We started potty training Ben, our 3 year old, on New Year’s Day. I had avoided starting for longer than I should have because I had zero experience with potty training kids and was really overwhelmed by the whole process (plus I hated the idea of cleaning up pee). It wasn’t going to happen without our involvement, however, so we picked a book, picked a day, and took away the diapers.
I’ve collected a few random thoughts about the process thus far as a way of remembering how to do this the next time around
Both Brian and I read Oh Crap Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki to give ourselves a baseline idea of how to start the process and deal with any problems that might arise. The book is more of how small kids learn and what their physical limits are at the age when they train than a tried and true method.
Like most parenting philosophies, there’s no one way to potty train that will work for every child. Ben is incredibly stubborn and we’ve had to come up with a small handful of tactics to work around that.
The first week sucked because it is so dang exhausting to be that vigilant for that long. I mourned the sudden loss of my tiny bit of free time during the day because Ben was always right there.
At two weeks in, we’ve got a handle on his rhythms and I can trust him to have quiet play time or a nap in his room after lunch without fear of accident
Our kid just doesn’t get that there are times that one has to try to pee, even if one doesn’t think one needs to (such as before leaving the house or getting ready for bed)
Even though the author strongly encouraged skipping pull ups entirely, we learned that it was worth the drop in stress level and not having to wash bedding 2 or more times per night to give him a pull up. We called them “nighttime undies” and he doesn’t consider them as diapers so it works for us.
At two weeks, night time success is only about 30% but he’s about 90% during the day, especially if I’m able to pay enough attention. The weather has been cold and snowy for the last week so we haven’t experienced having to use a public bathroom yet. Ben has always been terrified of them (they’re too loud!) so will be a challenge, especially with a not-yet-walking 1 year old tagging along
A bunch of my friends have been writing blog posts or business updates that focused on what they accomplished in 2015. I didn’t get a chance to write a “year in review” for our family Christmas cards this year so you all are the luck recipients!
When I asked Brian what we did last January, his response was, “Survived!” I couldn’t agree more! Teddy turned 3 months at the beginning of the year and we were still a sleep-deprived state, learning to juggle the very different needs of our small infant and toddler. Brian attended PressNomics 2015 in Phoenix at the end of the month. I accidentally gave my computer a bath, lost a bunch of data, but had help from wonderful friends replacing the dead laptop with the one I am using to this day.
We were able to fill our empty rental house at the beginning of the year with fantastic tenants who have treated the house well over the year. The house had been vacant for a few months and our family and the renters were happy to have found each other.
Of note, I learned to make roasted chickpeas to trick our 2 year old into eating something healthy. He randomly stopped eating anything at dinner so I upped my healthy snack game in attempts to give him something with nutritional value.
We went to a wedding, the boys got bigger (Teddy started adoring Ben, which was so much fun to watch), stripped wallpaper in our kitchen, dining room, and hallway in preparation for painting, which was completed during our Florida trip, and we left for our annual Disney trip. This was Teddy’s first trip and even though it took him a day of travel to get used to being in the car, he adapted very well and we really enjoyed ourselves.
We met up with the spring break group from His House Christian Fellowship from Grand Valley in Fort Myers after our Disney vacation. Brian helped lead the trip while the boys and I helped cook for everyone. The boys enjoyed the attention from all their “Grand Valley friends” and we all enjoyed the extended Florida weather with our students, even if it was colder than normal.
Our big painting project was completed while we were gone, thanks to the work of the talented Becky. It was such a blessing to not have to worry about Ben ruining all her work by running his hands through wet paint.
Brian and I experienced a “first” by attending WordCamp San Diego together at the very end of March. Teddy was too young to be left behind but Ben spent a week with Grammy and Papa. WPSessions sponsored and Teddy was the youngest and quietest attendee. We squeezed in a day trip to Disneyland, which only made us want to go again soon!
