Holidays · Parenthood

Dear Santa… 2018 Gift Guide!

Each year, I set the goal of preparing for the holidays early – planning our meal, mailing lists to Santa, organizing, and preparing for company and parties… and each year, the time seems to fly faster than the year before.  This year, our already-busy holiday season has somehow become even more of a whirlwind, thanks to both girls being in school and participating in activities and parties and event after event.

I actually have cut myself some slack in that I’ve decided that the holidays don’t have to be about rushing around and doing all the thingsbecause that ends up not being pleasant for anyone.  Instead, we are trying to pick and choose the things that make us happy – like decorating gingerbread houses at home, sending out Christmas cards, and doing Christmas crafts together.

In the midst of all of that, though, I wanted to share some of the girls’ wish list with you in the spirit of helping out any fellow last-minute Mamas looking for ideas.  Here are some of the things Lane and Lauren are hoping to find under the tree this year:

The Complete Book of Spanish, Grades 1 – 3

This may not appeal to every six-year-old, but Lane is fascinated by language, and is especially interested in Spanish.  So when I started thinking about gifts for her, I wanted to tap into that interest in a way that would be engaging and fun for her.  I know she will be pumped if she finds this book full of beginning Spanish learning activities under the tree on Christmas morning.

My First Fashion Designer

If Santa has been paying attention to Lauren this year, he knows that this no-cut, no-sew fashion design kit will delight her on Christmas morning!  Lauren actually requested a sewing machine, and while I’m sure Santa is impressed by her ambition, he probably will want to start her with something like this first.  This adorable set comes with everything you need to design hundreds of runway-ready looks, from fabric to buttons, and an easy-to-work-with dress form.  It also comes with a design booklet full of fashion inspiration – not that Lauren will need that.

Yamaha Half-Size Classical Guitar 

If you follow @laneandlauren on Instagram, you probably already know that Lane’s ultimate Christmas gift this year is an acoustic guitar.  A real guitar, not a toy one.  In fact, she wrote Santa a letter letting him know that all she wants is a guitar – and that she can’t think of anything else she needs (although she later told me she wouldn’t mind getting some clothes from Justice).  She’s really hoping that Santa will be able to find a good quality classical guitar that’s small enough for her to learn on without sacrificing the authenticity of a grown-up instrument.  This one from Yamaha seems to fit the bill perfectly, and the price isn’t extraordinary.

I can’t think of anything I’d rather have for my girl than something that will encourage her love of music.  She’ll be penning hit ballads before we know it.  #moveoverTaylorSwift

Glitter Ballet Flats | Gap


My little fashionista was NOT happy to have recently outgrown a bunch of pairs of her favorite shoes.  Lauren loves sparkle, so I’m sure she will be thrilled if she finds these adorable glittery gold ballet flats under the tree.  I may need to shoot Santa a text to let him know that they’re only $19 right now at the Gap!

Highlights Magazine

What kid doesn’t love mail?!  Highlights magazine, which now offers different publications created for different age groups, will be the gift that keeps on giving.  Full of age-appropriate, interesting, and engaging articles and activities, I know that both Lane and Lauren will be pumped to check out their very own Highlights magazine each month to discover articles and activities from a variety of topics – from science to cooking.

The Nutcracker

I’m huge on creating memorable experiences rather than giving toy after toy, and I’m hoping Santa feels the same!  Lane and Lauren are both dancers, and adore live theatre and performances, so I know they won’t be disappointed if Santa decides to leave a few tickets to the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker in their stockings.  This ballet is gorgeous, timeless, and with the beautiful sets, colorful costumes, and magical snowfall, entertaining to even the youngest of ballerinas.  It’s fun to turn something like this into a special day, complete with fancy lunch and of course, fancy and festive attire.  This year’s Nutcracker runs through December 30.

Image result for boston ballet nutcracker

Project Mc2 Camryn’s Remote Control Hoverboard with Doll

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least a few toys!  Lane has been asking for a remote-control something forever, so I’m thinking that this Project Mc2 doll with remote control hover board might be right up her alley.  I love Project Mc2 toys because they combine imaginative play with STEAM concepts, exposing kids to science, technology, math, art, and engineering while having they are busy having fun.

There is another doll that I think Santa may leave for Lauren from this same collection that comes with a nail polish experiment.  Combining beauty and science?  I know Lauren will give that a huge thumbs up!

I know this gift guide is a little late, but I hope it inspires some of you hectic, last-minute Mamas this holiday!  You can also look back at our last year’s gift guide for other great ideas.  Happy Holidays!


