Monday, January 30, 2017

Potty training tips and gear.

Today marks two weeks since we've started potty training Norah. What a monumental sentence, as all parents of toddlers will understand. Potty training is definitely hard, hard work! It takes a lot of commitment and consistency. (Norah was 26.5 months, in case anyone was wondering, but not that there is one perfect age.)

Norah's potty training journey was thankfully fairly easy. Norah has been poop trained since about 20 months, mostly on her own. At first, we could just definitely tell when she was pooping, then she started to tell us after she pooped because she didn't like the feeling. A couple times I thought I would just try to sit her on the potty when she made her "poop face" and she went! Soon after she started telling us when she had to poop, and it was smooth sailing after that. I fully understand that pooping on the potty can be a big issue and normally is the harder thing to tackle, so I don't know why it was easy for Norah, but I'm very thankful it was.

Pee was different for her, on the other hand. She would occasionally pee on the potty, but it was just a fluke if she happened to be going poop. Her diaper could be so full it was sagging off her and it wouldn't bother her a bit. I tried just underwear one morning right before her second birthday, to see what happened or if she would be one of those magical kids who peed on the floor once and never wanted to do it again, but she didn't really understand or care. She realized that she peed on the floor, but it didn't really bother her or make her stop doing it. I wondered if she was ready when I tried that, but this time I knew she was ready and was way more committed. I knew she was ready because she was so consistently pooping on the potty, she is very verbal and is able to talk about what's going on in the bathroom, and she started leaking out of her diapers more, so I knew she was holding it for longer periods and then releasing more at one time.

Before Norah, I used to work in a preschool, one year in a two-year-old room and two years in a three-year-old room. I don't even remember how many kids I helped potty train that year in the twos room, but it was a lot. Because of that, people ask me a lot of questions about potty training, assuming that I must have amazing techniques. While I don't claim to be a pro by any means, here are a few potty training tips I have:

1. I know it can be hard to tell exactly, but try to figure out if your child is ready to start. Do they stay dry for a longer period of time? Is it obvious that they are pooping or do they try to hide to poop? Are they interested in sitting on the potty? There's no perfect checklist to tell when they are ready exactly, but I think it's best to wait if they absolutely do not want to sit on the potty (forcing them will not help), or if they go on the floor/in their pants and are completely clueless about it.

2. Pull-ups are not magic. They are just another diaper. I literally had a couple parents believe that because they bought their child pull-ups, that the potty training process was magically starting even without them doing anything. A pull-up functions the same as a diaper. The only positive feature I see is that you can pull them up and down, but if you're going to be practicing that and using the potty anyway, you don't need pull-ups.

3. Before starting potty training with Norah, I read the book Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. I had heard good things about it, and was curious as to what it said. I think it was helpful, but I wouldn't say it was a necessity. She emphasized the potty training progression, from clueless, to I peed, to I'm peeing, to I need to go pee, which I thought was helpful. She also talked about potty training in blocks, starting with going naked (at least on the bottom) at first, then moving to lose pants (without underwear), and lastly adding underwear once they've got the first two. I liked that too, because I didn't realize there was such a distinction between naked and underwear. I always heard to go naked first, but I initially thought that wearing just underwear was virtually the same. It's not, because underwear still gives a tighter, protective feeling around the area, just like a diaper did. So, I would highly recommend that pattern, and go naked first, and then gradually build up to underwear! (Also, if this is not obvious, the first several days are incredibly demanding. You need to clear your schedule and be able to devote lots of time to it if you want it to work! As you begin to venture out, start with small trips where you know there will be child friendly bathrooms nearby.)

4. Make it fun. It's not fun, but at least try your best to make it tolerable. Sing songs, read books, etc. You will feel like you are sitting in the bathroom or by the little potty forever, but if you are sitting there sighing impatiently, your child will pick up on that. Norah still needs help in the bathroom and is still trying to master things like pulling pants up, wiping, etc. but it's so much better than it was in the beginning. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel! It's worth it. It's so worth it not to spend money on diapers anymore, and mostly because our twins are coming soon, so I am so glad that the timing worked out to get her potty trained before we have two newborns! Also, find out what works for your child. The book was against rewards, but for awhile we gave Norah two M+M's for pooping, and that worked for her. We still give her two if she asks for them after going, but we don't bring it up, and it's gradually decreasing and she's starting to forget. Maybe your child can get an M+M, or a sticker chart, or their favorite character on their underwear, or a special activity with you after- find something motivating, even if it's simply verbal praise and saying how proud of them you are for going in the potty.

