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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

McKinney Mommas Has Arrived in YOLO County!

I'm both sad and excited to announce that McKinney Mommas has moved.

Yup. 


I'm no longer a Texan, but have returned to my roots in California.



This gal, born and raised in Southern Cal, with a detour in Connecticut for 6 years and Texas for 5 years has now settled in Northern California, probably for good.


I started this blog, when my first born was only a few months old, after I decided to quit my job and stay at home full time.  I felt a need to maintain my ties with the professional world, and found that writing about my adventures at home and out and about with a newborn at McKinney Mommas just felt like a perfect balance.

With the birth of my third and final "bookend" baby earlier this year, I've taken a back seat in some ways to the steering of this blog, but now that I'm in a new state and town, I have a whole new set of places to find and things to do.

I'm up for the challenge of forging a new path for myself and my three little peanuts - now almost 4, 2.5 and 10 months here in the Sacramento / YOLO County / Woodland / Davis area!

IF you see us hanging out at your favorite local park or farmer's market, please say "HELLO" - I promise I'll say hi back!  






 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Age Appropriate Toys & Milestones Resource by VTech

Ever wonder if your kids are playing with toys that are at the appropriate level, to help them meet important developmental milestones?

If you're unsure which toys to choose this season as gifts (and throughout the year), VTech has compiled a panel of experts, including Dr. Lise Eliot, an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert, to create a Milestones resource that I found helpful.


Baby O, playing with her new VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train


VTech also happens to be the company that created one of my home's favorite toys - the VTech Learn & Dance Interactive Zoo. All three of my girls have gotten use out of this toy, and finally after 4 years of hard play, it's on it's last legs. But, now I can use this Milestones resource to figure out which toys should come next for my three bambinos.

My youngest baby, at almost 9 months has hit a few milestones recently. The biggest one being WALKING! She started taking her first few steps before her 8 month birthday, but now at almost 9 months, she's almost running (seriously). 

Here is an introduction to tracking your child's developmental milestones by one of the experts that has collaborated with VTech to create awesome educational (and fun) toys. 





Now, if you are a visual learner, here is the link to the Milestones resource that will help guide your choices for the best toys for your kiddos.

The guide is broken down by ages from newborn to 9 years old, and each age range will include three categories of learning which you can use to search for the appropriate milestones in:
  • Language & Cognitive
  • Social & Emotional Development
  • Physical & Motor

I used the resource to find out that my 2 year old should be, 
  • Singing the ABC song - CHECK!
  • Walking up and down steps independently - CHECK!
  • Progresses toward potty training towards end of year - ACCOMPLISHED already!
  • Behaves stubbornly and asserts her opinion by saying "no" - umm, CHECK! 
of course there is lots more on the list, but these were a few I thought I'd share with you.



You know, I'm a firm believer in "no question is a dumb question" so, here's a few Q&A's from mothers that might ring true for you too, answered by professionals on the VTech Milestone's Panel:

Q. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I'm responsible for most of my toddler's learning the first couple of years. How can I ensure that I'm teaching him all he needs to know? What are the best games or play to help him learn basics things like numbers, colors, words, etc.?

A. Children learn through play, so almost any activity is a learning opportunity for your child.   Show your child how to count banana slices at lunch time, or toothbrush strokes at bedtime.  Read ABC books to him to teach letter sounds and recognition.  But don't worry too much about academic skills in younger children.  Most important at this age is for children to learn the joy of discovery.  Try to avoid drilling exercises (like flashcards) and instead focus on learning about the real world around him--animals, people, vehicles, music, art--whatever you encounter through books or the world outside that excites your child.  When kids find a passion and get absorbed in it, early literacy and number skills follow easily.

Q. What if it seems like your child isn't reaching a particular milestone, what can you do to facilitate the learning of it?  While every child is different, are there any Milestones (when not achieved on schedule) a parent should be concerned about?

