Best Gifts for Tweens

Best Gifts for Tweens

Tweens are one of the toughest age groups to shop for. But not to worry, I have my own resident tween who is not afraid to tell us what she wants. And this year, I think we have hit the jackpot with these gifts. I secretly want these for myself! Don’t tell her because then it won’t be cool. Lily helped me with this list and she hand-picked all of these gifts. I think these are definitely the Best Gifts for Tweens this year.

// this post contains Amazon affiliate links //

Best Holiday Gifts for Tweens
 

 Unicorn Onesie What tween does not like this right now? This unicorn obsession has gone from stationary to clothing and there is no shortage of super cute Unicorn Onesies for kids. ( and adults – I may or may not have bought myself a pair)

Tassles on your iPhone! This too is a super cute trend that I am secretly – not so secretly– coveting. You can find tons of variations on this fun accessory with variations on colors and hanging goodies.

Cat Ear Headphone I mean! Who doesn’t need gold cat headphones! Suuuper fun accessory for the tween who is always listening to the hottest tunes.

iPhone PopSocket Another great accessory for your phone. The Pop Socket allows you to hold onto the phone without the chance of dropping and is pretty great for getting that ‘just right’ selfie angle.

Bath Bomb Gift Sets We love bath bombs around this house. Lily has been making them and it’s such a little luxury in the bath. Total MUST and again… I’m getting some for me too.

Nailmatic  Nail Polish & Rollette Lip Gloss SetI love Nailmatic products. This French brand has custom colors and is water-based. The kids nail polish can easily be washed off with soap and water but if you want something that stays on longer, Nailmatic makes an adult line of polishes that stay on longer.

Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm
Remember a couple years ago when Baby Lips launched and it was sold out everywhere! While the craze is not THAT crazy, it is still a pretty popular option for a lip balm with the tween set. Maybe it’s the kitschy packaging or the soft scents or that it actually works, either way, it’s wallet-friendly and a cute something to add to stockings this year.

Fuji Instax Mini Camera
This is a classic gift for tweens and teens. The Fuji Instax takes photos and has a built-in selfie mirror. I recommend the bundle that is offered that includes a case, extra film with filters and more.

Minnetonka Junior Trapper Faux Fur Lined Moccasin
Super comfortable and can be worn indoors and out, The Minnetonka Moccasins are a great gift for the cold weather. These mocs come in various colors allowing you to choose from the classic browns or new pastels.The faux fur lined mocs are super cozy for the toes!

Google Home Mini – Chalk : Target
The Google Home Mini is a great gift for kids. There is SOOO much you can do with this gadget and it’s a great price point. Kids can have these in their rooms and parents can control the privacy setting of what they listen to or ask google.

 

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Parenting: The Fog Years

Parenting: The Fog Years

Life somedays is hard. Actually, life for the past few years has been hard. An older friend, who I absolutely love and has been my parenting mentor for years, referred to these years as the ‘fog years’. These are the years when the kids are young and need you for everything. For parents who have chosen to stay home with the kids or work from home or work part-time like I do… these years are brutal.

I’m not making comparisons between working and stay-at-home parents but I must say this. I do get jealous when Matt gets dressed up and heads out the door for a full 8-10 hour work day. I am jealous that he is being creative, using his mind for things that don’t involve negotiating with a 4YO or practicing mindful patience at every moment with a tween, math homework or making sure the kids don’t get hit by a car, eat poison, fall down the stairs or stick their head in an oven to see if they fit.

I’ve been a bit sick the last few days and the option of stopping has not been there. So through the migraines and nausea and the utter exhaustion, and growing a baby, I have to navigate a loud house, feeding dragons, driving to cross country meets, math homework, and bedtime horror!

Am I enjoying my kids? Sure I am. I love them with every fiber of my being… but there are days… many days where I would trade them for a massage, hot bath or moment of silence. I know there will come a day when I will miss these crazy years but I really need to complain right now. I really need to wallow in my first world problems.

