Friday, January 2, 2015

Packing the "Hospital Bag"

I had no idea what to expect when I was preparing for my daughter's birth. I packed everything I could think of. We only needed about a third of what I brought, and my mother had to wash our laundry, and my husband had to make several trips to Walmart while I was in the hospital for the things I didn't think of, or the things I might need going home. It is awful to have to stop at a store like Walmart before heading home from the hospital with a newborn. It's better to be prepared. This time around, my packing list is quite different. I am going to go through my list and explain as I go.


  1. Birthing Wrap. During delivery, I do wear the "real" hospital gowns, but afterwards, it was very nice to slip into something more comfortable and easy to nurse in. Heck, I even felt pretty. This is the kind I have, but in medium, and black. Mine wasn't as expensive, since I hit a sale.
  2. Nursing Nightgowns. I didn't bring anything like this last time, but I did wish I had them. I was in the hospital for a week, so wearing the same thing day after day made me feel gross and wearing hospital gowns got old. I am bringing two with me this time.
  3. Nursing Bras. Bravado bras are my absolute favorite, but I also like HotMilk bras. My milk came in while I was in the hospital and the stretchy sleep bras I brought just didn't cut it. This time I am bringing my nursing bras. 
  4. Nursing Pads. My husband had to buy these for me. I have some reusable nursing pads that I brought last time, but they slide around and I could saturate them in a matter of an hour. The disposable ones worked well for me and they have good adhesive that hold them in place. I changed them every single time I nursed. I prefer the regular lansinoh ones to the ultra-soft version. The adhesive didn't leave sticky residue like the ultra soft pads. 
  5. Nursing Cover. Last time, I never used this because I forgot I had it and breastfeeding was frustrating enough without trying to be covered too. This time, I am bringing it again, in hopes that I do use it instead of sending visitors in the hallway for an hour.I don't mind nursing in front of my family and close friends, but I am not comfortable nursing in front of just anyone. 
  6. Slippers/Flip flops. I pack both my own slippers and my husband's. I also bring a pair of flip flops for the shower. These got a lot of use last time.
  7. Comfy pants/gauchos. I no longer fit my maternity pants when I left the hospital, but many people do. Comfy, stretchy pants or skirts will fit if I am big or small going home. I am over two hours from the hospital and comfortable pants are essential for the ride home.
  8. Other clothes for both me and my husband. I will be bringing a few pairs of comfortable underwear, and a few loose tops.  I bring three pairs of shorts, three t-shirts, and three pairs of underwear for my husband. He will use one pair of shorts for sleeping. 
  9. Toiletries. I bring toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant for both of us. For me, I bring a razor, coconut oil (for face lotion), my hairbrush, hair elastics, a headband, and a small mirror. I don't use "real" deodorant, so I will bring a small mason jar of baking soda instead.  We both use baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo or conditioner, so I will bring those from our shower as well. 
  10. Camera and Charger. Taking pictures from the beginning and pictures of everything I want to remember is important. Also, the camera charger, for obvious reasons.
  11. Cell Phone and Charger. Cell phones don't always work well reception-wise in hospitals, but they work well as a phone book.
  12. Copies of Birthing Plan. If I end up with a different doctor, I want to have copies of my birth plan available. 
  13. Swaddle Blankets for baby. I really like the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets, so I am bringing a few to use in the hospital. They also have plenty of blankets there, but we were not able to bring them home with us. I like the idea of keeping the blankets used by my newborn in the hospital, so I will bring my own.
  14. Clothes for baby. Besides an outfit or two to come home in, I will bring a few newborn nightgowns. Because we do not know the gender of our baby, I will bring a few gender-neutral outfits, and a few pink ones.
  15. Car Seat and base. Okay, it isn't in my bag. It will be installed in the car, ready to use. The hospital provides diapers, wipes, and a nasal syringe to take home, so a diaper bag is unnecessary to bring, but the car seat needs to be there. I have a Keyfit 30. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cutting the Dreads: a difficult decision and a step-by-step process

I started this post last summer, but somehow the majority of it was accidentally deleted, so I got discouraged and hadn't finished it until now.

Several months ago, my husband, daughter, and I went to Minnesota to visit family. Before coming home, we made a special trip north to visit the great-grandparents and get the haircut. I have been putting off this blog post, mostly because I am still having trouble with the idea that the dreads are gone for good, but also because I have just been so busy lately.

