10 Awesome Holiday Gift Ideas for Preschoolers & Kindergarteners

If you’re like me, every year I struggle to come up with awesome kid’s gift ideas for the holidays. And if your child is like mine, they probably have a lot of stuff that they rarely play with already…so why add to the junk? That said, over the past few years McKenzie has gotten some pretty cool stuff that she regularly plays with and/or uses. In my opinion, the best gifts are those that encourage creative family play, and are ones that I actually enjoy playing with her. Here are my top 10 (mostly) gender-neutral gift ideas, that are fun and reasonably priced…we either have these already, or they’re on our wish-list!

  1. Marble Race ($24.99) McKenzie got this last year for Christmas, and both Jon & I have fun building it with her. She still needs help at age 4, but it’s a great way to spend time together. It provides hours of entertainment! Just be careful if your child has younger siblings, the marbles could be choking hazards!

    Marble Race $24.99

  2. Melissa & Doug Wooden Blocks ($69.99…currently on sale $48.99) I love these because they’re gender-neutral and full of potential…the possibilities are endless! Towers, castles, bridges, etc. They are extremely good quality and come in a convenient, matching wooden crate for easy storage. These will easily last for whenever we have a 2nd child, or even grandchildren!

    Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Wooden Block Set, $48.99

  3. High Five Magazine ($34.44 for 12 issues) Perfect for a boy or girl, this gift keeps giving all year ’round! McKenzie loves the “Tex & Indi” stories in each issue, the “hidden pictures,” and also the interactive activities at the back of each magazine (ie: matching games, build-a-book, etc). She really looks forward to getting her own “mail” each month!

    High Five Magazine (Ages 2-6) $34.44 for 12 issues

  4. Discovery Kids 77-Piece Build & Play Construction Fort Set  ($24.99) I got this for McKenzie this year, so we haven’t opened it…but it just looked really fun for building forts! Maybe regular ‘ol chairs and blankets would be better, but it looked pretty cool. You can make rockets, tunnels, castles, or whatever their little hearts desire! My husband mentioned that you could probably buy two and combine them for an even more awesome fort. We’ll see how she likes it! Blanket not included. ;)

    Discovery 77-Piece Construction Fort Set, $24.99

  5. IKEA 20-Piece Train Set ($9.99) If you’re fortunate enough to have an IKEA nearby (or maybe a relative does?!) this little set is great for preschoolers & kindergarteners. McKenzie got this when she was 2½, and she still plays with it. For $9.99 you can’t go wrong!

    IKEA 20-Piece Train Set, $9.99

  6. Melissa & Doug Sandwich Making Set OR Wooden Food for Slicing ($19.99 each) These foods are fun, gender-neutral, and encourage hours of imaginative playtime away from the TV. Who can complain? As with all Melissa & Doug toys, the solid wood quality and craftsmanship ensure the product will withstand preschooler/kindergartener play. In my opinion, the only down-side is the multiple small pieces eventually disappear over time…but they always seem to re-appear, too. ;)

    Melissa & Doug Food Sets, $19.99 each

  7. KidKraft Fire Station Set or KidKraft Dollhouse ($109.99|$99.99) Although we don’t have the fire station, it could easily be fun for a girl or boy. I love that all the pieces are included and it sits atop a lazy-susan, so it swivels around. If you’re looking for something more girly, McKenzie has the dollhouse. Again, all the pieces shown are included, and I love that it has a removable roof. I chose it because it’s portable, and we can easily move it around from room to room. I’d recommend purchasing a couple extra dollsthough, ’cause it only comes with two. Assembly is super-easy, and it has stood up to hours of play.

    KidKraft Firehouse ($109.99), KidKraft Dollhouse ($99.99)

  8. Annual Family Zoo Pass ($109 in Milwaukee…check local pricing!) Although Madison has a free local zoo affiliated with the University, Milwaukee’s Zoo is much larger and has a lot more animals. Check your local Zoos to see how much an annual family pass costs! In Milwaukee it’s only $109 for the Membership Plus package, which includes parking. Great for making memories together as a family!

