Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

Not to throw my favorite little boy under the bus or anything, by hoooooo-boy are we dealing with toddler tantrums these days. I’ve always said that Henry has big feelings. When he laughs, it’s from down deep in his toes and every part of him rejoices. When he cries, it’s this huge, wailing sob that you can tell he just feels so deeply. And when he’s mad, right now it’s tantrum central.
Dealing with toddler tantrums
It hasn’t always been this way. We actually made it through the “terrible twos” pretty unscathed. It was right around when he turned three that it got real. His tantrums are usually triggered by frustration or a lack of autonomy. If we tell him it’s time to brush his teeth and he’s not quite done with whatever activity he’s doing, he goes from zero to 100. Or if he is trying to accomplish something by himself that he just can’t figure out, it makes him lose it. I mentioned this recently on Instagram and said that we were dealing with toddler tantrums little by little, giving Henry tools to understand with his feelings and navigate his way through them (as best he can, at three years old), and got lots of questions about how we’re dealing with it. So I thought it might be helpful to break it down.

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

First off, let me say that we’re no experts. This is definitely not a proven method; it’s just what has proven to show results in our family. And the results, you should know, are incremental. When you’re dealing with toddler tantrums, it’s not going to dissipate in a day. Or even a week. It’s a long process that takes an insane amount of patience and consistency on the part of the parents. It’s also exhausting. Ha! So here are the ways that we’ve adjusted our own perspective, and the tools that we’re trying to give Henry to help him through.

Recognize the Triggers

For us, it was a huge deal to start understanding what exactly is going to set Henry off. It helps to know whether it’s hunger, or fear, or lack of sleep, or whatever the case may be. For us, it’s pretty clear that our little dude is most often set off by emotionally challenging moments, when his freedom is taken away or when he can’t do something himself. If a kid is triggered by something physical like hunger, it’s simple to just make sure that he’s always fed. But with the emotional triggers, we’ve found that you need some tools to teach the kid how to deal.

Give them Tools

This is what has been crucial for us while we’re dealing with toddler tantrums. We’ve started amassing a little “tool box” of things that we say or do when Henry’s having a tantrum. Firstly, we never ever reward the behavior. So whatever he’s having a tantrum to achieve definitely does not happen. Secondly, we realized that our little dude usually needs some time to cool off by himself when he’s losing it. So he sits in his room and we tell him to come out when he’s ready to be kind.
After he comes out, we ask him what went wrong and why he got so mad. Then we start talking about the tools. We go through the lists of things that are “okay” vs. “not okay” when you’re mad. Some of our “okay” things are going outside and kicking a ball, saying, “I’m mad!”, scribbling hard on a piece of paper, and we even let him go in his room and stomp his feet as hard as he can if he needs to do something physical. Things that are “not okay?” Hitting, kicking, hurting anybody or anything. Throwing things. Spitting. (Ew.) Basically anything destructive. When we talk about “okay” vs. “not okay,” the goal is that the next time, he thinks about his other options to express his feelings.
We also have a few mantras that we repeat a few times every time we’re dealing with toddler tantrums. One is “it’s okay to be mad/sad/frustrated.” Another is “a tantrum will not get you what you want.”  And another is “you’re not allowed to hurt someone else just because you’re hurting.” (I think about this one a lot, and sometimes wonder if the world would be drastically different if we taught this emphatically to all of our kids. Especially now, with such scary news coming at us all the time.) We repeat these with the hope that one day they’ll pop into his head as a guiding light without us having to say them.

Consistency is Key

The other thing we know without a doubt is that we, as parents and as a family, have to stick to our plan. If Henry sees, even one time, that a tantrum will get him what he wants, it’s game over. We start from square one. So it’s crucial for us to be consistent in the way we’re dealing with toddler tantrums. And none of our tools are magic bullets, but we definitely see incremental improvement. We can see him trying to use the tools, even though he doesn’t want to yet. He knows them, which for us is step one. And hopefully soon they’ll become more ingrained and help him navigate those big feelings.
If you have more help for dealing with toddler tantrums, leave a comment! Parents helping parents is a beautiful thing. 🙂 xoxo
P.S. Find my diaper bag here and my shoes here.

