground Parkbench – What I Didn’t Expect from My Third Pregnancy: The good, the bad, and the surprising about a third pregnancy.

Mama Smiles – Raising Kids Who Get Along: Bringing Home a Younger Sibling: Great ideas here for positive ways to make older siblings feel special and important.

Tales of Beauty for Ashes – Letter to Myself After Baby #3: Beautiful letter about the ups and downs of bringing home a third baby – and how you will miss it all!

Makesovers and Motherhood – Dear Baby, Meet Your Siblings: Tips for getting kids excited about a new sibling and that special moment they meet.

How did you survive the early weeks of life with a new baby?

Oct 272015
 October 27, 2015  family, parenting Comments Off on One Simple Way to Really Be There For Your Kids

One Simple Way to Really Be There For Your Kids |

This post is not about crafts or activities or even about how to really talk to your kids.  Those are all important, but what I am going to share today is even more simple, straightforward, basic, and necessary.

If you want to really be there for your kids, make sure you will be there by doing early detection screening for breast cancer.

Simple.  Easy.  Necessary.

Yet so many women don’t do it.  We all get caught up in our busy lives, and doing a breast exam or getting a mammogram becomes just one more item in a never ending to-do list that we never quite seem to complete.

One Simple Way to Really Be There for Your Kids |

Like so many people these days, my life has been touched by cancer.  We nearly lost my sister-in-law to cancer just weeks after she and my brother married.  More recently, a dear friend has struggled with breast cancer, now thankfully in remission.  But I have lost two people close to me to cancer, one of them to breast cancer.

One left behind a daughter, who just celebrated her third birthday.  One has grandchildren that she never met, and a daughter who has to raise her children without her own mother to call on for advice.

One Simple Way to Really Be There for Your Kids |

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to raise your own awareness about the disease and what you can do about it.

Here are the facts:

  • Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women.  (Skin cancer is the first).
  • About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.
  • Approximately 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Early detection is key

The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms:

  • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years.
  • Breast self-exam (BSE) is also an option for women starting in their 20s.

What happens if I find something?

When detected early, the breast cancer survival rate is as high as 99 percent (!), but treatment can be expensive, so consider insurance policies to ease the financial burden and the worry.  Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments.  A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but for all those other expenses that can crop up: extra child care, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.

AFLACBecause when you or a family member is diagnosed with cancer, you should be able to focus on recovery not finances.  A cancer insurance policy can help you do just that.

Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day Pay(SM) initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.

Watch this video to see how Aflac’s cancer insurance policy helped one policyholder through her breast cancer journey.

2015 Pink Aflac Duck

How Aflac is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.  AACR is the first and largest cancer research organization in the world, with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer.

You can buy make a donation or buy campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.

Aflac Breast Awareness Campaign Infographic

Be there for your kids.  Do early detection screening for breast cancer.

Because I guarantee that what your kids really want for their next birthday is you sitting next to them when they blow out the candles.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Oct 232015
 October 23, 2015  family, Kid Fun, Sacramento Comments Off on Disney On Ice Dare to Dream Review

Disney on Ice Dare to Dream |

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

My son is really into zombies and Star Wars, so I have to admit I was worried about whether he would like a Disney on Ice show that focuses on princess stories, but I was pleasantly surprised at how entertained he was.  (Which is good, since his mama was having a great time!)

Disney on Ice Dare to Dream |

With all the pageantry and action, it’s hard for any child not to get caught up in the show.  While most kids really love the princesses, beautiful ice skating, and fancy costumes, others like mine might be more interested in the villains and many funny parts.  Either way, everyone will have a great time.  My personal favorite was Rapunzel and Flynn’s amazing high flying act, and little ones will love seeing Mickey Mouse and friends!

Disney on Ice Dare to Dream Review |

So whether you go for Cinderella and Snow White or for the evil witches and bumbling stepsisters, Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream is a wonderfully entertaining show for the whole family, with favorite moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog. Get a discount code below!

