This time of year I’m always emotional. I’ve previously complained about my birthday overlap with Mother’s Day and how the weekend is usually not something I’ve ever enjoyed much. But I think that’s done and past. The emotions don’t quite go completely away, but I’ve grown out of my bitterness.
The emotions begin on May 7, which is my late Grandpa’s birthday. May was special to him because he received a grandchild on his wedding anniversary (me!), which was just 3 days after his birthday. Grandma and Grandpa never hid their love for me. They were very verbal about it – especially Grandma. Most of my memories of them are warm and gentle.
But there’s a few memories of Grandpa in there that catch my breath and sting a little.
My memory of all the details is fuzzy because I was a kid, and honestly, the adults around me talked very little about health concerns (now, for which, I’m glad to have been spared some details). Grandma had beat breast cancer in the 70s, and then again later at some point when I was alive (again, fuzzy). When I was older – early teens – the lymph nodes in her arm began to swell and give her trouble with lymphedema, which was around the same time that I started to recognize behavior changes. Mainly confusion. She lost her nouns first. Then some verbs. I didn’t know much about dementia then, and I still don’t know if she had a proper diagnosis.
Before her symptoms were getting worse, Grandma and Grandpa moved across the Indiana border to live in Ohio, closer to my aunt so she could keep an eye on them. As Grandma progressed, they eventually moved from their condo into the house directly across the street from my aunt and uncle. It was sad to see Grandma lose pieces of her vocabulary, but I never felt awkward about it. She was still herself – warm, gentle, loving. Perhaps thankfully, she died of complications other than dementia, so I didn’t see her progress to the late-stages.
I’m not sure if Grandpa was starting to demonstrate behavior changes during this time or if it was after Grandma’s death, but life started to get confusing. Dad was always worried about them, and I’m sure he felt like he was further away in distance than actuality. My aunt became caregiver and helped make their lives comfortable.
I feel like Grandpa gave up after Grandma was gone. Perhaps it was the stress involved with caring for a spouse, or maybe it was some kind of dementia. He was never diagnosed, either, that I know – and certainly, he didn’t have the progression that Grandma did. But things changed, and I saw pieces of a different person emerge – and then isolate and withdraw. It was frightening, and I distanced myself away from him, not understanding what a disease can do to a wonderful, great and compassionate mind.
It’s only been in the last few years that I have “forgiven” Grandpa for doing things I didn’t approve of and becoming someone not-Grandpa. It came up in conversation today, and my mind was again flooded with angry thoughts from adolescence, but they are only memories of anger. I wish I would have known what I do now about neurological and degenerative diseases. It would have helped me properly say goodbye to my grandparents.
I miss them. I miss hearing, “Grandma loves you.” And the older I get, the more I see them in my looks and personality traits. Though neither one had Alzheimer’s disease as an official diagnosis, I am still honoring them each year I participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. When I lead volunteer orientations, I tell others that the Walk is a day of hope. So much distress surrounds Alzheimer’s and dementia, but this is one day that the nation can rally together in hope for a cure.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the disease eliminated from this world? Wes would never have to see anyone – let alone his grandparents – go through such a life-changing journey. This year, on Grandpa’s birthday, I understand, and I have hope.
Another check box marked off the list – first major asthma attack. Thankfully, it happened while already in the car on the way to the doctor, but it made it all the more frightening. How the heck do you comfort a terrified child while driving?!
It started this morning around 4 a.m. Wes woke up with typical asthma-like symptoms that we usually see when he’s fighting allergies or a cold. We did a neb treatment and both went back to bed. When he woke up again around 7:30, he was worse. I gave him some Zyrtek and tried another treatment, thinking that would hold him over until we arrived at my parents’ lakehouse, where we had planned to spend Good Friday with family for Easter fun.
He didn’t respond well to the treatment and complained, “breathing, breathing, Mama” while I was trying to get things packed and out the door. I told him to wait until I was finished showering and then we could figure out what to do to make him more comfortable. (My original thoughts were to just do another treatment, but I really don’t like to squeeze in more than one within a 2-hour period of time.) Honestly, I didn’t think he was nearly as bad as he was at that time. I figured he’d eventually clear up.
