Men 101

Another blog contribution by my co-author, my dad.

While in a bookstore recently, I noticed a middle aged man walk in alone and begin browsing for some CDs. It was then that I came to the conclusion that most men are lone wolves. They protect themselves from risk and consider themselves successful in life if they never embarrass themselves, are able to stay alive, and stay out of jail. These protective mechanisms usually form in the Junior High years. The personalities that develop as a result of learning to interact with girls, the terrors of Gym class and the various physical changes that occur, remain with most men for the rest of their lives.

Heaven help the young man who is too short or too tall or who is different in any way than what the wolf pack (other boys) or the Supreme Court (the cheerleaders) deem normal. Life is turbulent for him. He quickly learns his place in the pack and develops his survival personality. Is it any wonder that when a boy starts Jr. High that his conversations at home morph into one word answers or grunts? When this young man grows up, we may see glimpses of who he really is, such as when he falls in love or does a brave act. But for the most part, he remains hidden.

What does it take to draw him out to be the man God intended him to be? Think for a moment about stories or movies you have seen that portrayed a man who felt called to a great task but was afraid that he wasn’t up to it. Somewhere along the line, a woman came to encourage and inspire him. She awakened the little boy inside. The little boy that was brave, honorable and justifiably idealistic before the crucible of his Jr. High School experience.

Already on thin ice, I would like to take a risk and go just a little further to offer some practical suggestions that I believe can awaken a man’s desire to serve his wife and family:
  • When you put your hand on his arm, stop a moment, look impressed and ask him if he has been working out. (Donna got a new patio for this one.)
  • Thank him every once in a while for going to work each day and providing for your family (It’s like saying, “sick-em” to a dog.)
  • Acknowledge his acts of higher character such as good manners, a selfless work or a moment of tenderness with you or your children. (This alone, could get you a Disney vacation.)
When a man is respected, he responds. A friend told me recently, that when everything is good at home (and I think he meant with his wife), that he could face anything. A man is always aware of his wife’s level of respect for him. And even if she starts with the small things, she’ll find that it will serve him right.


Never Too Old to Learn

I'm not sure if I've complained about it too much here, but we've reeeeeeally been struggling with sleeptimes lately.

I feel like things've gotten progressively worse, but it came to a head for me last night when my parents watched the boys so I could take Andy out for his birthday. The boys pulled all the same stunts they have for the past few weeks and it took my parents an hour and a half to get them down. Yup, sounds about right.

So I wrote to my good friend from college who has five-year-old twin boys as well as a three-year-old son. She always has such good insight when it comes to parenting these little monsters and I really respect her ideas. Then I did some searches online. I wondered if I should give up their naps entirely; it just seemed like too much work for such a little reward. At the same time, though, my boys don't do very well without a few hours rest in the afternoon. Should I separate them? They seem to be keeping eachother up with their shennanigans. They like to jump on the beds. Should I put them back in their cribs and get crib tents? I know I'm exhausted being 34+ weeks pregnant; do they just know that I don't have the energy to fight? What was I doing wrong and how could I make it better?

The best article I found was here. In it, were practically ideas about soothing kids to sleep and what things I might be doing (or not doing) during the day to prepare them for a restful nap. It was all obvious stuff, but details that I hadn't thought of.

