A New Pair of Shoes = Confidence at EVERY Age…(or is that just my excuse?)

Here I go AGAIN! Writing about the excitement I find in SHOES. Call me a GIRL OBSESSED! ARGH. As you who follow me know, I have written about the importance of shoes for babies in, “It’s All in a Girl’s Shoes,” and the fun of shoes for babies and toddlers in, “Bubblegum Scented Toddler Shoes,” and I’m about to share a combo about the importance, fun and my plain LOVE of shoes! Can a new pair of shoes help build confidence???I purchased my sons each crib shoes (shoes for fun to put on while they are babies and can’t crawl or walk that mainly match their outfits). Sounds like a HUGE waste of money, right? That’s what my hubby said. But I purchased them when they were 4 months old and starting to use the walker in the house and when we would go outside (I bought both pair on clearance at 50% off). I think it’s important that they get used to the feeling of wearing shoes. Like my post about my daughter’s shoes – her first fitting for shoes she was just 10 months old THAT DAY and that same evening, she walked for the first time. I think shoes give them balance and extra confidence a bare foot or sock foot with grippers don’t quite give (my opinion of course!) There are so many cute shoes for girls – (I could’ve spent a fortune but I DIDN’T!) But for my twin sons, I decided to go with Robeez which are known for having a snug fit that are more difficult for baby to kick off.

Why Robeez? “Robeez footwear mimics bare feet by flexing and bending with every step. Supporting not constricting growing feet, they promote good balance and unrestricted growth, while protecting little feet from the world. They stay on too, with elasticized ankles to ensure a perfectly snug fit.” From Why Robeez? They also have a downloadable shoe sizing chart (download Robeez Foot Sizing Chart). Love these little shoes with their orange soles for summer!  

This is my little Maxton who took to “walking” immediately in his walker just like his agile big sister. He will also soon be crawling and I am putting his Robeez on to ensure he has enough “GRIP.” So that’s my story on confidence for my boys!

You recall my post about bubblegum scented toddler shoes made by Mini Melissa? I decided against them just a few months ago because I wasn’t 100% sold on a pair of plastic shoes for a toddler (even though I grew up in the original era of “jellies” and had a ton!) The Melissa Brand shoes smell like bubblegum. Yes, bubblegum. They are a sustainable plastic shoe that is infused with a perfume that smells like bubblegum. Made of PVC recycled plastic, these “mini” versions of the adult Melissa line, are seriously “adorbs.” I must say, I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted Mattelyn sporting a pair of bubblegum scented plastic shoes. But the sales associate assured me this is one of their biggest sellers for toddler sandals in the spring and summer season. WHO KNEW. While shopping recently for a pair of new shoes for myself POST PREGNANCY, we ran to the children’s department at Von Maur so Mattelyn could look at the train they have displayed and to “smell the Melissa’s,” now something Mattelyn likes to do. LOL. 😉 And lo and behold, the very pair of black Mary Janes with brown bows that I fell in love with were on sale 50% OFF. Yep, we bought them.

Mattelyn was thrilled, wore them out of the store, and sat in her car seat knotted like a pretzel with both feet pulled to her nose repeating, “Mmmmm! Smell, mama!” That evening (and every evening since) she runs to put on her new shoes and tells her daddy everyday when he gets home from work, “Look my new shoes.” So cute, I had to share!

And, Mama got a new pair of shoes too. My first pair of shoes for “going out” after my pregnancies. (Read, first pair of HEELS since giving birth). I LIVED in heels in my not so long ago previous life as a career woman. You couldn’t find me without heels on one, because I am 5’2″ tall (or should I say short!?) And two, I worked in a fast-paced downtown advertising agency and my title of Executive ensured I would wear heels the rest of my life! (Which was fine by me!) But even when they came out with tennis shoes with platforms, I was IN because I just couldn’t wear a pair of flat shoes. Needless to say, as with everything else – EVERYTHING CHANGED WITH BABIES. I am sure I will get back to my heels someday – but for now, none of my old heels fit (my feet grew a 1/2 inch with both pregnancies). So I have a GORGEOUS array of beautiful shoes just waiting to be donated. I can’t part with quite yet, but I did get rid of my first “round” with the birth of Mattelyn. Second round is soon! My birthday is today and my anniversary with my husband was yesterday. So this weekend, we are leaving the babes at home with my mother and father-in-law who have offered to drive up to stay the weekend to watch them – – that is two 7 month old twins and a rambunctious 2 year old. I am nervous about leaving them – the thought of not saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses is REALLY difficult for me. Plus, I am hormonal as all get out…just ending breast feeding. I may have some post partum baby blues! They will be in loving care with their Mimi and Papa and I have no worries that way, it is just the initial leaving them all. *I am positive I will cry all the way downtown. Poor hubby.* I tried on a pair of new shoe boots with a good, sturdy, thicker heel that is only 3″ tall. They are a neutral color and I think will be a perfect complement to my attire for Saturday night’s outing on the Riverwalk along Chicago’s Riverfront that we are planning to do with a couple of close friends of ours who live downtown. I am excited and somehow, in my warped mind, I think having a new pair of shoes will give me the confidence and extra excitement I need to GET ME OUT THE DOOR Saturday night! (I will post a picture of me and my new shoes during our date night Saturday if you are interested at all in seeing them!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Please share your favorite shoes for baby, toddler or yourself! I always want to know what I’m missing out on!

