Monday, August 29

Prescription from the Beach...One Dose of Reality


           Yes. I, my friends, just spent five days last week in Bermuda. Yes, the water was as beautifully turquoise as everyone says it is and it was 83+ and sunny all week long. Not one single drop of hurricane rain or bad weather.

     And then somehow, perhaps by luck or perhaps an answer to my ardent prayers, we had a completely uneventful flight home from Bermuda to Philadelphia and then Buffalo, on Saturday. It was a bit cloudy and rainy, but I've felt worse turbulence on flights in perfectly sunny weather.  No one can believe that the hurricane did not affect our trip at all, but it is true. We were not affected, except for some short lived speculation in Bermuda that our flight would be cancelled, but it never was.  Hooray! and thank God. I truly believe it was His blessing and gift to us to have such a wonderful week of weather and easy travel. 

     For those of you who don't know the story, we did not just come into a great sum of money and find ourselves suddenly wealthy and deserving of a great beach trip...However, Scott did work hard enough this year to have reached well over 100% of his sale goal and this was the grand-prize- 5 days in Bermuda (next year it is Rome!).

   So, while we are not suddenly rich, I guess it was a pretty nice bonus and pretty lucky for us. 
   While Bermuda was wonderful, my pre-Bermuda expectations were impractical. Aren't they always?!

     I'm here to tell you two things that I learned from taking a trip to Bermuda with my husband...

1.) Taking a trip with your husband IS wonderful. It was nice to lay on the beach, ride a moped, enjoy quiet meals served to us and then cleaned up afterwards, no making of beds or loading dishwashers or picking up toys. It was just nice to take a deep breath...We smiled, we laughed, we momentarily forgot about all of the stressors that stand between us on a daily basis. That part was good and much needed. It was kind of like one very long date.   

But, as you all know, every wonderful date must come to an end and you have to get back into the swing of things and return to your normal routine. Which leads me to #2. 
2.) Taking an all expenses paid trip to Bermuda does not automatically wash over several years of long nights, gray hairs, busy children, busy days, or the stress that goes into parenting. It allows you to not think about it for a couple of days, but unbeknownst to me, it takes several days to unwind and then it's almost time to go home. So, despite being away from home for 5 days, you do not get through all the magazines you've wanted to read (I didn't get around to reading one), or the books (I read about 150 pages of one of the three that I brought), or refuel on all the sleep you feel you've missed in your time as a parent (I think we went to bed later because of work related parties, didn't nap, and kept busier seeing sights and enjoying the island than we would have anticipated). 
      I had created this idea in my mind that going away to Bermuda was going to completely rejuvenate me, refill me with ALL of the energy I possessed before children, equalize my mind and order all of the things in it to make me feel like an entirely new person. 

     I'm just wanting to tell you, that if you were insanely jealous that I got to go to Bermuda because you have ideas, like I did, that it somehow it miraculously makes you feel 25 again (like the hundreds of the other people from Scott's company who were also in Bermuda), erases all of tiredness that accumulates, or makes your gray hairs go away,  that's not the case...sorry to say...

     So, after five days away I feel...
a) even older...after spending time on the beach in what I thought was a pretty cute bathing suit until I realized my suit  covered a WHOLE lot more of my mommy belly and bum and made me look a whole lot older than the other girls on the beach who were quite young, without children, and looked as if they had stepped off the set of an MTV beach party. 
b) somewhat wiser and much more realistic because I realize that a trip doesn't change everything (as perhaps I had dreamed before!) which means that it truly is important to find your contentment, peace and satisfaction, not necessarily away from the craziness of life, but in the midst of the craziness of life...A trip certainly helps to set the stage for that, but it doesn't change anything for you.
 c) more connected to Scott. We were nit picking at each other like crazy before we left...about life, about preparations, about the kids. It's important to get away from all of that to realize you are actually a couple who enjoys spending time together... it's kind of like hitting the "refresh" button on your computer once in a while. 
d.) still tired...and realizing I just might always feel this way until...well, maybe after the girls are in college?!!! Who knows! 

