Not quite wordless, but it's been awhile so here are some pictures to remind you what we look like. Audrey is small for her age, but not compared to Clara - she is gaining, and sometimes they look almost like they could be twins.
Clara's first drawing of people - as far as I know.
They like to have 'ballet recitals' for us to watch. They don't take ballet, in case you were wondering...
We decorated marshmallows instead of eggs at Easter.
Learning about ancient Egypt in preschool - the flexibility and freedom of homeschooling. :)
Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Obviously blogging has taken a very long backseat drive in my life, and although I can't speak at all to whether or not my blogging will pick up again in 2015 - here are a few notes and thoughts about 2014.
I hope you have all had a great year, and that this letter finds you healthy and happy. Our year had moments of stress and sadness, but as a whole it was a wonderful year of growth for all of us. Here are just a few highlights from our 2014 year:
At the end of 2013, Brian started his own business, and 2014 was his first full year working for himself. He works in his downstairs office, and joins us for lunches and has a 15 second commute. Occasionally, I've called him asking for help to get the kids in the car or when I've been sick he has taken an hour or two (because that's all it is when you have no commute) off so that I could have a nap. The girls have been really good about knowing that 'Daddy is working', and they don't interrupt him very much at all. Sometimes he leaves his office door open, and they are free to stop in and say 'Hi', which both Brian and the girls enjoy, but they don't take advantage, and they know that when he closes the door, not to disturb. It's been a learning experience for both of us - and it will continue to be, as we learn how to budget for vacations and medical expenses in 2015.
We bought our first 'SUV', a Ford Flex - which, after driving for, nearly a year I wonder how we ever managed with a smaller vehicle. We now have room to offer rides to other people (our Cobalt couldn't even fit one person in the backseat between the carseats), and can transport our own Christmas gifts back home from our parents' houses!!
In early February, Audrey started walking! This year she has gone from baby to little girl so quickly - she turned 2 on October 26th, and because she has an older sister to emulate and because she has a calmer nature and longer attention span than Clara, she seems more like Clara did at 3. I wanted our girls to be close in age, and watching them happily playing together with the same sets of toys, I'm so glad they are!
In March, Brian and I officially decided that we would be homeschooling our children. So far, I have not been as organized as I would have liked. I began in September with the Pre-K curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler that goes through the Alphabet one letter a week. I should be on L or M, but I'm a few weeks behind at I or J... I can't actually remember, we sort of fell behind in December. I like many of the activities in the downloaded curriculum, and it has already been well worth the $15 I spent on it, but I've learned some things about Clara and how she and I work together that might make me choose other options in the future. This February, Brian and I will attend a Homeschool Convention in our province, and I hope to gather more information on curriculums and ideas for schooling Clara. I'm excited to continue with her, as she and I both learn more about ourselves and about how to work together. I've also tentatively decided to continue schooling her through the summer, because - well - why not?
In Spring, we spent a number of days at my Grandparents' house getting ready for the auction sale they had in June. This was a challenging time for all of us - my Grandpa struggled to get rid of all of the things he had spent the last 80 years accumulating, and his family was frustrated by his hoarding personality - knowing that he could not keep all of these things as my Grandparents were planning to move soon to a condo where there would be much less room than they were used to. It was a continual struggle, that made me miss my Dad terribly - as the oldest son, he would have had a big hand in helping with this project, and we all felt his absence very strongly.
August was a busy month for us, looking back at everything. My friend and I took our kids camping without Dads, and it was a totally new experience for me to be the 'grown up' of my family - and be solely responsible for myself and my kids. I've taken for granted that in my life I moved from my parents' house into my husband's, and I've always been 'taken care of' by someone else in that way. It was a lot of fun, though, and I hope we can do it again! We also went on a trip to a family wedding in Alberta, visited with family and friends, and went to Banff for a day - the girls first experience seeing the mountains!
We moved Audrey into a 'big girl bed' in August as well, and shortly after attempted to potty train her. You can read about the start of our attempt, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 - the day we gave up and decided to try again sometime in 2015.
In September, I started homeschooling Clara. My goal was to work on her Preschool curriculum 3 days each week, and although I started out doing alright with this, I fell apart by December. I also began teaching piano two days a week in September, and I have been babysitting 2 days a week as well, and I have realized that in order to really focus on homeschooling, I need to slow down my schedule. The babysitting I have been doing has been wonderful - the two little girls I watch are the same ages as my girls, and they are all very much best friends, but I have been very overwhelmed with how much extra work it is to have 4 kids under the age of 4 running around. Although they have been getting somewhat easier, and I have found a few tricks for homeschooling with the extra girls around, I only have a few more months of 2 full days each week, and after that I will have them for only a partial day each week. I'm looking forward to devoting a bit more time to homeschool after that, and my three month break from teaching piano over summer will give me a chance to devote some extra time to Clara as well. This is part of why I have chosen to continue schooling through the summer as well. Homeschooling has taught me a lot about myself - and about Clara - and although my own motivation hasn't been the greatest, I am really encouraged by how much she is already learning, and I'm excited to continue.
We had begun meeting with another group of Homeschooling families with young children, but I bowed out of the group when I realized how much I was being affected by an over-full schedule. I loved meeting with the group, and getting to know the other Moms, but there will be other opportunities for this sort of thing in the future, and I decided that for now I should focus on just 'getting going'.
At the end of October, we said goodbye to my Grandpa who died after a long battle with Asbestosis. The doctors had given him only a few days to live in August of 2013, and he proved them all wrong by living - at home with only occasional home care - for another year. We were so glad to have been able to have the additional year with him, and we are confident that he is now in Heaven fellowshipping with his God, and although we miss him, we wouldn't wish him back for his sake.
