Monday, March 29, 2010

I've got to Pee!

A little abrasive, I know, but these are four really wonderful words when you are a parent of a toddler. It's like the final sign that they are potty-trained. Well, at least in my case. This post is not to give directions on how to potty train your child. Trust are the only expert on your kid. They are all so different, so I will never be the one to judge anyone's progress or lack of progress when it comes to potty training. I'm simply going to give a few tips that I was given by other successful moms. They worked great with Parker and I would honestly have to say that our potty training experience was a breeze. I love getting advice from other moms, so I figure when I have some, I might as well share it. Again, I am not saying that I am supermom or have a brilliant child (though he is), I'm simply saying I want to share some info that worked for me that might work for you. Here's my list of dos and do nots. (Note: These may all  be completely thrown out the window with Graham.)

Tip 1. Don't start too early. Potty Training has little to do with age or intelligence...or how many other kids you know your child's age that are potty trained. There are so many mental, physical, and emotional things that all have to come together at the same time for your child to be ready. You will end up stressing yourself and kid way too much. I think a few key signs that they are ready are when they show interest, can pee on command, and can be bribed.  Parker could not consciously pee until he was 2 years 4 months old. It was pointless to even start before this point. We'd let him sit on a potty for fun if he wanted, but that was the extent of our potty experience with Parker until he was 28 months.  He figured our how to actually control his peeing in the shower with daddy (don't say ewwww-we've all done it). Once you know that they can actually pee when they want to, make sure they can be bribed with stickers or candy-something along those lines. Also, make sure they are interested in peeing in the potty. Don't be that parent that straps your kid to the pot and demands they go. It won't work. You want you kid to please you, not obey you when it comes to potty training.

Tip 2. Don't start and stop. In other words, go big or go home. Your child might figure out that if they have an accident, they can have their diapers back. I explained to Parker once I decided to potty train that he no longer wore diapers, only big boy undies. Yes, he peed on himself a bunch the first few days, but I just stuck another clean pair of undies on. It was messy, sure, but he didn't get mixed messages. He was a big boy now, even if he made a mistake and forgot to go in the potty.

Tip 3. Do use a timer. Best advice ever. Thanks Lyn. At first, Parker fussed with me over going when he wasn't in the mood. With the timer set at every thirty minutes, I explained to him that when it beeped, we had to go to the bathroom. He seemed much more complaint with the timer than with me. They won't have to go every time, but it keeps them from having accidents. There's no kid out there that can't hold it 30 minutes. I think this method gives your child a chance to have more success than failure. When they get to please you over and over, it ingrains in their minds. As they get better, change the timer to every hour. Once your kid is doing well with this, you can just take them when they are giving signs. The pee pee dance is Parker's favorite. He'll swear he doesn't have to go...but be jigging with his knees together. So funny.

Tip 4: Do use a bribe every time they go for the first few days. After they are pretty consistent, you need to slowly fade out the rewards (other than loads of praise) for peeing. You don't want a diabetic or a 5 year old still expecting palatable rewards. You may still have to lavish them with M&m's for pooing for a while.

TIP 5: Don't compare too much. Who cares (besides your ego) when other kids are getting potty trained? It will just drive you crazy and end up just putting too much pressure on your child. It's also setting bad precedent early. There will always be people who are smarter, faster, and cuter (yeah, it's true) and you don't want your child to think they are lesser of a child if he or she is not at the same level as other kids on any of these issues. It's OK to strive for greatness and be number one, but don't take it too far-it will make for an obnoxious and insecure child.

I could give more advice I've heard, but this post is already long enough and Parker is yelling that he has to pee. Oh, the irony! Feel free to ask any questions if you're about to embark on the potty train. I'm not an expert by any means, but I had easy success. I also have lots of friends with potty trained children. I can consult this great panel of experts (my friends with children)if you have a question I'm not sure about. Good Luck!

We used a little potty for the first 4 months of potty training. Now he's moved up to the big one-he's totally proud as you can tell. He normally stands for #1, but I didn't want to leave you with an indecent picture. You're grateful, I know. Don't mind the wild hair!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We've got a new pet!

