Mason’s Dedication

We dedicated Mason to God on Sunday.  We were joined with my Grandparents Eugene and Carolyn, my Mom, and my brother Spencer and his wife Lisa, to celebrate this important milestone in Mason’s life.  He didn’t wear a fancy Christening gown, but he was able to wear the same shirt that Parker wore for his dedication, which I thought was quite fitting.  It could be our little family tradition.  We learned something new during the dedication, we learned what the biblical meaning is for Mason, which is OVERCOMER.  Here is the corresponding verse with the meaning:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Revelations 2:17 ESV

This dedication was a little different from when we dedicated Parker.  With Parker, we did it during the service, and simply made a declaration in front of the church to train him in the ways of God, and to be a Godly example for him.  With Mason’s ceremony, we had a bit of homework to do, and we discussed it among our family that we invited to the ceremony.  We were asked to write the kind of person that we hoped to see our child become by the time he/she turned 18.  This is what Dan and I came up with after discussing it.

Our prayer for Mason when he is older is that he is happy, healthy, and someone who has a heart after God.  We pray that he goes through life seeking God’s approval, rather than that of man, and that he strives to surround himself with Godly people and influences.  We pray that Mason learns the value in family, learns to stay strong in the challenging times, and is able to enjoy life and laugh through the good times.

We didn’t have a lot of space on the worksheet, but of course there are many other attributes that we hope that he has, such as a servant’s heart, and someone who strives to always be kind, giving, loving, and a great friend to others.  I don’t know a lot about Mason’s personality right now, but I do know that he loves to smile, he enjoys being loved on, and he seems to enjoy observing before trying something new.  He has always been great at everything that he’s been given.  I was nervous about weaning from swaddling,  nursing, and then recently, the paci, and he took very well to all of them, which goes to show that OVERCOMER is actually quite fitting.  I can already tell that he can overcome any potential challenge, or obstacle that is thrown his way, and allow God to guide him through it.

In addition to having Mason dedicated, we asked my brother Spencer and his wife Lisa if they would become Godparents to Mason.  They were asked if they would help be a spiritual guide as well as moral support to him throughout his life.  In other words, his little cheer leader and mentor in life.  We couldn’t think of a more fitting couple.  They recently moved closer, and we are so thankful that we are able to visit with them on a more frequent basis.

Fun at Home

Since the weather has been getting colder lately, we’ve been getting creative at home coming up with some ideas for the boys.  As much as I’d love to sit with Parker and do crafts, and have some “quiet time”.  He’s just too rambunctious for that.  I love the fun energy he has.  It is the best way to get us all in a great mood.  We decided to throw all the pillows that were on the bed, on the floor, and call it “Pillow Mountain”.  Parker loved diving into the pile of pillows, but not before yelling the ceremonial “Pillow Mountian!” prior to his take off.

It became a favorite, and Mason ended up loving it just as much. He was all giggles watching Parker jump and play with the pillows!  The red tunnel is also a big favorite, and what’s a pillow mountain without a tunnel?

What great memories we created with such just the simple things!

Watching this makes my heart happy.  I’m so glad I am blessed with boys, and I can have fun rough housing and playing with them!


It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted an Insta-Friday, but I’d like to link up with Jeanette at Life Rearranged and share the past few weeks with ya.  I decided to try the Instagram Plus app instead of my normal CameraBag app, so these pictures show a few edited from both.

Parker LOVES the black bean Couscous that Target sells in their deli section.  So, I thought we’d try to make our own instead.  It turned out great, and it was a nice simple vegetarian dinner.  Parker and Mason both devoured it!

I love messy baby faces.  And Mason has been giving me plenty of them lately, and making my camera phone, and anyone within view distance happy, too.  Here he is, devouring his beloved raspberries and avocado.

Aunt Jenna got Parker a jumbo Mr. Potato head for Christmas with lots of little potato heads inside.  Parker, Mason, and I love dumping the entire thing on the floor, and assembling our versions, and having lots of giggles along the way.

We enjoyed the fog and rainy overcast weather with a nice wagon ride around our two mile loop.  Parker put his new rain boots to good use, and enjoyed making splashes in rain puddles along the way.

Mason is really starting to love the play area at the mall now.  It’s so great to be able to bring both boys, and have them play now!  We just have to make sure to go on off peak times, so they’re not trampled by the kids that are way too big to be in there in the first place.

Seriously, is this not the cutest “I love my brother” photo, ever?  I just love those boys to death!

