I’m a mom of three. I have Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. I turned 40 this year. And two months ago I was at my unhealthiest (mentally and physically) that I have ever been, despite years of trying to get fit, restricting my calories, doing Whole30s. For the last three years since I had my last baby my body has been stuck. Nothing I did made a difference. NOTHING. I thought it was because I was breastfeeding. But once my baby weaned at 20 months nothing changed. I thought it was my thyroid or my anti-depressants or my IUD. I think those all contributed to my stuck-ness, but once I removed or corrected all of those things my body was still stuck. And then one of my readers messaged me about a program she had done that finally worked for her. I immediately signed up. That program is called The FASTer Way to Fat Loss. And it is working for me! Read More
This post is sponsored by Discount Drug Mart, but the opinions and experiences are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands who help me bring you content here on Oh Lovely Day.
Every year before the holiday party season hits full swing, I like to stock up on a variety of wine. I use it for gifting: take a bottle with you when you go to your hair stylist for your last haircut of the season or bring a bottle to someone else that takes good care of you throughout the year. I always take a bottle with me to any holiday gathering or party. And if I’m hosting, I obviously need quite a few to stock my bar cart. I also like to make mulled wine during the holidays. There are so many times I need a bottle during the month of December and into the new year. Whether you are hosting a holiday party or attending one, it helps to have a stock of wine on hand to save you from scrambling and running to the nearest wine shop at the last minute. So I thought I would share a few tips on stocking your own wine rack with bottles you can use for any occasion and how you can get it all without spending a ton of time shopping or a ton of money.
You might be surprised to learn where I stock up on all of this wine: Discount Drug Mart! They actually have a large selection and a great variety at low prices. I bought all six of these bottles of wine for around $60, and I think I spent ten minutes at the store selecting them. Discount Drug Mart is seriously the solution to save the runaround at this time of year: one stop, ten minutes, and you’re stocked for the season!
Another tip: choose wine brands or types that you actually enjoy as well (if you are a wine drinker). That way, you can also enjoy some at a party or if you have wine leftover. Plus, if you like it chances are others will too. Here are a few brands and types I selected:
- Noble Vines: This one is known as the numbers wine and 337 is the most popular and the one I usually reach for. But this time I went for Black the ONE because it is a blend of wines from their most exceptional lots. It is a red from California and I’m really looking forward to trying this one for the first time.
- Ménage à Trois Wines: This brand is known for creating the popular California Red Wine blend (a play off their name). I have been a fan of that blend for a while but this time I also grabbed their California White Blend and this is the one I took to my stylist when I went to get my hair done this week. She opened it on the spot. Obviously I had to try it (for research guys!) and it was delicious. I’ll be going back for more of this one.
- Castle Rock: this is a consistently highly-rated wine from Washington state. I selected a California Cuvée Pinot Noir — my favorite red. I’m trying to save this one for a holiday party but am tempted every day to have a glass with dinner.
- Robert Mondavi Wines: Wine is aged in repurposed bourbon barrels to give each wine a unique flavor. I went with the Chardonnay (because you really can’t go wrong with Chardonnay). This one is great to serve after dinner with a sweet treat or dessert.
- Cocobon: This is a great red at a great value, making it a great choice to take as a hostess gift when you’re attending a holiday party, especially if you’re on a budget. It pairs well with a sharp cheddar and crackers!
- 19 Crimes: I love taking this one to smaller dinner parties. Not only is it a delicious choice, but the Living label app lets you hear historical stories from the 19 Infamous that appear on the labels (hence the name). It is a fun conversation starter! This time I choose the Pinot Noir (I think we’ve already established this is a favorite of mine and that you should choose wine you also enjoy).
One last pro tip: grab some eucalyptus or pretty greenery and some holiday-themed coasters and your bar will be festive for the holiday season! It doesn’t have to take a ton of effort or money to be prepared to host or attend a holiday party. It should be effortless, so you can actually enjoy this time of year. Head to your local Discount Drug Mart and look for the wines I shared above and you’re all set. Done and done!
Not sure where to find the closest Discount Drug Mart near you? CLICK HERE
This post is sponsored by Discount Drug Mart.
