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Tween Boy Gift Guide

Do you have a tween boy on your holiday gift list? Buying gifts for boys can be a challenge, especially when they’re in the tween category. They are between (hence the label “tween”) childhood and the teenage years, so they are too old for childish toys but too young for grown-up gifts. Also, at this stage in their lives, they have been collecting stuff over many holidays and birthdays, so their rooms may be getting cluttered. As the mom of an 11-year-old boy, I try to select practical gifts for him that will encourage meaningful activities, learning, and creativity. I’ve Read more…

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Trader Joe’s Products for Chocolate Lovers

Trader Joe’s sells thousands of amazing products, but my favorite things to buy there are sweet treats. They have an abundance of goodies for chocolate lovers, including cookies, candies, frozen treats, and more!  I’ve rounded up a list of my favorite Trader Joe’s chocolate treats to share with you today. Way More Chocolate Chips Cookies – These crunchy, bite-sized cookies are so yummy and addictive, they’re likely to cause a snack-cident. You’ve been warned. Chocolatey Coated Chocolate Chip Dunkers – If you love to dunk cookies in milk, coffee, or hot chocolate, these are for you!   Milk Chocolate S’mashing S’mores Read more…

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Charleston Visitors Guide

Welcome to Charleston, South Carolina! Here in the lowcountry, we truly have something for everyone. In my family, we have four distinct viewpoints on what vacation should look like, but we all enjoy the Charleston area (so much that we choose to call it home). When I’m in a new city, I like to hit the streets, see the sights, and take in the culture. My oldest son likes to learn about the area’s history, while my youngest enjoys kid-friendly outdoor activities. My husband just wants directions to the nearest golf course! Below is a list of our favorite lowcountry Read more…

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The Minimalist Challenge

I participated in a minimalist challenge in September. Every month, The Minimalists invite their followers to play the 30-Day Minimalism Game. On the first day of the month, you get rid of one thing. On the second day, two things. This continues day after day, and becomes more difficult when you’re releasing 15 items, then 16, then 17…you get the idea. The goal is to remove 465 items from your home in 30 days. I’ve considered accepting this challenge in the past, but I didn’t think I could do it. “This is for hard-core minimalists,” I thought, “not someone like Read more…

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Seeing My Infertility in the Rear View Mirror

My husband, Derek, and I struggled with infertility for about two years before our first child was conceived. The journey began after we’d been married for three years, when a death in our family gave us the desire to see a new life beginning. I started seeking medical advice, knowing that I likely had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and would have difficulty conceiving. After two years of various treatments and nine months of joyful anticipation, we welcomed our son in June 2007. That season of our lives was challenging, but I’m grateful for the experience because I learned valuable lessons Read more…

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Book Review: Let it Go by Peter Walsh

Let it Go by Peter Walsh is a valuable resource for anyone who needs to downsize. Whether you are moving to a smaller home or trying to declutter your current home, Walsh offers a step-by-step plan that frames downsizing as a positive change rather than a difficult chore. He also gives helpful advice for those who are downsizing their parents’ home. You may remember Peter Walsh as the professional organizer on the TLC show, Clean Sweep. In his charming Australian accent, he challenged homeowners to empty a room onto the front lawn, separating their belongings into piles labeled KEEP, SELL, Read more…

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Adirondack Vacation: The Wild Center

Every summer, our family vacations in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. We enjoy hiking, kayaking, and exploring quiet towns nestled around cool, blue lakes that reflect the splendor of the mountains. This year, we ventured from our home base for a few day trips, including whitewater rafting, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The Wild Center is a museum with both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including their famous Wild Walk, an elevated trail among the treetops. The trail allows you to see nature from a new perspective as if you were Read more…

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My Simple Living Manifesto

What would it take to simplify our lives? This is a question I’ve been contemplating in the midst of ever-increasing demands on my time, money, and energy. My mind is forever preoccupied with my to-do list: chores, errands, appointments, calls to make, emails to answer, pictures to post. Not to mention the demands of 21st century parenting: Are the children vaccinated? How much screen time are they getting? Do they play outside every day? They must be supervised at all times. Their cups have to be BPA-free! Don’t let the Epi-Pens expire! And make sure the birthday cake is gluten-free!!! Read more…

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A Family Weekend in Boston

I was thrilled to visit Boston with my family this summer because this city has it all – incredible sights, friendly people, and delicious food. We focused our itinerary on Boston’s North End and the surrounding historic sites, because my 6th-grader is a huge history buff, and I never wanted to be more than a few blocks from an Italian bakery. Priorities, right? On our way into the city on Thursday afternoon, we stopped for a quick tour of Fenway Park. We didn’t have time to see a game on this trip, but if we could go back for one, Read more…

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War Stories from my Uncle Louie

On December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked Pearl Harbor, sinking five battleships, destroying 188 aircraft, and killing 2355 U.S. servicemen. Four days later, the United States declared war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. My Uncle Louie was 20 years old at the time, living in Springfield, MA, and working at the Bosch plant there. He was engaged to his sweetheart, Betty, and they were planning a summer wedding. Louie Gentile married Betty in July 1942, and soon received his draft notice. No one in the family was particularly concerned about Louie being drafted. He was blind in his right Read more…