Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hippity, Hop!

Easter this year was our first with two kiddos!  Unfortunately, I worked the night before, so our normal routine of morning church, then dinner at home, then hunting for Easter eggs at our house didn't happen.  That's okay.  I'm quite a planner, so I made sure the Easter baskets were ready, and that the kiddos would still have a great Easter.  

The weekend before Easter, our church, Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, had a family Easter celebration with a movie about the meaning of Easter, an egg hunt, arts & crafts stations, a pancake breakfast, face painting, baby chicks, rescue vehicles outside, and the Easter bunny. It was supposed to be outdoors, but the weather this spring hasn't been too cooperative in the Midwest, so an inside celebration it was.

Unfortunately, I worked the night before and went straight to the event after getting home.  I think I got into bed at around 1:30pm that day.  But it was so worth it.  Caiden had an amazing time, and Lakelie... well, she slept through the whole thing :)  The video is at the end of our day, and you can see how tough the egg hunt was.  Caiden had so much fun, though!

The only time Caiden will ever sit in the back of a police car :) 
Caiden's favorite part of the day! 
Ready to "find" eggs!
Got my bunny ears and my basket...
Mom, this basket is as big as me!
Oh, I wish you could have seen the terror on his face when he came close to the K-Love monkey!
Like I said before, I worked the night before Easter, so I slept all morning.  We decided to go to the evening Easter service at church, wearing our new Easter outfits.  This year, the color scheme was salmon and navy.  I know that one day, I will have little (if any) choice in what my kids wear, so for now, I take advantage of their willingness to be my dress-up dolls!  They looked adorable, and the sun was out long enough for a few family photos outside of our house.  It was much cooler than it looked, but the kiddos did not seem to mind.   

Sibling love.

We went to the Easter service at church, then had the kiddos open up their Easter baskets in the memorable area of the parking lot.  It was still daylight, and we knew that by the time we got home, the sun would be gone.  So, the kids got their baskets, Lakelie's first time seeing hers, and they excitedly dumped out the contents and found their favorites.  Lakelie loved chewing on her new sunglasses and shaking one of the eggs in her basket.  Caiden was immediately drawn to his new puzzles, his current obsession. 

Easter is so fun!
Can I crack it?

What says Easter better than mother/daughter espadrilles?
Then, to find somewhere to eat on the way home.  Oh, it's Easter and nearly everything is closed!  So, our Easter dinner consisted of Five Guys.  Not too "Eastery" but delicious!!

It isn't ham with all the trimmings, but it sure was yummy!
Then, we went home, tried on a couple of Easter gifts, and called it a day.  A successful Easter in my book!

Monday, April 1, 2013

5 Years!

March 29, 2008
Ryan and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on March 29.  How quickly these last five years have gone!  We seem to have crammed about as much as we could have in such a short amount of time.  Moving three times and finally buying a house.  Getting our furchild. My going back to school and graduating with my nursing degree.  My starting an amazing job.  Ryan getting laid off, then finding his current amazing job.  Having our first baby, and then our second... and so much more is to come!

My work schedule for the week wasn't the most conducive for celebrating, as I worked Wednesday & Thursday night, had off Friday (our anniversary), worked Saturday, off Sunday, and worked Monday & Tuesday nights.  Not great.  And on my "days off" I sleep.  And when I'm awake, I'm tired.  So, the what-to-do-for-anniversary conversations had kind of come to a stop.  I just figured we would do something the following weekend. Well, Ryan had something else in mind.  Unbeknown to me, he had been planning every detail for quite some time.

Like I said before, I worked the night before, and as I trudged my way out of the hospital at 7:45am, I headed to my car in the garage.  I got in and was surprised to find an envelope, flowers, a suitcase, and my pillow.  Inside the envelope was a card and my itinerary for the day.

I was instructed to go to a hotel to sleep for the day.  The kiddos were at home with a sitter since their school was closed for Good Friday, and I have a difficult time getting solid sleep when they are at home.  This would be heavenly!  And I was also instructed to order room service for breakfast.  What a treat!  

