Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jack & Molly: 2-month Photo Comparison

For fun, here are a few pictures for comparison's sake:

Photo taken 2 days after her 2 month birthday anniversary

Taken on Jack's 2 month birthday anniversary, as best I can remember :)

Molly is 8 weeks here.

Jack is 7 weeks.  Look at how much skinnier he is!

His legs were covered in the other photo... look at his tiny little bird legs compared to Molly's!  Not that his little bird legs weren't adorable, but I was pretty excited when Molly came right out of the womb with pinchable baby rolls :)

And snuggled in the wrap.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Molly - 2 months old

Molly turned 2-months-old on Saturday.  She's growing and changing every day.  Everything just seems to happen so quickly right now!

I think she's going to be our little social butterfly because her favorite thing to do already is "talk" with you.  Any time someone turns their attention to her she just lights up with a big smile and will gurgle and coo at you like you're having a conversation.  She loves when we talk to her and give her the chance to "talk" back.

She's likes laying on her play mat.  It's still early for her to really grab/hit any of the toys, but she just likes to look at new things!

She loves being in new spaces.  Recently we started getting out for play dates, which gives Molly the opportunity to ride along in a wrap.  She spends half the time sleeping and half the time just quietly looking around and observing what's going on.  In the evenings I bring her into the kitchen with me while I'm making dinner and she loves just sitting in her Rock N Play, looking around the kitchen and watching me while I work.  I hope the "newness" of the kitchen never wears off because her contentedness is really helpful when I need to get things done in there!

Overall, she's still a very content baby.  She hit her 8 week Wonder Week right on time (she hit it at 7 weeks versus 8, you have to account for gestational age at birth and she was a 41-weeker) and we went through a few days where she wanted to be held more and was fussier than usual (which is really to say she was fussy when she typically isn't), but we got off very easy and it passed quickly!

Smile brought to you by the Moby wrap.  This was in the midst of her 8th week fussiness.

Molly is starting to be awake for longer stretches, but she still sleeps a lot of the time.  She definitely doesn't have a schedule yet.  She's still in sleep and eat whenever mode, but I do see somewhat of a pattern emerging.  She's on a roughly every 2-3 hour schedule during the day.  She's still sleeping in her Rock N Play wherever I am, which usually means she's just kind of hanging out in the family room during the day, and in our room at night, obviously.

This is what I get to wake up next to in the morning :)

She tends to fall asleep for the night around 9pm.  Sometimes it's closer to 8pm, and sometimes closer to 10pm.  We don't have a bedtime routine at this point, she pretty much just conks out when she feels like it so depending on when she had her last diaper change and feeding before she fell asleep we will sometimes wake her to change her diaper and offer a bottle when we go to bed around 11pm.  We're trying to get a better handle on her desired sleep schedule though and time things to where she falls asleep with a clean diaper and full tummy so we don't have to wake her.  Plus, if we do wake her for a late diaper change she is only sometimes interested in eating at that time because she's so sleepy. 

She used to wake around 2am (if she didn't eat around the time we went to bed) and then again around 6am for overnight feedings.  Lately though she's been waking only once around 5am.  All very respectable stretches of sleep!  She tends to wake for the day around 8am, sometimes closer to 9am.

8 weeks old in a snap converted Clementine bumGenius 3.0

Currently Molly is eating around 4oz of formula at every feeding.  Sometimes it's more like 3oz and lately she's been taking more like 5oz, especially if she's had a longer stretch since her last meal.

The other thing that's nice is she tends to take a decent nap around 1-2pm, which overlaps with Jack's "naptime" (which is typically "quiet time" nowadays) which means I get a little bit of a break!  Often the nap will be in her RnP, but sometimes it's on me.  Either way, it's a nice treat!  It doesn't happen every day though.

Tummy time!  Working on those neck muscles.

I'm totally impressed by how quickly she has gained control of her head.  It seems like so very recently she was a total bobble head, now she can hold her head nice and steady and easily turn towards things she wants to look at.  Sometimes she still has the bobble head effect, but more often she has great control.  It's odd to see her hold her head so effectively and definitely makes her seem a lot older than she was just a couple weeks ago!

Also, her eyes keep getting bluer and bluer!  When Jack was first born his eyes were very blue and never really changed much.  When Molly was born her eyes were much darker and muddier and I was certain she was going to be our brown-eyed baby, but nope!  It seems she's going to be blue-eyed as well as her eyes just keep getting lighter.

Big brother Jack wanted to get in on the photo fun!

She certainly has grown.  It's strange to think that she was still in my tummy just a few weeks ago.  Her 2 month appointment isn't until next week so I'm not sure if her official weight and height measurements, but I'm interested to find out!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 24th

We got a ridiculous amount of snow dumped on us overnight considering it's the last week of March.  Definitely not the Snowmagedden that was hyped though.  The good news is it's warm enough that it's probably not going to stick around for long and the roads don't seem to be too bad.  With that said, I'm OVER it!  I'm so ready for Spring weather!  Please, warm weather, come visit us soon! 

