So Long Diapers!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
After a few attempts at the potty in 2014, none of which were successful, we are FINALLY here.

She pretty much had herself potty trained by day 3.

We did the whole, "no more diapers, throw her in underwear" plan, and she finally caught on with the right incentive.

Princess roller skates didn't work 1 month ago.

Plush princess dolls didn't work 2 months ago.

This time, Disney Princess Palace Pets were the trick.

They make them in all sizes at Target, and after realizing how much she coveted the two random mini ones I had bought her on a routine Target trip the week before, we ran with it.

Thursday morning, I knew we'd be home all day that day, Friday, and Saturday---we were going for that 3 day potty train method.

I made the chart all up. She'd get 1 sticker for peeing, 2 for pooping. I spaced out her reward squares periodically throughout the chart, and each time she hit one, she'd get another mini pet.

Only, based on previous failures, I wasn't hopeful for much success. So I didn't even have any new princess pets on hand to reward her with.

After plunking the little potty in the middle of the floor (after rolling up our brand new rug), throwing Frozen in the DVD player and filling her up with water and milk, we waited.

And we waited.

She willingly sat. Getting up and going back to try again and again.

Finally, 3 hours after waking, she peed.

Within 3 hours of that she had earned two princess pets. Crap.

It was either wait until after 6pm for daddy to bring them home, or run out to Target quick and pray for no accidents.

It went off without a hitch. (Seriously, likely fastest Target trip in my history). I even got her to SIT ON THE BIG TARGET POTTY! That, my friends, was a huge win. She didn't go, but she sat.

By Saturday, she pretty much had it. Since beginning on Thursday, she's only had four accidents total, with none yesterday or today.

At the end of her chart (about 40 boxes, I think?), she decided she wanted the big Treasure plush you can make at Build a Bear (big big thanks to my friend Kate for cluing me in to this!). Every time she got closer to the end of the chart, and when she finally put that last sticker on last night. Oh man. Her face.

So, to Build a Bear we went today. So proud of you, big girl!

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The little things in life are so awesome.

'Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

Sunday, August 24, 2014
This is hard. And it's not. I can't decide. It's the very official end of his time staying at home with me, but just the beginning of so much more.

His outfit is picked out, backpack hanging up, his supplies at school, and his lunch not quite made yet.

Preparation for this began long, long ago, however, as he grew in my belly.

My first year as an early childhood special education teacher taught me so much. It foreshadowed my future and all the things the little bean growing inside of me would need to know before that big kindergarten day. They needed to be "ready to read", self sufficient in most self help tasks, and of course "socially mature".

Kindergarten was a BIG deal. As preschool teachers, it was our top priority to help the little ones grow and learn academically, functionally and socially to prepare them for that first year in the "big school".

A hot topic of debate was "summer birthdays". To send them, or not to send them that first year of eligibility. Those on my side of the profession (special ed) were of the mindset TO SEND, as they would ultimately get more help in the long run and have age appropriate social models for those that needed that sort of thing. On the other side of the spectrum were most kindergarten teachers saying "hold them back". They simply wouldn't be ready by virtue of their "young" age.

This thought was quickly ingrained in my brain, and before I even had given birth to Henry, I knew I'd want to send him.

And as he grew into a young toddler, picking up on things most other toddlers didn't know at a very early age (letter recognition, number recognition, letter sounds, problem solving), I knew without a doubt we'd send him at 5 years old, and that he'd be reading before he entered. (Talk about a mama's intuition).

We've battled sensory issues, MAJOR social issues, and MAJOR feeding issues.

I've cried at the conclusion of unsuccessful play dates, at the dinner table, at IEP meetings, and at feeding therapy. Tears brought on by the anxious feeling of "maybe he won't be ready after all."

We've joked many times that I'm not "using" my very expensive University of Minnesota bachelor and master degrees in child psychology and early childhood education and special education.

Truth of the matter is, I've definitely been using it, these entire five years. That's why he's ready.

I pushed for him to get help. Through tears, I FOUGHT for him to get help, because I knew, deep down, he needed it. And with my experience in school and teaching, the earlier the better.  And we stuck through everything, no matter how hard it was. The shrieking screams on the first day ever of preschool, the blood curdling screams of his feeding therapy evaluation, the meltdowns at the dinner table, the refusal to go within 5 feet of another child, all of it.

Tomorrow when he goes to school, I know he will answer simple teacher questions. He will know and or comprehend probably any academics thrown at him. He will have a conversation with his buddy Brendan and play with him on the playground.

He will eat whatever I put in his lunch box.

We've faced many struggles climbing this mountain to kindergarten.

And we overcame them all, because damn it, this kid is ready and is going to rock his kindergarten year.

We love you buddy and are so proud of the little guy you are growing up to be.
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She's got da....

Friday, August 15, 2014
If you haven't watched yet, take a peek! They are pretty adorable!

Finding Balance

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
As the school year draws near, I've struggled a bit with the mommy guilt.

