How I deal with Stress (or at least how I try)

I thought since April is Stress Awareness Month, I would share some ways I deal with stress (or at least how I try). We all have our moments, days, weeks, or even years that just suck and how we manage them is all so different.

I work part-time with students with cognitive disabilities, anything from ADHD, dyslexia to learning disabilities, which often lead to anxiety in many of them. A lot of my work is helping students deal with stress. School and just life can be so overwhelming for them, so I have a lot of executive functioning training and stress management is a huge part of my job. I thought I would share some tips I have learned working with my students and just being a mom, wife, blogger, and person.

dealing with stress

Prioritize and Organize: I really can’t say this enough. When we are faced with huge challenges that we know are stressful triggers for us, you must plan ahead. This can be something with your child and those oh so fun toddler tantrums. If your child hates getting dressed in the morning, plan out the outfits together the night before. Have everything laid out to avoid a meltdown. If bath time is a struggle, figure out a way to incorporate them into preparing the bath. Lay out the towel, the toys, soap, etc. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out, but having a plan always helps with stressful situations.

What I repeat almost daily with my students is to really plan out your week. This goes for adults too. If you know there’s a big meeting on Thursday, make sure everything else is done before then. Clear your schedule of any distractions and work everything else around that meeting. It will help keep your mind clear and focused. If your not an agenda person (I couldn’t function without one), make lists for different parts of your life. Home, self (crucial to do things for yourself), and work. It’ll feel good crossing everything off throughout the week.

Lastly, ALWAYS perform your hardest, challenging tasks first.¬†Doing the harder things first means you are more likely to find unexpected hurdles earlier in the project. Finding hurdles earlier then means you have more time to deal with them before missing a deadline. There is nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute before a deadline. Overall, it’s just better in the long run, although our brains will always pick the easier way out.

dealing with stress

Treat Yourself- Ok, I know this is really taboo, but it’s true. But for me, this doesn’t mean binging on fast food or drinking too many glasses of wine (which 1-2 is great of course). When I do this, I actually end up just feeling worse. For some people, I think it totally works, but for me, it has the opposite effect. I like to get a blowout, cook my favorite meal, get my nails done or even a massage. I actually get massages every three months or so (I have a bad back too), but I really think it helps. It could be going for a walk, turning off your phone and just unplugging. Sometimes, that’s the best feeling, just disconnect.

dealing with stress, at glowout salon getting a blowout

Honestly, we all handle everything in our own way. As long as we know our own limits, you know what’s best for you. If you are stressed out, need a break, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I find myself saying ‘yes’ to everything and fill my plate until it’s over pouring and then I break down. But I’m learning to take it all in stride. Motherhood has probably slowed me down a bit, but it’s also adds other stressful factors. But we are all a work in progress and maybe one day, stress won’t even be a thing. One day ūüôā

I’d love to hear how you guys deal with stress! Let me know.

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

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Our Favorite Children’s Books & Nighttime Routine

INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAYTwo-year-olds aren‚Äôt always that bad. Sometimes, they are pretty awesome ‚ÄĒ especially when they can’t put a book down from their chubby little hands. I started reading with Noah consistently when he was around 3 weeks old and we haven’t stopped since. Although, I use the term “reading” loosely, we just look a lot of pictures and repeat words. It’s the best feeling to watch him grow and find a love of reading. As a former teacher, I was always reading, except it was children’s books (my personal favorites are¬†Hatchet and anything by Jerry Spinelli). I have a love of children’s books.

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Every night, our bedtime routine is a bath, brush our teeth, read two books and sing two songs. We try to stick with it and he is now reminding us if we forget any part (that’s the cutest). I think whatever your nighttime routine is, it’s important to be consistent. Toddlers are so observant and will definitely notice when part of your normal routine is missing. My mom gave me this advice when Noah was an infant. We started our bath, two books and two songs when he was weeks old (and had no idea what was going on), but now he expects it and sleeps 12-13 hours a night. Definitely a work in progress, but it’s so helpful to have a clear routine.

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(*glider by Delta. I love it for our small room)
Here are 5 books we love right now:

1. Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?  by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade

For any vehicle-obsessed little ones (I hear the word “truck” in one day more than I can count) can expect repeat requests for this story at bedtime. From diggers and dump trucks to tractors and cranes, sweet rhymes about familiar bedtime routines gently lull trucks (and kids) off to sleep.

