Good stuff

It was a wonderful week – my parents came for a quick visit, which was really awesome. I’m a bit busy at the moment so it was fantastic to have my mom and dad to hang with the tot while I got stuff done. I wish they were just a short drive away, but they aren’t, so we enjoy every possible minute of our visits. One of my favorite parts of this visit was heading to a local park for a good ol’ bird feeding session. While watching my tot hurtle handfuls of breadcrumbs at the birds, I couldn’t help laugh at her enthusiasm. She had named all the birdies before we left to go play in the park.

Tossing stale bread at the birds is also a great way to encourage gross motor skills! Your child coordinates big movements of the body with the brain, getting that bread to land in just the right spot in front of just the right bird. Looking for other fun ways to hone gross motor skills with your tyke? Check out this awesome post I put together over at LilSugar!



Happy Sunday!

Star binoculars

I don’t know about you but I always have a ton of those toilet paper rolls hanging around. I can’t seem to throw them out so find different things to use them for. From stamping to making binoculars, we seem to find a way to reuse them. The other day my tot made a comment about how she never gets to stay up late and look at the stars (I have NO idea where it came from) and figured we should do something so she could see those stars.

Nighttime binoculars.

This is a really simple project and so fun for tots. The instant change from light to dark makes imaginary play tons of fun and turns any kid into an adventurer. All you need are a couple of things and tons imagination.

Gather two toilet paper tubes and place on a sheet of scrap paper. Squeeze some blue or black paint on the paper and offer your tot a brush to coat the outsides. We spent lots of time mixing the colors together and making swirls in the paint.

After the tubes are dry, trace around an end of a tube – just a bit bigger than the circle – onto the black paper, and then cut out two rounds. Do the same with some yellow tissue paper. If you’ve got a tot that is handy with a scissors, she can have a great time with this step!

Now carefully poke a few holes in the black rounds using a toothpick. This is best left to adults with a bit more precision. The holes will let the light in to create the stars!

To finish the star binoculars layer together the yellow tissue paper with the black paper facing out and tape to the end of the toilet paper tubes using black electric tape. This takes a bit of patience, so either give your tot a helping hand, or use small sections of the tape to make sure both the yellow tissue and black paper are secure.

Tie together the tubes and then add a length of string for a strap and your tot can enjoy looking through the starry night binoculars!


Sunny crafts perfect for summer!

It’s been a crazy couple of days over here, but I can’t complain. The sun is shining, the tot makes mud daily, and I’ve been enjoying it all. Summer is a time for soaking up the sun, and these awesome crafts that I put together for totally deliver. From making sundials to sun prints, click on over for the full slideshow — and their fresh, new website design!

Happy Summer!

Me time.

DoveWhen you have a toddler, you don’t get much down time. Heck, when you have kids you don’t get much down time (except when you’re sleeping). Things you used to take for granted like showering, grocery shopping, using an ATM, putting gas in the car, become a battle. Sometimes finding a moment of “me-time” is almost impossible.

Along with lacking some pretty serious alone time, I’m first to admit that I’m still rocking some natty clothes and my skin isn’t glowing at all. The few-and-far between quiet moments I do happen to miraculously get are filled with doing those things that are challenging with my toddler (like going to the bank, the grocery store she doesn’t like (but I do), and showering!).

Showering is one of those things that’s hit and miss. Either it works – and when it does it’s awesome – or it goes horridly wrong. For me to grab a quick shower, the tot’s favorite show has to be on, she needs some sort of food item to enjoy, the bathroom door has to be left open – as well as the shower curtain. Yeah, not really relaxing or successful. Sometimes I don’t even get to wash the shampoo out of my hair before some sort of drama unfolds (mainly toddler needing to poop, which seems to happen every time I am in the midst of shaving my legs or lathering that shampoo).

Okay, okay, here’s the deal. I had the chance to take one of the new premium body washes from Dove for a spin this last week. This meant I needed to blissfully shower for a week (YES, every day) to see if the stuff really works. I enlisted the husband to be on toddler watch for 10-minutes before heading to work so I could jump in and lather up without distraction – and it was THE BEST.

