Life Rhythm | Potty Training

If there is anything that has been daunting about moving into toddlerhood, potty training is near the top of the list. Despite every parent doing this process, I came into it without a single idea about how to go about it, or even where to start! Last June, when Norah was about one and a half, we bought her a floor potty in preparation for any interest she might show in using it. She mostly thought it made a hilarious hat at that point, much to my first-time mommy dismay.

We initially tried just taking off Norah’s diaper and following her around anxiously staring at her bottom until it looked like she might poop, and then sweeping her onto the potty in a game of “how much more pee and poop will I clean up off the floor today?”

After a few months, Norah was gaining interest in the idea and would ask to sit on the floor potty and then on the toilet as well, especially when I put a basket of books next to the toilet to keep her distracted long enough that she might accidentally go on the toilet and I could praise her for it. She enjoyed it, but went 0% of the times we tried this method. It was frustrating for me, and finally she relented and decided that peeing on this bigger potty was okay too. But pooping was still out of the question.

She walked around the house naked from the waist down for a few months, and during that time did well learning how to make it to the potty in time, so that my game of clean up turned into keeping the Swiffer handy for accidents but not worrying much more than that.

We introduced pull ups at this point, which did not work as well as advertised. First of all, why are pull ups so hard to pull up?! These are small humans we’re working with here! Right now my struggle is trying to move from full time pull-ups to underwear. Norah is pretty consistently almost dry and it is becoming difficult to justify the expensive barely used pull ups in the trash. But, she has had difficulty pulling down her pants still, so we are going to try big kid undies next with the hopes that she is able to more easily pull them down.

It’s been exciting to do this journey with her though. She is doing a tremendous job and I am finally getting used to the new pace – anywhere we are I have to remember to remind her to tell me if she needs to use the potty (many times, especially now that she’ll do the dance)! Our goal is to have only one kid in diapers at a time… But I have confidence that Norah can be in undies by the time Baby #2 arrives in June! The adventures never cease!

Some resources that I have found useful include:

I Use The Potty: Big Kid Power was the way I convinced Norah that toilets were okay for toddler sized humans too.

Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide To Finding The Right Approach For Your Child is a great book… Well admittedly u only read the first few chapters before losing it in the muddle until it was due back to the library!

And this is our beloved floor/trainer potty, which according to Norah makes a splendid hat in a pinch!

Leave a comment if you have any questions or have things you found useful while potty training!

Living Space | Creating Home

Alright, folks! It’s been a while and I have been quite busy since my last blog post to you all. Our family has moved to a new apartment and I have been cleaning, unpacking, organizing, and setting up a new space for our family to call home. It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, and (unfortunately) a lot more money than I hoped to spend on the endeavor! All this to say, I am excited to give you all a tour of the space and share a few projects we have been excited about!

Space #1: Library and Family Room

The first two spaces I want to show are our Library and our Family Room. My husband and I love reading, and he has curated a beautiful collection of books from our favorite authors. We were so excited to be able to unpack them for the first time in 2 years and display them in a way that they deserve!

We have been trying to be dedicated to having less traditional furniture in order to encourage healthier movement and posture habits. Having our own new space that we can design in a nontraditional way has been a dream come true! Some of the”furniture” we have collected includes:

Our “floor couch” made from 2 extra large, firm pillows that we found at our local thrift store for 25 cents each:

Other assorted cushions (also 25 cents each) for the floor or the window seat. Our 2 gorgeous bay windows are our other “couches.”

A reading chair which allows for no slouching and provides awesome lumbar support (thrifted for $30):

An oversized steamer trunk that we found at a yardsale for $10 provides a place to lean on for a moment or a place to do a puzzle:

We have a day bed, gifted to us for Norah’s enjoyment by my high school best friend and her family. We love having a day bed instead of a traditional bed because it allows for many more lounging positions and encourages us to move around more. It is also a trundle bed, allowing us to have more seating for movie nights if we need it once we find a mattress for the trundle!

A table was left by the old tenants and it was bigger than our previous table! I decided to keep both tables so one can be used on our porch, for morning coffee breaks and outdoor meals!

