Countdown to Christmas

It’s officially one more week to Christmas!!! It has really crept up on me this year and I’m not feeling completely ready. There is still so much to be done, and I am also feeling that we haven’t gotten to have enough Christmas fun yet! I’m hoping we can fit a lot in over the next seven days. This past weekend was a busy one and a good kick off to our final week! First up was Cole’s school Christmas program on Friday afternoon. Evan wasn’t too thrilled about snapping a pic after we got home, but we were all so proud of our Cole bug!Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetSweater: Topshop (old – similar here, here, here, here) // Jeans: Mother // Booties: Sam Edelman // Bag: Chanel // Sunglasses: Celine

On Saturday we headed up the mountain for our first ski day of the season! I gotta admit, our first run of the day was a little rocky with the kids feeling a bit rusty, but by the end of the day it was all smiles and Evan finally figured out how to wedge!45F71031-191E-47E5-A224-0749B279C956B6D5FDB8-7604-47BE-A678-6C740D267E26

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Sunday was a lazy day of Gingerbread house making and movie watching! We finally gave in to the hype and watched The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix. It is really cute!51E129D1-AEA7-4894-9D0B-A60C1C672062

Last night was Evan’s turn for his preschool Christmas program! It was an extra special evening for our family since it was his first ever school program. We made a huge deal of it, and we all got dressed up along with him to go cheer for our little guy! It was so cute – as we were waiting for him to come out, Cole told me that he felt more nervous for Evan than he had at his own school performance…and it just melted my heart. Those two really do have a special bond. The program was adorable beyond words and we were just so proud of our little Evan!Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSweater: Amazon (Cashmere and under $50! This is an incredible buy and I will be ordering more colors) // Skirt: Chicwish // Belt: Gucci // Pumps: Christian Louboutin // Bag: Celine9778941C-2747-4DCE-B203-369FF0B7D4D2Cole’s Sweater: Gap // Corduroys: H&M // Shoes: Gap  —  Evan’s Top & Vest: H&M // Bow: Amazon // Pants: Target // Shoes: GapD7B8A541-46E8-4904-8E0F-748FEFFA40EA5BE9A2D1-DC1F-4A94-990F-53D54C46CAB75AC08A8A-2CF5-47B2-AFEC-CB75C83D6DF9

Evan’s little preschool is located in a neighborhood near our home, and the school reserved the community clubhouse for the school program which was such a lovely venue! Everyone was asked to bring an appetizer or dessert, and after the performance we got a chance to visit with other families and have some delicious food. I brought these brie cranberry bites, which are so incredibly simple and perfect for a holiday gathering.070C3653-0AE5-4CF1-8EF4-695786933897

BRIE CRANBERRY BITES

1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed)

3/4 cup cranberry sauce

8 oz brie cheese

1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Using a knife or a pizza cutter cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece in the cup of a 12-cup muffin baking pan. You want each the 4 sides to slightly poke over the top of the cup.

Cut the brie into 1-inch pieces. Place a piece into each cup.

Evenly distribute the cranberry sauce in the cups over the brie. You will use about 1 – 1 1/2 tsp per cup.

Pull the rosemary apart and place a small sprig on top of each cup.

Bake for 15 minutes. The puff pastry should be golden brown. remove from oven and allow the cups to sit for a few minutes to slightly cool. Use a small butter knife to carefully release the bites from the baking pan.

 

I’m hoping to get lots of wrapping done today while the kids are at school, and order the last few gifts on my list – nothing like Amazon Prime to enable procrastination!

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Christmas Gifts For Teachers

I’m continuing my gift series this week, with some gift ideas for teachers! I always find teacher gifts to be the hardest gifts, because I feel so much pressure to get them something they like (I mean, teachers deserve a nice gift!) but have no idea where to even begin beyond the cliche gifts.

This year Cole’s school has a binder with all of the teacher’s likes, hobbies, and interests – and also a section that says “thank you but I already have enough…” I spent some time looking at all of the teachers likes & what they already have enough of to help me write this blog post and also help me with Evan’s preschool teachers! A few things I consistently noted that teachers do NOT need more of:

Mugs

Starbucks Gift Cards

Movie Tickets

Body Lotions

I’m guilty of buying a few of these in the past, so I’m happy to have a better idea of what not to get my kid’s teachers going forward! But I still need to come up with a few ideas for Evan’s teacher’s and Cole’s assistant teacher, as well as the receptionist at his school which didn’t have lists done. After looking at the things many of the teachers consistently do seem to like, I’ve come up with a few ideas!

Red wine and chocolate This is what I’m getting Cole’s teacher this year since I saw these things on her likes list (and nobody is more deserving of a glass of wine than teachers!). Of course this may not be appropriate for every teacher, but if they have ever mentioned enjoying a glass of wine it’s a no fail gift!

