Friday, November 9th, 2012
I’m not a crafter. But I am cheap. And after splurging on a generator for my house when Hurricane Sandy hit last week, I decided to do a little DIY for my son Grant’s 4th birthday.
The party theme was a Batman birthday — I used last year’s Halloween decorations (cut-out bats hanging by fishing wire) as the main decoration, hanging them from the ceiling and even sticking them to the walls. And I bought a big piece of poster board and had my husband create a Pin the Tail on Batman game. There’s no tail but it still worked OK.
But the most important part of the party (at least as far as I was concerned) was creating a Batman cake. I’m a decent cook so I figured I could do this. But when I googled “batman cake” and looked for ones on Pinterest, they were all made out of fondant or in fancy shapes. I just didn’t have the patience. I decided to hit my local Michael’s and see what else I could do instead. I stumbled upon this Wilton product: Sugar Sheets. All you do is cut out the image that you want and plop it on the cake. And you can eat it too! I thought it turned out pretty well! Grant and his friends did too. It was demolished in 10 minutes. Which is also why I’m grateful I saved the money and did it myself!
Hooray for cheap moms!
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
As a kid I learned to ski at Paoli Peeks in southern Indiana. Those of you who live in the west or northeast would laugh (think big hill with lots of fake snow; I didn’t learn the terms “piste” or “powder” in reference to skiing till I was in my 20s). But it didn’t matter. I loved it. Skiing was fun!! And I was determined once my kids were old enough I’d take them too. That day came just recently when we all hit the slopes at Smuggler’s Notch Resort near Stowe, Vermont. It turned out to be the perfect place to introduce little ones to skiing. Incredibly, they have ski instruction for kids as young as 2! My son is 3 and he was so proud that he got to ride the “magic carpet” on the mini bunny slope behind the Treasures daycare center (which, btw, was the most impressive daycare center I’ve ever seen — and I toured a lot in Manhattan while looking for a place for my daughter. See pic of the outside area below.) My daughter, 5, was equally as excited in her ski school class, Discovery Dynamos, even though the previous weekend she couldn’t stand the 30 degree weather and snow longer than precisely 3 minutes as we attempted to go sledding. It’s amazing what kids will do when you’re not around for them to whine to! My husband and I sneaked up on our her and the rest of her class learning how to glide (“french fries!”) and stop (“pizza!”) by wedging and unwedging their ski tips. She glided along on the snow and even gave her instructor a high five. We slipped off smiling without her being the wiser. But the moment was priceless. And both kids want to go back! Success!
For more on getting your kids ready to ski and how to do it on a budget, check out this story in the current issue of Parents.
And this upcoming week at Smuggler’s Notch is Winter Week and Thursday, Feb. 23, is their annual Winter Carnival which is co-sponsored by Parents‘ sister publication, Family Fun. It’s a great opportunity to get out with the fam and teach your kids to ski. Click here for deals and details. And let us know how your kids took to the slopes!
Friday, February 3rd, 2012
I just took my son Grant, 3, to Elmo’s Birthday Party at the Sesame Street Workshop today here in New York City. Elmo claims that he is 3 1/2 today (he even had a cake with 3 big candles and one short one), but I think he’s around 10. (Anyone out there keeping count?) In any case, the party was really to celebrate Elmo’s newest DVD: Elmo’s World: Elmo’s Favorite Things which is in stores on Tuesday. At the party, we got a sneak peek. It’s Elmo as you love him, hanging out with Dorothy, Mr. Noodle (actually, Mr. Noodle’s brother, Mr. Noodle) and his kid friends and the subject is, what else: birthdays. Grant laughed out loud like he’d never seen an Elmo episode before — curiously, at home he says he’s too old for Elmo. As far as I’m concerned, you are never too old for Elmo. Love that little red monster. Speaking of monsters, at the party there were two balloon genius whipping up Sesame Street characters for the kiddos. Grant asked for Cookie Monster — check it out. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Elmo made an appearance at the end — the actual muppet himself with I assume Kevin Clash, his puppeteer behind the podium Elmo was sitting on — and Grant was shocked. “Elmo is real, Mommy? I didn’t believe Elmo real!” I said, “Now do you believe?”
“Yes, yes! I believe!”
Friday, December 9th, 2011
We caught on to the Elf on the Shelf trend a little late in my house. The incredibly clever product came on the market more than five years ago now (and was created by two moms, of course!). But if you haven’t heard of it, let me brief you. You buy an Elf in the store (Santa puts them there) and you read the book that comes with him, An Elf’s Story. In the story you learn all about him and his purpose. He is here to watch the children of the household and report back to Santa every night if they have been naughty or nice. You have to give him a name — my daughter named ours “Max” last year — and every morning he magically appears in a new spot in the house. (That’s the trickiest part, moms: Remembering.) But it’s worth it for this powerful line: “Max is watching you!!” Here’s where he popped up this morning:
And tonight he is going to be on TV. Well, all the Elves on the Shelf will be there. The show originally aired around Thanksgiving. But if you missed it, you can watch tonight on CBS at 9:30 ET/PT (or DVR it). My kids got to review it this morning and were mesmerized: “Hey! That’s Max!”
For more Elf on the Shelf delight, or just to pee your pants laughing (this one had to be made for the parents), check out the Elf Training Video.
Now that’s holiday cheer folks!
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
It’s my turn to host the entire family for Christmas this year. Don’t tell anyone, but I have secret fantasies of packing up and flying off to an exotic place where all the cooking, hosting and entertaining is done by someone else! A great place that is offering just that this holiday season is a resort my husband and I visited last year: The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in New Mexico near Albuquerque, New Mexico. And even better, the kind folks at Tamaya have offered YOU, Parents readers and blog visitors a special family plan rate which includes a second room half off! Because is it really a vacation to stuff everyone in one room?! It’s not for me anyway! The promotion will be valid December through the end of February and the offer code will be PARENT. Click here to book.
