Potty Planning

photo (9)We’re gearing up for Potty Party Day in 3 weeks’ time, as I mentioned in a previous post. Wes is either wearing no pants (which he hates) or pull-ups in the evenings and on weekends, and sometimes he’ll even ask to sit on the potty. A few different times I’ve actually gotten him to sit for several minutes at a time, sans pants, on his potty chair! We still haven’t had any successes, but that’s what Potty Day is for. So when I mean we’re gearing up for “the Day,” I mean I’m gathering supplies.

Training Pants – I bought 12 pairs of Gerber training pants to use for the Day. I actually got one out today to have him try it on before I wash them all, but we’re not using them yet or keeping them in sight so as to not lose the excitement factor. His daycare prefers we use disposables until he is fully trained, so I also have a mix of Target brand training pants (FYI don’t use for overnight!) and Easy-Ups for nap and nighttime use.

The reason I went with the Gerber pants over a set of cheap character ones is because these have slight padding in the front, which doesn’t prevent leakage when a full bladder is released, but it will help keep in some accidents on the way to the toilet and dribbly days. Also, the quality is great. They’ll hold up well in the wash and we can use them as “undies” until he outgrows them. I purposely bought a size bigger so he can wear them for longer. Plus, they fit him like boxer-briefs and are so darn cute!

Potty Chair – I got the cheapest one I could find that has stability and handles, a Fisher Price Frog Chair. I purchased it new (I really couldn’t stand the thought of getting a used one) several months ago, but it actually fits in nicely with our Potty Day theme. We also have a Potette Plus for the basement bathroom and doubles as a to-go potty chair option.

Potty Doll – Instead of buying a rather expensive doll that wets on its own, I opted for getting a plush version of Hopkins, the “toddler” frog featured in the Baby Signing Time DVD series. Wes has been a huge fan of Signing Time forever, and it works great for us because he’ll have a connection with Hopkins based on familiarity. Hopkins endures potty training in the Potty Time DVD, which we’ve had for several months as well. This Hopkins doll will also be a nice keepsake after the fact and won’t be awkward to keep around.

I haven’t yet, but I will go ahead and either make or buy some additional training pants for Hopkins for “the Day.” The goal is for the child to help train the doll to use the potty and we’ll need several pairs of undies for Hopkins since he’ll have a few accidents (I’ll just use a wet sponge to dampen them.).

Books & Movies – We do have a few of our own around the house, but I reserved about 20 different titles of books and DVDs from the library that we can read and watch on the Day. Stuff that we have already seen doesn’t have the same wow factor or hold as much attention, so these will be great to have on hand. The one exception is our beloved Potty Time DVD since Hopkins is the star of the show.

Decorations – My first thought for the Day was to have a Thomas & Friends party, since Wes looooooves trains. But the book I’m reading that suggests the Potty Party Day seems to focus so heavily on decorations and theme that it gets a little out of control. I finally settled on making it all about Hopkins, the frog, so I can easily find cheap frog and/or green stuff from the dollar store to make it extra special. We don’t need to have a themed activity in between every undies check (to praise if dry, to change if wet) or themed food treats as praise items. We can do fun, new things, of course, but I don’t have to be too creative or expensive here. Like, green balloons and stickers are perfect and dirt cheap.

Potty Prizes – I’m not going to spend lots of money here. I’m going to print some freebie potty charts found on the web. Every time Wes (or Hopkins) has dry undies during a periodic check, he gets a sticker for the chart. Every time Wes or Hopkins potties IN the potty chair, he gets a sticker AND a special edible treat, like M&Ms or something. I haven’t quite figured out what a full chart leads to – a wrapped gift, a “party” of sorts with grandparents or a trip to Target to pick out a special prize? I’ve got a little time left to figure it out.

Posted: March 1st, 2014
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Conversations with Wes: Backseat Driver

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On our way home from work and school today.

