Sunday, September 17, 2017

Puppy Days again!

Five years ago this month we added our Italian Greyhound Bella to the family.  She was the cutest little puppy and has grown to be a loving and sweet dog.  She was quite the transition for our then 8 year old IG Dante.  But eventually they became friends and even cuddle buddies.

Dante turned 13 on Friday, the same day we brought home our latest fur-baby Button! I'm not sure if he appreciated the present, but so far he is getting along with/mostly ignoring Button.



Button is a 10 week old female IG and she is the cutest little puppy!  We are all enjoying getting to know her and help her adjust to our home.  So far we think she's pretty fantastic.

I'll have more puppy updates soon including what products and training we are doing this time around.

Other Italian Greyhound Posts:

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Friend Doll Beauty Salon (Hair Repair)

We're big fans of the Fisher Price My Friend Dolls from the 1970-1980s.  I have been able to purchase brand new in box dolls for my youngest and she currently has 3 of the 5 made.  As I've said before my youngest (currently age 6) doesn't quite grasp that these are really old dolls!  Especially since they come to her brand new.  She doesn't understand that they've been sitting in a closet somewhere waiting to be loved for 30+ years.  She thinks I buy them at Target, ha!

When she discovered that a friend of hers had a Mandy doll too (her mom's) she was very excited.  We set up a playdate so the girls could get the dolls (and all their clothes) together!  The morning before our get-together her mom told me that Mandy needed some hair TLC stat.  They'd tried to condition it once before but it was still pretty tangled and damaged.  

I love a challenge so in the few hours before I got the girls I gave Mandy a deep conditioning treatment and it turned out pretty well.  


Check out these before and afters.  Not too shabby!  And now a comb can go through all of the hair.  I think another longer (overnight) treatment might work on those ends a little more.


Here's what you will need: Wide tooth comb, regular comb, bowl, fabric softener, washcloth and some patience. :)

1. Put a couple cap fulls of fabric softener in a bowl.  Not too much because you don't want to waste it.  Then put the doll's hair in the bowl and slowly work the fabric softener through all of the hair.  Take time to get it into the tangles or any knots.

2. After the hair is coated, carefully place the doll aside on a washcloth and leave her alone for between 1hr and overnight depending on damage level.  Due to time constraints Mandy had the softener on her hair for about 2 hrs.

3. Slowly and carefully comb through the doll's hair, starting with the wide side of a comb.  Gently work through the tangles until you can get the comb all the way through.  Then move to the small side of the comb and do the same.

4. Rinse, rinse, rinse.  Carefully comb through the hair while it is under running water until you can feel that the hair is rinsed.  Leaving fabric conditioner on the hair long term can damage it.  

5. Lightly towel dry the hair (press don't rub) and comb through it again. Allow to air dry, don't use a dryer!

All set!  Does she look amazing?


My daughter's friend was super excited to see that her Mandy had softer and more manageable hair.  Not perfect but MUCH better.  Hooray!


All ready for a play-date!  Note by the way that both blond dolls are "Mandy".  The far left is the last 1980s version and the visiting Mandy was one of the first editions. (for reference the other two dolls are Jenny and Nicky)


For more information on her Fisher Price Dolls

#204 Baby Ann (a soft doll) 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Disneyland Take 2!


We finally made it back to Disneyland/CA Adventure, three years after our first visit.  I think it took us that long to forget how challenging the first visit was, ha!  But seriously a trip to Disney for us is more about our kids having a good time than us.  My joy was seeing it through their eyes.  I know many adults who LOVE Disney and go, even without kids.  But....the rides and lines just aren't my thing.  I do love the characters though!

Now back to this trip.  We did a quick 4 day trip.  One day to drive out, 2 days at the parks (Park Hopper passes) and one day to drive back.  We chose Sept 5th-6th to be at the parks because the attendance calenders projected that those would be LOW attendance days.  This was crucial because hey, no one likes long lines!

The upside to this timing was that the park was only at 50% capacity, so the lines were very doable.  Many rides we just walked on or waited <10 min. The longest wait was for the Star Wars ride which was about 40 min.



