Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gift Guide for Little Guys!

Yesterday I told you all about gifts for the little ladies!  But, I don't know a THING about little boys!  So, I'm super excited to introduce you to Amanda from Queen of the Land of Twigs 'n' Berries, because, as a mommy of 2 little guys, she's the expert!  She's a fellow lover of Melissa and Doug, too :)

Take it away, Amanda!


As a mom of two little boys, many people approach me asking what they should get the special little boy in their lives as a gift, especially with the holidays approaching.  And as a mom who despises clutter, I am VERY particular about what I purchase or encourage my family to purchase (even though most don’t listen) for my little guys.
So without any further ado, here is my list of 10 AMAZING toy-based gift ideas for boys aged 1-4.
10.  Melissa & Doug Vehicles

It doesn’t matter if they are trucks or cars, my boys LOVE any and all Melissa and Doug vehicles.  They are mostly wooden so they can take a beating when they crash into walls over and over, and I love getting them on sale at places like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s.  My three year old also really enjoys taking apart and putting together the more sophisticated vehicles that are almost puzzles themselves!
9.  Playdough

One of our favorite ways to spend a rainy morning is to bust out the play dough.  It is great for building so many small motor skills and provides a great outlet for creativity.  Just make sure that you avoid all carpeted rooms since it is pretty tricky getting playdough out of fabric.  This holiday my boys will be getting their first “play dough” set so I am so excited to see how they use the tools, like this pizza set, to make their creations.
To see the rest of Amanda's list, click here!  And, spoiler alert, I totally want to get the last item on her list for my girls.  So much fun!
And don't forget to stop by on Monday to see my BOOK gift recommendations!
Have a Thanksgiving and an awesome holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gift Guide for Girls!

Hello!

Do any of you have little girls on your shopping list and aren't sure what to get them?

Well, do not fear, because I am here for you.  I have compiled some of the gifts that my girls have LOVED.  I kept them pretty "girl general" and not super specific to my daughters' interests.  

I enjoy toys for my daughters that are "imagination facilitators."  Meaning, I want their toys to encourage creative, imaginative play.  I think it's good for their little brains :)

Also, there are some gifts that aren't necessarily girl specific, so even the little boys in your life will be happy!



So, I present to you, in random order, The Top Ten Gifts for Little Girls!

Fisher Price Snap 'n' Style



Maggie and Gracie each have one of these (there are several different dolls with different hair colors, etc.) and they love to play with them together.  The clothes are really easy to put on, so they can do it themselves.  Any mommy of girls understand how key that is :)  I think it's helpful to put the doll's hair in a braid right away so it doesn't get all snarled.  Also, because my mother-in-law is amazing, she gave a drawstring bag with this to keep all of the pieces together.  I am an irrational crazy person when it comes to pieces.  But, a charming irrational crazy person ;)


Little Mommy Baby So New


We have 4 of these babies around, and they are well loved and consistently played with.  We actually have the older version of these which came as sets of twins.  I love that they have sturdy arms, legs, and head, but the body is kind of like a bean bag.  It's a great size for even a one year old, and Maggie (she's in Kindergarten) still plays with these.


Doll Stroller



My girls have LOVED the doll stroller.  We've gone through several of them, because they aren't the sturdiest things in the world.  They don't just push dolls in them; they push around books, and stuffed animals, and play food, and crafts, and sometimes even each other...hence the whole "going through several of them" thing :)  Gracie was just using our remaining stroller this week.  On a side note, these are helpful for new walkers who need just a bit of extra help keeping their balance!


Stuffed Animal Dog in Carrier (Pucci Pup)



My daughters are terrified of real dogs, but they each have and ADORE one of these Pucci Pups in a carrier.  They all still play with these puppies.  They love the accessories and being able to make a little bed in the carrier.  Other times, they leave the puppy out and carry around a bunch of beanie babies or other treasures.  


Melissa and Doug Beads


I love pretty much everything Melissa and Doug.  Who are they anyway?  I feel like they'd be really fun friends :)  Anyway, my girls all LOVE these bead sets.  They love to make necklaces for other people.  I love seeing them be so generous by giving away necklaces with the big beads and not even thinking twice about it!


Dora Backpack Play Set


My girls have an older version of this, actually.  They love to play Dora.  When Leah was littler, she and her cousin would pretend to be Dora and Diego and go on little adventures.  Gracie plays with this a lot and loves to put other things in the back pack, too.  This is totally an imagination facilitator.


