Board Game Gift Guide Ages 3-6

Thursday, December 1, 2016

If you're anything like our family, you like playing board games, but your board game collection is pretty weak. When it comes to adult games, we have about four that we really love, but as far as Jay and Em are concerned we only have about three games that work well for them: Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Monster's Inc Life. If you're anything like me, you also think Chutes and Ladders is the most terrible never ending game ever, and you've played Candy Land so many times it's basically lost it's appeal. If you're in the market for new games this Christmas, here are 10 suggestions that might save your sanity. 

1. Sleeping Queens: In this card game,  it's all about playing knights, stealing queens, and avoiding potions and dangerous dragons. The box says ages 8+ but I think you could easily gear it down to younger audiences as well.

2. Boom Boom Balloon: In this game of suspense, a balloon is placed in the middle of a sphere, and you have to push sticks into the balloon, alternating turns until it pops. It's super fun!

3. Pie Face: In this game, you place whipped cream on a plastic plate, and then you alternate turns with your opponent cranking the dial until eventually, one of you get pied in the face. I think this is pretty hilarious, Derek doesn't.

4. Kerplunk: Balls are suspended up in the top part of the game by the sticks going through the middle of the tower. Each player alternates pulling the sticks out until eventually all the beads fall to the bottom!

5. Connect 4: It's a classic, but I think every family needs it!

6. Headbandz: Each player attaches a card to a head band that they wear and then they try to guess which card is on their head based upon the clues that the other players give them!

7. Enchanted Forest: "A magical treasure hunt game in the land of fairy tales", this game came highly beloved by one of my friends. 

8. Spot it: This is a card game where you draw to cards, each card has many different objects on it, and you have to spot which object is the same on both cards before the other player! There are many variations of this game too with shapes, letters, numbers etc... 

9. Zingo: Just like bingo, but instead of letters and numbers, you use pictures. It's fun for kids who are pre-readers! 

10. The Sneaky Snacky Squrielle: Your forest friends are hungry and they need your help! Help them find their acorns in this super cute and fun preschool games!

Which games do you love playing with your kids? Let me know in the comments below!


Em at 27 Months

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's been along time since I've done an update on Em over here. I said that I was going to stop doing monthly updates when we got to the point that progress wasn't happening on a monthly basis anymore, and that's basically what had happened  over the last four months. 

Probably the most frustrating thing we've experienced over the last 18 months is going to physical therapy each week, putting in all this effort at home, and feeling like all of our efforts have been in vain. Our therapist has always told us that she has no doubt that Em will walk one day, but she also told us that Em would be sitting over a year ago, and pulling to stand and crawling six months ago. And when those dates came and passed, and the progress never happened, it was hard. 

It wasn't hard in the since that I wanted her to do these things and she wasn't, honestly I would be fine if Em never walked. I accepted what her life would be and entail along time ago, so anything we get at this point is icing on the miracle cake. The hard part was our therapist telling us it was going to happen, and then never seeing it. I wanted to walk away from physical therapy and just be done with it and move on. 

Then, about a month ago, we were playing at the playground with some friends when Em sat for 15 minutes unsupported all on her own. Jay and his friends were running around on the big field next to the playground in our neighborhood, and Em and I were sitting on the top of the hill talking to other moms. The incline of the hill was just enough that Em was able to get her hips forward enough to actually sit, and she sat there all on her own and played in the grass. I was even able to run about 50 yards away to grab my phone and come back, and she was still fine. The feeling of joy that I felt was almost better than what I'd felt when she was born. 

Fast forward a few weeks later and I was feeling so defeated in parenting after Jay's primary program at church, that I'd said one of those "screaming, sobbing, pleading" prayers that night, and then demanded and told Heavenly Father that he in fact owed me a good week. Then that week Em stood up all on her own at physical therapy when we were in the waiting room waiting for a prescription for her gait trainer, and then when we were at the grocery store, she started standing up and sitting down all on her own in the shopping cart, and then she started talking and saying all of these new words, and then all of a sudden I kind of felt like a huge jerk for the angry pathetic prayer that I'd said just a few days earlier. But I know Heavenly Father does here even our most pathetic pleas, and gives us what we need, when we need it. 

Christmas Mantle Decor 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Christmas season is finally here, and I'm so excited to be spending our first Christmas together in our new house. It's been infinitely more fun getting ready for the holidays in a home that we'll be in for a while, and to be able to invest in pieces that fit the space, that we'll use for years, and years to come. 

One of my very favorite things about our mantle decor are our stockings. We ordered ours a few years ago from They were a bit of an investment at the time, but I remember specifically saving money for a couple months to get them, and they were totally worth it. They're super thick, durable, and will last for 20 years of Christmases. 

