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

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).

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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.

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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.

SHE UNDERSTOOD IMMEDIATELY WHAT WE WANTED HER TO DO.

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.

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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

Bubblegum Scented Toddler Shoes…

Mini Melissas

Mini Melissas

I am learning so much as a new parent; the terrible twos, potty training, that the term “whiz kid” really takes on a whole new meaning now that I have twin boys at changing time, that M&Ms are like crack to a toddler…

Among the list is the fact that there is a WHOLE NEW WORLD of apparel shopping available to me now that I have these little cuties to clothe! Who knew? Is it so terrible I am passing along my love for seriously awesome shoes to my two year old daughter?? I wonder at times if I’m perhaps starting a bad habit for her early on in life? I mean, when I was younger, we had school shoes, Church shoes and play shoes. I am pretty sure more than half of mine were hand-me-downs from my older (all male) cousins. But my mom always insisted on leather shoes for our feet. I am pretty positive my bro and I had Hush Puppies and Buster Browns, and probably anything else the anchor department stores at the mall at the time sold for toddlers.

Enter shoes for toddlers now days. WOW. There are a plethora of all the same gorgeous brands that this mama loves and admires (from afar). I have partaken in my fair share of Kenneth Cole, Nine West, Coach, Jessica Simpson, Steve Madden, MARC BY MARC JACOBS, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B., BCBGeneration and BCBG MAXAZRIA, Guess, Alfani, Sofft, Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Salvatore Ferragamo, Enzo Angiolini, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker, Dansko, just to name a few, while working downtown in my advertising days. I left the big, lofty, gorgeous, gotta’ have a pair of seriously beautiful designer shoes, for my admiring from afar. (And I am glad I did because all of the shoes mentioned above, I can no longer wear. I have been a 6.5 my adult life and after these bambinos arrived, I am a 7.5 – a full size larger!) And that’s okay too, because my taste has changed immensely. I admit to going to Nordstrom and VonMaur, and walking down the Magnificent Mile, drooling over the latest pair of Jimmy Choos, Kate Spades, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins, GUCCIs, Rebecca Minkoffs, PRADAs, Burberrys (you get the picture – THOSE shoes, THOSE designers, THOSE brands…)

Now that Mattelyn has arrived, I find so much joy and pleasure shoe shopping for my tiny little darling fashionista who wears a shoe size per 3-4 months and then is out of that shoe. GAH! What is wrong with me???? I feel as though I can *splurge* on her now because her cutie little shoes don’t cost what my big girl shoes cost. But one day they will and she will come to expect them, I am sure. So does that stop me from the occasional indulgence? YOU BET IT DOES. And each time I do indulge, I temper it with an outfit from Target. Okay, okay, I just sound insane now. But really, there could be much worse, right???? Plus, I don’t resell, I donate to the needy. Beautiful clothes for beautiful children that couldn’t otherwise afford the luxury. So that makes me feel better, (although my hubby wishes I would go ahead and resell…and buy resale…).

All of that said, my latest new find are the Melissa Brand shoes. They 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 am on the fence as to whether or not I want Mattelyn sporting a pair of bubblegum scented plastic shoes, (essentially, the “jelly” shoe of my era). But the sales associate assured me this is one of their biggest sellers for toddler sandals in the spring and summer season. WHO KNEW.

I tried on a pair of the adult Melissa’s and rather loved them. Soft, soft, soft, pliable plastic. It was comfortable and squishy.

I wouldn’t spend the day downtown walking a mile or going to an all day festival in them. But for a casual summer day or outing close to home, you bet I’d sport them. This plastic flip flop shoe or ballet slipper isn’t new to me – I have owned several versions over the years. My latest was a pair of BCBGeneration last summer that were clear plastic and had a gold bow – “perfectly princess” enough you might think, but very much adult if you wear it the right way; (read: You have to like that style, and I do). They were very comfortable and you would think my feet would have felt sweaty and uncomfortable but they didn’t. But all toddlers’ feeties are sweaty and can be stinky after a long day of outside play. I make sure Mattelyn always has the best shoes for learning how to walk and for assuring comfort and balance, like PediPeds, Stride Rite, See Kai Run, TOMS, Kenneth Cole. But she’s moving up to a regular toddler size now. These are enclosed in the toe area, have holes throughout like mesh so are breathable and are the cutest little Mary Jane’s you’ve ever seen. So what do you think? Yay or Nay? Do they belong in Mattelyn’s closet along with the leather Mary Jane’s made by WeeSqueak that I had to have that actually squeaked when she would take a step that no longer fit her???

