Elf Down! Someone Call 911

By Meredith McKay

Some of you have found great luck with using the magical Elf on the Shelf to keep your children on their best behavior. I on the other hand, have not.

The other night, my usually well behaved 3 1/3 year old daughter, Mia, was having a temper tantrum of gigantic proportions. You know the ones when your child is overtired, gets upset by everything and anything, follows you around the house and throws herself on every dirty or clean floor in your house while not listening to a word you say.

At this point I had enough and placed Mia in timeout (the staircase in our living room). As she slid down the stairs on her back in hysterics, I spotted “Cheeky Francis,” the name of our Elf on the Shelf. Quickly I picked up the shifty-eyed elf and held him in front of Mia and said,

“I hope Cheeky Francis doesn’t tell Santa about your tantrum!”

As quick as a wink, Mia grabbed Cheeky from me and tore his cute, sewn together little hands apart and threw him down the stairs. I stared in awe at Cheeky’s lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs and couldn’t help but giggle inside.

Elf down!

I picked up our still smiling elf and asked, “Are you okay?” to show Mia my concern for her destructive Incredible Hulk-like behavior.

She yelled, “Mama, Put him back down, Put him back down!”

It was then that I realized this infamous elf doesn’t hold any power against my precious yet precocious girl.

About a half hour later, Mia apologized to me and asked in her sweetest voice if I would bring Cheeky Francis to the hospital to be fixed. I panicked inside because I don’t own a sewing kit or even a needle and thread, but still I said, “Yes.”

So that evening, as I regretted never being a Girl Scout, I did what any unprepared Mom would do: I carefully wrapped Cheeky Francis’ hands together with some gauze and put him high up in our Christmas Tree.

I will be sure to not put our Elf on the Shelf in low places anymore!

If you have the Elf on the Shelf, does his magic work on your children and what is he named?

Tricky Turkey Tradition

By Meredith McKay

Mia’s preschool sent home an adorable project to complete as a family and return to school. We were given a “naked” turkey and needed to disguise him so he won’t get eaten for Thanksgiving!

The Naked Turkey

Mia and I went through many disguise possibilities: a ballerina; a pink flamingo; and a silly clown before finally settling on a Carmen Miranda outfit. Mia loved putting the fruit stickers on the turkey’s head, coloring the wings and adding the fancy sparkles to his costume. Mia proudly returned her turkey to school and told everyone that her turkey is disguised as Carmen Mirando – yes Mirando!

Turkey in Disguise

I plan on doing this project every November; it will be so much fun to see how we disguise the turkeys over the years.

I must give props to some awesome disguises done by Mia’s classmates: Cottonball covered Snowman Turkey, “Turk-ish” Princess Turkey and even a Kim Kardashian Bride Turkey!

Diary of Starting Preschool

Written by Mommy (Meredith McKay)

August 25:
Mia, today was your last day Debbie’s home daycare. You’ve been going there since you were 6 months old. Mommy took it very hard, and as we drove out of Debbie’s driveway you asked me why I was crying. I didn’t want to upset you and tell you that on Monday you would no longer be spending 5 days a week at Debbie’s comfy and familiar home. You would be going to Preschool, a building full of adults and other children that you don’t know yet; to play, learn, eat, and nap with. So I quickly responded, “Mommy is sad because summer is over.”  You said, “But Mama, it will be back.”

Mommy cried off and on for the next couple of days. I don’t do well with change, and this is a big one.

August 29:
Today was your first day of school, and you were so excited that I could barely get you to pose for a picture. Mommy and Daddy brought you to school. We helped you put your new backpack, lunch bag, and nap mat in your cubby. You didn’t cry, but let me know, “I’m gonna miss you”. I reassured you that I would be back.

Mia on her first day of preschool

Day 2:
You had a great day at school. At dinner you showed me how you raise your hand and say“Here” when your teacher takes attendance.

Day 3:
Rough morning…Mommy brought you to school. All the kids were playing outside. When I left and walked by the play area, you tried to climb the chain link fence. I saw your tears but I promised you that I would be back later. Mommy made it out of the school parking lot before breaking down in tears.

