Category Archives: Life

Metta Mom: Learning self-care, compassion, and loving-kindness

meditatingIn Buddhism, there is a meditation practice called metta or loving-kindness. According to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, “Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love.”

Since I began practicing mindfulness and meditation and learning more about the philosophies surrounding its practice, metta has resonated with me particularly. It is my favorite meditation practice, and I think it can be particularly useful for women — especially moms.

Compassion comes naturally to most of us. We care for our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our nieces and nephews, our neighbors, even strangers. Metta is not a difficult concept for women. But when you spend a lot of time with women — as most women do — you will hear a common complaint: we spend all this time taking care of other people, but we all wish we were better at taking care of ourselves.

Self-care can mean a lot of things. It can be as simple as taking a minute in a chaotic day to just slow down and breathe. It can mean eating well, exercising more, getting enough sleep. It can mean making time for the things that make you feel happy and calm and centered.

In metta practice, we first focus all of our love and kindness and compassion on ourselves. We must learn to be gentle, kind, and accepting of ourselves before we can learn to generate those feelings for others. It’s like adjusting your own oxygen mask before helping others. I think most women could benefit from a reminder to love ourselves as much as we love others.

For the next few weeks, I will be posting here about some of the things I’ve been learning in my own metta practice. I will be writing about self-care, kindness, and compassionate living. How can we be kinder to ourselves, each other, our kids, our spouses, and the world? How can we be more mindful of the present moment, and help our kids learn to do the same? How can we be happier, calmer, and more fulfilled through these practices?

I am testing these ideas here in the hopes of starting a new project, but I know many of my frugal living readers can benefit from these concepts, too. I hope that you will follow along and chime in!

Photo by Take Back Your Health Conference courtesy of Creative Commons license.

Does having kids destroy your marriage?

Yesterday, this terribly sad editorial about a writer who blames having children for the destruction of her marriage popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. I made the mistake of reading the comments, which were split between people calling this couple terrible and selfish, and child-free people using it to justify their life choices.  After reading it, though, my first thought was this: perhaps their perfect pre-kids marriage wasn’t as perfect as she believed.

I am the first person to admit, if you don’t want kids more than you want to sleep, they are not for you. But she wanted them! Not just one, but three (and then surprise! she got four). And then she blamed the challenges the kids brought to her marriage on its destruction.

The kids aren’t the problem, though. Kids do challenge a marriage, but it’s only because kids come with built-in adversity. Being responsible for another human is stressful, and sharing that responsibility with another person adds stress to the relationship. Every marriage will eventually be tested, but when you have kids, you’re essentially signing up for an endurance trial for yourself and your marriage. I don’t know, maybe there are child-free couples who make it through marriage without adversity. I doubt it. I suspect if this couple had decided not to have children, they eventually would have encountered a challenge great enough to break them. You either get through those challenges together, or you fall apart.

From my personal perspective, it’s hard to know whether the incredibly easy years of my marriage were easy because we didn’t have kids yet or because we were young and the relationship was relatively new. We’d only been married two years when Judah was born. The only really hard months of our marriage so far were the ones that followed the birth of each of our kids. And yes, it was much harder after Noah than it was after Judah. We were tired. We were stressed. We were emotionally drained. There is little time to take care of yourself, let alone worry about another person. You put your head down, and you go into survival mode. And as everyone will tell you, it’s totally normal. Adding a human to your family is tremendously stressful, and even the strongest marriages take a temporary hit with that kind of stress. We bickered more. We kissed less. And for those few months, everything seemed harder. But never once did I think my life would be easier without my husband. I reminded myself daily that this was hard, period. It wasn’t hard because of him or because there was something wrong with our relationship. In fact, even on the hardest days, I recognized that even the bad days were better with him in them.

