8 unique gifts ideas for children all ages

Can’t believe is Christmas time again already! don’t get me wrong I love the holidays but where is time going?!

Anyways when it comes to gifts am all about unique ones. As I was researching for toys to give to the children in my life, decided to share with you my top 8 and the best part? they are under $30.

1.- Personalized plates for kids.

BPA free and dishwasher safe, so many cute food ideas you can do to decorate this plate and make meal time a fun time.

2.- A cute personalized book is always a good idea.

Children love personalized items. It gives them as sense of their uniqueness and how special they are.

These two are some of my favorites

3.- Bath Crayons

 Made of non-toxic ingredients, these child-safe crayons encourage bathtime creativity—and wash off easily

4.- Click N' Play Gigantic Keyboard Play Mat

24 Keys Piano Mat, 8 Selectable Musical Instruments + Play -Record -Playback -Demo-mode

I have personally play with one of this and it’s so much fun for the whole family. Babies can crawl on it, toddlers can jump over it, adults can dance over it, etc.


5.- idoot Magnetic Blocks Building Set for Kids

Magnetic Tiles Educational Building Construction Toys for Boys and Girls with Storage Bag - 56pcs

Blocks and magnets are two of children’s favorite. They encourage creativity, imagination and problem solving.

 

6.- Moon in my room

Who doesn’t want their own moon?

This is a great gift for children all ages, educational and fun!

7.- Personalized name puzzle 

Colorful, 3D and good for youngest ones to learn how to spell their name, motor skills, etc

8.-Magnatabs

 The Magnatab is an exceptional learning tool that provides a sensory-reinforced lesson that allows children to process information through their eyes, ears and fingertips.

Which are your favorite children gifts?

Share with us below :)

Teaching children about seasons

What is summer like in your hometown? If you live in Phoenix, summer means temperatures of 100 degrees or higher before the end of May followed by monsoons, dust storms and other intense weather patterns until late October. But if you live further north in Montana or Wyoming or west in California you would have a very different experience of summer.

While the days get longer and the weather warms up, experiencing seasons varies a great deal depending on where you live. While this seems obvious to adults, kids may struggle to understand the four seasons when they do not experience them in their archetypical form.

For children who rarely travel, the idea of snow and constant rain can be mystery. Because of it's desert landscape and proximity to the equator, Phoenix is said to only experience two seasons: summer and winter. These waterless weather patterns can make teaching about four distinct seasons very difficult.

The change of the seasons is a great learning opportunity for children. While learning about the seasons, kids in Phoenix also get the chance to learn about geography, and why seasons look different here than they do in books and on TV. Here are a few clever ways for us to teach children about the changing seasons in the Phoenix area.

Year-round activities

To measure the gradual transformation between seasons we can start year long projects with children to keep track of the changes. Consider keeping a daily weather journal from January on through the year so you can keep track of the slow rise in temperature and the sunset and sunset times to track the length of the day. You can even play games like guessing when the first 100-degree day will come!

Local Activities and Exploration

Despite the desert climate, there are a number of places to explore around Arizona to help your kids understand the changing of the seasons like the Arizona Science Center.

Spring

Springtime in the desert is just as gorgeous as anywhere else. Rare flowers bloom on cacti and local birds begin to gather. 

To see the desert changes, bring the kids to the Desert Botanical Garden and explore the orange blossoms and other native plants. The garden is filled with colorful plants many non-natives would never dream of seeing, and the kids can spend time in the butterfly exhibit. 

While you’re looking at the flowers, Teach the children about cacti. Cacti will hold the water inside their stems to combat the harsh conditions. This is a great time to explain why the desert has less water than places like Michigan. 

Summer

Arizona in the summer can be a hot subject. When the kids want to go out to play, take them to the pool. Explain to the kids that other cities like Reno have rivers running through town. This is a great way to explain how other cities are built around bodies of water. 

