Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guest Post: Transition From Crib to Bed - Harder on YOU?

The age old question parents typically ask themselves, is "what the hell was I thinking?". The second question is usually "When do I transition my toddler out of a crib, into a bed?". The answer to most parenting questions is "When they're ready", or "When they start shaving"...

Anywhere between 18 months and 30 months is a good timeline, but most often parents do it sooner rather than later as a safety measure. When children are strong enough to climb out, they risk injury. It is inhumane to install a ceiling to the crib like "Planet of the Apes", so removing one side of the crib or transitioning to a bed is probably the best course of action.


1) Instead of waking up to the shrill of your child screaming your name to get them out of their confined sleeping quarters, they may be inclined to get themselves out of bed and play quietly with toys in their own bedroom.
2) It enhances their sense of freedom or independence, and makes them feel less like a caged inmate from "The Shawshank Redemption". Either way, it would be neat to have Morgan Freeman narrate bed time stories to you every night...

Do's & Don'ts:

DO make sure your toddler has a regular bedtime routine before transitioning. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get through an episode of "Breaking Bad" when your toddler keeps popping his head out of nowhere. Tell them "It's time to go to bed". Bring them back to their bedroom and tuck them in.
DON'T try transitioning while toilet training. Their little minds can absorb a lot of new information, but one big thing at a time. Nobody likes cleaning pee out of a brand new race car bed.
DO comfort them, if they are having a hard time. However, make sure you transition from laying in bed with them, to just holding hands in the side until they fall asleep. You don't want to start any bad sleeping habits.
DON'T put the bed in a different spot than the crib was originally. They are accustomed to that general sleeping angle, where the environment appears the same. Once they get use to their new sleeping arrangement, then you can start your "Extreme Makeover - Toddler Edition".
DO let them pick the bed. If the situation is available, and you are buying "new", let them pick out their own bed. Have them choose something they are comfortable with.
DON'T put the new baby into the old crib, until the toddler has fully transitioned. The toddler doesn't want to see some new guy taking over his space until he has made his new house a home. You don't want your toddler going K9, and peeing on the bed posts to mark his territory.
DO add music to your toddlers bed time routine. If they are consistently getting out of bed, it may be best to provide some light white noise, so that they aren't distracted by outside noise. The music will eventually become a relaxation cue for bedtime. The track Beautiful Dawn #SleepyTime gets them every time! 

Why this is a bigger transition for you than for them:

1) You are now on high alert. You must ensure all baby gates are locked up before going to bed, as well as doors are closed to any rooms containing sharp or hazardous objects. I once woke up to my 2 year old juggling scissors over my head.
2) They will scare years off your life. I often get up early and wait for my toddler to call me to come get him. This particular morning I was on the computer, and glanced up to see him standing there, glaring at me in silence, like something out of "Children of the Corn". I had nightmares for weeks.
3) Seeing your baby grow is the most rewarding experience life has to offer, but also hard to see them make these life altering transitions so quickly. Next thing you know, you'll be clutching the car door teaching them to drive. Baby Steps.

Rory Gardiner is a country music artist, author & comedian. You may have heard his music on radio, TV shows, or commercials airing daily throughout North America. His latest record is a children's album, packed with inspirational songs and kid parodies of adult favorites, such as "Wagon Wheel". Now available on iTunes:

For more information on Rory, please visit:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Making Sacrifices

This little girl is truly amazing. Soon, she will turn five years old and today I had to ask her to do something way beyond her years and maturity of understanding. Yet, her heart was willing.

Everyone hears about Anna's battle with cancer and they immediately think of how horrible it is for Anna. And it is. Horrible. Yet, it doesn't just affect Anna. We all make sacrifices to make sure that Anna is going to be okay, including her sweet sister Essie. I'm sure there are quite a few stories that can be told from the point of view of a child that has a sibling with cancer. This one is from Essie's.

Because of going through chemotherapy, we keep Anna home most all the time. Therefore, we also keep Essie home. Now, most cancer doctors will tell you, don't stay home all the time. Live your life, try to be as "normal" as possible. Anna's situation is a little different. Due to the fact that she also has special needs that already made her susceptible to illness, they really recommend we stay home as much as we can. The other part of that is that if Essie gets too much exposure to other kids, she can bring something home to Anna. During the summer I did take her to Chick-Fil-A twice to play, and now she attends school for three hours in the mornings. In that way, thankfully she does get interaction with other kids outside of the home. 

