Christmas Fun: Story time with the Polar Express

So not bad for a Friday night but we decided to go to the Barnes and Nobles story time of the Polar Express reading by Chris Van Allsburg for the 30th celebration!!

The reading included hot chocolate and cookies and Christmas carols. It was an amazing time.

The kids enjoyed wearing their pajamas outside the house!!! I enjoyed the fact that there’s no place I would love to be than in my favorite store of Barnes and Nobles.

We ended our night with you guessed it purchasing books!

Take some time to Google free events in your area especially around the holidays. You will be amazed of the fun you can have!!

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Holiday Etiquette

The holidays are high time. Between happy hours, holiday parties, and company parties the list is endless in how to celebrate it. One of the things we must tackle today is holiday etiquette.

Invites and the NO Game

We know that for most of us we are going to get swamped by so many invitations. Keep in mind that you have to understand that not all invitations will be a go. I used to be the type that felt like I had to spread myself thin trying to accommodate everyone’s event. That is not the case now. Between working, my family, blogging, friends, it is impossible to be everywhere at the same time. For that my NO muscles gets worked extra during this time of the year. I get so many people caught in their feelings but what I remember most is that others will do the same so I have to take care of me and mine. Do Not feel obligated to attend all events. Do you know how much it cost? You may need an outfit, transportation, a hostess gift, a regular gift depending on the event, babysitter if you have kids like me and everyone wanting no kids to be included, and just man hours to juggle it all, someone is definitely getting a NO. I have the holidays to prepare for on top of all of that and my own traditions to uphold too. Juggle but don’t break or break the bank attempting to be something to the very folks that wouldn’t extend themselves to you.

beverage blur candy candy cane

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Gifts, Gifts, Gifts

I love giving gifts. However instead of buying for everyone I find ways to one cut my cost. I stick to my budget and I always come under it. I hate attempting to feel as if I am overspending. I have goal and none of those goals will be accomplished if I am feeling guilty and having to recover after the Holidays from spending too much. There are ways to get around the whole spending too much. Instead of attempting to give each kid a gift in the family, make family baskets, filled with holiday classic movies, popcorn, candy, etc.  What you have created is a great family day in. The snow is going to come and that is the gift that keeps on giving especially where little kids are concerned. I also like to give the gift of entertainment. I can get families with children a gift card to an activity that I know they would love. Trust me with 3 kids of my own, someone paying for my kids on activities they know I am already going to attend is a savings. I also elect not to do gifts. If I am meeting up with friends, having dinner or drinks, sometimes just the gift of time is priceless. This means that us getting together and me spending time brunching, etc is a gift in itself. I have one friend that we meet up New Years Eve and do an early dinner.

Dranks, Pour it Up!

Be careful who you are around and the company you are keeping as you indulge. If you are at a company event, be smart. Have a drink or two but never more than that if you know that you are the type that has loose lips or will behave out of character. Worst than a one night stand walk of shame is the walk in shame the day or weekend after the holiday party where you got a little too loose. Don’t let this be you. Get a Uber or Lyft or have a designated driver. Do not drink buzzed or drunk. Trust me the price is more than you are willing and can afford. The most devastating time is having someone die at the hands of a drunk driver and around the holidays. Be careful.  Limit the amount of drinking you plan on enjoying. Make sure that you know your limit. Do not test your limit in a mixed crowd.

four champagne flutes with assorted color liquids

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Pot Lucky Unlucky Moments

Please do not be a hero making a new dish to bring to the potluck and it’s a meal that hasn’t been approved. This is not the time to flex. Opt to bring the adult juice or at least something that is edible. Also if you have pets, for the sake of all of those involved even if you think it’s a great idea to have your cat or dog in your kitchen, leave them out while you cook for others. This is an issue as to why I always ask, who made that? Why? Everyone ain’t as clean and pet hair in my food is not what I call a Holly Jolly Time. Please practice hand washing and make sure you aren’t cross-contaminating with the food or cooking utensils either. How you cook is just important to what you bring to the potluck.

This is a small list. Like I could have included re-gifting items you don’t want. If you plan on doing so, make sure it’s at least a gift thar a person would actually like. Don’t give gloves just for the sake of not having a gift. Put some thought. Gift like you would want to be gifted. There are so many price points to keep in mind. If you are attending an event, attempt to go to the event. I have had times when emergencies have come, but be sure that you aren’t RSVP to something you have no plans on coming. Also be sure to limit your drinks. Nothing is worst than having to figure out as a hostess how to get your guest home.  Be considerate of others. They may have said no to your invitation because it’s too much for them. They may not want to come or they may just been bombarded by so many invites that it could be too much for them to handle.

