The Non-Housewives
Thursday, May 30, 2019

Traveling to a Big City with Little Kids

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Before our boys came along, Mike and I lived in NYC for a year. His job brought us out there and I was able to work from my NYC office for the year. It was an amazing experience - we LOVED the city. We miss it a lot, and like to visit often. We have taken my oldest son, Maximus, several times, and he talks about NYC all the time.

Some people think we are crazy for vacationing in a big city with kids, but honestly, it’s so much fun! From our NYC trips and our recent London trips, we’ve learned how to navigate, manage and have fun on a big city trip with kids. Here are our tips for traveling to a big city with kids!

London Science Museum

1) Have realistic expectations
This is not going to be a vacation where you spend hours on end in museums, in long lines waiting for touristy things and shopping. Do your research on the best spots for your kids (natural history and children's museums, aquariums, toy stores, kid friendly restaurants etc.) to visit ahead of time and make sure these are on your itinerary. Websites like Mommy Poppins have great kid guides for cities. Here are a few of my own kid-travel posts:
Toronto with a Toddler
Overnight Trip to Cleveland

Also, be flexible. If your kids are tired or having a cranky day, you'll probably NOT want to take them to a history museum, and instead nap at the hotel. If kids are napping, take turns as to who can go out and explore in peace, and who is on nap duty at the hotel.

Beautiful school playground in London

2) Map out the parks

Always have options mapped out where kids can run. Depending on how busy the city is that you are in, kids may have to spend more time than usual in their strollers. We always use Google Maps to search for the nearest parks or playgrounds where kids can run. Instead of eating lunch in a restaurant, we've been known to get to-go options and have picnics so kids can play and get wiggles out. I usually use Google Maps to add these places to my Favorites list so I can easily locate them later.

London Science Museum

3) Baby carriers, backpack harnesses, and more!
I use to say I'd never be the kind of mom to put their kids on a leash (I also told myself I'd never take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese - snow days call for desperate measures!). My oldest son never really strayed far from us. My second son, on the other hand, is a wild man. He just runs, without looking, without care, he's gone!

I was gifted this Stephen Joseph Little Buddy bag and it was a lifesaver on our trip to London. The backpack itself is super light and quilted. It’s very cozy and could double as a pillow in transit! My son is very large for his age, and the backpack fit very comfortably on him with the adjustable straps. There is an optional waist/chest strap as well, so he can’t slip the backpack off. He wasn’t happy with it for the first few minutes it was on, but then once he realized this still allowed him to run around (as far as the leash would let him) he was extremely comfortable in it. In return, we had peace of mind that he couldn’t wonder off and we were able to enjoy the sites as well. This backpack is also nice for you to keep a diaper, wipes and a snack in.

If you have an infant with you, make sure you pack your baby carrier. Sometimes it just takes a change of view to pacify a little one.


4) A stroller + Mommy Hooks
Most people were surprised to see us bring a double stroller to our last trip to London. Most people assume that a 4.5 year old will walk everywhere....not mine! My oldest son spent more time in the stroller than my younger one. Don’t be turned off by the thought of flying with a stroller...it’s so easy! In my opinion, strollers make airport travel with kids even easier. You can use the stroller to push kids (or luggage!) right to your gate, and gate check the stroller as soon as you step onto the plane. Most airlines let you gate check your stroller for free (side note: I’d recommend a stroller travel bag to prevent scrapes and tears in stroller fabric).

Strollers are also great for napping. If you’re lucky, you can tire your kids out and then enjoy a peaceful lunch like we did in London (the above picture is what 3 museums in 4 hours will do to kids).

5) Snacks + reusable water bottles
Water bottles and snacks can get expensive when traveling. Make sure to bring kid-friendly reusable water bottles from home, and plan on stopping at a grocery store when you get to your destination, to stock up for your days sightseeing (snacks are extremely marked up when you are around touristy spots). I like these water bottles since I can push the straw in and it won’t get dirty when they drop them (because you know, they WILL get dropped!).

I'd love to hear where people have been with their kids in the comments below. Please share any tips or must-see stops that are kid-friendly!
Friday, May 10, 2019

Garlic Parmesan Crock Pot Chicken Wings - Easy, Low Carb Recipe

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Garlic Parmesan Crock Pot Chicken Wings - Easy, Low Carb Recipe
I majorly struggle with dinner time. It's so hard to take time to meal plan over the weekend since we are always so busy, and by the time I get home at night, I'm exhausted, and the kids are hungry.

I've become a huge fan of crock pot dinners, especially ones I can prep the night before. I recently tried a chicken wing recipe that turned out great. Paired with a caesar salad and it made for a fantastic meal.

My recipe is inspired by this one from Wholesome Yum. I made a few changes that makes the prep a little faster.







Ingredients:

4lbs of chicken wings
Garlic salt & pepper
1/2 cup of butter (or 1 stick)
6 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter (over stove or microwave)
2. Mix garlic in with butter
3. Place chicken wings in your crock pot
4. Sprinkle garlic salt and pepper over the wings
5. Pour melted butter and garlic mix over wings
6. Cook wings on HIGH for 3 hours
7. After 3.5 hours, place wings on a foil lined baking sheet and put under broiler for 5 minutes (or until crispy - keep an eye on them, they will brown fast!)
8. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
9. Enjoy!

