For those with small children, you know the struggle of constantly picking up toys that get tossed around the house. I usually have my oldest son pick up his stuff and put it in his room. He has some storage cubes and he knows where he's supposed to put his toys. I want to do the same with my youngest. But finding good-quality storage solutions that can survive toddlerhood can be tricky.
I was browsing on Amazon for items that might add a global element to my youngest son's nursery. He's starting to play with toys a little bit and I've been hoping to find something fun to separate his baby toys from the rest of the toys. That's when I came across Kaikai & Ash's toy storage cubes that feature cities from around the world. I contacted them and they send me 4 toy storage cubes to review.
As soon as I took the first one out of the bag, I realized how much sturdier they were than the ones we had in our basement and in my oldest son's room. This was fantastic news because the ones in my 3-year-old's room are already misshapen and partially collapsed because we tend to overfill them. They also fold completely flat and because of their weight, they stay flat.
They were also BIGGER. The cubes measure 13" x 13" x 13" and they fit perfectly in our IKEA shelves (which is essential, as we have them in practically every room.) This also means I've been able to put more toys/clothes/blankets in them than other cubes, which keeps more clutter off our floors.
The felt detail on the front is also well-constructed. They are sewn on and seem like they will stay awhile. Plus the designs are even more adorable in person. I had a hard time choosing because the colors are also so bright and playful. And I like that they are gender-neutral, which is not always the case when looking for children's room decor.
In the past, I've paid $5-$10 for cubes from IKEA, Target and Big Lots (the ones that are slowly falling apart.) Amazon sells these cubes for $18.95. That's a big price difference. But the quality is superb. If you're looking for toy storage that will last (as well as being used as a train/boat, building blocks, etc) I'd highly recommend these.
I wouldn't even limit these for just toys. My plan is to transition our guest bedroom into a travel-theme using elements from the nursery. I will definitely incorporate them because they don't look too babyish/kiddish. These storage cubes will be great for holding bath towels and extra sheets. They would also make a great base for a gift basket about travel-items or for a bridal shower with the honeymoon destination. I might also transition some to hold our travel items (noise-canceling headphones, battery chargers for phone, the latest Liane Moriarty novel, etc) so I can always find them before a flight.
I'm hoping to fill our Paris box with children's books and toys that we pick up on our upcoming trip. It's been fun teaching my 3-year-old about the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe just based on the felt appliques on the front of this box. He's also starting to name the letters in Bonjour Paris, which has been exciting!
Kaikai & Ash sent me the toy storage cubes in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I'm always looking for new baby products to try with my 4-month-old son. He's been having a hard time sleeping and I thought maybe it had to do with the unusually cold weather we've had in Seattle. I came across Gunamuna's Gunapod and it looked like a great fit for my family. They sent me their Alphabet Luxury Bamboo Duvet for review.
As soon as it arrived, I was giddy. I tore open the box, ripped off the bag and felt the fabric. It was so soft. It was softer than my baby's skin. I found myself petting it over and over because I couldn't get over how incredibly silky it felt. My son was starting to get sleepy, so I thought I'd try it out on him immediately. The zippers were really smooth and it was easy to get him in the Gunapod. My son loves anything soft and he seemed to enjoy rubbing his cheek on the Gunapod. I put him in his swing and he fell asleep instantly and stayed asleep for longer than usual.
When he woke up, I kept him in the Gunapod since the house was cool and I wanted him to stay warm. I felt some rumbles and my first thought was "Please don't blow out my Gunapod, I mean YOUR Gunapod!" I laid him down and it was so easy to unzip the bottom of the sack, keeping my son nice and warm while I checked his diaper. Thankfully, it was a false alarm! My 3-year-old was able to easily zip up the Gunapod around my baby all by himself.
We've been using it every night for the past 3 weeks and not only has he kept it clean (knock on wood) but he hasn't felt cold once. We're able to use lighter weight pajamas (instead of fleece) and he stays comfortable. He also seems to want to stay in it all morning. When we start doing formal nap times with him, we will be using this Gunapod as his signal that it's time to sleep.
