Mar 31, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Spring/Summer 2015 Parenting Must Haves

With Spring on our doorstep (Northern Hemisphere people of course!) and summer around the corner, I thought I would share my 10 MUST HAVE things that make frolicking in the sun with my family much easier.

Full disclosure, while a couple of the things on this list I did review on the blog, not one company is behind this list. The following 10 things are 100% MY FAVORITE SPRING/SUMMER 2015 PARENTING MUST HAVES!

1. A waterproof travel blanket for trips to the park, firework shows or late nights at a friend's house with a cold sleepy kid. Look for a blanket that fits in the trunk of your car in its own carrying case. I LOVE the Adventure blanket from Tribe Provisions.  It has an attached bag that makes unpacking and repacking a breeze.

2. A small portable cooler bag.  Two years ago I was asked to review the Pack-It cool portable lunch/cooler bags.  I nearly passed up the offer, but my sister insisted that she heard great things so I tried it. Since, I have used it more than any one of the things on this list! I cannot recommend enough a bag like the Pack-it cool.  Basically, it's a bag that you store in your freezer until you need it.  I use the crap out of ours for all kinds of stuff.  This bag keeps Popsicles frozen while at the zoo!  The best part is that it's cheap $15-50 depending on the size.  MOM TIP: Freeze a small washcloth inside of it for cooling off kids, wiping up messy faces and adding an extra level of cold!  DO THIS !

Mar 30, 2015

In A Sick Twist Of Events, I Owe A Few Parents An Apology...

My long time followers, and parents of Twos', may remember the posts I wrote about how I was sure my two year old toddler was going to send me to the looney bin's most padded room, then without fail, Parents of children three years old and older just kept saying, "Oh you just wait until he turns three and four."

My being the naive wishful thinking First Time Mom, I said, OH NO! NOT MY KID! He can't get anymore defiant and crazy. So sure of my parenting skills and kid, I told those parents to shut up and piss off with their lies...

Well.

It turns out...

They were right. (As-freaking-usual!)



My three year old is a terror.

But here's the thing...
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Mar 27, 2015

Your House Isn't The Only Thing That Needs A SpringCleaning... #TeaMi #Teatox #Detox #Review

Ahh... Spring is in the air! My tulips are sprouting buds, the already blooming hyacinth are filling the air with their beautiful scent and the mercury is crossing the 60 degree mark for the first time in months.  #LifeIsGood

The only signs of winter left are a few of the pounds I packed on from my poor food and exercise choices over the last four months. You know, carb loading, couch surfing and comfort food cravings. So, naturally, this time of year I start scrambling for FAST weight loss options to undue my prior months poor choices.

I have tried nearly every diet fad. Well, except one, a Detox. With so many different detoxes on the market, from juice to plain water to teatoxes, to cutting out certain food groups, I either wasn't sure if it would work for me, or thought I would kill someone if I tried it. (I have no doubt spending 10 days drinking only juice or spicy sugar water would turn me into a crazy person.)

Still, my body desperately needs a spring cleaning, so when TeaMi reached out in hopes that I would review their all natural teatox tea blends, I gave it serious consideration. After reading about their The Skinny teatox and the ingredients and reviews, I thought why not. Still, I was skeptical how something that tastes "yummy" and is super easy to do, is going to work to drop packed on winter pounds...


OH MY (PANTS-FIT) GOODNESS!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS STUFF!  (In fact, I just put in an order for more!)

So here's why TeaMi actually worked to help me not only stop winter weight gain (in February!!!), but shed a few pounds too!
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Mar 26, 2015

#EpicFail: My Toddler Thinks He's In Charge #ToddlerIndependence

No.
No.
No.
No.
No.

ALL I HEAR IS, NO! 

My three year old is so firmly planted in the "Nos," he's ceased to remember any other words exist.

Ollie, Do you want to go to school? No

Do you want to go for a walk? No.

Are you going to be a good boy? No.

Over the last two weeks, the 'Nos' have taken over.  

