“I didn’t want to do that anyway.”

Do child tantrums make you crazy?
Do child tantrums make you crazy?
Droolface has officially taken the horrible threes to heart and is running with it – and perhaps a pointy stick. The twos were bad for maybe a month and then Droolface straightened out and I thought we were out of the woods. Then the threes hit. It was a gradual hit. Now about six months in, the full tidal wave of three-year-old furor is here, and I’m at a loss as to what to do.

Here’s a typical situation:

Mommy: Droolface, go potty and then we will eat lunch.
Droolface: No! Baaaah! Bahhhha! I’m shooting you!
Mommy: Droolface, please go potty. I’ll go with you.
Droolface: (Screaming and running away) I don’t want to eat lunch anyway! I guess I’ll just run away. Bahhh! (Throws himself onto a couch or chair or bed and refuses to move.)

Does this happen to you? Where does he come up with these ideas? The “I don’t want to do that anyway” thing is something I have never heard, and I grew up with a very stubborn youngest sister who seemed to come up with every other harsh retort under the sun.

He will shoo away things like dessert, extra book, extra video with this response, so bribing him does not work.

Mommy: Droolface, we have to take a bath first, but then you get dessert – it’s ice cream!
Droolface: I don’t want to take a bath! Baaahhh! I’ll just go straight to bed. No dessert for me! I didn’t want ice cream anyway!

Seriously, who doesn’t want ice cream? The thing is, I know he does want it, but somehow he has come up with this response and I am at a loss as to what to do when this all goes down.

It usually turns out that we are hauling him out of bed or off the couch and carrying him to the potty or forcing him into the tub. It becomes a huge battle when it was really just a simple request and something that we do every day.

How do you handle tantrums? Do your kids have these kinds of issues at home? Help please!

Guest Post: Splitting time during the holidays

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Today’s post is by Amy Powlison, a dear friend of mine who is going through a rough time this holiday season.

It’s a very unsettling and pretty much indescribable feeling to be a single parent, or a parent who splits time with their child and the other parent, during the holidays’. I am fairly new to being a separated parent, who is still trying to get use to splitting time and missing half of everything that happens with my child on a day-to-day basis. Then enter the holiday season. Just as the holidays exaggerate the good, the hopeful, and the well doers; it also exaggerate the time you share and do not have your child. The time when the other parent has them and how that time makes it more difficult if not impossible to “fully” enjoy a holiday. As if coordinating your own family schedule isn’t enough pressure to uphold. Now there is the addition of another person and their family.

As a single mom who splits holidays, with the current arrangement of half day and half day with my separated child’s father. My day seems incomplete, as I spend Thanksgiving morning, and my first holiday as a single mom by myself. It seems as if I am a child and it is Christmas night, and that I keep looking at the clock every five minutes, and waiting for my son to get here late this afternoon.

I am not cooking today, so no cooking to distract me. I am a runner, so I am going on a morning run which usually is something I truly enjoy on holiday mornings. Today, however, it seems more like a plea to stay busy and help time pass. I’ve done laundry, cleaned my kitchen and sent out all the obligatory holiday texts, and calls.

I’ve done the ultimate in time passing and read all the 1000’s of Happy Holiday messages on Facebook. But yet, I feel a sense of emptiness, of loneliness, or waiting and wanting. So as a single parent, I want to know how do you spend your holiday down time without your child (children)?

Whether you ended your relationship amicably, you fight daily, or you try and do the right thing for the kid(s) even on days when it’s not easy. I want to know how as a single parent or separated parents how do you handle it? Do you split the holidays- by splitting the day? Do you switch off holidays? Do you have full custody and not share your child (children), and if so- is there a small pang of guilt for not letting the other parent be with their family on the holidays? Or are you glad you have full custody and have no guilt or remorse? How do you fill your down time? Do you plan out your time with your child? Do you find ways to fill your morning? Or do you enjoy the downtime?

Does being a mom mean mom jeans?

Does being a mom mean wearing mom jeans?
Does being a mom mean wearing mom jeans?
I have been a mom by title for three years. It’s an ever-evolving state. Some days, I’m like, “Whoa, you go Super Mom!” Other days, it’s more like, “Wow, we just made it.”

But while the evolution of me being a mom is one thing that I will foreseeably bee working on for the rest of my life. The evolution of my outward, worldly, mom appearance is in definite need of some help.

So, we become a mom. Maybe we planned for it. Maybe we didn’t.

Either way, does this leap into the Momhood mean a leap into those Mom jeans?

Oh boy.

I would never have described myself as a fashionista. I’m not even a Maxxinista that you see on those commercials. I’ve always been a jeans and flannel shirt kind of gal. But, I have to say, I’ve lost my way in the world of clothing options.

