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Sunday, October 31, 2010


ready to hit the streets. fever? cough? no sweat.

the fairy princess

brave sir knight ringing the doorbell

not bad for 20 minutes of charming!

and the sugar kicks in...

let me show you my magic

sampling the loot. my heart is actually pounding...

a (tired) ode to motherhood

Last night the hooligans were awake from 1-4am.

They are sick, so I am not really allowed to be grumpy about it. The poor little buggars were sick last week too though, got over it, and now fevers and raspy coughs. What the heck man?

I am not ALLOWED to be grumpy, but of course it still bites.

Especially when you are fighting off sickness too.

Because, you know how it is, mamas are not allowed to be sick. EVER. (Even if I shiver as I type, wrapped in a fleece bathrobe. I AM NOT SICK. I get freaked out at this stage of a sickness, - possibly even borderline hypochondriac - because you don't know how bad the impending sickness is going to be. The flu from hell? Or just a little sinus infection? Who knows. As a Type-A it's the not-knowing that freaks me out.)

And why can't you be sick? Because being sick is against the laws of motherhood. That oath you sign when your baby gasps its first breath and wails its first wail.

You. No. Longer. Matter. …well, not as much, anyway.

Priorities shift. Some more slowly than others but they do.

It's amazing how this happens.
At first babies sound fun and sweet and simple. Get a cradle. Get a sling. Get on with life. Right?


You bring the little bundle home, blinking and cooing at the new world, and you wrap them up and put them in their bed and you can’t sleep for fear that you will miss your cue to feed and the little thing next to you snorts and grunts all night and you lay your hand on their tiny chest and pray to God that they will sleep and that they will remember to breathe (and that you too will remember to breathe and also sleep.)

And you wake up in the morning and you do it all again.

And they start rolling and laughing and gurgling and you panic over falling down stairs or finding a penny in their mouths (or in their diapers!) And the joy and fun of it all astounds you from moment to moment.

And they start walking and the dangers of life multiply. And you hope to go out and have a drink with other adults but what if you miss something?

And then they start to play with other kids at the playground and a whole new world of parenting opens up. Negotiating these tenuous playground relationships, and with other parents too.

And the challenges multiply. And the need for other things in your life besides playdates and mac and cheese suddenly comes to a head and you try to do things to reclaim your sense of self. Yoga. Writing a book. Going back to work. Whatever it is. You miss yourself. You wonder who that self is.

But then you find yourself at 3am rubbing Vicks on your little man’s strong four-year-old chest. “Breathe baby, breathe.”

And then he rolls in a ball and nestles into your arm, his hot forehead pressed against your cheek, and you know.

Yes, I don’t really matter.

And you are okay with that.

And you are a mother.

P.S. and yes of course we are still taking them trick or treating because to keep them home would be cruel. Pics to follow.
Saturday, October 30, 2010

Anti-recipe #18 peanut butter chocolate refrigerator cookies

little man was a real fan of the powdered sugar
element of these cookies...
Some people call these mudballs. Snowballs. I have also heard, er, poop cookies, but I find that somewhat, well, distasteful (HA). I have also heard of pressing a chocolate chip in these and calling them eyeball cookies.

We used to make these as kids. And really its genius. Ball up a bunch of yummy things. Roll it all in powdered sugar. Eat.

And I had a sweet tooth this week. And we had a bunch of yummy things. But I didn’t want to eat straight up cookies (GLUTEN). So. Time to revive the fridge cookies.

Here is what we did.

½ cup or so of peanut butter…I used whatever was left in the peanut butter jar. May have been more like 2/3 cups.
Add some coconut oil, ¼ cup should do it.
A handful or two of chocolate chips.

Throw this in the microwave. Stir it up.

Add some powdered sugar, like ½ cup-ish until the mixture is ball-able. I also added some rolled oats to try and glue it all together. Just a handful or so.

Now, add whatever yummy things you like. I threw in some shredded coconut, more chocolate chips, and some peanuts. You could add dried fruit or nuts or whatever you can imagine.

Your little tyke can now participate in the fun part. Rolling the balls in powdered sugar. A messy sticky sweet process which will likely require you to re-mop the whole kitchen floor. Little miss ate her weight in chocolate chips while my hands were sticky helping little man. Lucky girl.

Place the rolled cookies on a cookie sheet and let harden in the fridge. Store in airtight container…but I imagine you will eat them up before that is necessary. (And I say you because as a confession my super picky 4 year old wasn't pleased with the whole coconut thing. Neither is dada. Fine. More for me.)
Thursday, October 28, 2010

what's in your parenting toolbox?

So I have had this post in the making for quite some time. The title staring at me, all ominous like -

“Parenting Toolbox”

- which would imply that I have such a toolbox at my ready for say when little man smacks sister across the face because “she was laughing in a mean way” or when sister screams “NOOOO my MAMA!” when little man tries to sneak in a cuddle.


Not so much.

a bad picture. but a nice moment.
I am at that “feeling inadequate” phase – AGAIN. Just when you think you have it figured out. You figure out you don’t…have it figured out…and then you have to start figuring it out all over again.

Such is parenting.

There are though, things that do work.

So in an effort to make myself feel better, and to remind myself that I have in fact learned things about parenting in the past four years, and that I do – somewhat – know what I am doing, sometimes, I am going to make a list.

First, as a general parenting philosophy. We are a no-spank, limited time-outs kind of family. We aim more for instruction rather than “discipline” per se. Time outs are for extreme situations (Smacking sister in the face for laughing, for example) not for the small time offenses (not picking up when told to pick up, etc) and not for small children (I really firmly believe that young children, even till age 3 or 4, have a hard time distinguishing actions and consequences and managing their responses appropriately. A frustrated, tired toddler WILL take a swing at you or a sibling from time to time. We say “No hit, gentle hands, gentle touches” and leave it at that.)

But, everyone has their own philosophy because every family is different.

In any case, if you are interested (which I imagine you are if you are reading this blog, HA) here is what is in our Parenting Tool Box:

1) It’s all about framing your message.

Say NO! only when you really need to.

Like, when your kid is running out into the street to get a ball or is about to throw said ball at little sisters skull. Overusing NO! makes kids more likely to tune it out.

Use “May” instead of commanding. “You MAY go pick up your toys before bed now.” “You MAY play with your own toy car, give your sister’s back to her.” BUT be firm about things in which there is no option.

When you TELL your kid “Pick up your toys.” “Give your sister back her toy NOW.” your kid instantly goes on defense. Great, what do I HAVE to do now.

But then, sometimes you need to be firm. I am totally guilty of too often saying “please, can you….get in the tub…get in your car seat…PLEEEEEEASE!!!” But with some things, starting from a point of no argument is important. When you need to go to the store they need to get in their carseat. Period. You know what I am saying?

2) Have fun with parenting.

Humor diffuses tough situations so well, in life and in parenting. Your child is whiney and crabbing and you sense a meltdown soon. You make a funny face and attack their bellies with tickles. Pretty soon they are laughing hilariously, instead of the whiney cry that was about to be let loose.

