Toys That Stand the Test of Time

Between my husband and I, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, and friends, my kids are bombarded each year with new toys at Christmas.  Throw in a January birthday for my oldest daughter a few weeks after Christmas and our house usually ends up looking like a toy store threw up in it.  As much as I like to keep things simple at home, I will admit, we have an insane amount of toys.  I will also admit, that not all of them get played with.  There are several that I can think of off hand that probably haven’t been played with in the last year.  But there are also several that get played with weekly, if not daily.  I’d like to share some of those with you, in case you were looking for a little inspiration for gifts this year.

Wooden Train Set

61Qf0xMJyoL__SL1000_

(source)

We have the Melissa and Doug Wooden Railway Set.  We gave it to my oldest daughter when she was two years old and it has been played with consistently ever since.  I love this toy because it has no batteries, is durable, and can be set up in countless configurations.  We’ve had many fun hours building the train tracks and racing the train cars along them.

Magnetic Tiles

81O3V18nDvL__SL1500_

(source)

Last year, I really, really, really wanted to get my daughter Magnatiles, but the price tag really threw me off, so I went with a smaller version instead (Magformers) to see if she even liked it before shelling out the money for the better set.  Well, a year later and this is one of her favorite toys.  She builds different cars, robots, spaceships, all the time.  You can even play with these on any type of magnetic surface (fridge, dry erase board, etc).  I love that it came with wheels and little accessories to build things.  It has been such a hit that I decided to go ahead and get the Magnatiles set I was looking at last year.

Plasma Cars

81jv4cOsklL__SL1500_

(source)

These were also a gift that we gave to our kids last year and we just recently made them even better by swapping out the plastic wheels for polyurethane (roller blade) wheels.  They ride so much smoother and faster now.  I’ll admit, even my husband and I like to ride on them!

Balance Bike

71mKiM-tjEL__SL1500_

(source)

This little bike is pricey, but it is awesome.  My mother-in-law bought it for my daughter when she was 2 and she really didn’t show interest in it until she was closer to 3, but once she started getting the hang of it, she really fell in love with it.  She zips around so fast on this thing.  She rides it all over our neighborhood when we take family walks at night.  Every time we meet friends at the park and bring this bike, all of her little friends take turns riding it.  It doesn’t have pedals.  She just uses her feet to propel herself along and once she gets enough momentum, there are bars on the sides where she can put her feet up and just coast (and balance) along.  It teaches kids how to balance on two wheels and transfer to a regular bike without ever having to use training wheels.

Snap Circuits Junior

81aySQ9SxRL__SL1500_

(source)

My 4 year old daughter received this as a Christmas present last year, and almost a year later it is still one of the most played with toys. There are so many possibilities with this toy. Not only can you create different circuits to do different things, but it also has ways you can set it up to play games and even create art. Currently she has spent this whole week making art circles by taping paper circles to the fan, turning it on and then using markers to draw while it is spinning. She’s also been creating her own designs on paper circles, then putting them on the fan to see what it looks like when it is spinning. I love this toy and highly recommend it.

Sorting Cupcakes

81PN9am6XIL__SL1500_

(source)

These cute little cupcakes have been a great addition to our play kitchen.  Each cupcake has a different shape cut out in the middle of the frosting part that can be matched up with the same shape for the cake part.  It comes with a cute little tray that also has each shape in the cupcake holders, so you can match them there as well.  My kids have gotten a lot of play out of this toy and it is really high quality, not cheap plastic.

Shopping Cart

41XoRXItqUL

(source)

This shopping cart is seriously like a miniature version of the real thing.  It is super heavy duty, has wheels just like a real shopping cart, and even a fold up seat to put a doll or other stuffed animal.  It is very smooth to push around the house, and my kids are constantly filling it up with all sorts of things and using it for pretend play.

Sleepy Time Tales

1

(source)

I don’t know what it is about this book.  Whether it is the stories, or the art in the book, but my kids love reading this one.  It’s got 12 different stories and each one is very captivating.  Not too long (my youngest could sit through the stories at 18 months old) but not too short like a board book.  Perfect for children 1-5 years old.

