Jan 072015
 

We all have THOSE moments in life when we feel snowed and overwhelmed. But keep this perspective and you'll get through!  True story of how the blessing really is right around the corner if you keep this in mind!I feel dishonest claiming these holidays were more harried than most. Let’s be real; I will always manage to work my panicky personality into a sizable tizzy come every end of December. But there were a few extras that added to the excitement this go around.

While we avoided the plague that touched down last Christmas, my husband caught a nasty cold on the eve of our ginormous holiday party…and didn’t get better for another 2 weeks. Oh what fun.

The Christmas tree spent some time hanging out on the floor, which, while a fun new take on the traditional upright stance, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

My daughter celebrated Christmas Day itself with a sudden nasty stomach bug that left her puking…while we were riding in the minivan for 4 hrs. Over the river and through the woods…

Oh, and my sister had her baby. And I’m still beaming.

And I’m still tired, a little weary and surrounded by mountains of Christmas decorations. But you know what? Add all this stuff together and what do you have? The perfect Christmas.

What?? I know, but really…

You see, I can spend hours and days fretting over how we will conceivably get everything done, how impossible schedules will sort. But a while ago I learned the best way to know that you can walk through a fiery, challenging moment is to walk through it. Any burns you pick up along the way are boss reminders that you were strong–and that the love and blessings remain constant.

Our moment of trickiness began at 3am the day before my niece was born, the same day that my husband took ill and the day before our party. We got the call that my sister was in labor. Too hyped to go back to sleep, I got up. Determined to start tackling my day on the right foot, I took my vitamins. It was then I realized that in my blurry state I had mistakenly taken my sleep medication instead.

Super.

I now had a party to prep for, a sick husband, sleeping children, a sister in labor, and had just taken a sedative that would wear off in approximately 7 hours. I was DELIGHTED with myself.

And this is when my husband shone. This is where I saw strength shine in our moment.

Knowing I needed to be with my sister, we all packed up and went to the hospital. As it turns out, the poor dear found herself in a 30 hour labor, so we did have to make a few trips back and forth to home, but in the end, my niece was born, I was there, and my husband readied the entire house for the party himself. My hero.

In the midst of this, in the middle of the the second night, I heard him answer a call from my brother-in-law announcing that my sister’s labor was progressing. As I listened to my husband offer cheerful encouragement and support, artfully masking the tiredness in his voice, I felt so grateful to have this close family and for the love covering this moment.

People had fun at the party, shockingly despite my decision to abandon my fancy crab rolls (yes, I failed Pinterest that night). And when a very dear friend bailed me out by making amazing soft pretzels and others offered help and sweet congratulations on my new aunt status, I was surrounded by warmth in our moment.

As I cuddled the new baby on Christmas morning, my heart leapt with awe. When we finally landed at my father’s girlfriend’s house and all kindly welcomed my sick daughter cuddled up on the couch (nope, not awkward at all), I could have focused on the puke bucket sitting by the Christmas tree, but instead, I was simply blessed in our moment.

Feeling a bit stressed by life? Hang in there, the flipside is right around the corner. Keep the perspective outlined here and you're good to go!

I can often fuss over what my life is not or what we’re missing, but the truth is, through this Christmas, in all it’s chaotic mess, with the people I cherish most in this world, I felt strong. I felt loved. I felt warmth. I felt blessed.

Fiery moments aren’t really a bad thing at all; after the smoke clears, your vision is a whole lot clearer.

 

First image credit: image ID:28788529, copyright:Maridav

Dec 242014
 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”, Isaiah 9:6, NIV

One Holy Night long ago, the miracle of Jesus appeared on this earth. God's greatest gift to the world; the first Christmas, perfect and glorious.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” Luke 2:10-14, NIV

This Christmas season, I remain stymied and blessed by the gift God lavished on the world by sending us His one and only son to save us from a life that was far, far less than perfect. God loves us so; I see it in the wonder in my children’s eyes and in the love that passes between friends and family as we celebrate this precious season.

This year, I most see it in the sweetness of my baby niece who was born four days ago to my sister, the most gorgeous soul I know on this earth.

Welcome, Peyton Ann! We love you so!

Could not be more excited to welcome my baby niece this Christmas season! To the miracle of babies!

And as a very, very special treat, my dear friend, the incredibly talented and acclaimed Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku, has written a tribute haiku to the Peytons of this world–my new favorite name as it now belongs to two very fabulous ladies.

An original haiku from the talented Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku about the greatest gift of all!

