Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 2017 vlog.

Just in case you're not follwing our InstaStories (@melissasaigh on Instagram), here's a video montage of my vlogging from the past few weeks...


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring break in florida.

What does every Minnesotan look forward to after three months of winter?!

Some fun in the sun.

This year, during our kindergartner's school spring-break, our family of four headed down to Florida for a little visit to Walt Disney World. My parents have a house near Fort Myers, so we stayed with them for a few days too. We soaked in some sun at their pool, hung out at the beach, and took on Disney's Magic Kingdom during the peak spring-break season. The word "peak", isn't big enough to describe that craziness that is Disney World during spring break. Let's just start there...

The 4 of us in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Linna and Jimmy with their Nana and Bompa. Jimmy's face says it all.

While we had an absolutely magical time when we took our then 3-year-old daughter Linna to Disney World in December a few years ago, this year's trip was not the same experience. Don't get me wrong, the Magic Kingdom is spectacular. However, in my opinion, it is NOT a fun place to visit during spring break. It was over-crowded, hot, and those two things don't boast well with a 16-month-old who has an agenda of his own.

This was Jimmy's first visit to Disney, and while we loved having our family together, it was a little overwhelming and stressful having the toddler with us. He wanted to get out of the stroller and run around, but the streets and sidewalks were packed with sweaty, crabby, and stressed-out parents pushing strollers, chasing their toddlers, and rushing to their next hour-long wait in line. I'm pretty sure that Papa Saigh and I were in the same "hell" as many of the other parents during our visit, judging solely by the distressed looks on their faces. We knew that this was PEAK season at Disney, but holy sh*t.

When you decide to take the plunge and bring the kids to experience the magic of Disney World, you go into it knowing 3 things...

1. You're going to spend $$$.
2. It's going to be a long day(s).
3. You're going to wait in long lines.

However, if you go to Disney World during spring break, the above mentioned are even more intense.

Much more intense.

My dad, Linna, and the Magic Kingdom fire chief. My dad is
the fire chief of our hometown of Hopkins.

Linna in front of Cinderella's castle.

Mama + Papa Saigh with Linna standing in another long, hot line.

Even if we wanted to spend the money to sit down for a decent meal in an air-conditioned restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, we had to wait an hour or more with our name on a list... And that's only IF the restaurant had room for customers outside the existing reservations. We saw so many people sitting on the ground under the hot sun, choking down a hot dog, or some other over-priced fast-food. Plus, we spent over $30 on bottled water, as the drinking fountains inside the Magic Kingdom were either not working, or dripped out warm water. To Disney's credit, they do allow you to bring your own food and drinks inside the Magic Kingdom. However, it was pretty disappointing to not be able to experience the amenities of Disney World, even when we wanted to drop the $$$.

How do people do Disney on a budget?! I'm guessing they don't go over spring break.

On a positive note, our 5-year-old had a wonderful time during her second visit to the Magic Kingdom. She ate cotton candy, rode some of her favorite rides, and even rode her first roller-coaster! Linna is pretty apprehensive when it comes to thrill rides, so we were shocked when she decided to ride the Barnstormer TWICE with her dad (this is a great "first" roller coaster for kids, by the way). The enjoyment we got out of this Disney visit, was seeing the excitement in her eyes with each of the new things she got to experience. Both of our kids even stayed up to watch the fireworks over Cinderella's castle at 9 p.m. We decided to watch from the front of the Magic Kingdom, so we could try and beat the rush to the ferry at the conclusion of the show. Thankfully, we made it on one of the first ferry boats, so we were able to get on the road back to our hotel by 9:30 p.m.

(Linna's first roller coaster ride EVER!)

Since we rented a car and drove from Fort Myers to Orlando, we decided to stay at a resort off the Disney Property. The Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive was a great fit for us. My parents and sister came along to Disney with us, so we stayed in a family suite with the kids, and booked an adjoining room for my parents and sister. The family suite was PERFECT for the four of us! The hotel staff had a travel cot set up for Jimmy to sleep in, and Linna slept on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds in the room. Although Linna and Jimmy were passed out by the time we arrived at the hotel, they were so excited when they woke up to see the bunk-bed area, which even had a separate TV just for them. In the morning, the kids played on their side of the room, while Papa Saigh and I laid in bed watching the Today Show. After a little breakfast at the hotel's restaurant, we put on our swimsuits and spent some time in the pools. This resort has two great pools, and neither were busy during our visit. This was a much-needed change of pace after the craziness that was our Magic Kingdom experience. The Wyndham Orlando Resort was affordable, quiet, and a good fit for a stay off the Disney property.

