Sunday, 21 August 2016

5 ideas on how to make homemade cards with a toddler

Ever since I can remember, my sisters and I have had the tradition of making cards for our parents and each other for birthdays, Christmas and any other special occasion worthy of a greetings card.  As well as being much more personal and meaningful than a shop-bought card, I think it's something we all enjoy; it gives us a chance to exercise our creative-artistic muscles in a small way and it's fun to create something especially for a specific person - you find yourself thinking about them as you're making it.

5 ideas how to make homemade cards with a toddler


For the past few years I've been really rubbish at making cards, even before I had the excuse of the baby taking up all my free time!  This year, however, I made a conscious effort to get back into it and to include my toddler in the creative process.  Admittedly, I've still been rubbish at actually taking the cards to the post office and sending them (*hangs head in shame*), but I'll get there eventually.

So how do you go about involving a toddler in the creative process and still get a cute and pretty finished card?  No offense to toddlers but if you let them take over, you'll end up with something that doesn't even vaguely resemble a greetings card, and will most probably be stuck to the table or else completely painted/scribbled over in an attractive shade of brown.  Sound familiar?

The key is to stay in control of the three main elements  - toddler, artwork and material.  This is not the moment for messy play - you can do that afterwards!  Or else find a way to incorporate it into your creations.

1.  Christmas cards
Emma was 21 months old in December and I decided the easiest way for her to collaborate on the cards was like this:
  • First I drew lots of outlines of Christmas trees and stockings on several blank sheets of paper and asked Emma to colour them in with some crayons. She obliged with a kind of multicoloured scribble which was just what I was after.
  • Then I got out some red and green watercolour paint and a paintbrush and she did more "colouring in" over the top of the crayon lines which gave us a really great two-textured effect; the paint, of course, only being able to take hold on the blank spaces on the paper where there wasn't crayon.
  • Then I cut out the tree and stocking shapes and arranged and glued them onto different coloured cards.  I also cut out some presents from the leftover pieces of Emma's paper, to stick under the Christmas trees.
  • I also stuck one shape - a tree, stocking or present - in the middle of the inside of each card.  
And they were done!  Quite simple.

Homemade Christmas cards

March and April are busy months for cards and I have to admit I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.  There are so many great ideas to use as they are or adapt in any way you like.  I need never think of an original idea again!

2.  Fingerprint balloons 
First was my mother-in-law's birthday, then my sister Alex's birthday.  I used the same base of fingerprint balloons to make two different designs.  Emma loved doing fingerprint painting  - the tricky part was getting her to put her fingerprints in a neat bunch of balloons arrangement, but we managed it!

Fingerprint balloons card

I took the idea of fingerprints as balloons from something I saw on Pinterest - unfortunately, the website it was from doesn't seem to exist anymore.

3.  Glue-sing it with collage 
For my Dad's birthday card, I saw this idea on RED TED Art and then completely changed it.  Instead of making a collage monster with geometric shapes, we made a collage lion which I drew the outline of on the card.  I cut up some different types of scrap paper into little squares and rectangles (the easiest shapes to cut!) and Emma used a glue stick (and began to learn a new skill) to paste the pieces on the lion.  She chose which colour paper and where exactly on the lion to stick each piece.  She did get a little over enthusiastic with the glue stick, as you can probably see in the photo!

Toddler collage card

4.  My heart in my hands
I found a very cute idea for a Mothers' Day card (or Valentines Day) on Krokotak.com.  Here Emma's contribution was letting me draw round her hands.

Handmade heart hands card

  • First, I folded a blank sheet of paper in half and got Emma to place one hand on it with fingers spread open so that her thumb and forefinger were' just touching the fold.  I then drew around her hand.
  • The space between the thumb and forefinger is vaguely heart-shaped; I cut it into a more perfect heart shape, then cut out around the hand.  Obviously, because I folded the paper in half I had two hands when I opened it out, but you must remember to keep them joined together at the tips of the thumb and forefinger to leave the heart-shaped hole in the middle.
  • Next I chose some pretty patterned paper and drew around my opened-out hand template on the back of the patterned paper.  Then I cut it out carefully.
  • I made sure the two hands would fit onto the background card and trimmed the edges where necessary, then pasted the hands onto the folded card.
  • That was basically it.  I also decided to add some extra little hearts, cut out of the same patterned paper and glued on the card in the spaces around the hands, and Emma drew some pictures inside the card!
5.  A birthday card for a toddler 
Finally, this last card was not made by a toddler, but for a toddler - this was the card I made for Emma's 2nd birthday.

