Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Pits of the Potty

Also titled: The Diaper Diaries: Epilogue

Way back at the end of May, we decided to jump into potty training. We were getting ready to move Bert into his big boy room, and after much back and forth, decided it would be logical to leave the diapers and the crib behind at the same time. Logical, maybe. Easy, no.

Memorial Day was the official start. I had read through John Rosemond's book Toilet Training Without Tantrums and felt like I was ready to start. The basic premise of his method is go directly to underwear, and don't look back. So with two potties (one for upstairs, one for down), a couple of packs of 2T underwear, and a few pairs of training pants, we jumped in. Although the book recommends staying away from training pants, we decided it might be best to have a few pairs around for times we didn't want to risk puddles in public.

The thing about starting potty training is you have to commit to staying around the house for awhile. At least I felt we did. There were a lot of accidents and a lot of resistance to sitting on the potty. I tried to relax and let Bert self-direct as recommended, but it was really hard for me to not trail him around the house, watching for signs that he needed to pee.

After only one or two successes a day (if any) in the first week, I was beginning to wonder if we really had started too early. Maybe he really doesn't know when he has to go? I thought. Then, one night at supper he started throwing his food on the floor. When we took him out of his seat and made him pick it up, he threw a fit. Then he gave up his trump card: he sat on the floor, staring Keith down, and peed. That kid knew when he needed to go and how to hold it. So we took it up a notch, closing him in the bathroom with his potty and not letting him out until he went. We checked on him every ten minutes or so, and after about an hour, he peed and pooped in his potty.

You would think that would be a turning point, but it wasn't really. He'd go occasionally, but usually only if I shut him in the bathroom or the laundry room with his potty. A lot of times even then he would pee in a corner instead of sitting on the potty. Let's not forget the time I was getting clean underwear for him, only to return and find him squatting and pooping in the kitchen, and then on my foot as I scooped him up and rushed him to the potty. Or when he ran to the couch after I took his swim trunks off, kneeled on it and peed across the living room.

We started using the "potty bell," a timer I set at intervals of when I thought he might need to go. It took the resistance factor away, because within a day or two, when Bert heard the bell he would run back to the potty and take his underwear off. But it was still really hit or miss.

About two and half weeks in, he was running through the kitchen, slipped, and started bawling. The culprit? A puddle of pee I hadn't even discovered yet. As I was down on my hands and knees, tears of frustration rolling down my cheeks, I decided it was time to up the ante. (Also, the thought ran through my mind that maybe potty training during the roller coaster of pregnancy hormones was not such a brilliant plan.) It was time for rewards. Or as I recently heard it called, "extrinsic motivation."

I really didn't want to give rewards. I had it in my head that this was something that was expected of him, and Bert should learn that there are things you just have to do. But I caved and bought a bag of M&Ms. On some advice from my mom about kids and rewards, I decided that every time he peed or pooped in the potty, he would get two M&Ms. If it happened anywhere else, I got two. And I would eat them. In front of him.

It took less than three days.

He bawled, he screamed, he pulled on my leg when I ate his chocolates. But if I had to wipe pee and poop off the floor, two tiny chocolates was the least he owed me. And then it all started to click. I still used the potty bell to help remind him, but in no time he was going by himself. He was even able to pull his underwear down and use the potty with no help from me. Two M&Ms in hand, and he was a different kid.

Roughly two months later, Bert is doing really well. He still wears a diaper or pull-up at night, but occasionally wakes up dry. Most days he is dry when he gets up from a nap as well. I place the potty in his room with him during nap time and he will sometimes go and put himself back to bed or go first thing when he wakes up.

These days, we take the potty everywhere and he will use it in the back of the car when he needs. He will tell us when he needs to go if he can't get to the potty himself (like if we are outside or once, yelling from the backseat, "Need the white potty!" which prompted a quick roadside pitstop). Even during our week in Maine, he only had one accident, which really surprised us because we were prepared for a tough week.

The other thing that gives us peace of mind when we are out and about are wee-wee pads. You know, the ones they make for dogs. We had some leftover from when our dog was getting old and use them in the stroller and car seat to protect against accidents in places that would be tough to clean up. We have also used them in restaurant high chairs and once in an upholstered chair at the doctor's office. There were several times we were very glad we had them.

Now that Bert has the hang of things for the most part, he doesn't even always come looking for his chocolates. And since we know he can go unassisted, he only gets them if all the pee is in the potty (pointing himself down is still a challenge).

