Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training.

We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and now every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty.
As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!)

18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a waste. He wanted to sit on the big potty. The seat gathers dust in the linen closet.

19-20 months: Jackson would inform me of the status of his diapers. He would also use the potty when the mood struck him. Progress.

21 months: I will never forget it. We were at the mall getting Eric's birthday present ordered. He was playing on the train. He started to retreat into a partially hidden part of the playground area - maybe for some private time? I caught his attention with an excited: "Want to go use the potty?" I asked. "The MALL potty!?" This mall concept appealed to him greatly and we dashed down the walk way. At once, I realized I had no idea where the almighty "Mall Potty" was. I just kept running, with a gleeful toddler ready to see his first Mall Potty trying to keep up at my side. When I finally located it, I was thrilled to see they had a family-friendly bathroom. You will come to worship these family facilities when you have a kid. At the end of it all, the Mall Potty event was a huge success and really the beginning of the boy’s lengthy potty career.

After the Great Mall Potty 2009 incident, we decide to get him a potty seat that fits onto a regular toilet. It was a big hit. He loved it.

I found that selection is limited everywhere but we located the perfect size at Babies-R-Us. It was the only place that had any variety and by variety I mean a pink Dora one and a green Winnie the Pooh one. I went with Winnie. Also, I immediately tossed the "pee-shield." While it may be needed, it is too difficult for a child to maneuver around that thing. Discard.
I also made sure to get one with pads on the bottom to protect the toilet seat from scraping, handles on the side to help him with balance, and that also separated into parts for easy washing. These are features I highly recommend.

We began the weekend after Labor Day. We had several lengthy conversations about it and one-week prior we regularly started reading an Elmo potty book. The book's sounds effects are hilarious.

Right after he came home from school on Friday we explained the system. We set up a potty chart with star stickers. We went through several outfits and did not leave the house. We choose a good weekend that was warm enough for him to run around in with just shorts on. We also found a few cute videos on youtube that showed him other kids training and Elmo's Potty Time song was a helpful tune.
Come Monday morning he headed to school with his Elmo underpants on.
Like a potty-training rock star.

His teachers were ready to assist. They set up a chart at school and took potty breaks every thirty minutes. Rumor has it, he bragged about his new fancy pants to fellow classmates and even their parents. Wouldn't you?

Sure, there are occasional accidents, and now the kid bargains for M&Ms as well as stickers, (he is very convincing!) but I am so proud of Jackson and his willingness to learn. Several times a week I even catch him using it all by himself. Once Eric and I did a lengthy dance in the hallway, when we discovered him. I think he was appreciative of the entertainment.

He's also a pro at the public restroom scene. We're free again. We are using pull-ups when he goes to bed and during the 5 hour road trip to visit grandparents. He does tell us in the car when he’s got to make a stop and we have become very familiar with all of the sketchy gas-station bathrooms along the regularly-travelled route. But we’re happy to do it. Sure we rub Purel all over his body afterwards, but we’re still happy to have yet another successful potty moment. Even if it adds 7 more hours to the trip and is in a creepy Ozark outhouse.

The best part was when I dared to get rid of the diapers.* At first, I was superstitious that the moment I cleared them out of the changing-table drawer, he would decide he would never use the potty again. So I waited.
Eventually, I had to make the move. I was so thrilled to be done with them, I was deliriously handing out diapers to random children on the street.
I may still hand them out to trick-or-treaters next week.
Their mothers will understand.

*I secretly still have four. I told you I was superstitious. I’ll probably keep them until he’s moved out of the house … just in case.