Tea Set


Again, this isn't the exact tea set that we have (ours is discontinued which makes me feel ancient), but it does the same thing.  Oh, and, of course, this is by our buddies, Melissa and Doug :)  This tea set is made of food grade plastic so they can use it!  When I'm feeling like the fun mom, I let the girls put water in the tea pot, sugar and creamer containers and we all sit at the table and have tea together.  We even have little snacks on the saucers.  It's so fun :)  There are a lot of tea sets out there, but a plastic one that you can actually uses and pour water out of is a must in my mommy book.

These next 3 are even more gender neutral than the above seven (in regards to the above toys, boys could absolutely play with them, too!).

Zingo




We LOVE Zingo!  It's a really fun take on bingo (obviously).  I like that the game is pretty short, so it's even good for little ones who don't have the longest attention span out there.  There are a lot of pieces, but they store really nicely.  The game is really sturdy, too.  We revamp the rules a little bit to work better for us, too, because there aren't Zingo police out there enforcing the specific rules :)


Blue Orange Games


I love how portable these games are!  I can throw them in my purse and pull them out at a restaurant while we wait for our food.  Plus, circle tins are just fun, and they keep the cards all together...again, my issue with pieces!  Our favorite Blue Orange games are:


  • Spot It!  Maggie is a freaking rock star at this game!  I swear she's going to be a spy someday!  There are a ton of variations of this game, plus Spot It Junior for even your littler little ones.  
  • Chef Cuckoo!  This game is like Chopped (the show on the Food Network) for kids.  Gracie especially likes it because it's so silly!  
  • Speedeebee!  This game is a little better suited for Leah (she's 8).  It's a really fun word game that's great for a group split up into teams.  When we play it all together, we be sure that they little girls are with me or Aaron so they are included.




My girls could craft all.day.long.  The above picture is of a scrapbooking kit that someone put together.  Most kids would love to receive a package including markers, watercolor paints, plain paper, scrapbook paper, glue sticks, glitter glue, scissors (plain and fancy edged), stickers, or whatever else you can think up!


Be sure to come back tomorrow if you need Gift Ideas for Little Guys!  My blogging friend, Amanda from Queen of the Land of Twigs and Berries will be here sharing her favorites.

And be sure to come back next week for gift ideas involving BOOKS!

Happy shopping :)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Slow.

I need to remind myself of this, so I'm going to guess that you need the reminder, too.

This is important:



This is productive:



Sewing buttons with Leah (even though it quite possibly takes 4 times as long) is worth it.


Leah and I literally shared each stitch.  She had a hard time finding the hole in the button when pushing the needle up from the bottom.  I would do that, hand her the pajamas, and then she'd push the needle down into the button hole.

We cuddled up by each other on the couch to fix Maggie's pajamas together...serving her sister and building her confidence. 

It took longer, but it was worth it.  Absolutely.

When a little one is having a hard time obeying and speaking kindly, sometimes the cuddle after she stands in the corner is the most important part of the process.

When it is witching hour, and everyone needs me, and dinner needs to be made, and backpacks have seemingly exploded all over the living room, and planners need to be signed, and snacks need to be eaten, and the dishwasher needs to be emptied so it can be loaded again, and spelling words need to be practiced, and, and, AND...

the most productive and important thing I can do is cuddle my physical touch/quality time girl who is an introverted feeler (for all of you love languages/Meyer's Briggs people).  

As we sprint into the holiday season, I need to remember:

I don't want to sacrifice what my girls really need on the alter of getting things done.

I don't want to work so hard to create an experience that I neglect their hearts.  

I am not defined by checking off all of the items on my mental to-do list. 

So, today I will be slow.  I won't rush her into and out of the minivan.  I won't get snippy when they need help and I'm in the midst of making supper.  I'll sit down and build blocks instead of cleaning her room.  I'll watch her do yet another cartwheel and her do a "handstand."  I'll look into her eyes when I give her an answer.  

A present mom is significantly better than a productive one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Project 365: #46

It's Friday!  Yahoo!  


Day 318:



Getting a jump on some Christmas shopping!


Day 319:



Leah colored the cute rainbow on the wall above her bed!


Day 320:



Enjoying her view of the morning <3


Day 321:



Just checking on her baby first thing in the morning!  Such a good little mama <3


Day 322:



This is what our living room looked like in the aftermath of organizing and separating the 31 orders!  The girls were watching Kipper on netflix while Leah and I put orders into bags.


Day 323:



Maggie with her teddy bear on National Teddy Bear Day!  She is wearing that particular outfit because it has the same colors as her bear :)


Day 324:



Gracie is entertaining Emma with finger puppets while Hannah and I visited!  Already trying out her babysitting skillz ;)

Have a great weekend!  

Oh and in case you missed recipes on Becky's Happy Table, here they are!



Monday, November 17, 2014

Becky's Happy Table

Are you all ready for this?!?!?!  Pretend I just said that in my introducing-the-home-team-players-announcer-voice.

I have a food blog...Becky's Happy Table!


Yep!

I've had it since the beginning of October, actually.  I've waited until now to tell you so that I'd have a whole bunch of recipes for you to peruse and pin!

Here is an index of all of the recipes I've posted.

Be sure to click on the Aldi Tab to see all of the recipes I've posted that use only ingredients from Aldi!  There are a bunch, because I participated in the 31 Days challenge in October. This means that I posted every day in October around the same theme, and mine was, you guessed it, recipes that only use ingredients from Aldi!

A few things: 
  • I won't be posting recipes on my personal facebook account, so for updates, like Becky's Happy Table on facebook and you can be facebook official with my food blog :)
  • I'll do a quick round up of recipes at the bottom of my Project 365 posts.
  • It's my goal to post 3 times a week here and 3 times a week on Becky's Happy Table.  
Now, here's the best reason to check out the food blog!  I just posted my scone recipe!  


I don't mean to gush, but I haven't met a person who hasn't loved these scones!  Everyone in my family loves them which is really saying something, because I have some picky eaters over here!

A couple of questions for you:
  • Do you have a family favorite recipe I should try?  Send it my way!
  • What kind of recipes are you always on the lookout for?  Slow Cooker ones?  Easy side dishes?  Quick entrees?  I want to post recipes the you want to make!

So, pretty please, come check out Becky's Happy Table and don't forget to like it on facebook!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Project 365: #45

We had a full and fun week!  


Day 311:


Sleeping Sweetie!  She woke up at 1:10 and had to throw up :(  She made it to the toilet, brushed her teeth, and then laid in bed with me (Aaron was still gone).  She stayed there for like 10 minutes and asked to go back to her bed.  I gave her a bowl, and she made it to the next morning and woke up just fine.  Weirdest thing, but I was so grateful it was a tidy, one time sickness...especially because I was on my own.


Day 312:


We went to Hobby Lobby and got some canvases to paint.  It was so fun and relaxing!  The girls are getting to the age where painting isn't an epic disaster!  I'm going to put our canvases up in that blank space by the window, and I'll be sure to show them to you.


Day 313:


He's baaaaaaaack! Yay!  We celebrated Aaron's birthday on Sunday, complete with snickerdoodles, because he's not a cake guy :)


Day 314:


Doing all of the glamorous things like putting dishes away before bed...


Day 315:


Gracie is doing a fun craft with a cupcake liner surrounded by smiley faces :)  :)  :)


Day 316:


The mad rush to get all of the snow stuff ready before school!


Day 317:


Fun time visiting friends and eating cupcakes!


I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November Menu

You may have noticed that I didn't have my act together enough to make an October menu.  I just did little weekly ones.  Life did go on, but I still enjoy the process of a monthly menu!

You'll notice that there's a lot of chicken in the first week.  I've decided that the girls have to get used to chicken more than they are now.  We'll see how that goes...


Saturday, November 1  Baked Ham and Swiss Malibu Chicken
Sunday, November 2  Sandwiches  Hot Dogs

Monday, November 3  Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Tuesday, November 4  Popcorn Chicken
Wednesday, November 5  Friends' House for Supper
Thursday, November 6  Grilled Cheese (salad for me)
Friday, November 7  Pizza

Saturday, November 8  Pancakes  Orchard Turkey Burgers
Sunday, November 9  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, November 10  Baked Omelette 
Tuesday, November 11  Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce
Wednesday, November 12  Garlic Lime Chipotle Roast Chicken
Thursday, November 13  Turkey Black Bean Chili
Friday, November 14  Pizza
Saturday, November 15  Pancakes or Baked Oatmeal  Pasta al Forno
Sunday, November 16  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, November 17  Chipotle Chicken Chowder (use meat from Wednesday)
Tuesday, November 18  Kalua Pork (make sliders?)
Wednesday, November 19  Honey Glazed Chicken
Thursday, November 20  Egg Sandwiches
Friday, November 21  Pizza
Saturday, November 22  Mini Puffed Oven Pancakes  Tacos
Sunday, November 23  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, November 24  Creamy Corn Chowder
Tuesday, November 25  Sweet and Smokey Chipotle Pork Tacos
Wednesday, November 26  Scones, Yogurt, Fruit
Thursday, November 27  Thanksgiving
Friday, November 28  gone
Saturday, November 29  gone (don't rob my house, please)
Sunday, November 30  still gone (I'm serious about not robbing our house)

I hope you find something interesting to try!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Project 365: #44

I feel like it's quite possible that these are the cutest pictures yet!

Day 304:


Cinderella, Butterfly, and Cat, all making silly faces, of course!


Day 305:


Leah is keeping things applesauce-tastic!


Day 306:


Fun family picture that our neighbor took of us on the balcony of the timeshare room they let us use!  We had so much fun at the indoor waterpark, plus the accommodations were amazing!  2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, dining table, and a fireplace!  Our neighbors are the BEST!


Day 307:


Cutest little vampires on the block :)


Day 308:


Gracie loves checking out the books when we drop Maggie off at school.  She settles right in with all of the Kindergarteners and is quite pleased with herself :)


Day 309:


Our other neighbors have a trampoline, and the girls had the best time getting their jump on with our little neighbor friend!  There was minimal crying.


Day 310:


I had a super fun 31 party while Aaron was gone (he was gone from Wednesday morning until Saturday after the girls were in bed)!  Naturally, I only managed to take a picture of the food (this awesome dip).  I was impressed that I even managed to take that picture, seeing as I dropped (and consequently shattered) the glass globe light covering thing while changing a light bulb, burned grilled cheese, and talked through all the feelings with the girls...all like 15 minutes before Erica (my friend and consultant) came.  


I hope your Monday is off to a great start!  We have conferences, doctors appointments, and a fun day trip planned this week...should be fun!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Project 365: #42 and #43

Aaron, the girls, and I are out of town at the moment!  Our wonderful neighbors had some timeshare space that they let us use!  The girls don't have school today, so it's the perfect little getaway :)

Here are some fun pictures (and a super cute video) from the last couple of weeks!

Day 290:


Reading with my girl before bed!


Day 291:


We stopped at the cupcake shop, and Leah was wearing the cup cake shirt.  Perfect!


Day 292:  


Sunday night:  watching football and blogging :)


Day 293:


I hope she never stops writing cute little notes <3


Day 294:


Those aren't books; they are puddles.  I love how creative she is!

Day 295:


Maggie with her signature drawing.  I love the hair and how she carefully drew 5 fingers on each hand <3


Day 296:


This video really captures Gracie's fun loving spirit!  Plus, believe me, she has her daddy's rhythm :)  The video is literally 11 seconds long.


Day 297:


Aaron performed a wedding out of town, so here he is getting stuff ready at the desk in our hotel room.  The girls stayed with my parents (also known as "fun-central"), so it was kind of a little getaway for us!


Day 298:


We had such a fun time at the reception!  The whole weekend itself was just great!  More about the wedding later...


Day 299:


Silly Gracie with an electronic key toy thing on the drive home!


Day 300:


The leaf sucker got full sucking up our leaves, so the truck left it there while they unloaded and came back for more.  We don't get a lot of action on our dead end, so this was big.news.


Day 301:


Debating the costume options at the Dollar Store.  Initially, I thought it would be fun to have the girls each pick a Strawberry Shortcake character to be for Trick or Treat.  Then, I realized how much work it would be and decided to let them go to the Dollar Store to pick from the costume stuff there.  It ended up being even easier when Gracie decided to be Cinderella (we were handed down a Cinderella dress up dress), Leah decided to be a cat (we already had what we needed for that at home), and Maggie decided to be a butterfly.  We only ended up buying a set of fairy butterfly wings at the Dollar Store!


Day 302:


While I was getting dressed for the day, the girls got breakfast ready and even put out a little centerpiece :)  They were eating this for breakfast.


Day 303:


I just didn't have my act together enough to carve pumpkins, so we painted little ones instead!  The girls really liked it!  I find that once I chill out about the thought of painting getting all over, it's actually quite relaxing.

I hope your week is off to a great start!