Goodbye from the 2017 Blog Team!

Classes have finished for the summer and some of us—myself included—are saying goodbye to Little Wonders. We started at Little Wonders with the Baby Play class when my son Robbie was 10 months old. I had been looking for an activity we could do together that would be fulfilling for us both and as soon as we walked in to Little Wonders, I knew we had found the right spot.  I can still remember our Preview session when Robbie crawled right out of my arms and started playing on the floor, he knew right away as well that Little Wonders was the place for him. Mireille likewise knew we were in the right spot (as usual) and got us signed up right away. Connecting with her and all of the other amazing teachers has been such an amazing introduction into the world of childhood education from the parent side of things. We truly have the best teachers around! In the 2.5 years we've been a part of the Little Wonders community we have found such a welcoming and supportive community, where we've made so many friendships that I know will last as we move on to full-time preschool.

This year was my first on the Board, serving as Publicity Chair, and helping to transition Little Wonders to our fabulous new website and blog format. It was such a rewarding experience to be a part of the Board and to help guide our school and community, I highly recommend it! I would like to personally thank my blog team for providing such wonderful and creative articles throughout the year. And thank you all for reading! I look forward to seeing what Ika and the new team of writers do next year! 

Lisa Mumbach, Publicity Chair

Time flies when you are having fun; I can't believe the school year is already coming to a close!  If feels like it was not that long ago that we embarked on our Little Wonders Journey and looking back it is amazing to see the amount of mental and physical development that has happened in such a short span of time.  It has been a blessing to be part of such a supportive community to help navigate this season of toddlerhood.  From discussing nurturing ourselves, to taking risks and the challenges of potty training, I have learned so much from me fellow mama's as well as the patient and gracious teachers here at Little Wonders-- which I am so grateful for. We are aging out this year, and while we are sad to leave Little Wonders we look forward to having some fun over the summer session and staying connected through alumni events and future play-dates with all our little friends.  

Love & Gratitude, Crystal Adams

Hard to believe the school year is already drawing to a close until I look at photos of my Little Wonder on his first day of school and compare to his last! We’ve grown so much over the past several months, and have felt so supported and loved within the Little Wonders community. Thanks to all of the wonderful teachers, parents, and especially outgoing parents for your wisdom, advice, and shoulders to lean on. We’re looking forward to a sun and fun filled Summer session, and another year of building and learning come Fall!

Susan Schmidt

Wrapping up my first year at Little Wonders, I am amazed at how far we have come since September. When my daughter and I rolled in to our first Monday morning class, we were one frazzled mama and a cruising baby. I hardly knew what we had even signed up for -- I just knew that EVERYONE I talked to seemed to be in love with this "Little Wonders" place, so I should probably try it out. Looking around the classroom and discussion table those first couple of sessions, I quickly started to understand. Here I saw more parents and babies just trying to navigate the huge changes that come around that first birthday, each one grappling with the possibility of increased independence -- or not, depending on the day of the week. And grapple we did! Now this same class is full of toddlers who run, climb, talk, and even LISTEN...and a group of parents who just seem so much less stressed than we did at the beginning of the year. Personally, I am grateful for the shared joys and concerns at discussion ("thank goodness that isn't only happening in my house!!"), the connections with those other moms and dads, and the "aha!" moments for simple things like easy snack foods (CORN ON THE COB!). I can't wait to see what next year at Little Wonders brings! (Look for us in the Wednesday evening class!)

Elizabeth Euresti

14th Annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kid's Ride

Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Ride
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Downtown Burlingame, CA (at California and Lorton avenues)
Free Event
Race starts at 10:30am
Register online: www.ryansride.org

14th Annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Ride, Sunday, June 25, 2017

Come join the fun!  The 14th Annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Bike Ride, part of the 31st Annual Burlingame Criterium, is the largest kids’ bike ride in the US.  The event is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, 2017.  Each year, over 500 children twelve & under pedal to the finish with thunderous applause.  Feeling proud of their “win,” each child happily receives a medal, popsicle and goody bag.

Ryan’s Ride is a labor of love to memorialize Ryan, who died to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood in July 2003 at age 2 years old.  Ryan and his twin brother Matthew were born after their father battled and survived cancer.  

While the event is free, children participants raise pledges for the Ryan Phua Memorial Fund, established through the LIVESTRONG Foundation to fund cancer-related programs in the Bay Area.  Close to $750,000 has been raised so far.  There will be free entertainment for the whole family after the ride.  Top fundraisers receive gift certificates to a local toy store or a brand new bike.    

For more information: www.ryansride.org
Like us:  www.facebook.com/ryansride
twitter.com/ryansride
Donate: https://www.crowdrise.com/ryans-ride/fundraiser/ryansride

 

Disneyland Tips and Tricks

Planning a trip to the happiest place on earth can be a daunting task;  especially for first time visits. We took a trip this Spring when our Little Wonder was around 2.5; what motivated us to take this trip when he was this young is that kids before 3 are FREE!  Free park admission, and they often can eat free off parents plates in many dining packages—which saved a lot of money.

As a planner by nature and profession I did an extensive amount of research online and amongst my Disney obsessed friends before the trip and I am so glad I did.  It really helped prepare us for the trip and prioritize what was important, which lead to a pretty stress free happy time at the park.  Here are some of my top tips I learned from my experience that helped make our Disney Adventure a truly magical trip.

