Movie Review

Finding Dory Premiere

June 9, 2016

FIndingDory

Last night marked my son’s very first movie theater experience. (As well as his first movie premiere!) And it was a big one. The premiere for Finding Dory! Considering Dory and Nemo comprise 90% of his conversation topics at home, we knew it would be a big hit for him…and it was indeed!

We had been talking about the Finding Dory premiere for weeks with AJ. He watched the previews, and though he doesn’t quite understand the meaning of a “sequel,” he knew we were going to a movie to watch more “Dory” and “Nemo.” When we pulled up to the premiere on Hollywood Boulevard, he instantly expressed a look of excitement with a hint of confusion. He excitedly pointed at the large Dory and Nemo signs and figures, but looked a bit confused as he noticed the massive crowd of screaming fans, a sea of photographers producing a constant glow of white flashes, and a big blue carpet full of people posing and talking into microphones. (I’m sure he now has a bit of a warped idea of what ‘going to a movie’ means.) We made sure to arrive and walk the blue carpet just before the movie began as I didn’t want AJ to get restless sitting in the theater too long. (The people who arrived early had to sit and wait for well over an hour or so for the movie to start.) We saw several friends (mostly ones with kids) who came predominantly for their little one’s obsession with Disney movies, like ours. Below is a selfie with our friends Allison Holker, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, and their beautiful daughter Weslie. (I adore this family so much. Their handsome two-month old, Maddox, stayed home.)

IMG_9999 copy

AJ did great walking his first ‘blue’ carpet. (It was quite sunny so there was a lot of squinting.) He literally squealed with delight when he was given his little “Dory” bucket of popcorn –two of his favorite things in one. After being given a booster seat by one of the El Capitan Theater ushers, we sat and enjoyed watching AJ scan the beautiful theater with big eyes and lots of “wows.”

The movie itself was very enjoyable. Let me preface this by saying that I thought Finding Nemo was perfect in every sense of the word. I wasn’t expecting Finding Dory to be as good –afterall, what sequel is better than the first? For me, it didn’t match the perfection of Finding Nemo, but it was very close. It was incredibly cute, clever, funny (for kids and adults alike), and had a wonderful central theme of the importance of family. The storyline had a lot of moving parts and detours, which may have made it more challenging for the younger kids to fully understand and follow. Nevertheless, I loved the new characters, especially Destiny and Bailey, and appreciated how it cleverly tied in the history and tidbits of Finding Nemo. (For instance, I thought it was great to discover that Dory could actually speak “Whale” and loved the way they exposed how she learned to speak it.) AJ absolutely LOVED it, despite him clutching on to Daddy’s arm a couple of times during the suspenseful and scary moments. He was certainly smiling from ear to ear afterwards and was genuinely happy that (sorry…spoiler alert!) “Dory found Mommy and Daddy!”

After the movie, they had a huge premiere party with lots of fun kid activities including crafts, sand activities, photos with Dory, a mini trailer aquarium with live sea creatures, a huge inflatable slide, bubble machines, and an impressive sand mound of Finding Dory carvings. (We almost got in major trouble as AJ decided he wanted to help them in the sand box by attempting to hop in…luckily, I swooped in before he ruined any of the carvings. He did leave a footprint on the side, but it was quite minor compared to the damage he could have done.) They had a great buffet and dessert table (the whoopie pie sandwiches were my favorite), and adorable little Dory juice boxes for the kids.

IMG_2649  FindingDory4  FindingDory3

Overall, it was a fabulous and memorable evening with our little Dory-and-Nemo-lover. What a perfect film for AJ’s first experience in a movie theater! I highly recommend seeing Finding Dory when it comes out next week. I’m sure we will be seeing it again soon, as AJ woke up talking only about wanting to see Dory, Nemo and “Dory’s Mommy and Daddy” again. Thank you Pixar and Disney for another amazing movie with a lovely story and feel-good message. We loved it!

Birthdays Family

‘Let’s Have A Ball’ First Birthday Party

May 11, 2016

3R1A2749

And a ball we had! I have to say, this was one of the most fun (and easiest) birthday themes I’ve had the pleasure of throwing. I wanted the party (which served as the first official party thrown at our new house–woohoo!) to revolve around Anders’ favorite things and cute little personality. Since he is OBSESSED with balls, I thought he would be delighted with a yard and pool littered with his favorite toy…beach balls, bouncy balls, and literally any and every ball we owned. And indeed he was!