After reading the article, my husband and I talked about some small changes I could make to my day in order to help get the boys ready for a good nap:
  • Limit our television-watching to two videos a day, one in the morning and another when they wake up from their nap. For a mom who never watches television herself or even introduced TV to her kids until they were two years old, we're certainly making up for lost time. Ever since I was pregnant, it hasn't been uncommon for us to have the television on most of the day, even if we're not actively watching it. Allowing my boys to unplug from the big screen was supposed to help stimulate their brains less. Gosh, I could do that.
  • Limit the amount of sugars the boys are drinking and eating. When we started potty training, they encouraged us to have the boys drink as much juice as possible, as it would encourage them to go on the potty and increase the speed of the process. So we bought tons of juice boxes and flavored waters, many of which the boys still ask for. Out of laziness, I've been giving in, letting them have as much as they wanted. But I never thought about the ramifications. Between juice and the treats they still want at times after they use on the potty, their blood is constantly flowing with sugar. No wonder they're jumping off the walls! I'm embarrassed that I hadn't identified this one on my own. It was obvious this needed to change. Now, they can have a juice box with their breakfast and their lunch, then it's water for the rest of the day. They weren't thrilled about this change today, but they're slowly giving in. It's worth it.
  • Take down the rails from their twin beds. I bought two guardrails to put on the long side of the beds so they wouldn't fall out during the night. But as the boys play, these seemed more like hazards. I took them down this morning and feel a lot better about them staying safe. They both sleep near the wall-side anyway.
  • Do quiet activities about a half-hour before sleeptime and stay away from roudy activities. By encouraging activities such as painting, snuggling, reading and PlayDoh, I increase my changes of the boys being more relaxed than if we went straight from wrestling...which, you know...we do a lot.
  • Try for 20 minutes of active play between each sleeptime. This is one my friend added. She said that her boys sleep better in the afternoon if they've played (wrestled, tickled!) for at least twenty minutes. Same for in the evening. Makes sense, doesn't it? How can I put my boys down if they're not exhausted? As a pregnant mom, I've been extremely guilty of this. Today I made a point of letting my boys play outside - which today, meant in the mud - and the boys were thrilled. I had bought rain boots last week and they were thrilled to get them completely filthy.
  • Decrease the amount of sleep I allow them to have in the afternoon, making sure they're awake by 3pm. Half the time, I fall asleep and don't want to wake up. Especially when it took so much energy to get them down. But since the boys went down so much easier this afternoon, I felt good about letting them sleep just longer than an hour and a half, as opposed to two hours plus. They definitely wanted to sleep more, but it did guarantee them to be sleepy again when it came time for bedtime.
See what I mean? Kinda obvious stuff, but I suppose I had to be ready to hear it all. The other thing they said was that moms are the obvious pushover. Every kid knows that. Or at least perceives it to be that way. Dads are obvious no-nonsense. Just knowing it wasn't ME made me feel a little better. It's not me...or it is me...but at least I'm not alone.

Just goes to show you: the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. Motherhood is a very humbling job. One day, you're on top of the world because things seem to be going so well. And then the very next day, you're in tears because you realize you have absolutely no idea what you're doing. Humbling, to say the least.

Still, onward and upward! I'm grateful for the small amount of success we experienced today and looking forward to watching these small changes make a difference in our overall happiness in the Sauer household! One thing's for sure: sleep.changes.everything.



Ben did something that made my teacher heart sooo happy tonight: he wrote his name.

Well, not technically. He typed it. But it was so beautiful, you would have thought he scribbled it with his own hands, from his mommy's reaction.

Ben loves letters. He points them out at a store, while we're driving, on the cereal box, and in books. He even finds them in the scribbles circles and lines he colors. And I absolutely love it. We can rarely read a book until he's identified each of the letters in the title. He's not 100% profficient and he can only really identify capital letters, but for a mom of an almost three-year-old, I'm thrilled. (Jack is quite good as well, but Ben gets an added thrill out of it!)

After the normal after-dinner wrestling, Daddy usually suggests some quiet time in front of his iPad. My boys LOVE this time. All three of them :) It's a nice way to unwind from the day, letting the boys play with puzzles, paint and animals. We use a timer to help them take turns, but tonight I thought I'd offer my laptop as the 'other option' so the boys would be occupied while they were waiting for their other turn. It was funny teaching them how to use a touch pad on the laptop versus a smart board... definitely took some getting used to for my boys in the age of the Smart Phone. We experimented with a few games on FisherPrice.com, but then I asked Ben if he wanted to write some letters. I opened Microsoft Word and pressed "caps lock."

I let him have fun with the keypad and then after a few minutes, I asked if he wanted to write his name. He knows how to spell it and does frequently. It's not uncommon for him to spell his name when you ask him to tell you what his name is :) He was definitely anxious for this project. I excitedly pointed out each letter and he thoughtfully pressed it and waited for me to help him find the next one. When we finished, he looked at his masterpiece and then up at me. He opened his eyes wide and fixed his mouth into a big "O." Oooh, he was proud.

He typed his name. Gosh, I wish I had my camera handy to take a picture of that face.

We typed it a few more times and then I helped him spell his last name, at his request. He just loved it.

Next, he asked to spell Daddy's name. But this time, he didn't want me to point out the letters for him. His first attempt looked more like "D-A-A-A-A-A-D" because he pressed the "A" too many times. But let me tell you, it was beautiful.