Sunday:  Tortellini Minestrone with Garlic Butter Breadsticks

Monday:  Cheddar-Stuffed BBQ Mini-Meatloaves with Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday:  Chicken Yakisoba

Wednesday:  Homemade Spaghetti O's with Salad - carried over from last week because we ended up having leftovers one night

Thursday:  Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie with Chips and Salsa

Friday:  Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (Crock Pot) with Ranch Potato Wedges

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

We didn't start cloth diapering Jack until he was 7 weeks old and at that point he was big enough to go straight into one-size diapers (which, contrary to their name are not really one-size-fits-all.  Some kids will outgrow them before they potty train and they also don't fit the majority of newborns).

With Molly we debated what to do about diapering.  Should we purchase newborn cloth or just diaper her with disposables until she fit into the one-size diapers we already have?  There are pros and cons to each approach, but after weighing our options we ultimately decided to move forward with cloth diapering from the start.

I knew that I wanted to keep things basic and simple.  I didn't want to spend a ton of money considering how quickly she would outgrow these diapers.  I certainly look at cloth as an investment, but there's a difference between spending $15 per diaper when you'll use it for 3+ years and spending $15 per diaper and using it for 2 months.

With that said, if you're looking to resell newborn cloth once you've finished using them you can usually recoup quite a bit of your investment.  Due to the short duration of use they should be in excellent resale condition!  The flipside of this same coin is if you're looking to purchase used to save some money you typically aren't getting much of a discount unless you find some well loved newborn cloth, but there are still benefits to buying used like natural fibers have already been prepped, saving you time, energy, and water, and you will get at least a small discount off of the full price of buying brand new.

After considering quite a few options we eventually settled on newborn Cloth-eez Workhorse Diapers (with snaps) from Green Mountain Diapers with XS Thirsties Covers.  I was able to purchase both on sale and spent $78.95 (shipped) for 24 diapers and $30.37 (shipped) for 4 covers.  With this number of diapers and covers I am easily able to wash every other day.

Overall I've liked this combo.  They're easy to clean and easy to use.  Maybe not quite as easy as an all-in-one or pocket diaper, but not difficult either.  It's nice that the diapers have snaps on them so that you don't have to worry about using pins or a Snappi.  We never had trouble getting a good fit with the snaps, although obviously the closure-less version will provide a more custom fit.  These are not stay-dry diapers (you could certainly use some sort of stay-dry liner if your baby is bothered, but obviously that's another piece to deal with), but Molly did not seem bothered by that in the least.

7 weeks old in a newborn GMD Workhorse

The covers fit well and hold things in well.  I like the design of the covers with the flap at the front because it allowed us to easily add a doubler for overnight.  Molly did outgrow the absorbency of these diapers pretty quickly (which is typical with newborn diapers.  You do compromise some in absorbency to allow for less bulk), but it's not that big of a deal during the day when we can change her every two hours.  A couple weeks ago we did start adding a micro-fiber doubler (just the doubler that came with our bumGenius pocket diapers) between the diaper and cover to add some absorbency at night and that has worked out just fine.

And with an XS Thirsties cover over top

The one caveat I have is that we were not able to use these diapers before Molly's umbilical cord fell off and her belly button was fully healed.  GMD shows pictures of babies wearing these diapers and their belly button is above the rise of the diapers, but that was not the case for us.  They still hit her belly button and she's now 8 weeks old.  When she was brand new they went well over the belly button.  Same with the covers.  The XS size Thirsties covers have a dip in the front that is supposed to allow for use with the umbilical cord intact, but, like the diapers, they covered her belly button completely.  There's no way these diapers would have fit her properly before her belly button healed (in fact, we tried them on, but they were huge.  Like, down to her knees huge since we couldn't hike them up over her belly button!  And she was a good-sized baby measuring 8lbs 11oz and 21 inches at birth.), but I'm sure it does for some babies since they're all built differently.  Even had I known this I don't think I would have chosen another diaper (there are some options that probably would have fit her better before her cord fell off and therefore we could have used them sooner and theoretically for longer) because of the affordability of these and the fact that we are still able to use them at 8 weeks.

Okay, I lied about having a single caveat.  Another negative we experienced was with drying time.  If I dried a load of diapers as I typically would (medium heat, sensor dry setting) everything would be dry at the end of the cycle except for the pre-fitteds.  This was extremely surprising as these were drying alongside large hemp and microfiber inserts, both of which seem like they would take longer to dry, but no, these were the ones that would remain wet, but only around the gathered, elasticized legs and back.  So each for each load, I would have to wait for the drying cycle to end, pull out anything with PUL (only because I like to limit heat exposure to PUL when I can), and then dry for an additional 20 minutes on regular/high heat in order to get the diapers thoroughly dry.  It was kind of annoying, but not a deal breaker.  I'm glad I only had to do it for a short time though because it got old fast!

With that said, yes we're still using them.  They fit perfectly fine size-wise, but like I mentioned she is rapidly outgrowing the absorbency.  She can't go longer than 2 hours during the day without a change or she will leak out of the diaper.  This isn't a big deal, but obviously it's only going to get worse and quickly!

