Deck the Halls With Pasta and Gift Cards!

This post is sponsored by Piada. Naturally, all opinions, bad jokes, puns, and overly-used exclamation points (!!!) are my own.

It’s the moooost wonderful time, of the yeeeeeaaaar! (I really hope you SANG that with me as you read it. If not, please go back and DO IT AGAIN! I’ll wait…good job. Much better.)

Anyhoo. As I was saying, unless you live under a rock, you know that the Christmas season is upon us. More like ALL UP IN OUR FACES. Whew! I am feeling the holiday hustle & bustle already. Tonight is Sophie’s elementary Christmas program and although it’s usually lovely, it’s one of the most difficult nights of our year, getting everyone there and ready on time. Whew. I wish I could pay someone to do it for me and just show up and enjoy the program. (Mom of the year!!) But anyway, I am digressing AGAIN.

One of the most important parts of the holiday season for our family is giving back. We always try to involve our kiddos in the giving to show them how much better it is to give than receive, and that it is important that those who have help care for those who don’t. This year we’ve already participated in two big service events, and now we’re doing something a little different, too—participating in a gift card drive to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital with Piada Italian Street Food.

piada

Have you ever tried Piada? When I saw one open I was a little afraid I would not be able to eat there because of my food allergies, BUT happily I CAN eat their chopped salads and THEY ARE TO DIE FOR. My husband looooooves the Piadas. So let me explain a little about what this restaurant is like if you’ve never been there.

It’s a fast casual, authentic Italian eatery with choices of fresh grill items, sauces, dressings and toppings, which can be added to three main entrees: a Piada, Pasta Bowl or Chopped Salad. Menu items are made-to-order and guests can choose from more than 30 healthy ingredients. Soooo you can really, really, really customize your food!! “Piadas” are like wraps, reimagined—they have a thin crust, made from handmade dough that is freshly baked on a stone grill. Then, the Piada is filled with Italian-inspired ingredients and hand-rolled to perfection.

Related: I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW! We have a Piada conveniently located on the way home from church in Kettering, soooo it’s a favorite place to stop for lunch! But there are actually three Piadas in our area. In addition to the one we frequent, there are locations in Beavercreek and Centerville, too.

Besides the DELICIOUS food, here’s another reason to go to Piada this holiday season. Piada is holding a gift card drive in December benefiting Dayton Children’s Hospital, and it’s a total win-win! Here’s how it works:  Gift cards, of any denomination, will be accepted at all three Piada locations in the Dayton area (Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek). In exchange, each guest who donates a gift card will receive a free meal at Piada, including Piadas, Pasta Bowls and Chopped Salads.

DID YOU HEAR THAT? You give, you get! Personally, we have had great experiences with Dayton Children’s Hospital in both the ER and with tests our kids have had. I know many other families who have greatly benefited from the great therapies available through Dayton Children’s as well. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have beautiful little friend named Joy, and she is literally the poster child for the wonderful care that Dayton Children’s gives!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children's!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children’s!

Additionally, there are many kiddos who have long-term illnesses there, and they and their families will really benefit from this gift card drive! Providing gift cards to in-need patients and their families is the best way to get them exactly what they need this holiday season. In fact, gift cards are at the top of Dayton Children’s Hospital’s wish list and allow kids and families to pick out their own toys and gifts, as well as purchase necessities such as food, clothing, medicine and gasoline. Having a child in the hospital long term is extremely taxing on the emotional, physical, and financial needs of a family, and the gift cards collected at Piada will go a LONG way in soothing some of these difficulties for these precious families this holiday season.

Allright, soooo…what are you waiting for! Get ye to Piada between NOW and December 27th to give give give and eat, eat, eat!

If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments! And stay tuned…we will have a Piada GIVEAWAY coming up later in the month!

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Weird Christmas

Christmas Kids 2014

Yesterday marked without a doubt the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever had. But thank goodness, it was still pretty merry.

It started out like any normal Christmas. The kids bounded out of bed at 7:30 (our enforced time) and we opened gifts…lots of smiles all around. But then around 10 or so I got a FB message from my mom saying that Emily’s dad had gone over to get my Grandma to help her get ready for our family Christmas celebration (which would take place at my mom’s for the first time as our Grandma finally couldn’t handle having it at her house for the first time) and found her not quite well. He called an ambulance to come get her, and our Christmas took a turn.

My mom and Emily’s dad ended up spending the entire day at the hospital with Grandma (who is ok, but apparently fell and hit her head – no concussion, though) who ended up being admitted but spent the day in the ER in an overcrowded hospital before finally getting an actual room in the late afternoon.

First year in my ENTIRE life I haven’t seen my Grandma on Christmas. Admittedly, I was pretty low. We weren’t able to visit her because of the whole ER situation plus a high risk of flu at the hospital. However, after it appeared that she was not in major danger, I perked up a bit. But I still felt for my mom and Em’s dad as they spent all day with her and most of the evening, and now have some tough decisions to make about what’s best for her.

So, the Rapsons spent a good part of our day being lazy and playing with toys –  not so bad, really. Then we packed up about 3:00 to go visit my other Grandma, my dad’s mom, who is 95 and has been ailing since August. The past few times I have visited Grandma have been really hard, because she is not well at all and it’s just hard. I miss her vibrancy. But it was a blessing to see her on Christmas day and tell her I love her.

