Potty Training Boys (Without the Fuss)

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One day, out of sheer madness, we decided to do it. You know, the whole stuck-at-home-for-three-days potty training method. Cabin fever, and all. We did it. And believe it or not, those three days turned into five. We didn’t leave the house for five days. And, in the end, it was the best decision ever.

When I look back on our potty training journey (it’s been about two months now, so not exactly a “journey” per say), I realize that although all toddlers are different, there is a science behind the whole process. Can you do it differently? Sure, but it might just take a lot longer, and there might be a lot more fuss, which is something we were desperately trying to avoid. My husband had just gotten tricep surgery and I was (and still am) in my third trimester of pregnancy. Not exactly a time during which you have the energy or motivation to pin your child down to a toilet multiple times a day.

Note: We are not planning on tackling nap time or nighttime for a little while. Liam still wakes up with very wet diapers and our goal is to simply reduce our diaper usage and get him to become independent during the day. He starts preschool next September and we’d rather get him potty training and not have to start from scratch when his newborn brother gets here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.32.17 AMSince Liam had shown us that he was capable of going both number 1 and 2 on the potty back in July, we knew he at least felt familiar with the whole thing, and was more or less ready to tackle it. I think this is a major tip for all parents thinking about potty training in the near future: make sure your child is ready to start. Follow his/her lead. “Ready” can mean that your child stays dry for many hours during the day, or that he/she simply asks to use the “big girl/boy potty” on his own. You can also make sure your child sees you, or your partner, use the bathroom. That way he/she understands that this is what adults and big kids do. Back in July, we sat Liam onto his potty chair in front of a cartoon and kept prompting him to push, and he did. We weren’t able to fully commit then, and had to wait a bit, but it gave him a few months to mature and be even more ready.

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When I say the “three day” method (or, in our case, five) was the best decision ever, it’s because we did the whole potty training thing cold turkey. Liam went commando for the first three days, then with pants (no diaper) the next two. We didn’t leave the house, so he didn’t get confused about what to do on the go. We simply reminded him every 15-20 minutes (then eventually every 30-45 minutes) by asking him if he needed to use the potty. These reminders were eventually no longer needed, and Liam actually went by himself or asked us to help him use the potty. The learning process felt very natural and unforced, and we didn’t have to put anything “on hold” during that week. We didn’t use pull ups or anything that could potentially confuse him, either.

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We’d read a lot about having a reward system in place, and, for Liam, it definitely worked. We give him a high five for number 1 and a lollipop and sticker on his chart for number 2. We praise him every time he runs to the potty on his own (without us having to remind him it’s time to go), and he really does feel proud of himself. Avoid scolding your child if he/she has an “accident”, and simply tell him/her that, next time, they need to use the potty quickly before it’s too late.

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We had a good potty training journey so far, but that doesn’t mean Liam won’t have regressions. It’s common when a baby comes into the picture, or with any other “big” changes at home. Sometimes, he’ll decide to be difficult and have a few accidents because he tries to hold it too long. Other days, he’ll do amazingly well. Just like with sleeping through the night, be consistent, patient, and try not to give up when it’s hard. It’s all a learning process!

 

When it was time to actually take the “big step”, I did a ton of research to buy all the “must-have” potty training items. I’ll admit I went a little overboard at first, but now, two months in, I can honestly say the items below are our family’s favorites… and they’re all available on Amazon!

 

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.32.37 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.36.40 AMThis potty seat is Liam’s favorite, probably due to its soft cushion and fun design and handles. I love that it comes with a reward chart and stickers, too! We’ve been using them every time he goes number 2, and he’s always beaming with pride when we let him pick out his sticker. The potty is very secure due to its unique “lock” system, and it honestly does not budge once tightened. It’s a winner in our house!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.32.42 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.41.35 AM.pngWe are obsessed with these stools for Liam. Our sink happens to be very high and the stool height is perfect for him to reach the faucet. He loves climbing up like a big boy, planting his feet on the footprint marks, and washing his hands on his own! The best feature about these stools, in my opinion, is the rubber grip at the bottom. They really do not move at all!