What I like about the Gunapod:
What I don't like about the Gunapod:
We've been using it non-stop every night for the past 3 weeks and my husband and I can't get over how much we like the Gunapod. I've been trying to think of anything I don't like about it and it's been a struggle. I even went on Amazon looking for negative reviews to see if I was just missing something, but I came up empty. If a new Mom asked me what sleep sack she should buy for her baby who is no longer being swaddled, I would recommend she get this product.
Gunamuna sent me their Gunapod for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Did you know that you can take your kids to an indoor beach during the cold weather in Seattle? I discovered Sandbox Sports in Georgetown last year through ParentMap magazine. They always seem to know what's cool to keep kids occupied. I went with a few friends and we all brought our 2-year-olds. They had a blast just playing with trucks in the same spot in the sand!
So this year, when we were invited to a playdate there, I quickly said yes. We decided to do the 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. session so we could grab lunch after. They also have an 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. session that I have heard is less crowded.
I remembered that parking was tough last year. I was newly pregnant and I had to park in an industrial area and walk with my toddler in the rain while avoiding huge trucks and puddles. So this year, I arrived 30 minutes early to nab a spot in their lot. That may seem crazy, but it made it so much easier with a baby and a 3-year-old in the chilly rain.
Since we had been before, we didn't need to sign the waiver. I paid the $8 and we took off our shoes and headed into the sand pit. We kept our socks on because it was cold and I thought last year that my feet were freezing by the end of the session. While I remembered that the sand was cold, it took me awhile before I realized it was also WET. The socks didn't really keep our feet much warmer and they ended up trapping in sand so our feet were cold. wet and sandy. Next time we will just do bare feet.
Because we arrived right at 9:30 a.m., my son had his pick of toys. He ran around and grabbed a truck. Then, he went down all the slides right as other kids started to trickle in. Our friends arrived and the place started to get really busy. We stayed in the sand pit the whole time, but I saw a lot of parents sitting in the chairs outside. I wore my 4.5 month-old in my Tula baby carrier. I saw one family put their baby in the carseat on the sand, but I would have worried about sand getting into a baby's face.
The coolest thing about Sandbox Sports is that it's probably one of the few "beach" experiences where your kids can roam around in a pretty safe environment. No need to worry about them running into the ocean or walking down the beach and out of sight. It's really easy to keep your eye on your kid(s) the whole time.
My son had to use the bathroom, so we quickly headed into the Women's restroom. They have a handicapped stall that was the right size for all 3 of us. They also had a step stool at the sink. What impressed me the most was their changing table. It was located in the alcove outside of the restrooms and not only had a trash can, but extra bags to bag up stinky diapers. I thought the whole set-up was great!
8 Things to Know Before You Go:
Before our oldest was born, we knew we had a family reunion in Thailand when he'd be 6 months old and that we'd need to get him a passport. Having only gotten passports for ourselves (and it had been quite a few years) we had to do a bit of research to figure out how to get one for a baby. We ended up having to drive to a neighborhood far away in order to get it in on time.
When our youngest was 2 months old, we decided to plan a trip to Europe for when he'd be 6 months old. We went online to look for the form. I found one here. I was able to fill it out on my computer and then print it. Then, I searched online to figure out which post offices near me accepted passports and had to check appointment days/times to see what worked with my family. The hardest part was NOT SIGNING the form until we got to the Post Office to apply.
After we had the form filled out (but not signed) I took some passport photos of my baby. We have white bed sheets on our bed, so I just pulled the covers off the bed and laid my son down. To avoid shadows on his face, we just used daylight and a flash on my iPhone. We took several photos so we'd have options, as passport photos can be really specific. Here are passport photo guidelines. My husband found this website to be especially helpful when printing the passport photos at home.
Our experience at the post office was meh. We waited in line for 10 minutes past our appointment time. We had our 3-year-old and our baby with us. There wasn't enough room for us all to be at the counter at the same time, so it was cramped. The appointment took about 20 minutes. At then end, we were asked for a check for the passport fee. We didn't bring it with us, but thankfully we were able to get a money order for a small fee.
