kids, Parenting

Momma on a Mission: Part 1

*This post may include affiliate posts.*

I have taught in the public classroom setting for the past eight years, for two reasons. One, it has always been a passion of mine. There is truly no greater joy than witnessing a child’s “lightbulb” moment. To watch them grow and develop, to get excited about learning. Secondly, to help provide for my family. While a teaching salary isn’t glorious, it has allowed our family to live comfortably combined with that of my husband’s salary.

At the end of December, my husband and I made the very difficult decision for me to extend my maternity leave to the end of the year. On one hand, I was ecstatic. For the four months I had already been at home with our sweet man, all I did was think about the moment that this would end. Instead of enjoying my days,  I found myself feeling like time was ticking away–staring me in the face for that dreaded day I would have to return. To know that that day was far away–almost 6 more months away, is now a relief. However, on the other hand, this OCD, always-has-a-plan momma was nervous and guilty about not bringing in that income to help our family this year. We had planned for four months without work, not a year.

Thus, I became a mom on a mission! The mission? Finding a way to help provide for my family, even in the smallest ways, but by doing so with something I was still PASSIONATE about. Thus begins my “Momma on a Mission” series, in which I will detail my journey to searching and trying-out some legitimate  “side hustles” that can help provide for your family, without taking away from the precious moments that have led to me wanting to stay home!

In my initial search for side-hustles, I was looking for something that I could feel passionate about, but that would also help out other moms similar to me. I stumbled upon an online children’s boutique, Mac & Mia, that were searching for online stylists. I thought, “Why not? I love shopping, especially shopping that is convenient and cute!” I applied online and worked through a few tasks for their application process, and was chosen to be a Mac & Mia Stylist for a trial period of one month.

So…what is Mac & Mia?

Mac and Mia is an online children’s website that connects parents with a number of unique, children’s boutiques. Parents fill out a quick style survey about what type of clothes and looks they prefer for their child, and then are connected with an online stylist.The stylist will use that information, as well as personal communication with you, to handpick 8-12 boutique pieces for your child.

When you request the box you’ll be charged a styling fee of $20 which is applied to the cost of your box if you keep 2 or more items. Once packed your box will arrive in 2-5 business days via UPS. You then have 5 days to try-on the items [in the comfort of your home!] and decide what you want to keep. If you keep everything you get 15% off! If you want to make returns, just put them in the prepaid UPS return envelope and once they’re received by our warehouse you will be charged only for the items you kept. Shopping done easily from your home, no crazy trips to the store and battles in the dressing rooms with your kiddos!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee or high prices for clothes that my child will outgrow! I thought the same thing when I started looking into this company. Yes, some of the items are on the higher priced-end, and lets’ be honest–I just took a year off from work and there is NO way I can spend crazy amounts of money for children’s clothes! That’s were completing the style survey and connecting with your stylist comes in handy–you can specify a price range you wish to stay in. Or, you can be like me and request some statement pieces that can be layered and styled with LOTS of different outfits, including pieces you already have in your child’s closet. One or two statement pieces can go a long way–allowing your child’s closet to be just a little more fabulous or unique than it was before, and so they don’t show up to the school program with the exact same outfit as three other kids in their class!

I’ll be straight with you–when I signed on to try this out, I was hesitant. But on Tuesday, we received our first Mac & Mia box filled with 12 items for Aubrey and they are AMAZING. When your box arrives, it will have an envelope inside with the price sheet for each item in your box, a pre-paid return envelope for the items you don’t want to keep,  as well as a fun surprise for the child the box was styled for– our box had paper dolls and clothes to dress them in!

As I unpacked the box, I noticed how nice the fabrics were for each item–super soft and high quality ( also, if you child has any time of sensory issues, this website also carries boutique styles that are tagless, etc!) The clothes were all super cute, but also HIGH quality. The fabrics are soft and the styles are trendy. Will I keep my whole box, probably not. But I fell in love with a lot of the items and was able to get my $20 stylist fee credited to my account by purchasing two items!

While I’m not sure if I will succeed in this momma’s mission to turn my Mac & Mia stylist role into a profitable side-hustle for my family, I do know that I have become a convinced customer and will repeat my business with them for some special pieces in the future for family pictures, vacations, and holidays. In fact, I’m requesting my second box, this time for my son, today!

Interested in trying it out? You can use the link below to get a $20 credit towards your first box–that’s like one or two FREE items!

