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About the author  ⁄ Angela Amman

Long ago, in a world before iPads, Angela attempted to convince middle school students that writing workshops were just as exciting as perfecting the art of texting through your pocket. She blogs at Angela Amman, where she reviews books and captures the craziness and beauty that weave together in our lives to create something extraordinary. After reading in Listen to Your Mother 2013, Angela is thrilled to be one of a trio of women bring Listen to Your Mother to Metro Detroit in 2014, for Michigan's first LTYM performance.You are always welcome to hang out with her at Write on Edge, where she's the managing editor of a fabulous writing community. Her writing has been featured at AllParenting, Moonfrye and BlogHer. Her short stories have appeared in her collection Nothing Goes Away and in the anthologies Metaphysical Gravity, Echoes in Darkness and Precipice, Volume 2.

Disclosure: Post sponsored by Sunbeam Products, Inc. but all opinions are my own. 

Last spring I began going to a local barre studio and discovered how much I love working out in group classes. For years I spent my workout time in solo pursuits, running on the treadmill, ducking into the small weight room at the gym running through our neighborhood or on nearby trails, and I was a little surprised by how much inspiration I found by surrounding myself with strong, enthusiastic women. Their energy and support make getting up well before dawn worth it, and the classes are a part of my morning that set the tone for my day. I can’t imagine giving them up.

How Heat Therapy Can Help With Your Workout

Adding workouts meant adding muscle soreness

I missed running, though. I missed checking off miles for a training schedule, seeing the sun rise over the horizon and matching the pounding of my feet to the beating of my heart and the music in my earbuds. Slowly, I began adding runs after my classes and on the weekends. The combination of classes and running provide the balance I crave in my days, but they also push my body to limits I haven’t felt in many years. As I contemplate training for a half-marathon, I know I’ll be adding more and more miles to my schedule, and my muscles are already complaining a bit. 

Heat therapy for pain relief

My foam roller and I are developing a close, personal relationship, but I also find heat to be a huge relief, especially on my lower back. Heat has been found as an effective, fast and natural way of helping to alleviate muscle pain and soreness, and for that same reason, Sunbeam® pain relief products use heat as a solution to assist with pain and discomfort, helping increase blood flow to sore areas for muscle relaxation and faster healing. Sunbeam® heat therapy will help you “feel the ahh,” and you can combat your aches and pain in a quick, non-invasive and drug free way. Like me, you might discover heat therapy will be the key to #FindYourAhh. 

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The benefits of the Sunbeam® King Size XpressHeat™ Heating Pad

The Sunbeam® King Size XpressHeat™ Heating Pad now lives next to my couch, because the XpressHeat™ Heating Pad technology helps provide fast heat in 30 seconds for quick relief. The heat-therapy helps increase blood flow to sore areas for muscle relaxation and faster healing. I don’t always know when I’ll have time to sit with the heating pad, and the super quick heat time means I can turn it on and grab a few minutes of relief without waiting much time at all for the pad to get warm. In addition, I appreciate the following qualities of the Sunbeam® King Size XpressHeat™ Heating Pad:

  • Soft microplush, fully washable pad
  • Can be used with dry or moist heat
  • Digital controller with LCD display
  • 6 heat-settings
  • Select hour auto-off
  • XL size for more coverage
  • Measures 12″ x 24″
  • 5-year limited warranty

Are you interested in trying heat therapy for any aches and pains you’re experiencing? Use the code SASSYMOM to receive 20% off Sunbeam products through 10/10/16. We’re also giving away a Sunbeam Heating Pad to one lucky reader. Enter for your chance to win. Official rules can be found here.

Sunbeam

Post sponsored by Sunbeam Products, Inc. Opinions are 100% my own.

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Money matters seemed simple — before kids

Before we had kids, I was pretty sure my husband and I had our financial ducks in an impressive row. Of course our ducks were bolstered by a double income household, a starter home mortgage and one partner who finds spreadsheets, budgets and the stock market to be interesting pastimes.

kids and finances

Having kids complicated matters.

