Potty Chronicles

By: Tanya Pimental 

potty-trainingMy strategy for eliminating diapers likely differs from most. I learned so much from first born in regards to potty training.  Honestly, I thought she’d go off to middle school wearing diapers.  I felt so much parent shame.  It made me truly unravel at times. She’s a smart and sweet 9 year old now who stopped wearing diapers a month shy of her 4th birthday.

Yes, you read that right.  She was almost 4 and she was wearing diapers.  It made me feel like an awful parent. One of my biggest jobs was to get her into underwear and I felt like I had failed.  We spent months talking about it. This kid was talking in complete sentences at 18 months. I really did try all the tricks. She just had a mind of her own.  And guess what, the day she decided to wear underwear was it.  She never had an accident and was both day and night trained with a flip of a switch.  The year of talking about it, encouraging potty use, and shaming her diaper wearing was all pointless.  She did it all on her own when she was ready.  Imagine that.

With my son, I chose to let him take the lead. There was no way I was going to deal with endless battles to use the potty. I casually bought underwear but never made a big deal about using the bathroom.  Prince WilliamAnd imagine how great it was at 3.5 when he decided he wanted to ditch the diapers. It was easy. My first born had taught me to not stress.  She taught me that not all kids are potty trained and diaper free at two years old like some would have you believe. I wasn’t chasing him down every twenty minutes to try.  I didn’t have to deal with all the extra changes of clothes when we were out and about. He has always been the easy one.

Here I am with my third.  She’s got a spunky personality and a “you can’t make me do anything” attitude.  She is 3.5 and still wearing diapers. That said, she has a crazy obsession with all things potty related.  Potty talk and pretend doll house potty use are all the rage.  Heck, she has watched the same episode of Daniel Tiger where Prince Wednesday uses the potty, over and over and over.  Just when I thought I should intervene and run with it, about a week ago she announced she needed to use the potty and much to my delight , she did.  There she sat in all her glory.  And now we off on this potty training railway. Despite our making strides daily, we did deal with a number two in the tub today.  But I guess it’s safe to say we are on our way to being a family of five underwear wearers.

My advice to How to Potty Train Your Monsterthose gearing up to make the move to being diaper free is simply to let your child take the lead.  Don’t rush it. No one wants to rush to a  bathroom from the back corner of Target or ask your kid to try try every time the timer buzzes.  Accidents are no fun at home or out and about.  Start out slow and keep things casual.  Read books like, How to Potty Train Your Monster.  Point out how awesome underwear is to have in your wardrobe. I promise you, from a mom of three, that your child will not wear diapers into middle school.  And lastly, if your three or almost four year old hasn’t quite made the leap from diapers, don’t dismay as you are certainly not alone.

Posted in how to potty train your monster, potty training tips, Signature Moms Blog, Tanya Pimental | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dry Drowning & What Parents Need to Know

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 5.32.47 PMSummer is in full swing and many of us are spending more time near the water. If you’re like most parents you probably assume that once your child exits the water their risk of drowning is over. But “dry” drowning, or “secondary” drowning can occur hours after your child has finished swimming for the day.

What is it?

The term “dry drowning” can often be misleading because it has nothing to do with heat or sand, and everything to do with water. In dry drowning, someone takes in a small amount of water through his or her nose and/or mouth, which causes a spasm in the airway, causing it to close up. In secondary drowning, a little bit of water gets into the lungs and causes inflammation or swelling that makes it difficult or impossible for the body to transfer oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa. Dry drowning usually happens soon after exiting the water, but with secondary drowning, there can be a delay of up to 24 hours before the person shows signs of distress. Both can cause trouble breathing and, in worst-case scenarios, death.

Is it common?

Rest assured! Dry drowning and secondary drowning incidents, although incredibly scary, are pretty rare. Doctors estimate that only about 1-2% of drowning incidents are a result of dry or secondary drowning.

Even though these incidents are rare, because they are potentially life threatening, it’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms.


