Month: December 2014

Every year I make the same resolutions for the new year (lose weight, get organized, save money, blah blah blah). And some years I accomplish some of these things, and some years I don’t. I was leaning towards ba hum bugging the resolution thing this year since I feel like it’s never really that much of a motivator and then I just feel like a failure (and that’s just dumb).

But in favor of making good small changes this  year, I decided to do something a little different, and a little more detailed, to change things up a bit. I’m making 5 resolutions, one for each area of my life. I’m also getting a little more specific than usual as I think vague resolutions are harder to keep. I’ve included a plan (yeah some of the plans are a little vague but just work with me here).

Wife
Resolution: I will make more of an effort to show my husband he is loved. Ok he knows I love him but I often get wrapped up in the kids and life and forget to really express to him how much I love him.
Plan: Do one thing every day to make him feel special and add a daily reminder to my phone calendar. Yeah this sounds dumb but I seriously need a daily reminder to keep myself accountable and make sure I don’t start slacking. Thinking around 7:30 pm right before kids go to bed so that if I haven’t already done something that day I can be sure to do so in the few hours we have alone together.

Mom
Resolution: I will work on being more patient with my kids. This I can be really bad with, especially during hectic moments like trying to get out the door in the morning.
Plan: Planning extra time for hectic activities so we’re not so rushed. Also taking time to slow down and enjoying moments instead of just worrying about checking things off my list.

Home
Resolution: I will get (and keep) my home more organized. No more searching for things because I can’t remember where I put them or because they’re lost under a pile of crap.
Plan: I’m taking a 40 bags in 40 days challenge starting January 2nd that will help me get rid of a lot if the stuff I’ve been hoarding over the last couple years (come back Jan 2nd to learn more). HealthResolution: I will continue to try to be the healthiest version of myself. Not only do I want to feel confident in my own skin and be healthy, but I want my girls to see that being strong and healthy are an important part of life. And that obsessing about being healthy is different than obsessing about being skinny.
Plan: I’m planning to eliminate most processed crap, dairy and gluten from my diet (not because I think everyone should but because I simply feel better when I eat whole, natural foods). I also plan to continue running, completing two relays and another half marathon this year.

Personal
Resolution: I will take better care of myself (including making time for myself). It’s so easy to get caught up in the needs of everyone else in my life and forget about taking care of myself (like forgetting to eat dinner) or not taking a few minutes to myself each day to decompress (so I don’t want to punch people).
Plan: Build in time each day into my personal routines. Maybe this means 15 minutes less of nighttime TV or using my lunch hours to do something for me.

I’m looking forward to the new year and what it has in store. Oh and I’ll also be redesigning my blog and moving my domain in the next week so stay tuned!!!

Every year, the girls and I make some kind of gift to give their grandparents (because homemade gifts are like crack to grandparents). The past two years, we’ve made ornaments (and I always have them make an extra set of ornaments for our tree too).

  • In 2012, we did footprint/handprint salt dough ornaments that Lucy and I painted red.
  • In 2013, Lucy and Olivia made popsicle stick frames that we added our Santa pictures to.

With 8 days left until Christmas, I just realized I hadn’t thought about what their gift would be this year. The girls decided they wanted to make ornaments as their gifts again this year, so like any Pinterest addict, I started searching for easy ornaments that the girls could make (with a little help from Mom). There are so many cute options out there but some of them require more talent than this mom has.

I’m leaning towards doing one of these 5 choices, which seem pretty simple and easy for the kids to do/help with. I’m under no illusion that our ornaments will look as ‘fancy’ as some of these but they’re special because they’re made with love (if I wanted fancy I would go to the store and buy fancy ornaments). I’ll post a quick tutorial and pics of our final ornaments after Christmas (so as not to spoil the surprise).

5 DIY ornaments for kids to make

1. Glitter Cookie Cutter Ornaments, Centsational Girl

2. Pom Pom Wreath Photo Ornaments, Sheknows

3. Scrabble Christmas Ornaments, Mom 4 Real

4. Popsicle Stick Ornaments, Hands on as we grow

5. Block Photo Ornaments, Crafting Chicks

Head on over to my gifts kids can make Pinterest board for more ornament and gift ideas that kids can make (with a little help from Mom or Dad).

With all the family and social gatherings, holiday shopping and kids programs/parties, it’s not easy to carve out time to fit in a run or a trip to the gym. But with 10 days until Christmas, I feel like I’ve already overindulged on holiday cheer (ie sweets, carbs and wine). So, in an effort to not be completely terrified of stepping on the scale post-holidays (and just feeling generally crappy), I’m trying to squeeze in quick workouts when I can.

