Week o’ celebrations.

Last weekend we celebrated Isabelle at her one-year-old birthday party! It was really a fun little morning with a few friends and a bounce house and cupcakes (of course) and pancakes & mimosas. I am a huge fan of the casual birthday party where everyone can get together and enjoy kids running around for a bit. Also, Isabelle loved her smash cupcake and absolutely devoured it.

Isabelle's First Birthday PartyIsabelle's First Birthday Party
Isabelle's First Birthday Party

  • Tim and I had a date night last night! We went to Joule (in the Fremont neighborhood) and it was wonderful. I highly recommend it if you’re in the Seattle area! I was a little nervous because it definitely seems more ‘meat-friendly’ than I am (since I don’t eat it at all), but I was pleasantly surprised with how flexible they were with their menu.
  • Pro tip for bringing kids to a theater: don’t sit in the front row. We learned that lesson the hard way this week! I took Clara to the children’s theater with her preschool class and we sat in the front row (because that’s just how we lined up and where they sat us). Well, after a complete meltdown mid-play, we went to the lobby for a bit and calmed down, and then sat in the back after the intermission. Of course, then Clara loved the play and was very unhappy when it ended. (“But I want to see more, mama!)
  • Also this week was Clara’s May Day celebration with her school. It got rained out on May 1st, and it was cloudy but nice weather for it this week! It was such a cute celebration with flower crowns and a maypole and lots of organic, gluten-free, vegan snacks (this is a super hippy-dippy aka “crunchy” school and I love it), and lots of friends and parents… I love doing holidays and festivals with my girls. Although, I’m not going to lie, it is exhausting having 2 mobile kids. As soon as I took my eyes off Isabelle she was crawling to other families’ blankets to eat all of their food! It was slightly embarrassing but whatever, at least she didn’t go hungry!

May Day Preschool Celebration

  • We started giving Clara a few supplements (Glycine and Melatonin) to help her sleep.So far, so good, but I’ll update you when I know for sure if it’s the ‘magic’ cure. Her sleep challenges deserve an entire post in themselves.
  • I started and finished this book (The Nightingale) and I cried.  I almost never cry during books, but this one just got to me. I highly recommend it!

We had such a busy, fun week! We also went to the toddler gym and swim lessons and preschool and a pediatrician appointment (to talk about Clara’s sleep challenges) and hosted our small group at our house and  I had a MOPS meeting (I’m on the steering committee at our local group), and I babysat a little friend for an hour or so one day, and I even managed to go boxing one time to get my sweat on!

Phew. I can’t actually believe we did all of that! It was quite wonderful and now I’m ready for the weekend!

How was your week?

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Visiting the tulip fields in Washington

Once tulip season begins, I just know it’s only a matter of time before we get to summer in the PNW! It’s seemed like a never-ending winter here (if you haven’t heard, it’s been a year with record setting grey days and rain!) but tulip season reminds me that better (weather) days are just around the corner!

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
This year the tulips bloomed later than last year, so we didn’t head out to the Skagit Valley until the end of April. I looked at the forecast, saw that one Friday in April was supposed to be sunny and lovely, and strongly requested Tim call off of work so we could all drive out to see the tulips together.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Last year I went to the tulip fields when I was 38 weeks pregnant, and this year I was holding Isabelle (at almost one year old!) in my arms in front of the gorgeous scenery! Life is crazy and moves too fast.

Although tulip season is now over in Washington, it’s never too early to start planning for next year so I’m going to leave you with some…

Tips for seeing the tulips (with toddlers):

  • If you’re near to Seattle, go to Roozengaarde in Mount Vernon. In my experience, it’s the best tulip farm in the area. Yes, it will be crowded, but it’s also great for kids because there’s an awesome display of tulips only a few yards inside the entrance, so if your toddler wants to slowly walk around there, you can still get a few good pictures with minimal effort.
  • Bring snacks. I mean, this is basically an all-the-time tip for doing anything with toddlers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having a 1-year-old and 2-year-old is that everything takes way longer than I anticipate. In my mind, seeing flowers will take about 15 minutes – when in actuality the whole event took us all day.
  • Also pack a change of clothes (for the kids). Like the naive and hopelessly optimistic parent I am, I dressed the girls in cute outfits, hoping to get one good picture of them in the tulips. Well, of course, Clara lasted about 10 minutes in her adorable dress before she wiped out in a mud puddle. Did we have a change of clothes for her? Nope! So when we went out to lunch (at Calico Cupboard in La Conner) afterwards, Clara was dressed in Isabelle’s (see-through) tights and a sweatshirt. Obviously, she got quite a few sympathetic looks from strangers at the very-crowded restaurant, because they probably assumed that her parents have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to children and daughters and appropriate attire. Whoops, our bad, sorry kid.
  • Don’t bring a stroller. The same mud that Clara slipped in makes it impossible to use a stroller in the fields. Bring carriers to wear if your kiddos are small enough, otherwise they’ll have to walk as far as you can get them to go before the meltdowns happen.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

If seeing the tulip fields isn’t on your bucket list (whether or not you live in the Netherlands or the PNW), add it! Seeing the fields is truly an amazing sight and I can’t wait for it to be an annual tradition for our family.

