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  • Welcome to Counting My Kisses!

    Counting My Kisses is all about finding that silver lining, even on our most frustrating days. It’s about cherishing my little girls and enjoying being married to my best friend. It’s about taking a minute to stop & remember what’s really important in life—and to discover that each & every experience gives us something to be thankful for.

    I’m a daughter, sister, friend, writer, and most importantly these days, a wife & mother. My life is full of fun chaotic moments, and this blog helps me to capture the laughter and love that fills our house every day.

    Thanks for joining me on this adventure!

Adventures in potty training {tips + tricks}

Ah, potty training.

The very words strike fear into my heart. Timing? Logistics? Good God, what happens when we are out somewhere and I CAN’T FIND A BATHROOM?? It’s enough to make me gladly sign up to pay for diapers for another year or two, easy.

And yet…it’s a milestone that must be tackled at some point. And after my recent potty training adventure with H-Berry, I decided to share a few tips & tricks for those of you embarking on this gloriously unpredictable journey.

Shall we??

1. Try not to google it to death.

Let’s be real: there are 10,000 different ways to potty-train your child & no one way is the “right” way. Google might tell you that a certain method is fastest, easiest, foolproof, etc. Here’s the bottom line: the best way is the method that gets your child potty trained for the long haul without driving either of you crazy. Period.

 

2. Roll with your child’s interest level.

Remember last fall when I wrote about how H-Berry was potty training herself?? Right. That was awesome.

And I totally let the holidays + our busy life get in the way of that interest. Once I circled back with, okay maybe we should try this! in early spring, it was too late. Interest gone. Even in her cute little Tinkerbell panties.

So I put it off…and put it off…and put it off until the Hubs gently reminded me that Baby Nug will be here before we know it and maybe, just maybe, could we have a month or two where no child was in diapers in ALL OF THE LAND?? Er, in our house.

I reluctantly agreed & started talking it up to H-Berry again. Re-introduced her to the Tink panties, got Little O & the Hubs on board for praise & picked a week in late July to take the plunge.

 

3. Make a game plan & STICK to it.

This is the very best advice I can give on the potty-training subject: Small children can smell fear. They also can sense when you aren’t 100% sure  of yourself on something. Fake it until you make it, baby. Go ALL IN & never turn back.

 

4. Get your supplies in order.

a. Buy underwear for the little one~ let them pick it out! I’ve found that one pack isn’t enough for those first few days, so I recommend two packs unless you’d like to do laundry non-stop.

b. Buy a cute notebook & a whole mess of dollar-section stickers~ again, I let H-Berry pick them out. 

c.  Buy a potty seat/toliet seat insert {optional but very helpful}. I highly recommend the Baby Bjorn Potty Chair if you’re in the market for a durable, comfortable & portable potty seat. And no, I didn’t get paid to say that…although I wish I did!

 

5. Clear your schedule as much as possible for the first few days.

Immediately before vacay/a super busy week/change in the family’s schedule etc. is NOT the optimum time to tackle this blessed event. If you have a quiet weekend at home on the agenda in the next month or so, pencil in potty training & make limited plans {read: MUST BE NEAR A BATHROOM {and if your child is anything like either of my children, it must be a CLEAN and NON-ICKY bathroom or heaven help us all}).

 

6. Reward time

If you aren’t above bribing {cough cough, my preferred method of potty training}, help your child pick out their “reward” at the beginning of the process. You set the terms as to when they receive said reward.

For us, it was a nice, long accident-free stretch~ I had to feel like H-Berry really GOT it. The day I came downstairs from making the beds to find her in the bathroom by herself proudly telling me she had just stopped playing to go poopy + potty {and the proof was right there in the toilet}~ that was the “okay, you’ve got this!” moment for me.

Make the reward equal or less to the cost of a box of diapers & I promise you’ll walk out of Target feeling like you just got handed the deal of a lifetime. The Hubs gladly forked over $22 for a walking talking My Little Pony once H-Berry was accident-free for a week. {Way less than her diapers!! we quietly cheered as we high-fived each other on our way out of the store}.

7. Let’s Do This.

We had been insisting on some quality potty-seat time before naps + baths each day, so H-Berry was familiar with the whole concept {big sis helped with this too}. When it was Go Time, she had the basics down, which was helpful.

Here’s my breakdown of our process:

a. Bye bye diapers. We go cold turkey on the underwear front. If you’re not sleeping {see #8 for more details}, you are wearing underwear, regardless of what activities we have planned that day. 