The Wee Squeak Flower Garden Shoe

The Wee Squeak Flower Garden Shoe

Or these adorable Baby Bog snow boots I just HAD TO HAVE because they matched her North Face winter coat perfectly??

Classic Flower Stripes Baby Bogs Snow Boots

Classic Flower Stripes Baby Bogs Snow Boots

I’m just saying, this is WAY too much fun. No, I decided not to purchase them for her, not this year at least! As for new sandals for me, well, ’tis the season for sandal shopping!

XO ~ Stephanie

Potty Training: A Message to My Daughter

 

 Oh my sweet baby girl,

The craziness has abound.

The past four months are a blur, 

You’ve got one foot on the ground.

Arms still wrapped tight,

Around your night-night

The release is near,

But you can’t let go.

Still holding on as the baby,

Yet already such a little lady.

Can’t turn back now,

You’re quite the quick learner.

Can’t throw in the towel,

A natural born leader.

You’ve figured it out,

A smart one with a pout.

To give in means we win,

So you wait with a grin. 

It’s all up to you now,

We know you know how.

Mommy’s so proud of you,

My sweet little angel.

You’re ready for flight.

Take the leap for I’ve got you, 

For the rest of your life.

It’s okay right now,

We’ll figure it out.

Keep being you,

Charming, stubborn and sweet.

Time soon will tell,

And when it does,

You’ll feel quite the surprise, 

To this I am wise.

I love you, Mattelyn.

Mommy’s waiting.

XO ~ mama  

Potty Training – The Starting Line-Up…

In much the same way I do everything in my life, I began the quest for the best way to potty train by READING and making a PLAN. And I don’t just read books, I read blogs. Lots and lots of real life blogs from moms and dads that are doing all this same stuff right now. And then I talk to my friends and family. Then I read book reviews – lots of reviews for top rated books on a topic. Then I decide on a book, order it and speed read. I like to research my subject so I know it, understand it and from that, make an informed hybrid plan. (It takes time upfront but I usually end up with a better result faster. Plus, I LEARN, sounds annoying, right?? At least that’s what my husband says… 🙂 but in the end, I usually make a semi-intelligent decision about things). I take snippets of things or ideas I like from my research and think will fit my situation, note it, and incorporate it into the master plan. Plan in hand, I then prepare. That’s just what works for me. I approach recipes for my cooking the same way. (And party planning, gardening, selling a car, losing weight…you get the picture…) Then I like to write about it here as partly a journal I can look back on and reference but also in case anyone else wants to gain some insight into all the CRAP I spent time researching and then trying out; the work is done and it’s a quick blog read for you! (read: you’re welcome 🙂 ) So this is my Starting Line-Up, or all of the things I felt would be crucial in assisting Mattelyn to get the most out of her potty training experience so that our plan worked and she was SUCCESSFUL. With the hope, too, that it wouldn’t take a whole lot of time. Some children potty train for a year. I can’t do that – I just don’t have the time.

1. My mom, Mattelyn’s grandma, is staying here with us helping out with the twins in their infancy and helping me greatly during the day with Miss M. She offered to help potty train her so that when I am on my own with the three of them here within the month (God help me), she is at least out of diapers. So I naturally took her up on the offer, (I’d be crazy not to!) That’s not to say I am not 100% involved, because I am. But she is leading the charge and I am on twin duty, clean-up duty, follow-up duty and playing the resident “Chef du jour” while this is occurring. Ha! Mattelyn is 24 months to the day when I determined it was her time, I had the help here and available, I needed to GO FOR IT. I decided to train her using the Three-Day-Semi-Naked-Method. I ordered the book, “Potty Train In A Weekend,” by mom of four, Becky Mansfield. 

I did A QUICK speed read of the book after reading the 50 or so reviews from satisfied readers who also chose this route. This seemed like a no frills, no food, no extra incentives, matter-of-fact way to potty train. (Okay – just what I was in the market for. Or SO I THOUGHT).

