Swell Mommy

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● Ideas to engage, educate & make memories w/ your Littles. ● Family Friendly Activities, Recipes & Trips.
by Gateway Guardian Writer & Blogger, Leah


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Preschooler Activity: Pick a treat, any treat. Every once and a while, for no reason other than how awesome of a kid he is, I let him pick a treat from a local bakery and more often than not, it is the classic chocolate chip cookie. There’s nothing like the joy on a kid’s face when the treat they are about to dig into is larger than their child minds could have imagined. #kidsandcookies #chocolatechipcookie #ocmixmart #makingmemorieswithmybabies #qualitytimewithkids
Toddler Activity: Nesting & Sorting & Garages & Cars. This gift from @lazynovice (thank you!) has served both boys so well. They stack them, line them up, color match the cars to the garages, read the numbers. ET plays with this at least once a week. #montessoriathome #montessorichild #melissaanddoug #mamahoodfl25 #emfl15
Lunar New Year Activity: Dance, Dragons and Lions, Oh My! Every culture has a traditional dance which is a great way to introduce children to culture, Chinese or otherwise. 
BB’s Chinese School teaches Dragon and Lion dancing as an elective. Lions and Dragons are considered auspicious animals that bring prosperity and chase away the evil spirits and the dances are a traditional part of the New Year’s experience.

