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One of my favorite mother’s day gifts


Mother’s day, Mother’s day….

Mother’s day was founded in 1914 by Anna Jarvis and by 1920, according to Wikipedia, she was already disappointed in its commercialism.  And I have to agree.  I feel like there is so much pressure on Mother’s day to get the right gift, send the right card, think of all the details, that is loses some of the meaning…to celebrate each families mother.

I think most moms agree, it doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be fancy.  We just want someone else to think about it!  (but one mommy friend pointed out, if you have newborn twins or 2 kids under 2….it needs to be big and fancy!)

I took a little poll of my mommy friends and the resounding request for Mother’s Day???  No surprise here….alone time!  I mean, we all love those little rugrats that gave us the title of MOM in the first place, but we spend ALOT of time with them already.  A few quiet moments (or a few hours) to collect your thoughts and drink an entire coffee while it is still hot…priceless.

Here are the other things that made the top 10 list of MOST WANTED MOTHERS DAY GIFTS

1.  Sleep in until 10am (with no one else in the house)

2.  Vanilla Latte (or hazelnut!)

3. Handmade Card

4. Mani/Pedi  and a trashy magazine (alone!)

5. Engraved “mothers” necklace

6. Flowers (never a wrong time for flowers!!)

7.  A family picnic (that dad organizes and packs for, after mom gets to sleep in and drink her coffee)

8. Kids Artwork (check out some ideas here)

9. Favorite take-out dinner (no negotiations)

10. Framed Favorite Family Snap Shot

What is your most wanted mother’s day gift? Is it on this list??


Eye-Hand coordination with hammering out side

We are surviving amazingly well on very little TV for the kiddos.  He still likes his morning cartoon.  I liken it to my morning cup of coffee, he’s not quite awake until he’s had an episode of Phinnes and Ferb, and I am really fine with that.

I cleaned Brady’s room yesterday (I’m convinced my child is a hoarder, but that is another post).  His clean, better-organized room opened up a new world of play opportunities.  He can now easily access more things, allowing more independent play and sparking more ideas other than “can I watch a cartoon?”  Last night after dinner, he built a marble ramp with dad and played two board games before bed.

I am still always looking for ideas and suggestions on things to do to keep my littles entertained, I came up with a list a while back.  But when I need new ideas, I am lucky that I never have to look further than Brady’s amazing preschool teacher and her lists of suggestions from her facebook page or articles she writes for our local mothers’ club newsletter.

Here are some of my Cookies N’ Dirt favorites:

  • Adult Sized Paintbrushes or Foam Roller Brushes: Give your child a bucket of water and send them outside to “paint”.
  • Birthday candles:  Let your little one to put them into play dough- you will be surprised how long they will play with these!

    Play Dough and Candles

  • Tongs and Cotton Balls. Have children move cotton balls from one bowl to another with the tongs. They can also tong tissue, plastic eggs, sponges…anything. This activity is great for hand eye and fine motor skills.
  • Baby soap or regular soap: Soap can be so much fun for children to pump out and play in! Use the dish tubs to set up a “baby bath” with a plastic doll, or a dino bath with plastic animals.
  • Potato Sprouting: Stick toothpicks in the side of an organic potato and put one end in water with the other sticking out. Watch your potato grow a plant.
  • Hammering: Go to a local hardware store and buy the smallest hammer you can find along with some protective goggles. Have your child do some hammering into an old piece of wood or stump. You can start the nail for smaller children and let older children do it themselves. This is great for hand eye coordination as well as cognitive development. Let them know the rules for safety before you start.

    Keeping busy and focused

  • Plant seeds:  lima beans and snap peas are the easiest!! Birdseed is also great.
  • Peel Eggs: Boil some brown eggs and let your little one work at peeling the shell off. It is good for children to struggle a little so don’t be too quick to step in. You can also get an egg slicer and let them slice when they are done peeling.

    Look at the concentration!

