When Your Child Prefers One Parent

What can you do as a parent when you child(ren) prefer one parent over another?  3 simple suggestions that will make a difference.

As a parent, I enjoy the feeling of being wanted and loved by my children.  When they get hurt or are scared, the little cry of “Mommy!” makes me feel that my kids know I’ll help and protect them.  When they are excited about something and come grab my hand to show me their new “cave” or “store”, I (usually) can’t help but smile.  But to be honest, being a stay-at-home mom can be really exhausting.  Sometimes it’s really hard to muster up the excitement and exclaim “wow!” for the 100th time that day or pick up their drink off the floor or sit down to eat some lunch only to have them ask for more food.

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t trade staying at home with my kids for anything.  But I also just need a little break sometimes.  Enter Daddy.  My husband gets home between 5:30 and 6 each night.  The kids run to the door, fling it open and jump into his arms.  Daddy is their wrestling buddy, tickle monster and airplane flyer.  But many days when we sit down to the table for dinner, the kids will ask me for whatever it is they want or need rather than my husband.  I get it.  They are with me all day and are used to asking me for help.  And my husband, bless his heart, is always willing to help out by getting them a drink or more food and he always makes sure the kids thank me for dinner every night.

What can you do as a parent when you child(ren) prefer one parent over another?  3 simple suggestions that will make a difference.

But the last couple of months have been rough, mostly when it comes to bedtime.  My son, who I’ll admit is more of a mama’s boy, won’t let my husband put him to bed.  He screams.  He cries.  He reaches for me.  He struggles to escape my husband’s arms.  It’s a bit ridiculous.  My kids share a room and go to bed at the same time.  Since my husband is home most nights, we put the kids down together.  Last night, for example, my daughter asked if I could read her a story on her bed.  This left my son with my husband and immediately he started throwing a fit: “No, I want mommy!  Not you!  I don’t want you!  I want to sit with mommy!” and so it went.  He calmed down for a few minutes while we read a story but started right back up again as soon as it was done.  It took him about 45 minutes to get settled enough to finally fall asleep.  During this time, my husband checked on him periodically while I showered and did a few things around the house.

So what’s the point of this story?  (Hint: It’s not about bedtime routines, parenting styles or kids sharing a room. *wink*)  It’s about what to do when your child prefers one parent over another.  What do you do?  How do you handle it?  While I’m still trying to figure it out myself, there are a few things that I think make a difference.  (And I hope it’s obvious that I’m gearing these suggestions toward healthy relationships, not abusive ones.)

Don’t Undermine
When this first started happening with my son, my instinct was to just take over and hold him or help him or whatever it was that needed to be done.  It didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time.  But as time has gone on and the behavior has persisted, I’ve had to restrain myself and let my husband take care of things.  The way he tries to help is often different than the way I would do things.  But if I continue to butt in each time, our kids might think that his way is “wrong” and my way is “right” or even that we don’t back each other up.

What can you do as a parent when you child(ren) prefer one parent over another?  3 simple suggestions that will make a difference.

Encourage Relationship Building
As our kids have gotten a little older, my husband and I have tried to be better about spending one on one time with them going on daddy-daughter dates, mommy-son dates, daddy-buddy hangouts and mommy-daughter dates.  We believe, as I think many parents do, that building a strong relationship with our kids is essential for the days ahead as they get into dating, hanging out with friends and all the things that come with growing up.  We want our kids to know that they can come to either of us for help, love and advice.

What can you do as a parent when you child(ren) prefer one parent over another?  3 simple suggestions that will make a difference.

Say “I love you” to Each Other
This might seem like a “duh” suggestion, but hear me out.  I say “I love you” to our kids multiple times throughout the day.  My husband also says this to our kids when he calls during the day or over chat as well as when he gets home.  Our kids also need to see that their parents (my husband and I) love each other.  How often do you say “I love you” to your spouse in front of your kids?  Do you compliment each other in front of them?  Do your kids see your love through words and actions?

What can you do as a parent when you child(ren) prefer one parent over another?  3 simple suggestions that will make a difference.

If you’re going through any of this right now with your kids, I hear you!  It’s not easy and can be really frustrating.  I hope that at least one of these suggestions will be helpful to you.  I’m still trying to figure out this whole parenting thing and we need each other!  If you have anything that you find helps, please share!

Book Review: Disneyland On Any Budget by Jessica Sanders

Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

Before my family and I went to Disneyland last fall, I did a TON of research on a million different website and blogs trying to learn as much as possible about lodging and food and travel and strollers and souvenirs and anything else I could think of that I might need to know about when planning a trip to Disneyland.  I learned a lot and everything I found was really helpful.  Our trip to Disneyland was a huge success and I even learned a few things that I’ve been able to share with others.

I received a complimentary copy of Disneyland On Any Budget for review.  All opinions are 100% mine.
Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

But what if you don’t have the time to to sift through all that information and find what’s really relevant?  That’s where Disneyland On Any Budget comes in handy.  Jessica Sanders from The Happiest Blog on Earth is all about all things Disney.  She and her family go to Disneyland several times a year and she is always up to date on the latest changes and updates to the park.

This post contains affiliate links which if clicked on and a purchase is made, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

I received a copy of Disneyland On Any Budget and was able to read through it in less than an hour.  But all the information Jessica packs into this little book is well worth the read (and re-read)!  She covers ways to save for Disneyland, where to get discount tickets, how to save money on food, where to start your day, hotel accommodations, grocery stores, best places to find souvenirs and on and on.  Jessica really knows her stuff!

Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!
Used by permission from The Happiest Blog on Earth

One thing I loved and thought was a great little touch is that each chapter/section starts off with a fun quote from a Disney movie that goes along with what the chapter is about.  Jessica also shares examples and real life experiences (both her own and others) to help illustrate her points.  At the end of each section, she gives a little recap.  If you buy the book, you also have access to bonus content on her website!

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to plan a trip to Disneyland in the coming year.  The information you’ll learn is invaluable to making your experience the best possible.  No matter what your budget is, Disneyland On Any Budget is a great tool to help you and your family visit the happiest place on earth!

To buy the paperback version, click HERE.
To buy the Kindle version, click HERE.

To visit The Happiest Blog on Earth, click HERE.

What has been most helpful to you when planning a trip to Disneyland?

Affordable Toys for Toddlers

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

During the next four months, we’ll be celebrating Christmas and both of my kids’ birthdays.  This means that we have to budget well for gifts and be selective in what we choose to bring into our home.  In addition, we want good quality toys that aren’t going to break the bank.  I’ve always prided myself on being a bargain shopper and Christmas and birthday gifts are no exception.  Just last week I saved $15 on a present for my son by shopping around, which turned something over-budget into something affordable.  I always give myself a good pat on the back when that happens. *wink*

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’d much rather spend a couple of extra dollars on something that is better made and longer lasting.  Kids are hard on toys so this is important to me as a parent.  Today, I want to share with you my picks for affordable toddler toys from The Baby Cubby.  One of the things I love most about their toys is that they are unique and durable as well as affordable.  Most of their toys are for boys or girls (with the exception of a few).  The toys I’m showing below are for 2-5 year old range.  (Click on the link below the picture to see more information.)

*This post is sponsored by The Baby Cubby.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Zoobrella Umbrella (3 styles)  |  Hedgehog Backpack (4 styles)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Baby Primers (30 classics)

What makes The Baby Cubby different?
So if you’re anything like me, you’ve been on tons of websites for baby/toddler/kid stuff searching for great products at a great price.  We all like to get the best bang for our buck!  But it’s also nice to know that where you’re shopping values more than just your money.  At The Baby Cubby, their team is made up of parents just like you who want the best products for their kids.  They want to support you through parenthood with helpful resources and encouragement.  (And don’t we all need a little bit of that? *wink*)  You can read a little more about them HERE.

Besides great products, they also offer price matching (even on Amazon prices) and free shipping on orders over $49 (which isn’t hard to do, believe me!).  If you are local, they are located about 10-15 minutes south of Provo and about 25 minutes north of Salt Lake in Lindon.  You can find directions HERE.

My Experience with The Baby Cubby
I recently placed an order with them for some Christmas gifts for my kids (the makeup set, a book, bath pipes and bath cogs).  Ordering was easy and I could see shipping costs, a breakdown of each item, tax, etc prior to placing my order.  Earlier this week, I got a call from their customer service about one of the items being out of stock and they wanted to know what I wanted done with the order.  I called them back and briefly explained the reason I was calling.  The girl I spoke to happened to be the same one who had called me and she knew exactly what I was talking about and handled my call quickly and efficiently (which is huge because no one wants to be on the phone with customer service forever when they have kids).  I cannot wait to get these items and give them for Christmas this year.  I have no doubt I’ll be a repeat customer.

I hope this post gave you some ideas of what to give the toddler in your life!  Happy shopping!

What I’m Thankful For

What I'm Thankful For 2016

In the last few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, one of my most popular posts has been What I’m Thankful For which I posted last year just before Thanksgiving.  I’ve been surprised to see it move up my charts and is currently the 5th most popular post on my blog!  People must really want to know what I’m thankful for! *wink*

On Monday of this week, I posted an introduction to a series I’m participating in with Little Dove and other bloggers about #SimplifyingTheSeason.  The main purpose of this series is a reminder to refocus and simplify the holidays  It’s so easy to become immersed in all the activities going on that it’s equally as easy to forget the reason we celebrate in the first place.  I’m definitely not perfect at this and I have to remind myself regularly to just stop and take a step back.

And that’s why I like sharing what I’m thankful for.  To remind myself of all the good there is in my life, so I can look back on it during hard times and remember.  You’ll probably find some of the same things on this list that were on the list last year, but hey, I’m still grateful for them so they’re on the list again!

–I am grateful for my loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  “Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.” (I Stand All Amazed, Hymns, 1985, no.193)

–I am thankful for my family, both immediate and extended.  Some of my most cherished relationships are with the members of my family.  They are there for me to lean on, to talk to, to cry with and to rejoice with.

–I am so thankful for my husband.  He is a rock.  He is supportive and loving and patient.  When I told him a little over a year ago that I wanted to start a blog, he was right there with me.  When I need help with the kids because we’ve had a rough day, he jumps in and makes us laugh.  He is a wonderful father to our children and someone they are proud to look up to, as am I.

–I am thankful for my children.  They love me on the best of days and the worst of days.  They teach me patience and kindness.  My kids are the best of friends and it makes my heart want to burst sometimes when I look at them.

–I am grateful for my friends, both those I’ve met in person and those who have become my friends through blogging and I’ve never actually met.  They have been there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, a word of encouragement or to jump for joy with me.  I treasure them and keep them close to my heart.

–I am thankful for my body and my ability to get up out of bed in the morning, go to dance class, play with my kids on the floor or chase them outside.

–I am so grateful for my freedom and for those who fight to protect it and the freedom of others.

–Lastly, I am thankful for YOU!  The last year has been crazy and fun and hard and amazing and you’ve been there with me.  Thank you for coming to my little part of the internet and reading my posts and leaving me comments.  It means so much to me.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you get to spend it with those you love.

Simplifying the Season

At the beginning of this month, we had a lesson at church about the trio of holidays–Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years–and talked at length about how they are each related to each other and why celebrating them together can actually enhance our enjoyment of the holiday season.  I hadn’t really thought about it in this way before but haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

Thanksgiving sets things up for us with our focus on gratitude and being thankful for what we’ve been blessed with in our lives.  I wrote a post about this at the beginning of the month just a couple of days before we had the lesson in church.  Someone made a comment during our lesson that when we show gratitude to God for our blessings, we receive a fullness of the blessing that we wouldn’t receive otherwise.  I think showing gratitude really grounds us.  As a family, we work together and rely on each other to grow and learn.  Last year, we started a couple of traditions that I really love and helps us get into an attitude of gratitude. 

After Thanksgiving comes Christmas.  I love that we have just been through a season of gratitude and that carries us into Christmas and a celebration of the birth of Christ.  We have a handful of traditions surrounding this holiday that I love and really help set the tone for the month of December.  Helping our children understand the reason for the season is one of our main focuses during the holiday.  We do our best to simplify our activities so we don’t become overwhelmed to the point that the magic and spirit of Christmas is lost.

Then comes the New Year when many of us make goals and promises to ourselves that we will try to improve in some way.  It is both a literal and symbolic chance for new beginnings.  We’ve just finished seasons of thanksgiving and celebrating Christ and I am often filled with feelings of hope and desire to do better.  I’ve found that it is often the simple changes I make in my life that make the biggest difference.

This holiday season, I’m teaming up with Justine from Little Dove and other talented bloggers to introduce the Simplifying the Season series.  The series will go from 11/21 to 12/26.  Each week there will be a post on Little Dove in this series: The Great Christmas Round Up (11/29), Focus on Family (12/5), Focus on Traditions (12/12), Focus on the Savior (12/19) and #SimplifyingTheSeason Link-Up Party (12/26).

If you’d like to participate in this series, it’s as simple as sharing how you are going to refocus and simply.  As Justine says on her blog:

“Share it on your blog, share it on your social media, just share it!  Maybe you have some tips about how to stay calm with holiday guests, maybe you have a family tradition you want to share that helps you focus on family time, whatever it is I want to know how it helps you with simplifying the season!  This should not be something that adds yet another thing to your holidays, just something to help you enhance them, helps to refocus them on what truly matters to you and your family this season.”

Be sure to use the hashtag #SimplifyingTheSeason and then link-up the week after Christmas.  Justine will be picking her favorite posts that she feels best exemplify the spirit of simplifying this holiday season to send a special gift to!

I encourage each of you to simplify and refocus during this season.  One of my favorite decorations I put up this time of year says “Simplify Christmas, Celebrate Christ”.  I truly believe that if we put even just a little bit of time and effort into doing this, we will be filled with the Christmas spirit.  Our burdens will feel lighter.  We will feel a stronger desire to help and serve others.  I love the magical feeling that accompanies this time of year and wish it could last all year round.

What are your favorite ways to simplify during the holidays?

Gift Guide: Women

Fun, out of the box gift guide for women!

Last year around this time, I did a couple of pretty extensive gift guides: one for parents/grandparents and one for men.  But I didn’t quite have time to put together one for women.  As a woman, you might think that I would have a pretty good idea of what women want when it comes to gifts, but to be completely honest, I usually have a really hard time telling my husband (or anyone else) what I want for Christmas or my birthday.  Am I the only one with this problem?

So, I turned to my friends and asked them what they wanted and I have to say that I agree with most of these!  My hope with this list is that you’ll be able to give a gift that’s a little outside the box.  Whether you are buying for you mother, mother-in-law, sister, daughter, friend or spouse, there are some great choices here.  I’ve divided it up into categories the following categories: beauty, little luxuries, services, experiences and creative.

This post contains affiliate links which if you click on a make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Manicure/Pedicure: This is an awesome option for almost all ages.  You could turn this into a group thing with friends or family members or even a mother-daughter(s) date.  There are a lot of deals on Groupon and other deal sites.

Bath Bombs: I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually tried a bath bomb before but I hear they are amazing!  If the woman you are giving a gift to loves relaxing in the bath, then this is a good option.

Spa Voucher: Women love to be pampered and spas are a great place to be pampered.  You could even take this gift a step further and schedule it out for them so they don’t have to remember to set the appointment themselves.  Check out Groupon for local deals.

All Inclusive Photo Shoot: Women also love to feel pretty.  Consider an all inclusive photo shoot where they get their make up and hair done and then have some nice pictures taken of them.

A Relaxing Night In: This gift will look different to different women, so think about how your giftee likes to relax at home.  This could mean a nice bubble bath (with a bath bomb!) and reading a book.  It might be a girly movie.  For me, I love having a stretch of time where I can work on crafts uninterrupted for a few hours while my husband watches the kids.

Jewelry: This is a great gift because it’s so flexible depending on who you’re giving it to and their personal taste.  For grandmothers, it might be a necklace, bracelet or keychain with their grandkids names on it.  Same thing for mothers and the names of their children.  You could look into designing a custom piece and getting it specially made.

Little Luxuries
A Nap: When my friend suggested this one, I laughed out loud because it’s so true!  Getting time to take a nap is one of the best gifts you can give a mother.  As a husband, maybe you can commit to watching the kids each Sunday so your wife can take a nap.  If you are an older child, you could entertain your younger siblings for an hour while your mom takes an uninterrupted nap.  It might sound a little silly at first, but sleep is a wonderful gift.

Pretty Office Supplies: There is something about having pretty office supplies that just make work a little more enjoyable.  Sometimes women worry so much about being practical that they don’t want to spend the extra dollar or two for something basic like a notebook or pen.  Instead of plain manila folders, get ones with a pattern or uplifting words.

Candles: Mmmm…have you ever walked into a room and smelled something that just made you smile?  Candles are another one of those “little luxuries” that are nice to have around.

Fun Planner: For years, I’ve used a basic planner to keep track of my daily tasks, appointments and activities.  It might have a cute cover but the inside is simple and not much to look at.  When I attended Pinners Conference at the beginning of this month, I attended a class on The Happy Planner.  It is basically a planner that you can use for planning (obviously) but also to commemorate things, almost like a scrapbook.  I love to craft, but don’t always have the time do it.  This planner is both pretty and practical, which I love.

Maid Service: Friends, this is seriously one of the best gift ideas ever.  As a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time cleaning and straightening and it feels like I’m never done.  Plus, there are those tasks that I just don’t like to do so I avoid them until they absolutely have to be done.  This is where the gift of maid service comes in, because you can just pay someone to do those things for you, while you do something else you’d much rather do.

Babysitting: Almost every year for my birthday, my mom gives me a restaurant gift card and a promise of babysitting.  If you know someone who needs a little break from their beautiful children to go on a date, run errands by themselves or go to an event or conference, then this is a perfect gift.

Gift Certificate to Try Something New: I love learning new skills but I don’t necessarily want to try and learn them by myself.  Going to a class is a great way to get exposure to something new without having to buy all the supplies or try to find the answers on the internet.  There are a ton of classes in almost every area you can think of.  Is there something your mother, wife, friend or sister has said they want to try out?  See if you can find a class for it.  Some of the classes I thought would be fun are an art class, zumba, glass blowing, ring making, kick boxing and cooking class.  Again, Groupon is a great place to find these types of classes.

A Day/Night Out: This could be a date night where you do something a little more extravagant or a girls weekend in the city.  Experiences and making memories are wonderful and lasting gifts.

Tickets to a Concert or Conference: When I went to Pinners Conference earlier this month, I was cashing in my birthday gift that I’d asked my husband for a couple of months ago.  Gifts don’t have to provide instant gratification and some of the best gifts are those where you have to build up the anticipation.

Silhouette machine, Designer Edition or any one of the kits: I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I LOVE my Silhouette Cameo machine.  I use it all the time and it’s been a great investment for me.  This is a little pricier of a gift so it would be a good group gift to give.  If the woman you’re gifting already has one, you can buy a gift card to upgrade to the Designer Edition or Designer Edition PLUS, a gift card to the Silhouette online store or even one of the many kits they have (heat transfer vinyl, vinyl, rhinestone, fabric ink, glass etching).

Journal: Having a journal to write down thoughts or feelings or lists is something I always have nearby.  You can make your own (check out my tutorial for mod podge notebooks) or buy one with a fun print or cute quote on it.  Pair it with some fun pens.

Adult Coloring Book and Markers or Pencils: I have a couple of these myself and they are so fun to be able to pull out when I just need a break or when my kids want me to color with them.  There are so many awesome ones to choose from: Harry Potter, Disney, Mandalas and the list goes on.  A nicer set of markers or colored pencils would go great with this gift.

Handlettering Workbook: Another class I attended at Pinners Conference was an introduction to handlettering.  It came with an awesome workbook that I could take home and practice my writing.  I’ve always admired pretty handwriting and so this is a really fun one.  I bought this workbook HERE and this is the marker I use HERE.

I hope you got some inspiration from this gift guide for the women in your life.  What are you favorite gifts to give and receive?