Amazon or Target Gift Card Who doesn’t like Amazon or Target?! Plus you can pretty much guarantee there is something there for everyone and they will love their present.

Luxurious foot cream with cozy socks This would definitely be a nice gift for a teacher to pamper herself a bit over the holiday break.

Personalized Pencils These look so fancy, and guarantee the kids will have to return them!

Desk Calendar With the New Year approaching, a nice new desk calendar would be a practical gift and also a little fancier than they may buy for themselves.

A pretty floral arrangement A beautiful holiday floral arrangement that would make for a nice centerpiece in their home over the holiday would be a lovely gift.

A cozy blanket or blanket scarf I’m actually loving this idea for Evan’s preschool teacher’s and planning on getting each of them a cozy blanket scarf that can double as a throw or travel blanket should any of them not be scarf wearers. He has five teachers, so it’s been a little tricky coming up with a gift that wouldn’t break the bank and would work for all of them, and I think this is something that everyone can find a use for!

Festive hand soap with a hand towel This is something people don’t tend to pamper themselves with, and is something that would be so nice for anyone around the holidays. I ended up purchasing this classic Spode set for the receptionist at Cole’s school along with a lovely smelling Rosemary Mint hand soap.

Tote Bag A cute bag to haul all of their books and papers around would be a functional and practical gift. Adding a monogram makes it more personal!

Candle I am someone who is very sensitive to scents, so I am wary of buying people strongly scented things. However, I do feel that a nice holiday scent like cinnamon/clove or a very soft scent like vanilla or sugar cookie would appeal to most people, and Nest makes the most amazing fragrances.

Coffee of the month club If your teacher likes coffee, I feel like this is a gift they will appreciate that goes beyond the cliche Starbucks gift card.

Fruit basket I’ve gifted and received many Harry & David’s baskets over the years…and you can’t go wrong with them! Having a healthier treat like their amazing pears, is a nice respite from all of the holiday goodies.

Restaurant gift card If you are able to find out what foods/restaurants they like, I think this would be a gift that anyone would love!

Tea set If your teacher isn’t a wine drinker, a sampler of some relaxing teas would be another way for them to unwind! You can make the gift a bit fancier with adding a honey gift set and a tea bag holder!

Homemade gift and/or letter I think most teachers would love to have a handwritten letter from their students, and those are the kinds of gifts I think teachers remember. I’m also thinking it might be fun for the kids to make some homemade cinnamon ornaments to attach to their teacher’s gifts to make it a little more personal and of course smell lovely!

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Stocking Stuffers For Kids

Today’s post is dedicated to stocking stuffers! I am always trying to find a balance with finding stocking stuffers that aren’t junky, but also aren’t super expensive either. Here’s a list of some things we have gifted our kids in the past and a few things we have planned for this year!

Mini packages of Legos As I mentioned in my gift guide, Legos are always a huge hit and you can never have enough. My kids always get one of the small packages in their stockings.

Play doh My little one especially loves play doh and can play with it for hours!

Playing cards My big kiddo has so much fun playing card games with his dad, but of course with kids, cards tend to go missing after awhile so he can always use an extra set.

Walkie Talkies My kids have been asking for a set to play with together, so they are each getting one in their stocking this year!

Remote Control Toys The kids received this remote control set last year and it’s a fun little toy! Another gift set where you can put one in each kid’s stocking.

Hot Wheels My kids probably have 100 of these, and they still don’t get old! They always get a couple in their stockings every year.

SmartWool Socks These socks are the absolute best and keep their feet toasty warm on the coldest days skiing or playing in the snow.

Rubiks Cube I’m gifting my older kiddo this in his stocking this year!

Magic 8 Ball Would be a fun gift for any kid.

Jello-O Play These look like a fun & edible activity to keep little ones busy on a cold winter day!

Hot cocoa packet with a candy cane A yummy gourmet cocoa with a candy cane is always a fun treat to find in a stocking.

iTunes Gift Card A gift card to put towards episodes of favorite TV shows or a new movie would be a no fail gift.

Fun flavored chapstick For the inevitably chapped winter lips.

Fun bath soap My kids go crazy for this foaming bath soap and have a blast playing with it.

Night Light This nightlight looks like the neatest thing ever and beats the days of putting stickers all over your ceiling like when I was a kid.