I think the difference between the couples who make it and the ones who don’t is that they eventually put their heads up and realize they’re neglecting the most important relationship in their lives. For me, it happened when each of my kids was about 4-6 months old. I woke up from the sleep-deprived induced haze, and I realized that if I didn’t start putting in that effort again those weeks could turn into months, and months into years, and eventually I wouldn’t recognize my previously loving, devoted marriage. The trick is keeping that temporary adversity from becoming a permanent problem. And make no mistake, if you love your spouse and want your marriage to last, he or she has to be the most important person in your life. Collectively, you will always put the kids first, so individually, you have to put your spouse first.

Will your marriage ever be the same after kids? No, but it’s not your marriage that changes. It’s your life. YOU change. Your circumstances change. Your marriage can either adapt or fall apart. You can’t blame the children, though. That’s a cop out. It wasn’t the kids that damaged this marriage; it was the adversity.

On Mother’s Day

mothers dayToday I am thankful for my boys. Being a mom is the hardest and easiest thing I have ever done. Loving these boys feels as natural as breathing, but the sleepless nights, the worry, the days when my patience is low and they’re being particularly challenging — those parts of motherhood don’t always come so easily.

I’m thankful to these boys for forgiving me so quickly when I make mistakes, and loving me in spite of my flaws. I’m thankful for Judah, who tells me I’m beautiful with absolute sincerity even on my worst days and frequently says, “You’re the best mama I ever saw in my whooooole life.” I’m thankful for Noah, who looks at me like I’m the world and the sun and the moon and everything in between because my love was the very first love he ever knew.

We talk a lot about the sacrifices of motherhood, but we rarely mention where mothers find the strength to give so much of themselves — it’s because of all the strength and unconditional love that our kids give to us. So thank you, sweet boys. I promise to keep trying my very hardest to be worthy of the love and trust you give to me so freely.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas and the aunts and the big sisters and the nannies and the teachers and any woman who has ever made a difference in the life of a child. The children you love and support and teach appreciate all that you do for them, whether they tell you so or not, and the world is a better place because of you.

And a special shout out to my mom, who taught me to always listen to my instincts; be confident in my choices; never stop learning and growing; and most importantly, to love fearlessly.

On encouraging each other

I don’t have to tell you that parenting is hard work. Especially parenting small children. When you’re toting two small kids around on a sub-zero, snowy day, tasks that would maybe be a minor inconvenience on your own become monumental, exhausting hard work.

Case in point: a trip to a doctor’s office. Before I had children, it was annoying to sit in a waiting room for up to an hour waiting for my name to be called. But there was no work involved. It was just inconvenient. Now with a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old, it might as well be the Olympics of parenting.

The first event? Getting everyone dressed and out the door. What was once complicated with just a preschooler is now nearly impossible. Change the baby’s diaper, dress the baby, feed the baby, feed the 3-year-old, dress the 3-year-old, remind the 3-year-old to go potty, bundle the 3-year-old up, change the baby’s diaper again (of COURSE he chooses this moment to poop). By the time I’ve managed to do all of this, it’s time to feed the baby again, and while I’m sitting in the chair doing that, the 3-year-old takes off his shoes and coat and sometimes even his pants, and the whole process starts over again.

If you manage to make it out the door and to the appointment on time, you now have to face the next event: filling out the stack of paperwork they hand you at the reception desk with no consideration for how you’re going to manage it while keeping the 3-year-old entertained and holding the 4-month-old in your lap. Ten pages later (including a medical history that no one reads and insurance information that they already have on file after copying your insurance card), after juggling the clip board and pen and baby in your hands while stopping every 30 second to remind the 3-year-old not to drag the waiting room chairs across the room and please use your inside voice and don’t block the entry door, and “Don’t go back there, it’s not our turn yet!”, they finally call you back.

Now the main event: a room full of shiny, expensive objects and drawers and cabinets and the trash can full of who knows what germs and those damn rolling stools that every 3-year-old is just dying to use as a skateboard so he can crack open his head on the floor. It was hard enough keeping Judah entertained without getting into anything at the doctor’s office when it was just the two of us. Trying to keep him out of trouble with his brother in my lap is pretty much impossible.

