Whale of a Bath Time

Jack loves bath time. It’s probably the single thing he doesn’t fight. Except when it’s time to get out. The 2.5-year-old groans. Belly to the tub bottom. Arms scooping at the water as it drains, trying to convince it to stay.

Due to his delight of bathing, we’ve stockpiled bath toys. In just under three years, we’ve collected enough last ten children. And, as with any daily routines, all his “squishies” (rubber reptiles, dinosaurs, etc.) must take part in the water party. Every. Single. Bath.

I’ve been searching for a bath toy scoop/collector for months. Sure, the usual stores carry the usual turtle bath scoop. But, I needed something more. Big surprise here. I wanted something a little slicker.

Then I came across Boon Inc., started by one mom with a messy toddler bathtub. Sounds exactly right. A few clicks later, I discovered a surplus of innovative baby and toddler gear. From sippy cups and banana peelers to diaper caddys and storage containers. Boon features products for the modern parent. And super unique.

I immediately purchased the Whale Pod, which fits “an ocean of bath toys” inside and can be left to drip dry. Creates less mess. My absolute favorite phrase.

Next up, the Grass and Lawn countertop drying rack. Little flowers to hold Ella’s bottles. Seriously. Too cute.

Have you already discovered Boon? What products do you like?


How to be a Mom

I’ve always admired my mom. But now a mother myself, I understand her. I’ve leaned on her. Cried to her. Yelled at her. And will always rely on her. As I approach 30 with two kids, two dogs, a house and a husband. I still need her. Almost daily. I even feel bad sometimes. Like I should let the world have her.

It’s hard to pin our best memory together. I could ramble on over millions with my dad. He was a teacher. Summers off. We’d spend time on nature walks. Feeding birds. Playing ball. Camping. All my favorite activities are qualities from my dad. But the things that make me round are traits of my mom.

I have her round crystal blue eyes. Actually, that’s just my favorite inheritance of hers. I’m pretty much her same image. My husband’s always sighing over our similar personality traits.

“Sometimes I think you’re more OCD than she is,” he always jokes over my freakish cleanliness.

My mom taught me the basics of life. The importance of a healthy meal. A classic sense of style. How to shop the best deals. To take a little time for yourself. And never assume someone else will do it for you.

She always wore someone else’s shoes. Teaching me compassion. She encouraged my education. And raised an independent daughter with complete happiness.

Most importantly, she taught me that regardless of endless responsibilities, nothing is more important than family. She never missed a game. Even as a full-time working mom.

She’s strong. Smiles at someone else’s happiness. Would rather give, than receive. Adores her grandchildren. Loves her stubborn husband. And will always remind me I’m blessed.

So, the favorite memory with my mom? Too many to remember.

Decorating sugar cookies every Christmas Eve. Green and red sprinkles. Those hard little silver balls. I would get bored of the millions of cookies. Move on to something else. There she would always be. Red apron. Arms caked in flour. Rolling and cutting out holiday shapes.

Dressing our best for Mother’s Day. Flowing silk dresses. A fancy brunch. And always capturing our day next to any flowers in bloom.

Some of my favorites at the Fox Theatre. Pretty dresses for the Nutcracker Ballet or Cats. Our special time together. I always dreamed of becoming a ballerina. I think she did too.

Or even during my high school senior year. When I gave her little reason to smile. She still traveled with me to horse shows. Gingerly held my horse while I got ready. He’d rub his head against her back and she’d startle, swat him away. She didn’t particularly like horses. But made the effort for me. Even knew all the tiny details. Like how to braid his hair.

But now I know, that’s just what mom’s do.
So, happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks showing me how to be a mom.


Discover Natural. It Smells Great.

A part-time working mom of two kids, two dogs and a husband, I rarely have time to stroll specialty stores. My fancy for shopping has fallen to low priority. Along with my haircuts, pedicures and date nights. So, I've gone viral. Feeding my shopping addiction by browsing online marketplaces.

I recently discovered Abe’s Market, the online marketplace with great natural products. We’ve gravitated towards organic foods for years, especially with two growing babies. But after Jack’s eczema breakout last summer, I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy natural products. Creams. Lotions. Toys. Anything. And Abe’s Market has met this family’s demand.

Abe’s is currently running the “Discover Natural” promotional program, allowing customers to choose any three free samples. They’ll deliver them to your door for just $2.

I sampled Mayron’s Baby Goods Barrier & Diaper Cream, Babo Botanicals Oatmilk Calendula Moisturizing Baby Wash and Lotion and Paupaiz Coffee’s Organic French Roast.

The coffee tasted as if I had just stepped outside and picked the beans. 

