It’s Not Potty Training, It’s Potty Exposure

Potty Exposure

Pretty sweet outfit huh? Mickey underwear, a zebra sweatshirt, some sporty orange sandals and a baby doll. E’s got style, what can I say. 

I’m pretty sure that those people who say they potty trained their child in three days waited until they were going regularly by themselves and then just sealed the deal. Which is fine, but it made the rest of us think it was possible to start from square one and get there in three days.

The worst part of this guise? It will often seem like it does actually only take a few days. Three days, some M&Ms, and E was staying dry and clean all day. And then E seemed to say “Oh, I get it. This is where YOU put your wee wee and poo poo. Lovely. I’ll keep mine in my diaper for now, but thanks for the candy!” After despairing over this to a few friends with older kids, turns out I’m not alone. This is a very common occurrence.

And back we went, back to diaper changes, only now we were changing more expensive diapers in the form of Pull-Ups. Oh, Pull-Ups. Another fun part of learning to use the potty that barring you are a saint you will very likely end up with.

We started with real underwear, that’s what she was “potty trained” in “in three days”.Then life happened. We had lots of family around, and going potty was far from E’s mind. This resulted in her wetting her pants and getting really, really upset. Now maybe I should have pulled out my Tough as Nails Mom act, but I couldn’t. My poor love was so upset, so I decided that rather than go back to diapers, which seemed like a huge step in the wrong direction, we’d do underwear inside a Pull-Up.

Apparently it wasn’t the wetness that bothered her, since she had no problem staying in wet and soiled underwear inside a Pull-Up. Awesome. Once again, not wanting to take a step backwards (though by this point we’d taken about 50 steps back already) I kept her in Pull-Ups. And here we stay…

This morning it seemed as though we’d finally hit a turning point! She asked to go potty, and…she went! Both 1 and 2! Insert fireworks here! Stickers were given out, even a Fig Newman cookie! And then…downhill from there.

And with all of this in mind I propose that we call it what it is: Potty Exposure, not Potty Training.

See we can’t “train” our children. They are little autonomous beings who exert control over their lives in any way they can. We can try to lure them into deciding that going in the toilet is a grand idea, but at the end of the day, it has to be their decision. And we as parents have to have faith that our sweet loves will someday, before they turn 18, decide on their own that toilets are awesome and diapers suck. Though I will continue to offer stickers that she will inevitably stick on the wall to make her own little glorious mural, and may even throw in some M&Ms. I’m an optimist and a dreamer.

Es Star Mural

I found this in a corner. I call it E’s Potty Sticker Starry Sky. There are more below, but this does the whole thing justice I think.

So who’s with me? #pottyexposure

 

Life is Not a Hallmark Card, and Neither is My List of 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

E on the Flats

1. There is One Thing in This Life That is Guaranteed: You will have a big butt. It’s your genetics. Own it, tone it, love it.

2. Nothing Makes a Woman More Beautiful Than Her Confidence in Herself: Not her size, her makeup, her skin tone, or the cost of her outfit and accessories. It’s her confidence in herself.

3. Confidence is Made, Not Given: Take risks, live outside of your comfort zone, and do what is right, not what is easy. This, and this alone will make you a confident woman.

4. Be Unoffendable: People will hate you. They will scorn you and mock you. And when they do, you’ll know you’re onto something. Keep it up. Don’t give them the fight they want, move on in peace with faith in yourself and the vision you have for your life.

5. Food Will Never Fill an Emotional Void. Only Healing Will: If you’re hurting emotionally, don’t be too proud to seek the help you need. Food, and drink alike, will never fill that void. They’ll only make it worse.

6. Your Clothing Size Does Not Determine Your Worth: Maybe you won’t be a size two. Maybe you will. Whatever size you are, OWN IT. See #2.

7. Follow Your Arrow and Do What You Love: Don’t allow preconceived notions of “the right path” to keep you from where you know you belong. I have complete faith that you will succeed in whatever you choose to do. As should you.

8. Your Family is Your Backbone: Your aunts, uncles, cousins, hell even distant cousins, these people will inevitably have a large impact on and in your life. They will be there when things go bad, which they will. This is life. Build these relationships, now and always.

9. Life Will be Hard: And it will. You will grieve and you will be heartbroken. But you will always persevere. Know that and thrive.

