Gifts Moms With Little Ones Will Love

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Do you know a mom with little ones that you would like to bless this Christmas?

Well.

Then this list is for YOU! Whether she’s your mom, wife, friend, or daughter, here’s some gift ideas she’ll love.

*Note – I am not affiliated with any of the gifts below, these are simply some of my favorite items that I think other moms could use and would like.

thermosNo Spill Coffee Mug – You guys, this Thermos Stainless King 16 Oz Travel Tumbler is the best. Ever. I’ve been using mine daily for 3 years and it’s still in great shape. Why so great? I just throw it right in my purse or diaper bag because this lid DOES NOT leak (as long as you close the lid – a grievous mistake). Keeps coffee piping hot for 5 hours, or cold things cold for 9.

 

coloring-book

Color-therapy – What could be more soothing than coloring while pondering the character of God? The Color the Names of God: An Adult Coloring Book for Your Soul by Marie Michaels and her other books will help the mom in your life to do just that.  The illustrator is a friend of mine and her soul is as beautiful as her art work. And, you can ‘Like’ the Marie Michaels Art Facebook page and find free Coloring Advent pages.

mattress-padFor the freeze-baby – I am so grateful a friend told me about the heated mattress pad. At first, my hubby was not a believer, but ours has dual controls so he can set his temperature to low and turn it on only when he wants to. Turn on for a few minutes before bed and the sheets won’t be ice-cold. AND, if the mom you’re buying for has to get up in the night to nurse a baby, she can come back to warm sheets. Trust me, it is the gift she never knew she needed, but DOES.

necklaceTeething Necklace  I have several silicone teething necklaces from Consider it Maid. These are my go-to gift for new moms. They hold up well, baby loves them and they look great as a colorful accessory. I love being able to use it to distract the baby when we’re out for coffee. Friends often ask where I got mine and are shocked when I tell them its a silicone teething necklace. I plan to wear mine long after baby stops teething.

coffeeCoffee gift card  A gift card to a coffee shop is sure to please – a hot tasty beverage and some treats? Yes, please. I suggest picking one with a drive-thru to make the gift even better. Not only does she not have to get out of the car, but she can enjoy the coffee while it’s still hot. I call that winning. Planning to buy more than one? See if you can buy it at SAMs Club or Costco for a discounted price.

 

diy-photo-pendant-beaded-necklacesPhoto Pendants – Why not make a gift using photos of those little people she loves so much? Creep her Facebook or Instagram feed and make your own DIY Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces using her favorite pictures. This is one gift she is guaranteed to love forever.

 

journalA Gratitude Journal – Find a great journal and nice pens or markers. Make it extra special by writing what YOU are grateful about her. Or, even better, have her kids write in it. She’ll know how loved she is every time she picks it up.

 

 

snow-day-survival-kitA Snow Day Survival Kit – Give the gift of activities for her family to enjoy together on a snow day. It will help entertain kids when she needs something to do, and provide a tasty, fun treat.

 

 

anchorString Art – A fellow blogger is selling string art on her new Etsy site, TheBurlapNestShop. I’ve been following her creations in my Instagram feed and I’m in love! Check it out for a unique, whimsy gift for the mom you have in mind.

life-verseCustom Necklace  – Moms love necklaces with their kids names on it and you can find tons of them on Etsy. However, maybe the mom in your life isn’t the photo or name-wearing type? How about a Custom Life-Verse necklace by Deirdre & Company? Keeping God’s word close to her heart is sure to bless.

 

a-good-bookA Good Book – I’m always a fan of a good book, especially one that someone I know has actually read and loved. I just finished ‘The Best Yes – Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands‘ by Lysa TerKeurst. Doesn’t that topic seem like something many of us moms could use? Take a look at your book shelf – anything stand out that you’ve read lately?

 

mealsMeals – Make her job easier by giving her the gift of meals. Give one meal, or maybe even one per month for the next year. You will bless her by taking one of her daily jobs off of her plate. Make it a healthy one and she’ll be even more grateful – that way she can save the easy pizza meals for nights she has to come up with dinner on the fly.

