Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

2013, thanks for being a great year.

As I watch this slideshow, I can't help but think that its the perfect representation of my year. So many great moments, moving too quickly, and over before you know it.

I think it's safe to say that any year you make and birth a baby is a BIG year. Welcome to the family, William.

And then there's the toddler who somehow managed to grow from my baby boy into a little person this year. Seriously, stop it Henry. You must slow down.

We moved into what I'm hoping is our forever home, and celebrated three years of marriage. You can only imagine my husband's 2014 To Do List. Love you, Mark!

It was a year full of uncertainties, but ultimately a year full of love, laughs and happiness.

Every year I seem to think to myself... this was my best one yet. And each year gets better. So here's to that..

May every coming year, be greater than your last! Cheers!



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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Toddler Activity: Pom Ornament

I love the holidays in part because of all the traditions. Many I've carried over from my childhood, and we've started some of our own as well.

One of the older traditions comes from my great-grandmother, who used to make us an ornament every year until she passed away. Last year I started the same tradition. I plan to make ornaments for all of my great grandchildren, too. But since I'm not quite at the great-grandmother stage yet, I'll settle for all of our immediate family.

Last year, I LOVED the melted snowman ornament. But this year, I wanted to try something Henry could help with.

A couple laps around the craft store and I found it:


What you'll need:
Plastic Ornaments
Multi Colored Poms
Miniature bells
Puff Paint (optional)
Glitter (optional)

This is a great motor-skill activity for your toddler. Simply have him stuff the poms and bells into the plastic ornaments. Then (most likely while he's napping,) add names or initials with puff paint to the ornaments. Sprinkle with glitter if you are feeling fancy! I also like to glue the ornament closure down, in case little hands find their way to the ornament later.

Yes, that's a pile of Amazon boxes in the background.
At this point they are arriving faster than I can open them.
Henry really enjoyed making these. I was so surprised at his level of focus for this task! He especially liked seeing just how many poms he could fit in the ornament. Which is quite a lot, by the way.

What holiday crafts have you or your little ones accomplished this year?

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Stockings Were Hung

We don't really have a mantle in our new home to hang the stockings from, but I love the solution we came up with! All you need are two eyelets, some ribbon, a large dowel (which we stained) and two plastic ornaments...

And stockings of course...

Voila! A simple Mantle-less Masterpiece:
Personalized Stockings are from PotteryBarnKids

What's your favorite holiday DIY project?

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Giving Tuesday: Drive-Thru Challenge

Last week was officially the 2nd annual #GivingTuesday, a movement to create a national day of giving following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

The past two years I've used this day to donate a little online to two of my favorite charities, and one commenter's preferred charity, because every little bit helps!

But, you know what? Every day should be giving day.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving home in the pouring rain and my car started beeping to let me know that my tire pressure was extremely low. So I pulled off at the nearest gas station to add some air. Super fun in the pouring rain! Well, a teenager got out of his car and volunteered to do it for me.

Seriously, so nice. I thanked him profusely, and he insisted it was no problem at all. But I was so grateful that he helped out.

Well, I happened to be dying of thirst and right next door was a Wendy's. I pulled through the drive-thru, and decided to pay it forward. Or rather, backward in this case because I told the cashier I wanted to pay for the stranger in the car behind me.

And you know what? It made my day. I left there smiling. And I'm hoping I made that stranger's day as well.

So here's your challenge-- if you head through a drive-thru today, offer to pay for the person behind you. Its an easy way to brighten someone's day. Let's start a movement!

**Have an idea for a future #GivingTuesday? Let me know about it!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh, Christmas Tree...

This year our tree is a little more on the Charlie Brown end of the spectrum, if you know what I mean.

We found the nearest you-cut tree farm last weekend and headed out. And the trees were all on the weak side. But, it's been a tradition for us since our first apartment to go out and cut down a real tree. Not to mention we had both kids out, bundled up and relatively happy, which is a feat in itself. So there was no thought of well let's just go look somewhere else. Those are only thoughts you can have when you don't yet have children...

Anyways we found the best of the bunch I'd say...

We cut it down, they labeled it with our initials, and they took it to get shaken and netted. In the meantime we found a tree that had already been cut that pretty much looked like this:


You know what I mean. Beautiful and full and PERFECT. And less money. According to the tag it was trucked in from North Carolina.

I want this one. I told Mark. Its the perfect tree.

Mark: But we already cut one down.

Me: Let's just get this one, no one will know that other one is ours.

Mark: I'll know. I want a locally grown tree. We cut it down. I'm attached.

