Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Potty Training Woes

I hate potty training!  Believe me, I’ve read all the books.  Twice.  All the magazine articles.  All the blogs.  It has not gone well.

We first started training Finn at 18 months.  Within a day, it was clear that he wasn’t ready and didn’t get it.  (It was also really clear that apple juice gives Finn diarrhea.  Naked + diarrhea + 18 month old = no fun!)  So we stopped.

Several months later when he was over 2 1/2, we did it again.  It went well initially, but not for long.  Lots of accidents and he just didn’t care.  He knew how to go potty.  He could tell that he had to go potty.  He’d go potty if you took him there.  He just didn’t care if he had an accident.  The promise of being a big boy didn’t matter.  Promise of preschool and going to the beach didn’t faze him.  Getting M&Ms or smarties wasn’t enough to make him go.  Having him go to the bathroom every hour didn’t help.  Accidents would still happen 10 minutes later.

Then this past summer, we really focused on it.  Helped, but didn’t get much more progress.  In addition to potty training not going well, Finn was not very obedient.  He’d be mean (in ways that 3 year olds are mean).  He’d disobey.  He’d ignore.  Sometimes because he just had a different idea than you did.  But sometimes, he’d disobey just for the sake of disobeying.

Enough we said.  Jeff & I started seeing a counselor with Finn.  She gave us some things to try and they seem to be working!  We focused on some things that I had been doing.  Some different things that Jeff had been doing.  Things that our babysitter had been doing.  But we weren’t all consistent.  I did things just a little differently than Jeff did who did things just a little differently than our babysitter did.

Nothing new we’ve done is rocket science.  We’re focusing on the positive. We’re being very verbal with our praise so that he knows when he’s done well. We’re downplaying the misbehavior as much as possible (addressing it without giving it lots of attention).  We’re spending concentrated one on one time with him.  We’ve made sure that all of us are consistent.

And it’s working!  Accidents are now few and far between.  In fact, he went 7 days without an accident and earned a trip to the Ferris Wheel at Scheels (he had seen a picture on Grammy’s phone).  This was from the kid who would have multiple accidents each day.  We only met with the counselor 3 times over the course of 2 months, but it was time and money well spent!


Potty Chart

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In preparation for our 3rd child, Finn and Stephen started sharing a room.  Finn in a bed and Stephen in a crib.  A whopping 3 weeks later, Stephen learned to get out of that crib!  Thus entered the bedtime battle blues.

Jim Gaffigan says:

“Bedtime makes you realize how completely incapable you are of being in charge of another human being. My children act like they’ve never been to sleep before. ‘Bed? What’s that? No, I’m not doing that.’ They never want to go to bed. This is another thing that I will never have in common with my children. Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, ‘When can I come back here?’ It’s the carrot that keeps me motivated. Sometimes going to bed feels like the highlight of my day. Ironically, to my children, bedtime is a punishment that violates their basic rights as human beings. Once the lights are out, you can expect at least an hour of inmates clanging their tin cups on the cell bars.”

This became my world.  Hands down, it was the worst part of my day.  I DREADED it.  I tried to get out of it and make Jeff responsible for all bedtimes for the next 18 years.  No dice.  We tried just letting the boys play, figuring they’d eventually get tired.  Nope.  Instead, they removed all the clothes from every drawer and pulled out every wet wipe from every container.  (They don’t even have toys in their room – can you imagine what they’d do if they had toys to strew about!?)  What tipped the scale is that they discovered that they could get the mattress of Stephen’s toddler bed and jump on the rails!  Which, of course, broke.

For the next 3 months, I cowered in fear of bedtime. My blood pressure shot up to 220/150.  (Not really.  Didn’t measure it.)  Even at the new house, the battles continued.  We tried to exhaust them before bed.  We tried putting 1 to bed before the other.  We tried everything.  It was always, always a fight.  And it always took hours.  (Or it seemed that way.)  And it exhausted me.

Finally, last week, we separated them. The toddler bed finally completely broke.  So we headed to the furniture store, and bought a bunk bed for the boys.  The kind that can separate into 2 twin beds.  We put Finn in with Sammy.  We left Stephen in his room alone.

It has been WONDERFUL!!!  So wonderful.  Without an audience, Stephen no longer tries to entertain someone at bedtime.  Without a playmate, Finn falls right to sleep.  Sammy sleeps through the night most of the time and the couple of times that he has cried, Finn sleeps right through it.

I no longer fear bedtime.  And it’s so incredibly freeing.  I have my life and sanity back.


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Phinehas is such a blessing and a handful to us.  In the last 6 months, especially, it’s been so fun to watch his vocabulary and logic skills just skyrocket!  He can communicate so much more clearly.  He’s capable of increasingly complex thoughts.  It’s just fun to see him and to hear him process his world.

