Swimmom’s Weblog

Diary of a Stay-at-home Mom, motherhood and beyond

And she’s up…. January 30, 2008

…..and she’s walking!

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My daugther, Sophia, who turns one next week is now a walker and a pretty good one I might add (it’s just the proud mommy in me).She started taking a couple steps at a time just about 2 weeks ago and now she walks across the room, or from one room to the other. She’s not running yet, but I know once they walk, there is no stopping them.

Now that my household contains 2 walkers, I have been promoted to head referee in charge! Instead of yelling calls, I have moved to immediate separations.

No time to negotiate!

Sophia breaks all the rules.

She’ll climb on anything and use her brother as a ladder in the process. I once saw her step up on his leg to climb onto the couch in the play room.

She is relentless and persistent.

I couldn’t be more proud!

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My Super Sweet 3! January 29, 2008

I am in the midst of a birthday party bonanza.

My little one turns 2 in 2 weeks and counting (yeah!!!) and my son turns 3 in March.

Time couldn’t go by any faster.

I feel like if I close my eyes too long, they will be off to college, getting married and having babies of their own, well, maybe I’m getting carried away, but you get the picture.

So why not celebrate while we can?

If you live in the Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia Area, these birthday places are sure to make your little ones birthday memorable with non stop fun. And not all of them will break the bank (sounds even better)!

1. Jelly Bean Jungle, Marlton, NJ. Whether you opt for a smaller party during normal hours or an inclusive Sunday party where you get the place to yourself, Jelly Bean promises to let the kids roam free and burn off that birthday cake. All you have to do is show up, bring the cake and tons of energy!

2. Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill, NJ. Various party packages include one hour of the party room plus 1 1/2 hour of hands on fun. Also includes a host, colorful place settings and a special gift for the birthday child. Add on a little extra fun with special crafts hosted by the Discovery Museum staff and Deluxe discovery party bags.

3. The Pop Shop, Collingswood, NJ. The pop shop not only has great food, but great parties for kids. Dazzle your little one and their guests with the Pop Shop party or Ice Cream social! For the older kids, add a little Karaoke in the mix. I can’t wait to throw an Ice Cream Social Party for my ice cream lovin’ son. They also give all guests a coupon good for one free cone for a later visit!

4. Oceans-n-Motion, Mt. Laurel NJ. Perfect of an ocean theme.Oceans ‘n Motion indoor play center hosts weekday and weekend parties of 20 children or less and party options to fit almost every budget. Parties include 30 minutes of theme related activities including , dress-up, singing, dancing and games!

5. International Sports Center, Cherry Hill, NJ and Mt Laurel, NJ. While the International Sports Center caters to children of all ages, you are bound to find something fun to do. Choose from the Fun Zone or Roo’s Giant Slide, for children 10 and under, or Roo’s play place for children 6 and under. Aside from fun, parties come complete with tokens, face painting, popcorn, party bags, invitations and paper goods. All you have to do is bring the cake.

6. Pump it up/Bounce U. These inflatable play places specialize in parties and promise tons of safe and clean fun. They both offer weekends or weekday parties complete with supervised playtime, decorations, and party supplies! (Both feature various locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania)

7. The Funplex, Mt. Laurel, NJ. What better place to hold your child’s birthday party than the place with enough activities to keep your kids and this guests completely entertained (and drained at the end of the night). Complete with unlimited choice of foam frenzy or mini golf, unlimited bumpers cars or free fall, pizza and ice cream cake. All you have to do it show up! (My kind of party!)

8. Enchanted Dreams, Haddofield, NJ. Let your child’s imagination flourish with a princess party at Enchanted Dreams. They host weekday or weekend parties complete with dress up, beverages, pizza, and crafts. You can also enhance your party with the visit form a Character, Elegant tea party, Glamor party package or Red Carpet! Aside from birthday parties, they also hold Princess Camp and Special Events. This months special event is Belle’s Book of Love (may be a great idea for a valentine’s event for you child), your child can join Belle for crafts, snacks, music and dance! (I found out about this place from a friend and she said they hold cute parties)

9. Kix and Giggles, Philadelphia, Pa. I’m sure your child is destined from a couple kick and giggles here ! (ha-ha). Fill all your child’s party needs with all day play passes, cake, pizza of hot dogs, decorations,invitations and balloons. Sounds to me like a one stop party shop!

