Friday, August 30, 2013

Win One Of My Favorite Baby Products!


Back in February I stumbled across a baby product that literally changed our day to day for the better. 

Frustrated with those mesh feeders and how ridiculously difficult they were to clean, I took to Amazon to search for an alternative. I had never heard of Kidsme before but as soon as I discovered their silicone feeders, I immediately ordered two of the available sizes and counted down the days until their arrived on my doorstep. 

Once they arrived, I didn't waste a second tearing them open. I quickly assembled them and filled one with a few large chunks of soft banana. I handed it over to my then seven month old and he went to town. When he was done, I simply rinsed it under hot water and guess what? IT WAS CLEAN. I didn't have to spend a second trying to pick and pry smushed food from inside the silicone snack.  What's more? I popped it right into the dishwasher and didn't have to worry about it not getting cleaned. 

It was remarkably easy to both use and clean. 

Such a game changer and such a vastly different experience than the traditional mesh feeder. I immediately put together a quick blog post to share my experience. You can read about it here. 




A few weeks ago, a rep from Kidsme reached out and thanked me for writing about them. How neat, right? My pleasure! Not only that but they also graciously offered to give away one of my favorite baby products to date, a Kidsme silicone feeder, to one lucky reader! 

To enter is easy. Simply complete the entries below to be entered for your chance to win! Good luck to all those who enter. I received no compensation for any posts written in association with Kidsme corporation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kidsme products are available both on Amazon and their website



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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Time I Cried Over A Scholastic Book Form.

Before becoming a mom, there are certain things you try to imagine with your children. You imagine swaddling their tiny brand new bodies, kissing every inch of their soft sweet skin as you hold them close to you. You imagine rocking them to sleep, taking their first steps, celebrating their first birthdays and suffering their first skinned knee. I don't know why, but I never once gave thought to their first days of school or how emotional I would be about it. 

Earlier this week Carter and I drove to school together for Meet the Teacher Day. I woke up that morning feeling such a wild mix of emotions, it's almost hard to put them all down in words. Part of me felt like this was such a momentous occasion- I would be meeting the woman who would be responsible for cultivating curiosity and creativity in my firstborn. For teaching him and loving on him for two and a half hours, two days a week, while he was away from me. 

She would become an almost stand-in Mother for him and it is because of this that I have such a fond place in my heart for preschool and kindergarten teachers.

I was excited. I was excited for Carter to begin this new adventure. After all, I know how awesome of a kid he is. How inquisitive and smart and funny and passionate. I couldn't wait him to share these attributes and for others to see the awesome in him. 

At the same time, I worried. Of course I did. I worried about how he would handle the time away from me. The new environment. I worried that, for some crazy reason, he wouldn't make any friends. 

Each day for the last several weeks, we would talk a little bit about going to school. About how much fun he'll have and all the things he'll learn and the new friends he will meet. We talk about how he'll have a teacher and some helpers in his class and how he'll get his own cubby to store his brand new tote bag in. 

Each time we talked, he would become more and more excited. 

As we stepped through the doors of his new school, ready to meet the teacher, he placed his little hand in mine and I swear I had to fight back tears. We walked/half-skipped up to the registration desk and before I could even say a word, Carter had already introduced himself and said he's here to meet his teachers. 

My heart almost burst. 

After signing a few papers and picking up our tuition packet, we were off in search of the yellow teddy bear that would signal his new classroom. He spotted it right away and I stood back as he went to open the door. 

I held my breath as we stepped into his classroom, glancing down to see his reaction. 

He walked right into that room, threw his hands out to his sides and announced "Hi! My name's Carter!" I half-smiled. As his teacher stepped forward to introduce herself, he ran right up to her and gave her the biggest hug. 

And that's when I realized I'd still been holding my breath. As I let out the biggest sigh of relief, I couldn't help but laugh. The other moms standing around also let out a giggle. A few said, "Well, someone is ready!" I laughed to myself and sheepishly replied, "At least one of us is!"

That's my boy. 

I glanced around the room, it was everything I had hoped it was going to be and more. Memories came flooding back of my preschool days, the few standout things I remember about them. Particularly the kitchen and doll corner. How everything smells like school. A mix of old books and wax crayons and cleaner.   

