When Owen was a year old, I took him to a free trial Kindermusik class through The Musik Nest in Issaquah. I had been sampling other programs like The Little Gym and Gymboree and nothing seemed to really click with my son. I was assuming music class would be the same.
I was very impressed that the class was so much more than just music. There was a lot of singing, but also dancing, activities for hand-eye coordination, exploration, baby massage, and snuggle time. Owen was very engaged the whole time and really responded to the teacher. And the carpet had a lot of padding, making it one of the few places where it's actually comfortable to sit on the floor. After the trial class, we immediately signed up for the session.
Part of music class involves story time. Owen learned how to sit quietly on the blanket, listen to the story, and then help put the blanket away. The same story is read every week and it's been amazing to hear him saying the words along with his teacher, responding to her questions, and simply staying focused for a few minutes.
He's been going for a year and a half now and I definitely attribute some of his developmental growth to the class. He is able to pick up the lyrics to songs very quickly, he's confident, he has great communication skills, he follows directions and he's able to make decisions for himself. He's also very interested in counting and patterns and he has a strong memory.
What I've noticed fits right in with a recent study from the University of Washington about the effects of music on the brains of babies. The study found a strong correlation between experiencing rhythmic musical patterns and processing rhythmic patterns in speech. Being able to detect and predict patterns in speech helps babies learn to speak themselves.
It's also been great to carve out 50 minutes of uninterrupted time for us to bond. I'm not tempted to check my phone. We learn new songs and bounces together that we are able to do on our own at home. The Musik Nest is also located across from The Issaquah Coffee Company, where they have a train table, so we usually end up over there with other moms and toddlers before or after class.
My son Owen LOVES trains! Almost everyday, he asks me if we can "sit down in a train." I usually have to tell him no, but today I got to tell him YES!
The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad is located in Elbe, WA (about 15-20 minutes past Northwest Trek.) They recommend that passengers arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the train ride so that there is plenty of time to park, get tickets (and pay $4 for parking), and get in line for the train. We ended up getting there more than an hour early and we found plenty to do to pass the time. For starters, their gift shop is perfect for toddlers/preschoolers who love trains! Not only did they have a section of Thomas the Train books, but they had train conductor hats, small trains, big trains, sticker books and more.
We rode the first train run of the season. They had just brought the train up the night before and they had to let it run for 90 minutes in the morning to slowly warm the engine up. Owen was mesmerized watching the train conductors work on the train and the conductors waved and were very friendly toward all the kids.
We boarded the steam train 15 minutes before our ticketed time, which gave us a lot of opportunity to pick our seats, take lots of photos, and just absorb the fact that we were in a real train. Once we started moving, we rode through the forest and over the Nisqually river before stopping at the Museum in Mineral, which opened in 2012. Owen enjoyed waving at the people in the cars who were stopped for the train crossing.
Owen's highlight at the Museum was getting to climb aboard an engine and ring the bell. He would have stayed there the whole time, but it was a hot attraction for all the small kids. He also enjoyed simply walking around looking at all the big trains. We stopped inside some of the small houses where the exhibits were. Owen was fascinated by a model train where he could move the logs back and forth using a mechanism. We had to hold him, so it would have been more practical to have some sort of step stool available.
7 Things to Know about Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad:
After the train ride, we walked across the street to Scaleburgers. Our friends highly recommended this burger shack and I'm glad we checked it out. The burgers and fries tasted very fresh and they were pretty flavorful. They only accept cash and the seating is outdoors. They don't allow pets in the dining area. The prices were very reasonable and they had a lot of options for everyone. Since it was chilly when we went, there wasn't much of a line, however it was packed by the time we left. On a summer day, it might be quite a wait. But, it was a great way to end our train excursion!
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
The first time I went to Northwest Trek, I was visiting my cousins who lived down the street from there and I remember seeing big animals in the wild and it felt like I was somewhere in the mid-West.
Upon hearing glowing reviews of the new Kids' Trek at Northwest Trek, my family decided to make the trek to Eatonville (South of Puyallup) to discover it for ourselves. Kids' Trek lived up to the hype! The sand pit is one of the coolest features because they have a fountain in the middle so kids can wet the sand for their creations. A staff member told us that they clean it out everyday so it doesn't clog. There are also slides carved into the stones, bridges, and lots of play space. Owen was focused solely on the sand pit, but we saw a lot of preschoolers and older kids take advantage of all the features.
