September 16, 2014

How to Potty Train in One Day

So Mila has been starting to take off her diapers, so we put out a little potty for her. (just to see what she would do) She will often point at her diaper now and if I say, "Would you like to use the potty?" she will walk into the bathroom and go. I think she is way too young to start potty training (for real) but all this potty talk has reminded me that it will be time for Mila to go diaper-free before I know it!  Today I have a guest post from the fabulous Amy Wood, who writes for the Smart Mom blog. (which is an awesome little blog, since I write for them too sometimes!) 



One of the biggest steps to becoming a toddler is learning how to go potty like everyone else. This big step can also be a dreaded nightmare for the parents. It doesn’t have to be and if it is done right it can be a very simple process for everyone involved. Potty training in one day is an excellent way to face it head on. 

Make Sure They Are Ready
One of the very first things you want to do is to ensure that your toddler is actually ready to be potty trained. Every child is different and not every child will be ready to potty train at the same time. It is important not to get discouraged if toddlers around you are becoming potty trained and your child is just not ready. The normal age to begin trying is between two and three years of age.
One of the first signs you want to look for in your toddler is keeping their diaper dry for at least two hours at a time. A lot of toddlers will start to dislike having a wet diaper and others will show a lot of interest in peeing like mommy and daddy do. 


What You Will Need
About a week before starting the potty training in one day method, you will want to start gathering things you may need. You will also want to start talking about it with your child to ensure they are prepared and can even get excited about being a big boy or girl.
You first need to decide if you are going to use a potty chair or simply a small potty seat to go on top of your existing toilet. Either of these choices will work. If you are going to use a reward system, you will want to choose the rewards you think will work best with your child. If you are training a little boy, you may want to have cheerios on hand or anything that is flushable and small that can be placed in the toilet as a target practice. Lastly, you can choose to use underwear or just go bare bottom. It is best not to use pull-ups when potty training since they feel just like a diaper to your toddler.


The Big Day
Prior to the big day you should have had a lot of discussions as to what is going to happen. You will want to explain getting rid of the toddlers diapers and wearing big pants like mommy and daddy. It is important for the parents to be prepared for plenty of accidents. This is going to require a lot of patience, but you need to face this with a no turning back attitude.
On the big day, you will want to wake your child up and make your first stop the bathroom. This will be your first attempt at potty training in one day. If your toddler does not need to go, wait 15-20 minutes and try again. 

Be prepared for a lot of repetitive actions of going back and forth to the bathroom. If you have a timer you may want to set it to ensure time does not get away from you. You will want to take your child to the bathroom at least every 30 minutes. Don’t get discouraged if they have an accident in between. 

As a parent, be prepared for many accidents before your child actually gets the hang of being potty trained. Most children will get the hang of it half way through the day. There are other children who may require a second day of training to get the hang of it.
The most important thing to remember, is not every child will be successful at potty training in one day. If they do not seem like they are going to be successful, wait a few weeks and hit it hard again.


Amy Wood is the mother 4 boys and 1 girl (yes, there's a set of twins in there!) She is married to her prince charming and they have a very busy life! She is currently a stay at home mom and writes for the SmartMom blog. Click here to download SmartMom and join the community today.

September 12, 2014

10 Ways I'm Better Now Than I Was 10 Years Ago

                    
It's my birthday! Woot! Woot! I am officially 35 years old! Leaving your 20's is tough, I remember having a hard time when I turned 30. Not anymore. I feel like this is the perfect age. (until next year... then THAT will be the perfect age)

Here are 10 ways I am better now than I was 10 years ago:

1. I stopped comparing. I used to always worry about what other people had. I would compare jobs, homes, clothes... whatever. These days, I don't care about that stuff. Someone is always going to be richer, skinnier, more successful. Now I am happy and thankful for what I have, and I don't waste my time comparing.

2. No more second-guessing. In my 20's, I was always second guessing myself. Now, I am more confident in my decisions. I am always open to advice, but I have found that trusting my instincts has rarely let me down.