The decision to cut the dreads was not an easy one, especially for me. I had never known my husband before dreads. When I met him, he told me that he wanted to grow his dreads out until he could get them back into a ponytail, at least. Initially, I wasn't attached to the dreads. I thought about running my fingers through his silky soft hair, instead of spending hours weaving loose hairs into the coarse ropes. Over the course of the next three years, I became accustomed to seeing him with dreads and I became rather fond of his hair. If you know me, you know that am not one to make drastic changes without careful consideration, and this was no exception. In March, my husband made some off-hand comment to introduce the idea...something like, "How long are you thinking we'll keep the dreads?" I remember being somewhat shocked. "Um, you said you thought we'd keep them until you could get them into a ponytail, and then you said you wanted to have them until our kids could remember you with dreads. Have you changed your mind?" He thought for a few minutes and said, "I don't know. I think I am over it...but obviously I am not going to make a decision like that without you on board."

He went on to say that he missed scratching his head and wearing baseball caps. He missed being able to fit into helmets properly for snowmobiling and snowboarding. He didn't like how long it was taking to dry dreadlocks after a shower, which was a problem since his occupation includes plowing snow. I said I would think about it. It took a few months before I decided that it was going to be okay with me if he wanted to be done with the dreads. I still had doubts when we made plans with his cousin, who agreed to cut them, and as we drove to her salon, my stomach was in knots. We left the baby with family, since I thought it might be traumatic to see the dreads being cut and falling on the floor. Who knows what a 1-year-old might think? Oh, and the majority of the family didn't know that he was even considering losing the dreads, so it was a surprise for them!

Here is my handsome husband, ready for his haircut. After verifying that we were sure that cutting the dreads was what we wanted to do, she started cutting them off, one by one, from the back. She offered to let me cut a few, but I really didn't want to. I admit it, I was cringing. Seeing them fall to the floor was difficult for me, but there was no turning back at that point. Rumor has it that if you want to keep post-dread hair long(ish), you can cut the dreads to about four inches and comb it out with conditioner, but we wanted his hair short, so we didn't try that method.

Pretty soon, there were 87 dreads on the floor, and only two to go. All over his head, there were little tufts of hair sticking up. Having never seen my husband without dreads, I was suddenly very apprehensive. This was NOT what I had pictured.

She started combing out the tufts, one by one. His hair looked scraggly and coarse, not silky and smooth, as he had assured me it would be. She washed it out, and it started to look a little better. He looked totally different. Somehow, cutting the dreads seemed to make him look a lot younger, in my opinion. She started cutting his hair as only a professional can, talking and laughing the whole time. I am so glad that she was the one to cut them off. She washed one more time before she styled his hair on his drastically different new hairdo.

There were some pretty great reactions to his new look, but my favorite came from our daughter. This was her face as he walked through the door. She didn't know what to think. It took her maybe three seconds before she said, "Daddy!" and after that, she was fine. 

I do enjoy being able to run my fingers through his hair, and not having them rub up against the side of my face at night when they end up on my pillow. 

I also miss them. When I see pictures, I get all nostalgic. But hey, I get to practice giving boy haircuts now. This is the video tutorial I used to learn how to cut his hair. 

I know some people were curious about hair after dreads, so I hope that the pictures helped you visualize the process. It has been almost a year now since the cutting of the dreadlocks, and he has no plans of having dreads again. On a side note, I found that people were very honest after the dreads were gone. Some admitted to hating them, and some said that they missed them. It is interesting to me how strong opinions about dreads can be. Then again, I hated them before I met my husband, I grew attached to him in the dreads, and now I miss them when they are gone. That is just the way life goes, isn't it?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Planning our tiny house with a growing family in mind

Last year, I wrote a semi-vague post about our decision to downsize and simplify. What I didn't mention then was our decision to start planning to build a tiny house. If you aren't familiar with the tiny house movement, I suggest you google it because there is enough information out there to warrant entire blogs. Technically, a tiny house is any living space that is less than 400 square feet. Generally, the floor space of a typical tiny house is much smaller than that. Many tiny houses are built on trailer frames with wheels and are designed to be sustainable and portable.

Most of the tiny houses that I have read about online are owned by single people or couples. I have only found a small handful of tiny house families with more than one child. We are pregnant with our second child and intend to have more, so building our tiny house requires some unique forethought.