Here’s some highlights from the party:

  • Bouncy balls party favors. I was on the lookout for large bouncy balls and found them on sale at Target a couple of weeks before the party. Though it was a nightmare trying to navigate two carts full of bouncy balls with my toddler and infant by myself in the store (with constant runaway balls), it paid off. They were a huge hit!

3R1A2714

  • The Mobile Play Patch LA. This is the cutest soft play area setup that is perfectly age-appropriate for infants and toddlers. It’s the ultimate party play patch including a ball pit with over 1,000 balls! The bright colors definitely fit the theme of the party beautifully. The kids LOVED this! It can be set up indoors or out. You can check it out at themobileplaypatchla.com.

3R1A2886

  • Pool filled with beach balls. This was the perfect reason to finally inflate a 12-foot beach ball I found on Amazon a while back. (I used our air bed pump to fill it, which took a good twenty minutes.) It produced many “ooooo’s” and ahhhhh’s,” amusing kids and adults alike! (The small beach balls kept wanting to hover in the corner. Hence why my hubby is shown here trying to disperse the balls.)

3R1A2956

  • Cake and cupcakes. I made the cake and cupcakes the morning of the party using a fabulous applesauce-for-oil-substitute recipe. (Applesauce makes it super moist and, obviously, healthier.) A big thank you to my aunt who helped me frost all 30 cupcakes and three-tiered cake! We placed large, colorful gumballs on top to tie in the theme. Super cute!

3R1A2923  3R1A2870

  • DIY boards. The stats and ‘watch me grow’ boards are among my personal favorites. My ‘staple’ at all of my parties are typically some kind of photo board, quiz, fun facts wall, etc. There are stats boards you can order via Etsy, which are great, but I always love doing them myself. I like to personalize them more by adding corresponding photos. (This was one of those wait-til-the-kids-are-asleep projects that I completed around 1am one evening.:))

3R1A2741

  • Center Pieces. We created these an hour before the party from leftover items.  I must say, they turned out adorable. M&M’s, pinwheels, jars, and ta-daaaah! The perfect center piece!

pinwheels

Overall, it was a fabulous and fun day of celebrating our little one-year old on his first birthday. The kids loved the bright colors and balls galore. (I think the adults were big fans as well!) Even though I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of my little guy being one, I do know one thing for sure…he certainly had a ‘ball’ on his big day!

 

3R1A3302

 Photos by Ashley Burns

Products

The Cutest Personalized Gift Wrap

April 28, 2016

IMG_9510-3

I just wanted to share a new awesome find that I am absolutely in LOVE with! Recently, I was introduced to Stardust Prints at the Los Angeles SpringFest a couple of weeks ago. They had used a photo of my boys from my Instagram and gave me a roll of their personalized gift wrapping paper. Since then, I have ordered several more as they have some ADORABLE themes. (I’m beyond excited to utilize them for Christmas!)

Here’s how it works. Simply, log on to their website at stardustprints.com, pick from one of their charming designs, upload a photo (of you, your child, your pet, family, etc.) from your computer, Instagram or Facebook, select the quantity, and in a week you have the cutest personalized gift wrap (with free shipping!).  The ‘Center of the Universe,’ ‘Fairy Dust,’ and ‘Whoos Watching Over Me’ themes are my favorite. I am using the Center of the Universe gift wrap (shown above) for some Mother’s Day gifts. Clearly, my mom and mother-in-law are going to ADORE them! After all, don’t all grandparents love getting anything that is adorned with their grandchildren’s photo?

(NOTE:  Stardust Prints did not ask me to blog about them…I just love their product so much and wanted to spread the word!)

Disneyland Family

Our Most Magical Disney Experience Yet

April 8, 2016

3R1A4023

Growing up, my family made two trips to Disney World. The first was when I was three (from which I only remember getting my Mickey ears hat), and the second when I was eleven. I recall being so in awe of the whole Disney experience. From the corn dogs, the songs, the parades, the employees, to the rides, I loved how every square inch of the place was designed to make your experience a magical one. I remember afterwards begging my parents to move to Orlando because after all, shouldn’t that kind of magic and fun be experienced all the time? (Needless to say, we didn’t sell the family farm in Iowa and move to Orlando to become professional Disney-goers.)