We use the Perfechi potty seat in our second bathroom (the one Liam uses occasionally) and actually really like that it’s so simple, resembling a regular toilet seat. At the end of the day, no bathroom seats have cozy padding and fancy designs, so this is a good thing for him to get accustomed to as well.

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I really wasn’t sure if Liam was going to love PoGO. He tends to be scared of toys that move/speak, so I was curious to see what his reaction would be. Turns out, it’s now his favorite toy! Developed by a parent and psychologist, PoGO says things like “I’m so proud of you!” and other positive potty-related phrases, but also reminds your child every 45 minutes to use the potty. Liam takes those reminders very seriously and always takes PoGO with him. Bonus: he’s washable!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.32.48 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.37.55 AMOriginally, I bought Liam thin cotton underwear with Disney characters on them. They’re perfectly fine, but I wanted to get training pants with some absorption capacity for times when we’re on the go. The 3 layers make these training pants partially waterproof, helping to catch small accidents. Unlike with pull ups, which are more similar to regular disposable diapers, your child will feel the wetness with the onset of an accident. I love that they have a thick waistband and are easy to pull up and down for toddlers learning to do so. 

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My biggest fear about potty training was that Liam would go in the car seat or in the stroller when we’re out and about. This car seat protector has been a life saver! Not that Liam has ever peed his pants in the car (yet!), but it gives me some much needed peace of mind. It’s crash test approved, fully waterproof, and easy to throw in the wash!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.32.56 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.39.51 AMThis is a fun change for little boys. Liam still has a hard time aiming directly into the bowl when he’s sitting (depending on how badly he needs to go), so we practice aiming into this fun little urinal. If it was summer, we’d have more options (like trees!), but for now this urinal is definitely doing the trick. Liam thinks it’s the coolest thing ever!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.33.07 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 11.42.42 AM.pngFinally, we had to think of a “desperate times call for desperate measures” item, and this little portable urinal fits the bill. It saved our butts one day when we were driving down a busy road and Liam exclaimed, “Pee pee!”. We quickly pulled over into a vacant lot, unstrapped him, and had him go directly in the urinal. It’s very easy to clean once you get home, and can be a true life saver in public places when bathrooms aren’t accessible right away, especially in these early stages of potty training. You just never know when the need to go will strike, and it’s better than an accident! The portable urinal is super tiny and easy to stuff into a diaper bag.

 

There you have it, Mamas! My tips and must-haves for potty training without a fuss. It is important to note that, on average, boys are potty trained later than girls, so do not stress it if your child has no desire to use the potty quite yet. Besides, it gets a lot more stressful without diapers… so if you’re not 100% ready, then it’s worth the wait. I thought it would be a nightmare potty training Liam, but it was actually not as difficult as I thought it would be, and it taught Liam to communicate with us a lot better. Minus the accidents and occasional grumpiness, we’ve managed to make it relatively fun!

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5 Resolutions All Moms Need to Make For 2018

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You want to know something? I’m not one of those people who makes a list of resolutions every year. I never vow to go to the gym 4-5 times per week, cut out gluten from my diet, or spend at least every other Sunday with family.

I just never believed in the idea of coming up with a list of things to feel guilty about if I wasn’t able to see it through. There is nothing more disappointing than a resolution that only makes it a couple of weeks before fizzling out.

I like to think of the new year, and the whole “resolutions” thing, as a time to reflect on myself as a person. What am I proud of this year? What do I need to change? I take a long, hard look at myself and try to figure out where there’s room for improvement. It takes the pressure out of resolutions, and allows me to meditate on myself, my growth, my personal journey.

My resolutions are always pretty vague and abstract. They’re small tweaks and adjustments I want to make in my life, mostly in the way I live my life, and I treat them as daily reminders. I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to know that these are the things that I would benefit from. These are the things that will get me closer to my “authentic” me. My true, uninhibited self.

