Activity: Printable Thanksgiving Placemat

One of the hardest things about cooking Thanksgiving dinner is keeping the kids out of your hair while you do so. And when I say kids, for me and my house that means a 3 year old and a cat. There’s not much I can do with the cat besides shush him and throw evil looks, but I did find a cute activity for Johanna! You can find the activity here and the printout. Here is Johanna’s end result:

Processed with VSCOcamIsn’t it cute? She told me what she was grateful for and I wrote it in. Besides Jesus, of course, I think my fave is “my hair”. I love it! Share the activity with your child and see what they come up with!

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Johanna’s Mama Favorite Things – The Crafty Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

*Sprinkles gold and white glitter* Do you smell that? That fantastic aroma? It smells like THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!!!! Okay, to know me is to know that I am not a fan of even saying the word Christmas before Thanksgiving has had it’s spin, but something about threatening an almost 4 year old with the idea of not receiving ANY gifts because she’s on the naughty list just causes me to say the words SANTA and CHRISTMAS multiple times a day. There are certain words that come to mind when I think of the Christmas season – Jesus (obvi!), family, food, and SHOPPING! And in that order! So I wanted to put together a gift guide for you ladies and gents!

As you probably know, I’m a crafty mommy. I love to make things and if I can’t make it, I love to buy them from other crafty people that I know can make them. And that is what this years gift guide is all about. Items you can buy for the little one’s in your life that come from small businesses, many of them women, and many of them mama’s. I love supporting small businesses, so I’m here to list 30 of my favorite, and my favorite item from each shop. I’m going to quickly start with my own. I am selling cookies for santa mix in a jar, hot cocoa mix in a jar, santa sacks and more in my etsy shop that you can find here! Yes, shameless plug, and now that that is out of the way, let’s get on to some of the other wonderful crafters out there! Happy shopping!

Home Beautification

I love a good wreath! It really adds a heightened sense of celebration to your home, no matter what the occasion. I also know how time consuming and difficult they are to make! So if you need one for your home this holiday season, May I suggest visiting Wreaths by Emma Ruth? It seriously amazes me that her items aren’t sold in stores. Seriously, I expect to walk into Macys to find this wreath:

Isn’t she gorgeous? Even if this particular wreath does not fit your home or style, no worries, Emma Ruth has more to choose from, including a beautiful Christmas wreath, and she takes custom orders.  Make sure you put your order in while the holiday season is still early if you’re getting one as a gift. Enter code JOHANNASMAMA when checking out for a 15% off discount from now until December 16th!

I love all things glitter, so no one is surprised that I love this ornament, right? It’s gorgeous! Gliterred and personalized? Winning! Send a custom order request to Sage House Designs to beautify your tree this Christmas season. Enter code JOHANNASMAMA for a 10% off discount from now until December 16th!

CrafteroniNCheese does gorgeous watercolor work at a very affordable price and she accepts custom orders! This piece is a limited edition piece of work, but again, you can have her create something just for you! Use code “ALISTHOLIDAY14” for 20% 0ff of your purchase today!

Bugaboo Bear Designs creates beautiful pieces of art work for your home and nursery including keepsake boxes and handpainted wood designs at an affordable price. On cyberMonday she is offering 25% off of all purchases!

Fit for a Princess

Rolling Heads Crowns makes crowns that are super cute, but when I saw these minnie Mouse inspired hair clips I fell in love. How cute are these?

and how cute is this crown???

There are also crowns perfect for Christmas so check them out today!

I love big chunky necklaces, and Johanna does as well. It’s often hard to find someone who can make them just right, but over at Oh my Girlies they do just that. The one above is perfect for Christmas, but there are plenty of others here that are perfect for stocking stuffers for that special little girl in your life.

I am big time into the bohemian look these days and these jersey knit hair turbans are right up my alley! Best news of all? Sandchica has a sale on them going on right now!

This super cute crown clip is so irresistable! I have to have it and I know you do too. Sassy Sweethearts Boutique makes these beautiful creations and diverse option of other hair accessories as well that are perfect for stocking stuffers.

