Friday, July 07, 2017

Potty-Training for the Tenth Time, Plus Some Advice at the End

Nathan turned 20 on June 24, which means that I have now been changing diapers for over 20 years straight.  There was never a time where everyone was potty-trained before the next baby came along.  We've had 2 in diapers quite a few times, but never 3, so that was nice.  Still--that's a lot of diapers, and frankly, I am ready to retire.

All that required was for me to convince Verity, and she has not been very interested in the potty!  She has sat on it several times over the past 6 months, but she rarely produced anything at all.  I knew she was ready, however, because when we drove back from Ohio on June 22, she was dry in the car.  I changed her diaper before we left, but she was dry at our lunch stop, so I didn't change her.  At 3:00, we stopped at a gas station, and she was still dry as a bone.  I told her she needed to pee so I could change her then, because we weren't making another stop, and then I went inside with the other girls to use the rest room.  When I came back out, Verity told me she had peed, and she had!  So obviously anyone with that kind of awareness and holding capability should be ready to be potty-trained!

 She's also been dry in the mornings pretty consistently, so we did a "soft start" to potty-training on Nathan's birthday.  And lo and behold, she peed in the potty right off the bat!  The older girls got her excited about wearing panties, so she picked out a pair (we have approximately a million 2T/3T pairs of varying designs) and wore them happily.  She did have an accident later on, but she did pretty well for the first day.  She wore a diaper for church and for anywhere else we were out the next few days, but she again did really well, with really only one or two other pee accidents.

The only problem was that she wouldn't poop on the potty.  She had one poopy accident in her panties (bye-bye Princess Tiana panties--I never liked your movie very much anyway, and I am DONE swishing out poopy panties in the potty, now that no one is following behind . . .), and then she just pooped at night in her diaper (or at the pool in her swim diaper once--oops).
 We tried to encourage longer sitting sessions on the potty, with Luke watching many animal videos on his phone with her, and Grace reading her books, but no dice.  Verity also was never interested in trying the actual big toilet, either.
Then we went to Aunt Rose's house for the weekend.  I didn't pack her little potty, and since she had never peed, much less pooped in a big toilet, I kept her in diapers (or swim diapers) all weekend long. But this big girl was dry as a bone!  And she peed like a champ on the big toilet the whole time!  But she pooped in her diaper, instead of going on the toilet.  Ah well.

Then, on the Fourth of July, we had a breakthrough!  She pooped on the little potty not once, but twice!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!  

It was not all sunshine and roses, however.  While we were at the L's house, watching fireworks, she pooped on their toilet-and then decided to take matters into her own hand, as far as getting off and then wiping herself.  It was not pretty.  Thankfully Linda caught her before she came out to look for me, so the damage was contained!  

Since then, she has had no more accidents, and she is wearing panties full time.  We're still not out of the woods entirely with the whole poop thing, though.  She didn't go at all yesterday or today, and she'll just complain that her tummy hurts. I'm sure she's got some backlog from the stress of it all, so we're hitting that hard with extra fiber and water!  And I'm still putting her in a diaper at night and even sometimes when we go places (like to Bible study tonight) until everything works its way through.  And Verity is still enamoured with our panty selection, so she changes them frequently, even without needing to.  She also must like the look of them on her, because she's taken to not wearing anything else BUT panties around the house.  If you stop by to visit, don't be surprised if a cherub wearing only princess panties greets you at the door!

But I think I can pretty much say I am finished with diapers!  Wow!  I never dreamed that diaper-changing would be what I would become a world-class expert in, but there it is.  I wonder how long it will take for my skills to become rusty?

