Feb 272015
 

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!My favorite day of the week! The hope, the promise, (albeit the very unlikely) dream that there will be a minute of relaxation or a snoozle of extra sleep hiding somewhere in the corners of your weekend…it could happen. Keep the fantasy alive, fellow warriors.

A few months ago, I started having a teensy celebration on my social media every Friday to recognize the day. I’m not sure anyone else is that into it, but it makes me giggle, so I’m keeping the weekly fun rolling.

Follow along with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to check out the latest Friday laughs. And please share any of your own ideas for how you revel-it-up come the end of the week!

For now, smile the it’s the week is over, and go bold with a true wild mom-style move. Inspiration below!

 

 

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

FRIDAY! The big day full of dreams of relaxation and maybe, just maybe a few extra minutes of sleep! Treat yourself to some laughs with ideas of how you can kick off the weekend Mommy-style--some of these wild ideas you would never have thought of, but I promise they will make your day!

 Happy Friday, friends! Go enjoy!

Feb 252015
 

Visiting the Crayola Experience was the perfect way to encourage my kids creative efforts and explore the delights of crayons, markers and other art-supplies! I loved the DIY fun and this was the perfect diversion for my active kids--read on to find out the can't-miss highlights!Every once in a while, I decide to be That Mom. You know, the mom who does something really cool with her kids.

It all started with an episode of our beloved Daniel Tiger. When the crew took a trek to “the crayon factory”, my children began a vivid love affair with the notion of making a visit to The Crayola Experience and have never looked back. That was two years ago.

We first visited over a year ago, and my kids were so enamored they’ve been begging to go back since. It wasn’t a hard sell, as I have very fond memories of going myself as a child with my grandparents. And while the design of the crayon box may have changed, the fact that it is an awesome thing to do with kids has not.

Throw in the fact that I might totally lose my crap if I hear the tinny tune of an electronic toy one more time while hibernating down in these arctic temps, and a chance to get out and let my kids loose on some creative play sounded beyond sweet. My husband was in for taking off so we could make a day of it, and The Crayola Experience was on!

There are crayons and markers to make, Model Magic to shape, molds to melt crayons in, colorful wax to draw with, and an entire floor dedicated to craft-making. With the live factory demonstration (we saw it twice and my kids would have happily sat through the interactive show a zillion times more) and the two-story high gynasium for kids to run wild in (a separate smaller structure for toddlers is available too), we had found the perfect cure for winter blehs.

Visiting the Crayola Experience was the perfect way to encourage my kids creative efforts and explore the delights of crayons, markers and other art-supplies! I loved the DIY fun and this was the perfect diversion for my active kids--read on to find out the can't-miss highlights!

They had so much fun. The Art Alive! section left their mouths gaping; kids create digital works to be displayed on an interactive big screen–their work was being broadcast! And Doodle in the Dark lead to endless giggles. As they interacted with animated crayons and played with an interactive floor screen, I did the unthinkable: I sat down on a bench in contented relaxation and said to my husband “They will sleep so well tonight.” Bliss.

And since I’m sucker and we only do adventurous things as a family once in forever, the kids were each allowed to pick one special treat from the gift shop. Truth told, I love the gift shop: it is chock full of nifty gift ideas for creative play with lots of products you can’t find in stores. Also true? I am thrilled with my kids’ picks. The umbrella my daughter chose was perfect (I’ve wanted one for her for forever for rainy preschool drop-offs and pick-ups), and I can’t tell you how many fascinated minutes my son’s marker-maker has filled. And we’ve only made half of the markers in the kit, so lots more fun to come!

Visiting the Crayola Experience was the perfect way to encourage my kids creative efforts and explore the delights of crayons, markers and other art-supplies! I loved the DIY fun and this was the perfect diversion for my active kids--read on to find out the can't-miss highlights!

Our visit to The Crayola Experience was fantastic. We made, we created, we got tons of artwork to bring home, and a boatload of fun memories were made. And then we got in the car, and my son’s first words were, “Mommy, can we go back to the crayon factory?” I think they had a good time?

Good news for you, friends? The Crayola Experience is offering an exclusive discount to my readers. To get this sweet discount, go HERE and enter code “Mom of the Year”.