Cut to present day, I am fortunate enough to have Disneyland 45 minutes away. I’ve had the great pleasure of enjoying the Disney experience several times with my stepdaughter, but we had only been once with my son AJ. We took him soon after his first birthday, which I admit, was a bit too soon. Even though he seemed to enjoy it, it was a far cry to what it means to him now. For starters, my son is a HUGE fan of Finding Nemo and Cars. If he could, he would watch these two movies all day, everyday. Thus, to see the sheer excitement in his eyes the first time he recognized his beloved Disney characters in ‘real life,’ was pure and utter joy. AJ was over the moon while exploring Cars Land, riding Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, meeting Lightening McQueen, checking out the Cozy Cone Motel, and admiring Stanley’s Statue. His excitement grew to a new level on the following day while watching Daddy film an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos around the Disneyland park. When AJ saw Daddy film a segment with Lightening McQueen, he truly viewed his Daddy on a whole new level of ‘coolness.’ AJ’s jaw dropped to the ground when he watched as his daddy shared laughs, gave high-fives, and seemingly started a friendship with his cherished Lightening McQueen. It quite literally left my toddler speechless. Daddy is friends with Lightening McQueen…say what!? 

IMG_7325-2

The high quality excitement and too-good-to-be-true reactions didn’t stop there. Perhaps AJ’s favorite was the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. He squealed and shouted “Nemo!” and “Dory!” every time he spotted them on the ride, which was quite frequently. (My apologies to those sitting near us.) My favorite was watching him jump out of his seat with more enthusiasm than I had ever seen from him during the Paint The Night Parade when seeing Nemo. It was truly a magical two days and it completely melted my heart to see my little boy be so moved by the Disney experience. I know he probably won’t remember this years from now, but I know my husband and I will. (I only have over 800 photos to show AJ when he’s older.) Though it wasn’t his first Disney experience, it was his first Disney visit where he was old enough to experience the ‘magic of Disney.’

3R1A3741  3R1A3520 3R1A3442

We had an extra-special treat during our Disney visit. My husband won a one-night stay in the Disney Dream Suite (at a Disney-related function) and we were fortunate enough to schedule it during the same weekend. For those of you who may not know, the Dream Suite is located upstairs from Pirates of the Caribbean. It was originally planned as a private apartment for Walt Disney to entertain special guests and to use for his family, but he passed away before it was completed. The suite is absolutely STUNNING! It is beautifully designed and captures the very essence of the Disney inspiration. (It even has an exquisite horse from a carousel that is reminiscent to the one Walt watched his daughters play on when he first dreamed up Disneyland.) The suite is full of special effects, including a special button in both bedrooms labeled “goodnight kiss.” You can push it up to three times for various ‘surprises’ that appear in the room. My personal favorite was the master bathroom where the large master bath had a gorgeous stained-glass window lit by tiny stars (including a hidden Mickey) in a dome-like setting. The kids were entranced with the fireplace, which had a lovely silhouette of the castle and firework-like sparks from the fake fire. Just like the way details are carefully looked at in the Disneyland park to ensure everything you’re surrounded by is magical and special at all times, the same holds true for the Disneyland Dream Suite. Love is shown in the details. They put a lot of love into this special space and it was truly a dream to be able to appreciate it.

IMG_7937

Once the guests had left and the park was officially closed, we all put on our bathrobes and ventured out with our lovely guide for a walk around the empty park. (We put our sleeping boys in the double stroller and took them along for our 12:30am-2am stroll around Disneyland.) It was surreal to be the only guests in the park. The guide was so sweet, as she was a trooper for agreeing to take so many pictures of us. And it was beyond fascinating to listen to our guide and learn about the little known facts and features as we aimlessly wandered around the park. The Main Street lights were still on so we took full-advantage of using the street for a little photo shoot involving clicking our heels in the air and acting like children again by doing silly Disney character poses. (My inner-child was never more awakened than during this trip!) We kept looking at each other saying, “OMG, can you believe we’re here?!” It was truly an unforgettable and amazing experience for all of us. (We had invited two of our biggest Disney-fan friends –legitimate Disney-addicts– as guests for the second bedroom in the suite.) Just like the first two days at Disney, I have a slue of photos from our truly enchanted middle-of-the-night adventure in Disneyland.:)

DSC_2487

Overall, it was by far the best Disney trip we have ever before experienced. Staying in the Dream Suite was much like a fairytale. Thank you Disneyland for the smiles and memories. We loved every second!

