Puppies, Chickens and Monkeys: Preparing to Potty Train Twins

Potty training twins has most likely shortened my life by approximately 10 years, give or take a few decades. The chaos and stress of it all was not something I was prepared for by any means, and I have written the following training guide to help any parents of multiples to be ready to tackle the job.

  1. Bring two puppies, preferably thirsty ones with small bladders, into your home. Follow them around the house with a cleaning rag and some cleaners for both your carpet and couches. Do this for 10-12 hours a day. Between cleaning up the messes, sit with them outside for 10 minutes every hour, begging them to potty like big dogs.
  2. Borrow a feces-throwing monkey to join in the fun at least once a day, preferably during a time when you are trying to get something done. Practice cooking dinner or making phone calls and then frantically dropping everything at the first whiff of monkey poo. Continue to clean up after the puppies at the same time.
  3. Find a screeching parrot or small child who will loudly scream, “I went potty!” at a startling volume and ear-piercing tone each time one of the puppies or the monkey has an accident. Train the child or parrot to continue to scream until the entire mess is cleaned.
  4. Buy three large chickens, preferably ones which can wear a pair of toddler panties, and turn them loose in your house. Four times a day, practice chasing the chickens and putting toddler panties on them while cleaning up after the puppies and the monkey. (I suggest three chickens so that when you are only chasing two toddlers, it will feel somewhat easier.)
  5.  Have someone walk around your house with a cup of water, spilling a little bit in several different places on your carpet or floors. Walk around barefoot while trying to accomplish another task, like picking up the house or running the vacuum, and see if you can find and clean up all of the surprise wet spots you feel with your feet.
  6. Buy some small stickers like the kind with which you might reward your future potty training twins, and stick at least four entire pages all over your clothes, furniture, sheets and walls. Make sure to put a few in unexpected places like your husband’s work shirt for extra realistic surprises.
  7. Do three additional loads of laundry a day.
  8. Stay home for one full week with the puppies, monkey, chickens and screeching child or parrot until you either lose your mind or the puppies start using the potty successfully at least half of the time.

I wish you the best of luck with potty training your twins. Do not ask me for advice. Although my twins are more or less potty trained now (thank you, Lord), we survived only by the skin on our teeth. I have nothing to offer except the above mentioned list and an extra chicken.

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A Mama’s Heart on Fire: Making Today the Best Day Ever

The cold seemed never ending.  Sub-zero temps for days on end, and too much snow on the ground to go to the park even when the temperatures started to creep back up toward freezing.

Then my sweet girls both caught some kind of little cold.  Nothing serious, but enough snot and germy-ness to warrant cancelling our play dates and keeping us inside the house for a week.

It was a recipe for major crankiness and tension, and it made me question very seriously why in the world I wanted to be a stay-at-home mama.  Everything, from dishes to laundry to diapers to vacuuming, seemed to make me angry.

In the midst of a bitter moment, I thought, “Who wants to live this way? No one wants to be grouchy for the next 50 (hopefully longer!) years, and no one wants to be around someone who is always in a terrible mood.”

I prayed with a heavy heart for some way to help with my attitude, for me to find a way to make peace with every day life.

God was listening. The first moment of clarity came only 12 hours after my prayer for a change of heart.

The next morning, we pulled up to the grocery store, and I was dreading the trip.  I was cranky (imagine that?!) and resenting the fact that I had to take both kids to shop again because I wasn’t organized enough to go alone this past weekend.

“Look, Mama, isn’t the grocery store beautiful?” one of my munchkins piped up from the backseat.  “The grocery store is SO beautiful!”

Silence.

Her words gripped my heart as I smiled and agreed with her and fought back tears.  Of course the grocery store was beautiful–why couldn’t I see it? Isn’t everything around us, no matter how bland and boring, truly beautiful simply because we are alive to see it?

I felt the sunshine immediately start to break through the angry clouds in my mind as her childlike joy rubbed off on me.  My bitterness started to melt as I realized how it’s all about perspective and choosing to see life’s chores and drudgeries with a joyful heart.  We are SURROUNDED by beauty, breath-taking, awe-inspiring beauty, every day, but we have to look for it with a genuine heart on fire to see what God has put in our lives.

“Thank you, Lord,” I thought as we walked into the store.

Then He did it AGAIN.

“This is the best day EVER!” my sweet munchkin yelled out in the grocery cart as we went down the first aisle.  She was beaming, smiling from ear to ear, and she yelled it out again.  This time her twin sister joined her.

“This is the best day EVER!” they squealed with giggles and smiles.

This time, I choked back the tears and watched with amazement at the sight of God answering my prayers through my two precious babies.

“You’re right, girls.  This is the best day ever!”  I said with a smile, and I’ll tell you, those words are impossible to say without wanting to skip, laugh and dance around.  A grocery store trip with my girls which started as a chore turned into a truly joyful moment with my kids.

