We have quickly reached the middle of December. You know what that means… it is almost the end of another year and another season of holiday cheer.
I don’t know about you, but I have about 60% of all my holiday shopping done. I still have a few gifts I need to purchase, but I am getting close to checking everything off the list.
I am usually the worst at buying gifts on time. Procrastinator should be my middle name this time of year. I. Am. The. Worst.
Personally, I am not a fan of shopping. I hate crowds and I am very task driven when I go to the store; I like to have something in mind, go straight in, execute, and leave.
It is a rare occurrence for me to window shop or leisurely peruse the store shelves. I can think of a million other things I would rather be doing. Like shopping from my computer while laying in bed.
See what I did there?
Alright, I have a confession. I hate shopping, but I don’t mind spending hours shopping online.
Why? Well, because I can take my time making decisions. I can research. I can explore innumerable options. No pressure.
All of this is good and bad because sometimes I struggle to make a decision. I am either compulsive, or so slow to act that I never get around to pulling the trigger.
Every year as we approach Christmastime, I usually have good intentions: buying gifts ahead of time, taking a nice family photo, and sending out a personalized holiday card with said photo.
I typically fail at all of the above.
I did buy a beautiful set of nativity cards to send this year, but guess what? I still haven’t sent those out either. So, if you are wondering if you are going to receive a card from me, please know that even if you don’t actually receive one, I am still thinking of you and there is probably a card in my house with your name on it.
But if you are here, you are probably wondering what these gifts are that I am promising will alleviate your last minute shopping woes, so I won’t drag this out.
If you are still looking for a few unique gift ideas for the holidays, look no further. I am going to break these up into categories with one or more of my favorite options within each.
But first, a disclaimer. I have partnered with several of the brands I am featuring. All of these are items that I currently use, and I have not been paid for any of these endorsements, although some items have been gifted to me. Nevertheless, I stand by my recommendations. These are all items I have been personally recommending to all of my friends as of late and most of which I have purchased with my own hard-earned money!
Gift Idea #1: Tech Notebooks
Notebooks are a great gift idea for anyone, really. Everyone needs to take notes, so why not give them a cute notebook or journal.
If you are thinking, girl, notebooks are boring, I get you. BUT….
I have been recommending these notebooks to everyone because they help digitize everything. No more wasting paper or losing notes. And what about all those pieces of paper your kids leave for you with their doodles? I have enough paper art to fill a closet and they haven’t even graduated from preschool.
Right now they have a special promotion where you can take 20% off your next order with code FINAL20. Plus, free shipping and arrival by Christmas!
Gift Idea #2: Handmade Jewelry
Jewelry can be a hard gift to give, but if you want something extra special that won’t break the bank, check out Simply Sofia.
I have to be honest… My mom owns Simply Sofia, so I may be slightly biased. 😉
But seriously, everything my mom makes is handmade with only the best quality natural stones at ridiculously affordable prices. Quality is paramount and she hand selects the best stones while making every piece with all her love.
Making jewelry by hand is hard work for my mom’s tired hands but she swears it humbles her. It is a true gift to be able to create jewelry by hand for those who want the added special touch.
If I had to pinpoint a collection to check out, I would have to share my personal favorite: Cami’s Rosaries. A line inspired by none other than…me!
I may be partial, but I honestly wear my Saint Peter Rosary everywhere. I do take it off to sleep and shower, though. This particular one is made with Job’s seeds, so they really can’t get wet.
The two featured below can be found here and here.
Simply Sofia has something for everyone – men, women, and children included. The best part is that Sofia will make a custom design to order if you prefer something personalized.
Also, we offer two-day flat rate shipping. That means you can order as late as the 21st and still get it in time for Christmas. (I would probably order by the 20th to make extra sure it gets there in time for no extra charge.)
Gift Idea #3: Skincare and Makeup
Serious question. Who wants better skin?
Let’s all raise our hands, because I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t want to improve some aspect of their skin.
Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? That is right, not every organ is internal, and your largest one just happens to be center stage, for everyone to see. So why not take care of it?
Everything you ingest, and even that which you don’t, like pollution and UVA/UVB rays, reflects on our skin, making it really important that we take care of it. All of it. Inside and out.
