Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Memories

It was our first day of summer vacation with weather that was the best combination of warm, sunny, and breezy so I was determined to take the kids strawberry picking. I texted a few friends to see if they wanted to come and when no one did I hesistated for a second about going. I'd have the stroller, the camera, two kids, a backpack, and maybe it was too sunny??  I'm so happy that I didn't let anything stop me from going.

We had a day that I'll always remember; the perfect way to start our summer vacation and Memorial Day weekend- making memories.

I can imagine what I would've done if we'd stayed home. Grocery shopping or cleaning, maybe a trip to a playground where the kids would've been occupied climbing or playing with the other kids there. We would've had fun but probably not a day to remember over the others.

I wonder about the memories we have of the nearly fifteen years since September 11th and think about how different things were for me as a child. Memorial Day meant bringing flowers to the graves of grandparents, maybe a parade, and always a cookout. It's hard to accept that for so many children of the last decade, it means remembering a parent lost fighting a war and hard to avoid worrying whether my children will grow up with a different experience of Memorial Day than I had.  

Someone posted recently that parents should make childhood magical for their kids and I thought about it for a long time after. Even though so many people seemed to find that idea ridiculous, why shouldn't there be a little magic in each day while we're here to experience it with them?

Many friends are posting reminders that this weekend isn't about parties or a summer kick-off and I agree that sometimes the meaning of the holiday is forgotten by the lucky few not affected by loss but I can't think of a better way to honor those who are no longer here or those who are missing them than by making happy memories with our families.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Celebrating the End of the School Year

Summer vacation is here and we're so ready! It was really hard saying goodbye to the teachers this afternoon, even harder than I thought it would be. As often as we move and have to say goodbye to people, it truly doesn't ever get easier. The flowers were pretty but couldn't come close to showing how grateful we are to the teachers that cared so much for our son this year!

For the school picnic I made the kids' desserts and had fun making these very simple 'sand' buckets.

I used vanilla pudding on the bottom of each bucket, topped with a thick layer of cool whip, and then covered the tops with crushed cookies to look just like sand. The buckets were a perfect size for the preschoolers and two packages of both the pudding and cool whip made 24 buckets. They're so easy to make (at 11:30 at night because that's the only time I can fill tiny toys with whipped cream and cookies in peace.)

The kids were excited to eat the sand and I will definitely make these again this summer for parties.

For a non-dairy option I also made some little blue jello 'pools' with beachball cupcake toppers stuck in them.

Unfortunately for all of the parents, most kids tried both and ate the other desserts at the party as well. I have a headache from all of the sugar. 

In the fall, I made this sign with the idea that I could reuse it on the last day and I'm happy that I actually remembered to do it! Here is the photo from the first day of school in August.

And here is a photo from today with the new year and the word First changed to Last.  He wanted to hold it in front of his head after it made me laugh but I did get a few pictures that show just how much his face has changed from baby to boy.

Now bring on the pool parties, road trips, family visits, backyard barbecues, and sleeping in (just kidding I have a toddler.) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A PSA for Vacation Rental Owners: What Every Parent Wishes You Knew

You know that feeling you get when you walk through the door of your vacation rental after a long road trip to get there? It's the sort of relief for parents that comes with knowing it's time for worry free days filled with fun and relaxation, maybe for the first time all year.

Now imagine walking into that house and seeing a sign on the wall as your 15 month old is scanning the room for his first target that reads:

"Please DO NOT Move Furniture or Decorative Accessories! Things MUST remain in their original location! Inspector will check house upon checkout and you may be charged damages if things are not in their original location"

For a second I looked at the framed warning, its font playfully encircled by colorful butterflies, and laughed at the absurdity but the thud of a glass flounder hitting the carpet scared me back to reality and the beach house went from a vacation to a nightmare before we’d even carried in the suitcases.  As I frantically searched for the flounder's original location wondering what the fine would be for moving him, I realized my vacation was going to be work.

Summer is fast approaching and as rental property owners prepare for a busy season hosting guests, many will overlook the fact that their decor is a nightmare for parents.

So just how can a rental property owner ruin a parent’s vacation?

Don’t Skimp on the Foliage – Arrange fake plants, silk flowers, or even decorative palm trees if space allows, throughout each room of the house but don’t dust them or worry about accessibility to little people who may try to tip, rip, or even eat them.
Assume Everyone Loves Glass Tables - Each room needs at least one, preferably train table height, and with very sharp corners.
Believe There’s No Such Thing as Too Small – Provide numerous choking hazards for rainy day entertainment such as dice, marbles, and jax and store them where children can most easily reach them.
Don’t Think it’s Possible to go Wrong with Pastel - All furniture should be a pale pink, satiny fabric that the tiniest drop of liquid stains and even so much as sneaker Velcro creates a pull in.
Forego Function for Whimsy – Litter the home with beach themed decor that resembles children's toys but is in no way designed for children to play with like painted baby blocks or decorative metal shovels that look like sand toys.
When in Doubt Use Carpet- Even the bathroom needs it
Equip the Home with Poison- Make sure parents know that ants and roaches frequent the home by placing poison traps in the corners of rooms and keep insect sprays within easy reach.
Relax When it Comes to Safety- Opt for nautical themed roping instead of railings or sturdy boards to prevent falls from decks, docks, or terraces. Always resist the urge to mar the beauty of the landscape with safety fencing whether around a pool or near a busy road and if in doubt, always just assume the house is kid friendly.

Parents deserve to relax on their vacation so if you happen to own one of the many vacation houses about to be rented this summer please consider these ways your decor ruins a parent’s vacation. No house needs a glass flounder.

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