Aug 22, 2014

Easy Killer, He's Two...

My kid is full of energy, a HUGE risk taker, loves to climb high, go fast on the swing or his tricycle, talks back, digs his heels in, runs 10-feet ahead of me, is happy to be dirty, lives to give me mini heart attacks... loves to cuddle, laugh, be tickled, play catch, is kind and generous...

Parenting for me is CONSTANT trial and error.  My kid is awesome more than not. Yes, he is full-on 90% of the time, but he is two and fabulous. Somedays, my back aches from bending down to say, NO! We don't... a thousand times. And thankfully, somedays my arms hurt from all of the cuddles. It's give and take.

Aug 21, 2014

24/7 Toddler-ing Madness

As most of you know, I have Ollie in a "Mother's Day Out" program twice a week on Monday's and Wednesdays. He goes from 9-1 and it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!!!  Well, what you all don't know, because it's so hard for me to talk about is... The program shuts down for three weeks in August to completely clean the place, train teachers and prepare for the year. My friends, Ollie has been home, with me, since August 1st. He goes back August 25, or next Monday.

I'm not sure if I will make it...

Over the last three weeks of 24/7 toddler-ing I have learned few things:

1. Those two days a week, make such a difference for me. I can get things done, take a breath, call a friend, have lunch, do what I want without a crazy kid in the middle.   I have NO IDEA how full-time stay-at-home-moms of one and especially multiples do it.  If NEED my time. (I cannot recommend a Parents Day Out program enough!  We go to the church a couple of blocks away and LOVE IT!  Call the closest church, and schedule a visit.)

2. My kid is full throttle 24/7 and learning and growing everyday, right before my eyes. Some things are awesome, some are annoying...

Being that we have been together 24/7 I am noticing all of his changes, manners and that, without fail, if I say NO or don't do that, he gets gitty with excitement and does it... and that's not where the fun ends...

Lately, he is a talking machine. If he's not talking, he is singing. His vocabulary is fantastic, and for most everything he can communicate what he wants/ needs. But here is the kicker... He sounds Australian. Yes, FTD has managed to pull it off. For example, Ollie says, "Caaaaaa" instead of "car". I drew the line when I caught FTD teaching Ollie that "Z" is really "Zed."

Potty training is on his terms.  Some days, he is all about it. Others, not so much. I always ask, but don't pressure him. I was hoping to be out of diapers by now, but I'm thinking a couple more months, then push for it.

Toddler Tantrums are regular occurrences and from hell. Ugh. Just about anything will set him off. The level of freak out usually depends on how tired he is. Tired=Armageddon

Some of my other observations are...
  • He is obsessed with cars, car washes, trucks, butts, and getting in trouble.
  • He thinks he is the boss.
  • He announces what he is doing and thinking and needs. There are no boundaries or filters to what he will say.
  • He is constantly in the refrigerator and freezer looking for snacks. SUCKS!
  • He is doing this baby talk thing lately. SO ANNOYING!
  • He can sing all of the ad jingles on YouTube because I am a stellar parent. (Think: Wayfarer)
  • He still loves Mickey Mouse clubhouse. but will not watch more than 5 solid minutes of TV before running off to find a toy or trouble.
  • He loves to ride his tricycle... halfway on our walk then have me hold him and the tricycle the other half.
  • He is still a picky eater, but I'm thankful that I can get him to eat most any fruits, and a few veggies.
  • He loves to cuddle again. Which is awesome! 
  • He sucks at staying in his bed all night. SUCKS!
  • It's dance party all day everyday. Sometimes he doesn't even need a beat. He just sings and dances.
  • He has WAY too many toys, but somehow manages to play with each one daily.  I think it has something to do with the 10-second toddler attention span.  He can get through a toy box in 5-minutes.
  • He can run fast, climb high and jump on and off of everything. The kid is a heart attack to take to a jungle gym. 
  • He naps at noon and goes to sleep at 8:30... in a perfect world. It's more like give or take and hour... of me begging him to go to sleep!
  • He LOVES to color and make things. We have arts and crafts every day.
  • The kid is an absolutely adorable go-go-go independent brilliant pain-in-the-ass, and I could not be more thankful and blessed for this time I have with my bad ass toddler.

