If you’re a Mom with a Facebook account, you’ve probably seen the terrifying videos of someone carelessly throwing a baby in footed pajamas into a pool. You’ve probably yelled at your computer screen when the baby seemed to struggle to roll onto his back. You may have even tried to jump into the computer to rescue the baby that’s working way too hard to get back to the side of the pool.
When it was all over, you huffed and said, “Who in their right mind would DO THAT to their baby?” And while I generally don’t insist to people that I’m in my right mind, I will tell you that I’ve done that. Three times. Not to say that it didn’t sometimes have me on the edge of my seat, but now that I’m five years into this survival swimming thing I can definitely help dispel some myths and alleviate some of your fears about infant swim lessons.
We just finished up our last real week of summer, and we wanted to send it out with a bang. What better way to do it than with an end of summer playdate with some of our friends? We planned a kids’ luau for our end of summer party, and it went off without a hitch (or britches, in Izzie’s case, but that’s another story). And even better- it didn’t cost an arm and a leg!
My daughter is OBSESSED with kids’ party planning. She makes lists, drawings, and diagrams in preparation. She plans menus. She shops for goodie bags. She visualizes the décor.
The only problem is? Then she wants me to carry out her vision. Which is no mean feat, as it turns out, especially when you are as big a cheapskate as I am.
So when she decided “she” was going to throw an end of summer party, I used my powers of persuasion to convince her to throw a kids’ Luau instead. This decision might have had something to do with the fact that I have a garage full of island décor from my sister’s baby shower, but she didn’t need to know that.
By reusing decorations, buying in-season fruit for the snacks, and keeping it simple, we found a way to throw an amazing end of summer playdate for my daughter and her friends. And there were cocktails. Because of COURSE there were. Read on for the recipe for a perfect end of summer luau (and those cocktails. Because YUM).
Lila turned five this year, and suddenly she has decided she’s an adult. She wants to be independent, and do things by herself, and even make her own money. We instituted a chore jar system we learned about at Super Mom Hacks (it’s so simple even I can keep up with it), but she wanted more (both responsibility AND money). So when she suggested she set up her first lemonade stand, I decided to let her go for it.
Setting up a lemonade stand was a summer staple when I was a kid. A few neighborhood friends and I would haul a card table and pitchers of lemonade up the hill and set up shop. Sometimes we’d get creative, and sell friendship bracelets and painted rocks, too.
But most of all I remember laughing with friends, chatting with our neighbors, and stealing glasses of our icy cold lemonade in between customers. That is exactly the kind of childhood I want for my daughter, and I couldn’t wait to share the experience with her.
Ohhh, Chuck E. Cheese. If you were a child in the 80s or 90s, you can likely remember the joy, the excitement, and the thrill of this place. They had pizza. They had tokens and games and tickets. And the prizes, good grief, THE PRIZES. It was like heaven for kids. And now that I am on the other side of it, I know the dark, seedy side of the Chuck. Namely, that parents hate it as much as their kids love it.
Not everything is awful about Chuck E. Cheese, of course. Their pizza has improved greatly, and the ball pits only exist in the nightmares of germaphobes everywhere. But as they have improved, we’ve noticed that their prices have crept slowly up. Which, if you’re trying to limit the amount of time you have to spend there, might be a good thing. But if you’re desperate to show your kids a good time, the cost of the place can be a problem.
Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the internet and our local CECs to find the best collection of Chuck E. Cheese hacks, money saving tips, and upgrades to help make your trip to Chuck E. Cheese a little more bearable- or at the very least, a little less expensive.
Part of parenting is realizing that there are 43,000 potential activities you can enroll your child in. The next critical part is realizing that time is finite and you really need to pick two or three of them and say no to everything else. As such, we’ve spent the last five years having discussions with our kids about what interests them, where their talents lie, and how they want to spend their time. Last year, our then 2 year old proudly declared that she wanted to do “ballallet.” Inside, my heart SOARED with joy as I pictured her following in my less-than-comfortable toe-shoed footsteps. Outside, I kept it simple, “Sounds good baby!” And so we waited for her to turn three to enroll in the nearby ballet studio.
Fast forward to last month, as we drove by the studio and my son said sheepishly, “I wish boys could to ballet.” I nearly slammed on the brakes as I found his sullen face in my rear view mirror and said, “Well of course boys can do ballet!” Still quietly, but with a tremor of hope, he replied, “Really?” I assured him they could, which prompted a follow-up question: “Okay, but do they have to wear pink?” Which is when I realized this was going to be a very long conversation. Over the next several days we discussed boys and ballet from lots of different angles.
So if you have a boy that’s interested in ballet, you may have to tackle some of these as well. Here are the top five things we had to address before my son was comfortable with signing up for ballet.
