Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Holiday Home Tour 2018

I really can't believe the Holiday season is here. This year will be both special and chaotic for our family as we welcome a new baby into our family. Because of his arrival, I broke one of my own rules and decorated a little early this year. I had most of the decorations out in the days before Thanksgiving and got the Christmas trees up on Thanksgiving morning since we did not host this year and actually had a very laid back day.

I changed very little from last year aside from adding a few things upstairs and to the front of the house. Our home is a traditional brick colonial so I decorate it pretty traditionally. That is my style anyway with Christmas decor. I hang wreathes on the windows and then this year I added lighted trees to the front steps (thanks Mom for gifting me these for my birthday!) and replaced my candles in the windows with a fresh set. I finally upgraded to ones on a timer and it has made allll the difference.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide for the Littles

I really can't believe that Christmas is almost here. This is my favorite time of year but the one thing I hate is scrambling around for last minute gifts. So, today I have compiled a list of ideas for what to buy for the little ones in your life. I broke it into two parts - baby and then toddler. Obviously my personal experience with this is a little skewed towards items that girls love but I think you will find something here even if you are scratching your head for a last minute gift for a toddler boy in your life. 

Laugh and Learn Car. This was such a great item that Madeline has loved for a long time. We first got it for her when she was eight or nine months old and she used it primarily for the sensory aspect - exposure to music, texture, and sound. Now that she is older she still plays with this and uses it for pretend play and pretends to drive her stuffed animals and dolls around. 

Leapfrog Violet (or Scout). Madeline received her Violet for her first birthday and still loves her to this day. This sweet little stuffed animals references your child by name and sings to them, plays games, and will even play lullabies at bedtime. 

Little People Farm. Madeline has an older version of this but still plays with it. Little People are such a great toy. Smaller babies will just enjoy touching and manipulating them and looking at the faces. Then, as they get older they use them to learn animal names and sounds and finally for pretend play. This is another great toy that grows with the child. 

Drum and Instrument Set. This set is great. We have an older version of this and it has been so very loved. It it a toy drum that comes with lots of other instruments inside. Babies love music and making sound so it was a toy that Madeline loved from a young age and is still loving now at almost three even though she has more experience with music at this point. 

Llama Llama Yum Yum Yum. This is a great book for little ones. It is a scratch n' sniff book so they will love smelling the pages. Llama Llama is likely a character they are already family with from other books or from the show on Netflix, making it even more fun. Madeline loves scratching and sniffing the pages herself now. 

Tickle Monster Book Set. This book has been one of our favorites for such a long time and has caused so much happy laughter at bedtime when we read it. You have to get the whole set so that you get the fun little tickle gloves - don't skimp on this one! 

Beautycounter Kids Gift Set. I am a big believer in including things that kids need as part of their gifts, too. I love the Beautycounter Kids Gift Set because it comes with a safe body wash and shampoo and then a cute hooded towel, which makes a great presentation. 

What about the preschooler? I included some ideas for those little ones, too. Madeline is right in the middle of the 2-4 age group right now so that is what this list is targeted towards. 

Vintage Play Kitchen. Madeline has this play kitchen. We were really lucky to snag it on our local mom group but it would be well worth its regular price as this is our most played with toy. We have lots of accessories (Target dollar spot, Melissa and Doug from Homegoods/Marshalls/TJ Maxx are great places to look) and Madeline cooks and plays in her kitchen every day. Its hard to put together, though, so don't wait until Christmas Eve.

Do-A-Dot Markers. These are really closer to paint than they are a marker but because they come out in dots they are less messy. We love doing art with these and they keep little ones busy for a long time. 

Duplo Park Set. Duplo's are a great introduction to legos and a toy that are great for children using their own imagination and practicing those creativity and engineering skills. There are lots of different sets so it can be a gift parents add-on to once their kids get started. 

Art Easel. We purchased this easel for Madeline last year for her birthday and it is used almost daily. I love that is is big enough for large toddlers to use without taking up tons of space. It has a whiteboard side, a chalkboard side, and holds a roll of paper (which I buy from Amazon). I also love that is has storage baskets at the bottom to hold art supplies. It doesn't fold easily, though, but we keep ours up all the time because it is used constantly. 

Fire Kids Tablet. Now this is not a gift to get someone else's child because technology with kids is a very personal decision. But, this is the tablet that we bought for Madeline. I always thought I would not let her have her own device but we caved and purchased this for our car ride to the beach this year and I do really love it. We very much limit her use of it but it is great for car rides, when she has to tag along to doctor's appointments, or for a few minutes when I need to get something done. I love that I can completely control the content and that it doesn't need internet access to function. 

Magnatiles. These are so great for preschoolers who are learning to build. They are great for sparking creativity, math and engineering basics, and for fine motor skills. The colors make them fun and most kids love them and will play with them forever. 

Dragons Love Tacos. This is such a cute book and one that we have on Madeline's list this year. It is funny and just perfect for toddler/preschool humor and interest. 

We are always looking for new ideas, especially with Madeline's birthday right around the corner. So, mamas, what is on your own little one's Christmas list this holiday season?

Friday, December 7, 2018


Connor Robert is here! He arrived on Wednesday morning, December 5, at 7:37 am. He is a whole pound bigger than his big sister was, weighing in at 6 lbs, 15 ounces and 20 inches long. We are still in the hospital but both are doing well and looking forward to being home with Big Sister and our complete little family soon! 

We are just smitten with him and so glad he is here. Madeline is especially proud of him and got to meet “her baby” yesterday and gave him lots of hugs, kisses, and pets. 

Thank you all for following along throughout my pregnancy and all the love, prayers, and well-wishes as we prepared for his arrival!!