Trust me, a trip to Easton is worth it. The kids will have a blast, creative genius will be sparked, and really, they will sleep like angels all night after you get home. Perfect fun for kids and parents ;)

Go get your Crayola on!

****Thank you to The Crayola Experience for providing my family with tickets to their attraction; our delight in our visit is 100% genuine!****

Feb 132015
 

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!If you’re anything like me, you may be a bit knackered from all the kid’s Valentine fun that’s been going down this week. And this isn’t going to be a post about trying to embrace the true meaning of Valentine’s Day despite the crazy. Let’s be honest, it will be a miracle if I even manage to stay up with my husband for even an hour after putting the kids to bed. The forecast for fancy heart-filled loved-laced celebrations looks grim around here.

But this is going to be a post where I share some of my favorite sweet smiles from over the past few years. If you simply can’t stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines’ cards have done you in, just pop in on a few links for a teensy break.

Because even if you can’t have all the wine and roses, Valentine’s Day is a pretty good time to feel the love. Enjoy the weekend, friends, however you spend it!

I realized my husband and I were totally on the same page–thanks to a Hallmark card.

That moment when you realize your spouse may actually be a bigger geek than you are.

Love is when the toast is burned, but we pretend it’s not because the morning is a crazy mess and we don’t want Mommy to lose her crap.

My husband has the weirdest bunch of hobbies ever, but I’m not even going to blink an eye.

I am 35 years old and I can’t put on my own shoes.

I busted the oil pan on the minivan and our budget was glaring at me. My husband reminded me this had nothing to do with the stuff that really matters on this earth.

My husband incessantly makes piles and chews his milkshakes; I am choosing to love him anyway.

With 5 simple words, my heart was stolen all over again.

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:23101678, copyright:SolominViktor

Third image credit: depostiphotos.com, image ID:18280999, copyright:alexraths

Feb 112015
 

Keeping a close eye on little ones all the time is TOUGH! Here is the perfect gadget to letting you make sure your kids are safe--while tackling your looming dish pile. It really works!We are entering a new stage in our household: independent play in our rooms. To those of you with older kids, this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal. For those of you with kids younger than my 3 yr. old and 5 yr. old, your mind is blown, “How does this even happen?!?”

But it does happen, trust me. Somehow baby gates get booted from staircases and your kids start saying wild things like, “Mommy, I am going to go up and play with my Legos.” The first few times, you will just nod numbly in shocked disbelief , stand at the bottom of the steps and hyper-vigilantly listen for the first possible indication that your child has injured himself.

Then, after a few successful unsupervised playtimes, you will start to relax a bit. You will enjoy the five minutes your children are happily occupied and begin to tackle the 16,000 tasks on your to-do list. Yet while the breathing room thrills you, your mom instinct won’t quit: “What are they doing up there?” “What is that thumping noise?” “Are they okay??” 

Obviously, we can’t watch our children for forever, but during this stage of not-quite independent, I would love to have an extra set of eyes. One that I could put upstairs so I can wash the dishes downstairs without panicking over the sounds coming from upstairs.

Enter the Safe&Sound® Pan & Tilt Full Color Video Baby Monitor from VTech. With a camera that pans up to 270 degrees side-to-side and tilts as many as 124 degrees up and down, it has your little ones covered. With a feature that allows you to zoom in up to 2x and a range of up to 1,000 feet, it can fully be your eyes even when you’re in another room!

Have more than one kid you want to keep an eye on? The monitor is expandable up to four handsets from one parent unit. And the transmission, however many handsets you use, is quality and secure. It is equipped with digital transmission. The signal is digitized and encrypted, ensuring video and audio transmission is always private. There is high resolution with a 2.8-inch color LCD and full-motion video with up to 25 frames per second and automatic night vision.

  • Talk-back intercom: Sometimes all your baby needs is to hear the sound of your voice. Comfort your infant from any room with the built-in intercom on the portable parent unit.
  • Temperature sensor
  • Wall-mount bracket
  • Vibrating sound-alert on the parent unit
  • Rechargeable battery with low-battery alert on the parent unit
  • Zoom the camera from the parent unit
  • 5-level sound indicator
  • Volume control

Keeping a close eye on little ones all the time is TOUGH! Here is the perfect gadget to letting you make sure your kids are safe--while tackling your looming dish pile. It really works!

