Posts in February 2014

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
Categories: Leah
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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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