5 Potty Training Must-Have Products

A while back, just before Henry was 2 1/2 we decided to take the plunge into potty training. After doing some research, talking to a few fellow mom friends I got the “Oh Crap Potty Training” book. I took my time reading and then we decided to take the plunge! I followed it mostly, but did make a few tweaks along the way due to Henry’s personality and with him being in a crib we decided to wait on night training. Now if I would’ve known we were going to be quarantined a month or so later, I would’ve just waited because you really have to stay home and concentrate at this big task… oooh, the irony!

I’ve been meaning to do this but am finally getting around to sharing my 5 favorite products we used during this time for anyone else that is getting started for this big milestone!

 

Oh Crap Potty Training Book, click here for the link. Like I had mentioned, we followed this pretty much fully, but I did make some tweaks like prizes the first week or so and holding off on night training.

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Bjorn Toilet Training Seat, click here for the link. So I know, this is a little expensive, but it really is my favorite. Henry preferred this over the actual potty seat from day one. It has the pee guard and is just super sturdy for your wiggly toddler.

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Training Undies, click here for the link. These have extra padding to help catch any leaks getting to the potty which are great when you’re on the go in the newly trained stages.

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Potty Chair, click here for the link. To this day, I always have this in my trunk because I realized how gross toddlers are in public bathrooms. They. touch. every. thing. Plus, you know, COVID. I got it originally thinking it’d what he train on, but he preferred the seat like I mentioned before!

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Travel Potty Seat, click here for the link. This little guy folds up in a neat little bag and you can throw in your diaper bag for that middle of the Target trip scream of “I HAVE TO GO POTTY!”.

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Bonus tip: Grab a pack of Post-it notes to cover the automatic flusher in public bathrooms! The last thing you want is a toddler scared of the potty!

 

I’m always here to answer questions on what worked for us! Good luck and congrats!

Xo, Anna

An Ambulance Ride

When the newborn sleepless fog began to lift, Henry was about 4 months old. We headed to my parents for my dad’s birthday party. For whatever reason, Henry flipped. Like no other flip out before. Not a colicky thing, it was so much more intense… He would not stop crying, okay more like screaming, for anything! For like a really long time. He wouldn’t nurse, he wouldn’t sleep, he was just screaming. I couldn’t soothe him, Nick couldn’t, my mom couldn’t… and at one point I just broke down with an overwhelming fear something was wrong. This was the first of his episodes (it’s what we would end up calling them). These episodes would continue to happen in the next week or so and I was just chalking it up to just a really fussy baby with some clueless first-time parents.

Then the day of Henry’s four-month well visit came. It happened again… in front of the doctor… and he couldn’t stop… and I couldn’t calm him down. I was helpless. The doctor kept coming back into the room, telling me “I’m sorry if you can’t calm I’m down soon we need to talk” and she kept checking his pulse and heart rate. I knew something was wrong. He screamed his lungs out for probably an hour. His pulse and heart rate were scary high. Our doctor needed him to be check for a heart condition ASAP and an ambulance was on the way.

I was so scared. Not to mention I was so upset that even all of these nurses and doctors couldn’t do anything else but just pitying me and my screaming baby. Nothing anyone could do could was calming him. But wasn’t I supposed to know how? I’m his mom. But I didn’t…

Just as the ambulance pulled into the doctor’s office he had worn himself and fell asleep in my arms. This episode had finally ended. The doctor was still extremely concerned that he had this type of heart condition that essentially is that his heart rate would get so high it literally didn’t know how to slow down in these moments. Which obviously isn’t a good thing and would need to be managed.

Then there before my eyes was my baby was on a strapped to a stretcher going into an ambulance. A sight I will never forget and I know has shaped me into the kind of parent I am today.

Once we were at the children’s hospital, we had a pretty crappy experience but the most important part Henry was fine. His tests came back negative and we were diagnosed with a really high strung baby who would eventually grow out of it. Which as difficult as he was as a baby, thank God, that’s all it was.

I spent the rest of the year on eggshells trying to not set him off one of his episodes because truthfully, I couldn’t bear not being able to calm him. It was so embarrassing to me, let alone in public. Eventually we figured out what would likely set him off and got him on a strict schedule because it was the only thing that actually helped. He couldn’t be overtired and he liked knowing what to expect. Which left little time for outings and forget leaving him with a babysitter.

Throughout the year I’d say he was just a fussy baby. But really we had a fussy baby, I mean, we had a really fussy baby. Gosh, he even freaked the doctors out. He was freaking tough. Only a few people witnessed these episodes, just family really, who can attest to his stubborn screaming fits.

