Potty Training Boot Camp

So incredibly excited here. One more Calf is done with diapers!

I gotta say, the transition from diapers to toilet over the years has been really hard for us. I have never been interested in the parent-led method for a number of reasons, some of which are that it seems to take for-e-ver and makes a lot of messes.

Instead, we’ve opted to wait until the Calf was old enough to understand and be able to do the whole thing him- or herself. Which meant diapers until about 4 years of age.

(No, my mother in law was never thrilled about this. Why do you ask??)

Usually the Calves would have some days where they would be dry but refuse to use the toilet. With Calf #1 I eventually told him that his underpants wanted to be worn. Calf #2 seemed to prefer to not be wet or messy; this made it a little bit easier. Calf #3 spent a lot of time sitting on the portable potty seat (in the living room while watching movies) but she was never really interested. She was, actually, the latest to be done.

This time has been different, of course. Calf Number 4 would usually go Number 2 on the toilet–it was the Number 1 that wouldn’t “take.”

About a week ago, I remembered a technique we’d used with Calf #3. She wore a long-ish dress and nothing on her legs and spent a lot of time in the kitchen so that any messes were easy to clean up. It really didn’t take long after this before she understood that the potty was the place for it. The reward was that she would get to wear the coveted underpants!! after 3 clean, dry days.

So last Monday we started this method with Calf #4.

* Monday, Day 1: One accident.

* Tuesday, Day 2: No accidents when we were at home. We had errands to run and she wet her diaper while we were gone. (I couldn’t give her underpants because she hadn’t had 3 dry days. . . but I guess the diaper away from home won’t work, either.)

* Wednesday, Day 3: No accidents at home. Tried a Pull Up away from home, intending to get her to the toilet every chance we could. Unfortunately, one of the chances was a Porta-Potty and she refused to go in. She would do camp-style in the woods. But still, the Pull Up got wet.

* Thursday, Day 4: Home all day; no accidents–though there was one incident of peeing outside. (Thankfully we don’t live in the city.)

* Friday, Day 5: Home all morning; no accidents. I promised her a treat if she kept the Pull Up dry while we were gone–and she earned it!

* Saturday, Day 6: Gone most of the day. I promised her a BIG treat if her Pull Up stayed dry; it was mostly dry so she got her treat.

* Sunday, Day 7: Home all day with underpants! And–two accidents. :(

* Monday, Day 8: Dry all day, home and away, in underpants!

Yee hawww!! I cannot believe how excited I am to have only one in diapers again.

And the bonus: She’s my earliest to be done at 3 years 7 months.

I Used To

I realized this morning that I’ve fallen far from where I used to be as a mother and house keeper.

I used to meal plan. (Ahhh, those sweet days. . .)

Shoot, I used to cook! Meals now are often sandwiches or scrambled eggs, something quick. I don’t even use the crock pot much any more because that takes forethought.

I used to wash the table after each meal.

I used to blog. (Ha ha ha. What am I doing now? :) No, I mean I used to blog a LOT!)

I used to spend time connecting with bloggy buddies. I miss those people. I bet a bunch of those links in my blogroll are no longer active. :(

I used to study and memorize the Bible.

I remember after miscarrying, during a low time, a dear friend hugging me. “I miss you!” she said. “I bet you miss you, too!” It was more than just not seeing me as regularly as before. I just wasn’t myself. Yes, I did miss me. I don’t know that I’ve gotten back to me yet.

Some days it feels like I have.

Some days it doesn’t.

I never got to be the mother I wanted to be. The ideal, before having kids. I don’t know where those ideas came from but they did not take into account reality or how children really are!

My oldest is 11, nearly 12. Just a few more years and he’s gone and living like an adult. I cringe thinking about that. He’s got so far to go to be ready for that! When do we have time to do all those things that we wanted to teach him (and his siblings) before they were on their own?