Labor Day weekend, a long weekend away from school, and I’m all ready dreading how your Tuesday morning drop off will be.

Day 6:
You started crying at home when I enthusiastically announced, “Mia, you’re going to school today!!!”  Through the tears you wailed, “I’m gonna miss you.” Mommy brought you in to school and as I was leaving, you ran ahead of me and tried to leave the building. Your teacher reassured you that I would come back later.

Days 7 and 8:
Daddy drove you to school without Mommy. Everything went so smoothly. I think this is the answer to the morning drop offs, and now Mommy feels silly for even second guessing my decision to send you fulltime.

Day 9 [September 12]:
You are 3 today! You lead the whole school for the Pledge of Allegiance and proudly waved the American flag. Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, and Grampy arrived at snack time with cupcakes for your class. Your classmates sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed the cupcakes. After the celebration you were not going to let any of us leave the preschool without you, so Grammy brought you to her house for your special day.

Leading the Pledge of Allegiance on Your 3rd Birthday

Days 10-15:
Daddy has been dropping you off every morning and Mommy picks you up after work.

Day 16:
After Daddy brought you to school, he sent Mommy a text that said, “Wow! The saddest thing ever. Mia chased me down the hall crying real tears. Made me tear up a little.” Now you know how I feel Daddy… 

We are now going on the fourth week of preschool and it has gotten easier for you, and easier for Mommy and Daddy. You are getting used to the routine and have made many friends. The teachers have told me that sometimes during the day you miss me, but it quickly passes and you have a great day. Mommy wants you to know that, “I will be back,” just like the summer!

Out of the Mouth of Babes

By Meredith McKay

My 2 ½ year old daughter is extremely verbal and has some strong opinions. Recently, I decided to take the advice of many friends and write down the insightful, amusing and memorable words spoken by Mia.

Any regular notebook or journal would not work for me because I have so many random ones around the house that never get used. I would need a special book designated just for journaling “Mia Quotes.” So I researched online to check if there is such a book for this specific purpose.

Amazon.com brought me to Words to Remember: A Journal for Your Child’s Sweet and Amusing Sayings by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

“From their first words on, kids have an uncanny ability to string together funny, charming, and sometimes oddly brilliant sentences. As parents, we often find ourselves proclaiming, “I’ve got to write that one down!” That’s what this little journal is all about. Conceived by writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Ida Pearle, this keepsake book provides a beautiful and convenient home for the bon mots of the binky set.” Amazon’s Editorial Review.

I immediately purchased this 80 page book which includes a few cute quotes by children and some subtle illustrations. I’m thrilled to finally have a special book dedicated for jotting down Mia’s musings, along with the date and details of how she said what she did.

Even if I am not able to write what she said in the journal immediately, I type the quote in a list app. on my phone and transfer it when I have the time.

A few of Mia’s recent quotable gems that I need to put in the journal are:

•    “Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Daddy.”

•    “Mommy, I’m sorry you were fresh.” Her response to me while she sat in a time-out.

•    “That Grampy, he’s a nice, nice man!” she said, after my Dad had dropped off some homemade beef stew.

•    While watching Queen Elizabeth II leave Prince William’s wedding in a horse-drawn carriage, “She’s on a horsey ride, she’s going to go round and round.” (Referring to the coin operated kiddie ride she loves).

See the similarity? Me too!

I’m looking forward to capturing Mia speaking her mind through the years (maybe not the teenage years) and will eventually pass the book along to her.

What is the funniest, cutest or most embarrassing thing your child has said?

Not Enough Time in the Day

By Meredith McKay

The past couple of months have been hectic to say the least. I changed jobs within my company, needed to get trained and settle into my new position. During this transition that awful stomach bug went through everyone in my house and even reached my extended family. It was weeks before we were all feeling back to normal. Then it was time to bring Mia for a tour of preschool tour and decide if I should enroll her part-time or full-time.

