A Surprise Sprinkle for Little Pint

Little Pint ~

Happy (expected) birthday month to you! Because of my scheduled 39 week induction on Oct. 30 we are watching the calendar closely for your anticipated Halloween arrival. If you do indeed follow “the schedule,” your birthday month will always be marked by gorgeous fall colors, pumpkin spice everything, candy corn, pumpkin patches and hay rides, cozy fall clothes, tricks and treats. What a wonderful birthday month for a little one that is already loved so much.

Speaking of how much you are loved, this weekend I was completely and utterly blindsided by family and friends at a surprise sprinkle celebration for you. I thought I was going to a pre-baby girls brunch with a few close friends. I raced to the restaurant, hair still damp, after watching Ry play soccer. Sunni, Paige and Kimbra had already arrived and were sitting at a small table while our table was being cleaned…or so I thought.

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Tantrums. Some of them make an all night Cry It Out session with an infant seem like a day at the spa. If no one prepared you for how hard life can be as a brand new parent, then it can really feel like you’re living alone on an island with a crazy person when the true toddler tantrums begin.


Case in point. I believe, if memory serves me right, Rylan’s tantrum above was about the raisins I gave him. The raisins he asked me for as a snack. The ones I bought for him at the store because the day prior, he liked raisins a lot.

Tantrums are here. Daily. Many days, thank god, are mild and others (like this past Sunday) resulted in me calling my mom nearly in tears as we neared the 45 minute mark.

I have no tricks. No words of wisdom. Well, maybe one. Try your hardest to figure out what I.N.S.A.N.E. trigger *may* be a tantrum tipping point. For example,  maybe the breakfast you prepared to their exact specifications is offensive and totally wrong. Or, you offered them a warm and relaxing bath after a long day at daycare. How. Dare. You.

Then, figure out if there is any S.A.N.E. way to avoid a tantrum without turning into a complete toddler punching bag/pushover you said you’d never be. Perhaps it’s offering a few choices, letting them pour their own milk, or warning them 1,000,000 times during dinner that bath time is next.

In all seriousness, one of our biggest tantrum tipping points right now is screen time. The iPad has slowly crept into our lives when traveling or in Breckenridge and Rylan simply cannot handle his emotions when it’s time to turn it off. Melt. Down. City.

But, this introduction of technology and easy “crutch” in certain situations is totally our fault. It’s easy. TV is similar, though he is more easily redirected after one or two shows. The iPad not so much.

We have to re-introduce the iPad (aside from airplane flights) when he is mature enough to handle turning it off. I will not fly without it. Sorry Pinterest moms who board planes with 100 homemade crafts for takeoff to landing. Not happening.

In the moment of Ry’s worst tantrums I feel like I am doing everything wrong. Should I hold and comfort him? Ignore the outburst and walk away once I know he is safe? How do I keep my frustration, anger and temper in check and not show Rylan just how much he’s wearing me down?

It would be so much easier to give in. I get why parents give in. At times we give in. I can admit it, and move on.

In the moment you just want to fix it, especially in public. In those moments it’s unbelievably hard to keep the “long term” in perspective…the fact that I don’t want our now 2.5 year old running circles around us as a tiny dictator at 3 and 4.

Tantrums suck (literally, they can suck the life out of everyone involved). Tantrums are why entities like The Honest Toddler make toddler parents feel like we’re not alone on an island with a crazy person. Posts like “Three Quick Dinner Tips for Toddlers” and “A Toddler’s Apology to Santa” make toddler parents laugh and cry…and cry. Thank  you Honest Toddler.

How do you deal, aside from wine, with toddler tantrums?

Healthy, Organic Sleep

Note: I was provided a sample of Naturepedic’s organic waterproof crib sheet for review as part of its #NPBigKid and #healthysleep campaign. All opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. 

I buy organic produce. Well, most of the time. Ok…sometimes I really try to buy organic, but I just can’t pay $4.99+ for blueberries when conventional are on sale for $2.

I am a “Dirty Dozen” gal in that I buy natural and organic where I believe it truly matters, and look to save money in other areas. Daycare bills are no joke you guys!

