The Best Gifts For A New Nursing Mama

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Seeing as the holidays are quickly approaching and I’m going into my 35th month of making milk for my babies, I wanted to take a quick minute to share some gift ideas for the new breastfeeding mamas in your life. Of course, a lot of these ideas would be wonderful for any new mama, regardless of whether she is breast or bottle feeding, but breastfeeding is what I’m most familiar with and this list includes items that have been particularly helpful to me on that journey. 

So, happy shopping and make sure you let me know in the comments below what things were/are most helpful for you when breastfeeding!  

Until next time,  

❤️ Becca  

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  1. Keepsake Breastmilk Earrings 2. Postpartum Bath Herbs 3. S'well Water Bottle                        4. Bamboobies Nipple Cream 5. Boob-Ease Soothing Therapy Pillows                                        6. Coffee Scented Soy Candle 7. Body Butter 8. Lactation Bars 9. Minnetonka Slippers                10. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer 11. Starbucks Gift Card 12. Breastfeeding Mug 13. Mama Bear Shirt


25 Days of Toddler Christmas Activities

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This post contains affiliate links. For more details, please see my full disclosure.

Last year, a friend and I challenged each other to do 25 days of Christmas activities with our kids to get them excited about the Christmas season. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to stick with it for the whole month or December, but Ransom had so much fun it ended up being much easier than I expected. We had so much fun and made so many memories together, so I plan to do it again this year. Everything is easier if you plan it out ahead of time, so I’ve compiled all the activities that I have planned for this Christmas season. I hope they inspire you to so some fun Christmas activities with your babies! 

Day 1: Glitter Slime.

I see a lot of parents on social media hating on slime, but I honestly love it. This might not be the activity for you if you don’t like messes, but I would argue that messes clean up but fun memories last. And this fun memory is glittery and smells like Christmas. 

Day 2: Christmas Tree Lighting at the Zoo. 

Ransom has been itching to “show my baby” the animals at the zoo, so we’re going to go enjoy the tree lighting ceremony, Christmas carols, and hot cocoa with the animals.  

3 Jingle Bell Wreath Ornament.

 

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I love making Christmas tree ornaments with Ransom. Not only is it a fun activity, but they make great Christmas gifts and they're perfect for filling up the bottom half of our tree, which only has non-breakable ornaments due to curious little hands. These little jingle bell ornaments look super easy to make and I know Ransom will have a blast playing with the bells. We'll throw on Jingle Bells on the Zeppelin and practice our Christmas carols. 

Day 4: Flying Reindeer Paper Plate Craft 

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A fun little craft for my currently reindeer-obsessed son. Make sure to have all the parts pre-cut and ready to go if you're doing this with younger kids - it'll make for a smoother process and help keep the craft within the range of their attention span. 

Day 5: Grinch Fruit Kabobs  

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This is the day of Ransom's Christmas party for the music class he attends, so our Christmas activity will be attending the party. And we'll be making and bringing along these cute and healthy Grinch kabobs to share with his friends!

Day 6: Letters to Santa

This is the first year that Ransom has really grasped the concept of Santa and he is so excited about it. We'll be writing and mailing our letters to him using one of these adorable templates.

Day 7: Salt Dough Ornaments.

I know what Grandma is getting for Christmas this year! Preserve those cute little handprints while they’re still teeny tiny... and use up the rest of the glitter and glue from the slime!

Day 8: Festival of Lights

The local Basilica has a gorgeous Festival of Lights display that is free to the public. We'll be bundling up and taking the kiddos to see all the lights. Check to see what sort of light festivals are happening in your area!  

Day 9: Felt Christmas Tree

I've done this for the last two years for Ransom and both years he's loved it. And I love that it gives him his own little tree to decorate and has (so far) kept him away from the real tree.

Day 10: Christmas Tree! 

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This is one of my favorite things that we do as a family all year. We have a favorite farm that we go to each year that has live reindeer and other fun family activities. Usually we go out to the fields and cut down our own tree, but seeing as we’ll be bringing a newborn along this year, we’ll probably stick to the pre-cut trees in the barn. Do you do a real tree or an artificial?  

Day 11: Santa Pancakes

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ren’t these the cutest pancakes? Refined sugar and simple carbs are Ransom’s love language, so these pancakes are a must. I try to make them at least a little bit healthy by making them vegan with coconut whipped cream and topping them with tons of fruit.  