Small exception: an excursion to a VERY hard to find a bathroom location within the first few weeks of training {like the county fair}. A porta-potty situation with either of our daughters would have set us back weeks. And swim diapers are still a must for us. No pools are being shut down on account of our potty training toddler!

b. In the beginning. The first few days, I expect accidents. And they happen. I don’t make a huge deal out of them, but I do put them into fresh underwear immediately & reinforce, “next time let’s tell Mommy before you have to go, OK?”

c. Accident prevention. To help prevent said accidents, I set our kitchen timer for every 45 minutes the first day or two. When the timer goes off, we RACE into the bathroom & see how fast we can go potty. I’ve found for my kiddos, if it’s not a within-the-first-minute thing, they aren’t going to go this round. We wash up & try again a little later. I slowly move the timer back based on how she’s doing as the week progresses.

d. Success. In the event that we have success~ YAY!!!! I make a huge deal out of it, do a ton of cheering & after my child is all put back together {panties, shorts, toilet flushed, hands washed, etc.}, she gets to pick out a sticker for her notebook {followed by more cheering & a high-five} and put it on that day’s page. One sticker = potty, two stickers = poopy in our house. 

e. I bring in outside praise. I’ll have H-Berry call her grandparents to tell them the happy news and I bring up how proud we are of her for going to the bathroom like a big girl in front of family, friends, etc. where she can overhear the praise.

I’ve even been known to take pictures of her holding up her notebook & sending them to the Hubs, my siblings & the grandparents to demonstrate her successes for the day.

f. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I ask, “Do you have to go potty?” 400 times the first day, and then only 375 times the second. By the time we’re a few weeks into it, I’m only asking a handful of times each day. My kids love their sticker notebooks for the first week or so, and then they just gravitate towards heavy praise, which I gladly heap on by the bucketload!

g. Patience. Be patient with them, but also be patient with yourself. It’s not a piece of cake~ you are dealing with budding independence & a bit of defiance & let’s be real, it’s a crapshoot if it will work or not. I’ve always told myself I’d just give it a week to see how it goes~ and then at the end of that first week, the progress we’ve made is gigantically huge.

But if, for some reason, it’s just not going well & not getting better? Shelve it & try again in a month or two. Your child will be potty trained sooner than later.

 

8. Don’t sweat naptime/bedtime.

Our pediatrician said not to worry about initially “training” them for naptime + bedtime until they are much older, and I totally took that to heart. After all, who wants to change sheets at 3am a few times a week? Not this momma.

I’ve also found that the older the child gets, the more the naptime/bedtime situation takes care of itself, no additional training required. Booyah.

 

9. Keep it easy & keep it fun.

No one likes to do chores, myself included. Making potty training an adventure with a reward at the end of it has really worked well for our kiddos. 

Feel free to share what worked for your littles in the comments section~ and if you are just diving in to the Potty Training Adventure, best of luck & Godspeed!

Counting My Kisses: I’m enjoying this lovely little time in our lives where we’re able to venture diaper-free outside the house. Of course, it does come with certain downsides: the bathroom trips at church, the pit-in-my-stomach realization at the grocery store that it has been 2.5 hours since H-Berry’s last bathroom trip, etc. But it’s all par for the course & part of the parenting fun~ and I’m thankful for every single minute!

 

Hmm. Do I need a disclaimer for this post? How about: I’m not a pediatrician, medical expert or parenting expert. Just one momma sharing her method that worked with other parents out there! Happy training!

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Lisa O

Hey Amy, I found a toilet seat that has a drop down ‘child size’ seat in the lid. You can find it pretty much anywhere (I think) and for sure at Lowes or Home Depot. It worked great for that transition to the big potty. :)

[Reply]

Ugh potty training is going SO slow for us because we both work full-time, and are sharing a car so as soon as I get the kids home and fed from daycare, we have to go pick up Daddy so there’s no time to keep them in just underwear. Great tips though. I think letting them pick out the underwear and having stickers are great ideas.

[Reply]

For us, it worked best to just wait until our son was interested in doing it vs trying to fight it before he was ready. We started about a month before he turned 3, and just relied on him telling us when he needed to go/just going in and going on his own vs sitting him on the toilet every 20 minutes or so. We also left him in diapers at first, to avoid cleaning up lots of accidents. At first, he had good and bad days. Sometimes he wouldn’t tell us at all if he needed to go and sometimes he would tell us 3-4 times a day. After just a few weeks of this, it finally clicked for him! He started telling us all the time, or just going in on his own to go! After that point he had maybe 2 or 3 accidents?? I didn’t start putting him in undies (that he picked out) until he was consistently going on his own. We still did diapers for nap and bed time, but after another month or so of staying dry at naptime, we ditched diapers then, too. It was only a month or so after that and we were able to do undies all night, too!

