Monday, March 21, 2016

Potty Training 101: My Tips for Success

I've recently been asked a lot about our potty training methods and while it was been wildly successful (especially since boys are said to be harder to train than girls), I can't take all the credit for it, but figured I'd take this time to do a post for any moms out there ready to tackle the task of potty training their toddler.

We chose to try Lora Jensen's Three Day Potty Training method. We waited a little longer than I would've preferred to, but it was merely because you need to have 3 (or more) days off to be spent exclusively at home. Kaiden was 29 months (and for the rest of us that hate speaking in months that equates to being just shy of 2.5 years old). The author suggests doing it at 22 months and now I know why.

Here's a few tips that I found to make the process {easier}, but I will readily say that the potty training process was worse than dealing with a teething baby.

1) Buy this book. It is amazing. I was extremely skeptical at first. Like REAL skeptical. But it worked. I'll talk a little bit about her methods, but highly recommend purchasing it yourself because she does a really great job of explaining the WHY behind her methods (plus I'm not trying to give away her secrets for free!).

2) Be prepared to be PATIENT. This might seem like a "No duh." But really. It's definitely the hardest part of the process. For Kaiden, I knew he KNEW what he was supposed to do because he was on the older side of what the author suggests, but he was just choosing to not do it at first. Which is completely normal, yet extremely frustrating. Another thing to note is they can sense your frustration. When you get frustrated with them, they will respond the same way and this is not what we want!

3) Be consistent. Again, this may seem like a no brainer, but I feel this is where parents generally lose the child's progress. With the three day method, consistency during those 3 days is SO CRUCIAL. Ideally, the same parent is with them the entire time throughout those 3 days (or as long as it takes) and you are doing the same routine every single day to ensure success. This was definitely one of the reasons I feel this method is so successful versus randomly putting your child on the toilet and assuming they will get it. They aren't going to get it for a long while if you're just sporadically placing them on the toilet and them trying to figure out what to do. Sure, this might work for some kids, but most are going to take months to figure out the correlation and have zero accidents.

4) Ditch the notion of them wearing diapers (or Pull-Ups) ever again. Nope, not even at night or when they're not getting it right away. No more diapers. I've had several people say to me, "Even at night??!!" Yes. Especially at night! A Pull-Up is a diaper with a different name. That's called marketing, folks. They've led us to believe that potty training cannot happen without Pull-Ups. They're wrong. It can happen and it will happen. To a child, a Pull-Up feels like a diaper. The only difference is the way it's put on, but otherwise it has the same texture as a diaper. DON'T USE THEM. Toddlers are capable of holding their bladder overnight when taught to do so. Jensen goes into detail about how and why this is possible, so I'd reference her book for those specific items. Yes, they are going to have some overnight accidents, but to me I'd rather wash a sheet than continue to buy diapers. They are a crutch for both toddler and parent.

5) Positive vibes & high fives. Remember that your little lady or little guy just spent the last couple years peeing &  pooping their pants. Accidents are gonna happen. In the 3 months that Kaiden has been out of diapers he has had a handful of accidents and there was specifically a few days in a row about 2 months into it where he was having back to back accidents for no apparent reason. When this happens don't let your frustration and negativity come out. Go RIGHT BACK to the methods Jensen talks about - stay positive, gently remind them where they need to go potty, reward them with praise when they do so and continue down that path until they seem to snap back to it. Give them grace when they are playing and forget to go (this will happen), when they don't make it there in time and specifically for little boys - until they figure out how to aim that thing!

Potty training is hard work and I still think it's worse than a teething baby. It took Kaiden the full 3 days to get it and we did an extra 4th day to make sure it had stuck. We didn't venture out of the house until day 5 or 6 (I've already forgotten at this point). Potty training in 3 days can happen (even though my in-laws swore to me it wouldn't work!). It can be successful and made a little bit easier with Jensen's three day method and actually sticking to what she says to do. I was a skeptic until I tried it for myself, but now I'm setting myself up to make our household completely diaper free by the end of summer 2016! 1 down, 1 to go.

What are your tips for potty training? Have you tried this method and it didn't work? Let me know in the comment section below!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Some new things.

First and foremost, I've changed my blog name! More details to come soon, but this is about a new business venture that will involve my blog and more fun things. Stay tuned!

It's finally starting to thaw out here in Michigan and realistically we had a warmer winter than normal and only recently got some actual snow (compared to last year where we had the highest amount of snowfall in the entire country). So I can't complain, but I am dying to have some warmer temps.

