13 Family Halloween Traditions

It’s my favorite time of year – HALLOWEEN! Since I can remember, I have loved everything about this holiday. From the costumes, to the pumpkins, and of course the candy, I have found this spooktacular day absolutely delightful.

Every year, my family would partake in Halloween traditions and now that I have two kids of my own, we’ve started our own traditions! Here are our 13 Halloween tradition/festivities:

  1. Decorate: There is something magical that happens when we pull the Halloween decorations down from the attic. Not only does it signify a soon-to-be Happy Halloween, but that Thanksgiving and Christmas are close behind. Now that my first born is old enough, he is so excited to place the skeletons, light-up pumpkins, candy hand towels, etc. all around the house and outside.
  2. Costumes: We are now beyond the point where I can pick out what my kids are going to be. My oldest knew well before October what he wanted to be there year – the HULK! “Hulk SMASH!” This kid loves three things: alligators, dinosaurs, and the HULK.  Obviously since were going down the Marvel pipeline, our youngest has to be Spider-Man. I just love how excited everyone is to pick out their new costume.
  3. Pumpkin picking: I mean, is it even fall/Halloween if you don’t pick a pumpkin? Enough said.
  4. Pumpkin carving/painting: I can remember my favorite pumpkin carving was the ThunderCats logo. It was awesome! These days, it’s a classic Jack O’Lantern carving, but the kids love it. They find the “pumpkin guts” wonderful and disgusting all at the same time.
  5. Pumpkin seeds: Speaking of “pumpkin guts,” the roasting of pumpkin seeds is essential. This year Ro was able to salt and pepper the seeds during prep and he had so much fun. We all LOVE pumpkin seeds and within a day or two, they are gone.
  6. Fall/Halloween fests: This year we started a new tradition, we went to our first local fall fest. We dressed up, the boys in their Hulk and Spider-Man costumes, while I wore a Captain America mask. A trunk or treat, pumpkin picking, music, dancing, and all the good things Halloween has to offer in one local community event. We can’t wait to go again next year.
  7. Creepy the spider: Ro got this fuzzy spider from my mom, that we affectionately call Creepy. Every night once Ro falls asleep, we move Creepy around the house and he has to look for him in the morning. He enjoys the hunt and we think it’s pretty cute when he says, “Creepy. Don’t run away. I love you.”
  8. Monster mash: We love a good song and dance session. Spotify has an awesome playlist that we have been listening to on loop – Monster Jams. I love that my kids like to be goofy with me. “We did the mash, we did the monster mash” and yes, “it was a graveyard smash.”
  9. Halloween books: Bedtime reading is a sacred time in this house. We read at least two books a night and we have a collection of Halloween books we read over and over again. Our new favorite is Fisher Price’s Little People “Halloween is Here” which has over 50 flaps of fun.
  10. Nightly lighting: The outside of our house is adorned with a yellow and green glowy spotlight, skeletons, orange lights, and illuminated eyeballs. Before my oldest goes to bed, we head outside and turn on our spooky display. It’s become our nightly ritual.
  11. Target tours: This has become a tradition without intention. Every time we go into the “Mothership” (i.e. Target) or any store with a Halloween section, we always stop and stroll down every aisle. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve examined the costumes and outdoor displays, we always have to stop.
  12. Teacher gifts: I am THAT parent that gives a gift to the teachers at every holiday. It is our tradition to shower the boy’s teachers with spectacular treats. We love to see the smile on their faces and we also appreciate all they do for our boys.
  13. Trick or Treat: We’ve been practicing the trick or treat speech, and I must say we have the most polite trick or treaters on the block. “Trick or treat! Thank you so much!” You can’t have a successful Halloween without a good ole’ night of trick or treating. I will of course take my candy tax at the end of the day. Good thing for me, we don’t like the same candy.

What are your Halloween traditions? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Why? – Strange Things Toddlers Do

I was introduced to the world of professional wrestling, WWF (World Wrestling Federation – later) at a very young age by my uncle (shout out to Uncle P!). I was the first grader walking around demonstrating the signature moves of D-Generation X, in particular, Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley). If you have no clue, YouTube it and you’ll see the amazingness that is this mid-90s to early 2000s group. My adoration for the athleticism and performance of these individuals often left my teachers and parents saying – “Why?”

“Hannah why are you pretending to jackknife [XYZ person]?” My answer would always be, “Why not?”

Now that I have two kids and one has discovered his true toddler sass, I hear the phrase “why not?” on loop. Also, as a boy mom, I hear this more often than most – at least I’m assuming mothers and fathers of boys are always walking around looking puzzled because their son(s) has decided to do something crazy.