This stage I’m in – 2 kids – a preschooler and a tween – is a mentally, emotionally, physically and wild stage of life. There is never a moment that is dull, true. But there is never a moment where anything stops either.

Last night after a long exciting, fulfilling weekend the kids were finally in bed around 9 pm. I then had to tidy up the house – for no other reason but to get myself ready for the week ahead. If I woke up to an overly messy home It really messes with my already unorganized mind. So after straightening up the kitchen, dining room, playroom, living room, hallway, bathroom, and actually folding and putting away my clothes on my bed. I settled into about 2 hours of work. Bed by 1 am… good times.

But I can’t sleep because guilt takes over my thoughts. Was I mean to the kids today? Did I yell too much? Did I let them watch too much TV just so I could escape to the bathroom and hold my exhausted body and mind and cry for 20 minutes? Was I fair? The house is a mess. How is this messy home affecting my child’s focus every day? What’s for breakfast the next morning, That teacher email was kinda judgy… what did that mean? Did I spend enough one on one time with both kids? Thomas is easy to spend one on one time with because he cuddles up and kisses all day. Lily is a tween… I’ll leave it there. I have to constantly make an effort to spend meaningful time with her that goes beyond the mother/daughter parenting dynamic. The guilt of everyday things creeps up too. Should I go back to work fulltime? Am I working too much? Am I not doing enough to plan holiday events or summer family plans. The laundry has piled up again, the bedroom is messy again. Who’s paying attention to the dog? Am I reaching out to friends and family often enough?

My body isn’t my own these days either. Heck, my life isn’t my own. Who am I? My daily life most days solely consists of feeding the kids, making sure they are dressed, homework, dodging meltdowns, track, soccer, gymnastics, playdates, feeding, feeding, feeding, and bedtime madness. There is an overload of demands. My kids want something every single second of the day. I’m in negotiating mode from before sunrise to after sunset! They are always talking to me, touching me, needing something!

I have stopped volunteering for things. I am not the class parent, I’m not hosting book club next month, not having a holiday party, not helping at church, I am shutting it down for a bit so I can regroup and catch my breath and not feel so crazed.

Every night when it’s time for bed, it’s like a new concept for the kids. As if we haven’t done this bed thing every single day for their entire lives. Bedtime?! What?! NOOOOO?!

It’s the fog years, right? I am feeling really anxious about our third child. I’m stressing out about the toll this is going to take on me and how much I will change. I used to be this fun person with so much life to offer and these days I feel as if I am just trying to stay afloat in a rapid river that’s constantly trying to take me down. I have lost interest in small things like crafting, shopping or discovering new music. My sole goal these days seems to be entertaining and enriching the lives of these dragons. Even if I like something in a store, my immediate thought is… who is going to clean this?

I desperately just need one day of pampering. Just one day. Make me some food that I want to eat, a hot bath in a super clean shiny bathroom, I want to light a candle that smells like Anthropologie… I actually just want to move into Anthropologie. Have you ever seen a kid in there? No…never…it’s bliss.

I am thankful for my friends who are going through this with me. Because my misery loves company and that’s the truth! I’m not alone. This is not my sole plight. This is the plight of all parents who are the primary stay-at-homers. This is the daily struggle. The endless giving without getting anything back in return.

Matt makes dinner in the slow cooker a lot. He also does the laundry a lot. He also works a lot and travels. I’m not without a partner in parenting who is very involved. This is the life we choose and we love it and most days it’s pretty awesome.

But when it’s bad… it feels really bad. We are not alone parents… these fog years… they are just that!

 

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Pregnancy – Surviving Your First Trimester

Tips to survive your first trimester of pregnancyPregnancy – Surviving Your First Trimester. It’s not always a smooth ride during pregnancy and surviving the first trimester. My first pregnancy was pretty easy. I was so lucky. I was still dancing for various projects all over New York City and was always moving. This really helped my body stay in shape and strong and my core was supported by these dance muscles which in turn made me have a lot more energy and feel great.This time around, it’s quite different. I haven’t moved with that professional dancer intensity, since having Thomas and my body has …softened a bit.

