Surviving Disney with Baby & Toddler!

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How many times have you heard, "Wait until your kids are older before you take them to Disney"? Or just generally thought that the struggle to go wouldn't be worth it? There are many that criticize bringing younger children to Disneyworld, but rest assured, Disney will make even the smallest guests feel welcome! As we are preparing for our first trip with young children this fall, I have discovered some tips to set a parents mind at ease when grappling with the fear of how to navigate the happiest place on earth with children that are preschool aged and under. 

www.yourfirstvisit.net  is an awesome resource for this type of stuff!

www.yourfirstvisit.net is an awesome resource for this type of stuff!

 

  • Get to the park early
    • Hit up Fantasy Land as soon as the park opens and enjoy some reprieve while this area isn't super busy yet. Fantasy land has the largest number of rides for toddlers!  
  • Work with a Disney planner! They are completely free, answer all your questions (big or small), book your meal reservations, character meals, book specialty add ons, and find the best deals before anyone else!!! Cheryl Popoutsis is ours and she has the experience of being a lifelong Disney vacationer and goes there every year. You can't beat her knowledge and experience and she has made the planning process exponentially less stressful. It's like having a wedding planner you don't have to pay for!  The best way for a stress free planning experience.  
  • Get a babysitter, parents need fun too!
    • If you aren't lucky enough to have grandparents tag along for help, Disney offers in room child care services and childcare activity centers! 

 

All in all, Disneyworld is an overwhelming place. And if you are only ever going to go once in your life, waiting until your children are older is probably a good idea. But if you want to make this magical location a destination you go back to time and time again, just remember that you aren't going to fit everything in. Enjoy what the parks have to offer for the different stages your children are in, and watch their eyes light up each and every time. With toddlers specifically it seems best to stay on sight, go back for naps, cool off in the baby care centers, and just enjoy what they can enjoy for now. Vacations are always the best when you don't push yourself too hard and that is something I have to remind myself time and time again. Making an itinerary with your Disney planner is a good way to ensure that you aren't overwhelmed by all the options and figure out what rides you just have to go on before you even get there. 

 Comment below with toddler Disney tips! Let's make this post a great resource   for parents ready to brave the journey! 

Americana Style & Sweets - Fourth of July Weekend

4th of July weekend is upon us! It's my absolute favorite holiday! Or is every holiday my favorite?... Hmm.... Nonetheless, I love it! You know I'll be in the kitchen baking up desserts to compliment the barbecues, and the fam will be decked out in red, white, and blue.  

Check out my simple outfit picks for the littles below! 

 

This  Janie and Jack romper  would make the cutest little patriotic sailor!  

This Janie and Jack romper would make the cutest little patriotic sailor!  

Matching dress for big siste from  Janie and Jack ! 

Matching dress for big siste from Janie and Jack

Simple button down from  Old Navy  for big brother.  

Simple button down from Old Navy for big brother.  

Sass it up a bit with this tank from  Roman and Leo !  Designer: Prefresh

Sass it up a bit with this tank from Roman and Leo!  Designer: Prefresh

 

What about dessert you say? Here are my top choices. If only I could make them all!  

 

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Oreo pops are always so fun and easy! Tutorial here:  http://www.happinessishomemade.net/2015/06/11/patriotic-oreo-pops-for-4th-of-july/

Have an amazing long weekend readers! Enjoy that precious family time! If you're local to Columbus here's a link to some ideas of what to do around the city from our very own  Columbus Moms Blog  --> http://columbus.citymomsblog.com/activities/4th-july-fireworks-around-columbus-2016/

We'll be enjoying all the Hilliard activities starting with the parade Monday morning and then heading to Municipal Park for the carnival and evening fireworks. 'Murica. 

North Market & Mothers Day Weekend

This past Mothers Day weekend we skipped the breakfast in bed and crafts and opted for some fun family activities. Lucky for us Saturday was Free Comic Book Day! (It's always the first Saturday in May each year) We chose Packrat Comics in Hilliard and had a wonderful time. Not only free comics but inflatables, photo ops, games, food, artist meet and greets. We were blown out of the water and my 4 year old son has been talking about comics ever since. It also gave us an opportunity to see the amazing things a local business in our community has to offer and we will definitely be back. 

 

"Spider girl, spider girl. Does whatever a spider girl does" 

"Spider girl, spider girl. Does whatever a spider girl does" 

Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest
Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest

Stimulate your child's love for reading and celebrate one of my favorite story telling mediums, comics. There's a much wider selection than just superheroes and for some children, this is one of the only things they can get excited about reading. Free comic book day may be over but I bet they have a lot of these freebies still hanging around the store so here's a run down on all the free samplers that were released this past weekend from one of favorite journalists, Glen Weldon. (Hint: click on hyperlinked name)

Sunday we hit up North Market to grab some tasty eats and then let the kids run out some energy at Goodale Park

North Market was established in 1876 and features 35+ vendors. You can shop for flowers, meat, fish, produce, specialty items, and my favorite, pastries. Not to mention eat at all the amazing food stalls. We just have to keep going back again and again so that I can try everything there is to eat there but, considering the crowd, we went with our tried and true favorites. Hot Chicken Takeover for lunch and Pistacia Vera and Jeni's Ice cream for dessert. We enjoyed it, the kids enjoyed it. You have to go, and you have to take the kids because they will be entranced by all the colors, smells, people, etc. Just go, and go again. And again. 

