Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm 90% ready for Christmas are you?

    I'll admit it. I shop year round for things with the intention of gifting it later. It's a fun habit I started after my first Christmas shopping for both sides of the family, which later progressed after having a kid and then kids. So basically for 7 or so years I've been doing this and perfecting my craft. 
    
    Not just preseason shop for gifts or baskets, but also clothing, leaving nothing out of prebuying consideration. With clothes it has become so much easier since my kids are in the "generic Toddler" sizes and now even "Big Kid" sizes so I no longer have to count months and anticipate big growth spurts. 

    But lets get back to the gifts. I have a huge gift closet in the basement that I keep stocked. I always have something on hand for a birthday party or an unexpected gift. I rotate the stock to make sure it stays current with toy trends and if I just want to start weeding out odds and ends. I recently just went through and had a massive purge. The rest of the purge will be donated when those toy tubs are out in the stores since everything is brand new in boxes. 

    My kids receive three gifts from Santa and a stocking full of fun goodies. Why three gifts? That's our way of keeping the "reason for the season" in the gift giving. The three kings brought baby Jesus three gifts so they get three gifts. The gifts range small, medium and large in value. It's just easier and keeps things on track for expenses. 

    Wonder what my kids are getting this year? Here's what I have so far, although things may change. 

    Bear - 2 years old 
            A Mooska Sing around the Rosie doll like this one
                 The Ariel Duplo set (price matched at TRU - awesome!)
            A Minnie Mouse board book library set


    TW - 4.5 years old
            A LeapBand (that I have to switch out blue for green now - of course)
            A Melissa & Doug wooden car kit 
            **Insert a Lego set here - not sure yet - maybe Batman)




    Lulu - 6.5 years old
           The Lego Heartlake Friends High School (price matched at TRU - score!)
           Frozen Elsa trunk box (for her Legos)
           The Rare Little Live Pets Butterfly 
               (on fence over this gift for her I might switch it over to a sibling gift) 




    The kids give each other sibling gifts - one gift from the other two. This year the girls are giving TW the limited Lego fire hall set (which was a sale freebie and is a Toys R Us exclusive from a few weeks ago). Not sure what the girls gifts are quiet yet. I have a few items in my gift arsenal for them that I keep going back and forth on. 

    I've decided that next year I'll start having the siblings pick out books for each other and have that be the traditional sibling gift. Which reminds me of a traditional gift my cousin and I do for each other's kids - we gift silly socks every year. It's perfect because they're not super expensive and the kids all have a blast picking out fun socks for each other. Besides kids always need socks!

    It might seen weird to shop year round thinking of holidays and birthdays but that's what I've done and continue to do. 

     Do you shop year round for gifts? 
     Or wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
     Do you always keep the holidays in mind or just birthdays? 
     What are some hot items on your list this year?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Woes of #PottyTraining the Last Kid

    The last kiddo is currently in the depths of potty training. Technically we were already there but then summer vacation hit us and with the older two kids home, who really wants to learn to go on the potty when you can play and run around? 
   
    All summer long I tried to encourage her to continue. We were so close to nailing that routine. We had Minnie Mouse undies, mini M&Ms, the infamous little blue potty seat we got from Ikea when we potty trained Lu and fancy skirts to help her go potty easier. Nothing. The force is strong with this one. She is a train and she is on her own track. 

    Now we're back in the potty training lane and its going pretty well. I had it much more easier with the older two that is for sure! Now we have stairs and multi-levels of living space. We also have two bathrooms and if we're caught in between those levels its a guess which way to go. Ahh the joys of a split level house. 

   Candy doesn't motivate her. She doesn't care for much clothing so the fun skirts are hardly worn. She doesn't care about the pretty undies we have a stack of in both bathrooms. She has had accidents where she is full blown wet and she doesn't care. Well, they don't seem to bother her too much enough to warrant crying.