Just so you don't think I'm gloating that Bert was potty trained by the time he turned two, you should know that the day I wrote this, he had two all-over-the place accidents. He's been eating cantaloupe and watermelon all day, so I blame it on that. He was still upset when I ate his chocolate.

So, now that you've read my all that, maybe you are wondering what was the point of sharing (possibly over sharing?) all that? Well, if you are family and friends, you might have already heard bits and pieces and it's good for a laugh. But my real point is for any other moms who may stumble across this as they are on the verge, or in the middle of, potty training, and feeling it is a bit hopeless. My best advice is stick with it. Give your kid some credit, he or she can probably handle it. I mean, puppies figure it out. It is a pretty safe bet that the difficult beautiful little person you created can master it too. So stock up on the paper towels, and possibly the carpet cleaner, and go with the flow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Quick Cukes

We are at the moment overrun with cucumbers. Never enough at one time to justify a batch of pickles, but more than enough to keep us crunching on them at every meal. And Bert likes them too, so he's been eating his share. If you're local and want a few, please stop by! And if we aren't here by chance, for the love, just take them off the trellis. I won't miss them.

My mom-mom gave me a recipe for a cucumber salad and when I went to the grocery store this week, I finally remembered to pick up the pimentos it called for. 

Marinated Cucumber Salad

2 medium cucumbers
3 Tbsp. salad oil (I used extra light olive oil)
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. drained minced pimentos
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. basil

About 1 1/4 hours before serving:

1. Peel cucumbers, if desired (I didn't). Thinly slice cucumbers.

2. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers and remaining ingredients, tossing to mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. 

I must say, the hour of marinating is essential. I tasted these immediately after stirring them together and wasn't sure that we would like it because the vinegar flavor came through really strong. But, after sitting for at least an hour, the flavors did really blend and mellow each other out. I was really pleased with this recipe and loved getting to use some of my fresh parsley and basil in it as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sticky Buns, Meet Ham & Cheese

I am a bit surprised I haven't shared this recipe with you yet. I'm guessing it's because it's one I don't make too often. Not because it isn't delicious, but precisely because it is. Two sticks of butter delicious to be exact. The kind of thing that sticks to your buns. (Pun completely intended.)

Ham & Cheese Sticky Buns

1 package Martin's party rolls
1 pound sliced ham
3/4 pound sliced American or Swiss cheese
1 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. mustard (I use spicy brown mustard)

Leaving the rolls attached to one another, slice them in half so you have tops and bottoms. Lay the bottoms in a 9x13" baking dish. Then lay the ham on top, followed by the cheese.

Put the roll tops on top of the cheese.

Bring the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard to a boil and boil for two minutes. Stay next to your pot and keep stirring because that is one sticky mess you don't want boiling over! Not that I speak from experience or anything...

Pour mixture over rolls in baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350˚.


I typically make these for supper, but Keith has been known to eat the leftovers for breakfast. I'm thinking it would be amazing to slip a fried egg in for the morning...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back to the Lake

You probably guessed by the last week and half of silence here that we were away. Once again, we spent a week in Maine. The weather was not nearly as pleasant as other years, much more hot and humid than we would have liked, but it still beat the weather here at home.

Keith took off starting on Friday, and we used the day to mow the yard, finish packing, and make sure everything at home was in order before heading up to my parents'. My dad, brother, and niece hit the road around seven Friday evening, while Keith, Bert, my mom, and I waited until Saturday morning. We were up by three and wheels were rolling by quarter of four. The drive took us about 12 hours, including stops, of which there were plenty with a pregnant lady and potty-training two-year-old.

Sunday was reserved for flea marketing, but I don't have any great finds to report. When Bert started looking tired, Memere and I headed back with him. We did a quick grocery stop before he fell asleep and then, after he had napped awhile in the car, had lunch at a new cafe and then took a little trip down to a pretty incredible general store, which boasts everything from guns to groceries, and whiskey to wedding dresses. No lie, there is really a bridal department on the top floor, on the other side of the stairs from hunting and camping supplies.

When the guys final arrived back at the lake after a few more flea market stops, Popper revealed his big find of the day:

A pedal tractor for Bert (if only he could reach the pedals!) at about one-tenth the price of what they are going for on ebay. It was big entertainment for the whole week.

On Monday, the men put a new roof on the garage.

Bert was excited to discover that a digger had been dropped off to work on a building site just down the road, and took many walks to see it. Even after it was picked up mid-week, he wanted to go point out where it had been and tell us it "went to another work."

Tuesday we went to a nearby town on the coast to have breakfast and check out all the neat little shops.

