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Sep 19, 2014

The Renderings Are In From The Interior Designer! What Do You Think?

Remember how I started working with the interior design firm, Havenly, to overhaul my big strange front room? I am so excited to report, the final design rendering is in! 

For those of you just joining me, Havenly interior design, is an eDesign firm that offers incredibly affordable interior design services! All you do is sign up, answer a few questions, send over photos of the room(s) you want designed, and then within 48 hours, your personal interior designer is calling you to make a game plan! 

It's a three step process:

1. Consultation.
2. Concepts
3. Rendering

Now, for the final renderings...

Sep 18, 2014

The Ark Toys: Great Toys Are Just The Beginning! #Love #Review

*Even though I did work with The Ark Toys and received the an amazing HABA pegging game free to facilitate my review, I was in no way swayed to tell anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in this fine post.  All opinions are my own!

I want one of everything at The Ark, and here's why... 

The Ark toy store opened it's doors in the 80's with the mission to provide high-quality wooden, educational and imaginative toys and games that met Waldorf School standards. Throughout the last thirty years, The Ark has stuck to that mission by offering its customers the absolute highest-quality toys, games and services available, while not forgetting the old-fashioned, all around fun toys that challenge our imaginations and expand our capacity to think and grow.


We were sent a HABA Pegging Game that Ollie LOVED right out of the box. He sat on the floor playing with it of the rest of the night. 

HABA Pegging Game:
Made in Germany from all-natural beech wood. This high-quality toy comes complete with 36 wooden pieces and one pegging board. Spanning a wide age range from 2-6, this versatile wooden toy can be used as a tool to improve color recognition, sequencing, creative thinking, logic, color matching, building, dexterity, size sorting, and even mathematics.
This pegging game is not the only toy we own that can be found at the Ark.  Seriously, I LOVE THE ARK! 

Ollie got this wooden sorting game for Christmas last year, and he still plays with it.  

Over the last year, it has been wonderful watching him go from sorting the shapes, to learning the height progression. The best part is that after a year, he is still learning and growing with this toy. LOVE IT! 

With so many apps and easy to hand over tech gadgets, it's so important that as parents we still provide the good old-fashioned learning games we grew up with. It's also important to look outside of the big brand stores for those toys. I walk through the aisles at those stores and see all of the main stream and  overly commercialized plastic toys, and think, is this it? Where are the fun puzzles, learning and sorting games? 

I'll tell you where they are... They are at a toy store that still believes in real toys. At The Ark.  

Here are a few of my favorites available at The Ark...

When The Ark says "Great Toys Are Just The Beginning" they mean it., This store has EVERYTHING!  Even bikes, scooters and skate boards.  To check out The Ark has to offer, and see if there is a store near you, CLICK HERE!
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The Two Wheeling Toddler

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know FTD put his life in danger when he bought my little baby a bike. Who buys a two-year-old a bike?  My husband that's who!

The bike came with the license tag, "Jesus Loves Me."
 I told FTD he better hope Jesus Loves him too.
Every Saturday morning, FTD takes Ollie out to garage sales while I sleep-in. (SCORE!) Even though they usually buy the most ridiculous stuff, including but not limited to, dirty toys, old electronics, clothes and other assorted yard sale nonsense, there are the rare occasions where FTD slinks sheepishly into the house and says, Come see what Ollie picked out.

You see, he ALWAYS blames the toddler for the poor decisions.  This was the case last weekend when he insisted he had to buy Ollie the bike when he climbed on it and said, I want this daddy. I have to admit, a bike and helmet for under $20 is not such a bad thing, but... it's still something I didn't think he was ready for.

Oh. How. Wrong. I. Was...

He jumped right on the bike and took off. 
I couldn't believe my eyes.  

FTD and I were so proud of him. Of course, FTD was also beaming about the fact that he was right about Ollie being ready for a bike. I honestly didn't think kids started ridding a bike until they were AT LEAST four.  I was wrong.

My friends, I'm here to tell you, a two-year-old can ride a bike.


Is your toddler a two wheeling rock star too?  When are you planning on buy the first bike?
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Sep 17, 2014

What It Really Means When A Toddler Says, I Wanna Do It MYSELF!

Well, my friends, it's official... Ollie has reached the,"I wanna do it MYSELF!" stage. He is insisting on doing EVERYTHING! For those of you who have not experienced this toddler phenomenon yet, let me just enlighten you to pretty much the outcome every time...

Nine times out of ten, one of us has a complete meltdown.
At first, being the clueless first-time mother that I am, I was stoked. It's about time the kid did some stuff for himself. Please, my darling son, feed, clothe and bathe yourself.

I should have known it was too good to be true...

