Monday, July 6, 2015

Visit to the play and learn cafe in minnetonka.

Play-area for toddlers and "bigger" kids.

Since it was rainy all morning, today was a perfect morning for our first visit to the Play and Learn Café in Minnetonka. It's a supervised play-area and foodie café for parents with kids age 6 and under, that also offers enrichment classes, children's events and activities, and birthday parties. We have heard so much about this place since they opened earlier this year, and have been so excited to get back to Minnesota for our first visit. I was honestly so impressed with everything from the food and play areas, to the children's activities and cleanliness of the bathrooms.

A look at the front of the Play and Learn Café. This is where you walk in, order food,
and can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, snack or meal from the Café.

Linna playing with a doll house in the play-area.

Busy kiddos in the play-area. Love the smaller and shorter slides for the little kids,
but they have a bigger, tunnel slide for the "older" kids.

Our 3-year-old busy tending to the cash register at the grocery stand.

The Play and Learn Café was pretty busy when we arrived this morning around 10:45 a.m., but it wasn't crazy or chaotic. We were greeted by the owner, Sara, and another staff member, Mary, and they told us how the process worked (even though it was clearly displayed on the wall when we walked in. It's $5/child to play, but our 3-year-old played for free since we ordered $20 worth of food/drinks during our visit.

A view of the infant play-area gated off from the bigger kids' play-area.

Linna playing with the pulley system on the playground.

After we put our socks on, Linna ran into the play-area to explore all the fun toys they have set up. She loved the cash register and grocery store set-up, as well as the sand play-area and playground. She also like watching the babies play in the infant-area from behind the gates (the infant area is now completely separate from the older kids' play-area). After Linna became comfortable playing on her own, I was able to walk over to the Café to order lunch. I liked that I could watch Linna playing, while I ordered our food and drinks. I ordered a vanilla latte (very good), a small beet, goat cheese, and candied-walnut salad (delicious), and a sun butter/jelly sandwich (the Play and Learn Café is peanut-free) with yogurt and sprinkles, and a milk for the 3-year old (she loved her meal). We were given a letter ("N") and asked to find a table, and a staff member brought our food/drinks over to our table. Linna got to write on the chalkboard wall with chalk while we waited for our food. Once our food arrived, Linna would take a bite of her meal, and then run off and play, while I enjoyed my latte and watched her play from behind the Café wall. The play-area staff did a nice job of keeping the toys in their appropriate areas, while playing with the kids. Since we visited on a Monday, Linna got to participate in the weekly Usborne Books Storytime at 11:15 a.m.

Play and Learn Cafe's new menu. Yum!

Our table next to the chalkboard wall.

Usborne Books Storytime... Every Monday at 11:15 a.m.

Linna adding sprinkles to her organic yogurt.

My yummy goat cheese, beet, and candied walnut salad. So good!

I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the staff kept the Play and Learn Café. Even the bathrooms were spotless when the Café was really busy. There was a seat in the family bathroom for kids to sit while their grown-up uses the potty, as well as a changing table for infants. I am so happy that we decided to book Linna's 4th birthday party at the Play and Learn Café next month (she chose the "Art" theme). I think we'll be signing her up for some classes at the Play and Learn Cafe this summer too. We're definitely looking forward to visiting more this summer, especially on hot or rainy days. The Twin Cities was desperate for a place like this, and we're excited to become frequent visitors. We hope to see you there!

Toddler-size potty and an adult-size potty in the family bathroom.

Love that the family restroom makes it easy for growing kids to independently use
the toilets and sinks. Well done, Play and Learn Café!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Linna's first time tubing on the lake.

Our 3-year-old was brave enough to try out our new EZ Ski Trainer on the lake today. She wasn't quite ready to stand up on it yet, but we were so proud that she even tried it. Way to go Linna, and thanks Uncle John and Aunt Jen for taking us out on the boat!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FOX 9: Summer travel with kids.

Quinny Yezz: This is one of my favorite strollers for travel. We've used our Quinny Yezz for over a year in Singapore, as we had to rely on public transportation. It's a well-made, quality, umbrella stroller that will LAST! The stroller collapses and folds up easily with one hand, and folds down into a compact design that you can carry over your shoulder. It comes in a variety of colors, and is meant for children age 6 months to 3.5 years old (15kg/33lbs). The stroller itself weighs just 5kg/11lbs, has a water-repellent fabric, will stand upright on its own, and has a storage pouch on the backside of the seat. The wheels are like the wheels you'd find on Rollerblades, making for a very smooth ride. This is Papa Saigh's (my husband) favorite strollers when he's out and about with our 3.5-year-old. The Quinny Yezz retails for $279.