We returned home and readjusted to being responsible for chores again. The weather got warm enough that I was able to start spring clean up a bit earlier than I have in years past. Teddy started eating solid foods and we geared up to have lots of fun around our house during the summer. We also took what is possibly the best set of photos of our boys together.
We got a new water heater, so exciting, but since we haven’t had any issues with out hot water since, I think it was a significant event!
Brian had his 29th birthday, we celebrated our 7th anniversary, and Brian attended LoopConf in Vegas during the first few weeks of May. The whole family participated in the Civil War reenactment at Greenfield Village in Dearborn over Memorial Day weekend.
May is the beginning of the months that, for me, redeem living through winter in Michigan. It is so beautiful and we spent as much time enjoying our new neighborhood as possible. We have an established asparagus patch in our garden and ate asparagus every two days all month long. It was great!
One day in June I woke up and didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by being outnumbered by my two tiny tornado children. It took almost 8 months to feel like I could take on anything and, naturally, to celebrate, I went out and got a job. I started working for poststatus.com at the beginning of the June and even seven months later am still surprised how much I enjoy doing something that exercises a completely different set of skills than raising children.
We bought our Chrysler minivan with cash at the beginning of June. This was one of the goals we set at the beginning of 2015 and I’m still pleased and proud we accomplished it. Our van, Van-essa, has taken us on many trips in the last 7 months, the first of which was to a retirement celebration in Iowa for my uncle at the end of June.
The two most significant home improvement tasks we took on were cleaning and rearranging our breezeway to be a quasi-outdoor play and hangout space for our family when the weather wasn’t quite nice enough to be outside and hiring a landscaper to remove the remnants of a spruce tree (and about a million weeds) out of the north side of our lawn.
We spent Father’s Day with friends from out of town and took the boys to play on the playground behind our house. Everyone had a lot of fun!
We kicked off July by hosting my extended family for brunch on the 4th. Our city’s 4th of July parade is spectacular and goes right past the end of our street so back when my grandparents lived here, it became a family tradition to have brunch and walk to the parade together. Now it is our turn to host!
Most of our photos from July are of our boys at the playground. We live very close to two elementary schools and within walking or biking distance from one of our city’s biggest parks and playgrounds so our spare minutes were spent feeding ducks, eating ice cream outside, and playing on all the play equipment.
In the last week of July, our family left on a 2 week camping road trip to Colorado. The boys were really excited to play in our popup camper!
We spent the last few days of July and the first 10 days of August on vacation in Colorado. We camped in Moraine Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park for 5 nights before driving to Breckenridge, Colorado for the rest of our trip. We hiked, played on almost every playground we found, and didn’t sleep a whole lot.
During the rest of the month we had one day trip to a reenactment and a trip to the zoo but mostly spent time near home. We love to travel but being able to recharge at home is really important to us.
September was abnormally busy for us. We took the boys camping near Ludington for a long weekend. Our family celebrated Ben’s 3rd birthday on the 19th (sniff!). Brian had a great time at CaboPress, a business mastermind event put on by our friend Chris. I started running using a couch to 5k app but ended up with terrible pain in my knees from unsupportive shoes and had to bench myself for the remainder of the nice weather last fall. I’m hoping to take it up again (with new shoes) in the spring.
Teddy turned one year old at the beginning of October. I still have so many feels about my baby being older than a year old but we have no immediate plans to force him into being a middle child. He’s so good at being the baby that we’ll let him keep the title for a while.
We explored ArtPrize in Grand Rapids and had a blast trick or treating at both my dad’s office and in our neighborhood. This was the first year that Ben knew what was going on and wanted to be part of every minute of such a fun day.
The month of November is a giant blurry spot in my mental calendar. The boys and I all got our first colds of the winter, I finished up 5 weeks of doing yoga at church on Monday nights, and we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents, siblings, grandma, cousins, and aunt and uncle.
