Toys that get serious play year after year

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As a young toddler, Holden always had one eye on Julian’s garbage truck toy. Whenever we went for a playdate, he’d seek out this same toy. Each time a birthday or holiday rolled around, he’d ask for his very own garbage truck. I don’t know why I resisted so long (oh yeah — it was about $100!!) but the sheer play value over the years makes me wish I bought it sooner. Lucky you, now it is a mere $89.

Our favorite toys hold their value and get serious play year over year; they are fun solo and with friends. My kids would flip out if I tried to box up their LEGO collection, the Magna-Tiles, or the Quadrilla marble runs. Unfortunately, I cannot offer you a guarantee that they will get such love at your house because… Kids!

9 gender-neutral toys for kids

Here are a few others we love:

My little guys can anthropomorphize miniature animals and action figures with the best of ’em. This wicked cool doll house would be so welcome in our playroom (more gender-neutral faves) as it is in near constant use at the preschool.

Wicked cool fun house for boys and girls

I saw this dollhouse masquerading as a two-foot-tall rocket ship last week on a playdate and instantly put it on our Sawyer’s wish list (see more boy-friendly dollhouses)!

kid craft rocket dollhouse for boys or girls [Read more…]

Turn your Picky Eater into a Little Leader

I’m happy to share a guest post today from a mom in the trenches who has had some success curbing her son’s picky eating tendencies. She shares her perspective with us today. Thanks to Jennifer from MomTricks.

Hello everyone! My name is Jennifer Taylor and I blog over at MomTricks. I thought writing about my experiences of helping my son overcome his picky-eating habits would be helpful to those of you going through the same. There’s nothing quite like the struggle of trying to get a picky eater to open up to new foods.

My son Alex, who turned 6 in January, was a very picky eater.  I couldn’t reason with him and begging wasn’t working any better. I thought I was a failure as a parent; this had to be my fault, right? I didn’t know it was normal for kids to refuse to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, so I blamed myself. Maybe it was the chicken fingers I gave him or the times we went to McDonalds for Happy Meals. I was sure it had something to do with my parenting.

From Picky Eaters to Little Leaders by momtricks writer [Read more…]

7 Different ways to throw a wicked good Baby Shower

Thanks to Desitin, my favorite booty cream, for sponsoring today’s post.

If you’re in charge of throwing the perfect baby shower, fear not! There are as many ways to do it – and not screw it up – as there are pregnant ladies. Since every mom-to-be is different, we put together a list of seven non-traditional baby shower ideas we’ve enjoyed with our circle of friends for inspiration. As long as the expectant parents are showered with love, advice, and GIFTS before welcoming the new baby, anything goes.

Really Weird Things I Only Do When I'm Pregnant

From casual coed BBQ to hiring a psychic or making goofy face mash-ups we’ve seen it all turn out awesome. Read about our favorites on the Desitin Tumblr! And share your extraordinary ideas in the comments.

Disclosure: We were guest authors on the Desitin Tumblr as part of a sponsored campaign. Big bellies are mine and Whitney’s (or Karen’s pictured above). Opinions are my own: Desitin in the blue box is my favorite diaper cream, for realz.

101 Things in 1001 Days (2015-2018)

I tried to do this 101 things challenge about five gulp EIGHT years ago and had a ton of fun with it. No, I didn’t get all my things crossed off the list. Shockingly, my children aged anyway. My then-infant son is now entering third grade. But why the hell not try again? I’m throwing down the gauntlet and issuing myself a public challenge. Here are my goals, Internets. We’ll see how many of them I can get through in the next 1001 Days (about 2.75 years).

101 things in 1001 days by rookieheather

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. More details on this project here:

My 1001 Day Project ends on March 19, 2018. The countdown and full list are over here.

Personal, stuff that’s just on me

  1. Finish this list
  2. Read 15 books just for fun
  3. Tour a factory
  4. Schedule a mole patrol and other self-care shiznit
  5. Learn to knit
  6. Take a one-week vacation from Facebook
  7. Ride a mechanical bull
  8. Ride an ostrich
  9. Lose 10 pounds (or be happy at my weight and say, “Screw it”)
  10. Learn to edit audio on Garage Band
  11. Read a book more than 100 years old
  12. Do the 100 Happy Days challenge until I’ve annoyed everyone or become supremely joyful
  13. Learn to wear heels AND buy some that don’t hurt
  14. Take a cooking class at Kitchen on Fire
  15. Learn how to shave my sons’ heads and/or do a proper haircut

[Read more…]

Dads don’t need to act like moms to be great parents

Out of my great respect and love for the fathers in my life, I wanted to share some other folks’ thoughts on Dadding. Let me know what you think!

I love this video from Asha Dornfest, a parenting mentor of mine, who published Minimalist Parenting and runs ParentHacks.comDads don’t need to act like moms to be great parents!

