PT … Potty Training

I have half-heartedly been potty training Phoebe this summer. Potty training in the past has always been prompted by the strong desire not to have more than 2 babies in diapers at a time. She will be 2 on August 2, so I know I’m a little early, and there is not yet a baby on the way to force the issue, hence the half-hearted attempt.

She is the 5th child (so 4 older brothers and sisters to watch use the potty, plus Mom and Dad), and she has been informing me of her bodily functions before they appear in her diaper, so I figured now is the time. And after she has told me, if I have not done anything about it, she will bring me the diaper wipes and lay down on the kitchen floor for me to change her because “she’s stinky,” rather than walk to her bedroom for the changing table (which she loves because she loves to look out the window and see if the “goggies” (doggies with a “g”) next door are in the yard.

Here’s my method, and it really takes my whole attention for a few days (again, hence the half-hearted attempt, as my attention is split 6 ways):

1. Start the training as soon as the child wakes up. Juice, flavored water, whatever the prefered liquid drink is that will prompt them to pee so much. Normally, these things are not kid-drinks in my house, so they are extra special. And we have a special doggy cup with a straw that is only used by potty trainers.

2. Bottoms off. We have hard wood floors, which are beautiful, and easy for cleaning. Given the amount of liquid being taken in, I can predict a few accidents will happen, so I am always prepared to wash the floor, and spot clean to boot.

3. Frequent “potty breaks.” Whether or not the child acts like they have to “go,” I sit them on the potty every 15 minutes or so.  The first few times may warrant a candy (of their choosing… Gummy bears for Phoebe) just for sitting. Usually the first day or two we’ll watch a movie while sitting on the potty and drinking. If something ends up in the potty, the first time everyone (all kids and I) celebrate by doing a happy potty dance and everyone gets some candy. Subsequent times, only the potty training child gets the reward. I will adjust the frequency of potty breaks once I get a sense of the child’s rhythm. I still remember Ethan had a 20-minute-40-minute cycle. And he has a bladdar I’d steel today.

4. Add clothing of layers slowly once the child recognizes the need to “go to the potty.” This can be the most difficult step, or at least the most time consuming. With Naomi, each layer (training pants, then pants, then switching to panties and not training pants) was a month setback…  

I don’t do diaper-like training pants, but the cloth extra-thick undies. Each child has their own undies, but the training pants are re-used from child to child. They’re not cheap…

That’s about it. I don’t consider night time when considering if a child is fully trained, so nighttime diapers are used for a while, but usually stop around age 3 sometime. 

My family seems to deviate from the standard “girls are easier” myth… Ethan and Daniel were way easier than Naomi and Olivia. Naomi was the first, before Ethan, to sleep through the night without a diaper, but it took her 3 or 4 months to be potty trained to the point of wearing underwear under her pants. Olivia had a different sort of journey, but that is a long story… It took almost a full year for her to be fully potty trained, although she was sleeping through the night with no diaper before she stopped having potty accidents. Ethan and Dan, however, were done in about 2 weeks each (not counting nighttime)

Last night, Phoebe had PJs on and it was almost bedtime. She took her PJ shorts off (by herself) and Olivia told me Phoebe had to go potty. I noticed her droopy diaper, so I took it off, and let her run around a bit before putting a new one on… And she sat and peed on the potty for the first time!!! Completely unprompted by me, as I was putting Zeke to bed and I had no part in it at all! 

This morning, she woke up as I was getting in the shower, and her diaper was dry! She went potty in her potty… And received candy at 7am. Then, she asked for more candy, and I told her she had to pee in the potty to get more cans… So she did it again around 7:15! 

Potty training will now be in full effect since I now know she can do it… So if you stop by my house, don’t be surprised to see a half-naked little lady running around.


Just checking in…

I have lost 1.4 pounds in 1 week. 

I have been drinking my water consistently (remember: half your body weight, in ounces, daily).

I have taken George on 3 20-30 minute walks this week.

I have flubbed the low-carb thing, accidentally. I was eating my chicken-salad lettuce wrap when I saw that chicken salad wasn’t as low carb as I thought. And Tuesday I had a margarita with some friends, thinking tequila is low-carb… which it is, but I didn’t really realize other things that go into a margarita are not so low-carb. But overall, I have been good in this area.

