Teething Bites

Oh the pain, the horror, THE TEETH!  If your baby’s teething, you know you’re not sleeping, not resting and not loving life right now.  I’m honestly no expert on anything, but lately I find myself giving lots of advice on teething.  (For some reason when you make teething toys, people think you know something about teething- ha, imagine that!)  But I have had 2 babies spring some chompers and I’ve talked to lots of parents to find out their favorites to try.  After much trial and error, I present to you my teething baby must haves!  Got something you love?  Share it in a comment so we can all get in on the good stuff!

1.) My boobs– I mean, really, when it comes to soothing a baby who’s upset about anything, breast is best.  My littles have always nursed more when they’re teething, though it will often be for shorter periods of time- I think the suction created by nursing makes it uncomfortable so they go on & off the nip a lot.  Also, they like to practice those sharp new chompers on whatever they’re sucking on so be prepared for a baby barracuda who doesn’t want to let go!

2.) The Essential Essential Oil– now oils are all the rage right now and I’m totally a believer.  But you’ve got to be careful- they’re nothing to be toyed with, they’re potent medicine.  I’m no expert and I really don’t trust just anyone with a essential oils 101 Facebook group to tell me how best to use them.  When it comes to essential oils for my kids, I turn to someone who actually knows what she’s talking about.  For me, that person is Elizabeth Reynolds of Lux Amare.  Elizabeth’s been an aromatherapist for over 35 years and she knows her stuff.  I had heard about her Chamomile Baby Rub (CBR for those in the know) from other moms but had no idea what it was until I was introduced to it by a friend.  Well, low and behold, this stuff contains actual real magic.  Seriously.  It calms my babies teething pains, eases them to sleep, heals diaper rash, soothes ear aches, helps with colic, gas pains, cuts and scrapes and even provides emotional support for our little bundles of emotion.  No joke, this oil really does what it says- I now totally swear by it.  If I had one thing in my arsenal for teething pain, it’d be this.








3.) Counter pressure– teeth are attempting to push out of those sore gums, so push back, baby!  If you have a teething baby, I’m sure you’re familiar with them chewing on absolutely everything.  If you want to give them some good things to chew on, I like a frozen bagel, a frozen clean washcloth, a mesh or silicone feeder with ice or frozen fruit and veggies inside (I like to use frozen grapes- but only in a feeder like this for little ones).  I really like this super cool silicone feeder from Boon.

4.) A good teething toy– speaking of counter pressure, of course I’ve gotta include some of the best teething toys on this list.  Not only do I love our Tough Love Wooden Teethers, but I’ve got some other non-TLT’s too.  The ideal teether will be a good size for baby to hold and chew with contours for sensory development, maybe make some noise and be made out of something safe.  If you’re on this page, you know I hate plastic teething toys.  We’ve all used them so drop the guilt, but if you’re looking for something safer for your little love, give them a teething toy made of wood, organic cotton or bamboo, silicone or natural rubber.


One of our all time non- Tough Love favorites is of course, Sophie La Damn Giraffe (isn’t that the correct French pronunciation?).  Made of natural rubber, just the right size to hold and with an annoyingly appealing little squeak, this pricey long neck’s got my heart.  Find her for $24.99 & up pretty much anywhere- do a search for teething toys and this one’s definitely at the top of your list for good reason.  Is it worth the money?  Well, compared to similar quality natural teething toys, Ms. La Girafe, is fair and really, if your little teething demon quiets down over anything, you’ll feel it’s money well spent!  There was some controversy over Sophie getting moldy all over social media lately, but they’ve updated her design so new ones should hold up to more slobber (and this jury’s still out on how dangerous a little mold is anyway- more on that in another post).

That damn girafe!

Other natural teething toys we love are the Hevea Natural Rubber Panda, Calmies Rubber Teether, and these awesome double duty natural rubber toys from Begin Again- they’re made as bath toys, but they’re shapes are ultra chewable, super fun and unlike other bath toys, they’ve got large holes for drainage to avoid any Sophie-like mold scandals.  At only $4 each, they’re a real steal!