Here are just some of the fun stuff that will be offered this holiday at the Pueblo Style Resort.
Tree Lighting Ceremony. On, November 26 children from the Pueblo of Santa Ana will sing around the holiday tree in the resort’s living room, festive decorations and a traditional display of luminarias as well as holiday-themed pastries and beverages.
Pueblo-style Gingerbread Making Classes: Every Sunday, guests will take part in an instructional course with a member of the Tamaya’s pastry team to learn how to construct their very own Pueblo-style gingerbread home.
Santa-drawn Carriage Rides: Each weekend, Santa and his reindeer will take guest on a carriage ride through the indigenous Bosque forest and along the Rio Grande River. Guests will receive complimentary hot chocolate and holiday cookies.
Santa Paws: Travelers are encouraged to bring their four-legged friends to celebrate the holiday season. The pet-friendly resort will host the “Santa Paws” event on December 3 which will provide guests with a complimentary photo of their pet with Santa Claus upon a donation of one pet food item to a local animal nonprofit organization.Artisan Market: On December 10, the resort will showcase the culture of the Pueblo of Santa Ana with arts, crafts, and jewelry available from several Native American tribes throughout New Mexico. In addition, the event will feature performances from Native American dancers and musicians.
Christmas Eve Book Reading: Resort guests will gather around the large holiday tree in the resort’s Living Room for a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Santa Claus will make an appearance after the book reading as he makes his way through New Mexico. The resort will serve a traditional New Mexico-style Christmas Eve dinner including pasole, tamales, and biscochitos in its Santa Ana Café and Corn Maiden restaurant.
For more info go to Tamaya’s website.
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Even though I’m an editor at PARENTS where an incredible amount of clever and crafty things are made every day, I am not a crafty, DIY-sort of person. I didn’t even know what a glue gun was until I started working here a couple years ago! But I have to admit that being surrounded by all this creativity has inspired me!
Yesterday I threw a Halloween-birthday party for my kids (Grant, 3 and Madelyn, 5) complete with Halloween decor and food pulled from PARENTS. Here’s what I did and what you can do, too. It’s so easy you could even run out right now to the store and buy all the ingredients and make one of these fun treats or drinks tonight. (I admit doing all of them would take a while — I spent most of Saturday. But it was fun and we did have a blizzard so might as well!)
MUMMIES: These were pulled directly from the October issue of PARENTS. All you do is wrap white electrical tape around a juice box and add googly eyes. Just don’t cover up the straw hole!
PRETZEL BROOM STICKS: These are just thin strips of cheese stuck on pretzel sticks with a little cream cheese. I wrapped them with the ends of cooked scallions. But you can wrap them with whatever you can find.
TEETH: These are slices of apples with a notch cut out of the back side for the mouth and almond slivers jammed in for teeth. Just be sure to dip in lemon juice so your mouths don’t get brown!
FINGERS: My daughter was great at helping with these gory apps. I cut a flat edge off the top of each baby carrot for the nail base with a knife, then added a dab of cream cheese. Madelyn stuck almond slices on for nails. We served with hummus.
What gory treats do you plan to make for Halloween? Or already have? Share them with us!
For more amazing ideas for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s sign up for our 100 Days of Holidays newsletter at parents.com/holiday.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Just one last post about the Disney Princess event in London that my daughter and I attended this weekend. I got this photo from Disney that I think is really incredible. Madelyn and I were on the inside of the palace gates so we didn’t see all the people who were watching the procession of the princesses outside through Kensington Gardens. Disney says that more than 25,000 were there — little girls dressed up in their princess costumes and crowns, waving their Rapunzel flags. Even if you aren’t a Disney fan, it’s pretty incredible I think.
Missed my earlier posts? Click here.
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Wow. What a trip! Madelyn, my nearly 5-year-old daughter, and I are on our way home from an amazing adventure. Yesterday, we arrived at Kensington Gardens in London for the Disney Rapunzel party. (Click here to read my previous posts explaining the event). The park was swarming with families: It was 80 degrees and sunny (in October!) At The Princess Diana Memorial Playground–the most extraordinary playground I’ve ever seen, btw. Madelyn spotted little girls carrying little blue flags with a simple sun decal. “Rapunzel flags!” Madelyn squealed. Ah, the sun emblem was from Tangled; it was an insidery nod that you were here for Rapunzel. As we left the playground, we saw more flags and more little girls dressed up as princesses. Hundreds were standing along the park road where all 10 Disney princesses proceed by carriage to Rapunzel’s party at Kensington Palace. Madelyn and I went through the palace gates to watch from the entrance. Madelyn squealed at every announcement as each arrived in order of their Disney debuts: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, and finally, Rapunzel. (Check back later for video of some of the princesses arriving–even Max, Rapunzel’s horse, made a special appearance).
We spent the afternoon sipping lemonade, eating tea cakes, and other dainty apps. Madelyn got a Rapunzel hair extension that was so long it grazed the ground and a butterfly face paint. Nicole Richie’s little girl got her face painted in the chair next to her (other celebs like two of the Spice Girls and some international celebs I couldn’t spot were also supposedly there).
Due to a scheduling snafu, we missed the musical performance, but because Madelyn was only one of five girls shut out, they let her in to have a private meeting with all 10 princesses. Madelyn was bummed to miss the singing (and an appearance by Flynn Rider), but felt pretty special to get to meet the living dolls. (Rapunzel especially looked like she was off the shelf–take a look at the pic). When Madelyn walked on stage Jasmine took her hand. She was starstruck! When we left she said, “Mommy, this was the best day EVER!” Ah. It was worth it.