This is our first full year in our new home and having our own backyard for the boys to play in finally is so exciting! We've only had a few nice days so far, but the boys are bursting at the seams to get out there any chance they get. Even if it's still a little sloppy and wet.

We're starting to tackle some home improvement projects now that the weather is breaking. When we moved in last summer things were kind of crazy while dealing with adoption finalization and losing the baby, so nothing got accomplished before winter hit. I'm looking forward to sprucing up the place as the weather starts to get warmer.

Last weekend we installed the new ceiling fan we bought last summer. We needed a new one for the dining room and one for our bedroom. After tackling the dining room fan first, I'm confident we can get the bedroom fan done this weekend. We're also going to paint our mudroom a more appealing color (it reminds my husband too much of Spartan green haha) which will also hopefully happen this weekend!

The boys rooms also need some sprucing up, but we're not going to put too much into Cameron's room right now being that him and Kaiden will probably share a room eventually for a few years until they get a bit older (all in hopes of a future new baby someday). We have 4 bedrooms in our house which will allow them each their own room in time, however, one of the rooms is their toy room for now and I anticipate that being there for some time until we can transition it into the basement.

Guess I need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby for some inspiration!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My due date.

My due date is 2 days away. February 19.

2 days from now I would've been having a baby. Or who knows. The baby could've already been here by this point. Cameron came a week early because I demanded it, but I was determined this time to let it happen on it's own.

I never got an official due date from my doctor because unfortunately I didn't even make it that far, but going off my calculations February 19 was the day.

I thought I'd be really sad still. And I am. But not in the way I thought I'd be.

Other women who found out they were pregnant when I was have had their babies or are about to. That part hurts. Knowing they are meeting their angels and I don't know if I'll ever meet mine.

But on the other side of it I'm weirdly OKAY with it. And I say that with great caution. I'm finally okay with what has happened. I've garnered some peace over it in the recent months and had an "ah ha" moment a few weeks ago that finally showed me Jesus' truth and made me succumb to His plan and purpose.

A close friend of mine lost her baby at 7 weeks and she instantly reached out to me in her time of loss and grief. It was then that I realized my baby had a purpose. It's short life served a purpose for someone else. I was able to help her and guide her through the horrific time of miscarrying a baby and it was then that everything came full circle for me. My tragedy was able to give courage to another woman during her tragedy.

Life isn't always clean and tidy. Our lives are full of crappy moments and some that will in turn help someone else through a similar crappy moment later. And while I will never be happy that I had to endure the loss of my baby, I can sit now on the other side knowing that through my pain someone else was comforted by it and encouraged and was able to feel hopeful again. Sometimes it's hard to even put into words. Having the ability to share that particular type of grief with someone is insurmountable. And I can first hand attest to that after having several women reach out to me after my original post and share that they too had experienced this same loss. It was helpful in so many ways and lifted my spirits on days I didn't think it was possible to even speak.

One of the hardest things? When everyone else around you has forgotten your baby and that you should still be pregnant. Easily one of the most difficult things. To them, it's long been forgotten. They've moved on and haven't really thought twice about it. But you. You've thought about it. Every day more than likely. Remembered everyday that you should be X number of weeks pregnant or you should be having doctor visits every 2 weeks now or that your due date is approaching and should be introducing a new sibling to your children in the coming days. Those are all things I was looking forward to. I was so excited to see my oldest son truly get to experience becoming a big brother. He was too young when Cameron was born. He never got to experience wanting to hold his younger sibling or protect him (he does plenty of that now that he's older!). I was so looking forward to seeing their faces as they met their little brother or sister.

I've not forgotten all of those things. Not yet. I'm sure I will. They will eventually be distant dreams that fade into the background.

My heart is healing and honestly, I feel like I'm nearly fully healed (if you really can be?). My two little boys have been a huge part of that. I cherish every moment with them. Both of them are here with us by total accident. And for that, I feel extremely blessed. And because of that I hold them tighter and kiss them harder knowing they could've easily not been here, just like their sibling is not.

On the flip side of my grief is happiness. I don't cringe every time I see a new pregnancy announcement (with V-Day recently came a whole slew of them....). I'm finally excited for what our future holds and what that may look like for our family. It's not the plan we had a year ago, but God often finds humor in our plans anyway so we've given up on so called "plans". We now have a loose idea of what we want our future to look like, but we undoubtedly know that God has the ultimate say in what that will be.

