Scheduling Summer Camps/Classes in Seattle

Each Jan/Feb many Seattle parents start the hunt for summer camps. Finding the camps can sometimes be fun, but filling out the plethora of applications for multiple kids (20 applications for 10 weeks for 2 kids) for educational/fun childcare is inefficient. I had quickly sketched out (on Balsamiq Cloud -a fantastic program to draft new ideas) a potential system that could search for all camps in a parents radius, complete one application for one kid, and pay all at once. I was so excited I pitched it to a friend of mine at dinner last night. Halfway through, she mentioned 6Crickets – a startup here in Seattle that had the same idea to help parents schedule their summer camp programs and classes. It also has the ability to view/schedule with friends. Since I had two spots left out of our 10 weeks of summer, I thought I’d try it. It worked! Not all camps/classes are listed but over 5000+ are. I was quite happy to use 6Crickets and bench my idea.

If you’re still looking to schedule your summer camps in Seattle, click here to register and to notify 6Crickets you received this referral from me.

Happy Scheduling!



Amazing! Starbucks Reserve & Princi – The Seattle Roastery.

So good!

I love pastries! My favorite hobby is sourcing pastries. For a number of years my favorite pastry shop in Seattle was Crumble and Flake. Today, they have slid down to number 5. But I’m not writing to tell you about their fall, I’m writing to tell you about Starbucks Reserve & Princi at the Seattle Roastery on Pike St. If you haven’t been there – it’s definitely a place to go. Not only for the various tastings of their higher grade coffee, or their modern wood decor but for their pastries and breads!


Prosciutto & Cheese Croissant!

I ordered a prosciutto and cheese croissant to eat while I was taking in the ambiance of the Roastery (I think the prosciutto is from Rainshadow Meats – which is another great meat source for steaks and shaved ham). The pastry was served on a wooden tray which connects to the modern wood design of the place. As you can see from the featured picture – it was devoured. I also ordered a chocolate croissant and a loaf of multi-grain bread to take home. When the  twins came home from school they completed a taste test of chocolate croissants from Princi, Crumble and Flake and Bakery Nouveau. The winner…Princi! Note: Bakery Nouveau still wins its category for double baked almond croissants!


Top left – Princi, Top Right – Crumble & Flake, Bottom: Bakery Nouveau

Today, I toasted the multi-grain bread for breakfast with homemade peanut butter and then made chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. Even though the bread was dense it was delightful with it’s respective combinations. Now on to the coffee.

I am not a regular Starbucks connoisseur. I prefer the local coffee shops – Cafe Rococo , Diva Expresso,  Caffe Vita, Expressovivace. While I was at the Roastery, I had a non-fat latte. But it wasn’t with their regular blend they offer in their regular Starbucks. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay a attention to which exact reserve blend it was but I think it was their Guatemalan blend. The latte was AMAZING! I didn’t need to add sugar or anything else.

If you have in visitors, or need a spot for a breakfast meeting, a coffee date or just want to learn more about coffee – be sure to visit The Seattle Roastery you won’t be disappointed.


Brioche – interior completely filled with custard!


Last minute holiday gift ideas!

HatPile1--e1452815122982A few last minute holiday gift ideas that are a bit unique. If you’re looking for a hat for warmth or for style, visit Goorin Bros on 1st ave in Seattle. They do have a few female hats but predominantly they have hats for men.  The hats are authentic, distinguished looking and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

While reading through Geekwire 200, I came across a startup called Glowforge. It’s a 3D laser printer that can be used in your home or business. It’s affordable, easy to use and you can even create exact chocolate desserts, a cardboard globe, a leather wallet, a unique skin for your laptop or iPad. Very cool for that techie or creative genius in your life.

A friend of mine wrote the cookbook: The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen: With More than 150 Inspirational Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes to Maximize Your Health. The cookbook is not only for diabetics, people looking for low carbohydrate recipes, but also for people (like me) who like to try new yummy recipes. Due to this book, I’ve purchased a spiralizer in which one of my daughters is now a huge fan of zucchini noodles, and we have added 5 new recipes to our rotational meal plans. The recipes are easy and quick to make after a long day at work.  Check it out!

The last idea, is more of a hostess or work colleague gift for that someone who loves eclairs. The store Choukette on Western Ave in Seattle makes very unique eclairs. I had to try 4. They are a bit pricey $5/eclair but they are a work of art.



