April 16, 2014

Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

How often do you truly take time to reflect on the year gone by? Wedding anniversaries offer a special occasion to reflect on your year of love - all the trial, tribulations and triumphs you've overcome with your significant other. - it's a day to celebrate when you proclaimed your love and committed yourself to your partner. And if you're anything like me I wish I could relive that day over and over again. 

Luckily my husband always does a great job of making our anniversary a special day, so I get to relive the memories at least once a year. We normally do dinner and gifts and we spend time talking about our family and friends that celebrated with us when I wore my white dress. Our wedding day was one of the most special days of my life and I remember it with very fond memories. It seems like almost yesterday that I walked down the aisle. Which is why it's crazy to me that we're about to celebrate our three-year wedding anniversary at the end of the month. S
o in honor of anniversaries I've put together a gift guide of traditional anniversary gifts.

First Wedding Anniversary

The traditional first wedding anniversary gift is paper. If you're looking for some great first year wedding anniversary gifts you could always get:
  • Wedding pictures or a wedding album
  • Personalized stationary
  • A coffee table travel book and tickets to visit that destination
  • Tickets for a date night (movies, tickets to the zoo, broadway, a sporting event...)

Second Year Wedding Anniversary

The traditional second wedding anniversary gift is cotton. Some second year wedding anniversary gift include:
  • Sheets - monogrammed or not who doesn't love to cuddle up in new sheees?
  • A Stay at the Cotton Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Minnesota. This place looks incredible and so romantic.
  • Night wear, like cotton pajamas, a robe...

Third Anniversary - Gift Ideas

The traditional third wedding anniversary gift is leather. Who doesn't love leather? Some great third anniversary gift ideas include:
  • Furniture - A beautiful leather chair or love seat could be cherished for years
  • Shoes
  • A handbag
  • Travel accessories, with the added bonus of travel tickets inside of course
For all of you celebrating an anniversary congratulations on a year of love. 

Do you have any great ideas for the fourth year wedding anniversary, which is fruit and flowers - I need to start shopping now!

Don't forget to take advantage of the April's ad space special and save 30% off all ad options with code THIRTY.

Be Blessed,
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April 10, 2014

Take Her Word for It

When you're buying a new car you might ask your friends for advice. When you need a great outfit for a night out, an honest girl friend is one of the best accessories. It's no different when you're a mom. Sometimes it's best to ask one of your mom friends for some pointers. Which is why I'm so excited to have Hayley on the blog today to discuss some helpful items to have around when you're raising a toddler. So with further ado, please welcome Hayley to Everyday Thoughts. 

Hi, everyone! My name is Hayley and I normally hang out over at A Beautiful Exchange, my little spot for sharing all my passions and interests! I'm a married mom of a one, to a little boy that's just a few months older than Brittany's son, so for today, I'm sharing a few of my favorite products that are helping me survive toddlerhood! These aren't needs but are some fun little things that have been a great help and convenience to me! 

A small backpack.
I don't have the specific link for the site where I bought my son's backpack, but you can find similar products all over Etsy and little boutiques! I have also heard great things about the Skip Hop Zoo Packs that are sold online and at Target! No matter which backpacks you like the most, I suggest getting something that is large enough to comfortably hold diapers, wipes, a cup, snacks, and possibly a toy or two, yet still small enough that your toddler will eventually be able to carry it on their own. My son is two and can comfortably wear his backpack on his back, although he prefers for me to carry it--go figure! This has been a life saver and keeping my purse mine, rid of smashed up gold fish and spoiled juice. Be sure to choose a bag with a liner so that if spills do happen, it doesn't ruin the outside of the bag!

TOMS (or another pair of extremely versatile shoes)
I bought Eli his first pair of TOMS off of Zulily when he was 18 months old and just began walking and they were amazing! It was so nice to have a simple pair of shoes that he could comfortably walk in. Now that he is much older, I have bought him another pair. They are the best shoes because they can literally be worn with anything. They look just fine with a pair of play shorts and a t-shirt, but also look great with a pair of jeans and a button down. The only other pair of shoes that have been so versatile were a pair of hand-me-down Chuck Taylors. I also love that my son will eventually be able to slide these shoes on all by himself! Yippee!

Baby Bjorn feeding bib
I mentioned this here when talking about the 10 best and worst baby products, and I can honestly say that I am shocked that we still use this! I originally bought it to help us when we were bottle weaning and teaching our little guy how to eat solids. You mommas know that it can get so messy and using cloth bibs was just not working out for us. I did a little research and found this one. To this day, my two year old uses this, especially when he is eating things that are a little more difficult to get on his utensils (spaghetti, oatmeal, etc.) and we will use this at home until he gets used to feeding himself completely. The adjustable strap is really the key to this bib working so well and is definitely a must have, whether you are making the switch to solids, or teaching your little to self-feed.

DOHM sound machine
When I left for college, my mom bought me one of these sound machines just in case I had loud neighbors. I most certainly did have a few loud peeps in the dorms, so this sound machine was a life saver! When we had our son, I moved the machine into his room to help soothe him to sleep and drown out some of the louder noises that may have been going on outside of his room. I don't know that this machine has really been a necessity, but I have really enjoyed having it--especially when we travel! It's so lightweight and small and does wonders for helping our little guy get to sleep even when he's away from home!


I know these are not really "needs," but they have been things that have been so nice to have and have really made my job a lot easier! What are some of your favorite products for toddlers?

For those of you that are interested, my little guy just turned two and we are celebrating on the blog with 30% off any ad purchase! I would be honored to have you! :)

April 8, 2014

Tips for Choosing Child Care

I'm a working mom and one of the biggest decisions my husband and I have made as parents is deciding who to leave our child with while we're at work. There are so many different options when it comes to child care and the first step to deciding what's the best option for you and your family is to understand your options. We considered four different types of child care:

Au Pair or Live in Nanny - This person lives in your home and cares for your children throughout the day and usually does some of the household duties like meal preparation, light cleaning and/or laundry. While they are visible to the children longer they should be given a set schedule so that they have personal time away from their child care responsibilities. Normally when you're negotiating a salary/fee for an au pair or live in nanny you also include room and board.

Nanny - A nanny will typically come to your residence and care for your children during the specified hours. Typically they're more expensive than In Home Care or Day Care options but they also provide much more, personal child care since, in most circumstances, they only care for one family at a time. However, with a nanny and a live in option, you are limited if your provider takes vacation or becomes sick.

In-home Care - This is when you take your child to someone else's home and they watch them there. You're typically responsible for the child's drop off and pick up. Most of the time this is the most reasonable option, cost wise, and with some searching you can find some truly amazing in-home care options with providers that will work closely with your child on their individual developmental goals.

Day Care - A day care is an organization that specializes in the care of multiple children at one time. You drop off and pick up at their designated location. These organizations typically have several classrooms each hosting a different age group. Oftentimes they have a planned curriculum but it's geared to larger groups of children as opposed to individualized learning. It's a much more social environment as opposed to the nanny options since there are several children of similar ages and education levels.

In addition to the traditional day care options there are part-time Mommy's Day out and church care providers, which can offer a variety of options depending on the location.

We've utilized a variety of these options for our little guy. He was a premie, so after his early arrival we were uncomfortable sending him to daycare, so we enlisted the help of a nanny. Simply put, she was amazing with our little guy. He loved spending time with her and we had every confidence that he loved our son. She worked with us on very individualized, developmental plan for our son and she took him on trips to the library for reading time and Gymboree for some physical activities.

After a year at home we were ready as a family for our son to start day care so he could start interacting with other children his age. After about three months we're thrilled with our decision since we've seen our son make huge strides, literally. He has quickly taken to standing independently and he's moments away from his first steps.

We did choose to switch to a new day care three weeks ago for a variety of reasons, another decision we're very pleased with.

If you're considering day care options here are some things you'll want to consider:

  • Location
  • Price
  • Class size and teach ratio
  • Age divisions / How are the rooms divided
  • Sick policy
  • Vacation time - do you, as the parents, have any "free" days without pay if your child doesn't attend
  • Teachers and curriculum
  • Hours of operation
  • Amenities - for example, they provide wipes and diaper rash cream
  • Field trip options / Extra curricular

Choosing childcare is difficult and there's never a one-size fits all solution for any family. My suggestion, do your research and trust your gut. If you're ever unsatisfied with your child's care for any reason don't hesitate to explore your other options.

Today I'm linking up with Kristen from mama & mou

Finally (and completely unrelated), don't forget to take advantage of the April's ad space special and save 30% off all ad options with code THIRTY

Be Blessed,
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April 2, 2014

I Have Whiplash

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

The Kardashians have glamorized fake eyelashes and every day women are trying to emulate the Hollywood look. They're using mascaras, serums and falsies trying tot create the illusion of long, full lashes. I've tried several of these things myself with great results. But until now, I hadn't found anything that naturally helped my lashes look more dramatic. 

This is more than just a pretty pink contraption. This baby gives lashes a beautiful curl and you don't have to worry about pinching the super sensitive skin around your eyes. Plus it has an ergonomic handle and it comes with plenty of extra cushioned pads. 

For a beautiful curl start at the root of your lashes, press down the curler for 10-12 seconds and then move down your lashes repeating the process until you get to the tips. Apply your mascara and have confidence all day long that you have beautiful curled lashes. 

Here are my results:

Be Blessed,
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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

April 1, 2014

Busy Family French Dip Sandwich

Happy April Fools! I don't have any jokes today because I'm really not much of a prankster. Short of replacing the sugar with the salt, I never have any ideas. Do you have any last-minute prank suggestions I can use on my hubby? 

I've mentioned before that I'm a busy, working mom so it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm always on the lookout for fast, family-friendly meals. During the week, French Dip Sandwiches are one of my all-time favorites. My husband's a huge fan of French Dips and after several attempts, I've finally perfected them. They're simple, delicious and only five ingredients.

Ingredients (for 2 sandwiches):
2 Bakery-style Hoagie Rolls
3/4 lb. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
1/4 lb. Provolone Cheese
1 Package of AuJus 
Horseradish Sauce

Preparation Instructions:
Prepare the AuJus according to the package instructions. Once the AuJus is throughly heated throughout add the roast beef and turn to low heat. Let the roast beef heat all the way through, about 3-4 minutes depending on how thick the beef is sliced.

Slice the bread and place it under a 500-degree top broiler with 2-3 slices of provolone cheese. Once the cheese melts and the edges of the bread are slightly brown, remove it from the oven and pile on the beef. 

Add a drizzle of horseradish sauce to top it off and then slice the sandwich. 

Don't forget to make a small bowl of AuJus for dipping! 

It's simple and delicious but best of all, it's a weeknight favorite. 

If you're looking for some other simple week-night recipes here are some more of my favorites: Crockpot Turkey, Crockpot Rump Roast and Zucchini, Pepper and Onion Frittata 

Be Blessed,
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