Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Update on Potty Training Progress

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Exactly one month ago today, I started potty training our baby boy at 19 months. Since he was my second child to train I felt much more prepared for this task and wasn't nearly as overwhelmed as I was the first time around. I can't really say which child was easier as they both were awesome on some things and struggled with other parts of learning to use the potty.

My daughter potty trained at 18 months but I knew my son wasn't ready at that time. I really only trained my daughter that early because she was showing almost all the signs of being ready to potty train and was asking several times a day to sit on the toilet after a weekend of watching her cousin, who was newly potty trained. I decided to just roll with her requests and I can tell you she was a breeze to train. She basically trained herself after experiencing 1 day of multiple accidents (almost entirely on carpet, thus my overwhelming feelings).

I had absolutely no intentions of potty training my son as early. In my previous work experience, I interned during my masters degree at a child counseling center and we almost always recommended children not be potty trained until closer to 3 (when they are more cognitively developed) and also explained that research shows boys can be more challenging to potty train than girls are. I was prepared to stick with diapers for the long haul and patiently waited for my son to show the signs he was ready.

Right before turning 19 months, Riley started to show a ton of interest in the potty. He wanted to help flush and was especially curious when his sister used the potty. I'm telling you, kids like to have other children for role models. This doesn't always play well in my favor, but this time it did. To help Riley learn more, we pulled the little potty chair (<-- affiliate link) out for him and big sister explained how it would be used. He instantly wanted to try it out. We also read him several educational books (from the library).

Thus, began our new adventure. Potty training. I use the 3 day potty training method. I'm not the first to ever come up with this method and if you google it, you will find many different blog posts and articles written on this. By the end of the 3rd day, your child can be potty trained but it really means focusing on training the entire 3 day period. This means clearing your calendars, staying home, having no company, and keeping your eyes on your child like a hawk. I have found a Friday through Sunday work best for our household.

As I mentioned above, I wasn't nearly as overwhelmed this time around. I would actually describe myself as calm through most of the experience and that made a huge difference. We still live in the same house as I potty trained my daughter in and we still have mostly carpet in the house. My solution? Remove the dining room table and rug out of the dining room (which has tile) and lock us in that room for as long as possible. I brought several toys and books in there with us and rotated toys as often as possible. We made it 1 1/2 days in there. I can tell you, cleaning up accidents is much easier on tile than on carpet. Also, I was completely okay with ditching potty training at any point and waiting until he was older if needed. That really seemed to take the pressure (aka stress) off of the whole experience.

It also helped to have big sister as a cheerleader. She was so excited to help her little brother learn to use the potty. Plus, when he earned a sticker she could earn a sticker, too, for helping her brother. She loved this! I'm hoping to write more on how to utilize a big sister when potty training. Don't get me wrong, it came with its challenges, too. Like, when she became very upset that he wasn't going to potty train immediately. I had to really work to keep her interested since I had to dedicate several days to training her brother in order to be successful.

So, at one month, we are fully potty trained during the day (diapers still at night and nap time as that typically doesn't get figured out until a much later age). It's not perfect though. He is really young so I know there will be accidents. Sometimes, he gets so busy in play he doesn't want to stop to go. I continue to focus on having him go every few hours to avoid accidents.

How has potty training gone for you in the past? Or, are you going to be potty training a little one soon? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Preschool at Home, the Park, and My Current Struggles

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon and Zaycon Fresh.

So I thought I would give a few updates as to what's been happening at our house. Since I normally feel like I ramble in my posts, I decided to switch it up with our current life under a list. This way actually works best for me as I am a perpetual list maker and love to check my lists off as I go! Here's what's going on at our house, list style for your viewing pleasure!

Education
We did not send Payton to preschool at 3 and we chose to work with her at home instead. We are undecided still about this next year but Payton is loving the lessons I pull together for her. We got  this exact workbook set and Payton has loved it. I started with doing 1-2 numbers each day from the Mickey Mouse workbook and then I would find an online worksheet to accompany it. Check out this website for free worksheets. We are now working on the alphabet and I am following the same plan but I have also incorporated Bath time toys and Fridge Magnets throughout the day for further review, also known as lots of repetition!

The flashcards from the above set are awesome as well. We use them almost daily. I don't always just show her the card and have her tell me what it is. Sometimes, I hand her the cards and ask her to find a certain item (like a red rectangle). Other times, I pull cards out and we play the matching game and match them up. I want to get the cards laminated though as they have been fairly well used already and I want them to last for our son when the time comes for him.

Lastly, I am trying out ABC Mouse for preschool activities as well. I got a coupon from Groupon and will decide in a few months if I want to continue this or not. We don't allow Payton to have much screen time as we have found that too much technology for her can cause major behavioral issues, sometimes lasting the remainder of the day. So, that being said, she is very limited on ABC Mouse but loves it. She gets about 15 minutes at a time and only uses it a handful of days each week. 

I don't know for sure what is working but the combination (and possibly her age) seems to be working well for her at this time.  We will keep on going with this routine for the time being. 



The Park

If you have followed me for awhile (or know me personally), you know we love to be outside. We caught another break from the freezing cold of winter and were able to make a trip to the park. This always makes for a good time. The kids fed the ducks, went for a walk, and we played at the playground.
The next day we were sentenced inside again with a light snow and freezing temperatures.
Riley spent most of his winter looking like this. He has to always have a blanket on him and also loves to just randomly lay down on blankets and "rest."

This is quite a comparable difference to our little Payton, who fights bedtime, resting, and sleep like her life depends on it. Riley, though, you just need to wave a blanket over your lap and you have a cuddler headed your way.

Getting Out and About

The weather may keep us from going outside but I am still trying to get out during the week with the kids. Payton has gymnastics and Riley spends some quality time with Daddy during that time. We also visit those at the nursing home about one time each week and we are trying to make it to one story time at the library each week.

Story time is great because both kids can go and participate. It's not great that sometimes the kids will run around in opposite directions and make this trip a very trying time for me. The struggle is real when one tired momma is chasing 2 very active, young children. We took a long break from story time after a few really bad trips to the library (and a few times of getting sick from there) but the kids seems to be back on track.
While at the library, we always stock up on books (and some movies) to read. I love a change up in books from the ones we have at home.

Freezer Meals

I used to regularly do freezer meals. I have slipped horribly recently. We fell into a pattern where we were eating out regularly because I wasn't planning well for meals. I was the first one to admit it was increasing my pant size and also left me feeling horrible from all the processed foods.

So, I am trying to get back into the swing of freezer meals and meal preparation. Last week, I bought bulk chicken through Zaycon fresh and was very pleased with the chicken we got. I had very little fat to remove and the chicken breasts were huge! After the kids went to bed, we made up 12 freezer meals.

I keep it so simple. We bought several kinds of Lawry's marinades and poured them with the chicken into freezer bags (about 4 breasts to a bag). I also prepared a few batches of chicken strips and put them in the the freezer as well. When I pull the meals out, we normally grill the chicken and I throw together some rice and veggies. Viola! Dinner is served.

Over this weekend, my hubby and I made homemade runzas. These were so good and we got about 40 runzas into the freezer.
I'm slowly finding a baking/cooking groove again. It's hard to get back into the cooking habit when you fall out of it. If you freezer meal prep, share with me some of your meals you use or tips to stay motivated!

Sleep

This should have honestly been titled lack of sleep. We still aren't getting much sleep at our house. My daughter is sleeping fine, with the occasional waking at night. My son, on the other hand, is sleeping worse than he did as a newborn. Some nights, he isn't even making it an hour. It's been rough here. 
Naps used to not be a struggle and our only problem area was night sleeping. That has changed recently as well. We said goodbye to the 2-3 hour naps he was taking and are finding several times a week he will sleep maybe 45 minutes. He is so tired when he gets up but I can't get him to fall back asleep except the one time in the above picture. I embraced that nap with all that I had. It had been a long while since a child randomly fell asleep on me in the living room. 

My Personal Struggles

See the above sleep section to understand my personal struggles lately. Sleep deprivation has not looked good on me lately. I am tired and there doesn't seem to be enough coffee. ever. I have also been getting horrible headaches, which I think are due to lack of sleep (or maybe the coffee, who knows). 

Between lack of sleep and poor meal planning lately, I've been riding the struggle bus a lot lately. I'm hoping things can start turning around soon, but it's so hard to know when I will start getting sleep again. Or what the right thing to do is. Or if I am even doing the right thing. So, if you could say a little prayer for me, I would be much appreciative. Until I get off the struggle bus, I am using this time to turn to my faith and find appreciation for the life I have been given. 

Happy Wednesday! We are almost through the week!

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Going Home

For absolutely no reason in particular, I decided to load the kids up and take them on a random trip to my hometown. Since I wasn't entirely sure if I would make the trip (illness and kids can happen at any time I've learned) my family only got a few hours notice that we were arriving. My kids were only told that morning as well and helped me to do a quick packing job.

Random 3 1/2 hour trips are very new for us since my kids previously didn't travel well at all. Like a 3 hour trip turns into 5 hours and kids cry the whole time kind of poor traveling trips we have endured. In the last few months though, they both seem to have transitioned into being a bit better at being harnessed into a vehicle for long periods of time. I like the think they are learning the end result is worth it. Who really knows though.

In any case, our chaotic family of three arrived in one piece. The kids had a blast seeing several aunts, uncles, cousins, great grandparents, and my parents. I love coming back to my small hometown in the middle of nowhere. I haven't lived in this town for over a decade but, yet, it still always feels like home to me. 

I loved taking walks with my children around the same block I grew up walking myself when I was their age. When I tried to explain that to my daughter she continued to tell me "I already know that and I played with you then." If only she understood she wasn't even on my radar when I was 3. 

It's amazing how fast time has gone by though. It's even more amazing that my parents live in the same house I grew up in. It gives me a lot of time for personal reflection of my own past and what I want for my children as they grow up.

We took a walk on a beautiful bridge and showed the kids the scenery my hometown has to offer. There was nothing more beautiful than soaking up the sun, taking in fresh air, viewing gorgeous scenery, and watching children bond.

We were sad to say goodbye but after a few nights, it all had to come to an end. An abrupt end to be exact. I stayed up too late with my siblings and parents and woke up too early to a child who peed the bed an another child who wanted to play long before they should have been rising. And, with that, we took our cue to exit. We left at about 7:30 in the morning and that allowed us to see many animals out on the way home, like deer, pheasants, horses, and cows. The kids were entertained by the animals outside their window.

Now, we are back adjusting to our regular routine and I'm playing catch up with the housework when I can. If you are looking for me, we'll be playing pretend birthday party, reminiscing about our recent adventure, and simultaneously having an indoor picnic.

I hope you are enjoying your week!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Anniversary to My Love

Today, my husband and I celebrate 8 years of marriage. I love anniversary celebrations and have been known to take the whole week and make it full of celebrating with extra treats, surprises, and gifts. This year, I've been slacking though. I don't even think we will get a special meal tonight as it's looking like we will have leftovers. There just seems to be so much going on with potty training, activities, Monte's job, and diy projects around the house.

We have taken extra time to regularly talk about our memories of our wedding with our children and take them down a quick picture trip down memory lane. They are still young but have enjoyed looking at the pictures and hearing about our special day. Payton is having a hard time grasping the concept of a wedding anniversary though, so she refers to it as a wedding birthday. I suppose, in many ways, she isn't wrong!

8 years and it's been a beautiful ride. Our marriage has been much more challenged than ever before since having children but, at the end of the day, this is exactly where I am meant to be. Our children have also deeply blessed us in more ways than we could ever put to words. I am so thankful for the journey God has given me and can't wait to see what is in store for us down the road.

Real love stories never have endings. – Richard Bach

Happy Anniversary to my husband! My life has only been more enriched to have you, my better half, in it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why It May be Quiet This Week

This is a busy week for our household and I may not have a lot of time to get anything done on this blog for most of this week. Why, you may ask? Well, I decided to take on potty training our little guy. Sure, he may not get it this time around and I'm okay with that. He is really interested in learning to use the potty like his big sister and I'm just going to roll with that.

Today was day 1 and he did really well. Yes, several accidents but he also used the potty several times as well. After a few hours, he was very tired and started to get very crabby. I put the diaper back on, congratulated him for the hard work he had done, and told him there was no pressure again until after nap. His sister was a great assistant and loved cheering him on and showing him how she uses the potty.

I'm sure we will all sleep well tonight!