Of course, the Nos are just a symptom of a bigger more annoying problem; Independence. My toddler is learning, loving and Asserting his independence like a freaking BOSS. 

He's desperate to prove that he's a big boy and completely in-charge of everyone and everything.

I think we all know what I have to say about that...



The other day my neighbor brought over cookies to share. The kid and I were out playing. Or really, I was watching ACT IV of his daily production of, I Can Do What I Want. Screw You And The Rules.  When he saw Mrs. Judy with cookies, he quickly called an intermission and came running...

Me: OH! So now you are going to listen to mommy? 

Ollie: No.

Me: No? Well, then you can't have a cookie if you're going to keep being naughty and not using your listening ears. 

Ollie: OK, I'll be a good boy. 

Me: Really? Promise you're going to be a good boy?

Ollie: No. HAHAHAHAHA  <Runs off>

My neighbor was FLOORED!  She couldn't believe the exchange. She was positive he didn't know the difference between yes and no.  I called him back over, to prove to her he knew exactly what he was doing. FYI: In the time my neighbor was over, Ollie had two timeouts and no cookies.  

I know the 'Nos' are just a phase, and all apart of my toddler gaining his independence and finding his way in this world, but holy shit. 

Ho. Li. Shit. 

I'm so tired of saying, Really, dude, are you kidding me right now? Only to get a 'NO!'  

In the last two weeks, my three year old has spent more time in timeout, than not! FTD is convinced he loves timeout. Ollie is convinced he's winning. 

I'm convinced this is just a phase, and in some horrible awful three-year-old twist of shit, this phase is somehow going to prove nothing compared to what my toddler has up his sleeve next.

Ah... the treacherous threes, I was warned... 









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If You're A MAC User You'll Want To Read This... #Snapselect #Review #Macphun

Since becoming a mother, my MacBook Pro has turned into a very expensive photo album. The majority of my computer's space is being bogged down by THOUSANDS of photos. I can't help it, my kid is so damn cute, I don't want to miss or forget one minute, stage or milestone! This of course leads to constant issues of sorting through crappy photos and deleting the four hundred it took to get that one perfect shot. I try to devote time each week to cleaning out my phone and computer, then backing up my faves. The problem is that it's tedious, takes way too much time and I have a hard time deleting things.


Thankfully, I have just found a Mac App company that specializes in AMAZING Photo Apps, Macphun. The company has a slew of super apps, but two have completely changed the photo game for me, and I have no doubt they will for you too! First, Snapselect!


I'll admit, I was skeptical about how this app could work for my photo hoarding issues. Even though I back up the best, I keep them all on my computer "just in case." Thanks to Snapselect, I realized just how many ridiculous photos I was hoarding. FYI: 832 PHOTOS  Here's how the magic works.



First, of course, you download the App.

Next, load photos into the app. In my case it was my ENTIRE 2,599 iPhoto gallery.  I was shocked to see that it only took a few minutes to load them into the app.





Next, you choose the sensitivity or accuracy.


Within Minutes, Snapselect had singled out the doubles and the blurry photos. I was able to go through each set to delete or keep.




Once I'd gone through the singled out photos or groups of photos, in one click and I could delete them all from iPhoto library.



INSANE!!!!!

I was so amazed, I went back and changed the accuracy to really help me clean out my library. Eight hundred and forty-two photos later, my MacBook was a clean machine!

Now, I'm just a mom armed with a phone, but Erika Thornes, a professional photog and mother, explains how Snapselect works for even the very best of photographers. Check this out: 

               


If you are an Apple fanatic like me, then I cannot recommend enough that you download Snapselect! You will be floored by how many crappy photos you are hoarding too! To get the app, CLICK HERE!


OH WAIT BEFORE YOU GO!

Remember how I said Macphun is the maker of many fabulous apps?  This month's featured app is REDICULOUSLY AWESOME!  It's called Focus and it allows you to do amazing things with your photos.  Think: NO FREAKING WAY AMAZING! 


If you love taking photos, and/or wish you were a professional photog, but can't afford the expensive gear, CHECK THIS OUT! You will be blown away...