Here are some of the quick and uncomplicated workout videos I like to do at home (no crazy equipment required).

5 minutes

5 minutes to Slim HIIT Cardio (Fitness Blender) – try this right before you hop in the shower in the morning or while the kiddos are eating lunch/dinner. You’ll increase your heart rate and work your entire body.

10 minutes

Kitchen Cardio (Barre3) – this is one of my favorite quick workouts. Do it first thing in the morning or while you’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s low impact (and won’t leave you a sweaty mess) but gets your heart pumping.

15 minutes

Hump Day HIIT (Tone It Up) – this high intensity interval training workout really works your whole body with a combination of toning and cardio intervals. Got 30 minutes? Do this workout twice in a row! Or do it once in the morning and once in the evening for twice the calorie torching benefits.

The holidays come but once a year so I allow myself to enjoy a little treat here and there (and anything goes on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). Trying to squeeze in quick workouts helps combat my eating guilt and some of the extra calories I consume. Also, I try to make sure to drink LOTS of water (like 8 glasses or more) to combat dehydration, which can lead to more munching. It also keeps my skin from going all oily/dry/flaky/gross.

For more quick workouts (and other good stuff), head on over to Macaroni and Mascara on Pinterest.

I started writing this post according to what I thought guys would want to see under the tree this year. I asked my husband to take a quick look to get his opinion. Next thing I know, he’s adding his own commentary and basically taking over my post (thanks dear). I guess who better to tell you what guys might actually want for Christmas than a guy, right?!

So, with that, here is my guy’s guide to gifts for the men in your life.

Fun dress socks – we’re not talking white athletic socks like his mom used to buy him. Think argyle, stripes, masculine patterns that fit his personality. These are also an easy gift for kids to pick out for dad that he might actually wear.

Stan: First of all I agree with the entire socks thing. However, funny how the picture my wife chose has basically zero of the features she describes as cool. This is basically the opposite of what to do. This pair of socks features zero argyle, more of a dot than a stripe and those are masculine patterns?! On a serious note, good idea. Go crazy. Most of what us men have to wear for work and social occasions is pretty conservative. We view you, our female campadres, as the “cool fashion gods” so show us what you got.

Tickets to his favorite event – tailor this gift to his interests. A sporting event, concert, comedy show, musical, whatever strikes his fancy. My guy is hoping for tickets to the NCAA National Championship Football Game or Mumford and Sons.

Stan: Or Matthew Kearney!!!! Do you not listen to me woman? I agree with this but here’s the thing, and this might hurt your feelings ladies, if it’s a sporting event –  you should not go. Let him take a fellow married-with-kids buddy. He’ll really appreciate you for allowing him a night out with another buddy who cant get out often to get away from it all.

Sports equipment or accessories – again, tailor this gift to his particular sports interests. Think lessons, apparel, gear, shoes or gadgets. My guy is a golf fantic so he’s hoping for this golf bag organizer for our unorganized garage.

Stan: This better come pre-assembled. If not it quickly becomes simply the next chore I have to do around the house. And guess who’s project chores come last? Yep…Enjoy staying in your comfy never opened box in the garage. But hey, has a pretty picture on the box right?

Drinkware –  if your husband occasionally enjoys a good drink, get him a nice bottle of his favorite adult beverage and some nice glasses with some of these extra-large ice cube molds. The larger cubes melt slower and won’t water down his drink.

Stan: You want to make this really cool? Get some initials on the glasses. And no. Not your initials or his or your children. The man wants some JR initials. As in JR Ewing people. The coolest man to ever lay foot on this planet. Not a second passes as I take a sip of some fine bourbon and not wish I was standing there in an awesome cowboy hat, cigar in the other hand and a Cheshire cat grin on my face. JR Freaking Ewing. Awesome.

Techie stuff – guys love gadgets and gizmos so things like a tablet, a Fitbit, GPS watch, GoPro camera or some Beats by Dre headphones can make great gifts for him.

Stan: Yep. Just wait for the Apple Watch. It. Will. Change. The. World.

Foodie stuff – while my husband would say this means ‘Get him a Traeger’ that may not be in everyone’s holiday budget. I mean actual food, like a Salami of the month membership from Olympic Provisions (what man doesn’t want a monthly delivery of meat) or the Sausage Sampler from New Braufels Smokehouse.

Stan: Let’s get straight to the point here ladies, this means less cooking for you.

