Potty-Training is the Pits

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I totally stink at potty training. Why? Because it’s HARD!

We take perfectly trained, pure, innocent babies who cry the second their diaper is wet and teach them that it’s all right to stay soggy for a while. (Well, at least that’s how it goes at our house.)

Then, a couple years later, we try to teach them that it’s not all right anymore.

Then all heck breaks loose.

I find myself with a bathtub filled with wet undies and a half-naked toddler sprinting in the other direction.

It’s exhausting.

Potty training is also hard because I don’t have the attention span. I try to set timers. I try to remember to get my little one on the potty. But I forget!

And I’m not in love with the timer. Deep down I know that is training me, not her. I want her to figure out how to go when her body needs to, not at the sound of our oven beep.

Ugh. This is so hard. You’d think that I’d be better at this by now.

My daughter turns three next month and I’ve got to bite the bullet and focus on training. (Who knows if that means training me or her lol.)

If anyone has a tried and true training program, I’m all ears.

Wish me luck. I’m going to stock up on toddler undies and chocolate incentives.

Zucchini Fest

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Every single September I do the same Pinterest search: Zucchini recipes.

I figure I’m not the only mormon gardener with an excess of the green squash so I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes I’ve tried, or want to try. Please let me know if you have any amazing, kid-friendly recipes you love too!

Here is an easy recipe for lemon poppyseed zucchini bread. I made it into muffins instead. I also peeled the zucchini so that my kids wouldn’t see any green stuff and act suspicious.

This one-pan chicken and vegetable stir fry is delicious. I swapped out some of the other veggies for some zucchini. Yum!

My kids aren’t huge casserole fans, but my husband and I love them so I keep trying lol. This one is really good!

These zucchini rounds/chips aren’t probably the healthiest, but gosh they are good.

I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was delicious! We ended up putting it into tortillas and eating it like tacos. So good!

Finally, everyone already knows how I feel about fries. Who could go wrong with zucchini fries?

Let me know if you have any great ideas. I’m going to try a few more new ones and I’m always looking for new recipes!

Luca Is A Tree

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“Luca is a tree, right mom?” my innocent 2-year-old asked me last week.

She was playing with her best friend when they stopped to look at our angel baby’s picture in my bedroom. She was telling her friend that she had a brother who died. And that he was a tree.

I couldn’t blame her. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy planting a tree for Luca the past couple of years. There have actually been a few trees planted in the same spot because we haven’t had much luck in them surviving.

So it’s probably normal for her to associate Luca with a tree.

I smiled and told her that he was a baby, not a tree. Then she and her friend went on playing.

And I sat back and sighed.

At that moment it really hit me that she has no idea who Luca is.

Sure she’s seen his pictures. She knows we are sad that he isn’t with us. We tell her he’s in heaven and that we’ll see him again. But she has no memories of being with him. She wasn’t born yet. Neither does my 5-year-old. He wasn’t around yet either.

Honestly, my 9-year-old probably doesn’t have any strong memories either even though he was there the day we said hello and goodbye to his baby brother. He was less than two when Luca died.

My oldest can remember bits and pieces, but he was only three. Also too young to have those images and memories cemented into his mind.

It’s amazing to me that something that has impacted me so strongly, something that has changed my life, and therefore my family, is something they won’t remember directly.

They’ll only remember him through me, through pictures and through the acts we do in his memory each year.

I try not to let Luca’s death weigh me down. I try to look at all the good things in my life. But moments like this strike me and make my heart ache. How can one member of our family only be a faded memory?

It’s sad.

I wish he were here. I wish we we making constant memories together; that he was playing and causing mischief with his siblings. I wish he was an active part of our lives.

But since he isn’t, I’ll have to be the one to keep his memory alive. Keep his pictures around. Keep serving in his memory.

Otherwise my children won’t be able to remember their brother – who is just as important to me as each of my living children.

So today I’ll take my kids to the park for play group. We’ll walk to the edge of the play ground and stand under Luca’s tree. I’ll tell them how much I love their angel brother. I’ll tell them about his round, chubby cheeks and his curly red hair. I’ll tell them how he would kick and play in my tummy whenever I sat near the piano and music was played.

