Product Review: Personalized Christmas Stockings

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

One of my most treasured pieces of Christmas decorations are my personalized stockings for each member of my family.

Aren’t these just adorable? I just picked up my last one for the baby, which now completes my collection.

The stockings are well-made, there are 11 character choices, and the best part has been that the collection has been available over the last 5 years, so that I have been able to add a matching one for each of my babies over the years.

The trick is to order this on Walmart.com. The item actually ships from www.PersonalCreations.com but you get the Walmart price! Don’t we love deals?

Choose the ‘Ship to Store’ option for *FREE* in-store pick up at your nearest Walmart. The closest Walmart is less than 10 minutes away from my home, so it wasn’t a big deal at all to pick it up and save on shipping costs. I’m not a Walmart shopper, so I like that I can go straight to the pick-up counter, grab my things and head out.

To order your personalized snow cap stockings, click here.

(42)

Share

A Very Merry Christmas from my Hindu Family

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

CYMERA_20151225_095017

I had a fairly typical childhood. I rode my bike, climbed trees, played Nintendo, obsessed over Lisa Frank, and painted my nails with my little sister. Like many kids, there was a day that I looked forward to the very most each year. This day was Christmas.

I relished the beautiful shopping mall decorations for an entire month, wholeheartedly practiced Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer for school performances, and drank hot chocolate with the mini marshmallows. My parents put up Christmas lights in our yard. My sister and I proudly displayed our stockings above the fireplace.

My dad would dress up as the cutest Indian Santa Clause you ever saw. He’d come into our room with his “Ho-Ho-Ho” on Christmas morning wearing a Santa hat and grinning face. My sister and I would run downstairs to find my mom baking cinnamon rolls. It wasn’t Christmas unless there were cinnamon rolls and this was a highly anticipated event. Sugar for breakfast? My dad was a health nut, so eating white flour rolled up in confection was a cherished rarity.

We had a mini Christmas tree- nothing fancy. But the presents would be piled all around it and we enjoyed ripping open every, single one. We had a system of taking turns around the circle so we could witness each other’s reactions. They were usually good, except for that one time my dad bought my mom a fancy mop. Oh Papa…

We would watch movies. We’d talk. We’d take a walk around the neighborhood. We’d jump in the car to admire Christmas lights. It was a day devoted to simply spending time together. It was the season of giving and we thoroughly enjoyed gifting each other presents and more importantly- timeless memories.

The thing is, we enjoyed all of our Hindu holidays too.  We are Hindu and we were proud to celebrate our beautiful heritage, culture and religion.

I stayed up past my bedtime to go to the temple at midnight on Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s birthday. I put on my best chaniya cholis during Navratri. I decorated our porch with rangolis on Diwali.

My dad would ask me to recite Sanskrit shlokas before heading off to school every morning, each one providing an important life lesson. He taught me how to read and write in Gujarati, our native language. I wrote letters to my grandmother that lived half way across the world in India that didn’t know English. It felt good to stay connected.

He divulged the message of the Bhagvad Gita– The Song of God- the most revered scripture to Hindus, in a way that I could understand and could apply to modern day life. My mom and I engrossed ourselves in Bollywood blockbusters and sang classic Hindi tunes as long as I can remember. She would take me to Bharat Natyam class every week, so that I could work towards my arangetram– a formal graduation after completing years of Indian classical dance.

My parents worked tirelessly to give us the best of two worlds.

I thank my parents for integrating two cultures so beautifully and bringing the excitement of Christmas into our Hindu home. I was firmly rooted while feeling open to welcoming diversity. This only opened up my heart to experiencing even more joys without feeling like I needed to sacrifice my own beliefs.

Celebrating Christmas didn’t change that I am Hindu. It simply meant I was privileged with the opportunity to integrate both eastern and western cultures into my life. We are all made differently, and I was given the chance to enjoy those differences. In fact, we celebrated them.

We as Americans are fortunate to be living in a melting pot of different religions, ethnicities and cultures. In a country where it’s built on pillars of multi-religious backgrounds and cultural variety, we have the opportunity to understand each other better- learn from each other. In a world, where religious differences are often times a catalyst to violence, those gaps only inch together through education and awareness. That education starts at home. Celebrating Christmas, is only one example of how my family has embraced diversity. We welcomed a holiday into our home that was not a part of our own religion but we wholeheartedly celebrated the positive message that came along with it.

And I invite you to do the same.

I welcome you to create beautiful, intricate designs called rangolis outside your homes during Diwali. I invite you to crackle sparklers and light lamps to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Come celebrate the colorful holiday of Holi to welcome Spring- the season of hope and joy. I ask you to join us in dancing until you’re dizzy during the nine days of Navratri.

Let’s share our diversity. Let’s enjoy each other’s strengths. Let everyday be a celebration of love and light.

My husband and I and our two little boys plan to do just that this Christmas.

Our stockings are hanging beautifully over our mantle and our Christmas tree displays a special ornament from every year we became a family- a cherished tradition. Red and green lights beam down on our house while the Elf on the Shelf finds new mischief each morning. Nothing has felt more humbling than to anonymously cover the check for a military couple dining just a few tables away. ‘Tis the season of giving after all and we hope that our example will teach our children the value of appreciating what we have by paying it forward.

In a few short days, my family and I will wake up excitedly on Christmas morning. We will rip open our presents and take delight in each other’s reactions. With no exceptions, there will be the sweet aroma of cinnamon rolls coming from my kitchen. We will watch movies, walk around the neighborhood and admire Christmas lights. And the thing is, later that night, we will still jam to Bollywood music, eat desi khaana, and thank God through parathana for the blessings we receive on Christmas and every other day of this beautiful life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(120)

Share

Holiday Shopping For New Toys

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

IMG_20151123_212138680

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share one of my favorite websites when it comes to shopping for toys.