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Aug 20, 2014

I Feel Like I Start Every Sentence With... No, Honey, We Don't...

Somedays, I feel like I start every sentence with, "No, Honey/Ollie, we don't..." And then finish with whatever dumbassery the toddler is up to. You know...

No, Ollie, we don't...
  • Color on the walls.
  • Terrorize the cat.
  • Go outside without clothes/diaper/shoes on.
  • Jump on the bed/furniture/mommy's bladder/daddy's head when he is sleeping.
  • Throw our toys.
  • Announce every time we fart/"take a dump". (FTD is responsible for this one.)
  • Eat cupcakes/cookies/ice cream for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
  • Climb up the drawers to get on the kitchen counters.

You get the picture...

So what is this, "We" business anyway!  It's not like I'm the one announcing farts!

I've decided that I say, No, honey we don't, because "No" alone is pointless.  Every parent of a toddler knows to a toddler, the word,"no" alone with no further explanation means, HELL YES, DO THAT SHIT!!!  So needless to say, I'll say any phrase necessary to get my toddler to listen and stop doing "that shit!" 

I'm convinced this "We don't..." business somehow makes more sense to him. Like our pack doesn't do that, so you shouldn't either, and then magically he gets it. I also realize most times he is only listening because I am either holding him back, dressing him or taking something away simultaneously to drive home the, "We don't..." 

What's really got me on this topic is the way I say it to him. It comes out in this pitiful tone that sound more like, "Oh you poor boy, that's dumbassery?" Where as, when he is super naughty he gets the full angry tone of, NO! You don't do that because it is dumbassery and you know it! 

So after WAY too much thought on this, I realized I say the two depending on wether or not I want to be grouped into the dumbassery...

For example:

If Ollie announces his fart, he gets..

NO, Ollie, we don't announce our farts... 

If ollie farts on the neighbor's dog, he gets 

OLLIE! NO! That's naughty! You don't fart on the neighbors dog!

(Yes, it's happened-- he laughed so hard he farted again, then everyone laughed, and well, thanks to the hysterical laughter by all, he tried every time he saw that little dog until the day we moved. Yes, that's a whole other post...)

So you see...  the moral of the story... actually, I don't know. Other than, raising a toddler is funny and annoying at the same time, and I say the most ridiculous shit out loud on a daily basis.  

**Ok, now it's your turn, I want to hear your latest, "No, honey, we don't..." I know you have one... every parent does!
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Aug 19, 2014

BB Blocks: A Super Cute Way To Document Your Child's Milestones... #Giveaway

I received a set of BB Blocks to facilitate a review. All opinions are my own.

Something I have always regreted is not getting professional photos taken of Ollie when he was a newborn. I love those photos, and hate that I don't have my own. I know. Horrible right?  Still, it's not like I haven't personally taken four zillion photos of him since the day he was born. Still, none are great posed milestone shots. My neighbor just took her son to have his "3-year photos taken." The way she told me it sounded like, thats a normal thing for parents to do. Like, go get his 3-year flu shot. I just nodded, like, Oh yeah, the 3-year photos... 

Should I be having regular milestone photos? I download the photos I've taken of him regularly, but... well... I have only printed out a few. Is there something wrong with me? Should I be documenting with regular photo shoots?  Because, if so, crap!  I don;'t have the time or money for all of that.  But thankfully, now that I have these super cute BB BLOCKS, I can fake it tip I make it. Check this out...

Tell me that is not the face of a two year old devising his next round of mischievous toddler terrorizing! So cute.

The blocks are great to have around for playdates and sibling group shots and relatives. I've learned to leave the BB Blocks out so they are quickly accessible for a playdate photo bomb.

Each set comes with one larger block with "Weeks"- "Months- "Years"  and the two small blocks are numbered 0-9.