Thank you, Peyton Price, and xoxoxo (hint to readers: go buy her book–it’s fantastic)!

As for you, readers, wherever and however you find your joy this Christmas, know that you are loved and cherished–so very, very much.

First image credit: image ID:15824287, copyright:ginosphotos1

Dec 222014
 

Christmas season can be insane! All of the busy holiday hustle and bustle keeps us hopping, but take one minute to sit back and breathe in the season--I'll bet you have some of the same favorites I do!Not sure about you, but by the time I roll into December 22, I more resemble a puddle of exhausted holiday effort versus a cheery blinking bulb of Christmas energy. Give me a cookie to frost and I may just stab a lone M&M in the middle and call it a day. Icing is so overrated anyway.

That’s cool; I’m human and tired and busy. But while I haven’t yet found the solution for a convenient portable caffeine IV drip, I still really, really like Christmas. In my dreams, I would savor and soak up each minute for all it’s glory and wonder, allowing the awe of the holiday to course through every moment.

Since it is Christmas and since I love it so very much, I’m going to take pause now to do just that; let its magic radiate.  I know this post has been written a million times over a million different ways, but here are the gifts of the season I most delight in.

And I so hope you take a second to share your own favorites here too! We may not get them all in before the New Year’s ball drops, but we’ve got a few days to try, friends ;)

I love the lights. All of them. On trees, in windows and in the form of ginormous inflatable Homer Simpsons wearing Santa hats.  While I may find some of the choices less aesthetically pleasing, they must make somebody happy. And happy is good, especially at Christmas.

Sitting and staring at my tree. This happens for maybe about 3 seconds every season, but when it does, it’s bliss.

Seeing my kids’ eyes wider than they’ve ever been. When they see Santa. When they think about Christmas morning. When they tell me every 20 minutes that they think they heard the reindeer on our roof.

Fires and Christmas movies. Fires and Christmas movies. My husband and I recently debated what one Christmas movie we could not go without. We couldn’t settle; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf and Love Actually all make the season for us.

Christmas is full of cozy delights. Check these out and find a few perfect excuses to snuggle up by the fire!

The music, obviously. Sure, I have to closet-listen before Thanksgiving so my husband doesn’t divorce me, but come Black Friday, it’s all Christmas tunes, all the time. It doesn’t matter if the song is about a hippopotamus or Mary and Joseph, I’m belting it out.

A Christmas book. Sure, I enjoy reading all different types of books year-round (don’t forget to read Leaving Time with us for the January book club!), but every Christmas I make sure one holiday-themed novel lands on my bedside table, and I soak up the sweet tale, however cheesy it may be.

And finally, the memories–all of them. The happy ones, like my dad’s goofy letters from Santa, and the sad ones, most about my mother’s last Christmas with us. The horrific ones; I’ll never forget last year when our entire family puked our way through Christmas day.  And the funny ones–I’m pretty sure someday my daughter’s epic tree knock-down will be. Maybe not quite yet though…;)

Making memories and grasping traditions through all the hustle and bustle is really what it’s all about. It’s why, even when we are up to our ears in tangled light strings and cursing ourselves for running out of out scotch tape again, we still beam year after year when we meet up with Christmastime.

Go ahead and shove that wrapping paper aside for one minute. Soak in the sweetness of the season; it’s a gift, readers. Merry Christmas and love to you and yours.

 

First image credit: image ID:60084215, copyright:Laputin

Second image credit: image ID:58092323, copyright:vadimphoto1@gmail.com

Dec 152014
 

Surviving all the stress and craziness of the holidays is no joke. Downed Christmas trees and all, I think I'm onto a valuable trick to help see us through. Tune in here--and grab a glass of eggnog to help us toast our survival!My daughter had a banner week last week.

Upon smelling the rank fishy odor at the grocery store and pondering the stinky source, she pointed at a innocent nearby middle-age woman and loudly concluded “EW! IT’S HER BUTT”. Super.

A kind friend gifted her an Elsa doll for Christmas. She opened it and squeed, “Yay! Now I can be like all the other kids!”. Score one for my continued claim on the Mom of the Year title.

The dog was in the middle of vomiting and my daughter decided he “needed more love” so grabbed him to give a tight stomach squeeze as he was mid-puke. She really is such a sweet child.

She then knocked over the Christmas tree.

Let me restate for effect: SHE KNOCKED OVER THE CHRISTMAS TREE. Like, the broken ornaments, shattered glass, her father was at work, “Go to your room NOW before I completely lose my crap on you!” kind of knocking over the tree.

