potty training twins is so much fun.

Potty training twins is no joke. Here's how it's going with both of them:

Julian: Awesome. We do Pull-Ups at night and when we go places, and he pretty much keeps them dry all the time. He holds it and pees in the morning. Unless he really had a lot to drink, he's really good at no accidents. He willingly goes to the potty when I ask, but most of the time he just goes on his onw without even telling me. Number twos are hit and miss. Mostly miss. But I think he's doing really good staying dry. It tells me he really gets it.

Isaiah: Not so awesome. He argues with me every time I tell him he needs to go to the potty. I have to physically drag him in, and once he's on the potty he goes. If I don't make him go, he usually runs off into another room while I'm not looking, pees and then comes to tell me to change him and then points out where he peed. Number twos are equally as ridiculous.

Peace out, potties. I'm officially over potty training. We've been going through this potty training bulls business since the beginning of March. I didn't think the boys were ready then but after a 2 days we were good to go. And now here we are, four months later and no progress made. I'm ready to take some drastic measures. I'm tired of shitty underwear. I'm tired of dumping out the fippin' potties.

Also? The bathroom is TINY. We hardly have room when everyone is in there at the same time. Adding two little potties to the mix is just not working. We had them out in the living space, we're done with that. People do their business in the bathroom, on a toilet. Time to learn about it.

I have two different seats to go on the toilet, one with characters and one softer/plain one. They like flushing the toilet but when it comes to sitting on it? Oh hell no. Sorry guys, we're going to get over it. We REALLY need to get them into preschool in the fall (for speech development and socialization purposes) and I'd like them to be potty trained. I know there are preschools who take kids not-potty trained but I don't want to do that if we don't have to. 

This morning I hid the potties and told the boys I couldn't find them. They both really wanted undies on, I told them no undies until they peed. Julian flipped (because he holds it all night, he sure had to go). He danced around, cried, protested. I opened the toilet lid and threw in two goldfish and told him to pee on them. He finally got the nerve to stand on the stool, the closest he'd been to the toilet. He stood there for the longest time, no pee but at least stood there. Once he got down, he really had to go. And started flipping out. So, I put the lid down, put the soft seat on and just sat his little butt on the potty. He was pissed. He cried and yelled at me until......pee. A big grin came across his face. He did it!  We threw a big party about it.

Minutes later, Isaiah really wanted pants on, I told him he needed to pee first. He was ok with the idea of standing and trying to pee on the fishes. So he stood in there, and seconds later, my kid who has been peeing all over the house, stood up and peed in the toilet. Parties and dancing and singing ensued.

One small victory against potty training. The rest of the day could be a total crapshoot. But I've planted the seed, they get it. 

Pray for my sanity. 

behind the scenes

I think it's safe to say I've found my creative spark once again. I've been so busy the past week working on some things. On the digital side, I've finally got my landing page designed and functional, www.mamamandolin.com . It's the address on my business cards...I wanted my etsy customers to be able to easily find my blog, see who made what they've purchased, get a little bit more invested in the brand and the product.

I updated my business cards, as I was completely out of my old ones. I'm happy about how these turned out and they should be arriving today. Here's a little preview:

AND I designed some stickers to put on the front of my product bags:
The reason I have clear bags? It's such a simple way to store and preserve the product so it doesn't get dusty or dirty. I can easily look in the bin where I keep all my bow ties and see what's available.

I finished up a custom order for a high school friend for a wedding, and I can't wait to see 4 little boys wearing these.

And finally, I started working on a line of lightweight baby blankets I'm going to be adding to the shop. I'm really excited about these. They're made with quality quilting weight cotton fabric and backed with some light weight flannel. I wanted to make something that babeis and kids can enjoy year round. I added rounded edges because I'm not seeing a lot of that with these types of blankets online, and I like the softer look it gives to them.

These definitely aren't just for babies. We have a quilt that the boys got from our friend Kristine that is just about this size and they sleep with theirs every night. Here are a few of my initial blankets:

There really is so much work that goes into running both a blog and online handmade business. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting nowhere but when I put it all together, it's nice to feel proud of all of these things I've created. 

King Julian

When you have twins, they are more than likely grouped together. Not on purpose, but people (even me sometimes) tend to think of them as a pair and their individuality gets lost in the shuffle. I'm doing my best to consciously acknowledge each boy as an individual, and parent them based on their personalities. It's difficult because even though they're the same age, they're much different. 

Today, let's talk a little bit about the oldest and tallest, Julian.

He's generous.
Being born only a minute earlier than his brother, Julian truly understands what it means to be a big brother. He is generous, selfless, a peace-maker. If anyone has been around him and his brother, you know there's this constant dynamic of Isaiah always wanting what Julian has. He'll bother Julian for a trade, even if it's the exact same thing. Julian almost always graciously offers his toy back for a trade, just to make his brother happy, even if he really enjoyed what he was playing with. He doesn't want conflict, he just wants to get on with what he's doing.

He's independent.
When it comes to potty training, when he has to go, he just goes to the bathroom on his own without telling me. He doesn't need help pulling up his pants or moral support to do his duty. He's good. He's got this. If it's quiet and I can't find him, he's usually off in room by himself, playing quietly with his cars. Sometimes he just wants to hang out alone, without being bothered. I love this about him.

If he were an only kid, he'd be so easy. I took him to the store with me alone the other day and I can't tell you how easy it was. He sat nicely, talked with me, waited patiently. No whining or requests. Just quietly sitting and observing everything, just like he's done since birth.