My boys can spell. Well, perhaps not literally... but you know what I mean.


Thank God for Technology

In the past few days, we've discovered a new tool: a TIMER!

We started using it to help the boys share games on Daddy's iPad. You know, that piece of technology I swore they would never know existed? Yeah, it's their favorite thing to play with now. Especially since he downloaded a ton of fun ABC games, puzzles and painting activities on there :) It's a good thing he takes it to work everyday or I'd never have a reason to keep it away from them! Anyway, we set it to go off after a minute and then they gladly hand it over to their brother for a turn. It's a lot better than us just saying "Okay, time's up!" With the timer, it's an external third-party telling them exactly when it's time to share. It's been working like a charm.

The thought occured to me the other day to apply this to bedtime, too. I had remembered reading it as a strategy in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, for kids who want to be held in the middle of the night. Dr. Marc Weissbluth suggested placing a timer under their pillow to go off after the allotted time so they would come to understand when time was up. Makes sense!

My boys ask us to sit in their doorway for "one minute," but that minute always turns into five...or ten...or twenty minutes. There'll be days that I'll (uncomfortably) sit there until they fall asleep, just so I won't have the hassle of having to sit back down again just to get them to go to sleep. And I've gotta be honest, at 33 weeks pregnant, it's just not comfortable to sit Indian-style on the floor simply waiting for two toddlers to nod off. But I do it because I'm just that desperate for a nap myself.

So tonight, I brought my cell phone with me. Yes, I've (lazily) been using the timer on my Droid. I told the boys I would hold them for one minute on the bed. They excitedly watched the timer click down, second by second, as they sat in my arms. And then they jumped down into their own beds when the alarm went off. Go figure. They jumped a little on their beds, but then I said I would sit in the doorway for two minutes after they laid down. Once they were convinced of my intentions, I set the alarm for two minutes and waited. "Two minutes up?" they incessantly asked. When it rang, Ben said, "Night, Mommy!" and I got up. I ignored Jack's cries (that lasted for about ten minutes) insisting on one more minute. I was grateful he didn't get out of bed, though. Even with the cries, it was progress!

A cell phone timer is helping my kids go to bed easier and stay there. Who wouldda thunk it?

In other news, last night was the fifth night in the row both boys woke up with dry underwear. The only reason they go through more than one pair a day is because they decide to change the character as their mood changes. I'll put a stop to that soon, but for now, this mommy is just grateful they care enough about underwear to keep it on!


Hurry, Ben Comes!

I'd just like to take a moment and brag on my husband for a bit. He is such a great friend to me and such a fantastic daddy to our boys. We are very grateful for such a wonderful provider and support to our family.

Something that means to the most to this exhausted pregnant mommy is how energetic he is after a long day's work. Every day, he comes home from a physically demanding job, and wrestles with the boys. He opens the door slowly, knowing that the boys would be hiding after hearing him press the keys to the automatic lock, and he asks where they are. The boys are not very imaginative at this point. They hide in exactly the same spots: Ben under the couch pillows and Jack behind the small couch, in the bookshelf. But still, their daddy searches throughout the room - amidst the giggling - until he uncovers their dimply faces and shrieks of delight.

Almost immediately, they want to play. Especially Jack. And his first request is always the same. "Hurry, Ben comes! Hurry, Ben comes!"

We've come to know this as a game. A game of chase. Andy scoops up Jack in his arms and runs across the room. Ben knows to follow, running after the pair as if his life depended on it. They run from one side of the room to the other, to the bedroom and through the kitchen. He jumps over Ben, dodges away from his grabs and screams as if they were this close to touching him. After about a minute (or whenever Andy decides Jack's turn is over,) he lets Ben 'get them' and he switches toddlers. Then the game becomes, "Hurry, Jack comes!" After a few rounds, Daddy is always sweating while the boys are still begging for me. It is the cutest thing to watch. My heart swells with pride that a grown man would love his two-year-olds enough to entertain their repetetive games.
Jack dancing while Daddy sings into the microphone. You can just see the admiration in his eyes.

We were out to dinner tonight and I was helping the boys catch up Daddy on our day. Jack asked if we could go home and it made me smile. If given the choice, that boy will always choose to stay home rather than go out. "Do you like being home?" I asked him. He, of course, answered affirmatively. "What do you like to do when you're at home?" I asked again.

