Sunday, January 31, 2016

Adventures in Potty Training!

As I am sure most people know, parts of the East coast got slammed with Blizzard Jonas last weekend.

Since I knew we would be holed up for a while with nowhere to go I figured I would take advantage of the situation and work on potty training Zach.  He just turned 3 in December and we have attempted learning how to use the potty two or three times before but nothing has ever come of it.  He has just had no interest at all.  With Samantha we never really pushed her to train and then one weekend, about a month after she had turned 3, we could just tell it was time.  She was so easy to train, figuring it all out herself and running with it.  There was nothing like I had read about on websites -- accidents all over the place, wetting the bed, holding her poop.  We didn't have any of it.  She day and night trained all at once and we never looked back.

I could tell from the get go that things would be more difficult with Zach.  He would tell us after he had gone in his diaper but could never tell us when he had to go.  This proved difficult in the beginning because the method I decided to try had me putting him on the potty every 20 minutes.  He would sit for 10-20 seconds and say he didn't have to go and get up and run off to play.  No doubt, a few minutes after he sat on the potty he'd yell that he had peed on the floor!  I was not going to force him to sit on the potty if he didn't want to, so both times in the past we decided to just wait it out and try again when he seemed more eager and willing to spend some time with his little froggy potty.  When we started last week, it was more of the same, mostly playing and not wanting anything to do with peeing.  So away the potty went but this weekend my dad had been getting on Zach's case about his diapers and every time we talked on face time, my dad would ask to see what kind of pants Zach was wearing and ask Zach why he wasn't wearing big boy pants.  This got Zach angry and insisting that he wore big boy underpants.  This time he seemed really into it!

We have a froggy toddler potty that we've had since Samantha was little.  We keep the potty in our family room so that it is easily accessible at all times.  Once they start night training and are able to pee independently, we put the potty in their room overnight so they can go alone and aren't wandering the house to go to the bathroom.  We also put the potty in the trunk of our car when we're out and on long trips so they aren't stuck using icky public bathrooms and you aren't pressed to find one when they have to go RIGHT THIS SECOND!

I know most blogs say to load your kids up on drinks so that they constantly have fluids moving through them and need to use the bathroom more often.  My kids are naturally big drinkers and have a cup of milk or water at the table for them always so I didn't really push additional drinks on them.  We also don't really use treats to reward them after peeing.  I mean if he's going once an hour or more that is a lot of treats!  The treats also didn't seem to make him more motivated to go so we just skipped them.

Next, I made sure we had plenty of underwear on hand.  I have bought a few packs for Zach the past few months and my aunt and brother both got him some for Christmas so he is definitely good to go.  I admit with 2 adults and 3 kids we do A LOT of laundry, but I don't want to feel pressured to do laundry quickly because he's out of undies.  So while 30 some pairs may seem like a lot, at the beginning when they may be having several accidents a day (or hour!), it's definitely not too many!!  I also let him run around in only his underwear so he doesn't have to worry about getting more clothes on and off and I don't have to worry about more pee soaked clothes to clean.

Zach's current top pic as you can see is Paw Patrol.  He also has Thomas, Cars, and Super Heroes.  I make sure to always let him pick which pair he wants to wear so that he's excited about putting them on.  I told Zach that his characters don't like getting wet although that backfired on me because a Paw Patrol character Zuma likes getting wet so I had to explain he likes water but not pee!!

Our first day training got off to a rough start.  I set our Amazon Echo Alexa timer for 20 minutes and each time it went off I had Zach sit on the potty.  He peed a few times and there were a few times that he didn't have to go.  I got confident and turned the timer up to 30 minutes and of course at the 27 minute mark he had gone on the floor.  No big deal though!  I never scolded him, but praised him for trying his best and said that he'd get it next time.  I never wanted him to feel bad for having an accident.  Unfortunately after half the day he was over it and once we ate lunch he wanted his diaper back.  Day two he had 3 accidents on the floor but lasted longer with the underpants on.  Yesterday though (day 3) was a completely different story.  My husband got up for work and changed Zach's diaper and put on his underpants and then put his feeties back on before leaving.  I had been in another room taking a 30 second breather when Zach ran to the door and said he had peed.  My mind immediately jumped to soaking wet fleece feeties but he said no, he had gone on the potty.  Of course I didn't believe him, but I opened the door to see his feeties in a pile on the floor in front of his potty and the potty full!!  His first time ever going unprompted.  He continued all day long going when he needed to and if I noticed it had been an hour or two since he had last gone, I asked him to sit, which he usually did.  He went all day with NO accidents!!

