Mobi Peeka Mirror

We are definitely a “less is more” family. I don’t like a lot of “stuff” unless it has a purpose that adds value to our lives. So when it comes to little babes, we don’t have a bunch of extras. They’re so happy with the entertainment of their big siblings, their feet, etc.

But one this that babies do love and we like to have are mirrors!

There is nothing better than a tiny baby looking at themselves, and Avellana is no exception! I swear with each baby we find fewer and fewer things that we need, but when we were asked to review the Mobi Peeka Mirror by Timberdoodle I was super excited because a baby mirror was on my list of things I wanted to get Ave for Christmas, and this was even sooner! (And the stuff Timberdoodle has been adding for the baby and toddler age-range this year has pretty much all been awesome!)

And this is by far my favorite baby mirror that we’ve owned because it’s so fun and versatile. It has a stand to prop it up for when she immediately rolls herself over to her tummy (see photo below for evidence), handles on the side so she can hold it herself as she gets bigger, and we can use it in the car because it’s soft and small enough to not be cumbersome (and we are driving all the way to Las Cruces in a few weeks, so it definitely be get in some good road trip hours).

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It’s colorful enough to keep Ave’s attention, and has fun little beads she can move back and forth, but it’s not obnoxious colors which I really appreciate from a mom-standpoint.

Oh, did I mention that Ave is teething? Like, we were up for four solid hours last night because he mouth hurt and it was sad and pitiful. BUT the mobi peeka mirror is also a great teether. Because she can hold it and chomp. So it’s seriously one of the best baby items we currently have in our house.

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This is her “hey! I’m the one who was up all night and now you’re trying to play with my tosy!” face.

So if you’re looking for something to stick in your tots stocking or wrap for under the tree, or you know, just for every day life because you have a babe, I would recommend this over and over again. It’s definitely going on my list for gift-giving for other babe’s this year since it’s definitely brought a lot of joy over here.

 

Almost 4 months in

Bean has always been precocious for her age, and that’s saying a lot coming after her big sister and big brothers. I’m always a little surprised when people comment on how mature Mr. B is, because I’m often, unfairly, comparing him to Miss H and she is even more mature.

Yesterday at the B’s visual therapy appointment the receptionist told me how she is always so surprised and pleased when B walks in and gives her his name and tells him he’s there for his appointment with Miss Jackie and then quietly takes a seat in the waiting room (I often walk in a few minutes after this because I’m corralling tiny humans). She said there aren’t any other kids who come in and check themselves in, or who are as naturally sweet and polite as he is. Which of course makes my momma heart sing because I never really knew if the whole modeling manners and not forcing manners thing would work out since I was kind of trudging through unknown (to me) territory when I became a momma and decided to try a different parenting path from what I knew.

Even so, Bean is barely two and she speaks in sentences and even M’s therapist remarked at every. single. session. about how very, very precocious she is. Add that to her fierceness, fesityness, and feralness, and she’s a real amazing piece of work to say the least.

So I guess it should have come as no surprise that she would be the one with a few struggles becoming a big sister.

I know everyone has their own opinions on the spacing of kids, but I’m telling you, for us, 18 months or closer has been best. Miss H becoming a big sister to Mr. B was a breeze. She never really cared, had no real regressions, and pretty much forgot he hadn’t always been a part of her life after a few days. It was essentially the same adding Bean beneath Sweet M.

There were 4.5 years between Mr. B and Sweet M though. And though it wasn’t terrible – there were a lot of pros – it was harder for me starting all over with diapers and sleepless nights.

Bean was only 22 months when we had Ave, which doesn’t seem like a huge difference when you consider Miss H was 17 months old when B was born, and M was 18 months when Bean was born. But holy moly.

She misses being the baby. She went from fully potty learned to requesting diapers again (but thankfully that has mostly surpassed us). She wanted to sit in a high chair again. She’d request to be spoon fed. She used to rarely let me carry her, now she always wants to be carried.

And while I am pretty lax and go with the flow and just embraced it as it was, it was the biggest adjustment out of all the kids having a new sibling. I was definitely thrown off kilter because I just didn’t expect all of this.