Paw-Paw's World

After fighting down a fever for two days and seemingly feeling back to normal, Jack headed to school Monday with what appeared to be good health…
…only to be "carded" by 9 a.m.
The giant, orange card screams from the front of our fridge that he can't return until later in the week.
It seemed he'd had a few episodes of a … shall we say ... unattractive "symptom."
With no family nearby, we are the parents that have to battle the PTO nightmare with our jobs.
Who takes this shift? Who has the least hectic day? Who has PTO to spare?
Eric was ready for an afternoon shift but the kid had to head home, asap. Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days so our schedules wreak havoc.
Much like the havoc that was happening in Jack's tummy.
I race to collect the boy, who’s happy demeanor belied his turbulent belly. Winning personality or not, fact was - he'd been kicked out.
Once home, I start to whip up elements of the classic B.R.A.T. diet and Eric has called to say he's on his way home to relieve me within the hour.
We tag team through a long lunch hour and have started to call in the ranks.
The Grand Ranks.
Like referencing a submarine’s radar, I scan my mental screen locating the whereabouts of each grandparent. Who is closest? Who is travelling? Who is working?
Think. Think. Think.
Activate The Nonnie.
She's stuck at work with an upcoming field trip and minimal substitutes available.
Move to Plan B.
Or rather Plan P.
Rumor had it he'd just finished a week-long shift and was off for the next few days. Eric woke him with an urgent phone call and as if by magic I could actually hear the Harley roaring to life as it headed down the turnpike toward T-town.
Thundering through turnpike tolls, Paw-Paw was on his way to rescue us.
Within a few hours, Eric and I were back at work and Jackson was thrilled to have Paw-Paw all to himself.
The two have been cloud-gazing, pepper-picking and potty training all day. Paw-Paw has even been teaching Jack the lyrics to his personal jingle: "Paw-Paw's World."
I'm not sure when Jack's ailments will vanish, or if the single "Paw-Paw's World" will be a top-ten hit, but I do know everyone in our house is thrilled that there's a steel steed resting in our garage and a Paw-Paw playing in the backyard.
... Eric may be most excited about the Harley part ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Every night, when putting Jackson to bed we say a little good-night prayer.
And every night I end it with a quiet, "Amen."
And every night he always asks, "Where Amen go?"
And every night I say "Amen is the word I use to close a prayer."
And every night he softly replies, "oh."
Every night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did I mention....

... my 15-year-old-self got her work published?
She would freak if she knew her musical genius would one day be out there for all the world to see.
But I'm in charge now, so she can deal.

Here is an article about the book:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Read

Just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Thick with emotion, each page is littered with some of the most delicate descriptions. Once you've digested some of his unusual phrases, poetry and graphs, you realize that is exactly what that particular emotion looks like. I highly recommend it.
What are you reading?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Car Ride Conversations

During the two-hour drive to visit family ...

Amanda: It's hard to explain, but when my boyfriend and I broke up, at the time it was one of the worst things that had ever happen to me. Every time I woke up, for a few seconds each morning I had forgotten it had happened. And then after a few minutes, I would remember everything that had happened and I would be so sad all over again. You know what I mean?

Eric: Yes. Like how I feel about Patrick Swayze right now.


Eric: Come here, Jack. Let me wipe your nose buddy.

Jackson: Kay.

Eric: Whoa. I don't think that's ... I'm not sure what that is. Wait a minute. Is that? ... I don't ...

Amanda: What? What is it? What's wrong?

Eric: Yeah, that's not snot. That's got some cinnamon and icing in it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


We attended a PTA meeting last night and I overheard Eric and another mother, Roxanne, discussing the differences between Dora and Diego.
Since Jack doesn't want TV much at all we are not caught up on the details of the characters. However, I had noticed Diego is skateboarding on the front of Jackson's pull-ups.
So, naturally we had some questions.

Eric: Dora has her own show right?

Roxanne: Yes.

Eric: So, Diego is like a spin off of Dora?

Roxanne: Right.

Eric: (pauses to digest this news) So ... he's like the Frasier of Cheers?

Roxanne: (doesn't miss a beat) Exactly.


One of the great things about attending a fairly small, private daycare is that everyone knows you. The children, the other parents, the teachers, the directors, even the cook.
So everyone is cheering you on as you learn to use the potty. That means teachers stop you in the hallway to congratulate you and your new Elmo underwear.
Everyone has heard the news.
You are a potty training rock star.
(it helps to feed the Leo)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Love

Before heading to school we take a bathroom break.
Before heading anywhere we take a bathroom break.
In fact, we take potty breaks every 30 seconds these days.
We've been potty training for nearly a full week, and apparently Jackson is slowly learning to love the potty.
This morning he strolled into the bathroom and greeted it.
"Good morning, potty," he said.
He held out his arms and leaned in.
"Hug, potty?"

I couldn't help but think to myself ... oh, honey ... you'll be hugging that thing a lot during your freshmen year.

Bad Batch

In the car on the way home...

Me: Did you have a good day today, Jackson?

Jackson: Yes.

Me: What did you do today?

Jackson: I played in the alligator room.

Me: What did you play?

Jackson: Kitchen. I cooked.

Me: Oh, what did you make?

Jackson: Soup.

Me: Really? What kind of soup?

Jackson: Uh ... sauce soup.

Me: Oh, sauce soup. I love sauce soup. It's delicious.

Jackson. No. It was yucky. I don't like it.

