Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.

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So, while walking McKenzie to/from school 3 things happened:

1) We saw this glorious piece of work…pimp-mobile anyone? Then I’m wondering: are they passionate about cereal, or trying to make a clever implication that they like prostitutes? What’s the deal? McKenzie thought it was awesome though, she said, “Look! What a cool car! Can we get colorful wheels?”
2) Walking back from her school I got hollered at not once, but twice…no make-up & in workout clothes…obviously I’m not visibly preggo with a jacket on yet. Not gonna lie, it made my day. Haha.
AND 3) A young fellow with dreadlocks stopped his car and offered to help me walk my dogs, who were both heeling perfectly. Goodness, I’m flattered, but I cannot wait to move…we don’t even live in a bad area! Either way, I’m definitely ready for a change. And a single-family house. It’s nice to know I’ve still “got it” though. ;) Know what I’m sayin?

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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!

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. =)