Thursday, February 28, 2013

We're in a commercial.

I See Me! is a personalized children's book company, and the creators are from Minnesota. I'm thrilled to support this local business, and excited that it is receiving so much national and celebrity attention. Linna received her first I See Me! book from a family friend, before she was even born. Since we fell in love with that book, we've been giving Linna these books as gifts ever since. Early childhood literacy is so important, and I'm very happy that our little one loves to have people read to her. Check out the spot Linna and I shot together last week for I See Me!...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Growing up at the little gym.

Today was bittersweet, as we said good-bye to the many friends we've made at The Little Gym of Edina. This morning, we had our last "Birds" class before we move to Singapore for two years. It may seem silly to some people, but Linna has literally grown up at The Little Gym, so we are really going to miss it when we're living on the other side of the world.

(Linna at 17 months old, at The Little Gym with Teacher Tracy.)

We started bringing Linna to The Little Gym when she was about nine months old. That's about the time little ones are constantly on-the-move, and The Little Gym is a safe, happy, and fun place for them to explore and burn some energy. Now that Linna is 18-months-old, I love that she can run around, fall down, and roll off of things at The Little Gym, and I don't have to worry about her getting hurt (almost everything is padded/cushioned). It's amazing to look back on the first couple videos I took of Linna at The Little Gym, where she was a wobbly little crawler, and see how much she's grown in the last year. These days, she's running around the gym, telling everyone "hello", walking on balance beams, and hanging from the bars all by herself (almost!).

(August 2012 - Linna at 11 months old, doing 
the uneven bars with Teacher Stephanie.)

(Look how big she is now with Teacher Tracy!)

This past "season", we had Tracy as the teacher of our "Birds" class. Just like our former teacher Stephanie, Tracy is absolutely wonderful with the kids! Everything that comes out of her mouth is said in an upbeat and fun tone, and she teaches the entire class with a smile on her face. By our second class, she had all of the children's names memorized, and she does such a good job at pointing out each child individually, to make them feel special when they've learned something new. For 45 minutes, we sing songs, play games, test out new skills, and challenge the childrens' individual limits. We start the class by going around the circle saying our names, and bring out the "shakers" to sing the "Hello" and "Goodbye" song. All of the kids in our "Bird" class (10-19 months) are at the age where they recognize their own name, so when they hear it, it's really cute to see their reactions. They have a big parachute and this huge blow-up mat that the kids can sit on while it's filling up with air, as well as balance beams, even and uneven bars, rings, etc., so you can get a little gymnastics training in as well. Teacher Tracy tries to keep all the kids in a group for at least 10-15 minutes, but then they get to go off and explore the gym. From the moment we step in the door of The Little Gym, Linna's face lights up, and she knows she's in for some fun!

(Linna back in 2012 with Teacher Stephanie. She's so little!)

(Linna at 18 months old, walking by herself on the balance beam.)
It was pretty sad saying goodbye to all of our friends today at The Little Gym, but one thing that made today special was that there were three of us saying goodbye, and moving away from Minnesota. We move to Singapore for two years on March 5th, one other family is moving back to Quebec after living in Minnesota for a few years, and the nanny of one of the kids in our class is moving out of the state. It's pretty cool how all of the kids in our class come from different walks of life. Some are from different countries, and not every child comes to class with their mom. Children come to class with grandmas, grandpas, dads, nannies, aunts, and uncles. I will miss chatting with these people every day, and I know Linna will miss her Wednesday mornings at The Little Gym.

(Linna at 11 months old, unable to walk on her own, but
testing out the even bars. She was one of the "little kids" back then.)

Now Linna is one of the "big kids", and loves to
show off on the even bars.)
If you're looking for something for your kids to do this summer, The Little Gym has summer classes for children age four months to 12 years. They also have summer camps available for children age three (potty-trained) to 12 years. Enrollment begins in March. Hopefully, we'll be able to take a class or two when Linna and I are visiting Minnesota in July! If you sign up for classes, don't forget to tell them Melissa from Minnesota Baby sent you:)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learning colors.

She has most of the alphabet down, so we've now moved onto colors. For the past couple months, anytime we'd ask Linna what color something is, her response was always "yellow". Yes, everything was yellow in her world. However today, she learned the difference between yellow and green, while we were playing with her Eco-Dough (colored natural dough). It's the first step in learning colors, so we're so proud of her!

Four days without my baby.