I really liked my tree. Like, really liked it.

I inherited my delight in Christmas trees: my BFF and I used to joke growing up about my mother’s passion for our family tree. In the event of a home invasion of some sort, we imagined her crying, “Take my children, but save the Christmas tree!”

While I’m not sure I’m this far gone, I definitely have a thing for my tree.

In fact, I had planned to write a post today about how much I love and cherish all the ornaments on my tree. All of them carefully selected or made with love, most of them from my mother. As many of these meaningful ornaments now sit in a need-massive-amounts-of-super-glue pile, obviously, my post plans have changed.

And that’s probably for the best.

Christmas feeling a bit like it's crashing down all around you? It may be. And that's okay. Here's why having the best-laid holiday plans go awry isn't a total loss--I promise.

I’ve found that the older I get and the more my natural inner-planner psychosis takes root, I really need to get over myself. I can lay plans and map out my days, especially the holi-days, with an astounding fervor, but then two funny little things happened that make actually sticking to these plans a bit tricky:

Kids and life.

You see, no matter how much I plot and plan I can’t control either. While I can hope and pray my daughter plays nicely without wreaking destruction (and now is explicitly forbidden from being in the vicinity of the tree ever again), she is most wholly human–and a child. And as much I’d prefer not to spend my afternoon sucking up tree water with the shop vac, I wouldn’t have her any other way.

While my mother was supposed to be here to delight in the ornaments with me and memories from her were not supposed to be lying in shattered shards while I acutely miss her this season, I’m going to choose to trust that God knows what He’s doing. I know I sure don’t.

So what can I do when plans so utterly fail? One thing. Only, ever one thing: GIVE UP.

Completely. Totally. Give up. Things will probably work out. Or they will totally fall apart. Either way, I’m going to do my best to enjoy the parts I can and realize I have little to no control over any of it.

And I’m going to sit here and nosh on the yummy chocolate chips my sweet, sweet friend dropped off when she came over to help me heft the tree back to an upright-ish position.

I’m staring at the tree that looks like a small child on a rampage attacked it–because one did.

It’s a mess. That’s okay. There will probably be other years and other trees. And I’m guessing there were actually very few perfectly decorating Christmas trees present at the birth of Jesus. Yet somehow the angels found a reason to celebrate the holiday anyway.

Dec 102014
 

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Grab up all the coxy fun your jammies allow! With Joe Boxer, the comfy comfort is fashionable AND fun!While our children usually look adorable come bedtime, my husband and I don’t have the best track record for acing out pajama wear. So when Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart asked if I would to check out their line of jammies for my whole family, it was very exciting times around here!

My husband fails miserably at pajamas–he sleeps in his boxer shorts. But he asked me not to share anything too personal about him in this post, so I never told you this.

As for me? I think I last wore matching jammies I was 10. I see the sweet ladies in sales ads with their coordinating bedtime tops and bottoms and think, “Aw! How cute! I should get a pair.” Then I forget two seconds later and end up just sleeping in my athletic gear. Because, let’s be honest, I never took off my leggings from that morning when I was entertaining the fleeting notion of exercise.

Yet Christmas is the time of year we are emboldened to attempt tasks we never otherwise would, like handling your children containers of sprinkles and steeling yourself against screaming in terror as they get flung all over the room in an attempt to decorate cookies.

So swayed by the excitement of the season, I was excited to tackle this jammy situation. I had visions of us decked out in sweet Christmas themed sets. How cute would that be!?

No such luck. Those sets are available (and they are sweet!), but they weren’t what we settled on.  But that’s okay; I let my kiddos choose their own from the Joe Boxer line, and they thought this was so much fun.

Cozying up in these jammies with your family is all the comfiness you can need! Snuggle in friends, the warmth is here!

 

While my husband settled on a more reserved stripe pattern (you have to step cautiously into this world of pajamas, you know), there are a lot of fun prints for guys with witty phrases.  Choices like the Ugly Xmas Pants and the Moosetache pants are cool ideas. And while skull-covered loungewear isn’t Mommy’s favorite, my son couldn’t be prouder of his pick. At least my daughter’s panda pair are cutie-patootie, and I think my pink camo set hits the perfect note of comfy tough.

 

Embrace the family jammies and win! It's a sweet life when you cozy up and settle into these comfy pairs!

With Joe Boxer, there is something for everyone.  The line has a wide selection of fun, whimsical prints for men, women and kids in a full range of styles, including footed pajamas, slightly tapered legged bottoms, hooded animal loungers, boxers, pajama pants and shorts sets, and fleece pajama pants.

