Thursday, February 15, 2018

Adventures in Potty Training - Round 2

Potty training - what can I say?  It's not the most fun transition in the world, but, it's gotta happen and boy does it feel good to be mostly diaper free!  I'd say at this point we are 95% of the way there.  I did some things different this time around, but I did a lot the same, because you don't fix what ain't broken, right?  So, for all those moms out there with little ones, here's what worked for us and how we did it.

1. How old? - I potty trained both my kids over winter break when they were around 2.5 years old.  Abby was born in August, and Hazel in late June, so they were roughly the same age when we took the potty training plunge.  I honestly think I dreaded doing Hazel more than Abby because looking back I knew that potty training Abby was SUPER easy.  Like, it was going to be a miracle if both the kids were super easy...so I worked myself into believing that this was going to be rough.  To be honest, it was...for about a week...and then it was done!

2.  Why Christmas break? - Well, the answer is two fold - extended time with me and very little planned.  It's one of the few times a year that I was going to be with the kids 24/7 for an extended period of time.  For both girls we did a potty training boot-camp of sorts.  Like, we did literally NOTHING other than stay home, run around naked and practice going potty.  We had very few outings and daycare was closed for the week, so I had the kids all to myself.  (I was exhausted when the week was over).  If you know us, you know that we are RARELY in one spot for very long.  We spend LOTS of time away from home on the weekends and even during the week we find our schedules full.  The week between Christmas and New Years is relatively quiet for us.


3.  Did you use rewards? -  I read a book recently that discouraged the use of rewards during potty training.  The logic is sound - potty training is a development milestone, similar to walking and talking, and we don't reward those...so why reward potty training?  True, good point.  But, you know what, M&M's worked for me before and they are a great motivator, so I bought a $3 bag, and felt zero guilt in passing them out when we had successes.

I'd have to say though, we weened off the M&M's much faster this round than with Abby.  The biggest reason for that, was well, Abby.  You see, she was a GREAT helper in this endeavor.  Honestly I think she did a lot of the training herself.  She was super excited to help Hazel and watch her - mostly because whenever Hazel went, I coughed up an M&M for them both.  HAHAHAHA!  You read that right, when Hazel pee'd, Abby also got an M&M.  It worked...it really did.  Abby was super motivated to help and celebrate our successes but she also drove me crazy asking for M&M's.  When I sent Hazel to daycare the following week (7 days post potty training boot-camp) we cut out all M&M's and that was the end of that.  Easy peasy!

4.  Little portable potty or training seats? - We did a combination of the two.  A few years ago we sprung for some really nice toilet seats on amazon that have a built in kid sided ring that hides in the main ring.  They weren't cheap but we bought them for all the toilets in our house figuring we had quite a few years ahead of us in which we'd need them, plus friend's kids after that.  So, this time around I was adamant that we wouldn't drag out that little plastic potty.  My thinking was "why transition again?".  Well, as you can tell from the picture above, that didn't last for long.  I quickly realized that the little potty was two things: fun and portable.  First of all, Hazel was excited to sit on the stupid thing because it was new, fun and played music.  Secondly, it was portable.  When I trained Abby we used this toilet too but I swore we'd keep it in the bathroom (because, that's where potty happens...not like a diaper when you go where ever, whenever) and I stuck to that rule.  We logged a LOT of hours in the bathroom when I trained Abby.  This time around, I gave in and we moved that thing right into the living room.  Gross? Yes.  Practical, you betcha!  You see, now, she could do her thing, be with us and I could still run the house.  I wasn't stuck sitting in the bathroom all the live long day.  It worked great!!

Oh, and, another plus of the plastic potty - well, really two.  One, it plays music when she went so I didn't need to be close by to know we'd had a success.  I could hear the music (and so could my helper, Abby) so that made it easy.  And two, it's impossible to tell if a kid actually pees on a real potty unless you hear it happen.  In this thing, there is no water to start, so if there's water, it's pee and you know she went.  It made my fly by parenting that much easier to know if/when she went using the plastic potty.  So, even though it wasn't my original plan, I'd call it a win.