This body wash contains the greatest concentration of NutriumMoisture technology in Dove’s collection, and with three kinds, you can’t go wrong. I found that the Softening Body Wash totally delivers on its touts of being able to deliver softer skin with less dry spots in just a week. Just after one use, my husband noted how I looked nice. Summer means swimsuits and I need all the help I can get.

I’ll be honest, the body wash’s scent isn’t heavenly. It’s not like this stuff smells bad, but it’s definitely not blissful. With an almost generic lotion kind of smell, I found a spritz of lavender oil to help compliment my newly soft skin. Even my feet were nice and soft, ready to enjoy playing in the mud with the tot!

Head on over to the Dove website for more information and to enter for your chance to win free product and a $500 spa experience – or simply follow the directions listed below!

*Yes, I was provided with a sample of Softening Body Wash as well as compensated for this review but the opinions are all mine.

Visit Dove® VisibleCare® to get a coupon for $1 off!

Enter to win one of two $500 Spafinder gift certificates!



You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Follow this link, and provide your email address and your response to the Promotion prompt

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that Tweet.

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age
18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/18/2012 – 8/22/2012

Be sure to visit the Dove® VisibleCare™ Crème Body Wash brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Toddler drama

I’m no expert – just a mom. And I’m a toddler mom, so I guess I am an expert in some way or another. However, right now while I write this, my toddler is throwing a seriously epic tantrum. It’s putting a big halt to my afternoon plans, which included going for a jog, maybe some ice cream, reading a book while she played happily in the mud and so forth. My husband, as awesome as he is, can’t tolerate the toddler drama. His blood temperature rises (and sometimes his voice), so I usually shoo him outside or away when the tantrums unfold.


We were just about to walk into the store when it started. She didn’t want to sit in the cart – she wanted to walk all on her own. Because we were planning on doing a bit more shopping than toddler strolling allowed, we insisted she sit in the cart.


And things escalated from there.

Instead of trying to reason with her (really, I actually did so I’m kind of lying right now – there was total bribery involved but it didn’t work), I sent the husband inside to pick up the items we needed right now and took the screaming tot to the car.

Pummeling fists, kicking legs, and screaming ensued.

I shoved her into the car seat, locked her up tight, rolled down the windows, and hung-out around the car checking my Instagram feed while she SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS.

Sure, lots of people stared me down. I just smiled back.

Toddlers have drama, there’s just no way around it, and sometimes it’s best to just let things go.

I’m not going to hug and kiss her and offer her this or that to get her to stop. I’m not going to give in when she’s the one that needs to do the right thing.

I’m just as stubborn – if not more – than she is.

But there are a few things you can do when your tot has a breakdown:

Take a deep breath! This sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to do when your toddler is screaming her head off, but just do it. After you get some air into your lungs, calmly tell your child what is going to happen – and stick to it. I told my tot that if she didn’t sit in the cart we would go to the car. She didn’t sit in the shopping cart so we went to the car.

Don’t bribe. Yeah, so I can’t really say I didn’t try, but when your child is already in the middle of a tantrum, most times she is so worked up even offering that bribe isn’t going to register. Older toddlers are starting to figure out that this type of behavior often results in receiving what they want, which isn’t great for us adults.

Try a distraction. If your child isn’t in the middle of throwing herself to the floor (which means she’s at the beginning stages of a total tantrum), offer a distraction. Sing a song, point out something amazing (LOOOOOK a dog!), or tickle her. This often works for us, but today things had already hit the uber tantrum level.

 Act like nothing is happening. Take it from me, removing yourself from the situation, while still being close enough if your child starts being a danger to herself, is a great way to de-stress the situation. After the husband got in the car with our essentials, we acted as if we didn’t have a crazed toddler in the back seat and, as soon as we arrived home, I deposited in her room and picked up my laptop. I’ve been typing away for about 20-minutes now and she’s starting to calm down.