So here it goes, Mamas… My list of resolutions for 2018. I do believe that although these are personal adjustments, they apply to all of us – as moms, we are so accustomed to taking care of everyone that we should take the time to focus on ourselves and not lose sight of who we are not just as moms, but as women, first and foremost.

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Little obstacles arise every single day, and they sometimes get the best of me. These “inconveniences” can be as silly as an overstuffed freezer that keeps collapsing when I open the door, or the fact that I haven’t done groceries in two weeks and have started running out of meal ideas.

This year, let’s learn to prioritize – put those “small things” on the back burner, and focus on what’s important. We will be welcoming a new addition into our family in a matter of weeks, and this is something I need to remember: I do not need to handle it all. Some things can wait. They will, whether I like it or not, and that’s okay. I can choose to be overwhelmed by this, or simply let it go. Choose option B. 

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I’ve been in many situations this year where I witnessed things that didn’t sit right with me. Many times I chose to stay quiet, and, all of the times I did, it made me physically unwell to keep this negativity inside of me. In 2018, I choose to voice my feelings, sometimes without filter. I choose to be that friend who will tell you what you need to hear (although you might not want to), and that person who doesn’t just nod if something feels wrong. I am a true believer that strong emotions should be released, not held on to.

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I’m a control freak – I like to be on top of my life, my household, my day to day activities. This makes it difficult sometimes to ask for help. What I’ve realized is that it is essential for my happiness, my sanity, to let my husband, and our families, take over sometimes. Besides, it is crucial for my husband to have his own tasks to “control” at home – this not only makes him feel present and accomplished, but also gives me some much needed breaks throughout the day. Breaks that I don’t realize I need until… aah. 

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I have no problem saying I’m a people pleaser. I’m proud of the fact that I always make the effort to be pleasant, no matter my mood, no matter how tough of a day I’ve been having. Why? Because people who don’t are my pet peeve. I am uncomfortable around those who switch moods like outfits. It’s not difficult to put on a smile and not make people feel like they did something to upset you.

However, I do think that putting on this “happy face” can sometimes become a burden. Feeling the need to attend every birthday party, every event, or play date you’re invited to, despite how you’re feeling, can take a toll on you emotionally and physically. I put my pregnant self through many things this year that, deep down, I knew I should’ve just politely declined. In 2018, I vow to do the things that truly make me happy.

Don’t feel obligated to put everyone else before yourself because you “have” to. You don’t. It’s okay to say no when you don’t want to do something – your family and friends will understand.

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Finally, whether it’s to speak my mind or allow myself to be quirky, I just want to be me. I want to stop worrying about what people think (because, really, who cares?) and leave every situation feeling like I was 100% myself. I want to always be myself, unapologetically. I’m sure this is, and will remain, a work in progress for most of us. But this is the direction I want to work towards: to live a brave, confident, and genuine life, always.

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Holiday DIY Gifts for Family, Friends, and Colleagues

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Need a last minute gift for a cousin you completely forgot about? A colleague who left a little something on your desk and now you feel super guilty you didn’t return the favor? Do you just want to stun your girlfriends with some homemade gifts?

This is the post for you! These DIY gifts are super easy to make and can be put together within a few minutes. I had a blast making them and know you will too. You’re welcome, Mamas!

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I have an obsession with mason jars. I love to drink out them, use them as vases, get crafty with them, etc. I couldn’t think of a better homemade gift than a creative mason jar idea! For this year’s Christmas, I put together these adorable cocoa and marshmallow mixes, complete with mini Bailey’s bottles. I figured everyone likes a nice cup of cocoa, and Bailey’s, well… those definitely won’t go to waste!

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For 6 mason jars (here) or 12 mini mason jars (here), all you need is:

3 bags small marshmallows

3 boxes Swiss Miss (10 packets each)

6 Bailey’s nips

thick printing paper (for the labels)

twine (to tie the bottles to the mason jars)

Empty 4-5 hot chocolate packets at the bottom of each mason jar, add the marshmallows, then seal the jar. Poke a hole through your label (I like to print each name in a nice font, then cut it out!) With the twine, make a knot around the neck of the Baileys bottle, feed the label through, and tie them both to the jar. The result is super cute!