The second pregnancy, your body remembers… like the “north” … the body remembers. and even before we realized we were pregnant.. this amazing body of mine was already settling into the 9 months of growth. My belly popped around 18ish weeks and there were a lot more symptoms that tagged along this time around.

My first trimester was a bit rough. Not Princess Kate rough… but pretty rough. I couldn’t sleep, I started having pregnancy migraines, restless legs, and nausea. This summer while in Florida with our family, there were many nights that I just couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning all night from discomfort.

While most of these symptoms cannot be avoided, you can do small things to help ease the discomfort.

Tips to survive your first trimester of pregnancy

To survive the first trimester of pregnancy you can try to:

  1. Drink tons of water. I would cut up limes and lemons and add to my water. It’s easier to drink with a little flavor but the sour flavors of the limes and lemons really helped soothe my nausea.
  2. Get a maternity pillow or any pillow and place it between your legs. This is crucial. I sleep with a million pillows all around.
  3. Try sleeping at an angle. Laying flat was a bit of a challenge for me just because of nausea and discomfort so again, I piled up pillows all around me to stay slightly at an angle when sleeping.
  4. Ginger biscuits! I could not stand the smell fo ginger tea but ginger biscuits were my saving grace! The crunchy kids because I also didn’t want to eat too much. So small bites of these biscuits always helped.
  5. Find your support system. I am so fortunate to have an amazing husband who is always making sure I’m comfortable and fed and feeling ok. The kids have been brushing my hair or putting lotion on my belly or legs which is also so soothing. My friends have been really wonderful by checking in, offering advice and lending an ear. You need a support system throughout your pregnancy. You need people around you who will just listen to your woes about your body aches and be sympathetic. This is so important. It’s always nice to have people who are willing to listen to what you are going through but so much more while pregnant. Those emotional pregnancy hormones don’t mess around!

The New York Mom

That’s all I have! Yaa! for this sweet preggy babe! Please share your preggy tips with me!

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Gender Reveal – and the baby is a…

It’s time to reveal the gender of this new bundle of baby! We’ve been trying to find the perfect way to share the news and didn’t quite seem to vibe with any of the ideas that we found. But when we figured it out… it was perfect! Here is our super creative – spur of the moment – gender reveal!

Lily wanted us to make a big deal out of the gender reveal. When she found out that Thomas was a boy, the nurse who was administrating the sonogram just told us in a casual way. She was not impressed. A gender reveal needs to be a big thing, she said.

We didn’t want to do the traditional pink and blue – gender specific thing.  Thomas’ favorite color is pink while Lily’s is blue. The princess/pirate reveal couldn’t work because Thomas loves dressing up like a princess all the time and we didn’t want to define those gender lines. After searching through Pinterest and asking our friends for suggestions… we had nothing.

Matt and I had known the gender for a good 48 hours and hadn’t figure out how to tell the kids… with the pressure of an exciting reveal as requested by the tween… we were all out of ideas! On a whim while running errands at Target… we had an ah-ha moment! We decided to rearrange the letters in their craft section to reveal the big news.

This was the best idea ever!!

Lily was impressed. It was exactly the big Gender Reveal moment she was looking for.

Pure surprise!

The baby is…. a GIRL!!!

The future is Female y’all!

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Best Places for Apple Picking Near New York City

It’s Fall Y’all! Fall is quite possibly THE most beautiful season in the Northeast. Sure we love our summers but the fall with the leaves, and the chill in the air and the apple cider and the cinnamon donuts and the craft fairs and … the silence you have in the home when the kids are back in school! You can see how this is easily my favorite season. To kick off the season, I’m excited to share the Best Places for Apple Picking Near New York City.