Try Mac & Mia

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kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Top 5 at Home Indoor Activities for Kids

If you’re anything like me, winter can make it hard to stay active, especially for the little ones! The days of playing on the playground, running outside, and riding your bike are few and far between once winter arrives in Indiana. The cold and snow make it hard to motivate exercise and, as a parent, you start to have to get creative with ways to burn off some of that energy in your little ones!

The first big snow of this season, had me thinking of some of the best ways to help little ones have fun while burning off energy indoors.  While I am all about playing outside in the snow, let’s be honest–most of us spend more time prepping our kids to play outside in the white stuff than they actually do! Thus, I have compiled a few of our family’s favorite ways to sneak in exercise during these cold, winter days!

Top 5 at Home Indoor Winter Activities:

  1. Little Tikes Trampoline:

If you have a younger child at home, this is the BEST indoor toy. When we need to log some exercise minutes for school, or burn off some extra energy at home we pull this out! Our daughter loves to jump as she listens to music or watches tv, and I love that she is able to get exercise in without realizing she is! This trampoline’s hand folds up so it is easy to store as well. (Tip: If you don’t want to pay full price, look for these after Christmas to score $20-$30 off–that’s what I did last year!)

2. GoNoodle.com

This website is usually reserved and used as a part of the elementary teacher’s bag of tricks, but you can sign up for a free account, too! The website has a TON of interactive dances, songs, and workouts geared towards elementary aged students. We love to log-on to the website to get in a few coordinated dances. They also have yoga and meditation videos for students! It’s really fun to do as a family!

3.  Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

Our daughter has been really into scavenger or treasure hunts lately, ever since my husband sent us on one together for my birthday! We go this game for her for Christmas this year, in hopes to help us make them a little more fun and engaging. This game comes with a treasure surprise to place at the end of your hunt, as well as a treasure map that you can attach clues to! The box has pre-made clues, as well as the ability to make your own. This is a fun activity that allows your child to be active as they search through your house to find clues, but also is a great way to get them to think creatively to help solve the riddle clues! This game is great indoors, but we’re excited to use it outdoors once it gets warm, too!

4. Hopscotch

We received this awesome puzzle as a gift one year. While it’s great to use as a puzzle alone, especially for littles one due to its size, we also found that you could easily build it into a hopscotch course! We use it to build different combinations and then our daughter is able to jump, using different combinations. This is a great activity to increase a child’s balance, as they can use two feet, and then gradually increase to just one, crisscrossing, etc. Our daughter loves to do this with her dad, making it a fun game to see who can skip over pieces of the puzzle or have the fastest feet!

5. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you really want to get creative, you can build an in-home obstacle course with a few items you probably already have around the house and have been mentioned above! One cold day, we were looking for something a little different from our usual trampoline and hopscotch routine. My husband gathered our daughter’s scooter and hula hoop from the garage, as well as our trampoline and hopscotch indoor play items, and created an indoor obstacle course that she could complete inside our living room and hallway! She got really excited once we started timing her to see how fast she could go!

Items we used: jump rope, hula hoop, Pete the Cat giant foam puzzle (to build a hopscotch area)  trampoline, scooter

What indoor activities do you do with your kids to keep them active during the cold, winter months? Comment below and share your ideas!

Parenting

#Adulting

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Do you remember your childhood birthdays? How you always wanted the latest, greatest toy, the “hot” Disney movie or character bedding, and  how your eyes lit up when you saw the pile of new toys? Birthdays as a child are fun, but let’s be honest, after your 21st birthday, they really just aren’t too exciting anymore!

This year, I turned 30. And as I turn another year older, I have begun to notice that my Christmas and birthday list is now turning more towards needs for my family or kids, and not so much myself. In fact, this year it was hard for me to even know what to put on my list.  The older we become, I feel like the more practical I try to be–deliberate on spending my money on something that will last, not so much on something that I “want”, but instead, what I feel we “need”.

My family this year came through in a big way finding gifts that officially welcome you to the “Thirty Club” and adulting, but also were items I never knew I wanted, but now that I have, I could never live without!

So, whether you’re trying to think of a practical gift list for yourself as you enter the “Thirty Club”, or you’re trying to find a unique gift for a family or friend who can be difficult to shop for, here’s my current Top 5 #Adulting Gifts!