This new family member is not a new cute puppy, or mischievous kitten. Sorry if you got all excited for the us. Parker l-o-v-e-s animals. All a serious way like his momma. It's a gift... and a curse. I almost have to take antidepressants when I see road kill. One of my top goals in life is to never run over a fuzzy animal. Despite this weird aspiration, I will try to never severely swerve which might endanger myself or a family member to save an icky opossum.

OK, we got a fish. Yeah, I know. It's boring. I just didn't need anything else to take care of. Parker isn't old enough to take care of a real pet, so a fish it is. We got a male beta. Another lazy choice on my part. Betas don't require a tank...just an old vase or glass bowl. Check. I've got plenty of those. Parker picked a yellow beta. He must have great taste since he picked a fish that would match our living room. So nice. Plus, the fish guy said that they had only seen a few yellow betas ever come into the store. Nice job Parker.

Anyway, when we got in the car after buying the fish, I told Parker he had to name the fish. I was hoping Parker would have one of his brilliant moments, or at least a super funny one. Nope. He paused as if in deep thought and then said, " Truck, the fish." Really? Truck? I had told myself that I would not change whatever he said or sway him in another direction. So, I now own a yellow Beta named Truck. I guess later Parker felt the need to give him a nickname because that evening he was calling him Truckie. Don't be jealous. Let's just hope the fish survives a while, because I might have a hard time replacing a yellow beta. What's the coolest name you've ever given a pet?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Bama Time

Though you'll gain no helpful material out of this post, I still hope you'll enjoy. If no one else, Michelle, Amy and Emmy will read and relish it...hopefully :). I have needed a break, a getaway, talk time, girl time, and the list goes on...for some time now. So, a few weeks ago I schemed about what to do with all these needs of mine. After very little consideration about the possible pandemonium of taking an almost three month old and a 7 month old in a car for a freakishly long 10 hour ride, I called Michelle (who I don't get to see very often anymore due to her moving). She was in-another stupid brave soul. Here was the plan. Michelle's best friend Amy lives in Phenix City, Alabama and hadn't seen Michelle's newest bundle of joy, Lydia. I thought we could stay at her house for a girls' weekend. I would get time to chat with Michelle on the way down, meet a new girl, and take a break from my crazy beloved toddler. The bonus for me would be that I would be close enough to go see my friend Emily and her sweet 5 week old, Ellie, who lives in Birmingham. We left on Thursday afternoon around 2:30 pm. Here's how the next few days went.

Thursday: We planned on stopping in Greenville, SC, but decided to keep going once we got there since the babies were asleep. I was tired, but just wanted to get there. We rolled in Amy's driveway around 2:00 am and immediately crashed after unloading. Amy hooked me up with the guest room .Her home is beautiful and insanely organized and clean. Amy, your home truly inspired me to get my act together. Thank you for proving to me that my kids are no excuse for clutter and dirt.  This picture sums up the miraculous drive to 'Bama. Seriously, we maybe had 10 minutes of fussing the whole way.

Friday: After a cozy few hours in a king-size bed filled with comfy pillows and room to sprawl out, I was a little annoyed with Graham when he wanted to get up at 7:30. Then, the vivid memory of his previous all night party routine flooded my mind and I thanked him for the few hours. No one else was up in the house, so I went out to the kitchen and snagged a yummy muffin Amy had made. While feeding Graham his morning cereal mush, Amy's husband, who I had yet to meet, walked out of his room to find a strange girl (that would be me) sitting in his kitchen. I smiled and said, "Hi, I'm Stephanie." Such a weird feeling. Steve's a nice guy and after spending some time with him and his fam, I didn't feel so much like an intruder. The rest of the day was spent shopping and talking-two of my favorite things. Amy has a little girl who is only 2 months older  than Graham (even though my chubbers of child is bigger) named Audrey-she is ridiculously cute.
 For dinner,Amy made us delicious Manicotti and blueberry cobbler. Yum.  Here's a picture of the Lostroh family: Amy, Steve, Austin, Riley, and Audrey.
Saturday: We woke up and headed to Austin and Riley's soccer game. They were so cute! Watching these two boys made me so excited for Parker and Graham in the future. These two brothers and inseparable. They play together all day and genuinely love each other. I can only hope that my boys are as close as these two. I had never watched a 4-6 year old soccer league, but it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. After the boys' game was over, we drove an hour to the Montgomery Zoo. I truly missed Parker during this adventure because I knew he would have loved it. The day was gorgeous and the Zoo was super fun. Graham was so chill the whole day. He sat in his stroller and I never heard a peep from him. Such a good boy.