We got into the car, and I saw just how much his chest was heaving. He didn’t act much different, but I could tell he didn’t feel that great. I kept telling myself that we’d just do another treatment as soon as we got to the lake (about an hour’s drive), and he’d be ok. But after I backed out of the neighborhood and onto the road, I saw just how uncomfortable he was. He squirmed and grunted, and I knew it was getting bad, fast. I called Steven and my parents, told them I’d be calling the doctor based on his asthmatic symptoms and would give an update later. Next, I pull over, called the doctor, and told them he 1) hadn’t responded well to his treatment earlier and was now 2) starting to complain about it. They said they’d see me around 10, but I told them I was already in the car and could just go now. They agreed and said they’d fit us in.
I felt better already. At this point, it was just a precautionary “mom-thing.” I redirected to the pediatrician. Wes was starting to get really agitated in the backseat, and I turned around to say, “It’s alright, honey; we’re going to see the doctor to help you breathe.” In the next 30 seconds, my heart raced to unprecedented speeds. He wrinkled his face, started turning blue, choked and then vomited mucus all over himself and carseat. Wailing, shrieking and terror spread all over his face. He couldn’t catch his breath. “MAMA!” (Help.)
This all happened while I was driving. I said silent prayers to let us make it another 5 miles to the pediatrician’s office. I held on to the steering wheel with one hand and grabbed his sweaty palm in my other. I tried with all my might not to show the fear that was overtaking me. The thing that gave me hope was the fact that he was ABLE to wail – so therefore, he could at least breathe somewhat.
The wait in the ped’s office seemed like forever. Wes was terrified and couldn’t calm down; screaming, crying, flailing uncontrollably. The poor people around us probably thought he was demented or I was a horrible mother. Somehow managed to prepay our copay, wait for 10 minutes AND then take his weight before sitting in the patient room for another few minutes of inconsolable crying. The nurse (we love her), hurried through the oxygen level-taking process and quickly got the neb treatment going.
Almost instantly, Wes calmed down. It’s like he finally believed me that I was trying to help him. For the previous 45 minutes, he used up all his strength to not only breathe, but also to demonstrate his very real fright. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths from the nebulizer mask. Still short, choppy breaths, but as deep as he could manage. Fell asleep.
It’s at this moment that I thought of Mary, mother of Jesus, on Good Friday. Surely she felt the same hopelessness when she watched her son suffer on the cross at Calvary. She couldn’t open up his lungs, patch his wounds or dry his tears. Surely her heart broke into a million pieces as she heard him cry out and sigh. But unlike Mary, I was able to hold and comfort my son. I was able to see improvement. I nearly lost it in that patient’s room, but I knew he would be okay. We were surrounded by people who would help my son.
What a horrible, tragic day Good Friday is. Our world lost a Savior, a Promised One. Thankfully, we know it’s not the end of the story, but the folks in that present time did not know or expect the glorious rising to come a few days later. This morning, my heart ached not only for Wesley, but for Mary, too, as she mourned the worldly death of her son Jesus.
During one of the neb treatments, Wes opened his eyes, looked right into mine, and said, “That was scary, Mama.” “Oh, I know, honey. I was scared, too, but you’re okay now. You’re getting better.” “Yeah. Thank you, Mama.” Eyes closed again. He relaxed.
Four rounds of neb treatments later, Wes’ pediatrician finally released us. It took over an hour to get him stabilized, and we now have an actual diagnosis of asthma to deal with. More steroids, too. We’ve already gotten lots of use out of our home nebulizer, but it’s now going to be a daily staple and part of our morning routine.
We did go to the lakehouse afterwards, which is another blog post for another time, and ended up completing a similar set of back-to-back neb treatments there before coming home, and did it yet again before bedtime. He’s still wheezing and not fully inhaling, but we’re getting somewhere. The poor kid. He’s handling it like a Champ, and I know his body is working hard to do something we all take for granted. I’m a proud mother, and I’m a thankful mother. He’s going to be alright.
Posted: April 18th, 2014
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Usually when Wes wakes up, we have a few minutes of snuggling and giggling. This morning, he was especially smiley.
After a round of tickling
Wes: Mama, I’m happy.
Me: I’m so glad you’re happy. It makes me happy, too!
Immediately launched into “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
As part of our nightly bedtime routine, Wes picked out a few books to read. One of the books was a favorite, The Snowy Day, aka “Peter Book.” For the first time audibly, Wes pointed out racial difference, and he was so chill about it.
Wes: (pointing to Peter, who is black) Mama, remember Porter? Stella?
Me: Yes, that’s right. Porter and Stella are classmates that have brown skin like Peter does.
Wes: (smiling) Yeah, Mama.
Me: It’s like in the song, Jesus loves the little children – no matter what our skin or hair or eyes look like.
Wes: (nodding) Yeah!
Immediately launched into “Jesus Loves the Little Children”
Posted: April 15th, 2014
Tags: toddler conversations
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I’ll just put it out there that not everything is sunshine and rainbows within the Shattuck household. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t picture Wes crying or being upset, and while that may make me smile and stand up a little straighter, it’s certainly not reality.
Unlike much of my family of teaching and medical professions, I’m not an early childhood educator, so pretty much everything I encounter as a parent is a brand new learned experience or skill. I don’t know what to expect from 2.5-year-olds. And I don’t understand the “why” aspect, either. I do know that many parents say toddler years are tough. It took us a minute, but we’re certainly there. I feel like we’ve hit a fairly rocky patch of gravel, and we may have a rough journey through the next few weeks/months/years.
I’ve always seen a clever, ornery personality in Wes, and now that he’s very verbal and interactive, it’s beginning to be a little problem. Tonight, I confided in my mom that every other word out of my mouth is “no” or “don’t.” The tone of my voice is nearly always firm, and I have to watch my temper. Sometimes I feel like I have to justify and explain myself to Wes, and it looks apologetic. Discipline is like these giant potholes in the middle of my path that really slow me down – I get exhausted after a full day.
But you know what? Mom hit it home. She reminded me that the job of a parent is not to be a “friend.” It’s to be a parent. There are times when you know that you love your child, and they might not THINK you do and perhaps they may not FEEL like they love you BACK, but a parent needs to stay strong in knowing that they are doing the right thing.
I can see myself struggling during rough, adolescent years – wanting to be liked as a parent, but understanding that it’s not a popularity contest. The “cool” parents are actually the ones who have limits, expectations and discipline established, but I bet they’re very tired indeed.
Three is just around the corner. I better strap myself in and get ready for those potholes. I know it’s all worth it, I really do. But gosh, it’s difficult.
Posted: April 9th, 2014
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As I was cleaning the bookshelves last week, I stumbled across a book that I bought when we were first married. It’s a motivational 90-day program to instill better habits in your diet, daily exercise and devotions/meditation. In 2008, I never got past Day 2. I’ve been haunted by it for years, thinking myself either a failure or silly to try something I couldn’t keep up with for even a week.
I decided to give it another try. Honestly, it’s not that hard. The main principles are to incorporate daily vitamins and supplements (easy), eat as many veggies as you can consume in a day (somewhat difficult, if not just annoying), memorize passages of scripture (easy), drink more water (kinda difficult for me, actually) and perform daily, low-impact exercise: trampoline bouncing and brisk walking (moderately hard, just because I have to SET ASIDE the TIME).
A week in, I feel pretty confident. I’m not reading the book as much as I should, and I certainly could be doing more in the ways of prayer and meditation, but I’m getting the hang of rising earlier to bounce for a few minutes, drinking a hot cup of lemon water and being more mindful of what I intake. The weather has been fairly nice this past week, so we’ve been able to go on family walks, which is good for the soul as much as the body. It feels GOOD to be outside – especially spending it with Little Guy.
The goal isn’t really to lose weight (though I could probably stand to shed up to 10 lbs); it’s to feel better in general. We spend the majority of evenings lounging – why not take a few of those minutes and do something health-beneficial? Easier said than done, I realize, but so far, so good. I’m getting anxious about the three different fasts as part of this Challenge, but I’m ready. I dusted off and replaced the battery in my bathroom scale. I haven’t used it in forever, and it’s time I actually cared about weight fluctuation and daily eating habits.
Confession: As I’m writing this, I’m eating a handful of frosted animal crackers. And I had 3 Tootsie Rolls before that.
I guess the other reason I decided to tackle it on a whim (seriously, I made the decision to conduct Challenge the night before Day 1) is because Wesley is in the middle of his own 90-day challenge through potty training. He’s had a rough week with it, and I’m finding myself become relaxed and lenient with his training habits. If we’re going to succeed, we need to be consistent.
So hey, maybe come July I’ll feel physically, mentally and spiritually renewed, and Wes will be a pro at toilet-using. Fingers crossed.
Posted: April 7th, 2014
, potty training
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Wes: “Dear God, thank you for today. Jesus-name, Amen.”
About ten minutes passes.
Wes: “Let’s prway again. Dear God, thank you for today, Mama-Daddy, Jake, Wucy, ummmmmmmm, milk, ummmmmmm, watching TV, ummmmmmm, salwad (salad) and teef (teeth). Jesus-name, Amen.”
And if it couldn’t get any cuter, he promptly launched into an energetic version of Jesus Loves Me.
Jesus wuvs me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Wittle wons (unintelligible) bewong
They mar cweep, but He is swong
Yes, Jesus wuvs me
‘Bible tells me so
Posted: March 29th, 2014
Tags: toddler conversations
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Who knew that potty training could take up so much time and energy and strength? I guess potty training books say so, but, I mean, seriously, it’s been the center of our universe for the last 5 days, and I don’t see a finish line yet. I’m exhausted, Wes is exhausted and the dogs are pooped (haha). Steven’s been out of town for the duration of Boot Camp, and he’s due back tomorrow night. I’m so ready to go back to “normal,” and somehow the thought of his return gives me hope that there’s an end in sight. I have to remind myself that I’m a first-time parent. Every new milestone seems daunting and difficult. But even in the worst of the worst, a little tiny beam of hope and love shines through, and suddenly it’s another lesson learned.
The good news: Wes can tell me when he has to go. He can feel the “urge,” and he’s gotten to the point of telling me nearly every time. The candy incentive does miraculous work, and we may spend 30 minutes in the bathroom waiting on the potty chair just because he gets upset for not getting a Tootsie Roll.
We’ve had more successes than accidents, so I feel like we’re making wonderful strides in the right direction.
This morning Wes and I were both extremely surprised to discover a completely DRY pair of pull-ups (actually, we prefer Pampers Easy-Ups over Pull-Ups) from the night before – AND – the fact that Wes TOLD me he had to go potty, and then emptied his entire bladder in the potty chair. I swelled with pride for my guy, and we exchanged a great series of high fives, knucks and hoorays.
The bad news: I’m not very good at this, yet. I didn’t anticipate all the extra distractions from a typical weekend and how they mess up a training child. I also didn’t anticipate an allergic and asthmatic flare-up the night before Potty Party Day, which caused none of us to sleep well. It made for an anticlimactic, lethargic start, and I almost almost gave up entirely. But after an early morning nap, we still got a few successful attempts into the day, which made the weekend much less stressful.
Except. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be out of the house, away from the familiar bathroom. We didn’t end up going to the birthday party we said we would, and I still feel guilty about it. But it would have been a complete mess, literally. And then I realized too late that to be at church at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, I should have built in an extra 30 minutes for potty attempts before leaving the house.
Wes got so upset with me for not taking him to the bathroom right away. He told me he had to go as we were putting on our coats. I honestly didn’t believe him, but we took off our coats and went to the bathroom anyway. He sat for almost 20 minutes, and I declared, “it’s time to leave for church.” He cried as we put his pants back on (I put him in pull-ups while we’re out and about, but fabric training pants at home), and he reallllly wanted a piece of candy. As we were heading out the door, Wes said, “DIEGO IS WET. DIEGO IS WEEEEET!” He was crying. See, Diego is the boy character on Dora the Explorer and because Huggies got to Disney first for their characters on Pull-Ups, Pampers had to live with second-class Diego on their Easy-Ups. To persuade Wes NOT to be comfortable peeing in pull-ups/easy-ups like a diaper, I told him that Diego doesn’t want to get wet. Well, Wes pretty much blamed me for this accident because I didn’t give him enough time on the potty chair.
