I know I haven't blogged a lot recently, but here are some things that have been keeping me a little busy lately:

Obviously these lovely ladies. 

Blythe is almost 2 and half. I love this age. It is exhausting and frustrating and trying but I LOVE this age. I want her to stay 2 and a half forever. 

Becks is growing and changing everyday it seems. Look for her 4 month update next week! 4 MONTHS?!

 I had a friend ask me to paint a picture for her new office. She moves around a lot and has worked in FOURTEEN different locations. She gave me all the locations, said she was thinking something with a map, gave me a quote and some colors and let me run with it! It was fairly time consuming but it was fun to have a project:

Obviously softball is underway again. I guess this officially means our state run is over.

I am also popping in to sub for my little homeschooling family from time to time.

And I have had the pleasure of getting to take more pictures for some beautiful seniors. I actually took Hannah's late last spring. I was lucky enough to get to teach her and coach her for a couple years. She is wonderful-- truly, truly wonderful. And, may I just add: we took these the day after prom. She got approximately 3 hours of sleep and didn't even wash her hair. And girls everywhere are jealous, for reals:

And then there was Avree. Oh my sweet Avree. I babysat this beauty when she was just a tiny thing, and my heart has forever been attached. I'm not going to lie, when she asked if I would take her senior pictures I wanted to say, "NO BECAUSE YOU CAN NEVER GROW UP!" But I figured that was futile so I gave in. And those killer green eyes? Are you kidding me? They were not retouched AT ALL. And again, girls everywhere are jealous.

AND THEN, because I cannot get any luckier, Avree's friend Melissa asked me to do her pictures. I'm glad I said yes because this long-legged model showed up!  This was the first photo shoot I've done where I haven't known my subject before hand, and she could not have been sweeter or more laid-back. And do I even need to say it? Those long legs? Girls everywhere are jealous:

**she was a trooper. It was about 4 million degrees and the bugs were nasty, but when I said, "Hey, lie in this incredibly itchy grass," she did it!

 I also took some pictures of two incredibly cute little boys, one of which just turned TWO. But I those pictures are on my other computer so they will have to wait.

And that, my dear friends, is what I have been up to these days.

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a day in the life [updated]

About a year and a half ago I wrote a little post about what my day looks like. I realized that has changed a bit, so here is my updated version of "a day in the life", for those of you who are even the slightest interested:
Pictures are not all from one day.
This all happened yesterday. 

7:20: Roll out of bed, re-swaddle Becks, lay her back down. I crawl back in bed.
7:50: Brent comes and tells me goodbye. I fall back asleep.
8:02: Blythe starts calling for me and I go get her out of bed. Hug on her. Wake myself up. Realize I need to wake up Becks to feed her for the day.
8:05: Wake up Becks with the help of her sister.
8:06: Turn on "Curious George" for Blythe and sit down to feed Becks.

8:15: Change Becks' diaper and put her clothes on for the day. Head to living room. Blythe proceeds to kiss all over Becks and talk to her and lay on her and sing to her.

8:20: While Blythe finishes "Curious George" I change her out of her pajamas. It's not even 9 oclock, so we are doing pretty well! :) She fights putting on her pants. I explain, yet again, that we have to wear pants in case someone comes to our house; you can't run around naked all the time.
8:28: Becks is happily playing on her playmat, Blythe is finishing her show, I sneak in laundry room and find some shorts and tank top to throw on [they are still in laundry baskets because I never fold clothes anymore].
8:40: Pour a bowl of Mini Wheats for Blythe, talk to Becks a minute or two, then go in bathroom to throw hair in ponytail and brush my teeth. Blythe hollers for me, I check on her at table and talk to Becks on my way back through living room. I rub some tinted moisturizer in, swipe on a little mascara, and call it good. I'm just going to sweat it off at practice.
8:50: Pick up Becks, sing her some songs. Carry her with me to kitchen.
8:55: Wipe up Blythe and help her down.
9:05: Help Blythe go potty.
9:08: Hold Becks while playing Play-do with Blythe.
9:28: Take Blythe potty again. Clean up her potty. Wipe up bathroom sink and counters while I have clorox out.
9: 37: Becks is tired. I swaddle her, I shoo Blythe out of her room but not before she sneezes and startles Becks back awake. She leaves. I sing Becks Amazing Grace and lay her down.
9:42: I put some bread in the toaster, and Blythe tells me she wants to make coffee. We make coffee and she barely spills any grinds-- bonus! While I stir in my creamer I send her to living room to get our quiet time blanket ready.
9:55: Blythe and I have our quiet time. I read mine while she reads and writes in her notebook, then she chooses to read about Jonah together. Then we pray.