    Annual Family Zoo Pass “Plus,” $109

  9. Huffy Bike ($39.97) According to the LiveStrong website, 12″ bikes are ideal for ages 3-5. Kids always love a new bike, and at less than $40 (including training wheels!) you really can’t go wrong. Hopefully McKenzie will be getting one this year. She was lucky enough to get a hand-me-down from a neighbor, but there’s something about having a sparkly new one to to call your own, ya know? She already gets enough thrifted clothing and toys, she can be spoiled by her Grandpa a little. ;) Maybe we’ll even jazz it up with these cool princess accessories. Also, since we don’t have this bike yet, I can’t speak to the ease of assembly, so if you’ve done it, please let me know. Annnnd of course if you do get your kiddo a new bike for Christmas, be sure they start practicing bicycle safety early and always wear a helmet!

    Huffy 12″ Bikes, $39.97

  10. Disney Sleeping Bag Girl or Boy ($19.99) These sleeping bags could be used anywhere, from Grandma’s House to a sleepover, to a sick day in the living room. They are inexpensive, and yet they take up a lot of room under the tree…which is awesome. Although this sleeping bag is clearly not intended for outdoor/cold-weather use, it would be really fun for a kid to curl up and snuggle in it, even in his/her own bed! As an added bonus, it comes with a pretty cool carrier backpack. Score. Please note, the suggested age is 4+

    Disney Sleeping Bags, $19.99

**If you’re looking for an awesome 1-year old gift, I like this KidKraft Deluxe Activity Walker ($46.99). We’ll probably be getting it for our friends who have 8-month-old identical twin boys. =)

KidKraft Deluxe Activity Walker, $46.99

Do you have any great gift ideas for kids? I’d love to hear them!

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A Love Story.

May 2003

Once upon a time, in early May 2002, Girl met Boy in study hall. It was her Freshman year of high school, and Girl thought Boy was pretty cute. He was older and he could drive, so that was awesome too…but not only was Boy cute, he was sweet and respectful, which Girl appreciated very much.

On their first date Girl and Boy watched a movie, complete with Twizzlers, which was supervised by her terminally ill (yet very protective!) daddy. Girl and Boy would talk on the phone til 3 in the morning, go on long walks in the park, and fell in love pretty much immediately. Their first kiss was May 21st, 2002 and they were 15 and 17, respectively. The rest is history.

Almost a year later, Girl’s daddy passed away in March 2003, and Boy was always there for Girl. He took two days off school to be with Girl. He sat next to her at the funeral and held her hand. Boy’s family was very supportive of Girl, too, and always there for her as well. But only three months later Boy left for Bootcamp because he had joined the United States Marine Corps, and Girl was very sad. Girl missed him very much and wrote him letters all the time.

Bootcamp Graduation

Boy graduated Bootcamp in September 2003, and became a machine-gunner with 2/7 Weapons Company, stationed in the Mojave Desert in California. Girl still missed Boy very much. He bought his first cell phone so they could talk on the phone all the time, and they did. They saw each other on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

But they found out that Boy would be deployed to Iraq less than 5 months after graduating Bootcamp. Girl was scared and missed Boy more than ever. He left on Valentine’s Day, 2004, and they celebrated their 2 year anniversary in May with a long phone call. He was an accident in July which resulted in Boy calling Girl from the hospital with internal bleeding. She was terrified. Boy was resilient, though, and completed his 7-month tour, returning in September 2004 at the beginning of Girl’s Senior year of high school. They went to her Homecoming together, and his Marine Corps Ball. Since Girl had turned 18, she would fly to visit him whenever she had a chance, whether it was in L.A., Palm Springs, or Las Vegas. They loved each other very, very much and knew the long-distance was worth it.

Married June 17th, 2005

In February 2005, Boy flew home and surprised Girl. He proposed! Her Mom and sister were both willing accomplices in the surprise, and very supportive. Girl was over-the-moon! But then Boy found out that he had to deploy to Iraq for a 2nd tour in July 2005. Girl and Boy were both sad. They were going to wait to get married until after he returned, but eventually decided to “take the plunge” before he deployed. They got married less than a week after Girl’s graduation from high school on June 17th, 2005, after 3 years of dating. She was 18 and he was 20, and they were very happy.

Less than 3 weeks later, on the 4th of July, Boy left for his 2nd deployment to Iraq. Again, Girl was scared and missed Boy horribly. She knew he was in Fallujah and constantly in danger, so while Boy was gone she tried to stay busy. She was accepted to a top-tier university and decided to start her higher education in the Spring. Girl wanted to have a “normal” college experience, so she lived in the dorms. She had a great roommate and they had a lot of fun, but she was very studious as well. Girl was always faithful to her beloved Boy, and eagerly awaited his calls. ((And if anyone has ever said otherwise, they were fucking liars…mmmmmm-kay?))

