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Three Year Old Special Needs Holiday Gift Guide

I feel like a chimpanzee for posting Christmas content this early, but I asked on Instagram if you guys wanted to see these posts now, or after Thanksgiving, and 83% of the people said that they wanted to see the gift guides now. So I'm unapologetically sharing with you what we're getting our kids for Christmas this year now, rather than later. 

Shopping for special needs kids is so hard. I know that this list might not even hit the mark with your child and their needs, but these are the things that we're getting Em this year for Christmas based on her skills and what she can do. I'm really excited because I feel like since her birthday, I've really hit my stride with gift giving for her, and getting her things that she's excited to play with that are not incredibly underage and pathetic for her (something I struggled with for her first few birthday's and Christmases. 

1. Hungry Hungry Hippos: I know I mentioned this on Em's birthday present gift guide, but we actually didn't purchase it then, and are looking forward to getting it for her for Christmas. It's a game that doesn't involve a lot of logic, but it still develops hand skills which are important too!

2. Xylophone: We've been collecting instruments for our kids over the last couple years. Last year we got Em a tambourine and a triangle for Christmas and she really enjoyed playing with them, so I think she'll like adding this to her collection. 

3. Color Wonder Finger Paint: I've been a huge fan of Crayola Wonder products for years now. They make zero mess and are perfect for Em to play with. I'm excited to see how these finger paints work, and I know Jay will love playing with them too!

4. Bowling Set: We had a bowling set a couple years ago and got rid of it during one of our moves. I think this game will be great for Em since it's something that gets her up and moving, but that she can do on her knees or sitting. She can throw or roll the ball at the pins, and it's something else that her and Jay can do together. 

5. Playdough: Part of Em's homework for preschool is playing with playdough... so this is mostly to facilitate that, regardless of how I actually feel about playdough ;) 

6. Lift and Look Magnet Puzzles: We've never had these puzzles before, but I think Em will really love playing with it since it's so different from a normal puzzle. 

7. Press and Play Sensory Blocks: These blocks are awesome because it can help Em with learning how to stack, but since they're "bristle blocks" they add that sensory component to working with your hands. I like that they lock together so they don't fall easily, but Em can also work on hand strength by pulling them apart and putting them together repeatedly! 

8. Duplo Lego Set: This gift may backfire, but Em really loved playing with Duplos when we were with Derek's parents in Idaho last month. I thought it might be fun to get her a set of her very own. My only concern is her getting frustrated with assembling it the "right way", but even then, I think she'd like to play with them her own way too. 

If you need more special needs gift ideas for kids in the 3-5 age range see: What to get a Three-Year-Old Who Can't Walk 

14 Halloween Books For Kids

I have a confession to make. I may or may not have gotten my firs Scholastic book order sent home in Jay's folder from Kindergarten last week. The excitement over ordering books for my child for the first time may or may not have gotten the better of me. We may or may not have a large and obnoxious amount of Halloween books coming our way. I didn't even look, but they better all be getting here before Halloween or else I'm going to feel real real dumb. Anyways, here are some titles that we both own currently, and have coming our way soon! I hope this helps you with picking things out from the library as the holiday approaches. Also, I'd love you forever if you pinned this picture for me on Pinterest. Just saying. 

My Tips for Christmas Lists and Christmas Shopping

I know what you're thinking. Why is Paige talking about Christmas before Halloween? I know. I cringe when I see all the holiday decor out this time of year too, I really do. But this post is more from a financial standpoint and I have a few tips that I want to share with you now, so that you can have the most effective holiday possible in terms of shopping and planning. If you have any additional tips, tricks, and good ideas, leave them in the comments below so other people can learn from you too!

My number one tip is to always be "shopping" but not always spending. My kids are still at the age where they don't really give "Christmas Lists". There might be one or two things they actually want, but Derek and I are still doing a majority of the choosing ourselves. So starting around this time of the year, I'm looking online for what the new toys are this Christmas, and browsing freebies2deals.com daily for awesome deals on things I think my kids will love. We typically only do about 5 gifts each for the kids for Christmas, so once I find 5 awesome deals on things they'll love, my shopping is done. 

