Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baby Gear: Potty Training

With the addition of our new pet Lionel the Goldfish, I found myself floundering with the overnight commencement of potty training! What did I need? How would I motivate my son? What would I use to clean the poop stains off the floor that wasn't so toxic my 10 month would suffer? All of these questions would have been no big deal with my usual over planning, group research, and detailed preparation that I usually go through with big events like this. Luckily that tedious task was rendered inert with my mother's idea to bring home a goldfish to spur this phase along! Here are some items I found in my mad hunt for potty success.

Home Cleaning Products:
1. Shaklee: Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate and Nature Bright Stain Remover Both of these products are amazing! The Basic H2 concentrate is perfect for cleaning up messes on hardwood/tile floors and so much more. This non-toxic formula is powerful, streak-free, aroma-free (really!), and has won awards for excellence. Get the spray bottles they work well! Plus, this concentration lasts forever! So I can use it everywhere! The Nature Bright Stain Remover and Laundry Booster is another must have in your cleaning closet. It is also a concentrate so you can determine the strength and use, which I love as a multitasking mom! I have already used it on carpets and couches and it really does work at getting out stains! Plus, it is again non-toxic for our whole family including our infant! It's a great chlorine free alternative for tough "poop" stains in the wash too even though I use it more around the house.

2. Biokleen: Bac-Out Stain and Odor Remover I haven't used this product but I have heard great things about it! It is another non-toxic nature based product that destroys odors and stains for good. Plus, it says it's preferred by commercial carpet cleaners. Definitely worth a try! I am all for natural alternatives that are safe for our family and of course that work!

Training Pants, Underpants, and Overnights:

Traditional training pants were not as easy to find in your everyday stores as I had hoped and thought. I went to Target, Sears, JcPenny's, Macy's. They all had fashionable underpants but no extra thick training pants that absorb moisture for that beginning phase. So we ended up with some Sears TKS brand briefs (100%cotton) even though thy really only kept my sons' bum warm until he had to go. So after some mad research and visits to local specialty stores, I have finally found some products that will help all of us feel more comfortable and confident through this transition. I know some of these items can be pricey but after doing the math on the costs of diapers, there really is NO comparison. Check them out, do the math, and see what works for you and your family.

Trainers and/or Overnights:

Bright Bots Training Pants, Nikky Training Pants, Under the Nile Training Pants, Imse Vimse Training Pants, Daiperaps, Bumkins Overnighter Pants


Under the Nile Briefs, Itsy Briefs and Undies, Petit Bateau Undies, Sublime Undies,Little Beetle Organic Wool Underpants, Sears TKS Briefs

Overnight Liners and accessories:

Little Beetle hemp or organic velour doublers, Babykins Joey-Bunz Small Doubler, Babykins Receiving Blanket/wetpad, Organic Merino Wool Blanket, Babylegs

Kid Sized Potty Seats and such:

Munchkin potty seat, Baby Bjorn safe step, Baby Bjorn Potty Chair, Potty Bowl



Being a big fan of recycling/reusing, I always turn our paper grocery bags into long reward sheets. They make for great potty time reward sheets. At first it was going into the bathroom, then sitting on the potty, then trying to go, then actually going. It's a great way for the child to feel successful, track his progress, learn basic goal setting, patience, of course the importance of earning a reward. If you like this idea, keep your number of stickers to earn to a minimum - maybe 5, so they feel like the goal is attainable. Get lots of different stickers so even that is a reward. (Speaking of stickers- Tip: Stock up at our bank. Ours gives out free stickers with transactions. Usually they are big and colorful. They make for great distractions with meltdowns on the road too!)


Reading on the toilet seems natural to most of us. This apparently is also the case with kids. As my son LOVES to read magazines on his potty. It's a funny site seeing the two of us in the bathroom each with our magazines of choice. They are a great alternative to books. Our current fave National Geographic Kids for Jake and InStyle for mommy.

Prize Jar

Lately our large glass sangria jar has turned into our prize jar! It is full of edible and non edible treats like: Suckers, honey sticks, fruit leathers, matchstick cars, boxes of crayons, little containers of play dough, little animal figurines and even some miscellaneous wrapped gifts like boxes of animal crackers. The diversity helps me steer him away from candy everyday and keeps the motivation exciting. Plus, he gets excited when he walks by and sees what he is working for in the jar.


Lots of liquids, dried fruits, fresh fruits, oatmeal. The last thing you want in this transition is CONSTIPATION!! Do whatever you can to prevent this from happening. One bad experience could prolong the process a lot longer than you can tolerate. The more opportunities to succeed the better!

