Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? I’m at least remembering it’s coming up in a couple weeks, but I haven’t done a whole lot.
Here’s where I’m at:
Plan romantic date with hubby
Partially done. We’ve decided that we are going to a movie the Saturday after Valentine’s Day and we have childcare lined up. However, we still need to decide which movies. Does anyone have recommendations for us?
Commit to strengthening my marriage throughout the month (I mean it is the month of romance)
Done! Actually sticking to this one was made easy because we are doing this 28-Day Challenge from Thrive Momma. I’m super enthusiastic, so we are going with a challenge that lasts the entire month. However, if you want to start with something a little shorter, here is a 2 week one that is awesome to bring your focus back on the little things that keep a marriage strong.
Make cute Valentine’s Day Cricut crafts
Nowhere near done. I’m a working mom, I barely manage to find time to make crafts/gifts for Christmas, let alone make ones for a holiday that is somewhat low on my holiday priority list. I’m all about (somewhat) realistic expectations here.
Plan Valentine’s Day themed food
We have arrived back at another one I’m slacking on. I keep reminding myself about the realistic expectations part. However, one recipe that I might be able to pull off because it’s so simple is this peppermint bark. I really don’t cook. I leave all the cooking to hubby, but since he doesn’t like peppermint, I may brave the kitchen to give it a try.
Do holiday-themed activities with Paxton throughout the month
Again this is something this working mom just hasn’t got around to doing. This working mom is struggling a bit over here with another holiday when I’m still recovering from Christmas, New Years and Paxton’s first birthday. I’m also not quite sure what activities would work well for a 13-month old. If you know of anything, let me know in the comments.
I may not be on top of it this year, but I’ve found what I’m going to do for next year! I’ve discovered this website Education.com. They have a bunch of awesome printable worksheets that are holiday-themed. These are perfect for a toddler learning activity that is holiday themed. I love this Valentine’s Day Word Tracer. Check out Education.com for more printables and learning activities just like this! If you click the image, you can get the downloadable PDF to use for your little one.
Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Are there things on your to-do list that I forgot about? Let me know in the comments.
Fall is here and with it comes Halloween, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. When you have older kids, it can be relatively easy to find activities for the family to do on evenings and weekends. However, what can you do with a baby that is less than a year old that will feel like you are celebrating fall, but that the whole family (including baby) will enjoy? Here are my top 5 fall activities with baby!
Introduce Pumpkin Puree to Baby
As moms get excited for pumpkin spice (even though I don’t excited – see this post for more details), it’s the perfect time to introduce pumpkin puree to your older baby that is eating solids.
Fall Photo Shoot
The leaves are changing colors, and it’s not too hot or too cold. There’s often a nice breeze, and the sun isn’t too bright. Fall is the perfect time to do a family photo shoot. You could hire a professional photographer, but why not take your own photos. Find some nice scenery at the park or set up some pumpkins and corn stalks or a pile of leaves to make a great fall photo area at home. Check out this post with tips for taking photos of baby.
Trip to the Park
Fall means breezy and not too hot. That’s the perfect weather for a trip to the park. Dress baby appropriately for the weather and head out with a snack, some toys and a blanket. Set up under a tree near the playground and let baby play and watch the older kids play. You can both enjoy the weather and admire the changing leaves.
Go To A Pumpkin Patch
Don’t Buy Your Pumpkin at the Store. Pumpkin patches can be great fun for older kids, but they can also be fun for older babies too. This is another one that is best for babies older than 6 months. Go as a family and pick out a couple of pumpkins (you can use these in your photo shoot). Everyone gets to enjoy some fresh air and fall festivities. As a bonus you can get super cute photos with baby surrounded by pumpkins.
Attend a Parade
Many towns have parades for Halloween and Veteran’s Day. Take baby to watch one of these. Baby will enjoy all the bright colors and looking at the firetrucks. This may not be the best option for really young babies though because they can easily get overstimulated. Stick to this one for babies older than 6 months. If it’s a Halloween parade, dress baby up in a cute costume to wear while watching the parade.
Do a Thanksgiving Day Run/Walk
Most towns have a 5K run/walk on Thanksgiving morning. Bundle baby up in a jogging stroller and head out for some fresh air and family exercise before Thanksgiving dinner and football. Baby will like seeing the sites and people watching. Also, many people dress up for this race, so there will likely be some fun costumes for baby to look at. If you think fitness sounds great, check out my post on fitting it in as a new mom.
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Every family is uniquely different in their own way. Do you need some new ways to celebrate the holidays this year? Check out my favorite Christmas tradition (#1) and this Christmas traditions roundup from multiple mommas. These traditions are sure to give you the inspiration that you need for some great family Christmas traditions.
Christmas Tradition #1 – In a Pickle
My favorite Christmas tradition is one that my family did when my
sister and I were little, and I plan to introduce my son to the
tradition as soon as he’s old enough. The tradition is finding a hidden
pickle ornament on the tree. The ornament is hidden after the children
go to bed on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, the first child to
find the Pickle ornament gets an extra gift. In our family this was
candy when we were little and a Starbucks gift card when we got older. For a single child, the pickle ornament has to be found before presents can be opened.
We started doing this tradition because our family is German and
supposedly it’s a German tradition known as Weihnachtsgurke. However,
few people in Germany have actually heard of this. No one is exactly
sure where this tradition came from. The most likely story is that
Woolworth’s stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany
in the 1880s. These ornaments were shaped like various fruit and
vegetables, and pickles were likely among the selection. A salesman
found himself with a lot of pickle ornaments to sell and thus invented
the tradition. There are two other stories associated with this
tradition, but they are probably a little too far-fetched to be
accurate. 1.) A soldier fighting in the American Civil War was born
in Bavaria. He became a prisoner of war and begged the guard for one
last pickle before he died. The guard gave him one and the pickle gave
him the strength to live on. 2.) Two Spanish boys were traveling home for the holidays and stopped at
an inn. The innkeeper killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel.
When St. Nicholas stopped at the inn, he found the boys and brought them
back to life.
Regardless of its origin, the pickle ornament has become a major part of Christmas tradition in America.
Pickle ornaments are widely available in a variety of sizes. This can
be helpful so that for little kids you can use a larger ornament and you
can use smaller ornaments as the kids get older. Pickle ornaments can
still be purchased in the original
glass material; however, they are also available in metal and plastic
varieties for households with young kids and pets. Some cities have even
become part of the tradition! Berrien Springs, Michigan is known as the
Christmas Pickle Capital of the World. The city even has a pickle
festival during the first part of December.
As for My Family
My son won’t quite be a year old yet as of Christmas, so he may still
be a little young to take part this year. However, by next year, he
will learn to be a pickle-finding expert. However, there will still be a
pickle to find, as my mother hides a pickle for my sister, me and our
significant others to search for. The winner still gets a gift card and it’s just as competitive as it was when we were kids.
Not every family tradition is, well, traditional. Such is the case in my family.
First, let me tell you a little about my Grandmother who started this
tradition. She was born in the 1920’s, so she was raised during the
Great Depression. She has always been a practical person. Not to say
that she won’t get you something for the fun of it because she does have
an amazing sense of humor. This tradition is steeped in basic
necessity. It is the most basic of necessities that she wants to make
sure that both the men and the women in family have met at least once
per year. The men get socks. However, for the ladies, we have the Panty
Tree. Yes, a Panty Tree! I mean everyone needs underwear right?!?!
Once a girl in the family hits the age of 8-10, she is allowed to participate in everyone’s favorite holiday tradition. Well, at least it’s the favorite in my family. We have run the gamut from literal granny panties to thongs and everything in between. We try to keep things more in the brief, bikini, and hipster family of Women’s underwear since those will actually get worn. Although, Grandma loves buying them, we have delegated the task to one of our female cousins. By doing this, we ensure that we will have sizes and styles that everyone wears. All panties are numbered and hung from a stick in a pot (aka a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree) or, more commonly, a hanger built for air drying undies. We take turns drawing numbers. Then, in dramatic fashion, the lady in charge (usually a cousin) calls out numbers. This is done in no particular order. She just grabs the first pair of panties and calls the number on them out. Usually, we reserve the most comical pair for almost last to keep the suspense going. In the end, we all get a good laugh, a new pair of panties, and another blessed year with our Grandmother.
I remember growing up that our biggest Christmas tradition was going to midnight mass. We’d either stay up until it was time to go, just watching TV, and/or listening to music, or we’d go ahead and go to bed then get up, get ready then go to mass. We’d go straight to bed after we’re got home from church. In the morning we’d see what was in our stockings first. Then someone, this became me as we got older and is still, would pass out all the presents. We’d spend the rest of the morning opening presents and playing with them. Mid-afternoon we’d have our big Christmas dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls of some sort and for dessert pumpkin pie. We would then take a much deserved and wonderful nap. The rest of the day was spent playing with our presents, watching TV and just spending time as a family. As we got older we started adding in going to see a movie at some point too!
When I was a child, I would make some kind of craft to give away to
my loved ones for Christmas. Some years I created ornaments, baked goods, or made a Christmas decoration for each family member. It meant a lot to be able to give something that I made.
As a result, I have started my own kiddos young with the tradition.
My first attempts at doing salt dough ornaments with them were quite
messy and comical. If you are interested in reading how to make these
cute ornaments, check out my blog post. It’s a very honest and real post
about the process it takes to make these with young kids here in the
U.S. up north in cold Minnesota.
I know being a SAHM, you do a lot. Yes, you do earn your rights to
hubby’s money, but I can’t be the only one that feels bad about
that….right? I grew up in a household that didn’t have much money to
blow. I am a proud survivor of dollar tree (gasp!) and “you’re only
getting 5 things” (double gasp!) Christmas’s.
Luckily, it’s a little easier to dip into hubby’s pocket when it’s
gifts for your kids. This is actually Evelyn’s first Christmas! She will
be 10 months old AND I AM SO EXCITED. I know everybody’s present
situation will be slightly different. Some families have the extra money
to spend, while some families will not be able to provide much – but
that’s okay! I’ve briefly talked to my husband about what we’ll be
getting her. I say briefly because it’s basically me just rambling to
him while he gives me a few “uh-hums” and “sures.” I am hoping we are
able to set a foundation for later holiday seasons in life. Basic kiddo present guideline:
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read
Something they want
The Holidays don’t need to be full blown in order to make cherished
memories. We are intending on focusing on the time spent with family,
not the overabundance of gifts. Netflix, hot cocoa, and pictures
sounds fairly surreal to me! I am so incredibly excited to start this
Christmas tradition. I hope one day my sweet little Evelyn can do the
same for her children!
When I found I was pregnant, I was excited for the obvious reasons but also because I couldn’t wait to implement some of the traditions we did as a kid. I couldn’t wait for Christmas specifically. Our little guy is 7 months old and will be 9 months when Christmas rolls around, but that’s okay! We want to start our traditions early so that he remembers them from a young age.
Picking a Tree & Decorating
We will have a specified day where we will go pick a tree, then come home and decorate the tree and the house. I always did this as a kid and it was one of my favorite days! While decorating, we’d play Christmas music and have hot chocolate on the stove. This can also be a great tradition even if you already have a fake tree. Just pick a day to decorate it and your house!
On Christmas Eve, my mom would always pick out a present for us to open – it was usually pajamas. Then we’d watch the original Grinch cartoon movie. I plan on doing this same thing – except I want to start making a Grinch hot chocolate – green hot chocolate with heart sprinkles! Then my kids can open a gift of my choosing (probably pj’s) and then we can watch the Grinch together before going to bed.
Looking at Christmas Lights
I definitely want to drive around looking at Christmas lights. It’s always so peaceful to me to just drive slowly and take in the pretty lights and snow (if you live in a snowy area). I’d love to bring a thermos of hot cocoa and play Christmas music while we drive around. Plus, I live in the Chicagoland area and that means we’re near the Home Alone house! My plan is to drive around that neighborhood and look at the lights over there since it’s a very nice area.
It’s these little things that not only make me nostalgic for when I was a kid, but really put me in the Christmas spirit. The best part is: these things don’t cost much money! Not only that, but they are so easy to implement. Your kids will love having small things like these to look forward to every year. I can’t wait to introduce these traditions to our little one – they are something I always did as a kid and are very important to me so I hope he will cherish them as much as I do.
Do you want to take great pictures of your kids enjoying these traditions? Make sure to check out this article for photo-taking tips.
What Christmas traditions do you plan to do with your kids? Let me know in the comments!
The first birthday is such an exciting time. It means that your adorable, snuggly little baby is now a toddler, and it means you have successfully been a parent for an entire year. This means it’s time for a celebration!
Now the question, “How Do You Plan a First Birthday Party”?
First, let’s address who this party is for. Yes, the party is a first birthday party for your child. However, your child isn’t going to remember the party and doesn’t care one way or another if you throw a big party. The first birthday is really for the parents, and that’s perfectly okay.
I had no shame planning an elaborate first birthday party for my son. It’s one of the few times I will get to throw him a birthday without him caring what the theme is and what we eat. Keep reading for my tips on how to make the first birthday party a success.
You can go with anything because your baby is too little to care. Pick something age-appropriate that you enjoy. Some theme ideas include the number one, books, movies, Disney, trains, unicorns, and many others. We went with a storybook theme.
2. Choose an Ideal Time
Think about what time of day your baby is happiest. Is it in the morning? If so, a breakfast party might be best. Is it after the midday nap? Then go for a late afternoon party. You want the time of day where your baby is most likely to be well-rested, well-fed and happy.
3. Pick a Date
If your baby’s actual birthday is mid-week, consider having the party on a weekend to allow more people to attend.
4. Determine What You Will Do With Cards and Gifts
When people come to a birthday party, they plan to bring a card and a gift. This will result in a stack of toys and clothes and cards. If you need those things for your baby, then that’s great. If not, consider alternative options, and make your wishes clear on the invites. For example, I really didn’t want a stack of cards, so I requested that in lieu of cards people bring a book with a note to my son written inside. This built his library substantially and won’t just get tossed or thrown in a box like cards would.
If you don’t have space for a lot of gifts, suggest that people make a donation to your baby’s college fund instead of bringing a gift. These donations are tax deductible and won’t add to the huge number of baby items you already have.
5. Choose Food That Works for Adults and Your Baby
The party will likely consist of a lot of adults, but you want food that your baby can eat as well. You could even add some foods that fit your theme. We tied all the food into different picture books and had a mix of fun snacky foods and sandwiches.
6. Keep the Smash Cake Basic
The pictures of a baby covered in cake are absolutely adorable, so it stands to reason that you want to provide a cute smash cake that fits with the theme of your party. This is fine but know that traditional frosting is a lot better for smashing than fondant. My son had an adorable, themed smash cake with a fondant design. The only problem was when he went to smash it, it just bounced because the fondant didn’t smash. He grabbed a piece of fondant and chewed on the sugar and no interest in the rest of the cake. At his second first birthday party, his cake had basic frosting and he had a lot for fun smashing it and making a mess.
7. Keep Your Expectations In Line
Baby is likely not going to get all that excited about opening presents. Toys may result in some excitement, but if you open a toy for baby to play with right away, he likely won’t want to pay attention to any other presents.
8. Keep the Party Short
A lot of people, food, decorations and gifts can be overly stimulating. Even if well-rested, your baby will likely only be in the mood for a big party for an hour or two.
There you have my tips for planning a first birthday
party. These are all things I learned
from experience, so I wanted to share them with you to help you avoid the same
Your turn – have you planned a first birthday party? If so, what tips do you have?
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Before becoming a mom, leaving the house to go to the store,
or a restaurant or anywhere really was easy and took little thought or
planning. However, once you become a
parent, leaving the house is a whole new level of difficulty.
When my son was a newborn, leaving the house looked something like this:
Nurse the baby
Change a diaper and make sure clothing for
everyone was weather appropriate
Make sure diaper bag is fully stocked (don’t
forget to grab my diaper bag packing list)
Eat a snack/meal
Nurse baby again
Change diaper again
Finally leave the house (~3 hours later)
Obviously, the amount of time it takes to prepare to leave the house can keep many new parents home bound. However, getting out of the house as a new parent is essential for your sanity!
Unless you or your newborn has health issues or the weather
is absolutely awful, I suggest starting to make short outings the first weeks
after you come home from the hospital.
Here are my answers to common questions and tips for different
activities that are completely doable with a newborn.
Where to Take a Newborn
Newborns are surprisingly portable. Until about 4 months, they are able to sleep
anywhere, and you can transport them both in and out of the car with a car seat
and stroller travel system. You can take
a newborn most places that you would go anyway.
It does take a little practice to juggle all the extra items
you need to bring, and plan for feeding sessions. If you have family visiting,
enlist help for your first few outings.
It’s great to have an extra set of hands and the person can spend time
with you and the baby and no one is thinking about how messy the house is.
During my son’s first 2 months, we went to the grocery store, target, various restaurants, the mall, church, and wine tasting. Enjoy the portability of your baby now because once they get older they become less portable and require more planning. Follow the tips below, and you can take your newborn out as part of your normal activities.
Taking a Newborn Out Before 6 Weeks
Six weeks seems to be the magic number with babies, but
things don’t really change that much at six weeks. Your baby is still portable, and many
children don’t get their first vaccinations until they are closer to 2
months. The biggest thing that changed
for us at six weeks was I went back to work (read more about that here and here).
The biggest concern with taking a very young baby out is
that they will catch a virus. Viruses
that are minor annoyances for adults can result in severe illness in
babies. However, a few precautions can
greatly decrease the chance of your baby catching something.
1. Don’t let others hold your baby
If someone asks to hold your baby, you are
allowed to say no. Exercise this
right! The less people that hold your
baby, the less likely baby will get sick.
This also applies to letting people rub his hair, kiss him or touch his
2. Utilize a car seat cover
Many respiratory viruses are passed through
coughing and sneezing. If you use a
stretch car seat cover like this one, you
can block respiratory particles from infecting your baby. It also helps keep people from touching your
baby and provides a dark, quiet area for sleeping.
3. Practice baby wearing
If you aren’t planning to carry the car seat
with you once you get where you are going, then your best defense is baby
wearing. This keeps baby snug against
you and protected from respiratory particles.
It also helps deter people from touching or wanting to hold your baby.
When can you take a newborn out for a walk?
You can take a walk with your newborn as soon as the weather
cooperates. You want to do your walk at
a time of day where it isn’t super hot or super cold. Also make sure to provide adequate warmth
and/or sun protection. Newborns have
very fragile skin, so err on the side of too much sun protection in the form of
a stroller shade, car seat shade, and/or car seat cover. If the weather is okay taking the baby for a
walk can be great for both of you, and you usually won’t have to fend off too
The best time to take a newborn for a walk will vary by location. You will want to decide based on the weather and what you feel like. Chances are good your newborn will sleep for most of the walk anyway, so at this stage, you don’t need to worry about nap times. Usually, earlier in the morning or early evening work well because the sun isn’t as bright as it is midday. However, if the sun is out, you will still want to make sure baby is shaded.
When can I take my
newborn to a restaurant?
You can take baby out to a restaurant as soon as you are
ready to go out. You will want to make
sure your diaper bag is fully packed, so that you are prepared for any dirty
diapers or feeding needs. I found that
taking the car seat into the restaurant is the best way to have a calm meal. Infant car seats generally will fit into the booth
and restaurants often have high chairs that when flipped over hold a car seat.
When can I take my newborn to church?
We took our son to church when he was 1 week old. You will want to follow the tips above about keeping people away, so your baby doesn’t get sick, but otherwise, it’s pretty easy. We took the car seat into the church and sat at the end of the pew so the car seat could be on the floor next to us. This also allowed for a quick escape if necessary. Just make sure you don’t pick a seat right next to a speaker.
Many churches have a room for nursing mothers. Scout out the location of this room when you
arrive, so you are prepared if necessary.
Churches also usually have child care that extends to infants. However, I would recommend keeping your baby
with you for the first couple of months – usually they will sleep anyway.
Can I take my newborn
to a wedding or other family gathering?
Major family events are often ones you don’t want to miss,
but your family and friends likely didn’t plan their special day around the age
of your baby. Therefore, you may find
yourself needing to choose between taking your newborn or staying home. My best friend got married when my son was 4
months old, so off to a wedding (on the other side of the country) we
went. Many of the principles from above
apply here. However, if it’s something
that is going to have a DJ or other loud music, make sure to grab a pair of these baby headphones. Without them loud noises can quickly
overwhelm a newborn. However, with the
earmuffs, a party with flashing lights and dancing can be great fun for a
baby. My son loved dancing and looking
at the lights with his headphones on.
Final Thoughts on
Leaving the House with a Newborn
Getting out of the house is good for the whole family, so
you shouldn’t be scared to leave the house with a newborn. Just make sure to follow these tips and plan
short outings initially. Pretty soon you
will gain confidence and running errands or going places with your newborn
won’t be a big deal at all.
If you start getting really brave, you could fly with a newborn. If you decide to brave that (we did when our son was 4 months old), make sure to read these Tips for Flying with a Baby.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.