Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Next American Idol

For your entertainment today, here is Meghan's rendition of "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam."


Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 Day Potty Training: Day 3: Success!

I am just absolutely in shock as to how well the last 3 days have gone. (Once more- for those of you just tuning in, we started the 3 day Potty Training by Lora Jensen on Thursday. Read the previous 3 entries for the entire story). Today is my final installment in this process. Here is today's update:

-Used a TOTAL of 3 panties all day!!!!! (the ONLY accident of the day was when Meghan did a poo in the potty, and then some in her pants a few minutes later. I think she had gotten up before she was done. Otherwise a dry day!) This is opposed to 6 pairs yesterday and 13 on Thursday.

-I used ZERO paper towels in potty clean ups today (as opposed to 1/3 roll yesterday and an entire roll Thursday)

-Both girls told me on their own when they needed to go. Several times, Meghan just went in there on her own! It definitely isn't because I am the one telling them to go, they are telling me.

-For this process, I had two "little potties" and of course the regular toilet. The girls fight over the "big" potty and are not too interested in the little potties!

-We were going to make our first outing in panties today, though I was a bit nervous about it. It was for my niece's birthday party, but Ellie actually came down with a fever so we couldn't go. So, the first outing will be church tomorrow, unless she still has a fever. We shall see. But, we did go out and play in the back yard for a while. They stayed dry!

-They still want to run back and forth to the bathroom over and over, even if they don't need to go, which is tiring, but I think it was a little better than yesterday. I look forward to when they only go in there when they really need to. Makes it hard to do anything else. Plus, I think they are using it as an excuse to get down from their high chairs or to get out of bed once they are down.

-I followed her method completely. The only variation, as mentioned before, is I use pull-ups for nap time and bed time, calling them "bed time panties." All three days, they have stayed dry during nap. I will test the waters a few more days, but I am thinking I don't need the pull-ups at nap! They seem to prefer the "Dora panties" over the "bed time panties." Last night, Meghan woke up fussing at 5 am. I went in and asked if she needed to go potty and she said yes. She was dry and went potty and went back to sleep and stayed dry. Ellie stayed dry the whole night!

So, my judgment at the end of the 3 days is that it works. I recommend it. It is tiring and not exactly "fun", but it gets the job done, way way quicker than with my boys. I wish I had known about this when I trained them. Because of the difficulty in training the boys, I have been dreading potty training the girls since I knew there were two babies coming, hoping they would be easier. The girls are way more potty trained then I really expected them to be at this point. Of course, the term "potty trained" is a bit subjective. To me, "potty trained" is when they can go in the bathroom, go, clean themselves, wash hands and come back out on their own, without me even needing to know they went. That doesn't seem to really happen until about age 5 (at least was the case with both of my boys...). But really, just being out of diapers and keeping panties dry counts too. Good enough for me!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

3 Day Potty Training: Day 2: Progress and Boredom

Sure enough, today went even better! (For all those who are just tuning in, we started potty training the girls using the "3 day potty training method" yesterday. Read the previous 2 posts to be brought up to date). They were much better at telling me when they had to go and/or running to the bathroom on their own when they needed to go. In fact, they really liked running back and forth to the potty- mostly in hopes of getting a reward- whether they needed to go or not. When they go, the method recommends giving them a "silent reward" which is different then a bribe because instead of saying "If you go potty, I will give you..." If they go, you just give it to them. However, this is a little hard with two because if one goes potty and the other sees her get candy, of course that other one wants candy too, and I am left with no choice but to say "If you go potty, you I will give you....." Oh well. At least it encourages them to go. And, I am not above bribery. Whatever works....

But, with all the running back and forth to the potty and still needing to keep a close eye on them, it left virtually no time for anything else today. Which, after two days of not leaving the house and mostly sitting on the floor playing with them and running to the potty over and over and over and over again..... I was a bit bored. But, with the progress made it was worth it. Here are some highlights of the day:

-only went through 6 total pairs of panties between them (compared with 13 yesterday)
-only used 1/3 roll of paper towels in clean up (compared with a whole roll yesterday!)
-they LOVE to flush the toilet- whether they "went" or not. We were BIG water wasters the last couple days...
-I think we are wearing a path between our living room and the bathroom
-Meghan did a poo on the potty- running there herself! Ellie has yet to do so- she didn't even have a poo accidentally which could make tomorrow interesting. Ellie only had one pee accident all day!
-they are staying dry at nap time
-I went to Sam's Club tonight and walked right past the diaper aisle with a smile- not buying any! (By the way- I have a whole pack of Sam's Club size 5 diapers to the first person who says they want them- if you are local to me!)
-When I was clipping coupons to go the store, I clipped a coupon for "little swimmers" then later laughed at the realization I will probably not need to buy them!

