Craft/DIY Ideas, Recipes

Camouflage Cupcakes

I can’t believe that my “babies,” my twin boys, are turning 6 this week!!

Right now they are pretty much obsessed with anything related to guns, army, soldiers, etc.

Sooo… I thought they might dig some camouflage cupcakes for their big day.

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And what better way to top off a camo cupcake than with an army guy?

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Pretty cool, right?

I know tons of little (and big!) boys who would love these. No girly or fussy cupcakes for these dudes!

Here’s a little rundown of how I made these….

Start off by mixing a white cake mix in one bowl and a chocolate cake mix in a separate bowl.

Line a bunch of cupcake tins with your paper liners.

Once they’re mixed, set out 2 more empty mixing bowls. Put a spoon in each bowl.

Now, to get the whole swirly, multi-colored camo thing going on, you’ll end up making 4 different colors/variations.

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In one bowl, mix equal parts white and chocolate.

In the second, do white with just a bit of chocolate and add green food coloring.

For the other two, just leave them plain chocolate and plain vanilla.

Now, simply add dollops of each color kind of randomly in your cupcake tins.

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Since I made two complete cake mixes, I had plenty of batter, so I took the rest and did a small cake as well, using the same method.

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Here’s what they look like fresh out of the oven.

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I think they look better with a swirl of icing, and of course, an army man!

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Happy Birthday to my littlest men!

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

I Get That A Lot

Just this morning I was approached by an older gentleman who politely asked me a question that I’ve gotten a lot: “Are they all yours?”

The “they” he was referring to was, of course, my kids. At the moment we were in a Burger King at 8 in the morning. My oldest son had band practice before school in which I had to drop him off at another district elementary school and wait 50 minutes with my other children and my 4 year old niece in tow. It was most definitely not worth running the whole way home, unloading everyone, and then loading them back up shortly after. So, I did what any other “good Mom” (ha ha) would do in the situation–we went to BK and snagged some $1 packs of hash browns and a couple of OJ’s to wait out the time without going nuts. So, when the man asked me the usual question, I just had to chuckle to myself and think about how many times I get that and other similar questions. Now I do realize there are tons of people out there with way more kids than I do. However, having 5 that are semi-close in age, I still get lots of the same kinds of questions. Some people are quite polite about it and others have been not as polite. So, this is a random list of questions or statements that my husband and I get a lot and either (a)what I respond or (b)what I’m thinking or (c) what I want to say when I get that question or statement. :

1. Are they all yours?

What I usually say, with a smile: Why yes they are.

2. Wow, you’ve got your hands full!

What I’m thinking: If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I would be a wealthy woman.

3. Are you done yet?

What I say: Oh yes.

What I’m thinking: Yup.

4. Haven’t you figured out how that happens yet?

What I do: Usually I just laugh.

What I’m thinking: Um, yeah, we know.

What I want to say: No, I have no idea. Can you tell me?

5. Don’t you people own a TV? 

This one is related to the previous question. Usually I just chuckle. By the way, people who have asked us this question usually think they are hilarious.

What I want to say: We have one, just not in our bedroom! (True)

6. Did you always want a lot of kids?

What I say: Yes, but not this many!

7. How do you handle all of them?

What I say: I have different answers for this one. Sometimes I just make up something that sounds good at the time.

8. Are they twins?

What I say: Yes, they sure are.

What I’m thinking: Gee, two little boys that look exactly alike and are the same exact size. Do you think? (Yes, the sarcasm creeps up on this one.)

9. Are they identical?

What I say: Yes they are.

What I’m thinking or want to say: see #8’s what I’m thinking.

10. Holy cow, are there 2 sets of twins?

I’ve sometimes gotten this one if Andrew and Heidi aren’t standing next to each other. This kind of cracks me up because they are the furthest apart in age.

What I say: Nope, just one set.

What I’m thinking: Thank God, no!

11. How do you tell them apart?

What I say: I usually explain that I can just tell who’s who and that one of them has a chipped tooth.

What I want to say: Oh, I mix them up all the time. Who knows who’s who at this point?

12. Do twins run in your family?

What I say: Nope, they were a complete surprise.

13. Are twins more work than having one baby? 

What I say: Definitely.

