Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Birthday Shout Out

Today is my birthday. No, I'm not giving myself a birthday shout out. That would be weird.

The shout out today is for my Mom.

After all, on this day 35 years ago, I didn't really do anything but follow the light, take a breath, look all cute, and sleep a lot.

She did the work 35 years ago, and for all those years after that to make sure I grew up to be who I am today.

I think she did a pretty terrific job, if I do say so myself. I only hope I can be as good a mom as she was, and still is.

Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Stickers are all the rage in our house these days.

We use them for potty rewards.

We use different ones as rewards for following the sleep rules (code for "taking a nap")

Miss loves stickers.

So does Lass.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

This week I was given the Stylish Blogger award by Melissa, whose blog is Happy Mom of Two. When named a Stylish Blogger, there are four things you are asked to do.

1. Send a thank you and link back to the person/persons who awarded you this award.
Thanks to Melissa at Happy Mom of Two!

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

About 12 years ago I went skydiving a loved it.
I hate watching the news. Hate it. The sound of a newscaster's voice (they all have the same tone and rhythm) grates on my nerves and I don't like all the overdramatization of things. Plus I can't stand how trivial things are sensationalized (Charlie Sheen? Who cares?).
I've never really had a major injury, except maybe for the time my brother accidentally hit me in the face with a baseball bat when I was four or five. I got four stitches under my right eye.
My favorite color is either yellow or green. Based on my wardrobe, probably green. Based on my home decor, it's a toss up.

I don't get into scrapbooking, but I have a baby book for each of my girls with lots of info and photos in each of them. People used to laugh at me when I was pregnant with Lass and would mention getting a baby book for her, saying that I might get the book but I'd never put anything in it. But I remember being kind of disappointed as a second child that there was almost nothing in my baby book, so I make sure to try to put as much in Lass's as is in Miss's.
I have a slight addiction to buying arts and craft supplies for my two-year-old. We have a box, cupboard, and countertop full of all sorts of crafting stuff, much of which we haven't even used yet. But I'm still drawn to that aisle of the store and have to make myself walk away without buying something.

I can't get going in the morning without my coffee. I really crave it, but it's decaf.

3. Then award 15 blogs that you follow.

These blogs are stylish and fun to read, check them out:

Thanks again to Melissa of Happy Mom of Two!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm Getting Up Now

When I started as a prison psychologist, I had to go to the same two-week training that the federal government makes all correctional workers go through. Among other things, I learned self defense, spent a lot of time on the firing range, had physical fitness tests, and learned lots about how to prevent and handle a "major disturbance," which is prison staff lingo for a riot. I remember one instructor saying something like, "We have the control in our institutions because the inmates let us have control. There are way more of them than us, and they could take control at any time. We will always get it back, but don't forget that they could take it." I heard this idea several times in various trainings I went to over the years. I think the purpose of saying this was to stress to us that our control was fragile and we needed to exert it with respect, lest our residents decide they weren't gonna take it anymore.

Fast forward seven-ish years to a day in the life of me, The Mom, the one with the "control," and Miss, The Toddler, the one who generally goes along and lets me have control because life flows better that way. The one who decided yesterday that she wasn't gonna take it anymore and went into all out riot mode. Yes folks. My 2'7", 26-pound 2 year old brought me to my knees yesterday.

Remember my post from the other day when I said potty training was going so well? Remember how I said I firmly believe you can't force a child to go to the bathroom? Well. My daughter firmly proved me right yesterday. And I never even tried to force her to go to the bathroom. I just tried to get her to not go on the floor. Or on her little chair in her room. Or on the couch. Yesterday was not my best day as Mommy, and Miss decided to seize control of things by controlling what she could - her bladder. Yes, potty training worked very well. Miss does know when she has to go and she is able to tell me. She had been doing this very well all week. One thing she had not been doing at all was napping. So after five days without a nap, we were both tired and a bit frayed. She had an accident yesterday because she did not tell me she had to go. Throughout the entire training process up to that point I had been super positive and upbeat, even with accidents. "Next time just make sure you tell Mommy when you have to go so we can keep those underwear dry, okay?" Well, yesterday I had a not-so-wonderful Mommy Moment and I scolded her for her accident. Nothing too awful, but I definitely used a stern voice and told her that she was supposed to tell me when she had to go and not pee-pee on the floor. I think I gave an exasperated sigh or two. I did manage to regroup fairly quickly and then in my more upbeat voice repeat the usual reminder to tell me when she has to go the next time. But apparently she was not all that forgiving of my moment of testiness. From that point forward, she was in control and letting me know it. She refused to go to the bathroom when I took her in to let her try. I never pushed the issue, but did try to get her to go a few times in an attempt to stop the madness that had begun. She wouldn't even sit when I'd take her into the bathroom, but then would go moments later in a less favorable spot. She wasn't giving an inch. Suffice it to say, she had many accidents throughout the afternoon. I was trying so hard not to get into a power struggle with her, which was ironic, given that I had absolutely no power with this issue at all.