There are three different color schemes to chose from: Cotton Candy, Woodlands and Bold.  I have Bold.

If you want to document the whole family and need more than two blocks, you can also buy extra blocks separately. 

Want to get your hands on BB Blocks right now?  Good news, you can find them at a store near you!  To find a retail location for BB Blocks, or to order online, CLICK HERE.

Want to try your luck at winning a set?  Sign up below!

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Aug 18, 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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Aug 17, 2014

Parenting Fail: I Sort Toys... Everyday.

My name is April, and I'm a compulsive organizer and... I sort toys everyday. I have been doing it for about three years--Since before my son was born. Sometimes twice a day. I know what I'm doing is wrong, because when it comes to organizing a toddler's anything, it's pointless, but I can't help it, I LOVE ORDER! My friends, I hope making this confession today will be the first step to healing from this dumbassery.

This is what I do every night so I can sleep.
Each bin organized by toy type--
Books, Cars, Balls, Tracks, People, Animals, Musical Instruments...
It's a sickness.

I love organizing.  I love everything to have it's own place, and be in it. I love order, light, fresh air and simplicity. My toddler, however, only seems to like three of the four; order doesn't mean jack shit to him. He could care less if his car was in the car bin, or the people bin. I know, because when we have clean up time before nap time, he puts things wherever he wants.

It's a vicious cycle.
I sort. He destroys it.
Rinse. Repeat.
Every night, I go around the house with a laundry basket and pick up all of the toys at once, then sort them into their respective toy bin. Hours I have wasted doing this. HOURS. Being that I have been doing this sorting and resorting business since I was pregnant (FTD played with Ollie's toys before Ollie could), you'd think I'd know by now how pointless it is. I'm actually not sure which is worse, my compulsive sorting, or a two year old having so many damn toys that they need to be sorted. Especially because he can get hours of entertainment out of a cardboard box. 
FTD made him a car wash out of an old box.
He plays with it more than any other toy.
 He drives ALL of his cars through it a few times a day.
It's safe to say this cardboard box get more play than any other toy.
I have wasted so many hours of my life on this sorting dumbassery. And for what? My own happiness? Mr. Jack Shit Toddler, clearly couldn't care less. As much as I'm trying to teach him to get with the program, I know I'm asking a lot of a toddler. 

I need to let go of my chronic sorting... for now.

At least the every night business... 

I've got to learn to be happy with the fact the toys end up in any bin at the end of the day. The sun will still come up tomorrow, and the toddler will still wreck the joint. Sorting changes nothing. 

Who has time for all that resorting nonsense?

I know what Sweet Brown would say...     

Are you a chronic sorter too?
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Aug 14, 2014

First Time Homeowner Fail: I Called The Tree Police On Myself.

Being that I'm a fairly new first-time homeowner of a very old house, I'm having to learn some lessons about homeownershit the hard way. Like...

1. The home warranty people live to nickel and dime and annoy you.
2. A good plumber and electrician are hard to find and expensive as hell.
3. Bills are scary, and keep you up at night, so a good budget is key.
4. Owning a home on a corner lot in a desirable zip code with it's own garden tour is a lot of pressure, including from the city, which I just learned the hard way when I called the tree police on myself... by accident of course.

Our hundred year old home sits on the corner of a beautiful street lined by MASSIVE trees.  According to my neighbors, they were planted by the city and are about 40-50 years old. Some are in better shape than others, but for the most part they are uniform and lovely.  I have two on my property.

Our home is also located a couple of blocks from a middle school, and since school has been back in session, our sidewalk has become a kid highway in the morning and afternoon. One of the trees along the road is FULL of deadwood, and drops a few large branches every time the wind blows. Worried about the safety of the kid highway, I called the council, and said, Your trees by my house are full of deadwood, so you need to come deal with this hazard to children, ASAP!  

The council lady told me that she would put in the report, but that it was possible that even though the city planted the tree, I would be responsible for it since it's on my property. I explained that tree was sitting on the road, on the other side of the sidewalk from my house, and that I was sure it was the city's problem. Not mine...



