Family

Random Acts of Kindness Cookie Decorating Party

December 9, 2018

This post is sponsored by Soapbox Influence in partnership with Vanilla MasterCard Gift Cards.  As always, all opinions are my own. I carefully select which sponsored posts to take on with YOU, my awesome readers in mind! I hope this party helps inspire you this holiday season. #VanillaGiftWinnerWonderland #VanillaGift

We frequently purchase gift cards at our local Walmart, including these Vanilla MasterCard Charming Characters Multi-Pack $20 gift cards that I used in the cards (pictured below) for our random acts of kindness. For every Vanilla MasterCard Gift Card purchase until 12/23/18 participants will be entered to win one of over 100 different prizes, including a grand prize of a $10,000 Macy’s shopping spree! To enter, after purchasing your gift card, go to https://www.winner-wonderland.com/ to enter.

Christmastime, and the month of December, really, is a time when adults have plenty of Christmas parties and events to attend, but a little person Christmas party? Well, we decided to tackle that this weekend with a few of our favorite little people and their mommas for a Preschooler Random Acts of Kindness Cookie Decorating Party! If you’re thinking that toddlers and preschoolers decorating Christmas cookies with sprinkles and frosting sounds like a hot mess, then you’re right! It was a bit crazy (as pictured above) but we also had a great time on a cold and snowy Saturday decorating cookies, drinking coffee (the moms) and listening to Christmas music while the kids played.

Here’s a bit more about the party structure and details that make it happen:

-I provided all the supplies so friends could just show up and enjoy themselves! All the supplies were purchased at Walmart, where we do nearly all our grocery shopping these days, and for ease and convenience I used pre-made dough since the focus was really on the cookie decorating! I made around 100+ cut-out cookies and got a variety of toppings, including sprinkles, candies, gum-drops, candy canes, etc. I DID make the frosting from scratch because it’s worth every bit of extra effort. 😉

-Lately Joe and I have been really conscious that we want Ainsley and Collins to grow up thinking about others rather than becoming super self-focused, so when I was approached about partnering with Vanilla MasterCard Gift Cards to find a creative use for gift cards this holiday season, I immediately thought about how they could be used to make someone’s Christmas a bit brighter! Each family who came to the party left with a plate of decorated cookies and a card with a $20 gift card in it to deliver to someone as a random act of Christmas kindness!

-We knew it would be a mess letting littles decorate cookies, so we decided to put down plastic painter’s tarp under the table. It was a great idea because all we had to do was wrap up the tarp after the party and wipe down our table and clean-up was a breeze!

-Let’s be honest: The mom’s ended up decorating a lot of the cookies after the first 15 minutes, when the kids lost interest and started playing with toys, but any excuse to get together and celebrate the season is a win in my book!

-If you want your cookies to look good and cohesive, stick with a color palette. Even cookies decorated by little people can look good when you stick with a color scheme (we did red, green and white) that makes everything look cohesive. Another idea would be blue and white. Or white with gold and silver sprinkles. Or white and red. Plus, it’s easier to plan around, too!

We had such a great time and it was a tradition I would love to continue every year! Plus, knowing that the cookies and gift cards when to brighten someone’s day make it even more special. With so much focus on ourselves and our own loved ones this holiday season, it’s nice to shift the focus to those around us more often.

Madison

Family

Preschooler Christmas Gift Guide

December 2, 2018

Hi friends! Checking in today with the first of a few holiday gift guides. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorites for the preschooler-aged kiddos in your life. All of these items we have used/purchased/loved and/or have firsthand experience with using so I can vouch that if your kiddos are anything like ours, they will love these gifts! That said, this is geared more toward Ainsley’s age rather than Collins’s age, though Collins certainly plays with most of these toys, too!

Here are some of our new favorites!

Rocktupus //
We were gifted this as part of a campaign I worked on with the brand, and I’m so happy to say that the girls really have loved playing with this toy from Fisher Price. It allows you to mix and match the little plugs to create different instrument sounds and both Ainsley and Collins have enjoyed it.

Plus Plus Basic Assortment Building Pieces //
My dad gifted these building pieces to Ainsley when we celebrated early family Christmas this year and she has been having so much fun building and creating with these little interlocking pieces. The come in a bunch of colors and are so fun to use!

Dexterity Dough //
Ainsley got this from my mom as a safer, more user-friendly Play Doh and it’s awesome! It’s made without any artificial fragrance and or petroleum and smells like oranges!

Kwik Stix Paint Sticks //
A less-messy alternative to painting, these have been a favorite in our house for a while. They almost feel like writing on paper with lipstick, and they dry quickly so you don’t have to worry about the typical mess associated with traditional paint.

Shopkins Happy Places Rainbow Beach Convertible //
Ainsley gifted this to her cousin, Lottie, for her birthday and then got one herself for Christmas from her aunt (we celebrated early with my side of the family) and it’s been a hit in our house! The Shopkins craze is something I’ll never understand, but preschoolers love them!

Plae Shoes //
We have bought Ainsley a pair of Plae shoes for the last 4 or 5 seasons and she loves wearing them. We got her this very pair for her next size up. They are so comfortable, wear well and are cute enough to go with most outfits – casual and dressy.