10:05: Break from quiet time to potty.
10:18: I get my new book out to read and she picks a couple books and we read together. She doesn't want to read as long as I do.
10: 23: Blythe has a meltdown because she wants to look at my phone "pone" and I told her she has to wait awhile. Meltdown ends in timeout.
10: 26: I try to think of a way to teach her to stay focused on an activity for a little while. I set my phone's timer for 3 minute intervals and we play with one thing, then when timer goes off we move to the next.
10:29: Blocks.
10: 32: Play-doh.
10: 35: Puzzles
10: 38: Dora coloring book.

10: 41: She chooses puzzles again.
10: 44: Doctor.
10: 47: Read a book.
10: 50: She wants to read more.

10: 52: Potty.
10: 56: Flashcards.
10:58: We hear Becks start to wake up, Blythe comes with me to greet her. Becks smiles great big for us.
11: 02: I finally let Blythe look at my phone as I sit down to feed Becks.
11:03: A knock at the door. Torri has come to play! Blythe runs out to play with her I finish feeding Becks.
11: 06: Torri helps Blythe go potty, then builds some towers with her.
11: 15: I burp Becks and change her diaper. We go out to see Torri.
11: 25:  Torri and I try to talk while simultaneously playing with Blythe and Becks.
11: 32: My mom sends me a text inviting us to have lunch at the local mennonite store with her and Torri and my dad. I text Brent to confirm that this will work for him.
11:38: Brent says that sounds great. I scratch plans to make lunch! Yay!
11: 45: Torri hangs with the girls a minute while I throw a few things in the diaper bag and locate Blythe's shoes.
11: 51: I chase Blythe and get her to put on her shoes.
11:53: Blythe has to go potty.
11: 58: I put Becks in her carseat and find a burp rag that is semi-clean to take with us.

12: 03: Brent gets home, gives Blythe a "chocolate diamond" [Hershey's Kiss] for not having and accidents this morning, and  I ask him to put her on the potty one more time before we get in the car [she doesn't go], I locate my shoes, and we pile in the car.
12: 14: We order our sandwiches.
12:15: I show Blythe where the potty is and tell her she can use it if she needs to go.
12: 18: I share my ham with Blythe and give her a fruit bar I threw in the bag earlier.
12: 25: Blythe needs to go potty! Only papa can take her.
12: 32: I order a pineapple/coconut smoothie. I don't even love pineapple, but it sounded so good.
12: 33: Brent convinces me he needs to buy some candy. Malted milk balls.
12: 35: I receive my smoothie and it's the best decision I've made all week.
12: 39: We get both girls back in their carseats, say goodbye to Torri who is leaving for college, and take off.

12: 41: I share a drink of my smoothie with Blythe.
12: 42: Becks falls asleep.
12:45: We pass a turtle in the road. I tell Brent we should go get it for Blythe's first pet [there is a whole story here about a turtle I once had for two days and loved when I was younger].
12: 46: Brent pulls a U-turn. I jump out and find the turtle in the grass at the edge of the road and carry it back to the van. We aren't sure what kind it is, and Brent says something about it pooping in the van.
12: 48: I decide to leave the turtle on the edge of the road.
12:49: I share a drink of my smoothie with Blythe.
12:52: We get home, I carry Becks in, Brent helps Blythe in and leaves for work again.
12: 53: I swaddle Becks, who woke up during the transition, sing her Amazing Grace, and lay her down.
12: 57: I find Blythe playing with her blocks, and tell her she can choose one more thing to do before nap time. She chooses play-doh.
1: 05: Blythe tells me it's time for nap! We pick up the play-doh and I put a diaper on her, and she picks out "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" for her nap book.
1:12: I read "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom". She reads "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" to me…twice.
1: 20: We pray. She requests "The Cross Song" [The Old Rugged Cross]. I sing.
1: 23: I lay her down.
1: 25: I write the first half of this post and notice a missed call from my college roommate.
1: 35: I call her back. She is at work and can't answer. I leave a voicemail.
1: 38: I get out my paint supplies and the huge canvas I have been working on for a friend who commissioned me to paint her something for her new office.
1: 40: I paint and paint and paint.
2:55: I notice the time and realize I need to get stuff picked up, get things ready for my mom who will be watching the girls this evening, and need to feed Becks before Katie, the awesome babysitter, gets here and I need to go to practice.
3:08: I wake up Becks and sit down to feed her. I type up some info my mom will need when she gets here to watch girls after practice and send it to her. I get to read a little of the book I'm almost done with [All the Light We Cannot See… it's excellent].