PLANNING THE TRIP—TIMING, TICKETS & HOTEL

No matter when you decide to go to the park, it will be busy so you need to have a solid strategy around timing for your visit.  Weekdays are always better than weekends, with Mon-Wed being the least crowded days.  In regards to time of year, prior to spring break and before the holidays are lowest peak seasons.  Looking to the rest of 2017, here are some of the non-peak times to consider:

  • Weekdays in May

  • Mondays through Thursdays the last two weeks of August

  • The first half of September (except the days of Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend through Labor Day, Aug 31-Sept. 4, 2017); Mondays through Thursdays for the remainder of September and October

  • Mondays through Thursdays in November (minus the weekend of Avengers Super Hero Half-Marathon Nov. 10-13, 2017, and the week of Thanksgiving)

  • Mondays through Thursdays during the first half of December

Undercover tourists has a great compilation of best/worst times to visit the park as well as a crowd calendar.  

As for your length of time at the park, that really depends on your objectives for the visit and if you want to do both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Knowing that we would have to take a lot of breaks and leave early, we wanted to maximize our time and options and opted for the Three Day Park Hopper Ticket.  This allowed us to go to both parks, and gave us just enough time to get to our must-see’s on the trip. Whatever option you decide buy your tickets online before you go and research prices; we found the best price options on Getaway Today which was a highly recommended site from several Disney pro friends.

If it is within your budget to stay in one of the 3 hotels on the Disney Property—Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian—DO IT!  We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and it really did make the trip that much more magical, and made life a lot easier when taking breaks. Plus the pools are fantastic, and so necessary if you go during the summer.

Paradise Pier is the more budget friendly option, where the Grand Californian is the newest/most expensive but also closest to the park and includes a private entrance into California Adventure.  We stayed at the Disneyland hotel and loved it.  Upon check-in we got our first character encounter in the Lobby meeting Goofy, and our little guy was obsessed with Castle headboard in the rooms that had lights and plays "When You Wish Upon a Star."  The Disneyland Hotel is also very roomy, we fit three adults one toddler with tons of room to spare!  Beyond the close proximity to the park, staying at the Disney properties gives you other perks like priority dining reservations, 1 hour early entrance to the park with magic mornings and extra magic hours.
 

Disney also has affiliation with over 40 Good Neighbor hotels, where depending on your length of stay can give you access to perks such as magic mornings.  My biggest piece of advice for staying at a Good Neighbor hotel is to factor in the extra time (30-45 mins) it takes to get to/from park (either walking or parking/tram ride to park) into your schedule.  For us, since we are not frequent Disneyland visitors it was worth the splurge to stay on a park property to have the whole magical experience and save time/have added proximity convenience.  

CHARACTER / EVENT DINING and PLANNING YOUR DAYS AT THE PARK

 

Once you have your timing and accommodations booked the next thing to tackle is planning your days and securing dining reservations.

The #1 tip I can give to having a truly magical Disney experience is do the character dining or any meal/show bundle you can.  Not only is it super fun, but it saves you so much time in the park as you get quality time with the characters for pictures and autographs and it really just immerses you in the Disney experience.  Many of the character dining experiences are at the resort hotels, but you do not have to be a hotel guest to make a reservation.  Reservations can be made 60 days in advance and go fast, so make sure to book in advance.  My top character dining reco’s would be the Surf’s Up Breakfast at Paradise Pier (only character dining guaranteed to have Mickey) and dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen.  The topic of character dining can be a whole blog post of its own—Disneyland Park Daily has a great guide to all the character dining options, highly recommend checking out as you make your reservations.

Disney also offers several meal/event bundles for popular attractions like the World of Color, Frozen the Musical and the Electrical Parade.  While some can be quite pricey they are wonderful options of getting a nice meal and saving time waiting in lines for attractions.  For example, we did the Frozen lunch bundle, which gave us priority seating in first ten rows and no line—which saved us about 2 hours (avg. wait time for Frozen show).  Prioritize what show attractions are important to you, investigate your options and make your reservations early if interested.  Disneyland Daily has a fantastic review of all the various Event/Dining Bundles, highly recommend reading before making your reservations.

Once you have dining reservations made,  it is a good idea to make some general daily plans of how to structure your day.  Even with a 3 day park hopper, it is impossible to see everything in both parks.  Long lines, tired toddlers, and general exhaustion prevent this from happening so it is really helpful to prioritize you must-do attractions and things you would like to see but would be okay missing if you don’t get to it.  To get started you can review interactive park maps online, and you can even preview most rides by searching for videos of them on YouTube.  Some other park tips to factor in to your visit:

  • Download the Disneyland Park App, it is amazing and gives you estimates on ride wait times, location of characters, and you can manage all your reservations through the app.

  • Visit  Magic Kingdom Mamas, and follow them on Instagram.  These moms are adorable season pass holders that are at Disneyland 3x+ per week and offer the best advice for navigating the park with little ones, and have extensive reviews on every ride/attraction.

  • Bring a stroller and your best walking shoes, you will need it as the walking is intense (average 12 miles a day on my fitness tracker) and it is helpful for impromptu naps, shade for your little one, and a general carrier of all your stuff.

