Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mama saigh's red carpet interviews for us weekly.

Photo in the Pioneer Press of Mama Saigh interviewing Jay leno.
I have to admit, doing celebrity interviews on the red carpet as a one-man-band is not the easiest thing to do. I spent years as a one-man-band, reporting on the news in Austin and Rochester, MN. But never on the red carpet. As a former TV reporter in the Twin Cities, I'm used to having a photographer film my interviews, while I have fun with the people I'm interviewing. While I still had SO much fun on the Starkey Gala's red carpet this past weekend, it was a brand new experience for me. And let's be honest, I'm used to wearing yoga pants and pineapple hair-dos on a daily basis, so getting all fancy and having a kid-free afternoon/evening was a nice change of pace. I was doing some freelance work for US Weekly Magazine on Sunday, and my editor gave me the questions to ask the celebs on the red carpet. Some of the celebs would have chatted with me forever, while others where whisked down the red carpet by their handlers. Jennifer Garner was incredibly sweet, posing for a few press photos, but she didn't stop to talk to any media. Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper shook a few hands, and posed for some photos, but handlers kept them moving down the red carpet, and shut down any press questions. The Starkey Gala is such an incredible event, and a wonderful organization right here in the Twin Cities, doing some amazing work for people all over the world. I feel lucky to have been a part of it. Here are a few of the interviews I did on the red carpet...

(Jay Leno. He was so nice and hilarious. And his eyes are a mesmerizing shade of blue/green!)

(That time I was dissed by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.)

(Dascha Polanco from Orange is the New Black. Being a huge OITNB fan, meeting her was such an honor. This lovely lady keeps it REAL!)

(Maddie & Tae. Ah, to be young again. They have so much energy.)

(American Idol winner, Trent Harmon, and his girlfriend Kathleen. Super sweet couple, and she is stunning! I wish I would have gotten a better shot of her dress.)

(The Massey brothers. Very entertaining.)

(Steven Bauer from Scarface, and his girlfriend Lyda Loudon. She's gorgeous... And very young.)

(Frankie Muniz and his girlfriend. Wasn't recording when she gave me her name. Oops!)

Mama Saigh on the red carpet. Dress from my neighbor's closet (thanks Keely!), hair and make-up by Mama Saigh,
and tan line provided by the days at the pool with the kids. SO glam;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MyKid pod: Bluetooth kid-tracker.

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a MyKid Pod to one of you! To enter for your chance(s) to win, simply comment on this blog post below with your first and last name, and city you reside in, and/or share the contest post on your Facebook page. This contest is open to US residents only, and all entries must be completed by 8 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, July 31st, 2016. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on this blog. Each person is allowed one blog entry, and one Facebook entry. Good luck!

REVIEW: While there was a time I actually had our daughter on a leash (it was a backpack leash, and we were traveling throughout Asia), I cringe every time I look back at those photos of her wearing it. However, our daughter was our only child at the time, she wasn't even two years old, and we were two, frantic, first-time parents, trying to navigate through busy, crowded airports. I feel like Papa Saigh and I have come a long way since our "helicopter-parenting" days. Our first child is now almost five years old, we've added another kiddo into the mix (Baby Jimmy is eight months old), and we're back to living in the 'burbs of Minnesota. While I've made a personal promise to never put my child on a leash again, there are still times when I miss her leash-wearing days. And I'm sure we'll feel the same when Baby Jimmy becomes mobile.

Enter the brand new MyKid Pod: A bluetooth kid-tracker with a slap-style bracelet that your child wears comfortably on his or her wrist.

We decided to try this device out on our 4-year-old, as we've started to give her more freedom when running around our very kid-friendly neighborhood.

The MyKid Pod is more than just a monitor that alerts your smartphone when your child runs off. It also has an alarm on the bracelet that alerts your child when they've wondered too far, and allows you to track and instantly locate them. The bracelet works without a cellular data plan, and can be used indoors and outdoors. Parents can set a range that they're comfortable with their child exploring (10 to 150/200-ish feet). Downloading the tracking app onto my iPhone was super simple, and only took a couple minutes to set up. While it's NOT a replacement for parent supervision (duh!), it gives parents the opportunity to give their child a little more freedom, while still knowing where they are at all times.

Linna loved slapping the bracelet on and off her wrists, and she'd wear the device even when I didn't have it turned on. We first tested it out with me inside our house, and her wondering outside (we wanted to see how far 150-ish feet really was). When Linna is playing with her friends in the neighborhood, 150-ish feet doesn't give her very much freedom to explore. However, we are very relaxed about letting Linna play at friends' houses in the neighborhood, since she is almost five years old. For kids who fall into that age range, where they're too little to explore without direct adult-supervision, but still big enough to "test the waters", the MyKid Pod is a great solution. It teaches little ones' about boundaries, while allowing parents' to find their "comfort zone" with their little adventurer.