... a good chef recognizes his mistakes. He knows when the batch of sauce soup just isn't up to par.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taught by Tomato

Our vegetable/herb garden not only produces lovely green peppers, basil, parsley and several varieties of tomatoes but it has taught Jackson how to care and nurture something.
He helps weed and water on a weekly basis.
It has taught him his colors as he waits for the tomatoes on the vine to ripen.
He tries to be patient while he stares at the in between tomatoes resting on the window sill. He checks every day, if not several times a day, to see if they have turned a bit more red.
It teaches him how to be gentle as he places each tomato into his basket to carry back into the kitchen. Even tiny leaves of basil are sometimes carried directly to the kitchen counter with great reverence.
But to learn that the results of his hard work are so tasty in his spaghetti dinner may be the biggest pay off.
Caring for a growing garden - a classic learning tool.
I highly recommend it.
What did you grow this year?

So Far So Good

Eric retrieved Jackson from his crib this morning and plopped him in between us at about 8 a.m. Within a few minutes, Jackson's arms were tightly woven around my neck and his face was smushed against my forehead.
He kept squirming for a comfortable spot while mumbling "Here we go, mama ... here we go ... here we go ... " repeatedly until he found it.
Eventually after the twirling tornado of toddler had settled, his face was in my face, a pacifier was lodged in my eye and I could barely breathe.
He dislodged one arm from my neck, patted my back and asked, "How was your day, mama?"

Before suffocating, I managed, "Well, it's only been about 15 minutes long, but so far it's been great."


Jackson: I tickle daddy?

Eric: Oh no! (he laughs as Jack's fingers scrunch around his neck)

Jackson: I tickle mama?

Amanda: Oh no! (she also laughs appropriately)

Jackson: I tickle me?

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sometimes I feel really low thinking how he won't get a chance to know her.
But then I see his grin.
His dimple.
And I think ... oh, there she is!
She's right there.
In nearly every smile.

(kind of catches the dimple. a little.)

photo courtesy of sylvia (free to go) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/50981739@N00/1546630417/in/set-72157600108070755/)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Family Trees

I am an only child.
My mother is an only child.
My father has one sister. She only has one child.
I only have one first cousin.
All this math to point out I have a small, tight-knit family tree. Maybe even just a shrub.
Eric however comes from a forest of family.
Every year, the limbs from his family gather at Petit Jean state park for a Labor Day family reunion. The park and its lodgings are taken over by the family. They come from all across the globe. It is like nothing else I have ever experienced. And this is just his mother's side of the tree. (He has an entire Yellowstone Park full of family trees on his father's side as well.)
The first time I attended this particular reunion as a mere girlfriend, I was overwhelmed. Not only were there tons of family members but the majority of them all look alike. Meaning Eric's dark hair and set of teeth were staring at me from every cabin.
I am still not totally used to the event but have found my reunion-comfort-zone.
And of course, now that we have added to the family forest with Jackson, each reunion becomes more fun as he learns about this side of his family.
This year was even more eventful for him as he is constantly more aware of his surroundings and is so busy worshipping his cousins.
He was thrilled to dance with Davis, chase cousins, discover cicadas, hike down to the falls, entertain the tiny babies, relish popsicles, wear out the playground, sample homemade ice cream, play paw-paw's guitar, snuggle with relatives and eat his fill in smiley face cookies.
After nearly three days of "reunioning," Jack was tired out.
We decided to pull a classic parenting move and drive home at night so he could sleep the majority of the five-hour trip. After a bath, and after he gave many sweet good-byes, he climbed into his car seat already in his pjs. As we began the trek down the mountain, a light rain started.
It was pitch black.
Eric and I softly chatted about the holiday event, kept noticing deer on the side of the road and had our book on tape ready for the late-night road trip.
We were all very tired. Ready to unpack, start the laundry, snuggle the dog and catch up before the work week began.
Back to the grind.
After about thirty minutes on the road I hear, "Mama?" from the darkness of the back seat.
"Yes?" I say turning around but still unable to actually see his sleepy face.
"What's next, mama?"

It seems our sleepy cruise ship director is ready for more.

For a photo recap check out this link and scroll down a bit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/sets/953110/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Turn Up the Heat

Now that we have a outdoor sound system, it's fun to lounge on the deck and listen to my fave summer songs. The following are a few tunes/albums I crank up when throwing open the sun roof and soaking in a summer daze.

What are your favorite summer tunes to crank up in the heat?

blister in the sun by Violent Femmes

I think the title really explains my reasoning

Live by Ani Difranco

Well, the heat is so great. Turns water to sky.

Outkast by Andre 3000

Just plain fun.