Summer is almost here, and with it will come these LONG stretches of time that need to be filled. You can put your family on a schedule that breaks the day into manageable chunks. You can run to all the activities, spend your days at those dollar movies, head to the beach, and swim at the pool. And yes. We do think you should do those things, if you and your kids are into it. But also? Sometimes you need a BREAK.
The best way to get your kids to leave you alone encourage independent play is to send them outside, and then leave them to their own devices. We recommend you splurge a little on some amazing outdoor toys for toddlers that will grow with them. The best outdoor toys for kids will last you for YEARS, and most of them aren’t even a huge investment.
Even if you need small outdoor toys that don’t take up a lot of space, you can find some amazing, open-ended outside toys for kids that will help them learn to love to play outside. So do some Amazon shopping, and then grab a cocktail and get ready to make outdoor happy hour a THING for your family this summer.
Make no mistake: We love our kids. We do. No matter what you read in the rest of this post, hold tight to that solid truth. But there is another truth, that is just as true: We HATE some of the games they require us to play with them. In no particular order, here are the worst kids games that we wouldn’t mind never ever ever not once having to play ever again.
With kindergarten becoming increasingly academic, I’ve noticed a push for parents to teach their kids to read before school even begins. As a certified teacher, I can say that I do think there are other skills that are more important– like independence and kindness, to name two-but the need for early reading skills cannot be ignored.
The Salty Mamas are all about raising readers, which means that we start them young. But rather than focusing on just letters and phonics, we encourage you to teach your child to be a reader– and that means going beyond the basics. Here are 8 easy reading strategies you need to teach your toddler to read- or teach your preschooler to read! We promise their future teachers will thank you for it.
Nothing says summer like lemonade- even though here in sunny Southern California, the lemon season is happening now, in this little space between winter and spring. My sweet friend Cynthia gifted me dozens of lemons over the last couple of weeks, and we are definitely making use of this little burst of sunshine. We got the kids involved in washing, cutting, and juicing the lemons (using these kid safe knives and this juicer). Then we put some of the juice in the freezer, placing one-cup portions in Ziploc bags, and froze them flat for future, less-lemony seasons. Finally, when the big jobs were done, we celebrated by making a big pitcher of our favorite homemade lemonade recipe.
This week was the highest of highs (Universal Studios! Finally feeling well! Lots of drop-off playdates!) and some fairly low lows (No sleep! Overcooked dinners! All the shaving cream everywhere it shouldn’t be!). But in a week of chaos, here are six things that still managed to catch our eye.
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1. Our Favorite Wallet is Now Available in Black
We may own like six All About the Benjamin Wallets between us, but we most definitely need two more- because now it’s available in BLACK. This wallet has all the pockets and sections you’ll ever need- and if there happen to be any other Dave Ramsey enthusiasts out there, we HIGHLY recommend it for your envelope system.
2. We Were Featured in Two Amazing Round-Ups
The world agrees- The Salty Mamas write posts worth sharing. (Is that braggy? Pretty sure that’s braggy. But anyways. We’re gonna go ahead and brag.) Check out the post we are featured in at SuzanneHines.org , where she is giving out some amazing Spring Break travel tips (and sharing our flight and road trip posts). We were also flattered to make the cut for Friday Favorites over at Misadventures of Megan, where she’s asking her readers which of the 7 Types of Moms You’ll Meet at an Indoor Playground they are.
3. We Got The World’s Cutest Necklaces
Are these necklaces A.) Crazy Adorable B.) Super Punny C.) Made By a Crafty Mama we know IRL or D.) All of the Above? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed D, and then go buy a “Donuts are My Love Language” necklace for yourself. She also takes custom orders if you’ve got something else in mind!
4. Jaymi is Getting a New Camera
After years of debate, Jaymi’s finally pulling the trigger on a DSLR. She’s thinking of getting a refurbished Canon Rebel T6 from Amazon, but you’ve got a few days left to dissuade her if you know of a better one. Also, you can look forward to crisper, cleaner images for upcoming blog posts, so woot!
5. Marbled Shaving Cream Shamrocks
We took our Marbled Shaving Cream Art concept to the kindergarten St. Patrick’s Day party, and it was actually not a nightmare. Yes, a 12:1 ratio is not the ideal ratio for shaving cream and paint laden projects, but we DID IT, and the kids totally loved it. As a bonus, the whole classroom now smells like squeaky-clean shaving cream instead of five year old toots and gluesticks, so we’re gonna call it a win.
6. Spring is Almost Sprung!
We’re more than ready to usher in spring, and we’ve only got a few more days to wait! We are so excited for our April plans- birthday celebrations, strawberry picking, and a staycation at Great Wolf Lodge are in the works- and we are just desperately hoping the weather catches the memo. We’re ready for sunny days and blue skies for our outdoor adventures!
So now you know what we’re looking forward to this week, we want to hear from you- what are you most excited about in the coming days and weeks? Drop a comment below!