A. It's important for parents to know what milestones to expect, because failure to reach them can be a warning sign of a developmental delay.  For social skills, we like to see babies making eye contact early on, and worry if it doesn't happen by 3 months or age, or if s/he is not sharing facial expressions or some other kind of back-and-forth communication by 9 months. For language skills, we worry when children are saying no words by 16 months, or only a few words at 2 years, and when there is any loss of communication ability at any age.  For motor skills, it is concerning if a baby cannot bring an object to his or her mouth by 7 months, sit independently by 10 months, or walk by 18 months. If your child isn’t reaching these milestones, talk to your pediatrician, who may propose additional testing and exercises you can do with your child at home to promote his or her development.


I hope this has encouraged you as a parent to take some time to find developmentally appropriate toys and remember that PLAY at an early age is a key component to your little one's educational future


Join me in following VTech on Twitter and Facebook

Monday, January 5, 2015

Semi-Annual Clearance at Crazy 8 - up to 70% off!

Disclosure: I could receive compensation when purchases are made through the link in this post. This helps me be able to continue to write fun and interesting articles here at McKinney Mommas. So, thanks! :-)


Just wanted to be sure you had the info on this great sale, in case your kiddos didn't get everything they need for the winter to keep them warm and stylish!

Click on the banner below to shop the Semi-Annual Clearance at Crazy 8:

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=604959&u=599060&m=46239&urllink=&afftrack=

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holiday Wonder at Perot Museum #DFW


Thank you to guest writer (and mommy), Erica R. for going on a fun family adventure to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and sharing her adventures with us at McKinney Mommas!


We are huge dinosaur fans in this house. 

We will never forget the reaction of our oldest, who was 3 at the time, when we walked into the dinosaur hall at the Perot Museum for the first time, and she saw the T Rex. 

She could only say “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my GOSH!” over & over. 

Now both girls can recite the names of most of the skeletons in the museum.  

The Perot Museum keeps them curious, and we love that.
 
Perot Museum, dallas museum, kid-friendly museum


Today we visited all of our favorites – the dinosaurs, the earthquake simulator, the gem hall, and the children’s museum – and experienced a couple of new things. 

The current traveling exhibit is 2TheXtreme: MathAlive! The girls really liked this exhibit. 

They climbed a rock wall, rode a snowboard, and took a 360 photo of themselves which was emailed home so we could watch it again. There are all sorts of things in this exhibit for kids of all ages. 

We also had a great time at “Story Time Under the Stars” inside the portable planetarium. The girls couldn’t wait to get inside the inflatable planetarium (okay, maybe they thought it was a bounce house!) - either way, they were mesmerized by the night sky and fully engaged all three stories. 

dallas, #DFW, family outing, dallas museum

There's just a few more days to experience some of the special winter programs at the Perot Museum, so plan your visit in the next few days (ends January 5th, 2015) to catch:

Live Winter Wonderland Demonstrations (daily Dec. 20 – Jan. 5) From live shows with cold habitat animals from the Dallas Zoo, to experiments with super-cold liquid nitrogen, the Perot Museum takes winter wonderland to the extreme.

  • Animal Adventures with the Dallas Zoo, Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1 and 2 p.m
  •  Fruit DNA Extraction, daily 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Science on the Spot featuring wintry demonstrations, daily 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • 2TheXTreme:MathAlive (through Jan. 4, 2015) Snowboard through a mountain pass, design your own video game, attempt an Ollie on a virtual skateboard, master engineer a modern city and capture a snapshot of yourself in 360-degrees. Then challenge a friend in a mountain bike race, jump into a ‘binary dance party,’ or program and control Curiosity, NASA’s next Mars rover. 
  • Discovery Days (January 10) Families discover the fun of science together every second Saturday! Try out real experiments, design and build new creations, and check out dynamic performances each month with guest scientists, educators and artists
     



For more information on admission, pricing, and special events throughout the year, visit: http://www.perotmuseum.org/.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Deliciously Easy Entertaining With Whole Foods Market

Disclosure: I received samples of products from Whole Foods Market to facilitate this post. However, all opinions are 100% my own and have not been influenced by the products received. 

