Category Archives: Family

Parenting, Living, Family.

Mom Stuff & the Holidaze

So fun all this Christmasing and shopping, and wrapping…and still having laundry to fold. Sigh. The nerve. My kids are on chore duty for sure this last week of work and school, as I ramp up to crazy-town, with all the shopping, baking, cleaning, putting stuff away… but this is the good news. They are learning that with celebration comes the preparation. The ready-making.  The tidying up. And then finally the cleaning up. It is all good for them. Good for all of us, though if you are listening, dear Santa, I wish I had bigger closets to shove things into!

I actually love every living bit of this, as I know we all do, and we all feel the crazy. My ceiling is intact this year [you can read about that in this older post], and my kids (knock wood) don’t have any major germs or bugs that will infest us…yet. So bring on the fun, my friends! The visits, the wine, the music, the laughter, the fun food, and presents to share! Bring it on, my lovely family, as I am so ready to celebrate and share some quality time with you all!

Here’s what I have been up to all weekend:

Baking:

Gingerbread Cut-Outs

Hello Dolly’s

Cherry Bonbons (from Averie Cooks)

Sugar Roll-ups (from Salt Tree)

Reading:

Absolutely nothing. Who has time to read?! Are you kidding me?! But I do have my 2016 Book Riot Challenge sort of finished! The only book I didn’t read was a non-fiction book about science, unless you consider “library science,” which is not even close to a science. It’s more a theory and practical trade. Anyhoo…I read a lot of weird stuff this year because of this challenge (italics are the category it fit into on the list):

  • Amityville Horror was the horror book that I chose that also was a book first published in the decade I was born. It’s about poltergeists and exorcism started a crazy fun conversation with my in-laws about a story they just read in Vanity Fair about a priest who solely does exorcisms. Different point of view of life entirely. Super interesting
  • Relish, by Lucy Knisley as a food memoir, but also is a graphic novel was so nice to read as though I was 10 again. Comic book style memoir is sort of interesting as a concept, but I liked reading it quickly but in chunks.

  • Wild Seed
    , by Octavia Butler is a classic, and also the first book in a series by a person of color, and science fiction, with gender-identity issues. So weird, but in an unexpectedly good way.
  • Zealot, by Reza Azlan was so interesting, like in the way, college was interesting. It opened up a scholarly point of view on the Bible and Jesus as a man, not as a Christ. I learned a ton. He is a very  interesting author, and I was very happy to have picked this one up. It fit into a book about religion. Duh. Of course it did.

Those aren’t super weird, but I like the Book Riot Challenge, because it’s like choosing books that you wouldn’t choose for yourself. Sometimes those are the best…what you need isn’t always what you choose. And then, some things I read off list have been awesome too, so I like to follow a list and then also just read to read, so it doesn’t feel like a job! (said the librarian-me!)

The new Book Riot, Read Harder 2017 Challenge is up…and it is weird too! I love it. I am definitely going to be reading outside of my comfort zone this year- as long as I am reading!

Watching:

New England Patriots by theglobalpanorama, on Flickr
"New England Patriots" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by theglobalpanorama

The Patriots/Broncos…but really just eating dinner and folding laundry, WHILE watching the game… I am queen this week, of this well known, crazy-making-mom-phenomenon, some call multi-tasking…like that makes it okay. It’s not. I should just sit down.

The new season of Ray Donovan. I binge watch, so I am doing this one first. Then the Affair, then Billions, then…

And as I type, my husband is reminding me to get teacher gifts this week….gift cards my friends. Never candles or mugs. Just saying. That’s what my teacher friends tell me- “Get gift cards.” So I listen. No more playtime, mom has to get crackin’!

Have a great and wonderful Monday, and stay crazy. But calm. xo

One Mom’s Guide to Visiting Santa’s Village: A New Hampshire Gem

One Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: A New Hampshire Gem! | Hardly A Goddess

So many of us are in full Holiday-mode, and gearing up for a memorable Christmas season. Well, this year, I was lucky enough to receive tickets to Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH in exchange for an honest review, and I was more that eager to share this great place with you all!