Within minutes Carter was across the room emptying a bin of cars and trucks alongside a little boy named Lane. Their little blonde heads pushed together as they dug through the bin, comparing cars and searching for the best ones. 

As the moms gathered together and made their way across the hall for the conference portion of the morning, I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder one last time. I felt my heart leap into my throat as Carter didn't even lift his eyes. 

That's my boy. 

I feel like now would be a good time to mention that I was the youngest mom in the room by a good 5-7 years. Most moms present had (multiple) older children who had already been through many, many First Days. They were pros and I was a little jealous of their calm, indifferent demeanor and steadfast knowledge that everything was going to be OK. 

Internally, I was freaking out. Freaking out about having to make small talk and about my firstborn starting school. Freaking out about schedules and projects and how would I remember picture day? And show and tell day? And? And? And...

Our chairs were arranged in a semi-circle, each chair laden with a packet of papers topped with with a bright yellow teddy bear name tag bearing the names of our children. I picked up my pile of goodies, sat down and as I rubbed that little laminated bear in between my fingers I felt that familiar burn in the back of my throat, the sting in my eyes. 

As the teacher began to introduce herself, I found myself with more reassurance than ever that I had made the right decision. Pre-K 3 was going to be so great. For both of us. I couldn't stop smiling as she detailed her experience, her love of children, a typical day in her classroom. 

That smile only grew wider and wider as we thumbed through the Welcome pamphlet and chatted about Picture Day, Christmas Pageants and field trips. At this point I was practically beaming. I glanced around the circle at the other moms and could tell instantly that I may as well have had First Time At The Rodeo tattooed across my forehead. 

I didn't care though. This was awesome. 

And then, tucked neatly into the back of our welcome packet, was the Scholastic Book form. The thin newspaper pages so familiar between my fingers. I could feel the tears begin to prick my eyes. I wasn't going to cry. Not now. Not over the Scholastic Book form. 

But I couldn't wait to get home and sit down at the table with Carter, like my mom did with me for so many years, and go through that book form, page by page and book by book. Begging and pleading with her "for just one more." When those books were delivered, my pile was always the biggest. 

I couldn't wait to do the same with my son. To hang his art work all throughout my house. Colored pages and projects spilling out from cabinets and cork boards. I couldn't wait for him to fill me in on his days. Telling me story after story about circle time and science time and arts and craft time.

As the conference portion ended and we shuffled back into the classroom, my eyes immediately found Carter, playing an elaborate game of race track with Lane. 

As the classroom began to empty, his little hand found mine and he looked up at me and said, "Let's go home, Mom. I can't wait to go back to school tomorrow." 

That's my boy. 

It looks like we're both ready for school this year. 

 


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Day I Saw Myself Through My Son's Eyes.

I wasn't wearing anything fancy. In fact, if I'm being honest I hadn't even showered that morning or the morning before that. I was standing in the kitchen wearing a pair of ripped up jeans and a flow-y top, one that I now appreciate more than ever as it hides that last little bit of kangaroo pouch that I can't seem to make disappear after two babies. 

I don't mind, really, that extra squishiness. Each time that the boys press their fingers into my soft middle, I smile. I didn't always smile though. In the beginning, I would wince, tug my shirt down and quickly try to turn their attention to something else. What is with their affections for my middle place? Like moths to a flame, they gravitate there.

As I smile, I try to remind myself that the once taught skin that graced my midsection stretched and grew and stretched and grew to accommodate not one but two beautiful boys. That as my rib cage grew, my hips followed suit and grew as they grew, providing a safe and warm place that was their beginning. I try to explain to them that's where they were knit together, cell by cell and piece by piece until they were baked just right to come into this world.

I try to remind myself of the Amazing over the Squishy and it works, most of the time. 

But back to the point of this post. 

I wasn't wearing anything fancy when one afternoon my three year old wandered over, grasped the hem of my top in his fingers, studied it, and twirling it between his little thumb and forefinger, looked up at me, my hair all helter-skelter, not a single stitch of make up applied, standing there in the slightly messy kitchen and ever-so-matter-of-factly called me a princess. 

He exact words were, "Mommy, you're a bee-YOO-tiful princess." 

