Thursday, January 31, 2013

Potty Training Our 13 Month Old

Yep. I said it, our 13 month old! We actually started right after her first birthday.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't have outrageous expectations like she'll be completely out of diapers by 16 months or anything like that!  But at the same time, it seems the US tends to potty train later than most areas of the world, so it's certainly possible to introduce the potty earlier.  Several people that I've told about Lulu's potty experiences have expressed quite a bit of interest, so I thought it might be worth sharing. 

How potty training works in our house:

We try to sit Lucia on her little potty seat (this one from Ikea that I got for $2 at a consignment sale) at regular intervals throughout the day (every hour or two) or when it seems like she may need to go.
I say "try" because we sometimes forget, are out and about, and some days Lucia goes to a sitter's when we are both working.  We haven't asked the sitter to do anything with potty training and we don't set timers.

When we take Lucia to the potty, we tell her clearly that we are going to take her to the potty and do the sign for "potty".  She usually repeats the sign. It's our hope that she'll eventual learn to tell us or sign when she needs to use the potty.

The key to actually potty training this early is teaching Lucia to communicate her need to go.  She is not walking yet, she cannot pull down her own pants, and cannot take off her own diaper.  She's completely dependent on us to get her on the potty.  I anticipate that at some point, when she's in her room, she'll crawl to the bathroom (or perhaps she'll be walking by then) when she realizes she needs to go but she will still need help to get her diaper off and sit down.  Much of the day, we are downstairs though, so she will have to have a clear method of communication. it working?

Yes! It's going great!  Lucia usually pees in the potty at least once a day.  Earlier this week, she did it three times in one day.  (Followed by a day without a single pee in the potty.  Oh well.)

Most of the time, she sits contently on the potty when I sit her there, but if she starts getting upset when I go to put her on it, I just don't.  Sometimes she needs a little coaxing to get her to stay seated (she has on a few occasions stood up, held on to the toilet seat, and peed on the floor), so we let her hold a little baby & mama rubber ducky set that stays her in bathroom while she's there to keep her occupied.

She doesn't sit on the potty long.  Usually, if she's going to go, she does it right away when she sits down (which makes me think that she knows what she's doing and it's not just a coincidence that she's peeing right when she sits on the potty).  

Again, I don't have outlandish expectations, so I'm so excited with our progress.  I don't anticipate really doing much more than we are doing now for a while.  It's working for us and it's easy.  

Know of cloth training pants for an 18 pound baby?

Seriously, this is our biggest issue right now!  Taking the diapers on and off can be such a hassle, especially since Lucia does not want to stay still for diaper changes.  It seems most cloth diapers that are specifically "training pants" start at 20 or 22 pounds and my baby is quite petite for her age, so I'm fairly confident they won't fit her yet.  Right now I'm leaning toward trying the Bummis Pull-Ons - not specifically training pants, but made in sizes starting at newborn.  Anyone have experience with them?

Do I think you're a terrible mom for having a three year old that's not potty trained yet?

Goodness no!  Seriously, no judgment here.  I fully acknowledge that the main reasons we are starting so early is that Lucia has a disposition that lends itself well to early potty training AND we have the time to do so.  With both of us working part-time, at least one of us is home with Lucia most of the time.  She's our first, so we don't have to tend to other children.  Though it's going well, I am aware that our early start might still result in a four year old that hasn't quite gotten the hang of the potty.  And the next child might be an entirely different story; I can't conceive of how mothers care for two children, much less large broods!  I'm simply writing this to share our experience and seek that of other moms.  

I'd love to hear from you experienced parents (or nannies, daycare workers, whatever):
When did you start potty training?
What is your best potting training advice?
How did potty training vary between your children?
Do you think I'm insane for starting so early?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Professional Family Photos / One-Year-Old Session (pt 1)

When we lived in Raleigh, we found an awesome photographer to use for all our milestone occasions.  She took my maternity pictures, Lucia's newborn photos (which apparently I never posted on the blog, other than a picture or a few - bad mommy blogger!), and her six-month session.  It was so amazing to have someone to turn to anytime we needed pictures, know that she would do a great job, and we would walk away with a CD with all the pictures and printing rights for a reasonable price. 

