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Wednesday, 10 September 2014 11:31

And the Day I DID Give Up...

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This post is delayed, because it's been hard for me to write.  Last week Friday, I woke up with the determination to give Audrey one more day. So many encouraging sentiments on Facebook kept me going and hopeful, although still apprehensive. I knew that in so many ways, Audrey was READY to do this - she could hold her pee for long periods of time, she frequently woke up dry in the morning, and she is stubborn and determined to do everything 'by self'. I even struggled to get her to allow me to help her get herself up on the toilet - she didn't want help. She is so independent and determined in so many areas.

Peeing in the toilet, though? She wouldn't do it.

Anyway, here is basically how our 'Day 4' went:

I hired a babysitter for the day because I was scheduled to babysit my friends' daughters, and I wanted to be able to spend the day entirely one-on-one with Audrey, so the babysitter came and did her best to keep all three girls entertained while I spent my day next to Audrey.

8:10am - Audrey wakes up in a dry bed, but refuses to pee in the toilet. We keep trying, but she doesn't really even try.

9:30am - I notice a small wet spot on her panties and take her immediately to the toilet. She pees!!! I was so excited, I probably did a happy dance. I was hopeful for the rest of the day.

10:45am - Huge accident on the living room floor.  She doesn't hold back - just lets it all out.

11:30am - Audrey decides she wants to have a bath, and I don't really want her to have the opportunity to pee in the water where I can't really see it, but I like the idea of containing a mess. I fill the tub with shaving cream and cover it in glitter. She's not overly impressed, but after awhile she plays in it a bit. Eventually - to clean both her and the tub - I fill the tub with water and she has a short bath.

At one point during the bath, I think I understand her telling me that she has to go pee. I pick her up and put her on the toilet, and hear water dribbling. I get excited - thinking she's peed, and congratulate her and give her chocolate while she's still on the toilet - but when I pick her up, the water is perfectly clear and so I wonder if she really peed, or if I was just hearing the bath water trickling off her and into the toilet. I guess I'll never know. I may have just confused her completely...

12:30pm - She says she has to pee, sits on the potty, but does nothing.

12:40pm - Giant puddle in the living room. She doesn't seem concerned at all about holding it in, and only the last bit lands in the toilet - because I've picked her up and put her there.

This is where I stopped tracking - I had given up on panties at some point, and for a few minutes in the afternoon we went out to the backyard to say goodbye to the other girls who were heading off to the park. Audrey was disappointed about not going, and so I tried to explain to her that she needed to learn to pee in the potty first.  A few minutes later - she lets out a big pee on the cement next to her playhouse. Again, she doesn't even seem to be trying to hold it in.

I'm pretty much a nervous wreck, panicking about the weekend, and trying to decide the pros and cons of giving up, keeping on as we were, or finding some middle ground like continuing at home and putting her in diapers to go out (so we could go on with life!). Brian came upstairs at around 2:30, and after a short discussion, we both agree that the best plan - for now - is to give up entirely and try again later.

It took me a number of hours to get over my failure, and I was really reluctant to admit this to anyone for awhile, but now I'm glad for the decision, and I've had to change my outlook on a few things.

This girl is wearing shorts - because she's in a diaper - and she's doing a happy dance.

Firstly, I was reminded that Clara and Audrey are not the same.  When we tackled this with Clara, she was younger than Audrey is now - Clara was under 22 months. Clara was completely on board from the start, and from Day 1, she personally refused to put on another diaper ever again.  Audrey hasn't seemed interested one way or another in this whole diaper/panties situation. She likes to do what her sister is doing, but she obviously didn't enjoy peeing on the toilet, and it didn't offend her to be put back in a diaper. In fact, she seemed happy to do it.  We chose our timing with both girls for the same reasons - in both girls' cases, something was coming up on the calendar that would make it nearly impossible to put the time into training until quite a few months into the future - and so we chose to get training done first. In Clara's case, Audrey was due in a few weeks, and in Audrey's case, Piano and homeschooling was about to begin, and I knew (and still know) that it would be 6 months or more before we could devote any time to this again.  When I planned the time for Clara, I knew she would want to do it soon, and that waiting for 6 or more months wouldn't work out for her. I thought Audrey would be the same, but now I realize that she'll be fine waiting another 6 months. Or 8 months. Or 12... 

I also realized that not potty training Audrey now will not have anything to do with whether or not she becomes a lazy adult. This is a great fear of mine, that I intend to combat with everything I am, but I think I've come to terms with the probability that waiting another 6 months or a year for Audrey to potty train will not have much of an effect on her in the long run. I'm ok with that now.

In general, I've relaxed a bit on some of my parental expectations. I still want to be pretty strict about obedience - I think that's important for so many reasons - but when it comes to milestones, I'm softening. My Dad raised me with the mentality that 'if you're capable of something - you need to acheive that something'. I still agree that if a child seeks to perform a certain task, is capable of excellence in that task, a parent or teacher should be disappointed with anything but excellence from that child.  However, that doesn't mean that everything a child is capable of doing is necessarily the right thing for them to do 'right now'. 

For Audrey - potty training just isn't the 'right thing' 'right now'. 

I intended to end my post right there, but I wanted to add a few notes about the things I learned about both of my girls in this whole process.  Things I may have seen glimpses of before, but didn't really know until this week. Things I'm really glad to know.

About Audrey:

Without Clara at her side constantly, Audrey has a longer attention span. She has a determination to succeed, and an ability to repeat processes that allows her to systematically complete tasks - like doing up a buckle, or completing a puzzle - over, and over, and over, and over... 

Audrey is not socially driven. Although she is intrigued by things that other people do, and even copies actions and words frequently, she doesn't seem to have the desire to impress others that Clara did. Audrey wants to do that thing you're doing - but she doesn't care if you want her to, or what you'll think about her if she does it. 