6 Things to Know:
I love Seattle. I'm proud to say that I'm a born and raised Seattleite (well, Seattle-adjacent.) I love our trees, ferries, rippling streams, and coffee shops. But what I'm most proud of is our fabulous small businesses. When I heard that Milk Bakery (a new online bakery) was opening in Seattle and offering lactation cookies and granola bars, I immediately contacted them to see if we could collaborate.
Milk Bakery believes in "Judgement Free Breastfeeding." I really love this because I was caught off guard how many people commented on how I fed my oldest and wanted to know how long I'd keep breastfeeding. They make cookies for breastfeeding moms, formula feeding moms and all moms in between. I especially love this because I remember how hard it was to eat anything with I had my oldest son. I was just so busy and overwhelmed and by the time I would have a few moments of quiet, the last thing I wanted to do was make myself something to eat. So I just didn't eat. This time around, I'm making it a priority to eat.
I've always been intrigued by lactation cookies. I've tried Mother's Milk Tea in the past, which has helped my supply. So many Mom friends swear by lactation cookies. Others say they didn't help their milk supply. I love that Milk Bakery says on their website: "If our delicious cookies and granola bars help you produce milk, great. If they don’t, eat them anyway because you deserve a treat." This is a statement I can get behind!
Kate, the owner, was kind enough to drop the cookies off at my husband's work so I could try them out. My husband had just left for lunch, so he had his co-worker pick them up. She also is a nursing Mom, so I told her to have the first taste. Her first impressions were that they were super crunchy, which surprised her. She was eating them at her desk and it was getting a bit messy. She popped one in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it and they became a lot chewier. She suggested pairing it with Mother's Milk Tea for a nice tea and cookie treat. I got a text from her later that evening and she definitely noticed a difference in her milk supply, which surprised her because she's been nursing for quite awhile.
I decided to try my first Milk Bakery cookie for breakfast with my coffee. I tried to Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. I popped it i the microwave for 12 seconds and it was nice and warm and chewy. I loved the flavor! The oatmeal definitely came through and it tasted more substantial than other cookies.
Then about an hour later, I tried the Coconut Oatmeal for my second breakfast. I was surprised just how much the coconut flavor came through! I'm a Hawaiian-cookie addict (just ask my husband) and this rates right up there with some of my favorites!
About an hour after my second cookie, I noticed some tingling after I fed my son. When I fed him a few hours later, I definitely felt fuller than usual. That evening, I was able to pump 4.5 oz. I pump every few weeks so I was happy to get that much. However, my son was going through a "leap" and was nursing more frequently, which might have led to me producing more milk.
I did not try the Double Chocolate Chip, but I was really glad to know she offers a vegan cookie. Not because I'm vegan (I'm not), but because I know a lot of breastfeeding Moms who have to eat a strict diet because their baby has allergies. Sometimes those Moms end up going straight to formula because it's hard to maintain a strict diet. Vegan options are great for Moms who'd like the option to continue breastfeeding.
The cookies were so tasty that it was really hard for me to limit myself to just 2 a day. But, I wanted them to last a bit longer. I was able to pump 4.5oz-5oz of milk once per day every day I had the cookies. Usually when I pump, my son cries likes he's not getting enough milk for the next 2 feedings. However, the days I ate the cookies, he seemed happy and full after each feeding. I can't say for sure that it was the cookies.
The 2 bags of cookies lasted me a week (eating 2 cookies per day.) I made a point of sitting down and enjoying my cookies with my coffee each morning. Regardless of whether or not it helped my milk supply, it was really nice to set aside something that was just for me each day. It was the little bit of self-care that I needed to survive the craziness of raising a baby and a preschooler.
If you'd like to try Milk Bakery, head to their Etsy Store to purchase their cookies.
Milk Bakery sent me their lactation cookies for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
With this pregnancy, I've been so lucky to be able to travel a bit. It's mostly been family travel, so when we had the opportunity to have an official Babymoon (trip before baby arrives just as a couple) we seized the day! Babymoons are a somewhat recent phenomenon and not everyone is able to take one (especially with the lack of maternity/paternity available and people have to use sick/vacation days after baby is born.) We are so lucky that we were able to get time off and my Mom was available to watch our toddler.