I love that there are so many choices and that the prices are so reasonable. I also love that cozy these jammies make our favorite holiday tradition even more cozy: watching Christmas movies by the fire! Since our kids are so young, it might not always be a classic Christmas movie, but hey, with the pretty lights of the tree twinkling in the background, animated kids’ movies work too. Put on our fun Joe Boxer pajamas and cuddle in–movie night is on!Knowing what modern marriage looks like is a tricky beast, Rest assured--YOU ARE NORMAL. Love on your relationship through our crazy,

 

For more on this line and to get some jammy-inspiration of your own, check out these two fun holiday jingles and grab some cozy pairs of pajamas for your whole family from Joe Boxer available at Kmart!

******This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Joe Boxer available at Kmart.********

Dec 082014
 

Socializing and partying this time of year are BIG EVENTS!  And knowing how to do it with grace and class can be daunting. Check in here for some tips--and a few laughs to help take the bite out of the nerves!It’s a big night around these parts, friends. To restate, I am leaving the house. Before you fall over in shock, let me tell you the whole story–it’s to ATTEND A GALA. Okay, now I’ll pause a minute while this sinks in…

Not sinking in? I know, I get it.  This is truly an unbelievable occurrence. Mostly for me, who has never, ever attended a gala. Has never even imagined attending a gala. Will never attend a gala again.

But you see, my husband got an invite to a fancy-pants one at The Philly Art Museum tonight. For a machine. That’s right, a machine. In his science world, apparently new machines warrant celebrations of epic proportions. While I remain marginally concerned about hanging with a crowd who likes to dress-up on a Monday night to celebrate machines, the simple fact remains: I am being offered a night out. AT A GALA.

So while I madly fret over what to wear and prepare to meet Condoleezza Rice (In my understanding, there is never a gala that Condoleezza Rice does not attend, correct? This notion is partially fueled by my obsession with People magazine and limited awareness of galas, but I’m pretty sure I’m right), I remain very aware that I might be screwed.

I do not know how to behave at galas.

Should I start stroking the machine in awe immediately upon seeing it? On the other hand, will I be arrested if I touch the machine?

What if I accidentally knock over the waiter’s tray when grabbing a champagne? Please God, tell me there will be champagne.

Forget Condoleezza, will I have to shake hands with Angelina Jolie? I am strictly Team Jennifer and will always be; for this I will not apologize.

The eventualities are daunting.

Knowing how to act and what to/do say at a work holiday party can be tricky. Here are tips for not only surviving, but having a fantastic time out amidst all the glitz and glitter!

In any case, I have decided I need to commit to a few ground-rules to help see myself through the night. I always function better when boundaries are firmly in place.

1) I WILL NOT robot-dance if there if fast music. I am really quite good at The Robot, but I am not sure this will be fully appreciated at this event. Best saved for a more appropriate occasion.

2) I WILL order a fancy drink–because I can. And I will feel fantastically elaborate when I do–because I owe it to the yoga pants I wear ever other single day of the year.

3) I WILL NOT fantasize about going home and watching Hallmark movies. I WILL appreciate that I’m in the company of other adults and this can be pleasant even if there are no Santa Clauses in snow globes winking in the background.

4) I WILL NOT sneak into the ladies’ room to check in on my Amazon lightening deals. Horribly tempting, but potentially better done at another time.

5) I WILL allow myself to soak up the sweetness of a night out, flirt with my husband and enjoy the gift of a fancy night out during the holiday season. It’s a total win–how could I go wrong?

Friends, I’m SO acing out the gala–I can totally feel a shining moment coming on ;)

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:6584928, copyright:nikascorpionka

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID: 10709258, copyright:pressmaster

Dec 032014
 

Nothing says Christmas like a Hallmark Channel movie. Cuddle up and catch these flicks for some cozy family time! Bring the wrapping paper to multi-task!This is one of my favorite Christmas season posts, first published two years ago. I’m happy to report that during this time, my passion for Hallmark Channel Christmas movies has only deepened. The kids are now older and require more silly things like hot meals and help with homework, so I get to watch these movies far less. But the flipside is that after years of insomnia well conditioned by repetetive middle-of-the-night wake-ups, I have come to fully embrace the 24/7 commitment Hallmark maintains to streaming these holiday confections.