We also went out to eat to celebrate my niece’s birthday. By that point, I was ready to take a day off from potty training since we had gone most the day outside of the house, not close to a bathroom, and not in training pants. On the plus side, we did get a few potty successes that evening, and again the next evening – even after a full day at school in pull-ups/easy-ups (which I figured would take us two steps behind).
Who wouldn’t enjoy a drink and a movie in the bathroom?
The nasty: Accidents happen, I know. And I expect them. And I also realize this is not an overnight BOOM done type-of-thing. But I guess I didn’t know how gross potty training is/can be. I don’t need to go into details, but I do need to point out that “nasty” can refer to my reaction to accidents, and sometimes, like tonight, I need to take a deep breath and move on.
Because of his brief successful history and especially the dry dipe this morning, I figured he would do well again this evening. We spent 30 minutes in the bathroom after dinner, and nope, nothing. No big deal, we’ll just try again later. I put “undies” (training pants) on him, and for the next HOUR, nothing. Dry. Amazing. He didn’t nap at school today, and I could tell he was getting tired and grumpy, but we decided to snuggle up and watch part of a movie before bedtime anyway. I turned off the TV – perhaps too abruptly – post typical bedtime and about 25 minutes until the “exciting conclusion,” and Wes blew a gasket. When he scream-cries, he needs to be left alone for a few minutes to regain his composure. Nothing I do or say will comfort him, so I left to take the dogs outside for a minute. Of course, while I was gone, he cried hard enough to pee all over the couch.
My “nasty” mood came out because I was irritated at myself for not catching it sooner. After I stripped him down, still exhausted and crying, I tore apart the room and started a load of laundry while he stood there, sobbing. Poor kid. In retrospect, it probably was the ultimate humiliation. I was able to calm down enough to hold and comfort him, but he couldn’t be soothed. He was so tired that he couldn’t catch up with himself. Even after our calming bedtime routine with songs and prayers, he was visibly upset.
Not knowing what else to do, I picked up my giant 35? lb boy and held him like the baby I miss holding in my arms. We rocked and rocked and he fell asleep next to my heart. We’re learning together. Even though it’s exhausting, potty training has mostly good moments, and some of them in particular, I’ll treasure for years to come.
Posted: March 25th, 2014
Tags: potty party
, potty training
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My favorite time of day is pre-bedtime. This is after dinner is cleaned up and the dogs have empty bladders and we all hunker down to see what Brian Williams has to report. I feel like Steven and I do at least one good thing well together – leaving work behind while we’re together as a family. Granted, there are times where we both must do something here or there after hours or click-clack on the computer for a little while, but generally we try to wait until Little Guy is in bed.
Because it’s been so darn cold this winter, we have mostly hibernated in our 3rd bedroom-turned family room, or as Wes calls it, “the TV Room.” We’ll play Trains for a while, then color, all while listening to NBC Nightly News. Then Steven turns it to PBS’ Nightly Business Report (which I can’t stand), so Wes and I will get the bathtub ready. This consists of proper drain-stopping (since our tub is ooooold and the drain stopper thing is broken) by stuffing a washcloth down the drain, pouring in the bubble bath gel stuff and swishing the water around to get a good supply of bubbles and then dumping in all the bath toys while the water fills up.
Wes used to hate HATE taking baths. I had to hose him down with a damp sponge while he stood in the bathtub. He refused to sit down in the water and cried forever about it. Thankfully we turned a corner somewhere in the last few months. Now he asks to take a bubble bath, and it’s one of his favorite things to do.
Once he’s dried off and into clean pj’s, we head back to the TV Room for Jeopardy! He really doesn’t enjoy watching the show, but he certainly loves the music and sound effects. Somewhere between Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy, Wes gives Steven a goodnight hug and heads to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Afterwards, he picks out a story (“‘dory”) or two, and we both crawl into his tiny toddler bed for snuggles and reading.
WES’ FAVORITE BOOKS
Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (“Truck Book”), Sherri Duskey
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
Popcorn (or “And Ate and Ate”), Frank Asch
The Snowy Day (“Peter Book”), Ezra Jack Keats
Following the books, which on rare occasions he likes to mix it up and read something other than the above list, we launch into a few songs. Usually this takes longer than the book reading does, but it’s likely my absolute favorite part of the day. I don’t mind singing 10 songs with his little off-key, breathy toddler voice.
WES’ FAVORITE SONGS
Old McDonald Had a Band (he refers to the Raffi rendition, but we sing “Farm” at home because who can really mimick a guitar and fiddle?)
Jesus Loves the Little Children
The Wheels on the Bus
No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (not really a song, but he mumbles this all day long)
Jesus Loves Me
My God is So Big
I Just Caught A Baby Bumblebee
We also sing some of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (new PBS cartoon. The Make Believe puppet characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood have grown up and now have their own preschool-aged children.) songs and usually make up silly words to additional verses. I’m so pleased that Wes enjoys books and songs. He really is from my own blood. It makes me even happier that he considers this time to be “Mama Time.” It’s truly a special bonding experience every evening.
By the time we’re finished singing, he’s turned over on his side and ready to drift off to sleep. We say a goodnight prayer, thanking God for all his blessings and for our health. Out of habit from my own childhood prayers, we ask that God keep away bad dreams to wake us at night.
The projector comes on with a rotating light display of fish, moon & stars or monkeys & birds, and he’ll tell me if he wants a new scene. The sound machine is turned on with soft white noise, and the lights are turned off. As I’m nearing the doorway, Wes sometimes will start singing Daniel Tiger’s song, softly:
I like you
I like you
I like you
Just the way you are
“I love you, honey. Goodnight.”
“See you at breakfast!”
Posted: March 11th, 2014
, book list
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The other day, a coworker asked me what Steven and I did for fun. At first I got slightly embarrassed because I thought my answer would be boring. We’re boring. We usually stay in and lounge and play with our two-year-old.
Prior to Wesley’s existence, we used to host get-togethers and YouTube Parties and went to other peoples’ houses and were invited to things and checked out concerts and didn’t miss any First Fridays. We probably weren’t trend setters, but we were hip. Or, hip-like. We were fun people.
Now that Wes is getting more independent and older, we’re able to do more public things – especially in the evenings and on weekends. Last night, we had the opportunity to attend the re-opening of one of our favorite local stores. While its roots are right here in Irvington, the shop outgrew its space and headed on over to downtown. Wes was super excited to “go shoppin'” and listen to live music, sample local snacks and see familiar people. He got a little overwhelmed with the large crowd forming in a tiny space, so we made our appearances and moved on.
Leaving Homespun, we dipped into one of my fav locations in all of Indy, a not-for-profit second-hand bookstore. Wes loves Indy Reads, and we’ve spent hours perusing the shelves for treasures to take home. The children’s area had all the books organized by color (it varies every time we’re there), which made it all the more appealing. We had to work around a public meeting right smack in the middle of the store, however, so we just snagged a few of the new hardcovers to quietly read out loud in a comfy chair on the opposite side. Later, I searched for a new paperback for myself, and Wes pretended to do the same among the shelves. He’s adorable, and I love that he loves books. It wasn’t very late, but we decided to call it a night before we entered publicly-tired-terror mode.
On the way home, Wes asked for “Dede,” his lovie/blanket, and I knew it was the right decision to leave. We had a shortened bedtime routine this evening, skipping right to the brushing of teeth and jammies. He picked Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, and we read a couple poems before a nighttime prayer. Immediately following, we jumped right into singing The Wheels on the Bus, making up goofy verses and giggling about our creativity. Daddy even poked his head into the doorway long enough to allow us the chance to entice him into singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with us before goodnight kisses and lights out. Our bedtime routine is pretty terrific. It’s worthy of its own post someday.
It was 8 p.m. We had already had a wonderfully fun and full evening as a family, and now Steven and I could end the work week together. We piled on the blankets and watched The Conversation via Netflix.
Perfect family date night.
Posted: March 8th, 2014
Tags: family date
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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
Tags: potty training
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