  • Pack water and snacks to bring to the park.  Disneyland food is delicious (and extremely allergy friendly, they accommodate every allergy) but expensive.  Disney has no restrictions on bringing in your own food so pack as much as you can, with the amount of walking and time at the park you will need it!  

  • On main street there is an infant center where you can buy/change diapers, heat up food, have a private place to nurse, etc.  All bathrooms are extremely friendly for baby changes but it is nice they have this center if you want a little more privacy.

Lastly, when planning out your day you need to factor in your must see attractions and rides.  Lines can be long and sometimes you can only get 1-3 rides done in a 3 hour period; so having a strategy of knowing what you want to see is very helpful.  Disneyland Daily offers the best overview of Fast Pass (reserved ride time, no line), Ride Swap, and Single Rider Lines; which was the most helpful resource for me when planning our strategy.  The only ride for Toddlers the Fast Pass helps with is Toy Story, the other ones they are too small for but can be useful if you plan to ride some adult rides without your little one.  We were lucky that our little one was obsessed with the rides and had no fear, he really liked them all.  Here are my top picks for rides and attractions based on our experience with our 2.5 year old.

Disneyland (Lands in order of favorite areas for my toddler)

  1. Toontown—Everything here is perfect for toddlers, lots of play grounds to explore and they can visit Mickey and Minnie in their houses.  Best time to see them is getting to Toontown right when it opens (1 hour later than rest of the park) and going to their houses first.

  2. Fantasyland—Casey JR Train, Storybook Canal boats, Small World, Teacups, Dumbo

  3. Tomorrowland—Astro Orbitor, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo, Autopia (driving cars)

  4. Critter Country—Winnie the Pooh

  5. Adventure land—Jungle Cruise

  6. Frontier land—Fun to walk around but not much for Toddlers to do.

  7. New Orleans Square—Pirates was closed when we were there, I am not sure if it would be toddler appropriate.

California Adventure (Lands in order of favorite areas for my toddler)

  1. Cars Land—Most popular area, so good to go to first or during magic hour. Toddlers are not tall enough for the Radiator Spring Racers ride, but can go on Mater's Junkyard (basically teacups in a truck) which my son loved.  

  2. Hollywood Land—See the Disney JR show, it is 30 mins and is an interactive live action show with characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sofia the First, and Doc Mc Stuffins.  Lots of fun!  This is where the Frozen show is as well as lots of characters, including Marvel superheroes.

  3. Bugsland—Pretty much every ride here is toddler appropriate and this is one of the most fun areas in both parks for Toddlers.  My son absolutely loved it.

  4. Paradise Pier—Toy story, Mickey’s Ferris Wheel, Little Mermaid.  This is also where you will find Buzz and Woody from Toy Story.

For our trip we decided to spend two days at Disneyland and one day at CA adventure, which was perfect.  We got to see all our must see attractions and shows, and left completely happy and exhausted.  While planning the trip was a lot of work, I can honestly say it was the trip of a lifetime.  Seeing our guy light up and have so much fun created memories for a lifetime that we will cherish forever.  I hope you find these tips helpful, and good luck planning your family adventure!

-- Crystal Adams (Friday PM class)

 

 

 

Summer Activities for you and your Little Wonder

Summer is fast approaching! Do you know how you and your Little Wonder will be spending your days? Here is my current list of toddler-approved activities:

Little Wonders Summer Session
Summer classes start June 12! Standard classes (AM, PM & Wed evening classes) meet seven times between June and August.  Class format includes:

  • Informal circle time including singing, movement, and stories
  • Free play time for the children at all stations with half the parents watching the designated station areas each week
  • Snack / meal time for the whole class
  • Facilitated discussion time for half the parents every other week

The Baby Play Class also meets seven times during the Summer. Baby Play Class format includes playtime and informal discussion with parents and children together.

Visit https://www.littlewonders.org/class-schedule-summer-2017 for more details and to register today!

Summer Reading
Tired of your own children’s book collection? Check out someone else’s while simultaneously enjoying some social time AND air conditioning!

  • Toddler storytime at your local library - visit https://smcl.bibliocommons.com/events/ to find up-to-date schedules
  • Storytimes at your local bookstore - Barnes & Noble at Hillsdale in San Mateo has children’s storytime every Saturday at 11am! Too far from home? Ask your local bookstore if they have a similar program!

Swim Classes ($)
Maybe you swim year-round, or maybe you swim nearly never. Regardless, your toddler may be interested in dipping his or her toe into the water sooner rather than later! There are parent-and-me classes available throughout the Peninsula at a variety of price points. Check out your local Parks & Recreation listings within the next month or so, or start the sign-up process at one of the private swim academies ASAP (spots fill up fast).