XO ~ Your Shoe Obsessed Mama

The “ROOT TRIO” Veggie Puree’ – Baby’s First Tastes

This may sound cliche, but I find great joy in making fresh, organic, homemade baby food for my babies! It is SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME that they actually eat baby food. They can’t eat solids until 6 months, and they are often ready to move on by 8 months. And yet, during this small timeframe SO MANY GOOD EATING HABITS ARE ESTABLISHED. They learn to “chew” and swallow properly which also assists in their muscles that aid in speech. It’s hard to believe it’s really only two months we need to provide our children with such important “firsts” but it truly makes a difference down the road. Especially when introducing as many new flavors and textures as possible. I don’t like the flavor of baby food you can purchase on the shelf in the store – the preservatives make it storable for up to two years. And it DOES NOT TASTE LIKE BABY FOOD (in my opinion). The preservatives often make everything taste sweeter than normal and create a false expectation that all foods are sweet and they don’t learn an early appreciation for savory flavors which make up the majority of what we eat as adults. Baby food should taste just like what we eat but with less spice, perhaps. Our main objective when training our babies to eat is to eventually get them eating what we eat. If their first foods don’t taste like our food, and if they don’t get introduced to new flavors early on, they won’t be apt to trying different flavors and textures when they are toddlers. Which makes for picky eaters.

My 7 month old twins LOVE this “root trio” veggie puree so I wanted to be sure to pass it along. My daughter loved this too. It’s so important at this stage in their weaning to solid foods to introduce AS MANY new flavors and textures as possible! The more they try at this age, the more open to new flavors they will be when they’re toddlers. Plus, the more likely they will be to establish good eating habits early on. (If you are interested in reading more about stage one weaning and why I believe so much in this, check out my post on my first go around making my daughter’s organic homemade baby food – I read SO MUCH the first time around and I learned a ton that I try to pass along to you, “Homemade Organic Baby Food – My Journey,” and “Part Two: My Journey Making Homemade Organic Baby Food.”)The root trio veggie puree’ is simply carrots, sweet potato and parsnips steamed and then pureed in a blender with the water used while steaming. Root veggies are naturally sweet and puree easily to a smooth consistency. Add a little of baby’s regular milk to make it the consistency they like. Introducing your baby to a new flavor like parsnips or rutabaga might not appear to be your first choice but doing this early on really does open doors to what they will try later on in the toddler years. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene and are richer in nutrients than regular potatoes. One more to note – organic carrots, rutabaga and parsnips are best to use for baby (and yourself) as they are more susceptible to absorbing chemicals in soil than other vegetables. And, the darker the organic carrot, the more mature and more full of flavor and vitamin A and beta-carotene. Parsnips are a root veggie that is a relative of the carrot family. They are often sweeter when cooked than the carrot and make it a perfect pairing for the sweet potato and carrot and a delicious first food puree for baby.

I would love to hear about the best first foods you chose for your babies! As always, I would love it if you followed me here! I live to share new learnings and pass along anything I have found to be helpful to other new parents.

Enjoy your Monday! It’s a new week full of firsts!

XO ~ Stephanie

Motivation and Unexpected Inspiration…

36 Weeks Pregnant Singleton vs Twins (1)

During the post-partum journey, it is a struggle to find any “normalcy.” Hormones are raging little wars in your mind making things that would typically be commonplace in your day, something to be reckoned with. Breast feeding tricks your corpulent body into thinking it’s still pregnant holding onto every minuscule fat cell in case your baby needs it. Stretched hips, stretched skin, stretched abdominals all aching with the recent gestation of human life. Human life that grew inside my body, in this case, two human lives. While I bask in the fortuitous blessing of twin sons, my heart skipping every other beat with each giggle and smile, I can’t help but to cringe when I notice my husband glancing at my voluminous profile when I walk in the room. Pushing the oversized stroller in the first couple of months made me feel like my body was “covered.” Having given birth to twins 7 months ago Saturday I often hear, “You have an excuse – you just had twins!” While the very statement is true, I can’t help but understand it implies “You’re fat my dear, but it’s okay. Look what you just went through.” Everything changes when you have a baby and there are days when I am so overwhelmed with joy that my heart actually aches with happiness and I am in a constant state of AWE. Complete and total AWE. It’s with great vexation that I say I spend the other 50% of my days thinking about the horrific state my outward appearance is in. Is that fair? No way. My body just internally ran 6 plus marathons for 10 months. I just went through one of the hardest to endure physical moments of my life. And with a smallish frame at the height of 5′ 2′ my body was surprisingly capacious! My husband towards the end would lament that my tummy looked like a torpedo, (sexy, right??) Still, I managed to nourish both of my sons at the breast for the first 6 months of their lives and to care for them night (I emphasize all night long) and day, making them and their two year old sister my priority number one. I suffered minor hip displasia and severe diastasis recti as a result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or “loading.” Both of which make exercising and typical running regimens a new found obstacle. Any sundress I attempt to don proudly emphasizes my new “pooch” that resembles a 5 month pregnancy, held high as though I am carrying a girl, right under my boobs. While I smile with pride and presumed blithe going about my day, I can’t help but feel solicitous about my appearance. What I endured was worth every single moment of pain and discomfort. It was worth all of the sleepless nights (then and now). But must I look so FLUFFY???