Every year we go apple picking several times a season. Living in Northern Westchester, there is no shortage of apple picking orchards all around us. Thomas and I love to go on the weekdays when it’s quite and take our time through the trees, picking the best apples. We make apple pies, apple crumbles, apple juice and simply eat everything we pick pretty fast.

Best Apple Picking In New York

There are lots of lists about the best places to go  so I’m narrowing down mine to a few faves. I have lots of tips and tricks to make your apple picking experience instagram worthy and a memorable fall activity.

Tips:

  1. Plan ahead. Traffic can get pretty intense. Come early in the morning or late in the afternoon for ideal crowd control that 10am time slot is the most coveted which makes the traffic and the orchard insane.
  2. Bring CASH money! Most farms have tons for the kids to do. Hay rides, corn maze, pumpkin toss and of course provisions for the adults – beer, hard cider, and wine is usually served too. There are farm stands with pies, local honey and donuts. So come prepared with some cash!
  3. If you can swing it, go on a weekday. The weekends at most farms within an hour driving distance from NYC can get crazy with lines for everything from hayrides, beer, cider, donuts and even the orchards are overcrowded. Many times the farms will run out of food and booze after you have spent 30 mins in line.
  4. Wear comfy shoes…I know you are all about that instagram feed… but heels in an orchard are just silly. Get your Hunter boots on, some skinny jeans, a cute plaid top, fall hat and done! Comfy and cute.
  5. Call the farm before you to go to see what the apple situation is. Last season there was a shortage and by mid October there was nothing left.
  6. If you know your apples, call the farm to see which varieties are growing right now. To me, an apple is an apple so as long as they are on a tree and tasty, we are good.
  7. Most of these farms have ‘harvest festivals’. Call or swing by their websites to get the info. Most, if not all of these, are run by local families so calling is always better than website info.

Best Apple Picking In New York

Our Favorite Apple Picking Farms:

Westchester County – This is the county that sits directly above Manhattan… it’s the “other” borough. There are a few farms down county but I live in Northern Westchester and these are about a quick 10 minute drive for us.

FISHKILL FARMSFishkill Farm Road, Hopewell JCT, NY 12533 (845) 897-4377

This is our absolute favorite farm!!  We gather up some friends and head up multiple times a year for all the berry picking, apple picking and even just walks around the farm. There are animals, a farm stand and much more.

OUTHOUSE ORCHARDS 139 Hardscrabble Road, Croton Falls (914) 277-3188

This farm is about an hour north of NYC and gets really really REALLLLLY busy on the weekends. They have a ton of activities for all ages with long lines for everything. It’s very popular with “city folk” because of the proximity. On weekdays it’s a great. no crowds but also no activities.

HARVEST MOON FARM AND ORCHARD 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem (914) 485-1210 

Harvest Moon is down the road from Outhouse. Same vibe. Super busy with gorgeous rolling hills and amazing views of the orchards. Check their website for evening live music and firepits.

WILKENS FRUIT AND FIR FARM1335 White Hill Road, Yorktown Heights (914) 245-5111 

This is a smaller farm but also popular with the NYC crowd. There is always lots to do with a farm stand for lots of yummy fall treats.

Apple Picking in N

Take a Drive! 

While the places I mentioned earlier in this post are about an hour’s drive north of Manhattan. I HIGHLY recommend going even further up past Westchester County. This gives you a serious dose of the gorgeous scenery that the Hudson Valley holds and the crowds are not nearly as nutty as the farms closer to the city. These two are our faves and if you go on a Saturday, often times there are local craft fairs and antique markets.

KELDER’S FARM5755 Rt 209 Kerhonkson, NY 12446 (845) 626-7137

There is a giant gnome that’s kinda silly fun and there is SOOO much to do for the kids. Goats, ducks, candied apples… and more.

BARTON ORCHARDS63 Apple Tree Ln Poughquag, NY 12570

Another favorite. Gorgeous drive, lots to do and when the leaves are turning it is spectacular. Check their schedule for the Hot Air Balloon fest!

