Friday, February 26, 2010

The Potty Training Chronicles: Volume 2, Days 6 & 7

I sat down with the intent to write a post about something other than potty training, but...

I've got nothin'.

This whole potty training business has really taken up the majority of my time and energy lately, so consequently, that is all I have on my mind at the present moment.

Although yesterday was not a good day on the potty training front (mostly due to the fact that he wore a pull-up all morning while we were visiting a local MOPS meeting and absolutely refused to go back to underwear when we got home....oh yes....I definitely forced the issue, but believe me, he was none too happy with me and went on to show his displeasure by peeing 3 times in his underwear within a 15 minute period), today has gone fabulously! In addition to having not one single accident yet today (knock on wood), he also spent a good 45 minutes on the potty chair in an effort to produce his second big ole' Number 2! Wooo hooo!

I brought up the potty chair from our basement storage area a couple days ago because we were having issues with both kids needing to go at the same time. Even though it is a pain to clean out, I so prefer washing out the basin of the potty chair to changing nasty diapers. Plus, Zach seems to have much more success on the potty chair rather than the toilet...which is absolutely fine by me. As long as his underpants are dry and there's not pee all over the floor, I'm happy.

In celebration of a week of potty training success, we are going out to dinner tonight at our favorite pizza place--yay! I just hope the waitress doesn't ask if we are celebrating a special occasion because I'm almost certain Allie will recount the week's most important events. And, although I'm a pretty open person, I'm just not quite sure I want everyone in the restaurant to hear about Zach's poop. That's what I have a blog for, right?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Potty Training Chronicles: Volume 2, Day 5

I am certain God must have heard my desperate plea for encouragement.
How else can one explain the miracle of all miracles that occured in our bathroom today?
After approximately 25 minutes of reading books semi-silently on the potty, I was summoned to the bathroom by Zach insisting loudly, "Mommy, LOOK! LOOK!"to find....
drumroll please.....
A ginormous turd in the potty! WOOT! WOOT!
I believe we have reached a milestone.
And, we all couldn't be more happy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Potty Training Chronicles: Vol. 2, Days 3 & 4

I'm not feeling especially motivated today to write a witty post about Zach's potty training endeavors. Nothing is going necessarily bad or negative with the whole process. In fact, quite the opposite: I'm actually shocked at how well he is doing.

Although we are still having issues with poopy (ie--yesterday he came to me with a little frown on his face, looked me straight in the eye and simply said, "I'm sorry, Mommy. So, sorry." No mention of his poop-filled underwear, just an "I'm sorry" that pretty much melted his momma's heart), he has been peeing on the potty at least 90 percent of the time.

I was even more elated when he successfully used the toilet during his ECFE class this morning an proceeded to stay dry throughout the rest of the class, lunch at Wendy's and picking Allie up from preschool. Unfortunately, I didn't get him on the toilet fast enough when we got home (because Allie was occupying the seat) and his dry streak ended right there on the tiled bathroom floor while he was yelling at Allie to hurry up and be done (can someone remind me why I thought having 1 toilet in our house was not going to be a problem when we moved in four and a half years ago?).

Zach's teachers at ECFE were awesome in reinforcing our potty training progress, lavishing upon him praise after praise. The best part of the morning was when Ms. Norma asked him if he had to go to the potty and he politely responded, "No, I went potty last night." Ha!

Anyway, things are definitely going well here for Zach and his underwear.

However, I must have conveniently forgotten how much extra work and patience is involved in potty training...

how at least 85 percent of your day is spent reading books in the bathroom...
how the remaining 15 percent is spent cleaning up pee, poop, and doing laundry...
how singing the "Potty Song" in a public restroom doesn't seem all that out of the ordinary until you hear a chuckle from the neighboring stall...
how all of your errands take ten times as long to complete because you are required to locate and visit the restroom at every stop...
how the tears begin to ensue when the tinkle won't come and a jelly bean is refused...
how you have to lug around that silly plastic, portable, toilet seat with you everywhere you go...
how you somehow have to work in the whole idea of "aiming" the pee so that it doesn't spray everywhere...
how every time you sit down on the toilet yourself, the potty trainee insists that he has to use it at that very same moment...