Of course you don’t have to leave your home or break the bank to throw a great party. Remember my New Years blog, there are plenty of fun things to do to spice up your child’s party besides a pinata and pin the tale on the donkey (how old school!)! Family Fun Magazine has some great ideas.

1. Let the kids create their own party hats. Using simple supplies such as construction paper, glue and decorations, this would be a great cute birthday craft.

2. Handprint Aprons. This is a cute craft and a great party favor. All you need is plain aprons, paint, paper plates and a fabric marker. (Get your child/children to make one and this may also be a cute gift for mom, dad or the grandparents.)

3. Make your own pizzas. Make your own dough or use the pre-made crusts! Use bowls and topping to create a toppings bar. Provide some traditional toppings and some creative toppings and the let child’s inner-chef emerge. This may be a bit messy, but definitely memorable!

4. After seeing the make your own pizzas, I thought you could also do this with cupcakes and let the kids decorate their own cupcakes. Make the cupcakes in advance, add coloring to the icing and provide toppings such as sprinkles and candies. You may want to do this instead of a cake.

Don’t feel like birthday’s have to be big and flashy to be fun and memorable! The best parties I had as a kid was a couple kids over, running around in the backyard and great homemade cake (box cake, but homemade!)!

 

Pop-on January 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — swimmom @ 8:46 pm
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This is random but….

Love to pop bubble wrap?

Well, pop-on!

Today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation day! (I didn’t even know it existed) Supposedly it was invented by “accident” by someone wishing to create a cushioned wallpaper (could you imagine bubble wrap on your walls?)

Anyway, check out all these products made by Bubble Wrap that kids would just love (and some adults too).

Hop-n-Pop Activity Mat

For just $75 (JUST $75), you can entertain you child with foot stomping fun and stimulation. The mat is refillable with bubble wrap. The mat is cute, but who needs the mat?

Before you throw away that bubble wrap, here is a cute craft you can create with your kids, courtesy of Grandloving.com:

Grandloving Activity Idea: Bubble Wrap Prints

When you send those packages, be sure to include some bubble wrap with these instructions for an easy project your little artists will love!

Ages: Eighteen months to four years

You’ll Need:
* Tempera or washable fingerpaints
* Smocks or Grandpa’s old shirt as a coverup
* Newspapers to protect the table
* Plastic bubble wrap

Here’s How:
* Paint the bubble wrap.
* Place a piece of paper over it, and remove.
* The result is a gorgeous “modern art” design.

Bubble Wrap Fun features 1001 ways to use bubble wrap some of my favorites were:

#3. Little Boxers. Wrap kids hands in layers of large bubble and let them go at it without pain. No hitting below above the shoulders or below the waist.

#8. Lo-Jack unwanted Joy-Ride by teen. Place 6″ strips around the tires of the family car to alert them when their teenager tries to take the car out for a joy-ride at night, everyone will hear, BUSTED!

#45. Bubble Wrap Baby matting. Improvise a baby changing mat. A sheet of bubble wrap easily rolls up to fit in a baby bag and its padded too.

I can think of #1002:

Mom’s secret Stress reliever. Keep a secret stash of bubble wrap to have your way with during those stressful times during the day! It may not only relieve your stress, but make you laugh in the process!

Whatever you do with your bubble wrap you are probably bound to have just as much or more (I’m betting on more) fun then the kids, so, Pop on!

 

It’s not just Friday, it’s “FUN” Friday! January 25, 2008

What is fun to do this weekend you ask?

Hopefully you’ve come to the right place.

Here are five fun things to do this weekend in the South Jersey/Philadelphia Area(in no particular order).

1. Did you say fun and free? you gotta believe it what to better F’s to combine. Join others with some free fun this Saturday at the Fire and Ice Festival in Mount Holly, NJ (just 20 minutes or so over the Ben Franklin Bridge). The events include Breakfast in Narnia with the Ice Queen at The Robin’s Nest Restaurant, the Philadelphia Zoo’s Zoo on Wheels, dog sled demonstrations, Fire engine rides, and exhibit from the Garden State Discovery Museum, an ice carving competition and plenty more. Festivities begin at 10:00 am. Click here for more information and directions .

