The Anatomy of A Thank You

A hot topic recently in my local Mommy2mommy group was thank yous and specifically thank you cards. As a parent of two kids I am constantly receiving help from the community around us. I am not one to ask for help because of my stubborn and determined personality. I like to do things myself, make mistakes, and grow better knowing I worked hard to get there. But when you have kids you just can't do everything yourself. I get so much help from my wonderful hubby but also from our immediate family and friends. If I didn't have them I don't know where I would be. One thing that is important to me is showing my gratefulness for their help. I am not perfect, I forget sometimes. A few weeks ago we found a stack of thank you notes from my daughter's birth (she is 8 months now) that were filled out, stamped and NOT sent. :(  It's embarrassing and I feel terrible! 

I recently saw a mom complaining that her mother in law doesn't buy the right gifts for her kids- wrong size clothes, wrong style, not age appropriate, pointless toys, etc. She was asking for advice and the point is... it's a gift! You say thank you for a gift. Yes, it's a shame when gifts go to waste because they aren't fit your child but no reason to get upset and/or ruin a relationship. Yes, it's a shame when you would rather have a college savings for your child than another toy to add to the 893,267 s/he already has but a thank you is still in order. The gift is usually given for the joy of the giver which is why they spent their hard earned money on it... so just say thank you!

Last Christmas I witnessed the most heartbreaking thing scene. My aunt had prepared a gift for her granddaughter. Some pajamas, a toy, and a few other small items. Just a small Christmas gift since that is all she could afford. I watched as she gave the gift to her granddaughter who quickly rejected it as "stupid" and not something she wanted. She continued to complain, call it dumb and then walk away telling her mother about it (who just agreed and told her "I know... oh well"). My aunt was heart broken! And it was sad to see how ungratefulness can really ruin someone's day.

But enough with all that drama... here's my take on the Anatomy of A Thank You. I will share the who, what, when, how, and why as well as some tips and tricks that are fun and helpful!

Who: YOU (and/or your kids) thank every person who GIVES a gift, SENDS money, and/or HELPS in a crunch.

What: A thank you note including these four items... 
  1. their name or term of endearment; 
  2. your excitement and love for their thoughtfulness; 
  3. how you intend to use it- FOR A GIFT: I can't wait to put together the train set and play each day, FOR MONEY: Your donation to our diaper fund will help us when baby arrives next month, and FOR HELP: The meal you made for our family after baby was born gave us extra snuggle time that we are so grateful for; 
  4. your personal signature
When: Within 1 week! This one is important... timeliness is key. Honestly, I put it in my calendar as a reminder after events/holidays. Day after Christmas, day after birthday parties, etc. Having a baby is an exception and a little different. We should give new moms a free pass because there is so much going on but I did still try to get as many thank yous out as possible. One tip is to throw a pack of thank you cards in your hospital bag, write a note immediately after a guest who brings a gift leaves from a visit. Plus, you can use them for your favorite (or all) nurses.

How: Thank you cards can be really inexpensive! I stock up on thank you cards when I see a pack for $.50-$1.00. It doesn't have to be a bank breaking process but at the same time just keep in mind the time and money that the person you are thanking put in for you. Here are four tips to make it fun and easy:
  1. Keep a sheet of forever stamps at your house, when you know an event or holiday is coming up put it on your list to get when you're out running errands next. Some ATMs also offer sheets for a small fee if you don't want to run into the post office.
  2. Buy a fun return address stamp from Noteworthy (I found a Groupon for $18).
  3. If you have children print or buy a pack of address labels specifically for them and you can even have some fun with it by putting titles that they will love (Princess, Master, King, Queen, Miss, etc)! This tip came from another mom in the group... I am going to use it! :)
  4. Include a picture of it in your home, using it, or wearing it.... this is especially true if you have little ones. We have also included personalized artwork in thank you notes before. 
Why: You may not think a simple thank you note makes a difference but it truly does. The first year my husband received a birthday card from my grandma he was so surprised he sent a thank you note (on his own... I know... he really is great) and my grandma still, to this day, talks about how she loved getting the note and hearing from him. In addition to making someone's day by letting them know how grateful I am there is a nice feeling of warmth I get too. A great way to inspire gratefulness in your children is to teach them to give. When they give they will see the happiness that comes from their gifts, they will give more and their own gratefulness will continue to grow!

I make it a habit even more so now because being a parent, I am a role model. I am the one who teaches them to be grateful, to NOT be entitled, to understand the Anatomy of a Thank You. 

If you never thanked someone would they help you next time you're in need? Would they stop giving? What kind of world would this be? 



