Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Potty Training is A Lot Like Negotiating With Terrorists.

Potty training toddlers is a lot like negotiating with terrorists. 

Boundaries are pushed. Threats are made. Spirits are broken down slowly and painfully. Embarrassingly enough the spirits in question are your own, not your toddler's. 

Then there's the begging, pleading and haggling quickly followed by a call or two home to the Motherland. And by Motherland I mean, the land in which your own Mother lives (not only for reassurance that you're not ruining your toddler but also a reminder that you've already been through this once and come out the other side better, saner and with forty-extra dollars in your pocket each month). 

Toddlers make it look so easy- at least the interrogation they come at you with while you're sitting on the toilet for the first (and likely last) time that day. After all, potty training is simply giving them a taste of their own medicine! What could be so hard about that?

Spoiler alert: they do not like the taste of medicine. That medicine, cough medicine. No dice. No toddler likes chatting nonchalantly about their bowel movements much less being forced against their will to do them somewhere other than the confines of their own pants. 

All that said, I did it. I survived potty training a small human for the second time. Despite our success, there were many, many times that I wasn't sure I was going to make it. The future looked bleak. My will to hang on diminished with every pair of pants peed in. Many a "conversation" in our home went something like this: 

Me: If you pee in the potty, I'll give you 1 candy pumpkin! 

Three Year Old: Nope.

Me: If you pee in the potty, I'll give you 1 candy pumpkin and a sheet of Spiderman stickers!

Three Year Old: No fank you. 

Me: If you pee in the potty, I'll give you 3 candy pumpkins, a sheet of Spiderman stickers, the keys to my Suburban and you can be the Executor of Mommy and Daddy's will, OK? Just PLEASE, PLEASE, pee in the potty!

- - - - - -

I'd like to take a minute to blame my first child for making potty training look like a goddamned walk in the park. Four days on that roller coaster of emotions and we rid ourselves of every diaper in the house and never once looked back. Shame on me for thinking just once that the second time around would run just as smoothly. 

You know what they say about assumptions, right? 

My biggest piece of advice this time around? Find your child's love language and run with it. After all, that's really what potty training comes down to. Finding The Great Motivator. With my first son it was stickers and it was the award-winning combination of the Three Day Method and various charts and stickers that ultimately led to our success. 

With my second child it wasn't nearly as simple. I tried everything- stickers, special quality time, the ever-popular M&M and nothing motivated him. Not a thing. The lack of finding The Great Motivator eventually led to The No Attending of The Pre-school as the one rule regarding school readiness was the big PT (Potty-Trained). I felt defeated. I questioned myself again and again, "what am I doing wrong?"

And then I cracked the tiny terrorist code. It wasn't just any candy he wanted. It was the luxury dark chocolate. 

DOVE Mint and Dark Chocolate squares. 

If asked, I'd bet he would now solve world peace AND figure out how to pay our national debt for just one back of those deliciously expensive chocolate morsels. He certainly learned how to effectively use the potty in record time once we introduced those into the equation.

Before last week, my husband would have disowned me should I have willingly spent $45 on chocolate from CVS. 

He's singing quite the different tune now that our 3 year old has been successfully potty trained using said over-priced chocolate.  Never, ever underestimate the power of the DOVE Promise.

As I was saying earlier, potty training a toddler really is a lot like negotiating with terrorists. Demands may be completely irrational but once satisfied, you both walk away happier... and with dry pants. 


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Monday, September 21, 2015

That #MomLife Though.

Most days I feel like I'm running on autopilot. 

Wake up, wake boys, brush your teeth. Brush their teeth, find socks, let them dress themselves (hallelujah!). 

Toast Eggos, check homework folder, check calendar events. Make lunch, pack lunch, change diapers. Laugh at yourself when, two weeks ago, you thought making lunches was the best thing EV-AR.

Remind everyone to go potty and reward with sugar (even at 8am, multiple times).

Check the homework folder again, just in case, tie shoes, load car. Drive 35 minutes to school, sit in car line, hug goodbye. Cringe when you remember you forgot to vacuum the backseat and you know the car line door opener is TOTALLY JUDGING YOU.

Fill the following three hours with story time, library time, gymboree time, craft time. Try to remember the last time you didn't feel utterly exhausted. Remember a deadline, try to write. Want to write real stuff, deadlines loom. Baby wants to nap (nooo!!). Pick-up is in less than an hour. Make more lunches, feed small humans.

Congratulate yourself on successfully potty training a human being for the second time. Remember how much it sucks having to be within thirty seconds of a bathroom ALWAYS. Reward potty success with sugar. Load everyone into the car. 

Roll through Starbucks (iced Skinny Vanilla Latte with 1 pump Pumpkin) and cake pops all around. Realize you're never losing the last of the baby weight. Arrive to school forty minutes early. Baby is sleeping (halleluiah!). Catch up on emails, keep the car running. 

Middle little plays on the playground. Chase middle little up and down the slide 497 times. Maybe lose some baby weight after all. Chat with other Moms. Can't believe you're such an adult. Contemplate volunteering as Room Mom. Pick up biggest little. Hugs all around. 