5.) The uber sexy amber teething necklace– more than just a fashion trend, I’ve come to believe in this one.  I had my doubts and explored them in a previous post,  but my son has been the proof in the pudding and I’m sold!  My now 4 year old was honestly a bitch when she was teething- those suckers came in & got sucked back into her gums so often & each bout brought us runny noses, fevers, crankiness, and basic baby PMS- it sucked.  We never used an amber necklace for her, nor had we yet invented the coolest, most natural teething toys on the planet.  Our now 16 month old son has worn an amber teething necklace since the first signs of chompers around 5 months old and I’ll tell ya, that boy’s a champ!  He has just finished cutting six teeth at once and before that, it was a round of 4 at once.  I honestly had no inkling they were even in until I took him to the dentist!  No fevers, no fussiness, no drooling, nothing- really, he didn’t act like he was teething at all.  Now, he is the best baby on the planet (and I can say that totally objectively!), so it may just be him, but I’m not willing to chance taking that necklace off.


My little hunk in his Amber Necklace

I’m gonna keep it simple and leave the list there for now, but as always, I’d love to hear some of your wisdom- what do you use that works?


Check out this all encompassing guide to more things you may love for your baby:  Jen Reviews 

“Company Cleaning”

It’s hard for me to let the whole world know, but I’m probably one of the laziest people I know about housework- I hate washing dishes, and oh the laundry- it’s clean but piled everywhere and if one more person tells me to “just do one load every day,” I’m going to shoot them.  The point is I don’t want to do laundry every day- duh!  How would that help me?!  I do pretty much the bare minimum of everything- until someone’s coming over, then I throw the laundry in a closet & deep clean what shows with a toothbrush because God forbid they know how I actually live!  Company’s coming- let’s put a bow on this shit show.  What a phony I am!  I can be mostly ok with an imperfect house until my mom’s on her way or until I go to a play date at your house & instantly decide you’re never allowed to come see my mess.  My house isn’t dirty dirty- it’s clean enough not to alert the health department, but it’s definitely lived in.  I would honestly love to have a Martha Stewart home, to have it look like someone was coming over every day.  I just don’t like doing the work to get it there every day!

I have no problem putting my dishes in the dishwasher or my laundry in the washer/dryer, but most days it’s just too much for me to actually put all that clean shit away!  I’ve literally thrown away dishes & clothing rather than wash it again- I mean, we obviously didn’t need all that stuff anyway!  I almost never make my bed.  Look at my instagram and you’ll undoubtedly see a pile of laundry lurking in the background on any given day.  That’s just how I am and I’m not really committed to bettering myself today.

Laundry Couch



But every now and then, I get going.  We’ve got one room in the house I used to be able to leave messy- my craft/sewing/office/wrapping/catch all room.  I could go in there & play and just close the door when I was through.  It was like my hidden dungeon of crap.  But over the last few weeks, my room has been taken from me.  It will soon be our son’s room (he’s moving out of our bedroom at 16 months old) and I guess it just wouldn’t be right to have him living in that squalor.  So I’ve had to find places for all that crap to go.  And when I get organizing, watch me fuckin move- every once in a while when something like this spurs me, I get a hair up my ass and go Martha clean on everything- I mean, I’m throwing shit out, I’m consolidating, I’m cleaning closets, and junk drawers, I’m steam cleaning the carpets, I’m getting down & dirty with the floorboards & the doorknobs.  My husband stands back scared at what all I’m going to ask him to move or put away in the garage and my daughter starts hiding her favorite toys lest I put them in my donation pile.  I love those little fits- I figure it’s not gonna come often so I might as well tweak out on cleaning while I’ve got the burst of motivation.  I get a lot done, and our home looks so lovely for like 30 minutes.  That’s literally it- I’ll spend 2 or 3 days cleaning like a mofo & I get to enjoy it for half a friggin hour before it’s right back to our regular every day mess.  So fuck that- why would I want to do that every day?  No one in our house cares but me and no one’s coming over today.