Space #2: Norah’s Bedroom

Norah’s bedroom has been fun for me. I never had the opportunity to set up a nursery while I was expecting with her, and we have been longing for a room for her to have to herself for a long time now. I have a few favorite parts of her room.

Her closet is a particular favorite of mine. I found a expandable closet rod at walmart for just over $10 which allows her to be more involved in choosing her daily outfit. I simply move the choices that would be appropriate for the day to the bottom rod and she decides which is her favorite that day! Her socks and pants and pajamas are in bins on the closet floor, which lets her be part of that discussion too! Best of all, I can then close the closet door and not worry about her taking each item of clothing and scattering it about the entire upstairs floor of the house!

We have kept her floor bed and continue to enjoy the way it allows us to do middle-of-the-night cuddles with her when she wakes up scared or upset. Her nightstand allows us to (theoretically) keep her books in one place (but realistically, they are scattered around the floor of her room daily.

Space #3: The Playroom!

The Playroom has been an ever-changing space since we moved in. The current setup is working well so far, but as she grows, I am certain that it will evolve with her. Currently, there are a few stations set up in the space. The first area is our reading corner, featuring a thrift edge globe and a wooden puzzle of letters:

The second area is her Train Station. We live right next to the train line and Norah loves to race to her window and climb up onto the chair to watch the freight trains and passenger trains go by. She has a wooden train set that she puts together and pulls around the room joyfully once the train has passed.

The third area is her homemaking space. She loves taking care of her baby doll, and this is where Baby lives at the moment. She loves putting her to bed and singing her to sleep, or dancing with her in this space. She has a bucket of bowls and teacups with a tea kettle which she plays with here too.

The fourth area is her sorting and counting area. She has an abacus, a shape-sorting puzzle, blocks, and a small chest of drawers (thrifted for $1!). In the chest of drawers, she has a whole bunch of buttons that she likes to take out and admire before we put them away. Sometimes they end up sorted by color with a lot of help from mom! The mirror actually really helps her focus on her task, and lets me see her adorable concentration face while she plays. The letters were a gift and I have stuck them on the wall with command velcro strips so that she can take them off the wall and manipulate them.

The fifth area is a music-making corner complete with a xylophone (not in the photo), a wooden drum, and a bag of assorted instruments (thrifted for $2). Her current favorite is the harmonica!

The last area is an (in-process) art gallery at her eye-level to begin to encourage her to look at works of art. A small mirror is here to represent that she is a work of art as well!

I have enjoyed the process of homemaking in this past season and I am excited to be back in this online space to report about my progress! I welcome any questions or comments below!

Life Rhythm | Simplicity Parenting: Chapter 1

The book Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne, M.Ed., asserts that as parents, we can use “the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids.” So far, this book offers a way to reconnect with the hopes and dreams we once had for our family in a practical way. Here are my takeaways from chapter one. 

Dream again

My husband and I have dreams of time spent as a family reading books, being in nature, and exploring together. We dream of having minimal belongings, and choosing what to keep based on items that are beauty and useful. We dream of homeschooling our children and teaching and learning with them in a way that is affirming  and validating to each person’s unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. We dream of simplicity and space, both in our schedules and our home, that facilitates growth and ample time to rest and breathe. We dream of challenging each other and our children to be our best selves, and to grow into the most resilient and faithful people we can be.

“Simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter, your attention expands and your awareness deepens.”

Foster well-being

So far in my parenting journey, I have been protective of the family schedules and in creating the rhythms of our daily life. I have been striving to keep clutter from overtaking our spaces and our time. It is hard, but important work. Simplicity Parenting points out the cultural normal when it says, “We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed.”

As adults, we have gotten used to the pace of society, even if in our case it’s begrudgingly so. Again, this book wisely points out that “a certain pace or volume of ‘stuff’ may be tolerable for adults, while it is intolerable, or problematic, for the kids” and yet, “our parenting may be affected by too much clutter and stress, just as our children’s behavior is.” As parents, this spurs us on towards continuing the work of simplifying and decluttering our lives in an effort to create a well-being within the family.

