Baby Gear & Gadgets: Christmas books for the little ones!

jack holding book

By Liz Emis, mama of 1 and 1 on the way

With Christmas just around the corner and our family in a tizzy over the announcement of baby number two, shopping for presents for Jack seemed to become a last-minute thing.

Today, let’s discuss some great gifts that are available just about anywhere that stimulate your child’s imagination, but don’t break the bank!

Our house is busy saving money for the pending May 2015 arrival of baby William Jonah. With that in mind, plus Jack having been loaded up with toys for his birthday in late October, I’ve been hunting for fun gifts that don’t cost much.

At 13 months old, Jack is really enjoying our morning reading time. He’s pointing to pictures on the page and tries to mouth the words that match the images. But mostly, he likes one book in particular, his Veggie Tales board book titled “I Thank God for this Day.” Why? Because it has a music button that plays a song!

Veggie Tales is a line of plush dolls, toys, games, DVDs and books that center around a bunch of vegetables who practice good values.

While many of the stories they tell are Biblical, there is a large variety of non-Christian affiliated toys as well. One of Jack’s favorite videos is a play on Star Trek featuring Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber!

books, close up

But back to the books. Available of Amazon and at Sam’s Club, these books cost about $10 apiece and I promise you, they entertain enough to be well worth it! As you can see in the pictures, Jack discovered we bought him three more of these for Christmas and immediately went for the music button!

They all teach simple lessons like obedience, kindness and generosity. You can’t go wrong instilling those values early. They also are made out of hard enough board to stand up to immense amounts of chewing and drool!

These are great books to ingrain the love of reading in your child, especially if they love sound. Hopefully Jack won’t find these before Christmas Day.

I’m considering leaving the music button unwrapped on each book and seeing whether he even cares to unwrap them!

liz-boch-emisAbout Liz: Liz Emis has spent more than 12 years in the communication industry. Beginning on the East Coast as a reporter for outlets like The Boston Globe, Orlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun, she moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2004 to write for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Three years later, she transitioned to public relations, branding and marketing, working on both the agency and client sides. In 2010, she added product development to her résumé, spending more than three years at Tyson Foods, Inc. in Springdale, Ark. Liz welcomed her first child, Jackson Gaines Emis, to the world in October 2013, and now uses her communication and organization skills as a stay-at-home mother to her eight-month-old son. As a domestic engineer, Liz has added financial analyst, counselor, chef, project manager, teacher, diagnostician, comedian, housecleaner and efficiency expert to her skill set. She can be reached at

Marathon Mama: How to find time to run and how to stay motivated

Guest post by Beth Gallini

If you read the first post in the Hogeye Marathon series, your interest may have been piqued and you may be tempted to start running and to register for one of the Hogeye Marathon races.

But you’re likely wondering how you will find the time to run when you have two kids, work full-time, and have the kids’ activities to juggle. Or maybe you’re home with the kids, but you’re home with the kids, so when will you find time to run?

Anytime you make a new commitment, it can be challenging to find the time for it in an already over-committed and busy calendar.  But the saying is true: if it is important to you, you will find the time.

Here are some ideas to help you busy mamas find the time to run:

exercise on calendarSchedule it: Adding your training to your calendar will help you find the time for it, it will block the time off so you don’t commit to something else, it will create structure and consistency, and you will be more likely to follow-through with it.

Ask for support: Share your new interest in running with your family and ask for their help.   Maybe your spouse can help with the kids so you can enjoy a run.

Get out there early: You are less likely to skip your run when other things come up during the day if you do it first thing in the morning.  Plus you get to enjoy the post-run feeling throughout the day and you start your day on a healthy and positive note.

Join a gym: Many gyms provide childcare and they all have treadmills, so that allows you to work out while your kids are being cared for.  Some gyms are located near running trails where you can run outside while your kids are being watched.

Invest in a jogging stroller: If you have a jogging stroller, you can load the kid(s) up and take them with you!  It will give you a total body workout and make you an even stronger runner.  It is also a great way to share your love of running with your children and involve them in a way that is fun for them.  Jogging strollers can be expensive, but you can find a used one at a consignment shop or online.

Find another parent to swap kids with: If you have a friend or neighbor who is in the same situation as you, set up a system where you watch the kids while she runs and then she watches the kids while you run.


Aside from finding the time to run, another common hurdle is staying motivated. It can be hard to pull yourself out of a warm bed to run or you may just not feel like running on some days.  Don’t worry, everyone has those feelings!

Here are some ways to help you stay motivated:

Make goals: Whether they’re big or small, having goals gives you something to work toward.

Hogeye MarathonSign up for a race: By registering for a race, you have a ‘deadline’ for when you need to be ready to go.

Record your runs: You can record your training in a journal or online, but being able to review the progress you’ve made will help you to see your hard work paying off and you’ll want to maintain that.

Get dressed: It may sound silly, but sometimes just getting dressed and putting your running clothes on will help you get out the door.

Find a friend/group to run with: Running with others can be fun, but it can also keep you accountable.  If you know others are waiting for you, you won’t want to let them down.

If you’re looking for a run to get motivated for, the Hogeye Marathon is on March 29th and offers a marathon, half marathon, 4-person relay, 5K, and corporate challenge.  Don’t forget that registration increases on January 1st.  Encourage your friends and family who aren’t running to volunteer – there’s something for everyone!

Beth Gallini runningAbout Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and just celebrated their first birthday. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have.   Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Holiday shopping tips!

If you’re not done with your Christmas shopping, we know you’re hard at work trying to get it all done. Click the audio links below to get some tips on finishing christmas giftup the prep work before the big holiday next week!

For more fun and practical tips, tune in to hear our radio segment called Mamas on Magic 107.9. It airs each weekday at 7:45 a.m. on Magic 107.9.

Breaking it down 

Thinking out of the gift box

Gift ideas for moms

Gift ideas for guys

Gift ideas for ANYONE

12th Apostle shirts: A little swag with your scripture

logo-300x300We love it when we find an awesome gift from a local company that also happens to have an uplifting message. I bought my husband Tom one of these 12th Apostle t-shirts for Christmas last year and it has become his favorite, go-to t-shirt — soft, comfortable fit with just the right amount of cool.

Each shirt has a different verse from the Bible printed in white letters on a background of warm, charcoal grey. Understated, clean and classy.

The t-shirts were designed with guys in mind, but we know plenty of women who wear them, too. If you’re shopping for someone who appreciates Scripture, he or she will LOVE this gift. Pictured below and three different styles to choose from. Click on each image to get more info and read the verse.

Click HERE for more info. (And check out the 12th Apostle Blog, too. These guys can design AND write.)

rock apostle shirtcrossroads(1)soulman

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