3:18: Katie shows up.
3: 20: I burp and change Becks and bring her out to Katie.
3: 22: I lay out pajamas and a bottle for this evening. I get in van and leave for practice.
3: 28: I get to practice. It's a million and 20 degrees.
3: 35: I do the ab workout with the girls.
3: 42: I regret doing the ab workout with the girls.

5:07: We decide to let the girls go early due to the heat. I rush home.
5:12: I say hi to Brent and Blythe [Becks is asleep again], and jump in the shower quickly.
5: 25: I pull my wet hair back in a ponytail, wash my pump supplies, find some shoes, mom arrives, and we tell Blythe goodbye.
5: 32: Brent and I get in the car and head to St. Joe to meet up with our small group.
5: 38: The air conditioner on setting three stops working, and we bump it up to setting four which is the only one that works now. Full blast. [Remember?]
6:14: We get to our friend's house, have some tacos, hang out. I check in with my mom occasionally.
8: 12: We get back in the car to go home.
9:03: We get home, I feed Becks. I swaddle her. I sing her Amazing Grace. I lay her down.
9:20: Brent and I finish watching a Netflix movie about Steve Prefontaine.
9: 47: We crawl in bed. I read a little more of my book.
10:15: Lights out.
11: 02: Becks fusses a bit and I go give her her paci.
The end.

*This day was a little busier than normal due to lunch out and having small group-- BUT that means I didn't make a single meal, so that's fantastic. :-) 

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when you are weak

Have you read that verse in the bible, "When you are weak, then you are strong"? [2 Corinthians 12:10]
What about the one right before that: "For my power is made perfect in weakness."


We are a weak people, us humans that roam around on this earth. And I don't know about you, but there are certain times in my life when I feel particularly weak. 

Which reminds me of a time I was foolish enough [wise enough?] to pray for weakness. 

It was the fall of 2005. I was just getting ready to start my sophomore year in college. I had given up on the idea of transferring to be with Brent. I had given up on the idea of ever growing accustomed to the fierce wind and bitter cold of northwest Iowa. And I had given up on the idea of being a "perfect Christian." I wanted God to work in me.

So while laying on the bottom bunk on top of my lime green comforter, I opened a notebook and scrawled across its lined pages: Lord, use me until I'm empty, then fill me to overflowing. 

I was asking to be emptied.
I was asking to be made weak.

I was reminded of this youthful prayer the other day when I read in my Jesus Calling devotional: Come to me when you are weak and weary… I do not despise your weakness, My child. Actually, it draws me closer to you… Accept yourself in your weariness. 

Time and time again the bible not only reminds us that we are weak, but it reminds us that in that state of weakness, Christ's power is more evident to and through us.

You know what happened after that scribbled prayer when I was not yet 20?
I dove in to learning opportunities and service projects and real community and authentic friendships and led a bible study. God began shaping me and leading me-- kneading me into more and more of who He had originally created me to be. Life was very full.

And about two months after that prayer, in the same bottom bunk, I awoke to a horribly sore throat, and a near inability to move, the likes of which I had never quite experienced. Minus some puffy eyelids and a little cold the previous weeks, I had felt fine. But that morning I called my best friend…whose room was literally right across the hall, a mere 10 steps from where I laid. She answered, confused. "Renae," I mumbled nearly incoherent. "Would you please come bring me some Ibuprofen? It's on my dresser." Before I had even finished my request she was standing in my room, hand on her hip, looking at me. She wasn't concerned; She thought I was being a pain.