Wednesday was a new adventure for us, but why we haven't been going for years has us stumped. Our place is on a small lake, which is connected to a much larger lake. On the other side of the large lake, there is a rocky shore with huge rocks going out into the water. It was a perfect place for Bert to wade in, and though it gets busy on evenings and weekends, a mid-week morning was a great time to go.

Zoë and Keith spent a long time trying to catch fish in their hands, and there was also a lot of time spent throwing a football around in the water.

On Wednesday afternoon, Keith and I left Bert back at the lake with the rest of the crew while we headed down to Camden to enjoy an afternoon exploring the shops and some downtime together. And thankfully Bert napped for a couple hours so I don't feel guilty about leaving him!

Thursday the ladies and Bert hung around the lake while the guys did some more poking around flea markets and tool stores. Then we all met for a lobster supper (twin lobsters, two sides, $15.95! Eat local right?) in the late afternoon.

On Friday, everybody but Popper loaded in the truck to go to the Maine State Aquarium near Boothbay Harbor. It was small, but there were several exhibits where you could reach in and feel the sea creatures. Unfortunately, by the end of the week Bert was not in the greatest of moods and refused to touch anything. He was happiest playing with the latches on this outdoor display.

By the time we got back and had lunch it was mid-afternoon, so nobody really wanted much for supper. While in Maine we go for ice cream every night and make one night at the end of the week a big night and get sundaes, so we all agreed Friday night to have sundaes for supper. Banana splits for Popper and Uncle Travis, brownie sundaes for Zoë, Keith and I, while my mom and Bert sampled a bit from everyone.

On Saturday, Popper and Travis went to a truck and tractor show while the rest of us headed back to the rocky shore for awhile in the morning and hung around the lake and started gathering things for departure. The first truckload left after supper, and then we left in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday. A wicked (to use a Maine phrase) storm blew through Saturday evening, but then it was clear and cool and felt the most Maine-like of the whole week. And, around nine that night, those of us who were left got to enjoy a surprise fireworks show across the lake. It was about 15 minutes long, and rivaled some others I've seen. The neatest part was that afterwards, we could hear whistling, clapping, and cheering around the whole lake. It was a perfect end to the week.

Now we are home and just catching up on wash and the garden, settling back into our routines, and realizing that it won't be long now until this new baby arrives!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ready to Roll

One of Bert's birthday gifts from my aunts was a pair of roller skates. I remember having a pair of these as a kid, and they haven't changed except for the color. The same ratcheting, clicking noise that I remember clearly is still there and Bert is having a blast scooting around the house on them. Here's a little video my aunt sent of his first couple of minutes on skates (or his "trucks" as he called them).

So far we've just been using them in the house as he get the feel of them, but he'll be ready for the sidewalk soon. And my clever aunts included a box of band-aids with his gift, so we're covered!

Random note: roller skates for his second birthday makes me think of this Old 97s song, Rollerskate Skinny...

Rollerskate skinny and the terrible twos
How can you have everything and nothing to lose?

Go here and click on "Listen While You Read" to hear it... 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two, Too Fast

The weekend of Bert's second birthday was a busy one. My cousin got married on Saturday (congratulations Joe and Megan!) and, because Saturday was my dad's birthday and Bert shares his birthday with his great-grandpop, my mom hosted a slew of family for all the birthday boys.

She graciously prepped all the food, though Bert helped ice and sprinkle the cake.

"The icing goes right there, Memere!"

Bert has been a bit obsessed with blue-sprinkled donuts from the farmers' market, so Memere really came through on making his cake special.

Then it was time for a little present opening.

Keith and I got him a play kitchen, and some things to go with it.

He was very excited to wash his hands in the little sink.

He loves to help put away groceries, so he was thrilled to have his own little boxes of real crackers to stash in his cabinet.

A ride on the hobby horse from Uncle Travis and Carmela was up next.

Later on, after lunch, it was time for cake and ice cream, with a little help from Zoë to blow out the candle.

Bert had no problem digging into his chocolate cake and homemade black raspberry ice cream on his own.

And apparently I forgot to take any pictures of Bert opening the rest of his presents. He got a bunch of really great things and has been enjoying playing with all of them in the couple days since his birthday.

