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The Best Last-Minute Gift Guide You'll Ever Need

Here is a fast and furious run-down of tried and true winners for everyone on your holiday shopping list this year. If you've still got folks that have you stumped, take a look at this list and good luck fighting those crowds!

For Him

Frabil Tip Up  (Around $15-35; $20 at your local big box)

Smartwool Socks (sometimes you can find them on Zulily for a great price!)

The Northwest Company

For Her

Mountain Hardwear Women's Trekkin™ Insulated Knee Skirt $90.00

For the Kids

We recommend:

B. Rrroll Models Fire Flyer Electronic Toy Fire Truck
Bouncy Boing™ Hankypants
B. Woofer, Hound Dog Guitar
Build-a-ma-jigs Aeroplane

The Northwest Company

How to Train Your Dragon woven tapestry blanket

Stocking Stuffers

The New Primal Jerky

For Bookworms

We recommend:

Tales from the Arabian Nights
Ultimate Oceanpedia
2017 Almanac
How Things Work

For Anyone

Door County Coffee and Tea Co.

Disclosure: The trust of my audience is of the utmost importance to me. That’s why I only recommend equipment I love from companies I trust. I have not been paid to review any of the products listed above. A couple items were provided to me for on a complimentary basis to review, but I purchased much of this myself. Also, I am under no obligation to give positive reviews to any of the products listed above.

Little Blue Trucks Adventures - Gift Idea for Toddlers

Have you all seen the post around Facebook about Iceland's tradition of giving books on Christmas and then retreating to read for the night? I LOVE that way to celebrate!

Little Blue Truck books are the perfect gift for your little readers OR for encouraging those not so excited about reading to start getting more interested. The rhyme scheme is really catchy and the story line is simple enough for little kids to understand. The lift-a-flap book keeps toddlers excited for the next page. The Beep-Along book is a fun and interactive way to read together -- but, be warned, it is a difficult beeper. This is great for those that do not want to hear beeping all around the house, all day, BUT during story time the beeper can be difficult to operate.

We had to carry this book around Target for an hour leading up to check-out time and since that kind of enthusiasm was just from seeing the cover and the plush pickup, I decided we better make it part of our collection. Since I didn't want to ruin the surprise, I slipped it back on the shelf in a ninja move, pointing to a Storm Trooper nearby, and we went on our merry way. This book has been the #1 requested book for bedtime since we were finally able to take a break from the months-long addiction to "A Day with Chickens." I'm glad to be beeping along (instead of cheeping along) this holiday season! The Halloween story featuring little blue truck and his farm friends dressed up with lift-a-flap fun was also a real popular read for a while! The books retail for around $7.99 - $17.99 from the publisher and can be found on Amazon as well. 

Little Blue Truck has a holiday edition too! Perfect for gifting to those younger kids in the family -- or a subtle way to get family members reading to their kids! We are going to be getting these books for my nephew to encourage his dad to read more with him!

Happy Holidays and happy family together time reading!

Disclosure: Consideration was provided by brands mentioned. All opinions are my own. 

Last Hurrah for the Holidays - An American Doll Girl of the Year Goodbye

What?!?! A last hurrah for Lea Clark, American Girl's 2016 Girl of the Year? Yep! Right here. You might remember that post when I introduced our GOTY and gave one away at the beginning of this year. Well, I'm doing it again, just in time for Christmas and just in time to say farewell to Lea.

You might also remember that you had the opportunity to ask your burning American Girl questions. I didn't take that lightly. I tracked down some answers to the most asked questions and here they are!!! Enjoy! Share this giveaway, like Facebook pages, leave fun comments and be a good entrant! The more fun YOU make it, the more fun events like this I can provide! Thank you and have a fantastic rest of 2016!!

Was Lea modeled after a real girl the author met?
No. Like our past Girl of the Year characters, Lea’s story is purely fictional and is not based on any one girl.

Who started it all with American Girl?
American Girl was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, who used her skills as an educator and children’s publisher to create the flagship historical line of 18-inch dolls and books that teach girls American history. Pleasant retired from American Girl in 2000, but here is a link to her speech from the company’s 25thanniversary celebration in 2011 where she talks about her vision for the company. 

Who comes up with the ideas and stories for the American Girl dolls and books?
The actual development of our characters is a very iterative process. The brand teams work closely with our editorial, design, and research teams to determine what story we want to tell and what’s the right character to tell that story. For our character-based lines, we always have a working list of story ideas, time periods, and issues and interests to consider. We have an extensive knowledge of girls and what they are interested in, passionate about, or want to do or learn. We balance this extensive knowledge with past characters we’ve introduced, as well as with those things that might be trending at the moment.