Have some fun. Show holiday spirit but be considerate of others around you!

Monday Motivation: Checking in on Others

The holidays are in full swing. Its going to be so much going on and before you know it the year will be over. Why is it important on a Monday to talk about checking in on others? Strong people have a tendency to hold themselves in and not really open up. You can send a text and get a response that things are fine but there is something uniquely special about a phone call.  People’s voice and really making sure they are okay are important.

shallow focus photography of a woman in green top wearing white coat

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So slow it down a little bit and make a list of friends and be sure they are okay. There is something that it pushes you when you do. If you speak to your friends and you  hear that they are truly good, it inspires you. If they aren’t it will inspire you too to either help where you can, offer support, or make you change how you live your life. We can’t lost the connection to one another. I love technology its an important tool, but it can’t replace human to human connection. It’s important for us to reach out to our loved ones. I make it a plan to do my best to call my grandmother at least once a week and sometimes more to be sure she is okay. You have to check in on others. I am even going to check in on a few family members that I haven’t done a great job in checking in on this year myself. It’s just a way for us to take a step back and put others above ourselves.

If you are super busy like me, set aside some time and dedicate to making at least a few minute calls. If you think the other person may be long-winded, I love to call folks on my lunch break, on my way home, or on my way into work. It’s a great way to have a mid-day pick me up or a way to make sure you get it done  and I can cut the conversation off and get back to my day. You may be thinking well wasn’t the point to check in? Yes that is still checking in. You don’t have to be on the phone for hours to check in. I believe in my planner so in between blog goals and planning, family planning, and life planning you can add check ins. You will feel better when you do this, trust me. This goal is just as important as anything else you have going on in your world.

Be vigilant in checking in on others. Be sure that those that are in your crew are okay. Make this your Monday goal! Maybe even rotate your check in lists. But make this a priority!

Breakfast with Santa: Legoland Discovery Center

Every year we do at least one Breakfast with Santa but this year we decided to do it at Legoland Discovery Center in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

One of the benefits of having a season pass to Legoland is getting invited to exclude events. This event was free to Legoland Discovery Yearly pass. We were invited for a continental breakfast with Lego Santa himself. Once there breakfast was already ready. The kids and adults were able to help themselves. The guest of honor made his way over and gave our letters so that the kids could write a letter to Santa! Not to mention full access to the play center before regular opening hours. That in itself is a major win!

Even though it was our first year at the event it definitely will not be our last. The kids had a great time making a morning of fun and the adults were able to relax knowing the children are in a secure fun atmosphere. Plus anything with coffee sign me up!! If you’re in the area and looking for a place for your children to have fun in all year would consider coming to Legoland Discovery! We bought the year pass due to wanting to have an option for the Winter months as well as rainy days like today.

There is a huge jungle gym, snack center, active places to build LEGO projects of all kinds, mini 3D movies, laser zone, and of course a live action Lego man that comes out several times to take pictures with everyone all year long. One of the best parts is the interactive ride for the family of all ages to enjoy!

So I would certainly give my stamp of approval for Legoland Discovery Center! It’s a must try if you’re in the area!!

Who doesn’t love festive events? Certainly my family loves them!! Here’s to getting into the full swing of holiday events and things to do! Also if you have a family of multiple kids gift cards to LEGOLAND make a great group gift as well!! This way instead of more toys you give the gift of an outing!! That is the gift that keep on giving!!

Monday Motivation: Short Week We Got This

So let’s be grateful! We have a short week for most of us. I know there are many who don’t and I sympathize with you. This week for many who have a short can find it to be super trying, so be vigilant.

Thanksgiving is going down this week whether we like it or not. So with that being said, take things in stride. I have been encouraging that with each Thanksgiving post. Not everyone comes from a solid family structure. This can be the most loneliness time of the year. This is the signal that the weeks are going to fly into the New Year. It’s important that you keep this in mind as you meet up with family and friends. Keep your wits about you when you are confronted with difficult family. Do what’s best for you!

Also the kids are home! Thank goodness you will have some leftovers to feed them! Make some activities for them to do. Have them spend time with family. Take them to the movies. Find activities for them to do. Do not let them break you. I have 3 kids and with the days off I got so much planned for them. I love spending time with them! This short week I will get my fill of their time!!