Day 12: Natural Christmas Play Dough

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I don’t know a toddler who doesn’t love play dough, plus this is super easy and fun to make. I love that it uses non-toxic ingredients and it smells amazing - you can make candy cane, eggnog, gingerbread, or Christmas tree scented dough. 

Day 13: New Christmas Movie

We try to add a new Christmas movie to our collection every year. This year we realized that for some crazy reason, we don’t have Elf yet. So we’ll be having an Elf movie night for sure! 

Day 14: Icy Cold Snow Dough

We made this snow dough last year and it was so much fun to make little snowmen and snowballs right in the kitchen. I think Ransom will have even more fun with it now that he’s a bit older. And it only has two hours ingredients!  

Day 15: Candy Cane Hunt

 This activity is a lot more fun if you can do it outside, but will work as an indoor activity too. This year I’m going to make a map of where the candy canes are hidden so Ransom can hunt for the “treasure”. 

Day 16: Trip to See Santa

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This one is pretty self-explanatory: a trip to see the big guy. I’m hoping that Ransom will actually sit on his lap this year, but I’m not going to push it if he doesn’t. Does your little one like visiting Santa?  

Day 17: Snowflake Painting

This is a fun, easy painting activity and will make some cute winter decorations for my house.  

Day 18: The Bear Stays Up for Christmas Book and Activity

We've been reading a lot of different Christmas books this year, and this is one of our favorites. We'll be reading it again and then doing this sweet craft together. 

Day 19: Family of Santa Handprints

How adorable are these little handprint Santas?! I’m going to attempt to get all of our handprints in one place. Wish me luck with getting the baby’s handprint....  

Day 20: Gingerbread House

This is something we do every year. Generally, my husband and I build the house and Ransom supervises and eats all the candy!  

Day 21: Late Night Drive to See Christmas Lights. 

Seeing as this day is the Winter Solstice and the darkest day of the year, I thought that it was appropriate to take advantage of the dark and drive around to see all the pretty Christmas lights on the houses. And we just might grab some hot cocoa while we’re out.  

Day 22: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Reindeer Chow

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a favorite in our house and I’ve been looking for an excuse to make some reindeer chow, so a movie night and special treat it is! 

Day 23: Gift Wrapping 

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This Christmas season has been so fun already because Ransom is old enough to pick out gifts for people. I love this sweet, simple wrapping paper to make with him and wrap up his gifts for family members.

Day 24: Christmas Eve

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Where do I even start? We always spend the day making Christmas cookies for Santa. Usually we snuggle on the couch and eat too many of those cookies while drinking hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies on repeat. My husband and I used to like to go to midnight mass, but we’ve learned that going out after 7pm with little ones really isn’t the best idea so now we go to a family service earlier in the evening. We have a tradition of doing one present on Christmas Eve and it’s usually something quiet that can be played with during the church service. Everyone gets new pajamas for Christmas so they can be nice and cozy while they sleep waiting for Santa to come.

Day 25: CHRISTMAS

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No special activity listed here because I’m sure you have plenty planned already. But I’d love to know: what are your favorite holiday traditions that you share with your children? Is there anything silly or unique that you do every year?  

 

I hope that this list inspires you and that you have a fun, merry season as you and your family prepare for Christmas! Did you have a favorite activity on the list? What about something that you’d add? Please let me know in the comments below! 

Until next time,  

❤️ Becca  

Favorite Winter Books for Children

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This post contains affiliate links. For more details, please see my full disclosure.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, meaning it’s officially Christmas season. And in Buffalo, NY, Christmas season inevitably means tons and tons of snow. While Christmas is huge in our family, I’ve never been the biggest fan of winter. I spend most of the winter hiding inside and wondering why I live somewhere where the air hurts my face. However, as Ransom gets older, I'm starting to realize how much my attitudes shape his. And the truth is, I don't want to raise my son to hate an entire season and spend the whole thing grumbling about it. 

So, I've been spending some time thinking about how I can shift my own attitudes and paint a more positive picture of winter for my son. I've been trying to be more intentional about the language I choose when I'm talking about the seasons, and trying to talk about all the fun things that we can do in the winter. One way we've been exploring this is by reading lots and lots of books about winter and snow.  