Clara turned 4 this December, and I can hardly believe how BIG she is getting! She behaves like a little kid these days, rationalizing things in a way that I remember from when I was a child. It's incredible how much she has changed this year. She is still occasionally difficult, but she is no longer the discipline problem she was a year ago. She is becoming more sensitive to how we treat her - as she becomes more perceptive of our moods and actions. She loves to learn, and truly wants to be reading, but she has an extreme aversion to being told what to do, and so I need to be a bit sneaky in my teaching. When it comes to things like cleaning up her toys, however, I have been explaining to her that although she doesn't like to do it when she's told to, it is one of the things in life we just need to do, and she's getting better at understanding that kind of thing.
This blog post may be evidence to why my blog has fallen apart lately - I wrote it over an afternoon filled with constant interruptions, and so I apologize if my writing is disjointed and confusing. I just wanted to get it out and start the year with something!
Homeschooling is very new to me - I would have said flat out 'no way' just a few short years ago - and I'm a bit of a keener, so despite the fact that it will be 2-3 years before I need to even register as a homeschooler in my province, I'm making things official by going to conventions, ordering (and sometimes using) curriculum and the latest - joining a Homeschool Co-operative.
I fell into this co-op kind of accidentally, when a friend was seeking out children who were the same age as her early homeschooler to arrange activities and field trips with. A sort of 'classroom' if you will of children who have the opportunity to get to know each other by meeting regularly and learning together. Her stated age range was 5-8 (early homeschoolers), and since my girls are only 2 (since yesterday!) and not-yet-4, I feel a bit like a weaseled my way in. My friend, however, also has children who are exactly my daughters' ages as well as one who is younger, so I knew they would not be out of place. After our first meeting, I was happy to learn that there were many more children within the group who fell into my daughters' age group, and so our group will be sensitive to their ages, as well as occasionally planning events and activities that divide the babies and toddlers from the older children. Having a large group of Moms with the same stated goal gives us a lot of people to rotate teaching, planning, and even occasionally babysitting the little ones.
For our first event with all the kiddo's, we planned to meet at the local zoo. There is a large playground just outside the gates, where we let the kids run for the hour before the zoo opened for the day, and then we all packed up the kids and toured the zoo together.
Clara had an odd and unfortunate incident as we were walking into the zoo. She was snacking on a rice cake (which she has had many times) and her face did this:
I have no idea. That rice cake was passed between Clara and Audrey, fell in the wagon they were riding in and was probably held by various mittens before her face did this, so I expect it was something the rice cake picked up outside? Who knows... I'll have to get her allergy tested eventually, I suppose.
Audrey was simply mesmerized by the wolves. She stood there staring until I managed to finally coerce her to keep walking.
One thing I've learned about going to the zoo is that animals are MUCH more active and interesting in cooler weather. We have typically gone on the sunniest days of summer, and have often had trouble finding animals that were sleeping or even hiding. We went in early spring this year, and now in fall, and both times the animals were extremely active. The lynxes were chasing and grooming each other playfully, and both wolves were running around in their pen.
Sadly, I can't say I know many... any?... of the kids in this photo yet, but I think they are all in our group, so I expect I will get to know them well. These kids were suddenly all standing on a giant rock, which seemed like a good photo opportunity...
Ten Moms who each have at least two - typically more - children, makes for a VERY large group of people!
It was a great day, and I was able to learn (and even remember) a few of the Mom's names, and hopefully even some of the kids'. I'm looking forward to seeing friendships develop within the group, and I'm excited to be a part of the events and activities over the year!
Audrey's birthday is technically tomorrow, and conveniently, it fell on a weekend - to fit in everyone we wanted to invite (friends and family), we split the parties into two days. We had a bunch of toddlers and their families over for a party today, and tomorrow (on her actually birthday) the family is coming over to celebrate!
So without a lot of time to give details, between cleaning the house from one party for the next and needing to go decorate the cupcakes for tomorrow, here are a few photos and a quick run-down of the day!
I will suspend judgement on Moms who rent entertainment for their kids' birthdays from now on - after thinking for days about how to entertain 2 year olds while still not boring a 6 year old, I decided to rent a bouncy castle...
After the kids came, we let them all bounce for about an hour before calling them inside for gifts and cake.
A homemade Anna dress... pretty much the star of the show. Clara 'borrowed' it for most of the rest of the day... She doesn't know there's already a homemade Elsa dress waiting for her to wear on Halloween...
Audrey was a bit slow - her big sister(s) Clara and the 3-year-old I babysat became very involved in helping her open gifts...
This wasn't the cake I'd planned - it would have been much more elaborate had the fondant worked out properly - but it looked ok.
I forgot to take pictures of all the owl decorations - Audrey loves owls - but here are the treat bags that all the kids (except Audrey) took home. Clara got one, though, and she shared all of the treats with her little sister. I love how well they get along sometimes.
Clara had a difficult time with all 11 kids romping around in the bouncy castle, and although she really wanted to enjoy her time in it, she kept coming out in tears because someone had 'bumped into' her. She knew that was par for the course in the castle, so she kept going back in, but I think my introverted oldest just couldn't quite get comfortable. So, after everyone had left, when we still had another hour with the castle before it had to be taken down - we went in again, just us girls while Daddy started raking leaves.
She was yelling "Mooommy!!"
I tried to get the girls to sit together and smile at me. This was the closest I got.
Then, after watching the workers come deflate and roll up the bouncy castle, we all went to the front yard to 'help' Daddy with the raking. It's bizarelly warm for this late in August, and we were witness to a gorgeous sunset. Then we came inside and had chips for supper and watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful evening.
A happy second Birthday (part 1) for Audrey!
Here's a post I started writing in July, it appears - and although it's horribly out of date by now, it's not irrelevant, and so I will post it anyway.
July 20, 2014
Obviously blogging isn't high on my priority list this summer - which isn't a huge surprise since I tend to do things in seasons, but it's a bit disappointed because not only have I not been blogging, but Audrey and Clara are both changing so much and neither of their 'baby' books have been updated in probably over 6 months and because our only camera at the moment is a clunky DSLR, we have also been taking only minimal photos. My girls' life of late has been sadly un-documented.