Wow! That was a ton of info. Hope I didn't scare you! This process shouldn't be super painful for you or your toddler. If it becomes so, maybe you should consider waiting a little while until you are both more ready for it. There are tons of philosophies on how and when one should go about this process. The web is a great resource for that info. Just remember it WILL happen. Every flower blooms when its ready! The best advice I got and will pass on to you, is make sure no matter what that YOU as the parent are ready for this process. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and compassion will make your toddler feel secure with this new responsibility and only you can offer that to her. Of course, if all else fails you can always buy a goldfish!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beauty Buzz: Best Mascara

Getting ready is a draining procedure in my world. I either have to wait till naps or face the chaos of two boys in the bathroom with me. Regardless, time always seems to be an issue! Being a beauty product junkie, I have tried a ton of products and only a few stand tall and true amongst the rest. Mascara always seems tricky. There are so many varieties. It's pretty much up there with lipstick. Traditional formula, gel formula, waterproof, skinny wand, fat wand, lengthening, curling. My God you could get lost in mascara land!!

With that said, here are my favorites!

Best Drugstore Mascara:
Rimmel Extra Super Lash Black-Black
It's affordable. Doesn't seem to clump too bad and never irritated my eyes. It's a great everyday mascara. For night opt for something with more volume.

Best Date Night Mascara:
This stuff is booming with volume! It really does take your lashes up a notch! Add eyeliner and you're definitely getting some!

Best Lengthening Mascara:
I know it's named High Volume but this stuff is like a great supporting bra. It lifts, separates, lengthens!!! It's made from the new gel formula so it wraps around your lashes instead of coating them so there is NO raccoon eyes ever!! Crying, working out, contacts... NOPE!!! This water resistant formulation rocks!! Plus, no makeup remover or excessive pulling on your delicate eye tissue to remove the mascara. You just need some water and a gentle touch. The mascara slides off the lashes like taking off a glove! PLUS... with this comes a tiny wand that gets into every little lash which makes the eye look more open, awake, and larger! This was my all time favorite for the last few years. Everyone whom I have recommended it to has loved it as well!!!

Best Waterproofing Mascara:
Of course you could opt for purchasing a separate waterproof mascara. But this formulation is meant to go on top of your existing mascara making it ready for any environment: swimming, bathing, steam room, and my favorite suggestion-for weddings. This means you get all the benefits from your normal mascara lengthening, volumizing etc... with the bonus of environmental proofing! Plus, it doubles as a brow groomer. This is a must have for anyone but even greater for contact wearers.

Winner Best Overall Mommy Mascara:
As I said before the Trish McEvoy High Volume mascara was my favorite for the past few years. Until the one day I got to the mall and they were out. In desperation I decided to opt for this Trish mascara. They only have two versions it couldn't be that different. OH was I wrong! They are so different. The Lash Curling mascara comes with a traditional brush so you get way more volume. PLUS...This one DOES curl your lashes! It's crazy to me! I am still in awe! This means in addition to all the perks of the High Volume mascara this one allows me to skip a step with my lash curler. Skipping a step is huge when you have kids! Huge! Especially, since I can never find my curler because my son thinks it belongs in his toolkit! I am happy to say it isn't needed with this mascara! Thank you Trish for giving moms like me this little gift of beauty and time! This is the WINNER hands down for best mommy mascara! What are you waiting for? Go, get some, try it, and enjoy! Your eyes will thank you!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lionel the Goldfish

As I was driving home from a short but much needed solo date, I gave in against better judgement to call home and see how things were fairing. I was pretty sure I knew how the dialogue would go. Just checking in really on moods and expectations, so I could better assess how to handle the rest of the evening.

Before I go any further, I would like to paint a clearer picture of myself. Being half Irish and half Palestinian, it was only natural that I would end up with a very optimistic, easy going, there's nothing we can't work out, KIND, generous, family man. Not to say that I have none of those same qualities, but he does balance me out!!! I wear the pants and he wears the smile!! We often joke about superpowers and he always says mine would be organizing. How boring. How true! But, it does come in handy with two VERY spirited, active, demanding little boy bundles of joy. Did I mention how protective I am? With the IRA and PLO possibly floating around in my bloodlines, it really seems pretty natural. I know I don't need to explain the maternal instinct to all of you... but my husband and parents don't seem to understand how strong that can be so I often have to remind them.

Back to the story....
I head home trying desperately to make it back before the boys go crazy from the weekend hiccup in their usual agenda and meal times so I can keep this shopping high going for the rest of the evening! That all came crashing down as I hear that my parents took Jake out for a drive. Mr. Easy Going proceeds to tell me he doesn't know where they went, how long they would be, what events might take place. He knows nothing and doesn't really seem to care. All he knows is that he was able to get some work done with our rambunctious two year old gone.

Now that may seem pretty normal to most people. But, my reaction was of utter distress! I got a giant lump in my gut, I broke out in hives, and found myself calling every girlfriend I could to validate my feelings! How could he be so okay with this? We haven't really given the big heave-ho to let people drive our kids around yet. Not to mention in the dark, at dinner time, and without any real destination in mind! This is something I thought we could build up to... maybe a trip out for lunch or to the park with Grandma. Now the guilt of feeling the way I do is overwhelming. I mean they are my parents. Yet, it seems I am not ready to hand over the reigns, the responsibility, the opportunity for any horrible disaster to take place with my boys! I can just see it now a new Lifetime movie...."The Accident that tore apart my Family" starring some backup actress from The Starter Wife.