Puppy ears card

I loved this idea as soon as I saw it on Pinterest.  You can find detailed instructions plus a downloadable PDF template to make the card on mmmcrafts .  It's such a fun card and Emma was fascinated with it, too.  You can see in the photo that it's already a little the worse for wear after many tongue-pullings (you pull the tongue down and the ears pop up!) with glitter glue covered fingers!

I hope you've been inspired - or at least entertained - by the creations here.  Do check out the pages I've linked to, you can find many more great ideas there, too.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with involving toddlers in card making or other creative projects - tell me about it in the comments below!


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Friday, 5 August 2016

Potty Training Diary: Week 3

At the end of Week 3 of potty training, I feel like we've pretty much cracked it; Emma has been making great progress and seems to be much more at ease with using the potty or the toilet.  Hopefully from now on it will just keep getting easier, but of course, I could be wrong.

I could be very wrong.

If there's one thing I know, it's that you never know - especially with a two year old!

Before I tell you about how we got on this week, you may want to catch up on the previous episodes of our Potty Training Diary in Week 1: Days 1 & 2Days 3, 4 & 5Days 6, 7 & 8 and in Week 2

Potty training diary


I don't think I need to go into so much detail about each day as it will probably get a bit repetitive and boring, so I'm just going to summarise Emma's progress this week and give you the most important points.

She was eating quite a bit better than she had been the previous week, and drinking a little more liquid, though I still think she probably needs to drink and eat more.  There's room for improvement, let's just say.

This week she did between one and four wees per day, most of them on the potty or the toilet.  We just had two accidents all week - one on Tuesday when Emma was playing downstairs and didn't tell us in time that she needed to use the potty, the other on Friday morning when there was suddenly a puddle on the bedroom floor.  Both times she got very upset about it.

She was suffering from constipation for a few days then was mostly back to normal.  When she did do a poo she used the potty.

What I thought might complicate things was a trip to Mexico City at the weekend.  On Sunday, we went to Emma's cousin's fifth birthday party and stayed with family there, coming back on Tuesday morning.  I decided it would be easiest for Emma to wear pull-ups while we were away, but in fact, they stayed clean and dry for the whole trip!

The journey there took about three and a half hours, due to some heavy traffic, but Emma slept for a good part of the journey and never once said she needed to pee.  When we arrived at the party and lots of people - some she knew, some she didn't - were coming up to her to say hello, she suddenly started crying inconsolably and clinging to us.  I took her to the bathroom, thinking she had probably done a wee, but the pull-up was dry and she didn't want to sit on the toilet and didn't want to wee, so I didn't force her.  She had calmed down by then and we went back out to the party.  She was happy for a while eating a bit of chocolate cake, but was still clingy and on the verge of tears.

A bit later, she suddenly cried out, "pee pee!"  So I whisked her into the bathroom again, found her pull-up dry and sat her on the toilet.  Actually, I think I asked her if she wanted to sit on th big toilet and she said yes.  She did a wee immediately, with me holding her up - she didn't seem to mind the precariousness though.  I was so proud of her for using the big toilet!

After that she was back to her normal self, playing with her cousins, running and jumping around and not letting go of her balloon.  She used the toilet once more while we were at the party and I could hardly believe what a big girl she was being.

We stayed at my husband's cousin's home and Emma used the toilet there several times, successfully. She also used the toilet in a restaurant we went to.  When we got back home on Tuesday she happily sat on her potty and did a wee!

This is why I'm now feeling very positive about Emma's potty training progress.  Since we got back from our trip she's been using the potty more frequently, and sits for less time on the potty - now she usually does a wee almost as soon as she sits down, whereas before it would take a bit of time before anything came out.  I guess that's a sign that she feels more comfortable with the whole idea of peeing in the potty.  She is also going much sooner after getting up in the morning, so is not holding it in unnecessarily.

We'll see how she continues and how she gets on when I go back to work next week (too soon!), but I'm definitely feeling optimistic!