I think what made the most difference was the rewards system for him. We started with giving him a Hot Wheels car for every 5 stickers that he earned (he got 1 for every #1 and 2 for every #2 that happened on the potty). We let him pick out the cars at the store, and he knew how many stickers he needed to get them. He’s a smart kid though, so soon he started trying to go even more than he needed to, to earn cars faster, so we had to keep pushing it back to 10, then 15, and 20 stickers. But, it was still working because he LOVES cars. So, potty training him was actually a pretty easy adventure! I’m hoping it goes just as well with our 2nd, who just turned 2. I think he may be ready before 3. He knows when he is going #2, can tell me he is going, and he is very predictable, too (as to the times he goes), so we may be able to start with him sooner. The only setback may be another baby being born in a month, which will consume much of my time for awhile. So, we shall see!

That’s awesome that you were able to get her trained so young!! :)

[Reply]

These are great tips, Amy, thanks for sharing! I’m in the process of introducing potty training to my 22 month old daughter before her sibling arrives in 3 months and she does fairly well, but it’s still not consistent. She loves earning “potty stickers” but we usually put them on her hand and then she forgets about them. I’m going to go buy a notebook so she can look and see how well she has done overall and I like the “big reward” idea for going a week accident free! :)

[Reply]

Nicole

How old was your little girl when you potty trained her. I like your methods, not to worry about nap or bedtime and the “bribing”. I think there has to be some incentive to the kiddos to help them work toward a goal!

[Reply]

Amy

Hi Nicole! Yes, exactly~ we gave our daughter an incentive to work towards her goal {her reward} and it worked awesome! My older daughter was about 2 years + 4 months when we started potty training & H-Berry was exactly 2.5 years old when we started training her. They both were plenty old enough + got the hang of it quickly! Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for stopping by!

[Reply]

Happy day.

Every morning, I’m greeted by H-Berry’s sunny smile and her sweet, wispy blonde hair as I walk into her room.

 

I’m also touched by her words:

Hi, Mommy! It’s a happy day!!!

 

A happy day.

It’s how our two-and-a-half-year-old views the start of each brand-new day: happy.

A chance to be happy.

A chance to do happy.

A chance to embrace happy.

 

Today, I’m taking her words to heart.

It’s going to be a happy day.

 

Because I’m choosing to let go of my {insanely all-consuming} Mommy Guilt over an incident at the zoo yesterday.

I’m choosing to not panic that we only have two weeks of summer vacation left before Little O starts school at the BIG school {hold me. {But I’m not panicking, really}}.

 

I’m choosing to pray for more patience. For strength to be the momma I want to be. For the grace to show my children how to be good, kind-hearted, lovely people. Leading by example has never been so important.

 

I’m choosing to embrace the fact that I have so many more things to learn about being a parent. And that just when I feel like I might possibly have my feet under me, the world shifts. And shifts. And shifts a little more.

I’m choosing to accept that it has been a rough few weeks. Growing pains for both of our girls. And growing pains for the Hubs & I as we regroup & address behavior issues in our children that have reappeared out of nowhere.

 

And I’m choosing to not be so hard on myself {this one was reinforced by my mom last night {see: insanely all-consuming Mommy Guilt above}}. Today I’m sticking with the mantra I’m doing the best I can~ and I’m doing it with love.

 

Let’s all have a happy day, shall we? And a happy weekend to boot!

Counting My Kisses: A big thanks to the H-Berry for the sweet, innocent reminder that every single day can be happy. I just need to let it be happy & get out of my own head sometimes. I’m ready to embrace the day & make it a happy one~ hope you are too, friends!

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To my little red Corolla, with love.

To my little 2005 Toyota Corolla:

 

We’ve come a long way, baby.

117,000 miles, to be exact.

 

You were~ and still are~ cute & zippy. A lovely shade of Fiesta Red. Tiny but powerful~ and you know how to get the job done. I’ve always thought we were kindred spirits in that sense.

 

You were my very first post-college/Officially a Grown Up With a Paycheck purchase. My dad & the Hubs {who was still The Boyfriend at that point} negotiated the heck out of that car deal. I waited anxiously for the dust to settle, all parties to {finally} agree on a price & happily signed my name a few dozen times on the paperwork.

The feeling when I finally held those car keys in my hands? Priceless.

I felt invincible. Proud. Powerful. Independent. And a tiny bit terrified {what do you mean I own a brand new car?!}.

 

You & I had some great times, little Corolla. The Hubs & I were still long-distance right after I bought you, so we hit the road together every other weekend to visit him.

You, steady & sporty, barreling down the highway with confidence. Me, bubbling over with happiness on the drive to the Hubs; heartsick & sure of only one thing on our long drives back home: this distance was temporary. Our love was~ and is~ forever.

 

You were right there with me as I packed up my comfortable home life and made the 400 mile leap of faith to be closer to the Hubs.

 

You were right there with me as I started a career as a younger PR/Marketing professional in a brand-new city. That meant you dealt with my nerves some mornings, my enthusiasm a lot of evenings, and my penchant for leaving only the exact amount of time I needed to get to work on time {with absolutely zero buffer}.

 

You were right there when the Hubs proposed. You were with us as we made countless trips back & forth to my hometown to plan the wedding of our dreams, and to begin our life together as husband + wife.

 

You were right there in our newlywed days. Our pick-up-and-go days. Our lets-explore-town or lets-go-out-with-our-friends or let’s-swing-by-Home-Depot-and-see-what-we-find days.

 

You were also right there when we decided to accept a job promotion for the Hubs & move 200 miles to his hometown. You quietly listened to my endless sobs as we drove away from the house we had bought together~ the house I had imagined we’d bring our children home to & live for years as a family. You steadily headed to our new home & somehow gave me comfort that this was the right move for us, for our family, for our future {it was}.

 

You took the Hubs & I to our first ultrasound. The one where we saw Little O’s tiny flickering heartbeat and realized, we’re going to be parents!

You have driven us to H-Berry & Baby Nug’s very first ultrasounds too. Lots of nerves on the way there~ and lots of joy, thankfulness & ear-splitting-grins on the way back.

 

It has been a long road & a great road. For the past few years, your sole responsibility has been getting the Hubs to & from work safely. Some days that was probably easier than others~ but you delivered every time. Thank you. He’s my love + my partner in life, and you helping to keep him safe over the years has not gone unnoticed. Or unappreciated.

 

It makes me sad that it’s time to say goodbye, old friend. You’ve been so good to our little family & I am so appreciative of the nine great years we’ve had together.

It’s time for you to go make someone else happy. To keep them & their loves safe. To help them jump-start their grown-up life and face their dreams. And to help give them a piece of confidence to achieve those dreams~ just like you were there every step of the way when I achieved mine.

 

Goodbye, sweet Corolla.

Thanks for the memories. 

And just know that you’ll always be more than just my first car. You’re a friend. A gem. And I wish you nothing but the best in your many years ahead.

Counting My Kisses: No I’m not crying! Okay, maybe a little {I’m sure being 8 months pregnant isn’t helping anything!}. We bought a new car over the weekend, since Baby Nug has nowhere to sit with our current Honda CRV car seat setup. And while I love love LOVE our big new family car, it was really hard to say goodbye to my little red Corolla. Sometimes a car is just a car…but sometimes, it’s so much more. And my Corolla was so, so much more to me. Thanks for the memories, Corolla. You’ll always hold a special place in my heart!

Linking today’s post up with the fabulous Shell at Things I Can’t Say.

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So many memories all tied up in that car!

But this marks a new era in your life- a very exciting one. :)

[Reply]

I know how you feel! I felt the same way about my first Volvo. Over Christmas break this year a college student failed to stop at a red light and crashed into me and totaled it. It had about 117,000 miles on it too but ran like a charm. If it weren’t totaled I would still be driving it. ( and by the way, I think I may have shed some tears over it…haha)

I’ve recently discovered your blog and have become a new reader!
~M

[Reply]

Hello, Monday! {fun with the girls}

Hello, friends!

And helloooo, Monday!

 

If you stopped by late last week & had an impossible time loading the blog, many apologies. Apparently my hosting server went down & had issues getting back online for an ENTIRE day. Since I have no idea how to even contact them, I rode it out & everything appears to be running on full cylinders now. Hooray!

 

It’s been a busy few weeks around here, and I’m excited to share what we’ve been up to! But first…let’s welcome the new week, shall we?

 

Hello…

to a fun Friday night at the county fair. Woo for farm animals + family time! 

