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From Tea to Gymboree – How to Not Go Broke Buying Kid’s Clothes

When I found out I was having a girl, I could not wait to spend my entire paycheck go clothes shopping for her. She would have her own style, for sure.  A laid back, bohemian vibe. She would wear matching accessories like scarves and hats and headbands and little booties. And she would only dress in Tea, Hanna and Hatley.

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Then I actually had P.

And started buying dozens of burp cloths.

And millions of white onesies.

And billions of diapers.

And started reeeaaaally paying attention to price tags.

Let’s just say reality started to set in. Babies were expensive. How could one itty bitty little lady cost so much? I knew I had to cut back, and hated to admit that the super duper cute clothes I was buying were contributing to the problem. Three week old babies didn’t care what they were wearing, and honestly, some of the frilly, uber-girly stuff looked a little silly anyway.

Here are a few things I did to start saving on clothes:

  1. I joined Facebook groups.

Arlington Closet Sharers, Boston-Area High End Baby Clothes and Boston Tea Party are a few that I immediately friended. There’s a bunch of local, friendly ladies looking to unload their gently used clothes. I browse through pics weekly, comment on what I’m interested in and more often than not, I can pick up the items that week – usually off of someone’s porch while leaving the money owed in their mailbox. Easy stuff.

  1. I checked out consignment shops.

I feel like used clothing stores can get a bad rap. But the children’s ones are on serious lock down. Everything’s in great condition and they have strict policies put in place to ensure you’re only getting the highest quality items. Some of my favorite ones in the Boston area are Growing Up in Belmont, The Little Fox Shop in Arlington and one of my favorites is Buttons and Bows in Acton. It’s a little bit of a drive from the city, but so worth it.

  1. I accepted hand me downs.

It’s like a baby explosion in my circle. Literally friends are having babies left and right. And when my girlfriends were having their second, third and last kids, they were looking to unload tons of stuff quickly and easily. Not just clothes but bouncers, jumperoos, swings – all those things that cost a million dollars and that babies use for like two weeks. If your girlfriends are offering you stuff, just take it. Trust me, they want it out of their house. And they want it out fast.

  1. I started shopping sales.

I know this one sounds intuitive, but when a season was ending, I would stock up on larger sizes for next year. So I bought 2T bathing suits (for $5!) in September, even though P was 1. And vice versa for winter. I usually ended up doing this for big ticket items (like snow suits, jackets or boots). The only downside? Storing really cute things away for months at a time. But hey, when I took it out of storage, it was like Christmas morning all over again.

So there you have it. A few easy tips to saving money on kid’s clothes. Do you have any others to add to the list? Add them in the comments below!

Why I Love Being a Boston Commuter

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Already you’re thinking I’m crazy because what is there to like about getting up early and jumping on a train everyday? It can be dirty, germy, crowded and the T during the summer months, well you kind of have to be there. So really, what is there to like? Well, LOTS!

Let me begin by saying that some of my favorite childhood memories are of times with my grandmother hopping on the Green Line in Brookline Village and heading off for an adventure. I can remember her pulling out an old change purse (this is long before the days of the Charlie Card) and counting out 1 token and 15 cents for our trip into Town. Shopping, museums, The Nutcracker, you name it and we did it. Now as an adult, I get the same butterflies during my morning commute.

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After living in Vermont for 12 years, city life was something I craved. When my husband and I moved our family to Massachusetts 3 years ago, there was no question in my mind that Boston was where I wanted to work.  Living 33 miles outside of the city and having to commute was nothing new for me, I lived 30 miles outside of Burlington, VT and had to drive at least a half an hour to reach many things. The difference between there and here-the MBTA. Sure, it has its faults and the winter months present challenges and unpredictability, but, my travel time is my ME time. It’s the time when I can write, read, listen to music, unwind, and think. I have read more books this year than I have in the last 5 years, I never have to drive in poor weather conditions, and I’d like to think my carbon footprint has been drastically reduced due to the fact that most days I drive my car a total of 5 miles.