Linking this post with 

My Random Musings

Sunday, 31 July 2016

This Week 29/52: In pictures

I wrote plenty about this week in our Potty Training Diary: Week 2, but it wasn't all about the potty!  Here are some of our non-potty-based highlights of the week:

Emma's favourite phrase this week was probably Look at me, mummy!  I obediently turn to look (or maybe I was already looking at her) and see her standing on one leg, or on her head, swinging on the edge of a chair, trying to pull her knickers down by herself (still struggling with this!) or building a tower out of toys.

Some of my favorite photos from this week: 

Toddler tricycle

Emma was determined to put her wellies on to go outside - maybe in the hope of finding some muddy puddles to jump in?! 

Toddler hide and seek


Playing hide-and-seek with a toddler; she tells me where to hide, of course!  She says, "Say 'ere, mummy!" Then she counts, "One, two, see, fy!"

Blue moth

We came across this beauty on the way to the bank the other day.  The colours were even more vivid in real life, the photo doesn't really do it justice.

Eating...

Broccoli bake

My broccoli cheese ham and pasta bake.  It was an experiment that turned out pretty well, I think.


Toddler picnic

In an attempt to get Emma to eat better, I resorted to taking dinner outside and having a picnic.  She enjoyed the novelty of it and did eat a bit more out in the evening sunshine.

Doing and making...

Toddler art painting

We had a little art session which started out with a butterfly collage for a friend's birthday card, then moved on to making handprints and fingerprints and just painting with a brush.  Emma had a lot of fun painting her own hand, then her nails, then the back of her hand, then up her arm!  Let's just say there was quite a lot of cleaning up to do afterwards!

Quote of the Week 
I like this quote, the ambiguity of it.  Apply it to whatever you like.

Quote Thoreau




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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Potty Training Diary: Week 2

We survived the second week of potty training!

I know, people generally do.  You don't hear about families perishing while potty training, do you?  But seriously, there were moments when I wondered if it might be better to give up, stop for a while, and try again later, in a few months maybe.  But then I thought it might be worse as Emma got older.

Could it really have been that bad?  Well, from Tuesday to Wednesday she went at least 24 hours without doing a single wee - anywhere.  Tell me that this wouldn't worry you!  On top of that, she hadn't done a poo in over two days.  She had also not been eating properly for the past few days and seemed to have lost her appetite, so I was concerned that she was somehow mentally blocking herself about the potty and her health was suffering as a consequence.

Potty training


Tuesday 
Emma woke up with a dry nappy in the morning.  During the course of the morning I got her to sit on the potty a few times but nothing came out.  Then I made the grave mistake of deciding to give her a bath shortly after breakfast.  She didn't like this idea one little bit and started having a huge tantrum, screaming so much that she ended up vomiting, then doing a wee in the bath.  Maybe that was the problem; I was too impatient to wait for her to eventually do a wee but Emma didn't like having a bath with the feeling that she needed to wee.  Probably that was it.  She doesn't do fits of screaming normally, but the few occasions when she has have been in the bath.

Anyway, cleaned up and out of the bath, she calmed down and was back to her usual self.  She wore a pull-up the rest of the day, but it stayed clean and dry.

Wednesday 
As I mentioned before, by Wednesday afternoon, Emma still hadn't done any wee at all since her bath the previous morning, which was starting to worry me.  I had to go to the bank and I took her with me thinking that a little walk would probably do her good.  She was wearing a pull-up and while we were out she did a wee and a poo.  I didn't care that it was in the pull-up, I was just relieved that it was out!

Thursday 
A similar pattern to the previous day.  Her night time pull-up was dry in the morning, I changed her into some normal knickers but she didn't want to do a wee at all.  Then at midday I took her out to the
park just down the road for a picnic lunch.  She was wearing a pull-up which I had to change twice in
the short time we were out as she did lots of wee, then two poos!

Back home in the evening, I was in the bathroom when Emma came rushing in shouting "Knickers no! Knickers no!" I helped her to take them off and told her to sit on the potty.  She had wet the knickers a bit, but on the potty she only did a few more little drops.

Friday 
As usual, her pull-ups were dry in the morning.  Some time just before 12 she said she wanted to do a poo.  Her grandmother took her to the potty, but Emma refused to sit on it.  When I got upstairs a few minutes later, she was sitting on the potty in wet knickers surrounded by a puddle of wee!  There was a considerable amount in the potty, too.

