Lane · Lane and Lauren's World · Lauren

Lane and Lauren’s World is on YouTube!

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Toy reviews, unboxings, movie trailers, cake decorating tutorials, even watching other kids play (!?)… the girls love them some YouTubeKids.  As opposed as I am to overdoing the screen time, we do allow the girls restricted tablet time – and it’s given them plenty of ideas!  Lane has been begging for ages to start a YouTube channel, and with some extra time on my hands this summer, I’ve finally given in.  They are absolutely thrilled to present their new channel, Lane and Lauren’s World!

Please take it easy on me – I’m new at this stuff, so our first two videos include glimpses of my thumb and some choppy editing… but we’re just getting started!  Our first video features the girls opening Hatchimals CollEGGtibles blind bags (and we’re even giving away a free blind bag to a lucky viewer – just “like” the video, subscribe to their channel, and leave a comment to enter!) and the second video is a read-aloud of one of Lane’s kindergarten summer reading titles “Today I Will Fly,” by Mo Willems.

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The girls are already planning their next few videos, so expect to see more read-alouds in addition to princess fashion shows, day trips with the family, toy reviews, fun activities, and dance-offs!   YouTube Kids has changed its policies, so new channels need 100 subscribers before they can register a custom URL, so it would really help us out if you could subscribe and spread the word to any toy-obsessed princess fanatics you may know and love.  Or, you could just share with fellow tired moms who need a few minutes to make dinner or pick up the kitchen without interruption!

CLICK HERE to check out Lane and Lauren’s debut episodes and please subscribe and enter our Hatchimals giveaway!  We’d also love some suggestions and ideas about books or toys you’d like to see the girls review!  Share your comments here or over on their YouTube channel.

xo

 

Activities · Lane · Lauren · Play outside · Summer

Best. Summer. EVER.

Summer Activities for kids.
Summer is finally in full swing, and we could not be happier or more ready!  As my fellow New Englanders know, it was a very LONG winter.  But it’s officially week #2 of summer vaycay for us (lots of snow days held us up!), and we are all about making the most of every sunny second!  Fortunately, we’ve found tons of ways to soak up summer without breaking the bank – the best things in life are free (or at least cheap!), after all!

Ice cream truck.
Decisions, decisions…
Here are four of our favorites:

  1. PLAYGROUNDS.  It’s an old standby, but Lane and Lauren have yet to meet a playground that they didn’t love.  We’ve explored and discovered several awesome playgrounds nearby that are fenced in (super important to me, as I typically take the girls by myself, and it can get tricky trying to keep track of both of them as they run in different directions), and provide shady areas for those super hot days.   Playgrounds are amazing for exercise, imagination, and socializing, but what I love most is the element of unstructured play that is missing from so many childhood activities these days.  So much of what kids do is organized, and it’s refreshing to let them just be kids and play on their own terms.  I’ve watched the girls’ confidence build as they master new tricks on the playground equipment and I always get a kick out of watching their interactions with the kids they meet.  And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I actually really love the swings myself.Summer activities - Playground.
  2. THE LIBRARY.  Do yourself a solid and check out your local Children’s Room!  During the summer, the girls and I make it a point to go once a week to grab some fresh reads (currently on our nightstands: Your Purr-fect Birthday and Today I Will Fly) and take advantage of all our city’s library has to offer.  We’ve signed up for the Summer Reading Program, which incentivizes kids to read with rewards and activities, and even discovered that our library offers discount or even free passes to many local museums, zoos, and other attractions.  This month’s library activity calendar includes tons of creative, fun activities that kids love: everything from crafts and game nights to movies and story time in your PJ’s.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much our library has to offer, and it keeps the girls motivated to read and learn through play all summer!
  3. SPLASH PADS.  A splash pad is the perfect way to cool off without the stress of the deep end, the undertow, and/or creepy sea creatures.  Don’t get me wrong: I adore the beach – when I’m alone and can take a nap or read a book.  However, I ventured with two small children to the beach by myself last summer and it was the single least relaxing event I have ever taken part in.  The packing and prep, the parking, the trekking across the sand with all the stuff… it’s exhausting.  Enter: the Splash Pad.  Luckily, we’ve got a few great ones nearby, and a couple of our faves are the Splash Pad Playspace at the Capron Park Zoo (this place has the added bonus of a great playground, too!) and the Splash Pad at Freetown State Forest.  Extra points go to Freetown State Forest for its fully fenced-in, life-guarded, non-sandy and regularly cleaned grounds.  It’s even got a shady picnic area, so bring the PB&J’s!  Find out more about the splash pad in Freetown, as well as other splash pads in Massachusetts by clicking here.
  4. BERRY PICKING.  If you’re looking for a cheap, fun outdoor activity, google nearby farms/farm stands.  Late June and early July are prime for perfect strawberries – we went a couple of weeks ago and spent an amazing couple of hours picking the most beautiful strawberries for a cool $4.70.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a warm, sweet, sun-ripened strawberry right off the vine.  Blueberry season arrives later in the summer, around mid-August.  Our family loves traditions, and berry picking has become something the girls look forward to each summer.  Not only do we have a blast together, but we go home with yummy fresh fruit and support local farmers. Summer activities for kids - strawberry picking.Summer activities for kids - strawberry picking.