The diaper cream smelled more like flowers. 

And I’ve already ordered more Babo baby wash and lotion. Its worked wonders on Ella’s cradle cap. And she still smells beautiful by the next bath date.

Check out the program, there's a crazy amount of free samples. Join me. And fix your shopping addiction at Abe’s. Let me know what you think! Dying to hear of other great Abe's products.


Who Needs Legos

We've been collecting wine quarks for years. Dating ones from nights to remember. Displayed in a vase. But now Jack discovered a new use for them. Guess he doesn't need anymore Legos.

Snapshot Series: Play for Two

The post below is part of my Snapshot Series, an e-journal of my children. Like pages in a diary, I'll share the moments of laughter and smiles that keep my world turning. Captured like photographs. So when Jack leaves for college or Ella goes on her first date, I'll have this to remember. Read the series intro here.

Ella: 4 months, 5 weeks
Jack: 2 years, 7 months

In the blog world, Wednesdays aren’t for words. Known virally as “Wordless Wednesdays.” But, I have to share a big moment. The kind that catches your stare. Makes you smile. And gone before you can capture it on film. Saved just in your memory. Giving you butterflies every time you remember.

Sunday was the day before Justin left for a week of business. I was dressing for the day. Jack and Ella playing at my feet. Justin’s legs lounged around them. All of us crunched in my walk-in closet.

Laying on her back, Ella caught grip on a sweater belt hanging loosely from above.  The petite 19-week-old whisked it about. Having recently discovered the fun in shaking things. Her delight caught Jack’s attention. He snatched the soft thin belt from her hands. But before we could scold him, he started twirling it over Ella.

“Wee, wee, wee!” He sang. Small jumps accompanying his play.
Ella laughed. And laughed. Straight from her belly.

It was the very first time my kids played together. And the first time someone made Ella laugh harder than being tickled.

It was the kind of simplicity that I hope to never forget. 

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Welcoming the Ultimate Blog Party 2012

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

Welcome 5 Minutes for Mom’s UBPers!

I’m Leah. Former journalist turned part-time working mom of two. Jack, an insanely active toddler, and Ella, a smiley happy baby. Wife to Justin, a super humorous dad.

A bachelor’s in journalism and career in communications, I breathe to write. My family is my passion. I fancy a challenge. Get high off the outdoors. Enjoy clever parenting. Live the lake-loving, bonfire-relaxing, snowfort-making Michigan life.

Since we hitched, Justin and I’ve driven peddle to the floor. Married in 2008. Homeowners in May 2009. Jack joined October 2009. And Ella November 2011. Always said we’d stroll along, but life’s no perfect walk in the park, right?

Jack is my mini-twin, but Justin’s parallel personality. Desires speed. Craves thrill. Adores the 4-wheeler. Dreams big.

Ella’s more my style. Enjoys peacefulness. Adapts to the flow. Makes friends with anyone. Welcomes sloppy brother kisses. And always laughing about life.

I started Tiny Mitten Secrets (TMS) in June 2011 after realizing the time-consuming treasure hunt it takes to find sustainable kid things without sacrificing stylish standards. I don’t believe in “mom jeans” and love trendy kid stuff. I’m not typical. Nor is my family. Craftiness has uncovered many parent brilliancies shared in TMS.

So, what’s with the name? As 28-ish-year-old mom of two, I have a very small Mommy Club to draw resources from. When I need something, I have to dig.

“Tiny” is for little loves. “Mitten” represents my first ah-ha parenting discovery. During the first Michigan winter with a curious little 18-month-old boy, I needed mittens. I paraded stores. Only discovered fleece, unlined and not resistant to water. A daycare teacher informed me of the zip-up, waterproof, durable mittens found at sporting good stores. Oh, and my family’s rooted in Michigan, a.k.a. the Mitt. And “Secrets” signifies the simple things I’ve uncovered while navigating the maze of parenting without getting trapped in original.

Welcome. Discover. Enjoy!


No Butts - or Buttons - About It

This morning, Jack decided he didn’t want to wear pants. Says the two-year-old who poops his pants daily. I was applying my face for the workday when I heard my husband.

“Where’d your pants go buddy?” Justin half-laughed.
Jack didn’t answer. Humming a melody and jumping his new trains across the coffee table.
“How about you put your pants back on?” Justin suggested, as he casually chased the little naked bum around the living room.
Jack giggles.

I started thinking about our yearlong potty training escapade.
“Oh just let him go,” I sigh.
Heck, maybe no pants means yes potty.

It’s not that Jack won’t go No. 1 or 2 in the potty. Shoot, he pees in the potty every time we change his diaper. Has even squeezed out two’s numerous times. He doesn’t fight the toilet. Big or small. He brawls over the actual changing.