If anyone is interested, we have the Ikea Lockig Children's Potty. I would highly recommend. It's small, and the green insert is very easy to take out to dump/clean. (We got the Summer Infant Lil' Loo Potty for grandma's house, and that one is fine too, but I don't like it as much because it's bigger.) Norah used this for months, just to try on it occasionally and when she pooped.

Once we started "official" potty training, Norah herself brought up using the big potty, so we started using the Ikea Tossig Toilet Seat, and I love that too. It just sits on top of the toilet seat, but the base is non-slip, so it doesn't move around. Norah can sit very comfortably on the toilet using this. We've even brought it to several public places (to make public restrooms seem less big and scary), and it fits on every toilet we've tried. (Another great tip I read was to pack sticky notes in your diaper bag or purse to cover up the automatic flusher signal in public restrooms, so it won't flush while they're sitting on the toilet or right as they move. Genius!)

We also got the Ubbi Potty Hook, so you can hang the potty seat on the side of the toilet when not in use.

We also have the Ikea Bolmen Step Stool, and I would definitely recommend getting this, or something similar, too, because Norah can step up to get on the potty and wash her hands herself. Anything to help foster independence is great! It's the perfect size and height. Norah could not get herself up onto the toilet without this. We also got the Ikea Forsiktig Children's Stool to compare, but I would not recommend this one (at least not at first) because it's shorter. Norah still can't get herself up onto the potty using that one, and she is very tall for her age. We kept it, though, because it will be nice for as she gets older/taller and can transition to that one. 

We got the Britax Seat Saver Waterproof Liner for our car, and so far I really like it. Norah has not had an accident in the car (thankfully), so I can't attest to how it does when wet, but I read some reviews online of different brands, and this one received the most positive reviews that I read. People said it was the best size (and it does fit very well into her car seat and is very covering without being bulky), and they said it was the most absorbent without leaking onto the carseat pad.

To all parents starting to potty train or in the midst of it, I salute you! It's hard work, but your commitment and consistency will pay off. Push through! Just think how glorious it will be when your child can use the bathroom completely independently!

It's now been two weeks, and Norah is doing so well! She still needs help in the bathroom, and still needs to get there pretty quickly when she says she needs to go, but I'm so impressed! She does pretty well at saying when she needs to go, but definitely still needs reminders too. We are now working on that part, because she doesn't like to be reminded or go when we tell her to, but we're trying to teach her those obvious times where you always go, like before/after bed and before getting in the car. I know each child is different, but for Norah I started to feel like she was getting it on day 4. Keep up the good work, parents! And way to go, Norah!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Swimming fun with Daddy!

Saturday night we were supposed to have some friends over, but plans ended up changing and then we had a wide open day! We ended up going swimming as a family, and it was super fun! Norah and I semi-regularly go swimming on Friday mornings during the toddler swim hour (I recently posted pictures of Norah swimming with her friends), and I mentioned once that we should come with daddy so he could take Norah down the big waterslides. Norah clearly remembered and had brought it up several different times, so she was very excited to show him the pool!

I don't publicly say this enough, but Kley is a wonderful husband and father. I am so grateful that he works so hard so I can stay at home. He is so supportive, encouraging, loyal, and just truly a good man. I am very thankful for him and the way he leads our family. And the way he plays with Norah is so fun to watch, and these pictures prove it!

I love this one.

Norah had been talking about going down the big waterslides for weeks, but got scared when we got there. She finally summoned the bravery in the last five minutes the pool was open, and then went twice and loved it! Kley definitely makes her more brave- she doesn't get her hair wet when we go swimming together, but Kley had her laying down in the water!

