The i Like Book *Review & Giveaway*

Here is my review of the i Like Book–I felt that it would be more fun if I could actually “show” it to you all! Be sure to join the in GREAT Mompact giveaway–they’re giving away both an i Like Book and Zatswho Flash Cards (LOVE those and will be posting a review about them soon as well)

Good luck!

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The i Like Book *Review & Giveaway*

Here is my review of the i Like Book–I felt that it would be more fun if I could actually “show” it to you all! Be sure to join the in GREAT Mompact giveaway–they’re giving away both an i Like Book and Zatswho Flash Cards (LOVE those and will be posting a review about them soon as well)

Good luck!

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Advice for First-Time Moms

On one of the *many* parenting sites I’m a member of/frequent one of the preggo gals was asking for veteran mom advice on labor and delivery and the best and worst baby items. I ended up with a looonnggg reply and so I thought, hey, I’ll turn this into a blog post ūüėČ So here ya go!

Labor and Delivery Advice:

Do your homework before letting them induce you! I blindly accepted them wanting to induce me when I was a week late with my first baby. They used Cervadil (which I later discovers greatly increases your chances of a c-section) I found out the hard way through 24 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, and an emergency C-section. I *would* however recommend the epidural!!! My second little guy came SO fast (total opposite labors/deliveries!) that I ended up having no time for pain meds and holy cow did it hurt! (BUT I made it! So if you are thinking of going pain med free you definitely can do it…I did it and I had no plan or birth classes to do so, haha!)

Baby stuff!

BEST baby items:

Boppy Pillow (or the cheaper, better Wal*Mart generic version ūüėČ )
Aden + Anais swaddles
Bath Luve
Bouncy Chair (of any variety–we had a basic vibrating one that was a hand me down that work GREAT through both kids)
Aveeno Baby Line
Mam Pacifiers
Pack n Play (<--perfect to use instead of a bassinet and wonderful travel crib! We also got one with a diaper changing system-highly recommend that, once they outgrow it they're old enough to just change on the floor or bed anyways) WORST baby items:

complicated carriers/backpack systems (were given one and used it once I think)
Johnson & Johnson baby line (both my kids ended up having eczema and this made them break out REALLY badly. I’m sure it’s great if your baby doesn’t have skin problems, but Aveeno is great because it really IS super gentle!)

Items that are money wasters and can totally be skipped if you’re on a budget (or if you’re just smart and realize how expensive diapers and wipes are going to run you those first 2+ years)

wipe warmers
diaper changing tables
lots of accessories/decorations for the nursery that are theme specific (<--yes I know they're adorable but the baby honestly doesn't care!!! Also you can make your own/use other less expensive items for an adorable look that they won't outgrow by the time they're one)
Bassinets that are the fancy/cutesy kind and not the pack-n-play variety

Shout’s Go Play Initiative

 
Truly my daughter–Amber is never happier than when absolutely covered in dirt! She’s been this way since she was a little baby. During our “staycation” in Boston the past 2 weeks she had the most fun running around and playing with the fallen leaves, sticks, dirt, and rocks. This picture was taken at Plimouth Plantation-a great place for her to play! She loved the cows and chickens (–who were really tame and I had to keep telling her that although she could get close enough she could not touch them!!) and just being out in the good fresh air! I was so happy to hear about the Shout Go Play initiative! Unstructured play, fresh air, and dirt is what being a kid is all about! Studies have shown that it’s vital to children’s well being¬†and development as well, and can even help them to be healthier when their bodies are introduced to things like dirt. In today’s over sanitizing age lots of kids are developing auto-immune disorders because they’re not allowed to get their faces covered in dirt. I also just love to watch Amber’s imagination in use as she has her “Momma rock” and “baby rock” carry on conversations.
We were sent the awesome 52 Activities in Nature (52 Series)¬†card set to review. I loved all the different ideas and how they ranged from activities a 2 year old like Amber would enjoy to more sophisticated and complex ones that would be great for kids in school. The compact size makes them perfect to throw into your purse/bag and bring along with you outside as well! I know we’ll be getting a lot of use out of them and this would make a great stocking stuffer. Another great place to find learning toys is Growing Tree Toys, who provided me with the opportunity for this great review!
Even though I love for Amber to explore and play outside I don’t so much love what it does to her clothes! So the fact that we were also sent 3 different Shout products to review just about made me tickled pink! Between my digging in the dirt toddler and a newborn (not to mention my own clutzy self and a husband)¬†I have my fair share of stains I have to tackle on a daily basis!
I was really pleased with the products! My hubby was impressed with the Shout Advanced and thought that the bristles that work it into the fabric were “pretty cool”. I used all 3 of the products on the infamous ink stained work shirt and guess what??!! After about 15 washes, countless ways of getting it out, and re-dying the uniform the stain is gone!! Hurray! The color catcher sheets did a great job of soaking up the ink that came out and keeping it from getting on my other clothes and washer. The regular spray stain remover did a good job of getting rid of the dirt and ketchup stains on Amber’s pants as well.
So let your kiddos jump into a big pile of leaves, get their pretty red shirts covered in dirt, chase chickens around, and be happy being kids! They only get to be kids once and that’s what stain remover was invented for!