5.  A potty journal: This was a tip I got from another mom when I trained Abby and it 100% worked for me then and again this time.  I kept a little journal of every single time she went pee...accidents, successes, pee's, poops, real potty, plastic potty etc.  I literally wrote it all down.  It helped me to see trends (like she always goes poop at this time of day) and to see trending success.  Like, day over day, we've been getting better.  I suggest this to anyone doing potty training.  It's hard, we get caught up in all the other things going on (especially if you have other kids) so this helps to keep you on track and focused.  And, to see when it might be time to suggest we try going.  Like, every hour on the hour, we sat down and tried.  If she went, great.  If not, we tried again in 10 minutes.  Exhausting, yes! Productive, you betcha!

6.  Naked or with clothes? - This one was a hard one for Hazel.  With both kids I started off with no pants on (yes, I knew that meant I might be cleaning up pee on the floor but it happened less than you'd expect).  With Abby, we did no pants for 1 day and then we put on training underwear (thicker than normal underwear, but not pull ups...these are still cloth - check Amazon).  Anyways, with Hazel we were 3 days in and she was still running around with no pants on.  She could do an entire day with no accidents if she was naked, but put on unders or pants and it was done for.  I was certain THIS would be the thing we couldn't transition past.  But, as with all things, that passed and it was fine. She had more accidents than Abby did, which was hard on me....I felt like we weren't making progress.  But, each kid is different and I'd forgotten that perspective when I was "in it".

7.  Are you really diaper free now? - the answer is no...and I don't expect to be really truly out of them for awhile yet.  Hazel still gets a diaper for naps and for bedtime.  She is still in a crib, so asking her to stay dry and be trapped isn't fair.  We'll transition to a bed sometime in the next few months, but I know it took Abby to nearly 3.5 before she could make it through the night without a diaper.  We aren't diaper free yet, but we've made huge strides and that's all I was asking for.

8.  What about in the car? - We used a diaper on car rides/errands that would keep us out of the house for awhile.  At first it was anytime we left, and now, we've made it the last two weekends on car rides over 3 hours long without diapers.  She'll tell us she needs to go and she's successfully waiting until we could pull over and find a bathroom.  I am sure we'll have set backs, but at this point, I'd say we are done with diapers in the car.  In fact, she fights me when I try to put it on her so, we told her she had to go in the potty and she's done great with it.  This happened much faster for Hazel than it did Abby...I'm reluctant to call this one a success yet at this point, I'm probably just jinxing us!

You're probably getting sick of reading this and I don't have many pictures to show you so I'll wrap this up.  At 2.5 months into this adventure, I'd say we're 95% trained.  It's been weeks since she had an accident, either here or at daycare.  We've transitioned out of the training underwear into real big kid underwear, we no longer do rewards, we don't use the plastic potty anymore, she poops in the potty and can make it on long car rides...and hold it when needed.  She asks to go to the bathroom during swim lessons (when she has a swim diaper on) and she even wakes up dry from naps sometimes.  I'd say we're potty trained!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Copper McGrath - A New Addition


Well, I'm sure it's not much of a surprise at this point, but I figured I should formally introduce our newest addition to the family, Copper.  It's been just about a year and a half since we put my sweet Lily down and it's honestly taken me that long to decide I was ready for a second dog.  If it was up to Ryan, we'd have had one a long time ago.  But, two dogs is a LOT of work...and two dogs with two kids is even more work...and a puppy is the MOST work.  Mostly for me.  I'm home with these ding-dongs 24/7 and while he is super sweet and he has puppy breath and a snuggly soft coat, it means that I'm here, doing potty training, and chasing this dang puppy around the house all the live long day.


