2017 Gift Guide

(This post contains affiliate links – meaning, if you purchase from any of these links, I will get a small kick back at no cost to you.)

Choosing gifts for your kiddos can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be!

I’ve asked some moms of kids ages 0-5 what their children’s favorite toys/activities are and have compiled an Amazon list for you. Please feel free to add toys to the comments and I will periodically update the list!

Don’t get hung up on the age titles. A lot of these gifts can be useful for most of the ages – I just broke it up based on the ages that all the moms gave me. You may also see some repeats!

Under 1 year

1 year

  • Roller Coaster – My daughter has this at speech and she absolutely loves it. I can’t get her to leave!
  • Water Wow – These are so clean – and my 2 year old and 5 year old love them. Just fill the pen up with water and draw away. They’re made by Melissa and Doug so you know they stand up to a lot.
  • Weebles – I had no idea these were still a thing until someone mentioned them. Definitely picking some up for my little one.
  • Touch and Feel Books – These never get old in our house and Amazon is full of all different kind.
  • Lift the Flap Books – Also a huge hit in our house! They are great for working on fine motor skills.
  • Baby Stella & Friends & Accessories – Another favorite in our house. About 18 months was when my daughter really started being interested in baby dolls. These are soft and can be thrown in the wash when they decide their baby Stella needs a drink of water. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…..
  • Mega Blocks – Ages 1-2 are a great time to introduce Mega Blocks. Their big size are perfect for toddlers’ little hands.
  • Drum Kit – Toddlers like noise. Need I say more?

2 years

  • Matchbox cars – These were huge when my kids turned 2. Amazon has a ton of them and lots of accessories.
  • Roller Coaster – This is one of those toys that is found in a few age groups.
  • Dress Up Clothes – for boys and girls. Kids love to pretend play. Don’t forget superhero capes, too!
  • Water Wow – Found in a few of our age groups! 😉
  • Weebles – Yes, they’re still a thing!
  • Floor Puzzles – Keep it simple with these large floor puzzles.
  • Train Table – 2 years old is about when kiddos start to have favorite things – superheros, trains, cars, babies, etc. Train tables are huge at this age, too!
  • Elefun – This fun game uses an elephant’s trunk to shoot out little butterflies and you have to catch them! A great game to start teaching taking turns.
  • Career Figures – These little wooden guys are so cute – and start teaching kiddos about different career people!
  • Mega Blocks – Great for this age and so close to Duplos!
  • Luvabella Responsive Baby Dolls – I had no idea what these were until I looked them up. They are exactly as they sound. Responsive baby dolls! They look so fun.
  • Look and Find Books – These are great for the car, doctor’s office, basically anywhere kids have to wait.
  • Magic Track Sets – These are so cool. They are tracks kids can set up by themselves (or with help) and they glow in the dark.

3 years

  • Felt Story Boards – and all their accessories. It’s like reading a book, only you don’t have to read it to them and they can choose the outcome! 😉
  • Matchbox cars – don’t forget all the accessories, too!
  • Cabbage Patch Little Sprouts – Think “little people,” but they look just like Cabbage Patch Dolls.
  • Dress Up Clothes – for boys and girls. Kids love to pretend play. Don’t forget superhero capes, too!
  • Magnatiles and Magformers – Just like Legos or building blocks, but they don’t click together. They stick together! Always a hot item.
  • Leap Frog DVD’s – I am convinced this is where my kid learned his alphabet. You can browse all of them here.
  • Grossery Gang – These will be a hot item this year too, I think. They are little figurines (which seem to be all the rage right now) and you can even grab some cases to carry them.
  • Play-doh – If you’re like me, you hide the play-doh and really only let them play with it when you’re in serious need of quiet time 😉
  • Plus Plus Blocks – A new fun and interesting building block for the kids who can build for hours.
  • Squigz – Another fun building toy! These would be great for sensory seeking kids who need the push and pull effect.
  • Zoob – More building stuff!

