Category: Family Fun

Review: Disney Live Presents Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic

I received complimentary tickets to attend this event. All opinions and enthusiasm for magic are my own.

Last night my little family and I enjoyed a rare night out to see Disney Live presents Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic at the Times Union Center in Albany. This spectacular traveling show is filled with fast paced magic, confetti cannons and special effects. My kids described the show as, “awesome!” and “so cool mom!” Normally, we are not out on a school night, but with a total run time of one hour and fifteen minutes we still had time to grab a bite to eat before heading home.

From the very beginning audience participation is encouraged through character interaction. The kids get to recite the magic words that helps create the magic on stage, and at one point the audience gets to toss around giant blow up space meteors.  One audience member even lent their shoes to create Cinderella’s glass slippers. The special effects and the quick changes between scenes kept the show moving right along and blended one cast of characters seamlessly into the next. The upbeat tempo of this engaging show kept our toes tapping and my kids on the end of their seats. The real time magic tricks sprinkled through the show kept the wonder alive for all ages attending. It was heartwarming to listen to my kids oooh and aaah at each trick.

As a long time Disney fan I was excited to see some fresh interpretations of the Disney movies I loved growing up. Aladdin has to be one of my all-time favorites and the re-mix of some of their songs set to choreography was exciting to see and allowed me to reminisce. I’ve watched that movie enough times to recall every scene recreated in the show. The Buzz Lightyear laser show had my kids completely mesmerized and they were talking about it the rest of the night. I love that the voices are the exact voices used in the movies. My kids felt like they were watching real life versions of their favorite movie characters.

Watching your favorite Disney characters come to life on the big stage is truly magical, but nothing beats the magic of watching your children’s faces light up with wonder. This show is amazing from start to finish, and it’s a great night out for families. I highly recommend taking the kids if you get the chance!

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 – I See Me Personalized Children’s Books

Happy Friday Everyone! This post is brought to you by I See Me personalized children’s books! Many of you know by now how much my kids love to read, but guess how much they love to read a book starring themselves? I couldn’t wait to review this awesome find! All of the opinions and enthusiasm for this fun book are completely my own. #ad

Personalized books are an amazing gift idea for any time of year, but with the holidays coming up quickly you are going to want to take a look at this company. I See Me offers a wide variety of personalized gifts, but we are in love with our new Cricket’s U.S.A Road Trip book. (Cricket is the personalized name we chose for this review).

This particular book is an educational tour across all 50 United States of America with my child in the driver’s seat. She gets a personalized driver’s license at the beginning of the story and travels from state to state in a magical car learning fun facts before she lands in her home state with a big welcome home. As she travels the country she can use the scratch off map to mark which states we’ve already visited. This is a great way for her to learn the names of states, help identify key monuments and understand the geography of our country.

This book measures 9”x11” and is approximately 32 pages long. It is great for girls and boys ages 3-8. You can find other personalized gift ideas here.

The quality of this book is wonderful. It looks exactly like the books you purchase from a big retail store. You know the ones that are churned out hundreds at a time by big publishers. Our personalized book is a one and only copy!

You can personalize this book by uploading a photo to create the little character in the book. Since we do not post our kid pics on the Internet, I opted to provide details about my kid’s hair color and complexion for illustrators to create a kid that looks very much like mine. The first page of the book is a personalized dedication which includes a message from me. The personalization menu options used on the company’s website are very user friendly and includes prompts you can chose from to get you started.

My kid was super excited to get this box in the mail. But when she opened it up to see her name and likeness on the cover she was beyond thrilled. She couldn’t even wait for me before she tore right into opening the package!

We had such a blast interacting with this book. My daughter loved scratching off the states we have already been to, and she loved the big celebration at the end when she reached her home state. This was such a hit I can’t wait to get a personalized book for each of my kids for Christmas!

Which storybook would you have personalized for your kiddo?

