Nickelodeon Universe

Cabin fever, freezing temps, rainy day, boredom, layover at MSP? Get the kids to Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe! MOA has so much to offer for family fun but this is a highlight that’s worth a trip.

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Nick Universe has 27 different rides to enjoy. 11 of which are considered “Junior” and 5 that are “family”. So no worries, there are plenty for the toddler variety to take delight in!

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Even Chief (12 months old) got to enjoy a ride on the “black stallion”

Purchase tickets online or in person at one of the kiosks. You can make a day out of it or buy as little as a “3 Point Pass” which will get you on 1 ride. I went with my sister, brother-in-law and both my kids. Between us we bought two 18-point passes which you can use amongst everyone. We went on about 8 different rides taking turns who rode with Peach.

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Peach and Uncle Troy on Azul, the blue train

Toddler meltdown but still have points left? The point passes don’t expire so save them for next time or pay it forward and hand them off to an eager kid. I still have a few points waiting for next time.

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Peach (2.5) and I on Blue’s Skidoo

Seriously guys, look how much fun Peach and Auntie Mimi are having on “Swipers Sweeper”!

Being it’s the Mall of America, there are tons of food options to choose from. We made the day extra special and dined at the Rainforest Cafe! If your kids love animals this is such a fun place to eat. There is something for everyone on the menu. I was impressed with the kids meals too! Or you can check out the new food court complete with our fave, Chick Fil A!

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Peach sipping on her beverage at Rainforest Cafe

DEALS ALERT! MOA hosts “Toddler Tuesdays” which offer Toddler Wristbands from Nickelodeon Universe. $12.99 for 5 hours of unlimited toddler rides. Tons of restaurants have kids eat free. Plus, many other attractions have discounts. For a full list of T.T. events click here.

Have you taken your kids to Nickelodeon Universe? Planning a trip to Minnesota soon? Let me know what you think!

🎠🎡-TBHM Hilary

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Hot Mess of the Week- Minneapolis Parking

As promised from my blog post on ‘Sota-Pop!, here’s the Hot Mess that found me during that excursion. If it’s not clear, I’m a suburban mama. Not only do I drive a Chevrolet Suburban, I live in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. I frequent Costco and Target donned in 1 of my 5 pairs of Ugg boots. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may have caught on to the fact that I’m not a great driver. Let us not forget my parking…

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Do you want to practice parking? What’s the point? Everywhere you go has valet.- Cher, Clueless

Living in the suburbs, I play it safe while parking Black Beauty (BB) on the far end of buildings. I don’t want any parking lot fender benders. Even more importantly, I don’t want to call my husband aka “Emergency Responder” in the event that we get in a little situation. Needless to say, a day trip to downtown Minneapolis during the Super Bowl 52 weekend was risky.

I invited my mother in law along. There was no way I could tackle this mission alone with 2 toddlers. No way! We conveinently left at nap time to make matters extra smooth (sarcasm). As my 12 month old was crying, I was trying to pay attention to my GPS.  My Apple Watch vibrated and I swerved over to my exit. WRONG. Up I drive, into a parking ramp. Excuse me? You’re supposed to be a road leading me to Nicollet Mall! We determine this ramp is too far away from the festivities and we need to exit ASAP.

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I shouldn’t even call this a parking ramp. More like LABYRINTH as my MIL declared it! No joke, this structure was designed to be puzzling. It takes so long to find the exit it racks up your time hence charging you more. Can you say conspiracy?! Exit to the right…AKA take another few loops around. Finally we emerge. Determined to find closer, affordable parking we trudge on.

Through my dirty windshield, pedestrians and clustered autos, we see a sign for ‘$7 PARKING’. Figuring this is the best we can get for Super Bowl 52 event parking, I enter through the thick automatic doors. My palms start to sweat as it looks dangerously tight for BB to wiggle through. We creep along the curvy ramp to see vehicles parked like sardines. SMH. It’s a valet ramp. $7 was for the first 30 minutes.

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Actual footage from the valet ramp

We decide to take our chances and look for more affordable parking. Yet, we felt a “hot mess” creeping so we snapped this photo evidence before fleeing as fast as my huge SUV could go. (Slowly…)

Naps and lunch time knocking on my toddlers patience, we try the next closest ramp. Not kidding guys, VALET PARKING. Maybe you’re thinking, “Hilary, you’re bad at parking, valet was made for you!” Well, sure, but I also like to save money for press on manicures, Starbucks and someone else to clean my truck. *winks*

With no more wiggle room on the clock, I agreed for valet. I think for a second, “what are these dudes going to think of my stinky mom-mobile? Ah, screw it. That’s what tips are for!