 

Photos by Ashley Burns & Angela Ribeiro

Parenting

Helping a Too-Rough Toddler with Baby Brother

March 29, 2016

IMG_6902

Perhaps the biggest news in the past month has been a change in my job title. I am no longer a Stay-At-Home Mom. Nope. I am now officially a full-time bodyguard for my 10-month old. The need to constantly protect him from his two-year old brother is a necessity these days, sadly.

Don’t get me wrong, AJ LOVES his little brother. He adores him to no end. He loves kissing him, holding his hand, and being sweet with him. However, sometimes he executes these gestures a little too forcefully. He will squeeze him too tightly while giving a hug or pull on his arm too much when trying to lead him to the playroom. (He would most likely drag him by a limb to the playroom if it weren’t for Mommy.) Moreover, AJ is a fireball of energy and can be a bit of a brute. He is constantly bouncing around the house and if something or someone is in his way, he has little regard. Thus, on numerous occasions throughout the day, I have to dive in front of speeding scooters, deflect toys thrown in Anders’ direction, and race to Anders’ aide when his big brother is trying to pick him up to move him to a spot as a ‘target’ to throw balls. And there’s always the tantrums after Anders takes a toy from AJ, or vice versa. Who knew that a little hand taking a three-inch Thomas the Train toy by his brothers’ side can result with end-of the-world level screams? Ultimately, you can NEVER turn your back when they’re together. (Hence the need for the job change!)

I know I’m not alone when I say that my toddler isn’t known for his “gentle” touch. And why should I expect him to be? He is a toddler. Toddlers aren’t developmentally programmed yet to treat things -like a baby sibling or a glass vase- with the tender care necessary. All I can do is try my best to help AJ learn a more gentle approach with his brother through continuous attempts of sticking to methods that show progress and abandoning ones that don’t. Every toddler learns and reacts differently, and I’m sure every toddler has different reasons for being rough. As for my son, here are some areas that I’ve found success in warding off aggressive behavior and seeing subtle progress with the word “gentle:”

  • Getting down on the floor several times during the day and playing with both of them is always key. I can help gear the play in a way that won’t lead to conflict and prevent them from taking each other’s toys and consequently, aggressive behavior.
  • I have them play separately when AJ isn’t playing kindly, and tell him to take a time-out and rejoin when he’s ready to play nicely. When he does play nicely with Anders, I am sure to always praise him.
  • We make sure to have individual time with each. I will take Anders out for a walk or to the front yard for some play time while Alfonso will take AJ to the living room and have a dance party together or go outside for some golf or baseball play time. We will then switch and do different activities with each. They both seem to thrive with individualized attention.
  • Starting up a creative “be gentle” game. I’ve come up with many variations, but the one that has seemed to work the best is simply lining up a bunch of objects and stuffed animals. I then challenge AJ to go down the line and if he can be gentle with each one, we do a choreographed celebration dance. Each time we do the dance, we add one movement (i.e. a turn, a wink, a wave, a clap, etc.).
  • I just purchased Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort, which was recommended by a few friends. I’m hoping to gain some more tips and guidance once I start reading it this week.

I would love to hear of more ideas or suggestions that have worked for others who have dealt with the same or similar issue. I’m all ears!!

Baking Cookies Recipes

No-Bake Paleo Cookies

January 31, 2016

nobakecookie

After posting a picture of my No-Bake Paleo Cookies on Instagram last week, I received a slew of messages asking for the recipe. Whether you eat Paleo or not, it’s a great, easy and healthier dessert option. After all, isn’t it rather exciting to come across super yummy dessert recipes that DON’T involve any sugar?? My family and friends LOVE them, and I’m sure you will too! Here you go:

No-Bake Paleo Cookies

Ingredients

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1  1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/3 cup almond butter

2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut

Pour honey, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute and immediately remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and almond butter until blended well. Stir in shredded coconut. Scoop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper (or wax paper) and refrigerate until hardened. You can store at room temperature, but I always prefer to keep them in the fridge! Enjoy!!

 

Friends

Prayers & Support For A Special Friend

January 21, 2016

 

Angela_0396

I remember the moment my nearest and dearest friend told me the news that she had cancer. It was a couple of months ago and I was nursing my at-the-time six-month old while talking to her on the phone.