2. My Big Animal Book by Roger Priddy

Two-year-olds love animals, and this giant board book might be his favorite. It groups animals into various categories such as pets and farm animals. Toddlers will recognize their favorite animals and learn some new ones too. Noah loves to point and quiz me, just to make sure I didn’t forget any of them ūüôā


3. Where is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz.

We actually got this for a baby shower gift and was one of the first books to read to him. This not only teaches primary and secondary body parts, the lift-the-flap book is the best part of it. This is apart of a series and they are all engaging.

4. Pirate Pete Polly-Potty Training for Boys 

If you have been following me for awhile, you know we have been trying to potty train¬† (but really that can be a whole other conversation or two itself) Noah for awhile. It hasn’t been easy, but Noah is at least entertained by pressing the cheering button when he attempts to go. Maybe it helps, but either way, it’s his potty reading material.

5. Teeth are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick

Our nanny (when I was working full time) bought this for Noah. Yes, we went through a rough biting phase. I have to say, I think this book really helped. The visuals really showed Noah how it can hurt other children and he has grown out of it. Although, it’s frightening for parents to have to deal with it. This book is a must for all biters.

I would love to know your favorite children’s books! Let me know.

Until next time…

Christine

March Roundup

We are having a baby girl

Instagram is nice and pretty, but I decided I needed another outlet to summarize everything that is going on. A short caption doesn’t really capture everything IRL (for those not familiar, in real life). So every month, I am going to summarize everything I love, some not so great stuff and anything else that happened during the month. I hope you guys like it!

The Good

The most exciting thing I shared was earlier this month, in case you missed it, is I will now be a contributor at Chicago Scene Magazine. They are relaunching starting with their website and going to print shortly after. To be honest, it kind of just landed on my lamp. It’s a new adventure, but I can’t wait to share some articles with you guys. You can read more¬†here.

I did an interview with the online publication, Voyage Magazine. This was pretty cool to be included in their Trailblazer section (because honestly, I feel like I barely keep my house afloat) and how I got my start. I explained a lot of why I started CGL and what keeps me motivated. The interview is here.

There was another #goodandsassy event at¬†Go Glow¬†There were lots on influencers trying out a customized spray tan for the very first time. (I go rather often and I discovered this place). We had wine from¬†Jolie Folie (My absolute favorite ros√©. You can find it at Foxtrot or Goddess and the Grocer), adorable custom cookies from¬†Sugar Fan Club¬†and lots of meat and cheese from¬†Boar’s Head.¬†It was a great event and it’s probably one of the best tans I have ever had. There is another location in Minnesota and they are new-ish to Chicago. It was perfect way to start spring and get ready for warmer months. The facility is clean, easy, and the tan lasts at least a week.

tan from go glow

One day post tan

Manny and I went out for St. Patrick’s Day for the first time in 8 years. Yes, we did the math. It had been that long since we went out. We had a baby free weekend (it was actually really nice to have some freedom for a little) and went to the penthouse at the¬†Swissotel Chicago. We watched the Chicago River being dyed and went out with friends all day. After the hotel, we went to a cool place called Tapster in Wicker Parker and ended with dinner at Dove’s Luncheonette. It was one of my favorite days of the year.

After the hotel, we grabbed drinks along the river

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Watching the river being dyed

Green eggs and ham with corned beef and hash

Noah and I went to the¬†Chicago Children’s Museum¬†for the first time and had such a great time (although, N did have a major breakdown and I ended up Facetiming Manny in tears, but that’s another story..). He absolutely loved it. I also couldn’t believe how big museum was! There is really something for everyone, even for little ones. I often find sometimes places like that are always geared toward older kids, but this isn’t. There is a new exhibit, Growing up Seoul. It’s a sneak peek into life growing up in Korea. Super cool.

We then walked around Navy Pier and he ran after the ducks. It was a great day. Pro tip: I used Spot Hero for $15 and walked two blocks to Navy Pier. Super easy (but a very long day for mom).

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Noah and I infront of EnerGeeWhizz

I have been working out a lot recently and really getting back into shape. I was feeling so good, but my back was starting to get a little sore. Sunday night, I went to grab Noah from the tub and got stuck. Literally. Manny had to come and help pick me up with Noah in my arms. My back was shot. I have been pretty much bed-ridden and have been relying on Manny and my mom a lot.¬†I am a person that likes to do 700 things at once and this time, I really can’t do much but lie in bed. It’s been a real bummer.

How this all got started….