 

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These lip balms are amazing, you guys. They’re only three ingredients, take about five minutes to make, and honestly work like a charm! I made a test batch and they’re super moisturizing and smell delicious. I love that you can personalize the scents with essential oils, based on preference. I went with peppermint and lavender, but you can use orange, lemon, eucalyptus, and the list goes on!

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All you’ll need is:

 5 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons beeswax (you can get some here)

12 drops essential oils (of choice)

You can use metal tins or actual chapstick containers. I got mine from here.

Just melt the beeswax and coconut oil in a pot, then add the drops. The mix will take some time to solidify, so just be patient and try not to move the containers if you want a nice smooth finish. Voila!

 

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For some reason, I always thought candles would be a challenging craft to tackle. I couldn’t have been more wrong! They’re not only super easy, but make great gifts, too.

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All you’ll need is:

A glass container/mason jar (I got mine from here)

Soy candle wax (enough flakes to fill your container – I got mine here )

12-15 drops essential oils

Small candlewick (I got a set here)

Fill your container with just enough soy wax flakes, melt them in the microwave (keep filling the container as the flakes start to melt), add essential oil drops to the wax while it’s still hot, then set the candle wick in the middle of the candle until it sets. I used two chopsticks to make sure it stayed centered and didn’t budge.

I like to add orange slices, coffee beans, rosemary, or lavender to my candles. Get creative with it! The add-ons look great when the wax solidifies. And don’t worry about them floating at the surface… they eventually sink to the bottom when the wax sets.

 

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Everyone likes a nice scrub once in a while. When I used to live in the Caribbean, my mom and I used to always sit by the edge of the ocean and use wet sand as a body scrub on our elbows and knees.  Unfortunately, this isn’t something I can do in New York, but who knew body scrubs were so easy to make at home? I love this coffee/brown sugar scrub recipe!

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All you’ll need is:

Mini Mason Jars (I got mine here)

1 cup ground coffee

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut or almond oil

10 drops orange or peppermint essential oil (optional)

That’s it! Just store the scrub in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

 

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Those are my last minute DIY gifts! You have a full day to gather your supplies – go, go, go! And don’t forget to let me know if you try any of these and love them as much as I do 🙂

Note: If you’re interested in stocking up on mason jars, tin containers, and other craft supplies, my two favorite websites/shops for DIY projects are Nakpunar Craft & Party Supplies (they have everything craft-related!) and Smith’s Mason Jars (they have the cutest mini mason jars and soap dispensers!)

Mama Naturelle’s Top Picks for New Moms (December 2017)

Mama Naturelle's top picksHi Mamas! I’m finally in the home stretch (6 and a half weeks to go!) and it’s starting to really hit me that I’m about to give birth. That I’m about to go without sleep for weeks on end and experience bad latches, chapped nipples, and spit up again.

The postpartum/newborn stage is a tough one, we all know that, and it’s essential to feel ready (or at least as ready as possible!) to go through this challenging (but beautiful!) journey.

I took my time compiling my December picks, and that’s because most of the items listed below have to do with caring for a newborn baby or recovering from childbirth. I wanted this list to be extensive, and as helpful as possible to moms about to experience this stage.

You’ll find a variety of goodies here – from cute baby accessories and nursery must haves to postpartum must haves – many of which I did not have for Liam’s birth. I hope you’re as impressed with them as I was, and that some of these make it into your Amazon cart 🙂 I’m so excited to try them out with baby Noah!

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Hiccapop is an Amazon bestseller, and it’s obvious why: they have the most amazing products! I love their pregnancy pillow wedge (perfect for sleeping during the third trimester) and Day Dreamer, a cozy lounger/travel bed for newborns and infants. I love how lightweight it is, so I can move it throughout the house when necessary. So much more practical than lugging a bassinet or heavy duty swing around!

