Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recent Toddler Approved Projects

This year I have been blessed to team up with a really creative crew of blogging friends and launch THREE e-books!

My friend Cathy from the UK who blogs at NurtureStore spearheaded the three collaborative projects and I have learned so much about marketing from her. Now I just need to find time to put everything I learned into practice.

Here are the three e-books if you feel like checking them out. Our most recent one launched earlier this week and is all about science & math!

Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities

Three to Five: Playful Preschool

Zero to Two: The Book of Play

Ryan Turns 2!

Ryan had a pretty awesome birthday. We kicked it off the night before by blowing up balloons and decorating his bedroom door.

On Monday morning he slept in until 8am (love that kid!) and then I woke him up singing "Happy Birthday." He loved the signs everyone made for him and we went downstairs and I made him birthday pancakes in the shape of a 2! We put a candle on it and sprinkles and he was in heaven. He kept sayinng, "I'm two" and "It's my birthday!"

After we dropped Andrew off at school we got the house ready for a little Halloween get together with the friends that I visit teach from church and their kids. We spent the morning cleaning up, making food for the party, playing with toys, and reading books!

The friends arrived for lunch around 12:30pm and we dived right into food. I made mummy hot dogs for the kids and pizza and salad for the moms. The kids liked my ghost cheese sticks too. I was also a huge fan of the sugar cookie bars. The night before they didn't taste good at all, but the next day they were delicious.

During the party the kids mostly played while the grown ups chatted. I did have a few crafts ready to go for the kids who were interested in crafting. It was cute to see how everything turned out.

After the party we picked Andrew up and just played at the house and did Ryan's favorite things--- play trains and jump on the trampoline.

Kevin ended up getting home early compared to normal (5:30pm) so we packed the kids into the car quickly and tried to drive the 40 minutes to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm super fast before it got dark. It was practically dark when we got there at 6:30, but they were really nice and still let us play in the play area for 15 minutes AND they didn't make us pay. Highlight of the day!

Dried bean sensory pit!

Hay bale tunnels!

Picking pumpkins

Afterwards we stopped at Cold Stone for some birthday ice cream and then we drove home. The little dude finished his ice cream in the car and by the time we got home he was covered head to toe in stickiness!

Ryan loved chatting with Grandma Julie & Grandpa Kim as well as Grandma Shari before he went to bed. He only got to open two presents on his birthday because his big day was so packed, so on Tuesday he opened all of them and LOVED them... as did the big kids!

On Tuesday he had his two year old well-child visit and it went really well! I can't seem to find the paper with his stats on them but he is close to 29 pounds and is in the 79% for weight and then is in the 98% for height... though I can't remember how tall he is. The doctor says going from her measurements he's going to be a tall one (6' 2 or 6' 4)! Should be fun to see how things turn out.

We sure LOVE Ryan!

Some things about Ryan right now are...

  • He wears size 5 diapers and size 2-3T clothes
  • He loves dogs, trains, and trucks.
  • He is obsessed with jumping on our trampoline but only wants to jump if one of the other kids will jump with him... he is also really good at persuading people to do what he wants
  • He loves to copy any and everything the big kids say (good and bad). He currently keeps saying, "you're dumb" when he is mad... thanks to the big kids. :(
  • Ryan is a great little talker and we can understand probably 90% of what he says. He is so happy and such a sweetheart! My favorite thing is says is, "I love you mami" and "Come too?" He never wants to be left out of doing anything. It is adorable! He definitely thinks he is bigger than he is.
  • Ryan gives the best hugs and tuba kisses.
  • Ryan loves to have mama help him with everything instead of letting the big kids help him. I am relishing everyone moment of it right now because this kid is such a snuggle bug.
  • Ryan goes to bed between 7-7:30pm and wakes up anytime between 7-8am. He also usually takes one 2 hour nap during the day... but sometimes he just gets to be flexible and skip it since we have stuff to do.
  • Every night Ryan sleeps with his special "dog dog" that is dirty and gross along with trains and a cozy blue blanket made for him by my Aunt Viki. He also uses a sound machine for white noise.
  • Ryan loves reading!

Here's Catie at age 2 (and stats here) and Andrew at age 2, just for fun.

We are so grateful to have adorable Ryan in our family!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Banning Busy & Other Thoughts

I am trying to relish moments like this because seeing these three having fun together is my favorite part of each day. Life has been busy lately, mostly with insignificant things. I am working to Ban Busy, so I joined a Ban Busy challenge and it is helping me slow down a bit and choose what we spend our time on more carefully. 

One thing that has been helping me shift my perspective is doing Personal Progress along with my Young Women from church. Each day this past week after the youngest two went to naptime/quiet time, I sat down with my Personal Progress and worked on it. Sometimes I did it for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour and a half. 

This past week as part of my study I focused on divine qualities that I need to strengthen and improve upon. I read a talk or two from each day and I was inspired by all of them. The gems of wisdom in each talk have really buoyed me up all week. Here are some of the topics and talks:






One thing that I love about banning busy is that we have less committments and more time to be flexible and help others and be together as a family.