“I have breast cancer,” she said, very straightforwardly.

The words –which seemed to have come out of nowhere—sent me into a moment of shock and disbelief.

“Wait…what did you just say?” I asked.

She repeated the dreaded phrase in an ever-so-calm manner.

“I have breast cancer.”

My heart sank. This overwhelming sensation of sadness took over my entire body. My friend Jen is the most fit and healthy person I know. She’s a personal trainer, Pilates instructor, nutritionist, and the biggest health nut I’ve ever known. She was the last friend of mine I would EVER imagine telling me that she had cancer. But as we all know, cancer doesn’t care who you are or what you do…it can affect anyone. And believe me, I was beyond pissed that cancer came to mess with my girl who has been a big sister to me for the past 13 years. She was the first person I met in Los Angeles and has been my BFF ever since. From being in my wedding to witnessing my sons’ births, we’ve shared every milestone together for the last decade. (She also happens to be my husband’s personal trainer…and a phenomenal one at that!)

Jen’s sister, Netti, was also diagnosed with cancer just this past week. She has uterine cancer that has spread. Jen and Netti have a gene mutation that accelerates tumor growth (benign or malignant), and in order to turn off this gene mutation, they are seeking alternative treatment. Insurance does not cover this. They need to raise a lot of money in a very short period of time. I encourage you to read the attached link and support these lovely ladies no matter how big or small. Or if you should know of someone who may want to help, please forward the link along. Please keep them in your prayers. With deepest thanks.:)

FullSizeRender-8

Here’s the link:  https://www.gofundme.com/Far-Netti

 

 

Baby Products Toddler Products

Favorite 2015 Baby & Toddler Products

December 17, 2015

Earlier this month, we had the great pleasure of attending the 2015 Secret Santa’s Workshop here in Los Angeles. It was a fun family day of photos with Santa, great activities for the kiddos, delicious food, learning about amazing new products, and supporting a great charity–the L.A. Family Housing. Bill Horn and Scout Masterson of Marque Communications did a phenomenal job putting on such an enjoyable and entertaining event! We’ve had some time to try out some of the amazing products we brought home that day. (It was an early Christmas for the Ribeiro family!) I wanted to share some of my favorites with you…

  1.  Ju-Ju-Be Monarch Diaper Bag. Prior to my new Ju-Ju-Be “The Monarch” Diaper Bag, my previous bags were never quite large enough for everything I needed, especially for two little ones. With my Ju-Ju-Be bag, I can fit everything I need with ease. Additionally, the special features truly make this the ultimate diaper bag. To name a few, it contains a memory foam changing pad, picture pocket to keep photos handy (or in my case, I’ve been currently putting the hard copies of Santa photos in there or polaroids from birthday parties), exterior insulated bottle packets, color-coded tabs to designate a pocket to each child, crumb drains, quiet magnets (no loud velcro!), a super-organized mommy pocket that is big enough to fit all of my needs, and it’s machine washable. Best. Diaper. Bag. Ever. Period.

Ju-Ju-Be The Monarch - Be Prepared

  1. Chatbooks. My son AJ is constantly trying to take my phone to look at photos of him and his siblings. Now he is perfectly happy taking one of our Chatbooks and flipping through it to see all of Daddy and Mommy’s Instagram photos in the past year. Essentially, Chatbooks is an easy and affordable way to keep your Instagram, Facebook or any phone photos in a book. Aside from that, they are great little entertainment books to add to the coffee table! Best yet, they’re only $8/per book!

IMG_9818

  1. 4moms Origami Stroller & High Chair. Even though my favorite strollers have long been the Uppababy Vista and the Orbit (both for different reasons), there’s a new one that I am in absolutely in LOVE with! The Origami from 4moms opens and closes at the touch of a button. Yes, you read it right…you simply push a button! How much better could it get than that!? (My husband’s jaw literally dropped to the floor when he saw it work). But the impressive features don’t end there! The Origami includes a LCD dashboard (with thermometer, speedometer and trip odometers), four-wheel suspension, self-charging generators in the wheels, and pathway lights. It’s like a stroller straight out of an episode of The Jetson’s. Their highchair is just as revolutionary. The 4moms High Chair alleviates all of the challenges of most highchairs –or at least the ones that I’ve ever used. It has a seat insert (making it incredibly easy to clean), adjustable height with three different settings, magnetic tray top (making it easy to slide on and helps keep bowls in place minimizing a mess), and a removable tray liner that is dishwasher safe. Can you say “dream highchair?”

