Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adventures in Potty Training

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NO ONE likes potty training.  It can be such a frustrating and cumbersome parenting task.  But, at some point you have to bite the bullet and do it.  We have been working with Ellie for a while here and there around the house.  The little potties have been out upstairs and downstairs for a few months now.  Ellie has been showing a lot of interest in them and what everyone does exactly in the bathroom.  Having a big brother has probably helped too! 

I am by no means a potty training expert, but these are some of the tips that I can share…

I had a lot of success with both kids, even with their totally different personalities.  I knew they were ready when Bradley kept going into the playroom to poop when he was two, and I figured if he can go and hide he can go on the potty too!  Ellie started doing the same thing in the past few months.  She would go and hide behind the couch and say, “going poopy mommy.”  Plus I figured summertime would be the perfect time to tackle it with her.  I chose this past week because Bradley is doing an all day camp and I would be able to stick around the house with Ellie.

First we stayed home for five days in a row.  I know that totally stinks, but it worked!  We just played a bunch at home, and let her run around without a diaper on.  We would play outside, do crafts, paint, anything to keep her entertained while working with her.  She definitely had a bunch of accidents the first two days.  She peed in the grass a few times, once in the sandbox, and unfortunately once on the couch.  But, she also had a lot of success.  We would do the potty cheer, jump around, hug her, give high fives, skittles, and if she pooped she got a toy from the toy basket.

With Bradley I would set the timer for every 30 minutes and have him sit on the potty.  He usually always went a little bit and I would give him an m+m.  With Ellie that hasn’t quite worked.  She will resist if I ask her too often and then flat out refuse to go.  So I kept her naked, but backed off with the questioning.  When I would see that she probably needed to go I would ask her if she wanted to play on the ipad and sit on the potty.  She has also done better with putting the little potty in the bathroom.  She likes to be in there alone and then come running out screaming, “I did it mommy!!!!!!!!!”

After four days I introduced underwear.  That is the next phase for my kiddos.  They have to learn how to take it on and off and that it isn’t going to hold anything! 

Today we tried an outing to the library with her underwear on, and she did great!  I think the last phase is learning how to get them out and about.  This is the hardest part for the parents.  I have a little travel potty that I keep in the car, and we used it before we went into the library.  We are going to a little play studio tomorrow and that will be a huge step.  Little by little the outings will increase and I will keep the potty and a change of clothes in the car for a long time. 

I just try to remember that there will be accidents and bumps in the road.  A few of the days at home she didn’t have one accident at all, and then Wednesday morning she woke up and pooped right on the family room rug.  It can be so frustrating, but I try to tell myself that she is having to re-learn something she has been doing for over two years. 

I also try to remember that no one goes to college in diapers.  At some point everyone gets it.  hopefully right?!

We haven’t really done anything exciting this week, just lots of potty trips and potty talk and big girl princess underwear.  Their little bums sure do look cute in those undies though!  love, Clare         

Monday, June 18, 2012

Swimming and Swing Sets

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Life doesn’t get much better than this.  Spending the first week of summer with all three kiddos.  We visited the gym, the pool (the water is freezing!!) and the spray park.  We made Styrofoam stampers, father’s day gifts, beaded necklaces, and discovery bottles.  A project a day was my goal!  We already checked off quite a few things from our summer bucket list.  The kids had a blast at the spray park on Friday and we got to meet up with a bunch of our buddies which always makes things more exciting.  When the water got a bit too chilly they decided to have some races in the fields.  Summer fun at its finest.

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Having the nanny this summer has already been such a huge help.  She stayed with Gracie while we were at the park and Gracie was able to have her morning nap and not sweat in the hot sun.  It is just giving us a lot of flexibility and giving me opportunities to do fun outings without the added pressure of napping, feeding, and carrying along a baby.  This little mama has also really blossomed with all of the one on one attention and time with her big brother.  Her enthusiasm is contagious if you can’t tell?!

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Chris spent all of last week, literally every single night before bed, after putting the kids to bed, and coming home from work early two days to finish this monstrosity…

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It was over 400 pieces of wood and more screws than I have ever seen.  The kids are in LOVE with it and have spent every moment of the weekend playing on it.  First thing Saturday and Sunday morning they were out there climbing, swinging, and laughing.  It has a picnic table underneath, two levels for climbing, and Ellie calls it her castle.  I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned it, but Chris is an amazing father and this is just one of the thousands of examples.

The second week of summer has been spent potty training Ellie………..booo and yay!!  She is doing well, today she was extremely successful.  More on that fun adventure later, right now I am happy to reminisce of our first fun week of summer!

love, clare

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It’s Official

I’m the Mom of a KINDERGARTENER!!!!!!!!!!!  I think I am still in shock.  What happened to this little toddler that went to his first little Toddler Class just a few short years ago?

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Getting ready for his first day in the Toddler Class, September 2008, Bradley was 20 months old.

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First day of the Twos and Threes Class, September 2009, Bradley was 2 1/2 years old.

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First day of the Three Year Old Class in our brand new house and at his new preschool, Millstone of Ivy.  Bradley was 3 1/2 years old, August 2010.

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I am so upset that I don’t have “first day of preschool” picture from this year!  Bradley had a horrible fever and missed the first few days of school, and I think I totally forgot about it once we finally got him better!  This was from August of 2011, Bradley is 4 1/2 years old.

He has changed so much this year!  He has gained 10 lbs. since the fall!!  He is taller than a lot of his classmates!  He lost his first tooth, became a big brother for the second time, and was so sweet last night at graduation.  We had the nanny come for the girls since it was from six to seven.  Chris and I really got to be in the moment with Bradley and just enjoy it!  We stopped in front of his school for some photos before the big event! 

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Is this really how it happens?  They are little itty bitty toddlers that capture your heart and then you whisk them off on the bus and they go to school all week? Someone pinch me! 

I just want to keep him just like he is…sweet, gentle, kind, a wonderful friend and sibling, a huge helper around the house, a joy to be with at all times, smart, inquisitive, patient with me and Ellie, a little bit nervous (but getting better at this), a total and absolute rule follower to the 100th degree, the little boy that made me a mama.  I couldn’t be more proud!

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The graduation program was so sweet!  There wasn’t a dry in the house.  They gave us a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” and “You are My Sunshine” –I mean really, cut this mommy a break!  And the sweetest song called “I’ve Been Going To My Preschool”  to the tune of “I’ve been working on the Railroad.”  It brought down the house! 

Then each child stood proudly, stated their full name in front of the entire crowd and received their diploma.

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Here he is getting his Graduation hug and kiss from the beloved “Ms. Katey.”  Doesn’t she just look like the most awesome preschool teacher?  She has been there for over 13 years!

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It is always a blessing when you send your child to school every day and you know they are being loved by such a wonderful individual.  I hope all of his school experiences are this positive!  Some of his best little buddies, Case and Gage. 

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As I flip by through the pictures sometimes I just can’t believe how lucky we are.  Three beautiful and healthy kids, and I know how special it is that I have been able to be home with his all of this time.  From the moment he was born, five and a half years later.  That is something special, and I know I will forever hold the precious moments in my heart.  Soon enough summer will zoom by and I will be taking pictures of him boarding the bus for Kindergarten.  And I don’t know if my Mommy heart can handle it!

I love you sweet boy, Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and the little young man you have turned into.  xoxoxo to the moon and back…

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Summer Bucket List

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Summer at our house is all of two days away and I had a little mini FREAK out last night!  What are we going to do all summer?  How will I keep these children occupied, happy, and keep myself sane in the process? I want to have fun and make some memories without overwhelming myself and the kiddos. 

So the inner and forever dorky teacher in me decided to get to work.  We need a schedule…a weekly one, a daily one, and a summer goal list of things we want to do before the end of August. 

I started with our Summer List.  I looked around online, on Pinterest, and blogs and found a lot of inspiration.  Some people are so, so creative with their summer lists; they hang actual buckets, post-its, popsicle sticks, and paint old beat up buckets from the thrift store.  Since it was eight at night and I figured the thrift stores were closed, I decided to keep it simple.  A big piece of white paper and pack of markers would do.  I broke our list down into four categories: activities, outings, crafts, and treats/cooking.  Since the children are still very young I kept things very simple.  I picked things that wouldn’t require a lot of prep or materials.  Most of the crafts I purchased pre-packaged at Michaels on Monday or they are things I already have around the house.  All of the outings are in our town or under an hour drive from our house.  All of the activities are super, super easy…movie night and breakfast for dinner.  Simple things that the kids get such a kick out of!  Bradley LOVED listening to the list this morning at breakfast.  Ellie hardly noticed it, so there you have it, one child is really going to enjoy my inner dorky teacher this summer!

