Stepping Up to the Job

For a few months, my 21-month-old son has been hinting at potty training. Shame on me for ignoring the signs and listening to the, “he’s very young for potty training” comments. He notifies us when he goes number two. Gleefully accepts the tinier than average toilet seat. And, prefers to watch “Elmo’s Potty Time” over anything else.

At Jack’s 18-month check up, the pediatrician noted that most boys aren’t skilled in the bathroom until closer to three. My ambitious son feels otherwise.

Last night, he tinkled into the toilet.
Looked at me with unsure bewilderment. “Uh-oh.”
I instantly cheered, praised and danced.
He beamed and shouted, “Elmo! Elmo!”

Not only hours earlier we’d had his first parent/teacher conference with his daycare toddler teacher. She’d expressed his potty time involvement, noting all her tots were trained by two. Of course, “with the help at home.”

We’d fit Jack’s bathroom throne with the miniature seat months ago, but hadn’t been consistent with the exercise. It’s officially game time.

To complete the venture (we’ve got the books, DVDs and all caregivers on deck), we need a reliable stepping stool.

True fashion, I need something unique and practical. No engraved name, since two littles will be sharing the same stool. Tall and sturdy enough for ease. After sifting the Internet and electronic pages of Etsy, I had a light bulb.

Jack and I can make our own creation!

Ikea ($15-25), Michaels ($15) and other places sell unfinished wood stepping stools. Our basement is bursting with rainbow colors of paint. Why not let the little guy express himself on the ever-so-special stool? For all, it is his palace.

Photos will follow once Jack carves out time to complete the task. But for now, some inspiration.


Time to Enjoy the Beautiful Treasures

The weekend was a twister.

Jack witnessed his first marriage, serving as ring barrier for my cousin (also known as Lady Antebellum for his resemblance to the tall blonde). We drove over eight hours to the bottom of Kentucky for Jack to execute his duties, which he did in his typical fashion. Quick short-stepped run. Devious grin.

My post today isn’t about some fascinating discovery I unhatched while road tripping. Nor is it about appealing advice I found while quickly sifting through a parent magazine. Between Elmo DVDs and markers, there wasn’t much time for reading.

Today’s theme started 7 a.m. Friday, when I took the oath not to worry tiny troubles into large ones. I was determined not to miss a single smile of memories over the three-day weekend. The thought came as I woke Jack with kisses and he grinned in his sleep.

Tiny moments. Tiny treasures. All easily broken by the reality that we were 45 minutes behind scheduled departure.

My secret pledge proved success as we eased through the activities. Jack filled the rehearsal with kisses to the flower girl and laughing chases with older cousins after dessert.  Wedding day rain kept us out of the pool, but not out of puddles.

Jack beat my expectations. He was charming, social and polite through the wedding formals. His restlessness defeated him during the ceremony, so Justin took him outside to burn calories. Justin was also sucking in every moment. He’d taken a simple video of Jack throwing rocks outside the church. An everyday favorite of Jack’s. Easily forgotten. Preciously caught on film.

Jack ate the catfish. Loved the punch. And, couldn't get on the dance floor soon enough. He welcomingly interrupted the bride and groom's first dance. After that, he only left the floor for cake, a sip of water and to hide under tables.

                         It was a weekend of shiny, beautiful treasures. Not missed, but savored.


Tiny Tools for the Table

Last night I watched my toddler struggle to pin eggs on his tiny plastic fork. He’s got the concept down, but the equipment is making it hard to score. And yes, we had breakfast for dinner (My husband and mom are rolling their eyes at this post).

The pint-size plastic baby utensil sets are wonderful for beginners, but this kid has been trying to master the art of eating for half his life.

A few weeks ago, my neighbor gave us a few of her old children's flatware and my-oh-my, Jack’s an all-star! Funny how something so minuet as grasping a fork can make you cheer like the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in Game 7.
Sorry for the sports comparison, I used to be a sports reporter.