Every now and then get down on their level and remember what it was like to be as high as the kitchen counter. When you laid on the floor and raced cars around the house. When you stacked cups and knocked them down. When you laid in the grass and looked at ants crawling in the sunlight. Remember? Remember that magic? Every now and then its good to remember.

Music is soothing and can get a kid to do about anything. Sing about putting on your socks and shoes. “This is the way we put on our socks, put on our socks, put on our socks, etc etc… before we go to school.” Sing about putting away the toys. “This is the way we put away toys, etc. etc” Sing about eating broccoli (a still popular song at our house. “Broccoli, broccoli, everyone loves their broc. Let’s do a broccoli dance, let’s do a broccoli dance, let’s turn around like this and wiggle in our pants!” Yes, I still sing it. But, it has paid off. They LOVE broccoli!)

This is a great book that talks a lot about these kinds of techniques, also about the development of children from infancy through school years. A great read.

3) Give options when it doesn’t really matter, but limit choices so the kid isn’t overwhelmed.

For example: “Do you want toast or cheerios for breakfast?” Not “What do you want for breakfast.” To which they will reply “FRUIT SNACKS!”

Giving them two reasonable options lets them feel in control but doesn’t overwhelm them with limitless options (like that feeling you get when you go to DSW. All you want is a new pair of sandals. There are HUNDREDS of pairs of sandals! AHHHH!! RUN AWAY! But going to Target where you have six options is much more reasonable.)

4) Be a yes mom.

For example: You are getting ready to run errands. Your child wants to wear his Batman cape, a tie, and fluffy slippers. You had laid out a nice matching ensemble. Take a deep breath and say it. Um. Sure. Why not?

Again: You are trying to get the dishes done before dada comes home (for once) you find it too quiet in the living room and go to investigate. Your children are pulling all the cushions off the couch and chairs and creating a tent city in your living room. Deep breath. Um. Sure. Why not? (Although, I add – YOU HAVE TO PICK IT UP.)

See where I am going with this? It’s easy to say no, it seems. But really, it’s easier to say yes. (And more fun, usually.)

5) Always give your kid (and yourself) an out.

This was a huge one for us. Its easy to have too high expectations on our kids which then leads to us to becoming frustrated when they don’t live up to our (unreasonable) standards. If you allow them an out of the situation, well, 1) it’s really nice of you, and 2) it prevents a lot of frustration and turmoil.

For example: We all have moments where we say things like "If you don't stop whining at me about not getting a Happy Meal, I am gonna....umm...THROW YOUR NEW SWORD IN THE GARBAGE." or “If you don’t finish all your food on your plate you can't have any dessert...EVER.” But then you are at a birthday party and your kid doesn’t eat well when they are overwhelmed and you know this and you regret saying it. So, amend your unreasonable threat “if you eat four bites, because you are four, THEN you can have some cake.”

Also, redirecting your child's attention is really key when the shit is about to hit the fan, so to speak. "Hey, hey, lets stop whining about your Happy Meal and sing a song, or hey, I know, can you play the I-SPY game with me!? I was just, er,  joking about the sword thing. Yea. Umm. Sorry dude."

(Also, apologizing to your kid as necessary is quite often a good thing. See modeling behavior below.)

little man helped make refrigerator cookies
yesterday which resulted in powdered sugar
all over the newly washed kitchen floor.
here he is helpfully licking it off himself. HA.
6) Incorporate your child into your daily routine.

Kids can sweep, dust, wash dishes, help cook. Let them be part of your life. It puts such a sense of pride in them when they announce to dada that they washed the whole kitchen floor.

And, they CAN.

And they LIKE IT.

Seriously, try it.

7) Think through your day and how it will affect your kid – plan accordingly. Have plans in place for things going awry.

For example: You have a full day ahead of you with errands, doctor appointment and then a birthday party. You KNOW that by the time you get to the birthday party your kid is going to be tired and crabby.

So you can, A) cancel the doctor appt in favor of an hour at the park B) do errands the next day in favor of quiet time at home or C) anticipate a short stay at the birthday party and leave BEFORE your child starts to fall apart when they don’t get the piece of cake with the most frosting, etc.

And then, when the day or activity gets too overwhelming for your child, alter the situation BEFORE the meltdown. It’s much easier to explain removing your child from a loud gathering for a quiet walk outside than it is to pry your screaming child from the table and run outside in retreat.

8) Recognize the kind of kid your child is and the kind of person you are – parent accordingly.

I was really transformed after reading “Raising your spirited child” this past year. The author refers to spirited children as those that are more intense, more energetic, more persistent, more perceptive, and more sensitive than the average kid (all my little man). This can be good (he feels so for people! He is passionate!) and it can be maddening (the drama! The mood swings! The irregular sleep! The picky eating! ).

And it is especially intensified when the child is parenting by a spirited parent (Uh, yea? Who me?) or two (yes, you dada.) I would totally recommend this book if you are in the same boat.


And the crazy thing is about this, with child #2 (or #3 or etc) your parenting style and tactics will need to change. They are different so you will have a different parenting relationship with them! (Fun times huh??)

9) Ease transitions by setting up expectations for your child.

Today we are doing, x, y, and z. Here is how it will affect you. It may sound silly but even from an early age a child appreciates this.

And then, as each activity happens, remind your child of your expectations from them. “Here we are at the park. We are staying for an hour. What is our rule little man?”
“No screaming and crying when we leave.”
“When I say its time to go, its time to go. I will tell you when we have ten minutes left.”

I have said this speech one hundred million times at this point. Seriously. ONE HUNDRED MILLION TIMES.

10) Model the behavior you expect from your child.

I know I have posted on this before, but it really is key.

where my children are sitting as i type about
good parenting.
thought you would appreciate the irony...
This can go from the basic… “Here, little man, is how we shut the door quietly.” Guide his hand to the door, shutting it quietly. This, rather than the impulse of yelling “DON’T SLAM THAT DOOR!”

…or quietly singing and picking up the living room, as they fall in line to help like little ducks, rather than barking forty times “PICK UP PICK UP PICK UP.” Etc.

…or smiling at the lady who takes your parking spot in the grocery store rather than yelling and making a scene, because you will see that behavior again when your child throws a fit over some child at the park who swings in the swing they wanted to swing in and you have to embarrassingly pry your child lose from the swing chains and slink away in shame…

…to the more complex… Dada has been working a lot. The car is in the shop AGAIN. Mama is tired and stressed out. You can snap at your child and turn on the TV (guilty, as I type HA HA HA.) or you can turn on some dance music and smile. Life is good, really, it is.

11) Recognize that your child is the child and you are the adult.

Ooh. Sounds harsh I know.

But, we all know, it is really easy, after a long day, to think of a small child as just a miniature adult. But they aren’t. They are people in progress (well we all are really, but especially them.). Every now and then I find it helpful to sit on the floor at their level and talk things out. Or just hang out. Life is different down there. We need to recognize that. And then it hits you. Oh, you are really little. Sorry dude. I forgot.

