The Trick To Potty Training

the trick to potty training

You would think I had learned my lesson by now, but for some reason whenever I see something tell me how to parent my oldest, I want to believe it can work for us so badly that I end up giving it a go anyway— even though my heart already knows it won’t work. Remember that bunny book that they claim has a 98% rating of getting kids to fall asleep? You bet your ass I jumped on that one when I heard about it and all it did was creep all of us out.

Thing is, not all children are created equal, making “Foolproof Potty Training!” an absolutely nutty declaration. Still, I couldn’t help but be enticed by all of the catchy titles on Pinterest swearing to have my baby love trained in just three days, so I read on.

We tried taking him shopping and letting him pick his own undies. He loved it! In fact, he loved it so much that he would intentionally pee his pants just so he could put on a new pair of his super cool undies.

We bought a sticker chart and a bucket full of candy and toys. He was reeeeaalllyy into that. But he couldn’t get behind the concept that he had to collect a certain amount of stickers in order to get a prize. The wait out weighed the reward for him, and he would end up silently protesting— by pooping in the corner of the living room instead.

the trick to potty training

Even when we could get him interested in something, the allure would quickly fade and he would go right back to doing the deed in his pantalones.

Derek became determined to make a man out of our toddler however, and decided to take the reigns while I was out of town for a bridal shower at the beginning of June. He tossed the babe in big boy undies, dealt with more messes than not, and kept trying.

When I got home, I could tell that Declan’s interest had grown, but not much. Still, the tone had been set so I needed to follow through with Derek’s new “no diapers” rule.

That next day he told me he had to use the potty. So we ran into the bathroom, pulled down his pants, and nothing happened. He decided he didn’t have to poop after all, but I’m a mom, and I know he did. So for the next 40 minutes, he and I walked back into that bathroom at least 7 more times before he finally went. But once he did, I saw something click in his eyes. I don’t know what it was about that day, that time, but I knew right then and there that he had decided he was a potty kid from that day forward.

And he was. He literally went from peeing and pooping his pants nonstop to fully potty trained in a day. And it wasn’t any special method. It wasn’t a special tip or trick. It was just him. It was all him, just deciding that he was ready to take that next step.

That is quite literally the tone of his entire life— I think the tone of most kids who are hyperactive and strong willed. “I’ll do it when I’m good and ready.”

So for me, the trick to potty training was to be there to encourage, but to ultimately let him make the choice himself. We aren’t training dogs, we are teaching and nurturing people. I think it’s normal to want the fastet, easiest method for less messes to clean up and cheaper grocery bills (because diapers are crazy expensive!). But when you find yourself frustrated because all of the “how to’s” just aren’t working, just remember that these little people are just that. They are people who are desperate to have control over some aspect of their worlds that are completely controlled by other people. And with a little patience and a whole lot of disinfectant spray, they’ll get there.

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And Then My Baby Turned One

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*All photos were taken by Brenda Munoz Photography*

I’m leaving for a Bachelorette party today.

That would happen, right? When we planned it, I thought the 22nd was a Thursday (yesterday).

Spoiler alert: I was wrong. And it was too late to change things.

But that’s okay. I still spent the morning stroking Bennett’s wispy, curly locks— I showered him in kisses and adoring, real-time heart eyes. I marveled as he pulled the pieces of his brand new train set apart that his father and I spent an hour constructing last night— more interested in figuring out how it works than simply playing.

We’ll be heading out to stroller strides soon, where we will have muffins and fruit in celebration of B, then we will take him to our traditional birthday spot for a lunch instead of dinner, and I will still forever cherish the part of this day that I spent with him as one of my favorites.

Bennett means blessed. But man, he is the one doing all of the blessing around here. That kid— he has so much goodness in him. He is kind, and joyful, and loyal, and caring. He is all of these very big, mature emotions at the tiny, immature age of one.

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I love him so. Oh, how I love this boy of mine. My last baby. My sweet Benny boo. My heart never knew how much I was missing him until he appeared. And I pray every night that my heart will never have to miss him again.

When I was pregnant with him, I chose to decorate the room he and Declan would share in a modern Peter Pan/Lost Boys theme. I loved the idea of a gentle nod to these two little boys being wild and young and free. I didn’t realize at the time, just how perfect the theme really was.

Never grow up, Peter says. Well here I stand on the doorstep of an entire years worth of growing and all I can think to myself to say is, “never grow up”.

But I don’t mean that in a literal sense— at least not entirely. Sure, I wish we could stay in this moment forever. But I know that time stops for no one, and I also know that there is so much more wonder and beauty ahead.

