Now that I have the job of stocking up on baby gear for the twinsers (3 months to go!!) I realize how much I’ve forgotten. And this is from the person who used to be able to recite the Baby Bargains book by heart.

(New moms: Baby Bargains = the consumer reports of baby crap. If this is your first time around the block, don’t set foot into a Baby Superstore without your copy.)

So before amnesia sets in, I’m documenting my 5 favorite things to make your life with toddlers easier. Hope it helps you!

1. Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat

Forward facing
POUNDS: 20-100 pounds
HEIGHT: 27-57″

They should call this “THE LAST CAR SEAT YOU’LL EVER HAVE TO BUY!!”

As soon as your little one can move into a forward-facing carseat, buy this one.

We made the mistake of going from the infant car seat to the Britax to this.

We could have skipped the Britax altogether and gone straight to this bad boy. Young toddlers will feel like total hotshots with this seat’s built-in cup holders and secret compartments perfect for stashing LEGOs and Hotwheels. And when your toddler turns into a preschooler (overnight), voila — here’s your new booster, friend.


2. Bumkins Waterproof SuperBibsBumkins Waterproof Superbibs

Why don’t I ever hear moms complain about how hard it is to find a bib that:

– Doesn’t soak through

– Doesn’t deteriorate the first couple of times through the wash

– Kids don’t rip off easily

– Isn’t so tight that it strangles your kid

– Doesn’t completely suck?

I have no idea. But I do know that these bibs lasted us through two toddlers in a row, and I think there are still some up in the attic waiting for rounds 3 and 4.


3. Multi-layered mattress protection

The best part, of course, is the product shot.

When your little Houdini graduates from the crib to the bed (we went straight to twin beds at around 18 months for both boys), you’ll want to do everything you can to protect their new twin mattresses.

Because as far as I’m concerned, they’ll be using these mattresses until they move out.

Here’s your twin bed setup:

  • First the Vinyl Zippered Mattress Cover from Target. It zips around the entire mattress.
  • Then a regular quilted cotton mattress pad like this one.
  • Then the waterproof sheet protector as demonstrated by our lovely model. (This way if there is an accident during the night, or god forbid a stomach bug, you might luck out and only have to change this layer and up of bedding.)
  • Then the fitted sheet. (Unlike our fine model above, I put the sheet protector under the fitted sheet.)


4. Ergorapido Ion Bagless Coordless Stick and Hand Vac by ElectroluxErgorapido coordless stick vac

Keep it in or near your kitchen (I’m still trying to find the perfect place to conceal it but have it close enough to make it easy to use). If I used this after every meal, my floor would never be as disgusting as it is this morning.

Note: I had an earlier model of this vacuum and can say that the Ion battery version makes all the difference.



BONUS: Use the code to the left to get 20% off all of their sites

I’ve been using these guys since they launched and they keep getting more awesome. I always get free, next day delivery, and their customer service is amazing.

I’ve use them for monthly diapers & wipes (they sell Kirkland brand wipes, which are awesome), sippy cups, cases of baby food, baby wash, books/toys. And for fun you can always throw in a tube of fancy mascara, laundry detergent, or throw pillows from one of their sister sites.

They also now offer a Baby Registry, which is WORLDS above the baby superstores since shipping is FREE as long as you order is over $49. And what better incentive for your gift giver to put that money toward your gift instead of the outrageous shipping Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby charge. Really, I hate those stores.


So those are my faves. What are yours?


This post contains affiliate links.



I’ve taken the boys to Florida to see their grandparents two or three times now, and I’m starting to get pretty good at the whole flying solo bit. (Even after Isaiah’s breakdown at LGA earlier today.)

So here’s what I’ve got to share. Feel free to add to the list in the comments–as we all know, it takes a village.

Each child over the age of two carries a backpack

And not just for fun. Inside said backpack is everything the kiddo needs for the flight, including their own diapers/pullups, snacks, toys, electronic devices, books, and art supplies. “You really make your kid carry his own diapers?” Hells yea!

Before the flight, find somewhere — anywhere — for them to run

I love the Tampa airport for the play area that always seems to be deserted in the Blue terminal. (I’m far less afraid of germs than I am of wound-up kids on flight.) But most airports we pass through aren’t so accommodating.

At LaGuardia earlier this week, which is small and crowded, I had no choice but to let them run like maniacs on this window-lined runway.

“That looks dangerous,” I heard a 20-something flight attendant say to her cohort. “Actually, it looks like fun,” he replied. Hey, at least they were contained by that metal bar.

Even on short flights, plan two meals.