He is a very strong willed little boy. It’s hard to talk him into anything.  It’s even hard to expect little things from him – like potty training.  He knows to use the potty.  He doesn’t forget to use the potty.  It’s just that accidents don’t bother him.  Until you notice the accident, then he’s bothered by it.  The other day he didn’t want to go to the playground with the other kids in his Sunday School class, so he ran off.

He can be so kind and affectionate.  Sometimes, I’ll give him a cup of water and you would’ve thought I’d given him the moon.  “Thank you mommy!” he’ll exclaim. And he’ll randomly give me a hug or blow me a kiss.  If Sammy starts crying, Finn’s the first to go over there and talk to him saying that he’ll (Finn) make him happy.  Not get him to stop crying, but to make him happy.

He can also let his anger take over.  If he gets mad enough, he’ll just throw whatever is in his hands.  Just chuck it.  Or reach out and kick (usually Stephen) if someone is nearby.

We’re still learning how to parent him.  I suspect we will be for the next 16 years.  And that’s okay.  We’ve prayed.  We’ve read the books.  We’ve taken the parenting classes.  We’ve sought out opinions from wise people.  And from people on facebook.  We’ll continue to do all those things.

He’s just so precious to us.  Here are some of the things that I want to remember about 3-year-old Finn:

  • How he wants to make Sammy happy when he cries.
  • The other day he couldn’t find his shoes right away. “Mama, I’m disappointed.  Disappointed means sad.”  His tone said that he didn’t think I knew that.
  • He just started sharing a room with Sammy instead of Stephen.  Sammy woke up in the middle of the night one time and it work up Finn when I went in there.  I got Sammy out of his crib, but Finn tried to stop me: “No mama, he’s MY Sammy.”  Sorry Finn…gotta feed him.

And some great conversations:

Finn: Mama, I built a house (showing me his ‘house’ he built out of blankets.)
Me: How many kitchen tables does your house have?
Finn: ALOT! 3 of them.
Me: That’s good. How many bedrooms?

Finn: 2!
Me: How many bathrooms does your house have?
Finn: None. We’ll just wear diapers.


Finn: “Mama, sometimes I wanna be big. But sometimes I wanna be little too.”
Me: “Me too, Finn, me too.”


Finn: “Mama, Jesus gave me lots of pennies.”
Me: “He did?”
Finn: “Yeah. But He said that I just have to go find them.”
Me: “Interesting.”
Finn: “Mama, do you have any pennies?”


Capri: Hi Finn.
Finn: Wanna play Hide N Seek?
Capri: No. Wanna play House?
Finn: Okay.
Capri: I’ll be the mom. You be the dad.
Finn: Okay! I’ll be the dad that plays Hide N Seek.
Capri: Okay.



We had a guy come and mow the lawn.

Finn: He’s half nakkie mom!
Me: What?
Finn: Yeah, he has pants. And shoes. And a shirt, but I can see his arms.
Me: Oh…well, that’s not really half nakkie Finn. That’s just him wearing a tank top. That’s okay.


Overheard when he was playing with Little People:
“Do you hear that plane? It’s in the sky.”
“We went on a walk last night.”
“Mama and me made a cake. We get to eat it tomorrow.”
“I have to listen to my body.” (For when it’s time to go potty.)
“When the house is on fire, I have to shut the fire down.” (He likes to pretend he’s a fireman.)
“Sometimes, we have to go to bed even if we aren’t tired.”
“When Sammy wakes up, we’ll give him a bottle.”


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Here we go again!

Here we go again!  (No, not another baby!)  Another move!

Tomorrow, Jeff & I go sign some papers, hand over a really big check and get some keys to our new house!  Then it’s moving time!

Well, almost.  We’ll own 2 houses for 1 week, giving us that week to move.  Tomorrow, complete with family, we’ll attack the house by tearing out carpet, prepping walls for paint and doing some general cleaning.  The rest of the week, we’ll paint most of it.  And on Saturday, new carpet will be installed.  Just in time for us to move in on Sunday.

We’ve been talking to the boys about moving (since, you know, the house is just down the street from us).  Today as we were getting into the car to go to church, this conversation ensued:

Finn: “Mama, I don’t think we should go to church.”

Me: “Why not Finn?”

Finn: “I don’t think we should leave our house.”

Me: “It’s okay, we’ll be back after church.”

Finn: “But if we leave our house, someone else might move into it while we’re at church.”

