Holiday Shopping Guide – What to Get Your Guy – Even EarPrint Headphones

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even-earprint-headphones-holiday-giftThis post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.

It dawned on me just two days ago that the holidays are no longer just approaching but that they are here, like right now! And if you’re anything like me, you’ve not only waited to start your holiday gift shopping until just now, but also have no idea what to get those on your list. Especially what to get your husband. Well, look no further, because I’ve found the perfect gift for you to get your guy, Even EarPrint Headphones. 

Even Headphones aren’t just your average headphones, they measure just how you hear and personalize your tune accordingly. The concept behind Even’s Headphones is that no two ears hear the same, not even your own. We each have a unique makeup that makes us all individuals in how we see, taste, smell and hear. And this is exactly what prompted the team behind Even to make a headphone that could help you hear at the optimum level just like glasses help bring your vision to 20/20. And this why they are perfect for my husband.

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About 12 years ago while teaching this son of ours how to swim my husband took a very deep dive into the pool and when he came up he lost 1/3 of his hearing in his right ear. Ever since it’s been extremely hard for him to find headphones that he can hear well out of from both ears. He either has to turn it up super load so he can hear out of his right ear or leave it down to where it seems like it’s a normal sound coming into his good ear, and barely hearing anything going into his bad ear which can be extremely frustrating for him.

I’m so excited to actually have a gift for my husband this year that will truly benefit him! Now I just need to keep these Even EarPrint Headphones hidden from my teenagers so they don’t try to swipe them for themselves!

I’d love to hear what your perfect gift for your man is, leave me a comment below 🙂

 

 

A backyard birthday tea party + how we manage birthday parties in our family

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Last month in early September our baby girl turned “6”. SIX you guys. I’m only kind of dying inside every time I acknowledge that she’s completely out of the toddler years and fully into little girl mode. We celebrated her with the party she’d been dreaming of having for this past year. And I’m only a month late, which for me is like technically early. But, here’s a peek (actually way more than a peek) of Liliana’s backyard birthday tea party + pony ride.

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Thank goodness for friends (particularly ones who own florist shops and others who are photographers, and know how to set up a party), a husband who is super handy (he built these low tables the morning of the party) and willing to do anything for his baby girl (really any of us) at any time, for family who always step in when I need it and IKEA. Seriously, between a quick ikea stop and the target clearance section I was able to find basically everything I needed to make my vision of L’s backyard Tea party come to life.

Liam had a football game the day of L’s party and it really only left me with less than two hours to prep, set-up and make sure everything was ready before her little friends started to arrive. And without all the help from my village this party would not have been ready on time. And thankfully I was able to whip up a quick crown for my girl just minutes before her party started.

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Soon “tea” was getting passed around by the girls and little plates were getting filled with tiny sandwiches, fresh fruit, madeleines and the sweetest most perfect little tea party desserts one could ever dream of from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. It all looked so good that L’s big brother Aden couldn’t help himself and joined in for the tea party along with our kitten, Milo and our pup, Bella. Who are both never far away from Liliana and could quite possibly be the best little pets that any little girl could have.

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Watching Liliana and all of her little friends just simply enjoy themselves around a table snacking, giggling and toasting their tea made me realize again just why we make such a special effort to celebrate our children’s births like this. If you follow me on instagram you may have already heard me touch on our birthday party theory. Being a large family, we only have a few select parties for our children growing up. With 6 kids, it was just completely unrealistic for us to have a birthday party for each of our children every year. So shortly after we came together as a family we realized really quick that we would need to set a precedence with birthday parties, or we’d go broke. And ultimately, I feel like doing fewer parties with more meaning just makes them all the more special.

**If you’d like to hear what’s worked for us as far as birthday party balance is concerned read on to the next paragraph. If not, keep scrolling down to the very last paragraph here before more party pictures.** 


We generally only have a handful of actual parties for our children as they grow up. And I like to start them at an age where they can retain the memories from it for forever. For us that’s usually been around age 5 or 6. The next ones really don’t follow any schedule or pattern, but usually theres another one around age 8-10, followed by one that I think is such a poignant time is children’s lives. Ages 12-13. Our go to for a party for that age has been a fun overnight hotel stay with a manageable amount of friends (around 8).

I think it’s so important for your children to know just how much they mean to you at that crucial junior high age. That can be a rough spot for them. (i mean, do you remember junior high? it was kind of the worst stage of growing up for me) The awkwardness of trying to figure out who you are while you try to not get food stuck in your braces as you’re sitting next to a cute kid at the lunch table, but then you get so nervous because they are actually talking to you that you freak out (out of fear or pure excitement. you can never be sure how to tell what emotion means what, because one minute you’re fine and the next you’re having a full blown melt down because your mom looked at you wrong that morning. you know, that side-eye look where you don’t know if you’re in trouble, or if she just found out that you got the part in the school play. but really she’s just looking at you in pure confusion because she can’t figure out how or why you cry when you can’t find your pants that are hanging out in the pile on the floor in your bedroom that could grow it’s own colony of super funky bacteria or why you get so pissed when you can’t find your band shoes that are literally sitting 5 feet in front of you, but you just can’t seem to find them so you run around blaming everyone else but yourself because you just know that your little brother touched them and did something with them when in all reality you set them right where they are eventually found by that side-eyeing mom who really just wants to tell you that she loves you, but doesn’t really want her head bit off or a cry fest to happen so she just gives you a slight smile and walks away. phew…) and bolt, tripping over your backpack on the way and spill your lunch tray all over them. Yeah, that’ why I think it’s good to do a party at that age 😉

The next age we celebrate is usually 16, and then it’s followed up by the last one of them all while still being your child but straight turning into a full blown legal adult…18. These are just years that seem to work for us and our children. And not all of them have had big parties on all of those birthdays, sometimes we have just celebrated them a bit bigger than we normally would have ;). On years where we don’t have a birthday party we celebrate as a family with a meal & dessert chosen by whoever’s birthday it is. It simple, quiet, and usually just what is needed for them at the time.


From nearly the very first time Liliana saw our backyard at our new home she’s begged to have a horse. Her reasoning is completely valid, as our excuse before was that we didn’t have a yard big enough. So, to make this party more special for Liliana we decided to grant her ultimate wish of having a real live pony in her yard. I mean, I’m pretty sure that was my dream as a little girl too at some point, and since this age seemed best suited for a live pony at her party, her backyard tea party included a pony ride as well.

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After all the girls had their share of pony rides around the yard, Liliana opened her gifts from her cute friends and then they all ran into the pool house for a swim. And of course these little girls can never not end their swimming time without getting in the hot tub which was the perfect way to end any party.

Again, I can not express again how grateful I am for our family and friends. It was so nice to know that while I was sitting & watching all the girls swim, others were tidying up plates, food, etc. When my big kids were younger I used to feel like I had to do it all when it came to their birthday parties. You know, make the food, cake, cupcakes, decorate, and then run around trying to snap pictures too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that delegating out things like having someone else cater food, or make the dessert is such huge help. I’m so thankful that The Sweet Tooth Fairy was there to make all of the darling sweets and cake for Liliana’s party. It truly took such a load off of my shoulders knowing that it was not all up to me. Also I can not express how amazing it was to have a photographer at Liliana’s party. It made it so easy for me to just be there and take in everything and not have to worry about capturing the magic that was happening because I knew my girl Sam from Samantha Broderick Photography was capturing it all and more.

Before we knew it is was starting to get dusk and while all of Liliana’s little friends had gone home her family and friends were still here and ready to sing happy birthday to this darling baby girl of ours on her day. She smiled and she blew out her candles and still hasn’t told me what she wished for.

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Happiest 6th birthday sweet Liliana. We hope you had the party you dreamed of and know just how much your mama and daddy love you. xx

 

Sources: The amazing desserts were all made by Megan from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. L’s dress can be found here. The tables were made from two of these table tops. We then added 4×4 in posts cut to 14 inches and attached with L brackets. Most of the party supplies (like everything on & around the tables) are from here. And last but not least all of these beautiful photo’s are by Samantha Broderick Photography.

Finding a balance with screentime in our home

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As our summer is nearing its end and we prepare to head back to school and (hopefully) a more scheduled routine, one of our family goals this school year is to spend less time on screen. Raising children in our current technology driven time is like completely charting new territory on unvisited land. While every one of us in our family loves having access to endless options at our fingertips we also have to be careful and aware of how we are spending our time onscreen.

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You’ve all heard the old saying “practice what you preach”, well lately my teenagers are really making me stick to it! We’ve always tried really hard in our family to set good boundaries in all aspects of our lives, including how much time we choose to be on our mobile devices, iPads, laptops, computers…etc. And being in this social media/blogging world it can sure be hard to for me to set boundaries with my own screen time. So while I’m over here monitoring my children’s screen time, I also need to monitor my own. Thankfully about 4 months ago I found an amazing product that helps me with just that, and I firmly believe it needs to be in every family home.

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I’d like to introduce you to Circle. A smart little tool that pairs wirelessly with the wifi in your home to help you manage every single device on your network. Setting it up is simple and then using the Circle app you create a customized internet usage profile for each individual in the family. Circle allows you to set time limits for specific apps and web sites. But it doesn’t end there. You can also set up age appropriate filters for each device as well as overall time limits, a bedtime and an awesome feature called “pause” that we will be using a ton as we head back to school. Pause lets you actually pause all access to the internet. So during scheduled study or homework time I won’t have to worry about them “pausing” to pick up their phones to check their twitter, Instagram or snapchat feeds. Can I get a big ole hands up YES!! I really feel like applying the pause button will help all of us focus on the task at hand and therefore we will be able to concentrate on just getting it done and accomplished without our usual main distraction, our iPhones. Another great feature that Circle offers are Insights. You can view where each member of your family is spending their online time. It can be narrowed down by platform, category or website. Let’s just not look at my Instagram app usage…

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I’m also really excited as we just signed up for another Circle feature called “Circle Go”. Circle Go allows you to implement Circles features while your children are away from home. So whether they’re at school, sports practice, or a friends house you can still manage your children’s devices wherever they go!

Circle has been such a beneficial asset in our home this past bit and has already given us back so much more family time this summer I can’t wait to see how it continues to help us transition back into the school year. And I meant it when I said it earlier, I really do believe that every family home can benefit from having a Circle. If you’re interested in purchasing one for your family now is the time because until August 31, 2016 you can purchase a Circle at a discounted price of $89 at Target, Amazon, Best Buy, and meetcircle.com

 

This post was sponsored by Circle with Disney, all opinions are my own.

A Father’s Day Shave with Gillette Mach3 SE

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This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint, P&G and Gillette. All opinions are my own.

I’m not really sure when it happened, all I do know is that it IS happening, and it’s happening right now before my eyes…my baby boys are straight becoming men. They’re like man children these days and I guess a part of becoming a full blown man child is learning how to shave all those new hairs that are springing up all over their little baby faces. (insert severe mama crying here).

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So, this Father’s Day, the kids and I decided that it was due time that we get the Dad of our home a new razor. I mean, he’s been super kind to share his razor with his boys (and me) thus far, but I’m pretty sure he deserves his very own at this point. 😉

And thank goodness my one stop shop and favorite store ***COSTCO*** always has my back. We were able to pick up the Gillette Mac 3 Signature Edition Razors, which are only available at Costco, for my husband on one of our 19 trips we make their weekly…okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But for real we frequent our local Costco nearly 4-5 days a week, no joke. We also picked up some Gillette Fusion ProGlide 2-in-1 Shave Gel while we were there too. My son Mathew pointed out that it was perfect that the shaving gel comes in a pack of 3, which meant that the boys could each have their own as well as give one to their Dad.

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As usual with this selfless Dad of ours, the new razor was used as a teaching lesson for our son Aden. Watching my oldest son and husband show Aden all the ropes of shaving the proper way about made my heart burst right there on the spot. And when Aden decided he wasn’t quite ready yet to put the razor to his face, his big brother did instead with Aden watching every move and their dad coaching along the way. When Mathew was finished they all checked out the final result. There was truly NO redness, because with Gillette Mach3 Signature Edition Razors, you can declare victory over redness with a smooth shave that’s up to 100% redness-free (it’s possible with Mach3®).

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These moments right here are the ones that I never want to forget. Ones that are simple, but also so special. I am so grateful that my children have such a wonderful man to look up to as a Father. One who will drop anything for any of us at any given moment, and even share his razor with all of us too. xo

Afternoon snack time with Annie’s

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You know when your in the thick of raising your kids and you feel like its going to last for forever? Well the hard reality is that, it just doesn’t. One day they’re creating dance shows or making up performances for you, using their little brothers as props, and the next they’re graduated and off on their own living in a city hundreds of miles away. If your lucky they eventually make their way back near home and then if your super lucky they occasionally drop by for an after work/school snack to chat.

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And that my friends, is now where we’re at around here. Theres nothing that brings my heart more joy than to hear “Sheila” (our home alarm system named by my 17 yr old Mathew) speak up and say “front mud room door”, followed by “side door” because it means that one of my big kids is dropping by or is home from work or school.

The first thing that’s done after they come in is quickly pair one of their iPhones to the Bluetooth speaker and some sort of music is put on. Most days its like you’ve entered into a European dance club, or sometimes depending on the day and who gets their phone hooked up first you could enter into a hardcore gangsta rap club in downtown LA. And this music that is now playing is not put on just as background noise, it’s put on to straight party.

Next up, they raid the pantry and fridge, usually looking for a quick easy snack. And heres the thing, there comes a time where you’re no longer fixing your children’s meals and snacks and they’re choosing their own. So I like to keep my kitchen stocked up with simple, wholesome snacks, but also ones that are still fun like Annie’s Organic Really Peely Fruit tape!

I love that I know without a doubt when I buy anything that Annie’s makes I can trust what is in their products. No more searching the ingredients for Red40, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors…etc. Because heres the thing. I am admittedly one of “those” moms. You know them. The ones who started banning HFCS back in the late 90’s, who buy organic everywhere they can and ultimately just want to feed their kids healthy food. And not only that, one who wants to instill healthy eating habits into them as much as possible when they are young so they carry those habits over on their own when their older. And Really Peely fits that bill. Its a fun snack that is certified organic and free of all of those ingredients like HFCS, artificial flavors and synthetic colors that kids both old and young can enjoy. As you can see, I think my teenagers love playing with it just as much as they enjoy eating it!

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But all too soon the conversation is cut short, the music stops, and one shuffles off to work, another to run errands, another to go grocery shopping for themselves and another to do their homework. And this Mama is left with my cup overflowing usually just enough until the next time I enter into a dance club in my own kitchen.

This post is sponsored by Annie’s, a brand that we have long loved in our home.

 

Photos: Samantha Broderick Photography

 

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