Toddling Around Spain

We just got back from a two-week trip traveling through Spain with our 2 1/2 year old daughter. I know, poor me. But in the true spirit of being Committed, it did get a little crazy.

Toddling around Spain.

Balloons make everything better.

FIRST. 
I loved the trip. The architecture was amazing, the culture is admirable (drinking and eating all the time! Siestas!) The wine was cheap and delicious. Oh, the food…

BUT.
The kiddo was a handful. She may read this years down the line, so I don’t want her to feel like I’m putting her down. It wasn’t her fault–the 9 hour time difference was rough on all of us. And she’s 2 1/2, which means discovering strong preferences, a desire for instant perfection (well, we never outgrow that, do we?), and just general upsettedness at basically everything. We thought her familiarity with travel might make things easier, which it probably did (but didn’t feel like it at the time).

Toddler dinner in Spain.

Sometimes kiddo had a low sitting threshold.

SO.
For this post, I’m going to focus on how we handled the tears and tantrums. (HINT: Wine. Lots of wine.)

We learned a few things on this trip, lessons that weren’t too unexpected:

  • Lower your expectations for how much you’ll get to see or do each day
  • Respect the schedule, but sometimes stretching it to experience something amazing is worth the crankiness
  • Staying in one place is MUCH easier than hopping cities (duh, but it was worth a shot)
  • Twos CAN be terrible, but they can also be amusing
  • Rely on your partner and take the burden if you’re up to it
  • Talk through your plans first (ie, how are you going to get off the train? Who is carrying the car seat? Carrier on the front or back?)
  • The carseat & baby carrier were helpful. We were glad to leave the stroller at home.
  • Don’t forget that you’re ON VACATION and laugh and enjoy the little things as much as possible.

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Finger Painting for Neat Freaks

We’ve got some gorgeous weather happening in Seattle right now, which means lots of fun outdoors. But sometimes, we gotta eat. Which means kiddo is restless and unoccupied for about 10 minutes while we get meals together. Enter this:

Finger painting for toddler

Occupy your toddler with minimal chaos and destruction!

I found this brilliance on Pinterest, and couldn’t wait to try it. I could only find one color of finger paint, so I added a few drops of blue food coloring for interest. I think it helped thin out the paint so it would squish and swirl more. Just add a few blobs of finger paint to a gallon-size freezer bag, squeeze out the air, seal, and tape all edges to a window. I say tape all the edges because as the kiddos get older, they like to peel, pull, and basically destroy everything they get their hands on! We did get a hole in ours, but patched with more packing tape and it was fine. We had fun stamping footprints, handprints, and even stamping shapes with some of our Melissa & Doug play dough tools.

Oh, and PS–make sure their nails are trimmed. We went back for a second round and Wolverine’d that bag up pretty good, thus making it messy (but not as messy as regular fingerpainting!)

Happy painting!

5 Things My Toddler Taught Me

Lately, I’ve been losing my patience. With so much to do, I want to GET SHIT DONE NOW.

But having a 2-year-old doesn’t allow for things to get done right away.

It's no coincidence toddler rhymes with dawdler Continue reading

Cupcakes and Pipe Dreams

I had simple visions of my daughter’s second birthday. A small gathering of friends, a song, some bubbly and cupcakes, hugs, and bedtime. What instead happened was a mysterious chickenpox-like outbreak on the kiddo’s legs, a trip to the doctor, and a day home from daycare. Not to worry, we’re getting through it, and made the best of a day cooped up in the house. However, I still have cupcake envy.

Had I had the afternoon to do it, I would have loved to make cupcakes like this:

Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle

Samoa from Trophy Cupcakes

Or this:

Cupcake Royale in Seattle

Triple Threat from Cupcake Royale

But instead, we went with the box kind. And you know, they don’t taste great, but it was fun to make together. I’d love to whip together my own organic, hand-picked, single origin, roasted-chocolate-salted-tamarind-pink-peppercorn-caramel whatever, but who am I kidding?

Toddlers can help cook

Boxed stuff: easy mixin’

I did make my own frosting. Mmm…butter…
I used this recipe from Martha Stewart. I halved the recipe for one box-worth of cupcakes, but kept the full amount of vanilla. I added in food coloring to get the purple color. And voila!

Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream

Fake it ’til ya make it.

Frozen vanilla buttercream frosting

Genius idea for leftover frosting: freeze it!

I did have a moment of redemption. I had a little frosting leftover in the piping bag, and figured, why waste it? So I lined a little tray with parchment paper and piped small florets. I have to say, the ones with the chocolate chip on top were the perfect treat! I mean, it looks less pathetic popping these in your mouth than scooping spoonfuls of frosting, right? Right?

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We had a nice little celebration and will get together with friends once the threat of contagion has lifted. Happy birthday, kiddo!

2nd birthday cupcake

Happy birthday!