The kid would contently sit in his own poop for hours. Walks stiff-legged when his pull up is urine soaked. Will say, “I got to hide. Going poop.” And go to his room until business done.

We’ve tried cheerios in the toilet. His aim is great now. A “surprise box” for every attempt. Just more freak-outs over more treats. Bribery. I’m not ashamed. Different toilet seats, little potties and stools. Doesn’t make a difference. And even the straight switch to “big boy pants.” Pooped twice, peed three times in one day – in his underwear.

So, my last attempt before going completely pants-less? Easy-to-remove clothing. Jack’s mastered taking on/off his diaper. So, I’ve simplified the potty routine by only dressing him in drawstring pants. No more button pants, overalls or jeans. Just cotton pants and sweats. Elastic waists. Easy for little hands to remove.

In Jack terms that just means more naked time.

A few of my favorite pants shopping spots:


The Veggie Challenge

Jack devoured vegetables when he was a baby. Platefuls of cooked veggies. Just plain. Not buttered, coated in cheese or sautéed. No joke. I used to exhale with gratitude for Jack’s eating habits. One less battle to fight.

That was true until he turned two. My baby grew into a warrior. Battling his parents over everything. I’m convinced his favorite phrase is, “No, don’t want to ________” (insert whatever I’ve suggested).  Terrible two’s doesn’t do the year justice. More like borderline schizophrenic toddler with superhuman strength.

Jack’s desire to question and brawl over everything even joins us at the table. One night he can’t eat the carrots quick enough. The next he’s literally gagging on them.

“What’s this?” He asks. Every. Single. Night.
“Cauliflower. You ate it all last night,” I respond.
“Me don’t like cauliflower,” he snubs. Lips frowning. Briskly flips away his plate.

Living with a curious and strong-willed toddler has made the hubs and I pretty darn clever at mind games and sneak attacks. After all, we’re in a war, right?

Justin and I both enjoy fresh veggies. And I’m determined to retain Jack’s interest (or at least trick him). I’ve found a few simple tools that help include and prep vegetables for meals/snacks:

Fresh, Frozen or Canned?
A physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Texas said that frozen vegetables maybe more healthful than some fresh produce sold in supermarkets. Frozen veggies are often picked at peak ripeness and most full of nutrients, while fresh are typically picked before ripeness to be shipped around the country.

On the other side, frozen veggies are blanched or steamed to kill bacteria prior to freezing. Such techniques cause nutrients like vitamins C and B to leach out.

A New York Times article stated that canned peas and carrots lost 85 to 95 percent of their vitamin C within a six-month period.  Plus, canned veggies often are full of added sodium to preserve veggies.

So what’s the solution? Buy in-season veggies fresh and off-season frozen.

Pick 'n Choose
Look for broccoli that is sturdy with dark-green spears and light buds. No yellowing. With cauliflower, choose tight white heads without brown or yellow spots. Shop for asparagus with sturdy spears and tight heads, ends shouldn’t appear desiccated or woody. Fresh asparagus will snap when bent.

Corn should be in pale to dark green husks with moist silks and heavy to the hand. Pick small, thin, firm green beans. Summer and Zucchini Squash shouldn’t have breaks, gashes or soft spots. Smaller squashes are sweeter and have fewer seeds.

Chop ‘em Up!
Cutting up vegetables and storing in clear Tupperware makes it easier to include them in meals regularly. It also increases the chance that you’ll actually cook with them.

It's All in the Prep
A 2007 study by The Journal of Food Science concluded that microwaved and pressure-cooked vegetables retained 90 percent of their vitamin C. Steaming and boiling caused a 22 to 34 percent loss of vitamin C. Steam or microwave your veggies to reduce the loss of water-soluble vitamins.

Boiling tip: Add a pinch of salt to boiling water to enhance the flavor.
Steaming tip: Add cinnamon sticks, lemongrass or ginger to steaming process to add flavor.
Sautéing tip: Cut into bite-size to cook all the way though. Heat the pan first over relatively high heat, add oil. Then, add veggies once oil shimmers.
Stir-frying tip: Best done with canola oil. Toss in olive oil once finished to add flavor.
Grilling tip: Use tongs to hold veggies over stove’s gas cook top to grill veggies all year long.

Sneaky, Stealth-like Veggies
I love anything that tricks Jack. So grinding up and stirring veggies into a pasta sauce brings out my evil laugh. Another creative idea is to chop up and add veggies into scrambled eggs. A favorite stealth attack is to steam vegetables and stir into Mac ‘n Cheese or rice with cream of chicken soup.