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There are lots of nursing covers and bibs out there, but I haven’t found many that I love as much as the ones by Amaroo . These ethnic, boho prints are adorable and stylish, and will match pretty much any outfit in my little guy’s closet 🙂

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I mean… how darn adorable are these baby moccasins by Little Lovebug Company? I am obsessed with them and can’t wait for Noah to wear his. I love that they actually have soft soles with non-slip grips. Perfect for the early standing days – less slips, rips, and trips! There are tons of sizes available for babies (6-12 months) through toddlerhood (size 6). Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 9.32.57 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-20 at 10.02.58 AM.png

Ashtonbee has such a diverse amount of products available on their website. I just had to order their silicone breast pump to facilitate the pumping process when we’re on the go, but I also thought these crawling knee pads were a fantastic idea, too! I remember cringing when Liam started crawling on our wooden floors. Not super gentle on their little knees… but luckily, with number 2, problem fixed! Can’t wait to cheer our little crawler on!
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The international maternity brand Sweet Mommy has you covered for everything breastfeeding and newborn-related. For a winter pregnancy, I found so many amazing items on their website! I love their stroller cover (third photo) to make sure Liam is always bundled in and comfortable, and the Mommy & Me coat (fourth photo) is possibly the greatest invention ever. This cost has a zip insert to accommodate your little one! Their nursing tops are also incredibly soft and flattering. I got them in so many colors!

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Silk and More has been super popular on Etsy since 2009, and for good reason: their robes are super duper comfortable! I opted for a terry cloth one (in navy) because I know it will come in handy at the hospital and beyond once baby Noah gets here. You have to check out their bridesmaids robes, kaftans, hospital gowns, and more!

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Goodbye unflattering hospital robes! I am super excited about wearing this adorable, floral robe by Comfy Mommy on the big day. They have so many options that work for a ton of different occasions. Check them out!

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For my recovery with Liam, I froze maxi pads with witch hazel ahead of time and separated them from one another with saran wrap. This was such a great idea and I was so glad to have stocked up on them! God knows I needed it… This time, however, I found an even easier solution with VagiKool: reusable feminine cold packs! Probably not the most glamorous item on this list, but definitely one of the most useful!

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I heard of these Milkelle collection shells when I was nursing Liam and thought they were a great idea, but never got a chance to get a set. This time, however, I’m prepared! I’ll be able to collect those “liquid gold” drops that would otherwise go to waste during feeds and randomly throughout the day. Genius!

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I love a good drying rack for baby bottles and accessories, and this one by Lullababy comes with a brush/sponge cleaning set, too! What I love is that this drying rack is simple, and easier to clean than most of the fancier ones on the market. Perfect for our busy household!

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These Baomosi nursing bras are perfect because they’re not ridiculously bulky like some of the ones I got my hands on the first time around with Liam. They’re comfortable, but also really cute. Bonus: they come in packs of threes!

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If your baby has reflux or nasal congestion, or simply prefers to be propped up while in a lying down position, this Conforzy wedge is perfect for you! It has the ideal 12 degree angle recommended by pediatricians for newborns that use bassinets. It’s also waterproof and BPA free!

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 I’ve had this Snuggle Me for a while now and have been dying to use it with baby Noah! The summer Liam was born, my mom would take him outside and rock him to sleep on her lap. This simple lounger will be perfect for these tender moments. The padded sides make for a safe and cozy nap!

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I have a confession to make… I owned not one, but two, baby wearing slings when Liam was a newborn, but never used them. Yes, I blamed it on the fact that it was way too hot that year in June/July, and that Liam would cry every time I attempted to place him in, but I definitely didn’t give babywearing a fair chance.

This time around, however, with a winter baby, I intend to take full advantage of it.  Lil Peepers Keepers has a beautiful collection of baby slings that will work for any mom. Rebecca, the shop owner, also provides a wonderful guide on how to properly wear your baby. It may seem easy, but there is definitely a learning curve!

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 9.31.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-20 at 1.42.29 PM.pngIn our home, extra storage is everything. Meet Peekabags: these adorable, collapsible bins are perfect for everything nursery-related, and I love how versatile they can be.