WHAT: Nothing can stop a princess from a celebration of royal proportions when Rapunzel, Tiana, Snow White and Cinderella star in the sensational ice skating production of Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt. Relive memorable moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog as a cast of world-class skaters brings the romance, humor and adventure of the films to life in this contemporary skating spectacular. Join your hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for a princess-packed adventure, Dare to Dream whisks audiences away on exciting journeys where dreams really do come true!

The big finale with all the Disney princesses! #disneyonice2015 #disney #sacramento #arcoarena

A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on

Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream WHEN: Thursday, October 22 – Sunday, October 25, 2015

o Thursday, Oct. 22 7:00 PM
o Friday, Oct. 23 7:00 PM
o Saturday, Oct. 24 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
o Sunday, Oct. 25 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

WHERE: Sleep Train Arena – 1 Sports Parkway, Sacramento CA 95834

TICKETS: Ticket prices start at just $17 with limited quantity of VIP and Front Row seating available Kids (age 2-12) tickets are only $10 for all shows (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating) Special Opening Night Discount tickets available for $12 on select seating (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating) All seats are reserved; tickets available thru, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Sleep Train Arena Box Office. *Tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees. Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream DISCOUNT CODE: Save $5 on Select Seats Code: MOM5 Valid on: $23 & $17 seats Valid on all shows Restrictions, exclusions, and additional charges may apply.

Sep 152015
 September 15, 2015  family, Kid Fun 8 Responses »

Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream GIVEAWAY |

Do you have a princess lover in your house?  Your kids can’t get enough of fairy tales?  Then you would love Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream, in which world class skaters bring to life favorite moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog.  Get a discount code below and enter for a chance to win a 4-pack of tickets to opening night at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on October 22, 2015!

 WHAT:        Nothing can stop a princess from a celebration of royal proportions when Rapunzel, Tiana, Snow White and Cinderella star in the sensational ice skating production of Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt.  Relive memorable moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog as a cast of world-class skaters brings the romance, humor and adventure of the films to life in this contemporary skating spectacular.  Join your hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for a princess-packed adventure, Dare to Dream whisks audiences away on exciting journeys where dreams really do come true!

Laugh at Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled, as Rapunzel; her unlikely companion, Flynn; and Maximus, the Captain of the Guard’s determined horse; embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths!  Travel to the enchanted forest with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as Snow White escapes from the Evil Queen in her search for her one true love.  Watch as fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true.  And boogie to the beat of the bayou in a magical, musical journey that celebrates the story of The Princess and the Frog with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.  Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit of the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream Presented by Stonyfield YoKids skates into your hometown!

Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream

WHEN:          Thursday, October 22 – Sunday, October 25, 2015

o   Thursday, Oct. 22          7:00 PM

o   Friday, Oct. 23               7:00 PM

o   Saturday, Oct. 24           11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

o   Sunday, Oct. 25              11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

WHERE:        Sleep Train Arena – 1 Sports Parkway, Sacramento CA 95834

TICKETS:          Ticket prices start at just $17 with limited quantity of VIP and Front Row seating available

Kids (age 2-12) tickets are only $10 for all shows (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating)

Special Opening Night Discount tickets available for $12 on select seating (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating)

All seats are reserved; tickets available thru, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Sleep Train Arena Box Office.  *Tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.

Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream

DISCOUNT CODE: Save $5 on Select Seats

Code: MOM5

Valid on: $23 & $17 seats

Valid on all shows

Restrictions, exclusions, and additional charges may apply.

GIVEAWAY: Enter below for a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to opening night on October 22, 2015, at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jul 152015
 July 15, 2015  family, parenting Comments Off on How to Protect Your Pregnant Belly from Your Active Toddler

How to Protect Your Pregnant Belly from Your Active Toddler |

My toddler loves our baby (which he calls “my baby”), even though s/he hasn’t been born yet.  He talks to my belly all the time (often doing both sides of the conversation), tickles it, and insists on snuggling up to it at night to go to sleep.  In fact, the other day he actually started crying because he was so tired of waiting for the baby to grow up so it could come out and play.