Organic clothing and housewares are an area I rarely splurge. Of course when Rylan was still “Sprout” in my belly I envisioned organic everything–sheets, clothes, lotions and soaps. And then real life happened.

So when the amazing Stroller Traffic Scouts team approached me to test an organic crib bedding product from Naturepedic I was hesitant but also intrigued. Rylan, a ridiculously amazing sleeper, spends a LOT of time in his crib. Could I make it cozier? Healthier?


When I received the organic waterproof crib pad I was immediately intrigued with the accompanying booklet. Naturepedic’s mission is to source certified organic cotton and latex according to strict environmental and labor standards. This statement alone reminded me that choosing organic is not just about my body or Rylan’s body, but about the long term health of the planet I hope he thrives on for a very long time. A commitment that every single parent today needs to seriously think about, within reason, given chilling headlines like this.

The organic cotton flannel pad itself is soft with a natural beige hue – no bleach used here. And because Rylan has been known to wet through even the most “leak proof” 12 hour+ diapers, I appreciate that it can be machine washed. At $69 it is an investment, but Rylan has been in his crib for two years and isn’t getting moved anytime soon. It will surely get much more use than many of his adorable outfits.


Rylan loves having a pillow so I do want to invest in the Naturepedic organic toddler pillow next. At $49 it is again an investment, but given his sweet head will sleep on it every night I love that it’s made from organic cotton and a washable plant-based PLA batting (made from non-GMO potatoes!!).


Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be continuing to help raise awareness for the Naturepedic brand by sharing our favorite “wow, he’s a big kid” moments on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #NPBigKid and #healthysleep. I hope you’ll spend some time learning about the brand and thinking about it for your family or for thoughtful, healthy gifts for little ones on the way!

Birthday Week Emotions


Two years ago tonight I was just a few days away from the most incredible day of my life. The day we met Rylan. This week is full of emotions.

For all the things that signal the era of parenting we’re about to begin, the terrible two’s, I do already have a favorite. Conversing.

When Mike and I went to Mexico for five nights in June we left a little boy with a growing vocabulary. When we returned we were greeted by a little boy stringing together two, three and four word phrases, working so hard to tell us what he is seeing in the world around him and how he wants to be a part of it. My favorites…

  • Oh, hi mama!
  • Ry see it
  • Ry push it
  • I try it
  • I do it
  • Woah. Muscles
  • More milk please
  • Tona (i.e., Kona) outside
  • No Tona (again, how he says Kona’s name right now)
  • Tona barking
  • Tona no barking
  • No raining. Sunny out
  • Ry needs (insert a myriad of requests)
  • Oopsie
  • Daddy plays the drums
  • Mike guitar
  • Daddy/mommy made it
  • I see outside

There are so many more new phrases and every day he surprises us with a new word that I can’t even imagine how he learned it. Tonight it was frisbee and porcupine when we were reading one of his favorite Words picture book.

We also had a hilarious and all-boy conversation on Monday about who poops. He said “sorry mama” when I was rushing to re-change a fresh diaper before daycare drop off. I told him not to be sorry because everyone poops. He sat there for a minute, processing the information, and promptly asked, “Mickey Mouse poop?” We then had to go through every character of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to talk about who poops. I am the mom of a boy, no doubt.

Ry will be two on Friday, and this birthday week is full of reflections for me. It feels like a really big birthday.

Last year I was an emotional wreck about stopping breastfeeding after 12 long but proud months. Ry’s walking was on the horizon but he was still taking his sweet time. Today he is running circles around us, daily, and tests our conviction as he learns how to press buttons and explore boundaries.

From birth to 12 months we made sure he survived. From 12 to 24 months the shift from survival parenting to ACTUAL parenting has been incredibly real…and fun, scary, exhausting, rewarding, confusing, and the list goes on. It’s hard not to obsess about every teachable moment and remember that he’s just two, and his “up please mama” requests are ever-fleeting. I am proud of Mike and I for stumbling through the transition and making the time to talk daily about what’s working, what’s not working and how to remain on the same page. Communication, listening and forgiveness is everything right now. Everything.

