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My Top 5 Kid Books of 2018

Here are some of my favorite kid books my 3 and 5-year-old daughter and son loved last year.

Not Quite Narwhal: Love the colors and illustration of this book about identity. This year my son started Kindergarten and as little ones and even adults grow up we often ask our self are we a unicorn or a narwhal? Well, maybe not that but it is a very kind story about Kelp finding out he might not be what he thought he was and how this new discovery actually made his life better by bringing two worlds together.

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Dagons Love Tacos: This is a funny book about dragons who don’t like to eat spicy foods but love tacos. Funny since I love spicy foods and my kids don’t, but also a fun way to show them that not all foods are spicy. Not even tacos who are usually spicy, especially the ones on mama’s plate. Found these absolutely cute taco holding taco trucks that came two per a pack (orange and green) so it turned into a fun night.

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Linus the Vegetarian T.Rex: My family is vegetarian (well hubby is pseudo) and this is a fun book on the topic to help not only my kids talk about what is a vegetarian but for all kids to open up to learning that everyone is different and we may not look the same, or maybe we don’t eat the same. My son started Kindergarten this year and I liked this book about diversity.

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Robo-Sauce: This is a fun book about a kid who turns into a robot. Love the creative images and a BIG foldout page that my kids can’t wait to play with. Great book about being yourself and noticing the people around you. Of course, I paired it with spaghetti night.

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Try a Little Kindness: Was the perfect addition to our month of December and random acts of kindness. This book is about different ways we can be kind, like letting others go first in line, holding the umbrella for someone, and opening the door for others. We can all use a little reminder and what a cute book to share with a little one in your life.

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Let me know what favorites you have. * L


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A Quality Year

I’m not sure what I think about 2018. At first, I was thinking it wasn’t a great year overall, but when I look at my goals I crushed it and got 85% of them accomplished so why was it just an OK year. I thought a lot about this, goals, life, and what makes us happy. It is the New Year and as I reflect and plan what this year’s goal would be I found myself returning to a specific word, quality. Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 4.40.56 PM.png

I have never had a word for the year, but I saw others doing this and it really resonated with me. Right now I have a lot of options and possibilities and I am not really sure what direction I am going to take. What I do know is I want my life to be happy and I want to live a quality life. I don’t need a lot and I want to make sure the things I do, buy, am, are a life of quality.  My 2019 word is quality.

But what does a quality life look like? How do I create one for myself? I brainstormed what this quality life looks like.

A quality life …

  • that is healthy
  • full of love
  • that is in impactful
  • when I feel centered
  • that is beautiful
  • that is intentional
  • that is adventurous
  • full of my family
  • with true friends
  • that is creative
  • that is financial responsible
  • that is a kind life

I am very much a planner, a goal driven lady who takes on too much. I like details and having goals for the year without the specifics made me nervous that I wouldn’t have a focus or a true direction to follow so I built out my 12 areas of a quality life into my monthly challenges.

My thought is you can’t change everything at once, so focusing on one aspect a month on a specific area might be enough time to turn that focus into a new habit.

For 2019 I am kicking off the year with a month focusing on a quality life that is healthy. Last year I had a running goal to do 2 half marathons. I ended up doing 3 and ran more than ever. However, I didn’t reach my weight goal and at the end of the year I sprained my ankle and had to stop running.

So to make up for a little too much sugar and treats, and no running for the last month + I am doing a Keto challenge for all of January. I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years and I eat a lot of veggies but I also eat a lot of sugar and carbs. Curious to see if Keto eating makes a difference to my body. I even bought a scale for the first time in my life to really see if the numbers change. If you are interested in my meal plan or what I am eating following me on Instagram.

Here are some other things I will be doing in January to have a quality life that is healthy.

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Whatever your goals are or whatever you plan to do this year I hope you all have only good days ahead. Really every day can be a good day if you find the good things that hide amongst the darkness. It’s all perspective and with the right glasses, anything is possible.

I’ll keep you posted on how my first month of healthy living goes.

Happy New Year all and thanks for following TWM. * L


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Par-TEA Tips for Busy Parents

My little girl turned 3 a few months ago when it was still warm out. It feels like forever ago but finally getting around to posting about it. I wanted to share some birthday tips for a busy parent who wants to do it all.