As the holidays quickly approach, hostess and teacher gifts come to mind. Instead of giving scented candles, or wine try these amazing artisan pickles The fresh dill pickles and green beans are fantastic. Not into pickles?

This strawberry freezer jam is outstanding home_cta_freezerves . We recently stayed at Sun Mountain Lodge and were served this yummy jam with toast. After one bite, I lathered my half piece of toast with this jam and asked for more. I do make jam, but not in these flavors. The staff at Sun Mountain Lodge nicely told me their jam secret. So, I bought a case! The jams can be thaw and then be refrozen, thus you’re able to bring them to a holiday party. These items are great for teacher, boss, colleague gifts.

Enjoy!  you won’t be disappointed.


*Update: if you buy 4 jars of pickles online = FREE shipping. Otherwise if you can find them via the store locator on their site.

Wardrobe Change…Personal Shopper

Need a fabulous personal shopper/stylist contact Cheryl O’Connor!  Cheryl Anne Styling

After 6 years of a variety of jobs – owner of Barkz where I wore a Barkz shirt, jeans, and running shoes, to pregnant mom of twins – XXL t-shirt and lululemon yoga pants, to a new mom – t-shirt with puke on the shoulder and sweatpants to a stay at home mom who wore Banana Republic long sleeve black shirts, Hudson Jeans (because you can fit so many things in your butt pockets, and the black shirt didn’t show stains) and running shoes, to now… a job in a professional business setting – I needed help.

A friend of mine gave me Cheryl’s contact information and she has been fabulous. She came and looked at my closet of jeans, the odd nice shirt for date nights and said “I’ll meet you at Nordstrom on Tuesday!” I gave her a budget, and on the Tuesday I walked in, was escorted to a dressing room and shown a variety of outfits. I walked out with an entirely new wardrobe. Cheryl, not only listens to what you need, chooses clothes that fit your body type, colors that suit, undergarments that make everything look smooth and sleek and of course helps you match shoes to your new wardrobe.

She saved me money. I didn’t spend hours looking through racks trying to find my size, questioning myself on the new styles, figuring out what would match with what and I didn’t have to go back and spend time returning items that didn’t fit. However I do love Nordstrom for that fact – that you can return something even after a year.

If you’re in need of a wardrobe lift for the new season, contact Cheryl!

Gardening? Try planting only edibles.

1431552893885 Two years ago I read an article that stated if your kids help you plant seeds, watch a vegetable grow then they’ll eat the vegetables. Issue #1 when we planted the carrot seeds – nothing appeared. Issue #2 I had no idea how, what and where to plant things. Issue #3 when something did grow, it was infested with bugs. At that point I brought in the professionals – Seattle Urban Farm Company

WP_20150514_16_33_07_ProThey built a 2’x14′ planter out the front with a cold frame for winter planting, changed the soil in the back vegetable patch, planted seedlings, fertilized and maintained the vegetable gardens. At the same time they educated me in urban gardening. I learned what to plant, how to plant and when to harvest. For example, how to thin out carrots, where to place your tomatoes so you don’t shadow your other vegetable plants, top your snap peas, and how to deal with the bugs and crows! I can’t say enough great  things about this company. Throughout this past winter – I never needed to buy broccoli or kale because I could harvest it from December until March. I’m also growing garlic and it will be harvested in July  (I’ll have enough until Christmas)! As soon as Spring arrived here in Seattle – the urban farmer was out – planting snap peas, bok choy, new broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, potatoes, spinach, lettuce and cabbage. Recently the tomatoes went in. The company has a variety of maintenance and assistance programs. If you’re in the Seattle area I highly recommend you call for an estimate. If you’re out of the area – they have written a fabulous book Food Grown Right in Your Backyard
It’s very informative and easy to digest. After reading it, I was able to decrease the maintenance plan and harvest the vegetables timely and correctly to encourage new growth to have a second and third harvest of that plant.

Last spring, I tried planting only edible plants, since my girls eat us out of fruit within a day of buying it. It was a success! I was able to use all of my herbs throughout the year and my blueberries and strawberries all came back. I had my first strawberry harvest today. If you’re in the USA,  Dutch Gardens has a fabulous online catalog and offers unique fruit planting. I have strawberries that are designed for hanging baskets and blueberries for pots. They do have a variety of other perennials which you won’t find at your local nursery. A secret with Basil – put it indoors in a glass of water and it will grow throughout the year. You can have fresh basil all year round.

