Monday, January 30, 2012


Fair warning: if you can't tell from the photo above and the title, this post is going to be about diapers, the potty and bodily functions. If you are squeamish, easily offended or disgusted...sit this one out. 

If you've been following along, you know at this point we are well in to Ruby's potty training. Before I had children, I thought I led a pretty exciting life: riding motorcycles, crossing state lines, often going bar to bar until the sun came up and waking up not knowing where the stains and funny smells came from.  This was nothing in comparison to my life post children: constant baby and toddler screaming, children playing and running around generally getting into everything, trying to calm a sick child until the sun comes up and now I wake up and know EXACTLY where the stains and funny smells came from. 

Ruby's plastic Ikea potty is small and simple, two things we loved about it that influenced us in the selection process. The other feature we never thought about was it's portability. This is both a blessing and a curse. She gets very excited upon a successful pee and has on more than one occasion been running into the room carrying the potty, tripped and fell spilling fresh urine all over the carpet. Last week she bounced into the kitchen and sloshed it all over herself and the floor. 

Sailor has had some trouble adjusting to solid foods. By trouble I mean the food isn't the only thing that is solid and in some needs a little coercion to come out. The other morning she was crying and picking her up I felt the offending lump in her diaper. When I went to change her it was...what's the best way to say this...still attached? Thank God olivia hadn't left for work yet. Although I usually feel that I do pretty good, on this occasion I failed  in every way possible. I was not ready for this and all but ran away screaming like a school girl. Apparently the method is to spread their cheeks and push their legs back until they exert a little force and the movement is complete. I was out on this one at "spread their cheeks."

Looking on the bright side, I am changing roughly half the poopy diapers as Ruby gets better and more consistent with going. In addition to using when asked, if she needs to go she just finds the roaming potty and goes. Solid foods for Sailor is not all bad either. The other day I fed her some mashed sweet potatoes. I opened a diaper later and it smelled like Yankee Candle Company... 

Friday, January 27, 2012


There have been some inquiries for updates on the potty training and paci situations. I aim to please and am happy to oblige.

The first two weeks without the paci were very, very rough. Lots of breakdowns when we refused to give in and night after night of constantly being called in to her bedroom and constant crying. There were days when she would cry through nap time and would lay in bed at night unable to sleep. This could last anywhere from half an hour to two full hours.

Now she is much better. We've had to adapt her routine a bit and we are more indulgent of her bedtime needs. She likes sleeping with olivia's owl figurines and we always let her pick one when putting her down for the night. She is also insistent on having water by the bed and a favorite electronic light-up toy with her. We relented with Sailor, we keep a couple paci's hidden for bedtime and naps. We are pushing back until she is one...or at least that is the plan for now.

Potty training is also improving rapidly. We've gone from having to make her try and go every twenty minutes or so to her coming in and telling us when she has gone. We are not without incident, things happen from time to time but on the whole I think we are on the right track. The big potty is the greatest hurdle, occasionally she will use it at home but never in public. When she does use it at home she insists on getting on herself which consists of her pulling herself up to the point that she is on top of the seat on all fours. She then puts her left leg through her arms and rotates herself around to a sitting position. Needless to say, we don't want her crawling all over a public toilet. Patience and time...thankfully we have ab abundance of the latter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Crane machine pays off on the first try, 50 cents well spent.
Channeling 70's Elton John.
Watching big sister on the playground.
Spent all day trying to climb up and sliding down.
Learning to pose, just like Ru...
Ballet ponytail.
Kicking it with daddy's beanie.
Piano lessons.
Good fortune.
Ruby tries her hand at adding features to a face.
Ruby gently bumped her head and wanted a band-aid. It did not leave her head for two straight days.
She was so stoked she got up...but could not get down.
Looking forward to more of this as Sailor gets older.

Monday, January 23, 2012


We've always tried to foster an independent nature for the kids. We are not afraid to let them try doing things themselves even if we feel like they will fail. Ruby has taken this and ran with it and now so much so that if you won't let her do it, she gets very upset and unhappy until you let her. She is quick to ask for help when she needs it so we feel like this is a win.

Getting dressed has become a big part of her day. It is always fun for us to see the outfits she comes up with. Here are a few shots from the past couple weeks.

On a related note, Sailor is in full-on hold the bottle herself mode. Sometimes she kicks it one handed with the other arm hanging out the side of the swing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hand Me Downs

There are many memories I have held onto from childhood. Several years back I took my parent's collection of family photos and scanned a lot of them. I was glad to have access not only for the funny hairstyles, clothing and interior design choices but also to preserve my family's history and my childhood for our kids. The days of shooting a roll of film, getting it developed and holding them in your hand are all but gone. When we sit down to look at these photos with the girls it will be on a computer screen or more likely on whatever technology with be the big thing in their lifetime. Most likely olivia and I will drive them crazy having to teach us how to use it but I digress. Thankfully there are still some things I can literally hold onto from the past, namely my blanket and my favorite teddy bear.