RideSafer Travel Vest: The RideSafer Travel Vest is a convenient, safe, portable, and legal way to transport your child safely, when a car seat just isn't an option. It's crash-tested and suitable for kids as young as age 3, and at least 30 lbs. I carry our Travel Vest in my bag when we're in Singapore, as we have to rely on taxis for transportation. It's a great option when traveling with children to cities like New York, or places where it's inconvenient to lug around a bulky car seat. The Travel Vest slips on like a jacket, and the seat belt is easily threaded through the shoulder and lap straps. The RideSafer Travel Vest retails between $110 and $149.

Buggy Board: The Lascal Buggy Board attaches to 99% of strollers to create a practical way to transport tired toddlers. Give your little walker the option to run around, or hop on the Buggy Board for a stress-free outing. The Buggy Board also comes in a Mini-Buggy version. We're excited for the release of the new Buggy Board Saddle, which is expected to be released in the fall of 2015! Buggy Boards retail for $89.99.

Tiggly Learning: Tiggly Toys have silicone touch-points, so your tablet reacts to them just like your fingertips. Just tap the shapes, letters, and counting toys on your tablet, and watch your children play and learn. All you need to do is download the free apps, and then your kids can learn and play without using wifi, batteries, or bluetooth (just keep your tablet charged). The Tiggly Shapes system is meant for children age 2-5 years (4 toys and 3 apps included), Tiggly Math is for children age 3-7 years (5 toys and 3 apps included), and the Tiggly Words is for children age 4-7 years (5 toys and 3 apps included). Your kids can use the Tiggly Learning apps without the toys as well. Our 3.5-year-old uses her new Tiggly during our long flights from Singapore to Minneapolis, and back. Tiggly retails for $29.95 and can be found at some Minnesota Apple stores, Kiddywampus, The Minnesota Children's Museum, Pacifier, Walker Arts Center Shop, and the Nicollet Mall Target.

1st Class Kid: This amazing contraption turns your airplane's economy seat into a first-class seat. The 1st Class Kid inflatable travel-pillow was created by a New Zealand Mom who is now living in Las Vegas. The travel pillow inflates by using your own air (mouth), or the airplane's forced overhead-air after take-off, allowing you and your child to stretch out your legs, relax, and hopefully fall asleep. The 1st Class Kid deflates to a small square that can easily fit in your carry-on luggage (we fit two in our carry-on bag very easily). Parents can fly "stress-free" knowing their children are buckled safely in their seatbelts, while sitting comfortably on the airplane. The 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow retails for $29.95, and you can purchase them online.

Usborne Children's Activity Books: Usborne books quite possibly has the best selection of children's travel books around. Our 3.5-year-old loves all the activity packs and dry-erase activity books, that keep her busy for hours during long flights and/or car rides. If you live in the Twin Cities, check out the really fun Usborne Books Storytime every Monday at 11:15 a.m. at the Play and Learn Café in Minnetonka! For just $5, your child can listen to storytime, make a craft based on the book of the week, and this price includes your play-area admission for the day.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Last day of nursery at dulwich in singapore.

We could not have asked for a better year, or better teachers than the ones we found at Dulwich College in Singapore. Linna had her last day of nursery today, before the class spends two months on summer break. Next year (August), the class will be broken up into separate classes for reception (British version of the American Pre-K). We were so sad to say our farewells today, but very excited to jump on a plane tomorrow to fly back to home to Minnesota for the summer!

(Linna says "happy summer break" to her nursery friends at Dulwich.)

(Linna's last walk to the bus stop as a nursery student.)

Linna heading to her last day of nursery at Dulwich. Non-uniform day!

Mr. See (Linna's Mandarin teacher) and Linna. Mr. See says
he will miss Linna asking to  hold her hand when they walk to the library;(

Linna and Miss Wallace - THE best teacher ever!