We didn't have a fireplace in our last house, so we hung our stockings on our bookshelf instead. Because of that, we bought these stocking holders at Target on clearance after Christmas 2014, and they've been a staple in our decor ever since. We're grateful to have them now, because the idea nailing holes into our fireplace seemed like a crime, so I'm glad we're able to avoid that idea all together. I do worry about Jay climbing up and pulling a stocking down and really hurting himself. But he seems to understand that he doesn't touch, and I'm hoping it stays that way.

This year when I was picking some things up at Target I saw that they had these white yarn wrapped trees for only $10. The wooden star on the top of one of them was broken off, so they gave me 10% off, and when I got home, I hot glued the star back on, and no one was any wiser. It makes me more willing to buy broken things in the future. 

I love adding green and floral touches to our decor all year long, so I decided to buy these glass bottles at Hobby Lobby on black Friday when everything was 1/2 off. I just painted them with silver metallic acrylic paint, baked them in the oven at 350 for one hour, stuck some holly in them, and I was good to go. 

I'm not very creative with replacing our mirror from season to season, so I try and just make all the decor work around it. I found this long green holly and pine cone garland at Hobby Lobby (also 1/2 off), draped  it across the top, and called our mantle complete. 

The rest of the items we need to decorate our house are coming this week, and I can't wait to share with you our entire living room when it's all done. We have a massive window in our living room, and last weekend I half kidding asked Derek if we could put a nine foot tree in front of it, and he said yes... so I'm real excited for that to come in the mail in just a few days. 

The Complete 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Kids 2-4, Technology, and His & Hers

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Now that we're in the middle of November, it's time to start seriously thinking about Christmas shopping, and knocking items off your list. It's usually so hard for me to come up with what to get the kids for Christmas, but this year, Jay made it easy on me by telling me exactly what he wanted. That, paired with amazing Grandparents who bought the kids tablets, my running Christmas wishlist that I've had since the summer, and a bunch of good ideas in my head for Derek, Christmas seems super easy this year, instead of stressful. Because I'm not the type of blogger to have a good idea, and then not share, here is what we're getting for our family this year for Christmas. Each list is broken into three sections: Toys for 2-4-year-olds, technology (with a couple "wish we were getting" items), and ideas for his and hers. 

Crayola Wonder Coloring Pages and Markers: Em's OT told me about this, and then I randomly worked on a campaign with Crayola a week later for Color Wonder, and I'm completely sold now. Em loves coloring and playing with markers, and I love that these markers only work on the Crayola Wonder paper, which means I'll never have to wash marker off of Em's face again (hopefully).

Watches: One of Jay's wish list items this year was a watch, and since Em is obsessed with them too, and wants whatever Jay has, we're getting one for her too. I found these fun kid ones on Amazon, and I love that they have some for every kid's personality. 

Treasure Chest: Another wishlist item for Jay. It's cheap, and small, which were my only requirements. 

Fire Truck: Jay's last wishlist item. He mentioned wanting a fire truck, and I figured it was my duty as a mom of a four-year-old boy to make it happen. 

Ikea Games: Did you guys know Ikea has a ton of different card and board games for dirt cheap? I definitely want to get this set that has all the classics for $12, and this fun spin on Jenga. 

Kitchen Set with Food: Em is finally old and strong enough to stand and play with a toy kitchen, and Jay has loved toy kitchens for ages now, so we're getting them this one from Ikea as their big combined gift this year. The kitchen itself is $99, but the food, pots and pans, and utensils are all really cheap too!

HP Sprocket: HP Sprocket is the fun, new portable printer that lets you instantly create 2x3 inch stickable snapshots straight from your smartphone or tablet so you can share them with friends and loved ones! The app is intuitive and from the first screen you can snap a photo, or select a photo from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr or your camera roll. Print your photo or have fun adding frames, stickers, filters and/or text. Sprocket fits in your pocket so take the fun with you to print on-the-go photos! Available at, Amazon and Best Buy. Don't forget to get the ZINK sticky-backed photo paper to go along with it!

HP 15 Notebook PC: The HP 15 Notebook comes with Windows 10 Home, high-definition display, AMD Radeon R5 graphics, HP TrueVision HD Camera, DTS Studio sound and much more. Best of all, HP Has partnered with QVC to offer two exclusive colors; minty green and soft lilac, and will feature this laptop at the lowest price of the season on Saturday, November 26th.

Kindle Fire for Kids: When grandma texts you and asks if it's okay to get your child a Kindle for Christmas, you just say yes (if you're into that kind of thing). I'm excited to be able to incorporate this into Jay's homeshcool work, and for us to be able to read the kindle versions of children's books in color on it. I think it's going to be a learning curve trying to manage screen time, but I think it's good to get those rules in place at a younger age too. 

Nabi Jr. Tablet: When grandma asked what Em would want, Derek and I both agreed she'd probably be pretty jealous of Jay's kindle, so she got this cheaper, more age appropriate one for Em. I'm excited to work on some of the educational games with her, and see how fast she picks up on it. It's also going to be a lifesaver when we have to go to Jay's art classes to have something else to try and occupy her with. 

Socks: Now that Derek has a big boy job and has to dress up everyday, he's starting to get into having fun socks to spice his wardrobe up a little bit. I found this 4-pack of socks at Kohl's, and I love that all the designs are fun, but subtle enough that Derek will still wear them. 

Rechargeable Phone Battery: Derek's battery is constantly dying since his phone is always trying to get service while he's at work. I figured it was probably a good time to pull the trigger and get him a battery extender so his phone doesn't die on the way home anymore. 

Ties: Such a cop out gift, but Derek really does like getting ties. He doesn't have any fun Christmas ones though, so I figured this would be perfect for Church on Christmas morning this year. 

A Miter Saw: We had friends give us their laminate wood floors from their house when they got all new hardwood, so we'll be installing it in our kitchen in the next little while. He'll need a saw to cut the pieces, so I figured it was time to make our first power tool purchase. If you have big house projects coming up, this might be a good time to get some of those big ticket tool items you may need. 

An Immersion Blender: I've been wanting one for years now... maybe this will finally be my year? 

A New Planner: I love and live by my planner on a daily basis. If it's not in my planner, it's likely not happening. I recently discovered these ones at Michael's a few weeks ago, and they're my new go-to! How gorgeous is that floral print? Be sure to bring a 1/2 off coupon with you to Michael's so you don't pay full price!

A Gold Bar Necklace: I've been loving more minimal jewelry lately, instead of big statement necklaces, and I really love gold bar necklaces. I've been wanting to get one with Derek and the kid's first initials engraved on it for ages now, so I'm hoping to find one of these under the tree for me these year. 

bareMinerals barePRO Foundation with Brush: I've been wanting to try a powder foundation for a while now, and this one came out recently and  I really want to try it. QVC is selling it with the foundation and brush together for $47, and you'd pay $60 for both through so if you're wanting it too, get it through QVC. And Derek, if you're reading this, I'm shade Dawn 02. 

This post was sponsored on behalf of HP and QVC, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you're in the market for a new HP 15 Notebook PC, be sure to purchase it on November 26th at it's lowest price of the season. Thank you so supporting the brands that make this blog possible. 

An Em Update| Perineal Pyramidal Protrusion

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I first feel like I need to say a big warm thank you to everyone and their sweet comments on my last child update, and on Sunday night's instagram post. I often feel way in over my head with this entire parenting world, but I'm so grateful for a loving community of people who read this blog, and share their love and support for our family. It really means the world to me. 

A couple weeks ago we went to the dermatologist for Em and her skin growth that she has in her diaper area. The dermatologist agreed that it needed to come off, but that she wasn't anxious to do it anytime soon, and then she told us to come back in January. She also took a picture and measured it to make sure it didn't get any worse. 

We went home thinking all was fine until yesterday when I got a voicemail from the dermatologist saying that they had, "an update on Em's condition", and to call them back soon to discuss the next steps. I obviously went straight to freaking out, and thought that they were going to tell me that she was in fact growing a male anatomy, and that we were going to have to decide if we wanted her to be a boy or a girl (I realize I'm a psychopath by the way...)

So I call back, preparing for the worst, and the doctor tells me that when we left that day, she honestly had no idea what Em was growing down there and so she and all the other dermatologists had to put their heads together, and pour through medical journals until they could come up with that it was, because they'd never seen it before. I'm obviously just so comforted at this point in the conversation. She told me that after hours of researching, they've decided that it's called a "perineal pyramidal protrusion", most likely caused by constipation, and that they're typically found around 14 months, which is about the time we noticed Em's.

This made a ton of sense since Em has been on Miralax for constipation for about a year and a half now, and when I googled the name of it, the picture that showed up is exactly what Em has. The doctor told us that it likely formed when Em had a very large bowel movement at some point, and then the skin protruded out because of the force of the poop. So glamorous, I know. The good news is that there is no harm with it being there, and that these "protrusions" actually resolve themselves and go away over time. So as of right now, no surgery needed. We'll go back in January for a follow up appointment, but after that, we likely won't need to go back unless something happens to it that requires medical attention. 

Thank you for indulging me in way more than I'm sure you wanted to know about my daughter. Although, I'm sure some mom is going to google this condition at some point, find this post, and then she'll thank me. So I'm writing this for that mom... and posterity, because they'll all want to know about this as well. 
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