Slippers My boys have been asking for slippers for Christmas and this plaid set looks so grown up

Mini art set So cute for travel or taking to restaurants to keep kids busy

Joke book My eight year old loves telling jokes, so I know he is going to love this

Whoopie Cushions Another fun gift for silly kids

Fingerling I’m giving in to the hype and getting one for my 3 year old

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks Perfect little set for travel or in restaurants

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Christmas Gift Guide for Kids

Today I’m writing up a gift guide for no-fail Christmas gifts for kids! There are so many gift guides out there, but I specifically wanted to share gifts we have purchased for our kids that have been huge hits and they are still playing with regularly years later. I am also including a few gifts we have purchased this year that I think are also going to be hits as well! I also read an article the other day that talked about “going back to basics” this year, and avoiding a lot of electronics/video games etc (you can read here). Not only do I agree with the article, but from my experience, my kids are happiest with educational gifts, and gifts that allow them to create and build. Most of my recommendations are simpler, non electronic gifts – and those that are electronic are educational!

Wooden Building Blocks I gave these to Evan for Christmas last year, and both of my kids still have a blast building towers with these!

Magnetic Tiles Another toy my kids love building towers and houses with! There’s also a more affordable version here and they have fantastic reviews!

Marble Run My kids literally spend hours creating different marble runs and they play with this a ton.

Osmo Starter Kit / Coding Game / Creative Set  We purchased these 3 Osmo games for Cole two years ago and he still plays with them all the time! His favorites are the Creative Set and Coding game. This is a really fantastic set and I can’t recommend it enough.

Legos You can never go wrong with Legos. Although we often buy our kids specific building sets, they always end up taking them apart and coming up with their own creations. We have a huge bin full of Legos!

Hot Wheels Tracks Our boys absolutely love playing with Hot Wheels (in fact that is their favorite stocking stuffer) so I can’t wait to surprise them with these fun tracks!

Ozobot Coding Set Cole’s school has these in their STREAM lab and we got an opportunity to try them out at his school’s STEM night a few months ago. My kids had an absolute blast playing with them, and it teaches kids how to code! We will be gifting this for Christmas this year.

Art Set also here Cole is a budding little artist and is always drawing something! I can’t wait to gift him this art set which has all the supplies he could ever need, and even includes a built in easel!

Don’t Step In It Game My kids absolutely love board games, and being boys of course they think poop is hysterical. It has been really cold here and we’ve been a bit cooped up, so I caved and bought them this game a week ago to play with now. We’ve played it several times and they absolutely love it. It’s a super simple game that even my three year old can play and enjoy.

Don’t Break the Ice Game My husband bought this for Evan a few weeks ago, not knowing it was one of his favorite games he plays at preschool! He caved and gave the kids this game early as well, and it’s a really fun, simple family game.

Take Apart Car My little one loves taking things apart, and whether its destructiveness or curiosity (hopefully the latter!), I felt like this would be a perfect toy for him this year!

Tool set Another perfect gift for my 3 year old who is obsessed with daddy’s tools and follows him around mimicking him when he’s doing stuff around the house.

Remote Control Car (that drives on walls??!) Curiosity got me on this one and we will be gifting this one this year! It has lots of positive reviews and figured it would be more entertaining than their typical remote control cars!

Funny Books – Plants vs Zombies / Dogman My 8 year old kiddo really likes funny things, and he can sit and read funny books for hours. He absolutely loves these two series!

Magic Tracks My husband got these for Evan last year and he’s obsessed. He will build all kind of track configurations & plays with this for hours!

Gizmo Pal Watch/Phone We bought this for Cole for his birthday a few months ago, and it was worth every penny. He wears it every single day and loves knowing that mom and dad are a phone call away should he need anything. It also has GPS tracking and has the ability to allow him to make recordings.

Magformers These are another really fun magnet building toy that allows kids to build not only fun shapes, but also neat cars as well!

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Weekend Notes 12.9.18

Weekend Notes 12.9.18

I’m finally back to blogging after a somewhat difficult past few weeks. I developed some complications with a tooth that had some dental work done many years ago, and had sudden onset severe pain and was pretty under the weather for about a week while I got it sorted out. I ultimately had to have a minor dental surgery, and I am so thankful to finally be feeling better! I’m also glad that I’m feeling well in time to start enjoying Christmas festivities with my little family. Over the past week we put up our first real Christmas tree, experienced our first snow of the season, and I got most of my Christmas shopping done online while I was recovering. We also went to the movies and saw The Grinch this past weekend, which the kids absolutely loved!

Hooked on this show I am a Christmas movie nut, and will watch every single classic Christmas movie multiple times around the holiday…not to mention all the Hallmark movies. But occasionally I feel a need for a break from all the saccharine sweetness…and this show is just that break. Dirty John (the Podcast) has been made into a Bravo mini series. I binge watched the first two episodes this week, and can’t wait for episode 3 tonight! I will admit, the show isn’t quite as compelling as the podcast and has some minor variations from the true story, but if you liked the podcast you will love this guilty pleasure show.