Pretend and Play Animal Hospital

71VzBm8FxWL__SL1000_

(source)

This toy gets played with daily.  It is a huge hit in my house.  It is a little mock up animal hospital and comes with a dog, bandages, casts, collar, stethoscope, xrays, syringe, medicine, a chart, treats and more.  The whole thing folds up and has handles so you can easily take it somewhere you need to keep your child entertained (doctor’s office, etc).

Plush Rocker

61vsHql18dL__SL1200_

(source)

We got this cute pony rocker for my daughter when she was one and both of my kids still play on it.  It is really good quality and super cute.  I will definitely be hanging on to this for grandkids.

Dump Truck

51gITlmZ6FL__SL1007_

(source)

A friend of mine gave this to my daughter when she turned 2 and it gets played with just about every day.  She rolls it around the house, collecting things to put in it and then dumping them out where she sees fit.  Every kid should have a dump truck.

 

So, there are our toys that have withstood the test of time!  What toys have been hits at your house?

Advertisements

Holiday Traditions…

Let’s talk holiday traditions here.  I love hearing about the things people did growing up and what they are now doing with their families.  Here are the traditions we do every year:

  • Photo Christmas card – Each year we get professional pictures taken and have Christmas cards made with our family photo on them.  I always save one of the cards and with my kids, we make a scrapbook page out of it.  I let them decorate it however they want (and yes, even if it means putting a sticker over one of our faces).  I love pulling out that scrapbook every year and can’t wait to see how their art skills progress over the years. Christmas Card 2013
  • New pajamas on Christmas Eve – My mother did this with us, so I am also doing it with my kids.  Each year I get them new pajamas and wrap them up.  They get to open them on Christmas Eve and wear them that night.  This year, my 4 year old wanted to make her pajamas, so we are in the middle of doing that.  Stay tuned! IMG_5295  IMG_5223
  • Snowbabies collection – When I had my first baby, I wanted to start a collection of something for her that I could add to each year.  I looked around a bit and really fell in love with the Department 56 Snowbabies.  There are so many different figurines to choose from and each year I get each of my girls a new figurine that depicts something either in their personality or something that interests them.  Last year, I got Annalie this superhero figurine snowbabies and I got Stella this Mickey figurine. snowbabies2 This year, Annalie is getting this t-ball figurine (since she just wrapped up her first season in t-ball) snowbabies3and Stella is getting this cute little monkey figurine because this is about how the three of us look most of the time since she always wants to be picked up. snowbabies4
  • Baking cookies – When I was growing up, we made a massive amount of goodie plates every year for our friends and neighbors.  My mom has the absolute best recipes for holiday goodies.  My sister and I have attempted to recreate it several times and I tell you, it is a ton of work.  But, each year, even if I don’t have time to make everything that we did with my mom growing up, I try to have my kids help make at least a couple of things to give out to coworkers and neighbors.  When they get older, we’ll go for the huge variety. 392576_10150435443457509_1854831664_n
  • A real Christmas tree – I have never and will never, ever, ever get an artificial tree.  We never had one growing up and still to this day, we always get a fresh tree.  Unfortunately there are no Christmas tree farms in Las Vegas, but each year Costco gets one truck full of the most amazing Christmas trees (and you really have to be on it to get one before they quickly sell out), so we get one and take it home and decorate it each year.  Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree and when the holidays are over, we take the tree to a recycling center where it will be turned into mulch. IMG_5269
  • Ethel M Chocolate Factory – This is a great little place that we visit every year.  They have a cactus garden that they decorate with millions of lights each year and you can walk around sipping hot cocoa, listening to holiday music and even get a picture with Santa if you feel so inclined.  You can also walk through the factory and see all the workers making yummy chocolates and sample some inside.  It’s really close to our house and it’s free!  Definitely a must do if you are in Vegas. IMG_5294
  • Love Actually – Hands down my favorite holiday movie.  I mean there really are some other great classics (Elf, A Christmas Story, The Holiday, etc.), but this one tops my list. untitled

 

What are some of your holiday traditions?