    1. InstaPot:


I thought this item was just the “hot” appliance and not one I needed, but boy was I wrong! The InstaPot is a lifesaver for busy moms who forget to thaw the chicken for dinner! Frozen chicken cooked to perfection in under 15 minutes!

 

2. INSTLYER Auto Curler:

I didn’t even know these auto curlers really existed until I received one for my birthday this year from my mom! I use to use a curling wand to get waves or curls that would actually hold in my hair, but it would take a while to complete my whole head and I’d sometimes walk away with a few burns! Not anymore! With my auto curler, all of my hair is PERFECTLY curled in less than 10 minutes! It is SO SIMPLE to use and I love that it allows me to make different types of curls, based on the time and heat level I set. Seriously, it’s amazing!

3. Eye Vac:

Okay, this gift screams #adulting, but I love it! For the past two years I have looked into getting an automated vacuum, since we have two dogs who shed like crazy! Since we moved to our new house with mostly wood floors, the dog hair I clean up daily is enough to drive you insane! ( Luckily, I love those dogs!) Instead of getting an auto vaccum that will have my dogs chasing after it around the house all morning, I have an Eye Vac. You sweep up the hair right into it and BAM, it’s gone! No bending over and having that awful streak of dust/ dirt leftover from your dust pan, and no dogs going wild chasing after it!

4.Drop Stop:

Another major #adulting gift that you never knew you needed, until you’ve had one! Ever drop your phone or checkbook into the cracks between your middle console and your seat in your car? It can be a HUGE pain to try to dig them out! Enter, the Drop Stop! This handy device slips into the gap between your seat and console and will catch anything the drops!

5.King Size Fleece Blanket:

If you told my 10 year-old self that one day I’d ask for a blanket for my birthday or Christmas, she’d probably pinch you. But if you’re an adult, then you know there is NOTHING better than a good blanket! I have a slight obsession with king sized fleece blankets–so much so that if I don’t bring one with me, I don’t sleep well (one was with me when I delivered my son!) Why are they the greatest? The king size makes it perfect to share when snuggling with kids, puppies, or your husband (or all of the previously mentioned!) without sacrificing your piece of the blanket. Plus, they are super soft and cozy. We may or may not have four at our house in different colors and patterns!

What other gifts would you add to this list? Comment below and share with us!

Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

    *This post may contain affiliate links.*

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I absolutely love Christmas. Now, I may be a little biased as it is also my birthday (though hitting the big 3-0 this year may begin to change my love a bit!) but there’s something about the music, lights, and story of selfless love that makes this time of year so special.

As a child, I LOVED to decorate for the holidays. Watching my dad bring storage tub after storage tub of holiday decorations up from the basement was so exciting! We’d spend the whole day and night as a family putting up decorations. I can still picture some of my favorite decorations and where we’d place them every year.

One of my most favorite decorations was our advent calendar. My sister and I would argue over who would get to move the Christmas teddy bear each morning to countdown to Christmas Eve. I moved that bear every year, up until the time when I graduated college and moved out into my own apartment. Three years ago, my mom surprised me by gifting this advent calendar to me. It was one of the most special gifts I have received.

This advent calendar now hangs in my home,and while I no longer move it every morning ( though to be honest, I still fight the urge to!), it has been fun to watch my step-daughter get just as excited to move that same teddy-bear each morning of December as I once did.

In addition to our family advent calendar, we also have two additional Christmas countdown traditions now–one for each of our children–thanks to my mom who understands my love for this holiday and this tradition.

Our daughter has a love for all things fancy, so this Christmas advent charm bracelet/ necklace combo is PERFECT for her! This is our second year with this advent calendar. The charms have been different each year and are so cute! Each morning she opens up a new charm to place on either a necklace or bracelet that comes with it. She loves showing off what charm she’s opened that day to her friends at school! If you have a little girl who loves to be “fancy”, hop on over to Amazon and order her this!

Our son is only three months, so while he can’t participate yet in this family tradition, we did receive a Melissa and Doug Christmas tree advent calendar for him to use as he grows up. This one is fun as it allows the child to decorate the Christmas tree with magnetic ornaments. Since her brother is still to young, our daughter has enjoyed “helping” her brother by putting on the ornaments to countdown to Christmas Day. She loves this calendar and it’s small and festive size allows it to easily fit into our Christmas decorations in our family room.

How does your family countdown to Christmas? What advent calendars do you/ your children have? Share ones you love in the comments!