What also made it tricky is that Bean and Sweet M are so close, which is obviously beautiful and everything I hope for for my kids. But when one is feeling off or in a funk, they feed off of each other. So although M hasn’t had any adjustment issues with Ave – he adores her to pieces and is basically the sweetest big brother (tied with B, of course!) – he empathized with Bean so hard that it made him a little more cray cray than usual there for a hot second as well.

Fortunately, they seem to have themselves together again, and things finally seem to be finding a new balance of normal, and I am finally starting to feel like it’s okay to breathe again. At least a little bit.

 

 

 

Photo credit to the amazing Ashley Athey

A Whole Bunch of Feelings

Holy Cow, do my kiddos have a lot of big feelings. And we’ve been feeling them hard lately in all directions.

Luckily, I am typically pretty good at embracing those big feelings. I say “typically” because I’m a human too, and some days I probably don’t embrace them as I should. I want them to know that all those big feelings are valid, even if they don’t make sense to me. I want them to express them, even if it sometimes means I have to battle my own inner voice that wants to shut them down because it’s what it learned long ago.

Bean’s current favorite bedtime book is “A Whole Bunch of Feelings.” We, of course, don’t read the whole thing every night, because it’s much too long for Momma, but I read a few pages to her, and it’s so interesting how she just curls up on my lap, even at just 2, and seems to really get it. I mean, she is the one requesting this book each night.

Because we are such a bookworm family, it should come as no surprise that it’s just one of the many ways we discuss all the feelings. “A Whole Bunch of Feelings” is a great book for helping discuss past emotions and situations, and a way to think about feelings and moments to come.

This book discusses many of the same feelings that can be found on our feelings flashcards I previously wrote about, as well as some that aren’t on our flashcards. But “A Whole Bunch of Feelings” goes a bit more in depth, giving short little story scenarios in which each feeling may arise. Although this book is geared for the 5-8 crowd, and Mr. B (age 8) and Miss H (age 9) have both definitely enjoyed it, it is very well loved by Sweet M (age 3.5) and Bean (age 2). Especially by Bean. So I would probably expand that age range myself.

The book has beautiful illustrations filled with diverse characters; my children were definitely excited to see all shades of people, including people that resembled them and their papa, which isn’t always the norm.

“A Whole Bunch of Feelings” is a beautiful book for your library collection, and I would definitely recommend it for all families. The more we understand and accept all of these big feelings, the easier life is to process and muddle through. And who doesn’t want that?

 

***This post is sponsored by Timberdood, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.***

Feelings Flashcards

I am sure it comes as zero surprise to anyone who knows us well that we are big on “feelings” in our house.

We recently finished reading “The Giver” and then followed up by watching the movie (spoiler alert: the book is always better!), and throughout the whole thing my big kids would tease me about how much they talk about “feelings” throughout. Almost as much as we do, they said!

Seriously though, I want my kids to feel heard. I want them to feel validated, even if their feelings may seem a little silly sometimes to the big people in their lives (“I hear you’re upset that your brother has the purple cup. You wanted the purple cup. That’s disappointing.”). But it’s hard to feel validated if you can’t properly articulate what you are feeling.

Emotions are so much more diverse and complex outside of just “happy, sad, mad.” And when we just stick to those three basic terms for how we are feeling, we are missing out not just on some really great vocabulary, but we are often missing the entire essence of how we are feelings.

We’ve been very fortunate that all of our kiddos thus far have been pretty verbal early on; the girls even earlier than the boys. And if we are being completely honest, Bean is in a league of her own for only being 2 years old. That girl has a lot of opinions and sass, and the whole world can understand her, ha.

But one fun tool we have found in our home to help expose our kids to the different words for different feelings, and to help open up conversation about how they may have felt, or how they might feel in certain situations, have been with their Feelings Flashcards.

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These flashcards are super fun and colorful. Each flashcard has a feeling on each side, almost always antonyms of one another such as “bored/busy.” They give so much to discuss and explore with each card.

