Saturday, October 26, 2013

Three Little Girls

Once upon a time three little girls were born.

The first came to a family who already had four children of their own but felt someone was missing. To them she was a miracle. Her name was Berkley.

The second came to a family who wondered if they would be able to have more children. To them, she too was a miracle. Her name was Brylee.

The third came to a family at a very unexpected time, a time when her family needed an extra person to love. She, of course, was a miracle. Her name was Makyla.

Three beautiful baby girls. Three miracles. All born within one month of each other. All cousins.

Brylee, Berkley, Makyla.

These baby girls started to grow and three distinct personalities began to develop.

Poor Brylee had a huge bump on her forehead in this picture. Makyla was not loving this.

One was a cowgirl (Brylee):

One was a diva (Makyla):

Is this hilarious or what?? I love it!!!

Who says divas need panties? LOL! Is this the cutest picture?

And one. . . well, she's a little bit of everything (Berkley):

-Volleyball Player

 -Knight Rider



-Carmel Apple Taster

-Fashion Designer

Love this!!! When this girl gets herself dressed, I smile clear to my toes!

-Soccer Player?

Sometimes the girls were best of friends. . .

Sometimes two of them at a time played really well together. . .

Makyla and Berkley

Berkley and Brylee

Makyla and Brylee

. . . AND sometimes two of them at a time got in A LOT of trouble together. And I mean A LOT!

Like this past weekend when we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa's home in Cokeville. That is when these two innocent-looking two-year-olds decided to wreak total havoc every time their mothers got together to catch up on what had been going on in their lives (and might have, sort of forgotten for a few moments they had two-year-olds they should be keeping a close eye on).

Oh, I know they look incredibly, adorably innocent and sweet, but oh goodness, what trouble they can get into!!!
It all started when one mother (me) kept ignoring that nagging little voice inside her head that kept saying, you should probably go check on your daughter--she might be getting into mischief. Although this mother has been around the block a few times and knows this is a voice not to be ignored, she was in desperate need of a break and was so enjoying the carefree moments in the overstuffed chair in her mother's living room and so decided instead to go with the motto, The luxury of this moment is worth whatever mess I will have to clean up later.

What this unwise woman may have forgotten to take into account in her blissful state was that her little two-foot tornado might be doing something that affected others as well as herself.

Like unraveling an entire scarf her mother had knitted.

Or chewing an entire package of her mother's gum.

All while her daughter's partner-in-crime (not mentioning any names but it's that beautiful little girl in the green sweater on the right up there) wrote checks in her mother's checkbook.

That's right. These little girls went through my mother's purse! They emptied the entire thing and did as much damage as two little people can do in a few minute's time. My sister Katie and I tried covering up the whole fiasco before our mother found out (naughty, I know), but it's not like we could just knit up another scarf or unchew some gum! Therefore we found ourselves in trouble right along with our little girls, and all we could do was apologize. When you're guilty, you're guilty. We promised to do a better job of taking care of our children and put the purse back together the best we could.

Shaking our heads we plopped back in our easy chairs and resumed our conversation, chuckling to ourselves at how naughty little children can be. It wasn't long, however, until our chuckles turned to frustration when we realized our little girls were unaccounted for once again. Katie told me not to worry because she had just seen them five minutes ago, but I jumped to my feet anyway. This time we found them in the bathroom. I ran in and saw this. . .

Sorry it's blurry, but you get the idea.

The tub was being filled with every kind of bubbles and cleaners these two rascals could find. They were opening and dumping as quickly as they could. I could hardly believe my eyes! I mean, seriously, these two could not be trusted together!

Thankful my mother was not around, Katie and I got busy cleaning up.

She had a better attitude about it than I did, let me tell you. I must say it took a lot of rinsing to get rid of all those bubbles. I am not sure when my mother will realize she is a little short on bubble bath, but I'm sure it will become apparent at some point. We shut all doors to all rooms and promised ourselves we would watch our girls like hawks this time.