What I’m thinking: Definitely.

14. Whoa, that’s quite a brood/tribe/crew you’ve got there.

Those are the main ones I get when I’m out and about. I have to say that I’ve gotten pretty used to these types of questions/statements and will usually politely respond to whoever is talking to us. Once in a while it is annoying and I feel myself mentally rolling my eyes. I’m sure other parents of multiples or parents of many get the same kinds of responses and can agree with me on this one. However, I do love having my brood/tribe/crew and wouldn’t have it any other way!

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Not for the Faint of Heart

Having just celebrated my twin boys’ 5th birthday, I’ve been mulling over some of the things I have experienced since having twins. Now, granted, I was not a parenting veteran when Joey and Josh were born. We had a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a toddler who already broke us in pretty well. However, from that first shocking ultrasound where I saw not one, but two little bodies, we knew we were in for a wild ride. (Check out the back story of our guys here.) And a wild ride it has been–full of ups, downs, and all kinds of craziness, good and bad. Mostly good, just wild and woolly at times. I recall seeing a t-shirt online when I was pregnant with them that read “Experience Wildlife. Raise Twins.” Oh, how true it is. Here are just some quick anecdotes and factoids about my twins. I could tell many, many stories on them, but these are the ones that first pop into mind.

(Warning: If you are easily grossed out, embarrassed, judgemental, prissy, or a germophobe, you may want to skip this post. If not, do read on!)

*When they were @3 and still in diapers, I went out for an evening and left all the kids home with my man. Upon returning, I heard the sound of our washer running, which is not normal at all for nighttime at our house. “Why is the washer running?” I asked my husband. He let out a big sigh. Then he proceeded to tell me that while he was in another room, one of the twins came in and said, “Hey Daddy. I need your help in here.”

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Well, Joey pooped and I was helping to change him. See…” He walked into our bedroom and saw why help was needed. Let’s just say our bed comforter was in need of some major washing. Apparently one twin was trying to wipe the other one and had poop smeared everywhere. (See, I told you not to read if you are easily grossed out!) Oh, and don’t worry–that comforter is NOT on our bed anymore.

*Right after my guys were born, I quickly learned that you can not discreetly nurse two babies at once. Ever. Especially if you are out and about. I was once nursing them in the front seat of my van, parking at what I thought was far away from other vehicles and using a big blanket to cover up with. Well, some poor guy pulls in right next to my van and happened to look over at the wrong time. One of the boys had grabbed a corner of the blanket and yanked it away from everything. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed. I’m sorry, dear stranger, if you are now scarred for life. By the way, there’s a funny old episode of Friends where Joey (the character, not my son Joey) is visiting someone in the maternity wing of the hospital and happened to accidentally see a woman nursing twins. “It’s like a freak show around here!” he says. Yep, pretty much.

*The first 4 days that they were home from the hospital, they went through 80 diapers. Yes, 80. That doesn’t even count the diapers and pull-ups that our toddler and 3 year old were going through.

*Our twins are very much identical, but there has always been something that has helped us tell them apart. For starters, their head shapes were different. We also left their hospital bracelets on until they had almost outgrown them–Joey’s was on his right wrist and Josh’s was on his left. When we had to cut those off, I painted Joey’s big toenails red for awhile to help me. Once that wore off, I was pretty good at telling who was who.

*Also, when they were a little over a year old, Josh fell off a riding toy and chipped his front tooth. I was devastated, but when I told their Daddy, he said something like, “Good, now I can tell them apart.” Even now our older boys can hardly tell who’s who, but our daughter is usually pretty good at it.

*Besides being nicknamed Joey and Josh, we call our guys “the Bubbas.” We’re so used to it that we don’t even think about it. If our other children mention “the Bubbas” to someone who doesn’t know us well, they usually get a quizzical look. I can see them thinking to themselves, “the Bubbas?” They then explain that “the Bubbas” are their twin brothers. (Yes, we may be just a tad bit redneck around here!)

*In my twin pregnancy, I carried them for 38 weeks. They weighed 6 lb 5 oz and 6 lb 3 oz and were both close to 20″ long.