Outdoor Play Spaces (Free!)
Grab your sunscreen, water bottle, and hat! Your toddler is probably already letting you know that outside in the beautiful sunshine is the place to be, so why not go for it? If you do not already have a favorite local park, here are a few that we like to frequent:

Indoor Play Spaces ($)
Sometimes it just gets too hot to play outside during the summer months, even when the drive to play is still strong. Luckily, there are a number of drop-in indoor play spaces on the Peninsula as well! Here is a quick reference for when you just can’t fathom sitting outside in the summer heat:

Outings/Day Trips
Let’s be real—sometimes you need a major change of scenery. When a huge trip to Japan is just not on the table, a day trip to somewhere fantastic and different can be a great alternative. Here are some fun places for parents and kids within a (relatively) short drive from Little Wonders:

Peninsula

San Francisco & North Bay

South Bay

East Bay 

Santa Cruz & Beyond (possible overnight trips)

Farmers’ Markets
We are fortunate to live in the Bay Area where produce is often fresh, local, and even organic—not to mention widely available. While many of our local farmers’ markets are open year round, summertime markets boast additional vendors—not to mention local strawberries, nectarines, tomatoes … (pardon me, I’m drooling now.) So take advantage of the beautiful summer weather to expose your little wonder to the natural wonder of this produce! You can sample fruits, vegetables, and local products together —if all goes well, you might discover some new favorite flavors. Take an ice chest and a blanket so that you can prolong the outing to include a picnic lunch or dinner! Here is a quick overview of some of the farmers’ markets on the Peninsula:

Millbrae

Millbrae Farmers’ Market
Saturday 8am to 1pm
Year-round
Millbrae City Parking Lot in the 200 block of Broadway between La Cruz and Victoria Avenue.  

Burlingame

Fresh Market, Burlingame
Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (year-round) and  
Thursday 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (May through mid-September)
Park Road at Burlingame Avenue, Burlingame, CA 94010

San Mateo

25th Ave Farmer’s Market
Tuesdays 4:00pm to 7:30pm
May 2 - October 10, 2017
194 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA

San Mateo Farmer’s Market
Saturday 9:00am to 1:00pm
Year-round
1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA

San Mateo Bay Center Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Year-round
951 Mariners Island Blvd., San Mateo, CA
(Across from the Bridgepointe Shopping Center)

Foster City

Foster City PJCC Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 9am to 1pm
Peninsula Jewish Community Center
800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA
(Inside of the building)

Foster City Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 2:30pm to 6:30pm
Saturdays 9am to 1pm
Year-round
Charter Square Shopping Center
791 Beach Park Boulevard, Foster City, CA

Belmont

Belmont Farmer’s Market
Sundays 9:00am to 1:00pm
Year-round
1299 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA

San Carlos

San Carlos Downtown Farmers’ Market
Sundays 10am to 2pm
700 block of Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA
(Shops are also open; live music often plays)

Redwood City

Redwood City Kiwanis Farmers’ Market
Saturday 8am to 12pm
 April 15 - November 2017
500 Arguello St
Redwood City, California

Kaiser Redwood City Farmer’s Market
Wednesday 10:00am to 2:00pm
Apr 5 - Nov 22, 2017
1150 Maple St, Redwood City, CA

May your summer with a toddler be educational, entertaining, and ever so WONDERFUL!

-- Elizabeth Euresti, Monday AM 2016-17

 

St. Patrick's Day crafts and local activities

St. Patrick’s day is this week and we have rounded up a few fun baby/toddler crafts as well as links to some local Penninsula events to celebrate the holiday!

Scrap Paper Rainbow-  Gather some local scraps and practice color sorting/glueing skills with this fun craft.

 

Lepruchan Handprints- Have some fun with paint and capturing your little wonders tiny handprint.

 

Clover Leis-  This craft is mess free, and bonus helps little ones practice fine motor skills with stringing the lei.  If you don’t have straws on hand, pasta tubes would be a great substitute.

 

Check out Bay Area Parent for a round-up on detailed activities around the whole bay area, a few key events right here in the Penninsula to highlight.

Shamrock Shindig at Hillsdale Mall-  Thursday March 16, 4pm.  Event includes Irish dancers, custom contest, and crafts.

Hiller Aviation Museum- Lepruchan Skydive Saturday March 18, 10am-1pm (leprechaun skydive at approximatley 11am). 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing your kids (and yourselves) for Daylight Savings

If you're like me, as a childless person you didn't think much about Daylight Savings (except perhaps to enjoy that extra hour of sleep in the Fall!), but as a parent it becomes a whole other ballgame. Kids don't care about the time on the clock changing, which can throw everyone's sleep off for days. Some of you may have been preparing for the change all week, gradually adjusting your little one's sleep schedule for a seamless transition—way to go planners! I tried that the first year and it backfired in spectacular fashion, so now we just kind of roll with the time change in our house and hope it works itself out (with varying degrees of success). If you haven't been planning ahead, here are some tips/game plans to help your little one adjust to Springing Forward tonight.

  • Pretend it didn't happen. Just change your clocks as you normally would but keep everything else the same—naps, bedtimes, meals, etc. happen at their "usual" time according to the new clock setting. Your kiddo might seem a little out of it or grumpy at first, but the more you stick to your routine, the faster they will adjust.
  • Control the light. If you don't already have blackout shades, I highly recommend them. We've had them since our little one moved into his own room and they are a lifesaver. I always had trouble going to sleep when it was light out as a kid myself, so I totally understand the impulse to fight back, and a dark and quiet room is a parent's best friend. Try bringing your kiddo into the bedroom earlier to adjust to the darkness and let his/her body trick itself into thinking it's night time.
  • Plan ahead. If you're reading this now, it's a little late to do this, but you can gradually change your child's sleep schedule by putting him/her to bed earlier in 10-15 minute increments each day.  If you haven't planned ahead, you could start this now, and take a few days to get to Daylight Savings. 

