Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall is here!

It's my favorite time of year!   I love the colors, I love the fallen leaves, I love the chill in the air!    It's also my favorite time of year for photography!     Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Final Frontier of Potty Training!

Yes, the time has come once again in this household for potty training!   Although it began without my desire to do so just yet.  I know I know - it will be way easier in the end when she is potty trained, but I just was enjoying a few more months of not dealing with the hassle.  But in my attempt to play the Diaper Roulette game of running out of diapers and the wait time for the next delivery - I lost.   Last diaper used (except for the hold backs that I had for bedtime)   and so I broke out the Pull-Ups... and well she told me she needed to use the potty and she went!     Then a little while later she said she needed to go again... and she did!   She clearly was ready!

And so it began a week before she turned 33 months old, Mae began potty training.   I had previously stocked up on some padded underwear, broke out the blankets to be sat out,  babylegs to keep her warm, and began the every 10 minute nag reminders to try going potty.    Since she had already had the early success of going in the potty, she kinda had an idea of the feeling.    The first day we had wet training pants as she would not hold it long enough to go all in the potty, so we slowly went from a 50/50 to 30/70 into the potty by the end of Day One.    Pretty darn good.    

With Ace I was adamant to not use Pull Ups once we began the potty training except for at naptime and bedtime.   We also 1.  avoided going anywhere for several days, 2. He was a boy and if we were outdoors he just went outside, 3.  He was older (we went full force right after he turned 3) and followed instructions a bit better than sister.       So for Mae my sanity we have engaged Pull Ups into the equation of potty training this time a bit more frequently.   

Like most kids Mae does not want to go poop in the potty.  This means that in the morning or around naptime she'll usually go in her Pull Up.   This is trending similarly to Ace had when he began to potty train.    Mae has had success a few time to use the potty for poop (oh yes, on the potty training post of course we talk about that.)  In fact on the first night of full blown potty training she said her tummy hurt and she sat down and went right away!  Hooray! 

Our incentive program is the same that we did for Ace when he was potty training.  We have a doorknob hanger and stickers that she gets to put on whenever she goes - a little one for peeing and a big one for going poop.   The first few days she had a sticker every time she went (Brother enjoyed counting all her stickers.  Brother also is an awesome encourager for Mae and her progress.  The first time she went he was right in there with us telling sister she had done a great job!)    As time has gone on in the last week and a half she isn't seeking a sticker after every time she goes pee.   She does however love to show us she went.    She also has Bear go with her on his potty next to her.  

Day two of potty training happened to be a Sunday and Mae went to church in a Pull Up.   We told her teacher it was Day Two of PT and to help us out but no worries if it didn't work.    Mae informed her teacher when asked if she needed to go that she only uses the potty at home.  Hmm... there was an accident of course, but that's ok.    After church I did get her to sit on the potty but with no success and quite a bit of protest.     This past week though she did much better, still armed in a Pull Up.  She told her teacher she needed to go, but teacher said she tried but didn't go. (I think she just didn't make it, as it was wet when I checked.)  After church was over I asked again if she needed to go and she went with me and I held her on the big potty and she went!   Progress!  HOORAY!

Mommy admits the Pull Ups are part lazy, part furniture protection, part make-it work sanity protection.  Mae tends to be a tad more stubborn and outright refuses to go sometimes - resulting in the accidents.  Much easier to deal with in the Pull Up.   Much easier to go to the store with two kids if I still am not fearing an accident.    I know I know I have to break free from them soon(ish) and I will... but with my stubborn girl, we're building up to it.    Yesterday, I noticed she was becoming lazy again and had more accidents than previous days in the Pull Ups, so again this morning we're back to the padded underwear while we're home. 

Yesterday, I acquired the Nighttime Pull Ups and so as of yesterday we are 100% officially done with diapers! You heard it here first after FIVE YEARS, ONE MONTH, and TWENTY DAYS we are a diaper free household!!!!  Ahem I digress... Nighttime Pull Ups: Now if she needs to go potty before she falls asleep she doesn't need our help to put the diaper back on.   She's been averaging 2xs after we put on the diaper at night telling us she needs to go potty - which is GREAT that she's acknowledging the feeling, holding it, and going in the potty!  Hooray!  