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We make it to ‘Sota-Pop. Above is a lovely photo of Peach eating some strange Dorito crumbs off a window sill. #HOTMESS. These fiascos were worth it for our fun photo-ops. Memories to last a lifetime, friends.

Before we get back in the truck I ask Peach if she has to pee. “Yes”. Phew we’re gonna make it! I find an employee and they tell me “no toilets. Go out on 6th and blah blah blah”. Dude, seriously. You’re gonna say no to this 2 year old?! Gah! I say a little prayer that we make it home knowing darn well I doubt we can. To complete the Hot Mess, she pees on the way home. *tear*. At that point, my MIL suggests a car potty. WHAT?! How do I seriously not have a car potty?! #momfail.

Another adventure, another hot mess. Nothing stops me!  Or these darn hot messes from our fun.

🚙🏙- TBHM Hilary

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Emoji Valentines!

Say hello to arguably the cutest of the easiest valentines to make at home with toddlers. No glitter to clean up (even though I really wanted to bling these out) I had enough Ritz cracker crumbs to clean up already. Which I’ll actually leave for my dogs… Look at these cuties! They’ll have you like 😍. Ya feel me?!

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No, Peachy Popper’s handwriting is not this advanced. We utilize “hand over hand”

Things you’ll need:

Printer- hopefully you aren’t “low on ink” SMH story of my life… I suspect there’s a conspiracy behind my printer always being low on ink but thats a rant for another day.

Paper- cardstock would be best, but you guessed it, no, I didn’t have any. Regular printer paper it is. Do I need to remind you? Not a perfectionist here.

Scissors

Glue or Tape in a pinch

Chocolate Heart Candies- I used Hershey’s Caramel

Just head on over too Google Images for an emoji template. There are tons to choose from. You don’t have to stick to the heart eyes. I particularly like the first 2 options.

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Peach (2) focused on her “work” as she calls it. Can you say “Montessori kid?”

Add a drop of glue to each eye and stick a chocolate on. Use a decent sized drop. Wait for them to dry before signing your name. If you didn’t use cardstock I would recommend cutting some paper bags or doubling up the paper for added strength.

 

Don’t forget to eat a little treat along the way.

Are you making valentines at home this year? Comment and let me know what you do. If you try this valentine project out tell me or tag @totallyblessedhotmess on instagram in your pics so I can see the cuteness.

😍❣️💘-TBHM Hilary

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My Montessori Home-Child Accessibility 

There are many ways to incorporate Montessori principals into your home. Here are some ways that I have worked to make our home accessible for my young children. Keeping a few main Montessori principals in mind as I created these spaces: Respect of the child, free movement and choice, and intrinsic rewards. After all don’t you want your child/children to feel included in your little community? See my post about our Montessori Book Display for a little more background on the Montessori Method.

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Having a Montessori home doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Yes, there are some “Montessori purists” if you will. I personally believe that including any bit of Montessori principals in your life will benefit your children and family. So, don’t be discouraged! Everyone starts somewhere. My list is complete with simple ways to begin.

Peach’s coat hook section of the entry way. Yes, she’s way more fabulous than I am
  1. Coat Hooks: I willing to bet there are more parents sick of hanging their kids coats up than not. Insert- Command Hooks! “Install” these babies in less than a minute. Of course, you can use a more stylish hook if you want. This is just a very simple way to make the entry accessible for your children. Inexpensively! Just find the right height and you’re set. I have stairs where my daughter sits to put her shoes and outer wear on. If you don’t have a place for your child to sit, I would recommend get a small seat for that. I like this one. They use a style like this at her Montessori School.2. Water “Table” Access: Let your children have access to quench their thirst without having to ask you. It’s heartwarming to see their pride (intrinsic rewards) from having complete independence over this task. I put glasses next to the water and have a towel available in case spills happen. (They do!) It’s all part of learning and growing. I have also used a separate table set up which some families may prefer. fullsizeoutput_298d

    Glasses from IKEA. Water Dispenser from HomeGoods. Afraid of having toddlers use open glass cups? Trust me, they learn very quickly how to use proper care. Anyone sick of sippy cups being thrown about? It doesn’t happen with glasses. (not more than once anyway!) Side note- I also despise washing sippy cups. Ugh Bye.fullsizeoutput_2990.jpeg3. Faucet Extender: Life saving when it comes to getting little toddler hands clean! It is NOT easy to hold a toddler whilst attempting to scrub their hands. “Help me to do it myself”. Give access to soap and a towel to dry off with. Faucet Extender by Prince Lionheart at Target.

