Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back on the Train...

...the potty train. Before reading, be advised the words "poop", "potty" and "panties" are used frequently throughout this post. If you are offended or grossed out by any of these words you should stop reading now...but if you're a parent I'm sure you're numb to the use of these words!


18 months ago Ruth Ann started showing interest in potty training (that's when the picture above was taken), so 18 months ago I bought a little potty, little panties and we set out on the road to potty training. 18 months ago I sat on top of my VERY high horse and proclaimed I would NEVER put my child in Pull-ups and deemed them "over rated diapers". 18 months later and rivers of tears later (rivers filled with tears belonging to both myself and Ruth Ann) I have spent countless dollars on Pull-ups, new undies and shouted "JUST POOP ALREADY!" more than I ever thought humanly possible...another shining example of how humbling parenting can be...humbling to the point it brings you to your knees in defeat.

As I type the following words I'm knocking on wood, crossing my fingers...whatever it takes in the hopes that I don't jinx myself...since last Thursday afternoon when I picked Ruth Ann up from pre-school she has been wearing wear big girl panties (except when sleeping...don't judge unless you've potty trained) and she's been CLEAN & DRY! Now when she goes to my in-laws tomorrow and back to school next week she'll be back in a pull-up...I'm not ready to send her into the world without a pull-up just yet but we have gone out of the house on several occasions this weekend and she's managed to either use the potty where ever we were or she was able to make it home...success is very near my friends **I began typing this post on Sunday, it's now Tuesday...let me modify this to read she was dry all day Monday while with her grandparents, who rewarded her with a shiny quarter, but she pooped in her undies both yesterday and today...I'm still counting dry undies as a serious improvement!**

Along my 18 month journey I've sought out and received a lot of advice on the subject of potty training...and if you're reading this and you've potty trained a human being you've probably heard all the same advice. What I offer you now is not to be perceived as advice...but rather comfort for those who are fighting, have fought or will one day fight this battle...

1. Pull-ups aren't so bad...they're expensive, but sometimes necessary...so don't judge!  I vowed I wouldn't use them and I probably judged those who had...because before you have kids you think you know EVERYTHING about what you should be doing to raise children correctly...another humbling moment. If I had the luxury of being a stay at home mom I probably would not have used them at all. But since I work 3 days a week and have family keeping my children I didn't want to burden them with the chore of changing dirty panties...if given the choice of changing a dirty pull-up vs. dirty undies...I'll take the pull-up please. Over time Ruth Ann developed a very expensive pull-up habit and I realized I was buying a box of pull-ups nearly once a week...which meant I had to go to Target once a week and once I'm in Target I always need just a few more things & oh the dollars I started adding up in my head...that was when I realized I had to get serious about potty training & fast! I just couldn't afford the $100 cover charge to Target any longer!

2. Every child is different...I know I heard people say this once or hundred times...but it's really true and until you start potty training I don't think there is any way of knowing whether your child will be easy or hard to potty train. I've had friends who practically potty trained they're kids over night...and I HATED hearing their success stories...happy for them, but seriously jealous that I would no longer see them in the diaper isle at the local Target. Ruth Ann is strong willed...with a capital "S". I already see a little leader emerging and one day this strong will is going to take her a long way...and help afford the best nursing care possible for her dear sweet parents...but in childhood her strong will is often times in direct opposition with the plans of her equally strong willed mother...I'm big enough to admit that I know exactly where that strong will came from. I've learned just because they may show interest does not mean it's going to happen over night...for some it might, but I'm here to say I tried IT ALL!! I used rewards...first candy because we usually don't keep sweets in the house, but that didn't make an impact...then I had toys displayed on the back of the potty for months as a reward for going the whole day with clean undies...after being taunted for months by those barbies, which to me were proof of my continuing failure, I took them to the beach on our family beach trip and told my niece & Ruth Ann if they could go the whole day without having an accident then I would give them a barbie. Ada has been potty trained for a while so I knew she would get a Barbie each night...I thought a little competition might push Ruth Ann in the right direction. Each night Ada got a Barbie...Ruth Ann never got one. She cried for a minute or two, but soon forgot and went back to her un-trained ways...clearly competition and bribery weren't working. I tried putting her in cloth training pants and regular undies...she would just mess them up and not tell me until I found the mess for myself later. One blog suggested taking 1-2 weeks of staying home all day every day and doing nothing but potty training...but I have a limited amount of vacation time off and if you think I'm spending 2 weeks of my precious vacation time potty training then you've lost your mind!