I can tune in ANY TIME. THEY ARE ALWAYS ON. God bless you, Hallmark. God bless you…

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I love Hallmark movies.  Let me clarify: I love Hallmark Christmas movies.  I’ve learned from experience that quality of content get get a bit dicey on this channel come St. Patrick’s Day with stories about villagers trying to find magical secret leprechauns.

So it’s really just best to soak up all the soapy goodness right now (or anytime from Halloween on, since that’s the way the Hallmark Channel rolls). We’re all so overcome with sugar cookie endorphins, we couldn’t possibly be less than swoony over the same Santa-visits-a-small-town-and-falls-in-love storyline told 100 times over–in basically exact replication with minor variations on the spelling of “Mr. Claus”.

These movies are pure delight. If this world was a sensical place, the dishes would do themselves for the entire month of December. Sadly, Santa has yet to grant me this wish. But this is where the beauty of the universal storyline comes into play.

Do not despair if you can’t tune in every two hours on the regular! Just pop in when you can, and you’ll still be able to follow along perfectly, I promise.

In our house, there are many Christmas traditions. Not the least of which is the too-fun delight of tuning into a family-friendly Hallmark movie. Check out what we're watching!

Do a quick read-over of this breakdown of the ubiquitous storyline, and you will be set for the season!:

Lonely woman moves to new small town, population 18 + an overpopulated animal rescue center.

She is poor and needs a job.  Often, she has kids.  (They may not be hers, but she has the weighty responsibility of caring for them through a set of bizarre circumstances that never completely make sense)

She finds a job. Usually at the animal shelter. Or at a coffee shop or bakery.

Strange man starts coming into her place of employment and seeing her. SPOILER ALERT: He doesn’t really like the animals or cupcakes that much–he just wants to see her.

The woman works hard to fight her feelings for five desperate minutes, but then must finally acknowledge the powerful connection she has to the man.

She has a crisis of some sort, which usually involves Christmas lights and a holiday pageant at a nursing home. It is also at this point that we may or may not realize that she is secretly a elf.

The man and woman fully give into their deep love that has developed over the 2 hr. length of the movie (commercial breaks included) and decide that together, they can beat all odds (that include her possibly being an elf and the fact that the Christmas pageant is now over).

In epic climax of the movie, the couple shares a sweet holiday kiss.

The glow of a Christmas shines in the background and a child (not necessarily one that has yet appeared in the movie) beams in gratitude for the blessing of Christmas miracles.

I know.  I KNOW.  Exactly.  It’s fabulous. Pass the wrapping paper, mountain of gifts and queue up the next one.  I’m so in.

No really, even Santa Claus is tuning in--watch these Christmas movies now! And enjoy :)

 

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, Vector ID:6910270,copyright: vanias

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:56375553, copyright: Syda_Productions

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:31417375, copyright:HASLOO

Nov 282014
 

I love my deals and steals, and because of this story I will always love Black Friday! Crowded malls and crazy people don't matter so much when you think about the money savings!Trust me, I completely understand the frustration with how Black Friday edges into Thanksgiving.  At some stores, it’s even completely taken over the holiday with doors opening early Thursday morning or deals running all week long.

My husband loathes pre-Black Friday Christmas. It’s one of the things he can rant about for hours, similar to his disdain for mini cupcakes. I know, I don’t get it either, but don’t ask him about it unless you have a spare afternoon to burn. In any case, in our home any and all Christmas decorations, lights, music and other festivities are banned until after the turkey has been served and the leftovers are stuffed in the fridge.

No, our Black Friday truly means Black FRIDAY. We give our thanks on Thursday, and then get busy with a very important task the day after. What task? Saving money.

I’ve written about tricks and tips I use to save my family cash and shared about my love for shopping and product finds, so it makes sense that Black Friday is kind of a big deal around here. It actually has very little to do with buying Christmas gifts and a whole lot to do with saving money on things we’ll use throughout the year.

Sure the crazy shoppers and impossible-to-find parking spaces can be a beast. But not really that much of a beast because I find the energy of the hustle-and-bustle to be sort of exhilarating.

Forgoing sleep is not my favorite, though being able to cross off your whole list and be home by 7am is a high in its own right.

So really, for us, the sticky wickets of the day are just that–sticky, but don’t really matter that much because, again, we are saving money.

I have a story about Black Friday. It’s a bit sentimental, and it is the one reason I will always love the day.

It was the first year we were married. We were the kind of poor that can’t eat out–at McDonalds. The kind that sobs a bit when you get sick because the $10 doctor’s office copay was simply not to be found. But my husband was doing this crazy thing and trying to be professional. He had a suit, but not a dress shirt to go with it. So we plotted and planned. We organized our sale papers and ads and got in line outside a department store at 4:30am (this was back when 5am openings were still a thing on Black Friday). We bee-lined to the men’s section and proudly found a nice shirt and tie set in his size.