His answer? It wasn't painting... or reading books... or shooting his Nerf gun... or playing with his brother... all of which are some of his favorite activities. You guessed it.

He responded with a quick smile. "Hurry, Ben comes!"


Sleep Training, Revisited

I continue to be amazed at the boys' potty training progress! We're coming to a close of Week Three and we're working toward 100% progress during the day and about 65% at night. I told Andy tonight, "The boys have drier pajamas now wearing underwear than they did a month ago in diapers!"

They actually LIKE going in the potty. They like being dry. They like holding it. They like when their "tummy feels better." They like "making mommy and daddy so happy!" They like waking up in dry pajamas and with dry blankets. We only woke them up in the middle of the night to use the potty during the first week; if they have to go now, they usually wake us up to go and then go right back down. They've had a few occasions where they'd start going in their underwear and then realize what they were doing before waking us up and finishing in the toilet - that's progress! I really am amazed that they have come sooo far in such a relatively short amount of time.

Our routine has been adjusted. I carry one of their toilets in the van at all times for those moments when a public restroom is just not within reach. I've even been known to carry it INTO church and playgroup to be sure they've got a familiar piece of plastic to work with when the time comes! I carry a foldable/portable potty seat (like this one, except ours is red and has Cars on it.) And I always carry at least four pairs of extra underwear and a whole extra outfit on each outing. It feels like a little more work at times, but then I remember the hassle of having to buy and dispose of diapers, finding clean areas to lay them down and the frustration of bathrooms with no changing tables... and then I feel extremely proud.

So, now that we've got potty training to a comfortable working level, we can work on our next challenge: sleeping.


Sound familiar? Yeah, I'm thinking that sleeping is going to be a constantly evolving challenge in our house. As the boys grow, they become more independent, more confident, more aware of how they effect their surroundings. The last two weeks have been horrendous sleeping weeks. It takes forever to get them down... they want to go to the potty... then they want to wash their hands... get a treat... then their brother wakes up... and they want me to hold them, sit on their bed, stand/sit at the door for "just a minute"... then it's an all-out mad house! We weren't confident enough to tell them they couldn't use the bathroom after they were in their beds - after all, they did go almost every single time - but now, we're at a new breaking point.

A few nights ago, we cut them off from getting a treat after peeing before bed. The new rule is "no treats after we brush our teeth." That was a struggle at first, but now, they've bought it. Then, we told them that they could only go potty ONE TIME before bed. And that was it. Don't get me wrong, they get plenty of opportunities to use the potty before the "last time" comes. And they'll still come out fifteen minutes later if they have to go potty, but we make it a habit not to talk to them and just shuffle them back to bed when they're done. That's been working pretty well. They definitely understand that they should not be using the potty as an excuse to get out of bed and walk around (which Jack was extremely guilty of!)

Now I've just to apply all of these things during naptime!

The boys know that mommy is extremely tired once naptime rolls around and I look forward to taking a nap just as much as I know they need one. But I've gotten extremely lazy. Now I've got to step up my game especially if I want them to be sleeping in the weeks before Baby Girl arrives... and hopefully afterward, too!

So here's my plan. Tomorrow, I'll be making four new posters with the boys. One is a checklist of things to do before sleeptime and then the other is a revised Sleep Rules poster with the rules added to it about using the potty (one for each of them.) And just like last time, I'm hoping these posters will help remind them of the process we all go through to help get us ready for sleep!

Here's hoping anyway. I wonder what my boys will do when they realize their mommy has absolutely no idea what she's doing. Hopefully, that won't be until they're the daddys struggling with how they're going to deal with their kids!


The Essence of a Mom

I know this will sound obvious to seasoned moms. Moms who've been there. Who've gone through all of this before. But sometimes, I'm just amazed at the amount of energy it takes to raise kids.

Potty training is going well. Some nights are dry, some nights are wet. Sometimes they go when we're out in public. Sometimes they demand to hold it until we get home. Sometimes they refuse to go until they wake up in the middle of the night a few hours later. Perhaps they'll make it to the toilet. Perhaps they won't.

And yet, the morning comes. And life goes on. Boys cling to their mommy. Shriek with excitement at their successes and get frustrated when they fail. But they expect Mommy to remain the same. Undaunted by the lack of sleep (even though Daddy is the one getting up for most of the nighttime bathroom breaks) or the fact that the majority of my energy is being devoted to that of another life. I am their mom. That's all they know.