But seriously, make sure everyone has a spare change of clothes.

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To Isabelle on her birthday

I’m pretty sure I have a baby book for Isabelle, but honestly, I have no clue where it is. Clara has a baby book, but she was the first child and that pretty much explains it all.  The first child has a baby book (with pictures!), the second child has a book but I don’t know where it is, and if we ever have a third kid I can guarantee there will be no book at all.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the formatting in baby books, anyways. I’m more of a free-form type of gal. So, this past year I started jotting down little notes to the girls every few months. I keep them all in a file on my computer and maybe someday I’ll do something with them, or maybe not. I guess it all depends on whether I continue to be an underachiever in the memory keeping department. Sigh.

In any case, I thought I would share the letter I wrote to Isabelle last week, so here it is!

Isabelle at One Year Old!

To Isabelle on her first birthday:

To my one year old! ONE YEAR OLD.

Isabelle. Belle. Belly. Busy Izzy. We haven’t settled on a nickname for you just yet. We’re still figuring out which name best fits your seemingly every-changing personality. I know you’re a year old, but you’re still very much my baby. And you always will be, whether you like it or not!

In terms of big milestones, we’re still waiting for you to take your first steps. You don’t walk yet, and to be honest, you don’t seem like you’re going to start anytime soon. I know you could, but you’re happy crawling to wherever you need to go. You have lots of teeth. You still love nursing (but I’m going to wean you off during the day soon), and you’re over 20 lbs of pure joy and adorable chunky leg rolls. You love clapping your hands, trying to talk, blowing ‘raspberries’, swinging on swings at the park, and playing with your sisters’ toys.

Speaking of Clara, you love your sister. There is no one who can make you smile the way she can and I hope that never changes. Your whole face lights up when your daddy gets home from work, and you’ve started saying ‘dada’ (or something that sounds like it) when he comes through the door. Ozzie might be your favorite member of the family, though, and you love feeding him all of your food, much to my frustration! But, even though you smile when you see any family member, you’re completely a mama’s girl. I am still the best at comforting you and knowing what you want.

You love eating everything and anything. You hate being hot. And by ‘being hot’ I mean that you hate any temperature over 65 degrees. (It’s a good thing we live in Seattle!) You have always been our sensitive and challenging (in some ways) child. You know what you like and you know what you don’t like, and you make sure we know it, too!

Your dad and I love hearing you laugh. We love watching you ‘read’ books. We are amazed that you already know how to feed your baby dolls their bottles. You love wearing shoes and try to put them on yourself. You love ‘sharing’ with other people and will hand anything to anyone. You love strangers and familiar people equally and will crawl up to anyone to be held or cuddled. You have no separation anxiety (yet). You have always been my snuggly baby. I know I shouldn’t compare you to your sister, but you’re so much like her. You are a climber and you are fearless. You take every babyproofing effort on our part as a challenge. Take the baby gate that we have installed at the top of the stairs, for example. You are always, ALWAYS trying to go under it to get down those stairs. The problem is, of course, that I’m not sure you know how to go down a flight of stairs, so I can’t see this adventure of yours ending well.

I know how much you’re going to change by your next birthday, and I’m already sad that at this time in 2018 you’ll be a full toddler and won’t seem like a baby at all. That being said, I can’t wait to see how your personality continues to develop! The world is a better place with you in it, my love.

Happy Birthday, sweetest.

— Mommy


Posted in isabelle rose, motherhood | Tagged | 4 Comments

Potty Training A Two Year Old

*Warning: This post is all about potty training and has words like ‘pee’ and ‘poop’ in it, which I personally never thought I’d blog about, but here I am, all mom-like, blogging about bodily functions. Sigh.*

How To Potty Train A 2 Year Old

Potty Training a 2 Year Old - How we did it!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that Clara stopped using diapers quite a while ago – at around 20 months old. (Insert all of the emojis here. They all apply.)

I wanted to write this post over a year ago, but when I would tell other parents that we were potty training a two year old, I got a lot of ‘why are you trying to potty train her so early?’ type responses, so I kind of held off on talking/writing about it until we got completely through it.

First and foremost: We did not necessarily decide to potty train Clara, she decided she wanted to use the potty and we simply made that option available to her. Although, chocolate chips helped sweeten the deal (pun intended). I just want to get that notion out of the way because I get rather defensive when people imply that we forced potty training on a too-young child.

