Monday, December 31, 2012

That's What Chloe Said - December

CUBUZ= Because
Chloe very recently started asking "Why" and answering "Because." The why got a little annoying really quickly. Here's an example of a recent Chloe conversation:
-Chloe, go to the bathroom so we can brush your teeth.
-Because we need to brush your teeth.
-So your teeth can be clean.
-So they don't get cavaties and so your breath smells pretty.
-Chloe - just get over here you little turkey!
CUBUZ, on the other hand, never gets old. She actually said "because" once last night and I was a little sad.

Chloe's new skill of using the potty has provided her a new and powerful bedtime stalling tool. Quarter 'till 10pm we hear Chloe calling from her room, "Daddy! I want to go peepee on the potty!" As if we can turn down that request. Then she asked for a potty treat! Ha!

In the van on the way home Chloe burps.
Solana says, "excuse you."
Chloe says, "you're excused."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Potty Training Day 4 and Day 5

Day 4. I have to admit, I didn't completely keep my cool over the last few days but the one time I felt annoyed and used a little too mean of a Mommy voice I'm pretty sure Chloe didn't notice. It was the time she ran away from me to hide and pee. I told her, "Noooo Chloeeee! You do NOT run away from Mommy and pee pee on your pants! That is NOT ok!" and she replied, "Why?" I just stood there in stunned silence (pretty sure my mouth was gaping) before she and I went to work cleaning. That was the end of day 2 and I wasn't feeling great about potty training at the end of Day 2. I was persistent, though, and never went back to diapers (even though the little devil on my shoulder - aka Dave Hendrickson - tried to convince me otherwise on multiple occassions). My left knee is killing me from kneeling on the hard floor to put panties on, clean messes, clean the potty chair, keeping Chloe company on the potty, etc.

The results of Day 4 are as follows:
-Zero accidents
-Several potty successes
-A few extended potty trips but shorter on average than the day before
-2.5 hours playing in the snow and staying dry
-More time spent in the carpeted areas of the house

A few things that I think really helped:
-Owning a home with a large floored area enclosed by really nice gates. We comfortably spent the majority of 4 days in the kitchen/fireplace room/four seasons room area and didn't worry too much about accidents. Of course, the four seasons room has carpet but it's that short hard kind and has already seen its fair share of cat pee. I wasn't too worried about cleaning that carpet. Dave also kept a fire going for two days. As a result, the fireplace room was cozy warm and filled with fun toys, potty training books, and potty training videos. It was a pretty nice potty training environment.
-Doing potty training over the winter break. No school, no appointments, and no trips anywhere to create extra stress.
-Doing the groceries and all errands before beginning potty training.
-Devoting myself to potty training. Besides cooking and maybe a little laundry I pretty much did nothing else for three days straight. Staring at Chloe's naked butt and monitoring her fluid intake/output became tiresome, for sure, but it made a big difference.
-Committing to panties and sticking to it.
-Getting Chloe involved in cleaning up of messes. She helped wipe the floor, pulled off her own soiled clothes, and took them to the washing machine. It's a natural consequence to making messes and showed her that messes don't magically disappear.
-Potty training at 3 years 4 months. She was definitely ready.
-Peanut M&M's. She never got those before and they were such a big deal. She never forgot to get her potty treat with every success. The variety of colors also made it exciting because she made a big deal about picking the color each time. "Hmmm. I waaaaant GREEN!"
-Letting her get up and walk around during extended potty visits. She was always surrounded by toys and books while sitting on the potty. Often times she wanted to switch out a toy or book and would get up to pick a new one. I would let her. If she peed on the way to get a new toy it would be a learning/teaching moment. But that never happened. Of course, I wouldn't let her doddle and stand at the dollhouse playing because that would be asking for an accident but I would let her walk to the doll house, pick out a new doll, and come back. There was a time or two when I took her pants off her ankles and we ran circles around the room together just to stretch her legs. Those were during the really long potty visits when I knew for sure that her bladder was full and wanted her to continue on the potty. Because she had some freedom and wasn't tied down to the potty she was ok with staying on the potty until she made peepee.