     In conclusion...for those who were wondering... it was a lovely trip, with delicious food and beautiful beaches....
     BUT, don't think you'll never be able to catch up on life, reconnect with your husband, or feel energized again until you take some great tropical vacation... A trip is good, but not as miraculous as you might think...Find peace here, carve out time to connect with your husband now, and make time for some of those magazines and books while sitting right on your very own couch...It is there that you will actually find true contentment... 

      I'm not saying I've found it quite yet...I'm just saying I've figured out where it actually is...

And, of course, as much as a few days away is good, one of the best parts of the week was coming back on Saturday evening to the thrilled faces of our girls...this is us at the park earlier today-- Ava in her Bermuda t-shirt and Ella refusing to smile! 

Saturday, August 20

Enough is Enough

Oh my heavens...doesn't this picture just give you the heebie's just that it communicates SO concretely how my life feels sometimes....there is WAY too much going on...

It seems to me that in my reading of essays lately, I've come across more and more conviction and dialogue about the value of paring down our lives, saying "No" to more activities, and learning to be ok with having less, doing less, and being less.

Perhaps it just happens to be the books and authors I've been drawn to, or perhaps it is a tide of feeling that is beginning to swell in an attempt to counter what seems to be a culture that is pleading with us to do more, more, more. Buy more, more, more. Become more, more, more.

It's making me kind of tired...How about you?

I've started to throw out the pottery barn catalogs before I even open them. I've had to stop buying so many women's magazines because they are all telling me how to "live a better life", "buy better jeans", "make better meals", "be a better mom" and thus after a while reinforcing the message that my life needs to be improved significantly.

What if it doesn't?

What if I simply need to make do with what I have? Not decorate one more room, sign my kids up for one more activity, organize one more space with expensive organizers, etc. etc. etc.

What if I stopped reading all of those books, and magazines, and watching all of those shows and spent that time simply organizing a room based on my own ideas, or making a simple meal with ingredients already in my cupboard, or just coloring on plain paper with markers with my kids rather than feeling like I have to come up with some sort of decoupaged life sized animal that I will not have space to store.

In one essay the author mentioned that we need to begin living as if we have enough...which brought me to my title, something our parents used to scream at us when we were yelling, and carrying on and fighting with one another..."ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"

Perhaps it's what we need to start yelling at ourselves when we are carrying on from thing to thing, activity to activity, store to store, place to place...tiring ourselves out in an attempt to live a full and meaningful life.

I can't say that I have put these thoughts into action in a meaningful or life-changing way yet.

I was invited to be part of a Bible study this fall and I'd really like to join. I enjoyed watching Ava in gymnastics this year, and I think she enjoyed it to, so I plan to sign her up again. Scott has worship band practice on Wednesday nights. I'm considering running another 1/2 marathon in the Fall. Not to mention Ava starting pre-school, and all the many Fall/Winter pre-school, MOPS, and family activities that are certain to be just around the corner.

So you see, it is a struggle. There are a LOT of things I want to do, Scott wants to do, the girls want to do. Then there are things we have to do. And then lots of other things start to pile up on top of all of that. Sigh...How do we find...balance?

I hesitate to use that word because the practical living out of a "balanced" life seems illusive and unachievable, an ideal that we are always pursuing, but that is not attainable.

There is a lot I don't know about all of this...a lot of figuring out I need to do.

In the meantime, I can tell you a couple of small ways I've tried to live in a place of enough though:

-throwing out many of the catalogs that come into the house. I don't need any more baby stuff, or furniture, or house gadgets at the moment. If and when I realize I really need something I will go and find it instead of allowing it to find me.

-trying to consolidate my errands. I find that I can tend to run to a different store every night of the week sometimes. Enough is enough! I have better things to do, like blow bubbles with my daughters or sit on our patio with my husband. I'm trying to make lists, and realize that NOTHING I need is really that can wait a day or two until I'm driving in that direction, or until my next trip to the grocery store.