Probably why she thought I was being a pain: This picture was taken the night before. 
This was about two/three weeks before I woke up with a sore throat and super weak. My sister laughed at me…from across the crowded cafeteria… when she first saw me. Seriously, did no one this was an early symptom?! You're welcome for sharing this with you. 
Quickly, though, she realized I was serious. I knew it was just strep. I knew I just needed antibiotics. It was a Sunday, so I had to go to the ER. I could barely make it to the elevator to take me down one flight. Then I could barely make it to my aunt's car. Then I sat in an uncomfortable chair in the waiting room until finally they swabbed my throat. "You don't have strep." At that point I figured I was still in my bed, dreaming, because I HAD to have strep. He continued, "I'm afraid it's probably mono." He drew blood. I went to my aunt's and fell asleep for five days. Seriously.

Eventually we figured out a way to get me back home to Missouri-- a friend of my aunt's was driving to Omaha where my dad would transfer me to his back seat and drive me the rest of the way. [To this day, if the couple that drove me to Omaha were to meet me on the street and say hello, I would have no idea who they are. I simply used their backseat to catch my drool as I slept and they transported me].

I spent the next month acquiescing at home. My professors were awesome and worked with me. My mom was awesome and nursed me. Brent was awesome and visited me. I remember at one point thinking I could probably manage going back. My mom said, "Okay, walk through what your day would look like with me."

"Well, I would roll out of bed, get dressed, and then…"

She interjected, "You'd have to walk down the hall to the bathroom."

"Yes, I'd have to walk to the bathroom. Then I'd leave my dorm and start walking across campus to my first class… Mom, I think I'm going to go lay back down." It wore me out just to think about it.

I eventually recovered.
I eventually returned to school [and used the "I had mono" excuse to go to bed early often. Okay, I still do. ]

But somewhere over the course of that crazy, debilitating time I remembered the prayer I had written. I remembered asking to be used until I was empty. I remembered asking to be made weak. And I had a lot of quiet moments, propped up in bed, to pray and study and pray and read and pray. And when I returned to campus I was not just physically healthier-- I was rejuvenated in some very real parts of my soul.

And though that semester made me graduate Magna Cum Laude instead of Summa [I just had to google if Summa was spelled with one or two M's, so maybe it was more than just that semester ;)], it taught me things that I still carry with me to this day.

It taught me the importance of quieting ourselves before God.
It taught me the beauty of stillness.

It taught me about what being empty feels like.
It taught me about weakness in a very tangible way.

It taught me that God hears our prayers.

He emptied me, like I had asked.
And then He filled me to overflowing in ways I could have never expected when I first wrote that prayer.

And so now when I feel weak-- spiritually, physically, emotionally-- I remember the beauty of it. I remember the truth of the scripture that I felt that year: When you are weak, then you are strong. 

And so today, as the wind blows and the rain taps on the windows, I will accept myself in my weariness. 

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if I were teaching this year

My friend Hannah just blogged "if I were teaching this year" and it was timely and appropriate, and made me oh, so nostalgic. So, here it goes.
my first year

If I were teaching this year, today would be the day I woke up, headed to school, and greeted my wonderful coworkers for our first in-service day. We would plan and discuss, dream and create, and pray for a little time to work in our classrooms alone. I would start drinking out of the community coffee-pot again, tease our secretary if the decaf wasn't ready [so I could make myself a half-caf], and pour in an obscene amount of powdered creamer.

If I were teaching this year, I would have seating arrangements ready, I would have fluffed my reading-corner pillows, and I would have new colorful, freshly laminated posters on the wall. I would have slid into each desk and prayed for each student that would be sitting in them this year.

If I were teaching this year, I would have freshly sharpened pencils in the community cup on my desk, markers organized by color in the craft bin, and new purple Papermates lining my drawers for the endless grading that awaited me. I would have novels lining my shelves, and a head full of ideas about how to get 17 year olds to invest in the characters in them.

If I were teaching this year, I would be creating curriculum that went beyond the text book and got kids out of their seats and moving around and interacting and discussing. I would think of ways to involve the kids that sit on the fringes; I would think of ways to get something out of the kid that fails for others. I would be preparing stories of my own to share, in order to get my students to feel like they could share their stories with me.

If I were teaching this year, I would be creating a space in which everyone could become a writer. I would be coming up with prompts and ideas to get our pens flying across the page, our fingers across the keyboard. I would remind myself to push them to write and write until they think they can't write anymore, only to discover that lying within them is still the best story yet to be written.

