Father’s Day & Summer Gifts

Got a man to buy for this summer?
Check out some favorite warm weather gifts perfect for any dad, son, brother or uncle!

(This post contains affiliate links, but feel free to shop around!)

In our family. we have both Father’s Day coming up this weekend as well as a dad with a summer birthday to buy for!  There’s always so much fun going on in the summer that most of our gifts for Luke tend to revolve around parties, grilling, camping and vacations.  So today I’ve got a roundup of some of our favorite gifts for Dad or any other guy who needs a gift sometime during the warmer months.

Check them out!

  1.  Grilling supplies: This is one of our favorite genres of gifts for Luke and in the end, these benefit us all when he decides to throw steak on for dinner!Pictured above are CharMats which are silicone rubber mats designed to hold tools and food when you’re cooking, keeping your grill clean and scratch free.  A friend of ours is the inventor and we think they’re pretty great!  Get them HERE. We also love a great set of grill tools.  We have about a billion but Luke’s favorite came in a cute (er, rugged and manly) box with everything you need to clean and cook on your grill!  Check it out HERE. Add a masculine apron for a well-rounded gift that’ll make your outdoor cook super happy.  This one in particular cracks me up!  With room for beverages, condiments and who knows what else, it’s as practical as it is manly.  Ha ha!
  2. Camping supplies: Luke is a scout leader so he’s always going camping and has quite the arsenal of outdoor shtuff.If you’ve ever tried to pee outside in the dark, you know how invauable a great lantern is!  This one is amazing; it’s also a speaker, rechargeable and can can be hung inside a tent. Luke is obsessed with this camping table! It’s got a plastic side for preparing food and a metal grill for hanging things from or using a stove or dutch oven on.  Never make your food in the dirt again!Ok, for the record, I am NOT a camper.  Too many bad memories of getting stuck in the rain with a terrible tent.  But this one is the grand daddy of all tents!  I set this sucker up by myself in less than 5 minutes the first time, no lie.  A worthwhile investment, but if it’s too pricey or big for your taste, this little one is a good alternative. 
  3. Water toys: If you’re headed to the pool or lake this summer, these are great to bring along!Luke’s parents have a couple of these pool loungers and they are SO comfy! The kids are constantly fighting over who gets to relax in them.An inflatable, floating cooler. Need I say more??A pack of plastic playing cards: totally waterproof and great for playing on a boat on while floating on those loungers!

Best Black Friday Deals!

Once you’re over your turkey-coma this weekend, you’ll probably end up at least thinking about doing some holiday shopping.  Even though I REALLY dislike packed parking lots, holiday shopping never fails to get me in the Christmas spirit!

I’ve collected some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals from a few of my favorite stores below.  Here are some great places to start, whether you’re looking for the hubs, the kids, the in-laws or even yourself (wait – am I the only one who shops for herself on Black Friday??).

TARGET
Running a 10 days of deals promotion…check them all out here!
Toys are 20% off through Wednesday!

Check out the widget below for some of our faves.  That pink kitchen is adorable and we LOVE Magna-Tiles & Nerf guns.

 

AMAZON
My favorite place for pajama-clad-lazy-mom shopping!
Check out all Black Friday deals HERE
And some great sales on Amazon devices HERE

Kindles have been BIG hits at our house…plus they make reading more fun!

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NORDSTROM RACK

Traditionally one of my go-to places for grown up gifts:
stylish clothes and accessories for those of us on a budget.
Check out their gift guide HERE
And the widget below for some things I wouldn’t mind if Santa brought me…

KOHLS
All Black Friday deals HERE
I always love Kohl’s for holiday gift shopping – great deals and you can buy everything there!

Some of my faves are below:  Essie nail polish, cute neutral Nikes, KitchenAid, manly watch for the hubs, and the Batman cave and plasma cars have been hot toys at our house for years!

How to survive morning sickness

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I haven’t done much pregnancy updating around here lately…but I do on Instagram so come follow me if you don’t already! (@bonniewhiskem)  Things are pretty similar this time around to most of my previous pregnancies except my morning sickness lasted quite a bit longer; I usually feel better right about the beginning of the second trimester but this time I wasn’t out of the woods until about 18 weeks.  Less fun!

7 pregnancies have certainly forced me develop some helpful habits for combating nausea and so I’m sharing those today!  Everyone’s experience with nausea during pregnancy is SO different: some women only experience at specific times of day (“morning” sickness is definitely a misnomer), some women feel sick during their ENTIRE pregnancy, and still others never get sick at all.  Regardless of the timing and severity of your pregnancy nausea, hopefully some of these tips will help you survive even when your current favorite position is hugging the toilet bowl!  

