Category: Organizing

Friday Favorites – Koala-T-Time Subscription Box

With the busyness of modern life do you ever find yourself looking for a new way to connect with your kids? Sometimes I feel like we rush through dinner, and our night time routine, and before we know it we are closing the lid on our day when we close the last book at story time. It all goes by in such a flash before I even realize that we didn’t get to chat about any of life’s bigger lessons.

That’s why I am so grateful that Elianis Guevara, CEO of Koala-T-Time subscription boxes, reached out to me with the opportunity to review a Garden Box! My girls love everything about this little box, and I love sharing it with them! Each box comes with a theme, ours was a Garden Box. Inside the box is weekly activities packaged individually to include everything you need to play. From the instructions, to the tiny little game pieces, to questions to ask your kids.

Here’s what our box included:

Week 1 …. Earn & Spend. Live the life of a farmer on a mini board game and learn that working hard brings rewards.

Week 2 …. Save. Work, live, and play while hopping through different seasons. make sure to save for winter!

Week 3 …. Grow. think about the future and learn the benefit of saving for the long-term.

Week 4 …. Give. Be inspired to help those in need as you learn the true story of a 9 year old girls who decided to make a difference.

Special Koala-T-Time Activity– creating a garden in a glove!

The second my girls found this box on the front steps they were thrilled and wasted no time getting a look at what’s inside. We played the very first game of Earn & Spend which included tokens earned for work. This really ties in beautifully with lessons we are trying to teach them about earning. If you are a regular reader of my blog you know we are working on creating a money genius.

The list of conversation starters helps open a dialog about a particular life lesson outside the board game experience. Then parents are encouraged to make it real by sharing their own scenarios with their kids. We like to play board games before bed most nights so this is a great way share our own values and important lessons before sending the kids to bed.

Each game is designed to last around 15 minutes, or less (time is noted in each set of instructions) and give parents some extra time focusing on something that isn’t just homework and chores. After schleping kids to activities and racing to get dinner on the table how many of us have time to create a fully planned out, unique and fun activity inspired by a different theme every month? This little box shows up on your door step and does the work for you! That’s what I call winning!

Select a one time box to see how it works for you and your family, or prepay a 3 month or a 6 month subscription box (free shipping on the 3 and 6 month packages). It’s that easy! Trust me your kids will love getting fun mail just for them, and you will love getting to share extra Koala-T-Time with them! (See how that works?).

If you want to catch a glimpse of other fun boxes to share with your kiddos visit Koala-T-Time at their website, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received a complimentary subscription box in exchange for my honest review. All opinions belong solely to The Whatever Mom. #Amazonaffiliate links contained above. These are safe to use and when you shop using the link I receive a very small commission. 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites Mason JarJackets Review and Giveaway

Almost as a right of passage into parenthood, our house has become overrun with plastic toys, plastic dishes and plastic cups. Even our kid care products come wrapped in plastic packaging. It’s just too much! So, we’ve decided to downsize the amount of plastic we have in our house, and we are starting with our kids dishware. I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to get rid of the 1,000 plastic cups that spill out of the cupboard whenever my kids go in search of just the right one.

Glass is definitely the cleanest and healthiest option for drinking and eating. Not only is it sustainable and reusable, but glass is safe from leaching chemicals into our food and beverages. Making the switch to mason jars for drinking is eco-friendly and economical. Here’s why:

  • Mason Jars are composed of all-natural, sustainable raw materials and are 100% recyclable. They can be reused endlessly!
  • Because they are made of glass, mason jars won’t leach harmful chemicals like BPA/BPS and phthalates into contents.
  • Mason jars are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe  and have endless uses in the kitchen, your home and beyond.
  • Mason jars cost approximately $1.00 per jar (when purchased by the case).