Now as I move forward and try to find motivation through helpful Websites, challenge groups, blogs by women in the same situation, I am finding solace in “this is what it is.” There is an insurmountable barrage of get skinny fast gimmicks, promises to “lose the baby weight once and for all” with celebrities at the forefront sporting amazingly fit three-month post-pregnancy bodies in bikinis I wouldn’t have worn pre-pregnancy. I hung a photo on my fridge pre-pregancy that made me feel good for about a week. I changed the photo on my iPhone to the same photo so I could be tortured with every glance and I watch everything Hollywood with a discerning eye. I am on a journey, that is for sure. Not to get my pre-pregnancy body back, but to begin diminishing this giant waistline I now have. I am in a downswing currently with body image driving my desire and it’s not what I want. I need to focus on long term results that of being a healthy, fit mama to these three bambinos. I know my determination and hard, tire less work will undoubtedly pay off. I need to take a moment to relish and pay tribute to what this magnificent body of mine just went through. In a matter of two years, I brought three human lives into this world. And I am not advocating for a superfluous outpouring of comments from my followers, I simply wanted to provide insight into my daily fight so you can know you’re not alone, in whatever your journey is at this moment. I also have decided today, I am going to use this photo of me 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter and 36 weeks pregnant with my twin sons as MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION to reach my fitness and health goals, rather than a photo of Beyonce’s amazing unjustifiably perfect post-pregnancy body. Because if I could go through that, then I can go through anything. Including finding that smaller me inside this hard-to-recognize body. Stand tall and fight the good fight. With fortuitous vigor I didn’t even know my body and mind had, I was met with accomplishing something I never knew I wanted and that was carrying twins without any bed rest or any physical problems, full-term, at “advanced maternal age.” Temporary pain, forever the gain. No truer words have been put to the test for me right now.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – Abraham Lincoln

Are you feeling this way? Do you have something to share? I would love to hear from you as always.

Put yourself to the test today and find the beauty within the fight you’re fighting – be it to be a better you, to help someone out, to be there for someone that needs you or to put a stamp on something you believe in. Today is a gift and tomorrow is just a promise. Live with high hopes and dreams. I have to remind myself of this at times (sometimes twice daily). Love to you all!

XO ~ Stephanie

A Couple of Tutus Makes a SWEET Visit Even Sweeter!

Ludlam.6.2015-0119-3Two years ago when Mattelyn was born, I, along with tons of other mom and dads-to-be, went out and purchased a DSLR camera to “capture” those important, special, fleeting moments with a newborn baby. And, like so many other mommy’s and daddy’s, I increasingly began to take horrible photos that I was frustrated with. I spent some time researching “why is my photo blurry,” “why is my photo so dark?” As my photos improved, my creative light began to shine. I really began thinking about every time I took a photo. I look at professional’s photos and feel INSPIRED. I connect with their vision and then see my own. I definitely haven’t found “my look” yet but I’m working towards it. And here I am, two years later, actually shooting in manual (never thought that day would come) and I am getting more confident in the shots I am getting as they’re increasingly “closer to what I envisioned.” With that, I have shared my photos intermittently through Instagram and Facebook and have received some very gracious (and rewarding) compliments/comments. As apprehensive as I am, I have now begun “officially” calling this a hobby because I upgraded my camera (still not a full-frame yet) to a Canon 70D (mainly for the high-definition video it takes), and purchased a new professional lens, (yes, only one! But it’s a start…). I have yet to take a real camera shooting course or an editing course, but between nap times, many late nights and the rare moments to myself, I have managed to teach myself a few things. I have dabbled in some online work and I believe I can now finally say I am okay with most of my photos.

(I wish I was the type of person that just EXUDED confidence in everything I do and had full-on ability to just OWN my work without hesitation, but alas, that isn’t me! So I am my biggest critic to date).


That said, we were just blessed to have my sister-in-law and her beautiful family visit us from West Palm Beach, Florida. Not only are they a GORGEOUS little group of people, but she was “willing” to allow me to practice my first “mini-shoot” on location to capture some moments with her beautiful family and to hopefully get a family portrait for them. I am FINALLY happy with these photos after I shot them – I downloaded and am used to taking 200 photos to get TWO that I REALLY LIKE. This time, however, I was careful when shooting and thought about the sunlight and the time of day. Although I still struggle because I have a two year old crying and holding onto me the whole time no matter what, I still feel I got what I set out for. And my sis-in-law, (isn’t she to die for gorgeous??? In person, too!), was gracious enough to agree she loved them and would let me finally share something I believe in.

Ludlam.6.2015-0560 Ludlam.6.2015-0579-2 Ludlam.6.2015-0603

So in short, I want to share my first attempt at a family other than my own and a mini-shoot. As a hobbyist, I can finally say I now know what I would like to be doing in my professional life (if I didn’t have three babies)! 😉 Shooting family and friends!!! Providing them with what I see when I look at them. Which is all the beauty in the world! This is now my passion and I hope to improve greatly. Who knows, someday maybe I will get the nerve and time to start something??? Until then, here’s a slide show of some of my favorite shots. The little 2 year old spunky brunette is my daughter Mattelyn and the 4 year old cutie pie is my niece Chayse and the 2 year old handsome man is my nephew Ryder.