The downside was that the park was HOT.  Now we may be from Arizona but our heat is DRY.  CA heat was humid and..uncomfortable.  It was much better by the evening but if there was any line waiting in the direct sun it was unpleasant.  The worst was waiting 20 min in the SUN to meet Minnie Mouse.  

Tips for Sunny Days
  • Powder sunscreen - This stuff is fantastic, easy to pack, easy (non messy/smelly) to apply/reapply and the kids don't complain.  It's pricey but perfect for this type of occasion.
  • Layers - Make sure you can take something off.  Wear light breathable fabrics.  Perhaps re-think having the kids dress up in costumes, I saw quite a few sweaty and miserable princesses walking around those days.
  • Frozen water bottles - Bring your own water bottles from home.  My $1 Dasani bottles from home cost over $4 at the park!  Freeze them overnight in your hotel room and carry that bottle with you.  You can also get ice water (for FREE) at the restaurants/kiosks, just ask.
  • Backpack - This collapsible backpack comes in handy for so many adventures, including Disneyland.  I had the (frozen) water bottle on the outside so everyone could reach it.  Inside I carried our own snacks, etc.  It was comfortable all day!
My girls were 6 and 9.5 for this trip and this was their/our assessments of some of the ride highs and lows.



Disneyland

Highs (favorites)
  • Peter Pan
  • It's a Small World
  • Star Wars
  • Finding Nemo
  • Teacups 
Lows (never go on again)
  • Mr Toad's Wild Ride (uggg)
  • The Matterhorn (too bumpy, gave us a headache)
I did most of the Disney rides with my girls as my husband only made it 3 hrs into the 2nd day before going back to the hotel.  I didn't mind most of them but was happy to get out of the sun in the afternoon by hopping back to CA Adventure for an (indoor) show.



Parade

Before we left parks we made it to the Disneyland parade.  It was fantastic and my girls LOVED all the characters, dancing and music.  

Tips
  • Sit in front of the ice-cream parlor.  During our parade they brought out FREE ice-cream to give someone in the crowd.  
  • Try to find a seat along the route where you can sit, as the parade can go a little long.

CA Adventure

Highs 
  • Cars Ride (we walked right on!!)
  • California Screaming (note: only my oldest and husband rode this one, 2x in a row)
  • Toy Story
  • The Little Mermaid (kids loved it)
Lows
  • Bugs land Bumper Cars (too easy)
  • Swinging Chairs (made me nauseous)
My bummer for CA Adventure is that so many of the rides are tea-cup type, so they spin around.  This is a no-go for me as I get nauseous.  Fortunately their dad was able to take them on rides.  My oldest could have gone alone but my 6 year old couldn't.  The rules are 7+ are okay alone but under 7 needs a 14yr old + to go with them.  Tricky.

One of the best parts about CA Adventure was the shows.  We saw the live Frozen show and were very impressed with the lighting and special effects.  Pretty awesome for a show that's included in your ticket price!  Remember to get their at least 30 min early (that was for a non-crowded day) to get in line for seats.  

The other show that we saw was the night World of Color light/water show.  We made sure to get fast-pass tickets that morning (doesn't effect other Fast Passes) so we could have better spots.  It's a standing show and you may need to put small kids on your shoulders to see.  Also, many areas are "splash zones" so you'll get a little wet.  We didn't mind a bit this time, it felt like rain here and there.

Tips for Night Shows
  • Bring your own glow sticks or wands.  Light up toys cost $$$ at Disney so plan ahead and buy yours at Target or a Dollar Store.  
  • Wear layers.  It can get cold or wet, pack a poncho for water shows.


Pin Trading

Another fun activity that we tried for the first time this visit was Pin Trading.  Disneyland (and other parks/places) sell Disney pins.  You can buy/collect your own of course but you can also trade them!  In the parks you can trade with Disney Cast members that are wearing lanyards, or you can ask for trading boards at the stores.  If that store doesn't have a board they'll tell you who does.  