We nervously handed it to the clerk along with our clipped coupons. $5. FIVE DOLLARS. And with that my husband and I fell in love with Black Friday and we’ll never look back.

The savings may never again be as sweet or as meaningful as they were this first year, but they are still there. And they still make our budget smile and allow us to victory dance a bit in pride when we catch them.

So if fighting through the crowds or stalking Amazon’s lightning deals happens to be your thing too, know that my husband and I right there with you–memory of a snazzy dress shirt fueling us on. Go get your savings, friends!

This video explaining our Black Friday passion was shared in this post last year. And yeah, nothing’s changed ;)

Image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:1375537, copyright:shirotie

Nov 262014
 

Knowing what to buy for holiday gifts can be tricky. I love this list of finds I put together! Save money and bargain shop with these unique Christmas present ideas. I would never have thought of some of these!I love Christmas, and  I love shopping. Add them together and you have a delightful perfect storm of holiday fun. And a very crammed-full closet of packages waiting to be wrapped. 

But I also love saving my money and being really smart about my purchases. I want to make sure that each item I purchase is worth the cash I’m sinking into it and that it’s something the recipient will truly appreciate.

After checking out A LOT of different items this season, I’m tickled to share these with you as my favorite items for everyone on your list. These are things that my family and I have used, read, tried and fallen for. Worth your hard-earned pennies and guaranteed (with the very official Mom of the Year seal of approval!) to bring holiday smiles.

The best news for you? A bunch of these items are up for grabs in the  two giveaways below! Make sure to enter both giveaways–there is one for the kid stuff and one for the gifts for grown-ups.

Cross some items off your list or treat yourself; just think of how fun scoring all this loot would be!

Gifts for Kids:

http://www.yoxo.com/yoxomoto-doon/

My son looooves to build and put stuff together, so when he met these YOXO toys, it was a very, very happy day around these parts. He uses these toys to construct his own toys using chipboard pieces in the shapes of Ys, Xs and Os. For even more creative building, the pieces are compatible with paper towel rolls, toilet paper tubes, cereal boxes, and other maker stuff around your house. Green AND encouraging imagination? Snatch up a set for the builder on your list!

Up for grabs: YOXOmoto Doon and YOXObot Orig (total value $40)

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These sweet mini korker bows are the perfect gift for the little girl in your life! Make her feel like princess with a pretty touch of dress-up!

When I found these super-sweet mini korker bows from Aria’s Bowtique, I fell in love. Pretty, affordable and a shop owner who is eager to give individual attention to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for? Every little princess will swoon over all the options available!

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The personalized childrens books make such a creative and sweet gift! Allows kids to focus on spelling skills and name recognition while having a lot of fun along the way!

I remember having a personalized book as a kid and loving it. I was the hero of my own story; what could be cooler? This modern twist on the fill-in-the-blank name books from Lost My Name is such a creative gift for little ones! Each book tells the story of a child who has lost his or her name, and bravely sets off to track down the missing letters. Along the way the child meets lots of weird and wonderful characters, who each give the first letter of their name. You can’t go wrong with this sweetly written and illustrated story book!

Up for grabs: One personalized Lost My Name book (value $30)

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This sweet childrens book captures the wonder of the holiday season when anything is possible! Find some Christmas magic with the Peppermint family!

This time of year, a children’s book that captures the magic of the season is such a wonderful treat!  As author of The Peppermints: Thanksgiving Day Parade, Nikki Maloney describes, “The Peppermint family travel to New York City for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Expect the unexpected, where surprise and excitement are right around the corner. It’s that wonderful time of year when anything is possible.” Grab a copy for your kids and a few extra for the other little ones in your life!

Up for grabs: A copy of The Peppermints: Thanksgiving Day Parade (value $15)

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For Grown-ups (aka persons who occasionally drink from something other than a juice box):

I LOVE my paper and pen planners! The customizable options at this site are fantastic! Order one ASAP and get organized today!

I am an old-school planning addict. My husband has tried to bring me over to the dark side of tech-savvy scheduling on my phone and such, but it simply a lost cause. I love my paper and pen planners to an obsessive degree. My annual shopping and selection of the next year’s book is a tremendous event–or was a tremendous event, I should say. When I recently discovered Personal-planner.com, I was a goner and will be snatching up this treasure every year. The customizable options were a dream–I could opt to include Sudoku pages in the back of my book?? Bliss! They also sell really gorgeous stuff like notepads and pretty pens. What busy mom wouldn’t swoon over this planner?