When planning and building a tiny house, sacrifices must be made. Downsizing belongings, appliances, appliance size, plumbing, electronics, floor space, door and window sizes, conveniences, and head space are some common sacrifices. Downsizing belongings is the easiest place to start, but it has proven to be quite difficult. I remember exactly how much I paid for each picture frame and casserole dish, and yard sale prices often feel like highway robbery. One thing I have done to cope with this is to tell myself that these items won't fit into the tiny house anyway, so if we can't sell them for something, we will have get rid of them by other means. Getting anything money-wise is better than nothing, right?

Stuff can be hard to part with, especially when it is stuff that I will likely have to buy again later. For example, I have a Barbie doll that my parents gave me as a young teen. She is a Swedish Barbie in a traditional dirndl. I don't collect Barbies, but I never opened the box because I felt that I was too old to play with Barbies at the time. In researching what I could get for her, it seems that she sells for up to $20, on a good day, new in box. I have a two-year-old daughter who doesn't have any Barbies yet, but loves baby dolls and cherishes every moment that she is allowed to hold my American Girl Dolls. The dolls in the "pink aisles" at the store leave something to be desired. The heavy make-up and sexy outfits marketed to toddlers and young girls concern me. Should I sell the Swedish Barbie in the beautiful outfit and buy a scantily-clad Barbie doll at the store in a year or two, or should I stash the Barbie in our limited storage space and give it as a gift? My gut says to stash it for later, but my husband wants it to be put on Ebay. (For the time being, it is stashed. I can always get rid of it later.) I could write an entire post about my struggles with thinning out my books . . .

For a family of four or more, sacrificing appliances like washers and dryers can make a lot of extra work for everyone. I purchased a Wonderwash and Nina Soft Spin Dryer from The Laundry Alternative and tried using them for a few months before making a decision about a washer and dryer in the tiny house. The Wonderwash is a step up from a bucket washer, and has a nice crank on the side for manual washing. The tub can actually hold more laundry than I had anticipated, and it does a nice job. The spin dryer requires some forethought in that you can't wash your pants in the morning, run them through the spin dryer, and expect to wear them right away. I does get out more of the water than a regular washing machine's spin cycle. However, having a child in cloth diaper meant that I had to do two loads each day to stay on top of the laundry. If it piled up, it was very intimidating and my arms would get sore after about three loads. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to put a full-size washer and dryer into the tiny house, even if it meant
sacrificing something else. I really liked our front-loading washer and dryer that we used to have, so we plan on getting something similar, whether new or used. A single person or couple may be able to get away with using the Wonderwash and spin dryer or a laundromat, but my husband and I will be working full-time for the time being, and every minute that we can save laundry-wise is a minute that can be spent with the family.

Many tiny houses have cook tops and toaster ovens instead of regular full-sized ranges. Some people replace the stove with a microwave. With a growing family daily cooking and baking, this wasn't something I was willing to do. I want a gas stove and oven that can accommodate four pans on top at the same time and my regular baking pans in the oven. We could probably manage with an apartment-size range, but we recently acquired a full-size used gas stove/oven that fit all of our criteria, so we will use that. I'm not going to lie; I am excited! A lot of tiny houses use small dorm-size fridges or coolers instead of full-sized fridges, but again, that won't work well for us. The supermarket in town is pretty decent in terms of supplying us with the basic necessities, but unless I catch a good sale, I generally have to stock up on food when I am downriver. The closest big supermarket is nearly two hours away. We need to have sufficient fridge and freezer space to store a few weeks worth of food for our growing family. We also have a chest freezer which comes in handy when my husband provides us with venison or moose meat. The chest freezer isn't going to fit in the tiny house and will likely have to stay outside. A full-size fridge/freezer will be in the kitchen of our tiny house.

I spent a great deal of time this year researching toilets or all kinds. Composting toilets are pretty common in tiny houses because they can be as simple as a dressed-up five-gallon bucket. However, since we don't own the land we will be building on and won't have an adequate location for composting or using our "compost" in a flower garden, we are opting to hook a regular toilet into the town water and sewer. Eventually, on our own land, we will plan to have a well and septic system. Another popular option is an incinerating toilet, which I thought would be terrifying for potty-training-toddlers. We are not taking our house on the road and only intend to move it a few times, so it isn't necessary to have the house be super-portable. We are also putting a tub into the tiny house, because we do have little kids and they take baths. Heck, I may even take baths sometimes. We are opting for a lightweight acrylic 4.5' soaking tub. Our bathroom is luxuriously large, for a tiny house, but I think we will appreciate the elbow room during bath time and when we are potty training our children.

