Monday, April 11, 2016

Potty Training Lessons Learned

I just recently potty trained our 5th child.  I was dreading it and I postponed it as long as I could.  But it finally had to be done.  And let me tell you I love being on this end of it!  After potty training 5 children I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert, but I would call myself "seasoned" in the potty training department.  But evenso, there's still more lessons to learn!  And I learned 2 valuable lessons during this experience that I want to share, along with a few general potty training ideas.

First, the potty training general ideas:
-Be prepared!  Watch videos, read books (and blogposts!), gather supplies.
-Supplies = rewards (toys, candy, sticker charts, etc), potty chairs, underwear, whatever you want to create the best experience possible.
-Know that it will take time and diligence and be prepared to be patient.  It's not going to happen after the first day (or second or third!) and that's completely normal.   Potty training is a process.  I'd say give it a week or two and sometimes more, depending on the child.
-There no need to rush into potty training!  It's okay to just wait until they are ready or even just wait until they are a little older.  I potty trained 2 of my kids at age 2 1/2 and the others were all 3...I know that may sound old, but it was fine.  I think in some ways, it made the process a little smoother.  Again, every child is different and ready at their own time.  My easiest potty trainee was Gracie.  She was 3 and we were living in hard circumstances (I was 8 months pregnant and we were living in a hotel).  Once I got her started she just took it and ran with it.  It was such a blessing because I just didn't have it in me to be very detailed at that time.  But she was sure ready and jumped right into it.  I see pottty training similar to transitioning a child out of their crib - I see no reason to rush into either one.

Now onto the new lessons learned:
-Potty training is not a one size fits all deal.  We watched a few videos on You Tube this last time to get George prepared and excited.  There are some videos on there that show potty training as an x, y, z kind of experience.  And sometimes it is.  But sometimes it's not.  Every child is completely different.  They may not accept this new teaching as you expect or they may take different approaches.  And again, this is okay!  At first George would not go in the regular toilet, or in his froggy potty.  He had a little anxiety of using either and I could tell he was about to explode and so I offered him our shower drain and he took it.  For a while that is all he would do (pee down our shower drain) and he would not poop in any kind of potty.  This went on for about a week.  But eventually he started trying the toilet and the froggy potty and realized that they weren't so bad afterall.  This situation was definitely not in any story I've ever read!  But it all worked out alright in the end.   So if a child is potty training in their own way or at their own speed, it's alright.  And this leads me to the second lesson learned.
-When in doubt, pray.  After a few days of George peeing down the shower drain, I started to second guess myself.  What if he wasn't ready?  Should I stop and start again at another time?  I really didn't know what to do or how to overcome this hurdle and so I prayed about it.  And the answer I received was to just move forward and be patient.  So I did.  And it worked out very well.  I learned that the Lord knows us and he knows our children and he is just as concerned about potty training as he is about any other experience in our lives.  He is willing to lead and guide us in every step of motherhood (and fatherhood).  We just have to be willing to ask for help.  

So that's it.  My newest thoughts on potty training.  I have 5 kids now done and 1 to go.  I feel very satisfied to know that I only have to do it one more time!  And the funny thing is that I'll probably drag my feet with baby #6  just as I did with every other one.  I guess that is just the nature of this particular beast.  But really, once you are prepared, you have no reason to fear.  Just jump in with 2 feet.  Do your best, ask for help, and it will all work out.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year's Eve Party

We normally don't celebrate New Year's eve.  We just haven't made the effort.  The last fun New Year's eve we celebrated was a few years ago when we lived in Provo.  Our kids (we either had 2 or 3 at the time) were put to bed and then Adam's brother and his wife (Lance and Nancy) came over.  This was before they had kids.  We played games and ate yummy snacks.   I really enjoyed it.   I look back on it as "that one fun New Year's Eve."
We'll this year we decided to have a little party.   This was not an adult only party, it was a family party.  We invited 2 families and together we had 6 adults and 9 children. 
Here's the whole group
First we ate dinner.  Larry brought a yummy rotisserie turkey and we provided rolls and sandwich fixens.  We also ate fruits, chips, and veggies. 
Before and after dinner the kids ran around and played.  They had a blast just running and running and playing and playing.  They were loud and crazy and happy. 
At some point, we played our first game - a Pringles challenge.  We got the idea from EvantubeHD, although we simplified it a bit.  We got 6 flavors of Pringles.  We passed 1 flavor out at a time, and after everyone had a chance to taste it, they would take turns guessing what flavor they thought it was.   Most of the time they were stumped, but I think maybe 2 were guessed correctly.  It was fun.  A few months ago our family did the same thing with ice cream and that was fun, too. 
By this time my 2 youngest really needed to go to bed and so Sara conducted a few of her games while I put the kids to bed.  They played New Year's bingo and a little table Canadian curling. 
When I got back downstairs the games were done and everyone was settled down, watching the movie Minions. 
After the movie the kids were itching to do our New Year's countdown.  One of the families had brought New Year's hats and noise makers, so they passed those out to everyone.
Now in preparation for this party, I did a little pinterest search to gather ideas.  The best idea that I took away from my search was to do a balloon drop at midnight (or at our own appointed "midnight").  I bought a plastic table cloth, duck tape and balloons.  Earlier in the day, Ella blew up most of the balloons and then Adam helped her secure them to the ceiling with the tablecloth and the duck tape.  Ella also headed up the sign making and the streamer hanging.  She's a little party go getter.  I thought the balloon drop was brilliant.  The kids loved it and it brought a certain excitement to the countdown.  As the balloons fell, everyone cheered and used their noise makers.  