They’re also very thick cardboard, so quite durable (though I will attest, they are not indestructible when you have toddlers…). They’re large enough for small hands to comfortably hold and use (and because they’re so colorful, Sweet M and Bean also like to point out all the colors on each card, too!).

I’ve been choosing a card, or letting one of the toddlers choose one, every few days. We investigate the card together, discuss the feelings vocabulary, and talk about times when they might have had those feelings, or when someone they knew might have. And they’re definitely incorporating the vocabulary into their daily language, as Sweet M declared “I’ve got ants in my pants!” the other day while dancing around the living room; a phrase he got straight from his Feelings Flashcards. 

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And while I’m certain that I could teach my kiddos about feelings without the help of aids, they certainly help! There are some I definitely would not have thought to discuss with my kids on my own as they’re just feelings I myself don’t think of specifically very often. Such as “carefree,” the opposite of “worried.” We’ve definitely talked about “worried” before, but “carefree” likely would have never come up in a conversation organically, or at least not for while.

So if you are looking for a way to delve deeper into the world of feelings with you kiddo(s), or maybe looking for a way to even start those conversations, I would unquestionably recommend Feelings Flashcards. They’re a fun way to get the whole family talking about how they’re feeling!

 

 

***I received a set of Feelings Flashcards for review by Timberdoodle, but the thoughts and opinions are genuine, and mine alone.***

Return to CYO Camp

I was the weird kid who dreamed of boarding school and summer camps; the kinds of adventures that would be worthy of a childhood novel. But I did neither (well, one week of camp when I was eleven, which I loved!). So it’s no surprise that I sought out my own adventures when I was an adult, starting with summer camp.

I had the privilege of working at a nearby summer camp the summer I turned 19.

I met a lot of amazing people that summer. Both peers and kids. Shared a lot of laughs and late night chats. Sang more songs than I would have ever dreamt my off-key voice could belt.

I grew as a person. Got a little broken. Got a little wiser.

I wouldn’t change it for anything.

So when Miss H had a class field trip to CYO Camp, I knew I had to go.

Fortunately J is in town so he was able to take the day off work to stay home with the three littles. I really didn’t want to schlep them around camp all day, and really, I wanted to spend time with my big girl. I want her to know she’s oh-so important to me, even if the little ones tend to take more of my time and attention these days. It doesn’t diminish my love and adoration of her.

Also, it’s kind of surprising how easy it is for me to say “toodles!” to the toddlers and baby. Avellana is only 10 weeks old and I didn’t hesitate to leave her for the day. I 100% would not have done that with Miss H at 10 months old, let alone 10 weeks. Nor Mr. B. But it gets a little easier with each one, to know that they are perfectly safe and loved and well cared for even if I’m not around. Obviously I don’t question their father’s ability to care for them at all, so that also makes it way easier. If it had been a sitter for the whole day that may have been another story.

Anyway. It was such a joy to return to my old stomping grounds and to be surrounded by Miss H and her classmates. You genuinely could not ask for more fun kids to be around. But I also really like kids. Clearly. No one has five kids if they don’t like them. Or they probably shouldn’t anyway.

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So much has changed. So much. And yet it is so very much the same.

It’s crazy how much smell makes you remember things. The smell of bat scat brought back so many memories. What a super weird, yet welcoming smell.

The smell of the soap in the bathrooms. The same soap from 12 years ago that kids used too much of, and too little of, all summer long.

Such a reminder of how brief childhood is. Even the youngest of campers who would have attended the summer I worked there are 19 now. The same age I was then. Their childhoods passed so quickly. My own youth slipping away with each passing year. My own babies growing faster than I sometimes feel I can keep up with. It’s all so fast.

And yet so slow.

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Miss H spent the day gathering information and creating plans of returning to camp next summer. She wants to go for a week and enjoy all the beauty and wonder that it holds. And while it all ready hurts a little to let her go – she’ll be double digits by then! – I also want that experience for her because I know she’ll love it and flourish.

They still tell kids there is a hippo in the lake. There is still archery – my favorite. They still play Gold Rush. The food is still oddly amazing. It’s still a little too hot, and the cabins a little musty. It’s still a world outside of my element that I find a wee bit overwhelming and uncomfortable, but a whole lot of fun and worth it.

