Category: Recommendations

Huntington Beach Library’s Storytime

We have been taking Emma to Huntington Beach’s Central Library story time on Saturday mornings when we have time. She loves it!!

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(sorry for the blurry pic!)

She loves it so much that whenever I say I have to go to the store…she thinks I am saying story time and starts crying if she can’t come along. Now I have to avoid saying that and say I am going to go buy something instead 😛

Every week, they pick a different theme and read 3-4 books relating to that theme. The lady who does the reading is very animated and includes a lot of song and hand movements that the kids love. At the end, you get a stamp and sometimes a treat related to the theme! We’ve gotten cookies, bubbles, and stickers before. Afterwards a lot of the parents hang around in the children’s book area with their kids which is also full of toys for the kids to play with.

You can see the days and times the library has their story time here. There are different ones for different age groups. We go to the toddler one at 10am on Saturdays. The link also includes a calendar of their monthly events. Sometimes they have crafts and plays for the kids. I really love the Huntington Beach library – definitely one of the perks of being an HB resident.

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Emma’s Faves (2 Years!)

Here’s what Emma was loving this past month:

The Bingo Song – Yes…the one about the Farmer and his dog named B-I-N-G-O! This song has replaced Emma’s favorite bedtime song of Happy Birthday. She loves to sing along with me.

Let’s Go To The Farm (Lift The Flap) book – Emma loves books with flaps and this one has tons of them! At first I wasn’t sure how much she liked the book but this past month it’s the book she has been requesting we read every night. The cool thing about this book is it teaches numbers, shapes, animal sounds, and animal names! Emma now recognizes triangles and circles and that baby dogs are named puppies! She loves to press on the doors and say “Ding Dong” and I say “Who’s there?” and she will answer with whatever is behind the door. So cute!

Sweet Potato “chips” – So happy that one of her favorite snacks is so easy to make and is actually healthy. I just slice them and toss them with olive oil and paprika and pop them in the oven at 400 for about 25 minutes. I’m trying to work on making them “crispier” but she doesn’t seem to mind that they aren’t. I may try swapping out the olive oil for coconut oil and upping the temperature.

Melissa and Doug Time To Eat Feeding Set – I got this set along with the matching doll and for awhile she loved feeding her “baby” but recently she has been using parts of this set to feed us and her stuffed animals. She is totally into pretend cooking right now and having picnics!

Endless Numbers – She was a fan of the Endless Alphabet iPhone/iPad app and we recently discovered Endless Numbers which I think she loves even more! The graphics are so cute too.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is coming up! Here are some gift ideas you can whip up or buy to show your appreciation for your mom since they do have the “toughest job in the world”! If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s a must watch and perfect for Mother’s Day.

DIY Clay Jewelry Dish – Dads – you can even get the kids to help you with this one. So cute!!!

Make mom a cute new jewelry dish this year!

Mother’s Candy Bar Printable – super easy for a fast and easy gift. Include a homemade card and this beautiful bouquet and you’re done!

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If your little one is too small to make a card, try this awesome photobooth printable card you can make out of your instagram photos!

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Dual birthstone ring – This one is perfect for all of the moms with 2 kids. Get a ring with the birthstones of both kids.

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Diptyque Candles – These seem to be all the rage right now. I have a hard time spending that much on a candle but if your mom loves candles this one has been getting rave reviews

A photo gift from Pinhole Press – I love giving photo gifts for Mother’s/Father’s Day. In fact, I’ll be sharing a Father’s Day gift I made recently through Pinhole Press soon. I especially love the quality of Pinhole Press compared to other photo gift websites and they also recently introduced some nifty Mother’s Day gift boxes that include a little something along with the photo gift!

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Golden Tote (or other clothing subscription service) – Most moms I know rarely have the time to shop for themselves. It’s just hard to drag a baby or small kid into a dressing room!! There are other popular ones like Stitch Fix but I think this one has better reviews.

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Mommy’s Corner #1

Enough kid talk….here are some things that Mommy enjoys!

Burts Bees Blemish Stick – I kept reading how amazing this stick was for treating pimples so I finally bought it. I don’t break out too often but every once in awhile I get one and it’s great to have this trick up my sleeve for getting rid of it ASAP! I’ve only tried it once so far but it really did work for me!!! Love this.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – This is one of the most talked about book amongst bloggers. It’s not the typical book I read but I’m still enjoying it. Unfortunately, it’s SUPER long and finding the time to read is few and far between so it’s taking me awhile to get through it.

Avarca Pons Sandals – These are my favorite shoes right now. I wear them with everything and always get compliments on them. They are super comfortable too!