So what are some final potty training tips from someone who has done it more times than most?
1.  Wait until they are closer to 3.  
2. But make sure that they are really owning it mentally, because like pretty much everything else, if the child doesn't really want to be potty-trained, then you are fighting a losing battle.  One way to motivate them, especially if a younger baby is in your family, is to really play up the differences between "big kids" and babies.  Constantly reiterate what the bigger kid can do that the baby doesn't get to do, but always point out that as long as the kid wears a diapers/he is technically a baby, since that's what little baby sibling or friend baby wears.  In conjunction with that, figure out what motivates the kid, and tell him/her that is only for big kids who wear underwear.  Chewing gum, getting toenails painted--that sort of thing.  Whatever really lights their fire and might make them think it is worth it to wear underwear and interrupt what they are doing to go sit on a cold toilet to eliminate waste.  This kind of psychological reasoning can be why it works to wait until the kid is a little closer to 3 than 2, often.
3.  Try to make it low stress on you and them, as if you don't really care if this happens or not, it just might be nice for them to be a big kid so they get all these big kid privileges, you know?  This is probably easier to do when you are NOT dealing with kid #1, and all the attention is on him.  But like I did with Verity, set him on a potty, reward with M&Ms or whatever liberally, and then put the diaper back on if he's not real interested.  Then after a while of that, then work on wearing underwear, knowing that there will be a few accidents at first. But don't set up expectations for yourself that it will only take a day!  or whatever.  Because it might not (or maybe you'll get lucky), and if you are expecting that, then it's very easy to get totally discouraged.  Expect a month!  
4.  Potty-training is easier in summer simply because there are less clothes to take off or put on, and no one gets cold if they run around naked or just with underwear on.
5.  Like all kid phases, this one doesn't usually last all that long either, even though it seems like you will be dealing with accidents for the rest of your life while you are in the thick of it.  Even if it is tricky for an entire month, that's really not that long in the whole scheme of things (and obviously with special needs, this doesn't apply!).  Like one friend said, no one's kid goes off to college wearing diapers.  They'll get it!
6.  Oh!  My trick for boys, which came from Elizabeth L., who got it from her mother-in-law, who raised 4 boys:  sit little boys on the potty facing backwards!  Then their legs are spread wide enough that everything points down and goes into the toilet, plus they can hold onto the tank for support, so they don't feel like they are going to fall in!  This is a LIFESAVER if you don't want to be dealing with puddles of pee in the front of your toilet and in your little boy's underwear and pants because he didn't sit far enough back/legs far enough apart. 

That's all I can think of right off the bat.  I've always said I would rather go through labor and delivery than potty-training, so I must say I am thrilled to have this basically behind me!  Yay!  I should go out and celebrate with all the extra money we will now have in our budget without diapers and wipes!  Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Weekend at the Lake!

The kids had a swim meet Saturday morning, which took approximately forever, as swim meets do, but afterwards, we drove up to visit Bob's sister and her 2 daughters at their beautiful house on the lake! We got there in time for a late dinner, and then bed, because Sunday was a busy day!
 Rose was having a graduation party for her daughter Maddie Sunday afternoon, so we spent the morning helping decorate (which involved fighting over big balloons, if you were in the younger set) and get food ready.
 After most things were ready, Maddie took the kids out on the boat.  Their dog Tucker went along too.  Spending time with Tucker is another thing the kids really look forward to doing at Aunt Rose's house!  You can also see what a gorgeous day it was, weather-wise.  Just beautiful!
 The kids are eating some "walking tacos", except theirs got dumped out on a plate for (hopefully) less mess.  You take a small bag of Doritoes, crush them up a bit in the bag, open the top, spoon in some meat and other taco toppings, and then eat.  Yum!  There were lots of other dips, fruit, chicken, potato and macaroni salads, etc., and a nice cake.  All delicious!
 Here are the 2 cousin graduates, born just a month apart!
 The kids did some paddle-boating during the party.
 Verity and Aunt Rose
 Two boys, happy to be at the lake!
Even Bob and I went paddle-boating!  That's more my speed, lol.
I was able to get in a lot of reading as well, finishing 2 murder mysteries this weekend, both by Jeanne Dams, in her Dorothy Martin series.  Perfect for a relaxing weekend!
 By 7:00 there were really a lot of people there because the lake association was putting on fireworks over the lake when it got dark.  We watched in amazement as the highway sides filled with pickup trucks, and people came from everywhere to line the lake.  We had the best seats though, because they shot the fireworks off literally across the street from Rose's house, just a hundred yards away.  We all just sat on a blanket in the front yard and watched the show!  And it was an amazing show, really.  Thirty minutes long!  We thought a few times that they were having the big finale, but no, it just kept on going!  Verity was scared at first, but then she sat in Bob's lap, and gradually she relaxed and enjoyed them.  If you ask her about them, she'll tell you they were "pitty".  It was really neat to be practically underneath them.  When they actually were done--we just turned around, went into Rose's house, and put the kids to bed!  How great is that!  We will never watch more convenient fireworks ever!