Electronics-wise, we got rid of our desktop computer and are using a laptop and ipad. We haven't had our printer hooked up since October and are trying to decide if it will make it into the tiny house. We have a 42" flat screen TV that we intend to mount on the wall in the living room and our DVD player is drying a slow and terrible death (it will eventually be replaced with a DVD/Blue Ray player, but we are limping it along until then).

We are definitely sacrificing floor space and head space in our 8' x 36' tiny house. It is a trade-off. If we didn't need a walk-in bedroom downstairs, we would have more living room space. Eventually, we may knock out the wall to the baby's room and expand our regular living space. We have tried to organize our tiny house to maximize the small floor space that we have. We have a galley kitchen and sliding doors for the bathroom and baby's room. We have incorporated a lot of windows and a high ceiling in the entryway to make the space feel larger. We will have a table, but benches instead of chairs. Our stairs will be steeper than normal stairs and will have storage space under them. Stairs are becoming increasingly popular over ladders in tiny houses, simply because they are easier to use. With little kids, we felt that stairs were a necessity. Our sleeping lofts will have 4.5'  from the floor to the peak of the barn-style roof. Our house has two sleeping lofts--one for my husband and me, and one for the kids. Their loft is bigger than ours, since they will likely be playing up there and storing some toys and clothes in that space as well. Ours will have some storage space and sleeping space, and that is probably about it.

We spent months planning our floor plan. It changed probably hundreds of times. We looked at thousands of pictures online, and watched numerous Youtube tiny house tours. Our primary goals with this tiny house are to be debt-free and living in our own space for 10-15 years, until we can buy our own land and build our farm. Every tiny house owner has different goals to consider and is willing to make different sacrifices. We are going to need a shed of some kind to hold things like skis, snowshoes, camping and climbing gear, bikes, seasonal clothing, tools, snowmobile helmets, and other similar items. We do so much outside that it would be senseless to get rid of that equipment.

As we build our tiny house, I will continue to update this blog with pictures and posts about the process. It has taken a lot of planning to get this far, and I am sure we haven't thought of everything!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Adventures in Potty Training

We were given a potty by a good friend when our daughter was about 17-months. She loved it right away and enjoyed sitting on it regularly, and occasionally using it. We didn't try to seriously train yet, simply because she didn't seem to be able to control her sphincters well yet. For example, sometimes she would pee while standing right next to the potty or sit on the potty for over an hour (insisting that she wanted to pee) and then get up and pee on the floor. Sometimes she would ask to sit on the toilet with her Babybjorn seat, but she can't get on and off the toilet herself yet, since she is so tiny. Each time that she did use the potty properly, I would give her a gummy bear. It was rare, but she did earn a bear every now and then. Besides, I had research to do and I work 3/4 time. It's hard to train when half of a child's waking hours are spent with someone else. I read about several different methods, and I remembered what my mother had done with my younger siblings. Some "new" ideas intrigued me, like playing potty with a doll and having the doll wet on the floor and wet in the potty so the toddler can see and "train" the doll. My toddler had other plans.

Fast forward. Our sweet girl is almost 2. We are expecting our second baby in August and I was feeling like it might be more difficult to train a 2-year-old with a newborn. During April vacation from school, I decided that we would try potty training. I had purchased a 6-pack of tiny girlie undies and had them clean and ready to use. I didn't buy the super absorbent training undies because I wanted her to see and feel her accidents The bag of gummy bears was still pretty full and the potty was in the living room, near her toys. I had her baby in a pair of undies on the couch, ready to "train."I had read online that it is best to start training after a good breakfast, but she was ready to start before breakfast. In fact, she woke me up by saying, "Mumma, pee! Potty! Quick!"