Believe me, I could go on.

So, while Zach is doing amazingly well with the whole potty training process, I'm ashamed to admit that I am already fading fast (and it's only day 4-oh my!). Don't worry...I will not give up or give in by slapping a diaper back on his bum. However, I could definitely use some tangible encouragment today...specifically in the form of a big ole' whoppin' poop in the toilet and not smashed between my two year old's rear end and underwear.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Potty Training Chronicles: Vol. 2, Days 1 & 2

The rewards have been strategically placed:
The chart has been hung:

The Jelly Beans have been purchased:
And the Battle of Excrement Placement has officially begun.
On Saturday, war was declared. The beginning of the end of diapers is definitely on the horizon for this household. And, when such an official declaration is made, there is absolutely no turning back.
Immediately following Zach's afternoon nap on Saturday, mostly because the adults in this household absolutely cannot stomach changing even one more disgusting diaper full of squishy, rancid, toxic waste-reminiscent poop, we calmly explained the strategy to the boy:
No more diapers. At all. Period (well, with the exception of night time...I'm not that crazy...yet).
Then, we proceeded to equip him with the necessary tools: Lightening McQueen underwear.
After about an hour of dry calm, the inevitable raging storm hit. In the form of pee...all over Lightening McQueen. However, this time, unlike previous attempts, Zach actually recognized the fact that his body was emitting the pee and before it was completely running down his legs, he made it to the bathroom where he mounted the porcelain throne and finished the deed.
After a huge celebration, complete with all four of us jumping up and down, clapping, hooting, and hollering, a round of jelly beans was shared as Zach placed his very first sticker on his reward chart. We then pulled out a new pair of clean underwear-Thomas underwear, to be exact.
Determined to complete the entire row of stickers in an effort to win the first color-changing car, in addition to consuming more jelly beans than I originally thought humanly possible, Zach spent most of the afternoon and quite a lot of the evening atop the pot where he proceeded to pee several more times.
Accidents were frequent (and quite the puddle created in his booster seat at the dinner table), but he persevered and proved victorious! Color changing Chick was won and he definitely achieved far more wins than losses. The smile on his face as he flushed the final pee of the evening down was priceless. The boy was so proud (and his parents even step closer to diaper freedom!).
This morning, Zach's enthusiasm for the toilet had not wained. A new prize awaited (color changing Ramone) and he was definitely hungry for more jelly beans. However, a new obstacle reared its ugly head: The Big Number Two.
Thankfully, Zach has some experience recognizing his poop and has been informing us of its occurence for at least the past few months. However, when he informs us of the advent of Nubmer Two while wearing underwear, a slight sense of panic and dread takes over as I contemplate the disgusting nature of having to scrape poop off of underwear, legs, and buttox.
Lucky for us, this morning when the proclamation was made, there was only a little peanut-sized turd hanging from his little bottom and when we placed him on the potty, he pushed the rest of it out ASAP. H-A-L-L-E-L-U-J-A-H!!! As we celebrated this newest victory, Zach peered into the potty between his legs and happily declared, "There's my poop! My poopy in the water! Look! My Poopy!" Jelly beans for all and a sticker was placed.
And, I was on cloud nine. I could taste was so close.
Throughout the morning Zach kept on peering in the potty, asking about his poopy, and was saddened by the fact that it had been flushed down. I'm not quite sure why he felt so connected to that one little turd, but he was. And, I was grateful it had made it in the toilet.
Later in the morning, while I was in the kitchen cutting up some veggies for lunch, we had one close call where I heard him cry "PEE" and thought for sure he had gone in his pants. Upon further inspection, however, I realized he was completely dry. So, we proceeded to the pot where he got every last drip of pee out! Yay! More jelly beans and another sticker followed.
And, then, about a half hour later, the bomb officially dropped. While we were downstairs changing the laundry, I heard those three cursed words. POOPY. IN. UNDERWEAR.
And, sure enough, there was a big load of poopy in that underwear. Poor Mickey Mouse was completely covered in poopy, as were Zach's legs and most of his butt. I will spare you the rest of the disgusting details, but suffice it to say that Zach was equally as grossed out as I was (which I'm hoping is enough to remind him to get the nasty stuff in the potty the next time around).
One more pee accident and two more pee jackpots brought us to lunch time. Then, we armed him with a Disney Princess Pull-Up (my apologies, but they were left over from Allie and I figure we can use them up here at home. Plus, he was actually pretty excited about Cinderella!) and put him down for a nap.
I'm not sure where the rest of the day will lead, but I am confident of a few things:
#1. Zach can actually recognize the urge to pee and poop.
#2. Zach is fully capable of making it to the potty in time to pee...I'm still not as positive about the poop yet.
#3. Zach will do absolutely anything for a sticker, a few jelly beans, and the promise of a new car.
#4. If he poops in his underwear again, I think I'm just going to hose him down in the utility sink.
Tune in again soon for the next installment of The Potty Training Chronicles, Volume 2.
For the original Potty Training Chronicles, visit these links:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kalahari Recap

