Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrating the Holidays: Family-Fun Activities

December is such a magical month, but also an extremely busy month: holiday parties, holiday shopping and then someone usually catches a cold somewhere in between.  With the hustle and bustle, it’s a wonderful time to spend time with family and friends and a perfect time to make holiday memories. Seattle offers some very special holiday events. It’s always amazing to experience the holidays through my little girl’s eyes watching her light up with wonder when the show starts at Snowflake Lane or when the snow starts falling at Pacific Place Mall.

Here are some holiday events that take place around Seattle that we love! If you check out one of them or know of another event I didn’t mention, be sure to let me know what you thought of it! I’d love to hear about your experiences too!  So grab an eggnog latte and, as my daughter calls it, a “coco coffee” for the littles and let the memories begin!

Snow at Pacific Place Mall in Seattle (free)
Each night at 6pm from November 28th-December 31st, Pacific Place celebrates the holidays with snowfall inside the mall. It’s a great warm and indoor activity the whole family can enjoy!

Community Hanukkah Celebration (free; donation to Jewish Family Service encouraged)
On December 13th, from 5:30-7:30, celebrate the Festival of Lights at one of the largest community Hanukkah Celebrations in Seattle. Located at the Stoum Jewish Community Center at 3801 Mercer Way, celebrate and enjoy arts and crafts, storytelling, festive food and music by the kid-friendly band Recess Monkey! 

Holiday Light Looking (free!)
Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna: On NE Park Road and Ravenna Boulevard. Houses light up in this adorable neighborhood from Dec. 15-New Years day from 4:00pm-11pm.
Olympic Manor near Greenwood: Homes in the Olympic Manor neighborhood are encouraged to decorate for the holidays each year. Everywhere you look homes are all decked out in holiday lights and decorations! The best place to start is at NW 85th St. and 23rd Ave NW.

Gingerbread houses at the Sheraton (free; donations benefiting the JDRF NW Chapter welcome)
Stop by the Sheraton between November 25th and January 5th at anytime to check out the extravagant gingerbread houses made entirely by candy and other sweets! Each year, top local architects and the Sheraton’s culinary team up to bake and design Gingerbread creations. This year’s theme is “Jingle All the Way”. This is an event that looks super delicious!

Visit Northgate Mall on Sunday December 21st from 11am-2pm for this fun event including a dreidel-spinning competition, coloring, cookie decorating and much more!

WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo
Each year from November 28th through January 4th from 5:30-8:30, Woodland Park Zoo is lit up with thousands of LED lights creating wild animals and habitats! Tickets are $9.75 for adults, $6.50 for children. Don’t forget to say “hi” to the reindeer too!

Snowflake Lane and Celebration Lane at Bellevue Square (free!)
Each night at 7:00pm just outside Bellevue Square on Bellevue Way and NE 8th Street, a 20-minunte holiday performance complete with colorful lights, live drummers, holiday characters and snow! This nightly show starts on November 28th and ends on December 24th.
Then from December 26th through December 31st, Celebration Lane shows perform nightly at 7:00pm to ring in the New Year! This show includes dancing drummers, festive characters and Americana-inspired music!


Botanical Gardens in Bellevue ($5 per person, children 10 and under free!)
From November 29th-January 3rd, every night from 4:30-9:30, the Bellevue Botanical gardens are lit up with thousands of dazzling lights! To avoid the line at the ticket window, buy tickets in advance online. The display is inspired by plants found in the Northwest as well as gardens around the world and over 30 critters light up, including Charlotte and her web, Honey Bear, and Willie the Slug. Fun for all ages!

I always love to hear about more ways to celebrate this wonderful season! Please feel free to share events I missed in the comments below!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tips for Teaching Kids to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is just around the corner; I can already smell the pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing! Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of the year to remember what we have to be thankful for and reflect on what that very first Thanksgiving was about.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday for all us; it’s a time to get together with family, give thanks and have a large feast.  Things haven’t changed that much since 1621 after the pilgrim’s first harvest. They did the same thing: joining all as one, thankful for each other and had a grand feast.

The Thanksgiving season is a great time to teach young children what it means to be thankful. It’s always great to talk about that first Thanksgiving, but I think an easier concept for young children to grasp the meaning of “Thankful”. It’s a great time to start the conversation of what we have to be thankful for. Every night right before bed, my daughter and I have some special mommy-daughter time. We read a story and then I ask her to tell me 5 things she is thankful for.  It’s important to me that she learns to be thankful, not just learning to say thank you, but to also understand that she is fortunate for everything she has.