During the winter months it’s hard to appreciate how good a morning walk is for me, but during the rest of the year, I couldn’t love walking through Boston more! Weather and temperature permitting, my typical route is from Back Bay to Beacon Hill. I could take the T and this time of year I do, but when the snow is gone why would I when I have access to the Boston Public Gardens and the cobblestone sidewalks of Charles Street? There is something to be said for taking a city stroll when all is quiet and calm; it puts you in the perfect state of mind for tackling a crazy day or for relieving the stress at the end of one.  I love that I can leave the chaos of the working world behind because I am too busy admiring the beautiful swans and willows or window-shopping on Newbury. It feels like a luxury to arrive at home refreshed, inspired and ready to spend the evening with my family.

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With all that said, it doesn’t always go as planned and even my sunny disposition can be crushed by a weather delay or switch problem.  The reality is that commuting has some downsides. Taking a train at 5:35am in the winter is not ideal, waiting around in the evenings when I want to be home because the commuter runs on a less frequent schedule can be maddening. I am also at the mercy of not only the commuter rail schedule, but the T as well. Two to three minutes can make all the difference in the world and believe me, missing a train by 1 minute at the end of the day is kind of a nightmare.  I have been late to work, stuck on the track, stuck in Boston, and God forbid you are any one of these things without access to food and water while you wait! These experiences, however, are the exception, not the rule. Over the course of my commuter years I have become better about preparing myself so that even if there is an unexpected bump I have snacks, water, my MacBook and iPhone at the ready. I can catch up on news on all my favorite sites, pay bills, answer emails, watch movie trailers, text with friends, even sleep!  The other day I checked in with two different family members, paid a bill and set up a play-date.  By the time I made it home, I felt like I accomplished a few things and could actually arrive home and be present.

In order to keep organized and maximize my time, I use a wonderful app called Embark for train schedules and up to the minute delays and cancelations.  You can also follow them on Twitter at @MBTA and @MBTA_CR.  I pay for parking using the Pay By Phone app so there is no more worrying about having cash and if i’m cutting it close, it’s great to be able to park and run without worrying about getting a ticket for non-payment!  I like to have at least one book sample in iBooks and I have a variety of songs to fit the mood of the moment, Mumford and Sons for inspiration and a little Jay Z when things aren’t going my way.  I always have my phone charger so that I have access to the technology that has made the life of this commuter easier and more productive.

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I would absolutely love to be closer to the City, but I also fear that I would lose this precious time, that as a working mom, I desperately need. I choose to look at all of the wonderful things my commute affords me and to appreciate the experiences that I longed for in my previous life as a country girl. I ask you to take a look at your day, your commute and see how you too can make the most of your time. Maybe your drive allows you to finish a cup of coffee without your ever helpful toddler sticking their hand in it, maybe you release your stress by singing Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs in the cozy comfort of your warm car. Wherever it is that you can find a silver lining or positive attribute to your daily grind, grab it and exploit it. You’ll be amazed at how it can enhance your life!

 

10 Stay-at-Home Dates You Haven’t Thought of

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The first Christmas Mark and I were married, I came up with an elaborate 12 Gifts of Christmas scheme that ended with 12 dates for the next year. They were fun things like doing a reverse progressive dinner around the city – start with desserts and end with drinks – and re-living our first date. The next Christmas, I was 8 months pregnant. As much as I loved the idea of getting out for an extravagant date once a month, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But c’mon – having a baby can’t be the complete end of romance, right?! So, instead of fun dates out, I created a year of stay-at-home dates. (Plus, let’s face it, when the average babysitter in Boston is pursuing her masters in biomedical engineering, it’s hardly affordable to get her over too often.)

So, get the kiddos to bed, and let’s get creative! Here is some inspiration for a few date nights in with your sweet hubby…