Here's a few more pictures from the Zoo. The last one is my favorite :)

Sunday: I got up early and headed to Birmingham. I was so excited to see Em and Ellie. I hadn't seen Em since Parker was 3 months old. Crazy! Definitely too long. I got there at about 10:00 am and left at 7:00. The day flew. We sat on the couch for most of the time and just chatted-I loved it Em! I wished I could have stayed longer, but I had another 2.5 hour drive back to Amy's before getting in the car for 10 the next day. Graham was not super happy with me, but was quiet the whole way home. Though I hadn't seen Em in forever, it was like it hadn't been long at all- only there were two new babies between the two of us-haha. It was funny hearing another mom begin her experience with baby books, diaper explosions (sorry), night time rendezvous, and all the fun/ chaos of a new baby. Emmy, you are rocking it as a new mom. One of my biggest regrets of the trip was that we both forgot to take any pictures. I couldn't believe it. I am so upset. I guess we'll just have to figure out a way to get together again soon...not another 2 years!

Monday: We left by 5:30 am and hit Atlanta at rush hour. By the grace of God we never got stopped...the traffic flowed smoothly. The trip home was not as good as the trip down...but it could have been worse. Graham had been in the car for 15 hours between the two past days and Lydia had a stuffy nose. They were troopers...but let Michelle and I have it a little. We kind of deserved it! Here's what the kids were doing when we pulled in my driveway after 10 hours.
Anyway, Thanks Michelle for being my travel buddy! I had a great time. Thanks Lostroh family for all the laughs...and Dr. Pepper.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Correcting Cord Chaos

I hate cords and cables. They are ugly and tangley (yes, that's a word.) Unfortunately, many really cool technologies require them. Take cameras for example. Each one comes with at least 15 gazillion hook-ups. It's obnoxious. Should you keep the cords in a drawer? Then each electronic doohickey would need its own drawer so that you won't confuse them with other gadget cords and who has that many extra drawers just lying around? Not me. Baskets are not an option either because I don't want to use any cute basket to display black and gray cables. Keeping cords in their original packaging doesn't work for me either, because,'s tacky. Simply stated, cords wreak havoc on my never ending quest for organization.

A while back, I read in a magazine about a solution for these annoying necessities of modern life. A shoe organizer. Duh! Why didn't i think of that? They have perfect size slots for small items like cords and cables, they can hang on the inside of a closet door to maximize the usage of space,  and they are cheap. Perfecto!

Here's what I pulled together in about an hour. You could always spend more time (if you're one of the lucky ones who has unassigned time) to make the organizer more unique and eye appealing.

Here's the easy how-to. First, find a shoe organizer you like. I recommend getting one that doesn't have clear pockets since the whole point is to NOT see the cords. I grabbed this one at Wal-mart. (Yes, once a month, I venture to this crazy zoo because Wal-mart is the only place that carries my favorite coffee drink, and trust me, it is worth the long lines and cluttered isles.) I think it's the Canopy brand and it only cost me $14.99.

Then go to your nearest fabric store and find double side fusible web. This magic little stuff adheres the fabric to the organizer. It's quicker and easier than sewing the labels on. This packet was a whopping $3.99.