We really only had one major accident today and it is funny enough to share. I left the room for just a minute and heard the sound of what I knew was their reward jelly beans rolling all over the floor. I walk in to see sure enough- Ellie had gotten a hold of the jelly beans and spilled them all over. Just as I walked in, she started to pee all over them. So, I rush her to the potty, but it was too late- it all had hit the floor. So, just as I was starting to clean that up, Meghan started to run for the potty because she needed to go, but she didn't quite make it either so she started to go all over the bathroom floor. She also had a mouthful of jelly beans that she had crammed in from when Ellie spilled them (but before she peed on them...). She spit out the jelly beans all over the floor and touched several surfaces with fingers covered in jelly bean juice. So then I had two big puddles to clean up as well as peed on jelly beans that I was trying to get cleaned up before the girls or the dog could eat any of the jelly beans or step in the pee, as well as bathroom surfaces decorated with jelly bean juice. Fun times!

But seriously, other than that, they did beautifully!! I am so proud of them! I am pleasantly surprised at how well this is working so far.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

3 Day Potty Training: Day 1: I'm Exhausted....

So, today was day one of Lora Jensen's 3 Day Potty Training Method. For a more complete description, read the previous post.

Overall, it has gone better than expected! The girls are doing really well with it so far. Here are some of the events/ my thoughts of the day:

-we went through 13 pairs of Dora panties (fewer than I expected, really)
-used 1 entire roll of paper towels in clean up
-I took advantage of our hard wood floors and removed the rug from the living room and the bathroom. Verrrrrry smart....
-Our couch only got peed on once!
-Only two poops in the panties! Meghan made it once in the potty! Yay!!!!!!!
-By late morning, the would tell me when they had to go. Sometimes they would produce something, other times not.
-Several times, they started going in their panties but I was able to get them to the potty to finish going.
-Meghan was initially more willing to go the potty. Ellie seems to have a stronger bladder and is able to hold it longer.
-They did a great job of drinking lots of extra fluids
-I did put a pull-up on at nap time (we "threw away" ALL diapers). I called the pull-ups their "bed-time panties" and encouraged them to keep them dry just like their Dora panties. They stayed dry during nap! But, they were mad at first when I took off the "bed-time panties" and put Dora panties back on. They got over it though- I think part of it was that they weren't ready to wake up from nap yet- it was a short nap.
-I think I have run a mile, going back and forth to the potty with them today.

So, I consider the day a success and am hopeful tomorrow will go even better. I am so proud of them and the progress they made throughout the day. I didn't expect it to begin to "click" this quickly. Hopefully the next couple days will go as well. It is very exhausting though. You really do have to stay on them to watch for signs that they are going/about to go. Part of the key is catching them in the act. I really didn't have time to divert my attention from them long enough to do anything significant. I did no housework until they were napping(though the temptation to nap with them was strong!) I pretty much just sat on the floor and played with them. It was when my attention was diverted (such as making lunch) that they were likely to have an accident. But, even during the most chaotic part of the day- Aaron wasn't home yet, the kids were doing homework and I was trying to start dinner- they came to me and said they had to go potty and they did!

The constant attention to them and running back and forth to the bathroom and cleaning up messes has worn me out. I am exhausted. I will sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

To Potty Train a Two Year old.....or Two....

Before I get on with the point of this post, I just want to say thank you for all the support and prayers and much appreciated comments as I dealt with the passing of my grandfather. It has been very surreal this week. I knew the time for him to move on was coming since he had been sick for a while. I knew I would miss him, but also kind of looked forward to the day when he could be free of his ill body. But, these past few days, as it has become real, I have been surprised by how sad I have been. But, I know that I will see him again someday and I know he is enjoying a wonderful reunion in heaven with those that have gone before. The preacher at the funeral said something I liked. He referred to how we often say that we "lost" someone when they die. He said that we haven't "lost" them because we know where they are (with our Father in Heaven) and we will see them again. I like that. I haven't lost my grandpa- I know where he is. So, thank you to all of you for your support and prayers. And, thank you to Kelly for taking my two wild gals and wearing them out so wonderfully! They had a great time! Also, thank you to Jackie and family for the beautiful flowers you sent to the funeral home and to Amy for the beautiful angel of remembrance- I will surely always remember him when I look at it. My family and friends are the best!