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  • Black Tie Affair: All dressed up and nowhere to go? I don’t think so! Get dressed up in your favorite gown or LBD and have that dapper man of yours put on his nicest suit. Turn that dimmer down low, light a couple candles, pop your fave slow jams on, and voila! A beautiful night in!
  • Italian Night: Grab a bottle of Chianti, flip on Roman Holiday, and enjoy over a giant bowl of fusilli!
  • Night of Bubbly: Bottle of champagne, bubble bath, bubble wrap, kiddo’s bottle of bubbles…get creative!champagne
  • Create Your Story: Have you two ever taken the time to write down your love story? How did you meet? What did you do for your first date? First kiss? When did you know you wanted to marry each other? Get it on paper. You will cherish it and so will your little ones one day!
  • Living Room Camping: Get out the tent (or a sheet and a staple gun), cook up some s’mores over a candle, and tell ghost stories.
  • Cook Off: Who’s the better cook in your house? Nothing like a little competition to start a fire in the kitchen 😉
  • Grease-movie-p02Sock Hop: Kick those mom shoes off and throw on some good ole Motown.
  • Karaoke Night: Or better known in our house – Sing That One Duet from Moulin Rouge and Drink Too Much Wine Night. Seriously so fun.
  • Spa Night: One of my favorite at home dates with my husband was spent pampering him…bubble bath, facial, and massage. It was tons of fun and relaxing for both of us!
  • Gourmet Night: Here’s one we have never gotten around to but have always wanted to do. Flip through that fancy cookbook your fabulous friend gave you for your wedding – you know the one…it’s collecting dust somewhere because you decided you could never make anything from it – pick something that sounds delicious, then get after it! Even if it’s an epic fail, I’m sure you’ll have a great time attempting a culinary masterpiece!

So, that’s all I have for now. What are some of y’all’s favorite date nights in?

Surviving Winter in Boston with an Infant

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Some day I’m going to look back at the first few months of Anna’s life and laugh with her. We’ll talk about how it was a record-breaking winter for Boston, how her dog Abby LOVED her first (and second and third and fourth…) snowy days, and how I used to take her on walks wearing her under my coat.

In the meantime though, I have to admit, having an infant in the winter in Boston is HARD. Looking outside and seeing mounds of snow higher than my head is disheartening. It would be easy to curl up in a ball and hibernate until Spring. Instead, I challenge you to conquer the weather, tackle the winter blues, and embrace the intense amount of slush. Boston in Winter is not for the weak-hearted, but with the right preparation, WE CAN DO IT….and maybe even enjoy it!

You need the right equipment 

 (These products I whole-heartedly endorse and use daily)

Both you and the baby (and any other creatures, human or pets) need the right equipment for the job. For us city-dwellers, that means I use:

  • a sturdy stroller like the UppaBaby Vista that pushes through the snow and slush
  • a car seat cocoon (don’t settle for something like a BundleMe for a car seat – it’s not safe)
  • a rain cover for the car seat
  • good winter boots (for the adults in the family – and these ridiculous-but-they-do-the-job Pawz for the dog)
  • a good winter coat – I got a hand-me-down that is too big for me, but it was perfect for my pregnant belly and then for wearing my daughter under the coat.

If you’re in the suburbs, you want to make sure that you can safely get in and out of the places you normally go. Will a Snap-N-Go type stroller cut it, with the kind of snow your town gets and the job the plows do? Are you outside in your backyard regularly? If so, you need a way for your infant to keep warm. Are you responsible for shoveling? Your kiddo shouldn’t be outside that long – so will you get a babysitter or is there another family member who can watch your infant, while you shovel? Perhaps you want to hire someone else to do the shoveling this year.

Eat well

The best gifts we got when Anna was born were the meals that our community put together for us. For weeks we received delicious, healthy, mostly-homemade meals delivered to our door by friends and neighbors. We ate better in the weeks after her birth than we ate my entire pregnancy. Our fridge was always full, the leftovers were plentiful, and we never felt like we had to order take-out because there was “nothing to eat”.

After the meals stopped, we decided to go on a Whole30. Thirty days of clean eating – proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Best decision of my maternity leave. I feel so good. I have more energy than I have ever had before – I can do the late night feeding shift as well as the first one in the morning without falling asleep. But more than the physical benefits is the amazing feeling that I get know that I’m taking care of myself and my family. 

Pick a way of eating – follow my lead and do a Whole30 or not – but make a commitment and stick with it. Make taking care of yourself a priority.

Get out of the house – every day.

This is the hardest piece. You have to leave the house. No excuses.