Mason and Harper were being such cutie patooties, at Monkey Joes.  While Jen and I were keeping an eye on the older kiddos, they were taking turns swapping a baby doll, and goobering on their toes.  How. Lovely.

We went a birthday party that our neighbors invited us to. They’re Indian and their daughter turned 1.  It was quite the shin-dig.  White linen table clothes, those fancy bows on the back of chairs, balloons galore.  Parker had a blast with getting his face painted, watching a magician, balloonist, and CAKE. Heaven forbid we forget the cake.  Something we learned about parties from people who come from this part of the world?  They like to party LATE.  Mason usually goes to bed at 7:30, and they didn’t even cut the “I must have a slice of cake or I’ll die” cake (as said by Parker) until 9pm! The party didn’t end until 11pm, poor kids!  We had a great time, but of course, we weren’t able to avert the crisis meltdown when we got home.  Lesson learned.

I’m reminiscing the beautiful weather we had last week, and this wonderful wagon ride we took.  Now it’s the normal chilly weather, and I’m not a fan one bit.  I’m a summer girl at heart, and I’m looking forward to when it’ll be warm again!

Looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend!

life rearranged

Potty Training Parker- Success!

Let me preface by saying that I was COMPLETELY intimidated by the whole potty training process.  I had heard some horror stories from a few friends, and I just didn’t know if I had thick enough skin to get through it, and be as “happy go lucky” as you’re supposed to be throughout the entire process.

We decided that after Christmas would be a good time to train because Dan would be home from traveling and he could help.  Plus, we thought Christmastime would be a good time to stick a few potty related things under the tree or as a stocking stuffer to help entice him and make him think the whole “Potty Training” process would be a fun and exciting experience for all of us.  We mentioned the week before Christmas that after Christmas that he would not use diapers any more.  We reminded him almost every diaper change.  We also prepared a few weeks prior by turning his crib into a big boy bed and sang his praises about how he was growing up so big, and told him that he didn’t need the crib anymore.  He took really well to that and he was actually proud of himself for reaching this milestone of his new “Big Boy” bed.  Other than him doing the happy dance one time during his nap, he never got out and wandered the house, even though he didn’t have a lock on his door.  I think he’s just really into his little bedtime and nap time routines, and doesn’t care to venture out, which is fine by me!

So, after a busy Christmas, the day came.  We had a great breakfast to start the day off right, and then Dan took over watching Mason.  Parker and I headed upstairs into his room and I got down at eye level with him and held his hands, and told him that he was a big boy, and that he didn’t need diapers anymore.  Then I told him that Mason was a baby and that he needed diapers.  I asked him who the big boy was, and he enthusiastically shouted “Parker!” and then I asked him who the baby was, and he said “Mason!”.  I told him that we needed to get rid of the changing table, and all of his diapers, since big boys don’t need them.  He enjoyed helping me remove the changing pad from the table and helped me move over some stuffed animals and items to place on top of the newly named chest of drawers.  I got a laundry basket and had Parker help me empty all the diapers out of the drawers in his room, and bring them to Mason’s room and put them in his drawers.  Through the entire process, I talked to him about how he was becoming such a big boy, and that he didn’t need diapers and how proud I am of him.  It made it easy by the fact that Parker and Mason wear the same size cloth as well as disposable diapers.

After the diapers were out, I broke out the underwear that he opened on Christmas day, and he helped me load them into the drawers.  The whole time I “talked them up”, saying how they were underwear for big boys.  Then I removed his diaper and said it was yucky because it was dirty and wet.  I put on the underwear and praised him repeatedly about how big he looked.  He LOVED this part. He had a grin from ear to ear.  Then Daddy came in and praised him all over again, telling him how he looked like SUCH the big boy!  He ate it up!

We followed the three day planned as outlined here.  They have a downloadable pdf ebook that is awesome.  It’s an easy read, being only 50 pages, and it has some great info!  Some of the basics are this:

  • Keep the kiddo in a shirt and underwear all day long, no pants
  • Mention to them every few minutes repeatedly “Tell me when you have to go to the potty (or tell me when you have to pee or poop.  You can insert your personal verbiage here), Okay?”.  Their theory is that “tell me when you have to go” vs. “Do you have to go” gives control to the child as opposed to the adult
  • No diapers, pull-ups, padded training pants, plastic pants, etc.  Only underwear.  Their theory is that if they go to training pants or diapers, that they will be confused and that it could cause them to regress
  • The plan outlines day training and night training all in one.  As stated above, no pull-ups, etc at night
  • Praise, praise, praise, and no negative words when referring to potty or accidents.  You can say that it is “yucky” when they make a mess, but that is it.  Praise them when they are dry and any time they make ANY amount in the toilet.  Let them flush and wave goodbye.  Make it playful and fun
  • …and now that I’ve had three glasses of wine, I can’t think of any more bullet points

