Five last minute Mother’s Day gift ideas:

How can it be May 1st already? It feels like 2024 is flying by at lighting speed. Maybe it’s because we’re involved in Little League. Or because work is busy and I’m also working on adding a new service – College Planning Roadmap (more on that soon). I can’t believe that Mother’s Day is around the corner – Sunday, May 12th. For anyone looking for some inspiration and something special to show all those Cat Moms, Dog Moms, Kid Moms, Grandmoms, Aunts, or anyone else you’d like to celebrate and let them know how special they are and how thankful you are to have them in your lives, these ideas are for you!

Note that I do not receive any incentives if you choose to use one of these ideas. They are some of my favorite activities and experiences (hint, hint, family) so I hope you get a chance to enjoy them too!    

  1. Traditional with a twist –

McMenamin’s Anderson School in Bothell has a Mother’s Day Buffet from 9am-2pm on Sunday the 12th. Note that reservations are required. The website says to call the front desk for reservations: 425-398-0122. If you haven’t been to the Anderson School, it’s a lot of fun. It’s almost like going on a mini vacation especially if you plan ahead and pack your bathing suits since there is a heated saltwater swimming pool (North Shore Lagoon). Although, be prepared to buy your tickets a half hour prior to your start time. They sell hour-long sessions – Adults are $7.50 plus tax and Children are $6 plus tax (3 and under are free!). There are locker rooms to change. There’s also a tiki bar, movie theater, and gardens with fire pits to explore.         

  1. Self-care focused –

I feel like we could all use some more self-care. Especially moms. One of my favorite places to go to relax and rejuvenate is at a Korean Spa called Olympus Spa. There are two locations – Tacoma and Lynnwood. The one in Lynnwood has a yummy Korean restaurant in the building. A spa day pass is $53, and it includes the use of the pools, energy rooms, steam room, sauna, showers, and locker room. Bring a good book since no electronic devices are allowed except in a few designated places. But it’s good to have a break from all that stuff! There are also lots of services – the body scrub and moisturizing service are amazing. Although, if you’ve never had a scrub before, be sure to watch the We Bare Bears Spa Day beforehand (see scrub room)! I’m sure a gift card in any amount would be greatly appreciated!

  1. Indulgent –

Who doesn’t love ice cream?! The sundaes at Molly Moon’s are out of this world. It is worth the splurge. There are locations all over the Seattle area. We love the flagship location in old Bellevue since it’s such a great place to walk around and the Inspiration Playground is a lot of fun for the kids. Plus, how cool is it that Molly Moon’s donates at least 10% of their profits to food banks, equity organizations, and women and girl empowerment initiatives each year.

  1. Adventurous –

For those looking for a day trip and a little adventure, this might be for you. The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle plus a 15 minute drive (or 7 mile bike ride). It’s such a beautiful place. The ticket pricing listed on their website is Adults: $26, Children 5-12: $9 – although check out their website to confirm and reserve your tickets before you go ( There is a two-mile loop and lots to see along the way. Definitely bring snacks and water. From what I remember, there was only a gift shop and bathrooms available. We were able to take our 2-year-old at the time in a stroller – and we made it around the full loop! The Japanese Garden is beautiful and has been rated as one of the top 10 in the United States by Sukiya Living.

  1. Support local –

For last minute fresh cut flowers, head to Sprouts & Spruces Flower Farm in Issaquah. They are a small family run farm. They have a flower cart that is open on the weekends from 9am-6pm. The address is 4402 256th Ave. Check out their Instagram site (sprouts.and.spruces) to see photos of the flowers and arrangements available. If you go on a Saturday (between 12-4pm), a great place to stop for lunch is at Xochi, a taco truck, which made it on Yelp’s Top 100 US Taco Spots 2023 (see #30)!

Happy Mother’s Day and let me know what you’ll do to celebrate!

Happy National Plan for Vacation Day (It’s a real thing!)

For those of us who didn’t know: Today is National Plan for Vacation Day. I was not aware of this day until I saw an email from Vacasa – through the sea of emails, it caught my attention. Apparently, it is celebrated annually on the last Tuesday in January to remind us to start planning vacations and take time off from work.    

Here are a couple facts to encourage you to start planning: According to Sorbet’s 2022 PTO report, 55% of PTO for employees goes unused in the U.S and studies show that planning for a trip boosts morale, reduces stress and prevents burnout.

In honor of this day, here are six tips to get you started on planning vacations.

Start planning early:

Typically, I encourage clients to start planning vacation, trips, kids’ breaks, kids’ camps and any planned medical procedures in the Fall for the upcoming year.

But, if you’re anything like me, you might not have done that yet and are now scrambling to get things organized (or waiting for friends or family to get things organized) for 2023.

Remember: This is a work in progress and will most likely need to be adjusted throughout the year.

Establish your vacation calendar:

Find a calendar that works for you and your family. It could be an old school paper calendar or an electronic one. It doesn’t matter but pick something that both you and your partner can easily access and will use!

Start adding important dates such as school closures, day care closures, birthdays, planned medical procedures, and any other big milestones or events for the upcoming year. Review month by month. It can (potentially) take some time to capture all these days but it’s worth it. 

Write down your total PTO days for the year:

This might sound silly, but a lot of people don’t even know how many PTO days they have for the year. Take the time to look it up through your benefits website or ask your manager how to find this info. Ask your partner to do the same thing. You’d be surprised by how many people don’t know or are not aware of their spouse’s schedule. Also note any upcoming work anniversaries and potential increases in number of days off. If you have an unlimited number of vacation days, now would be a good time to pick the number of days that you plan to take off for the year. 

Decide if you will save any PTO days:

Does your employer allow you to roll-over any unused PTO days to the following year? Will the days be forfeited? Do you want to carry over any days to the following year? Perhaps you want to extend a maternity/paternity leave or plan a trip overseas. There are many reasons that you might want to roll-over your days but make sure you won’t lose them beforehand! Check your employee benefits and note that HR policies can change. My spouse’s employer recently updated their policy to only allow a maximum of five days to roll-over in 2024. In prior years, you were allowed to roll-over up to ten days.

Now for the fun part…start brainstorming! I suggest doing this separately and then sharing with your partner and even with your kids.

Determine how you want to use your time:

What do you want to do together as a family? Will you use any for personal/self-care or hobbies?

What activities do you want to do? What helps you destress? How can you use the time to recharge?

Are there any traditions or rituals that you want to create?

How often do you want to take off work? Monthly, quarterly, when kids are on breaks, or when kids are not on breaks – lol 😊 Start to pencil in a timeline for the various trips to see how they fit into your calendar.

For any trips: Will they be day trips? Local? International? Prioritize where you want to go (since there are typically more places than time available). I recommend keeping a list of local, regional, US and international locations that you would like to visit that gets updated regularly.

Establish an annual budget:

Do some research to determine a rough estimate for the trips that are on your list above.

If you have an annual budget, this can help guide the number of trips for the year, the length of the trips, the mode of transportation (car rental, flights), and the level of comfort (camping versus five-star hotel).

If you don’t have an annual budget, you could review your trip list and pick your top two trips. Add up the estimate for the two trips and then divide by twelve. Will you be able to save this amount each month to go toward these trips? Try it for a month or two and then adjust if needed. Or perhaps you will receive a bonus or RSUs this year that you can allocate toward your annual trip fund.

Let me know what trips you’re planning for 2023 and if you’re stuck, this is the type of work that I collaborate with my clients on.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational, general information, and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Jessica Kirwin, and all rights are reserved.