10 Blissful Alternatives to the Black Friday Epidemic

Black Friday is almost upon us, and in less than a week it seems that most of America will be taking advantage of all the great discounts that will be offered by all of your favorite Big Brand stores. It seems that this day has almost become a holiday in and of itself with thousands and thousands of people across the states participating by lining up all night and day outside of these mega-stores to make their discounted purchases on those oh-so-special items they have been coveting all year.

Yes, I agree that Black Friday is a good day to get your holiday shop on, since most of us have the day off anyway. But I would like to venture off the beaten path and suggest another alternative to this shopping epidemic. Now brace yourselves, my friends, I may seem a little controversial and anti-“the American dream” with this idea. Shopping Local, Shopping Small.

What is this crazy woman talking about, you may be thinking to yourself? Good question! I mean, instead of going to the mall or mega/superstores on Friday, and circling the parking lot like a vulture looking for a parking space, fighting that little old lady for the last shopping cart, stockpiling your cart with gift cards, CD’s, WII games, Blue Ray movies, and festive socks from the dollar bin, then standing in line for over an hour to make your “special” purchases, which will then be wrapped in pretty paper and put under your decked out and twinkling tree until Christmas morning; I suggest that you take Friday to kick back, sleep in, enjoy another leftover turkey sandwich, watch a great movie with your family or friends and then take part in the “Shop Small Movement“. This means you go out on Saturday instead to find a great local boutique, or you can patronize a friends Etsy store. Even look for local Holiday Craft Fairs in your area (I am sure there are a ton going on right now!) as an alternative to your prior shopping endeavors. Not only will you find some AMAZING, one-of-a-kind gifts that will probably become a special family heirloom, I’m positive you will reduce your holiday shopping stress levels as well.

Just think about it; if you are advocating a push toward keeping your money localized in your own area by shopping locally (think about all of those sweet mom & pop shops or those cool urban-chic boutiques you’ve wanted to venture into but never had the time or energy), it will put “revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community”.  That means better parks for family pick-nicks and outings, more money for after school programs, more local jobs, and you’d be advocating a movement toward environmental sustainability, i.e.- more walkable shopping centers in your area, and less driving around looking for parking places!

With all of that being said, I have found some amazing small businesses, crafters, artisans, designers, and Etsians that have something for everyone on your list! Check them out and give your loved ones an incredibly unique and unexpected gift this Christmas! Each one of these small business entrepreneurs offers some amazing products and services that you really shouldn’t pass up on! They are all TOTALLY worth the splurge! Read on!

FOR EVERYONE

Amazing candles with delicious scents for each season that last and last! These candles keep their scent, and don’t dwindle as the candle runs low. One of the best thing about these soy candles is that if you happen to get the melted wax on your skin, it won’t burn! You can actually rub it on your hands like a moisturizer! Then you smell like your yummy candle- BONUS!

Absolutely gorgeous handcrafted jewelry created with all natural stones from around the world. This jewelry artisan makes necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. With sets like “Vibrant & Fun”, “Day & Night”, “Deep & Cool”, “Earth & Sky”, and “Warmth” you are sure to find something that you will love. They do custom orders as well, and offer gifts for just about every price point.

For your mind, body & soul. Merci’s yoga class is amazingly refreshing and you leave feeling strong and empowered as well as peaceful. She even offers your first class as a freebie to see if you enjoy it, and if you do, her classes are very reasonably priced. I highly recommend purchasing this for your loved ones! They will thank you for it!

FOR THE KIDDOS

Each of these simply sweet hand crafted Puppet Theaters are great for kids of all ages! These theaters fit in just about any doorway, and can be easily moved. No doubt that playing with these will promote creative and imaginative play. Just be ready for loads of giggles and hours of fun!

Absolutely some of the most charming and completely handmade Rag Dolls on the market! Perfect for your petite little one, but these dolls have charmed adults as well. Each doll has been inspired by popular literature, and is completely one of a kind! Don’t forget to check back at this site often- you never know when a flash sale may pop up!

If you are thinking about and value your child’s educational future, consider My March Consulting. They offer daunted parents a variety of sessions to choose from and educational packages with loads of information. What can be a better gift than to help pave your child’s collegiate future? Check it out!

