Shit Happened

Anyone who has made the mistake of innocently asking me, “How’s it going?” in the past couple of months has received an earful of potty training trials and tribulations. For those who’ve become emotionally invested, and for those who are just plain curious to see if I’d actually throw a poo poo party (and what it looked like), I’m thrilled beyond measure to share that the deed is done! My 3-year-old daughter pooped on the potty and I’m pretty sure I was happier than I was the day she was born (mostly because I had a full-blown panic attack that day, and let’s face it: childbirth is a miracle, but it’s no picnic).

Right after the kids and I celebrated with a jumping-up-and-down group hug, I put in the call to the Publix bakery for the cupcakes. I LOVE their bakery. You ask them to make a half-dozen poop emoji cupcakes for you at 4pm for 9am the next morning and they say, “OK!” And only for five dollars! TOTALLY worth it.

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It so happens my best friend from growing up and her family were visiting this weekend so we had built-in party guests. She was quite amused, but made it clear that I need to get a hobby, a job, or a life of some sort. Point taken. But here she is humoring me with the poo piñata. Oh, yeah. I ordered it from Amazon.

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And here’s my big girl, holding up her piñata treasure: unicorn poop, of course! Also from Amazon. (I have a slight Prime problem.)

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We slammed a poop piñata with a Louisville Slugger, and ate Unicorn Poop candy and poop cupcakes. A good time was had by all. Now if I can only get her to poop in the potty a second time…

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Potty pity party of one.

While natural and manmade disasters devastate lives in Texas, Florida, and (gasp) beyond the borders of our own country, let me tell you about some real suffering. I’m a stay-at-home mom who actually has to stay home with her child. All the time. Every day. I know, right?

I had it planned out so well. My son started his new school right after Labor Day, and my daughter was all scheduled to switch to her new preschool for three glorious full days a week, until I addressed the diapered elephant in the room. She has to be potty trained before she can go to her new school. They aren’t being jerk faces; apparently you need a special license to have diaper changing in a school, and they do not. So while rule number one of potty training is to not put any pressure on them and that “when they’re ready, they’re ready,” I need Abbie to be ready, like, now. Or more like two weeks ago. She’s doing great with peeing, but this text pretty much sums up where we are:

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It is most definitely a situation. I can watch her all day, but the second I turn my back, she hides behind the couch and drops a deuce in her pants, which sticks out in her undies like a nasty case of hemorrhoids. I try to watch for signs so I can grab her before she goes and run her to the bathroom, but she’s like a poop ninja. I even put the training potty behind the couch where she likes to go, but she just poops next to it. I thought she was just being an asshole (and maybe she is, afterall she is my daughter), but it turns out some kids are scared to poop on the potty. They think they are actually losing a part of themselves when the poop plops into the toilet. How this is different than scraping it out of their underpants and then flushing it down, I have no idea. I mean, it’s just taking out the middlewoman. But there’s no rationalizing with the insane, which includes 3-year-olds. And a fear by definition is irrational. I don’t expect people to understand my fear of pigeons… just nod politely and at least pretend to respect it. So as for my migraines, I’m trying to explore and entertain suggestions from friends and professionals alike.

I came across this gem on Parents.com:

To help your child overcome her fear, Dr. Brown recommends this gradual step-by-step process: first, let your child poop in a diaper but only while in the bathroom. After a week or so, continue letting her poop in her diaper, but have her do it while sitting on the potty or the toilet. Next, cut a hole in the diaper with a pair of scissors just before putting it on your child, and let her wear it as she uses the toilet. (We know it sounds a little crazy, but she’ll still feel the diaper’s familiarity and security while her poop drops into the potty.) After she’s used the hole in the diaper for about a week, it will be time for underpants!

This doesn’t sound a little crazy. This sounds A LOT crazy. But so does a poo-poo party complete with a poo-piñata, cupcakes, and a poo-poo present. Which is what I’ve promised my daughter when she finally does the deed. To be clear, the poo-piñata, is a regular piñata simply with the word “poo” attached to it. We won’t fill it with poop or anything. Hmmm… but maybe buy this one and fill it with Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds?