Garlic Dip – This dip is SO addictive. I love eating it with pita bread or as a spread for my sandwiches. Also a great dip for your veggies! You can buy it at Whole Foods.

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Wanting:
I’m really tempted to buy these super expensive flats, Tieks, which have been touted as the best travel shoe and have been getting rave reviews from most people. I have a hard time swallowing the price tag of $175 though. Perhaps I’ll splurge when they have a coupon?!

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Best Daycare or Preschool In Huntington Beach/Fountain Valley?

We’re in the midst of trying to choose a daycare for Emma for when the 2nd kid arrives. It’s been a pretty confusing process for me. I wish there were more reviews for daycares kind of like how Yelp is for restaurants. Here are some tips I’ve discovered along the way.

1. There is no “best” kind of daycare. From the many people I’ve talked to including educators, they say you should know the personality of your own child and find the best daycare that suits their personality and a place where they can thrive.

2. There are 2 main philosophies – play-based and academic. Within that, there are more specific approaches such as Montesorri, Waldorf, etc. Some even blend the 2 philosophies.

Play-based: most preschools use this philosophy, children choose activities based on their current interests, classrooms are usually broken up into sections (home or kitchen, science area, water table, reading nook, space with blocks and other toys, or other areas). Kids are encouraged to play and to develop social skills and cooperation among their peers.

Academic: more teacher-led, more structured, and aimed at preparing kids for the kindergarten setting. Classroom time is devoted to learning letters and sounds, shapes and colors, telling time, and other skills.

Huntington Beach seems to have a plethora of Montessori options. Since I’ve heard such good things about Montessori, I’ve really been looking into those schools a bit more. Here’s a little bit more info about Montessori:

I find that Montessori is a mix of the 2 above philosophies. It seems to be a bit more academic focused than other preschools but is also very child centered. Children will learn at their own pace and the classes are more age mixed allowing for children to stay with the same teacher for longer and to develop a close relationship with them as well as leadership skills and independence mixing with both older and younger children. There is a lot of structure, quiet time, and independent work.

3. Other things to consider: size of class, student:teacher ratio, what kind of activities are offered, what is the focus on reading, assess the teachers and staff, how much play-time is offered, how are parents involved and how is everything communicated to parents, how are emotional and disciplinary issues resolved, accreditations, class schedule, safety, and referrals.

Since Emma is a very timid, shy girl who craves schedule and structure I thought it would be best if she was in a Montessori environment. It turns out of the schools we looked at, My First Montessori, had the best ratio. For Emma’s age when she would be starting (age 2), we have the choice of putting her in a classroom with a ratio of 1:6 or 1:8. I like that she can learn at her own pace so if she turns out to be bright she won’t be “held” back by her peers (we can only hope, right? hehe). When we visited the school, it did seem to be a calm environment which I know Emma would do much better at. She gets easily scared with loud noises and aggressive kids. So you can see why I was drawn to a Montessori school. Lastly, we had a friend of a friend that goes to this specific school and highly recommends it!

Some other notable schools in this area you might want to look into if you are interested in other styles of preschool/daycare:

Brightstar Learning Center – My husband’s brother sent his son here and recommends it. Good reviews and good ratio (1:8) but the price was higher than what we wanted to pay for.

Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley – We have several friends that send their kids here and it comes highly recommended. If their ratio was smaller (1:12), we would have definitely considered sending Emma here. It is play-based and very well-kept and clean.

There are also a few popular Montessori schools in HB/FV like Le Port and Fountain Valley Montessori. We visited one of the Le Port schools and was completely turned off by the teacher. She ignored us to the point where we just left because it was getting awkward not being acknowledged!

If you’d like more information about the school we will probably send Emma to, check out their website:

My First Montessori
19118 Brookhurst St
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(714) 842-7337

What preschools or daycare do you send your kids to? We are not putting Emma in for a few months so we still have time to explore more options and change our minds!

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Emma’s Faves (Month 23)

Here’s what Emma was loving this past month:

Ikea Circus Tent ($20) – What a steal! Emma is at an age where she loves going into play houses and under covers. It’s also pretty easy to set up or put away.

Kirkland’s Real Sliced Fruit ($17.64 for 20 bags) – These come in 3 flavors: apple, apple cinnamon, and banana and strawberries. Emma especially loves the apple ones. Recently these were recalled from Costco though so that kind of turns me off of them!

Appu Series on Youtube – Emma LOVES nursery rhymes and music in general. She really likes these youtube videos and can watch them all day long!