As time went on, he mellowed out. Like a lot. It’s like as soon as he could start talking he felt more comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, he can still throw an epic crying fit but more like the standard toddler would not the medically threatening kind.

Not too long ago, I started to feel myself relax and be able to enjoy things as thoroughly as I should without worrying so much. I think back and wonder if I did have postpartum anxiety … I think probably so. Did I realize it at the time? Maybe, but those stupid forms I had to fill out with a screaming baby in my arms didn’t do anything. Did friends hint that I should mellow out? For sure. Did they know the whole story? Would the even get it? Probably not because I wouldn’t go around anyone with him to witness it.

Why am I sharing it now? Truthfully, I don’t know. I just know writing it out was therapeutic, like a weight has been lifted and I will share it in case it can help even one person. Some days I find myself slipping back to that heavy weighted feeling in my chest and it’s hard. I know to most people I have outwardly seemed like I have it all together as a mom (maybe?😅) and it’s most certainly not true. We all have stories that shape us and this is part of mine.

Xo, Anna

Finding Confidence in Motherhood

Finding Confidence in Motherhood

Hey mama,

Have a seat, let’s chat… Becoming a mom rocked my confidence, which is actually super ironic considering I look pretty damn put together in this photo and I truly believe all moms are superwomen. That is literally one of the only things I remember saying immediately after my son was born… that I felt like a superwoman (ask my husband!) So if anything I should feel more confident than ever right? Well, I don’t.

Before becoming a mom, I was in a few successful sales roles speaking on behalf of companies to new strangers on a daily basis, which isn’t really a job you can have without confidence. I also knocked on everyone’s dorm door during my first week of college to introduce myself and make some new friends. Two things that actually make me squirm now. Where did THAT confidence go?!

This happens to so many of us, whether it be hormones, deciding to stay home majority of the day, the changes in our bodies or the enormous weight upon our shoulders to raise this tiny human right all while gripping on to our last bit of identity before we were born into our new role as a mother.

Read that again. Because that’s A LOT. A lot of newsness and just a lot of quick change of things that are really, really important to many of us.

But I’m here to remind you that you are superwoman and we are ALL a work in progress, mama. Whether you bounce back “quickly” or not, it’s OKAY. It’s taken me closer to two years to really feel a build on my confidence again. I wish I could wave a magic wand over all of us and poof it would be there… but I don’t. What I can give you lots of support, encouragement and like many have done for me in this process.

So keep your chin up, pour some more coffee, and keep going. I’m rooting for us because we deserve it.

Xo, Anna

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Why Visiting the Library is a Secret Ingredient to Toddlerhood

 

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When is the last time you visited the library? It may be a little intimidating to walk back into a place where an older generation frequents and is staring at you as a clueless millennial… especially with a moody toddler in hand. But trust me, it’s worth taking the plunge! Before Henry, it had been a loonng time for me.

Henry has been in love with books since he was born. It still is so fun to watch him flip and inspect the pages! I could spend a small fortune on buying him books. Luckily, we live near a really nice library and who knows, you may live near one too! Here is why visiting the library is a secret ingredient to toddlerhood.

  1. All the books (obviously).
    • With a toddler’s ever-changing interests it can feel impossible to keep up with! So having all of these books on all subjets at your disposal is huge!
    • Pro tip: Use the online catalog ahead of time- I always search things Henry is into (filter into the kid’s section) and it will bring up all the book titles in that theme. Browse through and see what sparks your interest. Sometimes, I even go onto Amazon and read the reviews/get a peek into the book. This makes it easy to get books you know your kid will like rather than aimlessly trying to look at titles while also watching your wandering kiddo. You can then request them and pick them up, right at the front desk!
  2. Different toys.
    • There are toys that may be the same as the ones you have at home but are in a different place making them extra fun again!
  3. Social Interaction
    • Not always, but a lot of times there is usually someone else there for you and your kid to interact with! Some little boy read Henry a book today and it was the sweetest thing ever while I chatted with the boy’s mom. Big win for the both of us!
  4. Storytime and other events.
    • Storytime is a good activity to just get you and little on out of the house especially during the cold weather months. Lego classes, music classes, all of the things to give you something to do!
  5. DVDs.
    • Not only does our library have all the books, but there is also a huge DVD collection! Since video rental stores are no longer in existance (boo hoo) it’s a fun alternative to try new movies.
  6. It’s free.
    • Sign up for that library card, stat.