-giving more and more to the goodwill. We've hung on to a LOT of stuff. TOO much stuff. I think I often tell myself that I'm going to have a garage sale, or take it to a consignment shop, or find a way to sell it on Craigslist...and, in the meantime, it sits in our garage and our basement and our closets just taunting me with it's presence. It's not worth it anymore! I probably will consign some of the kid stuff eventually, but everything else is getting purged from the house and donated.

-trying to be intentional about not booking, planning, organizing too many activities for me to do with the girls throughout the week. I LOVE to go, go, go with them, often because it is a distraction from the things I really don't want to do; laundry, house cleaning, etc. The irony is that on the days I actually stay home to get the cleaning done, I feel WAY's all a balance...

Well, I've said enough...this post was inspired by the essays of two women whom I've recently is what they have to say on the subject:

Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God

"It is hard for a mother to say no, both for ourselves and for our children, for we live in a society in which people are defined largely by their activities and their accomplishments. Yet if se don't set these limits, who will? If we don't say no we become the weary victims of our own schedules. In a rush to do everything we miss, the genuine pleasure of experiencing one thing fully. We we race through life, we miss it." 
Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way

"We all have a kooky set of fears and loves that makes us do what we do. For me, I love experiences, and it makes me scared to think of missing out on anything at all. So that fear drives me and takes over my life, pushing me to do more, eat more, try more. But I don't want to be ruled by fears. There will be more life to experience tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day. And I don't have to be running after it all the time. Breathe, rest, practice the idea of enough...
...I don't know the way through to the other side of this one, but I do know that I don't want to be rule by ravenous anymore, and that full life is not the same as a full calendar. Full life is lived when the whole system works together, when rest and home and peace live hand in hand with taste and sparkle and go. I've believed the craziness for too many years, and while I still have a lot of questions, the answer I need to be giving most often these days is NO." 

Here is to living like we have enough...



Tuesday, August 16

Second Hand Fun

So...I lost three more library books. I'm blaming it on Scott this time. Partially because I think it really just might have been his doing...and partially because if it's his fault he can't be as angry about the $60 we're going to end up forking over to the library (for what it's worth, library fees don't bother me as much as say a parking ticket or speeding tickets...After all, the state doesn't need any more of my money, but the library could probably use a couple of extra bucks).

Here is what I think happened...I think those three books were sitting in the garage because we had a little garage reading, puzzle doing, coloring festival one afternoon about six weeks ago (the last time I saw said books), and I think Scott got all excited to rid our garage of some of the miscellaneous Goodwill stuff we also had sitting out there.

Now, you can see where this is going...I would have known not to put the library books in a bag with the Goodwill, but Scott, well, he didn't take those books out of the library, but should have checked with wifey before sticking any books in the Goodwill...hence, quite obviously his fault.

So, after searching the house high and low yesterday, every closet, every toy chest, every bookshelf I could think of, I determined that my only, slight, last ditch effort would be to actually take a ride to Amvets to see if the books were somehow still on the shelf, if that is in fact where they ended up.

While Ella was sleeping this afternoon, and Ava was NOT (did you catch that, NOT. NOT. NOT) napping...(sigh), I put Ava in the car and told her we needed to go to a special store to see if we could find our library books.

She willingly obliged.

We entered Amvets and the bargain shopping addict in me needed to sift through at least a couple of racks. We found some very cool yellow tropically flowered women's button downs...I held one up and Ava said, "Mommy, why do you like that?"

Good question.

(for the record, I didn't really, I was just being funny, though I think my daughter is now seriously questioning my fashion sensiblities)

And then, and this was my FAVORITE part of the trip, Ava held up this shirt, and with the most passionate and sincere voice said,

"Ohhhhhhh Mommy, I think you should buy this."

Oh my goodness. I almost peed my pants laughing when I looked over at what she had picked out for me.

Yes, she wants her mother to look like a tramp, errrr, Disney Princess, err, trampy Disney Princess. Did I say that out loud?! No more Ariel or Alladin for her!