The deal remains the same for Mae as it was for Ace - when she remains dry all day with no accidents - she gets to go to the store and pick out her very first pairs of big girl underwear.    We're not there yet, but yesterday while at the store we went and looked at them for some added incentive.  They have Doc McStuffin, people! She's serious now!  ;) Overall she's doing great.  She tells me when she needs to go if she isn't somewhere she can do it herself.   She remembers all on her own to go and makes it 80% of the time by holding it, and she has stayed dry over 50% of the time during her naps.   

"I went potty all by myself!!"
Next up is getting her more acclimated with the big potty, she's so tiny though I am more hesitant with than I was with Ace.    So baby steps for Mae and Mommy.

So while we're diaper free, we are not yet disposable product free just yet... but we should be during the daytime before Christmas and that is all that my goal is at the moment.    Super proud of our little girl and she is super proud of herself!!!  Great job, Mae Mae!  You're growing up so fast!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ten on Ten - October

It's been a long time since I have participated in 10 on 10 and so with my cell phone camera in hand (with the exception of two shots that I was trying my macro lens filters that ultimately were the wrong size... fooey!!)   I wanted to play with angles, texture, and lighting so some of these photos aren't super awesome - but they were fun to explore exposure and focusing abilities with the cell phone camera.  :)    So for a very wacky look at my day yesterday here it is!
Homework before school

Experiments with milk, food dye, and dish soap for Mae while Ace was in school

A braid for my girl after her shower

Picking up brother from school

Playing with lens filters

Not much in focus, but I love the colors :)

Wacky perspective of watching a movie with the kids :)

Screenshot from the video I filmed of Ace running 100 laps around the house.
(No siblings were injured in the making of this film!)

Date night!   Seeing Gravity with Loving Husband!

Late night happy hour after the movie!

For more Ten on Ten stop by A Bit of Sunshine!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Super 5th Birthday!

His shirt says it all!  This little man is FIVE!   Yes,  this past August Ace turned five and he very much was excited for a Superhero Birthday party with all of his friends!    How could  this mom say no?    There was so many fun choices of things to do for this - and well - I probably dabbled in a bit of all of them.  

Let's get started!  First every superhero needs a cape (unless you watch the Incredibles and then capes are bad... but no one seemed to object so that's great!)   Now these capes seemed like a great idea, even when I knew my number was 20 for creating them.   NO problem... right?    Yes,  these capes had 20 steps to them... yes 20.  After the pattern was created I had to:  cut the front of the cape,  cut two halves for the backs of the cape,  iron on the embroidery stabilizing paper, attach the front of the cape to the loom, embroider each cape with a "BAM" or a "POW" embroidery patch (3-4 different thread changes each time), remove the excess stabilizing paper, cut all loose threads,  next I sewed together the halves (so each cape had all three colors on them), next 20 sets of Velcro were cut to size,  pin the two halves together, then sewed the halves together with the Velcro inside,  cut around the collar of each of them so they wouldn't pucker around the neck,  turn them right side out,  iron them flat, then top stitch in a contrasting color!  Whew!   Throw in a few trial and errors, hiccups with thread tension, bobbin reloading, and a bit of insanity - all this was accomplished in two weeks!  Ace's cape was special, he got to have a slightly larger cape that had both BAM and POW but also I found an Avenger's A to make as the center picture!  He loved it!  (I'd link to it, but the place I bought it from on Etsy already no longer exists!)  Fabric, embroidery thread, etc. was all obtained at JoAnn's. 

Now while the embroidery machine was humming away there was plenty of downtime while I waited and that needed to be put to good use!  I had a list a mile long and so often I was working on another project between switching out thread for the POW and BAM fun!     There was a lot of butcher paper art work.  I have owned for a few years this roll of paper.   I have used this over and over again and there is no sign of it disappearing anytime soon.     On my list of paper crafts for this party there was:  the "Calling All Superheroes!', BAM, POW, the Villain Lair, 'Beware Evil Lair', and the photography backdrop.   Several people said I was insane and said to scale back, but I just couldn't do it!   The Villain Lair was taped between the fence and the house in front of the back gate which was where our super villains hid out.  The sign was 6 feet by 11 feet - and after I sketched out my design from my inspiration found on Bing images,  my sign took about an hour to lay out the paper, sketch, and paint.   Also in case you're curious I painted using these Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paint (which I absolutely love!) I bought these over a year ago and they were awesome purchases.   They act like water colors (don't permanently stain) and yet their colors are super vibrant!   They made making the signs pretty darn quick!

