Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Jewelry Crafting Playdate

It's no secret we love this time of year and I often find myself trying to squeeze in as much fun for the kids as possible.  My kids LOVE playdates with a capital "L" and would have friends over every day if we could.  Usually when they have friends over they keep themselves busy with their own games and playtime, but I knew that for Christmas it would be fun to host a themed jewelry crafting party for my girls and their friends.  I checked out Oriental Trading and found everything I needed for this fun afternoon!

I planned to serve hot chocolate and cookies and just keep it simple.  I had these fun Christmas insulated coffee cups and the whipped cream topping was a HUGE hit!  The kids loved these cups because they like to feel like they are big and act like they are drinking coffee.


Since these cups had the plastic lids, they felt just like they were drinking take-out coffee, but I didn't have to worry about any spills.  I had thought about making some treats, but in the end store bought sprinkle cookies made them just as happy and saved me a few hours in the kitchen.


After the kids got their snacks it was time to start crafting.  They each had a bracelet, earrings and ornament to make.  Everything came pre-packaged with all of the supplies needed for each one so it is super easy to just pass out the little packages and know the kids have everything they need.  I found the jewelry in the adult crafting section on their website, but it was perfect for my girls' ages.


I had them each make these bracelets first just so we would all be on the same steps.  There were a lot of beads and they didn't end up needing them all for their small wrists.  They could pick what pattern they wanted to do with the beads and each of them turned out very unique.


After they were done stringing the beads all I had to do was tie the elastic string into a few knots and clip the ends.


Next up were these cute Christmas tree earrings.  I was worried these might be too big or heavy for them, but they ended up being just perfect.  Stringing the glass beads onto the wire was easy, but then I needed to use pliers and wire cutters to actually attach it to the earring part.  It wasn't hard, but just took a little time to do each pair.  I was glad that I had limited each girl to one friend for that reason and I was thankful I knew right where the Mr.'s tools were located.


As soon as everyone had theirs completed the girls all wanted to put them on and couldn't get over how great they turned out.  They all kept saying they thought the bracelet and earrings looked like something that you would buy at a store and they were so impressed that they had made them!


Because I didn't want Boo-Boo to feel left out I ordered this sweet beaded Christmas tree ornament kit also.  The girls breezed through this, but it was still fun for them and Boo-Boo loved that he had something to make also.  Actually, he ended up making a bracelet that he gifted to our babysitter, so it was a great fine motor activity for him, too.


The playdate ended up being so much fun.  It was so simple and didn't take a lot of prep or time from me, but it was something different and a little more organized than their normal playdates so it felt really special for the kids.  We listened to fun music, danced, ate and drank yummy things, and made some really great jewelry and crafts.  The kids went on and on about how much fun they had and I'm sure they made some fun memories that I hope they will continue to remember every time they see their jewelry and think about Christmas!
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** Thank you to Oriental Trading for providing the supplies for this playdate!**

Monday, December 5, 2016

Keeping it Clean with WaterWipes {Giveaway}

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Earlier this year I professed my love for a new favorite wipe - WaterWipes. Who knew that one could get so excited about a wipe? As a mom you realize pretty quickly though a good wipe can make or break your entire motherly existence. 

Well... maybe not so dramatic, but listen no one likes poopy hands right? 

A wipe has to be just right so it's not even a thought in your day. It works for you, does a great job at what it does, and let's you and your baby roll on happily with the rest of your day. For us the wipe that has graced our diaper bags the most has been WaterWipes. 




WHY I LOVE THEM
Baby Cute has super sensitive skin. She continuously battles eczema, and I love that WaterWipes contain just what they say they do - water! Made up of 99.9% pure Irish water, and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, they are chemical FREE. 



Between eating solids (which can get quite messy with this little one!), and diaper changes we are using wipes all. day. long. That much wiping can be so tough on new baby skin, and especially for a baby with sensitive skin. WaterWipes have proven to be durable and effective without any of the harsh chemicals that can irritate her skin. 


Plus I love the moisturized feeling they seem to leave behind on that cute tush. Even from the first use, I was able to tell that Baby Cute's skin seemed to feel smoother and more moisturized in comparison to other wipes. 




WHERE TO BUY
Aside from just all around being a great wipe, I love that I am able to get WaterWipes straight to my doorstep! WaterWipes are available at a variety of locations, but I was beyond excited to learn that I could order them for a great price from Walmart.com. 

If there is one thing I love more than a great wipe, it's being able to shop with ease for said great wipe without having to leave the comforts of my home. With three little ones underfoot, convenience will always win.   



EXCITING GIVEAWAY
Because we love WaterWipes so much we are partnering with Walmart.com, some other amazing bloggers, and I-C for a fun giveaway. Now through November 9th, enter for a chance to win one of 5 $100 Walmart gift cards. 