Disclaimer: If your kiddo is anything like mine, know that pages will accidentally get ripped. Our library is very understanding about it, so invest in some clear tape next time you are at Target.

Now, are you convinced to go try out your local library? You can follow along on my Instagram page to see what books we check out each week at @Anna__Hinkle! Happy reading!

Xo, Anna

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Our Essential Baby Items (0-6 months)

Our Essential Baby Items (0-6 months)

Hey, mama (or dada)!

Congrats on your bundle of joy and entering this crazy fun yet, exhausting world of parenthood. So you’re probably trying to prepare for the baby and it’s getting overwhelming trying to pick what gear to get. I’ve been there! Ultimately you will find out what works for you and your little one cause they truly are all so different. I’m sorry to share that, unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers for you. The great news is that you’ll know your baby the best before you know it, which is an amazing feeling.

I decided to go ahead and share my favorites items for the first six months when you’re pretty deep in the trenches and probably a little delirious. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of 2 am Amazon Prime shopping after googling “how to make my baby sleep without me holding him”.

Disclaimer:  I’m not including, diapers/wipes/bottles/stroller/car seat because like, of course, you need those things and just do your research! Do take my advice and get your belly to the store to test out strollers for your height and try lifting/putting back together. That’ll make your decision real quick!

Anyway, here were our essential baby item lifesavers…

  1. Gerber Soothe Probiotics… We swore on these drops when Henry began becoming super fussy and colicky. They helped him go #2 regularly which quickly becomes an exciting event as a parent I’ve learned, ha! Gas drops are what everyone tells you about, but our doc urged us to give these a try. She was right… worth their weight in gold for our family!
  2. The Shusher… This thing is actually kind of ridiculous but it works! Our photographer had it for Henry’s newborn photos and he was so chill during so we decided to get it for our fussy babe. It really helped him calmed down and saved us from having to say “shhh” a zillion times as he responded really well to that sound for calming. Save yourself the energy when you need it most and grab it here.
  3. Swaddle Me Swaddles… These were the best for our swaddle escape artist! I loved how easy they were to use for my hubby and I. Plus, Henry would sleep like a dream in them! Find them here.
  4. Fisher Price Kick piano… This little toy was so fun for our little guy. After we had him I saw that they now make these pianos attached to a play gym which I’d totally get if I had known they were available!
  5. The Sleepeasy Solution Book… I really enjoyed this book for sleeping tips and tricks because they truly helped and worked. Lucky for us, Henry has always been a good night time sleeper. Naps on the other hand… we have had our trying moments! He was very sensitive to getting overtired and would have some epic meltdowns. This book got us on back on track with watching his wake times to avoid those dreaded, loud meltdowns, ha!
  6. Cloud Island sleepers… These are the best little things to keep your babe in. The zipper on this brand is the best because they are inverted, plus they have built in mittens! There are so many adorable outfits out there but at the end of the day they aren’t comfy for your kiddo, they are a PIA to constantly take on and off for diaper changes… aaaaand there’s a good chance they will be covered in spit up by noon. So just buy the sleepers, all the sleepers, but especially these ones. Here ya go.
  7. Bouncer seat… Or I’m sure a swing would work too! Our pack n play came with a super simple bouncer vibrating seat that Henry would nap in a lot and give my arms a break! This pack n play was my favorite because of the changing station too. This whole set up was in our living room pretty much for a solid 6 or more months.
  8. Infant Optics Monitor… Henry straight up hated his bassinet. He would not sleep in it. Out of frustration one night we set him in his crib and he was so happily falling asleep. But wait, they recommend your babe sleep in the same room for the first 6 months ::gasp:: Oh well, we’re tired.. just invest in a nice monitor and you’ll all be sleeping better in no time.

Let me know if you have any questions about the products listed above. These ideas are truly my own and not sponsored in any way (though I wish). Of course, if you have questions about the standard gear, I’m happy to share our experience. Just let me know! Good luck and enjoy those baby snuggles!

Xo, Anna

Easter Basket for Toddlers

Hey, guys!

Can you believe that I’m actually ahead of the game in for a holiday blog post? I found myself wandering the aisles of Target (yet again, who else is ready for spring?) and stumbled upon the Easter section. It seems crazy early, but I know that their holiday selections get picked over fast so I decided to jump on it to get first dibs! So you are wondering… what does one put in an Easter basket for a toddler that isn’t full of candy? Well, I came up with some great ideas that I would love to share with you all! Now keep in mind my kiddo will be 18 months around Easter so he is a young toddler, but I’d say these ideas can work for your older toddler too.

