Holidays

My 4 Favorite Christmas Movies

My 4 Favorite Christmas Movies | Writing Between Pauses

Last year, I wrote about the 5 Christmas movies that I have to watch every single year. Those 5 movies put me in the holiday spirit and I consider them absolute classics. 

I thought I'd share 4 new favorite Christmas movies to give you a little inspiration if you need something to watch as the holiday approaches. Forrest and I have been watching these on repeat, so they are kid- and mom-approved! 

1. Christmas Family Vacation

"You let a toddler watch this movie?" That's what you're probably asking yourself. Short answer, yes... the TV edited version that they play on Freeform at least. One day, Forrest was particularly sickly and bored, so I put on Freeform to this because I needed a little sanity. He really enjoyed it. And to be fair, I've been watching this movie since I was 6 or 7 and I'm totally fine. Mostly. 

It is absolutely a Christmas classic though, that kind of movie that is about how Christmas can go so, so wrong, but still be really fun. 

2. Elmo Saves Christmas

Do you have a toddler? Do you need to entertain them for, say, 90 minutes? 

Elmo Saves Christmas runs for 90 minutes--it's a full-length film! And it's not cobbled together Sesame Street segments, but an actual movie. It's also... really kind of good. I will absolutely sit and watch this with Forrest. It's that good. It's narrated by Maya Angelou as well, which is about as Sesame Street as it gets. 

3. Elf

Confession: it really pained me to put this on my list because, honestly, I find Will Ferrell to be so annoying. I used to not be able to stand Elf, it was one of the few movies that I would absolutely turn off and be mad about having seen even a few minutes of for a while. But it's really grown on in me in the last few weeks. Maybe because Forrest loves it (as I sigh thinking about what it teaches him about being a grown man) but maybe because, like the Grinch, my cold heart is melting a little bit. 

4. The Year Without Santa Claus

These claymation classics used to be on all the time when I was little, so I think of them as The Christmas Movies... but I feel like they're on so much less these days! The Year Without Santa Claus is basically the story of Santa taking a year off (because he has a cold) and the shenanigans that follow. It's cheery, Christmas-y, and totally a classic. 

4 Ugly Christmas Sweaters for Under $60

4 Ugly Christmas Sweaters for Under $60 | Writing Between Pauses

I love ugly Christmas sweaters. This isn't a controversial or even new opinion. Ugly Christmas sweater parties have become incredibly popular and it feels like the internet is always trying to outdo each other with their sweater. Personally, I like to keep my clothes wearable, so the light-up, bow-adorned, bauble-covered options aren't for me. If you want to get in the spirit, but don't want to go all out, I found 4 options for you: under $60, wearable, and cute/ugly enough to be part of the crowd at a Christmas party. 

1. Dinosaur Sweater, $18.95

So, this is actually a children's t-shirt, but if you're looking for something last minute to wear, it's a good choice: you can get it in the largest size and layer it under a cardigan, plus since it's on Amazon, you can get insanely fast shipping. Also, I think a dinosaur wearing a Santa hat is just the cutest thing on the planet. 

2. Unicorn Sweater, $26

When I originally picked this sweater, the women's version wasn't sold out--luckily, the men's version isn't and it's actually way uglier and cooler. The unicorn is breathing green fire. Sign me up! For only $26, it's a shoe-in for ugliest sweater award. Add some festive bows to really kick it up a notch.  

3. Corgi Sweater, $24.99

I picked some t-shirts for this post because, truthfully, many of us aren't in climates that get cold cold. This corgi ugly sweater t-shirt is the perfect combination of internet funny, ugly, and cute. You've got sweater pattern. You've got breathable cotton. You've got cute corgis. And it's $24.99? 

4. Ugly Cat Sweater, $34

For the cat lover, this sweatshirt is actually so cute it hurts me a little bit. It comes in white or pink, so you have two amazing choices. You won't be winning the ugly sweater award, but you will be getting compliments from all the cat aficionados in your life. 

4 Tips for Blogging Through the Holidays

4 Tips for Blogging Through the Holidays | Writing Between Pauses

Whether you blog professionally or for a hobby, I think we can all agree that sometimes keeping up posting, scheduling social media, and promoting our blogs can be really difficult. Especially during the holidays when things can get hectic and stressful fast. 

