We all love the holidays. The traditions. The food. The giving. Time to slow down and enjoy one another...except that rarely happens until the holiday is actually here and over. The lead up is quite the production and that is part of the fun...until it’s not. Finding some balance this holiday season by doing a few of these simple things...
Turn off your phone. Now I know this isn’t totally realistic, but set aside some time each day where your phone is out of sight and out of reach. Mine is usually between 2:30-5:30. At first I thought that this wouldn’t work for me, with real estate transactions always in play, and there are times when it doesn’t, but for the most part, it does. Believe it or not, no one actually dies if they can’t reach me for an hour and a deal has never fallen apart because of it either. Shocker.
Once you put your phone away, you’ll realize how much time you spend checking it. It’s a waste of so.much.time. and brain power. Not only that, when you’re not constantly seeing someone else’s elaborate Christmas vacation or over-the-top-tree or holiday family picture, you’re able to enjoy your own space so much more. For the record: all those people’s Christmas’ and family life look more similar to yours than you realize.
Trim the fat. We all have too many things on our to-do lists. Go ahead and give yourself permission to take two...or a dozen off that list. I’m sure they are all great and wonderful things, until you’re up all night trying to get them all done, yelling at your kids to ‘hurry up and help’. Perhaps my house is the only house that can get a touch too hectic and then we’ve really missed the point all together.
Don’t have time for neighbor gifts? Stop doing them. Really. You’re neighbors are not keeping track of who is knocking on their door and dropping treats (if they are, that’s their own issue :)). They’ll still be your neighbors and if you really can’t handle the guilt of skipping neighbor gifts, just move your gift to Valentine’s Day and make that your thing. We all have too many neighbor gifts sitting on our counters anyway.
Do your own kind of giving. You don't need to follow that calendar you found on Pinterest, or from your church. I realize that everyone has good intentions with giving here and giving there, and we all want to give everywhere. The thing is, it wears me out physically and emotionally and then I have nothing to give to the people that matter most to me. Please, don’t get me wrong, it’s great and good and wonderful...until it has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to produce these magical experiences for my kids. Instead, I’ve looked around to see where I can help and give a little more and we’ve just done that. It's enough. You're offering is enough. It doesn't need to be elaborate to be enough.
Keep your wrappings simple. I honestly love a beautifully wrapped gift. It’s probably more important to me than it should be so I try to get ahead of the game. Even still, every year I’m up until all hours on Christmas Eve. So I’m simplifying. I ordered these boxes on amazon — because I get tired of gift bags and I’m using a whole lot of bakers twine instead of ribbon.
I've spent the last week, fine-tuning all my lists. Making returns and swapping an item here or there to ensure all my gift-giving is just right. I know it's perhaps a little silly, but I really do love thoughtful gift-giving. This weekend I noticed Anthropologie was 30% off EVERYTHING and naturally, had to scope it out since it is one of my favorite places to find the perfect gift for my mom, sisters, friends, teachers -- all the lovely ladies in my life. Here's a round up of a few items I love for gifts, as well as a few items I'm considering for the home. Bonus? Almost everything single thing on here is under $100 and so many good stocking stuffers under $25. I'm obsessed with this cute hair bow that's under $10!
You asked for it, so here it is, my gift guide for all the favorite girls in your life!
We've gotten all of our kids these watches...which I've found really helpful when they're out riding bikes and at friend's houses. I can say, 'be home at this time!' and they have no excuse to not know the time! ;). They come in a million color combinations, have a stopwatch on them, which my kids love because we often times make up obstacle courses in our backyard and then time to see who can do the course the fastest. We've also thoroughly tested their waterproof capacities, Zack's was still ticking after a whole summer of swimming with it.
Thesetumbling mats might drive you crazy, but all your kids will love them. We borrowed my SIL and while Liv practiced tumbling on them, the boys wrestled on them. win-win.
This3D printer pen has been the talk of my house this weekend. Bonus! It's on super sale.
I'm still avoiding smart phones and iPods, loving this camera instead for all the pictures she wants to take and videos she wants to make. I'm certain one day she'll thank me for not allowing her to post anything to social media and I KNOW I'm going to thank myself when I compile these gems at her wedding dinner. ;)
These scrunchies are our favorites -- tight enough that they hold that top knot all day long.
This is for sure on my list for a little lady at my house. It comes with free online lessons, but I know so many that have taught themselves & it never gets old.
Liv and I have been using this back and forth journal this year and it really is a favorite. I've learned so much about that girl with this and I'm pretty sure I'll always treasure her 9-year-old handwriting.
If you're feeling like being the 'cool mom' this will put you at the top of the list. For the record, I'm not a cool mom, but my daughter wishes I would be. ha!
This card game and this card game are family favorites. They are fun and quick, we have both and they each get played often. Would make a great stocking stuffer.
These little skateboards (penny boards) ride more like a long board, nice and smooth, but are tiny and easy to transport. Lots of colors to choose from.
These roller skates are about the cutest thing I've seen & they've got great reviews!
These dresses never get old -- she's had the yellow one she'
These blankets, really they make every gift guide in the history of ever. We all have one, we all love them.
These tees, they're what she wears almost every single day.
This series is good for early readers and is an all-time favorite around here
Currently though I'm likingthis for reading options.
And the clothes...here are a few of our favorites, all under $50.
Today is the day! My Real Estate 101 course is available for purchase (scroll down for an awesome discount code!) I've thought about this day for well over a year. At the end of my first year in real estate I had to pinch myself, wondering if what I thought had just happened, had happened. It was a crazy end to a crazy year.
I was hugely pregnant and not sure if we'd have insurance when it came time for Luke's c-section. Scot's company had been acquired 9 months previously and during that time, we literally had no idea when they'd decide to close the Arizona operations. The good news was that they wanted to keep him, the bad news was they'd need us to move to San Antonio, Texas.
I wasn't wholly opposed to moving, but, for the life of me, I couldn't get the numbers on this move to make sense. While Scot's career had the potential to grow with the move, it would utterly tank mine. Suddenly, my real estate career was a viable reason NOT to move, even if Scot couldn't secure another job.
Never before had we charted these territories.
Through the process of deciding, I realized I did not want to put my fate in the hands of another company, in a different city, with a new baby on the way. Never has a company taken care of my family. Never have I been able to control what decisions they make in the board room. Never have they put us ahead of themselves. They never have and they never will and I get it. This isn't to bash the company he was with, they were always very good to him, but business is business.
What I did know was that even if Scot wanted to take a year off, I could support our family.
He didn't love that idea, and I agreed it was our 'worst case scenario' but can you imagine the freedom that brings to the table? Suddenly our backs weren't against the wall. We didn't HAVE to accept the move. We didn't HAVE to depend on this company. We didn't even HAVE to have Scot working.
Holy heck. I'd been in real estate one year, and suddenly these were my options?!? Imagine if I had decided to sit on the sidelines one more year?!?
So we chose to stay. We gritted our teeth, and turned down the move, without another job on the table. Marching forward, we prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best. Thankfully, after that decision a new job appeared on the horizon and just like we bought this house & accepted a new job on the same day, this time we had a baby & accepted a new job in the same month. Go big or go home I suppose.
All of our circumstances are different, but I think we can we all agree that our circumstances can change on a dime. Real estate is my way of being prepared. I don't ever have to rely on a company again and that feels so good. It's my way of taking care of myself and my family. It's my 'back-up' plan that can also be my main plan if I need it to be.
And now, I want to help you open up your options. I want you to experience what I've experienced. I can assure you it will make you feel uncomfortable. I can assure you it will keep you up some nights and I can assure you it will be the best thing you ever did.
I cannot think of another industry where you have the opportunity to grow as fast as you can in real estate. So come join me as we grow together.
My first Real Estate 101 course will be on Thursday January 17th from 7pm - 9pm and guys, I'm hosting it at MY HOUSE. I debated a couple different options, but I just want you in my home. It's where I feel the most comfortable and where I think we'll be able to get to know each other the best. We'll have a soda bar & appetizers and then we'll get to learning.