An Award!

Well, it’s Monday again and I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  My friend Sara from Life Between the Miles nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Yay!  Here’s goes!

liebster

1. What is your current health related goal?

Basically just to maintain where I’m at right now.  When I started getting back into fitness and really getting into running about a year ago, I lost a lot of weight.  In fact, when I went to get a physical done for our health insurance, they told me that I was in an unhealthy range for my body fat percentage and that I needed to gain weight.  So, I actually have gained a little bit and I feel really good right now.

2. What is your biggest irrational fear?

That I will lose one of my children.  I can’t imagine anything worse and sometimes no matter how safe you are and how much you protect your children, accidents happen.  I don’t think I could go on if I lost one of my children.

3. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

No.  I used to when I could take my time and add ribbons and bows and make it look pretty.  Now the kids are usually helping me so it’s really just a race to get them done as quickly as possible before one kid starts having a meltdown because the other one is hoarding the tape and they can’t get the scissors to cut and the paper is tearing and…cue the tears.

4. What’s your favorite cross training activity?

You all know how much I love my Body Pump!

5. If I came to visit you, what would we do?

I would probably cook you a nice dinner and have some really good wine out on the patio with the fire pit going.  Then we’d spend a night on the strip doing the tourist thing, eating at a great restaurant and going to see a show.  We’d most likely go for a run too if we were not too hungover.

6. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?

Hmmm, this one is tough.  I wouldn’t leave my kids for two weeks, so I’d definitely have to buy a couple of extra plane tickets.  And since they’d be coming along, I’d probably go somewhere tropical because they love the beach.  Hawaii maybe?  Or Australia?

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

This would have to be the day I went out for a solo trail run and got sick with the stomach flu about half way through.  I had to call my husband to come pick me up and as soon as he did, I threw up right next to the car.  It was not fun.

8. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.

I know for most people the best days of their lives are the day they got married, or the day that their child(ren) were born.  Honestly, those days were great, but they were also full of stress and a lot of fatigue.  I think the best 3 days of my life have been what would look like just average days to anyone else, but they were the best for me because everything just was perfect those days.  I can remember one day in particular when I was home with the kids.  We went to the park or some sort of outing, came home, had lunch, took naps, woke up, played, had dinner, baths and bed.  But, the thing that made it amazing was there was no fighting, no struggle to get the kids dressed or brush their teeth.  Everyone got along, we laughed and had such a good time hanging out together.  Those are my favorite days…when we have a lot of fun doing nothing special.

9. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?

I actually love fast food.  I don’t eat it very often because I know how bad it is, but on the occasion that I do, OMG it tastes so good.  Fast food is the absolute best after a wine night.  Nothing beats a hangover like a greasy burger, right?  My favorite is probably In-N-Out.  Mmmmmmm.

10. Have you ever met a celebrity?

Yup, quite a few actually.  I definitely got to rub shoulders with the most famous at the Howard Stern Birthday Bash.  It. Was. Amazing.

Ryan

11. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!

At our last family photo shoot, our photographer wanted to take a few pictures of my blog.  I thought this one turned out super cute.

IMG_0314a-3600974286-O

 

12. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?

I would have been a professional organizer.  I am super organized (and a little OCD) and I love organizing things and having everything just perfect.  I think I would have really done well in that line of work.  But at this point, I don’t really want to start over.  I’ve come too far with my current career.

13. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?

Hmmm, I’d probably be in disbelief and super excited.

14. What do you want for Christmas?

Shoes and an art supplies organizer for my kids’ playroom.  Hehe, yeah I totally asked for something for Christmas that’s actually for my kids.  But, it will declutter the playroom so much.  I told you I should be a professional organizer.

15. What skill do you lack?

Creativity.  I can copy the shit out of anything (thank God for Pinterest), but when it comes to thinking up my own stuff like art projects for the kids, birthday party ideas, hair styles, even my own fashion, I am absolutely clueless.