I was so worried that we wouldn't find another such photographer here in Northern Colorado, but we did!  I put a request for referrals on my Facebook wall and a college friend recommended Epic Images.  I contacted David and we set up an afternoon session to take Lucia's one-year-old photos and family photos, including some with my parents and grandparents.  We had a great time and when the photos came, they were better than I had imagined!  I wanted to share some of my favorites, but had to split them into two posts because I just couldn't narrow them down anymore.  

Check out part two for more great photos!
If you are in the Northern Colorado area, I highly recommend Epic Images!
You can check out the website here and the Facebook page here.
I don't get any compensation for talking them up, just love sharing great business experiences!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Am I Sheenazing? Someone thinks so! Maybe you do too!

I thought I had all posts this week pre-scheduled (yippee, I'm never this organized!).  That is, until I received an email from Bonnie.  You see, she's hosting these Catholic blogger awards called the Sheenazing awards:

No, I'm not an official recipient, but I am a nominee!  Messy Wife, Blessed Life has been nominated in two categories: Best Looking Blog & Best Mommy Blog.  Aw, shucks, I'm so flattered!  The competition is  tough, so I understand if there is a more gorgeous blog or a more mommy-tastic one you'd like to vote for, but please do vote.  There are a myriad of other categories as well, all chock-full of wowza Catholic blogs.  I am so excited with home many #cathsorority girls are present! But it's going to be soooooooooooo hard to choose just one blog in each category.  SO HARD!

As for the background of the award, it's named after the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.  If you don't know who he is, go look him up!  Bonnie's son, James, is miraculously alive today after being stillborn due to the intercession of Ven. Fulton Sheen.  No joke,  James' story is being submitted as the official alleged miracle for the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen.  So yeah, he's kind of a big deal, and Bonnie's got the (living) proof to back it up! Read more about the incredible story here.

So what are you waiting for? 
(Voting ends Thursday at 6pm Central)

101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy Giveaway

If you aren't pregnant, I'm sure you know someone who is (there must be something in the water!).  You can read my review of 101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy here (the lowdown: loved it!) and enter to win a copy below!

The contest runs from Jan 29 - Feb 5. Open to residents of the US.  There is a daily entry option and a daily tweet option, so don't forget to come back daily to get extra entries! 

101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy Book Review

No, I'm not pregnant. I want to get that out of the way since I can totally see someone asking why I'm reviewing and giving away a pregnancy book.  Now that that's out of the way, I will say that I am looking forward to my next pregnancy.  You heard that right, I didn't say I'm looking forward to having another baby - although certainly I am - I said I'm looking forward to the actual pregnancy.

I was recently in a conversation with some of the women of #cathsorority about pregnancy and one comment really stuck with me.  Carolynne wrote, "In my prenatal class the instructor asked us what we thought about being pregnant and I was absolutely shocked that I was the only person with anything positive to say."  How sad!  Admittedly, I know that I had an easy pregnancy, but I think that every woman should be able to find at least a few positive things about pregnancy.  

That's why I loved the book 101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy by Afron Monro.  It is a wonderful reminder of the miracle of pregnancy, as well as a good source of information.  Each page or two has a different "fun fact" about pregnancy, as well as some great accompanying pictures.  I love this format, because it makes it easy for a expectant mother to pick it up whenever she wants (perhaps when she's feeling icky or frustrated and needs a pregnancy pick-me-up). These aren't just cutesy little facts though, many are scientific based, include statistics and recent research, and range from conception to the postpartum period.  A few of my favorites include: "Released eggs float in space", "Touch is the first sense to develop", "Twins start their relationship patterns in the womb," and "Giving birth is the shortest amount of time in which a woman will naturally lose the greatest amount of weight".

