Mommy Monday

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, we’re about to hit the time of year in which there are parties to attend, dishes to make, and presents to wrap. And, typically, all of these responsibilities fall on us mommas. Which means instead of feeling like Mrs. Claus you can end up feeling more like the Krampus.

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Luckily, I’ve rounded up the best tips and tricks to help you get through this holiday season without losing your tinsel all over a mall Santa.

Learn to Say No

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Repeat after me: “I don’t have to go to every party.” Seriously, you don’t have to say yes to an invite just because they asked. If you’ve got a lot going on and need to spend time at home just to decompress or want to wrap presents while watching a Hallmark movie, then by all means DO IT. If going to a party is going to stress you out, stay home. Relax. Not sure how to decline an invite? MyDomaine has some awesome tips to turn down an invitation with class.

 

Shorten Your Gift-Giving List

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I LOVE giving gifts. Huff the Hubs calls me “Leslie Knope” because gift-giving is kind of like my superpower. And I’ll pretty much give anyone a present. The mailman? Check. My dentist? Check. The kids’ pediatrician? Double check. But, that’s not always cost-effective. Which can lead to fretting over the cash flow. As I stated before, you’ve got to learn to say no. This means cutting your gift-giving list down. Instead of giving a gift to your grandma, grandpa, uncle, aunt, etc., make an agreement to forgo gifts this year OR draw names instead! That way, everyone gets something but you don’t have to break the bank! Just be sure to set a spending limit beforehand!

 

Simplify 

You need to simplify your life. Start with a smaller bag.

A moms, we all want to make every moment of the holidays seem magical to our kids. Guess what? The simplest things can be magical. You don’t have to have your hubs dress up as Santa or move that freaking Elf every single day to make Christmas amazing. Do simple things: watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and pop popcorn, make snowflakes out of paper, bake cookies (make it even simpler and get the pre-cut kind!). Your kids will be happy just spending time with you!

 

Keep Christ in Christmas

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While the gifts, the parties, and the cookies are all fun parts of Christmas, they are not the ONLY part. Nor should they be the part that is focused on. Help keep Christmas in perspective for your kids (and yourself!) by shifting the focus where it needs to be: on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. There are a ton of resources out there to help with this! But you can’t go wrong with just simply pulling out your Bible and reading the Christmas story. You don’t have to sit down and give your kids a long sermon, talk about it in the car (“Can you imagine riding a donkey all the way to Bethlehem?!”), while you’re eating dinner (“What do you think the Wise Men ate while they traveled?”), or even while giving your kiddos a bath (“Do you think baby Jesus liked his first bath?”). Shift your focus and you’ll shift your perspective.

 

For more tips, click here, here, or here! Do you have any tips for a less-stressed holiday? Share in the comments below!

Mommy Monday

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Most schools are out EVERY DAY this week, which means you, Momma, are home with all the kiddos, wondering how you’re going to survive until next Monday. If you don’t want your little humans plopped in front of the TV all week, I’ve found some great ideas to keep those little hands busy! (Thanks, Pinterest!)

 

Coloring Sheets

ThanksgivingColoringThe link above has a TON of free, printable coloring sheets for your wee ones! Its a great way to stalk about thankfulness and having a grateful heart, seeing as how we’re getting into the season of gift-giving and all.

 

Pattern Block Mats  

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This awesome website is run by a homeschooling momma who was a reading teacher pre-kids. She’s got a great round up of pattern block mats to keep your littles busy! Need some pattern blocks? Get them here!

 

I’m Thankful Sheets

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This is one the whole family can get in on! Go through the alphabet and name something you’re thankful for that starts with every letter! (Pretty sure everyone will be thankful for xylophones and zippers, ha!)

 

Fall Scavenger Hunts

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If you live in the south/midwest like I do, its still warm enough that you can send the kids outside or talk a walk as a family. Print off a few of these fall scavenger hunt sheets and see who can find the most items! Maybe even sweeten the deal with a prize!

 

Thanksgiving Bingo

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I’m considering trying this with Huff the Tot, but changing it around a little bit. Instead of using it as a legit Bingo card, I think I may print one off as a “scavenger hunt” for her to fill in while we go grocery shopping! She loves to have a “list” of her own and mark stuff off. Plus, hopefully it will keep her distracted from putting unnecessary things in the buggy (I see you, three boxes of Cocoa Pebbles.)

 

Are there any Thanksgiving-themed activities your kids love? Share in the comments below!

Try It Tuesday

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We are officially on turkey countdown, folks! T-minus 1 day, 8 hours, and some-odd minutes! And, if you’re like me, you feel woefully unprepared! Have no fear, I rounded up some of my favorite Try It Tuesday hacks to help you (and your house) get ready for the parade of family members to come over!

 

For You: 

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Want to get picture-worthy hair but don’t want to spend all day working on it? Use this simple hair hack to get cute curls (or wowza waves)! (Tip: Leave your hair in the foil while you baste, clean, and prep for best results!

 

For the House: 

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Have stubborn mineral deposits around your faucet? Keep the disgusted looks from in-laws at bay with this simple cleaning solution! And here’s another for those stainless steel appliances!

 

For the Table: 

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If you want a dessert that stands out from the crowd of pumpkin pies, store bought cookies, and some kind of fruit cake that looks like it should’ve been thrown out MONTHS ago, try this DELISH fruit pizza! It’s super simple and super yummy!

 

And, the biggest piece of advice I can give you this holiday season is: relax. Don’t take everything so seriously. Problems are going to arise, people are going to get on your nerves, and plans will inevitably be disrupted. But have a good sense of humor about it and try not to fret! Enjoy this season and the food it brings-ha!

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Do you have any style, cleaning, or cooking hacks for the holiday season? Share in the comments below!

Mommy Monday

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It’s that time of year again. A time when we all gather around, eat delicious meals, dress up in clothes, and internally scream at everyone around us. Wait, what? Nobody else does that? Just me? Cool.

In all seriousness, I really do love the holidays! Though now that I’m an adult with two kids, I have to admit that it’s not as magical as it used to be.

Last night we had Huffman Thanksgiving at the in-laws. Or, as my children thought it was called, “Let’s Have Meltdowns Simultaneously Making Mommy Lose Her Mind While We’re Wearing Fancy Clothes Day”.

On the ride home, Huff the Hubs said, “Now that we’re parents, Thanksgiving and Christmas just don’t seem as much fun.”

I agreed. Then, as if right on cue, Huff the Tot piped up, “Wow, Mommy, look at those lights!” (A house was decorated for Christmas) “It’s so beautiful!”

Being the emotional basket case that I am, I felt tears well up in my eyes because though I had had a very tiring evening, she could still see the world through her innocent kid eyes.

Which leads me to the subject of today’s post: How to Get Through The Holidays Without Losing Your Ish.

 

One of the things I like to do is make a list of things that are stressing me out and figure out how I can cope with each stressor. I thought of the main stresses most of us (and by “us” I mean women) have this time of year and some solutions to get you through!

 

Being expected to cook everything and clean up.

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Luckily, I’m not expected to do any major cooking. I’m an okay cook, but my family loves their traditional Thanksgiving foods and they like it how it’s always been made (i.e., mostly by my Grammy and mom) and we’re not a group that is in love with change so I won’t rock the boat. Anyway, I digress… BUT, if you are the one who is up at 5:00 a.m. basting, chopping, and sautéing, listen to what I’m about to say: DO NOT CLEAN UP AFTER ANYONE. Seriously. You have done enough. I don’t care if its tradition for the men-folk to watch football while the women clean. That’s outdated and misogynistic and it needs to end. Just like people are assigned what to bring to a family function, (e.g., Suzy brings stuffing, Bill brings cranberry sauce) there should be assigned dish washers and trash can emptiers. If you’re the one hosting and opening your home, DO NOT CLEAN. This is basically why people have children—free labor. Put those that didn’t cook (or are too young to cook) in charge of clearing plates and scrubbing casserole dishes. Better yet—use paper products and the clean-up is faster! Delegate—and do it early—so you’re not treated like a house elf!

 

The family member that wants to talk politics.

This year, all political talk needs to be banned from family functions. I’m serious. When you (or whomever) makes the call telling other family members what time the Turkey Day festivities are going down, add in a little disclaimer that there is a moratorium on political talk this Thursday. If that one uncle of yours just can’t seem to stop from flapping his gums about the Electoral College, just crank up the Adele:

 

 

Listening to your kid (see: toddler) whine about not wanting any of the Thanksgiving food.

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This was Huff the Tot last night. She didn’t want anything to do with the turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, or stuffing. And you know what? I can already tell you I will not be in the mood to pick that battle later this week at my grandparents’ house. So I WILL be preparing. I’m taking a Lunchable and half of a PBJ. Because it will not matter if my child doesn’t eat giblet gravy, but I AM going to make sure she eats something (and this momma ain’t cooking an extra meal!).

 

The fear of getting shanked at Walmart on Black Friday.

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I used to LOVE Black Friday, back before it became (as I like to call it) “Gray Thursday”. My family and I would make t-shirts, have call signs, and then meet up at Waffle House for a victory breakfast, swapping war stories about our deals. Now that the stores are open on Thanksgiving, it kind of takes the fun out of it. But, fear not! About 99% of the deals that are in store you can find online! The last two years I have bought the majority of my Black Friday swag online and didn’t necessarily have to get out! Word of advice though, do NOT get on the Walmart or Target website RIGHT at midnight. Everyone does that and the websites are suuuuuper slow. You’ll end up staying up until 6:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning because of it. Trust me.

 

Social anxiety.

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I’ve been very open about my struggle with depression and anxiety. It sucks. And sometimes it can really get in the way of letting a person enjoy special occasions. Something that has always helped me in the past was having a place I could escape to collect myself. At my Grammy’s house, there are four bedrooms and an enclosed staircase. Sometimes when it gets too loud or I’m feeling a panic attack some on, I slip to one of the back rooms or staircase and take a few minutes to breathe and regain my composure. (My essential oils anxiety blend has also been a real helped!)

 

The holidays should be fun, enjoyable, and filled with fun memories. But that doesn’t mean they also aren’t stressful and make you want to curl up in a ball with a bottle of Cupcake! Do you have any tips for surviving the holidays? Share in the comments below!

My Favorite Things {To Eat}

Merry Monday before Christmas!

With the big day only a tad over 48 hours away, you’re probably starting to think about what you’re going to take to your many family functions. If you don’t want to actually bring something, I’ve got some great suggestions for you! Every year I look forward to this season because its when the best of the best foods come around my house. And my family does not skimp when it comes to holiday eating!

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Here’s my Top Four Favorite Holiday Treats!

 

#4. Jalapeno Poppers

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Full disclosure: my dad makes these almost exclusively in the summertime. However, we are preparing for Ultra Feast on New Year’s Eve and he has already said that these are totes on the menu. I am SO excited! The poppers may seem a little extreme, given that they’re made with a crazy-hot pepper, but they’re actually not as spicy as you might think. The cream cheese really helps to mellow out the kick! Plus, the peppers are wrapped in bacon. And everything is better with bacon! Get the recipe here!

 

#3. Fruit Pizza

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We haven’t had this dessert is sooooooo long! It used to be a staple for our New Year’s Eve partay’s, but sadly, its gone away. I’m hoping to revive it this year! Its a pretty simple recipe. All you need is sugar cookie dough (you can even use store bought!), cream cheese, powdered sugar, and your favorite fruits! Get the stats here!

 

#2. Chili Cheese Dip

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I love this dip because its always a home run when there’s a lot of people and its super simple to make! Its perfect for the colder months and can be tailored to fit your tastes! You add or subtract just about anything from this recipe and its still awesome! Get some ideas for your own creation at this site!

 

#1. Peanut Butter Ball

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My sister found this recipe on Pinterest and I have never before been so thankful for the internet. This sweet dip takes two of my favorite foods: peanut butter and chocolate and makes them edible with a spoon. (Well, I guess you could eat peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon, but this is SO much better!) Again, its a super simple recipe that looks like you’ve spent all day making, so you can totes impress your in-laws! This dip is good with sugar cookies, graham crackers, and apple slices!

