Happy New Year!
We hope everyone enjoyed some sort of holiday break–whether you were just off for a day or two, or, like us, were lucky enough to have an entire 2 weeks off with your family (one of the perks of being our own boss–we set the vacation schedule. Ha!).
Now, I know there’s a big ol’ “2014” up there in the title of this post, and that things should be all about “2015” from here on out. But we didn’t want to miss out on letting you all know what we’ve been up to (and enjoying) for the past month.
So as we welcome the new year, let’s just pause to take a quick look back at all the things we were loving in December.
It was another busy media month here at Out and About Mom. December was off to great start when Mandy made her second radio “appearance” with Broadway on Country 92.5 to spread the word about our 2014 Holiday Events Guide.
Then, we were back on Better Connecticut to talk about some of our favorite FREE holiday happenings. Later in the month, we took Better Connecticut reporter Melissa Cole (and her son!) on a super fun outing to one of Stew Leonard’s toddler cooking classes at their Newington store. There was a lot of dough rolling and cookie cutting followed by frosting spreading and candy sprinkling…and the kids even managed to get some of it on the cookies! Ha! But that’s just how we roll here at Out and About Mom 🙂
Mandy and I were also lucky enough to be a part of Fox CT’s Holiday Wishes series, and we enjoyed chatting about our site with Rachel Lutzker who stopped by my house to film the segment.
At home, Mandy and I were busy celebrating the holidays with our families. We managed to blog about several new holiday destinations (like this one and this one and this one), while also making time for a few of our old favorites (like this one and this one).
Finally, Mandy and I took a rare retreat (four kid-free hours!) to reflect on our major milestones of 2014 and plan ahead for a spectacular 2015 (and we may have even had a glass of wine–with lunch! Crazy rock stars we are, right?! Ha!).
And of course, as the end of the year approached, we couldn’t help but feel so grateful for the amazing sponsors that help keep our site going. Many of them have made generous, long-term commitments to stick with us, and we can’t tell you how much it means to us to know that with their support, our site can continue to grow and improve throughout 2015.
But even more important to us are our readers. Because without you all, the site would not exist. Thank you so much for reading our posts and sharing our site with your friends and family. Despite all our media attention lately, word of mouth continues to have the most direct impact on our site’s growth. So every time you share a post or ask a friend to “like” our page, you really are making a huge difference for us! Thank you!
Like I said above, we know it’s the new year, and we couldn’t be more excited about all the fun surprises we have in store for you! But before we go racing head-on into 2015 and all those incredible things we have planned for the year ahead, let’s take one more look back at 2014 and what we were loving in December…
1. We had a fun evening at the Mandell JCC’s Kick Off to the Centennial Celebration in December. They have lots of great events planned for commemorating this landmark year, so make sure to check their website often for updates.
2. When the take-out boxes started stacking up in our kitchen last month, I knew it was time to get our meal-planning under control. So I hauled out my trusty slow cooker and scoured my bookshelves and the Internet for new slow cooker recipes I could prep during naptime. I thought we would be bored after a few days, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a huge variety of recipes and techniques for turning out yummy meals that fit my schedule. Some favorites came from this cookbook I’ve had for years (and which unfortunately seems to be out of print now). Luckily some of the recipes, like Lemon Pepper Turkey Breast, Beef and Bean Chili, Knife and Fork Barbecued Brisket Sandwiches, Vegetable and Chickpea Curry & Beef Daube Provencal, are still available online. The cookbook is also available at several local libraries, in case you are interested in checking it out. (By the way, we are now on day 15 of slow cooker meals and still loving them!)
3. Amid the onslaught of Chanukah gifts we had two clear winner’s emerge. One, this mini shopping cart from Melissa & Doug (which was actually a gift for the little guy but Boo can’t seem to get enough of it!) and two, this super cool KidKraft “Uptown Kitchen” (which for some crazy reason I thought came fully assembled–what was I thinking?! 6 hours of assembly later though, it was all worth it for those smiles).
4. We’re coming up on the 6-month anniversary of our move into the new house, and I still can’t seem to tame the mess that has resulted. So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to develop some new routines that will help me bring some order to our home. My mother-in-law introduced me to a great site called The Fly Lady and I’ve been reading up on her solutions for those of us who are living in CHAOS (or what she calls “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome”. Ha! That’s me for sure!). Then recently, Mandy sent me a link to another useful site, Home Storage Solutions 101, which happens to have a fantastic 365-day approach to clearing the clutter from your home 15 minutes at a time.
5. Mandy and I have both been anxiously awaiting the Season 5 premiere (well, at least in this country) of Downton Abbey, which aired last Sunday, January 4th on PBS. I will admit that I am still trying to catch up on the final episodes of Season 4 first though. Thank heavens for DVRs! And BTW, if you were watching on Sunday and were annoyed by the abrupt ending, Mandy found this article that helps explain the incident–you know it’s a popular series when a little glitch in the programming makes the newspaper, right?! 🙂
1. This was the first year that all three of my kids truly enjoyed the Christmas season. No one freaked out when we went to visit Santa and I couldn’t get over the look on their faces when they saw their presents under the tree. Several gifts were rather popular for my crew. Sparkles (who is almost 4) was excited about getting an Elsa doll, building blocks, and this Little Mermaid board game (a surprise hit). Bruiser (also almost 4) was ecstatic to find out that Santa heard him loud and clear and got him a remote control helicopter. He was also excited about his Hot Wheels race track and first Lego kit. Sweetheart (who is 2) is enjoying her new record player (a throwback to my childhood), a wonderful Richard Scarry book, and a few new dresses for her collection.
