Favorites, Parenting

    Stocking Stuffers

    Last year my husband and I went way overboard in the Santa department. We had a blast watching the kids unwrap all of their gifts, but quickly realized this isn’t a tradition we wanted to start. We have decided to do one big gift every year and then put all the fun little things in the stocking. As a mom of two crazy toddlers, I am always looking for non-candy gifts. I have compiled my favorite stocking stuffers for kids!

    • Underwear This one seems pretty silly but it's a tradition! When I was younger we always got underwear in our stockings and now my kids do! Check out our favorites by Gymboree here
    • Socks Nothing goes better with underwear then socks! Our favorites are 50% off! Check them out here.  
    • Bath Toys You can never have too many bath toys! My kids love color changing tablets. They come in fun colors! Check them out here. This year I am getting Charlotte little sticky Jelly Fish! Find those here
    • Cars Both our kids love cars. They are easy on the go toys. Check out some here.  
    • Water Bottle We are always loosing water bottles and needing more! We love Camelbak and Klean Kanteen, those can be found here.  
    • Shoes Our kids still have tiny cute feet, so shoes easily fit in a stocking.  Charlotte loves Robeez and Austin loves Nikes
    • Art Supplies We love to craft! There is nothing I love to gift my kids more then art supplies.  Amazon has good deals on art stocking stuffers. Check out Scissor Skills by Melissa and Doug here
    • Play dough Play dough finds it’s way into our stockings every year! It’s cheap and entertaining. Find some here
    • Pouches We hate to put sweets in our stockings but fruit & veggie packets are just the right amount of sweet. Austin loves the Oatmeal Breakfast ones which can be found here
    • Dish ware Re- Play has the best dish ware! I love their fun colors and the fact that they are dishwasher safe. They can be found here.
    • Snow hat We always head to the snow for Christmas so a snow hat is perfect to keep the kids cozy.  Gymboree has some sweet ones that can be found  here
    • Books A couple years ago my son received the sweetest personalized book from his grandparents.  It quickly became one of his favorites.  I See Me makes reading special for loved ones. You can find them here
    • Toothbrush Another favorite stocking stuffer! We like to find fun cartoon characters. This year we went with Paw Patrol, which can be found here
    • Learning Toys I adore these sweet little shape turtles from Smart Splash. They can be found here
    • Hair Bows There are so many adorable hair bows on Gymboree. We have this one on our list this year. 

    What are your favorite stocking stuffers? Let me know in the comments below! 

    **This page contains affiliate links meaning I make a small commission if you use those links.  I only recommend products that I love and trust.**

    Adventures, Crafts, Family Adventures, House and Home

    December Bucket List

    With the holidays right around on the corner I have decided to come up with my ultimate Holiday bucket list. This has helped me keep my promise to myself and my family to spend more time together and go on more adventures. We are usually rushing from place to place, getting gifts ready and running errands, but not this year. This year I want my focus to be on our family and ways we can spend more time together.  We hope to check each one of these off before the end of December. 

    • Tree Hunting

      This one was done in November! I randomly took Austin to the most precious tree lot and we had the best time running in and out of the trees. But come December we are going to cut down our own tree! A tradition that was destined to start. My husband is a city boy but loves everything about the country. If this doesn't’ scream country I'm not sure what does. 

    • Give Back

      This has been at the top of a couple of my lists. Why? Because it’s so close to my heart. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but showing compassion and love to the world is one way we can make it a better place to live. It’s difficult for my kids to give back at their age but a few ways we are this Holiday season is by donating things we no longer need. Austin has shown interest in getting his dad and grandparents gifts so I am taking him shopping at our local church. The money raised there goes to local families in need. 

    • Tree lighting ceremony

      There is something so magical about going to a tree lighting. Something we did in my small town growing up. There are so many in our area and I am making a point to take the kids to a few. There is also a parade of lights in our local park and we have loved making it a yearly tradition. 

    • Hallmark movies

      Clearly this ones for me! The same movie goes the same way - small town girl trying to figure out her life, falls in love with the guy, ends up getting married. They are just so addicting and it immediately feels like Christmas when they come on! 

    • Holiday Train

      The best thing about living in the bay area is that there are so many wonderful family events. There is a Polar Express train here that you get to meet Santa on. They serve hot cider and snow falls outside the windows. It is so unbelievably magical and special for the kids! It has become a tradition we do with our cousins.