I’ll tell them how I kissed his face and said goodbye. And I’ll tell them how I can’t wait until we all get to see him again. Until we are together forever.

Waking up Walking

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Peer pressure.

The only thing that could get me up before the sun.

Positive, inspiring, friendly peer pressure.

And I’m glad I’ve been pressured.

A couple of months ago I started walking with friends every morning. We started going at 7 a.m. before the sun made the day too hot.

But with school coming we bumped up the time.

These days I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. Something that I NEVER thought I would be happy about doing. But I set it so I can get my butt out of bed to go walking with friends. And it’s changed my morning outlook.

I love being able to get out and get moving.

I’m not looking to lose weight or slim down, heaven knows my nightly ice cream bowl is counterproductive, but I love getting my heart pumping. I know it’s making me a healthier person.

And it’s definitely helping with my mental health.

I get one hour of active exercise as well as one hour of active social life. I have 60 minutes with my friends. Other moms who are struggling with similar struggles. Other moms who are tired when their alarm sounds before 6 a.m. Other moms who let me vent my frustrations and share my embarrassments.

We laugh, we yawn and we walk.

It good for my body and soul.

I still relish the evenings. The quiet times when my kids are in bed and I can get some work done or just sit quietly reading or watching a movie. I think I’ll always be a night owl.

But I have come to rely on these morning walks to help me through my crazy life. I can’t imagine sleeping through them.

Thank heavens for good friends and positive peer pressure. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, leave my warm, comfy bed for anything else!

Chill Pills

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Summer.

Usually it kicks my butt. I am begging for school to start two weeks into our summer vacation.

My kids won’t stop fighting, the house looks like a hurricane blew through and I am so, so tired.

But this year was different.

I finally started taking medication.

In May I started an anti-anxiety prescription. It was perfect. I had a month for it to kick in before the kids were under foot all the time.

I’ve thought about taking it for years. I’ve mentioned on this blog several times that I should be on medication. I’ve joked about it but all the while I knew it was true.

I’ve always been a high energy, always-want-to-be-busy-doing-things type person. My genetics mixed with my personality then topped with the death of my stillborn baby did me in. I spent last winter and the better part of this spring stressed out of my mind and ultra depressed.

It was time.

I could no longer cope on my own.

So I went to a therapist and I started my meds.

I now realize I should have started them years ago. I don’t think medication is for everyone. But I do think that I held off starting a prescription because I thought I should be able to fix my stress on my own. I thought it should be something I could fix. What was wrong with me? I had to hit a breaking point before I realized it was ok for me to need help. Prescription help.

There may be some of you out there that would NEVER think medication is all right. You have never lived inside my brain. It has never been able to stop. EVER. But now, for the first time in what feels like FOREVER I can semi relax.

I no longer feel like everything has to be straightened and put away precisely. I can live with a handful of weeds in my flowerbeds. I don’t stress over a sticky floor and I don’t turn the house upside down when I misplace something.

I can handle my kids tapping at the dinner table and screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs. I don’t even mind listening to music now. It used to stress me out to have too much noise.

I could go on and on about the things that meds have helped with.

Sure I still get frustrated. I still get stressed. And I still get bummed out when life gives me drama. But my medicine has taken the edge off. I’m not going to lose my mind anymore.

My prescription has helped me immensely with my kids.

It helped me with my summer.

For once in my life I didn’t have to have a schedule. We sat around going with the flow, making plans when we felt like it.

For once in my life I didn’t feel like I had to do everything myself. I was able to let go and let my kids help with the dishes and laundry – even if they folded differently or loaded the dishwasher differently than I would have.

For once I didn’t have to start and then complete a project all in one day. It took us a couple of weeks to move bedroom furniture and closet contents around when my kids switched rooms. And that was OK.

For once I could sit back and laugh with my kids and not feel stressed that my house wasn’t spotless.

This summer has been amazing.

I have been terribly sad to see it go.

Because I have finally figured out how to live with myself.

I have finally taken a chill pill.