Sometimes this perspective shift is key to understanding your child, or being more understanding of your child.

For example: You are sitting in a restaurant, feeling irritated about the slow service. Your kid is going nuts which is making you even more nuts. But hey, of course they are! If you are irritated with the slow food coming of course they are, and they have much less impulse control to be patient!

Or…you are feeling overwhelmed after a long day of travel to get to your in-laws and now you have to sit down for a family meal and politely eat and chat and your child starts throwing a fit saying all they want to do is watch a video. Well, heck, after a long day I would rather watch TV then chat politely at dinner sometimes too!

You see what I am saying.

So. I may need to amend later but these are some key things for us. What works for you?

Gee, I do feel better. Maybe I know a thing or two.


Time to turn off the TV and go wash dishes together. And yes little man, you can use extra soap.

Happy parenting mommies (and dadas too)!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anti-recipe #17 windy day crockpot beef stew

So. Really you can’t go wrong with beef stew. Especially if you follow two rules. 1) Use good quality meat. 2) Don’t overdo it. By that I mean, keep it simple. Don’t get all fancy. Dada loves to get fancy. He can do it though because, well, he knows food. I try to get fancy and I inevitably ruin the meal. So, like they say, K.I.S.S. is best (keep it simple stupid. HA)

Here is how I made super duper yummy stew that ALMOST caused a house riot over who got seconds, thirds and leftovers. (The early bird sister won the leftovers! HA.)

All of this goes in the crockpot, I cooked mine from noon – 6, at first on high then on low.

Chopped up half an onion, roughly
Chopped up two carrots, roughly
Chopped up 6-8 potatoes (medium-ish size)
Chopped up 1 steak into 1 inch cubes (dada says, that is too nice a piece a meat to use for stew! I say. PERFECT.)
Fill up with water. (I actually removed 2 cups of liquid after awhile to make sure it cooked down and wasn’t too soupy – I of course saved the yummy broth for soup another day, hmmm.)
Add salt and pepper and yummy herbs of your choice. (I added basil pureed in olive oil, and frozen in cubes for storage. I think dada added some rosemary. "Aromatics," he says, "it needs aromatics." Fancy pants.)

That is it. No tomatoes. No wine. No nothing.

Serve with buttered cornbread or a crusty loaf.

And yes, I wish I had some leftovers right now. (Although I was the one who took thirds so, I can't complain, insert winky face guy)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

today's zen parenting moment

I call this, who needs Playmobile anyway! (Although, if I had a spare one hundred bucks on me right now I might just go buy the Playmobile castle set for him, I admit.)

Little miss doesn't get to be in this zen moment post as she was pulling at my pants yelling out "MA MA MILK A MILK! MILK A MILK!" as I tried to take these pictures. I have escaped to a coffee shop to write. God bless my husband.

on swords and fairy wings

So this year we went, as always, to pick out Halloween costumes from our favorite thrift store.

Last year little man was an adorable little lion. We put whiskers on his face. He roared delightfully at every house we stopped at. He was perfect.

This year.

This year negotiating costumes was a bit more challenging.


little man with his "serious" face.
No, no wait look here. A SHIELD. A SWORD.



Now, like most moms I know we are a “no-gun-play” family. That is tricky enough.

But the whole sword thing is another matter.

For some reason knight play is less…just “less” I guess. Easier to swallow. They are noble. They are classic. They are not owned by Disney or Pixar. I knew at some point the day would come when we would have to relent.

Last year when someone gave him a pirate sword for his 3 year old birthday I gasped and quickly hid it from him. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I could just imagine him thwacking his baby sister on the head when he got mad. (In my own defense, 3 year olds really have very little control with something like that.)

Four year olds get it though. He gets that if he ever thwacks his sister over the head it goes in the garbage. Done. No discussion. And, we chase dragons with the sword, or go on missions to protect the kingdom, swords blazing high. We don’t fight EACH OTHER. Nobody is the bad guy. For days afterwards he asked “Why is it ok to play with swords now?” Well, I say, we know you are big enough to play without hitting. He pretends now, he has these worlds in his head and I am happy to contribute with some props.

I had prepped dada for this prior to our visit of course. He had adorably drawn pictures with his auntie, going over all his possible costume ideas. The knight (chasing a dragon outside of a castle) was clearly the big hit. And he adorably chose corresponding outfits for his little sister too. She was to be the princess to his knight.

And this is the thing, as he is picking out the shield and breastplate and tunic we talk about baby sister being his fairy princess. We find some wings for her. And a hat. And a frilly dress. My child that loves her pink sparkly shoes is going to be a fairy princess. Her brother is going to be a knight.

And then you get into that sticky place. And it makes me almost uncomfortable.

And seriously, I ask this.

Am I contributing to their roles in our family based on their gender? He, the protective big brother. She, the sweet little sister to be saved.

But it’s crazy because they are these stereotypes. I never would’ve believed that it could be hardwired so clearly into their little selves if I didn’t see it acted out every day.

He who is the active loud boy who builds rockets that shoot into space and the cannon and gun fascination (“What is a war mama?” he asks. SIGH. ) and the swords and the trucks and the football and the dada adoration.

little miss in her brother's old "supah-man" shirt.
 She is of the pink sparkly shoes (girlier than I ever was!) who rocks baby dolls to sleep and kisses their ears and eyes and noses and copies me putting on makeup (yes occasionally I do) and hugs stuffed animals and asks anyone who sneezes “Oh-Tay mama? Mama oh-tay?” “Yes, honey, mama is okay.”

But then, I tell myself. Had I had an older daughter and then a younger baby brother, she too would be protective of her baby sibling. And I as a child loved rocket ships and adventures and disdained girly lacey dresses (maybe this is why the gender role thing is hard to watch as it plays out in my children?)

And, I must remember. She too is opinionated and loud. “STOP IT.” She tells me as I try to lull her to sleep with a song. He never did that. I sang to him over and over again “Baby mine, don’t you cry.” He still loves mama to cuddle up to him to fall asleep. “Hold my hand mama,” he asks.

She is far more daring than he. Climbs without thinking. Runs without hesitation. She is adventurous. She is all out there. “Here is who I am! ME! Aren’t I GREAT?” She seems to ask the world. (And she is, of course.)

He can be timid. He is sensitive. He is passionate. Certain books made him cry as a child. Books that she doesn’t blink at. He still doesn’t like watching movies where people are mean or grumpy. “Mama,” he told me crying the other day after being upset by the fighting antics of Tom and Jerry “You should’ve watched me better!”

And I have to remember. They are children. Individuals. Little shiny pieces of soul to be nurtured. They are not “boy” or “girl.” They are their own selves. One likes sparkling pink shoes. One runs around with a sword. But that doesn’t define them. He may be the artist. She may be the doctor. But, then again, what does it matter? In fact. Not only am I am not going to define them by their genders but I am also not going to dissuade them against the pink sparkling shoes or the sword obsession. I want them to be them - the best “thems” they can be. I want them to be thriving helpful adults. Who love the world. Who love each other. Who find partners to love and cherish. Who contribute from their innermost beings to help make the world a better place. This is what I want.