Pin Trading Tips
  • You can only trade real Disney pins.  They're supposed to check the back for authenticity.  
  • If you don't see pin traders ask a Cast Member.
  • Trading Pins happens in Downtown Disney and both parks.
  • Buy (real) pins ahead on places like eBay for much cheaper so you have pins to trade.  We found some cute pins at a local Antique mall for only $1.50-$3 each.  At the park individual pins start at $8.99 each!
  • If you can't buy ahead get the pin collections, at $30 for 8 they end up being less than $4 each.
  • Check the backs frequently while wearing the pins, they often slip off and you'll lose the pin!  My girls had pins fall about 6x during our visit, and 1x we never found the pin. :(
  • If you do lose a back you can buy a package of replacements, but also as if the stores have just one back. We were able to get 3 backs (separate times) that way.

Character Autographs

Remember how I have been working on decluttering and minimizing?  Part of that process was going through childhood boxes at my childhood home.  This summer I discovered my Disney Autograph book from 1986.  Oh yes, it's a beauty.  I used it on my first visit to Disneyland in 1987, although the autographs are less Disney and more random.  For example the pilot who flew us to Burbank, CA, my grandparents, etc.



We brought the book back to life by bringing it to Disneyland this trip.  The girls had SO many characters sign it, and many of them noted the unusual (old) design and asked about it.  Anna and Elsa from Frozen took time to thumb through and look at who signed it. 

They ended up getting the signatures of:
  • Anna & Elsa
  • Chip & Dale
  • Minnie
  • Mickey
  • Tinkerbell 
  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Snow White
  • Rapunzel & Flynn Ryder 
  • Pinocchio
  • Doc McStuffins
Not too shabby for only 2 days in the park.  The highest concentration of signatures are available in the Royal Hall in Disneyland.  After waiting a few minutes we were able to meet 4.  They also met Gaston but he refused to sign their book saying that he couldn't read or write. 

Signing Tips
  • Find a book ahead, they cost more at the park.  Some books have space for photos on the side, which would be lovely if your kids did a photo op/signature.
  • Bring a pen (and an extra)!  We lost ours and were able to borrow but it was challenging sometimes to find one quickly.
  • Have your kids ask for the signature instead of you.  The characters were more apt to talk to a child than a parent.  


Disney Grand CA Hotel

My last tip has to do with where to stay.  Once again we stayed at the Disney Grand California hotel and spa.  It is the closest hotel to the park and even has it's own entrance to CA Adventure.  This was a HUGE perk for running back to the hotel if we forgot something and for my husband who didn't join us all day each day.

The Disney hotels offer Magic Hours each morning at the parks (alternating).  The extra hour is really lovely to get your morning off to a good start.  The day we visited CA Adventure we walked right onto the Cars Ride!

Staying at a Disney hotel also gets you a few freebies like a lanyard with Resort pin.  Our package had a certificate for a free photo (we did the Cars Ride) and discounts on Downtown Disney restaurants.

Tips
  • If you are getting a standard room try to get one closest to the front lobby.  That gives you quick access to the Downtown Disney entrance.
  • They are phasing out bunkbed rooms (Sigh), but there are still a few left if you're traveling now.  You can request a bunkbed room.
  • Use the pool your day of arrival, you'll probably be too busy to use it on park days.  Or plan to stay after checkout at the pool for a bit, they'll happily store your luggage for you.
  • You do not need to bring your own flotation device for your kids, they have life jackets available.
  • Don't refuse the turndown, they give you chocolates! :)
  • The Storytellers Cafe restaurant in the hotel had great healthy options and a nice atmosphere for lunch and dinner.  You many need reservations if you are visiting at a busy time, we were able to walk in.


Hope this information is helpful!  We're feeling pretty Disney-ed out right now but are considering a Disney Cruise sometime in the future. We'll see. ;)

2014 Disneyland Tips and Tricks

For information on Disney's Hawaii Aulani Resort Check out:



Friday, September 8, 2017

Camping + Disneyland = Fun and Fatigue :)

My blog has been pretty quiet lately, we've had quite a few adventures here in the last week!  

First I went tent camping with my youngest for the Labor Day weekend.  It had been over a decade since I camped and it was her very first time in a tent.  Let's just say our usual "camping" style is more lodge and less tent. :) We both had a wonderful time and are already looking forward to doing it again!  Our favorite parts of camping were:
  • Getting out of the Phoenix heat, it was 30 degrees cooler up there! 
  • Spending lots of time with our best friends.
  • Sleeping in a tent snuggled up under the stars. 