This was my experience yesterday at an appointment for Judah with an ENT to look into a minor allergy-related concern that his pediatrician had at his annual check-up. It wasn’t even a particularly bad day. In fact, Judah was being pretty well behaved all things considered. He sat next to me in the waiting room, and we made silly faces at his brother, and I quizzed him on opposites, and we talked about dinosaurs. After a night of interrupted sleep with the sleep-regressing 4-month-old, what I really wanted was to zone out, stare into space as we waited or even close my eyes and catch a few minutes of rest. But I needed not only to be awake, but to keep Judah entertained and Noah happy and avoid disturbing the waiting room full of child-free adults.

By the time I made it to the check-out desk to schedule a follow-up appointment, we’d been in the office for about two hours. Noah had been awake the whole time, and I could tell it was close to time to feed him again. I was waiting in line not looking forward to bundling the kids back up, schlepping them through the icy, cold parking lot, and buckling them into car seats to finally get them home.

I was next in line when an older woman approached me. She said hello to Judah and peeked at Noah in his car seat. “You have two beautiful boys,” she said. I thanked her.

Then she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I was in the waiting room with you, and I just wanted to tell you, you are one hell of a good mom. Your boys are lucky.” And she smiled, and walked away.

As parents, we’re used to putting in long hours of exhausting work. We love our kids, and the reward for all of our hard work is watching them grow and thrive. There is no question that they’re worth it. But sometimes it’s nice to hear a kind word from a stranger and know that someone else has noticed how hard you’re working to take care of these tiny people. She took 10 seconds out of her day to stop and say something nice to an exhausted mom of young kids, and it made such a huge impact on my day. I’m so grateful for her kindness.

I’m determined to pay it forward. I want to make someone’s day the way this stranger made mine. I want to pay attention to the other parents around me, and notice what they’re doing right. It’s easy to judge other parents, but wouldn’t it be nice if we spent more time encouraging each other?

I’d like to try.

Potty training: the Final Frontier. Or something.

This is the last post I will write about my child’s toilet habits. I promise. (Well, my first child anyway.)

Since I was only a few days into the potty training adventure when I wrote my step-by-step breakdown of our potty training boot camp adaptation, I wanted to share a quick update. I fully expected the whole thing to go completely off the rails a few days later and result in 6 months of training despite our early success.

That hasn’t happened. In fact, the opposite is true.

Last weekend marked three weeks since we stopped using diapers. And aside from night time and exactly one play date, we have been diaper and Pull-Up free ever since. It took about two weeks for him to finally (FINALLY) go #2 in the potty, and he hasn’t looked back. I honestly don’t remember the last time he had an accident (maybe a week ago?) Aside from some help cleaning up occasionally (ahem), he has been using the potty completely independently at home. About a week into the process, he started preferring the big toilet with a child seat over his Elmo potty. He’s able to climb on and off on his own with just a step stool, so I’m not even cleaning up a potty seat anymore. YAY YAY YAY.

This past weekend, we took our first diaper-free road trip to visit my husband’s family. I considered a Pull-Up for the 3-hour drive, but ultimately decided that I didn’t like the idea of setting that precedent. I didn’t want him to think it was okay to pee in his pants in his car seat. Instead, I put a dish towel under him, brought some changes of clothes, and stopped a few times to let him use the bathroom. He stayed completely dry on both the trip there and back.

I was also concerned that he’d be too distracted playing with his grandparents to remember to stop and go potty. Nope! He didn’t have a single accident.