4 years

  • Shopkins – I am not sure these need an explanation. These have been pretty popular toys for a while. You’ll find carrying cases on Amazon, too.
  • Dress Up Clothes – for boys and girls. Kids love to pretend play. Don’t forget superhero capes, too!
  • Fingerlings – Apparently these are the hot toy this year. Personally, I don’t get it but I’m not a kid! They sell out pretty quickly.
  • Magnatiles and Magformers – Just like Legos or building blocks, but they don’t click together. They stick together! Always a hot item.
  • Microscope – My oldest has a microscope and will grab anything to put it in there and look at it.
  • Baby Alive – Another cute baby doll is the Baby Alive. You can feed her and her poop comes right out! Haha. Sorry, apparently I’m 4.
  • Twozies – These are sort of like the Shopkins, Grossery gangs, etc. They’re little figurines and you absolutely have to collect them all, duh!
  • Blind Bags – So there is this new phenomenon where people sell bags with figurines that you obviously have to collect all of them. But you don’t know what you’re getting until after you buy it. Whoever created this phenomenon is a genius. Because we’re suckers for it in our house, too. We do a lot of the superhero ones here.
  • Play-doh – If you’re like me, you hide the play-doh and really only let them play with it when you’re in serious need of quiet time 😉
  • Plus Plus Blocks – A new fun and interesting building block for the kids who can build for hours.
  • Squigz – Another fun building toy! These would be great for sensory seeking kids who need the push and pull effect.
  • Zoob – More building stuff!

5 years

  • Nerf guns – And don’t forget the darts!
  • Legos – My 5 year old wants ALL THE LEGOS for Christmas. It is the only toy he is allowed to keep in his room, mostly because I don’t want to be tripping all over them in the playroom.
  • Magnatiles and Magformers – Just like Legos or building blocks, but they don’t click together. They stick together! Always a hot item.
  • Imaginext sets – Fisher Price makes these super fun figurines and accessories. We have a Batman one and it gets played with every single day.
  • Osmo – So I had never heard of this but it goes along with an app for your iPad. You can get all these accessories and is a huge hit for kids who love science and math. You watch on the screen and do the work on the table. Osmo just knows what you’re laying out. So cool!
  • Plus Plus Blocks – A new fun and interesting building block for the kids who can build for hours.
  • Squigz – Another fun building toy! These would be great for sensory seeking kids who need the push and pull effect.
  • Zoob – More building stuff!
  • Mario Monopoly – Um, I want this.
  • Board Games – I think I could play board games all day. Just sayin…
  • My Little Pony – Another classic toy that is still around.
  • Science Kits – My oldest turns everything into a science experiment so we are big on these in our house.
  • Art Supplies – Everyone is an artist, right?

All ages

  • Kindle Fire – great for road trips, waiting rooms, heck, even just quiet time. I don’t judge screen time! Keep an eye out for these on Black Friday!
  • Nest Swing – my daughter has one of these at speech therapy, and like the roller coaster, I can hardly get her to get down from it.

Have an idea that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments! Happy Shopping!

The Best Unsolicited Baby Advice

So, you’re pregnant with your first baby. Yay babies!

I am sure by now, you have discovered that as soon as you make that fun, super cute Facebook announcement, EVERYONE is a baby expert and EVERYONE has the best advice out there.

“Cherish this time!”

“Breast is best!”

“You can’t hold a baby too much!”

“Don’t eat hot dogs!”

“Sleep when baby sleeps!”

“Do you have heartburn? That means baby will have hair. Buy some bows!”

“You are carrying low. You’re having a boy. I just know it.”

“Are you going to find out the gender? You totally shouldn’t!”

The list goes on. and on. and on. and on. so. much.

Now, I am no expert, but I went against a lot of this advice. I ate hot dogs, I had heartburn like a champ and both my babies had no hair, I had no idea what “carrying low” meant. But what I did learn in my 2 pregnancies is you have to take any and all advice with a grain of salt. The bottom line here is it is YOUR baby and if you make any mention at all about said baby, you’re going to get advice or suggestions.