"Crap. Henry's going to kindergarten. Have I done enough?? It's only two weeks away."
"I wish we had gone to the library more."
"I wish I had done more educational activities with him."
"What have I been doing with our summer??"
"I use to be a teacher. What is my excuse for slacking??" etc. etc. etc.

And then I flip through the blog articles that tell you "Nope, you indeed aren't doing enough. Get off your phone". More guilt.

But then there's the opposing article that says, "no mama, you're good enough. don't feel guilty that you need me time or that you didn't do enough." ok. less guilty.

And then I realize that me being home is no longer just about me being home with the kids. I'm not a SAHM. I'm a WAHM.

I run a business out of my home (one that's grown extensively this year requiring more work and time), and when I'm not sitting in front of my desktop during nap time or after the kids go to bed, my business runs off my phone. It's always there. There are always facebook messages, emails, questions, and proofs that need to be sent out.

I love these little ones with all my being, and am grateful each day that we are fortunate enough to not need to send them off to daycare each day. But as things get more busy and the nagging feeling of "that email needs a reply", and "I only have a handful of images left to finish for that gallery", etc. etc, I've been feeling more guilty over finding that perfect balance between work and kids.

Both need my attention. Along with the laundry, the dinner prep, the dogs, and the dishes. oh. the dishes. i swear some days they magically make themselves dirty and pile up. because i blink and the counter is covered.

I read two of those above articles today and I think fall right in the middle. with judgement on no one on either end of the spectrum, because everyone has their own way of moving through life and that's totally cool.
I don't want to be the mom always slightly absent, checking emails, facebook, etc.

I also don't NEED to be the mom that spends every waking second playing, talking, watching and entertaining my kids. I just posted a picture of the three of them yesterday "playing" with our little tikes dollhouse. It sort of happens sometimes, and it's awesome.

I think it's all about finding balance in the middle ground. Being at home is tough. Being at work is tough. Trying to do both at the same time is tough. Every mama, whether working in or out of the home needs and deserves a break to maintain sanity.

I try my best to reserve my "me time" for when the kids are completely content and occupied among themselves (so yes, I might be sending an email, or checking facebook). I'm not doing these things when my children are off in the playroom fighting. I'm not doing these things when my kids need their lunch made. I'm not doing these things when someone is crying they are hurt.

As much as I enjoy the fleeting times when they occupy themselves quietly so that I have a few brief seconds to actually think (you know, about what the house is running out of, what's for dinner, what appointment was I suppose to make, etc.) what I've also found myself doing this week during their "completely content and occupied time", (as I get a little more emotional about Henry going to school "for good"), is using that time to just watch them. I just take it all in. Smiling at their sillies, and how blessed we are with these three great kids. And then other times, yes, I do check facebook. and pinterest. and email.

I also make it a point to actually get on the floor and play with them at least once in the morning and in the afternoon. Or sit at the table and play a game, color, whatever.

As has been almost exclusively true since this business started 5 years ago, my actual work (editing, posting, blogging, uploading, etc.) is only done while the kids are sleeping. If that's not what you do, I'm not judging. That's just been my informal rule to myself and I make it a point to continue to follow it.

So after I gave myself a little slap in the face to snap out of the "I'm not good enough." mood, I realize I DO do enough.

My kids are fed. We have fun. I'm there for them when they are hurt. I'm there for them when they need a diaper change. We play. I play. We have dance parties. My business is booming, and my clients are happy. 

At the end of the day, Henry always tells me he "Loves me so much and I'm the best mama there ever was." His love for me is not conditional on how many Power Rangers coloring pages I did with him, if we went anywhere fun, or if we stayed home all day. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if I made him last night's leftovers or if I took them to McDonald's for lunch. They love me no matter what.

And with all that being said, the emotions of "OMG, Henry's going to school 'for good'", are still getting to me. So I'm on a quest to do as many fun things as possible before that big day on the 25th.

Today, we went to "The COOP" in downtown Frisco. Highly highly recommend. Clean, bright, fun, and completely perfect for the under five crowd.

Find that balance mamas. The one that works for you and your household situation. Not the one in that one blog post or that other blog post. The one that works for you. We all have hard jobs and know it will all pass too quickly and these kids will be teenagers.

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Monsters, Inc Party Details!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I had a brief moment today between finishing session galleries to do a FEW of the birthday party pictures. I obviously have a ton more with actual people in them, but these are pretty easy to whip up for those who care about these sort of crafty things.

Yes, I made the cake, many thanks to my friend Kelly for helping, no thanks to the humidity for causing the buttercream to be quite the struggle.

I want to find a cake maker who will swap a cake for a session with me for Claire's birthday so that I::
1. Don't have to worry about it or spend the obscene amount of time on the cake.
2. Get something more awesome than my haphazard tries.
3. I have plans to be busy doing something else much spectacular during her party, so there' s that too.

I made all the signs, favor tags, birthday banner, invites and photo booth props with my Silhouette Cameo. If you love all things crafty and DON'T have one of those, get one. It instantly turns you into a crazy crafty person.

Also, if anyone is in need of that crepe paper banner, I still have it hanging. Can sell as is or cut it shorter. Let me know before it goes in the trash!

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