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I always find it fun to read about how everyone utilizes their time with their toddler. I also feel like I have so many plans for the day and rarely get to all that I want to do with my daughter. There's my goal, and then there's reality- the day just goes SO fast! Our typical day also changes with the season. When it is nice out, we are outside all the time and on the go. Now that it is winter and cold, we are being a bit more lazy and lounging around the house more often. Here's a peak into our daily routines:

6:30 am: Mama has big plans to get up 45 minutes before Caroline. Instead of this actually happening, my alarm goes off and I snooze until I HAVE to get up. Big dreams and it is staying on my goals for 2017, but I'm too tired to make it a reality- yet.

7:00 am: I finally decide to get up. I let the dog outside, get his breakfast, make coffee and get Caroline some milk.

7:15 am: Caroline's clock turns yellow and it's time to go get her! I grab Caroline, her blankets, and a couple of books and we head to Mama's bed. We drink our milk and coffee, snuggle, talk a bit, sometimes read books, and sometimes we watch a TV show (either Daniel Tiger or Dinosaur Train). I loooooove this time with my daughter. I know it's not the greatest start to the day to just stay in bed and even start off with a TV show, but it's our special time and I know I won't always get this time with her, so for now I'm keeping this around. #GuiltyPleasure :) We both love it so much, and before we know it the weather will be warm and we'll be getting back to our morning walks. Until then, I'm totally soaking this up. On school days or days where we are headed somewhere we don't do this since we need to get up and get moving to make it on time.

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network day, and all of the wonderful bloggers are writing on the topic of: "Screen Time"! We have all sorts of fabulous viewpoints on this to share with you today. Please see the bottom of this post for a full list of titles and links.

Screen time seems to be a source of guilt for parents. If you do a search on screen time, you'll find all sorts of articles and blog posts talking about how detrimental it can be to your child and how you need to severely limit screen time. If you ask other moms how much screen time they allow, they seem to turn their nose up at it and say they do as little as possible. I really struggle with this because, as a former teacher, and now as a mom, I see SO many benefits to using technology with our children. As a society we seem to be resisting the use of technology with our children, instead of embracing it as a welcome new addition to our toolbox (and yes it is an addition, not a replacement, to outdoor play and tactile learning). As a result, I'd like to focus my discussion today on the benefits that I see to allowing screen time at the young age of... toddlerhood! 

Sometimes baby/toddler products are worth buying. The only way to discern the products you'll be wasting money on versus those that are actually helpful, is to ask those that have used them. Today I wanted to make a few recommendations related to feeding our little ones. Anything to make the process of pumping, storing and feeding breast milk easier is worth it to me, and I found an amazing product that I'll be using for baby #2 again some day!  Once they graduate to solids, you'll fall in love with the food pouch for on the go feeding (if you haven't already). There's only one annoyance, the squeezability factor to make a huge mess. Problem solved! Then there's the choice of which sippy cup to use. Trying to find a good one that doesn't leak is ridiculously hard- not to mention one that's easy to clean. Well, I've found that as well, and we are never going back to normal sippy or straw cups in this house!

My body aches. An undeniable ache that prevents me from being the fun mom I want to be. The fatigue sets in and my arms and legs feel heavy. For years, doctors told me that nothing was wrong. They did blood work and scans, and could never find anything. We kept fighting. I'm now told I have fibromyalgia and adrenal fatigue, among other potential findings. It's a relief to get a diagnosis, but still a struggle because there's not much that is helping. It's been getting worse over the years, and on top of that I now have a 2 year old. My duties as a SAHM include sitting on the floor, running around, squatting in front of the toilet seat with my daughter, etc. Long story short, I'm feeling the pain more than ever.

I try not to complain, but it's written all over my face and my body language. A stranger wouldn't know, but my husband knows me too well. My sweet husband asks me what's wrong. He knows already, but he's wanting the details of what hurts. He cares so much and desperately wants to fix the pain and help. He asks if he can do anything. Then he offers me the best gift he could and silence. "Go lay down", he says. "Go relax", he says.

