Friday, June 19, 2015

Huge 75% Off Gymboree Semi-Annual Sale


The other day, I was waiting in line for a bouncy house with my 20-month old daughter. A woman in line in front of me pointed at her and said, "See? She wears Gymboree, too!" Turns out, the woman was a designer for the company. I told her that she does excellent work because most days, my kids are dressed head to toe in Gymboree gear. I shop there because I love the design, but also because I like the quality. Both the boys and girls clothes can stand the wear and tear of my active kids.

I figure that if I'm buying it so much, I might as well share with my readers ways to score your own at a great price. Right now, everything at Gymboree is up to 75% off during the Gymboree Semi-Annual Sale. Plus, there is free shipping on order of $75 or more! I tend to hit up these sales by filling up on what I need for the season (tanks, shorts, swim suits) and thinking ahead to fall and winter (jeans, long sleeve shirts) by buying one size up.

Happy weekend shopping!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pinterest In Real Life: Teacher Appreciation Cards, Part II

My son's school has a wonderful group of women who act as the morning and afternoon care givers for the kids. Their work of wrangling the kids through the playground and providing them with stimulating books and activities deserves reward. Just as I wanted to gift my son's teachers with a Target gift card, I wanted to provide a little gift for these other women who help shape his days. Off to Pinterest I went to continue my adventures with Pinterest In Real Life.

THANKS A LATTE CARD

With all that a coffee shop can provide these days, it is hard to go wrong with a gift card from your local coffee vendor. I found an adorable and easy gift card solution at Sweet Metel Moments with the perfect color printable.

Supplies:

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1 coffee gift card
1 printable from Sweet Metel Moments
1 sheet of scrapbook paper
1 glue stick
1 pair of scissors

The recommendation was to print the printable on cardstock. I chose instead to print it on regular printer paper and cut it out. With a glue stick, I attached it to a slightly larger rectangle of scrapbook paper in a coordinating color. I then glued the back of the gift card holder to the white space on the printable and in less than five minutes, I was done! Pinterest success!

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Pinterest In Real Life: Teacher Appreciation Cards, Part I

Many of my friends are teachers. Recently, I asked one of them, "What do teachers really want for a gift? Gift cards or something special I've chosen for them myself?"

She looked me in the eye with a serious expression and said, "Gift cards. Every time." She then paid for my coffee with one of her multiple Starbucks gift cards. Message received.

It's time for another experiment in my series: Pinterest in Real Life. With that, I headed off to Pinterest for inspiration on how I might creatively package your average gift card for my son's teachers and school assistants. I have various Pinterest boards, like Templates or DIY Gifts, where I store up ideas that I love.

TARGET GIFT CARD HOLDER

For Keagan's classroom teachers, I bought Target gift cards. I figured that they could use them for a variety of purposes rather than one set item. When I found a printable Target gift card holder on Landeelu, I knew I had to give it a try. (And go check out Landeelu - so many good ideas!)

Supplies:

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1 Target gift card
Printable template from Landeelu
1 sheet of black construction paper or card stock
1 glue stick
1 pair of scissors

I did some tweaks on my card in the interest of time. I wanted to knock these out while watching Game 1 of the Warriors/Cavs Finals match-up, so simplicity was key. Using black construction paper as the backdrop, I simply cut out the template and glued it to the top of the paper. I opted not to round off the edges and keep it rectangular. Rather than get frustrated by an Exacto knife, I decided to simply glue the gift card envelope to the construction paper. I kept the sticky putty from the original gift card holder on the back of the gift card and used it to secure it in place inside the envelope. Once closed, I added the teacher's name and BAM. Appreciation card is complete.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Challenge of Shopping With A Toddler

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I've had people ask me why I don't post outfit photos as much anymore. I have lots of reasons, starting with a lack of time and ending with sheer laziness. It's a sliding scale on any given day of the week.

One of the main reasons I'm not as focused on clothes is that my shopping trips typically end in failure. Bringing a toddler along on to a clothing or shoe store can be disastrous, stressful and non-productive. I mean, look at this picture above. Who can expect a kid not to be tempted to play and run free? The long aisles that demand a game of chase! The shiny boxes that all need touching! There are new obstacles to climb and knock over at every turn. And who wants to sit in a cart for an hour? BORING.

My shopping trips are now limited and timed out. There is no room for distraction from my mission. I have fifteen minutes, maximum, to get in, find a pair of black flats and get out. There will be no gazing at gorgeous stilettos. One eye on a nude pump means one eye that is not on my little girl tangling herself up in a rack of purses.

And trying on clothes? Please. Confining a kid to a dressing room is worse than attempting to keep him sitting in a cart. If the dressing room has curtains, the entire store is guaranteed to see your lady business. If the walls are partitioned, then you will certainly be dragging an army-crawling toddler back into your section of the wall and shouting "I'm sorry!" to your unnamed neighbor.

Shop online, you say? Sure. I can do that. I DO do that. But that is not nearly as fun as taking my leisurely time sifting through racks in hunt of a sales steal. I love to look at window displays and the way things are styled. More so, I love taking my time while I walk from store to store. Clicking and scrolling is not the same.

So what do I do? I chose my moments. I find time when I can, thanks to my agreeable husband, to get out now and then. And when there isn't time, I drag the kids along with the knowledge that this probably isn't going to work out in my favor, but there is always a guaranteed laugh somewhere in the chaos. And instead of writing about my new shoes, I write about the time I tried to get new shoes and my daughter decided instead, it would be way more fun to run from me and bang her head into a shelf (she quickly learned she was mistaken - not fun.).

It all evens out in the end. I'll show you the shoes I bought while they napped in a later post.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Go, Mommy, Go!

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A couple of weeks ago, I ran a 5K and I ran it hard. This was the first time that my kids would see my race and I wasn't about to disappoint them or myself.

While it is true I've started to get back into racing, I'm not so into it that I can brag I'm truly dedicated. For example, it was Friday that I remembered I had a race to run on Saturday morning. Whoops.

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I wasn't going to let a little thing like a lack of training stop me. Once I got into my sneakers and into race mode, I was pumped up. The music, the people checking their training watches, stretching my ham strings and feeling the energetic bounce of the crowd got me wired. When racing, I always have to tell myself to slow down on that first mile and ignore my adrenaline's push to go, go, go. Upon the final countdown to begin, I was off.

While I ran, I thought about seeing my kids at the finish line. There was an overwhelming sense of importance to my run that day. It wasn't about my health, or having the fastest time, or simply doing something I enjoy. This felt like a demonstration to my children that women can do powerful things at any age. I wanted my son to see his mother accomplishing a physical goal so he will see women as driven and capable beings. I wanted my daughter to see her mother persevering and modeling strength so she, too, can push through all obstacles in life. Huffing and puffing, I was feeling very satisfied with myself.

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And then I realized since I hadn't been paying attention, I'd run my first mile at a pace one minute faster than my normal pace. I was red faced, I was exhausted, my underwear had lodged themselves in an uncomfortable wedge and I had 2.1. more miles to go. I immediately stopped patting myself on the back.

It was then that I spotted my family - Kevin and the kids had arrived just in time to see me turn the first mile. Keagan's face lit up. "Mommy! Go, Mommy, go!" he shouted, jumping back and forth from one foot to the other. Sutton smiled wide in recognition and yelled, "Mommy!" My tank was instantly full.

The remainder of the race was driven by my desire to see my kids at the finish line. As I ran, I decided that I would grab Keagan out of the crowd and have him cross the finish with me. I guess that great minds think alike.

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Before I could say a word, Keagan jumped in front of me and said, "Mommy, I'm going to race with you!" He bolted ahead, his little legs scurrying quickly, his arms pumping wildly. The race announcer made mention of Batman approaching the finish line. We crossed together and I gave him a high five while trying to catch my breath. Kevin gave me a kiss and told me he was proud of me and Sutton embraced me in a sweaty hug.

It was later that I learned I set my personal record best time ever for a 5K and I have my family to thank for it. All I needed to hear were the words, "Go, Mommy, go!"

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Wine and Canvas - A Great Girl's Night Out

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This was my mission, should I choose to accept it. I chose to give it my best shot with the help of a little wine.

Have you heard of Wine and Canvas? I was introduced to it through my local mother's club as part of a series of "Mom's Night Out" events. I joked that I hadn't done anything artsy since high school and it was then I realized that a big part me of me missed expressing that creative side. I was pleased to see the painting I was setting out to recreate was something I might actually want to hang on my wall...depending on the outcome.

Wine and Canvas brings the painting party to you, complete with instruction on how to achieve certain painting techniques. Think of it as a grown-up paint by number, complete with cocktails and appetizers. After my first glass of champagne, I was feeling pretty confident about where I was headed.

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I sent a photo to my friend Heather, who is a TRUE artist (see her work on Instagram) and told her that what I was now an artist just like her. Yeah. The same. Exactly. Totally.

After finishing our sky and ocean setting, it was time to tackle the bridge. I was now 1 1/2 glasses deep and the idea of drawing stick-straight lines was laughable. It took all my focus to try to work that brush. Observe:

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That is the face of a tipsy lady that means business.

I ended up laughing to the point of near tears as my girlfriends and I compared various shapes of wobbly bridges. In the end, I ended up with a full-on Monet. You know...from far away, it's OK, but up close, its a big old mess. (Thanks, Cher Horowitz.)

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I would definitely do Wine and Canvas again - it was a hilarious night out with a little bit of productivity and creativity mixed in!

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Disclosure: I was not compensated by Wine and Canvas whatsoever for this post. I just really loved this party. However, if they want to throw a deal my way for next time, they know where to find me and my mad bridge skills.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Four Ways To Find Balance During Morning Chaos

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When you are a mom, every moment is precious. We all beat ourselves up for not fitting all of our plans and desires into the day. Between work, blogging and motherhood, I'm still working on finding a healthy balance between what needs to be done and what I want to do. With Mother's Day on the horizon, I salute all of the moms out there for keeping all the plates spinning.

I'm a very hands-on mom. If my daughter wants to dance with me in the morning while holding a banana and a leaky water bottle, I'm always up for it. If my son says he needs extra cuddles, I drop everything to grab him in my embrace. But my desire to spend quality time with my kids while knowing that I need to get out the door in time for my commute to work is never easy. It requires a lot of preparation and planning.

Here are my tips for balancing work and play in the morning:

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1) Be thoughtful about your morning routine, down to the last minute. We have to get the kids fed, dressed and out the door before 7:00 AM. Lunches need to be prepped the night before and we tend to think about breakfast options before going to bed. Since none of this involves my own morning readiness, I try to think about what I'm going to wear before ending my day - that involves which dress, what hosiery, which shoes, etc. Eliminating these tiny decisions adds extra minutes that help you get out the door quickly and smoothly.

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2) Put down your phone. Whether it is early morning or late evening, I fall victim to checking my work email. And if that wasn't bad enough, I have my blog email to check, as well as a personal email, and all my social media on Facebook and Twitter, and so on. The few minutes I gain answering an email or commenting on a friend's photo are not worth the many precious moments I lose that could be spent playing pretend cooking with my kids. The work can wait for work and when it can't, it can wait until after bed time.

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3) Give yourself a couple minutes for a once-over. Most days, I'm lucky if I can get out of the door smudge-free. Something is always snagged or stained. I find that if I give myself two minutes for a last check, I won't discover a small peanut butter finger print on my behind mid-meeting.

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4) At the end of the day, take some time for yourself. Find small ways to pamper yourself, whether it is a quick at-home pedicure or relief for tired eyes. This is one I'm not as great at completing. I'm fortunate that L'eggs, the brand responsible for the hosiery seen in this post and the brand that has been in my life since my mother wore them when I was a child (fresh out of the plastic eggs!), recognized this need and sent me a sweet care package with goodies for my own personal pampering.

The point is this: with a little bit of planning and a lot of relaxed breathing, you can do this, mama.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by L'eggs and the opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own. And if you want my thoughts on L'eggs hosiery, I can tell you that they are the silkiest, smoothest nude sheers  you will find at an excellent price point. Like I said, my mom wore them and now so do I! You can follow L'eggs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

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