The Best Watches for Outdoor Activities: How to Choose the Right One

If you love being in the great outdoors, then you probably have a passion for one or more outdoor activities. Whether it’s hiking, climbing, backpacking, or skiing that gets your blood pumping – you’re likely to spend a lot of time exploring the great outdoors. Even if you don’t consider yourself an ‘outdoorsy’ sort of person, there are plenty of benefits from getting fresh air and exploring the natural world. Getting outside is good for your physical and mental health. It can also help improve your concentration, coordination, and general focus. The challenge is how best to make the most of your time spent in nature… And what better way than by investing in the right outdoor activity watch? On My Gift Stop, you can find quality sports watches.

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What’s the Deal with Teal on Halloween

“Can I have something out of the treasure chest even if I’m not allergic to candy?” requested an adorable little trick-or-treater last year. I have to be honest, in a million years I would have never thought that stickers, play-dough, silly glasses, etc. would ever be more enticing than candy!! It turns out the Teal Pumpkin Project is impacting far more than just those kiddos with food allergies.   

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project™ raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™ promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

Last year, households from 50 states and 7 countries participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project™. This year, you can be part of an even bigger movement by joining 100,000 households pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™! To Take the Pledge Click Here!

We took the pledge a couple years ago and I am glad we did! The kiddos have so many fabulous friends who have allergies and it always saddened me that they had to miss out on a lot of the fun. Now they don’t have to, they get to be included in all the trick-or-treating fun!! And let’s be honest; with juvenile diabetes on the rise children already consume a lot of sugar in their everyday meals, snacks, and drinks, cutting down on all the Halloween candy is a welcomed idea for all kiddos, not just those with allergies.

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For our teal pumpkin we decided we wanted one that would last for more than just one Halloween so we opted for a plastic pumpkin & painted it teal.


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We use a treasure chest for all our goodies!! I fill it with party favor type toys that I try to accumulate over the summer (end of summer always has some great deals!).


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Each year we seem to give out less candy since we started to incorporate the treasure chest & took the Teal Pumpkin pledge.  I am excited to see how the treasure chest goodies are received by our trick-or-treaters this year!!

Have you taken the pledge? What will you be passing out to trick-or-treaters? What are your thoughts on candy, think there will ever come a day when candy is a thing of the past?

Circus XTREME, Entertaining & Educational!?!


We attended the 145th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Circus XTREME!! And it was AWESOME!!

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We made certain we arrived early to experience all the fun pre-show activities!! We had the pleasure of stepping foot on the main floor, meeting some of the amazing performers, tried on some sweet costumes, got to volley a beach ball with an elephant, learned some circus skills, and more! Pics below is of our 4th grader giving the tightrope a try. The performers were so sweet with the children; they helped guide them and made them feel like superstars!


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And then it was time for the moment we had all been waiting for, the greatest show on Earth began!!! We so enjoyed watching Alex and Irina on their adventures for the most XTREME!


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I took such delight in watching the children’s expressions and hearing their comments during all the magnificent performances. I am finding that as our family gets on in the years it becomes more difficult to find family activities that captivate the attention of all 3 children. Either activates are to mature for our youngest or too “babyish” for the older two but circus XTREME totally nailed it & drew the entire family in! At one point I even took delight in seeing our 4th grader beaming with joy as she took pics of the performances on her iPod. Of course as soon as she made eye contact with me and saw I was smiling her expression faded but I got my glimpse of her joy and that was enough for me!

Meanwhile our preschooler literally fell out of her seat ½ a dozen times! She was dancing to the music, clapping her hands, screaming with enthusiasm, etc. At one point she even leaned over and shouted, “MOM! He doesn’t have a safety belt on!!” in astonishment! LOL! And she was legitimately speechless, (which is XTREMELY rare for her), when she saw mermaids floating in the sky.

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Our 2nd grader was in awe over the BMX freestyle riders & trampoline acrobats.


I personally thought the bungee skydivers aerial acro-ballet was the perfect combination of elegant & edgy, the black lights really solidified the cool factor! I have so much admiration for the performers. I had the pleasure of taking an aerial fabric class locally with a group of moms and I was absolutely astonished at the amount of strength, endurances, etc. that goes into those performances, they make it look so fluid and effortless.

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We had the best time! Our second grader even came over to me afterwards, gave me a big hug and said thank you for bringing him to the show….swoon!!!



What ensued once we got home was a magnificent conversation. The children were absolutely amazed & astonished by all the quality of the performances and performers. We discussed all the hard work, practice, integrity, endurance, perseverance, and trust that go into those performances. Math might have also come up in the conversation, a lot of the performances involve math, I do believe going to the circus might have just encouraged my kiddos to go over their math facts every night & for that I thank you Circus XTREME! And I also thank Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus XTREME for such a magnificent family friendly entertaining evening…and for making me cool in my 4th graders eyes, even if it was only for a couple hours, I will take it!! Don’t miss out on your opportunity for a fun filled family experience….XTREME is only here for a limited amount of time, get your tickets today!!


