Activity Books to Entertain The Kids This Summer

standard May 25, 2017 Leave a response

It feels rather like the first day of school was only a few weeks ago, and yet, here we are, getting ready for sixth grade graduation and counting down the days until we can stop packing lunches every morning. (7, in case you were wondering. Yes, I really am counting.) Then we have 9 long weeks of summer staring us in the face.

The easy solution, of course, would be to sign the girls up for camp and let other people entertain them while M and I work, but where’s the fun in that?

Nah, I’m going to let them run wild again. They have bikes. They have friends in the neighborhood. They have a craft-store’s worth of art supplies. And they have parents who actually want them to taste the magical mix of freedom and boredom.

After that, if they still find ways to complain that they’re bored, well, there’s never a shortage of chores to do around the house.

That said, I’m also not crazy, so I’m going to hedge my bets by fully stocking the pantry with things to cook, bake, and eat. Fully stocking the craft closet (lovingly known around here as Michael’s). And getting them a couple books of activity ideas.

Books To Entertain The Kids This Summer

Stick it to ’em

Who doesn’t love stickers? Who hasn’t always wanted to make their own? Well, this book has you covered. First, it’ll give you some pointers about lettering and design, show off some hilarious samples, and then lets you get your creative on. Definitely not your average ‘kid’ sticker book. Guarantee you can think of at least three humans in your life who need this book today.

Sticker example that made me laugh for way longer than I should admit.

Mom & Me: An Art Journal to Share

OK, so maybe there’s such a thing as too much togetherness during the summer and I should save this one for the fall. But the concept here is freaking adorable and I couldn’t resist. You get a page and your kid gets a page and you each respond to the same prompt on these pages. Covers feelings, memories, present moment, and even some imaginative coloring. I love the idea of ‘speaking’ to each other via pictures and I think this book could turn out to be a super sweet keepsake.

Mom & Me art journal to share

It’s just so sweet!

Hand Lettering A to Z

Ok, maybe this book was more for me than for them. What can I say, I harbor a deep seated desire to master fancy and whimsical lettering so I can make coolio posters of my favorite sayings. But while I’ve got the whole word thing down pat, the art piece is sorely lacking. Good thing I have a super artistic kid. I have big plans to bribe her to spend her summer working on her lettering, and fine, maybe I’ll work on mine too.

While I dream of writing beautifully, I can at least appreciate the multi-lingual quotes!

Smithsonian Maker Lab

Contrary to popular belief, my kids don’t just sit around crafting all day long. Every so often they like to make things. Recently all they’ve been making is slime. Pink slime. Green slime. White slime. Glitter slime…ohhh…shiny. So when I was at Costco earlier this week, I picked up this book. #1 selling point at the time? I didn’t see a slime recipe in it. Joke’s on me, it’s the first recipe in the book. SIGH. But at least this one is cornstarch based and not borax based. Also there are a ton of other things that will, hopefully, distract them from their current obsession.  Because I am very, very over slime.

How about let’s not squeeze the slime, eh?

 

Baking With Kids: Make Breads, Muffins, Cookies, Pies, Pizza Dough, and More!

We just took the kids to France to visit family and the oldest came home with a raging baguette obsession. Know what’s in this cookbook? A BAGUETTE RECIPE! No idea if it’s any good, but I am stoked to point her to the oven and let her try her hand at baking one. I figure this is a win/win. Whatever she or her sister try to bake, I’m going to benefit, right? Well, as long as they don’t forget to clean up after themselves. I can already taste summer. Trust me, kids who can bake on their own is one of the best parts of watching them grow up.

The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook

My youngest loves to be in the kitchen. Loves, loves, loves it. This past spring she’s become the official mac&cheese chef in our house. (Using my InstantPot! Because I’m indoctrinating her young.)  Between this book and the endless cooking shows that we watch, I have visions of her taking over more than just the pasta cooking. Wouldn’t it be nice for me to get up from my desk at the end of the day and find dinner simmering on the stove? Don’t take this dream from me, people. Those 9 weeks of summer are LOOOONG. Don’t worry, I won’t get my hopes up too high. Or at least I’ll try.

 

I’m sure I’ll find more books that I “must” add to the roster to lull myself into thinking we’re set for the coming weeks, but, for now, I think we’re in pretty good shape. That said, if you have any recommendations, by all means, please share!

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Please note: I received the first three books to review and instantly fell in love with them. The others were purchased by me at my own expense. Every link in this post is an affiliate link which means that, should you click on them and purchase something you’ll be contributing to my personal slush fund for which I will be eternally grateful.

