Archive for January 2017

10 chores your toddler CAN do

January 30, 2017

It's a fine line we walk isn't it? Between babying our kiddos, wanting them to stay little forever; and helping them grow into mature little people capable of taking care of themselves and their things. We used to do everything for Jacob, but lately we've been giving him more and more responsibility. We've been amazed at all the things that he CAN do, and we've kicked ourselves for not starting sooner!

Ten chores your toddler CAN do!

1. Throwing away their own trash: string cheese wrappers, banana peels, pullups, etc. Unless your trash can is super complicated, toddlers can do this!

2. Tossing their dirty clothes in their hamper: if you have a fancy one they can even sort lights/darks. Jacob puts his PJs in once he gets dressed for the day, and then the clothes he wore that day go in when he gets ready for bath.

3. Putting their dirty dishes in the sink: even without a step stool, my guy has been tall enough to toss his dirty plates, cups, and utensils up in there for some time. This saves me from collecting them around the house.

4. Helping to carry out/sort the recycling: Jacob's favorite job is to help daddy carry out all our plastic water bottles/milk jugs/ cardboard boxes and help him sort it all into the bins. We are careful to keep him away from any sharp edges - like you find on cans.

5. Loading/unloading the washing machine and dryer: (as long as they can reach) we give Jacob a basket of dirty clothes and instruct him to put them all in the washer. Then we add the detergent (toddlers should be kept away from detergent) and start it. When it's all done in the dryer we have him take it all out and put it back in the same basket. Then we fold it. We don't have him do any loads with blankets or sheets, he has a hard time with those.

6. Dustbustering: unless they are afraid of vacuum noises, in which case forget it. Jacob loves to suck up all the dog hair that we sweep up from around our house. (twice a day!!)

7. Picking up their toys: toddlers can learn very early on that all of their things have a home and should go back to their home when they are done playing with them. Jacob puts books back on his shelves, trains back in bins, stuffed animals back in baskets, etc.

8. Feeding the family pet: we use a plastic measuring cup which makes it super easy for Jacob to scoop out dog food into their dishes. Even if they spill some on the floor you know your pet is going to eat it up anyways. If your dogs are good at walking on a leash (read: not pulling) your toddler can help walk them too. My dogs are NOT.

9. "Making" their bed: I use the term making loosely, but Jacob is responsible for getting all his blankets, stuffed animals, pillow and lovey back into his crib each morning. Kids that have already transitioned to toddler beds or big beds can practice actually making their beds.

10. Helping in the kitchen: we let Jacob help out with as much food prep as we safely can. Dumping ingredients into bowls. pouring into measuring cups, and mixing are all tasks he enjoys helping with. Every now and then I find something he can do all on his own - like pulling all the husks off ears of corn. 

Letting (or in some cases, making) little ones help out around the not only gives them a sense of independence, it fosters growing responsibility. Plus, every thing they do, is one less thing you have to do! What are your toddlers responsible for? 

Mommin' ain't easy.

January 27, 2017

It's been one of those weeks. 

There was an incident at a restaurant involving a half chewed crayon and a blue mouth full of crayon shards. There were screaming fits at bathtime, screaming fits at bedtime, screaming fits in the middle of the night. There's a large wound on the top of Jacob's foot and we have no idea what caused it. There was laying down in the middle of soccer and acting like a wet noodle when asked to get up. There was an entire dinner plate full of food that ended up on the floor. There was blisters on toes, spaghetti sauce in hair, and marker on the wall. There was not enough clean eating and far too many donuts. There was stress, doubt, worry, and there was definitely not enough sleep going on in this house. 

I get asked every so often if things are really as easy and photo worthy as they appear on social media and I'm here to tell you, they aren't. For all the perfect moments we blog about (and yes they are real, authentic moments!) there are a million more behind the camera that never get posted for the world to see. For every yummy recipe there's a sink full of dirty dishes. For every smiling photo of our boy there's a tantrum. Our dogs are cute but man they can tear up a bin full of recycling like no one's business. And don't even get me started on the house ok? It's never going to be fully clean and organized like I want it to be.