These aren’t major life interruptions and decisions, especially when I compare my issues to other Moms who juggle much more all while taking care of a disabled or chronically ill child. So I do not want to come off as though I am whining or complaining about my life at all. It’s just that I have been extra busy lately and have been lacking on my research of everything that has to do with 2 ½ year olds.

So I decided to create a list of things I need to focus on, research and get answers to:

1.    Toddler behavior: Mia has been testing her limits with me. She has learned the word “NO” and says it in a very fresh voice. Her terrible twos have set in, and I don’t feel properly prepared for these tantrums. What do I do when timeouts aren’t working? How should I be handling discipline because whatever technique I’m using now is not the right one?

2.    Outdoor activities: Mia is fortunate that her Grampy and Grammy live at the beach, so we spend a lot of time there on weekends. But it’s a different story on those hot summer week nights. Our townhouse does not have much of a yard and although there are many playgrounds and parks near us, we can’t head out every evening. Some nights, there is just too much to do around the house. We have a pretty nice deck so I’m thinking of getting a small sandbox or water table. Of course, before I buy one I need to research to find best sandbox/water tables for toddlers.

3.    De-Cluttering and organization: Mia will be starting preschool in the fall and I need to get organized to ensure smooth mornings. She currently goes to a wonderful home daycare and I’m so lucky that Debbie prepares Mia’s breakfast and lunch everyday. Come September, I will need to not only get myself ready in the mornings but also feed Mia and get her out the door dressed with lunch in hand! I know the best system for me will be to get our outfits and lunches ready the night before. In order for this to happen, I need to start getting organized and put a routine in place now. By the Fall, I want organized closets for easy outfit planning, kitchen counters that are free of paperwork and mail in order to easily make lunches and breakfast so we can quickly get out the door.

My list could go on and on but there aren’t enough hours in a day!

Do you have any tips to offer Moms who are trying to manage their time, children and home life?

Local Supermen

By Meredith McKay

This is Matthew, he will soon turn two and he is living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Spinal Muscular Atrophy is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two and is an often fatal disease that destroys the nerves controlling voluntary muscle movement, which affects crawling, walking, head and neck control and even swallowing.

Matthew is the son of my very close friends Courtney and Paul, whose strength and courage I greatly admire.

Matthew enjoying Sesame Street Live.

I have wanted to write about Matthew, his family and SMA for a while but I did not know how to begin, if the family would want me to, and how to even explain this awful yet common disease.

Recently, Courtney had begun asking her Facebook friends for prayers for another local family dealing with the SMA diagnosis of their infant son, Coby. Like many hundreds of others, I have been reading his mom Lori’s daily updates on her Facebook page. Because of this awful disease, Courtney and Lori have become friends and support one another as only parents of children with SMA can.

When I looked at Lori’s page last night to check on baby Coby’s day she had posted a column written by Nancy Taylor about Coby. I asked Nancy for permission to reprint her column for my blog on Merrimack Valley Moms – she quickly obliged adding, “anything to spread awareness for this disease!”

By Nancy Taylor
A column I wrote for Coby ♥

It will be in Thursday’s edition of the Billerica Minuteman with his photo.

This was one of the hardest, most important columns I have ever written and it is dedicated to a little boy that I have never met. I first laid eyes on Coby Quinn Kulis when a friend posted a link about his story on Facebook.

Coby Quinn Kulis

Coby is five months old and suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a progressive genetic motor neuron disease involving the nerves and muscles. The body does not produce a particular protein, which enables the motor neurons in the spinal cord to survive. It is the leading genetic killer of infants and toddlers and statistics show that this disease affects one in every six-thousand births. There are four different types of SMA, type 1 being the most lethal in children under the age of two. Coby has type 1.

Often times muscle weakness is evident at birth and diagnosis usually occurs within the first three months. Coby came home with hospice care before he was three months old, and his prognosis gives him very little time.