I don’t know how or when it happened, but suddenly my baby is old enough to have grown out of believing in Santa. The photo above was taken this year, 2018, and my son Charlie is 8. He had been skeptical about Santa this season, asking questions and sharing his doubts. When we were at the Zoo to attend the Wildlights this year the line for Santa was fairly short and we decided to hop in and get that over with for this year. Charlie really didn’t want to do it. And I wasn’t ready to have the Santa conversation while waiting in line for Santa. So I told him that he didn’t have to talk to Santa but I would appreciate if he would go along with things for his brothers and get in the photo. He agreed. He always has been a good sport. But Santa noticed Charlie’s reluctance as well and after Charlie walked away Santa pulled me aside and told me that Santa is a job, not a person. Anyone can choose to carry on the spirit of Santa (or the original St. Nick, if you go by that story) by helping to make others’ holidays magical and perpetuate the spirit of giving, and when a child stops believing this often helps to explain why we did the whole Santa thing in the first place. This is similar to what I planned to say to Charlie, but the line “Santa is a job, not a person” really helped form our talk.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the idea of Santa. I truly don’t like to lie to my children, even about something fun. I feel like it is ok to only share things in an age-appropriate way, but to flat out perpetuate the myth of Santa was different. And yet, we did it. It is hard not to go along with, especially when you do celebrate Christmas. People bring it up to your kids even if you don’t. Santa is almost unavoidable. So I’ve always tried to use him as a symbol of giving, tried not to use him for blackmail too much (although that is the upside to Santa), and never let Santa be the one who gave the big gifts on Christmas morning. Charlie has always questioned things about Santa (for good reason) and I appreciated that he didn’t just take my word for things. I am not a person who can take things on faith (believe me, I’ve tried. It just does not work for me) so I really understood where Charlie came from in his approach: his desire to believe and dive into the magic and his need for explanation and logic. In past years if he asked me a question I would reply with “well, what do YOU think?” If he believed then I went with it. This year, he did not. So I gave him the “Santa is a job, not a person” schpeel. I told him that a long long time ago there was a man who people called Santa and he brought gifts to children and was a really kind person and ever since people have taken on that job of Santa to spread joy and kindness to others through giving. And once you no longer believe the story of Santa, you can decide to take on the job of Santa yourself. That is why his dad and I play Santa in our house and now he could help. Guys, he was both relieved and thrilled. I think getting the truth was like a weight off for both of us. And he’s so excited to help be Santa for his little brothers. I did make sure to tell him that his brothers and other kids at school might still believe in the Santa story, and that he shouldn’t ruin the fun for others. He said “no, of course not!” Like, I didn’t even need to say a word to him — he was in on the Santa story and he was committed. And that’s how Santa gets you — because it really is about spreading joy and magic and it is infectious.
Until we moved to Ohio we took Charlie to see the same Santa at The Grove in LA every year for 6 years. Last year we weren’t going to see Santa but happened to stumble upon him and took advantage of it. But it just wasn’t the same. I found out that the Grove has a new Santa this year — the one we had seen for so many years passed away. While he wasn’t the jolliest Santa for sure (in fact, we often thought he was grumpy due to his lack of smile in most of the photos) he did bring my kids joy and magic for 6 years. He’ll always be Santa to us. RIP Grove Santa 🙁
This is the last Santa photo I have from when all of my kids believed. But I think this year’s photo is even more special because Charlie knew in his heart that Santa wasn’t who he had always been told and he jumped in that photo for his brothers anyways. Because he was already playing Santa in his heart <3
So that’s how we fessed up about Santa to our son. I think when your child starts asking questions it is important to ask them what they think (we do this about a lot of things: questions about God, religion, politics, etc.) and then explain that you don’t have all of the answers but you are always there to try to help them figure things out. You’ll know when it’s time and when your kiddo truly doesn’t believe anymore. And when that time comes, you can pass on the job of Santa to them and let them help make this time of year special to others. Charlie now hides our Elf on the Shelf for our younger children every night and it is the best. I never thought it would be more fun when my kid no longer believed in Santa, but honestly it is!
This photo is making me tear up a little though. Do your kids still believe in Santa? How have you or do you plan to deal with the Santa story? I’d also be curious how people who don’t celebrate Christmas deal with Santa in their homes — how do you explain why some kids get a visit or believe in him?
This post is written in partnership with Baby Dove, but the opinions and experience are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors who help me to bring you content here at Oh Lovely Day.
I think moms are feeling more and more pressure to present themselves in perfect little squares these days. Perfect lighting, matching jammies, clean homes, all white kitchens, and definitely no messes shown on social media. Ever! It affects all of us, but new moms are especially prone to social media pressure and anxiety. Although piles of dirty laundry, tantrums in public and the realistic issues that parents face aren’t typically included in Instagram’s trending photos, they are the realities that most parents face on a daily basis. While social media generally only presents a highlight reel of life, Baby Dove wants to celebrate the REAL moments and showcase the beauty in the realness of modern-day motherhood. I’m proud to be partnering with them, because you know I am all about keeping it real and have no problem sharing the highs and lows of motherhood with you. That’s what inspired my creation of #battlefieldmotherhood. So I gathered up a collection of photos that I love because of the moments they capture, but actually hesitated sharing initially because they don’t look insta-worthy or might disrupt a cohesive feed of squares.Read More
This post is sponsored by Upparent but the opinions are my own.
My favorite thing about the holidays is having the chance to spend time with loved ones and create family traditions together. But this time of year can also get busy and go by fast, so to make sure we really enjoy the holidays and have lots of family fun, I like to make a list of ideas of activities that I’d like to do before the new year. And this year I incorporated the list into our advent calendar. If you don’t do advent calendars you can just call it a countdown to Christmas or Hanukkah or winter solstice or whatever your family celebrates. Here are some of my favorite ideas for family fun this holiday season, which you can tailor depending on which holidays you celebrate, where you live, and your favorite family traditions. For inspiration on local holiday events happening near you, check out Upparent, a great new resource for parents that shares conversations about family-friendly products, destinations, and events — all in one place. And don’t miss their fun giveaway at the bottom of the post.
1. Go see a local production of The Nutcracker.
2. Make an ornament to hang on your Christmas tree, and then decorate the tree as a family.
3. Have a family gelt hunt and share the story of Hanukkah.
4. Make hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows or go out for hot cocoa at your favorite local coffee shop.
5. Take the kiddos to sit on Santa’s lap (we always went to see the same Santa at the Grove when we lived in Los Angeles, so we’re still looking for our new local Santa tradition here in Columbus and hoping Upparent can hook us up with a good option.)
6. Watch a favorite holiday movie or show your kids one of the holiday cartoons you grew up with like Frosty the Snowman or A Charlie Brown Christmas.
7. Start an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ tradition.
8. Make holiday cookies together – even the littlest hands can help. Bonus points for delivering them to a neighbor or someone who could use a little holiday cheer.
9. Download a favorite holiday song and have a family sing-a-long or dance party. Our family’s favorite is Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.
10. Go to the movies (The Grinch is a great kid-friendly holiday movie this year!)
11. Make gifts or handmade cards for teachers, your mail carrier, neighbors, dog walkers, or anyone you want to say an extra “thank you” to.
12. Walk or drive around to see Christmas lights in the neighborhood.
13. Have each of your children choose one of his or her toys to donate to a less fortunate child or go shopping to buy a toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
14. Sit around the fireplace and share your favorite family memories from the year or favorite holiday memories from past years.
15. Make a popcorn garland together.
16. Read your favorite holiday story (like The Night Before Christmas) as a family.
17. Go ice skating, or if you’re lucky enough to get snow, make a snowman, go sledding, or have a snowball fight (or all of the above!)
18. Go to a nearby amusement park or zoo to see the holiday decorations. In Los Angeles, we went to Disneyland at Christmastime each year. Our new tradition here in Columbus is to go see Zoo Lights at the Columbus Zoo. They put on such a great light show and have other fun holiday events and activities. We even got to meet Rudolph, we drank hot cocoa, and it is definitely our new favorite family-friendly holiday tradition in Columbus.
19. Get matching holiday pajamas each year and wear them on Christmas Eve.
20. Give back as a family: participate in a toy or coat drive, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or ring the Salvation Army bell.
21. Write a letter to Santa with your child.
22. Host a Christmukkah party for family and friends: candy canes and cocoa, latkes, and other mixed traditions can be incorporated.
23. Go to a nearby Tree Farm and choose a beautiful real Christmas tree together and chop it down.
24. Get a family photo together during the holiday season: by the Christmas tree, wearing ugly sweaters, playing in the snow.
25. Make a gingerbread house with your family.
If you are looking for more family-friendly ideas, activities and local events near you, Upparent is a great source for inspiration. Since we are newer to Columbus this is how I have found lots of the fun local things we have done as a family. If you aren’t yet familiar with it, Upparent is the new online destination for parents seeking inspiration from other parents about family-friendly recommendations. It is like having a conversation with your mom friends about things to do, places to go, and products to try, but it is online all in one place so it is easy to browse and find new inspiration. You can recommend your own favorites as well!
And Upparent wants to give your family $500 to make your holiday season brighter and help you have even more fun. Enter below to win a $500 Amazon Gift Card!
What are your favorite holiday family fun ideas? What will you be doing with your family this holiday season?
This post is sponsored by Upparent.
The winter holiday season can be such a special time for many families, but can be tricky or even isolating for others. It depends what your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) is, what your own childhood was like, and so many more factors that come into play this time of year. I was raised in a Christian faith (Catholic) but my husband and I have chosen not to raise our kids in a religious household, preferring instead a spiritual path of kindness, love, nature, and being a good human without the religiously institutionalized rules. In truth, we’re agnostics who want to raise good humans to learn about every religion and way of thinking and make their own decisions about what their heart tells them is true and to be more accepting of all people than we often see (or saw growing up) in some religious communities. Don’t get me wrong — I think there is so much that is wonderful about the community you find at church, the lovely rituals and traditions, and the overall idea behind Christianity. But much of the rules and teachings aren’t something that align with our personal social values or what feels right in our hearts as what is right for our family (but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for yours and we respect that too!). So Christmas can be tricky for us, because we don’t celebrate it as Christians. Instead, we use it as a time to talk about giving and service to others, slowing down and spending time with family, and as a teaching tool to learn about what it means to others. But I still like to incorporate Christmas traditions that my husband and I both had growing up (Santa, a Christmas tree, an advent calendar with service projects and family fun activities, etc) into our own family celebration.
Because we don’t default to the Nativity/Jesus’s birthday story, I like to find books that we can read as a family to explain both that concept as well as other religious celebrations like Hanukkah, Kwanza, Diwali, as well as things like the winter solstice. I thought I would share some books that we love (or that are in my cart right now to add to our library this year) that share a variety of stories, a diverse look at the winter holidays, and that give you more than just Jesus and Santa (although they are included too). Some of our more “traditional” favorites are pictured above as well, but I think many of those are well-known and in many of your holiday libraries already. I hope some of the recs below introduce you to a new story that your family will love:
- A World of Cookies For Santa — a look at how the Santa tradition is done in different countries across the globe.
- Christmas Around the World — different stories about how Christmas is celebrated around the world
- Refuge: a new spin on the Nativity story, focusing on Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus as refugees who had to rely on the kindness of others for survival and protection (very topical and a good way to talk to your kids about the current refugee crisis at our southern border.)
- Oskar and the Eight Blessings — a lovely story about a refugee boy, Hanukkah, and acts of kindness
- The Diwali Gift
- The Little Reindeer
- Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins — a classic Hanukkah tale that has lessons of courage, faith, and keeping a good sense of humor even when the world around you is a scary place.
- The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice
- Amma, Tell Me About Diwali
- The Tomten — classic story of the Tomten’s nocturnal visits to all of the residents of wintry farm has been reminding children of the promise of spring for decades.
- Hanukkah Bear: interesting facts about the history and traditions of Hanukkah weaved within a sweet story, and a latke recipe is included!
- Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children
- The Lump of Coal (for older kiddos who no longer believe in Santa or if you don’t do Santa in your home)
- The Nutcracker
- Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving: A Christmas Story
- Polar Express
- Night Tree — a story about a family who decorates the same tree each year for the forrest animals, rather than cutting one down each year
- Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanza Story
- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story — a story that teaches about the strength and courage of a family and the true spirit of Christmas
What are your favorite holiday books, traditional, religious, or more inclusive of all celebrations? We love adding to our library. Do you have any of these books? Do you do alternative Christmas or winter holiday celebrations? I’d love to hear about all of your experiences!
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