Transitioning Toddlers to Sharing a Room

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Living in San Francisco, space is definitely a hard commodity to come by. Our first apartment was maybe 900 square feet, but it was charming, and by far my favorite space that Michael and I have shared together. We were newlyweds in this apartment, sharing wine on the city view rooftop that Michael decorated with white twinkle lights. Many of my favorite pre-parenthood memories were in this home, enjoying food, wine, and conversation with family and friends. This apartment was home to our first-born, and was the only place that I’ve ever cried about when we left. Once we became pregnant with baby #2 we knew that we couldn’t possibly have both children sleeping in the dinning room/converted nursery. That being said, I’m not kidding when I say that it crossed my mind to have both kids sleep in the converted dinning room. Clearly, I was hormonal and pregnant because it was time to leave this fabulous place.

Fast forward to now, and we live in a much larger three bedroom space that I’m grateful for. When Jack was born, he slept in our room the first two months. Our initial plan was to have our kids share a room, but Jack was a light sleeper, and we had moved to a noisier part of San Francisco. We decided it would be better to have him sleep downstairs in the guest room where it would be quieter. At some point, we would move him upstairs into Audrey’s room. Well..we finally made the move! Holy heck am I CRAZY to do this now? It was always colder downstairs, and we wanted to free up our guest room, since it’s used so frequently, so I was ready for the challenge.

At first, the kids were jumping up and down and loving the interaction. Jack was pumped to have a buddy to talk with, and he wanted to keep the party going, but Audrey was ready to sleep. I swear this is a precursor for their teenage years, because Audrey is disciplined and wants her sleep, and Jack is ready to rage at all times..grrrrrreat! Anyhow, Audrey brilliantly decided to sing Jack a lullaby, it went something like this..

“Jack, go to bed, you’re hurting my ears, nighty night…nighty night. Jack, go to bed, Mom and Dad want to watch a show, and you’re hurting my ears…nighty night…nighty night. Jack shhhh..Jack shhh..Mickey can’t sleep!”

Mike and I were watching everything on the video cam and having ourselves a crack up over these shenanigans. After a bit, Jack would finally lay down, but Audrey decided she was very proud of her new song, and would start singing all over again which prompted Jack to pop back up. Jack was also proud that he could turn the light switch on and off (which I didn’t realize he was doing for a bit). So the circus cycle of up and down began. Once they finally fell asleep, it was good for about 3 hours, but that was short-lived! Jack woke every 2-3 hours yelling. As any mother, my ears are trained to hear a pin drop, so as soon as I heard screaming, I was sprinting down our hallway desperately trying to avoid running into the wall because I couldn’t see anything. Apparently, turning on the light wasn’t something that crossed my mind in the middle of the night. Obviously, Jack couldn’t tell me why he woke up yelling, but I’m assuming that it’s because he didn’t know where he was, and that he was exposed to more street noise being upstairs. What I feared the most was having him wake Audrey, which would’ve meant I’d be in a room with two screaming and exhausted toddlers in the middle of the night..which means I would have wanted to jump out the window or hide in the closet cursing at myself for thinking this was a good idea!

Luckily, Audrey can sleep through a freight train, and never woke to his screaming. Phew, crisis averted! After being up and down with Jack the first night, I reminded myself, over a strong cup of coffee, that “giving in” was not an option. Thankfully, I stuck it out, because we are one week into the transition and its going great. It took a few nights, but it’s paying off now. Toddlers sharing a room has it’s pros and cons, so it’s not for everyone, especially if you don’t need to. That being said, many situations require kids to share rooms so I say embrace it, and prepare yourself for the transition and a few sleepless nights (as if that’s not already happening for any mom with young kids).

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Pros

  • The kids are on the same bedtime routine now.
  • They love going to bed together, and often talk for a minute or two, which is sweet to watch on the video cam. Similarly, they love getting in each other’s bed in the morning and being silly (like pic above).
  • Audrey now sees her room as more of a “shared space”, which is good for her since we are still battling “sharing” at our house.
  • Most importantly, I think it’s a good way to capitalize on strengthening the bond between siblings. They are a TEAM now!

