Subscribe to UltimateMama Subscribe to UltimateMama's comments

UltimateMama and her kids love to make colorful fruit pops all year round.  UltimateMama’s three ingredient ice pops are simple and healthy. Here’s how you make this simple recipe for kids:

2 cups of cleaned and strained raspberries (or strawberries)

4 kiwi (peeled and cut into cubes)

1 cup of orange juice, you can add more if needed (or pineapple juice)

Puree all of the fruit and place into three separate bowls.  Fill your popsicle containers with the pureed raspberries by carefully pouring the fruit into the mold then freeze for about 45 to 60 minutes.  Pour the pureed kiwi on top and freeze for another 45 to 60 minutes.  Top off with the orange juice then cover with the popsicle lid/sticks and freeze until solid.  Remove and enjoy your 4 fruit pops!

UltimateMama was bummed when one of her daughters was a bit sick on vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April (which is an ideal month to travel to that region). Destined to have a terrific vacation, UltimateMama had to alter her plans and create a kinder, gentler itinerary that was still fun and adventure filled. Ultimately, the trip was one of the best as UltimateMama combined light exercise and adventure with amusement park fun.  Make sure you research the National Parks website to see what is open during your visit.  A few tips:

-Fly into Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS)

-Stay at the Park Vista which has a fun pool, nice breakfast, and gorgeous setting

-Eat at The Park Grill in Gatlinburg which is a family friendly restaurant with a huge menu that will satisfy all appetites

-Visit Sugarlands Visitor Center which is part of the National Park Service and pick up some maps and souvenirs

-Hike to a waterfall called Cataract Falls which is a hidden gem and easy for all ages and great for pictures

-Drive over to Clingmans Dome Hike near the North Carolina – Tennessee boundary to explore the Appalachian Trail and learn that the Dome is the trail’s highest point at 6,643 feet (there was even snow when we visited in April)

-Visit Dollywood to let off some steam, ride roller coasters, catch some nature related shows, and make ornaments at Mountain Blown Glass

Krakow, Poland is an amazing city for kids as it is culturally rich, easily accessible, and vibrant.  From the sites to the Vistula (Wisla) River to the cuisine, Krakow offers something for everyone no matter what age.  A few family friendly tips when visiting Krakow:

-Stay at the Sheraton Grand Krakow and take advantage of their amazing buffet breakfast each morning and indoor pool each afternoon. The hotel is a 10 minute walk to the old town or market square and a hop, skip and a jump to the Wawel Castle.

-Visit the Wawel Castle and hit the Dragon’s Den too. Read the legend of the dragon to your kids before you go. Climb to see the Zygmunt Bell too

-Go shopping in Old Town at Krakow’s Main Market or Rynek Glowny Central Square and buy some beautiful foil Christmas Nativity scenes; see The Church of St. Mary too

-Walk the Royal Route of Ulica Florianska and hit a few stores along the way

-Do a half day trip via taxi to the Wieliczka salt mine and experience beautiful chapels and creations but make sure to bring a fleece and wear long pants as it is COLD and watch some lick the walls

-Learn about World War II at the Oskar Shindler factory museum

-Walk around the Jewish district of Kazimierz

-Explore Jagiellonian University which is Krakow’s oldest and boasts Nicholas Coperincus as an alum

-Have a delicious traditional Polish meal at Chlopskie Jadlo

-Search for paczki (Polish donuts) or Lody (ice cream) afterwards

Barcelona, Spain is one of UltimateMama’s favorite cities!  So much to see and do and family friendly too.  A few tips for enjoying Barcelona with the kids:

-Stay at the Hotel Arts – excellent pool, great staff, and walkable to the beach

-Visit Casa Mila or La Pedrera – UltimateMama feels the whatever day/whatever time online ticket option is well worth it to see Gaudi’s creations

-Stop at Casa Batllo – more Gaudi for the family and a great gift shop too (buy tickets online in advance)

-Tour the Segrada Familia – breathtaking Gaudi basilica that is hands down UltimateMama’s favorite place in Barcelona (buy tickets online in advance)

-Hit Park Guell – nothing better than an outside Gaudi masterpiece (buy tickets online in advance)

-Explore the Picasso Museum – such a pristine environment for the artist’s works and the gift shop earrings are so beautiful (buy tickets online in advance)

-See the animals at the Barcelona Zoo – a nice way for the kids to let off some steam too

-Take a train to Figueres to see the Dali Museum – one of the highlights of our trip buy tickets online in advance)

-Get a delicious fruit drink at the La Boqueria off of La Rambla – maybe purchase some chocolate strawberries, meats, and cheeses too

-See the Mercat Santa Caterina too – another beautiful display of edible delights


In terms of restaurants, UltimateMama suggests the following:

Cal Pep – if you don’t have a reservation you can wait a bit to eat tapas at the bar while talking to the chefs.