After crying about these crazy feelings I wasn't prepared to explore, yelling at my husband for making such huge decisions on our behalf, texting my girlfriends for a sanity check, slamming a glass of port, and considering some tequila, I calmed myself down enough to embrace my son upon his return. I had no idea what I would say to my parents. Shortly after my second pour of port they arrived and in came Jake. He bounced in like a Kangaroo beaming with excitement and then I saw it. This beautiful orange goldfish stuffed in a plastic baggy looked more terrified than I did. It was like a mascot for my feelings reminding me with each gulp of air that nothing in life is predictable! Especially, since my mom said she got the fish to help motivate potty training. What? We are potty training now? I didn't remember having that dialogue!

As I look this new member of our family in the eye we make the mommy-new pet bond.... " I won't let you die. You keep him happy!" With that, I let go of all those separation anxiety feelings I was having and decided to save them for the next outing. I have too much more to worry about now! I guess we are starting potty training tomorrow. Not to mention dialogue about death should anything happen to this goldfish! Wow.... who knew a car ride could bring on so much!!!

Thank God for kids! In the midst of all the chaos, trust conversations, and obvious tension Jake had everyone in stitches over what to name this new pet of ours. "Should it be Charlie?" "Ummmm... No". "How about Mary?" " Umm... Nope". This went on for quite awhile. Then finally Jake decided on a name that suited his fish. "How about Lionel?" "Ummm.... Yeah. I like it. Lionel!" And with that he ran over to the fish swimming in the juice pitcher and said "Hi Lionel! I love you Lionel!" And that was pretty much deal done! Tomorrow we will worry about fish bowls and training pants. For now we will enjoy one of the rare beautiful moments of childhood bliss.

Welcome Home Lionel! Welcome Home!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Karma Bucks

I know we have all read those heartwarming but ridiculous articles calculating the dollar amount a full time and working mother would make if she were to receive a salary for her work at home. I know these lists are truly irrelevant to my life and still I bring them up jokingly in round circle discussions with other moms. Ha! If only! Ha! So Silly!

The worth of our roles is a continuous battlefield in our home. I can only assume it's a common ground for bickering in most families. Does it sound a little like this?

"I bring home the bacon so you can stay home."
"I stay home because my salary wouldn't pay for a full time nanny, house cleaner, personal chef, house manager, and mistress!"
"I help out on the weekends. Don't act like you are the only one who does anything around here!"
"Wow! Really? This is so ridiculous!"

Well....I could keep going. But, we all know how it ends. So cliche! Why we even allow ourselves to enter into these redundant discussions is beyond me!

And for the love of goats, here I am again. This time it's so stupid. Whose turn is it to change the uber stinky poopy diaper? Between two boys in diapers, I have really already changed about 8 diapers thus far today. Really this is a question? But lately Kai has entered into the "Greased PIG" phase of this game. He is way too strong, quick, agile, and determined than I could ever be to win easily. It is a well matched battle! I am boggled by why he hates being on his back so much. I would kill to have someone throw me down on the ground and take my pants off!

Thankfully, Eric gracefully decides to take this one and starts the process. The bell didn't even sound before Kai shot out of the gate with full speed. Squirming and squealing like we were branding the poor bastard. And just as quickly I am summoned to help out. Even with two people this is no easy task! Yes! We did it! No poop anywhere it shouldn't be! And as we both walk away exhausted like we just ran a marathon, Eric turns to me and says...

.."That's why you make the big bucks babe!"
I must have made a bewildered look, "Karma Bucks!" he shoots back.

And it dawned on me. Finally, a realistic take on the payment method for my chosen career. One that makes sense, feels right, and doesn't' make me roll my eyes at the comparison. Since this thought has entered my head, I feel a little bit lighter. Less weighed down by obligation. That's right damnit! Karma! Globs and globs of you-better-be-worth-it Karma! Eat your heart out Earl!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Conception 1.13.09

Welcome to the beginning of something I hope will be just awesome!

A place where moms stuck in a rut can come to refresh and refocus. A place where conquering the one dimensional life you created seems possible! A place where you learn, grow, laugh, cry, and relate to the ever evolving, always rewarding, deeply exhausting role that connects us all as mothers!

As a former school teacher turned esthetician, I feel obligated to teach, relay, and find any information to help you fulfill your ultimate potential and balance! This is my purpose. This is my therapy. Hey, I get it! I have two under two! Hopefully, together we can get a little closer to our ideals of perfection because dark chocolate can only do so much!

Please. Please. Bring me your opinions, stories, and comments!
Thanks for visiting!