Navah + Myka | A Cute Sister Session at the Arboretum in Clinton, Iowa

These adorable little sisters have grown so much since I last saw them at the beginning of 2018! Navah was about the size her little sister is now and Myka was just a baby. Now here they are, so beautiful and grown up. I was so excited to hear they were visiting again all the way from the United Arab Emirates and wanting another photo shoot with me! We met up at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton, Iowa, where the greens are vibrant and the flowers are blooming. You’re never at a loss for great spots at this location, it’s one of my favorite places to shoot!

I know mom and grandma were a little worried we didn’t get many usable pictures because the girls were over the whole idea of photos after about ten minutes. But it’s those little moments in-between that make the session a success. This age is always tough for parents (I know from experience)! But when they do smile and laugh, it’s so genuine and wonderful. I promised we got plenty of good shots and I really honestly LOVE the pictures we got from this session! The first ten minutes with these girls was GOLD - seriously some of the best sibling pictures; they’re just too cute!

Throwback to last Summer with the Wiebenga's

We could all use a little reminder of sunshine and the great outdoors on another cold, February day! Even though it’s been the longest Winter ever, I feel like I JUST did this shoot! It was so much fun hanging out with this cute family.

Easton and Gabriel are right around the ages of my boys so it felt very familiar! I’m so glad I was able to capture their relationships with one another and the adorable way little brother copied everything big brother did. They were seriously so cute! Even though I’m sure these two bicker just like my kids too, I can tell they’ll always be the best of friends!

I’m definitely crossing my fingers that we’ll get to do this again soon! :)

6 Simple and Effective Potty Training Tips

Is potty training as daunting for other parents as it is for me? I feel like I'm having to train myself as much as I have to train the boys! I am certainly far from an expert on the topic but am learning as I go. 

As most of my readers know, I have two boys pretty close in age. My oldest Bennett, is almost 3 and my youngest Lincoln, is close to 2. Since Lincoln has been watching Bennett learn to use the potty, he has now taken an interest as well. As exciting as it is to imagine a world without diapers...I have embraced an abundance of diaper changes throughout my day as my normal. Shaking up the routine is hard on everyone. But, somehow, we all learn to do it right?! 

I figured since this is my life now, I might as well share some tidbits I've learned so far. We're at the very beginning of this journey so I can only speak on the early stages of potty training. Every kid is different and not everything will work for everyone.

1. Are You Ready?  It's important to make sure your child is ready to start and not to be too pushy, since that may create negative emotions toward using the potty, which will only make it harder going forward. I first introduced Bennett to the potty when he was about 2 years old. To my surprise, he peed in it right away! But soon he would get really upset when I'd ask him to use the potty, so we let it go for a couple months and revisited when it was new again. He still had no interest. Then all of the sudden, within the last couple months, he's been using it like a champ. Your parent's intuition will let you know when they are truly ready to begin training. 

2. Sweet Treats!  While maybe not the most popular choice, candy rewards have worked like a charm with Bennett. I started with tootsie rolls, but that got to be too much sugar. I thought an M&M just wasn't enough, but I'm telling you, candy is candy to a toddler! Something super small like that is all it takes

3. Sticker Chart!  Okay, so my little guy didn't care one bit about a sticker chart at first. I got cute little car stickers and a book to track his progress, but he just wanted the sticker. What helped was letting him be the one to stick it. It made him feel more in control and got through to him that it was meant to be exciting! 

4. Pet-to-dry animals!  Norwex has these adorable microfiber animals for kids to use for drying their hands. Oddly enough, it makes the whole process more fun because he looks forward to drying his hands on the bear. Anything to make it special for him makes it better for him. 

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5. A "real" potty!  Again, every kid is different so some may prefer a potty with lights or popular characters, but if your child is anything like mine, he/she may just prefer the "real" thing. My kids have always been more interested in all the things in the house EXCEPT toys... remote controls, my phone, keys, shoes, and the list goes on. So I knew right away that I wanted this potty chair that looks like the one mommy and daddy use. It's actually made it easier to transition Bennett to the full sized toilet too. 

6. Positive Reinforcement!  I don't always give a reward, but I am always very proud and make sure he knows it. Kind words, hugs and kisses go far (almost as far as candy...) 

While the majority of the time I feel pretty overwhelmed with this task, I think we're doing pretty well overall. I definitely am in the market for some of your tips too (especially as we introduce big boy underwear!) so please feel free to share your own little tidbits of information with me!