The Northeastern Ohio Bathroom Inspection Committee

I have a two-year-old and a five-year-old.  They are both potty trained.  I have no idea how to potty train children.

Both my daughters woke up one day at about age two and a half and were like “Diapers?  Meh.  SO yesterday.” 

Whenever I explain that to someone, I picture this in my head for some reason.

And that was that.

When people are like “Hey, do you have any advice on potty training?”  The best I can come up with is “If you wait long enough and don’t pressure, it’ll happen.”  Which I guess is technically true.  But not very helpful.

Sorry if you hate me now.

What has happened since then is that I have become part of the Northeastern Ohio Bathroom Inspection Committee.  Our goal is to visit every bathroom, everywhere, even if we do not have to pee.  Corinne is the founding member.  Ashlynn is the vice president.  Kirk and I are reluctant facilitators.

We have tried the whole “Go now so you do not have to go when we get there tactic.”  Nope.

I have resorted to lying about whether or not a store has a bathroom.  That worked until Corinne figured out the “women” symbol on the door.

Look! That sign means mommy's a liar.

So now, everywhere we go, we have to check out the bathroom.  Sometimes twice.  Sometimes the woman’s AND the men’s room.  Because they are different, you know.  Here is what my daughters picture a department store or restaurant’s bathroom to look like:

Probably Target’s. That one’s their “favorite.”
And this is what Mommy sees:

Also? Don't ever type "disgusting bathroom" into Google Image Search. You're welcome.

They also like to gang up on us-one parent has to take both kids into the bathroom at once.  I do not know why we allow this-possibly because we are preparing for when we are outnumbered with child #3, or possibly because the other parent can grab five minutes of awesome “quiet time.”  Either way-it’s gotten a little crazy.

Plus?  Corinne has decided she needs her own stall and she needs to lock the door.

Which brings me to tonight at Cici’s pizza.  Ashlynn wanted to go in a regular stall and Corinne insisted on the big handicapped stall, complete with tall toilet and locked door.  So I’m helping Ashlynn when I hear this:

“Hey, Mom?” (When did I stop being Mommy?)  “I can’t reach the toilet paper.  Come in and get me some.”

“I can’t.  You had to lock the door.”

“So crawl underneath it.  You might fit.”

“Absolutely not!!”

So instead of getting down and getting toilet paper, she climbs down off the toilet, waddles the five feet to the door with her underwear around her ankles, unlocks it and says “You can come in now.”

Then she waddles back to the toilet, sits back down, and points imperiously to the toilet paper dispenser….six inches from the toilet.

Sigh.

🙂

Any other potty-obsessed children out there??
 

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Top 10 Reasons It Is Awesome to Be a Parent

On Christmas Eve, after the kids were asleep and my husband and I had lugged all the presents from Santa’s Workshop (aka the closet upstairs) and laid them under the tree, I stood back and clapped my hands and squealed like a little girl.  Because I do things like that.  And I said “I can’t wait to see their faces in the morning!  This has to be one of the top ten best things about being a parent!”

And my husband looked at me and said: “I want to see that list.”

After asking for further explanation, he told me that he wanted to see the rest of the top ten list.  Obviously, playing Santa was on it, but what else?  What were the top ten things (or moments) that made parenting so incredibly worth it?  Well, my friends, that was just a blog post waiting to happen…but it took some serious thought on my part first.

Parenthood is the hardest, scariest, most frustrating, rewarding, awesomest job ever.  In no particular order, here’s why:

(May I add that at this point I had to stop typing this entry for 15 minutes while I cleaned up the juice my two-year old dumped all over our computer desk.  Ah, parenthood.)

Playing Santa

Obviously!  There are few things more magical than seeing your children’s eyes light up when they walk into the living rom Christmas morning and see that, at long last, Santa has come!  I do (and will continue to do) everything I can to perpetuate the Santa myth to my kids.  Christmas takes on a whole new meaning when you literally become Santa for someone!

Snuggles and Cuddles

They happen at random, and most of the time when you need them most.  When your child is on your last nerve and you are about to explode and then they just come running up to you and give you the biggest hug possible.  Nothing beats hugs and kisses for stress relief, ya know.  I personally enjoy early morning, just-got-out-of-bed, tousled hair cuddles the most.  But they’re all good.  Oh yes, all good 🙂

Sleeping on Your Lap

Oh, the absolute trust these kids have in you.  They curl right up and fall asleep on you without thinking twice.  And you will do anything..put a stop to your day..let vital appendages fall aslep…just to make sure you don’t have to move and wake them.  As my kids get older, they do this less and less…I really miss it!  (So now we have slumber parties and crash on the floor together as a substitute!)

