How We Potty Trained Pain Free

**as always, my parenting posts are simply my sharing what has worked for my family in the hopes that it can help yours. I am not a parenting expert by any means, I am simply learning as I go (as aren’t we all!)**

So first of all, I’ll admit straight up, the concept of potty training terrified me from the beginning. It just seemed, so, HARD! And stressful! And messy! And nebulous! For me and my littles! But I felt like there had to be a better way, and what I would like to propose in this post is, I believe there is. I took a rather non-conventional potty training approach with my little ones and it worked absolutely beautifully for us. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t messy, it was so, NATURAL. And honestly, it wasn’t training. I just let them take the lead and they did it themselves. And, dare I say, it was so EASY. It really was. It was so so easy. When my son was barely over a year old, he suddenly started refusing to poop. It was seriously stressful and traumatizing for both of us. On a whim, I got a little potty hoping that perhaps the only issue was he didn’t want to mess his diaper. Lo and behold, he pooped on the potty that day and we never had another issue (or another single poopy diaper from him!).

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How we kicked the screentime habit in under a week

Let me preface this by saying three things: one, I am not a parenting expert. I simply love to share what has worked (or not!) for my family and hope others may benefit. Secondly, I do not believe that all screen time is all bad all the time. Thirdly, there are seasons of life and I believe some of those seasons will benefit from more screen time than others. I had been having that type of season, twin toddlers, very pregnant, and doing a major home renovation project. When we were in the thick of drywalling and it came down to my kids potentially eating drywall compound or watching more PJ Masks than I would preferably want them to, let me tell you what I chose….(hint…it didn’t involve a call to the poison control hotline).

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How to not only Survive but Enjoy Long Road Trips with Toddlers

I recently traveled to Tulsa Oklahoma and back from our Colorado home in my mighty but little RAV4 with my two and a half year old twins and my very kind parents so that I could attend the annual SeneGence Seminar. The trip was over 1500 miles roundtrip, over 750 each way! We drove it straight through each way, leaving early in the morning on a Thursday and returning that Sunday. It took us about 13 hours each time (including stops). I was pretty nervous before we left as to how my littles would handle it, we never spend a lot of time in the car let alone 13 straight hours. And so, I super prepared for the trip. And, it not only worked, they actually had FUN. Granted, by the time we arrived home Sunday we were ALL (adults included) ready to get the heck out of the car, but nobody was having hysterics. I always loved road trips as a child and want to do them with my family, so I was ELATED that this was such a good first experience for my littles. What I did to prepare really worked incredibly well, and while I do not wish a 13 hour straight through road trip on anyone, I hope these tips and tricks may help you be successful with any road-tripping you have in your future!

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Future Kings and Queens, and Nurturing Tender Confident Hearts

Have you heard that Audio Adrenaline song Kings and Queens? I cannot listen to it without crying…

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free

While the focus of the song is primarily about children in need, it always hits me HARD in the gut because in this fast paced world that only seems to be getting faster, children can so easily become caught up in the fray and forgotten.

Continue reading Future Kings and Queens, and Nurturing Tender Confident Hearts

When it all gets to be a bit much…

It’s been (another) one of those weeks. You know the kind I’m talking about? Where no matter how carefully you plan, your plans blow up like a grenade hit them, one thing does lead to the other and no, absolutely none of it is something you can ignore and not deal with or there will be serious consequences. The coffee is ALWAYS cold no matter how many times you heat it, at least one of your children is constantly doing the finding boundaries/pushing buttons thing like their life depends on it (which in all fairness, it kind of does…) and the related tantrums to the boundary finding are ALWAYS in a public place you cannot escape from quickly and somehow always around judgmental folks that apparently were never children themselves but dropped from magical trees as fully poised perfectly behaved beings. And so you find yourself vacillating quicker than ever between feelings of passionate unstoppable burning love and pride in your kids and yourself to feeling like the most inept mother ever and wanting to drown in your continuously cold coffee.