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UPDATE: OK, so I wrote this post seven hours ago, and just an hour ago texted with Abbie’s school to give them a potty report. I was totally honest and told them she was peeing in the potty like a rockstar but not so much with the poop (side-eye emoji) and they are STILL giving us the go-ahead to start on September 26! I have my light at the end of the tunnel! This no-longer-summer-but-not-time-for-school limbo I’ve been living in is coming to a close. Biggest exhale ever. But a poop in the potty would really be the icing on the cake. Which gives me another idea for the poo-poo party:

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“I’m not a turd.”

I assured my son that not only was I not “a turd” as he thought I had proclaimed, but that I also wasn’t deterred. He stood next to me as I examined myself, staring at my latest purchase — a full-length mirror — wearing my second latest purchase, vintage overalls. Size medium. They were tight (these are not skinny jean overalls), and they wouldn’t button on the sides. I double-checked the label to make sure the size was correct. I’ve never not fit into medium overalls before, but then again I haven’t worn overalls since college. A psychological blow like this would usually send me face first into a bottle of wine, but there were two things to consider:

  1. My kids. I promised myself when I became a mom that I would not project my crazy body image crap onto them. Just like arguing with my husband, this was something for the “behind closed doors” category. And there, both my kids were, standing next to me. Deep breath.
  2. Today also happens to be the day I started yet another plan to transform myself: BodyBoss. It’s one of those seemingly brilliant one-word-that-should-be-two-words fitness methods that targets women like myself in our Facebook feeds. Hook, line, and sinker.

It’s day one of my 16-week journey, and my ill-fitting overalls came at just the right time. I’m still optimistic that I can complete all 16 weeks, even though today kicked my butt when I quite literally couldn’t kick my own. One of the HIIT circuit exercises was butt kicks and I could. Not. Do it. My best looked more like a hobbling running-in-place motion. Like I’d been clubbed in the shins with a tire iron by my kidnapper while trying to escape, tried to keep going, but froze up in a mix of shock, pain, and fear. So basically how I always look and feel at the gym.

As with any other overwhelming life change, I just need to take it one day at a time. I’m holding myself accountable, but I also told my kids as I shrugged in my Liberty’s, “It’s no big deal. When I put these on in November, they’ll fit.” So I’m now accountable to them as they look forward to seeing me dressed like a farmer (they don’t get fashion yet). And now I’m accountable to you. I won’t post on Facebook every time I check into the gym or complete a training circuit. But you might here from me when I’m particularly proud (or ashamed) of myself… or when I’m feeling a little like a turd.

 

5 Reasons Why Walmart’s Online Grocery Shopping is My New Everything

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I know, right? It’s so big. And boxy. But when you live in rural North Carolina, a trip to “the Walmart” is as much a part of your week as going to the post office… or the ABC Store. It may not be as white and shiny as Target, with its “affordable” lines of clothing from high-end designers. The lighting may be depressing, some of the clientele might be equally depressing, and you can’t find specialty items like hemp hearts…

Wait, I had a point. Oh yes. Their new online grocery shopping! If you like the idea of Walmart’s prices, but the idea of going into Walmart depresses the crap out of you or stresses you out to no end, this is the perfect solution. It has changed my life. Let me count the ways:

  1. It saves time. It takes some time to pick out my items online, but nowhere near as much time as it does to walk through the aisles at the store. Especially considering I usually have a kid or two in tow, which leads me to my second point.
  2. It saves my sanity. My 2-year-old daughter can Houdini her way out of any shopping cart seatbelt, so it’s no surprise that she won’t stand right beside me quietly while I compare prices on pasta. I can pick out my items from the comfort of my couch rather than picking up every item she pulls off the shelves as we go. This reason alone is enough to shop online.
  3. No impulse shopping. I admit it. I’m the one who walks by the displays right before checkout and has to have that Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo DVD for 4.99 (true story). And what’s that? Lip balm in a cute ball-shape container? Yes, please!
  4. Two words: Savings Catcher. This feature of the Walmart app finds out if an item you bought is being sold elsewhere for less and puts the difference on a gift card for you. So if you buy Silk Almond Milk at Walmart for $2.98, but it’s on sale at Harris Teeter for $2.50, the Savings Catcher will “catch” that and pocket the 0.48 for you. All you have to do is enter the TC# from each receipt into the app, and let it do the rest. It’s literally mindless and it adds up. This is something you can use whether you shop online or in-store, but I just discovered it and am pretty obsessed.
  5. It’s free! Yes, I know Publix has free online grocery shopping, too. But the closest Publix to my house is 45 minutes away and it’s not quite budget friendly enough to be the go-to store for my weekly basics.