Overall, I'm glad that we did decide to go with the newborn cloth.  I feel like we got enough usage out of them to justify the cost (plus, I will resell them at some point and recoup quite a bit of my investment).  For the time that we were using disposables (which ended up being maybe 3 weeks total because we had to wait for her umbilical cord to fall off, which it did the day before she hit 2 weeks, and then we had some trouble with her belly button healing up so we had to leave her in disposables so that it was exposed to the air) we were quickly reminded of why we cloth diaper in the first place.  They're expensive, we went through them so quickly and had to worry about buying more, the trash piled up quickly, we had at least one poo-splosion, and they smell funny when they're wet because of the chemicals :/

Right now, I'm working on readying our bumGenius pocket diapers for Molly, but 3 years of use with them currently being worn by a 35lb toddler has really done a number on them!  Both aplix and elastics (all 3) are completely shot.  I have completed my snap conversion project (finally, yay!) and I've started working on replacing the elastics, but this process is slow going (and really not fun)!  I currently have 12/23 diapers completed so she has been wearing them some.  We make sure to put her in the bumGenius for overnight (with the one-size micro-fiber insert.  This allows for plenty of absorbency) and then we have some for use during the day as well.  Just have to (find the time) and keep on trucking.

I'll be SO happy once I'm done refreshing these diapers!  They're very well loved so hopefully they'll last a while before falling apart completely!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Molly's First Play Date

Celebrating the first day of Spring with ice cream and play time with friends!  Jack had "banilla" ice cream per his request.

When Jack was about 4 months old we joined a play group.  We've been a member of that group for nearly 3 years now and joining the group ranks up there as one of the best decisions I've made as a parent to date.  Being a member of our play group has allowed us to make great friends, explore new places, and above all else encourages homebody me to get out of the house!  This is key to maintaining sanity as a stay-at-home-mom.  If not for our play group I'm certain that I would spend far more days than I already do holed up in the house wearing yoga pants and one of my husband's old t-shirts.  It's beneficial to everyone! 

All of this is important because although I very much enjoyed getting out with Jack to see friends and play, I didn't know how all of this would work with Molly in toe.  Basically, it boils down to the fact that I was incredibly nervous about adding another baby to the mix.  Before Molly's arrival I anticipated the worst and saw our lives being completely derailed and me not having the ability to juggle more than one child.  The good news is fearing the worst has made for a much, MUCH better transition to having two kids than I ever anticipated.

Quietly taking it all in.

Today was our very first play date with Molly in attendance.  Jack and I have been to a few play dates since Molly's arrival, but with Mark home I was able to leave her with daddy while Jack and I got out of the house for a bit.  It was nice for us to get out like we used to and I know that Jack enjoyed doing something with just me like we did before Molly joined our family.  But now, with Mark back to work, the luxury of having daddy home during the day to watch which ever child whenever was necessary is no longer possible.  So today we attended a play date with Molly along for the ride and I'm happy to report I consider it a success. 

We all made it to the play date on time.  Jack was able to run around with his friends, enjoying himself and expelling some energy.  I was able to socialize with friends.  Molly happily napped in the wrap the majority of the time, but also contentedly took in some sights from the security of her perch on my chest.  Jack and Molly both ate lunch.  One had PB&J and grapes, the other a bottle.  I'll let you decide which ;)  Jack and I both enjoyed some ice cream and then we all made it back home, in one piece, with all of our belongings, and I was able to get Jack down for some rest time before Molly needed my attention.  Winning all around! 

Tuckered out from all the socializing and meeting new friends.

Now, it did take me a very full 45 minutes to get us all ready and out the door with my new larger-to-accommodate-multiple-children diaper bag fully packed and I was tired by 10.30am when we arrived at our play date, but hey, we got out of the house, we enjoyed ourselves and I broke the seal on this whole getting out with two children by myself thing so I'll give myself a big ol' pat on the back for this success! 

I might just be able to successfully handle this whole momma to two thing after all.  Good thing since there's no going back now!  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We Survived.

Yesterday was my first day flying solo as a momma of two. 

I have been apprehensive about this day since... well, since before I become pregnant with Molly to tell you the truth.  Some days, okay, a lot of days, I felt stretched to maximum capacity just caring for Jack and the thought of adding another tiny human to the mix, a very needy tiny human at that, was more than enough to strike fear in my heart!  I just didn't know how I was going to do everything and still be standing at the end of the day, but you know what?  We survived. 