If you’re off make that time well spent. Find an activity that you enjoy. Serve others. Go through your clothes and find things you don’t need anymore that could bless someone who is less fortunate. Spend time with your family away from social media and find ways to be active!! Spend time doing some awesome me time things too. I hate when you walk back in the office and people say they did nothing and they actually wanted to do things but didn’t. Come back from a few days off refreshed!!

Also deadlines are going to be the name of the game. Have you ever noticed that when it’s a short week work seems to get longer?! Ugh right?! Use the time to get things in line and push through! You got this? We got this! Let’s enjoy what we can of this Thanksgiving week! Enjoy!!

What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you

So I’m out and about today. While out a woman is behind me talking to another woman. The one woman asks where her husband was. Her answer was he just started chemotherapy and he’s home. So I’m like wow Lord bless her and give her strength. Then they keep talking and she said well he also is evil. It caught me off guard. I’m like oh wow either way help them both God! She stated that he was abusive now and before his treatment and she’s just trying to get through whatever happens to him.

My heart immediately dropped. She appears to be an older woman and even with her husband going through chemo she still is aware of how he treats her. Should she give him a pass? No. When the woman tried to tell her she should be nicer to him because of his medical condition she made it clear that she might have except he’s still abusing her now and had done it before. It made me think about how some people define their vows of in sickness and in health. Yes you’re supposed to be there for him but she chose the words abuse. Abuse is not okay. She remembers what he did and what he’s doing.

Abuse is not something you tolerate. I hear so many times of people abusing their spouses in other forms not just physical. Gaslighting a person is a form of abuse. Financial abuse where one partner withholds money and resources or makes their partner practically beg for money is a abuse. What about the men who asks for a detailed list of what their spouse bought, but he doesn’t have to? Don’t even hit me with well what if the woman doesn’t work?! I was a stay at home mom for years and if my spouse made me feel like I was his child instead of a partner when it came to abuse then I would be writing this piece from the perspective that he was abusive and a shitty partner period! This isn’t love. This is demeaning and abusive!!

What a wicked way to treat your spouse if you can to yourself yes my spouse does those things to me. How about the husband or spouse who embarrasses them out in public? What about the spouse that deliberately reveals the spouse’s intimate moments to others? This is abuse. Women are expected to ride or die for a man and not receive love, understanding, and commitment. It’s not okay to sit and hope one day their spouse will treat them well. Note for the good man, this may not be you but you can speak openly to your friends when you are alone with them and they speak of doing these things. I have had male friends who do these very horrible things to their spouses and girlfriends and guess what if I know about it I speak about it. How could someone you love be treated so badly by the hand of the one saying I love you. You don’t get to say well I don’t have male role models in my life therefore I just can’t…..

I read a story this week where a fiancé was going through cancer and he had like the married couple of today’s story treated her with abuse before and during. She left him and everyone was all up in arms about it. What was she supposed to do? Stay and wait for his treatment to be over while being abuse? He wasn’t moved by his treatment neither did he focus on his health and make a decision to be kind to the one taken care of him. She wasn’t even married so she had more to lose than the wife of today’s story. She decided that being abused and leaving was more important than the folks who would condemn her inability to ride it out during his treatment. His treatment is unfortunate but if you get that close to potential pain and death and that can’t change your behavior, you have bigger issues!

Relationships are great when two parties want to make things work. They can also be Hell on Earth if one or more partner thinks that it’s okay to be disrespectful or when one party things you should stick it all at your expense. Be careful who you align yourself with. Always find ways to speak up for yourself. If you find yourself in an abusive do everything you can to get away. What you’re thinking isn’t wrong. What you feel is your inner voice telling you that the late nights alone while they run the streets isn’t okay. What you feel when they set you up for failure or tell you no one will love you like them isn’t just an alarm to leave it’s an alarm to run.

Abuse is not okay. He can love you all day with his words but if his or her actions says different, pay attention to action. Actions matter! It’s not okay to stick it out just so others will think you left a person when the chips were down. The chips are already down if you’re being abused. You being abused is wrong. There is no good time to leave abuse. You don’t have to wait until you think it’s socially acceptable to leave. Your mental and emotional well being matters!!