We didn’t start our family without thinking about the financial aspect of it, at least a little bit. Maybe we thought about it a lot, since both of us are planners. Reading about the potential costs of raising kids gave us an idea of how things would change, but reading about something and living it are totally different things.

How kids changed our financial planning strategy

We were prepared for the increase in food costs, but we hadn’t thought too much about how much more important organic food would become to us once our little ones started eating. We’d thought about college funds, but extracurricular activities began to add up more quickly than we thought.

You can calculate the cost of diapers, but it’s hard to figure out how to budget for the mid-week take-out you finally ordered because your potty-training toddler went through sixteen pairs of underwear and your favorite rug in a single day. All of a sudden, what we thought we knew about budgeting, saving and planning for our financial future seemed a little hazy.

Wescom Credit Union

Financial education with Wescom Credit Union

Thankfully, we came across Wescom Credit Union and we were happy to find some great tools to help families take charge of their finances. The Southern California Credit Union is approaching finances from different angles than that of traditional banks, including mobile banking events, complimentary financial consulting and even a newly launched Did You Know? Financial Education Portal on their site with helpful information for everyone from millennials to boomers.

Wescom Credit Union

The Big Blue Mobile Branch might be in your Southern California neighborhood soon, simplifying the banking world one person at a time. Wescom is committed to taking the intimidation out of banking and helping people in all stages of life find their own comfort zone with their finances. Learning banking basics has lifelong benefits, and it’s never too late — or early! — to become money-smart.

Wescom helps families plan for their futures

In addition to increased take-out orders, having kids changed our parenting finances in a way we hadn’t anticipated. As a middle school teacher, we calculated my family leave and thought about formula costs in case pumping didn’t work for me. However, after having our daughter and planning for our second child, we talked about the possibility of me staying home with our kids for a while.

Wescom has a tool that would have helped us quickly see how our finances would look without my income. Though I’ve already made that particular decision, there are several resources on their website, including budget tools like this Household Cash Flow Tracker, savings resources and a retirement section.

Families obviously aren’t the only ones who can benefit from learning about budgeting, saving and how to manage debt, and Wescom has something for everyone!

How did having kids change your financial comfort zone?
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Easy dinner ideas

By the end of the week, the last thing I want to do is make dinner — especially during the summer. If you try one of these amazing recipes each Friday this summer, you’ll be set until it’s time to go back to school in the fall! We know you’re going to love these easy dinner ideas!

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Light summer meals

On hot summer nights you might not be in the mood for a heavy dinner, or you might feel like putting together several lighter dishes for your own little tapas night.

Caprese Avocado Toast from With Salt and Wit is easy enough to be a snack and filling enough to be a meal. If you have a garden, you can use some of your own ingredients in this one, which makes the dinner just a little more special.

Call Me PMC took the classic flavors of a Cuban sandwich and reimagined the sandwich as an appetizer. Cuban Sandwich on a Stick is adorable — and filled with protein. Kids will love the little pickles, and eating finger foods for dinner is always a hit at our house.

The Berry Basil Salad from Jeanie and Lulu’s Kitchen takes full advantage of summer’s berry abundance. The homemade dressing really brings out the flavors of the berries while keeping the fruit salad light and fresh tasting.

The Easy Steak and Vegetable Flatbread Pizza from Cotter Crunch is gluten-free, making it a fabulous option if you keep a gluten-free kitchen. Summer’s fresh veggies truly make this pizza a nutritious, flavorful meal.

Food Fanatic offers a Quinoa Chicken Salad that will quickly become one of your favorite dishes — and maybe the most versatile. You can make it with leftover chicken from a meal earlier in the week, or you can make a double batch and use the leftovers for lunches. The recipe lets you tweak the ingredients to meet your food preferences, which is wonderful for exploring the variety of summer produce available.