The best news for you, readers? You have a chance to win one of five nursery safety baskets featuring VTech Safe&Sound® Pan & Tilt Full Color Video Baby Monitors! Hop in the Twitter party on Wednesday, 2/18/15 at 1pm ET for your chance to win. Winner will be randomly selected from participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Prizes limited to U.S. participants only.

Follow the #VTechBaby hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/themotherhood

I will be there, hosting the fun and eager to share more about this high-tech monitor while giving out a bunch of sweet prizes! Can’t wait to see you there–and here’s to keeping an extra eye on those young kiddos!

******This post is brought to you by VTech and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.******

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10837621, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Feb 042015
 

Keeping up with videos and pictures can seem daunting. With this simple app, all the guesswork and challenge of keeping up is erased--easy-peasy and FREE! Go score it now!My kids are at really cute ages. So many times I wish I could bottle up their 5 yr.old-ness and 3 yr. old-ness and keep it forever. Not saying they won’t do cute things in the years to come, but I find it pretty magical when my son explains the reason his girlfriend likes him as “I showed her my ducks.” Will it ever be this innocent again?!

My husband and I try to capture it all–we really do. We even have preschool concerts and big events down to a science; I snap the pics and he records the video as his hands are more steady. And then we do our best to text the highlights to friends and family, throwing some of our favorites up on Facebook. But at best, our efforts are haphazard.

So when I found out the OneDay app was coming to Android as of yesterday, 2/3/15 (it has already been on iTunes), I was pretty stoked. I had heard about this app endlessly from friends. About how awesome it was, how much kids loved it, and what a perfect way it was to capture memories all in one custom-made video. Now that it’s available on Android for FREE, it was time to give this app a whirl. Plus, the sweet new Valentines’ stories are adorbale!

What is it?

The OneDay App is an instant movie maker that helps parents make movies of their children like a pro in seconds with fun holiday themes and curated, thought provoking, fun story sets.

Is it hard to use?

No! OneDay makes it fun to create short movies of your child’s life with a few simple steps. You open the app, pick a question from a wide selection of fun story sets, and record your children’s answers. Then the app automatically stitches the recorded videos together, and adds music to make quality, priceless movies to share with family and friends.

The strength of the app is in its simplicity. No thinking required. No editing or video skills needed. If I can do this, so can you!

Overwhelmed by pictures and videos of your kids? This one app pulls it all together for you--all you have to do is film your cute kiddo! Go make some memories--the easy way!

How do I do it?

Download the app, chose a set of themed questions for your movie (try one of the Valentine’s prompts I mentioned–they are the perfect way to send a smile this time of year!), record your child’s answers, hit “save and created story” and then watch your edited video, with music and transitions.

The app guides you through and does all the hard work for you. You just record your kid and have fun!

What does a video look like?

So glad you asked! Check out what my very non-skilled, non-tech-savvy self came up with:

One with a touch of heart (please ignore my daughter passionately flailing on the side) and

One I like to call “Brother-Sister Love” (if you have a sibling pair at home, you will know exactly why this is so precious…)

Want to get this easy video-making fun for yourself?

Go HERE for iTunes and HERE for Android, download the app and let it guide you through making your own keepsake to share with friends and family.

Did I mention that it’s FREE? It definitely is. Go score fun for yourself and and get ready to laugh it up with your kids! With this app, you are all video stars!

*****This post was sponsored by OneDay, but my delight in this app is 100% genuine!*****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:3505216, copyright:Demixx

Jan 282015
 

Tomorrow night is the end of an era. A very sweet era. Parenthood, the show that has captured us for six seasons is bidding its adieu.

I love the show. With passion.

Because it is the perfect blend of heart and the aching humor that is a too true testament to the realness of this life.

Because it nails the pain, perfection and glory of our day-to-days every single time.

Because the characters love each other and define not only what family is, but what it, by my total estimation, should be.

