Yesterday was Small Business Saturday, so I feel like I missed the boat by posting about one of my favorite small business today. BUT! Tomorrow is Cyber Monday, and there’s no rule that you can’t shop all the great deals from those same small businesses you checked out yesterday! And I’ve got a great coupon code for you at the end of this post!

I’ve been a pretty big fan of BePe Baby for years. Their slippers have been a staple in Jackson’s wardrobe for most of his 4 years. We started out with the super cool baby slippers with flames on the sides, which you can see in this classic itty bitty Jax photo:

bepe baby slippers

Then we graduated to sports slippers, featuring baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, and more. And now we’ve made it to the largest size, with the crossbones slippers, which we like to refer to as the “pirate slippers.” (We watch a lot of Jake & The Never Land Pirates in my house.)

Jax was happy to model his new slippers:

bepe baby slippers

And a little more closely:

bepe baby slippers

All the things I’ve raved about previously still apply now, years later: Jax loves them because they’re soft, comfortable, “really cool,” and easy to put on and take off without any help. What I love about BePe Baby slippers is that they have non-skid soles, they’re inexpensive, and they’re durable and washable. We’ve only needed to replace these slippers because Jax outgrows them.

For you, friends, BePe Baby is offering a 25% off coupon code that’s good all week (valid through December 8, 2013): JAMESJAX

So stuff your kid’s stocking with some slippers that will make you both happy & check out BePe Baby. They offer more than slippers, too! Check out some of these adorable hats & leg warmers! Oh, and they’re also on Amazon now.

 

Dinner time in my house is admittedly tense most nights. As I child, I was made (first by my father, then by my stepfather) to eat things I hated. Occasionally, I had to sit at the table until the food was finished. It was a struggle I carry with me even all these years later. I try not to enforce that same rule on Jax, who is almost 4 now. Yet I occasionally find myself raising my voice, temper flaring, at the dinner table because he either won’t try something new (or something he’s had and liked before but doesn’t remember) or he won’t eat more than 2 or 3 bites before saying he’s done. I often make two meals–one for him, consisting primarily of chicken nuggets (good ones, don’t worry) and mac and cheese (organic because he eats it daily), and another for my husband and me. It is hard to not be resentful about this.

Let me be clear: I don’t blame my father and stepfather for trying so hard to get me to eat things like meat, brussel sprouts, and milk. I understand, as a parent now myself, they wanted me to have important nutrients necessary for optimal growth–and I’m sure they didn’t want me wasting perfectly good food. I was a skinny little thing, just like Jax. Because he isn’t yet 30 pounds and is the smallest boy in his class at daycare, I often find myself worrying about his eating habits. The thing is, I know better than to obsess about this. The facts are: he is the child of parents who were very skinny as children, he looks a lot like my brother (who is still very thin), he is very healthy and happy, he has maintained the same growth curve since birth, and my coercion is potentially setting him up for food-related issues later in life. I’ve read Ellyn Satter, who advocates “division of responsibility.” In other words, she believes the parent is responsible for the what, when, and where of feeding a child, and the child is responsible for the how much and whether to eat the food provided.

I agree with this concept wholeheartedly and have the best intentions when it comes to feeding Jax. Yet possibly because of my own childhood experiences and my anxiety over my son’s growth (again, he is so little!), I find myself begging, pleading, and sometimes yelling at him to eat another bite. And another bite.

frustrated

Me, at dinner time.

I need to chill the hell out about it. What I also need is for the people in our lives to stop pressuring me about his eating–not that they always realize this is what they’re doing with their comments about how little he is, how picky an eater he is, and so on. They mean well, I’m sure. And since I can’t change other people’s behavior, I should focus on tuning out those kinds of unhelpful comments. Particularly the comments in my own head!

This morning, I found myself googling “Do French mothers meal plan?” I won’t even go into detail about what led me to this odd search. But I stumbled upon a post by Jeannie Marshall, whose blog I’m completely unfamiliar with, about French food rules for children. I am fascinated and on board with these rules from a book by Karen Le Billon–although I hate to apply the word “rules” to feeding given that I’m already struggling with tense mealtimes!