2. I purchased a Minnie Mouse potty chair that claps and cheers with a “flush” (I really could’ve just gone with a plain potty but this one I thought was a good idea to get her interested back when she was 18 months old. Now I think it’s not necessary if you’re thinking about a potty chair. Simple and plain is perfect. And the more sturdy they feel, the better). 

3. I bought the chair when she was 18 months old – so it would sit in the bathroom and she could get used to the idea of going potty when we would go. Pulling her pants down and mimicking us. The one good thing I like about this potty chair is we can remove the seat and it SNAPS into place on the big potty so she has a choice of going on the little chair or the big chair. And when the lid is down, she can use it as a step stool to wash her hands. (The snapping into place was a big deal after all as some of the other seats we tried don’t snap into place and she didn’t feel secure), like this Minnie potty chair seat we bought to keep in her bathroom upstairs for use directly after naps and when she wakes first thing in the morning. Instead of another potty chair, this one just sits on top of the toilet seat. It slips and slides though because it doesn’t lock in place. However she likes the handles.

4. My mom ordered her some Baby Leg, leg warmers (super cute idea for boys and girls and a novelty at that; Mattelyn thoroughly enjoyed “dressing up”). These worked well as she would wear them while wearing no pants (and no undies or Pull-Ups, just naked), along with a tight shirt that you can easily see if an accident starts to happen and socks with these cool slippers with grippers that I think are a must-have called Skidders. Mattelyn’s are little pink Mary Jane Skidders and are adorable…This way, if an accident occurs (and they will) shoes don’t get peed on (lesson learned!) 

5. We received a pack of cute playful undies from her older cousin in Florida so we didn’t go shopping for any. But they remained in her room and we talked about them for a good month or two before the day came that we would use them. I read it can be fun to go shopping for big girl or big boy undies – totally your call. Mattelyn didn’t want to have anything to do with them, which made me laugh. Kids are SO SMART.  

6. I ordered a potty book for Mattelyn to read while on the potty that was HIGHLY recommended by over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. “Potty,” by Leslie Patricelli. 

She loved it in a way that I can only explain was love/hate. We let it sit on a stool in the bathroom leading up to potty training. We read it to her and encouraged her to look at it while in the bathroom with us. She has read it probably 100 times by now. She would carry it around with her during the day and would throw it across the room some days. Other days, we would find it “hidden” or stashed away under other books or in the oven of her toy kitchen set, LOL. She resonated with it and with what the little boy/girl was trying to accomplish. Awesome book – can’t recommend enough!

7. My husband bought her a step stool so that her little dangling legs/feet would touch when she is trying to go on the “big potty.” This would provide her with balance and the feeling of being stationary and secure. It really is helpful.

8. He also bought her special Minnie Mouse antibacterial hand soap that was just for Mattelyn to use after trying to use the potty. He’s so good at recognizing things that would make her feel special and would encourage her softly.

9. We got her a water bottle to encourage drinking water ALL.DAY.LONG. A special water bottle with a straw so she would be excited about drinking water. We also gave her Gatorade and watered down apple juice mixed with some prune juice in her regular sippy cups to ensure her stools would be soft – not loose – just soft so it wouldn’t hurt to push the poop out.

Mattelyn’s new water bottle with a straw and her sippy cup, her mermaid doll “Shine” and her other dolly “Lala,” (more to come on these two!!!) rest happily on our rolled up carpet in our family room.

10. I froze grapes as a snack (also would encourage number two to happen) and bought prunes – Mattelyn loves prunes so this wasn’t a big deal for her. They are very sweet and taste like candy.

Mattelyn 24 months old, to the day, eating her frozen grapes with her water and sippy cup filled with watered down mix of prune and apple juice.

11. We decided to use the timer that is built into the iPhone and every 20 minutes for the ENTIRE first day, we took her to the potty each time the timer played the song. And she would run excitedly to the potty when she heard it regardless of what she was in the middle of doing.

12. I watched FAR TOO MANY YouTube videos about going potty. FAR TOO MANY. I have been singing the “Poop Song” for days. But I found this to be a REALLY fabulous encouragement piece. It also reminds them what they’re doing but also relaxes them and makes them feel like everyone is doing it and they should too. I will provide links to a few of the videos Mattelyn really liked and two that worked in my next post. Especially the Potty Dance!