The biggest kiddos and I have been enjoying hiking lately.

We've also spent two different weekends supporting Kevin in biking events. The kids thought it was so cool to be able to go to their dad's race. They took their sign making very seriously.
Last week we went to the morning mile at Andrew's school which is where you can run laps for thirty minutes before school. I think we'll be making it a new weekly tradition. The kids had a blast running with their friends and I had fun chasing Ryan around.

The big kiddos are also doing very basic soccer this year. I almost pulled the trigger on doing more intense soccer and I am so grateful I didn't this year. The schedule is perfect for us. Both Andrew and Catie have soccer one weekday a week back to back. It is so fun to have them get to watch each other and support each other. Ryan just runs around the trees in circles and we eat snacks.

I love that we still have plenty of time each week to have friends over for playdates after school or time to just get outside and be active.

When I kick off each school year I always feel like it is a chance to start fresh. This year my main goal is to follow the example of Christ portrayed in this talk by Elder Uchtdorf- Of Regrets and Resolutions. He said...

"Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life amongthe people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt importantand loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time."

I hope I can be better about doing this this year. I'm sure there will be periods where we can't help it, but overall I am hoping to maintain a more peaceful and less stressed pace this year both in our home and in my work.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Andrew's in First Grade! {Minecraft Back to School Dinner}

The night before school starts we have a tradition of having a Back to School Dinner. This year we are going to have two different Back to School dinners since Andrew and Catie start school two weeks apart!

Last year we had a Back to School pizza picnic at the park and the year before we had a silly pirate themed night. Andrew currently loves Minecraft, so it was fun to add that to the mix. I made a super quick banner on the computer, decorated the table with some Minecraft toys and Kevin made us green waffles! We added dark chocolate chips to help them fit with the theme.

During dinner we talked about a few goals and some things Andrew is looking forward to about 1st grade!

After dinner Kevin gave Andrew a father's blessing that was super sweet! He had such a hard time going to sleep last night because he was SO EXCITED to be a first grader!!

Can't wait to hear how his first day went!!

Update: Catie never remembered about her Back to School dinner and I was too tired... so we'll try again next year with her. :)

My Momcation- BlogHer 2014

As my Toddler Approved blog has grown I have had the opportunity to meet some really nice people from around the globe.

This summer I attended a blogging conference called BlogHer 2014 that was being held down in San Jose. 

I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel and had my own super cozy room. I felt totally spoiled and was bummed that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in my hotel room because I had way too much fun out with friends!

The conference had different classes we could attend and then we also spent a lot of time hanging out and chatting. 

On Thursday when we got there we had a big Kid Blogger Network meet up for dinner at Il Fornaio (photo from Jamie). Not the cutest angle, but was nice to have the event documented.

On Friday I had fun going to classes and roaming around. I also went to a few events with some brands.

On both Friday and Saturday night they had parties. Friday night there were parties hosted by different brands that were held in different hotel suites. My favorite party (where we stayed for a long time) was the Goldie Blox Party! We could play with the toys and get drinks/eat food. They had treats, so I was a fan!

Afterwards we went out to a nearby restaurant for dessert/food and stayed there until it closed. It was fun to just sit around chatting and learning from some of my super successful blogging friends.

During the day there was also a big Expo in the Convention Center where different brands had booths. We could chat with them about how they worked with bloggers and get free stuff. My favorites were Sonic and Baskin and Robbins... lots of free treats anytime you wanted them. Chuck E Cheese also was awesome and gave away big board games to everyone. We got Scrabble. The kids were stoked!

My friend Allie (who has a blog called No Time for Flashcards) presented at the conference, so several of us went to her session. She gave so many great tips that have already been really useful to me! Now I just need more time in the day to use them more!

For dinner on Saturday night we checked out a fun new-to-me place in downtown San Jose called San Pedro Square Market. There was so much good food! 

Later on Saturday night McDonalds hosted a big closing party for the conference. There was a giant McDonalds truck serving happy meals all night long plus other food/drinks. 

There was also a big dance party. I haven't gone to a dance party in FOREVER and had a blast. Run DMC performed and we hung out dancing and chatting at the party until the cops shut it down around 11pm or midnight.

The cops were trying to get us to stop chatting and leave... so Jyl (who's photo this is below) told them we'd leave right away if they would take our picture in a giant pyramid. They were good sports and we had three cops snapping photos while we all posed. It was so funny and they were cracking up!

Then they really kicked us out and we went back to the hotel to sit around and chat till the wee hours of the morning. My 6am alarm the next morning was painful!

What an awesome weekend with so many neat and creative friends!! This was one of those momcation where I came home completed exhausted and took a nap for 4 hours! I was so grateful that Kevin was willing to watch the kids so that I could have such a fun weekend (that was also really useful in terms of my blog too).

Here are a few of my friend's blogs if you want some other great kids activities and resources!

Chrissy- The Outlaw Mom

Rachelle- Tinkerlab

Maya- MemeTales

MaryAnne- Mama Smiles Blog

2014 Summer Camps for Catie & Andrew

This summer we were around for several different weeks so in an attempt to save my sanity and not have Catie & Andrew fighting endlessly, I sent Andrew to a few camps. He loved every minute of all of them! I also sent Catie to one camp. She was sad she didn't get to go to more!