Talk about it later. Whenever we have a breakdown like this I always make sure to talk about it later. I offer her the words she might need to tell me about why she got so upset. I also make sure to share how I felt frustrated with the situation and discuss how we can make things better next time. It’s important to give big hugs and kisses once things have calmed down to let your child understand you still think she is super special even though things weren’t so fun for a little bit.

What works at with your tot when it’s toddler drama time? DO SHARE!

I’m off to chat with my little creature so we can hopefully still have that ice cream….



New duds


I’ll tell you this much – things haven’t been boring around here. First off, I applied for a job on a whim (really, the husband made me do it), and then they amazingly asked me for an interview (even though I knew it might not be right), but then was offered a different position to assist during a staff member’s maternity leave  – and I could work from home.

I could’t say no.

I’m so excited to join the LilSugar team creating educational, fun, and inspirational content for moms-to-be, parents of tots like me, and those with older kids. Sure, I’ve freelanced in the past, but this is the first time that I’ve dedicated myself to one site – so help me out.

I might ask you for ideas. I might even invite you to share stories. This is an opportunity for us to work together and connect. Conversations, ideas, stuff that’s taboo…

You know you’re wondering about the Shades of Grey baby boom.

So, check out LilSugar and what’s happening. I’ll still try to keep you updated with awesome arts and crafts, as well as recipes for kids, during my couple of months with LilSugar.

Here’s my first post about these adorable wooden playhouses – I can’t afford any of them, but I can dream, right? Click on over to check it out!


Drakes Bay Oysters

For the last couple of days we’ve had guests. Friends of ours, from while we lived outside of Philadelphia, made a trek to the great state of California to visit with people from south to north. We’ve had a wonderful few days packed with sharing our favorite things – and Drakes Bay Oysters are at the top of the list. Tucked in West Marin, Drakes Bay Oysters is just off winding Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore and offers fresh, sustainably farmed oysters to take home or fresh shuck and enjoy at one of their many picnic tables. There’s been a bit of drama over the last year with concerns the spot could be  shut down due to its location on national park land. Anyone who’s ever had one of these delectable goodies fully understands how this cannot be allowed to happen…

No, the tot didn’t toss one back – but we did catch her sucking down some yummy oyster juice…

Bacon chocolate chip cookies

bacon chocolate chip cookies

You might think bacon doesn’t belong anywhere near chocolate chip cookies, but that is where you are wrong. I discovered a friend loves bacon – and that it was her birthday – and wanted to make something that celebrated both. After asking the all-mighty Twittershpere for assistance, I was directed to a recipe for chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with crisp bacon. So, yeah, I can’t take any sort of ownership over this idea, but I did put together my own recipe to showcase that wonderful bacon flavor mixed together with the sweet chocolate of the cookies.


And, with the Fourth of July just around the corner, I know you are all searching for patriotic desserts to take to picnics, parties, and gatherings. What’s more American than bacon and chocolate chip cookies? Not much. Sure, these cookies aren’t red, white, and blue, but they are seriously tasty.


1/2 cup room temperature butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 12 ounce bag chocolate chips

1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

Start by baking your bacon. That’s right – why make a big mess of your kitchen when your bacon can easily (and less messily) be prepared in your oven. Line a sheet pan with tinfoil, place five to six strips of bacon flat on the pan, and then pop into a hot 425 F oven. Flip after about 7 to 10-minutes.

Once your bacon is baked to your happiness, let rest on a few pieces of paper towel. Lower the temp of your oven to 375 F so it’s nice and ready for your cookies.

Blend together the butter, oil, sugars, and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla and whip until smooth.

Sprinkle in the baking soda and then gradually add the flour until the cookie dough comes together. Toss in the chocolate chips and get ready for making cookies!

Remove the bacon-fat laden sheet of tinfoil from your sheet pan and then spoon the cookie dough on the pan, leaving a bit of space between each cookie.

Now crumble the bacon and gently smoosh about a 1/4 teaspoon of bacon bits on the top of each cookie.

Pop the bacon chocolate chip cookies into the oven for 12 to 14-minutes. If you prefer a crisper cookie, let them hang out in the oven for 15 to 17-minutes.


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