My Birthday Interview

It’s almost the end of birthday month and somehow I’ve managed to keep up with a post every day even with the craziness that is my life right now. I’ll be very glad to be back to only three posts a week though.

Today I thought it would be fun to see what my answers are to the birthday interview sheet I had my daughter fill out for her birthday this year. I’ll tell you her answers at the end too if you are interested.

Name: Lori

Age: 32

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite show: Golden Girls

When I grow up I want to be: Someone that gets paid to read books and drink coffee.

I like to play: Cards against humanity. We haven’t been able to play since the baby started talking

My favorite book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

My favorite restaurant: Red Lobster. I totally copied the kiddo on this one. I don’t have a favorite.

My best friend: My hubby

My favorite cartoon: Sid the Science Kid

My favorite place to go: a book store, but there should also be coffee and an unlimited budget.


My four year old’s answers-

Name: Pepper

Age: 4

Favorite food: happy face fries

Favorite color: yellow

Favorite show: My Little Pony

When I grow up I want to be: A doctor

I like to play: Paw Patrol

My favorite book: The Princess in Black

My favorite restaurant: Red Lobster

My best friend: Jayla and Baby Ty Ty

My favorite cartoon: My Little Pony

My favorite place to go: the library


Do you have a favorite restaurant? Favorite book? What do you want to be when you grow up? These are a lot harder to answer now then they were when I was a kid.



Q & A A Day For Moms

Image from Amazon.

I received this journal for Christmas 2016. It has one question for every day of the year and you answer that same question on that same date each year for five years. I began it on January 1, 2017. The beginning of the book now has three years worth of answers. I wanted to share some of the questions and how the answers have changed over 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The question for January 3rd is a fill in the blank sentence. I love seeing my child____________.

2017: Laugh. Giggle. Be happy. Be sweet. Get excited. Succeed.

2018: Learn

2019: Read. Sleep. Listen. Take care of other children.

January 5th. What’s something you’ve done for your child that you never imagined you’d do?

2017: Get hit when she tantrums and still love her and snuggle her when she is finished.

2018: Make separate dinners.

2019: Spend hours cleaning up the messes she makes.

January 7th. What’s a smell you associate with your child?

2017: Johnsons and Johnsons nighttime bath soap

2018: Salt and Vinegar

2019: Chocolate

January 9th. I was in awe of when my child___________.

2017: Ate lunch out two days in a row with no complaint or drama.

2018: Said her name!

2019: Read The Princess in Black all by herself.

January 12th. I’ll be honest: ___________drives me crazy.

2017: Whining and hitting

2018: Whining and tantrums

2019: Whining and not being listened to.

Clearly whining is still an issue in our house.

January 23rd. Tomorrow I will ________ because I know it will make _________ happy.

2017: color, Pepper

2018: Sing, Pepper

2019: Act silly, Pepper

I love to make that girl happy.

January 31st. What are your three most recent kid-related purchases?

2017: Stickers, waterproof matress pad, toy flowers.

2018: Mommy and me tutus, books, shopkins.

2019: chocolate, Madlibs Junior, burritos.

February 2nd. What’s a favorite book right now?

2017: Daddies do it Different

2018: Feminist Baby

2019: The Princess in Black

February 11th. What makes your kid, your kid?

2017: Her brilliance, her sweetness, and her temper.

2018: Her sass and her kindness.

2019: Her amazing kindness and thoughtfulness.

I am loving reading these questions each day. It gives me a minute to reflect on something about my or my daughter’s life that I might not otherwise have given any thought to. It’s also fun to look back on my answers from previous years. I often think “that was only a year ago” or “I had forgotten about that entirely.”

Do you use any question a day type journals? I’ve had others in the past, but this is the only one I’ve stuck with for this long. Though to be honest I sometimes find myself filling in a couple weeks at a time.


Our Four Year Old’s Birthday Gifts

Today my crazy, sweet, brilliant, brave, thoughtful, amazing little red head turns four! That’s insane to think about. The day has arrived none the less. This is the final day of birthday week this year. And today she will receive her final gift from my husband and I.

