The Perks of Being the Youngest

I remember when my older brother and I were in school, my younger brother telling us the things he got to do while we were in school. He got to go to lunch with my parents or he got candy from my dad's receptionist when he visited my dad at work. I am sure my parents heard "that's not fair!" more than they ever wanted to. But now I'm learning, there's perks of being the youngest...and there's perks for me still being that the youngest cannot yet form a sentence!

The other day, while Connor and Isla were at school, I decided to throw away their gingerbread house. Then I decided I should offer it to Callum and see what he does. The kid lit up as soon as he realized I wasn't playing a sick joke on him. He was seriously ecstatic. He went to town on that thing, until I finally had to pry it out of his sticky little hands.

It's one of those memories I want to remember forever because he was just so excited. It was bliss, pure bliss. His joy about something as simple as getting to go to town on a gingerbread house was palatable.

And given that Callum can't quite talk yet and the kids haven't even noticed their gingerbread house is missing, no one is none the wiser.

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A Children's Gift Guide So You Don't Just Have To Randomly Pick Something Off The Shelf At The Store

I have learned over the years, I like things for my kids that are either useful or toys that can spur on imaginative play. Here is a list of things we either have and love or are wishing for. It covers a wide range of gift ideas for kids all the way up to age 10. These presents are all over the price spectrum, many of them very budget friendly. 

Books are always a good idea. Perhaps The Watermelon Seed board book or Little Dinos Don't Bite for the little one in your life. 
How To Train A Train or Diary of A Fly for the slightly older one. 
And Nancy Clancy, Captain Underpants or Diary of A Wimpy Kid for the older reader. 

In fact, Captain Underpants the movie will make the whole family laugh. 
So will classics like Home Alone and Ernest Goes to Camp

Wood toys are timeless.

What kid doesn't want to make their own candy?
This diy charm bracelet kit was a favorite of Isla's. 

This cash register is a huge hit in our home. 
Melissa & Doug dress up outfits are awesome too. 
This cleaning set is played with by my kids and their friends all the time. 
This astronaut helmet is a favorite in our home. 

What baby wouldn't look cute in this beanie?
And what mom wouldn't be happy if her kid was gifted a pair of hunter rain boots?

Playhouses, especially ones that easily come apart for storage, are always a good idea. 
As are outdoor ones.

How about a fun sleep suit for the little girl in your life?

How about a magnetic dartboard for the older kid in your life?
And let us not forget fidget cubes. Those are all the rage right now.

Or even something for their room, like a cool nightlight.
Or perhaps a safe for their prized posessions. 
Or even a comfy bean bag chair

Craft items are always a win. This paper roll is cheap and cool. 
And these dot paints are fun. 

If you are going for something unique, a venus fly trap is sure to intrigue them.

And if all else fails, games are always a winner and the classics are still a big hit - monopoly, battleship and scrabble junior. 

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It's Still Fall

Fall doesn't end until December 20th. But it seems like most people skipped fall this year. As soon as halloween was over, everyone switched to christmas. So many people I know decorated their homes for christmas as soon as November hit. I even saw trees lighting up some windows on my street. It's kind of crazy.

But fall is still here. And since we have gotten almost no rain, all the leaves are still so beautiful and crunchy. They are fun to walk in. They are fun to play long as one knows for certain it's a clean leaf pile. Yeah, we learned that one first hand a couple weeks ago. Dog poop and kids...YUCK! 

Callum absolutely loves leaves. Like LOVES them. Every time he sees even just a few, he grabs them and throws them in the air. It is really quite cute. Plus, we have taken to running the stroller through all the leaf piles on the way to school. All the kids laugh...and all my neighbors are probably looking at me through their windows with scorn on their faces for messing up their leaf piles. Oh well, you only live once, so I may as well mess up some leaf piles for fun.

Now don't get me wrong, I love me some christmas. I even decorated our house the day after thanksgiving. But, I also have an adorable December baby and it really seems that christmas can't arrive until after his birthday has been celebrated. This little guy will be two come Saturday, and once he is properly celebrated, let the christmas festivities commence!

Even then, you will still see me running through all the leaf piles, much to the distain of my neighbors.

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A christmas gift guide with more than just candles and scented lotions

I tend to not like buying gifts unless I think they are cool. I literally find it pointless to give a gift unless it is something someone would truly enjoy. Giving something just to give something isn't my style. But sometimes it is hard to come up with the perfect gift that just screams that person's name. The next best thing? Something unique or practical. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

A Stendig calendar for the hipster in your life. 
Or a modern picture calendar for the grandparent in your life. 

Or this shirt for the adventurer in your life. 

A cool pour over for the coffee snob in your life. 
Or just a bag of coffee from your local coffee roaster for the person that likes to support small and local. 

A scratch map for the world traveler in your life.
Or a national parks poster. It's a fun piece for anyone's wall.