I kept it understated for my 21st... as you can see.
3. I've learned to say, "No!" I can't tell you how many times I have stressed myself out by taking on more than I can chew. I thought I could do it all, but now I am wise enough to know I can't. So I have learned to use a wonderful word... NO. "I'm sorry, I can't make it to two birthday parties in one day." "Brunch sounds great, but this week was exhausting so I am going to have to pass." Once you realize that 'No' is a perfectly acceptable answer, your life will become much easier.

4. I am more forgiving. I spent many years of my life holding onto grudges. I have abruptly ended many friendships after getting hurt. But now I am much more forgiving. No one is perfect, and I have made plenty of mistakes. I try to consider both sides of the story, and talk about my feelings with people before just cutting them off altogether. But on the other hand...

5. I know when to let go. Even though I am way more forgiving than I used to be... I still know when it is time to let go. If I have someone in my life who refuses to make me a priority in the same way I do for them... or consistently lets me or my family down... I no longer try to hold onto the relationship. I don't need people in my life who aren't true and if a conversation doesn't resolve the situation, I am okay with that. I am mature enough now to wish them the best... and move on.

My hubby threw me the BEST 30th birthday party!
6. I am more comfortable with my body. After having two kids... there is no denying my body has seen better days. And while I may have looked better in a bikini 10 years ago, I FEEL better in one now. I am much more accepting of my body and my flaws. 

7. I enjoy myself more. I am much better at living in the moment. I try to enjoy what I am doing while it is actually happening. I don't worry about when the vacation will be over, I just enjoy the vacation. I try not to think about all the things I have to do while I am spending time with my kids. I have a long way to go with this one, but I am definitely better at it than I was 10 years ago.

8. I worry less. I will admit, I have a certain level of anxiety that is always around. I try to keep it under control, but I have always been a nervous person. As I get older, I have learned that worrying doesn't change the outcome, and usually I spend time worrying about something that never ends up happening anyway.

I got married 10 years ago this November!
9. I'm better at giving compliments. For some reason, when I was younger... I didn't give many compliments. I used to feel uncomfortable when I was complimented, so I never really gave them out. Now I try to give AT LEAST 3 compliments a day. They aren't forced, but often I find myself thinking, "Wow, she looks great in that dress." or "He got a haircut, it looks nice." Now, I just tell those people what I am thinking. I especially enjoy complimenting people on a job well done... and my favorite people to compliment are my sweet hubby & kids!

10. I am always thankful. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I try to remind myself to be thankful. When you really think about it, there is always something to be thankful for. I write these things down each night in my journal. When you are thankful and grateful for what you have, you become a happier person overall. And isn't that the ultimate goal?




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September 10, 2014

Can a Pillow Prevent Wrinkles?


                

My birthday is this week. I am feeling great about turning 35... but I am definitely noticing some... um... changes. 

Fine lines and age spots are more noticeable. I made an appointment for botox about 6 months ago, but as the day approached I realized I was so freaking terrified that I canceled it. That's not to say I will NEVER get botox... but I am way too chicken right now. 

In the meantime, I have beefed up up my beauty routine. I've been trying to remember to put on eye cream and moisturizer. I got a Retin-A prescription since my dermatologist said it was good for collagen production... but every time I use it my face peels off. (I know people say just wait it out and it gets better... blah blah)

So when JuveRest offered to send me a anti-aging pillow, I was super excited. I know the way I sleep has to cause at least some of my face wrinkles. I am a side sleeper... and I know I smush my face up while I sleep. I have never been able to sleep face up. My husband does and I have always said to him he is so lucky that he can sleep that way, since it prevents him from getting wrinkles. So this pillow is made to encourage you to stay in a back sleeping position, and also has special cut outs even for side sleepers like me. 


The pillow is a super soft and made of a foam material. I had read that the pillow takes some getting used to, but I didn't find that to be the case. I thought it was really comfortable to sleep on in the face up position. For the first time ever I can fall asleep on my back! It's crazy!

The side position however, felt a little weird in the beginning. It's hard to get your face in the groove just right. Now if I turn on my side I don't worry about the positioning, I just find the most comfortable spot.