The city arborist came out, looked at the tree and then got back in his truck. I went out to see what his plan for the tree was, and are you ready for this...

He gave ME a Citation!!



He told me that the tree was my responsibility, and that he wrote me a citation to have the deadwood removed, and would put in for a permit so the tree service that removes the deadwood can close half the street.


Citation? Permit? Tree Service? My problem?

He told me I had thirty days to get the tree taken care of, then he would come back and check it out and if it looked good, remove the citation.
Thankfully, it's not a huge amount of deadwood, and most of it has already fallen to the lower branches. 

Of course, I asked the million dollar question... Am I getting a fine or do I have to pay for this permit?

The arborist told me that there would be no fine, and that I just needed to have the deadwood removed and that was all I had to do.  The rest he would do.

I just looked at him and said, So I basically just called the tree police on myself?

Arborist: Yes, ma'am. You sure did. But don't worry, just get the deadwood removed and care for the tree and this will likely be the last time you see me.  Unless your sidewalk becomes a trip hazard.  

Oh. shit. Not the sidewalk too?

Arborist:  The sidewalk is the city's problem, so if the sidewalk becomes raised by 5 inches from over growth due to the roots of the tree, the city will come out and fix the sidewalk, but you would have to remove the tree first. 


So, now I have to make FTD climb a ladder and remove deadwood from the tree. No freaking way am I hiring a service!  It's bad enough I called the tree police on myself, I'm not adding a costly insult to my injury!  Besides, I have faith that FTD will do a fabulous job...

Lesson #444 from the first-time homeowners in the hundred year old house on a corner lot in the urban jungle: Don't call the council on yourself, call on your neighbors only. 

Want to know and see more about the 1920's fixer-upper, the renovations we have done so far, and the things we have learned?  Check out these other posts....
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Toddler Bed Update: It Sucks, I'm Buying A Real Bed.

The toddler bed is complete crap.  I mean crap to a level of having no more use in my toddler's room than a pile of crap. It's been almost two months since FTD drug the pile of crap into our house, and I told him then it was going to suck, and again everyday since. Ollie has not slept in his bed from start to finish more than three nights. At least TWICE a night, I am woken up by either the creepy toddler stare calling my name from the side of the bed, or him doing a really crap job of trying to sneak into the bed.  Everytime, I carry him back to his bed, most times with much protest. SUCKS!  I'm officially doing what I should have done in the first place, buying a twin bed. It turns out, I need a place to sleep now.

That stupid toddler bed has done nothing but wreak havoc on the nightly sleep routine in my house. I knew moving Ollie from his crib to a toddler bed would be a challenge, at first. I just had no idea that after two months of taking Ollie back to his bed every single time he got out of it, would do absolutely nothing to keep him in it...

Every night the madness starts at bedtime with Ollie INSISTING on me cuddling with him in the bed. "Mommy, feets up!" Take another look at that bed, does it look like I fit? Hell no! Does Ollie understand that? Hell no! So what do I do? What every other parent does in that situation, I do what ever it takes to get my kid to go to sleep... I do my best to get at least half of my body on the bed. Then, to make matters worse, Ollie also insists on cuddling with our cheeks touching and his arm around my neck in a 'sleeper' death hold, so the minute I try to sneak away, he can tighten down on me.

I do this with him every night, sometimes for up to 15 minutes. FAIL!

Then, as if cuddling in a screwed up contorted way for 15 minutes every night is not bad enough, within a few hours, Ollie is up and down all night. This means, I am up and down all night. Which leads to FTD getting bitched at every morning. Even the cat is annoyed! But, I had been warned so many times not to let him in the bed, that I was diligent about taking him back to his bed every freaking time! Did it ever work? NO! He still got back up an hour or so later.

So, two weeks ago, in an effort to stop some of the wakings, I let him stay in bed with us when I was either too tired to take him back to his crap bed, or it was after 5am, and I was afraid he would stay awake if I carried him back kicking and screaming. I decided doing that was a survival tactic, so it was OK.