Easy dinners from the grill

Not only is grilling a simple way to pack a punch of flavor into your meal, spending time outside while you’re cooking makes the most of summer weather.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Pizza is quick and delicious. It uses chicken instead of ham, and grilled pineapple is one of the tastiest ways to serve the fruit. You’ll love the added sweetness offered in this simple pizza, courtesy of Real Food by Dad‘s secret ingredient.

Natalie’s Food & Health suggests a Turkey burger with greek yogurt topping that’s both beautiful and packed with healthy flavors like dill. Even her husband approves of this one, making it perfect for grilling for friends who are hesitant to try a healthier burger.

Put a twist on taco night

Taco night stays on our dinner menu all year; it’s one of the meals each of us can customize to our liking and leave the dinner table happy. Changing the ingredients and flavors slightly this summer will keep things fresh without abandoning a favorite meal.

Living Sweet Moments makes Baked Chicken Taquitos that might take the place of traditional tacos at our house. Salsa verde is a fresh taste for summer, and the avocado crema is an amazing addition you’ll want to use on everything in your refrigerator.

The Buffalo Chicken Tacos from Spiced incorporate the ever-popular buffalo chicken flavor with the ease of tacos. Cook the chicken in your slow cooker and make dinner time even easier. We think the blue cheese crumbles are a perfect topping, but offering shredded cheddar to kids never hurts.

Taco night isn’t complete with guacamole, and i heart eating offers a flavorful treat in her Roasted Garlic Guacamole. Let’s be honest, on some summer evenings, a hearty guacamole, chips — and our favorite Champagne Margaritas — can be an entire dinner.

Add international flavor to start your weekend

Whether you’re mimicking your family’s favorite takeout location or trying something new, sampling new cuisine is a fun way to change up your meal plan.

Once you try the Sesame Chicken from It’s a Sparkly Life, you might never go back to take out again. You can create this in under 30 minutes, which will actually save you time unless you have a lightning fast delivery service in your area.

A Duck’s Oven tempts your tastebuds with her Slow Cooker Haitian Pork. This amazing dish does take a little prep time earlier in your week, but once it’s ready to go, the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you.

Stir fry is definitely one of our go-to meals for simple dinners. The Quick Chicken Stir Fry with Roasted Broccoli from Foolproof Living will quickly become part of your weekly meal rotation. The peanuts are optional, so you can easily adapt the recipe if you’re working with a food allergy.

What’s your favorite Friday night dinner?
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Show your love of the red, white and blue with these Memorial Day crafts

Memorial Day Crafts

Memorial Day kicks off summer, which can conjure images of cookouts and tasty treats. The holiday honoring those who have died in active military service also gives parents the opportunity to talk to kids about the ultimate sacrifice made by some military families. While talking to kids about Memorial Day, you can keep it simple and highlight the patriotic nature of the holiday. We’ve rounded up some DIY projects that let your American pride shine brightly — and many of them can pull double duty later in the summer when you’re decorating for the 4th of July.

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The Easy DIY Patriotic Wreath from is gorgeous — and durable. The wreath will hold up for years, meaning the simple craft wreath can become a staple in your family’s Memorial Day decor. My Frugal Adventures has several patriotic crafts you can check out, including a reclaimed wood American Flag that we’re crushing on.

For a quick and easy centerpiece, try the Patriotic Rug Balls from Craft Create Cook. This new sew craft is a simple way to work with little ones to create something colorful and fun for your holiday table.

At the Lolly Jane Blog, we fell in love with the Stars + Stripes Patriotic Flower Pots. The pots are a perfect way to add a bit of patriotism to your porch or deck — and you could deliver a few to your favorite neighbors to spread some red, white and blue love.

Craftiments created the adorable Patriotic Wood Shim and Starfish Flag. It’s the perfect way to adorn your door, and we’re absolutely picturing it at a cottage or beach house with the starfish standing in for the 50 stars on a traditional American Flag.