But so much has been going on! This past June, my Grandparents held an Auction sale in preparation to move to a condo soon. For my Grandma, it was a happy time of decluttering her yard and home, but my Grandpa saw almost all of his prized posessions sold. My Grandpa loved to collect things, and like many antique collectors, he occasionally 'shopped' at the local junk yard. One antique truck that he found in the junk yard sold at his auction for over $300! It was mostly a sad day, knowing that so much of Grandpa's enjoyment came from all of these things.
The horse in the photo above had been sitting in my Grandparents basement for years, and being the overprotective Mama I am, I kept my daughters away from it. (They could get pinched in the springs!!! And it's so old, you never know what might all of a sudden fall apart!) I was overruled, however, and not only were my daughters permitted to play on it at the sale - but my in-laws bought it and now it is at their home for the girls to play with for years to come.
No bitterness, though - I'm over it, really. On closer inspection, and after re-analyzing my position, I had to concede that the horse did not pose the dangers I thought it might and although there is always the finger-pinching, or falling-off risks, they aren't that serious and the enjoyment of the toy far outweighs those risks.
Here's our paddling pool, we got it from some friends who were moving and since their kids are all in high school they didn't feel the need to take this with them. It's been awesome for our girls.
For the first few times we filled it up, I got the girls all ready for 'pool time' in their bathing suits and everything, but since the weather has been so nice lately, and every outdoor playtime has involved getting into the pool, we've been keeping a few inches of water in it all the time now and just expect to have to change Audrey before she comes into the house. I'll still bathing-suit them up occasionally, but they don't seem to care either way...It gets a little frustrating when we're heading to the car and Audrey wanders off and is suddenly soaked from the armpits down and we have to haul her back inside to clean her up and change her, but this pool has been so worth the entertainment this summer.
I'm afraid to write this, because I know how polarizing this particular debate is, but part of the purpose of this blog is to document our life to my children, and that includes - occasionally - telling them how I feel about things...
When it comes to debates about abortion, my initial feeling is flat out confusion. I truly don't understand.
I came across an info graphic on Facebook about a week ago that offended me deeply - and I'm not often offended. My looming menstruation was probably partially to blame for the fact that I found myself wanting to curl up into fetal position and cry for a week, but the feeling was real, and it really hurt.
The graphic uses drowning as a metaphor for unwanted pregnancy. It facetiously stated that because being in water can lead to drowning, no safety devices should be permitted in the water, because everyone should know that water can lead to drowning and the only 100% effective way to keep from drowning is to stay out of the water. It was snarkily poking at those who oppose birth control.
Reading the graphic initially made my stomach sort of churn. I saw the parallel, even found myself being slightly - yet uncomfortably - swayed by the clever seeming presentation.
Until I saw this phrase: "You should see DROWNING as a gift."
This phrase stuck in my head - it repeated because I knew there was something very, VERY wrong with it, but I couldn't quite place why it made me want to vomit. Shortly after this, I was trying to think of a different example for this parallel - a situation in which this statement would not be mockable, because simply putting one word in place of another to prove that the original statement is ridiculous is really not a valid style of argument. There must be SOMETHING that could make this statement always, always true. Winning the lottery. Living in peace. Having parents and family who love you. Wait - A CHILD!!! Just because the statement above is ludicrous, does NOT make the statement 'Babies are gifts', 'Family is a gift', 'Love is a gift', etc. equally ludicrous. It got me for a second - and everyone who agrees with the point of the infographic probably bought it as genius, but it really isn't. It's actually stupid enough for me to wonder if the graphic might possibly be against the argument it seems to be representing... but anyway...
The infographic was subtly saying that being encumbered by an unwanted child is comparable to drowning. Baby = death.
I was an unwanted child. My mother considered aborting me - and I don't blame her for this consideration because I understand that she was not ready for the complication I caused her. I understand, but that doesn't mean abortion would have been the right thing to do. I can understand a lot of poor choices, but having compassion on a person's situation does not make those poor choices 'right'. Experiencing the frustration of a crying baby for nights on end made me understand how some mothers might be tempted to shake their babies - but it doesn't make it ok.
It hit me that the world really seems to believe that because I was not wanted - my life is somehow not valuable. That my mother may as well have died as carried me to my birth. Like I said earlier, I blame my emotional pre-menstrual state, but this struck me to tears. It struck me because I have friends who believe this. Members of my own family believe this.
But the frustrating thing is, they would probably refuse to draw this parallel. This is where I don't understand.
They wouldn't mean ME. They might say that if I had been aborted, no one would have known any different, so it somehow wouldn't have mattered. This is true, but that doesn't mean that the implication and bold statement that life might have somehow been better without me doesn't hurt. It does. It hurts a lot. And even if my mother's life would have been drastically improved by my non-existance, would that really justify my death?
I didn't like the idea of abortion for personal reasons for years before I became pregnant with my first child, but I had reservations. Pregnancy locked it for me. I learned the science behind an infant's development. I learned when a fetus develops major organs, loses a tail :) and begins to hear sounds outside a mothers' body. I learned about how distinctly HUMAN a baby is from the first things we know about their development. Then, when I had my second child, I learned how completely different children are - even months before they are born. There are quirks that I noticed about Audrey's personality within me that were SOOO different than Clara's, and some of these quirks I was blessed to witness when she emerged. Funny little body spasms and movements that are just so very HER.
Another thing that struck me remarkably was how bizarre it felt to carry ANOTHER human being inside my body. This was another person - not a part of me. This person was as much a mystery to me as any other person is. I didn't know my child's thoughts, and I couldn't feel my child's physical body. My body fed their little bodies, kept them safe and kept them warm, but that is all. They were not me. If they had died in utero, I might not have known for days. There is no scientific or medical argument that proves that these little beings are actually, physically, part of a woman's body. They aren't.