It’s all about perspective and choice. If we choose to find beauty and true joy every day by looking at life with a pure, fire-filled heart, God is putting it out there for us.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalms 51:10-19

This is going on a post-it in my kitchen where I can see it every evening when I do the last of the picking up and dishes for the day, the time when I am most vulnerable to bitterness and anger.

So here’s to being given another day, no matter what ups and downs it brings. Embrace it, look for the beauty God has placed before you, and make it the best day ever.

A Mama’s Heart on Fire

The past few weeks I have been struggling immensely with finding peace, finding joy and finding my purpose.

Staying home with my girls is what I know I’m supposed to do and what I know is best for our family, and ninety percent of the time it’s where my heart is, too.

It’s on those other 10 percent of the days when I struggle, though, and it seems like I had a long string of those tough days thanks to sick babies and bitterly cold weather which left us all cooped up and on top of one another with a little too much togetherness.

Lots of prayers, tears and listening to God has given me an amazing clarity about it all, and this is the first of a series of blog posts about having a heart on fire for God even when you’re drowning in the deep end with taking care of your family and yourself.  (I hope all moms, stay at home and working, can find some encouragement because I think we are all in the deep end with our every day lives.)

Let me share this with you first, though.  I have never seen myself as someone who should share her spiritual journey.  Although I am passionate about serving my Lord, I feel like my journey isn’t one which will be the basis for a book on how to be close to God.  It is so hard for me to make time to read my Bible or complete a Bible study or do all of those “things” I feel like define a strong relationship with our God, and I don’t feel worthy to share anything about my spiritual life with others because I feel like I have so much growing left to do.

I am just an average mom who hates housework, isn’t very crafty, and has no shame about skipping a shower to snuggle a sick baby for a day or two.  But I love God and my family with all of my heart, and I want to find a way to be on fire for my God every single day.

Through my feelings of inadequacy and struggles, God has been whispering to me to try, to listen, to share my journey and my struggles and sit back and see what He can do.  So that’s what this new series, A Heart on Fire, will be about.

I’d love to have you join me on this journey.  We all need a little more hope and joy each day!

A Toddler, a Bathroom and a Bald Spot: Why You Shouldn’t Text and Parent

Three seconds of distraction turned into two inches of sweet, soft baby hair on the floor, one big bald spot on my toddler and one extra nomination for parent of the year for this mama.

Oops.

Before I tell you this tragic tale of texting and parenting, I will assure you NO toddlers were injured in the least bit during this incident–not a drop of blood or a single tear was shed by the child. I, on the other hand, did not fair as well. Watching a chunk of beautiful baby hair which took a whopping TWO years to grow is an absolute travesty which warrants a few tears. I digress.

We were all in the girls’ favorite place in the house, mama’s bathroom, while I was trying to get myself ready. I’d estimate I spent two-thirds of my time asking the girls to take this thing out of their nose and put this one back in the drawer and only one-third actually accomplishing anything. (After a year of this frustration, you’d think I’d have baby proofed my bathroom, but that would be too easy. I clearly prefer a parenting challenge.)

A text came in on my phone, and I grabbed it to fire off a quick reply. In the three seconds I was looking at the screen, one of the girls reached into a drawer and grabbed a tiny disposable trimming razor (which THANKFULLY had a plastic guard built around the blade).

She put the little trimmer up to her lovely head of not-so-much hair and said with a smile, “Look Mama, I can comb my hair like Ariel!”

Of course I looked up at this moment, gasped, and watched the most lovely lock of baby hair fall on the ground as she reached the tiny trimmer back up to her head.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Ninja-mom reflexes kicked in with a mix of horrid panic and thoughts of, “You just let your two year old shave her head!” as I threw the phone on the ground and grabbed the little trimmer.

We all three stared at the chunk of hair for a while. I was in tearful disbelief, and the girls were very insistent that mama should go to get the vacuum to clean up the mess.

Sigh.

The ironic part of it all is I had just glanced at an article about distracted parents and an increase in childhood injuries and thought to myself I was much better fit than all of those parents. Humble pie is not so great to swallow.

Luckily enough for my little lady, her hair color was pretty close to the color of my eyebrow defining pencil. No shame here. It was the least I could do to turn my epic parenting fail into a minor mishap.

Have your children ever gotten themselves into trouble while you were distracted? Please don’t let me think I’m alone in my shortcomings…

Here is the original link to this blog post on the Greeley Tribune.

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/10272548-113/hair-girls-baby-mama

Words from a Joyful Mama’s Heart

I wish some days I was better at dwelling on the happy times with my family and kids–doesn’t it seem like the stresses and challenges get more of our attention than the cheerful moments? I know I am WAY more likely to fall on my knees in prayer and write a heart-felt blog post when I’m weary, but I know our God wants to hear from us often, not just when our hearts are aching for His love.