I pretty much sprang out of bed to get her to the potty. I snapped off her night diaper and set her on the potty. She noticed that her baby doll was wearing her undies, and she got very upset, pulling the undies off the baby doll. "MY undies! Change baby!!"So much for that idea. She sat there on the potty uneventfully for about 20 minutes before she peed. My theory is that when she woke up, she probably noticed that she was peeing and thought of the potty, but we were too late that time.She earned her gummy bear and I cleaned out the bowl of the potty so it would be ready to use again. I was careful to give her the bear right after she peed. Then I put her in some pretty pink undies with ballerinas on them. I made breakfast, and she ate and drank well. Every 10 minutes or so, I would ask her if she was still dry and clean, and she would check and tell me that she was. I would cheer for her. "Hooray, you're still dry! Good job!" She would keep returning to the potty without prompting to try. I guess that congratulating her was enough to remind her about using the potty without telling her to do so. I was a little worried about the furniture, but it didn't end up being a problem. She usually prefers to sit in her little wooden rocking chair from Grammie, and it isn't a big deal if that gets wet.

I had read that while potty training, it is a good idea to eat salty snacks to encourage her to drink lots
of fluids and have more opportunities to pee. After her oatmeal and raisins, we made air-popped popcorn with coconut oil and salt. She wanted to eat her popcorn while sitting on the potty, so I brought out the bathroom stool and used it as a little table in front of her potty. I put water and diluted juice in multiple cups around the house to inspire her to drink more frequently, which seemed to work. We rarely give her juice, so she was very excited about that. I also had frozen some juice pops and she sucked those right down.

She successfully peed on the potty 5 times before lunch and once on the floor. She peed on the floor while I was taking a much needed bathroom break myself. When she peed on the floor, she ran to me in the bathroom and said, "Uh oh, Mumma! Wash!" and pointed to her wet undies. I didn't freak out, but finished quickly in the bathroom and followed her to the kitchen. I wanted potty training to be a positive experience. I said in a very pleasant tone, "Uh oh! Pee is supposed to go in the potty, not on the floor. Let's see if you can pee more in the potty." I helped her over to her potty. She peed a tiny bit in the potty, and I rewarded her with a gummy bear and a "Yay, you did it!" She was happy about the bear, but upset that I took the wet undies off her because she liked them so much. She cried for a minute, but I brought out a few more pairs of undies, and let her pick which ones she wanted to wear next. I cleaned up the pee on the floor (thankful that it was on the linoleum) and she helped by "showing me" where it happened and drying the floor with a rag once I had cleaned up the pee and washed the area. "Where does pee go?" I asked her. "Potty." She said. "Dry!" We clapped and cheered because she was dry, even though the accident had been only a couple of minutes ago.

After lunch each day, she takes a nap. I know that she tends to soak her diaper during naps and at night, and because she had been drinking more fluids than usual, I insisted that she wear a diaper during her nap. She also hasn't figured out how to get out of the crib by herself yet. We intend to convert it into a toddler bed, but my husband hasn't had a chance to do that yet. When I told her it was time to change into a diaper, she cried and tried to reason with me, telling me that she would pee on the potty instead. I explained that she might not notice the pee when she was sleeping, and that when she wakes up completely dry, I will let her wear undies to bed, but not yet. I put the diaper on her and let her wear the undies over the top. She was almost content. She nursed and fell right asleep. She woke up rested, and with a soaked diaper.

After waking from her nap, she wasn't as excited about potty training. I offered to remove her diaper and let her wear just undies, and she looked at me and cried. Again, I wanted potty training to be a positive thing, so I didn't push the matter. She curled up in my lap and we read some books, and after just a few minutes, she told me she wanted to use the potty. We unsnapped her diaper, and she peed right away on the potty!

Twice in the afternoon, she peed a tiny bit in her undies before running to the potty to finish. I didn't make a big deal about it, but slipped off the wet undies and replaced them with dry ones. I cheered for every bit of pee in the potty. She didn't pee enough to get it onto the floor. She even stopped in the middle of playing catch to run to her potty. She pooped on the potty in the evening like a champ and earned her gummy bear for that as well. I forgot to ask her if she was still dry as often as I had in the morning, but I did ask her if she was dry when it seemed like it had been a while since she had used the potty. She was very upset when I put her in a night diaper, and we had to stop our nighttime routine three times to run to the potty, unzip her sleeper, and unsnap her diaper. I realized at that point that she was using the potty to manipulate me and the routine, so the diaper went back on and she was in bed within about 10 minutes.

The second and third day were much the same. We went outside for a while, and she told me that she had to pee. I pulled down her pants and undies and supported her by holding her thighs, like a seat, keeping her clothes and shoes out of the way. She thought this was barbaric and refused to pee, insisting on going inside to the potty. I reluctantly agree and carried her back inside. She made it to the potty in time. Another time, she was so absorbed in her play (duplos) that she pooped right in her undies. She immediately told me and I helped her take them off, get cleaned up, and on the potty.