I mean forget when it rains it pours cause sometimes it can feel more like when it rains it SNOW STORMS BIG A** ICE PELLETS.
I’ve set a scripture reminder to go off periodically through the day, and lately it’s been especially helpful. It doesn’t mean I am always zen and collected and that life never rattles me but at the least it helps me feel a tiny bit better because if nothing else because it reminds me I am trying. I read the scripture, and I take a big breath. It doesn’t mean I am instantly calm and everything falls immediately into place, but I am trying to be the best mom I can be. I do want to teach my kids to focus on the present, to let the past go, and to trust for the future. And it’s a struggle for me, some days more than others, but I AM TRYING.
And really that is what matters. We are trying. Even on the bad days, the failure days, the crawl under a blanket and cry by the potty days. We are trying. And really what does matter is how many times we get back up, not how many times we fall down. So cheers to cold coffee and warm hugs mamas, have a beautiful week!
Xo

Parental Patience: How to keep from Losing It

Hello dear readers! This week I am so truly thrilled to feature one of my favorite mama bloggers, the lovely Amy of discoveringwhimsy.com. Her blog is such a beautiful place to escape to while simultaneously being a refreshing dose of reality. I adore her writing and I know you will too. Make sure to subscribe to her blog and follow her on her social channels below so you can continue to enjoy her wonderful posts, ideas, and encouragements, then scroll down to read her fantastic post on parental patience!

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Parental Patience: How to keep from Losing It

My lovely great aunt always says patience is a virtue. I believe it is especially true when spending time with kids. Hats off to teachers since they are some of the most patient people out there. Kids will test and push your patience to the limits. Some days you have more patience and can deal with their testing with humor and teachable moments, a la Mary Poppins . And then there are the other days, the dreaded days, where you are not the parent you want to be. You have a lot less patience and you lose it. So on those rough days, what do you do to get back to the parent you want to be?

Over last few weeks, I have tried to be mindful on what made me feel better and what steps I took to avoid losing it. I also reached out to the community of awesome moms on Instagram to see what they do when they feel like they are losing it. Here are some of the things we do as parents to try to keep it together when our kids are pushing us to our limits. These were the top 3 responses from my informal Instagram poll.

Top 3 Tactics to Keep it Together

 

  1. Take a Mom Time Out! Many of the moms who responded said that stepping back and taking a break really helped. Some lock themselves in the bathroom, others go to the next room, but ultimately it is about giving yourself a bit of your own space to regain your composure.

My favorite quote from Jordan of Beautifully Imperfect Mama https://beautifullyimperfectmama.com/home/

“Most of the time when my toddler is losing it and I’m on the verge, I count to 4 for him and it tends to calm me down right along with him. If that doesn’t work I go into the bedroom and scream into a pillow then regain composure and go for round two 😂

  1. Breathing and Counting: The next most popular coping tactic was just breathing. Some moms use self-talk to remind themselves to breathe and others will count breaths.

Do what Daniel Tiger’s mom says and “when you’re feeling mad and you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four “, or ten or whatever you need.

  1. Fresh Air and Exercise. The third most popular tactic was to get outside and get some fresh air. I would agree that getting outside can really change your mood; usually for the better.

Here is a link to the Instagram post, if you would like to see what some of the moms I follow said, https://www.instagram.com/p/BVkqVb-ltla/ , check it out and feel free to add your own thoughts or tactics.

For me personally, I envision my patience like water in a well. There are some days my patience well is full, easily filled and I have bucket-loads of patience. Then there are other days I’m scrapping the bottom of the barrel for just a drop of patience. On days where my well is half full and the kids are pushing my buttons, I use the tactics the other moms listed above, but I also have some other things that really work for me.

Here are 4 things in addition to the list above that really help me refill my well.

Well Half-Full Tactics

  1. Perspective: I try to remind myself that there are 1,440 minutes in each day (Thank you Google for that fun fact). So even if we have a rough 20 minutes, I still have 1420 minutes to try and do better.
  2. Look at something relaxing: for me I love looking at stock photos, beautiful Instagram feeds or pictures of my kids, when they weren’t pushing my buttons, help me re-center.
  3. Coloring together is really relaxing and its fun for the kids. I have seen so many fun adult coloring books at craft stores, I finally broke down and bought one. I must say it is really is fun and I am enjoying it. Clearly for me, a creative outlet helps.
  4. Turn up the music: Music can be so soothing and a mood changer. Pick an upbeat song, turn it up and dance around! I dare you not to feel better!