Up for grabs: A $40 voucher to spend at Personal-planner.com

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This gorgeous, trendy, STURDY phone case is a mom's-dream-come-true. Deck out your phone today with this sweet new design!

I got a phone case, and it was a flop, seemingly soaking up dirt and getting dingier by the day. Then I got another phone case and it shattered the first time I dropped it. Instead of getting uber-grouchy, I finally found the perfect phone case with this Kim Parker for Trident design case. It’s cute. It’s pretty. It holds up when I drop it about a gazillion times a day and keeps my phone running smoothly. Score! Check out all the different designs and gift a durable chic to a lady on your list!

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A boss leather cuff is the signature piece of my dreams! The shop owner is a dream to work with and customize your leather jewelry order!

I can’t get enough of this leather cuff–ever. I wear mine nearly every single day. There’s something about tough boss accessories that excites me to no end. I chose to simply get my children’s names engraved on the plate, but that’s the dream of Custom Leather Jewelry by Michelle and Rob. YOU pick exactly what you want–band width and length, plate metal, and enagravement text. There are other items available in the shop too. The shop owners are a delight to work with and will make sure you get the piece that you have in mind–perfect as a treat for yourself or as a gift for a friend!

Up for grabs: $35 voucher to create a bracelet of your choice

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This shop is a sweet gift-giving favorite! Head over now and cross off your whole list with these gorgeous jewelry and Christmas ornament finds!

Penny Jules has been my favorite small business shop since I ventured into this blogging business. The genuine heart she pours into every item she makes is so apparent. There is rarely a day that goes by that I’m not sporting Penny Jules item–in my hair, in the form of jewelry or on my Christmas tree. Everything she creates is unique and personalized.  Shop around her site and cross off your list with the work of this creative genius!

Up for grabs: Snowflake ornament (value $14) and $20 merchandise credit to Penny Jules

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This skin care line is phenomenal! Care for yourself and take charge of your beauty regimen with Belli!

In recent years, I have become rather focused on skin care. I figure it’s one small way I can take care of myself, plus the ritual of washing it at the end of each day works as a little shout-out to sanity. No matter how insane the day has been, at least I can wash my face. I search for and stalk products to help me love on my skin. So when I was introduced to the quality skin care products from Belli Skin Care, I was thrilled. From their eye brightener to their facial wash, I am glowing! Grab a few items to stuff in a friend’s stocking and she will be thanking you!

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Suburban Haiku from Peyton Price is a perfect way to let your friends know you care! The gift that says "I get it!" is precious indeed!

When I’m not busy beating my head against a brick wall over the agony of attempting to responsibly raise a 3 yr. old and a 5 yr. old, I like to take a few milliseconds to laugh. Hook me up with a funny book like Peyton Price‘s Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence, and I’m good to go. Reading Price’s quick and smartly witty haikus about day-to-day mom life was a delight, and gifting it to a friend is a the perfect way to share a supportive hug and some hearty laughs!

Up for grabs:  A copy of Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence (value $10).

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This Van Gogh vodka is gorgeous in presentation and quality in taste. Would make a perfect gift for the hard-to-shop-for person on your list!

At the end of long day of filled with lots of kids-driving-Mommy-nuts nonsense, there’s nothing sweeter than a tasty drink.  So when Van Gogh Vodka asked me to sample their designer vodka, there wasn’t a whole lot of arm-twisting. While I don’t generally enjoy liquor straight-up, this product was delicious. I added a few cubes, poured myself a finger and delighted in a few yummy sips to close off the evening. What a perfect hostess gift during this holiday season!

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Looking for a classic, gorgeous pair of earrings? Delivered! Check out these pearl earrings that go with everything!

The older I get, the more I crush on classic treasured items. As far as I have learned, you can’t miss with a pair of well-chosen pearl earrings. When I found this pair from Pearl & Clasp, I was tickled! At 9mm, these white freshwater pearls are the perfect accent to any outfit. Look like a fancy lady with this one simple add-on–Audrey Hepburn-esque vibe delivered. What a sweet simple gift to give to the sweetheart on your list!

Up for grabs: One pair of white freshwater pearl earrings (value $24).

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Clean teeth with a shiny finish? Sounds perfect to me! Snatch up these products ASAP!