One of the reasons this book is perfect for an expectant mom is that it was written by a midwife.  Midwives have such great knowledge and respect for the pregnancy and birthing processes, and extensive experience with pregnant women; Monro's background certainly shows in this book.  This is turn makes it an amazing gift for any woman going through pregnancy, especially if she is struggling with a difficult pregnancy or anxiety (which would describe most first time mothers!).  When a friend announces a pregnancy, I send a card but often want to mark the occasion with a little something more and never know quite how.  This book is the perfect answer!  A newly expectant mom can use this book throughout pregnancy to help her marvel at the wonders of it. 

You can purchase a copy of 101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy from Amazon.

Or you can can enter to win one on Messy Wife, Blessed Life.  Click here to visit the contest page.

I received a copy of 101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy to facilitate this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  Opinions are 100% my own.  See Disclosure Policy.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Meet (Anima) Kinsi

Hey, “Messy” readers! May I call you “Messy”? Oh, good!

I’m Kinsi.

I’m the author of Anima Kinsi.

I’m a happy girl.

I believe that things happen for a reason.

I believe that God is love.

I live life in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church.

I grew up in Florida, and so did my husband.  Thanks to his military career, we lived in four different cities by the time we were married for only two-and-a-half years. 

We’ve lived on the Florida coast, under the shining Cali sun, and now, we’re in North Dakota.

Yeah, you heard right: North Dakota.

So, what’s in North Dakota? Well, I am! Every day, I’m gaining new experiences and expanding my horizons as an ambitious home cook, occasional freelance writer, and all-the-time lover of Our Lord.  Something else you should know about North Dakota: it’s cold. 

Like, legit cold. 

I saw snow a couple times before moving here, but I never had to live with it until now.  Of course, after the initial wonder wears off and reality settles in, one realizes that we have a lot to learn from the fluffy white stuff.

God is the master artist.
A good flight over some post-storm clouds reminds me of the same thing.  Think about it: some of our greatest artists are merely copycats.  They’ve come close to imitating that which is already perfect: nature.

My husband looks really cute in a beanie.
I mean, adorable.  Another related lesson: he will only choose pants over shorts if he wants to, and the freezing weather will have little bearing on his wardrobe choices.

It’s okay to go slow.
Walk too quickly and you might eat it.  Drive to quickly and you might wreck it.  Zoom out of the door and you might forget your gloves.  Thus is life.  Sometimes, things take time and rushing them doesn’t do you any favors. 

You are not ultimately in control.
Whether you’re tired of the cold, deterred by icy roads, or running late (and your stinking car won’t start!), things will not always go your way.  You can’t find solutions until you stop freaking out, though.  So embrace the unpredictable and remind yourself that for every lousy situation, there is a solution.

Always be prepared.
You may not be in control of the circumstances, but you can definitely control what’s in your toolbox! This goes for your cold weather car kit as much as it does for life.  Is your windshield iced over? Bust out the scraper! Living in a stressful atmosphere? Equip yourself with prayer, and so on. 

You are tougher than you think.
It actually didn’t take me long to get “used to” this crazy winter stuff.  Fact is, God made us capable of adapting to some pretty crazy things.  While my Facebook friends might be impressed that I can live with -25 temps, it’s not all that impressive.  I don’t have a choice!

Things could always be worse.
I’m sure that I’m driving my husband crazy with this one.  He’s a textbook melancholic, and enjoys a good grumble every now and then.  But, when it’s 10 below zero, I still have a million things for which to be grateful: a warm house, hot cocoa, and hey- the wind could always be faster, right?

Snowflakes actually look like snowflakes!
Okay, this one is pathetic- but I honestly did not know that the real, itty bitty snow flakes that fall from the sky actually look like those pretty, lacy cartoon ones I’d always seen on TV as a kid.  It’s another good reminder of lesson #1.

If you think you’re ready to jump in on my real-life adventures, stop by my blog, Anima Kinsi, any time you like.  There’s something going on all the time!

Every Monday, I co-host a Marian Mondays link-up.  It’s an awesome opportunity to educate ourselves on the most respected lady in Church history!

I’m also passionate about keeping Fridays sacred, so every Thursday I post a new and tasty recipe for all of my Friday pescatarian Catholics! I call it My Thursday EntrĂ©e, and I hope it inspires you to get creative in the kitchen and make every Friday a meaningful memorial. 