The symptoms of the disease are gut wrenching. They include difficulty swallowing, trouble breathing, and often times result in the insertion of a feeding tube. In pictures, Coby looks like an average little baby, and that is one of the most difficult parts of the illness. Often times SMA patients are observed to be bright and sociable and their intellectual activity is normal.

I wanted to write this to raise awareness of this horrible disease, and to share with you a little boy who at only five months old may be too young to speak, yet has spoken to so many.

Lori and Dave are Coby’s parents. They are going through something that nobody should ever have to go through, and they are doing it with amazing strength and grace. He is their first and only child.

Lori and Dave Kulis holding their Superman Coby

The world of technology has allowed us to follow their journey through this dreadful disease, and by doing so, you cannot help but be captivated by this little boy and his family. Through Facebook Lori keep’s us updated on Coby’s day-to-day condition. She shares the good days and the bad. She shares his restful nights. She shares his struggles to feed. She shares pictures when he is peacefully sleeping on his daddy’s chest and there is truly nothing more beautiful.

So many of us have come to feel a connection with this family. Everyday when I wake up, I check on my little buddy. I want to see how his night was. I want to know how they are doing. I want to make sure he is still ok.

Coby will get his wings soon. That is the unavoidable and harsh reality of this disease. I want this family to know that while none of us could ever really know what it has been like living through something like this, we join you in your mission to raise awareness. In Coby’s short time here, he has taught so many of us, perfect strangers even to hug tighter and love harder and for that we are eternally grateful. Coby’s parents have nicknamed their little fighter Superman and it suits him perfectly.

Every night Lori plays the lullaby “Godspeed” by the Dixie Chicks for Coby. A line from the song says “My love will fly to you each night on angel’s wings.” To say it is a moving song is an understatement.

Lori and Coby snuggling

To find any positive in all of this sadness, researchers in The International Scientific community agree that of all neuromuscular diseases, SMA is the closest to developing a treatment or a cure. If only we could freeze time for precious little Coby. Thank you Lori and Dave for sharing your precious little gift all in the name of finding a cure. God Bless you all, and Godspeed little man. ♥

N.Taylor

There is an upcoming local fundraiser, “Shamrocks for SMA.” All proceeds from the event to benefit families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Please join us for some pre-St. Patrick’s Day cheer for a great cause.

“Shamrocks for SMA”
Friday , March 4th.
7:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Claddaugh Pub, Lawrence, MA

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two. However, there is hope for these children. The National Institute of Health recently deemed SMA as one of the closest terminal diseases to be cured. But SMA needs funding, research and continued resources to achieve this once impossible goal.

Here is how you …can help!

On Friday, March 4, we will be raising funds and awareness for SMA at The Claddaugh Pub in Lawrence, MA. The night will include live entertainment, prizes and fun. Nationally recognized Irish band, Inchicore will open the evening and we will cap things off with local fan favorite Corduroy.

Tickets are being sold for $10/each but any size donation would be very appreciated.

All proceeds from the event to benefit Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. FSMA is a a non-profit, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Federal ID# 36-3320440.

We hope to see you all on the 4th!

Slainte!

Love is in the Air

By Meredith McKay

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples.  If a special Valentine’s Day “date-night” isn’t possible, or if your children are your significant others, you can still celebrate and make it fun for the whole family!

Use your hands and get dirty… (with crafts)!

Instead of getting or giving flowers and chocolate, get crafty with your kids and make handmade heart shaped photo frames.  Put your favorite snapshot in the frame.  The memory will last a whole lot longer than flowers and candy.

Mia has a head start on her Valentine’s Day heart frame this year!

For more easy to do Valentine Day Crafts check out Disney’s Family Fun.

Set the mood and get spicy!

Create a Valentine’s Day menu that everyone can help prepare, whether it’s late lunch or early dinner.  And don’t forget to set a beautiful table with your prettiest dishes, candles and fresh-cut flowers.


Even my “go to” dinner of pizza can be made special.  I plan on baking these with Mia because we heart pizza!

