Potty Training 101 (Oh crap!!!)

It was getting closer to my dear daughter’s second birthday when I finally admitted I had put potty training off for too long. She had been displaying the “ready” signs for months now, but I wasn’t ready to lose the all-too-convenient diaper just yet. When I discovered other children her age were working on it, I decided it was time to stop dragging my feet and attempt to tackle those two most dreaded words: potty training.

The first day went great. While she did have three accidents, she also peed on her potty three times! I was more than pleased. I thought day two would be a breeze and even more successful than day one… I thought wrong.

Day two comes and I tell her to go peepee on her potty. And she refuses. I think maybe she doesn’t have to go yet… Hours go by, and nothing happens. I’m pouring water and juice down her throat in hopes she’ll have to use the potty soon…

“Finally!” I think, “She has to pee.” We can make some more progress…. Until I have her sit on her potty and she starts screaming like it’s a torture device (I mean, the girl can scream). She then proceeds to slam her potty shut and bang her head repeatedly on it. (Oh, the struggle, right?)

At this point, I am determined to make this second day a success instead of a regress. So I wait for the fit to subside, and open her potty and sit her back on it. She then decides it’s a great time to do the “hot dog” dance and starts running around the house like a Comanche yelling “Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!” (Dang you, Mickey) Mid one of her rounds, she pees on the floor. It goes without saying, day two was not a success… Unless you count farting on the pot a success. Because each time she had to “toot,” by Golly, she would sit on her potty for that!

Once we made it through the horrors of day two and her refusals to go anywhere near her potty and after hours of no accidents and no attempts to use the potty, I decided it was time for a bathroom lockdown. And I literally shut her in the bathroom with me and her potty for an entire hour. Boy, was that fun! Let me tell you…

It was hard… so hard… to keep her in the bathroom (she can open doors). To keep her out of the shower. To keep her from having fun. She thought the whole experience was hilarious. Needless to say, shower and bedtime came and she still didn’t use the potty that entire day. Unless you count farting…

The next morning, however, we made progress! She pooped and peed on her potty!!! (Probably from holding it the entire day before…) I also broke out the M&Ms (thanks, Laura; you’re my hero!) which really got her interested… (Probably should have tried that Day 2). As I have gone back to work, my nanny, mother, and husband had the responsibility of continuing this training. At first no day was perfect, but she was attempting to use her potty and succeeding a lot of the time! And that’s all a mom can really ask during this dreaded training process.

Now, she can go peepee by herself (insert applause). With panties, it’s a little bit harder because she can’t yet pull them all the way down by herself, so she still needs a little help. And more often than not, I’m ever so fortunate that she chooses to save her actual poop time for when I’m home to clean it out of her potty. Lucky, lucky me. (Why did I decide it was time to get rid of diapers again??)

In the end, my girl is potty trained before two years old, and I couldn’t be a prouder mama! (But still, those diapers were just so easy…)

pottytraining

 

The Pregnant Lady Ugly-Crying at the Mall

Yes, I was six months pregnant, alone, and ugly-crying in the middle of the mall the Saturday before school started. You can imagine the looks I received… I’m sure people thought my baby daddy had just abandoned me… Or maybe they actually thought I was an over-hormonal and emotional pregnant lady crying over something trivial… The reason may or may not really be the latter.

Anyways, it was the weekend a local radio station had set up in the center of the mall to hand out school supplies to students in need. I did not know this prior to going, but when I showed up and there were lines of people from the center of the mall clear to the end of one wing, I became a little curious as to what was going on. So I continued my walk to the maternity store, did my shopping, went to get a pretzel, and in all of this time, the lines were still just as long. They were never ending.

So I sat. I looked at the innocent faces of the children in line as I snacked on my pretzel, and I began to cry. Not just one or two tears. I mean I bawled. Because here I was buying myself new pants and eating a pretzel, while these innocent children waited hours for a pack of pencils and paper. 

I wept for those kids who have needs that I will never know. I wept for the parents who can’t provide their families. I wept for the families who may not have food to eat or warm places to sleep. I wept for all of the needs I will never know. Then I wept for my own kids and how much they already have and how, hopefully, they will never experience these needs. I wept for all of the kids who have never felt loved. And I wept for my kids who only know love.

Each year my church shows a video of them handing out hundreds and hundreds of backpacks to the kids in our area, and each year I cry watching that video. But seeing it in person was such a humbling experience.  I think about how much I take for granted. How often I forget to be thankful. How the small things to me are big things to others…

So, yes, I was the pregnant lady ugly-crying at the mall on one of its busiest days of the year…

Mom Guilt and God’s Grace

Mom Guilt and God’s Grace

Mom guilt is a real thing. It’s serious and has the potential to weigh you down and break your heart. It is a feeling I experience quite often, daily even.