All week long she has had a gift each day. So far she has received books 2-6 of The Princess in Black series and she has been excited every day that she received another installment in her favorite series that she can keep forever.


Thursday’s gift was a little different because it was Valentine’s Day so all three of us celebrated together. Pepper’s gifts were a 3x3x3 rubiks cube (just like daddy), a set of light up thumb chucks (a bigger version of daddy’s begleri), and a moodle book that went along with the series we all got for Valentine’s Day.

Today is the big day though and her request for her birthday was big girl Legos. I may have helped her along in that idea because I have been purchasing her a mini Lego set here and there since before she was born. So we’re getting rid of her Duplo, or at least putting them in to storage for now, and today she gets to upgrade to big girl legos.

Collecting what I’ve picked up for her over the years we have a full Pull Ups box of loose Legos and small Lego kits for her to open.


This is a set of miscellaneous Lego pieces and trays that I found for $1 in a Facebook yardsale group years ago and we still had them in the closet. There are enough to fill the bulk of the box with just these. IMG_20181229_163710

I also have 12 mini sets of Legos for her to open as well. These are wrapped and placed on top of the loose Legos inside the wrapped box. I’ve also convinced her that one of those small kits with the puppies is exactly the kit she wants to open for her birthday. The rest will be a huge bonus. Using points, coupons, and other offers, I estimate I spent less than $5 on all of the Legos she is getting IMG_20181229_163637

So five chapter books, a giant box of Legos, and a yellow birthday cake made by grandma and my girl is all set for a great birthday today. And she has also been saying for weeks that once she is four she will be ready to use the potty. Cross your fingers for us.




Birthday Week Traditions

This week is birthday week at our house. My birthday is on the 13th, Valentine’s day is on the 14th, and my daughter turns four on the 16th.

This year birthday week will involve a gift for my daughter and I each day of the week leading up to her birthday and small birthday party on Saturday.

Our gifts will be books on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Thursday is Valentines Day and we’ll be getting something else and my husband gets a small surprise too.

Saturday my daughter will get her big gift from my husband and I for the year and we’ll have her cake with her grandparents who will also bring her gifts.

My daughter’s big wishlist this year was for big girl legos (not duplo) and barbie gear for her barbies she got for Christmas.

My wishlist was all books and planner stickers.

Luckily I shop way in advance for everything so I already had all of the gifts for the week ordered before my husband’s hospital stay and diagnosis. The only thing I don’t have is a ‘big’ gift for me. I don’t really need anything though and we can’t afford anything at this point so I may or may not pick something up.

I do all of the shopping for all holidays. I wrap all the gifts too, even my own. I love the shopping and wrapping though so it’s not a big deal to me.

Besides a gift each day the birthday girl gets to choose all the meals for her big day. Currently my daughter only happily eats plain white toast and chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. I don’t think my parents or in laws will happily eat those for lunch on Saturday though.

The big thing right now is to make as many memories and to take as many photos as we can and to just enjoy our time as a family for as long as we can.

How do you celebrate birthdays? Is your birthday close to anyone else in your family?

The Feeling Festive Tag

Today I’m answering the questions in the Feeling Festive Tag created by Liv J Hooper on Youtube. There are 14 questions.


Festive Favorites

1. Favorite Christmas movie?

We’re not big movie people. I watch a lot of Youtube and so do my husband and daughter. We don’t really have any movies we watch every year or anything, but the movie that comes to mind first as my potential favorite holiday movie is Elf with Will Ferrell. My husband unfortunately, doesn’t think that movie is very funny, but he’s wrong Even so I can’t recall watching it in recent memory.

2. Favorite Christmas song?

I’ve actually been thinking about this for the first time ever this year. My daughter is very musical and she is almost four. So she’s learning all the Christmas songs and she constantly reminds us that her favorite song is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Typically she doesn’t tell someone her favorite thing without also asking their favorite as well so I needed an answer prepared. I think my answer is Winter Wonderland. I can’t say what it is about that song exactly, but I find myself humming it all year long and I just enjoy singing it. I’m also a fan of All I want for Christmas is You and Baby it’s Cold Outside.