The time post-baby is an easy one for parents to hole-up inside, staying in our pajamas all day –  particularly if you’re battling postpartum depression.  If you think you might be depressed, call your doctor. ASAP. Give you and your baby the gift of getting help. If you think you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed, and that it’s just easier to stay home – call a friend, make plans, and leave the house. (In the first few weeks, if that’s too overwhelming to leave, invite the friend over – and then invite her to help you get out another time)

Some things you can do with a baby:

  • Baby Pictures – best marketing strategy ever – movie theaters show films in the middle of the day, tickets are cheap ($6 in Dedham, Legacy Place!), the lights are dimmed not dark, the sound is loud enough to hear but not blaring, and there’s a changing table for you to use. No one cares if your baby cries or if you need to walk around in the middle of the movie. I enjoyed Into The Woods tremendously with a friend and our babies…and I enjoyed my mini-nap in those comfy chairs mid-movie even more!
  • IMG_6398The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) – culture, art, food, and fun. If your kids are a little older than infants (and are interested in what’s happening around them), check out all the colorful pieces of art in the Contemporary sections. The museum is very baby / stroller friendly. I was so impressed that there was a changing table in the men’s bathroom as well as the women’s that I took a picture of it! (—>)
  • Your local library – sometimes we walk to our local library to pick up books and other times…just because it’s there and something to do.
  • Errands (grocery shopping, Target, thrift stores, etc.) – at the beginning we picked an errand a day and made it our activity. One day we ventured out to Babies ‘R’ Us in Natick to return some things we didn’t need. Not only was it an adventure, but it taught me I could travel with my baby, feed / change her in a public place, and live to tell the tale. The next day we did the same thing with Sears. Then Target. A week before the Big Game, we discovered the treasure trove of baby clothes (and Patriots gear) that my local thrift store carries.
  • Visit family – if you’re lucky enough to have family near by, make a day trip of it. Nothing excites my dog and kid more than a trip to the grandparents’ house. My dog can frolic in a big backyard and knows exactly where Papa keeps the dog treats. My kid is treated to non-stop attention from her adoring grandparents. And I get to nap. It’s win-win for everyone.
  • Walk the dog – if nothing else, take a walk. One of the great things about having a dog is that I HAVE to take her out a few times a day. Yes, there are days when I’ve been a wimp and taken her on shorter walks than I’d like. But at least we’re out of the house. [as a side note,  I struggled for a while to figure out how to walk with both a dog and a baby – baby-wearing has worked best for me. Putting her in a wrap or carrier means she comes with me, stays warm, and the dog can’t accidentally pull over the stroller]

 

Join a Parenting Group

I’m in the New Arrivals class at the Newton JCC. My husband is participating in a New Dads group at MSPP. My synagogue offers a Single-Parents-By-Choice group. Kids are welcome at all. We’ve loved the opportunity to connect with other people going through many of the same things we’re experiencing. It’s been rewarding and, often-times, relieving to know we’re not alone. If you follow only one piece of advice this winter, this is the one to follow.

 

Be Kind To Yourself 

Lastly, recognize that parenting is hard work. And parenting in the middle of winter in Boston is even harder. Give yourself a break. Make time for yourself – whether that’s a manicure, an hour at the gym, or coffee with your friends, make sure it is a regular part of your day / week. It’s important to have reasonable expectations of what you can accomplish. Chances are (at least for me), a few errands are more than enough for one day. I can’t do a Target run, a movie, and a trip to the gym all in the same day.

And in the end, you just have to embrace it. Winter in Boston can be cold, dark, and a bit lonely, if you don’t make the extra effort. So take a hint from our dog and dive right in.

Embrace the Snow

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

February Is Heart Health Month

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February is Heart Month. What does that mean to us moms?

Well, heart disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer, combined. Breaking it down even more, it accounts for 1 in 3 deaths each year, or 1 every minute. Kind of crazy right?

What is even scarier is that only 1 in 5 American women see it as a their greatest health threat. This all needs to change. Some of this is due to women having different symptoms than men. Another is the lack of information regarding heart disease.

There is a bit of good news. Though there are many things that you are not able to control in regards to heart health, there are more that are in your control.  With some of these changes, heart disease in women can be preventable and treatable, and hopefully one day not an issue. Here are some of the everyday things you can do to make heart healthy changes:

  • Don’t smoke. Never, not even one. And limit your exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Exercise, every little bit counts. Even vigorously cleaning your house, raking leaves, playing tag with your children count for activity!
  • Eat healthy.
  • Drink less alcohol. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer to celebrate but in moderation is the key. Drinking alcohol means more calories, increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as many others. Don’t make me get Dr. Oz on you!
  •  Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be aware of your family history. Heart disease is strongly linked to your family history; if your grandmother had a stroke you are more likely to have one as well. It is important to know what you can about your family history and make sure that your healthcare team is aware as well.