The most surprising thing of all? He wakes up with a dry Pull-Up every single morning. We’re about halfway through the only box we’ve ever purchased, and I’m pretty sure we won’t need to buy another. I’m continuing to use them at night as an insurance policy, but when these are gone, I think I’ll try putting him to bed in underpants and hoping for the best. We do have a waterproof mattress cover as extra protection, so worst case scenario is lots of sheet washing. (This definitely varies kid-to-kid, though, and I advocate doctors’ advice not to rush or push night-time training. Some kids don’t master it until age 4 or 5, and that’s completely normal.)

I’m pretty sure we’re closing the book on the potty training chapter with this one. I cannot believe how easy it ended up being, and I’m relieved beyond words that it’s done and over with a full three months before his baby brother is due to arrive. I don’t think I could have gotten it done this quickly and painlessly while also nursing and caring for a newborn.

It hasn’t been sunshine and roses. Those two weeks before he finally pooped in the potty were rough. Public restrooms are a NIGHTMARE. I was so glad that he wasn’t afraid to use public toilets in the beginning, but now I wish he were afraid, because then he wouldn’t insist on running around the germ-infested room touching ev.er.y.thing. Sigh. But I’m not changing diapers anymore, so I’m willing to work on the rest.

I’m absolutely a believer in the straight-to-underpants approach, and the intensive 3-day potty training method. It worked like a charm for us, and Judah is only two-and-a-half. Only you can decide if this is the right approach for your toddler, but I would definitely say that if you’ve been struggling with months of on-again/off-again potty training success, this is worth trying!

Potty training in 3 days without Pull-Ups

Drying diapersJudah has been showing interest in the potty for a couple months now, but mostly never did anything when we took him in there. Just a couple weeks ago he finally started acknowledging when he needed a new diaper, so I set a goal to start the process this month after my extended maternity leave began and while my husband was on vacation.

I considered several options for potty training undergarments — disposable Pull-Ups, expensive cloth trainers, cheap reusable cloth trainers, and some hybrid DIY cloth trainer options. But the majority of people who offered advice told me that going straight to underwear is the way to go. Anything else is just an expensive crutch that delays the inevitable. The idea of giving up diapers cold turkey terrified me — I imagined my expensive furniture covered in urine and ruined by the end of the first day — but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

After a little more research, I found a huge following for an intense method that people call “potty training boot camp.” There are lots of different versions of the method (Google search it for lots of different perspectives on the topic), but the most popular involves three days of intense, pantsless potty training at home followed by three months of no pants at home. I decided to modify it a bit and try it myself.

Protect your furniture.

First I had to take some precautions. We have laminate flooring, so accidents on the floor don’t concern me much. My furniture, on the other hand, is only a year old, and it was a huge investment for us. Our decision to spring for fancy slip-covered furniture actually paid off. We were able to wrap the cushions in large trash bags beneath the slip covers to protect them. The covers are 100% cotton and wash up like a dream, so I felt much better knowing that an accident could be quickly cleaned up without affecting the cushions beneath. We also put towels on top of the cushions in the hopes that we could catch small accidents without having to wash the covers every time. This step made the whole process feel a lot less stressful. If you have removable covers on your couch cushions, I highly recommend you do this!

Clear your calendar.

This potty training method relies on your commitment to stay home for at least three days. It is not easy. By the end of day 3, our whole family was going stir crazy. Staying home really did make all the difference, though. It gives the child a chance to build a solid foundation of learning without interruptions. We chose the long Memorial Day weekend, but my husband is also on vacation this week, so we knew we could take an extra couple days if necessary. Having backup was really helpful. You have to watch your toddler like a hawk the whole time, so a second pair of eyes is huge.

Throw away the diapers.

The next step is easy: say goodbye to diapers. That means Pull-Ups, too (during waking hours anyway). When your toddler wakes up on day 1, tell him or her that it’s time to wear underpants and go on the potty like a big boy/girl. Choose underwear that your toddler will like with fun characters on them to make it more exciting. Put them on your kid, and don’t look back!

