{me time} free tomkat studio calendar

{Image: The TomKat Studio}

Are you a freak attack in January?  Or maybe every month, regardless of the New Year?

OK, well maybe I’m the only one, but this is one of my coping mechanisms.

The TomKat Studio.

Do you know the site?  If you don’t, you should for sure! Especially after yesterday’s post!! They have great party inspiration, and the owner, Kim’s, Etsy shop has the most darling printable party collections.  I used them last year for the girls’ “Three Ring Circus Birthday”. The TomKat team was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G in getting me ready for that party. Seriously, the party would not have happened without them (and my tireless sister). I owe them both!

But aside from the over the top, darling party ideas and collections, Kim often offers free printables, my favorite being her free printable calendar.

I downloaded this last year and actually kept the file on my desktop. I can’t tell you how many times it came in handy when I wanted to print off a month.

A few ideas:

1. Print off the month you need to give your sitter or nanny with upcoming dates you need…

2. Print off a month to organize tasks you need to do each day to get ready for a birthday party you’re hosting….

3. Print off a month for each childs’ activities that month…

4. Print off a month for what posts (aaahhhhmmm) you need to write each day…

5. Print off a month and write a small goal or task you want to accomplish each day….

The possibilities are endless.  I just love that it’s a cute calendar, that I can print off as many clean pages as I need, and that I can save the file to my desktop to print off whenever it suits my fancy to print one!

Thanks Kim, Toni & Molly ~ The TomKat Studio team for not only making our parties pretty, but also our lives functional!!

{me time} merry christmas!

Holy Moly Macaroni! Has it been a roller coaster the past few weeks. The one thing I know for sure??? I am THANKFUL for friends and family!  To that end, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful Holiday Season.  I’ll be enjoying the time with our family over the next week, but will be back to post again before the New Year.  Best wishes to you and yours….remember to hug all the Littles (and Bigs) in your life!!

(Image Source: Sandy Heit)

{me time} win-win for both of us!

Let me state for the record that I’m not really sure what sweet Addie is doing in this picture…hmmm.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is that it is HARD to find time both for YOU, and for you to SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FRIENDS. It is nearly impossible for me to return phone calls or emails, and to actually SEE a friend in real life, as in, LIVE and in person….well for get about it. Not happening.

Then I saw a flyer for a dance class in the mail. Not a mommy and me dance class that I had to participate in, but a dance class that only Addie could be in…the catch was I HAD TO WAIT there during the class, but OUTSIDE the class.

Ohhhh, I can work with this.

I quickly emailed 2 super close girlfriends. We NEVER get to see each other, and yet our girls are between 3-1/2 and 4-1/2. Oh look at that, that’s the age range for this dance class.

This is getting better.

As we looked at the schedule, we had about 16 chances to make this work….and would you believe only ONE actually worked for us all??

But one was all we needed.

And because it’s on a Saturday, the dads are at home to be able to take the other Littles. Now every weekend my 2 amazing friends and I get 45 minutes together, and our girls are having a blast dancing with each other!  That is just a win-win anyway you want to slice it. And I for one am so thankful!

My tip for you, if your kids are old enough to be in a class on their own, but one that requires you to stay, call up a friend and make it your coffee date. Your Littles will love the time with their friends…..and you will love the time with yours.

Friends can do your spirits a world of good!

{Me Time} a holy hades moment

This weekend I had a little HOLY HADES moment.

I looked at Piper (who is 18 months) and then realized that next month is my baby sister’s 2nd wedding anniversary.  (Such a special and incredible weekend, and I’m sure gave our parents their own Holy Hades moment!)

(Photo Credit: Adam Latham)

How are the two things connected?? Let me tell you…

The weekend my sister got married was a turning point for Hubs and me.

We weren’t just a happy engaged couple planning our fun wedding in Hawaii….

We weren’t just a giddy newlywed couple, moving into our first home…

We weren’t just a newly pregnant couple, excited about our 1st child’s birth…

We weren’t just a tired/excited couple enjoying our brand new baby…

We weren’t just new home owners, remodeling our very first home in 11 weeks…

No.

