Potty Training with Potette

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) It’s almost that time – getting the twins to own their big girl status. In the coming weeks, we’ll be potty training with Potette, a 2-in-1 travel potty system. We’re bracing ourselves, but at the same time looking forward to the independence they’ll gain.

potette

What is the Potette?

The Potette Plus is both a travel potty and a trainer seat – giving your ‘lil one a safe, sanitary potty experience. It folds away and makes potty training easy and convenient – especially for moms of multiples!

For travel, you can fold up the seat and put it in the backpack so you can use it in public restrooms or (like we’ve had to) at an emergency pull-off. The legs fold in and it comes with liners and sanitary bags to dispose of the waste.

At home, you can use it with the legs (like a standard potty training seat) or using it as a seat to make your home toilet not so big and scary. Check out this how-to video from the Potette website to see what I’m talking about:

Why It Works

For us, potty training with Potette makes a lot of sense. With two to train, we need something easy and convenient, something we can carry with us and not worry about accidents on the go. The backpack ensures our normal diaper bag won’t get yucky and it even fits on the girls’ back!

potette_backpack

The girls enjoy books, so the fact that it comes with “Quest for Cloud Kingdom: A Petey Potette Training Tale” makes our job 10x easier – they’ll be reading how to conquer the task of potty training with a friendly pal. The size is also perfect for our ‘lil ones – our previous potty is too high for them to climb on yet and doesn’t have the dual features of being a stand-alone seat and insert for the “big girl potty”.

Isla is the first of the twins giving us signs of wanting to potty. She was so excited to unwrap the Potette at Christmas, carrying it around for hours. While she has only gone successfully once, she knows when it’s time to go – just needs to do it! 

potette plus

Where to Buy

You can find the Potette Plus (including the backpack, liners, sanity bags, and even the Petey Potette story pack) online and in baby stores nationwide. I recommend picking one up on Amazon so it comes right to your doorstep. You can learn more about the Potette from Kalencolm here.

What’s Next?

Time to dedicate a weekend to pretzels, water, and the Potette Plus! What tips do you have for us?


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Scrape-A-Round: Get Rid of the Snow!

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) I received a Scrape-A-Round in exchange for this review as part of my partnership with US Family Guide.

What is up with this weather lately? In the last seven days, I have worn flip flops, shorts, capris, and a winter coat (clearly not all together). We went from 80 degrees to 28 degrees in that time. Beautiful, green grass and blooming flowers to ice and snow. Ugh. Where is my beach?

scrape-a-round

The good thing is that I was prepared for the snow – my Scrape-A-Round is still in the van and helps me get rid of the snow (at least from the windows). Covering 18 inches of the windshield at a time, I can quickly and easily tackle this (hated) task. If I were to guess, it takes about half the time to clean off the snow (as compared to a traditional ice scraper).

If you remember, I shared details on the Scrape-A-Round back earlier in the winter, but I finally got a chance to use it and here’s how that went:

This feels like an efficient method of snow removal, but I’ll admit (as demonstrated in the video), it’s tough to use on the Durango because of the reaching across. I actually don’t have a hard time using it on the van.

Hopefully this weekend brings the last time for breaking this winter essential out. I’m so ready for tank tops and flip flops. Think ahead to winter ’17 and pick up a Scrape-A-Round for next year!

What do you keep in your winter car kit? 


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My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1

Have you ever been disappointed in yourself? Sickened by what you saw in the mirror? That was me just about six years ago. I was at my heaviest weight and scared for the person I’d become. That’s why I started running, and why I refuse to be stopped. Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

half marathon journey

If you’ve been following along with my Instagram, you probably know that I started training for the 2017 Pittsburgh Half Marathon in December. Even though I did some running in 2015 (including finishing last but placing first for my age group in a local 5k), I really wasn’t committed to it and it really wasn’t doing anything to help me lose the weight I’d gained after having the twins. It truly was a “started from the bottom now we here” moment, pulling my running shoes out and hitting the dreadmill.

