7 ways modern moms balance it all

rock-balanceIt’s nothing new to say that we moms are trying to do it all these days. I know women who own businesses, volunteer in their children’s classrooms weekly, find time to host girlfriends in their homes, drive multiple children to and from activities and are still coming up with creative endeavors for their future. But even these women don’t always feel like they have achieved balance.

For years my personal mission statement has included the goal of a balanced life. I can’t say I’ve achieved it but I’ve certainly learned a lot as I aim toward it.


1. Write a personal mission statement.

Sometimes just clarifying what you really want out of life is the hardest part. Writing a mission statement gives you a template from which to set goals, maintain priorities and help you know when you should be saying yes and no. My mission statement is: To create a healthy, positive and balanced life for myself and my family. To be generous, never stop learning and strive for good design. And above all, to do everything for the glory of God, becoming a women of noble character and grace.

2. Give your best yes

Learn to say no. Busy moms hear this a lot but, until now, haven’t known how to do it gracefully and without guilt. Author Lysa TerKeurst shares the brilliant trick of the ‘small no’ in her book, The Best Yes: Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, available here. My interpretation of the ‘small no’ which has given me a whole new confidence in both saying no and yes is to simply state that when I take on a project I like to do it right and give it my all. By explaining that at this moment I cannot offer my best yes to said project or request makes everyone feel like I’m actually doing them a favor by saying no. And then I’m sure to add that I’m open to being asked again in the future. This way you actually find yourself available to give your best yes when the right occasion or project does arise.

3. Embrace technology

So often technology seems like a distraction or even a nemesis (like when your whole contact list is erased) but when used effectively, it can make you feel like a super hero.

 Amazon Fresh has changed the game when it comes to grocery shopping. I make my list right on the phone app as need arises throughout the week and then I grocery shop from the comfort of my sofa, often with a glass of wine in hand for the full effect. Private Facebook groups are an amazing way to quickly communicate with a group of parents. I can find out about missing homework or get a reminder about a field trip from each kid’s class page. Banking apps, texting to keep in touch, and working from home out on my sunny deck (like I am now) are just some ways technology can help create a balanced and enjoyable life.

4. Keep it simple at home

All white linens and towels make it easy to throw it all in together and bleach your way back from any mess. The less dishes you own, the less you use, and the less you have to wash. For me, laundry and dishes are the lamest part of the homemaking duties and totally distract from the fun stuff. I recently discovered the coolest product from the family owned company Puj. Their PhillUp cups are a brilliant solution to simplify parenthood, which is their mission.

5. Work hard, play hard

I find that there is a natural ebb and flow to motherhood. Some days are demanding from the moment you wake till way past when the kids are down. And other times you unexpectedly find yourself alone with a few hours to spare. I say, ride the wave. Work like mad when you need to, check off all the to-do boxes and then chill when you can. Take a break and don’t feel guilty! Let the dishes sit and the clean clothes pile up. Your sanity is more important and the dishes will be there when you’re back in go-mode.

6. Make date night a priority

I thought dating my husband was pretty important when our kids were babies but now that they stay up late and have their own opinions around the dinner table, date night has become paramount! My husband and I rarely see a movie on date night because it’s not about being entertained, it’s about connecting. My favorite story is of a high-powered, busy couple who have committed to spending one hour every evening in their own living room. They have a glass of wine and talk uninterrupted every day, if there is a secret to strong marriage this just may be it!

7. Play to your strengths, get help with the rest

It really does take a village, none of us can do it all alone. Offer your talents to your friends and accept their help as well. Gleen from other’s best practices. Most of my best mom tricks are not original, they are the brilliant solutions of a host of more experienced moms. Have your kids make their own lunches, even as young as first grade this is doable. If you can, hire a house cleaner so that you can spend free time doing the things you love with the people you love. Ask to carpool, it isn’t a new idea but I think sometimes we forget it’s an option. It’s healthy to realize we need each other. Similar to learning to saying no graciously, learning to ask for help is one of the secrets to a balanced life. It feels good to help others, give that gift to the people around you, and let’s have it all.

More posts with creative ideas for this time of year. Welcome to Summer A Father’s Day Gift Guide


favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.