About Clara:

She is desperately concerned about getting approval from us. While we were praising Audrey about peeing in the toilet, Clara wanted the same praise - despite the fact that she has been peeing in the toilet for almost 2 years. She seemed threatened by Audrey's extra attention and although she didn't take it out on Audrey, she seemed completely insecure - I heard her say 'Look what I did, Mommy!' more in those three days than I think I ever had before. 

She is deeply connected to her sister.  On Friday afternoon, after we had given up - and I released Audrey back into 'normal life' - the girls played, and played, and played. And Clara relaxed, because Audrey was free! Clara stopped demanding my approval, and for a few days Audrey was the only person who mattered. "Come here, Audrey!" "Look at this, Audrey!" "Come play with me, Audrey!".  She had her sister back, and all was well. 

Thursday, 04 September 2014 20:18

The Day I Almost Gave Up...

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Potty Training Round 2, Day 3.

This marks the end of the third full day of the '3 Day Potty Training method' that, in our case, will NOT be completed in only 3 days. Maybe not even 4, but we'll see. I almost gave up this afternoon, but I think I'll plug through for a few more days.

My photos today are deceptive - I had a really, really, REALLY bad day.  I sent a friend a text message today that said "I think I have never felt as defeated and incompetent as I do today".  This is the hardest thing about parenting for me - feeling incompetent - and it hit me hard this afternoon. Anyway, here's the story of today...

I let Audrey sleep in as long as possible today. Yesterday was frustrating for both of us, she had a late evening, and in the middle of the night I went in to check on her and found her soundly sleeping in a soaked bed. I woke her up, cleaned her and changed her bedsheet, blanket and pillow and put her back to bed. 

9:15am - Audrey wakes up. I'm in the kitchen and I hear a few noises coming from her room, so I know I'm not quite as on-the-ball with getting her up as I maybe should be, but she's still dry.  I take her directly to the potty where she sits down willingly, but does not pee. I get a few suggestions about running water and putting her hand in a bowl of water, which I attempt. She thinks it's funny to play with water while she's on the potty, but it does nothing.

9:35am - she has a large-ish accident on the kitchen floor, but then follows up with nothing in the potty. Accident #1.

11:15am - Big accident on the classroom floor - followed again by nothing on the potty. Before this accident, however, Audrey spends a lot of time 'playing' on and around the potty. She goes and sits on it, immediately claiming to be done, and asks me to read books to her while she's on the potty. She either doesn't want to pee on it, or still doesn't understand that this is what she's supposed to do.  She seems to be getting more comfortable just letting it go on the floor, though, because she seems not to be stopping herself partway through anymore.  This seems to be a step backwards, in my view.

11:45-12:10 - This time period is a bit of a blur for me. We have so far had no successful pees in the potty, and in close succession she suddenly has 3 large accidents on the downstairs floor.  Her pattern seems to be that as soon as I reach for the bottle of vinegar spray to clean up the previous accident (that has been blotted up with a towel), she creates an entirely new puddle. 

It was somewhere in this half hour that I broke. The vinegar spray bottle wasn't spraying, and I was completely overwhelmed and feeling like nothing was working. I had until the end of the day, because I had to babysit the next day and this potty training COULD NOT take more than the 3 days allotted.  And - as stupid as this seems - I had the voice of a few people who said 'maybe she just isn't ready?' in my head, and I couldn't handle the defeat of admitting that maybe they were right. I didn't really believe they were right - that statement kind of goes against my parenting philosophy...  I threw the bottle onto the floor, punched the wall and collapsed in a pile of tears on the floor. Clara kept asking Brian 'Why is Mommy crying?', and Audrey started crying also, saying 'Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!' and tried to climb right into my chest. 

Somehow I pull myself together - Brian took Clara upstairs and started making lunch - and Audrey and I stayed downstairs and battled. At first I completely ignored my resolve not to stress her out on the toilet and held her there - crying - for a few minutes, knowing she had to pee but wouldn't.  Finally, we both calmed down and went upstairs for lunch.

12:45pm - She has a small accident on the floor, stops herself, and then releases the rest into the potty. A lot of pee lands in the potty. I could have cried with relief. She gets some mini M&M's for this. 

1-3pm - Both Audrey and I nap. I'm emotionally exhausted, and I'm feeling it in every muscle of my body, and she's not in a really good space today either, so both of us really need this time.

3:45pm - Poop. In her panties. After she repeatedly told me she didn't have to go pee or poop.

The girls make up their own little game here - they were tossing these little links around the house and Clara was yelling 'Sling Shock!'. Then they'd pick them up and yell and throw them again. I was impressed by this action shot of them... It was pretty funny.

4:30pm - She has a pee accident on her bedroom floor, shortly after this picture was taken. It was around this point that I give up on panties, since it slows me down to have to stop and remove them before putting her on the potty and I want to increase the chances of getting her on the potty before she's done. 

4:50pm - I have a brainwave - because I have to pee, I decide to call Audrey in to watch (I figure I'll cheer myself on, and let her hear the pee falling). She stands and watches me intently and as I start peeing - so does she. All over the bathroom floor. 

Brian is finished working at 5pm, and just before he comes upstairs, I'm formulating my decision to give up. I have to babysit the next day, the day after the girls were going to hang out all day with Daddy - out of the house - so I could get my piano curriculum and homeschool room all ready to go for the next week. Sunday is the kick off for Sunday School, and there's a pancake breakfast planned - I really don't want to miss that, and then next week everything starts. Homeschooling. Piano. Gymnastics - which I intend to actually enroll Audrey in herself!! I can't enroll a 2-year-old who will pee all over the mats! Regardless of whether or not she is ready, or whether or not she WOULD get it eventually, I'm running out of time.

Then I watch her determinedly climb 'by self' onto the toilet, after stubbornly refusing help. She hates having help doing anything, and I think she's not ready to use a toilet? I also know that our modern trend to wait to potty train really is just that - a modern trend - made possible by disposable diapers and pull-ups. In the early 1900's and previously, almost all children were potty trained at or before Audrey's age, so to say 'she's not ready' is very unlikely to be true. Not to knock anyone who makes the choice to wait to potty train - I'm close to that decision myself - but it won't be because SHE'S not ready. I'm sure she is. 