The view from my amazing room.  Not too shabby!
Much better than my normal breakfast of a granola bar.
 The final instruction I had was to be ready by 4:30 pm at our house.  In the bags were pjs to sleep in and clothes for the evening.  Ryan had bought me a new outfit... dress, shoes, jewelry, and jacket.  OH, MY!!!  The fact that he went and purchased everything, got my correct sizes, and got it all ready (steamed, etc) was amazing.  On top of taking care of the details was that the outfit was cute!!  Ryan had a little help from my amazing sister-in-law, Melissa, but for the most part took care of it all on his own.  What an amazing guy!!

The outfit!!
I slept so soundly, I was a little late waking up.  I got ready and headed back to the house. Ryan was ready to go, dressed in a suit, with a freshly cleaned vehicle.  Our favorite non-family sitter was there with the kids, for an all-nighter.  Ryan prepped her and I was at ease, knowing the kids were going to be well-taken care of while we were gone that night. 

We headed out and drove to our first surprise destination, the Southmoreland on the Plaza.  It is this cozy little B&B tucked away right off the Plaza.  I have lived in KC for 15 years, and had been in this area for a while, and I had never heard of or seen the Inn.  Well, it was amazing.  We checked in, took our bags to our room, the Carriage House, and got ready for dinner.  

The weather was beautiful, low 70s with a bit of a breeze, so we headed out on foot.  Ryan had even remembered to bring me comfy flats to walk in.  How thoughtful!!  We strolled through the Plaza to our dinner location, which ended up being The Chaz in the Raphael Hotel.  I have heard good things before, but had never been.  It's not really the kind of place you take kiddos, so we had not had the opportunity in the past few years to try it out.  Well, let me tell you... DE - LICIOUS!  It was way more fancy-shmancy than we were used to.  I felt like I should know all about wines and rare cheeses and caviar, but we made it our own.  

We started with the Crab Cake appetizer, then two Chaz Salads.  I ordered the Berkshire Pork Chop, which came with a sweet potato ragu on risotto, a goat cheese filled arancini, and a date demi glace. Ryan had the Aged Prime Beef Tenderloin, which came with a brie-stuffed potato croquette, grilled asparagus, and a smoked sea salt demi glace.  But more fantastic than the food was the conversation.  I do not remember the last time Ryan and I had a full conversation without being interrupted by a toddler or infant.  It was nice to have a leisurely dinner, to take our time strolling around through the Plaza, and laughing and holding hands like we were dating.  What a treat!

Obviously, I enjoyed my dinner!

We took another walk through the Plaza back to the Southmoreland, just in time for their late night "happy hour," consisting of coffee/hot chocolate/tea and freshly baked cookies.  I didn't really have room for more food, but the smell was too good to resist!  

The next morning (after a full night's sleep, uninterrupted by any kiddo or dog), we woke up and went down to breakfast at the main house.  French toast stuffed with shaved ham and gruyere cheese, banana-mango frappes, juice/tea/coffee, and chocolate zucchini bread.  So good... I'm going to attempt to replicate that french toast very soon!

Our lives are very different, seven years after we met.  I don't think that I thought life could be this great after being married for five years, but it is.  I love my messy house, chaotic schedule, yoga pant wardrobe, and outings to Target.  But it is such a nice reminder to remember where it all started.  When two people fell in love and decided to say "I do" not too much later.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Egg Artist

Since Easter is only a few days away, I figured I'd have Caiden decorate Easter Eggs.  In my mind (which is constantly thinking about how I can "Pinterest" upgrade something), I'm hoping to get a photo of how the kids decorated Easter Eggs each year and compare them.  If I was really wanting to rock the Pinterest world, I'd probably save the Easter egg shells each year and shellac them or something and use them as decorations so when the kids get married they can have their own Easter eggs they made over a couple of decades as decoration.  Ha.

Anyway, for a two year old, I kept it simple.  
Hard-boiled eggs.  Food coloring.  Markers.  Stickers.  

ROY G BIV... keeping it simple

Waiting is the hardest part!