He's silly.
If it makes everyone laugh, he'll keep doing it. Funny faces, weird noises. Once he knows it makes everyone happy, he won't stop. If there's a game he's made up and is playing with his brother, if they're really enjoying it together, he could play all day. He's very much like his daddy in this regard. If things are uncomfortable or someone is in trouble, he likes to change the subject.

He's interesting.
Julian is a straight up weird kid. And it's my absolute favorite thing about him. His body moves in weird ways. His gestures and and facial expressions are just so darn funny. We asked him his favorite things to eat and he replied "Nanas!" and then "Garbage!". He speaks a lot of gibberish when he doesn't know the word or what else to say. Sometimes he completely zones out an I have no idea where his mind is. We call him a space cadet because of this, because he's really gone sometimes. I wish I knew what was going on it that little brain of his! As he grows and learns to speak more, I can't wait to hear about all of the interesting things he comes up with. He's going to have quite the imagination.

Other things he's into lately:
Scaring me or being scared. Eating pickles. Stacking blocks and building lego towers. Counting to 5. Racing his brother on their bikes. Dolls/action figures/etc, especially Woody and a little Storm Trooper bobble head we have. Skipping everywhere. 

Oh Julian, you're growing into such a unique little boy. We are surprised by you every day and you are such a calm (in comparison to your brother) piece of our family. Every day is a new chapter of getting to know you and we love you so much. 

they need me now and stuff.

I don't know where to start with this post other than, exhale. If I'm writing this post it means I have at least ten minutes to myself where I'm not in full-time-mom duty or exhausted from such duties. We've entered a stage of toddlerhood where little dudes require my absolute full attention all day. It's hard to even get time to make meals. If I'm not playing with them, sitting with them, breaking up fights, preventing naughty behavior, watching what they do, changing poopy pants...if I'm not doing these things I'm just straight up a giant blob of blah just laying on my couch. 

They need me right now, and that's perfectly fine. I keep trying to tell myself this, as a desperate mantra bringing me back from the edge of my mommy sanity. As much as I love my children, and any stay at home mom can attest to this, taking a little vacation in toddler-crazytown all. day. long. can quickly push your limits. I want some me time. I desperately crave those days when they went to speech therapy for 4 hours a week. I had four whole hours to myself. During the day. What? 

They need me right now. When you decide to be a mom, you also agree to have your days determined by someone who needs you most. You put aside your needs for awhile, you suck it up, you find the positives, you keep trudging through it. I'm trying to remember this every day when I'm trying to sneak into the spare room without being detected as I hear the boys walking around the house, searching for me, needing something they can probably do themselves. 

I close my eyes and breathe for a minute, because these days, a minute is about the most I can get. 

bow ties!

I know I've been somewhat distant lately-but that's because life has been so, so busy. And part of the being busy is making my etsy shop a priority this summer so I can hopefully spread my wings a little this fall.

That being said, it's wedding season...a perfect time of year for bow ties! 

Just a little reminder, here are some of the things I have in stock, ready to ship. For weddings, I do a lot of custom orders for people, so if you have an idea in mind, I can totally run with it.

And some that aren't currently in stock but I'm working on now AND can be made to order:

Anywho. I'm available. I make things. Email me and I'll be available to make things for you.

You should just visit my shop. OR if you want to be really helpful you could share this post with your friends, because my guess is they know somebody getting married this summer. Or someone who has a kid that digs bow ties. Or both. Or neither. But probably at least one.

distance is a reminder.

There's something extremely powerful about the relationship between distance and love. In the past, Chikezie and I always grew stronger when there was distance between us. Maybe that's how you know it's true love? When you can leave someone and still miss them and grow closer to them in that distance. 

I've felt this same closeness with friends over the past few years as we've moved from city to city, from state to state. I have probably three or four friends who I keep in contact with, in ways other than social media stalking. Friends who reach out to me when it's been awhile, who call every couple of months to catch up. Distance is truly a test of love. 

I was a little apprehensive in the days leading up to our trip to Australia. I was going to be leaving the boys for longer than I'd left them their whole life. It's not a two or three day trip that just as you start to miss them, you're reunited once again and the pains of distance are eased. This was going to be 11 days and about 8000 miles-the farthest I've been from anyone I've loved, let alone two pieces of my heart. 

The distance was necessary, we needed our distance from the boys as we were both starting to get a little burnt out. We don't live where grandparents can regularly take the kids so mom and dad can have a break. It's just us. We've been lucky this year to live near two of the boys' aunts for the occasional date night out, but a real break? We've never had one.

We didn't have a honeymoon. We've never taken a long vacation together in the 8 1/2 years we've been together. (oh my gosh, it's been that long?) I really needed to miss my children. I needed to really miss them. Chikezie and I needed to be alone, we needed to have nights out where we didn't have to worry about a babysitter. We needed an adventure.

Throughout the trip, we'd occasionally bring up something the boys did, or how much we missed them and then quickly changed the subject. We didn't call home for check ups, we didn't skype or have any phone conversations- it was a complete cut off. We filled our days with dates. We had 11 days of dates to make up for the three years we've fallen behind. We talked more than we have in a long time, because we weren't too exhausted or stressed to do so. There were moments I was so busy living that I completely forgot about it all.

By the 10th day, I was ready to go home. I missed them more than I've ever missed anyone. I needed nuzzle my nose into their necks and feel their soft skin. I wanted to have our bedtime routine,  I needed to hear the word, "mommy" come from their sweet voices. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.