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When our day there was done Miss H told me she was glad I got to go with her and spend the day with her. I told her I was glad, too.

And I am.

I’m glad I got that time with my ever-growing firstborn. That I got to be there the first time she walked through CYO camp all bright eyed at how amazing it all is. That she knows she matters so, so much to me. In 10 short years she will be the same age I was when I worked at that camp. And while 10 years may seem like a long time for some, I all ready know how quickly that time will slip by.

The Birth of Hazel Penelope Maru

***If birth, breastfeeding, and/or semi-nakedness is not your cup of tea, you’ll want to bypass this post.***

It’s taken me far longer than I intended to sit down and write this post. I guess that’s my life now with five sweet darlings to call my babies.

Hazel’s birth was pretty magnificent, and there is so much I want to say about it.

Let me start about 8 years ago, shortly after Basilio was born. After he was born I dreamt I gave birth in my bathtub, solo. It was very vivid and really stuck with me, even though Jaime had been cut by that point. Eep.

Each baby I’ve had has been quicker than the last. And they’ve all had a fairly predictable schedule. I lose my mucous plug. Contractions start. And then I have a baby in my arms a few hours later. Super easy for the most part.

Well, I assumed the same would be said for our fifth babe. But we all know what they say about assuming.

Baby “Fimito” was due on the 3rd of July, and my only hope was that she didn’t come on the 4th of July. Also, I was 100% convinced that “she” was a “he.”

I attended mass on Sunday, July 7th with my big kids. Half way through I had to pee, so I excused myself to the bathroom to discover I’d lost my mucous plug.

Cool.

Baby time.

By the time mass had ended I hadn’t had a single contraction. But whatever. I’d always had a baby in my arms at max, 12 hours after the loss of my mucous plug. So by 10:30pm tonight, I’d be meeting my sweet baby.

Wrong.

Nothing was happening.

At all.

So we ventured to the playground that hot, hot afternoon where I had maybe two contractions the whole time, but lost more mucous plug. That was weird because I’d never lost it in pieces before.

Hm.

I had a few sporadic contractions throughout the afternoon/evening, but nothing that told me baby was imminent. I even texted my midwife and let her know, but went to bed in hopes of something happening around 9:30pm.

I awoke a little after midnight with a very mild surge.

Finally.

Game on.

Except it was another 20 minutes before anything else happened, and I dozed in and out of sleep, not even needing to get up for the contractions because they were so mild.

By 4:30 I was pretty annoyed because they weren’t remotely close together and I was pretty sure this was going to be the longest labor of my life. I’d never had a labor play out like this before. Essentially just not progress. The contractions were effortless, and there was no bloody show or anything. I was feeling really anxious because this seemed tedious and unmoving; like an event I’d be participating in for the next few days, not hours. And I wasn’t sure if I was up for that.

My back ached so I got in the bath tub for a bit, but nothing changed. The bathtub was too small for my swollen body to provide much relief, though I dozed off and on until the water turned tepid.

The waves still erratic and sporadic, I woke Jaime up and asked him to fill up the birth tub downstairs for me so I could be fully submersed and possibly have some back relief. I remember telling him, “If this is the way it’s going to be, I’m not sure I can do it. It’s not bad, but it’s not progressing. I don’t want to do this for days if nothing is going to happen.”

“Uh…I don’t think you have a choice at this point,” he had replied.

“Yes, I do,” I had told him before heading downstairs.

I called my amazing midwife at about 5:30 and asked if she’d head over. I wanted her to tell me I was making some sort of progress because this was unlike any of my previous labors and I was fairly certain I’d still be doing this by the next nightfall.

Shortly after hanging up with her, I proceeded to get down on my hands and knees, and then laid my head down on the wooden floor. I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing or what was happening in the moment, but in hindsight I think my body was shifting baby into eject position.

Again, I had to pee, so I walked to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. Sitting felt good. I peed, and then felt a pop. I hummed through a surge that came next and then it hit me that my water had just broke.