The pillow costs about $180, which sounds like a lot. But in my opinion, a pillow is a good place to splurge since you sleep on it every single night, and a sucky pillow means a sucky night's sleep. The last pillow I bought was a memory foam one that cost $120 and I've had it FOREVER! So I am going to continue using my JuveRest since it is comfy, and if it gives me less wrinkles in the long run... that will just be a bonus! (all the pics in this post were sent to me by JuveRest, since I thought a picture of myself "fake sleeping" on a pillow would just be weird)

Click here to find out more about the JuveRest Sleep Wrinkle Pillow

JuveRest sent me a complementary pillow to facilitate this review, but you know all opinions are my own... and I DON'T mess around when it comes to a good night's sleep!

September 8, 2014

10 promises to my 1st grader

                   

I am finally getting the hang of this back-to-school thing, and this year I am really trying to stay on top it when it comes to my son's school. It was easy to let things slide in pre-school and kindergarten, but now he is learning some important skills, and I have to be on it!

So here are 10 promises to my sweet first grader:          
  1. I will pay more attention to your school calendar. I know mommy was not very good at this for kindergarten. This year, you won't go to school in your pajamas only to discover that pajama day was moved to next week. (I went right home and I got his uniform, he was only wearing them for 20 minutes... tops) I will save events right into my phone, and even set a reminder for myself.
  2. I will go over your homework each night. I know you do your homework on your own while I am at work, which makes me so proud. Last year, I just scanned over it after everyone went to bed. But this year I will spend 5 minutes with you after dinner to go over it. I will make sure it is correct and have you explain how you did it. This way, I will be more familiar with what you are studying and you will get extra practice explaining things to me. 
  3. I will plan your lunches ahead. I will buy healthy fruits and veggies and cut them up the night before so you have more in your lunch than just a PB&J sandwich and some stale goldfish crackers. (which are still quite tasty... by the way)      

  4. I will leave you healthy snacks. I know I am not there when you get home, so I am going to start leaving a list of healthy snacks you can have. No more ruining your dinner filling up on junk!
  5. I will make sure your uniform is clean. You will not be late because you are waiting for your uniform shirt to dry in the dryer. I went collared shirt crazy at the $5 back to school sale at Old Navy, so you will ALWAYS have a clean uniform ready to go in the morning. (this should be easy... but for some reason last year I kept running out of clean uniforms... shirts disappeared left & right)
  6. I will not give into pressure to do your school projects. I believe kids should do their own work, but after seeing some other projects last year, I have to admit, it was hard not to jump in and 'jazz' up some of your stuff. I cringed when you walked into school wearing your crazy, paper bag Indian vest and hat for the Thanksgiving show. The other kids had such detailed, fancy outfits, it looked like they were in a Broadway version of 'The First Thanksgiving." But you loved it. Because you made it all by yourself. (I really wish I had a picture... it was BAD) Later in the year, you made a REALLY amazing robot, modeled after your favorite Skylander. (I only did the hot glue parts) When you brought it to school, you were SO proud, especially when your teacher and fellow students told you how impressed they were. And you felt great telling everyone you made it all by yourself... because you really did.
    How awesome is this Skylander robot??

    This was last week's project, we even turned it in EARLY! (and Hudson was just thrilled about it, can't you tell?)

  7. I will collect box tops for your class. I know I have them on certain items, but I always toss them out. After hearing about the party for the kindergarten class who collected the most box tops, I promise I will save them this year.


  8. I will volunteer at a school event. I know how excited you get when you see me at your school, so I promise to take part in at least one school event. I'm thinking book fair may be a good one, since it starts first thing in the morning. I can volunteer a few hours before heading to work.
  9. I will meet you for lunch at least once. I talked about this in my post about getting involved in your kids school. I remember how much you loved it last year, so I promise I will find the time to do it again, at least a few times.
  10. I will read with you every night. I know sometimes I am tired and stressed and would rather just let you watch a show for a bit before bed, so I can get the dishes done or do some laundry. But I know how important it is to start good reading habits while young, so I have decided to make this a priority. No more skipping bedtime books.