Inspired by the Sound of Music (& yes I’m been to the Sing-A-Long) and by Oprah Winfrey’s unforgettable favorite things giveaways I started hosting my birthday party about three years ago and it was so much fun it’s become an annual event.

I like to imagine how fun it would be to buy my girlfriends all my favorite discoveries each year, lipsticks, scarves, subscriptions, natural remedies, recipes, beauty treatments and more. In case you didn’t know, I love to give gifts.

At my Favorite Things birthday party everyone goes home with a few treats. A favorite thing is a clever little item that makes life easier, more beautiful, solves a problem or is just plain fun. Something you couldn’t resist telling a friend about. The limit is $10 per item so guests have to get pretty creative. Sometimes the most practical gifts are the surprise hit of the evening. Each guest brings three of the same item and puts their name in the hat two times. When they introduce themselves they tell how they know me and all about their favorite thing. Then she draws two names and those two women get the item and yes, the birthday girl gets one too (insert guilty smile).

It’s always an entertaining evening and this year was no exception. Some women seemed to get lucky early and often, am I right Ms. Long? One of my favorite practical gifts was the Randomorder usb charger. This little puppy was a slightly over the budget (you can buy 2 for $29 at Costco) but we’re going to forgive Ms. Kruse. I’ve already used it to charge my phone while I sit on the football field and watch practice, I mean how cool is that!

IMG_5809The award for best presentation goes to Ms. Powell for the jingling belly dancing wrap skirt. She had her music all cued up and put on a rousing tutorial. You never know what will happen at a favorite things party.

I’m also already a big fan of the Elf High Definition Powder, for under $4 that’s a GREAT FIND!

And who doesn’t love a facial mask, this one is by Que Bella and includes dead sea mud (now I’m feeling very cosmopolitan and moisturized).










So thank you to all the women who made this year’s party so much fun.  And you thought I was joking when I said you’d have to come visit my website for the complete list of items. I’m nothing these days if not a shameless promoter of bliss! I should have taken pictures of all of you but I was having too much fun to stop and think about that. So here’s the complete list of your 2014 Favorite Things. Remember, everything on this list is $10 or under and came with rave reviews. And for those of you who couldn’t make it, there’s always next year. Happy Shopping!


Barnes & Noble gift card (& the book ‘Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement)

Randomorder charger with cord

Elf High Definition powder

Waxed Dental Floss

Sinus Rinse by NeilMed

Electric candles (found at Bed, Bath & Beyond, ok I admit I horde their 20% coupons)

Hand-made lavender drawer sachet

Egg cuber & square ramekin (found locally at the Wooden Spoon in Edmonds)

Brown faux fur infinity scarf by Grandma Ballard

Que Bella dead sea mud mask

The Detangler wet/dry brush

Evergreen Soap by Third Day Naturals

Eos lip balm

Oribe dry texturizing spray

Essence eyeliner pen (black)

Krave Pork Jerky – Black Cherry BBQ

Floral Drink Marker by Charles Viancin (found locally at the Wooden Spoon in Edmonds)

Sistema plastic lunch containers

Mary Kay lipstick samples

Day Spring Journal

Handmade greeting card by Michole Mattix

Belly dancing jingle-skirt

Café Ladro coffee gift cards

Starbucks coffee gift cards

Wild Basil & Lime hand soap

Sprayway World’s Best glass cleaner


Silver and Gold necklaces ($5 each at H&M)

Daily Luxuries Loofa

Pumpkin votive candle

Chocolate with carmel

Trader Joe’s organic garlic olive oil

Dishtowel with crochet button loop by Grandma Mattix


it’s a giveaway

10411887_729468313778674_3646812354830982011_nEvery mom loves a good deal and we all love free stuff so here’s a chance at both! I’m excited to, once again, be a part of the very popular Jack & Jill Consignment sale coming up on September 26–28 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. I got very lucky at the last sale, so I can’t wait to see what I find this time!


This top rated consignment sale is an opportunity to find deals on tens of thousands of gently used and even new clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, baby gear and much, much more! Check out the Jack & Jill website for more details at www.thejackandjillsale.com.

Moms who are selling the clothes make 65-80% of their sales and at the end of the sale left over items will be donated to local families in need, so really everyone wins! But first we want you to win!