Linna and Mrs. Najib (assistant teacher). Linna says she will
miss Mrs. Najib's cuddles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Baby saigh #2 pregnancy: Weeks 16 & 17

16 Weeks Pregnant

I have been fighting an awful bug all week. I've been congested, tired, and a bit nauseous for a week, and one night it all came to a head. My entire body ached, but I didn't have a fever. I've never felt so stuffed up in all my life, and couldn't seem to drink enough water and "steam" enough in the shower. I'd get winded just walking a short distance. I had "cold" symptoms when I was pregnant with Linna, but this is much worse. I finally went to the doctor, and while my doctor said that my ears, throat, and lungs looked/sounded like I just had a viral infection, I also had my blood tested for Mycoplasma (walking pneumonia). Sure enough, I've got it AGAIN. Linna and I have had it twice since moving to Singapore, so this makes three! I've had it TWICE during this pregnancy alone (once at 8 weeks pregnant). It sucks not being able to take anything to treat these symptoms when you're pregnant, but a few things have worked. Steaming helps relieve my sinus pressure, Fluimucil helps break up the phlegm, and Unisom and Acetaminophen help make it easier to fall asleep (I've been told these are all safe to take when pregnant). I'm on a safe antibiotic for pregnant woman (z-pack), that will treat/kill the Mycoplasma. I've also started getting heartburn with this pregnancy. I had it really bad when I was pregnant with Linna, but TUMS seem to keep everything under control with this one. My belly is also starting to feel pretty tight, like it's stretching. One night, I could feel these sharp, quick pains in my abdomen that would come and go. Nothing horrendous or really worrisome, but definitely noticeable. The baby is the size of an avocado this week, weighing about 3.5 ounces! I have an ultrasound scheduled on Monday next week, and we should be able to find out if we're having a boy, or another girl!

Mama Saigh, Linna, and "The Bump" at brunch for Father's Day. Papa Saigh
"loves" being in photos, so we let him sit this one out. It was HIS day!
17 Weeks Pregnant

Remember how I said we were planning on finding out the gender of this baby? Well, a beautifully, emotional experience this week, completely reversed that decision. You can read more about what happened in this blog post, but we've decided to wait until the birth to find out whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Crazy, right?! We were 110% certain that we wanted to find out this baby's gender, but I ended up canceling my doctor's appointment this past Monday (it was only an appointment to find out the baby's gender, not a regular check-up). I can honestly say that I will be able to wait until the birth for the big surprise. Other than this big turn of events, I'm happy to report that my boobs aren't completely swollen and sore anymore! On a lighter note, I have to be super cautious whenever I sneeze of cough (if you know what I mean). I've seriously started wearing pads, for fear of pissing myself in public. I'm sure this is TMI for some people, but I honestly have to pee every half-hour. I've been drinking a LOT of water because I'm incredibly thirsty, which I'm sure is contributing to my current bladder-control problem. I'm like a 90-year-old woman (where's my Depends endorsement?!)! The good news though is that I don't have to wake up multiple times at night to pee! It's these little milestones that make a pregnant lady happy. My stomach also gets REALLY tight and a bit "crampy" whenever I bend forward. Nothing alarming, but definitely noticeable. I experienced this same thing when I was pregnant with Linna. I haven't had many weird cravings lately, but I'm still hungry a lot of the time. It is also disgustingly hot in Singapore currently (average "feels like" temperature of 100-degrees, with 60-70% humidity), so I've been spending a lot of time in the pool and indoors. The heat and humidity make me feel and look like a swollen mule. I am so excited to be back in Minnesota this summer! Linna, "the bump", and I will be flying back on Friday, and will stay in Minnesota until mid-August. I'm looking forward to our parents being able to see "the bump" in-person for the first time. The baby is almost 6 oz., and is the size of an onion! Can you believe we're actually going to WAIT to find out this baby's gender?! See you soon Minnesota peeps!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Waiting to find out baby saigh #2's gender.

Is Baby Saigh #2 a boy or a girl?! Photo taken at
Singapore's Raffles Hotel by Kylie Petts
of WonderLight Photography.
I can't believe I'm actually typing these words, but we are going to WAIT to find out whether Baby Saigh #2 is a boy or a girl. If you know me at all, you know that I am a "type A", impatient, planner. Our first baby's gender was revealed before I was 20 weeks pregnant, her name was decided on as soon as we found out that she was a girl, and her nursery was completely ready to go just a few weeks later. So, why would we wait to find out this baby's gender?!