A year and a half ago, when I was doing the low-carb, I snuck a candy bar a week as I drove to my evening Bible study and I still lost 20 pounds in 2 months. Not that I’m okay with messing up as I have, but I am thankful for the opportunity to learn what is low-carb and what is not so that when I do allow myself to eat a carb (chocolate bar… Maybe?) in the future, I can do it intentionally.

I do not want this site to turn into a weight-loss/fitness blog. So I hope to keep my check-ins to a minimum. I’m going to be keeping track for myself, obviously, and I weigh myself weekly, but you all don’t need to have weekly updates. I’m thinking every other week, or maybe monthly. I want to be kept accountable (by the mysterious readership I don’t even know for sure that I have) but that is not my focus on this blog… It’s just a current focus in my life right now.

Someone else is starting to exercise and move around a lot more. Here’s a picture of him unexpectedly coming into the kitchen from the living room. 

He’s doing the aorable “army crawl,” not getting that big belly off the floor, so when I pick him up I can see just how dirty my floor is. 

Water… So much water.

Water is the best drink you can give your body, I’m sure most of you know that already. Have you ever thought that might be the key to weight loss?

I recently (ok, a year or so ago… But that’s recent in the life of a 30-something) learned that you should daily drink at least half your weight in ounces… So a 100-pound person should be drinking 50 ounces of water a day. A 200-pound person needs 100 ounces. I am not a fan of drinking water, generally… And if weighing less means I don’t need to drink as much water, that is great motivation right there!

I am a pop drinker. (Or soda, if you rather.) I only like diet, always have although not because I was “on a diet,” and generally Diet Pepsi or Diet Dr. Pepper… There was a brief stint where I drank Diet Coke because the husband didn’t want to buy 2 different brands and I switched for him… Although he drank Coke Zero, so we were still buying 2 different pops… But he quit the pop and I switched to the aspartame-free Diet Pepsi. Aspartame, if you didn’t know, is a neurotoxin, which is something I’d rather not poison my body with (but who has time to get into that when this post is about… Water!)

I also have self-control issues. If pop is in the house, I will choose to drink that. No matter what my noble goals may be.

I also am known to put that water flavoring/”vitamin drops” in my water. Big victory recently, as in the past few days, I have been drinking water straight from the bottle… Well, the bottle poured into my mason jar glass, but close enough. (Why bottled? Ask my husband… He does not want the fluoride in the city water to get in our bodies. Our toothpaste is flouride free too, although we do cook/boil things in the sink water…)

But I have found one trick, and it seems weird… I’m going to give away personal information (if you choose to do the math… I’m not doing the math for you) that a lady generally doesn’t reveal. Drinking 3.5 24oz glasses of water is way easier than drinking 6.5 16-oz bottles (because the bottles we buy are 16.9 ounces, which seems like a really weird number to me, but it is what it is.)

I can drink 3 24oz glasses in a day no problem *insert finger snap here* yet struggle to drink the same amount, volume wise, in smaller bottles. 

Some say drinking out of a straw helps, some say having a “special” cup makes it more “fun” (which it does… Especially for my children then stealing drinks out of the special cup, making it difficult for me to keep track of my hydration!) Different strokes for different folks. Find what works for you and stick with it!

If you thought pregnancy was the only reason a lady would visit the bathroom so frequently, think again! I hope my body adjusts, sooner rather than later. Or I just might float away…

“It’s Good For You”

Way back when I was just a little bitty boy living in a box under the stairs in the corner of the basement of the house half a block down the street from Jerry’s Bait shop

You know the place

Well anyway, back then life was going swell and everything was just peachy

Except, of course, for the undeniable fact that every single morning
My mother would make me a big bowl of sauerkraut for breakfast

Awww – Big bowl of sauerkraut
Every single morning
It was driving me crazy

I said to my mom
I said “Hey, mom, what’s with all the sauerkraut?”
And my dear, sweet mother
She just looked at my like a cow looks at an oncoming train
And she leaned right down next to me
And she said “IT’S GOOD FOR YOU”
And then she tied me to the wall and stuck a funnel in my mouth
And force fed me nothing but sauerkraut until I was twenty six and a half years old

I am currently trying to convince myself to cut carbs out of my life. I did it before I got pregnant with Ezekiel, and lost 20 pounds in 2 months. Then I learned of the pregnancy and decided to eat what I want because I’ll be gaining the weight anyway…

I gained and lost the same 40-50 pounds with my first 4 babies. Babies #5 and 6, however… Have added about 10 pounds each. And I wasn’t skinny to start with.

Not only is it scientifically proven that low carb, high fat, and moderate protein is a successful and sustainable way to eat and live, my husband has been eating this way for a year and a half (we started at the same time, January 2016) and he’s lost 50 pounds. (It’s not quite Paleo, not quite Trim Healthy Mama… It’s a Ketogenic diet, if you want to look it up)

The only problem is I love carbs. I love candy and chocolate and cake and cookies… but that’s really not that hard to cut down on. The problem is I also love bread and rice and noodles and pretzels and all sorts of carbs! The hubby eats corn chips and potatoes, which technically are no-nos… And he enjoys a few beers on a regular basis, so I’m sure I could introduce carbs back in at a very low level once things get going… But I am not a veggie lover.

(And I. Hate. Sauerkraut.)
So… Living with Tim is something similar to the Weird Al lyrics above (from the hit track “Albuquerque”)… All with the rhetoric that “it’s good for me.”


Adulting isn’t easy, and I know it will be worth it. But hopefully it will get easier as I go.

Test-Taking Skillz

Standardized testing. Just that phrase can send chills down the spine, can it not?

In Ohio, homeschooling requires a notification of the intent to homeschool (NOI) to be sent to the superintendent of the school district in which you live, but that notification is not required until the age of “compulsory attendance,” which is if they are 6 by September 30. 

So even though we have been homeschooling since my oldest was born, and actively since he was 4 (we were a part of a Classical Conversations community for the past 3 years) this year was our first official year, where I had to send in a notification.

Also per Ohio law, to continue homeschooling next year, either a portfolio assessment or the composite score of a standardized test must be sent with next year’s notification. 

Toledo Public Schools, the district where I live, offers free standardized testing to all registered homeschoolers (which means Ethan is eligible but Naomi, who won’t be 6 until September 3 and has been doing the same work as Ethan, is not. All I had to do was send in the paper (which they had mailed to me) stating I wanted him to take the test.

Some parents are against the institutional government school testing homeschool children. The school district can then use those scores when they report that statistics of how well their schools did in testing. As dishonest as this may seem, it really isn’t illegal or wrong (because I’m sure somewhere in tiny print it’s stated that scores are taken from these tests may also be given to homeschool students who were never taught a thing from a public school teacher or class) and my husband and I have considered it and decided the free test is better than either 1) paying for a standardized test and administering it myself or 2) putting together a portfolio and finding a certified Ohio teacher to perform an assessment (and probably charge a fee). 

Others have told me that the school does not need to know his scores on the math and reading, they only need the composite score, and this way they will get more information than they need and that is wrong and I should not do it… But to me, that is ridiculous.

Now, I am a stickler for rules. I am part of a facebook group very knowledgible about Ohio Homeschoolong Laws, and I am aware that many school districts overstep their bounds in asking for information they do not need and assigning a homeschooling coordinator to sign letters excusing children from compulsory attendance. I was prepared to fight for my rights at the beginning of this year, and it was actually a sort of letdown after all that prep to have my school district do things the proper way. So letting them have his individual scores on reading and math hardly seems like an overstep to me.

All this to say, my perfectionist son (who gets upset if he gets 1 question wrong on a math test from the curriculum we use at home) was nervous about getting any wrong answers. 

I am proud to say he scored in the 80s and 90s in his Math and Reading and sub-categories. He was upset he didn’t score 100s, though.

I am, however, extremely disappointed with TPS. During testing, I asked what the process would be for getting his results, and I was told that the school was simply there to administer the test and had no part in receiving his scores and that the results would be directly mailed to me. However, when the results were mailed to me, they not only didn’t include the composite score I will need to turn in next year, they were on TPS letterhead… Clearly the schools got his score and typed up a letter with the results.

Now, I am not stupid. I can average the Math and Reading score to find the composite. I don’t appreciate being lied to, though. This cannot be the first time TPS offered this kind of testing tonnot know how the results would come back to me. 

Free or not, I will not be utilizing TPS again. I have a college degree, which is required for the administration of these types of tests, and I will either purchase and administer the test myself, or have the work reviewed at the end of next year.

The Secret to a Clean Home

So I have not made a habit of posting in a while… Sorry about that. I hope you haven’t missed me too much.

While I was away, I have discovered how to keep a clean home. (And I have 6 children and a dog, so this truly is miraculous!)

The first step is to clean your home… If you can get this done in one day, by the end of the day, that is best. Stretching it out for more than one day risks undoing any cleaning that got done on that first day.

Next, when you wake up on that second morning… Go on vacation! Get everyone and everything into your packed vehicle and get outta town!

When you come home, your house will still be clean! 

It’s amazing! My house stayed clean for a week and I didn’t have to do anything to maintain it.

The 8 of us (minus the dog… Who was with my parents) slept and lived in this quaint cabin up at Somerset Beach Campground and had a blast. And Ethan learned how to ride a 2-wheeler without training wheels. But the secret to that success lies with my husband… I was just a cheerleader on the sidelines of that one.

Let the Summer Games Begin!!!

Homeschoolers… Are we ever really “done” with our school year? In our family, we have a few more lessons until we are done with our current textbooks. Just in time for a camping trip we’re not going to be doing schoolwork on. I do plan to do some light schoolwork through the summer once we get back, but we’ll just be sticking to the famous 3-R’s: Reading, (W)riting, and ‘Rithmatic.

I have a few activities I would like to do this summer, but I am always looking for more ideas. I especially love free, but cheap might be doable.

For one, we have recently rearranged our backyard to be more accommodating. My husband built a playhouse for the children, which we (mostly he) moved to the back of our yard… Clearing out driveway space on the backyard side of the fence. When the gate is opened, the driveway from our garage to the parked cars (about 3-car lengths) is free for bike riding! (Ethan is learning to ride without training wheels… Daddy has said if he learns before our camping trip, we can bring his bike on the trip with us!)

The trampoline had been back there for a few years, and we recently acquired a “playground for our own backyard” which is more commonly known as a swing set. Fabulous outdoor playthings.

My husband also built a children’s picnic table (he made it extra long to make space for the copious amounts of children we have acquired. Great for outdoor picnic lunches. It’s amazing how popular outdoor lunches are, even though the food is run-of-the-mill… The experience is what makes it special.

I found a recipe for kinetic sand I am interested in trying out, and it only has 3 ingredients: play sand, flour, and oil. Outdoor activity, although the recipe I found says it doesn’t stick to hands like regular sand, so hopefully that means less mess.

We have bubble things, but used up our bubble stash on a field day. I love the Dollar Tree for things like this… Because you know 6 kids 7 and under will break the toys. Better not to have a huge $investment$ in toys with a short life span.

I would also like to tour the awesome metroparks we have in the Toledo area. Last time I was at the park we frequent, I picked up a guide for all the metroparks… We have 15! I also picked up a pamphlet about a canal experience (which is not free) at one of the parks… So maybe we’ll have an educational park day one day.

We also have 19 library branches, PLUS the main library that I would like to tour. I’ve lived in Toledo all my life and there are some I’ve never visited. There are also a few that have been renovated since my last visit… So I’m excited about that.

I signed myself and my two oldest up for the Summer Reading Challenge, although I can’t remember the last time I finished a book I read for pleasure.

The main library, downtown, has “Brown Bag Concerts” every Wednesday from 12:15-1:15 that my mom usually joins us for as well. Different local bands each week, but the children’s music week is the one that I definitely try to make happen.

We are YMCA members this year, so there will be swimming and baseball and maybe some other activities there, and we’ve been Zoo members since Ethan was a baby. We will also attend a week-long BackYard Bible Club I volunteer at, and my kids go through, as well as maybe another carnival-type VBS (vacation Bible school) that happens down the road from us.

As I look at my list of summer things, it doesn’t seem too complicated; it doesn’t even really seem full. But I know summer will go fast. I plan to beef up the homeschooling at the beginning of August, and our co-op starts at the end of August, but that doesn’t mean park days or library visits or Zoo experiences need to stop. 

If you can think of fun, simple outdoor summer activities I can add to our list, let me know! Some things my children love to do over and over (even some things I don’t think are that great, they end up loving) and other things I think will be great turn out to be a flop. But it is flip flop season, so I’m prepared for the flipping and flopping of plans.