Combined with YFit, I’ve been faithful at working out since December and it is paying off. I shared my successes with my Whole30 journey earlier this week, but I know it is also due to my dedication to running, resting, and lifting.

Why the Half?

I decided to sign up for the half again this year for several reasons:

  • I know I can do it. I know if I did anything less (a relay leg or two), I’d be sad like I was at the 2014 race.
  • I need to do it. If I don’t set a high goal for myself, it will be very easy to quit. Quitter I am not.
  • There’s totally a chance to PR. My first half was quite an accomplishment, and even though I’m currently about 20 pounds heavier than I was back then, I’m fitter and improving with every day of training.

Training Plan

The goal was to train for a 5k using the Couch to 5k program (9 weeks to a 5k) then transition right into the 10k plan. After that, I was going to follow the plan I followed in 2013 to train (with 8 weeks before the half). Cross-training would come from Tuesday/Thursday YFit classes.

How’s that going? I’ve accomplished the C25K and have one week two weeks left in the 10K plan. Other than some regression from getting sick the past two weeks, I am lifting more and more at YFit (but I have some big work to do there). As for the next steps, I really can’t follow the plan I followed in 2013.

Why? It’s 8 weeks to a half which is perfect for what remains between next Sunday and May 5, but that’s not the problem. The “problem” is that it starts with long runs of 2 and 3 miles in the first two weeks. Sorry, but I am beyond that. Oh. And there’s the fact that I miscalculated something in my plan and still have two weeks left in the 10k training (see the cross out above? Yeah…I realized it while writing this post).  Some combination of the two plans below are what I’ll be doing, with a few adjustments to the days because of my YFit, church, and work schedules as well as determining if I’ll start with the 6 mile week as my week 1 of 8 or drop back to a 5 and do I run 11 or 12 miles the week before (I did 11 in 2013 – comment with any tips!!!):

…definitely not ending with 10 miles from this one…

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles (so far): 4.8
March Average Pace (so far): 13:43
Current Projected Finish Time: 3:59 (+6 minutes from 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)

I’ve been training at work, really getting to know the Liberty Mile to Penn Avenue to 16th Street Bridge. These will be some of my toughest because of the crowds and other runners (like Greg who will be doing Relay Leg 1) – basically I’ll likely gas myself in these miles because I’ll be pushing hard to keep up with everyone. I want my body to know this part of the course and just take it loosely. It’s great to work right in the middle of this part of the course, and having days that have been gorgeous enough to run along the river have definitely been a perk, too.

Looking forward to logging some longer runs next week and sharing more with you. If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!

Pro Tip: If you are running in the early morning or evening, I highly suggest a LED slap armband. They can be a solid or blinking light to alert others of your presence on the trail. Enjoy your weekend runs in the nicer daylight weather, but put one of these in your Amazon Prime cart for Monday’s run!

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Twins: 23 Months

Well. Here it is. The Twins’ 23 Months post. How have 23 months flown by? How is this our last “months” photo and post for our babies? Somehow, some way, it’s here.  (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

twins 23 monthsTurning 23 months old was basically just like any other day in the twins’ life. Well, sort of. They slept in (a rarity). They carried oranges around for awhile (and told me so on the phone). They got their runny noses wiped approximately eleventy-hundred times (yay for the random sickness rounds that have hit our house). They ate cherry tomatoes and tater tots for dinner. They made us laugh and made us so ready for bedtime, too.

There aren’t many milestones they haven’t met yet, so nothing really new to report on that front. Both continue to say more and do more independently. Both still hate baths and love Sesame Street. Basically, we are bracing ourselves for the terrible twos.

8476In April, we’ll celebrate their second birthday and then I’m sure the next sixteen years will fly by. ::big sigh::

Happy 23 Month Birthday, Ava and Isla!

Mom Tip: These milestone blocks are cute, but as the babies got older, taking photos with them gets harder and harder! Did you see Isla’s face?!?!? These are totally toys, right?

 

 

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Toddler Wish-List

Disclaimer: To bring you this Toddler Wish-List, I was provided with products in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Can you believe that tomorrow the twins will be turning 23 months? I’m not alone, right? It is time to be in party planning mode, celebrating the official move into toddlerhood…or the terrible twos…or something like that.