(Video of our stay at the Wyndham Orlando Resort.)

The rest of our vacation was spent at Fort Myers Beach, shopping at the Miramar Outlets, a Twins game, and soaking up some vitamin D at the pool. Traveling with two little ones isn't the easiest thing, so the beautiful Florida weather made up for any stresses during our spring break. It sure makes me look forward to the end of our winter, so bring on spring!

Linna and Jimmy in Nana and Bompa's Beach Wagon.

Our sassy 5-year-old at the pool in Florida.

Jimmy found his heaven on earth, with all the tennis balls on the tennis court
at my parents' house in Florida.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Traveling with kids.

When it comes to traveling with little ones, I've done my fair share. Over the past 5 years, I've survived multiple "single mama" flights back and forth from Singapore to Minnesota (19 hours of travel "bliss"), domestic flights with both kids, and I spend more than enough time in the car every day with my littles. I've experienced mid-flight diaper blowouts, toddler meltdowns at the airport and on planes, both kids screaming in the car at the same time, and countless "Mom, I'm bored" moments.

Traveling with kids kinda sucks.

While we can't always leave the little rascals at home, I've learned to just try and make traveling with the kiddos as painless as possible. This week, I shared some ideas on The Jason Show, in hopes of helping make your next trip with the kids a little bit easier...



1. Use a Plastic Bag to Turn your iPad or Phone into a Hands-Free Screen




2. Car Organizers from Skip Hop



3. Cordless Headphones from LilGadgets

Having a carry-on packed with electronic attached to a tangled mess of wires, STRESSES me OUT! Cordless headphones for plane and car travel are a must when traveling with kids. These cordless headphones by LilGadgets are volume-limited, so they're easy on kids' ears. Fully-charged they give kids 12 hours of listening, and kids can mo
ve freely up to 30 feet away from their entertainment device. It's always a good idea to get your younger kids used to having headphones on, BEFORE you get on a plane (I unfortunately learned this the hard way).


4. Use Shower Caddies from the Dollar Store for Back-Seat Organization




5. Pack Snacks, Treats + Surprises in Pill Organizers from the Dollar Store




6. Pack Grab + Go Snacks 

7. Activities + Games from Target's Dollar Section + The Dollar Store


I like to pack each activity, craft, or game in its own Ziplock bag, so I don't have
small pieces floating around in my carry-on.


8. RideSafer Travel Vest as an Alternative to Bulky Car Seats

We've been using our RideSafer Travel Vest for the past two years, and it has been a life-saver.
We used it when we lived in Singapore, and had to rely on taxis to get around. It's so much more
convenient than lugging around a bulky car seat when we travel by plane. It's also great for carpooling!


9. The Ultimate Travel Stroller: Austlen Entourage


(This stroller is insane. With a one-second expansion, storage capacity of
150 lbs., and over 30 configurations, the Austlen Entourage is life-changing. It
can be a single or double stroller, and we love the Jump Seat option for our
5-year-old. Can you imagine trips to the grocery store without having to use a shopping
cart, or getting through the airport without renting a baggage cart?! I'm in stroller heaven!)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

DIY with mama saigh: Get ready for spring.

It might not seem like it, but spring is officially FOUR DAYS AWAY! It's time to start thinking about your outdoor garden plans, and liven up your home by adding a little green to your decor. Here are some easy ways to start getting ready for spring, while getting the kids involved. I had so much fun sharing these ideas on The Jason Show this week.



GROW SEEDS IN JARS


Our kindergartener LOVED this project, and it's so easy! Let your kiddos pick out the seeds they want to watch grow, and "plant" them in a mason jar using wet paper towels. You might need to help the kids situate the seeds, so they're pressed up againsts the glass. Keep the paper towels wet, place the seeds in some sunlight, and watch what would actually be happening to a seed underground. Have your kids record the seeds' progress in a journal, so they can see and understand the process of growing healthy food.


EGG CARTON SEED-STARTERS


Green house from IKEA.