The Discovery Tram Tour was a lot slower and longer than I remembered as a kid. Owen loves trains and I had told him that the tram was like a train. Actually, I told him we were going to ride in M'tambo from Chuggington. He enjoyed the first 15 minutes or so of the tram ride, but after that he was a bit bored. Granted there were three of us crammed into two seats and it was a full tram. But, it was really cool to see the animals so close and in a more natural environment. And the tour guide was funny and very informative.
After the tram ride, we decided to walk around a bit to see even more animals on the Walking Tour. We were able to see black bears and grizzly bears before we turned back. We had opted not to bring a carrier or stroller, which limited how long we were willing to walk at a toddler-pace. Next time I think we will bring our BOB stroller so we can move quicker and enjoy the awesome scenery!
There is a Forest Cafe on premises. The food is actually not that bad and there is a decent selection of sandwiches, burgers, salads and kids meals. Next time we might bring sack lunches and drinks and eat at the picnic tables just for more variety. They also have snack stands with lots of yummy treats!
Adult admission is $21.95, toddlers ages 3-4 are $10.95 and kids 2 and under are free. Admission includes the tram ride. Pets are not allowed and please don't feed the animals. Parking is free, but the lots fill up quickly in the summer months and on weekends. For more information, visit www.nwtrek.org.
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
We really enjoy traveling with friends. After first discussing going on a whirlwind trip to New York City, we pared down to a road trip to Portland because there are a lot of fun things to do with toddlers. After much exploring online, we decided to book a suite through the Inn at Northrup Station. The photos online showed a very vibrant, boutique hotel and that's what we got when we arrived. We also like that we got free tickets for the nearby streetcar, which our transportation-obsessed toddlers loved! They also had quite an extensive breakfast set-up and we had a kitchen in our room.
We left the Seattle-area (Renton) right at Owen's nap time. This gave him a bit of time to look out the window, sing, and talk to us before he settled down and crashed. As he was winding down, my husband turned on the audiobook of Brooklyn which kept our interest, but helped soothe Owen into a deep sleep that lasted until we arrived in Portland.
The first meal we had was dinner at Apizza Scholls. Our friend from New York told us it's the closest thing he's found to New York pizza in the Pacific Northwest. It was absolutely delicious and the restaurant was very kid friendly. Our pizzas came out pretty quickly and they came by often to refill our water. They also take reservations, which is great for families! We will definitely be adding this place to our Portland food circuit.
Our friends arrived a few hours before us, so they grabbed donuts from Blue Star so we'd have them for dessert. They got one of everything, so we just cut them all in half. They were delicious and they still tasted great the next morning. I should know, I ate most of them for breakfast. The only strange one was Peanut Butter and Jelly, only because the jelly seemed to have hot peppers in it. My 2-year-old was not pleased.
We decided to let the toddlers dictate most of our activities for the weekend. We pared down our usual schedules to make sure the kids had lots of time to nap and take breaks. We had planned on going to the Oregon Zoo, but the weather report had said it was going to rain, so we opted to check out the Portland Children's Museum, located in the same area.
The Portland Children's Museum was different than I expected. For starters, it wasn't very colorful inside. I'm used to brightly colored walls and large artwork in children's museums. The Portland Children's Museum looks like a converted business, with stark walls and simple flooring. The vehicle room had a large table for trains (the tracks were loose, instead of screwed to the table), a ramp for cars and a simulated bus. It felt very bare and it was kind of confusing to find. But, the kids had fun playing with the cars and trains. They really enjoyed the grocery store area where they could put pretend food in baskets and check out at the cashier. Owen also really enjoyed the water table area and I was impressed that they and lots of tall hand dryers there to dry off wet kids. We didn't get a chance to explore the outside area. From the website, I thought it would be similar to the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, but it was completely different. The kids had fun, but at around $10/person, I'm not sure we got $30 worth of fun out of it. However, I did like the fact that you could bring your coffee into the museum.