 

engagedGo Out – Whether she’s your mom, friend, wife or daughter, the best gift you can give is to take time to be with her. It can be simple, like lunch or coffee. OR, you can get dressed up and do something spontaneously fun. Whatever it is, doing it together is what counts. AND, if you arrange for childcare ahead of time, she can go care-free.

patinaStill not sure what to buy? In the Twin Cities area, head to your nearest Patina gift store. My personal favorites are the handmade jewelry, shower bombs, slippers, books, and MN-inspired gifts. You cannot go wrong in the store and with an eclectic variety, you’re sure to find something even the most difficult-to-buy-for mom will love.

Kindergarten Happens.

Kindergarten | thisgratefulmama.com

School supplies, backpacks, and school forms – we have them all. Obviously, I knew it was coming.

And yet…

How. Did. This. Happen?

In just one week our oldest child will begin kindergarten. And he is so excited. So ready.

While we can savor these last few days at home together, Kindergarten is happening – whether I am ready or not.

Life will be forever different. Instead of spending most of his time home, with us, he will spend most of his school year days with classmates and teachers.

I will miss him fiercely.

And so will his sisters.

It is hard to not dwell in sadness of what I will miss out on in his life. I will no longer have the front row seat for his school challenges and achievements. I realize this was true in preschool too, but he was only going two days, and now…FIVE!

Most of his activities and experiences at school will be learned only when he or a teacher shares it with us. Second-hand, after-the-fact.

I pray he loves school so much he can’t contain his excitement and wants to tell us ALL (and I do mean ALL) about it.

But as this new season begins, despite sadness and a little bit of fear, I just cannot hold back my joy and excitement for all he will learn in this new adventure.

New friends. Personal responsibility. Art. Gym. Newfound independence. Social skills. Letters. Math. Science. New challenges. History. And oh, so much more!

And my favorite thing to think about?

Reading.

Whether in kindergarten or first grade, he will go to school, and someday, when he is ready, he will READ!

Our son will take all those carefully practiced letters and sounds and something will click. He will start to see how individual letters link together to make words. Then he will begin to read simple words, and then sentences, and…suddenly…he will read for himself.

And he will be able to write those words and sentences.

A profound, life-long set of skills for communication and learning.

Instead of needing parents to read and write for them, our kindergarteners will soon do this for themselves. Suddenly, a wealth of information is available to them, in black and white.

Books. Magazines. Newspapers. Posters. Billboards. Instructions. This grateful mama’s blog (whoa that is a strange thought)…And SO. Much. More.

But what excites me the most?

The Bible.

Our son will have the ability to read and study the Word of God for himself.

Take that in.

How exciting is THAT!? 

No longer will he have only heard the stories of the loving sovereign creator of the world. No longer will he have to rely on verses we’ve helped him memorize (although we will continue to memorize more as a family).

He will be able to read it ALL for himself. He will experience how God speaks to His children through scripture.

The Bible will become alive, personal, and precious as he explores it on his own. It is my prayer that the Bible will become our son’s most treasured possession, and favorite book.

I am SO GRATEFUL he has the opportunity and gift of going to a safe, academically strong, public school in the United States.

We are so, VERY privileged.

And so, with apprehension, sadness, joy, gratitude and elation, I am preparing myself to send him off on the school bus for his first day of school.

He is so excited to hop on that bus. Ready to learn. Ready for the independance. Ready for new friends. Ready for kindergarten and all that is in store for him.

And so, grateful for and expectant of how he will grow this year, I pray I will also be ready.

I choose to surrender my sadness and worry while trusting God with our son’s safety – He’s got this.

As I watch our son’s excitement and joy, I choose to dream and hope right alongside him. Ready or not, I can’t wait because he can’t wait.

Our son will do just fine out there in the little part of the world called kindergarten. In fact, I know he will thrive.