Here are a few other ideas for how to teach children gratitude:

Encourage and Demonstrate Generosity
     We often donate clothes, food and toys to less fortunate families. By showing how to give and talking about how some kids don’t have very much; it inspires kids to give back too. Kids are more likely to appreciate what they have knowing that not everyone is so fortunate.

Give kids jobs to help out.
     By participating in activities, children understand the effort that goes into jobs. When I give my little one a job, something as simple as stirring the pancake batter, she feels more appreciative of when I make breakfast for her. 

Write Thank You notes
     Writing thank you cards for gifts helps children verbalize why they are thankful for a gift which makes them appreciate the gift even more.  When my little one was younger, she would just draw scribbles or I had her paint a picture and I would attach my own thank you note. As she gets older, she’s able to tell me why she is thankful for the gift and we write the thank you notes together. She still loves to paint or draw pictures for them too. 

How do you teach your children about being thankful? I’d love to hear your tips too!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Halloween Costumes!

Happy October! I love so many things about fall; all the different colors, hearing the crunch of leaves and crisp mornings. With fall also comes Halloween and the big question… what will the kids be this year?   

Here are some DIY costume ideas to get the creative juices flowing!

Pig in a Blanket:
1.      Cut pig ears, small rectangle and small circle out of two 8” by 11” sheets of pink craft foam. With a hot glue gun, glue ears to a pink headband.
2.      Dot circle with glitter glue for nostrils. Fold rectangle around circle, gluing together to form a snout. Glue one end of a 12inch piece of elastic to each side so it can be worn over child’s nose.
3.      Wrap blanket over shoulders and pin with a large safety pin! 

Static Electricity:
1.      Using safety pins, attach some mismatched socks, a few pairs of underwear, some small pieces of clothing like baby t-shirts to a long-sleeved shirt. Or if you don’t mind ruining the shirt, attach the pieces of clothing with a hot glue gun rather than using safety pins.
2.      With hair gel, spike hair.
3.      You could even use a small laundry basket as a treat bucket.

Snowball Costume
1.      Attach Styrofoam balls in assorted sizes to an oversized pale blue or white sweatshirt using fabric glue.
2.      Add batting to the inside of the sweatshirt to make it “puffy”.
3.      Using a beanie or the hood of the sweatshirt, attach more Styrofoam balls to complete your look!


Ninja Turtle Costume:
1.      Attach a round green pillow either to straps (like a backpack) or to a green shirt. Wear green pants.
2.      Tie a blue, red, purple or orange ribbon around your child’s waist
3.      Using a matching colored ribbon, cut eye holes out of the ribbon for their mask!

Young Frankenstein:
            Check out this website for easy DIY steps to turn your little one into an adorable Frankenstein 

I think we all know that the most popular costumes this year will be the Frozen characters. Do we have to relive the Frozen madness again? I think we probably will… Here are a couple of websites for DIY Frozen costumes!

Elsa Costume (no sew):
With this super easy Elsa Cape you can include your little one in making it! Even if you don’t have an Elsa for Halloween, this a great dress up costume and it’s so easy to make! 

Or if you are feeling a bit more ambitious, try out this Anna Cape! Put a dark blue or black dress under the raspberry colored cape and you’re good to go!                      

If you’re little one loves Olaf the best, try adding 3 black circles to a white tutu or a white sweatshirt and sweatpants. Then, using a white ball cap, use these great instructions for a DIY Olaf hat 

Good luck costuming! And have a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is Everyone Feeling Ready for Kindergarten?

Back when I was teaching Pre-K, I remember how excited the children were to move onto kindergarten, but the parents were nervous.  I completely understood why; the children were in a cozy little bubble with the same kids and families for 3 years and now everyone (children and parents) are about to make a huge adjustment to new kids, new teachers, new surroundings and new families.

My advice to make this transition easier for everyone:

·         Visit the school a couple of times right before school starts:
o       Play on the playground
o       Practice drop-off/pick-up

·         Talk to your kids about what their day will look like:
o       Tell them it will be a lot like preschool, but bigger and more fun things to do
o       Tell them don’t forget to go potty
o       Remind them to introduce themselves to new friends

·         This may sound silly but have them practice getting their lunch box open and getting their food out.   One thing I constantly heard from kindergarten parents was, “… things are going okay, but they’re not eating their lunch…”   This can create a super cranky kid at pick-up.  A lot of times new kindergarteners are very distracted at lunch time so it takes them along time to get their lunch open and before they know it lunch time is over. Pack containers that are easy to open.

·         Last but not least, do not let them know you are nervous.  Be excited for them, cheer them on; this is a huge step for them!