Cons

  • Because they are now a TEAM, it’s double the trouble when they decide to fight bedtime.
  • Be prepared for different wake up times. Jack has always been an early riser and has no “wake up” period. From the moment he opens his eyes he is already at level 10 craziness, so I have to rush getting him.
  • If a child is sick, then the other child hears the coughing or moving around.
  • As they get older it’s probably better for them to have separate spaces (especially siblings of opposite sex).

Tips for Transitioning Toddlers

  • Use a noise machine if you aren’t already, it cancels out so much
  • Transition when they are almost on the same sleep schedule. If not on the same sleep schedule then put the youngest down first, and explain to the older child that he/she gets to stay up a little later, but must be very quiet when going to bed. You can use a reward system here if needed.
  • If they are playing and talking past bedtime, let it go. So, they may be up 30 minutes past their bedtime, it’s fine. You don’t want to create the habit of needing to go in and quiet them down. They need to learn this on their own. By the end of the week the novelty wore off for our kids, and they only jumped around for 5 minutes.
  • Just as sleep training if you find that after several nights it’s just not working, give it a break, and try again in a month or two. Unless, they have to be in the same room, then I’d put one child down first, and quietly slip the other in later.

If this is going to happen in your world soon, good luck! I promise transitioning toddlers to sharing a room isn’t all that bad and the rewards are far greater. So far…

4th of July Jello Cake

Happy 4th of July! If you are looking for a fun and festive dessert for Independence Day then look no further. I promise this recipe is easy and will please everyone from Grandma to your 1-year-old. Grab your boxed cake, yep.. this is not from scratch, and whip up your 4th of July Jello Cake now and enjoy tonight!

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Ingredients Needed:

Betty Crocker White Cake Mix (or any brand you prefer)

1/3 cup Canola Oil

3 egg whites

1 1/4 cups water

6oz Cherry Jello Mix (raspberry or strawberry would work too)

2 cups boiling water

Cool Whip

Strawberries

Blueberries

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Step 1. Make your cake following box instructions.

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Don’t forget to separate your egg whites.

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Bake cake.

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Step 2. Poke Cake

Allow cake to completely cool after baking. Using a utility fork, pierce cake all the way through. Do this to the entire cake making marks about 1/2 inch a part.

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Step 3 – Mix jello packet

Using a glass measuring cup, boil 2 cups of water for 4 minutes in microwave. Remove from microwave and dissolve entire jello packet in hot water.

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Step 4 – Ladle mixture

Starting from one side of the cake ladle small amounts of jello mixture into the holes you made throughout the cake. Even though it seems like a lot, be sure to use all 2 cups of mixture. You will ladle over the entire cake twice ensuring all of the holes are well saturated.

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Once you are finished spooning the jello mixture, it will look like the above. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

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Step 4 – Make your American Flag.

This is the fun part for the kids. Layer your toppings. Cover the cake with cool whip (use the entire tub). Second, using about 1/2 cup of blueberries make a small rectangle in the upper left corner of your cake, this will represent your stars on the flag. Finally, thinly slice your strawberries and layer closely in rows, making your stripes. Audrey loved the final product and it was a good opportunity to talk about what our flag represents.

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Extra Note – When you slice the cake it is marbled on the inside. The great thing about this cake, is that you can use it for all sorts of holidays. Use lime jello, and make it for Saint Patty’s Day or keep it red for Valentine’s Day. Possibilities are endless, so have fun with it! Wishing you all a wonderful 4th of July, full of food, fireworks, and family fun!

Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Summer Esentials
Summer days will soon be here, which makes me excited for trendy rompers, sexy sandals, and glamorous hats! Before every season, I take a peek at my wardrobe and think about the key pieces I’d like to add, but they must be mom-functional. I’m often running from preschool, to a meeting, and then to the park. I like items that can mix and match and be dressed up or down. My wardrobe is lacking in rompers and an everyday sundress like the versatile denim option above. I love the look of mixing patterns, and this leopard print clutch goes with everything, day or night! Neon colors are on trend, and I’m a child of the 90’s… but I just can’t rock an entire neon outfit. I’ll leave that to my teenage years, but I love being on point with some bright sandals. The crisp white jacket is always a must in San Francisco, and can be worn over just about anything. I put together a collection of items that will spruce up my summer attire. What are your summer wardrobe essentials? Happy shopping!
  1. Boho wide brim hat (Similar here)
  2. Ethnic print romper (Likely have to search vintage for something close to this, but I’m obsessed with this look )
  3. J.Crew gold tassel necklace
  4. White fitted jacket (Similar here)
  5. Chunky gold chain link necklace
  6. Bright colored strappy sandals (Similar here) (Cute flat version here)
  7. Floral romper (Similar options here)
  8. Rebecca Minkoff leopard printed clutch
  9. H M denim dress