And how much time must you other moms with tidy houses spend cleaning?  It can’t be worth it!  Or maybe you’re just cleaning for company, too.  If so, let’s give up this damn charade and let our dirty little secrets out.  Let’s let all that messy, ugly, unorganized crap show through.  Because I’m insecure enough to judge myself by how you look and who knows- maybe I’ve got you fooled into thinking I look pretty good too.  (if so, YES- major accomplishment for me!) So today, I’ll be lazy.  I’ll color with my kids and not pick up the crayons, I’ll cook & leave the dishes for tomorrow.  I’ll leave the laundry in the dryer and I’ll enjoy myself.

Just give me notice before you stop by and don’t dare open my closets!

Deeep Thoughts of a Four Year Old

I decided to find out more about our 4 year old daughter this morning, so I found these 21 (I made it 22 because it left out what mommy does for work- #amothersworkisneverdone) from one of my favorite blogs, Bebeblog and she answered them.  We did it when she first woke up, which is a fun time for little children (not so much for adults).  We had done a similar thing on Facebook about a year ago, and I’ll attempt to find those results to post, too.  I’d love it if you’d ask your children and post in a comment- come on, play along.  I promise it’ll be fun!

1. What is something mommy always says to you? Ummm, even if I’m mad at you, I always love you.

2. What makes you happy? Being with my mom

3. What makes you sad? Makes me sad…I’m not sure what makes me sad.  Maybe when my friends don’t wanna play with me, that might make me sad because I wanted, maybe if I wanted to play with them and they don’t want to play with me, that might make me sad.

4. What makes you laugh? When people tickle me (oh come on, she was just asking for it- had to take a tickle break here!)

5. How old are you? Four, Four and a Half

6. How old is Mommy? Haha, I don’t know! 25?  (Emma for the win!)

7. How old is Daddy? Ummm, I’m not sure… mote.  46? (haha!)… 41. 41.  Daddy’s 41. (correct).  And my brother is one.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?  I’m not sure.  People tickle me (guess she really likes tickling)

9. Who is your best friend? Ummm, Alyah, Diego and Mckenly

10. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a lot of things- I want to be a teacher, a doctor, a singer soccer player, a astronaut, maybe you guys can come with me so we can see space- outer spaaaaaaace!  Why do you need to wear those helmets?

11. What are you really good at? I’m really good at….playing dress up

12. What are you not very good at? I’m not very good at….of waiting

13. What did you do today? I did….uh, we went on a walk, but what did we really do yesterday mommy?  Selled stuff (mom was selling old baby stuff on Facebook).

14. What is your favorite food? Um, my favorite food is baby food.

15. What is your favorite song? My favorite song is, I Got the Moves Like Jagger and You’re Welcome.  Ya, Wish You Were Here, too.  Let’s listen to it!

16. What do you want for your birthday this year? I’m no opposed to know.  (Re-asked question) I want a new….uh, uh, um, I want a new uh it’s like a house with balls in it, with a lot of balls in it.  I’ll get one of the balls!

17. What is your favorite animal? Uh, penguins and giraffes.

18. What is love? Maybe love is like kisses and stuff maybe (snuggles up to me- heart full!)

19. What does daddy do for work? Oh, build houses, right?

20.  What does mommy do for work?  Type.

21. Where do you live? In Santa Paula

22. Where is your favorite place to go? My favorite places is to go, uh, to Mimi & Papa’s.

What in the Wood?!

Making wooden toys has been an interesting venture for us.  A lot of what we do is re-educating people that wood is actually safe.  We have to convince people to trust in what God gave us to work with.  I’m realizing that we have come believe that plastics are safer than wood.  I can’t tell you how many times a day we get questions about splinters, about how hard or soft the wood is on baby’s gums, about sanitation and durability.  How is it that we’ve come to trust in man made plastics full of God knows what over the natural, God-given materials of our planet?  I get it, I do.  Plastics look smooth and new, they come in friendly colors and can be molded into just about anything.  But when you stop to think about it, why am I more comfortable with something made in a factory than something made by the hand craftsmanship of a skilled artisan working with materials naturally given from the world around us?