Wait. 

You're not ready for holiday entertaining yet. 

Not until you've seen this appetizer spread I created from Whole Foods Market.


Whole Foods was my first stop this season for throwing together a quick and easy cheese platter, perfect to impress last minute guests that might drop by.

If you have questions about how to create a quick and easy appetizer platter, here are some of my favorite tips: 
 

McKinney Mommas' Tips For A Delicious Cheese Platter

Tip #1. 

Too many cheeses confuse guests.  Stick to 3 or 4 good quality cheeses.  

Tip #2. 
Be sure to include some nuts or crackers to cleanse the palate between tasting the different cheese. 

Tip #3. 
Use the expertize of the cheesemonger to your advantage. No question is dumb. Explain the purpose of your platter (holiday, wine pairing, etc.) so they can steer you in the right direction.

Tip #4. 
Don't serve your cheese cold! Be sure to set it out an hour before serving to optimize the flavors.  

holiday entertaining, raincoast crisps, brillat savarin

Now, if you're lost, when choosing cheeses for your cheese platter this year, which I often am too - these (3) are a gorgeous choice, and of course most important....delicious too!

1. Le Marechal  - a French raw milk cheese that all levels of cheese lovers will like, nice and nutty similar to a Gruyère

2. Brillat Savarin with Truffles - this is absolutely the BEST cheese I've had in a few years! A triple cream cheese with a bloomy rind (like the classiest version of brie you've ever tasted) with a layer of truffles in the middle!

3. Mons Petit Sornin - this French cheese is washed in a local beer to the region of France that it's made. I'd call this one a "stinky" cheese in my book. It packs a bit of a punch, so I'd only include this cheese if your guests are adventurous cheese eaters.

Your guests will be talking about this cheese platter, for days!

I'm glad this year I was steered towards these three cheeses from Whole Foods Market. 

I have found a new favorite that I will add to any of my cheese boards from here on out - the Brillat Savarin with Truffles is honestly amazing and will wow any of your guest.

Yes, even your in-laws will be singing your praises! (hee, hee) 

Raincoast Crisps, Potter's Crackers

Be sure to grab some Raincoast Crisps (apricot, fig and lemon crackers) and Potter's Crackers - organic artisan crackers to round out your entertaining platter! 

Both of these crackers are beautiful on the platter and are the perfect compliment to the cheeses! 


Happy Holidays, and Happy Entertaining!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meeting The Octonauts At SEA LIFE Grapevine #TX

Guest Blogger, Erica R. takes it away again with a visit to the SEA LIFE Grapevine for some holiday fun! 
 

Do your kids love the Octonauts? Mine do! 

They were very excited to meet Captain Barnacles and Kwazii at SEA LIFE Grapevine, and try out  some new Octonauts toys while watching the Christmas episodes of the cartoon.

octonauts event #DFW


SEA LIFE Grapevine is a favorite of ours. 

It’s just the right size for their attention span. 

They love Stingray Bay, the sea turtles, the 360◦ tunnel and the seahorses. My youngest even hugs the seahorse window each time we’re there.

aquarium girls, underwater life, octonauts
 
SeaLife has a lot of fun things happening for the holidays this year!

 The Octonauts events will be at the aquarium until December 21st

Octonauts holiday activities include:

• Meet Captain Barnacles and Kwazii in the Cinema. Plus, get an Octonauts sticker! (Weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
 
• Take a special undersea mission with an Octonauts fact-finding trail, available at admissions. (Daily)
 
• Listen to a festive tale as SEA LIFE team members read one of the Octonauts holiday-themed books (Daily at 11am) 

• Watch a special Octonauts holiday-themed episode in the Cinema. (Daily)
 
• Octonauts-themed ornament coloring activity. (Daily)

Octonauts #DFW
The Octonauts were a little larger than they appear on TV!