The day after we got back home our whole family drove to CA for a Disneyland adventure.  Two fun filled days at the parks and another to drive home and I'm ready to rest. Whew. 

I'll be back to share our highs/lows as well as tips/tricks from Disneyland so stay tuned.  But first I need to catch up on laundry and sleep.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Look who finished Phase 1 Braces!


My big girl has a new smile thanks to 15 months of braces. :)  Here's hoping her teeth grow in straight now that there is LOTS of space.  Otherwise she'll be back to Phase 2 in High School.


Here's her before and after photo!  Not only did my beauty get straighter teeth but she grew quite a bit too.  Ah, my baby is growing too fast!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse

We didn't catch the Eclipse excitement around here until a week before the event.  Mostly because in the Phoenix area we are far from totality, so it didn't become exciting until the kid's began learning about it at school.

Fortunately our girls attend a school that did not lock the kids in during the eclipse, but rather everyone got glasses thanks to a go-fund-me campaign.  The school made it a big event and all the kids participated.

I hadn't planned on attending but at the last minute was able to volunteer in my daughter's 1st grade class. I am so very glad that I did because it was pretty cool seeing the excitement in all the kids as the (partial) eclipse unfolded.

Our eclipse was even more partial due to a cloudy morning.  Go figure our desert that rarely shows any clouds had a cloudy morning on this day!  It worked out fine though because it help the kids from overheating (it was 98 degrees outside) and built up the excitement every time the sun peaked through the clouds.  

Hopefully it's a day both my girls remember for a long time, I know I will.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rubber Ducky Party Part 2: Food and Games


We're into the school year but not so long ago (last month) we celebrated two special 6 year olds with a Ducky Themed birthday party.  I already shared our invitations and decorations and now I'm back to show off our food and games.  All with a rubber ducky theme of course!

First up the refreshments.  We had beverages just for the adults, a must have at a hot hot and humid outdoor kid's party. 😉  



  • Cold Brew - Made by my Toddy maker.  I used IKEA organic ground coffee.  I also made simple syrup and provided half and half.
  • Mimosa/Bellini - My BFF had orange juice and champagne.  Very refreshing!  And I added a bottle of Bellini from Trader Joe's.

For kids we had a bucket of bottled waters on ice.  We figured they had enough sugar from the rest of the party so they didn't need more.

For food we had a spread of:
  • Popcorn: An easy crowd favorite.  We served it in cups.
  • Strawberry: Cut up for easy serving.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs: This may seem like an unusual choice but kids love them and hey, they matched our Duck theme.  
  • Frozen Yogurt: Tubes of yogurt were crowd favorites and perfect for a hot morning.

Naturally we also served cupcakes, ours were decorated with blue sprinkles (to look like water) and had rubber duckies on top.  If you're not afraid of a little more food dye you could ask for blue frosting.


 

Now onto games; the party was a pool party so games weren't required, but we had to have a couple!  
  • Relay Races: We split the kids into two teams and had them go back and forth with plastic eggs on spoons.  A party classic and the kids had a hoot.  You could add more challenges but our kids were content with just that.
  • Pin the beak on the duck.  You can't have a birthday party without a pin-the-something-on-the-something!  In this case my daughter thought up the beak on the duck version, although a wing could work too.  My sweet girl actually created her own duck weeks before the party, but we made a bigger one the night before instead.
 
  • Last but not least, a beautiful pinata!  Another classic game that doubles as a decoration!  Our kids had the best time whacking at it and it took a few rounds before it finally busted open.  The pinata was filled with (natural) candy and quarters stuffed into eggs.  Eggs! Get it? Duck eggs!  That was my friend's idea, she's brilliant!  She provided gift bags for each child to keep their pinata treasures and also party favors at the end.
The handmade pinata was from an Etsy shop called TheKidCorner.  It was perfect!



The party was a success and a good time was had by all!  Rubber Ducky might be an unusual theme for a 6 year old party but it worked swimmingly for us. 