Again, they got the best of us, however. Not much later, we realized we had no idea where they were (I'm sure you're wondering by now how either of us could possibly be the mothers of five children; believe me when I say these two little ones really gave us a run for our money this particular weekend). We started searching high and low but could not find them. As you know, a terrible feeling starts welling up in your gut when such a search begins, especially when the children are so young. I told myself not to panic as we searched every inch of the house and went out in the yard as well. I opened the garage and searched there but found nothing. Katie was hunting outside but having no luck. It was when I closed the garage door that I thought I heard something. I opened it again and that's when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

These two little munchkins squealed and plopped down behind the back seat of my grandfather's car to hide from me. They had escaped the house and gone into the garage and into my grandpa's car! And now they were purposely hiding from me. I could not believe it! We could have searched for a very long time because I would never have thought to look for them there. I was so grateful to have found them and so dumbfounded that they had done that. Talk about mischievous, clever little girls!

It was when we were helping clean up the basement only an hour or so later when we found a stuffed Pound Puppy with suspicious-looking slits all over it that we realized our girls had also performed surgery with some nearby scissors on this poor homemade dog! My eyes as big as saucers, I watched Katie hide the scissors and realized with dismay that it might be my last welcomed visit home to see my parents in a while.

It had not been a good day to say the least. Katie and I looked at each other and didn't even know what to say. I was pretty sure I knew who the instigator to all the mischief was and she was pretty sure she knew who had willingly followed her lead. One thing we knew for certain these two little girls had had too much fun together for one day (It turns out some miracles bring stress and a lot of hard work along with the joy!)

You might be wondering what the third little girl had been doing all this time. After all, she lives in Cokeville, too, and her mother was right upstairs with Katie and I. Well, I hate to admit it, but she was playing innocently by her mother upstairs in the living room the entire day. That's right. Apparently Brylee prefers a little less drama, a little less mischief and a lot less trouble than the Berkley and Makyla.

At the end of the day, Katie and I were just hoping this was not a sign of things to come for our girls. After all, when your children are fortunate enough to have, not only one, but two best friends--cousins even--their very same age to grow up with and play with and have fun with and learn with and love, you hope with all your heart they can bring out the best in each other.

And besides, we are hoping this story ends with ". . . and they all lived happily ever after" (even for the Moms)!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The 12 Steps to Potty Training--Or Are There 13?

One of my main goals this summer was to potty-train Berkley. I know, not on the top ten list of how to have a "not bummer summer," but hey, it had to get done some time, right? And although I was pretty sure summertime wasn't the ideal time to do it since it would be hard to keep my eye on this busy little two-year-old, I felt highly motivated to have her trained by the time school started again and I was teaching preschool.

Now before I go any further, there's probably something you should know about me. Okay, there are two things you should know about me. First--I absolutely hate potty training. I mean HATE. When I first find out I am going to have a baby, after the initial excitement has had a moment to light up my soul, inevitably the very next minute I feel a surge of gloom that one day I'm going to have to potty train this child! Ridiculous, I know. I'm embarrassed to even type the words on this entry, but that's just how much I hate the discouraging, exhausting, messy, patience-testing, grueling, yet necessary chore of potty training.

Second--I'm not sure if it's because of the fact or in spite of the fact I hate it so much, but in either case, I am completely anal about how I go about potty training my children (the poor souls), meaning that I put everything else in my life on hold and go for it with all my gusto. All four of my older children were potty-trained by the time they were two, except for Regyn, who was so advanced in her speaking that I decided she could master it at 18 months, and she did! Yes, 18 months. It was two weeks of complete insanity. We spent nearly every waking hour on the toilet. She was so young she just did not understand what in the world I wanted her to do while on the toilet, but I was so determined that if she could relax and pee just once, she was smart enough to do it again and again, that I finally set up a small television in our bathroom and put in her favorite video, "Babe" (you know, that show about the pig who thinks he is a dog?). Turns out I was right! She got watching that pig chase those sheep and relaxed and went potty and wa la! She was potty trained less than a week later! Now, does that sound like total insanity or what?

But, here I was with child number five and I am glad to admit I was feeling a bit more mello. Berkley had already broke my streak of being potty-trained by the age of two because she was two and a couple of months, and we hadn't even started. Whew! It actually felt good to have that pressure off my shoulders. I mean, some streaks are meant to be broken, right? Even if they are your own streaks and you are the only one who cares about them in the first place. Anyway, knowing Berkley's strong personality and her determination to do things her own way, I was pretty certain I knew how this potty training thing was going to go, and it wasn't going to go my way. So I kept putting it off with one excuse after another.