Another little secret is copper Slug and Snail Tape.
You can also use copper pennies (Canadians can use the old penny) throughout your pots, but the tape is great if you have a large box.

The slug tape stuck to the vegetable box.

The slug tape stuck to the vegetable box.

Happy gardening.

The questions about dying asked by toddlers and preschoolers

There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. In between is living.” Pat Thomas

In her book I Miss You: A First Look at Death Ms. Thomas begins “Every day someone is born…and every day someone dies.”
She then also states “Death is a natural part of life. All living things grow, change and eventually dies.” This is a great picture book to help toddlers and preschoolers understand that all living things die, and we are living things. It’s an opener for us to first talk about what living things are and what non living things are. Then we can bring in examples such as bugs, plants, animals and their life cycle, which will then lead you into ours. When you’re inundated with the questions you will have a base to work from.

Where do you go when you die? What is a cemetery? Are you going to be buried? What happens?  Where is your mummy? Why did she die? How did she die? You must miss her.

We went through a phase – the never-ending questions about death, dying and how it happens. It started at 2.5 years and we’re still in it. I found some books about dying that talk about it, in a non religious way. We all have various beliefs, but these books are wonderful ways of talking about death in a way young children can process. How I introduced it? I bought all the books listed below and put them on their bookshelves. When the girls saw them we just read them, the way we read books of Fancy Nancy, Curious George etc. My girls ask loads of questions when reading these books, so I just handled the books that talked about dying the same way. For example in the book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, Barney is buried in the ground and my girls ask – whether I’ll be buried in the ground. I clearly and factually say no, I want to be cremated. Then the next question is “what is cremation?” So I just tell them. I do say that I want to be scattered in the PNW where the whales are and then my husband proceeds to announce, under his breath, that I want to be fish food, but the questions are answered honestly, simply and factually.

When my children ask if I’m going to die, my response is Yes, someday… but not soon, because I’m not done living yet”.  When my children say “I don’t want to die” – I reply You will die sometime but not yet because you have loads more living to do.”

Here are the books that we have on our shelves. I hope they provide some comfort when needed and help answer some questions. As always if you have a suggestion please let me know.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins)

Educational iPad games/apps; keeping kids busy while …

Educational iPad games/apps keep my kids busy while I prep for dinner. They learn something while eating veggies and I get 30 minutes to make dinner, clean up and gear up for the dinner fiascos and the after dinner routine.

When my girls were 2.5 years of age I caved, and started giving them screen time on their iPads (I do have two iPads). However I only give it to them at 4:30/4:45pm pm in the afternoon, otherwise known as the ‘witching hour’. At the same time I also give them their vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, red peppers, frozen peas in a dish, so while they are playing they can easily grab a veggie. Dinner is at 5:15pm and my weekday meals must only take 15 minutes to create. I do have a meal plan for each day which I do create on Sundays (I’ll write a post about that another time).

Parent Map had a great article a few years back listing some good educational apps– however most were for children older than 2.5 years. But they did list a great site to find educational games for all ages.

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The apps are reviewed by educators and then given a mark out of ten. The apps with 9/10 are the ones I download. I also notice, that some games are listed for older kids but I still download them if I think my kids can handle the challenge. However, if your child is getting frustrated with the game, be sure to sit with them and see if they can do it or if it’s out of their skill level. I do rotate games in and out and if I introduce a new one – I do sit down with them for a few minutes and be sure they understand the requirements. (I also turn on restrictions on my iPad settings so they can’t open the internet and purchase more apps).

Here is my list of iPad games/apps that help with mathematics, science, writing, reading, music, health, history and the world we live in. I’ve listed them at the time of introduction. Most of the apps that are listed under 3 years of age are for children ages 3-5 years old.