I see other moms out there. You know, they are everywhere. Often I see the yoga pants-hoodie combo. Love it. I would live in that if I could. I see others who opt for the leggings tucked into riding boots look. And, still others, who go all-out-fashion on us and wow, they look amazing. But, even if I could afford it, is that me?

Who am I?

Am I Mom? Am I (hot) wife? Am I tomboy girl who would wear a feedsack if it were socially acceptable? Am I bohemian?
What’s my title? Hey, what’s your title? Maybe I can get in on that.

These days, I’m mostly Mom who just wants to make it out of the house without spit-up on my clothing. Also, if you are interested, I am also wearing flowy tops that don’t show too much cleavage. You know that toddler will just pull it down even farther in public at the absolute worst moment, like when you are talking to your boss’s wife at the grocery store. Just sayin’.

Those flowy tops also are great for covering up those pounds I haven’t lost from before I had kids … plus those pregnancy pounds … plus those pounds from the entire pack of Club crackers that I ate at 10 p.m. after my second beer as I’m falling asleep on the couch watching “The Mysteries of Laura” on DVR.

Just sayin’. So, what are you wearing?

Things I love

That’s It bars

That's It - so delicious, so simple.
That’s It – so delicious, so simple.

These delicious and simple bars are made with just fruit. So the apple + mango, which my son loves, is just apple and mango. That’s it!

Honest Company products

The Honest Company
The Honest Company

The Honest Company, founded by actress Jessica Alba, sells products that are environmentally sensitive and non-toxic. They offer bundle deals for diapers and home care products. Our order comes once a month with six packs of diapers – with cute designs – and four packs of wipes. We often get the home essentials bundle as well and this comes with five or more products of your choosing. I love the bath and body wash for kids. We also use the dish soap, laudry detergent, and multi-purpose cleaner. You can be happy knowing these products are safe for your family, your pets, and your home. It’s a great service.

The increased availability of organic fruit and vegetable squeeze pouches

Organic fruit and veggie pouches
Organic fruit and veggie pouches

Have you noticed the huge amount of new fruit and vegetable pounches at the grocery store? They are everywhere and I love it! We started giving these to Droolface when he was about 2 years old. At the time, you could only find them in the baby aisle, and not every store carried them. Now I see them outside the baby aisle, in the canned fruit aisle, and yesterday, in the produce section. I am so glad these are gaining in popularity. It is so great to be able to give your kids organic fruit and vegetables in an easy-to-use and somewhat less-messy package when out of the house. Often, if I know Droolface is going to be having an unhealthy meal – French fries for example – I will make sure to give him one of these pouches first. We call them squishies in my house, but call them whatever you like, it is a fun and easy way to get those veggies into your kids!

What do you ban in your home?

The topic of banning certain television shows came up today and I wondered what shows people might ban.

Do you ban television in your home?

When Droolface was a young toddler, one of the first television program we introduced him to was the Gigglebellies. We had a DVD of several of the songs, which, if you aren’t familiar with them, are very bright and vibrant and sing-songy. Shortly after he started watching them, he would have severe meltdowns – full-on toddler tantrums – when the program was over. We had to ban it to save bedtime.

We’ve gradually allowed more television into his day and it has been OK. I hesitate to say it is working because he still has severe tantrums sometimes. He is currently in love with Super Why on PBS. This show may be the next to be banned because he has lost it several times when we have had to stop watching.

We recently had to ban movies in general because every time he watched a movie he peed in his chair. Something about men and television being all-consuming … but I digress.

Television is great for brining in parts of the outside world into our home. It is a great way to find new ideas, for example, but in other ways it also brings in behavior problems. For example, children who never previously told a parent to stop talking, suddenly find that language because of a television show. Kids emulate the shows they see and it’s not always a great thing.

They can also become seriously attached to the show or the characters in the show, making it nearly impossible to get them to enjoy other activities, like, I don’t know, fresh air or going to the bathroom!

So I want to hear from you – have you banned any television shows or programs?

This. Today.

I need to write this today. I need to get it out. Maybe by writing it, I can get it out of my head where it has been squatting for a few days now, even though I served it eviction notices.

The path we choose

Sometimes, we make a decision. We decide to go down a path. We don’t know what the path will hold. We hope we made the decision, but we just may never know.

Other times, we know we are choosing the right path, but the universe may not reinforce it.

And still other times, we are pretty sure we chose the right path, and the universe totally reinforces it.

This is the third situation. When the universe waits some time after you chose the path, then slaps you in the face with an exact picture of what would have likely happened if you had not chosen that path.

It’s scary. It’s so scary that it has been bumping around my brain for days.

It’s on the news here. I saw what could have been my face on the news, splattered across news feeds on my friends’ social media pages, and across the pages of newspapers.

That face could have been mine. Thank God it wasn’t.

