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Tips For Transitioning A Toddler To A Big Kid Bed

Willow is turning 4 in January and we finally just transitioned her to a “big girl” bed. It was always shocking to other parents, when they found out she was still in her crib at well past the age of 3. The truth is she loved her crib, sleeps 10-12 hours a night still and never tried to climb out! She was finally starting to outgrow the crib, and I knew it was time to find her a bigger, more comfortable bed. Since this is always a hot topic for parents, I thought I would share some ways we helped her prepare for this transition.

  1. Make It Sound Amazing! We talked about her new bed for about a month before it even came! I let her look at pictures and involved her in the process of picking out her new bed. We chose this amazing twin bed frame from Sweet Home From Wood and a nontoxic mattress from Tomorrow Sleep.
  2. Let Them Decorate…Willow picked out all of her sheets and quilts for her bed. I think letting her in on the process also kept her excited about sleeping in a new space. She went with mermaid sheets with a fun double sided quilt (all from Target).
  3. Go Over Ground Rules… Kids thrive off of routine and structure. Getting Willow into her new bed, came with some rules that we went over quite a few times with her. I has some anxiety about her having the freedom to get up and roam around at night now. So we discussed that she may only get out of bed to use the bathroom, or come directly to our room. Thus far she has followed the rules and is loving her new bed!

Shop The Room Below:

 

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#AskAbby: How do I relieve stress as a busy mom?

It seems stress can be the norm in my life sometimes! Thank goodness I’m familiar with the non-stop nature of my life thanks to being a nurse at a hospital for many years… however, my emergencies lately are generally less life threatening and more to do with running late to drop off Willow at school or forgetting to pack myself a snack to ward off my pregnancy fueled hangeryness.

 

Since spa days and vacations have been far and few between, I’ve found some other methods every mama on the go needs to help destress and wind down. Happy mamas are the best mamas and it’s uber important for us to remember that sometimes the best way to take care of our families is to be mindful of ourselves.

 

My “Favorite Five” go-tos to relieve stress:

 

#1: Acupuncture

I turn to my favorite chinese medicine often and I’ve even started making weekly appointments. I initially sought out acupuncture to jump start my fertility when I was having trouble getting pregnant (see next blog post for the full story) but I’ve maintained my commitment to the practice since. Acupuncture can be a little scary for first-timers and those who don’t like needles but I really encourage giving it a try. It might take a session or two to really get comfortable with someone sticking needles into your body but I feel the relief for long after my session is over. Besides relieving stress, it has helped me a lot with my headaches as well.

 

#2: Essential Oils

I love lavender and peppermint oils! My acupuncturist was the first to recommend these oils to me but they are VERY handy when it comes to relieving stress on the go.  Lavender is known for its calming effects but it also, more specifically, can relieve anxiety. I’ll put the oil on my hands throughout the day for this purpose. Peppermint is another powerhouse oil that can help relieve pain alongside a bunch of other benefits like reducing nausea and helping with digestion. I put peppermint on my temples when I have headaches and prefer it over popping a pain reliever medication.

 

#3: Working out

Working out has been a much different experience since being pregnant with the twins, I used to run on the treadmill to clear my head followed by toning arms and legs but I may begin trying out gentler methods of exercise for the duration of my pregnancy. I try to view exercise as less of a chore and more of a luxury and break from other hectic things that may be going on.

 

#4: Alone Time

The holy grail of relieving stress! I know whenever I’m getting in a funk, what I really need is some alone time. It doesn’t matter so much what I’m doing but just having no one around for a bit is very important in maintaining my sanity. I’ll often go get my nails done or go shopping by myself – not errands but a good activity while venturing alone.

 

#5: Manifesting

I’m not great at meditating though I’ve tried a bunch of methods… it just never works for me. One thing I do really enjoy though is actively thinking about gratitude. Being mindful of the things that mean a lot to us can be very calming and grounding – especially on a tough day. I try to make this a daily practice and it breeds a lot more positivity in my mind that reflects in my life.