I purged several trash bags worth of clothes, toys, and household items before Thanksgiving so we could enter the Christmas season without feeling bogged down in stuff. Ben and Brian made a large snowman from our first snowfall and Ben is still asking when it’s going to snow enough for him to do it again.
Brian and I experienced a first at the beginning of December: Traveling without kids! We flew to Philadelphia to participate in the inaugural WordCamp US. Brian has been working with WordPress for longer than we’ve been married so I finally got to meet so many people face-to-face I’ve heard of and chatted with online. We also took the opportunity to spend a day exploring Philadelphia together and were able to see lots of the notable historic sites.I’ve meant to do a post devoted to that trip but face it, at this point, it’s probably not going to happen. Suffice it to say that I think I’ve found my people.
You can’t talk about December without also talking about Christmas. We spread out festivities as much as we could this year so the boys didn’t completely fall apart. We had a ton of fun with extended family and were thrilled that Brian was able to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off of work. We played, watched lots of movies, ate lots of junk, and had fun being together as a family.
Other small notable events from December: Ben had his first dental cleaning (and did great!), unseasonably warm weather prompted us to spend extra time outside,, Ben really got into decorating the house for Christmas, Brian and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we discovered and eliminated a mouse in the basement.
So heres to 2016! May it be full of as many memorable moments!
It has already been a year since our Theodore John aka Teddy aka The Teds aka Teddy Bear aka Tedders aka Little Baby aka Ted-er-ino arrived to make our family four. First birthday posts are hard for me to write because almost everything changes about that baby in the course of a year and I get so nostalgic (and emotional) thinking about his sweet turned up nose and little newborn squeaks and grunts.
While official weight and height stats are coming next week, I know he’s about the same as Ben was at one year at 20ish lbs and 30ish inches since they’re wearing the same clothes. If anything, Teddy is a bit shorter. He has 6 teeth with no signs of adding more anytime soon (although I’ve been mistaken before!). He is down to nursing only in the morning and eats everything we put in front of him. It’s not uncommon for him to polish off his whole plate of food and finish what Ben won’t touch. He can sign eat, milk, more, all done, and chew and doesn’t hesitate to let me know at 5:15 every night that he is ready for dinner.
UPDATE: Teddy’s 12 month checkup was today and he’s such a little peanut! He was only 18lb 9.5oz (11th %) and 29 inches tall (18th %). His head was 18.5″ (76th %) so we’re continuing the trend of large headed babies. I knew he felt smaller than Ben but that big of a difference surprised me. At 3 years, Ben is more or less average at 31 lb (42nd %) and 3 ft 1.5 inches (49th %).
Ben was so, so excited to meet Teddy at the hospital and our favorite thing has been watching the relationship of the two brothers grow along with Teddy. Ben was quick to shower attention and kisses on unsuspecting baby Theodore but now Teddy is big enough to give them right back! They don’t share toys well and have a hard time waiting for their parents’ undivided attention but play and wrestle so much more with every passing week. Opening Ben’s door in the morning and after naps (when he inevitably wakes first) is one of Teddy’s favorite times of the day.
Teddy loves his family, the kitties, his grandparents, his baabaa (burp cloth) and boppy (pacifier), eating everything ever, playing with his brother’s toys, any vehicle with wheels, wrestling, putting his hands and other small objects into Ben’s potty chair, singing songs, taking baths, reading books, trying to shove his boppy in Mommy’s mouth, giving kisses, and snuggling.
Teddy dislikes diaper changes, not being allowed to eat right this instant, green beans, thinking he has been left out of something fun, having to get naked instead of jumping in the bath with his clothes on, being denied access to the potty chair, and when Ben takes away toys he wants to play with. It was much harder to think of dislikes because The Teds is truly a naturally happy child and is content to do almost anything as long as he can be with his people.