Mother’s Day Quotes

5_9_2014_Mother'sDayMother’s Day is upon us, so I reached out to my circle of mom’s and girlfriends for some funny quotes (some via Pinterest), tidbits, and life lessons about motherhood. Here is an abbreviated list that includes the sentimental first and then the hilarious. Thank you to my sarcastic and “don’t take life too serious” friends for the last couple quotes!

  • “What you put into life is what you get out of life”
  • “Be original, and don’t follow the pack”
  • “If you can’t change it, don’t worry about it”
  • “Look for the good in everything”
  • “Enjoy the simple things in life”
  • “Keep your girlfriends close, men come and go”
  • “I don’t “need” a glass of wine everyday, but my kids “need” me to have it!”
  • “There is no point in cleaning your house, until your kids leave for college”
  • “I wish someone told me to enjoy my perky assets because after children they will deflate, shrink, and sink!”
  • “Behind every great kid, is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up – YOU’RE NOT!”
  • “I used to have functioning brain cells, but I turned them in for children”
  • “Please pass me the parenting handbook, I need to smack my kid with it!”
  • “I must need an interpreter because when I say “Hurry, put your shoes on and get in the car” my kids hear “it’s a good time to poop”
  • “Once you become a mother, say adios to bathroom breaks alone”
  • “Crap! I just said something my mother would have said”
  • “I love cleaning up messes I didn’t make…so I became a mom”
  • “Gonna play a new game with the kids tonight, it’s called “Duct, Duct, Tape…”
  • “Mommy has a headache. You kids go play in traffic”

Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing ladies. And to my mom, who graces the picture for this post, I love you! You’re amazing, and will you come visit soon so that I can sleep in? As you always told me “No one will ever take care of you, like your mother.” This might be my favorite quote, and as I’ve learned… is so true.

Let it Go

Let_It_Go_DressesKeeping with the ever popular song from the hit flick Frozen, I’m currently learning to “Let it Go”. I wish I was as cool as Elsa learning to release my superpowers into the universe, but I’m just a mom learning to “pick my battles” with my almost 4 year old. As a parent, it’s only normal to face struggles with any toddler learning to assert themselves. Let me just quickly say…this is a longer post than normal for me, so don’t worry they won’t usually be this lengthy! Anyhow, to prepare, I read numerous blogs and books on how to set boundaries and discipline so that my child can thrive and I can be the best parent possible. I also make sure the wine is stocked. I wish learning to deal with a strong-willed toddler was as easy as following instructions from a book, but the truth of the matter is, it’s individual to each child, and parents have to figure out the best solutions for their child. I’m not a family therapist, but I believe in sharing experiences and helping others learn from my battles, mistakes, and successes. Personally, I have learned more about parenting from listening to my network of parents and their experiences than any book I’ve read. So, let me set the stage for what I’m learning to “Let Go”. My sweet little girl has never really been into girly things. She loves legos, balls, sports, the colors green and blue, and she could care less about dolls or ANYTHING pink (with the exception of the Pinkalicious books). She prefers to make capes and superhero masks, and plays in a pretend rocket ship or firehouse. Playing dress up involves Ironman, Batman, and Spiderman, and not Cinderella, Belle, or Ariel. Her favorite movies are Cars, Toy Story, and Frozen. I don’t believe in any sort of gender specific toys, activities, colors, etc, but I love that she breaks some of “societies” gender rules. Audrey comes from a long list of tomboys; myself, my mother, my mother-in-law, and my sister, so this really is no surprise. I love everything about her interests, but I wanted to share these things so you could understand my story.