And don’t forget the stocking suffers! Call it a mid-life teeth-cleaning crisis, but I am really crushing on my Spinbrush and new Colgate Enamel Health products. A way to clean up after noshing on all those Christmas treats? Sounds like a win to me!

Lest this list still leaves you wanting, for even more ideas, check out last week’s post about my new favorite site for making gift-shopping easy-peasy. If you haven’t yet, hop over to GetThemGifts.com and save yourself a ton of hassle trying to find the right gifts!

Whichever of these fabulous finds you decide on, HAPPY SHOPPING, friends! Go get your savvy holiday buying on! And make sure to enter below to score a bunch of these items for free and make your wallet smile ;)

Shop smart and save money with these unique gift ideas that will leave everyone on your list saying "Wow!" Trust me, Gift Giver of the Year title is up for grabs with these creative ideas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

****Featured products were received for review purposes, but any and all enthusiasm for products is 100% genuine!****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:15854487, copyright: Syda_Productions

Last image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:8181207, copyright:belchonock

Nov 212014
 

Finding the perfect gift for the kids in your life can be so tricky, but by using this website, it's not hard at all!  Holiday gift-giving delivered in one click!Friends, I think it’s officially on. While I’m trying hard to remain dedicated to visions of turkey and thoughts of thankfulness, Christmas wish lists are edging their way in to our days. Shopping season is here.

In the past, I’ve been a more organized person. This year, I’m not sure if it’s that I’m getting older, all the endless school Harvest parties, or that I would just really, really rather spend those last few minutes of the evening sneaking in some time with my books instead of pricing out the latest Frozen dolls (head’s up: one is being given away for FREE below!). In any case, the general state of our holiday shopping organization amounts to a scattered mess of sale ads strewn all over the kitchen table on Saturday mornings. Top it off with a bunch of sticky syrup hands, and we have ourselves a full-on mess.

So when I was introduced to GetThemGifts.com, I took serious pause. What was this sweet sanity?? A one-stop shop for everything on my kids’ list?

Even better, this site helps you figure out what you really should be getting for the young ones in your life.  If your kids are at all like mine, they change their minds every single time they see a new toy, so Santa ends up rather confused and overwhelmed with ideas.

Overwhelmed with kids' Christmas lists? Take the guess work out of holiday shopping and find the best-rated, top toys here!

Enter Get Them Gifts. Go to the site, and four categories immediately pop up to help you narrow your search for the perfect toys: relationship, occasion, age and price range. Enter the information for the kid you’re shopping for, and a customized shopping guide for your needs pops up. There is also a link on the homepage to the Top 100 Toys for the year along with pictures of the hottest toys of that day. It doesn’t get clearer or more user-friendly than this. Easy-peasy!

I have long loved my online shopping sites, but Get Them Gifts has taken things to a whole new level.  They work really hard to make sure the items they offer will really be appreicated by the recipient. As described on their website:

“Each item we have is selected after careful scrutiny. We want to make sure that you are “hip, relevant and cool.” We do not have any Sony Walkmans here and we highly doubt that your nephew would appreciate one for his college graduation. The stores we work with are a vital part to providing you with the best results possible. We select each store after going thru all their products and determining that it fits our criteria.

By using our site you get access to the latest gifts out there, we comb the internet looking for what the latest products are…by clicking one button you have gained access to immense amount of data that will allow you to find the right gift in 1 click. You see products, you can organize products and you can give the gift that makes you stand out. The memorable gift, the practical gift, the personal gift”

Finding the perfect gift for the kids in your life can be so tricky, but by using this website, it's not hard at all!  Holiday gift-giving delivered in one click! Capture all the awe and surprise!

GetThemGifts.com takes the guess work out of gift-giving. More time for parents and grandparents to enjoy the season with their kiddos instead of spending hours trolling for the ideal gift.

Make sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter too. They will be running two giveaways per week on their Facebook page until after Christmas. Head over and score some fun loot!

And make sure to enter the giveaway HERE below to win an Elsa doll to gift to a little sweetie in your life! I’ve been promised that this toy WILL sell out before Christmas arrives, so make sure to snatch it up!

GetThemGifts.com takes the guess work out of gift-giving. More time for parents and grandparents to enjoy the season with their kiddos instead of spending hours trolling for the ideal gift.  So pop over today and shop away–and then pour yourself a glass of eggnog to celebrate your gift-giving savvy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****This post was sponsored by GetThemGifts.com, but my glowing opinion of this site is 100% genuine!****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:1460426,copyright:FreedomImage

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:34408171, copyright:Syda_Productions

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