I’m going to be the mama of a two year old. It’s hard to comprehend. I am happy. I am tired. I worry to a fault. And, I am in love. I am head-over-heels in love with my family.

Hitting Toddlerhood, Literally


Rylan…99% smiles, but with a growing slice of attitude.

Parenting a budding toddler is marked by extreme highs and maddening lows. I am grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who don’t mind my endless texts with questions and venting sessions about eating strikes and teething mayhem. Molars suck! But lately there is one behavior that is coming out more and more, and we will not tolerate it.


“Hands are not for hitting.” It is a book we read and, unfortunately, a phrase we’re using more and more with Rylan.

At 20 months Rylan is expressing frustrating and seeking attention through hitting. His teachers reassure me it is normal and so far he is responding well to discipline at school. There has only been one day where a teacher said he had more “calm your body” time outs than normal, and the next day he was much more gentle and cooperative. Currently, Rylan hits me more than he hits Mike, which drives me nuts. I also probably say no more often than Mike does and have a very low tolerance for tantrum-like outbursts.

I can usually anticipate what will trigger a hitting tantrum. Transitions from something Rylan likes to the next activity, even if he likes what is coming, triggers hitting at home and as of this weekend, in public. The worst! For example, if we need to end playing in the backyard for a bath, he will raise his arm and go to hit me when I pick him up. On Saturday he came with me to the car wash. He loved watching the cars and was happily eating snacks as my car was dried. When it was time for us to leave, he first threw his body onto the ground screaming. Then when I picked him up he proceeded to try and hit me. He was still swinging as I fastened him into his car seat! I was mortified and sad. Mainly, I wanted to turn around and tell everyone around me that he’s an incredibly well-behaved and happy dude.

My mom says I remind her a lot of herself as a mother of a toddler. She expected a great deal out of me, and I feel the same about Rylan. When he hits I am simply blown away. I can’t believe the same toddler who smiles 99% of the time can turn so quickly into those screaming kids I used to stare at in Target or a restaurant. I too find myself sometimes being the mother who is trying desperately to squeeze more applesauce out of the pouch before Ry’s world falls apart in the beauty aisle.

While hitting is a “normal” phase of toddlerhood, we’re unwilling to look the other way. I am about halfway through the book 1,2,3 Magic and need to get serious about trying the counting method it outlines. Hitting is an automatic “3” according to this philosophy…so multiple times on Saturday when Rylan hit I firmly told him “that’s a three” and we went into his room to calm down. His teachers also have us act very dramatic and say, “ouch!! That hurt mommy when you hit me. Is that a safe choice?” Depending on his mood, this reaction can make him very sad or he laughs at our antics. Ugh!!!!

But the biggest problem for me is consistency in public. He hit me in church on Easter and I just tried to have him keep it together since mass was almost over. I didn’t give him a “three count” and he wasn’t reprimanded. It was the same scenario at the carwash since we needed to get into the car and move out of the lane.

I am reassured by the fact that we are very mindful of his hitting already and that we’re being proactive now instead of in preschool or later when it can become a serious issue.

But my heart hurts every single time he hits.

Please let me know if you have any advice, tips or insights to share from the trenches. I appreciate it.

When Did…

When did Rylan become much more boy than baby?


When did he learn to grab a hand and lead a person to exactly where he wants them to go? 

When did running replace walking? 

When did he start to sit in a regular chair and have a snack with me at coffee shops?


When did he start truly enjoying the company of having his littlest pals over to play? 


Of course I know the answers. It has happened little by little every day. But days and weeks are busy and this mama knows so much goes unseen when we are away at work five days a week. Let’s also be brutally honest. No matter how much I try to be 100% present at night after work or on the weekends, there are emails to be answered, dishwashers to be emptied and laundry to be folded. There are errands to run and the Instagram and Pinterest itches to be scratched. There are workouts to do and cleaning that never ends. I try to save all of these things (and so much more) for after he goes to bed. I try, I really do. And sometimes I succeed while many other days and nights I fail.

I also know he’s my first and I baby him way too much. “Can he eat that?” “Cut it smaller.” “Mama will carry you.” “He’s too little for that.” “Be careful, Ry!” I may give the poor little dude a safety complex.