How do I get back to where I was before? The good habits, I mean. Those that had to go by the wayside long gone. Now the idea of doing a menu plan or a Bible study makes my eyes roll up in my head. Where would I find time for this stuff? I’ve been doing everything by the seat of my pants for so long! Not just meal planning. School, taking care of the children, the house.

I’d love to have more order in the day to day life. But it takes time to plan and I’m swamped with just getting through the day. How would I add one more thing in??

The world is a merry go round racing a hundred miles an hour. Somebody stop this thing, I wanna get off!!!

Why I Ate A Bag of Pretzels for Lunch

From the “five is a lot kids!” file. Or maybe the “am I nuts to home school them all?” file?

It started easily enough. The older three calves were doing schoolwork, the 3 year old calf was playing, and I was sitting and nursing the 1 year old (who keeps pinching me–ow, I need to trim her nails!)

And then the 3 year old announced that she had poop in her diaper. (REALLY?! Can’t you tell me before you do it?!?!)

Still nursing the baby, I told her to sit still and I’d change her when the baby was finished. No, she couldn’t; it wasn’t comfortable to sit with dookey in the diaper I guess. So I told her to lie down, just wanted her to be still. I didn’t want her to run all over the house, leaving a little trail. Ugh. No, she couldn’t lie down, either.

Instead, she knocked over some boxes of things intended to be put into the crawl space. The 11 year old and 9 year old were oh so happy to interrupt their school work to clean it up. (Never mind that if I’d asked them to do it, they’d have complained to the high heavens.)

Finally the baby was (mostly) finished and I headed to the bathroom to change 2 diapers and use the toilet myself. On my way past the laundry room I throw the clean towels in the dryer and start a load of whites.

Finally, I get to the bathroom to change the diapers. I finished with the 1 year old and she toddled out to do whatever 1 year olds do after a diaper change. Then I moved on to the 3 year old. Clearly, she has no interest in using the toilet as she told me, as I attached the clean diaper, that she was going to go pee in her clean diaper. Uhhh, really?!?! I about flipped. I put her on the toilet to pee, her screaming all the while that she doesn’t want to.

Meanwhile, the 1 year old fell in the hallway on stuff knocked over by 3 year old that wasn’t picked up by the 11 year old and 9 year old. Somebody had already picked her up to comfort her but she was still fussy. I figured she would be ok and gathered a few stray socks to add to the washer and went back into the bathroom, where the 3 year old said she was done on the toilet and has wiped herself–with baby wipes–and put them into the toilet. AAAUUUGGGHHH! Don’t flush!!!!

I quickly grabbed them out of the toilet (eww, ick!!) and threw them away and THEN flushed, put a diaper on her, and put her to bed. Not because she needed a nap, but because *I* needed her nap. I could not keep cleaning up after her right at the time!

Finally, it’s my turn for the toilet. The 1 year old is still not being comforted by her older siblings; she has waddled in and wants me to hold her, RIGHT NOW. So I’m trying to hold a crying 1 year old and unbutton and pull my own pants down. (Tmi? Or keeping it real? Whatever.) I put her down to finish the paperwork and she starts fussing but then toddles off to do whatever 1 year olds do after being fussy. While finishing my job the 11 year old comes in to tell me that the 9 year old and 6 year old are playing baseball in the living room with a plastic ball of some sort.

As I can’t exactly dash in there to calmly and gently stop them (and really, could I do that at this point?? Probably not.) I yell, wondering where on earth their brains are!? Surely they are old enough to know this isn’t acceptable? When do kids develop brains and / or common sense, anyway??

Is it nap time yet??? For me, I mean?

And then the baby decided that no, she wasn’t finished nursing yet. Okayyyy, back to it.

At the end of this little scene, the 1 year old was finishing her nursing, the 3 year old was crying in her bed, and the other three calves were playing Pokemon instead of doing their school work.

And as I was hungry and the only thing nearby was a bag of pretzels, well, you get the picture.