In my moms group, I asked what everyone thought about this advice. I approached them with this question:

“Imagine you have a friend who knows NOTHING about being pregnant, having a baby, labor – nothing. What is one piece of actually helpful advice you would give them?”

The helpful advice started pouring in, and I’m here to compile it for you.

First and foremost – take any and all advice with a big old grain of salt. Like I said earlier, this is your baby. Whatever you (and your partner) decide will (probably) be the best decision. Don’t want to buy that fancy rock n play? Don’t. When I was pregnant with my second, it was all the rage. Everyone told me to buy it. I didn’t – because it was expensive and our house was tiny. Also, I had no intention of my kid rooming with us. And you know what? My kid is a great sleeper.

Accept all help offered. I wish I had followed this one more. If a friend of yours calls you up and asks “what do you need,” don’t be afraid to tell her “I need my dishes done.” But also don’t feel guilty if you want to be the one to do those dishes. Which brings me to my next point….

Ask for help. Don’t feel guilty if you’d rather do the dishes than sit with your newborn. Caring for a newborn can be incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. My oldest was an awful napper, so once I got him to sleep, I never wanted to start anything because chances are he was going to wake up in 45 minutes anyway.

Don’t be afraid to tell someone “no.” If someone wants to come over and you want alone time, do not be scared to tell them to buzz off. Maybe not in those words, but you know what I mean. 😉

Hormones are real and they suck. You will hate and love your partner 15 times in one day and that is normal. You will laugh and cry at the same commercial. If you thought hormones were crazy when you were pregnant, just wait until your body is trying to level out after having the baby. This too, shall pass.

Don’t put your babe on a schedule just yet. You are 2 strangers getting to know each other. It’s going to take time to figure each other out, and that’s okay. Keep an open mind and expect the unexpected.

You are not a failure. I know you’re going to go through days where you think you are. If you and your baby survived the day, you did not fail.

What I feel to be most important – it’s okay if you don’t feel an instant connection with your baby. It really is. You are both strangers to each other and you’re supposed to just click. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, months, whatever. I wish someone had told me that it was okay to not feel that instant connection. I felt like a horrible mother. But trust me when I tell you, it will come.

And last, but certainly not least. If you have a boy, point that penis down when you change his diaper 😉

I hope this helps. Is there something you would suggest to a newly pregnant friend that we didn’t list here? Tell us in the comments!

NEW Subscription Box COMING SOON

Hey there moms!

Does Pinterest totally overwhelm you?

Do you see an awesome at home activity for your little one but then cringe at the idea of having to go to a separate store to buy all the supplies?

And what are you going to do with all that extra baby oil? You have zero use for baby oil.

I am here to save you.

I am launching a subscription box this winter. you choose the age of your child (birth – kindergarten) and I send you a box each month with 2-3 activities that you can do together at home. You will also get access to an exclusive group where parents and caregivers chat about activities that they’re doing at home, tips and tricks about keeping your kiddos engaged and suggestions for games/activities.

I also will include an activity guide with your box. It will explain in depth HOW to do the activity and WHY you are doing the activity. It will also give you suggestions on how to differentiate it if your child isn’t feeling the intended purpose. Abandoning is not always necessary!

To keep up with my progress (including information on a local to Naperville, Illinois focus group), please enter your email here. Keep a look out for your confirmation email in your junk or promotions tab!

I couldn’t be more excited about this launch!

An Open Letter Of Apology To All The Moms I Used To Judge

To the mom who just hardly made it to the grocery store looking halfway presentable herself, with her toddler’s hair out of whack, no shoes and socks on (because she took them off in the car and you didn’t feel like fishing around for them) and dirt on her sweet little pink pants. I apologize for thinking you didn’t care enough to get you and your kid dressed and ready for the grocery store.

To the mom trying to leisurely stroll through the aisles of a clothing store while her toddler handles her cell phone like it’s an indestructible dog toy, just so she can get some peace while shopping, I apologize for thinking you are careless and spoil your kid because you are allowing her to play with your cellphone – your lifeline.