So after a relatively peaceful and happy weekend filled with minimal time outs, less snot and germs than the days before AND no one running away from me in a grocery store parking lot, I feel compelled to share this simple prayer of thanksgiving with you. My hope is to be able to find some encouragement by rereading this in the future on those days filled with tears and tantrums.  Here’s to focusing on the positives!

Dear Lord,

My heart is full today. I look around and see my healthy children, hear their joyful giggles, smell their sweet strawberry shampoo (and only an occasional poopy diaper) and feel their warm little fingers squeezing my hand.

You made them so perfectly in your image, and you felt compelled to share them with me. You knew just what I needed to teach me the depth of your love for me, and grateful cannot even begin to describe my feelings.

I don’t deserve these sweet children of yours, God. You gave them to me out of your love and mercy, and I pray you can work through all of us as you help me to raise them.

Their smiles light up the room and warm my heart. Their laughter echoes throughout our house and in my mind. Help me not to forget these precious sights and sounds.  Etch them on my heart so I can always remember the joy of small children on the days when I just don’t have the energy to keep going.

Remind me of the joy I feel today, and allow it to refresh and recharge my spirit for the days ahead.

Thank you, Lord, for showering me with blessings in such sweet, small packages.

Amen.

Blog of the Year Award?!

I am excited to be nominated for Blog of the Year 2013!  A big thank you goes to Shannon at A Game of Diapers for the nomination.  Blogging is something I truly love to do, and it feels great to know someone is reading what I write.  In true blog award fashion, I get to share my nominees for the award. Supposedly you can be nominated up to six times for this award, so I thankfully got to add a few of my must-read blogs to my nomination list even though they were nominated by Shannon, too.  They can add more stars to their awards!  Here are my nominees in no particular order:

Me — Who am I?

A Game of Diapers

Space Monkey Twins

Scattered, Smothered and Covered

Momaste

TwinMomLife: A Parenthood Journey

Living, Loving, Learning

Enjoy checking out their blogs! If you do not accept awards or do not have the time to follow up, that’s perfectly fine. I won’t take it personally. Also, to all of the fabulous bloggers I follow and enjoy that I didn’t mention this time around, I appreciate your writing, too. I am so thankful to share a little piece of the blogging world with you. (Thank you, Me — Who am I? for writing such a sweet closing to the blog award you posted a few days ago–I took a note from you here at the end).

Men: 10 Things She Wants You to Know this Valentine’s Day

Husbands and dads, this post is for you.  The role of mom is a tough one. Whether we work outside of the home or stay home full time, it’s a hard job.  Here are a few things we’d like for you to know for Valentine’s Day but probably don’t tell you very often:

 

  1. We’d love an excuse to get dressed up for you.  Yoga pants and work clothes get pretty dull some days, and any chance to put on a cute dress and fix up a little bit is welcomed.
  2. Sometimes we are insecure about our looks after pregnancy and nursing and just time passing in general, and we love to hear you say that we are beautiful.  LOVE it.
  3. We miss those quiet nights of snuggling while watching a movie or getting dinner as just the two of us.  We love the kids and wouldn’t trade our lives for the world, but sometimes it is really nice to have an evening where things are like they used to be, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
  4. We greatly appreciate it when you make even the smallest effort to make plans for us.  We mamas tend to take a planning role all day long, and to have someone else say, “We’re going here to dinner tonight and I’ve already called this sitter,” is music to our ears.
  5. Your touch is the best.  Whether it’s a hand on the small of the back when you get home or brushing a wisp of hair out of our faces, the tiniest little gesture like that means you still see the girl you fell in love with underneath the tired mom we see in the mirror.
  6. All of those little things you do, like moving the trash cans to the curb every week, waking up early to shovel snow or proof reading yet another blog post, mean SO much.  We probably don’t say thank you often enough, but our lives are made so much easier by your servant heart for your family.
  7. Little gifts like flowers and chocolate are nice, but spending time together means more in the long run.  We’d rather have $50 concert tickets than $50 of flowers, especially if the concert can be a kids-free event.
  8. Even a small, thoughtful gesture like waking up early to make breakfast for the family is huge.  It shows that you are considerate and caring, and it warms our hearts.  The small things sometimes matter the most.
  9. Playing with and loving our children speaks volumes about you as a man.  We love to see you loving our babies and taking an active, team-player approach in raising kids.
  10. A man running a vacuum or doing the dishes is so sexy.  Thank you for not living in the 1950’s and being a part of all of the household activities which your father may or may not have done.  It shows your commitment to us and to the family.

 

So guys, I hope this little list can help you come up with a few Valentine’s Day ideas.  A little consideration, a little thought and a lot of love will most likely melt the heart of the woman in your life.  You still have 24 hours to make it happen!

This post was originally published on the Greeley Mom’s page of the Greeley Tribune website:

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/10171183-113/love-family-kids-lives