Just like that. And you know what? He meant it.

My first thought was, "Ha! What a silly boy! I look awful! I'm tired and I haven't showered in two days and I'm almost certain I slept in this top," but after I carelessly patted his head of thick, beautiful blonde curls and muttered a half-serious "thank you," it struck me. 

I want to always see myself as my boys see me. 

Because despite all of my imperfections, the things that I like least about myself, the perpetual bags under my eyes, the lack of makeup, the wrinkles that hug my eyes, the softness of my middle, the things I try so often to hide about myself, they see none of that. 

In their eyes I am perfect. 

I am a beautiful princess. I am the best pancake maker. The fastest Hot Wheels racer. I am the funniest teller of Knock Knock Jokes and the best Reader of Stories at bedtime. I am the prettiest Mommy and the Greatest Mommy they've ever had. Of course I'm the only Mommy they've ever had but regardless, I'm the best one.

They don't see the bags under my eyes or the exhaustion that hangs heavy on my shoulders some mornings. They don't know my pants size or how many pounds I've lost or gained or how I sometimes wonder if my husband ever misses the body of that college co-ed he fell in love with over ten years ago.

My boys love me more than anything in their whole little world despite those times I lost my patience and raised my voice. Despite the times I was The Enforcer of Time Outs and Force-Feeder of Broccoli. 

I am a beautiful princess standing right there in the kitchen, a midst a sink full of dishes and two rooms above a dryer full of laundry that's on it's fourth dry cycle.

How awesome is that?

I know as they grow older there will be outside influences that will try and alter their way of thinking. Influences that will tell them I am not perfect. That beauty is synonymous with perfection. They will learn words like skinny and fat and slow and dumb. Words that sting and bite and hurt. I can only protect and shelter them so much before it is my responsibility to let them stretch their wings and move away from the protection of the one that grew their tiny bodies. That served as the place where they were knit together, cell by cell and piece by piece. 

Before becoming a Mom, I thought that I would only have to worry about those words with a daughter. That I would need to be conscious of my own thoughts and words in order to raise her up a confident woman who appreciated real beauty. Beauty in imperfections. Beauty in brains and compassion and selflessness.  

But it's not true. Just because I don't have daughters doesn't mean I'm off the hook. 

I'm raising two little men who will one day, by the grace of God, become husbands. Not only is it my responsibility to clothe them and feed them and raise them up to be kind, respectful and successful but it is also my responsibility to raise them up to be patient, kind, compassionate men who appreciate real beauty. Who can look beyond imperfections and shortcomings and failures, giving both themselves and their partners grace for their mistakes. 

Who can stand in the middle of a messy kitchen and look at their partner in life, standing before them exhausted, a little soft, a little weary, maybe wearing last night's sleep shirt, and tell them, with one hundred percent honesty, that they're the most beautiful princess they've ever seen. 


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Easy As... Pizza? {Pizza, 3 Ways}



Growing up, Friday nights were always special in our house. They not only marked the end of a busy week but we were guaranteed pizza for dinner and what kid doesn't love pizza? My love for pizza has morphed over the years from plain and simple to semi-gourmet and although we don't always reserve a special night for pizza in our house these days, it's definitely something we make at least once a week! 

I wanted to pop in and share three simple and easy recipes for homemade pizzas that are sure to be a hit in any household. Pardon the iPhone photos, I hadn't planned on sharing these recipes on the blog but I've gotten lots of recipe requests from sharing them on Instagram

For each of these pizzas, I use either white or whole wheat pizza dough bought fresh by the pound from my local grocer. I typically buy five or six pounds at a time and freeze them in 1lb. dough portions. Be sure to wait for dough to come to room temperature before rolling.


First up, Potato, Bacon and Havarti Pizza:

Ingredients: 1lb. pizza dough, 2 small red potatoes, Havarti cheese, 3 slices of uncooked bacon, 2 leeks (or scallions), kosher salt and pepper (to taste).   

- Start by rolling out your dough. I find that using corn meal instead of flour keeps it from being too sticky. 
- Once your dough is rolled, put down a layer of either sliced or shredded Havarti cheese. I'm a cheese-lover so I tend to err on the side of more is better. For this pizza I used 10 thin slices of Havarti from the deli. 
- Next, layer with thinly sliced red potatoes. 
- Slice your 3 strips of bacon into 1/2 pieces and toss on top. 
- Chop your leeks and add them as the final layer. 