To the mom who hands her preschooler an iPad during dinner at a restaurant because it’s the only way you and your husband can enjoy some peace and quiet because you can’t afford a babysitter or have no family to help you. I apologize for thinking “why don’t you just have a conversation with him?”

To the mom who turns on the TV for her kids from 7am – 5pm just so she can have some time alone or because she doesn’t feel like “momming” that day. I apologize for thinking you should really just spend time with your kids.

To the mom who dropped her kid off at daycare when she very clearly had the day off, I apologize for thinking you should be keeping him at home and spending time with him.

To the mom who “allows” her kid to climb into bed with her in the middle of the night or who climbs into his bed when he needs her because of a bad dream or just to fall asleep, I apologize for thinking you were just spoiling him – when in reality, that was the only way to get him to go back to sleep and at 3am, you do what you have to do.

To the mom at church on Christmas or Easter with her son in dress pants and a dress shirt but ratty old gym shoes because he refused to put on the nice ones you bought because they were “too tight,” and that’s just not a battle you chose to fight that morning. I apologize for thinking you should be coming to church every Sunday and your son should have something much nicer on his feet than ratty old gym shoes.

To the mom running errands with her toddler (who can clearly walk) strapped to her back in a carrier because if you allowed her to walk, she would tear through the store like a tiny tornado. I apologize for thinking you should let her explore and learn how to walk properly through a store.

I apologize to all of these moms because I am that mom now.

My toddler’s favorite activity is tossing her shoes, socks and hair tie around the car on any trip longer than 30 seconds.

My preschooler spends more time in front of the TV than I’d like to admit so I can get stuff done and he won’t bother me.

I have handed my toddler my cellphone while it plays music so she’ll sit still in the cart at the store.

I have a carrier in my car at all times for quick errands when I don’t feel like allowing her to run around like a crazy person.

I don’t wear jeans simply because “baby weight” is now my normal, even though my kids are almost 5 and 2, and none of my jeans fit anymore. I don’t want to spend the money on new ones and can’t bear to go shopping, finding out what my true size might be.

I have “allowed” my oldest to climb into bed with us in the middle of the night because he “needed to.” I lay with my son every other night until he falls asleep because he “needs it.”

My kid will spend hours in front of the iPad watching ridiculous YouTube videos so I can get stuff done or just not have to answer one of his 4000 questions of the day.

Now that I am a mom, we are all on the same team. So I don’t judge you anymore – I salute you. I am happy that you found a way to get through your days with still keeping your sanity. Let’s keep supporting each other because you don’t know what happened in that mom’s house 15 minutes prior to the activity that you’re judging. And she knows nothing about yours.

Sensory Balloons

Sensory balloons – otherwise known as stress balls – are a great addition to sensory play. You can mold, squish and manipulate them. I love when my kids bust them out because they’re a great stress reliever for me, too!

dollar store sensory balloons with close up of child's hand

(This post contains affiliate links)

We’ve done sensory bins and we’ve done sensory bottles. I love sensory activities (obviously) so I wanted to keep going.

If you search on Pinterest, these can be called “sensory balls.” I couldn’t bring myself to call them that – because I’m 10 years old.

Anywho, I bring you Sensory Balloons.

Like most of my activities, you can find these contents at the dollar store (The Dollar Tree, to be exact.)

latex balloons used for sensory balloons

If you check out my other post about sensory bin filler ideas, a lot of those little things can be put into balloons for sensory balloons. Here’s what we chose:

*Black beans
*Cloud dough
*Play doh
*Water beads

You also should grab a funnel because it will help you a lot – trying to do this without one is pretty frustrating. Just make sure you grab a funnel with a big enough hole for the beans.

child's hand filling a balloon with beans for sensory balloons

The beans, cloud dough and rice went in best in small amounts. The play doh we just rolled into “snakes” (or, if you’re 10 years old like me, poop) and dropped them into the balloon. When they start  to reach the top, blow up the balloon a little and then let the air out. Smush all the play-doh together at the bottom of the balloon. Then keep adding.