I do realize, however, that there are a number of requirements that the 3-Day-Method lays out that we have not been able to comply with, and maybe that's what is getting in our way. The biggest thing is that I have 2 children, so I really can't spend ALL of my time focusing intently on just Audrey. I'm ignoring Clara enough already as it is, and it's causing all sorts of problems - I'm doing the best I can in our situation. I've also been a bit lazy - because the girls typically keep themselves occupied, I've been letting them lead playtime quite a bit, to keep things as normal as possible. I've also been letting them watch tv to give all of us a chance to just sit. Because this is creating so much laundry, I've also had to leave occasionally to throw in a load, or sort through for clean panties. 

It's also possible that because we've been using our entire house - and both bathrooms - that things haven't been consistent enough for her, and that this is confusing her. No idea. It's possible.

5:35pm - Brian has come up from work, and because my decision has wavered, I haven't spoken to him about it yet. Before I can, Audrey has a small accident on the floor - and then finishes up in the potty!!! Maybe she needs Daddy to be around... Anyway, this is accident #10, which still does look better than the last two days, although it's also only success #2 - and I'm being pretty loose with the word 'success'.

6:00pm - She has a small accident in the living room, and then again the rest lands in the potty! More chocolate for Audrey!

6:25pm - During supper, Audrey dribbles a tiny amount on her kitchen chair and then pees a LOT - probably the rest of what is in her - into the potty. The day is looking up, and I'm encouraged. 

I sit next to her in the bathroom at one point, encouraging her to enjoy being on and around the potty, and while I'm trying to get her to actually sit on the little potty seat, she gets off it and sits next to me, crossing her feet like mine. Little mimic - she does this kind of thing a lot.  She even got up from here and pushed her feet right against the wall like mine. 

7:00pm - During playtime with Daddy before bed, Audrey has a surprise pee on the girls' bedroom floor. She seems genuinely stunned, and manages to hit the potty with the remainder. Success number 5 - we now have as many successes as yesterday, and her accident number is only #13 - much lower than yesterday.

7:40pm - Puddle in the hallway after her bath, nothing in the toilet. She was proudly displaying her Monkey jammies to me at the time, and so we remove them - even though the shirt would still have been ok - hopefully to make a point to her. 

8:35pm - She gets up from bed asking to pee - sits on the potty for a long time, but doesn't produce anything.

8:50pm - We hear a 'thud' and a moan, and find her standing next to her bed in a puddle of pee. Accident #15.

She's still awake - probably because I decided she needed a nap this afternoon. At 5 successes and 15 accidents, I'm going to sign off here and call today an improvement over the last two days, despite the disappointment and defeat I felt for most of it.  I've arranged for help tomorrow while I'm babysitting, and hopefully tomorrow will show definite improvement...

Wednesday, 03 September 2014 22:29

Potty Training Round 2, Day 2

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Yesterday I documented our first day of potty training, and explained what we're doing and why... here is a play-by-play of Day 2 in our '3 Day Potty Training' journey.

8:05am - I wake Audrey up and discover that although at first she seems dry, as I walk her to the bathroom I notice a stale pee smell and check her panties again as I'm removing them to put her on the potty. They are damp, and smelly, but I can't tell if they are freshly wet or if she peed awhile ago and they are just drying (grossest thing ever...).  I go back to her bed while she's on the toilet and check it over, and change the blanket and sheets, but the mattress is dry and smell-free. 

8:15am - I notice a spot on her panties, and take her to the toilet. She sits there for a minute but does nothing.

8:30am - Dribble on the living room floor. Again, when placed on the toilet she does nothing. Clara is becoming increasingly challenging at this point - wanting to be applauded for peeing on the toilet also. Whenever I suggest that Audrey might need to pee, Clara runs to the toilet also 'needing to pee', but then says she 'can't' and 'needs help'.  I try to explain things to her, but unfortunately I'm preoccupied by Audrey and don't have as much patience as I know I should with her. 

8:40am - Dribble on the living room floor - produces nothing in the potty.

8:50am - I notice another spot on her panties, but when I take her to the toilet she again produces nothing. 

9:00am - Another dribble on the living room floor. I take note at this point that she's had 6 accidents by 9, when yesterday her first accident didn't happen until after 9... I'm feeling a bit discouraged.

9:20am - Another spot on her panties, but she does nothing on the toilet. She's clearly holding it in, and only leaks when she lets down her guard. I'm so frustrated - I just want her to get it out when she's sitting on the potty, but she refuses. I know that forcing her to stay on the toilet will only make her hate being there worse, which will work against me, but I want to pull my hair out.  I have laundry in piles all over the house (no time to put it away) so finding new panties for her becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt, and remains one throughout the day.

9:30am - We go downstairs, and I start the girls painting on paper towel (I used this same simple activity when training Clara - it's just pictures drawn with marker on paper towel, and they use water on brushes to spread and blend the colours).  Almost immediately after this picture was taken, there is a deluge all over the classroom floor. This is accident #8, which happens at the same time accident #2 did yesterday.

9:50am - I play lazy parent and let the girls watch some tv ('Movies!!', Audrey says), and flip the chair around next to the tv so I can face the girls who are sitting on the couch. I use my phone to read some personal accounts of other families using the '3 Day' method of potty training (I'm looking for encouragement here), and come across one story that encouraged their child to enjoy their potty time by giving her books.  Audrey had begun really stressing out about sitting on the potty, so I thought this might be a good idea. I offered her some time on the potty with a book, and she happily complied, and even sat there for 10 minutes, but still didn't pee. At least she was relaxed...