Mom, can I decorate?  Don't mind the dirty Christmas jammies or the food on the (super cute) face or the hair with a mind of its own. We're dying eggs, you know?  And this is probably the messiest corner of the house.  I'm not trying to portray my house or life as clutter-less or pristine.  Because we're not.  As a family with a toddler, an infant, plus a 90 pound chocolate lab, we're too busy having fun :)

  I wrote each family member's name on the egg, and Caiden decorated them with stickers and (abstract) drawings. 

 Caiden loves cracking raw eggs to cook with, and he thought these would crack the same way.  After a little adjustment on technique, he removed the shell.  I cut off a bite and offered it to him, but he had changed his mind.  Caiden has never tried a hard boiled egg, and today was not going to be any different.  

Our finished product turned out pretty cute for the 30 minutes we put into it and for the skills of a busy momma and a two year old!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Go Pee-Pee in the Potty!

So, I'm the type of person who does not like to announce when a potential success or failure is coming up.  I don't like getting my (and others') hopes up... just in case I happen to swing and miss.  Interviews, exams, trying to get pregnant, evaluations... it's all the same.  I have a VERY small group of confidantes that I give out information to, ask for prayer from, and use as my sounding board.  So, in the same fashion, I have waited until after the fact of the success that... CAIDEN IS POTTY TRAINED!! Well, daytime at least.  We're waiting for night time training until I have another big opening in my schedule to focus attention on (and be allowed to lose a little more sleep than usual). 

He had been showing the "signs" of readiness: interest in his potty chairs (that we had put out since he was 18 months) and Mom & Dad when we went potty, able to manipulate his clothes and follow instructions, blah, blah, blah.  Honestly, I'm not sure that a kiddo MUST have all of those things to be successful in potty training, but they sure don't hurt.  He had been acting ready, and Mom & Dad were ready, to be done with diapers since before he turned two.  We had a timeline at daycare, however, that we had to follow.  The class he was in at that time did not have a bathroom, so until he moved to the next room, they could not help us.  So, we decided to wait a few weeks until he graduated to the room with the adjacent potty.   

As a full-time night shift nurse with a varying schedule, it took some looking around to find the right time to start, but there it was: a Friday/Saturday/Sunday off when we could dive in deep to the unknown world of Potty Training! I had researched quite a bit on what "method" to use, as there is an overload of opinions out there (and plenty of people to tell you that whatever way you're doing it, you're wrong). So, we began with what I found that seemed to fit into our life and what I thought would work for Caiden.  Caiden was 26 months when we potty trained.  And on a side note, my daughter Lakelie was 6 months old at the time, and she was with us the whole time. And here is what we did:

I loosely chose the "method" based off of the 1970s book "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" by Nathan Azrin.  I actually just checked out the book from our library, and although it was the original version (and the book looked like it had seen many, many efforts of training with dog-tagged pages and faded covers), the principles still worked.  I just adapted it to our decade and our family. The book suggests training between 2-3 years, and that boys are usually on the later side.  So, the following is what WORKED FOR US.  I am not suggesting that it will work for every kiddo or that my way is the best way.  The following is what I lovingly now call my Potty Training Boot Camp. 

General Principles:

>The book suggests having uninterrupted time with the kiddo all day long.  If you have more than one child, get someone else to watch them.  Well, I get the point, but I don't have the luxury to just ship off Lakelie to get a little Mommy/Caiden time.  And we were starting on a Friday, so the Hubs wasn't going to be home.  So, we were going to manage with the three of us.  As soon as Ryan got home, he took over Lakelie duty; Ryan also watched Lakelie all day on Saturday and Sunday, so Caiden & I could focus on the task at hand.
>Along with the first principle, STAY FOCUSED.  Make sure lunch & dinner require very little.  I had mine made ahead so a quick heat-up in the microwave was all we needed.  Keep phone calls/texting to a minimum, if not nonexistent.  As soon as you turn your head from the ever-moving toddler, an accident will happen... especially in these first few hours and days. Again, I am realistic and with a 6 month along for the potty training ride, I had to take moments away from Caiden to feed, change, or attend to Lakelie.  We may have encountered 1 or 2 more accidents, but we made it work.  