For more information on parenting visit

But why listen to just the moms about dads? Blogger, podcaster Fred Goodall AKA Mocha Dad explains why the media’s images of dads are so destructive in this brief video:

For more information on parenting visit

One more! Derreck Kayongo’s tips for fatherhood are excellent, but I could really listen to him speak about anything at all. Give yourself two minutes to be inspired to be a better parent to help your children embrace failure and become aware of who they are.

For more information on parenting visit

Other dads/dudes to check out while you’re over there: Mr. Dad Armin Brott, Mike Spohr of Buzzfeed Parents, and same sex parent Chris Rice for starters.

Note: These videos are shared because I like ’em. I think KidsInTheHouse requires a free sign-up to see the videos. Once you get in there, you’ll fall down a rabbit-hole of amazing advice in bite-size pieces.

If you named your baby after your pregnancy craving…

What would his or her name be? I read this thread in my babycenter birth club and I just about peed my pants laughing so hard. I tended toward sweet indulgences each time and I had no idea that Taco Bell was such a popular craving food.

My son Sawyer would have to be called Cereal because Cracklin’ Oat Bran is too long (though it goes better with our last name).

My son Milo would have to be Watermelon. Although, at various times, they could have all been named watermelon.

My son Holden would probably have been named Guinness for the unlikely beer preference that started with him. Heck, I didn’t even like the stuff before I was pregnant (so much so that I drank lemonade rather than free beer on my Guinness Factory tour in Dublin). Another possibility is Pumpkin Pie.

So tell me, mamas, what would your baby have been named if after your pregnancy cravings? Cheetos? Milkshake?

Activity #63: Look out for your marriage

Both of us Rookie Moms have parents who were divorced before we were in preschool, and both of us want to have long epic marriages that last for 50 or 70 years (long after our diaper-wearing boys are out of the house). In that vein, here are some of our best tips for looking out for your marriage:

  • Go on dates. Figure out the childcare thing and make it happen. Aim for once a week. Commit to every other week.
  • Have little impromptu dates at home once the baby is in bed. Light a candle. Try to make a souffle. Have fun with it. [5 great date nights, no babysitter required]
  • Have more sex. My friend’s OB told her that if you have sex three times a week for three weeks in a row, it will totally kickstart your libido. From my informal polling, that seems about right. Try it for yourself. The Top Five Parental Sex Aids according to dadcentric may give you some ideas too.
  • Be ok with a little counseling. Baby makes three was a huge freaking adjustment for my household and if the same is true for you, it’s ok to find a family or couples counselor to talk through your newfound issues. A mom’s group can also be a big help for the slightly-less-traumatized.
  • Have something interesting to say once in a while. Read a non-parenting book, turn on NPR, eavesdrop on the interesting people in your neighborhood cafe.

I’d like to sum up with the words of wisdom our friend Julie told us right before Whitney got married, “Marriage is not 50/50, it’s more like 90/10, sometimes you’re the 90 and sometimes you’re the 10” so deal with it.

Look out for your marriage: tips for rookie parents

The Control Freak’s Guide to picky eating kids

Though it pains me to admit: after having three children, I’ve learned that I can not really control what a child will and won’t eat. But I do have influence over the options that are available, and so I focus on that. At the end of this post, I will share my battle-tested strategies for dealing with picky eating children.


Before I try to boss you around, I want to share my picky eating credentials. Kid 1 was a pretty good eater and we were extremely neurotic, dedicated first-time parents (not that there’s anything wrong with that), hell-bent on getting him to eat every bite blob of food on his spoon. He ate a very healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. As of age ten, he won’t eat cooked fruit (apple pie – WTW?!) or plain cheese pizza, preferring vegetables on his pizza to the point of pouting at parties where only cheese is available. He’s a little bit picky but mostly a terrific eater of many foods. And yes, we are those food a**holes who serve kale salads to our kids on the regular. Kid 1 eats them with relish and wants to make sure we are properly massaging each leaf. (Not actual relish made of pickles.)

Kid 2 was also a pretty good eater from the start. Rather than force the “clean your plate” mentality of our own childhoods, we had evolved as parents to encourage a “Try-It Bite” for every new food, and then left it up to him as to whether he would eat more. He was a frequent eater of frozen waffles and plain yogurt but also ingested a healthy combination of other foods. If anything, he opened up our eyes about a broader range of possibilities for nutritious foods. He prefers plain pizza to veggie, but he always eats the broccoli we offer on the side.