All this happened in just a matter of minutes. Typing it up took half an hour. But I had to take the time to do this. I just had to jot it down because this, it’s my life many times.  It’s too crazy to be believable.

Or maybe it’s so crazy it’s believable.

Superbowl 2014!

Five years ago I started this blog and one of my first posts was about watching the Superbowl. (Wow, five years!? And still I haven’t updated the calves’ photos on the side bar. Nor have I added #6. Note to self. Take care of this in my spare time. Spare time? What’s that?)

Anyway this year is no exception. The mood here inside Moose House here is electric. Snacks are (mostly) prepared. Calves have asked this morning no less than 74 times “When is the Superbowl?” (Answer: Three hours! Two and a half! Two and a quarter! GO PLAY IN YOUR ROOM!)

I’m especially excited about this year. Last year I spent Superbowl Sunday out of state with my youngest while she was in the NICU. The Bull and the kids were at home. It was hard for us to be separated for so long. And it is GOOD to be home with my family all together today!

We will be eating well, of course. This is one of our main Superbowl activities. Aside from the game, of course.

This is one of our all time faves. This year I’m making it a little milder for the Calves and me to enjoy. (The Bull likes really spicy foods!)

Two new recipes to try this year: a slight substitute for our old standby.  And a new soup to try. The Bull doesn’t really like soup, so when he requests one I try to oblige. I’m going to make it less spicy though (I hope!)

One thing VERY different for us this year is that I’m serving some dairy-free alternatives to snacks.  Calf #1 has had to avoid dairy for the past few months. (It started a year and a half ago but we then took a hiatus.) He hates it. I hate it. But I’m trying to make life as easy for him, and really DF is better than gluten free. . . .

Anyway, some families will just opt to go completely dairy free but that doesn’t work for us. So I made him a bacon ranch dip (made with plain ol’ mayo, dairy free cream cheese, and dairy free “sour cream.” It’s actually pretty tasty. I’m also making two pots of the soup, one DF (using rice milk) , one regular. We’ll see how it works.

Aside from eating, I’ll spend my time working on this project. I started it for The Bull almost two years ago. Then I had to put it aside while I started a baby afghan. It’s taken a while to get back to it. I’m changing the colors slightly to make it look more like an M1 Abrams (a blast from his past.)

I must admit that while I will (mostly) follow the game, I am more interested in the commercials. I have seen a few of the preview commercials and the one that strikes my heart hardest this year is the Duracell commercial. I guess one of the players is deaf? Wow!

Why? She is at risk for losing her hearing because of some of the extreme life-saving measures taken a year ago. . . so I am noticing all sorts of things about hearing loss, deafness, sign language, etc. (So far she’s doing fine! She LOVES music and is talking much better than some of her siblings at this age. And we are monitoring her hearing every 6 months just in case.)

Well, I’d best get back to the kitchen to finish snacks. Hope ya’all enjoy the game!

What I Wanted To Post Last January

(In January 2013 my youngest was fighting for her life. So while I had lots of things I wanted to post, I was a little busy. So this thought, though it would have been neat to post then, had to wait.)

After my parents divorced, my mom told us over and over that she and dad had been married fourteen years. I gave it little thought at the time, but just accepted her counting.

Till The Bull and I had been married 13 years and a couple of months. Then I started to wonder: How many years were they really married? Was it 13 years and some months? Or 14 years plus a few months?

I finally added it up and what I had grown up believing was a 14-year marriage was actually only 13 years 7 months!!! Amazing enough, but even more when you considered that that mark, for The Bull and I, was January 2013.

Of course this blew my mind away! We have been married longer than my parents were!!

This isn’t, of course, a “Looks like we made it” kind of post. His parents were married 35ish years before his father passed away.  One set of his grandparents were married 50 plus years!

Nor am I saying that we are so much better at marriage than my parents–we’ve certainly had our share of marital unbliss.