“Jaime,” I called out softly as he worked in the other room to fill up the birth pool. “My water broke.”

I think he may have said, “okay” at that point, not really aware of what I’d said.

My water breaking was quite odd to me because my water had only ever broken when I was in the throes of pushing a baby out. Sitting on the toilet, I got extra friendly with myself, and then somehow managed to squawk out, “Jaime. I feel the baby’s head.”

He popped his head in then. “Like the baby is coming out now?” he questioned.

“No,” I told him. “He’s still way up there, but I can actually feel his head with my finger, so….about that birth tub.”

I got into the birth tub and Jaime asked if he had time to go to the bathroom. For real. I told him sure, because still I hadn’t had a contraction that seemed intense, any bloody show, or any contractions closer than 13 minutes together. I had plenty of time. I mean, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew the succession of signs and progression…

A few minutes later I had a mild surge, but felt the baby’s head move down into the birth canal. This was happening, even though it wasn’t happening by the book. Not the one I followed anyway.

I yelled for Jaime to come back, and for Basilio, who I had heard awaken and scamper across upstairs, to wake up Halloway quick because I was certain I’d never live it down if she missed the birth.

Jaime stood behind me as I squatted in the birth pool. The next push I was crowning, I could feel her mushy head and for a nanosecond wondered if I was maybe feeling a butt instead because it was so soft and I’d never really paid attention to feeling things when my other kids were crowning. But it didn’t matter at this point, there were no backsies, this baby was coming out one way or another.

My butt felt like it was going to rip open so I pushed hard without a contraction, I needed baby to move on out. I felt her head slide out and I reached down into the water. I kept pushing as her shoulders slid out, wrapped like a present with the cord around her shoulders and torso.

Instinctively I unwound the cord and brought her tiny body to my chest. I kept murmuring, “don’t touch me” over and over to Jaime throughout the process. And then when she was in my arms I was in such awe and amazement over what I’d done. I’d brought our child into this world without the aid or need of anyone else. It was extraordinary to me.

I asked for towels as I held her near my chest, and sweet little Morgan came down the stairs to see his new baby sister.

It was beautiful.

It was the most primal, surreal, amazing experience ever. I still can’t wrap my brain around it.

Shortly after my midwife arrived, and my closest friend, Greer. Though I honestly cannot remember in which order. And then my birth photographer. I’d been texting with them all, and had sent them texts when my water broke so baby was coming.

Morgan had the pleasure of helping to cut the baby’s umbilical cord, and then I wanted to go upstairs to my bedroom. Freja woke up at that point.

We still hadn’t picked a name yet. We had a few top contenders for girls, and zero for boys. So a few hours later, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, Jaime and I chatter.

Itzel. Zella. Penelope. Eloise. Elowen. Hazel.

Those were the contenders.

But Jaime wanted Hazel. He’d wanted Hazel from the beginning of my pregnancy. And I’d wanted a Penelope since I was pregnant with Basilio and we’d chosen Lennox Penelope if he’d been a girl. But I also didn’t want people to call her “Penny” so I settled with Penelope as the middle name and not first.

And by golly, she is such a Hazel, that I’m glad I didn’t push for anything else. Because he’d have given me it, but I’d have been so, so very wrong.

And Maru had all ready been chosen, for a boy or girl middle name even though it is technically a “girl” name. It’s the Spanish nickname for the name Eugenia – my paternal grandmother’s name. And only one letter different from the name Mary – my maternal grandmother’s name. A derivative of Eugene, for St. Eugene (the saint of dysfunctional families, which seems a bit humorous). It was a non-nonnegotiable.

And that is how we went from a family of 6 to 7, and I felt like a freaking superhero goddess, because I’d once dreamt I delivered my own baby without help, and then I really did.

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Florida Vacay Pt. 2

So I’m not going to lie, when people say things like “it’s not really a vacation with kids” I’ve never truly related to that. Like, for sure it’s different. In one scenario you are solely responsible for entertaining and keeping yourself alive, and in the other you are responsible for a lot of people.