The Bandana Placesetting from Celebrating Everyday Life at Uncommon Designs will dress up your table this Memorial Day. The napkin ring is so simple, you’ll be able to whip it together in a snap, and it will tie together red, white and blue utensils and plates — from paper goods to fine china.

The DIY Red, White and Blue Flip Flops from Everyday Dishes will get your feet in on the patriotic action this Memorial Day. The sparkly flips will bring a touch of the holiday to even the simplest outfit, and you can wear them all summer to show your American pride.

The Patriotic USA Map Wooden Door Hanger will show your patriotic spirit from Memorial Day to the 4th of July — and beyond. In addition to the door hanger, Where the Smiles Have Been has 20 other patriotic crafts to crave — including an adorable t-shirt.

Keep your hands busy while the kids play at the park with these Crocheted Patriotic Mason Jar Utensil Holders from Petals to Picots. If you find yourself with leftover red, white and blue yarn, you can try one of the other — free — patterns she offers.

I Should Be Mopping the Floor created the festive — and free — Patriotic Banner Printable, and it’s a fabulous way to decorate for Memorial Day. Whether you’re spending the day with friends or simply want to dress up your mantle with the red, white and blue banner, you’ll love how this one looks.

If you’re hosting a Memorial Day barbecue, send your guests home with these adorable Memorial Day Goodie Bags from The Sweetest Occasion. They’re perfect for snacks like popcorn or potato chips, or you can make a bunch and use them for napkins and plastic utensils at your party.

Do you decorate for Memorial Day?
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Spring brings warmer weather, of course, but it also brings rainy weather. We know all those spring showers turn the grass a little greener and help fill our yards with flowers, but they still keep us inside. What’s a mom to do but pick up one of these must-read spring 2016 books? (Laundry? No, thanks, that can wait until later.)

spring book recommendations

Books to read before you see the movie

Me Before You  is decidedly not a new release this spring, but the uber-popular Jojo Moyes book will soon be in theaters, and you don’t want to miss your chance to read the book before sliding into your seat at the movies. Will and Louisa couldn’t be a more unlikely pair — a risk-taker now confined to a wheelchair and a women who always plays it safe. When she becomes his caretaker, a limited engagement due to Will’s future plans, they find they have more to learn from each other than they ever could have expected.

Me Before You

The movie version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children isn’t due in theaters until the fall, but we’re already excited to see Tim Burton’s take on Ransom Rigg’s fantastical novel. The young adult book is a quick and compelling read, opening a conversation about what normal means — and how far your imagination can take you.

Miss Peregrine

To discuss with your girlfriends over wine

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss introduces three transplants living in New York, before HIV, before cell phones and before SoHo even thought about gentrification. Prentiss writes with a beautiful urgency about the nature of art and the importance of community — and perhaps that’s a message we need now, more than ever.

Tuesday Nights in 1980

Inevitably, our conversations turn to our families, so who doesn’t love a book about a family so dysfunctional we suddenly feel grateful for our own? The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney explores how relationships change when money is involved. The Plumb siblings are all counting on “the nest” for their own personal purposes, and when their financial future is put at risk, they are faced with the countless ways families support and disappoint each other.

Get a head start on a hot new trilogy

Maestra

Set in the world of the super rich, Maestra by L.S. Hinton tantalizingly twists the nail-biting tension of Gone Girl with steamy scenes that make 50 Shades of Grey a distant memory. In Maestra, Judith is ripe to discover just how far she’s willing to go to become the person she used to only dream of being. This is the first book in a trilogy, and the film rights have already been optioned, so get your hands on this one — your friends will thank you later.

What are you reading this spring?
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choosing a DODeciding to see a doctor of osteopathic medicine for an adult version of a well visit

I started seeing a DO — a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine — almost on accident.

I didn’t see the point of making an appointment. For years, I only went to the OB/GYN, once a year most years, and what felt like eleven million times during each of my pregnancies. With two young children at home, making a doctor’s appointment — when I wasn’t even sick — seemed ridiculous.