Many people who use this method choose to let their toddler go bare-bottomed to make it easier for them to go. But there is also a downside to this — once the kid gets used to running around half naked, it’s an extra step to convince him to wear underwear or teach him to pull his pants down when it’s time to go. I also have enough trouble convincing Judah to wear pants at home — I didn’t want to encourage his natural inclination toward nudity. The other possible downside is that the toddler won’t feel as wet after accidents, which I think helps make the connection with how it feels when they need to go. Sure, there is more laundry to do, but those tiny underwear don’t take up much space in the washer. Plus the underwear will at least contain the poopy accidents somewhat.

Watch and remind.

The first day was extremely stressful. I tried to relax, but the truth is I was on edge, watching him like a hawk expecting an accident any minute. I used this free Potty Baby iPhone app to track when he used the potty and remind me to remind him. We started by reminding him every 15 minutes. We let him drink as many fluids as he wanted (I even allowed juice, which is usually a special treat). We only had a handful of accidents on day 1, but I was diligent. I put his potty right in the living room (I found it easier to have it front and center near where he was playing instead of all the way in the bathroom at the end of the hall). I asked him every 15-20 minutes if he needed to sit on the potty. If he said no, I encouraged him and bribed him with stickers or M&Ms — whatever it took to get him to sit down and go. We celebrated when he sat down and tried, and went bonkers when he succeeded.

We also found it helpful to watch the potty episodes of his favorite TV shows. This episode of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” — available on Amazon Prime Instant Watch for $1.99 — was particularly helpful for him. He liked to sing the little song when he was waiting on the potty, and he has been very adamant about washing his hands every time he goes. Bonus points for good hygiene!

What kind of potty seat is best?

Initially, I planned to use a small seat that fits on a regular toilet like those made by toto toilets. I thought it would be nice to eliminate the extra step of teaching him to use the big potty eventually. But I found that the small, standalone potty actually has a lot of benefits. First of all, it can be brought into the play space (if you’re not squeamish about having a toilet in your living room for a couple days). Just put a nice thick towel under it to protect the floor from accidents and dribble. It seemed to work as a good reminder for Judah to see the potty seat right where he was playing, and it was also closer for him to get there as soon as he realized he had to go. The potty seat is also small enough that he doesn’t need help getting on and off, which saved us a lot of energy during an exhausting experience (especially since I’m 5+ months pregnant). He could run over and use it on his own without help by the end of the first day, but he will probably need help climbing on and off the big toilet for a while yet.

I also found it very helpful to be able to track whether he actually went or not and how much. He faked us out several times in the first couple days by sitting on the potty and declaring “I’m done!” — but he hadn’t actually peed. If the potty was empty, we knew we had to continue watching him very closely. There were also times when he went just a little bit, and we knew he’d need to go again soon. It’s harder to monitor that when you’re using a regular toilet.

We let him use the big toilet with the seat a few times throughout the day to make sure he was okay with that, too. I don’t think the transition will be too tough for him. But I will probably keep the small potty seat around for a while just because it’s easier for him to use without a lot of help.

What about naps and night time?

I didn’t think naps would be an issue, because Judah dropped his afternoon nap a couple months ago. The potty training excitement must have tired him out, though, because he fell asleep on the couch all three days. Since the couches were lined with plastic and towels, I let him sleep in underwear. I stayed nearby in the hopes that I could catch him as soon as he woke up and hustle him to the potty. I fully expected him to pee in his sleep on day 1, but I was surprised when he woke up totally dry. He was pretty crabby about it when I put him straight on the potty as soon as he started to stir, but with just a little convincing, he went. So that’s how we handled naps all three days.

I think he’s still a little young for night training, so we are putting him in a Pull-Up at bedtime. They’re pricier than diapers, but I wanted them to at least look a little different and slide on like underwear. I call them his “special night time underpants” so they seem a little different to him than diapers. He has been wet (and sometimes dirty) every morning. When I start to notice him waking up dry most days, we’ll move forward with night training. Ten hours is a long time to go without peeing for a toddler, and I’d rather have restful sleep than a night-trained 2-year-old at this point.

Stick with it at least 3 days.

We had several accidents on day 1. On day 2, we only had three — two in the morning, and one in the afternoon. By day 3, we had just one small accident, but he quickly realized it was happening and ran to the potty to finish up. Even though he wasn’t having accidents on day 3, I was concerned that he still needed a lot of reminding and encouragement to sit on the potty. I knew he was making good progress, though, because I’d increased the reminder time from 20 minutes to 40 minutes, and he wasn’t having accidents in between. He was holding it. He also went on his own a few times without being reminded. By day 4, though, something seemed to click. He woke up and went straight to the potty on his own (even though his Pull-Up was wet), and then continued to go on his own throughout the day with few reminders.

Make the first outing quick and familiar.

By day 4, we were all pretty stir crazy, so I decided to take the big step and get out of the house. My husband was skeptical about going out without a diaper or Pull-Up. I considered putting him in a Pull-Up, but I didn’t like the idea of taking a step back. I was afraid that as soon as he had that “diaper,” he’d just go about his business as he’s done the past 2.5 years. I decided to risk it and give him a chance to really test his new skills.

I did take precautions, though! I made sure he went right before we walked out the door, and I put a small dish towel under him in his car seat (nothing too bulky, or it could compromise the safety of the seat). I also brought a change of clothes just in case. We had a big talk about how important it is to stay dry in his car seat, and how exciting it would be to use the big potty at the store. We brought a big bath towel for him to sit on in the cart so clean up wouldn’t have to be too embarrassing or messy.

We decided to take a quick trip to Target, partly because there were a few things we needed, but mostly because he’s familiar with the place. (We’ve also hit the family bathroom there a ton since I’ve been pregnant.) I brought him into the family bathroom first thing and let him sit right on the big toilet (with my help so he wouldn’t fall in). I had read several recommendations to bring a portable potty seat for public bathrooms, but I wanted to see if I could convince him to use the regular toilet to avoid having to carry a potty seat around or teach him to do it later. Sure enough, he did just fine! He was really excited to flush the big toilet and wash his hands in the sink.

I set the timer on my phone to remind me in 30 minutes, and we hustled through the store. About 20 minutes later, my husband and I had split up briefly, and Judah told his dad that he needed a diaper. My husband rushed him back to the bathrooms, helped him climb back on the toilet, and he went again. I was impressed that he asked to go even out at the store. He made it through the entire 1-hour outing completely dry!

Number 2 is not so easy.

At this point, I would say the whole thing has been a huge success. He has been going independently with few reminders. But as of day 4, we still have not had a #2 on the potty. He either goes in his Pull-Up first thing in the morning … or he has an accident in his underwear. When that happens, I do NOT shame him or get angry. But I do bring him over to the potty and have him sit down. Then I tell him, “Poop goes in the potty now, so next time try to let me know BEFORE you go so we can put it in the potty!” I then make a big deal about dumping the waste in the toilet, and I let him flush it down to show him that’s where we want to put it now. He still seems pretty skeptical, but I’m hoping he’ll figure it out as he gets more comfortable using the toilet. The accidents don’t seem to phase him or upset him too much.

We’ve offered him a pretty big bribe when he finally does the deed — a set of all the Toy Story toys that he’s been wanting for months — but this doesn’t seem to be something he can control. He’s been going this way for 2.5 years, after all. It’s going to take a big psychological step for him to go on the potty. I’m hoping he’ll take that last big step sooner rather than later, but I’m following his lead. Any advice on that front would be much appreciated.

I’m also prepared for additional accidents and possible setbacks. I know we’re not done yet. There are still a few occasions when I’ll probably lean on the Pull-Up crutch — a long car trip, for example. But I’m thrilled with his progress. He is initiating using the potty on his own, remembering to go most of the time, and he’s not wearing diapers! It was an intense few days, but so worth it.