If I were teaching this year, I would remind myself to write in big lettering across the front of the room: IF YOU WRITE EVERYDAY, YOU GET BETTER AT WRITING EVERY DAY.  I would remind myself that one of my number one goals is to teach kids to not be a afraid of a blank page-- teach them that everyone has a story to tell, and that their story is worth telling. I would remind myself to listen to them.

If I were teaching this year, we would open a book together and make a huge plot chart on the classroom wall and by the last page we would all feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. I would remind myself that THE TEST isn't everything, and that I teach STUDENTS and not just English.

If I were teaching this year, I would love my job with intensity, and pour myself into what went on inside my classroom's four walls. I would demand that it be filled with respect and laughter, learning and trying, discussion and safety.

If I were teaching this year, I would bust out the letter I wrote to myself when I made the decision to stay home two and a half years ago. I would read it, and remember why teaching is something I was born to do:

Dear Kelsey,

I'm writing this so that you remember just how much you love being a teacher. I am writing this so that you will remember that this is more than a job-- it is in your very marrow.

There will be days of frustration: the kids will be wound up, or cranky, or lethargic and the lesson will seem to fall flat. There will be days where the kids seem to pluck at all of your ever-lovin' last nerves. But hang on, keep coming back, because there will be even more days when the kids make you laugh, and you make them laugh, and it clicks and they understand why the protagonist of the story had to catch that bad break because all stories thrive on conflict. There will be days when that one student who you sometimes secretly hope is absent will be the one to say, "I look forward to your class everyday." 

When parent teacher conferences come around again, be confident in your abilities and decisions. Establish relationships with parents BEFORE these meetings come around, so that when they ask about a certain grade, you are not defending yourself or disagreeing with them or painting their child in a bad light, but rather you are continuing a conversation that began weeks earlier. And when another parent rushes to your table, waving their daughter's End of Course scores in their hands, don't assume they've come to yell… because they may be coming to thank you and they may be coming to inform you, with tears in their eyes, that they never thought she would be able to score in the "basic" category for reading, but that she did it! And they will thank you for that accomplishment, and it's okay to get a little teary-eyed with them. 

When you have a student that just can't seem to "get with the program," and you're about to throw in the towel, look for just ONE GOOD THING. And when she does that one good thing, whether it be remembering her book for class every.single.day that week, or only missing two on her quiz, or turning in her homework twice in a row, send a note home to let her parents/grandparents/stepparents know just how awesome you think she is. And then don't be surprised when she gets with the program. 

Although there will be days you want to, don't yell at your students. You are only waisting your breath and their time. Just expect them to behave, at all times, always, the way you want them to, and they usually will do just that. 

Pray for your students. When you are loving them and things are going well, thank God for them. When you are frustrated and exhausted, pray for them and for you. 

Get involved in activities with them outside of the classroom. Be the teacher that they see show up to their ball games. It only makes sense that when you show up for stuff they care about, they will "show up" in your class. 

Give them fair warning when you have a headache/stomach ace/back ache/or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. They will appreciate, and usually heed, this warning and both of your days will be smoother because of it. 

If they don't LOVE writing, or the novel you're reading, or the project that's taken you days to prepare for, it's okay. You can still be excited about it and even if they don't buy into it, they'll appreciate your passion. And on the flip side, when you're teaching grammar, or Puritan literature, or something else obscure that you HAVE to cover, be honest with them that they may be bored to tears, but that you're all just going to pretend like it's fun.  They'll appreciate your candidness. 

Trust your students. And don't just fake-trust them, really trust them. They can tell the difference. The same goes for respect. 

Create a routine in your classroom that works for each class. What works for one group, may not work for the group next hour. Be open and flexible. But still create a routine. 

Make sure your classroom is a safe place for everyone. Make sure everyone feels validated. Make sure everyone knows it is not okay to laugh at someone else's expense. And the first time that happens, make sure you deal with it publicly, sternly, even vehemently, so that all present can see that you are serious about everyone being in a safe place. But beyond that, deal with conflict in private. If a student misbehaves, stop the action, but confront them about it one on one. They will be surprised by your control, but even more surprised that you've taken away their audience. 

Share your life with them. Don't expect them to be open with you if you are not open with them. 