After he had a physical, my husband saw it differently. He encouraged me to schedule an annual physical, much in the same way I diligently scheduled the kids’ well visits. How to find a doctor when I wasn’t even sure I needed one kept falling to the bottom of my priority list. I dragged my feet, but after getting recommendations from several of my friends for the same doctor, I made an appointment.

I discovered the doctor was a DO when I did a quick Google search for the exact location of the office, which I found vaguely interesting. I’d read about the difference between MDs and DOs at some point when one of my friends was considering medical school, but I didn’t think I’d notice much of a difference during a routine physical.

Find a Doctor You Love

My appointment with my DO

After the typical medical visit routine — weight, height, blood pressure — I waited on the familiar doctor’s table. I’d never been in the office, but the table and the exam room seemed exactly like every other doctor’s office I’d visited. I wondered how different the appointment would really be.

My doctor knocked, walked into the room, sat down, and then gestured at me to do the same — and she didn’t mean perched on the edge of the table. I sat across from her, and she began going over my history, but she asked questions I hadn’t expected, like how much sleep I’d been getting, how tired I felt, and what I was doing to combat my fatigue.

Throughout my visit, and during subsequent visits, I felt very heard during my appointments. She listened to my concerns about not really feeling like I was making gains in my fitness, even with a steady amount of running, and she suggested dietary and lifestyle tweaks I could make — including more sleep. She chatted with me about balancing normal “I’m a mom with two small kids” tiredness with being overly stressed, letting me know I’d sleep again — one day — and never made me feel my concerns were invalid just because I was in good overall health.

About Doctors of Osteopathic medicine

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my doctor was interested in how my sleep, diet, and lifestyle were connected to how I was feeling and how frustrated I was with my running progress.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine believe there’s more to good health than just being free of pain or illness. DOs are fully licensed physicians trained to listen and partner with their patients, not only to heal sickness but to keep patients well.

I love seeing a woman doctor, and the number of women DOs under the age of 45 rose 62% between 2010 and 2015. DOs can be found in any medical specialty, but they always practice the same philosophy of considering the person within the patient.

Find a DO near you or learn more at DoctorsThatDo.org

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided for this blog via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of American Osteopathic Association or Momtrends.

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Make a Valentine’s Day breakfast that really says “I love you”

Valentine's Day breakfasts

Valentine’s Day happens to fall on a weekend this year, which gives you the perfect opportunity to go all-out for breakfast for your favorite people. Whether you’re putting together something sweet for the whole family or something savory for your significant other, we know one of these 13 delicious breakfasts will work for you.

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Donut strawberry shortcake
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Pink greek yoghurt pancakes
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Raspberry Red Velvet Protein Shakes
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Bisquick Donuts
Gluten free pancakes with strawberry cream cheese sauce
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Old-Fashioned Donut Strawberry Shortcake from The Baker Mama is the perfect way to blend everyone’s favorite treat — an old-fashioned donut — with strawberries, the ideal Valentine’s Day fruit. It’s a surprising way to say good morning.

Brown Sugar Mama brings us Smoked Salmon and Avocado Eggs Benedict, a twist on the breakfast classic. The flavor of the smoked salmon and the splurge-worthy Hollandaise sauce make this an indulgent breakfast for your favorite Valentine.

Pink Greek Yoghurt Pancakes from A Million Miles don’t depend on artificial flavoring for their gorgeous pink color, and the fluffy pancakes are simply delicious, proving you don’t need an abundance of artificial ingredients for a sweet treat.

Sunday Public offers Brown Butter Doughnuts with Cinnamon Dolce Glaze, a delectable treat that will leave your entire house smelling amazing. The rich flavors are a perfectly sweet combination, and your Valentine will be requesting these for weekends on end.