You will notice some things that AREN’T part of the Starting Line-up:

1. Pull-ups. As the author of the book mentioned above states, offering a potty training toddler a Pull-up is like giving a candy bar to a person that is dieting and telling them to eat healthy and sensibly. It sends the wrong message, not to mention a confusing message. We opted to go sans undies and let the pee pee flow…

2. A Potty Watch. I was all about the potty watch. I liked the idea that it makes them feel independent. It has a timer that plays nursery rhymes and reminds them in 30, 60 or 90 minute increments that it’s time to go potty which is critical in potty training. However, more reviews I read than not said much like with everything else in a toddler’s world, they are super cool for the first 1/2 hour and then they are old news. Skip the potty watch and save the $20. 

3. M&Ms, stickers, charts, piggy banks and money. None of these for incentives. The incentives we use are “Good Job!”, “Such a big girl!” Flushing the toilet and washing hands.  A phone call for a quick FaceTime with someone special (their choice) and a picture of her on the potty to send out (via text message) that she designs the background of on smart phone with the pic collage app for first time going potty in the potty chair and for everyone she does number two. 

Wish me luck!!! I would LOVE to hear what was included in your starting line-up! Please share and follow this next journey in parenthood with me. I find it to be a challenge that I think Mattelyn and I are BOTH up for. Stay tuned for guaranteed hardships and funny stories….

XO ~ Stephanie

IMG_4684 (1)2

To Potty Train or Not To Potty Train…

To potty train or not to potty train (right now), that is the question. When I mention potty training, I am always met with the same response, “Is she ready?? She is only 24 months old.” Let’s put it this way, she comes to me to say, “Mama, I pee pee,” while holding onto herself. She wakes from naps with a dry diaper – not all of the time – but some of the time. She sits on her potty chair whenever ANYONE goes to the bathroom. She is fascinated by “flushing” and “wiping” and knows when she has gone poo poo, “Mama, I go poo poo,” and walks funny to come tell me – she thinks it’s yucky and stinky. She asks to get down from her high chair when she needs to go while she is eating. This girl is ready, from the idea or concept aspect of going potty on the potty, and not in her diaper. She is verbalizing it and it’s becoming a nuisance to her. But is it too soon from a physical and emotional standpoint? My answer: I don’t know for sure. 

My mom said I was potty trained somewhere around 18-19 months, right before the arrival of my baby brother. Her mom, my maternal grandma (God rest her soul), potty trained me in a weekend. My mom doesn’t recall any part of it only to know that she potty trained me and it was one less thing they had to do before my brother came into the picture. I find it interesting because I, too, began thinking of potty training Mattelyn around 18 months, before the arrival of the twins. She was showing signs but I read it’s too much to train a baby with a big change about to occur in their life, for example – a new baby or moving to a new home. 

So we waited. And I ordered a book on potty training and read a hundred blogs about different experiences. Most of which concur that two years is a pretty good age to begin but three years seems to have a better success rate. I also read that the United States, Great Britain and Russia are the only countries that ritually allow potty training to be child-driven or child-led when the child is ready. Other countries begin at 6 months by holding their child over a latrine and making a hissing sound to encourage a natural flow of pee and are potty trained by one year of age. My initial thinking was at 18 months, there are less chances of an argument (because their communication is limited), their ability to reason rationally and maturity level isn’t developed, and I felt they were just more malleable. I thought at that age the use of candy or stickers wouldn’t really matter much to them and it would be a more similar process to Pavlov’s conditioned response training. But the more people I talked to, the more I began to realize maybe all of my rationale didn’t make as much sense as I thought. I am a new mom and the only thing I know for sure is, the coined phrase “The Terrible Twos” was hitting our little girl quickly and she is a force to be reckoned with. 

I have also heard many moms say, “He who coined the phrase ‘the terrible twos’ hadn’t had a three year old yet.” So I am really curious from any of my fellow mommy or daddy followers, what do you think is the perfect age to begin potty training? If you had it to do over again, what age would you start? What are some good pointers or learnings you have to share? My next post discusses my decision to begin and how I went about preparing for it. Geez there’s a lot to think about to prepare her to be successful in this journey – likely one of the first hardest of many we will encounter together. 

XO ~ Stephanie