But as a teenager, I pretty much had it drilled into my brain that nobody, nobody, NOBODY stayed married longer than 14 years (though it was actually, only 13+7.) All my young adult life I figured 14 was it. After 14 years, a marriage would self destruct.

Somehow, we managed to beat the odds, at least in my mind. I know there’s nothing magic about that 14 year mark.

But to have come this far. . . that’s mind blowing, to me! And through tragedy and trauma over and over and over. Wow. How did we manage that??

Here’s to many, many, many more years together, my dear Bull. ;)

January 2014 Update: June 2013 was 14 years. Still here. Still married. Still in love and (usually) happy together! ♥

Six Months, or, Where Has The Time Gone???

When last I posted, I was expecting baby #5. (Except she’s really baby #6, if you are keeping track.) I worked hard during the pregnancy to be healthy, eating right, taking my vitamins and supplements, and walking. Wowie, how I walked! 20 minutes a day, 4 or 5 or 6 days a week.

It ended up being my healthiest pregnancy. I felt pretty good (after the initial “morning” sickness wore off, anyway.) I gained less weight in this pregnancy than any other. (Well, except for that one. . .)

And her birth? Oh I was worried! But it was wonderful. Simple, straight forward, 7 hours from the first contraction to her birth (5 from water breaking.) I got to hold my baby right away and breastfeed her and thought we’d be in for a nice ‘babymoon.’

And then “it” happened. At about 3.5 hours after birth, we noticed that she was having great difficulty breathing.

And my precious little girl (“little” being relative; she was 11# 12 oz!) ended up spending the next 8 weeks in the hospital. It was horrible, dramatic, and terrifying. All the things a parent doesn’t want for her child, my baby endured. IVs, medications (MORPHINE! and steroids! OMG!!), intubation, surgery. We weren’t sure for the longest time if we would ever take her home.

But we did. And things looked like they would be improving and then after 4 weeks home she became jaundiced. Back to the hospital for another 12 days-and this one, interestingly enough, was MUCH worse than the first time.

She’s now home and doing very well. She exclusively breastfeeds! (And oh, how we had to fight for that.) She’s adorable and has the best hair of any of my babies; it’s red and curly! She’s showing some slight delays because of her early history, but at this point everything looks like smooth sailing.

I hope.

But always in the back of my mind is the idea that *this* cough, *this* snotty nose, *this* fussiness is a symptom of a big problem that will lead us back to the hospital and more trauma.

So here, once again, I find myself in need of some major healing. I need to get back in to see my therapist.Image

I’d mentioned last post that I was worried about having more difficulties, trauma, tragedy. Yup. We got it.

I feel kind of resigned, that this will be what the future will be like for us. Terrible stuff at every turn with no end in sight. Oh, sure, things are (relatively) calm right now. But just you wait, we’ll have more crap to deal with in a few weeks or months.

And yeah, I get that THIS is what life is. Difficulties and rough times, I mean. But ours seem to be huge and insurmountable.

Whatever.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I realize it’s been a long time since I posted. Sorry. Time flies when you’re having fun. (Or dealing with life!)

But I’m here briefly to share some news:

The Good

number6

(Isn’t it odd that the vertical line is so much darker than the horizontal line? Interestingly, another good friend got a similar looking test right before I got this one.)

We are currently just over three months away from meeting the newest Calf. It’s kinda exciting.  Thankfully, this pregnancy has been much better than the last one. There was nausea, but it was easier to deal with–and nowhere near as long lasting. I’ve also not (yet) had the horrible SPD pain that was so debilitating and excruciating.

I’m hoping too, that this baby’s birth will be better than the last one *shudder.*

The Bad

I was about 6 or 8 weeks along when my dear sister found out that she was also expecting! It was exciting to think about us going through pregnancy together, though we live on different ends of of the country.