Egg cartons are an inexpensive and easy way to get your outdoor garden started, indoors this spring! If you don't have empty egg cartons at home, you can pick them up at your local Fleet Farm. Make sure you poke tiny holes (we used a safety pin) in the bottom of each seed holder for drainage. You'll want to use a good Seed Starting Mix, as your tiny seeds need nutrients to grow. We planted two seeds in each pod, just in case one of the seeds decided not to sprout (make sure you remove one of the plants if both seeds decide to sprout, to avoid a tangling of roots). You'll want to keep the soil VERY moist (we watered every day), and place the seed starters in an indoor place where they will get plenty of sunlight. You can cover each egg carton with plastic (cut the top of the carton off), to create a greenhouse effect, or get a small greenhouse like this one from IKEA for $19.99. Once your seeds start to grow, you'll need to transfer them to your outdoor garden, or another container that will allow its roots to expand. Don't forget to label each carton with the type of seed, as well as date planted.


LADDER HERB GARDEN


We bought this ladder plant stand at IKEA for $39.99, and then picked up some rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, and mint plants at Walmart. We used the same Seed Starter Mix to plant each herb in the plant pots. This herb plant ladder adds so much green and life to our dining room, and we always have fresh herbs to use in our cooking.


SUCCULENTS IN LARGE VASES



Succulents are a "fail-proof" plant that can add life and color to your home. They don't need to be watered very often, and they don't need a lot of sunlight. IKEA has a great selection of inexpensive succulents that we use in our home. We planted two small succulent plants in a large vase that we also found at IKEA, using a succulent soil mix that we picked up at Walmart. Succulents don't like their roots sitting in water, so start with a layer of pebbles on the bottom of the vase, and top with soil. Finally, plant the succulents in the soil, and lightly water when the soil starts looking dry.


SUCCULENTS IN MASON JARS


During the holidays and long winter months, I love having candles all around our home (out of the little ones' reach, of course!). But, when spring rolls around, I love the feel of fresh plants and flowers around the house. However, I tend to neglect plants, and they end up dying. In an effort to add some color to our home, I replaced a couple of the candles on our candle holders, with succulents planted in mason jars. These wide-mouth jars that I found at Fleet Farm work perfectly for the size of the small succulents from IKEA. Just follow the same steps as the succulents planted in the large IKEA vases, to create these little beauties.


BALLOON EGGS IN APOTHECARY JARS



I use my apothecary jars from Jo-Ann Fabrics all year round. For Easter this year, I filled them with some DIY balloon eggs and spanish moss. The balloon eggs can be made using pretty much any type of yarn, string, etc. I used a twisted twine from Fleet Farm for this project, but if you prefer more vibrant spring colors, you have a lot of options with this project! First, blow up water balloons to the size of the egg you'd like. Next, soak your yarn/thread in liquid starch (I soaked mine for about 15 minutes). Then, just start wrapping your yarn/twine around your balloon. Once you're done, let the balloon eggs dry for at least 24 hours (it will feel hard when it's dry). Finally, use a sharp object to pop the balloon and remove it, so you're left with a beautiful decorative egg! Use them around your home to add a little Easter flair!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The struggle is real: Raising a one & five-year-old.

Last week, I was on the phone with one of my mom friends during our semi-regular, 4 p.m. FaceTime happy hour catch-ups.

Yep, this is what my "happy hours" are made of these days.

We were sipping wine and talking (ok, b*tching...) about our first-world, stay-at-home-mom problems, as our 4 children played, whined, yelled, complained, and interrupted our conversation every 2 to 3 minutes. We both have children around the same age, with close to 4 years between our oldest and youngest, so we always find ourselves having a conversation about the "challenging" ages and phases that our kids go through.

As I vented to her about my "week from hell" (our 15-month-old spiking fevers following his vaccines, teething, not sleeping, Papa Saigh's DIY bathroom renovation - the list goes on and on), my friend reminded me of the "living hell" that was her life when her youngest was 1, and her oldest was 5.

Her kids were 1 and 5 when I gave birth to our second child (Jimmy). After Jimmy arrived, I was having an extremely difficult time figuring out my new life with our then 4-year-old and a newborn, and was later diagnosed with having postpartum depression/anxiety. I remember asking her if this whole "mom of two" gig ever gets any better/easier. I was desperate to see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. At the time, she didn't know that I was dealing with PPD, so she gave me a very honest answer to my question...

"Oh Melissa, it only gets harder".

I wanted to die.

How could it get any more difficult that THIS?!