    My 12 month old son can even have sink access (though he needs a little help washing). Custom puzzle stool from Creative Kid Stufffullsizeoutput_2997

4. Child Level Mirrors: Here is a low hand mirror I have set up for my 2 year old. Again, thank you Command Hooks! She can check her face and use it as she pleases. If I ask her to wipe her face I also tell her she can go look in her mirror. We have a full length mirror in the bathroom she also has full viewing access of. fullsizeoutput_2998

5. Grooming Basket: I set up a basket with my daughters brush, comb and hair accessories so she can have as much independence getting ready as possible. The basket it kept on her dresser. Child sized brush and box from Target. fullsizeoutput_2999

6. Low Furniture: We have a “low boy” style dresser which gives my 2 year old daughter full access to the clothing in her drawers. “Go and get your socks!” Done! She knows where all of her clothing is stored. This again, gives her the independence she wants and needs in her developing life skills. fullsizeoutput_299a

My daughter also has a low level twin bed. She began sleeping in it at 19 months old. When she wakes up from her nap or in the morning she reads books or plays with her stuffed animals. Often times I don’t even know she’s up yet! Some Montessori families use low/floor beds from very young ages. Again, see a theme with independence? 27303bdb77eb8c1afe79474ed4351984

There really is an endless list of how you can make your home more accessible for the littlest ones in the family. What are some ways you have done this? Comment and let me know! Or Tag @Totallyblessedhotmess in your Montessori At Home instagram posts so I can check it out!

-TBHM Hilary

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‘Sota-Pop!

Super Bowl LII is hosted in Minneapolis, MN this year. The city has pulled out all the stops for entertainment including ‘Sota-Pop! A free pop up interactive art exhibit! Put on by Explore Minnesota and created by local artists. One of my personal favorites being abstract artist, Ashley Mary. (Follow her on IG!) Nestled in the Renaissance Square storefront at 500 Nicollet Mall. Swing in this weekend before the big game and get some of the best instagram worthy photo-ops around! Take a trip along the “Mississippi River” walls and see how Minnesota is “more than just cold, we’re cool!”  We actually have 4 seasons…

“First” Stop: First Avenue Inspired Wall of Fame. Swing by the real deal to see one of our city’s most celebrated entertainment spots.

Make your name on a star:

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I bet I’m not the only Minnesotan ready for spring…

Tee Time: Free Souvenir ‘Sota-Pop golf balls too! (Big hit with the toddlers)

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Take a walk on the dock into Summer… Like the Northern Lights?!

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Ever heard of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox? YeeHaw.

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Next by the talented Ashley Mary! If confetti doesn’t bring you complete joy then we can’t be friends…

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Last but not least, Greetings from Minnesota. (Grab a postcard with this mural below on the way out)

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Welcome to the Bold North! Have you checked out ‘Sota-pop yet? If you do let me know what you think! Tag @totallyblessedhotmess on Instagram to show me your pics. *Hot Mess Blog to come on the parking situation…

-TBHM Hilary

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Hot Mess of the Week- Sculpture Garden

Over the summer I went, kids in tow, to meet a friend at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It was a show stopping July morning. Even better? My girl was bringing me Starbucks. #butfirstcoffee. This wasn’t some nose wiping, diaper changing, soggy goldfish cracker eating playdate. No. This was getting together with my single independent girl friend! Maybe I’ll even feel like my old self and slap on a crop top for the occasion. Just kidding guys! Leopard sundress it is. *winks*

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We strolled around the sidewalks admiring all the large sculptures. I briefly wondered where people came up with this stuff. Hmmm. Then I moved on to more important things: Who was my friend dating? Was he a “swipe right” dude? When was her last drunken night? What spontaneous vacation does she have planned? (Of course she had one set.) Greece, at that! Can you blame me, guys? Let this mom live a little. Vicariously anyhow.

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Peach making sure she’s in every on-lookers photo op.
Maybe I painted that picture to sound like a peaceful morning? Sorry to kill your buzz, but remember, my toddler came with. She spent her time practicing parkour over the various monstrosities. She quite literally only removed herself from the above pictured sculpture to pee behind it.

As much as I would have loved to sit and drink a bottle of chilled Rosé, reminiscing about our days when we drove our dad’s lifted trucks (hers bright red Dodge pickup, mine Hummer H2) on lunch break from high school, waving at potential boyfriends, I had to get the toddler home. Because #NapsSaveLives. I hug my friend goodbye and we go our separate ways. As I approach Black Beauty (my suburban), I dig around for my keys to get her unlocked. Beep-beep! I get all my baggage packed up, hop in the driver seat and…KEYS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Why me?! Why me?! Can I ever do anything seamlessly? I feel like I literally search everywhere possible. My kids are starting to freak out. I call my friend. “Hi. It’s me, obviously. Yes, problem. No keys. Bring wine.” She drives back and meets us.