Linna hanging out with Auntie Paige.
In an attempt to get some things done around the house, pack, and get the house ready for showings (yes, we're selling), Linna spent some quality time with her aunties and grandparents this past weekend. This was also the last time some of these people would get to see Linna, before we leave for Singapore next month. My sister came home from Winona (she goes to college there) on Friday, so she could do an overnight with Linna. On Saturday, AJ drove Linna to Mankato so she could spend three days with her Grandma and Grandpa Saigh, and Auntie Lisa who flew in from New York. I stayed back so Linna wouldn't be "attached" to my hip, and they could get some real quality time together.

It's such a double-edged sword, being away from Linna. I know I need a break every now and then, but when I have the break, I miss her. The time away from Linna let's me refresh, and have a little "me" time, so I can be a better mom. But four days was tough. Really though. AJ was out of town for part of the time too, so I was all alone in a big "empty" house. I loved the peace and quiet, but it's so strange not waking up to the sound of Linna playing in her crib. I had so much extra time on my hands, I seriously had to ask myself, "what did I do before I had Linna?". I actually asked my husband this question, and his response was "you had a job". Oh that's right... my job... the place that paid me to do work. Those we're the days, right AJ? ;)

Playing dress-up in Mankato with Auntie Lisa.
Now my job is being a mom. It's an unpaid position, but I live for my job. However, we ALL (working parents or stay-at-home parents) need a little "vacation" now and then. Although it's hard being away from Linna, I'm realizing how much it benefits both Linna and I, when she spends time away from Mama. I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and when we leave for Singapore, we leave our village behind. I will have no help, and no "breaks" unless we find a babysitter we can trust, and AJ will be working a lot. When family members offered to take Linna for a few days this past weekend, my heart sank into my stomach at the thought of the idea, but I knew I had to take advantage of this help.

I was almost in tears when I picked her up in Mankato on Tuesday. I missed her so much, and I swear she got bigger in four days! Her reaction when she saw me was priceless. She looked at me with so much happiness and excitement on her little face, and she literally stared at me smiling while saying "Mama", over and over again. Last night when we were home, she put her hands on my cheeks, looked into my eyes, and with a smile said "Mama, hi!", as if she was reaffirming that I was home with her. I am so thankful, and Linna is very lucky to have so many family members who love her like their own daughter. Grammy Pammy (AJ's mom) even got Linna a membership to the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, that we can use when we come home to visit! From the looks of all the pictures Auntie Lisa sent me of the time they spent there over the weekend, Linna is a big fan.

Coloring with Grammy Pammy (AKA MeMaw).

Thanks Mom, Dad, Auntie Paige, Pam, Marty, and Auntie Lisa for taking good care of our baby!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Celebrity mom favorites.

When I look for new products to try out, I like trying things recommended by other moms or family members. Another place we're always hearing about new and exciting products, is from the mouths of celebrity moms. Do you ever find yourself looking these women, like mom of four Brooke Burke, thinking "how does her skin look so amazing"? Yeah, me too. Here's a few products that are favorites among the celebrity moms we see on TV, in the movies, and on the red carpet.

Nope, that's not Brandi Glanville (haha). It's me,
Mama Saigh, w/the EMK Placental Mask on my face!
Brandi Glanville (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills)

Let's be honest, Brandi Glanville has one of the most rockin' bods I've ever seen. She's like six feet tall, lean, and of course she's a mom of two little boys. You probably know her best from her very public divorce from Eddie Cibrian, after he had an affair with, and later married Leann Rimes. A couple weeks ago, Brandi tweeted a few of her favorite beauty products, including Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask, and EMK Live Anti-Aging Facial Mask. I'm in love with both of these beauty treatments, because I feel like they actually do something. The Bliss Mask comes out like a get, but as you rub it onto your skin, it bubbles and turns into a foam. So fun! It's only a five-minute mask, so great for moms-on-the-go. I was a little hesitant to use the EMK Mask, because I thought it had actual human placenta in it. I later learned that it actually has Bio-Identical PLANT Placental Extract, which is a completely plant-based placental extract that has the same anti-aging repairing effectiveness as human placental proteins. In just 10 minutes, this creamy mask left my face glowing. I had color back in my face and I could tell that it actually tightened my skin. I can see why Brandi loves these products!

Bethenny Frankel (Reality Star & Founder of Skinny Girl)

I discovered one of Bethenny Frankel's favorite products for her daughter Bryn, on her Pinterest page. Bethenny is no stranger to the healthy eating scene, as it's where her fame stems from, and she loves giving her little girl Peas of Mind meals. These meals can be found at Target, and they have a full serving of veggies, but taste like foods such as nachos and pizza. Yum! The Veggie Wedgies do taste like veggies, so my kiddo will eat them about 50-percent of the time, but the Pull-A- Parts are actually really good. I'm dying to try the pizzas because they have more than one serving of veggies, and they look delicious! Bethenny is a great mom to look up to when it comes to feeding your little one healthy food. She's a big believer in using bribery and having patience when feeding her daughter (as seen in the video below), and it looks like Bryn is eating very healthy!