Then I created a VERY loose daily schedule and general weekly activities.  I printed it out and hung it on the frig:    

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Our Summer Schedule

7-8:30 Breakfast, Get Dressed, Brush Teeth

8:30-9:30 Organized Outdoor or Indoor Playtime

9:30 Snack and Prepare for Morning Outing  (prep for the pool or trip)

10-1 Morning Outing and Lunch (lunch at the pool or out)

1-3 Naps and Rest Time

3-4 Snack and Watch a Show (everyone wakes up at different times so I gave this a big window)

4-5:30 Afternoon Free Play or Outing (usually play in the basement or backyard)

5:30 Dinner

6:30 Bath and Bed

Monday: Mommy’s morning out

Tuesday:  Pool or Pre-Planned Activity/Play date

Wednesday: ACAC and Pool Afternoon: Library

Thursday: ACAC and Pool

Friday: Field Trip/Outing in Town

Under our daily schedule I hung up a blank June calendar.  I started to fill in some of the play dates we already have lined up, Bradley’s upcoming camp, etc.  It is going to get filled in each upcoming week so the kids can see what we have going on that month.  I am going to try to put our bucket list items on there to make sure we get to them all!  I found a free website that lets you print out calendars to fill it, bonus!!

This is of course all very, very flexible and it may change once we get into the full swing of summer.  I just really wanted to have an outline for us to go by and not feel like the weeks were just whizzing by unstructured.  I have also noticed that Bradley and Ellie seem to really go after each other on the weekends when they have a lot of down time to just play (mostly Ellie terrorizes Bradley).  I figured some structure wouldn’t hurt!

The inner teacher in me is off to plan out some more stuff…

Happy Summer!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Insta Weekend

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This weekend was just the way I like it; the weather was stunning and we didn’t have one plan or commitment.  Sometimes I find myself overbooked. Dinners out, babysitters, play dates and birthday parties.  It makes me really enjoy the weekends when we are just free to have our own agenda and just be.  It also helps when the weather is absolutely breathtaking and you have this little park right behind your house.

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Have a mentioned how much I LOVE Mint Springs.  Sweeping views of the blue ridge mountains, a lake, a beach, hiking trails, creeks, bridges, and a playground.  It is a little jewel of a place that happens to be on the road behind our neighborhood.  I hope my children grow up and realize how lucky they are to have lived in such an amazing place.  We might not have everything at our fingertips (like good shopping), but we do have beauty!

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This little girl has learned how to sit up so well now!  Gracie was awfully proud of herself while we picnicked at Mint Springs.  She was dressed in one of Bradley’s old outfits on Saturday.  It makes me reminisce and realize how quickly everything is going by.  In four days he will be done with preschool and I will officially be the mom of a rising Kindergartener.  Yikes!

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Sunday was just as unplanned and just as lazy.  The weather was crisp and Ellie and I headed out to one of the two large ponds in our neighborhood.  This one has a long dock and backs up to the golf course.  The views are incredible.  We looked for fish, threw them chex mix, dangled our feet over the dock and talked about life.  Well, mostly about a two year olds’ life which consists of , Where’d the birdie go?  I see fishies!!  More chex mix Mommy, and other important life topics.  She really thrives with one on one attention.  Lately everything has been "Mommy DO ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.”  Which is super sweet and super annoying.  Especially when it involves everything from brushing teeth to changing diapers.  I think she is really starting to notice the attention that Gracie gets and feeling like she is pushed aside at times.  I need to be more aware of each of my child’s needs.  I spend so much of my day taking care of the basics, food, meals, drinks, diapers, but there is so much more to motherhood than just those things. 

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Our view from the dock…

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Two year old feet and sparkling water!

One of the sweetest moments this weekend was on Saturday afternoon when Chris was quickly trying to cut the grass so the kids to come down and play.  Ellie ran into the garage to find her lawnmower and followed him around for almost 45 minutes on and off. 

Ellie cutting the grass, June 2012

With Gracie’s amazing sitting skills we piled all of the children in the tub for their first bath together. 

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Sometimes it is the little things that are the big things.  A weekend of nothing and everything.  I love it!