Gorgeous, right? I love a beautiful hairbow and this one certainly tickles my fancy. Visit Decorated Diva’s Boutique for other gorgeously designed headbands and bows for every occasion. On cyberMonday you can get this beautiful headband and everything else in the shop for 30% off entire order using code cjcybermonday.

Sofia the first is a hugely popular show these days, so I thought you mama’s would enjoy this beautiful crown made by Banana Belle Fashion. It’s sparkly and chic, and any little girl would love it, whether they are a Sophia the first fan or not!

Tutu’s She’ll Love!

Everyone loves a good tutu! They’re fun and all things girlie! One of the prettiest tutu dresses I’ve seen for Christmas was at Tutus for All.

10378160_394509317369203_1148294076467838261_nIsn’t she beautiful? Not looking for a Christmas tutu? It’s okay because she has tutu’s for every occasion. If you know Johanna then you know that simply waking up in the morning is good enough cause to wear a tutu!

So, I secretly prayed that Johanna wouldn’t be a princess girl because I wanted her to know she was more than just a princess or her looks. Alas, she first fell in love with the Little Mermaid, and then it was all downhill from there. It was then that I remembered that there was one Disney Princess that I absolutely adored and that was Belle. So when I saw this tutu, I slightly swooned. It tugged at the little girl in me, and it will tug at the little girls in your life hearts too. Maddy’s Rose Boutique has other beautifully designed tutus as well, including little cute rompers!

This tutu dress grabbed my attention because it’s perfect for the age Johanna is now (soon-to-be 4). It’s not too babyish, and it’s not too grown, it’s perfect that kid age. It looks very easy, breezy sophisticated and I love it! Trendy Tutus By Lauren has plenty of others to choose from as well. There’s only 1 of this particular dress left though, so I would snatch it up immediately if you love it!

Bath Time Fun

I know that many of my readers either suffer from eczema, or their child does and finding something to soothe their skin can be difficult and quite costly. Lena Jeanne is an oncology biochemist who focuses on Eczema/Psoriasis/Acne/Oily Skin and other skin conditions. She really cares about her customers and it’s showing, as she is getting rave reviews! You can buy her eczema soap and ointment here.

Kids rarely care about soap unless it bubbles or looks fun, and this one definitely looks fun! Snowglobe soaps are created by Roots in Eden and according to their store these soaps are made of “nourishing glycerin soap and pure essential oils, these soaps are as functional as they are beautiful. Hand painted and crafted centers are also made of soap, so the bar is usable to the end.” These particular soaps come in peppermint or cinnamon scents. The first 10 people to order on CyberMonday will receive a 2oz. peppermint snowball soap with festive wrap ($3.00 value).

There’s a little girl that lives in my house that loves to get into my smell goods. How do I distract her from doing this? By buying her her own my little pony inspired cupcake soaps of course! What kid could say no to that? With yummy scents that represent every pony, this gift is a must. Scents include:

Rarity – Pink Sugar

Pinkie Pie – Birthday Cake

Applejack – Taffy Apple

Twilight Sparkle – Black Raspberry Vanilla

Fluttershy – Easter Flowers

Rainbow Dash – Fruit Slices.

That’s just for the my little pony scents. There are much, MUCH more products and scents to choose from at Magical Star!

I used to love hooded towels when Johanna was a baby, but it was hard to find them as she got older. You can’t imagine how excited I was to find these beautifully designed hooded towels over at Mandy’s Joy! I’m a little Frozened out, but Johanna adores Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, so this is the perfect stocking stuffer for her!

How about a gift that does double duty? These soaps are embedded with santa and reindeer duck toys! Visit Sudzy Bums for even more bathtime gifts for your little ones. Enter coupon code XMAS14 for %20 off your purchase. It expires December 1st!

Stuffed Toys Made with Love

Clever Finch Designs is one of my favorite etsy shops. I love that the stuff toys are so elegantly put together. I simply adore this elephant! A great gift if you have a baby in your life. Other designs also available.