By the fourth day, she was able to control her pee so well that she could dribble a tiny bit in the potty every minute or two, just to get another gummy bear. I changed the reward system. I would clean the potty first, and then give her a gummy bear, if she remembered to ask for it. She forgot twice, and I didn't remind her. I figure that the idea is to have the potty become a habit that doesn't require a reward and that we will only give her gummy bears until she forgets to ask for them. That plan may change, since she has an amazing memory.


1) Buy more undies before beginning to train. What was I thinking, buying only 6 pairs? I should have bought at least 12. Because we share laundry facilities and they aren't always free, I ended up hand-washing wet/damp undies in the bathroom sink and hanging them to dry. Cotton takes a while to dry. I had to rig a pair of my own undies for her to wear, using two hair elastics on the sides to make them small enough. She was excited to be wearing my undies. She worked especially hard to keep them dry and clean, because they are mumma's undies.

2. I would get a different potty,or at least a better bathroom stool for in front of the toilet. This potty was free, and free is awesome, but this potty has some major flaws. It is a safety 1st potty, I believe (they don't seem to sell this version anymore). This potty was too small for my friend's 2-year-old's thighs, which is why it was given to us. It gives our daughter terrible marks on her rear from the seam where the removable bowl meets the potty seat. Also, she has been pinched a number of times because the bowl wasn't settled down into the right spot when she sat down, and as it settled, she was caught in between. It even removed skin once. The green part comes off the white base very easily and is difficult to put back together. If I get another potty, I will look for a different design. I am intrigued by the Boon Potty, but it is pretty pricey and pretty big for a tiny house. The Beaba potty is simple and small and works well for boys and girls, but I still wonder about pinching thighs in the seams. I like the design of the Babybjorn smart potty. I want a simple, understated potty that is small, easy to use, and easy to clean. The Potette Plus is a potty that can fold for travel, be used full-time at home, and be used as a training seat on a toilet. The silicone liners are easy to wash, and they sell absorbent disposable liners for travel.

3. I would train sooner. She was very interested and probably could have done it. I wasn't ready to train, but she was.

This has been a learning process for both of us! There are so many ways to potty train. I know some people frown upon using food rewards, but one gummy bear doesn't seem unreasonable, especially for a child that rarely gets any candy or sweets. Each child is different, and I have a feeling that she is easier to train than most.

The next step will be having her wear undies during naps. When should we ditch night diapers? Any tips or tricks to share with the world?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Yes please, or no thank you?"

It has been too long since I have written a new blog post. Let's just say that my energy has been spent elsewhere. In other words, I am 18-weeks pregnant and still exhausted! Our sweet baby girl is now a talking toddler, and she constantly amazes me with her vocabulary and skills.

Tonight I was preparing for supper and she was following me around saying, "Co-ahn, Mumma? Co-ahn pease?" I couldn't for the life of me figure out what she was asking for, so I had her show me. She struggled to open the appliance cupboard and I helped her. She pointed back into the dark cupboard and repeated her request. Finally, I put it together. She was asking for popcorn! It has been quite a while since I have made popcorn, but she hasn't forgotten.

Now that she is talking more, I am trying to teach her to use manners. One strategy that I came up with is to give her the words I want her to use and to wait for her to use them. For example, when I offer her something, I give her two polite responses to choose from. "Do you want some more water? Yes please, or no thank you?" If she says, "Okay," I repeat the two responses until she picks and repeats back one or the other. She is getting the hang of it now. Lately she has been responding politely before I have had to remind her of her polite choices.

It makes me smile every time I hear her using her polite manners without being reminded, especially when she is responding to someone other than me. She's not completely consistent yet, but I am proud of her. Now I need to figure out how to keep "thank you" and "you're welcome" from getting confused!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The First Steps toward Toilet Training: a review of the Prince Lionheart WeePOD Basix

Our sweet girl is 17-months-old. She loves to mimic the behavior that she sees, whether it is cooking, reading, rocking a baby doll, or sitting on the toilet. Rather than purchase a potty seat, my husband and I decided that it might be wise to train our daughter to use the toilet from the get-go. I searched online for a toilet seat that was small, gender-neutral, and easy to use.