Do what’s doable

“In terms of areas to change I usually see two categories: what is important and what is doable. What seems the most important is usually not; what is most doable is the place to begin. If you do enough that is doable, you will get to the important, and your motivation will be fueled by your success.”

This is true in my experience. Each small victory is immensely motivating and compels me to do the next step and then the next. And with each victory comes more peace in our home and a greater sense of well-being in our family.

“Imagine your home as a place where time moves a little slower…where those we love know it, by virtue of our attention, protection, and appreciation”

Life Rhythm: Meal Planning Board

I love it when the sharing economy helps me in my journey! The other day, I found a whiteboard in my father-in-law’s apartment swap area. First of all, I am so thankful for the way that Rochester’s community values reuse, upcycling, and alternative economics. This apartment complex’s neighbor book and household good swap is just one of many places in my city where people give and take as they need, rather than tossing out old things and buying new.

I found a whiteboard with a weekly layout in the swap pile and eagerly began brainstorming a plethora of ways which I could use it to make my everyday life easier.

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I settled on meal planning, since I have never been very good at consistency in this area. Actually, I regularly say to my friends that consistent meal planning is pretty much the epitome of adulthood and having your life together. I have to say, thus far, I was incorrect in my casual idolatry of meal planning as the end all be all. Nonetheless, it is pretty great!

This week is week 2 in our house of having planned out the meals in advance on this nifty whiteboard. My takeaways have included:
  1. I need this! When I am hungry, I skip hungry and go straight to hangry. If you are unfamiliar with this term, I am happy to have introduced you to it… it means that the minute I realize that I have less than the amount of food I would like to have in my body, I turn into an irritable monster who is incapable of making simple decisions.
  2. We don’t always stick to the plan, and that’s okay.
  3. Meal planning helps me to make healthier eating choices (like eating real food and not spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar)!
  4. Assigning meals is helpful (those are the little (M)’s and (A)’s on our board). Why? See #1!

If you are a person who is more experienced than I at meal planning (or anyone who has done it for more than 2 weeks!) feel free to comment on your tips and tricks! I would love to learn from your experience!

Life Rhythm: Weekly Scheduling

I’ve been keeping myself entertained working on a project for the last couple of weeks. I have been imagining and designing my ideal weekly life rhythm, which has been keeping the winter cabin fever at bay most days. I have been feeling that it would be helpful to have a daily and weekly “plan-of-attack” so that I could feel more at peace with how I was spending my time at any given moment.

Instead of feeling frustrated as I sit on the living room floor surrounded in spit-covered toys and half-finished board books, I can cherish the time I have with my daughter, knowing that the to-do list has a scheduled time in the near future.

So I have been tweaking the exact form of the weekly life rhythm that I created over the past few weeks, and have finally settled on the one I have now. I created a weekly view to have handy when I want to remind myself when I have scheduled myself to complete a task.

weekly-life-rhythm-1

And I also created daily views (which I made into a neat flipbook!) to carry with me inside my bullet journal, allowing me to quick reference how I could be best allocating my time and energy at any point of the day.

thurs

For example, on Thursdays, Norah and I start our day by going on a half-hour walk to our mom and crawlers meetup at Beautiful Birth Choices (for parents in the Rochester, NY area…check it out!). She takes a nap on the way home and we have lunch together when she wakes up, or we go to lunch with the other mommas and she naps after she eats. When we’re home and have eaten, we play and read together in the living room or in her play space. In the evening, I have been enjoying a weekly contemporary dance class, and then after I come home and put Norah to bed for the night, I have allocated time to actually blogging!

I get the question, “Why is there only breakfast on some of the days?” pretty often. The answer is simply that meals with a baby-led weaning baby tend to take about 45 minutes on average, and so “breakfast” on my schedule refers to a bigger sit-down meal, rather than a small snack before we head out for a morning activity!

Feel free to ask more specific questions in the comments!

 

Sacred Rhythms: Scripture

This is timely.

Between all the upheaval with the election last week and a new movement in the process of buying a house, these last couple of weeks have been tremendously stressful.