The one that resonates most with me is this: 10. Remember, eating is joyful. Relax!

So, even if I forget all the other rules, I’m going to try my hardest to enforce this one. I’m considering commissioning someone on Etsy to make me a sign for my kitchen, to serve as a daily reminder!

Do you struggle with feeding your children? Share your experience and/or advice in a comment!

 

Now seemed like a good time to introduce my almost-4-year-old to some of my and my husband’s favorite sports to play–soccer and tennis. We aren’t very good at either, but it’s fun enough to get outside and kick around or hit some balls (making complete idiots of our nonathletic selves). With all the sunshine and mild weather we’ve been fortunate to have the past few days (shhh, don’t jinx it), we decided to make an effort to get outside as much as possible this week. We decided to teach Jax how to play soccer and how to hit a tennis ball.

The other day, we grabbed a kid-sized soccer ball and spent an hour at our favorite park. After about 5 minutes, Jax was more interested in the pile of mulch towering over our heads a few feet away from the field. He made it his mission to find the perfect wood chip, despite our efforts to make soccer seem interesting and fun.

soccer attemptWhen we’re in our backyard, he’s a mini-soccer fan, seemingly drawn to goalkeeping in particular. However, when we place him in a new environment, he’s distracted and more interested in exploring than in playing soccer. In a way, his distraction and desire to explore is really cute. His daycare teachers call him “Nature Boy.”

With soccer crossed off the list, last night we ran to Dick’s to pick up a kid-sized tennis racquet and some balls. As soon as we walked in the door, Jax ran over to the teeball bats and excitedly picked one up. Within 30 seconds, the kid was outfitted in a helmet and glove as well! This drew laughter from several customers and employees–he was seriously adorable, and I wish I’d taken a photo! Maybe baseball will be his sport (if he plays anything)! We told him we’ll let him try teeball when the time comes.

We eventually left Dick’s with our gear and hit the park near our house, where there are tennis courts that are usually unoccupied. The husband explained to Jax how to hold a racquet correctly and I tried to teach him when to swing it to actually make contact. And he did–once!

Five minutes later, what do you think Jax was doing? Sitting on the edge of the court, playing with sticks and grass. He’d said, “I’s done” and walked off with his cute little yellow racquet.

tennis attemptMaybe he’s just not ready for sports yet. Or maybe he’ll take after his parents and be artistic instead of athletic. Time will tell.

Do your kids play sports? When did you introduce sports? Which did you play with them?

 

With my husband out of the country for 4 days, I approached the idea of Mother’s Day alone with Jax with mostly excitement about having a lot of time together but also with a little bit of worry about my day potentially going awry due to some toddler tantrum or another. So I kind of split up my Mother’s Day into chunks of time all weekend, beginning on Friday. To kick off Mother’s Day weekend, I left work 2 hours early to give myself a bit of downtime and self-care.

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

Saturday, it rained in the morning, so we hung around the house a lot. Eventually, we made it to Target for crafting supplies and snacks, and then we came home and drew, glittered, and stickered handmade Mother’s Day cards for both grandmoms. We ate Oreos.

Glitter + Oreos? Sounds pretty fantastic, right?

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because "they look like princesses."

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because “they look like princesses.”

The rest of Saturday, we alternated laying around the house with some outside play. Around 3:30, he finally napped (boy did he need it!) on my lap. I enjoyed the snuggles while I watched something other than Disney Jr on the tv.

It was adorable. I wish he'd nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

It was adorable. I wish he’d nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

Jax fell asleep pretty easily Saturday night, and we both slept very well. I believe that’s why Sunday was so fanastic.

Fantastic may not even accurately cover how perfect my day was. I woke up an hour before Jax and sipped my coffee slowly while it was still hot. I caught up on social media and watched a bit of Mad Men (I am SO behind). When he woke up, we went to breakfast with my parents, who treated.