*A couple of years ago I was brave enough (or crazy enough) to purchase a pool pass and take everyone to the community pool by myself a couple days a week.  One of those days I had taken the youngest three kids in the bathroom with me. Well, the twins locked themselves in one stall and supposedly couldn’t unlock it. I tried and tried to coach them to get it unlocked to no avail. Finally I had to shimmy under the stall door on the skanky bathroom floor to go in and rescue them–in my bathing suit, no less. Since then I have a whole plethora of public bathroom stories where these boys have embarrassed me to some extent.

*This past winter their favorite thing to do right after dinner was run to the downstairs bathroom, strip down naked, and do what they called “the naked parade,” followed by the “butt butt dance.” They even had very choreographed moves and their own music that they made up as they went along. Both of them thought this was hilarious and would laugh wildly as they did their moves. Fortunately they moved on to other things since then.

*We took a little vacation as a family when the twins were one. One night we took the kids to a steakhouse for dinner. They were doing so well and we were so proud of ourselves–that is, until the Big Blowout happened. I went to lift Josh out of his highchair and felt that his back was wet. I looked and saw that he had a huge blowout. So, I grabbed the diaper bag, held him at a distance from my body, and hustled him into the bathroom. I got his nasty outfit off, changed the diaper and wiped him up, put on a fresh diaper, and then went rooting in my bag for a clean outfit. Did I find one? Oh no, I did not. Not even a clean t-shirt or onesie. The only thing I found to wrap him in was his sister’s yellow cropped silk short-sleeve jacket (from her Easter dress outfit), which happened to be in the diaper bag. The poor child–I did take a blackmail picture of him in it, but will not post it here. It’s a real shame. Luckily he was too young to remember it.

*My guys went through another short phase back in the fall that cracked me up. Whenever we were headed anywhere, I would hear one say to the other, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” It would be followed by the other twin saying, “I don’t know, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Then they would both laugh like hyenas.

*Since being potty-trained they have discovered how handy it is to pee outside. We’ve been trying to teach them at least some outside pee etiquette (if there is such a thing). Not too long ago they were watching TV and we heard the front door open. Joey was holding the front door open with one hand, peeing outside the door, and had his head turned towards the TV–all so he wouldn’t miss whatever was on TV at the moment. I apologize right now to my poor neighbors who I’m sure have witnessed some of this.

There’s so many more stories I could tell, but I’ll stop there for now. Since having those two we have had our share of heart-warming, scary, funny, cute, gross, and so on. One thing is for sure, though–raising twins is not for the faint of heart!

Parenting Tales, Uncategorized

An Interview with Joseph & Joshua

Our family hits a huge milestone this week. My favorite little duo is turning 5 years old.

Joseph, aka Joey or just plain Joe.

How in the world did the last of my babies get to be this old already? Crazy! Anyhow, in part of celebrating their big birthday, I thought it would be fun to interview them and see what they tell me. (Oh, how I love to hear kids’ perspectives on things!) I sat down with a pen and notepad while they were playing Legos this week, and here’s what they had to say…

Me: You know, your birthday is on Thursday and you’re going to be 5. Do you like being big boys?

Joe: Yup.

Josh: Yes.

Me: What do you like about being big boys?

Joe: Because we love brushing our teeth by ourselves. (This is the same child who insisted that Mommy brush his teeth the other night and acted helpless, saying he was still like a baby.)

Josh: Because I love you.

Joshua, aka Josh, cheesing it up for the camera.

Me: Well, what do you love about me?

Josh: I don’t know.

Joe: That you make us what we want to eat.

Me: So guys, what do you love about Daddy?

Joe: That he plays dragon fight with me. (“Dragon fight” is the favorite evening game of the moment where they take turns pummeling and jumping on my husband. )

Josh: Yeah, just dragon fights.

Me: Do you like preschool?

Both: Yes!

Me: What is your favorite thing to do in preschool?

Joe: Just playing.

Me: Well, what is your favorite thing to play with there?

Joe: Playing with firetrucks.

Josh: I like doing papers.

Me: Okay, I have another question for you. What is your favorite food?

Joe: My favorite food is spaghetti-o’s with meatballs.

Josh: Hmmm……Uhhhh….I think spaghetti-o’s with meatballs.

Me: Do you two like being twins?

Both: Yes.