I feel very thankful for the opportunity to purchase a house; don’t get me wrong! But anyone who has ever wanted a house as much as I do right now can relate to the amount of stress I am under as I wait to hear back from the seller.

Because of this, I felt so much relief this week from opening up this book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. The next chapter is about Scripture as a spiritual discipline that can be used to help renew your spirit and connect on a deeper level with God.

Barton writes,

This is level at which intimacy unfolds in a way that has the potential to change me in the deepest places of my being.

This week I read about a method of Bible study which is meditative and meant to help stimulate a deeper mental, emotional, and spiritual connection to the Scriptures.

Lectio Divina (translated as “divine [or sacred] reading”) is an approach to the Scriptures that sets us up to listen for the word of God spoken to us in the present moment.

Lectio Divina includes a prayer of response and a prayer of rest.

Barton introduces the process of Lectio Divina as a dance with four movements.

To prepare, the reader is encouraged to choose a passage, 6 to 8 verses in length, to focus on.

Then the process begins.

  1. Silencio.

    Settle into the silence and reach out toward your desire to be with God.

  2. Lectio.

    Read the passage the first time, listening for what strikes you.

  3. Meditatio.

    Read a second time, and reflect on how this striking word or phrase applies in your life.

  4. Oratio.

    Read a third time, and respond to the reflection and to God’s invitation.

  5. Contemplatio.

    Read a final time and rest in God’s presence.

  6. Incarnatio.

    Resolve to live it out!

To practice Lectio Divina, I chose to read Psalm 125. I focused on the words trustsecure, surrounded, and peace. While reflecting, I appreciated the timing of the words as they were spoken into my heart. Trust, the way God is in control. That we “will not be defeated but will endure.”

While responding, I wrote several pages in my journal, expressing my struggle against anxiety and toward trust. I thanked God for his faithful love and his protection and peace.

The final read-through in which I rested in God’s presence was powerful and I felt his peace surround me.

As I continue today, I am allowing myself to continue to soak in his words of peace and security!

Sacred Rhythms: Solitude

This week I enjoyed practicing solitude as a way of renewal in my daily life. I felt excited about the premise of solitude, as I am rarely alone these days. And when I am alone, I feel the mom guilt kick in…

“Should I be with my baby right now instead? Is she hungry? Does she need me? Am I causing her needless stress by distancing myself?”

To get beyond that is in itself a pretty major struggle. This week I compromised by finding my solitude during my shower time.

The shower is a wonderful thing to a new mother (and I imagine to seasoned mothers as well!). There is an innate sense of separation from the world which comes with stepping away into a steamy room to cleanse yourself and to take a moment to breathe. The susurrus of water drowns out any unnecessary noises and distractions. It’s blissful, really, and it was a great place to practice solitude with intentionality.

Solitude is a place. It is a place in time that is set apart for God and God alone, a time when we unplug and withdraw from the noise of interpersonal interactions, from the noise, busyness and constant stimulation associated with life in the company of others. Solitude can also be associated with a physical place that has been set apart for times alone with God, a place that is not cluttered with work, noise, technology, other relationships, or any of those things that call us back into doing mode. Most important, solitude is a place inside myself where God’s Spirit and my spirit dwell together in union.

One of the wonderful things Ruth Haley Barton in this chapter of her book Sacred Rhythms is how she describes solitude as a way to reconnect with your soul. The soul is described as a wild animal who won’t dare come near a hunter crashing through the woods (which is an idea from a quote by Parker Palmer). Barton says,

We are not very safe for ourselves, because our internal experience involves continual critique and judgment, and the tender soul does not want to risk it […] There are very few places where the soul is truly safe, where the knowing, the questions, the longings of the soul are welcomed, received and listened to rather than evaluated, judged, or beaten out of us.

She also talks about the toll technology takes on us when we are accessible all the time– an emotional toll that comes with the convenience of boundless availability. I could relate to that exhaustion, not only from technology but also from being available day in and out to the demands of a nursing infant.