We decided to go to Victoria, BC because it's relatively close to our home in Seattle and I'd heard wonderful things about the city. My husband had been when he was in high school, but I'd never been there before. We went in late July, so the weather was warm during the day, but cooled off at night.
As the trip got closer, I started thinking about what to pack. We were just going to be gone a weekend, but we had a lot of fun activities scheduled. I kept in mind that we'd be on a double decker bus, a boat, inside/outside and walking around. Some items on my packing list are essentials and some are things that I should take advantage of before I'm consumed by the newborn phase again.
What to Pack for a Babymoon
My family is heading to Spain in April and we couldn't be more excited. I love to prep my kids before trips so we get the most out of our time in other countries. When I think of Spain, I immediately think of Sangria. There's something so fun about throwing a bunch of yummy fruit, juice and wine together. Maybe that's because I'm a Mom and adding wine to my juice frequently sounds like a great idea. Obviously I'm not going to give my 3 year old actual Sangria, but I thought it might be fun to make fruit-infused water and test out our Drink in a Box.
Drink in a Box is a reusable juice box. It's kind of like the cool version of a straw cup for preschoolers and older kids. My son has always been interested in straw cups and has just gotten into juice boxes recently. When we were potty training, I needed him to drink a lot so that he could practice going to the bathroom frequently. I ended up buying him chocolate milk and juice boxes to ensure he was drinking a lot of liquids. I was really flabbergasted when I looked at the sugar content. I knew I didn't want to make it his drink of choice.
When we have get-togethers with my extended family, my Aunt always makes fruit-infused waters and they are so yummy! I figured, maybe I could do that as a toddler-led activity with my son. So I cut up some strawberries and added blueberries to a bowl and let my son put as much fruit in the Drink in a Box as he wanted. He had a lot of fun doing that. Then we realized it was too much fruit and not enough water, so we fixed that and it turned out great!
Overall, my son had fun making the fruit-infused water, but he wasn't super interested in using the Drink in the Box. He had a hard time holding it and immediately grabbed a straw cup to use instead.
We let the fruit-infused water sit in the Drink in the Box for a few days and it was a breeding ground for mold, especially in the straw and inside the top part of the container. Each little crevice was filled with mold. For our family, we need items that are quick and easy to clean.
What I liked about Drink in a Box:
Overall, while I like the idea of Drink in a Box, it's not a good fit for our family. We tend to forget water bottles in our car or in lunch bags, so I'd be hesitant to put anything other that straight water for fear of mold. But, it could be a great option for families with school-aged kids who could rinse out the Drink in a Box as soon as they got home from school.
I was provided these products in exchange for an honest review.
My family loves to vacation in Vancouver, BC. Each time we drive up, we pass the exit for Semiahmoo Resort and each time I tell my husband, "Hey, we should check out Semiahmoo sometime." So, we I had the opportunity to bring my family to Semiahmoo Resort & Spa for the weekend, I jumped on it! Semiahmoo Resort was just voted the Northwest’s Best Resort in the December 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine and now I know why.
The resort is located a bit off the freeway with lots of turns. Thankfully, there is plenty of signage along the roads making it really easy to find the resort. It was dark by the time we got there, but we could tell that the view would be really spectacular had we arrived during the daylight. We drove past a golf course before arriving at the resort. Again, there was plenty of signage to tell us how to get to the lobby.
As soon as I entered the lobby, I noticed that the air smelled like cinnamon tea! It was so yummy and comforting! The front desk staff were so incredibly friendly! We'd had a long day, so it was such a relief to be greeted so warmly. They got us set up very quickly and we were off to check out the digs.
We LOVED our room at Semiahmoo! We had the Waterview Deluxe Double Queen room, which was great since we had both kids traveling with us. They also provided us with a pack and play for our baby. We ended up using our DockATot instead because our baby was in the midst of his 4-month sleep regression (yes our vacation timing was impeccable.) I found the beds to be quite comfortable. They featured Simmons® Beautyrest Black™ Georgetown™ Plush Pillow Top bedding and we got as much rest as we could with the sleep regression going on.