As much I love mason jars for just about everything, we found the two piece lids difficult for little hands to use and we can’t take them on the go. And once the jars get “sweaty” they become slippery. That is until we discovered JarJackets! Super mom and founder, Sacha Laustsen wasn’t thrilled by the plastic cup options for her daughter to drink out of, so she began using mason jars but made them safer by adding a silicone jar jacket to fit. The removable silicone sleeve provides enough shock absorption to withstand the rugged pace of a tiny human. After nearly two years of testing and and revising, Sacha introduced the JarJackets sippy to the world! The sippy lid is all one piece with proper air flow, and is designed to snugly fit the 12 oz mason “jelly” jar. Because mason jar mouths are universally sized, the sippy lids are interchangeable with any regular mouthed mason jar.

The JarJacket sippy is designed to help eliminate chemical exposure, reduce waste and declutter your cupboards! No need to store a bunch of tiny valve pieces and waste time matching the tops. Just store your clean jars with the food grade silicone tops already on. No clutter, and no toxins going into your child’s mouth. The most amazing feature is once your child transitions out of the sippy cup phase, they can continue to use the mason jar with the colorful sleeve on as a drinking glass. No plastic to toss when your child grows out of the sippy cup phase!

Even though my kids are older than the sippy cup crowd these bad boys really come in handy on the go! We enjoy taking our morning smoothie in the car with us. We simply add a straw through the top before leaving the house. The girls carry them back and forth with ease and I don’t worry about leaving the jars in the hot car while we run errands. We rinse them clean to reuse throughout the day for our water and iced tea. The lids come in handy while we are outside in the yard by keeping our drinks safe from insects. I am in love with the simplicity of the design, and how easy it is to take our mason jars with us wherever we go!

If you follow JarJackets on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube you’ll get access to some awesome recipes and mason jar lunch hacks. I am completely hooked on using our JarJackets for more than just sipping! Did you know you can bake a chicken pot pie in a mason jar? Seriously, go watch the video!

As always I am EXCITED to share my love of my favorite things with a giveaway!! Sacha has generously offered to send one lucky winner a 2 PACK of JarJackets + the lids in their choice of color! To enter just comment below and tell us what you put in your mason jars! Unlock extra chances to win by following all the options!



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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received complimentary JarJackets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions (and mason jar obsession) belong solely to The Whatever Mom. #Amazonaffiliate links contained above. These are safe to use and when you shop using the link I receive a very small commission. 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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4 Reasons You Can and You Will Get a Cleaning Lady

Years ago a friend of mine, newly married and about to have her first child, said “I have to get a cleaning lady. Working 40 hours a week and having a kid AND cleaning my house- it can’t be done.” I remember judging her so hard. I admit before kids I was the judgey single girl who slept as long as she wanted and had no idea how much work (and house cleaning) goes into parenting. My immediate thought was, “do you know how many single moms are raising several children at once, working two jobs and still cleaning their own house? It CAN be done.”

Now that I am a mom, and I know other moms, you know what we want? A cleaning lady. I can’t count how many moms answer this question, “what would you do if you won a million dollars?” with “HIRE A CLEANING LADY!” Why? Because our families don’t stop with the messes! I spent an hour and a half cleaning the house the other day. I scrubbed two bathrooms, vacuumed AND mopped the floors and finished a couple loads of laundry. Just as I was patting myself on my back for a job well done I looked back to the kitchen table now filled with crumbles of the snacks I let the kids eat to keep them occupied, and then I tripped over the trail of toys they pulled from the four corners of the earth to play with while I CLEANED THE HOUSE! GAH!

When you tell people you are hiring a cleaning lady they are thinking one of two things:

  1. You must be rich.
  2. You are being lazy.

Turns out you don’t need to be rich to afford a little extra help, and it actually makes you smart not lazy. Here’s why you should hire a cleaning lady, even if you have to sell a pint of blood to pay for her. Kidding. But I’ll totally do it if I have to!