After that, we headed to Shigezo. This Japanese restaurant was a good fit for our toddlers because they love noodles, edamame, and fried chicken. They offered half portions of their curry dishes, which would be the perfect size for children.
Then, the Dads stayed with the boys in the hotel for nap time while the Moms walked around Nob Hill to do some shopping. I ended up getting chocolates at Moonstruck and cake and macarons at Papa Haydn. We also stopped in Child's Play toy store, which had an excellent assortment of toys and activities for babies, toddlers, and children.
When the kids woke up, we checked out the monthly Portland Night Market in the Industrial District. They have an entrance just for 21+ and they had a lot of bars. Most of the shops are indoors, which was nice on that chilly, rainy night. We found a cool Portland shirt for Owen and a fun sign that read "Readers are Leaders" for his book nook in his play room. Outside, they had lots of food vendors. Owen devoured half a plate of yakisoba noodles, several dumplings, and lots of strawberry ice cream. I had some fried chicken steamed buns that were tasty. It was nice that we could get several things to share, especially when our toddler changes his mind about food frequently. The only downside was a lack of seating, so it was kind of tricky to feed Owen while eating ourselves and huddled under a tent to avoid the rain. But, it was a fun place for dinner! This would be a fun date night while packing a baby in a carrier.
Since we had promised the kids that we would ride a train, the next day my friend and I grabbed the boys and rode the Streetcar to Powell's books. The ride was definitely a highlight for the boys and they wanted to keep riding it. We will definitely use the streetcar next time we're in Portland, even just to ride around. Powell's has a nice selection of books celebrating different cultures. I found a couple of books about Chinese folk stories and plenty of books about construction vehicles. The boys were a bit antsy, so we made it a quick trip.
Next, we hit up the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This is a legit museum! It reminded me a lot of Science World up in Vancouver, B.C. We weren't sure how long the boys would last, so we decided to quickly look at a few of the exhibits and then head to their Science Playground children's play area. The play area was fantastic! They had a large, enclosed sand pit with lots of activities for kids. They also had a nice water table area, infant area, musical instruments, books, a discovery lab and more . Owen spent the majority of time in the sand pit and then moved onto the vehicles and blocks. It would be easy to spend the whole day here. I love that they not only had 2 bathrooms inside the Science Playground, but they also had a nursing room.
After a couple of hours at OMSI, the boys were starting to fade, so we grabbed a quick lunch and hit the road. Owen told us his highlights of the weekend were eating pizza, playing with his friend and riding the street car. We will definitely be back to Portland soon and plan on doing the Oregon Zoo when their train is up and running this sumer!
Follow us on Facebook to keep in touch
We had the fortune to get reservations for 3 character dining experiences. The food, service and experience varied greatly between them. Overall, I'm glad we did them but next trip we will schedule them a bit differently.
On our first night at Disneyland, we had a 5:30pm reservation for the Goofy's Kitchen character dinner at the Disneyland Hotel. As soon as we checked in, we were ushered to meet Goofy and take photos. I had meant to bring along our photo matte to get autographs on and completely forgot. But, not getting autographs let us really live in the moment. Owen was very excited to meet Chef Goofy, but as we got closer, he just wanted us to hold him while we talked with Goofy. But, by the end, Goofy gave him a high five and Owen couldn't stop talking about how he high-fived Goofy! We were really impressed with the quality of food at this buffet dinner. They had quite a selection for both adults and kids. And the dessert assortment was pretty amazing! Every half hour or so, the characters would parade through the restaurant and all the guests would wave their napkins. This also stood out to Owen and he wanted to dance along too! Throughout the meal we were greeted by Minnie Mouse (a favorite with the boys), Chip and Dale, and Pluto. Since this was the first time Owen and his friend were meeting the characters, they were pretty nervous. The cast members were true professionals and knew how close (or far away) they needed to be and still gave them a great character appearance! I'm glad we did this on our first night because it really warmed up the boys to the idea that we'd be seeing lots of their favorite characters over the next few days. We will definitely do this character dining experience again!
Surf's Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends
We did this Surf's Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends character breakfast on our first full day at the park. When we arrived for our 8am reservation, we had to wait about 10 minutes to be seated. We were then ushered in for a group photo with Surfer Mickey and we were seated right in front of Mickey. Since no one was lined up to meet Mickey, I quickly walked over to get an autograph on our photo matte and Mickey happily obliged. The buffet food was decent. We especially enjoyed the little Mickey waffles and the fruit. I liked that they had fruit smoothies available, but the cantaloupe one I had was not very tasty. The eggs were really watery. It was then a full hour before any characters came to our table, which was disappointing. At that point, we were all done eating and wanted to head to the park, but wanted Owen to at least see a few characters. We told our waitress who told us she had no power over character visits. However, a few minutes later, Minnie Mouse came by followed by Stitch. Stitch actually had 2 dance parties while we were there and Owen surprised us by rushing over to dance for a bit. It was a great way to handle antsy kids waiting for characters to come by. Next trip, I think we will skip formal breakfasts (character breakfasts or restaurant breakfasts) on park days and just hit up Starbucks so we can get to the park earlier. This would be a fun breakfast to do on an off-day or a travel day.
Ariel's Grotto Princess Lunch
Ariel's Grotto is located in Disney's California Adventure park. We arrived for our 11:20am reservation and had to wait about 20 minutes. We were then ushered down a spiral staircase to meet Ariel. They had us all on the right side of the staircase which made it a bit tricky with a toddler since he wanted to roam around a bit. After we met Ariel, we were seated downstairs right by the cast entrance. This was the only character meal we went to that wasn't a buffet. I ordered the crab chowder, which was really tasty! My salmon, however, tasted really off and farm-raised. But, I'm from Seattle and am used to really flavorful salmon. The princesses started coming out right after we were seated and we saw all of them before lunch was over. We got to see Princess Tiana, Belle, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. We thought our toddler would love the princesses, but he was not interested (we discovered later that he was getting sick). The dessert platter was really impressive and came with creme brûlée, s'mores and a chocolate strawberry. This was a really fun experience for the parents, but I'm not sure we'd do again with the boys unless they really wanted to go.
More Posts about Disneyland
More Disneyland Tips & Tricks with Toddlers
Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel Review
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
Since we travelled with an employee, we were able to get a great rate at the Paradise Pier Hotel on-property. They also seem to have good deals here if you are going in low season.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a man wearing silver Mickey gloves who showed us where to drop our bags. Inside the lobby, there's a big statue of Goofy and his surfboard and lots of Disney touches. There's also a decent sized gift shop filled with Disney products and typical hotel gift shop stuff. They also had a dark room with little chairs for kids to watch Disney movies and cartoons. We dropped our bags with Bell Services and they showed us the quickest way to get to Downtown Disney so we could explore until check-in time.
We were able to check in at 3pm. The front desk cast member was very friendly and gave us lots of information and materials about Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. He even gave us all "First Time" buttons and I got a special "Happy Birthday Baby #2" button! Then, we headed up to our rooms on the 10th floor overlooking Disney's California Adventure.
The room itself was the standard size of a hotel room and had two queen beds and a sofa twin bed. The sofa bed was perfect for a small child! The queen beds were really comfortable and they also felt clean. There were a few small Disney touches. The room felt clean and the view of the park was amazing! We got to see the World of Color show from the comfort of our hotel room and avoid all the crowds and the chilly air.
The walk from the Paradise Pier Hotel to Downtown Disney and the Parks was not very long, once we knew the way. You can also cut through the Grand Californian to get to Downtown Disney, but it seemed to be the same distance.
Because we were staying on-property, we were able to take full advantage of their Magic Mornings. These alternate between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure and are an amazing perk! We were able to do all of Cars Land before the park was open to the general public. There was also the opportunity to have gift shop purchases sent directly to our hotel. We didn't use this service because we shopped on our way out of the parks and just put our purchases in the stroller. But, had we shopped on the way into the park or during the day (or didn't have a stroller with us) we definitely would have appreciated not carrying our items!
The front desk staff is simply amazing! On our last night there, Owen had a temperature of 103 and started vomiting. We weren't sure what to do so we called the front desk and they were able to open up the Gift Shop in the dead of night so we could get more ibuprofen and a thermometer. They also put us in touch with a nurse who gave us great advice and they gave us a late check-out. It's service like that that really sets great hotels apart from good hotels!
We really enjoyed our stay at the Paradise Pier for the amazing customer service, the location, and because we were surrounded by Disney magic! We will keep them in mind for future trips!
More Posts about Disneyland
Disneyland Character Meal Review
Disneyland Tips and Tricks with a Toddler
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
We had an amazing opportunity to go on our first trip to Disneyland last week! We went with our friends (one of whom is an employee) so we were able to explore the parks for free and get amazing discounts. Next time we might not be as lucky and I kept that in mind while writing this blog post.
The awesome part about bringing a toddler to Disneyland is that they are free all the way until 3 years old. That means they enter the parks for free and also can eat for free. Disney has typical children's meals (pizza, nuggets, etc) but they also have several healthy options (grilled chicken, veggies, etc). And you can get milk almost anywhere you go (which made our 2-year-old very thrilled!)
Before our trip, many people told us to wait until Owen was at least 5 years old. I'm glad we didn't listen because we would have missed out on being able to take our time and do Disney at a toddler pace, complete with schedule down time, i.e. nap time. Our trip was surprisingly low stress and a lot of fun.
Tips for lowering stress with a Toddler at Disneyland:
Ok, now that you know some of my tips, let's get on to how to plan your day. Here's what our itinerary looked like:
More Posts about Disneyland
7 Ways to Prep a Toddler for Disneyland
Disneyland Character Meal Reviews
Disneyland's Paradise Pier Hotel Review
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
Once you are eligible, you will see a “Claim Now” button on the left side of your Amazon Baby Registry. Click the button to automatically add the Welcome Box to your cart. You will also receive an email to the address associated with your Amazon.com account in 1-2 days. This will include instructions on how to redeem the offer. Note that this is a limited time offer, good while supplies last. Only eligible customers, logged into their Amazon.com account, will be able to redeem the offer.
The cool thing about the Welcome Box is that it's essentially a grab bag! You don't know which products you will be getting, but it's supposed to be valued at $35. When my Welcome Box arrived about a week later, I was excited to check out what was inside. Here's what I found:
Travel-sized Babyganics Face, Hand & Baby Wipes
These are fantastic! I'm a big fan of Babyganics products and our family can never have enough wipes. I like that these are fragrance-free. These are a great size to stash in a purse when your kiddo has outgrown a diaper bag. This contains 10 wipes.
Babyganics Daily Lotion
We love Babyganics and I love how easily this tube will fit into my purse or diaper bag.
Newchapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin
This prenatal vitamin is made with organic vegetables and herbs. It does contain iron, which is not in all prenatal vitamins. It's recommended to take 3 times a day. This is a 5 day trial size.
Johnson's Baby Bubble Bath
I usually don't buy Johnson & Johnson products. We love our Burt's Bees bubble bath. But, I'm interested to test this out on my toddler and see what he thinks.
Phillips Avent Overnight Disposable Breast Pads
I didn't realize they had an overnight version. This comes with 2 pad.
Burt's Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum
As I said before, we love Burt's Bees products. And after dealing with toddler tantrums, my face welcomes any product that might reduce lines and wrinkles. This is a trial size.
Philips Avent Natural Bottle
This is a 4 oz bottle. It resembles our Tommee Tippee bottles. I'm always happy to have multiple bottle brands on hand in case baby is particular.
Mam Silicone Start Pacifier
My son is a binky baby and I'm assuming Baby #2 will also test out binkies. As with bottles, I'm always happy to have several brands on hand to try out.
KIND Caramel Almond & Sea Salt Bar
Moms can never have enough snacks!
Vroom App info
I was thrilled to find information about the Vroom app in this Welcome Box! I've used the app with my toddler and it offers great tips and tools that can be applied to everyday life. They offer good reminders about how to talk to your baby and activities you can be doing.
It also came with an info card about the Amazon app where you can scan any product and add it to your Amazon registry. I love that Amazon has a global registry because we were able to add all kinds of products from outside of Amazon so that it was all located in one registry.
Overall, I'm thrilled with my Amazon Welcome Box and I can't wait to test out some of these new products!
