Mad About It Monday: How To Ruin A Relationship In One Simple Step

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

Mad About It Monday

…because passive aggressive Facebook posts were so yesterday

Happy Monday, Everyone! Lately, I’ve been posting my M.A.M mini-rants on Facebook but something happened to me recently that warrants a blog post. Let’s just say that a simple Facebook post just can’t contain all of the rage. I’d also like to get your thoughts on the situation. After you’re done reading, leave me a comment and answer this: What would you do if you were in my position?!

Neighborhood

When we were building our house five years ago, I was excited about the prospect of having the kind of neighborhood where there’s a real sense of community…you know, the kind of place that you’re excited to raise a family in. I don’t know if times have just changed or if it’s the neighborhood we moved into but we only know a handful of our neighbors and, although we really like them and are on friendly terms, we don’t know them all that well. One of our neighbors has a child that’s a few years older than my three year old daughter. We like this kid and are friendly with his parents and occasionally we’ll invite them over for a get together or spend a few minutes chatting while we’re all outside. Over the course of the last few months, the parents have asked me to babysit their child several times. It’s certainly not a problem at all. We enjoy having him over and are more than happy to help on occasion, when they need a favor and that’s exactly what I thought I was agreeing to when I received a text message last week asking me if I would mind watching the child for a little while on Saturday. Here’s what the message said:

“Hey, would you mind watching Kiddo on Saturday? I have to work in the morning and wanted to take SoAndSo out for his birthday dinner after work if he’s up for it.”

Now I assumed, as any rational human being would, that I would be watching Kiddo on Saturday evening, so his mom and dad could enjoy a night out. Absolutely no big deal. I replied and mentioned that, even though we were planning to go out to dinner, Kiddo was more than welcome to come with us if he wanted to. “It’s up to you guys,” said the mom. “Kiddo is always welcome to tag along,” I replied. “Cool,” I thought,  “It’s settled. We’ll take Kiddo out to dinner and it will be fun.” Apparently, I was wrong. The next morning, I got this text message:

“I have to work at 10:30 so I leave around 10:00…I can bring Kiddo over then and how much would you like for the day? Either his dad or I should pick him up around 7ish”

wait-what

Wait, what?! Now something that was supposed to be an evening favor has turned into an all day ordeal but since I’d already agreed to her vague request for us to watch her child and since this child is old enough to come with us wherever we go, I decided not to worry about the change in our day. I didn’t reply to her comment about payment because, honestly, I’m a really bad negotiator when it comes to people that I know and I thought that she would ask me in person what would be fair. Fast forward to Saturday…

Kiddo came over around 10:00 in the morning. We played a few games and ran some errands before coming home for a pizza party lunch followed by blanket forts, a movie and snacks, hide & go seek, sidewalk chalk, and an assortment of other activities with the kids. Although it was long, it was a pretty good day. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to entertaining a seven year old child but I managed and, by the time 7:00 rolled around, I was a little exhausted and ready to head out to our already delayed dinner plans. Kiddo’s mom picked him up at 7:45, seemed kind of rushed, and made absolutely no mention of paying us for watching her child all day. I was a little floored. I certainly don’t mind doing anyone a favor but ten hours of my time is well beyond a good neighborly favor. So I sent her this text message:

“…I realized I never responded about how much money would be okay for the day. Anywhere between $5 and $10 an hour would be fine. Normally I would say don’t worry about it but since it was all day, I think that’s fair.”

She responded asking for an exact dollar amount, I replied with “$50 would be fine” (which comes out to be about $5 an hour, an amount I think is totally reasonable for all day child care including meals, snacks, and activities) and she said she’d bring it by tomorrow. Well, guess what?! Tomorrow came and went and the next day came and went, too and I still haven’t heard from them and they haven’t come by.

Annoyed

It’s not the money that matters to me, it’s the principle of the matter. When you say that you’re going to do something: DO IT!

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I felt tricked into agreeing to something that ended up being a much larger commitment than I anticipated or the fact that she offered to compensate me for my time but didn’t or some combination of the two but I am outraged slightly appalled. I mean, who does that?! I can’t even imagine taking advantage of someone like that. I just can’t.