When I have to go to work, but she wants me to watch the cheeps… or play babies… or she wants to hold my hair… Oh, Lord, please let me stay with her just a little while longer.

When she is being overly needy and I have a job to do, like fix dinner, or go to the restroom, or grade papers… I just want to hold her and play with her all evening, but how can I do it all? What am I doing wrong?

When I didn’t get to spend enough time with her, because I had to mop or switch laundry and do dishes before going to pick her up… Now it’s close to bed time… Will she even remember who I am in the morning?? Did I make enough of a positive impact on her life today?

After I let her try pudding for a snack… Omigoodness! What was I thinking?! Why did I let her have that? Now she’s seriously not going to eat anything but junk. What if she develops diabetes now?! Why can’t I be a mom that does all organic, gluten-free stuff? I need to be a better mom. 

When she is about to fall asleep for the night and I remember I forgot to brush her teeth… I am a horrible mom. What if she gets tooth decay or cavities… Will I ever get it all together?!

Regrets and guilt can eat you alive. They can make you feel like the worst parent ever. Luckily, little ones soon forget your shortcomings and errors and, tomorrow morning, they will cling to you just like they did this morning. Their resilience reminds me of the grace that our Lord so freely gives.

Not only do we mess up as parents, but we mess up as Christians, as people (or at least I know I do) and far too often.

I am grateful for a God who understands that I am bound to make mistakes and do things that I will regret. I am grateful for my Lord who forgives me when I fail Him and others. I am grateful for a Savior who shed His blood, His life, for mine. So that I may live. When I think about the bigger picture, I realize God’s grace is enough.

If he sees my failures and accepts my shortcomings, if he forgives me, then I can forgive myself, right? If I am enough for Him, then I am enough, period. He made me in His image; so in His image, I am perfect. I am so grateful for this grace that I do not deserve, both from Him and my daughter.

Why I Teach

For those of you who know me or follow my blog, you know that being a mother is my absolute #1 priority. You also know that I’ve struggled in the past with being a working mom. You know that I’ve prayed for the Lord to change my husband’s heart so that he would see what a value I could be as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).  It wasn’t until recently, that I realized I was praying the wrong prayer. So I began praying a little bit different prayer.

Instead, I began to pray that He use me for His purpose (whether that be as a SAHM or a teaching mom). I prayed that He would guide my family in all things. And I told God that I know He has great plans for my family, and that I trust His plans. And what happened? Instead of my husband’s heart changing, mine did…

Yes, I still love my daughter as much as I did. In fact, I still love her more every single day. But I know while I’m back at work, she is so loved. She is taken care of. She is fed.  And she is adored. I’m so grateful for my family for taking such good care of her as I go back to work…

As I go back to my students who aren’t always fed, who aren’t always taken care of, who aren’t always loved. Man. What a thought. I tear up just typing that. But it’s the truth.

It is here that I wonder what have I done to deserve all of the blessings I’ve been given in my life… when some of my students have never even heard Your name—unless used in the form of a cuss word… It’s here that I praise You for all that You are, and all that You do, and I thank You that my daughter was trusted to me… It’s here that my heart aches for those who don’t have the loving family she has, for those who don’t have money for school supplies, for those who are just trying to survive each day.

I realize that as a teacher it is my duty to try to direct my students to be the best that they can be. To do the best that they can do. To find the best in themselves. To make them believe that there is good in them. I know some educators believe that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” Honestly, I had started to think that too.

But as I start this year, knowing it is my choice to come to school and teach, I have a new attitude. Thanks to Manny Scott, I’ve been encouraged to be the light. To be the salt. True, you can’t make a horse drink… But you can make him thirsty! (Find the salt. Be the salt.)

So it is here that I ask God to help me to make my students thirsty. Thirsty for education. Thirsty for more out of life. Thirsty for You. God, help me to be the light in these children’s very dark lives and help them to be open to ideas and open to believing in themselves and even open to believing in You. I pray that I can continue to be a light in my own growing family’s lives as well, and I thank You for giving my children many lights. And I pray that You work in their lives and in their hearts as well as my students. Please continue to mold me into what You have planned for me to be.

So now that my opportunity to be a SAHM mother has become more feasible and more of a possibility, maybe my heart has changed. Again, I do not love my own kids any less; I just realize I have so much love to give, and I don’t want to waste my talent or my purpose. I pray the Lord keeps my fire burning, and allows me to be a light in my students’ lives.

Moral of the story? Working moms can do it all. I’ve seen it done, and I hope that I can do it too!  On the plus side, as a teacher, I am so very grateful to get summers and holidays off with my children; I feel like teaching is the ultimate mom career, because I feel like I truly am getting the best of both worlds. I just hope that as my children grow they will appreciate this choice and be proud of their working (sometimes not working) mom who does love them more than anything else in this world.

