Toddler Christmas Gift Guide

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Apple will be turning 3 years old just after Christmas! It can be tricky to find the perfect gifts for this age. Here are a few idea's that I have loved for my kids in the older toddler years and she new gift idea's I plan to buy for Apple.


We got this bike from the small shop and I can not wait for her to see it on Christmas Morning! It resembles my bike and I know she will love the little basket. I used learning bikes for the boys and they because such good bike riders very young. Kaeden and Kingsley used theirs until about 6 years old because they both loved doing tricks on them!

The Field Toy allows your little one to use creative play! It comes with a couple small animals, fence and tractor. We picked up some extra horses because currently that is Apple's obsession. Under $30 this makes for an affordable gift.

Around age 3 I bought Braedy (he's now 20) a toy Vacuum. He was obsessed with it! I found this cute one that will be a perfect addition to Apple's little house set up.

I find my kids love anything they see me doing. So when we found this pizza set I had to get it for them. If you ask Raquel she would tell you it is the most played with food item we have! Only 16$ makes it a great affordable gift.
What would a morning be without coffee? This Nespresso type machine is so cute! Apple pretends to brew us a cup while I am drinking my real morning coffee.

We got this grocery store set up a few months ago and it has been a hit! Kingsley and Apple play for hours with it. It is under 75$ too!

This shopping cart is one of the best out there! It is a little more cost than some but it truly is worth it because it is so durable! Many are flimsy and this it truly the opposite. So sturdy.

A bit more of an investment gift but one that will last for years! We have 2 of these loungers and they are the most used seats in the house. Works perfect for toddlers to teens watching TV, reading a book or just relaxing.

One of Apple's new favorite toys in her house set up! Be warned you may find items out of your hamper in it like we do. Lol!

For a deluxe all in one  kitchen this is perfect!

Potty Training Tips...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Just before Christmas I started potty training Apple. I was flooded with requests for this post from parents looking for tips. Since life has been extra busy I wasn't able to get this done as fast as I wanted. So.. finally after 2 months I am sharing a not so short and sweet post with my tips.

First thing to look for is knowing if your child is ready. Potty training isn't about winning a mom award because you trained your 15 month old. (Which typically is the mom is trained to put them on. Not the toddler asking.) Do they know when they go potty or as Apple would say at 22 month "stinky"? If they are sharing with you to change them or hiding, then that is a sign that they are aware of what they are doing. I personally waiting until 24 months with all my kids. I feel the battle to be easier when they understand more. I am also not worried about posting on my Facebook with my 9 month old "My kid is potty trained! Take that bitches! This mama can do it better than you!" JK.

So now that you understand when to start. It also comes down to your commitment. A LONG time ago I wrote a blog on getting your child to sleep in the crib at 6 months. (most read post ever-still is) Commitment was key and it's the same for potty training. Do you have a weekend away coming up? A busy work schedule that is above normal? Friends coming to town to stay with you? If you have something that will be distracting to you I recommend you wait until you can give a good week to 10 days commitment to your child. Typically, my method they are trained by day 3 but you still need to remind them and be there fully for them for the additional time. Or they can revert.

Where to start?
Make your purchases. (linked items at end of post)

Bjorn Potty - My fave for the floor and stability. Also cleans easily.
Training pants - I used Applecheeks and burts bees.
Potty seat for toilet top (optional but good for getting them used to the big toilet)
Step stool for hand washing and getting up to the toilet.
Treats of choice. I use Nerds Candy.

The morning of no more diapers.

When your little one wakes up you will put them directly into underwear. I do not use pull ups as they defeat the purpose of training since they act like a diaper. You need to communicate lots to your child about going potty. I put my child on the potty and cheer and get excited yelling "Yay!! Potty! Big Girl (or boy)" That sets the tone for this being an exciting and rewarding experience. I then allow them off the potty even if they didn't pee yet and with a stern voice say "NO pee pee in panties." They usually look at you with sadness, like who are you crazy person? You were so happy a minute ago.