Ivanka Trump (Donald Trump's Daughter)

She's absolutely stunning, and a new mom to one-year-old Arabella Rose. One of the products she uses to keep her skin looking young and fresh, is vbeaute's It Kit. This is a customizable skin-care kit, that comes it a gorgeous case. It includes an anti-wrinkle protecting serum, an exfoliator, cleanser, day cream, and eye cream. This is a great beauty kit for traveling moms, or moms who just want to keep all their beauty products in one sleek-looking case. If these products can make my skin look like Ivanka's, then sign me up!

Kelly Ripa (Mom of Three & Talk Show Host)

Skinny Mama and talk show host Kelly Ripa has been a faithful client of make-up artist Michelle Champagne for some time now, and Michelle recently pinned the foundation she uses on Ms. Ripa. The winner is KohGenDo Aqua Foundation, and I must admit that this beauty product is AMAZING! I do television appearances every now and then, so I know the importance of looking as "flawless" as possible on-air. KohGenDo does just that. I love Kelly's natural look, and you never see her with make-up caked on her face. No matter where she goes, her style is always on-point, and her face is no exception. This skincare-based foundation hydrates your skin, while helping you look your best, without looking like you're wearing a ton of make-up. I mix in a little dab of this foundation with my moisturizer in the morning, brush on a little bronzer and mascara, and I'm officially a mom-on-the-go. I can see why Kelly Ripa is a fan!

Brooke Burke-Charvet (Mom of Four and TV Personality)

I have been in love with my Clarisonic for years, and use it every day. So when I heard that there was an even better model out there, called the Clarisonic PLUS, and that super-mom Brooke Burke-Charvet is a fan, I got my hands on it ASAP! The Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing System features three speeds for the face, and a body mode for cleansing areas of the body needing extra care and attention. This spectacular device has gotten rid of my blackheads, and removes every inch of makeup off my face. One day, after a television appearance where lots of makeup is necessary, I washed my face with a washcloth and face wash. The, I used the Clarisonic PLUS, and the amount of makeup left on my face even after washing with a washcloth and cleanser, was unreal. In about a minute every day, you can have fresh, clean skin like hot mama Brooke Burke-Charvet.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's my kid & I'll brag if I want to.

There's a very interesting piece in today's Star Tribune (Variety Section), written by Bruce Feiler of the New York Times, titled "The Bragging Wars". It's all about parents (like me) who brag about their kid(s), and the people who hate "those" moms and dads. This piece was very well-written, kind of funny, but I totally disagree with many of Feiler's "guidelines for acceptable chest-thumping".

Here's the deal: I have a daughter. I'm very proud of her. I'm going to brag about her.

If you don't like it, that's o.k., and I'm not offended. Heck, I wouldn't even be offended if you ignore my bragging, or "unfriend" me on Facebook. That's your choice. Just like it's my choice to brag about my daughter. We have close friends who have actually admitted to us that they have "hidden my posts/feed" on Facebook, because I share photos of our daughter every day... multiple times a day. We also have friends and family members who say they can't get enough of those photos. Again, I'm not offended if you chose not to read my posts, look at my photos, and I admit that my posts can be excessive. I apologize if my actions have offended you (not really).

I'm a very proud Mama, but that doesn't mean I constantly talk about how "perfect" or "amazing" my kid is. Sure Linna poops in the bathtub like other kids, has temper-tantrums when I take her away from her toys, and yes, she has even sunk her little teeth into my mom's skin. She's no perfect angel, but I am so proud of her, and no matter how naughty or imperfect she can be at times, she's still "perfect" in my eyes. I make mistakes as a mom, but when I feel like I've done something "right", I'm going to tell you about it.

I love seeing all the photos that my friends, family, and other parents post of their children and grandchildren on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I appreciate when a parent wants to "show off" their kid. You're proud, as you should be. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and when you're kid has one of those "good" moments, I like to hear about it. Yes, there's the flip-side to this, when all you hear is the "amazing", "advanced", "great" things a person's child does. That's a load of crap, because we ALL have moments where we want to lock ourselves in a room and scream after a bad day. If you can't be honest about the "real" stuff that comes along with parenting, then I don't want to be a part of your little fantasy.

I'm a real mom, with a real kid, and I REALLY like to brag about her. I'll tell you about the good, the bad, and of course the ugly. Let's make a deal... if you don't like it, DON'T READ IT OR LOOK AT IT! And please, keep posting those photos of your children on Facebook, and updating us all with their cuteness (or not-so-cute moments). We're parents. We work hard, sacrifice a lot, and if a somewhat normal human being is the product of all that, then by all means, brag.