Must buy boots I couldn’t resist a few Black Friday buys for myself, and when I saw these boots (I’m wearing above) I had been eyeing go on sale I snapped them up. I wore them several times this week, and every single time I wore them I got stopped and complimented and asked where I bought them! They are really comfortable and cozy and I can’t recommend them enough. This similar style is really cute too and these on sale for under $90 are a steal!

No fail Christmas gift for kids I feel like it can be really hard getting your kids Christmas gifts that are fun, have some kind of educational value, and aren’t boring two days after opening. We purchased the Osmo Genius Kit for Cole two years ago and he still plays with it all the time. We also ended up getting him the coding game and the creative set and these are his 2 favorite games with the system. I am planning on doing a more comprehensive gift guide for kids this week if you are still needing ideas, but this is a gift for kids you can’t go wrong with!

For cozy nights in This Slow-Cooker Hot Cocoa recipe came across my Facebook feed the other day, and I am going to have to make it at some point over the holidays. Cuddling up with the kids with a cup of hot cocoa and watching one of our favorite Christmas movies sounds pretty dang perfect!

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Family Christmas Pajama Picks

Family Christmas Pajama Picks

My Pajamas: Old Navy Top, Old Navy Bottoms, Old Navy Slippers  //  Kid’s Pajamas: Old Navy Tops, Target Bottoms (Only $5 and there are sizes for the whole family!)

I read an article the other day about traditions (you can read it here) and it talked about why silly traditions like Christmas pajamas actually matter. My kids absolutely love our tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve, which is always matching pajamas, and the article explains how traditions make us feel loved, connected, and create memories.

There are so many cute family pajamas to choose from this year, and I’m linking some of my favorites! There are also a lot of super affordable options as well starting at $5, and so many print options – from traditional to whimsical.

White & Red Plaid Pajamas

Plaid Union Suits

Rugby Stripe Pajamas (We wore these last year!)

Holiday Red Plaid Pajamas

Navy & Red Plaid Pajamas (I just ordered these!)

Gnome Pajamas

Christmas Light Pajamas

Deer Print Pajamas

Candy Cane Stripe Pajamas

Buffalo Check Pajamas

Penguin Pajamas (Toddler, Dad, Kid, Mom)

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Making Thanksgiving Fun For Kids

Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks, delicious food… and a whole lot of work and waiting! I know my littles can get restless waiting for the meal, so I like to come up with ways to keep them engaged and entertained. I’m making a list of some activities to help make the day a little more fun and make the waiting for the delicious meal go by a bit faster!

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Start the day with a fun breakfast

On Thanksgiving we always start our day with homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and this year I’ve decided to set my kids a fun breakfast place setting with a placemat they can color, a box of crayons, and a craft (I’m loving this turkey crown!). I had a few placemats printed at an office supply store on 11×17 cardstock for $0.30 each, but you could also print on standard size paper & use dessert plates. You can find the free placemat printables here and here.

Thanksgiving themed TV or video

We have a two TV traditions every Thanksgiving; The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Both just set the mood for the day and get us into the celebratory spirit! It’s also fun to watch educational videos to learn a bit more about how we came to celebrate Thanksgiving, and Scholastic has some great videos for kids!

02838788-08AC-48FF-B61F-E79649186E72Books, activities and games

Both of my kids love playing games, and so this year I printed this adorable Thanksgiving themed Bingo game which will be simple enough for even my 3 year old to participate independently! My older kiddo loves doing word searches/word scramble activities so I found a number of free printables on Pinterest I printed for him as well. You could also stop by the dollar store to grab a few activity/coloring books, puzzles, or simple games. Having a Thanksgiving book or two to read as well is always a fun family activity – our family loves There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey!

9C1F1898-E467-4203-B135-5E2AE4C5F0A0Get the kids in the kitchen

Each year I put my kids in charge of a side dish and it is their responsibility to make! It helps them feel like they are a part of creating the meal, and also I really feel that teaching kids to cook helps give them confidence! Cranberry sauce is simple enough for my 8 year old to make almost completely independently (with just a little supervision at the stove), and I also have him help me mix and stir dishes throughout the day. (The cranberry sauce recipe we love is here) My 3 year old just learned how to make butter at school so this is going to be his contribution, but this is something that would be fun for kids of all ages! (You can read about how to make butter here) I have also made a cute menu card (template) to put at each place setting to highlight their dishes as well!

Make the decor

I’ve seen so many darling ideas online for kids to help out and stay busy with making decor for the day. You could have them make a centerpiece, a decorative garland, a gratitude tree, or even just help with setting the table!

Traditions

When I told Cole it was time to start getting ready for Thanksgiving a few weeks back, the first thing he asked was could he make a wish with the wishbone again this year. Our family has a tradition of letting the kids make a wish with the wishbone, and although it is such a simple little thing, it is a tradition my kids always look forward to!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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