I still have A LOT of work, but I am happy with where I’ve come in two years and I wanted to share with any of you that may be on this same journey – maybe we can exchange ideas!!! Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. And, I need more practice!

XO ~ Stephanie

Quick Post! How to Cook the Perfect Hard Boiled Egg…

 The SIMPLEST of things I often find difficult. Isn’t that silly? Likely because I over think everything or I am moving too fast and haven’t taken the time to learn how to do it properly. Have you ever done something OVER and OVER again sub-par because you just “kind of know how to do it” or “pretty much remember how” but never really take the time to LEARN how ONCE AND FOR ALL? I am CONSTANTLY doing this and I think to myself, if I am doing this all the time, others must be too. (And yes, doing the same thing all the time and always expecting a different outcome is the very definition of insanity – but I swear I don’t do the same wrong thing every time, it’s always something different!)Boiling a hard boiled egg is one of those things for me. And, I actually have pet peeves that go along with boiling a hard boiled egg wrong! Like that weird green layer that can show up around the egg yolk, or the egg that has a shell that won’t come off no matter what and I spend half an hour DESTROYING my hard boiled egg just to get the shell removed. Or the hard boiled eggs that are half cracked when you’re finished making them. Even more still, ever wonder how long you can store them in the refrigerator once they are hard boiled? UGH. Yes, ALL of those things bother me and almost without fail, I have one or all happen each time I attempt to hard boil eggs. Not only are hard boiled eggs DELICIOUS and a PERFECT SNACK, they fit into any diet, are grab and go easy, perfect for a toddler’s snack and just the right amount of protein and fat – some would say it is the PERFECT FOOD.

 I want to give quick, no fail directions (without the amount of detail that I could give. I AM that pedantic, but try desperately not to come across that way through my blog!!!) I am going to HIGHLIGHT the few steps that will garner a PERFECT hard boiled egg EVERY SINGLE TIME and provide you a link to a site that will give you every detail (and I highly recommend reading it at least once)! These helpful guidelines come from What’s Cooking America?, a Website I have had bookmarked for AT LEAST the past 4 years. None of these will sound out of the box and all will likely seem common sense – but each is key:

1. You need eggs that are 3-5 days old. Buy a dozen just for hard boiling and let them sit in the fridge for 5 days.

2. Take them out of the fridge for 30 minutes before you boil them so they aren’t fridge cold (will prevent them from cracking when you begin boiling).

3. Place in a pot in one single layer and cover with water JUST enough to fully cover your eggs.

 4. Do not add salt (read about why on their website!)

5. Bring water and eggs to a rapid boil and immediately REMOVE FROM HEAT and place a lid on the pot.

 6. Let sit for 17 minutes. EXACTLY 17 minutes – this is the cooking process and the time it takes for a large egg’s yolk to harden.

7. At 17 minutes, carefully remove eggs from the hot water and add to a bowl of freezing cold water (even with ice) which stops the cooking process.

 8. Let sit in the cold water for 10 minutes.

9. That’s IT! When you want to eat one, tap the shell to break it on the larger end of the egg while running under cold water. The shell will come off almost whole. It’s the coolest thing!

    10. Store in the refrigerator for one week.

 I swear I’ve been hard boiling eggs the wrong way for most of my life. Hope this is helpful for you all. Go ahead and bookmark it if it’s helpful to you. Each time I make hard boiled eggs now, I can’t believe how perfect they always are!

Wishing you all a happy first day of Summer!!!!

XO ~ Stephanie

Potty Training: It Worked. Our Process. 

I was skeptical as you all know about the whole idea of potty training my 24 month old daughter. Was she ready? Was I asking too much of her? Was it too soon since the twins were born to expect this from her? I just wanted the answer. Like I mentioned in my previous post, “To Potty Train or Not to Potty Train, that is the Question…”, my mom was staying with me helping with the twins and Mattelyn until I felt I could

 handle this situation on my own. She thought while she is here, why not help me potty train her so I would have one less baby in diapers by the time she left?? (Brave woman, she is a saint! And good idea!) Mattelyn was showing all of the signs that she is ready, so I trusted my instinct, my mom’s optimism and moved forward with potty training (with skepticism and worry).

We loosely followed the book, “Potty Train In A Weekend,” by mom of four, Becky Mansfield. (For a list of what we used, read “Potty Training: The Starting Lineup.”) We determined three days would be spent doing nothing but taking Mattelyn to the bathroom. Yep – three full days with absolutely nothing in mind from morning to bedtime except the potty. (It seemed too EASY. That right there told me it would be much more difficult. After all, we ARE dealing with a tiny person who has a spunky little feisty personality. With two year old expectations and temper tantrums daily over the fact that she didn’t want milk in her sippy cup but rather apple juice, to wear her open-toed white sandals when it’s 40 degrees outside and insists hot dogs are okay to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reasoning with her consists of us asking her to please wear her sunglasses and hat outside to which she replies, “Yes, mama! Sun and hat, mama!” wearing both proudly around the house only to walk out the door and sunglasses and hat stripped off and on the ground immediately with a huge smile on her face). We rolled up all of the carpets, blocked off two rooms where she would spend the days “camping out.” (Camping out meaning being constrained to two rooms that connect to our bathroom; eating in the room and singing and dancing as though it was a really special time to spend with her grandma like camping out. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in those two rooms not in the kitchen. Rules can be and were broken during these three days). Mattelyn ran around all day with no pants on. No pants, no undies and no diaper (my husband just shook his head and I could tell he was just a tiny bit hopeful but not expecting too much).