Wes: (approaching a stop light) Mama! Look, it’s green!
Me: That’s right! What does the green light mean?
Wes: (signing) Stop! Stop!
Me: So close. The red light means stop. What does the green light mean?
Wes: Stop! Means stop! Stop!
Me: Honey, the green light means go, right?
Wes: No, Mama. It means stop. Stop!
Me: You can remember green means go because they both start with the letter G. Guh. Go. Green.
Wes: Means stop.
Me: Does red mean go?
Wes: No, red means stop! Green means go!
Me: That’s right! Great job, sweetie.
Wes: (frantically pointing to his right as we’re driving through the green light) Mama, nooooo! Go THIS way!
Me: Sweetheart, we’re going home, and home is straight ahead.
Wes: It’s THIS way!!

The rest of the trip was spent trying to explain that I knew where I was going. Oy vey.

Posted: February 21st, 2014
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Potty Training for this Dummy, Me

pottypartyIt’s on the calendar. March 21, 2014, is Potty Party Day. I’ve scoured books, forums and websites for ideas and suggestions for a phase of life I have no idea how to tackle. I’m surrounded by friends and family members who either have miraculous children, aren’t currently training or have special accommodations (my nephew uses a cath). Then there’s the issue of gender. Boys are still a little foreign to me. What about standing up? Will my bathroom need more frequent cleaning from “stray sprays?”

Wes turns three in July, and by August, he’ll need to be fully trained to move up to the 3’s classroom. I’m confident we’ll get there in plenty of time, but I do have a deadline looming over my head. And I’d really like to have this nailed down before our July vacation. So here we go!

I’m a researcher and a planner; here’s my personal goals and outline.

1. Take a readiness quiz. CHECK.
Or two or three. Wes is certainly intellectually and physically ready for potty training, but he shows no interest at all. We’ve had a potty chair for months, and he’ll occasionally sit on it, clothed. We have watched DVDs, listened to potty CDs and read books galore. He loves flushing the toilet and “helping” others complete all the steps in the bathroom, but refuses to potty in anything but a diaper. And he doesn’t seem to mind when it’s wet and hanging low.

2. Get educated. CHECK.
Two of the books I’ve read are Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day and The No-Cry Potty Training Solution. For the last 9 months, we’ve been watching Signing Time’s Potty Time DVD and listening to the music in the car to the point of memorization. Wes has always loved the Baby Signing Time series, so it’s an easy sell. Outside of random google searches, I’ve also found some good tips and resources at pottytrainingconcepts.com.

3. Decide on a plan of attack. CHECK.
I wasn’t sure I’d be sold on the Potty Party idea until I finished reading. I wouldn’t say I’m totally sold on everything they recommend, but considering Wes needs enticement to try anything new, we can make it a fun experience. He’s super cautious about change – I mean, he was nearly 10 months old before he rolled over – and the subtle introduction of the potty chair isn’t cutting it. He also loves our undivided attention, and this plan gives him my entire being for a full day…it just happens to be spent mostly talking about and being in the bathroom.

4. Prepare.
Currently I’m deciding on which training doll/stuffed animal will be best, if and what theme this party should be and all the entailing details. I feel like parents can get way out of hand here and spend oodles of money on this process. Haven’t kids been trained for generations without all the fluff? Anyway, my current thinking is a Thomas & Friends themed party complete with decorations around the house, themed foods and drinks and games. Too bad Thomas is a train and doesn’t need to be potty trained. I doubt they have an episode on leaking tar… BUT, Potty Time/Signing Time does have a frog named Hopkins that is trained in the DVD. They also sell a Hopkins plush toy with a pair of underpants, and Wes would get a kick out of teaching Hopkins to potty by himself, doubling as a new toy. I really need to plan this out so I’m not going broke on supplies.

5. Execute.
You might be asking, what the heck is a potty party? I really didn’t know, either. Basically it’s a full day you put aside to celebrate a changing lifestyle. You can be as creative as you like, but typically it envolves introducing a doll to the potty chair and experiencing accidents with this toy so that a connection is made within the child. The toy is trained in the morning – going to the bathroom and having accidents for several hours until the toy continues to have a dry pair of underpants. The afternoon is spent training the child to do the same. Experts claim this can be done in a few hours. The party aspect is overly celebrating all achievements.