Back to focus. So, after a small bit of research, I found children’s flatware isn’t cheap. Cute, but not cheap. Say, a 3-piece stainless steel set on Amazon for $20. Unless my tot’s headed to a dinner party, I think something basic and inexpensive would suit his needs. Most large retailers (Target, Walmart, etc.) carry rubber-handled utensils for under $5.

But, as always, I just couldn’t settle for the shortcut. 

I returned a dozen times to the adorable, perfectly crafted flatware set.  I started to dig and dig, finally discovering the smart idea of another mom: use cocktail forks! Those are affordable, ever so sparkly and perfectly sized for a tiny hand! They come in packs of four (usually) and are typically around $10-$20 for a decent set. 

Keep in mind, kid's flatware isn't recommended for little ones under 3, but Jack's been using the plastic since he was seven months. Drum sticks at first. Now more of a device to scare the dogs away. 

Can’t wait to see the proud smile on Jack’s face when he consistently scores a few bites. He just gets so proud of himself. His tiny moments like that make my heart beat.

P.S. Land of Nod has some super, duper crafty utensils.


Not Another Cars-Themed Toddler Room

We're expecting our second child and, naturally, we have to change the nursery into a toddler's room. Since our almost two-year-old won't be a tot for long, I wanted to get some more miles out of the new theme.

I used to babysit a best friend's boys and the two munchkins (tots at the time) absolutely loved the movie Cars. It had just been released and the two enjoyed watching it over and over and over again. We played cars. Colored Cars pictures. Even told new Cars-inspired stories. The Cars phenomenon was still fresh then, and Lightening McQueen was only beginning to leave tread marks on boys' bedrooms.  As I began brainstorming ideas for my toddler's new room recently, I couldn't help but think of Cars. Thanks to today's overboard abundance of Cars-themed items, I was struggling to think beyond the true red and blue kid room idea. Cars has not only taken over the shelves of boys' bedroom ideas, but also my think-tank of inspiration!

I refuse to buy the Cars-themed bed, accessories, sheets or comforter. Jack likes Cars, but Elmo and Curious George are definitely higher on the favorite characters list (still not giving into the oh-so bright red)! I started thinking about what my son likes most. He's heavy into animals. Loves swimming. Constantly whines to go outside. 

The outdoors! 

After researching for hours, I decided to look into basic cabin decor. I discovered an overwhelming amount of pillows, wall hangings, sheets, lamps, night lights and many others fitted with bears, deer, moose and fish. Perfect! Even more so, my son's nickname by all is "Bear" and he is pretty grouchy at time (loving Terrible 2's!!). The piece of art to the left is my inspiration for my son's new room. It's almost creating itself!

What Tiny Mittens is all about...

I may not fully understand blogging or possess a knack for computers. What I do know is how to write, and I believe I’m discovering a new nitche in parenting every day. So, please stick with me as I attempt to share my findings, ideas and advice with you.

I started Tiny Mittens because I realized the time-consuming treasure hunt it takes to find children’s clothes, toys, books, activities and resources that are creditable, comfortable and reliable without sacrificing style for what’s best. As a 28-year-old mom, I don’t believe in giving in to “mom jeans” or having my son wear a Spiderman bathing suit because it fits the typical family mold. I’m not typical. And my son doesn’t even like Spiderman (well yet, anyway).

Why the name Tiny Mitten Secrets? Well as a first-time mom with an abundance of single friends and only a handful of married, I didn't have many resources. When I needed something, I had to dig. During our first Michigan winter as a family of three (well five with the dogs), I was prompted by daycare to provide mittens for my toddler. The only ones I could find were fleece, not lined and not resistant to water. How would that work for an insanely curious 18-month-old? I mentioned my struggle to my son's daycare teacher and she suggested zip-up, waterproof, durable mittens found at sporting good stores. Genius. Tiny Mitten Secrets was born.

Tiny Mittens is for parents, grandparents, caregivers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins - basically anyone who has little hands to love and care for. This blog strives to offer discoveries and ideas without surrendering the coolness that makes us young, hip and ourselves. Just because we’re parents, doesn’t mean we have to lose our edge on awesome.

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