It hasn't started snowing yet, so we haven't had a chance to play in and explore the snow. But in the meantime, I thought I would share some of our favorite winter books that we've been reading. I hope that they get you as excited about winter as they're getting us! 

Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy

This book tells the sweet story of a group of woodland animals that come across a stranger in their woods. Written by and filled with gorgeous photographs taken by nature photographers, this book is a wonderful way to start conversations with your child about winter and woodland animals. My son absolutely loved all the pictures of the animals and the snow. 

The Mitten

This book is a classic and definitely deserves a place on every winter book list. Follow the journey of a lost mitten as it is discovered by various critters, each one larger than the last. The hilarious climax had my son exclaiming "that's silly!" and giggling uncontrollably. If you haven't read this book yet, it's an absolute must this winter. 

The Biggest Snowman Ever

Share the tale of two mice who enter a competition to build the biggest snowman ever. I don't know about you, but my toddler loves hyperbole and extremes - everything is always the biggest, tallest, highest, etc. So naturally, a book about the biggest snowman ever was a big hit. Now he's itching for there to be enough snow on the ground that he can successfully build a snowman even bigger than the one in the book (he's also a little competitive). 

Snow

This sweet story describes one boy's experience of the first snowfall of winter and the resulting transformation of his city. With beautiful illustrations, this book is a wonderful celebration of winter.  

Carl’s Christmas  

Part of the Good Dog, Carl series, Carl’s Christmas is a delightful wordless picture book that illustrates the adventures of a family’s faithful Rottweiler, Carl, and his family’s baby on Christmas Eve. Not only are the illustrations gorgeous, but I love the fact that the book doesn’t have text, because the story can be whatever you want! My son loves to “read” this one to me, which is a wonderful way for him to use his imagination, develop his storytelling skills and build up his vocabulary, as well as foster a love for reading.  

The Polar Express  

If you haven’t read the book, you’ve probably seen the movie - the story of a young boy who is beginning to doubt if Santa is real. On Christmas Eve he is whisked off on the Polar Express train that takes him and other children on a magical adventure to the North Pole. Or, as my son so aptly describes it, “it’s a book about trains”. 

Bear Stays Up For Christmas

Part of The Bear Books series, this book tells the story of Bear on Christmas Eve, who - with the help of his friends - fights the urge to go back to sleep so that he can celebrate Christmas. This book illustrates the beauty of winter and friendship and has a sweet ending.  

Dream Snow 

Written by the author of The Very Hungry Caterpiller, Eric Carle, this book is sure to capture children's attention. On Christmas Eve, a farmer falls asleep wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow. His dreams of snowfall are illustrated in Eric Carle's classic style in this beautiful lift-the-flap book. 

Snowballs  

This book presents an opportunity for a snowy day story and activity time. The collage-style book creates sweet snowmen, a snowgirl, and even a snowcat out of everyday household items (buttons, seeds, fabric, etc.) that would be fun to recreate with your toddler. 

Red Sled  

This is another almost wordless picture book. It tells the story of some mischievous woodland animals that take a red sled for a nighttime ride. My son loved the sound effects and imitating the animal noises.  

Ten on the Sled 

This sweet book reminds me of a winter version of Five Little Monkeys, and is a great way to practice counting.... and of course to get excited about sledding in the snow!  

A Perfect Day  

This book is a celebration of snow and all the fun activities that it offers. I’m saving this one for when the first snow comes, because I know Ransom will be too excited to get outside and try these fun ideas!  

Winter is for Snow  

The story of two rambunctious siblings exploring a winter wonderland: the brother points out all the great things about winter (like my son), while the sister focuses on the negatives of the cold, damp weather (like me, haha). A perfect way to have a conversation about finding the positives in any given situation - winter or otherwise.  

The Big Snow  

A story of woodland animals preparing for winter and the first big snow. A great way to talk about winter and hibernation while enjoying beautiful illustrations.  

Olive, the Other Reindeer

The sweetest story of a confused little dog, Olive,  who decides to travel to the North Pole to join Santa’s sleigh team. I don’t think it’s possible not to smile while reading this adorable Christmas story. 

Little Blue Truck's Christmas

The Little Blue Trucks books are a favorite in our house and this book is no exception. It tells the story of Blue as he delivers Christmas trees to all of his animal friends. Practice counting trees and enjoy to light up tree at the end of the book. 