You save your time. It is actually very rare for moms to get time enough to clean everything that needs to be cleaned in a day without a child asking for a snack, or complaining about the atrocity their sibling just committed. You can’t focus on both things at once. But a cleaning lady is there to JUST clean your house. Her attention isn’t divided so the whole cleaning process goes smoother and faster. What might take you two hours may only take her an hour. That means one more hour of your time to spend it the way you want. Play outside with the kids; sip a beverage on the deck, read a book! Just don’t feel guilty you aren’t the one inside scrubbing out the toilet.

You save your energy. The big misconception of hiring a cleaning lady is that you need her to come to your house every week. Not true! I actually hire someone just to do the bigger cleaning. The summer months are the hardest for me to manage. I can just about keep up with the bare minimum, but having a pro come in twice a month to do the bigger clean is a huge help to my stress level. I feel more energized to do more with the kids like watch them run through the sprinkler while I sip my iced coffee on the deck.

You won’t have to break the bank. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on hiring cleaning help. Just pick out a few hot spots in the house that are difficult for you to keep up with and find someone willing to do those specific tasks. For me I can’t keep up with the bathrooms and the floors in the summer. The kids bring in so much water and dirt from playing outside, and bath time happens every night. It always looks like a show at Sea World after bathing two kids. Hiring someone to mop my floors and scrub down two bathrooms every two weeks costs less than having someone come every week. And so worth the extra time I get back! You can also hire someone to come do a deep cleaning once or twice a year. No harm in asking Santa for a little extra help during the Christmas season!

You can help another mom. Hiring a cleaning company is going to be more expensive than hiring an individual who cleans homes. I found another mom who started cleaning houses so she could have extra cash to be home with her child. She selected when she wanted to work and how much to charge. I was happy to help another local mom provide for her family, and I got shiny floors in return! Total win-win!

You can definitely make having a cleaning lady more affordable by limiting the amount of cleaning hours needed. For example, I make sure my kids pick up all the toys beforehand so vacuuming and mopping are a breeze. I also make sure things are put away in the bathrooms so there isn’t anything to clear out of the tub. Before your help starts they will assess the size of your home and go over everything you’d like to have cleaned before giving you a time frame. Once you agree on a plan they know exactly where to clean and waste no time in getting it finished. Everything is negotiable, so knowing what you want help with really counts.

I only hire extra cleaning help during the summer to maximize my time with my family. Otherwise I couldn’t afford it. I am deeply grateful for the extra help every couple of weeks. The rest of the year I am on my own. Oh and one more bonus, I am less likely to get upset about a new mess in the bathroom after it’s just been cleaned when I wasn’t the one that “just cleaned that!”

Do you ever hire extra cleaning help?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites- Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)

Teaching my kids to be responsible with money is a cornerstone of the foundation I am building for them. I grew up poor, but I learned very early the value of a dollar. By elementary school I understood that buying a toy that lasts for less than a few minutes wasn’t worth all the work I put into earning the cash to pay for it. By the time I was a teenager my mother (a single mom of four) was a full time employee and attending college at night. She entrusted me with the weekly grocery budget. I planned every meal and snack for our family of six, and I learned how to double stack store sales with coupons. That may sound like a lot of responsibility for a teenager. But I never had to work while I was in high school because whatever money I saved in the grocery budget, I got to keep ($30 a week on average). It turned out to be an amazing life lesson.

As a parent I worry how to teach my kids what I learned by doing. Age six is a little too young to clip coupons and meal plan, but I believe they can still be in charge of their own money. Our kids do not earn money for routine chores like dishes, laundry and cleaning their rooms. But we do want them to learn that hard work pays off. So we pay them for more labor intensive jobs like yard work, washing the cars and cleaning up the garage. Over the last year they have each saved up $30! Instead of marching off to the toy store to buy one item, we told them they could have it to spend while we were on vacation. The caveat being they were responsible for purchasing their own souvenirs. Why? Because when mom and dad are buying, they think the sky is the limit. It’s easier to spend someone else’s money when you don’t know how much work went into earning it. Our decision paid off because the girls really thought about their budget when making their selections. They asked about prices and we helped them do the math and talked to them about adding in tax. I am proud of how quickly they accepted the new money rules, and really proud of how well they stuck to their budget.