Here are a few photos from camps!

First off he went to a local vacation bible school camp. It was super hero themed and they learned a bit about bible stories. He had tons of friends there and was in heaven!

I was fortunate to be invited to review Camp Galileo again on my Toddler Approved blog, so Andrew got to go to camp for a week in exchange for me writing about his week. He had a blast! You can see tons more pictures of his week here.

Andrew also went to a week of Pirate Camp at his Gymnastics studio. Here he is trying to look tough like a pirate. :) I think he looks a little creepy!

Two awesome teenage boys from the local high school lacrosse team did a free two day camp for a few boys. It was adorable and I was excited to see that Andrew actually LOVED lacrosse and got really into it. He especially liked checking :)

The week before we went to LA Catie got to go to Sofia the First Princess Dance Camp! I was really worried because she didn't know anyone going and has never done something by herself for three hours before. She has anxiety sometimes so I was picturing huge meltdowns and problems. The teacher said she was awesome every day. This was the cute face she gave me when I said goodbye the first day. No problem at all! I was FLOORED!

She loved her "leotart"

The last day they did a very simple dance show for us. Catie did a little dancing and then spent a lot of time cleaning up sparkles off the floor while the other kids danced. She sure looked cute though! She made tons of Sofia the First themed crafts too. I think this camp was the highlight of her summer! She even got a Sofia doll to bring home with her!

All in all I think the kids had an awesome summer! I still need to blog about Girls Camp and our trips to Idaho and Utah! I can't believe school starts tomorrow!! So sad!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer Trip to LA

Kevin had a business trip to LA last week so we decided to tag along. I think we might have to do that every time he has business trips down there from now on... we had so much fun!

When we arrived we had to get down to business and do the most important things... jump on the beds and "call Grandpa." Ryan had a pretty good conversation with him without actually being connected. The other important thing we always do when we arrive at hotels is disconnect all the phones. That way our kids can't call anyone and no one can call us if our kids are being loud all night long ;)

When we woke up the next day we rushed off to meet up with the Balenas at Griffith Park! The reunion was so sweet. These two started running towards one another they were so excited. Liz and I started bawling... and hugged and we were just so happy to finally be hanging out with our dear friends again! Catie ran and gate Grace a big hug too.

Ryan and Hank had fun goofing off on the train as well.

We rode the train, the ponies, and the carousel.

The medium speed ponies rode FAST! It was so funny to watch!

We also visted the La Brea Tar Pits. It was HOT but interesting... there were several tantrums throughout the visit by the littlest guy, but we survived. Not my favorite part of the trip.

We also visited the Hayes family!!! And we got NO PHOTOS since I was so busy inhaling the yummy homemade ice cream Meredith made and chatting and eating the cookie bars she made too. The kids had fun making a disaster of their home and we had fun catching up. Yay! So fun to have friends to visit that aren't too far away!

Liz and I continued our adventures with the kiddos once Kevin went back to work and we went to the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.

We also hit up a yummy donut place and the Taco Deli for lunch. Hank fell asleep on the table at the restaurant while he was eating and me and Liz gabbed and gorged ourselves while my kids played on tablets and Ryan spilled food everywhere. It was blissful and so wonderful to just have chat time!

We stayed at the Embassy Suites and these kids loved the elevator and the huge free breakfast. They also loved that we were right next to LAX and we could see the airplane flight path from our hotel window. I took them down every morning in their pjs for breakfast. They were very self sufficient and helpful and ate everything in sight.

We tried to get a workout in so we ran from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach and back... I ran and pushed the double jogger and Andrew rode his bike. It was HOT but I got all the kids ice cream midway through the 40 minute jog, so they all survived and were happy.

We also played at the beach a bit afterwards.

We went to the cutest story hour at the LA Temple with the Balenas on Tuesday and then we hit up Sprinkles Cupcakes and Sprinkles Cookies! Yum Yum! I LOVE the cookies!

I was SO sad to say goodbye to Liz... but fortunately we'll be back down to LA in a month or so again!

The kiddos and I attempted to go to the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica... but it was closed because of weird summer hours. The kids were VERY disappointed.

I cheered them up by taking them to the Santa Monica Pier and letting them ride rides and get amazingly large slurpees. They cheered up quickly!

We spent many evenings watching movies on my laptop... One night we were waiting for Kevin to get back so we could go swimming... Ryan decided that sitting on top of Catie was way more cozy than sitting on the couch.

On our last day in LA we drove down to Irvine and met up with Meredith Hayes and kiddos to hang out at Pretend City. It is seriously the perfect place for kids! My kids had a blast!

After saying goodbye to Meredith we grabbed yummy drinks at Sonic and then we went and picked uo Kevin, packed our car, and hauled ourselves back to the East Bay! Other than stopping every 50 miles so kids could go to the bathroom we made really good time and got home right around bedtime!

What a fabulous trip!! So glad we could tag along with Kevin and get to see our good friends too!