    • Crafts

      We love crafting! Most of the time my kids make a mess instead, but I love turning their messes into little masterpieces. We have so many favorites that we love to do during the holiday seasons. I love to make special gifts for family.  Making gingerbread houses is high up on our list! 

    • Cookie Bake Off

      This is all Austin and me! Our hearts are made out of cookies. Sometimes I feel bad for giving him my insane sweet tooth, but now I have someone to share all the joys in life with! We love baking together (or I love it and he loves sampling).

    • Enjoy the COLD outdoors

      Build a snowman, go ice skating, get crazy with puddle jumping. Whatever it may be (or the weather may give us), I want the kids to enjoy what every season has to offer. It’s cold and yes I would rather be inside eating my cookies, but we need the outdoors. This year we are heading to the snow for Christmas so I am excited to share all the experiences I had growing up with my kids! 

    • Letter to Santa

      We did this every year as a family and it was a tradition I want my kids to continue. I feel like there are so many ways you can incorporate a kind heart into your letters. Austin has already been asking for some toys and I don’t think he needs everything he asks for nor do I want to raise him that way. For our letters we will be focusing on asking Santa to bring peace to whatever it is in their hearts. I know this will be hard as they are younger, but I think it would be great to start now. I want them to really think about what they want and why they want it. My goal is to incorporate some learning lessons into these letters.

    My bucket list will grow, just like our family is growing. These are simple December must do’s but the most important part about them is they encourage us to spend time together. After all, that’s what the Holidays are about, being with and appreciating your loved ones. 

    Whats  on your December Bucket List this year?

    Favorites, Parenting

    How to get your Kids

    Sleep and kids. 

    Do these two combos ever mix? Am I the only person in the world that struggles with their kids sleeping? What is wrong with my crazy kids?

    These are the thoughts that go through my head every night when I put my kids to sleep. Austin was never a good sleeper and once he got into a good routine Charlotte showed up and threw a wrench into our schedule. We were headed nowhere fast and I had to do something to change it fast.

    Our routine prior to purchasing a Dohm, was lay in Austin’s bed as I nursed charlotte to sleep then roll her off into bed with him. It took anywhere from 1 - 2 hours. Then I would sneak out only to hear Charlotte wake once more and nurse her down again.

    Enter the Dohm.

    Talk about Heaven on Earth. This thing rocked our world, but in a good way. The first night it came in the mail I plugged it in and prepared myself for battle. I explained to Austin that being 3, he needed to be a big boy and fall asleep on his own. I stood in the hallway and watched as it wooed him into a deep sleep. He asked me to come in and kiss him once. That was it! 

    Next was Charlotte who had NEVER slept in her crib. I nursed her, rocked her and rolled her in her crib. Out cold. I snuck out of the room and waited for chaos to erupt…1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour nothing. Eventually I got bored and went to bed. Charlotte woke up once to eat and went right back to sleep in her crib, Austin didn't wake till the next morning around 8 am. 

    When I say these things are miracles I am not lying. The price made me hesitant to purchase them at first, but now knowing how good they work, I think about all the sleepless nights they could have saved us from! My husband works crazy hours, and is forced to sleep during the day half of the time. He uses it to drown out all the noise the kids make when he is trying to sleep. Get one now! Before you lose your mom mind.

    This is not a paid post and trust me I know we (My husband & I) created this monster by snuggling and smothering our kids to death at bedtime.  I am an affiliate of Target and I do make a small percentage from links, enough for a cheap bottle of wine to chug when my kids go to sleep but not enough to send them to college.  All that aside, I simply LOVE this product and felt as though I needed to share it with the rest of the world. 

    House and Home, Recipe

    Ima’s Rolls

    This is my husband’s all time favorite side dish! Rolls are such an amazing addition to any dinner and these ones are everything you would expect and more, buttery, soft, and sweet! I learned about these “famous” rolls during my first Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws. My husband really talked them up. I couldn’t imagine they would be any better then the delicious Costco rolls (no joke 2nd best to these) that my family gets every year. But I was blown away. These rolls are THE rolls. They take first place. 

    Four years ago my in laws invited my family to spend the holidays with them and since then we have spent every single one together. My family and my husband’s family are all under one roof for the holidays. Talk about being blessed. 

