Monday, December 15, 2014

My mom life: "Why hasn't this been invented yet?"

If I had a penny (haha, so punny) for how many times a day I think "there's gotta be a better way of doing this," "why hasn't that been invented yet?" or "is there an app for that?!" then I'd probably be writing this post from my office in my winter getaway tropical cabana. You too, right?

I think that moms are some of the most driven people to innovate new ideas because in the midst of our daily lives while we're trying to accomplish whatever it is we're trying to do, we've got the littles pulling us in the opposite direction. Bless their angelic little hearts, but whether you work inside or outside of the home, you know this plight. So many times a day I'm caught doing the same work over again (Ruby now finds it hilarious to unpack everything that I just put away into a drawer two seconds ago) or I'm literally juggling two kids and 5 bags of groceries. My stress level heightens, I become a crabby mom and sometimes there are days where it doesn't look like I did anything at all. I think to myself "there's got to be another way."

Well, to be honest, all of the innovating juices in this family come from my engineer husband and I am awfully pleased with myself when I go on a crafting spree and have something cute to show in the end. That's the limit of my creativity! So I will be relying on another mom who's had enough of whatever it is that's holding her back to come up with a better solution. "Like" if you get me.

Did you know that there's this new website, Mumzy, that speaks to all those things? At Mumzy, moms with ideas come to this place with a crowdfunding campaign and work with professional resources to help develop her small business. 

Mumzy is the first and so far only crowdfunding network for moms. This unique project tailors their support to this specific demographic because we, more often than anyone else, are faced with those problems and questions that I shared earlier. The US Census estimates that there are 82.5 million mothers of all ages in the US and with 4 million babies being born annually (Source: eMarketer, 2013), we've got a lot of incentive to be inventive. 

But what if you are like me and aren't really an innovative problem solver? Mumzy also gives you the option to explore the current campaigns and support the ones you love! Currently there are four live campaigns on Mumzy and as the network grows and raises awareness, who knows what mom will be inspired to fix that annoying problem that you, I and every other mom deals with? How exciting is that?

What I like about each campaign is that they feature a high quality video that tells you about the cause. Each one also outlines different incentives for however much you choose to donate - from a facebook shout out to a cameo in a video they produce. Mumzy is offering their own incentive to boost interest - the first 100 people who post a project to MUMZY will have a chance to win $1,000 back towards their project's funding goal!

Are you that mom who's been holding onto that great idea that's going to be a game changer for all of us? 

Disclosure: I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Getting toddlers involved in the holidays

Toddlers are such a handful at times, but when things are good, it's pure magic with them. This year the spirit of Christmas is making a big impact on my 2 1/2 year old, Penny, and I have been going through a list of holiday activities with her. Here's a few ideas to help you get going on how to get your toddler involved during the holidays:

1. Picking out the tree together
2. Creating ornaments (we bought a couple ceramic ones from our local craft store and I let her paint them)
4. Cookies! Check out our experience below
5. More Christmas candy, like dipping chocolate covered pretzels and decorating with sprinkles
5. Make garlands using pom poms, popcorn, cheerios, macaroni noodles, cotton balls, beads
6. Hand print crafts
7. Felt board stories
8. Read Christmas books together
9. Make scented playdoh
10. Create Christmas cards
11. More craft ideas: make candy canes with beads and pipe cleaners, Popsicle stick ornaments, salt dough hand and foot prints, pom pom wreaths

I'm a baker at heart and it's been a long time dream of mine for the day when my daughters can help create goodies for our family. So last Christmas Adam made a kitchen step stool station for the girls that will safely bring them to counter level. While Ruby rode along for the ride, Penny and I got started with decorating our first cookies together.

Because fun and being mindful of the time (for both the toddler's and infant's attention span!) was of the utmost importance, I used Toll House Rolled & Ready Cookie Dough. Toll House has 4 different flavors of pre-rolled cookie dough to choose from, and I chose sugar cookie because that's a family favorite! The dough was already rolled out the the appropriate thickness so from Penny's standpoint the fun was ready to begin!

I showed her how to gently press the cutter into the cookie dough (just like how we practice with playdoh) and I moved the cut shapes to a cookie sheet for her. Following the instructions on the package, we let them bake and fully cool before moving on to the decorating portion of our activity. Meanwhile, we played with the playdoh from item #9 above because she wasn't done using the cookie cutters!
For the decorating portion I made a simple frosting using solid coconut oil.
4 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 cup solid coconut oil
5 T milk
1 t vanilla extract
food coloring
Cream together the coconut oil and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in milk and vanilla until it is smooth and stiff. Add a couple drops of food coloring until you get the color you desire. 

And then I was reminded of the valuable lesson about toddlers. Even when your plans are laid out perfectly, things hardly ever go as planned. 

Once the cookies were done baking and had cooled, I showed Penny the frosting that I had made and laid out all the sprinkles for her to choose from. SUPER excited. I slathered on the frosting onto each cookie and laid them out onto a piece of butcher paper for her.

And then things took a 180° turn. Suddenly, according to the toddler, all sprinkles MUST be put away and the frosting MUST be removed from the cookies. NOW. Like "mama give me a wipe, no no no no frosting on these cookies pleaaaaaaaaaaaase!"

Friends, life's greatest mysteries are not about Nessie, the Bermuda Triangle or Stonehenge. It's toddlers. No one will ever understand why.

And there you have it. Mothers dream about the day when we get to bake cookies with our sweets for the first time and how magical it will be. In my case, I was spared the flour dust parties (thanks to the pre-made cookie dough!), and I even thought it was smooth sailing until the end...and then true to form, my daughter makes it interesting at the very end!

Find out more about Rolled & Ready Cookie Dough Sheets 
Share your favorite toddler friendly holiday activity (or toddler friend holiday activity fail!)

Disclosure: Thank you to Nestle Toll House for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to create and decorate delicious cookies with NestlĂ© Toll House Rolled & Ready Cookie Dough Sheets!

Healthy Transformations

Today's discussion is sponsored by Sara Lee®. Read on for my transformation, learn about 45 Delightful People and healthy options from Sara Lee® Delightful Bread!

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Is it an understatement to say that this year has been a year of big changes around here? But isn't it for everyone, every year?

With Ruby's birth in March and Penny turning 2 in the same month, I learned quickly that I had to re-evaluate what is important to me and how to best manage my time. After all, not only did I need to survive the sometimes harrowing journey of motherhood, I wanted to thrive. I didn't want this year to be a "hard year," instead I focused on it being a "learning year." And that meant making some serious changes.

The biggest change that I made is accepting that I can't do it all myself. I can't always be the #1 caretaker (as I had tirelessly been with Penny), I finally admitted that I'm not a tidy person and never will be, laundry (especially cloth diapering 2 at the same time) will always be a daily chore and honestly (as much as I take true joy and pride in it), not every meal snack and treat will be made from scratch. If I wanted to maintain my sanity, keep a sense of myself, be a good wife and mom, I needed to just let it go and accept help when it's offered...

Can't all moms take a lesson in that? It's so hard!

Many of us use new year resolutions as a way to change for the healthier. Eat better, go to the gym more often, lose that holiday weight. This year's goal will be for an improvement in mental health. I will take time for myself more and not only accept help but ask for it. My hope is that I'll be a less-stressed mom and it'll show in my parenting and relationships.

Do you have a transformation that you want to share? 
Enter it in the Sara Lee® 45 Delightful People campaign and automatically get a free t-shirt and possibly be one of the 45 winners semi-finalists or the grand prize winner of $4,500!

If you're looking for ideas for other healthy transformations, check out Sara Lee® Delightful Breads. They are delicious and only have 45 calories per full-size slice. You can find them in oatmeal, whole wheat, Healthy Multi-Grain and wheat. They are heart-healthy and provide an excellent source of fiber and best of artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sara Lee®.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lights Extravaganza! Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach

The holidays are so full of traditions! Our family traditions include Candy Day, pierogies, cutting down a tree from the woods and a big favorite for the kids - The Lights of Christmas.
If you're a Seattle local, this is a light show you do not want to miss. My husband and I have been to most of the large light shows between Seattle and Portland and we keep going back to Lights of Christmas in Stanwood because it's such an awesome experience!
The Lights of Christmas is at Warm Beach Camp, just an hour north of Seattle. Warm Beach Camp is a Christian camp and conference center that lights up 15 acres with over one million lights during the month of December. The truly stunning lights displays are the best I've ever seen, but what sets this festival apart from the rest is all the other fun activities!
It's a truly festive experience with live carolers, plays, choirs, story telling, arts and crafts, shopping, a gorgeous Nativity scene and so much more. Here's what our experience was like this past weekend.

Most of my husband's immediate family showed up to walk the Lights of Christmas together. Penny ran around with four of her cousins while Ruby enjoyed being passed around and carried by the adults. As soon as we walked through the gates, we beelined for the closest donut stand and ordered probably a dozen packages of freshly made donuts and multiple cups of hot cider and cocoa. You cannot go to the Lights of Christmas and miss out on the donuts!

Next on our agenda was Bruce the Talking Spruce. It's adorably corny, just a tree with a face and a mysterious voice coming through and talking to the guests. You'd think that it was a pre-recorded voice, but they have a camera rigged up and "Bruce" really talks to you! He'll ask the children specific questions (asking "the little girl in pink") and impart a few tree jokes. What's a tree joke? Well, for example...

Our group of kids weren't scared of him and just had a great time talking to him.

Afterwards we filled up on more goodies (kettle corn) and headed over to the Polar Express Train, which drives around the camp.  No Lights of Christmas experience would be complete without a pony ride (according to the girls) so we headed over to the corral.

Our final stop for the evening was at the petting zoo, where there were llamas, goats and sheep.

20800 Marine Drive
Stanwood, WA 98292

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by The Lights of Christmas. We were so honored to be invited to the event, we simply love it! All opinions are my own

Sunday, December 7, 2014

God Bless Our Christmas

As Christmas approaches, I've been pulling out my decorations and books that have been tucked away for a year. One of my favorites is pulling out the Christmas books - Rudolph, The Polar Express, Frosty and The Velveteen Rabbit. This year we've added a couple to the stack and we've been really enjoying reading God Bless Our Christmas to the girls.

God Bless Our Christmas is an adorable book that takes the child through different winter activities (illustrated with polar animals, my favorite!). 

It's easy to let the Big Guy In Red or his mischievous little helper take over Christmas. The idea of these seasonal characters is fun, exciting and different for children. I get it, I also have really fond memories of Christmas-time and many of them revolve around Santa and I want my girls to experience the same magic that he brings. But do you know who else accomplishes great feats in unbelievable circumstances? God. And he's not limited to a time of year or delivers only if we're good. 

This year will be Penny's first season of emerging awareness of Santa.  Because of how highly commercialized his image has become it's very easy for children to think that he's what Christmas is about. So using this book, as well as other developmentally appropriate stories and learning tools, we'll begin to teach her the reason for the season and the story of Jesus's birth.

The end of the book brings it all back to God's gift and the celebration of Jesus' birth. It's a wonderful, short book that points out the experiences that children will probably have during the holidays and a reminder of the blessings we're given.

Win it!
Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher that includes books for kids and teens.  One Pierogie Mama reader will win a copy of God Bless Our Christmas! Check out how to win below.
Read my other Thomas Nelson Christian Children Book reviews:
I love you all the same

Disclosure: I am a Tommy Nelson Mommy and I was provided the books below for review.  All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


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