Plastics were first invented in the late 1800’s and production exploded during the 1940’s and WWII with needs for lightweight airplane parts as well as the invention of petrochemicals.  The world gasped, we wondered how we had ever lived without these marvels and we adopted them into every nook and cranny of our lives.  Though some plastics today are made from plants (like corn and sugarcane), they only account for a small proportion of the over 300 million tons of plastic per year produced (The Globalist, 2015).  The vast majority are derived from oil and natural gas (and we know the dangers those resources pose).  Plastics are cheap, they are moldable, they are convenient, but are they worth the real cost?  Why do we automatically assume newer is better?

If you’re reading this, you are probably already aware of the many dangers of plastic to our bodies, our babies and our planet.  I’m not going into that (though Wellness Mama has a great, comprehensive article that articulates much of what I believe).  What I’m thinking about today is changing our attitudes and comfort levels.  I’m asking you to question your comfort levels.  We have literally become accustomed to plastics.  We feel safe with them.  And this has happened in a relatively short amount of time.  Plastics have only been around for about 200 years.  Glass and metal for thousands of years.  But wood has conceivably been around since the beginning of time (I mean, Eve ate an apple from the tree, right?).  So why is it that we hold so tight to a material that is so relatively young?  We’ve had wood, metal and glass around for thousands if not millions of years, but somehow the new guy in town has taken over.

Plastics, plastics everywhere!!!

I would argue that much like the genetically modified crops, the petrochemicals, the nuclear power, the antibiotics that our grandparents and our parents adopted as saviors, plastic is being revealed by my generation (X, Y, Millennials?  I’m never sure what I am!) as a fraud.  Though it definitely has its conveniences, the dangers far outweigh the risks.  Why subject ourselves to the toxins that change our body chemistry, the waste associated with its’ creation and the millenia for which it will clog our oceans, our freeways, our forests and our farms?  I believe when my parents and grandparents were raising children, these things were so new and untested that they seemed like miracles.  All we knew were their up sides.  Society was quick to adopt them as the gold standard for quality and usefulness.  Without the time to test their effects, plastics were mass produced and implemented everywhere.  Just like an untested drug released too soon, we have been the guinea pigs suffering the side effects.  Just like phen phen, they sold us skinny and we got heart failure.

Think about it.  Plastics are EVERYWHERE.  Over the past few years our family has tried to reduce  our dependence on nonrenewable resources in general, but on plastics specifically.  The problem is, we can’t practically do without them.  They invade our homes and our lives no matter how much we try to avoid them.  I’m looking around my living room right now at the electronics, the lotions, the rugs, the drapes, the shoes, the diaper pail, the diapers (even our “cloth” diapers have plastic shells and snaps) the toys (yes, the plastic toys– the horror!), the furniture, the clothing, the radio, the diffuser, the light fixtures, the outlet covers, the mail, the magazines, the books- it all has plastic parts.  Not to mention the kitchen- my God, the entire refrigerator is made of plastic- ahhhhhh!!!   I’m overwhelmed when I stop to think about it.  How is it we let these materials into every facet of our lives without fully knowing what was in them or what effects those materials had on us and the world around us?  Why are/were we so ready to adopt something new over something that had worked just fine forever?

Check out how long it takes plastic items to decompose in our oceans (cuz that’s where much of it ends up)- 400+ years!

So I’m asking you to question your thinking.  When you ask yourself- well, what about splinters in my wooden toys?  Think about when those plastic toys break and become little daggers.  Think about the tiny shavings sharp teeth carve out and little bodies swallow.  Every time you pull a teething toy out of the freezer and put it in your babies’ mouths, think about what they are sucking out of it.  When you buy a cheap plastic toy, think not just about the $9.99 pricetag, but about the price our planet will pay when it’s forever in our landfills.  Just like antibiotics, like petrochemicals, like nuclear power, plastics have their uses and their downfalls.  It’s time we gave them their fair consideration.  All around us, people are questioning how necessary these great inventions of the 20th century really are, what their true costs really equal out to be.  I urge you to question your notions of safe, of normal, of comfort and look at where they were born.  In my heart, I know I feel closer to nature when I’m surrounded by it.  New is nice and I see its appeal, but there’s something about manufactured housewares, toys, homes and products that just feels fake.  Because they ARE fake.  We have so much that nature has freely given us to work with.  It’s right here.  It’s cheap, it’s renewable, it’s dependable and IT IS SAFE.  So stop your worrying and go back to your roots.  Mother nature provides, man.  It’s time to trust her and to think twice about what man is providing in her place.