I knew not to get my hopes up and it was a good thing I didn't because already today he has had 2 accidents within the span of 30 minutes.  He still seems to be excited about using the potty though and the first thing he asked when he got up was if he could put on his underpants.  I am really hoping this sticks and we can get him completely out of diapers soon, though I must admit I will miss my cloth (even though we only use it part time).  Zach is excited for the "prizes" he will earn once he is completely potty trained.  He will get to go to the store and pick out a new toy and daddy is going to build him his very own big boy bed!  I am excited at the prospect of only having one child in diapers though I am not so secretly hoping we have another little one to diaper very soon!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Miss Eliza

Since I took a blogging break after Eliza was born, minus a few quick posts, I figured I should probably give some updates!  

Since I have posted about her heart in the past, I'll start there.  Eliza has been back to see her cardiologist a few times since my first post, and unfortunately (or fortunately!) we don't really have any answers or updates at this point.  Each time we've gone back I've been told we would do the repeat echocardiogram at the following appointment.  However, we still haven't had that repeated!  Thankfully, her symptoms of the blue legs and lips has completely gone away.  At the times of our last appointments they were still happening, however, not nearly as frequently or severe as when she was a newborn.  At both appointments the doctor felt that Eliza wouldn't be able to lay still for the length of the exam and since her symptoms have improved so much, we both agreed that the risks of sedating her outweighed the benefits of having the test preformed again.  Within the next few months I will need to take her in to have the test repeated so we can find out if there is an ASD or PFO.  She has had EKG's at all of her appointments that look great and while her murmur is still present, it is less severe.  So for now, things are well with her heart!

As with all my kids, hah, she now has yet another issue going on.  In September, Eliza developed a high fever shortly after getting her 12 month vaccines.  I didn't think anything of it and wasn't planning on taking her to the doctor but I had Zach in for a sick visit and just mentioned that she had a fever.  As is typical with my doctors office, they wanted a full workup.  Their primary concern was a urinary tract infection so we taped a bag to her but of course she didn't pee.  They eventually sent us home with instructions to return in a few days if she wasn't feeling better.  Unfortunately she didn't get better so we went back so they could give her a catheter.  That was awful!!  It came back that she did have a UTI and on antibiotics she went.  At her 15 month check up, her pediatrician said that she'd like Eliza to have an ultrasound on her kidney's and bladder to make sure everything is formed and working properly.  She also ordered a test called a VCUG which is an xray of the bladder to see if urine goes back up towards the kidney's rather than out the urethra.  Eliza just had these exams 2 weeks ago.  The ultrasound went great and her kidney's and bladder are all perfectly formed and functioning.  She was so cute during the exam, I was actually expecting her to wiggle around a lot but I set her on the bed and told her to lay down and she went right down.  Every time she lifted her head I would just say, "you need to put your head down Eliza" and she did.  It was so adorable!!

The VCUG was a little more difficult but she did great for that too.  A nurse came in and inserted a catheter (which thankfully went in on the first try, unlike at the pediatricians office) and then they hooked it to a bag which pumped in some sort of solution to her bladder.  Once her bladder was full, we just had to wait for her to pee.  It was brutal because she had to be swaddled down which she hated and tech doing the exam explained it like you being in the car and having to go to the bathroom so so bad but not being able to find a rest stop to go.  That exploding feeling.  So sad!!  Finally she went to the bathroom and we were able to complete the test.  Unfortunately we didn't get results that day so we had to wait.  We got a call from our pediatrician the next day that everything was great.  Here I thought we were done but a few days after that I got another call from our pediatrician.  Apparently the first result was given by the radiologist but after that the films go to a board that looks at all the images.  When the board was looking, they saw something that was questionable to them so they decided to look deeper.  Our pediatrician explained that when the xray is done, the machine takes around 1000 pictures.  They then compress them down to about 20 images that the radiologist looks at and reviews.  So when the review board saw something on one of the images, they were able to separate the picture into the 100 or so pictures that compromised that image.  When they were looking, they were able to see that Eliza actually does have kidney reflux.  Thankfully for us, it is very low grade.  The scale goes from 0 (no reflux) to 5 (severe reflux) and Eliza's falls somewhere between 1-2.  Basically kidney reflux causes you to be prone to UTI's since the urine is going back up to the kidneys rather than down and out.  The treatment plan is a low dose antibiotic daily until the reflux is outgrown.  I am not one to jump to antibiotics and I'll be honest, the thought of a long term antibiotic was kind of scary to me as I don't want her to grow resistant should she ever actually really need them.  Thankfully our pediatrician was in agreement and since her's is so low grade we opted to not put her on the antibiotics.  We will keep an eye on her and if she does start having UTI's frequently we can reevaluate the situation.

Although she does have these two issues, thankfully they're nothing we can't handle, and in the grand scheme of things not that big of a deal.  She is otherwise thriving and doing great.  She's been walking since 11 months, starting to sort of talk, and she has the most amazing personality.  We are so thankful to have her and I can't wait to see the little person she is becoming!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Premium Breastfeeding Cover by Soins de Bebe

For the past 4.5 years, I have pretty much been constantly nursing one of my 3 children.  Over this time, I have become pretty confident nursing in public without covering up, however, I know this is not the case for everyone.  I know a certain someone (who I won't name here!!) is definitely not comfortable when I nurse in public.  That's where this awesome premium breastfeeding cover by Soins de Bebe comes in.

I chose the purple cover, which can be purchased on Amazon, because I love purple!!  I am normally not a huge fan of paisley but I think it is gorgeous.  As you can see in my photo, the cover is very generously sized and covers everything with room to spare.  I have only covered up while nursing a handful of times in Eliza's 16 months so she was not a fan of having the cover on her.  Even with her flailing around and trying to move things around there was more than enough fabric to keep me covered and I never worried about anything being exposed.  The cover has 3 features that I found fantastic.

1.) A reinforced neck.  The top of the cover has some sort of plastic in the neck so that you can easily look down and see your baby without having to move your hands or the cover.  This is great especially when your child is young and still needs assistance latching on.

2.) Stainless steel D-Rings create a completely adjustable strap so that this carrier can fit any woman.  You get the perfect fit, not too tight and not too loose, every single time.

3.) The cover has a padded portion in the bottom corner to use for any drips and spills you may have.  Eliza enjoyed holding this end and rubbing it on her face while she ate and again due to the generous sizing nothing was exposed!  This is perfect if you forget your burp cloth.

Besides the nursing cover, the package also included a cotton burp cloth and breastfeeding bracelet.  Eliza ran off with the cloth before I was able to take a picture of it and was using it with a blanket so I'd say she loves it!  In the short few seconds I held it, it did feel a little rough to me, though I'm sure it will soften up nicely with a wash.  The nursing bracelet has numbers 1-12 and little dots for each 15 minute increment.  I breastfeed on demand so I don't have much use for this, but for mom's who either prefer or are required to feed in set intervals this would be great.  I remember when Zach was little and not gaining weight it was so frustrating to constantly need to be on my phone to see when I last fed him.  While this tool wouldn't replace a feeding log, it would definitely be extremely helpful in telling you when you need to feed your baby again.  The only change I would make to this bracelet would be for it to have some way to tell which side you last fed on.

All of these items came in a coordinating bag perfect for a purse or diaper bag.

Everything was wonderfully made and I would absolutely recommend this set to any mom looking for a nursing cover.  Thank you to Soins de Bebe for providing this cover for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Kindergarten Jitters

The year I have been dreading is finally here.  2016.  My oldest girl is going to be turning 5 this spring.  You know what that means?  This fall she is going to go to school.  :'(  For the past few years we've done our own little version of homeschooling and I've half had it in me that once kindergarten came we would continue our homeschool journey.  However as the time draws nearer it has become more apparent that homeschooling just isn't a good fit for us.

