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Minted and the Holidays

Disclosure: I received compensation to complete this review, however, all opinions listed and expressed are completely my own. 

The other day at the store, I heard my son whisper to my daughter, “uh oh, Santa and the elves are starting to watch us.” When I asked him what he was talking about, he pointed at the big holiday displays. Oh yes…Christmas is upon us! Now don’t hate me, but I have started my Christmas shopping, crafts, and have started looking at holiday cards. A couple of my photographer friends have mentioned loving Minted and cards that I received last year designed by them totally struck me as high quality, great products. Here are some of my favorites from the Minted Holiday collection. Oh and to avoid any mommy brain mistakes, please know that they do have designer review, proofing, and a final customer review. Phew…doesn’t get any better than that! I am so impressed by their hundreds of designs…honestly, I could look through their site forever (and just about did as I was getting inspiration for my own holiday card!).

Here are some of my favorite cards. I would love to hear your favorites as well! Oh and if anyone has any suggestions on how to get three kids to smile for holiday cards, I am all ears as well:)

I love this one, simple but such a classic look:


Modern Archive Holiday Photo Cards


Another one, and loving the heart shape…and the option for multiple pictures (that might solve my problem!):

Complete Love Holiday Photo Cards


And my absolute favorite, the wreath card:

Monogram Wreath Holiday Photo Cards

One foot in front of the other…

Tonight, I would love to share with you a little challenge I have set up for myself…its been a while since I focused on “Celebrating Moms Thursdays”, which is a bit reflective of how life gets sometimes, I suppose!

A few weeks ago, my husband called me with an idea – “how about we sign up for a 5K?” I said sure, to appease him, and figured the conversation would die, and we would be back to eating ice cream that night. We had talked about doing a race together back in our dating days. I always wanted to run one…I think my SIL who ran the New York City marathon 11 months after having a baby is simply amazing, and I am always inspired by how she seems to run forever with ease.  I always wanted to be like that, but to be honest, never knew how to start. I mean, I like to exercise and be “in shape”, but there has been a pretty big hurdle of getting back into things after baby. When I finally have the chance to sit, it is tough – do you sit, or do you get up and exercise? A couple of minutes later my phone conversation, I had an email in my inbox from my husband, which said, “I signed us up”….when I looked further, I realized that the 5K he signed us up for was December 7th. Crap.

One foot in front of the otherAfter a day of nerves, I started to get kind of excited. How often do I set goals for myself these days to accomplish – especially physical goals. Pretty much never…I know what I want to weigh, or what size jeans I want to fit in to…but that’s kind of the extent of it. Last year I did a boot camp challenge at a local gym, and it felt great. I realized this 5K was a goal…and one that I had to get into the right physical shape to meet. We are super fortunate in our town to have a gorgeous trail to run on. I usually walk the trail, but running it has been a new, awesome experience. I am able to lose myself when running…to think, and to just breathe in the fresh air.  I chose to work with a running coach to get me to put one foot in front of the other, and “teach” me how to run, which has been perfect for me. She encourages me, tells me – yes, you are going to keep going, and when to kick it into gear.

Today, I was able to run…actually run 3.2 miles – running 1.56, taking a 60 second recovery walk, and then running 1.64 miles. My fastest mile was 9 min and 45 seconds, and the slowest was 10 min, 22 seconds. I think I am going to be able to do this…and my goal has to beat my husband (don’t tell him…). We’ll see how it goes.


I read a quote recently which said:

“Dead last is greater than did not finish, which trumps did not start.”

So….I got started, and I am ok if I come in dead last, as long as I finish.


Have you set any goals for yourself recently? Anything you are challenging yourself with? I would love to hear:)

Anne - November 7, 2013 - 11:32 pm

You’ll do great! You’ll get addicted. As I posted on FB, I love to run. I still try to run (but definitely toned down) while pregnant. I want to do a 10K when this new one is 6 months, so about a year from now, and then a half when she turns a year. Running to me is relaxing, and it’s my favorite alone time. But I guarantee if you do a 5K, you’ll think “Oh that wasn’t too bad” and keep signing up for more and more races!