 

Do you have any winter favorites that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below! 

Until next time,

❤️ Becca  

 

What's Better: Ergobaby 360 or Ergobaby Omni 360?

This post contains affiliate links. For more details, please see my full disclosure.

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I have been a huge fan of babywearing since Ransom was a newborn (why does it seem like that was forever ago?!), so I am incredibly excited to be partnering with Ergobaby to review their latest forward facing baby carrier, the Omni 360! Ergobaby gave me this product to try, but all opinions are my own. 

Like I said, I have been babywearing since Ransom was a teeny, tiny little thing. I was finishing up my last semester of grad school when he arrived and babywearing was one of the main reasons that I was able to balance graduate work and caring for a newborn... and managed to complete the semester with a 4.0! I simply snuggled Ransom up in a baby carrier and he would sleep peacefully on my chest for hours while I was in class or doing homework (ahhhh... that newborn stage when he slept for hours and hours). I could even mastered breastfeeding discretely in class without having to take him out of the carrier. He spent the majority of the first few months of his life in a baby carrier, both for the convenience of it and because I just couldn't bear to put my precious little babe down (and he liked the snuggles too).

We tried a few different types of baby carriers, including wraps and ring slings, but ultimately fell in love with our Ergobaby 360: it seemed to provide more stability, had a greater variety of possible carrying positions, and had a quicker learning curve, which was especially important for my husband who got frustrated trying to figure out a ring sling. And the Ergobaby holds up to approximately 33lbs, meaning that we can still carry Ransom (who will be turning 3 in January) in it! 

Some vintage Ransom, just because he's adorable. 

Some vintage Ransom, just because he's adorable. 

So, Ergobaby recently released the Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier. What's the difference between the original 360 and the Omni 360? Is it really worth upgrading to the Omni? After almost 3 years of being a loyal Ergo 360-er, I wondered the same things! Here are my thoughts after spending some time using the Omni.

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So here is the Ergobaby 360 in black with the Ergobaby Omni 360 below it in khaki green. They both come in multiple color options. I honestly wasn't too sure about the khaki green at first, but it's really grown on me: makes me feel like I'm ready for an adventure every time I strap my little guy on my back ;) Besides the obvious color difference, there doesn't initially appear to be that much that is different about the two carriers though, so I'll highlight a few of the changes that you see in the Omni. 

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One of the first differences is the adjustable waistband. With the original 360, the waistband (pictured in the top photo) was an adjustable velcro closure that could be tightened more with the adjustable strap. That system worked fine, but let me tell you: velcro is LOUD when you're trying to unstrap it to transfer a sleeping baby out of the carrier. The Omni has a wider, padded waistband (wider = better support) that clips instead of velcros and adjusts bilaterally. That might not seem like a huge deal, but when Ransom was tiny there were a lot of days that he would only fall asleep in the carrier only to then be awoken by the sound of the velcro. Not to mention that it's hard to keep velcro looking fresh and clean when you literally take your Ergobaby EVERYWHERE you go. The wider waistband does feel a little more supportive than the original 360, but it's a little difficult to judge that at the moment, since I'm wearing the carrier differently than I'm used to due to my pregnancy. 

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Here's a closer look at the new waistband. Wider, more supportive, and quiet ;) 

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Both of the carriers come with attached hoods to cover up baby's head when needed. This is a really useful feature, whether to protect your little one from the weather, give you a little extra privacy while breastfeeding, or to give them a little more peace while he/she is sleeping. I know Ransom would often prefer sleeping with the hood up. Bonus: it helps to keep germy stranger's hands away from your babe! 

Both of the hoods serve the same purpose, but the design does differ slightly between the original 360 and the Omni. The original 360 has a little zipper pouch that the hood can roll up into and then be closed, while the Omni has an open pocket to put the hood into. I personally found that the zipper on the original tended to get stuck on the hood. The Omni hood also looks a little sleeker. Small changes, but looks and functionality go a long way when you're using something as much as we use our Ergobaby.

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The Ergobaby Omni has a new feature with a removable pouch that attaches to the waistband. If fanny packs aren't really your thing, I get it, but let me just say how convenient it is when you can just throw your phone, wallet, and keys in there and complete your grocery store or target run with your hands completely free! I can only imagine how much this is going to come in handy when baby girl decides to arrive and I'm wearing her AND chasing a toddler. 