In the end I think she just wasn't ready. She couldn't hold it and she wasn't going to the bathroom completely when I made her sit on the potty. My friend Brantley gave me the best piece of advice about timing...leading me to my 3rd tip...

3. When you notice they are waking up from nap time and bed time dry then it may be a good time to start potty training. So I started making sure she went to the potty before nap time and bed time and I limited her fluids after supper time...success! She was waking up dry...so we started talking more about going to the potty again...the tears returned but mostly because I was interrupting what she was doing, but last night she actually stopped what she was doing and told us she needed to go to the potty! Behold, I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

If you're in the middle of potty training and would like some moral support...please feel free to contact me...I'll offer no advice because I'm seriously the last mom on the planet to offer potty training advice...but I'll be happy to offer you what ever sympathy you may need...because really that's all we need some times as moms...someone to listen to us and take their turn to try to guide us in the correct direction.  I'll also share with you my own horror stories in the hopes to cheer you up and encourage you that you will make it through the potty training years...and hopefully your child will survive them too.  I was fully prepared to send Ruth Ann off to college with her Depends in hand...but I'm finally to a place where I believe she may actually be potty trained by then!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

These days...

In the last few weeks my life has been consumed by what seems to be a million little chores. After finally getting through weeks of consignment sales...which I'll post on and offer some tips for future consigning...and finally feeling like my house is clean and somewhat tidy...I feel like I'm starting to regain some of my sanity. I don't know where I heard these words...I read a lot of blogs and I check Facebook frequently so I probably picked it up in one of those two places...but throughout my most stress filled days in recent weeks, my mantra has been...

These days may seem long...


But these years are short.


As frustrated as I get with the blond headed child...I know I only get a few brief years with her...although I've told her she can live with me forever...we just haven't cleared that with her daddy yet. I'm trying hard to look past the messy house, the drama-mama tears and the defiant moments...which is hard...and enjoy these short years I get to spend with my little ones.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

A day at the "lake"

For as long as we've been friends with Graem and Brantley Clark we've heard stories about "Travis"...and if you know Travis you understand the need for quotation marks.  At most all the Clark events they've hosted we've always told he's going to be there but he's either been a no-show or his arrival was well after we had left the party. Travis is a childhood friend of Graem's and a few years ago purchased a "lake resort" in their hometown. A few weeks ago Graem mentioned Travis would love to have us all come down to Richardson's Lake and spend the day. Unfortunately warm summer weekends were limited and since Saturdays in the Fall revolve around football games we weren't able to stay as long as we might have liked. Arch claimed we would actually be swimming in a "pond" not a "lake"...which ended up being the truth...but it's not the first time I've gone swimming in a pond...and it's definitely the most fun I've ever had pond swimming! We arrived to a warm welcome from Travis...with free admission and the best seats in the house. The weather was fantastic...which I don't think Travis had anything to do with, but he might actually take credit for it anyway!

Here's our host and Roper...


The girls did a little sliding on the baby slide...



I'm not sure if this was breaking any rules...





But there was minimal supervision...


Graem had vacated his post when a much larger 10-ish year old little girl came down the larger slide right on top of Ruth Ann...she wasn't hurt, but mostly just scared. Imagine an angry bear stomping entering the water...that was me. I picked Ruth Ann and lectured the little girl about being more responsible. She apologized several times but I didn't care...I was seeing red. Another mother came up and asked if it had been her son that had caused the accident.  I told her no and explained what had happened...but from the shore Sally and Brantley thought this was the momma of the little girl I was scolding and perhaps things were going to get ugly. I'm not violent in anyway...but in the famous words of Graem Clark "It felt like good fighting weather." Had I been approached it most definitely could have turned ugly quickly...but that little girl's mother either didn't mind having a stranger scold her or she was noticeably absent...or maybe both...who knows...but the fun did continue on...