My mom set the timer on her iPhone that went off every 20 minutes the first day, the ENTIRE DAY.

Every time it went off to a “samba” song, she and I would encourage Mattelyn to “run” to the potty as though it was a fun game – and she loved it and began anticipating the song that accompanied my mom’s phone alarm. We filled her with juice, (apple juice mixed with prune juice) to encourage her “to have to go.” She also had a special NEW water bottle her daddy brought her home after work one day just for water that we kept filled. We fed her frozen grapes, applesauce and gave her bananas (along with her regular snacks and meals). We used a crazy fun straw to encourage her to fill up on her liquids. She ate sitting on a hand towel at her little table in her playroom or on the floor for “fun.”

Eventually, she needed to go potty. She showed signs like crossing her legs and running around anxiously on her tippy toes. We just kept putting her back on the potty chair and eventually, she (accidentally) went. She had never heard the sound of peeing; the “tinkle.” As soon as she went, we clapped and congratulated her and did a bunch of happy dancing. It was a WIN. Honestly, I believe she was potty trained that day – day number one.


Nothing was lost on her. She peed and pooped both the first day. She also did both the second day. We rewarded her with washing her hands (she loves water and soap, standing on her step stool) and she got to FaceTime with one of her favorite people if she pooped on the potty. (She LOVED doing this and her first request was to call her daddy at work – so cute!) She also got to send a photo of herself after going to anyone she wanted to (mostly to her Papa).

The key is consistency and not giving up on them. This is such a hard (but exciting) time for them. The whole situation is foreign and feels weird. We tried to remain upbeat and really kept the encouragement high. When we got tired, we pushed through. We made sure to keep everything in the day fun and exciting FOR HER. We colored, sang songs, read new books, watched TONS of other kids on YouTube videos singing and doing the “Poopy Dance” and the “Potty Celebration Dance.” We practiced flash cards and we played with a ton of her toys and read books about going potty, (to the point that she had one pretty much memorized by the end of the three days).

Holding It.

Then we began to recognize she was starting to hold it in. She adamantly refused to put on a diaper and she only wanted to wear undies. But she wouldn’t go. Not in the toilet and not in a diaper. And, she wouldn’t have an accident either. She was just HOLDING IT. And it was getting worse and worse – she was beating herself up over the whole scenario – it was a true, real struggle going on within her little mind. It was really sad. She was pretty much beside herself by the weekend after the three days and and was holding it and going both one and two over night in her diaper.

“The potty training wasn’t the hard part. She was potty trained the first day – she is smart and knew exactly what we wanted her to do and she was happy to oblige. It was the idea of GOING on the potty chair that was freaking her out.”

Unfortunately, I began to doubt myself. I told myself she was too young. I told myself we pushed it when we shouldn’t have. I really had a rough time watching her cry and get frustrated because she didn’t want to go AT ALL. We tried everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. In order to get her to feel comfortable with going on the potty chair, I read that giving her a sucker or lollipop while on the potty would encourage her to sit longer and keep her mind off of WHY she is actually sitting there, taking the anxiety away, and eventually she will go – you take it away if she gets up.


We tried having her sit on her potty chair in her playroom while she ate lunch and watched her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad to keep her mind off of the task at hand. I took a picture of her dolly “Lala” sitting on the potty chair and printed a photo of it while Mattelyn napped so when she woke up, she could see Lala potty training, too. I taped it to the lid of her little potty chair. When she woke from her nap, we told her we were potty training Lala – and she LOVED this idea!


I created a playlist “Potty Training Lala” on YouTube of potty songs including “The Poop Song.” This Poop Song is ridiculous but she watched it with intensity on the iPad, on my iPhone and my mom’s while sitting on the potty and I really believe it resonated with her. (Here we are three months later and she still knows the words to the song!)

Everyone wears Mattelyn’s new undies on their heads…

Three days after the three day potty training I determined I could not watch her run around upset with herself anymore. I was especially taken back by how strong headed she truly was and I learned a great deal about how she is going to handle difficult situations in the future!!! (This was when I posted the poem I wrote to her, “Potty Training: A Message to My Daughter.”) She had eaten and it was time to go number two (she “hides” behind a toy to go) so I took her into the bathroom and told her she and I weren’t coming out until she went poopies on the potty chair. She screamed and cried and threw things and hit and kicked me and three HOURS later, she went on the potty chair. Finally.

  She realized it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t going to hurt and it was okay. High fives and a phone call to her grandpa and she was celebrating. A day later however, she was holding it again and asking for her diaper. Ugh. All of that heartache, second guessing myself, feeling like maybe I was being mean and ALL of that time spent in the little bathroom watching her struggle and go through so much appeared to be for nothing. I forced her to “get over it” and to “move on.” I sat with her until she HAD TO GO and then I encouraged her to hold onto mama and push. I reminded her over and over again that it was okay and she was okay. The fear was real for her and I just knew if I could get her to go, I would be helping her get over the worry. I also knew if I let it go and dragged it out over weeks, she could develop an even stronger resistance to going and we could be doomed. (Not to mention, I have twin 4 month old boys at the time). We went to her two year wellness check up a few days after all of that and her pediatrician said not to worry about it. Every child is different and she was still very young. He said to give it a few weeks – have her wear a diaper again and act like she wasn’t potty trainned – then start over with the three day process if she begins showing interest in it and otherwise, just wait until she is ready. He said she could be trained in a week or it could take a year. She actually decided it was okay a week later and she has been going on the potty (even in public) ever since. And, she has never had an accident. I haven’t tackled the overnight yet as she is still in her crib and can’t wake and take herself in the middle of the night and I am still nursing at times in the night. But that is next for sure because she is so upset and embarrassed at times in the morning when she has had to pee or poo in her diaper.