The room also included ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Amenities) bath amenities, terry-lined bathrobes; hairdryer; Keurig K-Cup® brewing system; ironing board and iron; 42″ HDTV, functional desk/work area; room safes, micro fridge, USB power charging station; Digital Radio phone with charging extensions and WiFi. We were able to borrow an iPad charger from the front desk, which was immensely helpful! The clock was a bit bright and lit up the room at night.
The only thing that was missing was bottled water. I don't remember staying in a hotel in the past couple of years that didn't provide a couple of complimentary bottles of water. With the air being so dry, my husband and I were insatiably thirsty and so we relied heavily on the tap water.
Overall, I found our room to be very quiet at night. However, during the day when it was nap time, all we could hear was the sounds of little kid footsteps above us running from one side of their room to the next. It was a good reminder for us to opt for ground floors when we travel with our kids. Also the doors are quite loud and woke our baby anytime someone entered to left.
My son was ecstatic when he saw that the staff had brought matchbox cars and a playmat for him to use during our stay! I was thrilled because I hastily filled a Ziploc bag with some random trucks and trains and threw them in our suitcase, crossing my fingers that it would occupy him. They were the perfect addition to the playmat. Now that my oldest is 3 years old, I'm realizing how important it is to have things in the room to occupy him while we are tending to his brother or getting ready. I really hate using our iPad in hotel rooms for long periods, so this was a much better option for us!
The first night we arrived, we decided to check out their movie theater. Discovery Theater offers a 156” HD projector and 50 comfortable leather chairs. Our oldest had fallen asleep on the drive to Semiahmoo and was wide awake by the time we settled into the room. We got there about 15 minutes after the movie was supposed to have started. The seats are really comfortable and there was plenty of leg room. It turns out that the movie that was supposed to be shown that night was missing, so they brought some alternatives. Our son was starting to yawn, so we took this as our cue to head back to the room and settle in for the night.
Our first morning, we decided to try the Pierside Kitchen. I loved that we didn't have to walk outside at all. Semiahmoo is a bit of a maze inside, but they have tons of signage so it was really easy to find the restaurant. They had an extensive breakfast buffet that included fruit, pastries, meats, potatoes, pancakes, eggs, yogurt, cereal and more. Our server recommended that we do the buffet for our son because kids under 5 eat free. My son got some berry yogurt, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, a blueberry muffin and some eggs and he was a happy camper. My husband also did the breakfast buffet and raved about the cantaloupe and prosciutto as well as the bagels and lox. I wasn't super hungry, so I had the lemon pancakes which were tasty!
After breakfast, we decided to explore the resort a bit more. They had a nice veranda where we could let our son run around. The coolest thing is that we could see the Peace Arch border crossing into Canada! I've only seen while driving through the border, so it was pretty spectacular to see the line of cars slowly passing from one country to the other.
We got chilly pretty quickly (as we had not dressed for outside weather) so we hustled inside to explore. The lobby is quite spacious with lots of seating. We found a room that had a chest of board games and we decided to check it out. The family-friendly games included Apples to Apples Junior, Monopoly, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Jenga, Life, Pictionary Junior, Uno, Yahtzee and more!
My son tried out about 5 different games, including Candyland. We've only really done puzzles with him, so it was fun to hear him make up rules and use the board games to play in a different way. The room itself was quite relaxing as there were large windows overlooking Canada and the water in between.
I had the opportunity to get a tour of Semiahmoo, which was immensely helpful. We started in the Spa, which is the portal to the indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, fitness center and more. I learned that they have an indoor golf simulator that should be up and running by the time this is posted. They also have a fitness center upstairs that features an indoor track. They also have a fitness room that offers classes (like Zumba and Pilates) throughout the day. The indoor tennis/basketball court is quite large and I was told it's the next area to be renovated.
We went in January, when the weather was a bit cold. However, we were told that in the Summer, they offer beach volleyball,croquet, corn hole, and soccer. Plus, the golf courses are open!