What worked for you when you were potty training?

Potty training without Pull-Ups?

I would love to have Judah potty trained before Baby 2 arrives in September. At almost 2 and a half, he is definitely showing interest. But every time we’ve tried, as much as he wants to get it, it seems like his brain and his bladder just aren’t on the same page.

He frequently asks to go to the potty, and I take him, but nothing usually happens when we get there. It’s a big game. I know he needs more direction and something other than diapers to help him make the connection, but I’ve been putting it off for weeks hoping that I would start to feel better.

I do feel a little better now (somewhat), but more importantly, my husband will be on vacation for a month in May and June, so I’ll have some help. We’ve decided to give it a shot and see if Judah is ready with a little guidance and more intensive efforts on our part.

I know that putting him on the potty while he continues to wear regular diapers is pointless. Those dang things just keep them so dry (great for newborns, not great for potty-training). He needs to feel when he’s wet to make that connection. I considered putting him back in cloth diapers, but I need something that’s easy on and off so we can manage quickly or he can do it himself.

Pull-Ups are the most popular option, but I just can’t get over the price. Twenty five to 30 cents a diaper?! And that’s for the generic brand! We currently pay about 16 cents per diaper for the Target-brand diapers we’ve used since Judah switched out of cloth at 12 months, so doubling our diaper cost is a tough pill to swallow. Especially since the few times I’ve put him in Pull-Ups, they’ve leaked terribly. Plus I really don’t like how similar to diapers they are. I feel like he needs something new and different to help him understand that it’s time for him to try to stay dry.

I also considered reusable training pants like these Flip training pants. They’re easy on and off, but I’ve heard conflicting reports from friends who’ve used them about how effective they are (according to some, the liner shifts and causes leaks). I’m also having the same problem with price. They’re a little more affordable than the all-in-one training pants I’ve seen for $15-$20 each since the cover can be used a few times before washing, but the reusable inserts cost about $6 a piece. If I bought two covers and 12 inserts, I’d pay almost $100 for the whole system. Probably still less than I’d pay for a few months in Pull-Ups, but still. Yikes. Especially since I’m not even sure how well they’ll work.

Several people on my Facebook page suggested DIY options. I found this tutorial for DIY cloth training pants that involves modifying Gerber training pants (the kind that are basically cotton underpants with a little extra layer of padding where it’s needed) to add a few extra layers of flannel and a waterproof outer layer. I like that they look and feel more like underpants, which I think will make a big difference for him psychologically. Plus they’re less bulky. They will definitely leak, but I’ve yet to hear about a training pant that doesn’t. It seems like that’s kind of the point — if they’re as effective as diapers, there’s no incentive for kids to stop wetting them. At least these won’t cost a fortune! They should cost about $2.75 per pair. I can make a dozen for what I’d pay for a few weeks’ worth of Pull-Ups. That seems a lot more doable for something that my toddler is going to pee on.

I haven’t made them yet, and I obviously haven’t tested them, so I guess we’ll see how it goes.

I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed at the prospect of starting this process, though, so I’m curious how you did it. Did you use Pull-Ups? Or are you one of those brave people who went cold turkey with diapers and just cleaned up messes for a few days until it clicked? (I can’t even imagine that right now, though I do hear it’s effective.) Send me your potty-training advice and encouragement!

Here we go again …

Judah has big news to share.

Big brother

Only he says, “I’m not a big brother, I’m a SMALL brother!”

His small(er) sibling is due in late September, which makes me 17 weeks along. Things are going well so far aside from the continued nausea, the hip and pelvic pain that showed up around 10 weeks, and various other pregnancy complaints.

My extended maternity leave begins in May, so I’m hoping to be around more online this summer and early fall.

Here’s hoping for a healthy (and quick!) 23 more weeks. Send us some good vibes!