Family Advent Activities

The holiday season is upon us and I’m sure you’re busy prepping to make it special for your loved ones.  This year our family will be utilizing a beautiful Advent calendar that was gifted to us two years ago from my husband’s parents. So, I took to Pinterest and utilized my early childhood background and came up with some fun family traditions to implement this year.

Having a toddler and an infant means that we have to be strategic with our activities.  Doing bigger activities such as bake cookies or watch a Christmas movie have to be planned for the weekend.  Since I am a full time working mom and my wonderful husband works quite a far distance from home, I will be leaving some activities for my mom to do with the kids.

So, here goes.  These are the memories we will be making this year.

Dec. 1- Decorate the Christmas tree.  This will become an annual kick off to the advent season. Such a fun way to go through ornaments and remember the stories behind them.

Dec. 2- Felt Christmas tree (like this one). I’ve done this with my classroom and the kids love it!

Dec. 3- See Santa Claus at the Bountiful Gifts Pancake breakfast to support the Christmas program.

Dec. 4- Color Christmas cards for the troops

Dec. 5- Color melt ornaments with crayons.  Found here. Instead of fish, I am going to cut out stars.

Dec. 6- Snow dough

Dec. 7- Read 3 books at bedtime.  Our daughter LOVES to read and the only time we have to limit books is at bedtime.  Otherwise, we would be reading for hours.  Normally we only read 2 books, so this will be a little treat.

Dec. 8- Make a bird feeder.  We will put this outside the playroom so the kids can watch the birds!

Dec. 9- Watch a Christmas movie

Dec. 10- Special donut breakfast.  My husband and I both have fond memories of visiting a local bakery that makes amazing donuts.  However, our local store closed.  But, alas, I found the original location when I was pregnant.  I stopped once and quickly fell in love again.

Dec. 11- Have hot chocolate

Dec. 12- Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments. Recipe here

Dec. 13- Ribbon and Bow painting

Dec. 14- Have a special snack after nap

Dec. 15- Do a Christmas puzzle.  This could be hard to find.  So, my plan is to print off Christmas pictures or use book jackets and glue them onto cardboard.  Then use scissors to cut into puzzle pieces.

Dec. 16- Drive around and see Christmas lights

Dec. 17- Make Christmas cookies and deliver them to friends

Dec. 18- Make Christmas pancakes

Dec. 19- Snow paint. I got this idea from our SPARK program, but here is the recipe.

Dec. 20- Make bead candy canes (Awesome fine motor activity)

Dec. 21-Read a book about the birth of Jesus

Dec. 22- Make ice cream cone Christmas trees

Dec. 23- Read The Night Before Christmas

Dec. 24- Attend Christmas Eve mass

I’m looking forward to beginning this tradition and teaching our children to be giving and kind.  I will say that it is important to provide opportunities for children to help others or show love to others throughout the year and not just at Christmas time.  What plans do you have for your family this holiday season?  Or, what is your favorite pastime?




Postpartum Release

It is official! I have been released, well almost two weeks ago, to return back to my fitness journey.  I am 10 lbs. from my pre-pregnancy weight (which was around 35lbs weight gain).  However, I would like to lose 15lbs because I had added a few extra pounds prior to getting pregnant that I was trying to lose, but alas those holiday cakes won’t eat themselves.

Now that I have had the go ahead to return to my normal activity, I am struggling to find time.  Our toddler does not sleep well and of course I am the sole provider of food for the newborn that I am up constantly in the middle of the night.  This makes waking up at the crack of dawn completely unrealistic.  So, what about nap time? Well, this time is used to catch up on cleaning the house, nursing the little one, or quite honestly napping myself.

I don’t want to seem like I am full of excuses, but I’m still trying to figure out life.  I will be returning to work and balancing that as well.  I know I can handle everything, but I give props to every single parent that is doing it alone.  I would be in complete shambles if it weren’t for my husband and both sets of parents.  I love that our families are so involved in our kids lives and that we are able to do lots of things with all of them together.

This means, that I will have support and help from family in my fitness journey.  I know my mom would sign up for any race I would ask her to.  My husband will watch the kids while I head to our basement gym or out in the elements for a workout.  It is nice to have constant support from friends and family on social media as well.  The small validation that what you are working so hard on is paying off really helps to keep one motivated.  I personally believe that is why all the beach body coaches are so successful in their journey!

My plan is to work out 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes.  After all, this seems to be the most recommended practice anyway.  I may have to break my workouts into 2-15 minute sessions, but that is ok with me.  I have to cut back on the sugar and refocus my diet as well.  Although abs can be worked on by doing certain exercises, our food intake is the primary reason we maintain weight in our midsection.   I just have to remind myself that it took 9 months to put on the weight, I can’t expect it to come off in 9 weeks.

In the meantime, be confident, be fit, be you!

Pittsburgh Zoo

A few weeks back, as the weather started to decline, I decided to venture out of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.  I had a free pass for 2 adults and 2 children and it expired at the end of the year, so I had to make good use of the tickets.  I twisted my mom’s arm to come with me, seeing how 3 car seats would not fit in my car.  So, we checked the weather and there was going to be a nice 56* day later in the week.

This zoo is not exactly close in proximity to home when venturing with 2- two year olds and a 6 week old.  But we managed.  I hadn’t been to this zoo in probably 10 years (the last time was with two friends from high school).  I remember it being pretty hilly and that the weather was complete crap on the day we were there so we rushed through because most of the animals weren’t out anyway.

Well, my memory should have steered me clear and maybe offered the tickets to someone else.  We had 2 strollers (one with deflated tires) to get together and three kids that needed diaper changes.  We stroll into the zoo and it looks like nothing is open.  Yes, we are visiting out of prime zoo season, but the animals don’t go anywhere and you’re still open, so you should look like it.  I failed to pack an actual lunch and only packed car snacks and the kids were hungry, after all it was almost noon.

We ventured to the little kid area, praying their would be food available close to their play grounds.  No such luck and barely any employees available to ask.  I finally just asked another mom and she pointed me to the complete opposite side of the park for our only food option.  So, off we went as we quickly looked at the animals on our way- these hill were too much to conquer twice when pushing a deflated stroller.

We passed the area where the shark was supposed to be, but apparently they are getting new ones and therefore cleaning the tanks- so nothing to see there.  The polar bear was in his habitat swimming around, but the middle school kids were busy playing on their phones and just sitting right in front of the glass.  It seemed like a good portion of the animals were gone and the habitats were closed for the season.

But alas, we made it to our lunch destination and finally had a good animal experience!  You can sit outside and basically eat with the giraffes!  They are pretty close and quite exciting.  The zebras had zero interest in the humans walking and eating by them.  The giraffes, on the other hand, were hoping to stretch their necks just far enough to snag some little kids lunch.  The tots really enjoyed the dining experience and so we stuck around there for a little while.  Besides, we didn’t know what the rest of the zoo would entail and the daunting drive back didn’t seem as appealing either.

As we continued our animal safari through the zoo, we encountered elephants, ostrich, and a jaguar that was playing with a rather large foam block.  At this point it was getting to be late in the afternoon and we still had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us.  So, we piled in the car and headed home.  This whole trip took 2.5 hours to drive there, 4 hours to drive home (accident and stopping to change and feed kids), and only 3 hours at the zoo.  Although I love zoo adventures, I think I’ll wait another 10 years before I consider going back to Pittsburgh.