Hudson, I know I'm not perfect, and I may get off track sometimes, but I am really going to try my best to keep these promises, since you are my most special boy... and your education is so important to me.

What are some goals you have this year, when it comes to your kids school year?




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September 3, 2014

Vacation from Social Media

                  

My husband has a huge family. (in comparison to the way I grew up... with just my mom, dad, and I) Each year, we all meet up for a 3-day weekend away. This year, we decided on Labor Day weekend.

We have found the best vacations are the ones where there isn't much to do. That might not make much sense, but we just have the most fun this way. Theme parks are great... and always tons of fun, but sometimes it's nice to just hang out.

Go FSU!
Camping-type places are always a safe bet, since the kids can be outside and make up their own games. There is very little TV watching or video game playing. The grown-ups have fun, too. We make big pot luck dinners, drink too much, ride around on golf carts, and play poker while the kids stay up WAAAAY too late. 

                    

My son says it's the best time he has ALL YEAR!

This year, I decided to take it one step further, by leaving my phone in the room. And NO SOCIAL MEDIA. I sort of did this on a recent staycation we took, leaving my phone behind most of the time, but I still checked in and posted some stuff online. 

Lately, I have been a bit social media obsessed. Specifically, when it comes to Instagram. If you follow my IG page, you know I LOVE to post a pic or two... or 5... a day. I love seeing what everyone else posts, pictures of their kids, their vacations... whatever.

Sometimes I find myself editing and cropping pics when I should be paying attention to my kids or my husband. (whoops) So this trip I decided I would just really enjoy myself and not worry about getting pictures of every cute moment. But I did make sure my husband had his phone, and when I wanted to take pic, I just asked him for it. (also, lots of other people were taking pictures, so I just had to steal them from Facebook)

I have to admit... it was SOOOO nice. It made me wish I could just get rid of my phone, then an hour after that thought... I was back on Instagram.

So here are a few pics of what we did this weekend... since you didn't see any of it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. ;)

                    

                    

                    


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September 1, 2014

Family Favorites: August

      

What a busy August we have had! We started it off with a little stay-cation by the beach and my sweet boy started first grade! Now it's time for FAMILY FAVORITES!

Lauren
Victoria's Secret Bathing suit 
No, I will NOT be posting any bikini shots! (you are welcome) But I have had a LOT of water-related events lately and I have to say I am obsessed with this suit. It is a bandau top that has underwire. It also has removable straps, so it stays on when I have kids hanging on me and I can go strapless when I am relaxing. (all 30 seconds of it) The bottoms are one of the scrunchy butt bottoms which are pretty flattering, and it has a flutter hem all around the edges... so NO pinching in. ("pinching in"... is that a technical term??)  It also doesn't get saggy or baggy once wet. Beach, pool, splash pad... this suit is super durable and I don't have to worry about anything falling out.

You can see the suit in some of these pics... kinda.

Donnie:
Waze App
My sweet husband loves this app. Especially now since he started a fancy new job. (yay hubby!) You type in where you are going and the app tells you how much traffic, car crashes, or construction you will have to deal with. You can also send a text to someone, and Waze send them a link so they can see your drive on a map, live. This works out well if I'm making dinner and want an exact idea of how far away he is. It does lots of other stuff, that I don't deal with. (Hey... it's my husband's favorite thing, not mine!)
                       

Hudson:
Nintendo DSi XL
My son has been begging for a DS for months. I finally caved and got him one for his 6th birthday and I am so glad I did. (I got it pre-owned at GameStop) He was SO excited when he opened it, especially since I told him there was no way I was buying him one. He mostly plays Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Kart, and he can even 'connect' with his cousins and they can play together using Wi-Fi.

                     

Mila:
Stacking Cups
Miss Mila has been obsessed with these stacking cups that we have had since Hudson was a baby. Some of the cups are missing, but she doesn't care. She loves building her little tower and knocking them down. She will sit there for a good half hour. Lately, I have been hiding different things under the larger cups and asking her to find the item I ask for. I also will ask her to hand me a certain color cup.