When I was 19 years old, I was in a pretty bad car accident on my way to the University of Iowa to visit a friend. It was the middle of February, wasn’t snowing, but we hit black ice and the rest is history. I broke one of the lowest lumbars in my back, skull fracture, punctured a lung, broken ribs, collarbone, and much more. I was airlifted to the trauma center in Peoria and went through emergency back surgery. I now have 2 metal rods and 4 screws. I healed everywhere else just fine (with lots of physical therapy), but my back can be pretty temperamental with the weather, pregnancy, etc. This past Sunday, it hadn’t been that bad in years. To say this least, that’s been a huge downer this month. I am taking it one day at a time.

This month has been so busy. Lot’s of events and I did some really fun things I did with Noah. Honestly, those are probably my favorite.

Let me know if you guys like the monthly wrap ups!

Until next time…

Christine

Best Brunches and Hunts in the City

Happy Easter Greeting Instagram Post

Spring is officially here (although no physical signs of it. Sigh) and Easter is right around the corner. Get out your pastels, boat shoes, and Easter egg baskets and let’s talk about brunch. I have put together some of the best Easter Brunches and Egg Hunts in the city for the entire family.

Commonwealth Tavern- One of my favorites this year has to be at Commonwealth in Roscoe Village. They will be having a kid-friendly Bunny Brunch on Sunday, March 25 (Bunny Brunch) and Sunday, April 1st (Easter Sunday Brunch) from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be FREE kid-friendly activities will include Easter egg coloring, crafts and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.

While the little ones have fun, adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar (YASSS PLEASE!). There are several brunch options like a Brunch Schnitzel (herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14), or a Pig Muffin (maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12). The Kid’s Menu ranges in price from $5 to $6 with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. You can make reservations at¬†(773)¬†697-7965.

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Easter brunch at Macy‚Äôs (Chicago-Walnut Room) and Oakbrook-Signature Kitchen): March 24th, 25th, and 31st–¬†Meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy balloon artists and face painters while eating a breakfast buffet. You can find both menus and pricing here. Brunch on Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 10am.¬†Macy’s Bunny Brunch

I/O at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago: Sunday, April 1st, 2018‚Äst Boasting to be Chicago‚Äôs largest indoor outdoor rooftop lounge, Easter Brunch is being served under their retractable roof. Besides some of the best views of River North and downtown, eat brunch with the Easter Bunny, get your¬†face painted and my favorite, a play room for the kids. Brunch includes a carving station, an omelette station and family style pastas for $39/adults and $12/kids. To make reservations and find more information, find it¬†here.

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Bistronomic: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 (9:30 am-4:00 pm)-¬†If you and the family feel like getting a little fancy, head over to Bistronomic. Located in Streeterville, serving French food and well known among ‚Äúfoodies‚ÄĚ for being top notch farm-to-table food. This brunch includes a menu with filled with seasonal produce from the Green City Market, with a vegetarian option. $42/adults and $56 with Bottomless Mimosas (PARENT BONUS) 2-course Children‚Äôs menu $20 (under 12). Make your reservations here at¬†Open Table

Lunch with the Bunny at Independence: Mar. 24th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.РHead to the Irving Park neighborhood to Independence Park for breakfast and pictures with the Bunny, face painting, inflatables and art projects. For $15 dollars per person, you can find out more information at Chicago Park District.

New City Lincoln Park- Located at¬†1457 N. Halsted Ave, this recently “modern” mall has been actively throwing family friendly events (we like the tree lighting) all year. For Easter this year, they have a free Easter Wonderland event on their plaza.¬†On March 31st, from 10-12 pm, there will be Easter¬†activities, bunny visits and special appearance by Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. You can RSVP¬†here.
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Tuscany on Taylor: Sunday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuscany Restaurant on Taylor Street will feature an a la carte Easter specials menu created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla. The regular menu will also be available, and some of the specials will include items like a Smoked Salmon Crostini ($11), Gnocchi ($19), Braised lamb shank ($28) and more! You can make reservations here.

900 Shops-¬†This is the first year the Easter Bunny will be at this location. Located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, the Bunny will be available for photos from Friday, March 23 ‚Äď Saturday, March 31. The Bunny will start seeing guests at 12 pm and will see the last guest at 6 pm. Very similar to Photos with Santa Clause, keep in mind that all guests must be present in order to sign up for the virtual line. Once entered, you will receive a text with your estimated wait time. Online reservations are not available. Upon arrival you cannot select your preferred time slot.