4moms Origami blue   Screen-Shot-2015-10-16-at-5.41.01-PM

  1. Mini2Go Micro Scooter. The Mini2Go is a rido-on that converts to a stand-up three-wheel scooter with a T-bar. It’s an indoor/outdoor ride as it has non-marking wheels. (Hallelujah!) In addition, while it’s in the ride-on phase, there is a drawer that slides in so that your toddler can put toys inside to bring along on a ride. AJ is on this day in and day out right now.

mini2go_stage1_1

  1. Joovy Boob Baby Bottle. My 7-month old has been a bit of a stinker when it comes to taking a bottle. Whether it’s water or breastmilk in a bottle, it doesn’t matter to him. He ALWAYS prefers being nursed and will hold off for the ‘good stuff,’ even if it leaves him hungry. (It’s never fun when you’re on date night with the hubs or at an event and you get a text from the sitter saying “Anders won’t take his bottle…again.”) Since using the Boob Baby Bottle, Anders has been drinking from the bottle with no issues or fussing. AMAZING! I realize all babies are different with different preferences for bottles, but this has been a godsend for us! The nipple is designed to simulate natural breastfeeding. In addition, it keeps liquids at the desired temperature for longer periods of time with an insulator in the bottle. Very cool!

00258_PPSU_5oz_Package

Some of my other favorites from the event: Orbit Baby Stroller (we’ve had ours for over a year now and love, love, LOVE it! The ease of this stroller with the carseat for Anders, and the protective covering on the handle bar for an ipad is awesome!), Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier, Modern Burlap (these swaddles/blankets have the BEST designs…my favorite is the world map design), Build-A-Bear (the holiday season reindeers they have are utterly adorable), Joovy’s Spoon Walker (Anders personal favorite), and Weangreen’s Modern Glass Storage (these are amazing recyclable material-glass baby food/whole family containers with the best lids ever)! Please let me know if there are any new products from this year that you love. I’m always intrigued with new baby products!

 

 

Family

Moving: Toddler Transitionings & Unpacking a New Home

December 1, 2015

thumbnail

“Moving was a great idea until I started packing.” I love this quote as it couldn’t ring more true to our recent moving experience. Don’t get me wrong, I was INCREDIBLY excited to move. However, the actual process of packing? Pure and utter torture!

It’s only when you move do you discover just how much “stuff” you’ve accumulated through the years. I made a handful of trips to the dumpster and another six to the Goodwill with my car stuffed to the brim. Do we really need 100 copies of Alfonso’s headshots from 1990? Or a neon green bowling ball bag? Or a collection of hats and shirts from the University of New Mexico? (We have zero connection to the school, as I haven’t the faintest idea how we acquired them!?) All I can say is the local Goodwill has quite the assortment of ‘interesting’ items from the Ribeiro house!

Although we are officially moved in, we are nowhere near being fully unpacked. I have the most important rooms settled (i.e. kitchen, living room, nurseries). The kitchen was my first priority as that enabled me to properly host our first Thanksgiving in the new pad. It was certainly an ambitious undertaking on my part since we had moved in just two weeks prior and agreed to have a Thanksgiving feast for twenty people. (Yes, TWENTY!) Fortunately, it turned out absolutely perfect. We had family and friends, most of which were our DWTS family. It was a wonderful afternoon of watching football, hanging out, playing Guesstures (my team, “Team Emma,” won!), eating lots of amazing food (my hubby cooked three delicious turkeys), and watching AJ dance with his favorite DWTS dancers.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I’m trying to focus on finishing the unpacking process and helping my son, AJ, better transition to our new home. One of the main reasons why I don’t have more unpacked is the fact that I’ve been focusing more on AJ and less on the boxes. It’s so much for a two-year old to process and comprehend. Prior to the moving process, I did my own research on ways to help a toddler deal with this new change. I knew there would be no ‘one size fits all’ method, as moving impacts every child differently. I had hoped since we travel quite extensively for my husband’s work, it wouldn’t be as bad for AJ. (Clearly, I’m not as concerned for Anders transition as he is only seven-months old.) I found tons of great tips on the internet, some of which worked better than others. For starters, I read AJ numerous books about moving and brought him to the new house several times before moving day so he could get acquainted with the place beforehand. (I made sure to bring some of his favorite toys to play with each time so he could always have a positive experience.) We had daily discussions with him about moving, and even though I’m sure he didn’t understand everything, I feel this helped. We also tried to maintain his normal routine as best we could throughout the experience, which was VERY challenging given the stresses and craziness associated with moving. Though he is getting better, he is still a bit confused and has become more clingy since being in the new house –which based on my readings, seems to be rather normal.