I-C will randomly select the winner from all program entries and facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners). 

WaterWipes Walmart Giveaway


As a parent, what item(s) helps you get through your day with ease? 


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Mommy Maintenance: Skin Care

We made it to Friday!  The weeks after a break always seem to drag on, but this one actually went by pretty quick to me and we are excited about the weekend! 

Today I have a new topic for our Mommy Maintenance series.  This idea popped in my head after one night when I had a mask on my face, my teeth whitening trays in and while I was painting my nails.  The Mr. just looked at me and shook his head.  Seriously though, I feel like at this point it takes a bit more effort to help me look and feel my best.  Plus, I'm the worst about putting everyone else's needs above my own and I've finally committed to taking care of myself along with everyone else.   


A few weeks ago I shared all about exercise and today's topic is all about skin care!  I'm not an expert by any means, but in the past few years I've definitely noticed changes in my skin (hello wrinkles!) and it is a topic that has been on my mind a lot recently.  

Up to this point I've used a few random things that I've either ordered on my own or gotten from my dermatologist, but here's the thing.  Skin care products are not cheap.  Because they are so not cheap I would not use them regularly because I wanted to "save" them or "make them last."  Well, it doesn't take an expert to figure out how well skin care products are going to work for me if I only using them sporadically.  

One thing that I was always doing was wearing sunscreen and another thing I really have tried to do in the past couple of years is wear a hat if I'm going to be in the sun.  This was me ready to spend the full day out in the sun at 3 different sports games.  


We went from baseball to soccer to the football game Little Mama was cheering at and my shoulders were burnt after this day, but my face was not! 

Even with all of that, sun and age (hello 36!) has taken a toll on my skin and I was committed to finally trying and sticking with some great skin care products.  I knew I wanted to try something consistently for at least 6-9 months every single day to see if I could notice any difference and to really give some products time to do what they are supposed to do.  

A friend that I exercise with introduced me to Rodan+Fields and gave me a mini facial sample to try.  I loved it and decided that I would give their products a try.  Unless you've been living under a rock I'm sure you've all heard about R+F, but maybe like me, you hadn't paid much attention to what they offer.  


After chatting with my friend, Gerrie, about what I wanted in a skin care regimen she suggested the Redefine Regimen which targets the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Well that sounded right up my ally. This regimen includes a daily cleansing mask, a pore minimizing toner, and two creams (one for the morning and one to use at night.)


I loved that the products were numbered so I knew what order to use them in and that they came with the additional directions and support of my friend and consultant.  The cleansing mask cracks my kids up when they see it on me.


I love the creams because they are so thick, but they don't feel think and heavy when you apply them to your face. I know that sounds weird, but it's true!  They are also super moisturizing, which I love. 

However, if I'm going to talk about something that I love from R+F it has to be this roller.  It's actually called the AMP MD micro-exfoliating roller and that combined with the Redefine night renewing serum is hands down my very favorite thing that touches my face.  


This roller has 192 surgical grade needles and I know that sounds scary, but trust me it is awesome.  I was worried it would hurt or be uncomfortable, but it really doesn't and I've become addicted to using it.  You roll it all over your race and it basically tricks your skin into making more collagen.  And yes, this is me with no make-up on which is something I never post, but I really do love this thing so much I was willing to share this pic with all of you so you could see me actually using the roller. 


After rolling you then use one of these tiny little capsules which holds the night renewing serum.  You just pop off the top, squeeze out the serum and apply it to your face.  It literally feels like silk and makes my skin feel so smooth. I really like these because I feel like it forces me to use just the right amount of serum.


Do I still have smile lines? Yes.  Do I still have wrinkles?  Yes.  But, I've been using these products for just under two months and I really have started to notice small changes.  I especially like the way my skin feels and I'm about to order some more because I'm almost out!


The products are not cheap, but in my opinion with skin care products, you get what you pay for.  Maintaining my face is one thing I'm willing to spend money on because I'd hate to get 10 years down the road and wish I had started with great products like these sooner.

If anyone is interested in learning more I know that Gerrie would be more than happy to chat with you.  Because there are so many different regimens to target so many different things it is great to talk with her and get some guidance before you spend any money.  You can take a look on her website, HERE, and if you have specific questions her contact info is HERE.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Club: December

Happy December everyone! Is it us, or does it feel like this year has flown by?
We have so many fun things planned for this month, but we're going to kick off the last month of the year with Book Club!




WHAT WE READ

CARRIE BETH'S SELECTIONS
I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I'm still plugging away at The Light Between Oceans.  It is really good and I can't wait to see how it wraps up, but it is taking me forever to read because I've spent a lot of my reading time brushing up on 4th grade literature and non-fiction.  Yep, I could probably tell you anything you want to know about Little Mama's novels (since I've been helping her with preparing for her book tests) or Christopher Columbus and the other explorers they are studying right now.  As for the time to read my books, well right now those moments are just far and few between.  