It can be tough to find the positive in each day. Sure, on the good days, when things go according to plan - it's easy. But on those pull out your hair, scream into your wine glass days? Not so easy. It doesn't help the world is so negative lately. Everybody disagrees with everyone else about this or that and it's tough to find common ground. It's so easy to get yourself down when it feels like nothing is going right. When the laundry piles never end. When you just can't take one more episode of Bob the Builder. When you're all out of ice cream/beer/your coping mechanism of choice.

Regardless, I try my darn hardest to find at least one sweet moment in each day to focus on. A few days ago we had a particularly tough day. I rocked Jacob before bed and sang "Twinkle Twinkle" all the while praying he would go to sleep quickly so that I could finally relax with the latest episode of the Bachelor and some sangria. He was quiet and calm with his head on my shoulder, and I realized that he isn't going to fit on my lap like that much longer. I told him I loved him before placing him in his crib and for the first time his little voice whispered back "I love you too, mommy." I cling tight to that. To those tiny moments that make it worth it. 

Finding the good in each day IS possible, even if it takes a little searching. The days are long, but the years are short. And they'll only be small for such a little while. 

Valentine Looks for Little Men

January 25, 2017

It's just a little over a week now until February which brings both my birthday and all things Valentine's. Haters call it a hallmark holiday, but I love celebrating all things LOVE. I've got lots of fun crafts and baking planned for the coming weeks, but today I've rounded up some festive looks for the little men in your life. Is it just me or is there always 10x more valentine's stuff for girls? I love a good challenge and I'm in smitten with these looks! I like to accessorize red and pink with shades of navy, black and gray to keep things masculine and fun. 


Navy and pink striped shirt // pink shorts // navy flip flops // Little Guy shirt // gray joggers // red converse // Snoopy pjs // red pants

Jacob wore his "Little Guy. Big Heart." tee to story time at the library this week. He loves playing with all the library's toys and the other kids and it's always a pain to get him out of there at the end without screaming. Thankfully we had made a coffee run prior and I still had cake pops to lure him out with minimal fuss. They were supposed to be for after dinner but, you do what you gotta do.

Garlic Lime Flank Steak

January 23, 2017

Oh man do I have a recipe for you today. Garlic Lime Flank Steak. This is our very favorite crock pot recipe, our go-to week night meal. It takes less than five minutes to prepare, requires things you probably have on hand already, and makes your slow cooker do all the work. 

Flank steak can run a bit on the pricey side. I usually pay around $18 but we always have enough leftovers for a second meal and $9 for two meals isn't bad at all! This recipe is low (no) carb, paleo, and whole 30 friendly. And it's downright delicious. It's the perfect meal to throw together and then forget about while you spend the day at the beach, a baseball tournament, shopping, wherever! 

We usually serve it over cauliflower rice, but it's tasty over any rice. Cauliflower rice is whole 30 and paleo compliant as well as low carb, but pick your favorite rice if you aren't following a special diet! If you are on the whole 30, you can replace the soy sauce with coconut aminos. We also top ours with homemade guacamole. We keep it simple mashing together avocado, salt, fresh lime juice and a little bit of pico de gallo. 

Here's the super simple how to:

1. Mix together in a bowl: 
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP fresh lime juice 
splash of soy sauce
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP pepper - add more if you like more kick!

2. Place Flank steak in your slow cooker and cover with mixed ingredients

3. Turn your slow cooker to low for 8 hours. 

That's it! By the time 8 hours is up, your meat will be tender and ready to shred and serve!


January 19, 2017

Oh the twos. The lovely, lovely, twos. I refuse to call them terrible, because even the worst moments of tantrums and stubbornness are redeemed with sweetness and love. We're really just amazed these days at all the ways he's growing. He laid out on the couch the other day with the iPad and I stared at him for the longest time just marveling at how long he's gotten. Nearly all signs of babyness are gone, which makes me want to weep. He's a little man through and through. 

We get stopped on the regular by people marveling over his speech. He talks. and talks and talks and talks. All day long. He says "Mommy" 25 times in a row even if I answer him the first time. If he wants in on what you're eating/playing/watching/doing he'll say "How about Jacob?" and if he doesn't want to do something he'll say "How about (anyone else)" He frequently says "Come on, Come on" as he drags us up the stairs to play trains for the 100th time. 

He's still picky about food but slowly branching back out. Pizza, PB&J, and chicken nuggets are favorites, but we can also get him to eat chicken, beef, shredded pork, rice, beans, most veggies and fruits. And dip. He'll eat almost everything if he can dip it. Ranch. Ketchup. Butter. He's not picky about dip. He has finally figured out the Munchkin 360 miracle cup (aff link), so goodby every other cup that we've tried because these are the best!

He's a busy little guy with soccer on Mondays and swimming on Tuesdays and Gym class on Wednesdays. Getting out energy is always a good thing, because he seems to have extra stores of it hidden somewhere. Screen time is about the only thing that keeps him still and quiet and we have to seriously limit it because he would watch/play all the livelong day if we let him. 

He love music, especially Taylor Swift, Sia, Lady Gaga, and anything Christmas. It's Christmas 365 days a year at our house. He recently made it all the way through his first movie SING! and I highly credit that to all the music in the movie. I rented a different movie a week ago and he cried when he realized it wasn't SING! 

Sleep is still hit or miss. He naps well for 2 hours in his crib, pack and play or daycare cot. He's become a master negotiator at bedtime. Always taking FOR-EV-ER to go potty or needing just one more drink. Sometimes he sleeps through the night from 7-6:30 and sometimes he wakes up several times a night needing to go potty or have just one more drink. Sometimes he wakes up much earlier at 5:30 or 6. He's really just all over the place with sleep and I"m praying this is just another phase that shall soon pass. 

He 100% believes that kisses instantly cure boo-boos, takes great pleasure in bossing around his pups, happily cuddles in anytime someone has a storybook to share, and gives the BEST hugs and kisses. He's our little dream come true and we love him SO much!

Our Winter Michigan Trip

January 16, 2017

The day after Christmas Jacob and I flew up to Michigan to stay with my parents. We were so excited when we got there to see snow on the ground! It was hazy and drizzling, and by the next morning it was gone, but we loved it the .2 seconds we got to play in it! We spent the rest of the rainy evening inside where Jacob was more than happy to find another train set waiting for him!

We had another "Christmas morning" while we were there with my parents and siblings. We re-did the whole day over again from the beginning: Cinnamon rolls, presents, and ham dinner. Jacob was really excited to help everyone open their presents! 

After presents there was some drone flying before nap and then more presents and dinner with my grandmothers, followed by salted caramel fudge for dessert!

A few days after our arrival Jacob came down with HFM, which meant we didn't really get out and do much, and had numerous sleepless nights as his little body tried to fight off the virus. We spent most of our time being lazy in doors and avoiding contact with everyone. 

 He did get himself on the mend by New Years Eve and we celebrated Noon Year's Eve at the Detroit Historical Museum, followed by lunch at the Detroit Institute of Arts. That night we ordered in pizza, popped some fresh firecracker popcorn, and no one made it to the ball drop at midnight!

We also took little man to see SING! which was his first movie since our disastrous 15 minute attempt last summer. He LOVED it! And he made it all the way through the movie, so that was a win! We had one other day when tiny snowflakes were falling off and on all day. We dressed in our winter gear and raced out everytime it started only to have it stop as soon as we got out there. We tried approximately 20 times before we finally got out in time to see some tiny flakes falling. 

Winter break might be over, but we're already dreaming of all things tropical and looking forward to seeing everyone again at Spring break in 2 months!