Magna Carry Playbook //
So great for keeping little hands busy in church, in the car, etc.!

Little Tikes Jump & Slide Bounce House //
We finally did it! We bought a bounce house for the girls to keep in the basement. I promised myself last winter that I wouldn’t go another winter without a bounce house for the basement. So excited to see their excitement about this!

Little Tikes Indoor Trampoline //
Another solid choice for getting wiggles out in the winter months!

Paw Patrol Slippers //
Ainsley has these, she loves these and she wears them all the time!

Fashion

Favorite Finds Lately

November 16, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been another crazy week around these parts. Maybe I should stop saying that and just accept that it’s always a crazy week in this stage of life? But regardless, I’m thankful to have arrived at Friday in one piece and with some fun weekend plans on the books to boot.

Lately I’ve been doing a bit of a closet refresh, trying to hone in on my personal style and keep myself from falling into a slump. I even had a wardrobe stylist come over and do a little closet inventory for me – which I’ll blog about soon – so expect a few more posts on the fashion front to come.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a few awesome finds that I’ve been wearing and LOVING lately. Some a little pricier, some on the more affordable end, which tends to reflect my general style. Sometimes it’s worth the investment for a really classic piece, sometimes a cheaper version will totally do!

Distressed Jean Jacket for Women // Cute, affordable and a great fit

Long Sherpa Faux-Lined Coat // I’m wearing this everywhere these days

Everlane Cashmere Turtleneck Dress // I’ve been wearing this with my Spanx Faux Leather Leggings and booties

Chunky Cable-Knit Mock Neck // So cute for Christmas

Everlane The Cashmere Crew // I’ve owned mine in black for YEARS

Blondo Liam Ankle Booties // Waterproof, great for winter weather and snow/slush

 

Family

Parenting the Strong-Willed

November 14, 2018

The other day, I shared a post on Instagram about these two little strong-willed firecracker children of mine. I rarely talk about the difficult parts of parenting littles in specifics online, because I want to protect my children and their dignity online even from a young age. I don’t think showcasing their meltdowns, tantrums and fits for the world to see is fair to them. That said, I do, on occasion, like to pull back the curtain on how I struggle parenting little people and what it reflects to me about my own heart and mind. And let me tell you, while my girls can be extremely sweet, bright and lovely, they are also equally blessed with strong wills and big emotions. I think they have both their mom and dad to thank for that. 😉

These two little people? They are the best little humans around. I love that they are spunky, fearless and bold and these qualities are things I have no doubt will serve them well as they grow older if we can successfully harness and direct them in the right way. But in the trenches of parenting tiny people, it can be a challenge to not get caught in the comparison game.

Why are my kids not content to sit through an entire church service playing quietly and reading books? Why does sitting through a meal in a nice restaurant feel like torture most days? Am I doing something wrong? Do parents of quiet, mellow children know something I don’t? Sometimes it can be emotionally draining and overwhelming as a parent, can’t it?

But you know the funny thing? In my heart of hearts it doesn’t really bother ME at all that my girls are this way. They are kids. Vibrant, funny, normal, energetic little people and I love their zest for life and budding desire to assert their independence and wills. Their extroverted little personalities that would rather be walking around the room talking to strangers and putting on a show rather than sitting quietly at the table coloring a picture.

At my best, I’m the confident, assured mom who delights in the challenges and joys of parenting these two girls. Who prays for patience during meltdowns and calmly handles the bumps in the road. At my worst, I get caught up in the trap of the expectations of others, the sideways glances when a meltdown happens in public or my kids are just NOT having it at a restaurant.

I’m not saying it’s unimportant to develop skills like obedience, listening, and quiet play, but that there certainly is a large margin of error for letting kids be kids and allowing their unique personalities to shine. Realizing there are areas of improvement to be had at every turn in this job called parenting, but beating ourselves up about it is not necessary nor helpful in the long-game that is parenting.

So to my fellow mommas of little kids with big personalities and strong wills, I see you! I don’t just see you, I’m right there with you, chasing my kid around the room as she runs away from me, pulling a crazy, climbing baby off a table, walking out of the room with a mad preschooler, having serious-whisper conversations with a preschooler out in public.

It’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it, and I have a feeling we’re doing just fine. And on the days when we are completely worn down? Well, His mercies are new to us parents of strong willed little people each and every day. Can I get an amen?!

Madison

Fashion

Must-Have Bargain Coat

November 9, 2018

Last weekend while we were in Kansas City visiting family. I popped into Old Navy. Is it just me or has Old Navy been absolutely killing it lately? I’m the first to admit that not everything from Old Navy is a runaway hit in terms of quality, but sometimes you find a total gem at a steal of a price and this coat is one such instance.

I actually snagged it at 50% off the already reasonable price it was listed at as part of last week’s card-holder event, but even at full retail price I think it’s a great value and a beautiful coat for slightly dressier occasions in the winter when you don’t really want to put on your puffer coat or something more casual. I’ve been looking for a coat like this for a year, but couldn’t quite pull the trigger on more expensive options from retailers like J. Crew

FIND THE COAT HERE // Madewell High Rise Skinny Jeans // J. Crew Chambray //