During this time I continue to scrounge around for those priceless jinglers. I FIND THEM!!! In my diaper bag pocket. Where I always keep them. SMH. Sweet relief anyway. I slide the key in the ignition. Tick. Click. ITS DEAD. My truck is freaking DEAD.

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Chief & I waiting in Black Beauty playing with Snap Chat filters. What else would we do with our time? 
The way I’m parked up against gardens and sprawling groomed grass there was no way to get a jump with cables. Note to self: always back into a parking space. Much to my chagrin, I dial up husband aka my ” #1 emergency responder”. He says “Sorry, Hily. Can’t help ya.” he was basically in Wisconsin, bringing home the bacon. He does remind me however, “call the roadside assistance!”.

They arrive with a fancy-schmancy little jump start thing. My girlfriend and I both ask where we can get one of those. Turns out we’d have to be prepared enough to keep the device charged. Yeah, not happening. Way kill our mellow, Progressive Roadside Assistance Man.

Are you seeing a theme with my Hot Mess stories? Yep. I wouldn’t be opposed to anyone starting a Go-Fund me for a luxury car upgrade with keyless entry and start. Or perhaps, a personal assistant that is strictly responsible for my keys. Birthday gift?

🏙🍒🥄-TBHM Hilary

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Ridgedale Play

As winter continues, so does cabin fever! You won’t survive this winter season with toddlers unless you GET OUT of the house. I draw the line for outdoor play at 10*F. Luckily, for us Minnesotans, there are plenty of fun indoor places to have your kids get rowdy. My oldest likes to run. And jump. A lot. Which leads me to Ridgedale Play! The newest indoor playground at Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, MN.

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Located on the upper level of Nordstrom wing, learn and play through their 7 different areas. Free admission and regulated for ages 0-12. Don’t worry, your non-walkers won’t get trampled as they can be safe in the “baby oasis”. Drink your coffee from the lounge area as you monitor the fun. Caribou located on the first level. I recommend going there before you enter. If you arrive empty handed, caffeine conveniently awaits you in a Starbucks vending machine.

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Chief (12 months old)
Light and airy decor give for a dreamy atmosphere. You almost can relax amongst the squawking munchkins. Almost. Yet, I said “dreamy” for a reason. Even the light fixtures resemble clouds. Magical, am I right?!

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Nursery inspiration?
There’s only one entrance to Ridgedale Play. So, if you have a wild child like me, you don’t have to fear too much that they might escape. Side note- I lost my daughter for a minute. Found her in the lounge, sitting on a tall stool, waiting for “goldfish”. Ok kid…IMG_8346

Which circles me back around to my top Pro Tip for outings: Dress your mobile kids in the brightest color you can. Trust me on this one. Luckily Chief doesn’t run from me yet! He was off the hook this time from me dressing him like a glowing ray of sunshine.

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DJ Peachy Popper mixin some hot jams

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Chief on the dance floor
How cute is the disco ball dance party zone?! Adjust the tempo and shake your sillies out.

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Wiggle your way through the “Shadow Jungle”. IMG_8340

For the climbers. Complete with “apples” that come shooting out of the tree. You can pop them into various holes for added thrill.

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Gone Fishin’
Use these fishing poles to hook your “fresh catch”. Fish not pictured as some kid was swinging them around.

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Foam building blocks to create a village. Or even play house in this little structure. cRdh6U5QQ8W%R6bNQ1%7+w

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Distracted Driver…
Large Bug Mobile equipped to house an abundance of wiggly pipsqueaks. Steering wheels, noise making buttons, textured walls, windows, etc.

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Chief in the Baby Oasis safe from big kid smack downs (kind of)
There’s also a large “Choo Choo Island” train table set up. We steered clear though because Peach preferred to dance on the table. The train conductors were less than pleased.

Note worthy:

– Family restroom complete with stools for the shorties and changing table.

-You can bring your own food. Highchairs available. Or hit up one of the many cafeteria style or sit down restaurants in the mall. Shoutout to Chipotle’s Kid Meal. #win

-Party Room available for reservations by InnerActive. (See my blog on the joy that is Inner Active) What a cute place for a birthday party! They even have 6 party themes to choose from! Get more info or book your party here!

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Have you checked out the new Ridgedale Play yet? What did you think of it? If you head there after reading this, comment and let us know your thoughts!

☁️🤸‍♂️-TBHM Hilary

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