One fun art project is to create melted art masterpieces. While you wait for your crayons to melt in the sun, explain how Phoenix’s closeness to the equator brings the city into the direct line of the sun’s heat. This could help children appreciate just how powerful the sun’s heat is.

Fall

During October, bring the kids to take part of the harvest season at one of the many fall community festivals like the month-long Mortimer Family Farms Pumpkin Fest and Corn Maze. This will teach the children about how different vegetables grow better in certain climates. 

Consider taking a drive up to Flagstaff to see the leaves change colors. A quick road trip is a great way to show the kids that not all of Arizona is a desert. This is a great opportunity to explain the importance of mountains and how they affect the weather. 

Winter

Although states like New York and Wisconsin may be filled with snow during December, kids in Arizona will notice the distinct lack of snow on the ground. We should take advantage of the weather to take the kids on a little hike and explain the difference between areas that experience four seasons while Phoenix only sees two. 

Another great winter activity is visiting the penguins at the Odysea Aquarium. The penguins are a great example of animals that can only live in certain regions based on the weather. This is a great way to teach the kids about the importance of climate. 

No matter where you live, experiencing change in the weather is a wonderful time to learn something new. The weather is a tool to explain to children the environmental importance of diversity. 

Most Family Friendly Restaurants in Phoenix

Photo by Abhishek Vashistha

Photo by Abhishek Vashistha

Nothing says “bonding” like going out to eat and connect with your family, friends, etc. While going to dinner or lunch may be considered a traditionally adult activity, kids enjoy going out to eat, too. It gives them a chance to see parts of their hometown they may never get to see otherwise, and helps them develop an image of their community. It provides a new setting for parents and nannies alike to bond with kids. And, of course, going out to eat is usually pretty fun for all parties involved. 

However, parents and caretakers both struggle to find quality places to eat and explore with children.Taking a child to a normal, “boring” restaurant may seem like a terrible idea for those hoping for an easy lunch or dinner. Luckily, Phoenix is full of family friendly restaurants that are both fun and delicious. 

Culinary Dropout at The Yard

One of Fox’s fastest growing concepts, Culinary Dropout, is a great place to bring the family for sporting events or to meet up with others. While the original Phoenix location is just off of 7th St and Missouri,  the concept has expanded into Tempe. Their menu is centered around a traditional gastropub menu. And to keep the kids - and the adults - entertained, they have ping-pong tables, cornhole boards, and foosball tables out on the spacious, covered patio. 

MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain

Close to Downtown Phoenix is a Coronado neighborhood staple, McAlpine’s. Stepping into this soda-fountain themed restaurant is like stepping into a time machine. The shop is chiefly known for its ice cream, shakes, malts, and sundays, but hamburgers and hotdogs make a menu appearance, too. Sit the kids at the bar and enjoy your tall glass of sweetness before  ending your visit by wandering through the antique shop next door

Sugar Bowl 

Love the soda shop vibe? Don’t forget to check out Sugar Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale. This iconic pink building specializes in the traditional soda-fountain selection of ice creams, burgers, and sandwiches. Don’t miss the chance to share some literary history with the kids by showing them Family Circus comics featured all over the restaurant. Sugar Bowl has gained much of its notoriety from being featured in the newspaper classics. And no kid can resist being happy surrounded by such bright pink decor! 

La Grande Orange

One of the best places to bring the family in Arcadia is La Grande Orange. Located on the corner of 44th Street and  Campbell Ave, LGO is a beloved artisan grocery, complete with a bakery, pizzeria, and agelato shop. While you wait for you food, browse through their eclectic gift shop collections, filled with fun toys and specialty food items. The whole family will love to find their own unique treasures to take home! 

Lou Malnati's

Have you ever heard of a kid turning down pizza? Of course you haven’t - pizza is a natural staple in a child’s diet! But going out for pizza doesn’t have to be a pizza-and-arcade games extravaganza. Instead, take your family to try some of Chicago’s famous deep dishat Lou Malnati’s. Hidden in the corner of the Uptown Plaza, dive into some cheesy, saucy goodness and finish the meal off with a trip to the neighboring science themed ice cream parlor, Creamistry. 