And that was pretty much the end of that. So here we are... I guess I always liked Charlie Brown anyways...

Everyone has a tree story... of THAT year with THAT tree. What's yours?

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Stocking Stuffers for All

Opening my stocking as a kid was one of my favorite things-- it seemed endlessly filled with a ton of fabulous goodies! Here are just a few ideas for Him, Her... and the Littles!

1. Flavor Infuser Water Bottle | UncommonGoods | $15
3. EOS Organic Multipack | Target | $10
4. Gloveables | Amazon | $14
5. Headphone Earmuffs | Target | $15
6. Essie Nail Polish | Target | $9
7. Hugo Naturals Fizzy Bath Bomb | Amazon | $5
8. Cool Beans Ice Cube Tray | Amazon | $8
9. POST Birthday Book | Amazon | $15
10. Mini Photo Book, Set of 2 | Printstagram | $12

1. Mini Games in a Bag | Eddie Bauer | $15 (Update: Sold out!)
2. 7 Year Pen | Amazon | $8
3. Hopside Down Beer Glass | Amazon | $14
4. Magnesium Fire Starter | Amazon | $5
5. 25 Miraculous Mind Reading Tricks | Restoration Hardware | $15
6. Eye Glasses Holder | UncommonGoods | $18
7. Man Emergency Kit | Restoration Hardware | $15 (Update: Sold out!)
8. Jump Rope | Amazon | Prices Vary
9. Sipping Stones | Amazon | $13
10. Cold Brew Coffee | Slingshot Coffee Co. | $28
11. See Kinetic Sand and Mini Nerf Gun below! (not pictured)


1. Mini Nerf Gun | Amazon | $5
2. Original Slinky | Amazon | $5
4. Baby Banana Toothbrush | Amazon | $4
6. Play-Doh: Case of Colors | Amazon | $15
8. Lace and Trace Pets | Melissa & Doug | $9
9. Colored Bath Dropz | Crayola | $8
10. Mustachifier | Amazon | $10
11. Kinetic Sand | UncommonGoods | $15

What are you hoping to find in your stocking?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giving Tuesday 2013

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday may be a lot of fun, but most importantly they all lead up to...


How are you giving today?

Keep in mind there are plenty of ways to contribute to your favorite causes and organizations that don't necessarily mean monetary donations. Check out this list for some ideas.

And remember if we all give a little... it can add up to something big! On this day every year, I personally make a small donation to two of my favorite charities: The Special Olympics and First Book.

And I donate $10 to the charity or organization of your choosing! Simply leave a comment below and I will choose one of them at random to donate to. What can be easier than that?

Happy Giving Tuesday!

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Gift Guide For Kids (Little & Big) 2013

I'm definitely of the mantra it's better to give than receive during the holidays. But it's even BETTER when the presents are for kids, because let's face it, kids get so excited. They don't know what to do with all that excitement so it just comes pouring out of their little bodies and faces. Adorable.

Need a few more (decently priced) ideas to add to their fun? Check out the two following gift guides: For Big Kids and For Little Ones.

For Bigs:
1. Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet | Amazon | $30
2. Harry Potter Paperback Box Set | Amazon | $57
4. Upcycled Dinosaur Planter | Etsy | $12 and up
5. B. Teepee Tent | Target | $40
6. Nancy B's Science Club Microscope | Fat Brain Toys | $37
7. Piffig Children's Shoes | Ikea | $6
8. AquaFarm | UncommonGoods | $60
9. Furby Boom* | Amazon | $50
10. Large Zelf | Toys R Us | $13

For Littles:

1. Animal Map of the World | Etsy | $22
4. Periodic Table Building Blocks | UncommonGoods | $31
5. Gund Crawl with Me Turtle | Amazon | $14
6. I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love | Amazon | $12
7. Graphic Print Onesie | Old Navy | $13
8. Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror | Amazon | $12

What are your kids asking for this holiday season?

Sidenote: Many of these toys are available from multiple retailers, so feel free to pick your favorite! I often link to Amazon because it's just about the most convenient thing on earth.

*I know Furby was on last year's guide, too. But I just love him and couldn't resist. 

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gift Guide for Him: 2013

For all the men in your life: the beer drinker, the music buff, the outdoorsman, the tinkerer, the reader... there's something for everyone in this year's Gift Guide For Him:


2. Zibra Open-It Package Opener | Amazon | $10
5. Reinbeer | DIY | Price Varies

What tops your wish list this year?

Shopping online? Check out this post and save some dough. Looking for more? Many of the items on last year's gift guide are still available.

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