Singing Happy Birthday

This is up there with playing Santa.  Nothing beats the joy that lights up a child’s face while the whole room focuses on them and sings happy birthday before that big moment of blowing the candles out.  And to know that you orchestrated this, set up a party, bought a cake, and made that moment happen?  Whoa.  Just whoa.

Being Born

Birth is special.  Ok, there are a lot of things about childbirth that suck, especially for the mom, of course, but this quote about sums it up:

“God may be hard to find in this world, but seeing your baby born is as close to a burning bush as you get.”

In that instant when two people in the room become three, when you go from being a husband and a pregnant woman to a family.  There’s no other magic like that.  None on this earth.

Laughing Together

My children crack me UP.  They say the funniest things, usually completely out of the blue.  They keep me rolling.  For example, the other day we were driving down the road, when just completely offhandedly my four-year old asked “Hey Mom, is it okay if I say shit?”  I about drove off the road from laughing so hard.

Watching Them Sleep

This obsession starts at birth and apparently never stops.  There is something incredibly peaceful about watching your child sleep. (For more reasons than just one…I mean, now Mommy can break out the wine.)  You watch them breathe, tuck the covers around them, smooth back their hair, give a gentle kiss…sigh…contentment.

Listening to Them Pretend

Sometimes my daughters decide they hate our dog, and they choose one of their rooms to go into and shut the door.  Then they proceed to play together in there with relatively little fighting (mostly).  Listening through the door is one of the best things ever.  My thoughts generally go down one of three paths: where did they get that?! … OMG they sound exactly like me/their dad … rolling on the floor laughing.  As a teacher we find it extremely informative to watch how a child plays pretend.  It says a lot about their home life, etc.  It’s no less interesting as a parent, and definitely eye-opening!

Re-experiencing Things Through Their Eyes

There’s a reason kids make Christmas so magical.  They have a fresh newness and adoration for it that you haven’t experienced since you were a kid.  You get to re-experience it vicariously through them, and it is awesome.  Watching my kids brings back all the magic and good memories from my own childhood.  First time at the beach, building a sandcastle, catching fireflies, it’s all so much more awesome because you are sharing it.  Sometimes it’s an old family tradition, sometimes it’s something you forgot you ever did until they ask, but it’s always amazing.

Explaining Things

This goes hand-in-hand with re-experiencing things.  Your kid asks you a question and you have to answer it, but you have to tone it down in a way that they can understand.  It makes you think about things in a whole new way, and gives you some pretty cool insights.  This happens to me a lot in traffic:

Ashlynn:  Mommy!  Go!  Go now!  I want to go to the store!

Me: I can’t.  We’re at a stoplight.

Ashlynn: Why?  Go!  There’s no cars! 

Me: I can’t.  The light is red.  Mommy would get in trouble.

Ashlynn: Why?

And since I really can’t explain traffic tickets and fines to my two-year old, I have to talk about rules and being safe and policemen and it makes me see the situation in a completely different light.  Also, sometimes it makes me learn new things, like when Corinne asked me if spiders sleep standing up or lying down the other day…

Okay, so there are more than 10.  Sue me.

You Totally have an Awesome Excuse

Oh come on.  Don’t tell me as a parent you haven’t used your kid(s) at one time or another to get out of something you didn’t want to do.  Or call off work.  Or at least get off a boring phone call because oh no Billy is crying and I really have to go now bye!  Sometimes the excuse is honest to God real, and sometimes it’s not.  But no one knows, and I’ll never tell.  Promise.

Free to Act Like a Kid

I freaking love play dough and coloring.  But if I sat around and did it all day as a single 20-year-old (or a married any year old, or whatever) people would look at me funny.  Kids give you license to do fun stuff and people just say “Awwwww, look at her/him playing with their kids!  What a great parent!”  So now I can play in the sand, roll down a hill, sled ride, have a slumber party, play in piles of leaves…the list goes on and on-and it’s a GREAT list!

I’ve loved sharing this list with you, and thanks for reading, it truly made me be really introspective about parenting!  But now I want to know…what would you add?  I know I missed some, there are thousands of reasons parenting is awesome.  Please share!

Baby Advice

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Mommy with the ….

Well, there are a lot of people that don’t do it in that order anymore, but I’m a purist, I suppose.