10:15-10:25am - After returning to the play area, she has a large-ish accident on the floor. I set her on the potty again with a book and she sits there for about 10 minutes. Just as I was about to give up and ask if she wanted to get up, I hear splashing! She has had her first successful pee on the potty!!! Despite the fact that it was preceded by 9 accidents, I try to take a bit of encouragement from the fact that this success came more than 4 hours before her first success the day before. This is an improvement!! I cheer her excessively and give her a piece of chocolate. 

11:00am - She pees - lots - on the classroom floor, and then sits on the potty for awhile but produces nothing more. I know she still has pee in there, and I know it will probably come out as soon as she's off the toilet, so I struggle to hold her on the potty until she pees. I fought with this all day long - but in the end I knew I had to listen to her 'all done's, so she wouldn't stress out about going on the potty again.

11:15am - Another big accident, but again nothing in the potty. 

11:30am - The biggest accident yet on the kitchen floor upstairs, but again nothing goes in the potty. This is accident #12. She's actually almost on par with yesterday at this point.

11:50am - I see a spot on her panties, so I run her to the bathroom. She sits on the potty for about 10 minutes - with a book - and then FINALLY pees!!! She's really excited to do it, too, but seems to get distracted and stop frequently.  I'm sure she hasn't peed enough yet..

A friend stops by to pick up Clara for lunch. Poor Clara has been so neglected the last 36 hours, and she's so excited to be going out on her own. She keeps telling Audrey that 'You're not coming, Audrey', which hurts Audrey's feelings momentarily when Clara leaves. This will give me a few hours to focus on Audrey without distractions. 

12:15pm - Another accident on the kitchen floor, and then immediately finishes (I think) in the potty. This is three (mostly) successful pees in the potty before lunchtime. I count this is progress! By 'successful', I mean that she deliberately let her pee lose while sitting on the potty. At this point I don't care that she didn't give me a warning, or that she always had some kind of accident prior to being on the potty. I'm celebrating the small wins here.

I suggest a nap (she seems really sleepy, and I'm exhausted, despite only having one child at the moment) but this time she says 'no'. I'm sitting at the chair in front of my computer, and she asks to be picked up and it sounds as though she asks to watch 'Let it Go'. So, I pull up a YouTube video of that scene in Frozen for her.  She zombies in front of my computer for about half an hour, watching Elsa sing that song repeatedly. She seems to have a much longer attention span when Clara isn't around. After awhile, I sit her on the potty again for about 10 minutes, but she does nothing. I suggest we go downstairs to watch movies there. (Lazy parent).

2:00pm - Audrey suddenly gets up and runs to the bathroom, and wants me to read one of the books I've set out for her, but she doesn't pee. She does this a few times.

2:30pm - After one instance of sitting on the potty, she gets up and wants to wash her hands. There is a small stool in front of the sink that she is standing on, with her hands in the cool running water, and suddenly there is liquid running and splashing down her legs. By the time she gets to the potty she does nothing else.

3:15pm - The piano tuner is just leaving as Audrey starts throwing a tantrum. In my frustrated state, I give her a soother to keep her quiet until the tuner leaves, and of course she goes to her bed and falls asleep almost instantly. 

I take advantage of this time after the tuner has left, and spend some one-on-one time with Clara. I cuddle with her, and complain together with her about how much potty training Audrey is not fun - for her or me - and remind her how much I love her. She tries to coerce some candy out of me, which fails, but I hope spending even a few minutes reassuring her is worth a lot. 

3:50pm - I decide to wake Audrey up, because she typically doesn't sleep at night if she's napped, but I must have picked the exact wrong moment to do this. She wakes up saying something repeatedly - I wish I could remember what it was... 'All done', maybe? Anyway... She begins a crazy tired tantrum and I take her to the potty. She can hardly walk, and stumbles to the bathroom (She's going to be one of those people who needs coffee to function someday...). I notice that her panties are wet, but I had checked her bed as we were leaving it and I had thought it was dry. I leave her (tantruming) on the potty and go back to check her bed again. It's fine.  When I return to her (She's still crying) on the toilet, there is a yellow hue to the toilet water and her bottom is dripping. I can't believe she didn't even waver in her tantrum, but I count this is a successful pee!

She periodically (and voluntarily) sits on thep otty throughout the rest of the afternoon, but immediately claims to be 'all done' and asks to get off. If I hesitate at all, she cries and steadfastly refuses. 

6:05pm - She suddenly crouches over - like Clara used to do when she was so constipated - and Brian runs her immediately to the toilet. The first poop since potty training begins lands safely in the toilet! I'm so relieved!! 

This marked her fifth (And last) success of the day.

6:10pm - Accident on the floor. She then produces nothing in the potty.

6:30pm - BIG accident on the downstairs living room floor. Then nothing in the potty.

6:40pm - Another big accident in the classroom. Nothing in the potty.

An unavoidable circumstance meant that Brian had to take the girls to a nearby city to return his parents' vehicle to them. It's about a 30 minute drive, and they drive there and back with no accidents. When Clara was potty training, I had made a waterproof blanket with a large button hole for the crotch strap of her carseat to fit through to put on her carseat - just in case. I'm glad we have it, but I'm also glad that today it wasn't used.

8:22pm - She has a small accident on the living room floor. No successful pees since mid-afternoon, although I didn't push the liquids quite as much after about that time of day. 

In the end, only 20 accidents - 7 less than yesterday - and 5 successful potty times, which is one more than yesterday. Not a vast improvement so far, but definitely not a step backward. I'm praying for big changes tomorrow...

I apologize for the grammatical chaos of this post. I'm exhausted and potty training, so cut me some slack, please. :)

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 20:26

Potty Training Round 2

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Nearly two years ago, I embarked - suddenly - on the potty training journey that would have Clara (almost) potty trained in less than a week. We decided to potty train her at about 21 months because she was interested, and her baby sister was due to be born only a few short weeks later and so we decided to get 'er done!! Quite out of the blue, I had received an email about potty training using the 3-day method from Sarah at Nurse Loves Farmer.