At under $35, the MyKid Pod is an affordable option for many parents. I've reached out to the company about the possibility of creating a monitoring device with a larger tracking-range for older kids, and they've told me that they'll be putting more resources into something like this, once their first two products are off the ground. I'm very excited to see more from this product line!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Crayola experience at the mall of america.

There's a brand new, permanent exhibit for kids of all ages at the Mall of America! Last month, the 4-year-old, Baby Jimmy, and I went to go check out the Crayola Experience on the third level of the MOA, and let me tell you... It's AMAZING!

Linna and Baby Jimmy outside the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America.

While there's a little bit of a sticker shock on the admission cost, I can tell you first hand that it is completely worth it. We spent three hours inside the Crayola Experience, but we could have stayed for the entire day. So, we ended up getting a membership, as they put the cost of our initial admission toward the cost of an annual membership. Plus, all summer long you can use this discounted ticket link (Password: MNBABY) to get tickets to the Crayola Experience for $13.99 (reg. $19.99)!

Our 4-year-old couldn't get enough of all the hands-on and interactive experiences in this exhibit. She made and named her own Crayola crayons, got to color on life-size statues of animals, melted crayons into molds, starred in her own fashion show, made her own puzzle, and so much more. The have a toddler play-area, and big play-gym for the older kids. She also loved the giant Lite-Brite wall.

Linna spent a lot of time running back and forth through the Rainbow Rain interactive video screen, which allows kids to "magically" catch melting wax with their hands and body...

We also both loved the Rockin' Paper experience...

I couldn't stop cracking up as Linna wiggled her body in front of the special crayon screens inside the "Doodle in the Dark" area. She also thought it was hilarious...

It's an understatement to say that we didn't schedule enough time during our first visit to the Crayola Experience. Next time, we plan to hit up the Cafe, and maybe do a little shopping in the candy store. This is going to be one of our go-to places in the Twin Cities on unbearable summer days, rainy days, and cold winter days. We hope this exhibit is really here to stay!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mama saigh's diy: Summer fun for the entire family.

This week, I was on The Jason Show over at FOX 9. I can't believe it's been over 7 months since I was last on-air. For this segment, I threw on my DIY hat, to make some fun summer games and activities for the whole family.

CLICK HERE to watch the video of the entire segment!

Here's my "how to" on making your own mermaid tail, giant Jenga game, and giant Kerplunk game...


Thank you, Paytin, for modeling a Fin Fun Swimmable Mermaid Tail on The Jason Show!

My 4-year-old daughter and our neighbor girls are OBSESSED with the Fin Fun Swimmable Mermaid Tails. These amazing creations allow kids' (and adults') imaginations run wild, and they come in all colors, styles, and designs. If you want to save money, and get a little crafty, you can make your own mermaid tail at home...

Supplies (I found mine at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft in Minnetonka): A yard or so of a stretchy swimsuit material, heavy duty template plastic, flip flops, scissors, thread, sewing machine, pins, stretch needle (helpful but not required), Gorilla Glue (water-proof/resistant), and chalk or dry-erase marker.

Tip: Buy fabric when it's on sale for 40% off, and get your flip flops on clearance.

I "eye-balled" this by looking at photos of mermaid-tail fins online. Use a dry-erase marker/chalk
on the plastic piece, so you can wipe away your mistakes until you get it right. Then, cut out the fin.

Glue flip flops to the plastic fin.

I had my 4-year-old lay down on the fabric (folded in half, so when I cut, there were two identical pieces), and eye-balled a mermaid tail shape from her rib cage, to about 12 inches past the bottom of her feet. You'll want the mermaid tail to fit tight on the body, so trace the design about an inch outside the outline of your child's body (leaving enough material to sew pieces together). Again, use a dry-erase marker, or chalk.

Once you've cut out your mermaid tail, and have two identical pieces, place the front (sparkly/pretty) sides facing
each other, so you are looking at the back side of the fabric on both pieces. This is how you will sew the two pieces together.
Do not sew the top (waist) of the mermaid tail together, and only sew about an inch past the bottom corners of the tail together using a sewing machine. Starting with the heels of the flip flops (attached to the fin), fit the fin inside the fin part of the mermaid tail. Now, your kiddo can step into the top (waist) of the mermaid tail, slip his/her feet inside the attached flip flops, and pull the mermaid tail up to their rib cage. You are officially a mermaid!


Supplies (I found all of my supplies at Fleet Farm in Carver): Hand saw or circular saw, 4 - 2x4x16 pieces of lumber (cut into 72, 10.5-inch pieces), stain or paint (if desired), sandpaper.