Mini Raspberry White Chocolate Scones from Stew or a Story  are both scrumptious and adorable, and we can’t get enough of the tea party presentation. Perfect for a Valentine’s Day brunch or even a simple brunch with your girlfriends, these scones are sure to be a hit.

Caramelized Banana Crepes from At the Corner of Happy and Harried are a simple and flavorful breakfast. Both the caramelized bananas and the crepes can be made the night before and assembled in the morning, which makes your holiday breakfast a cinch.

Spache the Spatula brings us Raspberry Red Velvet Protein Shakes, a breakfast shake that delivers a combination of chocolate and raspberry flavors with the filling punch of added protein. You’ll have energy for days with this shake!

My Ginger Garlic Kitchen offers a Romantic Choco-Berry Valentine’s Smoothie, and this sweet smoothie will go straight to your heart. Filled with rich and scrumptious flavor, this treat will work for breakfast, brunch or dessert.

Strawberry Waffles from Tara’s Multicultural Table use strawberry puree for their color, and you can top with anything your heart desires. The variety of toppings makes waffles a fabulous option for picky kids.

The Decorated Cookie gives us Mini Cinnamon Roll Pops, the cutest Valentine’s Day treat on the table. Be sure to make a big batch of these — you won’t be able to stop at just one. Kids will love helping with these, so you can enlist their help to surprise Daddy in the morning.

Bisquick Donuts from Something Swanky might more delicious than anything at your local bakery — plus you can make them in your pajamas! Her tips for frying these beauties will help even a donut novice make perfect donuts each time.

The Bewitchin’ Kitchen proves gluten-free doesn’t have to mean flavor-free with her Gluten Free Pancakes Smothered in Strawberry Cream Cheese Sauce. Baked goods can be some of the toughest substitutes for gluten-sensitive eaters, but coconut flour makes these a truly special treat.

Strawberries and Cream Crepes with Orange Liqueur from Cafe Delights are absolutely a special treat for someone you love. Crepes aren’t tough to make, but they look so fancy on a plate — and the orange liqueur gives these an unexpected burst of flavor.

What do you plan on making for breakfast this Valentine’s Day?
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Star Darlings series

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney Press. All opinions are our own. 

Wishes for the New Year

We watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve with our best friends and all of our kids. For the first time my kids rang in the new year in real time, wearing shiny hats and blowing noisemakers that would likely garner a call from the hotel’s front desk on any night except December 31. They laughed and cheered, and I glimpsed future New Year’s celebrations, when midnight won’t seem like such a ground-breaking occasion.

What I wish for them

Just like that gorgeous Waterford crystal orb making its way toward the ground each New Year’s Eve, time with kids inevitably passes. My daughter, in particular, is forging her way toward tweendom, a world I glimpse through her eyes but can never truly re-enter again. As she takes tentative steps away from childhood, I hope she holds onto the wonder she’s always exhibited at the world around her — and the one she imagines is there, a world filled with fairies, magic and granted wishes.

Star Darlings
Introducing Disney Star Darlings

Star Darlings welcomes tweens to a world where wishes are real, and where friendship and positive thinking empower girls to continue wishing, dreaming and making their hopes and dreams come true.

Just like real girls, each Star Darling has her own wish that she pursues with full force and determination — and the help of her friends. These shared journeys and experiences provide exceptionally positive examples to inspire tweens to follow their dreams, and are experienced through books, dolls, music and apparel, along with a mobile app and animated shorts. Disney “Star Darlings” offers an innovative and unparalleled lifestyle experience that encourages tweens to harness the power of their individuality, highlights the power of making positive choices, and shows that they can make anything possible.

Initially conceived by designer Shana Muldoon Zappa, and her husband, New York Times bestselling author Ahmet Zappa (Because I’m Your Dad), “Star Darlings” was inspired by their daughter. “Our intention with Star Darlings has always been to empower girls and let them know there is an unstoppable wish energy created by positive thinking, taking action, and believing in yourself,” said Shana Muldoon Zappa.

