Monday, September 15, 2014

Will Poop for Chocolate

Back in March, I posted about Benjamin's interest to watch us do all things in the bathroom. I thought I'd update 6 months later on the lack of progress in the toilet training department. We own 3 kiddo potty seats, one kiddo topper and 1 transportable potty seat. We have undies and books and even a urinal he uses to store his bath toys. Remember that composter I regret buying and my husband basically laughing at me? Well, insert an eye roll from me on that urinal purchase here.

All that jazz and well, nada. No shocker here, he's not trained yet. He's officially two-and-a-half years of age and has peed or pooped on the potty about 11 times. Two of those were coerced by physically taking him and sitting him on the potty by Gramie and Dad, so I will accept 9 for the official count as of today. I have some hope for this afternoon, as we'll likely go pantless again as we've been doing when we're home for long periods of time (if he wants).

We're taking a relaxed approach for a few reasons:
1. If he doesn't want to do something, he'll fight us, tooth and nail.
2. I don't have the patience to potty train with an 8-month old and never leave the house. I'd go #crazytown. Also, while the weather is still nice, I refuse not to take advantage.
3. I don't really have a need to hurry him up, because his preschool is cool with changing diapers. Though, in the 7 times he has attended on his own thus far, he has been changed zero times. He does watch other kids use the potty (yay!) and possibly sits on one at school himself?
4. Admittedly, diapers are a little easier when we're out and about so often with just one set of hands and two sets of kiddo hands.

But don't get me wrong. I wish he would just announce he was done with diapers and it be that easy. My timeline is now: must be potty trained by August 2015 for preschool. He will be three-and-a-half. I'm thinking he will be able to do that. But a more strict timeline is currently set for Christmas when Dad is home. We will have lots of time during the holidays with two adults and no place to go in the frigid temps.

Currently, when we're home, we ask him if he'd like to take off his pants and diaper so he can go to the potty when he wants to. Sometimes he's interested, sometimes he's not. If he does go commando (undies failed us), I ask him often if he has to go to the bathroom. The first few times, I was cleaning up puddles left and right. But the last few times and just about all day yesterday, he was dry and peed nowhere but the potty. It's pretty adorable. He usually announces his interest to go potty and goes in and sometimes closes the door. He sits and runs out immediately either holding the potty or announcing his addition to the pot. Sometimes he's lying, but sometimes he's legit! We celebrate, sing a silly song, pick him up, high-five, call his grandparents, stamp a chart... and eat chocolate.

When he successfully pees or poops, he gets 2 "m treats" for pee and 3 for poop. If both, FIVE! He also gets a stamp on his chart and 10 stamps earns him a donut from Dunkin' Donuts. I'm sure you're judging me and you know what? I don't care. We like donuts. He asks for them every time we drive by (everysingleday) and has probably consumed no more than 10 in his lifetime. But they are a huge treat to him, so we thought it would motivate him.

Never thought I'd bust out the teaching supplies for a potty chart.
Bribery? I've seen every parent I know do it. Bribe with food? Terrible parenting, some may say. But I counter with the thought that we're all essentially rewarded for everything we do. Even if intrinsic reward, it's still something you do with the intent to feel a certain way or attain something. While we'd love for Benjamin to feel proud when he uses the potty, he's just not proud enough to keep at it. Stickers mean nothing to this kid. But donuts? The holy grail. And Lord knows he can use the calories, Mr. 18-month shorts.

Problem is, we're fairly convinced that some of this weekend's attempts at potty time were done with the sole interest to get chocolate, and not necessarily because he wanted to relieve his body the proper way. While he did have to go, we do wonder if he was going because he wanted the treats more than the need to go in that very moment like our bodies tell us.

One thing is certain, if you Skype with us or come over for a visit from now until he's ready for big boy undies, he might do a somersault with his boy parts in full view. Just ask my parents. They had a front row seat to the Benjamin naked Olympics yesterday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Very First Garden

We planted our garden on May 31st (coincidentally the same day I found out I was pregnant with Claire last year!) in the spot of an old tree the husband cut down. Though beautiful, it was too close to the house and thus, the foundation. I purchased a couple garden boxes on Amazon along with a weed control bottom piece made out of some sort of material. We used the lasagna layering method of newspaper, peat moss-mushroom compost-soil, repeat. No manure was used. We did not use our own compost, sadly. When I bought our compost bin last fall, it grew cold very quickly and never really achieved high enough temps this summer to keep the internal temperature warm enough to ferment the compost. Win some, lose some. That investment has not proven to pan out as I hoped it would (picture my husband nodding his head here).
My footwear fashion statement here is embarrassing.


