Stuff my Toddler Would Rather Play With

I know this isn’t news to someone who already has children, but I find it fascinating how little interest our 18 month old shows in his brightly colored, fun, interactive toys. He’d much rather play with all of the things that are not toys at all, and those things he is not supposed to touch. Here are just a few of little man’s favorite things:

Remote Controls

From a very early age, the little guy has loved remote controls. He frequently steals them, and intently pushes buttons as he aims at the television. In the process he has reset our wifi settings, changed the display settings and recorded numerous, odd infomercials and religious programming. Add cell phones and video game controllers to the list, too.

Toilet Paper

He loves taking long pieces of toilet paper from the bathroom and tearing them into tiny pieces as he wanders the house!

Couch Cushions

While he has a play tunnel and a play house, he’s much rather take the cushions from the couch to climb on!


I used to subscribe to Birchbox. For a while, he would sit and intently examine each of the bottles, tubes and applicators in each box. Eventually we had to put an end to this to avoid choking and disastrous messes.

Mommy’s Purse

This is especially fun at his brother’s basketball games. it doesn’t matter how many action figures I bring, he insists on taking everything out of mommy’s purse and handing the items to those sitting nearby.

Wallets and Credit Cards

My husband ended up putting together a wallet full of empty gift cards, so that the little guy could have a wallet of his own.

Dryer Sheets

I’m not sure if it is the texture or the transparency, but any time he finds a dryer sheet, he wanders the room using it to “clean.”

Mixing Bowls and Lids

This little boy now has his own set of mixing bowls in his play area. They serve as hats, mountains, and receptacles for all kinds of junk. In the kitchen, he really enjoys playing with the collection of lids, as well.


The more expensive, the better. He also enjoys daddy’s Microsoft band and mommy’s Apple Watch.

The Broom and Mop

Our little guy loves to grab the broom and “help!” And I can’t mop the floor without his help! I only hope this enthusiastic assistance continues into his teens!

What types of quirky things do your kids love to play with?


March Fitness Habits…Starting Off on the Wrong Foot

We are only six days into March, and my March goal of establishing more consistent fitness habits. I have to be honest, I definitely started off on the wrong foot.  At this point I should have gone to the gym three times, and I have gone only once.

I am not sure if my reasons for not making it to the gym are just excuses, or legitimate reasons. On Tuesday night, our sweet, teething little munchkin was up all night. No, really. All night. From 10:30 pm to 3:30 am. My husband and I went into Wednesday with about three hours of sleep under our belts. There was just no way that I could function at the gym. Getting through the day was going to be a challenge as it was.

I am also struggling to take the little guy to the gym. We went last Monday, and he had a tough time. We were only there for about thirty minutes, but when I picked him up from the kids club, his eyes were red from crying. Its tough to balance doing what is best for the little guy, and finding time to take care of myself.

This doesn’t mean I am giving up, of course. I am going to give it another try this week, starting with a trip to the gym in the morning. It is time. I only hope that, next Monday, I have some progress to report!

What tips and tricks to you have for getting yourself to the gym? And, how to you help your little one learn to enjoy the gym’s childcare center? Your tips, tricks and strategies are welcome!

This Beautiful Life

Life Lately

It was a busy but quiet week, if that even makes sense. Thank goodness it is Friday!

I know I have been sharing a lot of activities we’ve found for the little guy to keep him busy on cold, windy winter days. Another big hit has been finger painting. It is messy as can be, but he seemed to love it! I put him in the center of our island with paper and a plate full of paint and let him have at it! And then…he gets a bath.

The munchkin has been experimenting with climbing, a lot. He tries to climb on everything. So, we took some of the couch cushions off of the couch in our family room, and created a makeshift jungle gym. He couldn’t get enough.

And then he started giving my husband this face…we think it’s the, “Come and get me” face. 

This week, little man got to pick out a few books to check out from the library. He happily chose three books, all of which were pretty appropriate for his attention span! He couldn’t wait for daddy to get home, so he could show him what he got!

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend!


#2017ProjectChange: March Fitness Habits

Hello March, and hello new goal!! Now that I have finished up No-Spend January and a February Social Media Fast, it is time to move on to the goal I have been avoiding: going to the gym.