Me: Joe, what do you like best about Josh?

Joe: Playing fighter rocket. (I have no idea what that is, but they have all kinds of crazy made-up games they do)

Me: Josh, is there anything you like best about Joey?

Josh: I don’t have any. (At this point he has the “I wish you would get this over with” look on his face, so I didn’t push it)

Me: What is your favorite movie?

Josh: Diego! (whispers to his brother, “Say Diego.” Diego is their current favorite movie as they suckered Grandma into buying them a Diego DVD this past weekend.)

Joe: I love Diego.

Me: What kind of cake should I make you for your birthday?

Joe: Umm…I think chocolate.

Josh: Vanilla….or maybe I mean chocolate.

Me: Okay boys, I only have one more question for you. Can you handle that?

Both: Yes.

Me: Tell me what did you two do when you were babies?

Josh: Well, we put food on the conveyer belt in your belly.

Me: (Laughing) What???

Joe: Yeah, because we were workers in your belly. We worked a lot. (They have lots of colorful stories about when they were in my belly.)

Josh: Yeah, me and Joey were afraid that the food wouldn’t come down to us, so we made sure it did. We were worker men.

Me: I mean, like when you were little babies, not in my belly anymore. Did you cry or anything like that?

Josh: Yeah, I think we cried some.

Joe: And we pooped in our diapers. (I’m shocked that the word poop hasn’t come up until now. Right now they love potty humor or discussing bodily functions.)

Me: Yup, you both cried and pooped. A lot. (They did!) That’s all the questions for now. Thanks guys.

Josh: Can we watch Diego now?

***End of interview***

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

The Tale of Joseph & Joshua

Five years ago on this very day, I received some pretty significant, life-changing news. On this day in 2007, I got the completely unexpected news that I was having not one baby, but two babies. If there was ever a time in my life that I can say I was a complete basket case, that was it. It has since strengthened my faith in lots of ways. You see, I was the type of person who secretly pitied parents of multiples. I had even told friends and family that I was so glad I had only had one baby at a time and had no idea how those people did it. I’m sure the good Lord had many chuckles at my expense on that one!

If you’re not familiar with my family, here’s what it looked like at the time: I had a 5 year old boy, a 3 year old boy, and a 1 1/2 year old daughter who had just started to walk. When she was a little over a year old, I was feeling ready to have a 4th (and last!) child, wanting to keep everyone semi-close in age. Actually, since I had so much fun with my little girl, and she was such an easy baby, I was dying to have another little girl. How cute would it be to have two little boys and two little girls, right? I got pregnant right away and was having a pretty normal pregnancy for awhile. At 20 weeks, our church’s preschool/kindergarten class was going on a field trip to a local crisis pregnancy center. They wanted to show the kids what an ultrasound machine looked like and, better yet, how cool would it be to show them a real baby on the ultrasound? Since I hadn’t had an ultrasound yet and I was the perfect gestational age to be the “model,” I was willing to have the kids see my baby on the screen. So, off I went, willing to bare my belly for a roomful of little people. We divided the kids into two groups, bringing one group in at a time. For the first group, the volunteer tech plopped the wand down on my belly, and there we saw a baby right away. Notice I wrote “a” baby–that’s because we only saw one. She pointed out the different body parts, not really needing to move the wand around much. Then the second group of kids came in, and again she plopped the wand on my belly and we saw one baby on the screen. Great, I thought, I finally got to see my baby once before my 26 week ultrasound. Well, soon after that I noticed some major changes in my pregnancy. For one thing, I suddenly got HUGE–much bigger than I was with the other 3 kids. Also, I had about zero energy for being in my second trimester, when normally I would have all kinds of energy at that point. Oh, and did I also mention that this baby was way more active than the other ones? What in the world was going on? People tried to tell me that since it was my 4th pregnancy, I was bound to be bigger and more tired.

Well, the day of my real ultrasound rolled around, and I was honestly a little nervous, thinking that maybe they would find something wrong. My husband stayed home with our other kids, as we didn’t want to drag them all along. Besides, I’ve had lots of these before, it’ll be no sweat. The tech this time, as she led me back to the room, asked me all kinds of background questions. How many other pregnancies have I had? How far along was I? How old are the other children? Do I have any medical problems? and so on. The room dimmed, warm gel was squirted onto my now watermelon of a belly, and she started with the wand down at the bottom.