I would love to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they forgot or that they were just busy but, the truth is, I know better. Kiddo has come over several times over the last few months and I’ve always declined an offer for payment because it’s only ever been for an hour or two but this time it was my entire day and that’s different. I can’t help but feel the only reason they asked me to watch him in the first place is because they didn’t want to have to pay for a sitter to watch their child. How frustrating.

Fail

Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be doing them any more favors any time soon.

What would you have done in my situation?! Have you ever dealt with something like that? If so, I’d love to know how you handled it.

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Tips For Organizing Your Life: Toddler Toy Edition

546 Organized toddler room

As any parent would tell you, young children accumulate a lot of stuff. All of the toys, books, games, dress up clothes, and stuffed animals that multiply with each passing holiday, birthday, or visit to Grandma and Grandpa can become a little (or a lot) overwhelming. One thing I’ve learned in parenting my three year old is that messiness begets messiness.  The less organized I am, the less likely my daughter is to keep her belongings organized.  I’m slowly trying to change our household habits and I’ve noticed a huge difference in how my toddler treats her belongings. Once I got everything organized, I implemented a standing rule that once she’s doing playing with one toy, book, puzzle, or game she has to put it up before getting something else out. So far, it’s been a total success!

Organizing your toddler's room

When my daughter was an older infant and started actually playing with toys, I kept them in bins and thought I was organized.  Now that she’s older, I realized that’s not going to work for much longer. We were constantly missing puzzle and toy pieces and having a difficult time finding all of the parts to the one puzzle we wanted to work on.

Bins For Toys

I dumped out all of the toys from each bin (one by one) and organized them.  Then I set aside all of the puzzles (I did the same thing for the toys and games) that were missing pieces to organize later when the lost pieces came home. Tips for organizing I only used two of the puzzles for the picture because, honestly, nobody wants to see the ungodly mess that was my daughter’s room the day that I took on this project.

Tips for toddler organizing

Each puzzle went into a gallon size zip lock bag which was labeled with the name of the puzzle, toy, or game, a description, and the number of pieces that are supposed to be included in the bag.

tips for organizing toys

It is so much easier to make sure we have the right amount of pieces for each toy to avoid a meltdown later on.

Tips for organizing toys

Putting them in the labeled bags also helped make it easier to store them in my daughter’s bins. Take a look:

Tips for organizing toddlers

I did the same thing with all of the other toys in her room.  I know it may *seem* like a lot of work but, trust me, I am confident you’ll find that it is totally worth it.

organizing toys

Tips for organizing your toddlers room

toddler toys

Since they don’t fit into gallon size bags (and because it’s not safe to put plastic bags over ‘living’ things) all of her dolls live together in a bin of their very own:

Toy bin ideas for toddlers

The last thing that I did was to create a small reading area in the corner of her room with several books and all of her stuffed animals (which were outgrowing her bed) so that she can relax and read to her favorite monkey, dinosaur, and bear.

Toddler Reading Area

How do you stay organized?

Lessons For My Daughter: Part I “It Really Isn’t About You”

What Other People Think About You Is None Of Your Business

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very personal post on parenting and faith. In that same spirit of sharing about my life (which is not always something that’s easy for me to do), I want to talk about the most important lesson I plan to teach my daughter as she gets older. It’s a lesson that’s taken me years to learn and it’s something that, even as someone who tends to think logically and objectively, I still struggle with from time to time.

The way people treat you has nothing to do with you.

It has everything to do with them.  

I am the adult by product of divorce. My father, who retired after serving twenty years in the United States Air Force, and my mother, who made her career working with new and expecting parents in Labor and Delivery, divorced in the mid-nineties. About a year later, my brother and I, along with our mother, relocated to the East Coast where we lived until I started college. My junior high and high school years were a whirlwind. Full of changes in our family structure, adjustments to a different life, and an assortment of other things that are irrelevant to this post. My relationship with my dad changed very little throughout the years in that it was, at best, distant. With lengthy deployments under his belt from the time he spent serving our country, I didn’t know that our relationship could have been any different and I spent years excusing his absence from my life on physical distance and busy schedules. One thing always remained the same, I love my dad. Always.