3. Favorite Christmas television?

My daughter is obsessed with the claymation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That my little brother’s favorite when we were growing up too. I can’t recall one of those specials that I liked more than the others. My favorite Christmas television would probably be the I Love Lucy Christmas special. I love when everyone comes in dressed as Santa and then they figure out that the real Santa was there with them. We may have to watch that this year. My daughter is a big Lucille Ball fan somehow. She has the curly red hair just like Lucy. We also went to a Lucy museum this year and the National Comedy Center had a display about her too. And we have Lucy ornaments on our tree.

4. Favorite Christmas book?

I don’t think I have a favorite Christmas book. I can’t say that I’ve ever read an adult one besides A Christmas Carol. I might just have to choose ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

5. Favorite Christmas season snack?

The only thing coming to mind is Boom Chicka Pop. There are some great holiday flavors like dark chocolate and sea salt and hot cocoa marshmallow and this year I saw frosted sugar cookie. We’re not really popcorn eaters, but that stuff is so good. I’m not sure it will be in the budget this year though. Maybe Santa will put a bag in my stocking.

6. Favorite Christmas Day food?

We usually do a Christmas dinner type meal on Christmas Eve, but this year we won’t be. We’re planning to have lasagna. On Christmas day we eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I make a big pot of chili for lunch and dinner and any guests that may stop in to join us. I like the simplicity of the day.

7. Favorite Christmas decoration? Show us!

We really only decorate the tree. We’re not big decor people in general. We’ve lived in our apartment for eight years and have 10 things total hung on our walls, most of them were gifts that needed to be hung quickly so they didn’t get ruined in storage or in a closet somewhere. So for Christmas decor we have the tree and a small section of wall in the hallway that is strung with twine for the current seasons art projects from the kiddo. My favorite ornament would probably be the large plastic bulb that is filled with my daughter’s crochet (or knit) hat that she was given at the hospital and her and my husbands bracelets from the hospital.


Haha you can see from the picture that we are not a fancy people. We didn’t have enough money to buy ornament hooks our first year together so we used plastic coated paperclips. They worked great and we always have them on hand so we still use those.

8. What is your favorite part of Christmas?

My favorite part of Christmas is watching people open gifts I chose for them. I love to see the surprise and happiness. This year I’m especially excited to see my daughter’s face on Christmas morning. She is so excited and very in to the Santa thing this year.

Traditionally Speaking

9. Tell us about your favorite Christmas tradition that you & your family have – either on Christmas Day, or as part of the season.

It’s not really a tradition yet because I haven’t done it with my daughter before, but we’re going to drive around and look at Christmas lights now that she’s big enough to see out the window in the car. I think she’s going to love it!

My favorite tradition that we have implemented so far is letting my daughter choose gifts for each family member. She gets to go to Dollar Tree with her shopping list and choose a gift for each person she will see at Christmas time. So far this year she has purchased either a character puzzle, like Paw Patrol or PJ Masks or My Little Pony, or a box of band aids for each person. This year she is learning how to wrap them herself. She loves choosing things for others and she really loves watching the other people open the packages she picked for them.

10. Any new traditions you would like to start? If you’ve already tried starting one, how is it going?

One thing I loved this year was my daughter shopping for the Toys for Tots box. She started seeing the boxes all over and asked what they were for. She asked if we could have a budget for a gift for a little girl to put in the box. We figured out a small budget addition of $10 for her and she shopped for a long time at Walmart. She finally settled on a Connect Four game. I was so proud of my kiddo. She didn’t ask for anything for herself and she came in under budget. I can absolutely see this being a a new tradition.

Giving & Receiving

11. What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever been given – good, bad, or for any other reason?

The only thing coming to mind is for Christmas 2012. My husband surprised me with a NaNoWriMo winner’s shirt. I had won that year for the second time and this was my first winner’s shirt. I was so excited because I had been so disappointed that we had never been able to afford the 2010 winner’s shirt and that had been my first win. I’m still disappointed about not having that one actually. But that year, he was sneaky, which he never ever is, and thoughtful, which he has trouble with. He gave his dad cash and ordered it with his dad’s credit card so I wouldn’t see a charge come out of the bank. He had it shipped to his dad’s house so I didn’t know a package had arrived. It was very sweet. I still have that shirt and wear it when I need some writing inspiration.