And yet.

He is still very young, and he is very active.  Which means that he doesn’t always understand when he is playing too rough (this holds true even when he is playing with his big brother!) and often doesn’t watch where his arms and legs are going when he is excited.

So how do you protect your pregnant belly from your active toddler?  Short-term, learn protective strategies, but long-term, start laying the groundwork for a happy, safe relationship between your toddler and new sibling.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.


Know the triggers.  It really helped me to identify those situations when I was most vulnerable to getting kicked or hit.  For example, I don’t wrestle on the floor with the boys anymore (a bit awkward in my current state anyway!), and if I’m going to tickle my toddler, I make sure to either secure his legs before they flail in my direction, or position myself up near his head to avoid them altogether.  And while thankfully he is now (mostly) potty trained, before that I very had to be careful when he was on the changing table.  For some reason he was always particularly squirrelly when lying there and at just the right height to kick my belly while he was squirming around.

Encourage calm activities.  Of course, your toddler needs plenty of space and room to get out his energy (such as with trips to the park), but at other times you need to rest and know that you won’t be pounced on.  If your little one is getting wild, be proactive in suggesting other, safer activities.  Niki of Play and Learn Everyday says, “After a particularly tiring day when I just needed to rest I would sometimes tell Ethan that the baby was sleeping, then he would cuddle up to my belly and we would rest together.”

How to Protect Your Pregnant Belly from Your Active Toddler |

Enlist support.  If there is an older sibling, s/he can play an invaluable role in encouraging appropriate behavior through both words and deeds.  Watching someone else (particularly someone they love to imitate) being gentle with your belly will help remind your toddler to do the same.  And older siblings can also help remind the little ones of the importance of taking care of the soon-to-be sibling.  Meghan of Playground Parkbench says: “My oldest has become official baby protector – the little one just doesn’t know any better. But my oldest is constantly telling her ‘don’t climb on Mommy because it will hurt the baby.'”


Use direct language.  Be very clear when explaining to your little one why it’s not okay to climb on Mommy or hit her belly.  Again, emphasize that there is a baby inside your belly, and that it is still small and growing, so we have to be very gentle.

Give positive examples.  Talk to your belly in the presence of your toddler, and show them how they can use their hands gently, and even snuggle up to the belly and give it kisses.  This is a great way to give positive reinforcement and encourage a healthy relationship between the siblings, rather than always telling your toddler what not to do.

Empower them with a protective role.  MaryAnne of Mama Smiles writes: “Some toddlers really respond to being made the “official baby protector” – in charge of making sure everyone is gentle with the baby bump.”  What a fantastic way to nurture those positive qualities within your child through giving them such an important job!

Foster a relationship with the baby.  We talk about the baby all the time, and encourage the kids to interact with him/her as well.  Toddlers are old enough to begin to understand that babies grow inside mommies’ bellies, so it’s a great time to encourage them to think about the baby inside the belly as a real person that they can show love and that they will meet very soon.  Once the baby’s kicks are hard enough for them to feel, this can be a really special way for them to interact with the baby and feel that the baby is “playing” with them.

We love Baby on the Way (Sears Children’s Library) from the Sears Children’s Library.  It does a great job of giving explanations in terms little ones can understand, while also including text boxes with more information for older kids.  I also love the portrait it paints of a family coming together to get ready for the baby’s arrival – and their excitement when the big day finally comes!

And long term, this is what it’s all about for me.  While it’s critical that you and the bump make it through the nine months without any serious mishaps, long-term you are also laying the foundation for a healthy, loving relationship between the baby and his/her older sibling.  The lessons you teach now about being gentle with your belly will translate into the beginnings of an understanding about how to act with the new baby once it’s born and as it continues to grow.

How did you encourage a special relationship between your toddler and new baby?

Jun 212015
 June 21, 2015  Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop, family, multiculturalism Comments Off on Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #28: Fathers in Art

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #28: Fathers in Art |

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can’t wait to see what you share this time!

Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.

This month our co-hosts are:

Crafty Moms Share on Multicultural Kid Blogs
La Cité des Vents
Crafty Moms Share
Castle View Academy
The Art Curator for Kids
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
All Done Monkey
Russian Step by Step for Children
Los Gringos Locos
Crazy Little Family Adventure
Life with My Koreans

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It’s very easy, and simple to participate!
Just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you’re following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don’t be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you’re featured, don’t forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Here’s my favorite from last time:

25 Views of Fathers in Art: The Art Curator for Kids

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m so pleased to feature this wonderful look at Fathers in Art from The Art Curator for Kids.  Treat yourself with taking a look at these amazing works of art!
Thank you for linking-up, and we can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

Mar 102015
 March 10, 2015  family, household, parenting Comments Off on Urbini Dream Nursery Contest!

Urbini Dream Nursery Contest

Disclosure: I participated in a Blog Blast Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Urbini. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Ah, those heady days before the arrival of your first baby!  Everything is so cute, so tiny, so exciting!

And yet, it’s also very overwhelming when you stop to realize that little person will be here very soon and you are not ready!  Besides the time needed to prepare your house for your new little one, it’s also an incredible financial burden.

And then, of course, there are those expecting a second child (or third, or fourth…), when money is even tighter, but you still wish you could splurge on something special for your new little bundle.

That’s why I’m so excited about the Urbini Dream Nursery Contest!

What’s so amazing about this contest is that not only could you win items for your nursery, if you win the grand prize the Urbini furniture designer will come to your house and design your nursery personally!  Really?? Yes!

And even if you aren’t expecting a baby, you can still enter to win prizes – see details below!

Here’s what you could win:

Grand Prize: One Urbini Crib, one Urbini Changing Table, one Urbini 6 Drawer Dresser, one Urbini Cubi Play Yard, plus a home visit by Urbini designer Rachel Dacks to personally design your nursery!

Second Prize: Choice of one Urbini Crib

Third Prize: One Urbini Cubi Play Yard

Sweepstakes Winners: In addition to the above, each day one randomly selected Sweepstakes participant will win a $50 Walmart Gift Card

Sounds great, now how do I enter?

If you are interested in the Grand, Second, or Third Prizes, post an Instagram photo to your personal Instagram account of the room you want to redesign.  Be sure to tag it #UrbiniDreamNursery and #Contest.

Contest ends March 18.

For all the contest details, plus how to enter to win the daily $50 Walmart Gift Cards, visit the Urbini Dream Nursery main page.  You can also enter the contest below:

Urbini Dream Nursery

Jan 232015
 January 23, 2015  family, Kid Fun, Sacramento 1 Response »

Monster Jam, Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento: This Weekend Only! January 24-25, 2015

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the Monster Jam®; however, all opinions are my own.

Does your child love trucks and vehicles and anything that goes vroom?  What about monster trucks, those massive vehicles that roar around an arena and crush other cars like pancakes??

If you answered yes, then don’t miss the Monster Jam, an amazing monster truck show going on this weekend at the Sleep Train Arena this weekend!

I am so excited to take my little monster truck lovers to this show!  They love watching monster trucks on TV, so I can’t wait to see their faces when we go to watch these twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines live!

But you have to act quickly, as the show is only in town this Saturday and Sunday (January 24 & 25, 2015).  If you can be sure to check out the pre-show party in the pits before the afternoon shows.

Saturday January 24 – Sunday January 25, 2015

Show Times
January 24: 2 PM & 7:30 PM
January 25: 2 PM

Ticket Information (Pricing)
Gold Circle – $65.50
Lower Level – $34
Upper Level – $23.50 (Adults) & $13.00 (Kids 2-12)

(Price Includes $2.50 fee and 5% City of Sacramento event fee)

Prices subject to change
Parking Info (Time and costs)
$12 (CASH ONLY)- Toll Plazas Open 2 Hours Before Start of Show

For more information, see the main event page.


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