Miniature Whole Wheat Pizzas

Ingredients:
• Frozen whole-wheat pizza dough, thawed (available at specialty stores like G.B. Russo International Grocery), 2 cans refrigerated commercial pizza dough or refrigerated biscuits tube
• Tomato sauce
• Shredded mozzarella cheese
• Sliced black olives for eyes
• Rosemary sprigs for eyelashes
• Sliced red bell pepper for mouth

Directions: Preheat oven to temperature called for on the package of frozen pizza dough, refrigerated commercial pizza dough or package of refrigerator biscuits.  Separate the pizza dough into six parts and roll into circles. With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart shape, if possible. Or open the refrigerator biscuits and separate. Taking one biscuit at a time, flatten them as much as possible, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

With the rolled-out dough, take a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out a heart shape.  Spread tomato sauce onto the dough, sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese. Construct the face with olive slices for eyes, position rosemary spikes as eyelashes and curve the red pepper into a happy smile.

Once your pizzas are built, put them in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Recipe from mlive.com; photo by Press Photo/Paul L. Newby II

A Valentine’s Day menu wouldn’t be complete without…

Photo from Tasty Business

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Recipe from California Strawberry Commission

Ingredients:
2 pint baskets California strawberries
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Finely chopped toasted almonds or pistachios (optional)

Directions:  Line large baking sheet with waxed paper. Rinse strawberries and pat dry with paper towels. In separate small, microwave-safe bowls (such as custard cups) melt chocolates, one at a time, in microwave at 50-percent (medium) power, allowing 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each. Stir until smooth. (If not completely melted, microwave a few seconds longer.) Or, melt chocolate as package directs. Holding strawberry by stem end, dip into chocolate to cover about three-fourths of berry; dip into nuts, if desired, and lay on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strawberries, chocolate and nuts. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Makes about 8 servings (3 strawberries per serving). For details on how to create Double and Triple-Dipped Strawberries go to California Strawberry Commission Recipes.

To see more kid friendly Valentine’s Day recipes ideas including heart shaped meatloaves, check out Kids Cooking on About.com.

Cuddle up and watch a movie.

Even if you aren’t heading out to the theater, you can still end Valentine’s Day with a movie or special program.

I always go to Common Sense Media for the Best Movie Recommendations for Kids.  I love this site because not only does it allow you to view the best movies selected by age range (from 2-17), but also by different categories and themes (holiday, animation, hidden-gems, Disney, fairytale, robot, friendship etc.)

Mia loves Dora the Explorer so I have programmed my DVR to record Dora’s Valentine’s Day special, “The Grumpy Old Troll Gets Married” airing on Nick Jr. at 9am.  We will be ending our Valentine’s Day with a wedding…how exciting!

What do you with or without your children to make Valentine’s Day special?

Head’s Up – Sun, Sun Here We Come

By Meredith McKay

Mia and Madison comfortably shaded by their Platypus sun hats in Florida.

It’s hard to think about sun protection with the massive amount of snow that has fallen in New England the past few weeks.

My upcoming trip to sunny Sanibel Island, Florida can not come fast enough.

I’ve just begun to pack our suitcases full of summery clothes and swimsuits for myself and my sun-loving daughter Mia.  While going through our summer clothes bins, I realized Mia has outgrown the infant sun hat she’s worn for the past two years.  She needs a new toddler sun hat for our trip.

Once again my over researching tendencies kicked in and I spent hours looking online for quality sun hats.  There is a great variety of hats designed specifically to keep the sun’s damaging rays off of your baby and child’s face and neck.

My criteria for a quality baby/child sun hat:

•    UPF 50+ rated fabric that offers protection from UVA/UVB rays
•    Wide brim of at least 2 inches, big enough to shade the face, ears and back of the neck as well
•    A chin strap to hold it in place (so Mia cannot pull it off)

For infants I highly recommend the hat Mia outgrew.  It’s the Platypus hat by the Wallaroo Hat Company.  By chance I purchased this hat 2 years ago at The Paper Store in Chelmsford (I’m not sure if they still carry them).  I loved it so much I went back and got one for my niece Madison.