Note about the party favors.  We let each child pick a big (normal size) rubber duck, duck key chain and a few tiny ducks to take home.  Prizes for the games were other duck toys.

Rubber Ducky Birthday Part 1 (decorations & invitations)

Monday, August 14, 2017

First Week of School

My girls (and I) survived their first week of school!  Unlike last year there were no tears, just happy smiles and lots of excitement.

Now it wasn't a perfect week, there were a few bumps and challenges but we made it through and the kids are ready for week two.

We started the night before school with a special dinner.  Then we packed lunches (ahead!! what?) and picked out their first day clothes.  The first day of school they were up and ready so early that we had time to stop at Starbucks for a first day of school treat for them and me.





I managed to find ways to fill my time while they were in school. 😉  I eased into it by hanging by the pool (with a friend) and meeting friends for boba and coffee.  Add a few errands and some housework and the days flew by.

Here's to another great year of school!

For past 1st days of school:

Kindergarten (my oldest)
Kindergarten (my youngest)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - NEW Hallmark Ornaments for 2017!


It may still be summer but I'm already thinking about Christmas!  I'm in the mood after discovering these adorable little Vintage Fisher Price toy ornaments.

I was surprised to learn that Hallmark is once again making Fisher Price ornaments.  They previously made a total of 14 Fisher Price ornaments between 2007-2012 but then abruptly stopped.  So what a surprise to see them reappear again after 5 years.   

Other Fisher Price themed ornaments have been made by companies like Dept 56 and Basic Fun.  However these versions (especially Dept 56) pale in comparison.  The main difference being that Dept 56 ornaments are clunky, heavy and made of non-moving resin.  Hallmark on the other hand made intricate, delicate plastic ornaments often with moving or musical parts (many battery operated).

The Hallmark ornaments quickly became collectible, with some versions costing over $100 on reselling sites.

Now back to this year.  Hallmark introduced two FP toys, the Pull a Tune Xylophone and the Chatter Phone.  Interestingly Hallmark previously made a Chatter Telephone, and it is one of the more expensive ornaments on the resale market.



The new version is called the Tiny Chatter Telephone.  This is very accurate as this dear little ornament is TINY.  It is by far the smallest chatter telephone I've ever seen!  Much smaller than the World's Smallest Fisher Price version.  It is so small in fact that it is a perfect size for a Fisher Price Little People figure to play with.  

It may be tiny but it is intricate and a fantastic replica and retails for only $7.95.



Now lets compare it to the original 2009 version.  As you can see the original version (on the left) is MUCH bigger.  The 2009 chatter phone has movement features including a dial that turns and wheels that roll.  They both have cords and tiny replica lithographs.


And for fun, here all all of my Chatter Phone ornaments as well as the World's Smallest Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  Which is your favorite?


Next up is the 2017 Pull a Tune Xylophone which retails for $15.95.  Hallmark did not make an xylophone ornament before, so this is a first.  The only other company that also made an xylophone is Dept 56 so I'll compare it to those.

First the Hallmark version (top photo).  It is made of plastic and has a mallet attached to a golden string.  The mallet snaps into one end of the ornament.  The keys are made of metal and make the smallest of sounds when struck just so.  

The Dept 56 xylophones on the other had are made of resin and have no movement.  However, the latest version (from 2016) does have the cute addition of looking like a sled.  All three versions have mallets connected by string, ribbon or plastic cord.

Of the two released this year my favorite is the oh-so-tiny chatter telephone.  It is just too cute!  I look forward to seeing if more Fisher Price ornaments come out next summer.

To purchase your own ornaments:



For more information on past Hallmark Fisher Price Ornaments: 

2007 - See 'N Say 
2008 - Play Family Farm 
2008 - View-Master 
2009 - School Bus 
2009 - Chatter Telephone 
2010 - Play Family Fun Jet 
2010 - Zookeeper Says 
2010 - Play Family School 
2011 - Music Box Teaching Clock 
2011 - Play Family House 
2011 - Little People Lil' Movers Fire Truck (not a vintage toy) 
2011 - Snoop 'N Sniff - Limited quantity 
2012 - Corn Popper 
2012 - Two Tune TV

Sunday, August 6, 2017

School Starts Tomorrow - Summer Highlights :)

Yes it's true, today is my family's last day of summer vacation. The kids start school tomorrow and it will be a bittersweet day for sure!  We had a fun filled summer break with a few trips, lots of play dates and many days just spent at home.  Heaven!