The issue is that the way that I express love is so vastly different from the way my own father does and, in the past, it left me feeling inadequate, undervalued, and unloved.

The little time that I did spend with my dad in my own childhood was wonderful. I have fun memories like the time we attended the “Father/Daughter Dance” when I was young or the vacation we took together to Orlando when I was a teenager. It’s easy to let those moments become overshadowed by the lack of communication in our day to day lives. The same can be said for my father’s relationship with my own daughter.

As my daughter grows and begins to understand more about the World, I want to give her the gift of understanding. It’s something that’s taken me years to figure out on my own. I want her to understand that the way that other people interact with and treat you represents who they are, not the other way around.

I want her to know that she’s worthwhile, good, and amazing. 

I want her to know that the only thing that defines who she is as an individual is the way that treats herself, others, and the World around her.

I want her to know the one thing that I’ve spent years figuring out: That we’re all different. The way I express my love for those around me may not be the same as the way my own father does but that has nothing to do with me.

Simply put: Take the good, leave the bad.

Parenting Without Faith

I want to preface this by mentioning that this is not an easy post for me to write. Although I’ve been documenting my life as a parent online for well over a year now, it isn’t often that I share intimate details of my thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. What I want to discuss tonight is something that’s been weighing heavily on my heart for well over a month and I hope that you’ll allow me the rare opportunity to be vulnerable with you without judgement.

Last month, I had lunch with my incredible friend Bethany. She’s someone I’ve been close with for several years and I was happy for the chance to spend some time with her while she was back in town. As we were eating, we witnessed a father and his young son at a table near us. Before they began eating, they sat together and prayed. It was really moving. But it was also heartbreaking, for me. Heartbreaking because that’s not something that I can share with my own daughter. We’ll never (at least not at this particular moment in our lives) share a moment like that together because I am parenting without faith.

Having grown up in a Christian household, been a leader in my youth group during high school, and active in my religious community during college, I am no stranger to what it means to have faith. While attending undergraduate studies with a major in a religion and culture so vastly different from my own, I began exploring other faith based systems. My journey, thus far, has led me to a place with a lot of unanswered questions. When my husband and I had a child of our own, coming to terms with the fact that we simply don’t know, was even more difficult to accept.

Fast forward to last week when my little family of three was sitting together in the kitchen. My daughter, now almost three, asked my husband (after he let out a loud cough) if he was okay. He replied, without thinking, “I think I’ll live.” Without missing a beat, my daughter said, “I want you to always live. And mommy.” Speechless. As the tears pooled in my eyes, I found myself thinking back to that father and son last month and how I wish, more than anything, that I could provide that same comfort and promise to my own child that this stranger was undoubtedly able to offer his son.

You see, parenting without faith (at least for me and my spouse) is not simply a choice that we’ve made for our family. I want, more than anything, to be able to provide my daughter with answers to life’s biggest questions (Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?) but the truth is, I can’t. We’ve flirted with the idea of attending some sort of religious institution for the sake of giving her a foundation of faith but, for us, that would be disingenuous to where we’re at in our journey and what we believe about life. There is comfort in religion – a comfort my family does not have.

For now, we’re teaching our child that the World is a beautiful place. That life is a precious, precious gift that we should cherish, respect, and enjoy. That we should treat this planet and all of its inhabitants with love and compassion. That people have all sorts of beliefs, ideas, and differing answers on life’s biggest questions and that it’s okay. One day, when she’s old enough, we’ll encourage her to explore and find her own path…wherever that might lead her. While we certainly can’t make any promises about what tomorrow may bring, and as heartbreaking as that may be for us, we’re forced to simply focus on today.

I think it’s important for people to understand that we’re not parenting without faith because we reject God or because we somehow are apathetic or indifferent towards having beliefs. I wish, more than anything, that I could be certain that I had answers. But that’s not my life. We’re not parenting without faith because we don’t care about our child’s future or her (perceived) eternal salvation, we simply don’t have the answers. Parenting without faith doesn’t make us immoral people and it certainly doesn’t mean that our child will grow up to be any less respectful, loving, or compassionate towards herself, others, and the World around her. Our goals, our hopes for our child (and any other subsequent children we may have later on down the road) are the same as yours.