This Week. Alternate Title: Yikes.

Purple Sky
Holy cow, gang. This week was a doozy. I mentioned in a few times on IG stories, but in case you missed it — Henry got his tonsils out a week ago today. And helping a toddler recover from a tonsillectomy (and an adenoid removal!) is intense. I remember having my tonsils and adenoids out when I was little, and I still remember that pain. To see your little dude dealing with that pain is so heartwrenching. And while he’s old enough to understand what’s going on, you just can’t expect a toddler to calmly withstand a procedure like that. He’s been a total trooper, trying to be up to his usual hijinx, but it’s just tough. Especially at night — not a lot of sleeping has been going on in our house lately!
And of course, darling Mags picked this week to bring home a nasty strep throat germ, so suffice it to say we’ve got our hands full. I’m pretty sure if you caught a glimpse of our household in the middle of the night it would just look like two adult zombies stumbling back and forth between the kids’ rooms, rocking and shushing and doling out medicine all night long.
But I have high hopes for this weekend — we cleared all of our plans and we’re just focused on staying home and getting these babes of ours a little closer to 100% healthy. Maybe someday I’ll do a post on how we’re dealing with Henry’s recovery and how to help a toddler get through it. Although I’m not sure we nailed any of it, so maybe that’s better left to another expert! Haha!
In any case, hope you are super healthy and get to enjoy a fun spring weekend, wherever you are! xoxo

Overcoming Fear of Flying

I love travel, and always have. And up until a few years ago, I had no problem with flying whatsoever! It was only after a particularly stormy, bumpy, turbulent ride in a small propeller plane (complete with jolts so heavy I grabbed my neighbors’ hands and started praying, for reals), that I developed a serious fear of flying. And now, with every trip, I find myself busy overcoming fear of flying. I guess, more specifically, it’s a fear of turbulence. Let me explain.
Overcoming fear of flying
I’ve done a lot of reading and I see over and over again that  fear of flying or turbulence often comes from a perceived lack of control. And I supposed that’s true. I, as a passenger, have zero control over what happens to the plane, the way it’s flown, the weather we fly through, and on and on. And I find that to be partially true. But for me, there’s another layer to it — it’s the lack of knowledge. I’ve found that when we’re going through some bumpy air and the pilot comes over the intercom to explain what’s going on, I can maintain my cool much more easily. If there’s a simple, “Folks, we’re going through some bumpy air trying to navigate through this storm, but we’re trying to find some smooth air and it should be better in 10 minutes,” I’m pretty good. Uncomfortable, but… hopeful? But if there’s radio silence from the cockpit during substantial turbulence, I spiral. My mind immediately imagines that the turbulence is so bad the pilot can’t take his hands off the controls and we’re definitely going to die any minute.

How I’m Overcoming Fear of Flying

I also know logically that flying is one of the safest methods of transportation, and you’re way more likely to be injured in a car crash than in a plane crash. They always say the most dangerous part of flying is the drive to the airport. But when that turbulence kicks in, that logic doesn’t stop my heart from racing or my eyes from filling with tears or my breath from getting short. So over the years, I’ve developed a couple of (possibly weird) tricks that I do in the air when it’s bumpy and I just can’t calm my brain. Here’s how I work on overcoming fear of flying.

Sit By the Window

Some people tell me it seems counterintuitive, but I always feel better if I can see the ground. As soon as turbulence starts I always find myself looking out the window. (Partially because if the ground isn’t rushing up to meet us I know we’re okay so far. 😉 ) I also find that if I can see clouds nearby outside, the bumps make sense. My mind wants to equate the smoothness of the flight with the status of the weather, I guess. Once we start getting closer to the ground for landing, it’s also comforting to see landmarks getting bigger. Instead of just seeing mountains or bodies of water, soon you’ll see cities. And then roads. And then cars. And then you land.