Every November and December, I inevitably experience a few moments of just not being able to get to my blog or stay on top of things. It seems easier to let my blog slide--which I inevitably regret when I'm doubly behind come January, having missed posts that I desperately wanted to have up before the new year. 

I've been scouring the internet and collecting the best advice to stay blogging through the holidays. Here's what I've found. 

1. Auto-Schedule In Advance

I think these days, auto-scheduling is the law of the land when it comes to blogging. Back in my Locked Out days, I would sit down, write a post, and post it then and there. That was it! These days, I usually have at least a week of blog posts scheduled out. When it comes to the holidays, or filling in gaps where you'll be on vacation, scheduling comes in handy. 

Alongside scheduling, that requires you to have your content worked out in advance. I have a running editorial calendar for each month so I always know what I need to write and when it will be posted. 

2. Take Part in Blogging Challenges

Honestly, getting my Blogmas content ready for December really helped me step it up this month! It's only the 13th of December, but I have content scheduled through Christmas and beyond. Taking part in Blogmas (or other blogging challenges) is a good way to write content in advance and always have something to motivate you to keep going. 

3. Write Shorter Posts

This is a big one. Not every single blog post needs to be super long, involved, and heavily researched. Short, quick blog posts that share a quite inspiration, a thought, a few tips, etc. can be just as meaningful. A prime example of this is the fact that my post from Blogtober about my 4 favorite teas is one of my most popular blog posts of all time. 

4. Step Away from Social Media

I think the most important thing to do is that once you get content scheduled, a few promotional tweets scheduled, and everything ready for the week of the holidays... step away. Don't worry about it. Do everything else that you need to do, but don't worry about your blog! Step in and check in the evenings, make sure all your social media is going fine, but it's ok to take a break and enjoy the holidays too. 

4 Hot Toddies Just for the Holidays

4 Hot Toddies Just for the Holidays | Writing Between Pauses

I love hot toddies... but I don't hold myself to the typical hot toddy definition. A hot toddy, traditionally, is some mix of spirits topped with hot water and lime. Basically, it's warm, watery alcohol. That doesn't sound exactly appetizing, does it? But replace that hot water with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or hot apple cider, and you've got yourself a deal. 

For this round up, I gathered my four favorite hot toddy recipes that deviate from "the traditional". Whether you love hot cider, tea, or coffee, I've got something for everyone. 

1. Tea Hot Toddy

This recipe uses black tea, apple cider, ginger, cloves, and honey, so if you're a little under-the-weather this month, it's the perfect drink; but add a little bit of rum to make it a party drink. I use chai tea (one of my favorites from my list here, of course) and a high quality, local apple cider. Yum! 

2. Hot Peppermint Patty

Love hot chocolate? Love peppermint? This creamy, delicious hot toddy is for you. This isn't just peppermint schnapps added to hot cocoa mix; this is schnapps, creme de cocoa, and creme de menthe blended with hot cocoa. (I would use the Starbucks Marshmallow hot cocoa, because it's my favorite.) 

3. Apple Cider Hot Toddy

This is really similar to the tea hot toddy, but using green tea instead of chai (interesting twist!) Add extra lemon and a slide or two of apple for an extra apple twist. 

4. Holiday Hot Toddy

This is a coffee hot toddy, which is actually my favorite kind. It combines coffee, whipped cream, and rum for a delicious, creamy, treat. 

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for: Bloggers

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for: Bloggers | Writing Between Pauses

In keeping with my gift guide series, I wanted to include a gift guide for a group that's very hard to shop for. I'm talking bloggers, of all shapes and varieties: body positivity bloggers; fitness bloggers; mom bloggers; lifestyle bloggers; fashion bloggers; and everyone in between. 

Blogging, and being an influencer, is big business these days. And most bloggers tend to be the kind of people that if they want or need something for their business, they just go ahead and get it. Even if it's something they just personally want, they aren't the type to just sit around and think about it. 

So if you love someone who is a blogger (and perhaps they've sent along this post to help you out with your shopping), this post is for you. 

Rose Gold Phone Stand | Writing Between Pauses
Marble Notebook for Blogger | Writing Between Pauses

1. Rose Gold Phone Stand

A phone stand comes in handy when you're working on your computer and also keeping track of all those notifications (like on Instagram). This one is rose gold, lightweight, and very affordable. Perfect for the girl with everything who just needs a hand, er, stand. 

