Category Archives: Need Input

Another Day, Another Mess

When my children are at their most creative, and generally getting along the best, they are also at their messiest. Sometimes, it seems as though the contents of an entire room have been rearranged or moved to another room for the sake of their game.


The kitchen of their tiny house, aka – the living room.

The problem is, when I ask them to clean up said mess, you would think I asked them to eat liver and onions while standing on their heads. I’ve learned that there’s a little less resistance if they’re given plenty of warning, but even still, it is a painful experience. C has to examine each individual item very carefully before putting it away. Sometimes, she has to reorganize everything before she can start putting anything away. And D, he just shoves things away. When cleaning out his bookshelf, I found dirty socks, dog toys  and used tissues shoved onto the shelves.

Additionally, D loves to keep everything he ever touches. Or sees. He might need it some day, you know, for an art project. To give the boy credit, he does like to create using boxes, empty bottles, cardboard tubes and tape. Lots of tape. And I love that about him. But, that doesn’t mean he needs to keep the plastic ring from a Cool Whip container or every single toilet paper tube that’s ever been in our house. Good luck trying to convince him of that though. Here’s what I hauled off the top of his bookshelf and the floor in front of it today:


Now, I’m trying to figure out how to keep everything in balance. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but I’d like to have some semblance of order in my house, without having to do all the work myself. This seems reasonable with a 7 and 5 year old – at least more so than a few years ago! And I’d prefer if my son didn’t end up on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive some day. They’re good about helping with specifics jobs, such as laundry, dishes or even scrubbing toilets. Putting things away and knowing what’s important enough to keep are the things we struggle with. So, my question is, how do you teach your kids to keep a (reasonably) neat house, without nagging or stifling their creativity? 

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Filed under Around the House, Need Input, Parenting, Uncategorized

I Hate Iowa Winters

I have lived in Iowa all my life, but I still hate winter. I don’t just dislike winter, I hate it. Hate is a strong word, I know. I tell my kids it’s not a nice word and discourage them from using it. But it’s pretty much the only way to describe my feelings towards the season. I am cold ALL THE TIME. The kids don’t get to play outside regularly and we all go stir crazy. We can’t make simple plans to go visit friends or family who live less than 30 miles away, because we never know how the roads are going to be. Not only is it cold, but it feels dark. Sometimes I think we’re lucky to get 8 hours of daylight. Less than 24 hours after the snow stops falling, and it’s no longer pretty and white, it’s dirty and gray.  And did I mention that I’m ALWAYS cold!?!

As a result of these extreme feelings, I’m not a huge fan of fall either. It’s not really fall’s fault, but winter does come right after it.  So as the temperatures start to cool down and the days get shorter, I can’t help but think about winter and get resentful towards fall. The picture below popped up on my Timehop today. Apparently, a year ago, we were worrying about snow already. (See why I don’t like fall…)


When I first saw this today, I thought, “Ugh! I hate winter!” Then I said to myself, “Don’t jump the gun with the winter hating. This was last year’s forecast.” And then, I actually looked at this week’s forecast – you know, just to be sure – and saw that they’re predicting highs in the 70’s this weekend! What am I doing worrying about winter? I should be enjoying the good stuff while I can! So that’s what I plan to do this week 🙂

However, I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m daydreaming about moving someplace warm(er). At least for one winter. For any winter lovers out there, or any fellow winter haters who have figured out how to survive with a smile on your face, I ask, What is your secret?

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As a totally unbiased observer, I have to say, Chloe Mae is one smart cookie!!  🙂  Not only is she smart, but she absorbs and remembers everything  we say or do – for better or worse – and is always asking questions, counting, “writing” people’s names, etc…  I want to take advantage of her sponge-like brain and desire to learn by working on her letters, number recognition, shapes and anything else that her 2 1/2 year old brain is interested in learning about. 

I have no desire to send her to preschool at this point.  We’re happy with where she’s at during the day right now.  At this age, I don’t think she needs a classroom setting to learn.    With a little work, I’m fairly confident I can do a perfectly acceptable job of teaching her the basics.  With that in mind, I harnessed the power of Google and came across the Brightly Beaming Resources.  Their preparatory curriculum is 26 weeks long and features a weekly theme and letter of the week, along with a  color, number or shape.  There are suggested activities and books to read to fit the theme. 

The lesson plans are all laid out on the website for free, (which is totally in my price range) so I think I’m going to try to get the first few weeks put together and give it a try.  For all of the seasoned mama’s out there, what did you do for preschool??  Any suggestions for me??

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Sleep Advice

Chloe Mae was not a good sleeper – in fact, I don’t think she slept through the night until after  she was a year old.  There are many things we adore about our daughter, but this was not one of them, and we’d prefer if her brother didn’t follow in her footsteps.  Unfortunately, he seems to be taking after her at this point.  Now, I shouldn’t complain too much, because there are many nights when he gives us a good 4-5 hour stretch between feedings, and I know Chloe wasn’t doing that this early, but he’s a horrible sleeper during the day.  As a result, I feel like we’re already creating bad sleep habits.

At (not even) 4 weeks, I feel like he’s too young to do a whole lot about it.  I’m certainly not going to let him cry it out at this stage.  I feel like I need to start arming myself with information, though, so I can start on a path too good sleep habits ASAP.

That brings me to my question for all you expert parents out there: What books or sleep methods do you recommend?

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Did we survive?

Indeed, we did.  Although we’re exhausted.  I’m going to blame part of this of the fact that while we spent the weekend potty training Chloe, she was dealing with a summer cold.  She was okay during the day, but had a rough time sleeping.  That means we had exhausting days and sleepless nights.  But… our days of potty training were fairly successful.  So that’s a plus!!