The most important thing is to be patient. Kids don't know how to tell time and have no idea what this whole Daylight Savings thing is anyway. It'll take a few days for everyone to adjust and get back on track, so cut yourselves some slack and hope for the best. And don't forget to set your clocks tonight! (Or just let your technology do it for you!)

Traveling with your Little Wonders

Ski week is upon us, and Spring break will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to consider taking a trip with your toddler! This is a road fraught with both stress and fun— much like the rest of parenthood. Here are some snippets of advice as you prepare to adventure with your Little Wonder.

What to Bring
Gone are the days of traveling light, my friend. Luckily, by this point, this should come as no surprise! Here are a few things that might not come to mind right away, but that experience shows should NOT be left at home:

1.Plans for a sick toddler
There’s nothing worse than your sweet-pea getting sick while you are on a trip—believe me, I know. Unfortunately, it happens. Luckily, you can plan ahead to mitigate the awfulness! Take a few of the basics with you: your insurance card, your pediatrician’s contact information, a thermometer, infants’ or children’s Tylenol, saline nose drops or wipes, a pack of tissues. If you have room and know that you are going somewhere with dry air, you might also consider taking a portable humidifier. If you are going somewhere new, consider looking up local pediatricians ahead of time in the event that you need to see a doctor in person. It is much less stressful to research pediatricians and urgent care options when your baby isn’t suffering from a seal-like cough at 2am in Mexico City … for example ...

2. Food for the “road”
You know your toddler is going to want a “nana” and yogurt just when there are no bananas or yogurts in sight, right? And that you’re going to hit traffic, or flight delays, or SOMETHING that keeps you in travel mode for an hour or two longer than you anticipated, right? And that you and your SO are also going to get hangry at some point while traveling with a toddler, right? Good, now that we’ve clarified that, PACK LOTS OF SNACKS FOR EVERYONE for travel day. My secret weapon is small cans of tuna with crackers -- protein and carbs, plus their shelf life is looooong if they don’t get eaten on this trip.

3. Diversions
Take more than you think you need. Make a list of what and where they all are so that when you hit hour five of close confinement, your brain doesn’t just implode with the next round of toddler squeals. (I say this as a pretty darn patient mom.) Some inexpensive suggestions include:

  • Sticky notes (less sticky than stickers, still lots of fun!)

  • Large pom-poms (big enough not to be choking hazards, fun to sort)

  • Window clings (sticky, but non-staining things that are fun on windows)

Teacher Mireille also recommends wrapping all of your diversions in wrapping paper—the extra step makes each item more fun (and more time consuming to open!).         

4. Back-up toddler transportation
Sure, those little feet want to go, go, go, but you need something for when they don’t want to go, go, go where you do! An umbrella stroller doesn’t take up too much room, nor does a baby carrier (e.g. Ergo, Beco, Tula …).

What NOT to bring
1.ALL of the diapers/wipes you will need
Unless you’re going camping or will be somewhere rural where they don’t sell diapers for some reason. I use cloth diapers at home, but have had no trouble buying disposables when traveling. I buy enough diapers and wipes for travel day and maybe a few days after, then figure I’ll be going to a grocery or drugstore for something once we’re settled in at our destination anyway. The fewer things to lug around on travel day, the better!

2. ALL of the snacks
Will there be food at your destination? If the answer is no, I struggle to understand why you are going there … unless you’re camping, in which case that makes sense and more power to you for camping with a toddler! Unless you are going out into the wilderness, or unless you have a food allergy to take into account, you can and should find food to try at your destination. There are children everywhere, and they all need to eat. You can buy and try the local crackers, yogurt, milk, fruits, veggies, etc. that are consumed by the toddlers at your destination, and that way you don’t need to fill up your suitcases with your own food from home. (More room for clothes, toys, and souvenirs!)

Flying
1.Buy a seat for your toddler
If you are not completely put off by the idea of paying full price for your toddler to have his or her own seat, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Of course there isn’t a choice once your kiddo hits age two—I’m talking lap-eligible kidlets.) Yes, your toddler will likely end up in your lap or in the aisle or somewhere else weird at different points in the flight. But take-off, landing, nap time, and turbulence? The safest place for your mini-me is strapped into a seat using an FAA-approved car seat or FAA-approved Child Harness Device (CARES). For more information on FAA-approved restraints, see https://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/ 

2. Check bags
The last thing you need is something else to lug around while you are trying to chase down your toddler in an airport. Take what you need for one day and one night in your carry-on, and check the rest. If the airline loses your bag, you can make due with slightly stinky clothes until they find it or you buy replacements. Just make sure your toddler’s favorite toy isn’t in the checked bag … just in case.