Other than sawing the lumber (I had my husband do that part for me), this is such an easy project. Saw the lumber into 72, 10.5-inch pieces. Sand each piece, then stain (optional). I only stained about 1/4 of my pieces a cedar color, and left the rest
"natural". Stack 3 piece, switching the direction of the wood 90-degrees with each level. If you're having a difficult time removing the wood pieces while playing the game, rub each piece with wax.


Supplies (I found all of my supplies at Fleet Farm in Carver): 4 - 16-inch 2x4 boards, 4 - 10-inch 4x4 boards, drill, screws, spray paint (optional), anchor wire, wire cutters, staple gun, staples, 40 garden stakes, and ball-pit balls.

Use your drill and screws to connect 2 of the 2x4 boards to the 4 - 4x4 boards, to create the base.

Use your drill and screws to connect the remaining 2x4 boards to the top of the base. Spray paint if desired.

Form a cylinder with the wire caging to fit the base, and secure with anchor wire. Use staple gun to connect the wire cylinder to the base. Stick stakes in the wire cylinder (as shown), then dump the balls on top.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Baby jimmy: The first 6 months.

It's incredible how babies can set you off on a roller coaster of emotions. Our sweet Baby Jimmy has been in our lives now for half a year, and time is flying by way too fast.

Jimmy, age 4 months.
My sweet boy.

The first few months of Jimmy's life were pretty rough on me, as I struggled with my role as a mom of two, while battling postpartum depression/anxiety. But now, I feel like I've finally found my groove, and I'm in a very sweet spot with my kiddos. While Jimmy isn't as great of a sleeper as his big sister was (and she still is) at his age, he's finally getting the hang of sleeping 12 straight hours at night. Well, he's getting there. For the past few months, Jimmy would go to bed at 7 p.m., after downing a 7-8 oz bottle of breast milk or formula, and wake up like clockwork at 3 a.m. to eat. He'd go right back to sleep and wake up again around 7 a.m. (often earlier). At his 6-month check-up, Jimmy's pediatrician was concerned about Jimmy's weight-gain, as it was declining (he hadn't started solids yet), and he was only in the 20th percentile. She said that Jimmy was waking up at night because he was hungry. He's been eating 2-3 meals a day (fruits, veggies, oatmeal cereal, quinoa, yogurt, etc.) for the last couple weeks, along with a 6 oz bottle after each meal, and has really started to fill out. While he was still waking up at 3 a.m., he'd only drink about 2 oz., and then go back to bed. We started cutting out the 3 a.m. feeding entirely, and giving him his paci ("wah") instead. Surprisingly, it's worked! Jimmy now eats dinner around 5 p.m., has a bath, plays a bit, drinks a 7-8 oz. bottle before he falls asleep around 7 p.m. Now, if we could only get him to forget about waking up to say "hello" at 3 a.m.


Papa Saigh reading to the kiddos.

Jimmy was exclusively breastfed via pumping for the first five months. I had saved a good amount of milk in the freezer, and could keep up with his feedings by pumping just 3 times a day from 3-6 months. Pumping is incredibly time-consuming, and while it is a labor of love, it was really affecting my stress-level, patience, and parenting. But, for some reason, I REALLY struggled with completely quitting pumping. At 5 months, I went down to pumping 2 times a day, and then to just pumping in the morning. Although I wanted the ease of switching Jimmy to formula, I was apprehensive about it. I think it's because I made it a year giving Linna only breast milk (she never had formula), and part of me felt guilty about not making it that long with Jimmy. However, switching to formula was one of the best decisions I've ever made. While formula is expensive, it is SO convenient! I also didn't have to buy formula for an entire month, because I requested samples from companies, and my pediatrician's office. Jimmy's pediatrician told me that all formula is basically the same, so we weren't set on a certain brand. Every time I went in for one of the kids' appointments, I'd ask the nurse if they had any formula samples on hand. I seriously made it over a month before I had to buy formula!

(6-month-old Jimmy is excited about swinging at the park!)

(6-month-old Jimmy cracking himself up.)

Jimmy is the most expressive little guy. Whether he's excited, happy, worried, or just interested in what's happening around him, his eyes are always wide open, and he doesn't want to miss a thing. You can't help but laugh and melt when Jimmy smiles, because he smiles with his whole face. He loves when people talk to him, and he will smile at just about anyone. Jimmy is such a sweet and happy baby, except when he's tired or hungry. He gets so excited when we say "water" or "milk", but then cries until you stick a bottle in his mouth. Our high-maintenance little man prefers to be fed in his bedroom, with the sound machine on, lights low, while being rocked. He falls asleep on his back in his crib with his two "lovies" up against his cheeks. He slept in our bed or in his bassinet, up until he was about 4 or 5 months old.