Parker did SO well!  Seriously, WAY better than I ever anticipated.  I bought the jumbo size carpet cleaner expecting to clean up accidents all day, and I cleaned up ONE all day long.  The first day he had two pee accidents in his underwear, then by the afternoon he was asking us to take him to the potty.  He would get these grins and surge of excitement when I would say “tell me when you have to…” and he would shout YES! and run to the bathroom.  We gave him two M&M’s per time he pee’d  on the potty the first day, and it switched to one M&M the second day, and on the third day, it was only an M&M if he did #2.  We up’d the ante a few days later to cookies and suckers because he began to feel nervous about doing number two on the potty.  Partly because he was new at it, and partly because we had company over and he wasn’t very comfortable doing it while they were here.  It was nothing a little miralax didn’t fix though, and he was unplugged and going as normal by a week from the start of the training.

He did great through naps, stayed dry and would either wake up early, stay dry throughout, or wake up and go, and then go back to bed.  Night time, however, we tried him in underwear for a week, without any progress of staying dry.  He would wake up SO upset for peeing, and when we tried to put him on the potty, he would just yell “NO!!”.  I don’t really blame him either.  I mean, he would pee in his sleep, and then get woken up to bright lights, and us ripping his clothes off and changing his sheets.  I’d be pretty pissed off too.  So, after a week without improvement, we decided to just put him in pull-ups and call them “night-time pants” and tell him that he should try really hard to keep them dry.  We even tried to attach an award to it, if he kept it dry, but that didn’t seem to matter.  Even a sucker wouldn’t do the trick.  So, we’re going to leave well enough alone.  He’s done AMAZINGLY well, and much faster than we could had anticipated.  I mean, he’s only 27 months old, and some kids don’t get this until their much older.  I’m thinking maybe it’s because he was cloth diapered, and understood feeling wet and messy.  We also talked up the whole potty training prior to us actually training, and introduced questions like “Are you wet?” and “Are you still dry” which are used frequently during the potty training.  I think that helped a lot.


I feel so lucky that things have gone so well!  I am so happy to change only one baby a day.  However, one thing that they don’t tell you, is that YOUR BACK WILL HURT!  Leaning over, picking your child up and placing them on the potty a billion times a day, pulling down their pants and then pulling up their pants a billion times, wiping, etc. is exhausting!  I’ve yet to determine if it’s more or less work than diapers.  I’m sure it’ll be much better once he’s more self sufficient and can get on and off the potty alone and can pull up and down his own pants…and wiping his own butt would be fantastic!  I know that we’ve got some time before that happens though.  I’m okay with that for now.

Just some personal tips:

  • Prepare some activities or new toys on the days that you plan to train.  That way they feel like it’s an exciting fun thing that they are learning
  • Be consistent in your follow-through and try your best not to loose your cool.  Remember that this is a challenging new thing that you’re asking them to do, too!
  • Encourage them to use the bathroom, but don’t force.  When we wanted to go somewhere, and needed Parker to go.  I would just say “Do you want to go to the mall with Mom and Dad?  He would say “YES!” and I’d say “then you need to go potty first.” and he’d always go without question.  If it turns into a battle then just let it go.  You want them to think that you trust them enough to believe that they will stay dry.  Parker loves to feel like he’s trusted.  It makes him feel in control.
  • Don’t be afraid to use miralax if they’ve gone several days without going number two and they are scared to do so.  It’s a great helper if they’re holding it because they’re nervous or scared.  It was a lifesaver for Parker.

I hope this helps those of you who are planning to train your child and were looking for some helpful tips! The potty training experience has been a decent experience for us. I’m hoping that Mason will be just as easy to train!

Christmas 2011

Christmas was busy this year, as to be expected.  Lots of rushing around days before to prepare. We were excited for Parker since he has a bit more of an understanding this year than last.  We told him the true reason for the season, and read him a few books that talked about the birth of Jesus, something that is of deep importance to us.  We were also excited because it was Mason’s first Christmas, which is exciting in itself.