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I like to think that we will be able to reuse a lot of the nursery items we had for Liam as a baby, but his brush set was unfortunately beyond saving… Luckily, I found Babylinos on Amazon. Their wooden brush set is just perfect: you get four different brush types (a cradle cap silicone brush, natural goat hair bristle brush, wood bristle massager brush, and comb!) which, in my opinion, is a great deal. Liam had cradle cap as a newborn and I wish we’d had the silicone brush to gently massage his scalp instead of using a towel to rub the flakes off. This is a great set that I think will come in very handy in the next few months, if not years.  Wouldn’t it make a great baby shower gift, too?

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 9.31.32 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-20 at 1.38.37 PM.pngThese genius hangers are the perfect addition to our home. I always wondered what I would do with all of these teeny tiny velvet hangers when our boys outgrew them… turns out I should’ve gotten GroHangers all along! They actually GROW with your child. How amazing is that?

 Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 9.31.26 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-20 at 1.39.16 PM.pngI’ve written about Dear Baby Gear (in Noah’s woodland nursery post), but I have to share their beautiful (and reversible!) infant car seat canopies, too. Liam hated falling asleep  on the go if it wasn’t pitch dark, so we always threw a swaddle or blanket over his car seat. Not super practical when we wanted to check on him. This canopy is perfect for situations like ours! Can’t wait to use it with Noah!Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 1.40.09 PM.png 
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I’ve written about the known benefit of Amber before (Amber Teething Necklaces: Do They Really Work?), but mostly as a way to offer relief for teething babies. I was blown away when I found Umai Amber on Amazon. They focus on the wellbeing of babies, but also moms! From maternity necklaces to relieve heartburn and anxiety to postpartum necklaces to help with balance and positivity, you can take a deep breath knowing you’ve got that extra support. And if you don’t buy into the virtues of amber, read this.

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I actually can’t believe I didn’t think of buying these when I was breastfeeding Liam. By using these cloth nursing pads by Andy Met Ali (made from anti-bacterial bamboo rayon), you will avoid sending disposable breast pads to landfills. Even their packaging is eco friendly! And if you didn’t think of using breast pads at all, definitely do consider it. As sleep deprived Mamas (aka zombies), the last thing we need to worry about is milk stains!

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I’m obsessed with these nautical rail guards by Love Bug Linens. Unfortunately, I found their shop after doing Liam’s big boy room reveal, but their rail guards add something super special to his bedroom that I wish I could’ve captured on the reveal video. For years, we had a rail guard set from Amazon that was super hard to untie, so these are such an upgrade. Their quality is incredible!

That’s it for my postpartum/newborn must-haves, Mamas!

Hope you like what you saw. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! 

Christmas Gifts for Toddlers (and Beyond)

Christmas giftsfor toddlers(and beyond!)

I’m so excited, Mamas: I’m finally done with holiday shopping. Hallelujah!

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that you should always start your Christmas shopping early. Did I learn this last year, and also the year before? Yes. I did. But that’s beside the point. 

I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite holiday gifts for toddlers. Yes, we went a tad overboard this year because it’s Liam’s last solo Christmas, and we wanted to make it special, but, 1. Many of these toys will not be outgrown within the next few months (they’re smart investments!), and 2. We have a second boy on the way who will collect the hand me downs. No guilt trippin’ in this household!

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 2.20.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.25.16 PM.pngThis ride on PonyCycle is one of the most genius toys I’ve come across this holiday season. They’re not your standard rocking horse – far from it! Ranging from classic horses to zebras and unicorns, these toys actually move throughout your living room… and your child has full control of their movements and speed! By essentially raising and lowering themselves off and back onto the PonyCycle, its legs move in and out, causing it to move forward. Amazing! I’m so excited to take a video of Liam when he gets the hang of this thing. It’s going to be epic!

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Can’t go wrong with some puzzles, stamps, and crayons. I love the Alex brand finger crayons because my son loves anything finger related. His obsession with “Mommy Finger” on Youtube is so real, you guys. If you have no idea what I’m referring to… Good. Don’t look it up. Especially if your kids are around. Just don’t.