Speaking of party planning, it probably makes sense to start thinking about what to get the girls who “have everything” because of being third in line of spoiled ‘lil Burghers. Fresh and new things are always fun, aren’t they? Thus, I put together a toddler wish-list full of fun items for those hard to buy for ‘lil divas and heroes in your life.

Toddler Wish-list

Toddler Wish-List

Musical Toys. The girls love to sing and dance, so what better than giving them toys to make their own music? This hedgehog accordion is unique and great to pair with these animal egg shakers.

hedgehog accordian

 

egg shakers

Lovies. I melted when I found this stuffed hedgehog (are you sensing the theme? The girls happen to have an affinity to them – big things come in small packages!). Doesn’t her hair remind you of Ava’s?

stuffed hedgehog

A really great blanket is always a win around here, too – and having a backup never hurts, just ask Evan and Ava.

The middle kiddos are enjoying their backup blankets while daddy's doing laundry. ♡ these faces! #lilburghers #momswithcameras #momof4

A post shared by Becky Willis ♡ Mom Blogger (@mrsgregwillis) on

Books. Babies, I mean toddlers, can never tire of books. Little Women is a pretty empowering one for the ‘lil ladies in your life while the ‘lil guys might enjoy The Jungle Book. Isn’t it great that these classics come in toddler friendly board book versions?

Little Women

Bath Toys. Bath time continues to be a struggle for us, so we’re hoping some fun bath toys just might do the trick to get the girls okay with the tub. Toys like Boon Pipes and Gears are a fun way to start getting your ‘lil engineers’ minds moving, too!

Puzzles. While standard puzzles can be fun, I think mix and match toys are also good ways to introduce puzzles and problem solving. Aren’t these Mix and Match Animals cute?

animal puzzle

Note: The girls will be getting these items for their birthday – I’ll be sure to share some photos of them as soon as they unwrap the goodies. Let’s not wish the next month away too soon, though! 

Bonus for Mom

Now that your babies are toddlers, you’re probably about ready to get rid of the diaper bag. But don’t go there just yet. Consider the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack, an upgrade to your standard diaper bag. It offers versatile carrying configurations, organizational pockets, and a built-in charging station (doesn’t every mom need that?!). With fun prints, there’s something for every mom.

The Baby Cubby

The items above can all be found at The Baby Cubby, with a website (babycubby.com) and retail store (in Utah). Not only do they carry specially picked and tested toys and clothes for baby, functional baby gear, and products for mom; they provide a community for moms and make us feel special. Our role as parents is important, and they celebrate that. Follow their Cubby Community Blog to see what I mean – including twin tips and How to Dad!

baby cubby

What would you add to this toddler wish-list? 

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Whole30: It’s a Wrap

*articles may contain affiliate links* My Whole30 journey (round one, anyways) officially came to a wrap on February 4th. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t help but sounding like a “junkie” throughout the entire process – maybe too much.

For thirty days, I stripped grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes from my diet. For thirty days, I put my husband to the test in the kitchen. For thirty days, I made a commitment to myself and my family to be better. And for thirty days, I was whole.

whole30

Sure, eliminating cheese, bread, and peanut butter isn’t the easiest things to ask of anyone. I get that. But when you do, you’ll realize how much better you feel. At least that is what happened to me. Let’s rewind.

I started the Whole30 on January 5th following a 3-day refresh from Beachbody. **Full disclosure – I didn’t prescribe to quick fixes when I originally lost 130 pounds, so I was skeptical about the process. But after the holidays and  a year of holding onto 75 pounds gained before/after having the twins, I needed something to jump start my progress.**

Because I pretty much ate whole/clean from 2011 to 2014 (save for couscous, quinoa, whole wheat, cheese, peanut butter, and black beans), my body didn’t go through the rough days that many experience in the first days of Whole30. Pushing the reset button on my life actually felt right and not like a crash course diet (because it’s not, it’s about changing your life). (Alright, I did have 2 days of stomach issues – likely keto flu because my body started processing things a bit differently – but I soon bounced right back.)

