StoryWorth: The Perfect Holiday Gift

What do you buy someone who has everything – especially when “everything” is not hyperbole, but a literal observation of their basement? Finding the perfect holiday gift for parents, in-laws, and grandparents is one of the most daunting tasks of holiday gift shopping. My kids are insatiable gluttons who want demand everything. They’re easy. The 65 and older crowd, however? They don’t want any more “stuff” in their house.

If every knick knack you perused on Black Friday left you with nightmares of your future self tossing it in a dumpster after you shipped your folks off to the nursing home, well I’ve got the gift for you!

StoryWorth touts the tagline of “The most meaningful gift is family.” Of course that’s true. It’s also true that you’ll be kicked out of Christmas dinner (or at least gain a few dirty looks) if you arrive empty handed. Luckily for us, the perfect holiday gift is here. StoryWorth brings the gift of family to a whole new level.

How It Works

Each week, StoryWorth emails your gift recipient a question about their life. They then write or record their answer (story) which is shared with you upon completion. At the end of the year, all of the stories are bound in a keepsake book.

There are a range of questions that prompt recipients to share childhood memories or ask them about life’s moments that brought great emotion. Some questions allow the recipient to share their experiences during historical events, or even provide an opportunity to express their values and beliefs. Questions are sent to you ahead of time for vetting, and you are always given the option to select another question or even write your own.

Why It’s the Perfect Holiday Gift

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my father-in-law is the most kind and thoughtful man. Buying gifts for him is nearly impossible, as we feel that, for all he does for us, he deserves a 6-month trip to Europe. It’s safe to say that gift ain’t coming from us anytime soon, so last Father’s Day, it was a Godsend when I stumbled upon StoryWorth.

StoryWorth has taught us so much about this incredible man. We learned that his childhood in Chicago epitomized the Baby Boomer generation (there were 40 kids on his block alone). We learned that his grandfather worked his way up from office boy to Vice President of a railroad. Who doesn’t love visions of their grandfather as a mischievous boy, sneaking coal into his brother’s Christmas stocking? Most of all, we have amazing stories to share with our daughters about their beloved Papa. Even as old women, my girls will be able to read these stories, written in their dear Papa’s own words, and remember his warm heart and gentle manner. They will also get to recall his favorite joke, which I’m sure thrills him!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The one criticism I had about StoryWorth is that, as the weeks went on, I feared I’d bought a completely selfish gift. Remember when Homer Simpson bought Marge a bowling ball that had “Homer” written on it? StoryWorth is like that. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to finding one of my father-in-law’s stories in my in-box. Whether they make me laugh or cry, these stories never fail to warm my heart.

As he does, my father-in-law made me feel much better about this. He reminded me that StoryWorth allows the recipient to reminisce about the good times in their lives, reflect upon the bad, and, most of all, it allows him to share his life with his loved ones. He also loves StoryWorth as it helped him to channel his inner writer. Seriously, here’s an excerpt from his answer to the question: “What is one of the bravest things you’ve ever done and what were the consequences?”

I think people are brave throughout their lives, doing little things and big things they know are right, and doing them fearlessly. Trying new things they know they won’t be good at right away, or things that might make them look funny at first. Getting up every day, going to school, going to work, doing things you like to do and things you don’t like to do, doing what you are supposed to do to support yourself and your family, and make the world a better place. That is brave. I guess brave is an attitude you have to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences.

How lucky are my kids to call this man Papa?!

The Most Meaningful Gift

StoryWorth helped me realize that there is no more perfect holiday gift than telling someone that you love them so much that you want to know them even more. This holiday season, if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for a loved one, buy a subscription to StoryWorth. It truly is “the most meaningful gift.”

If you use the link below (or any of the StoryWorth links within this post) to order StoryWorth, I will receive a small commission. (I made it clear that, even in gift giving, I’m selfish, right?) Seriously though, please know that this is my first affiliate post. I sought them out because of how much StoryWorth has meant to my family. But if this works out, get ready for me to start schlocking things left and right!

www.storyworth.com/mamatries

StoryWorth: The Perfect Holiday Gift

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links earn me a small commission.

Mama Makes You Feel Better: “Collection” Edition

cup collection
A view under the book shelf.