We had plans to have my Mom and sister Amanda over for Christmas Eve, and I had prepared a dinner with Turkey-loin in the crock pot, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.  However, that got semi-derailed by my step-father.  Family is so important to me, and it means so much to be able to see family on the holidays.  Because of a tiff that Dan and Mark got into earlier in the year, he was saying that he wasn’t going to allow Amanda to come over.  Normally, this wouldn’t have stopped my Mom from just bringing her over anyways since he does this type of thing quite often, but Amanda was also invited to a horse show, Cavalia, by a friend of hers, which complicated things further.  She being the fourteen-year-old that she is (only wanting to hang out with friends) decided to fight to go to the horse show, instead.  So, it put me in a big funk, and it left me feeling really upset and with BIG hurt feelings.  Whoa is me, right?  Ugh, I was just really looking forward to having a Christmas-ie family time and opening gifts.  They’re the closest extended family I have, and it’s a tradition to do Christmas Eve over here!

I tried to move past it, and Mom ended up coming over by herself and we went to the Christmas Eve service at church.  It was good, but didn’t seem to have that special spark of years past.  We went home, opened a few presents with Mom, and then in a rush went to my Aunt Angie’s house who lives in Tucker (about 30 mins away).  It was nice to see the family, but the boys were SO tired.  Parker had just gotten over being sick a few days prior, and Mason was on his usual schedule and we were up WAY past his bedtime.  So, he cried most the night, and I’m sure annoyed all my family members.  Ahh… the season of our life right now. I left feeling a little bah humbug.  It was still nice seeing everyone, though.  It was totally worth the visit, but exhausting to say the least.  At least the boys were dressed to impress.  Those boys were stinkin’ cute as could be.  From suspenders to matching pa-jam, jams!

Christmas Eve at Stonecreek

The Ashbys 2011

Mason's First Christmas and looking quite handsome

Opening presents with Aunt Jessica

Christmas morning we spent at home as a family, just the four of us.  I had cooked this breakfast casserole, but it turned out a bit overcooked, so we cooked some pancakes too, and just kept it a low-key morning.  I was slowly getting out of my funk, and was determined to just enjoy the time with the family.  It was after all, Mason’s first Christmas.  After breakfast, Parker started to wander over towards the tree, and noticed his first gift.  A large car garage for his matchbox cars.  He loved it!  So much so, that we had to get him interested in opening other gifts because he was completely content playing with that one.

Mason had a great time for his first Christmas.  He loved his activity table and a few other toys we got him.  The wrapping paper was a big hit, too!  In addition to the large garage for Parker’s cars, he got some frog rain boots that he loves, and lots of potty related things to help encourage him for potty training that we were starting the next day.  All were a big hit!

After a few very nice presents from Dan, including a beautiful butterfly ring and some nice new running shoes, Dan asked me to look behind one of the pillows on our settee, and he hid a brand new Cannon T3i camera!  I was shocked because it was totally unexpected.  We usually talk about our big purchases, but he kept this one a secret by using his Hilton points to get gift cards to Best Buy.  What a very sweet husband I have!  My old one was great, but the only thing that I mentioned would be nice, would be for it to be able to do  HD video.  It can be a bit of a pain using a video camera as well as a chunky DSLR camera during special events or vacations, switching between them both.  I’m IN LOVE with it!  I also got a 50mm lens that I love, and have already had a great time using with family in town.

The rest of Christmas day was pretty relaxing.  We have a little tradition to go up to Xian China Bistro on Christmas day, so we enjoyed doing that, and so did the boys.  It was pretty empty for the first half hour or so, which was nice since we aren’t exactly the most quiet family with the kiddos.  We enjoyed the remainder of the day being lazy and lounging around.  We were invited up to my grandparent’s farm in Lake Hartwell, but we opted to skip that this year since the boys are so young, and don’t do well traveling, and sleeping over. Plus, we just wanted to do our own thing for Christmas.  We had been anticipating the boys opening their gifts for a while, so we didn’t want to rush them and take on a two hour car ride without naps and their new gifts.  I’m sure as they get older, it’ll be easier to share Christmas day, but for now, I’m enjoying having our family time with just the four of us.  Christmas did make me want to have a larger family.  It totally gave me baby fever!  How awesome would it be to have a big family to share such a happy holiday with? More to love, more to share, more fun experiences!

It ended up being a great Christmas, even though Christmas Eve didn’t go as planned.  Ultimately, even though things don’t always go as planned, I am so thankful for the time I do get to spend with my family, the health of each of us, and the life that God has given me.  We are so blessed!

I got to take my camera for a bit of a test run, and took some video too.