Our family vacation last week to Wisconsin Dells to stay in the Kalahari Resort was officially a huge success! Because it was our first ever family vacation with just the four of us (most of our vacations have been with extended family), both Ben and I were a little hesitant about how things would go. We knew that the kids would have fun, but we just weren't sure how much fun we'd have managing our over tired, over sugared, and over stimulated kids all by ourselves without the help of grandmas, grandpas, aunts, or uncles.

However, I'm happy to report that we all had an equally fun time! Although the kids definitely had their more difficult moments, for the most part they were incredibly well behaved and definitely had the time of their lives.

At home I usually keep the kids on a pretty structured schedule, but at Kalahari all schedules went out the window. We stayed up late, we slept in late, we swam and went down water slides to our heart's content, we didn't get around to eating lunch until late, we completely skipped all nap times, we watched TONS of cartoons, we had dessert every single night, we ate pizza until we couldn't breathe, we said 'yes' to most all of the kids' requests, and we all just enjoyed having fun together.

Because, at the last minute, we decided to leave a day early for our vacation, we had two rooms for the duration of our stay. Although the first room was nice, we all preferred the second room because it was closer to the main lobby of the hotel, most of the restaurants, and all the water park action. In addition to the water park, Kalahari also has a nice indoor theme park that we were able to take advantage of thanks to a great deal on a room package (complete with dinner vouchers, breakfast voucher, free bowling games, and theme park passes) we were able to snag as part of a February sales promo.

On Friday, it was quite apparent that both the kids were sad to see the vacation come to an end. Allie spent the majority of the day trying to convince us that we should just pick up and move to Kalahari permanently and Zach, upon the mere mention of the word "Kalahari," immediately responded, "Go back there now!"

Although a permanent move to WI Dells is not in our anticipated future plans, I do think that we will definitely consider visiting Kalahari again!

Here are both kids on the first of many animal sculptures at the hotel:
I'm quite certain that there is nothing cuter than 2-year old chubby feet crammed into a pair of Lightening McQueen flip flops. Note the matching Lightening McQueen swimsuit (as well as the coordinating Lightening McQueen shirt that is not pictured).

Here is Allie on our first day, prior to going to the water park. Can you tell she's a little excited?

Note Allie's excitement and Zach's hesitation in the picture below. Although Allie was a fan of the water slides from the beginning, it took Zach longer to warm up to the whole fling-my-body-down-a-wet-tube-into-splashing-water-below idea. However, by the end of vacation, Zach couldn't get enough of the raft slides, proclaiming at the end of each one..."DO IT AGAIN!"

And, here we have the kids riding a gorilla outside one of the restaurants in the hotel's lobby:
This would be a picture of Zach kissing the gorilla. He now has a cold. Hmmm...wonder why that would be?

Striking another pose in the hotel's lobby:
Here's some shots of Allie, our self proclaimed mermaid, frolicking in the water:

And, here's Zach. This was still the first day, so Ben was trying to convince him that the slide would be fun. We spent a lot of that first day in the lazy river together...which he loved. However, he did not like getting splashed by the waterfalls while sucking his thumb and lounging across me and the tube, so instead of lounging myself, I was constantly trying to steer us away from all the water hazards.