Being prepared and going through these steps will not only calm your new kindergartener’s nerves, it will help you a ton too knowing you have prepared your child for this next step!

Good luck and know it is okay to cry!  I will be right there with you in a couple of years (just don’t cry in front of them!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prepping for School: My Favorite Supplies!

As a mom and a teacher, I feel I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t as far as school supplies go.  When I was teaching I remember those lunch boxes that were so hard to shut or shoes that we always had to spend an extra minute tying.  Every minute counted in the classroom to keep our kiddos on schedule and in our routine….The same goes for at home with 2 kids.

Here is a list of my favorite items as a mom and a teacher:

We will be using our lunchbox from Pottery Barn Kids for a second year in a row. We have the “Classic”.   It is big, durable, thermal insulated and easy to clean.  We got it on sale; usually the following year’s patterns go on sale towards the end of the summer.

We bought her backpack at Pottery Barn Kids and will be using it for a second year.  I chose not to get her name on it so little sister can use it when big sis grows out of it.  We have the “small.”  It was a little big when she started preschool, but it was never too heavy for her to carry on her back.  The “mini” was too small to fit her school folder, lunchbox, sharing toy and other miscellaneous items that find their way into her backpack.

Re-usable Snack bags and containers: Amazon and Klean Kanteen
I am a huge fan of re-usable containers.  I love Good Lunch snack bags for all the dry items I pack in her lunch.  They wash well and even better when you line-dry them.

For storing fruit, turkey slices (anything moist) I love Klean Kanteen containers.  They are a little heavy in her lunchbox, but I would rather use these than plastic.  There are a bunch of other brands out there also.

I love Native Shoes!  They are easy to slip on, clean well and look really cute!  Do your teachers a huge favor and do not put your kiddos in tie shoes or any shoes that are hard to put on.  Kids love, and feel successful, when they can do it on their own. Native Shoes are a win, win for everyone!

What are some of your favorite products? I’d love to hear about them too!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Making our Summer Plans on a Budget!

School is out and summer is officially here! This year my daughter will do a few summer camps but I also need to fill in the other weeks with some fun activities that are very inexpensive or don’t cost a thing. Here are a few activities that we will be doing this summer! I’d love to hear your ideas too!

1. Country Village (free) - Country Village has so much to see! It’s fun to just walk around and enjoy the scenery. Be sure to check out the duck pond and play on the old pirate ship too!   

2. Paint the Town - Get creative at Paint the Town! Kids can pick out and paint their own creation. Be sure to check out their daily deals 

3. Spray Parks (free) - Seattle has many spray parks and wading pools that are perfect for those hot summer days! Which one is your favorite?

4. Kelsey Creek Farm (free) - Visit with the animals and maybe even pack a picnic! Be sure to save time to play on the playground too! You can also schedule a farm tour with Farmer Jayne!

5. Outdoor summer concerts around Seattle and the Eastside (free) - Check out this list for times, dates and other important information!

 6. Museums - For when the weather is just too hot or it’s raining, I like to check out a museum. Here’s a great list of museums that are perfect for kids 5-years-old and younger! 

I’d love to hear about the summer fun you are having too! Please share your favorite summer activities that are budget friendly in the comments below!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Gardening: Getting the Kids Involved

We welcomed our second daughter in April and everyone is doing great!  It’s been an adjustment juggling the 2 children and work, but I think I am starting to get a good routine down.  I want to give a shout-out to all those busy moms with multiple kids! 

With spring here and summer right around the corner, our lovely summer bulbs at home and at school are popping out of the ground! The weather is getting continually nicer making it easier to enjoy the outdoors. My 3 year old and I have really enjoyed gardening this year. It has been such an educational and fun experience to teach her where our fruits and veggies come from.  We had a great time going to the local gardening store to pick out seeds and bright, fun gardening gloves.  Then we were off to the backyard with our green thumbs! We’ve had such a fun time learning where food comes from and growing our own vegetables and flowers.  Here are some ideas we have used and really loved!

We set out a sheet or tablecloth under our planting area.  You could even use a cheap plastic shower curtain and throw the whole shoot-and-match away at the end.    That would make clean-up so much easier! This year, we used egg cartons to start our seeds, but we’ve also used tin cans or newspaper seed pots in the past (these can be found in the dollar section of Target.)

I find that spoons are easier for my little one to use than trowels, especially if we are planting in small containers. We use little cups of water to water each seed so we don’t overwater them.

We like to play a guessing game about what each seed will look like before we open the seed packets. Then we talk about what it will look like as it grows!

I’d love to hear about your gardening adventures with your kids too! Feel free to leave your stories in the comments section below!