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Or if you feel like running around with your little one and getting those eggs, the Chicago Park District has great hunts across the city that are free. Find more at Chicago Park District

Until next time…
 Christine

 

My Lil’ Kicker: Soccer Lessons with Lil’Kickers

Soccer lessons at Lil' Kickers

Staying indoors all winter long with a toddler can be really, really boring. To help bare with the cold months, we started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months and we LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop children’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise. They promote players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son‚Äôs favorite part). My favorite part? Noah get’s to get channel some of his energy all while having a positive learning experience. It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

Ages: 18 months Р9 years
Classes: Weekday & Weekend
Spring Session: Mar 19th РJun 17th

You can book a free trial class using this link.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

(TheChicagoGoodLife is a partner of Lil’Kickers)

Winter Fun for Everyone: Indoor places for the Family

Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!

Chicago:

Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.

TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater

NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes¬†Monthly ‚Äď 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play!¬†Offer expires January 31.¬†

TIP:  There is a parking lot on the side on the building.

NY Kids Club- Chicago

Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.

TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.

Bubbles Academy

Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.

TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.

Purple Playroom

Sod Room–¬†Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago.¬† They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible.¬† They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.

TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.

Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

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Lesson 1- He definitely warmed up ūüôā

Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child‚Äôs social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

LIl' Kickers soccer practice

Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.

TIP: You can get a¬†MINI “PASSPORT”¬†(only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.

Tinkergarten–¬† All classes take place outside at a local park.¬†Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.

TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season

Zumbini–¬†Created by Zumba¬†and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini¬†program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.

TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).

Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers‚Äô Mondays from 9:30 am ‚Äď 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes¬†One World, One Sky: Big Bird‚Äôs Adventure.

TIP: Free with admission.

Kids playroom at the Adler Planetarium

Kidsyard–¬† Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have¬†soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.

TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.

Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.

TIP: Free parking and Wifi

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Chicago-land Suburbs:

Kohls Children’s Museum–¬†Kohl Children‚Äôs Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.

TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.

Adventure PlaylandРLocated in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old.  Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child

TIP: They have punch cards available.

Adventure Playland

Fun Republic Play–¬†Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.

TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.

Wonder Works¬†¬†Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight.¬†Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes¬†six permanent experience zones¬†and hosts¬†parties,¬†field trips, concerts and other fun,¬†educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden.¬†Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult

TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.

Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.

TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars

Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.

TIP: They have won for Best Playroom in 2017.

Gather for kids in downtown Evanston

Gather in Evanston

Free:

Story Time at Barnes and Noble

Dawn- Marie’s Toddler Jam Sessions

Garfield Park Conservatory

Harold Washington Library

Swedish American Museum

Free Thursdays at the Nature Museum

French Story Time (Various locations)

When all else fails:

Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences.¬†

HOOT for Kids-¬†For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.

Bramble Box–¬†Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.

Curiosity Pack–¬†Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.

My Giant Box–¬†My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! ThB001AQDA50ere’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.

Building Tiles Set for Kids

Magnetic building blocks are hands on learning tool. They can be combined in so many different ways! It includes a set of 102 pieces, including magnetic alphabet blocks & numbers. 

With a few more winter months left, I hope some of these ideas help out your little ones (and you!)

Until next time,

Christine

 

Our Little Goldfish

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Growing up, I was always around water and was taught how to swim at a very young age. In fact, I remember taking swimming lessons with my mom when I was 8 years old. Manny, on the other hand, learned how to swim in his adulthood. He has a slight fear of water and we did not want to pass that same feeling along to Noah. I view swimming as a life skill and it is extremely important to teach him at a very young age, plus it’s a fun experience for all of us!

Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School¬†and we LOVE IT! It’s our new favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age, we are in the water with him). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

At first, Noah cried and kept trying to get out of the pool. I never felt embarrassed or worried what the teacher would think. She worked with Noah and did not force him to do anything, just made modifications along the way. During lesson 2, he went completely under water. I was shocked! It actually took my breath away, but he loved it and does it in the bath now ūüôā

By lesson 4, he was finally using the barbell, kicking his feet and using his arms to paddle. We couldn’t believe how much progress he was making. Not only is he learning how to swim, he is more confident in the water compared to the first lesson. This is priceless.

But one of the best features is there are showers, soap, lotion, diapers, wipes, hair dryers, and changing tables. Everything is there for you! Even when it’s super cold, Noah just plays with the various toys and activities until we are all dry and ready to go. He is learning such an important skill he will use his entire life and we are all having the best time while doing it.

They are also offering a great holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicago-land area, they offer swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12. This year, the holiday gift package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a gift basket of Goldfish retail items

All for $189 (*regular price $220). Such a great idea to gift an experience you can do as a family in the new year!