So, please, don’t make assumptions about our lifestyle and don’t assume things about the way we raise our child. I may not be parenting with faith, but I’m still parenting with love.

Mommy & Me Date Ideas

Mommy and Me Dates

When my daughter started her part time preschool program this Fall,  I knew I wanted to do something special each week that just the two of us could enjoy. Having been home together full time for the previous year, I found that I was really missing having her with me all day every day. To be entirely honest, I still miss her but I know that giving her this opportunity to explore and develop in a learning environment is an experience that’s unbeatable and I feel fortunate that we’re able to provide that for her. One of the things that I worried about when we made the decision to enroll her was the closeness we have together that I feared would start to fade. Even though I still get to spend two full days a week and every afternoon at home with her, it isn’t the same as it was before (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse). So, once a week, we go on “Mommy & Me Dates”.  We take some time after school one day a week to do something for just us.

When the weather was nicer, we spent some time outdoors (thanks for the free entertainment, Mother Nature) going to the park or just taking a long walk together. As the weather has shifted and the cold, winter air has started to settle in across the Kansas City metro, we’ve had to find indoor activities to enjoy on our “Mommy and Me Dates”. Even if you’re not a mommy (Dads can do this, too) and even if you don’t work outside the home, I still advocate getting out of your normal ‘zone’ to enjoy some time away with your little one in an environment that’s special. I wanted to share some of the things we do with all of you in hopes that it might inspire you to do the same.

5 “Mommy And Me Date” Ideas (That Dads Can Use Too!) Winter Edition

KidsCoffee Starbucks

1. Quiet Time 

My husband and I are both coffee drinkers and some months ago, our daughter started to catch on. Every once in a while (okay, all the time) she would ask for a ‘sip’ of our coffee (which, for those of you without kids, always means the whole thing). I think that’s why our occasional visits to a local coffee shop are so special to her. Starbucks had child’s sized hot drinks available for about the same price you would pay for a milk at just about any of your local fast food chains making ‘coffee dates’ pretty affordable. Going to these coffee shops is also a great learning opportunity. The first time we went, I had to explain to my daughter that people go to coffee shops for a lot of reasons. Some people go to work, some people go to read, and some people go to enjoy quiet conversations with their friends. I was surprised at how well she understood that it’s okay to talk in coffee shops but we have to keep our voices low and stay in our nice, comfy seats (which wasn’t a problem at all).

books

2. Story-time

Nothing compares to the feeling of sitting down with your child and reading a story together. Books have the amazing ability to take us to kingdoms far, far away where we encounter dragons, knights, princesses, talking animals, and all sorts of fun journeys that only exist in fairy tales. Watching the look on my daughter’s face as we navigate our way through a captivating book is priceless. Also priceless (in the literal sense of the word) is enjoying story time together. Our local library provides lots of opportunity to enjoy books right there in the building. With seating available in the children’s area, it’s a great way to enjoy reading in a setting a little different than your own home. If sitting at the library isn’t your scene, most Barnes and Noble stores have seating in their children’s book sections as well that you can use to read to your little one.

Cat Room SPCA

3. Cuddle Time  

I know there will inevitably be some readers who will cringe at my next suggestion but your local animal shelter is a GREAT way to enjoy some time with your little one. Spending time with animals is wonderful not only for children (who learn about being gentle, being compassionate, and responding to an animal’s cues) but it’s also beneficial for the animals who don’t often have enough human interaction. We’re fortunate in that our local SPCA animal shelter has rooms where the well behaved cats are free to roam around. Even better, our local animal shelter welcomes visitors and allows people to explore the cat rooms freely for as long as you’d like.

