Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Potty Post

Warning: Don't read this post unless you enjoy stories about toddler bathroom trials and antics. Poop is gross - but it's also funny sometimes.

I guess I never did that potty-learning update that I promised back in... oh... January I see it was. I guess I was waiting until we were really REALLY done with accidents. They are pretty rare now, but I can now see more clearly that like everything else, this is going to take longer and be more effort than I had initially expected. Not that things are going badly. Not at all. Sweet Pea has maybe one accident a week right now. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I'd say we're 95% there. She likes her underwear, loves picking them herself and even putting the clean ones away in her drawer. She wore diapers again for 4 days in July while recovering from the flu, then seamlessly transitioned back to "undies" with almost no prompting from us.

Here's the dirt, though: learning to poop on the potty took a LONG time. Like, months. I wasn't sure what to do about it. The problem may have been that during that "three-day method" time, when she was supposed to be learning how to do all her business on the potty, she didn't poop once. She normally goes once a day, or every other day, so this wasn't too extreme. Through all the soiled underwear, we never went back to diapers, and it never really felt more difficult than diapers either since we could just change undies and plop the poo in the toilet (the poop part wasn't too hard, that is - changing wet sheets is a pain). I still used a wetbag-lined garbage can for her laundry basket so that aspect wasn't a worry either. But still, I started questioning myself and my choice of method. How successful was it really if one form of waste only went directly into the toilet every fourth, fifth, or eighth time?

She has eventually gotten it, but the change has been gradual, not sudden as I wished it would be. One week she would use the potty for number two two days out of seven, the next week it might be four or five days. There were regressions and leaps in progress due to changes in routine, or for no apparent reason at all. We despaired, we were joyful. Through it all, we stayed mostly positive, and I'm pretty sure she's not traumatized by the experience. Even still, seven months into potty-learning, we have to remind her to go (when she's dancing around or pulling at her clothes) about half the time, which I did not expect. And sometimes she resists, which I did not expect. I might have to cajole or talk her through the reasons it's important to go, several times per day, or reward her with gum or a chocolate chip, or delay something else she wants because she is just too darn busy. This play food needs to be cooked now! There are leaves that need to be picked up on the way to the restroom! Or, a new one today: "I want to braid the tree's hair!" (tree hair = pine needles).

After she said she had to go while we were out on a long bike-ride with no nearby bathrooms, I started encouraging her to pee or poo in the grass occasionally, and she really latched on to that idea. There was more progress with self-recognition of the need to go poo, and she seemed happier to go. This led to some interesting circumstances and things I hope my neighbors didn't see in the front yard. I have also had to revise my explanations several times to help her to realize it's better to go in a potty if there is one handy, and if there's not, by a tree might be better, or at least not in the middle of a high-traffic play area, even if yes, it is grass. Although, I'm sure plenty of dogs pee and or poop on the grass our children are playing on.

Our most recent potty adventure happened during our camping trip last weekend. I knew that she had to poo while we were playing in the shallows of the river. We had already "tried" once or twice that day with no success. Suddenly, she ran to the grass on the riverbank and said she had to go. I rushed to pull down her bathing suit and hold her hovered over the more sandy section that looked easier to clean up. She went and went and went. I tried to keep her standing still off to one side while my mom went to get clean-up materials. We chatted about rocks, then my mom returned. Sweet Pea looked down at her creation, and exclaimed, "I did a number five!" We laughed a little, thinking she was just making a statement about how much there was, then I noticed that the poop itself was in the shape of a number five. Apparently we have a poop artist! I thought that the number might have just been a coincidence until the other night when she pointed out her "number one" shaped poop in our home potty. Great - she recognizes numbers! Weird - she's applying them to her poops! But best of all, she is now aware of when she has to go, and going in a (mostly) appropriate place.

Umm, I don't think I have any internet appropriate pictures for this post. I already feel like I just might be crossing a line by writing publicly about my child's pooping, so I won't go any further and include images to match. You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting It All Done

I had a huge to-do list at the start of the summer, itemizing a variety home improvement, yard improvement, and personal improvement projects that I wanted to accomplish during my break from working outside the home (I am a high school teacher). I like a challenge. My personal motto, besides "Who dares to teach must never cease to learn" (John Cotton Daana), is probably "Go big or go home" (attributed to Eliza Dushku on the Internet, but used by coaches everywhere). I tend to plan big, and believe I can do it. Sometimes I can, but not always. So far, I have gotten a slow start on my list, but I am gaining momentum. I have exactly three weeks left before work begins again, and I think I'm going to get the majority of my list done.