3. Board early … or not
There are definitely two camps on this one. On the one hand, boarding early allows you and your toddler to get yourselves and all of your gear settled in without the hassle of every other member of humanity trying to shove things in bins and under seats. You can strap in your FAA-approved carseat, take your little one for a diaper change or potty break, and engage entertainment round one before the aisles are full. If you are travelling alone with your toddler (i.e. one adult, one toddler), family pre-boarding is practically a must. However, if you are traveling with a second adult, you might consider skipping the pre-boarding … partially. Send one adult ahead with as much gear as possible. Have Adult A set up the carseat, load up the rollerboard into the overhead bin, and start making snacks accessible. Adult B continues to run toddler around the gate area as long as possible. Toddler then needs less running around once on the plane and is more content to sit and be entertained in other ways. (Of course, if you get anxious about being late or planes leaving without you … this probably isn’t the plan for you.)   

Hopefully this has been a useful (or at least entertaining) read as you prepare for your trip. We would love to hear your travel stories and other helpful tips when you return from your own toddler adventure! Bon voyage!

 

 

Rainy day activities for you and your Little Wonder

Happy New Year everyone!

We're in for some wet weather in the Bay Area this week, and when the weather outside is frightful, sitting cooped up in the house all day with an active toddler can turn into an extreme exercise of patience for both of you, especially after a few rainy days in a row. Keep the winter blues away with a few new rainy activities this winter.

 

Winter art activities

Potato Stamp Snowmen – Cut potatoes make great paint “stamps” for little hands.

What you need: White or gray paint, colored construction paper, potato, small plate, crayons/markers Directions: Cut potatoes in half, pour a small amount of white paint onto a plate. Have your toddler place the cut side of the potatoes into the paint and then “stamp” circles onto their paper to create a snowman shape. Use crayons or markers to draw a top hat, scarf, and scenery.

Sparkle scenes – Nothing is more fun than dumping, shaking, and brushing, until your toddler shakes all the excess off to reveal the sparkling picture underneath!

What you need: Glitter, glue stick or white glue/paint brush, paper, crayons/markers Directions: Using crayons or markers draw outlines of bells, trees, snowmen, or other fun and simple shapes. Let your toddler use a glue stick, or a paint brush dipped in glue, to “color in” the outline and then shake glitter all over the glue. The more the better! Lift the paper to shake off the excess into a collection plate or bowl, repeat.

Baking together

Choose simple recipes that allow lots of dumping, mixing, and topping for your toddler. Make sure you keep a small bowl for “tastes!”

You can measure, then hand the cup over to your baker to dump into the bowl. Explain what you’re doing, and take the opportunity to talk about kitchen safety as well. Before your treats go into the oven - have your toddler sprinkle with a topping like mini-chocolate chips, sprinkles, oatmeal, or cinnamon sugar.

Build an obstacle course

Set up pillows, blankets, couch cushions, and those empty Amazon boxes to create an indoor obstacle course. Have your toddler run around obstacles, climb over them, and even jump into soft piles of pillows and blankets. Great way to get some energy out on days where the kids are cooped up inside.

Dance party

Put on some tunes, dress up in some silly clothes, pull out musical instruments or make your own from spoons and bowls. While away the minutes dancing like there’s nobody watching and encourage your little one to wiggle the rainy day blues away.

Build a reading nest

Throw a bunch of blankets and pillows onto the couch or floor and create a big, cozy “nest.” Have your child choose some books and snuggle up in your special nest to read. If your child enjoys looking through books on their own, bring your book along and model a lifetime love of reading while next to your child as they look through theirs.

Get out the galoshes

The rain doesn’t have to mean you stay inside all day! Take advantage of the fun environment outside. Bundle everyone up and go on a nature walk around your yard, your neighborhood, or your local park.  Let your little one enjoy some fun stomping in puddles and exploring the wonders of a rainy day, explain the rain, talk about clouds, look at the wet leaves of plants, catch raindrops on your tongue. Rain can be magical for little ones.

Rainy Day Outings

When it’s been raining for days on end, even the most amusing indoor activities start to feel a little stale. Take advantage of our great local resources while staying dry.

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point

San Mateo Library Storytimes

Burlingame Library Storytimes and Activities

 

Slowing down to enjoy and create traditions

Family traditions grow out of fun activities that are repeated and enjoyed over time. They can be anything from daily, to monthly, to annual traditions. When we think of traditions, most of us may immediately think of “holiday” traditions, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to traditions just at the holidays. Young children learn and thrive from repetition which is part of the reason they love traditions and rituals. How many times have you read the same book over and over? Or, does your child want to say goodnight to all his/her animal friends every night in the same way? We might tire of the repetition, but young children need the routine and ritual to feel safe and secure.  Ritual also helps children understand their role in the family and gives them guidance as to what is expected. Ritual creates a special bond between us that helps strengthen our relationships. A great example of that is a ritual shared by one of our Little Wonders teachers and her daughter… every night her daughter waits to hear all the ways that mom loves her, which culminate with what mom loves best … her hugs and kisses.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that mealtime with young children can often be challengingIn our family, we enticed our children to come happily to the table by having them each take turns bringing a “centerpiece” to the table. This wasn’t a centerpiece like adults think of, but rather anything they wanted to share a meal with … sometimes it was a truck or train, but most often it was the favorite stuffed animal of the day! For several years they enjoyed having their favorite friend preside over our meal. Granted this is not a tradition that went too far, but it was useful for its time. It’s been replaced by my husband’s tradition to have a candle lit, in memory of those who are no longer with us, any time we sit down to the kitchen table. 