Let’s start with the basket. I got his basket from Target last season and though they don’t seem to have this specific design anymore, there are plenty of other super cute and affordable options. Check them out here.

Now it’s time to fill it up! Here’s what I got…

  1. Easter Eggs (duh!). I grabbed some larger size eggs to “hide” for him and some to open with his basket. I plan on filling them with stickers (just cut out single stickers of a sheet to fit) and little animal figurines. Hot wheel type cars would also fit in these eggs I would bet!
  2. Duplo Legos. They had the cutest set for 5 bucks at Target that was for building a duck! They had a real lego bag Easter themed set for older kiddos too. I can’t find the exact one online, but something like this would be a cute option too!
  3. Art Supplies. I grabbed Henry a new tablet to put all those stickers onto it and one of these stain glass paper kits to try (at the store they have them sold separately).
  4. Books. I love getting Henry themed books for the holidays, so for this Easter, I grabbed Biscuit’s Pet and Play Easter. He loves dogs and those touches and feel books so this book was a winning combo.
  5. Okay, so I did go for candy too. I grabbed some mini M&M’s for him to try. He spits everything sweet out so we will see if he likes this treat! You could also do pouches, puffs, goldfish, or fruit snacks too!
  6. Some other ideas that I had that aren’t included in Henry’s basket that I’ll save for another yet… a new sippy filled with goodies, movies, “coupons” for activities like a date with mom, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and play doh!

That’s it! I hope you found these ideas helpful in building your little one’s basket this year. Happy Easter!

Xo, Anna

Easy Valentine’s Day Craft

Any other mama’s out there to a taby? Yea, that is not a typo! A taby is a toddler-baby aka a one year old. It’s a word I discovered while scouring the internet in how to entertain my newly walking, stir crazy kiddo this winter! If you’re in my shoes you know that the attention span of a one-year-old is crazy small, their motor skills still need a lot of work anddddd if they are anything like Henry… want to chew on everything. Mainly wanting to chew everything is our main obstacle with activities over here. One thing that has worked for us is stickers! Okay, so he isn’t the greatest at it, but with a little help, it keeps in occupied for a solid 5-10 minutes (sometimes, haha). To get in the Valentine’s Day spirit, I grabbed some festive stickers for Henry to “make” his very own Valentine’s Day cards!

What you’ll need:

  • Construction Paper
  • Stickers (I found these cute ones at the Target dollar spot)
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie Pen

Feel free to use your creativity here, but I just happen to cut rectangles on a whim out of construction paper, then had Henry go to town with stickers. Cutting the paper into hearts if you actually plan in advance (unlike myself) would be super cute! I still have to peel the sticker off, but let him pick ones he wants off the sheet and help put them on the paper wherever he wishes. After that, I wrote a little message and viola… homemade Valentines and easy taby entertainment. You can see ours in the photo below!

Happy Valetine’s Day, mama! Enjoy!

 

Xo, Anna

Three years.

Here I am again apologizing for the lack of time that has passed since my last blog post. I saw today that almost three years have passed since I started blogging again. Then I got disappointed with myself. I have a degree in marketing, I’ve had jobs in social media, and sales. I actually feel really confident that I could be great at this, given the time/energy but as of now, I’m not. I started asking myself “what have I been even doing!?”.

:: bear with me here::

Then I started scrolling… oh you know, the dreaded Instagram scroll where you get lost and then an hour goes by. Except this scroll was different, I did it on my own page. Then it hit me, I’ve done A LOT in the last three years and I started jotting these things down. I have…

Planned a wedding

Got married

Got laid off

Was on unemployment

Started a new job

Traveled to Jamaica, Hawaii, Michigan, Deep Creek Lake, West Virginia, Niagara Falls

Lost a friend

Gained new friends

Bought a house

Got pregnant

Moved in the house

Morning All day sickness, yet gained extra lbs

Made a house into a home

Birthed my son

Became a MOTHER

Cried a lot

Laughed a lot

Breastfed for 7 months

Navigated ridiculous hormone shifts

Had a migraine for a week straight… multiple times

Found myself

Lost myself

Let go of little things

Held tighter to bigger things

Rode in an ambulance

Somewhat successfully mind read my tiny human 24/7

Became an aunt for the third time

And the list goes on…

 

You get the idea. The point is that a lot has happened for me. Probably less than some and more than others. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and my hobbies falling short, the idea is that I should be feeling gratitude. Gratitude for the things that I’ve experienced and lessons I’ve learned in the last three years. There have been many highs and many lows as I pick myself up and navigate my newest role as a mother all while trying maintaining pieces of my original identity. This process alone can feel overwhelming, time-consuming and confusing. So my thought to you is the next time you are feeling low, start jotting down everything you’ve done the last three years whether it be big or small, if it comes to mind write it down. Then you’ll see how much you actually are doing.. and living!

Xo, Anna

3 Ways To Get Out Of Your Fashion Rut (New Mom Edition)

Hello, world! I’m back! I’d love to be better with blogging but honestly I’ve been lacking inspiration. My life is basically all about Henry which is amazing, but I always find myself questioning just how much I was to share his life with the world. I keep trying to find a delicate balance so thanks for your patience!

Anyway, the other day I found myself staring into my closet and feeling so bored. I know we all feel that way at times, but I really took a step back and tried to figured out why I was feeling this way. I have built a closet full of basic and classic pieces that I would always have then play with accessories to liven them up or give them a more trend-forward look. But now… my hair constantly has to be up in a ponytail and jewelry has to be minimum to none because Henry will just pull everything he can get his little hand onto! After he broke my smallest necklace that I didn’t even realize those tiny fingers could grasp, I’ve basically given up on the jewelry game for now. Does anyone else’s little one like to grab on to their hair too? So what’s a mom on a budget to do in order to liven things up in this situation and feel a little more trendy again? I’ve found three quick and easy solutions that are also new mom friendly aka little effort. Hah, enjoy!

1.Headbands!

This trend is back and I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s a great way to liven up a messy ponytail full of dry shampoo. Plus, they are great for summer! I just bought this pack from Amazon.

2. Kimonos!They are always so colorful with fun prints and in my opinion the best summer layering piece to have in your closet. It’s so easy to throw one on over a solid tee or tank to liven things up. They often can also be used as swim suit cover ups. I found this one at Marshalls, but I’ve seen them everywhere lately!

3. Go shopping with this specific goal in mind or schedule a Fix!

As you may know I’m a stylist with Stitch Fix which allows me to style my own fixes if I so choose… but its a blessing and a curse! Having a new set of eyes on your style is sometimes all you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Though I still styled myself in my most recent Fix, this time I really tried to style myself as an actual client asking for fun details/prints/accessories to get out a fashion rut. I’m excited about my choices and I ended up keeping 3/5 pieces. Two printed tops and one with super cute embroidery detailed top now have been added to my wardrobe!

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix, sign up here… https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/6126849?som=c&sod=i

Do you have any ideas I’m not thinking of? Talk soon!

Xo

Anna

Lactation Bites

Lactation BitesHi, all!

After a nice long 16 weeks of maternity leave, I started back to work last month. Luckily, I get to work from home, but that can definitely get interesting with a baby along for the ride. I cut back my work hours to help manage it all, but that’s left little time for blogging still. I think eventually we will get into the swing of things over here, but for now, I’m barely keeping afloat with work and Henry! Does anyone have any tips or is it just one of those things that gets better as your kiddo gets older and requires less attention? Or does that just bring on a new set of challenges? Time will tell!

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Anyway, I don’t make much of anything from scratch in the kitchen anymore, but I have been making these Lactation Bites (or Boobie Balls, is what my husband calls them) all the time. Anything that requires minimal ingredients and no baking is a win in my book. When I started pumping to try and build a stash for times I’m away from Henry, I realized quickly that I definitely do not have an oversupply of breastmilk. How was I supposed to feed him AND have extra to save? After talking to a friend, she suggested making these bites to help build up my supply. I do think they help give me a little boost and I now have a small freezer stash of breastmilk which is a big victory in my book! There are a zillion different recipes for them out there, but I thought I’d share how I make them. The oatmeal and flaxseed are the two big important ingredients here in helping your supply.

lactation bites

 

  • 2 cup dry oatmeal
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup flaxseed
  • 2/3 cup raw honey
  • Combine all in a bowl. Wet hands and roll into ball size of your choice. Set in fridge to cool!

Ta-da! That’s it! Believe it or not, I have messed these up. Sleep deprivation is SO real, my friends. Luckily, Henry has been sleeping through the night for the last month or so (::knock on wood::), so the world is becoming a little less blurry again. We are at about 5 months of exclusively breastfeeding, which I’m super proud of! Breastfeeding is something that I knew would have its challenges, but it’s so rewarding. I also feel very fortunate we’ve been able to go this long. Stay tuned for a blog post in the next month or so about our experience as I’m making the super tough decision to probably stop soon. Oh my goodness, I got teary-eyed typing that. Okay, more on that topic another time. Have a great week!

Xo, Anna