For more information on shopping, preparing and cooking healthy vegetables, visit Eating Well’sGuide to Cooking 20 Vegetables.

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The Rubber Spoon: Infant Feeding Guide

I’m no expert at infant feeding. That’s my Mom. What I do know is how to research. Jack, now 2.5 years old, is a great eater. He started using sippy cups at six months. Eagerly accepted finger foods. Was weaned from the bottle by one. Never ate pureed meat from a jar. And still eats vegetables. Still. I credit my Mom’s background and my addiction to providing the right tools to our mealtime successes.

Last week we started four-month-old Ella on infant rice cereal, after the pediatrician gave us a thumbs up. Despite my fanatical feeding guidelines with Jack just two years ago, I had completely forgotten the rules. What to give and when. Portion sizes. First foods.

So, I dusted off the books and outlined Ella’s first year with foods:

“Until four months, your baby’s diet should consist of breastmilk and/or formula (with iron), but by four to six months, you can begin adding solid foods. Talk with your pediatrician at the four-month check up to see when she feels your infant should begin eating solid foods.” – American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)*

Ella's first taste of food. She liked.

Four to Six Months

The AAP suggests introducing just one new food at time, and waiting at least four days before starting another to determine any allergies.

Start with 1 teaspoon of semi-liquid iron fortified cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula, then increase to 1 tablespoon of cereal, and start introducing pureed vegetables and fruits.

The AAP recommends that within 2 – 3 months of starting solids, your infant’s daily diet should include breastmilk or formula, cereal, vegetables and fruits, distributed among three meals.

Sample Menu
Formula/Breastmilk: 24 – 36 oz. (5 – 7 oz. every 4 – 5 hours)

- Early morning: 5 - 7 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Breakfast: ¼ cup infant cereal mixed with formula/breastmilk
- Morning snack: 5 - 7 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Lunch: ½ jar (1/4 cup) pureed vegetable
- Afternoon snack: 5 – 7 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Dinner: ¼ cup infant cereal, ½ jar (1/4 cup) pureed fruit
- Bedtime: 5 - 7 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Water

Six to Eight Months

I hate pureed meats. Makes me gag. So in order to meet the protein requirements in Jack’s diet when he was an infant (and my plans for Ella), I served cottage cheese, yogurt and cooked/mashed tofu or beans until he could swallow shredded chicken, ground turkey and cubed cheese.

I also began introducing a sippy cup at six months. Helped ease the bottle dependency and increase the interest in solids. I started with water, then some formula. Once he had it mastered, I slowly cut out bottles by replacing bottle feedings with formula in sippy cups at mealtimes. Around nine months, he was only having a bottle nightcap.

Sample Menu
Formula/Breastmilk: 20 – 32 oz. (3 – 5 feedings)

- Early morning: 4 – 6 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Breakfast: 1.5 tablespoons infant cereal
- Morning snack: 4 – 6 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Lunch: Jar (½ cup) pureed fruit and ½ cup yogurt
- Afternoon snack: 4 – 6 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Dinner: 1.5 tablespoons infant cereal and jar pureed vegetable
- Bedtime: 6 – 7 oz. formula/breastmilk

Eight to Twelve Months

Finger foods! Once baby can sit, it’s time to learn self-feeding. The AAP believes most infants can begin learning around eight months.

Finger foods include: Well-cooked sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots or peas, small pieces of bread, wafer-type cookies, crackers, cheerios, Gerber puffs, scrambled egg, banana, strawberries, peaches, pears, pasta, rice, ground turkey, etc. 

Sample Menu
Formula/Breastmilk: 16 – 32 oz. (2 -3 feedings)

- Breakfast: ½ cup infant cereal or scrambled egg and 4 – 6 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Morning snack: 4 – 7 oz. formula/breastmilk, ½ cup cubed cheese
- Lunch: 1 cup fruit, 1 cup yogurt and water
- Afternoon Snack: 7 – 8 oz. formula/breastmilk and crackers
- Dinner: 1 cup vegetable, ½ cup noodles or rice and 4 – 6 oz. formula/breastmilk
- Bedtime: 6 – 8 oz. bottle

Keep in mind this is my sample menu, and all babies are different. Just offering a guide for you to do with what you want. Email me your successes or suggestions, tinymittensecrets@gmail.com. Would love to hear!

For what NOT to feed your baby or toddler, visit my pervious post about it.

And stay tuned for my Toddler Feeding Guide to help encourage and keep healthy eating habits. Now as Jack would say, "cheers!"

The American Academy of Pediatrics Caring for Your Baby and Young Child (birth to age 5)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby & Toddler
Babycenter.com’s Age-by-Age Feeding Guide 

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