Camp Social

Another great themed restaurant for families is Camp Social, located off of Bethany Home Road and 7th Street. This summer-camp themedis full of wacky decor, including tire swing chairs and mason jar glasses. Kids can wander to the activity section, filled with arcade games, movies, and a pingpong table. Don’t worry about not sending the kids to summer camp this year - nannies can simply bring the kids to Camp Social!

Organ stop pizza

Home to the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa is one of the best places to bring the kids for dinner and a show. As their name suggests, the menu at Organ Stop consists of the typical pizza shop’s fare - pizza, pasta, and salad. But the main attraction is the Wurlitzer organ, originally built for a theater in Denver. Stop by in the evening to hear one of the four in house organists play first hand, and take the time to learn all about how the wind instrument works. 

The Perch

Looking for a more wild experience? Take the kids to The Perch Pub and Brewery in Chandler. In addition to a delicious pub menu, the store is filled with over 50 rescue birds. Visiting the store is a great way for nannies to explain the importance of taking care of animals properly, understanding their habits, and learning their histories while the kids interact with the different types of macaws and cockatoos. . Adults and kids alike are sure to love this experience!  

Ways to Immerse children in Culture

In this integrated and globalized world, it is increasingly important to raise children in a diverse, inclusive environment. However, it can be very difficult to know how to approach this in a child-centered way. Introducing children to culture locally is a great first step.

Communication and language are the primary bridges across difference. A growing trend in parents today is to teach infants and toddlers American Sign Language before their children are able to speak and even hired bilingual caregivers. While this is a practical way of communicating with a child, it also breaks down stereotypes associated with deafness. This concept can also be transcended to other spoken languages and cultures. Young children in particular are primed to learn a second or third language, as their brain is still rapidly developing their first. Exposure is the key; parents and teachers can use foreign language words interchangeably in casual conversation in place of the child’s first language. For a more structured approach, and for older children, foreign language classes are a great way to immerse a child in a new culture. Most language classes not only teach speaking and writing, but they will also teach children about cultural practices, traditions, and histories associated with the language.

The arts are an integral part of any culture, and are also a great tool to connect children to other ways of being across the world. Children thrive in imaginative environments, and love to explore new materials, sounds, and experiences. Visual art, music, and theater classes not only provide children with unique ways express themselves, but also give them tools to engage with the world and with each other. Community colleges, after school programs, group classes, and private instructors offer a menagerie of classes to children of all ages. Musical instruments, such as the guitar, drums, and piano, are versatile and accessible, as many cultures have either have similar instruments, or have adapted their musical styles to those instruments themselves. Visual and performing arts are similar, and local community centers will often offer classes that focus on Native or some form of non-Western art. Writing and poetry classes, too, can introduce children to important authors, scholars, and cultural figures that aren’t traditionally taught in Western schools. Books are also perhaps the easiest way to expose children to new cultures early; reading stories about and by people from other countries, religions, family structures, and gender norms teaches children to think less about how different we are, but how we can connect.

Other cultural experiences revolve around food, holidays, religions, and traditions. Cooking at home is an enriching way to learn a variety of different skills, including reading, measuring, time management, and cultural competency. It’s truly an immersive, integrative activity that can be scaled for all ages and learning levels. Planning home meals from around the world will also teach children to love trying new things, even if they aren’t food related! Festivals will usually have foods from the cultures they are celebrating, as well as traditional music, art, and dance. Getting children involved with performing or volunteering at festivals and other cultural celebrations is a more involved way of immersing children in culture, but often helps them build relationships and understanding across difference. For very young children, exposing them to international playgroups early on can immerse both them and their families in new ways of being. Similarly, nannies play an important role in a child’s perspective on the world, as they are often a primary caregiver. Nannies enrich children’s lives by sharing their language, culture, food, and values with the children in their care.