Saturday 
She stayed dry all night again (I'm thinking maybe night time potty training will be much easier than daytime potty training - she rarely does anything during the night, despite drinking her milk right before bedtime).  Around midday she started complaining/whining - now recognized as a sign that she needs to use the potty.  I think she subconsciously holds in the wee, so starts to feel really uncomfortable after a while.  She was persuaded to sit on the potty and eventually, after a demonstration of running water (it actually helps to pour a little water into the potty!), she gave an exclamation of surprise and I could hear her doing a wee!  This made me happy!

A bit later, she was complaining again and sat on the potty for a while and did a small poo.  Then she sat back on the potty again and seemed to want to do more, but didn't.  Perhaps about an hour afterwards, she was getting ready to go out with her grandmother when she started complaining and crying.  We discovered she had done a poo again, this time in the pull-up.  In the evening, when she got back home again, her pull-up was wet.

So all in all, it was quite a productive day!

Sunday 
Not much to write about, just one wee in the potty all day.

Monday 
Again, at around midday she did a wee in the potty, and said that she needed to go beforehand, so she seems to be getting into a bit of a routine now.

In the afternoon, she was in the bedroom, close to the potty when she suddenly cried out "Esoy acendo popo!" (I'm doing poopoo!). She was!  I got her to the potty just in time - sort of.  It came out in the potty, anyway.

Later that afternoon, we went out for dinner (because I really couldn't be bothered to cook and also thought we needed to get out).  It was Emma's first time out with normal knickers instead of pull-ups (I gave her the option but she chose knickers!).  She was absolutely fine.  We were out about two and a half hours, walking on the way there.  On the way back she fell asleep in the pushchair.

So, in conclusion:  Week 2 ended much more promisingly than it started.  Although she may not always tell us in words when she needs to use the potty, she does at least let us know by making complaining and whining noises!  She is becoming a bit more willing to use the potty when she needs to and it's becoming part of her normal daily routine activities.  Best of all, she's eating better than she was, which is great.  We just need to work on her drinking more fluids, I think.  I'm definitely feeling more optimistic!

Let's see what Week 3 has in store for us...

Catch up with the first week of my  Potty Training Diary:

Friday, 22 July 2016

Potty Training Diary: Days 6, 7 & 8

Our first week of potty training ended with the realisation that this is going to take a while, probably longer than I'd hoped.  Potty training in three days?  I don't think so!

If you've missed the first two installments of our journey you can catch up here with my Potty Training Diary Days 1 & 2 and Days 3, 4 & 5.

Potty training diary


Day 6 (very successful)
It was a Saturday.  Emma had a dry nappy in the morning, as usual, which I took off after breakfast and put some knickers on her.  I kept asking her if she wanted to sit on the potty, but she didn't.  She seemed to be quite tired still from all the walking and excitement of the previous day and spent most of the morning flopping around lazily on my bed.  She didn't want to play or really do anything.

Meanwhile, me and Eduardo were running around like headless chickens trying to clean and tidy at least the downstairs part of the house (as if it's that big, it's really not at all!) as we were having visitors over in the afternoon and, quite honestly, the house was a tip.  So I was popping in and out of the bedroom at intervals to check on Emma, trusting her to at least get off the bed if she suddenly needed to use the potty!

There was no need to worry.  I lost track of the exact time, but somewhere between 1 and 3pm Emma finally decided to sit on the potty and did a lot of wee.  Yay!  A short while later she wanted to sit down again.  This time her grandmother was with her and I was downstairs when I got called upstairs again.  Emma said "Sorpresa!" and showed me a big poo in the potty!  I made a big fuss of her for this achievement!

A bit later, Eduardo's uncle and aunt arrived ("Tito" and "He-ha" to Emma!) and we went outside to the palapa, a little communal terrace area with tables and chairs next to the pool, to have snacks, a dip in the pool, then lunch.  Luckily it has a roof, so we were shaded from the sun and when it suddenly started to pour down with rain, we didn't get wet!  I put Emma in a pull-up to go outside, I don't know if this was the right or wrong thing to do.  We came back inside quite late and Emma fell asleep early after all the swimming and jumping around outside.