7 DIY Halloween Decorations

I am not a holiday decorator except for Christmas but with Mason growing up I now feel excited to do it! I keep searching for inspiration to decorate the house for Halloween because I don't mind decorating with Mason but it has to be cheap and things I can find around the house. So here's our list for Halloween decorations this year with pictures! All DIY, all inexpensive, and all fun with my 2 year old! :)

Frankenstein Door

  • Black and White Construction paper
  • Tape

Time: 10 minutes

Toilet Paper Roll Bats

  • Empty Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Black Marker
  • Black Paper
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Yarn

Time: 10 minutes

Bats on the Wall

  • Black Cardstock... cut two different size bats and use as a guide to trace more
  • Tape

Time: 10 minutes

Yarn Web

  • Black, Gray, or White Yarn
  • Tape or pins to anchor

Time: 20 minutes

Painted Pumpkins/Gords

  • Pumpkins/Gords (I got a huge bag of gords and mini pumpkins for $5 at the Farmer's Market)
  • Paint... I used gold acrylic

Time: 10 minutes

Bushes/Mirrors with Eyes

  • Styrofoam Ball cut in half
  • Black Paper (or black paint)

Time: 5 minutes

Button Faces on Pumpkins

  • Buttons
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Pumpkin

Time: 10 minutes

Hopefully this list has inspired you and goven you ideas to decorate with items you already have. Come back again for more DIY holiday decorating ideas!

What DIY Halloween decorating ideas do you have? Share them with me so I can use them in the future. ;)



2014 Fall Bucket List

So remember that time when you had a great idea of something fun to do? Or that thing you always thought about doing but somehow it ends up getting lost in the shuffle? Well... you're not alone! It happens to me ALLLL the time. I have tons of great ideas and then life busyness gets in the way. About a month ago I sat there running through a list of things I wanted to do this fall before it's too late. I decided I would write it down. I named the list my "2014 Fall Bucket List". It's sad that I have to make a list of fun things to do so that I don't miss out or forget them but I would rather make the list and do it then not. Maybe I will break this habit of "missing out" and finally do everything I ever wanted to do just out of habit.

Here's my 2014 Fall Bucket List:
1. Dress up for Halloween
2. Drink mulled wine
3. Walk to the park
4. Carve pumpkins
5. Pick apples
6. Go on a hike
7. Roast pumpkin seeds
8. Make s'mores
9. Run the turkey trot - Planned for Thanksgiving Day!
10. Go to the zoo
11. Drink beer @ Oktoberfest
12. Go trick or treating
13. Run thru a corn maze
14. Pumpkin Pancakes and hot chocolate for breakfast
15. Jump in a pile of leaves
16. Saturday Farmer's Market
17. Bake apple pie
18. Knit a scarf
19. Homemade applesauce
20. Chili

I put the list on a piece of cardstock and have it in the kitchen as a daily reminder of the things I want to accomplish from September to November. After I made my list I was so excited that I started putting all of these in my calendar. I called and texted friends to make plans to do everything on my list. I can't believe how effective this has really become! I cross items off as I do them too.... because who doesn't love crossing things off their list?! :)

Update: I will continue to update this post (to serve as more accountability for me to finish my bucket list) and cross items off here to see my progress to date!

Have you have made a "mini" bucket list like this? Has this inspired you to make your own? Have you had success doing something similar? I would love to hear about it!



Garden Herbal Lemonade

As we are submerging ourselves in all things fall I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye to summer with a lemonade recipe that everyone will love. It's one of my favorite drinks and goes with just about any menu. I love how pretty it looks in a drink dispenser at parties too.

There are a lot of options here so I have the recipe and some extra tips/tricks. 

Garden Herbal Lemonade:
2 quarts to 1 gallon Lemonade (homemade, store bought, powder, etc) 
3 sprigs of mint leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
3-4 basil leaves

Add mint leaves, sprigs of rosemary, and basil leaves to the lemonade and stir. Let chill for at least an hour. Easy peasy!

This lemonade stays for about 24 hours. If you drink all the lemonade no worries... add more and the herbs will get to work with the new batch of lemonade. If you won't finish it in 24 hours then remove the herbs and discard. Keep the lemonade as is in the refrigerator and you can still enjoy all the wonderful flavors!

For parties/events store in a clear drink dispenser and your party guests will love how "fancy" your lemonade is.
Use flavored lemonade to mix it up a bit. I have used raspberry lemonade and it was delicious as well!
Add edible flowers to the mix for an even prettier display.... Wait? Flowers are edible? Which ones? I'm so glad you asked! I found a cute graphic with some good options below.

Keep this recipe handy for future bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, retirement parties, BBQs... the list is endless!

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think of it. I hope you love it as much as my family and I do!!