 

A WOW Air Review – Get the Lowdown

standard April 20, 2017 1 response

Please note: I am writing this WOW Air Review of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

WOW Air Review

A few weeks ago I got a call from my sister at 7 am that had me sitting at my computer 5 minutes later googling flights to Paris. From San Francisco. Leaving that morning.

Crazy, right?

Well, turns out, not so much. In fact, that’s how my love affair with WOW Air began.

I hadn’t even heard about Wow until that day. And yet, moments later I was booking a flight and getting ready to pack my bags.

Cost of the round-trip flight? Just under $500.

That’s right. I booked a transatlantic flight three hours before take-off and paid less than $500.

I have to admit that I didn’t waste much time questioning my luck. I booked, and hustled. In less than three hours I had to make childcare plans, prep school lunches, and pack a bag. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the gate that I paused to wonder if I’d gotten myself into a situation I was going to regret.

It’s one thing to fly a cut-rate airline when you’re going just a state or two away. It’s a whole other ballpark when you’re going to be traveling to the other side of the world and it’s going to take the better part of two days. That said, I didn’t exactly have a choice. Time was of the essence and I really didn’t relish the thought of shelling out $2k to fly a more “traditional” airline.

Turns out, I worried for nothing. Suffice it to say, I was so delighted with my WOW Air experience that I have since taken my whole family back to France with meWOW Air flights all the way!

I heard from a friend yesterday that it was hard to find a legitimate WOW Air review, so I’m sharing my experience with you all in case you’re intrigued by these ridiculously low prices and are worried you’ll be flapping your arms all the way to Europe.

The WOW Air Review: what to expect when flying WOW Air

1 – You get what you pay for

Everything on WOW Air has a price, from whether you can choose your seats to how much luggage you can bring with you. The price you see is the bare bottom price. Seat + personal item (aka purse or backpack). You can pay for each carry-on or suitcase, or you can “upgrade” to the other two fare levels (Plus or Biz to include the price of luggage etc.)  The four of us just flew to Paris and I purchased two “basic” seats and two “pro” seats so that we could bring two suitcases and two carry-on bags. It was perfect. (I did have to purchase my tickets in two different orders because I couldn’t select two different price points. I have a feeling this is a glitch that will be eventually addressed.)

You can purchase food and beverages on board for about the same price as on every other flight. (Pizza or sandwich for about $9.) Food was very adequate. Nothing is free. Not even water. They take all major credit cards. No cash.

2 – No TV screens or music

WOW Air is pretty minimalist, so no screens on the backs of the seats or music playing from your armrest. That said, you can rent iPad minis on board that come pre-loaded with a bunch of movies and games for $16. Considering the fact that on other airlines you sometimes have to pay $8/movie, it’s a deal and a half. Good movies too. With a few that are kid appropriate. Oddly enough, they seem to be partial to Benedict Cumberbatch movies, but who isn’t?

So far all WOW Air planes I have flown have had outlets at each seat, so no worries about running out of juice.

3 – Great staff

So far I have been delighted with the WOW Air staff, both at the airport and on the planes. They’re helpful, gracious, and polite. Way more so than some airlines I won’t mention. Plus, they wear uniforms that hail from the 1950’s and it’s beyond charming.

4 – They don’t mess around with carry-on luggage size

Every bag is carefully assessed when you’re checking in. Small “personal” items are tagged to go under the seat. Bigger items for the overhead compartment can be paid for, but must also meet weight and size restrictions. You will not be able to skate. If your bag doesn’t fit the bag sizer it will not go on with you. End of story. If your back-pack is too big, they will charge you. There’s something kind of nice about this no-nonsense approach to the whole thing. Maybe it’s my European blood, but I like a good rule enforcement.

5 – No boarding groups or such shenanigans

WOW Air boards planes on a first come first serve basis. (Except for families and people with special needs who are invited to board first.) They start boarding almost an hour before the flight takes off and, because they’re so strict about the carry-on situation there’s none of the usual overhead luggage drama that can sometimes make boarding so damn stressful.

6 – No first class – everyone in the same boat…er…plane

WOW Air considers all customers to be equal. So, good news, you can totally use the bathroom at the front of the plane! Need a bigger seat? You guessed it, you can buy one. Want to sit closer to the front of the plane? That’s right, you can buy that too.  Need extra leg room? Need I say it? Seat options can be found here.

7 – Iceland? Yes.

