Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Toddler Girl

I know it’s only a week before Christmas and this gift guide might be too late but the main reason why I’m blogging about these gift ideas is because I wanted to share some of the things we’re personally getting Cassie for the holidays and besides I know there’s a bunch of last minute shoppers out there so if you’re one of those, then this gift guide is for you.

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#1. Lil Libros Books

Not all parents may agree with me but I feel like Bilingualism is a key that opens more doors and offers a lot of opportunities for growth in different aspects of a persons life. Although Marco and I are both Filipinos and are blessed enough to have learned the English language at a young age we still feel the need to learn Spanish, the second language that is most spoken in this world (next to Chinese and its dialects). We figured it would be helpful in the line of work we’re in which is the medical field and it would be a lot easier for us to pick up since based on Philippine history, we’ve already incorporated some of those words (and even practices) into our lives.

Now they say, kids are like sponges, they absorb things quickly so I feel like now would be a best time to start introducing them to a different language. Lil Libros is the perfect series that caters to that, its a fun venue to introduce Spanish through colorful pictures and reading. In fact they’ve already started announcing their books for 2018 which includes Selena, Evita and Tres Reyes Magos (Three Wise Men) perfect for Christmas next year.

#2. ALDI Wooden Beauty Toy Set

As you can see based on this list, I’m a sucker for wooden toys and I’ve noticed that they’re specifically pricier than plastic ones probably because they last longer so it came as a pleasant surprise when Aldi launched an affordable line of wooden toys for the holidays. It’s too bad  we don’t have the entire collection here in the US but we’re lucky enough to get at least some of them.

The set comes with a tin can vanity bag where you can put your wooden brush, wooden mirror and the other accessories that come with it.

#3. Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House- Dust, Sweep, Mop

I think my daughter has picked up on my OC tendencies and she knows mommy “has to” clean up all the time so she’s been wanting to grab the broom, the mop or whatever she sees to help me clean up.

This set is a fun way to introduce your toddler to the idea of “cleaning up” , it also allows her to “help” you without having her compete over the real thing.

#4. ALDI Wooden Coffee Toy Set

I love my coffee and even now that I’m currently pregnant I still try to get it decaf. Now Cassie knows that this is a “big people” drink and people won’t normally consider this set as a good gift idea as it is promoting “coffee-drinking” which isn’t necessarily good but my daughter likes preparing my pretend-tea and my pretend-coffee and I just thought this set would be perfect for her to do that, a wooden toy version of my Keurig.

#5. Backyard Discovery Timberlake Cedar Wooden Playhouse

This play house had good reviews online and its not extremely pricey compared to the other wooden houses on the market. We got this for Cassie as her “big present” for Christmas and we specifically opted for this one because it was the cheapest one we could find, it also gives out that cozy, cabin-feel that I’ve been wanting from the start. Oh yeah, this gift is gender neutral perfect for boys or girls.

I’m thinking of painting the wooden house white some time in the future to give it that shabby chic cottage look but with this baby boy coming out soon, I don’t think Marco will be too pleased if I let him play in a shabby chic playhouse, maybe rustic but definitely not shabby chic. I guess I’ll have to play it by ear.

#6. Stainless Steel Cooking Play Set

Another perfect play set for pretend-cooking. As I mentioned earlier I love wooden toys and I know there are cute wooden cooking sets out there but wood being heavy, I feel like Cassie would be getting an “owie” if she dropped them on her foot or something. Besides the stainless steel cooking set just looks like the real thing only smaller and its light to carry around.

#7. ALDI Wooden Dollhouse

I’m not going to lie, I actually fell in love with another doll house that was recently launched by target. It is the Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Doll house , not only does it function as a toy but its the perfect decoration for your daughters room, seriously classy. It retails for $129 and can go lower if theres a sale or if you have a bunch of coupons from target. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind paying that amount for this beautiful doll house but since we’ve opted for the wooden playhouse as Cassie’s “big present” for this year that dollhouse was out of the picture.

Now this dollhouse from ALDI is not necessarily classy like the earlier one I mentioned but it is classic. It has a cute pink and white front of the house which I like because I’m not really a fan of crazy colors when it comes to doll houses and if I;m not mistaken it comes with a bunch of furniture. The best part is they’re only selling it for $39.99, how can you beat that?