Thanks everyone! Good luck! Please enter below.

Disclosure: Consideration was provided by brands mentioned. All opinions are my own and do not reflect any particular views of American Girl.

#Howlidays at the Great Wolf Lodge - This is #Snowland in December

Great Wolf Lodge is already a popular request among children that have television and have seen the (very accurate) promotional commercial featuring families having a howlin' good time at the various resort properties around the country. If you've never experienced a Great Wolf Lodge -- consider a trip instead of all the "stuff" under the tree. If you're planning a trip, consider doing it during December -- when the whole resort is sparkling with Snowland celebrations and decorations!

Adventures of Mommyhood ©2016 All Rights Reserved
Great Wolf Lodge Classics

You will get waterpark access (exclusive to overnight guests at Great Wolf Lodge, so crowding is limited!) when you check in. You'll also get wolf ears (for adults and kids if you wish!) Be sure to tell the front desk staff if anyone in your party is a birthday kid (within a few days or so) and they'll get special birthday party hat wolf ears. You'll be able to see the traditional Great Clock Tower Show and even meet a few of the pack of friendly characters known to frequent the lodge.  Did I mention they would be around for Story Time too? They provide ample time for mom and dad to snap photos and are full of high-paws for the youngsters. This is all complimentary with your stay and most activities can be found in or near the lobby. Watch the schedules -- if the evening show is too late for your crew, catch a morning viewing (complete with snow shower if you go during December!) Other fun and mostly free activities (some have a small fee for supplies) can be found on the handy events itinerary you will get with your ears at check in. If you find you need a little intro to Great Wolf Lodge OR MagiQuest, both have their own resort channel on the in-room televisions. There's also a Great Wolf Lodge cartoon that plays on a loop, if you need something kid-safe for a bit! There is a ton of action related to the holiday season from Polar expeditions in the morning (after yoga usually) to visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus -- there is no shortage of fun. 

Adventures of Mommyhood ©2016 All Rights Reserved
Tip: You can check in early and receive a text when your room is ready! That means a few extra hours in the waterpark on the day you arrive! Put that suit on before you leave the driveway so you're ready to go when you get to Great Wolf Lodge!

Snowland Suites

A Snowland suite is the perfect way to add a little magic to your stay! The $50 upgrade is well worth the money -- you get a keepsake Great Wolf Lodge Snowland throw blanket and storybook featuring the familiar furry faces of the Great Wolf Lodge characters. The room is beautifully decorated with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and a full-size decorated tree and lighted garland along the headboards of the beds. Perhaps the most fun is the night of check-in you're able to select a time that works well for your family for a special character to come visit -- and they bring milk and cookies! We had an abundance of sugar during our fun weekend getaway, so the kids were in heaven! The special touches are very much worth the little up charge since you'll get those priceless moments of surprise and snuggles for story time in the comfort of your room! 

Adventures of Mommyhood ©2016 All Rights Reserved
Tip: Reserve a spot in the Gingerbread House -- yes! IN! You can make a reservation to dine in and believe me, it's great food and a fun time! The best part? A $10 donation from every reservation goes to Ronald McDonald House charity. I've had family see the real good that the organization does so I was more than happy to add this little bit of fun to our trip! (It smells of sugar and keeps the kids interested long enough for you to drink a cup or two of hot coffee while enjoying breakfast (or lunch/dinner!) Another tip, since you're here -- order the Family Style platter. It's a mound of food and it's a fun way to make dining out more like dining at home! 

Wisconsin Dells 

An ever popular vacation getaway for folks in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Wisconsin Dells do not disappoint. This is the location of the flagship Great Wolf Lodge and the 100,000 square foot waterpark does not disappoint, even today. We saw families of all sizes and ages having a blast during our three-day stay and though it might be better geared for the younger set (say maybe under 10 years) -- even teens can be seen smiling wide as they patter and splash barefoot from one waterpark attraction to the next. This Great Wolf Lodge features fun northwoods themes and a Howlin' Tornado funnel slide -- plus plenty of rides and slides
for tykes too! The location is IDEAL -- everything you need is within walking distance -- or a VERY short drive across the road. Outlet shopping, dining, and gasoline are all within a two block radius. The Great Wolf Lodge is located off of I-94/90 so it makes navigating a breeze. [You see the iconic font from the freeway!]

Give your family at least two nights to really have enough time to enjoy the lodge activities AND the waterpark -- that's probably a minimum if you're going to also take in MagiQuest and do things like sleep and eat. It's a really fun place and even with an entire weekend, we were all wishing we'd had just one more night to really howl at the moon!