But now this is pretty much what goes on in my bed EVERY NIGHT...
Letting him in the bed is nowhere near were the fail ends... after an hour of getting kicked and headbutted repeatedly, or just kicked off the bed, I go get in the toddler bed.

Yes, I get in the damn bed.

My legs hang off, my head is bigger than his toddler pillow, the blanket barely big enough to cover half of my body... Whatever, I go to sleep, and that's what matters. So what if I wake up in pain, and barely rested, it's still a better alternative to the kicks and headbutts. On the nights that I have the energy, I drag the damn toddler mattress on to the floor. It still doesn't change the fact that I am too big, and it sucks!

I know what you are thinking... Get a gate, lock the door, grow some balls, who's in charge...  Fair enough. But, I think I am just going to go with buying a twin bed, so I have somewhere comfortable to go at two in the morning...

I was warned that toddler beds were a waste of money, and I have to agree. Buying a big bed is inevitable, why not just buy one now? I told FTD that in the beginning, but since we were given the toddler bed, he took it.  FTD promised it would be OK.  He was POSITIVE Ollie was ready. My friends, this may be one of the first times ever that I am NOT glad that I was right and FTD was wrong.

I'll let you know how the twin bed goes...

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Aug 13, 2014

Can't Beat 'Em, Let 'Em Join. 5 Ways To Get Your Child To Help Around The House.

Some weekends, I have a higher likelihood of winning the lottery, than getting anything done around the house with a toddler in tow. Invariably one of three things will happen:

1. The minute I turn my back on my toddler, his built-in homing beacon for finding danger and trouble goes on high alert.
2. He follows behind undoing everything I've done. It was clean/fixed... three seconds ago.
3. He does everything short of handstands and flips to get my attention focused back on him.

Being that we just moved into our new fixer-upper house, and have a very long "To-Do" list, productive weekends are key. Each weekend, FTD and I talk about what we want to accomplish, and how the other can help, or look after Ollie. We learned early on that keeping our toddler happy and occupied, and getting work done, takes a very delicate balance. Most times one of us does something while the other looks after Ollie.

Frustrated that this method makes us half as productive each weekend as we need to be, I adopted the mindset of, "Cant beat 'em, Let 'em join you! When I looked at my list and realized some of the things Ollie could, not only "help" me with, he would like to do it too!  I started letting Ollie help me tackle my to-do list.

Here are five ways I tricked got my Toddler excited about helping around the house...

 1. Laundry. Ollie loves to help me do laundry. I've even created a fun learning game when sorting the clothes to keep him focused and engaged. First, I have Ollie help me sort the clothes. I ask him what the garment is and the color of it. If he gets it right, he gets the honor of throwing the garment in it's respective pile. Then I let him load the washing machine, while we count each thing as he throws it in.   
2. Preparing Snacks.  Ollie LOVES to help in the kitchen.  He is constantly trying to climb on counters, stir, chop, wash... he doesn't care, if it's going on in the kitchen, he wants in. I try to keep a wide variety of healthy snacks ready to go, so I don't resort to handfuls of goldfish and apple sauce pouches.  I will let Ollie pick the grapes off the vine and put them in the colander to wash and help me blend up the fruit and yogurt for his popsicles and put the lids on the filled popsicle molds.  

 3. Yard Work.  My boy loves to dig in the dirt. He has a small collection of bulldozers and shovels that he plays in the yard with. Thankfully, he's pretty lame at actually digging a hole, so I don't have to worry about massive toddler craters  taking over my yard. When I need to work in the yard,  I set him up close to where I am going to be working and let him dig away next to me. And when I need something raked, or help putting branches in the waste bags, he is always happy to help. Sometimes he really does help too! 
4. The Floors.  I have wall to wall hardwood in my house. Wall. To. Wall. That's a lot of dust-mopping and regular mopping. Ain't nobody got time for that! Well, a toddler does... I love my Swiffer dust mop. I attach the little magic dry mop duster cloth, and send him on his way. He happily pushes the dust mop around the house.  Of course, because he is a toddler with the attention span of a rock,   he only half does it and for only a few minutes, but if I leave out the dust mom he picks it up a few times a day, so in the end, it's helpful.  
5. Picking up and putting things away. Call it lazy--because it kind of is-- but I try to get Ollie to help get things for me and/or put them away every chance I get.  He gets so excited when he finds something and brings it to me. I'm still working on getting him excited about putting things away.                                                                                                              