2. Is your child a budding green thumb? Longwood Gardens want to show them how with their Kids Pot-a-Plant Activity designed to encourage appreciation of plants. Kids learn an appreciation of nature by potting their own plant to take home and nurture. This program is recommended for children age 3-7 and is free with admission (kids 4 and under free, 5-22 $6). It runs Tues and Saturday from January 26th to March 25th.

3. Join the Garden State Discovery Museum in their Irish Festival celebrations. Kick up your heels with the award-winning dancers and musicians from The Next Generation Traditional Irish American Dancers and Music and make your own stain glass window. Festivities begin at 1:00 p.m. Regular admission applies.

4. Saturday at the Please Touch Museum join New Jersey native and award winning children’s music composer Yosi for performances at 11:oo am, 1:00 and 3:00p.m. (My son loves his fun lyrics!) Regular Museum Admission applies!

5. You want to go out for breakfast but you can’t get your kids out of their PJ’s? No worries at the Pop Shop in Collingswood, NJ! Every Saturday morning from 7:30 to 10:30am kids wear PJ’s (not sweats, PJ’s matching top and bottom or nightgown) and their breakfast is free (doesn’t include beverages and must be accompanied by a paying adult). Sounds good to me!!!!!

 

Did someone say FREE? January 23, 2008

Filed under: motherhood,parenting — swimmom @ 9:20 pm
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With everyone trying to squeeze your last buck these days, why not do things with the the kids that are free.

They’ll have just as much fun, and in the end, you may be able to treat yourself to that mani-pedi you were always meaning get.

Here are the top ten free things my kids love to do.

10. Our favorite one for the summer, chasing my son around the yard with the water hose. I know it’s winter, and summer is months away (UGH!) but those warm weather memories gives me the strength to “hang in there” on the cold winter “inside”days.

9. This may be one for nice weather, but we love walking to our local park and bringing snacks and a drink.

8. Take a walking tour of your nearest city or your own hometown. View the boats on the waterfront, town hall and other local and historic landmarks.

7. Use you child’s favorite characters to make a story created by your little one. Write it down, to read and remember for another day. Have your child draw the illustrations.

6. Go to Petsmart or your local pet store and look at the pets. Be careful not to get tempted!

5. Take a walk past the local fire station. Some days firetrucks are out or the doors are open giving your little one the “Full-Monty”. You may even be able to ask your local fireman to give you a tour of the fire station or the fire truck.

4. Local bookstores, like Barnes and Noble, have great story times for pre-school age kids. Your child gets introduced into reading and socializing and for those kids with “energy” learning to sit still in a group is a plus. This may even be your chance to “preview” some kids books before buying them.

3. Along with your local bookstore, check your local public library. Ours holds Saturday morning play dates for young kids. They read books and make crafts. If you are a new mom or new to the area this is a great way to meet moms in your neighborhood.

2. Nature walks around the block. As long as it’s not super cold, we walk the block/neighborhood and pick up different rocks and leaves we find along the way. In the spring and summer we turn to flowers. (I may have to stop when he gets to the bug and worm stage!)

1. My son is a train enthusiast. We like to check the local train schedule, then take a walk to the train station and watch the trains go buy. He pretend he is seeing, Thomas, Gordon anyone of Thomas’ other friends.

Have any ideas? What are the other free things you and you children enjoy doing?

 

Pink Eye and Banana Bread January 22, 2008

Filed under: cooking,motherhood,parenting,recipes — swimmom @ 2:30 pm
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My son awoke this morning with eyes, crusted shut and glops (like my medical terminology?) of crust clinging to his lashes.

Yep! Pink eye!

And to make it even better, in both eyes.

I think at his age, it is impossible to prevent, especially with my son, his fingers tend to always be in the dirt, in his diaper, up his nose, everywhere they shouldn’t be. And of course, he is always, rubbing his eyes. I am always stressing with him the importance of not rubbing your eyes, and washing your hands, which we do all the time, but what can you do?

I guess only the best you can do.

I can just hope my almost one year old doesn’t get it. Unfortunately she is always in his face, but lucky for us, her fingers are always going to her mouth!

So, I called the doctor and they just called in a script, I guess they want to keep all that highly contagious stuff out the office, so now our task is administering the eye drops, 1 in each eye 3 times a day for 7 days.