Here are the highlights:



Flower Girls for my Niece Kathryn's Wedding 


Trip to WA to visit family (and get out of the desert oven!!!)


Fishing Trip to Alaska (just my husband and our oldest)


Rubber Ducky Birthday Party to celebrate our 6 year old!!


Swim Lessons (super fun this year)


Pool Play Dates - With Juice Otter Pops!

Vacation Bible School (youngest) and Church Camp in the mountains (oldest)


Summer Facts

  • 3 = Teeth Lost (2 for big sister, 1 for little with another super loose right now!)
  • 3 = States Visited
  • 10.5 = Weeks of Vacation
  • 4 Doctor Visits 
  • 2 Dentist Visits
  • 5 = Modes of unusual transport (National Park Bus, kayak, ferry, UTV, float plane) 
  • 6 = Times watched the movie Moana
  • 12 = Pool Play Dates
  • 14 = Coffee Dates 
Whew, that was a fun summer.  The kids are ready to go back to school and I am hoping that this year is a smooth transition, especially for me!  It was quite an adjustment for me last fall getting used to having all my kids out of the house for full days.  Let's see if this year is better. :)  




Friday, August 4, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - My Friend Jenny



My youngest turned 6 last month (sigh) and desperately wanted another My Friend Doll.  She already has 2 and was hopeful to add the last 2 (girls) to her collection.  I did some eBay stalking and found the last two (Jenny and Becky) over the summer.  I packaged up Jenny for her birthday and stashed Becky away for Christmas. 

My daughter had the biggest grin when she opened up her birthday present, which makes it all worth it!!  Now about this 30+ year old doll. :)  My Friend Jenny #209 made between 1984-1985.  She is decked out in aerobics clothes which followed the fitness craze of the 1980s  At least she isn't wearing a high cut leotard! 👀

This version of Jenny is the 4th (and last) one produced.  First up was #201 Jenny 1974-76 which was pre-"My Friend".  The main difference with that first doll is that she had (thicker) cloth arms/legs while the rest of the Jenny's (including this one) have plastic arms/legs and a cloth torso.  #212 My Friend Jenny had a brown dress and a brown straw hat and was made between 1979-1981.  Next up was #217 My Friend Jenny from 1982-1983 wearing a yellow dress and a white hat.  Finally our version #209, who is quite the departure wearing workout clothing and no hat!


The My Friend Jenny box shows adorable photos of a lovely little girl playing with, washing and caring for her doll.  I am not sure if Jenny is meant to look Asian, but she does resemble the little girl!  All of the boxes and inserts for the My Friend dolls advertise that the dolls are machine washable and easy care.  I still have not braved washing any of our dolls in the machine....that seems risky to me. 


Jenny has a plastic head, arms, legs and feet.  Her torso is cloth and like the other dolls has a white flowered material on it.  Jenny has brown eyes and long dark brown hair with bangs. Her outfit includes a sweatshirt type top, skirt, tights, leg warmers, headband (removable), purse (removable) and sneakers.


A closer look at her tights shows that they are stirrups!  Oh how I remember stirrups from the 80s.  Good times.  The leg warmers (purple) are removable and knit.  The pink and white tennis shoes have molded laces and are marked R or L.  There was also an all pink tennis shoe version.  All of these pieces were exclusives to this set.


The cross body purse opens and you could place something tiny inside (like a dime).  My version is gold purse/gold strap but they also had a gold purse/silver strap, silver purse/silver strap and a silver purse/silver strap versions.  The headband is teal and purple fabric woven together.


Let's just say these sweet My Friend Dolls are well loved by my little girl.  I adore that she (on her own!) is so interested in these vintage dolls.  I had at least one doll as a child and it brings me joy to see her love them too.

For more information on her Fisher Price Dolls

#204 Baby Ann (a soft doll)