 

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What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting: Twins Edition

Our road to getting pregnant for the second time was not an easy one. After getting pregnant with Willow so easily, I genuinely thought I would be pregnant with another baby in no time. After we decided as a couple that I would stop taking birth control, it was an exciting time and we couldn’t wait to see the positive sign on the pregnancy test! Little did we know and frustratingly, it wouldn’t be coming for quite some time.

 

Each month I would track my cycle with serious OCD, romantically text my husband that we had to get busy, and then subconsciously think I was pregnant and psych myself to tell the world I was with child… EVERY… SINGLE… TIME for 7 months straight. I was on an emotional roller coaster of anticipation and disappointment and eventually hit an all time low after my birthday.

 

I finally decided it was time to head to my OB in April. I figured that there was something wrong with me, and it turns out I was right – as most moms usually are. I had the labs of a premenopausal woman so my body was just not looking to get pregnant. Per my MD, my Estradiol was undetectable, my FSH was high and something was suppressing my ovaries. So to sum it up, at the ripe age of 33, I had California Raisins for ovaries and nobody knew why. I was devastated and all my doctor could attribute it to was the rise of environmental pollution which was an answer with little solace.  They told me to come back in another month for a redraw but again, like a bad record, each month my labs would look the same and getting my period was a constant reminder I had failed. This was not the scenario I wanted to be in and the emotional roller coaster continued.

 

To make matters worse, I wasn’t the only one eager to announce a new baby would be joining the family… I was constantly pained by complete strangers asking me when  baby #2 would be arriving. “I don’t know lady, when are you buying your 8th cat” was how I felt like responding.  These conversations continued to rehash my open wounds from the internal pain I felt over my empty womb. I started telling myself I had one amazing, beautiful daughter and that’s all we needed. Though this was the truth, I would hold back tears when Willow would ask me for a little brother or sister and I felt like I was letting her down. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and just plain sad.

 

My infertility consumed me, and I couldn’t see the way off the emotional roller coaster. With my labs heading in the same direction, I was open to trying anything. I even started acupuncture with an amazing woman, named Natalie who happened to specialize in infertility. I would go to weekly sessions with her, discuss my labs, and she started me on a serious regimen of natural supplements and vitamins. Natalie gave me a safe place to speak about my issue, and one day we decided together that I would go see a Reproductive Endocrinologist in which their sole purpose is to get people pregnant.

 

I met with the doctor and to my surprise she was enthusiastically upbeat. She looked at me, my medical history and my shitty labs, she then looked right back at me and said, “We are going to get you pregnant”. It was like a weight shifted off my shoulders, the heavens parted and I had just heard the voice of an angel. I couldn’t be any happier! The doctor explained that during my next period, I would start injecting fertility drugs that would help control my ovulation in preparation for an IUI. I finally had a plan, and was beyond ecstatic.

 

So naturally, I went back to stalking my cycle and patiently awaited Aunt Flo. Except, Aunt Flo never made it. I was one day late, and thought well isn’t that just odd. Just to amuse myself, I decided to take a pregnancy test, completely expecting it to be negative – no pun intended. However, I was greeted with a positive sign instead. I was in shock and didn’t believe it. Surely, this was an ironic mishap of a pregnancy test. I took 6 pregnancy tests that day and I’m not sure any of them would have made me believe it.

We were beyond excited to confirm with a blood test that indeed we were pregnant. How crazy was it that on the heels of deciding to turn to a last ditch effort but before actually starting the treatment I was with child?!

 

The pregnancy itself was such a surprise but we didn’t realize how much of a surprise we were in for until my first ultrasound, this was when we found out just how “pregnant” we were.

 

The visit went something like this:

 

Doctor: “Um, did you take any of the drugs?”.  

 

Me: No!

 

Doctor: Well, this is a surprise, there are two heartbeats.

 

Aj: Yeah, like the baby’s and Abby’s?

 

Doctor: No, as in there are two babies!

 

Me: Shut the F**k up!