What are your favorite ways to savor summer?  We’d love to read your suggestions and comments – we are always looking for new ideas!  Happy Summer!

 

Birthday parties · Lane · Parties and Entertaining

Lane’s Avaloran Fiesta!

It’s been a couple of weeks since Lane’s 5th birthday celebration, and as excited as I have been to share allllll the deets of what was a super-fun party, I feel like we are just now coming up for air!
My girls L O V E Elena of Avalor (let’s be serious – who doesn’t?), and Lane has been planning to ring in the big 0-5 with this theme for months! Luckily for me, Elena’s world is filled with vibrant colors, Latin-inspired food, and fun, festive music, all of which provided endless inspiration for a fabulous fiesta!  Here are some of my favorite details from what Lane told me was her “best birthday ever!”

Elena of Avalor cake.  Elena of Avalor birthday party inspiration.

The cake.  Oh, the cake.  Try as I may have to get her to choose a simpler cake, Lane spotted an Elena doll cake on Pinterest and had to have it.  (What?  Your 5 year old isn’t into Pinterest?)  Now, I had made one other doll cake in my time (the Merida cake from last year’s fete), so I thought this would be fairly painless.  Not this time.  Turns out, the Elena doll is taller than the other princess dolls (&*%$!), so the pan I used didn’t create a deep enough cake to cover her up to her waist.  I was short for time and ended up at the grocery store buying a pre-made cake, scraping off all the frosting and decorations, and sticking it to the bottom of my homemade cake, to add height.  Once I did that, I re-frosted and attempted a fondant dress.  It looks pretty good from the front, but I promise you, the back was a mess unimpressive.  I did my best, and Lane was delighted with it, as were her little party guests.  Now I’m praying that Lauren doesn’t want a doll cake come May.  I don’t know if I can handle the pressure!

Elena of Avalor birthday party inspiration.

The dessert table, to me, is always the star of the party (aside from the birthday girl, of course!), so I was sure to stock Lane’s with yummy Avalor-inspired sweets, such as candy scepters (these were a huge hit with the kids and are so easy to make – Lane and Lauren helped:  marshmallows + candy melts + blue crystal sprinkles), cupcakes topped with Elena and Isabel cutouts, chocolate dipped pretzels, and candy that fit with the red, blue, and yellow motif.  Avaloran chocolate was a must for Lane, but since we couldn’t figure out how to make or get the authentic stuff (Hello?!  Can we get on board with an Elena of Avalor cookbook?!), we went with chocolate coins (U.S. currency only at Party City, no Avaloran money – don’t tell Lane).  A hanging sombrero, yellow floral garland, and a DIY Feliz Cumpleaños banner completed the look.