FOR THE FASHIONISTA

It is possible that the best gift you can give is the gift of organization and clarity. Instead of filling up your loved ones closet with clothes they may never wear, offer them the alternative. A closet and personal style revamp! What could be a better gift than that? Take advantage of Jenny’s fashion expertise and organizational skills with a Snappy Package tailored to fit your personal style needs!

If you are looking for someone to give you GREAT hair, Jessica is the woman to see! Her salon is adorable, and she offers new and exciting full service hair salon in the Hidden Valley Lake/Middletown area. Go see her to experience the ultimate in hair treatments! A perfect treat for that over worked momma in your life!

FOR THE UNIQUE COLLECTOR

Quirky and sweet shabby-chic jewelry, mixed media art, and gifts that incorporate a little bit of vintage into their unique hand made products! These gifts are perfect for those on your shopping list with an eclectic taste palate.

While this website is not a physical business, this website is great for lovers of all things Star Wars. Star Wars Wife is a website and community that chronicles what  life is like being married to one of the biggest Star Wars fans out there! They also  host FREE giveaways of fabulous Star Wars products often! Yay for FREE giveaways!

Are there great local businesses in your area that you can shop at? Take an opportunity this Friday or Saturday to go and check them out! I bet you will be glad you did!

(For more reasons to shop local visit ilsr.org-as if you really need them).

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Setting Limits

Oh boy… I am about to delve on to a touchy subject, especially when it comes to children.

The Television… dum, dum, DUM!

I used to be the type of mom who cringed when my son even got a glimpse of anything that was on TV. I wanted to shield his eyes and protect his brain from becoming all mush and no substance. For most of his first year I vehemently opposed any viewing time for him. I was horrified when we came home from a special movie date, and the babysitter had put on a Veggie Tales movie, and told us that he loved it. (The irony- I know!) I wanted him to be the type of kid who gobbled up books by the boat load, got lost in the characters and stories, all while using his imagination to entertain his days. I wanted him to be more interested in going outside and exploring the world, rather than sitting on his butt all day staring blankly at the colorful pictures that flashed before his eyes. I tried to fool myself into thinking that he will never watch TV, and if he was ever subject to that “activity”, he would find it incredibly boring. I even remember a conversation I had with a friend about how I didn’t want him to watch TV early on, because it would hinder his cognitive growth, and I felt that he had the rest of his life to discover it. I enjoyed how good it felt when my friend praised me for my decision to essentially “ban” TV from my home. We had even gotten rid of cable, and only used the internet (i.e. Netflix) for our viewing entertainment. Who am I kidding? We love to watch TV. Well, mostly movies, and a little bit of HGTV when the mood hits. I would sometimes even watch episodes of 30 Rock and Desperate Housewives while I nursed him so I wouldn’t get bored. To quote Homer (as in the Simpsons, not the Grecian) “I grew up watching TV, and I turned out TV.” I always think of that quote when discussing whether TV is good or bad. Sometimes I feel that quote holds true for most of our society, like they don’t really hear what they are saying because they have become so distracted with being entertained by the TV. That is my biggest fear for my child when it comes to television.

One of the very first dates my husband and I went on was to the movies. I think that is now the typical “first date”. It’s a safe place to go in public just in case your date is a flop, but it’s also sort of intimate when the lights go down. Then you have something else to talk about just in case your “conversation ammunition” runs low. Watching movies with friends is a great way to bond, and is also a fun family activity to do. If it is something that you don’t do all day (unless you are sick), it becomes something special that your whole family can enjoy. Yes, movies and TV are great, especially when used in moderation.

So to answer your burning question, yes I allow my son to now watch TV and movies, but in moderation. How did that happen you ask? I think that it started when I was so exhausted trying to entertain him myself ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, that I finally just gave in. I allowed him (and still allow) very limited amounts of TV during the day. Shows like Pocoyo, Baby First, and Curious George have short 7-10 min episodes, so it was able to keep his attention and I didn’t feel too guilty about taking a small respite for myself. Prepping dinner became a joyful event again, rather than my desperate attempt at keeping a smile on his face while I practically threw everything quickly onto the stove in a flurry of frustration. I was able to make dinner in a reasonable amount of time, instead of spending a ridiculous amount of time with my attention divided between occupying him and chopping the vegetables. What would take me upwards of two hours finally went down to a reasonable 30-40 minutes again.