My children are not to be boxed. Especially, by me.

So my little princess and little knight will go out trick or treating this weekend, just as they wish.

But of course the fairy may want to trade in her wand for a sword and she may refuse to wear her crown. And the knight may just hold mama’s hand extra tight as we walk by the scary decorations or try on his sister’s fairy wings, so he too can pretend to fly.

And I will happily oblige.
Monday, October 25, 2010

today i am blah

It is so funny how your mommying energy cycles.

Not ha ha funny, mind you.

my little stars.
I get all revved up for organizing and an hour of “school” time each day and projects and playdates and schedules and 30 minutes of writing EVERY DAY, GOSH DARNIT.

And then, and then, and then. Mama travels. Daddy travels. Babies get colds. Mama stops taking the time to get out. Energy wanes. Suddenly I find myself plopping babies in front of Pink Panther so I can do dishes in peace.

Yes, that is what it has come to, making time to do dishes in peace.

Although I must say I do find doing dishes to be somewhat therapeutic. The running water (loud enough to block out noises of children destroying the living room). The lovely geranium scented soap I just got from these people (local company, love them). Finally, a task I can complete! (Don’t put that dirty cup I missed in the sink!)

Today is a low energy day. An autopilot day. A watching Pink Panther kind of day. I managed a playdate. The kids were crabby though. Ok, one kid. (Little miss is rarely crabby.)

I came home and put in a load of laundry. Turned on Pink Panther. Swept the sand up around the basement floor and rearranged some boxes to make room for a little craft area in a corner of the basement. (I think I will hang up pictures down there too. Should be nice for winter. I am bracing myself.)

And now I am totally and completely without energy.

Zip. Zero. Nada.

And, I find myself once again longing for work and career ambitions and etc. Pendulum. Swinging swinging swinging.

And so I type.

I have two sisters staying with me right now. One to complete her schooling. Another to do politicking for two weeks.

I love it. The camaraderie. The stories from their days. But as they sit and talk about careers and work and colleagues. I think. I am so boring! I have nothing to talk about! Nothing to contribute to this conversation! Except what time dinner will be ready when they get home!

Hence the dreads.

My hair, at least, can be interesting. HA.

And so I do the dishes. And inhale the geranium. And love on my babies. And thank my lucky stars for their shining eyes.

And it is good.

The waxing and the waning is for a reason, I think, you know? To appreciate the season of life. To remember the sacrifices. (To remind your teenage children about them on occasion too. HA HA. I plan on doing a lot of that. Also, no dishes. YOUR TURN. HA.)

Back at it. Right?

Maybe time for a cup of tea.
Friday, October 22, 2010

sewing diapers

a little hand sewn pocket dipe.
So, to put it out there my diapering baby butts days are numbered (for now, of course - insert winky face guy - and I still haven’t done the potty training plunge, next month.) and my sewing machine is broken (WAH!) but…I wanted to put some resources out there for those of you who are entering into this big ole fun thing called mommyhood soon and are interested in sewing some dipes.

Sewing diapers is really kinda fun. It’s creative. It’s cheap. And once you know what you are doing you can finish a pocket diaper in 45 minutes. The perfect project for the busy/impatient mommy.

Basically this is what you need to know:

-  Seriously a great website. It has the picture by picture tutorials that I would do for you all, had I a sewing machine that worked. ALAS.

- materials. This is the tricky part. You can’t just buy the right kind of fabrics at JoAnn Fabric. You need PUL, which is a waterproof fabric, some good fleece (Malden Mills is great) and some kind of absorbent terry cloth or hemp fabric for the inserts, if you are doing pocket diapers. There are sites online where you can order these things. I was given a few pieces of PUL for my first few diapers and then bought some from an ad I found on Craigslist (a woman who sews diapers professionally was getting rid of excess material – I bought PUL, really nice fleece, bamboo velour - for fitted diapers - and some wool jersey - for a pull on wool cover and wool overalls) You can use lots of things to do make diapers cheaply however. Old fleece blankets do work. You can use jersey wool to make a cover, reclaimed from some old clothes. You can use doubled up fleece too for a cover. Washclothes work as inserts, folded and sewn in thirds. I cut up all kinds of old clothes to make diapers back in the day. (Some more successfully than others!)

- Tips. First go look at that website. Especially this page.  Ok. You back? She used to layers of fleece (in which you don’t even need PUL fabric) to make her pocket dipe. You can of course do one layer fleece and one PUL. But, rather than use colored PUL to make cute pocket dipes I take a cute print (flannel works really well) and cut it out and use it as the final layer. So, basically you have 1) print 2) PUL and then 3) fleece. You then sew the PUL and print layers together (treating them as one layer) and have the fleece be the other layer to form the pocket. Another great tip, to sew in the leg elastic - PLEASE use this trick - sew one end of the elastic in place, then the other end, and then stretch it out and sew into place. SO MUCH EASIER than trying to stretch it all into place and sew at the same time.


Are you totally lost?

I even kind of am.


I need to sew a dipe to show you all what I mean. Ok. Will do so (SEW, HA.) soon.

In any case. This can help you for now to get things started.

(Oooh, looking through baby pics to find photos of diapered butts makes me totally get a baby tiny, so sedentary... HA.)

today's zen parenting moment

giggling together in the stroller. SO CUTE when they have fun together
(So NOT CUTE when they run around the house chasing each other
Thursday, October 21, 2010

dread-age update

Honestly I haven't had much to say about this lately because, when I wake up in the morning looking like a rat made a nest in my hair, well, I didn't want to share those moments. HA.

Perfect example. Walked into my older sisters yesterday and my dear brother in law cocks his head to the side,  looks at me, and says in his booming voice. "Sara, What Happened To Your Hair??" HA HA HA. My sister rises to my defense. "Its dreads, is supposed to look like that." (Sort of) "Oh! Well, Hmm, Looks Nice."


my "before help" shot

That said, I decided to not go the salon route. 1) I am reading nasty things about wax and over-saloning your hair 2) if this is to be a low maintenance hair style why would I pay big bucks to go in and have someone "fix" my hair every few months. 3) I hear that it can take a year for dreads to come into their full glory or more, so I think I will take the opportunity to stretch my patience and just wait...(maybe...unless I freak out in a month and HAVE to get them fixed, in which case I take all of this back)

Instead I went to my mom's house yesterday and she and my sisters palm-rolled, smeared aloe, and used a crochet hook to try and make my hair look more like "real" dreads.

Definitely an improvement.

(And yes, I do realize the irony that a "low maintenance" hairstyle is making me totally obsessive about my hair.)

there was something perfect about my mother taking
a crochet hook to my head.


much more dreadlock-y looking...
but still a work in progress

final product

yes, yes, i believe she is chewing on my hair.


So, I am happy to report that the crispy pizza crust idea, based on that cracker recipe, worked!

