It’s officially time to start getting festive. Our Christmas tree is up and indoor decorations are done. With all these bucket list items getting crossed off, we had to do another… write a letter to Santa.
I mean.. there’s less than a month until Christmas, we HAD to make sure he knew what Mila wanted this year.
The letter to Santa is very important in the eyes of kids who believe in him. When Mila realized that Santa was going to see her letter, she had that look Ralphie did in A Christmas Story.
It was all very official business.
After brainstorming her thoughts for the letter out loud, she decided it was time to write. Since Mila only knows how to spell her name at the moment, I got to help her out a little in the writing and spelling part of this.
Her letter to Santa states:
How do you do? Thank you for giving me Christmas presents. I would like a big doctor thing.
She’s a lady that knows what she want! Hopefully she’ll actually become a doctor one day since that’s the only thing she wants at the moment. Besides becoming a mommy like me… her words.
Anyways, I wanted to share this big moment because there’s a lot of learning going on in this simple letter.
Not only did she practice her writing skills and can prove she can remember and write her name, she drafted and wrote a letter! That’s pretty big for a three year old. Just because she didn’t physically write it, doesn’t mean there wasn’t any thought or work put into it.
It also showed her emotional intelligence with the thank you’s and asking Santa how he was doing.
These are all social skills that are all important to learn… simply by just writing a fun letter to Santa! Learning really is everywhere you look.
Fingers crossed Santa gets her letter in time. She used special stamps to help it travel quickly.
I’ll keep you all updated on if he does.
You can find the ‘Letter to Santa’ template at The Letter Vee. Some of the other stamps come from Three Little Crumbsnatchers, she also has the cutest Christmas activities you can print out for free. I’ll be posting them this December, so keep your eyes peeled.
Does your child or did they write letters to Santa? I’m thinking of recording Mila too. I think it would be cute to look back on. Let me know in the comments if you think that’s a fun idea or not.
Moms do so much for their family and friends. Sometimes it can be hard to think of a gift to give them. Although this says what moms want, it’s more like a wish guide/things that I’ve been happy with in the last year that I wanted to share to give you ideas.
Every mom is as individual as any person in the world. I have a feeling the women in your life will love at least one of these items.
One of my favorite ways to switch up my looks are adding hair accessories. There are so many different options and they’re all so cute. I feel like I have a ton of scrunchies, but I’m always looking for more. I’ve been really into clips that can flip my hair all the way up. It changes the way my hair looks and they’re comfortable. My last favorite accessory lately is the other type of clip or barrette. Mila and I can share them and it gets the hair in front out of my face.
Here are some options and shops that I love. Seriously, my go to for my hair accessories.
Honestly, I LOVE all the options my Stitch Fix gives me and my stylist hits what I like every time. I like that these clothes are a mix of trendy and classic styles. Any time I wear one of my fixes, I get so many compliments. It’s been a great way of keeping my wardrobe updated, especially when I’m teaching every day.
If you have a fashionista in your life or someone who needs clothes, a Stitch Fix subscription is a great option. When you use this link, you’ll get $25 off your first fix! Believe me, you’ll love it!
I use skincare products twice a day, every day. You can imagine that I go through a decent amount of products. It’s always nice when I’m surprised with items that I have to buy a few times a year… especially because I’m going to use it and appreciate it so much.
Most people have their favorite skincare lines, but I listed the two I love to use below.
Eclectic Serenity – Local friends, I 100% recommend Kiersten’s products. They make my skin feel so good.
Little Seed Farm – I love their products too. Their goat’s milk moisturizer is one of my favorites. It keeps my skin feeling silky and refreshed.
My least favorite thing in the world to buy are bras. I feel like it’s hard to find the right size and trying them on can feel daunting. But all women deserve to feel comfortable in their skin and that starts with good undergarments.
I was gifted a few items from Adore Me and then signed up for the Adore Me VIP Membership. It’s a monthly membership that costs about $40. There’s all kinds of perks with it like a huge discount, free items, and you can skip months too. It sounds too good to be true, but I love the flexibility it gives it’s customers!
The best part about Adore Me is they have sizes and styles for everyone. Before I started shopping I looked up their fit guide that helped me figure out what size would be best for me there. After that, I easily found a ton of different sets that I needed to get! They also have the cutest lounge clothes and pajamas. There’s truly something for everyone at Adore Me. Their membership just is an added bonus.
To help the mom in your life feel their best about their body, an Adore Me VIP Membership will help them feel comfortable picking out the bras and panties that will work best for them and fit them perfectly too.
I promise, they’ll be feeling their best as well.
Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by ‘clean tok’ or any organizational videos on social media… *silently raises hand.*
I’m always in awe of how people share their organizational skills. It’s so satisfying to watch and I feel like their lives have to be less chaotic for it. The last few weeks, I’ve been trying to find good deals to help me out with my home organization too. There’s a ton more, but I linked three at the end of this section.
Personally, I would love to receive any organizational help. It would be a useful gift and in the long run it would start to feel amazing too. If you know any moms who are obsessed with watching these kinds of videos, I bet they’d love these too.
If you would look at my phone, you’d easily see that I have over 10,000 pictures on there. I’m constantly snapping pictures of what’s going on around me. The one thing I wish I would do more of is printing them out.
The first year of Mila’s life, I made a book a month to capture those moments. To this day, I still go back through them AND Mila loves being able to sit down and flip through the books too. They make such amazing keepsakes and I love how they hold up. For 2022, I’m going to make it a goal to start making photo books again.
I’d also love to receive one as a gift. If you’ve went on a trip with a mom in your life, it’d be fun to share those memories with her. Or fill it up with all your favorites. Either way, mom’s love photos and this would be a great gift.
Shutterfly – I used to make all my photo books here. They always turn out amazing and they have a free photo book every month if you have their app.
Chatbooks – I have not used this service yet, but I have been seeing amazing deals from them. I think it would be awesome to try out!
Mootsh – I haven’t used this service either but it prints out pictures each month for you to do as you please with them.
A day full of self care and pampering feels really nice. I love getting facials and my hair done, so any time it’s gifted to me, I feel extra special. All moms would love to have a spa day. There are a ton of local spas that have different specials. It’s a great way to give back to the local economy and you get to pick the best things that your loved one would want.
Another option would be for reiki sessions! It’s a different type of self care and relaxation that would be a great gift for moms. Need a reminder of what reiki is? Here’s my first experience with it.
Time to Themselves
As much as I love being around Mila and the craziness of our life… sometimes it’s just nice to have a break. Obviously, this could be paired up with a spa day, but sometimes alone time at home is all you need. Or maybe a movie out, a date night, or time with their friends. Whatever they need, it’s nice that they have that option.
I think asking for time alone is one of the hardest things for a mom to ask for. At least it is for me. If someone can offer that time or a night away, it could be a nice gift and you get to be around pretty cool kids too.
I don’t think there will EVER be a time that I’m disappointed about getting a candle for a present.
Not only does it make your house smell really good, they can be so relaxing. Any time I take a bath or just need a quiet minute, lighting a candle makes everything seem a little better.
Another awesome part about candles is being able to use the jars afterwards. I repurpose almost all of my candle jars to make plant propagation glasses or storage containers too. It’s sort of like two gifts in one!
AsYouWish – funky designed pots with a long burning time.
Spend Time With Them
The best gift for moms is just spending time with their family. At the end of the day, that’s what makes everything feel special.
I love just being able to have the time to spend with Mila. No matter if that’s a day of play, cuddling, or going somewhere, my time with her is absolutely priceless.
Hopefully when she’s older and wanting to know what to gift me, she can find this and decide to just spend the day with me.
The little moments are the best presents. Promise.
If you’re holiday shopping online this year, try Rakuten. It’s a way to shop online and get cash back at different stores. Honestly, it’s a great way to get a little back. I use it whenever I can. Right now, if you use this link, you can get $40 for just signing up… and it’ll give it back to me too. Who couldn’t use $40 extra dollars during the holiday season?
What do you think of this gift guide? As a mom or woman, what items would you add to your gift list? Let me know in the comments.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This year, I’m trying to start a new tradition with my family: a DIY Thanksgiving Gratitude Sign.
Since there’s been so many events, people, and things in general that have happened in our family, I thought it’d be special for everyone to write it all out. It’ll be a snapshot of gratitude.
Who doesn’t need a little dose of that?
Like this year’s Christmas Bucket List, our DIY Gratitude Sign only uses craft paper and markers. To make it a little more special, I used some left overs fall elements from a centerpiece.
Then, just add tape to the back and it’s ready to go.
I added the first three items to the list: family, health, and laughter.
After looking at it, I decided to add my name to the sign too. Hopefully all my family will so we can all see what everyone says.
I think this will be a beautiful tradition for my family. It’s something I want to do with Mila as she gets older. Even if she’s not in a positive space, I want her to know that I’m always thankful for her. Plus, sometimes the things you’re most thankful for are ‘small.’
This simple and easy to make gratitude sign will make a big impact on Thanksgiving Day.
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and holds their loved ones close this year and for as long as they can.
With that, I know so many people grieving through the holidays. They are so hard. I miss Jensen everyday and am so thankful that he was in my life. No matter if you can’t think of anything else to be thankful for, I know a name can be powerful. Write and say your loved ones names.
I know anytime I hear Jensen’s name, I’m so thankful others are thinking of him. I’ll never be able to thank him and Mila for choosing me to be their mom.
How do you talk about gratitude during the holidays? Do you have a tradition like this? Let me know in the comments.
In this house, playing with your food is encouraged; especially when it helps with learning!
This Pumpkin Pie Counting Paper Plate Activity is perfect to help kids get excited about Thanksgiving, number recognition, and counting. All in one activity.
Last week I got Mila’s first preschool assessment. Overall, she did amazing! Sometimes I forgot that she’s only three and a half because she’s so smart and social. It makes me so proud to be her mom.
These assessments also gave me an idea of what we need to be working on at home.
One thing I’m not good at are numbers. Math definitely wasn’t my favorite subject in school, so sometimes I forget to add it into our play.
In her assessment, she counted to fifteen and only recognized a few numbers. I know she can count to 20, but I honestly didn’t know about her letter recognition skills. So, that’s what we’re going to try snd do more of.
Since the holidays are right around the corner and we’re excited for pies, I thought this activity would be perfect.
All you need for it is:
Orange, white, and tan paint
To make the pumpkin pie paper plate, you first need to paint it. I used tan paint for the crust and orange for the filling.
The orange took me two coats of paint and three for the tan.
Next, I cut the plate into eight slices and wrote the corresponding numbers on them with white paint.
After it was all dry, I added some decoration to make it more sparkly for Mila and gave her cotton balls to count with.
She had a lot of fun counting the cotton balls, but I saw her work out the different numbers in her head too.
It was amazing to see that even if she didn’t know the number at first, she would count around to figure it out. Hopefully the more she sees them, the more she’ll know!
Either way, we had fun pretending it was a pie and eating it too. I love how fun learning is with her.
What are some ways to help kids with number recognition?
Mila and I are getting so excited for this holiday season. Although we’re trying to hold off most of our activities until after Thanksgiving, we’re feeling the pressure!
A good middle ground was to make our Christmas Bucket List 2021.
This isn’t the first time Mila and I have made a Christmas Bucket List. During her second Christmas in 2019, we made a similar one! We had a ton of fun getting to every item, but she didn’t grasp it like she will this year.
Bucket lists are fun because you can prepare for an upcoming season and list what you want to do. Then, any extras are just added fun.
All of our Christmas Bucket List items are easy to do and most will just be at home.