 

 

Happy eating!

 

Christmas Specials

With only 16 days to Christmas, the signs of the season are everywhere: the stores, the neighborhoods, and our TVs. Even though Huff the Hubs and I don’t have cable, we still have the basic stations, so we’re able to see all of the Christmas specials.

 

One such special was last week—The Sound of Music Live with Carrie Underwood.

 

"The Nazis are coming, y'all."

“The Nazis are coming, y’all.”

Did you watch it? I did. Now, I love Carrie as much as the next Okie, but I feel like her performance was a little…flat. Don’t get me wrong, the gril can sing. But her acting? Um…How do I put this nicely? I prefer Julie Andrews.

 

While watching the cronge-worthy performance, I started thinking: What other Christmas specials are worth skipping?

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (remake)

"Wrong-o."

“Wrong-o.”

I love, love, love the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Its one of my favorite Christmas specials! But the 2000 remake with Jim Carrey? HORRIBLE. For one, its about 45 minutes too long. Even though it features great makeup (and a pre-Gothtastic Taylor Momsen) it doesn’t capture the same magic and heart as the original.

 

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown

"We're so silly, Linus!"

“We’re so silly, Linus!”

The Peanuts are as American as apple pie. And having Christmas without Linus saying his famous speech isn’t really Christmas. But I Want a Dog just doesn’t have the same Peanuts greatness that the other special has. Plus, a person can only hear “Good grief” so many times before it just gets irritating.

 

Eight Crazy Nights

"Instead of one, we've got EIGHT crazy nights!"

“Instead of one, we’ve got EIGHT crazy nights!”

I’ll admit, I’ve only seen the first ten minutes of Adam Sandler’s animated Hanukkah movie. And let me tell ya, that was enough. The animation is not Disney-quality, the jokes were campy, and to be honest, not as charming as the Sandler that sings The Hanukkah Song.

 

Pretty Much Anything on ABC Family

"Come on, Slater! We have to earn our $500!"

“Come on, Slater! We have to earn our $500!”

I really don’t like cheese. Not cheese as in the kind you eat with crackers. Cheese as in those movies that come on the Hallmark channel. Or, those that come on ABC Family. It seems as though every year, the folks over at ABCF throw in a silly premise, ridiculous dialogue, and a C-list celebrity and create a movie.

 

What about you? Any specials you like? Dislike? Wish would just go away?

Gingerbread Houses, Er, MANSIONS!

Hey guys!

Sorry I was a no-show yesterday. Between fielding calls from clients, trying to soothe a fussy baby, and prepping for Snowmageddon, my day was a little crazy.

But I’m baaaaack! And I’ve got an awesome holiday-themed post for you!

When I was little, we made a gingerbread house. I use the term loosely because it was really made out of graham crackers. And I remember just getting frustrated, giving up, and dipping my building tools in frosting and calling it a day. Even though I didn’t make a prize-winning gingerbread house as a kid, I would like to try it again. I’ve been seeing gingerbread house kits at Wal-Mart and I’m thinking I might have to snag one and see if I can do it.

This afternoon, I Googled “gingerbread houses” to give me some inspiration. And Oh. Em. Gee. You’ll never believe what I found. I mean, just look at these things:

You can't tell, but this bad boy is 6 feet tall!

You can’t tell, but this bad boy is 6 feet tall!

 

Mother of Dragons, that's an awesome g-bread house!

Mother of Dragons, that’s an awesome g-bread house!

 

Merlin's pants! Its Hogwarts!

Merlin’s pants! Its Hogwarts!

 

If only all sports had an edible arena.

If only all sports had an edible arena.

 

After I ogled at all the yummy creations, I found out that there is actually a national competition for gingerbread house construction! Its held every year at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.  Check out last year’s winners:

 

Yeeeaaahhh…. maybe I ought to just stick to my graham crackers and frosting this year and leave the g-bread building to the pros.