DIY Elf Door

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

I’m always trying to think of new traditions for my family to incorporate during the holidays.  Right now, we just have a handful of Christmas traditions but I’ve been wanting to add another one.  In August I got an email from Jane.com with a cute little elf door.  What at fun idea! I thought to myself as I clicked on the link.  As cute as it was, I didn’t want to pay $24 for the door plus the other accessories (fence, lights, etc) and then pay for shipping.  I knew I could do it for cheaper myself and starting looking around online.

It turns out that Hobby Lobby’s miniature dollhouse collection was the perfect solution.  I’ve been watching for those items to go on sale and when they did, I went over and picked up what I needed.  Using my 40% off coupon, I was able to get the door for $6.59, plus the doorknob and key for $3.49 (30% off) and some mini Christmas light bulbs for $1.39 (30% off), which brought my total to $12.26 with tax.  I already have acrylic paint and brushes to paint the door and instead of using miniature fencing, I decided to cut some out of vinyl using my Silhouette Cameo, which I could then stick to the wall and remove at the end of the season.  So by doing this myself, I was able to save myself more than half of what it would have cost to buy it from Jane.com.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

*Note: I did look on Amazon for the supplies to make this, but it was less expensive to buy it at Hobby Lobby.  But definitely feel free to shop around a bit.  You might find a better deal or decide you want a different kind of door or doorknob set.  The great thing about this craft is that you can totally personalize it!

I’ve been thinking about what kind of activity I could do with my kids to incorporate this little elf door into our traditions.  Ultimately, I kept it simple and told my kids that there is a magical elf door that leads directly to the North Pole.  Elves can come through it and check to make sure the kids are being good and then report to Santa.  You could be more elaborate if you want and do Elf on the Shelf type things but I don’t want to stress myself out by committing to do that every night.

So here’s what you’ll need to make your own Elf Door:

  • miniature door
  • miniature doorknob
  • miniature fence (vinyl or wood)
  • miniature Christmas light bulbs
  • acrylic paint (in desired colors)
  • paint brushes
  • glue
  • thin jewelry wire (silver or gold)

First, I painted the door frame white and the door a bright red and let it dry.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

Then I glued the doorknob on using some Tacky Glue and let it dry.

Meanwhile, I opened up my Silhouette Studio software and grabbed a picket fence silhouette from Google.  I was able to get the silhouette by using the ‘Trace’ function, then I saved the image in my library to use later on.  To determine the size of the fence, I measured the height of the door (about 7.5″) and then used a ruler to visualize the height of the fence.  Then I resized it in the Silhouette Studio and cut it out on my white vinyl.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

To make the strand of lights, I removed the gold wires that were strung through the lights.  Then I cut a length of wire about 24″ long.  I strung the first light on and then twisted it at the top a couple times so it wouldn’t slide around.  I threaded the next light on and spaced it about 1″-1.5″ from the first light and repeated the twist at the top.  I continued around until I reached the end of the wire, leaving about 1″ at the end.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

I decided to put the door in our kitchen/dining area because we spend a lot of time there.  I wanted it to be visible to the kids so they would remember that the “elf” is going to check on them.  I placed the door above the baseboards and stuck it to the wall using tape I had rolled up and put on the back, making it easily removable at the end of the season.  Then I put about 3″ of vinyl fence on either side of the door.  Finally, I strung the lights around the door, draping them across the top and bending the wire and securing the ends under the top part of the vinyl fence.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

As I was setting it up, I explained to my daughter about the elf and the magic door.  I tried to keep it simple so I could remember what I told her.  If I make a mistake, I’m sure she’ll correct me. *wink*  When my son woke up from his nap, he noticed it and went right over to investigate.  He’s not quite old enough to understand “elves” and “magic” but he thought it was fun anyway.  Hopefully he won’t mess with it too much.  If you have younger kids, you can always move the door up higher above a table or counter so it’s out of reach of little hands.

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

Elf Door--Start a new tradition with your family this Christmas!

I had so much fun putting this little elf door together!  I hope this will be a fun tradition we can enjoy for years to come.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

You Know You’re A Mom When…

20 answers to this question will leave you laughing!

Last week, I was making dinner, talking to my husband on the phone and trying to prevent my daughter from dragging a stool over to the stove so she could “help” when my 2.5 year old son came up and told me his tummy hurt.  I assumed he was hungry since it was close to dinner time, but almost as soon as the words “It’s almost dinnertime” were out of my mouth, the poor kid emptied his stomach all over the floor.  After a hasty good-bye to my husband, I walked my little boy quickly and carefully to the bathroom where he got a bath and told me he felt much better.

I was thinking back on this moment later that night and realized that it hardly even phased me.  I’ve been a parent for almost 5 years and dealt with plenty of instances that were less than pleasant.  My kids have dumped entire boxes of cereal all over the floor.  I’ve showered with an audience peering through the glass door.  I could go on and on.  But I’ve found that the times I try to deal with these things using humor, I’m much happier.

As I thought about this, I decided to post an open ended question on Facebook to see what kind of responses I would get.  The question?

“You know you’re a mom when…”

I got some pretty funny and completely relateable answers and I was laughing as I read them to myself.  Even today I can’t help but smile.  To read the responses I got, click over to Time Saving Mom for the full post! (see update below)

I’ve also linked up over at Simply Every’s Mom Life Monday Link-Up Party.  Check out the post there and read other posts on motherhood!

**UPDATE 12/17/16**

Amanda has decided she is no longer going to be running the Time Saving Mom blog so that she can focus her efforts in other areas.  She offered to let me move my content from there to here so that nothing would be lost.  Below is the post that originally appeared on Time Saving Mom on November 14, 2016.

As a parent, and especially as a stay-at-home mom, I’m around my kids a lot.  I’m the one that takes care of most of their needs.  Often, I’m the one they run to when they get hurt or feel sick.  I get them ready in the morning, drop them off at school, pick them up, feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner, help with projects, clean up their messes and read them books.  Lots of books.  And it’s good and fun and hard and crazy.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But let’s be honest.  Sometimes being a mom is super un-glamorous.  And messy.  You have to deal with a lot of bodily fluids and funny quirks and a lack of privacy.  So to all you moms out there:  I totally get it.  And you’re not alone.  I asked some of my friends to finish the sentence: “You know you’re a mom when…” and got some pretty awesome and completely relateable answers.
So kick back, read what these moms said and have a good laugh at life, because heaven knows that you have to have a sense of humor to make it through parenting.
You know you’re a mom when…
1. You eat your kids leftover food off their plate because you forgot to make yourself food. (Shani)
2. You can’t remember the last time you took a shower. (Alexis)
3. You run to catch their vomit in your hands to spare the carpet. (Julie)
4. Shopping at Target and Hobby Lobby is your weekly outlet and getting baby food all over you ain’t no thang. (Stephanie)
5. You can recognize your child’s real cry from their fake cry in .746 seconds. (Shani)
6. Going to the DMV is fun…if you don’t have your kids with you. (Lindsay)
7. You try to bribe your child to eat the food you made them. (Erica)
8. You have an audience while using the bathroom (Luz Marie)
9. You count going to Costco with your husband a date. (Shani)
10. You are so excited your child that is potty training poops in the toilet. (Christie)

11. You tell people you need to go “potty” instead of saying you need to use the bathroom. (Caroline)
12. Working out is the most relaxing part of your day. (Christy)
13. You can clean your whole house with baby wipes. (Shani)
14. All your shirts have stains or food on them and none of it is yours. (Rebecca)
15. You are a pro at negotiating and a trip to WalMart by yourself is a break. (Jacqueline)
16. You drive a minivan.  Also…your diaper bag becomes your purse. (Jessica)
17. Bodily fluids no longer gross you out–they are just standard fare. (Natalia)
18. You do shower, but you always have a little “guest”. (Melissa)
19. You have to tell someone they aren’t an animal and not to pee outside. (Megan)
20. You feel relieved when you figure out it’s barf on your clothes instead of poop. (Jacinda)

Share how you would end the sentence: “You know you’re a mom when…”.  I’d love to hear it and share a laugh with you!

Pumpkin Cake

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

I am not even kidding when I say I have been waiting all year to share this recipe with you!  Pumpkin cake has been a family favorite of ours for years.  We actually stopped making pumpkin pie and make this instead every year for Thanksgiving!  Yes, it is that good.

Last year when I shared my pumpkin gingersnap recipe with you, I mentioned how my mom loves pumpkin any time of year.  She is no respecter of seasons when it comes to pumpkin!  I generally only make it in the fall, but if you happen to get a craving for this dessert in the middle of the summer, then you wouldn’t be the first! *wink*

There are three steps to this recipe, but all of them are easy.  Below are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious dessert.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, measure 1 cup of the dry cake mix, 1/4 c. melted butter, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Mix together until combined.  Set aside.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

In a medium bowl, mix remaining cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 c. melted butter. 

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Drop by large spoonfuls into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and press into an even layer.  (I recommend lining it with tin foil and spraying with cooking spray.)

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

I rinsed out the medium bowl I used for the bottom layer and then beat together the pumpkin, salt, 2 eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, sugar, evaporated milk and milk.  You can do this by hand or with a mixer, but because it is liquidy, it tends to splatter a little bit.  Pour over the bottom layer.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Sprinkle the spiced mixture over the pumpkin layer using your hands.  You don’t want it to be fine crumbs or large chunks–somewhere in between.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before serving.  We like it with whipped cream on top but vanilla ice cream is really yummy too!

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

So let’s break this deliciousness down:

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Seriously, guys, I would not lead you astray!  Make this for Thanksgiving or your next holiday party and everyone will be asking for the recipe.

Pumpkin Cake
serves 20


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 2 c. pumpkin
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup dry yellow cake mix with 1/4 c. melted butter, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix remaining cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 c. melted butter.  Press into bottom of a 9×13 pan.  (I recommend lining it with tin foil and spraying with cooking spray.)
  4. Beat together pumpkin, salt, 2 eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, sugar, evaporated milk and milk.
  5. Pour over pan mixture.
  6. Sprinkle spiced cake mix from step 2 over the top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  8. Let cool before serving.
  9. Serve with whipped cream.

Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh {Plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Review of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers

At the beginning of the summer, I put together a summer reading list and challenged myself to get all the way through the list before the official start of fall.  I’m happy to say that I made it through almost all of them, plus a few others that weren’t originally on my list!  (You can find the list HERE and my reviews HERE.) The very first book I picked from my list was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I hadn’t heard anything about it other than the synopsis I read on Goodreads.

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In June of this year, we took a vacation with my husband’s family (parents, siblings/spouses and kids).  It was a lot of fun, but after being with everyone all day, I needed a little bit of time to unwind and relax.  I’d brought The Language of Flowers with me and found myself trying to find time to read it over the course of our vacation.  Everyone else would be inside visiting or watching a show and I was outside on the porch reading my book.  I was instantly caught up in Victoria’s story and knew within a few chapters that I wanted to suggest it for our book club.

My Summary and Review (5 stars):
Victoria Jones grew up in the foster care system bouncing from home to home, only finding comfort in flowers and their meanings.  Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria must find a way to make a living or be homeless.  She is offered a job working at Bloom and she soon discovers she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  Unexpectedly, someone from her past emerges and she’s forced to confront issues that have haunted her for years.  Victoria must decide if it’s worth the risk to delve deeper, and possibly lose what stability she’s found, for a second chance at happiness.

The Language of Flowers could have been a depressing story, but instead it was thought provoking and beautifully written.

Book Club Discussion Questions:

  • What did you think about the story telling style of the book? (switching from past to present)
  • Do you think the novel provided a fair depiction of the foster care system?
  • Why was Victoria so empathetic to the needs of others and is able to pick them the perfect flowers to express their feelings, but she has no sense of love or empathy for herself?
  • Do you agree with Victoria’s decision to give her baby to Grant?  Can you empathize with some of her feelings as a new mother?
  • Use one or two words to describe the book as a whole.
  • What do you think about the language of flowers?  Do you think the meaning a flower has gives some kind of power?
  • What would your wedding bouquet say about you and your spouse?  Is there any truth to it?
  • Do you like the openness of the ending?

If you’d like to read the other book reviews and questions/discussion I’ve posted about, you can click on the links below.

*May contain spoilers*

Summer 2016 Reading List Reviews and Ratings
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Shatter Me by Tahera Mafi

Happy reading!