At gift bliss our mission is to support moms with amazing gifts, so here are the rules:


2 passes to the exclusive pre-sale shopping event on Thursday, September 25 @ 7pm


Read and comment on one of our blog posts, and viola you’re entered to win


We’ll draw and notify the winner on Tuesday, September 23rd


Even if you don’t win we hope you’ll attend the sale

& tell your friends!

Jack & Jill




healthy mom, healthy baby

This summer almost every discussion I’ve had with a group of moms has led to the topic of health and ‘what we’re putting in (or on) our kid’s bodies’. It’s not a new subject but with chemicals invading most products these days, our kids overall health is one of the heavy responsibilities of parenthood and it’s hard to feel confident that we’re always doing right by them. As soon as a woman finds out she’s pregnant she becomes hyper aware that her actions and habits affect her child. And I think every pregnancy is a chance to recommit to health.

So when a mama comes upon clever tips, brands or products that she feels good about, she has to spread the word. A local mom recently told me about a product line called Healthy Home and actually gave me a few products to sample.

IMG_3922These products have a list of ingredients that are NOT included that’s almost as long as what IS. My kid’s love the FOAMING BABY WASH. Bath time is one of the great joys of young childhood and the foaming wash helps little hands learn to wash themselves, plus it’s just fun.

The CHEWABLE MULTI-VITAMIN for children has a kid approved good taste and includes several premium ingredients you will not find in the drugstore brands. And one of the coolest things about Healthy Home products is that you can look up all the ingredients, manufacturing methods or any other question for each product on their website www.mommysclub.com/jaynipeters.

One of my personal favorites is the HOME AND HAND SANITIZER. I avoid alcohol-based sanitizer so I like that this one uses chlorine dioxide (stabilized oxygen). The one ounce size is perfect to throw in the purse and I’ve used it all summer on my kid’s hands after using questionable toilets at parks and sports arenas.




Healthy Home offers an annual membership for $14.95 a year which gives you wholesale prices! If you’re not ready to make a membership commitment you can order through a local representative, mostly moms in your area.

If you’re searching for a convenient way to keep your home truly clean and healthy take a look at Healthy Home.



throw back thursday | grandma Lois

Remember when everyone on Facebook was making those lists of ’25 Things I Know”? Well, in the spirit of Throw-Back-Thursdays and Flash-Back-Fridays and because my blogging mind would rather be on summer vacation with my kids I’m re-posting an entry I made in a personal blog about five years ago. It reminds me of the importance of family, tradition and motherhood. I hope you enjoy!

Lois blog post2


Originally posted February, 2009:

I surprised myself today at my grandmother’s memorial service by being the first to stand up and speak about her. I was worried I might cry and not get anything out, and it was a little embarrassing but I’m glad I did it… for her! Besides what I shared that day,

the bold act alone was a sign of my love and loyalty to an amazing woman and grandmother who I miss very much.

Actually I’ve missed her for several years now. Sometimes it’s hard to remember my grandma Lois. Alzheimer’s has taken her away from us slowly over the last several years. First it was odd stories no one could confirm and then it became clear that she was no longer really her true self anymore.

Her true self was so fun! My best memories with her are all the fun shopping trips. I was lucky enough to be the eldest of her two granddaughters (& the only one for quite some time) and I benefited in many ways. Every Fall she would take me school clothes shopping and boy did we have shopping stamina in those days. We would shop for hours, take a break for lunch (and a serious strategizing session on what our best buys might be) and then it was back to it. She was always on a budget so I couldn’t get everything I wanted but it always seemed to turn out that she’d have some left over traveler’s checks from a summer trip and ‘those didn’t really count’ so inevitable, every time, I got that one extra item the budget wouldn’t allow. Those travelers checks were pure magic!

I guess, as it turns out, I’m one of the people who knew her and loved her best. Here are 25 Things I Know about my Grandma:

Lois was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado.

She was witty, self-deprecating and a total class act.

Her great-grandkids always put a smile on her face, even in the last days.

She hated getting her photo taken.

She was a Home Economics major in college and took the job of mom and home-maker very seriously.

She put herself together beautifully with bright jewel tones and silver jewelry to compliment her silver hair.