    Three years ago my mother in law suggested I make the rolls. Me?! The person who prefers to follow simple recipes and burns half of what she makes? I was wondering if she was losing her mind, but I also was up for the challenge, as I knew it was the way to my husband’s heart.  Three years later, I am still making these rolls!  Every year I ask my mother in law for the recipe and every year I forget how to make them! Enter this blog post. I will NEVER forget how to make these delicious amazing rolls.

    Things that will always remind me of these famous rolls: My mother in laws giant green bowl with lid, trays and trays with towels draped over them and a sweet smelling kitchen <3 

    Disclosure: Last year I made these for Christmas with my toddler. He loved helping and rolling them. BUT he unfortunately decided to sneak a few handfuls of dough. Let’s just say he spent most of his 2nd christmas on the pot! Let your toddlers help, but maybe save the taste tests till after they bake. 

    What’s your favorite Holiday side dish?? Let me know in the comments below!

    Favorites, Parenting

    Newborn Favorites

    With three years behind us and two toddlers growing more and more each day, I feel like my go-to baby essentials list is finally complete. 

    With Austin, I started with one of everything. 3 different night lights - I NEED THEM, 100 onesies (Size newborn) - I NEED THOSE TOO, 500 bottles - YUP NEED THOSE TOO. I was literally drowning in baby swag every place I looked in our house. 

    A few weeks after Austin arrived I realized how over-stocked, overwhelmed and how overly tired I was. I never knew the whirlwind of joy, fear and anxiety that I would experience when I brought him home for the very first time. It was then that I realized the countless trips that I made to the market, to Target (of course) and all the online shopping I did on Amazon, could have waited until we all got settled in.

    When Charlotte came along, we did things differently. We loved all our gifts from our baby shower, but were they all things that we could not live without? Probably not. We could have survived with diapers, some onesies and a  few blankets. 

    So here is my go-to list on baby items and products that I found we used the most. Do you need it all? Absolutely not. But will it make the ease of bringing a little one into the world a lot easier? YES! 

    • Co-Sleeper

      Both my kids slept with me for at least 8 months. I thought they would go straight into the crib like every other baby/toddler that I hear about, but that wasn’t the case with us. The first time around I had a fancy bassinet and it took up too much room.  With my second, I opted to use a co-sleeper and loved every minute of it. It was cozy for the both of us and I still felt like baby was a safe distance away from me.  She couldn’t roll off the bed and she had her own area to sleep. My favorite can be found here

    • Rocker

      Considering that your baby will sleep the majority of his/her first few weeks, a portable rocker is a must. We moved ours all around the house depending on which room we were in. Even if she wasn’t sleeping I laid her in there for entertainment and for a much needed break from time to time. We also had a big rocker that took up much more space and had all sorts of bells and whistles on it. Our little one loved it. It you have the space I would say consider this. If you have pets or other kids, it is really nice to have them up off the ground as well. 

    • Dohm

      I wrote a complete review on this product that I will post soon. This is one of my favorite things ever! It is the best sleep machine around and so worth the money. My husband uses it when he works nights and has to sleep during the day. It utilizes two small fans to make a white noise sound that can be adjusted to a variety of different levels. We previously had a sleep sheep that we liked it  but the batteries always died at the worst times. You can find the Dohm here

    • Video Monitor

      This one you can wait on, but it would be a great item to put on your registry. Your baby will be by your side pretty much all the time during the first few months. It’s really nice to have this if you have a big house or will have your baby sleeping in their own room right away. We love our Motorola monitor. It has a nice big screen and allows us to have cameras in both of our kids’ rooms. 

    • Diapers/Wipes/Creams

      This is obvious, but there are so many different ones out there. We have our tried and true favorites. For diapers, we like Pampers when they are under 3 months (due to the wetness line that appears via a blue line on the front) and then Honest or Seventh Generation as they get older. For wipes, our go-to brand was Seventh Generation. California baby and Water wipes were a close second and third. 

      The two creams that I swear by Honest Balm and Butt Paste! Honest Balm is a must. I used it primarily on there bottoms and faces, but found that it worked wonders for their cuts and bumps that they get along the way. For bad diaper rashes (fortunately we only experienced a few) I stick to Butt Paste. It does a good job of creating a nice thick layer between their skin and diaper, and it smells so good. 