(Jimmy's first food at 5 months - Avocado.)

(Jimmy at 4 months old.)
(4-month-old conversations.)

Bath time is one of Jimmy's favorite parts of the day. He's a super messy eater, so I put him in the tub almost every night after his dinner. His little legs and arms start going crazy as soon as he hears me turn the water on. It's so cute! Hopefully, Jimmy will be a water baby just like his big sister Linna. Speaking of Linna, Jimmy is completely infatuated with his big sister. His entire face lights up when he hears her voice. I had to move the kids' car seats closer together, so Linna was in Jimmy's eyesight at all times. While Linna does get jealous of her baby brother sometimes, she is such a loving big sister. A few weeks ago, Linna was watching the Rugrats Movie, and there's a scene where Tommy (the older brother) starts yelling hurtful words at his baby brother after he becomes frustrated with him. The baby starts to tear up watching his big brother's anger toward him, and when Tommy sees this, he realizes how much he really loves his baby brother. Linna started sobbing during this part of the movie. She's such a sensitive little bean when it comes to her baby brother.

(Jimmy's pout. Quite the expression for a 3-month-old baby!)

(This happened ALL the time before I moved their car seats closer together. Jimmy
is 3 months, and Linna is 4 years old in this video.)

Unlike his big sister Linna, Jimmy has become a little petri dish for every virus he comes in contact with. Linna and Jimmy go to the childcare center at my gym (I rarely took Linna to places like this when she was little), and Jimmy has already been on antibiotics twice. At least he's building a strong immune system. He still hasn't had any teeth pop through, but we can see the white nubs under his gums. Jimmy started sitting up on his own at about 6 months old, and loves to roll around to get his hands on things. He is already picking up puffs and cheerios with his hands and putting them in his mouth.

Jimmy has also had two haircuts in his first five months of life. This kid has an incredible head of hair, and people are constantly commenting on it when we're out in public. He's started to sit up in the grocery cart too, so he draws a lot of attention when we're out shopping.

Our baby boy has been an incredible joy in our lives, and is the perfect addition to our little family. I am so excited to watch him and his sister grow up together! Look at how much Jimmy has changed in just 6 months...


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Our new favorite snack: Elli quark.

A few weeks ago, a former co-worker of mine posted a picture of an Elli Quark container on Facebook. While this cheese snack isn't anything new to my German friend (apparently it's been a popular snack in Germany for years), I had never heard of it, and was intrigued. Elli Quark is a spoonable cheese snack, that is similar to yogurt. It has almost half the calories, and 15% more protein than Greek yogurt. Plus it has a less sour taste, no added sugars or artificial sweeteners, and still contains probiotics. Papa Saigh is a big fan of Greek yogurt, but has been getting bored with his regular flavors. So, I picked up a variety of the Elli Quark flavors at Target, and put them to the ultimate test: Pleasing our 4-year-old's picky palate. Here's her verdict...

(Linna trying plain Elli Quark for the first time.)
(Linna trying mint chocolate Elli Quark for the first time.)
Linna's other favorite flavors are vanilla, pineapple, lemon (so good), and cherry. We both tried the red velvet flavor, but we aren't fans of that one. While they are a little more expensive (about $1.79 at Target), they are filling, yummy, and the 4-year-old only eats half a container at a time. Papa Saigh takes them to work for lunch. Even Baby Jimmy likes the plain flavor (although we normally feed him full-fat Greek yogurt)...

(6-month-old Jimmy eating plain Elli Quark.)

If you go to Elli Quark's webpage, you can get a coupon for a free Elli Quark to try it for yourself. Our family is a big fan, but I'd love to hear what you think!

Linna's first dance recital.

This weekend, our 4-year-old performed two dance numbers at her first dance recital in Minnesota. For the past year, she's been taking a once-a-week class at The Dance Warehouse in Chanhassen. After her dress rehearsal earlier this week, I think all of the dance moms in Linna's class were a little nervous about how the girls would do at the actual show, because our 4 and 5-year-olds looked like deer in headlights when they stepped on the stage for the first time (see videos from dress rehearsal, below). I'm happy to say that the girls completely shined on stage at the show (we were only allowed to shoot video at the dress rehearsal), and they looked absolutely adorable. Linna was so excited to have all 4 of her grandparents, Uncle Scotty, Auntie Paige, Mama, Papa, and Baby Jimmy cheer her on at the recital. We are so proud of our tiny dancer!

(Linna's dress rehearsal for her tap dance to "New York, New York".
She's the tiny one, second in on the right.)

(Dress rehearsal for Linna's jazz dance to "I Move My Hips".
She's the fourth in from the right.)