Bath time at the Bears’ House

Bath time with two has never been an easy. When Olivia was a newborn, it meant having an entirely different bath for each child, which usually resulted in Patrick pitching a fit that he couldn’t play in the water, even if that water was just a simple sink bath. I admit I was relieved when Olivia got older, became better at sitting up unassisted and taking more interest in baths because I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were both in the tub at the same time. Right around the seven month mark I started letting the kids take baths together and we haven’t looked back since.

Going from one infant in a small tub by themselves and one toddler in a large tub by themselves to the infant and toddler sharing one large tub at the same time wasn’t easy. Patrick had to adjust to the fact that his space was that much more confined, his splashing had to be minimized, and in general bathtime became quieter affairs. And Olivia had to adjust to the fact that she was mostly immersed in water, being splashed by her older brother, and any toys I might try to put in front of her were suddenly commandeered because Patrick decided that they were “No, mine!” There were no shortage of outbursts and tantrums those first few months, but with a little patience – and a lot of bubbles – we’re now pretty much in a bath paradise.

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Travel Toys at the Target One Spot

We’re leaving for our annual trip to visit Mr. Bee’s parents in the Philippines next week, which means that I’ve been in full-on preparation mode! The trip is 3 flights one way, and about 40 straight hours of travel. I was terrified the first year we made this trip when Olive was 9 months and Charlie was 2 1/2, but this is our third year in a row going so they’ve become pretty seasoned travelers.

In the past I’ve taken a lot of toys because I was worried about keeping them entertained for so long, but I found that they really didn’t need very many. For the most part they were entertained just by being on the plane. And now that they’re both older (2 1/2 and 4 1/2), tv shows, movies, and games will definitely help keep them occupied. So I tried to keep it pretty simple this year. I purchased a travel Guess Who game for them to play together, and this stickerless version of the Rubik’s cube for Charlie. I’m also taking some playdoh because both of them never tire of playing with it. Finally I hit up the One Spot at Target (since we don’t have a dollar store near us), and this is what I got:

Most of these items are art-themed (though they did also have some toys) because art keeps Charlie and Olive occupied way longer than toys.

- A Hello Kitty and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles box. Charlie and Olive love little boxes of all kinds. They can store their art supplies in here.

- Imagine Ink Coloring Books – I’ve purchased these off Amazon for $7, but they usually have them for $3 in the Target One Spot so I stock up. They include a clear mess-free marker that magically reveals a colorful image when they color in the pages. Charlie and Olive adore these! It’s very satisfying and easy, similar to the Water Wow Coloring books.

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Effective Discipline at Age 3 with 1, 2, 3 Magic

I’ve found that as my kids grow, I’ve had to change up our methods of discipline a bit to fit with their age.  At age 1, there wasn’t much discipline going on, and a lot of redirection. At age 2, we started implementing time-outs, which we called “calm down time.” She did not seem to mind time outs, and even willingly put herself there at times, but it was still very effective for us because it helped her calm down and recollect herself. After the “time outs” were over, I would give her a hug, tell her I loved her, and tell her why she was put in time out. Then all was forgotten and she’d happily go about her merry way.  It was a good reset for all of us.

Then age 3 hit, and the defiance, willpower, and opinions got even more intense. A simple time out wasn’t cutting it anymore, and it did not calm her down as easily as it once did.  Something shifted in her too, and she suddenly hated time-outs.  This was when we turned to 1, 2, 3 Magic. I had read this book when Noelle just turned 2, but when we tried it at that age, it didn’t really click for her. Now, whenever she doesn’t listen to us I will immediately start counting, “1… 2…”, and I rarely have to reach the count of 3 before she starts yelling, “waiiiit!!!” and does what she’s supposed to be doing.

In 1, 2, 3 Magic, the authors also distinguish between START and STOP behaviors.  You only want to count 1, 2, 3 on STOP behaviors such as whining, teasing, tantrums, arguing, etc. These are things that you can nip in the bud right away.  Stuff that only takes about a second for them to stop doing.

What you don’t want to count is START behaviors (behaviors you want your kids to START doing) such as picking up after themselves, getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating, homework, and bedtime. It takes a lot longer for them to do these things, and these are the types of things you’d want to reinforce through positive reinforcement. Basically, you want to stop obnoxious behavior, but encourage positive behavior. Things like reward charts, timers, praise, and natural consequences work much better for START behaviors.  For us, using a timer has been really effective in promoting START behaviors in our daughter.

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Photographing the Everyday

When I first got into photography, I remember staring at pictures of children frolicking in wildflowers, having tea parties in enchanted forests, and rolling in lush rolling meadows. I wanted those images until I realized that that wasn’t real life (at least for me). Most days my life is mired in typical suburbia with its neat little development of homes and the occasional trip to the park, or even better Target!  While those pictures I mentioned earlier were amazing (and I will take some one day!!), I also wanted to take photos of my kids’ actual lives and not the ones I dreamed up for them. I started to look at how I could take my real world life and try to embrace and create something lovely out of the mundane, the routine, the everyday which truly is our lives.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned.


Light truly is what separates a beautiful photo from an ok photo. I have learned to watch and study the light and how it falls in my home. First thing in the morning in both Drake and Juliet’s room the light is really lovely, so I often try to walk in with camera in hand to catch them in it. It’s also is fun to catch them doing whatever they do before I go in to get them in the morning.

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The Post Baby Hair Chop

Oh my lovely long hair, I never wanted to part with you. Perhaps it was because I looked like a boy when I was younger since I had no hair. Or maybe because you are the security blanket for my double chin. Whatever the case, I love you.

But with the extreme heat of the summer, waking up in night sweats, and having Baby Pencil cling to you, I feel as though I have no choice. You’re almost always up in a messy ponytail anyway. Plus, you take forever to dry and time is just not what I have right now! So what’s the use?  Let’s break it off.

Chop chop!

The reason I got it cut was to have it more manageable and easy for a quick ‘do. I typically like trying brand new salons by telling them to do whatever they want. It’s my way of judging them on their artistic skill. I didn’t even tell her how short I wanted it, just that I wanted it shorter. She ended up chopping a good 6 inches off, which I was ok with, but I just didn’t like the style…

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Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

I don’t know about where you all are, but it’s really hot here. And despite having central A/C on 24/7, my beloved morning cup(s) of coffee are way too hot to handle right now. For the past few years I’ve been brewing coffee in our french press at night to have over ice in the morning. But life is hectic and I often forget. So imagine my delight when I spotted cold brew coffee concentrate at Trader Joe’s earlier this summer. A week or two worth of ice coffee sitting ready in the fridge! Then imagine my surprise when a girlfriend told me she’s been making her own cold brew concentrate with her favorite coffee for years. I could make my own and not have to brave traffic when I run out? Life changing.

So, let’s make some cold brew iced coffee concentrate together.

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Favorite Parenting Books – From Pregnancy Through Toddlerhood

Ever since my grandfather taught me how to read and gave me free reign of his gigantic library, I have been a huge book nerd. I am also a planner by nature and an operations manager for a living, so when we found out we were expecting, it was unquestionable that I was going to load my Kindle with as much reading material as I could about what to expect and how to deal with it all. For those who are like me, or are just looking for some resources or fun reads, this is my essential reading list. I present this with a caveat that I know people like and hate some of these books with a passion. Descriptions and opinions of the books here are my own, and I always encourage everyone to read more about a book and its approach to decide if it’s for you.

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