Along the way, there were temptations, though not as many as I expected. The Mounds Cake was a tough one to walk away from. One night, Evan redeemed a Book It! pizza and I had major flashbacks to working at Pizza Hut as a teenager and I had to walk away quickly. And another weird one, Red Bull. (Someone opened one in the van while I was driving Uber and I got this pang of wanting one – I did kinda have an addiction to the sugar free version in 2006 because of the flavor. Thank goodness a co-worker clued me in the that cran-raspberry La Croix water has a similar taste.)

Along the way, there were wins. We really love the Spicy Turkey and Cauliflower Rice recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook and it was super easy for Greg to cook. I felt different, more energized. I enjoyed a girls’ weekend with my best friend and didn’t find eating difficult. We brought real bacon into the house and Evan about passed out with glee (he’d only ever had turkey bacon, but now that I know what’s really in there, I don’t want it anymore). Arianna and I went through about 10 dozen eggs (and are even more upset that we can’t rent chickens in our town).

And at the end? I felt so good. So good. I had some amazing NSVs (non scale victories): longer hair, longer/stronger nails, more energy, consistent exercise, no heel or hip pain while running, stress off my shoulders, less stress in general, better skin). And although it wasn’t about the weight loss, I did lose 17.5 pounds and 8.75 inches (officially retiring a pair of size 20 and size 18 jeans that I’d survived in for the last year).

whole30 before after

Can you see the difference?

Reintroduction (the ten days, for me 14, of bringing back the things stripped out) didn’t go so well. Wine was good. Oatmeal, too. Peanut butter gave me some hives. Gluten gave me issues – bloating and other gross stuff. I ate ice cream for the first time in 45 days (or more?) on February 15. I finally ate chocolate the other day – I missed that friend but not as much as I thought I would.

So my next steps? Living 90/10 Whole30. That means I’ll be eating clean 90% of the time as my goal. I know I can’t do glutens. I did them today – Thin Mints called my name – and I’ve felt awful ever since (my stomach is in knots). Cheese will still be part of my life, but in small batches maybe once a week. And I hope that I’ll see the results I saw in the two weeks post ending the Whole30 (down another 9 pounds) continue.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in doing the Whole30, I highly suggest you get a copy of the book and cookbook (linked above) and finding some friends who are into it, too. Like me. If soy sauce is something you love, I suggest replacing it with (compliant) Coconut Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce-8 Oz (2-Pack). Trust me when I say I know it will be hard, but think about your end goals. You’re worth it.

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Evan’s Summer Wish List: British Soccer Camp

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about British Soccer Camp is one such post.

What does Evan want to be when he grows up? A soccer player.

That’s why I’m not at all surprised when he was full of delight when I asked him if he’d be interested in spending a week of his summer focused on soccer skills. I didn’t even have to bribe him with “you’ll get to ride to work with Mommy and maybe we’ll stop for coffee one or two days”, because he’s just that into soccer. Score.

We’re lucky here in Pittsburgh to have several options for the soccer camp in the area this summer, with locations around the city that are sure to be convenient for all of us ‘Burghers. If your soccer player isn’t ready to take on a full day program, there are also half-day options available.

British Soccer Camp

Our friends over at US Family Guide filled me in on why this camp is the place to be this summer:

British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camp provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

Sounds like it will be a great experience for our future soccer star, right? If you would like enroll your child in a British Soccer Camp near you (not limited to Pittsburgh!), use code CAMP17 when you register for camp and get a free soccer ball, jersey, t-shirt, and poster (over $100 in gifts)! Follow along on Twitter with @ChallengerCamps and be sure to follow @usfg for family-friendly fun near you.

British Soccer Camp Kids

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Baby Colic – Relief for Baby’s Fussiness

I received a free sample of Gerber® Good Start® Soothe infant formula and Gerber® Soothe probiotic colic drops from Gerber® as well as information on baby colic. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s the middle of the night and you can’t get baby calmed down. She’s been crying for hours and you need to get sleep yourself. This has been going on several times a week, for what you’re pretty sure is a month. Sounds like this may be a case of baby colic and you need some tips for colic relief.