Bake at 475* for 20 minutes. 


Next, Spinach, Artichoke and Bacon Pizza:

Ingredients: 1lb. pizza dough, 2 cans marinated artichoke hearts in quarters, 3 slices of uncooked bacon, 2 cups baby spinach, 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese, whipped cream cheese (about 4-5 ounces), 1/2 cup grated Parmesean and kosher salt and pepper to taste. 

- Start by rolling out your dough. Use cornmeal to keep it from sticking. 
- Spread cream cheese over dough and top with artichoke hearts, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut your bacon into 1/2inch slices and place atop your pizza.  

Bake at 475* for 18-20 minutes.

Lastly, Buffalo Chicken Pizza:

Ingredients: 1lb pizza dough, 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1 cup wing sauce, garlic salt, pepper and chili powder (1/4 tsp each), 1 rotisserie chicken with the meat plucked. 

- Start by rolling our your dough. Use corn meal to keep it from sticking. 
- Bake your dough at 400* for 7 minutes. Once done, pull from oven and brush with wing sauce. Put down half the amount of cheeses you've set aside for the recipe. 
- In a mixing bowl, toss your plucked chicken with garlic salt, chili powder and pepper. Add in your 1 cup of wing sauce. Toss until thoroughly covered. 
- Add your chicken to your pizza and top with remaining cheese. 

Bake at 400* for 15-18 minutes. 

Although edited, original recipes for Potato, Bacon and Havarti Pizza as well as the Spinach, Artichoke and Bacon Pizza can be found on RealSimple.com. Buffalo Chicken Pizza recipe originated on Taste of Home.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Breastfeeding. Crossing The Line Between Legal And Appropriate.

Let's get something straight right out of the gate. I am of the "Feed Your Baby However You Deem Best" school of mothering. My first baby was formula fed from months four to eleven and my second is still attached to my boob three to four times a day at fifteen months old. 

I don't believe that I shortchanged my first nor do I believe that my second is smarter, healthier or more well adjusted because of the decisions I made in regards to feeding them. 

I am a major proponent of breastfeeding if and when applicable. I've nursed my babies on a boat, on a plane, on a train and in no less than ten states. You need a boobie cheerleader? I will more than gladly be your girl but this post isn't about all that. 

This post is about how Lucy Eades embarrassed me as a breastfeeding mother.  

I find myself feeling a little (okay, a lot) frustrated and embarrassed by the recent actions of Lucy Eades, the Texas breastfeeding mother who "put a woman who asked her to cover up in her place." 

If you're unfamiliar with Mrs. Eades, and how she was granted this esteemed title, you can watch the viral video here

The long and short of that video is that Mrs. Eades was breastfeeding her relatively new baby in a public recreation area while in attendance of her older daughter's dance class . An employee of the rec area asked Mrs. Eades to cover up on not one but two separate occasions to which Mrs. Eades launched into what can certainly be considered a semi-tirade professing her legal right to breastfeed wherever and whenever. I shouldn't even have to mention that the employee also offered her a more "accommodating" place to nurse her baby to which she declined but for what it's worth, that occurred as well.

The behavior and tone of Mrs. Eades during this encounter screams nothing but lactation activism to me, the kind that makes me cringe a little. As does the fact that her husband whipped out his cell phone to record the encounter saying, "this is going to be fun!" and immediately posting it to the family YouTube Channel as if to say, "look how poorly and unfairly my breastfeeding wife was treated!" 

This video, a flagrant "rah rah for breastfeeding mothers everywhere" sadly leaves a sour taste in my mouth, much like that of of curdled milk. Ironic, no?

Here's why.

I believe there is a fine line between what is legal and what is appropriate.

Lucy Eades was in attendance of her young daughter's dance class. In the video she is present before a reception desk with her uncovered breast in her baby's mouth, her husband at the ready with his camera.

This action alone screams, "Go ahead. Try and tell me I'm offending you. I dare you."