After that, we hung around the house for a few hours. We ended up in sweats, both of us, and cleaning the living room (what kind of a Mother’s Day is this?!). It was actually pretty fun, because in my twisted head, few things make me happier than a clean house. I had planned to take him on a long walk at a park with a long track, and then let him loose on the playground after I got a few miles in, but after we cleaned, he’d started to play by himself, quietly and contentedly, so I opted to not rock the boat. I stayed in my sweats, parked my butt on the floor, and read a magazine and listened to music instead.

My cleaning buddy

My cleaning buddy

Eventually, we got our walk in. First, I hit the Dunkin Donuts drive through for my new favorite drink: the mint chocolate chip iced coffee (milk, no sugar–in case you want to surprise me sometime!). That baby came on our walk with us. We walked for about 30 minutes and then played on the playground for another 30 before returning home. A friend came over, bringing 3 bottles of wine over as a gift for me (so nice!!), and had a glass of wine with me while Jax played on the floor nearby.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they're very ugly.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they’re very ugly.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Jax bestowed me freely with plenty of kisses and hugs all day. He was affectionate, calm, well-rested, and tantrum free all the way until bedtime. At one point, he even curled up on the couch while we listened to music and he rested without a word. This lasted so long I had to check to make sure he hadn’t gotten into the medicine cabinet! I’ve never seen him so calm, quiet, and still (while staying awake) for so long! When I’d look over to see if he’d fallen asleep, he’d flash me a huge grin.

I can count on one finger the number of times he's done this! Ha!

I can count on one finger the number of times he’s done this! Ha!

Around dinnertime, we made a frozen pizza (his favorite thing to do is pick off and eat some of the frozen cheese) because I didn’t feel like cooking. Then a different friend came over, and we had a glass of wine and played in the yard for 2 hours.

Bath at 8, bedtime at 8:30. After some snuggling with me and his newly discovered stuffed elephant (which I bought when I first found out I was pregnant with him), he was asleep by 9.

Mother’s Day was the kind of day my soul craved and exactly what I needed after two challenging days full of toddler tantrums. I am so grateful for having had such a peaceful, relaxing day with Jax. It was my best Mother’s Day yet.

 

I’m SO thankful for parents who speak openly about their struggles as parents, in particular as parents of children ages 3 to 4. I wish more of us would share our horror stores of toddler parenting, so that fewer of us would feel like parental failures!

You cannot convince me there is any harder, more challenging age than this. At least, I hope you won’t even try, because I can’t bear to hear there is a harder age unless you first tell me there’s a decade of sheer bliss before it!

Age 3 has been…interesting. I read recently that between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary explodes from 500 words to 1200 words. That’s more than double, meaning they have a whole new vocabulary for expressing all the ways in which they’re displeased! You’d think this would mean the end of the tantrums that peak between ages 2 and 3, right?

Notsomuch. At least not for us.

The other day, Jax tantrummed because I wouldn’t let him bring a dead (crispy) worm into the house to keep as his pet. The next night, he tantrummed because I didn’t eat the ginger that came with my sushi.

Reading back on those sentences, I laugh a little at how absurd these scenarios sound. But if you have a toddler, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Living with a toddler is like living with an adorable but psychotic dictator. You just never know when the most trivial thing will set him off and what punishment they’ll dole out when they’re unhappy. You pray it will be quick and painless. It rarely is.

One minute, they’re playing happily on the swingset in the backyard, and then suddenly they’re charging you with their fists ready to flail, and you have no idea why. And then just as suddenly and dramatically as it began, it’s over.

Post-tantrum make-up session

Post-tantrum make-up session

That’s what some days are like. Other days are perfect—although I suspect my standard of “perfect” has dramatically decreased to mean any day that doesn’t end with me in tears, hiding in the bathroom, clutching my wine glass tightly while praying for an easy bedtime.

Like you, I adore my child beyond words. I can’t spend enough time with him! I think of him constantly when we aren’t together. Parenthood has been the wildest, most awesome ride of my entire life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and don’t regret my choice to become a parent for even a second. And I enjoy more moments than I don’t.

But that doesn’t make it any less challenging and crazy.  And when, during those moments, I vent to my friends about my lunatic child or I pour myself a second glass of wine, that doesn’t make me any less awesome a mother. It makes me normal.