Not only did we survive, but I'd like to think we did pretty darn well on our first day alone.  Did I get any time to myself until after the kids were in bed for the night?  No.  Not unless you count a short span of time in the late afternoon while Jack was being entertained by Thomas the Train and Molly was sleeping on my chest while I planned next month's playgroup calendar one-handed, which, for the record, I do not.  And by the time the kids were in bed for the night I was  And sore.  Apparently my body is out of practice for lifting a 35lb toddler all day long :/  We went to bed an hour early last night and I was asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

Kids were cared for, fed, and diapered {side note: having two in diapers?  I feel like all I did yesterday was change diapers.  Not only is Molly rapidly outgrowing the absorbency of her newborn diapers (more on newborn cloth diapering later!) requiring more frequent than usual changes, but after the Great Potty Training Debacle of 2013 we've been encouraging Jack to tell us any time he wets or dirties his diaper in hopes of him becoming more comfortable with acknowledging what his body is doing.  He's doing really well with it, but it seems to result in more frequent (and prompt) diaper changes.}.  Dishes were done.  Clutter was tackled.  Beds were made.  Dusting and vacuuming happened.  Friends came to play (and brought us lunch!), which was a wonderful help with entertaining Jack and breaking up our first day!  And in a moment of pure annoyance with looking at the toys that have taken over my family room I decided enough was enough and straightened all the toys and found homes for new things that have come into the house recently.  There's still a train table in the middle of our family room, but it's much better!  Dinner was made and Jack even helped me make some breadsticks with dinner.  If making fresh bread to go with dinner on my first day alone with two crazies kids isn't success, I don't know what is! 

On to day two!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 17th

This week brings changes.  The first day of Spring is in just a few days and I'm very much looking forward to it.  Not that you would really know it by the weather outside.  Up until recently I was just trucking along, accepting the end of winter ickies, because, hey, what do I know?  Nothing but icky weather for the last several months!  This was until a local weatherman so nicely pointed out how nice and warm it was this time last year and now I'm annoyed and feel cheated!  I'm ready for spring to really be here and bring some warmer, nicer weather!  No more snow! 

Also, today is Mark's first day of work at a new job.  While I am SUPER excited for him and I know he is so happy about returning to work I sure will miss having him around!  Having two parents home certainly makes things easier and I've gotten quite spoiled.  It was kind of like living in eternal weekend for a while, and it certainly came at a good time.  Molly will be 8 weeks old this week so it's almost as if I got maternity leave from my job as a stay-at-home-mom :)  Anyway, back to the grind.  It'll be nice getting back to our old routine.  Or... our new routine, I guess, considering I have two kids to care for now!  We'll find our way, I'm sure. 

Send Mark lots of good first day vibes! 

Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner.  Mark cooked his specialty - breakfast sandwiches

Monday:  Zuppa Toscana

Tuesday:  Kielbasa, Potato, and Cabbage Skillet

Wednesday:  Homemade Spaghetti O's with Salad

Thursday:  Smothered Beef and Been Burritos

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 10th

Time to get back on the meal planning bandwagon.  The last several weeks I have actually been meal planning, but it's been pretty flexible because we've been trying to find our new rhythm (not that we've actually found it, but I suppose things are settling down a little :) ) so we've been stretching leftovers, eating some from the freezer, we've had friends bring us meals, which was really nice, and yes, there have been take out nights too!  Now it's time to get back to meal planning and really stick to it!

This weekend we were graced with some beautiful weather.  Sunday was definitely the nicest day we've had in a very long time and when you get to experience a nice day after the long months of winter it just makes it that much more awesome!  Saturday we headed to the park and Sunday we enjoyed some outside time as well as open windows welcoming some fresh air into the house!

Too bad we're back to end of winter weather the rest of the week, but this weekend brought the promise of spring.  It will be here soon! 

Sunday:  Grilling weather while it's still winter?  Yes, please!  Chipotle-Inspired Chicken Burritos

Monday:  Bourbon Chicken with Brown Rice and Broccoli

Tuesday:  Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Wednesday:  Sweet Potato Chili (Crock Pot) with Cornbread

Thursday:  Salisbury Steaks with Mushroom Gravy with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Over it

That's it.  We're throwing in the towel on potty training! 

It's taken 6 full days of full, daytime potty training for us to realize that this just isn't going to work out right now.  I approached potty training all along with the mindset that just like everything else it was developmental and not something that we could force.  I planned to take a very hands-off approach and let Jack dictate when he was ready.  Maybe that's not the approach that everyone believes is correct, but it felt right for us. 

Recently, I really did think that perhaps he was ready.  It wasn't 100% clear to me, but there were signs so I thought it was a possibility.  OF COURSE we're ready for him to be done with diapers and somehow, my thinking quickly evolved from 'maybe we'll take this whole thing for a test drive to see how he does and maybe he's actually ready and it'll happen', to 'I'm ready so it has to happen now'!  Other parents are seemingly able to make their kids use the potty, so why can't we? 

Well, let me tell you, this is not something which can be forced.  Or at least not with all kids.  Not with my kid.  Maybe some kids respond better to their parents attempts, or maybe they're ready in their own way when the attempt is made, but I can tell you that it's definitely not something that can be forced with my kid.  I wish I would have just heeded my own instincts (what is the one piece of advice I always give new parents?  Listen to your instincts!  This approach has served me so well over the last 3 years, I don't know why I chose to ignore it now!) and given up on this situation days ago. 

