Monday, December 10, 2018

10 Holiday Traditions My Kids Love


10 Holiday Traditions For Kids
Thank you Amazon for sponsoring this post. Give the gift of reading this holiday season with Prime Book Box!

When I think back to the holidays of my childhood, it is the family traditions that stand out most in my mind. Those activities we did every year felt so magical! And to this day, they remain some of the most special memories of my life. Holidays with kids are so full of wonder and excitement, and I knew from the moment my little ones were born that I wanted to create traditions for them as well. This year feels especially fun, because they are both at ages (almost 5 and almost 3) where they are able to remember holiday activities we did in previous years, and are asking to do them again. We're truly establishing traditions together, which is wonderful in every way.

Today I thought I'd share with you some of the holiday traditions my kids most love. Some are borrowed from my childhood and some are new. Some are commonplace and some are unique. But each of them is adored by my little ones - and by their mama and daddy too.


1. Doing an advent calendar. There are so many incredible creative ideas for this on Pinterest, but we just buy the old fashioned ones with chocolate inside like my husband and I had as kids, and our children absolutely love them. They are genuinely thrilled to open a new window each day starting on December 1st.

2. Making our own ornaments. If you're a regular reader, you may have seen the handmade ornaments we created last week. This is the second year in a row we've done this, and is something I did with my mom growing up as well. I can't wait to fill our tree with them over the years.

3. Reading together. This is another favorite tradition carried over from my childhood. Every evening, we turn on the Christmas tree lights, curl up together under a blanket (often with hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, or candy canes), and read books as a family. This season we've been reading books from our Prime Book Box. (Current favorites are Elmore, Kitten's First Full Moon, Mother Bruce, and The Friend Ship.) Prime Book Box is a subscription program, exclusively for Prime members, that is perfect for future book lovers, pre-readers, and readers, from age 0 to 12. Each box contains 2 hardcover books or 4 board books that were hand selected by Amazon editors, so kids are ensured to receive books they'll want to read again and again. We love ours so much! Learn more about the awesomeness that is Prime Book Box right here.


4. Seeing a holiday show. This year we've seen two holiday movies as a family (which I think totally counts!), but for us, our main holiday show tradition is the Nutcracker Ballet. My daughter is a dancer and it is her dream to perform in it (she will be old enough to audition next year!). She, my mom, and I go see it every year.

5. Creating a holiday collection. When I was growing up, I collected miniature Santas. Each year, my parents would let me choose a couple of new ones to add. I still have them all (close to 50!), and display them proudly every year. As I mentioned above, my daughter loves dance and the Nutcracker Ballet, so she decided to start collecting nutcrackers this year. It makes my heart swell!

6. Decorating the Christmas tree. Okay, so this isn't exactly original, but I couldn't not include it. This year we went and picked out our tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorated it that weekend. I think we'll do the same from now on. So much fun!

7. Giving a gift that truly keeps on giving. While the choosing of this gift itself is a tradition that is more for my husband and me, the opening of it by the kids on Christmas morning is something really cool that I hope to continue each year as they grow up. So many of the presents my kids receive for the holidays, while appreciated, ended up being quickly forgotten. My husband and I decided that giving them something they can receive throughout the year would be both practical and special. Prime Book Box is a perfect example of this. With Prime Book Box, any Prime member can give the gift of reading for the holidays, and because it is a subscription service (that delivers hand-picked, hardcover children's books  - the best!), your child can enjoy it throughout the year. And what's really cool is that you can choose how often you want it to come (every 1, 2, or 3 months), and also have the option to customize the books from a list of curated selections. Each kid also gets to see his or her own name on the box when it's delivered, which is really fun.


8. Taking holiday light drives. Every year we load up into the car, turn on the holiday music station, get hot chocolate to go, and drive to look at different light displays. My kids think it's the most magical thing ever.

9. Writing letters to Santa. This was one of my favorite parts of the holidays as a kid! Our park district has a program where you can register for letters from Santa by filling out a form with questions, having your little one write a letter to Santa, and then taking it to a special decorated mailbox at the community center. The letter that comes back is personalized on fun holiday paper.

10. Helping those in need. My daughter is at an age where she is beginning to understand this, and we talk a lot about how kindness and generosity are the things that most embody the spirit of the season. Last year, we had the kids choose toys they no longer played with to donate. This year, my daughter used money from her piggy bank to buy some in addition to this. It's such a great way to teach children about the importance of giving to those in need because they also see it as a fun tradition. And I've found that even really little ones feel good when they give to others!


Thank you for letting me share my children's favorite holiday traditions with you. I'd love to hear about your family's traditions as well! And, again, if you're looking for a unique holiday gift that can be appreciated all year long, I can't recommend Prime Book Box enough. You can't get much better than a gift that inspires a love of reading in kids, and the hardcover books contained in each box are just fantastic. It's priced right too at just $19.99 per box. (Prime members can save up to 40% off List Price! That's pretty great!) Click here to learn more about Prime Book Box, and subscribe today!

Happy holiday traditions, friends!


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Saturday, December 8, 2018

8 Gift Ideas for the Hip Dad


8 Gift Ideas for the Hip Dad
This post is in partnership with Gillette, but all opinions are my own. #gillettepartner

My husband will tell you he's the farthest thing ever from "hip," but I disagree. I mean, sure I think it's cool he works in the music industry, can genuinely fix or make anything after watching a quick YouTube video, runs marathons like they're a breeze, and has the best collection of black graphic tees in all the land. But the real reason I think he's hip is that he is an incredibly loving, hands-on parent and participates in pretty much anything and everything the kids are doing -from dressing up in princess costumes to arriving early to dance recitals so he can sit in the front row to cooking them amazing dinners every night he's home. When it comes to parenting, what's hipper than that?

Because Robbie is also hip in that he (at least in my eyes!) has great taste, he can be hard to buy for. I have a feeling many of you can relate to the challenge of finding the right gifts for the hip dads in your life as well. That's why I put together this round up with what I think are some really fun, stylish, and unique gift ideas (several of which I'm getting for my husband). I hope it inspires you in your holiday shopping!


1. Gillette Limited Edition Holiday Gift Packs. I am giving two of these babies to my husband this year, and I'm so excited about it you guys. Robbie doesn't take a lot of time to pamper himself, but I know how much he enjoys a nice shave. He's already a huge Gillette fan, and these limited edition holiday gift packs are super sleek (the matte black is everything!), so I know he's going to be thrilled. The MACH3 Turbo Gift Pack features a premium matte black razor handle (a first of its kind offered by Gillette!), a matte black and chrome razor stand, and three 3-bladed cartridges. The Fusion ProShield Gift Pack also includes the chic matte black razor handle and matte black and chrome razor stand, and comes with one 5-bladed cartridge. Robbie won't settle for less than Gillette when it comes to razors, so I know he's going to be stoked with these seriously rad gift packs. And the price is right: they're each only $19.99. You can pick up one (or both!) for the hip dad in your life at your local Walmart or Walmart.com.

2. A Cool Coffee Mug. A coffee mug is a classic gift (especially if the hip dad in your life loves his joe like mine does), and there are all sorts of them out there (like this "Rad Dad" mug from Annabel Trends) that will remind him on the daily that he's not like a regular dad, he's a cool dad.

3. My Dad Used to Be So Cool Book by Keith Negley. This book is equal parts funny and emotional, with the neatest illustrations. My daughter actually spotted it first and asked if she could give it to my husband this year, which I thought was really quite brilliant. It's a great way to remind him that he's still the coolest.

4. Wireless Earbuds. These beauties from Sennheiser are top of the line (and not cheap), but there are lots of more affordable wireless headphones on the market that are also great quality. For my music loving runner husband, wireless headphone kind of nail it.

5. Wool slippers. It's a classic, practical gift made cool. I love this pair from Giesswein.

6. Sleek Travel Tumbler. My husband is on the road a lot, whether on tour with the band for work or running the kids to school and activities (which, when he's off, he does a lot more than I do), and he likes to have his coffee and/or water with him. When it comes to travel tumblers, you can't get much hipper than a matte black version like this one from Kinto.

7. Multi Device Charging Dock. The hip dad we live with has a whole lot of gadgets that need to be charged. A nice looking multi device charging dock like this one from Urban Outfitters would be much appreciated.

8. A Hip Cookbook. If the cool dad in your life enjoys cooking, a unique cookbook might be just what he needs. I'm definitely snagging this Snoop Dogg cookbook for Robbie (and kind of for myself too).


If you have any other fun gift ideas for hip dads, I'd love to hear them in the comments! Happy holiday shopping, friends.



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Thursday, December 6, 2018

DIY Crayon Wax Decorated Holiday Ornaments


How to Make Crayon Wax Decorated Holiday Ornaments with Your Kids
This post is in partnership with Crayola. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

When I was growing up, every holiday season my mom would come up with fun holiday themed crafts for my sister and I to do. It was a tradition in our family - one to which I looked forward for months. We made everything from DIY wrapping paper printed with stamps made from potatoes to homemade gifts for extended family. But my favorite holiday craft was making our own ornaments. Sometimes they were made from construction paper and string. Other times they were more complicated and involved homemade dough, cookie cutters, baking and painting. They never looked very pretty, but they were perfect. Many of them, in fact, hang proudly on our Christmas tree.

Last year, I decided to start an ornament making tradition of our own, and Essley and I made ornaments out of cardboard, paint, and string. She was so filled with joy during every step of the process, and it was one of the first things she asked to do this holiday season. I couldn't wait either.


I had to run to the grocery store on Black Friday, and while browsing the toy section, saw the coolest new item in the crafts aisle called the Crayola Crayon Melter. Using it, kids (and adults!) can safely melt Crayola crayons and use the liquefied wax to create art on all sorts of surfaces, including canvas, wood, ceramics, and glass. I immediately knew it would be perfect for Essley and I to create some truly unique ornaments together. And I thought I'd share the process with you today, in case you'd like to create some fun crayon wax art holiday ornaments of your own!


WHAT YOU'LL NEED

The Crayola Crayon Melter 
Crayola Crayons (8 come in the Crayon Melter box, and we had some old ones as well.)
Globe ornaments (Can be any type of blank ornament. We used plastic but are trying wood next!)


DIRECTIONS

1. Plug in the Crayon Melter.
2. Remove paper wrappers from crayons with the wrapper ripper (included in the kit).
3. Break full crayons into 3 pieces.
4. Insert 1 crayon piece into Crayon Melter and wait for the light to turn green.
5. Use the practice sheets from Crayon Melter kit to practice making art.
6. Create! Use the crayon melter to doodle directly onto the ornaments to make fun textured designs.


The great thing about the Crayon Melter is that even though we've had so much fun making holiday ornaments with it, it can be used all year round for other craft projects too. And because we (like most houses with young kids) pretty much always have old crayons sitting around (you can use unwrapped Crayola regular, neon, metallic, or washable crayon pieces), it's something we can do anytime. The fact that it's an eco-conscious way to reuse old crayons is a major bonus. The compact design is a nice feature too, and it's safe, with a low-heat tip so your kids can get creative without worry. Oh, and the Crayola Crayon Melter has been named one of the Best Toys of 2018 by Parents magazine, is a winner of both the 2018 National Parenting Product Awards and the 2018 Play that Advances Language Awards. No big deal.


Essley and I had so much fun creating these (even Emmett got in on the action after his nap with some help from mom and dad), and both kids were thrilled to hang them on the tree and wrap some up as gifts for the grandparents. They were also both smitten with the cool textures it created - so different than just painting or drawing. Working on the project together, with holiday music playing in the background and Christmas cookies in the oven, created such a genuine emotional response in me. I kept thinking back to my own childhood and feeling so grateful to have experiences like these with my own little ones. I look forward to continuing to make holiday ornaments together every year.


Anyone else have the Crayola Crayon Melter yet? If not, go get one (they're just $24.99 at Crayola.com and retailers nationwide) and you can thank me later! Then, I challenge you to create some crayon wax decorated holiday ornaments or art of your own. Make sure to share them on social media with the tag #CrayonMelter so I can see them! Happy holidays!


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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bathtime Bonding with My Sweetest Big Boy


This post is sponsored by Triple Soap and Triple Wash on behalf of Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

As many of you know, my son 2.5 year old son Emmett's first year of life was quite different from most babies experience. At 7 months, he was diagnosed with a catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy that leaves most little ones with severe cognitive and/or physical issues, delays, and other challenges. We are profoundly grateful for the fact that Emmett was one of the few who was able to beat the disease and come out of it completely on track developmentally. In fact, what he went through, and all we endured as a family, has made every milestone and step toward independence feel like something to celebrate. And his latest desire for independence - in his words, to be a "big boy in the bath" - is no exception.

Bathtime has always been an incredibly bonding experience for me with both my kids. It's the time of day when I have completely stepped away from work, have put away my phone, have taken a break from whatever house work or bills or life stuff needs attention, and am completely focused on them. When they were babies, there was the soothing, calming experience of gently cleaning them in the warm water. When they grew into young toddlers and were old enough to play, it was all about splashing and bath toys and fun together. And now that Emmett wants to do more in the bathtub all by himself, bathtime bonding has become a special source of pride for me, where I am able to remember all he went through and marvel at his independence, while also being able to take time together to sing songs, laugh, and talk. It's pretty wonderful.



From the moment he enters the bathroom these days, Emmett wants to do it all. He gets himself undressed (albeit awkwardly), gets himself in the tub, and immediately wants to get himself clean. It's both hilarious and endearing, and truly a special time for me.

After I get his hair wet, the first thing he grabs is our beloved Triple Wash®, and gets to it washing his hair and body. Triple Wash is a super gentle, mild all-in-one shampoo/body wash that is fragrance free and perfect for Emmett's normal skin, as well as his sister's sensitive skin. (It was designed for both!) I love that it's pH-balanced and works so well at maintaining normal skin barriers, especially now in the wintertime when the air is so dry. He loves to sing the "I can wash my hair" song while he's washing it, and then we work together to rinse it. And because it's tear-free, I don't have to worry about it dripping as he washes his own hair.


Next, he grabs his "teddy bear soap," aka Triple Soap®, an all-natural, mild, safe soap bar embossed with a teddy bear for easy toddler holding. It is safe and gentle for everyday use on sensitive and normal skin, and can even help sooth eczema (which I have), contact dermatitis, and diaper rash. He washes his body with it while we sing more songs and talk about all his favorite things. He also likes to make the teddy bear on the soap tell me how much he loves me. You can't get better than that.

During bathtime, as Emmett repeatedly says, "mommy look what I can do," we both beam. Not so long ago, I was told that he likely wouldn't even be able to sit up on his own, much less joyously bathe himself. It's something I will never take for granted. This, combined with the fact that both Emmett and I love using products that I can trust (and easily order on Amazon!) from the Triple Paste family, makes bathtime a wonderful experience for both of us, and create memories that I will always cherish.


Who else finds bathtime one of the most bonding experiences you have with your little ones? Have you tried Triple Soap and Triple Wash, from the family that makes Triple Paste Diaper Rash ointment? If not, I highly recommend them as safe, gentle, soothing products for cleaning your babes. Click here or here for a special Amazon promo code where you can grab some of your own for 50% off!



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