Toys should be fun, imaginative and educational.

I’ve been referencing fatbraintoys.com for new and innovative toys since my older son was just a baby. The website lists toys by several categories: age, best sellers, new releases, interests, and the list goes on. It makes it helpful when I have a type of toy in mind such as “science” or “music”. The “age” category is also helpful in narrowing down the options when I’m shopping for birthday presents.

I’m a believer in leveraging the opportunity to teach children through play and most of the toys that I buy have to serve two purposes: entertain but educate. Fat Brain Toys lists items that do both. I like using this website as a starting point since I know the listed toys will fit the bill.

Here are a few recent acquisitions for our playroom, by age. These toys are not gender specific:

4 year old:

-Imaginarium Marble Race

-Stomp Rocket Junior

-Melissa & Doug See and Spell Phonics Puzzle

 

9 month old:

-Tobbles Neo

-6in. Oball with Rainstick Rattle

-Illumination Station by Sassy (opted for the sound one over the light)

 

Good luck to you with all your holiday shopping for your little ones!

(52)

Share

How To Make Mondays Less Manic

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Monday

Hope you and yours had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday!

The baby and I were happy to have Daddy and big brother home for almost a week. We also had a house full of family visiting from out of town, which makes any holiday a bit warmer. The daily chaos, disrupted bedtimes, late mornings, frequent excursions and overindulging in sugar is now coming to an abrupt halt.

Normally, I’d be panicking. I’d be twirling around my house like a tornado trying to prepare for getting back into the grind. After experiencing one too many stressful Mondays, I finally invested some time and minimal expenses into getting more organized and tone down the chaos a few notches. It has made life much easier and even after almost a week of crazy, I’m feeling prepared for getting right back into the swing of things come Monday morning.

Here are a few tips on how to get organized for weekday success.

  1. Organize school clothes for the week. If you have a toddler or preschool age kiddo, you have more than likely experienced power struggles over choosing clothes. Heck, even I waste more time than I’d like to admit trying to choose my own clothes in the mornings. Nevertheless, I finally found an awesome Daily Clothes Organizer that allows me to choose outfits for the entire week and still put a little fun into the whole process of getting ready. Athletic clothes go in the PE day cubbies. Any other items that he needs to take to school, for example, on “Sharing Day” goes in the cubby as well.  My guy likes reading the day of the week, pulling out his clothes and getting ready all by himself. Phewf.
  2. Decide on a packed lunch menu for the week . We now have a chalkboard menu of packed lunch ideas to cut the thinking out on mornings. I don’t always follow the menu for the week, but it still helps having options listed in a visible area to provide ideas. Also, all packed lunch items are placed in designated areas in the kitchen and pantry to avoid having to scavenge when we’re working against the clock.IMG-20151029-WA0001
  3. Have a grab and go station in your home. We have an area by the garage door that has all grab and go items needed before jetting off. Chapstick, sunscreen, hats, umbrellas, backpacks, laptop bags, diaper bag, and shoes are all in one spot. This makes the last few steps before loading up the car move along quickly.IMG_20151129_233342822
  4. Have a “catch all” hamper. We have a two-story home with the laundry room on the second floor. My older one likes to come down in his PJs and get ready downstairs. This means his PJs need to go back upstairs but who has time to run up and down the stairs in the morning? Also, having an 8 month old means we collect lots of soiled burp cloths, receiving blankets, and toys throughout the day too. So a perfect solution for not having piles of random items laying around (which means constant clean up) is to have a “catch all” hamper. We take this upstairs at the end of the night and empty it in the laundry room in one trip. This helps keep the downstairs somewhat clean-er.
  5. Keep extracurricular activity bags ready. If there are items that are needed for after school activities, keep those bags ready to go. For example, my son has swim class once a week. Instead of putting his swim trunks and towel back in the drawer after laundry day, they go right back in the tote. The tote stays in the grab and go station by our garage door (revert back to #3). I even throw in some packaged snacks in the tote itself so my guy has something to munch on after class and it’s one less thing I have to remember to grab.
  6. Stock up on necessary grocery items. If you’re running low or completely out of go-to foods in your kitchen, make sure these are replenished by Sunday night. This is most important for breakfast and packed lunches. We have a magnetic wipe-board on the side of our fridge. When something is emptied or frighteningly low (we have a picky eater on our hands so some things we just can’t live without), it gets written on the board. The person going to the grocery store takes a picture of the list on his/her phone, which then becomes a mobile shopping list. Items are then wiped off when the kitchen is restocked upon returning from the grocery store excursion.IMG_20151130_240607461
  7. Keep baby essentials at arm’s length. I love baskets. It might be a bit of an obsession, but I have baskets all over my house to attempt at staying organized. I have three baskets in my family room: 1. A basket filled with burp cloths and receiving blankets. 2. A basket with diapers and all other diaper changing items. 3. A basket full of small, portable toys and books. When I need to grab a few items on my way out the door, I don’t have to go searching. Most of the things that I need for a quick trip are easily accessible. I also keep the diaper bag filled with wipes, diapers and change of clothes, so there’s less I need to replenish with every trip.
  8. Have a box in your car for emergency items. Keep a basket or box in your trunk that holds any emergency items: sweatshirts, hats, umbrellas, undies, etc. Having this little security blanket in the car is helpful for any last minute disasters. Check out other related tips on the I Am Mall-Mom blog post.

Finding new ways to simplify mornings is a work in progress, but these recent updates have definitely been a time saver and sanity saver too. Happy (Cyber) Monday!

(66)

Share