Looking back at the patterns of my kids, I’m not sure if any of them officially had colic, but I do know we tried basically everything to calm down Isla’s tears. For awhile there, she was basically the baby I’ve described above, but instead of at night early in the morning when I’d just hit a good sleep pattern. That’s why I’m excited to have the opportunity to team up with Gerber® and Linqia to share some colic relief tips with you in case you’re going through the same thing I was almost a year ago (can you believe it?!?).

Throwback: One of Isla's tear sessions

Throwback: One of Isla’s tear sessions

Bringing a baby into this world is an awesome experience, but when they’re tear filled and you just can’t find the right “formula for happiness”, it can be stressful for a new mom and dad. Colicky babies (who cry excessively or seem to have a lot of fussiness) can be helped with at-home remedies, bringing back the joyful moments of parenthood.

Baby Colic Symptoms

First, it helps to understand the symptoms of colic. Gerber® has some infographics on baby colic and fussiness that really helped me understand it better. Legs drawn to chest, clenched fist, and crying for hours several times a week are some of the basic signs.

What causes baby colic?

According to Gerber:

Research indicates that the type of bacteria in the infant’s digestive system may determine whether a child is colicky. This suggests a role for probiotics to help support a balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract of colicky infants. In particular, the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri has been clinically shown in multiple studies to reducing crying time in colicky infants.

How can you relieve baby colic?

There are a few at-home remedies that I’ve tried and that were shared with me in this partnership – a formula for happiness!

  1. White noise. For both Arianna and Isla, hearing that things were still going on in the house was calming. White noise can be used to help soothe fussiness.
  2. Swaddling baby. We were big fans of the swaddles as they kept baby feeling like they were back in the womb, all cradled and warm.
  3. Rocking baby gently. This can help to relieve the pressure baby is feeling and (bonus) lower your stress level.
  4. Provide baby with comforting probiotics. They are a way to help improve the amount of good bacteria in baby’s digestive system. There are two products in the Gerber® Soothe™ line that you can use. If baby is formula fed, consider Gerber® Good Start® Soothe formula. If baby is breastfed, consider Gerber Soothe® probiotic colic drops. These products are routine and not intended to treat or cure any disease.

baby colic drops

The baby colic tips in this post should be reviewed with your pediatrician. You can also reach experts such as registered dietitians, certified lactation consultants, and certified baby sleep consultants through Gerber® at 1-800-203-4565

baby colic formula

Has your baby ever had colic? Share your #formulaforhappiness with us in the comments. If you are up and browsing the internet for colic relief, visit the new Gerber® Soothe web page to learn more about colic, excessive crying, and fussiness. You can find Gerber® Soothe™ products in a store near you.

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‘lil Old Man

The 100th day of school feels like it was 100 days ago, but I just can’t get enough of the cuteness that was my ‘lil old man. Evan came home begging to look just right for his kindergarten celebration.

Don’t you think he did a good job?

liloldman

In addition to dressing like a ‘lil old man, he also took in 100 M&Ms. His report on what they did with them? I don’t know! I guess all he was worried about was lookin’ good.

How did your ‘lil ones celebrate the 100th day of school? 

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Jakks: Disney Mickey and Minnie Mouse Tsum Tsum’s Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Welcome to the Disney Tsum Tsum Mickey Minnie Tsweeties 5 Winners Valentine’s Giveaway

Each winner will receive this set below. You can read about this adorable couple here.

jakks-disney-tsum-tsums

Giveaway will run from 1.31-2.13 2017

You must be 18yrs+ and US only

You can enter on the widget below. Good Luck!!

I am sure you and a Tsweeties that would love to receive on of these this Valentines Day! You can find them on Amazon here. (not an affiliate link)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:
We reserve the right to make revisions, to cancel, or suspend this contest for any reason. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to the US 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. Mom Blog Society (and any other blog participating) is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not.

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What is on YOUR Valentine’s list this year? 

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