We are thankful that at school they check each child for illness every day and send the ones who seem sick home immediately. However, Essie gets invitations to parties and get-togethers outside of school. Yes, I took her to Chick-Fil-A twice in the summer, but that doesn't mean I think it' a good idea to risk it all the time. That was because she had absolutely NO interaction and I felt bad for her. Now, at least she goes to school. Anyway, she got an invitation to a party. Usually, I don't hear her talking about her classmates parties, but today she came home and was telling me all about what Teddy's party was going to be like. I'd already sent an email to Teddy's mom saying that we couldn't go.

As best as I could, I tried to explain to Essie why it wasn't a good idea to go. I could see the disappointment on her face. She asked, "Because Anna's sick?" I explained to her that Anna is better and better, but we have to protect Anna.

 Then I asked it. 

"Would you be willing to protect her?"

I don't think I'll ever forget the look on my four year old child's face when she answered me. The sadness that she can't be like other kids. The love in her heart for her sister. The concern for her sister. The love for me and the desire to please me. "Yes, mom. I will protect her."

Putting someone else before ourselves is a requirement that all cancer families go through. Some adults can't even do it; but, my baby girl can. Every morning she tells me I'm the best mommy in the world, and I tell her she is the best baby in the world. Today she said I was the best mommy and my brain was somewhere else. She softly whispered, "'re the best baby in the world."

You're the best baby in the world, My Essie-Pooh. The best in the world.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Recipe Book

If I ever lost this recipe book, I'd be very sad! Some of the greatest recipes loved by my family are contained in this book:

When I was a young woman, my Nanny forgot my birthday one year. I was never suppose to know that, but of course my sister told me because we were adults and it was quite funny. The reason we found it so humorous was not because she forgot, but how she tried to cover it up. In years past she would always give me a $20 or a gift card or something I really liked for my birthday. When I arrived at her house for our usual Sunday afternoon dinner that day, she had this recipe book waiting for me, plus a couple of little other things I don't remember now. Instead of admitting she had forgotten and giving me the regular $20 when she went to the bank the next week, she dug through her drawers and found something she hadn't used and tried to act like that was what she had always meant to give me. At the time, I didn't cook much.

Later, I developed a love for cooking, and this little recipe book has become more important to me than I ever thought it would. Some of my all time favorite recipes are in it. Treats I've baked for my family for years and years would be lost if I ever lost this little book. Since that's the case, I decided to write them here, and hope that with this blog post they will never be lost. 

This first one is an AMAZING cookie recipe. They are called "tea cakes" by name but some people argue that they are just sugar cookies. I'll tell you though...they are NOT just any old sugar cookie. They're thin crispy discs of sugary heaven. A little less sweet than a typical sugar cookie, but to me...even better. I have no idea who Betty is, but apparently these are her tea cakes. My Nanny said someone she knew (probably Betty) had these baked for them after school and they loved them. She always told me I could never eat just one, and she was right!

Betty's Tea Cakes

 - 2 Sticks of butter (melted)
- 1 cup oil
-1 cup sugar (white)
-1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla

- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix wet ingredients together in a large bowl (section 1) and the dry ingredients together in a separate smaller bowl (section 2). Mix the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing each section of dry ingredients in fully before adding the next portion. (I do it in three equal parts.) Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour to firm up for a bit. Roll into balls and press flat onto an un-greased cookie sheet. ( I use my fingers but you can also use the bottom of a glass or wax paper). Bake at 350 until the edges are slightly brown. I like to sprinkle extra sugar on the top right before baking. 

Okay this next one is another one I've made so many times. My family oohs and aahs over this one. If you ever REALLY want to impress people...make these dinner rolls. It takes a while, but it's worth it. Most of it is not a lot of work it just takes time.

Sweet Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup softened butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 pk active dry yeast

Directions: Put the milk, egg, and 1/3 cup of un-melted butter in a saucepan. (You can leave the butter out and melt it separately, but I find it easier just to do it all together.) You want to scald put it over high heat and watch it closely. You want it hot but not boiling. In the pot of your bread maker, pour the hot liquid and butter in first, then the egg, sugar, salt ( I put two teaspoons). Then add the flour, and make a little well in the top of the flour. Pour in the yeast in the little well. Turn it on the dough setting, and make sure to check it to ensure that its mixing in properly. Sometimes you need another drop or two of water, but be sure to only a drop. 

When it comes out of the bread maker, roll it around in a large bowl coated with Crisco. Put a kitchen towel over it and set in a warm dry place. When it doubles in size, punch it down and let it rise a second time. Each time till take about an hour or so. Then you'll separate the dough in two halves. Roll each half out in a circle, and cut each circle into eight slices. Roll the triangles from the large end to the tip (like a crescent roll) and then place on a baking sheet. Put the towel back over the rolls and set them back in the warm dry place. When they have risen a third time, bake at 350 (sometimes I lower it to 300 if they get too brown too fast), and bake until golden brown. They are the best dinner rolls on the planet. The BEST!