                  

Nothing in this post is sponsored or was given to me for free. I always tell you guys stuff like that. Here's to a WONDERFUL September! (it's my birthday month so I bet it will be a GOOD one!)  


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August 28, 2014

Bye-Bye Paci's!


                     
 
Baby girl has been paci-free for almost two weeks now. It was a fairly easy transition, considering how obsessed she has been with her pacifiers.

With my son, I was super strict.  I took his paci away right on his first birthday. I only gave it to him for naps and at bedtime. With Mila, I didn't even really think about taking her paci away. (she is one and a half) To be honest, I kind of forgot about it.

Then I noticed all the pictures I had of her involved a pacifier. It was either in her mouth, or she was holding one. (or two.. or three)  I casually tried taking them away... so she started hiding them around the house. I would take one away... and she would run into her playroom and magically re-appear with a pacifier in her mouth. My husband and I searched the house, and found pacifiers stashed ALL over the house. In the drawer of her crib, inside the seat of her ride-on bus, buried in my son's toy box... this girl doesn't mess around. 
Paci's, paci's everywhere!

I decided since she was so obsessed, I should probably take them away sooner rather than later. So, since I had three days off in a row, I decided to pull the (paci) plug. I took it away Saturday morning when she woke up. And that was it. No breakdown. No crying. She did point to the counter we usually keep them on a few times, but I just said "No" and that was it. Now she knows in the morning she has to give up the goods. The only difference is, she used to throw her paci's at us when we would walk out of her room at night, she doesn't do that anymore. She holds on tight. Ha!

No more paci!
I am shocked with how easy it was. To be honest, I didn't think it was going to work... and I was ready to give her another 6 months with the paci. I will count this as a parenting win. (they are few and far between, so I will take what I can get!)

August 26, 2014

4 ways to start your weekday off right

    
             
It's been one week since Hudson went back to school, and I forgot how crazy things get! We were a bit off of our routine, but now things are falling back into place. So today I have 4 tips to start your weekday off right!

1. Prep the Night Before: Everyone should know this one by now. It is HUGE! Whatever you can get done at night.. do it. For us, it means setting out Hudson's school uniform and I try to pick out my clothes for work as well. Also, I prep and chop veggies for everyone's lunch, and plan what we will have for dinner, in case I need to take stuff out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. I make sure homework and school papers are in his backpack and ready to go.

2. Rise & Shine: If your kids wake up in a good mood, your morning will be easier. This is a fact. So do what you can to make that happen. Hudson is a total grouch in the morning. So I start waking him up earlier, so he has time. (I mean, I don't like to jump right out of bed, either) I will go in his room while its still dark and whisper "Good Morning, Sunshine!" I will tell him what a beautiful, fun day he has to look forward to. Then I will ask if he is still tired, to which he always says, "Yes." Then I tell him he can sleep for 5 for minutes. When I go back in, I open one of his window shades to let some natural light in. The little bit of extra time is worth it, I think everyone likes to ease into the day!

3. Don't stress out: We all have days when we are late. Try to take a deep breath and don't stress out. If you woke up late, don't take it out on the kids. Yelling at them to get ready faster because your alarm didn't go off isn't fair. Just do the best you can to rush out the door, but try to stay calm.

4. Breakfast is Important: A good breakfast will help you start your day off right. Which is why I always have some quick, to-go options for days when we are rushed. For me, I'll make a smoothie or grab my coffee along with some fruit & greek yogurt. For Hudson, I have been really loving the Super Nutrition Shakes from Happy Family. Each shake contains 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 21 vitamins and minerals, so I know he is getting a good 'meal' that will keep him full until lunch. He can drink them in the car on the way to school... or chug it quickly before we leave. Last week, he wanted to ride his bike to school, but we had to rush out the door if we wanted to make it to his class in time... and he hadn't had breakfast yet, so I grabbed a shake and we were on our way!

                   
What are some tips & tricks you use to make your mornings easier and start your day off right?

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