Playing in the snow on Day 4

Potty training wasn't always fun and games. This is what happened when I told Chloe it was time to come inside from playing to take a potty break. Biggest fit ever! I felt bad for making her come in from the snow so I offered her a cookie (I know, horrible) and she immediately said in the cheeriest sweetest voice ever, "Okay! I'm as happy as can be!" I couldn't help but laugh.

It looks like Solana is teaching Chloe some new tricks.

Day 5
9:00 Trip to the Dentist with Solana. Chloe went potty twice before we left. While at the dentist she opened her legs, squatted a bit, and asked to go potty. I grabbed my Potty Training Travel Bag (equiped with seat insert, clean pants and panties, and wipes), scooped her up, and ran to the bathroom. I was sure she had wet herself but she was dry and immediately went in the toilet!
11:00 My friend, Kristine, came over with her kids to sled in the snow. Chloe went #1 and #2 in the potty right before they arrived. We spent an hour outside and then went out for lunch. She has been clean all day.

I think potty training is over. We're now in maintenance phase. That wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Two tiring days where I'd much rather have been doing something else. But all in all a success. Way to go Chloe Bea! You're a big girl now!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Potty Training Day 3

Potty Training at Christmas
This was a common sight in our house today.

We saw great strides today! I was worried in the morning. Chloe wouldn't pee when she got up. Dave wanted to put her in a diaper for presents but I'm stubborn. No diapers during the day. Period. No exceptions. Any time she pees her pants and it's "ok" because of a diaper is a setback and I'm working too hard for setbacks. I brought fresh panties and pajamas into the fireplace room and expected an accident at some point during gifts . And I got it! I was ready, though, and we cleaned up and changed in no time.

After a wonderful morning of opening presents and breakfast I took the girls for a bath. Chloe played in the bathroom on and off the potty for a good half hour before she peed and was allowed into the tub. As exhausted as I was of staring at her little bootie I was excited at what I thought to be a turning point. As Chloe sat on the potty playing with  her little toys she sort of went into a trance and said, "I'm making peepee" under her breath. I screeched with joy and sort of snapped her awake. She jumped up and looked in the potty and cheered!

 I was excited because this was the first time Chloe seemed aware of the action of peeing on the potty during the action!

The rest of the day was accident free except for one half-accident. She ran to the potty and actually finished in the potty! We even went for a 40 minute family walk accident free. Finally, her 30 minute sitting stretches decreased to a couple of minutes by her final visit to the bathroom before bed!

I'm very excited! I'm not sure where we'll go from here but major strides...major strides!!! We might even be able to spend more time in the carpeted areas of our house tomorrow.

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning is always so much fun! The girls loved all their gifts and we had a great time listening to music and feeling the lovely glow of the fire.

We can never ever accuse Solana of being an unenthusiastic gift receiver.

I finally got a sewing machine. It's only taken me two weeks to get it threaded and to sew the first stitches. Solana already put in a few orders for doll clothing and Dave has a couple of projects in the qeue.

Our darling girls.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Potty Training Day 2

Today wasn't a great potty training day. We spent the entire day in the kitchen/fireplace room again. It seems like Chloe spent a LOT of time just sitting on the potty and holding it. She had a couple of accidents (versus) 10 yesterday but I somehow didn't feel like she was really getting it. She didn't have many successes in the potty. She did, indeed, do poop in her pants and I'm glad I let that happen because we avoided trauma. The day ended with a one-hour potty sitting marathon. I know it was an hour because she watched two Dora's while on the potty. Then Dave suggested we give up and bring her to the living room for some family time. I called her over and she ran away from me long enough to let loose the pee she'd been holding through two Dora adventures. I was kind of ticked.

In retrospect, I think there actually was a tiny bit of progress today. It was this: she only peed a handfull of times all day. Instead of numerous tiny ones she only had a few big ones. I think this shows bladder control is a good thing. I think I've read that somewhere...right?