March Goal

Establish a fitness habit


Long, long ago, I was pretty darn fit. My close friend and I used to work out regularly after work almost every day of the week. I ate clean. I looked good, and I felt great. But since that point in my life, I have been unable to return to that same level of commitment, and that same level of fitness.  This month, I am not going to focus on losing weight, or eating clean. Instead, I’m going to focus on creating a habit; going to the gym regularly.

Now what?

Since having my munchkin, it has been increasingly difficult to find time and motivation to work out. As a work from home mom, when he sleeps, I have to work. I get up around 4am to work, and work after he is asleep for the night. That leaves little opportunity to hop on our treadmill. We joined a local gym a few months ago, but the little man has struggled a bit with the gym’s daycare. It is time, however, for me to stop with my excuses, and get back to the gym.

My plan:

  • Go to the gym four times each week for all of March: two weekend days, and two week days.
  • I’m not setting specific expectations for what I do while I am at the gym. I just have to go, and do something active, four times each week.
  • To hold myself accountable, I will check in once a week on my blog (bear with me).
  • By the end of March, I should have gone to the gym at least 16 times, and going to the gym should feel a bit more routine! Hopefully, by the end of March, the little man will enjoy the gym a bit more, too!

What strategies do you have to help you get back into the gym regularly? What has worked for you in the past? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.


My Social Media Fast Comes to an End

As February draws to a close, so does my social media fast. It was a surprisingly quick and relatively painless experiment. And my experience will definitely impact how I use social media, going forward.

My Experience

  • I was right. Social media keeps me from being 100% present with my son, my husband, and my family. In the past, I spent a great deal of time staring at my phone, absentmindedly.
  • Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel any “FOMO” during this period. Especially when I spent my occasional 5-10 minutes browsing Facebook at night.
  • Time On Facebook has been time wasted, for me. A month without Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat has allowed me to read more, write more, and think more.
  • My anxiety has lessened. I am not reading overwhelmingly negative news, and not seeing endless comments from internet trolls.

Moving Forward

Social media isn’t a horrible thing. It’s just important to use it in moderation. Going forward, I will continue to limit my social media use:

  • I intend to continue using Instagram and Facebook. They allow me to keep in touch with friends and family.
  • I will be more aware of how much time I spend on these sites and apps.
  • I am going to limit my feeds. This will allow me to still post and interact, while limiting my exposure to the negative.

Did you try a social media fast? How did it go? Share your experiences in the comment section below.


Life Lately

We have had our rice sensory bin for over a month now, and it never gets old. It is messy sometimes, and there is a never ending rice trail all over the house, but it’s so fun to watch him experiment and find new ways to play! And when gramma and pop pop come to visit, it becomes an instant beach!

We recently made the switch from a baby tub to the full sized tub for bath time. Our little guy loves bath time so much. More so now, than ever. But little man has made it very clear that he is not ready to give up his baby tub. Not yet. This morning, I found him in his tub, in our closet.


We visited the Denver Aquarium this weekend. It wasn’t little man’s first visit to an aquarium. We visited the aquarium at the Toledo Zoo in September. But it was our first visit to this aquarium. It was so fun to watch Baby B as he examined the different fish, and the various sea life throughout the aquarium. They even have a Finding Nemo themed aquarium, complete with clown fish, the Pacific blue tang, and sea anemone. He was not a fan, however, of the animatronic orangutan.

I try to keep the munchkin busy during the day. I have an inclination towards artsy, hands on activities. So I took to Pinterest for some ideas. I found this great idea from Tales of a Teacher Mom to try painting with water. I got construction paper and paint brushes. He loved experimenting with the different brushes, and splashing in the water. And best if all… clean up is easy!

painting-with-waterSo, I have this book, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is on the bookshelf in our closet. Baby B is fascinated with the book. Why? Because he is pretty confident that there is a picture of Pop Pop on the cover. He insists on pulling the book down, and staring at the picture!


Four Simple Steps to Being a Perfect New Mommy

Every mom would love to be the “perfect mom.” But being a mom, especially a new mommy, can be so overwhelming especially if, like me, you have had little experience with babies. There are so many questions to ask, so many books and websites to read and so many decisions to make.

As you prepare for your new baby, you are probably pondering a long list of questions:

  • Where will your baby sleep?
  • Will you breastfeed or use formula?
  • Will you vaccinate?
  • Will you circumcise?
  • How will you handle baby’s sleep?