There is a little slide in the kids area, and my favorite part was watching Norah laugh when Kley went down it. She thought it was the funniest thing ever. I had wanted to do lots of fun things together, just the three of us, before we quickly become the five of us, and we are doing a pretty good job of accomplishing that I think! Love my family!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Twins- Third Trimester #1.

We are so very thankful that our twins are doing well and are healthy and strong! We had another ultrasound recently and all looks good. What a blessing and answer to prayer. Praise God for growing these little ones! The doctor said things are going well. Baby A was 3 lbs. 10 oz. (71st percentile), and Baby B was 3 lbs. 15 oz. (80th percentile). So these babies are getting big! Back pain is definitely the worst pregnancy symptom for me, but I'm thankful to not be on bedrest and to be able to do most normal things. The doctor commented on their good growth, but still said he was "strongly concerned" with a vaginal delivery and "highly recommended" a C section, which we told him we would definitely do. (This is because Baby B has what's called velamentous cord insertion, where the cord is attached to the membranes, rather than the placenta. They said they would have to watch Baby B's growth, which is going great thankfully, but the biggest concern is laboring, as this could cause rupturing, which would get dangerous for Baby B very quickly.) So, we will have a very different labor experience than Norah's, but glad to know this in advance and to be able to provide the healthiest option for the babies.

Can't wait to hold these sweet little loves!

24 weeks

25 weeks

26 weeks

27 weeks

28 weeks

29 weeks- My belly is definitely getting quite large! Most of my shirts that I wore with Norah are not covering enough, so I had to order some bigger sizes. Woah.

Here are pictures from the most recent ultrasound at 29 weeks 3 days. They were moving around a lot and covering their faces with their arms/legs, so it was harder to get good pictures this time. 

Baby A

Baby B

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chuck E. Cheese's.

There are times where you just feel cooped up and you need to do something, and Saturday was one of those times. We spent most of the week at home, because it's freezing and all our normally scheduled activities were still on winter break, so we headed to the "big city" on Saturday (meaning the closest city, about 45 minutes away, that has a mall/significant amount of restaurants, Target, etc.), and I was thinking about something fun to do with Norah. 

I know the arrival of twins will be a big change for Norah (and us too!), so I'm trying to find some fun special things to do in our last weeks as just three. My stroke of brillance was to go to Chuck E. Cheese. Kley was excited, but not as excited as me because he didn't go there growing up. I, on the other hand, have three siblings, and we all chose to go there for our birthday dinner for years. I loved it growing up, and it was so fun to take Norah there! (We also ran some errands, so I got to go to Target, and we ate at Red Robin!)

It was pretty awesome because they don't charge an admission fee, so we just paid $5 for tokens, stayed for about an hour, and had fun! Norah was a little hesitant at first, and would get scared when the game started and want to walk away, but she got more used to it at the end. I think she had a great time, and Kley said he did too. (He enjoyed a few games himself!) Norah picked some Skittles for her prize when cashing in her tickets, and thoroughly enjoyed them on the car ride home. Skee Ball was definitely her favorite!

I'm sure we'll be back again someday!

Playing basketball with Daddy- love doing fun things on the evening/weekends so he can come too!

Norah riding with Chuckie!

Spinning cup of hot chocolate.

Feed the frog.

This spaceship moved quite a bit actually- it scared her when it first started, but then she loved it!

Driving cars!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Missional motherhood.

A repost from my instagram recently:

It can be easy to forget how missional motherhood really is in the midst of all the "doing" and "caring" that needs to be done, but I never want to forget how important it is. Today I stopped and watched Norah copying me with her play iron as I was ironing, and I was overwhelmed at how much influence I (and Kley) have over her young life. We pray and read a Bible story in our bed at night before bringing her to her bed, and she's been asking us to pray again in her own bed. I know it's basically a stalling tactic, but I'll never say no to another prayer, and I love praying out loud over her that I hope she grows up to love Jesus, serve Him with all her heart, and show His kindness to those around her. May I never take for granted the sweet blessing of raising one of His own.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Can we love two more?

I am truly thankful to be pregnant and am incredibly grateful that God chose us to parent TWO more babies, but being pregnant the second time is different than the first for me. I worried about how to be a good parent when we were pregnant with Norah, but the ecstatic wonder about simply having a baby was more overpowering the first time around, because there's beauty in the naivety! I now know how hard it is to have a baby, and children in general, but I also know the deep, heart moving love that comes along with it. It's so worth it!

