4 Alternatives to a Typical Wedding Registry

For almost a year, we’ve been planning our wedding. Since we’re a bit of an unconventional couple, as well as being pretty well-established, a typical wedding registry didn’t really seem to suit us. We originally tried to do the “normal” thing, scanning items at the local Target, but then it just seemed like we were asking for stuff that we had no place for in our current living situation (an apartment with not much storage space). So, of course, I started researching alternatives. I’m not one to really be sold on¬†having to do something for the sake of tradition. If there’s a tradition, I want it to be meaningful, and frankly, registries just aren’t that meaningful to me. If you’re a couple that is looking for something a little different, here’s what I’ve found:

Honeymoon Registry

 

This is a controversial one. Some think it’s a great opportunity to support experience over stuff, while others think it’s tacky. I happen to think it’s a great idea. I think if you frame it as a, “we’d rather have money spent on experiences rather than stuff,” it’s more approachable and authentic. If you come off as, “We’re broke and want somebody else to pay for our honeymoon,” it’s a little more jarring and awkward, I think. Just a personal observation though. ūüėČ

E & I are using the Honeymoon registry through Disney, since we’ll be spending 10 days at Disney World (Eek! Yes, what can I say? We really are obsessed with WDW!) Here are some links to reputable Honeymoon Registries:

Disney Honeymoon Wishes

Honeyfund

Traveler’s Joy

Gift Card Registry

 

So, I had found a a gift card registry, but for whatever reason, they are no longer accepting new registries. ūüôĀ I was super bummed because I think this is a BRILLIANT idea. Especially for couples that are already established or the indecisive couple that isn’t ready to pick the type of china they want (or doesn’t want china to begin with…) So, since the actual registry site wasn’t available anymore, I created a Target registry, but only listed gift cards on it. ¬†I am the queen of flexibility, and gift cards offer that. By registering at a place that is convenient for nearly everyone, it allows people to access the gift cards easily. You can choose gift cards to Target for housing items, or experience gift cards (ie. Disney, just about any restaurant, Apple, Amazon, Southwest, etc..)

 

Donate to Charity

 

This is one of my favorite options. There are a few ways to do this – you can just pick a charity and request that people make a donation in your name. Or The Knot has a great option to choose a charity and if your friends and family purchase items on your registry through The Knot, they will donate a percentage to the charity of your choice. E and I chose to support the CASA organization. Or there’s the I Do Foundation, which creates a registry that allows your guests to make direct donations to the charity of your choice.

 

Screw the Registry

 

This is also a great option. No one is forcing you to create a registry. Just about every wedding website will tell you a must-do, but it’s not. Your wedding is YOUR wedding. Do it the way you want. If you do forego the registry, just be prepared for whatever gifts may come your way (which could be great!)

 

Did you use an alternative to the normal wedding registry? Let me know in the comments!

4 Alternatives to a Typical Wedding Registry // Cue to Cue Mama

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies by Age Group

 

I know…I know…ANOTHER holiday post. Sorry, this is the late November/December life with me, so buckle up, it’ll be a festive ride! It should come as no surprise that I love holiday movies. Sure, some I love better than others, but for majority of December, you can see me cuddled up in front of the TV watching a holiday movie.

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies (by age group) // Cue to Cue Mama

I broke down some of my favorites below into somewhat age-appropriate categories. It should go without saying that the age groups are totally open to intrepretation. Zo has seen majority of the films on this list, so I just tried to place them in categories that would make the most sense, on average. Did I miss one of your favs? Let me know in the comments!

Christmas Movies for Ages 0-6

 

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies (by age group) - Ages 0-6 // Cue to Cue Mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say, I’m partial to Claymation Christmas since it’s so rare and not very many people remember it. My parents had it recorded on VHS (Along with Santa Claus with Dudley Moore) and I would replay it over and over. I’m not sure why I loved clay dinosaurs chatting about Christmas songs so much, but it provides me with so much nostalgia. Plus, the California Raisins show up! (Yes, I know, I’m showing my age).