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch
My Mom lives on Kauai, so when Owen was 9 months old, we made our first visit over there. Owen had been a great traveler when we flew to Thailand just a few months prior, so I wasn't too worried. My husband had to work, so it was just Owen and me. He took two naps on the way over and smiled at the kids sitting behind us. I had the dream baby.
Owen LOVED Kauai! We stayed with my mom in her condo in Kapa`a. She had rented a Pack N Play and exersaucer from Kauai Baby Gear which was such a great move because it was there before we arrived! I loved not having to worry about finding stuff when I got there.
Here are some of our favorite things we did:
For those traveling to Kauai from the Seattle-area (like us) I highly recommend Alaska Airlines simply because it's a direct flight and you get a free mai tai for surviving the flight with your child! Oh, Owen turned into the nightmare baby on our flight back home. He screamed about 85% of the time and I was actually sore from trying to keep him from clobbering the poor man sitting next to us. Well, I guess you can't win them all!
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch!
We were invited to a family wedding in Tuscany last summer and we decided to do some travel before the wedding. This was our first time taking our toddler to Europe so we really thought about where we'd like to go and how cumbersome it might be. The kicker is that the destination wedding was black-tie and involved several events where we'd need nice clean clothes, so we had to bring more than usual.
After much contemplation, we opted to do a Greek Isles cruise on Royal Caribbean. I had never been on a cruise before (I assumed they were just for old people) and I had always said that I'd rather spend more time at the destination rather than getting there. I was completely mistaken!
Our cruise was the perfect fit for our 20 month old! For one thing, the service on board was absolutely outstanding! Maybe it's because our past experiences have made our standards so low that we feel like we have to apologize when we bring our son out and about, but I almost cried several times because we were treated so nicely! They actually begged us to bring our son to the dining room each night, where he had about 15 servers calling him nicknames and bringing him bread and special treats!
They also had a fantastic on-board babies and toddlers program. It was open in the mornings for parents to come play with their kids for free. They had movies running in the background and several large toys. This was nice to meet other parents of toddlers and to get Owen used to the space. In the afternoons, it became a drop-off zone for just $6/hour. In the evenings it was just $8/hour and they ordered Owen dinner. He loved it so much that he didn't want to leave when we picked him up! They gave us a pager in case there were any problems. They also gave us a bag of toys that we were able to borrow for the duration of the cruise.
The excursions were also the right fit for our family. First of all, toddlers are free (but we could have left him in the kids club.) The buses were air conditioned, which was a nice contrast to the August heat in Greece. We brought a backpack with snacks, lots of water, extra clothes, sunscreen, teething medications, and a camera. We also brought sun hats for everyone and our Boba carrier. The one downside to the excursions (besides the cost) is that most came with a tour guide and you had to wear little ear pieces that are very tempting for toddlers to yank out of your ear over and over again. We found that was less stress to take off the ear piece and just walk around the sites and read about them in our guide books. This gave Owen more of an opportunity to walk around and explore. While we could have done the excursions for cheaper on our own, the ease of just showing up and not worrying about missing the boat (literally) was worth the extra cost with a toddler. Now that we have a family cruise under our belt, we might opt for just one or two excursions in the future and do something more laid back the rest of the days.
We chatted with other parents of small children on board and one of them mentioned that kids have to be at least 6 years old to be in one of those flip-down beds. The parents ended up having to book adjoining cabins so their toddlers could be in regular beds. That was really good to know! It was a tight squeeze with the crib in our cabin and it would be impossible to cram 2 in there. Another parent said her daughter preferred to play in the kids club rather than do excursions, so they put her in the kids club and they'd go off the boat to explore the port. We saw a lot of parents and toddlers doing laps on the deck. We also saw parents struggling with their strollers on the cobblestones at the ports. Having been to Europe before, we knew it would be tricky and chose not to bring our stroller. We don't regret that decision. We brought a bunch of swim diapers with us only to find out that toddlers weren't welcome in any of the pools on board.
All in all, Royal Caribbean was a fantastic choice for our family! When the cruise ended, we were really sad to say goodbye to everyone (and to say goodbye for really good service!) We will definitely be cruising as a family again!
Like us on Facebook to keep in touch!
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!