#affiliates


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 – Big-Hearted Charlie Runs The Mile

It’s no secret how much my family and I love to read together. We read together every night before bed, sometimes in the morning before school and sometimes in between. I especially love stories that share a strong message of inclusion and kindness, or show a strong character with determination to meet their goals. When we were asked to review the book Big-Hearted Charlie Runs the Mile by Krista Keating-Joseph we were thrilled! #ad

My kids love getting in on the book reviews for my blog. They often give me notes on what they liked best. They both thought this book was “really good” and “two thumbs up!” They especially loved watching Charlie go from being the underdog to a winner by using his own determination.

The main character, Charlie, was the smallest runner on his team, but he never gave up. He worked hard every day to push himself to be better.  It pays off in the end when he finally grows into his big heart and wins his first race. Charlie later uses his strength and determination to become a Navy SEAL and an American Hero.

I admit I became a little emotional reading this book. Not just because this was a great read and the story behind the making of the book is touching, but my father in law was named Charlie. He was  smaller in stature, but he was a strong hard worker and followed his heart. He was a Vietnam Veteran and will always be our American hero. Maybe there is just something about the name Charlie that generates a big heart.

Krista Keating-Joseph wrote this book about her son without intending to publish it. His grandmother even illustrated it and it was tucked away for over a decade. Then Charlie died while serving in Iraq. Krista, a Gold Heart mom, knew she needed to muster up the courage to publish the book and honor her son by channeling one of the most admirable qualities of her beloved son – his perseverance.

While Charlie’s SEAL career is mentioned, his passing is not, leaving children and families with an uplifting, positive story about hard work, dedication and perseverance from someone who lived his life that way every day.  I think saving the kids the details of Charlie’s passing makes it more relateable to kids and age appropriate. Knowing those details as a mom did have my heart in knots reading this story through the lens of another mother’s memories.

Final verdict is this is a great story the whole family will enjoy. The kids can relate to Charlie’s hard work and determination to make the team and reach his goals. We are so grateful for this story!

 

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and K9 for Warriors in Charlie’s Honor.

 


 

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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Building Confident Kids One Project at a Time

I can’t believe we are half way through August and winding down our summer already. Before I know it I’ll be sending the kids off on the bus again. This summer didn’t go exactly as planned, but I am glad that we are able to slow down a bit and enjoy so many new things. I wish we could take a splashy vacation or spend more time traveling, but we are more focused on projects around the home. This is what works for us this year. And even though summer is flying by, I feel like this is the most connected we have been during a summer break.

This year we included our kids in finishing our home projects. Now to be fair, we didn’t crack the whip. We let them work beside us for as long as they could focus, which isn’t super long at age 6. But they helped us for a significant amount of time and there was a good mix of play time in between all their hard work. They helped us install a pool, trim the hedges in our yard and repaint furniture. I know it may sound crazy to hand your 6 year old hedge clippers and say have at it, but that’s kind of what we did. We didn’t just give them free range we gave them a lesson first, and then hung out with them while they trimmed. Instantly, I could see their confidence soar. Knowing that we trusted them to do “grown up work” gave them a tremendous confidence boost. And by treating them like they are capable of doing things that require skill and patience, helps them see those qualities in themselves.

You are probably thinking including the kids in home projects sounds strange, or even dangerous, but it feels perfectly natural to me. I was around age 6 when I was enlisted to help paint and wallpaper in our home. By the time I was 10 I was learning to refinish furniture and how to do simple landscaping. That is what my family did for fun, we renovated together. By the time I was 19, I was so super confident in my abilities that I surprised my mother by repainting her dining room. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she came home from work and stepped into her new putrid rosy pink dining room. She tried really hard to shelter me from her horror and to look thankful, but looking back I think a small piece of her soul cracked that day. It was a horrible color, but she didn’t want to squelch my good deed. I was clearly very proud of my work. But my point is my mother gave me the space to learn new things and to practice them, even at the expense of losing the sanctity of her own space. Learning to complete these kinds of projects made me feel confident and capable. (And I think I learned a lot about color selection that day).