I admit I was concerned about the produce, but I couldn’t have picked out a better bunch of bananas myself. All of this being said, the one thing that kills me is that I can’t use my own shopping bags. But I’m hanging onto the hope that following this whole hand sanitizer ban, the EPA will find that plastic bags are actually good for the planet. In the meantime, reusing and recycling alleviates my conscience enough (oh, the things you can make with plarn).

If you want to try it, use this link. You’ll save $10, and so will I.

 

 

How to Pick Up a Babysitter

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Dave and I started dating in college, so I hadn’t been “out there” since before cell phones. Cell phones, people. I’ve had to bring my game out for friend dating, but what happens once you make friends is that you want to go out with them. Without kids.

If you don’t have parents in the area to watch your kids, or if you’ve decided the push/pull of passive-aggressiveness and guilt that comes with it isn’t worth it, you’ve got to find a babysitter.

Asking a friend for the name of their babysitter is like asking a serial killer where he keeps his victims. They’re not going to give that shit up without a fight — some things are too sacred. My mom still talks with contempt in her voice about how our neighbors stole our best babysitter from us, only to leave us with her less responsible sister, Julie, who would throw parties at our house while they were out. Julie would tell my sister and I we were playing hide and seek, and then never seek us. She bribed me with a giant stuffed Jokey Smurf. (I was four, and an easy target.)

So when my daughter’s preschool teacher introduced me to Sarah*, I didn’t waste any time. Here’s how I picked up my babysitter — and how you can, too — in 4 swift steps:

  1. Assess your surroundings. Where are you meeting her? I was meeting Sarah on the playground at my son’s elementary school where she works with the after school program. This tells me already that she has experience with kids. If I were meeting her in a bar, at 1am, I might be a tad more wary.
  2. Lay it all out there. This isn’t a potential new friend, so you don’t have to play it cool. Don’t be afraid to let her know how much you want her. But also let her know upfront what she’s in for. If she gets to your house to find out you have 3 dogs and she’s allergic to dogs, there goes your babysitter and your evening.
  3. Exchange contact info. Don’t put it off, saying, “Oh, I’m running late so I’ll get your number from X later.” Later will turn into never.
  4. Set a time to follow up. If you don’t have a specific date in mind for the first babysitting gig, tell her. That way she won’t wonder why she’s not hearing from you. If you do, go ahead and get it in both of your calendars. Really good babysitters are in super high demand — Abbie’s preschool teacher is booked with babysitting, dogsitting and housesitting jobs through the fall!

Now it’s up to you whether or not you want to talk money right away. For me, unless she says she charges $20 an hour for two kids, there’s not much she’s going to say that’s going to turn me off. We are REALLY in need of some nights out with and without friends, but DEFINITELY without kids. I’d rather lure her to the house first where there’s no turning back and then negotiate the rate. That being said, we also make sure to tip really well, especially the first few times, to make sure she knows how much we appreciate her and to gain her loyalty.

So we now have a great babysitter and I’m so excited I can’t stand it! It’s like how I felt when I found my first true friend after college, but the next level. I’m not sure what’s after this… I’m sure whatever it is will make me feel even older. Perhaps it will lead to a, “How I Found the Perfect Plastic Surgeon” post. But then you’d know I had work done, which of course I’d never do.

*I’ve changed the name of my sitter to protect her privacy and also to keep you from stealing her.

20 Thousand Questions: The Real Kids’ Travel Game

You’ve gotta love the curious minds of kindergartners. But the questions, my God, the fucking questions. Kids are so cute. They’re so precocious. Until you’re stuck in the car with one for 8 hours and sticking to your guns with your “I didn’t have an iPad when I was your age, I just looked out the window” crap.

Jed’s questions go from smart and philosophical:

  • What’s the goverment?
  • What does it mean to judge?

To strange and downright disturbing:

  • Do raccoons lose teeth and if they do, does the tooth fairy visit them?
  • Why is it illegal to dig up dead bodies?