And then she started spotting, then bleeding. After a horrible Saturday in the ER she thought that all would be ok. But no; she found out on Monday night that her baby was gone. (My faith in the US maternity care system has been shaken much these past years.)

So now, my sis gets to go through a lot of the same things that I went through. And I, the one person who could support her most. . . have been dealing with my own pregnancy. Do I tell her when I feel the baby move? when I hear the baby’s heartbeat at prenatal visits? should I tell her when I’m in labor? After I lost my baby I wanted nothing to do with pregnant women or new babies–difficult as one of my best friends gave birth just two or three weeks after I lost my baby. I couldn’t even look at the poor kid for the longest time.

The Ugly

The ugly is my attitude.

Things have been so hard, for so long, that I don’t know that we can really have anything truly good in life. Oh, there are beautiful “gifts” here and there. . . golden sunsets, cute and touching things that the Calves say or do, understanding friends with comforting words. But the pains and sorrows and losses  of the past SEVEN YEARS!!! have been unending, like waves of the ocean ripping apart a stranded boat. We don’t have time to deal with, to grieve, one trouble or a loved one’s death before the next one happens. It’s just been too, too much for too long.

And it shows no sign of stopping. Even this summer, we’ve dealt with a major health issue that threatens to radically change life for our family, and not for the good.

How can I believe that this baby’s birth will be a blessing–and not yet another trauma for us to have to deal with?  How much more can we handle??  When will life calm down for us?  How do we survive when it’s been one tragedy after another?

Goodbye Cruel March

I cannot tell you how deliriously happy I am that March is coming to a close.  Goodbye, mad March.  Hello and Welcome!!  April’s got to be better!!

There are so many painful, difficult situations that have happened to me in March in years past (or not happened. . .) and this year it was just too hard to ignore them.  So much for “moving on,” as people have suggested.  “Getting over it” doesn’t seem possible.  It doesn’t seem to work for me.

It would seem that grief needs expression, whether it be 27 years (my parents’ divorce) or 19 years (my first husband’s death) or 2 years (my due date with my miscarried baby) later.

A quote from a dear friend comforted my heart this month:

“Aren’t we amazing that we have the capacity to feel and hold things so strongly after what seems like a long time. I think it must have something to do with being eternal, with God’s time, and the incredible power of love and how ever fiber of our being conforms to our experiences. Pain doesn’t just go away and people who think it does are probably holding it somewhere else and don’t realize it.”

Next year I think I must be more proactive in doing “something” to soothe my hurting heart this month before it gets too bad.  I don’t think I have the time, energy, or resources to create a foundation or anything that grand.

But maybe a daily, focused gratitude would be in order.  Or a list of his favorite things.  Or a daily joke.  Perhaps a comforting song every day.

I don’t know what, but something must be different next year.  I don’t want to repeat this year, next year!!

Suffering and Painted Skies

I was feeling run down, sick, and/or extra tired last night after dinner so I decided to spend a little quality time in the tub with a book.  (Oh, I was multi tasking–I was also “changing my hair color,” as my 7 year old said. Cause I like color!)

Anyway I bought this book 17 months ago (for just one cent!! score!) but it’s just been sitting in my reading pile, waiting.  Although I enjoy reading, I just don’t often; its takes too much time.  And if I get sucked into a book I can’t stop till it is finished, and that gets in the way of my sleeping. ;)

But I thought the time was right for this book.  It’s not long; I was able to read it all in one night.

Besides, I knew the basic story and I thought this might be helpful for me right now.

If you are familiar with my story,  you may remember that this time of year is especially difficult for me.  And every year I get to the beginning of February and I think that things are fine.  Then we get close to the second week of February and I remember that there is a certain date coming up and I try to brush it off. “Oh, it’s fine, it wont bother me this year.”

And then that date comes up and it smacks me upside the head like a bag of bricks.  It does bother me, every year.  I thought I was handling this well but maybe I’m not, even now, nineteen years later.