Picky kids make for cranky cooks - solutions for picky eatersKid 3 has been a picky eater from the womb. He was a voracious nurser that required formula supplementation almost immediately. I should have known that we couldn’t rest on our good experience. He developed a penchant for dairy and carbs (plain cheese quesadillas and cheese pizza are his perfect foods) such that I couldn’t even get him to eat fruit without disguising it as a cracker (thanks to Trader Joe’s freeze dried strawberries, he now eats the real thing). The “Try-It Bite” has devolved into the “No-Thank-You Lick”. It took us 3-5 times of offering ice cream before he would even put it to his lips. I’ve caught myself doing a happy dance when he ate his first dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget, because he had never agreed to try chicken before!

Because our picky kid was our third kid, I had no choice but to accept this as a thing about HIM rather than a thing about ME. I am positive if my first child had been the one to turn up his nose at a grape or carrot, I would have blamed myself.

Having experienced two kids who will eat anything and one who will not, I have some mantras and reminders I give myself and my husband to help us stay sane.

Tips for parents of selective eaters: [Read more…]

Pregnant? Try living off one salary ASAP

When I first discovered I was pregnant, I was in Africa on my honeymoon. Having just sold our possessions, quit our jobs, and committed ourselves to living out our values of adventure being more important than security, we did a complete 180 on our new lifestyle and backpedaled home.

We cut the trip short and returned to our regularly scheduled desk jobs for the remainder of my pregnancy. We had some financial catch-up to do.

Since RookieDad Alec and I were new to married life and a shared wallet, we made our best efforts to live on just one paycheck while banking the other in a savings account. Of course we didn’t succeed completely — and we bought our fair share of miniature clothes and toys — but it was really good practice for our future. While most pregnant women are making baby shopping lists and fantasizing about nursery decor, I spent a lot of time sourcing hand-me-down baby items. [Read more…]

Get kids to listen without yelling {FREE class}

We are so happy to tell you that we have partnered with Amy McCready’s company Positive Parenting Solutions to bring a free webinar to you guys on the topic of getting kids to listen – without nagging or yelling. The format includes Amy presenting material and a live chat session where we can all ask questions in real time.

We have taken similar online parenting classes with Amy in the past and both really enjoyed it. Each time, I feel empowered with new ideas for positive discipline solutions (and a commitment to stop yelling completely. Ahem.).

Get kids to listen without nagging
This valuable class will take place online on Wednesday May 27 at 10 AM Pacific (that’s 1PM Eastern for some of you).
Parents of kids ages 2½ – 16 will learn:

  • why kids really misbehave — it’s probably not what you think!
  • how your personality may actually fuel misbehavior
  • the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences so kids listen the first time you ask
  • training resources to reduce your parenting stress & stop nagging, reminding & yelling

Here’s how the webinar works:

  • Sign up here to be reminded when it’s about to start.
  • Sit in front of your computer to watch and listen to the presentation.
  • Come as you are;  no one will see you.
  • Type questions whenever you have them and Amy will respond when possible.

Whitney and I will be in on the class as well, asking questions alongside you.

Click here to join us.

+++ Taking the class is free to you; Amy offers deeper courses for a fee if you’re interested. We have an affiliate relationship with Positive Parenting Solutions.

Climb out of the darkness of PPD

Becoming a mother was a huge shock for me, and not just in the good way. I felt surprisingly bad at it and I found myself saying stuff like, “New motherhood is like heartbreak; everyone says it’s hard but until you actually go through it, you have no idea how hard it can be.” I was rocked to my core. If I had known about Kathrine Stone and her work with Postpartum Progress when my firstborn was an infant, I might have felt the support of other Warrior Moms going through their own challenges. I would not have felt so alone.

Climb Out of the Darkness for PPD


So I am thrilled to share news of this event with you: Climb Out of the Darkness is the annual kickass awareness-raising and fundraising event for Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit that supports new moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression. And it’s getting bigger and bolder each year.

Held on the longest day of the year, June 20, 2015, Climb Out of the Darkness is a specific event to bring sunshine, nature, exercise, and triumph and shine it into our dark places. Join mothers around the world to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Find a climb near you.

You don’t necessarily have to climb a mountain to join in. You can ride a mountain bike on a trail, do a nature walk, walk along the beach. You can stand outside and let the sun shine on your face. Register to climb and support all the climbers >>

Climb Out of the Darkness for PPD

If you feel like a terrible mother or that something feels wrong with your new life, YOU are not alone. There are gobs of local and online resources waiting to be discovered through and the non-profit wing, Both were founded by Katherine Stone, mom, survivor of postpartum OCD. Hers is the world’s most widely read blog on PPD and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Check out the plain mama English symptoms of postpartum depression & anxiety. Figure out what you need to feel better.

Every day will NOT be rainbows and unicorns, but you can find a better place. I promise.

Wondering if you have Postpartum Depression? One in every seven women gets a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD. You have done nothing wrong. You are not weak, or selfish, or a bad mom. You just have an illness that many women get, and you can get better with help from a healthcare professional. Learn about PPD and more.

[Images from]