Monday morning, Bob and I took a very long walk around the lake.  We walked for over an hour, and we only got about halfway around!  I love looking at the various houses and cottages.  Some of them are so neat!
 When we got back, everyone played a rousing game of slip-n-slide kickball (well, I documented it from a comfortable shady perch on the trampoline with Verity, along with Micah and Drew at various times).

 Jonathan took this picture.  Note the artsy slant, lol.
 This was our view off the other side of the trampoline.  Very relaxing!  Micah and I played "shapes in the clouds" for awhile.
 After the game was done, everyone swam in the lake for a bit before we had to pack up and leave for home.
But not without taking a picture, of course!  We had such a nice weekend, and it was really special to be there to celebrate Maddie graduating.  The kids are ready to go back up there this next weekend.  Drew especially was *quite* disappointed that we weren't going to be there for the fireman's parade (which is next weekend, along with the 5k), like we were last year.  I think the candy they threw was the biggest draw though . . . maybe next year!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Catching Up--Ohio Visit


 Two Fridays ago, we woke up early and drove up to WSS to see the girls on the zipline.  We picked them up and then continued on to Ohio, where everyone was happily reunited!
 We did lots of fun things, like play in this sprinkler that Uncle Jim bought to save Grandpa's grass from the blow-up pool!
 Grandpa drove people around in the Model A.
Uncle Jim grilled him famous flank steak for Father's Day with Grandpa.
Many chalk art masterpieces were drawn on the driveway.  Aren't Faith and Elia cute in their matching dresses?  The dresses are their "Grandma/Grandpa camp" matching dresses!
We made delicious shaved ices with Grandpa's new shaved ice machine, a Father's Day present from Bob.
We made the obligatory trip to Youngs.  The girls played miniature golf, and then I met them with the littles for lunch and ice cream.

Micah enjoyed watching funny golf videos with Uncle Jim!
Gymnastics happened, as usual.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to Emily and Elia, Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, who all flew out last Wednesday.
We had such a fun time together!

After they left, we were able to meet friends at a park for a play date (and mom chat date!), and then we all went over to Amy's house for the afternoon.  It was a great visit, but much too short, as usual.

The trip was only marred by me hobbling around like a little old woman, having seriously strained my back/knocked my hips out of whack the Wednesday before we left.  I spent more time stretching in the week we were in Ohio than I have probably all year!  Growing old is not for wimps!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nasal Mystery

For some reason, once our formal school year is over, everything seems to fall apart for us, health-wise, and we end up making a ton of trips to Bethesda, even though we've hardly made any the whole rest of the year.  Last year is was Jonathan's big lump of infection on his head after camping, and then his Lyme disease.  This year we've had the bout with strep, as well as Jonathan's reaction to the antibiotics, and Drew's infected finger.

I thought we were out of the woods, but then another . . . issue . . . came to our attention.  Micah smelled funny.  When we were packing up from camping, I noticed that his pillow (a penguin Pillowpet) smelled bad.  Well, I couldn't remember the last time I washed it, and we had just been camping, so it got washed.  But it still smelled, so it got washed a second time.

Eventually we noticed that it was more than his pillow.  Micah himself just sort of smelled off.  We couldn't pinpoint exactly where it came from, but I encouraged more showers, better potty hygiene, better teeth brushing, more use of mouthwash, etc.  Yesterday we were swimming in the pool, and Micah was around me.  I could smell this smell, and I realized that we were in a pool, for Pete's sake--all I should have been able to smell was chlorine!  What on earth was causing this smell?!?  As I was helping him brush his teeth, it finally dawned on me that the smell was actually coming from his nose--every time he exhaled, it smelled so foul. It had definitely gotten worse over the past 3 weeks, and now you couldn't avoid noticing the smell if you were anywhere near him, and he breathed out!

I googled "bad smell from nose", and the main thing that came up was a sinus infection.  But Micah wasn't running a fever, or having copious amounts of nasty green snot, or any other symptom of any sinus infection I've ever known.  I went ahead and made an appointment for 11:00 this morning.