Just an average car ride with my 5-year-old and 15-month-old.

She told me stories about how her then 1 and 5-year-old were constantly fighting, not sleeping, whining about the other sibling, etc., and how she struggled to get through a normal day.

Cut to a year later: I've overcome PPD, and figured out my new "normal" as a mom of two. But now, my kids are at those difficult ages that my friend was telling me about.

And... it's f*cking hard.

Our 5-year-old wants the same attention, personal space, and privacy that she had prior to becoming a big sister. If she's not fighting with her brother over a toy, complaining about him being "annoying", agitating him, or shutting a door in his face in order to get some privacy, she's doing things she knows aren't right, just to get a reaction/attention from us. The 1-year-old is starting to learn about sharing, having patience, and using his words when he wants something... All while teething, and not feeling well following his 15-month vaccines.

Our home has become "Meltdown Central"... And I feel like I'm constantly yelling (pretty sure I said I'd "NEVER yell at my kids"... BEFORE I had kids).

Yeah, I've totally become a "yelling mom".

I struggle to get the 5-year-old to her after-school activities, as the 1-year-old can't seem to go anywhere without having a public meltdown. And while I'd love to sit and enjoy our daughter's dance class, piano lessons, etc., I'm constantly chasing after the "beast" that is our toddler.

Then... there are the car rides.

Oh, the f*cking car rides.

Jimmy can't get through even the shortest car ride without whining, crying, and/or screaming. During the rare moments he is actually quiet, he's either smushing food into his car seat, or dumping his juice all over himself. Next to him is the 5-year-old, demanding radio-station changes, needing a snack, trying to tell me a story, asking a million questions, complaining about and teasing her brother, etc.

A dash-cam video of my facial expressions during these epic car rides, could be its own reality show.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

As I sit here and complain about what seems to be the never-ending, hellish phase that we're currently in, I know that I will seriously miss this sh*t someday. This phase isn't forever. It isn't permanent. And, let's be honest... Things could be SO much worse. My kids are just being kids, testing boundaries, and adjusting to THEIR new "normal". It's my job to help them navigate through these new emotions and transitions.

Papa Saigh and I chose to wait 3 years before we tried for a second child. Some parents have their kids back-to-back, and some decide to go the "one and done" route. No matter how you slice it... Parenthood is tough. Every age and phase our kids go through has its magical moments, as well as the overwhelmingly sh*tty moments... Moments that are enough to leave the strongest parents in tears.

Tough times are temporary.

But so is the magic.

One day, all of these moments will become "the past". Our babies will grow up, and we'll be left with only memories of these moments... The moments that are their childhood.

I'm so not ready for the reality of that day.


When I started writing this blog post a week ago, I was in the thick of what seemed to be a string of sh*tty moments. I was focusing on the "struggles", and failing to see the magic that are my two, growing kiddos. My babies are turning into independent little humans faster than this mama is ready for. If I continue to "just make it until bedtime", I'm missing out on all the magic.

So now, I'm choosing to live in the moment... Embracing the highs, as well as the lows. Sure, this is easier said than done, and it's only a matter of time before I'm going off on my next "mommy rant". But, bottom line...

I will never get these moments back.

So, mamas... Let's embrace ALL OF IT.

The good. The bad. The ugly.

But, when you find a fellow mama struggling to embrace "the ugly", come to her rescue with a bottle of wine, and an open ear. Thank you to all the incredible moms who have come to my rescue over the last 5 years.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Vlogging.

For a few months now, I have been sharing short video-clips of our everyday adventures, on InstaStory (Instagram's version on SnapChat - Follow us at @MelissaSaigh). While I absolutely love following our friends, family, and other "vloggers" (video bloggers) on InstaStory, I know that not all of our blog followers are Instagram users and/or InstaStory followers. So, in an effort to save/keep all of these short video clips that I post on InstaStory (they're "deleted" 24 hours later), I decided to use the iMovie app on my iPhone to string a few clips from last week into a little video. See what you're missing by not following us on InstaStory...


Sorry about all the cut-off text and graphics in the video clips. I need to figure out a way to fix this. While I love writing, "vlogging" adds a little bit more entertainment to the craziness that is our REAL LIFE. What you see is what you get... And pretty much right as we're in the thick of it. I'll be posting more of these video montages on our blog in the weeks and months to come, but seriously, start following us on InstaStory. It's so much fun!