Call me crazy, but I actually like potty training. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I get to see my little toddler’s proud face every time she goes potty, or if I am just looking forward to having one in underwear and one in diapers when the baby gets here in July, but either way, I am one happy momma! I have been working with Meyer on the potty since she was about 10 months old but I haven’t really been adamant about it until last month. It all started when she got some Disney princess underwear from my parents on her 2nd birthday. She wanted to wear them every day. So I told her that in order to do so, she had to use the potty, not her diapers. She agreed. We busted out the Pull-Ups and her potty seat and made sure that she knew she had to tell us when she had to go pee. (We also ask her every 5 seconds when she is wearing her underwear, just in case). She tells us when she has to go for the most part, but does cry wolf every once in a while, seemingly amused to see my husband and I scrambling around to grab her and race her to the potty. And of course, she has had a few accidents along the way (peeing on my bed, in her highchair and her Aunt Sarah’s floor) but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up with some cleaning spray and/or detergent. Over the last few weeks, I think she has only worn a diaper a few times because she is still scared to go poop on the potty, but for the most part it is underwear and Pull-Ups 24/7. And yes, I do bribe her with gummy bears….how else will she learn? Her little face though when she starts to pee on the potty and seeing us so proud of her is worth all those loads of laundry we had to do after her accidents. And last night we had quite a breakthrough. I knew she had to go poop before her bath and I kept asking her if she wanted to go on the potty, to which she responded, ‘NO!’ So I tried over and over again to sit her on the big potty, then the little potty…still it was a no go. So, I put a diaper on her and told her that she could go in there if she wanted to. Still nothing. Then, I took off the diaper so I could put her in the tub and I could see that she was uncomfortable, so I had an idea. I put her on her little potty and told her that I was going to tell her a story. ‘There was once a little Princess named Anna, who was scared to go poop on the potty. Her big sister Elsa, who goes poop on the potty, told her that there was no reason to be scared and that she would help her through it. So Elsa sang to Anna while she tried to poop on the potty and finally, she was able to go and wasn’t scared anymore!’ And with that, she finally Let it Go (no pun intended). Thank you Frozen, it worked! Meyer finally went poop on the potty! She was grinning ear to ear and was so impressed by what she had done and I was so elated, it was as if I just won the Powerball! So I snapped a picture and texted it to Anthony. Little did I know, he was in the middle of dinner when he saw the poop picture flash on his phone and immediately lost his appetite. Oops!
I am a huge fan of birthday parties but for Meyer’s 2nd, I couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate than by taking her to Disneyland. For her first birthday, we did a lemonade themed birthday party at the local children’s gym (she is my little Meyer lemon after all) and invited all of our family and friends. But when my husband and I came down to planning her 2nd birthday party, we felt that we wanted to do something different. If we threw her another big party this year, would we have to do the same every year? We thought about having small gathering at a local park but it seemed a bit pricey to rent the space for a few hours and then we would have to get it catered, buy all the decorations, yadda yadda yadda… Even if we just did it at our house, we would have to make the food, buy the cake and then there would be the dreaded cleanup afterwards. ACK! So, we decided to take her to Disneyland. Meyer’s first time at Disneyland was more magical than I remember my first time being, so celebrating her 2nd birthday there would surely be amazing! When I took her for the first time, it was as if I was reliving my childhood again through her eyes and watching her little dreams come true all at the same time. And to do that again on her birthday? How much more magical could it get? If you want to have your child’s next birthday at Disneyland, or any theme park for that matter, I have a few tips and advice to share.
Tell everyone that it is your child’s birthday. Scream it loud and proud! Especially at Disneyland, you have no idea how much attention your little one will get when they know it is her birthday. Our first stop at the park was the Disneyland Town Hall, where you can get a free birthday pin to flash to everyone. Once the characters and staff see that, they are surely to give you an extra hug, smile and birthday cheer. We even bought Meyer a birthday princess crown to wear, just in case anyone missed her pin. I even picked up some tiny party hats for anyone in our party to wear if they wanted to as well. With any character we met, I made sure to tell them it was Meyer’s birthday too and they either wished her a happy birthday or signed her autograph book ‘happy birthday.’ Meyer seemed so amazed that ‘they actually knew it was her birthday!’