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Liam might be two and a half, but he looks five. He’s a lot taller and bulkier than a lot of toddlers his age (he’s already over 40 lbs and a size 10 shoe!) so his coordination isn’t always all that. Poor boy has a lot of body to work with. We thought this would be the good time to introduce a nice, sturdy scooter to teach him balance and coordination. I love the affordable price of this RadioFlyer scooter, and that it’s really simple for little ones to use.

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 2.21.02 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.33.21 PM.pngMy son loves everything tool-related, so this work bench will be a perfect toy for him this year. He’s going to freak out!

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This classic hopper toy will be one of those fun indoor toys to have this winter. I have a feeling Liam will love it.

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 2.20.53 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.37.14 PM.pngI love the idea of having a play pen full of colorful balls in the playroom, especially in the winter. Kids love the distraction, the colors, and how much fun it is to dive in! I got this amazing foldable school bus that acts as a large play pen. All I needed was a set of 100 balls like this one, by Adventures at Home, to complete it. So fun! Another great idea is to buy one of those Little Tikes kid slide and connect it to a kiddie pool full of those colorful plastic balls. Hours of fun guaranteed!

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Liam used to hate building. It was all about destruction! Now, however, I’m starting to see a shift in him. He likes to build super tall towers first, THEN destroy them. To prevent our dogs from getting concussions, I opted for these thick cardboard blocks by Melissa & Doug (not wood) that will do the trick in our living room.

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 2.20.43 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.39.28 PM.pngI actually got this Melissa & Doug grand piano purely by chance: one of our neighbors was selling theirs for a third of the price. Mom win! Regardless, if your child is musically-inclined, this piano is super sturdy and looks just like a miniature version of the real deal. Super cute.

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 2.20.39 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.40.54 PM.pngI’ll make this one short because EVERYONE has heard of these stupid monkeys this year. I’m shocked I managed to get my hands on one (Thank you, Black Friday deals!) but considering my son’s obsession with all sorts of finger toys and puppets, this fingerling is sure to be a winner.

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There are many different roller coaster toys on Amazon, but this one, by Radio Flyer, had great reviews. It’ll be super fun in the spring, or even indoors on those restless winter days!

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My son loves to doodle. He loves craft projects, coloring, painting, anything that involves being a little artist. I got him a giant doodle board for him to express himself without holding back, and I just know it will be used for many, many months to come.

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I was shocked when I realized Amazon didn’t sell any actual fairytale anthologies for kids. I’ve been dying to tell my son the stories that mesmerized me as a kid: The Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks… My grandmother was an expert storyteller and definitely traumatized me with some of her versions back in the day! A nice fairytale book for bedtime, like this one (from Barnes and Noble), is a great Christmas present for your little one, and another one of those gifts that won’t be outgrown in the next few months. It’s all about those gifts that keep on giving 🙂

 

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Mama Naturelle’s Kitchen: The Best Holiday Cookies

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I don’t know about you mamas, but I’m not a big winter gal. I love the magic of the holidays, but as soon as December is over, I’m miserable… I hate the cold and snow!

Although I haven’t been a fan of this cold weather creeping up, I’ve been having a blast making the holidays special for my little guy. We had our first snowfall in New York today, and Liam was mesmerized. I couldn’t get him back inside for a good hour! All he wanted to do was throw snowballs up in the air.Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.58.27 PM.pngWhen we came back inside, we decided to decorate some cookies together. I made my version of Czech gingerbread cookies, and, I have to say, they did not disappoint. I just have to share this simple, vegan, cookie recipe with you guys! It was perfect!

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Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.43.44 PM Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add in the maple syrup and oil. Use your hands to knead the dough until you achieve smooth consistency. If it’s too crumbly, add water (but not too much!) Wrap the finished ball of dough in cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight (I left it in the fridge for 5 hours and it was perfect!)

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When you take it out the next day and find out that the dough is crumbly again, add a tiny bit of water. Roll out the dough to achieve thickness of about 4mm (no thinner, otherwise the cookies may come out too well done and hard) and cut out individual shapes. Put your cookies in a tray lined with baking paper and into a preheated oven. Bake at 375 degrees and for 10-12 minutes. When baked, let the cookies cool down before you decorate them (optional).