Melissa @ Fit 'n' Well Mommy - November 9, 2013 - 12:08 am

Congrats on the goal setting! You will do great at your race and I can’t wait to hear all about it and your training journey! I can so relate about the struggle of wanting to sit when you finally have the chance, instead of getting up and working out. It’s hard after baby, but the feeling of accomplishment after you finished a workout is the best!

The only goal I have set for myself is to continue doing CrossFit up until the day I deliver (I’m currently 25 weeks pregnant with baby #2). After the baby arrives, my first goal will be to get back into CrossFit and get back into shape. We’ll see…

admin - November 9, 2013 - 7:55 am

Thanks so much! What a great goal for you as well – it will certainly make it easier to recover! Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!! And one of each now, right?! :)

admin - November 9, 2013 - 7:56 am

What a great goal! Congratulations again on your pregnancy…so excited for you!

Marriage Forgetful Moments

This weekend, my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary…6 years. Which doesn’t seem long at all, but when we think about all that has happened in those 6 years – it is bonkers. Graduating grad school, buying a house, having three children, managing job changes…Lordy. Headspinning!

My husband is definitely the “Better Half” of our marriage. The reasonable one, the funny one, the patient one, and let’s be honest…the nice one. The patience factor, especially as I learn to manage this momma to three gig, has been huge.  Last night, I was talking about all the dopey things that I have done this week, and said “honestly, I used to totally have my act together.” He laughed…and informed me that was never really the case. He reminded me of my first marriage mess up….


We were in Hawaii for our honeymoon. The most beautiful place…with gorgeous sunsets, lush greenery, and perfection everywhere you looked.

Hawaiian Sunset

A perfect sunset picture from our honeymoon…

After a couple of days in Maui, we went to Kauai. We planned to stay two days in one part, and then were moving to a new hotel in Princeville for the rest of our stay.  I have always been the efficient packer in our relationship (or maybe he has convinced me that I am, so I always pack for our trips)…so when we were moving hotels, I packed up our clothes while he brought things out to the car, and off we went to Princeville. As we were getting ready for dinner that night, my husband started looking for his shirts, then his pants. We came to quickly realize that he was missing a TON of clothing. We checked the car to make sure we had all the suitcases (we did), and I then realized everything was a little easier to pack this time around…and our suitcases were certainly a little lighter.  We called the hotel, and drove the hour back there to see what we had left. They had packed up everything into a bag for us…um, a massive size garbage bag. It had just about all of his clothes in it. I only packed the clothes which were shared in one of my drawers. I failed my first “wife” duty, and literally did not pack up 2 of the drawers, or anything he had hanging in his closet. WHOOPS.

So to my husband…thank you always for your patience and laughter. And maybe someday we’ll look as tan and well-rested as we once did…Happy early Anniversary!

Marriage Forgetfulness

Do you have any marriage mess ups to share that you and your spouse laugh at now? Please tell me I am not the only one!:)

Sharing our Thankfuls

It’s November. Seriously – November. Out of no where came the bare trees, winter jackets, and talk of the holidays. I feel like time is passing so quickly. Probably because we are on the other half of my maternity leave…the weeks seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. Not getting teary yet. Yet. I know it is coming, big time. I digress.

My kids are getting to the ages where they appreciate the holidays so much more. After Halloween was over, we started talking about Thanksgiving, and what we would do to celebrate. I told them that our family would all come over, we would have a big turkey dinner, talk about what we were thankful for, and we would have the parade and football on the TV. My son said, so I guess we’ll just be thankful for a big dinner and football. Hm. That needed a little work.

I checked out Pinterest for ideas on how to start making Thanksgiving a little more real for them. I found lots of various types of turkeys, which were cute, but didn’t get my point across. I then came across an idea from Carina Gardner which had leaves where people would write what they were thankful for. The website had a great template if you are leaf-creating challenged (like I am).  I cut away, and placed the “leaves” on our table, planning to ask my son and daughter what they were thankful for each evening.

Sharing our Thankfuls


The first day – after writing down their answers, they asked my husband and I, “what are you guys thankful for?”  We answered, and then they asked what we thought their baby sister was thankful for. So…we now have a family leaf project, which we are all having so much fun with. The activity has been moved to the morning, because they quite simply cannot wait  until the night-time. Answers have varied – Sportscenter (my son, not my husband….), milk/OJ/water (my always parched 2 1/2-year-old, spending time with my family…but it has been so great to see what everyone comes up with every day. My favorite so far is when my son snuck downstairs to write his name on a leaf, followed by “mom” so I would be surprised when I came down in the morning. I could skip the part that he found the permanent marker to write it with, and got it all over the kitchen table, but you know we keep things real around here.:)

Sharing our Thankfuls

I am loving our thankful activity, and hopeful that it sets in by Thanksgiving that we have a lot more to be thankful for than Turkey and Football:)


What are you doing this November to focus on being “thankful”…or better yet, what would you write on a thankful leaf today?:)

Lauren - November 6, 2013 - 2:34 pm

I love this idea! I have had a hard time explaining the meaning of Thanksgiving to my son. I think something like this would definitely help. I think it’s so important for kids to understand how to appreciate their family, friends, and every day life. Thanks for sharing!

Ellie {Musing Momma} - November 6, 2013 - 8:22 pm

What a cute idea! I love it!
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admin - November 9, 2013 - 7:56 am

Thanks, Ellie!! :)

Five Lessons Learned Since the Allergy Diagnosis

Five Lessons Learned since the Allergy DiagnosisIt has been a couple of months since my son was diagnosed with allergies including the dreaded peanut allergy, along with tree nuts, cantaloupe, and finned fish. The past couple months have been a huge learning experience for us. We have read a ton about allergies, we have educated our son to empower him to take care of himself with his allergies when we are not with him, and we have done our best to keep him healthy, and reaction free! When I put up the original post about our allergy diagnosis, I received so many great pieces of advice from MMB readers who have lived with allergies in their house. I thought a “check in” would be helpful – so here are our five lessons learned since the allergy diagnosis.


1.  Search until you find the cause of a health problem

First off, it is amazing how much the allergy diagnosis brought clarity to our life, and drove home the pint if you think something is wrong with your child, keep searching until you find the answer. My son’s reaction to the foods above is to vomit. Finally, we had an answer to all the times that my son had thrown up over the years. The Thanksgiving he threw up (sweet potato casserole with nuts), the park play dates where he vomited everywhere (cantaloupe was my snack of choice to bring along…I thought he was over excited), and the baseball game where he lost it (buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks…or not!!).  We were so fortunate his reaction was vomiting, and not something more serious.  We always knew something was off, but couldn’t find the reason. Knowing now why he gets sick, is a complete relief. Heck, anything to clean up less bodily fluids is a good thing, right?:)


2. Reading labels is critical

Since my son was born, we have always used organic body soap. I thought we were doing a good thing, until the day after his diagnosis, my husband was reading the bottle, and saw all the nut products included. Nut oils in body wash, yes…so we switched to a different bath product, and the eczema we had battled for years went away in a couple of weeks. There are things we have bought for years (i.e. different kinds of ice cream), which we look at so much more closely now.


3. Becoming assertive about talking to others about allergies.

We have become very assertive about talking to others about our son’s allergies – asking teachers at school if they are trained in epi-pen use, checking if a babysitter would feel comfortable using an epi-pen, checking with people about every ingredient in a food product. While people at times would blow it off because he only throws up, we had to explain that the consequences could always be worse. We have to try to make sure that we are protecting him as much as possible. Even though he is not quite 5 yet, we are trying to empower him to ask questions, and be aware of his allergies as well. I have to say, this past weekend, when we were doing the Breast Cancer Awareness walk, and someone handed him a granola bar – I was so proud when he said the words “Does this have peanuts or tree nuts in it?  I am allergic.” The person gave him goldfish instead, but he still walked over, and checked with me before he ate them. Phew…


4. Educating our Friends and Family about Allergies

We have taken the time to become educated about our son’s allergies, but, we are not with him all the time…sometimes he is at school, with family, and more and more, starting to go on playdates, without me (so weird…). This past summer was the first time a non-family member drove my son somewhere. A friend took him to a birthday party, as I was just home from the hospital with the baby. I had looked up the facility online beforehand, and they were a no-nuts facility, but let’s be honest – you never know. I gave her the epi-pen, and a lesson when she picked him up at our house. I talked to her about his reactions signs, and I trusted. It was so hard to trust someone else, but, I know that our family and friends take his allergies as seriously as we do.


5. Always “being ready”

Once my son was potty trained, I felt the sigh of relief from my shoulders – they had a little less weight to carry in the diaper bag! With an almost 5-year-old, you can usually leave the house, without anything. We have had to train ourselves to always remember to have the epi-pen and Benadryl on hand. It does no good if we are at a playground and the epi-pen is in a drawer at home. This has been one of the hardest things to remember, because it is not always (and hopefully never!) needed, but we can not forget it.


These 5 lessons learned since the allergy diagnosis have been critical – we are working hard to manage this change in our lives, so that my son does not miss out, but also, does not get harmed in any way, from something avoidable.


Do any other parents out there have lessons that they learned along the way to share?


Bonnie - October 29, 2013 - 7:04 pm

What a learning curve!
How great that he has learned to ask these questions for himself…and at only five? I’m impressed!
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admin - October 29, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Thanks Bonnie – yes it has definitely been quite a learning curve. I am definitely proud that he has learned to ask the questions…it does help that he doesn’t like to get sick and wants to avoid it as much as possible!

Ann Marie - October 29, 2013 - 10:24 pm

My son has tree nut allergies and his lips swell up when he eats certain fruits such as watermelon and bananas. (Figures – healthy things he can’t eat but he does just fine with potato chips!) :P Stinks when you are trying to put some weight on him through eating healthy foods — unfortunately even protein bars all have nuts.
One thing I always thought was strange (hopefully this isn’t TMI – I breast fed my oldest, and with my twins it was formula. Guess who has the allergies…. yep, the oldest. (!!!)
Awesome that your son is so aware of his allergies at such a young age!! I’m not surprised though. You have pretty fantastic kids!!

admin - October 30, 2013 - 8:26 am

protein and granola bars are super scary to me! I stopped keeping them in the house because I found all of them had something scary in them!!!!
There is no such thing as tmi on here…but I did breastfeed both my son and middle daughter…the only differene I had was that I made my daughters baby food and did jars for my son…I always wondered about that too!!! I don’t know if we will ever find out what caused it :(

Amy Kossoff Smith - October 30, 2013 - 8:30 am

So sorry to hear you have this added challenge, but so happy you’re sharing your learning with other parents. We have 2 very close family friends (kids) with nut allergies plus a relative, so I’ve taken this very seriously. What I can say is this…When the kids are young (maybe 12 and under), the parent piece is really critical – reading labels, understanding what to do “in case,” etc., but I do recommend you include the kids in this process, “Johnny, help me read this label – you’re such a great reader – read it first, and let me know if you see any nuts mentioned, and then I’ll check too.” That way, you’re weaning the kid toward self-advocacy, which in the teen years, they will do beautifully. One girlfriend gave her kid a laminated card with guidelines so he could learn to help himself. Good luck, and stay safe…
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Ellie {Musing Momma} - November 1, 2013 - 9:51 pm

Wow – it is really amazing how a diagnosis can shed light on things! I can’t believe his eczema was related to nut oils in the soap. I NEVER would have thought of that! It sounds like you guys have learned so much since then. He’s lucky to have such conscientious parents. :)
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