Counting

It might be bordering on OCD, but my number one go-to for getting through a bumpy patch is counting. Once the bumps start, I look out the window and breathe as calmly as I can, while I count seconds. I try to get to 100. Then 200. Then 300. Most of the time, the bumps end before I get to 300 (five minutes) and I stop counting without even realizing it. If I get to 300 and it’s still turbulent I start over and take comfort in the fact that we haven’t crashed yet. 😉 This actually started on a bumpy flight back from Japan. The pilot told us to expect turbulence for 15 minutes, so I counted to 300 three times, and sure enough — the turbulence ended right on cue. I always take comfort in that.

Find a Mantra

This is sort of along the same lines, but if counting doesn’t work for you, maybe a repeated phrase will. Sometimes I say, “It’s just like a bumpy road,” over and over again in my head, to a solid rhythm. It helps to have something to focus on and even zone out with while you’re riding out the bumps.
None of this is to say that it’s curing my fear by any means. But the goal is overcoming fear of flying so that I can go through the fear and travel anyway. Because I’ll be danged if this gets the better of me — I have too much world to see! Are you working on overcoming fear of flying? Do you have any go-to tricks? Leave them in the comments — I’d love to know what works for you. Happy travels! xoxo

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Recipe (That Kids Love!)

apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe
I initially started making this apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe about a year ago, from a recipe a friend had given me. Over time, I’ve adjusted and switched it up again and again, and now it’s a permanent staple in our breakfast rotation! It’s a great recipe because you can really customize it to your taste and your family’s liking. What’s more, you can prep it the night before and bake it the next morning and it works perfectly. It’s low in sugar but because it tastes so good, you don’t miss any of the extra junk that comes in pre-packaged oatmeal. But the real testament to this stuff is that our toddlers request it all the time, so here’s our Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal recipe that kids love!

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups milk (we use almond or nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 apples, peeled and diced

Instructions

Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish with butter, cooking spray, or similar. If you’ll be cooking the oatmeal directly after you prepare it, preheat the oven to 375.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, salt) and mix well. (I like to use a large wooden spoon for this recipe!) After the dry ingredients are mixed well, add all wet ingredients to the same bowl and mix well again. The mixture will be pretty wet.
Set the bowl aside and peel and coarsely chop your apples. Add the apples to the bowl and mix to incorporate.
If you’re baking the oatmeal right away, place it in the oven for 35-40 minutes, just until the corners start to bubble! Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
If you’re prepping the oatmeal to cook the next day, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you’re ready to cook it, I recommend placing the cold dish in an unheated oven and then turning the oven on to heat the dish gradually. Cook for 35 minutes, or until the corners start to bubble.
We usually take a few days to eat the entire dish and it keeps beautifully! If you’re not eating it right out of the oven, it’s great with a little extra milk poured over the top before you reheat it. And feel free to switch up the fruit! We do a berries and cream version sometimes, with strawberries and blueberries substituted for the apples (use about 3 cups of berries) and a little fresh whipped cream over the top (cut back to 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon for this version). Go wild and make up your own flavors for this beauty of a recipe! Or go classic and do the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal. You just can’t go wrong. Enjoy! xoxo
apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe
apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe

How to Make DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike

How to Make DIY Pannier Bags for your Bike

DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
How to Make DIY Bike Pannier Bags
How to Make DIY Bike Pannier Bags
I’m sure you know by now about the love affair I have with my bike. (See Exhibits A, B, and C for starters.) It’s the Pure City Crosby Bike and it’s the perfect everything — color, ride, size, shape. She was getting a little antsy for an adventure so we decided to take her to the beach, but I had the idea to deck her out ahead of time with some pretty pannier bags so that we could carry all of our beach gear on the back rack. This turned out to be maybe one of my favorite projects ever. It turned out to be simple to make while giving you a lot of bang for your DIY buck. The bags look great, they’re functional and sturdy, and you can use them at the beach or anywhere. Here’s how to make DIY pannier bags for your bike!