My point is that rituals and traditions are important for many reasons.  Some may work for a while, others may pass through generations. Some come from the families we grew up in, some from religious backgrounds or practices and some we’ve made up because of particular likes and dislikes or because of a need.  Some we may hear from someone else and try! 

I’d like to share a few of my favorite holiday traditions. They helped to strengthen our family bonds and create our family identity. Maybe you will choose to try one or two!

Our family’s favorite holiday tradition revolves another one of my passions … books! I started out getting a holiday book every year and reading it the children on Christmas Eve. I would always write something inside the cover and mark the year. After a few years I realized that we had a good number of holiday books and decided to put them away during the better part of the year and bring them out again at the holidays. The children were so excited and had a renewed interest in their books when the box came out as the holidays approached, that I decided this would become a holiday tradition. We would sit around the living room with the fire going and take turns reading the books throughout the holiday season. It became a very special family time and time to reflect on the many wonderful messages in the books! The books got packed up with all the holiday decorations and we’d all look forward to the following year’s book. This went on until our children were 21 and 18 and at that point we decided to take this tradition in another direction. Since then we have taken our favorite holiday books to local shelters or schools around the holidays and had fun reading them to other children. It’s been really fun watching our grown children delight in sharing their favorite books.

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those great photo cards you get for the holidays?  Because I’m such a photo lover, I decided to cut out the photos and put them all in a holiday photo book that I added to every year. Like the holiday books, this was put away with the holiday decorations and then taken out each year and left on the coffee table. Our children still enjoy looking back through years of photos of family and friends.  Seeing photos of their friends from years ago often brings up many warm and special memories we relive with fondness.

Lastly, because we wanted to encourage the spirit of giving we baked cookies and breads for all our neighbors every year. When the children were little we’d deliver them with the kids in our red wagon on Christmas morning. The elderly in our neighborhood delighted in seeing the children and were always happy with the goodies. The children felt good about sharing and making others happy. This tradition also morphed after our children grew up and left home. I found that baking without my kids was not as fun so decided to make a change. For the past few years we have been hosting a neighborhood holiday party, which turns out to be more work but also more fun for everyone and it really encourages a sense of community. It has become something many neighbors look forward to and also share with the new residents that move in. The community we have built in our little neighborhood is amazing!

Hopefully you’ll be able to use one or two of these with your families to make the holidays more meaningful, no matter what your beliefs. Get creative and adapt or combine any of these to suit your family. Most of all enjoy the time with your children and create many happy memories. 

Happy tradition creating! Please feel free to share your favorite traditions so our community can get more ideas.

Mireille McKee

A message from Mireille

Welcome to the new and improved Little Wonders website! We are almost 2 months into our fall 2016 school year and our tech team led by Jessica Yang has been very hard at work. We are all very grateful for their expertise, time and creativity at getting this website launched so quickly. 

Little Wonders is an amazing community of parents, all of which help to run this school. Our awesome tech team has taken on the task of revamping our website so all our current families along with those looking in to Little Wonders will enjoy an easy to use, mobile friendly, and easily accessible website.

For those of you checking us out we hope you enjoy the sight and can get all the information you need. Little Wonders does have spaces for children who were 3 months to 3 years as of September 1st, 2016 so please do think about joining our community. Check out the class information and the class schedule to see where you and your child might fit best.  

Our staff and board have chosen the theme, “Keeping Families Connected” and we are well underway with building our classroom communities and connecting families as well as facilitating discussions that will help keep your own family units well connected. 

This parenting journey is filled with amazing adventures along with bumps in the road and challenging detours and we are so grateful to be here to support you all. 

Parenthood is a life-changing process that continues throughout a lifetime. This travel through parenthood not only shapes our children’s lives but also redefines ours. My hope is that we take advantage of all the opportunities at Little Wonders to openly discuss experiences, joys, and concerns. There certainly is a bond of common understanding experienced by parents who are going through similar stages of parenthood. I hope your time here can be both tremendously supportive as well as helpfully enlightening as you navigate this most important journey.

With our new website in place we hope to facilitate many more conversations that will help support and keep you all connected.

Warmly,

Mireille

Good Eggs - $20 Off Groceries + 10% to Little Wonders

UPDATE! Thank you LW families for earning our school $140 in just the first week of our Good Eggs promotion. Keep shopping!

Good Eggs is offering Little Wonders families a discount AND the opportunity to give back 10% to the school October-December!

All you need to do is . . . 
1. Order your groceries at goodeggs.com 
2. For $20 of FREE groceries on your next order AND automatic enrollment in the fundraiser enter the code LITTLEWONDERS at checkout
3. Enjoy your delicious groceries and support Little Wonders by continuing to shop through December.

More about Good Eggs: 
Good Eggs is an online market that's making it easy for busy families to eat well at home by curating a marketplace full of the best local, organic produce, sustainable meat and fish, and delicious grocery staples. Order your groceries today on our site or iOS app, and they'll be on your doorstep tomorrow. It's that simple.

Brand New Website

Our new website is live! Check out Mireille's introductory blog post as well as some fun posts about Fall activities to do with your Little Wonders! Also, our WonderWords newsletter is now a blog format. The password for the login-required pages is Wonders16.