For the record she did go on to say, after inspecting it a little more closely, that she was thinking it might actually be a bathing suit and not a shirt...

I agree. Definitely more bathing suit than shirt.

We then made it over to the shoe racks where she picked out a pair of camel colored peep toe 3 inch heels for me...I did try them on for her, with my fuzzy legs, dirty t-shirt and black running shorts. I also almost fell over and broke my ankle, right there in that Amvets aisle.

Finally making it to the book section I located 2 large rubbermaid bins of books.

Sadly, our library books were not in those bins.

I did buy 6 children's books for .33 each though!

And a stopwatch that I found at the counter for $1.98, perfect for the speed workouts I'm supposed to start doing for the 1/2 marathon I just decided I think I'm going to train for. I am serious...even though that may have sounded sarcastic.

So, all in all, it turned out to be a good afternoon. Honestly, THESE are the moments I absolutely positively will miss someday. The completely funny, innocent, unexpected things that our kids say as they try to process the world, their views of beauty and what they like and don't like, and their innocent cooperation to hang out at places like Amvets and not think any better or worse for it.

Friday, August 12

A Day in the Life of a SAHM

Warning: The following post was written by a very tired, PMSing, kind of crabby momma who feels like there are a lot of people in the world who do not understand what it is like to be home with two children, 2 and 4, all. day.long.

To those of you who do understand, I love you, I thank you and you my friends are invited to my pity party...if you really want to come that is...

To those of you who don't understand, or think it is luxurious to spend an afternoon lolly gagging around grocery stores and libraries and at pools with small, needy children who have incessant requests, climb things compulsively and never stop talking...maybe you should read on because you could use a good dose of reality.

Just to be up front here, I never said I was a "kid" kind of person. I mean, I liked kids a little bit more than my husband before having our own...he would actually ask to be seated at tables away from children in restaurants, and cringed at the site of a small child seated within 7 rows of us on an that I think about it, maybe all of this craziness is God's way of setting Scott straight...and maybe I should head out and start selling 401K plans while he hangs home with our nutty children.

No, I wasn't that bad. However, you would NOT want to put me in the nursery with other children at church...I'd probably scowl at you if you told me your child hadn't pooped in days and that you had put an extra diaper in the bag 'just in case', or that sometimes, just sometimes, little Jenna has separation which I'd say "Dear mother, I'm going to have anxiety if you leave your separation anxiety prone child with me so you better just hang out here while I go and see if I can volunteer to clean some toilets or take out the garbage instead."

Nope. I wasn't hard wired with the patience of a kindergarten teacher, or a preschool music instructor, or a daycare worker. They're all saints in my book.

I have a limited supply of energy. I get overstimulated VERY quickly, and I tend to like things sort of orderly and non-chaotic.

Which is why by about 1:30 everyday I'm thinking about jumping ship and just showing back up at around 7:30 to make sure the house is still standing.

So, it is in the context of all of that that I write this rant about how non-stop these days are sometimes.

Like today...

I got up at 7:30 for a chiropractor appointment...I try to fit them in before Scott goes to work, just to make the latter part of the day less complicated.

When I get home at 8:05 Ava's eyes are all red and teary. Apparently she came down the stairs to find me and when she did not see me in my usual spot in the living room she decided to sit on the stairs and cry while Ella and Scott were still up in bed. Apparently it doesn't matter that Daddy was upstairs...if mommy is not around life is pretty sad...

The day progressed from this...

...Ava and Ella both ran to me and whined about who could hug me first
...Ella threw herself on the floor because Ava beat her...

...I did my best to navigate the crises...

..I turned television on mostly to offer some quiet while I picked up the messy kitchen from the night before (we got home late and never cleaned up), and make this morning's breakfast...
...the girls finally come over to eat breakfast, but just seem to whine about what they like and don't like, and irritate each other by putting pieces of french toast on each other's plates...and then whine some more about how they don't like that the other person is putting french toast on their plate...