 

Aj: What…

 

And then there were two…

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Obviously we are elated to be welcoming two new additions to our family this year. If you asked me how we did it without fertility drugs, I don’t have a clue. I do know that once I felt comfortable with a plan from my acupuncturist and doctor that I felt less stressed and happy to be making some kind of progress. I think I stopped over thinking my own body’s downfalls thus far, and actually gave myself a break for once. I spent more time on myself, and focused on other important things in my life that made me happy. As we always said in nursing, your body follows your mind, so get your mind right.

 

A note on infertility: I know our personal struggle with infertility for over a year may not be relevant to your own journey. I share this with you so that you know you are not alone. I also share this with everyone else who doesn’t understand infertility because they never had to go through it. Stop asking when someone may be having a baby or second child. Sometimes what you think are words of encouragement aren’t, and just listening can be helpful. It’s better to give support than advice or suggestions.

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#AskAbby: How to keep your family organized?

Most moms can relate to always being short on time and don’t need a reminder to it’s importance. Since AJ is often on set, I’m the family task manager and the one making sure everything and everyone is where they need to be. I’ve found a few “best practices” that have been my saving grace in keeping the family organized, and my sanity!

 

Tools

 

  1. Planner: I may be old school with my physical planner/calendar and yes I know that I can move everything to a digital one.  Yet, I’ve found that writing things down by hand in my planner as soon as I hear them has been key to staying on top of daily tasks and other things that may pop up.
  2. Color coding: As a nurse, EVERYTHING is color coded at work! I’ve carried this over to my home and it has been equally as useful. I even used to carry around a 4 color pen! In my planner, I’ll use different colors for notes pertaining to different people/categories of notes.
  3. Post-It Notes: (Also color coded!) These are all over my house! I use sticky notes for things that NEED to be done that day, I’ll write them down and then stick them on the back of my phone so there’s no way the task will escape me. No excuses with this method 😉
  4. Shared Google Calendars: My one “with the times” best practice! I LOVE this feature on Gmail. I have AJ’s calendar shared to mine and vice versa so we are always in the loop with each other. Plus, Willow has her own within my account so I know who has to be where and when. I love how everything auto-populates and there are so many different customization settings that would work for anyone’s needs.

 

Habits

 

  1. Putting daily items back where they belong: I’ve found this to be so helpful so I’m not wasting time during the day looking items I need. Whether it’s as simple as putting the keys back by the door or a mug next to the coffee pot to putting AJ’s eye mask back on the bedside table… I’d rather put these items back where they will be needed than be asked for help looking for them later 😉
  2. I coordinate all of Willow’s activities at the same time: I do my best to sign up all of Willow’s extracurriculars for the same time slot during the day so that even as her activities change, our routine doesn’t.
  3. Doing “fast tasks” immediately: Whether it’s opening the mail and paying bills right then and there or responding to an email… anything that can be done right away and in a few minutes should be. If I don’t do these tasks right away, I mentally file them away and forget to do them by the time they are due.
  4. Daily check in: This tends to be unscheduled but I always make sure to take a moment to review what needs to be done for the rest of the day/week. This moment also simply helps me to feel more organized.
  5. Planning a month in advance: I always made fun of friends who would do this but now as a mom I TOTALLY get it and practice it!! Maintaining friendships is extremely important to me so I make sure to actively reach out and suggest a date ( a month out) that works for me.
  6. Not being afraid to ask for help: I love my role and everything I do for the family but sometimes help is needed. I’m so lucky I have the ability to get help whether it’s hiring a sitter for Willow when I need to go to meetings or even have my mom coming to visit and lending a hand. Doing it all doesn’t have to mean doing it alone.

Mom Guilt: Why We Really Need To Let Go Of The Shame and Start Living Our Lives

Hey Ya’ll I am back. Sorry there was a short hiatus here, but I have been working on a couple of things for all of you. One of them being this new series which you can follow over on my Instagram. Motherhood, it is an amazing journey filled with endless love. Yet, there are many aspects of Motherhood that people just really try not to talk about. We all have many, as I like to call them, “not so chic moments” of Motherhood. One of them being, Mom guilt.

 

Mom guilt as I like to call it, has many…many forms.

