Subscribe to UltimateMama Subscribe to UltimateMama's comments

UltimateMama and her kids thought Greece was the perfect blend of education and relaxation.  Although it was extremely hot in early June at 95 degree F, Athens was an absolute delight of a city.  A few tips to enjoy Athens with kids:

-Stay at the Hotel Grande Bretagne as it is central to everything.  The rooftop pool is perfect for a late afternoon dip and the spa/indoor pool is truly a pleasure.  In the evening hours one has a wonderful view of the Acropolis lit up from the hotel’s lovely restaurant.  The Syntagma Square was ideal for touring, eating, and catching the underground subway.

-Stroll the National Gardens, right in Syntagma Square!

-Have a quick lunch at Kosmikon in the Plaka area (and grab some inexpensive souvenirs afterwards).

-Watch the changing of the guards across the street at the Parliament Building (in Syntagma Square). Just make sure you ask your hotel for the exact times.

-For dinner visit Erato restaurant café in the Plaka area and then browse the silver jewelry in the Monastiraki flea market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Visit the Acropolis Museum BEFORE touring the Acropolis.  Grab a kids guide scavenger hunt to keep your children engaged!

-If you need a great kebab place try Thanasis in the Monastiraki which is near the Plaka area

-Near the Acropolis at an outdoor booth window purchase a 5 day special ticket for 30 Euro for adults (as of June 2018) which includes admission to must visit locations such as: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis

-Arrange a guided tour of the Acropolis through Context Travel, including the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Agora.  UltimateMama’s kids enjoyed the “Acropolis for Families: Drama and Sacrifice in Ancient Athens” 3 hour long tour. The tour begins with a visit to the theater of Dionysus on the south slope of the Acropolis and goes from there!

-Have dinner in Kolonaki at OIKEIO which was a superb, traditional Greek food experience with home style cooking at the address: Ploutarchou 15

-Visit and tour the stadium of the first modern Olympic games, the Panathenaic Stadium and be amazed at all the beautiful marble that was used in its creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Walk around the War Museum in Athens and see the collection.

-UltimateMama was rushed for time so briefly visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum

-A favorite dinner spot was in Kolonaki at Barbounaki which was a traditional fish tavern. Definitely a must do!

-Take the cable car to Mount Lycabettus which is the highest hill in Athens (the gift shop at the bottom was a nice surprise as was the restaurant at the top which we didn’t try but were tempted).

-Walk around the Temple of Olympian Zeus in central Athens, a spectacular temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Head to an Italian dinner in Kolonaki at Malconi’s which has a chic and trendy vibe.

Share

UltimateMama and her family have lots of visitors all summer long.  As hosts it is always the goal to make a great impression, however, we all want to enjoy the day too!  A quick and easy dessert that looks fancy but takes no time at all is the classic sundae. Sundaes look a bit more decadent compared to ice cream cones but basically have all the components.  Best of all, they can be made ahead of time and stored in your freezer.  Here’s what you need:

Waffle Bowls (Joy makes good ones)

Sprinkles (Betty Crocker never disappoints)

Chocolate Sauce (love anything by Ghiradelli)

Ice Cream (Breyers is consistently good)

For those who don’t want to waffle bowl experience UltimateMama and her girls love making sundaes in depression glass sherbet desert bowls (blue bowls are our favorite color for summer fun)!


 

 

Share

UltimateMama’s children get tempted each and every time they walk past a donut shop.  The smell of the sweet, greasy treat just fills their hearts with joy.  Not wanting them to miss out, UltimateMama purchased the Babycakes nonstick coated donut maker and the kids have been creating all sorts of sweet and somewhat healthy, not fried donut varieties.

Many donut recipes can be found online or in cookbooks, however, UltimateMama has cut down on time by using pancake mix, waffle mix, muffin mix, cake mix, and even splurged recently with a mix from Sur La Table.


Share

UltimateMama and her family hit Costa Rica in March and did a terrific day trip to Nicaragua as well.  Perfect weather, ideal scenery, and terrific food made for a great vacation for all in Central America.

A few tips:

-Stay at the Andaz Costa Rica hotel in Guanacaste and make sure you get the breakfast included in your room rate as it is expansive and delicious (monkeys even stop to take notice).