Thank God it wasn’t my children who are seeing their mom’s face in those pages and feeds. Thank God they are being exposed to the awful, hurtful, so terribly disturbing comments that are filling the pages under the news article. How horrifying. How vomit-inducing.

Oh, how that could have been me.

I totally empathize with the woman who is in the place that I might have been. I feel for her children. I cry for her family. I pray for all of them. She chose that path. I know she did. I had nothing to do with her choice. I made a different choice – hopefully a better choice. Right now, I am positive it was the better choice. But, maybe she didn’t have that choice.

Maybe that poor woman who everyone is degrading all over the news media right now didn’t luck out. She didn’t find the right path. Maybe she needs help. Maybe the reason she is splayed out for all the world to see is so that finally someone will help her. Please help her so that both she and her children can grow from this and find the right path.

It is so easy to hang someone out to dry – to tell them they deserve to be in jail. But we don’t know their story. We don’t know their struggle.

This woman was a friend of mine. I went one way. She went another.

Let’s suck it up.

Thumbs_down_smiley2Let’s suck it up.

Confession time: A month or so ago I was all gung-ho on the buying less, spending less, minimalist philosophy. Well I suck at it. I’m just putting it out there. We all suck at something. I suck at this. I suck at being organized about waiting to spend the money when we have the money. I suck about not just impulse buying something that I know my kid will love. I suck about avoiding those cute, fun things that are close to check-outs. I suck about putting things off because I love instant gratification.

What do you suck at?

Let’s talk about breastfeeding

Snuggling with my newborn Birdy.
Snuggling with my newborn Birdy.
Let’s talk about breastfeeding.

It is one of the most natural things in the world. The images we are flooded with as new moms are beautiful. A graceful and elegant mom in bed, draped by her infant and both looking happily into each other’s eyes.

It’s a beautiful thing.

I love breastfeeding. I love how it provides all the essential nutrients for my child. I love the bonding. I love the snuggles. I love that it is free.

With my first, Droolface, I did not have the beautiful experience. He had a hard time latching on. It was a constant struggle. He would only nurse in a certain position and of course it was the most uncomfortable position for me. I had a sore back for nearly a year. I breastfed Droolface for nearly seven months.

With Birdy, it was the beautiful experience that you see in all those advertisements. She latched on perfectly, ate well and was content. For about a week. By the end of her first month, she was not satisfied by what I could produce. She was a hungry girl. She was always on the breast. She lived there. She camped out. She would not budge.

It wasn’t so bad, until I had to go back to work.

Like many moms, I am a full-time worker bee.

So out came the pump. I pumped over lunch and tried to get another break in there somewhere to pump. I pumped in closets, bathrooms, cold computer rooms and in a co-worker’s office. I was walked in on, disturbed and annoyed.

Like many workplaces, mine does not have a designated pumping area. And, I don’t have a door on my workstation. Or walls.
We started supplementing. I kept pumping. And pumping.

And then one night while I was in tears because all I did when I got home was breastfeed or pump, I made a decision. I would have to cut back. I couldn’t keep up. It was for my own wellbeing. But it wasn’t just for my sanity and wellbeing. It was for my kids also.

Who wants a mom who is constantly attached to a machine and constantly at her wit’s end that she won’t be able to provide vital nutrients for her babies?

Who wants a mom who is frenetically looking for an outlet to plug in so she can pump?

While I am a huge breastfeeding supporter, I also chose to stop breastfeeding my daughter at 3 months. It was the best decision for me and for my family.

Now, I am a much happier mommy. I am also there for them. I come home from work and can play with them and snuggle and go outside and dig for worms.
I don’t need to be attached to anything … except to them. And, it is really better that way.
Moms have all kinds of hard choices to make – but we should make these choices based on what is best for ourselves and our children.

What do you think?

The Great Deodorant Challenge

It’s time to put the money where the mouth is – my mouth in this case. I call myself an environmentalist and am constantly reducing the toxins in our home, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the best tool a non-toxic mommy can have – the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

This list includes many, many products that are common in our homes – shampoo, makeup, deodorant, paper products, soap, baby wipes, and much more. It gives each product a rating based on its toxicity and its effect on the human body and the environment. You want products that come back with a green rating, which is 0-2; 3-7 is a moderate risk for toxicity; 8 and higher is high risk (i.e. products you want to avoid).

I highly recommend going to Skin Deep and looking up the products you currently use to learn about the risks. Then, search around for similar products with better ratings.

I understand that these less toxic products may not be household names; they may even be hard to find at your regular store. But, trust me, your family and the environment will thank you in the long run because you will be protecting your health and the natural world around us. In addition, online shopping can be just as easy as running to the store – you can save a lot of money by using Amazon Prime and either signing up for Pantry boxes or for Subscribe and Save. And, two-day shipping makes it nearly as fast as just running to the store.