Friday, Oct. 30 7:00 PM

Saturday, Oct. 31 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM    

Sunday, Nov. 1 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, & 7:00 PM


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME at Huntington Center Thursday October 29th– November 4th 2015. Tickets start at just $15! CLICK HERE to order or order over the phone by calling 1-800-745-3000

Transitioning Mom: Where is my Epidural Now?

They warn you about the pain of childbirth. They even express all the different means for managing said pain and in such depth that there are literally tons of books written on the topic! Ways to manage the pain often include Lamaze, water therapy, epidural, hypnosis, etc. I opted for hypnosis when this little lady graced us with her presence.

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She was overdue. I was eventually induced. Thanks to Pitocin (the drug they give you to start labor) the contractions were intense but the hypnosis worked like a charm. I literally went to my “Happy Place” in my brain and managed to take up residence there for 5 hours. Then I was distracted & the door abruptly shut on my “Happy Place”. The pain hit me like a title wave, so excruciating, intense, take your breath away, and utterly unbearable, I would come to find out in a few short minutes that I was transitioning. But at the time the nurse assumed I was just beginning “real” active labor so she offered an epidural. When you feel like you are drowning in pain you welcome any floatation device! Then the pain entirely consumed my body as the epidural was placed I suddenly felt the urge to push. Once the epidural was in I pushed and on the second push we had a beautiful baby girl! (It was a huge surprise to me because I could have sworn I was carrying a boy…we didn’t find out the sex, it is one of the last & most magnificent surprise this world has left to offer). I didn’t realize it or know it at that time, but I had just given birth to our last child. I must admit, I would have probably commemorated the occasion even more so if I would have known…I might have slowed down, really savored & soaked up all the experience of delivery, possibly even had someone in the room to capture my expression when they told me it was a girl, that would have been such a treasure. I am however thankful for the epidural, while it did absolutely nothing but add to the actual pain of labor after delivery I felt renewed, I felt nothing, at least not like I just delivered a baby. I was ready for visitors an hour after she was born. I was on cloud nine. No pain!


Fast-forward a few years later and I have experienced so many magnificent and emotional moments throughout her life, a lot of firsts, first steps, first solid food, first word, so many firsts for her and yet lasts for me, as a mom. All of her firsts would be my lasts. It is heartbreaking. (I detest the expression ‘kills my soul’ but if ever I was to use it now would be that time…this is the closest I have ever gotten to an experience that kills my soul). It is in those moments that I channel what I learned through hypnosis for birthing and I go to my “Happy Place” in my mind. It helps mend the immediate pain, just as it did for labor, except for today, today the door abruptly shut!! Suddenly I was in transition and no one was offering me an epidural, no floatation device among this sea of heartache & pain.

Today was the last first day of preschool for both of us. Today was the last day I would accompany my child for the first day of preschool. The last time I would play at the water table, with the play dough, play in the kitchen, and get excited for the preschool school year ahead. The last time I would paint hands with one of my babies on their first day of preschool (something I secretly look so forward to).

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As I sat their painting her sweet little hand I recalled six years ago when I was painting her older sister’s hand and then her brother’s and how quickly the time has passed and how big their hands are now, practically the same size as mine. The time flies so quickly, I barely have time to catch my breath. It seems like just yesterday I was nursing my baby and singing her a sweet lullaby, her tiny little fingers wrapped around mine. And today she had her last first day of preschool.

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Today I had my last first day of preschool. They never warned me about the pain. The pain is real! The pain hit me like a title wave, so excruciating, intense, take your breath away, and utterly unbearable kind of pain, I would come to find out that I was transitioning.

I am transitioning from a mom with babies & toddlers (which I am so familiar with, comfortable with, and truth be told, totally love! And given the opportunity would gladly do the whole baby and toddler thing a million times over) to a mom with children PreK and up. The pain is real! I want my epidural! Where is my epidural now?




Time to DITCH the SECURITY BLANKET Linus!? Sometimes we get caught up in the mundane, the routine, it becomes our comfort zone, our security blanket.  Want to truly feel alive? Ditch the SECURITY BLANKET! Do something that scares you a little today…maybe talk to a stranger in the checkout line, wear bold colors, speak up & give your honest opinion, go to that workout class, start that project, start a group, or in my case do a segment on the news…it is totally outside my comfort zone ! But once I get up there I feel amazing and afterwards I feel like I really accomplished something…I feel alive!!

This life is such a miraculous gift! Live it! Turn off that negative talk in your head & push yourself to live a little on the other side of your comfort zone. This magnet is on my refrigerator and is a great reminder to me every morning to live my life…tomorrow is not promised so don’t put anything off.

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What has always scared you a little? What is holding you back? What are you going to do today that is outside your comfort zone? Maybe it is adding a comment to this post? Go for it!!

(Just to clarify, this means outside your comfort zone not outside your moral compass.)