The list goes on, and on.

What makes this more difficult, and overwhelming, is the amount of information available to “help” you answer all of these questions. The problem is, the information you find will be all over the place in terms of parenting philosophies. This conflicting information can be confusing, and stressful. To further add to this frustration, everyone you encounter will have their own “expert” advice for you, as well. Here is what you can expect (prepare yourself):

What is the best way to feed your baby?

Breastfeed. Breastfeed until two. Breastfeed in public. Definitely don’t breastfeed in public, you pervert. Formula feed.

When and how should you introduce solids?

Four months. Six months. Eight months. Do baby led weaning. Definitely don’t do baby led weaning. Make your own baby food. Don’t give that baby junk food. Don’t ever introduce solids. Organic only! No GMOs!

Where should your baby sleep?

Bed-sharing is best. Co-sleeping is best. Bed sharing is too dangerous. Use a bassinet. Use a Rock n’ Play. Rock N’ Plays are dangerous. Actually put baby in their crib, in their room, the very first night.

How should you get baby to sleep?

Put baby down drowsy, but awake. Rock your baby to sleep. Nurse your baby to sleep. Don’t create bad sleep habits. Use a swing. Use an exercise ball. Put your baby down and don’t come back until morning, no matter what.


Circumcise your son. He’ll be mortified if your don’t. Don’t circumcise. It’s his body, let it be his choice. Vaccinate! Diseases are scary! Don’t vaccinate! Autism! Pierce your daughter’s ears! No wait, don’t! Baby wear! Don’t baby wear! Don’t cut your baby’s hair…

You get my point. As new mommies (and daddies), we face so many decisions. There are so many conflicting opinions, and so much confusing “expert advice” available. So what is a mommy to do?

There are three steps you must take to be a perfect mom:

  1. Educate yourself, but don’t go too crazy. Know your options, and the pros and cons of each.
  2. Determine what you, your partner, your baby and your family needs.
  3. Make choices that will work best for your family’s lifestyle, and be flexible, knowing that when you hold your baby in your arms, you might feel differently. You might initially feel like bed sharing is too dangerous, but then find that you love it! Or vice versa.
  4. Be the perfect mom you are for your baby, and do it unapologetically. You are doing the right thing.

As a new mommy, I have experienced this all first hand. It becomes unnecessarily stressful. Being a mommy is hard enough. People are going to have their opinions about how you raise your baby, and they will make those opinions clear. Just be strong. For more about my own experience navigating the waters of motherhood, and my recommendations for surviving your first year, check out my book, Motherhood: Surviving the First Year: A guide to coping with unsolicited advice and endless criticisms in the Amazon store!

This Beautiful Life

Life Lately

Since I haven’t been posting on social media, I thought I would give a little “life update.” Here is what’s been happening in our world!

We have been suspecting that our little guy had allergies ever since we introduced solid foods. Certain foods would cause welts and hives on his face and neck. Last week, Baby B sat through a round of allergy testing. Sure enough, he had a reaction to a number of things including peanuts, tree nuts, soy and eggs. He was very brave, and we are relieved to have a better understanding of these reactions.We really enjoyed Valentine’s Day this year. We had agreed to exchange only small gifts this year. I made my hubby cookies, and bought him a few specialty beers. As always, he went above and beyond. Check out these gorgeous roses he had delivered (in a addition to a number of sweet, thoughtful and yummy gifts). 

My husband, munchkin and I continued our celebration with some delicious Mexican food and yummy margaritas at our favorite local Mexican restaurant! Check out my hot date! I am not sure why I didn’t get a picture of my mini-date, too!

You guys. It has been in the 60s this week in Colorado, in February. What is wrong with this picture? I won’t complain though, as my son and I spent some great time out in the sun, at the park.  We kicked the soccer ball around, and spent some time on the swings.

The little man has really been enjoying Toddler Time at the library! It is free, it is fun, and it gives him a chance to interact with other little kids! It is so fun to see him slowly coming out of his shell each week! Here he is, dancing to “The Milkshake Song.”