10. I Love You, Always: And Forever. And Always Will. It doesn’t matter what you do, what size you wear, what you eat, what career you choose (or don’t choose) or who you marry (or don’t marry). I love you and I will always have faith in you.

You come from a long line of strong women. You, like them, will persevere no matter what life brings. You will succeed and you will overcome obstacles you never imagined you could along the way. I have faith in you.

 

Family Pic on Beach

The Art of Doing it All Over, Day After Day, Again and Again.

Whether you are a working mom, a work at home mom, or a stay at home mom, I imagine that you, like myself, have the same schedule a majority of the time. Day, after day, after ever loving day. I also imagine that you, like myself, wake up on a Saturday and contemplate what it would be like to not know what the day might bring. Can you even remember those days? Or are they for you, as they are for me, this distant foggy memory of a time when I wasn’t ruled by a really demanding, albeit also really cute, toddler with an attitude. For stay at home moms, this reality can be even more daunting, as there is no break sans a hopefully quiet night. 

In reality the childcare component, in and of itself, is mostly enjoyable. I love watching E have an “ah ha” moment, or just play her little heart out. Seeing her run down the beach with the biggest smile, laughing uncontrollably, that warms my soul. Time outs and tantrums, not so lovely, but when she goes to do the same thing later on and makes a better decision, it makes it all worthwhile. So yes, the caring part, I’m good with that.

It’s the doldrums of the everyday need-to-do list that really make being a mom, and specifically a stay at home mom, challenging. 

Sure, don’t clean. And then proceed to rush around like a mad thing trying to get out of the house because you don’t know where anything is. Laundry? Let it go. And then come up with a creative way to clothe your child for the day when everything that fits them is dirty. Meal planning? Far too time consuming. That is until dinner time arrives, and you have nothing to make dinner out of. My point is you just can’t choose to not do the everyday tasks, and focus solely on parenting. Well, you can, but you’ll live in filth and disarray, making every outing and life in general more of a struggle, and you’ll be eating whatever you can scrape together from the random food in the fridge.

So we can’t avoid them, but what can we do then to make life with the monotony of the every day need-tos more tolerable?

1. Give Yourself a Weekly Cheat Day: Both on healthy eating (if that’s your thing, I won’t get preachy but it should be) AND on the chores. Pick one day of the week where you are OK with eating whatever your tastebuds desire, as well as nothing getting done on the ever so present, never ending list of crap that needs to be done. Yes, that may mean one extra load of laundry the next day, and maybe even sandwiches for dinner, but it gives you a much needed break to replenish you for the next 6 days of healthy choices and an abundance of chores. And hey, maybe while you take a break someone else will pick up the slack. *wink, wink*

If_Its_Your_Cheat_Day_Make_It_Good

2. Make a 6 Most Important Things to Do List the Night Before: This successful tool isn’t just for people in the business world. Come up with the Top 6 things you NEED to get done tomorrow (not want to, need to) and do those first, starting with the one you want to do least or that is the most challenging. Once those are done, whatever else you happen to accomplish is just icing on the cake of an already successful day. 

3. Do One Really Fun Thing Each Week for You: Often we moms do a little something for ourselves each day. An at-home pedicure (read use a pumice stone and clip our toenails). A mid-day glass of wine on a Friday. Sleeping for an extra three minutes through the early morning “mooommmmmyyyyyy”. Finishing off our kid’s last bit of mac n cheese. And yes, these luxurious moments are slightly satisfying, but they sure as hell aren’t about to propel us into a state of renewed vigor for what the next day holds.

But you know what will? And possibly get us through the next WEEK? A great night out, a ridiculously delicious and kid free meal (an at home dinner with your love works too!), an actual pedicure, or that one item you’ve been jonesing after for months now. Like a new camel coat for the Fall and Spring. This is a classic piece that you won’t regret investing in. 

inspiring-fall-outfits-camel-coat-look

This isn’t to say we should throw ourselves into financial turmoil to psychologically survive motherhood, but instead, rather than get by with a few half hearted attempts at pleasure, each week we should give ourselves a “paycheck” of sorts. Kisses and hugs are great, but a delicious meal and a great bottle of wine sans small children? Not to mention a camel coat…

4. Take Pleasure in the Mundane: At the end of the day, all the laundry, the dishes, the dirty floors, the food prep and KP duty, are all reminders that you are so very blessed to be a mom. Many, many women only dream of such a life. And yes, that will mean very little as you spend yet another afternoon cleaning up messes you had no hand in creating, but when the little ones are in bed, and all is quiet for five minutes, remember how blessed you really are. Let that be the thought that you go to sleep with, how beautiful motherhood really is. It just may help to pull you through when those sweet little faces wake you up at 4:45am, on a Saturday. 