6. Follow-through.
I’m purposely planning Party Day to fall on a Friday that I take off work so that I have the remainder of the weekend to maintain a schedule and stay indoors. They say it takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so maybe within a month’s time we’ll have this thing in the books as a success with few accidents!

I have 4 weeks to get everything ready and gear myself up for this “party.” You can probably tell I’m still a little skeptical, but I think it will work. Steven will be out of town that weekend, so he won’t have any available ways to make fun of my celebratory tactics!

Do you have any words of wisdom or “if it doesn’t work, try this” scenarios for me as I embark on this journey? Thanks in advance!

Posted: February 17th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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The Advice Column

gooseI am feeling very protective of my family recently. There have been times in the last few months where I’ve almost said something snarky on return of a comment made about (or for) one of my boys, my extended family – or even the dogs. Typically I let things glide on past without getting too irritated, but perhaps this ridiculous weather has had an affect on me.

Mama Bear is roaring out of me. I’m the annoying mother goose protecting her nest. If you know me at all, I do try to avoid conflict at most costs, but my heart is bursting with pride for my peeps, and I feel the need to protect.

I know that most of the time, people:

1) Do mean well, usually. They are just trying to make conversation.
2) Are not trying to pick a fight.
3) Enjoy sharing their experiences and what they accomplished. Who doesn’t?
4) Might be jealous or seriously curious/concerned.
5) Don’t know what they are saying or don’t fully understand the situation.

I realize that having a family and getting older provide opportunities for mostly well-meaning people to give unsolicited advice. And there are plenty of times that I need and appreciate and seek advice. But, this seems different. It’s like, seriously, I’m becoming Mother Hen.

Here’s an example. Jokingly, it’s been told to me that Wes is frequently sick. “Germy” was actually the word used. He’s a toddler. He’s around kids that touch each other and their faces often. It shouldn’t be, but this is a hot button for me. I guess it makes me feel like person(s) joking either thinks of me as an unprepared mother of bad hygiene, that it’s unfortunate Wes has to attend daycare where all the germs gather or that Wes himself is just a silly kid with poor immunity. Listen, folks. Mothers – and all women, really – have a bad habit of thinking themselves inadequate. Poking fun or offering advice sometimes rubs us the wrong way because it fuels the fire already burning.

I’ve been on the opposite side of the conversation, too. A few years ago, I bought an item off craigslist that happened to be listed by a former coworker. He had just adopted two beautiful children from the Democratic Republic of Congo – a boy and a girl of same age. When I went to the house to complete the sale, I got to meet the children, just a few months younger than Wes. I was so taken with them and asked all kinds of questions about the adoption process, including, “Are they brother and sister?” He respectfully responded, “They ARE brother and sister, yes.” Pause. It sank in. “No, they are not biologically from the same birth parents, but they are my children and therefore, siblings.” It stung. I instantly felt awful for being that person – uneducated and assuming. I apologized, and he was kind enough to understand my inquisitive nature.

I think that experience made me more aware of my conversations with people – new parents, those with a diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and other difficult subjects. It’s fine to be curious and interested in others’ lives, and I’m sure the party is happy to share information, but my point is to be aware of what you’re asking or commenting on. Phrase it in a way that makes it flatly honest and not disrespectful.

In the meantime, I will work on my hot buttons and how to keep my cool. :)

Posted: February 16th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Conversations with Wes: Lawn Mower

As I picked up Wes from school today, he started the following conversation as I was buckling him into his carseat. I really couldn’t keep up with his thoughts. He talked ALL THE WAY HOME. Twenty minutes. I still don’t understand what prompted it. Or what the heck he kept labeling lawn mowers as we drove by multiple houses.