Finally, I ran out of excuses. School was only three weeks away, and my deadline was fast approaching. Realizing this child was probably not going to be fully potty-trained by the time I hoped, I decided to slowly start anyway. So I put her in panties one day.

Now, here is what I have learned about potty training. It takes about 12 steps and the first ones are v e r y slow.

Step 1-Put underwear on the child (This may seem too small to deem a step, but some children are very much against underwear and would prefer to wear diapers until the end of time. So this is definitely a step).

Step 2-The child keeps underwear on for at least half the day. (Again, a small step, but a step. After the child has peed his/her pants 5-6 times before it's even 10:00 a.m. you will realize that keeping underwear on the child until noon is a big accomplishment).

Step 3-The child keeps underwear on for the whole day. (Notice I haven't even mentioned staying dry for any amount of time yet. I'm only noting the accomplishments of the caregiver for not giving up yet! If you can handle changing wet and poopy underwear all day without reverting back to a diaper, you have mastered step 3! Now go get some ice cream--you deserve it!)

Step 4- The child sits on the potty. (Again, may seem like a small step, but some children are scared of that big white thing and they fight like crazy to not have to sit there. Berkley would be one example. That girl arched her back and fought like a tiger. It took two of us to get her to sit there the first time. It was a very big step and no easy accomplishment, let me tell you.)

Step 5-The child stays dry for at least an hour. (Yes, progress! The child is beginning to hold it for a small amount of time. You have to take your child potty every hour, but still, there is hope).

Step 6-The child stays dry for three hours now. You are still taking your child potty every couple of hours, but he/she will stay dry in between.

Step 7-The child begins telling you when he/she needs to go potty! (Major progress!! Yes! This potty training thing isn't so bad after all. I mean, you can leave the house now, Mom. Whoopee!).

Step 8- The child starts wetting his/her pants again for no reason at all (Not so fast, Mom. I swear, just when you think you are getting somewhere, the child always regresses).

Step 9-The child actually starts pooping in the potty now, too! (Happy dance day! I mean seriously, what is better than your child pooping in the potty?)

Step 10-The child starts staying dry during nap time. (Yea! No diapers during naps. The end is nearing. You can feel it)

Step 11-The child can pull down his/her own pants and climb on the regular potty without help (Still needs help wiping, of course, but this is pretty great, wouldn't you say?)

Step 12-The child starts staying dry at night. (This is when you really wonder if it's possible your potty training days might be over and there will be no need for diapers any more. Sometimes it means you are pregnant again:)

So, that's it--the 12 Steps to Successful Potty Training. Oh wait, how could I forget? The final step. . .

Step 13-The child can finally go to the bathroom independently and stay dry all night. (Yes! You did it! You fully potty-trained a child! You deserve an award or a vacation or at least a very long nap.)

Now, if you are lucky, you might skip over a step or two, or maybe master a couple of them in one day. I wasn't so lucky. At least not at first. Berkley really hated the potty. And she didn't want to wear panties. And she did nothing but pee and poop her pants all day long at first, just as I had predicted. There was a part of me that wanted to be lazy and simply put it off (which is totally not my personality, or at least it didn't used to be), but thankfully, a different part of me told me to be patient and persevere. So I did.

We definitely had a few mishaps. . . like the time we were at my in-laws and Berkley came upstairs with her poop on a pancake turner from the Pottery Barn play kitchen they have in their playroom downstairs (we ended up scrubbing poop out of the carpet and off some toys after that one). Thankfully, the years have taught me to laugh more. Had that been Hallee, I would have stomped my feet and cried. But we all had a good laugh, and then I even had the thought to snap a picture before we cleaned her up.

This is a common sight during potty-training--me cleaning a bum. Good thing I love this little girl so much!
I walked in on toilet paper everywhere, poop everywhere and other disasters as well (that I only wish I would have had a camera near for) throughout the process. It was far from easy and far from anything I would ever call "fun," but I can happily report we are on step #11of the Potty Training Steps, and it feels pretty good. In the end, Berkley was far sweeter and more teachable than I ever thought she would be. All I know is that no matter how many books are written on the subject, my opinion is, it's never easy. It takes patience, courage, hard work, stamina, perseverance, a little insanity and a lot of humor. Oh, and let's not forget love.

Cause I definitely love this little girl!