It made sense to me, and I'm all about just simply 'getting things done', so getting this email was perfectly timed for me. Now, nearly two years later we begin again. Audrey is a few weeks older than Clara was at the time (and about a year younger, in my mind - will she always be my 'baby'?) and here we are beginning this process with her. This was last night - see that diaper sticking out of her pants? That is the last diaper my baby will (hopefully) ever wear...

Today I began much less prepared than I was with Clara, but determined to fight through the next three days to get her potty training completed before I start teaching piano - and homeschooling - next week.

Here is how the day went...

8:20am - Audrey wakes up, and I ask her if she's ready to get rid of diapers. She looks at me groggily (she's not a morning person) and I ask if she wants to eat breakfast first. "Jes!" (Her 'yes' sounds a bit like it starts with a 'j'). Mommy sighs with relief - I'm not ready either.

She has oatmeal and chocolate milk for breakfast.

8:45am - It's time. I get her out of her diaper, change her into panties and explain that from now on, pee and poop go in the potty. Clara struggles with keeping quiet long enough for me to explain this, and keeps stealing Audrey's attention. I think she finally hears me, and when I tell her to let me know if she has to pee, she runs into the bathroom and I follow, ready to help.  She spends a bit of time getting on and off the potty (not peeing), and demanding she pull up her panties 'by self'. This is a bit of a gong show, because she really can't do it, and keeps stuffing both legs into one hole, or getting the back elastic caught on her bum cheeks... Anyway.

9:15am - The girls are playing happily, so I turn my back to send an email. (I know - my own posts about this training method say not to do this!!) 

9:20am - First accident - on the living room floor. Change into her second pair of panties.  Audrey seems a bit stunned, and she silently steps away from it.  I explain that she needs to tell me, and put her on the potty. Nothing else comes out.

9:30am - we go downstairs (we have our classroom sort of set up, and this is the girls' first chance to play down there). We play with some kind of beady foam gunk that I bought at Indigo. The girls have a blast, but of course it holds Clara's interest much longer, and Audrey wanders off to the easel.

9:35am - Accident #2, in front of the easel.

9:50am - Accident #3, also near the easel. This time the girls have been playing with cars and blocks. We lose a foam magnetic alphabet piece to this mess. I bring out the girl's Melissa & Doug magnet dolls and give them more chocolate milk and some Annie's snack bunnies.

10:05am - Accident #4, near the snack/play table. 

I take note at this point that Audrey always seems to be standing when she pees. This was interesting to me, because it wasn't something I had any idea about before, so it gave me something to watch for.

10:13am - Accident #5 (Change into panties #6). It occurs to me that it's no doubt my girls always peed right through diapers if I wasn't careful - they seem to pee constantly...

10:20am - Brian delivers the necessary Pumpkin Spice Latte. If I had more children, I would have to demand this for each and every first day of potty training since it would officially now be a tradition. Oh well... there are other excuses for lattes...

10:30am - Accident.

10:45am - Accident.

11:05am - Accident (#8, change into panties #9) This is when I start the first load of laundry for all the wet towels and panties that have accumulated.  Audrey is getting pretty frustrated at this point, because she isn't comfortable peeing on the potty, and doesn't seem to enjoy being wet either. 

11:15am - Accident.

11:25am - Accident.

11:50am - Accident #11. This is the first accident that happens while she is sitting/squatting. For every accident, I ran to put her on the toilet, but so far she still hasn't let a drop of pee land inside. It's clear to me that each accident is what happens when she loses her guard and then realizes what's happening and stops herself. She's probably doing a lot of holding today. 

12:30pm - Another accident.

12:35pm - Lunchtime! Thanks to Daddy, who has gone upstairs and cleaned up dishes and made us some chicken fingers and fries. 

12:50pm - We notice her panties are wet, but nothing seems to have gotten on the floor. She is taken to the potty but does nothing. 

1:00pm - I suspect an accident, but put her down for a nap anyway. I am exhausted... She falls asleep easily.

2:45pm - I wake Audrey before allowing her to wake on her own so that I can immediately take her to the bathroom and encourage her to try to pee. She groggily walks to the bathroom with me, and sits on the potty but does nothing.  I then sit her down at the table for some pretzels and lemonade, and she immediately pees all over her chair - BUT - she stops herself and finishes in the potty!!! This is the first pee EVER to land in the potty!!!

4:50pm - Accident #15 (over 2 hours since her last pee)

5:40pm - Accident #16

6:02pm - Accident #17

6:10pm - Accident #18

6:15pm - Accident #19

6:20pm - Accident #20. Clearly she's doing that thing again where she stops herself but doesn't let herself release the rest of her pee into the toilet (I feel a bit silly using the word 'potty' repeatedly, but hey - I'm 'potty training').

6:50pm - We are sitting at the table eating supper, and she suddenly looks concerned and says 'Mommy?'. Brian picks her up immediately and takes her to the bathroom. There is a small spot on her chair at the table, and she finishes peeing in the potty!!! Yay Audrey!!!

The rest of the evening happened during Brian's watch. I went for a catnap after supper - I know technically the same person is supposed to stay by their side the entire 3 days, but we adapted with Clara, and so I wasn't too worried about doing the same with Audrey.

Audrey has 3 more accidents, plus an incident where she has a spot in her panties but then pees in the potty.

8:35pm - The girls are both in bed. I hear noise and walk in the room. Audrey is out of bed, but is deliberate about walking toward me so instead of taking her back to bed, I take her to the toilet. Good thing, because she has a spot in her panties (I later discover a small spot on their bedroom floor) and she pees again in the potty!!!

9:00pm - Audrey is out of bed again, and there is a small puddle on the floor.

9:20pm - Clara announces that Audrey has peed on the floor. Sigh. Her blanket is a casualty, and there is a tiny spot on her bed sheet, but I leave that and just change her blanket. 