You leave your kids to go to work and make a living… you feel guilty.

You go out to see your girlfriends once a month… you feel guilty.

You tell your child the cookies are gone and you secretly ate them in the bathroom, well because you needed that cookie and some alone time… you feel guilty.

Oh and the above image is when my child decided to one up me and put herself in time out. Guess what?? It seriously gave me Mom guilt because I started to think I put her in time out too much!

Okay, that last one is a true story…guilty as charged over here, but is anyone else tired of the Mom guilt? I think we can be honest that we all don’t love every single minute of Motherhood. We aren’t robots and we most definitely are not perfect. So I am starting this little series in which every Monday I will share on my Instagram and blog a favorite Mom guilt from the last week. I hope this sparks conversation for us in which we can talk about it, laugh about it and for goodness sakes start living a little without it?

Have you had any Mom Guilt Moments?

 

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Mommy And Me Style: The Perfect Dresses For Spring And Summer

This weekend we had no set plans and I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened.  It has been really lovely to wake up and go at our own pace with no set agenda ahead. I have even been to the gym twice…who am I? So while my sweet little babe is napping, I am getting ahead of some long awaiting blogging. I wanted to share this Mommy and Me look that I shot with Willow some time ago. I have posted about it several times on my Instagram, and it is finally making it’s debut. With warmer days ahead these breezy dresses are the perfect fit for spring and summer.

Shop This Look:

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

 

Comparing Preschool Philosophies: Finding The Right Program For Your Child

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Preschool, did I just really say that? Is my baby going to actual school, with classmates, teachers and leavinggggggg meeee? She is my first born ya know, I may cry a little watching her march into the classroom for the first day and become even more independent. You know what else made me cry a little? The list of 15 preschools that I applied to, set up tours with and basically stalked. I mean when did preschools get waiting lists? When I grew up (I just totally aged myself there), you went to the preschool in your church, or whatever was down the street, just simple and easy. I think my Mom was happy I learned my ABC’s, 123’s, and colors. Nowadays there are quite a few different philosophies including  Motessori, Waldorf, Progressive, Traditional, and Reggio Emilia to name a few! Feeling flustered yet? Well that’s where I come in! I wanted to make The Chic Mamas a place where parents can come to find easy and simple information on how to choose the right preschool program for your family! I know it feels like a big task, so let me help break down each philosophy for you below to make it a little easier on you.

  • The Montessori Method
    • This is a child-centered approach in which the child’s play is considered their work and they learn at their own pace. Teachers serve as a guide to help foster independence, self-esteem and confidence in each child. Classes have mixed age groups that encourage older children to help younger children learn. Materials in the classroom are called “manipulatives” which are based in three different learning groups: practical life skills, sensory skills, and language/mathematical skills. Think puzzles, or a ribbon tying station for example, each material allows the child to determine if he or she has done the exercise correctly. A teacher doesn’t correct a child’s work, rather they are encouraged to try again,  ask the teacher for suggestions or ask another child for help.

 

  • The Waldorf Approach
    • This approach aims to educated the whole child, “head, hands and heart”. There is an emphasis on creative and imaginative play with a focus on teamwork and community. With the Waldorf approach, what may seem like extracurricular activities in other schools are the main learning tools in this setting with hands on play including art, gardening, puppetry, cooking, dress up, foreign languages, singing, etc. Teachers must be certified and aim to enable students to choose and realize their path in life. The Waldorf classroom will look and feel “homey” with natural materials such as different textured cloths for dress-up, wooden blocks for building, kitchen utensils, musical instruments, etc.

 

  • Progressive or The Bank Street Model
    • This model is child-centered in which the child is a planner, participant and problem solver. Usually there is no pre-planned curriculum, and the teacher follows the child’s lead in areas of interest where they encourage children to pursue their own projects. Children learn and explore through art, imaginative play, block building, etc. Every child is acknowledged as an individual that each have different needs. A classroom may be set up with “stations” different materials to foster the child’s imaginative play.