There are tons of adorable hats on the market – some are better than others. Through my research/online shopping I found the following hats to be the best suited for Mia to wear on our vacation:

1.    Girl’s Chin Strap Hat by Coolibar – $15

2.    Kid’s Fun Bucket Hat from Sunday Afternoons Sun Protective Hats and Clothing – $19.95

I received the Sunday Afternoon hat in the mail yesterday.  When I put it on Mia, she smiled and said, “Let’s go to the beach and don’t forget my sunglasses!”

*The hats are my recommendations and I have not been paid or given merchandise by any of the companies for endorsement.

King Size Crib

By Meredith McKay

I need to figure out how this happened!

My 28 month old daughter sleeps in my bed with me every night!

Before Mia was born, I envisioned her nursery as a beautiful place where during the day we would spend time bonding as delicate curtains gently blew in the breeze and at night she would sleep soundly on gorgeous matching bedding.  Much thanks to Pottery Barn Kids – we created that room for her.  A room that isn’t getting used!

Sleeping was never a problem for Mia – I would tightly Velcro her into her Halo Swaddle Me sleep sack and put her in the bassinet in my bedroom.

Around 3 months we had a smooth transition into her crib but she was now outgrowing the swaddling sack and could manage her way out of any blanket swaddle.  That’s when I began the habit of holding her in my arms until she fell asleep and gently placing her in the crib.

Doesn’t she seem very happy in her crib?

Mia at four months

Over the next few months, Mia was growing, becoming mobile and learned to stand.  So we had to lower her crib mattress as low as it could be.  I thought this would be the perfect time for “training” her to fall asleep on her own.

It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.  I put her in the crib while awake and left the room, and she only cried three nights for about 20 minutes and then she must’ve gotten used to it.  She knew that around 7:30 it was “night night time” and would go down.  For a few hours…

More and more frequently I awoke to hear “Mia, out, Mia, out” over the monitor.  Half asleep and blurry eyed, I‘d make my way to her nursery and see this:

Momma, get me out!

Ah ha, that’s when it happened!

That’s when I broke one of the major parenting rules:  Do not allow your child to get in the habit of sleeping in your bed.

In my sleepy state of mind, I routinely convinced myself that I need sleep too and its much easier to bring her into my bed than trying to get her to go back to sleep in her crib.  Mia must have really enjoyed being in my big bed because soon enough she found another way out of hers and into mine.

I don’t know if she had been practicing her escape over and over but it didn’t happen gradually.  After tucking her in, I made my way to her bedroom when I heard her little voice.  I glanced at my video monitor, watching in awe as my almost 2-year-old stealthily put one leg on the crib rail, quickly swooped the other leg over the crib rail and carefully lowered herself to the floor.

Needless to say, Mia slept in my bed with that night.

When Mia masters something, she will do it again and again.  The next evening I put her in the crib and sure enough she very gracefully scaled it.

Some friends and other Moms have told me stories of children staying in their cribs until they are three and sometimes four.  I’m beginning to believe they were passing along legends and myths to me.

As soon as I could get my hands on my computer, I researched crib tents hoping for a safe solution to keep her in and read too many negative reviews (horror stories).  So that was out of the question.

The only solution was to convert her 3 way crib to the toddler stage.  It’s still a crib, but the front panel is replaced by a guard rail.

As soon as her Daddy did the handy work, I knew in my heart that there was absolutely NO WAY Mia would stay in that bed.

Bonavita Peyton Crib

Mia seemed excited about her “brand new bed,” but only to jump on it.  As I tucked her in to her new bed and kissed her goodnight, I turned to leave the room.  She was up out of the bed and walking behind me before I even reached her bedroom door.  The nights for the next few weeks were filled with trials and errors, but she was more at ease if I was in the room.

One night Mia pulled on my shoulder and demanded, “Mommy you lay down too!”  So I managed to contort myself into the toddler bed with her as though I would somehow fool her into thinking I would be staying there all night with her.  I couldn’t easily or gracefully slip out, so that didn’t work.