What are pannier bags?

First of all, in case you’re not in the know, pannier bags are similar to saddle bags. However, instead of being slung over a horse’s rear end you sling them over the back of a bicycle or motorcycle. They’re firmly attached so that they don’t shift during riding, and you can fill them with all of your belongings so that they are safely contained. Case in point: I was riding my bike once and had my (really expensive) camera in the front basket. I hit a hard bump and the camera went flying, landing in the gutter. I was shocked and my camera was busted. Probably should have had that baby in these pannier bags!

How to Make DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike

Materials

  • 2 bags – any bag from a sturdy material will work; the ones we used are out of stock but there are similar ones here
  • 2 wood squares that will fit inside and against the back of your bag (find them at a craft store)
  • bungee cords
  • lashing hooks
  • screws (2 packs of 8 – this package will come with the nuts you need as well)
  • flat washers
  • awl
  • hammer
  • crescent wrench
  • phillips screwdriver
  • scissors
  • drill with 1/8″ drill bit (this kit is actually pretty cool if you’re a weekend maker and need to get your tool collection started)

Make Time: 1 Hour
How to Make DIY Bike Pannier Bags

DIY Pannier Bike Bag Tutorial

Step 1

Drill three holes in each wood square — two on either edge of one side, and another one at the bottom center of the opposite side.

Step 2

Insert the wood square either into the back inside pocket of your bag (if it has a back pocket), or hold it against the inside back of the bag. Use an awl to poke from inside the bag, through each hole in the wood, and also through the outside of the bag. Be sure to keep the wood in place while you are making your holes so that they are all aligned. Remove the wood and use the awl to enlarge the holes so that they’re large enough to slip a screw through.

Step 3

Slip a screw through a plastic hook for one hole. Do the same for the other two holes also. Put the wood back in the bag aligned with the holes. Entering from the outside of the bag, insert a screw through the first hole. The hook will remain on the outside of the bag. Insert the screw until it pierces both the bag and the wood. On the open end of the screw, place a washer and a nut. Tighten the nut using the screwdriver and wrench. Repeat for all holes in each bag. The top two hooks will be placed with the rounded hook portion on top, and the bottom hook will have the rounded portion on the bottom.

Step 4

Use a hammer to break away the orange ball on two of your bungee tarp ties (maybe the most satisfying part!).

Step 5

Affix the bags to your bike! The top two hooks go over the top of the rack. Then hook a bungee around the bottom hook, down and through the bottom hole in the rack, back up and onto the same hook. Your bags are done!

Step 6

If you want to make a bonus towel holder, you’re almost finished. First, cut off the straps from one of the purses.

Step 7

Cut two 11″ sections from the strap, while trying not to include any buckles or holes.

Step 8

Use the awl to puncture a hole on either end of each strap, approximately 3/4″ from the end.

Step 9

Use the same technique from Step 3 to affix a hook into each hole.

Step 10

Roll and place your towel on top of the back rack. Hook one strap over each end of the towel. You’re ready to roll!
How to Make DIY Bike Pannier Bags
How to Make DIY Bike Pannier Bags
Maybe one of the coolest things about the project is that one bag that still has its strap, so you can tuck the strap inside while you travel and also unhook the bag and use it as a purse! Just pull the strap out and tuck the bungee cord inside while you’re walking around. Then you can also reattach it when you’re ready to roll. This was such a fun one to make (and use!), so I hope you try it  — now that you know how to make DIY pannier bags for your bike. See ya at the beach! xoxo
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
DIY Pannier Bags for Your Bike
Product for this post graciously provided by Pure Cycles.
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Family Style // What The Kids Are Wearing

This week rushed by! And today, guys, something big: Hanky is getting his tonsils out. Poor guy. I know it’s the right thing to do but you always hate to send one of your babes under the knife. So send all your prayers and vibes his way! Here are a few of our adventures from the week for this installation of Family Style // What the Kids Are Wearing.
family style what the kids are wearing