Of course, there’s always a smattering of fashion and humor for you to enjoy.  So what are you waiting for? Stop on by and let’s laugh and learn together!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Unintentional Near-Repeat

Sweater: Derek Heart | Cami: Elle (Kohl's)
Skirt: Casual Corner Annex | Tights: unknown | Shoes: Maurices

I wore a similar variation of this outfit here.  And I thought I was being creative when I put this together this morning...

All the students and teachers are attending the same Mass today for the start of Catholic School's Week.  I didn't want to have a repeat of last week's crying baby (in front of all my students and their parents!) so I made sure to wear something breastfeeding-friendly this week.  Won't you pray for all the Catholic school teachers/students this week?

Busy day, busy week ahead, so I'll just leave you with what's coming up this week in posts:

Monday - Sponsor Spotlight: Kinsi "What I've Learned from the Snow" (coming from a Florida girl, this should be interesting!)
Tuesday - 101 Amazing Things About Pregnancy book review + giveaway
Wednesday - Professional Family Photos/One-Year-Old Session (part 1)
Thursday - Potty Training My 13-Month-Old
Friday - 7 Quick Takes (What I love about teaching at a Catholic School)

Fine Linen and Purple is also hosting an online "garage sale" of sorts to sell and buy women's clothing.  I have a few items I could sell, so hopefully I'll get those up tomorrow night sometime. 

I'm linking up to Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday linkup.  Check it out for more church attire inspiration.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Valentine's day in the "Land of Love"! + a giveaway

Do you send out Valentine's Day cards?  I love sending Valentines to my friends and family, especially because the city I live in, Loveland, CO, has a Valentine re-mailing program.  People from all over the US and the world send their Valentines to Loveland first to be stamped and remailed.  There is a contest every year to design the image and poem on the stamp.  

Living in the "Land of Love" certainly makes Valentine's Day special.  In addition to the re-mailing program, there are hearts hung on light posts throughout the city.  People pay to have their messages put on the hearts and the money goes to charity.  When I was in high school, our chapter of the National Honor Society was in charge of painting the hearts and it was so much fun to get together in a big barn and spray paint love letters that would be hung across the city.  Every year, there is at least one "Will you marry me?" message!

In the past few years I've made some friends throughout the country and I'm so excited to send them Valentine's with my city's special stamp.  Lucia is even going to send some of her own Valentine's out to her baby friends this year!

Have you heard of Treat?  It's an online greeting card company where you can make your very own, personalized greeting cards.  I'm sure you're aware about many companies that offer photo cards, but what I love about Treat is that every part of the card is customizable, even if you don't want to include a picture!  You can use Treat's images and customize the message, use your own photos and customize the message, or if you are at a loss for words, can use the Message Library to inspire you.  There are two other features that make Treat cards unique: you can include a gift card printed right inside the cards and you can have it shipped directly to the recipient.  It makes it so easy!  You can even make them on Treat's iPhone app.

The only downside (if you can even call it that) to Treat is that there are SO many styles, it's difficult to choose!  There are 621 options for Valentines alone!  Funny, smart, sassy, sweet - something for everyone you know!

 Here are a few of my favorite Treat Valentine's Day Cards:

 Join Treat for a #SweetTreats Twitter part on 1/29 at 2PM EST.  You can also connect with Treat on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, or get inspiration from the Treat blog

 Treat is offering one Messy Wife, Blessed Life reader the chance to win 5 free Treat cards! Enter on the PromoSimple widget below. Good luck!

Contest ends 2/1.  Open to US residents only. Easy entry and tweet entry are daily options, so come back daily for more chances to win!


