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7 Tips for Entertaining a Toddler and Infant at a Wedding

We recently went to Mr. Dolphin’s brother’s wedding and we all had a great time. It was so much fun to see the little guys dressed up in bow ties, spend some time with family and, of course, celebrate a new marriage and addition to the family (I finally have a sister!). Because the wedding took place on the West Coast and was an evening wedding, the kids were battling jet lag and their bedtime to stay up for the festivities. In addition, they had not slept well for the several days prior to the wedding and in hindsight, I think Panda was a little overstimulated from all the activity. I was trying to prepare as much as possible to avoid complete meltdowns during the wedding. Luckily, my brother-in-law and new sister-in-law were very thoughtful and had a lot of things covered to make the whole experience go a lot more smoothly! Here are things that helped.

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Color coordination between myself and Panda was purely coincidental! Lion was super proud of his bow tie.

1) Toys/distractions during the ceremony.

Lion was one of the ring bearers, but definitely got a little bored just standing at the front. At one point, I went and got him and had him sit in my lap and handed Panda off to Mr. Dolphin’s stepmother. I let Lion play with a paper fan that the bride and groom left on all the seats, which entertained him for a few minutes before he started wanting to return to Mr. Dolphin. I didn’t want him running back and forth during the wedding ceremony, so insisted that he remain where he was at this point. Luckily, Mr. Dolphin’s stepbrother who is great with kids was sitting next to me and played with Lion, showing him how to open and close the fan and pretending to eat Lion’s fan with his own. Panda also got enjoyment out of the fan, happily chewing on the ribbons hanging from it.

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Mini Baby Muffin Recipe

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I have always had a thing for muffins. I just love them! A muffin was my typical breakfast growing up. I especially enjoy what I call “oaty” muffins, which are just muffins with oats, bran, or some grain goodness.

There is a place in my hometown called Honey’s and they have the perfect oat bran muffin, or should I say oaty, muffin. When I went home for the holidays during college, I would buy a dozen, wrap each muffin individually, freeze them, and take them back to school with me. That should give you some idea of my muffin obsession.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to sharing muffins with Petit Macaron. I have been feeding him all sorts of purees and slowly trying to add more finger type foods into the mix. He’s not the biggest fan of solids, yet. He gives the cutest confused face when something has more texture. I figured muffins would be good to try as they are soft, easy to eat, and tasty.

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Book Review: The Happiness Project

I recently read The Happiness Project and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.

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The premise of the book is that the author, Gretchen Rubin, decided one day that she wanted to maximize her happiness, not by shaking up her life in a big way, a la Eat Pray Love, but by making small resolutions and sticking to them. A happy person overall, she aimed to get happier, not to climb out of a depression.

I found the idea intriguing but was somewhat skeptical. I tend to be a perfectionist and an over-analyzer, so I wondered if applying the ideas in this book to my life would just exacerbate those tendencies and give me more things to obsess over, which might even detract from my overall happiness. By the time I got to the end of the book, however, I couldn’t wait to put some of my own happiness-boosting resolutions into action. It sounded fun! And the beauty is you can pick and choose your own personal goals to work toward, discarding those that don’t bring you fulfillment.

Rubin starts by creating a list of resolutions for herself for an entire year, each month having three to five separate resolutions. She creates a resolution chart with all of the resolutions so she has some accountability. Each month has its own theme, such as “Boost Energy,” “Pursue a Passion,” or “Lighten Up,” and the individual resolutions range from “exercise better” to “make three new friends” to “indulge in a modest splurge.” Over the course of the year she focuses on her home, her marriage, her children, her friends, her hobbies, her finances, her spirituality, and more. Whew, quite the laundry list. But breaking it down and taking it one month at a time, and then slowly adding on new resolutions each month, makes it more manageable.

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Team Green for the Type-A

Having many Type-A tendencies, long before this pregnancy was ever planned, I was always firmly in the find out what you’re having camp. I can totally relate to the reason of “I would have to know for planning purposes.”

Mr. M on the other hand, was a big fan of the surprise. My initial reaction was that I could never do it. There was no way. However, with time I started to think about the perks of not finding out what we were having, and by the time we were pregnant, I knew I could do it.

I never thought it would be easy for me, and I thought I would be seriously tempted to be a Team Green dropout when the time came, but to my surprise, it has been relatively easy! I’ve certainly had times where it’s harder than others, but I’ve never been tempted to drop out. So, I thought it would be fun to share some of the motivating factors that made this decision easy to stick to, and heck, even get excited about!

There are very few surprises left in life – I think this is the most common motivator for people, and one of the biggest reasons my husband did not want to find out. For me, I’m not huge on surprises, but this was one I could control. I know it’s coming and it’s one or the other. I didn’t start to get excited about this one until a little while into the pregnancy, and now, it’s something I can get teary just thinking about. We get to find out whether this kicking monster is a boy or a girl by meeting him or her in person!