 

 

E’s Second Birthday: A Semi-Homemade Party Designed with Little Ones in Mind

It’s very easy to get caught up in the Birthday games, where the winner is the mom who spends their money, time, blood, sweat and tears on the perfectly created theme where no detail is ignored. A beautiful party is a lovely idea, but on many occasions these kind of parties are not kid-friendly (or mom friendly for that matter). A slew of colorful decorations and elaborate tablescapes in a theme that very often the child couldn’t care less about can be overwhelming for children, as can large crowds. My feeling as a parent is that if it’s supposed to be a party for the child, shouldn’t it be about the child?

E at the moment likes Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse (specifically Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, don’t judge) and Octopuses. Tablescape that one.

Being that we were clearly going to be piecing this one together (surprisingly enough there isn’t a large demand for Thomas with Mickey and some Octopus decor) while also keeping it kid-centered I had E help make the decorations. Displaying children’s art work is a wonderful way to validate their abilities and efforts, while also giving them a sense of ownership over the space. It becomes not just a well decorated room, but a special place they took part in creating. I came up with the odd idea of Mickey and Thomas (as Mylar balloons in this case) sailing the high seas, each in their own ship, along with some fish net on the opposite wall lined with fish, octopuses, Thomas decals, and a Mickey Mouse Happy Birthday Banner. E showcased her artistic talents in finger painting, marker swirling, and having her hands stenciled by painting the boats, coloring the tops of the waves, and having cutouts of her hands be the arms of the octopuses.

The Party DecorThis was a multiple day process. For the boats, after she painted the paper brown I let it dry and then cut out the shape of the boats. The tops of the waves are coffee filters colored with blue and green markers that are then lightly spritzed (I used a garden hose nozzle on the mist setting) to make the colors bleed together like watercolors.

Tops of the Waves close up

The Octopuses are a repeat, you can find the original post here.

the Octopi upclose 2

For the tables we used cloth mermaid themed tablecloths (a repeat from her first birthday party, reuse and recycle) and had a light brunch menu with various salads and breads, including Goldfish for the kids and Mimosas for the mamas.

Party in action cropped

And of course, a cake!

The Cake from Above 2

We kept the party very intimate. My sister and her family, a few close family friends and their respective little ones. We asked guests that weren’t intent on bringing a gift to not feel obligated as she was going to get so many as it was. Like overwhelming crowds, tons of gifts can be too much for a little one, taking the fun out of birthday presents. And really, how many toys does one two year old need?

More than enough gifts

We were clearly not lacking in gifts, and with a manageable number we were able to let E open each one in her own time.

Present opening with mama

Her favorites: A Thomas The Train for toddlers, and anything to do with baby dolls. The various puzzles and Duplo blocks (including a block set that came in a John Deere Truck) were also at the top of her list.

I wasn’t completely sure I was making the right decision by having it be a small party with handmade decor, but by the time the party had begun I knew I had made the right decision. It was calm, fun for all, and E was excited on multiple occasions to point out her artwork. Proud mama I am. Best of all, E’s Dada was there to celebrate with us.

Family Pic on Beach

A family picture from the night before E’s party, at my extended family’s annual beach party. Yes, that’s my necklace she’s sporting, and no, she’s not donning a crop top!

Here’s to many more calm Happy Birthday Parties for E!

 

 

Let’s Call it What it Is: Mom Bullying

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Stressed Mom

Being a mom in any parenting situation is challenging enough. No mom, myself included, needs  any more stress in their lives. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with another mom who feels the need to “help you” by forcing their beliefs and views on you by making sure to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong as a mom, you are not alone. And no, it’s not OK.

These women use their preferred parenting practices as an excuse to bully other moms, looking for ways to start a never ending circular argument designed to do nothing more than cause drama. These aging versions of Mean Girls‘ Regina George are cleverly disguised as moms helping moms through constructive criticism. If any of these lovely descriptions sound familiar, follow your instincts and run. And if they sound like you, just stop and find a new outlet for your pent up aggression. 