But in March we had a tremendous amount of together time in Vail and then Florida, so these tiny changes that had built up over time became extremely evident to both Mike and me. In Florida I began to observe Rylan through a new lens. A lens with a little, unbelievably adorable toddler boy on the other side.

Sure, he needs help up and down stairs. And yes, I can still carry him everywhere and zip him into a sleep sack for bedtime.

But at times he prefers to walk or take the stairs “alone” with no help from mama/dada. I can ask him if he wants a cheese stick for a snack and he’ll answer yes or no. His vocabulary is popping like crazy and he tells me he wants to “dance dance” when he sees his CD player on the bookshelf.

It’s an incredible transformation. I am addicted to his curiosity, smile and even his moments of tantrums–because when he’s crying he is expressing his independence and trying so hard to make me understand why he wants/needs something. I cannot get enough of him.

When did it become possible for him to start growing up even faster than before?

Fastest March Ever

The end of March is around the corner, officially making it the most “on crack fast” month of the year so far. We had a lot to look forward to this month, which naturally makes it fly by in the blink of an eye.

I rounded out my 2014/2015 ski season on day 18 (not bad for having a toddler!) in Vail at the beginning of the month. Then the second weekend of March I got to sneak away to the luxurious St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder for a night with two dear college + mom friends. Our massages, quiet time sipping bubbles on the patio, shopping and a decadent moms-only dinner at Black Cat was just what each of us needed.

Then the very best part came…our week long Florida beach escape to Hutchinson Island with Mike’s parents and sister’s family.


As a southern California girl I haven’t spent much time in Florida. The beaches and delicious seafood wildly exceeded my expectations and I took advantage of every moment. There were hours of sand castle building and chasing waves, reading and solo time while Rylan napped, afternoon Mai Tai’s and beers, good nights of sleep and quiet morning runs. Rylan ate lobster, clams, calamari, oysters and crab cakes like they were going out of style. I reconnected with my nieces and nephew during faux shark attack play times in the pool and beach walks for seashells. I cried when we left…always the sign of a good, unplugged trip. I can’t wait to share more pictures.

March has made me appreciate and reflect a lot. We’re healthy. And really lucky to be surrounded by friends who are like family. And speaking of family, I’m not sure anyone has two sets of parents, siblings and nieces/nephews as fun and endlessly generous as we do.

Simply perfect months are few and far between, but this has been one. I am clinging to the way my heart feels at this moment with all my might so I can tap back into it when future days or weeks are not so hot.

March 2015. One for the books.

Selfish Sanity


Parenting strips away overall selfishness. From the moment your tiny human joins the world it’s never “all about you” ever again. However, I am 19 months into this parenting gig and have realized that I still carve out ways to be selfish. Why? Because it is these me-centric choices that some people try to make you feel guilty about that keep me sane, balanced and happy.

I think every mom (stay-at-home, working outside the home or some combination of the two) needs to feverishly protect her selfish sanity time…whether it is a few hours each month or a couple weekends per year. For me, that means:

  • Daily (or as close to it as possible) workouts
  • Skiing on weekends (Mike goes in the morning and I take the afternoon). This, I know, isn’t a forever reality once Rylan has weekend commitments like sports and friends that keep us in Denver most weekends
  • Not talking on the phone after Rylan goes to bed in order to spend time with Mike, watch trashy TV, catch up on work or just zone out on Pinterest. I cannot handle phone conversations after 7:30 p.m.
  • Tacking on a pedicure or quick mall trip to family errands, especially if Rylan is napping. I have a lot of guilt about not being home anytime during the weekend when Rylan is awake. But if he is napping, all bets are off.
  • At least one girls trip per year – be it overnight and close to home or somewhere that requires plane travel

I love Rylan and Mike more than anything, but to be the best mom and wife I know how to be, I have to wave the white flag from time to time. I still have and want to be Alexis. I feel recharged and recommitted to my family and work every time to steal away for a few moments of me time.

And to be fair, I have to remember to let Mike do the same. He still plays in his band and practices weekly. He snowboards most Saturday and Sunday mornings. He is going on a guys trip the first weekend of April from a Thursday to a Sunday. He golfs in the summer. These things make him a better dad and husband too.