Wes: (getting into car) Where’s the lawn mower, Mama?
Me: What?
W: Where’s the lawn mower go? I see lawn mower!
M: Wesley, I don’t think lawn mowers are out this time of year. See all the snow still on the ground? People don’t need to mow grass right now.
W: (pointing out the window as we’re driving) I see SNOW! There it is! There’s lawn mowers!
M: I don’t see a lawn mower. Where?
W: I see it! I see it! See it, Mama?
M: Where, buddy?
W: Oh. Okay, Mama. I try it.
M: Try what, sweetie? I don’t understand.
W: Mama, lawn mower? Where’s the lawn mower go?
M: Maybe the garage? I really don’t know.
W: Oh. (Pause.) I don’t like lawn mower.
M: You don’t?
W: I don’t like it. I see lawn mower! (points out window at no particular thing) There it is!
M: Wes, hey. Can you show me? I don’t see what you’re talking about.
W: I see lawn mower! Where’s the lawn mower go?
M: (Trying to figure this out.) Did you play with a lawn mower at school today?
W: Oh. Nooooo. Where’s lawn mower go?
M: Are you just being silly? Because I really don’t understand what you’re asking. Are you talking about your little blue lawn mower that blows bubbles?
W: Blue lawn mower! Red!
M: It’s in the garage at home, honey.
W: Oh. Okay, Mama. I try it. You try it, Mama?
M: Sure.
W: Blue lawn mower! Where’s the lawn mower?
M: (Defeated.) I guess you’ll have to ask Daddy at home.

What a weird kid. I love him to death.

Posted: January 14th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Dirty Boy Smell

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Snuggling with a not-so-happy Jake

One of my favorite new scents is the sweet, sticky smell of sweat and dried slobbery boy-just-woken-up. It’s a horrendously pleasant scent that I have come to associate with a whole new dimension of love.

As the new year begins, I’ve been able to inhale that scent many times. The last few weeks have been wonderful – staying home, lounging, snuggling – but these habits in between Christmases and traveling have made Wesley’s sleep patterns completely off-kilter. During these two weeks, some days he’ll nap 3 hours and be super cuddly the rest of the day. Inhale scent. Other days, he’ll fuss and scream and/or talk to himself for an hour in bed. Team no nap! 

This week, in particular, he’s had lots of trouble going to bed at night. Typically he’s exhausted after a full day of school, and he usually is ready for bed shortly after dinner and watching “Brian.” That’s Brian Williams. He loves that guy. And has been very disappointed that he is on vacation over the holidays. “Where’s Brian?!” Anyway. It’s been a week of restlessness and stalling and crying from the bedroom. He actually STAYED UP for New Year’s, which is crazy, and was up nearly that long last night until he finally fell asleep with me in our bed, post-Benadryl.

But, “since we’ve no place to go” (it’s snowing today), I really don’t mind that he’s wanting/needing extra attention so much. Oh, I know next week is going to be rough as we adjust back to normal routine, but I’ve enjoyed spending precious moments rocking and holding my little boy. He is too long for my lap, so we have to get creative these days. My favorite is squeezing in his little crib-sized toddler bed and whispering secrets to each other. Sometimes we recite whole verses of Jingle Bells in a hushed voice. I breathe in the scent of tired kid and it relaxes me enough to dose off right alongside that boy.

It’s been a great winter break. If nothing else, it’s shown me my New Year Resolution. I’m going to be an attentive mom for my son. I will listen and be available. Not that he will be spoiled, but he will know that he can confide in his parents as he continues to grow. It does me well, too. He helps me keep my head on straight. That pleasant dirty scent may not always appeal to me – especially once hormones change! – but right now, it’s delightful.

Posted: January 2nd, 2014
Categories: Leah
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2013 Year-End Update

ShattucksThis year has been one of our more change-heavy ones! Here’s a few updates from the last time we sent out a Christmas letter.

Steven joined Bloomerang as VP of Marketing in May. He educates not-for-profit organizations on how to use web and social media for donor retention, and I usually learn a thing or two when I read his published posts across the internet. He is also a bit of a local expert on social media and inbound marketing. We often get jests from family and friends that they see/hear more from Steven on TV and radio than in person! Steven is still involved with the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, Art Institute of Indianapolis and CICOA, and he continues to speak at various conferences and meetings all over the United States.