The Stuff We Gathered:

>Book/Notes/Plan & a Notebook to keep track of the day (I flipped back and forth through that book and my notes many times!)
>Potty Chair ("Little Potty") & Potty Seat (for "Big Potty")
>Pee & Stay Dry Prizes (M&Ms)
>Poop Prizes (Hot Wheels, toy dinosaurs, Mini Play Doh, coloring book, crayons, a variety of items from the $1 aisle at Target)
>Big Boy Underwear
>Drinks & Snacks (water, crackers, pretzels, chips, fruit, etc.)
>Potty Chart & Stickers
>Teddy & a syringe of water (to make Teddy go "pee")

The Goods

The Day (or Week) Before:

Get all your stuff together and your plan laid out.  Make sure your partner or support persons are on board.  Know what is going to happen and when.  Make notes.  Pray.

I went to the library a week before and checked out as many kiddie potty books and DVDs as I could find.  We started reading and watching them as soon as I brought them home.  Caiden is not allowed much tv time (Sesame Street only most days), so the videos were a treat.  And he also LOVES books, so new ones were greatly welcomed! We talked it up way more than normal about going potty, Mom & Dad's big girl/boy undies, and everything else we could think of. I also got crafty and made a Pee Prize jar and a Poop Prize tub, along with a sticker chart, to entice Caiden to strive for successful potty time!

We were going to start on a Friday morning, so on Thursday evening, I picked up Caiden from school a little early, and we went to Target.  He loves when he gets Mom/Caiden time since Lakelie takes quite a bit of my attention these days :)  I told him we were going to get big boy undies and prizes for going pee and poop on the potty.  I let him choose most of his prizes, all of his undies (Sesame Street & cars/trucks), and snacks for potty training time.  I'm pretty sure he had no idea what was going on, but what 2 year old is going to pause when told to choose whatever toys/foods/undies he wants?!? We got home and put all of the M&Ms in the Pee Prize jar, the toys in the Poop Prize tub, and the snacks on the counter.  That night we did our bedtime routine like normal, and I anxiously awaited the next morning.

Our chosen "Little Potty," Fisher Price Cheer for Me! Potty

D- (or PEE) Day:

We started our day like normal: clean diaper, good breakfast (protein & carbs, if possible), toddler chit chat with Max (our chocolate lab).  I brought down Caiden's teddy bear.  I had already put a bin of Caiden's new underwear in the bathroom downstairs, ready for use.  I showed them to Caiden, and of course he wanted to play with them.  I asked if we should put a pair on Teddy to a resounding "Yes!"  I asked if Caiden wanted to put on a pair, too, with the same response.  We changed out to only a t-shirt and big boy underwear for the rest of the day... much easier for getting on and off, and quicker change and clean-up if accidents happen. We played in the bathroom with the potty and the books I had brought in.  I had Teddy pull down his undies, sit on the potty and made him go pee in the potty by squirting a full syringe of water behind his back where Caiden couldn't see.  The potty we bought cheers when it senses liquid in the bowl, so it started singing, which caught Caiden's attention.  I said, "Look! Teddy went pee in the potty!!  Yay for Teddy!! Because Teddy went pee in the potty, he gets a pee prize!" I got the Pee Prize jar and got out two M&Ms and "fed" them to Teddy.  Then, I gave them to Caiden to eat.  Then, I said that Teddy got to put a sticker on the chart, too.  And Caiden chose one and put it up.  I said that if Caiden went pee on the potty he got a Pee Prize  and a sticker too.  I had him try, and he didn't go, but if he would have, it would have been a party!

Notice Teddy, in big boy undies, just like Caiden!

So, this is where we began the longest day of my life :)  We had a Little Potty in the bathroom (along with a potty seat) and one in the living room where we spent the whole day.  It made it that much easier for us and more of a constant reminder of the potty when it was in view. Plus, I let Caiden choose which potty he wanted to sit on: Little Potty in the bathroom, Little Potty in the family room, or Big Potty with the potty seat.  I wanted to give him as much control in this situation where he didn't have much otherwise.

We set the timer (on my phone) for 20 minutes and sat on the potty when it went off. I had Caiden try to pull down his undies (he likes them all the way off). We would sit for as long as Caiden would stay, usually about 10 minutes.  We read books, played with toys, sang songs, playing a short game on my phone, whatever kept us amused.  If there was success, I got as excited as possible (without scaring the poor child... when scared, the flow stops FYI, hehe), jumping and hip-hip-hooray-ing and hi-five-ing!!  We emptied the potty, pulled undies back up, and washed our hands (arguably, his favorite part of it all).  He chose a sticker to put on the chart and two M&Ms for his Pee Prize.  The book suggests having a list of people to call: Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles... whomever the kiddo loves.  I did this twice but honestly got lazy with this step.  This obviously wasn't Caiden's big motivator.

Our Potty Training wardrobe might not be the most fashionable, but the stickers were a hit!!
Also, a very important part of the process is staying dry.  After the first attempt sitting on the potty, I quickly used Teddy again to show this next part.  I asked, "Are Teddy's big boy undies clean & dry?" Caiden said yes, but didn't really understand yet what I was talking about.  I said, "Let's check." I felt Teddy's undies and had Caiden feel his undies and said, "Yes, Teddy is clean & dry!!  Good job, Teddy!! Teddy gets a Prize for keeping his undies clean & dry!" One M&M for Teddy, which Caiden helped him eat.  Then, I asked, "Caiden, are your big boy underwear clean & dry?"  Caiden said yes, so I felt his undies and had him feel as well.  Then, I exclaimed, "Yes!!  Your undies are clean and dry!  Way to go!!  You get a Dry Prize!!"  So Caiden got one M&M.  The reward is important, as staying dry should be the real focus throughout the day.  We have many more opportunities to stay dry than to go in the potty, which makes for quicker training... just some old classic conditioning, really. By the second day, Caiden was coming up to me and saying that he was dry, while checking his undies to get one M&M, so it obviously worked.  

Next, was teaching about having an accident.  Again, Teddy enters the picture.  We were playing in the family room, and I asked, "Are Teddy's big boy underwear clean & dry? Let's check."  This time, I had already soaked Teddy's undies to make sure my point was clear on wet versus dry.  I felt and had Caiden feel.  I said, "No, Teddy's undies are not dry.  They are wet."  This is where it's time to get active.  The book says to do the following 10 times, but I chose 5 times.  Wherever Teddy had the accident, I said, "Teddy, we don't go pee pee on the floor, we go pee pee in the potty!" I held Teddy's hand, RAN to the bathroom, pulled down Teddy's undies, sat Teddy on the potty, said "We don't go pee pee on the floor, we go pee pee in the potty!" Then, quickly (without having Teddy "try" on the potty) pulled up Teddy's undies, ran back to the spot of the accident and started it all again.  FIVE times in all.  We did it as fast as possible, making sure to repeat the same chant and doing all the actions around going potty.  So, when Caiden had an accident, we did the exact same thing.  FIVE times total... it gets old really fast.  And I didn't want to do it.  I felt silly, Caiden thought it was hilarious most of the time, and I wasn't sure of the effectiveness.  But the actions and words are supposed to stick with toddlers, and he started saying it, too. And well, it did work for us.  And on a tiny side note the book reminds parents to never say, "You're gross" or "Your pee (poop) smells stinky!"  Always talk about the pee or poop being icky, not the kiddo.

If Caiden was successful on the potty, I'd set the timer for 20 minutes but ask about being dry at about 15.  Then we'd go to the potty at the 20 minute mark.  If Caiden was not successful on the potty, I'd ask about being dry in 5 minutes, and then sit on the potty 10 minutes later.  If Caiden had an accident, we'd reset the timer for 20 minutes and check dryness at 15.  With as much fluid they are drinking they're going to have to pee a ton.  Hopefully, you get it (not necessarily on purpose at first) on the potty!!

