17 August 2017

3 things

I don't know everything,  and I certainly don't know everything about marriage. But here's the deal: Jay and I are imperfect people, but we love each other and we've worked really hard to create a marriage that is happy and comfortable and full of love. We've worked for it, and I think any two people who want to work for it can have a happy marriage too. (I fully understand that relationships are complicated and it takes two to tango, but all of these things have really worked in our specific situation and others that I know. Plus, science and research.)

So here are 3 things we try to do that work.

Think nice:
Your relationship cannot be happy if you're thinking mean or harsh things about your spouse all the time. Happiness and harsh words or critical thoughts cannot coexist. They represent darkness and light, contention and peace, like and dislike and they cannot exist in the same space. Not that we have complete control over what wanders into our head, but I believe we have a choice about what we do with those thoughts once they end up there. So stop it. Stop is as soon and as often as you can. Make a conscious effort to think only good things about your spouse for a full day- a full week- forever. They will feel the difference and so will you. And remember your brain is like a muscle, and the more you work that muscle and choose what you do with those thoughts, the stronger it will get. You can literally rewire your brain. It may take time, especially if you haven't exactly worked on your thoughts very often the last year (or five or ten years).

Don't keep score:
Things aren't even- no two jobs are the same, no two people are the same. Some people enjoy laundry, some people hate dishes, so no two jobs are equal in the grand scheme. Not to mention no to peoples' mental capacities are the same at the same point in time. Some seasons are more emotionally exhausting than others, and it's ok for things to be a little imbalanced on paper during those times. Some days are more exhausting, and we each may have less capacity for things left at the end of those. Preferences and abilities are different: some people care more about it being clean, some people don't. Some people like doing research and planning, and some would rather just go for it. So the best way I've found to even the drawing board is to forget it. Totally and completely forget it. If I want to do something (aka I want the dishes done right this moment or have a clean house or whatever) that's my prerogative- not something Jay is indebted to me for. And vice versa. If he prefers to do really detailed planning on trips and projects or have a perfectly manicured lawn, that can be his thing. Important sidetone: if you need help, ask, but it is never fair to keep silent score against your spouse. It creates immediate opposition. You only keep score if you're on different teams. Stop. It.

Be happy and express love:
If we are to act not be acted upon, I think the best choice we can make is to be happy regardless of the circumstance. I'm always struck at how quickly attitude contagion happens. If Jay is happy, it's hard for me to be upset or angry and vice versa. We (hopefully) love our spouses, and we may even tell them. What if we followed the Savior's advice and took it a step further to show them love and kindness every day. It's a lot easier to think, "they know I love them" than it is to make sure that they know and have not forgotten. Try using their love languages. I'm not exaggerating when I say speaking each others love languages has made all the difference in our marriage. You may be showing them love in ways they don't recognize, which makes you feel bad or irritated, and them feel unloved. Make an effort to show kindness and to be happy regardless of circumstance. When you have capacity to- be the sunshine.

I say these things not because I'm perfect at them, but that I'm imperfect.
I can be intense and emotional and a million other things all in one day,
and these are things that help me to have a happier marriage.
I am happier when I do these things, and I'm trying to be happy.
I believe life is made for us to be happy, so if you aren't feeling happy... trying is always worth a shot.

14 August 2017

Potty Training: the good, the bad, and the yucky

Potty Training happened over here a few weeks ago. Now before you think I'm some overachiever, you must know I wasn't planning on it all happening this early. It started when she would follow me into the bathroom, then she watched the Daniel Tiger episode (season 2, episode 1 you're welcome) and I thought it would be good to start a conversation about it. You know, just to make sure she has a happy from of reference for the whole thing once it came.

Then, (guys, she is crazy verbal) she started saying things like "I wanna go potty on the big girl potty!" and walking into the bathroom and closing the door every time she went pee or poop, and telling me as she paused and got a blank stare on her face, "Mom, I'm peeing right now!". And that went on for two solid months. Because we were headed on a twelve hour roadtrip with just the two of us, and another week-long family vacation so I was dragging my feet and thinking it might go away. Then I wanted to get her in a big girl bed first, in case she was the kind of kid that could potty train through the night. Luckily (sort of) that wasn't in the cards for her because we never did get that bed done and installed before we started potty training.

Long story short, we started. I had two different friends who had really good luck with the three-day method for potty training, so that's what we decided to use. I loved it. It's a quick read--like, you can read it all in one night. It's common sense and involves positive reinforcement, understanding, and creating opportunities for learning. Also it requires potty training and attention to your child to be your job and #1 priority for a few days- which I thought was logical since it is basically a job. So Jay and I talked through it, read the book, talked about what I won't be doing, what I will need from him, etc. and we started.