Here's when Zach finally decided he LOVED water slides!

See...he's arching his back because he doesn't want to get out of the raft!

After a day full of activities, Zach was completely zonked out in 2 seconds flat: Everyday, there was free cookies to decorate in the lobby. Here is Allie's creation:
And, what would a true vacation be without yummy dessert? Allie and Zach both picked these chocolate covered marshmallow pops from the candy shop in the lobby.

What a fun vacation. I guess I'm a little sad that it's already over too. Maybe we should just pick up and move there after all.

A Belated Valentine's Day Post

I realize I am an entire week late in posting about our Valentine's Day Breakfast festivities, but since we were on vacation this past week I didn't have a lot of time to sort through and edit photos. So, even though Valentine's Day seems like a lot longer than a mere 7 days ago, I just couldn't bring myself to pass up the opportunity to post pictures of our holiday breakfast-complete with decadent, hand dipped, chocolate covered strawberries...

...heart shaped, peanut butter topped toast, cherry cheesecake yogurt, and pink milk. All served on pink and red platters.

Both kids were thrilled with the sugar-laden, heart-shaped, chocolate feast.

But, both of them agreed that the chocolate covered strawberries were the best part of the meal!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things Learned on Vacation

Right now the kids are watching Sponge Bob (a nice treat since we don't have extended cable at home) in our African-themed suite, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some pics ( we are having a bit of technical difficulty with the picture posting and since I've just been informed that everyone is hungry for dinner, I'll work on those pics later) and a list of things we have learned so far from our stay here in Wisconsin Dells.

1. A February family vacation to an indoor water park should definitely become an annual tradition.

2. Bowling with both kids is surprisingly a ton of fun. The boys in our family are much better bowlers than the girls, though. I did bowl a personal best (including a strike, but still somehow did not manage to break 100!), but Zach and Ben were still able to beat me. Lucky for me, Allie's complete lack of coordination, in addition to an inherited absence of bowling ability, allowed me to escape my typical last place position.

3. It is entirely possible for a 32 pound 4-year old to take up approximately 3/4 of a king size bed, leaving the remaining 1/4 of the king size bed for her two parents to share.

4. Allie is the daredevil of the family, enthusiastically embarking upon every single water slide possible. Zach, on the other hand, always the more cautious of the two, is just starting to warm up to the idea of the water slides. His favorite slide: one that we nicknamed "The King" for its blue tube that reminded us of "The King" from "Cars."

5. Vacation isn't vacation without lots of yummy food that I don't have to cook, complete with dessert (I even got German Chocolate cake!).

6. Allie may have a future in ceramics. Her hand painted vase is sure to become a treasured family heirloom.

7. Apparently, kids will sleep really well after walking up innumerable flights of steps and flying down water slides all morning long.

8. Leaving a day earlier than we originally planned was by far the best idea we've had in a long time.

9. Four words: Lazy River. Hot Tub.

10. Wearing flip flops and splashing through warm water is far better than wearing snow boots and trudging through the snow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Allie's Version of Sledding

When your backyard does not have a good sledding hill and your little brother completely refused to go outside to play in the snow (read...severe, SEVERE tantrum) because it is physically impossible for him to walk in over a foot and a half of accumulated white crap fluff, a girl has no other choice but to get creative.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Cards

My other favorite part about Valentine's Day is the Valentines themselves. In the past we've made our own Valentines, but this year we opted for the boxed versions at Wal-Mart. At first, I felt bad about not taking the time to come up with cute home-made Valentine designs for the kids to create, but quickly realized after they both sat down to decorate their store bought Valentines that they really didn't care whether I had spent hours in preparation for their cards or not. Actually, they were both pretty pleased about the fact that Disney characters adorned their personally chosen cards and that they could use their own markers, stickers, and stamps to decorate them in any way they chose.
I assumed that Allie would complete her cards in a few sittings. She did have 34 cards total, all of which needed to be signed with her name and decorated to her heart's desire. In addition to her first ever preschool Valentine exchange, we are also invited to a friend's birthday/Valentine's Day, we definitely needed all 34 of her cards completed!
To my surprise, Allie sat diligently working on her Valentines until every last one was complete. I'm pretty sure it took her almost an hour and a half, but she was adamant about doing them all at once. Zach, on the other hand, was done after about 7 Valentines and 10 minutes (which, for the record, is the absolute longest he's ever sat to color or decorate anything!).