And I know why I didn't listen to my instincts.  It's a combination of me wanting it to happen, not wanting to admit that everything we've been dealing with for the last 6 days has been for naught, him being SO close and knowing that one of these times it's just going to "click", and that outside pressure that I mentioned before.  This somehow equated to my thinking diverging from 'it'll happen when it happens' to 'it's my job to make it happen and if I can't make it happen I'm not doing my job'! 

But thank goodness, we only wasted 6 days putting us all through unnecessary stress before realizing that this is just like anything else.  It can't be rushed and Jack has to be on board.  We didn't spend days or weeks intensively teaching him to walk.  He had to work that out on his own.  We didn't spend days or weeks trying to force him to talk.  He had to work that out on his own.  We actually did try pretty hard to teach him how to eat as he was on the later side with that, but you know what?  Still something that had to evolve and he had to work out on his own! 

The only thing we could do in those situations was to support him through the process and provide him with the opportunity to do it and you know what?  Despite any worry that went towards those milestones and others, it all worked itself out.  I'm realizing the same is true for potty training.  It's not something you can *make* them do and while you know that on an intellectual level it doesn't stop you from madly googling all sorts of potty training topics for day and days trying to figure out how to do just that, make it happen!  You can't!  And that is why there are so many "right" ways to do this and so many conflicting opinions.  It all goes back to every child is different and every child is going to be ready for it at a different time. 

With the dawning of this realization, or really a return to my original thinking, which ever way you want to look at it, we're finally going to stop the torture!  Not one of us have enjoyed these past 6 days and there have been tears from both Jack and I. 

Our situation is not a power struggle.  It's not because he doesn't want to do it, or is choosing not to, it's because he *can't*.  As I said before, he has the control piece and he has the understanding of the general process.  He very much does not want to have accidents in his pants, but something is stopping him from being able to release into the potty.  This translates into him holding his pee for unnaturally long times and getting extremely anxious and frustrated when he gets to the point where he just CAN'T hold it any longer.  It is incredibly difficult to watch him go through this process.  And we're to the point where I'm genuinely concerned about potential negative impacts - both mental and physical. 

Something just isn't there yet, and I came to this realization after spending the vast majority of 3 hours earlier today trying to get him to pee in the potty.  I started making him sit on the potty (which he will do as long as we don't give him an option and keep him entertained while he is there) as soon as I could tell he needed to pee, but hours (with intermittent, but short breaks) spent entertaining him on the potty (which is incredibly taxing.  Trying to stay upbeat and positive and use all my creativity to keep him relaxed and sitting there isn't as easy as it may sound) he still hadn't peed.  It *finally* happened when he got to the point that he couldn't hold still because he had to go so badly and was visibly upset.  I again forced him to sit on the potty and amidst tears his bladder finally released while he happened to be on the potty. 

He earned the damn Hot Wheels car that we've been trying to bribe him with for days and he accepted my excitement, but I could tell.  I could just tell that it wasn't something that he did.  It was an involuntary action that I timed well. 

We've been continuing this potty training pursuit hoping that if we somehow managed to get him to pee in the potty a few times he would become more comfortable with it, but getting to that point is nearly impossible.  This wasn't something he was comfortable with or something that he wanted to repeat and that wasn't going to change regardless of the reward we presented him with or how excited I was or how many times we did this.  It's brutally difficult watching Jack struggle with this when I know he would do it if he could and I'm tired of putting that pressure on him and unwilling to continue it any further.  I only wish I had come to this realization a few days ago and saved us all some frustration and stress. 

So for now we'll put him back in diapers full time.  This is just not important enough to justify what we're going through to try to achieve it. We'll try again, but I can tell you that next time we try we won't be spending 6 days forcing the issue with no improvement.  I'm not sure if we'll wait a while and put him back in underwear to see what happens, or if we'll try to wait for some sign from him that he's ready (hopefully!).  I hope he's ready soon, I just wish we knew what kind of timeline we're facing so we could all just sit back and relax and wait!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Potty Training

I've discovered the tenth circle of Hell.  It's potty training a three-year-old.  I'm not sure what we as parents have done to deserve this purgatory, but we're here.

I posted several months back contemplating the topic of potty training.  Leading up to that I had already spent so much brain power just trying to figure out where/what/when/how to address potty training and since then we have intensively been working on introducing the topic.  Well, as intensively as you can without totally forcing the issue.

We have watched videos and shows, read countless books (over and over again, Jack actually really enjoys potty books), picked out big boy underwear, talked about the big boy underwear, talked about the potty, let Jack shadow us while using the potty, talked about all the people we know (real and imaginary, and in fact, not completely people, like Thomas the train and Daniel Tiger) who use the potty. 

I have come to discover that it's no wonder I'm so confused about potty training despite feeling fairly educated on the topic because you've got "experts" on one side saying if you're kid isn't potty trained by 18-months you're lazy more than anything and that waiting until the child is ready is a bunch of made up modern day parenting hooey.  There are "experts" on the other side who say don't even try to potty train before the kid is really ready even if this commonly means the child will be somewhere between 3- and 4-years-old for fear of creating long term physical and mental problems by forcing the issue before its time.

All of this conflicting "expert" advice has left my head spinning and me feeling like we've pretty much ruined the poor child before we've even started the process.  Helpful.