It’s like having Carlton Blanchard (Wings) buckled up in your backseat:

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“Why do they call them handcuffs if you wear them on your wrists?”

“If the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, what do you suppose a doorknob would feel like?”

“If they were to carpet the state of Florida, how long would it take to vacuum it?”

“If dogs don’t sweat, then what are their armpits for???”

“Geez Louise, for the love of Mike, for Pete’s sake; Who are these people?

I’ve tried the “answering his question with a question” tactic when I don’t know how else to respond: “I don’t know Jed, do you think the tooth fairy visits raccoons?”

But some things you can’t leave to chance.

Me: “Digging up dead bodies is wrong, Jed. It’s just wrong.”

Jed: “But why?”

Me: “It just is. Doesn’t it just seem wrong to you?”

Jed: “Um, well –”

Me: “Yes! The answer is ‘yes!'”

What are some of the most shocking questions your kids have asked you? Have you been stumped or simply stunned?

What Nobody Tells You About Hannukah

For nine out of 10 Americans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re Christian or not, Christmas is a big freakin’ deal. Even the buggiest of bah-humbuggers can’t escape the incessant ringing of the Salvation Army bells and the red Starbucks cup fiasco in their social media feeds.

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But here’s what almost 10 out of 10 Americans don’t know: Hannukah is NOT a big deal.

Because it runs in tandem with Santa’s reindeer, many think that this Jewish holiday must hold a great deal of importance. But truth be told, it’s not even in the Hebrew bible. Historically, Jews gave and received gifts on a spring holiday called Purim. The story of Hannukah, which comes from the book of Maccabees, is a minor Jewish holiday at best. And don’t get me started on the Maccabees. How bummed was I to find out only recently that the heroes of our Hannukah story were equivalent to modern day religious terrorists?

And then there’s the oil that was supposed to burn for one day but miraculously burns for eight days, hence the eight nights of presents (the part most folks are familiar with). As a child, I felt smug to have a holiday that lasted longer than Christmas and milked more gifts out of my family. As a parent, I’m glad my children have a reason to get gifts at a time of year when they would otherwise feel left out. But truth be told, Hannukah is not the Jewish Christmas. If you’re not a kid or don’t have kids, then Hannukah is hardly a holiday at all. It amazes me how businesses try to capitalize on such a trivial holiday, even making Hannukah toys for dogs (which of course, I can’t help but buy every year, they’re too funny!).

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Our big holidays are known as the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). They are nowhere near as fun as Christmas and Easter. No candy or presents. No bunnies or fat, jolly white guys (unless you count the sweaty dude in the third row at temple). Kids can miss school — they are excused absences, but absences nonetheless. And for what? To sit in services all day wearing itchy tights and neckties, followed by more sitting around the family dinner table (in Yom Kippur’s case, after a day of fasting). It’s arguable that being in school is more fun than sitting through a two-hour guilt-ridden sermon about why you should come to temple for more than just two days a year for the holidays.

So if you accidentally wish me a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, don’t feel bad. Or if you wonder why I might not travel to spend Hannukah with my family, you can stop wondering. Have a very Merry Christmas, and don’t worry about us. We have our Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and our movies on Christmas Day, and we love it.

Our ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Paci Policy and Slacking on Child No. 2

For the first six months of my first child’s life, if he dropped a pacifier, I wouldn’t put it back in his mouth without washing it in hot water with soap or sterilizing it in the microwave in one of those plastic doohickies that came with the paci pack.

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My friend Ashley saw me do this once and had to stifle her laughter. Her daughter was almost a year older than my son and had been there, done that. She had crossed the germ threshold, and little did I know, I was about a month away from doing the same.

With the first child, and especially in the first few months, you do everything They tell you to do — They being doctors, family, friends, the people who write package directions, and of course, The Internet. It’s like the first few weeks of your first semester at college. You don’t know your professors well enough to know what you can and can’t get away with, so you actually do all of the assigned work until you have the ins and outs of each class figured out. But once you gain confidence and find your rhythm as a new student — or in this case a new mom — you can figure out which shortcuts, tips and tricks you’re comfortable using. They become a second-hand source and you begin to go with your gut.