Slowly, over this last year, his watching has increased, and a big part of that came due to all of the traveling that we have been doing. By allowing him to watch a movie on the airplane or episodes of his favorite cartoons in the car, offered my husband and myself a HUGE relief. He wouldn’t scream, fuss or cry, and when we finally made it to our destination he seemed much happier and more content. I don’t know why, but it works for us. We set limits, and of course we absolutely DO NOT sit and watch TV all day long. We involve ourselves in activities, and even now it’s rare that he will sit through a full movie. He gets bored and decides to go play with his toys all on his own. I don’t have to make that decision for him, and I honestly think it is because I allowed him to watch instead of with holding TV from him.

But seriously, if TV is used moderately, rather than as a crutch, it can be an incredibly effective teaching tool. One that teaches, self control, patience, and appreciation for what you have. You can even use it as a special reward that is something that your whole family can enjoy.

A few thoughts on being a (Stay-at-Home) Mom

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I ADORE my son. He is the brightest light in my life, causes the biggest smiles to creep across my face, and brings tears of joy to my eyes when he says “I wuv you, momma”. In only two years, I love someone more than myself and would sacrifice my happiness and well being to protect him. I love seeing the look on his face when we experience a new “adventure”~ like going to a Train Museum or finding a new park to run around~ or when he discovers something new (“wook a bug! eeewwweeee!”).  His smile is contagious, and his curiosity totally draws you in, like you want to go exploring what ever it is he’s exploring because it is the most interesting thing on this earth. I adore his mischievous giggle when he gets caught doing something that he isn’t supposed to be doing (*sigh!*), and knows he is in trouble.  Watching him “read” an upside down book to himself is so amazingly adorable it should be illegal.

All of that being said, being a mom is also the hardest and most frustrating job that I have EVER done. I say that a lot too when people ask me what I “do” for a living, and I say I currently stay at home with my son.

I get frustrated sometimes when people seem to judge my decision to stay home with him. Really it was out of necessity, originally. But ever since, it has become my hardest and most rewarding “job”. I will admit that there are days that I want to just walk into my room, close the door and crawl into bed and hide away all day. Luckily those days are VERY few and far between. I feel so lucky that I am blessed to “pour all of myself” into my son and share every moment that I can with him. Sometimes being a SAHM is the cats meow, the bees knees, so awesome that I can’t believe that I get to do it every day. Like when you are able to show your son how to count, and he does it back for you, or when you get to take your child on a day trip to see a really cool museum, or when you get to laugh and giggle together. But then there is the other side of it when the kid is sick and screams and cries all day, or a well prepared and specially thought out lunch ends up all over the floor, or even when they are just in a funky mood and a trip to the grocery store becomes an epic battle of the wills. So next time you see a mom struggling in the store with a rambunctious little kid, cut her a little slack. Maybe gently intervene with a smile and a kind word. That really goes a long way when it feels like someone truly understands. It’s hard to feel appreciated and loved when everything that you are doing is for the benefit of this child, and what you get back in return (ALL DAY, EVERY DAY) is nothing but resistance and sour faces. It’s hard.

Most days though we are able to explore, relax, and enjoy what life and the Lord has brought for us that day, and I try to soak up every bit of that. I am learning how to “teach” him, as well as how to moderate and balance my days with simple educational tools, all while keeping up with the housework (which I still have yet to perfect). I get so envious of those women that this seemingly comes so easily to, and I aspire to bring that into my home one day. I hope to find that wonderful balance of Happy Homemaking, finding complete home organization, being the Mom who does it all, and becoming personally and artistically fulfilled all wrapped into one pretty little package. When I find that I promise to share, but for now we are just enjoying searching that journey together. You know what, I couldn’t be happier.

Bliss & Honeysuckles

Welcome to the world of Bliss and Honeysuckles!

Here I hope to inspire, share, feature, and just have fun! Some of my most favorite memories are in my backyard surrounded by the sweet smell of honeysuckles and jasmine sharing laughs with my family and friends. I hope to bring a little of that bliss here where I can share all things special to me, with you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to see you again soon!