I love potty training!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Potty Training Day 1

I meant to start potty training yesterday but came up with all kinds of perfectly valid excuses to procrastinate.
  1. I worked on our menu for the next 10 days. This is a job that takes me forever. Our day seemed to start incredibly late so I didn't even finish the menu until noon. Don't even ask me what I did before noon. I think I got out of bed at about 9:30 because Dave was a hero and let me sleep in. 9:30 to noon can go by exceedingly quickly on a Saturday.
  2. I took Chloe grocery shopping while Dave and Solana ran errands. We stocked up on food essentials and peanut m&m's, which would act as potty treats over the next few days.
  3. Chloe and I stopped at the library for potty books and videos before coming home and this somehow turned into an hour long adventure.
  4. We squeezed in one final family outing/adventure before putting on the panties.
Today started out with panties right away. Chloe has been excited and ready for her panties since we bought them on Friday. We went to Target and she picked out Dora and My Little Pony panties. They're a big deal to her! Her first accidents happened pretty quickly. Dave woke up as I was reeling over her second accident. I set a timer for 30 minutes so I wouldn't wait too long between potty attempts. She peed when there were 45 seconds left on the timer. I was beside myself.

My biggest concern, though, with potty training was the fear that I'd get frustrated with Chloe and get after her for "not getting it." I'm proud to say, though, that after one day I held it together. We went through 10 pair of panties and I never once felt or acted frustrated at Chloe. Let's see how long I can maintain my saint mommy status.

Here's how the day progressed:
-We drank and sat on the potty often - about every 30 minutes or 15 minutes after drinking. She'd sit and sit and sit. Nothing would happen and then she'd pee within a couple minutes of getting off the potty.
-For the first few accidents she'd stand and pee and then tell me she had an accident. We'd say "uh oh. Oh no! That's not good. Peepee goes in the potty, etc." She'd help clean it up, take off her dirty clothes, and put them in the washing machine.
-By late morning she'd squeeze her legs together and say, "help" or "my peepee!" She'd still pee in her pants and nothing was coming out in the potty but that seemed to be some kind of progress.
-I noticed when she was about to poop and put her on the potty. She sat there for quite a while and pooped in the potty. There was blood and I'm kicking myself because I forgot to give her prunes to snack on today. I'm wondering what I should do about pooping tomorrow. I don't want to relive the horror of last year so I might just let her poop in her panties tomorrow so she has more control over the exiting of the poop. And that can be her poop accident experience.
-Chloe took a really late nap and woke up out of sorts. I let her sit on the little potty in front of the TV with a cup of chocolate milk after her nap. She sat there for a good 30 minutes and when I went to get her I could see that she had filled the potty! I was wondering if that even counted as a success since she was sort of zombied out and I don't even know if she realized what she'd done but I was excited nonetheless and wanted to celebrate. I grabbed under her arms to quickly stand her up as I began to exclaim her praises. In my excitement, though, I didn't realize that the little pot would be stuck to her butt. It came up out of the potty chair with her butt and the pee poured all over the floor! It must have been a good cup of fluid. All over her pants and panties, my socks, the potty chair, and the floor. Lovely. I'm such a dork.

That pretty much ended potty training day 1. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to document it so thoroughly. I'm sure nobody cares but me. Chloe probably won't even care when she's older. Or maybe she will and can use this to help her train her kids one day. I don't know. What I do know is that it's a big deal over here and I've been stressed about it for weeks. I'm documenting it dangit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Lights

We love Christmas lights and try to see as many as possible each year. This year we only made it to one outdoor lights display - the ones at the Centerville Rec Center - but we had a really nice time. The lights are kind of cheesy but they're definitely designed to entertain kids. We had great fun walking around and pointing them out to each other. Plus, there were lots of fun photo ops!

There was a little house in the middle of the trail where we found Santa. Dave is now prepping Chloe for her first visit with Santa.

Chloe's first photo with Santa and Solana's third. I feel very strongly against forcing crying kids into Santa's lap and was ready to scoop Chloe up in an instant. Solana was a great big sister and encouraged Chloe to visit with the big jolly old elf. Chloe wouldn't speak to him but talked about the experience a lot that night.

A real horse!