...I did my best to navigate the crises... the time 17 minutes had passed on the clock and hardly a bite of food into their mouths because they had spent so much time irritating each other and whining to me, I finally set the clock on the microwave and threatened that if all food was not eaten in exactly 6 minutes that we were not going to go to the pool with their cousins.

...I've never seen food eaten so fast!

...we finally got dressed, gathered suits, towels, floaties, phones, juice cups, extra underwear for Ella and a couple of other miscellaneous things to get in the car...the next 4 hours were a blur of....

drive to my sister's four kids while she finishes doing dishes in the utility sink in her laundry room because the poor mommas kitchen has been under construction for 6+ months her clean her playroom and tidy a few things upstairs since her house is usually as trashed as mine these days...take Ella to Aldi with me to get a couple of groceries...try to keep Ella from plunging out of the cart and onto to the floor for 35 minutes in Aldi...pack up our groceries while entertaining Ella with fruit back to my sister's house...shovel food into my mouth and try to feed Ella...put on bathing suits, gather up floaties and sunscreen and towels and all pile into my station wagon...

yup...did you catch that...4 kids and 2 moms in one old station wagon that has 190,000 miles on it, and a total of 5 seats...I'm sure you can do the math.

Nope, it's probably  not legal to do that, but we were just driving to the neighborhood pool right around the corner.

yup...her husband just became a police officer in their town and I think it would have been pretty funny if he and his teaching officer would have been driving by us as we illegally drove to the pool.

Her 1-year old cried a lot because he's teething. My 2-year old ran near the edge of the deep end more time than I'd like to count while I was trying to tend to Ava which gave me heart palpitations. Her 3- year old isn't super comfortable in the pool so she tried to help him and his brother simultaneously. My 4-year old does not know how to swim either, so I was back and forth between the big pool and the baby pool at her whims.

Now, I know what you're thinking...why would you crazy ladies take 4 non-swimming kids to the pool in the first place...

Back to my original point...if you haven't had to try to entertain preschoolers by yourself, every day for 40+ hours a week, you wouldn't was a plea for 1/2 an hour of activity that would hopefully result in a chance for us to actually talk to each other for more than 2 minutes consecutively.

We finally got back to my sister's house an hour later...I threw all of our suits in the dryer and gave the kids a snack. Katie put the 1 year old down for a nap. My 2 year old spilled her juice box all over my sister's new hardwood floors and leather ottoman. The 3 year old shouted uh-oh and the 4 year old reported the entire event to me.

I gathered all of my refrigerated groceries, not quite dry bathing suits, remnants from lunch and all sorts of other miscellaneous stuff, jammed it into the back of my old, blue station wagon with the girls bikes which I had brought just in case, jammed our floaties in, slammed the door and announced to Katie that I was exhausted and that we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies in our car.

She laughed, said she was going to sleep and we departed ways.

Ella spent half of the drive home protesting her upcoming nap. I spent the entire way home telling the girls how much I needed a break. Ava told us all that she was not planning on sleeping.

Scott called to tell me he'd be home from Syracuse at 6:30, just in time for the Kirby sales guy to show up at 7:00. I wanted to be nice to him on the phone, so I basically just didn't say anything...

Some days that's all you get from me after I've been with the girls all morning...crabby or nothing...I usually think the nothing is nicer so silence is what you get....

Except for you guys...but you are choosing to read this, so you get the entire earful..

For what it's worth, I do realize that a lot of this is a matter of perspective...that I'm a very blessed woman, with a wonderful husband and very cute kids...

...but let's face it...even cute kids can drive a momma crazy after a while...

...I'll work on the perspective thing tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 10

Becoming Bamboo-ish

     While I cringe to think about how quickly August is going to fly by and September will be upon us, the truth is kids will be donning backpacks, morning busses will be returning to our streets and daily schedules will be changing again sooner than we'd all like to think.

     I'm very much still in the preschool stage of things so this change of seasons, from summer to the inevitable fall is not quite as dramatic for us...we'll still have a few more weeks of lazy days outdoors, swimming pools, riding bikes and blowing bubbles to do as care freely as we like.