It’s amazing how slippery a slope can become once it’s covered with your guts. One minute you’re washing  a pacifier 14 times a day, and the next you’re cheering inwardly when the same pacifier lands “right side up” on the sidewalk before popping it back into baby’s mouth, hoping no one is watching but not really caring either way.

At home, pacifiers pop in and out of our lives like bubbles. One minute, there’s four or five floating around and then — poof! — they’re gone. And right when I give up and go out and buy more, the old ones resurface. But sometimes they reappear in a most unsettling place: baby’s mouth. I will put Abbie in the gated play area while I’m making breakfast, and when I come back to pick her up and put her in her high chair, she’s sporting a yellow pacifier with a graphic of a hipster giraffe wearing nerdy glasses that I haven’t seen in weeks. Was it under the couch covered in lint? Hidden in the bottom of the toy bin amid stray dog hairs and lovey fuzz? I don’t want to know and thankfully Abbie can’t tell me. We have an understanding that way. The fact is, it’s been in her mouth for at least three minutes and the damage has been done.

With child number two, I haven’t relaxed into a total state of apathy. I do bathe, feed, and clothe her, and even wash her pacifiers on a regular basis. When I’m not sure if something is chocolate or poop, I still smell it rather than lick it. Although I do feel that Abbie has missed out on a few things being the youngest. With Jed, my first, I documented everything. I kept a private blog for close friends and family updating them on his milestones and favorite things. I thought everyone slacked on their second child until I was looking through a box my parents gave me after a recent move that included my baby book. I am a second child and my mom recorded everything. This “word about me from Mom” part was the sweetest. I don’t think anyone has said such nice things about me since:

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Here’s a few words about Abbie from her mom at 14 months:

She adores her big brother and loves blowing kisses, even to the baby on the Huggies box. Her favorite toys are her dolls (her “babies”), cars, books, and anything that plays music. The girl LOVES to dance. If there’s a melody in an insurance commercial, she’s dancing to it. She doesn’t like fruit, but loves meat, veggies, and enjoyed her first mac-n-cheese so much that she sang and clapped between bites. She babbles like nobody’s business and has “Abbie speak” for Jed, doggies, and pointing and asking what things are. And every now and then (but never when I want to show her off) she says “hi” and “bye.” Jed says he doesn’t need any of his own toys in the playroom because she is his favorite toy:) He lives to make her laugh.

So when Abbie gets older and she gets her box of things from me, I can print out a copy of this post to go with all of her straight A report cards, awards, chastity belt, and such.

The ‘Charlie and Lola’ Dinner for Picky Eaters

My son and I both love the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child. He giggles at the silly things that Lola does, while I love the mixed media illustrations (and the excuse to use my bad British accent when reading aloud).

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The one that gets reread the most in our house — because it’s the only one we own — is I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. As you could guess, it’s about being a picky eater, something most every parent faces. (If you’re a parent and you don’t have this problem, keep it to yourself or everyone else will secretly loathe you. No one wants to hear about how your kid prefers edamame to ice cream.)

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In the book, Lola’s older brother Charlie cleverly tricks her into eating the foods she hates most: “Oh this isn’t mashed potato. People often think that but no, this is cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji.”

When we first started reading this book, Jed wasn’t eating half of the foods on Lola’s No Fly List. That’s when I suggested that we have a “Charlie and Lola dinner” one night.

Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters,  ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).
Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters, ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).

It was a total hit. For the first time ever, Jed ate all of his moonsquirters, orange twiglets, green drops, and cloud fluff (ocean nibbles are an easy sell in our house, but for the record he ate all of those, too).

There’s no recipe to share for this one — it’s just that easy.

Have you tricked your picky eater into trying (and even liking) new foods? Please share!

Father’s Day Craft — It’s Not Too Late!

It’s so great having a dad in your life who’s a cliche. There are so many more Father’s Day craft ideas out there when Dad loves fishing or golfing as opposed to say, handcuff collecting.

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Love might even be an understatement when it comes to my husband‘s relationship with fly fishing. So when it came to Father’s Day, I knew the only thing that would make him happy would be a day on the water. That, and an adorable handmade, heart-made gift from the two greatest little people in our lives:

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Thank you, Pinterest!

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