Bedtime is obnoxious, because Audrey has discovered that needing to pee is her ticket out of their bedroom, and we don't want to take our chances yet. Every time Audrey gets out of bed, Clara wants to leave the room too.

10ish. They finally fall asleep.

So, it was a crazy day - 28 accidents, 29 pairs of panties would have been needed in total if I hadn't been able to do laundry. VERY different than my experience with Clara, but we'll see. By the end of the day Audrey seemed to be 'getting it', although she still doesn't have a method for clearly letting us know that she has to pee except to look at us intently and run past us to the bathroom and smack her hands on the seat. Speak, Audrey, Speak!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 20:31

No More Bars

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August of 2012 - just over two years ago - we set up this toddler bed in what was then just Clara's bedroom.  I was seven months pregnant, and we knew that weaning Clara off her gummy (soother), potty training and becoming a big sister were all huge transitions that Clara would soon be making and so we decided to introduce her to her new 'big girl bed' as soon as possible so that she would have time to get used to it before we needed to move her into it. 

Clara, it turned out, didn't need to get used to it. She excitedly leaped onto her new 'big girl bed' and we realized that although we intended to have her continue sleeping in her crib while she became used to the idea of the toddler bed, she would have been greatly disappointed if we had asked her to get back in her crib. 

This is what her room looked like back then. Not completely changed, but we no longer have a rocking chair - I hardly used it for the girls anyway - and in its place is a dresser. 

 Up until a few days ago, everything on the crib side of the room looked almost just like this...

We realized, similarly to two years ago, we have a toddler facing a lot of transition soon. Audrey also has a soother dependency that we have kept to only nighttimes lately, but will have to be broken nonetheless. She is also showing signs of potty training readiness, and although there is no new baby on the way, we want to make these transitions as easy for her as possible - and allow each change some space to settle before throwing the next one at her. 

I realized sometime in July that as the school year begins in September, my time will be lessened. I will have piano lessons to teach, and I am still babysitting on the days I don't teach. If I intend to do the '3-Day-Method' of potty training, as we did with Clara, I would no longer have a 3-day stretch in which to do it.  I mentally calculated that Audrey would be 22 months old (as recommended by the 3-Day-Method) at the end of August, which is 2 weeks older than Clara was when we began the process with her. 

Last week, the girls and I went camping with a friend and borrowed my in-laws camper trailer, in which Audrey slept in a playpen. One morning as I was getting Clara ready for the day, Audrey demanded to get out of bed and when I didn't respond quickly enough, she climbed - albeit clumsily - out of the playpen by herself. I was stunned.  At each location where my daughters sleep over (Grandparents), Audrey sleeps in a playpen.  This marked the day when she would no longer be able to be confined by a playpen, and considering her clumsiness, it would from now on be safer for her to be in a bed. 

I knew that it would be awhile before Audrey would attempt - or succeed in - climbing out of her crib at home, but the 'stay in bed' battle was one that would have to be waged at home before she ever stayed the night at Grandma's, or Nana and Grandpa's again.  And we had plans the following week...

Then, as I continued to consider the rapid pace of Audrey's transitions I realized that Audrey really would need to be able to get out of her bed prior to potty training, because she would need to be able to come to the door and ask to go pee. It would be silly to trap her in her crib while we were stretching her independence with potty training - I think.  So, the very next day, we made the change...

 Of course the girls 'helped' Daddy take the front off the crib...

Audrey's response was definitely not as eager and excited as Clara's had been two years ago. Actually, Audrey's response was more guarded than Clara's was even now, although the bed change was Audrey's news. Clara could hardly keep herself off of Audrey's new bed.  I envision that there will be a phase in the girls lives where they choose to share a bed... Although you never know. 

We expected a week's worth of battling with Audrey over staying in bed at night.  That's what happened with Clara. Audrey seems more in control of her excitement, however, and although she did sneak out of bed a few times during the first twenty minutes of sleeping in her new bed, it hasn't been nearly the struggle we expected.  It has been one week now, and half of the days we haven't had to go in at all. The other half we have had to check in a few times over about 10-20 minutes. 

So far it's been a good thing. Next week is potty training...

Sunday, 20 July 2014 21:29

Planning Activities

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 I've been a bit more deliberate lately about planning activities for the girls, and I've been using a website called Growing a Jeweled Rose. This Blogger Mom has two daughters who are both a tad older than my girls, and she does all kinds of fun activities with them. It's like I can get a bit of a preview on how my girls might enjoy some of the activities she tries.

Here they are in the bathroom with some glo-sticks, the idea for which came from Growing a Jeweled Rose, but since I had a package of cheap glo-sticks instead of the glo-paint she uses for a lot of great looking crafts and activities, I just used the sticks for now. The girls had a lot of fun with them. 

I also tried some balloon painting with them. Audrey didn't really enjoy this, maybe she was too young - but Clara liked it for a short amount of time. 

I think this second one was Audrey's... I thought I'd remember, but I guess I should have written it down.

 I had put the paper into a cookie sheet for each girl, and then also tried giving them marbles to roll across the paper. This didn't fly as well - maybe I did it wrong. We're new to painting and crafts, so I guess we'll have to keep trying. 

 This one I, I mean Audrey, did. She couldn't really get into this either. Each time she tried to touch a marble and got paint on her fingers, she held up her fingers saying 'Owie' (her new word for anything she dislikes even remotely), wanting me to wash her fingers off.  Needless to say, for her, this didn't last long.

On these hot summery days, I've loved being outside as much as possible. And Growing a Jeweled Rose has a lot of great activities that are better done outdoors anyway. Like this one - I put a few drops of food colouring in vinegar to make three different colours, and then poured it into an ice cube tray for a few hours. Then I dumped a box of baking soda into the girls' sand table and let them play.  