This is when true confusion set in.
Why are the people who so actively fight against killing these incredible little beings the same people who have a reputation for being the LEAST scientific. Wouldn't the scientific community - more than anyone - be in the best position for realizing just how human we are from the time of conception? Wouldn't they be the ones who would understand that because a child who can survive outside a mothers' body now is drastically younger than a child who could survive in the 1900's, we can't possibly determine an individual life based on their dependency level?
Before I became pregnant I was unsure. I was unsure because I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as teenagers - girls who really didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing, and would now have to face a completely different future. I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as a result of rape, and had to choose whether or not to carry the reminder of their pain, and I had compassion for girls and women who become pregnant and the pregnancy threatens their own lives. I still do have compassion for people in all of these circumstances, and I want to say this completely without judgement - I understand how abortion could seem like the only reasonable option in so many circumstances.
The only reasonable option - as long as we ignore that the 'thing' we are getting rid of is another human being. As long as we don't call it a person, as long as we convince ourselves that it somehow is not yet a human being. So it makes sense that we all believe the lie that a fetus is not a person, because if we didn't, we would all have to admit that it was murder, and the debate would be much more complicated.
If I see our world as a place where people increasingly tell each other that life is about enjoyment - it's about having fun, and taking it easy - it makes sense. We really don't want to have to deal with consequences, and we feel as though it is our right to not have to face consequences wherever possible. When those we love become deathly sick, we blame doctors for not doing their job properly, we angrily claim the right to life - but in many cases doctors don't have nearly as much power as we give them. When people around us die as the result of a tragic accident, there is no avoiding the consequence - a life without that person. We can plead if we wish - "it was only an accident!", "I didn't know this would happen!", "I'm only a child!" - but we can't reverse death.
I see a world where many, many people experience pain and horror beyond what most of us want to admit. Even in our 'peaceful' western culture, there are people watching their family members die in horrific ways everywhere - if you haven't, you probably know someone who has. We avoid pain wherever possible, and although I know an abortion must come with some level of pain - the idea behind it is that it results in less pain than a pregnancy. I won't even speak to whether or not that is true, but I don't believe that life is all about the 'pursuit of happiness' or comfort - especially not when another human being is at stake. So many people never experience physical comfort, wealth or even financial stability, peace... why do we so completely convince ourselves that we must be different?
"Life is pain, Highness - anyone who says differently is selling something" The Dread Pirate Roberts
Earlier this year, I wrote a post, detailing how I came to the decision to homeschool my children. I won't go into all of that again, but I do want to say a little bit about my decision to begin now instead of waiting until Clara is older, and a little about my chosen curriculum.
In regards to starting now, my parenting has gotten lazy, and I know that if in choosing to homeschool, I am choosing to be quite the opposite of a lazy parent. I will need to be able to discipline myself (and my children) to stick to a schedule - even if loosely - and get things done. I could give myself the next two years to be lazy and start discipling myself THEN, but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out how that will probably go... So, I decided to start the process now to get us all used to the routine. I also have a tendency to get impatient to start things I've decided to do, and get a bit over excited.
Also, both Brian and I were early readers. By the time we both walked into the doors at kindergarten, we were reading books. I had an alphabet poster on my bedroom wall, and my Dad would routinely go through the alphabet with me, asking me what the letters were and what each letter said. I've heard it said that the most important thing is to read to your children - and I don't disagree - but my Dad had dyslexia, so he didn't read to me often and as soon as possible encouraged me to read to him. I spent a lot of time with my Grandma, and I remember being read to, but I think for me, it had more to do with the active teaching on the part of my Dad.
Brian was given one of those 1980's learning computers, and used this to teach himself how to read. Neither of us recall being read to as much as we both enjoy reading now, and neither of us recall seeing our parents read for their own enjoyment. Yet, both of us now read for enjoyment as much as we possibly can.
If Clara and Audrey inherit the desire/willingness/capacity to learn how to read at the age of 4 (like we did), I want to make sure that I've created a learning environment in which reading is encouraged and that both girls have every opportunity to learn as early as possible. Will I push it? No. But if they want to read, I want to know I've made that possible.
I came across this Letter of the Week curriculum on Confessions of a Homeschooler and absolutely loved it! Sometimes I decide to do a ton of research, compare different options - and I'm sure there are a lot of great options out there, but there were a number of things I loved about this curriculum, and so I jumped on it. We started at the beginning of September with 'Letter A', and just this past week finished with 'Letter D'. After the first two weeks, I learned a few things about my oldest daughter.
One, is that she responds best to one-on-one attention from me. She has a tendancy to become a bit of a 'class clown' among other kids, and for this reason I think homeschooling will be really good for her. This has posed a challenge recently, because I have been babysitting quite a bit, and now I have learned that although I can make it work with other children here - in the future, I need to plan to homeschool with Clara during times when other children (except her sister, obviously) are not around.
Another thing I have learned is that Clara is more intrigued by a pencil and workbook than she is by colourful games and activities. She loves to paint and puzzle, certainly, but the 'Letter of the Week' curriculum contains a lot of colourful printables for playing various teaching games - and I highly recommend all of them - but for Clara, I've discovered that picking out the 'workbook' style printables is what works best for us. In the future, I will look for curriculums and workbooks with pages of pencil activities. We have also been using Kumon books on the side, and Clara loves these as well. She got through an entire Tracing book for ages 2-4 in less than an hour while sitting at the table one day. When I bought the books, I thought we would do 2-4 pages each day, but she killed this book all at once! I'll be looking for more activities like this, and probably buying more copies of these Kumon books in the future as well.
I try to encorporate playing with sensory toys like sand and playdough as much as possible, as well as craft projects weekly. I'm not very good at these things, because I tend to feel like they will be a lot more work than they end up being. More practice will help - I will get better! It also gets easier as the girls get older.