Hard Days: where my well is close to being dry

But there are days, where my well is dry, very early on. These dry days are usually due to sleep deprivation, feeling overwhelmed with a messy house, plies of laundry, wanting to do something for me, but feeling like I can’t, or some combination of these things. These are the toughest and I feel the most guilt about these days. These are the days I’ve yelled and/or cried in front of the kids for something or another. Get out and Go

One thing that usually helps is to put everyone in the car and go somewhere. It doesn’t matter where we go, we just need to get out of the house and go! For me this helps because everyone is restrained in their own space. We will drive around, often we end up in the Starbucks drive thru and I get a chai. That first drink of spicy chai helps me escape for a second. After the chai, we go to a park if it’s not raining, if it is raining we go to Target or a bookstore wander around. People wonder why you see moms wandering around Target; sometimes you just have to get away.
Ask for HELP Another thing I’ve learned that helps to fill the dry well, I need to say when I need some help. I can’t expect my partner to read my mind to know when I need a break. After a really hard day or days, I ask my husband for more help. Sometimes instead of doing family time before bedtime, I might see if he can hold down the fort so I can have an hour or two just to myself. This helps so much and I can do whatever I want. This time is a chance for me to be just me and go to the bathroom without someone wanting to sit in my lap.

 

I hope these tactics help you think about what really helps you regain your patience. What fills my patience well, might not fill yours, so you will need to do a little reflection. Try to think about what you do when you are on the verge of losing it or when you lost it, how did you recover? Do you need a physical outlet to refill, a solitary or creative one? What does your partner do? Make sure you share these with each other. Write them down if it helps. If you have no idea, reach out to the community of parents you belong to like I did and see what they say. Parenting can be challenging even on our best days. Being mindful of what refills your patience well will help you get back on track on the half full or tough days of parenting.

 

Cheers,

Amy

discoveringwhimsy.com

 

One day, an open letter to my babies

Last night, you both slept so very poorly, you wanted to nurse all night long. I can’t really blame you, we’ve all been sick and you’re starving cause you can’t keep anything down. We were a sweaty mess of tears, tangled legs, arms, and completely messed up sheets. I needed to use the bathroom and every time you’d have fallen asleep and I’d try to sneak away you’d wake up, root for me desperately and cry as if your heart was breaking.


I found myself so frustrated and wishing you would just go to sleep already and STAY asleep. I finally decided to just run for the bathroom and tried to temporarily shut out the cries I heard intensifying from the bed.
I rushed back, my frustration at an all time high, and you both latched on frantically for what seemed to be the umteenth time that night. Then, both of you reached for me with tiny, sweaty little hands and grabbed on to mine, and you each a let out a loud sigh of relief upon the contact. I looked down at both of you, felt your bodies relax and the utter relief on your faces that you were back in my arms. And it hit me, hard. Right now, I’m literally all you need, all you want. In your mind, I am all powerful, the answer to everything, the omnipotent ruler of your universe. No matter what, you believe I can fix it, make it better. Right now, I am literally your entire world.


And at the same moment it also hit me, one day, so soon, this will change. You’ll become more independent, as you should. You’ll see God is omnipotent, not I. You’ll need me less and less, which is also how it should be. One day you’ll realize I am not all powerful, your world will expand and other people will become important. One day the sheets won’t be so sweaty and tangled with all these arms and legs, your little mouth won’t root and your little hands won’t reach for me anymore because you will have grown into your own bed and things will have changed. It will be quiet, oh so, so quiet.


One day you will have moved out and your own children will reach for you with their sweaty little hands and tiny mouths, and I will go to the bathroom at my leisure.
The only cries I hear will be memories in my mind, you will call me but it will be different.
And it will be a beautiful thing, we will celebrate your family and I will still be there for you, but oh, how I shall desperately miss being your entire world.


Some days it’s hard, and sometimes I get tired, and that’s ok. Parenthood IS hard. One day, it will happen to you and I hope I can comfort you and hold your hand again when you’re tired or need to cry, and all you want to do is pee in peace.
And I hope, with all my heart, above all else, one day you will know, how very much I love you, have always loved you, and will always love you, and that no matter how big you get, you’ll always be MY world.

 

Love,

Mommy

When Love is in the House…It Doesn’t Matter The Size

Last year, my husband and I made the decision to ask my parents if we could move in with them for a while. This was prompted by several factors, not in the least of which included that our apartment complex had raised our rent and we had barely been making it financially before that, despite both of us working seven day weeks. As our twins were eight months old at the time, we decided that ‘pooling resources’ with my parents would be the best for our family in many ways.


It would provide us the opportunity to cut our work hours back a bit while also relieving some of the financial strain and permitting us more time with our children as well as with each other before my husband starts medical school. With my parents generous welcome, we packed up ourselves, our two babies and our three cats and moved into my parents loving, albeit tiny, home.