Tickets will include the live 2-hour course, along with course workbook...& there might be a special surprise in here as well, if the stars align! On top of that, we'll be creating a private Facebook Group -- which will be such a HUGE source of strength. This is the place where I'll be popping in once a month throughout the year with monthly goals and motivation. This is the place you'll come when you have a hiccup in a deal & you're not sure what to do. This is the place you'll come when you hit your 10th closing for the year & we'll celebrate with you!
I know SO many were hoping for a digital ticket to the event & I just can't quite guarantee that that will turn out like I want, so I'm not going to offer that up this go around. What I am considering, is offering access to our Private Facebook Group -- would this be of interest?!? Please leave a comment below, DM me, email me, something so I'm aware you want it and I'll get that worked out.
To purchase your ticket, head here. The first 5 people to register can use code FIRSTDIBS to save $50!
I cajoled Zack into scouring the internet for all of his favorite things. It's easy to write-off this age of boys as hard to gift, but once we got going on year's past and this year's 'mom-I-gotta-have-it!' we couldn't hardly stop. Best news, it doesn't involve one single video game.
Zack loved hislong board and all my kids use it a ton. I liked it so much, Scot got memy own one year. They are super easy to ride, even if you're not a 'skater.' If you're debating between a few, I like the ones with the black grip tape better than the clear. The clear tends to get brittle a crack easier.
Regular skateboards are also a staple around here. Depending on how familiar they and you are with skateboards, I'd recommend buying a complete set to start with. Then you can change out the trucks as you get more advanced. If you're local, we love the guys at Freedom Boardshop, otherwise find a local skate shop and ask them all your questions. I usually ask them what the best deck is that they've assembled recently...they'll tell you all about it & you'll get some good ideas. Then they'll hook you up with stickers on your way out. Tuck those into your kids' stockings for their water bottles and helmets.
If you give a skateboard, you'll want to pick up a helmet, ramp and rail too. My boys and their friends have spent countless hours perfecting their tricks on their boards.
I use stockings to stock them up on their favorite socks and underwear. This underwear is so good, Zack does his own laundry when he runs out.
I'm always encouraging my boys to find an adventure, so I also outfit them with the tools to really have a good time. Pocket knife, air-soft guns, paint-ball guns, mini nerf guns and sling shots with foam balls. Yes, they're all weapons. Yes, we have rules about them. Yes, they love the ever-living heck out of them. If you're wondering how to have weapons without injury, two things: first, you'll probably have a minor injury, just accept it. They'll peg each other, get hurt and probably won't do it again. Second, create games and storylines that don't involve them shooting each other. We've set up hunting obstacle courses with empty soda cans and timed who can get through it the fastest with the most amount of hits. Seriously, it's fun.
Sports. Basketball shoes, soccer goals, basketballs, sweats, tees, water bottles and a bag to carry it all.
Outdoor games. Our winter weather is why we live here, so we stock up on all sorts of outdoor games and toys. Spike ball is always a favorite, along with Ripstix, rollerblades & these scooters that are always fought over. And yes, I'm serious about the rollerblades. Make sure you have a friend on a bike and some rope hanging around when they open them & watch them behave like 12-year-olds.
If it's too cold where you live, bring the game inside with this amped up mini hoop.
We love playing this game and this game.
Zack loved reading this series and this series.
As for tech for my boys, I've steered away from nearly everything, including the Amazon Dots, Google home and all those type items. Instead, I've done the iPod Shuffle (which they don't even make anymore, but you can still find some here) and someheadphones. The last thing I need is them asking Alexa how to do their homework or what _______ means. PS -- the shuffles won't work with blue tooth, so make sure you're got them wired in!
One thing ALL my kids have loved are these blankets from KB Cute. I got them all a different pattern and they all sleep with them every single night. Bonus, they fold up compact & travel well!
And then the clothes! Oh the clothes. I try hold back on giving them anything they need so that I can wrap them all up, but I'm also notorious for seeing Zack come down the stairs ready to go somewhere and in horror, go retrieve a much needed new shirt for him. ha! My mom always used to do the same thing and I love it. These are some of Zack's current favorites -- look for the arrow on the right to scroll.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.