Maybe because I’ve never been a partier or a drinker really, and don’t find that to be “fun” or even a little bit relaxing, being responsible for other humans doesn’t typically feel that tedious or as if it’s taking from the vacation. I genuinely enjoy being with my kiddos, as terribly crazy as they often are. And fortunately J does, too. I wouldn’t say we’d never do a totally kid-free vacation, because maybe some day, in the future, we will. Who knows? But for now, we enjoy having them with us, and we are super fortunate that we’ve built a relationship where neither of us feels underappreciated or whatever if we don’t have constant (or if we are being honest, like any) one on one time with each other.

All that said. This vacation was exhausting. Oh my gosh. It wasn’t even the kids, ha. I think it was my rotund stomach and the extreme sleepies of third trimester pregnancy. I was lucky enough to get several naps in, to sit on the beach or in the water and take a load off while J primarily care for the littles, but still. It was exhausting. But no more exhausting than if we’d been at home.

The kids were so happy to be on the beach. It’s really all that Sweet M and Bean remember, and they talk about it daily. Bean even squealed, “I love da beach!” while M inquired, “Shouldn’t we be living here always?” I told him I’m working on it. I’m not sure how many more years, or even months, of cold I can withstand. I thought I wasn’t bothered by cold and snow. And then we lived in Hawaii and I realized I was wrong. So, so, so very wrong.

There is a completely different sort of vibe and atmosphere to being near the water. Life is just more mellow and calm. Everyone is more chill. It’s the way life is supposed to be. Or at least mine anyway. I am not cut out for the hustle and bustle of busy life.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of photos of beach life. I’ll write later about H’s fun surprise. Well, both of them!

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Miss H’s First Communion

I’m not going to go into the debacle of what was originally supposed to be Miss H’s first communion back in April. Let’s just say the world should be really happy that J and I are both super easy going individuals, haha.

So Miss H ended up receiving her first communion this past Sunday. And it was beautiful and emotional (for me), and a long time coming.

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I was baptized Catholic as an infant, but I wasn’t raised Catholic. I wasn’t really raised as anything, so it’s intriguing in some ways that it’s where I teetered back to.

I had the privilege of attending a Catholic high school, by choice, for two years before moving back to Indiana, although I did not remotely identify or practice as Catholic then. It wasn’t until I began my sophomore year of college, a little overwhelmed from the cards I’d been dealt that summer, that I really started to seek a quiet refuge in the idea of religion.

There are a lot of things I probably don’t agree with in the Catholic Church as a whole. I also genuinely do not care if my children grow to decide they want to be Buddhist or Atheist or whatever. It’s their journey, not mine. I’m happy to share with them how I came to this place, but it’s not my choice to decide what or how they believe. That’s up to them.

I was confirmed in the Catholic Church while I was living in England the year before J and I wed, and I knew if I was going to do marriage I wanted it to be a through the Church, for better or for worse. J was born and raised Catholic, and though he was not, and is not, very much a practicing Catholic, he has always whole heartedly supported my decisions and precarious faith.

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We gave H and B the choice to participate in religious education classes and whether or not they wanted to take the steps toward their first communion (B still has another year of classes before he is there) and both said yes. And they’ve both definitely enjoyed their classes more than actual mass, haha. Which I don’t blame them. The few Christmas masses I sat through as a kid I wasn’t particularly fond of. It wasn’t until I was an adult.

Anyway, H’s first communion came. The babies were wild so J ended up outside with them and missed the whole thing, which I know made her a little sad, and J, too. But that’s just life sometimes.

I cried. Because that’s what I do. And by cried I got teary-eyed because I very rarely truly cry. But she was beautiful and it was a beautiful moment and I’m so glad that for now, it’s the path she is choosing is right for her heart.

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And her heart is so big and so full of love and goodness, I sometimes can’t believe she came from J and I. She is definitely proof that it is so much nature, and only a sliver of nurture, as much as we sometimes want to believe otherwise.

And I am so, so thankful, that God felt like we deserved Miss H in our lives, and that we are remotely good enough to be a part of her life’s journey, because she is truly one of the best people I know.

Another Kid is (Mostly) Potty Learned

I’ve talked about potty learning before. And the thing is, I’m not some kind of professional, or wizard, with lots of sage advice or tricks up my sleeve.

But also. It’s been really easy with all my kids thus far.

Miss H was kind of magical, I admit. We had no idea what we were doing and zero plans. J and I hadn’t even discussed potty learning. Like, it wasn’t even a thought in our minds. But she went every where we did, so naturally, she got super curious about the potty early on. At 14 months she was asking to sit on the potty, and by 16 months she was wearing chonies (underwear) pretty much full time during the day (nighttime is a different story).

Mr. B had zero interest in the potty so I assumed he’d be my kid in diapers until he was 3 and I wasn’t really that concerned because I just don’t have the time or energy to stress over those sorts of things. Like, whether he used the toilet on his own at 18 months or age 5 didn’t make a difference to me; either way I wouldn’t be changing his diapers in college. But low and behold, a little over a month before his second birthday he asked for chonies with airplanes while shopping one day. We bought them, he put them on at home, and that was that. Literally. I think he maybe had three accidents after that. Ever.

Sweet M was pretty much as easy, but we were in Hawaii and I was more hesitant to put him in chonies full time, even once he was very consistently using the potty, because omg. Traffic. Honolulu traffic is nothing like Midwest traffic and I really didn’t want accidents in the car seats because that’s a pain to clean out. (But I also wash their car seats way too frequently because – food. So I probably shouldn’t have worried.) Anyway, on his 2nd birthday I pulled the trigger, put him in chonies, told him no more diapers, and that was that. He had a very small handful of accidents that week, but none in the car. Though there were a few days when we’d have to pull over several times in a 30 minute span for him to go potty, but whatevs. It was short lived fun and that was that.

I figured Bean was going to be it then. She’d be the one in diapers forever. But just like all the others, she showed an early interest. And at 20 months, I haven’t pulled the trigger on no diapers at all, but she is naked or in chonies 90% of the time, and has approximately 0-2 accidents a day. Again, it’s more me than anything, I imagine. She’s pretty committed (there is definitely a thrill for her when she squeals “shi shi in the potty, Mommy!” as we are driving down the road), and most of the accidents occur in situations where she does tell me (because I don’t believe in taking a kid to the potty every x amount of minutes, because that’s too much work and I’m too lazy for that, haha), but we just don’t get to a toilet fast enough. Fortunately, it’s getting warm though so she can rock the t-shirt and chonies look, and it makes things easier. She’s been the most drawn out process of all of my kids, but even still, it’s been easy and stress free.

I figure most kids likely have the ability to be potty learned early on. I know it’s common place in many other countries. Again though, I’m not an expert.

Being present, being aware and alert, offering lots of opportunities where they can choose the potty, talking about the potty, reading about the potty, and not stressing or forcing it all seem to have been and currently be pretty important key components for all of my kiddos in potty learning.

And before you think I just have super easy, malleable kids, I assure you, I do not. Not one of them is “easy,” but damn, they’re all loveable and amazing. Bean’s current favorite two phrases are “I don’t like that” and “I don’t want that.” And she wears the same ratty dinosaur dress her Aunt Bucky bought her almost every single day by shrill-shrieking choice (it’s probably why I always call her my sweet, angel baby, haha). My kids are stubborn and opinionated, but they also like to be in charge. And having control where their potty learning is concerned makes them feel quite mighty, I infer.

Having us praise them every time they succeed, and not being upset or frustrated when they don’t quite make it, makes it a smooth-sailing, stress-free process.

And now that Bean is pretty much out of diapers (except on the playground, I am still mostly worried she is going to pee on the slide and ruin it for everyone, ha), I guess we will see how sweet Fimito decides to finish our potty learning easy streak.

Until then.

Constantly Playing Catch Up

This past year has really thrown me for a loop. I constantly feel like I’m playing catch up, and I’m always the person who had my essays written weeks before they were ever due. I read all the books for class the summer before classes even started. I had an entire years worth of birthday cards all ready written, addressed, and stamped, filed away for each month of the year for all of my friends and family.

And now?