2.5 years of age
A to Z Music Videos from by Age of Learning
Awesome Xylophone by Tharts
I Hear Ewe – Animal Sounds for Toddlers by Claireware Software
Interactive Alphabet ABC’s by Piikea St.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox by THUP Games
Peekaboo Pets by Kid Baby Toddler Ltd.
Peekaboo Barn by Night & Day Studios
Play Lab
Stop & Go by Shortstack
Toddle Puzzle Shapes by Technolio
Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose

3 years of age and older
tryIconLeo’s Pad by Kidaptive (This is for older kids but my girls love this. At 4 they are still learning various items from this game)
Gazzili Science by GazziliWorld (love this one – wish there were more)
Petersons Inventions by Filimundus – this is a fabulous game for the Engineer. The girls did get stuck at first a bit but I would say “try two things” and then I’d help. We did a couple together and then they caught on. Now they can outsmart me!
Kids Learn Spanish with busuu by Busuu Limited
Paper by Fifty Three
Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up by Disney
Doc McStuffins: Moving with Doc by Disney
Abby Monkey Preschool and Kindergarten by CFC
Preschool Colors Toys Train Kids by 22Learn

3.5 years of age and older – Early Learning Academy by Age of Learning
LetterSchoollearn to write letters and numbers by Sanoma Media
iWriteWords by gdiplus
iTrace by iTrace
Super Why ABC Adventures by PBS Kids
AbbyPhonics: Kindergarten Reading by 22learn
BrainPop Jr. by BrainPop – This app is for older kids. However they have videos that teach the kids about various things from President’s day, vegetables vs cookies, voting to smoking. It helps start conversations and it helps you as a parent address the issues you see with your kids. For example before they watched the smoking/addiction video they were asking me why was smoke coming out of that person’s mouth, what was the pipe they were holding? These videos are 3 minutes in length, there is a robot named Mobi who does things wrong or tries things out and the girl in the video ‘educates’ Mobi. During our dinner we discuss what they have learned that day from BrainPop. I do limit this game to two videos a day…I can only handle 4 new topics to discuss at dinner. When I toured a school recently I did see them using this in grade 1. My girls don’t do the activities yet just the videos.
Motion Math: Hungry Fish by Motion Math
Motion Math: Hungry Guppy by Motion Math
Toy Store Delivery Truck by MindSmack
Moofy Recognizing Pattern by PlaySmart
Counting Caterpillar by Bellamon
Peg + Cat Big Gig by PBS Kids
Meet the Orchestra by Vide Infra Group
DoReMi 123: Music for Kids by Creativity
Animal Orchestra For Kids by Devmiles

4 years of age and older
The Word Monsters: Learn to Read by Mindconnex learning
Seasons and Weather! by Tribal Nova
Animals! Life science by Tribal Nova
Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa by Fingerpring
Dragon Shapes -Lumio Geometry Challenge by Lighthouse Learning
Numbers and Counting – Teacher Tilly by Shoto
The MathTree by Bellamon
Jungle Time: learn how to tell time by Andrew Short
Measurement by Emantras
Toca Builders by Toca Boca AB
Sound Recall by Javelin Sdn Bhd
Mathcubes: Addition & Subtraction for kids by Apps4Needs (I have just introduced this one)

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your favorites as I’m always looking for new educational apps to add.


Great parental lessons from Super Bowl 49

10922709_10152524818131722_5024710907725824958_nWhat a great game last night. My daughters (4 years old) watched the entire game. We couldn’t get them away from the game, and that’s a long time to sit for football. Even though Seattle lost Super Bowl 49, the Seahawks did give us fuel to address a few parenting issues.

1. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you handle your mistakes
Whether or not the pass to Ricardo Lockette was a mistake – this is only determined by Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson if you ask them the question “Whether they’d make the same play or whether they’d change it” If Butler hadn’t intercepted the ball – we’d be celebrating another Seahawks Super Bowl win. However that is not the case and the media and Seattle is reeling in “the biggest mistake ever” talk. I have always said to my previous students (Elementary and Secondary) and continue to say to my children that mistakes are a way of learning. We all have to make mistakes in order to learn. To quote Pete Carroll via LA Times he said “A very, very hard lesson, I hate to learn the hard way, but there’s no other way to look at it right now.” For our kids we can teach them, even superstars, celebrities, Presidents and especially adults make mistakes. It’s how we deal with them that is important. Immediately after the game, Pete Carroll told his players he was to blame. It was his mistake and he after all was Head Coach. Russell Wilson stood up and took the blame – stating it was him that threw the ball. This in my opinion helps children learn that if you make a mistake, own up to it and yes the backlash can be difficult but your honesty and integrity is more important.