The Attachment Nightmare 

You’re really into baby wearing. As far as you’re concerned it’s the best thing for your child’s emotional and physical well being.You wear your child on you for a majority of the day, and perhaps sleep with them too. So when you see a mom in the grocery store carrying her child in a torture device, otherwise known as a bucket car seat, you feel the need to share with them the damage they are doing to their child. God help the person you see wearing their child facing out in a standard Bjorn.

The Nipple Nazi

You want only what’s best for your child and children everywhere, so you breastfeed. Exclusively. And you plan on doing so until they ween themselves, whenever that may be. When you hear of another mom who is opting to formula feed from the start, you feel you must share with them all the possibly harmful ingredients in the formula and the vast benefits of breastfeeding, as well as the resources available so they too can exclusively breastfeed. You can do it, so clearly they have no excuse.

Women’s Studies 101  

Little girls who prefer dolls over trucks only do so because their parents force such toys on them. So you go out of your way to find androgynous toys for your child. Pink and blue are not for you. And plastic? Uh-uh. Wooden open ended toys are the only way. In fact you make sure to give such marvelous toys at each and every birthday party you attend, while also explaining the purpose of the gift, so as to show them the errors in their toy selections to date.

The Card Carrying Member of the Intelligentsia 

TV is wonderful. For those who can’t read. Your children never watch a bit of TV (but know each and every character in Frozen…hhhmmmm) and you can’t imagine introducing it into their daily lives. Studies show it should be used sparingly, at max for 30 minutes a day. So you share this with all of your fellow mom friends, and all the creative ways you’ve come with to avoid using the TV as a “babysitter” so they can start to cut down on the amount of TV their kids watch.

The Unqualified Nutritionist 

You buy only organic and clean foods for your family. So when one of your children goes to a playdate at a friend’s house and comes home excited over the awesomely delicious Ding Dong paired with a Sprite they had for a snack, you obviously must share with this other mom that your children don’t eat that way, why they don’t eat foods like that, and provide healthy alternatives to such snacks so they too can live the healthy lifestyle you do.

Yes, it’s more subtle than hateful comments and profanity spread all over Facebook, but it is no different than any other form of bullying. It’s the same mean, underhanded, nasty Girl-World bullying that happens throughout schools, only now it’s being done by adult moms, and even worse, under the pretenses of “helping” and “teaching”. Worst of all, this mom bullying is hurting other mothers, to the point of increasing rates of Postpartum Depression and its many forms, which can occur up to 4 years after childbirth. 

Your child won’t perish from a processed food treat, there are millions of healthy adults with no major issues who weren’t breastfed or worn by their mothers, and I bet you played with Barbies. Stop being a bully. And if you see another mom being a bully, call them out. I’ve got your back.

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Family, Young Cousins, and Life During Deployment for E

This past weekend was a fantastic one with my sister and her family on the Cape. 4 kids under 4, 4 adults and 2 dogs in one house, and all survived unscathed. The gorgeous weather may have helped!

Grammie loved having both her girls and all her grandkids home at the same time. E and her 3 year old cousin played so well together, screaming, laughing, jumping and engaging in general kid antics for the whole weekend. My sister’s infant twins weren’t left out of the fun, what with their playful big brother and E mothering them as much as possible.

My favorite picture from the weekend is this one, with all the kids and adults gathering and playing on the backyard lawn.

Everyone on the lawn

Although we had a lot of fun, the stress on E of having her Dada away on deployment was very apparent. E clung on to her Uncle this weekend, and asked for pictures of her Dada often. Having a Daddy around (even if it was her cousins’ and not hers!) meant a lot to her.

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

 

The pictures on the iPhone weren’t doing it, so I ended up cutting up a picture from our wedding that my mom had and giving it to her to sleep with. Clearly a Daddy Doll is needed, so one is on order. I honestly thought she’d get frustrated with a Daddy Doll, and not understand why min-Dada was there but not there, but obviously that isn’t the case as she loves her Dada picture.

I most definitely lost it crying a time or two when she called her Uncle “Dada” (her cousin was calling him that, so she was probably just following suit, but still). We slept together last night as she had a hard time going to bed on her own. I give lots of credit to those who co-sleep, as I got kicked in the legs and whopped in the face all night by a soundly sleeping tot. The goal was for her to sleep well, so it was a win all in all.

She was heartbroken when my sister and her family left, but luckily so worn out from all the playing and outdoor fun that she fell asleep well on her own.

