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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!

Hello, Monday! {hello, impromptu photo shoot!}

My baby is starting school today.

At the elementary school. With the “big kids.” Four mornings every.single.week until the end of May. Hold me.

 

This milestone may or may not have spurred a bout of *slightly insane* nesting that included an impromptu photo shoot with both girls on Saturday morning.

You know, so I could capture Little O & H-Berry at these sweet, precious {difficult, stubborn, exhausting yet amazing} ages. And so I can always look back and say, ohhh I love these pictures, I took them on our last few days of summer!!

 

Or at least that’s the plan in my sappy, hyper-emotional 8.5-month pregnant state.

 

So. I’m sharing new pictures today! Hooray! And the plan is to share First Day of School pictures on Wednesday + a report on how it’s going. Maybe I’ll have stopped wallowing about where have the years gone?!?! by then. We can all hope.

 

But today, I’m excited to say hello to the brand-new week with some of my favorite new shots of the girls. Here we go!

 

Hello…

to our beautiful school girl. Four years have gone by in a blink, sweet one! 

Hello…

to our sweet & cherub-faced H-Berry. She sure can look like a sweet little angel when she wants to, no? 

Hello…

to sweet, sweet sisters. Did I mention they call each other “sissy” on occasion? I melt. 

Hello…

H-Berry! 2.5 years old & full of spunk, sass & sweetness. I love everything about our little pixie girl~ especially that mischievous grin & the twinkle in her bright blue eyes! 

Hello…

Little O! 4 & a quarter years old and not missing a thing these days. She’s a breath of fresh air, a ray of sunshine & I can.not.believe how she has turned into such a big girl in the blink of an eye! 

Hello…

to hand-holding, heart-holding & dream-holding. There’s nothing quite like a sister. 

And hello…

to our girls. Our hearts. Our happiness and joy and yes, sometimes complete frustration mixed in with that joy. They are the very best thing we’ve ever, ever done. And ohhh… how I love them so. 

 

What are you welcoming this week? Have a GREAT day friends!

Counting My Kisses: So…I must say I’m super excited about our little impromptu photo shoot. The whole thing took 25 minutes + 5 gummy bears per child {parenting is tough work…I’m not above a little bribery now & then!}. A huge thank you to our little beans for cooperating & {mostly} looking at the camera, and an equally huge thank you to the Hubs for realizing I was in the midst of a Crazy Nesting Moment & just rolling with it. I’m so happy with the end result!

Linking up with Lisa Leonard’s fab Hello, Monday series! Have a great one!

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Your girls are so darling!

[Reply]

Hello, Monday! {er…Wednesday!}

Hello, friends!

And hello, new week!

 

So…it’s Wednesday. Many apologies. Thanks for loving me even though I’m failing miserably at my three-posts-a-week plan.

On the bright side: we’ve been having lots of fun & lots of family time during our last week of summer vacay! Let’s say hello to the new {er…new-ish} week, shall we?

 

Hello…

to the sweetest moment ever~ Little O taking a rare afternoon nap. The princess hat is just icing on the cake, no? 

Hello…

to our little football girls, checking out the high school’s new field! Running around for an hour on the field = complete heaven for the 2 & 4-year-old set. 

Hello…

to a heart-melting daddy-daughter moment at the beach this weekend. Words cannot express how much I ADORE this picture. 

Hello…

to giggles & airplane rides & having the best time with our little fam.

Hello…

to our sweet, smiley, sandy little girls. They aren’t matching but somehow, they are coordinating?? I swear I do it subconsciously! 

Hello…

to soft baby curls & sweet ponytails & feeling {hoping?} that H-Berry still has a touch of babyhood left.  

Hello…

to that adorable 2.5-year-old grin. Trouble, I tell ya. In the best & spunkiest of ways {although holy bananas she is giving us a run for our money these days!}. 

Hello…

to warm mommy snuggles after a cool swim. I love how happy she was to just stay in my arms! 

Hello…

to Little O making us giggle. She is becoming quite the little ham! 

And hello…

to a visit from the Hubs’ Aunt Joy & Uncle George! The girls are having such fun with them, and so are the Hubs & I! Yay for family. 

 

What are you welcoming this week, friends? Hope it has been all sorts of wonderful so far!

Counting My Kisses:  Today’s agenda: set up the kiddie pool & enjoy these last few days of no-school-schedule sunshine. I’m excited for Little O’s new pre-K adventure next week {and she is THRILLED, which is making it much easier!}…but right now I’m just going to enjoy our littles, our summer days & all of the blessings that come with wrapping up one season & beginning another.

Linking up with Lisa Leonard’s Hello, Monday series. Have a great day, friends!

 

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Diann

So , so, sweet. Where has the summer gone. George and Joy look great. Hugs to all. Can’t wait to meet little “Nug”. Thanks for your, more than sweet, note. Love and miss you.

[Reply]

So happy together {#iPPP}

It’s Fridayyyyy!

Hope you’ve had a great week & have all sorts of fun weekend plans ahead, friends!

On deck for us: we have a nice mix of out-of-town family coming to visit, friends to hang out with at birthday festivities & adventures to go on with the girls. Oh, and did I mention NESTING?! Because that’s happening a whole lot over here, too. More on that next week!

 

It’s been a funny week around here~ the calm before the storm, if you will. Little O starts school on Monday the 26th, but next week we kick into gear with orientation, meeting her teaching, touring her classroom, etc. {I will not cry I will not cry I will not cry}.

 

Anyway, we’ve done a little bit of this & that & had a whole lot of fun! I’ve been snapping pics on my cell to mark our adventures this week. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve been up to:

 

Breaking in Baby Nug’s new blankets. I might be in love with the Aden + Anais brand…and the girls might be too!

Mid-errand donut date with my little ladies {my favorite part: Mommy, look at all these SPRINKLES!}.

Our first back-to-school event: finding out Little O’s new teacher! 

Lunch at the tea room with Grammy~ the girls LOVED being so fancy with their tea cups & tea pots full of pink lemonade. Adorbs! 

Giggles & smiles outside of Little O’s new school. And their typical lets-not-look-at-Mommy-while-she’s-taking-a-picture pose {but at least they’re holding hands!}.

And just goofing around. Love love love our summer girls! 

Lots of dual photos of the girls this week~ I’ll count that as a success! They are so happy together most of the time, the Hubs & I have been noticing how well they’ve been getting along in these last few weeks of summer. It’s such a gift to watch their relationship grow with every passing day!

 

Linking this post up with the fab Greta from Gfunkified and the lovely Sarah from Sunday Spill to share my favorite phone photos from the week. Love!

GFunkified

Counting My Kisses: I adore snuggling up with the Hubs after a long week & scrolling through my cell pictures with him. I try to take approximately ten million photos a week, so that while he’s working hard at work, the girls & I can brighten his day with a goofy smile, a funny moment or just simply what we’re up to that day. It’s such fun to have a linkup that celebrates that too {thanks Sarah & Greta!}!

Have a GREAT weekend, friends!

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I just love their FACES!! What an exciting week. And donuts. YUM. We love the A&A blankets, too. My 2yo has, like, five of them, and they’re all interchangeably called his “bapi”. Lately he’s been sleeping with “bapi and bapi numba two.” I die.

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Awww… They are so cute! Love to see how they love each other! :)

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Amy, the girls are so beautiful. Love the tea room. My daughter would be just as thrilled!

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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.

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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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