I purchased the weePOD at Target. The only color available at the time was ash grey, so that is what I bought. The seat is a little bit squishy and flexible, but the surface is smooth and easy to wipe clean. It is lightweight and all one piece. There are suction cups on the bottom of the seat which help hold it in place on the toilet, so it doesn't slide when a child scoots around to get on or off the seat. I really appreciate the fact that the seat also stands up on its own. This makes storage of the toilet seat simple because it can stand right next to our toilet, ready to go. The hole is just the right size. The weePOD fits both round and elongated toilet seats.

My daughter can easily put the seat onto the toilet by herself. It is self-explanatory. Nobody is going to look at it and feel like it is too difficult to figure out. We haven't begun any serious toilet training, but my sweet girl asks to sit on the toilet quite frequently. Usually I take her diaper off, but in the pictures here, she kept her diaper on. We have been very impressed with the weePOD, and I have considered getting a second one in a pretty color (berry blue, perhaps) that we can take with to the babysitter's house or on the road when we travel.
The seat has no hard plastic parts, and it doesn't leave a ring indentation on her rear. It also has a guard on the front for little guys, but I can't vouch for the effectiveness of this feature, since I do not have a son. The reviews on, however,  are overwhelmingly positive. Our daughter has used the seat hundreds of times, and it still looks new. There is no sign of cracking or wear.

We have been very pleased with the weePOD and we highly recommend it!

We haven't started serious potty training yet, but I am looking for ideas. Do you have any tips or tricks to share? What has worked well for your children?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"No!"...Parenting a young toddler

13-months (Written in June, 2013)

Recently, our sweet one-year-old picked up the word "no." She says it with attitude, and she says it often, usually right before she runs away from us. We don't use that word for reprimands in our house- we say "Nay nay" instead and save "no" and "no, thank-you" as answers to questions. However, we can't control what other people say and how they react when she says "No" to us. We are not sure exactly how she caught on to the word, but she definitely figured it out. In fact, she was a pro overnight. For the first week, we tried ignoring it, figuring that she would lose interest if she didn't get a reaction from us. Instead, she pushed her attitude more and more. I stopped wording things as questions. Instead of saying, "Is it time to change your diaper?" "Do you need a new diaper?" or "Do you want some lunch?" I tried to word things as statements that didn't give her the option to say, "No." It still didn't work flawlessly, but it was a little better. Using statements, it was clear that she was being disobedient rather than answering a question, when it was really non-negotiable. Here is a classic example:

"It's been a few hours, Chickadee. It's time for a diaper change!"
"No! No! No!" (very distinctly spoken before turning on her heel and running for the kitchen)

It had to be addressed another way. We began to confront the behavior directly. When she said "No" to us, we would take her aside, get down on her level and say very calmly and clearly, "Please don't say "no" to Mumma (or Daddy). "No" is the answer to a question. When Mumma asks you to do something, you need to obey." If she said it again, we would repeat the process, tapping her mouth with my finger gently for emphasis. I would then "help" her obey me, either by carrying her or leading her by the hand. It took nearly a week to break the worst of the "no habit". She still says it inappropriately occasionally, but she knows she is being naughty and usually she uses it appropriately as the answer to a question or as a "no, thank-you."
UPDATE: At 17-months, she is using "no" more appropriately, but she is learning more words that she can use as responses now. Sometimes she is a goof- she tickles me and then says, very seriously, "Don't touch!" when I begin to tickle her back. I am also noticing that when I ask her a question, she sometimes answers with a positive response now.

She has moved on to tantrums recently. My friends that are mothers say that we may be entering the "terrible twos" stage a little early. My daughter will sometimes react to disappointment with screams and crying, especially when she is hungry or tired. She will stomp her feet and the tears run down her sad little cheeks like nothing I have seen before. However, she has complete control over the tantrum. If she gets what she wants, or thinks she is getting what she wants, she can turn the tears and sadness off like a faucet, though she may gasp for a few moments.

To handle the tantrums, we are finding that completely ignoring them works sometimes (especially at home). Distraction also works very well. For example, if I told her that she has had enough raisins, and she wants more and throws a tantrum, I won't give in with more raisins, but I might silently get out a puzzle on the rug across the room, and pique her interest. In public, I usually say, "Crying isn't going to work, Honey. This isn't how we behave." Then, I remove her from the situation, if possible. She loves to help me do things, so I often try to include her in the tasks I am doing.

What do you suggest for handling tantrums?