Gocce di latte for gelato — go after Cal Pep (in Gothic Quarter)

El Cangrejo Loco was walkable from Hotel Arts and offers some of the best seafood paella in the city (make a reservation)

UltimateMama and her family ventured to Newport, Rhode Island for some rest and relaxation this summer.  Although we had a short time to tour the city we made the most of it and had an amazing few days!

A few tips for a family friendly trip to Newport:

-Stay at Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina on Goat Island.  Although you will want to take advantage of their shuttle service to enjoy the shops and restaurants in downtown Newport unless you want to drive and park.

-Have dinner at Scarpetta restaurant at Gurney’s. Great Italian food for all.

-Have some chowder at The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf.  Best chowder ever!

-Try to finish an Awful Awful ice cream drink at Newport Creamery.

-Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame. See the fun grass court.

-Hit the fun arcade at Ryan’s Family Amusement.

-Make a few glass paperweights or ornaments at Thames Glass.  They can ship them to your residence!

-Do the Cliff Walk to see beautiful mansions and walk the 40 Steps.  A must for all visitors to Newport.

Have a restful trip!

Internet Safety/Supervision and Your Caregiver’s Role

By Kristen J. Duca

Sept17-InternetSafetyArticle-SI Parent-KDuca

As a parent you should make sure your childcare provider supervises your children at all times, no matter their age. Additionally, if you allow technology around your children it is critical that you stress the importance of your childcare provider being nearby to monitor the usage.

Children of all ages need adult supervision, and that is what you are paying a childcare provider for each day. Tell the childcare provider that it is unacceptable for her to leave your child unsupervised. One quick lapse of judgment may result in harmful consequences. Children can be very quick. The caregiver needs to exercise good judgment and make sure she watches your child at all times.

It is also important to note that you will want to communicate to the caregiver the importance of supervising all online or Internet communications. If the older child has to finish a homework assignment, the caregiver should carefully monitor the child’s progress and make sure he or she does not veer to an unsafe or inappropriate website.  Internet safety tips for both your caregiver and your children may include the following:

  • Never share personal information (the child should not share his or her name, age, address, phone number, e-mail, pictures, gender, activities, clubs, or school online).
  • Do not share log-in details or passwords.
  • Do not click on pop-ups (especially inappropriate messages, pictures, and advertisements).
  • Understand that once something is posted online it will not go away (including comments, pictures, and so on). So it is important to resist the temptation of posting online as things may come back to haunt the child (innocent or not).
  • Know that not everything one reads online is true.
  • Realize that when in doubt or danger in an online capacity, the child should always ask an adult for assistance.
  • Be respectful online, and be mindful of cyberbullying, unpleasant tone, and gossip.
  • Never arrange to meet online “friends” in person, as the child could be put in a highly dangerous situation.

Your caregiver should also realize that the Internet is a powerful tool, and never post pictures, messages, or comments about your family online. Communicate that you want your family’s privacy respected and not to mix your family’s personal business with social media interests.

Obviously, there are many advantages of the Internet, but it is important to teach your child and remind your caregiver to avoid the pitfalls.

If your family is comfortable with the caregiver and child using the Internet together, perhaps suggest they work on a long-term project that the whole family can enjoy. One idea is to have them take digital pictures of the child’s old art projects and create a photo album of the artwork that can be printed and ordered as a keepsake. Another idea is to gather all of the child’s favorite recipes and create a family cookbook.

Using technology can be educational, valuable, and fun… long as it is done in a safe manner!

By Kristen Duca, author of “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on  Kristen and her husband are the parents of two girls in New York City. She blogs at

Sept17-InternetSafetyArticle-SI Parent-KDuca