Even making a couple of these changes can make a significant difference in your heart health. Remember-every little bit helps! We owe it to ourselves, our families, and each other to take ownership of our heart health.

Hopefully one day heart disease will be a thing of the past.

 

For more information please visit goredforwomen.org

His First Day Being Big

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Clothes laid out the night before. Lunch packed. Forms completed and signed. I peeked in on my little boy, peacefully sleeping in his own big bed. I crawled into my bed, knowing that before the night was out he’d be joining us. Thoughts swirled through my head. Tomorrow is his first day.

We wake up as usual, around 7:00am; bodies snuggled close in a big bed. He nurses, and then he and daddy get up and go downstairs to eat breakfast. I linger, weary from early morning waking, and wanting just a few moments to myself before facing the day, this big, first day.

I shower, dress, dry my hair, and realize the clock is farther along than I hoped. I move downstairs, and switch roles with daddy. He is fed; I need to get him dressed and ready. I need to pack shoes, and his jacket, grab his lunch bag, filled with food I hope he will eat on his own, without me there to put it on his spoon, offer it close to his lips, make sure he gets enough. I pack diapers, and a change of clothes, I get him dressed in real pants, with a button, instead of the usual comfy drawstring pants we both typically wear around the house together. I hope that he will be comfortable, not just in his pants, but also in this new environment, without me. We kiss daddy goodbye, it’s strange that we are the first ones to leave the house today. We buckle into the car, and back out of our driveway. We are running late, and it’s our first day.

We pull into the driveway and parking lot of the little church where the nursery school is located. We have been here before, for visits, for music classes, we even met Santa for the first time here. But today is different from those days. On those days we stayed together, mama and baby, watching each other, learning from each other, helping each other. Today is different, today is his first day.

We park, unbuckle, and lock our car. We walk past soon to be friends as they do the same. We enter the doors to the back of the church, where cubbies and friendly faces greet us. We are welcomed by a few young women, my colleagues, and his teachers. They show us to his cubby, and take my packed bags of supplies. I hold him anxiously in my arms, thinking he doesn’t want to be let go, thinking that maybe he is scared, nervous, shy, or just unsure. Slowly I lean down to take off the layers that are keeping us warm, and before his feet even touch the ground he is squirming, pulling from my arms. I set him down, and he is off. Without so much as a glance in my direction, he starts to run to the best of his toddler ability, down the hall towards his new classroom. He is not anxious, he is not shy, this is his first day.

After settling his coat, his boots, and his lunch into his cubby, I wander down the hallway after him. I peek into the room, lined with low shelves filled with perfectly chosen activities for little hands. I see him already taking out books, showing them to friends, looking bright eyed at all there is to do in this room. He hasn’t even taken off his hat yet. I walk towards him, and he barely looks my way. I take his hat from his head, and tell him I am going to go, that I love him, and I hope he has fun. I ask for a kiss. He half glances towards me and brings his hand to his lips, sending a quick one my way. I am amazed at the independence this little boy is suddenly capable of. This little boy who has been glued to my side for 19 months, who often hides behind my legs, or stays snuggled in my arms during outings, this little boy who often cries when I put him down, or hand him over to someone for a few hours of care. This little boy is no longer little. This is his first day, not just at school, but as his own person. Not a baby, not mommy’s constant companion, this is his first day being big.

When school is over, he doesn’t want to leave. He pushes my hands away as they go to scoop him up. His face is lit with joy. I entice him to come home for a nap, and nursies. As we are driving he falls to sleep in his car seat, exhausted from the adventures of this day. I pull into our driveway, turn off my engine, and sigh. I look in my rearview mirror at the sleeping boy, who will always be my baby, in the backseat. I carry him carefully into our house, into his bed, and tuck the covers around his warm body. I want to linger. I want to crawl in next to him and sleep, our bodies curled together as they have been since his birth. But I don’t. He is capable of taking this nap on his own. He will wake, and call “mama” to let me know when he is done. He is big. This is my first day of realizing it.