2. Marble Notebook 

The blogger stereotype of loving marble is getting a little tired, isn't it? But I have two marble items on this list and by golly, it's not going away any time soon. This notebook is perfect for finally starting that bullet journal or just keeping track of posting schedules, content ideas, and more. 

Marble Adhesive | Writing Between Pauses
Floral Laptop Case | Writing Between Pauses

3. Adhesive Marble

Another day, another marble. If you've ever wondered how all bloggers seem to own marble surfaces, look not further. It's actually not a surface... it's vinyl cover. This final cover! And you can never have enough. You can use this adhesive marble on cups, boards, your desk... anywhere that needs a little cleaning up. 

4. Rose Pattern Laptop Case

A blogger's laptop is her key to success and this case is both affordable, cute,and roomy enough for everything, including a planner, notebook, and more. It's also perfectly Instagramable, so you're basically providing content with it! 

5. Items from the Beauty Crop**

The Beauty Crop has affordable, cruelty free, and all natural make up--perfect for any blogger who likes looking good and trying new things. I recommend the Espresso Yourself eye palette**, the Lovable Nudes Set**, and the Friday Night Lights Make Up Kit**. 

**Note: Links marked with double asterisks are affiliate links. This just means that I receive a small compensation from every purchase made through this link; this helps me keep Writing Between Pauses going. But believe me when I say, every recommendation is made honestly. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here

Why We Don't Believe in Santa

Why We Don't Believe in Santa | Writing Between Pauses

Writing this post is really difficult. For a while now, Danny and I have gone back and forth on whether or not we should introduce the idea of Santa to Forrest. Before he was born, we debated about it even more. Now that he’s 2 years old, it’s really hard to not have Santa in our lives. Every TV show, every movie, has Santa; believing in Santa is something children are encouraged to do. 

And if you’re on the fence about whether or not Santa is something you want your child to believe in, it can be extremely difficult. Explaining to Forrest at his current age that Santa isn’t real isn’t exactly easy. The difference between “pretend” and “real” is incredibly thin for him; he knows he isn’t really feeding his baby doll with a plastic spoon. But he also doesn’t really get that the movies we watch aren’t real, either. When we took him on Pirates of the Carribbean at Disneyland (this was a mistake, remember?), we realized that, to him, that's all technically real; differentiating between "real" and "fake" at 2 years old is extremely challenging.  

Let’s start at the beginning though. 

Why Don’t We Believe in Santa? 

This is the question I get asked the most. “Why don’t you want Forrest to believe in Santa?” 

It’s not that I have anything against Santa. And if other parents choose to do “Santa”, that is fully their right. I still struggle with whether we’re doing the right thing or not. 

What I do have an issue with, however, is the idea of making Forrest think that if he is “good,” he gets rewarded.

To me, I want to raise Forrest to be a good person, regardless of whether he gets a reward for it. The reality is that sometimes we have to do the right thing and we never get recognized for it; sometimes being good is just for the sake of being good, not receiving an award. The idea of bribing my child to be good, so that he will be rewarded in the near future, doesn’t sit right with me as a parent. I wouldn't bribe him to do anything else in life, so why would I present Christmas as a bribe to be "good"? 

That isn’t to say we won’t talk about Santa. 

What We’ll Do Instead

We still want to watch Santa movies, talk about Santa, and read stories about Santa. Santa Claus is a fun story and it is an essential part of Christmas. Just because we won’t encourage Forrest to believe that Santa is real (and judging him for his actions so he can get treats), doesn’t mean I want him to miss out on Santa in general. 

We will, however, present Santa as a fun story and game. Instead of, “Santa will only come if you’re good and in bed tonight!” We’ll say something like, “Tonight, we’ll play the Santa game: you go to bed and when you wake up, we’ll have put presents out!” This way, he still gets to have the fun of presents “magically” appearing, but without actually believing in Santa. 

Do I worry he’ll ruin it for other kids? 

This is another question I get frequently and it makes me very uncomfortable. I know some parents take believing in Santa very seriously; they consider it equivalent to religious beliefs (we can thank the Polar Express for that metaphor), as well as tied to childhood innocence. To not believe in Santa, it seems, is paramount to being forced into adulthood or losing their innocence. 