We were in fact in fast forward mode, each time you blinked there was another wonderful, beautiful, and incredible thing happening every few months in those first 2-3/4 years…life was FLYING!!!

(Photo Credit: Adam Latham)

That weekend, we were in fact 1 month shy of our 3rd wedding anniversary…

Our first baby was 19 months….

Our second was 8 months….

(Both were so sick with Pneumonia that they only made an appearance for family photos and were quickly rushed back to the hotel with my in-laws. We were on the phone with their doctor almost every hour…pretty sure we’ve never experienced anything like that weekend. I had not showered in 2 days in the photo above…)

(Photo Credit: Adam Latham)

And I was 5 months pregnant with our third….

(Thank goodness my beautiful sister and her sweet friends kept us busy, or I might have cried at the reality of it all!)

(Photo Credit: Adam Latham)

I knew that life was a little tough as we were living in it, but to look back at the photos, even of just last year and see how young are kids really were….well, it kind of blows my mind.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this post. (Aside from sharing photos of my gorgeous sister and cute children!)

In case you have not noticed, posting has been a little lite lately.

There are a few reasons for this…

1. I worked my tail off this past July to prepare the daily posts for that month, but also one for each day in August that we would be away (and not near an internet connection). That work load + our kids, it wore.me.out.

2. Then we went away for 4 weeks in August. While we were away, I realized how split my brain was with trying to run this blog and also be there for our family. It’s tougher than you would think. Definitely more difficult that I thought it would be.  And I think as the Little Punks get older, and enter different stages that I’m in ever changing mom mode.  I feel as though I’m not really giving enough to any section of my life right now. And I don’t want either side to suffer.

3. Then I have an internal battle with myself thinking there are lots of moms out there doing a lot on a daily basis, how come I can’t pull all this together a bit more?

I can do better…

No, I’m pretty much tired beyond belief…

I can do better….

No, I’ve pretty much aged 10 years in the last 3….

I can do better….

You get where I’m going with this.  And it’s not like I don’t want to share with you all everyday. I think about blog posts all.day.long. So many things I do and read and see and hear that I want to share….but finding the time to sit and put the posts together, or balance the kids while I try to pull out the camera to get the photos to write the posts…doesn’t always happen. And then I feel like I’m falling short for you, and that I didn’t get to enjoy the moment with them.

4. I need to accept my current (amazing, blessed & AWESOME) reality. I have 3 children. They are 3-1/2, 2-1/2, and 1-1/2. They need A LOT from me every single day.  Addie has just started preschool 2 days a week this year which has been so fun for her, and definitley a help to me.  But the reality is, those little punks are lots of fun and lots of work all.at.the.same.time. And by the time they go to bed each night, my eyes can barely stay open.

(Photo Credit: Sandy Heit)

Soooooo all of this to say, I’m not hanging up my hat, at least not yet. But posting will stay a little lighter as I try to find a good balance for our family and for the blog.  I hope you’ll stick with me!  I love reading your comments and suggestions (and I’m so sorry that I lag  in return comments…).

Thank you for being incredible readers, for hanging in there with me, and for making this blog what it is!!

Giveaway winners!

So we’re back from our little month away.  And I’m pretty sure my life is upside down at the moment.  My head is spinning and I’m not really sure it that’s because I’m standing on my head, or if I’m just trapped in a tail spin….

Regardless, I wanted you all to know that the past month’s giveaway winners have all been notified via email (below for reference). And I also have 2 VERY FUN giveaways coming up… so stay tuned!

A $25 Visa Gift Card for the Multi-tasking Dryer Sheet ~ Giveaway

Comment 8 ~ Chelsea:
“I shove them in my husband’s stinky running shoes. It keeps our closet from getting stinky!”

