Christmas Shopping: The Kid Edition

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So now that we’re past Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the massive deal days, I feel like I have an actual handle on my holiday list. Typically, the kiddos make up the bulk of our holiday shopping, and I was DETERMINED to get it wrapped up early this year. And while I haven’t quite checked everything off my list, I’ve gotten MOST of it done. At least for the kids. And let me tell you….does it feel good!

But, I feel like it can be tough to come up with great ideas for kids under the age of 5, mostly because they don’t really know what to ask for yet. I have a ton of friends who’ve been asking around for gift ideas, which has given me some really fabulous insight as to what everyone’s getting their kiddos for the holidays. And so, I’ve pulled together a little giftable list for the under 10 crowd…which you can check out below!

Infants

For the littlest of littles, use this as your Christmas stock up opportunity. Obviously the little littles don’t need a million toys to keep themselves occupied, but it’s fun to have a few new little things around. Tobbles, the FIsher Price stack and roll cups, teethers, etc. are all great finds.

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If your kiddo is getting close to walking, a walk behind rolling toy is a great choice – you could do one of the actual walkers, or even a shopping cart (my kids still adore playing with both!).

I’ve always done a super soft blankie and new lovey for this age group, and you can also use their stocking as an excuse to stock up on child proofing accessories. For these little ones, it’s easy to get them a smattering of fun new toys for less than $100, which feels like such a deal compared to my kids today!

2 and Under – Boys and Girls

At the younger ages, I’ve found this amazing trick for gift shopping. Step one: go to Amazon. Step two: type in Melissa & Doug. Step three: Peruse and buy. My kids have always LOVED anything we order from Melissa and Doug. The toys hold up super well, and they always have inventive things that you just can’t find anywhere else. And Amazon definitely has better prices than anywhere else for this brand.

Some of my favorites from last year: the pull back cars, the water wow books (AMAZING for kids ages 1-5), the latch puzzles, the bean bag toss game, the hungry pelican (Chris’s favorite and it’s on sale this week!), the birdhouse sorter (soft toy) and the soft building blocks. OH! And Mr. Potato Head. Ricky still plays with them, and Christopher loves them too!

Mr. Potato Head

I ordered a bunch of new stuff for the 2+ crowd on Black Friday for Christopher this year, and on Thursday and Friday of this week, I’ll be opening up my Amazon purchases for Christopher for THIS Christmas on Facebook Live – be sure to follow if you want to check them out!)

Pretend cell phones have always been a hit with my kids at this age, bath toys are super fun, and anything that moves (trucks, helicopters, emergency vehicles) are always well loved around here.

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And oftentimes I’ll go with a theme for the bulk of my kids’ gifts. When Ricky was 2, Santa brought him a train table and train set, then we also got him toys that he could play with on top of the train table, like duplos and a race car track. This year, they’re getting a kitchen from Santa and we’ll stock up on pots and pans, food, etc.

3 to 5 year olds

This is the age when kids start to really get into electronics. There are tons of “starter” style devices your kids can try. The Leap Pad is a great one. We have an older tablet that we now dub the kids’ tablet, letting Ricky pick out new apps and games (and getting the full version of the games) is a huge treat. If you’re looking for a good kids’ tablet that’s actually kid friendly, Nabi makes on that has awesome reviews.

All that said, we limit screen time at our house, and try to keep the kids focused on “real” toys more often than not. Legos are a huge hit around here. Ricky got started on the Juniors sets last Christmas, which helped him really get the hang of using the instructions and building. He’s graduated to some of the more difficult sets now, and that’s literally the only thing on his Christmas list.

kinetic sand

Kinetic sand, plus some shape molds or construction vehicles, are a huge hit at our house. Although I will say to get a nice, deep bin for your kids to play in. Originally I had Ricky dump it into a glass Pyrex dish at the table when he wanted to play, and a lot would fall over the edges onto the table, and it totally scratched up my kitchen set.

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Make believe is so big, too. Pretend workshops, shopping carts, doll stuff, dress up clothes – all of this stuff makes for a GREAT Christmas gift. We have a big basket of dress up options that I pull out when the weather gets cold, and my kids love pretending. Construction toys have been a much loved item at our house as well (and we have the giant sized bin to prove it!).

ricky and his telescope

Another theme that was really fun for Ricky recently was his space-themed birthday. We found a nice kids telescope on Amazon for around $60, it came with lots of solar system maps, and also got him space-themed books and puzzles, and the KidKraft Space Station to play with. It’s been a HUGE hit!