So far our schedule has not been as strict as I had planned from the start. We have done 2-3 hours of school each week, on Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays - usually in the morning, but not always. Since it is her preschool year, I have decided not to worry too much about schedule - this is a baby step, and we ARE doing more than we were before. Also, I realized this past week that Clara is learning her alphabet. I can thank Leap Frog videos for a lot of this, I'm sure, but she knows (easily) the letters A-D, and can tell me what each of them 'says'. She also (surprisingly, to me) can recognize the lower case letters a-d, which I hadn't actively been teaching her, although they have been part of our curriculum in the graphics and colouring pages.
So far, I'd have to say homeschooling is a great success!
This post is delayed, because it's been hard for me to write. Last week Friday, I woke up with the determination to give Audrey one more day. So many encouraging sentiments on Facebook kept me going and hopeful, although still apprehensive. I knew that in so many ways, Audrey was READY to do this - she could hold her pee for long periods of time, she frequently woke up dry in the morning, and she is stubborn and determined to do everything 'by self'. I even struggled to get her to allow me to help her get herself up on the toilet - she didn't want help. She is so independent and determined in so many areas.
Peeing in the toilet, though? She wouldn't do it.
Anyway, here is basically how our 'Day 4' went:
I hired a babysitter for the day because I was scheduled to babysit my friends' daughters, and I wanted to be able to spend the day entirely one-on-one with Audrey, so the babysitter came and did her best to keep all three girls entertained while I spent my day next to Audrey.
8:10am - Audrey wakes up in a dry bed, but refuses to pee in the toilet. We keep trying, but she doesn't really even try.
9:30am - I notice a small wet spot on her panties and take her immediately to the toilet. She pees!!! I was so excited, I probably did a happy dance. I was hopeful for the rest of the day.
10:45am - Huge accident on the living room floor. She doesn't hold back - just lets it all out.
11:30am - Audrey decides she wants to have a bath, and I don't really want her to have the opportunity to pee in the water where I can't really see it, but I like the idea of containing a mess. I fill the tub with shaving cream and cover it in glitter. She's not overly impressed, but after awhile she plays in it a bit. Eventually - to clean both her and the tub - I fill the tub with water and she has a short bath.
At one point during the bath, I think I understand her telling me that she has to go pee. I pick her up and put her on the toilet, and hear water dribbling. I get excited - thinking she's peed, and congratulate her and give her chocolate while she's still on the toilet - but when I pick her up, the water is perfectly clear and so I wonder if she really peed, or if I was just hearing the bath water trickling off her and into the toilet. I guess I'll never know. I may have just confused her completely...
12:30pm - She says she has to pee, sits on the potty, but does nothing.
12:40pm - Giant puddle in the living room. She doesn't seem concerned at all about holding it in, and only the last bit lands in the toilet - because I've picked her up and put her there.
This is where I stopped tracking - I had given up on panties at some point, and for a few minutes in the afternoon we went out to the backyard to say goodbye to the other girls who were heading off to the park. Audrey was disappointed about not going, and so I tried to explain to her that she needed to learn to pee in the potty first. A few minutes later - she lets out a big pee on the cement next to her playhouse. Again, she doesn't even seem to be trying to hold it in.
I'm pretty much a nervous wreck, panicking about the weekend, and trying to decide the pros and cons of giving up, keeping on as we were, or finding some middle ground like continuing at home and putting her in diapers to go out (so we could go on with life!). Brian came upstairs at around 2:30, and after a short discussion, we both agree that the best plan - for now - is to give up entirely and try again later.
It took me a number of hours to get over my failure, and I was really reluctant to admit this to anyone for awhile, but now I'm glad for the decision, and I've had to change my outlook on a few things.
This girl is wearing shorts - because she's in a diaper - and she's doing a happy dance.
Firstly, I was reminded that Clara and Audrey are not the same. When we tackled this with Clara, she was younger than Audrey is now - Clara was under 22 months. Clara was completely on board from the start, and from Day 1, she personally refused to put on another diaper ever again. Audrey hasn't seemed interested one way or another in this whole diaper/panties situation. She likes to do what her sister is doing, but she obviously didn't enjoy peeing on the toilet, and it didn't offend her to be put back in a diaper. In fact, she seemed happy to do it. We chose our timing with both girls for the same reasons - in both girls' cases, something was coming up on the calendar that would make it nearly impossible to put the time into training until quite a few months into the future - and so we chose to get training done first. In Clara's case, Audrey was due in a few weeks, and in Audrey's case, Piano and homeschooling was about to begin, and I knew (and still know) that it would be 6 months or more before we could devote any time to this again. When I planned the time for Clara, I knew she would want to do it soon, and that waiting for 6 or more months wouldn't work out for her. I thought Audrey would be the same, but now I realize that she'll be fine waiting another 6 months. Or 8 months. Or 12...
I also realized that not potty training Audrey now will not have anything to do with whether or not she becomes a lazy adult. This is a great fear of mine, that I intend to combat with everything I am, but I think I've come to terms with the probability that waiting another 6 months or a year for Audrey to potty train will not have much of an effect on her in the long run. I'm ok with that now.
In general, I've relaxed a bit on some of my parental expectations. I still want to be pretty strict about obedience - I think that's important for so many reasons - but when it comes to milestones, I'm softening. My Dad raised me with the mentality that 'if you're capable of something - you need to acheive that something'. I still agree that if a child seeks to perform a certain task, is capable of excellence in that task, a parent or teacher should be disappointed with anything but excellence from that child. However, that doesn't mean that everything a child is capable of doing is necessarily the right thing for them to do 'right now'.
For Audrey - potty training just isn't the 'right thing' 'right now'.
I intended to end my post right there, but I wanted to add a few notes about the things I learned about both of my girls in this whole process. Things I may have seen glimpses of before, but didn't really know until this week. Things I'm really glad to know.