Be creative. Don't settle for bookwork when a hands on activity can accomplish the same lesson. Don't make them sit in their seats when they could be writing on the sidewalks or walls. Don't make them stay awake through a lecture when they could be interacting with one another in conversation that will teach them the same thing. 

Remember you are good at what you do. They can tell when you are confident, and they want you to be confident. 

And above all, remember that nothing done in love is ever wasted. 


If I were teaching this year, I would regret not being home with Blythe and Becks. The first days always sting a little, when the big yellow bus drives by and I know I'm not there to greet the kids. But I will be back. I will love teenagers in my classroom again, and teach them to read and write and communicate and sit in community with them. But until then, good luck to the rest of you that have chosen this wonderful profession on your first days back: nothing done in love is ever wasted.  

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is this something people blog about?

Can I talk about potty training on here?
Well, I'm going to.

We're potty training. And can I just say, "Whew." That is a tired-exasperated sound. 

Here's our story. In March Blythe turned two and I thought, Let's do this thing! I was a million months pregnant [translation: 8 months], and I figured it would be easier with the baby inside me than on the outside. I busted out the potty that Blythe had been gifted at Christmas [she still is young enough to not realize that she totally got gipped! shhhh], and the bribing treats, and the panties, and my patience.

After 1.4 bajillion accidents before 10:30 a.m., I decided she wasn't ready [something about bladder control], and neither was I [something about bending over to clean up messes and take down panties didn't bode well with my expanding pregnant-ess].

So we waited.

And then I had a baby. A newborn [because that's how most babies come]. I was tired. So we waited.

Then Blythe started telling us to "move back, please," when she was about to do some dirty work, and I saw the writing on the wall-- it was time. Her mama needed to put on her own big girl panties and admit it was time to take the leap ["putting on big girl panties" is a saying, please don't read that literally].

Brent's family swears by potty training when the Farmer's Almanac says is best: it's a real thing! They aren't crazy! So we checked the days. July 16- 21. It was getting close.

I asked experienced mothers in my life if they had any advice. Nearly everyone said, "Patience," and a lot added, "It won't be as bad as you think it will be. She will catch on quickly."

They were correct with the first point of advice.
And I think they have all forgotten the reality of potty training on the second point.

On July 16th, I busted out the panties, determined to not look back. I'd heard good things about just training them intensely, cold turkey- if you will. I didn't want to use Pull-Ups because if you check those puppies out, you'll see they are really just more expensive diapers.

And day one? It. was. not. good.
Not good.
I was discouraged. I tried not to scold or be mad when she had an accident. I tried to be positive. I tried to remain patient. But it was hard. I would have her sit on the potty and, nothing, then two minutes later, accident. That first day did not make me very hopeful.

Apparently Blythe didn't have much fun either because the following day when I was dressing her, I reached for her panties, ooohhhing and aahhhing over them, and she flipped out. She wanted nothing to do with them. So I told her she could just go bare bottomed. And you know what? She had ONE ACCIDENT all day long. It was night and day. Suddenly the angel choirs were singing again and I thought, Maybe she can do this after all?! 

We stayed home a lot, and went through a lot of dresses, but she was bare-bottomed for a long time, and continued to do awesome. After that first day, I stopped directing her to the potty, but just reminded her if she needed to go to be sure to sit on the potty. And she would! All by herself! She's not super talented at taking off or putting on clothes. Meaning: she cannot take off or put on clothes. Even the simple act of pulling panties down is beyond her right now [or she's too lazy to try and learn, the jury is still out on that one]. So by not having anything on, she could do the potty thing herself, which I think made a big difference. You know, two-year-olds. I also think by not having anything there, she was more aware if she needed to go. Or something?  I don't know, but the bare bottom thing worked! [She only pottied on one person! :) And it wasn't me! :) :)]

Blythe-- sans pants -- at Grandma Pat's

However, if you've been a functioning resident of the United States for much time, you understand that we can't run around bare-bottomed. Sooooooo, Blythe was going to need to learn how to wear panties.

After about two weeks of the intense, bare-bottomed approach, she was doing pretty well. She had yet to have a poopy accident, so by "doing pretty well" I mean that I thought she had it figured out and I thought all those mothers were accurate in saying it wouldn't be too difficult. I was already tired of cleaning up a few accidents a day, but I thought she had a good grip on things. Although her bare bum all day was cute to me, I figured other visitors were getting a little worried about us.