Call me selfish. I don’t really care. It’s how we do things right now.

Celebrating Stella


On Friday evening Mike, Rylan and I will travel home to California to celebrate the life of Grandma Stella, my dad’s mother. She passed away on Saturday surrounded, most importantly, by her son and four daughters.

Her 92 years were rich. Not with great material wealth, but with family, friends and one forever soulmate. I cannot even begin to imagine the happiness and joy that surrounded them when they were finally reunited in a world beyond ours.

grandma black and white

Grandma, her beloved Joe and all five kids!

Grandma Stella had a smile that shined across a room and stories that could go on for hours. Her ability to exude pure joy was effortless, and came in the form of hugs, pride in everything her family did and food–so many of my memories are wrapped up in her in the kitchen prepping our favorite Italian fare and eventually, her overseeing operations in the kitchen when her son, daughters and grandkids took over the heavy lifting.

Saying goodbye is never easy. I am thankful every day that I have not endured the loss of a parent, so I know our dad and aunts are feeling something completely different–and each grandchild and great grandchild is as well.

dad and grandma

Dad perfecting the secrets of her sauce

I am grateful she did not suffer for weeks after her fall. I feel blessed that my memories of her ravioli are so fresh that I can almost taste the ricotta. I will cherish the way she held Rylan as a baby as she told me how wonderful it is to be a mother and how no one will ever love your children more than you do. I feel lucky that Mike was a part of my life when she was and that he’ll understand why I’ll want to hold onto as many of our Anzalone family traditions that she helped shape while we can. I am grateful to have been one of her grandchildren.

grandma and rylan

Meeting Rylan

While a funeral is never a reason anyone wants to travel, I know we will celebrate and honor her memory fully this weekend. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren will come from near and far–a gathering that she would have bragged about for weeks and weeks to anyone who would listen. We’ll look at pictures from black and white memories of her childhood in Massachusetts to just a few months ago during the holidays. There will be many tears but, I’m hopeful, double the laughs, smiles and tight hugs that she was famous for giving.

And the best part? She and Grandpa Joe will be watching it all. Taking it all in, bragging to anyone who will listen about their incredible family–the smartest, most successful and beautiful family there ever was.

Grandma and Rylan

Muffin Tin Magic

To be clear, this post is about muffin TINS. Not to be confused with muffin tops.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun.

I often wonder if I had a day or more at home during the work week if my stress about meals would lessen a bit. I am fairly diligent about maximizing my time (who am I kidding, I can’t sit still) and imagine being able to squeak out a crockpot or two most days, even if Rylan was hanging from my legs begging for attention. But alas, this is not our reality.

When it comes to meal prep I have to be a weekend warrior. Yet now that ski season takes us away from home most weekends, I am even more stressed about how to keep healthier meals stocked in our fridge and freezer for lunches and dinners. Tack on the fact that Rylan and Mike both love meat and I haven’t eaten chicken, beef or pork in 2+  years and things get really complicated. Therefore, I usually have to put Rylan first, myself second and poor Mike has to eat whatever I can scrounge up for him. Sorry babe!

So lets talk about muffin tins. Muffin tins are a frantic mom’s answer to making toddler-size meals that can be frozen individually, defrosted in the fridge all day and then heated up in seconds for a mostly homemade meal moments after racing through the door at 6:15 p.m. with a hungry toddler angrily screaming for “more more.”


Muffin Tin Recipe Sanity Savers 

Breakfast – Baked Pancake Muffins 

Healthy Snack – “Sneaky” Veggie Muffins

Dinner – Mini Chicken Pot Pies and Muffin Tin Meatloaf (I add mixed frozen veggies to sneak in even more peas and carrots to Ry’s day)

Those are four SUPER basic ones to start with, and I have half a dozen more on my Pinterest board that I want to get to very soon. I mean, how will Rylan be able to resist French Toast Cups, Oatmeal Cupsor Mini Lasagnas?

Please share links to your favorite family meal prep recipes in the comments! I am always on the hunt for new ideas to broaden our plates.

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