                

I love FOCUS so so so much, I strong armed the company into giving 1,000 readers a free download! Again, it's only going to the first one thousand readers, then the webpage will be shut down. FYI: They gave me my own special download page! CLICK HERE. (Hurry, if you love it and want to upgrade to Focus Pro get 25% off in March!)

(Thank you Macphun. Love you!)

Full Disclosure: I'm a brand ambassador, AND LOVE IT!







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Mar 24, 2015

10 Ways I'm Being Manipulated By An Evil Genius. (A.k.a A Toddler)

One of my very best girlfriends is also my go-to been-there-done-that mom. Her youngest is just months older than Ollie, so she's always either warning me about what's to come or letting me know my crazy kid is normal, and not to stress out. This morning she sent me an email about how her evil genius managed to manipulate her last night, she wrote:

"He (her three year old) was riding his little four wheeler that he's had since he was little. So he leaves it on the other side of the yard gets off and walks towards me wanting to do something else. I told him we weren't doing anything until he brought the four wheeler back to the porch. He then tells me that he cannot. I suggested that he listen or we weren't going to play. He stomps over to the four wheeler with an attitude gets on pretends like he's going to drive it and then looks at me and he says, "I can't. It has a flat tire." Well that's strange. The tires are plastic. So I walked over I pretend like I put air in it real quick and he looks at me and says thanks, and then rides it over to the porch." 

I couldn't stop laughing! I would have been over there filling up the plastic tire like a pit crew BOSS. Those little evil geniuses are manipulation maestros. In honor of Top 10 Tuesday, I though I would list the top 10, of the four-million waysI'm Being Manipulated By An Evil Genius. (A.k.a A Toddler)




1. The bedtime ballad.  Bedtime is a well orchestrated symphony of whining, questions, potty breaks and "Whoops, I forgot I need".  Every night we go through the same routine.  He's learned saying the following: I need water, I need a cuddle, I need to go potty, I need Mr. Owl/Mr. Penguin/Mr Giraffe/ My blanket and a few other assorted "must have" demands, always elicit the response he wants, stalled Bedtime.

2. Tears of trickery. My kid can cry on cue. I mean tears, wailing, mouth wide open devastated look on his face. While his Oscar worthy performance is commendable, it's also annoying as sh!t. He's learned the right amount of whining, wailing and whoa-is-me will sometimes turn the table in his favor. I'm convinced for 'sh!ts and giggles' he tries it every time he doesn't get his way just to see if it'll work.

3. Careful Culinary Curation. God forbid his sandwich is cut wrong, his orange is not perfectly peeled or his milk is not poured in his "big boy lego" cup. My toddler has a clear idea of how his food and drink should be served, and when those expectations are not met, his vocal disgust with me and his butchered food reserve me a top spot on the daily #AssholeParent list.

4. The dance of the dying. Somewhere around two and a half, my toddler learned that flailing on the floor during a temper tantrum really did hurt him more than it hurt me. Now, he does this strange stomping dance that looks like a mix between a drunk tap dance and the river dance on hot coals. Pair that with the screaming protests and you've got the dance of the dying toddler. This dance, when executed with fierce furry in public, has led to me caving-in just to save myself and all who watch from blown ear drums and nightmares. 

5. Toilet treason. "I have to use the potty!" Is the universal toddler get out of jail free card.  My kid picked-up very quickly on this one. I spent a quarter of my child's second year playing into toilet treason.  #EpicFail

6. Independence insistence. "I do it myself!" is the universal toddler 'Annoy my Parents card.' Of course as parents we all want our children to be strong, independent and do well for themselves... just not when we are running late and they want to put their bloody sock on by themselves for THE FIRST BLOODY TIME!!!  Still, we let them. We sit by, biting our tongues and watching as the sweet child attempts repeatedly to get more than get his big into the sock...FOUR THOUSAND FLIPPING TIMES! Yes, Independent insistence is one of the most annoying manipulation tactics of all.