Things did improve somewhat right before bed, but by that time I was a wreck. I was berating myself for being the most horrible mother ever, and thinking I had ruined all the hard work we had done on the potty training by scolding her and that I had perhaps scarred her for life as all sorts of Freudian theories came to mind. And yes, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Just ask my mom, who I called near tears while chugging a glass of wine within minutes of putting Miss to bed. Or my husband who wasn't able to get home until late last night and came in to find me grumpy and tearful and asking him to go get me ice cream (he did).

Of course, at the end of the day, when your toddler takes you down, you just have to get back up. By the time I went to bed, with the help of my husband, my mom, some wine, and some ice cream, I was feeling much better. I went to bed hopeful that yesterday would just be a bump in the road and that today would be a huge improvement. And of course it was. Miss had only one accident. She was happy to go on her potty and glowed at the praise she received. I was going to leave her with our babysitter so I could go grocery shopping this afternoon. I desperately needed to get some groceries and had wanted to go yesterday after her non-nap, but she refused to go to the bathroom, and I wasn't willing to take her out in public with a full bladder with the way things were going yesterday. So today I thought I'd just avoid any problems and let her stay with our babysitter, whom she loves. But as I was getting ready to go she said, "I want to go store too. Pwease Mommy. I not get my pants all wet." Well, that just melted my heart and so of course I let her come along. We had a great time. And when we got back, wonder of wonders, Miss finally took a nap! Oh halle-freaking-lujiah!!! All the world looks so much brighter on this side of a nap.

There are days when being a Mom just kicks the crap out of you. I really believe that there isn't any more important job. Therefore, when things don't go right, when I screw up, my feelings of inadequacy and guilt are greatly magnified. I question myself and feel like a failure. No one can make a mother of a two-year-old feel more impotent than that two-year-old. But amazingly, even when she is being a stinker and I'm at the end of my rope, the girl is sweet and loving and brightens my world. Just when I feel like I want to go crawl under my covers and stay there, she will say something like this comment from yesterday, "Lass so sweet, Lass so cute," and then when I ask her if she's cute say, "No, I not cute. I pwetty." My girls make me laugh. They make me smile. They make my heart swell until it feels like it's going to burst. Sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out. Always they make me want to be a better Mom. Even yesterday. Hell, especially yesterday! I'm not perfect, and sometimes I totally suck at this Mom thing, but in the words of that instructor, I "always get it back." I guess that's just what moms do. We do our best for our kids and sometimes we totally lose it. But we always get it back.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Taco Seasoning Recipe

In my efforts over the past few years to eat more whole foods, buy more locally and avoid packaged/processed foods, I started a while ago seasoning my taco/burrito meat with spices from my spice rack rather than buying taco seasoning packets from the store. This not only allows me to know and be able to pronounce exactly what's in the seasoning, but it's much cheaper than the packets and has better flavor too! I typically don't measure what I put in the mix and it never comes out quite the same. But in an effort to come up with a recipe for the seasoning, even if I never use this exact amount and combination again, I decided to try measuring what I put into the mix to come up with perfectly seasoned meat. It took a couple of tries, but here's what I mixed up yesterday that my hubby and I thought was especially yummy:

Start with one pound of ground meat (we use venison, but beef would be fine of course) and add the following:

1.5 Tbsp Ground cumin
1 Tbsp Chile powder
1-2 tsp Garlic salt
Just a bit of Cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy hot)

Add in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water, stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve with tortillas and your favorite fixins. Mine are cheddar cheese, sour cream, spinach, tomatoes, cilantro, and guacamole (recipe here). Voila!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 3 - We've Come a Long Way Big Girl

Potty training can be tough!!
Today was Day 3 of the 3-Day Potty Training Method. We had a few ups and downs. But over all, definitely much forward progress. Miss seems to have gotten the hang of telling us when she needs to pee, though we had a minor set back today when I had put her down for her nap and she called out that she needed to pee but I didn't hear her, so she wet the bed. And with less opportunity for practice, we're still working on completely getting to the potty in time for #2. But in general, I say the program was a success. From starting on day 1 with frequent accidents,

to consistently staying dry by the end of day two,

to weathering a setback today and finally making some progress on the poop factor (she held it all through the first two days!),

I'm very happy with the result of all our hard work this weekend. I would do a little dance if I weren't so tired.