A $25 Visa Gift Card for Linen Storage Tips ~ Giveaway

Comment 4 ~ Andie (Please contact me at shanna@myfavoriteeverything.com}
“Store sheet sets in the pillow case. When you need to change sheets, each bed set is all together inside the pillowcase!”

Sarah & Abraham Personalized Plate from Favorite Kids Plates & Giveaway

Comment 47 ~ Amy:
“Both my sons would LOVE the super hero! Perfect for afternoon snacks! :)”

YUM Kids Food & Fun Subscription from Halloween Fun with YUM & Giveaway

Comment 5 ~ Taylor:
“Never heard of this magazine before, but it looks awesome!  I would love to get my hands on a copy:)!”

{Me Time} Time to de-stress

Ohhhhhh Lord Bee…it was a little nutty those final weeks of July.

Hmmm, I think I’ve started saying that at the beginning of every post! But it has, it really, really, really, really has been nutty. And it never ceases to amaze me that not matter how well you plan or try to organize things, there STILL is never enough time to get it all done.

Right now in particular I’ve felt like I’ve had loads on my shoulders. Whether actual work to do, the pressure of completing a project, life, or just stress in general.

Lately, it’s felt like a lot.

So I’m trying to teach myself to think about the things that are good and the little things  that make me happy.  It’s a whole lot easier to tackle the mountain in front of you when you have a little pep in your step.

This week when the kids were out, I took 15 minutes to walk around our house and remind myself of favorite things that make me happy…

These jars sit on the counter where the kids eat breakfast.  The large Target glass jar holds the brushes & ribbons. The canning jar holds all the clips. And the Juliska ramekin holds the hairbands.  I love this.  I’m not really a girlie girl.  But somehow seeing these jars each morning makes me feel so lucky to have 3 darling little baby girls who for some reason, in their own little way, ARE girlie girls!

I loved sitting at the kitchen table when I was little when my mom was doing my hair.  “Doing” the Little Punks’ hair now is like working on bowling balls….but one day I hope it will be a special time for them too.  For now they LOVE picking out what clips to wear. As in LOVE.TO.PICK.THEM.OUT.

This IKEA fake plant is awesome! I never thought I would be a fake plant kinda girl, but when I saw these little boxwoods for about $2, I died. I have them all over our house. Easy to group in a line, no fear the kids will dump dirt anywhere, move em when you need em, and they look suprisingly real!

This is the side of our Master Bedroom. Three of the photos are from our wedding. One of the photos is my Hubs on the balcony of our hotel room on our Honeymoon. And the fifth frame is the card he wrote me the night he proposed.  The opposite end sits my jewlery box from my sister-in-law. It holds my jewelry, along with special keepsakes….like the girls hospital baby bracelets & our place cards from our wedding.  I smile each time I look in  this direction.

I also smile when I see this photo. This is Piper at 2 weeks, with me. I may be a little magnified in the photo, but I love how that also shows how teeny-tiny sweet Pipes is. I love that our noses are touching. I really love this photo. And I also love that I got it from Canvas on Demand with a Groupon for 1/2 price!  That certainly puts my in a better mood.

Ohhhhhh matching hangers, how I love you!!  This is Piper’s closet and yes she has a few clothes. She is after all the 3rd daughter in a family of very close in age girls. This girl has got her some hand me downs!!  My closet does not have matching hangers…kids always come first don’t they? But these tiny white hangers, all in a line, with all those colorful dresses…..*sigh* they always put my in a better mood.

See? I’m feeling better already!  Wonder if it has anything to do with the glass of wine that was walking along with me?? (I kid, I kid!)

So that’s my tip for you today.  When you’re feeling stressed with loads on your plate. Take a walk around your house and remind yourself of all the little things that make you happy. It will surprise you how something so little can make such a big difference in your day!

{Family Activities} We’re on or way…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen some of my recent, slightly stressed updates as I realized the time was coming near for our family to make its annual trek to my parents summer home in Canada. (We are most likely on the plane as most of you read this…)

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SPENDING TIME AT THE LAKE.

I love the road trip we took as kids to get there.

I love all of the childhood memories my sisters and I have from growing up there. I love the friendships we have from way back when that are just as solid and true today. I love that my Little Punks will spend lazy summer days with the kids of those same friends. I love that we will see so many of our extended family while we are visiting.

I love that we are flying, like last year (and not driving…just cuz those Little Punks are little).

And I will love being on the final stretch of our travel day when we come up on the first corner of the lake….

And we cross the bridge (where we used to anxiously jump into the drivers seat to “drive us all home” when we where little).

I will love saying hello to the lilipads as we cross that bridge.

And I will love putting on my hat and pearls and raising that first glass when we arrive.

I will love the meals that come out of my parents cozy kitchen.

And I will love painting rocks with all my heart and soul.

We will all love the many boat rides around the lake.

And lining up our toys on the wall.

I will love watching the Little Punks playing in the dirt with trucks (while still decked in jewels).

And I will love watching Hubs put his feet up for a minute and relax. It’s something he very seldom does.

All in all I WILL LOVE BEING ABLE TO SPEND SUCH AMAZING QUALITY TIME WITH OUR FAMILY…

I just don’t like the idea of packing for it all.

Or preparing for being away for an entire month.

Thankfully loads of people have offered to take care of things here for us so the house and garden wont miss us much. And Hubs will only be with the Little Punks and me for a short period, so lucky duck poor guy will be back before long enjoying the last days of summer sleeping in an empty house with peace and quiet. So at least I know the home front is taken care of….but there is still stuff to do to be gone for long periods of time. None of which I’m sure you want to be bored with.

BUT there is one aspect that has had me over the moon stressed and anxious…

Not having internet access.

This is of course is a blessing and a curse.

Blessing because you truly have to unplug. No cell phone, no Facebook, no Twitter, no internet.

But a curse when you write a daily blog, when you read other blogs in Google Reader, when you are addicted to Food Network’s iPad app that needs the internet to access your recipe box, etc.  You don’t realize how much you depend on technology and the internet, until your about to go 30 days without it.

Please do me this one favor….please don’t forget me. 30 days is a long time and I would be so sad if we weren’t friends after I returned. I love, love, love to hear from you all!  So I’ve been out of my mind crazy this month trying to write enough to keep you entertained and give you your morning coffee reading material.

I’ve also talked to a few favorite vendors and we’re going to run some fun giveaways!!  You might have notice the fun one from Sarah & Abraham from Monday? Be sure to enter and tell your friends too!  Then keep your eyes out for a few more…

Much love and hugs to you all!  Enjoy your last month of summer :-)

{Me Time} My Favorite Daily Planner

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m guessing many of you have a slight organization habit or tendency. I’m a little addicted myself, though I definitely find that I can’t be the same Type A person that I was pre-kids. I definitely want to be at time as I never minded that person (though I’m sure my Hubs is happy she’s not fully here anymore), but my brain is so far in the OTHER direction of forgetfulness and disorganization now that I’m a train wreck most of the time.

I have never found a calendar that is 100% perfect. There is always an issue or shortfall somewhere. Not that the calendar is lacking, but that my life is ever changing now with the kids so I find I need to track and calendar things differently almost monthly or yearly depending on our current stage.

BUT there is hope.

Have you ever heard of momAgenda?  I LOVE these planners.  I’m a simple person. I just like being able to see a full month on a page, or a week at a time so I can block out windows of time for events.  And this lets me do it.

Check out a page, they show you what each section of the book looks like.

I was even more excited when I read an email that said this:

NEW 2011/2012 Planners at momAgenda.com!

Being the lover of online shopping that I am, I immediately went to the site and came up with 2 that I love and need to decide between…

The regular momAgenda planner with fabulous little animal print.

Or the Home Office addition with a very helpful spiral binding. Not sure if I would do the neutral gray, or the very fun zebra print.

And here’s the next best thing about momAgenda, they have a momAgenda iPad App!  I have no idea how it all works, but it sounds awesome. And since I love to create more work for myself, but in a streamlined way (yes I’m crazy like that) the thought of being able to keep a written planner that looks the same as my iPad planner is Heaven on Earth!

All this to say, as the Summer is sadly more than half way over and it’s time to get our school year brains in place…it’s nice to know there is a stylish, easy mom planner for us. And I for one LOVE getting a calendar or planner. Kinda makes you feel like your starting fresh with a new lease on life, in a weird backwards way.

Can’t wait for my new planner to arrive….now which one to order??? Decisions, decisions….

Photo Credit: All images from momAgenda

{Me Time} Viceroy Santa Monica

Wow.

It has taken me forever to write this post. That silly thing, you know, LIFE, just keeps throwing me little curve balls. But every time I’m about ready to jump out of my one story office window…..I think back to these wonderful 2 days.

They were Blissful.

Carefree.

No stress.

Simply said….PERFECT.

To start at the beginning. Hubs and I had decided that although we’ve done our fair share of traveling with the Little Punks, been on countless planes, & loads of time zones. And even though they all have airline frequent flier numbers and passports, that this summer was going to be all about local love. If we couldn’t drive there within 2 hours, then it was not  going to happen. We wanted chill, calm, stress free. STAYCATIONS here we come!

Then I thought there might be a lot of other families out there that could be thinking the same thing. So I put on my “Sharing Hat” and decided I would blog about all the fun spots we went to, to show you how easy and fun it could be not to get on an airplane this summer.

See, this is my “Sharing Hat”! I love ya so much, I straddle toilets for better photos (of course this picture was only taken to prove my point, nothing actually good to share here…)

Then that thing, LIFE, yeah that, happened.

We took our first trip away to Palm Desert with my husbands WHOLE family (trust me, it’s a lot of people ~ kind of too much for me to have kid duty and camera duty and blog duty, and there was very spotty Internet).

The day after we returned, we dropped the punks with my parents and headed out for a couple days by ourselves at the Viceroy, Santa Monica. HEAVEN.

The week after we returned from that, I took Hayden for a little trip up north (more to come on this later…). Um, a little trip that required 6 hours of driving. Each way. 2 days after the Mother’s Day from Hades.

THEN Hubs and I  decided it would be a good year to take our kids to my family’s lake house. In Canada. For 3o days, at the end of the summer.

Huh?!?!  How did that just happen?? Did we really just do all of this to ourselves?

So as I approach the time when I need to have a bazillion suitcases packed, punks ready for lots of flying and driving, and my sanity in check….I think back to this perfect 2 day trip to the Viceroy, Santa Monica....

Why was it perfect, you ask?

Because it was 2 days and 1 night of no stress and peaceful adult “just us time”.

Because it only required 2 very small overnight bags.

Because it was only an hour drive, and no one asked for a DVD, screamed, or dropped a sippy cup 1 million times along the way.

Because the hotel staff was amazing & couldn’t have been nicer and more attentive.

Because the decor is as refreshing and amazing as their Palm Springs Resort. (And an update is coming to Santa Monica soon too…)

Because we were welcomed with a glass of champagne as we checked in.

Because I learned that they like to think outside of the box and will use ANY AREA of the hotel for your event or function. You are not limited to just the restaurant or special event space. But they certainly are not shabby!

Because we were able to take a leisurely walk along the boardwalk enjoying the amazing beach and pier and all that it had to offer.

Because we ate lunch in comfy wing back chairs that you would think belonged in a formal dining room, but were in fact on an outdoor patio around the pool. And because they served their fries in a lopped of brown paper bag and it was the best idea ever (or at least for serving fries!)

Because they have a fab happy hour “7 Before 7” with the tastiest little treats! The meatballs??….I die!

Because the dinner at Whist was so out.of.this.world we didn’t want it to EVER end.

Because the Chef  uses locally grown organic produce, and shops the local farmers market before planning the menu each week.

Because the bed was soft and firm and smelled so wonderful (crazy I know, but I love the smell of uber clean sheets!) and no one woke us up with teething, nightmares or potty breaks during the night.

Because I woke up at 6:30am and was able to lazily stay in bed reading magazines until 9:30am.

Because the hotel is so wonderfully luxurious, but intimate and comfortable that a food network star and host called it home for a month while he filmed local episodes, and had left the day before we arrived.

Because there was a beach and shops and the new Santa Monica outdoor mall all within easy walking distance so we never had to drive (or fasten a bazillion car seats, 80 bazillion times).

Because I was able to Tweet the restaurant staff for a recommendation for a cocktail and lunch idea, and THEY TWEETED BACK THE PERFECT SUGGESTION!! How fun to be a guest at a hotel and have DIRECT ACCESS to the CHEF and his staff!?!? And I can’t even share a great photo of it, because it was so good WE INHALED it! (In case you are wondering, it WAS the Picnic Chicken Sandwich and Cadillac Margarita).

Because the last time I was there I was 4 months pregnant with Addie, my sister was with me and 5 months pregnant, we had her toddler too and we arrived at 10p straight from LAX. The hotel was in full night time party mode, and yet we were quickly set up in our room with a pack & play, ordered delicious room service and never heard a thing.

Why was it perfect? Because it was EXACTLY what we needed!

Both the Viceroy Palm Springs and Viceroy Santa Monica are true Favorites. I can’t recommend them enough! Be sure to check out the special offers for both resorts! HERE/Santa Monica and HERE/Palm Springs.

{Disclosure: We were very grateful to be guests of the Viceroy.  This post is completely 120% my own opinion, and we would have treated ourselves to this staycation regardless. I encourage you to treat yourselves too!)

{Life} I hate Cancer

I really do.

Truthfully, I’m not sure I know anyone that wants to be friends with it.

Thursday, I spent most of the morning in tears in my car after learning a dear family member was diagnosed with Cancer. She is the same age as me, with 4 wonderful children. As I type this post, she is undergoing surgery. I hope and pray they get every last bit of it’s ugliness.

Cancer is just plane wrong. WRONG.

And when it affects your own family it just feels that much worse.

Also while I type this post, my amazing baby sister is on her way to Canada. She is joining  family friends to ride in the BC Ride this weekend (The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer) which is a unique 2 day cycling event.  Part of their goal is to see a world free of Cancer.

I want to be a part of THAT world.

I don’t want to have to hear about sweet little kids like Maddie James given only a few short months to live.

I don’t want my childhood friend to lose his amazing wife after 9 years of battling (diagnosed days after returning from their honeymoon). And already losing his own mother.

I don’t want to sit in a parking lot and get a call telling me about someone I love dearly is going in for surgery.

I want to be apart of THE OTHER world, the one FREE OF CANCER!

So I’m writing to you today, asking you to support this amazing team of friends, Team Alberto EXTREME STYLE . They are cycling for 2 days to raise money to fight Cancer.  This organization raised $9 Million dollars last year. That can kick some serious Cancer booty!  My baby sister and her team have raised $64,000 so far, but they have a goal of $75,000, and I want to help them meet or exceed it.  She is going to ride from Vancouver to Seattle over a 2 day period.  That is hours and miles, and hours and miles, and hours and miles.

HOURS and MILES!

My booty is sore just thinking about it!  She promises to text and send photos along the way as she can, and I promise to share them with you.  I know they would appreciate your support.

My sister is one of my most Favorite people. She commits her life to her friends and  to her family, and I love her  for being that person. The person that helps raise money to find a Cancer free world, especially this day, the day another dear person to me has been diagnosed.

I will pass along any comments or well wishes….you can see me sister’s donation page HERE and Team Alberto‘s page here. Check out the ride, It’s an amazing commitment, one that my sister has been training months for!! I’m so very, very proud of her.

Thank you for your help,  your support, and your prayers for their safe journey!

Have a wonderful weekend….be sure to hug your family!