I will receive free Treat cards in return for this post and giveaway.  Opinions are 100% my own.  See Disclosure Policy.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Right now, I don't have the words to express my sadness or to adequately debate the issue, so I'm turning off my computer today and spending the day in prayer instead.  My prayers are for unborn children, for women considering abortion, for men and women that carry the pain of past abortions, and for our society at large to accept the sacredness of life.  Whether you feel called to silence today or not, please join me in this prayer:
Loving God, I thank you for the gift of life you gave and continue to give to me and to all of us.
Merciful God, I ask your pardon and forgiveness for my own failure and the failure of all people to respect and foster all forms of life in our universe.
Gracious God, I pray that with your grace, I and all people will reverence, protect, and promote all life and that we will be especially sensitive to the life of the unborn, the abused, neglected, disabled, and the elderly. 
I pray, too, that all who make decisions about life in any form will do so with wisdom, love, and courage.
Living God, I praise and glorify you as Father, Source of all life, as Son, Savior of our lives, and as Spirit, Sanctifier of our lives. Amen .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Parenting a Sick Baby Taught Me About the Heart of God

This past week, Lucia's was sick.  She's had a cold a few times before, but this is her first real illness (double ear infections!).  She was so miserable.  It broke my heart. 

sick, miserable baby

When you or I are sick, we know that the pain and discomfort are only temporary.  Knowing that we'll soon be better makes the sickness more bearable.  But my sweet baby, she's too young to understand that there is an end in sight.  I can't imagine how distressing it is to her to feel so awful and not understand why she feels that way or when the pain will cease.  

Last Wednesday, Lucia was at her worst.  David was able to take the day off to stay with her and when I called on the way home, he told me that she had been laying in his arms moaning all day.  She was in too much pain to be able to completely fall asleep.  When I got home, I took over, holding my sweet pea in my arms the rest of the day and all night.  I tried to comfort her, I tried to explain that this would all be over soon.  Try as I might, I think my efforts just didn't make it through to her.  

I realized that this is maybe a bit like God's relationship with his children.  We all go through periods of suffering in our lives.  We cry out to Him from our misery.  He tries to comfort us, knowing that whatever our struggles, they will pass soon enough.  But in the midst of it all, we are often incapable of accepting His comfort because we can't see the end of our suffering.  Just like my little Lulu can't comprehend that her illness is temporary, we can't conceive of our sufferings ending.  We begin to give in to the pain, to stop fighting back and preparing for life after our current battles.  

Right now, we are struggling with David's unemployment/underemployment.  It seems as if there is no way out.  He applies for every job he's even remotely qualified for, yet has only gotten a few interviews and nothing has come of them.  We can't foresee this changing anytime soon.  We're starting to get depressed without an end in sight.  When he was in school, it was difficult, but we had an end date to look forward to: graduation.  Right now, there is no guarantee that he will ever find a job.  And that's scary.  Overwhelming.  And yet I imagine our Heavenly Father looking down at me thinking, "Don't you know that this will soon be over?"

When I lean down and whisper in my sweet baby's ear, "It will all be fine, I promise.  Mommy is watching over you.  Trust me that this will soon be over," I hear this same echo in my ear: "It will all be fine, I promise. Your Father is watching over you. Trust Me that this will soon be over."  

Right now, I'm choosing to trust.  I don't know when David will find a job, but I know that the Lord knows.  That he's laying plans.  That there is a purpose for this time.  As difficult as it is for her, as difficult as it is for me to watch, Lucia needs to get sick as a child to build her immune system.   I don't know the exact reason for our sufferings right now, but I am consciously choosing to trust that the difficulties we face today have meaning.  Perhaps I will someday know what that meaning is, but it's just as likely that I never will.  And today, I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Post at Captive the Heart: Like a Lily

You might remember my guest post for Captive the Heart back in November addressing how Catholic brides can respond to questions about why her Catholic wedding will be just a little bit different.  (If you don't, why don't you go check it out.)  I was so very, very excited when Stephanie started a new feature on her blog, Like a Lily, and asked me to contribute.  If you are unfamiliar with Captive the Heart, it's a "sprightly wedding blog for the Catholic bride".  Oh how I wish it was around when I was planning my Catholic wedding three years ago!