It happens so often, my daughter is taking on the concerned role as well. All on her own, she'll ask, "How are you, Mama?" She'll look at me and say "Go lay down, go relax, Mama." She's learning from her daddy, how to take care of me.

I melt.

Today is a very special day! I've linked up with another blogger as a part of a new collaborative blogging group. We have both decided to write on the subject of "toddler behaviors"! Check out Carolyn's blog post today as well: - When Your Child Is An Extrovert And You’re Not

Promoting Positive Behavior by Offering Choices to Your Toddler

Choices. They fuel our world. As adults we thrive on making choices and wouldn't have it any other way. Can you imagine a world where you didn't get to make choices? You'd go out to dinner and just be handed a meal and told take it or leave it. Perhaps you don't even get to choose how much you want to eat. You might be full, but you are told you need to keep eating- you don't have a choice. You'd go to purchase a car and the "expert" would choose for you. Our lives are what they are because of the choices we've made. We got to choose what we majored in at college. We got to choose what companies we wanted to apply to and work for, and on and on. Even down to the little choices we make each day- what glass to use for our drink, what shoes to put on, how we want our hair styled, etc. These choices make us feel a sense of ownership and pride in ourselves. These choices make us who we are and make life interesting.

My generation was right on the cusp of this transition- the transition to feeling entitled. When I was a few years into the workforce (but still pretty new), I suddenly felt quite old. While I wasn't much older than the "college kids" joining the workforce (literally only a few years older), I was noticing a big discrepancy in our attitudes. I felt like I was worlds apart from understanding them. These newbies did only what was expected of them- if that. Never did they go above and beyond, work late, take on extra responsibility, or take a proactive approach to learning and growing in their role. I noticed that these individuals expected to be rewarded for their efforts, even though they were pitiful efforts and merely doing what they were supposed to do to earn their salary. They wanted bonuses, recognition letters, free lunch days, and more. Again, all for doing the bare minimum. In addition to this, they seemed to be needed to be told what to do at all times. If they finished something early (before being told what to do next), they either did nothing, or asked what they should do. It didn't occur to them to figure it out. To learn and problem solve. Or to do extra. Several years later, I found myself switching from my engineering role into teaching high school chemistry. What I had seen in the workforce, was multiplied times 10 at the high school level. I made it my expectation to try and teach my students some much needed "real world lessons".

This post originally appeared as a guest post at Team Cartwright. Team Cartwright is one of the amazing blogs in the Babywise Friendly Blog Network. Check her blog out when you get the chance!

Here's the thing about dads. There are those that stand mostly on the sidelines, and there are those that jump in and parent wholeheartedly. Often, they end up getting criticized no matter which path they choose. Either they don't do enough, or the things they do aren't done "correctly". When this happens, a lot of dads end up backing off and defaulting to mama as the go to parent (and not doing enough). It is a viscous cycle! The thing is, though... dads don't do things incorrectly. They just do them differently than mama. And that's ok.

My husband is pretty hands on. Our daughter is almost 1.5 years old now. He often tells me that things came more natural for me with regards to parenting. Maybe, maybe not. The real reason that I seem to "know what I am doing", however, is that I do it 24-7. It is my job and my entire life! He goes to work and catches up on the whole parenting thing in the evenings.

There are so many products out there today that are marketed to first time moms. It's almost overwhelming to look through everything and decide what you need for when baby arrives.

I started thinking about what items we could have used without, versus what we actually NEEDED for our parenting journey as first timers.

I then decided to give myself a challenge: 

"What if I only had $1000 to spend in preparation for when our first baby arrived? What would I buy and how would I maximize the money?"

The assumption being that nothing came in the form of gifts, hand-me-downs, or was even able to be found used locally. 

In this post, you'll find my final list of items (that can all be purchased in one place- amazon, because let's face it... online shopping is so much easier and hassle free)! The entire list comes out to UNDER the $1000 goal and is everything you'll need for your baby's arrival!

Must have items for when baby arrives:

Chicco Key Fit 30 Infant Car seat and base- We loved this car seat. It works for newborns and works up to 30lbs. Great find and it fits in the stroller mentioned below!  