Plan a special meal around your child. At Disneyland, they have a few different spots that offer a character breakfast or lunch, which is totally worth it! Disney’s PCH Grill, Goofy’s Kitchen, Storyteller’s Café and The Plaza Inn. We chose to do a character breakfast at The Plaza Inn, which is inside the park (most of the others are at the surrounding hotels, so if you are staying at one, those might be a better choice for you). At The Plaza Inn, it is a set price for an all you can eat breakfast buffet which consists of Mickey shaped waffles, pancakes, pastries, fruit, omelets, cereal, and basically anything else you can think of to eat. While you are eating, various characters come around the dining room and stop to talk to the kids and snap pictures. We met Captain Hook, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, Chip and Dale, Rafiki, Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore.
Let your child dress themselves. Whether it is an old Halloween costume of their favorite Disney character, a frilly princess dress or a loud tutu, bring it on! And I am talking about the entire party, not just the birthday boy/girl. Most everyone in our party (my husband aside) dressed up in some sort of Disney attire and Meyer wore a Minnie Mouse t-shirt and bright red tutu. If you don’t want to splurge on an outfit at the Disney store, you can check out Amazon or Target as well to get some pretty good deals. I actually found my Minnie ears on Amazon for about 75% off the price you would pay at the park and I got a cute Mickey t-shirt at Kohl’s. Have fun with it and let your child pick whatever they want to wear. After all, it is their special day!
Maximize the birthday theme as much as you can. There are a few rides at Disneyland that have a small shout out to birthday parties and you can take full advantage of that and ‘pretend’ that they are specially catered to your child. Wink wink. The Winnie the Pooh ride has a scene at the end where they are celebrating a birthday, Alice and the gang of course sing A Very Merry Unbirthday To You on the Alice in Wonderland ride, and the Haunted Mansion even has a dining room birthday scene to celebrate.
Include the family to join you (or friends if your child is older). Meyer is only two, so at this age the only friends she really has are family. When she gets a little older, it will be fun to invite her closest friends to come along with us, but this time around, inviting her grandparents and cousin made the day extra special for her.
Let them indulge. What didn’t she eat that day? I let her go crazy and tried to forget all the mom ground rules and organic, cage free, sugar-free, Non-GMO, no fun guidelines that I normally try to follow. She had Mickey Mouse waffles, a Mickey shaped lollipop, an ice cream cone, a whole pickle, her chocolate birthday cake, etc. etc. etc. It’s one day, they can splurge! (Cut to 10:00 pm that night when they are still running around on a sugar high and you are already two glasses of wine deep, trying to get them to fall asleep…..I’m sorry!)
Get them that handy-dandy autograph book. I couldn’t stress it enough, especially when going to any theme park that has characters walking around. The autograph book is key! It may seem annoying at the time to dig around in your purse and whip it out every time you see a character, handing their giant gloved hand a tiny pen and see them struggle to sign when they can’t really see out of the eye sockets of their costume, but when you can look back and flip through that book with your kids, it brings back such special memories! And if you tell the characters that it is your child’s birthday, they will write a special message in the book and spend a little more time with them talking about their birthday or giving them an extra hug.
Let them pick their present at the end. Instead of buying them a present beforehand, tell them that if they are a good girl/boy, they can pick out their very own present at the end of the day. We went to Downtown Disney to pick Meyer’s present out and lucky for us she was asleep so she didn’t get the chance to pick out everything and then scream when we told her that we were only buying one thing. We got her the Animators’ Collection Deluxe Figure set featuring all of the princesses and it was as if I had handed her a check for a million dollars when she saw it after she woke up. Bonus points for Mom and Dad!