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Until next time…

Christine

5 things to take your Turkey Day to the next level

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are a lot of things we need to do. Whether it is cooking, creating the right place setting or finding the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. I have rounded out some great recipes and fun gift ideas to make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable with your family and friends.

Beet Bruschetta with Lavender- Vanilla Honey Drizzle

IMG_0156 (1)I don’t know what says more than Thanksgiving than beets. It’s like a must right? So why not take those beets and turn them into something fun that everyone would like?! This recipe is from the Ryanne, the blogger at¬†Pineappple Expression.¬†Her stuff is always amazing and under 40 minutes, it is sure to be a serious crowd pleaser.

Prep and Assembly time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes Prep
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 French baguette loaf of bread
  • 1 (5.02 oz) small package of Boursin Cheese (garlic and herbs flavor is best)
  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 1 package of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and slice the beet into 1/4 slices.  Place the slices on a roasting pan and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.  Roast the beets for 30 minutes, but flip after 15 for a more even cook.  When the beets are done, pull from the oven and let them cool.
  2. While the beets cool, slice the bread as you would for bruschetta.  Coat lightly with olive oil and place in the oven under the broiler for a maximum of 5 minutes.  The slices should still be soft, but have a nice golden color to the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, lavender and vanilla bean (scrape the insides out to produce the black flecks) along with the apple cider vinegar.   I love this combo!!
  4. After the beets have cooled, chop into cubes as evenly as you can.  1/4 inch on each side.  First cut into strips, then rotate the knife as you move through.
  5. To assemble the toasts, use a butter knife to spread a layer of Boursin cheese onto each slice of bread.   Next, crumble on a small mountain of the roasted beets.  Using a spoon, drizzle a little bit of the honey mixture over the tops of each toast.  Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt on top.   For more pizzazz, use the sprigs of thyme to garnish the plate.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Wine Bottle Labels

Whether you are bringing wine or serving it, these Thanksgiving themed labels would get a good laugh from all your guests at the table. A set of 4 is $8.89 and available on Prime. Perfect for all wine lovers. Find them here.

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Skinny Pumpkin Bars

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Whether a pre-dinner snack or a dessert, these pumpkin bars are delicious.¬† They are not overly pumpkin and the chocolate chips are a great addition. My son devoured three in one day (he’s 20 months) and I am not going to even tell you how many I ate…..

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (I tried margarine. It doesn‚Äôt taste the same)
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (15oz) can All Natural mashed pumpkin (I like Trader Joes and Aldi)
  • ¬ĺ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

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 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
  6. Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
  7. Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
  8. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
  9. Add in mini chocolate chips.
  10. Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  12. Cool and enjoy¬†ūüôā

Thanksgiving T-shirt- Turkey, Wine and Feeling Fine

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Ok, I know this technically doesn’t go on the table, but how cute is this t-shirt? And pretty¬†accurate right? Thanksgiving is about turkey, wine and RELAXING. It is available for men and women.

It is $17.99 and available on Prime. You can find it here.

Thanksgiving Party Boxes

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I really like these party boxes for either your adult guests or a nice addition to your kids table. It can be filled with candy from a candy bar, leftovers or desserts to go, it is a cute way for your guests to leave with something special from the day.  For a set of 12, it is $11.04 and available on Prime. You can find them here.

However you are celebrating, I hope you have a blessed day with friends and family, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Until next time,

Christine

Getting Social with Social Wine

It’s no secret that I love wine. I always have. I love trying out different kinds. Red, white and even canned wine. There has been a trend in canned wines recently and some of them are just too sweet. But I did find one that I absolutely love! It is called¬†Social Sparking Wine. It is sake that is certified organic, gluten and sulfite free, has 1 gram of sugar, and only 88 calories. In fact, they even will go as far as saying that are the “cleanest alcohol available today”. One of my favorite parts, they are a local, Chicago company!

I have taken them on walks with Noah, drank them on Sunday Funday and even to go while we went trick or treating on Halloween. With 4 flavors for every season, they are just so good. You can find them at Mariano’s, Whole Foods and Binnys.

But I have something even better for you guys. You can now get 15% off using the code socialchristine or here.

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Get social with me and let me know how you like it!

xoxo

Christine

 

Southwest Michigan: All the places you must visit

I have been visiting New Buffalo, Michigan since I was a little girl. In fact, my parents even had their joint bachelor and bachelorette party there over 30 years ago. I grew up going to the beach and going to the farmer’s market every summer. For our very first family vacation, we rented a house on the beach when Noah was just three months old. Read more at¬†Travel & City Adventures¬†IMG_9245