Because I laugh. I cry. And sometimes my husband does too. Even though he would never, ever admit it.

The characters are phenomenally whole individually but unfailingly rise to greater heights when together–as family should.

This show is amazing...it's ability to capture your heart with the too-true realness of life while making you laugh along the way celebrates the beauty of life, family and parenthood like no other. Watch it NOW!

Christina blows my mind every episode. It is true, I have a substantial crush on Monica Potter. Yet beyond my swooning heart lies an incredibly powerful woman who has struck and won multiple battles on this earth. Though her power isn’t what wows me. It’s that she still smiles, that she gives her best for her kids–every single day, and that she loves her husband not despite, but because of, the harsh realities of life.

Her husband Adam, owns my love for the singular reason that he always, always acts towards the best for his family. Always. Integrity defined.

Adam’s commitment reaches not only to his wife and children, but to his family of origin, as seen in his love for his brother, Crosby. These two guys have had a rough road. Crosby is a mess. But our hearts melt for him anyway, and not just because he is played by Dax Shephard. We love Crosby because he tries. Always tries to do the right thing. Is this not all of us?

I’ll be honest, I think Lauren Graham could poorly play a serial axe murder, and I’d still stand on the sidelines, cheering her along. Her portrayal as Lorelei in Gilmore Girls earned her a free pass for life in my book. However, no free pass is needed for her character, Sarah. Sarah is not one of my favorites, but I love her. I love her because she is real. She knows too well that life hurts, and while she remains daunted by this truth at times, she is no longer lives in fear of pain; she has already been through it. Also, long ago she decided she was going to be a really, really good mom. And she is. What gorgeous character strength. 

Julia has been harder for me to wrap my head around, though I’ve softened to her in more recent seasons. Yet my lack of warmth entirely fails to translate to her husband Joel. I imagine I will go weak in the knees for Sam Jaeger for the foreseeable rest of my life because of his role. Joel screwed up; we all do. He’s a good guy.

While Camille is another I’m not sold out for but have grown to appreciate, her husband Zeek is THE STUFF OF THIS WORLD. He is not only the soul of his family, he is the show. Think about what Parenthood is all about–loving your family and being there for them while finding yourself in the process. This is Zeek, a gruffy old man with one of the kindest hearts–ever.

Drew, Amber, Max (brilliant, brilliant child actor), Hank, Jasmine, Jabbar…who could you not love? These characters are all rich and lovely and add shine to a show that is already dazzlingly shiny. In fact, the only character I cannot cheer is Sydney. Savannah Paige Rae is dear, but I already have my own whiny kids at home.

I sob that I don’t want it to end. My husband reminds me that all good shows must exit while the iron is still hot. The mature part of me wants to accept this. The other parts of me want to script hate letters to NBC.

Regardless of the war the wages within, the tissues will win out. I can’t say what exactly what will happen in tomorrow night’s episode when the gorgeous Braverman curtain is called, but I know it will involve a mountain of soaked kleenexes–each wet with the bittersweet joy of a show that has nailed the heart of this life.

Well done, Parenthood. Well done.

 

Second image credit: image ID:5939734, copyright:shotsstudio

Jan 022015
 

Cozy in & read up with this great read. Best news--chat it up with us through our virtual book club. Talking books with girlfriends without leaving your house or your jammies! I know! Join us :)Happy New Year, readers! 2015 is here, with all it’s promise of fun things to come and hope of dramatic taming of our muffin tops. Godspeed.

While the future is full of unknowns, I can take certain comfort in knowing I love my books. I will continue to love my books, and I am incredibly grateful to Carrie from Normal Level of Crazy and all of you for hanging out with me so we can share them together through our virtual book club.

I’ve read so many wonderful books lately, and Carrie and I are already buzzing about what our picks for this next year will be be. I can’t wait to chat them up with you!

This month we are digging into Leaving Time by Jodi Piccoult and then getting excited for our February book. Please share your thoughts and then make sure to leave a comment below to win a copy of the next book!

 

 

WE LOVE our books! Hop in with us every first Friday to talk about what we're reading and share your thoughts--we want to hear from YOU!