Phoenix is a multicultural, metropolitan area with plenty of opportunities to expose children to a variety of cultures. The Phoenix Art Museum and Musical Instrument Museum are great places to start, as they feature exhibits from artists and musicians from across the globe. The Heard Museum features American Indian Art, which is essential for an area with a long history of Native culture. Similarly, there is the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, which allows visitors to tour a real historical site will interacting with its rich history and culture. The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center is also very immersive and interactive, and allows children to explore the vibrant Latin culture that exists in and around Arizona. The Fiesta de Las Americas is an annual festival held in April that also celebrates Latin culture from the US and Mexico, all the way down to the tip of South America. Near the end of March is the Italian Festival of Arizona, which immerses visitors in Italian music, food, and commerce. Finally, there is another European cultural celebration called the Tournament of Kings Dinner and Jousting show, which is held year round and is more of a performance than an integrative experience. However, it simply goes to show that there is a new cultural experience for every child in Phoenix!

Page, AZ, a great destination for a family road trip.

Page, Arizona.png

I had the privilege this week to go visit Page, AZ and all I can say it’s WOW WOW WOW!

What a  beautiful place!

Went by myself and while there I met a few families that were doing tourism in the area and thought what a great place to bring your children. I am not a tourist guide, obviously, but want to share with you the visits I did while there.

Page is four hours drive from Phoenix, very easy and pretty drive too. It’s all about nature and being outside. It's a very small town with lots of visitors all year long. There are many resorts where to stay. No fancy hotels but confortable, clean ones. 

 

Antelope Canyon

My first stop was at the  Lower Antelope Canyon. This place leaves you speechless. Just stunning! You need a tour guide to go through the canyons, did it with Dixie's and it was a great experience.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

For families, different travel bloggers recommended the Upper Antelope Canyon, which right across from the Lower one. The Upper it’s easier to go through and doesn’t have steep stairs like the Lower one does.

Horseshoe Bend

Second stop was the famous Horseshoe Bend, only 8 min away from Antelope canyon.

Horseshoe bend.

Horseshoe bend.

Another magical place. There is a short 1/2 mile trail that leads to the main view area. While visiting this place, if you have small children make sure you hold their hand the whole time. There not fencing around the view, which makes it nice but dangerous if you are not cautious. 

Glenn Canyon Dam and Lake Powell

Last but not least I visited Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Cool place to see. When drive pass the Glenn Dam you can visit the marina and what they call "the beach" where people can get in the water during summer time.

Glenn Canyon Dam.

Glenn Canyon Dam.

Overall Page, AZ was a very nice place to visit and beautiful to the eyes and mind.

 

 

 

My Top Four Qualities to Look For in a Nanny

What is your idea of the perfect nanny? What would she be like? What kind of qualities would she have?

 For me, that nanny would:
        • Speak three languages--Mandarin, Spanish and English.
        • Be creative, patient, mature, relaible and fun.
        • Have lots of experience as a nanny and possibly have some camp counselor experience.
        • Be super flexible with our schedule.
        • Follow our family rules to the T.
        • Stay with my family for all the years that I would need her to.

In a perfect world, I would love for her to even read my mind when it came to my children.

We all want the best nanny possible, but we first have to know what it is that we are looking for in that person. What are the essential qualities that we are seeking?

There are many key personality traits that I seek in every caregiver, but my top four are:


        1.  She has to LOVE children. You can feel that she genuinely enjoys being around them. Anyone can teach kids the house rules and how to behave, but the key is to find a nanny who is truly joyful working with children. This quality is priceless.

        2. She must engage in your child’s life.  She shows interest in the child's development. She offers suggestions on a new toy, finds a new class at the library, and comes up with a new healthy snack.

        3. She is completely reliable.

        4. She is a good communicator. (This is a quality you can get a feel for while setting up the interview and even during the interview. Something as simple as communicating that she is running 5 minutes late would leave you a totally different impression of her than her not communicating at all.)

Which are the TOP 4 qualities you look in a nanny? Share with us!