Next, decide on the material for the labels. You can either use a scrap you have lying around the house like I did, or you can buy some new shnazzy fabric to make it super cute. Peel off one side of the webbing and stick it to the fabric before you cut the labels out. It'll save you time.
Go ahead and use a sharpy to distinguish each of your labels. Sure, their are more sophisticated ways like printing the words on fabric or stitching your labels, but I wanted quick and easy this time. I only needed 8 slots now, but I've got extra fabric and pockets for future purchases that have cables/cords.

Now it's time to bust out the iron. Put it on the high heat cotton setting with steam. Peel off the other side of the web adhesive and place the labels on each pocket. Iron for about 20 seconds.
 You're done. So easy, right? No talent needed for that one. Join me and find relief from cord chaos. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I love these things!

Remember my props and flops post where I grumbled about teething? Well, let me share a little product that helps combat this stage of child development. It has worked wonders with both of my children. It's called the Baby Safe Feeder and I prefer the model made by Safety First. I think its main purpose is to allow your child to gnaw on things that would normally be choking hazards without the safety mesh. However, I use it for a teether. I like to freeze fruits and veggies and then let the baby go at it. It can get super messy, but the silence is worth it. (A frozen carrot works great and has little to no mess involved.) I'd start with apples, bananas, and carrots because they are low in acid. When the nasty mush created from obliterated food gets all over baby's face, you don't want a huge rash showing up. (I learned this from giving Parker strawberries to early). Once your baby is more tolerant of a variety of food, you can use your imagination to fill up these wonderful little gadgets.

Here's a Safe Feeder with my kids' favorite fillers.

You just unscrew them and toss in the goods.
 Here's Graham trying one out.
 And the verdict?

He's a fan.   You're Welcome.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glorious March

This has been a fabulous month so far. Many things have taken place that have just lifted my spirits and made life that much better. Don't get me wrong, I know that despite trials and difficulty, I always have reason to be thankful. It's just that this month the good things in life have been piled on my plate. I'm experiencing a new desire to tackle things I've been putting off or just haven't had the energy to dive into.  Let me share some the good stuff this month that has helped me feel revived and inspired.

1. My Mom's visit. It's hard to live away from your parents, especially once you have children. I don't like when months (or even weeks) have gone by and I haven't been able to share the most important things in my life with two people who I use to share everything with. Needless to say, I love seeing Parker and Graham with my parents, and my momma was able to come for 10 days at the beginning of this month. We all had a great time and Mom was a huge help with the boys.  These three are great pals.

2. Warm weather. Give me a break, I'm from Florida where the 60's are considered cold. Being cooped up inside for months with endless snow is not fun for me. I crave sun all winter, so this week when it decided to appear and bring the temperature into the 70's a few times, I was elated. Vitamin D is a good thing. Here's the boys enjoying the first day of spring warmth. It only got to 52 degrees this day, but we were out playing in the sunshine anyway.

3. Brotherly Love. I chose to have my first two kids pretty darn close together in my opinion. The past 6 months have been full of questions relating to the intelligence of that crazy move. I know some choose to pop 'em out back to back, but I wasn't ready to even think about another baby until Parker was 15 months. We found out we were expecting baby Dunn #2 the next month. This week I was able to see the first benefits of that decision. I always wanted my children to have a close sibling to play and share life with. This week, the boys took their first bath together and when it was time for me to get Graham out, Parker protested with, "Don't take him out, I want him to stay and keep playing with me." I loved hearing that. In amongst the future scuffles they will have, I will cherish the moments where they enjoy one another.