As far as gifts go, skincare covers everyone, from teenagers to mature women. There is hardly a more versatile gift.
Now that you see the value in gifting skincare, if you decide this is the direction you want to take, there are a few great options.
I have personally used Rodan + Fields for a month now. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I started having major breakouts in my thirties. I was desperate for help and Rodan + Fields came to the rescue.
When I finally decided it was time to invest in my skincare, I called up my good friend and former baseball wife, Susanne. She asked me a few questions and made some recommendations.
I finish every evening with the Lip Renewing Serum to condition my lips and smooth my lip texture.
Once I have been using the products for several more months, I plan to do a full review with before and afters.
If you have any questions, Susanne can help. She was a wealth of information when it came time for me to jump on the Rodan + Fields train.
Now that I am using it, I can’t believe it took me so long.
I love me some Younique. Younique does offer skincare, but personally, I have only used their makeup. I haven’t tried their skincare, so I can’t really speak to its effectiveness. I can tell you with confidence, however, that they have great makeup.
Younique is touted for being natural, mineral based, paraben free makeup and skincare.
What I love most is that it is never tested on animals. That makes this on-again-off-again-vegan-but-solid-pescatarian, happy. Very happy, in fact.
So, if you are looking for an amazing gift for a lady in your life that is chemical free, and cruelty free, then Younique is an amazing choice.
If you want to learn more about Younique and have an amazing experience, make sure you talk to my friend, Adreanna. We go back… way back… like to middle school, when David and I first started dating.
And if you want the VIP treatment, well then, Adreanna is your girl. She introduced me to Younique months ago, and now I am a full convert.
P.S. I bought my mom one of their gift sets for Christmas. But, shush, don’t tell.
Gift Idea #4: On-Demand Workouts
I gave up going to the gym a long time ago. With kids, my life got so busy, sometimes I only have a few minutes to get a workout in before I go to bed at 10 or 11 pm – and that is on the nights I don’t fall asleep while putting them to bed.
It is a struggle, but I do my best to find the time because my health matters.
I started using on demand apps almost a year ago and I haven’t looked back. For more on that, you can check out this post.
Right now, though, my favorite on demand workout app is Beachbody on Demand. I love that it has something for everyone and right now they have a one year subscription discounted for only $99 when you pay for the entire year up front!
Another great note to add is that it is easily accessible on nearly every device. Sadly, I can’t say that about all my other favorite on-demand apps.
This is what I would consider a gift that keeps on giving. It is something the receiver can use daily, and it gives back to their overall well being.
This is a wonderful gift for those looking to get something up to the day of! All you have to do is purchase it online and bam! It is active!
Gift Idea #5: Books
I love books. Not everyone loves books, but I promise everyone would benefit from having more of them in their lives. That is why I am a big proponent of gifting books.
Here is a list of some great choices this holiday season. Some are written by personal friends, others are just really worth reading. Check them out!
Mark Newman was my editor when I was blogging for MLBlogs. He is an incredible author and journalist. Diamonds from the Dugout came out last year, and now you can get his latest book, Yankees Legends, here.
I have to do a book review on Scary God. I am still in the middle of reading it, but boy is it goooooood. I am loving every second of this book.
So there you have it! My hope is that this gave you a few things to think about that you may have not been considering.
Good morning! It has been a while since I have been able to jump on here and share my musings with you. I have been swamped with client and volunteer work, plus school and family, but nevertheless, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah and start to Advent – even if I am a little late.
Hanukkah is a time symbolic of hope and Advent prepares us for the birth of our savior by reminding us of the importance of patience – all things we need to be more mindful of.
In addition to all of this, I wanted to share my thoughts on the holiday-time as they related to consumerism. Stores are getting increasingly crowded and people are scrambling everywhere to buy gifts for their friends and families while they still can. It is chaotic out on the roads, and frankly, it is not something I am comfortable with. I do not like big crowds and I rather shop for gifts from the comfort of my home. Aside from that, I am one of those people who like getting my friends and family practical gifts. If you are going to fill someone’s house with more “stuff” why not make it something useful.