Lost

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Lost – it’s a word I have been thinking a lot about lately.

Honestly, I’ve thought a lot about it the past seven years; since we “lost” our baby.

I’ve never liked to use that phrase.

Did I misplace him like I would my car keys? Did I set him down and forget where he was left?

Did I toss him aside and hope he’d still be there when I returned?

No. I cared for him and loved him his entire life. He was safely tucked next to my heart the whole time.

But still he was lost.

I read a phrase this week in a novel by Kristin Hannah. That’s what has turned my thoughts to once again thinking about “losing someone.”  The first page of “The Nightingale” reads

“Lost.

It makes it sound as if I misplaced my loved ones; perhaps I left them where they don’t belong and then turned away, too confused to retrace my steps.

They are not lost. Nor are they in a better place. They are gone. As I approach the end of my years, I know that grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever a part of us.”

Amen.

My grief keeps settling. It will forever be a part of me.

Yet I still keep living. Living with the grief I have absorbed into my psyche.

Quite frankly if anyone has been lost through his whole losing-a-baby thing, it’s me.

There have been times when I have felt out of place and forgotten. There have been times when I have felt like I could not be recovered. Like I was unable to be found.

Like I was … lost.

I am the one lost. Not him. Not my beautiful angel baby. He wasn’t lost. Just gone. Ripped from my arms before he could even settle. Before he could even sigh.

So I continue drifting. Lost sometimes. Lost for words. Lost for comfort. Lost for clarity and understanding.

They say that when someone you love dies, they are “lost.” I say that sometimes it is those who remain alive that are lost.

Mom or Me?

3738758_sing3From the moment my oldest son was born I dove head first into motherhood. I quit my full-time job. I traded in community theater for snuggles and Elmo’s World. I put my novels on the shelf and cracked open picture books.

I’ve loved being a mother. It’s all I wanted to be.

But it’s not all of me.

Somewhere along the past 11 years I lost a part of my identity.

I stopped playing the piano. I stopped putting together jigsaw puzzles. I stopped staying up late reading the latest novel in the series I’d been dying to catch up on.

I chose to transform myself from an individual into a caregiver. And that was all right. It was a choice.

But then my kids started getting older and didn’t need my as much anymore.

Then I was lost.

I’ve spent the past year or so trying to find myself again.

Who am I if I’m not pregnant or nursing? Who am I if a baby isn’t on my lap? Who am I if I’m not playing Legos or Ponies? Honestly I didn’t know.

If I had any advice to give my early mom self, it would be to not lose yourself completely. Devote your heart, your mind and your time as much as you can to support and love that little baby, but realize that you are still you.

Find the time to stay you.

I took my kids to the dollar showing of Sing this week. As I sat and watched Rosita, the mama pig character, I felt like I was her. She had 25 kids whom she loved and cared for but deep down inside she knew she had other interests, other talents.

I nearly laughed out loud when she asks her husband to tell her kids that she really is a good singer. Because to them she was just “mom.”

What does she do? She hits the stage and starts singing.

She organizes her family and sets up pulleys, ropes and recordings to take care of her chores when she’s gone. She figures out how to make things work and her family survives just fine while she is gone.

At the end of the movie, when her kids and husband see her on stage, they stand up and cheer. They are proud of who she is.

As I’ve been developing different talents and finding out who I am again, I have noticed that my family has been just fine when I’m gone.

My husband has filled in the gaps. Neighbors, family and dear friends have helped when needed.

My kids have been able to see someone pursue their dreams and develop their talents. I can’t think of a better thing for them to witness. I actually think they might be proud of me.

Proud of a mom who still takes care of them but also takes care of herself.

So those of you moms out there who worry about leaving your kids with a babysitter so you can go to book club, or finding someone to take them to their basketball game because you have a community class you’re taking, or heaven forbid if you are worried that you are leaving your child while you go work part or full-time, remind yourself that you you love being a mother, but you are also a person. And if you don’t start acknowledging that you will end up lost like I was.

A lost mom is not a happy mom and happy moms make better moms. Be true to yourself. It will make your whole life better.

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