As a power shopper, she would have loved the deals we now get at Target and Nordstrom Rack.

She always served dessert. Ice cream cones were a pantry staple.

She would warm up my bed sheets with a hot water bottle when I spent the night.

She loved to hear that her fresh haircut made her look 10 year younger and that all the ladies walking the mall were sure to be envious.

Grandma always worried that she’d go bald but the truth of the matter was that she passed away with more hair than most of you reading this.

She worried more than most moms. In fact, she worried so much that no one else in the family felt the need to worry at all.

If you were close enough to her she showed you her sassy, smart-ass side.

Lois did a cart-wheel on her birthday every year until she turned 40.

Grandma collected music boxes.

Lois lived through the great depression and it influenced her for the rest of her life.

She traveled the world extensively but always got homesick about half way through a trip.

She built her dream house and lived there until just one year before she passed away.

The first time my grandpa asked her out on a date she said no cause she was washing her hair, and she really was. It was back in the day when you only washed it once a week so it was a legitimate excuse.  She said yes the second time he asked and the rest is history.

My grandmother had five kids, including a set of twins. She didn’t know she was expecting two babies until the last month of pregnancy.

She loved marching band and banjo music.

She created beautiful Christmas traditions.

My grandma enjoyed my home and always asked if I was going to have more kids (I often think how much she would have adored my daughter).

She loved her husband more than anything and they walked hand in hand till the end.

She passed away five months after grandpa.

My grandma once told me that I’m in the best years of my life right now with my little kids and when she said it I believed her.



father’s day gift guide

securedownloadWhy are dad’s so hard to buy for? Most of the men in my life don’t like a big deal made of them but it’s still important to show your husband, your own dad, pops, daddy, or grandpa your love and appreciation. So here are a few bright ideas for Father’s Day gifts he doesn’t even know he wants!

When I was a child my grandparents had a grocery list very much like the one in this picture. Every time I was at their house, and I mean EVERY time, I would steal a moment and write my name on it. Actually, I always wrote the same thing, “Hava was here”.

I had the pleasure of introducing my grandparents to my first two children and the times that the three generations spent together where always special. A few years ago, before he passed, my grandfather was at my house and wrote on my chalk board. Can you guess what he wrote?  I left his “Grandpa was here” handwritten message on the board for a long time and did my best to erase around it. After a while it became very difficult to part with his little scribble. Before I erased it I took a photo (that I can’t currently find). It’s amazing how meaningful our loved ones handwriting can be. That’s part of why I love this first Father’s Day gift idea.

get sentimental

As usual, ETSY.COM is an amazing resource for creative gift ideas. There are many metal artists who offer custom handwriting engraved in jewelry, key chains, guitar pics and even fishing lures. It may be a little late to get this gift delived for next Sunday but I bet if you give him an extra hug or a phone call on the actual day he won’t mind receiving a late gift, delivered by mail!



date night

I always knew dating my husband was fun and important but after our third child really started talking, I mean incessently, the concept of ‘date night’ quickly became a priority. Whether it’s a drink and trivia night at your favorite bar, a long walk, or a dinner out, the main point is to reconnect and get the chance to have uninterrupted conversation. Plan a date night for your baby-daddy (or a few months of pre-paid date night plans, a Pinteresting idea found HERE) and remind him why you had kids in the first place!



dapper dad

A subscription to Birchbox is the perfect gift for the dad with timeless style, you know, the man who always looks great and likes to keep you on your toes. Here’s your chance to get ahead of the curve and have a box of classy gadgets and made for men styling products delivered to him monthly. At BIRCHBOX choose 3, 6 or 12 months of style for the man who always spoils you.





mountain man

If your dad or husband participates in Movember every fall, this may be the gift for him. The BEARDO is the original stocking cap with a knit beard attached. Perfect for skiing, east coast winters or just something humous to wear to the ball game. Dad will get rave reviews whenever he sports his beardo around town.



minimalist tech

We love this EYN iphone case/wallet for the dad who has it all and likes to keep his stuff streamline. The case is made of a durable rubber for a manly grip and comes in a variety of colors and we found it on the hip website shopvault.com, check it out!

big kid

Does your husband shed his monkey suit in the evenings and get down on the floor to build legos with the kids? Yep, I know the type! We think he’ll love these accessories that give a wink to his moonlighting activities. Once again we found them at SHOPVAULT.COM.

lego cuffs


day off

Sometimes the best thing to do for a hardworking dad is to just give him the day off. Send him off with a couple of buddies or if he’s the type to recharge alone, send him off with fishing pole in hand and tell him not to come home till dinner time! Making his favoritre dinner would be a good bonus!

welcome to summer

1003252_10201174862754946_1515641284_nThe last day of school is the best day of school, or so my sons like to sing.

