Saying Goodbye To The Baby Chapter

As 2015 comes to a close, I can't help but want to dig in my heels and stop it from happening. You see, a lot more than the year is coming to a close; so is the baby-toddler chapter for my son. With his fourth birthday a few weeks away, he's turning a major corner. He will no longer be a toddler. (Insert gasps, tears and a pity party)

 It feels like just yesterday, he was a ball of baby fat and coos. 

I see it happening before my eyes. His fat cheeks are thinning out. His chubby legs are now long sticks, that end at huge feet. His sweet little baby hands are growing into big boy hands. His personality and vocabulary have exploded.

Seeing my little guy grow up is so incredibly bittersweet. I love the baby years. Even the wild defiant toddler years. But I also love how with each passing day he becomes this brilliant little human full of life, ideas and stories to tell. I love how funny he is. How he says exactly what's on his mind. How he gets so excited when he runs fast or climbs a wall. How he can stay up later without a meltdown, meaning we can go more places as a family, without having to leave by 6pm or risk a mental meltdown.

I expect next year to be full of a new experiences and challenges for both of us. He will run faster, climb higher and push for more independence, and I will have no choice but to standby and watch it happen. In fact, not only do I have to let him grow up, as a parent, it's my job to encourage and guide him.

But what I can do is slow down, so I can genuinely experience and love every single second while it happens.

As the year comes to a close, and soon a major chapter for my son, I'm doing my best to slow down and prioritize my life to include more quality time with the little guy. I want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible playing with and marveling at the beautiful toddler he is today.

Because until he turns four, he is still my little terror toddler. And I intend to love every last second of it.


5 Tips For Family Travel By Air, Sea, or Land

Planning a trip? Heading to Grandmas for the Holidays, escaping the bitter cold for warm sands? Regardless of the mode of transportation or destination, one thing remains the same, the kids are coming and you need to prepare. Below are five of my best tips for meltdown free family travel. 

1. Pack Light! With so many gadgets, toys, clothes, blankets, bedtime bears and favorite pillows to consider for the trip, it's easy to over pack. Very easy. Combat this by making a list for each family member, and sticking to it!  Then, once every one's necessities are packed, allow each member of the family to pick ONE favorite item to take. It's not like you're leaving for good, it's a week! 

Road Trip Tip: Clean and check the headlights and taillights. While giving the exterior some love, double check tires' air pressure and tread and look for nails or debris that could be potentially dangerous. You may want to invest in an air freshener too!

2. Snack Attack. Whether it's a hungry kid or a chatty Cathy, snacks will come in very handy.  Skip the traditional sandwiches for bento box lunches to keep kids busy. 

Road trip snack TIP: Freeze small bottles of water and use them in the cooler instead of ice. The frozen bottles will keep things cool and the cooler from filling with melted ice water that sloshes back and forth with every turn, begging to pour out all over the floor of the car.

3. Floors Are For Feet Only. Let's face it, the floors can be valuable real estate when traveling, but not so great for the person losing the foot space. Free up the foot space by hanging bags on the back seat. Backpacks fit nicely over the 'shoulders' of the seat or secured by the headrest or airplane tray-table.

4. Check Your Tech. Before embarking on any trip, check your tech; make sure the camera has batteries, all phone, tablet and laptop batteries are fully charged and accessories are packed IN THE SAME BAG! When it comes to a crying kid over a dying tablet, the last thing you'll want to do is search four bags to find it. Keep all tech together for easy access. 

5. Organization is KEY, especially when traveling with kids. Not only do you have to keep up with the kids, itinerary, tech, snacks, money and tickets, you have to stay a step a head of your kid's needs to avoid meltdowns! Needless to say, without stellar organization, trying to keep up with everything will cause you to have a major meltdown. 

Road trip tip: Whether you're traveling with a child or not, invest in a box of baby wipes. The pre-moistened wipes clean messy faces and surfaces in a pinch, and without stinky harsh chemicals! Not to mention, those little wipes will be a lifesaver at those grimy roadside and airport bathrooms that haven't seen an attendant in at least a decade.

MOM TIP, I have a Global Travel Jacket that features huge pockets and lots of them, I pretty much empty my handbag into the various pockets. It's great for carrying EVERYTHING completely hands free. They are pretty cool. I have one and so does FTD.

Look at all of the features! 

Last but not least, Be smart, Be Safe and use the buddy system as all times. Especially in large crowds. 