The water bead one was done one by one, but that’s only because I didn’t have a funnel near me and I’m lazy 😉

Dylan also wanted to make faces on his and who am I to tell him no? Go to town, bud.

green sensory balloon with a face drawn on it

I think I might actually make a few to sit at my desk – they are good stress relievers.

This little lady ran off with them while I was trying to snap some pictures. Trouble written all over her face. Don’t let her fool you.

smiling child running off with sensory balloons

If you try these out, please let me know in the comments!

And as always with my activities, please be smart 🙂 After I filled the balloon, I put it inside another balloon to be extra safe.

Infinity Jar Review

I have a confession.

I love (and believe in) essential oils. I went a long time trying to avoid them. But then they helped my husband stop snoring. So I was hooked.

Randomly, as I started using them, Infinity Jars emailed me and asked if I could do a review on some of their products. So I chose what I wanted and they sent me these rollerballs for my oils.

As soon as they came, I filled them up. I did 2 diaper rash blends because at the time, Reagan had a real bad diaper rash. One stayed at home and one stayed in my purse.

Then I did a blend for Dylan of Roman Chamomile for calming. I am now “that mom” that whips out her oils when I know he is feeling anxious.

The first thing I loved (and noticed) about these bottles is that they come with labels. The labels are reusable and they stick to the bottle. I don’t have to guess which bottle is which.

The color is pretty, but it also has a purpose. It blocks out visible light which keeps its contents fresh for a super long time. They have more than roller balls – all kinds of kitchen glass jars.

They fit so neatly in my diaper pouch in my purse – and they don’t leak. Which is awesome!

Use our coupon code MOSTLYUNDERCONTROL20 for 20% off your purchase! Expires June 9th.

Easy Date Ideas

Date your spouse. This is something I preach.

Real talk – after my husband and I got married, I wasn’t truly sure I wanted to have kids. My biggest fear was that I was going to lose “us.” I was going to lose what made us a family. I didn’t want to get caught up in a kid, only to forget the reason why that kid was here.

That was deep.

Then it just clicked one day. I remember – I went out to dinner with my mom and I just cried. I told her my fears and she reassured me that it didn’t have to be that way. Mama to the rescue.

My husband and I try to go out once a month, just the 2 of us. We have lots of family and friends that are available to watch our kids at the drop of a hat (you know who you are) so finding a sitter is very rarely difficult for us.

But sometimes, finding that sitter isn’t always easy. So I put together a list for you of at home and out of home date ideas. I challenge you to try them all!

In Home Ideas
-Game Night
-Cook dinner together
-Put puzzles together
-Adult coloring books
-Watch your wedding video
-Bonfire in the backyard
-Wikipedia chat/challenge (Pull up a random Wikipedia page and ask each other questions about it)

Out of the house
-Driving range
-Mini golf
-College campus tour nearby (guided or self-guided)
-Tour of your own city
-Farmer’s market
-Day date
-Cooking class
-Drive In movie
-Recreate your first date
-Spa day

Also, think about some of the things you do with kids, but subtract the kids. Movie, shopping, the zoo….you get to spend so much more time and energy on the actual event and each other than worrying about wrangling your kids.

Try it. I promise, you’ll like it.

Grocery List Staples

We have all been there. You just got home from work and you have zero desire to make dinner. Less than zero desire. But you are trying to be responsible so ordering pizza or picking up food just isn’t an option.  I know, first world problems.

I am there much more often than I’d like to admit – and I meal plan monthly. Someone asked in my recipe group for suggestions on easy meals to keep on hand when you’re in that exact situation. The lightbulb went off in my head and I decided to write a blog post with some ideas. Because I have staples that I grab at the grocery store when I do my monthly grocery shopping. Of course, I wanted to share. They’re great meals for when you don’t feel like cooking something extravagant (ie, more than 4 ingredients) or you forgot to thaw your meat (happens to be at least twice a week – I need a better system) or (which happened to us all the time) you have a crabby baby who needs your full attention.