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But I don’t want my boys to ever grow up.

Their eye level may reach staggering heights and their tiny clothes may get too tight, but I never want their feet to be so firmly planted on the ground that they forget all they have to do is think happy thoughts, to fly. I want them to leap. Dive head first into the clouds of their dreams and hopes. I want them to live. Live the great big adventure that is life, with childlike oomph.

When I had my kids I realized just how grown I had become. It wasn’t the fact that I suddenly needed coffee to survive and would rather go to bed at 9:00 pm than go to the movies. It wasn’t the fact that I started eating dinner at the same time as senior citizens or gagging at the very thought of Tequila. It wasn’t the bags under my eyes, the sudden drop in care for my daily appearance, or even the I’d-rather-shop-for-kids-than-myself mindset. What it was, was the absence of a spark. The childlike wonder that had somehow dissolved over the years without me ever noticing it had left. It took watching the world through their eyes for me to realize just how blind my own eyes and heart had become. It took crawling on all fours beside them to get a new perspective.

I don’t ever want them to lose this. This beautiful way they look at the crumbling world around them. The world sees rubble, they see pieces that merely need rebuilding. Adults see ruin, they see opportunity. So, never grow up, I say.

Never grow up.

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Sweet Bennett,

The world will try to tear you down because it does not understand goodness like yours. But hold on tight to your convictions, to your instincts, to your kind heart. Never accept the lie that you can’t achieve your dreams. You are so much greater than I can ever pen into words. I love you so. Happy Birthday!

– Mama


Find Your Inner Super Powers At Pretend City

Pretend City

Last week the boys and I got to take a tour of Pretend City in Irvine, and their new Super Powers exhibit. It was our first time ever going there, and it’s legitimately my new favorite place to take my kids. This place is amazing, guys! It is quite literally a pretend city for children.

They have a grocery store, a garden, a construction area, a beach, a restaurant, etc. Each area offers several different activities for the kids to do that require them to use motor skills, problem solving, and most importantly, their imaginations.

Declan sat and looked at things through a microscope for ten minutes straight. I repeat: DECLAN, my crazy-hyper-doesn’t-sit-still-for-5-seconds-son, SAT and stared into a microscope— oo-ing and ahhing at all of his discoveries. Needless to say, I was in mama heaven. Did I mention it is 100% indoors? Did I also mention it’s going to be in the high 90s for what seems like forever? Thats, right. I just found you your new summer spot mama— you’re welcome. 

Their Super Powers exhibit is only here for summer and let me just say, it is superb (see what I did there? But seriously, it’s awesome!). They have Super Power Headquarters (come on, how cute is that?) where kids (and adults— you bet your sweet toosh I put a mask on) can get dressed up in superhero gear.

Pretend City

Pretend City

After we had fun trying on capes and masks, we made our way to their other eight Super Power stations:

SKY SLIDER: A zip line! (Don’t worry mamas, they have staff right there helping the kids and cushy mats at the bottom)

Pretend City

COMIC CREATION STATION: Both of my boys loved this spot. It’s a giant comic strip where they kids can apply characters and word bubbles to create their very own superhero stories.

Pretend City

Pretend City

WIND TUNNEL: With the use of green screen technology, you can see yourself flying on the tv screen while gusts of wind are blown at you, making your cape (and your hair) look fabulously heroic. Seriously, who doesn’t pretending they are in their own movie?

Pretend City

FUEL CELL BIKES: Declan may have been just a tad too young to grasp this one, but he was still really excited to put on a helmet and pretend to ride a bike. The point of this station however, is to pedal as fast as you can and watch a fuel cell directly in front of you, charge up based on your speed.

Pretend City

Pretend City

MINI HEROES: I really wanted to take B to this area, but since I was solo with the kids and Declan can’t be tamed, I didn’t get a chance. We will absolutely we going back this summer though, so he will definitely get to experience it! The mini heroes section is it’s own little soft city for the 3 and under crowd to climb, roll, and crawl around in. They have soft blocks, puppets, and a reading nook for the smaller babes to explore their inner superhero. Start em’ young, I say!

Pretend City

DECODING STATION: The kids get to write (or draw) a secret message and then put it under the secret decoding light to reveal their message. I think this one is especially fun for kids who are just learning to read and write!

Pretend City

STORM SHOOTER: This is so cute. It’s similar to a mail shoot, only you put in different weather elements like lightning, storm clouds, etc. Pull the handle, and they shoot out into the air!

Pretend City

ROPES MAZE: Ropes are used to represent “labor beams” and the kids have to crawl through to the other side of the maze without letting the “lazor beams” touch them. The boys had a blast with this one too.