While there are many great ideas out there showcasing easy and thoughtful end-of-the-year gifts for teachers like this or this, I thought I’d share one of my mini milestone family traditions.

The last day of school is a big deal and the kids deserve a pat on the back (we do too, but that’s another post). I can’t help but celebrate the begining and ending of each school year. And I’m compelled, as a gift giver, to acknowledge everyone’s hard work and the start off summer with a fun gift!

When my boys come down to the breakfast table on the last day of school they find a few items to celebrate the begining of summer. This year I’m giving them bubble wands, water balloons and good quality super soaker water guns. I’ve tried the cheep, dollar store version and they’re just no good. I’m also adding the girl into the mix this year with a beach ball, cute bandaids (like stickers for 3 yr olds) and a pink bubble wand all her own. Other items I’ve given over the years include:

  • sidewalk chalk
  • sand/beach toys
  • coloring books/puzzels (for road trips)
  • pool toys
  • playing cards
  • sunglasses
  • new swim suits (sometimes I just give them stuff I was planning to get anyway)

Little family traditions like this strengthen our family bond, enrich our lives and create fun childhood memories. I know my kids look forward to this little milestone as they tuck another year of school under their belts and welcome summer.



Jack & Jill Consignment Sale | GIVEAWAY

Gift Bliss is thrilled to be involved with the upcoming Jack & Jill Children’s Consignment event May 30 thru June 1 and we’re announcing our first ever online GIVEAWAY!


This top rated consignment sale is an amazing opportunity to find deals on tens of thousands of gently used and even new clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, baby gear and much, much more! Check out the Jack & Jill website for more details at www.thejackandjillsale.com.

Moms who are selling the clothes make 65-80% of their sales and at the end of the sale left over items are donated to local families in need, so really everyone wins! But first we want you to win!

As you know, we love to giving gifts to moms so here’s the drill:


2 passes to the exclusive pre-sale shopping event on Thursday, May 29 @ 7pm


Read and comment on one of our blog posts, and viola you’re entered to win


We’ll draw and notify 2 winners on Tuesday, May 27th


Even if you don’t win we hope you’ll attend the sale

& tell your friends!



our day at the market

On the day before Mother’s day, my mom and I ventured out early, car packed with boxes, posters, a table and tent. I was so grateful that the day looked sunny and the rainy forecast had been wrong. We set up our booth and carefully created a display of signs and sample gift ideas for each of the bliss symbols. The vendors on either side of us were friendly and welcoming. No doubt they could tell we were new to all this.

The Edmonds Farmers market is a muti-generational, weekend gathering place in the heart of Edmonds. Grandparents, kids and grandkids (& even some dogs) stroll, eat, shop and socialize. There was no shortage of friends and curious parties stopping at the booth. My husband brought my kids down and

I’m not sure if it was because of mother’s day or maybe that I did not have to dress and shepherd everyone out of the house myself but they were absolutely delicious to behold!

My oldest son could not be more proud of his ‘author’ mom and wanted to stay at the booth with me while the others wandered.

I signed and sold a few books, gave out promotional bookmarks and shared the story of bliss with anyone who even slowed down as they passed. My favorite moment of the day was when a women stopping and said, “Wait, I just saw this book somewhere…” Ah, my grass-roots / shameless self promotion effort is paying off.