Side note, if you are an organic/healthy eating family, some of these may not be for you, or you might have to make some modifications. If you shop at Costco, a lot of them are offered there in their organic version. I divided it into 2 lists – Frozen to Oven Foods and Pantry Foods. A lot of the Frozen to Oven Foods can be homemade and then frozen or store bought.

Frozen to Oven foods to Keep on Hand
-Frozen ravioli (meat or cheese)
-Frozen meatballs (we serve it with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes – Costco has a great all natural instant mashed potato mix)
-Frozen pasta skillet meals
-Frozen burritos (Costco has a great breakfast burrito)
-Pizza (always on our monthly meal plan at least once)
-Shredded chicken
-Hot dogs
-Bacon (for brinner)
-Frozen waffles
-Frozen fish filets

Pantry items for quick meals
-Canned soup
-Powdered “just add milk or water” soups
-Dry pasta and jarred cheese pasta sauce
-Red pasta sauce – I always have at least 2 jars
-Spaghettio’s (I told you this wasn’t healthy town)
-Alfredo sauce
-Cans of beans and tomatoes and DIY chili seasoning
-Corn bread mix

Sometimes I put these meals on my monthly meal plan and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on how much grocery shopping I can do!

What Your Wife Really Wants For Mother’s Day

Are you wondering what your wife really wants for mother’s day? Well wonder no more, my friend. I have asked some real life, tired, over worked mothers what they want – and I’m sharing the “secret” with you.

What your wife really wants for mother's day. Hint - it isn't flowers!

Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas…All of these holidays are to celebrate something, right? Mother’s Day is no exception.

Being in all these mom groups on Facebook, I feel like every single year on Mother’s Day, someone is posting saying they were not celebrated on Mother’s Day. They got nothing.

Yep, you heard that right. NOTHING. When you have small children who don’t know how to express their gratitude (or simply don’t have the money or means to shop), as the partner, you need to step in.

Every year when I read these posts I am baffled. Baffled that there are men out there who do not celebrate their wives/girlfriends on Mother’s Day. If this is you and you are reading this right now, shame on you.

These women made you a father for those kids you love so dearly. These women sacrificed their bodies to become a mother for these littles. They worry all day about them and they bust their asses to be the best mom they can be.

Everyone loves to be appreciated. So I reached out to my mom friends and asked them….What (attainable) thing do you really want for Mother’s Day?

I have compiled some of the best non-material (and material) gifts. What you do with the information is on you. I am here to help 😉

What your wife really wants for Mother’s Day

  • Sleep – A pretty popular one was simple – just let her sleep in. If that means you have to sleep on the kid’s bedroom floor so you can intercept them climbing into bed with mom, then so be it. Whether your wife is a working mom or SAHM, sleeping in is a thing of the past! Maybe even take the kids out of the house early in the morning. Treat them to breakfast (but make sure you bring some home for her!)
  • No Responsibilities – One mom suggested she wants to do their regular outings like they normally do on the weekends, but she doesn’t want to make the plans or pack the diaper bag. She wants her husband to do it all. This idea got the biggest reaction from our group of moms. Someone also said to just spend the day with them – she feels her husband doesn’t spend any time with her and her son.
  • Do It Yourself – In relation to this one, lots of other moms said they want a day (if you’re feeling extra nice, a whole weekend) where no one needs them to tell them what to do. You finish eating? Wash your dishes. Dirty clothes on the floor? Put them in the hamper or just do the laundry.
  • Silence – alone time. Movie by themselves, shopping alone, whatever. Feeling brave? Take the kids out for the whole day. Not just until nap. The whole dang day. And don’t call her to ask her questions. Just figure it out.
  • Other mothers – Moms don’t want to have to worry about other mother’s Mother’s Day plans. Split up your weekend and spend Saturday with the other mothers.
  • Material Gifts
    If your wife’s love language is gifts, here are some ideas for you…
  • Pampering – Spa day, manicure, pedicure, massage. Or all of the above. Send them away for the day and do all the planning for her.
  • Jewelry – The popular theme with jewelry was child related jewelry. So, stackable rings with the kids’ names on them, bracelets with their names, necklaces with their names. Google will be your best friend.
  • Cleanliness – Clean the house. If you don’t trust yourself, spring for a cleaning lady. We just want a day where we don’t have to clean. Or lift a finger, really. Also, a few of the ladies wanted a clean car.
  • Family photos – Moms are usually the ones to schedule these so if you take the initiative, that would be so much more meaningful.