MAGGIE, PICKING DANDELIONS

Fur Vest from Matilda Jane (Similar)
Headband from Michaels (Similar)
Long Sleeve Tee
Bloomers from Kira Kids (Similar)
Moccasins

family style what the kids are wearing

HENRY, ON AN EASTER EGG HUNT

Plaid Shirt from Target (Similar)
Bow Tie from Cotton On Kids (Similar)
Skinny Khakis
Oxfords

family style what the kids are wearing

MAGGIE, DIGGING ON HER OWN SHOES

DIY Hair Bow
Romper
Moccasins

family style what the kids are wearing

HENRY, BEING AN AIRPLANE

Bomber Jacket
Pull-on Joggers from Old Navy (Similar)
Velcro Sneakers

mommy and me matching shoes

BONUS! MOMMY AND MAGS, WITH MATCHY MATCHY SHOES

Mom’s Clogs
Maggie’s Clogs

Is it Just Me, Or is it Kind of Nice to Have Enemies?


There’s this line from The Office that I always think describes me perfectly. Pam says, “I hate the idea that someone out there hates me. I hate even thinking that al-Qaeda hates me. I think if they got to know me, they wouldn’t hate me.” THAT’S ME! I am so painfully uncomfortable with confrontation that I avoid it at all costs. And I constantly make every effort to know that I’m on everyone’s good side — it has always made me so twitchy to think that I might be in somebody’s bad graces. It goes way back for me, I’m a peacekeeper at heart.
A few months back I was talking with a friend and asked if they had ever really, truly told somebody off to their face. I was half wishing that they would have a great telling-off story, because I think deep down I wish that I had one. There have been so many times when I’ve been in a situation where I really should have spoken my mind, stood up for myself, and just sort of let somebody have it. But I just… don’t. Because I don’t want to make waves. And then, of course, later I play the conversation over and over in my head and immediately come up with one zillion snappy responses or comebacks. But in the moment, never.
So I had been mulling this over for a few days and it hit me that I actually have had a couple of these experiences in my life, where I was forced into a confrontation and stood up for myself. I feel like I almost blocked them out because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I started remembering, and these conversations came back to me. Both of them were with good friends, where there was a misunderstanding or argument, and for once, I didn’t back down. I held my ground and said my peace. And you know what? Neither of those people are my friends any more.
In one case, it was my choice. In the other, it was my friend’s choice. And if I ever saw these people in person again it would be awkward at best. For a long long time, I agonized over both of these friendships. I felt lots of guilt and sadness and anger. But just recently I started wearing those two incidences like little badges of pride, because I sort of have enemies. And you know what that means? It means I stood up for myself! I stood by my convictions and I voiced them out loud and I wasn’t willing to waver. I’m still sad about the friendships, but I also know that friendships deteriorate for a reason. And in the midst of losing those friends, my upper lip got a little stiffer and I gained a few bravery points.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not out cruising the neighborhood with my leather jacket on, looking for a fight like a Jet looking for a Shark. (Hellooooo musical theatre reference.) But I’m also glad to be on the other side of those experiences and be able to see that having enemies doesn’t always mean that you’re in the wrong, or that you made too many waves. Sometimes it just means that you can’t see eye to eye, and that you weren’t afraid to say so. xoxo
P.S. Do you have any enemies? Do you feel the same way about it that I do? Tell me your stories!

Our Go-To Trader Joe's Shopping List

Trader Joe's shopping list
I’m gonna be straight-up honest here and let you know right off the bat that Ryan is the grocery shopper in our family. I know! A dude who’s cute and does the shopping? Jackpot. But over the years we’ve definitely honed our Trader Joe’s shopping list together, as we’ve figured out what we love, don’t like, and what now works for our family of four (helloooo, toddlers). The great thing is that our Trader Joe’s go-to shopping list checks all the marks, and there’s definitely something for everyone. I actually think that it’s a great place to grocery shop for kids because there are lots of healthy (and organic) options with flavor profiles that encourage them to be a little adventurous in their eating habits. This list is full of our very favorite, tried-and-true items that we always have stocked in our pantry or fridge.