I will likely be one big mess of emotion as he steps onto the school bus that first day. I will do my best to keep it together for his sake (and my neighbors).

Kindergarten, ready or not, here we come!

Aren’t we all just moms?

Aren't we all just moms? | thisgratefulmama.com

Why does it seem like moms are offended by each other on a regular basis?

Some stay at home moms are offended by other stay at home moms.

Some stay at home moms are offended by working moms.

Some working moms are offended by other working moms.

Some working moms are offended by stay at home moms.

Those stay at home mom and working mom labels make everything such a mouthful.

Good grief. Why is everyone so offended? Aren’t we all just moms?

Before I offend anyone – I don’t mean we’re ‘just’ moms. All of us are more – friends, daughters, aunts, professionals, volunteers, teachers, wives, athletes and more. But fundamentally, if those characteristics do not fully define us, why are we so quick to define ourselves by our activity of staying home or working outside the home?

Why are we so concerned about what we and others do all day? Whether we work at home, or away from home, part-time, full-time, or not at all, we are ALL full-time moms. Each of us became moms when we first loved our children. For some, it happened while babies were still in our womb. For others, it happened when they first began to seek out adoption, possibly while their child was in the womb of someone else.

It is our heart that defines us as a mom. Not what we do.

When our son was born, I worked outside the home. When our daugter was born, I stopped working outside the home. My days look different now, but I’m still the same amount of mom.

Once a mom, ALWAYS a mom – regardless of the other ways you spend your time.

Why are we so concerned with who feels blessed to be home and who complains about it? Why do we presume working or stay at home moms want to be home, or that they do not? Or that it was an easy choice? Why do we presume a working mom wants to work when some have to work to provide? Why presume anything?

Are we all so insecure in our own mom-role that we need to tear others down in theirs?

Quit judging! We were not put here on this planet to judge other moms. 

Now, I know some women can be judging, unkind, catty, careless with words or unaware of their impact, but we all need to grow some thicker skin. The word ‘offended’ is defined as resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. Much of what we are offended by may have been unintentional and petty because we’re all just a little bit too sensitive.

Who cares if so-and-so is happy or unhappy in their situation-that-you-want? Their situation is NOT yours and theirs is much more complicated than you perceive it to be. And, although they may sound ungrateful, they might just be having a really bad day. Don’t we all have bad days?

Let’s focus on trying to be content in our own situation instead of the one we don’t have. The grass isn’t always greener, and sometimes it’s brown, crispy and a fire-hazard.

Who are we to call other moms ungrateful? If we’re offended by their lack of gratitude, we’re probably ungrateful in our OWN situation.

We are all women. Mothers. There should be comradery in these noble things.

It is time to start encouraging each other and to spend our time lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. Encourage the career-minded mom and cheer her on in her endeavors. Encourage the mom who stays home because she feels called to do so.

And please, we need to go out of our way to encourage the moms working or at home whose circumstance determined their days – they have set aside their preference and are doing what needs to be done for their family. We should cheer them on wholeheartedly.

It is time to extend grace when someone else’s words strike a nerve in our own life. It is time to leave our gossiping, angry blog-posting and social media slandering ways and to instead have empathy for each woman and her struggles. It is time to point each other towards hope and joy and to check our jealousy at the door.

We are ALL moms – that should be enough to be a community who supports each other in such an important endeavor.

Will you join me?

Big News

Months ago, we made a big deal with our two kids about going out to dinner. Just our family. My husband and I were so excited. We had BIG news to share with them.

A baby.

Their response? Well…it was lackluster at best.

Our 5-year-old son kept looking at the TVs to catch a glimpse of baseball. And the news seemed beyond our 2-year-old daughter’s comprehension. They smiled and moved on to asking for more water and chips.

The highlight of telling the big news wasn’t until 15 minutes later when our food arrived at the table.

Giving us a quizzical look, our son asked the only logical question a 5-year-old could ask under these circumstances.

“So…did you EAT the baby?”

Well…no. God put it there. Our son nodded. We could see his little mind pondering the new information. Then he voiced his confusion and curiosity as he watched me eat.

“But your food goes in your stomach…”

An excellent observation. We told him the baby is in my tummy, but not where the food goes. For lack of a better explanation, we told him the baby is in its very own water-balloon.

Apparently this was a satisfactory response.

He nodded, smiled and said nothing more about the baby. No questions. No excitement or sharing the news with others.

For months.

We continued mentioning and celebrating the baby, but our children continued as if nothing happened.

I guess a new baby wasn’t big news after all.

Two months later, I picked up my son’s artwork from his preschool cubby. And suddenly I was that mom, fighting back joyful tears in the preschool hallway.

Why? Because of this drawing of our little family:

Family Picture | thisgratefulmama.com

What more could a mama want?

After class, he told me all about how his teachers had been surprised and asked him about the little one in the belly. He proudly told them he was going to have a baby brother or sister. AND he had decided he wanted a baby brother.

It may have taken longer than expected, but they finally GET it. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat and the pictures and video from the ultrasound have certainly helped.

We now have one very excited soon-to-be BIG sister and BIGGER brother.

Now we just have to wait until May…

Grateful.

My heart may burst.

The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit)

 

The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit) | thisgratefulmama.com

In preparation for summer, I’ve been compiling a summer bucket-list so we’ll be ready with an activity when we are hankering to get out and DO something. The list contains places and activities in and around the Twin Cities (MN), appropriate for families with little ones.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities we could do this summer. While I don’t think we’ll make it through this list in just one summer, we will have a lot of options.

Of this I am certain – this much fun is meant to be shared!

Below is the current bucket-list, or if you prefer, you can find the summer bucket list (and me) on Pinterest (oh yes, I recognize the blatant self-Pinterest-promotion – I’m not ashamed).  I plan to keep adding new ideas to the Pinterest board throughout the summer and have just started fall and winter lists.

Without further ado…

The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List

Family Friendly Events

A selection of the best family friendly summer events the Twin Cities has to offer.

  • June 5 – June 7 – Edina Art Fair
  • June 6 (and Saturdays this summer at 10 am)- Free Family Sensory Flicks – Free, first-come-first-serve until the theater reaches capacity with special arrangements for those affected by autism or other sensory disorders, with lower sound, additional staff and other accommodations
  • June 7, 2015, 1 pm – Parade of Boats, Centennial Lakes Park, Edina. The Edina Model Yacht Club members sail their radio-controlled boats – free
  • July 7 – August 25, 2015 – Summer Tuesdays in Stillwater are a family event with a movie in the park at dusk
  • June 6, 2015 – Explore Your Parks Day in Washington County Parks – Free admission. No Vehicle Permit required
  • Jun 18 – July 4, 2015 –  Manitou Days in White Bear Lake has over 70 events on their schedule, starting with a parade on June 19 (at 6:30 pm) and ending with 4th of July Fireworks (at 10 pm)
  • July 4, 2015 – Afton’s Parade and 4th of July Celebration. Small town feel, great fun!
  • July 17-19, 2015 – Stillwater Log Jam Parade at 1pm on Sunday the 19th
  • July 22 – 25, 2015 – Minneapolis Aquintennial. So much to choose from with a few main events listed below.
    • July 22, 5:30 – Family Fun Night in Loring Park
    • July 22, 8:30 pm – Torchlight Parade
    • July 23, 6 & 8 pm – Twin Cities River Rats water show
    • July 25, 10 pm – Fireworks
  • July 29 – August 2, 2015 – Washington County Fair
  • August 28-30, 2015 – Woodbury Days festival – Kids 5 and under are free
  • August 27 – September 7, 2015 – MN State Fair. No words needed – Kids under 5 are free

 

The Great Outdoors

Soak up the sun and fresh air with these outdoor parks and activities.

 

Indoor Fun

Escape the heat or rain and fend off boredom with some indoor fun.

 

Day Trips

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a fantastic day-trip.

My Heart May Burst

My heart is so full, it just might burst!

As I shared on Friday, I entered Mother’s Day weekend with low expectations. I just wanted a regular day with our family, even if it meant tears, diapers and interruptions.

I did get a weekend with my husband and kids. It was lovely. And real.

There were certainly some less-than-desirable interruptions – including a 2-year-old who pooped in the tub (while both kids and all their toys were in it and daddy was outside mowing the lawn. Oh, how I love bleach!), a bloody nose to rival all others, a few time outs and a whole lot of tears and boogers.

But, there were also amazing moments I would never trade, even for a spa day – rolling down a grassy hill with the kids, (yes, it made me dizzy but made them crack up so was worth it), giggles and joy at the Children’s Museum, fun playing a new game together, and silly kids playing dress up. We also enjoyed sweet gatherings with my mom and my husband’s mom.

My thoughtful husband and children topped-off the growler of iced coffee they left me on Friday with a gift card to a favorite shop and Monopoly Jr for our family to play together (We all know the brains behind that gift…Thank you, Seth).

I was already feeling very, very loved. 

In addition, our son made a few gifts for me. His sweet smile as he proudly told me what he made and how he made them is enough to make my heart puff up.

The hand-made gifts started with a cute picture made at preschool of a butterfly made from his hands. So sweet.

butterfly

The picture came attached to an interview of the preschool kids about their mamas. Below are our son’s answers but all of the kids answers were hysterical.

  • What does your mother do? “She cleans the floor, vacuums and does laundry and helps me clean my room” – PS my house is not that clean…
  • What is your favorite food she cooks for you? “Oatmeal” – yep. Every day.
  • What does your mom look like? ” She has long legs, long hair and not very long arms” – hehe…can you picture it?

Then he made a cup of paper flowers at Sunday School and presented them to me. This all seems like a showering of love, right? My heart was already plenty full. 

Then Sunday afternoon we went to my mom’s to celebrate Mother’s Day and I was surprised by yet another gift from our son. Intrigued, I opened it.

Priceless treasures.

He painted two pictures on canvas when he was at my mom’s house and kept it a secret for several weeks! Impressive for a 4 1/2 year old. Not only did he keep the secret, look at these…they are amazing!

The first he called “Volcano with flowers” – pronounced by him as “o-cano with flowers”.

You won’t believe how he did this! He mixed all the paint colors together and used a paint brush to make the volcano. Then, he stamped the flowers using the bottom of a plastic cup. He used a large Q-tip to make the center spots. He used a knife to draw the stems and leaves with green paint. Check it out:

Volcano and Flowers

Speechless.

His second painting is Birch Trees. He made the tree outlines using masking tape. My mom said she helped him tear the small pieces for the branches but he stuck everything on himself. He used a paper towel dipped in paint to make the grass and sky background. When dry, they removed the tape and used a large Q-tip to add the brown to the trees and a knife dipped in black paint to finish it off.

Birch Trees

My mom has assured me that she gave him instructions but he painted these himself. I think we can all agree she is an amazing teacher (and grandma). Thank you Aiden and Grandma Pam.

Not only did I have a great Mother’s Day, but a whole weekend. Topped off by hand-made and thoughtful gifts I will treasure always.

Thank you all.  My heart is as full as it can be. One more smile. One more kiss…it just might make it burst.

There’s only one way I can think of to end this…”Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

What I Really Want For Mother’s Day – A Life Interrupted

This morning, like every morning, I came downstairs, with two frantic-for-breakfast kids in my wake. The view upon opening the fridge stopped me in my tracks.

There, on the middle shelf was a beautiful sight – a growler of dark roasted coffee, cold pressed for 24 hours. A full jug of coffee goodness. Even better, on it, a handwritten note from my husband proclaiming, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.

grolwer

Yes, my friends, this man is a keeper.

Today, as you know as you read this, is Friday. It is not Mother’s Day.

Delighted and excited to try some, I first did what mothers do – I made the kids breakfast and made sure they had water and anything they might need from me before trying to pour myself a cup.

This coffee is every bit as wonderful as you might think it is. Dark. Strong. And, unlike my normal morning coffee with the kids, I don’t have to worry about it getting cold.

It is intentionally, delightfully cold. Delicious.

That man is my hero.

Last night, before bed, I read a ScaryMommy blog post, titled “What Moms REALLY Mean When They Say “I Don’t Want Anything for Mother’s Day” that made me crack up.

Out loud.

By myself.

Yes, I do that a lot since I am a heavy mom-blog consumer and some of you are incredible blogging comedians.

This morning, watching our kids and drinking fantastic coffee, I was struck by what I really want for Mother’s Day and how appropriate it is to wake up to a Mother’s Day gift during a standard week day.

What I really want is not what I originally thought. Last night, I agreed with ScaryMommy and thought I wanted an uninterrupted day.

But I don’t. I think if I have an uninterrupted Mother’s Day, I will miss what makes me love being a mom. Mother’s Day isn’t about being served, thanked, showered with gifts, or praised. Mother’s Day is about being a mom, and being a mom means a life of interruption, both good and bad.

Although I sometimes complain about the lack of sleep, cranky or tired kids, or how I want to go to the bathroom in peace, even those moments bring a fullness and joy to life I can’t do without. You see, un-interrupted sleep means missing a chance to snuggle and comfort a child who is too busy to snuggle during the day. An extra long shower means I might miss something they may never do again.

It is true that being a mom means I don’t have as much time for myself as I used to, but who needs all that self-reflection and pampering anyway? What I did before kids was waste a lot of time and hot water.

I may have quick showers, less sleep and have to answer the question ‘why?’ in one morning more than any person should in a lifetime, but I also have priceless, funny, sweet, and sometimes messy (or stressful) moments with two incredible little people.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with our kids. They change me for the better, every single day, whether I like it or not.

Truly, Mother’s Day is better spent on a day like today, without a big family gathering or special meal. I don’t really like to be the center of attention anyway – it makes me feel awkward and weird. On the actual day, I am often distracted by events and our kids are usually off playing with cousins so I don’t see much of them until they are over-tired, crying and ready for bed.

I remember last year sarcastically thinking “happy mother’s day to me” as they screamed their way through bedtime baths, books and prayers – who could blame them? We had so much fun celebrating and playing, they were just plumb worn out!

Don’t get me wrong, the celebrations of moms are wonderful and important. All mothers, and those who love our children but may not be biological mothers are worth honoring. Absolutely spend time pampering the moms in your life this Mother’s Day.

But today, a regular Friday, is what being a mom is all about. Sure, we have bruises, time-outs, messes, and tears, but we also have life lessons learned, sweet sibling snuggles, playtime, curiosity, and all-out-hysterical-belly laughing.

What I really want for Mother’s Day, is a regular day with our kids – a day that wouldn’t be complete without interruption, grass stains, time-outs and dirty diapers (OK, I admit I could do without the diapers). While uninterrupted moments might be nice, I love them so much, I don’t want to spend the day with only the perfectly behaved portion of their day – I want all of it. Messy or not.

At a minimum, I thought this known sleep worshipper would at least want to sleep in. But really, I won’t. I will hear the rabble-rousing downstairs and know that I was missing moments with my family. I want to be there when my husband and kids are wrestling and they are giggling and tackling each other. I don’t want to miss it. Instead, I’ll use the day to reflect and be grateful for all parts of being a mom.

I will not trade it for even one day.

Today, a coffee growler made me feel loved, celebrated, grateful and well-caffeinated – a perfect combination on a not-so-perfect day.  The fact that it was given on a day that isn’t Mother’s Day makes it twice as appropriate and special. Thank you, Seth (and kids) – you know me so well.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to make a mom’s day special. Let the moms spend the day with the sweet kids who make them moms in the first place. The kids are the best gift a mom ever asked for anyway.

Even if they come with interruption and boogers.

Happy Mother’s Day!