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Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult was one of my favorite books I read in the past year. Picoult is an talented author, riveting her audience with carefully crafted stories. She artfully switches between narrators and points in time. While in some novels this works to confuse plot progression, Picoult manages this variation in such a way that adds incredible depth and intrigue to her tales.  Her books captivate me.

Leaving Time, however, took this captivation one step further by introducing me to a world in which I would never otherwise have ventured, that of elephant research and preservation. What? I know, before I picked up the book, I might not have thought I would be so drawn in by such a topic either, but trust me–you will be fascinated.

It is the power of books to carry me to unfamiliar territories that is one of my favorite things about reading.  While a fictional book, Leaving Time is based on Picoult’s dedicated research, and I left this novel with a strong appreciation of elephants and their behavior. It’s so cool that Picoult noted this too–at the end of the book, she mentioned her hope that readers would walk away with a greater interest in elephant culture. She did a wonderful job achieving this hope.

We love books, and we love chatting them up with girlfriends.  All are welcome! Grab a cozy drink and meet us to dig into this delightful book--jammies welcome!The spiritual world of mediums and psychics was also integral to the book.  Again, while Leaving Time is a fictional novel, I gained a much greater understanding of the practices and beliefs of this culture.  If you’ve read this book, what did you think about Picoult’s use of the psychic realm to craft her story line? Did you learn anything?

While I loved the book, I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Not to give it away, but Carrie and I discussed the conclusion at length. She summarized it best when she said “It felt very Sixth Sense“, which it very much did. After such an intensely developed plot, it seemed as though the book resolved very quickly, neatly, and easily. Does anyone else feel this way about the ending?

I am also confused about why Gideon responded as he did on the day of the murder. Virgil explains it to Serenity as Gideon’s only logical choice to avoid blame for the crime, but really, why was he sobbing so hard for his mother-in-law? Why did he not try harder to find Alice? Was this explained well and I missed it?

A final discussion question: how much do you think oversight and error by the police does play a role in resolution of crimes?  How often do you think crimes aren’t properly investigated or punished because something was overlooked? Is this common?

Please share your thoughts and your own questions, readers!  We want to hear what you have to say and thanks for digging into this book with us.

Also, if anyone wants to join me in stalking pretty elephant-themed jewelry after gaining a new fascination with these creatures, you know I’m game ;)

******************************************************************

Finally, grab a copy of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and get ready to chat about it with us the first Friday in February. I loved this sweet book, a funny, warm, quirky read and can’t wait to see the forthcoming movie version.

And we are giving away a copy to one of our readers! As long as you live in the continental U.S. and are 18 years or older, leave a comment on this blog post by 1/9/15 at 5:30am letting us know you’d like free copy of The Rosie Project, and you’ll be entered into the random drawing.

Also, if you’ve already read The Rosie Project, make sure to check out the sequel, The Rosie Effect, released this week. I’m chomping at the bit to get my hands on it!

Read below for The Rosie Project description on Amazon and make sure to let us know if you’d like to win the free copy!

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013: Full of heart and humor, Simsion’s debut novel about a fussy, socially-challenged man’s search for the perfect wife is smart, breezy, quirky, and fun. Sure, it’s the precise equivalent of a well-crafted romantic comedy. (In fact, the book was clearly written with the big-screen in mind, and the film rights have already been sold). But you’d have to be a pretty cynical reader not to fall for Don Tillman, a handsome genetics professor who has crafted a pathologically micromanaged life for himself but can’t seem to score a second date. After launching his Wife Project, which includes a hilarious questionnaire intended to weed out imperfect candidates–smokers, makeup wearers, vegans (“incredibly annoying”)–Don meets Rosie, a stunning, maddeningly disorganized bartender/student who’s looking for her biological father. The reader knows just where the story is headed: Rosie’s so wrong for Don, she’s perfect. That’s not giving anything away. Half the fun of the book is watching pent-up, Asperger’s-afflicted Don break free, thanks to Rosie, from his precisely controlled, annoyingly sensible, and largely humorless lifestyle. By the final third, you’re cheering for Don to shatter all his rules. And you’re casting the film. –Neal Thompson

 

First image credit: Image ID:32915135, copyright:Syda_Productions

Dec 292014
 

Who knew a pair of boots could define a relationship so well? I'm cherishing this pair--and my husband a whole lot more. Read this and find out why you need to get a pair of boots that don't fit!This holiday week, I’m sharing a couple of my favorite posts from the past year.  On Friday, I shared a fun one about when I met my match in a cute deathly raccoon, and today I’m hanging out with a favorite pair of boots–that defined my marital relationship a bit and reminded me of why I think my husband is such a cool guy.