Without Clara at her side constantly, Audrey has a longer attention span. She has a determination to succeed, and an ability to repeat processes that allows her to systematically complete tasks - like doing up a buckle, or completing a puzzle - over, and over, and over, and over...
Audrey is not socially driven. Although she is intrigued by things that other people do, and even copies actions and words frequently, she doesn't seem to have the desire to impress others that Clara did. Audrey wants to do that thing you're doing - but she doesn't care if you want her to, or what you'll think about her if she does it.
She is desperately concerned about getting approval from us. While we were praising Audrey about peeing in the toilet, Clara wanted the same praise - despite the fact that she has been peeing in the toilet for almost 2 years. She seemed threatened by Audrey's extra attention and although she didn't take it out on Audrey, she seemed completely insecure - I heard her say 'Look what I did, Mommy!' more in those three days than I think I ever had before.
She is deeply connected to her sister. On Friday afternoon, after we had given up - and I released Audrey back into 'normal life' - the girls played, and played, and played. And Clara relaxed, because Audrey was free! Clara stopped demanding my approval, and for a few days Audrey was the only person who mattered. "Come here, Audrey!" "Look at this, Audrey!" "Come play with me, Audrey!". She had her sister back, and all was well.
Potty Training Round 2, Day 3.
This marks the end of the third full day of the '3 Day Potty Training method' that, in our case, will NOT be completed in only 3 days. Maybe not even 4, but we'll see. I almost gave up this afternoon, but I think I'll plug through for a few more days.
My photos today are deceptive - I had a really, really, REALLY bad day. I sent a friend a text message today that said "I think I have never felt as defeated and incompetent as I do today". This is the hardest thing about parenting for me - feeling incompetent - and it hit me hard this afternoon. Anyway, here's the story of today...
I let Audrey sleep in as long as possible today. Yesterday was frustrating for both of us, she had a late evening, and in the middle of the night I went in to check on her and found her soundly sleeping in a soaked bed. I woke her up, cleaned her and changed her bedsheet, blanket and pillow and put her back to bed.
9:15am - Audrey wakes up. I'm in the kitchen and I hear a few noises coming from her room, so I know I'm not quite as on-the-ball with getting her up as I maybe should be, but she's still dry. I take her directly to the potty where she sits down willingly, but does not pee. I get a few suggestions about running water and putting her hand in a bowl of water, which I attempt. She thinks it's funny to play with water while she's on the potty, but it does nothing.
9:35am - she has a large-ish accident on the kitchen floor, but then follows up with nothing in the potty. Accident #1.
11:15am - Big accident on the classroom floor - followed again by nothing on the potty. Before this accident, however, Audrey spends a lot of time 'playing' on and around the potty. She goes and sits on it, immediately claiming to be done, and asks me to read books to her while she's on the potty. She either doesn't want to pee on it, or still doesn't understand that this is what she's supposed to do. She seems to be getting more comfortable just letting it go on the floor, though, because she seems not to be stopping herself partway through anymore. This seems to be a step backwards, in my view.
11:45-12:10 - This time period is a bit of a blur for me. We have so far had no successful pees in the potty, and in close succession she suddenly has 3 large accidents on the downstairs floor. Her pattern seems to be that as soon as I reach for the bottle of vinegar spray to clean up the previous accident (that has been blotted up with a towel), she creates an entirely new puddle.
It was somewhere in this half hour that I broke. The vinegar spray bottle wasn't spraying, and I was completely overwhelmed and feeling like nothing was working. I had until the end of the day, because I had to babysit the next day and this potty training COULD NOT take more than the 3 days allotted. And - as stupid as this seems - I had the voice of a few people who said 'maybe she just isn't ready?' in my head, and I couldn't handle the defeat of admitting that maybe they were right. I didn't really believe they were right - that statement kind of goes against my parenting philosophy... I threw the bottle onto the floor, punched the wall and collapsed in a pile of tears on the floor. Clara kept asking Brian 'Why is Mommy crying?', and Audrey started crying also, saying 'Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!' and tried to climb right into my chest.
Somehow I pull myself together - Brian took Clara upstairs and started making lunch - and Audrey and I stayed downstairs and battled. At first I completely ignored my resolve not to stress her out on the toilet and held her there - crying - for a few minutes, knowing she had to pee but wouldn't. Finally, we both calmed down and went upstairs for lunch.
12:45pm - She has a small accident on the floor, stops herself, and then releases the rest into the potty. A lot of pee lands in the potty. I could have cried with relief. She gets some mini M&M's for this.
1-3pm - Both Audrey and I nap. I'm emotionally exhausted, and I'm feeling it in every muscle of my body, and she's not in a really good space today either, so both of us really need this time.
3:45pm - Poop. In her panties. After she repeatedly told me she didn't have to go pee or poop.
The girls make up their own little game here - they were tossing these little links around the house and Clara was yelling 'Sling Shock!'. Then they'd pick them up and yell and throw them again. I was impressed by this action shot of them... It was pretty funny.
4:30pm - She has a pee accident on her bedroom floor, shortly after this picture was taken. It was around this point that I give up on panties, since it slows me down to have to stop and remove them before putting her on the potty and I want to increase the chances of getting her on the potty before she's done.
4:50pm - I have a brainwave - because I have to pee, I decide to call Audrey in to watch (I figure I'll cheer myself on, and let her hear the pee falling). She stands and watches me intently and as I start peeing - so does she. All over the bathroom floor.
Brian is finished working at 5pm, and just before he comes upstairs, I'm formulating my decision to give up. I have to babysit the next day, the day after the girls were going to hang out all day with Daddy - out of the house - so I could get my piano curriculum and homeschool room all ready to go for the next week. Sunday is the kick off for Sunday School, and there's a pancake breakfast planned - I really don't want to miss that, and then next week everything starts. Homeschooling. Piano. Gymnastics - which I intend to actually enroll Audrey in herself!! I can't enroll a 2-year-old who will pee all over the mats! Regardless of whether or not she is ready, or whether or not she WOULD get it eventually, I'm running out of time.