YAY. Here is what I used:

2 ½ cups of this flour blend (made up of Sweet Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Sorghum Flour and Xanthan Gum)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup milk
1 egg
Shake of garlic powder
Shake of nutritional yeast

I didn’t add baking soda, unlike with crackers, because, er, I forgot. HA.

Smear a little olive oil on stone baking sheets. Press ½ of dough onto each sheet. Prebake at 350 for 20 minutes. Add toppings of your choice (we did cheese, for Mr. Picky-pants and chicken and blue cheese for us.) and bake until cheese is golden bubbly yummy-ness.

We determined the thinner crispier crust was better, but both were good.

Approved even by Mr. Picky-pants!

totally didn't tell him to do a thumbs up. isn't he great??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It has been awhile since I have confessed anything. I feel the need to purify myself.

So, here goes:

...I wore the same pair of yoga pants THREE DAYS in a row this week...even to bed. THREE DAYS. that has to be a new record for me. Although I did shower in there. Oddly enough I put the same pair back on after showering. Even though I had other ones clean. It's been that kind of week.

...speaking of laundry. I have a HUGE pile of clothes in my bedroom right now. HUGE. I am not sure if its dirty or clean or both. I am ignoring it.

...I just sent my husband out with the kiddies at hopes they fall asleep in the run an errand for me...(getting, er, more wine at Trader Joe's)

There. I feel much better.

G'night all!

gluten free crackers

So, I figured if I could replace crackers – to be eaten with soups, hummus, and our favorite snacky dinner of meat, cheese, pate, olives, etc. – well, then I would be ok.

You can buy good ones of course, we found these tasty ones by Nature’s Way or something like that. But they were $5 a box. For like 25 crackers. Ugh.

So I googled.

I found this great blog with this recipe. There are so many recipes out there for this sort of thing actually. My frustration is that you really have to combine forty-seven different kinds of flour to get just the right mix to form bread, cake, crackers, etc.

And you all know me. I am NOT into that much measuring.

So I did what I do best. Experimented.

I had to laugh at the kids Curious George episode yesterday. The scientist lady (what is her name? Oh yes, Dr. Wiseman. Love that. I always think she and the man with the yellow hat – who has NO NAME, weird – would make a cute couple) well, she was trying to bake a cake. She enjoyed the “creative process” of it and said recipes were boring. The cake was terrible. And then George and the others convinced her it was more like a scientific “formula” and then she was on board (“as easy as gene splicing” she says). I thought. That is totally me too. HA.

Anyway. Back to the crackers.

I found this flour by Namaste foods (of course that is the company that makes gluten free flour, HA, what is with gluten free and crunchy hippy-ness? It’s funny to me. I am totally falling further and further into it of course but its still funny. Although when we went to Whole Foods to get this flour I was aghast at people who were obviously doing all their normal shopping at the store. Do they know you can buy organic produce for half the price at regular stores? I mean, it kills me how expensive that store is, but anyway… Apologies for all the parenthetical typing. I obviously need more coffee.)

And, back to the flour. It is a mix of a few different flours. DIDN’T work for pancakes on Saturday, a sticky gummy mess, there are mixes for pancakes that we will try. But it makes AWESOME crackers.

So here is what I did.

Two and a half cups of above flour mix (or so, I didn’t really measure of course, you want to add the last half cup or so to get the right consistency, thicker than bread dough, more runny like cake batter). (And of course you could totally use regular wheat flour to create these...)
¼ cup (or so) of nutritional yeast
Dash salt (or two dashes)
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup milk (or so)
½ cup warm water (or so)
Dash garlic salt

You could throw in all kinds of other fun things – herbs, flax seeds, etc.

You will now have a sticky gooey mess on your hands. Pour some olive oil on your stone baking sheets, rub it around with your hands so your hands are covered too. Now glop ½ onto each and spread it out with your fingers, stretching it into place. The thinner the dough the crisper the cracker. Put into a preheated oven (350). The original recipe says bake for 23 minutes which is funny to me. But really I think it’s about spot on. Take out when the edges start browning. Cool on wire racks or, do what I do and rip open a paper bag. Voila cooling rack! They will crisp up as they cool. Store in airtight container. They lose their crisp fast. You can recrisp in the oven for a few minutes. Store longer term in the freezer and then crisp up in oven (or toaster oven! I miss mine…no counter space here though.)

I plan on using this to make a crisp pizza tonight. Here is hoping!
Monday, October 18, 2010

going gluten free

Here is the thing, I have been quietly changing my eating habits lately and as such, my foodie posts are going to change. And, I wanted to explain why (in case you wondered).

See, food and I have a complicated relationship. Only lately, in my late twenties/early thirties, have I truly enjoyed food. Mainly because, well, I have this super fun disease - Crohn’s disease. It sucks. When it is bad. Food equals pain, or it did. I was very very VERY sick from age 18-20, on and off. Then I had surgery at age 20. I felt better for awhile. Then a few years later (amidst grad school stress and not being so nice to my body – lets just say my daily norm was pizza bagels and coffee and cigarettes) I went on some hard core medicine that changed my life. I felt better. I could eat whatever I wanted, for a spell.

Then I started growing up. Hmmm. Maybe I should eat a little better. I started taking supplements. Probiotics. Cod liver oil. Both HUGELY important in feeling better.

And then, for some reason having babies cured me…for awhile. My body LOVES being pregnant. I can eat anything I want and feel no consequences of it. I also realize it has to do with how great I treat my body when pregnant. I avoid all crap food. I don’t drink. I take tons of supplements. I eat nourishing, nutrient rich food.

But now, little miss is growing up and the rose of babyhood is nearing its end, as are her nursing days. As such my body is starting to act up again. Tension headaches. Gut pain. Bad days. Not able to eat whatever whenever. I DON’T want to go back to those nasty medications.

And then, there is the Hashimoto’s (underactive thyroid) that debilitated me shortly after giving birth (now on synthetic thyroid supplement, which I hate to take but it has helped. One thing at a time. Although I am reading that gluten can trigger thyroid issues?? ACK! Its like my body is caving in on itself!)

So. Time for radical measures.

Gluten free.

Apparently gluten can really be toxic for a lot of people. It’s not just that some people are allergic. It’s that some peoples’ bodies can’t handle digesting it well. It’s literally toxifying their body. The list of symptoms of gluten sensitivities or gluten triggered problems include: Bloating and Gas troubles, Diarrhea or Constipation, Gastric reflux or heartburn, Tired, Exhausted, Lethargic, Weight gain, Weakness, Chronic Iron Deficiency, Dermatitis, Eczema or Bad Skin, Infertility, Runny Nose and Sinus Problems, Osteoporosis, Bones and Joint Pains, Feel Depressed And Moody, Find it Hard To Think Clearly, Headaches or Migraines, Poor Sleep, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Hyperactivity or Cranky, or Mental Health Problems.