Me: “Oh, Finn…no one else will move into it until Mommy and Daddy say its okay.  In another week, me, you, Stephen,  Sammy and Dada are going to move to the new house.  THEN someone else can move in here.  But we will have a new house first.”

Finn: “Okay.  But I like this house.”

Me: “I know.  But the new house will be good too.”

Sad, huh?  Poor little guy.  Especially since we’ll see the new people who move in.  I suspect that will be confusing for a while!  For that reason, I plan on making his new room at the new house look as much like his old room at this house as possible.  Something familiar!

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I’ve seen videos on this. I’ve read articles on this.  I’ve seen facebook rants on this.

What’s “this”? It’s the concept that America should be kinder to “working moms” and give them more maternity leave.  Paid maternity leave.  That other countries get up to a year off and gosh darn it, America is greater than those countries, so why shouldn’t our women have a year off too? And probably more!

Answer: Because we’re capitalists.  And when someone who is in the workforce, producing things (whether that’s widgets or services or documents) and they stop producing things, they stop earning money for the company that has employed them.

Women who are self-employed understand this.  Say that they own a house cleaning company.  If they take off of work for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  Houses aren’t being cleaned (by them anyway).  Say that they are a piano teacher.  If they stopped teaching lessons for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  It’s the cost of taking a year off work.

Why should women who aren’t self-employed get a long paid maternity leave?  Take me for example.  I’m on week 5 of a 6-week maternity leave.  I am being paid – at 66 2/3%.  Why?  Because someone has said “Jayme is disabled because she had a baby”, so I’m really collecting Short Term Disability. But after that?  My job is protected for another 6 weeks, but I won’t be paid.

Who should pay me if America did have a “year off for working moms”?  My company?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them.  The government?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them either.  And if it were the government who was paying me, then it’s really me who is paying me.  (Since I pay taxes).  And since you pay taxes, it’d be you paying me for having a baby.  And since I’ve been popping out babies quite a bit lately, should you really pay me to take a year off every 18 months?  I’d be: having a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off.

Women can’t have it all. We can’t say “Pay me the same as a man!” and say “Give me preferential treatment when hiring someone” and say “Pay me to be off work for a year each time I have a baby!” and say “Let me have flexible scheduling that you don’t give to men” and say “Make me a partner in your law firm at the same time as a man who worked more hours than I did” and say “I want to be absolutely indispensable to this company” and say “Be okay with me taking lots of time off” all at the same time.

I’m incredibly grateful for the paid leave that I do have.  I know that I’m not really disabled right now.  (Heck, I just did a lot of physical work getting a house ready to sell!).  I know that the people who really suffer when I’m on maternity leave are my co-workers (someone has to do the work!).

To be clear:

  • Women absolutely should be paid the same as men, when they’re doing the same work – at the same rate.
  • When I started with my company 5 1/2 years ago, I know that they could have chosen to hire a man who wouldn’t have asked for 6 weeks off every 18 months.  Is it fair?  I dunno.  It’s reality.
  • Luckily, I got skills and my company loves me, despite taking lots of time off.
  • I have made choices in my career (namely to work only part-time) that I know will put me at a disadvantage over someone who hasn’t made those same choices (be they man or woman).  I know I won’t get promoted as quickly.  I know that I won’t have as many opportunities for bigger projects or cool travel assignments.  I get it – my choices matter.
  • No one owes me a paid maternity leave.  It’s a benefit, not a right.  And certainly not a benefit that should be provided by Joe Public.

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Transition from 2 to 3

I haven’t blogged much and normally, I’m okay with that.  But, man, I got thoughts that I want to get onto paper!  (Even if it’s an electronic form of paper).  This is a really cool and unique time in our family’s life and I know I’ll forget things if I don’t record them somewhat.  I like being able to physically soak in memories and store them in my little head, but I also know that 5, 10 or even 20 years down the line, they are likely to escape.  Recording them, even briefly, can help them come back to life.

I’ve heard it said that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the toughest.  You know, you’re no longer on man-to-man defense.  So to speak.  That has not been the case for us.  So far anyway.

Maybe it has more to do with the ages of your kiddos when you add the 3rd.  Most people don’t have 18 months between each kid, making their oldest older than ours (just turned 3) when they add the 3rd.  In some ways, that would help (older children are more likely to help).  In other ways, that wouldn’t help (they still need attention and might more easily resent a new sibling.)

Maybe it has more to do with the personalities of the children when you add the 3rd.  We’re not quite 3 weeks into this yet, but so far, Sammy is the “easiest” baby that I’ve had.  No jaundice. He eats well and sleeps well.  (Especially in the middle of the night — he’s a fast eater and fast return-to-sleeper!)  He’s content to be held.  He’s content to lay on his mat.

Maybe it has more to do with the “life” stuff going on when you add the 3rd.  With our 1st, we were fairly newly married (not quite 2 years) and still adjusting to that, in little ways.  With our 2nd, we had just moved into a house 2 weeks before he was born and was definitely adjusting to that and getting settled in.  With this one, we haven’t just moved.  We’ve been married for almost 5 years now.  We’ve generally figured out our roles in life.

I’m not sure there’s a definitive list of reasons why this has been so easy (so far).  But…

I thought I’d have to play more defense.  For us, I thought Stephen (18 months) would be indifferent to the new baby like Finn mostly was when Stephen was born.  Not the case.  Stephen is enamored with him!  If he hears the baby cry in the monitor, he perks up, says “Baby!” and starts heading for his room.  He runs to “hold” Sammy after we get him up, before I feed him.  Finn (3 years) is interested, but not too much or for too long.  He’s got other things to do.  The other day, Stephen got a hold of one of Sammy’s sleepers from the laundry and carried it around for 30 minutes just saying “Baby, Baby”.  We’ve set up a “safe place” for Sammy on the main stairs and (mostly) the boys respect that and don’t bother him.

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital.  (With my sister Tiffany)

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital. (With my sister Tiffany)

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

I’m comfortable with this role.  When the role of Mom is new to you, you question everything!  At least, I did.  And when your first is born at under 6 pounds, fights jaundice, you’re trying really unsuccessfully to breastfeed and you’re adjusting to lack of sleep, everything looks worse than it is.  And its easy to dwell on that and think that things will never change.  But now?  I know it that any hard times are just really short phases.

We’re home-centered already.  It might be weird to say that because I do work outside of the home part-time, but in general, we aren’t out and about kind of people.  Partly because that’s our personalities.  Partly because we’re used to structuring our lives around nap times anyway.  The last few months, our babysitter (my sister) has been coming to our house to watch the boys anyway, so we aren’t even used to packing them up to take them to a sitter’s house.  We just stay home.  Adding another baby usually means that people stay home more.  For us, we’re already used to that.  No major lifestyle changes there.

Our oldest 2 “play” really well together.  When I had Stephen, Finn was an only child and used to mom’s attention 100% of the time.  He didn’t really play independently and always wanted to be near (or on top of) me.  Now?  Finn and Stephen actually “play” together!  Play together = being in the same room, playing with similar objects.  If I go to get Sammy up from a nap, Finn doesn’t rush to join me and he certainly doesn’t want to sit on my lap at the same time.  He’s content to know where I’m at because he doesn’t feel alone – Stephen is there with him.  They’re both content to be playing in the toy room as I sit on the toy room couch feeding Sammy.  I didn’t think they’d be playmates this young in life.

I have more thoughts I’m sure, but I wanted to get these out of my head!

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We rarely take the boys out to eat.  Now, one of us might run out and grab fast food and bring it home, but the boys rarely go into restaurants.  It isn’t a money thing; it’s just stressful for me.  You don’t enjoy the food.  It’s hard to enjoy the company you’re with.  (Some might ask how we plan on training the boys to be in restaurants if we never take them there.  But I believe that they will be just fine should they never dine out until they’re 8.  Somehow, they’ll still learn to be still. We have time for them to learn this life lesson.  Later.)

But a couple of weeks ago, my mom invited us out and it was great timing — it was getting late and I didn’t have dinner plans.  The boys had taken long afternoon naps.  It was to a place that I love (Olive Garden.) There would be more adults there than children.  And with a 3rd on the way, I knew it was almost a “now or never” kind of moment. So I gave an enthusiastic yes!

Dinner was great.  The service was slow as the restaurant was really busy, but the boys did really well.  (Of course, my expectations were low.)  As we were getting ready to leave and pay our bill, Finn said “Mama, I got sickies in my tummy.”

So I scooted him over to me and we cuddled while Jeff dealt with the check.  Well, we cuddled as much as you can squeezed into a booth.

Then I stood him up to put his coat on him.  He leaned over into me and puked.  A few times.  He hadn’t eaten too much, but whatever was in there, all came out.  Mostly on me, but some on the bench seat.  Some on the floor.  Some on the table.  Some even flew and hit Jeff’s shoe.

He instantly felt better of course.  At nearly the same time, Stephen started crying cause he was D.O.N.E.  He had had enough and was ready to go.

My mother laughed (kindly, in a “I remember those days” kind of way) and took a picture.  Me, 30-some weeks pregnant in a restaurant booth with a crying 1-year-old and a puking 2-year-old.  It was one of those “I’m just gonna laugh about this because there isn’t much else I can do anyway” kind of moments.


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