Mama makes you feel better because your kids have normal hobbies. Some kids collect things. Perhaps yours collect shells. Or stamps. Or Pokemon cards. Maybe you complain because sometimes your lives seem to revolve around that collection. Wow, that must be rough for ya’ll. Your kid showing an interest in something that can teach them about their world, their history, or ignite their imagination.

You know what my kids collect?

Used cups. That’s right. The little cups they use to swish and spit when brushing their teeth cannot be thrown away in this house. They are stored securely in their rooms. And by securely, I mean, they’re everywhere.

A glimpse under any bed, dresser, or book shelf reveals a collection worthy of awe and reverie. Used paper cup collectors from around the globe would marvel at what my children have meticulously collected.

What is the purpose of this collection? Well, who doesn’t find themselves in need of a cup now and again? Need a place to put the change you have stolen from your parents’ pockets? Grab a cup. Did a beaded necklace break and you’d like to store the parts so your mother can throw them away when you’re not looking fix it? Well, there’s a cup right behind the door jam perfect for that.

Whenever we attempt to dispose of a cup, my husband and I are met with angry protests. We have learned that our children are not above rummaging through the garbage.

When we last ran out of cups, my judicious daughters ran to their rooms to fill dust-covered cups with water. And we let them. Because it filled them with pleasure to make use of their beloved collections. Mostly, we were too lazy to go downstairs to fetch clean cups from the kitchen.

This Thanksgiving, be thankful that your children have not caught the cup bug. And by bug, I mean cholera. No one should be drinking out of these things…

cup collection
Every nook and cranny is filled in the little one’s room.

 

Mama’s Thinking About Drinking Wine…

snow kids
Go ahead. Your snowball is no match for me when I’m cozy inside.

…because this is the first year that my children are old enough to play outside in the snow by themselves. Time for celebration!

You want to stay in the cold for an extended period of time? Sure! You want to hang out while it’s precipitating something that’s not quite snow? Why not? I’ll be inside under a blanket watching Bravo.

Even I am aware that wine consumption isn’t quite socially acceptable at 11 a.m., but, luckily for me, it’s Sunday. Mimosa time.

Although, I did just see the 4-year-old eat some snow off of the lid of the garbage can. Maybe I’ll make it a Bloody Mary.

Mama’s Drinking Wine…

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Because sometimes you get to shop at Whole Foods all by yourself, which means one thing. You get to eat all the cheese. “Would I like to try that triple creme brie with some strawberry rhubarb jam? You bet your ass I do!”

Throw in some fancy crackers and a hunk of soppressata, and I had the fixings for one hell of a charcuterie board. Not bad for a night at home with the fam.

Once I put the cheese board out, how did my children react? They ran into the fridge, took out the package of processed American cheese singles, and begged to have one.

If I was a glass half empty kind of girl  I’d be drinking due to my children’s horrifying palettes. But Mama’s glass is half full tonight (not for long), because I’ll toast to anyone who leaves more cheese and hard meats for me!

Random Acts of Kindness

Yesterday, there was a shooting at our local mall. Home to numerous restaurants, play centers, a bowling alley, and movie theater, in addition to the many stores stocked for Christmas shoppers, it was filled. Santa was taking pictures with children when the shots rang out.

I was not there, but the mall is a popular spot around here, and it didn’t take long for this shooting to become personal. A woman bringing a group of children to the movies to celebrate her son’s birthday. Another having lunch with a friend. A family out shopping for children’s clothing. My Facebook newsfeed quickly filled with announcements of safety.

No one was injured in the shooting, which is thought to be gang related. No one has been arrested. Yet, countless families will now question where they will bring their children today. Countless mothers will decide against a visit to Santa this year. Countless children will have life-long memories of being forced to get down and take cover as shots rang out in a crowded mall.

In times like this, it’s easy to believe that the world is a dark, cruel place. It’s hard to feel safe when our news is filled with random acts of violence. Today, I will try my best to remember the words of Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

My friend Kelly was in the mall yesterday. I can’t imagine the fear she must have felt and still feels. Yet, this morning on Facebook, she chose to send a message to her helper. It brought me to tears, yet also brought me comfort. It reminded me that, in the midst of one act of violence, our local mall was home to a bounty of random acts of kindness yesterday.