What are your best tips for headache free family travel?


Where Did I Go Wrong In My Parenting That My Kid Thinks...

(Let it be known, this is a mother rant prompted by the mid-point of winter break. Both the kid and I are going crazy. This post is a small glimpse into our days.)

Now that my son, almost four going on twelve, is constantly up to no-good, I find myself asking daily, Where did I go wrong in my parenting that my kid thinks... 

You see, I'm a great mom! A very patient, understanding and compromising, mom. Still, my kid loses his mind daily, doest stupid stuff that drives me nuts, that leaves me asking, who is this child and where did he come from, because now way I would raise a child that thinks he can do whatever he wants! Because of his indifference to rules and social norms, daily I'm searching for answers to help me understand why he's so sure that he can do whatever he wants!

No way did I raised a child like that!

At least, I don't think I did?

Still, the fact remains I'm constantly asking myself, Where did I go wrong in my parenting that my kid thinks... 

My bed is his bed. That, in the middle of the night when he wakes up in his own bed, he should run like a heard of elephants to mommy and daddy's bed, then jump across us, throwing elbows and knees like a prize fighter.


The world is one big potty. It dosen't mater where we are, if the kid is outside and he needs to go, he goes. On the tree, bush, house, car tire, fence, at the church picnic... The kid gives new meaning to, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Trust me, we're working very hard to get him to appreciate modern plumbing.)

The couch is just an upholstered trampoline. I am constantly battling with my toddler about jumping on the couch and chairs. Constantly.

It's mommy's job to clean up his mess. OK. I know where I went wrong here. I's just that when I let him do it, the mess doubles in size and headache.

What really sucks is when throws out back-to-back dumbassery,  That's when I end up asking both of us, Where did I go wrong in my parenting that YOU THINK:

  • You can climb on the kitchen counter and dig out cookies for breakfast.
  • you can yell at me when I take the cookies away.
  • Swatting at me when I scold you for yelling at me.
  • You will get your way if you run into another room, throw a toy and meltdown
When the day starts like that, I want to run away to Never-Combing-Back island. But the damn kid is so cute, I can't leave. So, I do what every other parent does; reprimand him for being a butthead, then swear tomorrow will be better, and pray for it too.

No doubt about it, kids are crazy, and do everything in their power to make their parents just as crazy.



Don't Forget To Track Santa On NORAD! #NORAD #SANTA

Can you believe it's already Christmas Eve?  

After months of planning, gift buying and travel planning, it's finally here. 

You know who else is almost here?  


One of my favorite things to do  on Christmas Eve is watch Santa fly across the world delivering presents. For 60-years, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (They conduct aerospace warning , aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America.) has tracked Santa's flight path, alerting families across the globe to Santa''s exact coordinates. 

I get my nephews all amped up about, SANTAS COMING!!!!  I call, send screen shots, send countdown updates... 

Something else that is super cool for the big kids is when Santa reaches a place, a little camera icon appears with information about that part of the world.


If you've never tracked Santa, I can't recommend enough doing it. I bet you will love it as much as your children. 

To get started, head over to Noradsanta.com.



4 Tips To Maximize Tech Time

**I've partnered with Sneaky Bruno Games, maker of Brains, A Trivia Adventure to share my best tips for maximizing tech time. All tips and opinions are my own.  

Whether you like it or not, ALL technology is equipped with a homing beacon that attracts children to it. From drool on your phone, to fingerprints on the TV,  to PB&J jammed in the home button of your tablet, there's no denying, your child's obsession with everything tech.

Being a know-it-all first-time mom, I was determined to fight it. I wanted my kid to develop motor skills the old fashioned way, with wooden blocks and board books. I had grand plans of him playing outside every waking hour and reading books on his own by three.

Above all, under no circumstance was he going to have tech time before ten.

Oh. What. A. Fool. I Was.

Eventually, he wore me down. I caved, and handed over my phone.

Five minutes passed, and not a word or sound from my toddler.

Which, in toddler minutes is like four and half hours.

Slowly but surely, I gave in to my toddler's tech time demands.

But not without doing the research and monitoring his use like the worst kind of Helicopter parent.

Below are my lessons learned in the form of my best tips to maximize tech time:


Why Does Daddy Always Get To Be The Awesome One? #DaddysHome

Do you ever watch a movie and think, That's just like my life! This happened to me the other day when I watched the trailer for the new Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg movie opening on Christmas day, Daddy's Home .

Basically, Mark Wahlberg is the super cool (and HOT!) biological father coming to see his children for Christmas. The children happen to now be Will Ferrell step-children. I know what you're thinking, how can this movie have anything to do with you?

I'll tell you.

It's Time For The Great Toy And Crap Clean Out of 2015

With Christmas only a few days away, it's time for my annual, Great Toy Clean Out! For the third year in a row, I'm decluttering my child's toys before new ones arrive. After a year of playing and growing, many of the toys are no longer age appropriate or haven't been played with in months. 

Beside the fact I can't stand the unnecessary clutter, there are many children who would love the toys my child no longer does, so, Annual toy clean out it is! I'll also gather old clothes, blankets, hats and gloves to donate as well.


Nothing Drives Me More Crazy About My Husband and Child Than THIS!

The week before Thanksgiving, Ollie made a "We Give Thanks" placemat to use at Thanksgiving dinner. When he brought it home, he proudly placed it on the dining table, ready to me tell me all about it. He showed me how he made a turkey with his hand, and then pointed to a list of things he told his teacher he was thankful for. 

As I read the list, I didn't know if I wanted to scream, throw up or take a shot. 


Last Minute FAMILY Gift Guide: Something for Everyone (Pet Included!)

Having trouble finding a gift for the wife, a sibling, or furry pet? Below are a few of my favorite things for every family member, including the furry one!

For The furry friend. No doubt, going to the vet can be a very expensive experience. For that reason, I LOVE Vet on Demand. Vet On Demand takes the bank-breaking fear out of going to the vet. Because, you do it from home on your Smartphone!


THIS Is A New Parent MUST HAVE #CongiCase #GameChanging

I am all for crowd funding campaigns!  Besides the fact that I've scored amazing products at a fraction of their now retail price, I love that small moms and pops get a chance to bring their dreams and creations to life. What's more, it's a space for parents to bring true game-changing products to the scene. 

Some of the best products I've reviewed, have been created by parents. Parents know what children love, want and need, so it's no surprise they make the best new products! 

One of those parents produced products that I recently fell in love with is the Congi Case. You know how getting a great photo of a newborn to toddler can be a challenge?  The Congi Case combines medically proven facts about newborn to toddler eye development with STEM graphics to get those little ones to stay still and actually FOCUS on the camera! 

**Today, I'm partnering with Izzy Gear to share a fantastic STEM design inspired product that will help new parents get the perfect photo every time. All opinions are my own. Starting with this one, I LOVE  THE CONGI CASE! 

Are You A Confident Parent?

In a few short days, my husband and son will be home for 14 glorious days. This basically means, I will have a toddler stuck to my ass 24/7 for two solid butt-hugging weeks.

Concerned for my sanity, I called  y sister, mother of two boys. I whined about how I was sure the two were going to kill me. I asked her how she survives the Christmas holidays with her marbles.   She told me the key is to be confident.

She said, "Repeat after me, I'm a confident Mother. Now, own it."


Nothing Brings Out Family Dysfunction Fun Like The Holidays

You know what I love most about the holidays? Family.

I love my family. We are all so different, but thanks to a few marriage certificates, DNA, c-sections and failed attempts to convince my brother he was adopted and needed to go find his real family, we are by law, in some way or another, family. So, being that social norms dictate we come together during the holidays, we do it. 

While I can't wait for the pack of assholes to come through my door, I'm know a few are "late" because they are dreading the dysfunction junction my house becomes when we all come together. The exes, in-laws, neighbors, family-less friends, some dude my brother met at a rock-crawling event that he thought was cool...


My Go To Gift For Girls, Young and Old, Is A Guaranteed Smile Maker

I read somewhere that the gifts we choose to give is predominantly driven by our own wants. Basically, we buy gifts that we would want ourselves.

My sister says this is never more true than when we buy our children gifts. She insists everything she buys her boys (8yr & 10yr) that she thinks they will LOVE, are barely even excited by.

We see a book or toy we think is great and wouldn't mind playing with, so we but it. Then, once it's in the hands of the child, they cast it aside and play with the cardboard box it came in instead.

Thankfully, my one go to gift for girls, young and old, is a guaranteed smile maker. In fact, when ever I feel gloomy or down, I buy it for myself, or should I say, them.

The one gift any girl would love to get is, flowers. And being that flowers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and fragrances, there is a flower for every girl. I personally prefer wild flowers to roses on Valentines day. 

One of my girlfriend is the opposite; Her dream is to fill her house with roses. 

However, there is one kind of rose I would love to have in my house all year long, Willy Wonka Roseslike the ones at Flowers for EveryoneEveryone.


To me, flowers are one of the most beautiful, yet simple, gifts to both give and receive. And there is no occasion they are not perfect for. 

This holiday season, if you are trying to find a gift for the person who has everything, give flowers. 

Seriously, who doesn't love flowers?


Something Crazy Happened When I Became A Mom

A really weird thing happened to me when I gave birth to my son, I became this weird maternal person. Inherently, I knew what to do and if I trusted my instinct, I was a really great mom.

Progressively, my maternal mindset started taking over every aspect of my life.

I started saying 'Sugar' instead of 'SH!T'.

I stopped staying up late, because sleeping-in was no longer an option. (My inner-dragon must have sleep to be peaceful.)

I started planning family meals, rather than waiting until I got hungry and ordered out or scavenge for popcorn and wine.

I joined mom clubs instead of wine book clubs.

I began reading parenting books instead of fiction.

And now, my latest crazy change, I'm finished with my holiday shopping!

Complete. Madness.

I am the queen of Christmas Eve Shopping at Wal-mart with Wine and FTD. However, this year, I'm finished shopping early and making christmas cookie playdates.


I'll tell you what's happening, I'm making the necessary changes in my life to keep balance and harmony. Last year, last minute shopping with the toddler and FTD nearly cost me my sanity.

Truth be told, even though I loved my former pre-child self, and would have DIED if I heard I was going to become a super maternal, priority list having, ass-wiping mom, decorating Christmas cookies on Christmas eve instead of wining it up in Wal-mart...

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I am so thankful for my son. He's shown me love like I've never know, helped me clean up my crazy twenty-something ways, and most of all, be the best person I can be. 

This holiday season, while I'm counting my blessings and reflecting on years past, it's wonderful to know, with the help of my child, I've become a pretty good grown-up with a rockin' maternal mindset, carving a course to a pretty freaking amazing life.


Of Course My Kid Would Pick NOW To Do THIS

For almost a year, I've been dreading the inevitable, my three-year-old dropping his last nap. That glorious two hours where I can sit down and breathe. I had so many parents tell me it would happen right around his third birthday.

But it didn't.

At three and a half, he was still happily napping. So, I decided I was one of the lucky ones and stopped worrying.

Then, somewhere around three and nine months, getting him to take a nap started to suck. Sometimes he would nap easily, others I would battle him for an hour, before finally giving up. Yes, I lasted an hour of chasing him back to bed, giving into one more cuddle, and making empty treats.

For about a month, I went back-and-forth with putting him down for nap or just letting him stay awake in his room, "resting."

It became clear during that month, whether not he took a nap, played a big part in how he slept that night.

No Nap: He would go to sleep easily between 6:30 and 7:00pm, but for the two hours leading up to bedtime, he was so tired and cranky we were all miserable. Then, to add insult to injury, he would wake up at 5:00am.

Nap: Happy kid. Happy mom. Later bedtime around 8:30pm, then sleeping through to 7:00am

Needless to say, I preferred naps to an early bedtime. 

So, everyday I try to make him take a nap. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't, but more time than not, he does.

With only two months to go and until he turns four, he's showing real signs of ending his nap.

Over the past two months, I've seen the progression of how the last nap works itself out. The days he doesn't nap, he is progressively making it until right before bedtime to turn into a cranky-pants. He's going to sleep a little later 7:30 and sleeping until 7am.  So, even though he is not taking the nap, he's building it into his night sleep. Going from 10 hours to nearly 12.

While, I really need him to nap during the holiday break from school so I can get things done without his, "Help", I can tell my little guy is growing up and I have to honor that. Thankfully, he's happy to play in his room during rest time, or play on his tablet. So, in a way, I still get my mommy rest time too.  For now. Oh it's so hard to watch my baby grow up.


I Need A Mom-Break Before My Kid Breaks Me.

Over the last two weeks, my in-laws have been in town from Australia. (They lefts this morning) I don't know how we did it, but we crammed two holidays into the last two weeks. We went from all-out Thanksgiving, to crazy Black Friday shopping, to Deck-the-halls Christmas, complete with presents.