Here’s why: your flight may only cross over one meal (i.e. lunch) but you have to consider door-to-door time, not to mention delays. This morning, I fed the boys cereal bars in the car (7am), egg sandwiches at the airport (10am), snacks on the plane (10am-noon), and pbj’s in the car on the way home (1pm). I’ve tried to substitute snacks for meal #2 in the past, and it wasn’t pretty.

Don’t bank on in-flight entertainment.

As much as I love Jet Blue,  I’ve planned on their personal television devices for two hours of free babysitting only to have the satellite be out of commission for the entire flight.

So plan for backup entertainment. And no, that does not mean math worksheets and Arthur books. It means a full-charged iPhone loaded with at least one of their favorite movies and some new apps. You can save your super mom business for when your feet are on the ground.

You can actually pee alone.

Just look around for a grandmotherly type and ask her if she can sit with your little darlings while you run to the lav. I’ve never had anyone say no. Ok, you’re leaving your kids with a complete stranger, but how much harm can they do in full view of everyone else, in a highly screened, closely monitored environment? And even if your kid gets a little freaked out (mine haven’t, FYI), it’s a  hell of a lot better than them touching everything in sight in those filthy filthy airplane bathrooms. (And you do know not to ever use the airplane bathroom sink, right?)

Have someone in charge give them a little scare.

I’m deeply proud of the fear I’ve instilled in my children when it comes to officers of the law. Which as far as I’m concerned includes security guards, flight attendants, cashiers, and anyone wearing anything close to a uniform.

Earlier today, Isaiah launched into a Category 5 tantrum  because he wanted to sit in the single stroller occupied by his younger brother. The tantrum lasted from our gate all the way down to baggage claim, where our car service driver was nowhere to be found.

Exhausted, crowded, and faced with trying to pull 3 overstuffed suitcases off the conveyor belt while keeping an eye on the stroller, my way too heavy tote, and a child who was flailing on the ground, I had no choice but to pull out the big guns. As a security guard passed by, I pretended to be scared. Isaiah immediately sat up to see what was up. “Police officer,” I whispered. And the guard played along! He got a really mean face (a bit too mean, actually), and said, “LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.” Problem solved. Mister tantrum piped down.

So that’s what I’ve got. How about you?

Seeking joy is new for me. I blame it on being a Capricorn–we’re all about accomplishing things, climbing up the mountain, working hard to achieve more. Which is probably why “working” on joy is so what I need.

There are many wonderful books out there about joy and how to uncover it. But in the interest of mini-resolutions and starting small, here are the simple places I’m finding joy.

1) Going to bed early

For the first time since becoming a parent, I’m getting to bed before midnight. Because there’s no way I can be the parent I want to be when I am exhausted. I have no idea why this didn’t occur to me earlier.

2) Making my bed every morning

Back when I had a newborn and my mom stayed a month to help me, she would make my bed every morning. She makes it PERFECTLY–wrinkles in the sheets don’t stand a chance with her. Back then, taking time to make my bed seemed like a time luxury I couldn’t afford. But this is a new season, and having a beautifully made bed is a wonderful thing.

Hannah Marcotti puts it perfectly in her Making Space Cleanse:

“Making your bed is a gift from your present self to your future self.”

3) Drinking lemon water and tea 

(Especially in place of my nightly glass of wine.) Another little step inspired by Hannah that feels like a gift to myself with every sip.

4) Getting out of the house on Saturday mornings

My husband works out from 10:30–noon every Saturday morning. Which was making Saturdays feel like a “6th workday” for me and the kids–leaving us all resentful and cranky. This month, I’ve started slipping out at 8am for a yoga class and coffee/writing/wandering. Carving out those 2 hours for myself has made a world of difference in how I feel the entire weekend.

5) Letting go of my to-do list and being present with my children

I started noticing that things fell apart just after breakfast every day. I would be in the kitchen dealing with the meal aftermath and yelling “go in the playroom–I’ll be there in a minute” over and over again. Inevitably, I’d finally stop doing dishes (in a huff) once someone started crying over something.

I’m learning to look at those parts of the day that always end up with yelling and crying and trying different strategies. In this case, I’ve learned that if I leave the dishes and just sit with the boys while they do Legos or trains or whatever, no one cries or fights.

The even more amazing part is, once I give them my full attention–even if I’m just sitting with my coffee and observing them–I can usually slip off and finish the dishes or do a quick email check without anyone falling apart.

By giving them attention up front, it changes the result. And it’s teaching me that there is value in just sitting and being.

6) Giving thanks, and teaching my children to do the same

This is the root of joy.