Lately, I have found myself surrounded by pregnant people.  Ok, pregnant ladies.  I’ll let you know if I see any pregnant men.

There are at least 5 people pregnant at work and multiple Facebook friends are announcing it as well.  Must be the trendy thing to do! 

And a lot of these people are first time moms, and since I’ve been there, done that before and plan to do it again, I feel the urge to give them a few tips.

But not annoying tips.

I remember the first time I was pregnant and every other person was like “Oh my GOD they grow SO fast!” (Duh.  The pregnancy was already flying by at neck-breaking speed.) 

Or my favorite- “Enjoy your sleep while you can, you won’t be getting any for a while!”  (Duh, again.  Also, you try sleeping with a squirming watermelon in your waistband, then tell me how a pregnant woman is supposed to enjoy her sleep.) 

She's totally faking

But honestly, I adored being pregnant.  No, really.  I was that annoying woman.  But now that I see others getting their first time belly bumps, I want to share the things I wish someone had told me, because they are some of the things I most wanted (or needed) to hear.

Also because it helps tone down my desire to get pregnant again RIGHT NOW.

Also because I think I feel kind of old.

So here’s my parenting advice (keeping in mind the fact that I am totally winging this as I go.  And also the fact that sometimes I don’t take my own advice.)

Don’t Buy Everything

I’m serious.  During those nine long months of pregnancy, all you have to do is sit there and internet shop or randomly roam around Babies’R’Us and hold up outfits and squeal, usually with a bored, non-pregnant friend.

But people will buy you stuff.  People you never knew even knew your name will buy you baby gifts.  And you’ll probably have a shower.  There’s something about a baby that gives everyone the urge to shop.

When you register, take someone with you that has had a baby in the past six months.  Bribe them with food or babysitting if you need to.  If you have no such person, grab someone with an infant in Babies’R’Us.  They’ll be happy to help.  It’s way too tempting to register for every silly awesome gadget just because it’s nifty.  And then you end up with hundreds of dollars worth of stuff you never even look at.

And it will all, ALL be pink or blue. No exceptions.

You Don’t Need Everything Now

My kids didn’t sleep in a crib until they were six or seven months old.  But it was the first thing we bought when that little pink line showed up.  We bought loads of sippy cups, and Corinne refused to drink out of all but one specific kind until well after she’d learned to drink from a cup. 

Babies are picky about bottle nipples and binky types.  Some diapers will give them rashes.  Some babies are born too big to wear “newborn” size.  Some grow slower(or faster) than others and don’t need seasonal clothes quite as soon as you’d think.  Buy and register carefully, and keep your receipts!

You Will Give Birth

Yes, there is a time (somewhere between 30-40 weeks.  Or ALL the time between 30-40 weeks) when you will think “This baby is never, ever going to be born and I will be huge and fat and pregnant forever.”  No one is pregnant forever.  It will happen. 

Same thing with the thought “I will never be able to have this baby.  It has become physically impossible and I simply refuse.”  Yeah, that’s not happening either.  You will become unpregnant.  And I’m not going to feed you that “Women have been doing it for millenia” drivel.  That is not a comfort.  Women Scwimen.  YOU haven’t been doing it for millenia, so what do you care?  How exactly is that supposed to help you?  What will help you is knowing that you have a support team to back you and a body that’s pretty well programmed for this.  And medical people that are experienced in this sort of thing. 

(I was going to but a picture here.  Let’s just say I highly recommend NOT searching “big pregnant” on Google Images.)

Control Your Own Delivery.  BEFORE You Go Into Labor

Oh my God, make the big decisions with your significant other ahead of time.  And make sure they know that they need to stand by them or you will kill them after the delivery and being in a hospital will be of no help.(I must say, my husband was awesome at this.  No, he’s not for sale.  We can talk renting if the price is right.)  When you are in labor your brain leaves the building and I don’t care if you are medicated or not, you don’t want to have to make one single damn decision.

I’m not talking about the big decisions like natural vs. c-section.  You might have a say in that, but it’s a preference.  I’m talking about making sure people you do not want in the delivery room are not there.  Making sure the people that need to stay within viewing above your waist remain above.you.waist.  Making sure the right people get called to announce the news because a phone call will not be your priority. 

You will remember, set in stone, virtually everything that happens while you deliver a baby.  Try to make it a memory to look back on well.  Not one that pisses you off because so-and-so drove you crazy or did this crappy thing.

Prioritize

This is one piece of advice I heard but chose to ignore.  But seriously, nobody cares if you have a one-week-old and you haven’t vacuumed the damn rug.  Go take a nap or something.