Barton looks into Scripture and points to Jesus himself. Jesus is concerned with how we sustain our spiritual life in the midst of serving him. He knows the demands of ministry, and he doesn’t waste any time before inviting the disciples to experience the renewing effects of solitude.

She encourages the reader to honor solitude as a place of rest from which we can live as we reengage with community.

[Jesus] understands that the sources of our exhaustion are many and complex and often we are completely unaware of how they are taking their toll […] Solitude helps us stay attentive to the dynamics of spiritual exhaustion and attend to the deeper sources before they pull us under.

I especially love the practical side of Sacred Rhythms, because Barton doesn’t just tell us why we need solitude, she also gets us started. She offers a helpful tip that while we rest with God with our soul exposed, we must not try to fix the things that surface.

She urges us to acknowledge what emerges and to “be with what is” because not everything can be fixed or solved.

Feel the difference between trying to fix it and just being with it. Feel the difference between doing something with it and resting with it. Feel the difference between trying to fight it and letting God fight for you.

As a final encouragement, I bring to you Psalm 62:5-6, which is lovely and fits perfectly with this discipline.

<

p style=”text-align:center;”>Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Sacred Rhythms: Introduction and Chapter 1

I have been feeling that it would be wise to establish a more solid rhythm in my life as a stay-at-home mom before we move out of our current living situation. Since I am eager to keep moving forward and to create a home for my family in our own space, this has been more of a whisper of wisdom than a priority in my life.

I began a new book this week that has been giving me hope for the process of creating a new, healthier life rhythm amidst the unpredictability of Norah’s schedule. I am excited to blog through the chapters as I read them to give me a chance to debrief the knowledge and skills that I learn.

The book that I have begun is “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation” by Ruth Haley Barton. It is an introduction to several spiritual disciplines that can help one to create mental, emotional and physical space in order to prioritize their relationship with God as a transformative force in their life.

The introduction and first chapter of this book evoked a sense of urgency and importance regarding the disciplines to come. In the introduction, Barton outlines the necessity of creating space in one’s life for God to move. She says,

I cannot transform myself, or anyone else for that matter. What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual transformation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God.

and,

Rather than being motivated by guilt and obligation—as in “I really ought to have quiet time” or “I really should pray more”—we are compelled to seek out ways of living that are congruent with our deepest desires.

She also encourages the reader to seek out community and accountability in the process of implementing new life rhythms. I intend to lead a small group through my church in the next season and go through this book again when I am settling into a new rhythm at our new house.

In Chapter 1: Longing for More, Barton describes a feeling which I have become very familiar with lately.

The phrase “it goes by so fast” is seared into the front of my mind throughout the ebb and flow of each passing day with Norah. I try to spend a few precious moments every day just holding her and appreciating who she is right at that moment, loving her completely and without expectation of what will come.

The moments when my heart fills up and overflows at the knowledge that this beautiful child is mine, a perfect gift from above.

Barton explains it like this:

Something inside me stood at attention and said, This is my life. This is what it’s like to be all the way here now rather than always longing for something else. This is my life as it is meant to be lived in God…This is my best self. This is who I want to be more and more, by God’s grace. These are the moments I will remember on my deathbed and say, “That was what I was meant for.” Then it hit me—my longing, that is. A prayer welled up from the depths of my being, a prayer so full of desire it was barely articulate: O God, give me more moments like this…

Barton goes on to talk about how important it is to tell Jesus your deepest desires—to name them in His presence. At the end of the chapter, she guides the reader through a practical application of the ideas offered in the chapter. As I journaled and began to explore my heart’s desires in order to name them in God’s presence, I wrote the following:

God, I want you to create a life rhythm with me and my family. I want this process of building a household to be deeply rooted in you. I want to follow your leading. I want you to show me how to have life-and have it abundantly…Help me to focus on You as my true source- of life, of purpose, of love, of joy.

As Barton so poignantly says in her introduction to this book,

May Jesus Christ himself meet us in the place of our spiritual seeking.

Stay tuned for Chapter 2!

Coming Soon!

Hey! Thanks for exploring my web site!

I am working diligently to fill up this blog with as much information as possible, and I have only just begun. Follow my blog and check back often to see if I have updated these categories!