Here's a picture of my kid from today. Isn't she cute?!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Linna finds a bug.

Yes it's February, but we still find random boxelder bugs crawling around our house every now and then. Today, on Valentine's Day, Linna found a little one, and decided to give it a big "squeeze", to show her love to her new friend. If you listen closely, you can hear the crunch from all the Valentine's Day "love" she showed this poor lil' guy...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

18-month growth spurt.

Happy gal after a three-hour nap.
I love growth spurts.

Over the last couple weeks, Linna has been taking three-hour naps DAILY, while still going to bed at 7 p.m. and waking up at 7:30 a.m., AND she's eating like a horse! I know there have been times in the past, where I was concerned about Linna literally eating just a piece of food throughout the entire day. Well, she's making up for her food-less days, by consuming enough food for two growing toddlers!

For example, yesterday she ate a bowl of oatmeal, about a half-cup of whole-milk yogurt, two clementines, and part of a banana for breakfast. If that's not enough, she's asking for a snack at like 9:30 a.m., and again around 11 a.m. She'll literally eat two Kashi Breakfast Bars before she lays down for her nap. She kind of "skips" lunch (wouldn't you if you ate all that before noon?!), but then has a meal when she wakes up around 3 p.m. I'll make her a smoothie or eggs, or something like that, and then she'll have some fruit too. Dinner time is hit or miss, but the other night she ate a whole bowl of chicken noodle soup, then has like 4-8 oz. of whole milk before bed. I really think she would eat all day long if I let her! Quite the little piggy... and I love it.

Linna is exhausted by 7 p.m., hasn't been putting up a fuss at all at bedtime, and her three-hour naps are incredibly well-received by Mama Saigh. If I could bottle up this time and keep it like this forever, I would.

I do, however, wonder if this is the "calm before the storm". What if Linna is treating me to a blissful few weeks, only to turn on me and give up her naps all together?!

This doesn't happen right?! ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our will.

It's not something that's "fun", and it's actually kind of morbid, but I now realize how important having a Will is when you have children. Over the last few weeks, I have had to think about my husband and I dying, and who gets guardianship of Linna in that event. Not something I care to picture in my mind, but hey, it's a potential reality, and we want to be prepared in the event something happens to me or my husband.

This week, we finalized our Will. Since we're moving to Singapore for two years, we don't want to leave our family with any unanswered questions in the event of tragedy. Flying all the way to the other side of the globe makes you really consider these things. We each actually have our own Will, in the event something happens to either one of us. We each had to decide, basically, who will speak for us, in case we become incapacitated. Again, not something I like to think about. The thought of Linna growing up without AJ and I around, makes me sick to my stomach, but we want to make sure she's taken care of if something were to happen us. We also had to decide who Linna's guardian(s) would be, and this was such a difficult decision. We had have a sit-down with the person(s) we chose, to make sure that they were comfortable with being Linna's guardian(s), if AJ and I weren't around. Linna is incredibly lucky to have her "Godparents", John and Lisa (AJ's sister and her husband), as her legal guardians.

If it wasn't for my husband, I don't think I would have ever taken the necessary steps to put together a Will. AJ received a recommendation from someone at work, and we decided to go with Stone Law in Plymouth. A "Legal Solution Plan" is part of AJ's work benefits, and according to my mathematically-gifted and financially-responsible husband (thank God one of us is), our Will will cost us $3.35 per pay-period, or $6.70 per month for the year 2013. Not bad considering this would cost us a couple hundred dollars to do on our own. If you're planning to put together a Will (which I think all parents should do), check with your HR department at work to see if a Will or "Estate Planning" is part of your employment benefits. It can't hurt to ask! I have friends who have unfortunately lost a parent, or parents, and there was no Will. The death of a family member is incredibly difficult to deal with in itself, and it just puts added stress on those already suffering, to have to deal with unanswered questions. I'm incredibly thankful for my husband, for making our Will an actual document, instead of something on our "to do" list.

Someone loves to sing.

Linna is all about music, and can't get enough of people singing to her... or just hearing herself sing. All day long, she's singing "I Love You" from Barney, the beginning of "Row Row Row Your Boat", and "Oh Mister Sun" from Barney. Every day, she gets better and better and singing the actual words. I have a feeling we have a little music-lover on our hands!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Too many babies in the news.

Today is one of those days where I found myself really questioning our society, as the top three news stories read...