"That's one BIG candy cane!" "I want to eat it!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Runaway

Solana Ran Away From Home Last Week
Solana's been having a little bit of trouble following instructions at school. While we hate to see Solana singled out as having difficulties we have to admit that her struggles are consistent with those we have at home. Solana is definitely a daydreamer, she takes her time in everything she does, and she often needs to be told many times to do something. While it's not usually a major issue to repeat instructions at home it is annoying and has become problematic to her teacher. Solana wants to follow instructions on her time and when she's ready. That doesn't fly at school. Don't get me wrong. She's a great kid and well liked. Her teacher is very complimentary of Solana and stresses how much she adores her as a student and as a personality. She's very social, loves chatting it up with any and all adults, she's bright, and excels in all subjects.  But we needed to get her on track with following instructions promptly and without repetition necessary so we got her onto a special behavior chart.

After a few weeks on her new chart I was noticing how well Solana had been doing at school. But just moments after praising her in my mind I got an email from her teacher. In summary:
Solana spent 15 minutes in the bathroom after lunch today. This has happened a few times and I had to interrupt my teaching to go get her. I'd like her use the restroom in the nurse's office after lunch so that she can be monitored from now on. Are you ok with that?

When Solana got home we talked about it and she didn't see anything wrong with this new arrangement so I explained to her that it's not okay. That she's basically in trouble for taking too long in the restroom and that she's pretty much being babysat because she hasn't shown herself responsible enough to use the restroom alone. She didn't have much of a reaction until I told her that I would have to talk to her Daddy to determine a consequence. At that she burst into tears because she just new that he'd take away her chances of working on a horse ranch this summer (her current #1 desire in life).

At that she declared, "I'm leaving! And I'm never coming back" and ran out of the room. I spent the next 40 minutes or so wondering what the right thing to say/do would be. This is a moment she'll probably remember. My reaction is important. What to do...what to do... She began packing her things. I didn't know what to do so I played along.

Where will you go? What will you do? What will you eat? You know it's raining out, right? You'll probably want an umbrella.  I'll be pretty sad if I never see you again. Are you going to wait to at least say "goodbye" to Daddy?

To her credit she had a plan. She emptied her piggy bank and packed lots of toys to sell. She'd first find a horse stable to sleep and then go to Kroger to buy some food. Then in the morning she'd ask the owners to let her work and sleep there. Unfortunately, she couldn't wait around to see Daddy one last time because dusk was coming and soon it would be too dark to find a place to sleep. I watched her leave the house and then ran to get Chloe in the van when she was out of sight and I realized she wasn't coming back. Chloe and I followed her from a distance in the van until she got to a busy intersection. I pulled up to the stop sign and rolled down the window, "Would you like to come home?"  Brightly, as if I popped my head into her room and asked if she'd like some ice cream, "Okay." She hopped into the van and we went home.
"Mommy, do you know where I was going?"
"No. Where?"
"I was going to to that horse ranch in Centerville and then I was going to go to Kroger." She didn't realize she was actually headed the exact opposite direction.

When we got home I explained to her that little kids can't live alone. That they need Mommies and Daddies to take care of them and protect them. There are mean people out in the world who hurt and kill small children and we never ever want that to happen to her because that would be the saddest thing that could ever happen in the whole wide world. So please always stay close to us and never run away again. She agreed. "No go unpack your giant suitcase and put your things where they belong." "Okay" she giggled as she skipped down the hallway.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Potty Training Meeting

Chloe's OT invited me to a meeting last night. The meeting is a regular meeting between the special needs parents, teacher, and various therapists. They cover different topics at each meeting and invite special guest experts. Chloe isn't in the special needs class so we don't normally attend but this week they covered potty training. Knowing my interest in this topic Chloe's OT invited me to join them.

The special guests were the special needs kindergarden teachers who often get kids in diapers and magically potty train them in Kindergarden. I was a little skeptical that they could help and prepared myself against disappointment but was also open-minded.