Have a plan. Trust me, I am usually one to just fly by the seat of my pants but when you only have one day at a busy theme park and there are other family members involved, a plan is essential. Whether it is a list of rides you want to go on, places you must visit or times for the different shows, a plan will make your day less stressful. And the best part about Disneyland is the app that you can download to your phone that tells you the wait times for the rides, locations for all the food, restrooms and shops and even where and when your favorite characters will be appearing. With a princess obsessed daughter, that came in the most handy. I know Meyer wanted to meet her favorite, Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog, so I made sure I was camped out in front of Mark Twain’s Riverboat at exactly 11:59 am. so we would not miss her appearance at 12:00 pm-12:05 pm. But on the day we went, it was sprinkling a bit and apparently Tiana doesn’t come out in the rain, so my plan was shattered (really, girl?). Luckily, Meyer didn’t seem to care that much (she was preoccupied by her giant pickle) but I was more upset that I pretty much stalked her and didn’t get to meet her in the end. The good news? While we were walking to Mickey’s Toon Town later that day, I heard a familiar song coming from the Fantasyland Theater, dropped everything and ran up there to scope it out. It was TIANA!!!!!!!!!! I jotted down the next showtime for Mickey and the Magical Map and next thing I knew, we were enjoying the show with princesses like Mulan, Pocahontas and Tiana to boot. Score for Mommy! We all certainly had a blast celebrating Meyer’s 2nd birthday at Disneyland and didn’t have a messy house to clean up afterwards or a room full of toys that she didn’t need.
This recipe that I stumbled upon online (originally from Williams Sonoma), is quite possibly the best cookie recipe ever…seriously! And if you don’t believe me, ask my two-year old who would eat these cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner if Mommy let her. Not only did I want to find the perfect chocolate chip recipe, I wanted one that incorporated sea salt as an added bonus. There is just something about sweet (yet savory), ooey, gooey, warm, chocolate chip cookies that totally melts my heart. The recipe gets even better when your toddler helps out, adding that extra dash of love and creating a special moment and putting a smile on your kiddo’s face. Meyer even has a Princess and the Frog apron and chef hat that she loves to wear when we cook together and finds the KitchenAid mixer absolutely fascinating. Just beware, if you are making this recipe with your children, they will want to eat the butter (and will do so when you turn your back) and make quite a mess if you let them pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. But just add a pinch of patience into the ingredients list and you will be fine. Enjoy!
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature, (1 stick)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup + 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (more or less to your taste)
- Sea salt
- Add flour and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk for 15 seconds to incorporate.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add softened butter and both sugars. Beat with paddle attachment for about 2 minutes, until mixture is smooth and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla, beat on LOW speed until combined.
- Add flour, half the mixture at a time, beating on LOW speed until JUST combined after each addition. Don’t over mix, or your cookies won’t be soft and tender.
- Add chocolate chips and stir together with a wooden spoon.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Minutes before you want to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Use a large cookie scoop (or a 1/4 cup filled about 2/3 of the way), scoop round balls of dough onto parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
- Press a couple of chocolate chips into the tops of the balls of dough and sprinkle the dough with sea salt.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden brown and tops of cookies look a little underdone.
- Sprinkle a little more sea salt (depending on your taste) on top of the baked cookies.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For me, being pregnant is one of the best feelings in the world. I loved every minute of my pregnancy with Meyer and so far am loving every minute of my second pregnancy as well. And this time around, I know what to expect at the end (pain wise) so I am not as anxious as I was the first time. But there are still all kinds of emotions circling through my head. I’m in my second trimester. I’m on baby number two. I have a soon to be two-year old. There are so many twos happening right now! Am I going to remember everything about having a newborn? How am I going to balance my life with two little ones? And most importantly how am I going to love the new baby as much as I love Meyer? My friend defined that question for me…It’s not like you have to sacrifice other things in your life to make room for that love, or diminish any love you have for your first-born, your ‘jar’ of love just gets bigger and you have more love to give. Bingo! That was the answer that I needed to calm any nerves I had about baby number two…
And now to the physical attributes of pregnancy. I am now starting to show my baby bump after the many weeks of waking up and saying, ‘”wow, my stomach is still flat!” But I am in that awkward stage where people look at me thinking “is she expecting or did she just splurge on too many donuts?” I have to constantly rub my tummy or walk with one hand on top of it so that people know that I am carrying a baby, not a few extra Double Doubles in my gut. I am almost to the point of the maternity pants stage but as of now, I can get away with just wearing the waist extender in my own pants or leaving the top button undone. Hail to stretch pants! But the one thing that I am struggling with (I did with Meyer too) are the constant nose bleeds…I mean, come on!