Drunk Dad Charged in Death of 8-Month-Old Daughter

Mpls Police Officer Accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct with Young Girls

Parents Charged with Neglect After Toddler Found in 'Uninhabitable' Home

Is this really happening?! It amazes me that people need to pass a test and have a licence in order to drive a car, but not to become a parent. Unreal. I understand that we all go through struggles in life, and many people need help overcoming their issues... but holy hell! These poor babies. And there are so many children that we never even hear about. So many untold stories. It's incredibly unfair that innocent children have to grow up in "uninhabitable" homes, who suffer from abuse, or don't even have the chance to make it to their first birthday... all because their parents are idiots. There are so many men and women out there (some who are my friends), who unfortunately don't have the ability to have babies. These are the people who would make AMAZING parents, raising children in homes free from abuse and neglect. And these are the people who may never have the chance to have children of their own.

It's just sad. Really sad. I am not a religious person, but I pray for these babies, and hope these "adults" get the help they need, so innocent children don't have to suffer.

End mom rant.

Thanks for listening.

Things to do in the twin cities with your little ones.

WINTER GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets/admission to the Minnesota Zoo, comment below (along with your first and last name, and city), telling us your favorite place (free or not-so-free) to take your kiddos in the Twin Cities. One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, February 15th! Good luck everyone.

Winter in Minnesota can be such a drag! Seriously, the days seem to drag on and on because we're all cooped up inside with the kiddos. However, Linna and our friends have been getting out to discover all that the the Twin Cities has to offer this winter, and we've found some pretty fun activities. Not everything will cost you some cash. Some of the FREE activities are actually our favorites! We'll continue adding to this list, and if you have an activity that you'd like us to add, please let us know!

*** Please check websites or make a phone call before you attend one of these activities, to make sure it's still on-going and that there are no cancellations. ***

Linna, playing with her friends Clark and JJ at Southdale's Play Area.

FREE (or almost free) Activities:

Wee Wednesday - Linna and I checked this out in January with a couple friends, and we enjoyed every minute. There's live music, little activities for the kids, lots of lunch options, and the adults can get a little grocery shopping done. It's every Wednesday from 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

Free Playtime at Rainbow Play Systems: I got this tip from Lollipopolis (great blog by the way!), and had no idea that Rainbow Play Systems in Bloomington offered FREE playtime every Tuesday and Wednesday through February, from 10 a.m. to noon. You're indoors, the kids are having fun... sounds like a great place to me!

Toddler Tuesdays at the Mall of America - Yes, there's always a crowd, but if you're looking for ways to get your little one socialized, while having fun at the same time, Toddler Tuesday is the place to be. There's live music, activities for the kids, and you're surrounded by so much to do and see at the Mall of America.

Southdale Center's Play Area - This Edina play area recently underwent a complete renovation, and it's one of our favorite spots! As a mom with a toddler, I can always appreciate a place where I can run a few errands, and let my kid run around an play for a little bit before or afterwards. It's a nice place for parents to sit and just watch the kiddos run around!

Ridgedale's Play Area - Similar to Southdale's Play Area, this is another play area that we've tried out, and it's perfect for the little ones.

Ridgedale's Play Area.

Hennepin County Public Library Baby Storytime - Storytimes at public libraries in the Twin Cities are FREE and a great way to stimulate little ones' minds. We started bringing Linna to Baby Storytime at the Minnetonka Public Library, and have since attended Baby and Family Storytime at the Chanhassen, Excelsior, and Hopkins Public Libraries. There's singing, group reading, dancing, and games. Since Linna isn't two-years-old yet, we haven't checked out Toddler Storytime, Preschool Storytime, or World Language Storytime, but if they're anything like Baby Storytime, we'll be signing up in the coming years! Some Storytime locations request that you register your little one(s), but others are completely open. This is a great thing to do in the winter, and if there isn't one in your neighborhood, I'm sure there's one pretty close to you.

Hopkins Public Library Children's Area - I can't say enough about this library's play area. It's brand new to the Hopkins Library, and we could spend hours there learning and playing!

Dunn Brothers in Linden Hills - Technically, yes, you should make a purchase before you plop down in a seat, but a $1 or $2 is well-spent money for a treat and a "break". We've been to this location, and it's small, but it's enough to give mom/dad/caregiver a little break during the day. You still have to watch your little one(s), but my little one keeps herself entertained with the change of scenery, new toys, and other kiddos.

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum - Every Thursday between November and March, admission is FREE at the Arboretum. They also have Storytime for preschoolers on most Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at the Arboretum's Andersen Horticultural Library. We have yet to check this out, but it sounds fun!

Como Zoo - Free storytime every day at 1:30 p.m.

Children's Museum of Minnesota - We checked out the Dora & Diego Exhibit last week, and had a blast! There was so much for the little ones to get their hands on and explore. Plus, there's FREE admission every third Sunday.