In an attempt to create a sense of closure, we made a family trip to our old house over the weekend to say “good-bye” thinking it would help AJ (and all of us). He seemed to understand the gesture more than what we anticipated. It was more emotional for me as it’s always difficult leaving a place where you made so many wonderful memories. And I admit, it saddens me knowing AJ (and Anders) probably won’t have a single memory of our old home. Luckily enough, I only have about 10,000 photos to show them when they’re older.;)

We continue to help AJ the best we can with this change. We have certainly rocked his world and know it’s only a matter of time before he adjusts to his new surroundings. I would love to hear about your moving experiences with little ones and how they handled the transition.

Birthdays Family

Birthday Party Recap

October 28, 2015

Bring on the Two’s! We celebrated AJ’s second birthday over the weekend and had an amazing time! His actual birthday was yesterday. Hopefully turning two on “twosday” has some hidden meaning? Like being indicative of the “Terrific Two’s” rather than the “Terrible Two’s?” A mom can hope, right?!

Normally, I would spend the two weeks leading up to a birthday party going Pinterest-crazy. I typically gather around 20 ideas and complete about five of them. (My two staples are always a fun photo collage and a yearly stats board — like the printable stat boards on Etsy, but I always make my own.) However, after being in full-out moving mode and having to pack my house up with every spare minute, it left little time and energy to tackle any of my craft ideas. (Also the reason why I haven’t posted in a month!) Thus, I kept the party small, simple, and fun. We only invited five toddler friends of AJ’s, (i.e. our nearest and dearest friends with kids AJ’s age who he sees often). Since a few brought their younger infant siblings, we also had a designated area for the babies. We were very happy we kept it small as it enabled us to catch up and chat with everyone while still keeping a watchful eye on the kiddos.

Here are some of the highlights and activities from the big day:

Toddler Town 3-In-1 Bouncer: I rented a combo bouncer for toddlers which included a bouncer, two slides, and a little obstacle course. Understandably, this was a huge hit. Since there were only about three toddlers playing inside at once, it made it nice and easy to monitor. I think AJ went down the slide at least 100 times!

IMG_7998

Barney Character: My son is OBSESSED with Barney! Absolutely addicted! So the fact that the biggest celebrity in the world (to him) came to his party was basically the highlight of his life! He was almost in disbelief when he saw his favorite purple dinosaur prancing down the lawn towards the party with the Barney music playing. I’ve never seen him so excited. Barney danced and sang with the kids, followed by a grand goodbye ceremony – during which AJ was quite devastated to see him leave.

IMG_4658

Animal Balloons & Face Painting: After Barney’s exit, the Barney character changed and came back out to make animal balloons and face paint — or in AJ’s case, arm paint. Since, apparently, two is the age where kids enjoy popping balloons more than playing with them, the face painting seemed to be the most encouraged option by the parents.:)

IMG_4862

Pool of Balls: For the infants – including my five-month old – I bought a $7 wading pool and filled it with 200 non-toxic crush-proof balls. All four infants LOVED it! Anders kept refusing to be taken out.

IMG_7878

Music: We brought our music system to play for the Barney hour. However, it turned out to be more useful simply by providing music for AJ to dance. AJ, who is a dancing machine thanks to DWTS and our DWTS friends, danced the afternoon away. The other toddlers would join in frequently which offered many giggles and smiles for the camera. (AJ’s current favorite song is “Bye Bye Bye” from N’Sync thanks to his super cool babysitter who loves all things 90’s. AJ even has his own signature choreography for the song.)

Overall, it was a wonderful party filled with great entertainment, good eats, and some incredibly happy toddlers. Sometimes small and simple can be a great thing! Let the “Terrific Two’s” begin! (Fingers crossed!)

 

 

 

Images by Ashley Burns and myself.