 

Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest
Hot Chicken Takeover

Hot Chicken Takeover

Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest
It really will!  

It really will!  

Sneaking a macaron early  

Sneaking a macaron early  

Lots of seating on the upper level of North Market!  

Lots of seating on the upper level of North Market!  

Our favorite flavors are pistachio honey and wild berry lavender! 

Our favorite flavors are pistachio honey and wild berry lavender! 

Mesmerized.... 

Mesmerized.... 

I definitely keep them strapped in as we stroll through the market but they don't seem to mind

I definitely keep them strapped in as we stroll through the market but they don't seem to mind

Sweet tea from Hot Chicken Takeover! 

Sweet tea from Hot Chicken Takeover! 

Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest
Columbus | North Market | Blog | A Mommy Nearest

Hope our adventure encourages all you parents out there to take your kids to Norh Market. It's definitely a repeat outing and Goodale Park is just right up the street to take your sweets! <3

How to Explain the Meaning of Easter to Kids

Depending on your religious preference, Easter can mean so many things to so many people. The ringing of a new Spring season or celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or both! It is absolutely one of my favorite times of the year and I certainly don't need to search my brain for new and fun activities for the kids because Easter is chock full of wonderful events and celebrations in just about every community. 

If you are a part of a church community Easter can be such a special time for kids when they go all out with fun activities that they both enjoy and learn from. Sometimes the meaning of Easter can be a hard subject for little kids because it brings up themes like death and well, torture really. Some pretty dark stuff. At the same time, you may not want to keep Easter as something that is all about bunnies either. It certainly can be a complicated conversation but some great tips are to just explore some major themes and connect that with the themes of spring. Death and rebirth, brokenness and healing, sin and salvation. All the new budding flowers and plants coming up are a great way to explain the comings of spring and the true meaning of Easter. The idea of new life is a major theme of Easter and in my opinion, is the easiest to understand for small children. 

Pretty cheesy bunny, but kids love him right?&nbsp;

Pretty cheesy bunny, but kids love him right? 

Before you discount the Easter bunny as being pagan foolishness, the mammal is an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. There it is again, new life. The bunny, new life, spring, it all ties in. What about those Easter eggs the bunny supposedly delivers? Some say Easter eggs represent the emergence from the tomb / resurrection. Decorating eggs also dates back to the 13 century where people would decorate this formerly, Lenten -forboden food during Lent and then eat them on Easter as part of the celebration. 

I'm no Rechenka so we rolled our eggs in cool whip and food coloring :)

I'm no Rechenka so we rolled our eggs in cool whip and food coloring :)

 

In other cultures, Easter involves some darker and more serious traditions, But the underlying theme seems to still be a welcoming of the spring season and a purification of the body and soul. Sometimes modern culture seems to water down the original traditional celebrations but if you just take some time to meditate on what this holiday really means and represents to you, you can soon find an explanation for your children that can mean more than a basket full of toys and candy. 

And if you are not Christian, or not religious at all, spring is still something to celebrate! For us Midwesterners who have been stuck in the winter doldrums, we can finally enjoy the outdoors again and if that isn't a reason to go out and do fun, spring related activities, I don't know what is. 

 

Fun with animals at our church Easter carnival!

Fun with animals at our church Easter carnival!

Fun dying Easter Eggs! If you use Cool Whip instead of shaving cream, you can feel secure eating the eggs later. Or better yet! Make a colorful deviled eggs appetizer. The food dye will most likely have seeped through to the egg white.&nbsp;

Fun dying Easter Eggs! If you use Cool Whip instead of shaving cream, you can feel secure eating the eggs later. Or better yet! Make a colorful deviled eggs appetizer. The food dye will most likely have seeped through to the egg white. 

These eggs were blown out and dyed with nail polish! Just put drops of various nail polish colors in luke warm water and roll your egg along the surface. Use gloves and crack a window for the smell :p

These eggs were blown out and dyed with nail polish! Just put drops of various nail polish colors in luke warm water and roll your egg along the surface. Use gloves and crack a window for the smell :p

We wish you all a very "Hoppy" Easter and a glorious spring season. 

St. Patrick's Day With The Kids

I suppose I should probably rename this blog and go with something like ... "Last Minute Mom" since you can be sure the kids and I won't do any themed crafts or snacks until the night before or the morning of. But what this means for you is that everything I whip up can be done with items you may already have around the house or with just a quick trip to the store. Working second shift, I only have the morning to really hang out and do fun activities with the kids so everything seen here was able to be completed in just a few hours during our morning together. This morning in fact!  