Also, be sure to check out our pinterest board “Gardening with Kids” for more ideas and inspiration! Happy Gardening! 

To learn more about one of Seattle’s best preschools and drop-off childcare programs visit and

Friday, May 23, 2014

Baby #2 on the way: Getting ready

It’s amazing how different things are the second time around.  When I was planning for our first daughter everything had to be perfect and new, sparkly and clean.  This time around I’ve realized how fast they grow out of clothes and how things get destroyed very quickly.  I have had a lot of fun going to different children’s consignment stores and have found tons of awesome, barely used items.  I don’t need a lot of stuff the second time around since we kept most everything from our first little one, but I do love saving a little bit of money on the items I do need.  Here are some stores I shopped at!

Childish Things is located in the Greenwood neighborhood! They offer a great selection of gently used things for babies and children (preemie to size eight), maternity, new products, gifts, toys, and books.

Nestled in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, Kids on 45th offers new and used clothing, shoes, toys and more for growing children. 

Me ‘n Moms is located in Ballard. They offer children’s clothing, toys, maternity wear, strollers and more!

Located in Madison Valley, Sugarlump offers high-quality children’s and maternity clothes, including seasonal outfits and Halloween costumes too!

Be sure to add any consignment stores you’ve shopped at and loved. I’m always looking for new places to check out. Happy Shopping!

To learn more about one of Seattle’s best preschools and drop-off childcare programs visit and

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away! Indoor Activities for Kids!

Spring is finally here! It’s one of my favorite times of the year, all the flowers are blooming and trees are beginning to grow their leaves again! Spring’s arrival also brings endless days of rain. On those rainy days, it can be hard to find fun activities that are engaging and not too repetitive. Here are a few of our favorites!

Home Made Play Dough!
I like to use this recipe from Mommyfootprint! It’s quick and easy. Sometimes I add a little texture to the dough with a few tablespoons of coffee grounds or some rolled oats.

Indoor Treasure Hunt!
What better to keep the kids busy for hours than an indoor scavenger hunt! Sometimes I hide objects for my little one to find; other times I make a list of a few items my daughter can find around the house, but will have to hunt a little bit to find. The Scrap Shoppe blog has printable indoor scavenger hunt boards that are great!  

Bake cookies!
Nothing cures rainy day blues like cookies! If I have a long day ahead of me, we make sugar cookies and then decorate them when they’ve cooled! It takes plenty of time!

Have a Tea Party!
Whether we’re drinking tea, juice or cocoa a tea party is a fun indoor activity! Sometimes we make simple chicken or egg salad sandwiches in cute shapes by using cookie cutters. My little one loves to have her favorite baby doll join us for the tea party too!

For more inspiration for indoor activities for kids, be sure to check out our pinterest board “Indoor Activities for Kids” for more fun ideas to keep kids busy during those rainy days!  (

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine’s Day: Non-Candy Valentine Ideas!

Valentine’s Day is all about love…and sugar.  I have been searching high and low for some great ideas for my 2.5 year old daughter’s preschool Valentine’s Day party. Because I am a bit of a health nut, I wanted to give out a fun and creative non-candy Valentine. My goal was to make something that would be used and not tossed into the toy bin. Here are some great options for those parents looking for an alternative to candy.

The Valentine Pencil – Perfect for Art Projects!

Bubbletines! What kiddo (and adult) doesn’t love bubbles?

Sip your milk with this Valentine loopy straw!

Watercolor Valentines! Inspire your Valentine to paint a picture!

Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board for more non-candy Valentine ideas, Valentine’s Day art projects and Valentine themed games. (

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Make Your New Years Resolutions Really Stick This Year!

Happy New Year! It has been a week since the New Year, and I have found the following tips to be extremely helpful to reach my New Years resolutions.

Make Smart Goals: When determining my goals for the New Year, I set my sights on a goal that is specific, measurable and attainable.

Utilizing My Smart Phone: I use my smart phone to keep track of my workouts. I love the app MotionX-24/7 for the iPhone. It keeps track of steps I’ve taken, calories burned, sleep quality and duration, and heart rate. This app can also be programmed with my specific goals. It will keep track of my progress and show me what percent of my daily goal I have reached.

Making it Social: I love spending time with my friends. We share our goals with each other and hold each other accountable. I am much more inclined to keep to my goals when I talk about them with friends. 

Committing to Me Time: On those days where I want to quit, I find a little less distraction helps me reach my goal. Finding a local drop-off daycare, like our Blossoming Buds Cottage, allows for some “me time.” This gives me time to revisit my resolutions and re-focus my efforts for continued success.