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When did you first realize that you little one was a big kid?

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

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ExerciseHaving a 4 year old and being consistently stuck inside has been quite a ride this winter. How do you turn the endless snow days into fun, happy and productive days?  We have been beating the winter blues by (attempting) to break up the days with a multitude of activities for inside and outdoor play. Here are some quick tips for staying sane.

Exercise

  • Get outside. Bundle up, stop making “its cold out” excuses. It takes 15 minutes to bundle up, 30 minutes of outside time before you freeze and 15 minutes to get back inside, un-bundle and make hot cocoa. Before you know it, an hour has passed and everyone has exerted some energy. Get outside, build a snowman, a snow fort, or just go for a walk.
  • Put on a workout DVD. I don’t know about you, but I am crazy when I don’t work out. Similarly to my son, I have a TON of energy and need to exert energy on the daily so I am not cranky. We tried the Shaun T “Rockin’ Body” DVD the other day and it was fun to jump around inside, although both my son and husband were giggling at my attempt to hip hop my way around the basement.
  • Set up an obstacle course inside. I know it sounds like a complete nightmare, but get a crawl tube, and make a game of it. Again, another 15-20 minute activity to shake things up.
  • If you have the time/money, invest in swim lessons. It’s a fun way for the family to bond and get some exercise during the winter.

Stay Positive

  • It’s easy to panic when you have yet another snow day, no coverage at work and everything seems to be piling up on you. Having patience is key. Personally, this is something that I am working on in 2015.
  • No yelling. No yelling. No yelling.
  • Try to break up the day into activities/schedule so everyone is on the same page.

Inside Activities

  • Build a fort. Need I say more?InsideActivities
  • Pick an art project. We recently have been using a white board to work on writing, telling stories and to have interactive dialog. It is a creative way to play together.
  • Play music. We have a piano and we try to sit one time each day to just explore the keys. Our favorite game is playing thunder and rain.
  • Screen time. It’s OK to put on a movie, snuggle up and relax.
  • Read books together.
  • Writing exercises, we practice writing in our leapfrog books and play with the writing tools on the tablet as well.
  • Play with stations. Recently I have organized our toys into stations; Legos, safari animals, toy food/kitchen, dramatic play, etc. When we work with one station at time, playtime is more engaging and thoughtful.
  • Cook together. My son loves to help me with cooking projects.
  • Board games; I know it sounds cheesy but our favorite is Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.

Outside Activities

  • Ice skating; go to your local pond/lake (be safe and have another adult w/you) or inside arena.
  • Sledding; find your local hill, get outside and have some fun!
  • Skiing/snowboarding –we are going to try and hit up Bradford Ski area next weekend to enjoy all this snow.
  • Go downtown (if you have one). Sometimes its good to venture out, if the roads are safe, to break the cabin fever.
  • Do you want to build a snowman?Do you want to build a snowman- (1)

7 Tips for Traveling in Hotels With a Toddler

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Toddler Travel Tips

Last month, I spent 12 nights in a hotel with my toddler. (I know, ridiculous!) Between two, two-night stays to visit friends and family, a three-night stay because of construction in our condo and another three-night stay (turned five because of the epic snow storm) for a work trip where the family tagged along, I’ve become a de facto expert on hotel living with a little one.

In my pre-kids days, the thought of escaping the everyday to enjoy a modern and spacious hotel suite where you melt into the bed’s cloud of pillows would sound glorious. With a toddler, not so much. I worried whether my daughter would sleep in the hotel crib? Would there be a fridge to keep some milk? Would there be any places for her to run around without getting hurt?