So please join me, readers. Pour yourself a hot chocolate, snuggle up by the tree. ignoring the frenzy of rapidly dropping pine needles and treat yourself to a smile with one of my favorite stories of this past year

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Did you know that in Oklahoma it is illegal to wear your boots to bed? True story. While hitherto, I may have howled over the ridiculous of such a law, I’m now giving these mid-western legislators the benefit of the doubt.  You see, I have now witnessed firsthand the effects of boots on a marriage.  Not sure exactly what was going on in those Oklahoma bedrooms, but hey, maybe some legal intervention may have been necessary if things got stressful enough.  Boots are no joke in a relationship.

It all began when, in my blind loyalty to anything Target-branded, I snagged a pair of “leather” boots on the cheap in the fall.  They were adorable, trendy, and surely, they were meant to be.  Six months later, I’m cursing the ripped-up toes and air-leaky soles of my bargain find.  Huh.  Who knew? Quality, apparently, sometimes must be bought.

Thus started a dedicated hunt for the perfect pair of hip, comfy, top-notch kickers. Honestly, it was a smart-shoppers dream.  There were endless tabs pulled up on my laptop, promo codes were flying around, and I was riding an an adrenaline rush of excited glee as I worked out the most economical choice to the penny.  I know, it was the most fun I have in ages (not joking, sadly).

But I kept coming back to the new line of shoes from The Sak.  If you remember, I fell hard for my The Sak tote in October, and haven’t put the darn bag down since.  If it ever gives out, I will cry, and cry hard.  My favorite feature of my tote is the Teak Multi leather accent–the subtle sheen is gorgeous and distinctive. So when I saw that The Sak made boots that incoorporated the same leather

Yeah, the mixed reviews citing the beauty of the shoes, but the near impossibility to actually pull them on your foot? Be darned.  I had a friendship with this particular Teak Multi material, you see.  I alone would certainly be able to overcome the fit problem of the boots.  The other purchasers were clearly pansies.  This Mom of the Year was on it.

Rocking my coupons and discounts, I walked around for days preening my feathers for scoring my new footwear for $33.  Boo-ya! My husband was less enthused, these being the second pair of brown boots I bought in the same season and all…but…

Then the boots came. I sweated through my shirt so badly to get them on I had to put on a new outfit. And then I sobbed a little from the sheer effort.

The reviews were perhaps not written by weak lunatics.

After a week of refusing to say anything in a fierce protection of my dignity, the hopelessness of a solo dressing effort could no longer be denied. The Day of Reckoning had come. Head hung low, I went to my husband, “So you know those boots you didn’t want me to buy?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you put them on for me?”

 

I would like to pretend it was a very Cinderella-esque scene, with the calm, gentle man putting the shoe on the delicate princess’ outstretched foot.  It was not.  There was more grunting and under-the-breath comments.  Very few princesses. Some heavy “questioning” of spousal wisdom and the like–you get it.

It was a really neat scene for my neighbor to witness when she came to pick me up for breakfast the other week.  A true testament to the marital bliss that goes down around these parts.

We now find ourselves two months into ownership of the sweet boots. Things are better. I have accepted I can usually only wear the shoes on Saturdays, when my husband is here to help me dress.  They have started to stretch a teeny bit, so now there is only about five minutes of vigorous group dressing effort.  Really, it’s going well.

Sunday my husband leaves very early for worship team practice. As a general rule of habit, I never dress immediately upon getting up.  This past week, I was determined to sport my boots at church, so I threw my clothes on quickly and ran downstairs, boots in hand, hoping to catch him before he peeled out the door.  He looked at me, baffled by my attire and the switch in routine, “Did you sleep in your clothes?”