Little Tot Playtime - We have yet to go to one of these playtimes, but for $2/session, or $40/30-sessions, your 1-5 year-old can bounce in the moonwalk, ride four-wheelers, play with other kiddos, while you enjoy some adult conversation at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Check the website, but this runs November through March, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Ice Skating Rinks - Check the Minneapolis and St. Paul schedules, but most rinks stay open through the end of February, and some offer free skate rentals! Thanks for the tip Lollipopolis.

Linna on her first ride EVER at Mall of America's Nickelodeon Universe.

Activities that Cost a Little Cash:

Kindermusik - I could go on and on talking about how great this place is, and Linna's teacher Miss Kim is one of her favorite people. I am so happy we bring Linna to this class every Tuesday morning. Kindermusik offers discounts on classes, so make sure you check the website!

The Little Gym of Edina - For almost a year, Linna and I look forward to her "Birds" class at The Little Gym Every Wednesday. There is SO much for the kiddos to climb on, explore, etc., and with all the music, singing, and dancing involved, the cost to attend class is totally worth it!

(Linna and Teacher Tracy at The Little Gym of Edina)

Sea Life Minnesota - We have a annual membership to Sea Life at the Mall of America, because an annual membership pays for itself in a couple visits. This is a fun place to stop after Toddler Tuesday, or just a great way to spend a gloomy Minnesota morning or afternoon.

Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America - We took Linna on her first ride here at 17-months, and had a blast spending our morning at Nickelodeon Universe. If you purchase an unlimited ride wristband online, you can save $6!

Minnesota Zoo - Even in the winter, the animals are still at the Minnesota Zoo, doin' their thang! The zoo offers storytimes, bird shows, and other activities for the kids to do throughout the day. Bring a bagged lunch, and make your trip to the zoo an all-day event!

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) - We are involved with Minnetonka's ECFE and LOVE it! Our ECFE tuition program is on a sliding-fee scale, so no one is ever turned away. We attend class every Friday, and I love that it's preparing our 17-month-old for "real" school when she's older. Look for an ECFE in your community!

Where is your favorite place to take the kiddos in the Twin Cities???

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Learning the alphabet.

Well, we've been working with Linna almost every day on her ABCs, and she's starting to recognize more and more letters. For the most part, she knows A, B, C, F, I, K, L, O, and W (my favorite), but some days she simply wants to call all the letters "B". This is some video I took of Linna today while we were at the Hopkins Library (can you see now why I love this place). She was having a little snack while we were playing with the alphabet blocks. This video is a good example of what she normally does when we practice the ABCs... she gets a couple letters right, and then gets silly:)

I also found this Melissa & Doug Alphabet Soup Bath/Pool set at Lit'l Wizards in Worthington, MN while we were visiting last weekend. Linna loves playing with all of the letters, and it's a great way to make learning FUN! For under $15, it comes with all the letters, some plastic word cards (to practice spelling as they get older), and a water-friendly bag to store everything in. Pretty good deal if you ask me!

Playing with the letters in her new Melissa & Doug Alphabet
Soup Bath/Pool set.

ORIGINAL BLOG POST ON 1/14/13: I'm not going to lie. A couple weeks ago, I came across a YouTube video of a 16-month-old boy who knew all the letters in the alphabet by simply looking at them. Of course this is a very advanced child, but it got me thinking about starting ABC flash cards with Linna (now 17 months old). My husband and I downloaded an app (he actually found it) on our phones called "ABCs for Kids" (it's a free one)! Although she can't say all of the letters, she sure does give it her best. "W" is my favorite. Oh, and yes, that is yogurt all over her shirt...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MN children's museum: dora & diego.

Linna bumped into her friend Hailey at
the Tot Spot.
I can't believe it took me almost a year and a half to take my daughter Linna to the Minnesota Children's Museum. This place is a Minnesota staple. It was worth the wait though, because we got to check out the Dora & Diego exhibit, which was totally toddler-friendly.

First of all, when you go to the Minnesota Children's Museum, PARK IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER PARKING RAMP!!! I made the huge mistake of parking in the Lawson Parking Ramp, and had to carry Linna what seemed like a mile to get to the Children's Museum. Plus, I had to pay like $8 for parking. The World Trade Center Parking Ramp is so close to the Children's Museum, and you can park there for like $4 for three hours! Please learn from my mistake.

Linna had so much fun running around, participating in all of the activities that were conveniently located at her "little-person" level. I just love watching her discover how things work. There are countless areas in the Dora & Diego exhibit for children under the age of four to explore. Linna's favorite was Isa's Flowery Garden, where she got to work on all of her gardening skills. There was also a fun slide that Linna spent a lot of time on.