My friends reactions after hearing this made me feel like maybe I was being a little too strict about money with my young kids. But according to Beth Kobliner, author of Make Your Kid A Money Genius (even if you’re not) this is completely age appropriate, and the first step to helping our kids become money geniuses.

We are already following many of the tips Beth outlines, but one thing we never thought about was including our kids in the weekly discussion of household finances. We are so focused on teaching them what we know vs. allowing them to experience where all our money goes. I honestly did not think that needed to happen until much later. Thankfully, Beth breaks down money concepts kids should know in preschool, elementary school, high school and beyond. There is also a section on how to save and pay for college. I feel like that discussion is so far away, but it will be here before I know it. Thankfully, I’ll be prepared with Beth’s step by step plan.

I also really love that this book includes character building tips surrounding money, like when to donate and how to give generously. I tend to give whatever change I have in my pockets to a Veteran, or sports kid shaking a can outside the grocery store. But I never thought to talk to my kids about why I give. The book begins by outlining how to talk to your kids about money, and each subsequent chapter is broken down into talking about paying off debt, better, smarter, spending how to give back and even smart advice for parents. Which even as good as I am with money there is always room to learn more!

Unless you are already working a job in the world of finance, this book is essential for parents of children ages 3-23! It is the perfect primer for talking to your kids about money concepts at every age and stage. Helping your child understand the value of money and how to use their dollars wisely will set them up for future success!

In what ways have you helped your child become a money genius?

Find Beth on Facebook and Twitter or on her website www.bethkobliner.com/


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Taking Over Christmas Like A Dad

A few weekends ago I wrote a post on Facebook that went like this:

 

It just seems like my husband has things a little easier. The weekends are less hectic which equals less demands for racing through breakfast and less drama. He often gets to sleep in because he is up early during the week (I am too, but I apparently exist in the shadows). I envy both of those things- less drama and more sleeping.

On weekend mornings my husband doesn’t get up with a to-do list on his mind and go right to work. Seconds after his feet hit the floor he b-lines it to the shower. No one stops him to ask a million questions, nor does he stop to ask anyone else questions. He needs a shower, he takes a shower. I can not figure out how to make this work for myself. As soon as my feet hit the floor I’ve been had, “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!! What’s for breakfast?!”

“Nothing I’m taking a shower!”

“Awe but I’m hungry!”

“Eat your sister!”

We had a bad snow storm on Saturday which left me trapped inside by snow, two kids and a stomach bug while my husband went to work. I laid in bed fuming that when hubby is sick he gets to stay in bed and make zero breakfasts. No one talks to him, looks at him or even goes near the door to his room. When I get sick, “mom can I have a snack?” “mom will you open this?” “mom can I have water” “mom are you breathing?” I decided not this day. I am too sick and exhausted to even move right now. I have been vomiting for several hours and I am in NO MOOD for demands. The kids will learn to survive this day or starve. (Thankfully they survived and there’s a future post on that).

The weekend flies by and I wake up Monday morning with a lengthy to-do list and a minor headache left from too much “sleeping in” over the weekend. I count five different stores to shop through. “I’ll never make them all in time!”

But then, something miraculous happens when I stepped into Target. I decide, today is the day I just wanna be a dad. Now if your husband, is anything like mine, he may have a broken give-a-shit-meter. My husband hasn’t given one shit about the gifting process in the last decade + we’ve been together. Today, I didn’t either. I grab a cart, crumple my list and toss it to the floor before I take the aisles by storm with a determined pace. I walk through the men’s department and grab stuff off of wracks and toss into my cart, “yep! this will do!” I swing by the wrapping department to pick up some fun Holiday Crackers to give to the kids at Christmas Eve dinner. When I flip over the box I see these things open with TNT (as in dynamite) and the grand prize is a nail clipper. “Who gives a shit? Not me! I’m dad today!! Ahahahaha!” I throw them in the cart. I throw more things in the cart that I could get at other stores for less, but why the hell make an extra trip just to save a few dollars? I can’t believe how easy this is! It is so freeing to just not care! No worries! No regrets! How have I been living my life all these  years?!