My little girl wanted to have a tea party for her 3rd birthday. At first, I thought it would be fun to do an Alice in Wonderland type of party but ultimately wanted to try and do something a little more unique,  so I thought perhaps a spinoff would be fun and a little different and we, instead aimed to do a dragon and fairy tea party in the backyard.

Here is the birthday girl with her fabulous nanny and these cute plastic tea cups with straws I got from Amazon. A blessing since the party ending up being inside and a bunch of little kids ran around with drinks in their hands.

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I really wanted to go all out and be crazy because I love parties, but I have been so busy at work, (starting work at 7am,  working evenings and weekends) and there just wasn’t a lot of time to do everything myself in my typical DIY kind of way.

As moms, we have to learn what is too much and not drive ourselves crazy with unrealistic goals. This is a great lesson we can teach our kids by example. 

I was an 80’s kid and I had my birthday parties in the garage with store-bought cake, and you know what, I loved it.

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Outsource Anything You Can

Instead of making a cake, I bought one. I wanted to get a really nice cake from one of the amazing local ladies but they both couldn’t do it that weekend. It kind of killed me not making my own cake since I love baking but it was a hot August day here in Seattle and that week of the party we had the worst air quality due to wildfires. I just didn’t want to cook in a hot house with the windows closed (we don’t have AC). So I got one at the store and it was fine enough. They got her name right and you know what… the kids loved it.

Get a Helper

My mom made a bunch of paper flowers we used pink tule to bunch them and decorate our home. Originally the party was going to be outside with a big white cabana for the sun, but the bad air quality kept us inside. Again, let it go and go with the flow!!!!

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It is always great to have a helping hand, and I was thankful my Mom was in town to help decorate and get the birthday girl ready. Especially if you have to pivot and go from an outside to an inside party. Trust me, get help. If you don’t have a close friend or family member then I would suggest hiring a local teen in the area to play with the kids while you set up.

Give Big Kids a Job

We did things a little different for this birthday party and didn’t do party favor bags to give at the end of the party. Instead, we did gift bags right when they got there. My son who is 5 got to have the job of passing them out and being a host for the event. He really liked having a job for the party and felt included at the tea party. The kids could either get a bag with dragon wings and a mask or fairy wings and necklace, in their gift bag along with some other sparkly and fun treats to take home with them.

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Activity or Game

I am a big fan of having a game or some kind of activity for the kids to do at a party. For the tea party, we had gold crowns, markers, stickers, and jewels for the kids to decorate and personalize them. We also had a bubble game for the backyard since it was summer and wanted to get the wiggles out after cake but of course, due to weather, we had to stay inside. Who would have thought?!

Keep it Simple

This was my lesson learned. We went a little overboard with food options. We love food and wanted to have healthy options as well as fun tea time treats. Everyone loved the options and ate, but we had a lot of food leftover. In the end, I think pizza, some fruit and maybe a veggie plate is fine enough. Keep the food simple and the kids won’t care either way. That said, I do appreciate coffee at birthday parties before noon.

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In the spirit of keeping things simple check out my friend’s blog on The Easiest Kid Birthday Party Formula for some other great suggestions. Right now I am planning my son’s 6th birthday and I am not making some of the same mistakes I have made in the past. * L


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Juice Cleanse Made Me Feel Dirty

If you have been following me then you know I like to do new challenges for myself. I would consider myself a healthy person who has been a vegetarian for 28 years, runs regularly and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. I have never done a juice cleanse and thinking about the new year and my goals I thought this might be a great time to try it out. Everyone’s experience is unique, and this is mine and why I don’t think the juice cleanse thing is for me.

Everything came by mail and I got it in a few days at my doorstep. 18 juice bottles arrived mostly frozen and I put a few in the fridge to start later that day. Since I didn’t give it enough time to defrost the first few, what I had was more of a slushy, but, as it turns out, I really enjoyed the crunch. The directions did say to give it 24 hours to defrost. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.06.47 AM

The directions said there wasn’t any order to juices and to drink them when I was hungry. It was a 3 day cleanse and on top of the juice you should drink lots of water. Raw veggies and some nuts (very little) can be added if you must have something. The directions also said you didn’t have to drink all 6 juices in one day.