While Santa’s Village is open May-December, we always go in November, right after Thanksgiving. It is sort of our way to get ready for the holiday and enjoy the beautiful lights, and spirit of fun of the season. I have to say, I would LOVE to go in the summer though, as they have a whole section of summer-fun water slides that we never get to try! But for today, I will share my very wintry experience with you!

So before you go, I thought I could tell you some tips and more about the park, that might help make your visit extra great and easy too!

What to bring:

  • If you go in the winter, wear snow pants. The rides can be wet, and also cold, so prepare yourself and the kids by bringing snow-gear: hats, gloves, boots, snowpants, and maybe hand-warmers!
  • If you go in summer, don’t forget to pack: towel, flip-flops, sunscreen, bathing suits with a plastic bag to carry the wet suit in after, and hats.
  • Bring a little backpack. Items that you make, buy, or to hold gloves can go in here without worry about where you left them!

Once you arrive:

  • Go to the bathrooms 1st. With all the snow gear on, it is easier to just get it done now! But they do have very clean, spacious (great changing areas for babies) restrooms throughout the park!
  • Then go to Elf University 2nd. Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NHThe kids will get their Elfabet Game Cards, to use throughout the park. They wear it around their neck and then as you make your way through the park, there are Elves with names from A-Z like this: So then, the kids do a punch-card poke of the card until all the letters (elves) are found. When you are done, return to the University for an Elf Diploma and prize! Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NHThis is the best, most fun ever, and my kids love it- plus it motivates them to work their way around the park to the next elf. Genius.
  • If you need a Santa visit,  you may want to assess the line for that right after you visit the Elf University.
  • If you already saw Santa, or will see him somewhere else, then you can go left, or right once you enter the park. They give a map upon entry, and the total space of the park is small enough to cover close to all of the features in one day. Enjoy!

Special Tips

  • We stay an hour away, so we arrive at the opening time and usually stay until they close! You can do almost everything they offer, though you need to make sure to leave wait-time for 3 things: Santa’s Home visit, the YouTubing, and the Skyway Sleigh. While the lines are longer for these, they mostly move quickly and we’ve never waited too long. The park is small enough, that lines move along, which I love! On their website, they have dates that are less busy than the weekend of Thanksgiving, so you can plan your visit for when lines will be very short!

    Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

    Of course the boys had to race each other!

  • For extra value, if you buy a ticket during the final 3 hours of the day, you can get in for those 3 hours and also, the next day on the same ticket. I have never done this, and I think it would be great if you stayed at a place super close by. There are just a few motel-type places nearby that we’ve never tried, but if you check around, I am sure you could get reviews.

Eating:

We always eat there at either Nick’s Pizza Emporium or Dasher’s Delights, but unlike other parks, you can bring your own food in and eat! Such a bonus, right?! This is just so refreshing to go to an amusement area, where everything is priced very reasonably and you never get the sense that you are shelling out money all the time. Some parks are the exact opposite. My kids love the midway-type games at most parks and those games can bleed you dry! At Santa’s Village, the midway-games cost a dollar! Food is so inexpensive compared to other places we’ve been. In fact, they offer FREE strollers, and FREE parking, and a FREE pet-sitting area. Souveniers and gifts are available and also are very reasonably priced. I just love this.

What we did:

Everything! The park is small enough that you can do everything! I love that the rides are geared for little people, so nothing is too scary. The height requirements vary, but most are 42″ to ride alone, or under if with a parent.

An easy ride for little kids and tired parents is the Jinglebell Junction railroad which is adorable and a way to see the entire park:

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Making Gingerbread Men:

My boys loved decorating gingerbread men at the Sugar ‘n Spice Bake Shop, when it was time to get a little snack. My girls went to have cocoa and my husband, the homemade donuts (yum!) at the Doe-Nut Factory.

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Driving their own cars!

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Making Rings (Free!)

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

And visiting Santa’s Reindeer! And you can feed them too! It was fun to remember their names on the car ride up…actually we had to Google it! And then proceed to sing the Rudolph song for the next hour…memories… and Advil! Can you remember all the names in the song?

