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.

(A "blissfull" car-ride with my two angels. When they whine,
I do my best to get to point B as fast as I can, so I can "wine".)

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!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Little passports world edition subscription.

We recently ordered a 3-month subscription to Little Passports World Edition for our 5 1/2-year-old, as she's currently learning all about the countries around the world in kindergarten this year. Linna loved the Early Explorers kit we got her a few years ago when we lived in Singapore. If you've ever wondered what's inside the Little Passports World Edition monthly packages, here's our 5 1/2-year-old showing you what they're all about...

(Linna opening the first month's package, which is the Explorer Kit)

(Mama Saigh showing a little bit more of the Explorer Kit)

(Linna opening the second month's package, which was all about Brazil)

The third month's package was all about Japan! Linna loved the origami kit,
as well as the little sushi eraser.

Filling her passport with each country's stamp is one thing our 5 1/2-year-old loves
doing each month. I personally like the tiny push-pin stickers that we can put on her
big world map, so she can see the location of each county that we learn about every month.
If you're looking to try Little Passports for yourself, I'd recommend starting with a 3-month subscription for your child's age group. I think we're going to give the Science Expedition subscription next, as Linna is really into anything experimental (mixing, testing, measuring, etc.). We'll let you know what we think! Through March 31st, 2017, you can get $15 OFF any 12-month subscription, using the code LEARN15.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Baby jimmy: 15 months.

Our little man is 15 months old already.

Jimmy is walking everywhere (almost running), and is always trying to keep up with his big sister.

His language and speaking are also developing pretty quickly.

Currently, he's saying "boos" (shoes), Bompa, Papa, Mama, Nana, "Nin-Nah" (Linna), "mah" (more), "nah" (no), "Nugs" (Snugs - his blanket), "dah" (that), "drah" (drop), ball, wow, and woah.

Just a couple days ago, he said his first descriptive word-combo: "blue ball". Jimmy was actually falling asleep in his highchair while eating dinner, when he suddenly woke up and blurted the words out, like they had been on the tip of his tongue for days.

It was adorable. And I love his little voice.

(Jimmy saying "blue ball")

(Jimmy saying "Bompa" - My dad's name)

Jimmy is obsessed with his big sister, and follows Linna everywhere. We are regularly going to the gym during the week while Linna is at school, so he has other little friends to play with in the gym's daycare (and Mama gets a break!). His face lights up when we pick Linna up from school every afternoon.

Jimmy loves his big sister's hand-me-downs!

Jimmy looks like he's 3 years old in this picture.

Recently, Jimmy has started to cry when he sees men that he doesn't know. If we're out and about, and a dude says "hi" to Jimmy, he gets super upset. The only men he "likes" are my dad ("Bompa"), Papa Saigh's dad ("PeePaw"), Papa Saigh, my brother (and that's hit-or-miss), and the guy that works in our gym's daycare center. We're working on this, as well as getting Jimmy to use his words, instead of whining. Always a fun struggle. Jimmy is starting to understand the word "no", and is very good about listening when I tell him "no". Sometimes he tests the waters, but he's starting to point to things that he knows he's not supposed to touch, and says "nah" while shaking his head. He's also very good about saying "nah" and shaking his head when he doesn't want something.

Linna (age 5), and Jimmy (14 months old) in the tub.

Happy hour at the Saigh household.

When Jimmy gets mad... he's MAD. And his cry is piercing. I don't know what it is about his scream, but it really affects his big sister (she gets upset when Jimmy gets upset), and it seriously like shakes my nervous system. I don't know if his cry is just super loud, but it's honestly jolting. His infectious smile and laugh make up for it though. He still has a gap-tooth grin... And I love it. My favorite is when I ask him to "give mama kisses", and he smiles from ear-to-ear, leans in and lets me kiss his face.

Jimmy loves climbing up stairs, and recently learned how to get off of a step carefully, by going down on his butt. A few weeks ago at the gym, I walked into the daycare center to pick Jimmy up, and found him climbing up a slide ladder all by himself. He has NO fear. He also loves balls, and gets so excited when he sees anything round. He also has quite the arm, and can throw, bounce, and kick a ball like a grown man. If you see Baby Jimmy out and about, chances are he'll be carrying around some type of ball.

(Jimmy dribbling a basketball at the gym)

His favorite foods are avocado, veggie straws, any fruit, spinach tortellini, beans, hot dogs, carrot straws, edamame, frozen peas, Z Bars, mac n' cheese, oranges, cheese sticks, and yogurt. He hates being spoon-fed (wants to do it himself). Jimmy drinks water, juice and milk from a sippy-cup, and gets an 8 oz. bottle of milk at night before bed. He's sleeping from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (with a 3 a.m. laughing/talking "party" in his crib every now and then - so annoying), and is pretty much taking one nap a day around 10:30 a.m., lasting anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours. He's at that point where he still could be taking 2 naps a day, but then it's hard getting him to sleep 12 hours at night. He is exhausted by 5 p.m. when he takes one nap a day, and passes out with no struggle by 6 p.m. He also pees a LOT at night, so we sneak a nighttime diaper on him at 10 p.m. each night.

Linna is so protective over her little brother. Jimmy LOVES being outside!

Time is flying by way too fast, and I have a hard time watching Jimmy grow into a "big boy". I feel like he was just a baby, and now my baby is turning into this independent little dude. "Baby Fever" is in full swing for Mama Saigh, but Papa Saigh says we're "done". I think Baby Jimmy needs the chance to be a big brother... Am I right?! :)

We love you, baby boy!