#8. Little People Big Dreams Book Series

I’ve been stashing a couple of these books waiting for the perfect time t give it  to her and now that she’s a little bit over 2 and has taken a lot of interest in books, I figured Christmas would be the perfect time to give it to her. I just love the idea of this series and  its motivation for kids to dream big, I’ve also noticed that these books feature women who made differences in our society and in a sense it sends them that message of “girl power”. Start ’em young.

#9. ALDI Wooden Baking Toy Set

The last of the wooden toy set series from ALDI that I wanted to share is the baking toy set. I’ve introduced Cassie to baking a few months ago and of course she had so much fun mixing and arranging the cookie dough on the cooking sheet , since then she’s been asking me if we could bake cookies for daddy again.

In the mean time, I’m hoping this toy set would keep her distracted until the holidays are over and I can actually find time to bake with her again, for now pretend cookies it is.

#10. Babylit Books

Last but not the least is our personal favorite— books from Babylit. This is probably the first time we’re mentioning this series here on the blog but we’ve definitely talked about it on Facebook and Instagram.

This a fun way of introducing the classics to your little ones like Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, etc. through shapes, colors and counting and for Christmas you guys should check out the Nutcracker and Christmas Carol (what Cassie;s holding on the cover photo of this entry). Just recently they’ve launched their series of classic story books to cater to the older kids so click on the link to check them out. These books are definitely must-haves.

 

How about y’all? What are you getting your kids this year? I haven’t got a lot to say about boy kids just yet but hopefully next year when this little one is out, I can make a boy-gift guide as well. Hope this list somewhat helps you last minute shoppers out there.

Happy Holidays!

~Rhea

Cassie Turns Two: Taco TWOsday

I can’t believe our little baby turned two already. Before Marco and I started planning her birthday celebration, I already knew I wanted to make her a mini dessert table even if we weren’t throwing her a birthday party just to make her feel special. Its only been 4 months since we moved here in Muncie and I haven’t been exactly little Miss Congeniality so we didn’t really have any close friends to invite and I wasn’t too comfortable inviting the neighbors kids since we barely knew them and they were mostly older than Cassie.

At the end of the discussion we both decided that we’d still go to Great Wolf Lodge for Cassie’s birthday trip but we’d still throw a party, sorta like our late house warming/ mini birthday party for her and invite family and Marco’s co-residents (a plus if they had kids, haha). I figured that since we were doing a party anyway might as well come up with a theme and I instantly fell in love with the idea of a fiesta—its fun, its colorful and Mexican food is good and so convenient (or so I thought). Here I was planning a dessert table, I had no idea my husband was planning to cook the entire menu so this party ended up being a LOT of work. We did another Marco-Rhea teamwork and pulled it off.

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I know it isn’t so clear in the photo but the “CASSIE” sign was a last minute DIY project I did a few hours before the party. I covered it with green cut out crepe paper and added some pink mini flowers so they could like like mini cacti.

It was also my first time DIY-ing giant paper flowers and I even used construction paper because I was on a budget but I’m glad they turned out pretty okay. I just made them in different colors so they could go with fiesta theme.

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The fiesta inspired table cover I purchased from Amazon, and I’ve attached the link if anyone is interested. Just a heads up, this isn’t made with fabric but with plastic instead.

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We weren’t really sure if any kids were going to show up but I prepared a few goodie bags anyway. I bought those small bags from the dollar store, filled it up with some candies and small maracas, wrapped it in colorful wrapping paper and cut out some “thank you tacos” I printed out.

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I didn’t know where to get my cake, cupcakes and sugar cookies so I asked mamas in our local mom group and I’m so glad they pointed me out to Simply Patisserie. Chef Maggie made an awesome job making Cassie’s taco cake, flower and cactus cupcakes and taco, cactus and sombrero sugar cookies. You should them see for yourself.

Anyone here in local Muncie looking for a place to get their cakes and pastries I personally recommend Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie and her rates are pretty reasonable. Just click the link above.

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Most of the stuff on the dessert table were from Dollar Tree— the colorful plastic bowls, the purple vases and the bright colored faux flowers. Also on the table you can spot my DIY Taco Piñata, I figured since I made one for her first birthday might as well make her one this year and just make it into a birthday tradition.

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DIY Taco Pinata Details up close

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to make her do a smash cake so I decorated her high chair just in case. I kept it simple by cutting various sizes of different colored crepe paper and I hung it around her tray. I also purchased a giant cactus ballon from Amazon…I mean why not?

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We ended up not doing a smash cake, she decided to pick a cupcake and eat it on her fiesta decorated high chair. Fair enough.