My husband and son went in the indoor/outdoor heated pool and I couldn't believe they lasted an hour. They grabbed a pool noodle and my son learned how to kick and propel himself around the pool. There were some other flotation devices available, as well.
I wasn't feeling very well, so my husband took both boys out for lunch at Packer's. We are big fans of oysters and he was thrilled to discover they offered kumamotos and kushi oysters. He says they were delicious! He also enjoyed the lamb burger. My son had the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and french fries. They were a hit with him!
Nap time came along and my husband stayed in the room with our sleeping kiddos while I headed to the Spa for a Hydrating Sea Flora Facial. I was warmly greeted by staff and given slippers and a key to the women's locker room. Once I had changed into the Spa robe, I headed to their relaxation area. There was a cozy fireplace, lots of comfy seating, plus they offered lemon water and trail mix. It reminded me a lot of the Spa at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. I was fully relaxed by the time my esthetician came to collect me. She was very gentle and explained that SEAFLORA is a luxurious Organic Seaweed Skin and Body care line that is hand-harvested from the cold, clean Pacific Northwest coastline. I had never tried it before, but we've had a very cold, dry Northwest winter and my skin was not coping well.
The facial itself was immensely relaxing. I've had facials in the past at other spas and they always tell me exactly what they are putting on my face and why each time they put anything on me. I was surprised that after chatting for a bit, not explanation was given for what was happening. However, I was enjoying my child-free hour of spa heaven too much to really be bothered.
Afterward, I was told that I was welcome to use the steam room or sauna and take as long as I'd like in their relaxation area. I sipped on some lemon water and took some meditative breaths before opting to get dressed and check on my family.
The second night, we decided to check out the bon fire instead of the movie. I mean, how often can we go to a beach fire, especially in January? I wasn't feeling very well, so my husband popped our baby in our Tula carrier and took our 3-year-old out our back door to find the bon fire while I rested in the room. They told us they start the bon fires "at dusk" which really meant 8 p.m. Thankfully, there was enough interest that they started the fire around 7:30 p.m. When they got back, my son told me all about roasting marshmallows and how some folks put their marshmallows directly in the fire but he didn't want to do that. My husband chatted with the other guests at the bon fire and he had a great time! I heard a lot about s'mores the entire next day!
On our final morning, we opted to try out the in-room dining. The breakfast page was missing from our Hotel Directory but I was able to find it on their website really easily. I ordered the Eggs Benedict, my husband had the Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash and we ordered the Fresh Fruit, Yogurt and Granola kids breakfast for our son. The menu had mentioned that it could take up to 45 minutes for room service, however our food arrived about 15 minutes later. All of our food tasted great and it was really nice to take a leisurely morning. Our son likes to move around when he eats, so this was a great alternative to having him sit in the restaurant. The only thing missing was a spoon, but we managed just fine with a fork.
After breakfast, I took the kids out for a beach walk while my husband packed everything up. My oldest loved walking on the beach and throwing rocks into the water. He asked if it was okay for him to walk into the water since he was wearing his rain boots. He was elated when I told him it was okay and he cautiously got his boots wet. Then he threw a bunch of rocks one at a time into the water.
By the time we headed to our car, the rain started. It was a nice way to signal our trip was coming to a close. My husband and I were very thankful that we didn't need to deal with any ferries to get home. Plus, we had the option of hitting the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip (had our kids been awake.)
Top 10 Things for Families to Know about Semiahmoo Resort & Spa
I received complimentary room, spa service and select meals from Semiahmoo Resort & Spa for review purposes.
Earlier this month, I was contacted by Dr. Dana to see if I was interested in reviewing their Nail Renewal System. Up until this point, all my product reviews were items I specifically sought out to review. I like to keep my blog focused on travel-oriented items.
However, they contacted me right after I had broken 2 nails and chipped another while traveling around Vancouver, BC. It made me realize how brittle my nails were and how it was impacting my travel experience. My husband is too nice to say this, but I am straight-up snippy when I break my nails because they snag on just about everything and I get so worried I will scratch my kids.