Mrs. Eades had every legal right to breastfeed in the public space of that recreational facility. She had every legal right to decline the use of another more "accommodating space" in which to feed her baby. Her husband had every legal right to video that encounter and post it to their highly popular family YouTube channel. 

I believe, however, what Mrs. Eades was doing, although legal, was very inappropriate given the situation and surroundings.

Comments have poured since the video's posting regarding how it was Eades' legal right to breastfeed in that building and how "society overly sexualizes breasts" and "breasts are for feeding babies!" 

Furthermore, many commentators feel that "maybe if more young children saw women breastfeeding, they wouldn't grow up so narrow-minded."

Where do I even start. 

It is not my responsibility as a breastfeeding mother to serve as a lesson to educate your child on the purpose of women's breasts. If you want your children to grow up believing that breasts are first and foremost not sexual objects but rather vehicles designed to feed and nourish offspring that is your responsibility as his or her parent. Not mine. This isn't National Geographic.

I will raise my sons to know and understand that breasts have dual purposes and I do not expect him to learn this from watching other mothers breastfeed their children.

Yes, some women's breasts can feed and nourish babies. That is an absolute black and white truth but that is not simply their sole functionality. Breasts are also objects of sexuality to quite a number of men and women of the human race and whether or not that is the fault of society, media or evolution is a whole other argument that I am not prepared for nor remotely interested in. The functionality of breasts is two-fold. There is no getting around that and I'm not sorry but I don't see that's changing anytime soon. That proverbial horse is dead. Beat another.

Mrs. Eades didn't need to be walking up to a reception-type desk at that very moment with her baby exposed quite publicly at her breast. Her husband didn't need to be stage right with his camera at the ready.

This isn't a Mommy War. This isn't about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding versus formula feeding. That employee, from what I can gather from the video, wasn't shaming Mrs. Eades, telling her she shouldn't be breastfeeding her baby, but rather, the employee was simply asking that she show a bit of discretion about doing so in a public forum. The facility, declared proponents of breastfeeding, even offered her a more private space to do so.

This video is progressive sensationalism at its finest, a sucker punch to the boob of even myself, a breastfeeding advocate and mother who is so proud of her success in nursing her child for fifteen months.

Lucy Eades plays "victim" while she is "harassed" and "bullied" regarding the manner in which she is choosing to feed her baby. 

In reality, I feel worse for the facility employee who was on the receiving end of Lucy's tirade, a pawn in what can best be described as a publicity stunt. Popular YouTube Channel, say what? This attention-seeking video is a distasteful portrayal of what it's like to be a breastfeeding mother. 

I promise, we're all not that intense.

Just because I breastfeed my baby doesn't mean I need to display said action in all of its glory  and wait for someone to approach me and question my actions. Just because it is my legal right to do so anywhere and everywhere and without a cover, doesn't mean I should, need to or have to do so. 

If Mrs. Eades wants to make it her personal mission to #normalizebreastfeeding and educate the public, young children and men and women everywhere that it is her legal right to breastfeed  without a cover anywhere and everywhere, so be it. 

However, I believe there are other appropriate ways of going about doing so. 

Perhaps if she wants the public to respect her decisions, then maybe she ought to show a little discretion and respect theirs. This doesn't mean she needs to dress in a canvas poncho and feed her baby in a dingy bathroom stall, because I know that's exactly what some of you may interpret me as saying. 

She could have just as easily nursed her baby in a corner of that very same room without a cover and I'm 97% certain the public would have been none the wiser. I won't even mention how I'm sure she could have just as easily nursed her baby in her air conditioned car in the parking lot, too, because then you'll tell me that she probably doesn't even have a car. She probably walked there. 

Let me let you in on a little secret. You can be discreet while nursing your baby in public without using a cover. You can be discreet while nursing your baby in public without showing skin that may be confused as "sexual" in nature. 

I've been shamed for breastfeeding in public while using a cover. I've had men change their seats at a Panera because they felt uncomfortable while I nursed my infant son beneath a cover. Shaming a breastfeeding mother is uncalled for but shaming one who is showing discretion worse. It's undoubtedly a contributing factor to the growing percentage of new mothers who abandon nursing their babies during the first six months of life. 