Next stop Kohl’s! Hubby hoarded a small bank roll in Kohl’s cash that I was able to guilt him into convince him to let me have. I really need a few shirts for myself and thought I should pick up an extra pair of pajamas for him to feel cozy in during his weekend sleep retreats. Normally I am so indecisive about clothes. It can get really stressful picking out the most flattering colors and fabrics. I have to be concerned with what’s in fashion, what season it is. But not today! Today I am the dad! I care nothing of colors and seasons and I grab a fist full of the same damned shirts! And yep, I still don’t give a shit!

Now I am about to slam dunk this shopping trip in just two stores! I’ve come to the section of the program where I need to select hubby’s new fashionable sleepwear. What is his favorite color? Does he like flannel, or cotton better? To hell with personal preferences you are getting those tacky Christmas pants on a hanger from over there and the Merry Christmas Darth Vader t-shirt wadded up on top of a pile from over here. I don’t care if they aren’t coordinated, or even match. Who needs fancy buttons and comfortable fabrics?

I am done!!

In record time!!

The. Crowd. Goes. Wild!

The cashier high fives me and says, “no charge today m’am! What you’ve accomplished here today is payment enough!!” Then she sheds a tear while bagging my free items.

Ah. It really does feel good to be the dad now and then. To not live so trapped inside my head with details. Not having to waste time obsessing over things like a healthy breakfast and worrying if your gifts are perfect. Those things just power the meter and wear you out. Nah, this thinking things through and making things magical is just dumb. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to grab a shower and take care of a few stray chin hairs.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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3 Simple Christmas Traditions for Young Families

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year for most folks. But add to that sleepless nights, colds, teething, temper tantrums and just trying to keep your kid from knocking over the Christmas tree you worked so hard to put up, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a holiday that isn’t any fun.  Well, since I started reading The Whatever Mom (Roxanne is my mama spirit animal), I’ve come to the conclusion that often less is more. My main goal with motherhood is to keep my sanity and have kids who are happy and healthy.  Here are 3 things we do at our house to simplify Christmas with our 17 month old, while still making it memorable and fun for our family, and something we can look back on fondly.

Holiday Traditions

For our family, the easiest way to guarantee fun each year and make the holiday special is to start a family tradition (or two). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  We use a fun little Christmas plate for meals starting the day after Thanksgiving and we break out the advent calendar.  Not a lot of work to grab these two out of our attic and they’re so cute in pictures each day.  Here’s one of our banana and pancake breakfast this morning!  

lukes-breakfast

You can find similar plates just about anywhere.  I believe we got this one from the dollar section at Target, but if you shop online you can have it shipped directly to you and you don’t even have to leave your house. (See shopping links below).

We also like to use an advent calendar to count down until Christmas.  It makes for a fun little daily tradition and cute pictures too! Here’s one from Pottery Barn, which holds up great, but if that’s not in your budget this year, you can make a paper chain or coloring chart, or look for one that’s half off at the end of the season!

advent-calendar-pottery-barn-kids

No Fuss Decorations

When you have young kids, they want to touch and hold and play with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So put away the $100 crystal ornament you inherited from your great grandmother; and the sentimental (breakable) ornaments you got the first year you were married. Instead, fill in those spaces with some fun ornaments your kids help you make.  It will give them hours (or at least several minutes) of fun and they will have keepsakes they can take with them some day.  Most craft stores have little wooden ones for a dollar or two that can be colored-in with markers.  If you’re really brave, you can even get out the paint!

wood-ornaments

Plan Ahead

Making a plan may sound like work, but it can actually give you peace and sanity this time of year.  Talk with your husband (or co-parent) and your kids (if they’re old enough) about what activities are most important to them.  Then, make a list of 3-4 activities that you know are doable, and make a plan to do just those activities.  You might be surprised what means the most to you and your family.   

