Monday, November 26, 2012

Gift Idea: Hostess Gifts that Give

A few weeks ago my friend Justice Fergie wrote a great post about hostess gifts for her Happy Holiday Countdown. I commented that I love giving hostess gifts because it gives me an excuse to buy extra cute little items when I'm shopping. (You know, for my stash!)

But then a little later, I heard from Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign about their really beautiful holiday cards.

On the back, they have a message that lets the recipient know that a donation has been made to Share our Strength to provide healthy food for kids who are hungry.

Wouldn't one of these be a fabulous hostess gift? There's room on the card for a personal note and I know that if I received one of these with a heartfelt message from a friend along the lines of, "Thank you for your wonderful hospitality this holiday season. In your honor I've made a gift to Share our Strength to help more families are happy and healthy this year!" -- I'd be absolutely thrilled.

For a suggested donation of just $45 you could have five of these cards on hand this December.

Here's a little bit more about why No Child Hungry is so important:

Disclaimer: This post isn't sponsored; I didn't receive anything in return for writing it. I just think these cards and the cause are important so wanted to share them with you!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


In my on-going quest to Do Creative Things and in line with my love of mailing written correspondence, I was inspired by these beautiful Thanksgiving printables by Oana Befort on Sincerely, Kinsey which I first saw on How About Orange. (Whew! I think that credits everyone!)

I even used some scrapbook paper to make custom envelopes for them!

I only ended up actually writing and mailing three and I also hid a special one for Abel to find when he opened his laptop one day. It was a fun project and, although I have a million people that I'm grateful for, I was happy to send the three out that I did.

And, of course, you don't really need Thanksgiving to express gratitude so I'll keep the extra copies close by.

Dear Readers, I'm so thankful for you, too!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gift Idea: Family Membership

I believe I've mentioned once or 500 times that both of my boys' birthdays are close to Christmas. That means that the explosion of gifts is even crazier and it also means that we run out of gift ideas. Last year was one of those instances. If I recall correctly, my parents got the boys each one or two gifts but then were stumped. When my mom asked me for more ideas, I was stumped, too!

And then I remembered a friend mentioning that they asked for and received a family membership to a different museum/attraction each year.


So my parents got us a family membership to Port Discovery in Baltimore. And we've enjoyed the heck out of it! Not only have we been to Port Discovery many more times than we normally would have gone, we've also taken advantage of the reciprocal membership at children's museums when visiting my in-laws in Ohio. The children's museums in Columbus and Toledo are reciprocal members--score!

Of course we adore--and do take advantage of--the blessing of living close to the free Smithsonian museums, but there are also great museums and attractions that do charge. A family membership is a gift that literally keeps on giving throughout the year. And -- bonus! -- it doesn't add clutter and can't be lost or broken!

What are some creative gift ideas you've given or received? (Seriously, please share, we're always looking for new ideas!!!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trusting Our Instincts

I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is trusting your instincts, especially when it comes to the health of your children. How many times have I been absolutely certain that one of the boys had an ear infection, only to have the doctor tell me everything was perfectly clear? Or what about the times when I thought it was just a cold but it ended up being a "raging" ear infection?

After a few months of wonder and worry, Abel and I sought out some extra help for Nathaniel last year when he wasn't talking. I'm so glad that we did!

I wrote all about it over at The DC Moms and I'd love for you to go check it out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 5, 2012


On Friday, October 12, I decided to start a fitness routine and join several of my friends and neighbors at Planet Fitness 3x a week. They carpool over, leaving town at 5:15am. Upon arrival, one of the women leads strength training for 30 minutes and then everyone branches off to do their own cardio for another 30 minutes, getting everyone home by about 6:45.

Just in case you aren't aware, I am NOT a morning person! (NOT being an understatement!) But, I was committed because everything else was so perfect:
  • I really, really needed to start an exercise program. 
  • The gym is only $10 a month.
  • I am totally unmotivated and uncommitted on my own (read: willing to hit snooze a dozen more times) so going with others provides the accountability I need.
  • I have no idea what to do when I get to a gym, so having a leader design routines is perfect.
I started off on Monday, October 15, and felt GREAT.

Until later that afternoon, when I felt not-so-great. By 1pm I was running a fever! I headed home and to bed. And here's the crazy part: that fever ended up lasting -- on and off -- until Sunday, October 28! Worried after just four days, I went to the doctor on October 18. After blood and urine tests, the Dr. concluded that it was just a virus that needed to run its course. I started feeling better on Oct. 20 & 21 (partly, I believe, through force of will as we had a wedding to attend!). And then got worse and worse, with Sunday, Oct. 28th being the worst day.

Worried that I wouldn't be able to get back to the Dr. for days after Hurricane Sandy hit, I went to an urgent care on the 28th. That Dr. confirmed the same thing: all test results look great, nothing else is wrong, just a very strange and long-lasting virus.

Finally Hurricane Sandy blew my virus away (I'm giving her credit anyway b/c of the two "free" days off work!) and I was back to normal by Oct. 30.

So now I'm back on the exercise bandwagon, and even though I'm tired and sore, I much prefer feeling my muscles burn rather than my forehead!

Oh, and can I please get the second half of October back??

{Props MUST be given to my fantastic husband who literally held the fort down for those two weeks, handling 95% of everything so I could rest. He's the best!!!}

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Making a new friend

Since Lucas started at a neighborhood, in-home daycare at three mos., he immediately had a built-in set of friends, many of whom and their family remain wonderful friends for our entire family today. And since so many of Lucas's friends have younger siblings, or Abel and my friends have young children, Nathaniel also got a built-in set of playmates.

The other night, one of these families came over for dinner and a quick marshmallow roast. Their oldest was one of Lucas's earliest daycare friends and their youngest is just a few months younger than Nathaniel. The boys, E. and Nathaniel, have been around each other many, many times. But for whatever reason -- their ages 2 1/2 and 2 3/4 -- or the fact that their older siblings were ignoring them, the boys were playing with each other and truly interacting for the first time.

It was so incredibly adorable!!

The moon was full (this was just a few days before Sandy swept into town!) and at one point they were both running around with small nets. E. looked up and threw his arm and the net into the air and announced he was going to "catch the moon." Nathaniel quickly joined him and they spent several minutes jumping and extending their little nets into the air while exclaiming, "Catch the moon! Catch the moon!"

I do believe the moms' hearts melted at that very instant.

It was so fun to watch my baby make his very own friend and I look forward to many, many years ahead of this friendship developing. Next year, they'll both be in the same preschool class and then soon after that they'll start kindergarten together as well.

Here's to new -- and hopefully life-long -- friendships!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

I feel like we did barely any prep for Halloween this year. Basically, Abel opened up a bag of hand-me-down costumes from my cousin and Nathaniel fell in love with Spiderman while Lucas was pretty psyched about the skeleton. Done and done!

Spiderman was missing his mask, which was fine because we're certain Nathaniel wouldn't have tolerated it anyway. It was nearly impossible to get a photo of this adorable little guy because he loved loved loved his costume and was a ball of energy in it!

We had impulse-purchased this awesome hat for Lucas when we bought his new batch of uniform pants over Columbus Day. The band is hard to see, but it's skulls inside of paisley. It's super-cool and we weren't even thinking of Halloween when we bought it. We painted his face for the Saturday town parade, but Lucas really didn't like it.

So here's the crew last night. Lucas went without any make-up and, in my humble opinion, was a super-cool skeleton. Abel jumped in on the fun this year, too.

Here's a close-up of the clown that surely terrified children all over town last night. 
Creepy or what??

The boys trick-or-treated for about an hour while I handed out candy. Then, Abel and Nathaniel stopped by a friend's house for some adult libations (and juice boxes!) while Lucas came home to help me hand out candy. I honestly think he had more fun handing out candy than anything else. He was freaking adorable! He even gave a lollipop to every adult who had even a bit of a costume on, saying in a grand voice, "My rule is you have a costume you get candy!" It was hysterical! That kid has a joie de virve that I pray he never, ever loses.

As for me, in raiding the loot, I have rediscovered how delicious Baby Ruth's are. Yum!!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!