    • Blankets

      This could be number one on this list. There is nothing better then a big, soft muslim blanket. The uses are truly endless. I have used these to bundle baby, as a nursing cover, as a temporary baby carrier and as a diaper for baby (boy that day was a disaster). Invest in 4 - 6 quality muslim blankets and wash them a few times before using. They get softer with each wash. Our favorites can be found here

    • Carrier

      Let’s talk baby carriers. I have so many of these! I feel as though some are best for different ages. For under 6 months, I loved my Solly Wrap and Boba. Figuring them out was a little tricky at first but practice made perfect! I could put it on with my eyes closed now. As baby got bigger stuffing them in a wrap became more difficult for me. I love my Ergo carrier and it is something I still use on a daily basis. I have the sport carrier and it is super easy to keep clean. I can wear my baby or my toddler on my front or back and it’s super quick to snap on. 

    • Stroller

      Living on a hill I have learned how the Bob separates itself from the pack of other strollers. With one baby we had a single Bob and an umbrella stroller. We loved both. Second kid came along and we got a wonderful City Select stroller for our shower. We used it a lot when we were out and about, but quickly learned how impossible it was to push up the hill. We then got a hand me down double Bob. The City Select is super fast to put together and is narrow enough to go shopping with, but it doesn't turn well and isn’t easy to push for long distances. The double Bob glides along so effortlessly and is also super comfy for baby. The cons of the double Bob are its size and bulkiness.

    BONUS: Nose Frieda & Windi

    These are my favorite gifts to get people for baby showers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You want me to suck boogers out of their nose?!” Trust me, you will be thanking me when your baby is full of boogers  and can’t breathe at night or has gas and can’t sleep! You can find a cute little set of their products here

    What are you favorite baby essentials for the first few months? Let me know in the comments what your must haves for toddlers are as we have officially entered toddler world with a 1 & 3 year old.

    Adventures, Family Adventures, Favorites, Parenting

    Our Thanksgiving

    The Holidays are so incredibly special to us and our families.  For us it’s about being together and making memories with one another. It’s so easy to get stressed out and forget the magic of the season. This is a list of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and the ones that we want to remember every year. 

    • Give Back  There are so many incredible ways to give back. We decided  to have a yearly garage sale and donate all the money. It is the perfect opportunity to clean out and to give. This year we went big with our Garage Sale to benefit Sonoma County Fire Victims. You can find my post on it here
    • Come Together  We aren’t super into watching sports but more about doing them! We love to stay active. So we have decided to have a yearly football game. As the kids grow it would be fun to attend a Thanksgiving run. There are so many marathons in our local area and it would be an amazing bonding experience for our whole family. 
    • Express Gratitude  In this family we craft, we DIY and we get super messy! I make it a point to craft every holiday and have the kids make special gifts.  We have found that by doing crafts it give us time as a family to reflect on who and what we are thankful for. For toddlers, this can be SO hard but while we work on our projects we talk about what they mean and why we need these types of traditions in our lives. Check out our DIY Thanksgiving wreath and our Leaf Prints
    • Family Time  There is truly nothing more special than family time. We love to go on leaf hunts. It has quickly become a favorite of ours! As the weather gets colder and our nights get darker, it is harder to come up with fun things to do! The kids are tired, its dark out and its not quite bed time yet. We love to pull out all the pillows and make a giant bed fort, grab out the pop corn and then turn on our favorite movie. Currently, we love Cars 3, Sing and Boss Baby. Although I think we need to throw A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving into the mix. 
    • Gobble Gobble  I like to include everyone in the decision making for Thanksgiving dinner and treats. Although it’s difficult to accept tiny little helping hands that create more of a mess, it’s important for us to make those memories with them. I want my kids to help with cooking and cleaning and to know what hard work goes into creating these beautiful Holiday meals. I also hope this will help them appreciate the food in front of them.  Check out our Pumpkin Protein Balls recipe!

    Serving others is also something I strongly believe in. I have been searching for somewhere for us to volunteer as a family. This year we are hoping to volunteer at one of the local churches but as they get older I hope to help serve our community in a bigger way. 

    These traditions are part of what make Holidays so incredibly special to us. We are blessed. We have a roof over our heads, more food then we will ever need and family that constantly supports us. I want my kids to always remember to celebrate all that we have and to give back to those that haven’t been so blessed.

    House and Home, Minimalism

    Simplified Mom #3

    “Give more things away. Your life will feel lighter, your heart will feel warmer and the world will be better.” 