This goes on repeat constantly reminding them they need to pee on the potty and you keep putting them on. I suggest every 30 minutes. YES, you will be worn out.

Now that you understand what you need to do and you also gave up your day. Plan to give up everything up for a couple days. You will need to step up the potty game. It isn't just putting them on and taking them off. 

This is where Nerds come into play. A few times on the potty you need to reward them with something more than mama cheering. I give 1 teeny Nerd since we do not like to give a lot of candy in our house. When I am done cheering that Apple is going potty I will reward her with a treat. I will make this so exciting and rewarding that she will want to go more in the potty. Typically they won't pee right away on the potty. Many kids do not put together what they need to actually do until they fail. It's when they have an accident that everything will connect in their minds.

Fast forward to on and off the potty and feeling like your kids won't get it. You will be stuck at home forever training until they turn 16!

Aaannnnd they look at you and pee.

Here is your chance to connect the dots! 

"No pee pee! Pee Pee goes on the potty!" You run with them to the potty and pull their pants and trainers down and sit them on. Tears are usually flowing or shock. They don't like upsetting anyone. After letting them sit for a bit you will then tell them to take off their own bottoms. HELL in a child's eyes. All 4 of my kids never wanted to touch their yucky pants and hated having to undress themselves this way. Once you get through the task you will then have them go get clean bottoms. Talking often with them about how pee goes n the potty and not their panties or chonies. I hug it out after they are dressed because I can only deal with so much heart break. We go back into the cycle of reward for potty and unhappy for pee in the pants. Depending on your own child they will clue in to the positivity the potty brings to their life and how its yucky and not happy to pee in their pants.

Keep rewarding good dry pants.

My boys were much easier than Apple. They got the reward part VERY quickly. King was the longest taking to the next morning. (Kurt actually had to leave town to our other house because he couldn't handle the ups and downs of emotions! lol) Apple is a little more headstrong. She knew she wanted Nerds and would tell you constantly that she wanted to go "stinky". She also was like screw you I will hide behind plants, couches, chairs and pee. Luckily, she hated changing her clothes herself and we broke through on morning 3. It was the turning point where she didn't want to undress herself anymore and we have been sailing along ever since. 

Accidents will happen. You need to look a the situation that your child is in, whether it was a bad or an ok thing. Were you out shopping? Not their fault. Were you cooking in the kitchen and they hid behind the couch? Not good.

A couple more notes :

Pooping can be a big deal. Most kids show signs of needing to go and also go the same time each day. Watch for this and keep them on the potty longer and more often. DO NOT GIVE. IN!

Night training. You will need to help them along with this by not giving loads of fluids or bottles before bed. You are setting them up for failure if you give 9 oz milk before sleep!

Night training. Put them pee before bed and as soon as they wake up. Again, reward like crazy for dry beds. Some moms choose to do pull ups at night and others use trainers. I did trainers with the boys but am too busy for bedding changes now so with Apple I did pull ups.

When you think you have made progress take your child shopping for big kid undies. Make it the best most exciting thing of your day. They usually won't want to spoil their pretty panties or cool superhero ginch.

Don't stress if your child takes slightly longer but do look at what you are doing. Find a reward that may be better than the one you gave. Are they sticker fans? Give them a sticker. Do they love the iPad? Allow them a few minutes after they go and not any other time to entice them. Finding the right reward helps. Also make sure you are STERN when you show your upset. A solid voice helps them understand mom/dad are serious about this new deal.

This was actually a really hard post to write. How do you put online publicly what you do for potty training when it involves dreaded candy and mean mom status? I am sure I will get some trolls that will hate me but again I will say I have been around the block wth kids. My adult son isn't in need of therapy for his potty training days.

Find your groove with your child. You know them best! If you take 1 part of what I do or no part or follow exactly everything just make sure you both are thriving from it.


Bjorn Potty

Seat for top of toilet.

Stool for hand washing and getting up the big toilet.

Burts Bees Training Pants have a good slim fit. They are not leak proof but I like that for knowing when they go.
Applecheeks Learning Pants are great for on the go. They have more of a waterproof layer and absorb accidents well. Also good night time bottoms.