Star Darlings

 

The Star Darlings book series enchants tween girls

Available now, the Star Darlings books follow the adventures of twelve Starlings who have traveled to Earth from the Starling Academy, where Starlings receive the special training they need to grant wishes to people on Earth. Their adventures are filled with the exact things that help empower tweens: the themes of friendship, confidence, leadership and teamwork.

Star Darlings

Finding inspiration and magic in Starland

In addition to reading the stories of the Starlings’ adventures, girls can — obsessively, if they’re anything like my daughter — flip through A Wisher’s Guide to Starland. Filled with the details that make Starland the gorgeous, magical, colorful place it is, the Guide has landed a rotating spot on the kitchen island, playroom floor, and bedside book table — wherever my girl happens to be situated. Her absolute favorite part of the book is the section describing the Starlings’ dorm rooms. Each room is decorated in a way that showcases the Starling’s personality. Abbey loves Clover’s plants and hammock; it reminds her of playing outside in her fairy garden.

How Star Darlings and their wishes mesh with my wishes for my daughter

Keeping my daughter firmly in childhood isn’t something I can do — even if I wanted to! As she grows older, I love watching her discover and explore different aspects of the things she’s always loved — magic, dreaming, beautiful things and music and dancing. Star Darlings seamlessly transitions her reading and interests from childhood to tween world, and I love seeing her move forward with her wonder and excitement intact.

The Star Darlings website is bursting with exciting content — including music. (I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watching the music video.)

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Holiday traditions make lasting memories for moms

Whether you’re continuing traditions from your own childhood or starting new ones with your family, the best holiday traditions color the fabric of our memories. Moms can run themselves ragged during the holidays, but at Savvy Sassy Moms, our favorite traditions — and smiles that come with them — make all that work worth it.

Holiday traditions

Rebecca from Mainely Mama

We have a favorite tree farm we go to every year! In November, we go and pick out and “tag” our tree. We mark it with a lobster buoy, and in December we go back and cut it down.

holiday traditions

Kim from Agoura Hills Mom

I decided that even though I live far away from all of my kids’ grandparents and that makes me very sad and homesick, the bright side is that we have no place to go on Christmas day. No obligations.  No rituals that we must execute. It’s all up to us. We can keep the things we like from our childhoods and toss what doesn’t work for us.

Holiday traditions

Amanda from The Fix-Its

My husband grew up celebrating St. Nick’s Day on December 6. We are starting the tradition with our kids that they leave out a stocking the night before, and their Christmas jammies will be waiting in the morning.

Holiday traditions

 

Elizabeth from Chasin’ Mason

Since my son is young, we just started this tradition last year, but we do 25 days of Christmas books. I wrap up 25 Christmas books, and he gets to unwrap one book a night until Christmas and we read it together. He loves being able to open a present, and he loves reading so it’s win-win. I put the books under the little tree in his room, and I’m so excited this year because he seems to really “get” it and is thrilled about his very own little Christmas tree!

Holiday traditions

Shanna from Beloved Nest

Every year, we love to load up the whole family — grandparents, nieces, cousins — and go see Christmas lights. One of our favorites is the Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights. It’s so magical, and everyone loves it regardless of age!

Holiday traditions

Kristin from My Strange Family

Going to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! (For more spectacular New York City holiday moments, check out Kristin’s Instagram.)

Holiday traditions

Julia from My Life in Transition

My mom’s family has a tradition that I’m continuing. We take a picture of the kids buried under shredded wrapping paper, after the gifts have been opened. I’ve attempted to get this shot every year since having kids, and it’s always a challenge since nobody wants to pose under the paper when there are new toys to enjoy!

holiday traditions

It’s a fun way to watch the kids grow over the years, and I love looking back on the photos my mom took of my brother and I growing up, peeking out from under the Christmas wrapping paper.

holiday traditions

Liz from Ellie and Addie

We like to have a holiday pajama party while decorating our tree and watching the Christmas Vacation movie!