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The white decorating mixture is made by mixing lemon juice with confectioners sugar. Determine the ratio yourself so that it is comfortable to work with – remember that the more lemon juice you add, the more sour the icing will be (if you’re not a fan of the lemon taste, you can always do water instead.)

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Holiday Decor: A Rustic Chic Christmas

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Hey Mamas! I have a confession to make…

I’ve been in the holiday spirit for months now.

(As in, before Halloween…)

Isn’t that crazy? And to think I was that girl who didn’t even put up a Christmas tree just two years ago. Oh, how times have changed! Motherhood really does make you a whole new person.

I think this particular year means so much to me because I realize it’s Liam’s last holiday season as an only child. Soon he’ll be sharing all of these special memories with his little brother, which is beautiful, but I still want to make sure this year is special and magical for him. It makes me so happy to see him get excited about the little things!

I wanted to share our holiday decor with you all because I love it. It represents our family and my decorating style pretty well. I like to call it “rustic chic”, although my husband refers to it as “boho rustic chic” because I must’ve used those three words in the same sentence thousands of times while we were planning our wedding three years ago. He’s a bit scarred by it 😉

Like for Liam and Noah’s rooms, I put together a little video of the different accents I incorporated into our dining room for the holidays. You’ll also get a glimpse of our front porch which is still a work in progress. I hope you like it!

If you’re interested in finding a few of these pieces for your own homes, I’ve included the vendors I worked with below.

Happy holiday shopping!

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Are these not the most beautiful stockings you’ve ever seen? Fleece, linen, faux fur, and burlap… the set matches perfectly although each stocking has its own individual style! I was so impressed with the quality of these stockings and highly recommend working with Burlap Babe.
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I totally fell in love with Lisa’s work and shop, Southern Arcadian. She’s so incredibly generous and professional, and the whole process of customizing our “Riehm Family” stocking holder was a pleasure. She offers a wide variety of wooden signs and you just have to check out her beautiful aesthetic.

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If you’re looking for a tree skirt, look no further than The Burlap Cottage. Our linen tassel tree skirt adds such a cozy element to our dining room and I can’t imagine the room without it! It’s exactly what I was hoping for. If you’re a compulsive pillow shopper like me (or if you’re in the market for some holiday pillows), Leanne’s got you covered, too. Check out her beautiful shop!

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I’m saving this beautiful burlap table runner for Christmas Eve dinner (I know my son will get it filthy if I leave it out before then!) but I encourage you to check out Greece-based Etsy shop AJ Rustic Creations for all of your burlap holiday needs. I love their simple, elegant work!

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 5.23.13 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-03 at 8.56.43 PM.pngNow, obviously my two and a half year old wants to destroy our Christmas tree every chance he gets. That’s why I was thrilled to find Woulf’s CreationsSarah’s fun felt creations are perfect for little ones of all ages, making them feel special that they get the chance to decorate their own christmas trees! Mom win!

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Another felt shop that I love is Creativity Customized. Andrea takes her time with each felt piece she creates and you can see the amount of detail in each design. Liam loves his snowman and gingerbread cookie!

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Everything else you see in the video that wasn’t listed above (light up frame, place mats, golden christmas trees, glitter presents, burlap chair bows, wreath) I got at Christmas Tree Shop. Because the holidays aren’t complete without a few CTS knick knacks!

That’s it guys! I tried to keep it simple this year and only buy a few essentials to not go overboard. I actually had a lot of fun doing some DIY projects too, like the reversible porch sign at the beginning of the video (the bucket below it is filled with salt, perfect for snow days!) and pine cone ornaments. The little golden ornaments are made out of salt dough, and were a part of a DIY project I did with Liam last Christmas when he only a year old. Check out the tutorial here!

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If you’re interested in step by step tutorials for the porch sign and pine cone ornaments, please do not hesitate to comment below! I’ll make sure to post them on the blog ASAP 🙂