Pretend City

Pretend City

Pretend City

I had to drag Declan out of Pretend City, kicking and screaming— which is how I know he had a great time. Seriously though, I feel like I need to do another post on all of the other exhibits here because there is just so much for the kids to do. This is one of those places where you could make an entire day out of it and the kids would never get bored. I was so insanely impressed with the exhibits, the staff, the cleanliness of all of the toys and equipment, etc. If you live in SoCal, this is a must for you and your kids. And I totally recommend going this summer while the Super Powers exhibit is up— I know that both you and your kids will fall in love with it like I did!

You can go to www.pretendcity.org to plan your visit. 

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The Non-Pinteresty Party That My Son Will Forever Remember

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(Photo is by Brenda Munoz Photography)

My son went to bed Saturday night and woke up on Sunday, a three year old.

And yes, I mean that literally— but it is more than just the actual age change that I’m referring to. It’s hard to explain, but everything about him was simply older that next morning.

His sentences had even more depth to them. His attitude (and ability to use it) had been fine tuned, overnight— and suddenly he was able to tell me exactly why he didn’t have to listen to me or clean up his toys or be nice to his brother.

He grew— I swear he grew. Suddenly, he could reach the sink all by himself and didn’t need me to help him get into the bathroom anymore. Suddenly, my baby was a little more grown up.

It was the greatest kind of day that a three year old could possibly ask for— starting with his party.

I told everyone that I was keeping this one very mellow, and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t spend hours on Pinterest coming up with the best theme appropriate recipes, decorations, and signs. I didn’t craft until I couldn’t see straight or make everything from scratch. I didn’t even deep clean my house.

Instead, I shifted my entire focus to the kids. What would I want if I was Declan? Cleverly labeled food like “Goofy’s Phony Balogna Sandwiches” or “Minnie’s Mimosa Bar”? No. Nope. How about Mickey shaped waffles on a stick? Yaaaasss. Now we’re talking.

Mickey Waffles

Would I want handcrafted banners made from recycled paper and fresh flowers? Custom Montessori stations to cultivate learning? Or a bounce house, some chalk, and a backyard full of possibilities?

Guys, I didn’t even get tables and chairs. I literally just created a space for kids to roam free— with finger foods and a little booze for the adults (because, duh) and I’ve got to say, it was my favorite party yet.

The Non-Pinterest Party

Non-Pinterest Party

This was literally the full extent of my decorating… seriously, I’m not kidding.

At one point, Bennett was covered in mud and Declan was racing through the backyard, chasing his friends, and I swear I could feel the joy seeping out of their pores. These kids were jumping, and riding bikes, and having an impromtu pool party, and it was everything that childhood should be.

My heart was overwhelmed with joy watching all of these kids play with no rules, regulations, or “you can’t do that, you’re in your party clothes!” moments.

Declan blew out his candles in his undies— soaking wet. He ate two pieces of cake. He was covered in mud, and frosting, and happiness.

After everyone left, I tried to get him to take a nap, but he was too pumped. So instead, we stayed up together while Derek and B slumbered, and I sat on the floor with him while he opened all of his new toys— spending ample time with each one before moving on to the next. I cried as I watched him— this big kid who was once my tiny baby— and I pulled him in close for a hug. Time doesn’t stop for anybody, but I wanted to freeze right there, just for a moment longer.

When the crew woke up, we all made our way outside to have one last round in the bounce house.

Bounce house fun

Then it was off to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour for our traditional birthday dinner & ice cream. My parents, brother, and his fiancé joined us, and Declan received even more gifts there. He danced to the songs, told stories about his day, and dove into his sundae before we could even start singing happy birthday.

Farrell's

It was the perfect day.

I felt like the greatest mom in the world on Sunday, and it’s days like that one that I cling to when times get tough. He told me he loved me a million times that day. He told me how happy and excited he was. He told me that I’m his best friend.

I love crazy detailed parties. I love crafts. I love signs and food labels and custom goody bags. But I also really loved this party. This child focused, messy house, this is my real life party. It was beautiful in its imperfection and I know it’s a day my son will remember when he is older.

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Eleven Months Old

11 months

I meant to post this yesterday, but Bennett is teething and Declan is potty training and it’s just been chaos over here. Also, sorry for the crazy photo blur. This guy is almost possible to snap sitting still these days!

If you’re tired of reading monthly updates about my Benny boo, you’re crazy— because he’s awesome— but never fear, because their time is coming to an end.