holiday traditions

Carrie Beth and Jen from The Magnolia Mamas

For anyone not from the Atlanta area, the Pink Pig might sounds like a silly thing that has nothing to do with Christmas, but in fact, it does!  Priscilla, the Pink Pig, was first introduced in the 1950s as a holiday ride at Rich’s downtown store to take children through the toy department.

holiday traditions in Atlanta

 

Later, it was featured at the Egleston Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees and now the ride’s home is at Macy’s Lenox Square. The ride is set up in a giant pink tent and takes children and families through a life-sized storybook all about Priscilla and her friends.  It’s an Atlanta holiday tradition that families, like ours, have been enjoying for years!

We’d love to hear about your holiday traditions, too!
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Holiday party ideas

8 Holiday party ideas for busy moms

You signed up to help with the winter class party back in September, when you were riding the back-to-school energy wave. Now you’re scrambling to get your own shopping done, plus you’re hosting family for what feels like half the month. Try our holiday party ideas and make this year’s class party simple, adorable — and easy to plan in just a couple of days.

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Scrumptious snacks

The Oreo Penguins from Passion for Savings look more complicated than they are — we promise. Grab your favorite type of Oreo and make a quick trip down the baking aisle, and you’ll have everything you need. Kids will love how cute they are, and you can serve them as a snack or tie them into little cellophane bags as a take-home treat.

The Santa Hat Brownies from Daisy’s World are adorable and sweet. We love that she combines both store-bought and from-scratch elements in these little treats. There’s even a printable gift tag with the recipe information, which might come in handy at a class party when the other moms ask how you made them.

Dukes & Duchesses offers Snowmen on a Stick, a simple treat moms can pre-assemble at home and easily transport to school. We love the details on this one, from the little “carrot” nose and sweet red scarf.

Some schools frown upon too many sweets during class parties, but getting little ones excited about fruit isn’t always easy. These amazing Grinch Fruit Kabobs from Clean and Scentsible are fun enough kids will forget they’re filled with healthy ingredients. Be sure to click through — she has an entire Grinch-themed party happening on her blog, with loads of kid-friendly snack and dessert ideas.

Rudolph Snack Mix from Sunshine and Hurricanes combines everyone’s favorite combination — sweet and salty — for a simple and irresistible treat. For class parties, you can premix it all together in a bowl and dole it out — don’t forget the food prep gloves! — or divide the necessary components for the desired amount of Rudolphs for each child into individual snack bags.

Holiday games and crafts for little hands

This Craft Stick Snowman Ornament from Simmworks Family Blog is an idea DIY craft for class holiday parties. The craft offers so many options for personalization, and the materials don’t involve a ton of prep before bringing the supplies into the classroom — bigger kids can even do some of the cutting on their own. Plus, moms melt for handmade ornaments from their kids.

PreKinders crafts a Jingle Bell Necklace that’s absolutely perfect for a class holiday party. Not only is it adorable, but it’s simple to make — we love her trick for keeping the beads from falling off the cord. Not only is this festive craft great for color awareness and fine motor skills, but it’s an easy way for moms to listen for their little elves sneaking into something they shouldn’t be.

Not Consumed knows party games can be easily crafted from things you already have at home, like this simple-but-crazy-fun Do You Want to Build a Snowman? game. Whether you decide to have the teams race, award a prize to the most original snowman or just make them giggle like crazy, this game can literally be thrown together in a few short minutes — perfect for busy moms. (While you’re at her blog, check out the rest of her ideas for a Frozen Family Fun Night.)

Even young children can play Bingo, especially when you’re using this Christmas Bingo game from Crazy Little Projects. The picture squares make it simple to follow, and the colorful icons are festive, fun and keep kids paying attention to what they’re trying to match. The printable is free, and it prints out the bingo cards and cards the game leader uses to call the game. Bonus? You can also download a free Christmas memory game.

Do you have a go-to class party hack?
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