Shit. Now I’m throwing together lunches for my kids seconds before we are headed out the door, and I honestly don’t know they last time I sent a birthday card.

Sorry. For real. I wish I was more on top of it, but this past year has just knocked me on my butt.

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I don’t even really have a good excuse, other than we went from living the Aloha life where we had a flourishing community and my husband was actually home on the daily, to back to Midwest where M-F is spent parenting alone, and most of my time is spent alone with two adorable toddlers, and a sweet, surprise baby is on the way, and I’m really just tired. Like really tired. But I also don’t want to be so tired and behind that I miss it all because this is my dream.

Like really and truly. I am living my dream. So I don’t know how I can always be so behind and tired when I literally have everything I could ever want right here. Well, except maybe for my husband Monday through Friday because I actually super like him too.

I’m trying to make myself be more intentional. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mundane of it all. Sometimes I forget to pause and breathe. That it’s okay if the laundry isn’t put away or that the floors don’t get vacuumed three times a day. Because lets be honest, my house doesn’t look any different when it all gets done as opposed to when it doesn’t (but I notice how good those baseboards look after I’ve washed them down. And there is some sweet satisfaction there).

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We finally have beautiful weather and so we are basically living outside these days, and it’s pretty glorious. I’m starting to feel energized and awake again. Although my three-year-old is testing every ounce of extreme patience I have, I definitely have more to give when we are living outdoors as opposed to being cooped up inside.

Three year olds. Lord help me. He is just a fabulous, wonderful, delightful little human. Who is also trying to see if can make me throw out all of my respectful and gentle parenting beliefs. I will say thus far, he hasn’t succeeded. Well, maybe other than the moment I told him I’d have to leave him at home alone if he couldn’t pull himself together and be kind to his sister the other day. It wasn’t a proud moment for sure, but also, I like to remind myself it could have been worse. I didn’t yell. I didn’t manhandle him. But I probably shouldn’t have threatened him with abandonment, but what else will he have to discuss in therapy one day otherwise?

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We’ve made so many plans this year that didn’t come into fruition, which is hard for me, as an avid planner. I’m also trying to learn to be better at “go with the flow.” J is so darn spontaneous, and I admire and also deplore that about him. I so badly want to be like that, but it’s also kind of maddening at times.

I feel like I’m on a constant quest to declutter and minimize, and I don’t even know how it’s possible when we went from comfortably living in 800 square feet a year ago to now being in nearly 2700 square feet, and I definitely feel more overwhelmed and swallowed up here than I did there. Like how? And why isn’t it possible to get rid of all. the. stuff?

And at the same time I feel like we need more space because I don’t even know where to put kids at this point.

Sweet M just started sleeping on his own this past week, and I put him in B’s room because I don’t want him sharing a room with Bean because she sleeps so darn well that I don’t want to mess it up. And H deserves her own space; she’s 9 and entering tweendom and I want her to have that space. But omg. Mr. B and Sweet M really do love each other, but they also butt heads and should not share a room. Fortunately M is young enough now that all of his toys are pretty much downstairs and his clothes are in Bean’s room, so basically he is just in there to sleep but there have been a lot of sad, “I don’t even have a bedroom!” moments from him and that’s a little gut-wrenching. Though again, I try to remind myself of how good they have it, and that lots of kids share bedrooms (myself having been included!) and it’s totally fine, if not actually beneficial for them in the long run.

But omg. Some days these things just seem so huge. And other days, of course, they don’t. Some days I laugh at how worried I get about such trivial things, and then I just blame pregnancy hormones. And exhaustion. And the deep fear of failing the only thing I’ve ever felt passionate about, which is mothering these sweet humans.

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I could say more right now. There is a million things running through my head and this is only the tip of the iceberg. But I knew I needed to sit down and at least start somewhere. For my own sanity. But all the tiny humans are asleep and there is a million other things I need to do right now: order scholastic books, do the dishes, put laundry away, vacuum, and pack lunches. And my bed time is in like 30 minutes so I need to go at the pace of Wonder Woman. Or a cheetah.

I wonder which is fastest when it comes to trying to catch up?