We have a wonderful guest post today. Valerie from the Babywise Friendly Blog Network is sharing some great ideas on how to deal with a 2 year old that isn't wanting to nap. I think #3 is so very important. It is something we are struggling with at the moment. Getting in enough mental and physical stimulation is a difficult task some days, but is very essential!

I'm guest posting today over at Wiley Adventures. Our 2 year old is really resisting room time, so we've implemented "table time". Check out my post: 8 independent table activities for 2 year olds. Let me know what other ideas you have for table time fun!

10 Tips for Dealing With a Two Year Old 
Who Doesn't Want to Nap
by Valerie Plowman

"You are so lucky your three year old still naps! As soon as my child hit two, he refused to take naps anymore." I have heard this comment many, many times over my years of parenting. Here is the thing. Most two year olds are going to reply, "Thanks, but no thanks" when you say "Time for nap!" It is rare to have a child who loves sleep so much that at age two, he/she will skip on in at nap time. Those children exist, yes. I have had one.

This post originally appeared on an amazing blog that you should all check out: Twinning Babywise. I wrote this guest post for Cole in September of 2016. As I look back at it, I think it's just one of those concepts to always keep in mind and have as a goal to always improve upon. As Caroline gets older, we'll be able to incorporate more and more of these ideas into our typical routines.

Babywise "Couch Time": Making Your Marriage A Priority

One of the basic principles of Babywise, is that if you have a strong marriage, you will be able to provide a sense of stability for your children. This, in turn, will promote healthy behaviors (both emotional and physical). In fact, this is one of the very first topics that is discussed in the Babywise book! The foundation of a great start to Babywise, is focusing on your marriage first.

"A healthy and vibrant marriage relationship is essential to the emotional health of children (as well as to Mom and Dad's emotional welfare). When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family".  (On Becoming Babywise, page 29)

Today we have a great guest post from Lucy Gomez, camp editor at I am so lucky to be able to bring this content to you, as this is something I have no experience with myself. She is sharing with us today, her 9 tips for camping with a toddler. I love this well thought out list of ideas!

9 Tips for Camping With a Toddler

For most new parents, the thought of camping with a toddler might seem incorrigible. However, if it is something that the both of you love doing, then you should definitely consider giving it a shot. Remember, the earlier you break them into your routine, the easier it will be for them to adapt when they are older. If you don’t try, you will never know. In fact, you might get comfortable with the thought that camping with tots is too hard.

So, without further ado, here are a couple of handy tips for spending quality time at a camping with your toddler:

1. Plan

I took a look at my top posts from 2016, and the most popular post from last year was The Wonder Weeks "Grey Period" - What is it?. Several of my other posts on leaps and milestones rang in high on the rankings as well.

When I think back to my favorite resources as a first time mom, during the first year of my daughter's life, The Wonder Weeks (book and app) is on my top 2 list (accompanied by the Babywise book). Reading other online resources, and talking with moms about their experiences during each leap was very comforting. It was validating to know that I wasn't in this alone, and that my experiences were "normal".

Dear America - Stop Whining About 2016
Image from post at Her View From Home

I am so excited that I've been featured over at Her View From Home! This is my first post on their site. It was a post I wrote after seeing comment after comment on Facebook about how horrible 2016 was. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I have never seen so many people take to Facebook at the end of the year and start whining and complaining. “2016 Enough already!” “OMG I can’t take any more of this year!" “You think 2016 was bad, just wait until 2017 and the next 4 years.” “Oh my heart can’t take anything else this year,” and on and on and on.

My 2 year old daughter said these words this morning. Her eyes looked sad, and her voice was almost quivering. She stood there watching as several older children ran away from where they had been playing (near her). She walked over to the exit, closed the gate behind them and said "They don't want to play with me".

My stomach just about fell through the floor. I felt sick and my eyes teared up instantly. My 2 year old wanted friends and children to play with. I've taken a break recently from branching out and meeting new moms, and it's always on my mind that I need to start doing it again. I want Caroline to have friends and experience that interaction. It's on me to make it happen. In that moment, it felt like my whole world was collapsing and it was all I could do to keep it together. Caroline was actually sad about it. I had no idea.