Go for Experiences

Experience-based gifts are a big part of our holiday/birthday giving as well. Usually I’ll time a fun trip to the Zoo or the Children’s Museum with a birthday or a holiday, and we just spend the day seeing all the things that they have to offer.

trip to the zoo

This year, Ricky’s asked for ice skates and hockey lessons, so we might give that a try during his week off from school. Our local Children’s Theater also has lots of matinee performances that are a fun treat for the 3-5 crew!

Art Supplies

I like to stock up on age-appropriate art supplies for the kiddos at Christmastime, too. They make great stocking stuffers! You can get great deals on construction paper, glue, kid scissors, markers, crayons, etc. on Amazon as “add-on” items for your orders. I also find tons of great stickers in the dollar section at Target. Also, Ikea has tons of basic art supplies for pretty cheap stock up items.

art easel

And if you’re looking for some of the extra fun art supplies, try the Do a Dot paint markers, Kwik Stix solid tempura paint sticks (current favorite at my house – we LOVE how concentrated the color comes out!), Wiki Stix, and the Alex art kits (which you can sometimes find in the dollar section at Target, too).

Up Next: shopping for the hubs

So, what’s on YOUR list for the kiddos this year?

Munki Munki: the perfect pajamas ever **Discount + GIVEAWAY!**

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Christmastime is legit my favorite time of year. It’s so magical, and there are so many ways to make it fun, especially now that I have kids of my own. And new pajamas are totally part of our yearly celebration – seriously!

We have a sneaky elf that likes to visit us throughout the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, leaving fun little treats for the boys, and sometimes for mom and dad. No, we don’t do elf on the shelf. I’d LOVE to do the elf on the shelf, but I don’t have the planning or creativity to do it all that well…so we just have an elf who leaves notes and treats every 2-3 days at this time of year.

One of the treats we all look forward to is our new Christmas jammies! Usually, I just grab a new set for everyone at Target. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s already somewhere we’re stopping in our normal routine. But this year, Munki Munki reached out and asked to share some of their jammies with this mama, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Now, I’ll be the first one to tell you that shopping for pajamas is not a really exciting endeavor for me. It’s one thing on the list that needs to be checked off from time to time. And I have to say, I wasn’t expecting anything quite so…luxurious…until these amazing pajamas showed up on my doorstep. And I can truthfully say that my perception of pajamas has been forever changed by this brand.

Whoever said all pajamas are created equal was lying.

I have never owned a pair of pajamas this soft and comfortable in my life. And this is coming from a girl who used to lounge in Victoria’s Secret pajamas all the time around the house.

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The fabric is breathable, and the print is super cute. The detailing goes beyond any brand I’ve seen. From the adorable complimentary colors of the wristbands, to the venting at the ankles, to the thumbholes and monkey detailing, Munki Munki really thought of everything.

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And the fit is so perfect. Most of their designs come in a bunch of different fits, so that you can get the one that’s most comfortable and flattering to your body type. For example, I adore thermal jammies, but my body’s like a furnace when I’m pregnant, so the timing just isn’t right for more thermals in my closet. But I found the same print I loved in their thermals in a henley style, and I have to say that it was the perfect choice.

munki munki jammies giveaway

They’re safe for after having a baby.

Well, really, they’re safe for after any surgery. That’s because 70% of the fabric is made from bamboo, which is antibacterial and moisture wicking. Since I’m planning to have another c-section with this baby, I’ll definitely be grabbing a couple pairs of new jammies prior to delivery.

You can get a discount.

Munki Munki tends to be sold in stores like Nordstrom, although they do have a few lines at Target, too. But if you buy directly from Munki Munki and use the code 102AmpMunki16, you can get your own special discount just in time for Cyber Monday and the holiday season! I’m definitely going to order another pair for the elves to leave as my Christmas jammies this year, too. I <3 them that much! And if you want to get in on a great giveaway, you can try to WIN a pair of Munki jammies of your choice just by entering our giveaway below! Every task you check off gets you an entry into the contest - and let me tell you...if you're a mama who likes to relax at the end of the day, these are the jammies (ahem, LOUNGEWEAR) for you.   xoxo
This post was sponsored by Munki Munki. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Pregnancy #4 + busy mom + morning sickness

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The other day, I was thinking about the person I was when Rick and I were dating, and we were dreaming about the future. Those days when I was like, “oh yeah, we’ll have four kids for sure.”
 
And then we had Ricky, baby number one, and life was soooo simple. Take care of baby, work while baby sleeps, rinse and repeat. Of course, it didn’t feel so simple at the time, but looking back? Heck yes, taking care of one infant was a walk in the park.
 
Then Ricky got mobile, and things started to get a little harder. It was harder to work while he was home, so I started getting up earlier. It was harder to balance our days, but still – it was manageable.
 
And then the activities started. And then we had two kiddos – a toddler, and a baby. Things were definitely harder. But they weren’t overwhelming until Chris got mobile. Holy crap, my friends, was that a game changer.
 
And here we are today. 5 years older than when I got pregnant with Ricky. My body has stretched in every possible way it can stretch. My MIND has stretched in what feels like every possible way it could stretch. Pregnant again, with what feels like the hardest possible first trimester ever.
 
I’m not sure if it’s the I’m older thing, or I have two other kids to chase after, or we’re just busier, but man – this time around is really taking a toll. I’ve had awful morning sickness, and don’t even get me started on the exhaustion.
 
Let me tell you – being a busy working mom with constant morning sickness? Not such a good combo. Thankfully, things are starting to look up. I’m starting to feel better, at least beyond the whole crippling-nausea-slash-puking-thing, which is a HUGE sigh of relief.
 
That said, pregnant mom with 2 young kiddos is not a walk in the park. I’ve actually told my husband that if any of our previous pregnancies had been like this, we would not have continued having babies…and maybe that’s the hormones talking, but hey. It’s intense, mamas. Because it’s been a little stressful, trying to figure out balance and all, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for managing a job, a household, kids, activities…all the THINGS…while pregnant.
 

Work from home as much as you can.

One of the major bonuses to what I do? As long as I’m not with a client, I can work from home. And that means when I feel like I need a snack, there’s lots of options available right upstairs. If I need to lie down for 30 minutes while my Zofran kicks in, I can make that happen. And if I just need a second shower, because between getting the kids out the door, getting my work rolling for the day and the fact that being pregnant basically makes me feel like a furnace, I can make that happen. And not feel bad about it. At all.
 
So: work from home as much as you can. It takes a ton of the stress out of your day, and makes it much easier to balance those pregnancy…issues…that pop up.
 

Drink lots of liquids.

Having something different to drink every hour is for some reason a nausea killer. Especially cold drinks on ice. My personal faves: the sparkling teas at Caribou, lime flavored sparkling water, and those sugar free drink mixes you can add to your ice water (grape, fruit punch and raspberry lemonade are my jam). I’m basically BFFs with anything that makes me feel less pukey these days.
 

Get lots of protein in your diet

More protein = happier belly. I’m not quite sure why this works out, but it works wonders. I start my day with a Shakeology shake, and I have tons of the Chobani yogurt (the kids yogurt tubes, and yes, I know) in my fridge to snack on throughout the day. Berries and grapes have also been a lifesaver – I think it’s because they’re so water dense.
 

Go to bed early.

The best thing I can do at this point is get a lot of sleep. If I go to bed late, or am up a lot at night, it’s basically a guarantee that the following day will be spent on the couch. On top of Zofran, I’m also doing the B6 + Unisom combo (ask your doctor about it if you have no idea what I’m talking about), and I’m at the point where I *think* I’m actually over the Zofran. LIFE.SAVER.
 

When you can, exercise.

It sounds really dumb, but believe it or not, getting exercise actually helps me feel better. When I’m really hit hard by the morning sickness, it’s about all I can do to get out for a little walk around the block. But as I’m feeling better, I’m able to jump on the treadmill for short bursts, life weight, and even do a little PiYo. And if I’m being completely honest, getting in a little activity has been really good for my overall self-esteem.
 
(Ok, I’m just going to add a note about the fact that you should check with your doctor before you start working out as a pregnant mama, because it may or may not be a good time to jump start your fitness, depending on yourself and your pregnancy).
 
So tell me in the comments: how do/did you power through the preggo ickies as a busy mama?

xoxo

Faux Real: Mix Up Your Style This Holiday Season (COUPON + GIVEAWAY!)

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I know, I know. We’re coming out of a major election that’s got your social media feed driving you absolutely crazy, and you just want a little something POSITIVE infused in your life this week. Which is exactly why I wanted to share something fun, and off the beaten path, but PERFECT for the holiday season that we’re heading into.

Really, you guys, there’s nothing better to put a smile on your face than planning for some of your holiday parties. Specifically, the ugly sweater party. Or your kiddo’s classroom holiday party, or the office holiday potluck. Or girls night out with your friends, or your book club, or your mom’s group.

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And that’s exactly why I’m LOVING these super fun shirts from Faux Real! Not only are they totally unexpected, they have a range of styles and sizes that fit nearly the whole family. And they’re super lightweight, which means you don’t get A) that nasty itchy feeling that old wool sweaters always offer and B) the hot sweats, because the shirt is lightweight and breathable. I sent Chris to “school” in his Christmas shirt today (because NOVEMBER, which basically means Christmas season) and he, along with his other 18 month old friends, literally loved it.

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My hubs was not so thrilled that I was making him dress up in an ugly Christmas sweater in early November, but he came around when he saw just how sweet the matching set for him and Christopher turned out to be

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And I thought the ugly Christmas dress was HILARIOUS. And super comfortable. My pregnant self was surprised by just how soft the fabric was! And this is seriously going to be my new uniform (along with a giant mug of hot chocolate) for wrapping Christmas presents this year. I mean, honestly, what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to actually WEAR the wrapping paper on your shirt? Thought so.

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Other ideas for these fun, affordable shirts: give them as a Secret Santa gift. Host an ugly sweater party. Share them at your white elephant gift exchange. Dress your young ones up for Christmas (the Santa suit is my favorite!). Wear them for your photos with Santa.

Want more? Well, I really want YOU to be able to get your hands on one or two of these adorable shirts. Which means we have a sweet deal for you! You can get 25% off of your Faux Real order with the discount code 103AmpFauxReal16.

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Fun shirts for parents, ADORABLE shirts (and onesies!) for the kids. Now this is a fun new holiday tradition I can get on board with! Want to win a set of your own? Enter the contest below!

xoxo

This post was sponsored by Faux Real. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Sometimes, You Need an Excuse to Get Dressed Up

ritecare
I remember my younger days. Back before we had kids, and demanding careers, when Rick and I would go out for leisurely dinners. When we’d grab cocktails with friends on Friday night like it was no big deal. When my girlfriends and I would get dressed up for an event, or plan a long weekend trip to Scottsdale, just to sit in the sun and shop.

Somehow, those days dwindled when we got pregnant with Ricky. I think that’s the way it goes with your first pregnancy – you’re so in awe of how everything’s changing, and exhausted, and time seems to move so slowly yet so quickly at the same time. And then suddenly you have this sweet baby, and it kind of takes up all your time, and you don’t WANT to find a sitter because you actually enjoy staying home on Saturday night to just hang out, which really means ordering take out, renting a movie and falling asleep before it’s over because you’re so tired, but won’t admit it.

And life goes on, and more things and kids and obligations and work commitments come up, and you realize it’s been a while since you’ve been on an actual <em>date</em> with your spouse.

Have I ever told you that Rick and I got so busy, that we didn’t go out on a date for about a year at one point? True story. We actually realized that we needed to be more intentional about spending one-on-one time together, got our crap together and try to have regular date nights a couple times a month.

But date nights in the ‘burbs are pretty casual, my friends, and sometimes a girl needs to feel like there’s a reason to get all dressed up. And that came for us recently – when our friends invited us to the RiteCare Gala for an actual Casino Night a couple of weekends ago.

You know what? It’s NICE to dress up every once in a while. It’s nice to have a reason to wear the clothes that must be dry cleaned, and get out on the town a bit. I realized when we were at the event that the last time we got really dressed up was a year ago, when we were in Vegas, and a year is a looooong time to go without a reason to wear something kind of fancy.

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We had a blast at the event. We met new people, and learned about the incredible cause that RiteCare supports. They help kids with speech and language disorders learn how to communicate. It’s so important for kids to be able to communicate – in fact, it’s something that directly correlates to their success in life – and they make that a possibility for kids who need help. And you know what? They don’t charge them a dime. Isn’t that AMAZING?

Another bonus for the night: I learned that I’m a total natural at craps. At least, I am when I’m gambling with pretend money. We all have to have our own skills, friends. Apparently, this one is mine. emoticon

So my point in all of this, is that we should all find an excuse to get out and dress up every once in a while. Beyond the usual date night, it’s a ton of fun to wear something you wouldn’t normally wear, break out the fun shoes and do your hair. And if you can support a great cause in the process, all the better!

xoxo