Bottom line, put some thought into it. And involve your kids when you can (handmade cards, painting on a canvas, whatever). Speaking of which, here is a cute printable you can give your kids. Ask them the questions and fill it out for mom. I promise, she’ll smile.



Shows on Netflix You Don’t Want to Miss

Last week I wrote a post about how “me” time is so important for moms. One of the suggestions I made (or should have made if I didn’t) was to pick a tv show to watch when the kids aren’t around. So I compiled a list of Netflix shows to binge watch. Some are old, some are new. Some are still going and some are done. I personally hate waiting so it is hard for me to pick up a new show that isn’t quite over yet. But I made this list for you with descriptions (and a printable to keep with you!)

Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events
Genre: American Comedy
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris. Need I say more?
Synopsis: This is the story (now Fresh Prince is stuck in my head) about 3 orphans who lose their parents. (Sad trombone). But their guardian (good old NPH aka Olaf) is evil and is trying to steal their money and inheritances. It is based on the books by Daniel Handler.

The Fall
Genre: British Drama/Crime
Stars: Gillian Anderson
Synopsis: The Police Superintendent (Anderson) is sent to help with an ongoing murder investigation. They realize it is a serial killer who is now on the loose and is targeting professional women. Somehow, this dude is getting away with it and living a “normal” life alongside these murders. They had me at “serial killer.”

Orange Is The New Black
Genre: American Comedy Drama
Stars: Laura Prepon
Synopsis: Lots of ladies. In jail. This 30-something, seemingly law abiding woman gets convicted of moving drug money for her girlfriend 10 years prior. Clearly she has made some changes in her life. But now she has to figure out how to survive 15 months in a minimum security jail for women without her fiancee, family and friends.

Genre: American Comedy Drama
Stars: William H Macy, Emmy Rossum
Synopsis: A remake of a UK TV series, Shameless takes place in Chicago. The dad (Macy) has 6 children and is a deadbeat single father. He is often times drunk and/or in search of terrible life decisions. In turn, the kids have to learn to care for themselves.

Genre: American Comedy Drama
Stars: David Duchovny
Synopsis: Another story about an alcoholic. This one is a writer, father and boyfriend. He relocates to California and just can’t seem to write anymore. The show follows his struggle to hold down a relationship with his long time girlfriend and their daughter. This is a true sex, drugs and rock and roll story.

Grace & Frankie
Genre: American Comedy Drama (I am sensing a theme here)
Stars: Jane Fonda, Lilly Tomlin
Synopsis: The story centers around 2 men, very late in their lives, who run a law firm together. Their wives are not huge fans of each other, but tolerate each other because their husbands work together all the time. Well, now they’re forced to commiserate together because the 2 men have decided they are in love with each other and want to be together. It follows the lives of all 4 of them and their adult children.

The Office
Genre: American Mockumentary
Stars: You know.
Synopsis: Life at the office. Also a spin off of a British TV series, the office explores all the different personalities that you will find in your office/at work. If you haven’t seen it, climb out from under your rock and fire it up on Netflix. It is hilarious.

30 Rock
Genre: American Satire
Stars: Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin
Synopsis: Another great comedy to watch – after you crawl out from under your rock. It is loosely based on Tina Fey’s experience as a head write on SNL. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it. It is hilarious and filled with one-liners you will never forget.