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Of course I had to somewhat decorate the dining area, I figured since Marco wanted to go all out on food, I could do a little bit more on the decorations. Haha.

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Literally everything you see on this table Marco cooked/baked/prepared, I just assisted him (a little bit).

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Here’s Cassie blowing her candles.

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Yay, we actually had a bunch of kids come to her party. She had fun playing with them even if most of them were boys. 😀

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For someone who hasn’t made a lot of friends yet here in Muncie, she still ended up getting a bunch of presents. Thanks to all our family and friends local and overseas for spoiling our little girl on her birthday and making her feel special.

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Last but not the least, here’s a selfie from me and the birthday girl just coz we were twinning. Hope y’all had a wonderful time going through the details of Cassie’s fiesta themed party, thanks for allowing me to share this with you. If anyone of you is throwing a fiesta themed party and is needing some help with DIYs or decorating or maybe you just have a few questions for me, just comment or shoot me an email I’d gladly help in anyway I can.

~Rhea

 

Fall Haul: Once Upon a Child

Back in Texas, my cousin who knew that I enjoyed dressing up Cassie asked if I’ve been to a Once Upon a Child branch,  I told her that I’ve heard some ads on the radio but I’ve never been to one since we weren’t fortunate enough to live close to any of the branches. For those who haven’t heard of Once Upon a Child, it’s a chain that buys and sells second hand children’s items from clothes to shoes to toys; think of it as a Plato’s Closet for kids.

When we moved here to Indiana, guess what just happened to be 8 minutes away from our new home—yep, a Once Upon a Child. I love planning Cassie’s outfits especially when we’re about to change seasons but it doesn’t mean that I have to burn holes in my pockets. So, I’ve started getting her things for autumn; floral falls, nudes, camels, tangerine, mustards.

Here are some of my Once Upon a Child finds, mostly name brands for a fraction of the price.

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Old Navy Bunny/Floral Dress with Old Navy Denim Jeans (under the dress)- $6.50 for both

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Old Navy Cream Button Top- $3.50

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Zara Autumn Floral Dress- $10.00

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Baby Gap Sweater- $7.50

Garanimals cream white jeggings- $2.50

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Osh Kosh Genuine Kids vest- $3.50

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3/4 sleeves checkered button up blouse- $2.50

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Cream Old Navy Rubber soles Moccasins-$4.50

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Wool Felt Tangerine Toddler Bowler Hat- $2.50

 

Muncie Local: Water Bowl

Here’s another attempt to explore Muncie and see what it has to offer. For the past few days I’ve been craving for Vitamin Sea and I’m almost positive there isn’t a legit beach close by so I started googling swimming holes, public pools or lakes within the area and after a good while I finally came across Water Bowl. I’m surprised it’s not one of the first few things that came out in Google search considering that this place has been here for awhile (since 1970). Let’s just say I found a local commercial for this place on youtube from 1988…that’s just 2 years after I was born and on there they say…

“Come Join us here in Water Bowl, the hottest place in Muncie”

And it did seem very enticing, possibly “the place to be” in the late 80s to early 90s but I guess the hype eventually died down maybe due to people getting tired of it, or bad marketing strategy or there wasn’t enough publicity, maybe there was a change of management or it lacked maintenance…one can only speculate but it’s still there, its open, they still have events once in awhile and its been running all these years so in a way they must be doing something right. I was just a bit surprised that there were only a few people there considering that it was still summer.

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Online they have a good rating of 4+ stars and to be honest, the place was actually pretty good. Come to think of it I was pleased that it wasn’t packed, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a disliking for super crowded places, I don’t know of its my age showing. Haha.

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There were lounging areas surrounding the swim area and they didn’t charge for those so you could occupy as much chairs and tables as you wanted, I guess they’re banking on people being considerate of one another. Admission was reasonable too, here are the current rates from their FB page.

Admission Prices for Fishing and Swimming
$5.50 per Adult
$2.00 per Child (13 and under)
Children under 3 are FREE

Camping Prices
$10.00 per Adult
$5.00 per child (13 and under)
3 and under are FREE

Season Pass Pricing
Single Pass $150.00
Family 4 Pass $250.00

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Pregnant mama concealing her bump. 😀

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The main area and the snack shack.

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The sand there was pretty okay but it could still be a lot better if they imposed rules like “no pets”, “no eating” and “no smoking” close to the swimming area (or maybe they had them but weren’t strict enough to reinforce them). I noticed 2 cigarette butts close to where we were hanging out (i’m sure you’ll see at least one if you stare at this photo) and a woman got away with not throwing her burger wrapper which eventually flew into the water and I had to pick it up. The swing area had one dog poop probably because they allowed pets within the vicinity.