     Ava is, however, starting preschool in just four short weeks, so that will be a change of pace for us. She will be going Monday, Wednesday and Friday...and as much as I am not looking forward to the hectic pace of those three mornings a week I think it will be a good precursor (for all of us) to the inevitable kindergarten (GASP!!!!!!!) that will follow next year.

     If there is one thing I have learned most significantly as a parent,  it is that things are always changing. Your kids are always changing...from nursing infants, to smiling babies, to curious toddlers to crazy pre-schoolers...and it happens way quicker than you'd ever think. In some ways it has made me want to be more controlling and on top of things because I often like to know what is coming around the corner...if I plan now, I often think, I'll be able to manage the chaos that is likely just around the bend with potty training, or terrible twos, or the giving up of naps, or any of the other inevitable milestones.

     In other ways it has made me a much more lenient and flexible person because I realize that I have WAY less control over things than I'd like to when Ella refused to go potty and then just decided one day she was potty trained.

     Like the way Ava has slowly drifted out of taking daily naps and I've had to adjust to a new schedule.

    Sometimes I have no control. Or, at least WAY less thank I'd like to think. They are also little humans with preferences, and the ability to make decisions and ideas about how they'd like to try to do things. As a parent it is my job to curtail their requests and desires and whims sometimes, and to simply let them be at other times.

    So, here I am, blogging quickly from my bed while Ella sleeps and Ava plays quietly in her room. The new routine is that Ella goes down for a nap, I spend some quiet time in my room either taking a short nap or reading or writing and Ava plays quietly in her room. It's good for all of us...Ella needs the sleep, I need the break (and sometimes the sleep!), and Ava has learned to creatively make up games on her own with her dolls and her games and her puzzles in her room.

     Seasons change. Our kids change. We change. It's a good thing.

     Change brings growth.  Change often IS growth.

     It's kind of like the Japanese Proverb I found online...

               "The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists."

     I'm going to work on being bambooish today.

Wednesday, August 3

The Offering of Flowers

I picked flowers for Ava this week.

Why? Because I saw them and I thought about her. I thought about how she loves to pick flowers from the grass, from fields, on walks, anywhere we see them and no matter how much they are actually like weeds (like dandelions) or not (like daisies).

I thought about how she picks them because she thinks they are beautiful (even though our more mature adult minds eventually convince us to believe that there is not much beauty in weeds) and there is an impulse in her, an impulse that comes from her heart, the place that she loves that says, "I want to pick these for my mom because I love her and I think she will like them."

Maybe it is one of her love languages. Gifts. The giving of flowers. I wanted to love her back using her love language. So I picked these flowers while I was out on a walk with the intention of giving them to her when I got home.

It was a walk I had taken to clear my head. It was a walk I had taken in part because I was frustrated with her. With her whining, with her neediness, with her 4-year oldness. It was a walk that I had taken because my mind was literally numb by dinner time when Scott was finished with work and offered to, prodded me to, go out for a bit on my own.

By the time he was able to take over I had no energy to walk, or talk or deal with one more mess or dirty dish. I had wanted to go for a run (or so I had thought earlier in the day), I had wanted to be productive that evening (or so I had also thought earlier in the day), but all I could do was be numb and tired.

I asked Scott if he wanted to go for a walk with me and we put the kids in the double stroller (even though Ava is almost too big for it) for a couple of blocks.

Unfortunately, the whining came along for the walk as well. I want to walk. I want to go home. I don't want to sit in this stroller anymore. 

And so eventually Scott said, honey, you keep walking I'm taking the kids home.

And so I went. And walked fast and hard. Away from it all.

And then I saw the flowers. The weeds. The beautiful, white, lacy weeds and I thought about Ava and how much I love her in the midst of it all. So I picked the flowers, a small bouquet to take home to her.

As a token of my love for her. Perhaps as a peace offering between us.