Get That Kid on A Schedule

Not at first.  Let the baby do it’s own thing for the first 6-8 weeks.  You are just baby’s slave during that time.

But after that, get them on a schedule.  And I mean post-haste.

This is the number one biggest thing I did that has made my life easier as a parent.  I’m not talking about Junior eating breakfast from 8:24am-9:12am and then exercising from 9:12am-10:22am and then napping from 10:22am-11:47am.  Yeesh.

Not a good schedule. For the baby OR the parents

Pick a general schedule and stick with it.  Be realistic.  Life happens.  There are days when scheduling is just shot.  But for the most part,  naptimes and feeding times should be around the same time everyday.  Bedtime should have a  basic routine.  something as simple as jammies, book, brush teeth, bed will work if you do it every night.

(And OHMIGOD if your kid wakes up during the night do everything you can to show them it is sleep time.  Don’t turn on the light or tv.  Don’t talk to them (much, anyways) or tickle or play.  Give them what they need and put them straight back to bed and THE END.  You are welcome.)

Be prepared to adjust as your kids grow.  Right now we eat lunch at 12, nap from about 1-3, go to bed at 8.  Simple as that.  (Oh, and there is NO sleeping in our house after 4pm.  Night time is sleeptime and sleeptime is sacred.) 

The glory of it is that once you get a schedule in place, then you can sometimes deviate (like I know we will on Christmas Eve).  Deviating without a schedule is disastrous because the kids just never know what is going on.  Sometimes not knowing what is going on is ok.  But never?  Not so much.  Routine is key.

And yes, you have to adjust your own life. That means I can’t shop from 1-3 and I need to get a sitter if I want to see a movie that goes past 8pm.  I chose to be a parent.  I make sacrifices.  You will too.  Deal.  Or face the consequences.*

*Consequences include but are not limited to: sleepless nights, crankiness, temper tantrums, excessive whining and extreme frustration. From the parents.

And no one- I repeat-no one, wants to listen to that.

They’ll Hit the Milestones

This is the BIG one.  As a teacher AND a parent, I find myself referencing  this ALL THE TIME.

Ever met a teenager that wears a diaper?  Sucks a binky?

Ever talked to an adult that never learned to walk?  That doesn’t sleep through the night by choice?

No?

Me either.

Well, except for your deviant weirdos

You kid will do the things they need to do at their own pace.  So much parenting frustration comes from people who think their kid is ______weeks/months/years old and should be doing_________by now.  Bull.  These kids don’t read your calendars, people.

It will happen.  Almost certainly not when you want it to. (Yes, I would have preferred my children to be potty trained by age two.  No, it did not happen.  And no, no one died from it not happening.  Surprise!)

Hope this advice helps! Welcome to the parenting club for the first, second or whatever time!  And always remember our motto: 

We’re all just flying by the seat of our pants! 

September Fan-dom

What I adored in September:

1. My Nook Simple Touch Reader

I sound like a total hypocrite when I say that I’m really sad Borders went out of business…but I love my Nook.  Guess I’m a hypocrite.  It’s true that I love the smell of books, adore libraries, and get a little high from cracking open a new (or much-loved) book.  But I also love the ease and convenience of being able to download an 800 page book in 20 seconds and then throw it into my purse and have it only weigh an extra 10 ounces. 

When my old friend the Sony eReader Touch went to the big electronic depot in the sky, I was lost.  Nook?  Sony?  Kindle?  Ipad?  Technology flummoxes me.  I wanted something that could download library books and use all the books I’d bought for my previous ereader.  Nook was the answer!!  I LOVE this thing and would recommend it to anyone!  Here’s my justification for my choice:

Sony Ereaders: are being phased out and got rid of their touch edition. (boo)

Kindle: Could not handle EPUB editions at the time I was buying, so I would have missed out on library books (this problem has since been fixed)

Ipad: Tempting.  But expensive.  And if I have an Ipad full of games in front of me, the odds of reading a book get significantly lower.  Plus my kids would take it.  And I have an Iphone.  Which is just an Ipad Mini.

Nook Color: Books are black and white.  Children’s books are in color.  And my Nook is MOMMY’S Nook.  So I skipped the color and the extra price tag.

2. Ramseyer Farms

I’ve been to multiple pumpkin patches in Northeast Ohio, and after going to Ramseyer 3 years ago, I’ll never go to any other.  This place is amazing!!  There are so many crazy fun things to do for kids AND adults, and their pick-your-own pumpkins are only 25 cents a pound!