The next time you find yourself gearing up for a hotel stay with your kiddo, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Bring your own crib (maybe) and bedding: Knowing we were staying at three different hotels in one week, we opted to bring our own crib (a pack-n-play) to create a sense of stability for our kiddo. It did seem to do the trick, with less fighting at bedtime. BYOC is probably less important if you are going to be at just one hotel. But don’t forget your kiddo’s favorite blanket as well as crib sheet.
  2. Bring a portable cleaning system. If nothing else, this is a must do. Get a portable cleaning system. We have the one for OXO. It’s compact and perfect for cleaning sippy cups, bottles and pacifiers when traveling.
  3. Ask for a fridge. If your room is not equipped with a fridge, it’s likely the hotel has portable ones they can bring to your room. It’s a must have for storing milk and other snacks.
  4. Forget the toys: On all our trips, we bring one book and one other small toy. Hotels have so much for toddlers to explore from the lobby to riding along on luggage carts. And in the room, playing with the plastic cups intended for the in-room coffee maker is easily a 30-minute activity. Sometimes new toys (mostly coloring books and matchbox cars) are kept at the front desk, so be sure to ask.
  5. Use the halls. The hall is your friend. Yes, it may be a pain to be in a room so far from the elevator with all the luggage you have to lug, but it is also your indoor playground. Let your toddler run and run and run safely until they are ready to pass out.
  6. Lock the bathroom down. The bathtubs in hotels (or at least the ones we stayed at) were much lower than our standard tub at home. They were low enough that my toddler could have easily fallen in when she leaned over to explore. Avoid the worry by making the bathroom off limits by keeping the door closed.
  7. Wipe down remote controls, light switches and door knobs. If you are a germaphobe this one is for you (thanks hubby). Wiping down these items with alcohol wipes kills germs to avoid catching a post trip cold.

We’re heading international in April, so more travel tips to come. Do you have other tips from your travels? Add them to the comments below.

Welcome!

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Welcome to Boston Moms Blog!

It’s been a lot of fun getting this website ready for you, and we are thrilled to have you here!  A lot of blood, sweat and tears (and lots of love and red wine) went into Boston Moms Blog.  We are looking forward to sharing ourselves and getting to know you.

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Photo by Nicole Schwalm Photography

Snow Day Fun!

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Oh the weather outside is frightful and the Boston winters are long!  So what is a Mama to do when the kids can’t go outside to play?  Kids have short attention spans so it is good to have a rotating list of activities to have on hand for snow days.

Bring the Snow In

snow day pic

One of my favorites is bringing the weather inside!  Grab a tray or bowl and fill it up with snow-the cleaner the better since it is all too tempting to eat!  Clear off the kitchen table or counter and let the kids decide what toys they want to add.  Bath toys can become snow toys in the blink of an eye.  Make a snow tea party.  Drive the cars in the snow and recreate the mayhem that blizzard driving creates!

Hide toys in the pile of snow on your tray.  Think of it as a wintery hide and seek/treasure hunt!  But make sure the kiddos wear their mittens during this activity.  Let them choose what they want to hide and this game could go on for a long time!

Get the water color paints out.  Paint the snow!  Food coloring works as well, but it tends to stain little hands a bit more.

Snow and cookie cutters-you bet!  Pack it down and make special cookies that you can preserve in the freezer.

Make some snow cream!  Just like homemade ice cream, but it uses the freshly fallen snow.  Here is a recipe for snow ice cream.

Build

Make a fort!  Grab the couch pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and a flashlight.  Pretend it is an igloo and you have to spend the night during a winter storm.

Enjoy

And when you complete all of these activities, make some cookies and hot cocoa.  Enjoy the time together because all too soon it will melt away!

Visiting the MFA With Your Little Ones

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It is February vacation, time to relax! Oh wait….you are a mom…….well, I hear ya, sister! Resident art teacher and mom here….Alexandra, happy to help.

During this vacation, here are some ways to fill your time with artistic, fun and educational opportunities for your kiddos.

First, I suggest you take a trip with your children to one of the amazing museums the city has to offer.  The most obvious choice is the Museum of Fine Arts, and it is an amazing place….plus there is free admission during vacation week!  They have incredible programs (such as this)  including artmaking and family tours too.