Gender-neutral stuff for future children – Everything we’re collecting in baby gear and clothing at this point is gender-neutral. In the event that we decide to have a second child and it’s the opposite sex, we won’t have a plethora of gender-specific items or feel we need to start from scratch with clothing/gear.

Needs-based shower – When you don’t know what you’re having showers tend to be less clothing-focused. I’ll be perfectly upfront here that this was a big influencer in my decision. That control-freak side of me would like to keep things as needs-based as possible. We have been more than happy with hand-me-downs and with clothing I am a big fan of thrifting. I also don’t want to end up with too much pink or blue clothing, I like a good mix of neutrals.

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10 Summer Toy Staples

We love summer here. Since we have gotten to know more of our neighborhood friends, we are always outside at some point during the day rambling in and out of each other’s backyards. I have discovered that some toys are just pure fun for all ages and not too expensive. Here are 10 of our favorite summer staples that can easily bring hours of entertainment time and time again.

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1) Inflatable ball– Who knew how much fun a large inflatable ball would be? A neighbor of ours had it at her home for the pool but I decided to get one for our yard, and the kids love rolling it and chasing one another, tossing it around in a big game of catch, and even playing a wacky version of soccer with it. It’s held up well despite the constant attention and it brings such a nice splash of color and fun in our yard.

2) Kite – I love kite flying. I did it a lot as a child and Drake has picked up my enthusiasm for them. We haven’t been able to go to the beach to try this summer, but we have practiced flying it around in our backyard. Mostly Drake and Juliet run around with it flapping behind them, but it still seems like they are having a good time all the same. I hope we can make it to the park or beach on a nice day soon so we can really see it fly high.

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Taking a Toddler to the Movies

When Eli was about 8/9 months old, we took great advantage of his regular and predictable sleep schedule and saw a matinee. I realize that sounds like we snuck away while he was home in his crib, but no, we packed him up in that cozy little infant car seat and took him to the movies. We timed it perfectly for his nap time and it went off without a hitch; fell asleep as the movie started and woke as the credits rolled.

At almost 2 years old, we tried out The Good Dinosaur. Epic failure. We literally walked into the theater and Eli started crying (in his defense, it did seem extra crazy loud in there). We sat down and tried to get him to chill, but we had to leave after 3 minutes. We asked for a refund and decided to hold off on movies for a bit.

At 2 years old (+4 months): Finding Dory and finding success!! He sat through the whole movie, loved it and has now seen it 3 times.

Here are some tips so that you will hopefully need to make a few less movie attempts than we did!

1) Get yourself started on a movie they are super into. Eli has loved all things Disney/Pixar and Finding Dory seemed to be a great follow up to Finding Nemo. We watched Finding Nemo and played with our Nemo toys, watched Finding Dory previews, anything to get him pumped.

2) Wait until your child seems like they might be ready. We tried pushing Eli early because he really likes movies, forgetting that at such a young age, anything new and different was something wrong to him.

3) Try to skip the previews. You don’t really realize how long previews are until you are watching the clock tick by knowing your toddler has only a movie’s worth of attention, not a movie plus previews. I aim to go the movie 15 minutes after it starts. That should be plenty of time to miss most of the previews, otherwise you’ll hear, “Dory coming?” every 2 minutes.

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Chicken Karaage (Japanese Chicken Nuggets)

While we try to eat healthy in the Dolphin household, sometimes we just want a special treat. This recipe is actually a favorite of Mr. Dolphin, but while Lion will eat it, there are definitely other forms of chicken he likes better. I usually make this the night before chicken nuggets appear on the daycare’s monthly snack menu since, even though I won’t pretend that fried chicken is healthy, we think chicken karaage is more delicious (and less processed) than the nuggets served at daycare. Lion is happy to have a substitute that is similar to what the other kids are being served.

Chicken karaage is basically a really flavorful Japanese style chicken nugget. It’s generally made with chicken thighs, marinated with seasonings and then mixed with potato starch (or corn starch) before being fried.

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Lion actually finished off most of this plate. We try to serve a cucumber salad to accompany the dish first, otherwise he might eat chicken only for dinner.

What I love about chicken karaage is that it is much easier than most of the other types of fried chicken I’ve made. It takes only about 30 minutes total, with about 5-10 minutes of prep time and the rest devoted to frying. I throw the marinade into a Ziploc bag with the chicken and let it sit, then when it’s time to cook, I throw in the potato starch and mash it together. Other types of fried chicken that I’ve made often involve a dry-wet-dry breading technique, or at the very least, a lot of time putting the dry breading on. With this recipe, you are making more of a batter so it’s faster to put together and the potato starch results in a light non-greasy breading. As a bonus, Lion is always excited to get in on the action and likes to squish the ingredients together in the bag.

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