Monday, September 1, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes

Jackson was sitting in the dirt playing before we were about to leave the house. My husband asked him not to get his pants dirty. His response: "Dad, it's ok! These are my work pants." :) 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Pressures of Potty Training a Little Girl

"You need to potty train that girl already!" "Oh, I think she's ready to be potty trained!" "She can talk, she doesn't need diapers."

Those were the comments I was getting shortly after my daughter turned two years old. I received endless advice and heard countless success stories. As if being in diapers at two was the worst possible situation for a little girl. Then almost as soon as I announced that I was pregnant with my third child the floodgates opened. Countless people were telling me that I had better hurry up and get that girl out of diapers before the new baby arrives. One of the statements I heard the most was, "Girls are so much easier to potty train." I was told stories of mothers potty training their little girls by 18 months of age and how simple it was to do. Basically, I was made to feel like my daughter was behind others her age and I had to catch her up to some invisible deadline.
At first I felt the pressure of wanting to please others and the yearning to have that accomplishment out of the way. I tried. I did. For a solid week I took away diapers. I bribed my 2 year old with Hershey chocolate kisses for using the toilet. I set timers and rushed her to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes after she drank something. I bought her "big girl" under ware. I sang and did a happy dance every time she made it to the toilet. She had ME trained to take her to the bathroom and it was exhausting.
However, after a few days the novelty wore off for her and for myself. Potty time became fight time. She didn't want to do it. I'd catch her hiding behind chairs or in the corner using the carpet as a restroom. I cleaned more messes then I care to remember. My carpet and my patience were suffering. It was frustrating. We were both frustrated, but I didn't want to give up, and I didn't want to fail. By the end of the week she was begging me to let her wear diapers again. She was adamant about wearing them. As a matter of fact, she started putting diapers on herself and changing them after they were soiled. We were both tired and it was obvious that SHE wasn't ready. So I stopped fighting and trying to bribe her to do something she evidently did not want to do. We let it go and I ignored the commentary and advice that I continued to receive.
Fast forward about 6 months. One day out of the blue my daughter looked at me and said, "No more diapers. I'm a big girl now." She took off her diaper, went to her dresser, pulled out the under ware that I had purchased for her months earlier, and put them on. Ever since that day she has been using the toilet. Some days I have to remind her to stop what she is doing and go, and there have been a few accidents every once in a while. Sometimes we've had to pick her up and rush her to the bathroom as quickly as possible. There have been times when we have been out shopping and she waits until we are on the farthest end of the store from the restroom to announce, "Mommy! I have to go potty!"
It's been an adventure for sure, but since that day when she decided she was done with diapers there has been no going back, only moving forward.
To be perfectly honest, dealing with diapers isn't the worst thing in the world. Every child is different and does things at their own speed and with their own style. I learned that my daughter is extremely independent and intelligent. She wants to do everything herself on her own timeline. Sometimes this can be challenging, but in the case of potty training I needed to allow her to do her own thing and not force her into something she wasn't fully comfortable with. She takes pride in her accomplishments, and you can see the satisfaction on her face. Letting her take the lead has given her confidence, which is a quality that I want all my children to possess. Being a mom is a journey and I've learned that there are going to be people pressuring me to do things a certain way or raise my children their way. Ultimately I need to do what is best and what works for MY family and remember that just because something might work for someone else's family doesn't mean that it will work for mine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A day in the life of a SAHM of two & full-time online college student

I've been taking full-time online college courses for a little over a year so that I can finish my BA degree while staying at home with my children. Staying on top of my coursework takes a lot of motivation and planning. While there is no set time to sign on for online classes, there are weekly deadlines and A LOT of reading. Sometimes there are short videos to watch. Motivation is not optional for an online student. As a stay at home mom I also have to fit my course work around housework, and raising my children. How do I do it?