The Crown
Genre: Biographical Drama
Stars: Someone people I’ve never heard of and John Lithgow
Synopsis: Even though it stars a bunch of people I’ve never heard of, I can’t wait to start it. It depicts Queen Elizabeth’s life from her wedding in 1947 until today. Her married life, family life, everything.

Marvel Series Shows
(Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist)
Genre: American
Synopsis: Each one of the shows follows a different superhero and tells their story. If you’re into superheros and drama, these are the series’ for you!

13 Reasons Why
Genre: American Drama
Stars: Kate Walsh and some unknown teenagers – but not for long.
Synopsis: I am a few episodes in but everyone I’ve talked to that has finished it has said it is so good. Heavy, but good. It’s the story (based on the novel of the same name) about a teenage girl who commits suicide and the reasons why. She goes through the different people who “assisted” in her suicide. Not for the faint of heart, and makes me want to put my children into a bubble. But so good.

Black Mirror
Genre: British Science Fiction
Stars: Different cast each episode.
Synopsis: I had a really hard time getting a good synopsis on this one,  so I’ll copy exactly what Netflix says: “This sci-fi anthology series explores a twisted, high-tech near-future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.” Sounds deep.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Genre: American Sitcom
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, JON HAMM (love me some Jon Hamm)
Synopsis: Kimmy Schmidt is 29 years old and just has been rescued from a cult in Indiana where she was one of 4 women prisoners to a Reverend (Jon Hamm) for 15 years. She is trying to adjust to normal life and finds a male roommate and becomes a nanny for a socialite in New York City.

House of Cards
Genre: American Political Drama
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright
Synopsis: House of Cards is an adaptation of the BBC mini series of the same name and is based on the novel. Politics, power-hungry men and drama. Spacey’s character runs for Secretary of State but loses. He becomes determined to be something even bigger. Drama ensues.

Stranger Things
Genre: American Science-Fiction Horror
Stars: Winona Ryder and a whole bunch of other people who are more popular now.
Synopsis: Set in Indiana (a fictional town) in the 80’s, it follows the diappearance of a local boy. His friends seem to care more about it then the rest of the town so they set out to do their own investigation. Strange things happen (obviously) and shit gets weird. Don’t turn your nose up at the words “science fiction,” because that’s exactly what I did and I ended up loving it. Season 2 can’t come soon enough. IT will take place one year after season 1 ended.

Parks & Rec
Genre: American Political Comedy
Stars: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman
Synopsis: Very much executed like The Office – it is sarcastic and full of one liners. It’s another oldie but definitely a goodie. It follows the life of some of the members of the parks department in Pawnee, Indiana.


American Crime
Genre: American Anthology Crime Drama
Stars: Felicity Huffman, Regina King, Timothy Hutton
Synopsis: Heavy shit. Real heavy shit. Season one followed the case of a seemingly normal man who is murdered. His wife was there, but is in a coma so they have to figure the whole thing out without her. It comes out that this guy was involved with drugs, so the mom (Felicity Huffman) has to deal with not only losing her son, but dealing with her recovering gambling addict ex-husband and coming to terms with the person her son really was. They also explore the “crooked” justice system and jails. The other 2 seasons are just as heavy – if not heavier. But it is so, so good.

How To Get Away With Murder
Genre: American Drama
Stars: Viola Davis
Synopsis: I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT WHEN I TALK ABOUT THIS SHOW. It took over my life. It was sad. I would wake up in the morning before my kids to knock out a few episodes. I actually had to take a break from it because it was feeling so real and I was getting so angry at some of the characters. #sorrynotsorry. Anyway, it follows a law professor (Davis) and her 5 students as they get entwined in a murder. But it is so much more than that. The flashbacks can get confusing so you really have to pay full attention. But I literally would sit on the edge of my seat watching it. Ok, I have to calm down now. Hahaha #momlife

For a printable list of these shows to keep on hand or take a screenshot of, click here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a 24/7 live in nanny for the next few weeks. I have some shows to watch.