You think I came up with this all on my own?

1383408_10152263584557509_632169390_n

1891445_10152263584617509_1518408211_o

Nominations?

I’m actually not going to nominate anyone.  I’m bad I know, but this is a really busy time of year for everyone and I don’t want to make anyone feel like they “have” to do something.  So if you are a blogger and follow my blog, feel free to award yourself. (:

And That’s a Wrap!

One of my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions was to run 14 races in 2014.

images

(source)

Prior to this year, the furthest I had ever run at any one time was 8 miles.  My initial goal for this year was to complete just 1 half marathon.  And here I am with 5 under my belt, along with several other shorter races and I’m signed up for my first full marathon in the spring.  Here’s what I’ve done this year:

  1.  February 17, 2014 – Moms Run This Town Virtual Half Marathon, 1:47:26
  2. April 5, 2014 – Corporate Challenge 5k, 22:31 1st Place Age Group
  3. April 12, 2014 – Xterra Trail Run Half Marathon, 1:58:20 4th Place Age Group
  4. May 10, 2014 – Mom’s Rock 10k, 47:00 1st Place Age Group, 2nd Place Overall Female
  5. May 18, 2014 – Wildland Fire Awareness Trail Half Marathon, 2:17:26 1st Place Overall Female
  6. June 14, 2014 – Dads Rock Too, 1 Mile Fun Run, Not Timed
  7. July 4, 2014 – 4th of July 5k Blast (participated as an Angel for my TEAM TRIUMPH), 31:04, 2nd Place my TEAM TRIUMPH team
  8. July 12, 2014 – Las Vegas Triathlon Club Sprint Triathlon, 1:28:16, 8th Place Overall Female
  9. August 10, 2014 – E.T. Full Moon Midnight Half Marathon, 1:53:26, 1st Place Age Group
  10. August 16, 2014 – Moms Run This Town Summer Virtual 10k, 52:42
  11. August 25, 2014 – Moms Run This Town Summer Virtual 5k, 23:30
  12. September 21, 2014 – Midnight Cowboy Run 5k, 22:55, 2nd Place Overall Female
  13. October 26, 2014 – Temecula Half Marathon, 1:55:18, 14th Place Age Group
  14. November 15, 2014 – Fit Foodie 5K, 21:34, 4th Place Age Group

So, there you have it.  14 races in 2014.  I’m feeling very accomplished!

 

Did you have any New Year’s Resolutions?  Have you met them?

Santa’s Magic Key

We’ve been having so much fun with our mailbox inspired by Play At Home Mom.  My 4 year old has been writing so many letters and drawing pictures to put in the mailbox.  It is such a joy to see her learning and enjoying learning so much.

The other night as we were laying in bed, Annalie and I were having our usual pillow talk conversations when she asked me, “Mommy, how does Santa get in our house since we don’t have a chimney?”  I wasn’t really sure how to answer her, so I just told her I wasn’t sure, but maybe she could write a letter to him and ask him.  She loved that idea.  In the meantime, I took to Facebook to ask my friends if they had any creative ideas for an answer to her question.

capture

One of my friends suggested I get her a Santa’s Magic Key.  What is that you ask?  Well, it is a key from Santa for people that don’t have a chimney.  You hang it on your font door on Christmas Eve, and the magic key lets Santa into the house.  What a fun idea!  I found a bunch of different styles of keys on Etsy, and decided on this one.

il_570xN_659787633_g105

A few days later, Annalie got to writing her letter.  She of course had to add some spiders and spider webs because Santa obviously likes spiders and spider webs.

IMG_5073

We put her letter in the mailbox that night and while she was sleeping, I swapped it out for an envelope containing the key.

In the morning, she was so excited to check the mailbox and could hardly believe it when she saw the envelope!

IMG_5078

She was jumping around, giddy with excitement!

IMG_5077

She opened the envelope and pulled out the little stocking containing the key.