Our family loves to go toward HUDSON, NY and explore some of the smaller farms there. Take a drive up to Red Hook and Rhinebeck and stop at any of the farms along the way.

Happy Fall Y’all!!

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Lucky and Me – Giveaway

Lucky and Me GiveawayI am pretty particular about the fabrics the kids wear. These fabrics are touching their skin, their stinky-sweaty bodies and I just worry about how this is effecting their pores, skin, and overall health. We switched to all cotton long time ago, when Lily was around 5 years old and with Thomas we continue to use mostly cotton clothing. This is especially important when it comes to bedtime wear  and underwear.

Lucky and Me - Giveaway

I’m working with Lucky and Me to give away a fab $75 shopping spree to one lucky reader. We recently discovered Lucky and Me and absolutely love it. All products are made from a super soft organic cotton or cotton blend. We have the cotton tees, briefs and boxers and really love the quality. They only get softer when washed! Lucky and Me has both girls and boys underwear in all styles and colors.

Are you ready for a shopping spree?? Let’s do it.

To enter to win – You must follow the rafflecopter link to enter. Contest ends at 12AM on Saturday 9/16.

Leave only ONE comment on this blog post AND swing by my FB page – New York Mom. 

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. We really do love cotton underwear!! and looove this new brand we discovered. Thanks for stopping by and hearing about the brands who sponsor The New York Mom. 

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Party of Five!

We’re having a baby! Our little family is growing and we are all over the moon.

Matt and I told the kids when we were in Florida, right before we started telling our parents and siblings. Of course Thomas and Lily are really excited and have already started dreaming up ways to ensure that THEY will be the favorite of the new addition.

Thomas is determined to name the baby – BuzzLightyear. So that’s on the table.

I’m at exactly 15 weeks today and my body is feeling like a wreck. My first trimester was pretty brutal with nausea and exhaustion and just overall BLEH! These last few weeks have been a little rough as well. I’ve been getting migraines. Something I never had with Thomas’ pregnancy and my restless legs have already begun, again something that didn’t start until the third trimester with Thomas.

The kids think it’s pretty funny that I can sit down on the couch and be asleep in five minutes. A deep exhausted sleep. not funny! Matt has been traveling and my daily mission is to stay busy and out of the house so I don;t crash and sleep every second I get! Good news is that this forces me to be in bed by 9:30pm every night. My usual bedtime is midnight or 1am. So I’ve been enjoying waking up early with the birds, and having lots of sleep…but nothing is getting done around here.

Overall we are really excited. We have so much work to do in this house and are hoping to tackle a bunch of it before this baby arrives… probably not going to happen! But we will try.

Here is how we made our big online announcement. Cuties! All of us!

Yaay!Ba-baaay!

 

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Father’s Day

 

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing papa’s out there. The kids and I are so blessed… incredibly blessed to have Matt be the papa bear in this big den. His patience, kindness, love, humor, cooking and sense of adventure are always inspiring all of us to be better and do more while also making us feel absolutely comfortable in our flaws.

We started with coffee in bed.. breakfast was a whole ordeal that could not be had in bed.  The kids had picked out a handful of personal gifts and cards for Matt and even Jonah came over with sweet kisses.

Our plans were to head to Manhattan for a walk in the park and grab some grub. So we decided to go to church in NYC to hear one of Matt’s colleagues preach. After that we walked the two blocks over to Central Park to walk through the Central Park Zoo.

It ended up being a really hot day in New York and the kids were too hot and exhausted for more park time. The original plan included a day with the boats and a picnic but the heat was too much!

So we headed downtown to Curry Hill for some Indian Food. More on this later, because I am pretty sure I found the MOST AMAZINg indian food in curry hill!

The kids take after their dad. They both have Matt’s relaxed, thoughtful nature. They both have an interest in cooking and crafting decadent meals. Lily loves creating cheese platters and baking. And I am just happy that i get to enjoy all the home cooked feasts!