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Probably the biggest difference between the original 360 and the Omni is that there's no need for a newborn insert with the Omni. As you can see in the photo above, you can easily adjust the size of the carrier with the velcro at the base of the carrier. By adjusting them to the smallest setting, you can safely and snuggly carry your newborn. Or, you can adjust it to the widest setting (as shown above), to carry your toddler. This change alone makes the Omni a superior carrier, in my opinion, as it takes away the need to purchase a separate newborn insert and gives you a carrier that truly lasts from day 1 to year 3 with your baby. 

While many of the changes between the two carriers were small, they were all things that I had wished were different about the original 360. The more supportive and velcro-free waistband, the sleek and easy-to-use hood, the waist pouch, and the ability to use the carrier on it's own for a newborn make the Omni the best carrier for me, hands down. But if you're still not convinced, here are some action shots of me and my sister testing out the Omni while exploring downtown Cleveland.... with a 34 lbs toddler in tow. 

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Being in my third trimester, I figured my belly would be too big to comfortably wear a toddler, but the Omni turned out to be really comfortable for a back carry. I just had to secure the waistband above my bump and we were ready to go! If you're pregnant and you feel comfortable continuing to babywear, you can try a back carry with the waistband above or below your bump (of course, be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider first to make sure that this is safe for your body, your baby, and your unique pregnancy). 

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Ransom and I walked all over the city of Cleveland in the Omni. I think we logged almost 10 miles that day! The back carry was the only carry that I could comfortably try at this point in my pregnancy, but I'm very excited to try more carrying positions with Ransom AND baby girl when she arrives. Who knows, maybe I'll even experiment with tandem babywearing with the Ergobaby 360 and the Ergobaby Omni 360? If so, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes! 

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My sister, who doesn't have a big pregnant belly, was able to wear Ransom in a front carry, which he preferred over the back carry as nap time approached. She said that it was very comfortable and that she barely noticed that she was carrying a tall, heavy toddler! 

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Ransom and I were definitely impressed with the Ergobaby Omni 360 and have already recommended it to several expecting friends and family members! We genuinely love our newest baby carrier and I am so, SO excited to have the Omni for Ransom and our new baby. 

If you'd like to check out Ergobaby carriers, whether the original 360 or the Omni, make sure to use my special discount code jo8KbuYBBM to take 10% off of your purchase! 

Have you tried the new Omni carrier? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

The Ultimate Guide to Small Shop Christmas Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my full disclosure.

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As the New York weather gets chillier and the last leaves start to fall off of the trees, I’ve been finding myself thinking more and more about the Christmas season. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and motherhood has only intensified that feeling. Sharing all of our holiday traditions with our children and creating new memories and traditions is something I look forward to all year.   

One thing that I really love about the holiday season is searching for special gifts for my children. I love showering them with gifts and have to watch myself so make sure that I don’t go overboard (can anyone relate?!). Some things I am conscious of when shopping for my babes is the quality of the toys that I am buying for them - I would much rather buy one well-made wooden toy that will last and will encourage them to play and use their imagination than buy them three or four cheaper toys that will break easily or will just end up getting forgotten about in the bottom of the toy bin. 

Since we’ll have a fresh new babe to celebrate Christmas with this year, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite small shops and they’re beautiful, handmade baby items. High quality items that will last for years to come and you get to support a family’s business - everyone wins!  

Classic Wooden Baby Gym

So, I adore this little wooden baby gym. I’m not a fan of the bright primary colors and patterns that are usually on baby gyms but boy, are those gyms useful. We didn’t get one for baby #2 and Ransom’s old baby gym has seen better days and is missing most of the hanging toys that originally came with it. I love, love, love the simple structure of this gym and wood instead of cheap plastic.  

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Wood and Silicone Teething Rings 

Baby girl will definitely be needing some teething toys in the next few months and these wood and silicone rings are not beautiful, but made out of high quality wood and food-grade silicone so I don't have to worry about what she's putting in her mouth. Bonus: these colors match her nursery theme perfectly, but this sweet little shop offers lots of different color options to fit your little's personality. 