We knew it would be cozy, one of my two sisters was already living with my parents, along with her dog and my parents own three cats. So here we are, six cats, one dog, two babies and five adults all in one home. That’s quite the large group to have under one roof, and with that many people eventually something someone does is going to get on someone else’s nerves. Things that might not have been annoying before seem different when one has to experience it every day. And, no matter how close you are or how much you love each other, people are individuals with opinions and their own ways of doing things and so we are learning to compromise, flex, and adjust our own set routines in order to be successful in this living arrangement. We have come to understand that differences of opinion do not mean a lack of mutual respect and love, and I believe that is a tremendous key to our success.


Within this tiny home, we have two sets of parents, one seasoned pair and one new pair, an aunt, and infant twins. That is a tremendous amount of opinions and emotions. But it is equally a tremendous amount of love and life. Things like grocery shopping and bill sharing have not been a huge issue, as we are all focused on economizing and helping each other that way. And although things like home organization, personal space, and learning to balance keeping five adults and two babies clean with one shower is a daily challenge, where we are learning the most is in our routines and how we function with basic life tasks.


These tight quarters have forced us to put priority focus on communication. Despite the fact that I am blessed to have a very loving and close relationship with my family, in order to thrive let alone survive the circumstances, it is crucial that each and every one of us is confident to communicate and discuss when issues arise, both good and bad. And equally important that we discuss issues BEFORE they reach a critical status.


For all of us, it means remembering that discussion does not mean a lack of love or respect, rather the opposite. For example, my mother and I have a very open and honest relationship. If we irritate or frustrate each other, we talk about it and work through it because we value our relationship enough to do so. It does not mean we never disagree, but it does mean that when we do we work through it instead of shoving it under the rug. We respect each other enough to say, hey, this isn’t working the best let’s fix it, as opposed to not addressing issues and fermenting and stewing until we resent each other and want to blow the roof off of the house. This applies to every member of this house. We have chosen to respect each other and value our relationships enough to put the work in to make it succeed.


And so we are thriving in this tiny little house. We are sharing resources, joys, struggles and experiences, making memories, learning and growing. My children are growing up literally surrounded by people who love and adore them, and I see their confidence and self esteem blossoming every day. And of course, not every moment is easy, but we have found the harder moments to be completely worth it.


That is the case with all life and relationships, I think. To succeed, you have to put in the work. But if it is worth succeeding at, it is worth the work every time.

Boobs are for Babies, (some thoughts on breastfeeding in public)

I think we can all agree breastfeeding, and especially breastfeeding in public, is a pretty hot topic these days. It makes sense, right? I mean, how you feed your baby should most definitely be part of everyone else’s business. (EYE ROLL). And I do not care whether you’re a formula feeding mama or a booby mama, I respect your decision and support you. And you should support yourself and respect that you made the choice you felt best for your baby. It’s your business. No one else’s. I chose to breastfeed my twins, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, before babies I saw my boobs as far more sacred parts of my anatomy. These days, I see them as they’re simply what the good Lord gave me to nourish my children with. When they were first born, I was so focused on keeping covered at all times and nursing them discreetly. That idealized image shattered fast, and now I don’t even bat an eye when one of my babies needs to eat. (Because yes, they’re fifteen months today and STILL nursing, as my lovely friend Ashley said in the video we made Monday, people do ask that a lot, we will talk about that ‘still nursing’ topic more in a future post). Why in the world does society try to sexualize our babies eating?! It’s not sexy. It’s not erotic. It’s a lot of work!

And I personally agree with a statement I saw Kristen Bell made in this article, “When it comes to breastfeeding your baby, if you are too nervous to do it in public I think you are part of the problem…Women should own the fact that we are superheroes for the first however many months of your child’s life. It is your opportunity and your duty to feed your baby should you choose to breastfeed and be proud of it.” Now, I do not think you should feel guilty if you’re nervous about feeding your baby while out and about. It’s hard to not feel nervous when every time we turn around someone is saying something negative about it. But as moms, I do think we should fight back against the shaming and guilt and realize that WE are not the problem. If our society has forced some weird perverted concept into peoples minds regarding the action of nourishing our children in a manner in which our physical bodies were literally designed to do, I think we should actively resist it.