I’m A Big Sister – We were given this book from a friend to help Emma adjust to the idea of being a big sister. She LOVES this book and will almost always ask us to read it multiple times to her before bed.

Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD – This 5 star DVD teaches kids letters and the sounds they make. I wasn’t sure if Emma would enjoy this but so far she loves it. I was hoping to find something educational that she can watch and this seems to fit the bill!

Thumper Stuffed Doll – We went to Disnelyand with Emma for the first time this past month and before we left we let her pick out one souvenir. Surprisingly she picked out a stuffed animal (she’s never been super into stuffed animals) but for some reason she LOVES Thumper! She’s never even seen Bambi! I can’t seem to find the exact one we bought but he’s not particularly cute like the usual Thumper. He’s looking off to the side in a weird way. We actually tried to convince her to pick something “cuter” but she was stuck on Thumper ha ha.

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Easy/Low Prep Snacks & Meals For Toddlers

These are some of the foods I try to have on hand for Emma that are pretty easy or quick to prepare and usually require no cooking or a minimal amount of cooking:

Chobani Greek Yogurt Tubes – Supposedly greek yogurt is healthier than regular yogurt and Emma seems to enjoy this brand

Grapes – Just wash and eat! Some people are paranoid about choking so you might want to cut these in half if your little one hasn’t mastered chewing and swallowing yet

Watermelon – I like to buy the mini ones from Trader Joe’s and just cut it up to have ready when Emma wants a few pieces. Buying the smaller ones makes it easier to cut!

Bananas – One of Emma’s favorites! I also use it to make “healthy” ice cream and pancakes which I will write about in another post.

Raisins/Cranberries – Emma loves eating those little red boxes of raisins. We will also add cranberries to her oatmeal sometimes. I also recently discovered you can buy reduced sugar craisins so I might try those next time

Frozen Peas/Carrots – Sometimes when I make Emma’s meals I make her a bunch of little sides bento-style. This is an easy way to fill up one of the compartments.

Sweet Potatoes – These are great because they keep for awhile and you can either microwave them for a fast and tasty treat or cut them up into fries and bake them. Emma loves them either way

Dr Praeger’s Spinach Pancakes – One of those frozen foods that I have on hand since it incorporates veggies and Emma loves any type of pancakes

Trader Joe’s Microwavable Mac N Cheese – Surprisingly, Emma doesn’t really like mac n cheese except for this TJ’s version! Hey, at least it’s made of organic wheat macaroni hehe.

Trader Joe’s Veggie Sausage Patties – These are the best tasting veggie patties I’ve had and Emma loves them too

Green Chopsticks Frozen Dumplings – I love Green Chopsticks! They offer “all-natural” Asian food that are quick and easy to prepare. You can buy these at Costco!

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Roasted Seaweed – Emma loves these but they can get a little messy!

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Favorite iPad Apps For 1-2 Year Olds

I’m so conflicted when it comes to the iPad. Emma has always been super clingy and rarely plays on her own. The only time I can get her to do something on her own is either watching TV or playing on the iPad. So even though I hate being dependent on it, I’m simultaneously grateful for it. Part of me worries about her developing ADHD or being overstimulated from too much screen time but another part of me believes she’s actually learning something from some of these apps! Plus, they are honestly a savior on airplanes. Here’s a roundup of some of Emma’s favorite apps she’s been playing for the past several months:

Endless Alphabet ($6.99) – I got this one when it was free and I can see why they are charging for it now! It’s a very popular app with the kids and designed so well. The game is like a puzzle of a word and you have to drag the letters into their positions. While you are dragging the letters it makes the noise of the sound the letter makes and when you complete the word it plays a cartoon explaining the definition of the word. Emma loves this one.

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PBS Kids Video (Free) – This is hands down Emma’s favorite app. It’s probably my most hated app because it’s not very educational in my opinion. It’s just an app that plays a bunch of PBS shows. Emma’s favorites are Daniel Tiger, Caillou, Syd The Science Kid, and Martha Speaks. The cool thing about this app is it’s very easy for kids to navigate between the different shows. Emma mostly loves watching the opening credits because she loves songs and they are so catchy.

Kids Game Club Apps By TabTale (Free/$3.99) – This company makes a ton of apps…they are all pretty similar with different theme songs. Emma loves them all but she especially loves Wheels On The Bus, one of her favorite songs. The app also includes a bunch of mini games that Emma enjoys.

Zoo Train ($1.99) – I don’t know if it’s Emma’s male cousins influence on her but she loves trains! This one also has a couple of train themed mini games.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($1.99) – This is a great app that teaches counting, shapes, colors, and matching. I have to help Emma with some of the games but she mostly gets it.