Teddy can army crawl with an incredible amount of speed and it starting to pull himself up on anything he can reach. He’s been slower to learn new skills than Ben was because he’s just so content to sit where he was put and play with whatever he can reach. He’s caught on to the fact that there’s just so much more mischief he can get into if he can get himself from point A to B so I don’t think it will be too much longer before he starts walking.
We had a first birthday cake smash photoshoot with Teddy earlier this week. While Ben, at the same age, gingerly dipped one finger into the frosting and barely got messy, Teddy barreled across the room when he saw the cupcake on the floor and eagerly dove into it with both hands. He didn’t even let me put it down in front of him before he attacked. It was a lot of fun to watch!
Today our Benjamin turns 3 years old. It’s cliché to say that time flies but I’m certain that this year went even faster than from 1 to 2. There is an activity floating around the internet where you ask your child the same set of questions every year to see how their answers change over time. I though this year would be a great year to start with Ben but I hadn’t counted on the fact that his attention span is similar in length to a goldfish! Over the course of a week, he’s given me enough answers (and pointed UN-answers) to fill out a post.
What is your name?
Benny! B-E-N spells me!
How old are you?
I got some sprinkles!
What is your favorite color?
I don’t know my favorite color is
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Cake! Birthday cake!
What is your favorite food?
Peanut butter and jelly
Who do you like to play with?
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite animal?
This! *holds out a snowman cookie cutter*
What is your favorite song?
What makes you laugh?
I laughed in my room. I shut the door
What do you like to do with your family?
Go for a drive and we go to the vacation house
What does Daddy do for work?
Daddy has a meeting and I have a pretend meeting
What does Mommy do for work?
What is your favorite movie?
I don’t know. I like Toy Story!
What is your favorite show?
Um, Finding Nemo?
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Play with Emily!
Where do you like to go on vacation?
The vacation house!
Sweet Teddy boy is 11 months already! A good example of what an 11 month is like is what happened when I was nursing him before bed tonight. He was laying on my lap and pushed against the armrest of the chair to reach his pacifier on the end table. He popped the pacifier in his mouth and signed that he was all done. My tiny baby has opinions, can do things on his own, and can communicate his desires.
He figured out crawling and gets into everything now. Ben gets a little tired of defending his toys but we’re working how to give them both their own space.
We took a family trip to Binder Park Zoo where the biggest attraction is feeding the giraffes. Ben loved the giraffes as much as he did when we took him last summer.
At his 9 month check up only a few weeks ago, Teddy was 18 lbs (18th %), 28 inches (24th %), and had an 18 inch head (65th %). He’s both lighter and shorter than Ben was at this age, which is weird to all of us because T is so much stockier than Ben has ever been. He’s really comfortable, with plenty of growing room, in 9 month clothes so he’ll probably be wearing them until or even past his birthday. He got one shot at his appointment but barely squawked.
Teddy is sitting, army-crawling, and rolling everywhere. Ben continues to struggle with sharing toys and Teddy is really good at testing Ben’s limits. They make each other cry on occasion but most problems can still be solved with hugs and kisses.
Theodore eats almost everything I give him so, with a few substitutions, he pretty much eats with the rest of the family now. Three cheers for only cooking one meal!
We’re starting to see the boys playing together a lot more often and I can’t get enough!
How has it been 9 months already? I know Teddy is getting big and all but 9 months seems like it should feel a lot longer ago than it does.
Teddy is round, happy, hungry, loving, learning, and almost too cute for words. He has learned so much in the last month! He gives kisses on request now so every night at bed time after I read him a book, I have to find Brian and Ben so Teddy can give kisses. I think he enjoys it as much as we do. Teddy loves playing peek-a-boo and does so whenever the mood strikes: while nursing, getting dressed, playing on the floor, sitting in the car… He hides his face with his baabaa (the much-loved burp cloth) or his hands and smiles from ear to ear when he uncovers his eyes. He loves touch-and-feel books and giggles to himself whenever he pets something fuzzy. His babbling is starting to sound more intentional, especially the sounds he makes when he sees Brian (dadadada), me (mumumum), the cat (kkkkkkk), and puffs (fffff).