I always talk about two things when it comes to parenting, how incredibly hard it can be, and how it takes patience. LOTS of patience. This stage is a perfect example of that. I quickly learned, even though it's hard as hell to sit back and watch him take four hours to do something that should take four minutes, it's important that I have patience with him so he can learn. Even if that means I have to sit idly by and watch the shit show slowly unfold. And when I say slow, I mean slooooooow.

I do love that he wants to do more for himself, and become a "big boy," but OMG it takes him forever and most times, I have to correct what he has done. It never fails he puts his shoes on the wrong feet, even though the whole time he is doing it, I am try to explain the difference between 'left and right feet'and to line up the big toes... but it's not until he takes the first steps and realizes that something is wrong, does he stop and try again. How I have hair left on my head I don't know.

I suppose there is no good fix for this stage, other than to accept it, and yes, encourage it. HOWEVER, I have found self-medicating nightly with a fabulous wine or Manhattan, is very helpful.

What about you? How are you dealing with this stage?

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Sep 16, 2014

10 Toys You Should Never Ever Buy Your Child.

As kind loving parents, we want our children to be happy. Even if it means making us unhappy, annoyed, bored, miserable... You know, like when we buy the most ridiculous over-priced annoying crap toys, that we end up wanting to smash into a million pieces, just to see that beautiful heart warming smile on our child's face.

Well, I say it's time to draw some lines. We have to know when to say, NO, drop the toy and run like hell out of the store. Below are 10 such toys to you should never buy your child. Ever.

1. Toys that make annoying noises. Steer clear of the firetruck with 50 flashing lights that screams "FIRE FIRE" and then belts out a 30 second siren whenever you slightly touch the button, because I promise, your kid will push that button repeatedly for two hours straight. There is a special place in hell for toy manufacturers of those toys. It's on the corner of  Whatswrongwithyou & Needsaslap St.

2. Toys with sensors that go off when you walk by. This reaches beyond toys. ANYTHING that makes noises when you walk by will be regretted. You will never be able to sneak out of your child's room again thanks to it. I could have killed FTD when he managed to procure a HUGE BAG of Furbies (complete with batteries) at a yard sale. Those little monsters, with all their the nonsensical chirping, whistling and garbled chatter. It never fails that the cat walks by one the second Ollie falls asleep.

3. Toys that are part of a set or collection.  Once you open the flood gates, you can kiss your nest egg goodbye.

4. Toys that require assembly of more than three parts and/or stickers to apply. Have you ever tried to assemble a toy that requires 22 steps with a toddler "helping"?  Three pages in to the instructions, nothing makes sense anymore and the stickers are stuck to the TV.  You'd think that if a manufacturer has gone to all the trouble of assembling, marketing, and packaging the thing, why on earth wouldn't they have applied the damn stickers too?

5.  Toys that can be easily disassembled into two hundred tiny pieces. This will inevitably happen in the back seat of your car, two minutes after pulling out of the store parking lot. With any and all accompanying stickers immediately stuck to the car window.

6. A toddler bed. I don't care if it looks like Dora the Explorer or a Race Car, your kid will not fall for it. It's a waste of time and money that will fail you. TIP: Transition from crib to a bed no smaller than a twin, so you have somewhere to sleep when your kid crawls in bed with you and takes over. Every night. Forever.

7.  Toys that are really candy in disguise. Lets just go with sugar in general, because we all know what happens...

8. Toys on wheels your kid cannot operate alone.  Make no mistake about it, if you buy a tricycle, scooter or bike before your kid is ready for it, your back will break from having to bend down to push it CONSTANTLY!

9. Annoying books. Before you purchase/accept a book, read through it first, then ask yourself if you could stand to read it at least ten times a day for two months straight. If not, drop the book and run like hell.

10. Tiny toys. The smaller the toy, the more pain it inflicts when you step on it. Think: Lego.


And there you have it, to maintain harmony in your home, avoid all of the above things until your child goes to college. In the meantime, if you really want to give your child a toy both of you will love, throw a cardboard box down on the floor and watch hours of fun unfold. It never fails that my kid spends more time playing with the box the toy came in than the actual toy.

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Sep 15, 2014

Potty Training Update: There's Good News... And Bad News.

As promised, I went through with the push to potty train over the weekend. It was an adventure to say the least...

If only it really was all smiles...
I started the 72 hour potty training adventure on Friday morning.  I knew if I had a shot in hell, I had to start while FTD was at work. The man LOVES to make Ollie laugh while he is trying to use the potty. He is a walking potty humor joke book. It's poop this, crack the porcelain that, fill the bowl... make a log cabin... it NEVER ends!

Sorry, that's a whole other post...

As some of you already know, Ollie has been using the potty off and on for about a year now. (Yes, a year, and he is still not fully potty trained.) About 98% of the time he only uses the potty because we ask him if he needs to go... For a while he was using the potty as an excuse to get out of doing something (bedtime), but has since learned new tricks for that, so he rarely asks to go. Recently, he has also been using the potty at school which lets me know, IT'S TIME!  