And trust me, it is a fight, not because we want it to be, but because my 34 month old son is 42″, almost the same in lbs and solid as a rock. He’s slender,there is not an once of fat on him. He has lead weights as hands and his back sports mini lat muscles.

He is tough, our little linebacker.

Even after explaining to George how it was just like water, which he doesn’t mind, and even after bribing him, which trust me I am not against, we leaned him over to administer the drops, he screamed bloody murder and clamped his eyes shut.

Wonderful!

That means 3 times a day for 7 days, my husband holds George down and pries his eye open, while I put the drops in.

40 more drops, 20 more fights to go.

So, to make him feel better we went to the store and got his favorite things, a new Thomas the Train book and his favorite desert, believe it or not, a small scoop of cool whip with a little bit of rainbow sprinkles.

I know, I couldn’t help it

It breaks my hear to see him sick.

To make me feel better, I made Banana Bread. As you know, this isn’t the first time I talked about Banana Bread and it probably won’t be the last. I love baking, I don’t always eat it, but baking is stress relieving for me, kinda like Izzy on Grey’s Anatomy. I made 2 loaves, one with chocolate chips I thought the kids would like, just a little bit of chocolate chips (1/2 a cup) and one with walnuts for my husband. He loved it.

The recipe, I found today on Epicurious. The one bowl preparation is fast and easy.

You can literally whip it up and throw it in the oven.

With kids at your heels, what more can you ask for.

Aunt Holly’s Banana Bread

3 to 4 ripe bananas
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate chips (as many as you want!) or Chopped nuts (both are optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Bake in a buttered loaf pan until a toothpick stuck into the bread comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Slice and serve.

 

Celebrate Dr. King January 21, 2008

I am reposting the post I made last week on Martin Luther King, just because it fits. If you are looking for some things to do with the kids today to honor Martin Luther King Jr. , here are some ideas, I also added some new things I found at the bottom of the post.

If you think about it,Martin Luther King Jr. was once a kid with a dream, who grew into an adult with a vision to make that dream come true.

You could have a young activist, president, or leader in your home, a kid with a dream.

Help your child make their dreams come true, however big or small they may be, by teaching them historical figures who not only made their own dream come true, but facilitated the making of dreams for children and adults across the country.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

If you live in the southern New Jersey/Philadelphia area and are looking for a way to honor Dr.King with the kids, here are a couple places to help introduce your kids to his courage, strength,honor and his dream.

Today there are various events happening around the area. Following the events this weekend, The Franklin Institute is holding a Scavenger Hunt that focuses on African American Scientists (you can receive 1/2 price admission if you bring in canned goods for donations).

The Crayola Factory is honoring Dr. King by having families write an about him or contribute to a mural honoring diversity.

You can also join the National Constitution Center in performances by the musical duo Two of a Kind in storytelling session with notable Philadelphians, performing readings from Dr. King’s I have a Dream speech.

You don’t have to leave your home to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

Kaboose has some great Freedom crafts you can create with your children to celebrate the man who fought for freedom and equal rights for everyone.

Create Freedom Friends and Martin Luther King Jr. Rainbow Pins (click for instructions and check out Kaboose for more ideas).

Not into crafts, read together.

There are great books out there geared toward children to teach them about Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have a Dream, geared towards age 5-8. Teach your child the words of that historical speech that inspired and changed our nation, with beautiful illustrations by award winning artists. $6.99 at Barnes and Noble.

Martin Luther King Jr. (History Bio Series), geared towards age 7-10. Just $5.95 at Barnes and Noble.

Whatever place you go, craft you do or book you read, just talk with your children about the dreams and visions of Dr. King. Show them that no matter their race, gender, or background, whether you come from the left side of the tracks or the right, you have the ability to make you dreams come true, if you fight for you dreams and if you believe.


This weekend I found some new things to do:

1. Join the African American Museum in Philadelphia for their annual Martin Luther King Day festivities, from 11:00am to 5:00p.m., complete with musical and dance performances and readings. This is a free event, all they ask is that you bring clothes, blankets and toiletries for homeless women and children.

2. At Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square you can join Award-winning storyteller and Author Linda Goss for a lively educational and fun storytelling adventure about Martin Luther King Jr. They will also hold a special kids story time celebrating his legacy at 10:00am and 10:45am.

Don’t forget you can also celebrate by volunteering!