Fisherman Caiden on the Big Potty
In between potty attempts and checking for dry undies, we drank and ate and drank and ate... as much as I could get in him.  Caiden only drinks water (we've tried other drinks, but he doesn't like them), but juice, chocolate milk, or other "treat" drinks are supposed to work great for keeping them gulping.  The salty snacks are a treat in our house, and they make him thirsty, so double duty there.  All the water gave us many opportunities for training.  We spent the whole day playing in the family room.  I'm pretty sure Caiden was just excited about having Mom playing on the floor with him all day long.  Puzzles, books, blocks, coloring, cars, balls... it was whatever he wanted.

We had lunch (although he wasn't hungry at all with all the snacking we did) and then took a nap like normal.  Like I said in the beginning, we haven't potty trained during naps or nighttime yet, so I just put on a diaper with his undies over it and called it good.  Hopefully, there will be another post on nap/bedtime training very soon :)

The book suggests no TV or DVDs because it is hard for toddlers to focus on their bodies when engaged in that kind of distraction.  Well, that is another place I diverted a little. After nap, he got up, and I let him watch one of the potty DVDs.  And at the end of the day as well.  But, I had him sit on the potty in the family room while watching it until he peed.  Don't judge... it worked.

While I was getting lunch ready, we brought the Little Potty to the kitchen with us!
For us, the first day went pretty well... equal numbers of potty successes and accidents.  I was so EXHAUSTED, though, that I'm pretty sure I passed out by 8:30pm.  Caiden also threw up that night in bed.  I'm 99% sure it was from all the snacks and M&Ms.  Luckily, he acted okay, so we continued on.  The 2nd day was a little harder, as the "newness" and excitement was wearing off for Caiden (and Mom).  I was sick of running back and forth, he was tired of sitting on the potty, and I wasn't sure it was going to work.  I could just put a diaper back on him and wait a couple months, right?  NO, DO NOT GO BACK TO DIAPERS!!!!! He had more successes and less accidents, so I felt a tiny bit rewarded.  The third day was when it "clicked" for him.  Only one accident and that was my fault (I wasn't paying enough attention when he was playing quietly).  As the days went on, I asked him to go sit on the potty less and less often, and he started recognizing his own body cues.  "Mom, go pee pee" is such a wonderful thing to hear!!

About POOP... Caiden didn't have the fear of pooping that I've heard some kids have.  He would just wait until bedtime.  Then, we started noticing his poop pattern.  Most kids by 2-3 have normal times when they poop.  Caiden's was (and is) after dinner and/or after breakfast.  Once we figured that out, it was pretty easy to get him used to pooping on the potty.  And when he started consistently getting Poop Prizes... he tried to go all the time :)  Even better than "Mom, go pee pee" is hearing, "Mom, go poot (poop)!"  You know you're a mom when.... right?

Who doesn't sit on the potty with a sombrero and saw?
A Few Notes:

>DON'T GIVE UP!  It's worth the pain of these first few days when you're not changing diapers all day long!
>Be consistent.  Every accident, every success, every time.
>I kept a notebook with notes on the times he sat on the potty, if there was success, when he had an accident, if he was wet/dirty after nap or night time, lunch time, etc.  It really helped me keep track of what we were doing, and it gave me some insight on trends and issues we were having.  A GREAT tip!
>I know Caiden better than any book, any previous successful mom, any doctor.  If I know something is going to work for him, I'll do it.  If it's not working, I'll adjust or stop.  Your kiddo is yours.  You know him best.  Don't feel bad for being his advocate and being the parent that you want to be.  And don't believe all the crazy parents who say, "He never had an accident and was potty trained in 4 hours at 12 months old." Yeah, right :)
>Get your husband/wife, daycare teachers, sitters, family members on board.  Especially those who watch them when you aren't there.  You don't want all of your hard work wasted on a teacher/nanny/sitter who gets distracted by texting/talking/internet surfing/etc. and doesn't keep up with the training.

And that's it!!  I say that quite sarcastically.  It is hard, draining, and frustrating... but it is so worth it!!  I already look back and have forgotten the amount of frustration that happened in that first weekend. Isn't that what moms do, though?  We now have a potty trained kiddo in our house, and hopefully there will be an update soon about being night time potty trained too.  One step at a time for me.  And like I said in the very beginning of this post, I probably won't tell you about it until we've had success :)

Proof :)