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4. Play Time 

We are lucky to have several fun spots that offer open gym time around Kansas City and, as my daughter gets older, I’m finding that she enjoys that kind of activity more and more. While attending open gym isn’t always the most conducive for spending quality time together, it does grant me the rare opportunity to watch my child test out her abilities. It also offers me the chance to teach her that I’m always there for her whether that’s through encouraging her to jump into the foam pit or lending a hand as she works on the balance beam, she knows that I’ve got her back. No matter what. Many places offer open gym time for reasonable rates (ranging from $2 to $8) and kids get to expend all of that excess energy that’s been building up indoors during the colder months.

Be All There

5. My Time

Maybe it seems ridiculous that an hour of completely undivided attention is something to consider ‘special’ but the fact of the matter is that we live in a society where we’re constantly faced with distractions. Many of us take the world with us wherever we go in our pocket or purse. We’re so constantly connected to everything around us that it’s hard to step away and just be connected with the little person who matters most. My favorite “Mommy and Me Dates” are the ones where I’m giving my child my full attention. Even better is that she gets to pick the activity. Sometimes we paint nails together, sometimes I do her ‘makeup’, and sometimes we just play puzzles or have a dance party. I know that whatever we end up doing on these dates is going to leave a lasting impact on her memories of me from childhood and those are moments I hope we can still share together whens she’s an adult.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your child? 

The Graham Cracker Death Trap (A Gingerbread House FAIL)

Gingerbread House Fail

I’ve been dreaming about this day for years.  

The day we would sit together as a family, creating beautiful gingerbread houses that would make any Pinterest goer green with envy.  Oh, yeah. I got this.  Except not.

Gingerbread House

I was so excited to be able to share this special time with my toddler, making gingerbread houses for the first time.  Something I hoped we would be able to turn into an annual tradition. But now, my hopes and dreams have been forever ruined because I realize that I suck at making gingerbread houses.  I mean, I’m terrible at it.  I mean, it’s pretty bad. Like really bad.

Gingerbread House decorating

Let’s backtrack to earlier in the weekend when I  braved the crowds in hell at our local Walmart for some wine and gingerbread house making materials.  Somewhere in the store, nowhere near the candy and graham cracker aisles (because, you know, it’s Walmart and nothing makes sense), I saw actual gingerbread house decorating kits. “Pffft! PAH-LEESE,” I said to myself, “That’s for idiots who don’t know how to decorate their own houses. Not me!” And so I spent more than I care to admit on candy, frosting, graham crackers (which I used, instead of making gingerbread, to save time), and various other little treats that we could adorn our lovely homes with.

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As we sat down at the table to start decorating our homes, I was thrilled.  Mostly at the idea of documenting our awesome journey in gingerbread house making to gloat about on Facebook (yeah, I’m awesome) but also because it’s our first year doing this.  I actually cannot remember the last time I decorated a gingerbread house.  It may have been never.  I consider myself to be a relatively crafty person so I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to rock that shit.

Gingerbread House Decorating

My toddler lovingly placed rainbow sprinkles across her rooftop.

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She was so careful and meticulous about placing the decorations on her house.  I was so proud.

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My husband’s craftsmanship.  He is, perhaps, one of the least artistic people that I know and in this particular case, it worked to his advantage.  He was extremely proud that he created something that looked somewhat like a house and actually remained intact as he completed the project.  HOORAY lowered expectations.

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Pretty quickly after I started constructing my gingerbread mansion, I realized that I’m not cut out to be a contractor.  I have no idea what it means to create vaulted ceilings and it’s safe to say that no gingerbread men will be hiring me to play a part in the construction of their homes.  I opted for a flat roof with Kit Kat solar panels on the roof (because, you know, being environmentally conscious is important to me and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was incapable of making a structurally sound roof).  It looks more or less like a safe house that would harbor a wanted terrorist for interrogation rather than a comfortable environment for any loving gingerbread family.

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At some point, through no fault of her own, my daughter’s house came crashing to the ground. Presumably crushing all of its gummy bear residents under mounds of sweet, sweet rubble.

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Here they stand…our condemned gingerbread neighborhood.

Next year we’re buying a kit.