  • Color shaky bottles: Fill 4 used water bottles ¾ of the way full with water.  Add a few drops of food coloring to each bottle so that you have one of each color. Put glitter in one, beads in one, soap in one, and cooking oil in one. Now screw the cap on tight and tape the bottle tops. Let children shake and roll the bottles.
  • Fishing: Fill a plastic baby pool with water and plastic animals, fish or bugs. Give your child a net and let them “catch” the animals. If you don’t have a net use a colander or old baseball cap!

What are you favorite activities to keep your kids busy without TV, or what resources do you go to??

Glitter Glue Nails Instead of TV

This week is National Turn Off Your TV Week…or maybe it is next week. (A few different sources say different dates.) I posted on Facebook to see who was “in” for the challenge.
Fellow parents wondered if it meant all screen time; lapsers, iPods, youtube?
Was it just for kids or did it mean US too…I mean, who really can go without SMASH for a whole week??
I had long been thinking that Brady’s TV time had been creeping up over the last few months and I had been wanting to slim it back down.   So, I took this suggestion as a chance to re-examine how I use TV with my preschooler and was their some room for improvement.
This is not the first time I have written about TV and my kids.
And I have tried to cut his TV viewing back before too.
What I realized this time, is TV viewing is just like our health in other ways. We can have normally good eating or exercising habits, but then life sneaks up on you and all of a sudden you realize you are eating movie thither sized boxes of Junior Mints on a regular basis and skipping your morning workout to do laundry (or lets face it, sleep in).
I think every healthy habit needs a reset.  So I decide to take this week to reset our TV viewing.
So did I keep the TV off all day yesterday, day 1 of Turn Of Your TV Week??.
Did he watch 20 minutes in the morning while he woke up with his milk, instead of leaving the TV on all morning?
Did he protest when I said it was time to turn it off?
Did we get out playdoh and art supplies instead and did he entertain himself for at least 45 minutes while I got his sister down for a nap and did a little work?
Did he get one time-out for hitting me after I denied his request later that morning to turn the TV back on?
But we both recovered and we spent the rest of the day;

  • Building a ‘house’ out of boxes in the recycle bin (which he did at the table next to me while I worked)
  • Painting his toe nails with glitter glue
  • Playing Go Fish
  • Had a picnic lunch in the living room
  • He pretended to be a garbage man while collecting every scrap of garbage all over the house (score!)
  • Went to the library
  • Went to the grocery store
  • Had a rousing game of see how I can make my sister laugh while trying to ride in her stroller with her.

At the library, we checked out some books on CD. When it came time for quite time, he didn’t even ask to watch a cartoon first (as is his normal routine). He just went to his room to listen to his new cd. And when I went to check on him about 20 minutes later….asleep.
We’ll keep this up the rest of the week.  My husband is out of town next week and there is NO WAY I am going TV-free then without a co-parent to carry the load.
But I think both Brady and I realized we can survive with a lot less TV.

Now…my next challenge is getting the adults in the house to give up smart phones for a weekend. I’m not sure I could do it? Could You?

Candy-Free Easter Baskets. Good mom? Mean mom?

I’ve decided not to put any candy in my kids Easter baskets this year.

I am not against candy.  I let my kids have candy and treats pretty much on a daily basis (well, not the 1 year old…she still thinks yogurt melts are a treat).  But a few recent incidents have made me rethink the need for candy in their baskets

  1. Brady has a cavity– I am beside myself with parenting remorse over this poor little guy who now has to be sedated to have a cavity filled.  The dentist has said that some kids have groovy teeth and the ‘healthy’ All Natural Annie’s Gummy Bunnies we have been giving him are probably the culprit, despite teeth brushing.
  2. The need for treats is causing melt downs-  I am noticing more and more that he is not content to have 3 jelly beans or 1 Hersey’s kiss.  He is constantly pleading for ‘just one more’.   I feel the treats are becoming not a ‘treat’ but a norm.
  3. Sugar is Addictive– More and more research is showing the sugar triggers the same pleasure centers in the brain as drugs.  My husband and I both have a strong sweet tooth and we have just gone through a major detox ourselves.  We feel better and have lost weight because of it. It is so easy to become completely dependant on it, and I don’t want to set my kids up for this.
  4. We often use it as a bribe, not a reward “If you get dressed, you can have a treat” or “when you get ready to go, you can have a treat in the car”
  5. They still will get plenty of Easter Candy Between the community Easter Egg hunt and the easter gifts that came from both sets of grandparents, Brady is not going completely candy deprived.