Valentine's Day Treats (Part 2)

I got the idea for our second Valentine's treat from J Mom at A Tidy Little Mess. She made her treats for Christmas, but I thought they could easily be adapted for Valentine's Day.
This time around, we took regular pretzels, laid them out on cookie sheets, and then placed rolos on top:

After all the Rolos were placed, we posed for a quick photo-op before popping the cookie sheets in the oven. Then, when the Rolos were soft, we took the cookie sheets out and quickly placed our Valentine's colored M&M's on top: The end result was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that they have all been consumed and we have none left to enjoy on Valentine's Day. No worries, though. I have some leftover chocolate and strawberries were on sale at Super Target today....

Valentine's Day Treats (Part 1)

I love Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, for many Valentine's Day cynics, February 14 is merely an over commercialized day in the middle of February where greeting card companies, candy stores, and florists attempt to suck the life and money out of you. Although I now understand such views, in my defense, I have loved Valentine's Day for as long as I can remember. Which means my affinity for the day began far before I even understood the concept of commercialism and profit.
Simply stated, for me Valentine's Day is pure fun. The explosion of red and pink hearts everywhere I look in the month of February always brightens my mood that has been long stifled by the many gloomy, dreary days of January. I especially look forward to the cute (and most often, chocolate) Valentine's goodies that we can whip up in our kitchen.
We got a head start on those chocolate goodies last weekend when we made two different kinds of chocolate Valentine pretzel treats.
For our first treat, we gathered our ingredients--small pretzel rods, melted chocolate, an array of Valentine's sprinkles, and wax paper coated cookie sheets:

Then, we dipped the pretzel rods in the melted chocolate: Rolled the chocolate dipped pretzels in the Valentine's sprinkles:
And placed them on a cookie sheet to harden:

It's a good thing that the creation of these treats wasn't messy:The kids had a blast creating these Valentine's confections and the best part was that they could (for the most part) do it all by themselves. After we were finished with the pretzel rods we moved to our next pretzel treat....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Zach's Big Boy Bed

This past Saturday, after a brief discussion over our pizza lunch at Boston's, we decided a change to our house was in order.

Four and a half years ago we moved into this home, our first real house, and I can still remember spending an entire afternoon putting together the crib, changing table, and dresser that would furnish our newly baby-blue painted, safari-themed nursery. Bending over my 6-month pregnant belly to pound nails into their appropriate holes and finagle screws into their exact location was well worth the final result of what I thought to be the perfect nursery.

Although there was still three months time before our precious first born would make his or her (not knowing if our baby was going to be a him or her was not by our choice, but instead our first born's reluctance to give our sonagrapher a good enough peek) entrance into the world, he or she had a concrete place in our new house, a room of his or her own. And, I remember thinking how real the whole baby-on-the-way thing finally seemed (as if the back pain, swelling, ginormous stomach, and alien abdominal movements weren't enough physical evidence for me) now that I could picture where exactly he or she would sleep, where I would change his or her diapers, where I would rock him or her to sleep, and where I would store his or her green and yellow wardrobe.

When our first born's due date came and went, I recall waddling into his or her new room, sitting on the glider, taking in the calming pastel giraffes and zebras, smelling the scent of newborn diapers mingled together with the aroma of Dreft and Vaseline, gently rubbing my tummy, and wandering what in the world could be keeping our little baby from delaying his or her delivery so long when he or she had such a beautiful nursery to come home to.

And even though I was convinced I would be pregnant forever, a mere 5 days later we brought Allie back to her first home and her very first room where she would spend approximately 18 months of her life. And, after those 18 months, even though our growing toddler was finally big enough for a big girl bed, the crib stood firmly in its place, awaiting Zach's arrival 4 months later.

Now, two years after I first laid my son into that very same crib, it has become obvious that Zach is definitely old enough for a big boy bed. With no expected arrival of a new baby in the near future, the crib that has been the centerpiece of our perfect nursery for as long as we have called this house our home needed to go.

I actually didn't realize I had it in me to be this sentimental over a piece of baby furniture, but there was just something so surreal about taking apart the crib and putting it in the basement storage area with all of the rest of the baby paraphernalia.

That crib was the one piece of furniture that seemed to declare to all who entered our home that not only were we new parents who had no idea what we were doing while functioning in a sleep deprived stupor, but it also provided the strongest visual statement as to why our shelves had gone undusted or why the bathroom wasn't as sparkling as it used to be.

For me, I guess the crib stood as a sort of symbol depicting the change in our family, from husband and wife to mom and dad with baby. And, in a way, that crib was also a reminder of just how much my life changed when I became a mom...of just how much more difficult and complicated life becomes with the introduction of a new human being into the world that you are responsible for...but how I wouldn't ever change a thing, knowing what I know now about true selflessness and contentment, happiness, joy, and love. That crib served as a daily reminder to me that the best and most rewarding things in life often begin as the most difficult and most painful.

While I'm definitely excited to see our little boy growing into a big boy, it is also strange to think that a lot of those "baby days" with him are behind us. But, as we say goodbye to this one stage of life, we eagerly anticipate the next, knowing that there are still exciting moments and happy memories waiting to be made.

Since we weren't exactly sure what type of bedroom set we wanted to purchase for Zach, we ended up deciding on a toddler bed for now, figuring that would give us a couple more years to make up our minds. We also rearranged the existing furniture in his room, taking out the changing table and the glider in addition to the crib, and purchasing a new toy storage unit so that he has more floor space to actually play. Also, I wasn't quite ready to part with the jungle safari theme, so this seemed a good option to stretch our wall decor just a little bit longer.

Zach, our go-with-the-flow, mellow, easily-adaptable-to-change little boy, was more than excited about his new room. He couldn't wait for a chance to finally have a big boy bed of his own and was ecstatic that it would also be adorned with Lightening McQueen sheets and comforter.

After the bed was assembled, both Zach and Allie were happy to give me a hand with the sheets:

Here is the new toy storage unit we got for his room that has definitely been a lot more functional than my make-shift organization efforts. I also purchased some plastic drawers for the closet to help with clothes storage, but I didn't take pictures of those.

Even though Zach is not usually one to pose for pictures, he was incredibly eager to pose next to his new bed. Look at his grin! I don't think I've seen him this excited about anything before (well, other than dinnertime, Lightening McQueen, or Thomas the Tank Engine).

Saturday evening I wasn't that concerned about him sleeping in his bed. We had skipped naps that day and I knew he would be completely exhausted. And, sure enough, approximately 7 minutes after his head hit the pillow, he was completely out for the entire night. He was so proud the next morning and when we asked him if he wanted his crib back he loudly declared, "NO! Zach has a big boy bed now! With Lightening McQueen!"

I knew the real test would come the next day during nap time. Zach has not been sleeping well at all for naps the past few months, spending most of nap time jumping in his crib, kicking the wall, throwing all his stuffed animals out, so I thought for sure he would be up and down for the duration of nap time. Also, I remembered how awful the crib to bed transition had been with Allie and how she was up and down at least ten times a night, if not more, and I fully braced myself for the same type of behavior with Zach.

Oh how different our two children are.

I know it has only been less than a week, but we have had no issues whatsoever with Zach getting up at night or at nap time. Not only that, but he has been falling asleep much quicker and staying asleep longer now that he is in a bed as opposed to the crib. I'm still not positive that we are in the clear yet, but so far, I'm thankful for the incredibly easy transition.

Even though the crib is now tucked away in the basement and I'm still feeling a little bit of nostalgia over its somewhat sudden disappearance, when I peek into his room and see Zach all cuddled up underneath his covers of his big boy bed, still sucking his thumb, I know that I can relax because I'm pretty sure Zach isn't quite done being the baby just yet.