Still worried about splinters?  Check out this Tough Love Wooden Teether that’s taken more than an average beating.

Worried about splinters in wooden teethers? Check this out!

Posted by Tough Love Teethers on Sunday, July 9, 2017


I got this coupon code, HUSTLINBOSS, from another maker mom recently and I had to laugh to myself- so NOT me!  I never really considered myself a “hustler” (I’m not even cool enough to use words like that!), and if I were your boss, you’d for sure laugh at me.  Hustlin boss I am not.  What I am is trying to hold it all together.  I feel like I’m still adjusting to being an adult, let alone a wife and mom, a mom of two, a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, a business owner, a marketing manager, a blogger, a web designer, a distribution specialist, a woodworker, and all the other hats I seem to wear these days.  Do you ever have those moments where you look at your life from the outside and think, “If they only knew…”?  I walked into the dining room the other day after serving my family dinner and thought- wow, these kids think I’m in charge- they have no idea!  If they only knew I’m terrified inside 90% of the time, I winging it like 99.9999% of the day, and I still feel like I’m the kid and wonder when the adult will come in and take over for me!  But they don’t.  People don’t know what’s going on inside your head and chances are your life looks a lot more put together on the outside than it feels on the inside.

So let’s get real, this shit is hard.  There really is no having it all.  Those celebrities that do everything must have nannies raising their children and that mom who gets to stay at home with her kids never gets a minute off.  And these days even moms like me who have their dreams come true and get to be stay at home moms have to have some sort of side hustle to feel complete, adequate, whole.  We feel like we are doing it all and at the same time never quite enough.  It’s not enough to be a mom.  You have to be super mom- make your own baby food, your own baby clothes, your own salves, toothpaste and butt creams, have the perfect house and cars that are always tidy, dress your children and yourself in the latest styles, lose that baby weight three weeks after baby is born all while nursing your baby so glowingly, attend all the mommy groups with a smile, run errands with grown children strapped to all parts of your body, go on dates with your partner, go outside your house with real clothes on, exercise, have close friendships and do social things with those friends, not to mention being interesting, having hobbies and most likely bringing home some bacon to fry up for your family at night with homegrown organic green healthy shit too.

For real tho

In real life, I’m typing this while my baby is clawing at me for a boob, I’ve got my 4 year old stuck in front of the TV- again, so I can get a minute of quiet, I smell and I’m wearing a Disney Princess hat and the same shirt I’ve had on for 3 days and nights.  I only shower when my head starts itching- gross!  My house is only clean when I know you’re coming over and I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed my bedroom because you won’t be going in there.  My clean laundry stays in a heap on the couch way too long and I use my dryer as my iron because I’m lazy.  My kids eat lots of Mac N Cheese and I do, too.  I never lost the baby weight and I gave up on Weight Watchers because eating makes me happy.  I have no idea what all is lost in my car- if I can’t find it, it’s probably there somewhere.  I lose my keys, my phone and my remote about three times a day.  The only thing my husband and I have to talk about is our kids, our business, our “president” and the weather.  We almost never have sex.  The only friends I can keep are the ones who don’t expect to hear from me often.  I do make a lot of my stuff, but only because we’re poor and it’s cheaper that way.  Breastfeeding is my exercise.  My hobbies include sleeping, eating, watching reality TV and repeating those actions.  I have no idea what I’m doing in business and I make way more mistakes than I’d like to acknowledge.  I didn’t even know what hastags were for until this year and I still feel dumb when I use one.  And I’m kind of ashamed that I’m letting the whole world know all of this.  I’m afraid you’ll judge me or report me to CPS (please don’t!).  But I’m hoping that just maybe you’ll relate.  That by being real with you, I can get closer to you and I can accept myself for all my flaws.  That maybe you’ll open up and show me what your life is really like.  Because I can’t relate to perfect people and messy houses make me feel more at home.  So tell me, what’s lurking under your beautiful facade?