Added to that, I've started to feel this outside pressure.  Not pressure in the sense that other kids around his age are potty training so he has to too, because I recognize that every child is different, but pressure in the sense that what if now is the time and I miss the sweet spot?  What if we've pushed it this long and pushing it even longer will only make it increasingly harder?  Also, there's some sense there (likely mostly imagined) that I'm not doing a good enough job as a mother if I can't get my child potty trained by a "reasonable" time.  Or at least TRIED it.  I feel like my hands-off approach was starting to make me look lazy, or disinterested, or even neurotic, which certainly is not the case.

It's hard when you don't know the best way to approach something as important as this because all I want is to make this learning process as easy as possible on everyone involved.  If that means doing it now, I'll do it.  If it means waiting, I'll wait.  If it means cleaning up accidents for weeks to yield the best results I'll do that too!  Whatever, I just want my kid successfully potty trained without any physical or mental damage and as a bonus it sure would be nice if my sanity was also intact by the end of it all.

Right around the time of Molly's arrival (of course!) Jack started showing some signs of potty training readiness.  I had always wanted to "wait until he was ready" (whatever that means), but was at the same time afraid of "missing the window" (whatever that means).

So once things settled down a little bit (and Mark was still blessedly home to help with the process) we decided that we would just put Jack in underwear and see what happened.  We figured it would be apparent pretty quickly if he was ready for this whole thing.

Over the weekend we talked to Jack about how on Monday he was going to start using the big boy potty.  We had picked out a potty seat long ago, but he hadn't wanted to touch the thing with a 10-foot pole.  He had, however, voluntarily sat on it recently, which was part of the readiness signs.  We told him he was going to get to wear his fun big boy underwear (which we've also had for a while, but he hasn't wanted to wear) and it was going to be so much fun!  Surprisingly, the times we brought it up he seemed unusually interested so I thought, hey, maybe we're on to something.  Maybe he really IS ready and this is going to be great!

Motivation in hand, when Jack woke up Monday morning we promptly removed his night time diaper and put on his big boy underwear explaining to him that he needed to use the potty, otherwise his pants were going to get wet and we went on our way.

A little while later he inevitably had an accident.  He wasn't upset to the point of crying or anything, but he wasn't happy that his pants were wet.  That's fine, we said, it was just an accident.  Next time you'll put your pee pee in the potty and your pants won't get wet!  We changed his pants and went on our way.

A little while later he had a second accident and we repeated the process.

After those first two accidents he hasn't had any more full on accidents like that.  But he also isn't going on the potty.  What he's now choosing to do is hold his urine until he is at the point of exploding and then one of two things happens a) it's bed/nap time and he gets his diaper put on so he goes then, or b) a little bit leaks out relieving the pressure just enough that he can hang in until a diaper is produced.

Yesterday he had not. one. accident. (small or large) the entire day.  Pants and underwear totally clean and dry.  He even got quite a bit in the potty at one point, but that was actually because we timed a potty trip for one of the times when he just couldn't possibly hold it in any longer and amongst tears some finally made it into the potty.  HOW did this kid hold his urine all day long like that?  He of course was able to relieve himself at naptime in a diaper and at bedtime in a diaper.  He also finally had a bowel movement after holding it all week, which was quite concerning.  

So, to recap, yes, he will sit on the potty if we force the issue.  No, he will not pee in the potty.  No, he does not like his pants to be wet and avoids it at all costs.  He's actually rather upset when he has an accident because he just can't control it any longer.  But NO, he will NOT pee in the potty.  I don't even want to think about #2.

He has the necessary control (that's extremely obvious).  He has the understanding of the process.  He does not want to have accidents in his pants.  But he's too scared to do anything on the potty and I don't know how to get him past that without him actually GOING in the potty to see that it's okay and it actually makes you feel better!

Bribes Rewards have not worked.  Timed potty breaks have not worked.  Letting him dictate potty breaks (which means just not going to the potty) has not worked.  All of those results have yielded a kid who "potty dances" around the house for more than 1 1/2 hours rather than letting his bladder release in either his pants or on the potty.

I'm at a complete loss.  Jack has been in underwear full-time during the day (except for nap and bedtime) since Monday and I feel like despite being SO close we're not going anywhere and it's nothing more than torture for all of us. 

On one hand I feel like backing off might be the answer.  Let's discontinue the whole process and revisit it in the future in hopes that something will change between now and then and he will suddenly be okay with the process.

On the other hand, we've all put so much time and energy into this process and we're SO close.  Maybe he needs the exposure to the process in order to become comfortable with it and maybe continuing on is the best thing we can do to get him over this hump even though it's difficult for all of us right now.

I really, really don't know the answer and I don't think I've ever been so educated, yet so clueless on a parenting topic before.  

If anyone has experienced a kid who was scared to use the potty (and I'm not talking about using the potty itself, I'm talking about actually peeing in the potty) and was able to successfully get past it, I'm all ears!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jack - 3 years old!

Jack is 3-years-old.  THREE!

For some reason that just seems so mature to me.  He's a little boy now, a baby no longer!

I've found this age to be great and not-so-great all at once.  We've both done a lot of growing over the last year.

We had Jack's birthday at a local playplace this year.

Watching him grow and develop?  Awesome.  Seeing his personality really shaping up, having conversations with him, witnessing his imagination starting to really show,  all full of greatness.  Testing boundaries, testing boundaries, and let's just throw it in there once more, testing boundaries, that's the not so great.

I've definitely found this stage the hardest yet.  I just feel so clueless sometimes.  I mean, the whole goal of parenting is to raise a well adjusted, happy, productive member of society, right?  But I'm fairly certain this time, right now, is when some people start down the path to becoming an ax murder and an ax murderer for a son, I do not want!

We kept things as simple as possible bringing in a couple dry snacks and cupcakes and getting pizza, pop, and salad provided by the place where we hosted the party.

Yes, this is what's going through my head when we're talking about the same. things. for the thousandth time.  Shouldn't he know he can't do this by now?  Clearly I'm not parenting effectively, but what the heck should I be doing differently?!  Parenting should be a degree offered in higher education because I certainly need further study.

Having a 3-year-old has tested my sanity and determination and strength the way nothing else ever has and when I say being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done in my 26 years I'm not over-exaggerating that.  Parenting is a mind game if nothing else and your kids live to push your sanity to the limit.  That's why they're all sugar and spice.  They push and push and push until you're sure you can't do this parenting thing for one more minute without ruining both of you, but then they snatch you right back from the edge of crazy by doing something so cute and sweet that you just can't stand it!

Parenthood: a lesson in extremes.

Well, the good news is we've both survived 3 years now with our sanity (mostly) in tact.

All drama aside, Jack really is at a very fun age.  We can have conversations now.  Like, real, whole conversations using complete sentences.  When did this happen?!  A few weeks before Christmas it's like he just woke up one day speaking proper sentences and just understand things so much more.  That's the point where I think he really became a 3 year old.  When I look back at his language development over the last year it's just mind boggling.  At his 2nd birthday he wasn't talking much at all.  He definitely had a good grasp on words, but I don't think he was really doing much more than very small phrases, if that.  Now?  Whole conversations!  It's no wonder he slept like crap all summer.  There was a lot going on in that little head!

He's still really into cars and trucks and pretty much anything that moves (surprise!).  Jack has quite a few little monster trucks and he likes to line them all up and set up his crunch cars to play Monster Jam (which is also one of his favorite things to watch).  He makes them jump and drive around and emulates the announcers and sometimes he pretends that the trucks get broken like on TV.    He's also pretty into Thomas the Train right now and even sings the theme song.  He drives so many miles on his knees that I'm sure he's going to wear holes through every pair of pants he owns.  He's already done so with at least 3 pairs and several more are well on their way.  Good thing the worn in look is in style, yes?   

He loves reading and has several books memorized.  You'll hear him over the monitor when he wakes up in the morning or when he's having quiet time "reading" books to himself.  It's so adorable I just can't stand it.   My Truck is Stuck is among his favorites and he loves to act out the story with his cars and trucks while reciting the story.  Love!

We read so often that he's so excited when he gets new books to read!  He loves visiting the library and picking out books and when I make a quick stop on my own to pick/up drop off books I usually try to pick out at least one book to bring home to him because he just enjoys it so much.  It's definitely a treat to him and one of his favorite things.

Something he has started doing recently is singing songs.  Most often it's songs he has heard on shows or movies, but he sometimes just makes up his own, which is just as adorable as it sounds.  He has known his ABCs for a while, and that's still a favorite.  He really started singing songs right around Christmas because he liked songs like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells.

Jack did a good job blowing on his candles this year, but still needed a little help to get the job done!

He knows all of his letters by sight and has for quite a while now.  We're working on matching sounds to letters.  He also mostly knows his numbers 1-9 by sight.  We're still working on this as it seems that there isn't as much opportunity for seeing them/talking about them as there is with letters.  He's proficient at counting to 15 and we're working on getting to 20, but he frequently just likes to stop after 15.  He knows all his colors.  For some reason he often confused yellow and orange until recently, but I think he has that worked out now!

He had a ton of fun at his party!  He was talking about it for days afterwards and asking to go back!

So, quiet time.  Yeah.  This has been quite the transition.  Over the summer he was sleeping very poorly.  I knew he was going through a big developmental period and I'm sure that's what was causing the problem, but it didn't stop me from cursing the heavens and wondering my my kid would. not. sleep. fortheloveofallthat'sholy!  Yes, I desperately need him to sleep so that I can sleep (see aforementioned needing sanity to remain in tact.  My level of patience is directly correlated to the amount of sleep I get at night.).

Towards the end of the year, his night sleeping really did improve, but he seems to be transitioning out of naps completely.  And what a fun transition it is!  (sarcasm, don't parent a toddler without it.)  Of course the problem is that although he really doesn't seem to need a nap every day there are some days when he does and he just really can't make it clear til bedtime without a nap.  Enter: quiet time.  When he started to leave naps behind it was quickly apparent that he still needed some sort of rest time.  He needed the opportunity to sleep if he was able to, and at least some down time, if not.  Plus, momma needs a little break during the day to regroup and prepare for the rest of the afternoon/evening.   Jack has never been one to sit quietly for an extended period of time watching TV, and definitely doesn't fall asleep anywhere but his bed.

He (not so) patiently waited nearly 24 hours to enjoy his cake!  He kept asking if it was time to eat the cupcakes while I was making them.

When I first recognized the need for rest time Jack was still in a crib.  He would just stand in there, throwing his menagerie of animals and blankets out of his crib screaming for me over and over.  It was not relaxing for anyone involved.  Shortly thereafter we transitioned him to a toddler bed (his crib breaks down into a toddler bed).  I was dreading this process and we kept putting it off, putting it off, until finally, right around Christmas, we took the plunge.  And you know what?  It was no big deal.  He transitioned just fine.

He participated for a little while in opening gifts this year, but didn't make it through them all.  Too much playing to be done!  He loved exploring all of his gifts once we made it home though.  Side note: The little girl in pink next time him?  Party crasher.  She wandered in towards the end of the party.  Guess Jack's birthday party was the place to be!

Anyway, back to quiet time.  Once we put him in the toddler bed he had access to the rest of his room.  This was scary.  Early attempts at quiet time resulted in him being angry in his room, getting into trouble in the form of kind of tearing things apart, and the like.  But we stuck with it because it was important for both of us.  When we could tell he was doing something he shouldn't we went into his room, told him no, explained again that he was supposed to be resting and that he could read books if he wanted to.  We also tried to end quiet time in a reasonable amount of time and to go get him when he was actually being quiet/resting if it was at all possible so we could reinforce to him that this is what we were looking for.

Eventually, maybe a week or two later?  Quiet time was really quiet time.  Now he goes in his room, we go through his usual bedtime routine of reading 3 books, laying down, getting covered up, giving kisses and saying goodnight, and then when he doesn't sleep (much more often than not) he just kind of hangs out back there.  He sings and talks to himself and reads books and after about an hour (unless we can tell he's getting very restless, which is a recipe for disaster) we go get him and tell him what a good job he did with quiet time.  Or at least this is how it goes a lot of days.  He still has days where he tries to rebel.  Hopefully this will continue!  Who can't use a little rest mid-day?  Nobody, that's who.

Grilled cheese and sweet potato fries.  Always a favorite!

I feel like his eating has improved over this last year.  There's still a lot of room for improvement, but he's much more apt to try new things now than he was several months ago.  I hear the picky toddler stage eventually improves.  Despite being somewhat restrictive he does eat a decent variety of things.  He's still not big on eating meat, but sometimes he'll surprise us with what he will eat.  One thing he does tend to like quite a bit is meatloaf.  We're getting there.  He still only drinks water.  I even let him try some hot chocolate after playing in the snow a few weeks ago and he didn't care for it.  Ah well, water is best for him anyway!

Jack has transitioned very well into being a big brother.  Of course I was worried about what his reaction would be to getting a little sibling, but to be honest, I wasn't as nervous about it as one would think only because I know Jack.  He's pretty laid-back and accepting.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's rather interested in little ones even allowing for the fact that it's different when that little one is permanently living in your house!  He's still fairly uninterested in Molly, but that's to be expected as she doesn't yet have much to contribute to their relationship.  He is concerned about her and he does pay her some sporadic attention and sometimes likes to help care for her by carrying bottles or overseeing a diaper change.  I'm confident that this ongoing transition will eventually yield a good sibling relationship between them and I can't wait to watch it evolve.  Jack is a great big brother!

On Jack's actual birthday we celebrated by playing at an inflatable playland.

Another favorite of Jack's is playing with other kids.  He loves to get together with kids from our playgroup and frequently requests to "see friends".  He just loves being around other people his age and he'll happily play with kids younger as well as older than him.  He just loves to be on the go and at least once a day everyday requests to go somewhere in the car.

And followed up with lunch at Panera, like last year!

Speaking of the car, another milestone for Jack is riding forward-facing in the car.  When he was about 2 months shy of 3-years-old his convertible car seat expired and we needed to get a new seat for him.  We decided to go with a Graco Nautilus, which is forward-facing only, but is a 3-in-1 seat with extended 5-point harnessing so it should last us a long while.  I was hoping to make it until at least 3-years-old before turning him, but considering the circumstances it was time. He loves facing-forward so much because he can see everything!  He was content to be rear-facing just because that's all he knew, but now, he can see the world!  He spends all of our car rides just chattering away about all the vehicles he sees and asking about what all the street signs say.  Now, if I could just get him to understand that it's hard for me to hear him upfront so he needs to speak up if he wants me to be able to fully understand what he's saying!

Another great year has passed and I might just survive the whole toddler stage after all :)

Finally!  It only took me 6 days to finish this post and get it up!  I guess that's what happens when you have a 5-week-old baby who needs attention round the clock!