A few months back Audrey decided to start picking out her clothes before school. This is completely normal for her age, but I definitely liked it when little miss could care less what clothes I picked out each day. It was like playing dress up. Mommies, you know what I’m talking about! Anyhow, Mike and I were already learning to pick our battles with our spirited toddler, but I was not ready to relinquish control of the closet. Every morning, I anticipated a struggle getting dressed, and we would go through so many options to find something suitable to her liking. After a while, I started putting my foot down, because I am the parent, right! We talked about how she could pick a few days a week, and I would pick the other days. This worked for a few weeks, but slowly the battle became worse. Audrey started weaning out dresses, skirts, anything that wasn’t green or superhero related. One dreadful morning, we had a huge meltdown because I picked out a white shirt, yellow skirt patterned with birds, and leggings…Audrey lost it. She started yelling and screaming in my face, “I don’t like dresses!”. This behavior was unacceptable, so I put her on a time out. At this point, I swore my child was part bull. She sat arms crossed, stern-faced in her timeout for what felt like eternity, then it progressed to kicking and screaming, then to a full-blown hyperventilating sob fest. This kid was showing epic tantrum skills, and meanwhile I was breaking down inside. I had dealt with tantrums successfully, but in all honesty was feeling pretty inadequate this particular day! I yelled a lot that morning, which does nothing but make you feel shitty. I believed I needed to follow though with making sure she understood the rules, which meant she had to put on what I choose for her that day. I believed I needed to stay consistent, because I would only be teaching her she gets her way, if I gave in to her tantrum. Audrey was sobbing, red-faced, but finally gave in and put her clothes on. I had won, right?!

We were 30 minutes late to school that morning. On the drive, everyone was silent, even my 16 month old son who is normally mimicking fire trucks the entire car ride. Out of the blue, Audrey said in the most honest and vulnerable voice possible “I love you Mom”. She knew I was upset and frustrated, and she wanted to please me. I walked her up to the classroom and she ran to play, not turning back to say goodbye or give me a hug and a kiss like she normally does. Ughhhh the daggers that pierced my heart when she ran off. It was awful, I walked away, and started sobbing myself. What the hell!! You are probably thinking it’s just clothes, let her pick it out. But, I was trying to stick to my guns. I then realized this was bigger than teaching my child to follow instructions. Her wardrobe symbolized the one girly thing left from her infant years, and I was holding on tight. I finally admitted this was about ME, and my issue to “Let Go”. As proud of my little tomboy that I was, part of having a little girl was being able to put her in precious dresses. While I was pregnant, I remember dreaming of sweet pigtails and bow adorned hair. I needed to wake up! My little girl was growing up, and making decisions is part of learning independence. Who cares if she chooses to wear her boots with soccer shorts and a superhero cape. How can I stifle her creativity, self-expression, and independence because of my own selfishness. From that moment on, I committed to letting her pick out what she wanted (with the exception of special events). Once I let go, I realized that I was truly missing out on enjoying such a fun toddler experience. I often crack up at these crazy combos she comes up with, and now I look forward to the morning dress time. It’s true that when I see a little girl dressed up as Cinderella in a tiara, or a darling dress hanging in some retail store, I have that ahhhh-so-sweet moment, but it quickly passes. Audrey still let’s me do her hair in pigtails. More recently she loves makeup and jewelry, so we indulge in that together, when we aren’t building a rocket ship or fighting crime, which is equally as fun. But, if that should change soon, it’s 100% fine. Each family has their own toddler battles, and it’s our job to teach right from wrong when it comes to behavior, but if you find yourself in a similar situation as the one I shared, take a moment to look within yourself. Sometimes these battles aren’t about our children. We have to learn to “Let Go” of our own expectations for our children and help them become strong confident individuals, like my little astronaut below.

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While I felt my situation was a little different, I do know getting dressed for toddlers in general can be a nightmare for many parents. My tips for a toddler who struggles to get dressed in the morning.

  1. Take them shopping so they can pick out the items. This gives them ownership, and they are proud of their choices, and more likely to dress themselves.
  2. Embrace the creativity, it really is awesome and will change soon enough.
  3. If they wear the same thing everyday, then you are saving $$$ on clothes. FANTASTIC!
  4. On holiday’s or special occasions remind them a day or two before the event that the agreement is to dress “nice”.
  5. If the agreement doesn’t work, then result to bribing. No judgements here 😉