More On Parenting The Strong Willed Child (Plus a Few Tips)

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Several months ago, I wrote about electing to view parenting a strong willed child as a gift rather than a challenge.  I would encourage you all to go back and read my post here, if you haven’t already.  While every word that I wrote back then still holds true today, I’m learning (as a parent) how I can help alleviate some of the day to day stresses associated with raising a highly independent individual.

I have the luxury of holding a job that I love and am able to do out of the comfort of my own home and so I spend a couple of days each week and every afternoon at home with C.  It’s a great balance between being a ‘working mom’ and a ‘stay at home parent’ and it works for me.  But it’s not always sunshine and roses.  My daughter, who will be three years old in February, attends a Montessori preschool part time.  If you’re unfamiliar with how the Montessori philosophy works, it’s geared towards allowing children the individual freedom to learn at their own pace in ways that are best suited towards their style.  It’s such a wonderful program and I’m happy that my child has this experience.  The only problem is that we don’t have a Montessori home.

I try to be somewhat organized in my parenting style…making sure to pick out clothes for the next day before bed each night, ensuring that toys are put up before new ones are taken out, and other things of that nature (read: mommy might be slightly OCD).  My parenting style doesn’t always jive with my child’s personality.  She wants to be independent, to pick out her own clothes, to have the freedom to do the things she wants to do when she wants to do them and it’s hard finding the right way to make both of us happy.  I want her to learn boundaries but I also want her to feel free to be the person that she is.  Most days, I fluctuate from feeling like I might be a contender for the “Mother Of The Year” awards in my household to feeling like a complete menace when things aren’t as perfect as I’d hoped they might be.  But I’m learning.  I’m learning to let go of the things that don’t matter and to focus on the things that do…like teaching my child responsibility,  compassion,  respect and love for others and the world around her, and how to try new things and explore all while allowing her, in the best way that I can, to be herself (a sweet, energy filled, independent toddler) in her most natural state.

I wanted to share some of the things that we’re doing in our home to encourage our child’s independence.  I’m finding that, more often than not, when I’m more organized (for her) many of the stresses we were experiencing before are no longer issues.  I’ll keep you updated, as I try new things with my toddler, as to what works for us and what doesn’t.  In the meantime, I hope that you find these ideas useful in your own life.  Enjoy.

1. Give Her Options

One of the biggest struggles I face in parenting an independent child is balancing her strong desire to decide for herself with my own will for her. I’ve discovered that if I pick a few options that I would be okay with before presenting something to her (like clothing options, food at a restaurant, etc), it makes situations that might otherwise be stressful feel like a breeze. It’s a win-win. She has the freedom to pick something for herself and I’m happy with any of the choices she has to make.

2. Stay Organized 

You might think that being organized for your own sanity is a no brainer but it took me a long time to figure this out on my own. Living with a child that is picky, changes her mind about things, and won’t let it go when she decides she needs something can be a struggle. Having a space for everything (extra blankets, stuffed animals, certain towels that she loves, etc.) has been a tremendous help in avoiding some of the issues we used to face.

3. Remain Calm

Even when I give my child options and I stay organized, we still have frustrating moments with our daughter (who doesn’t, am I right?!). The best advice I can give when your strong willed child throws a fit is to stay calm. Stay calm. Stay.Calm. Take a deep breath, count to three, do whatever you need to do to prevent yourself from getting worked up because, believe me, it does absolutely nothing to help the situation. When C is being a monster having a moment, I have to take a step back and realize that the best thing I can do for both of us is to help calm her down. How? Breathe, stay focused, give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay…in a moment or two, she’ll start to calm down, too and all will be right with the World.

4. Drink Wine

Okay, maybe this last part is sort of a joke (but not really). After a long day or a hard, stressful battle with your child, take some time out for you to relax. Spend an extra few minutes in the shower before bed, drink a glass of wine, read a book, do whatever it is that you do to rejuvenate yourself. Above all, let it go. Let all the stresses from the day go. What’s the point in carrying them with you anyway, right?! 

Always remember that you’re raising a child. You’re raising an independent person who will one day grow to be an adult. You’re helping to shape the future of this planet. I’m pretty sure that makes you a superhero. 