 

Nick Jr Christmas
Mickey’s A Christmas Carol
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas
Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas
Muppets A Christmas Carol
Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (animated)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
Claymation Christmas
Polar Express
Twas the Night Before Christmas

 

Ages 7-10

 

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies (by age group) - Ages 7-10 // Cue to Cue Mama

 

I read somewhere that Home Alone is still the highest grossing live-action comedy in history. That is insane. Being the 80s/90s kid that I am, I have a special place for anything John Hughes touches. I also distinctly remember laughing so hard during Home Alone as a kid that chocolate milk came out my nose.¬†It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas are also at the top of my favs list.

 

Home Alone
Arthur Christmas
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (live action)
White Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life
Miracle on the 34th Street
The Santa Clause 1,2,3
Santa Claus
Jingle All the Way

 

Ages Pre-teen – Teen

 

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies (by age group) - Preteen/Teens // Cue to Cue Mama

 

I know this is a short list, but I watch all 3 of these every year around the holidays. I quote Elf throughout the year, and A Christmas Story always reminds me of my dad. 8 Crazy Nights is so underrated and great. It puts me in tears every time I watch it. I think the list is short because the rest of the movies may be inappropriate for pre-teens (not necessarily, but maybe).

 

Elf
A Christmas Story
8 Crazy Nights

 

Grown-Ups

 

An Enormous List of Holiday Movies (by age group) - Grown Ups // Cue to Cue Mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the movies that younger can watch, but have enough language/innuendo to deem them in the “grown up” category. I loooove Scrooged — but then again, I’m a sucker for Bill Murray. Love, Actually is a classic and is another movie I quote all the time (plus a freakin’ all-star cast). And Christmas Vacation? Come on…John Hughes, remember?

Scrooged
Love, Actually
The Holiday
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

 

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Ultimate Christmas Playlist

Beware, I’m in the full-on Christmas mode now. And yes, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the past few weeks, but I’ve waited to subject everyone else to it until after Thanksgiving (because I still love Thanksgiving too…) For this playlist, I tried to incorporate new with old, classic with current, with a dash of playfulness. What are some of your favorite holiday songs? Did I miss any you love? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

5 Ways to Make the Holidays Special When You’re Broke

To say that I love holidays is an absolute understatement. While I wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas, I am in the spirit right around the time of Halloween (frankly, I’m in the spirit year-round, but have to contain my crazy).

As much as I love Christmas, it can also be one of the most stressful times for me too. When you live on a strict budget, it feels like any added expense will just make the house of cards fall down. I’m practically a miracle worker when it comes to using money-saving apps, but the holidays can still pose a huge financial stress on just about anyone. Luckily, I have five ways to make the holidays special on any budget…

5 Ways to Make the Holidays Special When You're Broke

Movie Night

I looooove Christmas movies. (And Hannukah, I mean Eight Crazy Nights is great). We have a fair collection of holiday movies, but you can easily rent on Amazon, at Redbox (just remember to return it…it’s an issue for me, haha), or from your local library. So, we pop some popcorn, make my mom’s yummy No Bake Cookie recipe, cuddle up in blankets, and watch a movie together. Low key, low to no cost, and one of the easiest ways to get in the spirit.

Christmas cookies

A lot of us have our favorite family recipes around the holidays — one of our’s is mentioned above – no bakes! Yum! If you don’t have any family cookie recipes, don’t worry — Pinterest has you covered. You can get as basic or as ornate as you want. It’s crafty, fun, and gives you an opportunity to make cheap gifts for your neighbors. ūüėČ

Christmas lights watching

Z and I could literally go out every night to look at Christmas lights. Sometimes I’ll make some hot cocoa to put in travel mugs, get in our comfy pjs, and just drive around until we find good neighborhoods. We’ve stumbled upon some pretty amazing houses, and when E is with us, we have a grading system. Easy, fun, can be spontaneous, and FREE (okay…you use some gas, but totally worth it).

Create a Holiday Playlist

It’s no secret that I love a good playlist. I can’t go a day without music, it’s true, and around Christmas time is no different. Ask your family what some of their favorites are, so everyone is “in” on the tunes.