How To Stop Sibling Bickering: Pocket Referee

 

**Update from when we started using it! ** I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old and the “mom I want that toy…..he has it…he won’t give it to me” battles were getting SUPER annoying. I thought I’d give this a shot as it was given to us years ago. I am amazed at HOW well the kids have responded to it–the fights disappear when I ask, “Who has the coin?” And yes, you could use this concept with any item–but the kids are in awe of “the golden coin” so I do think it is worth every penny of the $10!!!
Right now my kids are at the age where they absolutely love each other and it’s just so sweet!!! (or rather, Amber adores Tyler–he allows her to smother him with affection because he doesn’t have much choice–haha!) From having a brother who was 2 years younger than me, though, I know that it’s only a matter of time till the hugs and kisses turn into tattling and fights–not so much looking forward to that day!!!
Luckily for me I found out about an amazing product that will hopefully stop most conflicts before they even start. I think it’s¬†one of the most¬†*brilliant* ideas I’ve ever heard of–kind of a DUH why didn’t I think of that??? one. ūüôā Behold– The Pocket Referee! Here’s how it works and a little information behind it that was sent to me:
“My dad invented a version of it 30 years ago to use with my sister and me and it worked wonders. We are two years apart and if one of us wanted something (like pushing the elevator button or sitting in the front seat of the car) inevitably the other wanted the same thing. Clearly only one of us could have our way and my dad was fed up with having to mediate all these “important” issues and remember who got what the last time to be as fair as possible.
With the Pocket Referee, the parent can choose how much or little interaction they’d like to have in the process and can also choose to have no part of it all. It offers kids a win-win situation and helps to give them perspective on the importance of what they’re asking for.”
Completely brilliant concept right?! To find out more about it and how it works be sure to check out their website. We were sent regular and special edition to review. Both are super cute, great quality, and come with super cute designs on them and a special little pouch to carry it around in. I can definitely see kids getting excited about them! And I’m excited about the headaches it’s going to save me from having to deal with!

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Potty Training – Success!

How I Potty Trained In One Week

A week ago I posted about beginning Operation Ditch the Diapers. I’m so excited to report that a week later Amber is what I would consider fully potty trained!!! Woo HOOOOO!!!
And how does Amber feel about all of this?? Well if you look at the picture you can see she’s pretty proud of herself!
I’ve had a couple of different people ask about exactly what I did to get her potty trained so quickly and so here goes!
First I want to start off by saying that by “fully potty trained” I mean she tells me every time she needs to go potty, runs into the bathroom, and goes. Today is the first day we’ve managed to make it while she was still completely dry every time but I figure as long as she’s in the bathroom, trying to make it–it counts! We’re still working on the whole concept of going #2 although she did go with¬†virtually no¬†problem today (yey!) she still thinks it’s kinda scary though (lol). I will also mention that I do still have her in Pull Ups for nap time, bed time, and when we go out and¬†about,¬†but she’s in underwear the rest of the day. Also when we went to church she was in Pull Ups but she still told the nursery workers when she had to go potty and went twice while there! ūüôā
When I first started researching and asking around about how to potty trained I got a little overwhelmed feeling. Everyone from friends to websites to magazines and books¬†had tons of advice but most of it was really general and went along the lines of “here’s kinda sorta helpful hints but really each child is different and when she gets it she’ll get it.”
Uhhh…ok great–so what do I do???
(and I will mention that Amber didn’t show virtually any of the “readiness” signs. She was interested in the potty and bathroom but only because of her great Potty Tots program but other than that there were no indicators. She didn’t care if she was wet or dirty–in fact she hated for me to change her poopy diapers and would often insist that she was still “nice and clean” and didn’t need changed. She never said she had to go, still got her diapers soaked through her nap, had a hard time pulling pants on and off, on and on. Just throwing that out there since because of that I thought I was going to have a huge battle on my hands and instead she was potty trained within a few days–just throwing that out there!)
I’m the kind of person who likes being told–look here’s a list of what you need to do first, second, third. That way I have a game plan while fully realizing I can change and adjust it to fit me and my child if need be. So when my cousin told me about the e-book she used to fully potty train her not even 2 year old boy in 3 days I was really excited! The book is called Potty Training Basics and you can get it here. It costs $17 which might seem pricey but if you think about it that’s not even the cost of a box of diapers and it has a money back guarantee. I would highly recommend it! I followed it “to the letter” for the first day with the exception of the Pull Ups for naptime and bedtime. I hadn’t been planning on “night time” training yet even though the book recommends it because frankly Amber wakes up before I do and I’m just too exhausted to tackle it right now! Well, little did I know that I wouldn’t have a choice on this and she was so into potty training that the first several nights she woke up screaming at 3 a.m. that she had to go POTTY!! Thankfully the past few nights she’s just stayed asleep and just had to use the potty right after she wakes up, lol!!
I feel like the e-book was vital for me in order for our success and that Amber’s Potty Tots Program was vital for her part. The e-book gave me guidance and direction and Potty Tots helped make it fun, not scary, and understandable for Amber. You can see my full review of The Potty Tots here!