Our list typically looks something like this:

  1. Set up Christmas Decoration
  2. Take Family Photos for Christmas Cards
  3. Visit the trains at the mall (They have an Amazing electric train display at our mall, that our little guy LOVE to go see).
  4. Make cookies
  5. Go look at Christmas lights

The great thing about planning ahead, is now we don’t have to think about what we want to do and no one is left feeling like they didn’t get to do what they wanted.  As an added bonus, if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s OK!  Didn’t get a chance to make cookies? That’s OK! We’ll buy some festive ones from the store or local bakery.  Our little guy got sick last year during the week of Christmas and we opted not to take him out to look at Christmas lights, but we’re hoping to this year!

Spending time with each other is the most important thing this time of year so make sure to carve out a little time to relax, drink some cocoa, enjoy some wrestle snuggle time and watch a Christmas movie or two.  You’ll be glad you didn’t overwhelm yourself with a huge to-do list this year!

peter-and-rosieRosie Bynum is a boy mom and owner of The Dinosaur Clothing Boutique. Her son Luke and husband Peter help her run the family business. Check out all the adorable creations on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


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4 Low Budget Almost Handmade Holiday Gifts

Quasi Handmade Gifts

I have vivid memories of the closet in the extra bedroom of the house I grew up in. The best stuff was shoved way to the back corner on the floor, occupying the oldest stratigraphic layers of closet geologic time: my mom’s forgotten Christmas craft supplies. Two file boxes full of that weird crunchy florist ribbon, decaying foam wreath forms, stapled baggies filled with sequins… like manna from heaven.

Fast-forward to my own life as a mom: I’ve never given up on the dream of a handmade Christmas, though my standards have relaxed in the wake of having two children in 18 months. My life is nuts, the holidays sometimes give me an anxiety rash, and I’m not particularly good at juggling very many things at once. As such, I bring you:

Ideas for A (Quasi) Handmade Holiday

Fabric Napkins

I’m usually a booze-as-a-gift sort of person – but grad school yielded more friendships than I could afford to buy Frangelico gift sets for. So I sleuthed out everyone’s general decor palettes and got to work hemming quilting cotton into 12” x 18” rectangles. The shape required less fabric than a traditional 18” square napkin (cheap), and using highly patterned quilting cotton meant you could stain it up pretty badly before it looked too gnarly (easy care). And they don’t require ironing – just fold them up however you like directly out of the dryer and they look great. You don’t even need to hem them if that’s too much of a pain, just zig-zag stitch around the edges and allow them to fray as they wear. I still see those cloth napkins on occasion when I visit my friends. At least the smart ones who put them out when I come over.

Whipped Shea Butter

I went through a phase making handcrafted all-natural lotions and ablutions… before husband. Before children. Back when my thoughts and bathroom time were my own. The biggest hit with everyone was also the easiest to make: whipped shea butter. Throw a bunch of shea butter (I buy mine on Amazon), and whatever smelly stuff you like (maybe essential oils from your Young Living friend who won’t shut up about the soles of her family’s feet) into a stand mixer and beat it into oblivion. Seriously, cue up something captivating on YouTube, because you’re going to be there a while. Whip until fluffy like frosting and pipe into clean jars (go with small mason jars if you want to destroy your girlfriends’ dreams for the title of DIY Goddess). Slap on a label from some super cute shop on Etsy if you’re an overachiever, or with a Sharpie and a prayer if you’re me. Lob them at your friends on Christmas Eve and say, “You’re welcome.”