This was a great idea in concept, but it didn't play out quite like I'd hoped. They had a bit of fun at first, but seemed more interested in throwing the ice cubes around in the yard and floating them in the paddling pool. I tried to show them how the ice cubes fizzed when they melted by squeezing one in my hand, but then I heard a chorus of 'Do that to mine! Do that to mine!' and it kind of hurt my hands...  I ended up putting the sand table up on the deck for awhile to give the ice a chance to melt, but the amount of fizzing was never enough to hold the kids' attention, and I mostly just ended up with a lot of baking soda on my grass - which killed it, by the way, so I definitely recommend doing this on a deck.

We also put shaving foam into the sand table and coloured (regular) ice cubes. They had a lot more fun with this one, but still the ice cubes quickly gravitated over to the paddling pool, as did the shaving foam which turned the water a sick shade of green. 

I've made a summer 'bucket list', mostly of things I found on the Growing a Jeweled Rose blog, and although I'm somewhat behind, I hope to accomplish most of them throughout the summer. Hopefully I'll blog about at least some of it! 

Talk again soon!

 

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 21:16

Geocaching on Canada Day

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I can hear the fireworks starting outside, yet we are staying in on this Canada Day evening. I'm actually not the biggest fan of fireworks (they really all look the same after awhile...) and because it isn't dark until after 10 these days, the works won't start until 10:30 or 11pm - too late for our girls.  So, they are in bed and we will stay home and watch some Veronica Mars (my latest addiction).

Today, however, we had a great day of exploration going Geocaching for the first time.  Brian and I have wanted to do this before, and despite how accessible geocaches are wherever you go, we hadn't tried it yet.  Brian downloaded an app on his phone, since we don't have a GPS specifically, and we wandered downtown searching.  Wandering with the girls was slow going, but since we had no specific agenda, except to enjoy our day outdoors and maybe find some geocaches, it was totally relaxing and fun! 

Our first search led us to a roundabout in the city, and because we really had no idea, Brian and Clara climbed onto the hill and investigated these statues. We probably weren't supposed to be there...

They searched for a few minutes, and then I 'called a friend'. :) A close friend of mine has been geocaching for years - and has gone geocaching all over the world, in fact - and so I gave him a call for some tips. He told us exactly where to go to find this one, and we certainly wouldn't have found it on our own. Part of geocaching is that you are supposed to be sneaky and stealthy so that those who are around - and not geocaching - won't also find the geocache and remove it or tamper with it in any way.  Geocaching with two little girls is probably not the sneakiest way to do it...

And taking a photo like this probably doesn't help... Hopefully we didn't draw too much attention...

My friend gave us tips to find the next geocache as well, explaining what it looked like and then after about 20 minutes when we still couldn't find it, he told me exactly where to find it.  He promised we'd get the 'hang' of it once we'd found a few, and we were definitely excited to continue! 

The girls were tired, though, so we stopped for ice cream by the river and then went home to let Audrey nap and Clara rest for a couple of hours before having supper and then heading out again. 

This time we went to the University - another good place to wander outside.  The first geocache we 'found', although we didn't actually touch it. We saw it, though, which is close enough, right? I pulled a muscle in the process of trying to get it (it involved climbing - I haven't climbed in years!) and Brian's afraid of spiders. True story. We're not exactly weathered outdoorsmen, ok?

Anyway, the University campus was overrun with gophers which gave the girls something to watch for.  This is a lousy, far-away picture, but I had to remember this. They were staring at a gopher hole in the ground that a gopher kept popping his head out of. From where I stood, I could hear them giggling hysterically every time they saw him, and Clara would yell "Beaver!!!" every time he went down again. We told her repeatedly that it wasn't a gopher, but she insisted on calling it a 'beaver', which was incredibly funny. 

Then, after a little while, Audrey started yelling "Puppy!" in between Clara's exclamations of "Beaver". I could have peed, I was laughing so hard. 

We got a lot of walking in, and in the process discovered something semi-active that we can do together as a family. We didn't bring the stroller at all, so both girls had to walk, and only occasionally did we carry one or the other of them. I definitely recommend it, and we will definitely do it again! 

Happy Canada Day, all!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 11:46

Meal Planning 2.0

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Over a year ago I wrote a blog post about my method of Meal Planning.  I should probably update that now, because my method has changed somewhat. Instead of planning a month of recipes at the beginning of each month, I have begun creating a seasonal 6-week rotating meal plan. I know people who use about one month of recipes, and that would work too, but I like to have a bit of variation and not feel like we're having things too frequently. 

The first thing to do is determine what types of meals you want to have each week. Do you need one crockpot meal, or five? Do you need to have mostly meals that cost as little as possible, or are you more concerned about a balanced diet that includes vegetarian, seafood, poultry and red meat options weekly?  Decide what you want to sort by and create lists of meal ideas using the criteria you previously defined. 

For example, I wanted to include some vegetarian, some seafood, some poultry and some red meat each week, so I created a list of vegetarian meals, a list of seafood meals, a list of red meat meals, etc. Because we tend to favour meals with red meat and chicken, these lists were longer and so I chose to include more of these types of meals in my plans than the others. 

For the simplest meal plans, use common dishes that you frequently make already. If you want to add something more adventurous in a week that you have more time to think and plan - you can always do that later.

So I made a 'rough draft' of my lists and arranged them as evenly as I could. I even used a few 'cut out' meals and shuffled them around physically to make it easier to see what I was doing. I had to make a few changes, and as I've been using it, I've made a few more changes. In theory, however, I can use this spring/summer meal plan - with maybe a few minor changes each year to account for changes in our habits - forever. Once I had finalized my lists, I printed them out and put them in my Great Binder of Organization for weekly reference. 

My meal plan includes 6 weekly lists, each includes 6 lunch and 6 supper meal options. There are some favourite meals that are repeated every 2 or 3 weeks, but many are only used once. At the beginning of each week, I just need to determine what week we are on and 'plug in' the meals as our schedule, or the weather deems appropriate. Creating my 6-week list took a bit of time and effort, but it was so worth it to not have to do any thinking to plan my meals now. 

