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downtown-1This weekend was a great weekend. On Friday night, we (and the gallery) surivived our visit to the munchkin’s first art gallery. In the car on the way home she kept asking, “Why couldn’t I run in there?” Really?

Then, we drove through a freak monsoon and had dinner at Jeni’s. (You can have ice cream for dinner, right?)

We also had out-of-town family in for the weekend, and we took them to some of our new favorite places in Columbus. Every place we went this weekend was kid-friendly – as we had a two-year-old and a six-month-old with us.

We went to:

Jeni’s – Everyone loved Jeni’s ice cream, of course. And, yes we went there twice in one weekend. My new favorite flavor is Queen City Cayenne (new to me, not Jeni’s). The munchkin usually eats at least half of my ice cream, but I had to explain that this was chocolate with hot sauce, and she couldn’t try it. Her comment was, “I’ll eat hot sauce when I’m a big girl.” Yup, in our house, only the big girls eat the hot sauce. (This is a conversation we have a lot, as I put hot sauce on a lot things.)

Ying’s Teahouse and Yum-Yum in Clintoville – This is my new favorite Chinese restaurant in Columbus. Everything that we have eaten here has been amazing. Our favorites are the crab ragoon and veggie/tofu dumplings. The staff were also very nice and accomidating with the kids.

North Market’s Artisan Sunday – This was our first Artisan Sunday, and we will be back. They are the first Sunday of every month. We got cute hair scarves from Emily Kitturah-Westenhouser and an adorable apron and cupcake hat from Circa Circus. Every mom needs one of Emily’s cute hair scarves. Perfect for bad hair days.

Corner Cafe – We loved their sandwiches and their patio. It was the perfect weekend for an outdoor lunch too. We got three different sandwiches and shared them. They were all amazing. My favorite was the Fig & Proscuitto

We had a great weekend showing off our city and hanging out with our family.

[Photo credit: Columbus]

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A couple of months ago I introduced my daughter to the “For the Kids” album. It was love at first listen for her with one song – the “Hoppity Song.” Honestly, I don’t know how many I have heard that song. Probably hundreds of times now. Every time she gets into the car she says “hoppity” until I play the song. The second it finishes, she wants it again. 

Then, I finally got “For the Kids Three” from the library, and she heard O.A.R.’s version of “Itsy Bistsy Spider.” We now listen to the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” over and over again. She still asks for “hoppity,” but only after we listened to the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” a few times.

I enjoyed “For the Kids” album, but I like “For the Kids Three” better. Mostly because of the Bare Naked Ladies version of “The Other Day I Met a Bear.” I remember singing this song at camp around a campfire. The Bare Naked Ladies version is so funny. I sing along with the song at the top of my lungs and my daughter looks at me like I’m crazy. But I love that song. I’m sure one day she’ll like it too. 

Other favorites include “Sleep So Very Long” by Moby featuring Chrissi Poland, and The Submarines version of “My Darling Clementine.” This is a great album of kids music. Definitely worth a listen or two, or a few hundred of the same song over and over and over again.

Read my review of “For the Kids” here.

[Photo Credit: Album]

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Recently, I have been trying to figure out why my dishwasher smelled. It smelled like spoiled milk even after I ran it. This has been going on for a few weeks.

Then, I discovered the source of the foul oder. It was the sippy cups! I was letting my daughter drink from stinky sippy cups. Oh the mommy guilt! 

I asked another mom what was up with this. She told me that she had the same problem and her solution was to replace the sippy cups periodically. What a pain!

I did some research. I read other blogs to find out what people were saying about sippy cups and reusable bottles. 

My solution was to buy a Klean Kanteen for the munchkin, and recycle all our plastic sippy cups. I decided to buy a Klean Kanteen because the bottles are made from stainless steel, which according to their website says keeps the bottles from absorbing odors or causing drinks to taste funky. The bottles are also BPA-free. (Here is an article about plastics containing BPA. Another thing to worry about!)

Here is the Klean Kanteen review from Tree Hugging Family. The site also reviewed Sigg bottles. But according to the Sigg website, Sigg isn’t able to fill orders right now because of high demand. So, that wasn’t an option. 

The Klean Kanteen website was out of the sippy cups bottles, so I purchased the bottle from Maple Grace website.  I bought one 12 ounce bottle, which came with two convertors and two spouts. I also bought two extra spouts for good measure.  The bottle cost $17.95 and the spouts were $5.45. Yes, it was expensive. My hope is that I will never have to replace the Klean Kanteen. When she is older, we can switch from the sippy cup spouts to the sports top.

Verdict: We have been using the Klean Kanteen for one week, and so far it’s pretty good. No odors. It does keep water and milk colder than the usual sippy cup, especially when I throw a few ice cubes in. I have been handwashing it because that is what the company recommends it. The easiest way to wash the Klean Kanteen is to use the bottle brush that I used when my daughter was using bottles. 

The only downside is sometimes a little milk leaks out from the top of the bottle. It is leaking from the seal between the convertor and the spouts. 

Overall, I am happy with the purchase, and I do plan on buying another bottle so that we have two. 