It all started when Clara was around 17 months old, as she had a HUGE interest in bathroom time. She insisted on going to the bathroom with Tim and I and wanted to know EXACTLY what we were doing on the potty. She loved ‘announcing’ what we were doing, which is why I avoided taking her into public restrooms. She wanted to wipe like we did and wash her hands like we did and she started hating diaper changes in general. So after a month of this increased level of interest, we decided to buy her a toddler potty so that she could sit on her potty while we sat on ours.

The first day we got the toddler potty she sat on it and read books, and then stood up and pooped on the floor, right next to the potty. So I just told her that we go poop and pee IN the potty, and after that she used it randomly throughout the day, usually when either Tim or I were in the bathroom. We still had her in diapers all day, but we would ask if she wanted to sit on the potty and she usually enjoyed doing it. And the thing is, she always understood exactly what she was supposed to be doing on the potty. Even if she didn’t need to go to the bathroom, she would sit on her potty and try.

So, a few months later (when she was 20 months old) after too many weeks of being very random about her using the potty, I decided that we needed to either be consistent one way or the other – as I felt like it was confusing her to sometimes use the potty but still be wearing a diaper.

Taking everything into consideration and following Clara’s lead, we purchased a second toddler potty, put it in the middle of our family room, and told Clara that she wasn’t going to wear diapers at home anymore.

And that was that. Seriously!

At first we put her in pull-ups occasionally, mainly when we were going to a place where I really didn’t want her to pee on the floor. Today we still put her in pull-ups at bedtime, although (a whole year later) she consistently wakes up from naps dry, so we aren’t doing pull-ups during the day at all, which is encouraging.

When Clara first started ‘potty training’ we didn’t (usually) ask her if she had to use the potty unless we were leaving the house, she just knew she was supposed to use it. (I know that some advice says to put them on the potty every 10 minutes or something like that… but ain’t nobody in that house got time for that. Meaning that I was hugely pregnant and moving from the couch every 10 minutes or frequently waddling over to a public bathroom from the playground seemed near impossible.) Clara would get very excited about going to the potty and liked to announce what she was doing, but it was not a big production and I wasn’t actually that involved. The most annoying part of the entire ordeal (for me) was cleaning her potty a bijillion times a day because I swear she peed every 15 minutes when she was around two years old!

Obviously I don’t have a ‘how-to’ on potty training, because it was a pretty easy process for us and not necessarily a series of steps that we followed. Our approach was to not ever tell her she had an ‘accident’ or to yell at her or make her feel bad about any part of the experience, but instead to show her how to use the potty so she felt excited and empowered about it and eventually proud of herself for knowing how and for ‘going potty like a grown-up.’

How To Potty Train A 2 Year Old

She looks like such a baby in this photo! This is her taking ‘Baby Stella’ to the potty.

To sum it up, here are some tips that worked for us:

+ Don’t be shy. I love my alone time in the bathroom as much as any mom trying to cling to her last shred of sanity, but toddlers want to be like us, so the more they see us doing something, the more likely they are to want to do it themselves.

+ Buy multiple toddler potties. Put one in the bathroom, one in the family room / playroom / wherever you spend most of your day (gross, I know, but necessary unless you want to be running to the bathroom with a peeing toddler), and one in the trunk of your car.

+ Seriously. Keep a potty in the car. With some wipes and hand sanitizer. It has been a lifesaver for us! When we’re in the car and Clara says she has to go potty we just pull right over wherever we are and put her in the trunk to go to the bathroom. We’ve done this on side roads in the country and on the side of busy expressways and in the parking lots of stores… This also helps when you’re driving to a playground without public restrooms.

+ This is the toddler seat we use on our regular toilet and we love it. I can’t recommend it enough.

+ These are the toddler potties we use.

+ Use bribery. We used two chocolate chips as a reward and she was THRILLED.

+ Keep it light. We also potty train Clara’s babydolls, because she loves playing with them so much. They would sit on the potty sometimes, too, and we would praise them and talk about how they’re getting to be such big girls/boys… etc. Clara loved encouraging her doll babies! The only caveat is make sure the dolls only go in CLEAN TODDLER potties. We’ve had some close calls and near drownings of dolls in the regular potty.

+ Be encouraging and try not to get upset with ‘accidents’. Also, I think I read somewhere not to use the word ‘accidents’ because it implies they did something wrong. We just would say something like “Oh, did you pee on the floor? Pee goes in the potty! Next time let’s use your big girl potty.” (This is easier said than done because sometimes it’s so frustrating.)

+ Keep ’em naked those first few days so you aren’t rushing to remove their clothing. If you have a girl, dresses can be way easier than pants.

+ Know that it can be a verrrrry long process. This is not a 3 day ordeal, I don’t care what any ‘potty training boot camp’ guide says.