Along with questioning my children’s (keep in mind they are three and one) need to have an impromptu wrestling match like that of the classic Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant from Wrestlemania III in the middle of the living room (YouTube it), my list of “why” based moments is extensive.

Here are the top ten most recent reasons I’ve had to say “why?” and slowly shake my head in confusion.

  1. Mom – Why did you aim your penis at your face when you went to the potty?
    Three-year-old – Because the pee wanted to go up!
  2. Mom – Why are you chewing on the baby teether?
    Three-year-old – Because the baby teether is for people not babies!
  3. Mom – Why are you licking the wall?
    Three-year-old – Because I needed to mom!
  4. Mom – *Gives son a new toy* Where are you going?
    Three-year-old – To hide it!
    Mom – Why?
    Three-year-old – Because the worms will get it!!
  5. Mom – Why did you flip over the play kitchen?
    Three-year-old – Because the whale shark was coming, and he wanted popcorn!
  6. Mom – Why are you rubbing petroleum jelly all over your face?
    Three-year-old – Because I can’t breathe! *He thought it was vapor rub*
  7. Mom – Why is your play grill in your bed?
    Three-year-old – My blanket was cold!
  8. Mom – Why are you standing on the coffee table?
    Three-year-old – Because I need to dance!
  9. Mom – Why are you screaming at the drain?
    Three-year-old – The orca won’t stop yelling!
  10. Mom – Why are you not wearing underwear?
    Three-year-old – He needs to breathe!

So, here’s what I know, he watches too much Octonauts (which I secretly love), he’s extremely tactile, and he has a strong understanding of his body. With this said, all I can say is “WHY????”

What is something your kids have done or said that left you at a loss? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids Patience

What is it they always say – patience is a virtue?

I am the first to admit, my patience level is nearly nonexistent. While it has improved over the years, especially with the addition of children (God bless my kids for bringing me down a notch), I am always keeping myself in check. I’m like the Energizer Bunny always on the move and in a hurry, so don’t get in my way.

I am slowly starting to see my lack of patience in my children. Could it be my unfavorable characteristic is now reflected on them or general toddlerdom? We may never know, but what I do know is that I am constantly working towards self-improvement and providing my kids with the tools they need to be patient individuals.

Here are four ways to promote patience –

  1. Parents Practicing Patience – I’ve already admitted my faults, but we should lead by example as parents. My kids are my driving force to actively show what it means to be a mindful and patient person. If mommy can do it, they can do it too!
  2. Slow and Steady – I don’t know if this can be said for all toddlers, but my boys are always on the go. A moment of Zen is very rare and achieved when they are asleep at the end of the day. A great way to establish mindfulness and patience is to introduce activities like coloring, building with Legos, or baking cookies. We want to slow down the soul and enjoy the outcome of taking our time to complete the task at hand.
  3. Celebrate – What kid doesn’t love praise? When our kids practice patience let’s acknowledge them with a job well done. While we should tackle moments of impatience, complimenting them is of the upmost importance. A reward doesn’t hurt either. We have a mindfulness chart at home where my son fills the chart (with stickers) every time he shows patience. When all 12 slots are filled, he can then select a prize from the treasure chest.
  4. Start the Clock – A trick my parents used when I was a youngster – the egg timer. I have found my oldest responds well to the clock. He will sit there and wait for it to ding before he moves to the next activity. “We are going to park in five minutes,” “You can watch your iPad for two more minutes,” or “we will be home in 10 minutes,” are all examples of establishing expectations through time. It eases anxiety and helps when the anticipation of what’s to come.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Do you or your kids struggle with mindfulness? How do you address patience? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Create and Maintain a Successful Family Routine

When routine changes it can throw everyone off, especially a toddler who LOVES consistency. I recently started a new job that’s extremely fulfilling but requires more office time than my previous job. When I worked remotely I could drop my kids off later and pick them earlier than most parents, but now I must drop them off earlier and pick them up a little later than normal. My three-year-old picked up on this change immediately, and let’s just say, he’s not a fan.

My son quickly became hyper sensitive and started not listening/following directions as well as he used to. One could say this is happening because he’s at “that” age, but it seems suspect for this to have started around the same time I began my new job.  I’m not a detective, but I can clearly breakdown the evidence.

My husband and I sprang into action to make a new “norm” for our household. It’s important to us to have a space where our kids feel and actively participate in a healthy routine. Now, I’ve only birthed two little ones, so I can only speak from my experience with them, but thoughtful consistency is key.