So all-in-all, Mattelyn was actually potty trained in total, in a little less than a month and she was 25 months old.

I have shared my “key learnings” and I REALLY hope some of them if not all of them prove to be helpful for anyone in my shoes!

*Something else I realized in hind sight that may have been drawing this process out was, I think she was ENJOYING having mama’s or her grandma’s FULL ATTENTION without a baby in tow. You see, the three days that we concentrated on the actual training, we would take turns going with her to the bathroom and sitting on the potty chair everyday all day long. It was a game and it was fun! And we would accompany her to read, tell stories, play with flash cards, etc. It was 100% undivided attention to Mattelyn. For the past four months, it’s been Mattelyn sharing us for the first time in her little life with her newborn twin brothers.

 Here are some things we used that may be helpful to you:

*Flash cards for colors, shapes, numbers and alphabet, *Floor puzzles, *Books in bathroom, *Baby wipes, *Diapers, *new undies, *leg warmers, *footed socks, *Paper towels, *Disinfectant, *Lysol wipes for the small potty chair, *Coloring books, *crayons, *chalk board, *music to dance to, *iPad for YouTube videos, *iPhone for FaceTime calls at first as rewards and then as incentive, *The poop song and the potty dance, *Cheerleader pompoms, *Congratulations balloon after a successful poop day, *Frozen grapes, *GoGo Applesauce Packets, *Bananas, *Prunes, *Prune juice.


Things we tried not to use:

M&Ms or food for consistent incentive – we used the idea of a cookie to encourage her to go once she was having issues with going altogether. But it didn’t convert into something she thought she had to have.

Pull-ups – we used Pull-ups at nap times and overnight diapers overnight – but we didn’t use Pull-ups during the day. She didn’t want them anyway but I feared it would make her feel too protected and she would be more likely just to go rather than run to the potty.

This is what worked for us. It was a PROCESS!!! Thank GOD for my mom!! And all of her GLORIOUS PATIENCE!! (Oh yeah, mom, don’t forget – I have two boys that will be ready soon, too!!) Please know this is what worked for me – this isn’t the way it should be done or anything like that. It is just what worked for me and there are hundreds of ways to do it! Please share with me if you have had similar situation or experiences or if you have new or better ideas that worked for you! I have twin boys to train here in about a year and a half! And remember, this is HARD. It’s the hardest thing you and your baby will go through and it is a HUGE toddler milestone. Everyone gets there – have patience and show them nothing but tons of love, encouragement and patience. And remember, they are only TWO. Still babies. But they love their newfound independence daily and will welcome you treating them like the big kids they are soon to be!

Much luck and love!

XO ~ Stephanie

Our first outing in new undies the first week potty training an Easter Egg hunt in our neighborhood.

This is How We Roll…(Literally)

I STRUGGLED with the thought of having three babies two and under in age. I worried that I would be homebound and wouldn’t be able to get out and about with them. I didn’t want Mattelyn who is barely two to suffer because the boys were infants and summer was just around the corner. I knew by this time, the boys would be 6 months old. At this age with only one, Mattelyn and I were very mobile. We took 3 – 5 mile walks daily in her stroller. We met daddy at work downtown Chicago and we never missed a play date. We went to restaurants with her in tow twice weekly, proudly. I knew our socializing would change and I was very aware that my mobility was about to change. I stressed about it. A LOT. I sent messages to other mamas of multiples, I researched all of the strollers that would work for three babies. I looked at specialty stores, I googled, searched Instagram, FaceBook and all of my family with babies. I exhausted my resources and quite frankly, everyone was tired of hearing me think about it out loud. I finally made a decision and my husband (and his parents) lovingly went along with my decision. And I am so glad I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers that said I wouldn’t be mobile with all three in the first year. Or that said I should worry about a stroller AFTER they were already here. Nope – I am super glad I did it when I did. There isn’t time to get ALL OF THIS TOGETHER NOW.

All of the planning ahead of time has made for this to all be possible. And it works.

I wanted to share with my followers as I know some of you are here as mommy’s and daddy’s and some of you are pregnant with twins or have newborn twins with a toddler and are facing the exact same dilemma I was 6 months ago.

(Knowing that things change on a DAILY basis in the world of baby and baby products, I am writing this from the viewpoint that this is what I found to make the most sense in November 2014 and I find still relevant now 6 months later in 2015, for us as a family of 5 with 3 little ones).

The Baby Jogger City Select  was MY stroller of choice!