Read more here.
So why is this? Here are some reasons from this article

- Humans don’t fully digest wheat. The undigested portions of wheat begin to ferment and causes bloat etc.
- Wheat is a pro-inflammatory agent. A pro-inflammatory agent is rapidly converted to sugar, causing a rise in the body’s insulin levels, causing a burst of inflammation at the cellular level, among other problems. [for me this is the issue I think. Hashimoto’s and Crohns are auto-immune disorders. Crohns is overactive inflammation in the intestines. Why add more inflammation for my body to fight off??]
- Wheat can cause leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a condition whereby stuff is leaking from your gut into your bloodstream — stuff that shouldn’t be there, such as toxins.
- Refined wheat has little nutritional value. Did you know that manufacturers actually have to enrich refined wheat because they’ve taken out all the nutrients? And even then, the wheat’s not that valuable, nutritionally speaking.
- Wheat is one of the top-eight allergens. Millions of people are allergic to wheat.
- Many people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, and don’t know it. So, how many people fall into this category? It has been estimated that 1 in 100 people has celiac disease — but most don’t know it. No one knows how many people have gluten sensitivity, but estimates are that it may be as high as 50 percent, or even 70 percent, of the population.

Read more here: [a really good but really long article]

Gluten free is essentially this – eliminating wheat, oat, rye, and barley. These ingredients hide in foods in a lot of ways though so you have to be careful. (from an above article - “Reading labels carefully is crucial. It's important to watch for "hidden" sources of gluten, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, and hydrolyzed plant protein. Also look for all derivatives of wheat, rye, oats, and barley, including malt, modified food starch, grain vinegars, some soy sauces, plus binders and fillers found in many foods and even medications and seasonings.”)

For a time I was pretty much gluten free. Any bread I ate was what I made, and I always soaked it overnight in whey to break down the gluten. (I can post on this later if there is interest. I need to start making this again for the kids.)

So I experimented with gluten free last week. I bought some TERRIBLE crackers that tasted like cardboard. Then I found some better tasting ones. I created gluten free meals. I ate brown rice and veggies. I felt better.

Then I went away for the weekend and was tempted by yummy things like lobster rolls. YUM. Then I came home to sick kids and caved and ate frozen pizza.

Yes. Definitely felt better on the gluten free days.

Gluten free it is then.

And what CAN you eat? Well really eating more fruits, veggies, meat and dairy (from good grass-fed/free range organic sources) is the prime nutrition your body needs anyway. Other things that are ok include: corn, beans, rice, potatoes, seeds, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, Montina, sorghum, and millet.

There are a lot of options really. It’s just a new way of thinking about food. And there are easy replacements.

The occasional cracker for soups is REALLY important to me. So I bought this flour mix that is part arrowroot, rice, tapioca and sorghum flours. And I made crackers. Really good crackers.

Here is what I ate the other night for dinner:

(especially proud of myself considering dada wasn’t home so I was cooking for me and the kids – usually this means they eat hot dogs and I eat yogurt and potato chips – and my kids are terribly sick with colds. Little miss slept and nursed in the sling while I cooked! Not terribly easy with a 25 lb toddler…but I digress.)

Crockpot stewed chicken with tomatoes, lentils, and fresh herbs. (Anti-recipe coming soon)
Gluten free crackers, homemade. (Anti-recipe coming soon)
Spinach salad with olive oil and blue cheese.

Seriously, I impressed myself.

If I can eat like this I can do gluten free.

Luckily there are a ton of amazing resources on the web. The best so far that I have read are  and  and

Really, the only problem is pizza. I mean, I LOVE pizza. Some days I want it too much to say no. But I think the cracker recipe I did yesterday could be adapted to be a great crispy pizza crust.

Hmm. Let the experimenting begin!

(And anyone with good tip, please share!)
Saturday, October 16, 2010

a simple day

appreciating the little things. look at how pretty this leaf is!

I am in a cleaning mood. I declare this to my husband and children today.

YIPPEE. They respond (HA).

And we went at it.

I am into baskets and boxes for things lately.

Vitamins and supplements and essential oils falling at me every time I open the cupboard. Put it in a pretty wooden box. SOLVED.

Hot Wheels scattered throughout the house? Put them in a pretty basket on the toy shelf. SOLVED.

“School” stuff overflowing from the cabinet? Ziplock bags and a cardboard box which slides in the cabinet perfectly. SOLVED.

Cleaning supplies in disarray? I got new Dr. Bronner’s soap – tea tree oil and peppermint (for my hair!). I put diluted solutions in old bottles for cleaning. And then found a plastic shower caddy that works perfectly to store them. SOLVED.

Limited food storage space? Dump beans and dried peas and noodles and flour and so on into clear pretty jars and stack on the top of your cupboard. SOLVED.

Totally going to buy more baskets and jars at my favorite thriftstore tomorrow.
I am also into throwing things out/getting rid of crap. I am SO TIRED of piles of things all over my house. It’s amazing how things like this accumulate after a weekend of travel and a week of sick babies – with dada gone no less.

Of course it is all half done because with little kids around a few hours of maniacal cleaning is about all one can reasonably do. But it was just enough to get the house feeling refreshed and ready for Monday.

The added benefit was to feel like we can have this kind of “putting things in order” day as a family, not just a crazed mama cleaning machine.

We turn on music. Dada starts in on the dishes. Mama scurries around the house randomly organizing here and there. The kids play with the new toys rotated up to the toy shelf (old school wooden blocks with letters and numbers were suddenly SO FUN. I love rotating toys for this reason.)

And we clean. And we organize. And we laugh. And the sun shines in on us, happy to be part of the fun. And later we walk out in the wind. Baby girl falls asleep on the way home. Dada makes dinner. Mama writes.


This kind of simple day, intent on simplifying our lives, is really perfect to me. It makes my heart happy to see my kids stacking up blocks, racing cars, while mama and dada work together to make their home clean and bright. There is no pressure, no agenda to “get things done” just a natural rhythm of home-bound togetherness.

Better than the jam packed Saturdays of errands and trips out into the world. These at-home days are special, and what make a family a family.

So. Cleaning or not.


Go be at home together for a day.

Good stuff.

in tribute

She was warm and bright and pretty.

She laughed at the trouble her boys got in.

She called them pet names.

She cooked beautiful roasts to proudly set before Dad to carve on Sunday afternoon.

She maintained a lovely home.

She was June.

The iconic American mother and wife and homemaker that my generation loves to alternately idealize and ridicule.


She was an actress. Born Barbara Lillian Combes, in 1915, later known as Barbara Billingsley.

She was a beautifully talented woman.

She was a mother to two boys. She had three husbands over the years.

I wonder how she felt about her most famous character. Did she feel pressure to wear pearls and be perfect? How did she feel as the concept of “woman” changed in the coming decades? Did she feel pressure to bow to that new vision of the successful woman? To recant her character?

I don’t think so.

Rumors have it that over the years she refused many times to appear as June in any kind of film that was making fun of the character.

She loved June.

And I think, if you had gone into her home, you would’ve found that she really was June too.