Holiday Books for Each Day

So, there’s a thing on Pinterest that has an Advent Book calendar tradition. As much as I loooove this idea, buying 25 books is tough for anyone on a budget (heck, buying one is hard enough). How can you still embrace this great idea without breaking the bank? THE LIBRARY. Seriously, if you’re not using your local library, what are you doing with your life? Bring out a new holiday themed book each morning or evening. Not only do you get some reading time in, but it’s centered around the season and FREE.

 

Listen, I know the holidays can get you down when you’re not “equipped” financially. It’s tough, but it also gives you a chance to focus on your family in the present moment, and isn’t that what the holidays are really about anyway?

What are some of your cheap or free holiday traditions? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

#18

Dear Zoey,

There’s a lot to be outraged about in this world. A lot of bad things happen to great people. Injustice seems to surround us wherever we go. And believe me, I’m the first one to pipe in when I see something that is cruel or unjust or mindless. (Okay, I’m an introvert, so actually I observe for days and days and days after tons of research and thinking, and THEN I say something…)

However, what I’m finding with the ever increasing consumption of media in our lives…is that people become enraged about EVERYTHING all the time. And what seems to be happening is a little like the “boy who cried wolf” story. If you become enraged about everything, and are quick to scream and protest and raise your red flag, you will eventually fall on deaf ears. And unfortunately, some really important issues are pushed to the side because of this.

So, I think there’s a delicate balance to find. Standing your ground and being firm in your belief system is important. It’s important to script out what our “personal” mission statements are. What we value. How we want to be treated. And most importantly, how we want to treat others. But there¬†has to come a point where you stop talking and start doing. As cliche as it’s become, Gandhi had it right when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So, I guess what I want for you is to not be afraid to speak up. That’s usually the first step in change — acknowledging the problem, but then take action. It’s easy to repost articles and memes and quotes and hashtags, it’s a lot more difficult to stand up and say, “This is wrong, and I’m going to do something about it.” And frankly, I’ve failed pretty hard at this, but I’m learning. And I hope that you and I can change the world.

Be the change,
Mama

#17

Dear Zoey,

Yesterday was a rough day. A rougher day than what I’ve had with you in a long time. I’ll remind you of the story. You started gymnastics almost a year ago. You’ve loved it, but this session, you’ve switched to a small class with a coach that really challenges you. And man, you work hard. You listen, you fight to learn stuff, you are an active participant. It’s fantastic to watch, seriously. But last week, you hurt your foot. And by hurt, I mean you bent it back a bit, so it was a bit sore, but nothing to worry about. And suddenly, you want to quit. You say it’s too hard. You say you can’t do it. You say you don’t want to “get hurt again.” I’ve always made it very clear that if you start something, you finish it. And after it’s done, if you don’t want to do it again, you don’t have to.

You continued to¬†whine about it (and lawd knows how much I hate whining). So, I gave you an option…you either go to gymnastics (last night) or you go to bed for the night (at 6:30pm). You chose to go to bed…and you cried and screamed and cried and cried some more. And I stuck to my guns. You went to bed.

Here’s the thing, it broke my heart. I hate hearing you cry. I hate making you sad or angry. I love our relationship and that majority of the time, I get to be the cool mommy because you behave in a way that makes it possible. However, I refuse to succumb to your every whim. My entire job as a parent is to make sure you are safe and that you grow up to be a conscientious human being. Anything else is icing on the cake. And I am a firm believer that when parents continually succumb to their kids, those kids end up being privileged assholes. Let me tell you, you may grow up to be a lot of things.¬†But privileged will not be one of them.

You will know what hard work is. That life rarely hands you anything for free, and usually, what’s free is rarely worth it. You will know that the more you fight for something, the better you will eventually become. You will know the importance of graciousness. You will know what resilience is. I’m a fighter, and I raise fighters.

And this isn’t to say that I don’t succumb to you. I do. Every parent does. But the important thing is to pick and choose your battles. Life is all about balance, and last night, I had to choose the life lesson over being the “fun” mom. And funny enough, you woke up this morning in a great mood, gave me a million hugs and kisses, and talked my ear off like you normally do on our morning walks to school.