IMG_5080

I read her the poem that came with the key, saying that the key was magic and that it wouldn’t work for us, but that it would work for Santa and that we should hang it on our door on Christmas Eve.  She was completely fascinated that Santa wrote her back and gave her a magic key.

IMG_5085

Stella was even more excited and pretty much carried the key around with her all day long.

IMG_5084

Annalie couldn’t stop talking about how Santa wrote her a letter all day.  We met up with some friends at the park and she told them all about it and showed them the key.  She even spent the afternoon drawing pictures for Santa and put them in the mailbox for him as well.

It is so much fun seeing the joy of magic and wonder of Christmas with my children.  And when you can transfer that into a learning experience (reading and writing) it just makes it even better.  What a great way to kick off the holiday season in our house.

IMG_5087

 

 

Do you have any fun magic Christmas stories?

The Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend Recap

Last weekend I had the exciting opportunity of attending the weekend long events at the Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend as an Ambassador.  And to make things even more fun, my BFF (and BRF) Sarah from Sarah ‘n Spice was also chosen to be an Ambassador, so we got to make it a super fun girls weekend!

IMG_4902

We headed out of Vegas on Friday morning and got into San Diego just in time for the Light Up The Night VIP Cocktail Party.  This was held at Florent Restaurant and Lounge in the Gaslamp District in San Diego.  At this party, we got to rub shoulders with celebrity trainers, instructors, and chefs and also got to sample some really yummy food and cocktails.

IMG_4903

IMG_4907

IMG_4908

IMG_4904

IMG_4910

After that it was back to our room to lay out our racing outfits for the morning and hit the hay early.

IMG_4927

On Saturday morning, we were up bright and early with a beautiful view on the San Diego harbor.

IMG_4932

We got dressed and headed over to the Hilton Bayfront for the 5K race.

IMG_4934

The course was awesome.  Right along the water and flat.  Perfect conditions for a PR!

IMG_4937

We walked around the Finisher’s Village a bit and then headed over to the stage for a hilariously fun warm up with The Run MC.  This guy is awesome.  I immediately recognized him from the Temecula Half Marathon (he also did the warm up and post race ceremonies for that race).  He is funny and energetic and has got some great dance moves!

IMG_4943

After that was a quick stretch with Kristin McGee and then it was time to head over to the start line.

IMG_4946

This was Sarah’s first race ever, so I was really hoping she would do great.  This was my last race of the year, so I was also hoping to perform well, although I really didn’t have high hopes for a PR.  While I’ve been staying on track with running, I haven’t done speed work in a few months, so I wasn’t sure if a PR was going to happen for me.  But as usual, I just decided to give it my best and have fun.  There were about 1,400 runners, so we were in the second start wave.  The first wave was off and about 5 minutes later it was our turn.

IMG_4947

The course area was pretty small, looping around different areas and then heading back to the start line.  There were a lot of people, so it was a lot of maneuvering around and there was one really bad choke spot where it was single file and I got stuck behind a couple of people, but other than that, the course was really nice.  I’m not a huge fan of 5Ks because I push myself so hard that my whole body hurts for pretty much the entire race.  I really enjoy the long distances better where I can get in the zone and pace myself.  But, at least with a 5K it’s over pretty quickly.  I forgot to start my Garmin, so I had no idea where I was at pace wise.  I just kept pushing and pushing until I got to the final stretch and then I pushed even more to the finish line.  I felt like I was going to die when I got done.  I grabbed some water and got out my video camera so I could capture Sarah coming across the finish line to complete her race.  When she came, I was so excited for her.  She did it!!!  She has been working really hard for this and I was so excited to see her accomplish her goals.  After a congratulatory hug, and some waters, we went over to the results board to see how we did.  She ran faster than she ever had and finished in the top 30% of all runners.  I couldn’t be more proud of her.  And I scored a PR!  Previous to this, my fastest 5K was 22:31 (7.15/mile) and that was back in May.  I hadn’t been able to beat that ever since.  So I was in complete disbelief when I saw my time for this race.  21:34 (6.57/mile).  Holy moly!  I broke under 7:00/mile!!!  Woo hoo! I got 4th in my age group, 8th overall female and 26 overall.  Not to shabby at all if I say so myself!