  • Water rescue- Any child pulled from the water should seek medical attention.
  • Coughing- Persistent coughing or coughing associated with increased breathing needs to be evaluated.
  • Trouble Breathing- Rapid, shallow breathing, nostrils flaring, or where you can see between your child’s ribs or the gap above their collarbone when they breathe, means they’re working harder to breathe than normal and should be seen by medical professionals immediately.
  • Feeling Extremely Tired- While this is usually a side effect of a long day spent playing in the water, it could also be a sign that your child isn’t getting enough oxygen in their blood. Don’t put them to bed until their doctor gives you the go ahead.
  • Forgetfulness/ Change in Behavior- A dip in oxygen could also cause your child to feel sick or woozy.

What to Do:  Any time you’re concerned about your child and think he or she could have symptoms of dry or secondary drowning, whether you’re in your backyard pool or on a beach vacation, call the pediatrician right away for advice. Your child’s doctor should be able to talk you through what to do and advise you on whether a trip to the ER, doctor’s office, or urgent care center is necessary.

Prevention: Prevention is the same for dry drowning and secondary drowning as it is for any other kind of drowning.

  • Swim lessons- Kids who are comfortable and skilled at moving around the water are less likely to go under and take in water.
  • Supervision- Monitor your kids closely in and around the water.

As long as you practice water safety, pay close attention to your children during and after swimming, and get them checked out if you notice any signs of trouble breathing, you shouldn’t have to constantly stress about dry or secondary drowning.

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Tipping Turmoil

By: Jessica Aldred 

Having never really worked in the food service industry, I always find myself facing an inner tipping debate whenever we eat out. Is it 15%, 18%, 20%? Is it based on good service or a given? This was more so complicated when we added children to the equation. While eating out happens less and less often with each additional child, majorly due to the pain and suffering involved, I still face this tipping turmoil.

Picture this, as you get up to exit the restaurant you see a family of five seated at a booth across from you. The two older children are quietly enthralled in their video games while the baby munches on crackers and smiles adoringly at you. They look like one-69528_1280the picture perfect family right? You even comment on how well behaved the boys are and how cute the little one is. What you didn’t see is when the boys got bored and started tossing food across the table, kicking each other and whining for their dinner. You missed the cute little baby screaming and flailing for no explainable reason. As the meal continued, you’d also miss the mounting pile of food on beneath our feet, the side of me covered in greasy fingerprints while I held down the baby’s plate and quickly tried to shovel something into my mouth when he stopped to catch a breathe. With all this in mind, how do I tip?

I tend to err on the high side for the sake of the extra cleanup involved. I also somehow convince myself that a bigger tip from me may compensate for the lesser one they get from the table next to us as their overall experience has certainly been impacted by the hysteria of my family. Although I generally try to clean up what I can from beneath the table, I’m often stopped-as I crawl halfway under the table- by the server or management who encourage me to leave it alone. I understand that it’s part of their job but that doesn’t really help the terrible feeling of leaving the place in such disarray. As a result, you’ll often find a tip in addition to the original tip spawned from my own guilt and embarrassment.

I honestly don’t even know who the tips go to. Do they pool them and split at the end of the night? Is the poor bus boy at least getting a cut? He’s surely doing the bulk of the clean-up. This has been an ongoing struggle of mine for decades now and while I’m not sure there is a right answer, I’d certainly like to hear how you handle these situations.

Posted in eating out with kids, Jessica Aldred, kids, tipping with kids | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Dad to Grads: No College? No Problem!

By: Mike StangerScreen Shot 2015-06-15 at 5.05.13 PM

The graduation ceremony is over. The cake is cut. Congratulations echo all around. And, then it comes. The ubiquitous question finds its way to the ears of all the recent grads:

“Are you going to college?”

Many answer quickly and proudly that, indeed, they are. They then go into the details about the school and major of their choice.

Others may be more reticent, explaining that they are going to college, but have yet to decide on a major.

Still others look away, hem and haw, and meekly answer that they’re not.

“Why not? You need to go to college to succeed in life,” goes the traditional reply, followed by the well-meaning, but unproductive lecture on why.

To most people, going to college seems like a no-brainer for anyone wanting to be “successful” in life, while not going spells doom.

But is college the only path to success?


Honestly, do you really need a bachelor’s degree in business administration or even entrepreneurship to start a business?

There are plenty of billionaires in the Unites States without college degrees.

“Those guys are anomalies!” shouts a woman reading this on her laptop while passing time during a week-long company Kaizen event.

“Not everyone is a genius like them,” quips another, glancing at her smartphone from the soccer field bleachers.