12. Have you ever regifted something at Christmas that you’ve been given during the year?


13. Do you prefer lots of little presents or one big one?

I have always loved lots of little gifts. Growing up, my little brother always wanted one big gift, a video game system or something else electronic. I ways wanted a hundred different gifts even if they only cost a quarter a yard sale. My parents were big yard sale shoppers over the summer so I would get a big box with fifty or more books every Christmas that they had collected over the summer. These day’s I still prefer a bunch of small things. For two reasons really. First, I don’t have anything big I really want. My wishes are pretty much books and stickers for my planner. Maybe organization baskets to try and contain the disaster that is our home. And second, I just love opening gifts. It’s magic to pull apart the paper and see what someone thought you would like.

I’ve done all of the shopping and wrapping since the baby was born so I don’t really have surprises these days, but there are still a few gifts from my parents for holidays that give me that spark of magic.

This Christmas

14.What are you most excited about for Christmas this year?

My daughter’s face on Christmas morning when she wakes up seeing what Santa left for her under the tree. I can’t wait!

What is one of your favorite holiday traditions?


Our Family Christmas Traditions

Our immediate family consists of my husband, our almost four year old daughter, Pepper, and myself. My mother, step father, and father-in-law all live nearby, but everyone else lives in other states, mostly on the other side of the country. Today I’ll tell you how my immediate family celebrate Christmas.

The Christmas Tree

Our Christmas excitement really starts as soon as Halloween is over because that’s when the stores start to roll out the festive merchandise. It’s not easy to convince my three year old that it’s not Christmas yet when there are 20 trees up at Walmart. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday anyway so pre-child we always put up our tree on Halloween, sometimes earlier. After Pepper was born we started putting it up later and later in the year because it takes up so much space that is now occupied by toys and furniture I have to do something with the whole time the tree is up. This year the tree went up about one week before Thanksgiving.

My husband is not big on holidays. They were never a big deal when he was a kid. He is getting more in to them as Pepper grows up though. I care about the tree more than my husband does so I have the more difficult jobs. I clear the furniture, get out the tree and put it together, fluff the branches, test and string the lights, and string the garland (my daughter calls it garlic). Then the whole family listens to Christmas music and puts on the ornaments. It has been so fun to see my daughter get more and more excited each year.

The Christmas Countdown

I always want to do an Christmas countdown for myself. It’s one of the things I miss most about being a kid at Christmas. And they have such fun ones these days. They are so expensive I can’t possibly justify the cost. Pepper’s countdown has been different depending on the year. One year we did the book countdown where we wrapped 24 books and read one each day. This year we have a small parts container from Walmart. It has 30 drawers so we start counting down 30 days before Christmas and she gets to open one drawer each morning. They are mostly small toys, shopkins or something from the dollar tree broken up in to several drawers. This year we also have Christmas stickers and activities. The activities have been her favorite part so far. We have done things like Christmas crafts, coloring with mommy, reading Christmas books, playing a family game, etc. And we still have coming up playing in the snow with grandpa, baking with grandma, and driving around to look at Christmas lights.

This year she also has a small cardboard countdown grandma got for her that has a piece of chocolate behind each door. And we have an app on my phone that tells us how many more sleeps until Christmas. She asks to see it every morning.

Christmas Songs

We start singing Christmas songs the day after Halloween because that is when local station starts playing them 24 hours a day until New Years. This year she is learning all the words, and very quickly. She is very musical. Her favorite song is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and she sings it nearly non-stop most days. Sometimes she will sing a line and then I’ll sing a line and we’ll go back and forth through the song over and over. It drives my husband nuts haha We turn on youtube or pandora often and sing and dance along together.