And then he saw the boots. And started to laugh. “Okay,” he said, holding out his hand, “Okay.”

As it turns out, these boots really were an awesome deal–they just have to be donned with a heavy, heavy dose of lovin’ patience.

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 172014
 

If I can do this Christmas craft with my kids, ANYONE can...trust me. I and my non-crafty self are sharing all the secrets with you...happy Christmas crafting!

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time, first published here two years ago.  We’re now all a bit older, but I continue to have active fantasies of the shirts I noted at the end of the post. Godspeed with the Christmas crafts, my friends…

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Gosh, yes…I actually tried to craft with my kids.  I am so annoyingly stupid…

Once upon a time in the not-so far off land of Suburbia, there was a Mommy who was a very good at caring for her home and her family, except for the fact that she sucked at cleaning and cooking, wasn’t awesome with young kids, and was generally terrified of crafting.  This Mommy was married to a very good man; we’ll call him Daddy.  Daddy was reading a book to their little boy and chanced upon cute idea for a fun project to do with kids.  Daddy mentioned this to Mommy, and apparently Mommy had skimped on her daily sanity meds, because she thought this craft would be fun to try with the kids.  She planned to give it a whirl one morning the next week.

In general, anytime Mommy decides to “give something a whirl”, it’s best for all nearby parties to run quickly into a cave and hide.  And so this is the point where our tale takes a very nasty turn south…

Preparations for the crafting event were going relatively well until Mommy realized she needed supplies to create the popsicle stick Christmas tree craft.  Dastardly truth of crafting: supplies are necessary.  Queue to Mommy diving headfirst into several scary large Rubbermaid totes in the basement where the glitter was conveniently stored.  Listen carefully now for the sounds of angry grunts, muffled explicatives and panicked screams for baby daughter to NOT start crawling up the un-baby-gated cement steps.

After some further desperate searching and a minor hiccup when Mommy’s sweet angelic son locked her in the basement as she was juggling the glitter, the baby, a psychotic dog and a laundry basket under arm (there is always, always a laundry basket involved, right?), the necessary materials were finally secured upstairs.  Mommy then felt insanely wise for setting daughter up in her chair with some Color Wonder markers so the rest of this fun event could ensue.  The scene was mostly set with only the paper plates still needed.

For the record, paper plates are definitively integral to all craft projects.  All of them.  If you are looking to go into crafting, start buying paper plates in bulk, and stash them in every nook and cranny throughout your house.  You will always need them and you will never have them when you need them.  There can never be enough paper plates.

While Mommy went in search of the necessary paper plates, her daughter took the opportunity to eat the tip off of a marker.  After a certain amount of hysteria and speculation that Color Wonder ingestion would lead to brain damage of some sort, it was determined that everyone would survive, and the festivities could joyfully continue.

As goldfish crackers flew at Mommy’s head (an alternative activity was needed for daughter after the unfortunate incident in which she ate the provided markers), she learned that hot glue gun glue is indeed rather hot when squirted all over her hand.  As Mommy screamed through the pain, her son fled the room in terror.  But with a little convincing, he soon returned to participate in this delightful experience.

Bring our engaging tale to a close, you can tell from the pictures below, the end result was stunning.  Clearly entirely worth all the effort and served to completely re-educate Mommy, who will now be running gleefully headfirst into the next crafting opportunity after having such a blessedly positive experience.  Bring on the crafts.

Christmas tree craft

Just thought you would appreciate
that I’m still using paper plates from
my daughter’s birthday in July

Mommy is now making “I Heart Crafting” t-shirts which will be available for sale in the very near future.  Stay tuned for this one.  She’s entirely sold out for crafting and wants the world to know.

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Also, pop on over to Hollow Tree Ventures and check out As (Never) Seen on Pinterest for further evidence of how crafty and artsy I am and snag some top-notch creative ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.  As a teaser, my fantastic design inspiration for your child’s train table is pictured below:

Child's Train Table Design @mererdithspidel @RobynHTV

Yes, yes we are awesome parents…

 

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