[Photo Credit: Klean Kanteen]

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The Toddler Cafe by Jennifer Carden is my favorite children’s cookbook. I read several baby / toddler cookbooks when my daughter started eating solid foods last year. I never used any of the recipes because they were mostly combinations of foods – pears and cottage cheese, and the books were boring.

This book is different. It is filled with unique and interesting recipes, and good advice on feeding children. 

Now, I haven’t had the opportunity to make any of the recipes yet. Life has been completely too crazy for me to make a list, go to the grocery store, buy ingredients, and follow a recipe. After the munchkin and I finish moving and are settled in our new home, I plan on trying lots of these recipes.

So what can I tell you then? The recipes in this book look yummy and interesting. The recipes are simple and healthy. I have read the book’s introduction, and I like the author’s attitude towards eating and cooking with kids. She believes that parents need to foster a positive attitude between children and food, and that mealtime should be “fun and interactive.”

The introduction also has great ideas about how to make mealtime more creative and fun, such as telling your child that the food they are eating is their favorite character’s favorite food. 

Some recipes that I can’t wait to make are:
Lily Pad Pancakes – pancakes made with frozen peas,
Starry Night Stew – black bean and pasta stew,
Toddler Truffles – black beans truffles,
Treasure Triangles – puff pastry with black beans and bananas,
PB&J French Toast – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich dipped in egg and milk and cooked until golden brown, 
Peanut Butter Globe Globs – globs of peanut butter mixed with honey, oats, and cereal.

(Yes, we love black beans in this family. And yes, it makes for fun diapers!)

Check out this book. It has great ideas and fun recipes. It is available from the Columbus Metropolitan Library. You can also visit The Toddler Cafe blog.  I will keep you posted as to when we finally get to cook up some of these fantastic looking recipes.

[Photo Credit: Book Cover]

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Usually I don’t like music specifically for kids. Groups like the Wiggles and Barney are the worst. I have no idea why kids like them. I know I’m not their target audience, but still, parents have to listen to the kids music too.

Usually, My daughter and I listen to Bob Marley, Dave Matthews Band, or whatever else is on my computer. However, recently I did find a kids CD we both like – “For the Kids.” 

The album features music by Cake, Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, Tom Waits and others. Our favorite song is “Hoppity Song” by Jonn Ondrasik. Every time we got in the car this weekend, the pumpkin said “Hop, hop,” and we listened to the song again. My favorite song is “Have a Little Fun with Me” by Glen Phillips, from Toad the Wet Sprocket.

We borrowed the album from the Columbus Metropolitan Library. There is also “For the Kids Too” and “For the Kids Three.” We have not listened to those yet, we’re still listening to the “Hoppity Song.”  

[Photo Credit: CD]

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Once a week, or at the most every other week, my daughter and I go to Great Harvest Bread Company in Upper Arlington.  

Their bread is fantastic. The secret to their bread is that they mill their whole wheat flour at their store, which makes their bread really fresh. A loaf can sit out on the counter for two weeks and still taste great. 

I buy their Honey Whole Wheat. The bread only has five ingredients in it – whole wheat flour, water, honey, yeast, and salt. The bread is great for toast and grilled cheese. We also use it for French toast on the weekends.

I have also tried other breads there, such as the Cinnamon Chip Whole Wheat bread, and they are all very good. They also sell great brownies and cookies. Basically, anything that comes from their store is terrific! 

Visiting the store is always a pleasant experience. All the employees are helpful and polite. Every time I’ve walked in the store I have been offered a slice of bread from their sample board. The slices are generous, and the munchkin loves getting to eat the slices slathered with butter as we run errands. The UA store also has a basket of toys on the floor to occupy her while I pay for our bread. Sometimes it is a little hard tearing her out of the store. 

They don’t make every kind of bread every day. Although, they do have the Honey Whole Wheat every day. Their schedule of breads changes monthly. You can pick up a copy in the store or at their website

Location: 4723 Reed Road, Upper Arlington. They also have locations in Pickerington and Newark.

Hours: Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They are closed on Sundays.

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Eating out with a toddler is difficult. It certainly isn’t a relaxing experience. When I’m feeling brave, one of my favorite restaurants in Columbus is the Starliner Diner

The Starliner Diner staff are very accommodating for folks with kids. The restaurant has a kid-friendly menu with a wide selection – everything from burritos to pasta – and an eclectic atmosphere with murals painted on the walls that gives the kids something to look at while eating. 

The food is always outstanding. My favorites are the Cheese and Jalapeno Soup and the Sweet Potato and Corn tamales. The Vegetable Caliente Pasta and BBQ Chicken Pizza are also excellent. In fact, everything I’ve ever had there is great. The prices are also good. Lunch and dinner items range in price from $5.25 to $10.25.

My daughter’s favorite meal there is the Black Beans and Rice (its not actually a meal, but a combination of two side dishes.) They do have a kids menu, but she has never ordered from it. She loves beans! The kids meals are reasonable priced from $3.25 to $4.25.

Their breakfast menu is also excellent. My breakfast recommendation is the Farmers Omelette. Get the Cuban bread for toast – it’s very good. Come early on Saturdays and Sundays, or be prepared for a bit of a wait. However, the wait is worth it.

Location: 5240 Cemetery Road, Hilliard, Ohio It’s in a small strip mall – be careful not to drive past it! 

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