As of August, Leah is Communications Director for Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. I am responsible for media relations, marketing and promotions and overall communications for the statewide chapter. The Association provides complimentary services to families caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, as well as raises funds for Alzheimer’s research. This fall, one of my design pieces I completed for Joy’s House – the annual report & calendar – won a national award for creativity and design. For fun, I dyed my hair red to celebrate my 30th birthday in May and was featured in the Indianapolis Star with my childhood best friend for our unique ways to celebrate the new decade.

Wes, now 2, has recently exploded his vocabulary. He has been named “class clown” for his humorous antics and ability to lead his other classmates into silly phrases and actions. Despite his goofy side, Wes is very loving and enjoys giving hugs and now, kisses. He scolds the dogs just like Daddy and then nuzzles his face in Lucy’s fur (which then gives him hives). We’re still in diapers, but he’s showing more interest in bathroom procedures. His favorite foods are pizza, grapes, apple sauce and green beans. His favorite color is purple, or sometimes, yellow. Right now, he’s fascinated with the “Chri-muh tree” and points out every single “ai-pwane” in the sky.

Jake, the 8-year-old Italian Greyhound, is becoming a cranky old man. He loves to groom himself and stay warm under covers, and he makes it known when he doesn’t want to be bothered. He still has lots of affection and follows me around the house until I sit down long enough for him to hop in it. Lucy, the 4-year-old lab/pit sweetheart, doesn’t realize how big she is. She is wholly devoted to Jake, and she obeys his every word/move. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, though she looks out for her pack members. She and Jake are an odd pair, but they are the best snuggle buddies – especially in a patch of found sunlight.

As we get older, our world gets smaller and perhaps more boring. But, we’re happy and ready to see what 2014 brings! Thanks for being a part of our lives.

Posted: December 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Merry Christmas from The Shattucks

2013 Christmas Card

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For our annual year-end updates, click here.

We’re doing something a little different this year. The money typically spent on printing and mailing our Christmas cards is going directly to support my friend of nearly 20 years, Angie Mayle. She and her young family are moving in July to a small Madagascar island to serve as medical missionaries. To follow their journey, visit maylesinafrica.com.

Posted: December 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Thankful. (Still) Working on Contentedness.

This year is weird. So many twists and turns and never really knowing up from down. But since it’s Thanksgiving season, I wanted to take a moment to be still and reflect on our blessings. Because we do have a lot.

Around this time last year, I was not content. There were things I wanted to change about everything. I complained about the size of our house. I was overwhelmed at work. I didn’t feel connected to our church family. And I so badly wanted a better car. I’m sure I was a nightmare to live with. Poor Steven.

It wasn’t fun to live that way. This past spring, I prayed (not very hard, mind you), that I would learn to be content with my surroundings. I typically don’t like change, but it’s funny when you’re set on something new and different and it doesn’t phase you as “change.” Even though it wasn’t a very fervent prayer, I know God understood my heart and where I wanted to be. And this Thanksgiving, I can say, “it’s okay. I’m good.”

Our house isn’t big or glamorous, but it’s cozy. And I love that we are “forced” to spend every evening together in the same room as a family. Tough nickels, eh? Our neighbors are wonderful. And it’s a snap to clean since there isn’t much that gets dirty!

The most remarkable and difficult and out-of-nowhere change happened this summer. After 2012 passed and the dust settled, I became comfortable in my job again. I was happy, but things weren’t right. Just when I started to understand (and sob) that it was time to move on, my current position fell into my lap. It made so much sense that I’m still baffled today at the easy transition. Not that it was easy to leave; quite the contrary. But once the mourning period was over, I was able to spread my wings. My 4.5 years at Joy’s House taught me to fly.

Our church is small, and on a typical Sunday, we average 80 members in attendance. Most of those 80 people are older families or empty nesters. I have hoped for and desired a handful of people our age with young kids that share similarities with me and Steven to join our church so painfully much that it got in the way of the things that really mattered. I’m relearning how to love our congregation. Did you know that you CAN be friends with 50 and 60-year-olds? And heck, they have lots of living under their belts to give you straight answers and advice.