Christmas Crafts and Activities

My daughter loves to do crafts. She likes to decorate for every holdiay and she likes to make little things that can be hung up. You can see most of our crafts on my instagram @allthingsmommablog

So far we have done a lot of bookmark making. We also made some paper ornaments for the tree using posterboard, washi tape, and stickers. She colored a Christmas canvas bag from the dollar tree. We have more coloring projects coming up as well as awooden Christmas Tree plaque to paint and then hang.

In years past we’ve made other ornaments by taking the clear plastic balls from the dollar tree and filling them with fake snow, or jingle bells, or green and red pompoms.

We also enjoy doing Christmas and Winter themed worksheets. I try to incorporate skills she is honing with so much fun she doesn’t realize she’s learning.

A place I had been looking at for worksheets is They reached out to me and offered a fun winter worksheet for my readers.

Young readers can keep their spelling skills warm this winter with this “cool” word search. Continue to fire up those spelling skills by visiting for more fun activities.

You can download the word search here:



They included the answer sheet too!

I love using word searches for helping my daughter learn to spell new and longer words. With a lot of new words I like to go through in advance and circle the first letter of each word to make it a little less challenging for her. She loves to find the words and color in the letters.

word search

I’ll be heading back to the website after I finish typing this to snag some mazes. She’s recently obsessed with them and both my husband and daughter are getting maze books for Christmas. I like that the ones on this website can be customized based on size and difficulty.

Christmas Books

No celebration would be complete for my little reading machine without books, books, and more books. This is an assortment of books from the library we had the first couple of weeks of December. More are on the way you can watch Instagram to see more of what we are reading.


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Pepper’s current favorites are How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a recordable version of Twas the Night Before Christmas that has her grandpa’s voice reading it to her as she turns the pages.

Gifts and Santa

Traditionally I shop for gifts all year long and stock up on things for way later. We have toys aged eight and above that we bought while I was pregnant. I keep a giant box of things for future holidays. And I’m usually done shopping and wrapping way early. For 2017 I wrapped the last gift on the 1st of July. This year was so so different. My husband lost his job in April and he’s still technically unemployed. He’s helping me with my freelance work, but we’re barely scraping by. So, no big gifts this year. We had to cut some people out of usual shopping list. But it will still hopefully be a great day. We have just a few things for me and my husband so Pepper doesn’t think Santa forgot us and obviously more things for her. And I still have four more small things I’m hoping to pick up for the hubby if we can find some wiggle room in the budget to do so.

I try to get my daughter things she will either love and play with for a long time or that are consumable so I don’t have to worry about long term storage. And this year especially I tried to get the few specific items she asked for. I enlisted help from grandma and grandpa for the item out of our price range.

Her wish list for Santa this year was:

  1. A big Hatchimal with blue and yellow spots
  2. A toaster with toast for her toy kitchen
  3. Monopoly Junior
  4. New Markers

Grandma is bringing the Hatchimal and Santa has the rest covered. She is still little enough that I can sway her asking to things I know are obtainable like the markers and things I’ve already purchased like the toaster. Now she thinks it was her idea and it will be amazing and magical for her when she opens exactly what she asked for.

As far as Santa goes, she’s a believer. So all Christmas morning gifts from him. She is so bright and observant and logical that I’m pretty sure this year is the last year she is going to believe in Santa as a concept so I’m trying to play it up pretty big on a limited budget. Any tips to make it extra special?

She has a cardboard mailbox under the tree that she sends notes and cards and letters to Santa in. He sends letters and other surprises back when he can. He is very busy right now after all. On the day we put up our tree Santa leaves her a letter and a gift hidden somewhere in the house. He gives her a clue so she can find it.

She also got a special letter from him. And she is sent a video from him too from

Both the letter and the video are free. She loved the video last year and I can’t wait for her to see this year’s video.

As far as opening gifts, I’m terrible at waiting, but this year we have no money to buy anything other than what we already have, so Pepper got one gift on the day the tree went up and she has one to open half way through her coutdown when the drawer has a slip of paper saying to open a gift. So all presents from us will be opened on Christmas morning.

My mother and step father spend the day here on Christmas Eve and we eat Christmas dinner and open gifts from them that day. They go so overboard that we open for an hour or more.