Day 7 (not so good)
Sunday saw a distinct lack of potty action.  In the morning Emma had a wet nappy, then during the day we had two little accidents only a few steps away from the potty. The second one was white we were talking to my sister over Skype, so she got to share in the fun an games, too!  So that meant two puddles on the floor that turned into rivers as I tried to get her to the potty mid-pee and two pairs of wet knickers to wash and a twice-upset Emma.  She really seems to hate it when that happens and gets very upset, despite my trying to convince her that it's okay, we can easily clean it up and get Emma clean and dry.  I never tell her off when that happens or get annoyed.  I suppose it's a good sign that she doesn't like it.  And at least she wasn't holding it in.

Day 8 (reasonably good)
On Monday, she woke with a dry nappy and didn't do anything until around 12.40pm (very precise, I know, I noted down the time!) when she did a lot of wee in the potty - yippee!  I was starting to get worried about how much she was holding in, she was going a long time without weeing at all.  I can't manage that!  However the next 48 hours would turn out to be even worse....

To be continued in Week 2 of the Potty Training Diary....


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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

This Week 27 & 28/52: Toddler fashion craze?

Week 27 was my last week at work before breaking up for summer and week 28 was the start of my holidays and first week of potty training - catch up on our progress in my Potty Training Diary Days 1 & 2 and Days 3, 4 & 5.  It was a challenging week and the challenges will continue.

The Saturday before last we took Emma for a checkup with the pediatrician as it had been ages since the last one.  Everything was fine, she's growing and developing as she should be.  At one point, sitting on the examining table as the doctor was looking into her ears, Emma's lower lip began to stick out and she looked like she was going to start crying.  Then she did, for a little while.  It must have all felt a bit strange to her, as we don't go to the doctor often enough for the experience to be something familiar.  But after that she was okay.

Puppets
Finger puppet birds feeding on a biscuit!

The other day in the park, Emma delighted in throwing seeds and stones down the slide, but it was hard to convince her to go down the slide herself.  She was really amused to see a dog splashing around with great enjoyment in a deep puddle in the grass.

Later, we stopped off at the supermarket to get a few things, which Emma wasn't happy about at all, so I said she could help me pull the wheelie basket around.  She was convinced.  Then she noticed the stickers on the bananas and peeled off a couple and stuck them on her hand.  I told her the stickers said "I'm a banana" and asked her if she was a banana, so with great amusement she went around the fruit section saying "Emma banana, Emma banana!" and peeling stickers off all the other fruit!  She got quite a collection on her hand; she then stuck all the stickers on top of each other and put the whole lot on her shoulder.  She wore them like that all the way around the supermarket and back to the park and it got me wondering whether this was the latest trend in toddler fashion - it certainly seemed like it!

Toddler fashion
Could fruit stickers on the shoulder be the latest toddler fashion craze?

Emma loves...

Stickers, of course - rearranging them, sticking them all on top of each other, etc.
Peppa.  Say no more.  But why do they keep putting marathons of Peppa on TV?  I'm scared to switch it on sometimes.
Jumping - jumping everywhere, in the street, up and down steps, on the bed, on the sofa, on the grass...
Climbing - usually on the furniture and generally using it as an obstacle course.
Biscuits - no matter how much her appetite for nutritious food seems to have diminished, this has not in any way affected her capacity for biscuit consumption.

Emma says...

...so much!  Just a few of her phrases:

Ahora tu, mummy = now you, mummy (taking turns)
Get geen one/ get yeyo one = we were playing with a green ball and a yellow ball, but she wasn't always keen on going to get either of them, instead trying to persuade me to go and pick them up!
Emma tiene seño (sueño) = Emma is sleepy
Gammar = Grandma (during a conversation over Skype)
Miya, Emma in Daddy pace, nex Mummy! = Look, Emma's in Daddy's place, next to Mummy! (She delights in sitting in Daddy's side of the bed!)
(Singing) Uno, dos, tes, sete, ocho, Emma sing song! = 1, 2, 3, 7, 8  (This is how Emma counts in Spanish!)
Tu botas mamá, sump muddy puddles! = Your boots, mummy, jump in muddy puddles! (Where did she get the idea of jumping in muddy puddles from, I wonder!). Emma has some wellies now, so she had to put them on to do pretend jumping in puddles!  Of course she got my boots out and tried to rope me in, too!

A common conversation we have in these days of frequent afternoon thunderstorms goes like this:
'Sen (listen) Emma puts her hand to her ear and I ask her, What can you hear?  She answers, Unna (thunder).

My Quote of the Week is back.  A reminder of how much difference our attitude can make.

Quote attitude


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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Potty Training Diary - Days 3, 4 & 5

Our potty training journey continues!  Read the first part of our adventures in Potty Training Diary - Days 1 & 2 to find out how we got started.

Potty training


Day 3

In the morning Emma's nappy was dry again.  Today I was determined that Emma should be spending less time just sitting on the potty, which is how she'd spent most of the previous day - she
wouldn't get up!  So after sitting there for a little while in the morning with nothing happening, I
managed to convince her to get up and play.  She didn't want to put knickers on, though.

It still took a long time, but things started happening slightly earlier than the previous day.  At around 1pm we were in the bathroom and Emma was rearranging all the stickers on her chart.  Then she wandered back into the bedroom without saying anything.  I followed about a minute later to see her sitting on her potty, looking up at me.  Then I noticed a puddle right in front of the potty!  When we checked, there was some wee in the potty, too.  I was really happy and congratulated her for realizing all by herself that she needed to use the potty and going to sit on it.  I thought it was a huge advance.  

About an hour later, Emma seemed to be really uncomfortable.  She sat on the potty again and was there for quite a while and kind of crying-complaining.  When I checked in the potty there was a lot of wee in there.  After that she was happy to put her knickers on and was jumping and climbing over everything, basically turning the bedroom into some kind of obstacle course!  I couldn't get her to drink a lot of liquids, however.  I kept offering her juice or water but she would only occasionally take small sips.

Much later, she was sat on the potty again and I went to get a couple of things from the shop across the road, leaving Emma with her grandmother.  When I came back a few minutes later there was a surprise waiting for me in the potty - a small poo!  Another achievement!

In conclusion, I think it was a great day with a lot of advances.

Potty training sticker chart


Day 4

This was a really rubbish day.  I suppose we didn't get off to a very promising start as we began late: we went downstairs to make and eat breakfast before taking Emma's nappy off, so of course she did a wee in the nappy.  I have to say, though, that it was worrying me a bit that she seemed to be holding
in her first wee of the day for as long as possible.

During the day she was wearing knickers, playing and sitting on the potty for not-too-long periods of time, but nothing was happening.  She was also avoiding drinking much liquid and she was refusing to eat very much.  This was worrying, too.  The previous day she hadn't wanted to eat much either.

Some time in the afternoon, I noticed her knickers were a bit wet and when I took them off I discovered that it wasn't wee, it was actually a smearing of rather liquidy poo.  However, Emma hadn't said or done anything to suggest she was uncomfortable, she'd just continued playing.

And that was it all day, until nighttime when we put her nappy on.

My main concern was with her eating, and that maybe her tummy wasn't 100%.  I've even wondered if she has parasites again, as that can cause loss of appetite.  We'll see if there's any improvement over the next few days.

To end on something positive, the highlight of the day for me was probably when we did some yoga together.  It was very funny and we'll definitely have to do some more!

Potty training stickers
Emma's sticker chart after she'd rearranged all the stickers umpteen times!


Day 5

After being stuck in the house most of the week, I was determined to take Emma out, get some fresh air and have some fun - even if it meant taking a break from potty training.  A reassuring email from my mum also encouraged me to this!

So, in the morning, I took off her nappy (dry) and she sat on the potty for a bit, but nothing came out. We were at home all morning, but she didn't do any wee at all and when we went out at about 1pm I did put a nappy on her as I think it's a bit too soon to take her out for such a long time without one.  Also we were going to the park first and there aren't any toilets there!  

We were out all afternoon, went to the park twice, did a lot of walking, Emma ate slightly more than the previous day, but still not much.  On the way home she fell asleep - it was about 8pm, by then - so there was no chance to use the potty in the evening.  I am glad we went out, though, as I think we both needed a bit of distraction!

Follow the next step of our journey here: Potty Training Diary Days 6, 7 & 8

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday