Gift Guide: For Him

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For the man in your life, be it your significant other, a parent or a grandparent. Or even a good friend!

Home Brewers Kit. This is Bry’s gift this year and I’m giddy for Christmas as I cannot wait to see the excitement on his face. He’s going to be so surprised! Unless he reads this post early. This kit is great for the man who wants to delve into homebrewing but is starting at square one. It’s foolproof, affordable and only requires a small amount of space. It comes with a choice of beer kit recipes to go with it (you get one for free with the kit) so you can tailor it to your loved one’s preference. And if you’re totally clueless when it comes to beer aside from you know it tastes good, they have a fantastic and friendly customer service center open 7 days a week! I did in fact call them asking for help deciphering beer types while almost inaudible due to laryngitis.

Straight Edge Razor. Another past Christmas gift and I’ll be honest, he never touches it after he shaved his face to look like he was mauled by a rapid animal but a few YouTube videos and some research into how to use them correctly could protect your guy and make him feel like a manly man for using an old school razor. Or so they say. Bry now has a full blown beard. Which also saves money on razors.

Gift Card to a home improvement store. Nothing hints, “get on that honey-do list” like a gift card to Home Depot but honestly, men love that store. Put them near power tools, give them an odd job and prepare to not see them for several hours while they feel powerful and manly and you very likely end up with an even bigger project than you started with (men know everything, thus they do not need to consult experts. “How hard can this be?!” Famous last words.)

A bottle of their favorite alcohol, case of beer or bottle of wine. Clueless as to where to start? Fireball whiskey is popular this year and dangerously delicious.

Coffee Mug. You could go the traditional route or add a personalized touch. For Father’s Day this past year I took the boys to a local art studio where they painted mugs for Daddy and Pappy. They both loved them. And they’re useful.

Stocking stuffers:

Hiking, athletic or regular socks depending on your guy’s preferences.

Mini bottles of liquor.

Personalized Keychain. I bought this one for Bry one year and he loved it. He’s not a jewelry wearer but he always has his keys with him.

Gift Guide: For the Kids

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Teething necklace or toy. Andrew is a slobbering, everything-goes-in-his-mouth, constant teether right now. If you’re anything like us, you can never have enough teethers. Like socks in the dryer they magically have a way of disappearing. A teething necklace is a great way to comfort your little one while holding him/her and not fear losing the teether itself.

Musical instrument. Think hard before you gift a loved ones kiddos this as it could be very loud and lead to major resentment. Jackson received a toy piano with an attached microphone from his G and he loves it. He even sings into the microphone and starts giggling, he thinks it’s so funny. He’ll play music on it and then dance around. I love that he’s learning with it. We bought him this guitar for Christmas after he developed a special love for guitars thanks to an episode of Chuggington.

Books. You can never have enough. Some of our favorites include Piggies, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Giraffes Can’t Dance.

Adventure/Experience Gifts. I personally think a kid can have too many toys and that having adventures and experiences together are more meaningful then a million flashing toys and trucks under the tree. Some great ideas include: a trip or membership to the aquarium or local zoo, a monthly membership to a constructive play class like Gymboree (I personally recommend for younger kids) or The Little Gym (personally think is better for the older kids), tickets to a local kids performance, trip to a museum, ice skating, movies etc. You could use an index card to draw a picture of the activity and wrap it so your kid still has something to open Christmas morning. We’re drawing some sharks and fish to indicate the aquarium for Jackson!

Clothes. They may not be the most fun to open but they sure are functional. Between spit ups and blow outs, scraped knees and nose bleeds, spaghetti explosions and tree branch fights, clothes don’t always last long even if they still technically fit.

Stacking Blocks or Rings.

Play Kitchen, BBQ, etc.

Puzzles. Melissa and Doug make some great ones.

Bike or scooter.

Ball. So simple but so much fun!

Stocking stuffers:

Gold chocolate coins
Gummies, goldfish, puree pouches, raisins, etc.
Magically growing sponge or washcloth. My mom bought one for Jackson last year and I think Bryan was more in awe. He thought it was sooooo cool.
Playdough, Whistle, Small Board Book, Shovel (endless fun in mulch or dirt), playing cards, small truck, GI Joes, matchbox cars, etc.

Day In The Life

1am: Andrew starts fussing in his pack n play. He’s currently sick. Again. He’s coughing and I can hear the congestion in his lungs, poor guy. I make him a bottle, change him and prop him up with it, then crawl back under the covers.

4:30am: He’s up! This is sleeping in lately, believe it or not. Last week there were many days starting in the 3 o’clock hour. Zzz. We head upstairs to play. I change his diaper and feed him another bottle while we cuddle in the living room.

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5:15am: Brother is stirring. I go brush my teeth and get him. He runs to find Cookie, our elf. He’s not pleased that she’s driving his tractor and immediately pulls her out and tells her to go sit by the tree (where she spends her days). I change Jack and get him some milk and a banana.

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6am: Were out the door to take daddy to work.

7am: Home again. I make us breakfast. I’m on an oatmeal kick lately. Side of extra strong coffee in a snowman cup.

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7:20am: I clean up breakfast. Andrew goes down for his morning nap and I start working on homemade sugar cookie dough. When it’s time to roll it out, Jackson joins me to cookie cutter it. After it bakes, we decorate it together.

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Made with love for my inlaws.

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8am: I made the dough for another 3 dozen cookies. I make this recipe omitting the brewers yeast and oatmeal and adding in white chocolate chips, pecans and macadamia nuts. Andrew wakes up while I’m baking so I run to get him, change him and feed him before any cookies burn. I sigh in relief when the last pan comes out of the oven.

20141209_1044239am: The boys and I play in the living room with all the trains and trucks you can imagine. Jack snacks and I feed Andrew solids. He’s not really interested.

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10:45am: Both boys are ready for a nap so it’s diaper changes all around and then bedtime. Andrew cries for awhile because he spends the first 10 minutes trying to stand up, gets stuck and falls back. While they nap I eat my current favorite homemade salad (spring mix, pear or apple, goat cheese, candied pecans, dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette), a pear and a granola bar.

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11:30am: They’re both up. No rest for the weary. I go to find Andrew in bed with a few papers off Bryan’s desk. I ask Jax if he wants to go on a lunch date to panera but he adamantly responds “no cheese!” He requested wendys chicken nuggets instead. I pack everyone in the car and we drive through CVS to pick up a prescription, grab some nuggets from wendys and head to target. I park and crawl into the backseat between the boys to feed Andrew while jack eats. Drew is a distracted eater so feeding him in his car seat is much easier than in his bumbo where he arches his back, wiggles and fights every bite.

 

12:30pm: With full bellies we brave Target. I get the kids stocking stuffers and a few groceries. While we’re there I stop at Starbucks for a grande caramel latte and Jackson gets a cake pop. Poor Drew just watches.

2pm: Were finally done after encountering the worlds longest lines and the slowest cashier. Andrew fell asleep in the ergo so we drop off our bags at the car and head back into the mall to follow the train around. We wave to Santa, chase the train around the majority of the mall and run into a Bob the Builder ride. I fork over 75 cents so Jackson can rock back and forth on the plastic tractor. Andrew wakes up and we head back to the car.

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3pm: The largest shitshow occurs while I try to wrangle both kids in the absurdity the is the post office during the holidays as I try to mail off packages to brys family. Jackson runs around pulling stuff off all the shelves and Andrew tries to eat the packages, then arches his back and screams when I move him out of arm reach of them. Mind you this is all without a voice still. I finally tell Jackson if he doesn’t start listening daddy’s going to spank him, as he slams the glass doors open and shut. He proceeds to announce loudly to everyone who walks in “daddy’s gonna spank me.”

4pm: Back in the car. Jackson’s soaking wet from puddle jumping his way back to the car. Did I mention it’s been raining and barely above freezing all day? We decide to head towards brys work as he’ll most likely be off soon. Just as we pull up to the shop he calls. He’ll be there in half an hour.

4:30pm: Crawl into the backseat again to finish feeding Andrew and entertain the kids. Jackson starts to lose his marbles from being “stuck” so long. I silently curse Bryan for taking his sweet time.

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5:30pm: An hour later Bry pulls up and were off to join traffic home. We get home and I take care of bringing the bags into the house and get the kids set while daddy takes out the trash. We start on dinner. He makes the BBQ pork chops and I roast butternut squash and cauliflower. My mom comes and entertains the kids while we cook.

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6pm: Put Andrew to bed and sit down to eat. Then it’s story time and night night for Jackson.

7pm: With both boys down we finish cleaning up, move Cookie the elf to a new spot, do the dishes and play a round of Rubbikub while eating cookies.

8:30pm: Crawl into bed. Not a moment too soon.

Gift Guide: For Her

Ms. Miss or Mrs. For the woman in your life, best friend, wife, sister, mother or mother in law, etc.

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Personalized Jewelry. I love turning to etsy for these. I’m a firm believer in gifting things from the heart and this one is perfect. I bought my MIL this necklace last Christmas and she wears it daily. She actually bought me a charm bracelet the first Christmas we had Jackson with a onesie and his name engraved. It is so special to me. We added Andrew’s charm last Christmas. I got my mom a family tree necklace  (<– don’t recommend that seller though, getting charm add ons for Andrew was like pulling teeth)one year and my dear friend this necklace with her son’s name and birthstone.

A Homemade Spa Kit or Gift Card to a Spa (manicure, pedicure, massage, we women don’t discriminate. We love them all). Spas can be pricey so if you’re on a constant budget, like us, make a spa kit at home! Include some things like nail polish, a nail buffer, loofa, Balt salts, foot scrub (you can even diy), bubble bath, lavender essential oil, slippers, eye mask, candles, etc. Nothing says I love and appreciate you quite like pampering. Says the sick, endlessly sleep deprived mama of two ;)

Clothing or an outfit they’ve had their eye on. If you’re clueless you could always gift them a month of StitchFix.

Alcohol. What? We don’t gender discriminate.

Chocolate. Chocolate in it’s original form, coating strawberries, mixed with nuts, lathered onto caramel. Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Personalized calendar. We made one for my inlaws the past few years because they unfortunately live half way across the country and don’t get to see the boys as much as we wish they could. A calendar was a great way to display some of their favorite pictures. A picture mug, photo book (I make one for Bry every year and he actually used one to propose!) or mousepad would also be good ideas.

Gift Card to an Art Class. There are constantly deals for these on livingsocial and groupon. They’re classes that you bring your own wine and have fun painting or sculpting together. Great gift to do with your loved one. My MIL, SIL, and 2 cousins all did this together last year in Austin. It was a great time painting but the fun of bonding was even better (and I was preggo so no alcohol was consumed, but it was still a great time).

Tickets to a Local Show: Theater, band, music artist. Whatever it is, if they’re big into concerts or performances get them a couple tickets to it!

Cold Weather Accessories. A cute chunky scarf, convertible mitten/gloves or fashionable beanie.

Stocking Stuffers:

Nail Polish. I’m currently obsessed with Bahama Mama by Essie.

EOS lip balm. Can you tell this is my favorite lip balm ever? I have one in the car, in my purse, on my nightstand and in the diaper bag. Never enough.

Gift Card. A small $5-10 gift card to a local coffee shop, restaurant or even something like iTunes.

Jewelry. A bracelet, necklace, ring, earrings. World Market actually has some gorgeous jewelry that’s very affordable and unique.

Personal Coupon. I grew up with me and my mom giving these to each other. I’ve extended the tradition to Bryan and our kids. Just write on an index card, basically an IOU. “One free back massage”, “One hour of babysitting”, etc. Free and functional.

Currently

20141024_061551I’m on an oatmeal kick. Between cold weather and a string of illnesses (were on round 3 and 4 right now which is one of the hardest because I’ve been without a voice for six days now. I’ll let that sink in. Six days. No voice. With a toddler.) I mix 1/4c trader Joes old fashioned oats with about 3/4c water on the stove top. As it begins to simmer I add in 1/8c chopped walnuts, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1/4tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2tsp chia seeds, 1/2 a small apple- chopped, 1/2 banana- sliced. Once it’s done I add a big scoop of crunchy pb and enjoy with extra strong coffee.

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I’ve been really into reading again lately. Thanks to Oyster I blew through two books in the span of 3 days. They were both really good. The Art of Racing in the Rain which I highly recommend if you love dogs and Brain on Fire which was a fantastic non fiction. If you’re interested in trying Oyster I recommend signing up for the trial online as you get an entire month for free versus a week if you register through the app, like I did. Womp womp. (disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with Oyster Books, I just really like the app).

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…Freaking out about the fact that my 8 month old wants to stand all.the.time. Yesterday he started screaming during naptime. I went into our room to find him standing in his pack n play playing with everything on my nightstand. He got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Or out. He pulls up on everything: big brother, our legs, chairs, the toy shelves, Legos and train sets and even a toy dump truck that landed him face first into it’s bed and left a wicked bruise on his cheek. Poor kid.

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…apprehensively excited about the fact that I was selected from the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April. I’m excited to have a race in mind for 2015 and the timing is great but I’m also feeling less than motivated to get my arse to the gym to get in runs and with the weather the way it has been (read: freezing cold and windy) I can’t get out on the trails with both kids. Maybe it’s a good thing that I now have a race to motivate me, eh?

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…loving kale salads. On a whim I ordered one from a restaurant a few weekends ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I finally recreated it at home and it is everything. So darn good. I mix prewashed and cut organic kale from Trader Joe’s with dried cranberries, sliced tomatoes, grated carrot, feta cheese, creamy dressing and walnuts. Try it.

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…attempting baby led weaning! Andrew is so busy that spoon feeding is nearly impossible. I’ve begun attempting BLW with pears and bananas and the kid LOVES it. It’s messy but fun!

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…loving the sibling bond even when they’re still so young. They melt me.

Gift Guide: For the Runner

I’m totally late in the game to throw my hat into the large mix of blogger gift guides. It’s a wonderful reflection of where I stand on our own gift ideas this year, pretty much in the line at he port o potties and the gun just went off. If anyone else if finding themselves a little behind and completely clueless on ideas, hopefully this will help you! A few of my personal favorite items that are sure to please the runner in your life.

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Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong. I actually received this for Christmas three years ago after reading the rave reviews on many blogs. It truly blew me away. It’s a fantastic book for runners, moms and women in general. It’s one of those rare books I go back to from time to time and could read over and over again. It’s fantastic!

Ultrarunning Man by Dean Karnazes. This is another wonderful running book that would be great for men or women. Very inspiring, motivational and will leave your jaw dropped at the incredible athlete Dean is.

Nike Dri Fit Running Shirt. My husband and I both own countless numbers of these shirts. So do our families after we coverted them because of our love. They don’t chafe, are great for layering, breathable and actually sweat wicking. We own many versions of the short and long sleeved variety and love them all.

Brooks Running Tights. These are a pretty penny but after three years of overuse they’re still in great shape and my go to running pants for winter running. They’re compression, warm, breathable, sweat wicking and comfortable! They don’t ride down (one of my biggest pet peeves) and have a thick, higher rise waist band for a flattering, sleek fit (my other pet peeve being unnecessary muffin top, or exploding muffin top). They even have a handy dandy back insulated pocket for storing a cell phone, fuel, house key, Chapstick, etc. They’re long too so they don’t leave unwanted ankle gaps. 5 stars, I tell ya.

Race entry. This is actually what I asked for this year. Races can be pricey, especially the larger ones so gifting one to your loved one is a great way to ensure they don’t let entry fees deter them from the start line. Make sure it’s a race they’ve been talking about and are interested in, don’t just sign them up for a marathon if they’re recreational runners who enjoy keeping to 2-3 miles at a time.

Gym Membership. My gift last year. Winter means we can’t always get outside to run, especially if we have kids who aren’t up for sucking up 10 degree weather and a stroller ill fit for black ice and 4 ft of snow. It’s a great gift that encourages cross training too!