Just as it's not my responsibility as a nursing mother to educate your children on the primary purpose of a woman's breasts, it's also not my responsibility to make you feel comfortable with my actions. 

I am not any less of a breastfeeding mother because I choose to do so discreetly.  However, I can certainly show a little extra respect and discretion if it means we can all coexist happily in a public space, something that I think Mrs. Eades can work on. 

But nobody wants to see a YouTube video of that, now do they?



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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

5 Lessons Learned While Potty Training My Pre-Schooler

We did it. We survived the so-called Boot Camp of potty training and lived to tell about it. I'm not going to lie, after that very first day I wasn't too sure we were going to make it. 

I always knew I would begin potty training my pre-schooler when he began showing signs that he was ready. I waited and waited for those signs and on the eve of his third birthday I began to realize that it may be a long time before that happens. 

That same week, however, I cut a check for the first two months of his pre-school tuition that would begin in early September. The same pre-school that mandates that all children be potty trained for the three year old class. 

I could feel myself starting to break out into hives. 

All I could think about was how deciding to potty train before he was ready would surely backfire. I assured myself that if it suddenly became too stressful that we would quit immediately and put off starting school. It certainly wasn't worth frustrating us both. 

I knew two things: One, I was running out of weekends to start and two, I needed a plan. 

I read this post and decided that I would try the Three Day Method. Allie did a wonderful job of explaining the method and so I decided against purchasing the pdf. I knew I wasn't too concerned with night training and so I wouldn't be tossing all of the diapers from our deck with a bellowing, "Halleluiah!" 

Although my pre-schooler had been using the "grown up toilet" on and off for number one throughout the last several months, I decided, at the last minute, that investing in a small kid's potty might be easier when it comes to doing number two. I hopped online and quickly ordered this one this one and threw in this this for good measure. That boy loves him some stickers.

Tip: Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize. If your child operates and operates well on an Incentive System, use it to your advantage and incorporate it into potty training! My child loves stickers and each day works really hard completing his "chores" so to earn stickers for his chore chart. Things like feeding the dog, watering the garden and brushing his teeth become that much more exciting when stickers are involved. 

At 1pm on Thursday we ditched our very first day time diaper and by Monday morning, I can say without a single doubt, that I am now the proud mama of a potty-trained pre-schooler. 

Here's what I learned:
 
5. Shit Happens. 

There is a good chance your kid will crap his pants at some point during his potty training adventure. I don't know why I was so surprised when, on the first day of potty training, my child crapped his pants. I guess in my head I thought, "Oh, once he starts going and realizes he's not in a diaper, he'll stop!" 

I was so naive. If the underwear is salvageable, save it. If not, don't hesitate tossing it. When you get down to number one, you'll see why. Try not to yell. It's very easy to get frustrated, especially that first day, and when he finally craps his pants and you crumple to the floor around 4pm muttering to yourself how you're not cut out for this, take a deep breath, hug your child and move on. It gets better, I promise.  

4. No matter how ready (or not ready) you are to potty train your child, success will be greater and stress will be lesser if you wait until your child is ready.

Even though my child didn't seem to mind when his diaper was wet or dirty, he had been using the "grown up" toilet to do number one for the last several months. Randomly we would ask him throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning and right before bath time if he wanted to use the potty. Excitedly he would answer "yes!" and so we took full advantage of that "readiness" for months. No pressure at all and it was only within the last several days that he began telling me when he had done number two in his diaper. He would grab a new diaper and wipes and run them over to me asking for a diaper change. That was the second sign I needed that whispered to me, "Go ahead, start. See what happens."  

Too many of my friends have started too early and very quickly their potty training adventure became a torturous disaster that took weeks, sometimes even months. I don't know what I would have done had our weekend not gone the way it did. Actually, I do know. I would have up and quit. 

3. Days will fly by when you're literally living from one timer ding to the next. 

The first two days of potty training were a blur of timer dings. Our first day, the timer was set for every twenty to thirty minutes. If he hadn't expressed an interest in pottying before the timer went off, I walked him into the bathroom where he would sit and try every twenty to thirty minutes. More times than not, he went. It helped that I was flooding him with fluids that first day. When he wasn't on the potty, I was asking him every five minutes if he had to go. 

It. was. exhausting.