Please make the best decision in love. Not all love is made up abuse. I love love. I love hearing two people come together and just mesh so well. I love to hear when two people come together and beat all odds. Love isn’t about being beat, emotional drained or mentally beat down but smile and bear

Fusing Friendships

One of the biggest challenges when I moved to Philly years ago was leaving what I was comfortable being around. I was used to my set of friends. I was used to my town. I knew how to get everywhere. Lancaster was small enough for me to navigate my life and it was fine. Fast forward to getting engaged to my husband and I knew that I would have to move. In the beginning I was excited to start this new life but I didn’t think about the challenges.  The biggest challenge was friends and wanting to have my own sense of community like I had in Lancaster. As much as people want to leave Lancaster, one of the biggest things about leaving that you can’t deny is community.

Friend Factor

Being that I was comfortable with my friends, I never thought about what would happen when I moved. I didn’t invite anyone to visit me in Philadelphia. I always just went back to Lancaster. Lancaster is home. It feels right. I can go back today and fit right in with zero issues. Friendships matter to me. Having a core set of friends even if they aren’t from Lancaster has always been my saving grace. When I was single and not attached I could take a trip and have girl time with any of them. My biggest hurdle was being pregnant with a toddler in a city I had NO friends in.  At first I focused on making sure my toddler was secure. I made that my number one priority. Then making sure the new baby I was carrying was safe and healthy.  Then I would go back and forth traveling either pregnant, or with a toddler and newborn baby.  When I think about it now there needed to be balance in that. No way should I have made that into one sided trips. Anyone who follows my blogs know the reason I kept going to Lancaster was my refusal to be in Philadelphia and attempt to make things happen.

Fusing Friends

The issue I have less now of but definitely more when I first moved was when my husband wanted me to fuse relationships with his friends. He never asked me to but he would tell me to be open to relationships. My response was so super negative and I wasn’t able to take his advice at face value. Even now some of his friends wives who I think are completely awesome I don’t see myself getting as close to. I never wanted to have my friends to only be an extension of him. Meaning I didn’t want to get in a situation where his friends or their significant others felt obligated to be nice to me out of respect for him. I don’t keep friends like that. I only and always ask for respect and I give it.  I do not expect people to extend themselves to me to save face.  So even know I have met a great level of friends through him but I refuse to force myself on any of them. It’s hard for me at times to push past anxiety.

When I do often times I find folks aren’t as receptive.  Let me give an example. I reached out to one via text. I still have yet to hear back. Like not for nothing I’m in a better place. Petty Toi would be super stank when I see her in the future but why?! Now when I see the same person (s), it’s always hey let’s get together. To my husband he thinks they are being nice. To what actually happens is after a few text messages, the real of let’s get together to be nice in public and the real of let’s get together in real life don’t match. I am the person that will take you at what your action says over what you say to save face.  This isn’t to say they are fake or they don’t like me. It’s the fact that this is the real of what happens when you come into someone else’s circle. It takes time to build a relationship or if you are honest, as a wife no one is obligated to be friends with me just because they are friends with him.  Having my husband be the only thing in common isn’t enough to fuse a relationship. This thought process takes growth.

So anyone who has ever dealt with social anxiety knows it takes a large level of bravery to put yourself out to others. The Toi that I was when I first moved here was a lot more cut throat than I am now. I have completely softened but not to the point of stupidity. Back in the day when I needed to feel apart I was more hurt and out of that hurt I would cut a person off. Now I don’t worry about vibes that don’t return to me. I get that I am coming into already long lasting relationships and for that I don’t get moved as much.  I don’t over extend myself to people. There is a fine line between hey girl, and feeling like after 4-5 attempts and not getting the message. We all have lives. I am married. I have 3 kids. I blog. I work a full and a part time job. I am not looking for someone to be an instant bestie.

Here are my tips when you struggle to make new friends in an established group:

  • Be yourself
  • Always be cordial
  • Attempt to make yourself a friend
  • Don’t get caught up when the friendly relationship is only when you see certain folks
  • Look to find your own friends by getting out in social events
  • Do not feel obligated to overextend yourself to others if they show you who they are-believe them
  • Don’t take things personal
  • Work on you this will bring others that are supposed to be around you
  • Remember you are awesome

Be gentle with yourself as you fuse into a new life, new city, etc

It’s hard to figure out the life balance. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

Know that you will get better as you practice self care, take risks, put yourself out to be a friend, etc

It’s not the number of friends you have but the ones who are super solid! They outweigh having large entourages any day.

Shout out to my friends new and old who are all around awesome!! You have made this transition in your own way, better.