I've realized that my kid genuinely loves to help me with all sorts of things. Yes, it takes twice as long and can get messy... but he gets so excited when he thinks he is being helpful, and thankfully, in a way, he's actually is..

How do you get your child involved?
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Aug 12, 2014

10 Parenting Things I Swore I'd Never Do...

For today's Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I would share some of my stellar parenting moments...

I miss the days when I was a perfect mother with a perfect child... you know, when I was childless and still swimming in self-righteous parenting ignorance. I'm pretty sure the saying, "Never say never.", came from parents saying it to non-parents. So far, almost all of my pre-parent, I will nevers... I have done. Here are 10 of my top "Nevers" that I do and say on a regular basis...

1. I will never let my kid do that in public!  Run through the store; have a meltdown; make a huge mess; talk back... All. the. time.

2. I will never say all of the stupid things my mom said to me!  I say it all, daily... "Don't make me turn this car around!" "You can sit there all night until you eat your veggies!" "Do you want something to cry about?" <---- I thought that was the all time stupidest thing my mom ever said!  I WAS crying, clearly I HAD something to cry about!  Now that I'm a mom... yeah, the shit kids cry about... now that's stupid!

3. I will never give my kid choices. It's my way, I am the mother. HAHAHA! What a load of crap! Choices make the toddler world go round.  They need to feel like they have some sort of control of the situation. That's how it's done!

4. My child will not eat candy or cakes on a regular basis. Sugar is bad!  "Ollie, if you... mommy will let you have a piece of candy." Desperate times, call for desperate measures.

5. My kid will watch no more than 30-minutes of TV a day. "Ollie, Micky Mouse is on!" ...for the third time today. I need 5 minutes to recompose my shit, or clean up his...  TV is gold.

6. I will never give my child my phone... "Ollie!  Here, play with mommy's phone." How else am I supposed to make it through the store, or waiting room, or talk to a friend in public?

7. I will never lie to my child. "Ollie if do this, we will go get a... go to... you can..." Not that I have any intention of following through... whatever it takes.  Whatever. It. Takes. (I do try to limit this to as needed, since I need it to work forever...)

8. My child's bedtime will never be like that... he will go to sleep easily, we will read books and snuggle. Pretty much, every night I say, "OLLIE!!!! GO TO SLEEP BEFORE MOMMY LOSES IT!!!" I use to think my sister was terrible for yelling at her boys and threatening them with everything under the sun to get them to go to sleep.  I couldn't understand why she didn't just read and cuddle them to sleep.  Bedtime is from hell... that's why.

9. My child will never be spoiled with mounds of toys he never plays with. Ollie is the fourth of 5 boys between my brother, sister and I. Between the hand-me-downs, FTD buying out garage sales, birthdays and holidays... I just gave away three boxes of toys and it still looks like Toys 'R US blew up in my house.

This is just the living room.
There is also the basement and his room...
and the front porch and back yard... 

and the floor and backseat of my car...

10. I will never be like that mom, and my kid will never be like that kid.  Somedays, we are worse.

What are your nevers?  Every parent has one... hundred.

Don't forget to cheek out this week's featured review...

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Aug 11, 2014

Calla: Handmade Hypo-Allergenic Organic Toddler Pillows. #Giveaway

*Today's post is being brought to you by Calla Creative for Calla Pillow, organic hypo-allergenic pillows for toddlers. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever tried looking for a toddler pillow? Let alone an organic one? Let's just say, it's frustrating. My little guy has a little bed, why should he have a huge full-size pillow? Not to mention, what that means for his little neck positioning. So far, I only know of TWO options for a toddler pillow on the market, and only one is handmade in the USA, organic, hypo-allergenic with a washable Cluster Poly Fiber Fill, and comes with a 3-year guarantee... Calla Pillows, organic toddler pillows handmade by parents with love. 