For more information about Bullet Journaling, visit bulletjournal.com and search #bulletjournal on Instagram.

For more information about Homeschooling, there are many other blogs that are farther along than I am! Elle Garrels of thenewdomestic.org has a Homeschool Helps page, which was actually my inspiration for starting this blog!

And as for Organization, I plan to implement the research that I am doing as soon as is reasonable!

Baby-Led Weaning: Book Review

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods—and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, offers a simple, no-puree method for starting your child on solid food. Baby-Led Weaning is a great resource.

I feel much more confident in my decision for introducing the same solids that we are eating as a family. It’s so natural and promises a heap of benefits later on!

Babies are “encouraged to explore food” and “join in when ready.” Babies continue to nurse on-demand until at least a year, and it is “up to her how much she eats,” or even “whether or not she eats at first.”

Baby-Led Weaning touches on several main points. First, the book explains what BLW is and its benefits and disadvantages. It outlines baby readiness signs and safety. A chapter is devoted to getting started, to food ideas and preparation, and to what comes next as the baby develops. There are SO MANY tips and tricks given, as well as anecdotal evidence sprinkled generously throughout the book.
Here are a few of the fundamentals for those who are interested but not sold on this method.

Baby Readiness:

  • Baby can sit up straight, unsupported
  • Baby can pick things up and accurately put them in their mouth.
  • Baby puts food into her mouth!
  • Baby is older than 6 months (based on the recommendation of the WHO, 2002)

Tips:

  • Make sure that baby is upright and focused while eating to prevent choking.
  • Don’t force feed or persuade baby to eat more than she wants!
  • Don’t worry about missing meals in the beginning while its not about nourishment.
  • Keep the focus on playing and experimenting!
  • Always stay with baby while she’s eating or playing with food.
  • Don’t worry if baby seems frustrated! Often the problem is that the food is too slippery or the wrong size or shape for her to pick up.
  • Allow at least 45 minutes for a meal.
  • Take a bite out of whole fruits to help baby get to the flesh.
  • Be a good role model, and be consistent!

Safety:

  • Wash hands often – yours and baby’s.
  • Clean all surfaces and equipment thoroughly.
  • Store food appropriately and cook food adequately.

This book has definitely been a helpful tool for me over the last month as I began solids with my daughter! I just picked out a couple tips that I have found super applicable, but if you are beginning this process with your baby, I highly recommend that you read the book! Every child is different, and I am sure that others would say that other tips from the book were more of a help for them.

Some of the other mealtime tools that I use daily are the Ikea Antilop highchair, which is a great simple design for a highchair and was pretty affordable. We bought the chair with a tray, but we don’t ever use it (we just bring her right up to the table). We enjoy having her right there with us.antilop-highchair-with-tray__0339304_pe527619_s4

Another invaluable tool for us has been this silicone tray which allows us to let her join in our messier meals (like soup or yogurt) without throwing her bowl.91v3qi0v-wl-_sl1500_

We also have an assortment of plastic baby sporks and spoons to pre-load and hand to her, or let her explore on her own.

And finally, here are a couple quotes that I really loved from the book!

“When people ask ‘How much is she eating?’ list all the things she’s tried instead of trying to gauge the amount of food!”

I think that it’s equally as hard at this point to list all the foods she’s tried, but it definitely is a better way to stop the meddling Facebook friends from railing you about your mom skills. As the book says, the two disadvantages are the extraordinary mess your baby will make at the beginning, and the disapproval of well-meaning strangers, friends, and family.

The other quote that I find helpful to remember is this one:

“Aim to treat your baby with the same respect you would any other mealtime companion. That means not telling her what to eat or how much, not constantly wiping her face, and resisting the temptation to do the washing-up while she is eating!”

The mealtime adventures, and watching my daughter discover what food is, have been a great experience for us both so far! The other night we went out to sushi and ordered her an appetizer and a sushi roll (without raw meat, obviously!). She had a lot of fun and even tried a dab of wasabi and some ginger… which she loved! So far, we have a happy mom and a happy eater!