At the beginning of each week I look over the schedule for each class. I look at due dates, assigned reading, homework ect. Taking it all into consideration I then write out a weekly schedule for myself. I split up all the reading and writing assignments. Doing this is a MUST! Planning is one of the keys to success while taking online courses. Having the motivation to keep this up for the entire school year is another important part to success.  I've taken courses on campus and online. In my opinion, online courses are a lot harder and more time consuming.

My day usually looks like this:

9AM -Wake up with the kids. Get their breakfast ready and turn on cartoons for them while they eat. This gives me about 30-45 minutes of time to start on some reading/homework. That doesn't last long before they start wanting to play.

10AM-2PM I play with the kids. We go outside, make crafts, play with play doh and hang out. Then it's lunch time, and more playing.

2PM-4:30PM- Is when I usually try to get the kids down for a nap. Most of the time I take a nap as well, so that I don't get tired later on. Sometimes my husband comes home early.

4:30PM-5:00PM- I start dinner and usually my husband comes home. He plays with the kids so that I can cook uninterrupted. Other times he makes dinner while I sneak off to read for school.

5:30PM-6PM- Dinner time/clean up.

6PM-8:30PM- We spend family time together. Sometimes if I have A LOT to do I separate and go off to do my coursework. 8:30PM we start getting the kids ready for bed so that they are in bed by 9PM.

9PM-1AM- Is my time to get as much work done as possible. It is also my only alone time for the day. If I don't have too much to do then I am able to take breaks from schoolwork to watch my shows. Usually there isn't time for shows and I end up working on homework.

**Everyday varies a little bit,  but it usually works out like stated above. If I get sick or one of my kids does....oh boy. It throws my week off and I have to pick up the slack on different days. Weekends throw off our schedule, especially when we have big plans. Holidays are difficult as well.  My main goal is to dedicate at LEAST 3+ hours a day to my studies. Those 3+ hours could be grouped together or spread out throughout the day.

How do I pay for my education??
I filled out my FAFSA at This needs to be done every school year, usually in the spring/summer before fall classes begin.
Then I applied to the school of my choice( You can apply at any school you want. They took the information from the FAFSA and determined how much financial aid I was eligible for, and how much would be on loans.  It is all based on taxes filed from the year before. The financial aid is money that I do NOT have to pay back. The loans will have to be paid starting 6 months after graduation. There are payment plans that can be worked out so that the whole amount isn't due at that time.  I can also make payments while in school to help pay it off faster. If your income or family income is low enough there is no money down.

How do I keep motivated? 
I think about the future and providing for my children.
I think of having a career and a "big girl" job.
I think of how great it will feel to have the accomplishment.
I take breaks often and make sure to get sleep.

It isn't easy but it is completely possible to get an entire degree online while staying at home with your children. I am living proof(well almost, I still have a little time left). You can always take 2 classes to start out if you aren't sure about what you are capable of. There is no law on how fast or slow you complete a degree. I usually take four classes, split so that I only have two at one time. (They are 8 weeks long) It will take me longer to complete my degree that way but I am able to focus and get good grades. This fall I'm even taking 5 classes. It's all about how much you can handle!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Potty training our 3.5 year old son

I'm not going to lie. Potty training our son was one of most challenging endeavors that I have ever taken on in my entire life. It has been a struggle and I've wanted to scream more then a few times. Jackson can be a very stubborn child. It took him awhile to finally be fully ready.

We purchased a potty chair when Jackson was 18 months old. All that came out of that was a few cute pictures of him sitting on the toilet smiling. Potty training was attempted multiple times after that with no success. Then the entire summer that he was 2 years old he would not keep his diaper on. I took that as a sign he was ready for the potty. Boy, was I wrong! We had more messes that summer then ever before. I finally decided to wait a year, then try again. We got a lot of comments like "He's not potty trained yet?" "It's not that hard, just potty train him already." For me, it was not easy. Finding little "presents" all over the house was enough to make me mad. In the end I had to ignore those comments and let my son decide when HE was ready.