The boys played...


Travis passed out treats for the kids...


And the men played too...



The walkway looks really close to the end of the slide...even in person...but Travis said the goal of the kids who slide is to be able to touch the walkway with their feet. We saw one little kid get close, but I think you have to weigh less than 100lbs to achieve this goal...adults who slide look like this upon entry...


Then we sat down to eat a quick lunch and the ladies spotted a hot ride coming our way...


Oh wait, that's just our men being chauffeured by Travis in his baby blue El Camino...I'm told it also a sweet sound system...a boom box...classy!


We finally headed back to Columbia so some of Gamecocks in my life could get home in time to watch their football game...even though I missed the first 3 quarters of mine, but I'm willing to make sacrifices for a good time...and a good time was had by all! We're looking forward to more time spent "pond side" next summer! Thanks again Travis!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beach Recap

So the thought crossed my mind this week that I never finished posting all of our pictures from the beach...so here's a quick summary of how the rest of our week went...

My SIL, Toni, is a park ranger in the upstate and had heard through her park ranger friends that during our time at the beach the loggerhead sea turtle nests were expected to start hatching and the rangers at Huntington State Park would have scheduled times were the public could watch them check the nests. There was a little mis-communication and we thought we would actually be seeing the little sweet sea turtles actually hatching and heading out to sea. We quickly ate our dinner on the night we had decided to go watch the sea turtles and raced out of the door and down to Huntington State Park...but this was as close as we got to any sea turtles....


Ruth Ann picked the last one up and held it tight while begging us to take it home...just kidding...what you're looking at is a model of what the sea turtles look like. The nest had hatched several days earlier and the rangers come back several days after they're sure the nest is empty to count the number of hatched and un-hatched eggs...


This ranger is putting the shell remains into groups of ten so she can do a quick count in the end. The nest had about 120 hatched eggs and only a few that didn't hatch so it was a success. We learned a little info about sea turtles and the most interesting quote from the evening was the ranger explaining just how little we actually know about sea turtles. The only time we get a glimpse into sea turtle activity is when they come ashore to lay their eggs. The analogy he made is to that of aliens coming to Earth to study humans but the only time they could study our activity is while women were in labor...yikes! Here is a picture of the very knowledgeable ranger with our very own family park ranger...I wish Toni had brought along her matching hat...maybe next year!


Huntington State Park is really a beautiful place...and yet another reminder of how lucky I am to live in such a fabulous state. Sometimes it's hard to imagine what the beaches looked like before they were filled with hotels and houses...this gives you an idea of the beaches prior to being populated...


We took advantage of some beach pictures without houses in the background and took a few family pictures...







Then we made the walk back down the beach...with the help of my mom and Toni we carried the double stroller out to the beach and pushed that thing to the nest they were checking that night...but here's why it's handy to bring along a few teenage boys for the walk back to the car...


The rest of the week was filled with beach times and nap times...









And we tried to get a few evening beach pictures of our own...and I'm reminded once more how hard it is to get children to take a good picture and I'm thankful for a great professional photographer in my life!






I wanted to get one with Ruth Ann walking in the water with her dress...but it looks like my years of keeping her as clean as possible back fired on me and someone didn't want to get her dress wet...


Then we flew some kites Aunt Toni had brought...


And fought over the kites Aunt Toni had brought...



We also tried to get a family picture...possibly for the Christmas card this year...


Spencer brought a friend to the beach and his birthday was a few days after we left...and since I don't need much of an excuse to buy a birthday cake we had a little birthday party while we were there too...


And that wraps up the Beach Pictures of 2011...we're already booked for next year and can't wait!

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