Trader Joe’s Shopping List

Produce Section

We often get our produce from our local Farmers Market, but we do have a few things that we love to pick up at Trader Joe’s. Here are our faves.

  • Shelled edamame. Great for kids’ snacks or adding to a stir fry or salad.
  • Steam-in-the-bag veggies. We often do the green beans or broccoli. Perfect for putting together a quick and simple dinner. We steam them a little extra for kiddos with no teeth. 😉
  • Limes. For some reason, the TJ’s limes are better and cheaper than anywhere else!
  • Fresh flowers. Their florals are always fresh and totally affordable.

Meat and Dairy Section

TJ’s has an awesome selection of pre-seasoned meat, fish, and more — and a killer cheese section, too. These are great places to stock up for easy weeknight dinners, or if you’re entertaining soon.

  • Ground Turkey. Always the most budget-friendly ground turkey we can find (and it’s great quality).
  • Tamales. If you can’t get fresh, handmade tamales, these are a pretty good substitute.
  • Pizza Dough. Hands-down, one of the things we stock up on most at TJ’s. The Garlic and Herb is amazing, and they have plain or whole wheat as well. We often have pizza nights where we prep the dough and let the kids choose and add their own toppings. We’ve been using this dough for almost 10 years now and love it every time.
  • Cheese. All of it! The selection is amazing and it’s more affordable than almost anywhere else. I love the Triple Cream Brie.
  • Nonfat Greek Yogurt. We always keep a selection of flavors on hand for kid and grownup snacks. (Favorite flavors are pomegranate, blueberry, and honey.)

Snack Section

I think we can all agree that the Trader Joe’s snacks are next level. I just love combing through the aisles looking for new things to try! Here are the ones that are always on our Trader Joe’s shopping list.

  • Some Enchanted Cracker. Always my favorite cracker for dressing up with meats, cheeses, dips, and more.
  • Sweet, Savory, & Tart Trail Mix. The kids love this stuff (just make sure no one’s allergic to nuts!). It’s full of protein, and has some sweet treats in it too.
  • Organic Mini Sandwich Crackers. I have to put the brakes on, because my kids would eat these by the handful (they have peanut butter or cheese flavor).
  • Fruit Pouches. We get these four-packs of pouches to have on hand for the kids, mostly during travel or for on-the-go snacks.

Freezer Section

The freezer section has been our savior on more than one occasion! While we try not to eat a lot of frozen food, we keep these standards around for a quick meal when needed.

  • Meatless Breakfast Patties. Both of our kids love these, and it’s a fast way to get a little protein into their breakfast if they won’t eat eggs.
  • Gnocchi a la Sorrentina. If you asked Henry, he would tell you this was his favorite meal in the whole world.
  • Party Meatballs. Awesome for adding to pasta dishes. Also a great meat for little ones who can’t chew tough meat.
  • Turkey Corndogs. They don’t have these often but they love them.
  • Frozen Rice. We do the brown rice, the jasmine rice, or the rice medley, depending on the meal. It cooks really quickly right in the bag so it’s great if you’re in a time crunch.

Sauces & Dips

I could go on and on about the sauce section, but we’d be here all day. So here are the jars and bottles that we always have on hand.

  • Olive Tapenade. Another one that we’ve been buying since we first met. Put this out with a cheese and cracker platter at a party.
  • Curry Sauces. We use the green, red, or yellow when we’re making a stir fry. Combine with some chicken and veggies and serve over rice for one of our go-to meals.
  • Sriracha Garlic BBQ Sauce. This stuff is not joking around. Perfect for seasoning meat or for dipping. Ryan makes party meatballs with it and they’re insanely good.

Hope our Trader Joe’s shopping list helps you out! I’d love to know if you have any favorites that you always pick up when you’re there. Happy shopping! xoxo