Now 3.5 months later, here is our crop total:

Snap peas: Around 150
Carrots: Hoards
Zucchini: 1, but there were a total of 4 that started and one holding on by a thread. Will it grow?
Peppers: About 10 (from starter plants)
Jalapenos: About 20 (from starter plants)
Cilantro: About a month's worth of cuts
Pumpkins: A total of about 4-5 have grown & still waiting... One was the size of a softball and was attacked. One was the size of a kumquat and attacked.
Tomatoes: 4 growing now and 3 of those are changing colors

What we learned:
- Snap peas should be planted against a wall of some sort. They grow quite tall and the 5ft. bamboo trellis I purchased was still not tall enough. It didn't affect the growth, but did make the top quite messy. We also had some weird fungus (?) attack them and make them spotted on the last harvest (of 3).

- We loved carrots. Maybe the most? We planted a very stubby, small variety based on the short depth of our garden boxes and the fear that they would hit too deep into the soil and affect our electric wires (very unlikely, but we are rookies). It was so much fun to have friends over for dinner or playdates and let the kids pick carrots at random. We literally just poured the seeds into rows and did not count. Possibly foolish as they might have been larger if we planted fewer due to shared nutrients, but it was loads of fun either way.
I can't seem to locate pictures of the really "big" ones, but the majority of good ones were about the size of a baby carrot for this variety.
- Zucchini seed packs really mean that you should not plant multiple seeds close together. They will steal nutrients and hog up so much space. I think we planted 6 squash plants and one produced even a nub of a squash (well, three nubs and one real zucchini).

- We bought a flat of starter peppers of a random variety. They were delicious when they produced, but they were rather small. One of the single plants in the flat produced about all of the peppers. The rest just took up space.

- The jalapenos were starter plants, too. I also LOVED having these constantly growing to use in recipes. Because they are spicy, they go a long way to season a dish and therefore were worth the purchase.

- Cilantro was a huge disappointment. I had visions of using it all summer in recipes and it lasted a month, if that! I had no idea they grew well and then immediately bolted a few weeks later. I loved having it to cut and put in recipes/guacamole/salsa, but it was such a short life!

- Pumpkins were.........well, we don't know. We were SO excited when the first grew and was doing so great until it was attacked! We caged it after, but the bugs continued to eat at the lacerations and it was just over from there. We have quite a few that are still small and it might be a pipedream to assume they will grow before our first freeze. These seeds were from a local pumpkin drop (so Midwest!) with a 500lb pumpkin. I knew pumpkin plants grew HUGE, but this one (of 6 seeds we planted) is maybe 20 feet long? It's enormous. Time will tell.

- My mom bought us a $1 Target spot pack of Beefsteak tomatoes and we followed the directions, started it in the house and planted in a pot (with wire rack thing) outside. It flourished! It's huge and beautiful and is currently growing four tomatoes. That's not much, but they do look super delicious and really healthy. We will see. Maybe they will ripen before they freeze and are ruined?!

- Buying "moisture bead" soil or whatever it was called is just a fancy name for added styrofoam. Not only is it ugly, but expensive too!

2014 garden, photo taken about halfway through the season (pumpkins around that corner)
What we'll plant/change for next year:
Snap peas: plant them against the wall/house. We won't be using up garden box space for them next year and the wall will add stability that is much needed.

Carrots: We intend to plant both regular (on the side of our house) and sqautty (garden box) varieties next year. I'm not sure about planting fewer seeds = ALL fat carrots as opposed to some that flourished and some that flopped. Maybe we'll experiment in different rows.

Zucchini: We'll plant again in the garden box, but plant maybe TWO plants and not six.

Peppers: I don't know. We will probably forego the pepper plants or possibly do starters inside ourselves of more known varieties. They just weren't large enough to really yield much.

Jalapenos: We'll definitely plant these again and possibly try our hand at starters ourselves and buying a few. Would be fun to compare side-by-side.

Cilantro: While we enjoyed having it that one month of the season, we'll consider planting and then removing once it bolts, then planting again for a second harvest. Half of the season our garden box looked barren because the cilantro jumped ship so early.

Pumpkins: We lost nothing here, but seemed to have gained very little, too. I don't know! We might try again, but question if there is enough sunlight on the side of the house we have them planted. And how to keep the rodents away? This year it took about 1 minute to dig six mini holes and plant them, so it wasn't much of a loss, but hard to watch when they were eaten often.

Tomatoes: Definitely plan to plant more and even start some in the house ourselves again. I am thinking we might have more luck with varieties that are smaller and produce faster (cherry, roma) and want to consider those to go in the actual garden boxes and run while on their own. It might be messy...?