Teddy isn’t crawling yet but I have a feeling that will happen in the next month. He ninja rolls everywhere and is good at correcting the direction so he can reach what he set out for but there are times where he gets angry that the toy he wants is just beyond his reach. I’ve seen him push forward with his toes and lift his belly off the floor so it’s bound to happen sooner rather than later. He might not be crawling but he sits like a champ now. His favorite activity, just like Ben, is to sit in front of a basket of toys and slowly, methodically empty it out onto the floor. It’s simple but it keeps him amused for at least 30 minutes so it’s a win!
The Tedders is always hungry, no joke. He reaches for anything we are eating so we’ve gone full-tilt into finger food. We worked on using his fingers to pinch for a few days and he caught on fast. He loves cheese, black beans, bits of fruit, cheerios, puffs, green beans, chicken, pasta, peas, and blueberries. He’s still nursing 3 times a day and it doesn’t seem like he wants to give that up anytime soon. I’ve started giving him a cup of water and he thinks it’s about the funniest thing he’s ever done; he giggles constantly as he tries to drink.
He has had a healthy month, thank God! The week after his 8 month milestone he cut his front bottom teeth (while Ben and I were sick and Brian was out of town). He was a pretty good teether, as they go. He was extra clingy so I wore him more often and did less housework so we could snuggle while he played.
Theodore is a bit of a chunk but only because he’s proportionally shorter than he is heavy. He’s our short and wide boy! He doesn’t go to the pediatrician for another few weeks but when I weighed him a few weeks back he was just over 18 lbs but 6 month clothes still fit pretty well for length. He gets his shortness from his mama! He is wearing 9 month clothes for the width and since its warm enough most days to go pantsless, leg length isn’t an issue. His girth is almost too much for babylegs but we make it work.
8 months seems really old but our Theodore really is getting big!
The month started with Brian leaving for a trip to Las Vegas for Loopconf. A short stop at my parents’ house after bringing Brian to the airport turned into an impromptu sleepover for Benny. Teddy and I spent our time together going for a walk, running errands, and hanging photos in Ben’s room. It was kind of relaxing to have only one child for a day. The boys and I had lots of fun while Daddy was away but were thrilled that he came home in time for Mother’s Day and his birthday.
Teddy rolls like he was born doing it now. He’s also figured out that rolling can get him to places previously out of reach like Ben’s toys. He is particularly fond of the vintage Little People garage, sucking on the Little People’s heads, and hitting things with a toy golf club.
We’re working on sitting now too. Learning to sit unassisted is such a gradual process and it’s not like first roll or first steps where there is a moment you can point to as the beginning. He loves sitting in front of his walker toy and attempt to manipulate all the slides, shapes, balls, and noisemakers but will tip himself over on purpose if he doesn’t want to sit anymore.
Teddy loves his people and “his people” encompasses pretty much everyone he meets. His daddy, brother, and grandparents all have special places in his heart. He gives glorious, slobbery, open-mouth kisses when you ask.
Sleep training has been going really well; I’ve even gotten to “sleep through the night” a few times in the last 30 days. We’ve completely dropped Teddy’s 5-6 AM feeding and if he wakes up, he can put himself back to sleep with minimal intervention from me. With Brian working crazy, odd hours lately, it’s good that I’m getting (reliably) better quality sleep.
We spent Memorial Day weekend at a Civil War reenactment at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. This was Teddy’s first event and the kickoff to the summer reenacting season in Michigan. The weather was perfect, the boys were fabulously behaved, and we had more stress-free fun over the weekend than we’ve had in our two previous summers of reenacting with kids. Staying at a hotel instead of tent camping made all the difference in the world!
Teddy eats like a champ and will put everything in his mouth, given the opportunity. I’ve been working with Ben on keeping paper books, flash cards, and pieces of cereal off the floor and out of Teddy’s reach. Ben is struggling with suddenly being expected to share toys so it’s rare that I have to remind him to move his toys away from his brother.
We heard over and over again at our reenactment last week that Teddy is the best behaved, most relaxed, happiest, smiliest, most content baby ever. So far, that’s proven to be true! He had one more short-lived ear infection this month (less than 12 hours of fussiness) but even that didn’t bring our boy down for long.
I’m struggling to believe that my squishy newborn is a chunky, active, BIG baby already but for some reason, they don’t ask permission to get big!
Teddy saw the pediatrician for his 6 month check up at the end of April. He was 16 lb 6 oz (20%), 27.25″ long (63%), and has a 17.5″ head (73%). He got two more vaccine pokes and the rotavirus oral vaccine. He was fussy until bedtime but that’s pretty close to par for the course for Teddy and vaccines. He had a DTaP granuloma lump at the site of that shot so I’ll have to remind them to give his next dose at 18 months in a different place. He’s hit most of the developmental milestones expected by 6 months (rolls over (!), likes to look at himself in a mirror, likes to play, smiles at familiar people, talks, puts things in his mouth, raking grasp, sits briefly with support, transfers toys between hands) and now we’re looking forward to things like actual mobility and sitting upright!
He is on the shorter side so he’s still wearing all 6 month clothes. It took me FOREVER to get all of the outgrown clothes out of his dresser so I’m glad I don’t have to do it again soon. I did go out and buy a few more pairs of neutral pants and some long sleeves to help with the transition between seasons. There’s been about a 50 degree temperature swing in the last 30 days so almost every day calls for something different. It snowed since we got back from California but today is nearly 80! My favorite purchase this month was just this past week when I found a pair of R2D2 Robeez shoes for $2 at a garage sale. Score!
Teddy FINALLY figured out rolling over from his belly to his back at the beginning of the month. He is getting faster by the day. He’s also rolled from his back to belly several times (all in his bed). He gets really confused when he wakes up sleeping on his belly! We’ve been working on sitting unassisted but he either falls over or folds himself in half!
We started giving Teddy solid foods right after his 6 month birthday and he took to it like a fish to water! We started with banana and added in sweet potato sticks, avocado, carrot sticks and puree, applesauce, pear slices, graham crackers, rice crackers, and pea puree. He figured out the mechanics of getting the food to his mouth immediately and really enjoys playing with what we give him. I had forgotten how incredibly awful the diapers during this transition period can be. Ew! We’re still using cloth diapers but I’m not as vigilant about getting them washed and folded so it’s not too out of the ordinary to find the baskets empty and reach for a disposable instead.
Teddy doesn’t have any teeth yet but we’ve had a full month of issues with an ear infection, croup, and general fussiness from his vaccinations. Let’s hope that his 7th month is a free from those complications but I wouldn’t mind the teeth. Let’s just get them over with!
This was a pretty big month for everyone’s sleep habits. Teddy got moved into his own room at night right after we got home from our San Diego trip. Right after that, I stopped swaddling him cold turkey and he had to readjust. THEN I started pushing him to take 2 naps a day instead of 3 by lengthening his afternoon nap to longer than 45 minutes. We’re not completely successful every day (Ben refuses to take naps occasionally so some days I get nothing done in the afternoon) but it’s slowly getting easier for him to sleep longer. He usually naps for 30-45 minutes in the mid-morning and 2 to 2.5 hours after lunch. Sleep training is tough but I know we’ll all be better for it in the end.
Overall, Teddy is still a super contented little guy who loves to play with toys (the ring stacker is his favorite right now) on the floor with his people around. He is happy to be worn in a carrier of any sort, enjoys car rides, nursing, solid foods, the cats, and being tickled. He wakes up happy for the most part and is a much-loved part of our family.