When the Calla pillow graced my doorstep, the first thing I noticed was how incredibly soft the organic sateen shell was.  I just kept laying my head on it! Upon further inspection, I could easily tell the pillow was handmade. I absolutely loved that. Even though the stitches were perfect, they were not machine measured on each side of the pillow, and the filling was extra stuffed, but still so incredibly soft for a little head.

In fact, the pillow's organic shell is so soft, a pillow case in not necessary. And since the calla pillow is 100% machine washable, it's just as easy to throw it in the wash, as it would be the pillow case.  I try to replace our pillows every 6-months, with Calla Pillows, there is no need to replace the pillow, just simply wash it! The pillow pays for itself before the 3-year guarantee is up!

  • 100% US Organic Cotton Sateen Weave Casing / Special Hypo-allergenic Cluster Poly Fiber Filling / No Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, or Flame Retardant Chemicals Used
  • Made in the USA from start to finish. Calla Creative is a family owned business. They source the cotton from certified organic farms. 
  • Hypo-allergenic.  The casing is soft and resists allergens and mildew. The special blend of poly fiber filling is also hypoallergenic
  • Certified Organic Cotton Sateen Cover. 
  • Safe for sleep. This pillow measures 13" x 18" x 3.5" and isn't too soft (or too firm). 
  •  3-year guarantee. Calla stands behind it's promise that the pillow won't lose it's bounce, even after years of washing. The casing, the filling and the stitching are designed for durability.
  • Great for school, travel and sleepovers. The washability alone makes it an awesome choice for a back-to-school pillow.  

    Throughout the month of August, Calla Pillow is extending a 15% discount to First Time Mom and Dad readers. Use code, "AG6GW2Q4" at checkout. To get more information, or to order your Calla Pillow now, CLICK HERE!

    Want to try your luck at winning one of TWO Calla organic toddler pillows?  Sign up below!

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    I Hit The Mommy Reset Button!

    I'm a firm believer in the importance of hitting the Mommy Reset Button, unfortunately, I forget to hit it until it's way overdue...

    My day usually starts abruptly with a crazy toddler pouncing on me, and most days doesn't stop until bedtime. Between Ollie keeping me on my toes all day, my freelance writing, this blog, unpacking  and renovating in our new house, I feel like I never stop going! Most days, I crawl into bed exhausted and think, What the hell just happened? 

    Like most moms, I go-go-go and rarely stop to take quality time for myself. After a fews weeks of the constant going, I start to run on autopilot. I feel like I'm just reliving the same cycle everyday. Eventually, it becomes depressing in a way. That's when I know it's time to go out, get away for a night with friends, and enjoy myself.

    Last week, when a girlfriend asked if I wanted to go out dancing, I immediately said, Yes, Please. We made plans to go to a fabulous club with three other girls and dance our butts off. I could barely wait, I needed a night out with the girls so bad...

    I forget how wonderful it is to get out and get away from it all, until I do.

    It's magic.

    I danced my butt off.

    I drank big girl drinks

    I had big girl conversations.

    I laughed until it hurt.

    I had the best time.

    I hit the reset button. 

    I'm all better now.

    My friends, I cannot recommend a reset night out enough. Get out, get away, recharge and laugh. If you haven't done it in a while, pick up the phone or email a friend to make plans. You deserve it.

    Don't forget to cheek out this week's featured review...

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    How I Help My Man Maintain His Aussie Swagger. #Combos4Success

    This post was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Old Spice. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

    One of the many cultural quirks of my Aussie husband, is his LOVE of perfumes, body washes and deodorants. This is not some new-to-America thing, he came that way. FTD owns more perfumes right now, than I have in my entire life! So when the holidays roll around, I stock up on the gift sets, most of all, the Old Spice Swagger sets. 