I took this picture the other night of the boys before bed. They were especially huggy with eachother, grabbing at his brother's neck and giggling like crazy. It was a frustrating night. The boys were constantly wrestling, pushing and touching eachother, much to their brother's frustration. But when Andy and I saw how cute they were, I asked him to get the camera. Sometimes you just have to give in. So glad I did.

This morning was another frustrating morning. They didn't get a lot of sleep because we were out late for a birthday party. They wouldn't leave eachother alone, knowing perfectly well what would drive them crazy. They gave me a hard time about going down for a nap and I had a lot to get done. I wrote my husband a text after they finally went down and asked if we could trade them in for another set. Glad he knew I was kidding... but he did come home early ;)

And then I look at this picture. Look at those eyes. Those dimples. Those smiles. I can hear their laughs. Sense their spirits. And my heart swells with love. How could two little boys bring me so much frustration and yet so much joy?

That, my friends, is the very essence of being a mom.

And I know you understand exactly what I mean.


And the Journey Continues

I feel a little weird giving these daily updates on the boys' potty training process. I DO realize there are other important things going on in the world. But in my world, this is my world.

The boys woke up with dry underwear for the second day in a row. We couldn't have been more pleased! And Ben pooped on the potty this afternoon - and NOT in his underwear! It's only the second time he's done that so far! He's averaging one poop every other day, which I'm wondering will be the new normal. He's only seemed uncomfortable just a few hours before he goes. I'm really hoping that continues!

We went to storytime at Barnes & Noble yesterday and then I got some stuff at Babies R Us before we headed home. I brought one of their potties with us and they used it between stops, then held everything else in until we made it home. Success!

My husband made a purchase last night that we were extremely pleased with today: a new toilet seat! This is it: http://www.bemisseats.com/nextstep/. It's a magnetic kids' potty seat that goes down when they use it and then magnetically sticks to the lid when an adult needs to use it. Genius! It was $40 at Home Depot. The boys were thrilled with this purchase when they woke up this morning. They may actually be motivated to use the "big toilet" now!

The best part? Mommy may only need to clean ONE toilet, rather than three!

We weren't sure how we would make the transition from their little potties to the Big Toilet, so I asked Andy to buy this seat my friend had told me about a few months ago. Such a great idea. Ben preferred to poop in his own potty this afternoon, but the rest of their potty trips were made on top of this new piece of plastic. It's very sturdy since it's part of the toilet seat and the hole is the perfect size for their little booties. I am so pleased!

Sleeptimes still aren't a slam dunk, but they're getting better. Andy suggested I make a new rules poster to help cover our new routine (only going potty once after we read books before they go to bed, etc.) and I think that's a great idea. Perhaps we'll do that this weekend.

I'm hesitant to say that the boys are officially potty trained. But even still, in less than two weeks, I could have never imagined this kind of progress. Praise God!


Ramblings of a Mom with Toddlers

Potty Training Highlights:
Jack woke up this morning with dry underwear. It was his second time. Ben was dry the morning before last and naps have been consistently dry (with the exception of Ben on the afternoon of Day Five!) Ben didn't go poop at all yesterday, so I was very pleased when he went this morning before playgroup; his attitude seems to be improving as it concerns going Number Two! I've been out publicly with the boys twice in the past two days and both times, they asked to use the potty and we came home dry! This is definitely progress. Still hoping for more progress as Ben gets more accustomed to going more consistently.

Here's the other struggle we're having: since we've been encouraging the boys to have more control over their lives in the bathroom, they've been pushing for more independence. For a two-and-a-half year old, this translates to rebellion. Pushing the boundaries. Testing the waters. And it screamed loudest today.

Ben seemed to be the one pushing today. We were leaving for playgroup and so I let the boys play outside for one minute while I loaded the van. This is not unusual; since our van is parked outside on the driveway, the boys will commonly play with sticks on our small patch of grass while I get things situated. Ben started running down the sidewalk. He went past the sidewalk line the boys understand to be "out of bounds" and looked back to see my reaction. I reminded him that he had passed the line and to come back before he got a spanking. He kept running. He ran another ten feet and turned around. He knows I won't play this game. If I run after him, he keeps on running. Plus, I'm eight months pregnant. There was NO way I was going to engage his rebellion. But Jack was.