In addition to those I also created a “sticker chart” for Amber which is just a piece of scrapbook paper cut wavy on top w/ Amber’s name in stickers on it. Every time she went in the potty she gets to choose 2 stickers (one for the back of each hand) and then when she gets tired of wearing them she runs and puts them on the chart. She also gets a treat every time she goes in the potty. The first few days I had homemade chocolate chip cookies that I’d made for our anniversary so she got a small piece of those. After that it’s been more healthy stuff like fruit, crackers, etc. I would highly recommend using bribes although which ones work will just depend on your kiddo. Amber loves stickers and food so those have worked perfectly for us.

 

Another *great* tip that wasn’t included in the book came from my new Coastie wife friend Katy. She told me about Gerber training pants which are panties but a whole lot thicker so they’re great for training because your kiddo can feel they’re going but it doesn’t make a HUGE mess! I didn’t use them on the very first day since we spent all day in the bathroom and I wanted Amber to REALLY tell when she had an accident but they’ve been amazing ever since! You can find them at Wal*Mart or Target or anywhere like that. I almost missed them in the Wal*Mart here because they had them next to the Gerber sets like onsies and baby bath towels and not by the rest of the toddler underwear.

I have run into a few speed bumps I didn’t expect along the way–the big one was how much harder nap and bedtime has become!!! (including the crazy 3-4 am wake up calls)¬†She’s a smart little bugger and figured out that saying “I need to go potty” gets her out of her crib. So nap/bedtime has become a struggle as I try to not discourage her if she does need to go–but get very grumpy if we’ve been sitting there for 15 minutes only to figure out she didn’t have to go after all. Still working on exactly how to deal with that! A few days she just boycotted nap time altogether by yelling about “going potty” the entire time. That hasn’t happened for a few days now though so I do have¬†hope!¬†Also she has been a little more insecure in other areas–like asking for her pacifier at bedtimes even though she hadn’t mentioned it in months before this! I know this is all to be expected with any huge changes though and we’ll just muscle through it!
Ok–I think that covers it all! If you have any questions just ask! Right now I’m off to chase a 2 year old into the¬†bathroom because she just informed me she “has to go potty!!!!”

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Ramblings By A Young SAHM

I’m 3 things that don’t seem to go together much in today’s society.
I’m 24.
I’m a mother of (soon to be) two.
I stay at home with my kiddos.
Not too long ago all three of these were the norm. Nowadays I’m a breed of woman that’s considered old fashioned and few and far between. It’s not like I rushed into motherhood though. Since I was married at the age of 19 I’d been married over 2 1/2 years before I had my first baby, probably the normal amount for most couples. I’ll have my second child almost to the day I turn 25, and yet there will be 2 1/2 years between my children. I suppose getting married that young nowadays is considered odd too. I remember getting warned about getting married so young. Many people told me that I was throwing my life away, that I need to “live first” and not go rush off to the altar. (being as I dated hubby for 3 years I hardly felt I was rushing!!) I was told that you don’t know what you want when you’re that young, and that you change so much during those years that being with someone was a mistake, because what if when you both change you find you no longer belong together?
I’ve found that yes, you do¬†change radically. However, everyone changes, all the time. You might change more between the ages of 17 and 25 than 25 and 35 but between the later age group you still change. Everyone is constantly changing, growing, maturing, learning (or they should be!)¬†We’ve simply learned to change together, our marriage and our shared experiences keep us close as we change. I think this will help us not be one of those couples who looks at each other when we’re both 45 and goes, “Who are you? I don’t know you anymore, you weren’t supposed to change!” We’re expecting that!
Another thing you might expect is that being stay-at-home mom is lonely. Being a stay at home mom and a military spouse compounds it triply so. Each new place I’ve moved I’ve known no one but my husband. When you’re working you naturally meet people and get the chance to interact daily with other adults. I’m so thankful for groups like MOPS and Meetup where I’ve been able to find other stay at home moms who were deprived of adult interaction as well! Yesterday during the playgroup something struck me though. I realized that the only other adult there who was probably within 7 years of my age was the French nanny of one of the little girls. She is actually a year older than me even. When I stopped and thought about it 99% of my mommy friends are all 5-10 years older than I am. Of the 1% I can only think of¬†a few¬†off the top of my head who actually planned and tried to have kids as young as I did. Most of the time I don’t even pause to think about the difference in age. Since I was homeschooled much of my life I learned to interact well with everyone of all ages, and even as a young teenager could carry on conversations with adults with ease. That’s transferred over to my adult life (here is where I laugh about the stereotype that¬†homeschooling hurts you socially)¬†and as I have a college degree, been married for almost 5 years, and am a mom, I feel I fit right in with¬†my mommy friends and mommy playgroups. It’s just when one of them mentions something I don’t remember, or when I do something that shows the generation I grew up in, that the gap becomes clear.
Yesterday what made the age difference leap¬†out at¬†me¬†was the fact that most of the¬†ladies in our meetup group¬†live in gorgeous huge homes. Each house we’ve had a playgroup at has had granite counter tops, a separate playroom stuffed to the brim with toys, etc. The only other military wives in the group are all officers wives. I suppose that there are other young moms, but the realization that hit me yesterday is that they’re all probably working 9-5 jobs and their kids are in daycare. The irony of hanging out with women who live in a huge gated community struck me. They’re probably stay at home moms because their families don’t need the money that would come from them working. In our case it couldn’t be further from the truth!! An E-4 salary is not substantial, I assure you!!! But both hubby and I feel that it is vitally important that I be the one who stays home with our children to nuture them and teach them, even if that means sacrifices on our part.
Does all of the above make me radically different that 99.9% of the people that I know?
Why yes.
Would I change any of it for the world?
Absolutely not!!!!!!

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I’m a Scary Mommy

I believe I’m truly a scary mommy…just look at this picture:

Scary right?! That’s me there on the left, and this picture was taken just a little over a month ago, my 18 month old daughter thought it was quite hilarious to see her mom and aunt acting like polar bears! I’m not afraid to be real, I’m not afraid of what other people think,¬†I’m not afraid to be honest! (Just read my Not Me Monday entry to see how much I reveal!)

I think being a scary mommy is all about being a real mommy. And I believe that I’m a real mommy.

Being a mom is so much more than I could ever have imagined. Nothing is more precious than sweet sloppy wet kisses from your toddler or watching your angelic newborn sleeping.

Nothing is as hard or terrifing as rushing your baby to the emergency room with a fever of 106 or pulling yourself out of bed when you’re sick with the flu¬†at 3 am for the 6th time that night to nurse a screaming 6 month old who’s teething.

When I look at myself in the mirror as I see love handles and a large scar from my c-section and stretch marks galore. Forever gone is the teenage body I once had, that although I thought had plenty of flaws then, I would glady take back in an instant!

But then I look at those bright blue eyes and sweet round pink cheeks of my daughter and I count all my flaws as badges of honor.

Unlike many women in their mid 20s I’ve decided to for-go the club scene, the corporate ladder, the social mixing and events.

My days are filled with walks to the pond, Sesame Street, and discussions with other mommies about poop via Facebook.

Because I’m a stay at home mommy¬†I can no longer afford to do things like get manicures and pedicures, highlights and awesome hair cuts.

Now it’s $3 color-in-a-box from Wal*Mart, $5 hair cuts from Cost Cutters, and scrubbing my¬†toe nail polish off when I look down and realize it’s half way gone anyways.

The closest I get to a salon period is going in to get my face waxed…and believe me, that’s only because the hormones from being pregnant¬†messed me up so bad that it is an absolute necessity otherwise my eyebrows become big, angry, mean, fuzzy black caterpillars and my husband starts dropping not-so-subtle hints about needing to go get my¬†upper lip waxed.

I used to get hit on quite frequently (and always took secret enjoyment in it), now guys take one look at the chunky toddler I’m hauling around, smile at her, and don’t even send a glance my way.

The thing is though, I honestly say don’t miss anything from my life before being a mom. I embrace motherhood because all of it’s¬†glories far¬†outshine the hard parts.

I embrace it all, because I am a real mommy, I’m a ¬†Scary Mommy!