The second day, I began to draw out the time, setting the timer for every forty-five to fifty minutes. If by the end of the timer he still hadn't potty'd, I would set the timer for an additional ten minutes. Believe me when I say this, those days flew by!

2. Nothing will make you act a fool until your child's first poop in the potty. 

I'm not going to lie, I cried. I cried big, fat tears when my child went poop on the potty for the first time. After dancing around the house, scooping him up and whirling him around the kitchen, I cried. 

I cried because I was so proud of him. I was so proud of me. For sticking with it and not getting dismayed too easily. It may sound crazy but potty training is officially the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent. 

Breastfeeding? Vaccines? A child who doesn't sleep through the night? All cake compared to the Three Day Method. 

1. Toddler brief are the cutest underwear in all the land.

You will never see a picture of my child on or near a toilet but a discreet picture of them in their underwear? Well I may just sneak one of those in because there is nothing cuter than tiny toddler underwear. Laundry just got a whole lot more fun since adding no less than forty pairs of brightly colored underoos into the mix. 

Laugh now but during those first two days of potty training even forty pairs of underwear may not seem like enough. Sure you could let your kid run around naked all day but I chose to keep him in underwear. I started our adventure with fifteen pairs and by the end of the first day I was on Amazon Prime checking out with an additional thirty pair. 

Trust me on this, you'll need them and while you're at it, grab yourself a bottle of wine or two before you begin. You'll need that, too. 


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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Head Back to School With One of FIVE $100 Gift Cards to Target!

Love of Family and Home


We all know how exciting Back to School shopping can be- the prospect of picking out new notebooks and matching folders, fresh boxes of crayons and colored pencils! Growing up, it was my second favorite time of year! 

Perhaps you're all set with your school supplies but are wanting to add a few fresh Back to School pieces to your Fall wardrobe! Regardless, who couldn't use $100 to Target? I know I could. It would at least cover that darn "cover charge" that gets me every time I walk in through those sliding doors! 

I'm teaming up with the same wonderful group of ladies (plus one more!) who brought you that amazing $1000 cash giveaway last year to give away five (!!!!!) $100 gift cards to Target. Be sure to visit their blogs listed above- you won't regret it and I promise you'll get lost for hours perusing their beautiful spaces and funny stories.  

No purchase necessary to enter. Be sure to read through the rules and regulations as listed in the Rafflecopter widget below! Good luck and thanks to all of those who enter! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Potties, Pinterest, OITNB and More.

It's that time again! Each week, when I remember, I'm becoming more and more grateful for Five on Friday. It gives me the five minutes I need to sit down and clear my head of all the crazy that's been building up all week! Be sure to visit Darci's blog and check out all of the other fabulous posts!

Five: Carter starts his first day of 3-year-old pre-school on September 7th which means I have approximately one month to get him out of diapers. I am a huge proponent of not rushing my kids to do anything until they're ready and this should be no different, however, the looming school deadline is giving me a bit of anxiety. Yesterday, I decided to start the Three Day Potty Method. Let's just say that my kitchen floor has never seen so much pee. At one point I had vivid flashbacks to walking around at one of my husband's college fraternity parties, floors sticky with beer and urine and god knows whatever else but only without the thumping bass and roughly ten pounds fluffier. I don't mean to sound whiny but (I am) and that shit is HARD. In all seriousness, we're doing great but I sure could use a stiff drink (or three).  


Four: As much fun and Pinterest-y as owning a home can be, I hate the maintenance. Each month it seems like our "House To-Do List" grows and grows. Last month we had to buy a new refrigerator, which, don't get me wrong, I love so much I could make out with it, but it wasn't cheap. This month we're looking at a new set of garage doors. Three months ago, we were supposed to start working on the built-in's in the playroom but my car needed new tires and brakes. I'm so excited to see what large purchase next month will bring, I can hardly stand it. I love being a grown up. 

Three: I love Instagram. If you're not following me, you're missing out on hoards of pictures of my kids, food, the occasional Sheepie and cocktails. It's basically my blog but cuter, less wordy and it doesn't have that lame anti-right click option. I think it's my favorite form of social media. 