As a side note, did you know they are finding ingredients from our everyday bath products in fish and animals? See – link here and here.

Back to the topic at hand: Finding a better deodorant.

My husband has used Speed Stick for years – find out what the EWG thinks about it here

It has a high toxicity rating and according to EWG an increased risk for bioaccumulation, which means it can build up in your body.

So we tried about eight low-toxin deodorants. Here is what we thought.

Overall, the non-toxic deodorants tend to be liquid or roll-on. I am used to a powder-based deodorant so I wasn’t in love with the wet feeling of the roll-ons. My husband is used to a gel deodorant, so he didn’t mind the wet feeling. I felt like I had to keep my arms raised until it dried, which can be hard when you are wrangling a 3-year-old into his school clothes. We both tried all of the kinds and have some thoughts.

My husband’s favorites were the Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Sport Roll-On and the Kiss My Face Green Tea Cucumber Gel stick. Both had light scents so he didn’t smell too much like a cucumber and both worked well to keep him smelling good all day.

Neither of us liked the Miessence Tahitian Roll-On. He didn’t like the vanilla smell (neither did I) and I didn’t feel like it worked all day. We were both indifferent to the Crystal Essence Lavender Roll-On. It smelled OK and worked OK, but wasn’t great.

I absolutely did not like the Ava Anderson Deodorant. The main ingredient is a form of cocoa and I thought it just smelled awful. It was also hard to apply because it was pasty and didn’t rub on well.

My favorite and the one I will continue using is the Ban Unscented Antiperspirant. It kept me dry all day. It is powder-based, so it was more similar to what I was used to, and I liked that it was unscented.

In the end, I would recommend trying some non-toxic brands to see which you prefer. The EWG Skin Deep database has plenty of recommendations and most can be purchased via Amazon at reasonable costs.

Here are our overall ratings:

deo challenge

Enjoying summer’s bounty

I don’t know about you, but our garden is producing vegetables by the truckload. I am now overcome with zucchini, squash, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. It can be hard to use every single vegetable, but it is my personal challenge to make this happen!

This weekend, I made two loaves of zucchini-peach bread, which used up one zucchini and two peaches I had kicking around. We also had tomato and cucumber sandwiches for lunch and pasta Parmesan with zucchini and tomatoes for dinner. For Sunday lunch, I made a Mexican lasagna ahead so it just needed to be baked and topped with tomatoes. Dinner included a Baked Zucchini Gratin and Quick Pickled Cucumbers.

Enjoying the summer’s bounty is also a great opportunity to add meat-free meals to your cooking repertoire. Here are some of the recipes I made this weekend:

This quick Mexican Lasagna was delicious and filling!
This quick Mexican Lasagna was delicious and filling!
Quick Mexican Lasagna

You Will Need:

Large Pie Dish
6 tortillas (I used flour, but corn or gluten-free would also work)
Refried beans
Whole beans (black, pinto or cannellini all work well – 1 can)
Can of Mexicorn
Can of Diced Tomatoes with chiles
Shredded Cheese (taco cheese, cheddar or monterey jack is fine)
1/2 cup cream cheese (I used leftover whipped cream cheese, but any kind should be fine)

Instruction:
1. Drain beans, corn and most of the liquid from the diced tomatoes with chiles.
2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients except tortillas and cheese. Make sure it is well incorporated.
3. Put 1/3 of the bean mixture in the bottom of the pie plate.
4. Top with three tortillas to cover as much as possible.
5. Layer in half of the remaining bean mixture.
6. Top with three more tortillas to cover bean mixture.
7. Add remaining bean mixture and top with shredded cheese.

At this point, you can refrigerate the Mexican lasagna until you are ready to use it. When you are ready, pop it into a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and lasagna is heated through. Top with homegrown tomatoes and anything else you might like such as black olives or sour cream. Enjoy!

Baked Zucchini Gratin

Zucchini is abundant in the summer; try some new recipes to enjoy it!
Zucchini is abundant in the summer; try some new recipes to enjoy it!

The world is full of new zucchini recipes, especially during the summer. I whipped this up for our Sunday dinner and it was delicious!

You Will Need:

Baking dish (mine was 9.5 x 11, but any size should work)
1-2 zucchinis depending on size
Half stick butter (could also use olive or coconut oil)
Melting cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Instructions:
1. Slice the zucchini thinly. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In large skillet, melt butter and add sliced zucchini. Toss to coat with butter, add salt and pepper. Cook about 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour zucchini into baking dish.
4. Top with shredded Parmesan and shredded melting cheese.
5. Top with shaking of bread crumbs.
6. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until it is bubbling and browned on top.

Serve warm and enjoy!

What are your favorite summer vegetable recipes?

Real Life. Real Food. Real Fun.