The two bears I grew up with were Bear and Footbear. My mother, in all her infinite wisdom, held onto these stuffed animals knowing one day I would want them for my kids. Bear was a little worse for the wear and I didn't think he would be fit to serve. He took his place in teddy heaven. Footbear, whose name is very fitting as he is ALL feet, was passed on to Ruby. She can be rough on her stuffed playmates and I am perhaps overly protective of him but I trust as she ages she will learn to take better and better care of him. If not, we will have a problem...
and now.
The blanket was knitted for me by my Grammy. I remember taking it everywhere and being seriously attached to it. It stayed with me and as I got older and the running joke was that I would take it with me to college. The joke turned to reality, it stayed on my bed in my first apartment as well as the houses I rented in Tuscaloosa. Eventually it was retired and just stayed packed in a box and was moved from living space to living space.

Flash forward to Sailor's birth. We recently decided she was ready and gave it to her. This was, of course, after a serious cleaning by my Mom. It had been quite some time since it was properly washed and her years of experience as a mother laundering articles that are so loved and important...we thought she was the perfect choice to handle the task.
and now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dark Black Gold

Coffee: I'm an addict and I am not ashamed.
Black, loaded, decaf, flavored, strong, weak...I dig it. Some days I drink a whole pot of the caffeinated goodness before I make myself switch to unleaded for the second pot. My default cheap coffee go-to was Maxwell House Master Blend but the marketing genius of Black Silk intrigued me and did not fail to deliver. I'd walk around with an iv drip of the stuff if I could. I used to take it with cream and sweetener. Since switching to black I seem to be drinking a lot more.

The coffee maker in the picture is the bane of my existence. I HATE it. It brews ok but can't pour to save it's pathetic plastic life. For every mug I pour, another half mug ends up on the counter. Serves me right for buying a coffee maker made by the same company that makes power tools. We used to have an awesome Mr. Coffee maker that we loved but it bit the dust a couple Christmases ago (the one when it snowed). We buried him in the back yard. I broke the cold ground with a shovel as an icy tear ran down my cheek. Sometimes I take a mug out in the back yard and stare at his final resting place. I always pour a little out and remember the good times.

I've had two Bodum glass French presses. I love them but I am not easy on them. The carafes are prone to breaking, hence they sell replacement glass. Wish I had known this before I threw out two perfectly good presses that just needed new glass. We've toyed with the idea of getting a maker with an espresso machine. I know, I know. I am not so blind that I cannot see that this would be like introducing a pot smoker to mainlining heroin...but I want it. When this coffee maker bites it, I might just invite a Starbucks franchise to set up next to our refrigerator.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Letting it go...

This post was inspired by this article, which I saw earlier in the week.

olivia and I have talked often about what we would do if the girls, despite our best efforts as parents, ended up engaged in activities or a lifestyle we were uncomfortable with. This includes, but is not limited to, choices that might not be so bad per se but maybe just not what we would hope for or prefer for them. The resolution we always seem to come back to is that as long as they are happy and not breaking the law or harming others (ie drugs, crime, violence) we will have to accept their choices despite our own feelings about them. In my house growing up, there was a wall hanging that said "There are two things we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings." Acceptance is a large part of a loving relationship. I know one day we will have to let go of the expectations and dreams we have for our children's lives and let them chase their own.

I am glad we have time to work up to this, the thought right now is just too much.
What is your worst fear for your children and how would you handle it?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Home War I

These are the times that try parent's souls.

It is 12:15 in the afternoon and I am drinking black coffee to keep my eyes open. Operation paci-fairy was an utter failure and the kids have turned against us. Nap-time has become lay down in the crib or bed and scream your head off time. Yesterday our house sounded like a scene from "Hostel." Between this and the advent of potty training, the mixture has made for an unstable cocktail that will certainly be lethal to at least one of the opposing sides.

Sailor is young and looks up to her sister. This is to be expected. She is quiet but I know where her allegiance lies. Ruby is really the clever one. I can tell she is playing friendly while plotting the endgame. Her sideways glances as I walk by are telling, looking me up and down scanning for a weakness. I know the end is near, soon she'll come at me in the bonus room with a shank improvised from a puzzle piece. I'll bleed out and her and Sailor will high five and raid the house for all the pacifiers so they can lay them in the center of the room next to my body and roll around in them.

I have nightmares about it. Sometimes she is in a hockey mask holding Sailor's bead roller-coaster menacingly. Other times she rises out of the bathwater like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. I want it over. I want to give in, recant my opinions on this change and bow to my children and their addiction to silicone and hard plastic. Then I remember that together, they are barely one sixth my weight and are small. Small but fast. I may have a chance after all.