I learned last week, if he has to go, and his diaper is off, he will go without being asked, so being the lazy mother that I am, I kicked off the 72 hour adventure with a free ballin' boy. That's right, I'd rather risk the house getting hosed, then having to CONSTANTLY ask him if he needs to go...

Three hours, four hundred trips to the potty and five rolls of toilet paper later, I was feeling very proud of my little guy.  Every two minutes, he was off and running to let three drops out, then declare a victory. We would do the potty dance and move on... for two minutes until his next trip. I couldn't tell if he was stoked he could go, or if all that air made him feel like he had to go.

Either way, he was going.

By the time FTD got home Friday night, Ollie was a potty maniac. Albeit a streaking one. FTD was a little leery about the diaperless adventure, but he soon saw how good Ollie was at going on his own.  Ollie was great, he even washed and dried his hand EVERY TIME! Day one was a successes in my book!

Day two was more of the same; diaperfree and wild with the potty. Until, we had to go out to an Oktoberfest party at the local German club. Still the ever lazy mother, I slapped a diaper on him, and off we went...

Good times.
You all, there were port-o-potties there. NO WAY WAS I USING ONE WITH A TODDLER!!!  Can you imagine? We could have filled a lab with germs by the time we made it out of one.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of questions I'm sure Ollie would have had about the petri dish potty. Yes, I know my time will come to use one with him, but dammit, it WAS NOT going to be last Saturday at a beer drinking festival of Gremans/Austrians/Wild Americans! Hell to the NO!

So here is where we are after a weekend of focused training:

1. Ollie is happy to go as long as there's not the convenience of a diaper. Which means, he knows what he needs to do, he's just as lazy as his mommy.

2. Potty training is not for lazy people. It takes work on both parts. If you want to push your child to train before he/she is flat out asking to use the potty, then you are going to have to be just as dedicated as you want your child to be.

3. We are still in diapers. Though, when we are home he is not!  I'm trying to teach him how to pull up and down loose shorts. I figure snug fitting underwear might confuse him into thinking he can just go...

Biggest lesson learned:

Potty training takes a lot of work, dedication and stages. We started with just learning about the potty, then learning to notice the sensation, then using the potty when the mood hit... now we are onto getting his pants up and down... and me not caving and doing it for him. Even if it means he nearly pees on me trying to get his damn pants off.

I wouldn't say this weekend was a fail since Ollie is not fully trained, and Ollie certainly didn't fail since this was all my idea, and he did go like a thousand times. Could I have been more diligent? Absolutely. Am I going to stay on him? Absolutely.

Stay tuned... there's way more to this story...

If you have a potty training story, PLEASE SHARE!

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Sep 14, 2014

10 Sanity Saving Parenting Tips

For the billionth time, Parenting is so hard. Thankfully, the good times outweigh the trying ones, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a 24/7 365 job, that's constantly changing. Once you become a parent, "dull days" cease to exist. They are replaced with emotional roller coaster rides that grab you by the heart, and then take you and your patience to the ends of the earth and back.

During my short time so far as a first-time parent, I have learned valuable lessons the hard way that have led to rules I now parent by. Below are 10 that help me maintain my sanity (for the most part) on a daily basis.

1. Laugh at yourself- First and foremost, Laugh. Parenting is hard enough, if you don't find the humor in it, you will go bat shit by the end of the first 6-weeks.

2. Laugh at your child- Kids are hysterical, laugh at them. Most of all, laugh with them.

3. Forgive yourself- There is no such thing as the perfect parent. No. Such. Thing. We all make mistakes. If at first you don't succeed... you will eventually.

4. Forgive your child. Those little shits... mean well. Just like us, kids make mistakes too. It's part of life. For little ones, life is all about trying new things and testing limits. They are bound to screw up a few (hundred) times.

5. The Joneses are assholes- Damn those Joneses trying to set standards and pass judgements. Pay no attention to the talking heads, they don't know you or your child.

6.  Your instinct is right, listen to it. Mom. Dad. Listen to your inner parent, it knows what's best. Don't let someone or some book make you think otherwise. Start with your instinct, then go from there.

7. The "Right Way" is the way that works for your family. Your family is the new normal. Don't let a book tell you your instinct is wrong. You know your child(ren) better than anyone else, work within those bounds.

8. Say I love you and hug your family everyday. Who doesn't love a little acknowledgement and affection? I know kids especially do. So give it to them. Make there be no question just how loved they are.

9. The dishes can wait. Don't sacrifice your family time. Take the time to be with your family now, because tomorrow is not promised. Besides, the dishes will always be there.

10. Love every second and every stage because when they pass, you will miss them dearly. Yes, even the really annoying stages. Everyday goes by so fast, try to remember and document as much as possible.

What are your parenting rules for staying semi-sane?
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