2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR MOMS

If you’re shopping for a mom in your life (or creating a list for yourself!) here are some gift ideas of things I love or have my eye on. Because every mom deserves something special at Christmas.

FOR THE MOMS WHO LOVE THE KITCHEN

A set of beautiful, one of a kind, handmade ceramic mugs and bowls by Karen Dawn Curtis. Pictured are the Pasta Bowls and Happy Cups in Spring Day Blue. The color is more of a neutral gray and it is really beautiful in person. I love that each one is handmade, direct from the maker, and that no two are exactly alike.

Looking for a way to use less plastic, help the Earth, and add beauty to your kitchen? Enter Goldilocks wraps, a small business out of Canada that has changed my leftovers and storage game. These wraps are made of cotton and beeswax, and they work just like plastic wrap. They can also be molded into reusable baggies by pinching the sides together to stick. The prints are as cute as can be and as a bonus they smell amazing, like honey. On sale through cyber Monday.

Other kitchen/home items: I also have my eye on the Magnolia Table cookbook, Love & Lemons, and Homebody.

BECAUSE EVERY MOM DESERVES A LONG HOT SHOWER

Can you guess what these are? Shampoo and conditioner bars by Unwrapped Life. I just recently discovered them, and they are another small company out of Canada doing great things for people wanting to live more plastic-free. The company prides itself on being the perfect mix of “luxury and sustainability,” and they are totally natural, lather amazingly, and are great for you and the environment.

FOR THE HOSTESS/RENOVATOR

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Wireless warm light bulbs by Philips Hue. I get that lighting may seem like a “boring” Christmas gift, but no home decor item is boring to me anymore after fixing up our house. We love these because they’re wifi enabled, which means no drilling needed to install dimmers or lighting, especially in rooms that aren’t already wired (hello, old Seattle homes). In addition to brightness, we can also control the color temperature, all from our phones. (Would make a great gift for a hard-to-buy-for techie dad too.)

FOR THE ORGANIZED MOM (OR THE MOM WHO WANTS TO BE

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I loved this diaper bag, and my favorite organizer insert fits in as well. Tote Savvy released a holiday edition in red, and they are running a sale from now through December 10th, up to 45% off, no code needed. This is the Mini size, the larger one I use in my Madewell Transport Tote for everyday. I really love the organization they provide in big, catch-all bags.

FOR EVERY MOM

A pedicure at your local nail salon (with babysitting included!). I love this indulgence and the time to myself.

My all time favorite (and ethically made!) white v-neck tee here. (Link is to the main page, search “The Cotton V-Neck”, it’s $15 and I wear size S.)

An Apple Watch or other step counter or fitness tracker. I got mine as a gift for Mother’s Day and have absolutely loved it. It’s been a game changer in my everyday fitness motivation.

The coffee mug that keeps your coffee hot for hours. Hello, mornings with small children. Have not tried but heard good things.

Grace Crafted Home, for gifts for the home that give back. My mom got me a Grace Case subscription, the clothing collection, and it’s a seasonal subscription of beautiful, fair trade items.

Essential oils are all the rage. You don’t have to buy the fancy ones though, I’ve heard great things about this kit (and look at the reviews!). They also have a diluted kids’ line.

If shes’s a La Croix fan, an at home sparkling water maker would make sure she always has something fizzy to drink on hand.

These are my favorite leggings of all time.

Our go-to grandparent gift. Get $10 off (a free book!) by clicking here.

Ordered this over the weekend at at the recommendation of a friend: a comfy bra for everyday, and stretchy enough for nursing (I picked up the true body scoop neck, on major sale).

Happy shopping!

ON GETTING AWAY

A few days ago I polled Instagram on what's the thing that's helped you the most in motherhood, and the responses were great. Not one single product was mentioned, but all the non-tangibles and little (big) things. Among them: grandparents, perspective, grace, coffee, alcohol, a good babysitter, friends, self-care, and time away. It took me a long time to realize that last one but after our trip last weekend I am a big believer.

Daniel planned this trip and it was his idea. Last year we attempted a 2 night getaway and Trey was too young, it was too soon, and I wasn't ready. I was kind of expecting the same thing on this trip, but agreed to go anyways. I know it's good for me to get away and I wanted to, it's just also really hard for me to leave Trey.

This trip was night and day from last time. The resort was incredible. A boutique, luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona and I think it might be my favorite place we've ever stayed. (Not sponsored at all, just sharing.) The design is mid-century modern and the concept is little bungalows all over a sunny, warm, resort nestled near Old Town Scottsdale with mountain views. We absolutely loved it.

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I think the biggest realization for me on the trip was: baby/toddler/kid life is demanding. These years take A LOT of resources - time, energy, money, etc. But they are not forever. In the midst of the day to day craziness that is raising small children you think they will, but this pace of life will someday feel slower. When we retire yes, but also when we're empty nesters, and even when we're at the elementary age, we won't be parenting as intensely as we are during this time of life. It's chaotic and messy and crazy most days, but now that I've taken a step back to notice this, I can more fully fill myself up first. I think I gained the perspective that self-care is a THING. A real thing and a needed thing, and exponentially more so during these all-hands-on-deck years.

It was shocking to me the amount of noise and speed that is raising kids. I don't think it was so much the place (even though it was amazing) but just the time away to chat. To go whatever we wanted, to really pause and relax, to have time. That is the biggest scarcity element I think of my days right now and the kicker for me was that I realized: someday I will have more time.

I am trying to parent out of this new long-term mindset. I am trying to find pockets of rest and relaxation during my days, and right now, I have to be strategic about it. I have to find it/make it/get creative with it/put boundaries around it. I typically run at about 110% percent, like most moms, since we have a lot of roles and responsibilities that we keep spinning each day. But I'm slowly learning to also put myself on that list of importance things. What would fill me up today, what would I like to do? It can be hard as moms because we take care of so many needs that what we'd like often gets pushed so far back that we don't even know what it is that we need or want. Also, I think our culture values productivity and busyness, and when that's ingrained in you it's hard to get off that train. But I'm doing it. I'm getting off the train of de-valuing self-care. I placing myself on my priority list.

I think sometimes as a mom I've thought about things in pretty black and white terms. Can I both (fill in the blank) and be a good mom? Can I take a parents-only trip and love my child? Can I work and still love my child? Can I enjoy time away for a pedicure and still love my child? I think subconsciously I've thought I had to be this mom martyr, dying to myself all the time in the name of loving my child well. And I know now that while I fiercely love my child, I'm actually a better mom when I'm filled up first. It's the oxygen mask strategy. Our needs matter. What we do for ourselves matters. Not just matters, but is vital.

Part of it for me is that I get so much joy out of being with Trey. This is a great thing. But it does make it hard for me to leave him, for trips or even just a night out. I know these years go fast and I don't want to miss it. But I think there is also something to be said for doing them well and being able to do both - I can love my child well, and enjoy time away. Filling me up fills my family up. We take care of so many needs as moms. Let's make sure to also take care of ours.

HOW TO DE-STRESS YOUR HOLIDAY CARDS

Thank you to Minted, the maker of modern and beautiful holiday cards, for partnering with me on this post.

The Christmas season is upon us! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and also, sometimes, the most stressful. The shopping, the cooking, the baking, the cleaning, the partying, it is a FULL season, and while it’s a good one, it easily becomes a little crazy.

I think part of it is sometimes, that everything labeled “Christmas” can be hyped. From gift-giving to baking to holiday party outfits, sometimes in the middle of trying to make everything more magical what we really do is make everything more stressful. I want to recognize this, but not live into it. I want to have a simple Christmas, not a buying frenzy or a perfect gift hunt or a fit-everything-we-can-into-these-four-weeks experience.

Our families are awesome, and one way that we’ve all decided to simplify Christmas is by drawing names on both sides, so that we’re each giving to only one person in each of our families. Doing this has saved so much time, energy, and stress, and I really enjoy it.  If we do something extra for the grandparents I like to do photo gifts that are simple and meaningful, like calendars or books of highlights from the year.

But there are some things that we feel we have to do (or choose to do) in this season. Like the Christmas card. This process alone is enough to stress someone out. I don’t know what it is about them, but I think there’s this pressure to get THE most perfect photo of all time. Like we need to prove to the world our family is WITH IT. Like, “Look! We’re all smiling! We’re all happy, well rested, highly capable people who never have a bad hair day or have to wait in long lines at the post office or arrive late to church every.single.time and for the life, can never, ever, seem to find the missing shoe?”

Do you resonate with this? That struggle to get the perfect photo is real. As a semi-professional photographer and designer, I get it. Photos are important to me. I treasure them, print them, save them, post them, enjoy them, and yes, photo quality is more important to me than the average person.  BUT. Just because you’re into high quality photos doesn’t mean you need to hire an expensive photographer to get them. Our Christmas card photos this year were all taken on self-timer, and they are some of my favorite photos of our family, ever. Here’s how I did it:

By some Christmas miracle, we got an early snow this year in October. I know how magical of a backdrop this makes, so I bundled everyone up and out we went. It was not fancy or glamorous - we just pulled over on the side of the road near a local park, and I set up the camera and told Daniel where to stand with Trey. I have this DSLR camera, this lens, and a tripod (similar) that I use for self-timer photos. I pressed the “10 second continuous timer" button, ran for it, and hoped for the best. This one took only 5 takes which is completely miraculous with small children.

Once we had the photo, it was onto the card. This year I worked with Minted, which I love for their wide selection of designs and their printed recipient addressing. I'm so thrilled with how these turned out. They were exactly the kind of card I was looking for - modern and simple, and festive, and even though I say this every year, they’re my favorite cards we’ve sent to date.  

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Trey "helped" me stuff the envelopes. Excited to incorporate him more into our families traditions in the next couple of years. Some of our other favorite (simple) holiday traditions include: seeing Santa (it did not go well this year but we did it), walking through Candy Cane Lane (an area of houses decorated in vintage Christmas decor with lights and music; it’s very It’s a Small World-esq.), buying a Christmas tree (we did the closest lot this year instead of the farm because #movingiscrazy), and reading the Christmas story (we like this one for kids). We're already two weeks into it but in the future I'd love to do some kind of advent calendar, and also somehow incorporating doing something for someone else in need, because I think that’s the true spirit of Christmas - bringing hope and light to the world during one of the darkest times. I want my family to think of Christmas as a time of giving, instead of getting, because that’s where the lasting joy is.

What are some of your favorite family traditions and how do you keep your Christmas simple? Would love to hear.