I had already decided to severely limit the candy when I was out shopping for basket fillers.  Because of the cavity, I am trying to stay away from the sticky, gummy treats and go more with chocolate that is easier to brush away.  But as I started to fill the baskets…there were so many great fun things, that I put the few candy items I had purchased back in the bag and went with a completely candy free basket.

So here is what I put in each basket:


  1. Bubbles
  2. Spider Man sunglasses (for our beach trip this summer)
  3. Spider Man night light (do you see his current favorite super hero)
  4. New Crayons
  5. Pool dive toys
  6. A painting craft project
  7. Play dough (I get the party favor bag, they are small)
  8. Plastic eggs filled with quarters for his piggy bank obsession
  9. Phinnes and Ferb Pez dispenser (I put the actual pez candy away in the cupboard.  He like playing with the dispensers too, and he can have the candy later)


  1. Bubbles
  2. A sun hat (also for our beach trip)
  3. Small sand toys
  4. Playdough
  5. Sidewalk chalk (I hope she doesn’t eat it)
  6. A stuffed bunny
  7. A light up toy (to match one Brady already has and wont let her touch)
  8. Empty plastic eggs (she’s one, she just like opening them anyway!)

We are going to color hard boiled eggs Friday and I think Easter morning they will be so excited to find eggs and their baskets hidden in the back yard, I don’t even think they will notice what is missing!

What do you think?  Candy free or am I being a scrooge?  What the treat policy in your house?

We just got back for 4 days in San Diego. It was our first plane trip with both kids and our first trip as a family of 4 that wasn’t with other family members. It was also Rylan’s first plane ride.  And my first time flying solo with two kids!  (My husband flew down earlier in the week for business and we met him there on Thursday. )

All in all it was a GREAT trip.   I think we did really well.  There are a few things I’ll remember to do better on the next adventure.  But really this blog post is just an excuse to share some of our vacation pictures 🙂

Things we did well

Pez, Woody, Buzz and Headphones…perfect flight

Old Iphone with new movies and headphones– add a new Pez dispenser from grandma and the 3 year old was easier on the plane than the baby for sure!  The headphones may be my new favorite kid item. Dora on mute…yes please.

On the Tram at the Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park– I think everyone REALLY enjoyed this attraction.  I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it since we spend so much time at the San Francisco zoo…it was totally worth it.


Couldn’t even wait for a bathing suit

Down time at the hotel- We stayed at a beautiful resort (thanks to my KSL employee discount) and it was great to just have some down time there.  Rylan got to take a few naps in the room.  Brady watched a movie in bed one rainy morning and went swimming the first day.  I like to go go go on vacations, but it was nice to just not go too.

Showing off his new “friend” Diego in his travel carseat

Travel Carseat– Have you seen this thing?  It is a 5-point harness seat, but it folds into a small duffle bag.  We borrowed it from a friend, but I would totally buy this seat just for travel. Safety 1st Go Hybrid Convertible Booster, Baton Rouge

Fun at Balboa park play ground before the flight

Hit a play ground before heading to the airport-Thank you iPhone map.  We found a park about 10 minutes from the airport and let the kids run around for about 45 minutes before heading to the airport.  There was also a drum circle and dancers going on in the park, which was just really fun to watch too.

Things we could have done better

Brought enough diapers…what was I thinking??  Thankfully the airport sold a 2 pack of diapers

AKKK!! Put me DOWN!!!

Made Brady feed the birds– This just goes to show you that there is no rhyme or reason to preschoolers.  At a recent trip to local animal park, Brady loved the Lorakett exhibit, but we got there too late to actually feed them.  So I wanted him to have the chance at the Animal Park, well one landed on his head and he freaked out.  Live and Learn
Brought a night light– Brady doesn’t sleep in the pitch dark, but Rylan does, it was hard to find a light combination that worked for both of them since they were in the same room.  A night light near Brady’s bed, would have solved the problem
Packed less clothes–  I wasn’t sure on the weather or the number of blow outs/spilled juices we’d have, but I had way too many clothes for everyone.

I feel so good about our trip, I am already looking forward to the next family adventure…but I am also looking forward to planning a kid-free getaway for my husband and I too!  Sleeping in anyone???

Family photo- Brady slightly traumatized from his bird encounter

Fitness is where you find it.  And I find myself pushing my son on the swing….alot.  I figure pushing him on the swing is a pretty good upper body exercise, so why not add a few squats and make it a full body workout!

treasure hunting on a family hike

As the holiday season seems to creep earlier and earlier each year, the roadblocks to sticking to your exercise routine seem to become more plentiful.  The holiday madness seems to start with Halloween and many reports suggest the average American will gain 7-10 pounds between trick-or-treating and Super Bowl Sunday.

So what’s a waistline to do?

Here are a few tips that I am going to be trying to get me through the next 26 days to 2012:

Something is Better Than Nothing

The biggest mistake that people make around the holidays is putting off their own heath and fitness until “after the New Year”.  If you truly take the whole Holiday season off, you are missing out on 1/6th of the year of fitness (or more!).  And who wants to fight that return rush of other New Years Resolution-ers  anyways.

The effects of exercise are cumulative.  So even if you can’t get to that 9am kickboxing class at your gym 3 times a week like you used to, 15 minutes of exercises at home each morning and a 10 minute walk in your neighborhood after dinner each night adds up to the same total weekly minutes. (try the 15 minute home workout coming tomorrow!)

Create New Healthy Traditions

One of the best parts of the Holidays is celebrating with Family and Friends, but your celebrations don’t have to focus around the TV and finger foods.  Why not plan a family-friendly hike instead of your neighborhood potluck.

Where I am in Marin County, we are luckily enough to have decent weather in December, even if it means wearing an extra layer or bringing an umbrella.  Why not meet at a hiking trail or fire road that starts from a parking lot.   Walk out as far as the little legs in your group want to go, then turn and head back.  Or pick a paved trail where kids can ride bikes and scooters while the adults walk and chat.

Regroup in the parking lot for hot chocolate, coffee and fruit.  Even if you bring out small breads or pastries, it won’t be the same as standing at a buffet table for 3 hours.  Everyone gets out, gets some fresh air and time to chat.  If you go in the morning, you’re done earlier enough to hit up the mall to finish your shopping!

Keep Your Guests Busy

If you are hosting the party, give guest an activity to do besides nibble.  People can string popcorn and cranberry garlands while chatting with their friends instead of popping hors d’oeuvres.

Or asks guests to bring their stash of hotel soaps and shampoos.  Set up a table and guests can put together gift bags for local shelters while they socialize. People will eat (and drink) less during the party and you’ll be helping out local causes at the same time.

Home (workouts) for the Holidays

Need to make the most of your fitness time?  Working out at home it the answer.  Need ideas on how to do that effectively?  Tomorrow I’ll be posting Home (workouts) for the Holidays.  Complete with DVD and website recommendations and a complete home workout you can do in 15 minutes!  See you tomorrow!

Today’s guest post is very exciting for me.  This wonderful article comes straight from our own BUMP Life community!  Tammy is a mom to a beautiful 4 month old daughter and here she shares some ideas with the rest of us on gift ideas for all the special care providers in your child’s life.  This is exciting for me, because it is exactly what I want from BUMP life, sharing ideas with each other and creating a community.  So enjoy this amazing idea (I know I am going to try it!) and if you have anything YOU would like to share with our community, let me know!


Show those who care for your kids how much you appreciate them!

My daughter is four months old, so being that everything is new for us, I asked my Facebook friends a few weeks ago if gifts for daycare providers would be expected/appropriate around the holidays and what would be a good gift.

I received more responses than I ‘d hoped for and the answers, in short, were that nothing is expected, anything is appreciated, and gift suggestions generally fell into three categories:

  • A gift card,
  • something handmade from the kiddo,
  • or a baked good.

I thought I would combine all these ideas and make a handmade card, a baked good and a Starbucks card for the three women in the infant room at my daughter’s daycare. And then, a spot opened up at a different daycare that we’d been on the wait list for and she will be moving schools after Thanksgiving. I still wanted the women to know they were appreciated, though, so I made a scaled back version – giving them each a handmade Thanksgiving card and a Starbucks card.

For the card, I combined this idea I saw on Pinterest,  with a traditional hand turkey.

Because it’s not so easy to trace the hand of a four-month-old multiple times, I traced it onto chipboard from an empty cereal box, and used that as the template to trace six hands on brown paper. Then I printed “T H A N K Y O U !” on yellow paper to make the accordion in the middle. On the front I added feathers made of scrapbook paper and a face for the turkeys.

I imagine for Christmas, her new teachers will receive something similar – I’m thinking of buying blank cards and stamping handprints on them in red and green, and giving them each a Starbucks card and a homemade goodie.

Some ideas for the treat:

Mini loaves of pumpkin bread

Peppermint Bark

Cookie mix in a jar 

An assortment of cookies

***Tammy Krikorian Gabel lives in Reno, Nev., and works in social media. She enjoys crafts, baking and, most of all, spending time with her family.***

There seem to be a million holidays to celebrate the special people in our lives, and the lives of our kids. But just what present do you give them….again?  What I have found is you can never go wrong with your kids’ artwork.  I wanted share my four favorite ideas for gifts that are; easy, cheap, and completely sentimental.

Note Card Set:  This year for mother’s day, we made a set of note card for each grandma.  Simply buy a set of blank note cards (I got mine at Paper Source).  I used paint we already had in our art box and let my 3 year old make his own handprint.  Then when the paint was dry, I came back with a second color and made prints of my (then) 3 month old.  I made 10 cards for each Grandma, stacked them with the envelopes, tied the whole bundle with a pretty ribbon and popped them in the mail.

Framed School Art:  Every month or so my son’s awesome preschool teacher sends home the art they have done at school.  Recently, my son brought one home that I just loved.  For my birthday, my husband had it matted and framed and I LOVED it even more.  I also take some of his school art, cut and fold it into a card and send notes to far away family members.

Canvas Foot Print: How easy is this one?  Premade canvas, black footprint and write a message on the side with a sharpie. Gift done.

Generations Keepsake:  My mother in law made this one for my husband’s birthday and it still brings tears to my eyes when I pass it in the hallway.  In the center is HIS one-year old hand print that was a gift to his father in 1975.  One the bottom is our son’s one year old had print in 2009.  Amazing.

What other personalized gift ideas have you tried?

Makin’ play dough and funny faces

I have two goals for this week;

1.  Have the baby nap in her crib more often than her carseat

2.  Have my preschooler watch less TV

Maybe I should not be tackling these two goals at the same time, since they are slightly counter productive.

The reason the baby doesn’t nap in her crib is usually we are out and about entertaining her older brother.  If she is napping in her crib, sometimes a cartoon and a snack is the best thing to keep a 3 year old quiet.

In preperation to tackle these goals, I have been collecting ideas for quiet or outdoor projects B and I can do during his sister’s naps.

1.  Make cookies

2. Pick tomatoes

3.  Art projects

4.  Puzzles

5.  Play Dough- Maybe we’ll MAKE play dough first

6.  Build with his outdoor blocks

7.  Do a scavenger hunt in the back yard

8.  Play in the sandbox

9.  Swing (B could swing for hours, unfortunatly it is more of a workout for me than him!)

10.  Fill his water table with bubble soap (he does this at preschool and all the kids LOVE it)

I found a great link for a few new ideas, they are a little young, but I really like that they are independant activites too.  Check out these activities for toddlers at Babble’s Toddler Times. What other suggestions do you have??

Wish me luck!

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About Bump Life

Bump Life is a place to support moms and families across all aspects of our lives. A place for tips, expert advice, parenting resources and entertainment. A great place to come for information, support or just a break from our crazy lives. From fitness to finance, from diaper bags to diaper duty, for everything bump, babies and beyond, you'll find it all here at BUMP Life!