For food and non-dessert snacks, I really wanted to stick with the Avaloran theme as closely as possible.  Cue Charoca‘s Chili (an easy recipe I adapted from the South Beach diet years ago: ground turkey, black beans, corn, brown rice, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, onion, and chili mix), pan dulce (sweet bread – bakery bought, because I can’t do all the things), Jaquin snacks (Lane and I googled: jaquins are part macaw parrot and part jaguar, so they are omnivores… we went with fruit salad for this one, even though Lane said she saw a jaquin eating a chicken leg once), Arroz de la Abuela (Spanish rice), Avaloran Ambrosia, ensalada, and of course, chips and salsa, served in a sombrero!


For decor, I decided to incorporate fruit where I could.  A few painted pineapples, lime wedges as stands for the food labels, and painted mini maracas on the tables added a festive touch.  I also found these adorable scene setters (I don’t know how I lived without these for parties before I stumbled upon them last year) that feature a mariachi band and flamenco dancers!  All that was missing was an Avaloran flag (I’m crazy enough that I actually asked the show’s creator via Twitter where I could find one of these, but his reply was that the only one was in their office!)

But all the food and decorations in the world couldn’t compete with a surprise visit from Elena!  We had the Elena of Avalor soundtrack pumping, and the kids had an absolute blast dancing, chatting, and taking photos with Elena.  Storytime, a piñata, and a coronation ceremony for Lane was the cherry on top for this birthday girl!

On their way out, Lane gave each of her friends a personalized bag filled with Elena-inspired goodies such as rings, pencils, mini maracas, and noisemakers.

This was one of my favorite parties yet, and of course, the most important thing is that Lane had an amazingly memorable birthday!  Be sure to share and pin ideas if you’re inspired to plan your own Avaloran fiesta!

 

Lane · Parties and Entertaining · Uncategorized

Lane’s 4th birthday bash: ‘Brave’ theme!

Brave is such a fantastic animated film, and so under appreciated amongst the toddler set.  Lane, however, is not your average princess.  She connected right away to the movie’s heroine, Merida, and totally fell for her fearlessness, courage, and sense of independence.  

While I was not surprised when Lane decided to dress up like Merida for Halloween, I was pretty surprised that the love lasted all the way til February, when she announced that her birthday party should have a Brave theme.  At almost 4, Lane, like Merida, was extremely confident and opinionated, and she was very vocal with those opinions when it came to putting together her birthday party.  She declared that it had to feel like we were in a medieval castle and there had to be a doll cake.  I had my work cut out for me.  

Here are some of my favorite photos from the party.  Don’t forget to pin and share if you’re inspired to plan a Brave themed party of your own!


This was my first ever attempt at a doll cake.  Not perfect, but I was pretty happy with it.  So was Lane, and that’s what mattered most.  


Here’s the birthday girl herself, totally in character!  We did a fun little photo shoot prior to her party, and I used the pictures to decorate.  The look of determination on her face still cracks me up a year later!


One of my favorite things to obsess over when planning parties is the food.  I love creating food and dessert tables that are not only delicious, but on-theme!  So, with a little imagination and some inspiration from Pinterest, Lane and I came up with lots of fun stuff to eat, including blue cotton candy “wisps,” fruit arrows, “bear claws” (these were paw-shaped brownies with white chocolate chip ‘claws’), target cupcakes, and spell cake.  Mason jars filled with chocolate teddy grahams were also a cute touch.

I can’t find the pictures of the lunch food items, but we had grilled chicken drum sticks in honor of King Fergus, and of course, no kids party would be complete without (Merida’s) mac & cheese.  A veggie tray was dubbed “Angus Snacks,” after Merida’s horse. 

Favorite quotes from the movie were framed and placed on tables and on the walls.
Isn’t this scene setter awesome?!

Decorations ended up being super important for this party, because two days before, the venue where we had planned to have the party had a huge water leak and became unavailable.  I was in panic mode, and we ended up having this party in a church hall, which was not in the best shape.  The castle wall scene setters looked amazing and were the perfect way to distract from the condition of the space.  


Despite my efforts, all the decorations and food in the world could not outshine a visit from Merida herself!  This was a surprise for Lane, and as you can see from the photos, she was absolutely delighted!  The expression on her face when Merida walked in was absolutely priceless.

Now, we are days away from Lane’s 5th and we’ve got a lot to live up to!  I will be sure to post all the details from her Avaloran fiesta once we all recover! 

xo Mama