 

  • Traditional Method 
    • This method is very structured and formal. It is teacher-led with a pre-set curriculum. The teacher drives each lesson by explaining and directing, while the child learns from listening and absorbing the information, rather than exploration. Goals of the curriculum are built around teaching letters, numbers, sounds, problem solving, shapes, math and listening. In this setting, classrooms may be set up with desks for each child.

 

  • The Reggio Emilia Approach
    • This multi-sensory approach focuses on providing opportunities for problem solving through creative thinking and exploration. The teacher puts a great deal of energy into the detail of the classroom. The classroom is looked at as an educator, and is made to be inviting and stimulating. You may find different areas dedicated to art, exploration with natural materials like sand or water, science and building, dramatic play, math or writing. In this setting children are invited to explore and problem solve. The teacher observes each child to see an area of interest and then acts as a guide by asking the child questions helping them to discover hypotheses, ideas and theories.

 

You may find that many schools take a part of each philosophy to build a blended learning environment as well. I hope that you can use these tips on each philosophy to go into any tour or preschool setting feeling knowledgeable and aimed with information to help narrow down your choices. I found that understanding each philosophy helped me stay focused when choosing preschools to tour. Later this month I will also be sharing the most important questions to ask on a tour and my downloadable spreadsheet to help you stay organized with all of this craziness! Let me know which method you prefer and works for your family in the comments below!

XOXO,

Abby

5 Father’s Day Family Activities

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Father’s Day is just around the corner, and I have teamed up with Crocs to bring you 5 fun activities to do with the family on Dad’s special day. Yes, you heard me right, I said Crocs! On a quick side note, they have totally revamped their shoes which are trendy, super comfortable and adorable for the kiddos. Now onto the fun! With Willow being so interactive and social these days, Aj and I have such a blast planning activities with her whenever we have down time. Since becoming parents we really cherish our free moments and love to spend time as a family. Here are some easy (because who doesn’t like simple with the little ones) fun activities to plan for your family on Father’s Day…

  1. Take a hike and explore a new area.  Aj and I spent a day in Venice, CA at the canals. We had a great time letting Willow run around, look for fish or birds, and skip rocks. I know it sounds unexciting, but we really had a blast just taking in the scenery and sight-seeing around the area.
  2. Have a movie night. Rent or buy Dad’s favorite movie, and surprise him with it. Have the kiddos make all of his favorite snacks and snuggle in for the night. Aj loves animation and this is always a fun way he connects with Willow. She looks at any movie night as a big treat, and gets so excited to spend it with her Daddy.
  3. Watch a Sunrise Together.  I know this one seems way out of left field. Aj always makes a great point. We are so tired at the end of the day with work and being parents that we never get to sit and watch a sunset. Since Willow is our alarm clock we are up so freaking early that we could catch a sunrise. So this Father’s Day we are going to walk to the beach, bring some blankets and watch the sunrise together.
  4. Make breakfast for dad. There may be a few egg shells in the food, and the presentation may be a little off but I think it is just the cutest thing watch Willow make food for her Dad. She get’s so amped up and tells Aj, “Daddy I’m going to make you a surprise okay”. Pancakes are on the menu for us this Father’s Day.
  5. Build something. Aj has a love for bird houses, as this reminds him of his own Father who would often build them. On Father’s Day we are going to all put together a bird house as a family. I also love this idea because it teaches Willow about nature at the same time.

These are just a few activities that I know Aj will love doing as a family. He is the rock of our family, and its such a beautiful thing to see the love that Willow has for him. When I see him with Willow, I often think to myself, “how did I get so lucky?” and I fall in love all over again. He is hilarious, affectionate, creative, a protector and a role model for our daughter, Here is to celebrating Father’s all over the world on their special day. How do you plan to spend your Father’s Day? Let me know in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Tame the Toddler Tantrum

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Dress | Sunglasses | Sandals


As parents, we love our children unconditionally, yet that does not mean that we don’t run into some daunting situations when our beloved toddler is on the verge of a major meltdown. Tantrums are at times inevitably a part of the growing pains in which your little one may not be able to articulate their needs yet or just have you in the mist of a straight power struggle. Let’s be honest, it is exhausting! Here are a few ways that I deal with my toddler’s tantrums that help keep my sanity on a day to day basis!