Okay, so on to the main reason for this post.

See these two silly girls?

Tomorrow, we hit potty training hard. The last few weeks, they have been driving me crazy, stripping off their diapers and running around naked. If Ellie poops or pees a lot in her diaper, she will come and tell me so, tell me to change her and consistently follow me around reminding me until I do. If I am not fast enough..... she takes matters into her own hands. This has been surprising to me- so different from my boys- both of which would sit in a poopy diaper all day without complaint until I noticed they needed changed. The boys were 3 1/2 before they were trained. I have been hoping the girls would be different. They are only 2 1/4 years old and, I believe, are telling me they are ready. I am certainly ready to be done with diapers!

A few friends of mine have raved about the 3 day potty training method by Lora Jensen.
They have said it worked for them. I acquired the e-book and I am going to give it a try. After the nightmare of 1+ years with each boy, 3 days sounds nice. The main idea of the method is choosing 3 days in a row when you will be home for the whole 3 days. This is hard for me with two older kids who need to go to school. Not to mention I have a tendency to fill my days with whatever errands I need to run or playgroups I can find. The idea is, while you are home, your child wears only big girl panties and a t-shirt, give them lots to drink, and you stay focused on them. She advises to have laundry caught up (working on that now...) and your household stabilized to focus on the potty training child. Then, when they start to have an accident, you scoop them up and run to the potty. It is centered around all positive reinforcement and encouragement without pressure and keeping your attention focused on them. She suggests getting rid of the diapers completely- even having your child help you throw out the old diapers to emphasize they are now a big girl- and buying 20 pairs of underwear (per child...) so that when they have an accident, you just put on a new pair. So, I bought 35 pairs of Dora panties...
and cleared my schedule for the week-not an easy task (thanks Dad for helping take the boys to school and back the next couple days!). My original plan was to start Monday, but the funeral plans changed all that. But, I still have a few days where I can keep the girls home, so I figure we will still go for it! The only part of the plan I don't agree with is she doesn't recommend using diapers at nap or night time- she believes they can be trained to stay dry while sleeping. I disagree- I feel it is something they cannot be taught, but something that must develop naturally when their bodies are ready. This is why there are some school age children that struggle with saying dry at night. So, I will use pull-ups during nap and night for a while. I am not a fan of pull-ups for day time use- not much different than diapers really. But, for bed times, they will at least reinforce the idea of the "diapers" being gone anyway.

So, I will post updates- maybe daily if I still have the energy after they go to bed (don't think I will have time before they go to bed....). I will give my opinion after the 3 days as to how well it worked. Maybe it will take a few extra days since I will use pull-ups at night? Either way....I can see the "light at the end of the tunnel" for a diaper free world soon!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Kenny with my Grandpa-spring 2007

Last night was a sad evening. My grandfather passed away after a long and painful illness. I have talked on this blog more than once about the fact that I am 31 and still had all of my grandparents still living. I am sad to report that record has been broken.

My grandpa is a fighter who has been sick off and on for years. He has had several strokes and had recovered remarkably well from each one. Early this year, he had another but was able to go home before long. Then, he was back in the hospital with gall bladder issues and it looked like he was headed to gall bladder surgery. However, in testing, they found he had a very aggressive form of Leukemia. There was a very aggressive form of chemo, but the doctors said with his age and health, he would likely die from the chemo and there just wasn't much they could do. So, Grandpa left the hospital under hospice care to my Aunt Margie's house, where he had been living the last several months as his health declined. The doctors had said he probably only had a few weeks to live. This was back in late January. For the past three months, he has been getting steadily sicker and more miserable. I was so sad at the thought of losing him, but also didn't want to see him suffer. For that reason, though I am sad tonight, I also feel a sense of relief, that he is whole again and in no more pain.

My dad called me this evening to say it was looking really bad and he would probably not make it through the night. He said I could come if I wanted, but understood if I didn't. I initially chose not to because I had been blessed with the opportunity to visit him before and tell him I loved him and would miss him. Plus, I was afraid I would be in the way. Then, around 9:30, my dad called me to let me know it was getting worse. I could tell he was really struggling and suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I HAD to get there. I think I left within two minutes of hanging up the phone. When I got there, he was resting peacefully. He hardly looked like the Grandpa I know and I thought that this wasn't fair to him. He was too good of a man to be stuck in that sick body. I could just feel it that he was ready to leave that body behind. Just before 10:15, his breathing changed and he opened his eyes, which seemed glazed and he clearly wasn't looking at anything in the room. I remember having this overwhelming thought that he was asking "okay, I am ready to go, how do I let go." Within a minute or so after that, he stopped breathing and my aunt (who has been caring for him this whole time, even taking a leave of absence from her job as a nurse) and my mom (who is also a nurse) confirmed that he had passed. I remember looking at the clock- about 10:12 or so, when we knew he was going any minute and smiling to myself when I realized the clock was just after 10:10, which is where the time is always set on clocks in catalogs because it looks like they are smiling. I thought that Grandpa and our Heavenly Father were smiling at us telling us he would be okay.