Carmen the Modern Mom X Applecheeks swim set ...

Friday, September 21, 2018

We are very excited to announce our limited edition swim set designed with Applecheeks cloth diaper company. It is something old and something new...

The classic swim diaper with a new top to match! In a limited release color Peony!

Applecheeks has always had the best swim diapers. You don't need to worry when you are swimming with your baby in the pool! They work great holding in what you need if baby decides to go number two. They are also easy for vacations because you don't need to take up precious luggage space with a pack of awful throw away swimmers! A real win for you and the environment.

When Apple was tiny we of course wanted to use Applecheek swimmers but I always felt like she needed more on than just the diaper. Something that I would have never thought of with the boys. So I started to bug my pals at the Applecheeks HQ saying I would love to help them design something cute and flattering with an easy fit to match the swimmer bottom. After sketching things out and a few trials of fit and function we have come up with the Carmen the Modern Mom X Applecheeks swim set!

These swim sets are perfect for swimming lessons, pubic pools and of course on your next vacation!

The classic swim bottom comes in 2 sizes. Size 1 and size 2. 
Apple is in a size 1 with such a tiny butt and only weighing 21.5 pounds we haven't stepped up to the 2's yet.

The easy fit top is designed to compliment the bottoms with ruffles at the front and a bow tie at the back. The neck tie keeps the top in place perfectly and gives lots of adjustment for different size babies.

The best part about Applecheeks swim is they dry quickly! Your little one doesn't need to shiver in a padded and soaking wet cold swim diaper!

Ready to dive in!

Nothing better than a cute ruffle butt!

A close up of the great leg fit you get with Applecheeks. (Their cloth diapers fit just as amazing!)

Snaps on the swim diaper will not snag your swimsuit. (I totally do not understand velcro usage in pool wear??) The snaps also make it a snap to change your baby!

Check out that pretty tag!!!

A very special Thank You to Amy & Ilana for making a girl moms dreams come true!

BUY your Carmen the Modern Mom X Applecheeks Swim Set HERE

Prices in Canadian Dollars.

Tent : Sage Pole buy HERE
Sunglasses : Babiators buy HERE

When to take away the bottle and soother (pacifier)....

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I decided it was time to write a blog post on giving up the baby bottle and soother. It's been a hot topic lately on my social media. Especially when people get a peek on Instagram stories into our life of me rocking Apple with her bottle before I put her to bed and the odd video of her having her soother.

Recently, we went away for the weekend to Big Bear. I had said on my videos that we forgot her soothers and baby bottle and formula! I tried giving her a different bottle, buying her regular milk and finding her a soother equivalent to the one that she loves. None of it went over well! I had a lot of messages of support saying what grocery store they knew carried our formula that Apple loves (Kabrita which is slightly obvious by the photo above!)  and suggesting bottles that are similar to the one that she uses. I also at the same time had a lot of messages saying why would we want to continue to give her formula or bottles or a soother. Some stating it could be a good opportunity to end offering baby things. (Now, I hope in society that many were trying to be supportive but we a moms know how these comments come off!)

Well here we are at this post... and by the picture depicted above it is all about a little girl who loves her bubba and soo soo's. Little does she know it is only months away from going bye-bye! (insert mama heartbreak!)

Parenting is about personal choices. It is choices we make, that we feel are right for our children. I happen to feel that a baby is a baby until 24 months old. They are still dependent on you, they often do not talk full sentences, they are still tiny little people. I have no problem giving my babies baby items until I feel they are old enough for me to take them away! At around one year of I do not let our kids walk around with a baby bottle or soother all day long. Actually, I never let any of my kids walk around with a baby bottle. I always had concern for their dental health and after stopping nursing when I did give them bottles, I would feed them during set times and be done with it. In the morning and in the evenings were and are my times to rock my baby and bond how I wish. I'm a very busy person but those moments are precious to me. As much as my kids love having their bottle I love having them in my arms drinking their bubba or cuddling before bed with the soo soo. 