JEN'S SELECTIONS
November was another crazy month, and while I had The Light Between Oceans ready to go to read along with Carrie Beth, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I needed something light and easy to read so I kicked off the month with a suggestion from one of our favorite bloggers.


Shay from Mix & Match Mama did a review for The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and it seemed like just what I was looking for. It is about two co-workers who hate each other and find themselves competing for the same job. The story follows them along the weeks leading up to their big presentation for the promotion, and flashes back through their relationship to explain why they "hate" each other. It was a super cute fun read, and I read it just a few days. And just as Shay warned, it might be a little on the risqué side at times.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer was up next, and let me just disclose up front I am not quite sure what made me click on this to add it my Kindle...but I'm glad I did.

I am back to getting up several times a night with Baby Cute (Gah! She's almost ten months old!), so while we rock, I read to stay awake. This was a middle of the night purchase, and all I remember was seeing it was a best seller and it was about the Queen from Alice in Wonderland. I was intrigued. It falls in the Young Adult category of reading - so, easy to read! Again, just what I was looking for.

The story follows Catherine, a young girl in Wonderland who comes from nobel background, but craves to open a bakeshop with her maid. Along the tale you realize that the sweet, beautiful, and calm Catherine is destined to be the Queen of Hearts. A little love, a little heartbreak, and a lot of fun with some of the characters you know from Alice in Wonderland, I could not put Heartless down! I loved Meyer's take on how the characters in Wonderland came to be.


Last up was a new book from an old go-to series that I love. Janet Evanovich mysteries are just so fun, and I love her humor. Turbo Twenty-Three proved to be just as funny as the rest of the series, and was the perfect light read to close out my November. If you are looking for a mystery series that is kind of light and fun at the same time (mixed with a little romance, too), then this is one to pick up. 



NOVEMBER'S SELECTIONS

CARRIE BETH'S CURRENT PICK

Hoping that with Christmas break coming up soon I will be able to squeeze in a bit more time to read!  Like many others I was sitting on my couch Tuesday night at 9 PM excited to watch the first episode in the new season of Fixer Upper. I love that show and find Chip and Joanna Gaines so entertaining. I just love their story and their commitment to their family and would love to read their book, The Magnolia Story.


JEN'S CURRENT PICK
Okay, normally for the holidays I love to pick up a fun Christmas themed book to read. I was clicking through options and then saw that Stephenie Meyer - author of the infamous Twilight Series - came out with a new book. I am in!


Like the rest of the world, we were all about some Edward and Jacob back in the day, so I was so excited. I'm a few pages into her latest, The Chemist, already, and then I realized this might be drastically different from her previous books. So far, I'm totally hooked though!

I'll keep you posted!

Then I'm all in for some good wine drinking hot chocolate drinking and a holiday read or two.   


BOOK CLUB 2016
January | February | March | April | May |June |July | August | September | October | November |

Happy Reading!
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I See Me: Personalized Christmas Books

A lot of people spend Black Friday at the malls and big box retailers shopping till they drop and hitting all the sales, but it's our tradition to spend the entire day saying goodbye to Thanksgiving and hello to Christmas!  


It usually takes the entire day to do the inside and out, but I love it and so do the kids!  They are usually pretty great little helpers and love assisting with everything from decorating the tree to hanging stockings. 



One of their very favorite things is when I pull out all of our Christmas books from the basement.  We've accumulated quite the collection and I like to keep them all together in a basket all season long to make it easy for grabbing the ones they want to read each night.


This year I was so excited to add a new personalized I See Me book to our basket.  Our little Boo-Boo still loves his other I See Me book so I knew he would be super excited about a Christmas book with his name in it, too.  


This is the traditional Night Before Christmas story with some personal details added in to the illustrations and the text.  


When he saw his name on one of the gifts in Santa's sleigh he was super excited!


Although this book is personalized for him, I loved that I could also make it personal for our whole family by including the girls' names which are used in the illustrations like on the stockings and the gifts.



There is even an option to include furry family members and I did this for our dog, Walker!  I think this might be the thing Boo-Boo get most excited about.  They are the best of friends and seeing Walker's name and the dog weaved into the illustrations in this story is something he keeps pointing out over and over when we read this book.


I was able to also submit a picture that is included in the dedication page and this gift set also came with a personalized ornament with that same picture!  Boo-Boo was so happy to see him and Walker on the ornament and couldn't wait to hang it on the tree in his room.