Criteria for me (pregnant mom of twins with 19 month old daughter at the time):

* Holds two car seats PLUS my toddler daughter. Should I get a triple or quad stroller? They are so expensive, difficult to maneuver and it’s hard to find somewhere that sells those strollers (and we live in Chicagoland). You can view them online but you can’t physically push it around in advance of purchase. The City Select stroller has 16 different configurations and an add on option of a Glider Board that your toddler can stand on and “hitch a ride” for quick jaunts. We use it EVERYWHERE. To walk to the park, a quick trip to the post office, the grocery store for some missing ingredient for dinner, a stroll through the mall…it is the perfect solution (for us). My daughter jumps on and also has the option of jumping off (carefully when the stroller is stopped) and walking when she wants. (This is all dependent on your child and a talk about it and what you expect of them is critical and key to its success. Our daughter (26 months old) loves the “freedom.”)

My daughter is napping, reclined in the City Mini stroller and my twin sons are napping in their car seats in the City Select stroller

For longer walks and mall shopping for the duration, we use her City Mini stroller so she can relax and recline when it’s nap time. You won’t likely be doing these outings on your own anyway. LOL. * Maneuverable – I am small in stature (5’2″) and although small and mighty, I have other things I am worrying about (babies plus a two year old). I don’t need to figure out in the middle of an outing whether I can “drive” this stroller in and out of my establishments with ease or not. At that point in time, I will have mustered ALL OF MY ENERGY just getting out of the house. (We love our City Select Mini, (award winning), stroller we used for Mattelyn. It is AWESOME. But that is another post!)

* Light in weight – I now need to hoist two car seats in and out of the mini van (ugh – mini van – not hoisting car seats), PLUS the stroller.

*  INTUITIVE – It’s gotta’ work! The first time. And it has to be SMART. Just like the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (another post – some things you just have to bite the bullet and pay for). When I get it out of the car, it “pops” into place. No other way of explaining it – it’s awesome. I pull it out and it locks into place. Same arrangement when I am leaving, I can easily fold it up – it’s also a simple “pop” which doesn’t seem possible – but it is.

* Small – It has to FIT. I mean fit everywhere. In the car, in the house, in the garage. I need it to be a space monkey and just get in when I need it to. Most of the time, we keep BOTH the City Mini and the City Select in the back of the van. I can easily lift either or both out and the space isn’t huge in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country.

* Safe – there are locks all over this stroller – just like the City Mini.

* There’s a Video for every stroller they sell on their Website (there are hundreds on YouTube, too) and they are worth the watch! Before you purchase AND AFTER you purchase. Watch it on your smart phone. Bookmark it. Bookmark it, text the URL and message it to your hubby. When he is alone, he will watch it too. They are less than 5 minutes each.

*Word to the wise –

(This is going to sound crazy – but I have also recommended crazier like “using” your breast pump before you need it while still pregnant – I am going to recommend the same here…)

Your hubby is busy. So are you. Difference is, he wants to think he can do it all right the first time without ever practicing, watching a YouTube vide or reading directions. And he will try to set up this easy stroller system after a stressful car ride (because he’s not around the chaos all week), in a parking lot, in front of people after never having practiced it before. He will get frustrated and will have a few choice words. This is a SYSTEM. It HAS TO BE to accomplish all it does. I highly recommend doing this – set up a time where you both “practice” getting the stroller and BOTH car seats out of the mini van. Include dolls so it’s more “real.” Begin IN the driver’s seat and proceed as though you have somewhere to be. It isn’t brain surgery but it is like anything else – the more practice, the better you both will be. Which also means the more success you will have in this stroller system working for you. You can time each other and see who accomplishes it faster. Trust me – this will prove invaluable once they’re here! I PROMISE.

Best of Luck! And I certainly hope this at least breaks down a few of the reasons we chose the City Select stroller making a decision easier for you. This was a very frustrating situation for both my hubby and I. I had many in my quest tell me to just “baby wear” one twin – in a Baby Bjorn or some other carrier. This is okay if it’s just you and the other twin without a demanding two year old that has little patience and still needs/requires help in and out of their car seat (positioned in the back of the mini van). I found it difficult to wear one and be multi-functional with my toddler daughter. If you have any other recommendation, please feel free to comment here! I have followers that are pregnant with twins and may read this and use it for decision making in their purchases!

XO ~ Stephanie

Avocado Snacktime!

 I have been serving avocados for snack time for a long time now for myself and for my daughter Mattelyn. When she was a baby, a smashed avocado and banana were her favorite food. I am sharing this quick snack with you because it’s super buttery deliciousness and it’s so good for the body! It helps you feel full quickly and it’s easy to make. Getting Mattelyn, (who is just two years old), to eat avocado now is trickier than when she was a baby. She loves guacamole but the avocado by itself is still something she isn’t flipped out about.

 I think it’s a texture thing for her. One, however, she always gets over eventually! Does that sound mean? My belief with a baby’s eating or a toddler’s eating – continue giving foods to them (if it’s good for them) even when they initially turn their noses up. Everything is new and different in their little worlds. And a salty hot dog or a sweet cookie is always appetizing because it’s easy and it’s not complex. A baby has millions of taste buds compared to ours. Things have much more flavor to them and we may confuse their looks of “Wow, this is new and different,” with, “Ewwww, this is disgusting!” They take SO MUCH from us. If we (or someone around them) are always turning up our noses or saying ewwww or making faces when they are trying things or eating along with us, we are hindering their natural curiosity with food and in the long run, may even be altering how they feel about food. I think of them as little adults that I am raising and I want them to have all experiences without as much bias as possible. THAT SAID, they are still TWO! I give Mattelyn everything over and over again, and almost always, she ends up loving it. Fish sticks, edamame, guacamole, baked tilapia and cod, chicken enchiladas, spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli, peas, corn on the cob, salad, red, yellow and green peppers – yep, she will eat them all. But it wasn’t at first. Or even the second or third time trying them. But my goal is always the same – I want them to eat what we’re eating. That is part of why it’s not as important to me that there is a kid’s menu when we go out to eat – Mattelyn eats what we eat so we typically share a meal. She doesn’t always have to have a hot dog or chicken nuggets (although there is NOTHING wrong with that and she most often does indulge in one of those during lunch!) Ahhhh, I always get carried away – but I wanted to share how I am trying to raise my daughter in case it might work for you too! I want to eliminate the picky eater early on if I can. I think it’s hard to do though and takes persistence and believing in them and the process. It takes planning and caring and is HARD. But it’s so worth it!!!