Of course, everyone was in tears (myself included), but I thought to myself with an inner chuckle that Grandpa was probably in the middle of the room looking at all of us and saying, "Why is everyone so sad, I finally feel great!!!" It was so heartbreaking when my grandma broke down in sobs. They have been married 63 years and I can only imagine the pain she was feeling. There was a large amount of family surrounding him. I remember being impressed that there were so many there, yet the mood was so reverent and respectful and quiet even when I first got there. I never did count, but as my memory serves, I think there was about 17 people there. It was truly an honor to be there beside his bed as he journeyed home.

I will miss him dearly, but I am thankful he is at peace. He was an amazing man and I never doubted his love for us. I am grateful that I was able to spend some time with him during this last year. I have many examples, but there are two that stand out most in my mind. First, last August, I drove him and my dad, along with my two girls to a family reunion in southern Ohio.He marveled over my girls and we all had such a great time together. It was a long trip and I don't drive well with long distances. I kept him talking because it helped me stay awake. Plus, maybe I knew my time with him was limited and I wanted to hear his stories more than ever. That day meant so much to me.

Second, in January, when he was diagnosed with the terminal Leukemia, I went to see him, fearing it would be the last time. I told him I loved him and as I left, I was really having trouble holding back the tears. I turned to look at him as I walked out and saw he was crying. I have always known he loves me, but I felt it stronger in that moment then ever before. Needless to say, there wasn't a dry eye in the room when I hugged him again.

Tonight, he was not awake when I got there, but my mom said she was sure he could hear me. I told him I was there and that I loved him and I could see him move his head toward me a little, so I am sure he heard.

This post has been long already, but I really wanted to get all this down, mostly for myself, as a way to process it all and be sure I didn't forget anything. But, I am going to continue writing because I want tell the world just a little about this amazing man.

He was born January 17th, 1927 (so, today he is 82 years old.) He has been married to my Grandma for 63 years. The first picture below was taken in the late 1950's. The second was taken November 2000. I love this first picture and wish I could go back in time and talk to them and hear about their life then.
They have 3 children, 7 grandchildren, 11 great-grand children and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Here he is with my grandma and behind them are their 3 children (Debbie, my dad, and Margie)
He has always been a hard worker and my dad tells of times he would work more than 24 hours in a stretch just to provide the basics for the family- usually without eating himself. He always did so without complaining- even when times got tough. My grandmother spent several months hospitalized due to illness and he stayed beside her in a way many men would not- visiting her daily in addition to work and doing whatever he could to care for her. He is the true example of loving and commitment "in sickness and in health."

In world war II, he was in the Navy and served on the USS Anderson. in 1946, the ship was bombed and he was one of 3 to survive. ALL of the other crew died in the bombing. My dad has told stories of him having to help pull those that killed out of the water- a very gruesome task.

He was a man who believed in hard work, who loved his family and would do anything- even at his own expense- to help someone who needed him. He loves his children and grandchildren and always loved to spend time with them. He loved the Lord and always strived to do his best at everything he did. He was an amazing father, grandfather, husband and person. He will be missed.

In closing, I have not been able to stop thinking of the following hymn, so I will include the verse here:

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, Till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus feet,
Till we meet, Till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Fun!

I absolutely LOVE Easter. My favorite holiday is Christmas, but it is closely followed by Easter. Today was wonderful. We went to church as usual and heard some wonderful Easter messages and beautiful music and then had dinner with my family. The weather was bright and sunny and cool- about 55 degrees- not bad at all! It was really fun to be a parent and enjoy the fun with the kids as well as introducing them to the beautiful meaning of Easter. I just had to post the festivities!

On Saturday, April 4th, the Mothers of Twins Club I am in hosted an Easter egg hunt. This was a first for the girls- They were just too little last year. The boys always get excited to do them. It was sooooo cold- only in the upper 30's, but it was sunny and that made it okay.