Chrissy Teigen has been an active voice for normalizing breastfeeding since she had her baby, posting pics such as her feeding Luna on set  and openly talking about how truly challenging breastfeeding can be. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, I think you can agree that no one chooses to breastfeed because it’s easy. Yes, there are things that are easier about it, no heating up a bottle in the middle of the night, never forgetting the formula at home. But the facts are it’s hard. Your body pretty much belongs to your baby for however long you breastfeed. And no it’s not always comfortable, among other things (watch my rant about the less than glamorous parts of breastfeeding here ). Basically, breastfeeding your kid is beautiful but it’s also hard, and it’s a gift you give them that will literally effect them all their lives. Breastfeeding should not be shamed, or treated as something to do in dark corners away from prying eyes. I’m not advocating flapping your boobs around and squirting your nipples in people’s faces, (did anyone else see that article though? HILARIOUS). And I have to agree with Mila Kunis’ response to being shamed for breastfeeding in public, “If it’s not for you, don’t look.” Everyone can have their opinion on it, but if it bothers you, don’t stare.

I recently attended an awards banquet for one of my sisters who is a firefighter, and I admit to having a moment of hesitation when my daughter first went boob digging (because of course this was not an isolated event through the evening). I was surrounded by people in uniform and frankly I didn’t want to make my sister uncomfortable. But, she’s wonderful and hugely supportive, and simply gave me the ‘you know better than to think I care’ look when I glanced at her in hesitation as I latched my child. I breathed a sigh of relief, and fed my babies. And you know, not one single person batted an eye or gave me grief. I’m not even sure many of them noticed. I once read a comment someone made of likening breastfeeding to the act of procreating. WHAT IN THE WORLD. It is nothing like that. AT ALL. I firmly believe that breastfeeding mamas need to take a stand against that way of thinking.

And again, I am not pushing for us to all go out and wave our boobs around in the air and flash our nipples at unsuspecting shoppers. And if using a cover while out makes you more comfortable, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of that either. BUT, I do think we need to focus on changing our mindset and start viewing breastfeeding as a NORMAL life event. I am thankful for other amazing breastfeeding advocates, like The Milk Meg and The Badass Breastfeeder, who are actively working to change the situation. And, while we cannot control others, (not promoting rape culture here ladies!!) I do believe that how we view ourselves effects how others perceive us, so I say, feed those babies in confidence mamas! Feed them whenever they’re hungry, and wherever we are. Let’s be brave, let’s be proud, let’s show the world, BOOBS ARE FOR BABIES. And there ain’t no shame in that.

Why I Don’t Do New Year Resolutions

Every year around this time I fight off a stab of guilt as I see everyone posting about their New Year resolutions. So many are blazing off to accomplish great things and achieve their goals. And it never fails I question my choice to not set a list of New Years goals, but in the end I stick to my resolve. For me, life goals are about the day to day process. Every morning I wake up and I really try my best. Sometimes that best involves wearing week old leggings, dirty hair, and four cups of coffee but that’s ok. It was still the best I had that day. Personally, I don’t work well with a super set list of new changes just because the calendar turned. For some people that isn’t the case, and if you’re a New Years goal setter, that’s awesome. You do you mama. And I’m not saying I never make a list of goals, or do crunch time and really work to change things.

But there is one thing I know I don’t need more of in life, and that is guilt and pressure. Ok thats two things. For example, today was hard. SO. HARD. It’s late afternoon and I still haven’t brushed my teeth. My hair is a sad and dirty mom bun, (but hey at least my sweats are only two days old). We’ve had fevers, teething, and seemingly endless screaming babies. I did scrub my pits in the shower while holding my son because well, we had a diaper incident, (thanks prune juice, but seriously it NEEDED to happen) and while I’m not overly fond of smelling poorly I really try to avoid smelling like actual FECES. Also, I am currently working on my second pb&j of the day as the first one face planted tragically onto the floor. (Five second rule doesn’t work when the floor is carpet and the item is smeared in jam). And, it’s still a little early for a glass of wine (though I was sorely tempted half an hour ago…).

Anyway, my point in all this rambling is, had I set some new hard and fast goals for this year I’d already be failing them. And at least for me, nothing is as discouraging as failing right out of the starting gate. And while that’s going to happen sometimes, I personally prefer not to set myself up for that scenario if I can avoid it. I mean, I have an ongoing goal of working out more/at all, and I will continue working towards that goal but at least I don’t have to face that I flunked my New Years resolutions before the first month was even over. Now I can just slide today into the big basket of ‘did my best and try again tomorrows’. Which, for me personally, is far less traumatizing.

And of course I have goals and resolutions, I have things I want to change, things I want to do better, or do at all. But they’re on my constantly working to evolve list, my ongoing life quest, my life resolutions. And even those evolve and change. But for me, it’s more doable to look at my resolutions without the fear of immediate failure due to the change of a year. And like I said, what’s important is finding what works for you and feeling confident in that choice, whatever it might be.