“If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.”

Baby #2 Anxieties

Baby #2 Anxieties

As my little family of three is making plans, changes, and room to soon become a family of four, I have many internal anxieties about this expansion.

First of all, when deciding to have a second, I tried researching the perfect age between siblings… And to save you the research time, I couldn’t find a definite answer. It’s all a matter of opinion.

I am glad we chose to do this sooner than later so that my kids have the chance to play together while they’re young and, hopefully, still have things in common when they’re older: experiences neither my husband or I had with our siblings (for the most part), because of such large age gaps.

But then I worry my first child hasn’t had enough time with me yet. I enjoy being all hers, being at her beck and call, and organizing my life around her needs and desires. I don’t want to take anything away from her: attention, love, care, or especially me. I am afraid I’ll have to somehow divide these things when the new baby arrives… And I’m not sure that she’s ready… or that I’m ready to split myself.

We agree, we want our kids to grow up together. We strongly want them to be best friends one day and always look out for each other, even if they fight some at home.

Then, we also don’t want them to ever feel jealous of the other. We want them close enough to want the best for each other and not compare the things we do for each of them. (Hopefully, this will be easier since one is a girl and the other is a boy? Maybe?)

Then I worry about my first child’s feelings. We don’t want Mason to feel left out or abandoned by gaining a new sibling, we don’t want her to lose the undivided attention she has currently, and we don’t want her to ever feel like second best. Because, honestly, a new baby will take a lot of time; I just don’t want it to take time away from her… What if she gets pushed to the back burner and feels jealous, angry, or bitter? How can I ensure she still feels like our number one? After all, she is the one who made me a mother, the one who taught me to love so selflessly, and the one who I adore with all that I am. She is my first love.

On that note, I also worry about loving a second child. I love Mason more than I could EVER possibly even try to put down in writing. There’s no end and no way to measure my love for her. If I love her so completely, so fully, then how could I possibly love the second child the same way or the same amount? I’m so worried about Mason being left out, but what if it’s actually our second child that is left out? Don’t get me wrong, I already love him and haven’t even met him yet… But will my love for him compare to my love for her?

These are probably (hopefully) nonsense worries that moms with two or more children will laugh at. I hope my worries are put to rest, I hope I can be everything that each of my children need, and I hope to shape them into loving siblings. I hope and think that Mason will be the best big sister on the planet. A part of me (the not-so nervous part) is excited to watch her grow this way. Oh, the prayers I have for my children!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me this situation to even be worried about. I praise You and honor You and all that You are. Please continue to mold me into the Christian, wife, parent, and teacher that You have planned for me to be. Thank You for having my back through all things, and it is because of this I know You will not forsake me but better me as Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

bigsis2

Gymnastics Taught Mommy a Lesson

Gymnastics Taught Mommy a Lesson

My husband and I thought this summer would be a great time to start our daughter in gymnastics. Because she is not yet two, the only class I could find was a “mommy-and-me” class. I’ve never been very flexible myself, but I thought taking her and holding her hand through it all would be a breeze.

Boy, was I wrong. Here’s our story.

We arrive a few minutes early to check in and check it out. I let Mason run around to exert some of her built up energy from the car ride in hopes to acclimate her to the gym and routine.

The other parents and children start to arrive, and I am surprised to see that Mason is the tallest kid there since this is a three and under class…

All the kids line up and go get their bean bags and shapes from the instructor… So we get in line and follow suit. Tantrum one takes place.

I see a few looks of sympathy from some of the other moms, surely they’ve been in this situation before too, right? Maybe first class wasn’t the best either?

The other kids immediately go put their shapes in a circle and sit. So we attempt this. Tantrum two greets me.

I look around and a couple of parents give me an understanding grin, so I try to laugh it off. But, man, I’m sweating. This gymnastics class is work.

Stretching begins. Nose-to-toes and sing the ABCs… ABCs? My daughter can barely talk in an understandable form yet… We can’t sing the ABCs. I attempt to get her to do this anyways. Insert tantrum number three.

Accompanying tantrum three is the strength of a lion which takes off across the gym and jumps on a mat and lies there like it’s time to relax… I guess all of that stretching wore a girl out already? (What stretching? It was definitely the fits that wore her out.)  Attempting to remove my wild animal from the mat and rejoin the group results in, you guessed it, tantrum number four.

By this time, all parents avoid looking in my direction. I can see the ones beside me inching a little further away, hoping that their child doesn’t catch this maniacal behavior that my child is displaying. And I’m not even sure what stretch the group is on anymore.

At this point, just ten minutes into the class, I take my wild animal (still in the process of tantrum four) and we officially quit the mommy-and-me gymnastics class.