Consideration was provided by the Great Wolf Lodge. All opinions are my own. Please check the Great Wolf Lodge website for specifics in your area and for deals, as things change and this post will not be updated with dates or deals regularly. Thanks Great Wolf Lodge for a wonderful time!

Do You Have Little Conductors? Buy THIS!

We have a house full of boys. Something at the very primal, DNA-level of boys generally guarantees a "train phase" at some point during childhood, I'm convinced. There was no exception in our home, both boys have the train gene. (Sheldon Cooper a la Big Bang Theory, anyone!?) Even as a toddler our oldest thought Mt. Rushmore with its epic stone faces was Thomas the Train. The video, below, brought to you by Whittle Shortline Railroad company is too true!

In fact, they were mesmerized by this short video! Oh the things that bring joy to kids!?

If you've raised a train enthusiast, then you might know the frustration of having several different pieces of sets and none that really jibe well together. The great thing (and our favorite feature of Whittle Shortline's cars) is that they are pretty universal! They match up to most other train sets including our Chugginton and Thomas magnetic cars and they are reported to match up with Lionel sets too -- though we've not invested that kind of cash into the train phase in this home.

We selected a CN railroad five-car set -- it was guaranteed to come with an engine and caboose that were CN branded and then it was a little like a grab bag for the three random cars. We got a Burlington Northern car (which was exciting because we have rails that showcase BOTH CN and BNSF cars near our home. The detail made them look like shrunken versions of the real thing. Our sons were both impressed with the little cars. The older kiddo, who had been "over" trains recently in favor of Monster Trucks was just as interested as our toddler when we revealed what was in the cute little box. The cars come individually wrapped in plastic and packed in a cardboard fitted box. The trains have been made by the same family for 20 years! I love that home-town feel to the company.

You can find sets like this one on the Whittle Shortline website and a five-car mixed set retails for $69.95.

Disclosure: This post was presented to you by a partnership with US Family Guides. All opinions are my own. Consideration was provided by brands mentioned. 


Where Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire - A Worthy Cause You Haven't Heard Of

Disclosure: The post was sponsored by Stonyfield Organics.

Recently, it occurred to me as I was sucking down a Stonyfield Yo-Kids Squeezer tube (Hey! They're not JUST for kids!) that I'd never had yogurt outside of the fire camp mess tent while on an incident. The spike camps just couldn't keep it fresh, you know? I'm thankful for this though, since I take my yogurt ice-cold. Something about consistency. Anyway, thinking about fire camps got me thinking about the Pay it Forward card I got in the mail that day.

I'd been considering going to the local animal shelter with $50 worth of supplies from their "want" list. I wasn't really completely happy with this option -- $50 buys one bag of GOOD puppy food and a few rolls of paper towel. It didn't feel like it would make a big difference (which I know, EVERY little bit helps.) But I still wanted to try to think of something I wouldn't normally do (I normally donate dog food and supplies a few times a year to the local shelter.)

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation

I've wanted to re-up my 52 club membership since I left the fireline. Like many things, my memberships and donations drastically got cut when I was no longer receiving a regular paycheck as a stay at home parent! The 52 club costs $52. Thats one dollar a week. When you look at it like that, even without that steady paycheck I should have seen how minimal that would be in the long run, over a year. So I took the opportunity to donate $52 (I added $2 of my own, gladly) to make it happen this year.

I won't know how $52 will help fellow firefighters. I won't know if my donation covers some administrative cost or if my bit will go directly to a family of a firefighter who has answered his or her last call. I cannot help but think this is timely, with the fatalities and fires in Tennessee. Especially as I've been listening to my new CD (because I'm old school) when I have my breakfast (yogurt, coffee, and toast.) The song I most love is "Tennessee Christmas." I've never actually been to Tennessee. I've heard the Great Smoky Mountains are amazing. Let me tell you a little secret after these fires have passed -- they're still amazing, and they need your tourism dollars there more than ever! Many of my friends ventured down to the southern coastal area for some of the rash of fires last month, they all made it back, thankfully.

I will always remember visiting the Storm King Mountain fire memorial in Colorado and working a fire in the Prescott, AZ area a few years before tragedy struck there. You just never know when you might be the one needing help, especially in such a dangerous line of work. It makes me feel happy, no matter who my contribution has helped, to know that someone out there, working to help others by nature and by virtue of their profession, will be helped thanks to my small contribution. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is an organization that helps the people within our country. These men and women are some of the most hardworking and selfless individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting and the wildfire community is very small and tight-knit. I've served alongside and am proud to be friends with a man who lost a family member and saw the good that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was able to do.