Well first of all, I use the term "we" very loosely. Both Papa Saigh and I were determined to find out Baby Saigh #2's gender as soon as possible, and I had an ultrasound scheduled for Monday morning (today) so we could do just that. However, this past week, I experienced something that was beyond amazing... Something incredible enough to make me completely change my mind.

Last Thursday, one of my very best friends here in Singapore gave birth to her fourth (yes, FOURTH) baby. This woman (Mama Bryce), has naturally birthed all four of her babies WITHOUT pain medication, and waited to find out the gender of each one until the day they were born. Our daughter, Linna, has become best buddies with the Bryce girls, and all of us eagerly awaited the birth of her fourth baby.

The plan was to have me and another good friend (Mama Petts) in the delivery room when this baby was born. When I found out that Mama Bryce was in labor, I raced to the hospital (her doctor said the baby would probably come really fast), and was greeted by Mama Bryce's husband in the lobby. I asked him a million questions during our ride up to the delivery room, as I was so excited to welcome this baby into the world.

You can imagine how shocked I was to open the delivery room door, only to find Mama Bryce holding her brand new baby in her arms.

An unbelievable wave of emotion came over me, and I broke down into tears of happiness. It didn't even phase me that I had missed the birth. I just couldn't believe that this baby was here! A million questions shot out of my mouth, but my main concern... "What is it?!".

"Well come over here and find out," exclaimed Mama Bryce.

Photo by Kylie Petts of WonderLight Photography. This was the moment I walked into the room.
I wish I would have showered/wore make-up/etc... Story of my life.

Completely emotional.

Holding beautiful Savannah Eliza Bryce, just 20 minutes after she was born.

I quickly washed my hands, wiped my tears, and lifted the baby's blanket to see that Baby Bryce #4 was ANOTHER girl! I felt like I was in a dream, and living a surreal experience.

I can't explain why the birth of Mama Bryce's fourth baby had such a profound impact on me. I was convinced that she was going to have a boy this time around, so maybe the surprise of this baby actually being a girl was a shock to my system. Whatever it was, it was enough to make me want to experience this magical surprise during the birth of Baby Saigh #2.

Again, I use the term "we" very loosely. When I told Papa Saigh my feelings about wanting to wait to find out this baby's gender, he basically said, "Whatever you want". I think he's learned that whatever makes me happy, makes his life easier... and what's a few months anyway, right?!

So, yeah. "We've" decided to wait to find out the gender of Baby Saigh #2. This will be a completely different experience than my pregnancy and birth with Linna. Everyone that we've told has asked, "Do you REALLY think you can wait?!". People know me all too well, and I doubted my self-control too. But I can honestly say that I am happy and confident with this decision to wait this time around. There are so few "happy" surprises left in this world, right?! I can't tell you how excited I am for our little family of three to experience this one together.

Welcome to the world, Savannah Eliza Bryce!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Father's day idea.

Papa Saigh is a very simple dude. This year, instead of buying a Father's Day gift, I decided to focus on (appropriate) things that REALLY make my husband happy (remember, I said APPROPRIATE things). The top things I could think of were...

1. Not spending money.
2. Not being hot.
3. Food.
4. Sleep.
5. Spending time with his girls.

So this year for Father's day, we're going to spend the afternoon at an air-conditioned movie theater watching a movie that the 3-year-old and the parents would enjoy (the new Minions movie). Linna and I are also making Papa Saigh one of his favorite deserts (homemade apple pie), while we let him sleep in on Sunday morning. Instead of buying a Father's Day card, I helped Linna make this...

This is something that is easy for a grown-up to prepare for the little ones, so the little ones just have to fill in the blanks.The big kids can do it all on their own. It's more meaningful that an expensive store-bought card, and allows your kids to put their personality into it. The best part is that it doesn't cost a thing! This weekend is actually our last weekend together in Singapore before Linna and I fly back to Minnesota for the summer (Papa Saigh will be joining us in August), so we want to spend as much time together as possible. Otherwise, I would have given Papa Saigh a bottle of Jack Daniels, and sent him to the movie theater alone for the day:)

Happy Father's Day to all the deserving Dads out there!!!