Keep being a little fighter. It’s worth it.

Love you,
Mama

When You’re a Mom That Doesn’t Fit…

I wear Batman t-shirts.

I curse (sometimes too much).

I’m a weird mixture of¬†both type-B and type-A personalities.

I’m a veteran.

I’m a student.

I’m a girlfriend.

And I’ve been a mom for 6 incredible, eventful, agonizing years. The ways parenting has changed my life can’t possibly be cut down to one blog post, but there’s been a recurring theme in my life of parenthood.

Never quite fitting.

MomFit

This used to weigh heavily on me. I felt like I needed to rush my life. Hurry up and get married, buy a house, get a career because every other parent around me seemed to have it so much more together than me. I was a single mom, living with my parents, and struggling to figure out how to finish my degree (and what to finish it in) while trying to support a growing girl. Then, I met E, and I had one more piece of the puzzle, but again…I wanted to hurry up and be a “normal” family. It put a lot of pressure on me, and a lot of pressure on him.

When Z started attending preschool, it was a whole new world for me too. Figuring out how to fit in with mom’s that were mostly older than me, with a history I didn’t know how to explain or what I should (or shouldn’t) explain, and the constant struggle of never feeling like I could afford everything I wanted for Z. I saw mom’s planning play dates, driving minivans (not jealous of the minivans, let’s make that clear), taking their kiddos to dance and gymnastics and swimming and this and that. All while I’m driving an on-it’s-last-leg ’03 Ford Taurus, with no house, no ring, no money, no degree.

Plus, as a side note, my degree (that I’m still working toward–only 2 more semesters!) is in Creative Writing with a minor in Theatre. Not exactly a money making machine of a degree, let’s be honest.

But I survived. I survived those pre-school years, but didn’t gain any more confidence from before.

Then, it was time for kindergarten. The summer leading up to it, I struggled with these same demons in the back of my head, but I tried a different technique. I’d compare myself to other moms but would say to myself, “They have no edge.” or “Those mom’s are so typical.” Or the best one, “I’ll be the cool mom.” But all of those supposed reasons of why I was a better mom got me nowhere either. Comparison, whether inflating or deflating yourself, is truly the thief of joy.

But a couple of months into kindergarten, and suddenly tides started changing for me. I watched how Z interacted with the adults and other kids at her school, I watched how enthusiastic she was, I watched how strong and brave she was. I saw myself step up and defend her when she had an issue with another kid in her class, after exhausting her other options. I saw myself succeeding in school (for myself), finding more financial independence, and enjoying other moms instead of competing with them. And I suddenly found my worth. I was no better or worse than these other moms. We were just different. They lived a life that was the best for them and their families, and I lived one that was best for me and mine.

And that seems simple, but these were issues I agonized over for years.

It can be easy to define ourselves by those around us. It can be easy to offer ourselves harsh judgment (and even easier to offer others that sort of judgment), but it leads nowhere. And I’m realizing more and more that no one fits. We’re all just out there, trying to figure it out along the way.

So, for all you moms who feel like you don’t fit, you do. You fit in this wonderful spectrum of love and growing up and the unknown. You fit perfectly for that kid (or those¬†kiddos) that look to you for comfort and guidance and fun. You fit in this crazy life because it’s yours and you define it.

Surviving a Quarter-Life Crisis from Someone Who Has

As I was wasting time perusing Facebook yesterday, one of my close friends posted a status that said “I think a woman’s midlife crisis happens when she’s 25.” And I couldn’t agree more. In fact, from 2 years ago, I have a blog post in my drafts titled, “Quarter…er…life crisis,” and the only thing typed is, “Confusion, confusion, confusion.”