They gave some great tips:
- Once your child is big enough, change them in the standing up position and at the potty. This will reinforce the idea that elimination and the potty go together and that they're not a baby. My jaw dropped. I always change Chloe laying down.
-The teachers said it was easier for them to change diapers with tabs but I thought pull ups might be easier for me so I made a note to start pull-ups.
-Encourage your child to use their thumbs and pull their pants down themselves. Chloe has weak hands and thumbs and usually opposes using them to remove clothing. I almost always dress/undress her so this is definitely something we can work on.

They also made some comments that I thought would be helpful for the future.
-Once your child is ready to potty train switch them to panties and use pull-ups only at night. Commit and don't ever go back. Avoid the store for a couple of weeks if needed but do NOT put a pull-up on for the store because that creates confusion and will lengthen the process.
-Use a motivator with an if/then statement. "If you peepee in the potty Then you get ___" And make sure it's something they ONLY get when the peepee or poopoo in the potty. If it's a toy make sure it's a very appealing toy and place it near the potty so they can see it. If it's a snack make sure you never give them that snack unless they go on the potty.
-Don't use the thick training panties. Get the thin ones because we want the pee to run down their legs and get into their socks and be incredibly uncomfortable.
-Have the child help with cleanup when they have an accident. It's a natural cause and effect and it's not fun. If the mess magically disappears then it's too easy to just pee in their pants and be done with it.

I happily wrote down these notes and thought they could be helpful but still had a question so I jumped in as soon as the question/answer part seemed to start.
me: Can you give me some advise to help us get past our current stage? We've been stuck for about a year.
teacher: Sure. What's been going on for the past year?
me: Not much. She happily sits on the potty once or twice a day but nothing ever comes out. Chloe is aware of when she pees and poops. I know this because she stops and separates her legs to stand in her "peeing position." Then she asks me to change her diaper.
teacher: [with exaggerated drama] Oooh! She's sooo ready for panties. Put her in panties.
me: [dumbfounded] Umm. But she never ever pees in the potty. Never. Ever. Never.
teacher: But if she is that aware of her pee. She's ready. You just need to do it.
me: [still staring at the teacher with my mouth hanging open and not saying anything]
teacher: Do it.

Just kidding. She didn't say the last line. But they were totally serious about Chloe being ready. They suggested we buy her some fancy princess panties and do it over the holiday break. I want to believe them but I'm terrified. I think I still have PTS from our last potty training attempt. But Chloe's going on 3 1/2 years old and there's no medical reason why she shouldn't be using the potty. She's a smart kid and can totally do this. I can do this. We can do this. Oh my gosh I'm so scared!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nutcracker Weekend with Grammy & Grampy

As I've mentioned before, the whole purpose of this blog is to share fun pictures and stories with family and friends but also to keep a sort of family record for Solana and Chloe to keep and enjoy when they're older. Unfortunately, the more fun things we do the less time I have to blog about it defeating the purpose of the blog. November/December seem to be my most difficult blog months. I guess it's more important to make the memories than to document them so I'll be satisfied with that.

Ignoring my previous sentiment I'll now try to "catch up on December." LOL!

We started the month with some of our favorite visitors in the whole wide world! My parents! They arrived Friday afternoon right as Solana got home and surprised her as she got off the bus. The weekend was a whirlwind of activity but we managed to get lots of fun and quality time in.

They came for Solana's Nutcracker weekend. She would be playing the part of Flag Soldier for the Miami Valley Dance Company's annual Nutcracker. The week preceeding the performances was all about rehearsal. My mom and I spent 5 hours at the full dress rehearsal Friday night, then my parents took her to the next full dress from 9-12 on Saturday morning. She had a two hour break before the first performance for which I played the role of backstage mom. After a one hour dinner break Dave and I attended the second Saturday performance. Solana was basically at the Nutcracker from 9am to 10pm with two short breaks. Most of that time was spent hanging out and waiting and, as it turns out, hanging out and waiting is an exhausting endeavor. It was for me, anyway. Solana and the other girls were full of fun and energy. Sunday was easy. One performance attended by my parents. Dave and I didn't even go to that one. I felt a little guilty but not enough to spend another moment there. Solana was sad when it was all over.

This was our first Nutcracker. Some kids do it every year as they graduate from Mouse to Soldier to Clown, to Angel and then join the Company to get bigger and better roles like Party Guest, Snow Flake, Candy Cane, Flower. I can't imagine doing this every year through HS. I think I'd lose my mind! Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent.
Here we are at Friday night's rehearsal. We waited in the Bellbrook HS cafeteria most of the time. Out of the five hours there Solana probably spent about 30 minutes rehearsing her 5 minute part. The hardest part about being the parent of a flag soldier is understanding how much time and effort the girls (and we) put in for such a miniscule role. It's perect for the new students to the school, though, since they don't really know much, yet. Solana didn't care about the amount of time she spent on stage, either, and she loved her costume. She WAS really cute.

The soldiers appear as the Nutcracker battles the Mouse Queen.They ran around in a circle a couple of times and waved their flags here and there. Solana waved her flag perfectly and projected the perfect soldier energy.

She's the second from the right.
On their way to rehearsal on Saturday morning. Solana has no idea how long her day will be. I had no idea how energetic she would be after such a ridiculously long day.

After Saturday morning rehearsal and before the first performance the girls had a dance party with my parents. Here they are dancing to salsa music.
Dancing on my dad's feet - just like the way I did when I was little.
While Solana and I attended her first performance my parents got to spend some quality time with Chloe. First the walked to the park.
Then they got some Chloe snuggles. Dave told me that she woke up grumpy and just wanted to be held for a really long time so he and my dad took turns sittng with her for a long time as the watched tv.

Meanwhile, the mice and the Soldiers "posing" for the moms before the Saturday afternoon performance.

Saturday evening Dave and I needed a picture with our little star.
Solana wanted a picture with one of the big girls and asked this random girl to take a picture with her. She's so funny.

We went out for breakfast Sunday morning. Breakfast was yummy.

My mom helped Solana get ready for her final performance.
This picture cracks me up because my mom's pooching out her lips as she applies Solana's lipstick. By the way, hairspray does wonders to remove lipstick from polyester. As we arrived for the first dress rehearsal on Friday I put Solana's lipstick on. As it turns out, putting bright red lipstick on a 7 year-old before shoes is a really bad idea. She put her foot up on the chair and immediately rested her lips on her white pants. All the mothers around gasped in horror for fear of the dance director's reaction. She's pretty scary so I have to admit I was a little scared myself. I sprayed some hairspray and rubbed with a wet wipe and "Poof!" it was gone! I coudn't believe it!
Grammy with her Flag Soldier star.
Grampy with his Flag Soldier star.
Monday and Tuesday are kind of a blur and it appears I didn't take any pictures. Solana stayed home from school on Monday to spend time with my parents. Chloe was home by 11 on both days so she didn't miss much.

Highlights I remember:
-Marathon walk. I think we walked for about an hour to the dentist where Dave picked up some medicine. The walk was my idea. I think we were all pooped by the time we got home but felt glad to have done it.
-The fact that my dad actually enjoyed and was satisfied by two meatless meals. The concept of filling vegetarian meals is foreign to my dad and he was skeptical to say the least. He has endured his fair share of heart surgeries to include a quadruple bypass a few years ago and I feel like it's my duty to feed him some healthy meals when we're together. The first was my favorite soup: Tomato, Kale, and Barley, served with fresh whole wheat free form bread. He kept asking Dave (on the sly) if he should go pick up some fried chicken or something to go with the soup.  I've forgotten the second but after both meals I puffed with pride at how impressed he was with having reached satiation from my vegetarian meal.  But the other thing that stands out to me is that my dad was noticing that he slept better at night and felt fewer aches and pains while he was here and wondered if it could be the food. I truly believe in the power of healthy food and wouldn't doubt it.
-Shopping with my mom for Solana's earrings and learning that you don't enter a jewelery store with the word "diamond" in the name if you're looking for a $40 pair of earrings for a 7 year-old.
-My mom getting after the dogs because they're pathetic attention hogs, "Bluebell and Monty! I didn't come here to see YOU!"
-Feeling so happy that Solana and Chloe adore my parents as much as I do.