At the beginning of this summer I signed Jackson up for fall preschool. One of the stipulations for attending was that he had to be fully potty trained. I literally had 3 months to get him out of diapers and using the toilet full-time. I began talking to him about using the "big boy potty" earlier in the year. I wanted to work him up gradually. This summer, after telling him that he couldn't go to school unless he was out of diapers, we had a break through. Someone had mentioned letting him skip the little potty chair and having him stand up to pee in the big toilet. One day I went for it. I took a little paper star, stood him at the toilet and told him to "shoot the star".  It became a fun game for him. Once I knew that he could do it I took diapers away completely during the day. For a week I had timers set for every 15-20 minutes. Slowly, the time lengthened between potty breaks. I made sure we didn't have to leave the house for the first 3 days, just so he could get used to the idea of using a toilet. On the 4th day we went to the grocery store. I had him go to the bathroom before we left, and at the store. He did amazingly well! There was a lot of praise that first week and a few accidents. When he did not make it to the toilet there was no yelling, just talking. "It's ok buddy, but next time you need to go in the toilet. It's not fun to be wet and yucky."

Within a month he was fully potty trained for pee. I really had to work on my patience because there were times when he had accidents. Sometimes he couldn't get his pants down fast enough once he was at the toilet. Other times he got caught up in playing and didn't realize he had to go. Eventually though he did get the hang of it and started going on his own. Going poop was/is a whole other story. We are currently in the 3rd month of potty training and finally getting somewhere with pooping.

This clip from Daniel Tiger is one of our favorite songs to sing about the potty:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SAHM Mom of Two Toddlers Going Back to School

I started college later then the norm. Why? That's a story in its own. I took my first college course at the age of 21. By the age of 22 I was married and had my first child. My husband and I decided to expand our family further while both of us worked full-time. This put my dream of having a college degree on hold.

Now at 26 years old I have a one year old and a three year old. Last summer my husband and I decided that I would start taking classes again toward my BA in Business. I looked at different schools and decided that online classes would be the best fit for me. Liberty University Online based out of Lynchburg, VA is the school I chose. I really like that Liberty University has an actual campus with over 12,500 resident students. Their online programs have 80,000+ students. Their online program allows me to complete my degree 100% at home. I'm able to spend more time with my family and go to school.

Faith played a big part in my decision as well.

It's been over a year since I started my first class and I'm loving it. I'm able to continue taking classes throughout the summer, this helps complete my degree faster. I just want to say that I am living proof that a degree can be obtained even if you have children. It may be a little more difficult, but it is completely possible!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Easy Snacks for Toddlers

Finding healthy, yummy snacks for your toddlers can be challenging sometimes. If I would let my kids eat whatever they wanted they would be full of Oreos, potato chips and ice-cream. Toddlers tend to snack a lot so it is important to find healthy things for them to fill up on.
My biggest piece of advice would be not to buy junk food often. Instead stock up on healthy snacks or make your own!
Here is a list of snacks that I always make sure to have in the house....

  • Baby carrots (Steam them if you're not comfortable with them raw)
  • Apples
  • Hard-Boiled eggs
  • String cheese & other cheese to munch on
  • Strawberries, Blueberries or Raspberries (they can be expensive so we usually get one a pack of either of these every week)
  • Granola bars
  • Trail-mix (nuts,m&ms and raisons) 
  • Yogurt
  • Annie's brand cheddar bunnies & chocolate bunnies
  • Pasta (Cook it and snack with no sauce. This makes for an easy and quick snack)
  • Buddy Fruits (pictured above: Easy to take with us while we are on the go without a refrigerator)
  • Cereal

(Always keep a good eye on your child while they are eating!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Am A Freestyle Mom

I am a freestyle mom.
I don't fit into any other parenting category completely.
I have the right to choose my own parenting style.
I am always learning.
I do not necessarily parent exactly like I was raised.
I am not perfect and do not always know what I'm doing.
Being a parent has been learn as I go.
Google is my friend.
I am not afraid to ask other moms for ideas or advice.
I make mistakes & I learn from them.
There is always room for improvement.
I am a freestyle mom.