Jack started running after him so Ben kept on running, giggling the whole time. I yelled again and realized he was just going too far. At this point, he was about 10/12 houses down the street! I didn't know what to do! I grabbed Jack, quickly buckled him into his car seat and drove down the road to where he was floundering on the sidewalk. Ben had gotten disorientated and was starting to cry, wondering where his mommy had gone. Two cars had stopped along the road at this point, wondering who the crying toddler belonged to. I felt horrible. What a bad, unfit mother they must have thought I was.

I waved to the guy in the red car and gave him a nod so he understood that this roaming toddler was mine. He gave me a look that said, "Gosh, what are you thinking, letting this boy out all alone?" and I just kept running to Ben. He ran into my arms; I could tell that he was scared. Rather than give him a spanking, I tried to console him and remind him why he should listen to mommy. We talked about the incident on the way to playgroup and he kept saying, "I listen, I stay safe." It could have been worse. He didn't go on the road, he wasn't hit or taken and I didn't go into labor. I suppose it could have been much worse.

But that's just one example of him testing the boundaries. The other has come with sleeptimes.

The boys enjoy the new freedom of being able to use the bathroom whenever the need arises, so they've been exercising this right just as they get into their beds. This might not be such a big deal if they were singletons, or if they had their own room. But neither of those is the case. When one gets out of bed, so does the other. If not just to keep up with the excitement. Then, after both boys have exhausted the possibility of being able to squeeze out just one more drop, they're both bouncing all over the room. I can't even tell you how frustrating this is. We're not supposed to force them to go potty, but we give them more than three opportunities before 'light's out.' If they don't take advantage of those, how can I deprive them of when they DO admit they need to go?

So we're coming back to basics. We're going back to what we learned from our Marc Weissbluth education. Thank God, my husband is willing to play the heavy again. This pregnant mommy just doesn't have the energy to keep putting them back in their beds when they get out, more than once a day.

The other areas we're having issues is in hearing a direction, knowing the consequences and knowingly choosing the wrong thing. Over and over. I had to take two separate toys away from Ben today because he just wouldn't listen. They're not usually that beligerant.

So here's hoping. We're making progress. We're still trying. We're not there yet, but we're getting better. And I guess there's nothing more we could do!

Except take long walks at Target after they go down, buying a hundred dollars of merchandise I probably don't need and then coming home to blog all about it. Yeah, I guess there IS something more I could do: sleep.


Never Pray for Patience

Jack woke me up at 3:15am and said he had to go potty. He was dry. He went pee in the potty. Then he went back to bed. When I asked if he wanted me to sit on his bed for a minute (which is usually protocol,) he said, "No, you leave now, Mom." (In retrospect, I should have woken up Ben to go on the potty at this point, too.)

Ben was the first to wake up in the morning and came to our room, soaking wet. It was obvious that he didn't have to use the potty right away because the entire contents of his bladder was all over his pajamas and his bed. On the bright side, he did seem very annoyed by the fact that he was wet, so that's good.

Jack got out of bed and went to the potty again. He was still dry. The boys are making fantastic strides, but the fact that Jack woke up to use the potty and then still woke up DRY is absolutely amazing to me. He's got it. He really seems to get it!!!!!

Ben did go poop twice today - both in the afternoon and both were started in his underwear. We're still working on his timing. He's soooo resistant to let go of his feces that he starts walking too late and too slow to the bathroom. I have to let it fall into the toilet so he can feel like he's finishing it in there. We go crazy with praise, exciting phone calls and of course, a present. He's getting better. A little faster each time. Other than that, there haven't been any accidents. It occured to me today that the boys have BOTH woken up DRY from their naps since Day One, with the exception of Ben on Day Five. Can I get an amen?

Patience is a scary thing to pray for. Admittedly, I wouldn't recommend it. Because only then will God provide opportunities for your patience to be tested... err, I mean... strengthened. No, I never pray for patience. Instead, I pray for diligence. Consistency. Grace. Wisdom. And boy, do I need a lot of that lately.