If the Octonauts aren't enough, how about a #ScubaDivingSanta?

The jolly old beareded, red-suited diver, along with his elfs are taking the plunge in a magical dive show with the fish, sharks and sea turtles in SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium’s 160,000-gallon ocean tank. 

Pose for pictures and find out whether Scuba Diving Santa thinks you’ve been naughty or nice.  Scheduled dives occur at 11:30 a.m. on December 13, 14, 20 and 21. 

Snap a selfie of yourself & your family with a scuba diving Santa! #SantaSelfie

These events are free and included in the price of admission to SEA LIFE Grapevine.


Sounds like lots of fun at SEA LIFE! http://www.visitsealife.com/grapevine/

#ScubaDivingSanta Octonauts
Octonauts cutouts are throughout the Aquarium too, so your little ones can get a pic with their favorite characters.

























Thursday, December 4, 2014

This Mom Doesn't Style Her Hair #RSVPInStyler

I received samples of InStyler tools from Vocalpoint to facilitate this post. I could receive compensation if purchases are made through the links in this post.

I can't keep hiding behind my "I just had a baby" excuse.

It's been 8 months now since the arrival of my third and final little girl, and it's time to start fixing my hair once in awhile.

Now, I'm not going to pressure myself to fix it daily, or heck, even weekly. But, the holidays are here and we have lots of family gatherings, which mean family photos.

I don't want to embarrass my kiddos when they look at holiday photos later in life, and see their mom peering at them through messy bangs and frizzy locks of hair.  

McKinney Mommas Hair Baby
Thanksgiving hair - after some help from InStyler
 
I was given the opportunity to check out a few hair styling tools by InStyler, and thought this was the perfect timing - right before Thanksgiving family photos to get my messy hair in gear.


InStyler Tools
  • TULIP Auto Curler - makes perfect curls in 3 seconds!
  • MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron - rotating iron for straightening & eliminating frizz
  • Ionic Styler Pro - ceramic hot brush and flat iron, great for short styles

The MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron was by far my favorite styling tool. Honestly, it works like a breeze and made me think:

Dang! I wouldn't have waited so long to style my hair if I knew it was this easy! 

mom hair, easy hairstyle

Even though it's blurry, I just HAD to share this photo. My 2 year old must have thought it was a momentous occasion, when she walked into the bathroom and saw me actually styling my hair.

She took this photo of me without me even knowing. I had no idea until I uploaded the photos. 

Hee, hee, my little "paparazzi-in-training", what a cutie she is! 

Okay, now for the embarrassing Before / After photos........



Before After Hair Photos


AS you can see, in the BEFORE photos my hair has some random, funky wave to it that is unruly and just plain messy.

I found, the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron has this awesome rotating barrel, so you aren't frying your hair between two flat stationary plates, like most straightening irons. 

I love the built in brush, that has ionic bristles, to comb and eliminate frizz, while the rotating barrel polishes the hair cuticle. Also, you can change the direction of the roll to either flip ends under or out by a simple double click of the tool!

I'm throwing away all my cheap, silly hair tools after using this one. Seriously. 

Max 2-way Rotating Rion, hair styling tools
Me and the InStyler MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron

I'm really not a foofy, nails and hair sort of gal, but this styling tool made doing my hair super easy and I felt like a totally new person when I saw how my hair could look in just 10-15 minutes!  


InStyler has mommas like you and me in mind, and is offering an awesome discount on their styling tools right now until 1/31/15. 


You can get 30% off up to 2 InStyler tools with my discount code when you  by visiting RSVPInStyler.com, and entering [SAVE30] Expires 1/31/15.

I totally recommend this product, and can't wait for you to tell me how YOU like it!   

You'll be happy you did!