I don't like to leave my meal prep for mornings, so I prepped this recipe in the crock pot at night, put it in the refrigerator, and then put it in the following afternoon. I LOVE my new crock pot that switches to 'warm' after the timer is up (highly recommend for busy moms!). I never feel like it's overcooked even when on 'warm' setting for an hour. I made these again tonight and my husband said to me "I don't know how you make these, but they are GOOD!" Even my boys loved them.

If you have other fast, busy mom recipes please share in the comments!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

4 Tips for Infant Swim Classes

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School is almost out so it's time to chat about summer activities. Swim classes are always a good idea, no matter the age! Reporting back on my 1 year old's swimming lessons...he loves them! I'm so glad we started doing swim lessons with Xavier at an early age.


Tips for infant swimming lessons:
1 - No goggles needed - but swim diapers are a must! I bought these reusable swim diapers to go over the disposable ones. Make sure you pack extra for accidents!

2 - It's hard enough getting an infant ready for class, let alone yourself too. Since you'll have to be joining your young one, I'd recommend getting ready beforehand, and wearing your bathing suit under your clothes.

3 - Bring your stroller in plus a bottle and/or snacks. After class, your young one will probably be hungry! Get them changed into dry clothes and strap them into their stroller with a snack to buy yourself a few minutes to get changed. Every minute counts!

4 - Keep your swim bag packed and ready to go the night before, so you’re not scrambling to make it on time. As soon as I wash swimsuits and towels they go right back into our swim bag for the next week’s lesson.


Here's a rundown of Goldfish Swim School Mini classes: 
Goldfish Swim School’s Mini Classes offer high quality swim lessons for babies starting at 4 months of age. Mini Class activities include singing group songs, practicing tummy time, and getting little ones comfortable in the water. Babies practice their grasp reflex, move to holding onto the edge of the pool wall and eventually inching their way along it. With the help of mom or dad, babies work on their pulling paddle, glides, floats and kicks. As babies progress through the Mini Program, they will work on their breath control, crab walk, and getting out of the pool safely by using the fin, fin, belly, flipper technique.

Contact Goldfish for a free intro class! 
Saturday, April 27, 2019

8 Tips for Long Flights with Toddlers

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We recently completed a trip from Detroit to London with both boys. And guess what? We survived! I'm here to tell you that you can do a long flight with kids. It's not easy or relaxing, but don't let it keep you from booking an epic family trip.

Here are tips on how to prep for your long trip ahead:

1 - Be strategic about your flight times
If you can, plan your flight around bedtime or nap time. Our only option to fly to London was overnight, so that was a no-brainer.

2 - Stay on schedule for the day
Keep your kids on schedule for that day. For my boys specifically, being "over tired" is usually worse than just being tired, so I made sure they stayed on schedule for naps the day we traveled. I let them run in the airport before flight, up and down moving walk ways, etc., so they get their wiggles out and wear themselves out.

3 - Plan an "in-flight" bedtime routine
After our in flight dinner we tried our best to do a "modified bedtime routine" to try and get the boys in the bedtime mindset. Wiped down hands and faced, changed diapers, brushed teeth, read books, got into sleep blanket, and then had a bottle. I didn't pack a portable sound machine for this flight, but I have used this one in the past for flights. 

4 - Snacks are key
My advice, make them a surprise for when you get on the plane. Don't pack them in the kids' bags. My boys would start eating them in the car ride to the airport! I tried to find new snacks as well, so they would hold more bribing power. We had the most amazing crew on our latest Delta flight, and they were extremely generous with the kids - mommy had her fair share of Biskoff cookies as well.

5 - New Toys!
Five Below, Dollar Tree, Target & Amazon have great options for new toys, crafts and things to keep your little ones busy. Again, I recommend not showing them these distractions until you need to use them on the plane, and space them out - don't hand them all out at once. Here are some things that worked for us:
  • Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! books
  • Wikki Stix
  • Headphones! I liked this pair from Amazon, for our 1.5 year old. They are noise limiting so he can't accidentally turn them up full blast. Not all flights have TV screens, so I usually try to pack an old phone with a few movies downloaded on it.
  • Crayons, coloring books and doodle pads. I purchased Crayola triangle crayons so they wouldn't roll off of the tray tables. 
  • We also loved these doodle books from Stephen Joseph Gifts. They come with stickers and an attached carrying case with crayons. 
  • Learned from a very smart, creative momma friend that window clings can keep kids busy if you are sitting near a window! 
  • My 1.5 year old LOVED this Melissa & Doug shape sorter. We used this for both our California trip and London. It's a little bulky, but totally worth it. If your carry on is tight on space you could always a store a few things in side of this toy as well. 
6 - Plan for the worst
Bring extra wipes and napkins for spills (keep these out in the seat pocket so they are easily accessible), extra clothes for spills or blowouts, and double check electronics are charged and movies are downloaded in case they don't have in flight entertainment screens.