It seems silly now to write about a car. But, you know? You spend a lot of time in that thing, and when you don’t love your car, it can be a problem. I’ve never really had a car I loooooved like some people do, but I certainly had affection toward my first driving-machines. The car I currently drive – it’s not its fault that I don’t draw a big heart around its name – wasn’t my choice of vehicle when we bought it. I had higher hopes outside of our price range. It’s a fine car, really: gets great gas mileage, has a wonderful warranty and everything. But over the last few years, I decided I NEEDED a Subaru Outback. I spent hours researching used Subies for killer deals, and it became salt in the wound for all of us. Instead of learning to love my car, I’ve become detached. Now, it’s “just a car.” Who cares, really? It gets us safely from point A to point B, and all Wes cares about is firetrucks.

So, there. Just a few things that I can now call blessings. There’s still a lot to be done to be fully content; it’s a work in progress. Honestly, it doesn’t mean that I’m always happy and life is full of rainbows. But being content with who you are, where you live and what you’re doing – well, that’s peace I haven’t known before. It’s nice not to worry so much about every little thing. To hand over the reigns and walk down the path set before you.

And I know I’m getting sappier as I age, but I embrace it. I like that I can morph this Leah into a gentler, sympathetic, more loving person. Well, actually, I guess it’s the guy upstairs who’s doing the morphing… but I’ll follow.

Posted: November 20th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Today’s Special

VNHXJC2CUBGSRHCAs Wes is developing more likes and dislikes, it’s entertaining to see what he gravitates to. We don’t watch much TV as a family while Wes is awake, but we do allow a little PBS time while the adults are getting ready in the morning. Thomas & Friends is obviously a favorite because it’s full of talking trains. Now Thomas appears in conversations, along with his other favorites: tractors, clouds, busses, airplanes and firetrucks. He also like Martha Speaks, mainly because it directly follows Thomas on PBS.

This week I made the comment to Steven about how I used to get annoyed as a child that Thomas & Friends started taking over Brio train sets. And I started talking about how it all started with Shining Time Station, a PBS show that I didn’t really like to watch, but did anyway when I was home sick. It starred Ringo Star, who was a conductor the size of a ruler. He would tell the children of the small town train station, who were the only ones who could see Mr. Conductor, of course, stories of a fictional train. The show would then transition into the Thomas & Friends shorts.

Steven had no idea what I was talking about, as is typical. But the conversation got me all nostalgic about shows I enjoyed as a preschooler like Wes. With an older sister, I watched shows that might have been slightly above my age level, but I loved them all the same.

The Great Space Coaster theme song has been stuck in my head all week. I loved the giant elephant puppet in particular. A few shows were taped off Saturday morning TV, and I rewatched that VHS (complete with old commercials!) over and over again.

Zoobilee Zoo! I still catch myself humming this theme song. I had great admiration for Whazzat Kangaroo. She was beautiful – mostly because she resembled a pink ballerina. Apparently there are multiple full episodes on YouTube. Noted.

I remember wondering if all mannequins were like the guy in Today’s Special. What a cool idea for a show.

And then, remember Small Wonder? Truthfully, I don’t think this was a regular show in our “line up,” but the opening song and the shot of her robotic back amazed me as a child.

Equally as great as Small Wonder is Out of This World, which starred an alien who talked to a little girl through a prism. Of course, I can’t omit Punky Brewster or Alf, but I feel like everyone remembers those shows well.

I guess I had a thing for outer spacey, mystically magically great characters. Or, more likely, my sister did, and I just watched whatever she chose! These clips look so outdated, but it makes me feel happy and nostalgic. Knowing how excited Wes becomes over Thomas the Tank Engine, maybe he’ll be giddy over 30-year-old clips found down the road, too. I have a feeling Thomas will look the same in 2040.

Posted: November 7th, 2013
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