The pediatrician was pretty sure Micah had a "foreign object" in his left nostril.  She couldn't clear out the nostril to see better, so she sent us over to ENT.  After waiting quite awhile, a resident called us back.
She set Micah up in this fancy chair, inserted a "nasal speculum" into his nostril (did you even know there was such a thing?), put on a head lamp, and peered inside.  She felt like there was something in there as well, so she got this suction tube.  First she put on a small nozzle thing, but that didn't work, so she went to the larger nozzle.  That also didn't work, so she asked for these long "nasal tweezers".  Then she pulled out this . . . thing:
It was a piece of foam, about 1 1/2 inches long!  It looked like delivering a small baby from his nose, lol.  Micah was remarkably cooperative during this whole procedure, but after she pulled it out, his nose started bleeding, which freaked him out, although we got it stopped quickly.  

So as we were making our follow-up appointment for 2 weeks from now, Micah asked me, "Mom, how did that big piece of foam get all the way up into my nose?"  Ummm, yes--that is the question of the hour!  I guess it will remain a mystery, because if Micah himself has no clue, then I doubt anyone else will be able to figure it out either!  I can't believe he didn't feel that something was up there, but he never once complained about anything.  He did tell the doctor that he had been having headaches kind of above his nose.  Also, we had noticed that he had started snoring.  Well, no wonder, with his left nostril almost clogged by a huge piece of foam!  I've been wracking my brain for where whitish foam is.  Caleb mentioned the foam pit at gymnastics, but Micah hasn't been to a foam pit for a long time--months, for sure.  I do think he must have fallen into foam, though.  Micah has never been one to stick things up his nose deliberately, and if he had noticed something go up his nose, I think he would have been alarmed and told me!  But I guess it will remain unsolvable.  I will say, regardless of where the foam came from, I am SO GLAD that it is out!  Micah already smells way better!  I will be quite happy if I never have to smell that particular smell again.  It reminded me of what I smelled like when I had my uterine infection after Drew's birth.  Learn something new every day, that's for sure.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Scattered in All Directions

Sunday morning we all scattered in different directions!  Luke and Bob were the first to leave.  They flew out at 8:15 for Luke's college orientation Sunday afternoon and Monday.  Nathan got up early to drive them to the airport, which was nice.

The rest of us got ready to leave around 8:30 to drive up to WSS, and, for my parents, Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Faith, and Elia, on to Ohio as well!  The youngers and I drove up there for the day so we could drop off Anna, Grace, and Emily to Camp Caleb, but then we came back.  Caleb, Jonathan, and Nathan stayed back here to hold down the fort and go to church.

My mom had this great idea of having us all stop at WSS and eating Sunday dinner there.  Aunt Claire had been to the old hotel, but not Uncle Jim, and neither one had ever been to the new hotel.  Emily and Elia had never been either, but Dan also worked here during the summers, and it's a special place to him.
Faith and Elia rode with the 3 littles and me up there, and as we were getting close, Elia said, "My dad talks about White Sulphur Springs, but I don't even know what it looks like!"  Well, now she and Emily can't say that anymore!  We stopped at the old hotel first, and we got the obligatory picture of the kids on the wagon.  The counselors for Camp Caleb were all at Harrison House, waiting to be taken up to Camp Caleb with their gear, and I heard one of them say, "My family has SO MANY family pictures taken on that wagon!"  Us too!
Then we headed up to Heritage House, where we had lunch.  Mom and Dad were borne off by friends they hadn't seen in years, along with Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, to sit at one table, and all the kids sat at another table--so that left me to sit with Amanda L., who is up working in the nursery all summer!  We had a lovely visit, only interrupted a few times by spills and the need for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the kids table.
The crew heading to Ohio pulled out after lunch, but the rest of us had a few hours before we needed to check in the girls.  I perused the bookstore, and I found this amazing drawing of Harrison House, which I absolutely loved.  There were a few other scenes around WSS that were also drawn like this, but this one was the only one of the old hotel, so I snatched it up.  It's a 4x6, and it came framed for $15!  Susanne at the desk told me that a 15 year old boy had painted it and the other scenes!  I was so amazed!  Then she pointed me toward another painting he had done.
This one is much bigger, and it hangs in the handicapped stall of the ladies' restroom on the first floor, of all places, lol.  It's seven of Mrs. Kent's tea cups lined up.  It's really detailed and pretty.  Anyway, I was quite impressed by this 15 year old's talent!
Then it was finally time to drop off Anna, Grace, and Emily.  They look excited here--hopefully they are having fun now!  I guess we'll get the full report on Friday.
They're sitting on Emily's and Anna's bunk beds--Emily on top, and Anna on bottom, if they stay the way they set it up originally.