Overall it was a beautiful Spring day at the market and the perfect start to an unforgettable mother’s day weekend. If you see us at another market, stop by and see what’s new. And if you haven’t adopted the bliss tradition yet, I hope you’ll consider gifting bliss to observe the mini milestones in a loved one’s pregnancy.


mother’s day gift guide

Mother’s Day is just a week away. If you haven’t figured out your plans you better get started and gift bliss is here to help! We’ve put together a list of sure-fire gifts to please the mom (or moms) on your list. And as always, we make it easy to gift. If possible we have provided a link to the shopping source (just click on the photo)!



long distance mom

If you’re going to go with a classic bouquet of flowers the trick is to make it personal and public. Every women loves to receive flowers at work, it’s a public display of love and affection. Flowers are a good choice if mom lives far away and you won’t be able to spend the day together.

The best way to deliver a personal bouquet is to skip the FTD route and seek out an independent florist in her area. Also, skip the roses, they are over-priced and too generic. Call the florist yourself and ask what’s in season, what they have on hand that’s beautiful and will last. They are the experts and they’ll be happy to give advice. Be sure the filler flowers are something modern like eucalyptus rather than baby’s breath and you know you have a good florist.

Make the note personal, add an inside joke or tell her something you don’t say often enough.

If you put a little extra thought into it, an ordinary bouquet of flowers can become the visual symbol of love it’s meant to be. Mom will be blown away by your thoughtfulness!


breakfast in bed

Another classic is made intimate by dad and the kids. Every hard-working mom should get breakfast served in bed on occasion. Let mom sleep in a bit while you cook and prepare a lovely tray. Remember a small vase of flowers and the kid-made cards! After the loving delivery and once mom has read cards and doled out kisses

leave her alone to sip coffee and savor your culinary creations in peace.

The best thing about this gift is that you don’t need much of a budget to give mom a taste of luxury! (click on the beautiful photo below and discover a clever recipe for egg in the hole toast served up by a cup of mai)





















daughter to mom

My latest gift discovery has a much longer shelf life than cut flowers. Birch Box is an online beauty store with the brilliant idea of a monthly samples subscription, customizable to each woman’s wants and needs.

Mother’s Day will last all year as she receives her little box of goodies in the mail each month.

It’s an amazing bargain at just $10 a month and at that price you may be tempted to buy one for yourself too! Don’t be deterred if you end up on the waiting list. Click on the women’s subscription and if they say you have to wait, no worries, it’s just like giving any subscription. Include a picture of a birch box inside the card to mom, explaining what she can expect to receive, and give her a bottle of nail polish or other favorite beauty product with the card as the symbol of the upcoming gift. Then when Birch Box contacts you that your subscription is ready sign her up!

daddy to mommy

Ok daddies, listen up! You can’t go wrong with thoughtful jewelery for your baby-mama as long as you pay attention to her style. Buy what she actually wears, don’t waste money on a bracelet if she never wears them. Also, take note if she wears silver or gold tones (some women mix and match which will make your job easier). Here are my favorites for mother’s day whether she’s given you a nest full of babies or just that first little heir. Baby’s initials in tiny letters or the number of kids she is raising are especially popular with young moms.

Check out Etsy.com for the best customized, hand-made jewelry on the web.























foodie mom

Mom’s job usually requires a lot of time in the kitchen and for those who have made a passion out of this daily task here’s the perfect gift. There is a huge selection of customizable cutting boards on Etsy.com. The beautiful wood can be etched with a meaningful quote or cut into the shape of her favorite state or city. Mom will keep & use this quality gift for years to come.



day off

You know your wife is in the ‘trenches’ of motherhood if she wakes up with kids during the night, is potty training or changes more than 10 diapers a day. The gift of actual free time alone is the very best gift you can give this exhausted mommy, give her the day off! She may resist the idea at first but that’s just mom guilt kicking in about not spending mother’s day with her offspring. If you insist that you’ve got things covered on the home front and give her the freedom to pamper herself a bit she will thank you in the end.

You can even go the extra mile by scheduling a few services at a local spa.

Days like this are few and far between and she will remember your generosity for a long time.


Spa and Wellness

get active

Sometimes an experience is more valuable than any other gift you can give. A day together outside bike riding, hiking, or playing at a park makes for a memorable experience on mother’s day. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch and snap a few pictures with mom with her kiddos to secure the memory.





A gift is a visual symbol of love, so however you choose to honor the mom(s) in your life this Mother’s Day be sure to let her know how much you love and appriciate all the things she is and all the things she does for everyone else.