Fallujah, Iraq 2005

Girl did very well in college, but after 1 semester, Girl could not bear to be away from Boy voluntarily any longer. 2½ years apart was enough! She decided to put school on “pause,” and she moved to California so she and Boy could be together at last. Boy returned safely from his 2nd deployment in late January 2006, but 3 of his good friends had been killed in action, so it was bittersweet. Girl was happy to have Boy back, and they were both very happy to be together again.

Girl had gotten Marine Corps base housing, and prepared the home for his arrival, meaning she bought a bedroom set. ((Heh, heh.)) Boy and Girl did a lot of furniture shopping together, and overall enjoyed each others’ company. It was refreshing to be together and they were still very much in love. This was the beginning of their married life together, without a war keeping them apart. In Spring 2006, they welcomed two puppies into their little family, a golden retriever and a yellow lab. Girl, Boy, and The Dogs were a little family. But it was not always happy. Boy was often irritable and volatile…an often unseen after-effect of war. This was a difficult time for Girl, but they changed and grew together, and never gave up on each other. They were still very much in love.

Girl & Boy 2006

Luckily, Boy did not have to deploy anymore. After 4 long years, he was honorably discharged from the Marines in June 2007. Boy and Girl moved back to their home state, and decided that they would finish college together. The adjustment was hard, but they supported each other completely. Boy got a part-time job at UPS to help pay the bills and provide health insurance, and fortunately the GI Bill helped with the rest of their expenses.

Girl was able to attend classes full-time, and was excited to be back in academia, but Boy was having trouble transitioning from a combat Marine mentality to the “civilian world.” Boy missed his friends, and it was a difficult change from the Marine Corps Infantry lifestyle. Mentally, the change was tough on Boy. Having been there with Boy, and experiencing it first-hand, Girl supported Boy and encouraged him to move forward and make progress. She listened. She didn’t pry or push. But she was always there, his constant. It was a very private and personal struggle.

35 weeks, July 2008.

On December 14th, 2007, they found out Girl was pregnant. This was a BIG surprise for Boy and Girl, since they had just started school again. The timing was not ideal, as their steady military income was gone, but Boy and Girl had been together for 5½ years, married for 2½ years, with two 7-month combat deployments behind them…so they knew if they could handle that, they could handle anything.

In March 2008, they learned that they were expecting a Little Princess. Girl was uncomfortable and felt like there was a parasite in her body draining all her energy. Boy was nervous and wondered if he would be a good Daddy, but Girl had no doubts that he would be an amazing father. They became more and more excited each day, and eagerly awaited the arrival of their Little Princess.

Little Princess, born August 24th, 2008

Nearly two weeks past her due date, Girl had become convinced that Little Princess was trying to torture her, but on August 24th, 2008, Little Princess made her arrival at 7:54pm. She weighed 7lbs. 11oz. and was 20 inches long. Little Princess was absolutely perfect, and Boy and Girl were amazed by the Little Princess they had created together. So Little Princess joined Boy, Girl, and The Dogs, and their little family grew.

Little Princess was a mercifully well-behaved little baby. Girl loved to play dress-up with Little Princess and give her lots of cuddles. Boy loved to tickle Little Princess to make her giggle, and give her lots of kisses. The birth of Little Princess also helped Boy change his outlook on life: he felt hopeful again, where he had previously been struggling with the mental implications of combat. Boy was constantly striving to overcome any war-related issues he had, not only for himself, but also for his relationship with Girl and Little Princess.

Little Princess, 4 months

Boy and Girl continued to go to school, which was very tricky with Little Princess. Boy and Girl both switched to part-time, but they alternated school days and made it work. They were both very determined to reach their goals, not only for themselves, but to set a good example for Little Princess. Little Princess was a very loved little child. Soon she was babbling and walking, and before they knew it, she turned 1….and then 2. Boy and Girl just loved watching Little Princess grow up.

Soon after Little Princess’s 2nd birthday, Girl’s mom became gravely ill, with a combination of heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, and lung failure. Girl was very close with her mother and was devastated. Boy was an amazing and supportive husband, and he encouraged Girl to go spend as much time as possible with her mother, even though she was far away in California. But Boy was sad too, because he had known Girl’s mother for 8 years, and also because he knew that Girl was sad. Eventually, Girl’s mom came home from the hospital for hospice care and she passed away 6 days later on October 3rd, 2010.