And yesterday, we colored eggs! This is always a hit. I always loved doing this growing up. I was a little nervous about involving the girls, but they did really well. The only "tragedy" was when Ellie grabbed the cup of orange and knocked it off, shattering the glass. I cried out not from anger but because it startled me. What a mess-but funny at the same time. I didn't think to get that picture until it was cleaned up. Note Ellie's orange sleeve and hand below.

Ellie kept wanting to explore the egg dye this way. Thank goodness the package said "non-toxic"...

Then, before going to bed, we made the "Easter Story Cookies." They don't taste totally wonderful, but they are fun to make and there are scriptures you read as you go along. It was an awesome and memorable way to share the Easter story with them. Get the recipe here. They are actually kind of hollow inside when they are done- signifying the empty tomb!

Last night, the Easter bunny visited! The last couple of years I was faced with a dilemma. When I was young, my parents (ahem...the Easter Bunny...) always put the hard-boiled eggs we colored in our baskets and then hid them in the house for us to find in the morning. I (I mean, the Easter bunny...) wanted to hide them before going to bed- but I can't just leave the eggs in the basket over night... So, I asked my mom what they did. They actually left the eggs in the baskets all night!!!! Ewwww..... she reminded me that this was 20 + years ago before there was all the study on food safety. Yet, surprisingly- I don't remember us ever getting sick from eating eggs left out all night. So, our solution was to keep the eggs in the refrigerator until the Easter Bunny got up early before the kids and then put the eggs in the basket and hid the baskets and then went back to bed. That silly Easter Bunny hid Kenny's basket really well! After much searching he finally found it IN THE DRYER!! Crazy bunny......

Happy Easter Everyone!!!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Girls Night Out

Last night, my friend Abbey hosted an awesome girls night. She had it at her house and the plan was to watch a movie and have a "sundae bar." Check out this spread...Everyone brought their favorite topping- my donation was the Reese's cups... (oh ya!)
We actually never made it to the movie- we just talked the whole night! We started at 8:30 and didn't stop until we left at 12:30 am! Here is the crew:
From left to right: Me (bad picture, yes...), Jen, Abbey, Autumn, Rachel. Thanks to Abbey's man, Ross, for braving the room full of women to snap a picture for us!

It was truly awesome to hang out with these wonderful women and get to know them a little better. One thing I have learned during the past several years is the importance of girl friends in my life. I need them as much as anything else! I have been blessed with friends close by and some who are far away but they are all so special to me and I thank God everyday for them.

Thanks, Abbey for hosting a wonderful night and for the ice cream!

Monday, April 6, 2009

To "Cubby"

Today is a very special day! It is Jacob's birthday!! I can not believe he is 6 years old. Aaron started the nickname "Cubby" the day he was born. I resisted it at first, but now I love it and it has stuck- he is our "Cubby!" We celebrated his party with the family on Saturday. Again, my sister Emily was so kind to offer up her house since our house just really isn't big enough for more than a couple extra people. We had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner at his request. Kraft macaroni for him (and other picky kids) and homemade macaroni for everyone else. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he said "green." I thought, okay-that is nice and easy- just color white cake mix. Then he said "and red and blue and yellow and orange...." So, this is what we did. When I finished and showed him, he said "Yes! That is just how I wanted it!" I love it when I make him happy!
Here he is blowing out his candles with his cousins, Kurtis and Joey nearby.
And then, of course, time for presents!!!!! He got lots of cool things!

Kenny drew him a cool picture and here my dad shows him the fun police truck he bought!

And he got lots of star wars figurines (anything star wars is a hit!) and a star wars wii game (yes- we gave into the dark side and got a wii with Aaron's bonus check!!) He also got a Jenga game, more star wars figurines and the movie "Bolt."

Today, of course, he had to go to school still, but he did get to take more multi-colored cupcakes and juice boxes to share with his class. Then, even though we had already had his party, we still made it a fun night. We has spaghetti for dinner (at his request) with left over cupcakes for dessert. Then, we changed into our pajamas and watched his new movie and ate popcorn! So, definitely a very good day.I am so proud of Jacob. He is such a cool kid. He is doing such an amazing job in Kindergarten and is growing just way too fast. Happy Birthday, Cubby! We love you!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Fever

I find the lyrics to this Johnny Nash song to be very appropriate today.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Look all around, there’s nothin' but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies.

Note the green grass and the sprouting lillies...

This is looking out my front door and across the street. See the buds on the small tree and the white sprouts on the tree across the street? You can't see the blue sky (which is very blue today) but you can see the shadows demonstrating how bright the sun is.

This and the 60 degree temperatures mean SPRING IS HERE!!!!