Saturday, Chloe made it to the potty about 15 times, including both times she needed to go #2.  We were accident free through the morning, but had 3 accidents in the afternoon.  However, all 3 time she stopped herself and ran to the potty to finish her business.  I was pretty darn impressed!!

This morning, Chloe filled up her sticker chart and got to pick out her first prize.  From all her options, she chose play-doh.

The Prize Bucket

Playing with her first prize.

Ironically, while she was playing with her play-doh, she had an accident.  Overall though, she had another good day with at least 10 successfull trips to bathroom.  We ventured out to Wendy’s for dinner (we wanted to leave the house, but didn’t want to do anything outside in a 100+ degree heat index – including grilling our dinner as planned!).  Chloe was doing well, but she was distracted by all the people in the restaurant and taking forever to eat.  As she was eating the last bite of her dinner, she started peeing all over her chair.  Awesome timing.  I ran her to the bathroom and got her changed, without any toilet paper or paper towels to help.  If I hadn’t just been ready to go home, the restaurant staff would have gotten a piece of my mind.

We spent our days reading books about going potty, sharing whenever one of us us had to go and constantly talking about the potty.  There was much celebrating when she went and lots of talk of how proud we were.  When we changed activities, I’d ask Chloe where the nearest potty was – especially when we changed levels and the location of the bathroom had changed.  I encouraged her to actually run to the bathroom to show me where it was and we talked about what she’d need to do when the time came.  Although we tried not to force her to use the bathroom at any point, we did try to pay attention to the signs and figure out when she needed to go.  We’d then bring up the potty as a reminder to her or ask if she needed to go.  And once or twice we may have reminded her that if she went potty, she’d get a sticker and evetually get a prize 🙂

Now the real challenge starts.  Five of the six misses we had over the last two days were in the evening. I don’t know if Chloe lost interest by that point in the day, if we as parents became less observant or a combination of both, but we’ll obviously need to figure that out. I’m hoping it’s not a sign of what’s to come this week, because we go back to our real lives tomorow.  Chloe goes to MissK’s and we have Tumblebugs (a toddler gymnastics-like class) in the evening.  I’d love it if we could make it through the day with no more than, or even fewer, accidents than we’ve had the last two days.  Realistically, tomorrow is a whole new battle, so I have no idea what to expect.

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Potty Training – Take 2

We gave potty training a go last Sunday.  It was silly to try with only 1 day at home and Monday morning drop off’s with MissK are always extra crazy, so there wasn’t enough communication there.  We took a bit of a breather and we haven’t been going at it with gusto this week, just reminding Chloe to go at specific times – like when she wakes up in the morning, after meals, before/after nap and before bed – but keeping a diaper on and not pushing the issue.  We’ve read books about going potty, talked about it and demonstrated.  It’s really quite easy for a pregnant mama to show her little girl how it’s done, and quite often!!  When she’s asked for a ‘big girl treat’ or ‘n-n-n’ (aka M&M) after a success, we’ve tried to offer alternate rewards if possible.   And I’ve done what I should have done from the beginning – I’ve spent evenings reading up on different strategies on the internet and checked out some books from the library.

This weekend is take 2.  We’re not using any 1 specific method, although I am using many ideas from Fellom’s method.  When we wake up tomorrow, we’ll explain that we need to get rid of her diapers and she’s going to have to use the potty all the time.  Then she’ll spend the day naked from the waist down.  We won’t constantly remind her use the potty, just attempt to catch her in the act, so she learns to listen to her body’s signals.  When there are accidents, we’ll just talk about what we should have done instead, i.e. told one of us or run to the potty herself.  We’ll continue to talk about the potty a lot and I’ll continue to demonstrate.  A sticker chart will be used and can be ‘redeemed’ for prizes after it’s filled up.

Sunday will be much of the same, but with underwear on.  Because, realistically, she’ll need to be covered up on a daily basis.  We’ll try leaving the house, because again, realistically, we’ll need to leave the house on a daily basis.  Nothing major, but a short walk or a quick trip to the park.  (But honestly, the weather forecast makes that seem less than exciting!!)  And speaking of leaving the house, Monday Chloe’ll head to MissK’s.  Hopefully after a couple days at home, we’re having enough success that she can still do well even with the distractions of not being at home.

I know it’ll be a frustrating and exhausting weekend.  But I’m hoping we can stick to our guns, because I know that consistency is the best thing for all of us.  I’m prepared to give it my all for the next week.  If we’re still not having success after that, we’ll take a break until after Devon arrives and we’ve all adjusted to the changes that will bring.  Hopefully, Chloe Mae’s a rockstar and we won’t need to worry about that though!!

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Are you a parent? We need your help!

Chloe Mae has been working on her potty skills for months now.  We want to give it the final push and get her out of diapers now though.  We’d really like to get this done before Devon arrives, but I feel like that means we need to do it now so she has time to get used to it before he arrives.  (Otherwise I’d say potty training is at least 4-5 months down the road.)  We made an attempt yesterday, but I’m not sure we have the right strategy.

She’d gotten a little wary (or possibly even scared) of pooping on the toilet, so I decided to bribe her to do it – 2 M&M’s for pooping and 1 for peeing.  For a girl who’d never had M&M’s before, her love developed quickly, but then she’d only go enough to get her treat, then get up and go back to it in 5 minutes – or at MissK’s this morning she peed all over the floor 5 minutes later.  Now, I’m not expecting a miracle with no accidents in a matter of days, but I’m feeling like bribery isn’t going to be the best route for us.

I want to have consistency for her, so we need to decide on a strategy ASAP.  And I need something that will work both at home and at MissK’s.  So, what are your expert potty training tips??


Filed under BabyMort, Milestones, Need Input, Parenting