Why am I so tired you ask? Well, in addition to the focused nature of this potty training program, which is surprisingly exhausting and will be discussed further below, we did have wet sheets last night when I checked on Miss around 3 am. I got her up, changed her, peeled off the wet sheet and waterproof mattress pad, took her to pee, and she went right back to bed. She was amazingly sweet throughout the process too. Unfortunately, when I brought the sheets down to put them in the washer, I found that my old dog had decided that I hadn't cleaned up enough pee these past few days, so she peed on the floor in the kitchen. And pooped just for good measure. By the time I got back to bed it was after 4, and just as I was finally getting back to sleep, Lass made her presence known by yelling a few times before peacefully and quickly going back to sleep (her, not me). But then what would motherhood be without lots of pee and poop and lack of sleep???

Small price to pay for moments like this

Lass was an absolute angel this weekend. In spite of being unceremoniously plopped down a few times so I could run her sister to the bathroom, and even once or twice being yanked off the boob while nursing for the same purpose (this mostly occurred on Friday when the peeing was frequent and the hubby was absent), she maintained her sunny disposition. She used the time to practice her mobility, which is increasing more and more every day.

And of course she managed to be adorable even though the poor girl never even got changed out of jammies most of the weekend (I didn't either for that matter).

I think there are lots of 3-day or 4-day or "Boot Camp" potty training methods out there. I honestly didn't research all of them because the one I chose to use was recommended to me independently by two different, trusted mom friends. Plus several other friends, who got the same recommendation and have older kids, have already tried it with success. And after reading through all the strategies in this program, it just made sense to me. I don't want to go into explaining all the strategies of a copyrighted program, but I do want to share why this program seemed a good fit to me. It doesn't involve making your child sit on the potty for long periods of time. In fact, the mom who developed this program insists your should never make your child sit for a long time on the potty. She says you should never make them sit at all. Her strategy pretty much takes all the power struggle out of potty training, and that had a great deal of appeal to me. I am a firm believer that there are two things that you can not make a child do, though many parents seem to try to make their children do them. You can't make your child eat, and you can't make your child go to the bathroom. You can make a child sit at the dinner table. You can make a child sit on the potty. I'm personally not a fan of either of these things, so I love that with this potty training method, you are actually encouraged not to make your child spend time on the potty. Among other good points of this method, this was one of my favorites. Now don't get me wrong. I know there are tons of different ways to potty train a child. And short of a method that involves berating a child and telling her she is bad or dirty for having an accident or not going in the potty or whatever, I don't think any of them are wrong. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and all eventually result in a child who learns to go to the bathroom on the toilet.

So what's the verdict with this strategy? Although I can't say Miss is 100% "potty trained" in 3 days, I will say she's got the idea and I am not worried about going to music class tomorrow without putting a diaper or a pull up on her. I feel quite confident we will have very few pee accidents during waking hours, and that consistent pooping in the potty is only a few more tries away. And I'm confident that consistently staying dry at naptime and bedtime will occur soon.

The pros of this method?

As mentioned above, no forcing long or frequent periods of sitting on the potty "trying" to go.

No coercion or bribing. Though I did give Miss rewards (stickers, sometimes a yogurt covered pretzel, a small prize the first time she got poop in the potty), I generally didn't tell her "if you go, you'll get XYZ." I don't think there's anything wrong with the practice of explicitly offering a reward for compliance, I just don't love doing it myself, especially in this type of process.

No pullups or training pants.

Success in a very short time, even if it isn't necessarily completely done in 3 days.

It helped Miss learn pretty rapidly to identify for herself, and to tell me, when she has to go.

Zero power struggles.

Strong focus on positive reinforcement and even staying positive and upbeat when accidents happen.

I spent a lot of quality time with Miss this weekend. I mean a lot.

Cons of this method:

It is very time and energy intensive for at least three days. You cannot leave the house. You can't really do much of anything but stay by your child's side and remind her to tell you when she has to go (of course while playing or otherwise interacting positively with her). Over and over and over and over. . .

That's really the only con.