Dear Santa…

2017 Holiday Gift Guide -

Rae the elf is back, the tree is up (only 4 shattered ornaments this year… so far 😩), and the Christmas music is on heavy rotation. The holidays have officially arrived at our home! ‘Tis the season for ginger bread houses, holiday crafts, (extra!) sparkle, and of course… Christmas lists! Here’s a roundup of Lane and Lauren’s most wanted gifts this year.

•Rock & Roll It roll-up piano

Rock and Roll It Piano

From the moment the girls set eyes on this at our local toy shop, they were in love. This roll-up keyboard lays flat for playing at the kitchen table, on a desk, on the floor, wherever – and conveniently rolls up for easy storage. It records, plays songs and background beats, and most importantly, indulges their love of music. Here’s hoping Santa brings this awesome instrument this year – and here’s hoping the girls remember how to share once Rae returns to the North Pole!

Get it here!

•Disney Descendants 2 Microphone

Lane and Lauren are officially OB.SESSED. with Descendants and Descendants 2, and honestly, so am I!  The songs are just as sassy as the girls are, and I’ve spotted them studying the dance tutorials on the Disney NOW! app, perfecting all of Mal and Evie’s moves.  They are going to lose their little VK minds when they discover that this microphone’s got pre-loaded backing tracks to some of their faves, like Ways To Be Wicked.  I’m pretty sure Dada and I will be in for some exclusive live performances, especially because I’m hoping Santa brings two of these.  Some toys are just too good to share – plus, Mal and Evie each need their own mic.  Obvi!

Get it here!

I have a funny feeling they are strategizing here to maximize gift-getting potential.

•Boogie Board Jot 8.5 LCD eWriter

Both girls are in school now, and spend a lot of time at home drawing, coloring, and mastering their penmanship (the apples don’t fall far from the tree – I love the art of writing on actual paper and am teaching Lane cursive.  Lauren is on her way, too – Lane draws her traceable letters and helped her learn to write her name!).  This eWriter is lightweight and has a screen that is engineered to feel just like writing with pen on paper.  Their masterpieces will remain on the screen as long as they wish, and can be erased with the touch of a button, so my little writers can create over and over again without paper waste and messy markers.  The best part?  This baby doesn’t need charging.  Perfect boredom buster for car rides!

Get it here!

•Educational Insights Kanoodle

I am all for learning through play and toys that teach, so I was pumped when the girls spotted this puzzle game at the toy store.  Both were immediately fascinated and took turns choosing challenges from the puzzle book to solve with the colorful, 3-D puzzle pieces.  I thought Lauren would lose interest quickly since she’s so young, but turns out she’s not one to back down from a challenge!  Luckily for her, this puzzle has hundreds of possible solutions.  Hooray for enhancing their critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills!

Get it here! 

Disney Elena of Avalor My Size Doll

People who have been following us for awhile know that Lane is a die-hard Elena fan – remember her Avaloran fiesta?  Well, the love is still going strong and I just know that she will be delighted by this larger than life Elena doll.  In fact, I’m almost positive that if this doll shows up under the tree, she will immediately be given a designated spot in Lane’s room near the rest of her prized Elena paraphernalia – and will more than likely go on her “Lauren may not touch this” list.

Get it here!

Doc McStuffins Baby All-In-One Nursery Set

This one’s just for Lauren, although if Lane will share her Elena doll, I’m sure something might be worked out.  Little Lauren caught sight of this adorable role-play center on a YouTube Kids toy review and has been talking about it ever since.  If there’s one thing she can’t get enough of, it’s dress-up and pretend play.  This all-in-one nursery will provide countless hours of exactly that as she explores the electronic patient laptop, light-and-sound features, and accessories.  Mama was hoping the days of large toys like this were behind us (we gave up on any hope of designating toys to a specific area long ago – we’ve lost the battle dollhouses, train sets, pop-up tents, etc.), but we will find a nice spot in Lauren’s room for her own little doctor’s office… if Santa brings it, that is!

Get it here!

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Over the summer, we took the girls to HASCON, Hasbro’s first-ever toy convention.  This unique event was incredible, and featured amazing displays, activities, and interactive experiences connected with all of Hasbro’s most popular brands.  Lane and Lauren got “pony-fied” (think bright nails, colorful hair extensions, and glitter tattoo “cutie marks”) at a pop-up salon in a recreation of My Little Pony’s Equestria, created art with a larger-than-life Play-Doh “Doh Vinci” exhibit, and listened to world-renowned storytellers… but despite all the excitement, Lauren’s favorite part of the event was discovering the classic game Hungry Hungry Hippos!   She sat down and started playing this game, and after that, there was nothing that could pull her away!  I can’t wait to see her face light up if Santa happens to leave this under the tree.

Get it here!

L.O.L. Surprise! Fizz Factory

I blame Cookie Swirl C for the fact that the L.O.L Surprise! Fizz Factory set ended up on this list.  I imagine Santa knows what exactly this toy is all about, but I’m a bit puzzled.  It appears to be some sort of glittery chemistry experiment in which the result is a fizz ball of some sort with a hidden surprise that’s revealed when the ball dissolves in water…?  I think?  Whatever it is, Lane is obsessed with it and is adamant that it appear on her most wanted list.  To be honest, it looks like something that will be used a couple of times and never again, but time will tell.  According to the product description, these fizz balls can be made with household ingredients.  Sounds messy – stay tuned.

Get it here! 

Of course, Mrs. Claus would never allow Santa to get away without leaving at least a couple of cute new things for the girls to wear… From what I hear, she has great taste and found these fabulous things to leave under the tree… now if only she could stitch them in Mama size!

Girls’ Shaggy Faux Fur Jacket, $24.90 at Forever 21.

Lane will look fab rocking this shaggy powder blue jacket.  Provides stylish warmth, but not too bulky for the car booster seat.  Love!





Silver Sparkle Sherpa Jacket, $21.99 at Crazy 8.

Lauren is all about sparkle, and I know she will totally rock this adorable, edgy jacket from Crazy 8.  It’s available online now for $21.99, but I actually scored this at our local store for $14 last weekend!



Clarice Single Strap Velcro Sneakers by Cat and Jack, $14.99 at Target.

Lane looooooves purple, so these were an absolute no-brainer.  I had no idea a child could wear out sneakers so quickly, but the ones she got in September for school are just about ready to kick the bucket.  We’ll see how these metallic kicks hold up to kindergarten recess, but at $14.99, you can’t really lose.


Girls’ Skirted Legging by Cat and Jack, $11.99 at Target.

If it doesn’t have a tutu, Lauren is not wearing it. Dressing this little fashionista in the winter is no easy task – she regularly attempts to negotiate wearing her favorite summer sundresses to pre-school, despite the fact that there’s snow on the ground.  Thankfully, these supercute leggings align with my little diva’s flair for fashion and love for tulle – but we can pair them with sweaters and boots!

I hope the girls’ wish lists inspired those of you still searching for gift ideas for the fabulous little girls on your “nice lists…” now let’s hope Lane and Lauren stay on Santa’s good side for the next two weeks!

Dear Santa

Holidays · recipes · Sweet Tooth

Thanksgiving Turkey candies! 🦃

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

I know I can’t be the only last-minute Mama out there. With fewer than 24 hours until Thanksgiving dinner, the girls and I needed a quick, easy, fun treat to make together. We are huge fans of Rolo pretzels, so we thought we’d put a Thanksgiving spin on them after seeing something similar on my Facebook feed.

We are super happy with the way these festive treats turned out, and the best part was that both girls could make them on their own! Ready to try these yourself? Here’s what you’ll need:

• mini pretzels

• Rolo candies

• candy corn

• Reese’s pieces

• Candy eyeballs

Pretzel Turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

How we did it:

The girls strategically lined the pretzels up neatly on a cookie sheet (and may or may not have snacked a bit).

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Next, they centered Rolos, small side down, on top of each pretzel.

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Then, to soften the candies, I put the cookie sheet in the oven at 250 degrees for about 2 minutes.

Now we were ready to decorate!

I put a few warm pretzels on each of their plates and they were on their own! We added edible googly eyes, a Reese’s piece for the beak (or is that the gobble?), and three candy corns for the turkey feathers. Our first few were a little messy, but after doing a couple, we were all pros!  Of course, we couldn’t resist a little finger licking along the way…

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Because the Rolos were still soft even after we finished decorating, I transferred all of our masterpieces to a cooling rack and popped it in the fridge for awhile so they would set. Our finished treats? Adorable and delish!

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats

Next up will be Christmas treats, so if you know of any cute, festive, kid-friendly treats, please share in the comments! Maybe we can avoid last minute shenanigans next holiday (Probably not). 😜

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! 🦃🥧🍁

Pretzel turkeys - Thanksgiving treats