QuarterLifeCrisis

In recent years, I’ve noticed a rise in this quarter-life crisis phenomenon. I think it happens for a lot of reasons. We think we should have everything together, we’re not where we thought we’d be when we were 18, some people have faded from our lives. There’s a lot that happens in our twenties–a lot of mistakes, a lot of wandering around, a lot of “what the hell am I gonna do?” And most of the time. we just feel stuck. Or at least I did. I felt like I was capable of doing something great, but always felt like I was a victim to my circumstances (money being the most common inhibitor). These are all still struggles I have, so I’m certainly not going to tell you that once you turn 30 you’ll suddenly feel like you have your shit together. You won’t. I titled this “Surviving a Quarter-life Crisis” because that’s what it feels like most of the time–survival. And it still lingers in the air for me, but it doesn’t feel so close or real anymore.

There comes a point–for me it was around 28 or so–that you just realize what will be will be. And this doesn’t mean you just let life do what it will without any choice or consequence. You make your choices, some good, some bad, but you do what you can with what you have, and suddenly you find more peace.

This is why I adopted a mindfulness practice into my every day life. It helps make¬†life not feel so big and overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with anxiety and worry and depression. I still have major fears for seemingly simple tasks (Talking on the phone being one of them…) but these small mindfulness techniques that I’ve been learning, I use at those moments when I’m feeling most anxious or upset. Whether it’s a breathing technique, visualization, any of those things. It doesn’t take all of my problems away, but it reminds that the only thing I have is the current moment and that no amount of worry or regret will change that.

Looking back 5 years ago, when I was 25…I’m different, but very much the same. The best I can say is stop living where you’ve been or where you want to be, and just live now. It’s easy to believe that the grass will always be greener, but it won’t be. There will be hang-ups and mishaps anyway you turn, but you have a choice. You can choose how you react. You can choose your own destiny. I truly believe that.

All too often we try to carry the burden of where we’ve been. We hold on to questions like, “Why didn’t I just say something?” or “Why didn’t I shut the f up?” or “If I would’ve done this differently, I wouldn’t be in pain/confusion right now.” That burden is useless.¬†You cannot hold yourself accountable now for what you didn’t know then.¬†Your energy can be so much more productive somewhere else.

More than anything though…remind yourself that it’s really f’ing hard to do that sometimes, so be kind to yourself. More than anything, just be kind to yourself–you’re doing the best you can.

Do not go gentle, friends.

P.S. As a side note: If you’re looking for something that helps build a more¬†mindful life, check out this book:¬†Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day. Or this FREE app:¬†Headspace.com – meditation & mindfulness. I plan on writing a review on Headspace¬†soon, so keep a look out for that one.

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Why We Shame Online and How to Stop It

I recently read this article on Huff Post. She wrote about two separate instances of online “mom-shaming” via posting a photo online. And I was driven to a whole new level of anger. I haven’t had either of the two stories she mentions run across my newsfeed, ¬†but in recent years I’ve thought about how voyeuristic we’ve become, as a society. I’ve thought about the rights we’ve taken over someone else’s life and how empathy seems to continue to fall. We feel as if¬†we have some right to be able to document whatever we want of whomever (who? or whom? I’m an English major and I still get confused) we want. And then we can create a small gang of people through our various social media outlets to become self-righteous with us as we laugh at someone else’s unknowing expense.

shameonline

I’m as guilty as the next person…wanting to snap a picture of something I find absurd and posting it on Facebook or Twitter, however, usually (99% of the time) I talk myself out of it based on this one simple question I ask myself, “Would I want someone to take a picture of me if I were in that position?” And sure, I could go the¬†self-righteous route and say, “Oh, well I would¬†never¬†do that.” But the thing about life is that shit happens, and as a passerby, you are¬†never¬†getting the full story. Don’t get me wrong, I still get self-righteous (how many more times do you think I can fit “self-righteous” into this post?) I can judge to my heart’s content, in my own head, and I might even share it with a friend or two. However, the thing that I should probably remember is this wonderful thing called empathy. How many times have I looked like hell or been in a compromising position or had a kiddo not behaving? And the thing about this online mom-shaming, neither of the mom’s mentioned in these stories were doing anything really compromising. One was a mother child-wearing her 5 year old and the other was a mom breastfeeding in public. Sure, had I seen a 5 year old being “worn” I might have questioned it in my head, but reading the story, the mother was a mom to a 5 and 1 year old and her 5 year old was under the weather. She needed to run into a store real quick and with her daughter not feeling great, she decided to wear her on her back. The other mom was¬†breastfeeding.¬†And let me be honest, public breastfeeding makes me¬†really¬†uncomfortable. I know it’s natural, I know it shouldn’t make me uncomfortable. However, just because it makes me uncomfortable, doesn’t mean the woman shouldn’t feed her child. A parent should¬†never feel wrong about doing what he/she needs to in order to take care of his/her kids. And I know my discomfort is my own bullshit, not theirs, so don’t starve your child for my sake, that’s ridiculous. Just like some passerby taking your picture while nourishing your child and then shaming you for it online should be ridiculous.

But this epidemic isn’t just for moms, it is everywhere. How often do we see the word, “shaming” nowadays? We are all plugged in more than we ever have been before, and for some reason, we’ve taken license with other people’s lives. Judging first and thinking later. Even news organizations post news stories before knowing all the facts. How often do we see corrections at the end of news stories, or see a news anchor making assumptions before having any real evidence to back themselves up? We all have a platform now to spew whatever we want, whenever we want (coming from a blogger, I know this might seem trite and a bit contradicting, but hear me out), but what I think would be lovely is to cultivate a community of empathy. To not judge or jump to conclusions, to not join in mockery behind a computer screen, but to offer just a little understanding. If you’ve never been in the person you are judging’s shoes, maybe just remember that we are all humans, making our way through this life the best we can. And if we all posted photos of each other in our hard moments, our “life” moments, our f-up’s, we’d all look like a big bunch of losers, frankly.

So, what I’m asking for, I guess, is don’t be an asshole.

Mindfulness…from a chaotic mind.

mindful

I was going to write about my journey in seeking a more mindful lifestyle today. I was going to talk about how this past year I’ve really adopted a sense of mindfulness into my every day life. Being present in the moment. Relinquishing control of the things I can’t change. I was going to sound brilliant and interesting and show off my expertise. I was going to create a series “Mindful Mondays,” (and then I struggle with the thought of that…mindful mondays? That sounds ridiculous…)

And then I woke up to dog shit. Literal diarrhea. And I cleaned up…nothing like the nauseating smell of poop from a dog that will eat just about anything at 7am to really start your day off right. But I had my coffee and all was right in my world.

Well, except for the fact that my head was pounding so hard, it felt like my brain was trying to escape my skull. But then I made an early trip to the store, by myself, which are always so nice. I get home and Z and I shuck some corn (it’s called shucking, right? I live in Kansas…I should know this by now). And it’s refreshing and sweet and I’m grateful for this life.

And then I workout, and I feel crappy about my body, and I’m struggling through it. And then I start getting bombarded with a million texts from a million different people, and I don’t have a chance to take a shower before I have to run an errand, and the house is hot, and I’m feeling gross. And then Z (politely) refuses to get dressed and I lose it. I turn into a complete and utter lunatic who is screaming and crying and throwing things. And all of a sudden, I find myself outside sobbing.

So much for Mindful Mondays.

Or maybe that’s the point. Because adopting mindful living is about finding gratitude in the chaos. A mindful living does not equal a a simple, clean, fresh life…Sure, it can get you there. But the whole purpose of mindfulness, at least in my experience is about letting go of the control, and trusting that life will happen. It will not happen in the way we always want or at the time we always want, but it will happen. And in these moments, when life all of sudden gets overwhelming, whether for silly reasons or not, it’s time to get back to basics. To focus on your breath. To approach this moment with gratitude. To stop trying to control the uncontrollable ebb and flow of life.

So, I take a breath, gain some composure and face the two people I love most in the world…and say sorry. And with how embarrassed I am with my behavior, it’s hard to face it. But the thing about life…and living a mindful life…it will repeatedly humble you, when you least expect it. My mantra that gets me through the day: It’s a bad day, not a bad life. It’s a bad day, not a bad life. It’s a bad day, not a bad life…

Needless to say, I’ll take you through my mindfulness journey, but it certainly won’t always be a pretty sight….