Never have I felt like more of a failure as a mom as I did seeing those tiny girls get in line, wait their turn, sit on their designated shape, and sing the ABCs. I thought what am I doing wrong? Why can’t Mason do this? Then a dear friend told me “that’s just her.” No kids are the same, and not all kids fit in the same box. She has her own personality, she is strong willed, and she is determined.

Moral of the story? She’s her own person and she’s awesome!

So for all of those judgy parents who think otherwise, stop being so judgy and let go of your pearls already. Yes, my daughter looked like the oldest kid there, but, in reality, she was one of the youngest.

She’s just not there yet, so why should I force her to try to be something she’s not and try to do something she’s obviously not ready for? The answer is, I shouldn’t.

Looking back, I laugh [a lot] at this experience. Yeah, in the moment, I was frustrated. But, in the end, I’m proud of her personality and her strong-willed spirit. These are the traits that take people far in life. So, I’m just going to sit back and let my wild animal decide what adventure we take next.

10 Love Songs I Dedicate to my Daughter

10 Love Songs I Dedicate to my Daughter

Dear babygirl,

Like a typical girl, I’ve grown up listening to love songs and dreaming about crushes and planning my wedding around certain songs that I would one day dedicate to the man of my dreams.

Now as a mom, I can go through that same list of songs and they have a whole new meaning… a whole new purpose… these songs don’t just represent my feelings for my husband, but in a different way reflect my feelings for my child. Weird? Maybe so. But there is no denying that I am absolutely head over heels in love with my baby girl…

Here’s a list of examples besides the obvious “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (which is one of my favorites and will be always to you):

  1. To Make You Feel My Love by Adele

Since this was my wedding song, I couldn’t leave it out. And though it still applies to your daddy, I am sure he will agree that now it has so much more meaning and can apply to you as well.

“I could offer you a warm embrace… I could hold you for a million years… I will never do you wrong… No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, to make you feel my love… Go to the ends of the Earth for you, to make you feel my love.”

See, sweet girl, there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love, so this song is 100% accurate. And I really do wish I could hold you for a million years (you’re growing up too fast).

  1. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith

Of course, I couldn’t leave this one off the list. How many parents actually “Stay awake just to hear you breathing, watch you smile while you’re sleeping”? If I had to guess, I’d guess probably most. Even just the title holds true for this mama’s heart, because “I don’t want to miss a thing”! Ever! Also, “Every moment I spend with you is a moment I treasure” speaks wonders.

  1. I’ll Be by Edwin McCain

“I’ll be your crying shoulder, I’ll be love’s suicide, I’ll be better when I’m older, I’ll be the greatest fan of your life.” In other words, I’ll be here through it all. I’ll always be your biggest fan and supporter.

  1. I Knew I Loved You by Savage Garden

This song takes me back to grade school. And every word can be applied to you.

“I think I found my best friend,” “I knew I loved you before I met you, I think I dreamed you into life,” “You’re my way home,” “I knew I loved you before I met you, I have been waiting all my life,” “A thousand angels dance around you, I am complete now that I found you.”

  1. Amazed by Lonestar

As you’re learning new words constantly and becoming more capable and independent with each passing day, it’s true “Every little thing that you do, baby I’m amazed by you.”

  1. It’s Always Better When We’re Together by Jack Johnson

There are many Jack Johnson songs I could dedicate to you, but just the title of this one speaks for itself. And it’s true: everything is better when I’m with you.

  1. A Thousand Years by Christina Perry

If this song would have come out before Dad and I got married, it would have probably been one of our wedding songs as well… because I love it that much. But now I see it more as a perfect song for you, because I have loved you since I was a little girl dreaming of being your mom, and I’ll love you for a thousand years more. Plus some.

“I have died every day waiting for you, Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more.”

  1. If Tomorrow Never Comes by Garth Brooks

Every word, darling. My greatest fear is to leave you behind not remembering how much I loved and adored you. I cry now thinking of it.

Remember me trying to “show [you] every day that [you’re] my only one” “And if my time on Earth were through, and she must face this world without me, would the love I gave her in the past be enough to last, if tomorrow never comes” Please always, always remember you are my number one and mommy loved you so completely, dearly, and unconditionally. Which leads to number nine.

  1. I’m Gonna Love You by Meghan Trainor

“So I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you. I’m gonna hold you like I’m saying goodbye-eye-eye. Wherever we’re standing, I won’t take you for granted, because we’ll never know when we’ll run out of ti-i-ime.”

You probably don’t remember when daddy bought me her CD, because I had a slight obsession. And the moment I first heard this song, I decided to make it ours. And we would bump this song as well as “All About That Bass” like there was no tomorrow.

 

  1. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston

Now you can’t have a list of love songs without this classic. And it is true… I hope you know that Mommy will always, always, always love you.