    He LOVES the Swagger scent the most. (With Fiji coming in a close second.) After each of his first few... hundred... times using the Swagger body wash, FTD would walk around with his Aussie version of the "pimp limp" to let me know he has some serious "head to toes" swagger. Of course, I laughed him out of the room, but I do have to admit, he smells after using the Swagger combo. The fabulous smell, plus the way it makes him have a little extra pep in his step is the reason I always make sure he is never low on his Swagger...

    Speaking of feeling super sexy and confident, clearly Old Spice is aware of the gold in a bottle they have with the Swagger line, because their latest marketing campaign includes a dude who is not a dude, but a poorly put together "mandroid" that uses Old Spice Swagger to score the ladies... and does he ever...

    FYI: This commercial totally reminds me of FTD being silly on the beach...

     (To See the Complete Mandriod campaign on YouTube, Click Here.)

    In an effort to stay on the pulse of manliness, Old Spice recently conducted a poll of 18-35 year old men to find out what some of their favorite combinations are... Favorite beer accompaniment? Favorite combination of food if you were stranded on a desert island? Best childhood toy/activity combo?  The answers are HILARIOUS! Check out this infographic outlining what the guys had to say...

    If you need to help your man maintain his Swagger too, or have a son who needs a little extra help keeping his cool during Back-To-School, check out these printable Old Spice Swagger coupons! (Expire September 30, 2014)

    Want more Old Spice?  Check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
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    Aug 9, 2014

    We've Called In The Design Professionals. (1920's Fixer-Upper Update!)

    I am hopeless when it comes to interior design. I have no idea what colors go together, what accent pieces would be best, that I should have a mirror in my entry way to ward off evil spirits, or something like that... Hopeless. So when Havenly Interior Design Group reached out to me about a partnership on my blog, I jumped at the opportunity.  I need help, and so does my house!

    Imagine having an Interior Designer, design every room in your house, for a tenth of the cost of most professional design consultation... That's what Havenly does!

    Here's How Havenly turns any room in your house into your own little heaven on earth...

    Getting your own personal interior designer is a simple has going to, and filling out a short survey about your design preferences.

    First you let them know if you are a guy/gal, what room you want to overhaul, and your ideal budget...

    Next you answer a series of questions, so your personal designer will know what you are into...

    And last, set up your FREE design consultation...

    Once I finished filling out the survey and set up my consultation call, I was asked to send in photos of the room I want to design. I chose our front room because it is MASSIVE and strange... It's 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and is split in half by our front door.  There are essentially two rooms in this one room and an entry wall that FTD and I have absolutely NO clue what to do with it!  Here have a look... It's a virtual tour!


    Here are some photos too...

    Within a couple of days, I was on the phone with my personal interior designer, Shelby Girard. Shelby asked me a series of questions about my design preferences, must have furniture already existing in the room, and how much my budget was. By the end of the 30 minute phone call Shelby felt comfortable about understanding my design preferences, and I felt super comfortable letting her design my entry room.  

    I was told the next steps would include her designing two room concepts using some of my existing furniture and new furniture, lighting, accent pieces and art. When they were ready (5 business days or less) I would need to login to my Havenly account, and make notes on the things I like and don't like about each room. I would also at that time be able to begin purchasing the pieces she is using in the room. That's right, not only do they design the room, they give you an online shop where you can buy as many of the design piece you want.  From the rugs, to the tables to the art, a virtual shop is created just for you!  LOVE IT!!!  By the time the phone call ended, I was so excited to get started... 

    And there you have it, I am working with Havenly to design my strange long room.  In an effort to really test drive this service, I am documenting every step of the way on the blog.  Over the next three to four Saturdays, I will be giving an update of the progress, so you can see for yourself if even the most hopeless person in the area of interior design can pull off a fabulous room with Havenly's help... a.k.a  Is it really worth the (Incredibly reasonable) $185!

    Stay tuned...

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