Since, I am on here already, I wanted to share a few pictures from the weekend. The kids have been begging to do the fire-pit and make s'mores. Since I lacked the ingredients for the special treat requested, they had to settle for a fire-pit only. They had a blast.

 

We spent the rest of the weekend playing outside since our weather has been so amazing lately, like 70 degrees amazing. We will be pushed back inside for a winter storm later this week so I'm enjoying it while we've got it. I continue to love catching sweet moments of my babes.

I am off now, back to the trenches. I will report how potty training goes the next time I am on here! 

Have a great week!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What I Wish for You- An Open Letter to My Children

Dear Payton and Riley,

In the last 1,023 days of my life I have been fully immersed in motherhood. Although I can not say I have escaped the feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigued, scared and lonely; I can say I have also felt love, happiness, and a greater sense of purpose for my own life. I am not super mom. I do try super hard.

During these 1,000+ days, I don't think more than a few minutes have gone by without my mind thinking of you in some shape and form. I suppose that's what happens when a person becomes a parent, but it is still a fact that awes me. Today, I wanted to clear the air on some thoughts I have had on what I wish for you.

Payton-

May you always have a warm, loving heart. I won't be surprised if you seek positions that require care giving in some form. You spend most of your time teaching, loving, and caring for your family, toys, and animals. God has called you to foster relationships and love others. Don't let that get away from you in life.

You are more like your mother than you may ever be willing to admit so, in many ways, I feel like I understand you so well. You love to please others and have a wide range of emotions that can rotate a full 180 degrees at the drop of a hat. Remember, you are important, too, and feelings will come and go.

As I watch you growing ever so quickly, I am always amazed at your zest for life. You have big dreams and want to do it all. Chase your dreams my sweet girl. Even failure will teach you great lessons.

Riley-

My sweet baby boy. Oh how your personality is starting to present itself these days. You are so easy going and willing to do whatever we ask of you, but in your own way and timing. For instance, you will go outside with us when we ask but you can take your time getting any goal accomplished. Almost daily you choose to walk with me to the mailbox to get the mail. You have yet to actually make it once to the mail box with me. You are so intrigued by everything around you and find satisfaction in whatever is right there. May you always take life slowly and look at everything on your path.

You have such a sense of humor and love to laugh. When life gets hard, which it will, my wish for you is that you can always find an angle to each scenario that makes you laugh. This will help you get through the challenges.
May you spread your wings and fly my child! You can always come back home. I promise to leave the light on.

To the both of you-

You love each other so much right now. May you never lose sight of that love. There will be disagreements and you will sometimes do something the other one doesn't agree with. Remember, you will always have each other and some day you may only have each other.
So, mend the wounds, hug it out, and always try to find some common ground between you both. You will never regret taking the time to foster this relationship you have together. "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." -Desmond Tutu

I wish for you love, peace, and happiness as you go through this beautiful life. Thank you for being a part of our little family.

Love,

Mommy


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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Baking with My Little Valentines

I love the concept of Valentine's day but, as a couple, we don't really partake in the holiday as many others do. We don't typically do flower, gifts, or a fancy dinner. Instead, we focus on doing acts of kindness for each other and encourage our children to do the same. Payton did make cards for family and friends and she plans to do a special party for the occasion. That will probably be low key and supplies will be whatever we have around (balloons, construction paper, etc).

We do love to bake though and thought we should do some festive treats for this holiday. Payton really wanted to decorate a cake so we made heart cakes. We made the cakes together one day and then frosted them the next. I have found breaking up the activities helps me keep my sanity and keeps the kids from completely losing steam by the end. Its a win-win. They had a blast baking, creating, and then eating!

After baking the cakes, I gave the kids a few colored frosting choices, a variety of sprinkles, and a few cookie cutters and let them go! We ended up with some cute cakes that taste delicious. I love watching how both kids have continued to increase their art skills as we continue doing projects that allow them to be so creative.


I found this heart cake pan (similar pan here) at our local library:
We try to utilize our library for anything and everything that we can. Many libraries carry much more than just books, so I encourage you to look into what your local library has available if you don't already know.
The cakes turned out perfectly and this was an easy to do activity with the kids. Now, we will sit back and enjoy our cakes for the next couple of days!

What do you do for Valentine's day typically?


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