Since my kids don't give lists still, I think back to what toys they loved playing with at friends houses, or with cousins. When we were with my in-laws in Idaho for a couple weeks last month, Jay loved playing Guess Who with his cousins and grandparents. So that's something that I'm going to be keeping my eye out for while shopping this year. Jay is also crazy about legos, so chances are, he's going to be getting one of these $6 lego sets from Walmart.

And if there is a soap box that I have for Christmas, it's this: just because a toy is popular isn't a good enough reason to buy it. I mostly started having this thought last year when Hatchimals became such a huge thing. No offense to anyone who actually bought one, but I don't see the thrill. You spend $60 for a Furby to crack through an egg, but the egg is only a one time thing. So then your left with a talking stuff animal that will drive you crazy for six months until the batteries die. I would much rather spend that money on something like a new bike, an indoor trampoline, or a fun adventure to a children's museum or the zoo. 

On the same note, who else is disappointed every year when your husband gets you an awful gift for Christmas, but you didn't really know what you wanted either? Gift giving used to be so stressful for Derek and I because Derek would just want to get me something expensive, but then I wouldn't like what he got. Last year I started this thing where throughout the year, if I found something that I liked online, I would just email him the link to said item, and then by the time Christmas got here, he had a running list from the entire year of about 20 different things I'd like. Then he'd pick a few things to buy, and it was still a surprise because I didn't know which things he would actually pick. Last year wound up being the best Christmas (except for our first year married when he got me my first DSLR!) because things were still a surprise, but they were things that I liked! Now if I could get Derek to do the same thing for me, my life would be even easier. 

Pumpkin Roll with Chocolate Ganache

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All thought and opinions are my own. #ReddiForFall #CollectiveBias

The fall is my favorite time of year to bring treats to neighbors, have people over to our house for dinner, and obviously cook all the big and hearty meals (I'm looking at you Thanksgiving!). When I'm cooking a large meal for someone, I typically want to do it all on my own so that the guests can relax and not worry about things, but when I do make everything on my own, there are a few shortcuts that I like to take.

One quick and easy shortcut is dessert. Walmart has so many great fall themed desserts available this time of year,  and my favorite is The Bakery at Walmart Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting. It's super moist and has just the right amount of pumpkin flavor, and is filled with a cream cheese frosting that's out of this world.
Hover over the image above to shop these products. 

If I'm getting a store bought dessert, I like to make it my own somehow. In this case I topped it with some nice chilled Reddi-wip®, and then topped it with a drizzle of homemade chocolate ganache. Ganache seems like such a hard and complicated thing to do, but it's really so so easy. All you do is heat up some heavy cream, vanilla, butter, and salt in a saucepan until everything is warmed all the way through. Then you put some chocolate chips in a mixing bowl, and pour the heavy cream mixture on top, and then you just stir it up until all the chocolate is melted and everything is blended together evenly. It's so easy, but makes such a huge impact on a dessert. 

12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 c heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

In a pot on medium heat, whisk the heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and salt together until completely heated through. Pour the chocolate chips into a mixing bowl, and then pour the warm heavy cream mixture on top. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and well combined. Then drizzled as desired on your pumpkin roll!

What is your favorite way to dress up a pumpkin roll from Walmart? Let me know in the comments below!

My Go-To Acai Bowl

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias Inc, and it's advertiser. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #PrizesWithPost #CerealAnytime #CollectiveBias

If there is a stand out theme to me for 2017, it's that I've strived really hard to make healthier choices and to simplify my life. This post isn't necessarily about the later at all, but it definitely has to do with healthier choices.

I've been awful at eating breakfast for as long as I can remember. Derek and the kids are so good about having some cereal and fruit in the morning, but I can only do that for so long, and then I get super bored of it. If I'm going to eat breakfast in the morning, it needs to be something fun that I've been thinking about and anticipating all night long.

One of my very favorite things to have in the morning (or lunch, or dessert after dinner!) are acai bowls! I love how flavorful and amazing they are, but how they can constantly be changed up a little bit every day depending on what you use for your toppings.

Making Acai bowls really isn't very hard. All you do is blend two frozen Acai packets (found in the frozen fruit section at Walmart), with one banana and then pour it into your bowl! From there you add your toppings of choice. My go-to is chia seeds, shredded coconut, strawberries, and Post's Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.

Post consumer brands has something for everyone in the family. I love Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds because I feel like it gives my morning that good hearty crunch factor that I'm looking for, but there is also nothing better than curling up on the couch with a bowl of Honey Comb and playing a video game on something like the Nintendo Switch.

Post is now partnering with with Nintendo Switch to give your life some extra fun! Make sure to pair game time with a delicious serving of Post cereals, or a unique recipe like this one. You could instantly win 1 of 500 Nintendo Switch Prize packs! Simply head on over to the Post site here to enter.

1 banana
2 3.5oz Frozen Acai Packets
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp shredded coconut
2 strawberries sliced
1/4 c Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds

In a blender or food processor, blend the banana and the Acai together. You may need to run the Acai packet under warm water for a minute or two to soften it a little so it blends easier.

Once your Acai is made, top your Acai bowl with the remaining ingredients and enjoy!


When is your favorite time to munch on Post cereal? I'd love to know your go-to variety in the comments below!

Our Morning Breakfast Routine

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the Coca-Cola Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #NourishOnTheGo #CollectiveBias

School mornings are a little hectic around here now. Despite the fact that school starts at the same time here as it did in Georgia, I now have two kids in school instead of one, so it naturally just doubles the chaos. My goal is to be awake by 7:30 so that I can get myself ready in the morning, and then have the kids up by 8am so I can get them dressed, fed, and out the door by 8:35 to get to school. 

One part of our routine that I have down pat is breakfast. I don't like to overcomplicate things at all so I usually just stick to a one carb, one fruit, and one smoothie rule that I've made up. The kids will typically have something like a frozen waffle, a muffin, or some cereal for the main bulk of their meal, and then we typically pair it with some fresh fruit to give a little boost of nutrients. 

My kid's haven't always loved smoothies, but I recently started adding in the Odwalla Fruit Smoothies into our morning routine, and the kids haven't had any complaints. Em will usually eat anything you put in front of her, but Jay, being my more picky child, took to them right away. Odwalla Fruit Smoothies are simply great-tasting nutrition made with high-quality Non GMO ingredients. 

My favorite flavors have been the Odwalla Original Superfood and Blueberry Monster fruit smoothies, but they have so many different flavors and varieties of 100% fruit juice, smoothies, and almondmilk shakes that I've been anxiously waiting to try them for all my on-the-go busy school morning needs. 

I picked up my Odwalla at Albertsons but you can find them in most places where Coca-Cola products are sold. Plus, right now you can Save $1 on your next purchase of in-store fresh cut fruit when you buy any TWO (2) Odwalla 15.2 fl. oz. (You'll receive a print out coupon at the register.). Offer ends 10/31/2017.

What are your hacks for busy school mornings? Are you an Odwalla Fruit Smoothie fan? Let me know your favorite flavors in the comments below!

The Stray Movie Premier & Review

I'm not really the blogger who gets a ton of amazing and awesome opportunities to go to crazy events all the time. It's not really my style, and to be honest, I've become a lot more introverted over the last few years than I used to be. When we moved to Utah though I joked with Derek that I'm going to need to get over that because there's going to be a lot more events for me to go to when we move, since Utah is such a major blogging hub.

Sure enough, two weeks into living here, and I got invited to attend the world premier of the movie, The Stray at the Megaplex in Sandy, UT last week. It was such a fun event, getting to meet the cast from the movie, and then getting to preview the film early with a ton of other influencers. It was totally out of my comfort zone, but so fun, and I'm so glad that I went. 

The movie The Stray, is about a young boy who doesn't have many friends at school, and one day finds himself approached by a stray who is mom and dad let him keep. The dog in a lot of ways truly becomes his best friend, and helps not only the boy, but his entire family as they go through some struggles and major life changes. 

The movie was directed by the same director of The Other Side of Heaven, and Heaven Is For Real, and like those movies, it is based off a true story. It's an amazing feel good family film for the entire family, and I highly recommend that you go and see it if you haven't already! I can already tell this is going to be one of the movies that I run out to purchase when it becomes available! If you haven't seen the trailer yet, watch it below, and then grab some tickets to see it with your family!