Every WOW Air flight lays-over in Reykjavík, Iceland. The Keflavík International Airport is small and somewhat reminiscent of a freshly built Ikea. There are limited options for food, but you can definitely find a couple sandwich options. There’s also a well stocked Duty Free store where you can purchase some Icelandic knits and stuffed puffins along with your booze and chocolates.

 

So, to recap, WOW Air is a minimalist airline that believes in only making people pay for exactly what they want. The seats aren’t overly plush, the offerings aren’t overly abundant, but for an incredibly reasonable price, you can fly to and from Europe quite comfortably.

Would I fly WOW Air again? I already have and am planning on doing so again soon.

Would I recommend WOW Air to a friend? Already have. And now I’m recommending it to you.

WOW Air Review

Please note: I was in no way compensated for this review. I am writing this of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

 

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Come Pley with me!

standard December 5, 2015 Leave a response

All of my daughter’s clothing is piled high in two laundry baskets near the laundry room. Why, you ask? Ah well, that’s easy. It’s because her closet is packed to gills with toys. There’s a bin of doll food, and a bag of puppets. One shelf holds an entire Playmobil schoolhouse and another holds an assortment of building toys all jumbled together and virtually always ignored.

We can’t fit a dresser in her room because the walls are lined with an assortment of organization bins designed to hold (and organize!) even more toys.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s beyond high time I went in there with some big ol’ cardboard boxes and sorted through the mess to find toys we can donate or even just get rid of. But it’s a big job and it’s way down on my ever-growing to do list.

But it is one of the reasons I’m seriously dreading this holiday season. No matter how small the gifts end up being, I truly have no idea where we’ll stash them.

I’ve been working recently with a company that seems to have the perfect answer to my toy clutter situation.

Pley. 

Pley Logo

What do they do? Oh, simply enough, they rent toys.

That’s right. Rent. Toys.

You sign up for their service and, with your child, built out your “pley-list” of toys you’d like to receive. Then Pley sends you the first toy on the list. When you return it, they send the next one out.

Magic. No shelf space has to be dug up. Happy kids with new toys to capture their imagination. Delighted mom who doesn’t have to yell at anyone about picking up toys any more.

What kinds of toys does Pley offer? Mostly LEGO and other construction toys, but they have a few other options.

How clean are they toys? Super clean. Everything gets sanitized before it gets sent out.

What if you lose a piece or two? Eh, these things happen. Pley will replace the pieces before sending the kit out to the next person who requested it.

What if your kid falls in love with a toy and does that ear-splitting death screech when you want to return it? No problem, with one click of a button, the toy is yours. Finding a spot for it…that’s up to you!

So, when family starts to ask you what your kids want for the holidays and you start playing mental tetris with the toys they already have, think about asking for a Pley subscription. Then you’ll have many, many reasons to smile throughout the year!

Group_Shot (1)

 

Please note: Pley is a client of mine and I was compensated for this post, that said, I do adore their service and believe they’ve truly hit on one of the great parenting hacks of all time, so all opinions contained in this post are 100% genuine and mine. 

Visit a C Wonder store and #UnwrapWonder

standard December 18, 2013 1 response

Last week, as most of the people in the area hunkered down and tried to stay warm as temperatures plummeted way below what any of us are used to (hey, be nice, there’s a reason we live in northern California!) I wound my way south to spend the evening at a gorgeous new store called C Wonder.

A month ago I had never even heard of this glittering gem, today it’s high on my list of places to stop by and visit when I’m at Santana Row (a super swanky downtown area nearby with great restaurants and high end stores).

C Wonder is a neat mix of preppy hipster goods that range from clothing and shoes to home and personal accessories. It’s a one stop shop for any shopping you might need. I scored some cute earrings for a teen and some fun stocking stuffers for my kids. I have my eye on a great cutting board for myself and a cute dog collar for our new puppy.

The light in the store is amazing and I had a blast taking photos of all the bright festive displays.

As friends arrived to come shop with me I dragged them from display to display, showing off the monogrammed gifts, the cute clothes, the holiday decorations, even the bicycles (yes, bicycles!) that C Wonder sells.

To be honest, we did spend most of our time drooling over the jewelry. I’m more of a silver kind of girl, but even I was tempted by a few of the shining gold pieces on display.

And then there were the shoes… ah yes… even shoes!

Stop into a nearby C Wonder store and check it out for yourself. I bet you can find the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person on your list! Like… maybe a bicycle with a wine basket? (What? Don’t tell me there isn’t at least one person on your list who wouldn’t want to have a wine picnic!)

Please note: I was compensated for the time spent at the C Wonder store and for this and my social media posts. All photos and opinions are mine and mine alone.