Kelly has graciously allowed me to share her words with you. I hope that they make you feel a little bit better about the world today.

mr-rogers

To the stranger in DSW,

Yesterday when my husband and I decided to go to the mall to buy our daughter (3) some new dresses, I didn’t expect to leave holding your hand, especially since I never even caught your name. The mall was so crowded, we decided to park near JC Penny’s because, let’s face it, it never gets too packed there. Where did you park? Did you have to walk far after we were evacuated?

My husband, I think you saw him, was so frustrated when we arrived because he had left the attachment to the baby’s (5 months) stroller in the garage, but I of course am always prepared and had my wrap. (Looking back it was a sign not to have the stroller because we had to evacuate through stairs.) We weren’t there long, a stop in Pottery Barn, a quick stop at H&M, and then down the escalator to DSW. Were you starting your Christmas shopping early or there for yourself?

Our daughter Madigan loves the escalator, but she didn’t love Santa sitting at the bottom, so we quickly made our way to DSW and that’s where I met you. I was with the baby in the bootie section. I have a large foot, 9.5, and luckily they didn’t have anything to try on. What were you looking for?

As I made my way across the store to see where Dan and Madigan were, I noticed people yelling and running towards Penny’s. I looked around DSW, and oddly enough no one but me noticed that chaos that was ensuing. When I heard someone from inside the mall yell shooter, I did as I was trained and began to yell “shooter, shooter, everyone run” as loudly as I could. Did you hear me?

Dan didn’t hear me either so I started screaming his name. I’m sure you heard that. Finally, we made eye contact and I once again yelled out “shooter.” Although Dan had our daughter, he did what he was trained to do as a police officer and began to run towards the shooter. When he and I were talking about it last night, I was angry that he would have thought to leave us, but he explained it was his duty to put others before himself in the event of an active shooter. This is something that as a wife of an officer I need to accept, although yesterday I screamed at him to stop. I watched as he assessed the situation, and agreed, he needed to get our daughter to safety, after all I was still three isles away.

He quickly picked up Madigan and at that time the store clerk yelled for us to head to the back. That’s where I met you. I was the girl with the baby wrapped around her. I was the girl with the long brown ponytail and tears beginning to form in her eyes. I was the girl while walking up the stairs you asked if I was alone. I was the girl who told you my husband was here, but further down the stairwell. I was the girl who you explained to that my husband looked calm and had our daughter tightly wrapped in his arms. And I was the girl whose back you rubbed.

I was also the mother of that little girl screaming she was scared. I was the mother trying to explain that we were just in a fire drill, like the ones we practice at school. I was the mother of the sleeping baby lying across her chest, so innocent. I was the mother who took the biggest breath she’s ever taken as the door to the outside world opened, because it was in moment, I knew my children were safe.

And I was the stranger who was grateful that she had parked in JC Penny’s because I could see my car. I was the stranger who turned back, looked you straight in your watery eyes and said thank you. And I was the stranger who will forever be grateful to you, a woman whose name I don’t even know, a woman who in a time of great uncertainty cared enough about me to make sure I was okay, a woman whose face I will never forget.

In debt,

Kelly Webster

Mama Makes You Feel Better…

 

 

 

 

 

 

star wars family
What we went through to get this shot!

Because you’re not the only one who spent money and/or time on your child’s Halloween costume, only to have them refuse to wear it. We have been planning our Star Wars themed costume for months. We went through three garbage cans in order to find the perfect one for R2D2 (or, Arty D2, according to a certain kid in this family), and my husband worked for hours getting the design right. Which is why, when it came time to put it on, she flat refused.

So, yes, I posted the adorable family pic above on Facebook, and don’t we look like the happiest darn family on the block? What I didn’t include in the caption is that this kid cried for 15 minutes prior to the photo being taken, and only put the costume on long enough for us to take a family picture – – and that was after we threatened her with no trick or treating. Because Halloween, after all, is about Mom and Dad getting the photo op they earned with countless trips to Joann Fabric and Home Depot!

So, take solace. You are not the only family on the block who brought a child in a sweat suit door to door to beg for candy last night! Now, go raid their candy bag and feel better!

sweat-suit-lily
This little bugger does look happier in this photo, doesn’t she?