Days are stressful around here.  With three kids 4 and under things get hectic fast and it's hard to give your undivided attention to just one child at a time, especially with something so important as their education.  We try to keep some sort of schedule but more often than not, we just go with the flow and get things done when we can.  Last year for Christmas, my Aunt gifted the kids a subscription to ABC Mouse.  This website has been great and the kids love playing on it.  I aim to get them each on it for 20 minutes a day but that's a stretch because Samantha thinks the iPad is just for youtube videos!!  I'm also a huge fan of workbooks and have acquired quite the collection.  Each day I choose 2-3 worksheets each for Samantha and Zach to complete but sitting quietly one at a time is nearly impossible.  Someone else is bound to be crying or demanding of my attention.  Each evening before bed Samantha and I do a reading lesson from our favorite book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I won't get into the book too much because that isn't the point of this post but it has been a great tool for teaching Samantha how to read.  We are only 12 lessons in so far because the first two times we tried, I felt she wasn't ready yet.  However, I think the 3rd time is the charm because she has been doing great!  Between these three things and other various apps and videos I think they have a good foundation, however, I know I could still be doing better.  I would absolutely love to be the one in charge of my children's education but it would be doing them a disservice to keep them home when I can't give them 100%.

Back to school though, I can't get over how quickly the past 5 years have flown by.  The thing that pulls my heartstrings the most is how much time our children spend in school.  I know it's what is required and needed but they're gone for over 7 hours a day!!  Starting this fall, Samantha will be spending more time with her teacher than she will with her own mother.  This is it, 13 years of school at home and then she's off to college.  In 7 months, my days of spending all my time with her is over for the rest of her life.  How heartbreaking is that?  For the past 4 years and 9 months I have spent every day with her.  The only times we've really been apart is when I've been in the hospital giving birth to her younger siblings and even then I saw her every day.  She's done a one week long Vacation Bible School camp for the past 2 summers where she is in the care of others for 3 hours a day, but besides that, she's never been in a school setting before (where I am not there with her as is the case with our weekly church class).  I pray we get a teacher we love which I know will help us both feel much more comfortable.  Last week I took an unofficial tour of the school she will be attending which did help me to feel better, but once we learn who her teacher will be and get to meet her/him I think (or rather HOPE!) that I will feel more confident in our decision to send her to public school.  For now though, I will just enjoy every moment we have together, plan lots of fun things for us to do, and try not to think too much about the tears that will no doubt be falling on that first day of school.

Has your oldest child gone off to kindergarten yet?  Send me some of your favorite tips for making this most difficult transition!!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

I am totally loving NetGalley lately!  If you haven't joined already, seriously, go join..NOW!  Last week I was approved for 5 more reviews and all of the books look SO good.  This is so awesome for people who love reading and want opportunities to check out new books before they are released.  I rounded out 2015 with Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.  I have read several of her books before and loved them all so I was super excited when I had the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Missing Pieces takes off with a bang and never slows down!!  It is the story of Sarah and Jack Quinlan who travel to Penny Gate, Iowa after an unfortunate accident with his Aunt Julia.  Upon arriving Sarah learns of many secrets her husband has kept from her and gets drawn in fast trying to uncover the stories of his past.  I was sucked in from the very start and never wanted to put the book down.  It was extremely fast paced and full of suspense, keeping me on my toes the entire time.  I finished the book while in bed and was so on edge by what was happening I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder with a huge knot in my stomach.  I don't think I've ever felt so emotionally present in a book ever!!  I thought from about halfway through the book that I had it all figured out...and then the ending happened.  I was completely wrong!!  Unlike other books by Gudenkauf I've read, Missing Pieces is told 100% from Sarah's point of view.  I often found myself wondering what the book would be like had we been inside Dean or Celia's head but the lack of other viewpoints didn't take anything away from the story.  Mrs. Gudenkauf really knocked this one out of the park!!

Missing Pieces will be available to the public on February 2nd, 2016 and I highly recommend everyone checks it out!