If nothing is posted by the end of the week, you'll know they have won and I've moved on to the great garage in the sky. Always remember, my intentions were pure.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Potty Training

Potty training Ruby made for an interesting day Tuesday. Over the holidays she became accustomed to olivia being home all the time. My wife did all the heavy lifting in the potty-prep department. Honestly, she did all of the lifting. Flash forward to this week, olivia is back at work and I am at home and attempting to follow through with the potty routine my wife set in place. I will soon find out that things will not be going according to plan.

In the morning, we transition from a pull-up into real underwear, which Ruby loves. I ask her every twenty minutes or more if she has to go, to which she always says no. She gets up from her toy piano and I can see the stool is wet. This is accident number one. We have a little talk about the potty and make sure it is always in the same room with us.

Later Ruby comes in and I can see poop running down her leg. In case I didn't notice, she looks at me and says "daddy, its on my leg." I carry her into the restroom but not before leaving a trail on the carpet, the toilet, the toilet seat, etc. I start the bath water and pull off her this point poop is everywhere. Ru is crying and its breaking my heart. I know she can't understand what is happening and I know she feels bad about the situation though it is in no way her fault. It is ours. 

I get her cleaned up and I continue asking and she always says she does not need to go. Five minutes later she runs and jumps into my lap and I can feel the third accident through my pants. I make her try on the potty which yields no results and we are on to the fourth pair of panties of the day.

At this point I fully expect another accident and it comes later in the afternoon. I am numb. Nothing I get on my hands from this point on will ever make me cringe or dry-heave ever again. Adding insult to injury, as soon as olivia gets home Ruby uses the potty like a champ.

The lesson for me in all of this is just because one of us has a routine or system in place with the girls, this does not necessarily mean it will carry over when the other parent is alone with them. Looking back, I know this works the other way around as in the past I have had less discipline issues with Ruby than olivia has had to face. At times, she seems to think she can walk all over olivia (which is true sometimes) but as the bad cop, she knows her limits with me. Unfortunately these limits do not include total control of bodily functions.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My hardest day yet as a parent

Wednesday is always a trying day. Our normal routine is thrown off a bit for Ruby's dance class. This means naps, meals, cleaning up, etc is all put on hold to get into dance attire and to class on time. I am glad she is in this class. It is great for her socialization and she gets to see old friends from school...normally this is a minor interruption.

The Wednesday in question had been a great day, 70 degrees and dry in December. We were taking full advantage: me, the girls and the dog in the front yard playing. Ruby rode her tricycle, Sailor got some sun in her exersaucer, Chopper chased squirrels, I did a little reading. It was nothing short of a perfect early afternoon. We came inside for lunch. We all ate in the den, quality time was abundant and I cleared the table and did the dishes. The ride to dance was fine and Sailor and I came home and tried to get a few things done at the house.

In fact, everything was rosy until class was over. It started with not wanting to leave dance. Ruby was sitting, shoes off, in the classroom. Her flip flops and ballet shoes were in a bag and she was holding her tap shoes. I asked her to put her flip flops on, put her tap shoes in the bag and get ready to go. She said no and threw her tap shoes at me. I told her we don't throw things at people at people and did she want to go to time out. Usually the threat of time out is enough to get her back on track but today she was fearless.

Things escalated, I asked her again and told her not to say no to daddy and asked her again. She threw her bag at me. I told her I was going to count to three and if she didn't do what I asked, she was going to be in deep trouble. The three count came and went. At this point, I was wearing Sailor face forward in front of me in the Baby Bjorn. I scooped Ruby up on my left shoulder and grabbed her gear in my right hand. I walked firmly out of the room and back to the car telling her what trouble she was in. My mood was sour and Ruby started saying she wanted to put her shoes on and walk. I am quite certain she could tell that this was not going to be pretty for her.

On the way home we had a good talk about why she needed to listen to mommy and daddy, that we asked her to do what we did to make things run smoothly and easily and often to ensure her or her sister's safety. I told her we had her best interests at heart and would always look out for her. I also told her she was going to time out when we got home, as promised, and that she was going to have to nap with no paci and no blanket. This is when she really started to come unglued.

Hysterical, I had to carry her inside. She cried even harder in time out. When it came time to lay down for her nap she was exhausted from an active day and from sobbing. I laid her in bed and she begged and begged for her paci and blanket. I did not relent. Ruby laid in bed, inconsolable and unable to sleep for more than half an hour. She came out of her room, crying and reaching up for me. I held her, head on my shoulder, and rocked her in an attempt to calm her. I made sure she understood why she was being punished.

She did not get a paci or her blanket for the duration of nap time. She also did not nap and eventually found comfort in the arms of her mother, certainly the good cop of the day who was able to give the paci and blanket back once nap time was through.

I'll never forget how brokenhearted and empty I felt listening to my child's sadness and desperation. That said. I also think that my inability to yield makes me a better parent. We have not had an incident like that since that day and oddly I feel closer to my daughter now than before. I never want to go through that again but as a realist, I know that in the coming years there will be days just that hard...and harder.