After checking out the Dora & Diego exhibit, we walked over the the Habitot Gallery, where they had so much for the babies and toddlers to do and discover! Linna ran up and down the pathways, while stopping to do a little ice-fishing, and to pick up some eggs out of a bird's nest. She wanted to touch everything! There were tunnels for her to climb through, and since everything is at a "safe" level, I just sat back and watched her play.

Putting stars in the holes. They had
these cute little "explorer" jackets
for the kids to wear too.

Isa's Flowery Garden.

Inside the Habitot Gallery.

The Dora & Diego exhibit is at the Children's Museum until September 22nd, and is included in the price of admission. Admission for Linna and I was under $20 for both of us, and then there's parking on top of that. Not a bad deal if you park in the appropriate parking ramp:) We went to the Children's Museum on a Thursday afternoon, and it was pretty busy because there were a lot of groups (schools, day-cares, etc.) running around. The Children's Museum does not take group reservations on Tuesdays, so that is supposedly a very toddler-friendly day to check things out. If you're brave enough to face an even bigger crowd, you can check out the Children's Museum for FREE on the third Sunday of every month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have never been to one of the free Sundays, but I hear they are SUPER busy. We can't wait to go back for a visit on a Tuesday, and park in the World Trade Center Ramp, so we can enjoy our time 100%!

Ice fishing in the Hobitot Gallery.

Egg thief.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine's day plans for minnesota's celebrity parents.

You see them on television and hear them on the radio every day. If you're wondering how Minnesota celebrity parents, such as WCCO's Amelia Santaniello and KSTP's Megan Newquist, are spending their Valentine's Day this year, you've come to the right place!

KSTP's Jessica Miles & family.

KSTP's Jessica Miles (mom of three children, under the age of two):

What is your idea of a perfect Valentine's Day?

My perfect Valentine's Day would start overnight (no, not what you're thinking). With a two-year-old, a one-year old and now a three-month-old, I would love a solid eight hours of sleep... I'd even take six... heck, five!  The day would be spent with our kids doing something fun out of the house.  There are too many chores to distract us if we stay home!  The evening would be a nice dinner with my husband, so we could have a chance to talk!  I don't think my husband and I have been out to dinner alone in at least 3 years!

Is there anything on your Valentine's Day wish list?

No gift ideas for me.  We are pretty practical people, so if my husband and I did share gifts on Valentine's Day we would probably both just spend our money on diapers or something like that!  I know, pretty boring!

What is the best Valentine's Day gift you have ever received?

My best gift received would probably be flowers. I love flowers!  When I was younger I wanted to open a flower shop.  I do have a best gift given... it was one of those huge Hershey's chocolate kisses.  I remember giving one of those to a boy in probably 7th grade!  I remember agonizing over what to buy and thought it was perfect... kind of cute, but not over the top, pretty inexpensive, candy... who wouldn't want one!?!?

KARE 11's Karla Hult & family.
KARE 11's Karla Hult (mom of two girls under the age of two):

What is your idea of a perfect Valentine's Day?

I'd love a day where I wake up to the sounds of my daughters (no alarm). I'd then spend the morning enjoying a "leisurely" breakfast with them, followed by a relatively warm walk to Linden Hills and a trip to the library, bakery, and bookstore (Wild Rumpus). My babies and I would simply "hang out." That night -- upon my husband's return from work -- we'd actually GO OUT for dinner... JUST THE TWO OF US! Come to think of it, I should ask for the day off... so I can make that Valentine's plan happen! :)

KSTP's Leah Mclean & family.
KSTP's Leah Mclean (new mom to eight-month-old Grace):

What's the best Valentine's Day gift you have ever received?

The best Valentine's gift was last year when I was a big pregnant lady. My husband made a candle light dinner, then did the dishes! He even got flowers. This year we're planning a big family dinner with Baby Grace, grandma, grandpa, and the aunts an cousins. It may not be romantic but it should be fun.

Are there any gifts on your Valentine's Day Wish List?

I'm a traditionalist. I love flowers. I also like chocolates, but I don't want them because I'll just eat them all and then not feel romantic.

KSTP's Megan Newquist (new mom to twins - a boy and a girl):

Megan and her husband have been together for almost 17 years, and she says they have never gone all out for Valentine's Day. She says that from the get-go, they agreed Valentine's Day was a total Hallmark holiday:)

What is your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?

Coffee in bed.

Are there any gift ideas on your Valentine's Day wish list? 

A soft, heart shaped sugar cookie with icing. I LOVE a good sugar cookie.

What is the best gift you have ever received on Valentine's Day?

These questions are starting to depress me. I think I'd have to go all the way back to high school when I got flowers from my boyfriend :-)

KDWB's Big D and family.
KDWB's Big D (new dad to one-year-old Hailey):

What's your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?