The restraint needed from forcing your kids to sit on the potty, reprimanding them for wetting their bed or to let go of Mommy long enough for her to get a glass of water is overwhelming. Even still, I've been trying to make a conscious effort of letting the boys know that they are in control of their bowel movements. They get to decide when to release it. To be patient until they're ready to sit on the potty. They have the control. This makes a big difference in our day... and also makes me MORE than excited when Andy comes through the door.

So, yeah. Don't pray for patience. Unless you really do relish opportunities to let your head explode from the stress of it all!


Our First Outing

We had a rough night so we decided to let the boys sleep in and not go to church. And it ended up being a wonderfully relaxing family day.

The first few hours, I could tell that Ben had to go poop, but determined to stick with the plan, I did not force anything. At around 11am, his potty dance became more frequent and urgent. Still, I remained calm and encouraging, telling him that he didn't have to go poopy if he didn't want to. Finally, Ben grabbed my hand and made a mad dash for the bathroom, very pleased to produce a very fine specimen in his potty. "I've never been so happy to see a poop," Andy said.

He did it.

I knew he had more, but grateful for at least some progress, we went nuts with praise. A few minutes later, he went more in his underwear, but I dumped it into the potty as I took off his underwear and he was pleased with that. So at least it's moving in the right direction!

The rest of the afternoon, I had my boys back. Ben was himself again. Happy, playful and running around with Jack and his daddy. It was so fulfilling. It's been a long few days as he decided what he was going to do, so even though I know he's still holding out on us, he's headed in the right direction! Meanwhile, Jack will go whenever he can so he can get a "present." Yeah. I hadn't meant for those to be for every poop, but as long as they're buying, I'll keep selling it!

Still, we were a little worried about tonight. We were going to a friend's house for the superbowl and would need to take the boys out of the house in underwear. For the first time in a week. Grateful that Ben had begun to relieve himself, we felt a little more confident than we would have last night, but we still weren't sure.

We woke them up from their nap and changed their clothes. But neither of them wanted to use the potty. Alllllrighty then. No pressure, Mom. No pressure. The whole 20-minute drive, we were reminding them to tell us if they had to go potty. (Andy had put one of our potties in the trunk, just in case they weren't willing to use our friend's son's potty!) "Mommy, my underwear dry," they kept telling me, as if encouraging me to lay off. We were at the party for about an hour before Ben said he had to go. Andy dashed to the car to get the potty and both boys followed him to the bathroom, successfully peeing in their Big Boy Potties.

They did it.

We left without any incident, even though I could tell that Ben had to go poopy a few minutes before we left. But he didn't want to go there and didn't want to go when we got home. Even still, I am very pleased with how well they're doing. Not even a full week and we ventured out WITHOUT diapers!

The strangest thing was seeing how small their little booties were without diapers :) I'll be honest. They didn't get that from me.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I'm a little discouraged tonight. Ben won't poop. And it's been a while. A few days. It wouldn't be such a big deal if I didn't KNOW that he had to go. Bad. His dance has gotten more frequent. His clinginess more clingy. His cries more frustrated.

And still, he won't let go.

Perhaps what makes it so tough is the fact that Jack is pooping like a champ. That kid found out that I would give him a present when I was really pleased with their success and poops every chance he gets. He's gone about seven times and 'gets it.' He likes the prizes. Go figure. In the last post, I was confident that he didn't need prizes. My boys keep switching on me! Again, frustrating.

But what's even more frustrating is the fact that I pushed Ben tonight. I made him sit on the potty, even when he didn't want to. He forced him to try and go on the potty. He was visibly uncomfortable. I just wanted to see him relieved of his pain. But as you can imagine, it only made it worse. He got more resilient. More defiant. And absolutely petrified of that little potty.

I feel like such a failure.

After they went down, I read through the 'program' again. I did several things wrong. I shared them with my husband. I cried. I am determined to do things differently tomorrow. It's a new day.

And still, there is HOPE.

A few minutes ago, as I was writing this post, I heard a little "Mommy, I go peepee," from the boys' room. I went in there to see Jack standing in the doorway. He went in front of his potty, dropped his pants and I heard faint dribbles in the toilet.

He did it.

Jack had started going in his underwear and then woke up, wanting to finish in the potty. That's exactly what we've been trying to enforce! And he did it. It's the night of Day Six and he did it all on his own. I changed his clothes (because my boys do not like to be wet) and he sleepily walked back into his bed. Not even his sheets were wet!