I loved 4 of the first flavors I had and to my surprise, things I don’t normally enjoy, like carrot juice,  were super yummy with a touch of ginger and lemon.  The 5th one I had was not that good and reminded me of grass. I was so hungry I drank it and was looking forward to the 6th one. Sadly it was the same flavor. Just my luck that the one I didn’t like was the only one doubled up each day. So out of 16 juices, it was 4 of them.  It was so gross that I just opted to not drink it and went to bed early, hungry and a little worried about how I was going to manage the next day on 4 juices.

I have never gone to bed hungry and as I laid there in my bed I felt dirty. Here I am a white privileged 40-year-old starving myself in the name of cleansing. My tummy growled as if it agreed with me and in the dark I found comfort knowing my daughter at age 3 didn’t see this disaster. I’m her role model and what I am saying by starving myself? I do agree drinking all that water and having to go to the bathroom every hour did something. I do feel lighter and my clothes fit better, but when I went running I was weak and my body just wasn’t at its best.

For me the juice cleanse isn’t the lifestyle I want to represent. I want to celebrate food, people, community, and treat my body with respect and fuel it with love. * L


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Enchant Christmas in Seattle

I was so excited to take my family to Seattle’s new Christmas event, Enchant Christmas. Wanted to share my experience so you can judge if this is the right event for you and your family. Also shared some tips if you do go to make the most of it.

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Getting In

We went on Saturday night for the 4:30 opening. Got there early and parked in the parking garage across the street for $25. When we drove by the front the line was so long getting in so we took our time getting out of the car and had snacks ready for my 3 and 5-year-old to be patient in line. When we got there at 4:30 the line was mostly gone and everything went really fast including security check. Do not show up early as you will just be waiting in line, but do show up early if you do not have your pre-sale tickets. When we got there tickets are sold out till the 9pm opening. Thankfully we got in… long story.

Snow and Ice and Everything Nice

I wasn’t really sure how the maze and ice skating worked. The maze was more of an open area so having a running 3-year-old wasn’t any fun. Should have brought the stroller, but dang that elevator line must have been a long one, so happy we didn’t. The maze or walk about was super pretty and there were so many photo ops. I loved it when I wasn’t chasing my little one. Would have loved a kid-friendly area that was fenced off and stuff they are allowed to touch and climb on. For this reason, I really didn’t think this event was little kid appropriate.

Tip: if you do go with little one, make sure to take them someplace beforehand to get the wiggles out. Really my advice would be not to bring them till they are 8 and up. (After I took the photo below we came back to this area and noticed they put up signs saying not to touch or walk on this.)

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My kids got really excited to see snow. There were a few special spots with snowfall but it was so tiny you almost missed it. Nothing like what you saw on the site. The worrier in me wasn’t sure what the snow was made of and once my kids tried to eat it and catch the snowflakes on their tongue we moved on.

They had a fun game to find clues to catch the raindeers but my 3 and 5-year-old didn’t really care much for it and just wanted to run around. I thought it was a very nice touch and kids 8 or up might enjoy something like this to make the maze more interactive.

Other than the maze there is a lazy river ice skating area. For $10 and maybe an hour wait in line, you can take part. My kids don’t know how to ice skate as most 5 and under might not so we didn’t take part in this. My kids really wanted to play with ice and snow so even showing them the area made them a little sad they couldn’t take part.

Tip: If you aren’t skating just avoid this area with your little ones.

Shopping & Food

I’ve been to the German Christmas Markets and got chestnuts, pastries, and hot mulled wine. Here the only food you are going to get is the normal Safeco food. They did add mulled wine and spiked hot cocoa. I brought a lot of snacks, so for our family, we got 3 slices of pizza, and a bottle of water, hot cocoa for the kids for $50. I also got spiked hot cocoa and a cup of mulled wine for $20 ($10 each). The wine was disgusting we couldn’t drink it and just tossed it in the trash. Kind of tasted like everything in it got burned and was really not drinkable. Another person who attended said the same thing so whatever you do do not order this.

Tip: Do order the spiked hot cocoa and make sure to bring your own marshmallows.