    What she does care about is going #2 in those pretty undies of hers. She enjoys a great cheer and clap and fun little jaunt down the hall after she's gone. Sometimes I have puddles to mop up. 4 to 5 times out of 10 she has damp undies but not soaking wet. I basically have a little laundry basket in the corner of the downstairs bathroom for those to get tossed in and then do a load of laundry at the end of the day. 

    Basically, the first two kids were super, SUPER easy to potty train. Like, really easy. I have had to deal with regression and learning how to motivate this galie. I went in with a confidence that I would nail this on the head and we'd go skipping through fields of buttercups and eat ice cream. Oy! 

    I shouldn't be surprised. I have experienced so many things that I never had to experience with the older two kids. Bear is my greatest challenge yet! I should have known. It all started with my pregnancy test results with her. But that's another story for another time. 

   Cheers to the flushes on Potty Training Lane!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Home is where your family is - Right? Right.

    I'm a cautious buyer when it crosses the line from purchase to investment. I search and hunt for the best item for the best price and I take my time doing it. Often I take too much time and often I take so much time I end up missing out on an option. Sometimes I chalk it up to that old phrase "It just wasn't meant to be" and will take me a while to get over it. 
  
    I don't know why I let things hover in my thoughts. Maybe hover isn't the right word, its more like play pong in my mind. Just as I think the idea has left my mind it hits the board and bounces back in my thoughts. Ps. This drives the Hubs nuts!!! 

   Wondering where I'm going with this? I've become instantly obsessed with the idea of a house that recently came on the market - notice how I said the idea of it since I have only seen pictures online and drove past it (that was a bad idea, I admit). Now I'm having second thoughts about our house - which I shouldn't but it just feels like some force is showing off. 

   We have lived in our new house for just over a year. And let's remember, all five of us fell in love with it when we walked in the door after looking at a few other houses. We convinced ourselves that we would and could make it work with a few updates and adjustments. For the most part it has and continues to work for us. The kids have their own rooms. The Hubs has some space for his office. The kitchen is nicely updated as well as the upstairs bathroom. I can't fester on the fact that the windows need to be replaced, the front door needs to be redone and we now rock base board heaters instead of forced air so there is larger areas to avoid putting furniture with no option to install an a/c unit, or the cutback of land we took choosing this house. 

   I've also had a hard time adjusting to the feeling of this house being our home and not a rental. It's weird. It's like the house and I bonded before we signed the papers and then when we did and starting moving in, we became distant relatives. I get the occasional blurb of feeling at home but that flees shortly afterwards. 

   I know I shouldn't dwell on the fact that the house and land that we were originally looking for has come on the market around the corner from us. I really cant dwell that the front porch is that classic, dreamy porch that is coffee sipping on a glider friendly, there is a separate entrance for the upstairs office area that the hubs would love, a double garage, a slightly bigger basement or the wooded land behind the main back yard all still within the school district that we wanted to stay in and within our looking price range. There is absolutely nothing that we can or will do. I know we wont sell and move over there. I know we can't sell and move over there. But come on - what the heck?! Is this just a big test for me to be 100% true to myself grateful for the house we have and make it really feel like home??!  

   That has to be the case. This is a test. This is a challenge for me to overcome  and open my eyes and heart to. I have to look past what that house has and what our house doesn't have. Instead I have to look at what OUR house has and right now OUR house has my family in and my family is my everything. 

This was the picture that Lulu drew of our house before our move
- each kiddo is waving out a window. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Play and Grow!! #RSVPplayDate

    Toys! What kid doesn't want to come over to play with new toys? We were given an awesome opportunity to play! That's right, I said play!! Vocalpoint sent us a Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair and a Laugh & Learn Puppy's Smart Stages Train to play and review at a #RSVPplaydate.