Balloons stayed nice and secure until the right moment
Beginning of balloon drop
Balloons falling...
And falling...
Balloon drop complete!
We broke out the Martinellis bubbley (we aren't an alcohol drinking kind of crowd, and of course I'm talking about the adults) and we toasted to the near year.  We also had a few laughs, as everyone became a little silly.  One would have guessed that there had been alcohol in those Martinellis bottles.  

As we prepared to drink the Martinellis
Lots of laughing going on!
Sam forgetting the concept of personal space with his noise maker
Gracie in her party get up and probably her 3rd outfit of the evening
Lots of fun and smiles
Ella getting her noise maker on
As the celebration winded down, the other two families packed up and moved out (this was probably around 10:30). 
What a fun night!   I'm so glad we did this.  It was the perfect way for our family to ring in a new year.  
Happy New Year!  

Friday, January 01, 2016

Snow day!

We lived in Utah for 18 years.  We've been gone now for almost 3 years, but the kids still think they want to be in the snow... Go figure.  So we had a snow day a few days ago up near Lake Tahoe.  We went with some friends and spent a few hours up there.  It was a non-official spot just off the freeway where people just parked and played.  It was actually a little dangerous, too!   People were sledding into other people and sledding into a cement barrier the whole time.  It's a wonder no one got hurt. 
The kids all had a fantastic time.  

Adam and the kids at the top of the hill

Ella and George riding with our friend, Larry

Ella, Grace and Larry coming in for a landing...and what happened to Grace?  It seems she has toppled...
I bundled Hannah up in about 4 layers and put her in a pack on me.  She fell asleep for a little while and otherwise just hung out.   We still have some snow clothes leftover from our Utah days and then we borrowed a few items from friends.  The right clothing makes a big difference!   Oh - and especially the right gloves!   I'm going to start buying snow gloves (as opposed to regular mittens)  just so we'll be prepared next time. 

Miss Ella

Miss Grace, eating snow

Henry and his friend, Ethan

Adam, George, and Sam
Me and snuggle bear Hannah
 My boots... I wore these boots when I was in college 15+ years ago and worked at a horse ranch.  I went there a few times a week, rain or shine (or snow)  to feed the horses, etc.  When I graduated and left the area, I brought the boots to my parent's home and put them into storage.  That's where they've been until recently I came across them and brought them to my house.  I wore them on this trip and it was the first time since college that I've worn them.  They even had horse feed (among other stuff....) on them.  It kind of felt like they had been frozen in time.  It made me happy.  I loved my college experience and I loved working at that ranch.  I have very fond memories of those years. 
A view of my snow boots
 But back to the point!  This turned out to be a fun day and I think this will tide the kids over until next year.  It's nice to not live in the snow, but then to be just a few hours away in case of an least that's the way I see it!

The Great Room-switcharoo

We have 6 kids and we live in a 4 bedroom home.  Not bad, really.   But as I'm here all day long and this home and this family are my life, I like to dream up new and better ways to do things.  What I would really love is 1 (or 2!) extra bedrooms.   But since that most likely won't happen any time soon, I came up with a new plan for the kid's rooms.  We decided to give it a try. 
The 3 rooms for the kids are small, medium and large in size.  We put Henry into the small room all by himself.  He's really into Legos and he has a lego table and since he's the oldest we thought it made sense for him to be alone. 

Henry's New Pad (Bed frame is in pieces in garage and will be put together at some point)
We put the 2 youngest boys, Sam and George, into the medium room.  And my dream is that we can get the train table up and running and put into their room.  Right now it's in the garage and in disarray.  I think they would really enjoy this. 

Sam and George's Room
The large room now houses all 3 girls - Ella, Gracie, and Hannah.   The girls are in a bunk bed and Hannah is in a crib.  This one is a little tough for me because I think babies should have their own room.  Already we've had a difficult time with the girls waking her up and vice versa.  But with what we have to work with, it was just too difficult to give her a room of her own.   So for now this is how we're doing it. 

Girl's Room 1st View
Girls Room 2nd View
One thing I like about this arrangement is that we can start to decorate their rooms (our home is still full of blank walls) in ways that make sense.  When Henry and Sam were sharing a room, for instance, what decorations that were appropriate for Henry weren't appropriate for Sam since they have a 6 year age gap and different interests.  But now I think we can make it work well. 
BUT!   One of the tricky things about this move is that the stairwell and the hallway are now full of a bunch of stuff that I need to go through.  It either needs to be thrown away or put into the garage or organized into their rooms.  There was so much stuff!   I felt like we were actually moving, without going anywhere. 
The Hallway Mess

The Stairwell Mess
We will see how this goes.  Hopefully we can get each room organized into a way that works for the kids and that they can settle into their new spaces.