This last week has been a big one for accomplishments. So far, I (with Average) have:
weeded, pruned, and beautified the front yard
built a kind of retaining wall for the flower bed next to our patio
bought blueberry bushes and a hydrangea to put in the garden
finally filed all of the papers that have been in piles for 3 months +
moved the printer to the living room and reorganized the book shelf
boxed up my non-maternity clothes and put them in the attic

Things we/I got done earlier in the summer:
steam-cleaned all the carpets
touched up the paint along the ceiling edge in our bedroom
planted our garden

Tomorrow night is my first night of prenatal yoga, which is also on my to-do list, and I have high hopes that we can at least accomplish re-surfacing and painting the hallway sometime in the next three weeks. Is that aiming too high? Go big or go home! Yes, I am already at home but you get the idea.

I feel like I am finally in the swing of staying home, and now I have at least two chunks of time per day that I can get stuff done: in the morning after breakfast when Sweet Pea is usually happy to play on her own, and in the afternoon when she is napping. If I can stay motivated and actually utilize that time well (no browsing other peoples' blogs or reading magazines!) I can get a lot done in those couple of hours. But see, here I am writing a blog post when I should be shoveling compost to put into my new garden bed, which currently has rock-hard dead soil and some dried leaves from last year, and some sand. I will try to take pictures of this project as I go, but can't find the camera charger right now (booooo :( ).

I guess the whole point of this post is that I always make these HUGE to-do lists (even daily, not just for the whole summer) and then NEVER get everything on them done. I aim high, and achieve somewhere in the middle. Do you use lists? Do you cross everything off of them? What are your tricks for "getting it all done"? - please share!

Monday, August 1, 2011


We only took about 100 photos for all of July, and we took three trips and went to a wedding reception. Not a very good photo month for me. I always like to have lots of photo evidence of what we've done, and of course the changes in my little girl, to help me remember in the future what our lives are like right now. Our trips were Eastern Oregon twice, and Ashland once. They were memorable, full of good times and learning (Ashland was a class about teaching Shakespeare's plays and I got to see 4 live performances!), and lots of fun with family. I just wish I had more photos to look back on from them. Even at my dad's wedding reception I only took a few photos, and they all seem a bit out of focus. I think there was some dust on the lens. Also, I am now 17 weeks pregnant, and I have very few photos of my growing belly! New resolution: take more pictures. My other resolutions, to exercise every day and clean up the piles around the house, have not been so successful lately, but taking photos is fun!

Here are a few of my favorites from July.

On July 4, Stella playing in the meadow at Average's family's Blue Mountains cabin with her second cousin, Ursula, and doggie Glen.
This is the view from the little covered patio at the condo we stay at in Pendleton.
I think it is the best spot in town, and I ate breakfast and dinner
looking out at this every day we were there.
The best hair-do I can currently do on little Sweet Pea. She is pretty patient with this one
because she likes braids. She always wants me to do braids in my hair too!
Just pretty much the epitome of a happy summer day for me: backyard time and a little splashing in the pool.
She runs everywhere she goes, if I haven't mentioned that already.
I prefer metal slides to the plastic ones, don't you?

Because of this fun rocking toy, this particular park is now known as the "purple dinosaur park" to my daughter. She loves it!
My brother and me at my dad's wedding reception. She what I mean abut the fuzziness? The friend who took this photo told me it looked like a 7Up ad - I do love Cherry 7Up and this was the first time I'd had it in years! Also, notice my daughter in the background, running as usual :)

That's it! I did take a few photos of my process of making applesauce with early apples from our backyard trees, and raspberries that Sweet Pea and I picked, and hope to get around to a post about how it's going raising food in our backyard this year - which is not as well as I'd like, but not too bad either. I also have a post about the wooden kitchen set that Average bought Sweet Pea at a garage sale, and her favorite toys at age almost-two-and-a-half. Oh, and one more planned post about weaning! It finally happened! So, stay tuned. I have lots to share, but little time to write, even though I'm not working outside the home at the moment. Thanks for reading!