2. Commercials
Our girls don’t watch TV. Sure they watch Amazon Prime, Xbox Videos, play IPad games etc. but they don’t see commercials. So what do we do when we watch live football as a family and the commercials come on? We use it as a learning experience.
For example – the Budweiser advertisements (I’m so happy they didn’t have half naked women on them this year since that would be a deeper explanation than I could get through in 2 minutes). First, we explain what a commercial is? It’s a company’s way of trying to get us to buy their product. So we ask them “What is the Budweiser commercial trying to sell us?” They say beer. We ask “Do we need it or want it”. They say “No…Because you drink this beer”. When the car commercials come on – again we ask them “What are they trying to make us buy?” They will say a car. We say “Do we need it?” They say “No, we already have one”. When something scary comes on we do ask them to turn away and we do mute the sound. The reason is the girls get too scared and end up having nightmares.

3. The fight – Bruce Irvin
Yes the fists flying at the end is not something one wants to see on the field. But a great teaching moment – we told the girls even adults have trouble controlling their emotions (we have a 4 year old having trouble controlling her anger) but fighting is not the answer. We also illustrated that this was poor sportsmanship and asked what should he have done? The answers were “He should have walked away, gone to his room.” We also suggested – pounded the ground, screamed, gone to the locker room but not hit another person. Irvin did apologize today – closing the loop of what us parents with more than one child say when our kids fight – I’m sorry for hitting you.

4. Losing
We can’t always win. At some point one has to teach children that sometimes we lose. Yes it’s awful but you need to lose in order to grow as a person. If a child never gets a toy taken away, or loses a debate, a game in school, or loses points on a test – how will that child develop into an adult and survive in the world. We have to feel the loss, learn from the mistakes, learn why we lost and get up and try again. We want our children not to give up on the challenges that they will face throughout their lifetime.

These are some lessons we have been teaching/reinforcing in the last 24 hours. I would like to personally thank the Seattle Seahawks for playing with their hearts, servicing the community – especially Seattle Children’s Hospital and standing together as a great team. Learn from your games this year gentlemen and continue to strive for better next year.



Seahawks teach kids perseverance

WP_20150124_10_34_25_ProAs a transplant from Toronto to Seattle, rooting for an NFL team – let alone standing in line for 12th man and Richard Sherman t-shirts last year prior to the Super Bowl – was not something I would normally do. I’m not sure if I’ve watched more than two Super Bowls in my life. But last year when the Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl all the transplants and all the natives of Seattle bonded together over this team. The Space Needle, Microsoft buildings, banks, high rises, construction cranes, bridges, boats on the lake etc. all displayed the Seahawks colors. It was an amazing sight of connectivity. I decided then that this is a team I needed to watch and to cheer for. Even more so when I see Russell Wilson volunteer his time to Seattle Children’s Hospital for kids struggling with cancer, and Richard Sherman visit children with physical disabilities. This is a unique team. A team like the Seahawks doesn’t come by very often. Pete Carroll must have read “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap..And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins because he built an amazing team which has created a city full of committed fans, the 12’s.

Last year my twin girls who were three wanted to watch the Super Bowl. I figured why not? They’d probably watch for a few minutes and then wander off. That didn’t happen. The girls were by my side the entire game. They are big fans of the Seahawks especially Richard Sherman. To this day they ask if Sherman is okay because in last year’s Super Bowl he hurt his ankle. All year they kept telling everyone “We watched the game but Sherman hurt his ankle… but he’s okay now”. For three year olds to remember this incident all year – he definitely left an impression.
In the famous January 11, 2015 NFC championship game – Seahawks versus the Packers (the girls again glued to the game) learned a very valuable lesson: perseverance. We’ve had some issues with the girls stopping an activity when it gets difficult for them or if they get frustrated. Well – now when it happens we say – did the Seahawks give up when they were losing? They say no and continue to try, and persevere through the activity. Perseverance is a tough concept to teach to young kids but that game did it. I highly recommend that all kids and parents watch the game for a good lesson in perseverance. THANK YOU SEATTLE SEAHAWKS for showing all of us to believe in ourselves, in one’s team and not to give up when the stakes are down.

This East coast Canadian girl now has a Seahawks flag, Seahawks decal on her car, Seahawks napkins, and new Seahawks shirts for this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX.