What To Put In Your Baby’s Christmas Stocking

What could make the holidays more magical than having a new baby? I know when I was a first-time Mom I was so eager to start our family’s holiday traditions right away! Even though the little bundle of joy most likely won’t open a single present on his first Christmas, we still want to play Santa and fill baby’s Christmas stocking. The only question is, with what?

No parent wants to waste money or fill their house with junk, so stick with gifts that are practical. Even if it’s something the baby won’t need for another 6 months, it is still better than buying something useless. Here are my go-to items for filling a baby’s Christmas stocking.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

baby's Christmas stocking

Toothbrush and baby toothpaste

My big kids always get new toothbrushes in their stocking, so why can’t baby get one too? Even if he doesn’t have any teeth yet, eventually he’ll need this.

Wardrobe basics

Has your dryer eaten most of the baby’s little socks? Need to replace some stained white onesies? Throw them in the stocking! Even some PJs or an outfit in the next size up can be rolled up to fit.


Utensils

Baby spoons, toddler forks, sippie cups, bibs… all things you can never have enough of.


Snacks

We refer to these little puffs as “baby crack” because all our babies have been obsessed with them. Santa knows!

Toys

Keep baby entertained with a couple new infant toys, like these fun little maracas he can shake to his heart’s content.

Pro Tip: Take toys out of the packaging before you put them in the stocking. It will create more space for other gifts and save time on Christmas morning.

Board books

You can always start reading to your baby, no matter how young. Start or add to their book collection with some classic titles.

Pacifiers/Teethers

If your baby is a “binky kid”, you will mysteriously lose about 100 of these a month. Stock up at Christmas so you won’t run out at a most inconvenient time!

Or, if they are out of the sucking stage and on to chewing, go for a great teether.

Christmas Ornament

For my third child’s first Christmas, someone gave us this handprint keepsake ornament. You make a mold of your child’s handprint and then it hardens and you can hang it on your tree. Every year when I pull it out I marvel at how tiny her hand used to be!

Are you also looking for bigger gift ideas for your baby’s first Christmas?

Roundups of my favorite toys for every age can be found here:

Best Toys for 6 month olds

Best Toys for 1 year olds

Best Toys for 2 year olds

Why You Need a “Right Now” Bucket List

why you need a "right now" bucket list

So my practical, finance-obsessed 65 year old Dad did this last week:

It was such an out of character move for him that left my siblings and I scratching our heads. Growing up all he preached and lived was providing for his family and living below his means. Now he was out buying expensive toys just because.

He told us he decided it was finally “bucket list” time. My Dad worked hard his whole life and once he retired, he shifted his mindset to do what makes him happy.

I am genuinely delighted to see my Dad treat himself and enjoy the fruits of his labor. At the same time, it makes me wonder why he had to wait so long. Did he really need to sacrifice as much as he did all these years? Maybe he could have made a few more trips to Fenway Park (his number one happy place) when we were little instead of making it a rare treat?

Maybe what he needed then was a “right now” bucket list.

The 40th birthday “right now” bucket list

Just one day after the great car splurge, I went out to brunch with a couple of my Mommy friends. One of my friends, Lisa, had just celebrated her 40th birthday without a party or any gifts from her husband. We were all set and ready to feel sorry for her, until she told us that she did something even better.

She wrote down 40 things that she’s been wanting to do but hasn’t. (As a Mom aren’t there always “more important” things to spend your time and money on besides yourself?) But this time, plot twist! She actually went and did them.

It started with the simple act of paying someone else to do something she hates. In this case, it was cleaning her car. I’ve seen Lisa’s car in all it’s disgusting glory and let me tell you, that was a wonderful gift to herself! Then there was a take out meal on a night when she totally could have cooked but just didn’t feel like it.

The grand finale was a trip to Boston (by herself, can you imagine the luxury?!) to go visit her friend from college where they went to a famous pastry shop and indulged in 18 decadent desserts.

you need a bucket list in your 30s
18 of these bad boys? Yes please!

Why Now?

None of the things on her 40th birthday bucket list were outside of her means or impossible to orchestrate. They were simply things that she’d been denying herself permission to do.

Whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s (or beyond), as Moms we have a tendency to put ourselves last. If we go out alone, we feel guilty for the time missed with our children. If we spend money on ourselves, we think of what else we could have spent it on that would benefit our families.

But all this Mommy-martyrdom isn’t healthy. It’s the reason so many Moms feel like they’ve lost their identity. The Washington Post article Mommy, the Martyr warns:

While mothers certainly sacrifice and go to great lengths to care for our children, that doesn’t mean that those sacrifices don’t come with potential consequences such as hidden resentments, failed marriages, poor self-care, and lost friendships.

Moms need to put their own needs back into the rotation. A “right now” bucket list is a great place to start.

All it takes is giving yourself permission.

My “Right Now” Bucket List

  1. Take a one on one trip with each of my children (I’ll be checking one of these off next week!)
  2. Spend a night in the swanky hotel right down the street from my house just to have 24 hours of peace and relaxation.
  3. Hire someone to organize my closets.
  4. Let my kids play hooky from school for a day and stay in our pajamas watching movies all day.
  5. When my husband needs to work late, pay a babysitter for two hours just to get out of doing bedtime by myself.
  6. Tour a local winery with my girlfriends.
  7. Get tickets to a Broadway show and spend the day in NYC.
  8. Buy some bath bombs and take an hour long bath in the clawfoot tub I have that I have never bathed in.
  9. Go to a concert with my husband and party like there won’t be kids the next morning.
  10. Have a picnic on the beach and don’t leave until the sun goes down.

It’s a start.

Maybe some of these won’t actually be for “right now”. It could be 10 years before I get to them, if at all. But the point is I wrote them down. Just that simple act turned them into something real. A hope, a goal, something to look forward to.

I hope you’ll at least write down yours too.

 

Tell me, what is one thing you’d put on your “right now” bucket list?

 

Why I’m Only Bringing One Of My Kids to Disney World

Two weeks from today, my oldest child (nine year old Tiana) and I will be headed to the most magical place on earth! My other three kids will be staying home with Daddy.

Why am I only bringing one of my kids to Disney? Because I only like this kid and can’t stand those other ones.

Just kidding.

Here are the real reasons 😄

bring one kid to disney

With 4 kids, it is rare to have one on one time.

Yes, I know, I wrote a post about how great it is to have a large family. On the whole I think it’s a great gift to my children to give them a bunch of siblings. But just like any family size, there are negatives too.

Like how they don’t even get to eat a whole apple because inevitably after getting two bites in, some sibling will cry that they want it too and we end up slicing it and sharing it.

And, it’s really hard to get one on one time with Mom or Dad.

We know individual time is important, it’s just hard to work into the schedule of activities, homework, birthday parties, housework, etc, etc, etc. Oh and Mom and Dad like to have date nights too.

So yeah, I’m sure Tiana doesn’t get as much one on one attention as most kids do. Being alone with Mom for three days will be a pretty huge deal for her.

There’s always been a baby in our family.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized my oldest has really never *not* had a baby in her life. She was a mere 16 months old when Zari was born, and then every few years after that she’s gained a new sibling. So there has never really been a time in her life without babies.

bring one kid to disney
Tiana became a big sister at only 16 months

Because our family has been stuck in this eternal baby stage, there have been limitations on what we can do. With the exception of Christmas Eve, our kids have never stayed out anywhere past 7pm. We almost never go places that aren’t baby-friendly, like plays, movies, trampoline parks, and pottery painting. If we do take her to one of these places, it is for her special one on one “date” which doesn’t happen too often. So Tiana doesn’t get to do a ton of older kid activities.

She has her own interests and I want something to be all about her.

Ever since she heard about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, Tiana wanted to be there! She has a fascination with villains and all things creepy. Her siblings on the other hand have an intense fear of creepy things (especially Zari), which is why we’ve never gone to WDW at Halloween before.

Tiana also is my only kiddo that likes thrill rides, so a one on one trip means we’ll be doing ALL the fast rides this trip! Everest, Rockin Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror will all be firsts for her on this trip and she could not be more excited.

It will be a total change of pace for Tiana to have this time that’s all about HER. Not having to balance her wishes with everyone else’s. She picked the itinerary, the rides, the restaurants we’re going to eat at, and the shows she wants to see. When she feels like ice cream, we’ll eat an ice cream. If she wants to swim, we’ll swim. Kind of the like the concept of “Yes Day“.

This kid helps out a lot, and she deserves something special.

As the oldest child, Tiana is the one who most often gets asked to “keep an eye on the baby for a minute” or “go grab me the box of wipes”. I realize she is a child so we try not to ask too much of her, but when we do need a hand she is quick to help.

bring one kid to Disney
A truly loving (and helpful) big sister!

She is not a kid that’s overly entitled or expects to get something in return for helping out. She’s just a good kid and I want to reward her with something special that she’ll really love.

We could use the bonding.

My relationship with Tiana hasn’t always been as effortless and solid as it has with my other children. She came to us at a year and a half old, and attachment doesn’t always come easily when adopting a child past infancy. (If you’re interested in our adoption story, I’ve written about it here.)

I’m happy to report that our relationship has grown much stronger through the years and is pretty solid at this point. But I still feel like, of all the kids, Tiana would benefit the most from a little extra bonding.

I wish I had a chance to take a trip like this with my Mom.

Having lost my Mom when I was 20, I’m always aware of how short life is. I have a few special memories with her from my childhood that I think about often. I never did get to take a trip with just me and my Mom, but if I had I know I’d be looking at the pictures and reminiscing about it during the tough days when I really miss her.

It is super important to me that I make memories like this with my kids that they can hold onto for life, no matter how long we have together. I don’t want to wait until they are adults to do special things with my kids, because who knows if we’ll ever have that time.

Next year she’ll be a tween, then she’ll be a teen.

I hate thinking this way, but at 9 years old, my time to enjoy Tiana as a kid is dwindling! Next year she will be a “tween”, a thought that overjoys her and terrifies me. While I am a big believer that any age is a great age for Disney, quite honestly I think 8-9 is the perfect age.

At her age, there is still plenty of magic for Tiana. She is still a true believer in all the unbelievable wonders. She loves the characters and wants to meet them and talk to them. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the last trip she’ll be a “believer”.

bring one kid to Disney
Meeting Princess Tiana was a magical moment for this Disney fan!

I also know there’s a good chance my daughter won’t want to spend time with me in a few years. Right now at 9, she still thinks Mom and Dad are cool and wants to be with us all the time. Soon we know the pendulum will swing and she’ll want to be with peers instead of us.

The other kids will have their turn.

Right now it’s Tiana’s turn, but each of my kids will get a one on one trip with Mom when they’re 8 or 9. They understand this, and it helps them to not feel slighted. Their trip can be Disney if that’s what they choose, or somewhere else depending on their interests.

I’m ok with them having to wait for their turn. It’s a nice lesson in delayed gratification and patience. They’ll also enjoy their special Daddy time while we’re away too.

Those are the reasons why I chose to bring one kid to Disney! I’m sure many will still not agree with my decision. What do you think? Would you take just one of your children on a special trip?

MORE of the Funniest Parents on Twitter

Given the events of the this week, I’ve been walking around with a dark cloud over my head as I’m sure most Americans are. Everyone says to spread kindness in the wake of tragedy but it can be hard when you feel so heavy and gloomy.

Because I think we all need to lift our spirits for a few minutes, I decided to do another roundup of the funniest parents on Twitter. Kudos to these people for spreading a little joy through their clever and/or sarcastic use of 140 characters.

Feel free to follow anyone on here and make your twitter feed 1000% more awesome.

funniest parents on twitter

 

 

If you enjoyed these, check out part 1 of Funny Parents on Twitter.

And have a laugh at my expense with my Crappy Cell Phone Pics!

How To Become a Runner When Running Makes You Feel Like Dying

Full disclosure: This advice is coming from a running novice. If you’re a fitness buff looking for tips from a great fitness guru, go check out one of the millions of awesome fitness blogs. I’m just a Mom trying to look like she did two pregnancies ago with only 23 minutes of spare time per day to accomplish it.

how to become a runner

My entire life I’ve hated running. It’s one of those things I WISHED I loved, because the people who do are so enviable. They’re healthy, they’re lean, they just seem confident and cool. But running has always made me feel like dying. It’s hard to get into something that makes you feel like that.

Tiana’s depiction of me on the treadmill. Notice the trails of sweat and expression of pure misery.

Somehow by necessity, running became one of my only workout options. All the fun, hip barre and bootcamp classes in my area don’t offer childcare, and I’ve had at least one baby by my side for approximately 54,762 8 years now.

This limits my options to Youtube videos during nap time, and running with a jogging stroller. I’ve taken up both, alternating days.

And I’m happy to say, running no longer makes me feel like dying.

via GIPHY

So how did I get here? I’m very happy you asked that question 😉

1. Start where you’re at

Maybe right now you can make it around the block before you feel like dying. Then that’s where you start. Don’t set out to run 5 miles on day one just so you can vomit, feel horrible about yourself, and never run again. Just do the block.

Don’t set your goal according to anyone else (oh boy, this is true for so many things. Exercise, weight loss, blogging….!). Your goal is to go a little farther than you did last time. If you manage that, be proud of yourself. If you have the do the same 1 block 10 times before you’re able to go any farther, that means you went out running 10 times! How awesome are you?

Be as kind and optimistic with yourself as you would be with your child or best friend.

2. Walking counts

My husband jogs too, and often times after we’ve both gone on a run we like to see how far we went by using Map My Run. It’s just a cool, easy way to map the route you just went on and see how many miles it was. Anyway, he will always stop short of our house on the map, saying “well this is where I started walking so it doesn’t count”.

It never fails to elicit a huge eyeroll from me. Honestly, it’s not like he strapped on his hoverboard and flew home from that point! If you walked some of the route, you still took those steps and covered that distance. It counts.

3. Lie to yourself when necessary

You know how they say the hardest part of any fitness regimen is lacing up your sneakers? I agree with that wholeheartedly. It’s so easy to make excuses of why you’re going to skip your workout for the day. I didn’t sleep well last night. My legs are pretty sore. I’m kind of short on time today.

This is when I lie to myself. I say “ok self. Those are good reasons why I am probably not going to do my best run ever today. So let’s just compromise, and I’ll do a super easy little baby run. Still better than no run, right?”

Then once I get started on my “super easy little baby run”, I start getting into my groove, realize I can totally do this, and end up doing the whole thing.

4. Create a habit

The cool thing about exercise is, if you build it into your routine and make it a habit, in a very short time you will feel really strange if you DON’T do it. This only takes a couple weeks of daily exercise in my experience. Once you get there, you’re in a really awesome place. It doesn’t feel like a chore anymore, it feels just like going through your day. Only your day is healthier and more energized.

As far as creating that routine, everyone has to find a spot in their day that works for them. For me, if I put it off to the end of the day, I’m WAY more likely to skip it. It works best for me to do it first thing in the morning before my husband leaves for work. The benefits to this time are:

  • My youngest wakes up early so I’m already up and just wasting time anyway
  • It gets me out of some of that dreaded morning chaos of getting the older kids ready for school
  • My husband doesn’t want to be late so he’ll pressure me by saying “go now or you’re going to miss your chance!”
  • Morning workouts rev up your metabolism for the day
  • Even though I don’t diet, I am more likely to make good food choices that day because I don’t want to “ruin” the workout I just did

5. Bring a kid or two

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer running with a jogging stroller to running by myself. It might have something to do with being an introvert and wanting to deflect attention away from myself when I pass other people on the sidewalk. The baby also gives me a nice distraction because I’m pointing out dogs and birds and flowers to him instead of just focusing on my lungs collapsing.

My son absolutely LOVES jogging with Mom, so that’s motivation in itself. He runs to the door to get his shoes on when it’s time to go for a run, so in his own little way he is pressuring me too.

how to become a runner
Luca living the stroller life

6. Other notes about jogging strollers

If you’re looking for a jogging stroller that is super smooth and easy to push, I would not hesitate to recommend my BOB Revolution. Don’t worry if you find that sticker price appalling, just check Craigslist or your local Moms group to buy one secondhand. These things can take a beating so it should hold up well through multiple kids.

One mistake that is easy to make with a jogging stroller (especially when you’re starting out and still hate running) is to lean over and put weight down on the handlebar when you’re tired. This just creates more work for you because you’re making it harder to push, plus you are straining your back. Check your form a few times throughout your jog and make sure you are keeping your back upright and straight with your shoulders down. You should only be giving the handlebar a gentle forward push.

7. Sign up for that 5k

how to become a runner
Smiling because the finish line is in sight during my first 5k

Lastly, after you’ve built up a little endurance and can jog a couple miles, take the plunge and sign up for a 5k. This will give you great motivation to stick with your routine and push yourself harder. Being part of a race doesn’t really mean you are racing anyone, it just lets you be a part of something that’s more exciting than running loops around your neighborhood.

After completing a race, you’ll have a great feeling of accomplishment. I did my first 5k last year, and while I did feel like dying during some parts, the sense of pride at the end was amazing. My kids didn’t care what place I came in, they were just happy to cheer for Mommy. And what better example to set for your kids than working hard to accomplish something you didn’t think you could do?

The kids were inspired to run in a race like Mommy!

8. Other jogging tips

Distraction can be your best friend when you’re trying to huff and puff through your run. Put a favorite motivational playlist together and run with your headphones. Or go for a jog when you have a lot on your mind and see how easy it is to sort your thoughts out. When your mind is elsewhere your body will do what it needs to and you won’t even notice!

During especially painful times, when your body totally does notice, keep your focus just a short distance in front of you. If you’re looking far into the distance, it can seem like you’re not making any progress and will never get there. Looking just a few sidewalk squares in front of you, you’ll feel like you’re flying through.

What advice or questions do you have about starting a running regime? I’d love to hear from you!