After fourteen solid days of go-go-go, I'm an exhausted mess.

I barely remember sleeping.

Prior to them coming, I promised FTD I would go with the flow and drop my Type-A mom-ways; including not being so rigid with Ollie's routine.

Just When I Thought Baby Wipes Couldn't Be Any More Magical, This Happens #WaterWipes

**This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

If you're a regular reader, then you know how much I love baby wipes. I have professed my love to them many a time, for many a reasons.

To a non-parent, I totally get how crazy I sound, but little do they know how much they are missing out.

From my newborn's first blowout, to my first change table hosing, to the first spill, fall, muddy foot print on my seat, to dirty dog paws, baby wipes have saved me. My kid isn't even in diapers anymore, and I still buy baby wipes.

I will forever.

And chances are, if you're a parent you plan to do the same.


That being said, there is one small issue I have with most brands, there can be too many chemicals.  Some brands have things I've never heard of.

But not my new favorite, WaterWipes, only have TWO ingredients, 99.9% purified water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.  


<Insert me doing a little dance!!!!>

You do realize what this means, right?

1. I can wash my face at night with them, when I'm too tired to wash my face.
2. If I were stranded in the desert, I could survive off of them. Or, at least I wouldn't be scared to try to, compared to the chemical loaded wipes.
3. NO fear on a newborn's delicate skin. ZERO.
4. No fragrance needed to mask chemical smell.

They really are super soft and thick too. I love them.

  • WaterWipes are chemical free – this means they don’t contain preservatives. The package will keep for up to 15 months before it is opened. Once you open your WaterWipes package, we recommend that you use the pack within 1 month.
  • Unlike some other wipe brands, WaterWipes are not interfolded. This allows for the sterile environment within the package to be maintained. For the same reason, we recommend that you do not relocate the wipes in an alternate container. 

Needless to say, I feel like it's my birthday.  Oh, and did I mention they are at Target, so I have a super-good excuse to go!

Love. Water Wipes. Go get them! To find a Target Store near you that carries WaterWipes, Click here.

Wait, before you go... Want to win a $100 Target Gift Card? For your chance to *Win, sign up below!

*I-C will randomly select 1 winner from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.
WaterWipes Target


Traveling For The Holidays? Don't Forget These Essentials #2015GiftGuide

In a matter of days, you'll be packing up the car or the suitcases to embark on a family holiday adventure to grandma's house. Below are a few of my favorite things to travel with to make the trip less maddening interesting. 

First and foremost, the familiar pillow. A clean, soft familiar place to lay your head at night after a crazy car ride. I love Headleveler Pillows.  First, because they last, are machine washable. customizable and made in ever single size imaginable to fit the needs of the littlest to biggest family member. And speaking of family, this company is family owned and operated. #Love

Each pillow is made to order, for you! Is your bed firm or soft? are you a back sleeper or side sleeper? Hot sleeper or cold? Head leveler asks all these questions, then makes the perfect pillow for you!  LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  All free of us have our own.  Buy now and enter coupon code MERRY2015 to get free shipping to Canada or US, Buy Here. (International available check rates)

No doubt, kids get crazy during a long car ride, and need to be released to a field for a run from time to time, or a rest stop road-side park. Then, when you finally find one it's after a torrential downpour and everything is wet, including a HUGE puddle at the bottom of the slide. Grubby Wear is going to be your saving grace! It a full-body suit for the littles to get CRAZY in without getting messy! Because we all know, the second they get clean, they find a way to get messy. The Grubby Wear full body suit covers will keep him clean all day no matter what mud hole you encounter.

I love love love the Grubby.  And keeping with my holiday theme to support the family owned businesses, Grubby is owned but the sweetest family with the most adorable little ones... you have got to see this short video for Grubby, so so so cute and ridiculously funny. 

The Grubby is a lightweight, breathable playsuit designed to slip over a child’s clothes, protecting them from dirt, water, and general mess. It’s easy to put on, with snaps at the ankles so shoes don’t have to be removed, and a quick Velcro closure in the back, and roomy enough to fit over jackets in the fall or spring. It’s great for parks, art projects, and meal/snack time. It’s easy to clean with just a quick rinse in the sink, or throw it in the washing machine. The Grubby allows kids to crawl, run, climb, jump, and just be kids without worrying about getting dirty or wet. Buy it, HERE

There's no better complement to grandma's cooking than to make a mess of yourself while sucking down her food at lighting speeds. Come prepared to make a mess and a scene with the Groovi Gee Bibs for babies to adults!  100% cotton with fleece backing, bibs are perfect babies to older children (or adults) who need to be kept nice and dry. Here are Ollie's FTD's And Mine! 

Purchase the Groovi Gee WORLDWIDE, Here. (Aussies, click here.)

And finally, after a long car ride and supper yummy meal, you'll need a fabulous cup of coffee. If you have a coffee lover on your list, I cannot recommend enough that you check out Door County Coffee Holiday blends, gift sets and flavored classics. You get to pick the packaging; by the pound, premeasured pouches 8-12 cup drip machine bags or by the box of pods.Door County coffee is made exclusively with Specialty Class 1 Arabica coffee beans, which are the top 2% of what is grown in the world. The beans are roasted in small batches to exacting specifications.

LOVE IT!  And did I mention Family owned and operated for over 30 years?  Buy it here. 

What are your traveling essentials?


5 Ways To Combat Raising A Santa Obsessed Kid

**I've Partnered with the Good Deeds Manger to talk about the importance of not letting your child become obsessed with Santa and Gifts during the holidays, but rather understand the importance of kindness, giving and sharing. All opinions are my own. 

Over the years, I have come across some of the most obnoxious santa and gift obsessed kids. Kids who tear through twenty Christmas gifts, then get upset when there are no more presents to open. Kids who have no idea why we celebrate the holidays. Kids who, when I walk through the door on Christmas day jump up and down asking, "What did you bring me?" 

I never want that to be my child.

In an effort combat the creation of a spoiled Santa obsessed brat, I'm making it my mission to teach my kid the true meaning of the holidays. Below is a list of five ways I plan to stop my son from being a Santa obsessed kid, and understand that it's far more fulfilling to give than receive.


5 Tips To Save Big On Cyber Monday

It's Here! It's Here!  Cyber Monday, Is here!

1. The deals are outstanding!
2. I get to shop from my couch
3. Most all websites offer free delivery.

FACT: Consumers expect to spend 45% of their holiday budgets this year via e-commerce channels, according to a survey released by Javelin Strategy & Research. During the entire year, online and mobile commerce are expected to comprise 9% of total retail sales in 2015, up from 6% five years ago.

As easy and fun as it can be to shop the world wide Interwebz, Cyber Monday only lasts 24 hours, so having a clear focused plan is necessary.  Below are 5 ways to find the best Cyber Monday Sales


It's That Time Again... WARNING: Here we come!

If the below map could have been created by you, then follow closely, FTM&D is going Down under  to FTD's Mother Land, Australia, for a press trip/ holiday/ getaway, and we plan to teach a thing or two about one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We are heading super-south in March, and will be documenting the the trip via Periscope, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, so follow along on your favorite, because there's no doubt, it's going to be very entertaining!

Follow along here:  Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube | Google+


To work with FTM&D while we are home, please reach out!


Holiday Shopping PSA: Need A Reality Check?


Nothing says I hate my life like shopping for holiday gifts at the last minute, with a child in tow.  I know, I've done it. Twice. Last year I vowed to NEVER find myself in a line that snakes all the way to the back of the store, to buy over priced crap because I'm in a last-minute-pinch.  So I made a plan. A really good plan to not only save time, but money too!  Here are my best 10 Tips To Save BIG On Holiday Shopping... and not find yourself crying in a mile long line holding overpriced junk.

Before I get started, I need you to repeat after me...


1. Plan ahead. Everyone's been naughty, just make the damn list already! Probably the biggest mistake I make is heading to the stores with a loose list of people to shop for, and a vague idea of what I want to get them. Nothing says FAIL faster!  Make a list of anyone and everyone you may want/need to buy gifts for, then add your vague gift ideas... maybe even go so far as to just come out and ask them what they want. Then use this as your master list. Stick to it, and when that person has been taken care of, write down what you got them, and cross them off the list.

2. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! I am so bad about shopping for myself during the holidays. So bad. As much I am a huge fan of retail therapy, there are two major flaws with this:

1. My holiday shopping time and budget is limited.
2. The post holiday clearance sales in January are WAY BETTER.

It's best to leave yourself out of the equation until after the holidays. Plus, won't it feel so much better trading in Auntie Nell's ugly sweater for the one you've had your eye on since the holidays... that's now half price!?

3. Leave the distractions at home.  When possible, avoid taking your child(ren) with you.  Even if this means trading all of your lunch breaks until January.  Brown bag it and shop in peace.  We all know, kids not only complicate the mission, they can make it costly needing extras... and don't forget the chance for meltdowns and diaper blowouts.

4. Price shop from home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today to not to compare prices, both online and in stores. Pull out the list you made and start going through it before you start shopping. Write down where the best deal is, then check your list once finished for stores or websites that overlap. This can save you a bundle on shipping and time.  Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

Example:  I needed a big ticket item from a big box hardware store. I went to their website, found what I wanted, then searched for a coupon code.  I was able to save 20% at checkout with a coupon code I found on RetailMeNot.com.  What made the deal even sweeter was that I opted for in-store pickup.  This was fast, seamless and saved me time and money. DO THIS!!!

5. Crowd-Sourced Deals.  There is a new trend going on where websites are crowdsourcing for cheaper deals. Basically, if 10 people show interest in an item, then the website reaches out directly to the manufacturer for a bulk buy rate, then passes the deal on. Look for theses deals on those big ticket items.

6. Coupon like a crazy person.  Coupons are everywhere these days, don't buy without them! Don't just rely on coupon specific websites and apps, check the website for the store you are heading to.  Many are offering in-store coupons.

7. Don't discount the discount sites. Websites like Amazon, Groupon, Zulily, Overstock, Wayfarer...  all will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders. I have each bookmarked this time of year to check quickly for steals on things on my list.

8.  Shop Secondhand. What does every parent have in common at 2am on Christmas Eve/Hanukkah? They're putting together toys. So, if you are going to give your child a fully assembled toy anyway, why not just buy it secondhand, shine it up and slap a bow on it? Secondhand children's stores and higher end consignment shops have incredible deals on gently used items... so worth checking out!

9. Hit up Pinterest and get crafty. Make something for the person that has everything.  Every year I knit hats and scarves for family and friends. They all look forward to them now; some even put in orders for specific colors.

10. Regift it! Before you do any of the things on this list, grab a box and walk around your house filling it with crap you don't want anymore. Remember, your crap is another person's treasure. Somehow. Once you have filled the box, sit down and decide which friend/family member or what holiday party's Secret Santa you can pawn your crap gift the goods to.

How do you save big during the holidays? If you have any tips or tricks, please please please share them!!!!


Enjoy The Best Of The Holidays Lactose-Free #NoMore #DairyEnvy

**I've partnered with LACTAID® to share some great recipes and ideas for enjoying all the flavors of the Holidays Lactose-Free. All Opinions are my own. Especially, the part about hitting my life quota for Lactose, and it being total crap. 

One of my favorite things about the Holidays is the food. Some of my happiest memories from Christmastime are decorating cookies with my mom and siblings while drinking hot chocolate piled high with whip cream or gobbling up pie with a yummy cold glass of Egg Nog. 

Don't even get me started on the holiday party spreads and dessert tables. I've already polished off a bar of Peppermint bark. I LOVE the holidays!!

5 Ways To Reconnect with Your Partner Over The Holidays #FeelTheLove

In T-minus a few days, the Holidays will officially take over. Between the parties, presents, family gatherings, work obligations, and of course, the children, the stress level can go through the roof, leaving even the strongest couples bickering.

Not. Good.

Don't let this be you and your partner. Take time for each other during the holidays; Reconnect, make memories and be intimate! Be reminded how you two made it this far in the first place.

Below are five fun ways to keep the fire burning bright between you and your partner this holiday season... and beyond!


PARENT PSA: Before You Let LEGOS In Your House, READ THIS!

Today's Parent PSA is well overdue. I've known about the dangers and life changing effects that come with owning Legos for some time, and should have said something by now. This blog is after all built on the back of my fails and lessons learned. So, here goes, a very important public service announcement about the havoc legos can cause if you let them and tips for controlling the chaos.

First of all, letting Legos in your home will immediately put an end to a few things...

Thanksgiving Day Jokes, Memes and GIF Hilarity To Get You In The Holiday Spirit

To get you in the spirit of family fun and of course, heaps of dysfunction, here are a few Thanksgiving day laughs to get you going...

WARNING: Cover those sensitive eyes...