7 - Gate check your stroller
We always opt to gate check our stroller (as opposed to checking it with our bags). This way the kids can ride in it to the gate if they get tired of walking, and more importantly, we can use it to stack our carry on bags, diaper bags, purses, etc. Most airlines have gate checked items waiting for you when you de-board the plane so you can load your kids up and hustle to baggage claim.

8 - Be strategic about boarding
I like to limit my time on the plane, so I never board early with kids. They always invite families to board early, but I just think the less time on the plane, the better. If I needed to reconfigure our seats and potentially switch with a stranger, I'd maybe board early, but that may be the only case. If you don't have seats together, it's always worth asking the gate agent if he/she can arrange you to sit together.

I've told many friends, especially lately, you just have to go into a flight like this with low expectations. You can be as prepared as possible but kids will always find a way to throw you a curve ball. Just know that it won't be a relaxing flight, but definitely worth it once you reach your destination!

Do you have a tip from traveling with your kids? If so, please share in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links
Saturday, July 7, 2018

DIY Birthday Party Banners

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I love shopping on Etsy, especially for personalized items, but the problem is, they aren't available on Amazon, and it would be impossible for them to offer 2 day shipping. So, for last minute birthday party planners like me, have to look elsewhere for fun party decorations. 

Pinterest had me falling in love with burlap birthday banners, but anything customized with my son's name was going to take at least 2 weeks to receive via Etsy, and of course, I started planning decorations for my son's party the weekend before. Typical! So, I had to get creative. 

I went to Michael's and found two different kinds of banners. The key was getting a set that I didn't have to cut! Check out my 3 different banners below and everything I purchased to make them! They were so easy and a lot cheaper to make than buying them off Etsy. They were a fun touch for our family birthday party celebrations! 


'ONE' high chair or door banner

What I used:
Fabric strips (choose colors or patterns that match party theme)

I stenciled the letters first with bright colored chalk. Once threaded on the burlap, I spaced them out evenly and tied my fabric strips. You can buy pre-cut fabric strips, or, choose a fabric that fits the theme of your party, and cut it into strips. This banner took me about 1 hour to make.


'Wild One' Burlap Birthday banner

What I used:
Burlap banner + string/twine  (they usually come with this)

Painting within the stencils was just as easy as using the chalk. I did one coat of paint, then let it dry for a few minutes, then put a second coat on to make sure letters really 'popped.' When using the paint, you'll have to be able to set the stencils aside for at least a few hours to let them dry before stacking them up again (it's the inevitable, paint gets on the actual stencils when using them this way). This banner took me about 30 minutes to make.


Chalkboard Name Birthday banner

What I used:

I didn't want to use the fabric strips for this banner since it was going to be hanging over the desserts. Instead, I used different colored ribbon, tied in knots, between the letters, to add some color. This banner took me about 30 minutes to make.

There were so easy to make, I was wishing I had time to make more DIY decor. I would love to hear about other DIY birthday decorations you've done - please share in the comments below!

*Post contains affiliate links 
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

National Water Safety Month with Goldfish Swim

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May is National Water Safety Month, and our household is ready! Between weekly lessons at Goldfish (check out my swim lesson review here) and practicing water safety while out on the boat, we are ready for a fun summer of swimming and water fun.

We received a special package from Goldfish Swim School this week, and Max was extremely excited to dig into it.

Here's a clip of Max's unboxing...


Here are some important water safety reminders:
  • Never let anyone swim alone. Even the most experienced people need a partner. 
  • Pool noodles, plastic inner tubes and pool toys, etc. will not protect against drowning. Make sure everyone needing a life jacket has a coast guard approved jacket and it properly fits. 
  • Make sure to have a 'designated watcher' while kids are swimming. The 'designated watcher' should be watching kids at all time - no cell phone distraction allowed!
  • Keep toys not in use away from the water so they don't accidentally fall in.
  • This isn't swimming specific, but if outdoors, wear sunscreen! Make sure to reapply after swimming. 
As I mentioned in my review, Goldfish Swim School has been amazing for my son. Not only do they teach a strict swimming curriculum, but I wish I would have started him sooner. We started lessons with Xavier (10.5 months old) and he's having a blast. It makes me feel good that swim lessons is not only a fun activity/sport for my boys, but also something that is extremely important for them to learn and feel comfortable doing.

I'd love to hear any additional water safety tips you have in the comments below! 

*Goldfish sent me this box to review, but all opinions are my own

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Goldfish Swim School Lessons Giveaway

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A few weeks ago my son wrapped up 2 months of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Ann Arbor, and I couldn't be happier with the experience we had there and how much he's learned. You can read my swim class review here.

If you're interested in experiencing Goldfish Swim School for yourself, you can enter below to win a free month of lessons from Goldfish Swim School Ann Arbor location. Contest ends Friday, May 18th. Enter up to once a day - Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Giveaway sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. Once I choose a winner, the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their contact information. If I do not hear back, I'll select a new winner. Good luck!