7. The ole' run around. I hate myself for the number of times I have had to break into a full sprint in public to catch my toddler, who for the last minute has been laughing hysterically while out running me.  Once he knows he's in trouble, and there's no getting out of it, he decides: Screw it, if she wants me she'll have to catch my ass. Damn. Damn. Damn. The ole' run around! 

8. Favorable forgetfulness.  I am convinced my child should be studied for his exceptional ability for selective hearing and memory.  He is exceptional at forgetting or not hearing something I JUST told to him, and then acting confused and incredibly hurt that he seemed to have missed that piece of information... (See Below for stellar example)

ONE MINUTE! I took my eyes off my three-year-old for one minute.

Me: BUDDY! What are you doing? 
Ollie: It's my new super racetrack!
Me: Honey, we don't make race tracks out of mommy's aluminum foil.
Ollie: Is that this?


9. The tiptoe tap: I'm pretty sure my toddler's main claim to fame amongst our family and friends is his ability to do the tip toe tap with such abandon yet delicate elegance. There is not a line, boundary, or rule that I have set that my toddler has not tested. And nine times out of ten, it includes his toe slowly but surely tiptoe-tapping to the line. He thinks he's sneaky. He thinks he's sly. He thinks the tip toetap dance is well worth his two minute penance in time-out. 

10. Cunning cuteness. The overflowing of cunning cuteness is the worst manipulation tactic of all.  He's known since he was 2 months old, his sweet smile and adorableness will trump all. A simple smile followed by an I'm sorry, mommy, melts my heart. Of course, to keep things interesting, he only pulls that card when he's in BIG trouble. For all else, he just acts cute in a cheeky sneaky sort of way.

For example: Yesterday when Ollie was being naughty and would not stop and listen. I said, "Ollie!  Look at me!"  He turns his head, smiles and says, "CHEESE!" #EpicFail Of course I laughed, and had to explain that I wasn't taking the picture. Instantly, the kid is out of trouble, and I'm the one apologizing! 

Damn those little evil geniuses! 

How does your toddler manipulate you?
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Mar 23, 2015

Potty Training Update: Six Incredibly Important Lessons Learned

After two years of "gentle encouragement" my son wore his big boy pants to school today. (Of course, I packed a change of clothes right down to socks and shoes.) We've tried this before, and failed miserably, but after two weeks of no accidents in his pull-ups, it's time to big-boy-pant-it for good!

My friends, this road to big boy pants has been hard fought, filled with many wrong turns, dead ends and piss covered feet and floors; both mine and Ollie's. Thankfully, it led to the point we are at now; a nearly 100% potty trained three year old rocking spiderman big boy pants with pride.

As some of you already know, right before Ollie's first birthday, my Mother in-law dropped the bomb that FTD was out of diapers by his first birthday. (My theory was that since they lived high in the bush of Australia, FTD spent his days free-balling in the sun.) In honor of his miraculous potty-training, my MIL sent Ollie a potty training package for his first birthday, complete with big boy training pants and his favorite, Thomas the Tank briefs. Being that he couldn't talk or really understand what all of it was for, our first round of potty training at 12-months old was a total fail!



At 18-months we picked back up the potty training with good old fashion tactics, letting the kid watch daddy pee. This too failed to encourage him to give it a try. So, being that we'd been warned repeatedly not to push potty training too hard, or risk pushing him in the wrong direction, we let it go.

At 24-months, I was determined to get the job done!  I was determined to not have a child in diapers at two, plus my mother in-law was watching... I made it my job to train this kid! Unfortunately, the more I offered the potty, or let him wear big boy pants, the more accidents he had. Again being warned not to push or freak out, I smiled through cleaning up every accident. (While screaming F*ck This shit! in my head!)

The entire ride from 24-36 months was a battle of taking a few steps forward, then a few back. Somewhere along the way, I realized this was going to be 100% on his terms. Ollie was in complete control of potty training. I took a step back when he really began to regress and let him lead the way.  This was probably my smartest move since beginning potty training at one.