So, yes. There is hope. They are progressing. It's difficult to see progress when it's happening so slowly, right before your eyes. And we are aspiring to train TWO toddlers at the same time. Two toddlers - different boys - who happened to be born within one minute apart from the same mommy and daddy. I keep trying to put them together as a pair, as if they should achieve each milestone at the exact same time. But they are not the same person. They are not the same person. They are not the same person. Perhaps I oughta keep remind myself of that.

I just heard another sound from the boys' room. This time, it was Ben. He was soaked and wanted dry clothes. I was much more understanding with him as I changed him, asked if he wanted to use the potty (he didn't) and then held him for a minute before sending him back to his bed. Thankfully, Andy had used that time to change his sheets. He was asleep again just three minutes later. It's progress.

We are not running a sprint race here. This is a marathon. And I'm in it for the long run.


Benefits of a Brother

Woah. What a rollercoaster of a week.

The boys have each thrown up twice. A lot. And for both of them, their puke was 24 hours apart. They've been clingy, but I thought that was mostly because of their desire to hold in their bowel movements. It wasn't until I woke up on the afternoon of Day Three feeling really sick that I realized we had been victims of a nasty stomach bug.

And let me tell you, it was nasty. It seems that I came down with the worst of it, which I think I should be grateful for. I couldn't eat anything for more than 24 hours. This bug was being very careful to clean out absolutely everything in my body. I tried drinking water, but even that was being forced out. The only thing that made it more uncomfortable was my active little one growing in utero. She was moving like crazy, all hours of the day, making my already nauseous tummy feel even more nauseous.

I didn't sleep at all that night. Well, if I did, it was never for more than ten minutes at a time. I couldn't get comfortable and it feel like my tummy had multiplied its weight to that of a fifty pound anvil. Every time I tried flipping turned into an aerobic exercize, which is bad when you're doing it every five minutes. Just horrible.

Andy took off from work yesterday so he could be home to help me. My mom came over in the morning to watch the boys so I could go to a scheduled OB appointment. My loving husband accompanied me because I still felt too weak to be alone. Thankfully, I was able to hold down some soup in the afternoon and then a grilled cheese sandwich (cooked to perfection, thanks to Andy) for dinner. Once food was welcome in my body once again, I could feel my strength coming back. I won't even mention that I actually LOST weight from my last OB appointment or the fact that I didn't even have any liquid in me to give a valid urine sample! Aye.

But the boys are making some great strides! Jack has now gone poopy on the potty - voluntarily - about five times (three of which were all before naptime today!) Ben has gone once. And that was this morning when he didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time and I had to empty his poopy in the potty so he could be praised for it. They continue to keep an exceptionally high accuracy rate with their pee.

With (seemingly identical) twins, you would think there would be more similarities between them. But there really isn't. They have a similar potty dance, the movements they take on when I know they have to go poop. They want to be held... then they sit on the couch... held again... then walk around with their hand over their backside... held again... run to the bathroom saying, "I go potty," then returning a second later repeating, "No poopy, no poopy." This process could repeat for a dozen times before their constant rushes to the bathroom amount to anything. It takes everything in me not to just sit them on the potty and say, "Just push!" Or bribe them with treats. But what's so interesting is their execution.

Ben likes the attention. The praise. The prizes. That kid would do almost anything to please his mommy and daddy. One of his favorite phrases during this past week is "Mommy and Daddy, soo happy!" It really is quite adorable. It will be interesting to get to know his Potty Style a little better once he starts going poop more frequently.

Jack, on the other hand, is much more private. I've gotten to the point where I let him go into the bathroom by himself and finish the whole process, waiting for him to call me in. And that's usually when he's all done. I tell him that I want to give him a present for going poopy on the potty and he'll say, "No prize." It's also not uncommon for Jack to give his M&M (the prize they earn for going peepee on the potty) to his brother, if he takes one at all.

Both boys, however, don't like seeing their poop in the potty. Each time they go pee, they dump it into the big toilet and flush. I've been encouraging them to do the same with their poop, but they seem to be very disgusted by it. Each time they've gone, though, they've said, "No, is yucky. Ben do it." And his brother does! So funny. Good thing they've got a brother to pawn off their disgusting jobs on!

Now, if only I could find someone else to wipe butts and clean toilets and launder sheets for ME! :)

Guess that's just one of the benefits of having a brother.