No matter what society thinks, I am going to do what I feel is right for my child and my family. If you feel that a one-year-old should never have a bottle or soother or formula I won't judge you. And if you are like me who feels that up to the age of two it's perfectly OK then don't be bothered by the people that always have something to say!

Some notes and answers to often asked questions ::

What the heck is a soother? 

It is Canadian for binky, pacifier, chupete, binky. Apple uses MAM brand.

Do you give the soother all day?

No. Before a year old it was available whenever during the day. However at that age I stopped allowing it for more than naps. (yes, once in a while she will squeal for it and we give in)

How will you stop giving the soother?

When we reach the 2nd birthday big kids status will hit hard. The soother will be cut. I had allowed the big boys to help with the scissors cut them and they thought it was quite fun then realized what a bad move that was! It was pretty simple. No more soo soo available but if they wanted the "broken" one mommy was OK with it. All 3 boys declined the broken ones and whimpered to bed for a day or two until forgetting about it.

Why would you give formula to a kid who is over 1 year old?

I think Kabrita formula is great and Apple truly loves it. Often the older boys will drink all the milk in the house or have numerous bowls of cereal so girlfriend wouldn't even have a bottle available if she needed it. Kabrita works for us!

What type of milk will you give when you stop Kabrita?

I will try her on cows milk. If that works then great. If it doesn't work or she is like me and has issues with it then I will give goat milk.

How many bottles and ounces do you give Apple a day?

We give her a 5-7 oz bottle in the morning.
4-5 oz bottle mid day (younger sometimes a second late day)
a 5-7 oz bottle before bed in the rocking chair.

What sippy cup is the best?

I find there are a lot of cups out there. I prefer ones with straws that can be washed like the Zoli. My favorite transition is the Avent soft spout bottle cup. I can not say that I am a sippy cup expert because we really have not used all of them. 

When will you potty train?

Yup, this question comes up as soon as we talk about taking away baby items. She will be trained at 24 months also. I talk potty and we bought one. Offering her to use it so she gets comfortable but I will not force her until 24m. Yes.. that was written correctly. "force" Ain't no baby wanna give up diapers! lol

Outfit : Noppies via MK Kidswear
Hat : Bunnyknots


Sophie Harley Bespoke Jewelry

Monday, August 13, 2018

I recently posted about my new Sophie Harley stacking rings. A lot had asked me for more details I am writing this for everyone to see my pretty stack.

Sophie Harley does beautiful bespoke designs. I love that many are very unique and that they start at an affordable price for fine jewelry but go up to stunning investment pieces. Check out their wedding collection HERE

I got the individuals to stack. I chose to do 4 to represent having 4 kids. They stack comfortably and actually work with my thin diamond wedding band too! I think these designs are timeless.

You do need to know your finger size. I know mine off by heart. (Not that I have had many chances to tell Kurt the sizes sadly. He's behind on buying jewels for mama. hmm Kurt if you read this...)

I will link the individuals I got below... enjoy! Be sure to check out her wing collection. It is stunning!


My body challenge and the Nokia Body Scale...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When a business friend reached out to me about trying out the new Nokia Heart Health & Body Composition Wi-Fi Scale and watch. I immediately said yes! The reason I wanted to do this post was not only because I love the Nokia products I have used before (used to be Withings)  but because I thought it would give me a chance to talk body issues!

Lately I have been struggling with weight gain. Ever since I stopped nursing Apple 2 months ago weight is slowly (ok fastly.. but is that a word?) creeping on. I don't remember gaining as much after I stopped nursing my boys. I haven't been eating well because I barely eat breakfast, then get dinner so late or grab whatever quick food when I am starving. I am feeling overworked and really just mentally tired. I can't get myself to be motivated! While people may think I am happy with myself because I will post my outfits on IG they may not realize that it has taken 100 photos to get one good one! The angle needs to be right and even when all stars align I often cringe when I hit "share" on Instagram! I am desperately waiting for the cooler weather so I can start hiding my upper arms!