After many failed potty training attempts a home, a few trips to school in big boy pants that ended in diapers and tears, and me throwing my hands up, Ollie turned a corner. Like magic, after his third birthday, he started using the potty on his own 95% of the time.

Today, at three and two months, he pretty much always uses the potty. It's absolutely wonderful!  We still do pull-ups at night, but even then he wakes up and goes right to the potty. We also still use a pull-up when we run errands just in case.  Pee in the grocery is not awesome!

Along the way I learned Six incredibly important lessons:

1. Start as early as you want, but if your kid is not interested, there is nothing you can do about it. Pushing is a huge waste of time.

2. Potty training is not an event, it's a process. Potty training takes a long time, and potty training at night takes even longer.

3. It's just as hard on the parent. In my naive mom mind I thought Potty training would mean saying, Hey buddy, crap in the can. And that would be that. WRONG!  It takes just as much work and commitment from the parent as the child.

4. The potty training game changes when your child learns to take off and put on their clothes.  Ollie loves being able to go on his own without help getting undressed. I cannot recommend enough teaching your child to at least be able to take off their pants and pull-up/diaper while potty training.

5. The kid is the one who is in control. Potty training is so on a child's terms it's crazy.  You can't make them pee! So, I finally learned to stop trying, and only offer the potty before leaving the house and when out. The rest of the time, I let him decide.

6. Eventually, it happens and you are not a potty-training parent failure until that point. Being that potty training is on a child's terms, you can't beat yourself up for not meeting your own goals. Thankfully, they get as tired of peeing on themselves as you do cleaning them up.





Do you have any tips, lessons or stories to share???  Please do!

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Mar 20, 2015

You Can Just Call Me, The Gardener Girl. #NoMoreCrapStrawberriesEver

One of the most exciting things about becoming a homeowner last may, was knowing I could finally have the garden I've always dreamed of.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Up until buying my first home last summer, I'd spent the past 10 years in a 3rd floor walk up with a north facing balcony. Still, my love for gardening was not dampened by my unfortunate position, I tried to grow everything I thought I had a chance. One year I grew a jalapeño plant, and let me just tell you, those FIVE Jalapeños were the best I ever had.

As much as I want to grow an entire farmer's market in my backyard, I know I need to set reasonable attainable goals the first few years. So, I am starting with the basics; herbs and hearty veggies that grow well in my area, and of course, Ollie's two favorite fruits, Strawberries and Grapes!

Before you shake your head and place bets against me and my poor gardening track record, I'm getting a little help from the house! The bones for a raised garden, a large grape trellis and even strawberry pot were all waiting here for me.  I just have to figure out how to use them...


The good news about trying to figure all of this stuff out now, well before growing season, is that I can't really plant anything outside for another 6-8 weeks, so I have plenty of time to plan out my perfect garden, and learn how to grow it!

Being that I'm I am chomping at the bit to get started, I let Ollie bulldoze my garden spot while I cleaned out the strawberry pot.  As for that big white monstrosity, Grapes used to grow and thrive on it. There's not one neighbor that hasn't told me about the beautiful grapes that grew on it.  Did you know, a grape vine can last 30 years? Unfortunately, a foolish gardener, (NOT ME!) killed them.  

I've spent the last two months doing all kinds of research on how to plant, care for and harvest a thriving veggie patch, grow grapes and raise strawberries in a proper strawberry pot. But just so you know where I started, I thought that pot was for growing funny looking Cacti! 

Over the next few weeks I'm going to finalize the plans, and post separately on each gardening endeavor, with how to's and before and after's for each: growing Grapes vines, psucsessfully planting and growing hearty strawberries in a pot, and then there's the biggest task of all, making a raised garden... Again, I say, I'm determined! So stay tuned...

Please, if you have any tips for creating a raised garden bed, growing hearty grapes, or planting strawberries in that funny pot, please share!


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Disclaimer

My husband and I are clueless first time parents. We are far from childhood development professionals. We cannot and will not be held responsible if you take us seriously, especially because we don't even take ourselves seriously.



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