 

International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day: This Is Our Story

I vividly remember the day I found out that I was pregnant.  I had this strange urge to grab a home pregnancy test on my way back from work. It hadn’t missed my period and, other than feeling tired that week, I wasn’t exhibiting any of those “tell tale” symptoms associated with pregnancy (I would later come to discover that most of those symptoms don’t even surface until around week 6-8). The next morning, I quietly took the test in the comfort our our master bathroom and was shocked to see a positive result. It was a happy surprise. Joyful tears flowed down my face as I realized that life was stirring inside me. In the weeks that followed before our first prenatal appointment, we shared our happy news only with close friends and family. It wasn’t until after our first ultrasound that we shared the news of our impending arrival with our extended network of friends and co-workers. Like many new expectant parents, we were under the impression that our baby would be one that we would take home from the hospital and love as he or she grew into an independent person. We were mistaken.

In early November, my husband and I headed to a routine prenatal visit where we were excited to hear our sweet baby’s heartbeat via doppler. Elation soon turned into worry as my OB doctor referred us to a prenatal imaging center for an ultrasound. It was there that we would discover that the child we thought we would take home would never be an outside baby. For parents who have never experienced a loss, it’s hard to fathom how heartbreaking that news can be. For several weeks I had developed this relationship with the child I thought would be mine and it was stripped from me. It hurt and I didn’t understand. It was the worst moment of my life. My doctor recommended a D&C in the days that followed after we received the news and I was told that we were clear to start trying again at the end of December 2009 or early January 2010. The prospect of “trying” was scary. There are so many uncertainties associated with getting pregnant after a loss and the thought of losing another baby can be overwhelming but our loss made me realize how much I wanted a healthy baby and I knew we would have to eventually move on and try in order for that to happen.

By April 2010, after months of charting, ovulation tests, and negative home pregnancies, I was losing faith. If I could get pregnant without even trying the first time, why wasn’t it happening this time?! Everywhere I looked, it seemed, other women were getting pregnant, having babies, and enjoying the life that I thought would be mine and I wasn’t. By the first week of June 2010, the realization that our due date was upon me. My husband and I decided to take a couple days off of work to spend together, doing something fun, in memory of the child that never made it home. Later that month, on the 22nd, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter.

I had just arrived at a good place, emotionally, after mourning the loss of our baby, and I was scared that it might happen again. I feared every cramp and ache fearful that it might mean the worst. I took home pregnancy tests periodically (pretty much throughout my first trimester) just to make sure that they were still showing up positive. Thankfully, Charlotte Grace came into this world in February 2011 after a healthy and relatively text book pregnancy. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for her presence in my life. The takeaway that I gained from my experience in loss is that it’s hard and it’s okay to be angry, heartbroken, and sad. It’s okay to mourn the loss of something that should have been yours.

I was certain that our first baby was a boy. So we named him Elijah Steven. I keep a box with his first ultrasound picture, a few congratulatory cards we received from friends and family, and a little teddy bear we had purchased as a gift for our baby shortly after we found out we were expecting. These keepsakes are likely things that I will share with my own daughter one day down the road as we talk about life, loss, and family. If you’re mourning a loss of your own, know that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to be sad. Sometimes sharing your story is a good way to let other women know that they always have support.

In honor of International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I wanted to share with you some information about “Count The Kicks“, a campaign that aims at saving the lives of unborn children in late pregnancy.  Although stillbirth is vastly different from what I experienced (which was a miscarriage), I think the Count The Kicks mission is important and I encourage you all to take a look at this video: 

To join the movement, start by visiting and liking the Count the Kicks Facebook page. 

 

 

Potty Training: We Did It! (Plus Some Helpful Tips)

It's An Ordinary Blog

As you might remember, we’ve been working on potty training our two year old daughter. Several months ago, I had it in my mind that we were supposed to be aggressive when it came to potty training. Now that I look back, I’m glad that my (somewhat) relaxed parenting style overshadowed my internal desire to push my child into potty success. A few weeks ago, something just clicked and she got it. It was one of those incredible, amazing moments where you’re immensely proud and completely blown away by the small child that lives with you. She’s so smart and allowing her to lead the way (with our help and encouragement) was one of the best parenting decisions I’ve made to date.