We love this sweet little life of ours. While today was certainly a day that celebrated Dad’s we are thankful for Matt every single day.

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OMG the Hot Moms at the Town Pool!

The New York Mom

Summer is nearly here and there is nothing more terrifying than the town pool. Our town pool opens in exactly 5 days!!! and I have not done one single thing to get this body prepped for what awaits me at the pool every. single. day.

Hot moms!

Hot Nanny’s!

Hot AuPairs!

Pool season with preschoolers is not fun! Last year, thank the heavens, I did not have to wear my swimsuit once at the pool. Thomas was too young to go to the big pool and had no interest, so I just wore cute pool side cover ups and sat in the shade in the kiddie pool. Chillin! But this year! I have to “park’ my gear at the kiddie pool and then take him across the lawn to the big pool because he wants to swim in the big pool this year.

And here is where my problem lies.

The walk from the kiddie pool, past the gate that confines the kiddies in the kiddie pool, across the lawn – past the hot moms, nannies, aupairs… is the worst walk!

My only goal is to jump into the big pool as fast as I can without making a scene and then usher Thomas into the pool into my arms with my un-summer body safely under water! Great plan right?

Wrong. inevitably, I will run into a neighbor hot mom who wants to stand in the open air and chat about whatever she wants to chat about without even thinking for one second that I might be having an internal freak out right now standing practically naked in front of the entire town.

Thankfully Thomas will pry me away and I’ll be safe in the pool.  This is going to last 5 minutes because the water in the town pool is cold and he doesn’t like it and I am soaking wet and cold but now have to drag my soaked body out of the pool to walk back to the kiddie pool.

… past the hot moms, hot nannies, and hot aupairs.

That’s it. That’s all I have for you today. OMG the Hot Moms at the town pool!!

 

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Protect Like a Mother -Weekend Art Exhibit with Lysol

 

Protect Like A Mother

Something happens to us humans when we become parents. There is a fierce protective Instinct that triggers anytime we sense something amiss. There have been many times that I have found a surge of energy, strength and anger that races through my body in order to save my child from harm. That instinct kicks in and you step it up to PROTECT LIKE A MOTHER!

Protect Like A Mother

Protect Like A Mother

The protective instinct is a universal truth of motherhood – in the animal kingdom and in our own. Different species demonstrate amazing feats to protect their young…including human mothers.

Protect Like A Mother

Lysol, the cleaning brand, has an amazing exhibit in Brooklyn today and tomorrow ONLY, that is all about this very theme. It’s called PROTECT LIKE A MOTHER and it’s a stunning visual installation under the Brooklyn Bridge that shows images and sculptures of mama animals caring for their young.

Protect Like A MotherI’m working with Lysol to celebrate a mother’s natural protective instinct, honoring that a mother’s first priority is always the safety of her children – whether she is a bear, a monkey, or a person!

An important way that human moms protect their families is by preventing the spread of harmful germs in the home. With two dragons and a giant beast, our home is all too familiar to germs. Now the weather is warm, the kids are always in and out of the house, snacking with their unwashed hands. With the weather being so crazy here in New York, lately, we have had our fair shares of coughs, colds, ear infections and other sickies! Our LYSOL products have been working overtime for sure!

No one protects loved ones quite like mom and no one protects families like Lysol, a leader in germ kill for 100+ years, which offers products that kill 99.9% of germs to help moms protect their kids from passing germs and getting sick. 


I hope you swing by Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, for a special Lysol exhibit celebrating the greatest guardians of all: mothers. The exhibit will give a look at the most incredible and fierce moms on the planet! The exhibit is open Saturday, May 20 and Sunday May 21. For more information visit  Lysol.com/ProtectLikeaMother.

This post is sponsored by Lysol. All images and ideas are my own. Thanks for stopping by and learning a bit about our sponsors here at New York Mom! 

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