Not-so-little man is already almost a year old, and I’m having a hard time grasping that. Has it really been that long? And why don’t I have rock hard abs yet? The disbelief, ahh, the disbelief. Truth is, when I take a step back I struggle to think of my life before him— and pizza + wine is why I don’t have Pink’s midsection, lets be honest.

But B— he makes the squishy tummy totally worth it. This kid is tops. He says dada, dede (Declan), mama, cat, tuck tuck, yeah, and uh oh— a pretty impressive collection of words for a dude less than one.

He’s started taking steps, but he’s not ready to commit to full blown walking yet, which is totally cool. Still, he loves to stand and walk all around the house using assistance from toys, walls, etc. and every once and a while he gets brave and takes a few unassisted moves before grabbing on to something again.

He’s starting to find an interest in using utensils and coloring, so we’ve been exploring those messy worlds. I think he’s going to be right handed and he has excellent hand-eye coordination, so maybe Derek will get his quarterback child after all.

B 11 months

He’s got a serious attitude, but in the adorable, Robert Downey Jr. kind of way that somehow is still charming.

Teething however, is the bane of my existence and I cannot wait until it’s over. We’ve weaned off the breast (more on that later) which has made it interesting, trying to find other ways to soothe him.

I basically spend all day long pulling him out of cupboards, grabbing crayons out of his mouth, and feeding him lots and lots of food. Seriously, this kid got dense, fast.

Next month he will be one, and my heart can barely take it. B truly is a little ball of goodness, and I find myself often proclaiming just how awesome I think he is. I’m looking forward to celebrating him next month with all of our closest friends and family!

11 months old

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Maybe Moms Really Are Superheroes

Moms Are Superheroes

Everybody tells you it’s a dream.

“You’re living the dream! Motherhood is such a dream!”

What they don’t say, is that it’s not always the kind of dream where Channing Tatum spoon feeds you endless amounts of mint chip ice cream, which has zero effect on your Victoria Secret model body. No, they neglect to tell you that sometimes it’s a straight up nightmare. One that feeds on every fear, and insecurity, and weakness you’ve ever had. The kind of dream that leaves you feeling weak and vulnerable for days.

How can something so incredibly wonderful also be so insanely challenging?

I guess that’s easy. A quick convo with your neighborhood superhero will reveal that all good things come with a price. That it takes every ounce of your abilities to change the world— to raise the future of the world.

But you’re not a superhero. You don’t have laser beam eyes, or telekinesis, or freeze ray guns. (Though, that last one would sure come in handy when the kids are mid- “fall off the chair for the hundredth time”, am I right?)

The only fire that comes out of your mouth is “If I have to tell you one more time..!”, and the only bad guys you chase away at night are the invisible monsters underneath the bed. They’re off saving the universe, while you’re trying to find a way to sneak veggies into your child’s food.

But maybe, that’s just it. Maybe that is exactly why you are a superhero.

I mean, it surely seems like you have super human strength when you walk out of the store with two kids on either hip and arms filled to the elbows with groceries. You can’t for the life of you open the pickle jar, but you can carry 50+ lbs. of tantrumming children out of Target— which is pretty damn impressive.

And it takes some sort of other-earthly patience to listen to the same song sung, same question asked, same scream screamed, all day long. Only a radioactive spider bite can explain how you manage to survive off of sandwich crust and zero sleep. And don’t even get me started on potty training— I’m pretty sure that Superman himself would rather battle Lex Luther any day of the week than have to clean human poop out of the carpets.

And sometimes our kids feel like our kryptonite— our Achilles heel, our own personal vortex of chaos and destruction. Right? I mean, there are days, weeks, months even, where they just drain every ounce of… everything.

But we really are superheroes, and it’s time we start believing that. You can get through this stage— whatever terrible, awful, losing your hair and your sanity, stage it may be— you can get through this. It’s not going to be teething, or breastfeeding, or the terrible twos that cue your demise. You’re a damn superwoman. You will conquer this phase— the nightmare will not last forever.

So next time you find yourself completely immobilized by the stress, the lack of energy, the anxiety, etc.— do yourself a favor and put yourself on time out in the bathroom for two minutes. Stare at yourself in the mirror— hollow shell, full-faced beauty, whatever you see that day— and repeat this mantra: I AM A SUPERHERO. I CAN AND I WILL CONQUER THIS. Repeat it until you feel it, mama.

Remember, you’ve got this.

It won’t last forever.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Whine now, Wine later.

[Inster snazzy catch phrase here]

You get the drift. You really are remarkable, and I hope you are able to see that these seemingly small actions you make every single day, make a huge difference.

Fly high, my sweet friends.

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