There's this balance that has to happen. The balance between comforting your child that is too young to do without, and providing consistency and consequences for their behavior. This is something I'm struggling with right now. My daughter is throwing tantrums at the drop of a hat...she screams over and over "I need Mama". I have to balance rewarding the tantrum with setting boundaries and teaching her lessons. It is so hard. I find it harder than doing sleep training at 4 months of age. It is brutal when it happens.

Our daughter is 2 years old (25 months). We just got back from a week long vacation. We've been home for several days now and a few surprising and new behaviors have started:

1. Potty Accidents: Our daughter has been potty trained for months and rarely has accidents. She is now having accidents all of the time. Her underwear are always slightly wet by the time she asks to go potty.

  • We remind her that she needs to tell us before she goes, and that she needs to have dry underwear. We are now taking her to the potty before she asks to help get her back on track.

2. Bedtime: When we leave the room, our daughter starts screaming and crying. She's usually saying "I need Mama".

So, I'll be the first to admit that, while I am a huge fan of setting goals for yourself, I rarely set an official new years resolution. I decided that this year I wanted to sit down and record my goals, however. I have a lot of goals for myself, so in an effort to not lose track of these goals, I want to have this post to refer to and monitor my progress throughout the year. I hope you find some inspiration in this as well! I've decided to break it down into a few categories (these are in no particular order of importance):

1. Health 

If I had to pick one item off of my list to focus on, it would be my health. If I am not feeling at my best, it impacts every part of my life. If you look at my lab work and my bill of health through all tests possible- I'm healthy. I'm a healthy weight, and typical doctors find nothing of concern on any of my labs. I don't feel healthy, however. I am in pain all of the time, and I struggle with fatigue. When I'm not at my best, I notice how it impacts me in all of my roles (mom and wife). I won't go into all the details here, but I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia (great to have a diagnosis, but annoying that there's nothing much to help), and I finally found a naturopathic doctor that is helping me. She's listening to my concerns. She's figuring things out. AND she's making progress with me! I'm seeing results for the first time, and I've got a doctor that believes she can help me. So, while a lot of this is out of my hands and out of my control, there are a few goals that I have set for myself to help the process of feeling better continue.

2016 was a pivotal year for this blog. I finally took the big step to purchasing my own domain! Many of you remember I used to be I knew it was time to drop .blogspot and make everything official! As a result, my stats only go back to the time that I switched to the new domain (August 2016). Even from August through December I saw remarkable growth on the blog that I am so proud of! The stats tell me that readers are enjoying the blog and coming back to read more. My hard work is paying off and my blog is being seen by so many people. I never dreamed I'd have so many views. In August of 2016 I was averaging 3500 page views per month. I now have over 14,000 page views per month and it is steadily growing! I am so thankful that this blog is helping other mamas like me. I have so many things planned for 2017! My writing space is small, but I love it! My writing time is minimal, but I make it happen. So excited for this new year on the blog!

I always find it fascinating to look back over the past year and see which posts were the most popular. Here are the top 10 posts. Enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

The other day, I shared about 6 Things My Barely 2 Year Old Does That BLOW Me Away. I knew I was forgetting things on the list. So, today I have 2 more things to add!

7. Reasoning Skills: We've all heard it- "don't try and reason with a 2 year old". I now fully disagree with that statement! Our daughter has reasoning skills and understands what we are saying to her. There are moments where she is not patient enough, or is too emotional to deal with trying to reason, but the majority of the time she is very capable of doing this. We can explain to her that the fork she wants is dirty right now, but that she'll be able to use it later. We can tell her that it's raining right now, so we can't go outside on a walk, but that if it stops raining, we can certainly go. We can tell her that she can go in the pool after she takes her nap for the day. We can also say "If you do X, then we can do Y". She nods and says ok. She gets it. She may not like it, but she understands and typically accepts it. And she remembers! Which brings me to.....