Here are the four ways we successfully found our new routine:

  1. Communicate – Seems simple enough, right? You can never over communicate with your kids, at least in my opinion. We talk about and talk through our routine constantly with our kids, more specifically our toddler. He seems to respond to well to repeated verbal communication.
  2. Cool and Calm – As parents it’s easy to lose our cool when our kids react in a not-so-attractive manner when they get frustrated about the change in routine (I know from experience and I’m not proud of it). When we act in a level-headed manner, our kids will have a positive response. We set the emotional example.
  3. Sleep – When our kids are well rested, the world seems to be a safe place, but when they don’t, you might as well duck and cover. When my kids get a great night’s sleep, they are prepared to take on the day with a positive attitude. My one-year-old sleeps a solid 13 hours a night and my three-year-old clocks in between 10-11 hours a night. I truly believe sleep makes a big difference in achieving a new “norm.”
  4. Fun – It’s important to add a new and exciting component to the routine. Make it worthwhile for all involved parties. My husband and I “let” our toddler guide the bedtime routine. He picks the books, he turns off the lights, he arranges his bed, etc. We are known for putting on a performance. If it’s a song, a monologue, an interpretive dance of the book we are reading, we make it fun. This is part of the routine that is specifically tailored for him and something he looks forward to every single day. It’s HIS mom and dad time.

I’ll say it again, change is hard, but if you work to make it a positive experience, your kids will adjust. Fingers crossed we can maintain our son’s positive perspective and make the one-on-one time we have with him memorable in the best way. What are some tips that have worked for you? Let me know if the comments.

4 Ways to Address the Loss of a Loved One with Your Toddler

Losing a loved one is never easy. I lost my best friends when I was in college and my Nana, also known as THE Nana in my family, last year. To say they were/are two of the most important people in my life would be an understatement.

I still mourn the loss of my loved ones, but as an adult I am able to process my emotions and understand what it means to lose someone that I love so much.

My Nana was a fighter; she battled through four, yes four, types of cancer. She is quite possibly the strongest person I know. I was able to spend the last minutes of her life with her and watched her battle until the very end. She never gave up! Her strength, hardworking attitude, and commitment to her loved ones are attributes I want my boys to have as they grow and develop into young men.

Wedding Day with Nana and Papa

My oldest was one and a half when my Nana passed away, but she had a very active part in his life and I was able to tell her that I was pregnant with my second son. I am so lucky that my oldest son was able to spend time with her, even if it was for a short period of time.

The girls and Rorie

When she passed away, I thought to myself, how am I going to explain this to my toddler? He has no understanding of death and what it means to have a loved one pass away. Here are four things I learned during this process:

  1. Speak in simple words – get as basic as you can, terms that well, a toddler would understand.
  2. Keep their memory present – Photos of my Nana are all over my house and my son will often go over to the pictures and point to her and say “That’s Nana!” She also gave him a number of books and stuffed animals. He knows that Nana gave them to him and he cherishes them deeply.
  3. Share all the love – Kids are so aware of our emotions. When we are sad, they will often become sad as well. When I was/am feeling sad, I go in for the hugs, kisses, and extra snuggles. It comforts both of us, not to mention, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
  4. Take care of yourself – We can’t support or little one(s), if we are not taking care of ourselves. Self-care is the most important thing you can do!

If you have lost someone special in your life, please know I am sending all of my love, hugs, and positive thoughts in your direction.

How have you explained this life process to your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

The Five Minute Rule – Parent Style

Have you ever been the middle of doing five million things at once? I’m constantly prepping for the next day, cooking dinner, answering work emails, and trying to stay sane – on any given day. This is my norm and I’m use to it, but I must add, in addition to all of these moving pieces, there is a small toddler standing behind me screaming at the top of his lungs “MOMMY!!!!”

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Listen, I love my little one, but he sounds like a broken record when he says my name.

Insert Family Guy meme of Stewie screaming Mummy on a continuous loop at Lois

I want to share every moment with my kids, but sometimes as parent, we have to get things done, so that we can have more time to play. To a two-year-old that means nothing. Your attention as a parent is demanded and expected to be given at the drop of a hat

I have learned since my oldest became a toddler and stepped into his role of “emotional tiny human” to use what I like to call the “five-minute rule.” When he demands my attention with pleas of “up mommy, peas,” “mommy more cwackers,” or “again, again!” I ask him to give me five minutes.

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Folks, it’s amazing! Giving my child a timestamp has turned into my personal sanity saver! Now, he doesn’t fully understand the concept of time, but does accept the fact that I will be there, present and accounted for, when I am able to complete my tasks at hand.