Then Micah, Drew, Verity, and drove back home, with Micah and Drew bickering away until they fell asleep, lol.  It was quite a change to just have them, the 3 older boys, and me to cook for, since I'd been cooking for 18 the previous week!

Luke and Bob got back technically Tuesday morning--12:30 AM is when their plane landed.  They had a good time, although Bob came back a bit under the weather with the virus that had passed through our house the week before.  Luke said orientation was pretty much what he had expected.
I didn't have too much time to get details from him because we left at 7:30 Tuesday morning to drive to Bethesda for Luke to get his wisdom teeth extracted!  It turns out his wisdom teeth on the bottom had come in sideways, so we were not sure how complicated the surgery would be.  He just had his consult last Monday on June 5, and I was pretty worried that we weren't going to be able to schedule the extraction this summer, because Luke is hardly home after this week.  After Nathan's consult, he didn't get scheduled until probably 2 months later, which is pretty normal for them.  But shockingly, the doctor said they had cancellations *this week*, and the surgeries then were going to be performed in the regular main operating suite because of some random reasons I totally can't remember, so an actual anesthesiologist would be doing the anesthesia.  Wow!  So we were able to get the surgery scheduled for Tuesday, and we had to be there at 9:00!
The surgery went well, and it only took an hour, so there weren't any complications.  Contrary to what it looks like here, Luke has healed really well, with very little swelling or pain.  He even went to a Nationals game this afternoon with Bob, Nathan, Jonathan, and Bob's office!  

It's been quiet here without the 3 girls, for sure.  I'm looking forward to hearing the fun the older ones had at Camp Caleb, and I know the younger ones are having a grand time at Grandma/Grandpa camp!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Graduation Party For Luke!

Today we officially celebrated Luke's high school graduation!

It was so special to have both my parents as well as my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim here to celebrate with us!
We also had my brother Dan's girls.  Elia wrote in Luke's graduation book that he was her "favorite boy cousin".  So sweet!!
We had an incredibly brief ceremony where Bob and I presented the diploma (which I had a hard time printing off because our black ink cartridge has randomly started spewing black ink all over everything, grrr), and then Bob prayed for Luke.

After that, we opened up the ice cream sundae bar, like we had for Nathan.  It's a nice thing to have in the middle of the day, and well, I love ice cream, especially with crushed Oreos, strawberries, M&Ms, chocolate sauce, etc. . . . Yum!  We also had some other munchies, like grapes and some really good roasted red pepper hummus from Sams with pita chips and pretzel thins.  Uncle Jim, Anna, and I had gone shopping at Sams on Thursday, and this was a free sample.  It was soooo good, and we pretty much polished off the entire big tub!
It was great to see so many of Luke's friends again, from so many different parts of his life!
These are some pretty special guys right here.  When we started Rivendell, our goal was that the boys would make the kind of Proverbs 27:17 friends:  "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I am so thankful for these guys who have provided that encouragement and motivation over the past years!
Verity was so cute with her play phone.  Here she and Aunt Claire are having a deep phone conversation.

I made a board for Luke too, like I did for Nathan.  I had so much fun going through pictures and memories!  I actually used the same board, lol--I left the verses on, but I did take all of Nathan's pictures off.  But then several of the pictures I had used for Nathan also featured Luke, so those went back up again.  Double duty!  I did print out a ton more pictures of Luke, and I had a hard time deciding which pictures to use.  The other people enjoyed looking at all the pictures, I think.  Lots of fun memories!

And here is one last bonus picture:  Faith decided to separate the M&Ms in the bowl by color. I was quite surprised to find out it was her, because she is not what I would term "OCD" or anything remotely related to that, lol.