True, they are anomalies. Only a tiny percentage of people become billionaires. But successful business owners are not anomalies. Yes, they may not be billionaires, or even millionaires, but they do make a solid living and provide services to society. And many of them have zero college experience, let alone a degree in a business-related discipline.

Further, while some of the actual billionaire business owners are, indeed, geniuses in the traditional sense of the word, many are not. Their “genius” springs simply from perseverance, a willingness to fail in pursuit of their dreams, and a strong desire to see their ideas come to fruition. Such character traits don’t require a 180 IQ nor a college degree.

Take Richard Branson, for example. He suffered from dyslexia and received poor grades in school. He was not someone others would immediately consider a genius. He never attended college. Yet, he persevered, and he is now one of the richest men in the world. He’s also a great person to work for. A friend of mine who used to work for him told me that he always took the time to talk to the employees and ask them about things going on with their lives, whether it had to do with their family or with school. Branson doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. He just introduced a policy which allows some employees who are parents to take a year of paid leave to raise their newborn or recently-adopted child.

“Okay, okay. Good points. But what about people that can’t or don’t want to run a business?” smugly asks the man in the black mock turtleneck reading this on his iPad while sipping a grande chai tea latte, 3 pump, skim milk, lite water, no foam, extra hot drink from Starbucks.

Fair enough. My answer: trade school, especially for people who love working with their hands. There is a huge demand for the trades right now. I know someone who is taking welding in high school and loves it. She is also an excellent swimmer. She plans on becoming an underwater welder, a synergy of two of her passions that will pay her handsomely.

But her pay isn’t the relevant part here. It’s her happiness. After all, isn’t happiness and contentment want we want for our children? What good is a huge house and expensive car if you’re constantly working at a job that you hate to pay for them? Not to mention the negative effects from the stress. No job is worth an early trip to the grave.

Look, many people accuse me of being anti-college. I am not. I went to college, so it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to condemn it. I agree that for some people it’s the best option. At the same time, I ask others to consider that college is not the best option for all, however, and may actually be the worst option for some.

Many young men or women attend college, but never graduate due to lack of interest and poor grades. Those individuals up with student loan debt and nothing to show except years lost in their lives and in the workforce. Such a scenario may have been avoided if older (and supposedly wiser) adults in their lives had been more open-minded with them and had not directed them the ubiquitous “need” to go to college.

So, the next time a young person sheepishly tells you that he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the future, don’t just parrot the standard “go to college” line. Encourage him to pursue what interests him and, if possible, help him work toward that goal. That person, and society, will be better off for it.

Posted in college isn't for everyone, Martianne Stanger, path to success | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Free Family Activities Bucket List

By: Kathy Trainor

Exploring New England’s rich history doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Here is a list of 10 things to do across New England that are 100%  FREE for your family:

1.  First Friday Art Walk, Portland, ME
Local art galleries, art studios, museums, and alternative art venues host a free self-guided tour from 5 – 8 p.m. First Friday of every summer month

2. Yankee Candle, South Deerfield, MA
Yankee Candle  has its head quarters in MA. Everyone will enjoy smelling all the different aromas and fun can be had by all in this store! Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.18.21 PM

3. Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Shelburne, VT
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, where children under 12 enter for free. You can take a tour and even see the bear hospital where sick bears rest .

4. Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, Hyannis, MA
Cape Cod Potato Chip offers a FREE factory  tour. You and your family can see first hand how these crunchy little snacks are made, and you get a free snack at the end!

5. RISD Museum, Providence, RI
Only on the last Sunday of the month, but guests can visit the RISD Museum for free.

6.  Connecticut Trash Museum, Hartford, CT
On man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  At the Trash Museum in Hartford, you can learn about the problems of old-fashioned methods of disposal, such as the “town dump.” From problems, the tour moves to solutions, including explanations of source reduction, recycling, trash-to-energy and landfills.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.14.12 PM7. Yale University, New Haven, CT
Enjoy a free guided history tour of this New England institution and peruse some art at Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art all free.

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Shelburne, VT
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, where children under 12 enter for free. You can take a tour and even see the bear hospital where sick bears rest .

8. US Navy Submarine Force Museum and USS Nautilus, Groton, CT
At the US Navy Submarine Force Museum see the replica of the world’s first submarine, USS Nautilus for a free audio tour.