Click read more…

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Highlights from France

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Hey all!  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve been seeing some fun updates from our recent trip to France!  Now, before you wonder what sort of hateful person I’ve become, jet-setting off to Europe like a carefree DINK instead of wiping multiple poopy butts like I’m supposed to be doing, let me explain.

Luke’s dad’s company (where Luke works) is a travel agency for performance groups, so every other year, his dad puts together tours to some fun, historical and cultural locale (usually Europe) and invites friends and family to come along.  This may or may not have a little something to do with the timing of our children’s births (i.e. in the summer, on the off years).  Heh heh.

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We hit up Normandy and Omaha beach first…very moving being in the American cemetery there and a stop I highly recommend!

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Teach a Child How to Match Clothes – Free Printable!

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Matching fail

Kids have, how shall we say…a unique sense of fashion.  Some children seem to choose their clothes solely based on comfort or whatever’s within easy reach.  Others put a bit more thought into the process, attempting to combine as many colors and prints as humanly possible into one outfit.

While I’m all for freedom of self expression, there comes a time in a kid’s life when learning how to match their clothing becomes less of a whimsical guessing game and more of a social skill.  I generally give all my children the freedom to dress themselves, while retaining veto right on special occasions (holidays and family picture day).

I’ve been trying to slowly teach Juliet (age 6 1/2) how to match since she now attends school once a week.  It’s been a mild catastrophe.  I somehow manage to either completely confuse her or wound her pride by insulting her fashion choices.  We were both frustrated and she avoided getting dressed at all cost…until now!

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The Emerald Isle

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Luke smiles demurely at the site of some super cool ruins.   Hundreds of years ago, some Irish people used to protect themselves from invaders by building their own mini-islands.   One way to cross the lake to get there was by memorizing the location of underwater stepping stones and dancing your way across (ala El Macho and his lair in Despicable Me 2).

I’m officially adjusted to life back home now…although the transition was rough.  We’ve got another trip planned without kids in a couple days to celebrate our 10 years of marriage and this one’s gonna be a brute to come back from.  Hint: those pics are gonna have a lot more ocean in them…

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The flowers in Ireland were seriously to DIE for.  But then again, flowers in general are kind of a novelty once you’ve lived in the desert for 10 years.  What are these anyway, hydrangeas?  I only know that they made me infinitely dissatisfied with my palo verdes.

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We went on a little boat ride on Ireland’s only fjord (and you thought Frozen made those up) and it was spectacular!  Freezing, but spectacular.

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So, I’ve got this thing with old doors and gates.  They’re so fabulous, especially fancy European ones.  Luke made fun of me mercilessly on our first couple trips to Europe when I’d stop in front of every doorway I saw but he knows to keep quiet now.  Speaking of doorways, in Ireland, EVERY door is painted a crazy fun accent color.  They say it’s because when the queen died one year (while under British rule), the royals made everyone paint their door black in mourning.  Story goes, when the drunk Irish guys came home late at night to a string of townhouses all with black doors, none of them could tell which house was theirs.  So they began painting them all different vibrant hues.  Hehe.

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The main pedestrian shopping street in Galway.  It was our first place to spend the night and absolutely charming!

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Tell me I’m not the only person who acts like a child when there’s oodles of green grass around.  Am I right??  Anyone?  Buehler??

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At the top of Blarney Castle where we (disgustingly) kissed a stone (with our mouths) that millions of other people have kissed (with their mouths).  I thought it was supposed to bestow the gift of gab (which I already possess and therefore saw no need to participate) but when I learned it actually had the power to make one eloquent, (i.e. no foot in mouth syndrome) I happily queued up.

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This was where we had our farewell dinner (delicious) to traditional Irish music played by a local band (hilarious).  It was a load of knee-slapping fun.

In short, Ireland was considerably more awesome than I expected.  Gorgeous place to rent a car and just get lost.  In fact, doing that alone with my lovely husband is now on my bucket list.  Green and gorgeous is an apt description.  This was my first trip to a foreign country where the locals speak my language (Canada doesn’t count) and I loved it.  The accent is so freaking cute that I’m stymied as to how they’ve fought so many wars.  If some farmer tried to come at me with a pitchfork I’d just giggle and ask him to talk some more.

The food was amazing – surprisingly similar to American food and this was the first European country I’ve been to where the people’s body types are most like Americans (ahem, large).  Then again, considering how many Irish immigrated to America, it’s not really that surprising.  Thanks for the food legacy, Ireland!
(and the ghastly English spelling 🙂

Top o’ the marning to yeh!