You might remember my post about utilizing a potty chart as incentive to get your child to use the restroom. While I still advocate the use of sticker charts to help motivate young children (we use a sticker chart for ‘daily activities’ that C is expected to complete and she loves it), I’ve also learned that sometimes children will figure things out on their own in time. Some children might prosper having that ‘push’ for potty training but, in observing my child’s behaviors, I learned that she is more motivated by independence than she is by my encouragement. I found myself asking her, time and time again, until I was almost blue in the face, if she needed to try and use the potty and she never seemed to want to…on my time. So I stopped. I wasn’t going to make her feel guilty for eliminating in her disposable pull up and I wasn’t going to punish her for not sitting on the potty. Eventually, I knew if she wanted to try to go…she would. And she did.

About a week into it, we abandoned the potty chart (but we still used a chart for daily activities) and decided that we would take a break and re-visit potty training when C seemed to be more ready. Fast forward a few weeks when we toured a preschool that we were interested in part time. One of the stipulations for enrollment is that the child must be in underwear. So I sat down and explained to her that if she was big enough to attend preschool then she must also be big enough to use the potty and not wear pull ups anymore. Not wanting to push her too hard, we tried again.

We took the leap of faith and simply stopped putting her in pull ups. Much to my surprise, the transition into underwear was really easy. We didn’t try giving her an absurd amount of juice. She didn’t run around naked. We didn’t make her sit on the potty all day. She just got it. We had a few accidents the first day, a couple the second day, and one or two occasionally ever since. My husband and I are always encouraging of her, almost to the point where we embarrass ourselves when we’re in public with the “Wow! You did it! Good Job!”  and the “You went POTTY?! AWESOME!” but I am so proud to announce that my child, at two years and seven months old, is fully potty trained and it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done with her. Hooray!

horray

I wanted to share a few things that I learned in our potty training experience with you…

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff 
  2. Give it time
  3. Children should never be made to feel guilty for accidents
  4. S#it happens
  5. Celebrate each accomplishment

More than anything, I want you to know that potty training doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be enjoyable and it can be simple. Knowing your child, stopping when something’s not right, and letting your child lead the way are the best things I’ve learned in this process and they’re things that I will take with me in other parenting adventures down the road. If you’re preparing for potty training, I wish you the very best with your little one!

 

It’s Potty Time (Getting Started)!

 

Potty TrainingRemember this picture that I posted over on Twitter the other day?!

It’s official: We’re Potty Training! 

When my daughter turned two, she was so excited to sit on the potty like a big girl. Like any parent of a toddler, I excitedly purchased a potty of her very own. All of this, of course, under the assumption that potty training would be a breeze. That hasn’t so much been the case. Now that she’ll be two and a half next month, I know it’s time to get serious about potty training but every time we ask her if she wants to sit and try to use the bathroom, she cries. Logically, I know that forcing her to do something that she clearly doesn’t want to do isn’t going to do any of us favors and so I decided to turn potty training into a game (of sorts). The other day I went to my local Target (my home away from home) and purchased some poster board, a ruler and incentive stickers all with the purpose of creating a potty chart.

How To Make A Potty Chart

For each day of the week (from Sunday to Sunday) there are nine boxes. The game is simple: For every attempt to use the bathroom, she earns a sticker. If she fills out nine stickers every day for 8 days, she gets to have dinner at our local T-Rex cafe (it’s a pretty big treat for her since we don’t go there often).

Its Potty Time

I tried to make the chart bright and fun. What toddler doesn’t love a good sticker?!

Potty Chart

Potty Incentives

I hung the potty chart on the mirror in the bathroom and there it will stay until next Monday morning.

How To Potty Train A Toddler

Although she earned her first sticker this morning, she didn’t seem all that interested in going. I love the idea of using a chart but if this doesn’t work by week’s end I’ll try a different approach (a pre-purchased gift that she can only have if she tries to use the bathroom all week). I’ll keep you updated on our progress on Twitter and over on Facebook. In the meantime, what are your tips for first time training?!