Let me tell ya, to all the Mommy's out there - a puppy and small kids is tough.  I mean, they are his size...and he is a baby and all he wants to do is chew, jump and tackle them.  He wants to like their faces, eat their toys and to push them down.  Que a lot of yelling, screeching and "Mommy put him in his cage".  I'm not going to lie, it's a lot.  But, it is what we signed up for.  Part of the reason we got a puppy now was because I wanted the kids to have this experience.  I wanted them to have a dog that was truly "theirs".  Copper will be central to a lot of their memories from childhood and I couldn't think of a better reason to bring one into the family.


Copper is our first boy dog.  Growing up we always had a Golden Retriever in the family. From Chloe to Grace to Lily and Ruby...he's the first boy in a long line of girls.  A lot of it was Ryan requesting to no longer be the only boy in the house...which, you gotta give the guy that!


Copper's name is special to me.  My grandpa's dog was named Copper and if you know me, you know that nostalgia plays a big role in my life.  Abby's middle name is Pearl, after my mom's mom and Hazel's middle name is Frances from Ryan's side of the family.  So, Copper seemed a fitting name.  Now is middle name, that's a funny story!  Abby says that Copper's middle name is "fish".  As in, Copper Fish McGrath.  Somewhere along the way she heard someone say that Copper was the name of the fox from the Fox and the Hound movie.  So, clearly, his middle name should be "Fish" right?  I know, it was a leap for me too...

Abby says "Copper was the fox in the movie, and foxes eat wild fish, so his name is Copper Fish McGrath".  HAHAHAH!  I love it...and I don't want to forget it someday, so I'm writing it here so we never forget the origins of his very strange middle name.


Welcome to the family, little guy.  Get ready for a the wild roller coaster that is life with the McGrath's.  We do all the things, so get ready for lots of car rides, outdoor adventures and wood pile management.  You're kinda stuck with us at this point!

Monday, February 12, 2018

1 Family x 12 (Feb)


While Hazel's outfit may not have been my first (or second, or third) choice for the birthday party this weekend...someday she'll look back at this photo and laugh at her sense of style.  I just love this sweet little family of mine.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

1 Family x 12 (Jan)


Technically taken a few days into Feb but I'm calling this January's family photo.  I'll get it together and get back to posting again here soon.  Life's a little busy now that we've added this cute guy to our bunch...

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Day

If there is ONE thing to say about Christmas this year it's that we sure do feel very fortunate and very loved.  It was yet another amazing Christmas for one and all.  I posted on Instagram that "seeing Christmas through the eyes of your kids is pretty freaking awesome" and that is basically exactly how I feel about it.


It's such a magical time of year and while it's always busy and there is always a to do list or a grocery list happening somewhere, it's a time for being thankful, showing (and telling) people how much you love them and making family traditions that will live on for years and years to come.


Christmas has always been a fun time of year for us, but adding the excitement of the kids just takes it to another level.



Christmas in Freeport


Santa visited us AGAIN this year.  Actually, after I posted a picture online, Jamie texted me and asked why Santa was following us around.  HAHA!  My little girls sure were lucky to have the big man in red visit us so much this year.


As our families have grown, we've started doing "Ritterbusch Christmas" the weekend before real Christmas.  This year it worked our perfectly that it really was just a few days before real Christmas.


Hazel was still pretty reluctant but each time she saw the big guy, she got a little braver...but only from a distance!



The big girls were really excited to see him and even more excited to see what was in his big bag!


And, we even got a pretty near perfect family photo of us all!


Abby's Christmas Concert


Abby's school does a K-4 Christmas Concert each year and it was the sweetest little thing.  You'll have to excuse the pictures, we didn't have ideal seats so Ryan was able to snap these by standing up quick (blocking other's view) and snapping a few pictures before sitting back down.  At least we have some action shots!




Each year Ellyn gets Abby a sweet little fancy Christmas dress like this one.  It's perfect because I save them for Hazel and then both girls are set for events just like this one.  She just looks so grown up here in this picture!

And of course, the highlight of the night was the holiday sugar cookies Ellyn had tucked away in her purse for after the show.  As you can tell, both girls were pretty excited about them!