And it was like we were back to square one. Girlfriend would do whatever business she pleased in them, and not even feel the need to tell me. If she went 3 times on the potty and only had 5 accidents, it was a good day. I was so disheartened because she had been doing so well.

Maybe she wasn't ready?
Maybe we did something wrong by letting her streak for two weeks?
Maybe I should just go buy some more diapers?
Maybe Becks would be potty trained before Blythe?

Seriously. My patience was wearing thinner and thinner.

And then this week? It's like all of a sudden it makes sense! We are back to maybe one accident a day! She even told us IN THE CAR the other day! [So we pulled into Subway and I ran her in quickly. She went! Then said, "I need a sandwich." ] I think we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But is potty training easy?
I think my spot-cleaned carpet … and couch ... and bed will attest to the fact that no, no it is not always easy.
A friend from church is in the midst of it too and she jokingly said she just assumes her daughter will be the one to wet herself in Kindergarten. To which I say, not if Blythe beats her to it!
At a recent family reunion my cousin's wife realized we were potty training and she said, "Isn't it terrible?!" To which I say, yes, yes it is. They started, then stopped and waited a year before trying again. Great idea.

I wrote this post because:
I'm a documenter. You're welcome, Blythe.
If you have potty-trained your child, you are my hero.
If you have yet to potty-train a child, you are not the only one if it isn't easy.

I've had some friends ask for advice, which is funny to me since I literally just used some 409 on my carpet, but here is what I would say:

\ Don't start too early just because you are ready. Wait for their cues, and make sure they know how to empty their bladder. My pediatrician told me most kids aren't ready until they are 2.5 or 3, so there is that [though I know plenty have potty trained before that].
\ Go all in! Personally I think just ditching the diapers totally was a big help [she still wears them for nap and night and probably will for awhile].
\ Figure out what works for your kiddo-- if the bare bottom thing works, go for it. If panties work, go for it. If going on a BIG potty works, go straight to that. If they love having their own little potty, by all means invest $10 in one.
\ Watch the fluid intake. Some people say to make them drink lots-- this didn't work for us at all. Accident. Accident. Accident. The first few days I only let Blythe drink at her meals.
\ WATCH them. Closely. Soon you'll be able to tell when they need to do something!
\ I've pushed a lot of oatmeal and blueberries and things that will, umm, keep her moving just to help things in that area and honestly that has been easier than potty!
\ If you can, find a time you can be home as much as possible. We didn't really go anywhere for the first two weeks or so besides church and occasionally the grandparents'. [I did put her in a pull-up for church, just to be courteous of the nursery workers :), and for awhile if we were in the car].
\ Know when your kids get "zoned out" easily [like TV and meal time] and watch them closely during those times/avoid these for a bit. Other things for Blythe have been when coloring/painting, or when she is playing outside.
\ Have a potty in a convenient location for awhile so they don't have to hold it as long initially. For us that means the potty has been in our living room for awhile. To all our guests in the past month, I apologize. [We also throw the potty in the back of the van if we're going to be driving for more than a few minutes somewhere].
\ Find a reward that works that you can stick with. Blythe got to put a sticker on her potty, and a chocolate animal cracker. When she went poopy she got TWO crackers and mini marshmellows and got a sticker on a chart-- and when she gets 5 stickers in a row she gets an ice cream treat! [We are just finishing up the rewards though, because now she doesn't really care if she gets one or not, believe it or not!]
\ And the advice everyone else gave me is also true: you will need LOADS of patience. It can be frustrating, but I think disciplining for accidents is counterproductive. It's a learning process. We can't be mad at her right now. Stay positive. It's hard, but it really is the best approach.

Ultimately, like so many things, I've discovered that potty training is more about the adult in the situation: YOU are the one being trained. You have to remember to take them, ask them, encourage them. Diapers are more convenient for us-- though you're sick of changing them by the time you're kiddo is two, it really is easier to just let them go in them [in the car, in the store, in the back yard…], so learning to train yourself to stop what you're doing to take them is one of the bigger leaps.

Blythe apparently has some input. She wrote:
lkk';l/.,,mn bvcxz '…lkjhgfdsa

So there is that. She is so wise.

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