2. With all the shopping that happens during the month of December, I finally broke down and signed up for Amazon Prime. Not only does my subscription give me access to free 2-day shipping, free movies and books, but there is also a new feature which I am very excited about. Amazon Prime customers now have unlimited photo storage with their subscription – – a great option for storing my family photos. Time to start downloading!
3. There is a lot of busy work that happens during the month of December – wrapping presents, addressing holiday cards, etc. To keep me from getting bored of the task at hand, I like to dive into a TV series or podcast to keep my mind occupied. Well I certainly picked a couple of high-intensity areas of entertainment this past month. For TV, I began binge watching Scandal on ABC and for podcasts, I just finished listening to the series Serial from the creators of This American Life. I highly recommend both series!
4. As a GRITS (Girl Raised in The South), eating at Chick-fil-A is a common occurrence and something I’ve missed since we moved to the North East. So, when a few restaurant locations opened in Connecticut, my family and I were excited to visit. One Wednesday afternoon, we grabbed lunch at the Wallingford location and the kids played in the indoor play area while my husband and I devoured our chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and sipped on sweet tea. It was so nice to have a taste of the south nearby (and a great place for the kids to enjoy some indoor play!).
But we’re really loving our amazing sponsors!
Don’t forget to check them out too. And help spread the sponsor love. If you know friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or anyone else who might be interested in what our fabulous sponsors have to offer, please share. It’s one simple way you can help support our site and keep us “Scouting Your CT Outing.” Thanks!
CONNECTICUT CHILDREN’S MEDICAL CENTER, Hartford, CT
Connecticut Children’s is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the health and well-being of children. For the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Connecticut Children’s a top hospital in the 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.
Our top physicians and researchers are dedicated to advancing pediatric care through medical innovation and cutting-edge technology. With more than 200 pediatric residents and fellows in over 20 pediatric subspecialties, Connecticut Children’s is the primary pediatric teaching, clinical and research partner for the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Connecticut Children’s research portfolio includes nearly $20 million in active awards.
Getting kids healthy and home is our goal. And we do it every day. Do you have a Connecticut Children’s experience that you would like to share? Tell us about it.
Visit www.connecticutchildrens.org or call 860.545.9000 for more information.
FAMILY DENTAL PRACTICE OF BLOOMFIELD, Bloomfield, CT
This month, Family Dental Practice of Bloomfield shares some important Toddler Toothbrushing Tips:
- Let your child pick out his or her own toothbrush.
- Let your child see you brushing your teeth.
- Take turns. Let your toddler brush their teeth themselves once a day, and you brush their teeth once a day. This way, they have their turn AND get at least one effective brushing per day.
The office of Dr. Stephen Mason, DMD (father of 3, grandfather of 6; Top Dentist, Hartford Magazine 2008-2013) and Dr. Jonathan Mason, DMD (father of 2; Top 40 Dentists in the Country Under 40 by Incisal Edge, Fall 2013), Family Dental Practice of Bloomfield offers Family Dental Care, Invisalign, Cosmetic Dentistry, and IV Sedation. Visit their calm, convenient location with a friendly staff and state of the art technology. Monday to Friday, 8:00 – 5:00 p.m. Kids are welcome! Check them out at www.familydentalpractice.
THE INDEPENDENT DAY SCHOOL, Middlefield, CT
The Independent Day School is design thinking and hands-on. It’s life long friends and knowing that you’re known. Nature trails and vegetable gardens. And academic rigor and preparing for next steps. It’s finding out who you are and what you’re good at. It’s making mistakes and trying again. It’s being a kid, the best kid you can be. It’s not like any other school. It’s IDS. It’s the way we are. All for the love of fearless learning. 1:6 teacher/student ratio. Find out more about IDS at our Open House, Sunday, January 11 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Financial Assistance Workshop at 3:00 p.m. Sign your Kindergarten through Grade 5 child up for a Design Thinking Workshop while you tour the school at 860-347-7235. And save the date for Summer Programs starting on June 22!
THE MANDELL JCC, West Hartford, CT
Now in its Centennial year, the Mandell JCC serves people of all backgrounds and at every age and stage of life. It is a gathering place and resource for the Hartford region, providing recreational, cultural, educational, and social programs designed to promote physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being of its members and others who participate. As a center where all are welcome, our mission is rooted in a fundamental commitment to inclusivity and in universal Jewish values. We work to build community, cultural identity, and bridges of understanding by celebrating diversity and fostering appreciation for Jewish culture and heritage. For the month of January, the Mandell JCC is offering a Membership Special. Join between now and January 31, 2015 and pay zero registration fee – a savings of up to $150! Contact the Member Services Center, 860-236-4571, for more details.
Once again, a great big “thank you” to our current sponsors. We are very proud to showcase them here on our site, and we look forward to introducing you to even more family-friendly businesses and organizations in the future.
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BIG New Year’s Sale on OAAM Banner Advertising!
There’s never been a better time to try out our sponsorship program. We’re offering 70% off one month of our large and small ads when you make your purchase between January 1, 2015 and January 31, 2015.
SMALL AD (125×125):
$30 Just $9! Use promo code NEWYEARSMALL for the Small Ad.
LARGE AD (300×250):
$100 Just $30! Use promo code NEWYEARLARGE for the Large Ad.
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