"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which all loveliness arises." -Pedro Calderon de la Barca.


Friday, November 21, 2014

On Fall Break in NOLA

The end of September/beginning of October my kids had a week off for Fall Break and we took off for New Orleans on a spur-of-the-moment, long weekend trip!

The cotton was being harvested on the roads from Arkansas to Louisiana.  I always love seeing the cotton come in.  So beautiful.


We stayed at a Hyatt Place hotel, close to the Convention Center downtown in the warehouse district.  It was close enough to everything that we didn't get our car out of the parking deck until we left.   

New Orleans is so friendly and fun.  So many interesting people and gorgeous weather in the fall.  I absolutely adore it.  

Fun things we did:

  • Ate beignets in Jackson Square at Cafe du Monde 
  • Visited the Audubon Aquarium (Fun if you haven't been, but we visited the aquarium in Atlanta this past year and this one paled in comparison, probably pass next time.)
  • Walked in the French Quarter *
  • Ate at Mother's (This is our favorite restaurant in New Orleans! You have to be prepared to order when you get to the front of the line though!)
  • Listened to live jazz on the street *
  • Ran in Jackson Square *
  • Visited the St. Louis Cathedral *
  • Toured the French Quarter on a Carriage Tour
  • Visited the World War 2 museum (we could have spent two days there- amazing)
  • Walked through the Farmer's Market *
  • Toured the Old U.S. Mint (*Neat museum of money, history, and musical history. We also happened on a swing dance/band festival! All the real NOLA jazz is in that area of the city now, the FQ is mainly a tourist attraction.  Lots of great places to eat or listen if you park close to the Mint at the end of the Market.)
  • Toured the old cemeteries *(we didn't do an official tour, just parked down by Cemetery #2

*All the starred things are FREE!!!
Trip wasn't too expensive, except for food.  If you get out of the tourist areas you'll get better deals.  For attractions look for coupons/deals online before you go.  There were some really cool places to eat and hang out down in the warehouse district that I'd like to try next time.  With a baby that was tired by the time we stopped to eat we didn't try any of the fancier places.


On the way home we drove down to the ocean and stopped at a beach in Pass Christian, Mississippi.  Beautiful little town and they happened to have a church shrimp festival going on that was fun to walk around.  The kids had a great time playing in the sand at the beach before the long trip home.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Easy Gift Guide for Kids

Disclosure: This is a post in a series of sponsored posts as a Brand Ambassador for the ARKANSAS BETTER BEGINNINGS program.  I am doing this because I believe in their mission and everything expressed will be my own honest opinion! #ARBB

"HELP!  It's almost the gift giving time of the year and I have no clue what to get for (insert name here!)"

Choosing a toy for the holidays doesn't have to be difficult if you follow these easy steps.

1.  Is is SAFE?


First and foremost ask yourself, "Will the toy last through rough play and not break or hurt the child?"   Also included here would be "Is it age appropriate?"  
In my house right now that mainly means "Will she swallow this WHEN she puts it in her mouth?"  *Tip- to see if something is safe for young child, see if it will fit through a toilet paper tube.  If it fits, it's too small!
Toys with batteries, strong magnets, strings, and pull cords longer than a foot should be avoided unless it's for an older child.   
Personally, I try and avoid painted toys unless they are made in Europe or the U.S. (and locally made toys are BEST!)
Then, make sure you keep up with recalls here and on the manufacturer's website.  

2.  Will it LAST?

Is the toy well made?
If so, 
Will it last through more than one child?  (Will it be able to be passed on or donated when child is done playing with it?)  My kids play with some toys that were mine, my husband's, and even their grandparents'.  I'd say that was money well spent!
Also,  "Will the toy grow with the child?"  Will they be able to get years of play out of the gift?  For example and nice set of wooden blocks will be fun for a baby, but also for an older child.  

3.  Does it have VALUE? (Social/Educational/Entertainment)

Some things to ask: 
"Is it a toy they can play with others with?" 
"Does it teach them something?" 
FACT: Children learn by playing.  Toys can help them learn cooperation, sharing, shapes, sizes, colors, language, and so much more!
and most importantly...
"IS IT FUN?"


4.  Keep it SIMPLE!
Toys should not be too complicated to play with.  Let the child use THEIR imaginations to make their stories come alive, not have the toy dictate how they should play.  The more moving parts, the more that can go wrong/break also!

5.  IMAGINE
The best tip?
Pretend that you are the child you're buying the toy for...
What would you think was the most fantastic gift?
Does this child love animals?  (Maybe a cute animal puppet or even a zoo membership!)
Do they like things that go?  (Balls, toy cars or trains, a book of paper airplane designs?)
Are they fond of puzzles?  (wooden or cardboard puzzles, book of Suduko, stacking cups or blocks!)

Check out my Pinterest boards to see some great gift ideas for kids of all ages!


Arkansas Better Beginnings has great tips for choosing toys on their website here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's a Lego Minefield! (Or Keeping a Moving Baby Safe)

Disclosure: This post is the the third in a series of sponsored posts as a Brand Ambassador for the ARKANSAS BETTER BEGINNINGS program.  I am doing this because I believe in their mission.  Everything expressed will be my own opinion. #ARBB

My world has changed- 
In the last week someone has started to not only pull up in her crib, 


but actually crawl!  
At six months I wasn't totally prepared 
and have to make some changes!


1. The Lego/BobbyPin Minefield 
With older siblings, the path to the playroom is paved with many dangers. All those tiny toys...in our house it's mainly LEGO or similar toys, but in the past it's been doll shoes or accessories. Also the big sister's hair pins are probably not optimal for a baby-safe zone. 

2. And We All Fall Down
We have two stairways in this new house.  I've never had to worry about baby gates before, but now have to get shopping for gates for top and bottom of stairs as well as basement stairs.  

3. Shock Protection
I did pick up a package of electrical outlet covers before she was born, and have them in most outlets, but looking around I've seen cords hanging from lamps, plugs with easy access to baby hands (and she's strong!) 

4.  Safe Snuggles
The crib needs to be lowered now that she's standing.   It may seem like she's not tall enough fall or climb out, but I don't want to find out the hard way.  Lowest setting here we come.   I didn't use bumpers because of safety issues, but now thinking about a teething guard on the top rail to prevent her from banging her head in a fall when she's sleepy and trying to stand.  

5. Cabinet & Closet Hidden Dangers
I've got to get door knob protectors or just a key for the bathroom closet door to keep little hands from trouble.  Also cabinet locks for kitchen cleaning supplies under the sink and knife drawer.  I use all natural cleaning supplies anyway, so not very worried about chemical dangers, but it's still not a good idea to eat them!  


For more information check out the resources on the ARKANSAS BETTER BEGINNINGS site!

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