House of Laylayt makes these adorable custom pillows. How cute is this owl?!? She also has other fantastic designs including stuffed tooth fairy pillows, so if your little one has a loose tooth, go order one now!

I think that handmade dolls are so special because a lot of love go into them and the makers do their darndest to make sure that the recipient is pleased with the work. This doll with purse will be a great gift for any little girl. Shop The Jolly Hooker to see more crocheted and stuffed items. From Nov.27th-Nov.30th you can get 10% off all purchases and a free gift for all orders over $25 dollars before shipping COUPON CODE: THANKS2014. From Dec.1st-Dec.15th you can receive 5% off all purchases and a free gift for all orders over $25 dollars before shipping COUPON CODE: XMASLOVE. Any orders between now and Dec.25th over $50 in purchases get a $5 off coupon.

Customize your own little 13″ doll (boy or girl!) at Made with Love Dolls. You choose hair color, eye color, skin color, and style! Make it your own! Give your little one a doll that looks just like them!

So cute right? I’m so happy that the creative peeps out there are thinking of things like tooth fairy pillows so I don’t have to lol. If you want this, or wall letters, plush toys and more, visit Baby Ruth’s Boutique! So adorable!

Mommy Break

Little Lennons creates busy books for kids. The busy books are customized for children between the ages of 1-10. Tell them your child’s interests and they will create a book in that theme that will engage your child when you need a break to do other things. So much better than plopping your child in front of the tv! Little Lennons will be offering a Black Friday and Small Business Saturday special only- buy homemade play-dough and get 3 free play-dough mat pages (6 FREE activities). Also, there is a December 15th deadline to ensure delivery by the 25th!

Meaningful Jewelry

When a baby is teething we know that they like to sink their gums into anything they think will sooth them. Often times it’s mommies necklace that catches their eye. Well what about having a fashionable necklace that is a functional teething ring? Awesome idea right? Lil Elephant Design creates these functional necklaces that are made of 100% cotton fabric, ribbon, and food grade silicone beads.  There are a variety of designs to choose from so this would make a great gift for any pregnant mama, or mama of a teething baby.

This necklace is not just for kids, but for adults too. It’s a family tree necklace created by Nathalie Lynn Designs. “The Tibetan Silver tree charm adorns an 18 inch sterling silver chain along with crystals to represent birth months of your child(ren) or loved ones.” I’m not big on necklaces, but I thought this was very elegant and had a simple beauty that could not be denied. If you have a design in mind, just send her a message. She does accept custom orders.

Stay Warm

How beautiful is this crocheted puppy scarf? It’s made by Chucks for Chancho and you can find other beautiful scarves in her shop as well as gloves, hats, photo props, and more. They will be offering 20% off of all products on CyberMonday!

This fox scarf gives me fever! It is chic, fancy, and your kid definitely won’t complain of being cold! Visit Kerzeis Kollection to get yours.

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25 Days of Christmas Fun with Advent Activities!

Every year I look for new traditions to add to my families celebration of Christmas. Johanna’s first year I did the official santa letter, response letter from Santa and certificate. Then the next year I started the Christmas eve boxes where I fill a box for her and my husband with little things – pajamas, cologne, snacks, a coloring book, stickers, earrings, etc. Well this year I decided to add an advent calendar to the mix!

This came about because I was trying to figure out what kind of service activities my 3 year old could do during the Christmas season. It was hard to find something that actually got her involved, but then I started thinking about things we love to do. We are definitely going to do a Christmas child box, but what about baking cookies for our local fire department, the mailman, and ups delivery guy? How about sugar free treats for the local nursing home? Then I began thinking about all of the activities I wanted to do with her for the season and how exciting it would be. Me being a planner started to put together a list so that in December I wasn’t caught by surprise, and instead knew exactly what I was going to do when I was going to do it. An advent calendar made perfect sense! I know there may be some parents out there struggling with ideas of what to do, so I decided to share my list in case it could be helpful to you! Here are our 25 activities (and a couple of extras in case those don’t work out for whatever reason):

  1. Make and Decorate our family Christmas ornament
  2. Decorate a plate for santa
  3. Make Santa cookies and reindeer treats
  4. Write letter to Santa while sipping cider
  5. Frozen movie night
  6. Christmas Lights at Watkins Park
  7. Read a Christmas story
  8. Decorate the Christmas tree
  9. Make hot chocolate with all the toppings!
  10. Decorate gingerbread house
  11. Train ride with Santa
  12. Breakfast with Santa
  13. Operation Christmas Child
  14. Make cookies for our local nursing home
  15. Chocolate dipped pretzels, yummm!
  16. Make snickerdoodles and watch a christmas movie
  17. Make paper crowns and talk about the wisemen and the gifts they brought Jesus
  18. Make Glitter snow globes
  19. Christmas Eve Boxes!
  20. Have fun taking christmas family photos
  21. Make Christmas bark while singing carols
  22. Bake treats for the mailman and ups guy
  23. Take treats to the fire station
  24. Zoo lights
  25. Visit the holiday market in downtown DC
  26. The living Christmas Tree Music and Lights show
  27. Ice skating!
  28. Go to the movies to see the new Annie

And while I was browsing the internet to get more ideas of things to do, I came across this blog which had the brilliant idea of putting together an advent reading plan. It takes the various stories in the bible that talk about Christs birth, and breaks them up into 24 nights, so that you can read them and discuss them as a family. Awesome! Anything that puts the focus back on Jesus gets an Amen and toss of glitter from me! It’s so cool that she posted the breakdown of each day so you don’t have to go searching for the scriptures yourself.

Jesus-Storybook-Bible-reading-plan-for-Advent-free-printableThe bible she got the stories out of is the Jesus story bible. Pick it up if you can. It will make following her template easy peasy.

I pray this post has been a blessing to you and your family during the Christmas season. Please share what your favorite Christmas traditions are and how your family keeps the focus on Jesus as well!

Leading a Purpose Driven Day

Recently I ran across a blog post about centering yourself and your day that was eye opening for me. The writer started a new morning routine to center herself before her day really began, and it helped to keep her calm, focused, and her day streamlined. She had her little cup of coffee while she prayed and wrote out her intentions for the day. That of course caused me to take a step back and see how I focused my day. It was then that I realized that, I didn’t.

The first ten minutes of me waking up is me telling Johanna to leave me alone because I’m still sleeping, then slinging her morning muffins at her as I try to use the time that she’s chewing to slide in a few more moments of sleep. But then it begins.

Mommy I’m thirsty.

Mommy I have to potty.

Mommy I was want to play in my room.

Mommy.

Mommy.

Mommy!

And it all snowballs from there. I’m tired and annoyed all day. I can barely function. She isn’t taught her lessons in a smooth wya. THere are no transitions. My whole day is literally just about surviving that day. Then because she doesn’t go to sleep until 11:30/midnight, I’m up until 2 or 3 getting stuff done. Then I crawl in bed and try to sleepily read my bible going cross-eyed not really receiving a word of it. Finally I doze off, just to wake up at 8 to do it all over again.

That is suicide.

That blog post woke me up. I wish I could remember what blog I was reading because I owe that person a big thank you. Beginning Sunday night we had a new routine. Johanna was to get ready for bed at 9pm, and be on her way to dreamland at 9:30. It worked! Naps are out the window. They added an additional hindrance to her not going to sleep until the midnight hour, so no more of those! Sunday night she fell asleep at roughly 10:15. Not bad for the first night, but I was praying it wasn’t just a fluke. The next day we woke up by 8:30, she ate her muffins and watched a show while I sat and prayed and read my bible. Then She took her bath and so on. I literally had my day schedule down to the minutes. I’m talking 9:05am give Johanna a bath. 9:25am brush teeth. It was, and I am, so serious. I scheduled breakfast, lunch, and snacks, school work, and play time.  It was amazing how much I got done! Annnd having Johanna’s bedtime be 9:30 and mine 11:30 meant that I got to spend some real time with my husband. Amazing! In this short period of time Johanna has started drifting to sleep about 10-15 minutes after she goes to bed. The downside is that by 5-6am she is ready to rise and I have to tell her at least twice to go back to sleep it’s not time to get up yet. Thank God she does!

I finally have my time in the morning to thank God for seeing another morning, read his word, make a declaration for my day, and stick to it. I finally feel like I’m facing each day with a purpose, and we’ve only been doing this for 4 sleeps! Amazing!

How is your morning routine? Do you give yourself time in the morning to center yourself?

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7 Tips to Help You Overcome Holiday and Seasonal Depression

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Ever since the day I planned to take my life over 10 years ago, and due to God’s grace didn’t, I have become painfully aware every time my mood shifts. When something is slightly off with my mood, I hone in on it, try to figure out what it is. I usually can see the signs of depression before they even really start. Thankfully I am depression free and have been for over 10 years. However, since the death of my mother in 2011, November is the start of there being my clouds in my world, both literally and figuratively, and it is during this time that I have to be vigilant about taking care of myself.

The holidays can be hard for a lot of people. With the holidays comes financial stress, too many commitments, and missing loved ones. And to add to all of that, the most dreary season of all comes upon us during this time. Some people do not just suffer from holiday depression, but seasonal depression as well.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone, but 60-90% of sufferers are women. Many people who suffer from SAD also live in climates with overcast winter days that bring difficult weather, gray skies, and long winter nights.

 

I was born in the thick of the holidays. Being a December baby used to be so exciting and last year was not going to be an exeception.  I had planned to celebrate my birthday for a whole weekend. I really thought it was going down! It didn’t. I ended up cancelling everything. I didn’t understand it until December 26th when a weight felt like it was lifting off of my shoulder, and the weight completely disappeared January 20th, the day after the anniversary of my mother’s death. Honestly, it caught me slightly off guard but I should have been prepared. My birthday is December 16th and my moms was December 19th. We celebrated December big! Our birthdays AND Christmas in the same month? Awesomeness! But with her being gone, my daughters birthday being 2 weeks after Christmas and the anniversary of my moms death being 3 weeks after Christmas, well, I’m feeling overwhelmed just talking about it!

But this year I am prepared, and if you suffer from Holiday and/or Seasonal Depression, I want you to be prepared too! Here are 7 tips to help you overcome Holiday and Seasonal Depression:

1) Know the signs

Signs may include headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and trouble sleeping; feeling hopeless; feeling listless and disinterested in activities; a desire to withdraw from other people and to forgo social occasions you’d normally be apart of; feeling irritable and melancholly.

 

2) Make a plan

Make a plan to find events and things to enjoy during the holidays and the rest of the winter. This year I created an advent calendar for Johanna, so we will be doing something special for 25 days in December. Some things that may bring you joy are hot chocolate by the fire place, curling up under a blanket watching movies with your family, building a snowman, sledding

3) Volunteer

One of the greatest things we can do to beat depression period is to take the focus off of ourselves, and put it on others. When we give to others, it fills us in a special way. It helps us to refocus and feel more thankful for what we do have, instead of focusing on what we don’t or what we wish we could change.

4) Prioritize Your Time

Don’t overbook yourself! That can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted. Pick your priorities, and stick to them!

5) Walk on Sunshine!

When the sun IS out, go enjoy it! Even if you’re at work, take that 15 minute break and go soak up some Vitamin D. The sun can be hard to catch in the winter, so when it does show up, go greet it!

6) Take Care of You

Carve out some time in your day to just focus on you. Go get a manicure or a facial, read a book for thirty minutes, go for a walk or do other exercise activities.In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

7) Pray

Start your day off having a talk with Jesus. Name the things you are thankful for. Confess the things that are troubling you, or that you need help with overcoming. Ask for guidance, wisdom, and discernment. Most importantly, ask for the joy of the Lord. It’s sweeter than honey and nothing nor anyone can take it away from you. Seriously, if you can carve out even 15 minutes in your morning to spend with the Lord, I guarantee you that your day will start off on the right foot. But don’t forget, he’s also available all day everyday and willing to help you whenever you call.

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