Today I want to take a moment to share a really cool gift idea with everyone. Rocketbook sent me one of the new Everlast notebooks to give an honest review about, and I am now hooked. In a world obsessed with technology and reducing consumption, this notebook fits the bill. Below is an intro video about the notebook I received, and I do hope you consider gifting it to all your friends and family. This is an amazing product and it is super affordable! For more information and to subscribe to their email list for coupons and special offers, Get Rocketbook Here.
It is unfathomable that my first baby is turning FIVE in only two days! Jethro’s due date was October 31st, but I swore throughout my entire pregnancy that the odds of him being born on Halloween would be null. Not only was Jethro born on time, he made his grand entrance into the world just after 8 PM EST. As people all around the nation were going door to door dressed up in their costumes and trick-o-treating, copious amounts of candy thrown into interminable bins, I was busy pushing out a 7 lb, 8 oz baby boy.
With Jethro’s birthday only two days away, I have partnered up with Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Carolina Romanyuk to share some sleep tips, not just for Halloween, but also as we approach Daylight Savings. I don’t know about you, but I still have sleep issues with my three-year old, Brooks; he simply refuses to sleep without me. I am one of those moms who must stay in bed with their kids until they fall asleep, night after night. Not only is this not healthy anymore for them as they get older, it is affecting my own personal time and any hope for quiet moments with the hubby. I envy my friends who can tuck their kids into bed, give them a kiss goodnight, and close the door. I could list the million things I would be able to do before falling asleep if I had it that good. On the other spectrum, I am the mom who sneaks out of her kids’ bedroom – when I don’t fall asleep with them – only to be dragged back into their bed a few hours later when they wake up a realize I am missing. It is a vicious cycle, and I know it has to end.
Hopefully your sleep schedule and routine is better than mine. I would love to hear any advice you may have!
Below are a few tips to help you with your kid(s) sleep this fall.
Halloween Sleep Health Tips:
After a long evening of fun and candy eating kids are wired. Their cortisol levels are up sky high requiring outside factors to help their body start the wind down process for sleep. Instead of crashing in front of the TV, one thing they can do is wind down by listening to sleep stories. A favorite, Moshi Twilight for kids, is highly beneficial. www.Moshi-Twilight.com
If a child is amped up after watching a scary part of a movie, tell them to just imagine that when the scene is done, the Director says “CUT” and the goblins, witches, or whomever all stroll to the snack bar and start chatting and eating chips. It lets them know that it is all make believe and is all done for fun. You can even use YouTube to show the child what the backstage of the movie set looks like with those actors and characters.
Halloween is all in the head and plays with emotions. The adrenaline rush of the fear is what people gravitate to. For kids, especially sensitive ones, what can work well is to have them recreate a scary image into a funny one. For example, they can visualize a scary monster now dressed in maybe a hot pink tutu, a glittery bow and bright pink nails who now dances lightly all around.
Plan for an early bedtime the next day.
Wind down the body with a story in the background. Using your sense of hearing of soothing sounds connects your body and mind to start to wind down.
Talk about the experience when bedtime is approaching
Dim the lights in the room
Daylight Savings Sleep Health Tips:
This time of year of course everything shifts later. Bedtime moves one hour later than normal. It is generally far easier to fall asleep one hour after your normal bedtime, than one hour prior (for Spring).
For babies around 8 months plus, they can’t adjust with such a long awake time. Shifting their schedule every few days by 15 minutes is an effective gradual route. Focusing heavy on their routine should be soothing, using tools like darkness and winding their mind and body down with sleep stories, such as the app Moshi Twilight. www.Moshi-Twilight.com
Side note: when using sleep stories electronically, place the device under the covers or flat down and away from eye sight so the screen isn’t visible. The blue light that emits from the screen is what suppresses our sleep hormone.
Here’s how you can adjust bedtime a few days before the time change:
15 minute incremental adjustments. Bedtime becomes 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 8:00 PM, which by the post-DST clock is the “new” 7:00 PM. The same happens in the morning – 6:00, 6:15, 6:30, 7:00 AM (try to leave them in bed until your target wake-time). In four days, your child has adjusted to the new daylight savings.
For older children this is fun because they get to go to bed an hour later. So if your baby previously slept from 7:00 PM – 6:00 AM, they’re now going to bed at 7:00 PM (clock time, 8:00 PM body time) and sleeping till 5:00 AM (clock time, 6:00 AM body time) for a net loss of 1 hour. It can take a few days to adjust to this shift but most do fairly readily within a week.
I have been MIA the last few weeks, and I am sorry. My life has been sequestered by important life-altering decisions and commitments. Fortunately, I have surfaced on the other side of the mountain where light is everpresent and now I can focus my energies on following my bliss!
I haven’t had time to share much online since I spent all of last week at Saint Leo University, immersed in my writing program. Because I decided to go back to school to get my Master of Arts degree in a low-residency program, I have one week per year where I actually need to go to campus; the rest of the program is done via long-distance learning. As a mom, this has been the best arrangement for my family and it is the primary reason I chose to study at Saint Leo. Anyway, I was given the gift of time spent on campus with peers and professors, all while learning how to become more mature writers and readers, and ultimately better literary citizens. I have one year of studies left before I graduate and I am hoping I will be able to make the very best of it given my primary commitments as a mom and wife.
Because I have been in school and working two part-time jobs, our family has been blessed to have David living at home. Due to the fact that he started his coaching career with the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League, he is home every evening and has Sundays off. For a baseball wife, this is huge!! I have grown accustomed to him working 24/7 with a sporadic off-day during the regular season. This change in trajectory means that he is home to support me while I find time to study and write, and he never misses a chance to celebrate milestones, including birthdays with us. As a summer baby, I considered myself lucky when my birthday fell in the middle of a homestand. So cheers to this! YAY.
Since we knew David would be around more, we bought annual passes to Disney World this year. As an introvert and someone who rather stay home reading or watching a movie, I wasn’t in a rush to take the boys to Disney, but at David’s insistence and since we live so close, we bit the bullet. We bought the passes the last week of 2017 and have already taken several trips, often leaving after a game on Saturday and returning on Sunday. The drive to Orlando is less than two hours from our house, so we can drive over just for the day, which we did on Father’s Day. It has worked out incredibly well and the boys are super happy – and spoiled. Although we have had a lot of fun visiting Disney every few weeks, I am not sure if we will buy annual passes every year. Because of David’s schedule, the only option that makes sense for us is to buy the Platinum Passes with no blockout dates, which is why they end up being quite a lot of moola. Nevertheless, if you can afford it, they are worth every penny.
Bringing this around full circle, since the last day of my writing residency fell on Brooks’ 3rd birthday, July 21st, I asked the director of the program, Steve Kistulentz, if it would be okay to miss the day, allowing me to spend it with the family. Since we already had passes – and because what three-year-old doesn’t want to spend their birthday at Disney World – David and I made plans to celebrate this occasion at The Happiest Place on Earth. We invited our parents and my sister to join us. Not only was this an opportunity for birthday fun, the boys were going to meet their baby cousin – as they love to call him – for the first time.
My sister and I hardly see each other since I moved to Tampa and my boys still had not met their baby cousin, so what better time than the present?! My mother has been speaking endlessly about getting us together so that the boys can finally meet. My greatest dream, she says. Nothing would make her happier than seeing us all united as a family, setting aside any differences we may have, for the sake of peace and the boys. As I have learned this past month, life is short, and it is important to make time for the things that truly matter.
Looking back now, I can say with certainty that I spent the past week following dreams and spending time in the Happiest Places on Earth, the classroom, and Disney. Although I am not sure it would be in that order. Depends on who you talk to. 😉
Today is one of my favorite holidays of the year, America’s birthday! The fourth of July is sandwiched perfectly in the middle of the year and it is the ideal time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for, including the beauty and freedoms America affords us. Per usual, David is at a baseball game as I write this. There is always baseball on the fourth, and pretty much every holiday that takes place during the season, for that matter.
Truthfully though, we have been so fortunate the last two years because he has coached with the Gulf Coast League and been able to live at home. Even better, his game started at ten this morning, so he will be home early enough that we can go light some fireworks with the kids – or preferably, watch them. The boys keep asking about buying fireworks, but I can’t help but worry that someone may accidentally catch on fire!
Note: I am not a fan of anything hot or sharp! I am about as risk-averse as they come.
Regardless of your plans today, I hope you get the chance to enjoy the beauty around us on this special day. This is a great time to have fun with your friends and family, and to remember that we have so much to be grateful for!