I think our experience was way, way easier than a lot of people’s because Clara never had to learn to ‘release’ on the potty – she always understood that her potty was for peeing and pooping and has always been motivated to use it. Soooo I have no tips on that particular aspect.

Although, a note on potty training in general… Clara goes through phases where she seems to regress for a week or so. As in, just the other month she decided she wanted to pee in the backseat of the car, for no apparent reason. And for a few days straight she constantly peed in her pants at home. CONSTANTLY. And she was quite happy about it. But then, like everything seems to with kids, the phase passed and we were right back to having a potty trained toddler. It can feel like a never-ending process, though.

And my last note. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking “I can’t believe this woman is saying potty training wasn’t that bad! Just wait, her second kid won’t be potty trained until she’s 17!” Trust me, I’m thinking that exact same thing. It can’t be easy for both kids, right?! I know that most milestone stuff has way more to do with the kids’ temperament than anything their parents do, so what works for me and Clara may not work for you and your kid, and may not even work for me and Isabelle! Fingers crossed that this particular lightening strikes twice in the same spot, though.

When was your child potty-trained? Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be?

Posted in clara jane, intentional parenting, motherhood | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The importance of getting away

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that this past weekend I escaped fled traveled to the mountains with about 200 women from my church for our annual women’s retreat.

The retreat was held in Leavenworth, WA, and the scenery alone made the trip worth it.

The Importance of Getting Away (a weekend in Leavenworth, WA)

Other highlights of my weekend included:

  • Becoming better friends with the ladies I shared a room with. There was laughter and story sharing and encouragement… it’s always nice to send time with wonderful people.
  • Eating dinner without needing to share bites of food with little people who just throw it on the floor. And also being able to eat at ‘fancier’ places and not needing to rush out after an hour due to both kids starting to meltdown. (My favorite dinner places were South and Visconti’s)
  • Listening to awesome speakers and testimonies and being reminded of God’s tender love for each one of us.
  • Meeting women from my community in small group settings or on mountain trails or over breakfast and lunch. I love meeting new people who I might not normally run into!
  • The views at breakfast and lunch. I can’t even describe what it was like to eat in a window-lined room with mountains surrounding us… it was gorgeous and restful.
  • Sleeping alone. No husband. No kids. No dog… I had a bed all to myself! Of course I still only slept from about 12am-6am, but it was consecutive sleep!

The Importance of Getting Away (a weekend in Leavenworth, WA)

  • Shopping in Leavenworth. There are such cute boutiques in town!
  • Hiking Icicle Ridge. We had 6 hours of free time on Saturday afternoon and I joined a few ladies to hike about 3 miles up a mountain and 3 miles back down. I love being in nature and feeling so small – it really helps me gain perspective and appreciate God’s creation!

I think that about sums it up! I had a great experience at the retreat.

The Importance of Getting Away (a weekend in Leavenworth, WA)

And I so needed the break. This was my first time away from Clara for more than nine hours in over 18 months and my first time away from Isabelle for that amount of time ever. We leave the girls with babysitters frequently, and I go out with girlfriends fairly often, but we’ve never done an overnight trip without the girls (because we don’t have anyone to watch them) so the only time I’ve been away is to go to conferences/retreats.

It was nice to pack suitcases for just myself and to take a car trip without worrying about crying or whining or diaper changes. It was really nice to have adult conversations (even if we mostly talked about our kids!) and to have a little peace to focus on what God is saying in my life right now.

The Importance of Getting Away (a weekend in Leavenworth, WA)

It seems so obvious, but moms need that time to recharge and reset. Motherhood can be isolating and boring and monotonous. It can be stressful and draining. All too frequently I can forget to do basic things such as eating and showering because I’m focusing on other people’s needs instead of my own (what a cliche, right?!) so it’s nice to get away for a bit and only focus on myself.

I won’t say I came back refreshed, because I probably needed a few extra days for that to happen, if I’m being honest. But I did come back re-energized to be with my little ladies. I had more patience for bedtime shenanigans and to read stories 18 times in a row.

The Importance of Getting Away (a weekend in Leavenworth, WA)

For me, it’s so, so important to get time away so I appreciate my time at home more. Whether it’s drinks with friends or volunteering or having a date night or even spending a whole weekend at a church retreat, time away from home is vital to my well-being – both mentally and physically.

I would encourage all moms (but especially SAHMs) to regularly plan some time away from their littles. It can be hard to remember to plan outings because the days get long and sometimes it’s easier to stay home at night or on the weekends to do things around the house. I get that. I also fall into the trap of only going out when I’m invited by someone else, but I’m working on changing this because I realize how much better I feel when I spend some time doing what I truly want to do as an individual, and not the mom version of myself.

Do you regularly make time for yourself outside of your ‘normal’ routine?

Posted in adventuring, travel, weekend fun | Tagged , , | 15 Comments