All I need to do each week is copy the plan down to a weekly list or calendar and make a shopping list.  Last year, a friend of mine bought me this weekly planner at the bookstore he was working at and although I love anything stationary - it sat on my fridge for almost a year before I discovered this use for it. 

There are still a couple of free rows at the bottom, and I'm thinking of filling them with activity planning ideas for the kids in a similar fashion, but for now this works really well. The plan stops at Tuesday because that is the day I typically grocery shop. So, Monday/Tuesday I have to take a look at the next week, plug in my meals for that week, and then make my grocery list accordingly. I'm really loving this plan - it's also really helpful for Brian to know what meals are coming up, since I keep this on the side of our fridge for easy reference.  During the year when I teach piano, I have a couple of babysitters who spend a lot of time at my house, and they have also learned to check this for the snack plan for the day.  No more interrupting lessons to ask what snacks to give the girls! 

Monday, 02 June 2014 14:40

Less Photos of a Second Child...

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As I get more and more immersed in this thing called parenting, gradually forgetting what life was even like before children, I find my priorities drastically changing. As you can clearly tell from my sudden lack of blogging vigour, my need to keep an online journal or record of my children's lives has lessened. I still want to, really, but it has become much less important than so many other things in my life that it has had to take a back seat. 

Another one of those things that hasn't been top on my list of priorities is taking photographs of my kids. If we were just talking about picture-taking, I would say I definitely want (and intend) to take more pictures, but I just don't find myself with my camera in hand as much as I might like, and I really don't like the photos that come off my phone, so I don't even bother.  Brian - who spends his day in front of a computer screen - is even less inclined to insert a camera between himself and the world, because he wants to be able to experience life as it happens.  And he doesn't care if he forgets the moments - he believes it's better to really share in them now than to worry about saving each one to look back on.  I struggle, because I'm a memory person - I love to reminisce, it's one of my favourite pastimes, but he's right, really. Spending too much time behind the camera diminishes our experiences now. 

My poor Audrey will look back on our photos someday and wonder why there are so many of the first two years of Clara's life, and then suddenly we lost interest in taking photos. I will have to assure her that it had nothing to do with how she looks in pictures (although, Audrey, you need to stop being grouchy for photo shoots, or all the baby photos you someday look back on will appear very grouchy...), nor how much we love her.  Chasing two little girls is simply more time consuming than chasing one, and I don't find enough 'free' moments to casually pick up the camera.

These photos were taken almost two weeks ago, and I think they were the last pictures I took of the girls. Not much has changed, but two weeks seems like a really long time. So much for my 5 photos a week challenge from earlier this year...

So, I'm curious - for those of you who regularly photograph your lives - do you think about it, or does it just happen? Do you find the camera in your hand daily without any extra effort on your part, or do you find ways to remind yourselves to photograph and document your lives? 

Also - do you have any kind of routine for printing or catalogueing photos? Do you make photo books, or make gold cd copies? 

Monday, 12 May 2014 13:20

On Funerals and Other Such Happy Events

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I overheard a conversation this weekend about funerals. There was an acquiantance of those involved in the discussion who had recently died and they had been informed there would be 'no funeral'. A number of comments were made about the increased frequency of this particular choice and there was some discussion about whether or not this was appropriate since the funeral occurs after the person is deceased and is therefore not for the sake of the deceased, but for those still living.  If the living relatives and friends want to gather to remember the deceased, should that be the choice of the living or the dead?

I would assume that when a person specifies 'no funeral' in their will, that they are somehow averse to whatever sort of memorial service they have been exposed to - whether that be for religious reasons, or cost reasons - and they don't want to subject their own families to the 'bother' of planning and paying for such an event.  This is reasonable, and I think it's even reasonable for a person who sees no use in a funeral to not designate money in their will or insurance to pay for something they see no value in. 

However, I think ultimately the choice regarding whether or not to gather in memory of a person - however that gathering takes place - should be completely up to those left behind.  I would argue that we all need to 'say Goodbye' in some way or another, and if a funeral is how we need to do it - we need to have a funeral.

When my Dad died, he was cremated and so his body was not embalmed or prepared in any way for burial.  We did not purchase for him a fancy coffin, and so we did not hold a 'wake' for him.  I think it was the following morning (Tuesday) that his closest family planned to meet at the funeral home to discuss details and we also had the opportunity to see his body one final time. There was nothing ceremonious about it - it (I say 'it' because my Dad was no longer there, and his body was simply an empty shell) was laid out on a table, covered with a sheet. 

A couple of my Dad's aunts asked when this 'viewing' would be taking place, and despite the fact that we (the immediate family) had desired a closer gathering, they appeared anyway. 

At the time, I felt somehow violated by this. My Dad's dead body was somehow personal to me, and I didn't want the 'whole world' gawking at it. 

What I didn't consider was their relationship to him. I have a close relationship to a number of my aunts and uncles, and I hope that if I die before they do, that they feel a loss. I didn't consider how these women felt at the loss of their nephew.  After Dad's funeral, I recalled when one of his uncles had passed away, and how there had been a viewing on the night before his funeral. Like my Dad's, this uncle's funeral was attended by hundreds of people, but the viewing was only for family - which wasn't a small group, at around fifty people.  This was a time for the close family to cry together, share stories together and laugh together.  This was how these family members grieved and despite how we felt at the time, we robbed them of this after my Dad's death. 

I will never be one to pull out a camera and photograph a body in a coffin, but I know people who do, and I will never again judge their way of remembering and their way of grieving.  It's not up to me to tell someone else how to process death. Grief is wierd, and it looks different for everyone. 

Personally, I would think it more appropriate for someone who doesn't appreciate funerals to state something like 'do as you wish' to their family and friends instead of forcing them to choose between honouring the deceased wishes and going through the motions of saying a healthy 'Goodbye'. 

That's my rant for the day - what do you think? Do you agree, or disagree?

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