So overall, I would highly recommend this method of potty training. It is working for us. I'd do it again. Now to bed. . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three Day Potty Training - Day Two

We are potty training this weekend. No pull-ups. Not even at night. Miss threw away her leftover diapers at the start of day 1. We're using this 3-Day Potty Training Method and it's working like a charm. I selected this method for several reasons. One is that I know several people who have used it successfully. Two is that it doesn't drag out the process of potty training. Three is that is makes sense to me. I could go more into detail about why I like this method, but it is a pretty intense, focused potty training strategy that has left this momma pretty tired after two full days of hovering over my two-year old, saying over and over and over "Make sure you tell Mommy if you have to go pee-pee or poo-poo okay?" So I'm too tired to do a lengthy post tonight.

I'll just say for now that we started with many accidents and mad dashes to the potty. But today we had no accidents except a little dribbling when Daddy didn't quite get Miss to the potty in time. She even had a couple of times when she told me she had to go in time to keep her underwear totally dry. We have had dry underwear after naps on both days, and this child who has been such a heavy wetter at night and has never woken up with a dry diaper made it through the night with only slightly wet underwear this morning. I went in to check on her at about 3 am, fully expecting to have to change her jammies and sheets (or peel off the top layer of my two-waterproof-layer-sheet system),and she was dry then. So I'm happy with the strategy we've chosen to use. I'm thrilled with my girl who just gets it. Here is an amazing video of my amazing girl (in her big-girl underwear) dancing with her shadow. I couldn't stop watching this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Visit with Great-Grandma

Somehow I forgot to post the photos from our brief visit to my husband's grandmother last Friday. We drove out Thursday night, stayed in a hotel, and then were able to visit for a few hours Friday morning before driving home that evening. It was a short but very fulfilling trip. Miss was a bit shy to start, but got warmed up by greeting her Great-Grandma's leprechaun statue-doll thing.

Lass met her Great-Grandma for the first time, and was such a lover.

Miss got comfortable and had some fun chatting and showing off the books she brought along.

It was such a nice visit with my husband's lovely grandmother. I know I've written about this many times before, but it's just so important to us for our girls to get to spend time with their family. Even if our girls won't remember this short visit, my husband will. His grandmother will. I will. And we will have these photos and others always to show our girls before future trips and also whenever we tell the girls about who they came from. Before this trip and our recent trip to Florida, during which we visited my grandparents, I showed Miss photos from her previous visits with her great grandparents and told her about who we were going to see. She probably doesn't remember her last visit with her Great-Grandma S, but when we woke up in the hotel on Friday morning and I asked her who we were going to see that day, she knew. Our girls' roots are spread far and wide, but they are strong and deep and thoroughly nurturing, and I want them to always be secure in this fact. Ten hours in the car and few hours of sleep for one night is a small price to pay for strengthening my girls' connections to their family tree.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Home

You can always tell when we've spent the day at home.

Miss got out tons of toys to make sure her sister had enough to play with.

We didn't leave the house today. Staying in for more than one day starts to make me a bit crazy, but for today it was nice. We read lots of books and played games. Legwarmers were the stay-at-home style for today. Miss insisted on wearing some when she saw me put them on Lass.

Now that Lass is sitting up so well, she and Miss play together more and more. They spent lots of time working on sharing today. The big toys of the day were a ball, a chain of plastic beads and a squeaking giraffe. Miss liked to do a quick swap with Lass when she wanted something Lass had in her hand. Lass loved the big blue ball, so Miss would roll it up to her and then stealthily grab the beads and/or giraffe in exchange. Lass really enjoyed the ball, so she didn't seem to care. Miss was very into the sharing/swap idea, as when I once handed her the giraffe, she said "Fanks. You wanna chew this?" and held out the slobbery beads to me (I think she's getting more molars, as she is often chewing toys at the back of her mouth).

During Lass's morning nap Miss and I got some quality time in the kitchen. Instead of our usual cookies or another baking project, we tried a no-bake St. Patrick's Day treat today. We started with yogurt-covered pretzels. Naturally we had to try out a few of these before getting started.

We got all our stuff together

and then melted some white chocolate chips in the microwave (of course we sampled these too).

Miss got a shamrock sticker so she would know what we were making. We shaped the pretzels into shamrocks and used the white chocolate to "glue" the pieces together.

Once they dried we used green frosting and white frosting with green sprinkles to really make them shamrocks (this idea came from the March issue of Family Fun magazine).

Miss dug in and enjoyed the sprinkles.

It was a happy day at home.