Hello…

to getting a better look at the animals {and giving Mommy a small heart attack in the process}. 

Hello…

to the cutest little cow couple I’ve ever seen. I LOVE that they were snuggling. 

Hello…

to “driving” around John Deere tractors! The girls pretty much acted like it was a playground of tractors to climb all over. 

Hello…

to our honey bunny tractor girls! Love them so much {even if they do refuse to look at the camera these days. Lol}. 

Hello…

to my loves. Pictures like this make my heart bubble over with happiness. 

Hello…

to corndogs at the fair! {of course!}. And yes, H-Berry is licking hers. Nom nom. 

Hello…

to one of those time-needs-to-slow-down-you-both-look-WAY-too-old pictures. Oh, my heart!

Hello…

to dancing around & helping Daddy wash the car {in 60-degree weather}. H-Berry has her groove on! 

Hello…

to sisters. Two peas in a pod. And the very best of friends. Love love love their connection. 

Hello…

to soapy fun with Daddy! I was freezing just watching them, but they LOVED it! 

Hello…

to warming up on the swingset post car-wash. 

Hello…

to brave H-Berry & her new love of getting pushed on the swing. Like a big girl. Don’t mind me as I shed a tear or two over how BIG my baby is getting! 

And hello…

to the close of an awesome weekend and the start of a brand-new fabulous week! I love it when our summer evenings end like this~ quiet. Beautiful. And so very thankful. 

 

What are you welcoming this week, friends?! Share in the comments section & have a GREAT day!

Counting My Kisses: It wasn’t a weekend of crazy events or huge plans~ but it was a really nice weekend of family time, getting BIG things crossed off of our To Do list {more on that later this week!} and appreciating the beauty of this cooler-than-normal-yet-still-lovely weather. I’m starting this week off with a full heart of gratitude {and a very big belly~ 32 weeks!}. Here’s to a fresh start & a great new week ahead!

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The sweet spot of summer

Hello, friends!

Is it really the last day of July?! How can that be??

 

July means long days of playing outside with friends.

Sticky popsicle fingers. Pooltime and running through the sprinkler and trips to the beach. Later-than-normal bedtimes because all of the neighborhood kids are in a heated game of kickball. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk and bike rides.

July means summer.

 

Of course, August is still summer too~ but a different shade of summer.

Nights getting shorter as we start to get back into a “routine.” School supplies and meeting new teachers. Shopping trips to the mall for fall wardrobes. The end of August is always a little bittersweet for me, as we say goodbye to another amazing summer and turn our focus to the cooler, crisper, more structured days of fall.

 

And this September, our family is growing by two sweet little baby feet. It’s exciting & we’re over the moon happy to welcome Baby Nug into our lives & into our family.

While I’m looking forward to this big event with a fully thankful & happy heart, the upcoming change for our family is making me want to hold on to every last moment of this summer. I know things will be different~ in a good way!~ so very soon. Instead of impatiently waiting for that change to happen, I’m hanging on to the ride of right now~ and enjoying it.

 

My bloggy friend shared this article about The Sweet Spot over the weekend, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since {it’s a GREAT read, I highly recommend!}. Our children are younger than the author’s, and we’re still in the midst of temper tantrums, potty training & I-want-to-play-with-that-toy squabbles ~ not exactly the sweet spot the author is talking about.

But…I think we’re in a sweet spot of our own. The quiet calm before the excitement & adventure of the fall. The joy of having two walking, talking, hilariously expressive daughters that fill our days & our nights with endless entertainment. The knowledge that this time with them as littles is going entirely too fast~ so we need to hold on and enjoy.

We’ve had a lot of sweet spots this summer~ one of my very favorites being a week-long family vacay at the beach. A chance for us to rest, regroup & reconnect as a family. It was so sweet, in fact, that we extended our trip an extra day because we weren’t ready to leave yet. The sweet spot will do that to you. 

What’s your sweet spot of summer? Share in the comments section & have a GREAT day!

Counting My Kisses: I’m still in a bit of shock that it’s almost August. But that means we still have weeks of summer left, which I’m so thankful for! Hope your week is going swimmingly, friends. I can’t wait to hear all about your own sweet spot of summer!

Linking up with Pour Your Heart Out today!

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Lazier, slower paced days of no homework are me sweet spot.

[Reply]

We are in that sweet spot too and I have no desire for it to end!

That is a gorgeous family photo!

[Reply]

M o r e   i n f o