I also now marvel that both Kaiden and Cameron will be able to share the same excitement and joy as they will be a little bit older, a little more mature when we introduce them to a new family member some day. And my dreams of having a huge family are still there, but we no longer have a timeline on that which finally feels A-OK.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Refocusing | 2016

New Year Resolutions. They aren't typically my thing. In years past, like most people, when I have made NYR I've never kept them. So instead of making "resolutions" I wanted to take a couple weeks into 2016 to really think about what I want to do this. What do I want out of 2016? What do I feel like are some attainable goals I can reach this year? What do those goals look like?

So here goes. My Focus Goals for 2016:

Compete // My first powerlifting meet

Spoiler alert: I've been training for this since November, so this is an "easy" one for 2016, but is still a REALLY big deal for me personally. I've wanted to compete in a powerlifting meet for a few years. Really ever since I got into powerlifting back in 2012. I love how you can watch your strength grow and grow the harder you train. It's one of the most empowering things, as a female especially, knowing that you are hella strong and can lift all the heavy things. I'm looking forward to testing my strength at a meet at the end of the month and doing it with my best friend who shares my love of heavy lifting. A huge personal goal will be accomplished on January 30.

Daily Devotion // Get into His word

This is a biggie for me. I have a super busy schedule with working full time, two toddlers, a husband, serving at church, training for a meet.... My typical day starts at 6am and is going full steam until 10 or 11pm. I haven't made reading my bible a priority over the last few months. And I need to. This needs to be a lifestyle change. Not just a 2016 goal. A lifetime habit needs to happen this year. It's so important to be invested in His word and to continue growing & learning from Him.

SAVE // Spend less, Save more

This is another biggie for my husband and I. We decided to "re-take" Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University which is being offered through my church. We kinda took the course about 4 years ago, but at the time my husband was working evenings still and wasn't able to attend the actual classes. So it solely relied on me to relay all the info I was learning to him and to be honest, I just couldn't do it the way Dave Ramsey does. I am admittedly horrible at saving money. I'm a spender. Or as Dave Ramsey refers to it, I am the "free spirit" of the relationship. Guilty as charged. And this year I truly plan on working on that. There are bigger, better things out there that we can accomplish and achieve if we put our money to work for God's purpose above our own.

The Boys // Unplugged quality time

I think most parents can agree with me when I say how easy it is to get distracted by our phones, laptops, tablets.... SO EASY. \The last thing I want my boys to remember from their childhood was that their mom was always staring off into her phone and not noticing the block tower they built or how fast they raced against each other. When I glance around at a restaurant and see every family staring at their phone instead of talking to each other -- it breaks my heart. I refuse to let that be our family. This year I'm making a very concerted effort to be present and OFF the phone. I'd say I do a fairly good job most days, but can definitely improve. My friends are used to hearing from me during the day with a blackout chunk from 5PM - 9PM where I go radio silent. I'm not ignoring you, just trying to be in the moment.

My Blog // Writing for the soul

I want to write in this blog a couple times a week - AT LEAST. This is my space to be ME. And document my life and my family's journey on this life. I want these pages to look back on one day, reminisce and remember where we started. And anyway, writing is good for the soul. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

So this week I really wanted to write a DIY "How to" on planning a Mickey or Toy Story themed birthday party ( we're finally on the other side of Dockery birthday season!), but some other things happened... or didn't happen this week that made me feel like I wanted to write about something else.

I started this blog to just talk about my life and capture some day-to-day things I do. And I wanted it to be a space I could just get out my feelings, frustrations and joys.

I still want to write about our boy's birthday parties because they really did turn out super great and blogs like those are the reason they turned out so great! (thanks Pinterest!) But today I just needed to get some things off my chest...

The past week has been a rough one. A really, really rough one. And when I say rough I could talk about how my husband got into an accident which totaled his car which meant we spent the latter half of the week figuring out logistics of having one car & finding a new one OR I could talk about how our one-year-old randomly started having an allergic reaction to something that we couldn't for the life of us figure out what was causing it.....

But none of those things affected me as much as the constant reminders daily that I am not pregnant and I continue to not be able to conceive after our loss. Now I say all of that knowing that it has only been 3 months since we lost our baby and we have only actively been "trying" for 1 month. I know that my body is still regulating itself in order to be able to get pregnant again. But knowing all of that does not make it any easier.