Overall: We really enjoyed our first gardening experience! It was fun getting outside with the kids, having Benjamin water and share in his excitement with friends, picking carrots whenever others would come over, sharing the modest crop, picking veggies to use in dinner and just having something to maintain. I think this is as big as we're up for managing, though.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

$2 Grab Bags

I dropped Benjamin off at school this morning and did a victory dance headed over to Michael's for a little Halloween planning. Perhaps you can guess what I have him slated to be for Halloween just by a few hints?

I planned to make the ears myself, but then stumbled upon these for $1.60. Hard to pass that up!
While I was shopping, I noticed there was a big bin of $2 grab bags of (probably) summer clearance items. I was curious and decided I would put $8 on the blackjack table gamble of getting some fun craft items for the kids during those dreary winter months we'll have coming. I also hoped I'd find some fun stocking stuffers. Because I totally wanted to know what was inside each bag, I'll share the contents here with you all. You tell me what you think of the junk fun stuff I scored for my $8 gamble.


$2 Grab Bag #1:
2- Make-it-yourself drum kits with feathers, beads and all the necessities
1- Pack of eight monkey straws
1- Kissing flower ball thing
1- Minnie Mouse sticker book
1- Door hanger DIY kit
1- Bow with a clip on the back for a girl with hair. Hahah. See ya in a few years, hairbow!
1- Flower decoration (for flip flops apparently)
2- Gooey bubble blowing kits... I totally remember from my childhood

My verdict: $2 score!

$2 Grab Bag #2:
1- Rooster tumbler with straw (how hideous!)
1- Ceramic hot drink rooster cup with lid (both retailed for $20! I see why they were clearanced...)
6- Class of 2014 pens. Just funny. Speaking of, my first group of students I taught ever are freshman in COLLEGE. OMG, I'm old.
1- Cute owl that stands but is a blank canvas
1- Chandelier wooden ornament thing
1- Kissing white flower ball just like bag #1...what is that? And what am I going to do with two?
1- Pack of Jesus stencils
3- Crystal fireflies/butterflies
5- Clip-on decorative butterflies/ladybugs
1- Random red flower thing
2- Packs of foam stickers

My verdict: While I do think the owl tchotchke is cool and the rooster cups terribly ugly (yet functional), I'm still not sure it was worth $2. Maybe Claire will LOVE butterflies someday.

$2 Grab Bag #3:

1- large sand bucket/pail of good quality
1- Turtle DIY craft thing?
2- Cross mosaic DIY crafts
1- DAD button frame decoration kit
3- Hair ties
8- Monkey straws like in bag #1
3- DIY frames and some things to decorate with inside
2- Not-so-lovely smelling fragrance bead jars
5- Clip-on barrettes for little girls with hair. Again, hahaha.
1- Pair of aviator glasses I left in my car because I was totally wearing them and loving them

My verdict: Worth it only for the straws, bucket, hair ties and glasses. But the rest is junk.

$2 Grab Bag #4:
1- Disney Princess kite that looks to be Cinderella ...I'm so awesome for knowing that
2- Wacky Gliders
2- Balls and bats
1- Bubble wand

My verdict: Not bad. Obviously I knew some of what I was getting here and the sales associate encouraged me to buy this one. Figured if anything, the kite itself would've cost me $2, so it's a win here.

Out of the four bags, I'd buy 3 again. Not a bad gamble... but seriously... lots of junk to sort out.

Now I have to go hurry up and clean this crap up before the toddler wakes... and also, someone else go buy some of these and show me what you got! I wanted to open all the bags.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today's Jog with Naughty Benjamin Bunny

I always love it when I post a cute picture of Benjamin being awesome on Instagram and then he turns into a psychopath within minutes of that post.

The toddler tantrum/psychosis doesn't come out daily and we've had many more good days than bad days lately, but MAN. He can be a real freak of nature.

I've been trying to get my butt in gear lately and get out for some exercise during the warm months weeks we have left of this year. We usually leave a bit after nap and I get the kids in the jogger with snacks and we're on our way. Sometimes I jog around our neighborhood, or to the playhouse about 1.5 miles down the road. If not to the playhouse, I often end the jog with a park visit (which is often my argument to get Benjamin into the stroller for any length of time).

Just after nap today, we were headed downstairs and planned to grab a snack and get on our way. We drive by this park with green slides on our way to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Benjamin is always requesting a visit to this park. I checked the weather report and thought today would be a perfect day to stroll on over.

It's actually only .6 miles from our house, but across a busy road. I mapped out a route around the neighborhood on the other side of that busy street and would end my jog at the park-with-the-green-slide. He was on board. Claire was strapped in and we were ready to scoot.

Then I got out my new shoes. He wanted to put them on and proceeded to take off his own shoes. I told him he could not. Cue the meltdown. Crisis averted with Wheat Thins. I stuck them in a container and tried to lure him into the stroller with those and a pack of fruit snacks. It worked.

Then I broke out the sunscreen. "No sunscreen." Too bad Mama will win this argument. But joke's on me if I think I'm winning, because it spurred the rest of the meltdown.

That lasted the entire 2.2 miles of my jog around the neighborhood. I rarely strap him in because he's two-and-a-half and likes to get out every once in awhile to hit the street-crossing buttons and such. And really, he's two-and-a-half. Can't he just stay in his flipping chair? Yes, yes he can.

I decided to carry on with my jog regardless of his psychosis, because honestly. Mama needed the detox. And also, he's not allowed to win by staying home like he was screaming during his tirade. He briefly braked from his insanity to hit the button to cross the street, but wanted nothing to do with me putting him back in the stroller when the walk signal appeared. Instead, he sprawled across the front of the double BOB, hanging his legs over the end and screaming random things about the park and home and strollers and being overall angry baby toddler.

One family was in their driveway as I yelled, "He's two!" She replied, "We heard you coming." Another woman was getting soccer gear out of the car in her driveway and said, "It looks like he's falling off the stroller." I replied back that he was not, but thanked her for her input on my parenting choices. I was watching him the entire time and he did not fall off or even come close. Two-year-olds can be a special breed of mankind. He was eventually strapped in against his will, but that seemed to fuel the fire even more. When we got home, this mama had another detox by giving this naughty boy some alone time in his room (to which he played happily) so I could have a few minutes of sanity.

I'm pretty sure I won't be taking a jog through that neighborhood anytime soon. They'd probably remember me and send a note into authorities for investigation because omg, that mom jogs with her son while he's throwing a tantrum and being unreasonable.

The good news about a toddler throwing a tantrum and strangers giving you the stink eye while you're jogging? You jog faster.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baby Food and Boob Talk

We're in it. Just like that. I was pregnant and then had a baby. Yeah, it was totally that easy. All of a sudden, she turned 6 months old. And then 7 months. Sound the trumpets, people. It's been amazing and then some. I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am that we barely made it to alive and now we're here thriving (and growing some delicious thunder thighs).

Claire is still breastfeeding these days, but it's sort of like trying to feed a wild monkey who is juggling bananas. If a single flash of light is seen, a word spoken, or a movement heard, she's pulling away to check out what is happening. My milk has been sprayed in more public places than I'd like to admit. With Benjamin, I was much more discreet about my nursing. I even used a cover. Now, I'm lucky to get her fed and manage the toddler at the same time at all, cover or Boppy pillow or {insert fancy breastfeeding item here}. I'm lucky to get 5 minutes total of feeding her, so I still try to manage every 2 hours during the day just to curb dehydration. Her diapers tell me all is fine and the scale does not disappoint either. Hello almost 17lbs. She's nearly to Benjamin's 12-month weight! She's a stellar and chill breastfeeder at one time only: in the middle of the night. Thankfully, that only happens about once a night these days, about 8hrs after she goes down to bed, happily and smiley. And last night, I got a real treat of sleeping until 7:15 this morning without ever waking to feed.

Benjamin continues to be the most annoying person ever when I politely ask him to be quiet and whisper when Claire is feeding. Because honestly kid! For. The. Love. Claire would rather see what you're doing and watch you rather than drink milk these days. Which totally makes for fun times and me locking myself into the bathroom just to quietly breastfeed (of which always fails because NEW SCENERY! MUST LOOK AROUND!). He absolutely knows he's being bothersome because he speaks nonsense or says things repeatedly like "Hi Mama. MAMA HI!!"

In addition to the milk, she's having real food. I'm so much more lazy this time around. I'm just busy and not inspired. She's had a variety of things {insert list of foods you could care less reading about} and hasn't been overall impressed. She still eats, but really doesn't seem to go one way or the other on things. I steamed and pureed and put in ice cube trays. I feed her three "meals" each day, along with us. Now that she's 7 months old, she's getting tiny bits of foods as well, which she is handling okay.

Boy bibs. whatareyougonnado?
The fear of her choking hasn't gone away, but eventually she will have to be on solids, right? And in just a few short months, she'll somehow be eating just about everything we are and there will be no turning back. Boggles. My. Mind. If only the food intake would help her grow some hair (said in jest, as I honestly don't care).

At a local playhouse last month...

Random little girl: Where is her hair?
Me: She doesn't have any yet.
Random little girl {confused look}: But she's a girl.