Thanks to everyone for coming and sharing Bert's big day! It was lovely to see everybody.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Orange, White, and Blue

With nothing else on our plates for the Fourth, we decided to jump on some garden work. Namely, canning carrots. The pulling, scrubbing, peeling, rinsing, chopping, canning process took most of the day, and netted us 15 pint jars of carrots. And we also did 6 pints of green beans. Keith had never been in the house last year when I used the pressure canner, and was a little concerned about all the hissing and noise it made. But we got through the day with no kitchen explosions (or marital ones, which is always a good thing when both of us try to work on our limited counter space).

The nicest part of the day was spending part of the morning pulling the carrots and scrubbing them outside, while Bert ran around.

And how about that volunteer sunflower? We have to remember to cut the flowers off before it goes to seed and we have a hundred of them next year!

"Hmm...let's try a carrot!"

"I think this one needs to be scrubbed a little more."

"Never mind, I'll just suck the dirt off of it."

Along with the peas, spinach, and green beans he has been eating out of the garden, our little herbivore has also started sampling basil, parsley, and sage. He goes back for more on the basil and parsley, but he was clawing the sage off his tongue. And the nets over the blueberries keep the birds out but don't work so well for a toddler with pretty good fine motor skills.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toddler Translation

This barely qualifies as a post, but I'm sure it will give plenty of you a good laugh.

Bert says: You peed on your job.

(Mind you, he hasn't sorted out "you" and "I" yet.)

What Bert means: While you were outside hanging the wash up, I climbed over the gate into your office, got up on your chair, and peed in it.

I suppose he was trying to give me a warning, but I didn't discover it until I sat down.

Get your chuckles out, everybody.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Really, Get on Those Greens

These days are filled with garden chores, toddler chasing, and – do not be surprised – sneaking in an afternoon nap most days. I do my best to make the morning productive for me and fun for the little man, because once the afternoon rolls around, it is often uncomfortably hot to play or work in our unshaded yard.

The other morning, we picked a bunch of basil for a big batch of pesto, and green beans for the freezer.

But not before Bert sampled his share of them, straight out of the garden. Eating fresh green beans in just your skivvies. Ah, to be (almost) two!

Then, as dinner time came along, it was apparent our cabbage needed to be dealt with. I said before that  with baby #2 on the way, I wanted to start making meals for the freezer, and the cabbage has prompted me to do just that, utilizing a couple recipes from my mom.

The first was stuffed cabbage, which got too messy to take pictures of while making so I'll just share the recipe.

Stuffed Cabbage

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork (I used ground turkey)
1 egg beaten
1/4 c milk
1/4 c chopped onion
1 c cooked rice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Steam the cabbage just enough so that you can pull off the leaves easily (you can cut out some of the core before you start). I steamed for about 5 minutes, pulled off everything that seemed tender, then put the remainder of the head back in the pot while I stuffed the leaves I had. Also, you can cut out the biggest of the veins to make it easier to wrap the stuffing.

Put the stuffing on the cabbage leaf (I would estimate about 1/4-1/3 cup in each) and fold/roll sort of like a burrito. Lay in crock pot.

8 oz. tomato juice
1 Tb lemon juice
1 Tb brown sugar
1 tsp worchestershire

Mix sauce and pour over pigs in crockpot.
Lay 2 slices of bacon over top. (The recipe comes out fine if you don't use the bacon.)
Cook on high 4-5 hours; low 7-9 hours.

I was a little apprehensive about this recipe because it seemed like a lot of steps, but really turned out to be not much more work than making a big batch of meatballs. Bert liked them, and we had plenty left for the freezer, so it was definitely worth the time.

The next recipe is sort of like a cabbage stromboli. And if that sounds odd, I understand. But these are really good, so give them a chance.

Beef and Cabbage Runzas

(I went ahead and doubled the recipe to have some to freeze. Ingredient list below is for a single batch.)

2 Tb butter or marg.
2 c thinly sliced cabbage
1 small onion diced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbs flour
1 egg beaten
1 loaf bread dough (I made a batch of regular white bread dough but you can use a frozen loaf.)

Melt butter in skillet. Stir cabbage and onion until coated. Cover skillet and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add ground beef and cook over high heat until beef loses pink color. Reduce heat to medium-stir in salt and pepper, then sprinkle flour evenly over meat mixture. Cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Heat oven to 350.

On lightly floured surface, cut dough into 4 pieces (8 if recipe is doubled). 

Roll and stretch into oval about 6x4. 

Spoon 1/4 of mixture onto half of dough. fold over and pinch edge to seal.

Place on cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with caraway seeds if desired.

Bake 25 minutes until golden brown.

So that's how we are using up cabbage around here, and prepping a bit for the chaos that ensues after bringing a newborn home. Because that event is only three short months away!

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