Here’s what we came up with:
Decorate the Christmas Tree
Put up decorations
Drink hot coco
Write a letter to a santa
Have treats for Santa and his reindeer
Sing Christmas songs and dance to them
Christmas movie night
Eat a candy cane
Go look at Christmas lights
Make wrapping paper
Make gingerbread houses/people
Make an ornament
Wear Christmas pajamas
Take family photos
Christmas on the Square
Have a Merry Christmas
I can’t wait to celebrate Mila’s FOURTH Christmas season with her. She’s already so excited for Santa and the magic behind it all. And… she already wants to cross the items off.
Even though we paused our list due to the pandemic last year, I figured we needed to bring it back and make it our tradition.
As always, we’ll be sure to share our holiday experiences, crafts, and activities. Stay tuned.
All I did to make the physical list was unrolled craft paper and drew on it with markers. It was easy to do and it feels like we have another huge and interactive Christmas decoration for the year.
What would you add to your Christmas Bucket List that I missed? Let me know in the comments.
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without tasty sides. Even though I love all the classics like stuffing and green bean casserole, this Jiffy Corn Casserole is a staple for our family’s Turkey Day!
Like the title of this post says, it’s so easy to make and will be the BEST Jiffy Corn Casserole you’ll ever have.
Intrigued to try? Here’s all you need to make it:
1 can of corn
1 can of creamed corn
2 large eggs
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 stick of butter
8 ounces of sour cream
1/4 cup of sugar
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, in a large bowl or your greased/nonstick sprayed casserole dish, mix in all the ingredients. Just mix until it’s all together, minus the corn!
Afterwards, stick the uncovered casserole dish in the oven for 45-50 minutes and you’re done.
The first time I ever made this recipe, I was shocked! It tasted so good. It’s almost like corn bread, but softer and better? I’m unsure how to explain it. My best comparison is to Chi-Chi’s corn side.
Hello to that Chi-Chi’s throwback!
If you don’t like corn casserole sweet, just take out the sugar and you can still make it. My family usually likes cheese on top of it too. If I decide to make the casserole with cheese, I’ll sprinkle shredded cheese on, then put it in the over to melt it.
It just makes it even tastier!
Mila usually helps me mix everything together, but it doesn’t take any time at all. It’s so easy and tasty that your family and/or friends will ask you to make it for all your get-togethers!
What’s your go to side to make for Thanksgiving or any other type of gathering?
Mila and my’s favorite part about this October was her Tiny Ghoul Gang Party. It was a fun way to get all of her friends together and celebrate Halloween!
She had been asking me for weeks about having a party. For some reason she was convinced that her birthday was this month… and not six months away. Instead of fighting that battle for six more months, we invited her preschool and dance friends over and had a Tiny Ghoul Gang Party.
When I first decided to throw this party for Mila, I came up with a pumpkin painting party idea. She loves painting and crafts and I figured her friends would too.
I had a ton of Halloween activity ideas pinned and saved on Instagram. There’s so many creative people in the world, I’m so thankful they share their ideas! It was easy to find things for the kids to do.
Thankfully it was minimal prep too!
The main party activity was pumpkin painting. We literally laid down an old blanket and table clothes, set out paint and brushes, then let the kids have at it. Honestly, they went right to wanting to paint pumpkins which took me by surprise. If I would have known that, I would’ve got the paint out beforehand. Thankfully, there was a great group of parents who immediately jumped in and helped out!
Besides paint, we also let the kiddos put googly eyes on their pumpkins to decorate too! They all turned out adorable.
This activity is messy. Obviously. If I were to do this again, I’d have found more tables or gotten pallets for the kids to use. Just to stabilize the pumpkins and keep the brushes and paint upright.
I just talked about these in another blog post. They’re one of my favorite Halloween activities and went pretty well with a big group of girls. The hardest part was finding the letters of all the girls’ names.
Before the party, I made all of the brooms. If I would do this activity again for kids, I would have their name beads already set out or put in a bag.
Again, there was an amazing group of parents their with us that helped out!
Technically I had three sensory areas set up, but we only got to two. The one sensory play idea that wasn’t used was a potion making station. I think that was fine because it ended up getting cold, which is never good mixed with wet clothes.
The one bin that was used the most was the spaghetti bin. There were eyeballs, fingers, and spiders that the kids could find. But, a couple of them (mostly Mila), ended up just eating the spaghetti… yum. They all did seem like they loved playing with this sensory bowl.
Maybe for the next Halloween party, I’ll do multiple cold spaghetti bowls.
In the other sensory bowl was ‘monster soup.’ It just had torn up tissue paper, Halloween colored sensory items (balls, pipe cleaners, etc). The girls really enjoyed this too!
Bobbing for Apples:
Like I stated above, the cold and water don’t really mix, but the girls really enjoyed trying this. It’s just your classic bobbing for apples game. The ones who participated did really good… the others volunteered to just eat the apples.
Halloween Egg Hunt:
Mila helped prep this activity. I found Easter eggs that looked like jack-o-lanterns at Target. We filled them up with candy and Mila spread them around the yard.
I’m not sure how well she hid them… but the kids loved running and finding them. It was an easy activity and got them playing independently.
We also had a few throwing activities that I didn’t get pictures of. One was to throw rings around pumpkin stems. Again, easy set up and fun! Then my mom found this game where you throw a ball in pumpkin styled cups. What kid doesn’t like throwing?
I think all the kids loved what we had set up. There was Halloween music playing in the background, so we got to see some dance moves too. When the kids didn’t have a guided activity, they just ran, talked, or played on the play equipment too. I don’t think any of them were ever bored during the party.
It was so much fun to see Mila’s favorite groups of friends come together.
I promise I had every intention of making this party have more food than dessert. It just didn’t manifest that way.
The food spread was mostly a dessert bar full of Halloween treats. To be honest, I bought all the desserts. I did not have time to make everything, besides adding extra Halloween sprinkles to the cake. Still, I loved how it turned out!
For the food, we had fruits, veggies, cream chicken, mummy hot dogs, and a skull meat and cheese plate. Plus, there were buckets of chips and a sweet Halloween mix too.
I was actually surprised with how much food was eaten. Of course I still had leftovers, but the majority of it was gone!
We also started a fire and had s’mores too.
To make it a little more special, I made Ghoul Gang shirts for the girls. I think they turned out adorable and even made myself a sweatshirt.
It made for really cute pictures and I love getting shirts, so I knew Mila’s friends would too.
We also made baskets for the kids to take too. It was just a trick or treat bucket filled with goodies for them to take home.
The best goodies for me was watching all of the ghouls having fun. Their smiles and laughs are the reason why any parent does what they do for their kids. I love that this group of girls get to grow up together. Just knowing Mila will have friends going into school and through life brings me so much peace for her.
I am so thankful for all the parents that let their kiddos come. Mila has talked about it almost every day since.
Throughout the madness of the day, Mila and I didn’t get a single picture at her party. This isn’t too crazy. We rarely remember to get pictures together.
Once we got home, she thanked me for her party and gave me a big hug. That’s when we got the picture.
I love being her mom and having the ability to do these types of things for her. Something tells me she’s going to be a kid that wants a party for all occasions. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to do it!
Even when life is crazy, it’s party days like those and the hugs after that make the hard parts worth it.
I can’t wait to see what we come up with for next year’s Halloween party.
Have you ever threw your child a Halloween party? What was your favorite activity at yours or Mila’s?
The best way to learn is through books! To introduce Mila to Halloween concepts, we’ve been reading a ton of different ones. Lately, Mila’s favorite has been Room on the Broom. We extended her learning by pairing the book with an activity to make handprint art.
Again, it’s another decoration that Mila and I will be able to look at in the future and remember our times when she was little!
I want to start off by saying, I most definitely helped Mila with this craft. Older kids could probably do this alone. But, I used hot glue, cut out the hat, and made the broom. Everything else she had a hand in making… literally.
First, I painted her hand with green paint. Then let her press it on the canvas to make the witch.
While it was drying, I assembled the broom and hat. For the broom I used this cute gold pipe cleaner for the base. Then I cut up ribbon to make the straw part of the broom. I combined them by making a loop with the pipe cleaner and twisting it off.
The hat was easy to make. All I did was cut out a witches hat on black paper and hot glued leftover pipe cleaner for the base of the hat.
When the green paint was dried, I hot glued down the broom and the eyes.
Next, we made the hair. I took a few pieces of orange yarn and braided it to look like the witch in the book. Mila loved helping cut out the pieces and was very impressed with how much it looked like the original witch. She’s finally impressed by my skills!
After that, we glued down the hat and added facial details and the night sky with a permanent marker.
Mila absolutely insisted on drawing the witch’s nose and the moon.
I absolutely love how this turned out… with all of Mila and I’s crafts. It’s festive and we put a lot of hard work into it. Doing a book pairing activity with her also underlines the importance of reading and teaching her that reading is fun and valuable.
Hopefully she’ll want to continue reading and extending upon those lessons in the future.
What’s your favorite Halloween book that we need to get next year?
It’s not secret, Mila and I LOVE Halloween. The one year, we went to a ton of trick or treats and had to be creative with different costumes every time. One of my favorites that we did was this DIY Halloween Costume of Minnie Mouse.
The best part about this DIY Halloween Costume was we had everything at home. BUT if you want to duplicate it, everything can be found on Amazon… which you can get in before Halloween!
We did this costume mostly because Mila was OBSESSED with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When she figured out what she looked like, she was so happy. I’d love to dress her up as Daisy one year because she has the attitude to accompany it.
There’s only five key pieces you really need to transform your little into Minnie or Mickey Mouse.
We didn’t buy any ears because I did space buns on Mila. I think it made it extra cute. PLUS… she couldn’t rip them off. That’s so important on Halloween nights, when you don’t really want to loose anything. Bows are easy enough to lose!
If we were to do this specific costume this year, I’d definitely do the black nose and maybe red lips too.
I love doing DIY costumes and finding cheaper options than just buying a specific one. For Mila’s costume this year, I bought EVERYTHING from Amazon. It turned out cuter than other options and she’s obsessed. Plus, we can reuse specific aspects of the costume too.
If you’re interested in more DIY or last minute costumes, let me know and I’ll do a few more.
What is your favorite DIY costume you’ve made? Let me know in the comments.
My entire house is fully prepped for Halloween! It’s been so fun to see the transformation. Our latest spooky DIY are these Skeleton Animal Glow Ups.
I have been back and forth with sharing these. They’re so creepy, but Mila loves them. Honestly, they’re sort of like a creepy Elf on a Shelf.
They were so easy to make and they fit our Halloween aesthetic. I found them at the Dollar Store for a dollar a piece. Not a bad price in my eyes; especially because it was a craft for both of us and they look so cute.
Cute as in… creepy. They can be both, right?
I will say, Mila had fun painting them, but it was a little tricky. She did them for a while, but I ended up finishing them.
If you do paint them and your kiddo wants to carry them around, I would suggest spraying them with a clear coat. It just helps the paint hold up a little longer. If you’re keeping them out of their hands, it should be okay!
Originally, I had them all on our dining room table. Like I said though, they’ve become our unofficial Halloween Elves on a Shelf.
I actually love how they turned out and will keep them for the years ahead.
Somehow they mesh really well with the white pumpkins and the general feel of my house. We like random things, so they make me smile.
Your Halloween decorations don’t have to be grand to make a statement. Sometimes all it takes is a little paint and a animal skeletons from the dollar store!
What’s your favorite way to decorate for this holiday: scary or pretty? Let me know in the comments.