Then I watch her determinedly climb 'by self' onto the toilet, after stubbornly refusing help. She hates having help doing anything, and I think she's not ready to use a toilet? I also know that our modern trend to wait to potty train really is just that - a modern trend - made possible by disposable diapers and pull-ups. In the early 1900's and previously, almost all children were potty trained at or before Audrey's age, so to say 'she's not ready' is very unlikely to be true. Not to knock anyone who makes the choice to wait to potty train - I'm close to that decision myself - but it won't be because SHE'S not ready. I'm sure she is.
I do realize, however, that there are a number of requirements that the 3-Day-Method lays out that we have not been able to comply with, and maybe that's what is getting in our way. The biggest thing is that I have 2 children, so I really can't spend ALL of my time focusing intently on just Audrey. I'm ignoring Clara enough already as it is, and it's causing all sorts of problems - I'm doing the best I can in our situation. I've also been a bit lazy - because the girls typically keep themselves occupied, I've been letting them lead playtime quite a bit, to keep things as normal as possible. I've also been letting them watch tv to give all of us a chance to just sit. Because this is creating so much laundry, I've also had to leave occasionally to throw in a load, or sort through for clean panties.
It's also possible that because we've been using our entire house - and both bathrooms - that things haven't been consistent enough for her, and that this is confusing her. No idea. It's possible.
5:35pm - Brian has come up from work, and because my decision has wavered, I haven't spoken to him about it yet. Before I can, Audrey has a small accident on the floor - and then finishes up in the potty!!! Maybe she needs Daddy to be around... Anyway, this is accident #10, which still does look better than the last two days, although it's also only success #2 - and I'm being pretty loose with the word 'success'.
6:00pm - She has a small accident in the living room, and then again the rest lands in the potty! More chocolate for Audrey!
6:25pm - During supper, Audrey dribbles a tiny amount on her kitchen chair and then pees a LOT - probably the rest of what is in her - into the potty. The day is looking up, and I'm encouraged.
I sit next to her in the bathroom at one point, encouraging her to enjoy being on and around the potty, and while I'm trying to get her to actually sit on the little potty seat, she gets off it and sits next to me, crossing her feet like mine. Little mimic - she does this kind of thing a lot. She even got up from here and pushed her feet right against the wall like mine.
7:00pm - During playtime with Daddy before bed, Audrey has a surprise pee on the girls' bedroom floor. She seems genuinely stunned, and manages to hit the potty with the remainder. Success number 5 - we now have as many successes as yesterday, and her accident number is only #13 - much lower than yesterday.
7:40pm - Puddle in the hallway after her bath, nothing in the toilet. She was proudly displaying her Monkey jammies to me at the time, and so we remove them - even though the shirt would still have been ok - hopefully to make a point to her.
8:35pm - She gets up from bed asking to pee - sits on the potty for a long time, but doesn't produce anything.
8:50pm - We hear a 'thud' and a moan, and find her standing next to her bed in a puddle of pee. Accident #15.
She's still awake - probably because I decided she needed a nap this afternoon. At 5 successes and 15 accidents, I'm going to sign off here and call today an improvement over the last two days, despite the disappointment and defeat I felt for most of it. I've arranged for help tomorrow while I'm babysitting, and hopefully tomorrow will show definite improvement...
Yesterday I documented our first day of potty training, and explained what we're doing and why... here is a play-by-play of Day 2 in our '3 Day Potty Training' journey.
8:05am - I wake Audrey up and discover that although at first she seems dry, as I walk her to the bathroom I notice a stale pee smell and check her panties again as I'm removing them to put her on the potty. They are damp, and smelly, but I can't tell if they are freshly wet or if she peed awhile ago and they are just drying (grossest thing ever...). I go back to her bed while she's on the toilet and check it over, and change the blanket and sheets, but the mattress is dry and smell-free.
8:15am - I notice a spot on her panties, and take her to the toilet. She sits there for a minute but does nothing.
8:30am - Dribble on the living room floor. Again, when placed on the toilet she does nothing. Clara is becoming increasingly challenging at this point - wanting to be applauded for peeing on the toilet also. Whenever I suggest that Audrey might need to pee, Clara runs to the toilet also 'needing to pee', but then says she 'can't' and 'needs help'. I try to explain things to her, but unfortunately I'm preoccupied by Audrey and don't have as much patience as I know I should with her.
8:40am - Dribble on the living room floor - produces nothing in the potty.
8:50am - I notice another spot on her panties, but when I take her to the toilet she again produces nothing.
9:00am - Another dribble on the living room floor. I take note at this point that she's had 6 accidents by 9, when yesterday her first accident didn't happen until after 9... I'm feeling a bit discouraged.
9:20am - Another spot on her panties, but she does nothing on the toilet. She's clearly holding it in, and only leaks when she lets down her guard. I'm so frustrated - I just want her to get it out when she's sitting on the potty, but she refuses. I know that forcing her to stay on the toilet will only make her hate being there worse, which will work against me, but I want to pull my hair out. I have laundry in piles all over the house (no time to put it away) so finding new panties for her becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt, and remains one throughout the day.
9:30am - We go downstairs, and I start the girls painting on paper towel (I used this same simple activity when training Clara - it's just pictures drawn with marker on paper towel, and they use water on brushes to spread and blend the colours). Almost immediately after this picture was taken, there is a deluge all over the classroom floor. This is accident #8, which happens at the same time accident #2 did yesterday.
9:50am - I play lazy parent and let the girls watch some tv ('Movies!!', Audrey says), and flip the chair around next to the tv so I can face the girls who are sitting on the couch. I use my phone to read some personal accounts of other families using the '3 Day' method of potty training (I'm looking for encouragement here), and come across one story that encouraged their child to enjoy their potty time by giving her books. Audrey had begun really stressing out about sitting on the potty, so I thought this might be a good idea. I offered her some time on the potty with a book, and she happily complied, and even sat there for 10 minutes, but still didn't pee. At least she was relaxed...