Kids Beat Baby (Free) – This music app comes with 2 songs with the option to purchase more. Again, if your child loves songs they will love this app! It has cute illustrations and instruments your child can play along with the song.

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Elmo Calls ($.99) – What kid doesn’t love Elmo? This one is so cute…Elmo pretends to call or facetime you with cute little messages.

What are your kids’ favorite apps?

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Emma’s Favorite Books At 17 Months

So sorry it’s been awhile since I last posted…My husband and I got addicted to Breaking Bad and were binge watching the show whenever we had any free time!

Anyways, back to the topic of this post: Emma’s favorite books! It’s really important to me that Emma loves reading. I love it when we are able to find a book that she enjoys and wants me to read again and again. When she says “again?” it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. I have noticed she is picky about which books she likes and I’m not even sure why she will like one book and not another book. I do notice she likes books that rhyme or have pictures of things she can name. She doesn’t like super wordy books or “artsy” looking books. Here’s a sampling of her favorites right now (you can click on the picture to go to the Amazon page to read more about it):

1. Dr Seuss’s ABC – This has been the only Dr Seuss book she has any interest in but she loves this one. I do notice she loves the alphabet and she particularly likes the pages where she can name the items. Sometimes she gets too bored before we make it to the end though since this is a more wordy book than she usually enjoys. But whenever she sees it she says “ABC ABC” to get me to read it.

2. Brush, Brush, Brush! – I was desperate to get Emma brushing her teeth (she refused for the longest time!) so I thought of getting her a book about brushing her teeth. This one is read to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low” and Emma LOVES it. She always asks me to read this one over and over again. And it worked in helping her to brush her teeth! So we really love this book in our house. My only complaint is the last line in the book is always awkward for me to sing…it never sounds right!

3. Goodnight Moon – Every kid seems to love this book. This was one of the first books I noticed Emma had an interest in and she still likes it to this day! She loves saying “shhhh” when we get to the part about the old lady.

4. Pat The Bunny – Another old favorite of Emma’s. She just loves going through the motions of each page. I wish there were more books like this!

5. Dear Zoo – Emma LOVES animals and she loves lifting the flaps in this book

6. Where Is My Bellybutton – Another flap book that Emma loves. She loves lifting her own shirt up to find her bellybutton too! This book is also great for learning body parts

7. Munchkin Traveling Flash Cards – This is not a book but I thought it was worth mentioning since Emma loves flipping through these cards and learning the names of different animals. She also loves the counting pages!

8. Lastly, I wanted to mention the book that is probably Emma’s favorite right now. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find anywhere to buy it online and I’m not sure if it’s sold in any bookstores either. I got it from Target in the $1 bin. It’s a Sesame Street book called Eyes, Nose, Fingers & Toes and it’s got the different characters telling you to do something different with your body parts like “wiggle your fingers”, “touch your nose”, “count your eyes”….which Emma enjoys because we all go through the motions together. She calls this the “nose” book!

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Emma’s Favorite Thing Right Now: Munchkin Bath Letters & Numbers

We’ve had our ups and downs with bath time. Sometimes she goes through phases where she loves it and sometimes she hates it. I think she started hating it after realizing she hates getting her hair doused with water and having it get in her eyes. Man for the longest time she was dreading it and would want to get out of the bathtub as soon as I started soaping up her hair. Recently we figured out a routine that has helped and she is loving bath time again. She has always loved bath toys. One of her favorites was this windup dolphin we bought from the aquarium. I can’t find it online but it’s tiny and swims in the water. She would always try to catch it with her hands. We played with it so much that finally one day it just up and died on us. RIP windup dolphin.

Recently, I bought these highly rated bath letters and numbers made by Munchkin. Oh my goodness….she LOVES these things! She spends the whole bath time sticking them on the wall. I have been trying to get her to sort them by colors since we are working on colors right now. While she is busy sticking them on the wall, I quickly scrub her down.

(Only $6.99 and totally worth every penny!!!)

They are AWESOME! She looks forward to bath time now. When I start running the water, she tries to climb into the tub before I even have her diaper off! hehe. As for her hair, we’ve discovered it takes a team to wash it. Husband will hold her with her head back while I douse it with water. She is starting to learn that when we do it this way the water does not get in her eyes so she just whimpers a little…but no more tears!!! Yay!

BTW, if you are looking for a true tear-free shampoo…I highly recommend California Baby

This would be a great gift for a 1 year old’s birthday. Throw in a cute animal towel and you’re all set!

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