“A serving of avocado (also) contains 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene. Per serving, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.” From Avocados and Babies.

Also beneficial for breast feeding and pregnant mamas! “Avocados are listed under fruit items that the USDA recommends as one of the best sources for some of the nutrients needed when pregnant or breastfeeding. A 1-oz. serving of avocados contains 4% of the daily values for Vitamin E and potassium, and 2% of the daily value for iron.” From Avocado Central.

1. Choose a good, ripe avocado. It is barely soft at the touch of the skin. Read here all about the health benefits (so many!) of an avocado and how to pick a ripe one.

2. Slice in half.

3. Remove the nut or the seed.

4. Slice crossways with a knife, creating small squares or bite-sized Yummies.

5. Scoop out with a spoon into a bowl or plate.

6. Drizzle with a tiny amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and using a fork, drain the juice of a 1/4 or 1/2 of a lime. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper or a smidge of sea salt.

There it is. Such a delicious yummy snack!

Enjoy! I also include avocado in my pineapple salsa recipe for grilled chicken – super delicious!!! You can also read about how I incorporate avocado into baby food (another adventure I am about to embark on yet again with my 6 month old twin sons!!)

Happy healthy snacking!

XO ~ Stephanie

First Day Home Alone with All Three of my Babes….


How can I be so nervous for this day? I guess it’s because I am wildly outnumbered and these babes are ALL MINE. I’ve had help since day one from my mom and my mother-in-law. Here I am today though – all by myself. I guess it’s liberating and it’s definitely time for me to GET TO IT; rip that bandaid OFF! Stop worrying about it and just live this life my husband and I have created! Although this wasn’t all in our plans, we are making it WORK. My clients have changed and my outlook on life sure is rosier! Everything is different and some of my friends have disappeared temporarily! I take it all in stride and I welcome summer with open arms and I just wanted to share my morning jaunt to the backyard with Mattelyn (my two year old daughter). We watered flowers for the 17 minutes I allowed us to be outside while the boys took their usual 50 minute morning nap. I decided to separate them this morning and keep Maxton upstairs and Carson downstairs.


We moved in here last July so I haven’t seen the flowers that bloom in the backyard in the spring. This has been fun to witness! There is a ton I plan to change and do, but for now, I am enjoying what the previous owner planted! My mom and I planted a “Salsa Garden” for Mattelyn this year. Tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions and cilantro. I can’t have a large garden because I don’t have time!


All of these were shot with my Canon 70D with my Sigma 35 lens 100ISO @ f/1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 SS varying between 160-350 (they are all a bit overexposed because I preset my camera settings due to moving quickly and I didn’t check my shots).

Flowers-9802Flowers-9812 Flowers-9808 Flowers-9809 Flowers-9811




Flowers-9830 Flowers-9841 Flowers-9852

Here’s to a REALLY good day (I HOPE!!!)

How was your first day home alone with your new babies? What was the most challenging? Any hints for me?

XO ~ Stephanie

Quick Post! Such a Sweet Surprise!!  

I decided to leave the twins at home with grandma and run to the store with my daughter this morning. We have company coming this weekend and I need to get some things. My mom leaves me after 6 months with these three by myself next week! 😔 I am nervous about what this is going to be like. Trying to pick up, feed, put down for naps – all three of them. Not only am I worried, I am scared! It isn’t often I feel like I am going to have difficulty or be overwhelmed but this is one of those moments. I went out to the mini van (yes, it has come to that with three in car seats!!) and inside, my mom had placed the Twins’ car seats with newly handmade Car Seat Canopies – my exact style I had picked out, colors and all, and completely embroidered and sewn just like I had imagined.  

 I have been so busy trying to get everything done that I have had to completely take down my Etsy site where I sell these cutie designs! I was feeling so terrible like I was letting my babies down by not making them their own. I used mine like crazy with Mattelyn for an entire year (read about it here when I began making them for everyone I knew and decided to start selling them)! My mom is incredible. What can I say? I had THE WORST DAY YESTERDAY since the twins were really little newborns and I felt like the world was falling down. I felt like I just couldn’t do this. But this small gesture was exactly what I needed. Somehow mom’s know exactly what you need! I just hope to always do this for my babies too! Thanks again mom – I LOVE THEM!!! I LOVE YOU to the moon and back. You are my biggest inspiration!! Kisses!! 😘❤️

Have you had that day lately too? Have you had help with a newborn (or two, or three!) and can relate?? Would love to hear about it. 

XO ~ Stephanie