Girl & Boy, Caribbean Cruise 2011

Little Princess was too young to understand why Girl was upset and sad, but Boy was a great husband and Daddy, so he always tried to cheer Girl up. He told her he loved her all the time, and always let her know she could talk if she wanted. Girl was grateful. But within the next few months, Girl’s remaining 3 grandparents died too, and it was overwhelming. Boy was vigilant and always let Girl know that he was there for her.

But Girl and Boy always made time for each other, they would go on dinner dates and grown-up vacations together. Their relationship was very important to them, so they made it a priority in their lives.

Over the next year, Little Princess turned 3. Time was flying. School kept Girl busy. Her hard work paid off. In December 2011, Girl graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics, and minors in Women’s Studies and TESOL. She was very proud of herself, and Boy was very proud of her. He told her all the time. And Girl also knew her parents would have been proud, which made her feel good.

Girl Graduates College, 2011

Boy was going to graduate soon too (within the year), and Girl and Boy planned on moving back to California to get grown-up jobs. They loved the weather there, and Little Princess could play outside all day long if she wanted to. So, Girl started a photography business because she didn’t want to get a job and have to move right away, because it seemed impractical. Throughout the year, Boy kept busy with his last couple semesters of class, and Girl worked on her business. Boy had come very far recovering from the traumas of war, and Girl and Boy loved each other more than ever. They could still talk until 3 in the morning.

First Day of Kindergarten!

As for their Little Princess, she was growing fast…too fast! In August 2012, Little Princess turned 4. The next month, Little Princess started 4K kindergarten. Girl and Boy wondered where the time was going. And Boy started his very last semester of college. Then their plans for California changed.

The military had always been an ever-present thought for Boy. He knew that he missed it, and Girl knew it too. He missed the camaraderie, the structure, the “Man Shit,” the teamwork, the leadership, and the sense of purpose. In Fall 2012, Boy decided he wanted to join the Army (the Marines were downsizing and no longer taking prior service). Girl wanted Boy to be happy, and she was very supportive of Boy. She knew that nothing would ever compare to the military for him. Plus, Girl had her bachelor’s degree, so she wouldn’t need to work at the PX for minimum wage, or live vicariously through her husband’s accomplishments.

On November 8th, 2012, Boy officially enlisted in the Army, with Girl’s blessing. It was going to be a new adventure. By this time, Boy and Girl had been together 10½ years, married for 7½ years, and knew that together they could handle anything.

Now, Boy and Girl were not perfect, by any means, but they worked hard at their relationship. They tried, and continue to try. They communicated and never tore each other down. They refused to ever give up, and never will. They will always be there for one another, loving and supporting each other, through anything, no matter what. ‘Til death do them part.

Boy + Girl = Forever

A Little Flare…

So I’ve been practicing some new photography techniques lately, and these are photos from one of the sessions I did with McKenzie:I really like how they turned out, and there’s a totally different “feel” to them from my other photography. Although, it’s tricky since the sun only gives this light for a 30 minute window before sunset. I was going for the “sunflare” effect. Although, she looks like a teenager to me in some of these pics, so please tell her to stop growing up so quickly. Thanks.

Anyhow, we had a fun weekend at our house. My sister and Abbey (my niece) came for an impromptu visit. We had tons of fun. McKenzie and Abbey played a lot, and we just sat and talked. On Sunday, we went and saw Breaking Dawn Part 2…which I really enjoyed. I thought it was well-done, although I haven’t read the books in 3 years, so I might not be as critical as a “Twi-hard.”

Then, yesterday, Jon and I went with our friends Anna & Scott to see Dan Savage (a witty, hilarious sex columnist), speak on the UW-Madison campus. He’s awesome. It was almost like a comedy show! The entire lecture was a Q & A from the audience, and there was some funny stuff. I wasn’t disappointed. I have his “Savage Love” app on my phone, and frankly, it’s fascinating to read some of people’s strange sexual practices. Very entertaining.

