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Posts tagged ‘best mommy blog’

Over the weekend, UltimateMama and her two children had a nice one hour shopping trip to stock up on holiday goods and craft supplies at Michaels.  Killing time as it rained on Long Island was quite easy as UltimateMama challenged her family to come up with a gorgeous holiday tablescape that was pleasing for all ages and works for either a dining or side table.  Mission accomplished with the 70% doorbuster promotions at Michaels. Best of all the total cost was under $25!  The breakdown:

Potted red poinsettia with gold foil (artificial): $6 (from $20)

Metallic garland: $3.60 (from $12)

Small champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $6 (from $20)

Large champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $7.50 (from $25)

Total cost:  $23.10

Happy Holidays!


 

 

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Was it on our bucket list?  Of course!  So, UltimateMama and her family took a quick (relatively at under 5 1/2 hours from NYC) flight to Iceland.

Day 1

After landing, UltimateMama picked up the rental car and headed directly to the Blue Lagoon for an 8 AM spa appointment against the volcanic landscape.  One must book visits in advance.  UltimateMama and her family were treated to the “Comfort” package which included:  entrance fee, silica mud masks, use of towels, and one drink per person.  Remember to take your disposable/water cameras for some fun pictures!

Next, UltimateMama drove approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to start the Golden Circle Tour!

First stop was Thingvellir National Park to see the Everyman’s Gorge between 2 continents-America and Europe as well as the Law Rock.

Second stop after a 50-60 minute drive was to the Geysir Geothermal Field to see Strokker.  UltimateMama and her group grabbed some pizza and did some souvenir shopping at the visitor’s center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third stop was a 10 minute drive to Gullfoss Falls to see the breathtaking waterfall.

Next was a 50 minute drive (in the pouring rain/sleet) to the Kerid Crater.

Finally, after a 45 minute drive UltimateMama and her family made it to lodging at the Hotel Ranga which offers outdoor hot tubs, delicious cuisine, and fabulous Northern Lights displays (if one is lucky and we were)!

Day 2

The Lava Centre, which was only a 5 minute drive from the hotel, offered a glimpse at Iceland’s active volcanoes.

Next, a 15-20 drive to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall enabled us to be fully encircled by a fabulous wonder.

Don’t miss views of Eyjafjallojokull, a glacier volcano that caused panic to air travel in 2010.

After a 10 minute dive one will reach Skogafoss Waterfall and most likely see a rainbow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another 10-15 minute drive takes one to Solheimajokull Glacier which is easily accessible to all. UltimateMama and her family really enjoyed walking on/around it. Be careful!

One can’t miss the black sand beach of Reynisfjara on Iceland’s South Coast, next to a fishing village called Vik, which is only another 25-30 minute drive. The basalt stacks are extraordinary!

Day 3

A one hour tour of the Lava Tunnel is worth one’s time if one wants to see layers of volcanic eruption.

Ægissíðufoss waterfall is a majestic site and close to Hotel Ranga too!

Day 4

Spend the day in Reykjavik before heading to the airport for departure.


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UltimateMama’s two little ones surprised her with a clever breakfast in bed funny face that put a smile on her face! Their secret ingredients:

-turkey bacon hair

-blueberry and strawberry eyes

-corn muffin nose

-scrambled egg mouth

Delicious and nutritious!

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UltimateMama and her girls love to make this refreshing summer salad for lunch guests.  It is quick, easy, delicious, and filled with nutrients.  Best of all, it is colorful as well as easy to eat poolside.

Ultimate Pineapple and Chicken Summer Salad recipe

-Fresh kale

-Pineapple chunks

-Red (or yellow) potatoes cut in chunks

-Grilled chicken cubed (UltimateMama usually uses leftovers from the prior evening)

-Balsamic vinegar

To do:  wash and dry the kale, add the rest of the ingredients, and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve in pretty summer bowls.

Optional:  Add some feta or goat cheese.

 

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After enjoying several days in Athens, UltimateMama and her family flew directly to Santorini to experience a beautiful Greek island and it did not disappoint.  A few tips for touring Santorini with kids:

– Figure out your transportation in advance. As of June 2018, UltimateMama heard there were less than 40 taxicabs on Santorini which means you will need to lock in a driver (we met a kind one at the airport–luckily) or rent a car (which UltimateMama did not do as Santorini doesn’t have many street signs or street lamps).

-Stay at the Santorini Palace Hotel in Firostefani if you have a family as it offers a great location only few meters away from the cliff of the Caldera and the panoramic view of the volcano.  The pool was excellent, as was the location (a short 10 minute walk to the capital of Santorini, the village of Fira).  Not to mention a full buffet breakfast was included with our booking which made mornings easy for all.

-Walk up the hill and grab a family photograph opportunity with one of Santorini’s most photographed chuches, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Pamper your family members with some Garra Rufa fish spa therapy at Kissing Fish in Fira.

-Grab some gelato at Crema Latte Gelato in Fira.

-Spend the day at Perivolas Beach, a black sand beach with many amenities. UltimateMama and her family loved eating sushi under beach umbrellas at Sakura.

-Visit the prehistoric town and see the excavations at Akrotiri.  UltimateMama had a guided tour that was extremely informative as we learned about the elaborate drainage system, beautiful artwork, and intricate jewelry of a settlement covered by a volcanic eruption (Thera).

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Explore a traditional village in Santorini.  UltimateMama had a guided tour of Megalochori which had beautiful bell towers and mansions.

-Watch the sunset at Oia, one of the most beautiful places in Santorini.

 

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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!

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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!


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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

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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!


 

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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!


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