-Take advantage of the kayaks and paddleboards at the hotel’s private beach which you can reach by shuttle bus.  UltimateMama and her two kids even hit the Nature Center Papagayo Explorers Club.

-Use Tropical Comfort Tours through the Andaz to book excursions.  The Buena Vista Extreme trip didn’t disappoint with zip lining, the longest waterslide in Costa Rica, horseback riding, mud baths, hot springs, and lunch.  All near the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park.

-Look into Tropical Comfort’s day trip to Nicaragua where one can take in breakfast, Lake Apoyo (a crater lake), Mombacho Volcano, Masaya Volcano National Park (active volcano), a carriage ride in Granada, and a boat ride on Lake Nicaragua.  The Garden Café was delightful for lunch and included Thousand Cranes, a great shop for local crafts and goods.

Pura vida!

Share

UltimateMama and her girls enjoy getting everyone who walks through their door into the holiday spirit through decorations. A clever way to re-use a small metal Christmas tree is to add Easter eggs to it!  Any remaining eggs could spruce up the otherwise boring base.  Quick, easy, inexpensive, and incredibly pleasing to the eye!


Share

Your child, your caregiver, and the internet: Setting house rules about online safety

By Kristen J. Duca

03-01-18 Manhattan Family Internet article by Kristen

Everywhere you turn, you hear debates surrounding kids and technology usage. Every family has different rules and boundaries relating to technology, but most agree that technology is not going away, and it is best to teach our kids how to navigate it safely early on.

The internet has amazing advantages as it relates to children who explore it in a safe manner. Numerous creative, user-friendly, inexpensive (sometimes FREE!), and unique websites exist for children to gain expertise in certain areas, explore new territories, or further their education in specific subjects. Today’s children can use the internet to do everything from honing their culinary skills to exploring countries across the globe to learning another language to perfecting their math facts.

However, parents are not always around to patrol their child’s usage of technology, and the policing inevitably falls into the hands of caregivers. It is a terrific idea to clearly communicate your expectations surrounding technology in your household upfront to both your caregiver and your child. A few house rules to think about as your child navigates the internet include:

• Do not download attachments or install software without the supervision of an adult.

• Do not agree to meet with people you interact with online.

• If you notice anything online that makes you uncomfortable, bring it to the attention of an adult.

• If someone asks to meet you in person, ignore the request and alert an adult immediately.

• Never give out any personal information or details about yourself, family members, or friends (including name, address, phone numbers, age, school, camp, extracurriculars, teams, photos, or passwords).

• If you use a public computer, make sure you log out of all accounts you accessed during the session.

• Be careful of any screen names you create and make sure these names do not include any of your personal information such as your first or last names.

• Do not compromise other people’s online work or accounts.

• Do not bully, gossip, or post anything inappropriate about anyone online.

• Be mindful of your tone if you post online comments.

• Never post your image or personal video clips online (those of your friends, family members, and acquaintances are off limits as well).

• Beware of minimum age limits on many social media websites and respect them.

• Avoid clicking online ads and pop-up ads, as they can contain viruses or expect you to provide your personal contact information.

• Understand that not everything you read online is true or accurate, and if you are conducting school research online, you should ask an adult (teacher, librarian, or guardian) for respectable websites to use.

• Limit your usage of the internet and be aware that spending time in person with friends or family members is the best way for you to socialize.

• When in doubt, grab an adult for guidance, advice, and supervision.

Whether you print a list of rules and post it to your refrigerator, or create a technology contract signed by all (you, your child, and your caregiver), you will want to be forthcoming about the importance of online safety. Clearly state to your caregiver that your end goal is to make sure your child is protected when he is online under her supervision while you are not present.

You may also want to make it clear to the caregiver that you do not want any personal information or images about your family posted online in any capacity for privacy concerns. Additionally, if your child brings a friend home, you should tell your caregiver that you expect her to relay your house rules regarding technology to him so everyone is on the same page.

Bottom line: it is important that parents and caregivers work together to teach children about safety and responsibility as it relates to technology. Remember, technology will be a big part of our children’s lives for years to come!

Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls in New York City. She has served as a contributing writer for New York Parenting and Long Island Special Child magazines, and she’s author of “Ultimate Nanny: How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny,” which is available on amazon.com. She blogs at ultimatemama.com.

Posted 12:00 am, March 3, 2018

03-01-18 Manhattan Family Internet article by Kristen

https://www.nyparenting.com/stories/2018/3/communicating-to-child-caregiver-internet-rules-2018-03.html

Share

We really can get inspiration from our kid chefs.  UltimateMama is not one to give her children dessert after dinner each night.  Moreover, due to her crazy schedule she doesn’t always have the typical ingredients to make a dessert at her disposal.  However, she is not one to deprive her children of a tasty treat when they have the vision.  Recently, much to her delight, her kids created a quick, easy, and delicious dessert treat using only 3 ingredients:

Kellogg’s Eggo Minis waffles

Blueberries

Whipped Cream

To create:  toast the mini waffles, put a dollop of whipped cream (or yogurt for a healthier version) on top, and sprinkle blueberries to garnish!


 

Share

UltimateMama NEVER runs out of wrapping paper and she NEVER pays full price for wrapping paper. Her secret?  UltimateMama peruses store aisles the first few weeks in January and buys all of her wrapping paper for the year at 75% off (plus).  Of course she picks cute patterns for next holiday season but also she buys solid colors that happen to be on sale (greens, reds, silvers, golds) that she uses all year long for birthday, anniversary, housewarming, graduation, and other gifts.  She adds fun, seasonal ribbon and nobody ever knows that she paid less than $1.50 a roll for 80 sq ft of quality wrapping paper at CVS.  Hit your local drugstore, card store, or big box retail store now!


 

Share

Over the weekend UltimateMama and her two little ones made beautiful holiday ribbon trees that are the talk of the town (or at least the small beach village).  These inexpensive tabletop trees are keepsakes for years to come and ideal centerpieces for your holiday table.  The ribbon trees only required the following:

– various types of thin ribbon (which can be poked through easily with a straight pin) with a width of at least 7/8 inches and cut into 4 inch pieces

– one longer piece of ribbon at least 5/8 inches in width that will fit along the base of your tree (to cover the white of the cone)

– one Styrofoam cone in any size you wish (you can purchase at Michaels) but UltimateMama likes at least 14 inch cones

– a package of straight pins

To assemble:

Cut the longer piece of ribbon to fit along the bottom/base (widest part) of your tree and secure it with straight pins (overlap the ends). Start with one piece of your ribbon and fold it in half and pin it with 2 pins at the top of the cone. Leave 1/4 inch of the ribbon dropping off the edge.  Continue to fold each piece of ribbon and pin these pieces of ribbon right next to each other along the cone. Pat yourself on the back after you have completed a row.  When you start a new row make sure you add the ribbon about an inch above the prior row and start pinning the ribbon in between 2 “bottom layer” ribbons. Make sure the cone is covered with ribbon and no whiteness of the cone is showing. Fold each 4 inch ribbon piece and pin with 2 pins until the row is complete. Then start the next row..and on and on! At the top you can wrap a piece of ribbon around the top or make a creative star.

This ribbon tree is a great holiday gift as well!  You can custom make it to your recipient’s tastes by selecting ribbons with their favorite color or pattern!


 

 

Share

UltimateMama and her kids enjoy entertaining around the holidays.  From Halloween through New Year’s Day the family kitchen is bustling with excitement.  Each year, new creations are tried and tested. This year’s winner is an easy appetizer turkey that the kids can make a few hours before your party or gathering.  It is a real crowd pleaser as it looks beautiful and tastes great too.  What you need:

– Crackers of your choosing (we used a combination of Ritz and Pretzel Crackers)

– Cheese of your choosing (we used thinly sliced Cheddar and Monterey Jack but any cheese will do–just cut it to fit your platter)

-2 blueberries for the eyes (or olives or peppercorns)

– Thinly sliced salami cut into circles (or pepperoni)

-Two toothpicks for the legs

To make–just let your creative juices run wild and experiment!  You may want to use the meat for the turkey’s face and save a larger slice of cheese for the turkey’s body!


Share