10:15-10:25am - After returning to the play area, she has a large-ish accident on the floor. I set her on the potty again with a book and she sits there for about 10 minutes. Just as I was about to give up and ask if she wanted to get up, I hear splashing! She has had her first successful pee on the potty!!! Despite the fact that it was preceded by 9 accidents, I try to take a bit of encouragement from the fact that this success came more than 4 hours before her first success the day before. This is an improvement!! I cheer her excessively and give her a piece of chocolate.
11:00am - She pees - lots - on the classroom floor, and then sits on the potty for awhile but produces nothing more. I know she still has pee in there, and I know it will probably come out as soon as she's off the toilet, so I struggle to hold her on the potty until she pees. I fought with this all day long - but in the end I knew I had to listen to her 'all done's, so she wouldn't stress out about going on the potty again.
11:15am - Another big accident, but again nothing in the potty.
11:30am - The biggest accident yet on the kitchen floor upstairs, but again nothing goes in the potty. This is accident #12. She's actually almost on par with yesterday at this point.
11:50am - I see a spot on her panties, so I run her to the bathroom. She sits on the potty for about 10 minutes - with a book - and then FINALLY pees!!! She's really excited to do it, too, but seems to get distracted and stop frequently. I'm sure she hasn't peed enough yet..
A friend stops by to pick up Clara for lunch. Poor Clara has been so neglected the last 36 hours, and she's so excited to be going out on her own. She keeps telling Audrey that 'You're not coming, Audrey', which hurts Audrey's feelings momentarily when Clara leaves. This will give me a few hours to focus on Audrey without distractions.
12:15pm - Another accident on the kitchen floor, and then immediately finishes (I think) in the potty. This is three (mostly) successful pees in the potty before lunchtime. I count this is progress! By 'successful', I mean that she deliberately let her pee lose while sitting on the potty. At this point I don't care that she didn't give me a warning, or that she always had some kind of accident prior to being on the potty. I'm celebrating the small wins here.
I suggest a nap (she seems really sleepy, and I'm exhausted, despite only having one child at the moment) but this time she says 'no'. I'm sitting at the chair in front of my computer, and she asks to be picked up and it sounds as though she asks to watch 'Let it Go'. So, I pull up a YouTube video of that scene in Frozen for her. She zombies in front of my computer for about half an hour, watching Elsa sing that song repeatedly. She seems to have a much longer attention span when Clara isn't around. After awhile, I sit her on the potty again for about 10 minutes, but she does nothing. I suggest we go downstairs to watch movies there. (Lazy parent).
2:00pm - Audrey suddenly gets up and runs to the bathroom, and wants me to read one of the books I've set out for her, but she doesn't pee. She does this a few times.
2:30pm - After one instance of sitting on the potty, she gets up and wants to wash her hands. There is a small stool in front of the sink that she is standing on, with her hands in the cool running water, and suddenly there is liquid running and splashing down her legs. By the time she gets to the potty she does nothing else.
3:15pm - The piano tuner is just leaving as Audrey starts throwing a tantrum. In my frustrated state, I give her a soother to keep her quiet until the tuner leaves, and of course she goes to her bed and falls asleep almost instantly.
I take advantage of this time after the tuner has left, and spend some one-on-one time with Clara. I cuddle with her, and complain together with her about how much potty training Audrey is not fun - for her or me - and remind her how much I love her. She tries to coerce some candy out of me, which fails, but I hope spending even a few minutes reassuring her is worth a lot.
3:50pm - I decide to wake Audrey up, because she typically doesn't sleep at night if she's napped, but I must have picked the exact wrong moment to do this. She wakes up saying something repeatedly - I wish I could remember what it was... 'All done', maybe? Anyway... She begins a crazy tired tantrum and I take her to the potty. She can hardly walk, and stumbles to the bathroom (She's going to be one of those people who needs coffee to function someday...). I notice that her panties are wet, but I had checked her bed as we were leaving it and I had thought it was dry. I leave her (tantruming) on the potty and go back to check her bed again. It's fine. When I return to her (She's still crying) on the toilet, there is a yellow hue to the toilet water and her bottom is dripping. I can't believe she didn't even waver in her tantrum, but I count this is a successful pee!
She periodically (and voluntarily) sits on thep otty throughout the rest of the afternoon, but immediately claims to be 'all done' and asks to get off. If I hesitate at all, she cries and steadfastly refuses.
6:05pm - She suddenly crouches over - like Clara used to do when she was so constipated - and Brian runs her immediately to the toilet. The first poop since potty training begins lands safely in the toilet! I'm so relieved!!
This marked her fifth (And last) success of the day.
6:10pm - Accident on the floor. She then produces nothing in the potty.
6:30pm - BIG accident on the downstairs living room floor. Then nothing in the potty.
6:40pm - Another big accident in the classroom. Nothing in the potty.
An unavoidable circumstance meant that Brian had to take the girls to a nearby city to return his parents' vehicle to them. It's about a 30 minute drive, and they drive there and back with no accidents. When Clara was potty training, I had made a waterproof blanket with a large button hole for the crotch strap of her carseat to fit through to put on her carseat - just in case. I'm glad we have it, but I'm also glad that today it wasn't used.
8:22pm - She has a small accident on the living room floor. No successful pees since mid-afternoon, although I didn't push the liquids quite as much after about that time of day.
In the end, only 20 accidents - 7 less than yesterday - and 5 successful potty times, which is one more than yesterday. Not a vast improvement so far, but definitely not a step backward. I'm praying for big changes tomorrow...
I apologize for the grammatical chaos of this post. I'm exhausted and potty training, so cut me some slack, please. :)
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