So, Dr. Dana picked the right day to email me. I had never heard of this system before, but I'm always intrigued by nail-care options. According to their materials, "The Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System is a breakthrough, once-a-week, three-step system that restores dry, damaged nails back to a healthy, hydrated, high-shine state--instantly."
Step 1: Glycolic Prep for Nails
The first thing you're supposed to do is exfoliate your nails using glycolic acid. I twisted the pen (about 20 times) and then brushed the acid onto my nails. The pen was really easy to use and I was surprised how fast I was able to coat each nail.
Step 2: Perfect Grit Priming Wand
Then I primed the surface of my nails with the 3-way wand to remove damaged nail cells and allow for maximum absorption of the next step. I swept my nails about 5 times with each of the sides (this is the maximum times they recommend.) I could have easily filed my nails 20 time or more and I really had to slow down to make sure I didn't over file.
Step 3: Deep Hydrating Formula
Finally, brushed the gel-oli generously on my nails, cuticles and surrounding skin. The gel-oli contains their proprietary Phyto Crystal Complex, which is a bioactive natural nail strengthener derived from the sap of a French evergreen tree. It's yellow, which caught me off guard at first.
What I Thought About Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System
Day 1: It was super easy to coat my nails and they were very shiny.
Day 2: My nails feel a lot smoother and more hydrated.
Day 3: A couple of my nails chipped a bit.
Day 10: Applied Nail System again.
Day 14: Nails look healthier and have stopped chipping.
Day 21: Applied Nail System for 3rd time.
Overall, I really like the system! My nails definitely don't feel as dry and brittle now. The skin around my fingernails also looks better. The thing I like best is that it just takes a few minutes to do and I can continue to do things while the oil soaks in.
Dr. Dana provided the Nail Renewal System for review purposes.
My family became members at the KidsQuest Museum in Factoria more than a year ago because it was close to our house, my in-laws, and I could hit Target on the way to our car. When I heard they were moving to Downtown Bellevue, I was disappointed because that meant I couldn't just stop in while running errands. I was completely bummed. However, when I heard about all the cool new features, I figured we'd need to check it out.
Our favorite area of the old museum was the train table. I liked how the tracks were screwed to the table and the wall and there were plenty of trains for all the kids to play together. Our next favorite areas included the semi-truck and the water tables. We spent the majority of our time in those 3 areas.
Since we are members, we were invited to their members-only preview celebration. I brought my 3-year-old son and wore my 4-month-old baby in my Tula carrier. We arrived 20 minutes after they opened and the place was packed!
Let me start off by saying that the new museum is AMAZING! What's not amazing is the physical location. It's located on the North side of Downtown Bellevue next to Bellevue Library. They have about 20 parking spaces and some of those are reserved for donors. I received a map telling me all the places I could park near the museum, but when you're toting a baby and preschooler and have been advised not to bring a stroller, any distance is far. I ended up parking at Bellevue Library in the basement level of their garage because I couldn't find anything else.
When we entered, it was a bit confusing as to what was happening. No one gave me any directions as to where I could stash my diaper bag or where anything was located. It was a mad house. I ended up lugging my huge diaper bag around for about 15 minutes before I asked a staff member and she told me I could get a locker for $1. I was initially outraged that I'd have to pay to store something I could have easily put on my stroller (but didn't bring as a common courtesy) but I wasn't about to haul the bag everywhere we went. Later, I realized that there were a handful of cubbies underneath some bench seating but they were stuffed to the guilds by the time we arrived. They also had some coat hooks that were layered with coats.
The first area that we tried to explore was the On the Go Gallery. It was crammed with overflowing with kids and cardboard boxes and mail room carts, so we decided we might want to start upstairs and then head back down. This was a good move.
We ended up going straight to the train table and that's where we stayed for the first hour. I was itching to explore the other areas, but my son was more than content to stay put. Not only is is much larger than at the old space, but it has a gorgeous mural of Bellevue and Seattle in the background. And, the table features a Space Needle and Pike Place Market as part of the set. He would have stayed there the rest of the day if I hadn't encouraged him to check out the Bellevue Mercantile Co.
The Bellevue Mercantile Co. is a mini grocery store from back in the day. What I loved most about this exhibit was the signage around with info about Bellevue in the early 1900s. My son really enjoyed the ice cream cart, complete with cones and felt ice cream where he could make an array of ice cream cones for me to hold. When he ran out of ice cream cones, he started shopping for produce and waited in line to be rung up by a slightly older child who was working the cash register. She then informed an adult that she was the manager and sent another child to restock the shelves. It was a lot of fun to watch kids of all ages work together.
Another major feature of the Bellevue Mercantile is the large bean bin. Not only was this area usually swarmed with little kids who wanted to weigh the beans, but the kids ended up using the beans as a form of money for purchasing things at the store. There were beans all over the floor and I saw staff members constantly sweeping the floor. No one that I saw slipped because the beans basically crush when stepped on. This would be a great area for their kid-size broom!
I was especially impressed by Katarina, a staff member who took the time to play not only with my son but with a number of kids. She asked engaging questions as she roamed around and the kids seemed drawn to her. I also noticed helpful staff in the On The Go Gallery and Water Gallery. I didn't think the staff members interacted with the kids in the old location, so this was a pleasant surprise.
As soon as we left the Bellevue Mercantile, we headed straight back to the epic train table where he played for another 20 minutes or so. I finally pulled my son away from the train table and we headed back downstairs to find the Water Gallery area.
The Water Gallery is on the other side of the front desk and has tons of smocks for children. The area felt smaller to me, but I think it's because it was divided into separate areas. There was a quieter area tucked away that had a mirror, a squeegee and a spray bottle. Yes, it's an activity that teaches your kids how fun it is to clean windows. My son LOVED this area and did this for about 20 minutes.
It was nice to see an old favorite featuring PVC pipes and it was even better than my son could reach everything easily. What made this new was the bucket of water that dumped out once it was full. My son stopped to watch it several times. He only played here for a few minutes, but I think it's because it wasn't totally new. I'm sure he'll spend more time here when the newness of the other exhibits wears off.
When we finally made our way back down to the On The Go Gallery, things had calmed down a bit. There was an area for throwing paper airplanes (mainly used by adults who wanted something to do or a place to sit.) There was also a place set aside for matchbox cars. But, the main attractions were the new Semi Truck Cab (which has a CB radio, a horn and many fun buttons and knobs) and the package loading area. They have about 50 medium sized cardboard boxes for kids to cart around in mail carts, put through an x-ray scanner that shows the content, and then send up on a conveyor belt that drops the packages in 2 different locations. This area had the most energy as children quickly stacked packages on the conveyor belt and raced to pick up dropped packages. I felt like I was either in Santa's workshop or a secret kids division of the Amazon Distribution Center.
After the kids got tired of moving the boxes in this cycle, the kids decided that the boxes should be loaded in the Semi Truck. My son was on board with that and dutifully helped load nearly all the boxes into the truck, which made it crowded for the kids in the truck cab. I wasn't sure if that was something staff members had expected was going to happen, as I overheard someone commenting that of course kids would then load the packages on a truck for delivery. I then saw staff members unloading the boxes back to the mail room area, so I instructed my son that the truck was at it's destination and it was time to unload the boxes. He was only partly on board with that.
I ended up having to cart him away from the exhibit to grab my diaper bag and head out. We'd been there 4.5 hours and he still wasn't ready to go. We hadn't even seen the outdoor space, explored the Climber longer than 5 minutes, or the Art Gallery area, but we had to leave something for our next visit.
What's New at Kidsquest Museum
Since I was wearing my baby at the museum, one of the staff members came up to me to let me know about their nursing lounge in the Tot Orchard. She reassured me that I was free to nurse anywhere, but that they now have a dedicated lounge available. I checked it out and I was glad they had so many options for toddlers who want to stay near Mom if she's nursing. I liked that it was in the gated off toddler area so kids are also welcome to explore around in a safe environment. I ended up nursing my son in the Bellevue Mercantile simply because that's where my oldest was when my baby was hungry.
My Thoughts on the New KidsQuest Museum
I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!