Day 1: We had several accidents in the morning, but by night time she had told me and made it to the potty more than once. We watched a lot of Moana and drew a lot of pictures sitting on a towel outside the bathroom this day.

Day 2: This was our hardest day. She hadn't slept well for her nap during day 1 or nighttime (accidents both times) and was tired. She made it through the first half of the day without accidents, but woke up from her nap early super grumpy and proceeded to have several more accidents before the end of the day. She successfully pooped on the toilet before bed (I basically caught her in the act of pooping and set her on the potty for her to finish the job, but it worked) and got a present for that, so we ended the day on a high note.

Day 3: Day 3 was a dream! A stressful dream, because I was worried about her having an accident all day, but still a dream! She went all day without an accident and I felt like she had finally caught on.

Post-three day method & issues we encountered:
The day after we finished the "method" training we went to Costco and she successfully went on a public toilet, which I was worried about! (Also worried about shopping in a warehouse so far from the bathroom, but we made it). I was feeling pretty good about it all. Then we went to the park with some cousins. And it was terrible. She told me she needed to go, but it was a little too late and she had a small accident, we rushed her to the potty to finish but I think she was stressed out and couldn't. I mean, I don't blame her- have you seen park bathrooms?! So that meant she had a second accident. Then we let her free-wander off in the trees with Boo for a while and came back with... can you guess? A little present for me. So 48 hours of no accidents finished off with a solid 3 within two hours.

One major problem we had (that contributed to the park accidents) was that if I knew she had quite a bit to drink and should probably go before we left somewhere she WOULD NOT. Like, would scream and do the dying swan type of would not try. She was totally great about going if it was her idea, but "trying" was not something she was game for. We have successfully skirted this issue by making a game out of "taking turns" with mom. Since we found this trick we haven't had any accidents because I can typically get her to empty her bladder before we end up somewhere I know could be too distracting for her to tell me in time. The other issue we've had is less major, and actually a little funny. Rory just has a hard time remembering to pull her underwear down, so three separate times she has gone up and gotten on the potty by herself and gone, only to call me up to help because she realized she still has her underwear on. Honestly, it's a pretty hassle-free mistake so I laugh more than get frustrated. Check with me in a few months to see how I feel if it doesn't change.

Night time. The woman who wrote the book had tons of ideas for nighttime potty-training and is a big believer that you should do both at the same time (meaning daytime and nighttime). This is I think the only point that I somewhat disagree on. Well actually, if you were super diligent and wanted your kid to be nighttime trained really badly I'm sure you could. But before we started potty training, Rory would still wake up with a super full diaper every morning and even if we withheld liquids 2-3 hours before bed and went potty twice before going to sleep, she would still have an accident an hour or two before she usually wakes up in the morning. I think 12 hours was just too long for her tiny bladder and she is the kind of girl who NEEDS her sleep, so we decided to give it the old college try, then after three nights we went to pull-ups. My plan is to hopefully do cloth diapers since there's only one per day and that's totally doable, and save pull-ups for things like vacations.

Update after a few weeks: Poop is still a little bit of a trial. I know when she needs to go because she tells me she needs to, then the moment she sits down stands right back up and declares, "No! I don't need to!" and does this about 6 times in a day. Apparently she likes her privacy on this matter, because if at the end of the night I take off her underwear for her and let her go by herself, she almost always gets the job done.

As for night time, we use ordered a cheap cloth diaper with good reviews off Amazon, and that's worked great. I'm planning on ordering several more and saving pull-ups for special occasions and babysitters! Unless she has something big to drink directly before bed, she wakes up fairly dry almost every morning anyways, which is new for her. Since we won't be spending money on pull-ups I'm putting off nighttime potty training for a while.

Otherwise, we still have accidents here or there, maybe once per week if I forget to take her potty before her nap or she's with a babysitter that's not family for the first time since potty-training (oops!), but otherwise she is doing amazing! I know this may not be the case with all my kids, so I'm counting my lucky stars with her.

10 August 2017

My baby and my hair

There's this conversation from college that I sometimes think of and chuckle. My hair was always a little crazy and pretty much always different. I never have been a girl who wears my hair the exact same way every day. Half-up, straight, curly, messy, bun, braids, etc. I admit that I am a much more boring hair person in my new role of motherhood, but the concept still resonates.

The conversation went something like...
Roommate: "how do you do that with your hair?"
Me: "I just figure out how it wants to be... then I help it along."

My roommate then proceeded to laugh at me for a good while, which is I think why I remember it so well. I had just spoken of my hair like it was a separate living creature, so I guess I understand. And I never thought of that as an actual applicable principle then- but it applies to motherhood pretty dead on.