I watched the show regularly as a child, part of the rerun after school line up that was approved television for me and my sisters (including Brady Bunch and Partridge Family). I remember only a few scenes vividly. Bringing OJ in glass cups and a pitcher to the table on Saturday morning. How full and beautiful her skirts were, with such crisp aprons over them. And of course the hijinks of the boys, and Eddie (what a BAD BOY, I remember thinking.)

And yes I heartily agree with women living in and working in and transforming the public sphere. I hope to raise a daughter that does as much. I hope to attempt it myself for that matter.

And yet.

I too love June.

I love the idea of bringing my kids OJ in sparkling glasses. Cooking fluffy omelets and bacon to be gobbled down. I love the vision of laughing prankster teenagers and their friends running through my house.

I love making my home a bright and warm place for my family.

And this is thing, as I write and post and then reflect on this more.

It is more than fluffy omelets and orange juice in glass pitchers. Creating a happy bright home for you and your family - whoever that family is - is a world-changing thing. Giving my kids arms to run into day in and day out. Teaching them to love and cherish each other - share those cookies! and please DON'T HIT! - is a calling, is a mission, is a transforming of society. These little family units, those that June dedicated her (fictional) life to, are the foundation of our society, we teach trust and honor and justice in the little things we do all day and these traits are indeed what make a society great.

It is more than fluff and pearls.

It is essential stuff.

So, regardless of what my generation thinks, thank you Barbara for bringing that woman to life.

For teaching us so much.

Goodbye June.
Thursday, October 14, 2010

today's zen parenting moment

they sat still for all of 5 minutes (maybe more like 3.42 seconds) to eat apples out
in the sunshine...
this picture does not capture little man wiping his nose on his shirt or
little missy kicking up dust every 3 seconds like a happy pig (dust laden with
dried goose poop, i think i caught her putting some in her mouth but
trying to block that out)
also. you cant see she has her pink sparkle shoes on,
perfectly completing the picture...

poor sicko babies - natural cold remedies for kids (and mamas)

My children are sick. I would feel sorry for them, poor little buggars, except I am exhausted at this point. SO whiney SO demanding SO crabby. I am ashamed to admit it but they are on their second (possibly third?) viewing of a 90 minute Curious George DVD.


I begged them to change to Telletubbies this morning and they refused.

Pathetic folks.

And if it’s not the TV, little missy, the sicker of the two, wants to be “plugged in” to mama, as it were. “MILK A MILK mama! MILK A MIIIIIIIIIIIILK!”

I seriously feel dehydrated.

And, I am fighting it off too. Extra crabby-ness ensues.

So I figure a post on cold-busting good for you health remedies was in order.

This is what I do for colds for the kids:

C-Plus Cold Tablets by Hylands – just keep popping them in their mouth all day. They are little sugar tablets with good stuff that dissolve really quick. They really work to dry out boogie noses.

Echinacea – I get straight up drops to give them, diluted in juice.

Emergen C – I let little man drink one packet of this daily, with some sips for babydear.

Little missy instantly gets sore ears. She had her first ear infection at 3 months and has had a few since. The doctor always said, go for antibiotics, if you like. I say, no thanks. I don’t like what they do to the gut (strips away all the good stuff as well as the ick).

Instead I do drops in her ears. A concoction from my mother including tea tree oil, garlic oil, and olive oil. I just dab in a q-tip and let it drip into her ears.

And then I do a vaporizer in the bedroom and for little tiny ones you can put a rolled up towel under their mattress to alleviate respiratory problems at night. (Re respiratory issues in little ones. It always sounds worse than it is. If they aren’t gasping for air and acting lethargic it usually isn’t life threatening, but do take your child in to be assessed at the doctor, it’s just not ER worthy, you know?) Also cut back on dairy and increase their intake of water, of course.

Here is the mother of all remedies though…

My lovely midwives gave me this remedy when I was horribly sick while pregnant with babydear.

Juice of 2 or 3 lemons (you can use lemon juice but it doesn’t have the enzymes that fresh lemons will have.)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar or kombucha
I also throw in some kind of herbal tea, today I used orange spice. YUM.

Make up in a pot and drink hot or you can drink iced too. Keep drinking this all day. Pot after pot. Because, MOMMIES CANT GET SICK. DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?!?! (and even if you do get sick you know its like you are allowed one afternoon nap on the couch and that is it - interrupted by whiney children arguing over a toy that dada said they would have to give up if they can’t share and MAMA ITS MY TOY. Etc etc. After that nap you are healed and no longer allowed to be sick. Hence my desire to not get sick. Because that sucks.)

Other remedies I have heard but not tried:
Colloidal Silver (my mom does this)
Garlic cloves in your ears (sounds smelly to me, I had a garlic aversion in both pregnancies and don’t think I could do this)
Elderberry syrup (for coughs)
Netti pot (I really plan on trying this soon, especially if I give up and get this cold)

What do you all have to add?

little missy feeling better after being dosed up...

(ooh, these are the kick ass homemade woolie
overalls i made her. arent they GREAT??)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

on potty training and patience

[Warning, this post is about potty training, as such it is filled with stories about urine and feces. Those of you who are not parents and not exposed to such things please proceed with caution. Maybe don’t read.]
Potty training.

Or. Potty “educating.”

Or. Potty “praying-your-child-gets-it-soon-before-the-rug-is-permanently-stained”-ing

(Although really, it is simple enough to roll up the rugs.)

One of the biggest childhood milestones, and every tired parents dream. WHEN CAN I STOP WITH THE DIAPERS ALREADY??

Here is the key. Your attitude. (I say this out of experience, keep reading!)

So, really, this is the thing. Potty training is a process. Your child is learning something new. Like walking or talking. You can’t expect them to get it all at once. You know?

ohmygosh he was so tiny and cute!
 I know some people say “I DID IT IN A WEEKEND” but, I don’t believe that works with every child. Each kid is different. Sure you could force a kid to pee and threaten and/or cajole with lollipops and stickers and etc but, that isn’t really my style. (Do you give the kid a sticker EVERY time? How long? My kid would demand one each and every time for the rest of eternity. He would be 16 years old demanding a new song for his Ipod with every pee. He is one stubborn kid.)

I first started out potty training little man at 18 months. He would say “mama, poop!” and then go poop. I thought. This is PERFECT. A dream! I can do this!

So, I went out and smugly bought tiny training pants (the plain white Gerber kind) and a potty (Ikea has the BEST potties). And we started.

Fast forward one year.

I am juggling a new baby and changing TWO butts all day.


What went wrong? Well, little man was telling us, that is true. But, simply put, he wasn’t into it. He would sit on his potty, reading books, looking adorable and then pee occasionally. But going from telling us he was doing it to having him do it on the potty chair was a big thing, and he wasn’t there yet at 18 months.

So finally when little man is 2 ½ I hear this idea. Let your kid run around naked. I think, this is crazy. Really? But, after nearly gagging one day changing a big old poopy toddler butt I was done in.

Enough is enough.

So we rolled up the carpets and put out the potties. Let’s do this thing.

He got the pottying part really quick. After all he had been sitting on the potty chair since he was 18 months old. It took a couple times of pee running down his leg for him to realize he would be much more comfortable doing that in the potty chair.

Poop was another matter. For weeks he refused to until he had a diaper on…he is a stubborn child…he would fricking HOLD IT until we put his diaper on. It was bad.

Finally one day he was running around naked and I came in his room at “quiet time” (did I mention he also gave up napping once babydear arrived? Fun times, those first few months…) to find little clumps of poop ALL OVER THE FLOOR. It was awful. I flipped out. I yelled and screamed most inappropriately. But. His next poop was in the potty (we took him out to ice cream to celebrate!) and he never pooped in his diaper again.

The yelling thing. Well of course I don’t recommend it, although I will say he seemed to need to know from me that this was a big deal. But, I later read more about how bad this is in a baby book about potty training and really felt terrible about it. You would never yell at your child for falling down when they took their first step, right? Why would you get upset with them for potty accidents? (I am gonna chalk it up to first month with new baby crazy hormones and leave my guilt in the past though, if that is okay with you.)

Here is what I do recommend:

1) Make sure your kid is ready, but don’t wait too long. I have heard horror stories of 4 year olds in diapers. I can’t even imagine.

How do you know when they ARE ready? When they wake up from naptime dry. When they show interest in pottying. Little miss follows me to the potty and pretends to wipe with toilet paper (it’s really cute actually). When they can communicate easily. The toilet sign in sign language is a good one for this purpose. (Make a T and wiggle your fist back and forth). Some people say to wait until the child can pull up their own pants. Well, with the naked approach to training I think that’s a bit unnecessary. Listen, you can change a diaper every few hours (and do all the accompanying laundry or buy all those diapers or whatever) or you can remember to take your child pee and assist them with pulling up with pants themselves, your choice. (Why oh why have I not done this with little girl yet?? Totally starting this soon)

2) Don’t resort to pull ups. We only allowed pull ups or a diaper at bed time. In the beginning I also used them for long car rides or going out of the house. But, even with that, just like you would use a restroom out, let them use it too! Pull ups send the wrong message to a kid. They say, I expect you to pee so put this on. Why wouldn’t they pee? Also, pull ups are so super absorbent that the kid never feels a result of the “accident” (and it really isn’t an accident, they are peeing in a diaper meant to be peed in) and then they have those pullups that turn a different color when the “accident” occurs. That is just plain creepy. What kind of crap chemicals are in there for that trick to happen?? Scary.

3) Keep an easy attitude about it. Don’t make a huge drama over accidents. No reason to make the little guy or girl sad. And if you do get frustrated and mad at accidents (it is SO easy to do so) tell them you are sorry after. (Remember MODELING behavior!) It's amazing how telling them you are sorry for losing your temper or getting frustrated sets things right.

4) BUT be consistent with your message. You are a big kid now. I KNOW you can do this. Let them feel your confidence. Remember, as with so much of parenting, this starts with you.

5) Come up with a pattern and stick to it.

Here is what we did…

We started by having “naked” time every morning. I would set the timer to have him go every 30 minutes or 45 minutes, just to try (I really recommend this, it reminds him and YOU). When they start actually going you can set it every hour or so - to what seems natural for them. Celebrate and clap when they do go at first but again, keep it easy. Stickers and lollipops to me say that this is exceptional behavior. I would rather show this is something we just do when we get big. We don’t get prizes for it. (Also, that avoids the question, when do you STOP giving the prize?) I did do the prize thing for awhile with the whole poop issue. I think we bribed him with a chocolate chip, out of desperation, which we eventually abandoned when it was clear he was doing tiny bits of poo at a time to get more chocolate. “Look ma! Another tiny piece of poo! More candy please!” BAD MOVE MAMA!

After a few successful days of morning naked time - afternoon “quiet” time and into evening would be in cloth diapers like our norm - then we just extended into evening time and eventually let him run around naked all day. This naked at home phase lasted a few weeks. And of course, when people came over we would clothe the child. If you are in a colder climate (me this winter) you can do the whole baby legs thing. And with girls it’s easier. Put them in a dress or skirt! I actually started putting longer shirts on him. More for warmth than anything. Slippers too of course.

After a few weeks of this I started dressing him in elastic-waisted pants, comfy cotton pants, but no underwear. Underwear is just another frustrating layer they have to pull down to “hurry hurry!” and make it to the potty. Not necessary yet.

Also, a word - If the naked thing is weird to you, you could do just a few days of it, till they get the idea down and then switch to the pants right away. Remember I was still working on the whole poop in the potty issue. Not me. Him. HA HA.

And, another thought, what if you are not always at home? Say working or whatever? Do it when you can at home, maybe over a long weekend to start the idea. Ask your child care giver to assist (they usually do) or your mom or whoever is with your kid. My nanny, bless her heart, was game and even let him run around naked the first week or two until he really got it. Make sure you talk with them about the easy attitude (no yelling, no bribes) and quiet confidence thing so you are all on the same page (same goes with spouses who aren’t around all the time to participate in this daily fun. Really important to have a consistent message!)

So then we did just diapers at nighttime and stopped doing the diaper while out running errands. Even in long car rides he would be just fine.

Honestly we just stopped the night time diaper last spring, at 3 ½. He is a deep sleeper and wouldn’t rouse. But finally he asked to stop wearing it. Can’t say no to that. And we would just limit intake of liquids after dinner and take him pee right before sleep. He now will wake up to pee most nights on his own. Sometimes we will take him in. He doesn’t even wake up! And we only have the occasional accident to deal with.

Ooh, one great bed protection tip. I didn’t like the idea of that crap plastic liner on my kid’s bed. But a mattress full of pee isn’t great either. So, I heard this great idea. Buy old school wool blankets (100% wool) at thrift stores, like the army blanket variety. Wash in hot water and dry on high heat to felt them a little and then layer under your sheets. We have one on his bed and one on our bed (because that is where he ends up most nights!!) It really does work too! And it’s all natural! And doesn’t feel all crinkly and strange! That is a lot of exclamation points!!

So, in summary, I think the best tip is:

1) To potty train according to your child’s needs and personality. Some kids might be better doing the all out one weekend of naked running. Some (like my little man) might need a slower transition so they are comfortable with the change. Be flexible.

2) Have the right attitude yourself. Be confident in your child. Show that confidence. Be calm and supportive. But also be firm. Let’s do this together! You can do it! Etc.

Really those last few sentences there summarize a good approach to any new parenting challenge though, huh? Be calm and supportive and confident in your child. Together we can…clean up your bedroom! Learn to stop whining! Eat more vegetables! Only watch one TV program a day and not whine at me about how dada lets you watch TV and play video games and is much more FUNNER than you mom! WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER! (I am such a good pep talker for myself. Insert winky face guy.)

So. There you have it.

Happy pottying. (Yes, I did just say that.)

Next up: I am thinking reviews of fav parenting books...
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