From the kids – my advice here is to go to Pinterest (follow us while you’re there), and search ‘kid gifts for dad’. Something they made (or you made and they basically scribbled on) will mean way more than an Mickey Mouse tie or something equally silly kids would pick out.

Stan: 100% true. We are secretly the same as you. Even though we did not bear these children, I have watched boys become men simply as a result of being a father. No greater honor. These kinds of gifts mean a lot to us.

There you have it. And my guy makes some very valid points (the food gift totally gets you off the hook for at least 1 or 2 meals). Hope this helps point you in the right direction for a gift your guy will actually be happy to receive this Christmas.

Need more holiday gift ideas? Check out our gift guides for kids and moms.

Kid toys have gotten crazy over the last 10 years. Everything requires batteries or a charger and some manner of assembly or set up. I remember playing with a ‘stick horse’ as a kid that was literally just a stick I found outside, so I’m a little jealous. My own spoiled children have an abundance of toys, games, clothes, things, yet they insist on playing with the same 4 toys (one of which is usually an empty box or water bottle).

Every year during the holidays, I tell myself I’m going to rein in our the amount of toys they get for Christmas, but that is usually overcome by visions of their excited little faces on Christmas morning as they shred through carefully placed wrapping and bows to discover what treasures are waiting for them.

About a month ago, I read this post about giving ‘gifts’ instead of ‘toys’ for Christmas. It makes the great point that most kids don’t usually remember a lot of the toys they recieve, but they remember experiences. Go do something with them and they are probably more likely to remember and appreciate it than some plastic toy. Plus, it won’t get tossed into a toy box and forgotten.

This post inspired me to try to make at least one of the things I give my kids (and nephews) for Christmas this year a ‘gift’ rather than a toy (don’t worry, they’re still getting plenty of toys, too).

Here are some creative gift ideas that can help you create memories with kids.

  • Give them a gift that teaches them something/– any kind of lessons (or camp or membership), just teach them something. Not only will you be teaching them something new, but they’ll also appreciate the time you’re spending with them.
    • If you have a talent (playing guitar, knitting, underwater basket weaving), teach them yourself.
    • If you’re less talented, think about taking lessons with them (dancing, cooking, pottery, horse back riding, whatever).
    • Or if they’re into soccer or animals, sign them up for a camp or get them a membership to your local zoo.
  • Give the gift of reading – with Blue Manatee boxes, you can give a child of any age a collection of books tailored to their interests/needs. You can build your own box of books by selecting from a wide variety of book titles, organized by age, occasion and popular categories. Or you can select a themed box based on a special occasion or interest. You can also add gear (toys or clothes) and a personalized note to your box. Boxes range from $30 for 3 books to $80 for 9 books (shipping is free). And, as an added bonus, the packaging is also eco friendly and comes with play ideas (like how to make the box into a robot).
  • Give them inspiration to think critically – The Goldie Blox Zipline Action Figure is girl-oriented but I love the idea of an action figure for girls (that isn’t all boobs and high heels) that promotes engineering and figuring shit out critical thinking skills. The Goldie Blox line contains a variety of buildable items for ages 4 and older. This Zipline kit includes a book about Goldie’s Zipline Adventures and everything needed to send Goldie ziplining across the room, down the stairs or anywhere (within the 13′ range).
  • Give them something to build or make – Mindware Marble Run provides hours of fun and endless possibilities. Kids can use the colorful (and easy to assemble) pieces to build tracks and then send the marbles speeding through the twists and turns of slides, tubes and funnels. There are a million different ways to configure the pieces, which promotes problem solving and creative thinking. Bonus if you get in there and build with them
  • Take them somewhere – take them somewhere, anywhere. Maybe it’s the park or a local children’s museum or a sporting event. Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt around their town. Maybe it’s camping. Maybe it’s a road trip to see the World’s Largest ball of twine. It doesn’t have to be Paris or the rainforest or Disneyland or somewhere grand (ie expensive). Just take them somewhere, show them something new. Again, spending time with them will be far more memorable than any toy you could give them.

Now I know, you’re looking at this list and calling BS because there are in fact toys on this list. Truth. However, the idea is that you give kids something that really make them think, teach them things and solve problems. They go above and beyond a light up, singing Elsa doll (we already know all the words to ‘Let it Go’ so we don’t need a doll to teach us) or an Elmo figure that giggles when you touch it (I may be dating myself by calling that one out, I’m sure Elmo is on to way cooler things than giggling these days).

And also remember, they are kids, so a few toys won’t hurt.

Need gift ideas for mom and dad too? Check out my gift guide for guys (with commentary from my husband) and my favorite things (which make great gifts for any lady).

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