  1. Stay Calm

From the countless number of child development books I have read, and scouring the parenting chat rooms to gain knowledge from other’s shared experiences, staying calm is key. Your children act out for attention, and the kind you give them in the heat of a fit is really important, as they really don’t care if it is positive or negative. All they care about is that they are getting a reaction and/or attention from you. Which perpetually can cause them to continue to act out to receive that same attention. So I take a deep breath, use a normal tone and usually wait for Willow to realize she isn’t getting too much attention from me for her behavior.

2. Diversion

Small children usually have small attentions spans. This is a hidden gem when your toddler decides to have a complete meltdown because they can’t hold that death trap of a knife, or climb over the railing of the stairs. Reasoning with Willow usually does not work for me with Willow when a tantrum is brewing. Diverting her attention to other items in the room or asking her questions about different topics until something sticks is how I avoid the screaming and the crying. If we are in the store, I try to distract her by asking her to help me pick out apples, or take her to the sushi counter to let her see the Chef make some rolls. It isn’t 100% effective, but it definitely helps me avoid a major scene.

Oh and let’s just talk about that scene! I read somewhere once that laughing it off, while your kid flails around on the ground is actually a great way to deal with tantrums. It doesn’t give the kids the attention they want. Yet  most parents got nervous about what others would think about their child’s behavior to have that mentality. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that people do judge parent’s reaction to the meltdown, not your child’s actual tantrum. So laugh it off if you can, calmly wait for your child to come back around to reality, pick them up, hug them, talk about the crazy rant after the fact, and pat yourself on the back for being awesome (a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either).

3. Hug It Out

Finally, after your tiny human being returns to their adorable self. Hug it out and breathe a sigh of relief that we made it through the storm! I usually make one comment about how that wasn’t very fun, and try to positively reinforce her good behavior. I really think Willow shows her anger at the beginning of the tantrum, and then I see it go away when she starts crying because I honestly think she feels herself losing control of her emotions. At times this can be a lot for a 2 year old, and if I really take as step back to look at how adults go through life, we still have meltdowns too! Remember these are milestones in your child’s development and they will pass. So even after that wailing, flailing, screaming and God knows what else, you still love them and its best to show it.

 

These are ways that I deal with my daughter and her ever-growing, independent self. How do you deal with your toddler’s emotions?? I would love to hear!

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Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Positive Potty Training with PoGo Potty Panda + GIVEAWAY

Potty training can be a huge feat for any toddler. There are tons of tips and tricks that different parents use to get their little ones diaper-free. I recently found this cute potty training system, called the PoGo Potty Panda Training System. Created by a licensed psychologist and mother of twins, the PoGo Panda reminds your child to use the bathroom at regular intervals, with simple phrases like, “Let’s go potty” and “It’s Time to Go Potty”. The training system centers around the principle of positive reinforcement aimed at fostering a child’s self-esteem and self-efficacy with the PoGo the talking Panda, a book to reinforce going to the bathroom and a sticker set for your little one.

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Willow loves pushing all of the shapes that make the Panda talk, it has great sayings to help praise her when she uses the Potty, like “I’m so proud of you!” and “You’re a superstar”. We consistently read the book everyday to help positively reinforce going to the bathroom. The Pogo Potty System has a great site and newsletter that shares multiple tips for helping you to potty train your little ones (Tips and Newsletter Here). Willow has even started to tell us when she has to go! It has really been an amazing tool to help her be more independent and have control over going to the bathroom. 

Here is the best part! We have teamed up to gift one lucky follower/reader of mine a PoGo Potty Training System to help you start your little one on their way to big kiddo undies! To enter is simple:

  1. Follow @pogopottypanda and @thechicmamas on Instagram.
  2. Tag a parent who love some help with potty training under the Giveaway photo on Instagram.

Giveaway will run until Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, once all entries have been checked. Good Luck! xoxo