Right away we saw a baby head, so she said “oh, there’s the head,” then the wand was slid up a little to look at the baby’s abdomen.

“There’s your baby’s belly.” As the baby’s abdomen came into view, something else came into view as well.

“Oooohhh…” was the response. Then a pause.

“And there’s another head. And another belly.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” I said as I knew she most definitely was NOT kidding.

“No, there’s two babies there.”

I burst into tears. This could not be happening to me.

My life was over. Lord, how in the world could you do this to me? I can’t handle twins! Good grief, and did you have to make it the 4th time around? And why oh why did I not find out until I was 6 months along?

Then I laughed. And cried. And laughed. And cried some more. The poor woman probably thought I was nuts!

The rest of the ultrasound went by in a blur of measurements for both babies. I took the two pictures printed out for me and, trying not to look like a complete mess, went out to my vehicle. I drove home in a stupor, many thoughts swirling through my mind. I do have to mention that I stopped on the way home for a milkshake–a very large one at that! Darn it, if I was growing two babies, I needed that milkshake!! I arrived home having no idea how I was going to break the news to my dear husband. He was upstairs on the computer, the other kids playing on the floor.

“Well, how’d it go?”

“Yeah Mommy, did you see the baby?”

“Um, well, it’s a good thing you’re sitting down.” I held out my two pictures, my hands shaking.

“Not one baby. There’s two babies.” The tears came on again.

I’ll never forget the look on that poor man’s face. Bless his sweet heart for reacting the way he did, because I needed him to be a rock, not a mess like me. He stood up, smiled, wrapped me in a hug, kissed me, and said, “Well, Mommy, it’s going to be alright.”

For the next day or two, I really was a basket case. Lots of tears and having a big old pity party for myself. There were glimmers of joy but lots of “why me’s?” as well. How was I going to take care of all these little ones? Would I ever have any kind of life? How would we afford them all? What about my other kids, weren’t they going to feel completely neglected? Fortunately I had lots of people praying for me, once they heard the big news. Lots of calls, cards, and overall encouragement. I was reminded that God didn’t expect me to do this alone, which was very comforting to me. I soon got over my pity party, realized how blessed I was, and put my faith in God to help me through the upcoming challenging times.

Now, looking back, I can tell you without a doubt that those two little boys were one of the best things to ever happen to me. I didn’t get the little girl I had hoped for, but God knows what we need and what’s best for us way better than we do. Joey and Josh are my little sidekicks, my littlest loves. I can’t ever imagine having one without the other. They will turn 5 at the end of March and I can’t believe they are not babies anymore. In fact, I’ll probably do another post in honor of their big birthday and some more posts about raising twins too.

Oh, and before I sign off, I thought I’d mention another interesting fact in this tale. When I was lying on that ultrasound table, crying and contemplating my news, I noticed something that didn’t hit me until much later. You know how ultrasound techs and other medical personnel usually have their certifications, etc. framed on the wall? You want to know what the name of that tech was?

It was Faith.

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Potty Training Triumphs and Failures

 

In the last couple of weeks our family has reached a goal I never thought I would see. It’s one that years ago I swore I would throw a huge party complete with a bonfire once this goal was reached. What was I planning to burn in that blazing bonfire? Our diaper pail. That’s right, people. Our diaper pail. As of about 2 weeks ago, my youngest children finally got potty-trained. And yes, if you know us or are familiar with my blog, my youngest two just turned 4 years old. My oldest actually turns 10 next week, so we were deep into diapers for nearly an entire decade. Not only that, but the last 8 of those years I have had at least 2 in diapers at a time. Actually, several of those years I had 3 in diapers and for a short while after my twins were born, I had a whopping 4 in diapers. Crazy, huh? Now you know why I thought I would never see this day arrive. Now you also know why I am doing a post strictly on potty-training.

