Home, Non-seasonal

Clean Home? Now Do This Before Guests Arrive!

If you follow, perhaps you have visited the 2019 Spring Cleaning series where I feature some brands who I discuss in spring topics. We discussed cleaning, clean air and home safety. How did you get organized and clean this spring? If you are like me, a home is never truly clean unless it smells clean too! This is why there is one thing I do after I tackle a room in my home and get it organized and wiped down.

I burn my favorite scents! I have essential oil diffusers in a few rooms, but for the best aromas and to get that ‘clean home‘ feeling I burn candles. If you love candles too you know that a Yankee Candle has scents that cover your home with such great smells and they last burn after burn. Now, Yankee Candle is getting personal with their candles for your home or gifting.

You can now design your own candle and they arrive fast and so well done. I chose a candle design with spring colors and put a message because this candle I burn after the house is clean and especially before any guests we may have arrive. I always get compliments when I burn a Yankee Candle. Our friends and family smell it right away when they walk in.

I find pleasant scents like florals or citrus that I know most will find pleasant. This candle choice is my favorite, it is Magnolia & Lily! This is the large, square 2-wick candle.

When you personalize your own candle you choose the candle type (size), message/image, label and scent. Ours reads, “Welcome to our home – Sluka Family”. This is for our guests and I will either set it on the entryway table or on the kitchen island and light around 30 minutes before guests are arriving.

When you are done putting in the elbow grease and organizing work into your home, sit back and relax with your favorite scents from Yankee Candle. Nothing says clean like breathing your favorite scents before the family races through and messes you all up again!

Keep in mind, with Father’s Day and Graduation here these make great gifts! What a fun way to put memories together with your favorite scent and gift!

Design your Yankee Candle

Non-seasonal, Parenting, Summer, Tips and Tricks, Travel

Helpful Packing Tips When Traveling with Small Children

I hope you get the chance to travel together this summer, locally or abroad. These tips are great for flights or day trips and even a night at Grandma’s when traveling with small children. Safe travels!

Buy the RIGHT luggage

The fun monkey head suitcase is adorable, but I hate to tell you that many children luggage brands are not practical. Don’t get me wrong, there is a brand or two out there that does children’s travel cases well, but I ditched the cute stuff years ago with our 10 year old because I needed to fit more and stay organized with it all.

What do I use? We happen to use the Expanse Wheeled Duffel Carry ON by Eagle Creek. I use an Eagle Creek wheelie myself as well as the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter On Board toiletry bag. Shout out to Eagle Creek in this post, they seriously do a great job with their bags and I recommend them for you and the kids!

Use Ziploc Bags for Clothing

I’ll never forget the look I got from my Mom when I dropped my son off for a stay with her years ago and as we opened the suitcase she saw my gallon Ziploc bag packing job. But, let me say that when I picked him up, they were all neatly re-stacked and refilled, dirty inside.

As I pack, I lay the bottoms, shirt, socks, underwear (in that layered order), fold all together in one set and put in a gallon ziploc and seal with air released. Put it in his duffel and repeat for all outfits. It is not only a folding space saver where I can stack many outfits neatly, but it is a time saver every morning. I (or whomever he is visiting and now himself) can grab a bag and head to get changed. It is all there. He shoves his dirty clothes back in, presses and seals. Smelly clothes are sealed and stay away from clean clothes and repacking to leave is so easy! Try it!

1 Bag + 1 Blanket + 1 Present

This is what comes on planes with us to the seat. I have one small backpack (bright colored so you can spot them if they get ahead of you) that he can wear and help me carry less with his snacks, entertainment, headphones and a small (noiseless) toy when younger. Now it is a tablet, his phone, book and chargers plus snacks. He carries his blanket and I always have a gift when he was younger to make the ride start off pleasant. The last one I bought him was a Pokemon neck pillow. He never took it off all flight or the next flight…..

Your Luggage Front Pocket

Chances are one of your luggage bags has that extra front pocket you never really know what to use it for. Grab 1 ‘special’ treat per child and a new thin book. Once you are done with the hassle off the plane, to a car or taxi, into a hotel lobby and finally checked in to your room you (and they) are beat! You have an urge to get organized, freshen up and plan the rest of the day and you have some exhausted kids.

Just wait for the magic as you unzip that pocket, pull out that special pick-me-up snack and quiet book(s). It will buy you some uninterrupted time. If you got in early enough a child or two may just doze off. Let them rest a moment or 2 and use that time! Then you’ll all be more relaxed, rested and ready to start your trip.

My Travel Items

Disclaimer: Thank you Eagle Creek for partnering with us on this feature. All opinions are 100% my own

Education, Kids, Non-seasonal, STEM Learning

Build and Code Your Own Tablet with Kano

What projects do you have planned with the kids this summer? We are building and coding a tablet! That’s right, we will build our very own tablet that will be touchscreen and download apps and play on it with or without a keyboard. With Kano, making your own tablet is easier than you think.

The booklet comes with easy-to-follow illustrated instructions and the parts are sturdy and brightly colored to match the illustrations as you move along and build and code your own tablet. My son had his box opened and was connecting pieces in minutes.

The best part is that they get to touch the pieces, connect the board, buttons and bits. They learn how a tablet works because they understood the reasoning to each step.

If you get stuck they have a great help section with solutions to any problem no matter how small or big.

Once the tablet is built there are a few things you can do. You can code your own games, music and art in Playground Mode. You can even hack Minecraft and do more advanced coding with real Javascript or Python.

The Story Mode app brings an in-depth look at how his computer works with challenges to complete and level up. The apps have hundreds of hours’ worth of coding challenges and games. Also, you can also download apps from the Kano app store like you would with any tablet.

To really turn their tablet into something spectacular, try the Harry Potter Coding Kit where you can build a wand, learn to code and make magic in the Harry Potter app. Available in the Kano store.

The Pixel Kit is fun as well because you get to make and code dazzling lights as well as build art and animation on a pixel box using a Kano app for help.

Deals, Kids, Non-seasonal, Seattle Area Attractions, Travel

Great Wolf Lodge Birthday Experience with Friends

The birthday party! It comes around every year for your child and is such an exciting time for them. Anthony is our youngest so for over 2 decades planning birthdays are a Sluka event! They get presents, hand us wish lists and even have friends over to celebrate.

For the first time ever with all 3 boys, Anthony came to me with a special request, “Mom? I really want to take friends to Great Wolf Lodge for my (11th) birthday in May!” Wow, son that can add up! “But, Mom I am asking for an experience and I want this instead of a big party AND instead of presents”. I actually thought this was a fantastic idea!

An experience instead of gifts and party….

We stayed in a Family Suite with an outdoor balcony which is considered a standard room at Great Wolf Lodge, They also have premium and themes rooms too. This is not our first time staying in their Family Suite and every time we go, this little nook between the beds and the couch area is a favorite spot for the boys.

We arrive about 4 and our room is ready so we unload, fuel up with snacks before heading to the water park. Anthony brought 3 friends with him on this trip. Going to Great Wolf Lodge with a buddy or sibling is a must! The Family Suite fits 6 with the sofa pull out. So, one room gets 6 people into the Water Park.

2 of the boys have never rode the Tornado Waterslide before so Anthony made sure to take them there first. All of these boys have been to Great Wolf Lodge before, but not been on some of the larger waterslides. One of them never went on it again-lol!

The fun part is waiting at the bottom to catch some fun shots as they exit the tunnels. Below is the other larger waterslide called Carbon River. Most attractions have names native to the area and we live 1 1/2 hours away from Great Wold Lodge on the (real) Carbon River.

Once they rode the waterslides several times, they head to the Chinook Cove for some water basketball and Big Foot Pass pads.

Notice my son used the ropes on the Big Foot Pass and his friend did a fast crawl across the pads!

Once they were swim(ed) out and we ate some dinner, it was time for a game of Shadow Quest. I bought all 4 boys Paw Passes and that allowed them several indoor activities at a bundled price. They got to choose a wand and for the boys who already owned and brought a wand (they are reusable for next visit) those boys got to choose fun toppers.

Choose your topper carefully, each one does different perks to up your Shadow Quest game. The game and wand/topper come with the Wolf/Paw Pass package. They wear their Paw Passes around their neck so they can have access to their activities.

Anthony’s topper he chose gives him game hints, so he stopped at one of the kiosks for a hint…..

Once you successfully find the next stop on your hunt, your symbol lights up as you point your wand. The wand activates several stations and fun animations around the hotel. This is a great game before bed because it has them running all over for several floors!

As the kids run around playing Shadow Quest, my husband and I hear music and find a dance party in the lobby and a Mai Tai station! Our Mai Tai was delicious and comes in a light up souvenier cup.

What I love about Great Wolf Lodge is that for birthdays there are a lot of fun options you can add to your stay. There is a birthday package that includes a door poster and balloons with extras as well as other packages that can include cupcakes and even pizza.

When you check out you don’t have to leave. You do need to vacate your room by 11am and get your bags in your car, but your entrance into the waterpark and other attractions lasts until closing.

2 days of swimming and Paw Pass completed! Time to go home!

We are home now, the friends are dropped off and my son is still beaming. By far, the best present he asked for in his 11 years was a Great Wolf Lodge birthday experience with friends and the memories will last a lifetime!

For tips and hacks you will want to use when visiting Great Wolf Lodge, visit this recent post.