This has been a tremendous undertaking with active participation from many many members of the Little Wonders community. A big thank you to the Little Wonders 2016-2017 Technology Team for their time and dedication to turn this project around in a short 7 weeks!

Curt Watt -- Thank you for the heavy lifting on the techie side with our DNS transfer to Google Domains, troubleshooting the domain connection issue, and working thru the cut over. Without you we couldn't have flipped the switch. Qi Zhang -- Thank you for all of the web site and web page development. Our Development team will have you to thank for the cash that rolls in! Brian Foley -- Thank you for kicking us off on the information architecture design, the creation of the global footer and your responsiveness throughout this build and deployment process. Your insights on accessibility and your championing the user's perspective have been invaluable. You gave us the kick in the pants to get this complete before November's giving Tuesday! Amy Connors -- Thank you for your deep and detailed knowledge around how Little Wonders ticks and SO much more. We couldn't have gotten this far this quickly without your active engagement and experience. 

Ika Muljadi -- Thank you for your help on consolidating and slimming down the FAQs. Ling Zheng -- Our new site analytics and performance are in your hands. Jessica Yang -- Technology Director who lead this team to delivery.

We also want to thank the following individuals for their contributions and support to this project: 

Mireille McKee - Thank you for ongoing support of me personally throughout this process. I really appreciated your attendance and participation ensuring the content is accurate and clear. 

Stacey Klausner - Thank you for your support and for giving the technology team the freedom to run with this project!  Lisa Mumbach - Thank you for the design, style guide and beautiful color palette to play with.  Eva Kam - Thank you for the banking info so that we can start making money thru the new site through the sale of physical goods.  Susan Kuo & Lisa Warren - Thank you for setting up the Amazon Associates account as well as the other digital promotions so that we can start getting some money contributed for our community's purchases. Jeanne Rodriguez & Stephanie Zheng - Thank you for your detailed review and feedback on the website content and usability during our final week. The feedback you provided have been excellent and we have integrated it into the final production.

The Preschool Decision - Thursday, 7:30

Although we are just beginning our school year, those of you with older children are already thinking about next year! In order to ease your minds and help you navigate the preschool decision, Teacher Mireille will present an optional class on just that, “The Preschool Decision,” on Thursday November 10th, (note date change) 7:30-9:30 in the Youth Room. The class will cover important factors in making your decision as well as names of a few different types of programs in our area. This evening will also include time for parents to share what they have observed and learned while doing their research as well as time for questions and answers. The goal of the evening is to help parents feel more informed, confident and relaxed when approaching this decision.

Halloween Party

Special thanks to our FABULOUS Halloween Co-Chairs, Tina Truong and Lisa Morse, and their Halloween committee team. We'd also like to thank Margot du Manoir and the Halloween Food and Beverage Team. This was an incredible team effort and together they managed to pull off an EXCELLENT event! Mina Fisher and Susan Kuo once again at the helm helped to coordinate not only a fun event but some very successful fundraising.

A VERY special shout out to Tina's dad, Bill Pastorelli, who was very instrumental in the transport of all Halloween Supplies both from our storage unit to the school as well as from the school back to storage. His help was incredibly valuable and we are very grateful!

We also want to acknowledge all the behind the scenes work done by our treasurer team, payments and invoice team. There has been a great deal of time and work that most don't see but that we could not function without and are grateful to you all...Amy Connors,Rose Yeun, Amy Radovich, Eva Kam, Ava Campos,Stacy Oswalt and Tatiyana Akers.

Check out photos from the Halloween party by following this link. You will be redirected to Shutterfly and can access the photos. See the announcements email for passwords. You are welcome to download and share the images. If you print any photos on Shutterfly Little Wonders will receive 10% of your purchase as a fundraising donation

This year's families were voted MOST CREATIVE by the staff and we appreciate YOUR efforts and generosity. THANK YOU!

This Week's Announcements

Please be mindful of our health policy. Keep children at home if they are exhibiting signs of illness for the first 4 days of a new symptom. This does include diarrhea. San Mateo County has a number of stomach bugs reported and we hope to keep our kids and school healthy! Also a reminder that the best way to stay healthy is to wash our hands. PLEASE wash your hands and your children's upon arrival each time you come to Little Wonders. It is also recommended to wash on your way out, leaving germs here and not in your child's mouth or eyes as they get tired and put fingers in their mouth or rub their eyes. WE appreciate your cooperation.

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Fall Scavenger Hunt & Craft Activities

Fall is officially here; the air is getting crisper and days are getting shorter which provides the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy these nice afternoons.  My son loves being outside all the time, so I am always on the hunt for new fun things to do to spice up our activates.  I recently did a historical scavenger hunt while on a business trip in NYC and had so much fun, which inspired me to think about fun ways to do a toddler based scavenger hunt.

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Halloween for Little Pumpkins

Halloween can be one of the most fun nights of the year for boos and ghouls of all ages. Once our kids are old enough to eat candy (in moderation, and at parental discretion), trick-or-treating can be a fun choice. But what about early on, when candy poses a choking hazard and walking is still a BIG DEAL (or a future aspiration)? Here are some ideas for making Halloween a great experience for our littlest pumpkins.

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