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Bunny Ear Teething Toy

Another teething toy, because babes put everything in their mouths so why not give them a few options? I love the different colors and textures of these sweet little toys. And with their pricetag, I can get a few different patterns so we'll always have one handy! 

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Soft Sensory Blocks

I love blocks and toys that encourage littles to use their imagination. These soft sensory blocks are perfect for teeny tiny babes who aren't ready for wooden blocks quite yet, but could still benefit the from some sensory play (because who couldn't?). I plan on getting baby girl a set so that she and her big brother can play blocks together and bond during tummy time. 

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Round Boho Tummy Time Play Mat

Speaking of tummy time... this tummy time play mat is simply dreamy. The perfect addition to any little nursery, and would work beautifully with the wooden play gym listed above. The craft on this handmade item really makes it worth the price, not to mention that your babies will be able to play on it for years after they're past the tummy time stage. 

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Wooden Pacifier Clips

If you're anything like me, than you probably have 800 pacifiers scattered around your house but you can never find one when you need one. These sweet little pacifier clips solve that problem while also being super cute. I love that they're simple and gender neutral. A sweet and functional baby gift that will save you time when you're desperately searching for that binky at 2 am. 

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Ball Pit

Okay, so I'm kind of obsessed with this ball pit. All of the fun of a Chuck-E-Cheese right in my house but with the sweet, classic look I love as opposed to the obnoxious primary colors. This toy is a little on the pricey side, but we typically do one big present, so I'm thinking that this will be the big present this year. I love how it encourages movement and activity, and will provide my babes with hours of fun! I'm already imagining my babies playing in the ball pit together and it's seriously giving me all the heart eyes....  For more interactive toys for babies check out Thrifty Mama Life's Holiday Gift Guide.

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Soft Sole Baby Booties

I have a bit of an obsession with baby shoes, so I'll definitely be throwing a few pairs into little girl's Christmas stocking this year. I love the denim and lace on these ones, but the shop has lots of other patterns to choose from! 

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Rose Gold Shimmer Skinny Jeans

I love baby jeans and these rose gold shimmer ones are no exception. I love that the jeans from HarperJett Denim are made by hand and are such high quality. I'll be purchasing these rose gold ones for baby girl along with another pattern for big brother. 

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One thing that is, admittedly, missing from this list is books. I love baby books and reading to my babes, but I was not able to find many handmade/small shop baby books that were in my budget range. However, that certainly doesn't mean that we won't be buying lots of books for Christmas this year, just that they didn't make this list ;) Man-Cub Mamas has a wonderful list of the best books for toddlers that I'll be referring to while doing my Christmas shopping. 

Need more Christmas gift ideas? Check out Chocolate and Chaos for lots more holiday gift guides! 

20 Amazing Family Fall Activities to Try Right Now

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my full disclosure

It's finally fall! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Now that I'm a mom to a toddler, I'm having such a great time introducing my son to lots of fun fall activities, so I thought I'd share my personal list of all the things that we've been up to this autumn as well as some of the things that we are planning to do. I hope that this list inspires you to get out and enjoy this beautiful season! 

  • Go apple picking

Few things scream fall to me like picking your own produce…. Snuggle up in your favorite plaid, scarves, and boots and hit up a local apple orchard. They typically have a variety of different apples and you can get a great deal on large quantities of produce. Make sure you take lots of pictures at the orchard! There are a ton of orchards where I live in New York but if you aren’t sure where to find one near you, check out this great site I found that includes a directory of apple orchards but country and state!

  • Make caramel apples 

Obviously you’re going to have to find something to do with all of those delicious apples that you’ve picked. Apple pies, apple crisp, apple butter, and apple muffins are all great options, but for an extra special treat why not make some gooey, delicious caramel apples? One Green Planet has an amazingly yummy recipe for VEGAN caramel apples! It’s definitely something to add to your fall bucket list.

  • Jump in a leaf pile

Something so simple, but some of my favorite fall memories from childhood are raking up big piles of leaves and jumping in them again, and again..... and again. You can bag up or compost the leaves eventually, but why not have some fun as a family first and create some sweet, sweet memories?

  • Go to a harvest festival

We’re really lucky to live in an area where there are lots of fun fall activities for families.... and a lot of them are free! We’ve already been to a couple of fall festivals and have plans to go to a few more. So far, we’ve had kettlecorn, painted (free!) pumpkins, gone on a hayride, ridden on a Halloween train, and gone trick-or-treating at these festivals, so you can see there’s usually a ride range of activities and it’s definitely worth taking a day out of your weekend to check one out.

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  • Visit a pumpkin patch

Going to the pumpkin patch is my favorite thing to do with my family in the fall. There’s a local farm that we love and visit every year. In addition to taking a hayride out to a pumpkin patch to let our son pick out a pumpkin, there are pony rides, a hay maze for kiddos, and hot apple cider and other yummy treats! We always pick one Saturday in October to spend the whole day at the farm and my son calls it “Fall day”.

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  • Make a creative Halloween costume

I’ve made a Halloween costume for Ransom every year of his life. For his first Halloween, I only made the costume because I couldn’t find a store-bought costume of what I wanted him to dress up at (Totoro). But I ended up having so much fun making the costume and realized that it is SO much cheaper to make a costume than buy one, that I made him a costume last year and this year as well. You can keep it fairly simple or go crazy and do something really creative. Either way, I think it adds to the fun of the season and makes your little one’s costume a little more special.

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  • Sip apple cider and munch on apple cider donuts

Yummmmmm! Nothing like hot apple cider and donuts to welcome in fall weather. You can make a special trip for apple cider and donuts (we always get them at the pumpkin patch), but I highly recommend keeping your house regularly stocked with them for the entirety of the fall season. You know, just to be safe ;)

  • Get lost in a corn maze

This is one i haven’t done in years but I’m really itching to do now that Ransom is a little bigger and super active. There just happens to be a big corn maze right down the road from our house, so I’m just waiting for the perfect fall day to grab a hot apple cider and get lost in a hay maze. But really, last time I did a hay maze I really did get lost, so keep your fingers crossed for me. If you see smoke signals, it’s probably me. 

  • Have a bonfire

Have family and friends over and get cozy! We just had a wonderful bonfire last night, complete with trick-or-treating for the kids, fireworks, and s’mores. These crisp, cool fall nights won’t last forever, so let’s enjoy them while we can!

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  • Make a homemade pie

Apple is my personal favorite, but it seems like most people I talk with prefer pumpkin pie during the fall. This Pumpkin-Spiced Apple Pie is the perfect compromise!

  • Watch a spooky movie

When I was a kid, we had a family tradition that we got a new movie every Halloween and watched it together while we ate all the candy that we had collected earlier in the evening. Ransom has been a little too young for that up until now, but this year I want to start doing the same thing for him. I love Ray Bradbury, so I’d really like to do The Halloween Tree, but I think that might be a bit scary for this year, so I think we’re going to snuggle up with some caramel corn and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

  • Carve or paint pumpkins

My little man is still a bit too young to carve pumpkins himself and since I want him to be involved in the process, we choose to paint pumpkins instead of carving for the time being. Finger paints work really well with toddlers, and you can just let the kids go wild with the paints!

  • Roast pumpkin seeds

This is especially good if you choose to carve pumpkins instead of painting. These cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds are delicious and really quick and easy to make.

  • Make a hearty chili

Paired with some homemade cornbread, this makes the perfect fall comfort food. This recipe is not only delicious, but vegan and chock full of fresh veggies and all the great nutrients that come along with them!

  • Go to a football game

Okay, this is coming from someone who does not follow sports AT ALL. I generally watch football once a year at our family’s super bowl party, and I really only go for the unlimited guacamole. But still, there is something that seems very fall about going to a football game.

  • Make a Halloween House

Why should we only make cookie houses for Christmas? Our family has started making haunted cookie houses every year in addition to our Christmas gingerbread houses. This year, my husband and I did most of the construction and decoration while Ransom supervised and taste-tested the candy. I think the finished product lasted a whole 20 minutes.....

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  • Cozy up your home for the winter

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard of Hygge by this point. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish tradition that has been growing in popularity a lot lately and focuses on slowing down, embracing positivity, and enjoying the small simple things in life. Fall is a wonderful time to start to introduce Hygge into your home. Some easy ways to get started include:

o   Making your house as warm and cozy as possible – you’re going to be spending a lot more time indoors now that temperatures are getting cooler, so now is the time to invest in some cozy throws and pillows.

o   Curl up next to the fireplace with some warm socks and a good book.

o   Have some family and friends over for a warm meal.

o   Light candles and enjoy an evening as a family without any electronic devices.

  • Make leaf art together

Leaf art is so much fun with toddlers and kids because it’s two activities in one – going outside and collecting different leaves and then making a beautiful creation with them. It’s a great opportunity to talk about different kinds of trees and leaves and what they are often used for (my son loved learning about maple trees and how maple syrup is made), so take advantage of that conversational opportunity!

Some of my favorite leaf art ideas are:

o   A fall wreath to cozy up your entryway.

o   Make a leaf mobile using leaves that you preserve using this cool method. 

o   Make leaf critters with your little one and talk about the different animals, the sounds they make, the foods they eat, etc. 

  • Go to the library and check out books about fall

I’ll take just about any opportunity to squeeze in some reading time with my little guy. With all the wonderful things to do in fall, why not read about them?! Here are some great books about the changing seasons, apples, pumpkins, little animals in the fall, and celebrating fall traditions and holidays.

 

  • Make a homemade pinecone bird feeder

I love our backyard birds! As it gets colder and the bug population starts to die off, I like to give them a little encouragement to stick around. We’ve historically just put up standard bird feeders in the winter, but I’m really excited to try making a pinecone bird feeder with Ransom. The Outdoor Parent has a great tutorial over on their blog. Bonus: we can have a little scavenger hunt in our yard looking for pinecones to use!

 

What fall activities do you have planned for the season? Let me know in the comments below!!

 

Seven Reasons to Journal Everyday

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Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. 

 

Since middle school, I have kept a written journal of my life, documenting my joys, sorrows, teenage angst, crushes, victories, and everything in between. As I have evolved, so has my journalling, and it now a place for deeper self-reflection. But hey, it also served well to practice writing my name in cursive with the last name of my middle school crush! There’s a season for everything, right?

Journaling has given me a place to process my thoughts on paper when I did not have the opportunity to process them out loud. It has given me a creative outlet to track my dreams and my goals, and the motivation to plan and take action to turn those goals into reality. In fact, it has been so beneficial to me, that I regularly recommend it to my therapy clients. Journaling has many potential psychological and emotional benefits, a few of which I have listed for you below.

If you need a great journal to get started with, I would recommend the Midori Traveler's Notebook . They're beautifully made and have lots of different inserts available so you can really customize your journal to suit your needs. 

Seven Reasons to Journal Everyday

A Journal Can Act Like a Personal Therapist

A journal gives you a safe, non-judgmental place to write down your thoughts and feelings. It’s a perfect place to vent your frustrations, air your deepest secrets, and brag about your accomplishments. All without having to worry about what others think about you (although you shouldn’t worry anyway, because you’re wonderful the way you are).

A Journal Provides an Easy Way to Track Moods

Maybe you are chronically cranky on Mondays, or maybe you get weepy around certain times of of the day, week, or month. Journaling can help you track patterns in your moods. Once you identify a pattern it is much easier to find the root cause(s) and address them

A Journal Provides an Easily Accessible Creative Outlet

A journal can provide you with a blank canvas to jot down your wildest ideas, write your own songs or poetry, create little doodles or glorious sketches. It doesn’t have to just be a log of your day! Let those creative juices flow and make it your own.

A Journal Creates an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s easy to get into a funk and forget about all the things that you have to be grateful for. Keeping a record of the good in your life helps you to look back when you’re in a rough patch and appreciate all the good that you have encountered.

A Journal Helps You to Remember Your Victories… and Learn From Your Defeats

In addition to adjusting our attitude, a journal can act as a learning tool. What might you learn from examining your past victories and defeats? Journalling provides the space to reflect on this question.

A Journal Can Bring Clarity to Difficult Situations

A journal can be used for problem-solving. Whether it is the traditional pros and cons list, or writing out your worries and challenging those beliefs, there is something about putting a pen to paper that can bring mental clarity.

A Journal is Inexpensive and Easily Managed

You can get a cheap journal just about anywhere - a notebook from the dollar store will do the trick, or you can pop for a more expensive, designer one. Anything with blank paper where you feel secure jotting down your thoughts. And you’re the boss of your journal. You decide what you write and when you write it. How awesome is that?

Do you journal? If so, what benefits have you gleaned from the practice?