Working on homeowner and DIY projects with my kids helped me realize I am a good teacher, and that I can be patient. I can offer guidance without being demanding. As a mom I typically bark commands and set the rules. But home projects by nature require patience. By slowing down and taking the time to guide vs. demand really created a joyful experience. I hope when my kids look back they remember how patient I can be, and how hard I work to teach them so many different things.

My number one goal as a parent is to raise kids who become confident, self-sufficient and capable adults. So I am delighted they accepted these new challenges. Whether or not they continue to enjoy doing DIY projects when they grow up is entirely up to them. But for now, there is much deeper learning happening than learning the skill itself. Now they will get to reap the rewards of their hard work by swimming in the pool they helped build and sitting in the dining room chairs they helped paint. I hope they remember they can do anything they set their minds to; except when it comes to repainting my dining room in an unauthorized color


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 – 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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Defining Moments In Parenting Not Found on Social Media

Easter will be here in two more days. That’s when the slurry of pictures crop up on social media and the judging starts. Not that we are judging others because we are Whatever Moms, and Whatever Moms don’t judge other parents right? But how often are we judging ourselves? We wonder if our efforts stack up to be enough compared to everyone else’s. We start to compare how we show our love and measure it against how other parent’s show theirs. Maybe you’ll see pictures from a mom who handmade her kids baskets, or a mom who made all her kids candy from scratch, or maybe from a dad who assembled a bike for his kids. Now you are looking at your offerings with scrutiny and worry it’s not enough.

I’ve been there. Actually I’m there right now. I haven’t even started shopping for my kids baskets yet. I have a working idea of what I want to put in them. There simply wasn’t enough hours in the day this week to sneak away to buy everything. We were busy enjoying our break and having fun. We spent our days outside in the sun and taking each of our kids on special date days. Now I’m feeling the time crunch and I see all these pictures of great baskets popping up in my news feed. I’ve even posted a blog for “non-candy” ideas and yet, I have not picked up anything for my kids’ baskets. Does this mean I love my kids less? Nope.

The defining moments of being a parent do not come neatly packed with pretty bows and delivered on time. The material things we supply our kids with do not reflect how much we care. Being a loving parent happens when your kid dumps an entire glass of milk across the table and you don’t scream at them. You calmly help them sop it up with a towel and explain it’s OK accidents happen. Even if it is the third time in the same meal. There’s nothing pretty, or neat about that. Love for our kids shows up in the every day moments when we bandage up the scraped knees, or teach our kids hitting isn’t nice. None of those things are unwrapped once a year with eager anticipation. When our kids grow up they will look back at how much fun they had during the holiday, but that holiday fun won’t be what defines how much we love them. Our value as a parent can’t be counted out in exquisitely colored Easter eggs and giant baskets of gifts.

So, as we head into the Easter weekend know that everything you have to give is enough. All the time you spent pouring over the details of kid baskets and the meal you’ll prepare is enough. Being present with your children is enough. Set aside the worry and self doubt and just know you are enough.

Happy Easter All, and if you do not celebrate Easter Happy Weekend All!

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 – Valentine’s Day Traditions

Valentine’s Day is only days away and I realized I haven’t posted anything about the holiday yet! To be honest, I have never really been a big fan of Valentines’ Day.  Don’t get me wrong I love eating all the pretty chocolates and I do enjoy getting some flowers from time to time. But to celebrate a day to love my friends and family seems silly when I love them every day! OK most days, but still more than one day of the year.

I’ll never forget the first Valentine’s Day my husband and I celebrated he did all the cliché things to try to win my heart. He cooked a fabulous dinner, bought me roses, and gave me a piece of jewelry and a box of chocolates. I gave him …. a pair of boxers with hearts on it. And a card. In my defense, we had dated only two months by this point and I thought it would be premature to go all out for one day. After that he got the message I am a practical girl and I like to share my love every day in the little things I do for my loved ones.