    This quote perfectly symbolizes what has been going on in my life. I have been struggling to get rid of things, not because it’s hard to part ways with our stuff, but because the task of digging through things is not an easy task. At the same time I have been trying to find a way to help our country at this difficult time. All of these disasters and tragedies keep happening around us and for some reason I just couldn’t find a way that I could help. I wanted so badly to volunteer and travel to help people but with two kids that is virtually impossible. 

    All over California there were fires. Our beautiful state was burning and there wasn’t much anyone could do. The fires in Napa and  Sonoma were the closest to home for me. 

    My husband and I went to Sonoma State University and lived there for a several years. The area was so incredibly close to our hearts. Many friends and family still live there. I never watch the news with my kids, but during this time I just stared at the TV and watched the devastation. I cried and cried for those that lost their homes, their belongings and their loved ones. How can I help? I asked myself this so many times.

    It hit me, I’ll have a garage sale and I could donate all the money to them. I quickly reached out on social media, “Anyone want to have a garage sale with me to support the fire victims?” The response was overwhelming. My community was ready to band together and help as much as they could.

    Then came the hard work. Creating a community garage sale that was efficient and made lots of money to donate. I found myself overwhelmed at times, but I reminded myself day in and day out that it didn’t matter how much we made but that our hearts were in it.

    These are the steps to having a successful garage sale. Whether you have a personal garage sale at your home or a community wide rummage sale like I did.

    • check
      Details  The location, the date, the times. This has to happen first. You need to organize all the details so you know what size of sale you are looking at. For me it was finding a space big enough. It ended up being at our local community center which was perfect. It was suppose to rain the weekend of the sale so we needed an indoor location with tables. Other details you will want to figure out beforehand are where you are going to donate the money.  Those interested in participating or volunteering will want to know from the beginning where their time and money is going and who it is going to benefit.
    • check
      Advertisement  Advertise everywhere!!! I used Canva to create flyers that I could hand out and post on social media. I created a couple different ones. I also distributed the flyers at local schools. Because this was a fundraiser many schools and companies were willing to help. Our local printing company donated the copies. I reached out to community leaders and asked them to post to their pages as well.  
    • check
      Organize  I cleaned out my house and had piles in my garage. I sorted out all the clothes by mens, womens, kids and then the kitchen items and toys. I felt like I had the perfect little system in my garage. Then people started to drop off donations, which turned into even larger piles in my tiny garage. I sorted through these bags quickly and hung up the nicer clothing items like jackets and dresses. I made sure each category had its own space so it would be easy to lay things out on the day of the garage sale. I also sorted out things that were of poor quality, stained or ruined and took those to goodwill. 
    • check
      Delegate  This was hard for me because I hate asking people to do things but it was necessary. I had a wonderful local mom offer to help me with everything and that was a blessing. I had another mom offer to throw a bake sale at the event. I had her organize baked good donations and set up for that portion of the garage sale. I had someone hang big posters around town and others come the morning of to setup. If you're  having a personal garage sale this all falls in your lap, but if you are doing a fundraiser it is a lot easer to find others to help. 
    • check
      Resources  Where will I keep the money? Cash Drawer? Servers apron? What will I need readily available at the sale for shoppers? Extra bags, extra cash for change, tape, paper, chairs and tables! Have these things ready a few days before. Set up the location or space the night before if you can so you can lay the items out easily in the morning and then focus on the shoppers.
    • check
      Setup  This one is so important. I am so lucky that the mom helping me had garage sales before. She quickly set the tables up around the room and down the middle so people had room to browse up and down. The items were set on certain tables. There were areas inside and out. We also had bags available near the clothes so you could “fill a bag for $.”  We found that helps us get rid of things quickly. There was a rack that we had dresses and coats for people to easily look through. We had an area set aside for people that brought donations on the day of the sale so we could quickly sort through them and put them out on the tables. We had a large poster that listed the prices and details. Make sure your set up is convenient to the shopper. One thing I wish we had was an area with a mirror to try on clothes. 

    Our garage sale was so unbelievably successful. I never imagined we would raise so much money nor did I realize all the incredible people I would meet along the way. I am proud of the community I live in and excited to raise my kids here. The best part was handing over the money and knowing it would make an impact on their community.  

    After our successful garage sale we decided this needed to become a yearly thing. It became an important part of our Thanksgiving celebration list. We now will have a yearly garage sale around this time to give back. All the money will be donated and we will clean out our things along the way. I couldn’t imagine a better lesson for our kids and a better way to give back to those in need.