The girls were super excited to read this book, too, but after we were done reading it for the first time I could tell Blondie was a little bummed. I asked her what was wrong and she said she wanted a book with her name on it.  I reminded her that this book had her name in it, too, but I knew she meant that she wanted a book of her very own.  Later that night I made sure to hop on the I See Me website and order her a special personalized book that is just for her and I can't wait to give it to her for Christmas.  I know she will love it!

These books are such special keepsakes and my kids absolutely love them. The quality is fantastic and they make wonderful gifts.  There are options for kids of all ages from board books for little ones, to birthday books and of course a great selection of Christmas books.  Be sure to use the code MAGNOLIA10 to receive 10% off your order between now and December 16th!

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**I was gifted this book in exchanged for my review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Coolest Tech Gifts for Kids


Yesterday we shared some of our favorite gifts for moms, and today we switch it back to the kids. Because let's be honest - Christmas is all about the kids. 

We know everyone has heard of some of the season's hottest gifts for kids already. You can't turn around without hearing about the craze that is The Hatchimals

And children of the 80's are rejoicing everywhere as Target has brought back the original Nintendo.
(Just another reason to love Target.) 
#dibsonthegoodcontroller

But we're here to share some of our favorite tech gifts for kids that you might not have heard about. 



Our kids absolutely love anything STEM or tech related. We've seen our fair share of toys, but these all pass their "will play with it more than once" requirement. Most of these we own already, and have already been huge hits with our crews. Others are on Santa's list this year. 

Here's hoping this list gives you a little inspiration. Especially, if you've already been running around frantically from store to store, while simultaneously brokering a deal on Ebay for the egg craze of 2016 - and it still might not happen. 



  • 3Doodler 3D Pen - It took us a moment to wrap our minds around a 3D pen, but once we saw it in action it was amazing. The 3Doodler Pen brings littles ones imagination and art to life in such a fun and unique way. This gift would work best for children in late elementary school and even into middle and high school. 
  •  VTech Smart Watch - Last year we both gave these fun kid friendly smart watches to our children - and they've loved them. They think it is so neat to message one another, take pics, and play games all from their wrist - just like dad's (sort of.)!


  • Amazon Fire Kids - Speaking of smart things...the Amazon Fire Kids Edition is one of our favorite gifts. Think of it as the gateway tablet for your kids. It's perfectly geared for them in mind, from the case its enclosed in to the access and apps available. It has everything they need all in one without the worry of the features you don't need/want them to mess with. Coming in at under $100 it's the perfect kids tablet.
  • Robot Animals - Last year when Cute asked for a robot dinosaur, we (1) didn't know such a thing existed (it does), and (2) didn't realize he would love it so much. This year robot animals are all the hit and we love the Paw Patrol ones for the younger set. They move, interact, talk, and provide hours of entertainment - which is key!
  • Osmo Game Systems - Hands down this has to be one of the coolest toys we've tested this year. The Osmo Games are all STEM based activities that your little one can play on the iPad. Each interactive game is unique and coordinates with an app. We've been amazed at the level of personalized interaction this game provides our little ones and they absolutely LOVE them. Our favorite so far is the Creative Kit



  • Drones - Your little one will get a huge hit seeing how high they can make their own personal drone go, and what they are able to capture with it's 360 degree camera. This easier to navigate and slightly tougher pint-sized version is perfect for gifting under the tree. 
  • Electronic Reader Sets - These are the perfect little book sets for a young child or a beginning reader. Baby Cute received the Frozen set for her birthday this past year, and both the kids love reading these little stories. Each page is specially picture coded to a graphic on the reader, so your little one is easily in control and able to follow along. There are so many fun sets - from Spiderman to Eric Carle, your little reader will be covered. 
  • Dash & Dot - We've already mentioned robots are a huge hit this year, now meet the adorable Dash & Dot. These cute little guys are fully functioning robots that your little one control and interact with. They do anything your little one programs them to - dance, sing, deliver messages. Quite simply the coolest coding toy ever made!
  • V-Tech Digital Camera - All of our kids (minus Baby Cute) so far have owned one of the V-Tech Digital Cameras, and it just might be one of our favorite toys ever. They see us taking pictures of them all day long and want to get in on the fun, and this was a great way to introduce them to the world of photography. We love downloading their photos and seeing the world through their eyes. Such a fun toy, and a great toy to bring on family vacations too! 
  • Smart Phone Printer - This is a gift we know we already know we are going to want to steal from the kids. The Fugifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer is the perfect gift for the Tween or Teen who is already smartphone savvy (and lets be honest, already knows how to take a million photos and selfies). They will get a huge kick out of being able to instantly print their photos. Mommy might print one or two herself.


TAKE A PEEK AT OUR OTHER HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES
Southern Best Friend 
Teacher's Gifts
Babies 0-12 Months
What Moms Really Want

What tech gift is at the top of your child's list this year? 

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