If you don’t have a local dragon or lion dance performance to see, consider making this adorable dragon puppet from a printable of a dragon face, tissue paper adornments and a paper bag!
#lunarnewyear #lunarnewyear2018 #chinesenewyear2018 #chinesenewyear #dragondance #liondance #tet #tet2018 #instamomfollowloop5
Lunar New Year Activities: Learn the phrases “Gung Hei Fat Choi!” and “Chuc Mung Nam Moi!” In an effort to keep my kids connected to their Chinese Vietnamese roots and make this major holiday as important for us in the US as it would be if we lived in China or Vietnam (think week long Christmas level celebrations and customs) when I became a mom, I started partaking in all the cultural customs for this holiday for my kids. This is the first year BB understands what we’re doing and why. Hopefully the annual traditions will stay with him and ET helping to form their sense of cultural identity. Here’s what we do: -Clean the house to sweep out the bad luck.
-Shop for decorations, flowers, food, red envelopes and new clothes.
-Get haircuts.
-Decorate the house with door couplets and lanterns.
-Get brand new cash from the bank for the red envelopes.
-Prepare the altar for Buddha and ancestors with fruit, food, flowers and other offerings.
-Stay up late and set of firecrackers at midnight to scare away the bad spirits. Open all the doors and windows to let in the good luck. Light incense and perform offerings ceremony.
-Wear new clothes, eat vegetarian and be on our best behavior on New Year’s Day because it will set the tone for the rest of the year.
-Visit with friends and family. -Give red envelopes with new money to kids.
-Eat auspicious foods like spring rolls, dumplings, whole fish, and long noodles.
-Go to festivals with Lion and Dragon dancers and delicious food. -End the two week celebration with lanterns! #lunarnewyear2018 #chinesemoms #chinesekids #gungheifatchoi #chucmungnammoi #momvibesfl3
Valentine’s Day Activities: How do you celebrate this holiday with your kids? I am staying up finishing classroom Valentines after having finished making BB the school required Valentines collection bag. Each member of the family wrote out why they love each other member and Heart shaped meat loaves are on the menu for dinner. Grammie also dropped off a bag of goodies for the boys to open. This holiday seems to be getting bigger every year because I have mommy fomo.  #valentinesday #valentinesweek #valentinesforkids #mompreneurfl3
Toddler Activity: Juicing citrus! ET asked me for juice, which I don’t usually have in the house, but we did have sweet grapefruit. I showed them to ET and showed him how I could cut them in half and make juice come out. Delighted, he hopped up to the counter and happily tried himself. He learned to push down to make the citrus juicer spin, watched the juice drip into the pitcher and when done, he helped pour us each a glass. I cheered and thanked him for his work, and took a sip. Immediately disappointed, he spit it out and brought me a mandarin orange to juice instead. #kidsinthekitchen #juicingkids #toddlersinthekitchen
Family Activity: The Compassion Experience (in various cities across the United States.) I struggle with wanting my children to understand how much they have, and to connect them to their immigrant lineage since not that long ago, their grandparents were in a third world communist country living in oppression. How lucky are they for the sacrifices that were made so they could have a better life. How important it is to honor that gift with gratitude for life and compassion for those who were not so lucky.  Enter the Compassion Experience which sets up very realistic recreations of third world country conditions and tells the story of specific people from childhood to adulthood.  BB walked through the experience, listening to little Yannely guiding him through the rooms of her life through headphones plugged into an iPhone. Afterwards, he told me, “That story was so sad and I don’t know why.” We talked about the different aspects of her life that he was sad about, from her lack of food and toys to not having a father who loved her. Even weeks later, when he is being ungrateful for something, we talk about being grateful for what we have, like Yannely was for every single good thing she had, especially since she had so little. It has made such a lasting impression, we will be going back every year to see a different story. #thecompassionexperience #thecompassionproject #socalfamilies #raisegoodhumans #compassionateliving #mompreneurfl3
Toddler Activity: ET is such a huge fan of this toy, he squeals with joy when he finishes putting all the halves into ball form. It such a versatile toy that between the stacking, nesting, hiding of the rattle ball and ball making, he has clearly learned a sense of graduated sizes and names of colors. No wonder this Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups is a classic. Plus, at only $12 retail, it is a great deal. #stackingcups #classictoys #classictoysarethebest #fisherprice #braintoys #educationaltoys #kidsactivities #kidsactivitiesblog #toddlerfun #toddlerroom #toddlermommylife #cocmfl15 #febfollowloop9 #mombielifeloop
Family Friendly Trip: Tidepools in Laguna Beach! At select locations along the shore, the Laguna Ocean Foundation provides free docents on the safe weekends at low tide to guide visitors around the rocks and point out marine life. During our visit, we saw an octopus, anemones, and sea snails! BB came back talking all about his ocean friends. #lagunaoceanfoundation #lagunabeachtidepools #socaltidepools #toddlerlife #toddleractivities #toddleractivity #toddlerhood #toddlermom #earlyeducation #toddlerfun #toddlersofinstagram #montessori #preschooler #toddleractivityidea #montessoritoddler #toddlerschool #raisingtoddlers #toddlereducation #preschool #homeschool #montessorikids #emfl09
Kid Friendly Recipe! Two ingredient bagels! BB asked me the other day if we could make the bread that he could “push.” We threw together this 2 ingredient dough made of 1 cup self rising flour and 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, BB was able to knead it before we put it into donut forms, brush with egg wash, top with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning and put into the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. #2ingredientdough #kidscooking #foodforkids #vegetariankids #kidfriendlyrecipes #weightwatchersrecipe #m2mfl30
Lunar New Year Activity: Disney California Adventure’s Lunar New Year Celebration! This multicultural celebration of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean food and customs is a great way to expose kids to the upcoming holiday. Try food from the food booths or Paradise Pier Grill, watch performances from artists flown in from Asia, make some crafts and have your name written in Chinese calligraphy complementary at the artisan booths. #disneylandresort #chinesenewyear2018 #tet2018 #lunarnewyear2018 #disneylunarnewyear  #yearofthedog #disneycaliforniaadventure #disneycaliforniaadventurepark
Preschool Activity: Family Language Matching Cards! The pictures have the words on the back as well so BB can check to see if he is right. We started saying the words and him picking the picture then moved on to him saying the word when we showed the picture. When he is older, he can use them for writing. (Don't mind the The Shining picture of @hoshnasi, it was the only one I had in my phone.)
#chinesepreschool #chineseschool #learnmandarin #montessoripreschool #flashcards #learnchinese #tigermom