I’d be more confident to have my baby play on the sand and build sand castles if they paid more attention to cleanliness. In my opinion, the water was pretty clean though.

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Me with my mini-me

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The pirate ship was a pretty cool attraction for kids but it wasn’t running when we were there. The slides are supposedly water slides, I could tell based on the holes on top of the slides. She still had fun playing on the ship though.

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Oh yeah, they have fishes swimming by the shore and these are the small ones so if you wiggle your toes they come closer thinking its bait or worm. I think if you go further down you can even fish. I saw a boy with his fishing pole and he caught a fish twice the size of my hand.

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To those interested to visit Water Bowl, here’s the

Address to Google: 6811 North Old State Road 3 Muncie, Indiana

Those who use Waze, I suggest you use Google Maps for this place because Waze hasn’t updated their map and I got lost twice, It kept making me miss a turn and I had to drive 15 minutes more when it recalculated.

But to sum it all up, it was a fairly good experience, a perfectly relaxing day for me, Marie and Cassie. If the weather is right and you should happen to be in the area, make sure to drop by.

~Rhea

Muncie Local: Moore-Youse House Museum

The first time people found out that we were eventually moving to Muncie, Indiana for Marco’s new job, they were all like “Where is that? or “What’s there?”. A handful of people have heard of the place but for the majority they probably think its in the middle of nowhere (although our common go-to phrase has been “its 50 minutes away from Indianapolis” and its worked out just fine). Contrary to popular belief, Muncie isn’t as small as you think and I have heard of 2 famous people from this side of town (Woaaahhh) so I think that should count as something right? There’s David Letterman, the late night talk show host and Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield and if you still haven’t heard of any of the two that I mentioned then….I guess you google them. haha.

Usually when we travel, Marco and I take it as a challenge to find out what’s good about the place. He usually searches for good food places and hole-in-the-walls while I try to see the “Things to do” in the area which usually involves museums, art galleries, vineyards, parks, zoos, places that are more or less baby friendly since we’ve had Cassie. It’s no surprise that I’m treating Muncie similar to a place of travel, I guess you could say I’m trying to get to know the place, right?

So for our first stop, the Moore-Youse Home Museum.

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From my understanding, this home is said to be the oldest standing house in Downtown Muncie. It was built around the 1860s and was family owned for years until it was donated to the Delaware County Historical Society in 1982. The hours open vary depending on which website you happen to stumble upon so I suggest that you call 765-282-1150 to confirm. They also carry different information concerning the admission prices, some will say $2/ person (which isn’t much, really) while other websites will say its free of charge and donations are appreciated. Personally, during our visit they didn’t charge us anything for admission but we made sure to provide a generous donation.

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The room to the right, as soon as you enter, contained pieces of artwork and posters from a local artist named Eugene Mumaw. I understand that this was a temporary exhibit and I’d have to say that I enjoyed it immensely as he was the man behind the local theater’s historic posters for 30 years.

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Upstairs, two rooms were restored and allowed for viewing and I was pretty excited to see how they set up the place. The thing I love with house museums is the idea of getting a chance to peer into how these people lived their lives in the past, of course a good imagination is somewhat required but the environment or room, rather contributes a lot. They showcased the master bedroom and the children’s bedroom.

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I found the children’s bedroom very intriguing and rather creepy (although I am a big fan of “creepy”) because it had a good amount of eerily placed dolls all over the room as you can see for yourself. I’m pretty sure my brother Paulo would have freaked out, he’s such a big baby when it comes to dolls and clowns.

After taking time to check out the little vintage bits and baubles they had in the second floor, we headed back to the first floor to check the last room that we haven’t been into.

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An assortment of historical displays from US naval uniforms to intricate hand sewn/ embroidered dresses and accessories.

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As for the museum being kid-friendly, let’s just say my one and a half year old survived the place, older kids would do fine too as long as they don’t do anything crazy like jumping on the vintage beds and breaking the antique items they have on display as these items are very accessible. For tweens and teens, there is a chance for them to find this place very interesting, and its not really an extensive look-back into history so I doubt they would even find the time find it boring.

If you happen to be in town, I suggest you come by and visit this house museum. Here’s the address to type in your GPS:

122 E Washington St, Muncie, IN 47305

Enjoy!

~Rhea