Have I abused the five-minute rule in the past? I wouldn’t say abuse per se, but I have extended the five minutes to ten from time to time. With this said, I am always ready to leap into mommy action whether it’s five or ten minutes later. I have never neglected my children’s needs. Time is going by too fast and I want to be there for everything, but sometimes I need a moment to gather my thoughts and finish my work, so I can be there, fully present for my kiddos.

Have you tried the five-minute rule? Do you think you’ll give it a try? Let me know if it works for you!

3 Simple Ways to Ease Teething Pain

Someone please explain to me as to why both of my children started teething right at three months? Am I wrong in saying that teething usually starts later? It’s not just one or two teeth, it’s five or more at one time (insert OMG face).

My little one is handling his six, yes SIX, erupting teeth like a champ! He truly is one of the happiest babies around (knock on wood he stays that way). You wouldn’t know that he’s teething except for the fact that his fist is halfway down his throat.

As a parent, the last thing I want to see is my children in pain. I’ve tried many remedies and here are three simple ways I sooth my three-month old’s aching gums.

Massage baby’s gums – After washing my hands, I will take the tip of my index finger and gentle massage along my baby’s gum line. The slight pressure eases the throbbing pain, but encourages the baby fangs to make their appearance. Most of the pain comes from the buildup of the teeth attempting to break through, so this helps speed up the process.

Nuby Teething Bib – Oh how I love the Nuby Teething Bib! This BPA Free bib is perfect for the teething babe. The tip of the bib is equipped with a teething corner that my little one likes gnaw on with pure delight. Additionally, the bib is designed to collect all of the drool that streams down the little one’s face during this troublesome time.

Get your Nuby Teething Bib >> HERE<<

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Cold wash cloth – When the baby’s mouth is so little, frozen teethers can be too big and awkward to fit in the mouth, in return it is unable to fix the pain. By cooling off a wash cloth and rubbing it across their gums or allowing them to bite down can help take away some of the pain. Also, I don’t know about you, but I have an obscene amount of baby washcloths, so there are plenty to go around in my household.

If these suggestions don’t make a difference and the pain persists, always refer to your healthcare provider for additional input and potential solutions.

Now that I’ve said teeth, teething, teether, and gums an absurd amount of times, I want to know, what do you do to make it feel better to ease teething pains?

Storytime: A Toddler in Ikea

Am I the only one who fantasizes about living in an Ikea? I would float from room to room chowing down on Swedish meatballs and lingonberry spread without a care in the world. No. I’m the only one? OK, no problem!

As an adult, there is something truly magical about Ikea. The countless opportunities of different things you can do with your home is what dreams are made of. I work from home about 80% of the week, so having a workspace that is just mine and not that of my kitchen table, is extremely important. With this said, we went on a mission; a mission called “Project Get Hannah a Desk.”

I packed the diaper bag full of snacks, bottles, and juice. We loaded the ninos into the car and made the drive to the mega store also known as my future homestead.

PSA – Do not attempt to take two small children to Ikea by yourself. I am so lucky my husband was there to help.

When we arrived to Ikea, my toddler’s attitude changed right before my eyes. He went from a happy kid to that of an emotional mess. He lost his mind when we attempted to put him in the shopping cart. As he clung to my body, I made the decision to hold him throughout the store for as long as my arms could carry. As a parent, I have to pick my battles, and this was not a battle I was willing to take on.

Rorie at Ikea

About thirty minutes into the trek, he decided he was a big boy and would sit in the cart. The following 10 minutes were great and then he demanded his freedom from the metal entrapment. Listen, I don’t want to be that parent who let’s their kid run free throughout a store, so we kept him very close and of course, he hated it! What mother would I be if I didn’t frustrate my child at some point in his life?

So, we made it through the display floor of Ikea (applauds self), but it was the warehouse where everything really went South. My toddler sat on the furniture push cart as we maneuvered through the aisles grabbing the furniture we would take home to build.

Spacing on the cart was limited, and we had to take him off of the cart to load my new desk, but we were going to put him right back on. Well folks that’s when it happened – the meltdown to rule all meltdowns. He was inconsolable. The fact that we had put something on the chart threw him over the edge. We tried to reason with him, but the yells of frustration just got louder and louder, until finally I threw him over my shoulder and took him out to the car.

Every patron watched and stared as I marched out the front door into 95-degree weather, with a screaming toddler and sleeping baby in the stroller. You want to know something, I didn’t care. Of course this was a frustrating moment as a parent, but I did my best to remove us from the situation and tackle the problem while in the car. Of course, he calmed down once we got into the car and was sad he had to leave Ikea. We talked about why we had to leave and if he wanted to go back what he needed to do. He was as receptive as a two-and-a-half-year-old could be. I’ll take it as a small victory during the battle of tantrums.

Oh the mood swings of small child. You never know which way they are going to go! The lessons here folks are to first, reevaluate if you should take your small children to Ikea and two, keep you cool and help your kid process through all of the crazy emotions raging through their bodies.

Where were you the last time your toddler lost his/her mind? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.

Miffy Takes Her Adventure to Walmart

As my children age, their demands to have toys of their favorite household characters increases tenfold. Now my two-year-old would be happy with a cardboard box, but it’s always heartwarming to see the joy on his face when he receives a figurine set or stuffed plush of the characters he loves so much.

When my oldest was introduced to the delightful little white bunny, Miffy, he was hooked. He developed tunnel vision for Miffy and her friends. Trying to separate him from his “shows” and bedtime stories is an act of congress (he sleeps with his Miffy books at night). So, when we learned Miffy would have her own line of toys at Walmart, we were ecstatic!

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Miffy’s adventures now penetrate beyond animation and illustrations on a page, she is now a physical character my son loves. The MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush and MIFFY Little Blue Car are carried from room-to-room. They are attached to his hip and are showcased in my son’s personal show and tell productions.

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The MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush is extremely affordable and wonderfully soft. She is the perfectly sized companion to join my son from his car seat to the living room and finally to his bed at night. My son gazes with much affection at the little white bunny and gives her hugs on the regular. Before going to bed at night, he takes Miffy around the house and has every member of the family gets a goodnight kiss from Miffy herself.

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Get your MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush >> HERE <<

We recently added a scenic roadway rug to our kid’s playroom, and my two-year-old likes to drive his plastic toy cars along the streets and paths. Miffy’s adventures, both big and small, take to the streets on my son’s playroom floor with the MIFFY Little Blue Car figurine set. “Vroom, vroom” (as my son would say) Miffy goes speeding by as my son drives her from the mountains to the coast. Miffy has become a world class travelerwith my kid behind the wheel.

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Get your MIFFY Little Blue Car >> HERE <<

This new, and exciting Miffy product launch is what this mom, and her son’s, dreams are made of. I am able to reduce his screen time, and give him more playtime with Miffy and her friends. Check out this wonderfully and affordably made toy line, now available at your local Walmart and online >> HERE <<

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Make every day an adventure, be it big or small!

Find Miffy here:
Instagram – @Miffy_Official_USA
Twitter – @MiffyOfficialUS
Facebook – @MiffyandFriendsUS
Website – www.miffyfun.com

Make Bedtime an Adventure

My two-year-old recently reached the stage of “I don’t want to go to bed!” and let’s just say, it has been an experience. As he continues to grow, his personality gets bigger and bigger with each passing day. Listen, I appreciate his passion, but boycotting bedtime is not an option.

I’ve tried everything, from rubbing his back, infusing lavender into his room, and reading books over and over again, but nothing seemed to work. I’m constantly catching him on the baby monitor escaping his bed to take a casual lap around his room, throw his stuffed animals out the bed and scream “oh, no! Where are you [insert stuffed animal]?,” or pull out piles of books and take them to his bed.

Honestly folks, I didn’t know what to do, until we got our hands on a copy of Welcome to Miffy’s World. Who would have thought a little white bunny would be the answer to our prayers?

Just like Dick Bruna, who created Miffy to entertain his son and create dreams of adventure, we look to Miffy for inspiration. When we pull out this book my son is locked in. When he hears “in Miffy’s world, everyone works together to make each day an adventure,” he automatically starts saying “again mommy, again!” Since we love Miffy, I start the story over again without hesitation.

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To be so small, Miffy is constantly going on BIG adventures. From field trips with her class to the farm, to visits to the library with her aunt, or discovering new things with Uncle Pilot, there is never a dull moment with Miffy.

All of the fun things Miffy does creates conversations between my son and I. We talk about the journeys we can take in our dreams during bedtime. When he closes his eyes, he too can visit the cheeping chicks at the farm with Miffy. Storytime with Miffy also allows us to talk about the fun things we can do together (with the expectation of going to bed in order to do these things) like going to the zoo, the park, or the swimming pool.

I’m not going to lie, by introducing Miffy into our daytime and nighttime routines, thoughtful conversation between mommy and son, as well as a calming environment, my sweet yet energetic toddler goes to bed with ease.

If you have a toddler who is testing the concept of bedtime, I recommend taking a voyage into a world of imagination and adventure like Miffy and her friends, right before bed!

What is an essential part of your kid’s bedtime routine?

Find Miffy here:
Instagram – @Miffy_Official_USA
Twitter – @MiffyOfficialUS
Facebook – @MiffyandFriendsUS
Website – www.miffyfun.com