Corn slide! Woohoo!

Now, given we went on a rainy, chilly day because my hubby had specially requested the day off and the weather gods were angry, we still had a fantastic time!  More so because there was hardly anyone else there, so we had free reign of the place with no waiting!

Rainy, cold duck races are SO much better than warm, sunny ones. Mostly because there aren't rude big kids shoving my kids out of the way!

 That’s how you know a place is awesome-it’s cold and rainy and you STILL love it!

Ashlynn, the pumpkin princess and Daddy the coachman

3. Karin Slaughter

If that’s not the world’s silliest pseudonym, I don’t know what is.  But I also don’t care, because this woman writes some awesome crime/thriller fiction.  Her characters are really believable and the plots are full of constant action so you never get bored.  The best part is she wrote two separate series and then a third series that combines the two.  And I love a good crossover!!

If you’re interested in her books, the first one you want to start with is “Blindsighted.”  Highly recommend!

4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

nom nom nom

I make these every fall and my hubby adores them.  The smell of pumpkin and chocolate chips in our kitchen means that fall, trick or treat, and Halloween decorations are definitely here!

5. My Friend Kristin

She’s been through some tough times lately, but she’s still an awesome person and I wanted to let her know we’re behind her 100%!  Love ya, woman! 🙂

6. Students and Family

Because we are revamping our intervention system in my school district, I just got to actually start working with kiddos this past Monday.  Love it!  I know that bureaucracy and paperwork have their place, but I’m in this job to work with students!  So happy that’s finally started happening, and now I know this school year will fly by in an absolute blur 🙂

And, as for every month, my kids and family.  My husband is amazing at keeping this family trucking along any way he can, and my kids are simultaneously crazy/hilarious/enervating/annoying/silly/surprising all the time, at one time!  Wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world…

Picture courtesy of Corinne. Because my four-year-old is an awesome photographer, that's why!

In Which I Tell the Truth and Do Not Care What You Think

Today was a day.

I had to wake up early (er) than usual due to a meeting, and after a three day weekend no less, but the thing is I got out of the house without waking up the husband, the kids, or the dog.  The gerbil was already awake.  I claim no blame for that.

When I do wake up the children, I always think “Man, wouldn’t getting ready be easier if they were still in bed?”  And when I do not wake up the children, I always think “Man, now I can’t kiss and hug them before I leave.”  Because I am impossible to make happy, that’s why.

I temporarily subbed in kindergarten this morning.  It was fun because I absolutely love kindergarten.  It was unfun because I had no clue what I was doing.  Fortunately, 5 year olds are pretty easy to fool.  They had no idea I had no idea.  We were all idea-less together.  It was awesome.  And we sang songs.  One involved sticking our butts out, so that was a big hit.  More awesomeness.  That’s why I don’t teach high school.  Because they would have to be all snotty and call me on having no clue what I was doing.  And they’d probably comment nastily on me and my butt sticking out.

I came home to hear that my children had been wonderful for the babysitter.  I don’t know what children she’s watching, but they are not mine.  I don’t know why I pay this woman to watch other people’s angelic children.

Within three minutes of my being home, Corinne had jumped off the arm of the couch twice.  She landed on the dog the second time.

We went to Burlington to return the too-small dress shirt my husband had purchased.  My daughters took turns running down the aisle to try on different funky men’s hats, then running back to show them off.  Usually I stop them from doing this, but today I had put on my tired mom hat so I just pretended I didn’t notice.  Oddly enough, everyone lived.  Stores shouldn’t put straightways around the place if they don’t want races, is what I say.

When we got home I intended on putting in some quality play time but instead we laid on the couch and watched Disney movies because the temperature has fallen below 70 so I am preparing for hibernation.  Thanks Walt Disney for raising my children today!

During the ten minutes I got to see my husband (and by see I mean talk on the phone over screaming children between his double shifts) Corinne slammed Ashlynn’s finger in the door.  If I ever find the direct connection between my phone’s power button and my children’s volume, I WILL sever it posthaste.

Corinne is beginning her second and final year of preschool tomorrow.  I am pretending this is not happening.  If I pretend hard enough she will just be a baby again and the end.  She may protest the diapers but I bet she’d take a bottle in a red hot second.  I am also pretending that I wam not completely missing having a part in it, since my husband will drop her off and the sitter will pick her up.

Thus, the day.  Now I am watching Hoarders and typing a blog.  I should cricut some stuff.  But meh.  It’s that kind of day, I say!