First, a story:
Rory was sick for a week. (she wasn't dying, just bad enough to be clingy and not sleep well enough to get better) And I'm just not very good at slowing down. You know, exercise, shower, get the baby up, make sure all the dishes are done before Rory has finished her breakfast, get her dressed, finish a project, vacuum the floors, plan dinner, make lunch, do more dishes, four loads of laundry, pick up all the toys, wipe counters, pay bills. Oh, you didn't want to hear about the endless chores in my life? Me either. But by the end of Rory's sick week I couldn't handle the rat race with a whiny toddler. So late in the afternoon when both of our nerves were about gone (insert "HOLD YOU" in the whiniest voice possible 20 times the next time you try to make dinner)  I grabbed her softest blank and we cuddled into my bed and watched a movie of her choice. And as we laid in bed and she held my hand that conversation about my hair popped into my head.

What if I were a little more like that with my kid? What if instead of trying to force her to be the exact same every day (i.e. my hair has a little curl today? Cue the straightener) I tried to first figure out what she's prone to be that day, and worked with that instead of against it? What if I slowed down and watched a movie with her when she was clingy and took her to the park when she had too much energy? What if I sat down and gave her five solid minutes of my undivided attention when she needed it instead of ignoring her and pushing forward at half-capacity because she needed me and I didn't want to slow down?

Even with one baby I have an embarrassing amount of days on record where I have tried to force everything to happen instead of listening to what she needs. And to be completely honest, most of the time what she needs ends up being what I need too. (Funny how that works) I'm not saying you should give your child everything they want right when they want it, but I'm learning there is something to giving your child what they need. So here's to publicly admitting fault and committing to be better. To do more listening, and less ignoring needs until I can't deal anymore. I think this probably means more hand holding in my near future. I've always been a believer that if you put the important things first, everything else will fit. And being a mom- like, really being a Jesus following, intentional, kind mom is just one of those really important things that needs to come first.

07 August 2017

The sea and my soul

After the last trip to grandma's house I thought it was bad, but this trip really sealed the deal. I now have a two year old that dreams of California, and in all her games of pretend tells me she's going on a plane to California. And every time I answer the pretend phone she says it's "California" on the other line.

My California-born heart has been a little weepy over the whole thing. I don't think Jay and I will ever end up back in California (But you never know, fate may make me eat my words) but that state really is something to behold. And I feel like I've been spoiled to spend my time on the central coast and in the foothills, where my girl CA really shines bright.

This happens to have been one of my favorite family beach trips on record. Although the flu hit us hard starting with Rory the night we arrived and subsequently hit almost everyone (whyyy did it have to be the flu!?) we really did have a good time. The flu kept us fairly cooped up, but whoever was well at the time spent their days playing cornhole, walking the beach, and building sandcastles with the babies. Jay is always the master fire-builder and we had lots of good bonfires and watched fireworks on the 4th from the sand.

My soul mostly is home in the mountains, but there's something calming about the sea.

31 July 2017

Back home

Gosh, I love my grandma's house. It's the one place from my childhood that is still ours and still the same, and there's just something so comforting about that. 

Our trip was full of simple magic and nostalgia. We stayed at grandma's house, ate cobbler made from fresh peaches, went to the zoo, spent quiet mornings on the porch, and Rory romped around with Ginger (the dog) and the new kitten as often as we'd let her. Ginger passed away and went home a few weeks after we left: I like to think she went home to be with grandpa when his year anniversary of being called home came. Rory still talks about Ginger often, and I still think of all that's different these days.. and hold tight to all that remains the same. 

Grandma still gardens, she still loves books and read to Rory every night, she still makes the best tortellini soup and sourdough pancakes on the planet. She still sends me home with homemade jams and cinnamon raisin bread, and she still has impeccable taste. On that note, I think every time I'm there I find a new piece of timeless furniture I love and haven't noticed before. 

We went home because i needed my people. And I needed them to know my baby. We moved when Rory was just three weeks old and with everything happening in my own family, we haven't come back for more than a few days for funerals in over a year. So these people who came to my graduations and made me dinner more times than I can count and were in the temple on my wedding day didn't know this tiny person who made me a mom. And I just couldn't live with that for another year; so I went home. 

Because I went home, I will always chuckle thinking of Rory jumping off the couch onto Uncle Ty's lap yelling "Uncle Pie!", and I will always remember bathing my baby in the claw footed tub where grandma used to bathe me, and I will remember Rory asking for weeks and weeks after (ok, she's still asking) if we could "go to California mommy". I will remember how sweetly she asked if she could help grandma put flowers on grandpa's grave in my favorite sweet little cemetery, and how much she obsessed over her cousins (especially baby Ruth: pronounced Roof). There's just something about being home that grounds me and reminds me what I actually want and who I want to be. So for today we will keep chugging along from far away grateful that there's always holidays and eternities where we get to be with all our people. If you have a chance-- (even if that chance involves 13 hours of driving by yourself with a toddler) go home.