Sometimes though, you just want to go and hang with your babes, all by yourself! Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center for a connection card and more information from the museum itself.  Here are some homegrown ideas on how you can enjoy your trip:

 picmonkey_image

1.Try to create a short scavenger hunt for you and your child. You know your kids….maybe they are little and you keep it simple. Ask your child to find a different color in each gallery as you walk through. If your child is older, ask them him to see if he can find various faces, places and things. Explain to him all about the fancy vocabulary words that artists use; portraits, landscapes and still life.  Have your child check off what they she sees on a page with a clipboard. She will feel like a real hotshot, and look cute doing it.

degas

Here are some famous things to you could try to find at the MFA Boston:

-a ballerina

– a  tree

fruit

flowers

sisters 

a man rowing a boat 

  1. Bring a sketchbook and a pencil and have your child try to draw one of the paintings or sculptures that she sees. If she likes to write, find a painting that has a fantastical story (Watson and the Shark is a good choice) and have them write or tell a story about what happened.
  1. Ask your child to go up close to a painting, and then to go far away. How does it look different? How does it change? Do you see different colors? Shapes? Motion?
  1. Pretend you are shopping.  If you could bring one piece of artwork home in this gallery, which one would you choose? Which one would you choose to hang in your bedroom?
  1. Play I Spy. An oldie, but a goodie.
  1. Guess what materials the work is made out of. You, yourself may be surprised to discover out the answer.  For example, Tara Donovan’s sculpture  below is made out of styrofoam cups!

unnamed-3

Remember, by the end of your trip, you will all be tired. Keep it simple and make it a shorter trip….the museum is not going anywhere and you will be back!

When you get home, ask your child to bring out the sketchbook.  This is a great time to ask your child to draw what she remembers and enjoyed from your trip.  This provides a great opportunity for them to reflect on their experience as well as provide a chance for you to catch your breath!

What is your favorite part about visiting the MFA?

 

Not in the mood to go out? Bring the museum to your house!

-Make a still life. Set up a bowl of fruit and ask your child to draw it in pencil and then watercolor it.

-Museums often have paintings on the ceilings. Don’t be scared mama….bear with me. Take some paper and tape it under a play table and let them paint upside down, Michelangelo-style.

-Find a book about a famous artist. Here is my favorite series, by Mike Venezia.  Read all about the artist and then choose a theme to recreate. If it is Mary Cassatt, have your child draw a portrait of you and him together, or pull out a baby picture of the two of you together. If the artist is Claude Monet, have your child draw some waterlilies and then paint them!

-Your child is more an action painter? No problem! Grab some toys, paint and paper! If you are like me and prefer less of a mess….head to the bathtub! Your child can sit in the tub and paint with legos, toy dinosaurs or trucks on the paper and then scrub it all down with a baby wipe and take a bath, poof! You are the mom of the year.

How to Get Those Photos Off Your Computer!

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2014 YEARBOOK

Showcase your 2014 photos with a photo book

If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds (um, OK, thousands) of photos.

Just.

From.

Last.

Year.

And, if you’re anything like me, most of them are sitting on your computer (or your phone), enjoyed by….no one.

This year I’m changing that….I’m creating a 2014 Yearbook to showcase our family’s vacations, adventures and highlights from last year. Not every single photo, mind you (dear God, I’d be doing this into 2019) but just my favorites, the ones that bring back special memories or really highlight a particular stage in my kids’ lives.

It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task…with a little planning, it can be accomplished in a few nap times or one evening with a glass of wine. The key is to get organized and the rest will fall into place.

First, you need to sort through your photos and choose which ones to use for your book. I created a 2014 folder on my desktop, and within that, a folder for each month (label your monthly folders “01”, “02”, etc. so they stay in chronological order).

As I scrolled through my albums in iPhoto, I dragged the photos I wanted to use into the folders for the corresponding months. Only choose your favorite photos–you don’t need 200 snaps from your week at the Cape; pick five that best tell the story of your vacation.

Once you’ve chosen your photos, pick a website to create your book–my favorites are Shutterfly, Blurb and Artifact Uprising. All offer a host of options, plus customizable pages and cover designs.

Start with your January photos and place no more than three or four photos on each page. I usually don’t add more than a quick sentence for a caption (we’re trying to get this done during naptime, remember?), and often I won’t enter a caption at all so that the photos can take center stage.

Pretty soon, voila! You’ve got a wonderful keepsake, and your kids will love to thumb through the pages and revisit their favorite moments from the last year. You may even consider ordering two copies–one for the coffee table for the kids to enjoy and one to keep on the shelf away from sticky fingers!

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Guide To Boston

Boston Moms Guide to Corn Mazes :: 2020

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Gather up the family for a fun fall adventure! Wander this way and that as you weave through the intricate designs of corn mazes...