Flavored Spirits

As I mentioned earlier, I am a booze-gifter. Mostly because it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser in the circles I frequent (read: my family). But gift-grade alcohol can be pricey and it’s completely weird to buy it in bulk and present it in unmarked containers. Unless it’s a Handmade Gift™. Enter flavored spirits. Fill well-scrubbed decorative bottles a quarter to halfway with fruits, herbs, whole spices, even tea leaves or coffee beans. (Shop thrift stores or off-price retailers for bottles and sanitize with a powdered oxygen brewer’s wash like PBW). Buy decent but inexpensive liquor in the giant bottles (you don’t care what those other shoppers think) and decant into your prepared bottles. Try flavor combos like Earl Grey and gin, vanilla bean and bourbon, or peppercorn/dill/celery seed and vodka for Bloody Marys. Sharpie the contents onto the bottle with a shaky hand, then eyeball the recipient until they cave and share with you. Happy Hanukkah!  

Homemade Granola

I know. I don’t entirely understand why, but people LOVE this stuff. That’s a lie. I do understand. It tastes way better than store-bought. You can customize it however you want. It looks great in a cellophane bag tied with jute, or burlap, or gingham, or whatever rustic expression you feel really drives home that you slaved in a kitchen to express your love for the recipient (or slay your Pinterest posse and use swing top bale jars. Mic drop.). And it’s a breeze to make. Hit up Uncle Google for specific recipes, but granola is basically a bunch of shelf-stable fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains mixed to whatever proportions you like, bound together loosely with sweeteners and oils, flavored with herbs and spices for unexpected panache, and baked to a satisfying crunch that can withstand milk or stand alone.

And there you have it: ideas for a handmade holiday. I will be presenting store-bought pie for Christmas dinner, and there will be no cranberry-and-popcorn garland on my tree, nor evergreen bough wreath on my door – because who has time between hauling the 4-year-old from the top shelf of the linen closet for the hundredth time and yelling at the dog to stop eating her own poop? But one or two lazy little projects will scratch that DIY itch. Even better, amid the chaos that can sometimes overwhelm us at the holidays, I’ll be able to flex my creative muscles a bit and my kids will witness me making things with my hands that are beautiful or delicious (or inebriating), that make others happy. And that is pretty fabulous.

marenMaren is a dedicated coffee-drinker, sewist, survivor of the 2-Boys-Under-Two Club, and master Lego builder. She loves Netflix bingeing, beer, and talking about eating bacon all the time but not actually doing it. Because heart attacks. She writes in the key of sailor whenever the spirit strikes over at artslostandfound.com

 

 

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Friday Favorites- Kid’s Back Packs

Kid Back Packs

Last week I shared with you the mini travel activity pouches we use to keep the kids entertained while out and about. Well, I don’t carry them along in my own bag. In fact, I haven’t carried a diaper bag, or back pack, since my kids were able to walk on their own. Nope. I gave them their own little back packs to carry their own things in. 

My mom gifted my girls with adorable little fuzzy animal back packs. There wasn’t much room, just enough for 2 diapers and a travel pack of wipes and a small snack. I kept a well-stocked diaper bag in my car for back up. My kids carried their own things where ever we were going; play dates, or church, or a restaurant, they carried their own supplies. Once they outgrew the little animal packs we picked up two toddler sized back packs. 

Kids Back Packs What to Carry

Having twins makes it hard to carry a bag (any bag) and carry two kids at the same time. I used a back pack to carry everything in, in the early years but always overloaded the pack and it was such a pain to wear. My kids seemed to enjoy carrying their packs so this worked for us!

Now that we are passed the potty training stage I keep the loaded back packs in the car as back up. I keep a full outfit for each kid (including extra undies- because accidents happen), a package of travel wipes for sticky situations, and their mini activity pouch. They no longer need to carry their packs all the time, but having them close by when we need them is great! 

Kid Back Packs What to Carry

Just thought I’d share this quick tip with you! Maybe your kids are growing up quick, or maybe your tired of carrying all of the stuff. The way I see it, my kids are capable little pack mules that can take care of their own things! Mama has enough to do already! If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, or just to the grocery store giving your kids their own packs to carry helps!

What would you pack for your kids to carry?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Holiday Shopping with Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All honest opinions and experiences are 100% my own. 

the-season-for-saving

A couple of weeks ago I shared my love for saving money by shopping for Groupon Goods. I don’t shop or travel without checking with Groupon first! Now I am ready to try out Groupon Coupons to save even more!

If you are like me, maybe you just started your holiday shopping. I’ll just share my gift giving plan this year. I am planning on buying gifts from local crafty moms because I’ve got zero talent, or time. Also, I am only buying maintenance free gifts because I am tired of picking things up off the floor. How many parents can relate to that?!

I signed an oath upon entering motherhood that makes me obligated to put socks and underwear under the tree. There’s no getting around it! Every mom MUST buy these staple gifts at Christmas! So, I checked out what Groupon Coupons has to offer and of course they have some codes from Hanes! I clicked on the Black Friday deals first to find the most savings. Am I the only mom that gets excited to see mix and match sweats starting at $5.00?

Groupon Coupons

Last year we gave our kids a ridiculous amount of art supplies. We have an entire art cart that is cleaned out by yours truly. So I’m thinking a once a month subscription box from Kiwi Crate will be more manageable! All the art supplies I need for one project!? No storage needed? Easy! Plus, living in the North East we get some crazy cold weather, so having a fun indoor project on hand is a must! Otherwise I have to listen to arguing, or worse…. the theme song to Peg & Cat on continuous loop! Agh!! Thankfully there are 15 coupons for Kiwi Crate alone!

Groupon Coupons

All coupons are verified and you can use them online, or in-store where specified.

Thank you Groupon Coupons for helping me check off two easy (low maintenance) holiday gifts for my kids. You helped me save money and saved me from shopping in stores during the holiday rush! That’s what I like to call more time for wine!!

Have you used Groupon Coupons yet?

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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#GrouponCoupons #Ad #Spon

 

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Friday Favorites- Kids Mini Travel Activity Pouch

kids-travel-pouch

I love sharing my favorite products that make my life easier, but with the holiday season upon us I think I’m going to throw in a few of my favorite activities too! This mini travel pouch is one of our favorite things to use to keep ourselves entertained while out to restaurants, in doctors offices, on the train, or any place where waiting is hard. It fits easily into my kids’ back packs, or in the glove box of my car. We carry it everywhere!

We try not to use video games to pass the time unless we have to (because there are times you have to). This is a supeer easy “unplugged” way to engage your kids during down time! We made these to take with us last year when we took our first train ride to NYC. I am so glad we had them for the 45 minute delay!

We fill our mini travel pouches with fun things like little action figures, mini markers and notebooks, stickers, and sometimes I even hide a little treat inside like a chocolate coin or a lollipop in a favorite flavor. Since it is a small travel pouch everything inside is perfectly kid sized.

mini-travel-pouch1

Simply find a pouch small enough to fit in your bag, or car glove box. Someone gifted my girls with these cute zipper pouches, but you can use a makeup pouch from the dollar store.

Fill it with things your kid likes to occupy themselves with. Coloring, stickers and creative play are our go to items. This is perfect for holiday travel. Take it with you on the plane, or pull out during a layover. Hand it out at the first rest stop on car rides, or like we did, use it on the train. Have one on hand to keep little ones occupied during Thanksgiving dinner. This is such a portable source of entertainment for kids you could plan to use it anywhere!

Include items your kid has never played with before to keep them occupied longer! I can’t tell you how much play time we had just with this mini pipsqueak wizard marker! He draws, he sings, he dances and he casts spells!! Best purchase ever!

mini-marker

What activities would you include in this little pouch?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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