So I thought I might be able to read this book last night. Who knows, maybe I just needed a good cry.  And while I did enjoy the story, it’s the perspective in it that I needed more than anything.

The basic story is that the author’s wife unexpectedly died and later he remarries. It’s a common storyline and I’m sure that many people have a similar story.  It’s my story too.

What’s unusual is the ways that  the LORD comforted him during these hard times in their lives–throughout the cancer and financial worries and even losing his beloved wife.

About halfway through the book I knew I’d hit on something good, something I needed to remember.  So I grabbed my highlighter marker, the one I’d gotten from my late father-in-law, yellow with a door in the base that twists to open a compartment with skinny post-it flags.  I flagged four passages while reading last night and putting the baby to sleep.

And because I know I’m not the only one dealing with pain, disappointments, sorrows, etc., I thought I’d share them.

page 73: “Suddenly, I saw suffering as God’s way of removing life’s nonessentials in order to reveal what is true and lasting.”

No joke!  After losing my loved ones, I hold those remaining a little more tightly and try to cherish the time we are given even more.  I can ignore the sticky table and piled up laundry and junk covering the floor–if only for a few moments.  These can be attended to later. My children, my husband, my siblings, close friends and family . . . I know they won’t be here forever.

page 91: “Late one night when I was putting Jack to bed, it occurred to me that the times of greatest growth in my life always had been times of intense difficulty and suffering.  As I looked down at Jack’s tiny form in the moonlight, it pained me to think that he too would suffer someday. I wanted to hold him, shield him from the evil in the world and protect him from any harm. Those thoughts quickly evaporated as God reminded me in my spirit that He loved this child even more than I did.

“I wanted a godly son. And if what the Bible says is true, fire brings refined gold. I stayed up that evening, meditating on the relationship between those two truths . . .”

He goes on to tell of writing a song for his baby boy, a song about finding the LORD in brokenness, learning to stand and rise above the difficult circumstances in life.

Honestly, I struggle with this. I know so many people who are hurting, truly and terribly hurting right now.  I wish I could make things easier for my loved ones.  I wish life were not so difficult for them.  I know they will be better people for what they go through, but I wish this would happen without the painful parts!

page 132-33: Isaiah 58:6-12: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. ‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.’ “

I know this isn’t very deep (I would love to study this passage in greater depth but can’t spend the time right now!) but I’ve heard it said that some people help others because it makes them feel better.  Maybe this is part of this healing that is talked about here–part of God’s plan?

page 134, “As during Cydi’s cancer treatment years, pain again had stripped away the pretense in my life. I only wanted what was real and lasting: God. When I was weary and in pain, the only thing that brought me comfort was thoughts of Jesus and His mercy.”

When everything around me is falling apart, the things that I hold to closer are things of the LORD.  I’ve found comfort in knowing that the LORD loves me, that He will make things OK in the end.  That He is close to the brokenhearted.

Although sometimes my cynicism gets the best of me.  I know I’m not alone.  A song I found when pregnant with my littlest spoke so clearly about that for me. I’ll end with this tonight. I think it’s a beautiful way to bridge the gap between the tragedy and pain . . . and the hope and healing:

Hard to Get--by Rich Mullins
You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt
Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said
Still I'm so scared, I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get
You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then
Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?
And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know
Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

Superbowl, Three Years Later

Yup, another year, another Superbowl.  Great memories.  I ♥ football.

OK, sorry, not really.  This year, once again, I watched for the commercials.

And the food.

And hanging out with my friends.

(No crocheting this time, I was kinda busy.)

And the little people that joined us last time?  They are bigger now. (I really need to update the blog. . .)  And they had their friends too.

And afterwards The Bull and I had to rent a certain video. . . I don’t think I’d ever seen a certain movie in its entirety.  Well. . . . I can’t say that anymore.

And ya know what? It is fun to think of ditching reality/ real life for a day and living it up.

Let’s do that sometime, ok friend?  :)

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