As I said, every parent has the right to approach Santa how they wish. It’s truly no one else’s business. But that being said, I don’t think I should have to worry about my son “ruining” Christmas for another child. Frankly, there are going to be disappointments in life; if my son not believing in Santa disappoints another child, well, that's just kind of part of life. I don't really have control of what he does and doesn't tell kids in the future. 

There are always going to be kids who never believe in Santa (I never did; I think I was 4 when I told my mom I knew it was her) and there are going to be kids who believe in Santa for perhaps longer than they should (I’ll never forget breaking the news to my best friend when I was 13). Sometimes, your child will be disappointed; they will be told something (like that Santa isn’t real) you wish they hadn’t been told. That’s just the reality of being a parent! It's up to you to deal with those situations. 

To me, it’s equivalent to food choices. Some parents choose to feed their child extremely healthy, like foods with no added sugar. Some parents (like me) walk the line between super healthy and “fun” (like fruit juices and Goldfish crackers). My child eating Goldfish crackers while yours eats kale chips (or yogurt or whatever) doesn’t mean that I shouldn't let my son eat Goldfish crackers; we’ve made different choices and maybe our kids will be disappointed with what other kids have or how their households work. Again, that’s just part of life; learning to deal with it is fundamental and trying to always prevent them from being disappointed or jealous is just going to lead to a needy, spoiled child. 

But we should talk to our children about never making other kids feel bad about how their household works or what they have access to; and how while they might feel jealous of other kids, it is not the fault of the other child that they have something or believe something that we don’t. 

Conclusion

More than anything, I hope presenting Santa as a game and story (instead of something real) will help us enjoy Christmas even more. We’ll never have a disappointing Christmas where Forrest learns that Santa isn’t real and we’ll never have to struggle with him being good only to receive rewards. To me, as a parent, those are two things I really believe in. 

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for: Creatives

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for Creatives | Writing Between Pauses

Every year, I try to think up some creative ideas for, uh, creative people. Creatives (that is, designers, writers, digital media workers, and the like) can be a fussy bunch, especially when it comes to gifts. They have really particular tastes and styles, so buying a gift can be really difficult. 

The truth is, I know I can seem difficult to shop for. However, I’m the kind of person who is happy with a gift card. For many, they don’t want to go that route for gifts. This gift guide is for you; if you’ve got a persnickety creative in your friend group who you need a gift for, look no further. 

1. Paper Trophy

Paper Trophy | Writing Between Pauses

I love these paper trophies! 3D paper art in the shape of a trophy (like a buck’s head) is a cute, quirky decoration for even the most finicky creative. I’m particularly fond of the rhino head and unicorn. They’re definitely more on the spendy side, so you can always go in with a few friends. 

Fidget Cube | Writing Between Pauses

2. A Fidget Cube

Most creatives work in high pressure environments; they tend to be always “on.” Fidget cubes are perfect for people with nervous energy they need to expel. I got one for my husband and he absolutely loves it. And for only $10, it’s the perfect little gift to go alongside a larger gift! 

Typography Cookie Cutters | Writing Between Pauses

3. These fancy cookie cutters

How cute are these? I’m obsessed with them. For the graphic designer you know, they’re so cool; and they’d be perfect for curated Instagram photos. (Please, just take a moment to imagine it.) Also, they’re only $18, so reasonable even for a Secret Santa gift! 

Grid & Guideline Notebook | Writing Between Pauses

4. Grids & Guides notebook

This notebook is perfect for visual thinkers… or for anyone who likes to keep their notebooks tidy. I just graph notebooks to keep my writing even. This one, especially, has a very good aesthetic with a variety of grids, guidelines, and tables. (Again, it would look great in an Instagram photo too!) And at less that $15, you’ll have a little leftover for an add on gift. 

My Holiday Bucket List

My Holiday Bucket List | Writing Between Pauses

I'm really going to try to not set unreasonable expectations for my holiday season this year. Really. I promise. 

Every year, I want to go ice skating and drink hot cocoa and play somewhere with snow. I want to go to the mountains 

Every year, I barely do any of those things. Realistically, as an adult, planning activities is much less fun; driving up to the mountains isn't exactly my cup of tea, either. Most likely, we will have a few freezes, I'll worry about the pipes in our house and well freezing, and we will spend leisurely evenings at home, watching movies. 

Doesn't that sound better anyway? 

So, this year, I'm keeping my holiday bucket list... reasonable. Nothing extravagant; just the fun, Christmas-y basics. Here they are.  

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