Narrowly miss catching your 3 year old drop-trou right in the middle of the playground. Re-direct him to the emergency Gatorade bottle in your car. Close one, Mom.

Return home. Prep dinner. Fold laundry. Neglect to put it away. Again. Break up 47 MMA-style wrestling matches. Try to watch Ladies of London. Middle little screams for Paw Patrol. Give in. Twice. 

Give up. Head to playroom. Make a mess. Clean it up. Cook dinner, feed kids, Daddy's home. Family walk, everyone in the bath, collapse on the couch with an adult root beer. Forget what quiet sounds like. 

Sit with husband. Sync calendars (how romantic), try not to cry when he gives you his travel schedule. Remember you have Jury Duty next week. Cry. 

Watch a movie, fold more laundry. Kiss sweaty, sleeping foreheads, head upstairs to bed. 

Fall asleep. Suddenly remember tomorrow is Crazy Sock Day. Wake up in a panic. Pad downstairs to check backpacks, assemble lunches, check homework folders. 

Baby, who isn't really a baby anymore, wakes like clockwork for 1am nursing session. Remind yourself this is just a SEASON. Try to remember what life was like before #ThatMomLife set in. 

Laugh when you realize these are the best (exhausted) years of your life.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Toys For Taking Trips and Traveling With Toddlers

We've laughed, learned and played with the Roll 'n Gears on 
behalf of this sponsored post with Playskool and Socialstars. 
All opinions expressed are our own. #PlayskoolCrew

We spent a lot of time on the road this summer. More time, really, than I care to recall mostly because the thought of it brings to mind moments that I'm not particularly proud of. Specifically the moments that involved me shouting repeatedly "don't make me pull this car over!" or "if I have to ask you to share one more time, I'm turning this thing around!" to a pair of brothers who refused to keep their hands to themselves in the back of the truck. 

But with all of our back and forth to and from the family beach house, all of the hours bickering in the car were more than worth it considering the amazing memories we made while spending heaps and gobs of time together as a family. Sure I can sit here and complain about the trips to and fro but when it comes down to having the opportunity to getaway whenever we want, we truly are more than grateful. 

How is it thought that traveling with toddlers can so quickly and easily make a three hour car ride feel like an eternity?

Speaking of traveling with toddlers, something else that I'm grateful for are toys that can easily stow and go and make the trip to and from the beach house without taking up tons of space in our bags. Why? Because as the boys grow older and their toy tastes change, I like to swap out the stash of toys we keep at the beach house for them and their cousins to play with. While at times I would love to pack up our whole entire playroom, I have to be mindful of the amount of space in our bags that we pack for the trip! 

Toys that can easily be stowed inside a small bag, such as a diaper bag, are typically the ideal size to travel with. Bonus points if any small accessories that come with the toy can be stowed in and among itself.

One of our favorite toys to travel with this summer as been the Playskool Roll 'N Gears Car. If it has wheels there's no question as to whether or not the boys will love it and this toy has been loved and played with by all three of them at various points throughout the summer. Even though it's marketed for ages 12+ months, my 5 and 3 year old as well as my 16 month old have all enjoyed their time with this toy for various reasons. 

My 5 year old really appreciates the engineering mechanics and gears associated with the toy. He loves making the cause and effect connection between twisting a knob and watching the gears turn while my 3 year old mostly enjoys zooming the car all over the place with appropriate demolition sound effects, of course.

My 16 month old loves to open the car and stack all five of the removable gears on top of each other before twisting the knob and watching the tower of gears spin. He also loves that he can pack up his gears quickly and easily and tote them all over the house. When you have older brothers who also enjoy stealing your toys, portability is key. 

The entire Roll 'N Gears Car fits easily into a small diaper bag or even a toddler backpack making it exceptionally appealing for fun on the go. It was the perfect toy to pack in our bags and leave at the beach house to be enjoyed by all the little kids in our family. 

To see several other toys in this series that would be great for traveling with toddlers, visit this post and this post. For even more toy-filled fun stay up to date with Playskool on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

We received product in exchange for our honest thoughts and opinions as expressed above.
As always, we here at ILYMTC the blog would never stand behind something we didn't absolutely love!
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Monday, September 14, 2015

How To Protect Your Phone From Life With Kids.

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This is a sponsored post brought to you by Otterbox and the SITS Girls. 
Because life happens and your phone shouldn't have to suffer.

Drool. Syrup. Applesauce. Sand. 

You may be asking yourself what these items have in common and the answer is simple. All of the above (among much, much more) have been mediums found all over my iPhone and while I'd love to be the kind of mother who waxes poetic about the dangers of toddlers and technology, the truth is sometimes you find yourself in a situation that only Netflix or Peekaboo Barn can soothe.

This week alone I can count on one hand the number of instances I've handed my beloved phone over to one of my three children just to keep them quiet for five whole minutes. 

Now, you know how attached we bloggers are to our technology- I must either really love my children or really love the technology-induced trance that comes with the glowing screen of a children's app to hand my phone over to someone known for their spontaneous and reckless behavior. 