When we wake up the next morning Santa has visited and we can open all the gifts under the tree and play with them all day. One rule I have is that she doesn’t have to leave home or her new toys on Christmas.

I make a big pot of chili and anyone that wants to come see her can come anytime after noon and visit with her or bring her more gifts.

My father in law is an organist at a church and works on Christmas Eve and Day so he usually ends up seeing her the day after. We’ll go to his house and he usually buys something big that we can keep there for when we are over each week for dinner and playing. It works out great. Big exciting toys for her and I don’t have to find a place to put anything else.

Christmas is a great low key day with lots of fun and surprises and love and coffee and naps.

After Christmas

We keep the toys out for a few days and then slowly find places for them among her old toys. The tree used to stay up much longer, until my birthday in the middle of February one year! But again, the space issue. I’m usually done trying to do things around it by the first week of January and we take it down. It’s darker and less joyful for a while, but then we get back to our lives and look forward to birthday week in February.

*My birthday is the 13th of February, Valentine’s day the 14th, and my daughter’s birthday the 16th. We end up celebrating for a full week and she gets a gift each day ending with a small party with the grandparents on the Saturday.

How do you celebrate Christmas? What is your favorite tradition? How long do you leave up your tree?


Yoga with my Toddler

My three year old is a wild child. She is never still or calm. Even in her sleep she talks and giggles and wiggles. She is a constant force of energy and chaos.

Several weeks ago, I can’t remember now if it was her idea or mine, I found myself helping her search Youtube for yoga videos for toddlers. She attempted some of the poses, really enjoyed the songs from one of the videos we watched, and liked having me be a tunnel while we were both supposed to be doing downward dog. Then began the constant request for me to play yoga with her.

After placing her an order with the library for a dozen books and half a dozen dvds about yoga I had visions of the two of us doing complicated poses and sitting in silence for full minutes at a time. That is definitely not what happened.

A typical yoga session:

Toddler: Play yoga with me mommy.

Me: Okay darlin, just let me finish up this task.

Toddler chooses a video from Youtube and begins to watch. I join her a minute or so later.

Me: Okay. Time to sit down in the butterfly. Do you see the girl on the tv? You have to do what she is doing. Are you listening to her? Do what she is doing. Come on girlie you can do it. Sit like a butterfly. Okay, we’re supposed to be a cow now. Can you get on your hands and knees? etc.

I would manage a few stretches with her crawling all over me and she never once listened.

Me: Okay darlin. Mommy is going to go back to work now.

Toddler: But mommy, I want to play yoga with you.

It was making me more frustrated instead of more calm. She just doesn’t cooperate. She’s three. What did I expect?

Honestly, I expected her to listen and follow directions, and maybe even be still for a few seconds at a time. It’s easy to laugh at my thoughts of grandeur now.

We are still reading the books here and there. Her favorite is called I am Yoga by Susan Verde. It’s not really a story, just statements about how she is calm. But the pictures are really nice.

Another of her favorites is The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power. That one is fun, but it way too long for a bedtime story (she always chooses three) so we don’t read this one unless we have a sizable set of minutes to sit down with her and read the whole thing.

And we’re still working on practicing yoga. A few times a week she’ll pull up a yoga video on youtube and ask me to play yoga with her. I usually can’t say no, unless she chooses a complicated video. Mommy isn’t quite that flexible girlie.

We’ll keep trying and maybe one day she’ll take me by surprise and be still for five continuous seconds, but I won’t hold my breath.


*My 3.5 year old doesn’t say namaste she says ‘momma stay’ and it makes me laugh every time.



Here are most of the books and dvds we used:


Yoga for You by Rebecca Rissman

A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu

Strike a Pose by Karen Birkemoe

You can do Yoga by Alix Wood

Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo

I am Yoga by Susan Verde

The Happiest Tree : A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami

Yawning Yoga Laurie Jordan

Yoga for Kids: Simple Animal Poses for any Age by Lorena V. Pajalunga

The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power



Storyland yoga

Shana Banana

Family yoga connect, play & laugh

Good morning yoga:  a pose-by-pose wake up story

Kids world yoga