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Well, we didn’t do everything– we didn’t make our own gifts at the workshop, nor did we see the shows this year at the Jingle Jamboree or Polar Theater, but we have in the past, and to be honest, those are not to be missed when you need to get warmed up and the kids need a break.

When dusk comes, I love the lights and there were plenty of places to get some great family-fun shots that might be contenders for the Holiday card this year! This one is just okay- as my phone camera given to a stranger, only works so well. But you get the idea of how pretty it is at night and magical when the park is really at it’s best with the snow and colors!

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

I asked my kids what they like the most about Santa’s Village:

“The Rapid Rudy Transit Coaster, the Sleigh Ride, and driving the Antique cars (by themselves!).” And my kids are 6, 10 and 11 years old. We have gone the past 3 years, and they still love it!

I asked my husband what he likes the most about Santa’s Village:

“Just the overall atmosphere.”

Yes. A man of few words here, but the atmosphere really is the best part about Santa’s Village. As you can see, it is themed out in every conceivable way, and my kids just love it. We love it. It is holiday-awesomeness all year around! I hope you consider making a trip if you are anywhere near New Hampshire. From Boston it is about a 2-hour drive. There is so much to do in the surrounding area for families, you can totally make it a trip for a weekend! It is truly a trip that your kids will treasure for years to come~

If you want to know more about Santa’s Village check them out here:

Web (awesome website!): http://www.santasvillage.com/
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*While I was not financially compensated for this post, I received ticket compensation for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own as always, and based on my personal experience.For more information see my full disclosures page.

H.A.G.’s Best Stocking Stuffers for Little Kids

Here are some great smaller gifts that I think my kids and probably yours…would love this season. They are big enough to stuff the stocking, and small enough that they don’t always work as big-presents. I love these, and I will tell you why! I am providing buying options for your convenience, and some- not all- may be affiliate links, where I make a small percentage as commission. It does not affect your price at all. Let’s shop!

Best gifts for stockings stuffers for little kids

Hidden Pictures Discovery
(Amazon)

I love these hidden pictures books, and also lots of activiites from this publisher. When I am making dinner, the kids will sit occupied for quite a while, competing to see who can find all the items on a page the fastest. We usually use up 2 pages per kid at a sitting, so I buy more than one of these with different themes. This “Around the World” theme is just one of many. It is great to keep the kids busy at restaurants too (wink, wink), so a great thing to stash in your purse! More of a present for mom, but fun anyway!

Uno Card Game
Amazon

I love UNO, but inevitably, we lose cards. A once a year re-stock is always a great idea. I also like regular playing cards, or other small-boxed card games. When these are on sale I stock up- I use these all the time as add-ons for presents throughout the year. Small and fun. Perfect for a stocking.

ty® beanie boos™
Five Below

Boys or girls, like these little cute stuffed animals. You can find them almost anywhere, but the Five Below is great- because it’s $5 and below. If you you don’t have one nearby, you can go to Justice or Target or anywhere they sell Toys probably! The smaller the better for the stocking, so your choices are many!

Play-Doh
Toys-R-Us

Easy. These sink and fit right into the bottom of the toe, and they are heavy, so they make the stocking feel like a million bucks! Plus, we always need new playdoh, so this is a toy that we’ll use and need!

Kids Toothbrushes
Dollar Tree

I never buy toothbrushes anywhere else. Not only do they have the name brands, but of course, you can get these at the DollarTree for $1- whootwhoot! Love the Dollar Tree come stocking time! Tons of fun little add ons too: nail polish, gum packs, lifesavers, bath fizzes, chapsticks, socks, match box, and other little things that you can sneak in there.

We have always had a hard time with the Stockings part of Christmas, since they seem to get overlooked. Recently we changed our tradition to letting the kids open their stockings first. That way we can get coffee before any of the opening of presents starts! Details. How do you deal with stockings? Do you even have them? I would love to know! Share great ideas that have worked for you in the comments below! In the meantime, Happy Shopping!


I can’t wait to offer products like these that I know you will love! This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.