It only took one shattered iPad screen in the parking lot of the OB's office several years ago to send me into a wild tailspin of research regarding the best kinds of cases to protect my beloved i-things. Ever since that day I've been down an iPad which means I rely even more heavily on my phone to keep me connected, synced and up-to-speed on important things like school schedules, deadlines, play dates and the new Fall television line-up. 
Although the results were glaringly obvious, I went ahead and took this quiz to find out which OtterBox case would best suit my needs. Naturally my #PhoneWrecker personality revealed that a Mini Mangler would most likely be the cause of ultimate phone destruction. That's why the Defender Series was recommended as the ideal case to best protect my phone from the, er, elements

Well, more specifically, this guy: 

With an OtterBox case, I don't have to worry about anything happening to my phone when it finds its way into tiny toddler hands. No longer do I cringe if  when my phone takes a topple down a flight of stairs thanks to the baby and I certainly wouldn't don't wince when my 3 year old accidentally misses the tabletop and tosses my phone directly onto the wood floor.

In fact, I didn't even miss a beat last week when I pulled out of my driveway having completely forgotten that I placed my phone atop the car just minutes earlier as I loaded the baby into his car seat only to be reminded of my lapse in judgment as the phone bounced onto my hood and into the road as I pulled out of our neighborhood. 

The Defender Series is the original rugged, multi-layer case designed by OtterBox to protect with increased durability against drops by deflecting the shock away from the device. It also prevents all the important jacks and inputs from becoming clogged with dust and the built-in clear membrane protects the device's screen from scratches. 

Basically it protects my phone from Life with Kids, which is exactly what I need most. 

If the Defender Series isn't what you're looking for, OtterBox has tons of other protection series's available and I encourage you to take this quiz to find out which one best suits your needs. (Share your Phone Breaker quiz results via social media or email and receive a 10% discount code to use on your next order at Otterbox.com. Of note, this coupon cannot be combined with any other special offer).
If you're interested in learning more about OtterBox and perhaps winning some really awesome prizes, join me during the OtterBox Twitter Party THIS Wednesday September 16th at 9amPST/12pmEST. 


Tell me, what's the worst thing to ever happen to your phone? 
I bet OtterBox has a case for that.
Hope to see you Wednesday on Twitter!

I received product for free in exchange for this post. 
All opinions expressed above are honest and my own.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Too Soon for Halloween? Never! (A $250 Costume-Inspired Giveaway!)

This post is brought to you by 
ILYMTC and CostumeExpress.com. #OrangeTuesday

I know, I know. Summer has barely left the building and here I am writing about Halloween. I promise, however, it's all with good reason. 

If you're like me, the price of outfitting your family for Halloween can sometimes make you cringe worse than the gory zombie mask your 5 year old demands he wear for the occasion. Sure you could turn to Pinterest and flex your DIY muscles but as the saying goes, sometimes "ain't nobody got time for that." 

That's what makes today so special. The day after Labor Day, also known as Orange Tuesday in the retail world, is quickly becoming known as the Black Friday of Halloween. From costumes to party supplies and even Fall-inspired home decor, all thoughts from here on out begin to point towards the Halloween holiday. 

On this day, our friends at the family-friendly online costume retailer, CostumeExpress.com reveal the Top 10 costumes and decor items of the season. They also hold an amazing not-to-be-missed one-day sale offering 20% off your entire order as well as up to 88% off costumes. 

To help people choose their costumes for this Halloween season, the CostumeExpress Top 10 lists feature the top trending characters from the biggest TV and movie releases this year. Included are the following categories:

·         Adult Costumes
·         Kids’ Costumes
·         Girl’s Costumes
·         Boy’s Costumes
·         Tween Costumes
·         Group / Family Costumes
·         Pet Costumes
·         Yard Decorations
·         Porch and Indoor Decorations

Naturally in our house full of boys superheroes, ninjas and "bad guys" are all the rage. That's why we've decided to dress up as a "Super Family" this Halloween. Not even the dog was safe from this super mandate put into place by my 5 and 3 year old and what's even better is that once Halloween is over, these costumes will be retired to the dress-up bin for even more dress up fun throughout the year.

Shoppers are encouraged to sign-up for e-mails from CostumeExpress.com here at  to gain early access to sale items, exclusive offers and secret surprises surrounding the sale. There's also great deals on things like pumpkin carving accessories and Halloween party supplies.

In addition, CostumeExpress will be hosting an #OrangeTuesday Twitter Party on Tuesday, Sept. 8 from 12-1 p.m. CT to help inspire costume selection and offer tips and tricks for celebrating the season. Prizes include several $50 and one $100 gift code to CostumeExpress.com (see rules for details). Visit here to RSVP.

    Now for the exciting giveaway! 
One lucky winner will receive a $250 gift card to shop Costume Express. You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. We're excited to host this giveaway with 10 other fantastic blogs. 
Be sure to visit their sites to see the fun costumes their families selected.  By visiting all of the blogs, you'll have a chance to see many of this seasons "Top 10" list costumes and decor available from Costume Express.

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