4. Sleep. I've saved the best for last. I started to have issues sleeping when I was about 6 months pregnant. Blah Blah Blah-so does every other pregnant woman. I was prepared for a few months of sleep training where I'd be waking up through the night to feed baby Graham. I expected him to be like his brother and slowly reduce feedings at night until he was sleeping 10-12 hours straight by a few months. Well, that is not how the story went. To make a very long story short, Graham was diagnosed with severe acid reflux at 2 months. Yay for me. I could handle the constant spewage (yes, I know that's disgusting), but I couldn't deal with waking up every 30 minutes to an hour every night to comfort a hurting (and screaming) baby. I was beyond tired every day. I lived with 3-5 hours of sleep for 6 months and it wore on me. I tried everything under the sun to get a few hours of consecutive sleep. I was not able to be myself and I didn't like it. Last week it was like something snapped. We had Graham prayed for at church, he was finally old enough to begin Prevacid, and I felt that he was old enough to fuss it out in the middle of the night instead of me rescuing him. (If you're thinking I should have tried that earlier...don't. I tried and it ended in Graham screaming, which made the reflux worse, and me feeling like a horrible mother.) I don't really care to know which worked, I am just thankful to God and modern medicine that he has been sleeping at least 10 hours straight every night this week. I feel like me again. Here's my precious boy peacefully at sleep and not hurting from that heinous reflux.

No matter what you are going through, do your best to be thankful for the blessings in your life! What have you been doing to enjoy the spring?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My flops and props this week.

I feel the need to both give love and smack talk. I cannot think of a better outlet than a prop and flop post. I try to end most things on a good note, so I'll start with the whining first.

  1. Teething. When you hear this word, most of you think of babies being fussy when a new tooth is emerging through their gingiva. This is NOT a correct description. (Can I get a holla from my fellow mommas?) Let me share the correct definition. I'm pretty sure this is straight out of Webster's. Teething is when a baby has a completely horrid altered personality due to a tooth (if you're lucky, teeth) slowly creeping up and down through the gum and teasing for months about its true arrival date. This causes extreme exhaustion for both mother and baby and lots of drool. It's obnoxious...and messy.
  2. My timing. I try to be a good mom, but I'm not sure how good my ratings are with Parker this week. Not once, but twice I smashed his hopes of a grand time. On Saturday, I told Parker I would take him to the Clay Center (a fun art and science building) when he got up from his nap. He made sure to go right to sleep so he could get there faster. We arrived at 4:45 just to find out that they closed on Saturday at 5:00. I rock. The whole way home I got to hear, " I want to go to the Play Center." He would not be consoled. Monday, I told him we were going to the pool at our local YWCA. When we geared up and eventually got there, the hateful lady behind the desk receptionist informed us that the pool has swim lessons every morning until 12:00. (It was only 10:00 am.) Another fun trip home. Awesome.
  3. Winter in West Virginia.  I enjoy the city I live in. It's a medium-sized Southern city with a unique history and some fun culture. However, I have never been and never will be a fan of this state. (No offense to anyone who loves it...I'm just not a West Virginian by birth or at heart.) The number one reason I am not perfectly happy, though very content, here is this darn weather. Just when I start to feel like this could be a permanent home, winter arrives. It's like the wind is smacking my face saying, " What the heck are you doing here?"  I'll endure because there are too many other good reasons not to leave, but the frigid temps and never ending snow is a "10" on the flop meter.
  1. The blow-up jumpy thing place at the mall. I obviously can't remember the name, but it is a life-saver. Though laden with viruses and bacteria, (I am pretty sure it's as bad as all those ball pits at fast food restaurants) Parker loved it and forgot all about his Clay Center blues after my huge flop on Saturday. With lots of hand sanitizer and David by my side, I faced my germ-phobia and went from being grossed out about the place to really feeling affectionate towards it.
  2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Though not simple at all, it's simply a great book.  I like to read it because no matter how many times you've digested it cover to cover, you will discover something new you missed before and you'll always leave challenged to be a better follower of Christ.
  3. Dwell Studio.  I've always had a crush on this brand. The new coverlets they have made recently and sell through their Target line are B-E-autiful. They are cute and totally affordable at $79.99-$89.99. I so badly wanted to need one. I was scheming up ways in which to ruin my current comforter, but I don't think David would have been very happy with me. Chula had even volunteered to have an accident on it, but I opted to just be thankful for the one I already have. Maybe you need one. Here are the links to a few of my favs. 
Have a great week! Here are my two biggest props. Feel free so share any love you may have or a major flop you've experienced lately. I love feedback.