These gals came over the night before to help me with some final details!

When I got weary of sewing or when I was tired of drawing/painting on the giant paper products I turned to the computer to work on some of those projects - specifically the items that I sent to the 1-hour photo printer.     I designed some signs to be hung around in the house, snack table, etc..

The City skyline I designed using a sheet of larger cardstock and then simply cut out various shapes. 
The windows are either punched cardstock or yellow post-its - nicely organized by Carrie!

This is what is in the picture on the mantel.  My little superhero as he's grown these past five years!

We held the party from 3-5pm which was post lunch and before dinner so we were light on the snacks.    We had:  Laser Vision Sticks (carrots),  Wonder Dogs (little wienies wrapped in croissants),  POPcorn (in easy to serve cones that were simply coloring sheets from a Thor coloring book), Shape Shifters (the red and blue jello)  and for those that dare we had a bit of Kryptonite (lime jello) and to drink the infamous energy drink with a bolt of lightening and thematically colored!  

Ace's cake this year was themed to represent the city scape - using the sheets of premade fondant made by Wilton in black and yellow.   Overall it wasn't my favorite designed cake that I made for him, but it was pretty easy to accomplish using my exacto-knife and I also got to use the spray food dye to add some depth to the blue and generally it fit the theme quite nicely!   To add a pop of color the inside was dyed to match the thematic colors of the party.


Like most of the parties I like to throw I prefer a free flowing event.    So I try to create options for the kids to just run around and have a good time without a lot of stop and go.     Therefore,  I brought back a few of the options that were big hits at last year's party.    The photo booth and a beanbag toss made a return!    I took an example off of Pinterest (I cannot find the link) and took to designing a bean bag toss using a science project board.   Loving Husband cut out the excellent circles and I spent the next two hours coloring with sharpies (before abandoning that sloooow nonsense) and moving back to my aforementioned favorite watercolors!      I also sewed together 8 beanbags using some fun comic fabric. 

I also wanted them to be able to use their super strength with their super powers and so I obtained a set of the Melissa and Doug Bricks for them to knock down with their fists or the provide Captain America Shield!   This game was a favorite - and I was completely surprised - as assumed by the end of the day these things would go straight to the recycler from destruction.  Not one was destroyed.  Kudos to construction M&D!     The kids love to set them up and knock them down. 

Finally for free play I once again created the photo booth area with various props including a few masks of the Avengers, and I created some signs using some cardboard, spray-paint, and painting on various words.   The kids had a great time using the Fisher Price kid's camera again and were mostly happy to entertain this mom with her own camera a time or two!

The only organized activity that we had was Super Villains that came to disrupt the party just before it was time for cake!   Loving Husband and one of the other Dad's happily signed up to play the villains of the party and I got to work on making them their costumes - yes more sewing, but nothing too complex!     They burst into the party through the paper - with children scattering scared everywhere!   The eldest party goers were all for attacking the villains and most of the rest watched from a safer distance.  

After a few minutes of spinning the kids and zapping them (tickling) with their evil powers - they ran off scared so that the Superheroes could arm themselves with tools (crepe paper) to tie up the Villains!     More of the kids decided that part was fun an most joined in on tying up the villains before fleeing (Ace kept trying to untie them because he didn't want them to leave!) 

Overall it was an awesome party to watch all the kids run around and play! Ace received lots of nice presents and had a great time with his friends.   I am super thankful for the time LH gave me to accomplish all the prep work - and that I was able to accomplish it in spite of the time crunch!   Not too bad in executing everything in under two weeks!   

Happy Birthday, Bear!  We love our little Superhero!!

***Courtesy reminder - if you wish to pin this to Pinterest PLEASE DO NOT PIN PHOTOS THAT CONTAIN FACES OF KIDS.  There are plenty of alternative pictures!   Thank you!!***