I love my daughter more than anything, but it is a day for Mama. It would be perfect to hang with our daughter and maybe do a fun little lunch with the three of us, come home and relax, call grandma to babysit, and then take my wife out. Maybe do a nice dinner downtown, a movie, or maybe even a night at the Mall of America. We're super addicted to Crave so I'm sure if you asked my wife it would be a night in St. Louis Park at the West End.

Are there any gifts on your Valentine's Day Wish List?

Two words, and the quickest way to my heart: BEST BUY!!!

WCCO's Liz Collin & family.
WCCO's Liz Collin (new mom to three-month-old Anthony):

What is the best gift you have ever received on Valentine's Day?

My husband proposed on Valentine's Day nine years ago. My apartment was decorated with balloons and flowers and when I came home from work he was there on one knee. It was very sweet. I said yes since there was also cheesecake involved.

Are there any gift ideas on your Valentine's Day wish list?

I'm a new mom with a three-month-old so I can't think of anything better for Valentine's Day this year than a long nap! Very romantic, right?!

KARE 11's Lindsey Seavert & family.
Credit: Carly Danek Photography.
KARE 11's Lindsey Seavert (new mom to one-year-old Stellan):

What's your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?

I'm usually working on Valentine's Day, but if I had to dream up my perfect day, (Hint, hint, honey) I would love to sleep in! I would love to go to a yoga class, or for a run, or, have a massage at the Ivy Spa in Downtown Minneapolis. We would then go grab a glass of wine, have dinner at Amore Victoria or Bar La Grassa, and then head to the theater or listen to live music. My hubby loves jazz, so we would top off the night at the Dakota Jazz Club, which we have done on a past Valentine's Day.

Is there anything on your Valentine's Day wish list?

I love clothes! Any sort of fashionable item, and I'm a happy gal!

FOX 9's Alix Kendall & daughter Kaitlyn.
FOX 9's Alix Kendall (mom to 11-year-old Kaitlyn):

What are your plans this Valentine's Day?

This Valentine's Day, I'll be dining out with my man. We have reservations for Vincent in Downtown Minneapolis. I have no special gifts that I want, or need. I just want time. Since it's "sweeps" month, I can't take the next day off from work on The Fox 9 Morning News, so it will be an EARLY dinner.

What's the best Valentine's Day gift you have ever received?

The best and most memorable gift came from my daughter Kaitlyn (now 11 yrs old), and  it is simply a homemade Valentine that still hangs on my refrigerator door. It says simply "I love you mommy".

FOX 9's Randy Meier (dad of five daughters):

What's your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?

I love it when Valentine's Day falls on the weekend. Raising all five of our daughters over the years and working nights meant that Valentine's "date night" only worked for my wife and I on the weekend. So, my idea of a great Valentine's Day is a "date night" with my bride, to include some good food, and maybe a little adult beverage and some time with just the two of us.

What's the best Valentine's Day gift you have ever received?

Found out my wife was pregnant with our third daughter on Valentine's Day.

WCCO's Amelia Santaniello & family.
WCCO's Amelia Santaniello (mom of three):

What is your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?

My idea of a perfect Valentine's Day is having a romantic dinner with my wonderful husband. 

Are there any gift ideas on your Valentine's Day wish list?

I'd love a spa day!

What is the best Valentine's Day gift you have ever received?

A couple years ago, our kids helped make dinner and served it. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's day with the whole family.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Linna's first newspaper cover.

Linna, me, and my mom are in Worthington, MN this weekend visiting family (my mom's side of the family is from Worthington), and we stopped by St. Mary's Catholic School to meet some very special first graders on Friday. While our little family of three was in Singapore last year (August - November 2012), we kept in touch with Mrs. Johnson's (my aunt) first grade class over Skype, and a special connection with a stuffed frog named Singapore Sam. It was so much fun seeing all of the little first graders in person, and they even greeted us with handmade photos, letters, and gifts. They were thrilled to meet Linna, and Linna had fun hanging out in the first grade classroom for an hour! A reporter and photographer from the Worthington Daily Globe were in the classroom as well, and wrote a very nice piece on our connection with Mrs. Johnson's first graders. We woke up this morning in Worthington, to my Uncle Joel showing us that our story had made the front page of the newspaper. Linna is having a lot of "firsts" this weekend in Worthington: first high school basketball game, first McDonald's (not too thrilled with that one), first high school musical (Hairspray), and her first newspaper cover. I guess she now knows what it's like to be a little "celebrity" in rural Minnesota:) Here's a link to the full Singapore Sam Returns Home story from the Worthington Daily Globe.