Two: I finished Orange Is The New Black, loved it and now feel lost without a new show to stream on Netflix. I've never seen a single episode of Pretty Little Liars (gasp!) so I've been contemplating starting although I'm not super excited about it. We've already watched House of Cards and I'm hoping we can take a break from Arrested Development and start Prison Break. I can't believe I just wrote an entire paragraph about TV. What are you watching?

via google

One: Did I mention how hard potty training is? Because it is and it makes me whiny. So whiny I can hardly stand myself. The timer just went off which means there's only approximately twenty-seven trips to the potty between now and when my husband comes home from work. Twenty-seven. Time to go put my big girl panties on and deal with it, although mine surely aren't as cute as Carter's. 

Happy Friday!

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Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Kid Activities To Beat The Summer Blues

I know what you're thinking. 

It's already August and the dog days of summer are almost over. However, if you're anything like me you've kept a running list of the places you've wanted to see and the things you've wanted to do with your kids before the days get too short and that sweet summer sun melts into pumpkin-spiced beverages and cool, crisp air. 

With a little more than four weeks left until it's Back to School there's still plenty of time to sneak a few last minute activities in! In no particular order, here are five kid activities to beat the summer blues!



5. Grow A Garden


This doesn't have to be a great elaborate garden. A small pot full of herbs on the porch will do just fine. Not only is this a fun activity but it can also be used to teach young kids responsibility. One of my 3 year old's favorite activities each evening is walking out to our 8'x4' garden, watering it and peeking through the tall plants and large leaves for tomatoes, squash and peppers. He loves watering the garden so much that we even added it to his daily "chore" chart and reward him with stickers each time he does it! A win-win! 

4. Get creative with Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription service, targeted at kids ages 3-7. Each box contains 2-3 carefully designed and kid-tested projects, which cover a range of developmental areas and subjects, including art, science, and imaginative play. 


Of all the monthly subscription boxes out there that are designed for children, this one is by far my favorite. I love discovering a great mom or baby product or new educational toy but nothing beats spending quality time with my boys and watching their tiny little minds whir and buzz with the spirit of creativity and imagination.



Carter and I recently had the chance to review the Water Wonders crate, part of the Summer Discovery Series which was designed to get you and your kids outdoors to explore the world around them. We had so much fun working through our August crate and our Make Your Own Sail Boat has seen several baby pools, backyard puddles and even a bathtub or two! We're looking forward to many more months of fun ahead!





Here's what I love most about Kiwi Crate. All of the materials and inspiration to encourage creativity and curiosity are included – you just supply the kid! I loved this crate and the time spent with Carter so much that I've already gone ahead and paid for our first 3-month subscription. Want to join and receive $10 off your first order? Follow this link to sign up!

3. Play Car Wash

Too hot to move, let alone blow up that baby pool? Turn on the hose, fill up a small bucket with soap suds and let your little one go to town on your car! I can't tell you how many times we've done this and it's been a raging hit every time. Although I will say, it quickly turns into a game of Drench Mom With the Hose.

Too rainy to play outside? Bring the car wash inside with a small tupperware bin and a host of Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars. This is one of those activities I love having tucked up my sleeve especially when there's laundry to fold and put away. 

2. Go On A Picnic

This is one summer activity that we have yet to do and every week I swear I'm going to pack our picnic basket and head on out to the nearest picnic bench! No picnic bench nearby? Pack your blanket and take your picnic to the backyard. There's just something about that quintessential summer picnic. From elbows sticky and drippy with watermelon juice to squished peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into quarters, dining al fresco is the perfect way to end those lazy summer days.

1. Visit Your Local Zoo, Aquarium or Museum

Play tourist in your own city and take your kids to the nearest zoo, aquarium or museum. Ride the train, meet some new friends and maybe even pack that picnic lunch we talked about earlier! You could even turn your adventure into a scavenger hunt by creating a quick list beforehand of animals you would expect to see while you're there! Here are a few pictures from our zoo and aquarium adventures this summer!


 



Tell me, what are some of your favorite activities to take part in with your kids during the summer months?


Disclaimer: I received the Water Wonders Kiwi Crate free of charge in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions as expressed above. I received no other financial compensation my thoughts. Thank you so much, Kiwi Crate, for such a wonderful and creative outlet for kids and their parents!

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