I'll admit that I have been lately overcome with selfishness and envy as I see announcement after announcement of other couple's announcing their pregnancies. I am thrilled for every single one of them. I really am. However, peering through the lens of a recent miscarriage... it is incredibly hard to not have bittersweet emotions toward it. I never, ever wanted to feel this way. I didn't ask for this to happen. I never anticipated I'd be the 1 in 4 women to experience this. But here I am. The one who now prays daily for peace, for healing, for God to lead me through this valley.

And that's just it. I finally came to terms with it. I am in a valley. A deep valley that I am desperately trying to escape. And it has only been through diligent prayer, many tears shed, reading my Bible daily & an insurmountable support from my close friends and family that I've come this far without having a total breakdown.

Hebrews 13:5 says "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you."

I have read this verse before and I've known those words were true, but a couple days ago they really hit me hard and I think that was when my healing truly began. When I listened to those words and soaked them in.

He has never forsaken me. He is here with me. He loves me through and through. I am His daughter. He sees my tears. He sees my pain. And I'm finally letting Him heal me.

I'm finally peering through this lens of loss with rose colored glasses and know that my God will never leave me even when I may feel like I'm sitting alone in my valley.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 

And I know that I am most assuredly not the only one of my social media friends who has experienced this type of loss. It hurts so deeply and I have a genuine soft spot for every single one of you. Truly my heart goes out to you, especially on this day where we can remember those babies we've lost.
My one sincere hope is that more women will feel comfortable to discuss it and be open about it when they're ready. It is nothing to be ashamed of and you have right to be sad and mourn over your loss as long as you need. And more importantly, I hope you can be a supporter and a light for someone else when they experience it too. Because it will happen and they'll need you in those dark moments.

It's been three whole months and I still cry about it. There is no time limit on your grief. My one piece of advice is to pray diligently that He will help heal you. Because I am here today to say I couldn't be doing this without Him.

"So lay down your burdens. Lay down your shame. All who are broken, lift up your face. Oh wanderer come home. You're not too far. So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart. Come as you are."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I can't be the chronically tired mom.

It's funny to me that the stigma of being a parent directly means that you have zero time, you have zero energy and you are completely enthralled with your children 100% of the time, day or night.

Am I the only mom out there who doesn't feel like this?

I think the best answer I've come to is that we all adapt to motherhood differently. My experience was different than most. I got a crash course on how to be a mom and was kicked into it full throttle with little to no preparation. However, after now getting two babies past the one year mark (just a week shy of our baby boy's first birthday *queue the tears*) I sit back and think about the really hard moments, the really exhausted moments and the really awesome moments. The good far outweigh the bad.

Since having our youngest son just under a year ago, he has put us through the ringer on several things we didn't experience with our first son. We've been through a lot "first time parenting" woes all over again while experiencing them with our second son because like they all say, every baby is different. Except even through the nights where he woke up multiple times a night (only as of the last 2 months has he gotten down to ONE wake up a night...) I still have managed to be me.

I keep thinking about why some mom's struggle with this. Why does motherhood cause us to feel like we've lost ourselves? Why does it seem like moms tend to quit doing everything they were doing pre-baby because they don't have the time or energy?

Maybe I drink too much coffee, but most days I feel okay. Or perhaps I've just accepted the constant state of exhaustion and have learned to function on it.

Part of me feels like once women have babies it's their reason to not have to put forth the effort anymore. That sounds harsh, but bear with me.

I am a better mom because I still make the effort to do things that make me who I am. I still fix my hair and wear makeup. Partially because I'm a working mom but even on the weekends I still do that. Why? Because it makes ME feel better and like I can conquer the day. You won't see me going on and on about how I live in yoga pants just because I'm a mom....

But that is what makes ME feel better.

I am a better mom because I make the time to exercise and eat good. When I feel better about myself I am more apt to do better with my kids and for my kids. When I workout I am not only working towards a healthier me, but I'm also doing something that makes me happy!

I am a better mom because I take time to write in this blog, to go to Bible studies with fellow church ladies, to lead worship at our church.

I am better for it because I've never felt like I lost myself in motherhood. I am still grounded in my favorite things and can feel more attentive to my children because I am not consistently feeling like I'm missing out on something that I used to do. I'm never left thinking about all the things I used to do, but now I can't.

I should've prefaced this with: I am not a superwoman. The only reason I can do all these things is because I WANT to do all these things. I want to work and exercise and write and read. Maybe your things are different. But I also really, really WANT to be a good mom. And I know that's something that we ALL can relate to no matter what puts us in our happy place. Being a good mother doesn't mean you have to devote every second of every day to your children. What are they getting out of you if you're constantly feeling sluggish, unmotivated, tired, resentful and even feeling smothered by them sometimes?

Take time to get back to who you are as a person, as a woman, as yourself. If that means you have to get up a little earlier, then do that. You might think nope I need those few extra minutes of precious sleep. Then you need to evaluate what's more important to you. Getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep - OR - making the most of your day and getting in a little extra "me" time ? Go for a run. Put the kids to bed a little earlier so you can catch up on your favorite Netflix shows or drink an uninterrupted glass of wine. Whatever your "thing" is that makes you YOU - make the time for it. Your kids will appreciate you for it.

Motherhood doesn't have to leave you with zero in the tank at the end of the day. It should leave you full of happiness, tired, but happy to get to another day of being the mom and the woman you want to be.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Gender Reveal.

I called today to cancel our ultrasound appointment. This Saturday we were going to be finding out if Baby D #3 was boy or a girl. I would've been 15 weeks along. Instead I'm 5 weeks postpartum... if that even counts still. I'm not sure.

To be honest, I nearly forgot to cancel it. I knew it was coming up in August, but either kept forgetting or thinking I still had some time to cancel. Then it showed up on my Google calendar this week as I was planning out the weekend. And I realized I had forgotten and it snuck up on me so fast.

5 weeks ago I was still pregnant. That's weird for me to even say. It was such a short time that I got to be pregnant that I almost forget that it even happened sometimes. And then as life does, weird things will happen or pop up that reminds me that I had a baby on the way and now I don't.

I think I was more anxious this time to find out the gender because I was so hoping for a little girl, plus this would be our last baby so I was even more eager to find out. And I was dead set against having a gender reveal this time around because I knew if it was a boy I'd be a little disappointed at first and would need some time for it to settle in that I'd have THREE boys to raise.

It was somewhere around 6 weeks that I had made our appointment for the ultrasound at a place that does them simply for gender reveals and 3D/4D images of the baby. And for a quick second I thought, "I'm really jumping the gun here because what if something happens before then?" And I quickly erased that thought and went immediately to "that won't happen to us"...

And here I sit 5 weeks after I lost our baby thinking how naive I was to even think for one second that it COULDN'T happen to us.

All in all - we're doing okay. We have moments where it hurts. But overall God has placed a certain peace over me (I won't speak for my husband) and has healed my heart as best as it can heal for now.

I'd say we're some of the "lucky" ones if you will... the ones who already have children and then suffer a loss. Because if nothing else, if I'm not ever able to have another baby, I have not one, but two happy, healthy children - one through adoption and one through a pregnancy - that I am so thankful to have.

As I sat in my grief wondering and praying for days after our loss... my thoughts slowly got a lot less depressive and a lot more grateful. How lucky am I that I was able to foster a child into adoption AND accidentally get pregnant and give birth all within a year? I am truly blessed. There are so many women who I know and who I don't know who have either never been able to get pregnant or who have gotten pregnant and lost their baby(s). And on the other side have fostered children in hopes of adoption to only get them ripped away and their hearts shattered into a million pieces.

While I'm still emotionally wrecked about the baby we lost - and I'm really not sure I'll ever NOT be sad about it - I am above all extremely grateful for what God has blessed us with. I am fortunate to be an adoptive mom and a birth mom. A mom to two boys. A mom who gets to snuggle little bodies at night and a mom who gets to sing silly songs to them.

So many women don't get that opportunity. And I don't for one second want to take that for granted. I know that our two boys cannot replace the one that we lost, but I do know that they make me just that much more grateful that they're here alive and well in my arms.

My best friend got this for me when I was about 6 weeks along in anticipation of our third little baby bird to arrive. She was one of two people who knew we were expecting only because she had guessed (she has sick sixth sense I guess....)! I found this in my car last night when I was cleaning it out and just seeing those three little eggs hurt a little, but made my heart swell with love and satisfaction. Perhaps we're meant to be a family of four instead of a family of five here on Earth. But at the end of the day I know that we have three little baby birds, two are with us and one has left us. We'll see you again one day my sweet angel.