On another note, I’m working on writing down my love story with Jon. It’s in a creative writing format, but it was fun to do! I’m done, I just need to add pictures. I will make it a post, but also a “tab” at the top. I’m looking forward to hearing input about it! =)

South Carolina Pulled Pork Recipe

My good friend made this recipe for dinner when we were at her house, and let me tell you: it was memorable! The mustard-based recipe is actually very simple to make, it just takes awhile to bake to the ultimate tenderness. It’s worth the wait, I promise! Enjoy. =)

SOUTH CAROLINA PULLED PORK RECIPE

Prep Time 30min | Cook Time 6-8 hours

MEAT & RUB

  • 3-5 lbs pork shoulder roast (aka “butt roast”)
  • 3 tbsp. dry mustard (I used ‘ground mustard,’ which I found in the spice aisle)
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1½ tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in bowl and coat meat with the rub. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. (Although, I just popped it in the oven right away.)

SAUCE

  • ½ cup dijon mustard
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (white is fine too)
  • 2 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used the Asian hot sauce Siracha)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Spicier version: ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, ½ tsp. additional black pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in bowl, refrigerate until needed.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 225° and bake the seasoned meat for 2 hours per pound, mine was 3 lbs so I baked it for 6 hours. ((If you want to speed up cooking time, bake at 275°  for 1½ hours per pound.))
  • 30 minutes prior to completion, coat meat with ½ cup of the sauce.
  • When meat is finished, let cool for 15 minutes. This is a good time to bake the buns/rolls if they’re not already made!
  • Pull meat apart with your hands or forks.
  • Microwave sauce for 45 seconds or until warm, and coat meat with the remaining sauce.
  • You’re done! I love them served on Rhodes Texas Rolls, which I found in my grocery store’s freezer section. Enjoy!

If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

Here in Madison there’s a delicious local eatery called Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. The food is absolutely amazing! All homemade, and it’s the perfect diner “feel.” I particularly love the breakfasts, fish fry, and desserts. ;)

We discovered it about a year ago, and we made it our “Tuesday Tradition.” Every Tuesday before Jon’s classes at UW we have breakfast, and then McKenzie and I head over to the Madison Children’s Museum, where we have an annual pass. So much fun! Did you ever have any restaurant traditions when you were a kid? My family always went out to dinner when we (my sister and I) got good grades on our report cards…because we were smarty pants’ like that. ;)

Anyhow this is a picture of McKenzie at “Blue Plate” this summer…they always have chalk out in the summer, so her shirt is covered in chalk. Haha. =)

In other news, my sister is coming for  a visit this weekend with my niece, Abbey. McKenzie and Abbey are going to have so much fun! And I’m keeping it a surprise for Kenzers, so tomorrow she’ll wake up and Abbey will be here…I can just picture the joy on her face! But I love surprises, Jon hates them. I think they’re fun.

So for dinner tonight I’m making an amazing pulled pork recipe we had at a friend’s house, with homemade rub and sauce. It’s SO good. I’m not sure where the recipe is from (because she just texted me a picture of the recipe), but it’s called “South Carolina Pulled Pork.” YUM! I already made the sauce, and it was all very easy. Probably less than 20 minutes of prep. I’ll post the recipe & pics tomorrow, because it’s definitely worth sharing!

Getting an early start on the holidays…

Today I decided to get an early start on the Holidays and ordered our Christmas Cards! I used Shutterfly and I love how they turned out. I think they look like artwork! And you all know how I love a deal, so I used 2 coupon codes: 40% off holiday cards (code: holiday) and free shipping on orders of over $30 (code: ship30)…my order of 50 cards went from $97 to $57. Score!

Also, this past weekend Nina (grandma) came to visit. ((“Nina” used to be called “Nana,” but when McKenzie was a wee toddler she couldn’t pronounce Nana, so she’s been Nina ever since.)) Anyhow, we had a girl’s morning and went to the farmer’s market together with McKenzie, while daddy stayed homeand did homework. McKenzie had a ton of fun climbing a tree on the Capitol Square, and Nina got some delicious, local whipped honey. Yummmmm. And as you can see, they maintain the grass very well there…it’s so green. =)

At the last farmer’s market of the year with Momma & Nina.

Later that day, after Nina left, we made the 2 hour drive up to Wausau to visit Jon’s cousin and his family. I just love to see McKenzie play with her cousins, and frankly it’s fun to get just out of the house and chat with other adults.

I also love visiting their house simply because they have such a lovely home. It makes me SO excited to buy a house someday. I love that we own our condo, but I can’t wait to have my own home and yard. It will be so nice when I can just let the dogs out the back door! *sigh* Someday. So tell me you guys: is home-ownership everything it’s cracked up to be?

Happy 237th Birthday USMC.

First of all, happy 237th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Especially my favorite Marine, my wonderful husband, Jon. 2 Iraq combat deployments as a machine gunner, and I was so happy to have him home. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since he got out…he’s grown so much. And now he’s about to graduate from a top tier university. I’m so, so proud of him and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the past 10 years with anyone else.

Anyhow, this weekend we’re going “Up North” to visit Jon’s cousin. It will be so fun! They have a 2 year-old daughter and I’m sure she and McKenzie will get along marvelously. More “life” updates to come soon. =)

A break from all things political…

Here is a short, heartwarming story…at least I think so:
When I arrived at school today, McKenzie’s co-teacher approached me and said, “I just have to tell you something that happened last week. We were all walking back to the classroom from outside, and I fell behind because of my bad leg. All the students and the other teacher were already around the corner, and McKenzie came back for me and said ‘Don’t worry Miss Mary, I’ll wait for you.’ I just had to tell you, she is such a little treasure. The most genuinely caring child I’ve ever met.” This woman has been a teacher for 30+ years…talk about making a momma proud! Maybe it’s because her Daddy’s a Marine: “leave no man behind.” Haha. ;) But seriously, I am so thankful for that little princess. She is literally our pride & joy.

A fun weekend & a new (big) purchase.

I have so much fun just getting out of the house as a family and enjoying our city. Saturday morning we went to the Farmer’s Market on the Capitol Square (for those not familiar with Madison, the entire block around the Capitol building is full of local farmers…at least a quarter mile around).  It’s a blast just to walk around and sample foods/buy fresh fruits & veggies. After walking around, we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, “The Old Fashioned,” where we enjoyed local Wisconsin fare, including Beer Cheese Soup and deep-fried cheese curds with ranch dipping sauce…it sounds gross, but it’s SO delicious. In fact, that was my only craving during my pregnancy with McKenzie. Haha.

I had a photo session scheduled at 4, so after our scrumptious meal I headed out since it was an hour away. I got some fun shots, here is my favorite family photo (below). The little boy was having a hard day…I’ve never photographed a baby that didn’t like me! You can see  the concern on his face. He’d cry whenever I got near! Oh well. I still think they turned out nicely.

In other news, I’ve been looking for a workout buddy for awhile now, to no avail. *sigh* Having someone to workout with really helps keep me accountable and motivated! It’s a big help. BUT, then I thought: “Well, if I had a treadmill in my house, I would literally have no excuse.” So with my hubby’s blessing (what husband would say no to that), I went out and bought a treadmill. I love running when I can get into it…even walking would be helpful at this point. I’ve been inexcusably sedentary lately. Probably due to my notorious Netflix addiction. Haha.

ANYWAY, after McKenzie was born, I lost all the weight very quickly (36lbs total…thanks to the aforementioned cheese curds) just by walking/running 2 miles a day on our treadmill. Just 2 miles while she was napping. Very easy. But for some reason (I seriously don’t remember), we sold it. Soooo I went out to buy one with 2 major criteria in mind: it had to have incline, and it had to fold up to save space. I settled on the Lifespan 1200i (which was on sale for $999, originally $1,599).

I really love it so far, and it is very high quality…much better than our last one, which was a ProForm. The motor is much quieter,  so I’m sure our condo neighbors will love that. And I love that it has incline/speed buttons on the arms of it. It’s an incredibly convenient feature. My starting goal is just 2 miles/day. I think that’s really manageable, and it will be doable with McKenzie in the house. Score! If anyone has any good running routines/tips, feel free to let me know! Or even healthy (and tasty!) meal ideas, I’m lookin’ for those too. =)

A FREE Petti Skirt Giveaway by Mommy’s Little Sunshine!

Hi all, I just wanted to share a giveaway with you! I follow the blog for the children’s boutique Mommy’s Little Sunshine, and tomorrow they will be giving away FREE Petti Skirts! (Saturday, November 3rd, starting at 11am central time.)

They are originally valued at $48.99 and SO cute…best of all, they’re FREE. I’ll be ordering the hot pink. =) Be sure to “like” them on Facebook to get the coupon code and information on future giveaways, they have really cute stuff!