 Crafts

  1. Toilet paper Leprechaun hats
  2. Toilet paper leprechauns
  3. Shamrock wands

 

Toilet paper rolls have never looked so adorable! 

Toilet paper rolls have never looked so adorable! 

Snacks 

  1. Shamrock Pretzel Pops
  2. Lucky Charm Jello
  3. Lucky Charm Pancakes
  4. Shamrock shaped cookies
  5. St. Party's Day cake pop

 

Why so serious? 

Why so serious? 

Nom nom nom..... She's the dessert lover in the fam if you can't tell

Nom nom nom..... She's the dessert lover in the fam if you can't tell

Cake pop love. Also, these St. Patrick day tees from Riverbabethreads are the cutest. Crown courtesy of littleblueolive (etsy)

Cake pop love. Also, these St. Patrick day tees from Riverbabethreads are the cutest. Crown courtesy of littleblueolive (etsy)

When you are done crafting, head out to the driveway, break out the sidewalk chalk, and decorate it with shamrocks and anything green! Great distraction while the crafts dry and eating messy snacks outside is always a treat. Not to mention less clean up for mom. 

 

Top off off your afternoon or evening with a fun Leprechaun themed movie or maybe read about the real St. Patrick and use the holiday to learn about a new country! 

 

Slainte and Erin Go Bragh to all my readers <3  

 

A Moms Valentines Day With Kids

Valentine's Day. Yes it's a fake holiday that Hallmark probably invented but when you have kids it's so much fun! Honestly, I pretty much use every possible holiday as an excuse to go out of my way to bake or craft something with the kids. I inevitably get in over my head and stay up until 3 am finishing these quarter started projects, but I still enjoy the satisfaction of another holiday spent with my youngins' and hopefully we have solidified memories for years to come. I want my children to look back on their childhood and remember all the birthday parties, desserts, and art projects we made together. Of course they probably won't remember the specifics but to have that general feeling of happiness and magic when you think back to being a kid is just so important. I always remember my mother baking the cakes and cupcakes for our birthdays or family events and I also remember that there was always a celebration for our birthday and major holidays no matter how big or small. Now that I am a mom, I know that there are more tears and stress involved than I ever imagined. It all seems so small and inconsequential until you see the joy on those little faces and you know it was all worth it. They are just kids who get excited about everything and I love to do anything to maintain that constant state of excitement and wonder. 

The awesome thing about being a mother in this day and age is that Pinterest exists. I am so NOT artistic and creative and I love the abundance of ideas available at my fingertips. Michelle at www.craftymorning.com had super cute monkey valentines we made out of the kids handprints. If there are two things kids love, it is smearing themselves in paint, and monkeys. With three kids under three, the best art projects for us involve handprints and footprints. I also cut out a ton of hearts in various colors for them to glue on construction paper and make things like a love caterpillar and cat. And who are all these valentines for?! Cousins and grandparents of course! And the kids get to have the "exciting" experience of mailing them out themselves. Plus, this gives me a couple years of perfecting my mommy skills before I have to make a gazillion for classmates. Fingers crossed for small class sizes. Check out my V-day Pinterest board for the specifics.  

Fun treats to make with kids for Valentines Day
Tin of cookies for kids valentines day

On to the baked goods! I am STILL burned out from Thanksgiving / Christmas baking and could not bring myself to go crazy for this holiday. I have wandered into the magical world of no-bake goods and we made heart shaped, chocolate covered, oreo truffles. Basically just involved crushing a whole package of oreos, mixing the crumbs with cream cheese, rolling out a slab of the concotion and cutting out hearts to be dipped in melted white chocolate. We also made heart shaped rice krispies and added some food dye. Super easy, took about an hour to make both. 

Rice krispie hearts on a stick!

Rice krispie hearts on a stick!

Charlie and the chocolate oreo truffles &lt;3

Charlie and the chocolate oreo truffles <3

Valentines Day popcorn for our special movie night. Ingredients include golden grahams, mini marshmallows, and valentine m&amp;ms.

Valentines Day popcorn for our special movie night. Ingredients include golden grahams, mini marshmallows, and valentine m&ms.

Use a heart shaped cookie cutter for Jello Jigglers!

Use a heart shaped cookie cutter for Jello Jigglers!

What to wear? Oh just adorable t-shirts from Moots Clothing and River Babe Threads. I'm a sucker for a cute tee for the tots and I decided to go up a size so they would be baggy this year, and fitted next year. Hopefully. 

Kids valentines day outfit
The King and Queen of Hearts shirts from Moots Clothing were perfect for this years V-day.&nbsp;

The King and Queen of Hearts shirts from Moots Clothing were perfect for this years V-day. 

Shirt courtesy of River Babe Threads

Shirt courtesy of River Babe Threads

Baby Cupid with wings from Wishing Elephant and crown headband from Willow Crowns

Baby Cupid with wings from Wishing Elephant and crown headband from Willow Crowns

Use this fabricated holiday to show your love to your kids in fun and creative ways. For children this holiday is very real and special and fake or not, it's all about L-O-V-E.