After a visit with Grandma and my aunts (thanks for all the gluten-free food, Aunt Z!!!), we headed over to Emily’s house, because she lives 5 minutes from my Grandma and the kids were dying for some cousin time.  (As was I, I will confess.)

There a lot of selfies ensued.

christmas selfies

#averyselfieChristmas

Then Kate and Sophie got in on the act because Kate is my selfie protege. You’re welcome, Em!

kate sophie

And THEN Emily and I played an EPIC Trivial Pursuit game against our husbands which I am SURE we would’ve won…if we’d gotten totally different questions. And Emily had a couple drinks which made her love me and find me more funny than usual so it was pretty much the best time ever!!

Also, our kids stayed up way too late but they totally loved being together so it’s a win!

My whole weird Christmas, which started and ended with smiles but had a fair share of worry in the middle  – just served to prove to me that these words I wrote at For Every Mom last week are true:

Christmas is so much more than we usually make of it.

We make it about presents and lights and amazing Pinterest creations.

But it is about Jesus, God’s indescribable gift to each of us.

…It is the trying and devastating times in our lives that make Christmas all the more joyful, beautiful and wondrous.

Because of Christmas, all those trials will work together for good. Because of Christmas, we will one day be in a place where none of earth’s ill can befall us. Because of Christmas, what’s broken can be made whole.

Because of Christmas, we are blessed when we mourn! This is the good news we can cling to in the midst of trials … even when we are covered in tears at the foot of our Christmas tree.”

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! Even if it was weird, or full of grief, or just plain carefree. I hope you can still feel the wonder of God’s gift to us today, and every day as we head in to a new year.

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Because Stopping is Not an Option #unstoppablemoms

I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for The Motherhood on behalf of the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

I have to confess that this past weekend kicked off one of the most nerve-wracking times of the year for me: first of all, daylight savings plunges us into way too much darkness, and November kicks off the really busy holiday-birthday-palooza that goes nonstop from now until Christmas. We have Sophie’s birthday November 16, Bobby’s on the 26th, Thankgiving, Jonah’s birthday on December 17th and then Christmas.

So basically, I should’ve started shopping 2 weeks ago. Hey, I am just happy to have already booked Sophie’s big bday bash at the bowling alley!

The truth is during these next 8 weeks, I have more to do than humanly possible – working, birthday + Christmas shopping, party planning, Sophie’s two birthday parties (one for friends, one for family) along with the other weekly activities that won’t stop like church, house church, and swimming lessons. But I have done it for years past, and I will do it again this year. Because I’m unstoppable! Here are a few ways I keep it all together during the holidays.

Unstoppable Moms

1) I shop online almost exclusively. Ain’t nobody got time to run around to a billion stores to get all these presents. With two kid birthdays and a husband birthday AND my mother’s birthday and Christmas all between November 16 and December 25, THAT’S A LOT OF PRESENTS. Amazon and Kohl’s.com are my friends. I don’t have time to lovingly pick out each gift at the store and I am not handmaking NUTTIN’. So. I shop online, when I have time, and it saves my life.

2) I delegate. I do make Jonah’s birthday cake because he’s gluten-free, but I let someone else (bakery!) make Sophie’s cakes (although of course I make sure Jonah will have a gf cupcake to eat at her party as well). I ask my mom or sisters-in-law to bring extra chairs or chips to go with the pizza we’ll order. I let my husband wrap the presents because he is WAY better than I am at it and he likes doing it (although the sheer volume of Christmas presents for all our family members is so large that we do that together). I keep our family parties casual. We have lots of fun, but not a lot of frills. Nobody is going to pin pictures of any party I throw and that is A-OK with me!

3) I ask for help. I guess this is kind of like delegating, but much more pointed. If it’s a couple days before a family party and my house is DEFCON-4 level messy, I ask my mom, or my sister-in-law, or a house church friend if she can take Jonah for a couple hours so I can power clean. If I have more places to be that I can possibly be, I ask for help. Sometimes I just cannot do it all, and when I can’t, rather than fail, I ask for help. And luckily I have lots of family team players who will help out in a pinch.

The Birthmaspalooza is on it’s way, and I. Will. Survive. I might even ENJOY it, celebrate my wonderful kids, hubby, and mom, and try to impress the wonder of the Christmas season and God’s amazing gift to us upon my kids’ hearts – whew!

I can do it, because I’m unstoppable! Stopping, my dears, is simply not an option.

What makes you unstoppable as a mom? 

The makers of Children’s MOTRIN® would love for you to share your unstoppable tips over on the Motrin Facebook page. Because one of the best ways we can help each other be unstoppable is to share what works for us! And what’s awesome about that? For every tip shared, they will make a $1 donation made to Safe Kids. Your tip might also win you $100 just for posting (all details on the Motrin Facebook page)

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES & D.C., 18 AND OLDER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Promotion ends 11:59p.m. ET 12/28/14.  Sponsor will donate $1 for each approved Submission made as part of the promotion, with a minimum donation of $30,000 and a maximum donation of $50,000.  For Official Rules, and complete details, visit www.unstoppablemoms.com. Sponsor: McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc.  To learn more about Safe Kids Worldwide visit safekids.org

Go give the unstoppable moms who have  inspired you a big shout-out today, and share your tips to help other moms, too!

What makes you UNSTOPPABLE during the holiday season?

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