This time around, I find myself worrying about how we could possibly love more babies like we love Norah. I know we will and it will just happen, but I worry about it sometimes. Especially at night- there is definitely power in the light! The correlation between spiritual light and darkness is very neat, I think. Satan loves to use the darkness of night to make things seem more scary, more lonely, more intense, more overwhelming. I'm so tired, yet sometimes I still lay awake at night wondering what, if any, baby items are out there that we absolutely must get immediately. I wonder how I will meet three different children's needs. I wonder how I will handle it when I feel overwhelmed. I'm scared to feel like were just in survival mode, but I know it will be only temporary. What if they all need something at the same time? How will I be able to spend time with them individually? How can I foster three different personalities? What if Norah struggles with not getting as much attention? I feel like Norah and I have a good groove, and I'm scared to mess that up.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who worries about these things, and I know that these issues will come up. But I also know that He will provide the strength, patience, and grace that we need just when we need it.

Matthew 6:34- Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Philippians 4:6-7- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I find peace in that nothing is shocking to God. He always knew these babies and He always knew that they would be ours. He chose us specifically to be their parents, and I need to remind myself of that when I wonder what He was thinking in picking us.

I'm sure in some things we will have double the hardship, but I know we can do it, because I also know how wonderfully rewarding parenting is, and we get to do it doubly this time around. I don't know how, but somehow our hearts will just grow to love three. With how much we already love Norah, I may just burst by loving more.

I also read this article below the other day, which spoke to similar feelings!

Dear Mama who's twisted about having another baby

(Also, unrelated, but over New Years, Kley and I got to go to Omaha for the weekend, just us! It was a wonderful babymoon filled with lots of eating, ice cream, movies, shopping, and a couples massage! It was great to spend some alone time together before these babies come, and a huge thanks to Kley's parents for watching Norah!)

(I actually wrote this post a couple weeks ago, and was just letting it sit as a draft thinking about it, and Kley any I actually talked about this last night after another ultrasound. Just talking about it it so helpful! We both said the same thing- we know it will be so worth it and we know we will love them so much when we see their little faces and hold them, but sometimes it's easier to be overwhelmed when you can't picture it yet. Obviously we love them now, but it's different when you are actually holding them. We know they will fit into our family so perfectly, just like Norah did, but we can't see it fully yet. So, as scary as it is, bring it on! Can't wait to hold these sweet little loves.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Indoor fun and swimming with her pals.

I was really wishing we could go outside this week, but it's January and super cold, so we've been taking advantage of the fun indoor things we can do! We went to the Kids Gym earlier this week, which Norah loves! (Norah was free until she turned two, and now I bought a groupon pass deal that makes it much more affordable.) It really is such a cool place- it's a gym designed specifically for kids with sensory processing disorders, but any child can play. I love that our little town has one! Her favorite things there are the swings and trampoline.

Kley also took Norah to the library to play for a little bit last night so I could take a bath and read in the tub. Amazing. Thanks Kley- you're the best!

Friday we went to the pool for toddler swim hour! Norah loves it, and it's only $2 per adult and $1 per child, so a great cheap activity too. I like that she can keep up being used to the water during the winter months too, and it's just fun to get out of the house in the winter and do something you don't normally get to do. This time, two of Norah's best friends came, which also means mommy talk time too for the grown ups!

Norah had a great time! As you can see, we are making strides towards smiling at the camera, but haven't mastered it yet. Still cute!

Norah is a hot tub girl- definitely my daughter. (Don't worry, it's warm, but they turn it down for toddler hour and it's not as hot as usual hot tubs.)

Sweet girl.

Attempting a friends shot. It's so fun to watch Norah love her friends and learn to play with others. As you can see with her arm, she's sometimes a little too heavy on the love. Physical touch is definitely her love language, and she means well, but you have to let your pals breathe too, Norah. :)

Hope you're enjoying winter and finding fun things to do indoors! (Going to the park for the first time in the spring will be a glorious day!)