Some nights she’d be asleep in 15 minutes and I would crawl away from her bed on my hands and knees.  That totally brought back memories of sneaking out of my parent’s house in high school with my best friend Erika, to meet up with the neighborhood boys.

Other nights I had to sit and wait it out for a while, the longest was an hour and 12 minutes.  And even when Mia would fall asleep in her bed within a few hours she would be next to my bed asking, “Mommy pick me up!”  Of course I oblige because we both fall back to sleep almost immediately.

Last week, Mia slept at my parent’s house for a few nights where she also has a converted toddler bed.  One night Grammy called me a little after 8 pm to boast how she had put Mia in her bed and she was sound asleep in 5 minutes.

I called my Mom the next day to see how the night went.  My Mom laughed as she told how Mia got up and said, “Grammy, pick me up!”  And of course she also obliged.

I’m pretty sure we’re past the point of trying to get Mia to sleep in her toddler bed.  How could she go back to sleeping on an uncomfortably hard, plastic crib mattress?

Her crib can be converted one more time to a full size bed.  I didn’t think she would be in a full size bed before three, but she just sleeps better in a bigger and more comfortable bed.

Mia's pretty bedding from Pottery Barn Kids

A few months ago I was looking online at Pottery Barns Kids and saw that Mia’s nursery bedding collection was on sale, which means soon to be discontinued.  I was able to get the duvet, pillow shams and sheets in full size and on sale!

Now Mia’s Big Girl Room is going to be just as beautiful as her nursery.  I’m hoping it gets enjoyed a lot more!!

I’d love some advice from parents in the same spot, or who have been through something like this.

You Did What with my Christmas Card?

By Meredith McKay

Being a Mom, I’ve spent hours upon hours creating different Christmas photo cards.  I have experimented on Tiny Prints, Shutterfly and Snapfish.  I painstakingly analyze every aspect of the card:  Should I make the photo black and white?  What font should I use?  Should I write Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  Should I use the ‘&’ symbol or write out ‘and’ Mia?

I finally decided on the winning card (with the help of a co-workers opinion).  Of course it features my daughter Mia in a beautiful photo taken on the beach last Summer.  My Mom isn’t crazy about using a summery shot, she said I should try to put Mia in a beautiful dress and have her sit by a festively decorated Christmas tree.  I will save my comments on that for another time!

Once I chose my perfect photo Christmas card, I started to wonder about what will happen to my card once my friends and family receive it.  I hope that my card recipients and you will use one of the following creative yet simple ways to display all the beautiful cards sent out this holiday season!

For detailed instructions on making each of these do it yourself card displays, just click on the link in yellow above the photo and let your creativity shine bright!

A Fleece Covered Tree

Super easy and very cute!

Martha’s Card Tree is elegant and rustic, perfect for New England!

You can never go wrong with Martha

The rest of these card displays all use good, old-fashioned clothespins.  They are sooo easy, I just hope we don’t cause a shortage of clothespins locally!

Drape a Card Curtain

Beautiful and simple.

Tres French Hens bring Christmas decorating into the kitchen!

I love this kitchen cabinet project!

To make a bold statement with this Modern Star, wind ribbon around drawing pins to form a star or tree outline.  Then use mini clothespins to attach cards!

If you're seeking a more modern look...

Do you have any old frames in the attic?  Use one to make this Open Frame Card Display.  I’d use it all year to display photos, cards and reminders!

I love this idea!

Even Martha Stewart uses clothespins!  Martha’s Card Garland looks beautiful on a traditional banister.

Beautiful!

All you need is ribbon, clothespins and 2 tacks, pushpins or nails.  Quick, easy and most of all:  Simply Beautiful!

Now I just need to decide how I want to display our holiday cards this year…so many great ideas out there!  Please share how you display Holiday cards.

Photo credits: Family Fun, Martha Stewart, All You, Tres French Hens, Livingetc, Janel Kaden, Martha Stewart, Jolly Mom, Becky Higgins, and Pink and Polka Dot.

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