IMG_4952

Once we were recovered a bit from the race, we headed over to the Finisher’s Village.  There were tons and tons of booths set up with juices, bars, coffees, massages, running attire and a beer garden.

IMG_4956

 

IMG_4960

IMG_4954

We also did some post race workouts with Patrick Goudeau and some more yoga with Kristin McGee.  There were also several cooking demonstrations with Chef Robin Bashinsky and samples of the food he was cooking, as well as prizes given out all day by The Run MC.  All in all, is was a great was to spend the rest of the morning and we had a really good time.

IMG_4957

After some R & R in the room, we headed back over to the Gaslamp District for some dinner and drinks.  We had dinner at Berkley Pizza, a total dive, but with great food and an even better beer selection.

IMG_4965

Then we hit up Barleymash for our favorite Framboise.

IMG_4967

And one last stop at The Tipsy Crow for a drink before catching a ride on a pedicab for a little tour around the area with our hysterical driver Yadi from Lebanon (he was seriously the best!).

IMG_4978

On Sunday, we got up and headed back over to the Hilton for a 60 minute celebrity yoga session with Kristin McGee.

IMG_4984

She is so awesome.  She is super sweet and nice and a really great instructor.  She led us through a pretty tough workout (especially being post race), but it hurt so good!  We got to chat with her for a few minutes and she gave Sarah and I a couple of her DVDs to try at home. I’m really excited to try them out because I haven’t done yoga in a while and it really shows!

IMG_4986

IMG_4998

After yoga, we had a yummy brunch consisting of egg white frittatas, chicken sausage, greek yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, fruit and delicious Stella Cidre.  It was held on an upstairs patio at the hotel overlooking the bay.  It was a beautiful view and a beautiful ending to our fun weekend.

IMG_4987

IMG_4988

IMG_4993

IMG_4989

On top of all the fun we had, we also raised over $1,100 for City of Hope.  Our initial goal was $500 and we more than doubled that.  Thank you so much to everyone who donated.  It really means so much to us and to our dear friend Tom.

capture

All in all, it was really a fun filled weekend that I would definitely do again.  I really want to thank all of the wonderful people at the Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend for giving me the opportunity to attend as an Ambassador.  I would definitely recommend this event to anyone looking to have some fun fitness and food wrapped up into one weekend!

Fabulous Fabletics! {and a Fit Foodie 5K Race Winner}

I’ve professed my love of Fabletics before, so as a huge fan already, I was ecstatic when I heard they were going to be one of the sponsors of the Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend in San Diego, where I will be attending as an ambassador.  As part of the ambassador program, Fabletics sent us each an outfit of our choice.  I already own several of their workout pieces, but you can never have too many workout clothes, right?

I wore these really great running shorts for the E.T. Full Moon Midnight Half Marathon:

10553435_1446667595611267_1201719737506048525_n

And I always gets tons on compliments on this racerback top when I wear it to my gym class:

10696225_1469814076629952_8036769140590658386_n

I am in love with these ombre leggings:

IMG_4118

And now, I’ve got a pretty sweet running jacket and new running capris to add to my collection:

10805823_1495344527410240_8755664471193533475_n

I can’t say enough good things about Fabletics.  The quality of the clothes is top notch.  Everything is comfortable and very stylish and I love having a new workout outfit each month.  Their customer service is awesome too.  One of my pieces didn’t fit right, so I was able to send it back and get a new one super fast, all free of charge!  Now that is what I’m talking about.  Great style, superb quality and excellent customer service.  Definitely a winning combination.

Fabletics by Kate Hudson offers high performance fabrics and fashion-forward styles. Get a complete outfit for only $25 (Top + Bottom) by visiting their website here.

You can also check them out on social media here:

 

And, I’m very excited to announce the winner of a pair of tickets to the Fit Foodie 5K Race and Finisher’s Village:

Capture

Congratulations Anne!  I’ll be in touch with you!