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Here’s to hoping that that was just a blip (one of many I’m sure) and we’ll have smooth nights from here on out for a bit (Daddy Doll, please come quickly!)

I also ordered a set of oils from Young Living, many that are purported to have a calming effect. For this and future deployments, I hope they help! If nothing else the lemon oil is supposed to help to increase metabolism, and what with all the extra Summer treats, I could use that for myself.

-Me

 

 

 

 

Beachin’ It With A Tot: Trading the Sam Summer for Sippies

I want E to be a beach bum like her mama. We’re off to a good start. She loves everything about the beach, from playing in the waves to collecting rocks and shells and building sand castles (and promptly stomping on them). Late night bonfires are on the list, but we’ve got a few years yet.

Whether it’s the OBX at her MomMom and PopPop’s…

Janet, Dada and E walking into the surf

Dada and E

Or on the Cape at Grammie’s…

E and I standing WHHATT

sAnd Castle Building

Mommy Sunnies Fun

Miss E is a fan of the beach. Victory!!

The thing with beach time with a tot, is that it no longer has anything to do with you. Don’t bother bringing a chair for yourself, you won’t be sitting, or an adult beverage of choice, you won’t be relaxing. Instead, you’ll be running after a beach drunk little one, in and out of the surf, over sand bars and pebbles, searching for special rocks and building sand castles that they will stomp and destroy with gusto. And you and them will love every minute of it. (OK, not every minute. The packing and unpacking kinda blows.)

If you’re not beach bums like us, but are soon going to the beach (or have recently gone and been sorely unprepared) here’s what you’ll need for even the shortest Tot-Friendly Beach Trip:

  • Have 2 Swim Diapers and 2 Swimsuits Per Diaper Clad Kid, and Arrive in a Regular Diaper: Swim diapers DO NOT hold pee. They’re designed to hold the solid stuff, not the liquid. If you don’t want a pee soaked carseat or stroller, change at the beach! Plan for the worst and so pack for a blowout, one per kid. (Hence the extra suit and swim diaper)
  • Sandals, Not Flip Flops for Small Tikes: The sand at the beginning of the beach (read farthest from the water) can be hot hot hot! Flip flops allow lots of the hot stuff in and even the ones with back straps can fall off easily. Opt for some stay-put sandals and you’ll help avoid hurt feet and carrying them over the hot sand. Ones that can get wet are even better for beach walking over rocks and shells.
  • A Towel or Blanket for Changing and Towels for Drying Off: Have a changing towel or beach blanket, as well as towels for drying off post swim.
  • Some Source of Shade, Even for a Short Trip: A simple, cheap beach umbrella works just fine. If you’re planning on staying through naps, try a portable beach cabana, like L.L. Bean’s Sunbuster Shelter. It makes changing far easier (no sun in the eyes) and gives a nice place to hang out so you can extend your time there.
  • A Wet Bag: Typically these are used by the cloth diapering contingent, but they are also very useful for beach/pond/pool trips for used diapers, and wet towels and suits. Check out this one from Planet Wise
  • Wet Wipes, Or Other Hand Cleaning Wipes: Rotting fish? A dead crab? These things are like homing beacons for kids.
  • Floaties/Life-preservers, But NO Flotation Toys: Skip the tubes and rafts for little ones (and all together at the ocean) and save the boards until they can ride a wave on their own. Currents and winds can change in an instant!
  • Know the layout before you head out: And pack accordingly. If it’s a long walk to and from the car, or there are dunes involved, pack as light as possible, and, depending on the size of your family/group, opt for a beach friendly cart.
  • Water in a Cup That Closes: Sand gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE. A cup with a closable top, like a straw cup with a latch, is key to sand free drinking.
  • Favorite Snacks: The beach can be overwhelming. Sometimes a reset with a favorite snack is in order, and sometimes you just need some refueling after so much play! The beach is a great place for juicy peaches and watermelon. Rinse off in the surf and play on!
  • Sand Toys, and Enough to Share: There’s no doubt that your kids will pick up a friend or two at the beach. Make sure you have at least one extra shovel and bucket for impromptu tot beach parties!
  • Wine for After the Beach: Or your favorite beverage or treat of choice. It’s so awesome to see your kids loving the beach and playing their hearts out, but it is exhausting and the packing and unpacking can be taxing. Nows your chance to play!

Happy Beaching!!