So we don’t really have any Valentine’s Day traditions. We do something new every year like visit a museum or an aquarium. I make their favorite dinner and bake them a cake because having dessert on a Tuesday screams special in our house. But the one tradition that I do keep every year is one that my mother started with me, I write my girls a love letter. They are too young to read them now, so I tuck them away in a special box for safe keeping. When they are old enough to read on their own I will share with them. These are the gifts that keep giving, these little treasures that we put away and only revisit when we need them.

This year we plan to relive our very first family Valentine’s Day by going out to dinner at the same restaurant and stopping for chocolate at the same little shop we did nearly six years ago. We don’t need big gifts to say I love you, and I have certainly outgrown the need for jewelry. I am happiest when we are all healthy and spending our time together laughing.

Click on the links below to see some other fun ways we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day together at home.

I HEART SCIENCE I shared this fun science experiment last year with my local readers at Hudson Valley Parent.

TRUE MARK OF FRIENDSHIP We made these cute paper craft book marks for our classmates that I found on krokotak.com

 

GALENTINE’S DAY – That time I took an aerial yoga class with my mom friends.

THE POWER OF CHEESE The year I threw together stuff for my kids preschool class.

 

What is your favorite part of Valentine’s Day? Feel free to leave a comment below, or join the discussion on Facebook!

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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There’s No Crying in Christmas

It is no secret I struggle with perfection all the time.  Perfection sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Like when my family wants to decorate the Christmas tree. Anyone else out there ever have a melt down over a Christmas tree? It seems we all have our own idea on what the tree should look like, but we all want the same thing- to enjoy sitting in front of the twinkling lights. This year I am giving myself a pat on the back and celebrating the first time in a long time I did NOT absolutely lose it over a tree.

CHRISTMAS PAST

I typically drag the giant fake tree up the stairs from the basement by myself, set it up in the corner and spend an hour defending it from my kids while I hastily spiral the lights around the tree. I tend to skip the garland because I am so annoyed and go right into freaking out about the cluster of 20 ornaments my kids place on the same branch. Then I have to wait for hubby to come home and put the star on top because, even with a ladder, I am too short. Then we take turns arguing fussing over the placement of ornaments.

It isn’t hard to understand why hubby and I end up battling over the way the tree goes up. As a perfectionist I have a vision and I want to recreate it in exact detail and with precision. My husband, being methodical and highly logical will have a completely separate (convoluted) idea of how the tree should look.

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

This year I witnessed a small miracle when hubby put the tree up without being asked ten times. The kids kept a reasonable distance from the tree so there was no one to step on (or cry about being stepped on). And I didn’t offer “suggestions” about fluffing the artificial branches to look real, nor did I follow behind him reworking every strand of lights he put up. [Insert choir of angels] Everything felt pretty sensational until my husband mentioned stringing the beaded garlands on the tree. I froze. “That’s OK we don’t need them this year,” I offered nervously.

You have to understand that I brought these beaded garlands into our marriage from my childhood home. My family and I hung them a specific way, the same way, year after year. Now he is about to ruin my tradition of perfectly balanced symmetry by hanging them haphazardly in non-conforming variations.

“I know let’s alternate the silver AND the gold strands!” he replied with enthusiasm. I felt my right eye twitching as I visualized both silver AND gold decorations on the tree. This goes completely against tradition and good taste.

I might have had a small aneurysm.

He must have sensed my spiraling panic when he suggested, “why don’t you sit down and relax”  and handed me a rum and eggnog. That helped.

I sat down and watched (painfully) as he and the children worked to get the decorations on the tree. It took a lot of work inside my soul to not straighten out every crooked line of garland, or to recalibrate every mismeasured strand. I had to dig really deep to keep my cool when he got to the very top of the tree and had 4 ft. of left over garland. Note: This is why you start at the top of the tree so you can ditch the extra strands on a bottom branch in the back of the tree! But I didn’t say that. I put my head between my knees and took more deep breaths because I couldn’t watch him wrap the excess around the tippy top of the tree at the base of our star. When he was through I sat upright to catch my barrings and I waited for the branches to give way under the weight. Thankfully, I was wrong. It even looked OK.

It was time to hang the ornaments. Per our history together, this is where the magic dies. I hate all the ugly handmade ornaments my husband has had since Kindergarten that he insists on hanging up every year. He is a grown man hanging mangled glitter on my tree. As much as I try to hide them every year he finds them. Now I have actual Kindergartners hanging their mangled glitter on my tree and they can tell if one is missing! So there is no hiding of ornaments, or throwing them away. I am completely out numbered. But I tell myself to let it go. (I’d say this rum is really working).

This year, I turned a blind eye to the mishmosh and let the ornaments fall where they may. Yoga breaths helped ease the escalating hysteria in my mind as the children began hanging several decorations on the same branch. [Inhale] “In with the joy!” [Exhale] “Out with the control!” Just as I was patting myself on the back for not taking over the decorating, my daughter said, “this feels like good times.”

CHRISTMAS FUTURE

As we took a step back to admire the tree I realized that by letting go of my idea of perfect decorations, our tree turned out pretty perfect after all. There was no yelling, no crying and no trauma for my children to share with future therapists.  The tree has an eclectic vibe, but everyone has their favorite ornament on the tree where they can see it. I actually love our tree this year because watching my family experience this tradition with joy makes me happy. Who knew all it takes is me giving up my need to control things (and a little rum) to make lasting family memories.

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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Friday Favorites- Mail Order Mystery

Mail Order Mystery

My kids have always enjoyed a good book, and now I am so excited they love a good mystery! Getting to piece together clues and connecting characters and plot twists is something they really enjoy. So when I heard about Mail Order Mystery I needed to know more! I contacted them directly for a chance to review and try out a subscription and they very generously said yes.

You can select a theme for your mystery experience and we selected The Enchanted Slumber. For six weeks we were excited to run out to our mail box to see if a new package arrived. Inside were letters, documents, mysterious objects and clues. My kids became so engaged with the story before the final story was ever revealed!

The very first letter included an official document notarizing the authenticity of the sender, a Knight. Our knight in shining armor encouraged us to practice our knightly skills, which my kids took very seriously every night before bed. They also loved the wax seal on the letter. This small detail blew their minds and really drew them to find out more about how wax seals are made. This took us on a new fact finding mission and sparked a new discussion about knights, castles and medieval life.

Mail Order Mystery Letter

As the weeks progressed we received puzzle pieces engraved with “ancient” symbols we had to decode. My kids could not wait to gather around the kitchen table after dinner so we could help them solve the riddle! We wondered how these clues would all add up in the end!

Mail Order Mystery Sample

I won’t share much more about what we received because I don’t want to spoil the fun. But I will share that my kids were so pleased by the entire experience! They truly enjoyed the final installment where everything was revealed and all the clues were laid out in the story.

Here is how it works:

Visit Mail Order Mystery website, sign up for your mystery and pick your start date. There is also a treasure hunt I can’t wait to sign us up for! You can preview what items will arrive each week, but that might take away the fun of the mystery.

An email will arrive sharing with you when the first package is shipping, and again when the last package is shipping. This way you know when to expect the mystery to begin and end.

Enjoy checking your mail!

That’s it! Brilliant right?

The mysteries are geared for kids ages 8 and up, or for kids ages 6-7 with help. My girls are just shy of turning six, but really enjoyed making this a family activity. None of the stories are scary, or limited to a specific gender audience. That means boys and girls alike will enjoy these stories.

I think this is an amazing gift idea for your niece or nephew, grand kids or the kid who already has everything to play with. A fantastical experience of the imagination that lives on well after the last sentence is complete! This was such a great experience for my family!! We truly LOVED it!

Financial compensation was not received for this post. All honest opinions shared, and spell binding adventures taken, belong solely to The Whatever Mom. This post does not contain affiliate links. 

 

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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