Well, maybe this fancy scale is my motivation! It is so smart it basically tracks everything. I do know one thing, when it told me my body fat was 26% and I started to freak out at that high number only to find out that healthy/acceptable is 25-30%  (fitness is 21-24%) that maybe I am being overly hard on myself and body.

So here are my plans and July resolutions!
I Carmen will do my best to eat healthy and stop beating myself up. I am going to use this awesome and fun tool to kick my butt into gear! I plan to use the APP to track my food, my steps, my weight (more so my bodyfat etc) and try my best to comfortable in my body that has had 4 amazing babies. I hope to get back to being more fit and happy with myself.

So what does this fancy combo of the watch and scale have to offer?


The scale ::

You download an APP on your smartphone and it tracks you and up to 7 more users. Perfect for watching your kids growth and health.

It offers a full body composition of weight, BMI, body fat, water percentage, plus bone and muscle mass. All this stays tracked on your phone! (Umm, why didn't I have this when pregnant??)

The medically accepted assessment measures your standing heart rate. This is perfect for getting to know your cardiovascular health.

Has a baby mode feature. Measure how much your baby weighs while stepping on the scale with your baby in arms! I love this if you are tracking your new baby's weight gain during breastfeeding and newly home.

Local weather forecast. Yes! If it is connected over wi-fi you will even get the weather forecast!

The watch ::

Tracks your moves, walking, running and sleep!

Enhanced tracking ability will detect and learn up to 10 activities you do like swimming, dancing, weight lifting and more.

Has a smart wake up option to help you wake up at the optimal time of your sleep. (this of course is not needed for those moms with baby alarms going off all night! haha!)

It synchronizes with the health mate app. Allowing you to know more about your health.

Has a silent alarm option to wake you up and not the baby!

Lastly, the health APP also has pregnancy mode! Such a great feature for expecting moms.

Available at Best Buy USA and Canada, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target

Comparing Apple and Kingsley in the Britax Advocate...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I am doing a quick post for y'all to see how valuable the convertible car seat is. Often new parents invest a lot of money on the infant seat. The infant seat is quickly outgrown and that leaves parents questioning how much they should spend on car seats in the future. I want to do this post to help you understand that the next stage car seat (the convertible that is typically purchased) is really worth putting time into researching and investing money in. You will use your car seat almost daily if you are an average parent who goes to work, grocery shops, leaves the house, etc, etc. You want to have something that fits your car well and you can install properly. You also need to look for the ease of use bucking your child and your overall happiness. Don't forget the most important thing to look for is proper crash foams in your seat. They help absorb the energy and forces during a crash. (I will talk about all this in another post coming soon.)

We are showing out of the car but as a reminder. Buckle the harness snugly and chest clips need to be at armpit level.

Back to the reason for this blog post. I want to show you that the Britax Advocate Anti Rebound can comfortably fit a baby and an older child. This means you will get years of use out of your investment. Lets add up on average 4 years of use - starting at 1 year of age and changing to a booster at 5 years of age. Clicking your child in and out, on a once per day average (we all know that is light considering many moms drive their kids to school/daycare and that alone requires 2 clicks a day) You will use this seat 1,460 times! Now if you are like me and use the seat on average of 1.5 times a day, start your child at 1 year and use the seat until the 6th birthday you will use your seat a whopping 2737 times! I am sure we are clicking in and out more like 3 times a day average though. Now do you see why this stage seat is worth the investment?

I am going to follow up  in another blog post with chat about booster seats and why I wouldn't invest in a mutli function car seat for Apple that converts to a booster.

Kingsley is 48 pounds - 3 feet 11 inches tall and will be 6 years old in 2 months.
Apple is 20 pounds - 28 inches tall- 14 months old

She goes in for a kiss.. sibling love is the best!

King still has room above his shoulders to the harness height. Forward facing is at or above shoulders!

Side view shows how big this seat grows.

Recline rear facing mode. Keep your babies rear facing until a minimum of 2 years old. It is the law in California and I hope to see it be the law everywhere soon.


Carmen Shalene © All rights reserved