 

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Luke and I are spending the week in Ireland right now, enjoying time with some friends and family members who have traveled with us on previous trips to Europe.  What a treat to relax in the cool air while our poor children sweat to death at home in Phoenix!  Ha ha!  Poor fools.

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 Downtown abbey in the background (not really)

Green everywhere, gorgeous castles, beautiful music and surprisingly delicious food.  I haven’t experienced actual hunger in over 7 days now.

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Here are just a few of my favorite shots of this amazing Emerald Isle.

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Muckross
house
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Luke’s great-uncle Johnny celebrated his 88th birthday on this trip.  If I’m still hiking all over Europe when I turn 88 then I’m gonna be pretty danged pleased with myself.  He also uses his age as an excuse to get fresh with younger women.  Brilliant!

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Galway bay
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Luke being photobombed by SIL, Anna.  Ah, good times being had by all.
We’ve got 2 days left in Dublin before we board the plane back to reality.  Time to inhale all the chocolate croissants I can find.

Women Breaking Barriers….and what to watch tonight!

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Have you read Infidel yet?  If not, put down your computer, run to the nearest library and get a copy, STAT.  I’m serious.  It affected me the way no other non-fiction book has yet.  Except maybe this one.  I was blown away by Ayaan Ali’s dedication to finding the truth, even if it meant leaving everything that she held dear and walking away from her family and country.  She now works to free women who she sees as slaves in an unjust culture and religion.
Here’s the review I left on Goodreads:
Holy. Crap. This book was probably the most horrific and fascinating book I’ve ever read. It moved me to tears and had me standing up and cheering. I admire this woman to no end and hope that she lives a long, happy and free life.
In short, this book is Ayaan Ali’s path from an accepting Muslim childhood in Ethiopia, to a an adult life as a rebel atheist in Holland. Her whole young adulthood was spent trying to become a good Muslim but she simply couldn’t live with the dissonance between her beliefs of Allah as a peaceful God and the abuse and murder of women in her Muslim community. After being sent off to an arranged marriage with a man living in Canada, Ayaan gets on a train to Holland and never looks back. She becomes a member of Dutch parliament, makes a documentary about Muslim women, lives under armed guard, survives her co-creator of the documentary who is brutally murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist and eventually settles in the US.
As a devout Christian, it does make me sad that she has completely renounced a belief in any god, although I can’t say that I blame her. She was true to what her heart and spirit told her, which was that the injustices she was witnessing were NOT of God. She made her life something she could be proud of, even though her family disowned her for it and her life is still threatened regularly. And now she works to right the wrongs she witnessed both in Africa and in the Islamic communities of western Europe.
Three cheers for this heroic woman and her amazing book!

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I’d never heard of the movie Temple Grandin until I was browsing Amazon for something to listen to while I sewed one night.  I ended up abandoning the sewing, I was so into this story!  It’s the true story of an autistic woman who struggled for years to apply her mind to the one thing that she felt the most passion for, and she ended up completely revolutionizing the world of cattle farming and animal welfare.  Claire Danes also did an AH-mazing job portraying this woman*.

Some inspiring women you’ve GOT to learn about!

*Claire’s performance was along the lines of Leo’s incredible work in this classic movie…and speaking of Leo and Claire, surely you’ve seen and loved them in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet.  Aaaand, when Baz Luhrmann comes up, we’d be remiss not to recommend my favorite flick from my over-emotional dramatic college days of yore, Moulin Rouge.  If those are too heavy, and you’re in need of a heartwarming movie about the importance of the little things, do NOT miss About TimeThere are a few instances of harsh language but I’m pretty sensitive to that stuff and I wasn’t offended.  An absolutely beautiful story of love and family and making the most of every one of life’s moments. Another inspiring one was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Hilarious with some GORGEOUS scenery from all over the world and a message about living life to the fullest.  Lastly, if that puts you in the mood for more cringe-worthy Kristen Wiig, catch Girl Most Likely.  It’s often silly and a tad slow, like her movies can be, but the hilarity of her awkward moments makes it well worth it.  A flick especially for those who have ever been embarrassed by family members but still can’t help loving them.
Whew!  Now go put on comfy pj’s and do your Netflix homework.