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Stores at these Christmas Markets sell cookies and treats but also ornaments, scarfs, things to keep warm and seasonal stuff. The stores at this event are lipstick, Seahawk gear, and stuff people like but not traditional to what I was expecting. Also after spending $165 for a family of 4 ($70 family pack, $25 for parking, $70 on food) for a few hours, I wasn’t in the mood to shop and my kids didn’t have the patience with the crowd. Perhaps if it was just hubby and me, it might have been more fun to look around the little booths and shop a little.

Tip: Not sure what the policy is but I brought a lot of food and snacks for my kids. I’d bring a sandwich if you don’t want to pay $6 for a slice of pizza.

It’s Christmas

I just love Christmas and this place is super magical and beautifully decorated. Would make for a fun date night with a loved one. They also have Santa and some great spots for photos. The line for Santa was really long and there wasn’t much for the kids to do while they wait. There is also not a lot of sitting areas so after eating dinner standing and drinking some hot cocoa we opted to leave after being there for 90 min.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring a coat. The event is covered but it is very cold and drafty. We had jackets but I wish I had brought the kids gloves.

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In the end, I was happy we went and I loved how pretty everything was and so magical. But when friends ask it was a lot of money and I don’t think it is a great place for little kids. Save the money and go to candy cane lane and get hot cocoa as you walk.

I can’t wait to go Enchant next year without my kids. * L

 


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Kindness Advent Calendar for Little Kids

I LOVE Christmas and I can’t wait to decorate the house and put up our tree. As a mom it is very special sharing the joy with my kids. What I want them to remember the most isn’t the gifts but the overall joy of giving and sharing holiday cheer.

One thing we did last year with my then 2 and 4 year old will now be our annual tradition, is the Kindness Advent Calendar. They really love getting involved with the kind act of the day and got excited to hear what tomorrows kind act would be over dinner the night before.

Here are our 31 days of kindness for little ones:

Day 1 – Help around the house. It doesn’t have to be big. Here my 2 year old is helping unpack our produce box.

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Day 2 – Extra love for the pets. We gave our dog Una extra time to play at the park. Our kids had fun making the outing all about her.

Day 3 – Pick up someones newspaper at the end of the driveway and put it on their front steps. Not a lot of this these days but fun task to do when you are out for a walk or on your way to the park.

Day 4 – Buy coffee for the person behind you. I like to do this in the drive-thru and I ask my kids if today is the day we should do it. They love looking behind to see their faces. Or make coffee or tea for a loved one.

Day 5 – Help make Christmas cards. Even the 2 year old got to help with our cards this year. Give them the job to put stickers on the envelop or something that fits their age and skills.

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Day 6 – Collect all the toys you no longer use or want to donate to others. We do this a few times a year but this is also a great time to do it with the kids and talk about how others at school might not be getting a lot of toys and how to talk with compassion.

Day 7 – This follows up great with picking a tag off the giving tree. Since my kids can’t read yet I like to pick a kid their age so they can find a gift to give them. If you can giving new toys is a nice way to give back.

Day 8 –  Help someone in your family. I like giving the kids this one and letting them find a way to help. It can be bringing in someones dish to the kitchen, getting them a cup of water, or washing your brothers back with the luffa at bath-time.

Day 9 – Play nice with your friends. Have the kids try to go the extra mile to share and be kind to their friends. It is a fun task to have them focus on being kind for a day.

Day 10 – Make something for Grandma or a loved one. Everyone loves homemade gifts and treats.

Day 11 – Leave candy-canes in the neighborhood (or mailboxes). We added notes to our so they knew it was a gift from a friend.

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Day 12 – Help make Christmas gifts. Last year we made a bunch of homemade chapsticks to give to friends and family. The kids really enjoyed helping and wrapping them up.

Day 13 – Bake something. We made muffins to give to friends. This year we might do a big batch of cookies.

Day 14 – Offer to watch your friends kids and have a mini playdate at your home or park. Your kids will love it too and this will give another family some time to do things.

Day 15 – Donate food to a food bank. You can either purge from your own home or give your kids a budget to go buy stuff for a family in need.

Day 16 – Write inspirational notes or art work on post-its and put them up in public places for others to see. Public bathroom mirrors are a great spot!

Day 17 – Make a bird feeder to hang in a tree. There are some really fun easy ones you can do with pinecones, peanut-butter, string, and seeds. Also fun to watch the birds after!

Day 18 – Participate in neighborhood caroling. Or sign for family members and put on a show.

Day 19 – Bring a friend a hot cocoa when you meet up. Who doesn’t enjoy something hot on a cold winter day.

Day 20 – Buy a few coffee gift cards and hand them out to people you don’t know. We do a fun day downtown and I love having them for this event so my kids can call out people who they think could use a nice hot cup of coffee. Or you can give something els, it is the act of giving that is important.

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Day 21 – Hold open the door. This is a another great one for our downtown event. Ask the older kids to look for opportunities to hold the door for others. My son loves this one!

Day 22 – Buy something special for a family member. This isn’t anything big, just something special just for them. My kids are young so this is a fun way to help them learn about money and picking out a special gift for other family members.

Day 23 – Visit a senior center or memory care home. Bring treats, flowers, or the homemade cards and share some joy.

Day 24 – Make homemade cards. Depending on the age of your kids they can be simple cards with stickers and images, or write something inspirational, like you are loved, or have a great day.

Day 25 – Call family members and say hello. Good lesson for the kids to remember even if we aren’t together doing face time and saying hello is important and a way to stay connected to loved ones.

Day 26 – Help take down Christmas. We love the holidays but day after we take down our tree and everyone helps out.

Day 27 – Host a playdate. We made a hot cocoa station for the fun event at our home.

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Day 28 – Let someone else pick! It can be letting your sister pick out the show or movie to watch. Let them pick what song to listen to in the car or what place to eat lunch.

Day 29 – Learn how to say hello in different languages. Fun way to talk about other cultures and how to be kind when you meet people who don’t speak English.

Day 30 – Let someone go in front of you in line. You can do this several times during the day.

Day 31 – Get an extra hour. Everyone gets to pick either an hour of sleeping in, and hour extra of play, or an hour extra to stay up at night and go to bed late.

Here is a PDF of the Kindness Advent Calendar with visual clues for each day for you to print and use with the little ones. Enjoy and Merry Christmas * L


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Best Birthday Gift EVER

I am a working woman and I not only do I have a 401k job that takes up 50+ hours of my week I also have a nonprofit Starlight Scholars, and small foundation Two Working Moms that take up some of my free time when I am not mom-ing. I love being a mom, it is what I wanted back when I was in preschool playing house. I also love having a career and working on solving problems that help other be successful in their lives. As you can tell life is full.

Another year has passed and my birthday is coming up. My hubby asked what I wanted and after thinking about it what I really want is time. Time to focus on my 2019 goals and my 7 key pillars, time for me, me time!

So for my birthday this year I gave myself the best birthday gift ever and gave myself a week off. 

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The only time I have ever given myself time off was when I was able to carve out a little time before I started a new job or if you count the 8 weeks I went on short-term disability aka Amazon Maternity Leave. Yes I have taken vacations, done trips, did staycations, but never alone and just for me.

This week I took time off to do me and it was the best gift I have ever received. Kind of makes me sad it took me 40 year to think of this perfect gift.

We all know the best thing you can do to take care of your family, friends, and loved ones is to take care of yourself. So this year for your birthday consider giving yourself time. If you are a stay-at-home mom hire a nanny for the week. If you work at home, hire someone to take over for the week. If you work for a company ask for that time off.

You know best what you will want to do for your week. For me I made a list of what I was NOT going to do and what I was so I could make the most of my time. I still woke up at 4:30/5am to go running and most of the time will be spent on my 7 focus areas for 2019.

Family: Host playdate, volunteer at my son’s school, field trip with daughter’s preschool.

Home: Take down Halloween decorations, look into bathroom renovations.

Education: Finish book for bookclub, cooking and Spanish classes.

Work: Paperwork to move nonprofit from CA to WA, work on my Instagram and FB page.

Creation: Blog posts, TWM event, make blanket, family holiday photos.

Love: Date with hubby, 2 meals for new baby friends, massage session.

Health: Sign-Up for races and look into a fasting week.

Here is what I will NOT do: Clean the House, Organize Things, Special Meals, Weekly Errands, or Sleeping In.

Follow along with me on Facebook or Instagram. I post about working moms, life in the Pacific North West, monthly challenges, and how I am doing on my goals.

Happy Birthday to me!!!! * L