Thank you Stonyfield, for allowing me to make this contribution. Thank you for allowing me to Pay it Forward this holiday season in hopes of making the fire in someones soul burn a little brighter. Maybe I've helped with the Santa's Helpers 2016 campaign -- maybe a child out there who has lost their mum or dad will have a little brighter Christmas because of my ability to pay it forward and because of the generosity of Stonyfield. I sure hope it's a heartwarming story -- but there is a lot to be said for the mundane, too. It all needs to happen to make good things blossom. I am really proud and thankful to have been able to in a small way "be the change I want to see."

Not that it matters, but I do believe in Karma and the very day I clicked "send" on my donation, I was in line for a quick lunch and the customer ahead of me had seen my magnetic ribbon (a wildfire one sold by the same foundation) and had "paid for the lunch of the firefighter behind them." It was really nice. It only cost them $2.14 to totally make me smile and appreciate the good in the world. I knew that I'd paid it forward to a meaningful place to me and that I'd set in motion a chain reaction of good in the world, however small the ripples. Somewhere, the ripples continue to spread and it all started with Stonyfield, giving me the means to make it happen and the nudge to see it through.

Thank you to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for the good work they do and to Stonyfield Organics to the good they helped to spread this year. Happy Holidays!

Disclosure: The post was sponsored by Stonyfield Organics.

What the heck is a Scrape-A-Round? Why do YOU need one?

For me, the appeal of this little doo-dad called a Scrape-A-Round is the unique shape and size. I'm always drawn to something a little different -- I love the small stature of this thing! No more giant scrapers in the car? Sign me up! I smell a stocking stuffer!

If you're tired of scraping your windows the old fashioned way, then join the Scrape-A-Round movement. Neat new gift ideas and scrape your windows cleaner in half the time with the world's best windshield ice scraper. View the Scrape-A-Round action

Fast Facts: 

Best ice scraper because of the softer plastic, allows the scraper to conform to the window curvature! Find out more information:

18" of ice scraping surface.

The comfortable grasp provides relief for the arthritic or carpal syndrome sufferer.

Direct pressure to the window, no pressure lost through the ice scraper!

The circular rotational motion of ice scraper is more effective

Double ice scraper action, leading edge and trailing edge.

Multi functional, remove the cap and it doubles as a funnel.  (For beer? I kid! I kid!) 

This scrapes windows frost and ice free in half the time!

Makes the perfect, practical gift for the Holidays! 

Save! Get FREE Shipping at Use code LU8FBEZREU2 at checkout. 

Disclosure: I found out about Scrape-A-Round via US Family Guide. Consideration was provided by brands mentioned. All opinions are my own. 

Tennessee Christmas and Why it's Perfect Timing!

I've been listening to Tennessee Christmas on repeat lately, the new holiday album out by Amy Grant. Not only is the CD pretty great -- my husband demanded a new CD in the player under our kitchen cupboard, since I've had the same one on a loop since Halloween! This is a great mix of really chilled out wintry themed music and some old Christmas favorites. It's going to be the CD softly playing in the background of our Christmas dinner -- perfect calming, cozy tunes!

Tennessee Christmas 

Fans that upload a video of them surprising loved ones for the holidays and hashtag it #TNChristmasSurprise! could be included in a compilation video posted to Amy’s social media channels! How fun! Check out the "To Be Together" audio on YouTube! This is where you can buy the music to play in your own kitchen this holiday season!

I hope to see a lot of fun, probably emotional, feel-good videos this season! I'm a sucker for all the holiday feel-goods including these types of videos, most of the Freeform 25 Days of Christmas programs, and of course, Hallmark channel, almost round the clock! Add Tennessee Christmas to my faves for the season!!

Tennessee, In Real Life

We've all seen the news about the devastation in Gatlinburg and the Pigeon Forge resort areas. Though folks have mostly made it through the storm, they're a long way from going back to "normal." Sure, it could have been worse. Folks in the West know this force of nature all too well. Its time now to send warm, healing thoughts and actual donations to the local area crisis response. It's also a good time to remember that though the area was burned, they still NEED you to come visit! In the wake of a disaster like this, the attractions are still there. The resort areas run on tourism -- many of the people affected by the fire could be supported by their work at an aquarium, a show, or a hotel. PLEASE keep visiting the Smoky Mountains this holiday season! It is truly magical -- even as the ashes settle!

This post is a result of my participation as a Flyby Promotions influencer. All opinions are my own.