A decade of lovin’

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Luke’s mom let us borrow her convertible VW bug for our weekend away.  Yesssss.
On May 8th Luke and I celebrated 10 years of marriage!  That seems to be simultaneously a ludicrously long amount of time and barely the blink of an eye.  Part of me wonders how the heck I became my mother who now measures time in 10 year increments instead of weeks or months and the other part of me can hardly remember back to when I was a clueless single person desperate for a date with a decent guy.  Wow, flashback!  Dating is brutal.
I talked Luke into going back to San Diego, where we were married, for a quick weekend away and it was THE best.  Remember back when you had no responsibilities and could just lounge around eating and sleeping in and frolicking time away??  Yeah, me neither…but it’s awesome!
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Here we are, our marriage just minutes old.  Man, we had no idea what was about to hit us.  But we’ve loved every bit of it!
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Of course we had to take some pictures in front of the same temple, 10 years later.  Not much the worse for wear, eh?  Luke’s missing some hair and my rear end ain’t as tight as it used to be, but all things considering, not bad at all.
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I sure do love the San Diego temple.  Don’t ask me why we got married here when both of our families live in Arizona.  It was just the first of many times when my sweet husband bowed to my unreasonable whim, with no questions asked.  I sure love him!  And his willingness to bow to my whims. 
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We rode bikes around Coronado island which is the cutest, most picturesque island I’ve ever been to.  And the houses are all gorgeous!
photo 1 (2)The Hotel Del, where Marilyn Monroe filmed “Some Like It Hot”.

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Spent some time on the perfect beach at the Hotel Del Coronado where we spent our wedding night.  Bless Luke’s heart, he even called to see if we could afford to stay there again on this trip (we couldn’t).  Ah well, maybe in another 10 years.
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Also, Extraordinary Desserts.  Um, yeeeeah. 
Sad story: I left the rest of that ganache covered cheesecake (the lightest, fluffiest cheesecake you’ve ever tasted!) in the hotel fridge and realized it as we pulled out of town.  We (er, Luke) decided not to go back for it and if I told you I don’t think about that cheesecake sitting abandoned in that mini bar on a regular basis, I’d be lying.
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I always told myself I wanted to fit back into my wedding dress on my 10 year anniversary and, SUCCESS!  Granted, there was a bit of sucking in involved and this was taken before the previously mentioned dessert episode, but I’m calling it a win.
In all seriousness, I consider myself one of the amazingly lucky ones who found an incredible guy who’s happy working all day to support his little big family.  After work he comes home to grubby fingers wanting piggy back rides and to dish duty and the bedtime routine, but he does it all with pleasure and a laugh.  I’m so grateful for him every. single. day. 

Live Intentionally

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I just read this AMAZING book and wanted to share how it’s already changed things up around our house.
The title struck me because, hey, who doesn’t realize they have too much shtuff taking up space?  Especially with multiple kids and the junk that they bring along with them…anyway, I expected this book was your usual organization how-to guide but it was so much more!
The author and his family are self-proclaimed “minimalists” which he describes as people who choose to spend their time, money and energy on the things that matter in life (i.e. moments, memories, relationships) instead of the things that DON’T (i.e. possessions).  Instead of just telling you how to manage your stuff (which countless books and blogs are already doing) he challenges readers to assess whether they need all this junk to begin with.
The author explains that living with less stuff is not about depriving oneself, but rather a way of learning how to live intentionally.  Instead of buying random crap to decorate his shelves, he decorates with a few meaningful family pictures or pieces of artwork his kids have done.  Instead of having a closet jam-packed with clothes, most of which he never wears, he has a few very favorite items that are a joy to wear.  When a minimalist does need to buy something, he can even afford to have nicer things because he’s only buying things once.  He also has more time and energy to spend with the people he loves.
This book came at a perfect time for me.  Our 4th bedroom was my “craft” room (also affectionately referred to as the “crap” room) for the past 5 years and in it I stored everything from too much thread, to extra pictures frames, to pillow forms and everything in between. 
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This is what it looked like in its “organized” state…
We just decided to move the boys into this room so that upstairs, the twins could have their own room and Juliet and Finn could share (in hopes for more sleeping all around). 
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It took about 2 full weeks to relocate my sewing machines and find space for everything in other corners of the house. 
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Realizing that I’m a collector, and that I often look to possessions for comfort instead of people and relationships, was just one eye-opening aspect of this book.  Since reading it 3 days ago, I’ve cleared out my closet, the kids’ closets, more craft stuff, useless décor – you name it!  I’m prepping for a huge garage sale and adjusting to the idea of being a minimalist! 
I have to say, it is really a liberating feeling.  Our house seems bigger, and I feel less demands on my time.  I expect daily cleanup to go smoother and less stress from looking around at piles of clutter.
In the end, I realized this book was less of a guide to organizing as it was sort of an emotional re-prioritization.  After reading this book, I was reminded of a quote I’ve thought of often:
“Everything you own, owns a piece of you.” 
It’s no wonder we all feel pulled in a million different directions!
I can’t recommend this book enough…it’s a short, quick read and right now it’s really cheap on amazon (especially if you have a kindle). Go buy it, seriously.