The Stick. I’ve owned a foam roller for almost 6 years but I bought The Stick after a muscle strain and my hip while training for my last half. It’s incredible. It really helps you target specific areas that would be almost impossible to do with a large foam roller. You can use it sitting or standing which helps fight again a toddler who insists on being on top of you if you’re on the floor foam rolling, and tries to eat the foam itself if you refuse to share. Compact too so it’s great for travel.

Running shoes. Just make sure it’s a kind that they know and love. If you don’t know specifics a gift card to a running store would make a great gift!

Stocking stuffers:

Eso Lip Balm. Oh is this stuff the balm bomb. So smooth, delicious and truly prevents cracked lips. As a self proclaimed chapstick addict, this is my favorite.

Thorlos Experia Running Socks. $$ but really do help prevent blisters. I learned the hard way this past training session when I tried to save money and buy the “dri fit” socks from target. Not worth it.

Favorite fuel. Gu chomps, sharkies and clif bloks are some of my favorites.

Fuel belt. I’ve owned the spi-belt for years and love it but during my 5k this year it rode up to my ribcage while I ran and I spent 10 minutes trying to adjust it, burning precious energy and giving spectators an unfortunate view of too much skin. During every long run that never happened so I’m not sure what gave. I bought this belt at the race expo right before Baltimore and while it stayed in place I’m not in love with it. If you order it I highly recommend sizing down.

Lately

Sorry for going MIA there. Between Thanksgiving and another bout of illnesses to strike our littlest family member, it’s been pretty busy. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to.

On a random warmer day we headed out for an outdoor run. I have lost all stroller running endurance and felt every painful step of the 4 miles we covered. (Side note: I’m currently debating adding a race to my 2015 Calendar. I’m unsure what race I want to add though. I had my eye on the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April but I’m afraid with all these illnesses striking down the family and keeping me from running I won’t have enough time to train properly.)
IMG_20141124_082706I decided to get every penny’s worth out of the matching Christmas pjs I bought the boys so we busted out the Christmas movies and holiday joy. They weren’t very thrilled but I’m training them to love the big guy as much as I do. I have successfully taught Jackson to say Santa and Reindeer which makes me incredibly proud.

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Let’s just hope when he meets Mr. Claus himself this year it won’t turn into a repeat of what happened when he met Santa for the first time last year…

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though I’ll be the first to admit, that picture is epic.

One evening we bundled up and headed to the park with Daddy to expend some extra energy. Winter clouds and sunsets make gorgeous backdrops.

IMG_20141122_161617Jackson has learned how to roll down the hills at the park and thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world. Which, it is. He literally flings his tiny body onto the ground and starts rolling which leads to me unable to breathe I’m laughing so hard.

20141122_160752Andrew thinks he can stand now and likes to use big brother as an aide. Jackson loves it. He’ll grab his shirt or lay on the floor and pat his chest saying “Andrew, Andrew!” I’m in denial that this kid is growing up so fast. I mean, I just had him yesterday. And when did my toddler get so grown up looking?! His knowledge is soaring lately. I’m left speechless quite often when he does something like grabs the dustpan and says “help clean” while I’m sweeping. Or goes into the fridge and gets himself a snack, even throwing away the trash by himself. If Andrew cries he’ll run over to him and offer him a bottle or pat his back saying “OK, Andrew”. He even feeds the dog all by himself when he notices her bowl is empty. Now if only he could do the laundry…

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“Look ma, one hand!” Apparently by the looks of this picture Bryan’s trying to recruit him to help with some house projects.

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Finally a family picture where we’re all looking at the camera!! I should’ve washed my hair at least. Jackson’s smile is the greatest…and then he adds in the little hand pose. Toddlers.

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The littlest cub has been uber sick this week and it’s been cold and rainy so we’ve been quarantined inside. Obviously, this has been quite hectic with an energetic toddler so I’ve relied on many crafts and baking projects. My glucose levels are through the roof but we made these adorable handprint ornaments using salt dough! Can’t wait to paint them.

20141202_082040And just because they’re adorable and fill my heart with unbelievable joy.

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