#1 Reason I’m Giving My Kids Experience, Not Toy, Gifts

Have you seen that YouTube video Girl Moms vs. Boy Moms, where they paint this picture of what it is like to be a mom to a girl in a light that it’s all cupcakes and kitten licks, while being a boy mom is all chaos and mayhem?

To this I say poppycock!

I have three girls, a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 10-month-old. Every single one of them, including the baby, is like a hurricane (and I know hurricanes because I am from Florida).

In fact, this is what the older two girls’ room looked like this morning (I’m embarrassed to even reveal these pictures):

This isn’t even the worst I have seen it look, either. The “stuff” doesn’t stay in their room either. It seems to overflow throughout the rest of the house, which means I get to spend every night walking through the house picking up the items nobody else bothered to pick up and return to their rightful home.ย 

No More Toys

This, my fellow mamas, is the #1 reason I vow to not buy any more toys as gifts. This does not even include the 9lbs. (I wish I was exaggerating) of trash, toys, toy parts, books, cups, pieces to various games, arts and crafts pieces, and papers I cleaned out from behind and underneath their bunk bed.

Ridiculous.

I was so angry while I was cleaning out this mess. This is exactly the moment that I proclaimed no more.

On the way home from church last week, I had this exact conversation with my husband. I told him that our house is too small, they have too much crap, they don’t take care of the crap they have, and they don’t put away the stuff they have so NO MORE STUFF.

I told him that I think we should give them experiences instead. 

I would rather spend our money on taking them to the theater (our oldest has been asking about seeing The Nutcracker) or catching the Fancy Nancy live show that is in the area, or having them dine with their dolls at the American Doll Bistro.

I’d rather pay for an extra vacation each year.

I’d rather fill their calendar with even more free library programs than we already attend or pay for additional dance classes, soccer, or whatever the heck it is they want to do than to fill our house with even more stuff that nobody cleans up but me. 

I would rather deposit extra money into their college funds than spend one more dollar on stuff.

Educational Toys & Books

We have overflowing bookshelves of kids books. We have bins bursting at the seams with puzzles and educational toys and games.

At this point, we don’t need anymore. Plus, the two older ones, especially, have educational items in their kindergarten and preschool classes.

PLUS, we can borrow and return most of these items from the library!

This, this, and this are all the reasons why I am choosing to just say no. In the eyes of my kids, this probably makes me “the worst mom ever” but I can live with that. In the long run, they’re not going to remember or benefit from all of the stuff they have.

The experiences they have, however, they will remember for a LONG time. 

What about you, Mamas? How do you feel about toys and all of the stuff your kids own?

7 Steps to Create the Perfect 1st Birthday

I’m getting ready to plan my third 1st birthday party for my youngest daughter. Two have gone before her and as a former event planner (in my former single life in Miami), I tend to go a little crazy with it and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist (I know, there’s no such thing as perfection but tell that to my inner planner.).

I write this post as much as a reminder for myself as to share with you the steps to take to create as perfect of a birthday party as possible.

Step #1 Pick A Theme

Whether it’s a character theme, color theme or some other theme, picking a theme for the birthday party makes it easy peasy to plan E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. It’s sort of like homing in on a niche if you’re opening a business or writing a blog.

When you have a theme, it really narrows down the options for all of the party items you need and want for the party. For example, if you’re having a pink and gold theme, you automatically know that you need pink and gold decorations.

If you’re having an outdoor picnic/BBQ theme then picking foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and watermelon is easy.

The theme for my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday was a ladybug theme.

For my second daughter, it was a pink poodle theme.

I’m still working on the third daughter’s theme but I better work quick because her 1st birthday is two months away:)

This might lead you to the question, “How do I choose a theme?” I admit I spent hundreds of hours in Pinterest-land coming up with ideas for themes and then for the ways to pull the theme off.

In the end, though, the themes came to me rather simply. My oldest daughter is Kate but we called her Katie Bug the Ladybug when she was little — hence, the ladybug theme. We also call her (still) Kate the Great so we easily could have pulled off a superhero theme, too.

I sang a song to my second daughter, Audrey Grace has a pretty face, to the tune of the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace (changing the words to fit a baby and a blue-eyed girl instead of a brown-eyed girl) so it was natural to have a 1950’s sock hop pink poodle theme.

I can’t say I am having the same luck with my third. I do sing Emmy Anne to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s Get it Girl. Probably, not appropriate for a party theme, though ๐Ÿ™‚

Step #2 Pick a Date

This may sound so like duh to you. Of course you have to pick a date for the party but it can be a tiny bit more complex than you think. You have to consider holidays and long weekends or dates that might be out of the question for your invited guests.

If you’re planning to have the party at a place or venue, you have to pick a date that the location is available. Even if you’re having it at home, you have to pick a date when you can have your home guest-worthy.

For all of these reasons and more, pick a couple of dates. If your first choice is booked at the venue you want, go to your back-up date.

Step #3 Pick a Place

You really have to have a theme and a date in place in order to move on to all of the other steps of planning a 1st birthday party. The next big decision is to nail down the location. If you’re hosting the party at home, then it’s not a problem to quickly move on to the next steps.

If you’re booking a venue, then you have to locate the one you want that can hold the number of guests you’re expecting and that is available for your party date. Usually, the venue also needs to fit into your budget.

Step #4 Order + Send Invitations

For the 1st birthday, I still send pretty/fun/festive hard-copy invitations. (Subsequent birthdays get Punch Bowl invitations.) I chose shops on Etsy that provided custom invitations (and party supplies like decorations) that fit my theme.

Step #5 Plan the Menu

I always try to coordinate the food and snack items with the theme. So for the ladybug theme, I served red and black snacks and candies. We also served hot dogs and hamburgers, which did not necessarily fall into that category.

Same was true for the pink poodle party theme. We served hot dogs on an old-time hot dog roaster (50s-style), popcorn, along with pink and white candies and sweets.

Step #6 Decide on Decor

So far, we have had 1st birthday parties at our home. For my oldest daughter, we rented some tables and chairs and black and red table covers. I bought a banner, hanging decorations, and wall decor from Etsy. I bought ladybug paper plates and cups, along with red and black utensils from an online party store that had a ladybug pattern I liked better than the local party store.

My sister-in-law is such a good sport so if I forward her the files, she prints the decorations and cuts them, assembles them — the whole shebang! Some Etsy sellers offer downloads so you can do this yourself or they will ship you the finished products.

Audrey, of course, had pink poodle decor, favors, etc. As you can see in the picture, we also did chalkboard signs. We also opted for favors so this is something to consider when you’re ordering/buying the supplies you need and want.

 

Step #7 Order a Cake (Don’t Forget the Smash Cake)

For the 1st birthday, we always go big or go home when it comes to the cake. Kate and Audrey both had a two-tier cake. Both also had a smash cake that was all their own.

 

Go forth and party ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll keep you posted on the baby’s 1st birthday party, which theme I end up choosing, and how it all turns out. She turned 10 months yesterday and I think she’s super excited that there is cake in her near future!

7 Reasons to Say Yes to Sun Basket: Meal Prep Service Review

I remember before I had kids, I really enjoyed cooking and baking. I still do to some extent but it’s a lot harder to get it all done when one or more little people are hanging from your leg, begging you to pick them up, or asking for this or that.

That’s not even to mention the grocery shopping involved. You’ve probably tried to shop with one or more kids with you so you know what I mean. I’ll leave that for another day (or post).

Because my family loves to eat, I decided to give one of the meal prep services a try. While it doesn’t cut out the meal prep/cooking part, it certainly makes it a lot easier in some ways. I decided to try Sun Basket and here’s what I think.

The Good

First, I loved that I could get $40 off. Yes! I’m a huge fan of saving money so when a friend offered me $40 off by using their referral link, I jumped at the chance. (By the way, you can get $40 off too.)

I found choosing from the menu options extremely easy. They offer different options each week so you definitely don’t have to worry about finding meals you and your family will actually eat and you don’t have to worry about repeating menu options too often.

Delivery is prompt. You can choose the day of the week for your delivery. I chose Monday because that’s when I typically shop for our weekly groceries. My order arrived on my doorstep Monday afternoon.

The food is delicious. My husband loved it so much, he offered to go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients so we can make the meals again (I know. Ah-mazing, right?). Even my picky girls (Not the baby. She eats almost anything.) loved it!

I found the pricing with and without my coupon to be reasonable when considering it as a replacement for eating out. With my discount, it put each meal for 4 (the baby doesn’t really count) at around the $34 mark. Going forward, it puts each meal closer to $50 each. Still considerably cheaper than eating out (and in some cases the food is better than what you get at a restaurant).

Most of the ingredients come in cute little measured out and labeled containers and packaging. I even re-use the little containers for my girls’ lunches and snacks for school.

Finally, everything is fresh, organic, and healthy so that’s another big plus for me and my family.

The Bad

I opted for the quick-meal options. I didn’t find it to be quick. There was a considerable amount of peeling, chopping, mixing, and stirring. I wouldn’t say this is a deal breaker but quick and easy to me is throwing everything into the crockpot or one pan.

For all the recipes, I had to use more than one pot or pan. Some, I had to use the stove and the oven.

The Ugly

For me, the worst part about Sun Basket is the pricing. It’s definitely more expensive than other meal prep services. Without my coupon, it takes the price per meal to approximately $54. At this point, we can still eat out at a restaurant with all three of our girls in tow and spend near this amount (sometimes less, sometimes more).

On some occasions, it is worth eating out so that I don’t have to cook.

My Conclusion

Overall, I give Sun Basket an A. I definitely think there are more positives than negatives when it comes to using them as a meal prep service. I don’t know that I’ll do it on a weekly basis but it is certainly something I am likely to do one week per month.

If you’re interested in checking it out, now is the time because you can save $40 on your first delivery. After you try it, let me know what you think by sending me an emailย or leaving a comment below.

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