9. Lake Champlain Chocolates, Burlington, VT
Did I tell you they give out free samples? The free tour at Lake Champlain Chocolates is sure to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

10. Annalee Doll Museum, Meredith, NH
Open Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. Replica of Annalee Thorndike’s childhood home. Come see more than sixty years worth of her dolls and animals for every occasion.  

Posted in free activities in New England, fuggs and foach, Kathy Trainor, summer activities | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Signature Dad Reflects On Father’s Day

By: Rob Aldred (father of 3- 7, 5 & 1)

Father’s day was a day that has had many different meanings for me. When I was a kid it meant that it was a chance to spend time with my dad for a whole day. Growing up, my Dad worked 3 jobs and it was very difficult for him to spend time with us. I remember that Father’s day was one of the days we would see a lot of him. As I grew into my teen years, trying to find my way in the world, I often under-valued Father’s Day. It was sometimes even an inconvenience to my social life. As I grew into an adult it become a much more meaningful day. As my fathers’ health began to fail it become one of the most important days of the years. What we did or what I bought him was never important, it was just a day where I could see my dad and hope that he understood how much I loved him.

Today, I am a proud dad of 3 crazy boys. I am fortunate that I only have to work 1 job and I am allowed the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my kids. Father’s day for me now is just about being around my family and waiting to hear a crazy story from Quinn or a question from Vaughn about who would win in a battle Darth Vader or Iron Man (and the description of this battle), or a silly infectious smile and strange noise from my 1 year old as he is trying to get my attention.IMG_0023

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Popular Smartphone Apps for Tweens and Teens

By: Kathy Trainor Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 4.45.51 PM

Everyone knows  Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.   You are starting to hear about Instagram and Tinder but do you know the rest of the apps on your teens phone? Do you really know the Apps Teens and Tweens Use?

In this rapidly changing digital world, it’s crucial for parents to be  “Online.” I suggest you become active and understand the apps your teens and tweens are using!  Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to online safety!  Do you know what the age restriction is for the app your child, tween or teen is  using? Do you know their passwords in case there is an issue?  Do you have a policy for your child’s use on a particular app?  Can you list 10 apps they use that you are not using?  If you answered “No” to any of those questions you should take a look below to gain more info.

Here is a quick reference guide of apps that kids, teens and tweens are using:

Texting apps

Kik Messenger

Kik Messenger is a free instant messaging application available for download on mobile devices. It has become extremely popular among kids as a means to connect privately with people they know or are meeting on other social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It doesn’t require a phone number, so it’s very appealing to younger kids without a mobile phone because they can use it on their iPod Touch.


ooVoo is a video chat app. It lets you make video calls, voice calls and send texts to friends and family. You can also start a group video chat with up to 12 people. The default privacy settings are set to ‘public’, so you can talk to people you don’t know, but they can be changed so that you can just talk to your friends.


WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.

Micro-blogging apps and sites


Tumblr is so easy to use that it’s hard to explain. It is a platform that makes it really, really easy for anyone to make a blog and put whatever they want on it.  

 This app allows you to create short, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see. Set up much like Twitter and Instagram but only with videos that last about 6 seconds. 

Self-Destructing/Secret apps

Snap a photo or a video, add a caption, and send it to a friend. They’ll view it, laugh, and then the Snap disappears from the web.

 Connect with likeminded individuals and discover the unseen world around you. You are in unknown user and can tell secrets to your users.

Yik Yak
Share your thoughts and keep your privacy on Yik Yak. Download the app and check out what everyone’s saying around you based on our location. No sign-up required.

Chatting, Meeting, Dating apps and sites

Below are the most common dating sites that are activity used by teens and college students. These have come a long way from E-Harmony.  The Apps Teens and Tweens Use for dating are not like adult ones so take peek and know the risks.


While most of these apps were developed as free and easy way for people to communicate and stay in touch, it is easy for young kids, who don’t fully understand the dangers and the implications their internet use can have, to find themselves in an undesirable situation. Talk to your kids about internet safety and discuss the rules that should be associated with each app.  The more you know about what sites and apps they’re using, the easier it will be to keep them safe.

What apps do your kids use? Do you have any warnings about popular apps right now?

Posted in fuggs and foach, internet safety, Kathy Trainor, smart phone apps for teens and tweens | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment