Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Baby Turns 2

Today, my precious baby turns 2! My sweet Payton, you are such a joy to us all! You are so independent, sensitive, and energetic. You love animals and never pass on the opportunity to teach your dogs about something new (like showing them ducks and explaining that they quack). You also love your baby dolls and take them with you everywhere.

Since you were born you have been our shy child. You would rather watch everyone around you and you don't seem to miss anything.

I am so blessed to have been granted the opportunity to be your mother. I can't wait to see where this next year takes you! We love you so much Payton! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Baby Leggings

If you have been following me you already know that we are a frugal family. We spent next to nothing on our first child and focused on using hand-me-downs from our family, garage sale finds, and from people in our area giving away items (this included baby clothes, toys, supplies, and maternity clothes). Our only real expense was diapers so we opted for cloth diapers. Since those can be reused, I won't spend any money in that department for baby #2.

I got a great coupon from baby leggings and couldn't pass up using! I was given 1 pair of baby leggings for my daughter when I was pregnant with her. That single pair was worn all the time! All. The. Time. I was actually really sad when she outgrew the pair! Why did I like those leggings so much, you might be wondering? They made diaper changing so easy because I just had a onesie to mess with. During the summer, these were light enough for the warm weather but still kept baby covered so they didn't freeze when I went indoors. They are also just so stinking cute!

The coupon I was given got me 5 pairs of leggings and all I had to do was pay shipping ($15). I couldn't pass this deal up and can't wait to get baby #2 in leggings!
After I made my purchase, I was given a code to give friends to get the same deal! So, I wanted to share with you! You can get the same deal ($50 off, the equivalent of 5 free leggings, just pay shipping) if you enter the code: D5DC2D45A when you checkout at babyleggings. I hope you enjoy leggings as much as I do!

This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and content are my own. I will be reimbursed for shipping if 5 people use this code at checkout. 

This post has been shared at The Life of Faith's Mommy Moments link-up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting Housework Done with a Toddler

Toddlers are busy. Having one myself, I can tell you there is never a dull moment with a little one! Finding balance to taking care of the household (cooking, cleaning, paying bills, laundry, etc.) and your little one can become quite the balancing act. I have to admit, I still struggle with always finding the time to do everything I need to do each day and successfully meet all the needs of my toddler. I also have mommy guilt that I spend too much time taking care of the house and not enough time soaking up my toddler! They are only this age once, you know?

Despite my struggle, I still need a few minutes daily to prepare meals at the absolute minimum. In the last few weeks, I have done a fairly good job at keeping my child entertained. I let her enjoy an activity at the dining room table (where she may or may not move down to the floor), which is less than 3 feet from where I stand to cook. It's a great setup! Here is what I've been doing:

 This is an extremely new activity that my daughter just started exploring. I pull this out rarely, so it works great as an activity to rotate in when I am cooking. I give her some play toys or kitchen utensils to use with her play-doh.

*Money Jar
We were gifted a piggy bank when I was pregnant with my now toddler. She loves putting money in her jar. At times when I need a few minutes, I will round up some coins that she can add to her piggy bank. Once added, she loves dumping all of her coins out and putting them back in.

A word of caution: A child can choke on coins, so be present at all times. I also talk with my child frequently about how coins do not belong in the mouth. Lastly, coins can carry lots of germs so we are sure to sanitize. 

My toddler doesn't have regular access to her coloring supplies. This gives me the chance to introduce this activity and know that she will be very interested when she sees me pull this down. She typically colors at the table (again, she loves the floor, too) while I prep food.

*Open a Kitchen Cupboard
Our cupboards are all child safety locked so it's quite the adventure when I let one cabinet be opened up to our toddler. I occasionally give her access to our container drawer or the pots and pans (think stacking, sorting, and music making). It's loud and messy but she loves it!

*Let Them Help
This one is probably my best advice! If you are doing something your child can help with, let them help. Sure it will slow you down, but toddlers love being helpful and involved. It also gives you an extra chance to spend some quality time together.

My daughter helps me with dusting, vacuuming, laundry, sweeping, feeding our dogs, and unloading the dishwasher. She loves participating in all of these activities. While cooking, she loves helping me use the blender, mixer, and watching the bread machine at work!

*Paint a Picture
I talked about mess-free painting before, and I still highly recommend this activity. My daughter loves it! I set her up on the kitchen floor or on the patio door, both spots being right next to me. This activity keeps her very entertained while I whip up a quick meal or snack.

*Snack Before a Meal
I know this doesn't sound like the best idea and it definitely may or may not agree with you. My focus, in terms of eating, is that my toddler is allowed fruits and vegetables as she wants them. This being said, I will rarely deny her these foods when she asks for them. Some focus on food only being eaten at meal time while others allow eating at all times. Different strokes for different folks.

While trying to cook meals, I typically pull out my fruits and vegetables for that meal first. I then prepare them and allow my child (and myself) to pick at this food while I continue preparing our meal. Allowing my child to pick at fruits and veggies generally gives me a few extra minutes to get some work done. For us, we have seen no issue with our child still eating supper, but she is a very good eater!

I hope this gives you some ideas to help you as you work on getting through your day with your toddler. What tips do you have that I'm missing?

This post was linked up with Life of Faith's Getting Housework Done Link-up Party. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Potty Training Your Toddler in 3 Days

Happy Friday! A few days ago, I posted some tips and tricks to potty training your toddler. I wanted to also share with you some detailed information on what I specifically did to potty train my daughter at 18 months. If you look on pinterest, you will find numerous bloggers who state potty training can be done in three days. Just 3 whole days! That's amazing and I found it to be true (for the most part).

Understand that while I did potty train my child in three days it hasn't come without some periods of regression (I speak more to that here in my post from a few days ago). Keep in mind that after you extensively potty train your child, you may still have the occasional accident or two (or a whole week of accidents) at some point later on.

I took three whole days to focus on potty training. During this time, I really only had time for potty training. So, make sure you pick a time period where you have nothing else going on and no major life transitions (new baby, switching child from crib to toddler bed, moving, etc.) I would also suggest you be sure you and your child are both ready to potty train. If you aren't 100% sure both of you are ready, wait until you are certain.

Here are my tips for structuring your three days of potty training:

1. Stick Around Your House
Plan to be home during this time. It would be especially challenging to be in public when an accident occurs or you have trouble finding access to a public restroom the moment your child needs it.

2. Toddler Goes Bottomless 
At least initially, it may be easiest to let your child run around without any bottoms on. This makes it easier for you to see when your child starts going potty. For at least the first day, you will have several accidents as you "catch your child in the act" and redirect them to their potty chair. 

If you are able to spend the day potty training outside, I would suggest going that route as you would have less mess to clean up. We potty trained during the middle of winter so that wasn't an option.

I have seen some bloggers who have mentioned having a child sit on the potty for long periods of time (like while watching a tv show and eating) so that when they do pee, it's in the potty. I would not recommend this. Catching the child in the act of going potty while they are completing their daily routine will be much more likely to help them better learn their own signs of needing to use the potty chair. Additionally, I did have my toddler sit on the chair and try to potty every 30 minutes during the 3 days of potty training.

3. Buy a Potty Chair
This was a must for us. Our child is extremely petite and still has issues with the size of standard toilets. I picked up a potty chair at a garage sale last year for $2 and it's still being used today. 

The best part about having a potty chair during potty training is that it can go with you. Because accidents occur so frequently as you train, if you bring the potty chair into the room you are in you will be able to get your child to the potty much faster. I know, gross, but it is only for a few days.

4. Use Rewards
Find an incentive that will motivate your child. I put together a prize basket for every time my child successfully used the potty. These were inexpensive items like toys, stickers, crayons, coloring sheets, etc. She seemed to be solely drawn to the stickers, so we kept those stocked!

5. Make it Fun
Make learning about potty training as fun as possible. We talked frequently about how exciting it is for our child to become a big girl. We also encouraged lots of sitting on the potty and just trying to go. 

While your child is sitting on the potty, find things to help them enjoy this time. We used books, sang songs, looked at pictures, and told stories.

6. Put the Phone and All Other Distractions Away
This can be not only a trying time for your child but will be for you as well. Shut off all distractions and put away the phone for a few days. Believe me, you will have enough on your plate just potty training.

7. Bring on the Fluids
You want to give your child plenty of opportunities to learn about going potty in the potty chair. Try to get them to drink as much as possible during this time. Soon after drinking fluids, you should have a new opportunity to teach your child about where to go potty. 

Additionally, I also have plenty of food. I kept extra snacks on hand so we got to eat a bit more than we normally do. The more opportunities presented when your child goes potty, the faster you can work with them to help them learn what potty training means.

8. Celebrate like Crazy to All Successes
This may be my last tip but it's probably the most important. Every single time your child goes potty in the toilet you must celebrate as if your life depended on it! This will help your child understand that what they are doing is what is expected of them. We typically clapped, yelled "hooray," and called a family member (grandma or daddy) to tell them our news. Whatever you choose to do, go big!

I hope this helps you as you begin your journey into potty training. What extra tips do you have?

This post was linked up with Mommy Moments at the Life of Faith blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Potty Training Your Toddler: Tips and Tricks

At around 18 months, I (reluctantly) took the plunge and started potty training after my daughter, Payton, started asking to use the potty. This started after a weekend with family and she saw her three year old cousin use the potty many, many times. She asked to use the potty on her own, but it was apparent she had no idea what actually came next. Thus began a successful three day potty training marathon period. As I reflect on what I learned in the six months after starting potty training I wanted to share a few tips I have for you and your child.

1. Know Signs that Your Child is Ready
When I was working on my masters degree in counseling I interned for a psychologist who worked specifically with children. It was here that I learned what the professionals say are the three signs to knowing your child is ready to potty train:

* they can pull their pants up and down

* they can go at least 2 hours between soiled diapers

*they demonstrate a desire and can follow a few instructions

At 18 months, my child was still mastering pulling her pants up and down so we weren't 100% on that one. The challenge with that was that she had to get someone before going to the bathroom (risk an accident with the time delay) or she would try on her own and not have her pants pulled far enough down. I may have been wiser to wait until she had mastered pulling her pants up and down.

2. Make Certain You Are Ready
Even if you have an easy to train child, potty training is rough for caregivers. It's a lot of work and during the time your child is awake, you have to be 100% focused on potty training. It's consuming, has frustrating moments, and disables you from having the ability to multitask. I found the second I looked away, Payton would have an accident. Take the time to make sure you are really ready before you begin.

3. Plan to Focus ONLY on Potty Training
Read #2 above. It's quite the challenge to focus on any other task besides potty training for the first few days. You may want to consider prepping all your meals prior to starting potty training so you have more of your time available to focus on your little one. Laundry, basic cleaning, as doing dishes are tasks you may as well forget about! 

4. Rewards Work
Find some sort of incentive that interests your child and use it! For us, I had a basket with a few toy prizes and stickers (I spent less than $10 on this). She got 1 every time she used the potty chair for the 3 days. After that, I slowly decreased how often she received a prize. 

5. Find Role Models
Mommy and daddy constantly made sure to make a huge deal about going to the bathroom ourselves. We showed her what we do as we talked her through our process. I found though that Payton was most interested in her peers role modeling using the potty (thus her cousin really getting the ball rolling for us to start potty training). If you know another child who is potty trained and close to your child's age, it could be a great learning opportunity for your child to see how it looks when someone their own age goes potty. If everyone around you role models this behavior to your child, it will help them to learn the expectations.

6. Use Education Materials
About a month prior to even starting potty training, we checked out several potty training books from the library. These books helped to educate our daughter on what it means to go potty and the body parts used when going potty. Educating her beforehand and while we were potty training her helped her to better understand cognitively what we were expecting of her.

There are so many potty training tools to use. You can use books, movies, or tv shows to help you with this process. Your local library could be a great resource as you prepare for potty training.

7. Plan for Regression
The unfortunate news I have is that you may experience regression after succesfully potty training your child. We have experienced short periods of regression throughout the last six months.

The first regression we experienced was about 3 days into potty training. From what I have read, that's fairly normal. The first day of potty training we had several accidents as Payton learned what it meant to use the potty chair. She had only a few accidents the second day.  We then had many accidents the third day before getting back on track with few to no accidents following that.

After that, we went months with no accidents and then my husband left for several weeks for work. I think this major change in routine caused her to regress as she started to have frequent accidents. She got back on track after he returned but has since had a few accidents when she is too busy to stop playing and go to the bathroom. That seems to be fairly common with toddlers.

Overall, potty training has been the best thing. It was so great to push our diapers aside. I wish you luck if you are looking at starting to potty train your child. Let me know how it goes!

Thank you to Host Heather Leigh and Co-Hosts AllyFaithOur Family Grace, and Hannah for organizing the One Year and Beyond link-up. 

One Year and Beyond Topics:
April 15 // Potty Training. 
April 22 // Ways to distract a toddler while you're cooking/cleaning etc.
April 29 // Clothes shopping for your toddler. (Deals, where to shop, saving money, etc.)

This post was also linked up with Mommy Moments at the Life of Faith blog.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend Recap

We had a great Easter weekend and the weather on Sunday was phenomenal. This year we hosted dinner for a few family members and friends. We normally host a large gathering for Easter dinner, but many of our family members couldn't make it this year. They were missed, but the weekend was still a memorable one.

Our little family definitely took some time to reflect on this being one of the last holidays as a family of three. In many ways, I think it reminds us to really treasure the time we have now with our daughter as an only child. Life will soon become much busier with balancing 2 kids.

We kicked off the weekend with an egg hunt in town. Payton really got into egg hunting last year. This year, she seemed more interested in observing everyone around her. 

On Sunday, we had dinner and then had another egg hunt for Payton at our house. Payton loved finding candy, loose change, and stickers in her eggs! She stopped to open eggs along the way, so we prepared ourselves for a long egg hunt! 

In the end, we ate too much food, hung out outside, and flew a kite for a bit. It was perfect get together weather. 

We joked about having an adult egg hunt (more like find the beer) and I'm really thinking that just may need to happen next year!

How was your Easter weekend?

This post has been linked up with The Life of Faith's Mommy Moments link up.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Gender Reveal of Baby #2

We decided to find out the gender of baby #2 at our most recent ultrasound (pending baby cooperation of course). I know this isn't the same for everyone, but we typically only get 2 ultrasounds per our doctor. At our first ultrasound with our daughter, she was not in the mood for us to find out her gender, so we left still wondering about buying pink or blue supplies. We were able to find out her gender at the next ultrasound (28 weeks) and she arrived a short 9 weeks later!

We took a quick poll before our ultrasound and most of my family thought we were having a boy while majority of my hubby's family predicted a girl. The hubby and I both thought boy and our daughter just guessed "baby" (at least we knew someone would be right). We headed to our ultrasound very excited and hopeful for a good appointment.

Upon leaving our ultrasound for baby #2, we decided the first person we should tell should be baby #1, our (almost) 2 year old daughter. We put balloons in a gift bag for her and she had the best time opening up her gift and finding her balloons!


Yes, baby #2 will be a BOY! We couldn't be more excited and thankful to God for our growing family! I'm a little sad when I think about all the sparkles, bows, and pink outfits I won't get to pull out, but can't wait for the new adventure of adding trucks, camo, and dirt into the mix (although our daughter has been pretty interested in these things anyways). 

Have a great week everyone! I hope you all have a great Easter weekend!

This post has been linked up with The Life of Faith's Mommy Moments link up.

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