Four “Man Friendly” Meatless Meals

Over the last few years my husband and I have been steadily pursuing a healthier lifestyle. We try to stay active, and we have been transforming our diet. Most importantly our definition of healthy is changing. In the past, healthy meant bland salads, chicken breasts and steamed vegetables. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are healthy. But they are not sustainable. At least not for us. We decided to implement the following practices:

  • We try to purchase organic, non-GMO foods whenever possible
  • We consume fewer processed foods, in favor of whole foods
  • We eat far less meat, and far more plant-based foods
  • We avoid fast food and eating out as much as possible

One of the biggest changes to our diet has been switching to primarily vegetarian dinners. Not just meatless Monday. Meatless most days. I think we were both a bit unsure of how feasible meatless dinners would be. I have spent a lot of time combing through Pinterest, trying to find yummy, healthy, meatless meals that we would both enjoy. Surprisingly, I found quite a few delicious recipes that both my husband and myself enjoy. Check out these man-friendly meatless meals. They are vegetarian, high in protein, easy to make and very satisfying.

Photo Courtesy of Recipe Runner

One Pot Cheesy Mexican Lentils, Black Beans and Rice by Recipe Runner

This recipe is perfect to help curb those Mexican food cravings (which I experience almost daily). It’s spicy, its hearty ands so tasty!  Control the spicy factor by choosing your enchilada sauce wisely!

Image courtesy of Sweet Peas and Saffron

One Pot White Bean Pasta with Asparagus and Leeks by Sweet Peas and Saffron

This is one of our favorites. I appreciate the ease of one-pot meals, especially when trying to make dinner with a one and a half year old baby in tow. And the unique mix of flavors in this dish is light and refreshing.

Image courtesy of Sweet Peas and Saffron

Gnocchi, White Bean and Sun Dried Tomato Skillet by Sweet Peas and Saffron

This is my husbands favorite. I substitute asparagus for the mushrooms. This dish is a comforting, delicious meal that’s perfect for chilly winter nights.

Photo courtesy of EatGood4Life

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole by EatGood4Life

Make this recipe when you are craving macaroni and cheese! I was surprised how delicious, and healthy, this dish is! And it makes a ton! So I could enjoy leftovers all week.

And check back soon for more man friendly meatless meal ideas! Don’t forget to check out the recipes and blogs listed above to try these recipes for yourself! Do you have any favorites? Comment below with your meatless meal recommendations!

Check out Part II of Man Friendly Meatless Meals


February Social Media Fast: Halfway There

As you may know, my goal for February was to spend less time on social media. I decided to remove my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat apps from my phone, and I have limited the amount of time that I spend on Facebook. I didn’t want to deactivate my accounts completely, as I use them for this site, and to stay connected with friends and family.

How is it going?

I am about two weeks in to my social media fast, and I have done quite well with sticking to my plan.

  • All of the apps remain deleted from my phone.
  • On occasion, I spend ten to fifteen minutes on Facebook in the evenings, primarily to check my RunawayTeacher page.

Is a social media fast really effective?

I have to admit I am already noticing the positive impacts of these simple changes.

  • I am much more present throughout the day. I don’t think we realize how much time we spend mindlessly staring at Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, detached from what is happening in the moment.
  • My mood, or sense of well being, is improving dramatically. I did not realize how much I was impacted by what I was seeing on Facebook. The recent political climate, and the barrage of political posts, internet trolls and unwarranted attacks were really taking a toll on me, causing stress, anxiety and worry.
  • I am finding better ways to spend downtime. When my son naps, or when I’m nursing him to sleep, I have been catching up on my favorite blogs, reading the news, and most importantly writing blogs! Did I mention I am also learning Photoshop? In my spare time, I managed to design my new logo.

The downside

I will be honest and admit that removing myself from social media has made be feel a bit more isolated at times. When I am awake with my son at 2 am, I used to find solace in my favorite Facebook groups like Nursing the Littles or the Wonder Weeks groups. And I definitely miss Instagram, where I could keep up with my “virtual” mommy friends, and their babies who are the same age as my son.

Moving forward

  • I am going to just keep doing what I am doing in regard to my social media fast.
  • Long term, I may keep these apps off of my phone. If anything, I may reinstall Instagram, but access the other sites on my computer, only.
  • If nothing else, this is helping me to understand just how much time I waste on social media, and how much all of the negativity impacts me.

Are you taking a break from social media? Share your experience. Leave your comments and thoughts below!