 

To make things perfectly clear, I am by no means an expert on potty-training. Yes, I have trained 5 children to use the toilet and finally ditch those diapers. However, this is a parenting job I always felt mediocre and very inadequate at. In fact, you may read this blog and want to criticize the daylights out of me. On the other hand, if your kids are anything like mine were and YOU are feeling like a bad potty-trainer, this is to make you feel better. Really. You see, my kids seemed to simply not care whether they were wet or dirty. They didn’t care one iota about using the potty, as much as I would have loved them to, no matter what rewards (aka bribes) or “positive reinforcement” I was giving them. I was always a bit envious of parents whose children minded being wet or messy and all but trained themselves at a young age. (Either envious or I just wanted to slap them when they bragged about it. Not really, I’m not that mean.)

 

It all of course started with my oldest son, Daniel. At 3 he was a very difficult child and really could care less about the toilet. I voraciously read about and tried out the various methods listed in every parenting magazine out there. Nothing worked. It seemed as if every child within his age range was happily peeing and pooping on the potty for their proud parents. My Mom, God bless her, had read about the whole Cheerios peeing trick for boys online and really thought she was going to get him to go. Well, she dropped the Cheerios in her potty and had Daniel come in to see what a cool game Grandma had for him. Guess what? That child screamed and screamed “My Cheerios! My Cheerios!” I was completely fed up by then and vowed to give the potty training a rest for awhile. Clearly he was NOT ready to do this. At his 4 year old check-up (which, by then, he had 2 younger siblings) I was at my wits end and vented to our pediatrician. No, he didn’t scold me for not having my child potty-trained. He assured me that it would happen anytime and he would bet that it would just happen one day and that would be that. Well, guess what? That man was right. One day my son up and decided to use the toilet and that was that. One day. Done.

 

With my next oldest, Andrew, it was pretty much the same story. I tried a bit at 3 years old to no avail. This time around I was a bit more relaxed and didn’t push him too much. In fact, the more I pushed, the more he resisted. So again, I gave it a rest for awhile. Then I was pregnant with my twins and barely had the energy to deal with it anyway. Soon after their birth was when he, Heidi, and my newborn twins were ALL in diapers. I remember actually lining them up in a row like a little assembly line to change them. I know that sounds insane, but it really wasn’t that bad. Andrew turned 4 and did pretty much the same thing as his big brother–started using the potty in one day and that was that.

 

Now, my daughter was a bit easier. Out of all my kids, she is the one who cared a little more than the boys. At 3 she was not speaking much (she had a speech delay and was delayed with her gross motor skills) but did have some interest in the potty. Actually, at a little over 3, I almost had her trained while we were on vacation. The evening we came home the poor girl fell off of our front landing and broke her leg. She was placed in a full leg cast and I had to put her in diapers again. Until she was out of the cast, she was not into using the potty. So, again I had to be patient and wait for her to be a little more ready. Heidi also trained in about a day a few months before she turned 4 years old.

 

That brings me to the twins. Potty training twins was not as difficult as it sounded. They usually went at around the same time, so that helped. Like my other boys, they could absolutely care less what kind of nastiness was going on in their diapers or pull-ups. Also, putting cloth undies didn’t really work for any of my boys. I did try with all of them. Seriously, they would walk around with them wet or stinky and not even care. So, I took the laissez-faire approach and decided it would happen when it would happen. If they showed interest, I would be all over that. If there was major resistance, I would let things be for awhile. At my family’s Mother’s Day picnic my one grandmother completely gave me grief for not having them trained. Needless to say, I was a bit ashamed but also kind of angry too. I kindly told her that it was going to happen anytime and I wasn’t too worried about it. “I’ve been doing diapers for this long, what’s another month or so?” was my reply. So, when they up and got trained a couple of weeks ago, I did not call her and gloat. I simply gave my boys lots of encouragement for being big boys and enjoyed not buying diapers.

 

So, here we are, a diaper-free household. The pull-ups are still around, but I’m sure they will be by the wayside soon as well. Now, you may have read this and thought about what a terrible example I may be to the potty-training world out there. Or, like I mentioned earlier, you may be tearing your hair out in frustration and this will make you feel a little bit encouraged. You are NOT a failure if your child is not using the toilet yet. Really. I promise you, you WILL get there someday, just like us. Really, I never thought I would see this day arrive. Our diaper pail was such a given part of our household. Now, who wants to come to a bonfire party?