When I was pregnant with Meyer, I took a weekly photo of my bump chronicling the week by week progress. Do you think I did so with the second one? Nope! Have you seen those commercials when the mom cleans everything the first-born touches and then just wipes off the second child’s pacifier on her shirt after it falls on the ground? Yup, those stereotypes are already ringing true. So I figured I would try to take a few nice pictures of Meyer and I, featuring the baby bump. But most of them turned into awkward shots of her trying to kiss my belly while laughing or me telling her over and over again to just come here for a minute or to JUST STOP MOVING!….Oh the bribes you use while doing a photo shoot! At least I got a few that showcased our mother daughter bond and the love that she has for her new brother or sister (so far).
When compiling a list of my favorite things, I look at items that I use daily and things that simply make me (or someone I love) extremely happy. There are a few items that I use so often, they are always on my shopping list and there are some things that I know Meyer just adores. I took a look around my closet, our kitchen and Meyer’s room and made my next ‘cannot live without’ list. Here are some more of my favorite things:
1. Ecco Aimee Shoes. Besides going barefoot, these are the best things that I have ever worn on my feet. They are so comfortable, are super cute and can be worn with basically everything in my wardrobe.
2. Floradix Iron and Herbs. I am a huge fan of herbs and vitamins, especially now that I am pregnant. I make sure to take this liquid magic daily to give my body (and my baby) all the iron and vitamins that we need. It isn’t the best tasting concoction out there (think licorice with a hint of copper) but hey, it does a body good!
3. Illume Winter White candle. This is probably the best smelling candle I have ever sniffed and it even looks pretty to boot. It looks more like a conversation piece than a candle and smells like you are running through the woods with a tray of sugar cookies and an Abercrombie model.
4. Better Life cleaning products. There are a ton of ‘natural’ products on the market that may be all the rage right now but they still contain a few bad ingredients that Better Life does not. The number one offender that I see way too often is phenoxyethanol. Although I feel like no product can really be 100% natural unless you bust out the vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda, these products are pretty close to it.
5. Minnie’s Happy Helpers Brunch Cafe. Available at Toys R Us and Walmart to name a few, this toy is just as much fun for the adults as it is for kids! I have two words for you…Cereal Dispenser! And not only can you get a bowl of cereal on the go (the ‘cereal’ is actually plastic bows and Minnie faces) but you can ‘pour’ a cup of coffee, make some scrambled eggs (with a real sizzling sound) and flip your waffle in the waffle maker. Meyer could play with this thing for hours and she is delighted to help whenever I order a cup of coffee from her. It is darling.
6. Leslie Patricelli books. Call me simple and right to the point but these books do just that. With titles like Toot, Potty, Blankie, Tickle and No No Yes Yes to name a few, these books are cute, vibrant and informative for your kids. I love them and Meyer can’t get enough of them. She lingers on all the pages, she laughs and points at the pictures and she always says ‘again!’ when I am finished.
7. Kiddopotamus Tinydiner Placemat. This is the one product that I always get asked about when I am out in public. It is a simple, waterproof and handy mat that you stick to the table to eliminate any mess (if you can imagine) and make cleanup easy. Yes, if you are st a restaurant, you can just wash the table and use a plate, but with this product, you just whip it out of the baby bag, stick it to the table and know your baby is eating off a clean surface. Once they are done, you just wipe it clean, roll it up and put it back in the baby bag for next time. Genius!
You know when you find a product that you absolutely cannot live without? Well, I have a few that I would like to tell you about. Products for me, products for Meyer and my favorite thing from Trader Joe’s that I use almost weekly. I am by no means Oprah, but I would like to share a few of my favorite things.
- Jackson Reece Kinder by Nature Herbal Wipes. We have searched high and low for the best, most natural baby wipes for Meyer and I think we found ourselves a gem. I know, I know, a baby wipe is a baby wipe, right? But sometimes they aren’t! Baby’s bums are very sensitive and a lot of products can irritate your little one’s booty. But not Kinder by Nature wipes. These are the best that we have ever used. www.jacksonreece.com.
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow. My friend introduced me to this fun and different coloring book last month. There are about 5 pictures in each book, with a puzzle asking kids to find different items in the pictures. But the best part about these coloring books is that there are no crayons or markers needed. Just water! So no breaking, losing, or dried out tools to go along with this book. You simply fill up the brush with water and color away on the page to ‘reveal’ a beautifully colored photo. No mess, no stress! www.melissaanddoug.com.
- Shills Purifying Black Peel Off Charcoal Mask. There are a lot of mixed reviews for this product but I absolutely love it! I use it about once a month on my (sensitive) skin and it keeps my face fresh, my pores minimized and my skin so soft. It does hurt a bit when you peel it off but I’ve had a baby, I can take the pain! You can get this product at Amazon, www.walmart.com or at www.shillsnatural.com.
- Trader Joe’s Trader Giotti’s Bruschetta. Hands down, the best jar of anything you can buy. I add this product to pretty much everything. Chicken, quinoa, rice, spaghetti squash, lentils…the list goes on. You can find it near the pasta sauce at your local Trader Joe’s.
- Tiny Captain Toddler Socks. These non-skid, colorful and adorable socks are the best toddler socks on the market. I had never even heard of Tiny Captain until my sister bought a pack for Meyer last year. She loves them, I love them and her feet love them! She wears them everyday. They stay on her feet, keep her from not slipping on the hard wood floors and are breathable so she can wear them to bed. www.tinycaptain.com.
- Milkbarn Organic Stroller Blanket. Our friends bought us this blanket for our baby shower (along with a few other Milkbarn items) and we had no idea at the time how much it would be a part of our lives. Meyer absolutely loves her blankie, wants to take it everywhere with her and sleeps with it every night. It is so pretty, soft and the perfect size for her. www.milkbarnkids.com.
- Shea Moisture Lotions and Body Wash. Not only does Meyer love Shea moisture products, but my husband and I do too. The assortment of natural lotions, body wash, bubble bath, face masks and hair products are available at Target and CVS. They have so many different products for every skin type, that you can easily find a match for you. www.sheamoisture.com.
Choosing a name for your little one is quite the challenge, but if you have to pick a name that they will identify with for their whole life, make it a good one! Sorry parents but the pressure is on! When we chose Meyer as our daughter’s name, not only did we love it because it was unique (but not too unique that it would raise eyebrows), we thought that it would be fun to brand her as our own little Meyer lemon. Hence, we bought everything lemon, painted her room yellow and prayed she wouldn’t disagree with our choices. So far so good. But she is only 21 months…just wait until she is 16 and demands that I stop throwing her lemon themed parties or forcing her to work in the front yard lemonade stand every summer! So for now, I intend to take full advantage of it and buy up all the lemon apparel that I can get! What’s the fun of having a name like Meyer if you can’t dress her in lemon themed everything, right? And I’m not alone…I am willing to bet that Gwyneth Paltrow had various apple themed items for her daughter, Apple, Brie Bella went ‘tweet-y’ for her daughter, Birdie and Alicia Silverstone had a GRRReat time buying clothes for her son, Bear. My new motto? When life gives you a lemon, dress like one!
Thank you so much to Nichole James Photography for the fun fall photoshoot of my cute little family. Even though Meyer was not having it that day, we still managed to get some good shots of us. Happy holidays!
As many of you moms probably know, getting your toddlers to eat greens is almost as hard as finding the time to clean out your junk drawer. Meyer will eat pretty much anything (pickles, lamb, olives, tomatoes) but greens. Even if I try and sneak a piece of spinach on her spoon under the rice and turkey, she will fish it out of her mouth immediately. As frustrating as it is, I am thankful she has always liked the green shakes that I make for myself, so anytime I make one, I give her a cup as well. Sneaky way to get those greens in her belly, huh? Needless to say, she loves her green shake and gets so excited when I get out the Magic Bullet to whip it up. You can add anything you would like to your green shake but we have our own favorite recipe:
Handful of spinach
Handful of kale
1/2 Lemon (with the rind)
Sprinkle of Chia Seeds
2 scoops of Standard Process SP Complete powder
Add all of the ingredients to your blender and enjoy!
I am not sure if it is a phase or some sort of toddler regression, but Meyer has been so clingy lately! Anytime I leave her side or am out of her view, it is like she is never going to see me again and she just cries until I pick her up. I’m starting to refer to her as my little shadow or Velcro because she is attached at my hip 24/7. Last Friday when I was cleaning the house, she couldn’t even bear for me to put her down while I vacuumed. So I had to compromise with her….I busted out the Baby Bjorn, strapped her in and went about my business. I used to do that all the time when she was a baby but now that she is almost 2 years old, it’s a crazy workout! She is almost 30 lbs. I have a two-story house. My back hurts.