She was asleep by the time I got home, so I put them in this little vase, a vase that an art teacher I used to work with gave me as a gift once. I treasure it because I treasured her opinion about things. She once told me, when Ava was only a couple of months old, that even though she had to sacrifice many of her artistic desires and passions in raising her own children that come to find out they, her children, were her most beautiful works of art.

I placed them just so on Ava's dresser while she was sleeping so she'd see them in the morning.

When she woke up the next morning and came down to snuggle with me on the couch I said good morning and then, "I picked some flowers for you last night. I put them on your dresser."

Her face lit up. "I saw them," she said brightly.

That's all she said. It's all she needed to say. I knew in her little 4-year old world that they meant the world to her, and that meant the world to me.

Monday, August 1

Potty Training 102

Well, we've entered potty training 102.

102 in part because this is a second child, and so you view things differently, feel a little bit more confident about how you're going to approach things, have it all figured out and planned right down to the m & m's you'll offer for success.

102 because your stubborn second child has her very own idea about how things are going to go and not go...literally...and you realize you're really starting all over with new rules, new ideas, and new approaches. Because the cool tree chart and stickers and m & m's and potty dancing and fruit chews you used with #1 have no impact, bearings, or even remote successfulness with #2. It's almost as if she's figured out that she's a different kid all together and is demanding a different approach just to verify her uniqueness and originality.

Listen lady...I am NOT Ava so don't even try the same tricks on me. It ain't workin' here. Got it? 

If you know Ella at all you'd know that's exactly how she would deal it to me to. I mean, can't you just SEE that in her face here....

I dreaded having to potty train Ava and it ended up being a non-issue. Ella came along and I felt so strongly that I did not want two kids in diapers any longer that we started potty training Ava before her second birthday...she was mostly potty trained (except for nighttime) by her 2nd birthday...she did things "according to the books".

I gave her a lot to drink. I left her diaper off. I rewarded her first with stickers and then with M & M's. When I pulled the M &M's out she started peeing more times than I could count...I began to wonder if she had a bladder the size of a horse. It was all pretty easy.

So this time I thought I had it all figured out.

Ella....Ah, Ella.

I gave her a lot to drink. I left her diaper off. I put a sticker chart up...

...She peed on the floor.

Again, and again, and again.

When she thought I really wasn't getting it that she wasn't ready, she pooped on the floor. You know...just for emphasis.

No inkling to make it to the bathroom. No desire. No interest. She actually started throwing temper tantrums in which she demanded I put diapers back on her.

Usually I try not to give into requests that come in the way of temper tantrums. However, when pee on the floor is the response to my not giving in...well, I threw up my hands, put a diaper on her and threw her infant potty back in the basement. I told Scott to stop pushing her and I decided if she was going to be in diapers until she was 3...well, so be it.

And then, just as Ella likes to do, she just started going on her own. About two weeks ago, and now consistently every day. I've heard other mom's say that this is how it often push, you push, you push and they push back.

You stop pushing and viola!    
sitting on potty with underwear on! 
I suppose we're not all that different. I don't like to be pressured into things either. I'm kind of stubborn that way.

So anyway, we're far from completely there with Ella, but she has made HUGE strides, all by herself, at her own pace this week and last.

She gets up in the morning, takes of her diaper and gets a huge grin on her face when she pees.

No surprise here, but she actually refuses to use the kid potty...she prefers a little training seat on the big potty. It's gotta be her way.

I'm wondering if potty training and how it goes is actually the litmus test for how to approach the girls for all experiences in life?!  Ava loves me close, loves instructions, accolades & praise. You say pee, she did...especially if chocolate is involved. out unless the time is right and she is ready. I could praise her up and down, tell her she is the best kid on the face of the planet and offer 7 lbs. of chocolate and she would just grimace, raise her eyebrows at me, put her hands on her hips, and give me the stare down until I decide to leave her alone. I've never seen a kid be able to hold a pout for so long without laughing or giving in.

And, my new favorite line from Ella this week...often shouted quite loudly to either myself or Ava...


Heaven help me!