The new feature, Like a Lily, gives "real women" the opportunity to share a little bit out our personal fashion and design a wedding inspiration style boards.  I had a ball "shopping" Pinterest for wedding ideas!  My wedding was before the wonders of Pinterest, but would have been so different if it had been around back then. If you want to check out my recent wedding inspiration (pink and grey) and hear some of my thoughts on fashion & faith, head over to Captive the Heart now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On (Not) Marrying Young: Reflections of the Yet Unmarried

I started the series On Marrying Young because I was one of the first of my friends (my acquaintances too) to get married and I felt alone.  That hasn't changed.  My best friends are still long from being married, but I've started to realize that they feel a bit lonely too.  This post is great because it's the first in the series by someone who is not yet married and addresses the opposite side of the spectrum.  I've been hoping for a post like this for a while and I'm glad that Amanda is the one who wrote it.


My reality at age 24 is very different than what I had long dreamt it would be.  For as long as I can remember I was certain that I would be married by the time I was 23.  My mom married my father when she was 23 and they have been happily married ever since, so naturally I thought that the perfect (and only) age to get married was 23.  God clearly had other plans for my life.

I am still a firm believer that my vocation is marriage.  I’ve discerned religious life to varying degrees more times than I can count and every single time God’s answer is some variation of, “Thank you for your willingness and openness to religious life but you and I both know where you are called.  Stop worrying about it so much, I’ll send him to you when it is time.”  Sometimes His response, whispered in the depths of my heart, is met with relief and peace.  Other times, if I’m being really honest, it is met with whining and questions along the lines of, “But why God?” and “What if I said pretty please with a cherry on top?”  If nothing else, He is teaching me to trust Him more with each breath I breathe, and that trust is serving me and will serve me for the rest of my life.  

I look around and see so many of my friends married and having kids and wonder when it will be my turn.  In college, my girlfriends and I made lists of who among us would be married first, and I usually ranked pretty high on those lists.  However, now I’m one of the few who isn’t married, while the others are buying houses and raising a beautiful brood of children, and I wonder when we got old enough to do such things.  There are days that the green eyed monster comes out in me and there are days I’m grateful for where God has put me.  

God knows I wish I had some wonderful love story to write for you about how I met my husband and we fell in love and lived happily ever after, raising our ridiculously cute kids.  Perhaps (God willing) someday I can come back and tell you that wonderful tale.  Who knows, maybe I am in the midst of it and don’t know it yet.  What I do know is that God has called me here to this yet unmarried state just as much as He has called so many of my young friends to marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood.  For the record, I much prefer to refer to myself as a “yet unmarried” lady – that “yet” provides a ray of hope and reminds me that God is at work in my life and in my future spouse’s life.  That tiny little word reminds me to keep praying, for me, for my future husband, but most importantly for God to teach me how to love as He does.  

The goal of this yet unmarried state isn’t to wallow, nor is it to constantly complain about not having my future husband yet.  The goal is not to compare myself to my friends and people on the street and assume their life is better or worse than mine.  Even as I sat down to write this guest post (thanks, Mandi!), I found myself looking through the other posts in this series.  The comparisons began and I wondered why I should even write this post.  My story is different, and I didn’t marry young but I’ve learned that comparison will kill a girl stone dead.  I’ve found that to be true on both sides of the marrying young fence, further proof that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  Some are called to marry young and some aren’t, and there isn’t anything wrong with either route you take, because where ever you are is where ever God Himself has called you to be.

The goal of this state of life is to learn, to prepare, and to grow.  Isn’t that the goal of our lives whether we are married yet or not?  My daily prayer has become, “Lord, prepare me to love my future husband as You love me.  Soften my heart, dwell within its walls, flood my soul with Your grace, mercy, and love.  Teach me to love as You do.  Guard my heart with Your jealous love.  Grant me patience and perseverance to run well this race as I fall deeper in love with You.”

A woman after the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Amanda is also a Colorado native and can hardly imagine living anywhere else. She graduated from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina in 2009 with a Bachelor's in Theology, as well as minors in Psychology and Philosophy. Amanda works as a youth minister, and also has a heart for women's ministry.  Her personal blog can be found at worthy of Agape.

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.