An inspirational book for anyone in your life that needs to take a moment to breathe.
Or an easy to make photo book for just about anyone, though I think moms and grandparents love them the most. 

Handmade body frosting for the woman in your life...I know I said no scented lotions, but this stuff is amazing. 
All natural face wash for the crunchy lady in your life. 

A house plant for the introvert in your life...because we totally dig house plants over people. #itsthetruth
Or a fake house plant for the person that can't keep the real ones alive. 

A bead subscription to your favorite local bread maker for the foodie in your life. 
Or perhaps just a few bars of chocolate, because who doesn't like chocolate?!

And for those that do like their house smelling good, this room spray is just so good. 

So, do you have any gift ideas you would like to share? I am always looking for something new and unique to give and would love to hear. 

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Isla's Thanksgiving Performance

Isla had her thanksgiving performance at school this past week. It is something only the kindergartners do. And it is the type of thing I totally eat up. They sang a few song, with hand motions of course. Isla was quite animated with it, specially the fat turkey part. She was also on the end, so literally turned and did her performance directly toward us the whole time. At one point, she also tried forcing the boy next to her to participate in the hand motions because he was just standing there...haha! It was a really cute little performance and she was totally jazzed about it.

^^ That moment when you see your mom and dad in the crowd...not that we were that hard to miss, with an uncooperative toddler in tow. 

^^ Performing just for us

^^ The fat turkey line

^^ One of her two new signature picture poses. The other one is a curtsey in which she does not look at the camera while doing it. 

^^ Isla and her buddy Pierson in what may be my favorite picture ever. Callum loves him just as much as Isla does. 

You guys, I seriously love kindergarten. It is such a sweet age. Also, there is a camaraderie among both the kids and the parents at this age. I don't know if it's the kindergarten only playground or what, but I really like it. All the kids play. The parents are more friendly, wanting to do play dates and there is even a once a week park date for the whole class after school. And it's not just Isla's class because it was the same way when Connor was in kindergarten. Maybe it's the age? Or that everyone isn't jaded with school yet? Or that it's half days? Who really knows, but I do know that I like it. 

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The 5th Annual Christmas Card Challenge

By this point, it should be well known among folks that I LOVE Christmas cards. Well, really just any holiday cards. Because even the new year's card we got at almost the end of January a couple years ago put a smile on my face! I love sending and receiving cards. I love displaying cards and notes from friends and family near and far. I love hearing how people are doing and watching their families grow and expand. This is the reason I started my Christmas card challenge. Well that and to add a little more fun into the season.

The categories still remain the same:

    * first card to arrive
    * best handwritten note
    * best photo(s)
    * best update
    * best overall

The first card to arrive category is still open for the taking folks. The last two years, it actually went to the same person. But as of now, it's an open spot for the taking!

Still in the spirit of supporting my hubby (and supporting a local small business!), I will be giving out a bag of Bean Counter Coffee Roasters coffee to the winner. How it works is, after Christmas, I will choose a winner from each category, then use a random number generator to pick the winner.

If you want to join in the fun, but don't have my address, feel free to email me at jgrimbleby(at) and I will tell you where to send it. And if you are looking for some inspiration, here are the winners in years past - 201620152014 and 2013. I will say, I still love the trend of doing little updates of each kid on the back of the card. Witty updates are also my jam. As are funny pictures and outtakes. So now you have an inside scoop. 

Now get out there and work on your cards! Black friday weekend into cyber Monday is always a great time to score amazing deals on cards and is usually when I order them every year because you can find them so cheap. 

I can't wait to start hanging your cards in my house! 

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Connor's birthday party

We had Connor's birthday party on his birthday at Rockin Jump. It was his choice. And I have to admit, walking away from the mess made me feel like it was a good choice! It really was a good party and a good group of kids and Connor said it was the best night of his life, so I would call that a huge win. We practically had the place to ourselves. No joke, there were only three other people there and they were only there for part of the party. It made it perfect for the kids to be able to run and do what they wanted. It also made it perfect that we could let Callum jump without really having to supervise him (I mean right on the trampolines with him, obviously we were standing close watching), since it was so empty. 

After an hour of jumping and playing, we headed to the party room. Everyone ate pizza, then finished off with cupcakes. Just like myself, Connor doesn't exactly like being sung happy birthday to, but he handled it like a champ. When it came time to presents, all the kids were literally huddled around Connor. Like huddled so tight the parents couldn't even watch. It was the year of the nerf gun and Connor got six. He was thrilled and proceeded to test them all out in our backyard the next day. 

After presents, it was time to pack up and head home. Of course, by this time, it was bath time for all three of my sweaty tired children! It was a really good time celebrating Connor. 

^^ His party doing a dodgeball game together

^^ All the kids from the party. Notice Callum over on the side. He couldn't be bothered to stop jumping for a photo! 

And just like that, the boy who made me a mom is eight. He was celebrated at school with doughnuts on his birthday and his party was that evening. So his birthday was definitely one jam packed with celebration.

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