    We welcomed our party guests to a "create your own snack" bar with some very nifty tote along snackers that were sent to us. We also made sure that the crew of kiddos had their liquid refreshments set in some unique travel sippy cups from Fisher Price before venturing over to play at the play mat. (Unfortunately, this is as far as two of our little guests got as one of the girls had a upset tummy still lingering from the day before..., so sad to see such cute little faces have to leave the fun but tis flu season starting. Luckily, I was able to arrange for them to check out the toys after the party at their house so they still got their "play on"- whoop whoop Clorox wipes!!)

   Our remaining crew finished loading up their snackers and we gathered on the incredibly sweet play mat that Vocal Point sent us. I introduced the "fun, yellow party chair" highlighting a few features and we set it to our 18mo guest. Wondering what I mean by "set it"? The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair features a new technology that adjusts with your child's developmental stages. Below is from the Fisher Price website to further explain the differences in the stages:

    Smart Stages™ Technology 
    Level 1 – Explore – 12M+ First words and sounds spark baby’s curiosity 
    Level 2 - Encourage – 18M+ Prompt baby though questions and simple    
                                              directions 
    Level 3 – Pretend – 24M+ Imaginative fun and early role play

  The kids checked the chair out. They liked the songs and the flip of the seat. Our 18mo was a bit too big for the chair (she's in the higher percentile) and our 3mo was a bit too small for the chair - talk about Goldilocks and the Three Bears! The green leaver on the side was a tab perplexing since it didn't cue any songs or commands but overall it's a fun chair that can be played with for 2+ years. 




    I then introduced the "party train and crew" aka the Laugh & Learn Puppy's Smart Stages Train and it became the instant life of the party! This train has it all! Puppy, Monkey and Frog are all aboard for some fun. 

    This one again, has the Smart Stages Technology and expands and grows with your kiddo. The numerous songs and interactions cues were a blast for all the kids, even our little 3mo party go-er. One feature that all the parents liked was it's switch to keep the train stationary or to activate it's motion. 








    We had a little dance party and some more snacks and play time then called it a play date! Our littlest party go-er was all tuckered out. How adorable is this??!! Play hard, sleep hard!! (And look at those Cookie Monster socks!)


    Many thanks again to Vocalpoint for choosing us to host a super fun #RSVPplaydate! The adults and kids all had a blast and we definitely know a few kiddos that have a train on their Christmas list this year.


PS - How about a little pre-playdate blooper? How cute is this? I still giggle seeing Daddio's assembling kid toys. 



    The Not So Fine Print - we were sent the toys to play and review. All opinions are our own. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Falling in love with Fall and #Starbucks #FallBlend

 My favorite season is Fall. The colors, the temperatures, the scents, the local attractions, everything - well everything but the occasional sleeting rain. There is just something about being outside bundled in a soft sweater that makes me feel happy.

  Another thing that is perfect during this cool weather is curling up under a homemade afghan with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Pressing the cup against your chest as it cools warms the soul and livens the senses. A peaceful cup of coffee is a great way to wake up for the day!!

   Many thanks to Modern Mom and Starbucks  for sending me some 2014 Fall Blend coffee and I truly mean it - many, many, many thanks!! This is by far the best blend of coffee I have ever had! It is a warm and rich blend of three coffees that fill this medium roast in flavor. 

    How can you not enjoy the start of the Fall season with a delish cup of warm, amazing coffee?? Especially when Fall means its Back to School time!! 





    Starbucks did a great job selecting this blend for sure! Sumatran beans bring warm spice notes to the bright citrus Kenya beans both blended with a subtle nuttiness of Peru beans. A serious full-bodied, medium roast. 

    You can pick up a bag or two or three at major grocery stores for $8.99 per 10oz. package. Hurry up though before they're all gone. 



     Are you a savvy shopper? Visit Starbucks here and click on the top of the screen for a special savings. 


     Want to see more pics? Join me on Instagram!


   Not so fine print - Many thanks again to Modern Mom for the coffee - All opinions are my own and I really do mean it - this Fall Blend is awesome!!