Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unwelcome House Guests

It's that time of year when the local rodents start looking for someplace warmer to live. A few of them decided that place should be our attic - particularly the part of the attic right above our bedroom.

After a decade of chronic sleep deprivation, I get pretty testy about having my sleep interrupted unnecessarily. Between my children and my pager, I have pretty regular sleep disturbances. Those are at least for a good reason. Being kept up at night by the pitter patter of mouse feet above my head, on the other hand, is not something I am about to tolerate. So B graciously went out to secure some D-con. He's a good man.

The experience reminded me of a time when I was around junior high age. We had some mice in our house, and Dad was putting out some D-con for them. Since those mice weren't keeping me up at night, I was more compassionately inclined toward them. I was pretty upset that Dad was going to poison the poor little mice. He explained to me that D-con does not in fact kill the mice; it just makes them really thirsty so they leave the house and go look for water.

I actually believed that for years. In fact, it wasn't until I was in med school in a pharmacology lecture that I was shocked to hear the professor say that D-con was warfarin. I realized then for the first - and only - time in my life that my father had lied to me! (Although one of the very early signs of hemorrhagic shock is thirst. Yeah, I'm sure that's what Dad meant.)

B chose to take a more forthright approach with our son on the issue. (Or perhaps it was the picture on the box that gave it away.) J watched Daddy placing the D-con in the attic last night. This morning, he asked if we had heard any mice during the night. I told him no, that I thought they'd probably eaten the snacks Daddy left and then taken a nap. To which he replied, "And maybe while they were taking a nap they got Killed!"

Apparently he's a little better prepared for the harsh realities of life than I was.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Potty Week Part 3: Let's Party!

Ok, so potty week is technically over, but I have to finish the story. It definitely had it's ups and downs, but was, in the end, a huge success! J is officially "diaper-free." There have been no accidents of any kind since last Thursday. Number one and number two are both flowing freely and with little or no prompting from parents.

I found a great deal on multi packs of Tonka matchbox cars. We used those as a reward for staying dry through sleep times and for poops in the potty. That turned out to be a great motivator. We went from no poops for 2 and a half days to the opposite extreme. Now he likes to run to the potty many times a day, squeeze out whatever little turd he can, look at it and declare, "Now, that deserves a truck!"

We celebrated with a big Potty Party Saturday afternoon. They say you can't force a child to potty train. You have to wait until he wants to do it. My goal, then, was to make him want to do it. So for the past several months, we've been planning the Big Party. Basically anytime he said, "Mommy, wouldn't it be nice if I had X," I'd say, "I bet we could have X at the potty party!" I was willing to promise most anything to get this done. We had his good buddy from church there, Cuddles the Clown, m&m's, chocolate covered strawberries, apple pie, Scrambler, his very own trumpet (Grandma's garage sale find), a pinata, and much more. We even bussed up his cousins from North Carolina to help us celebrate.

Cuddles put on a great show complete with magic, live animals, and balloon animals. The highlight was when the mouse she was about to turn into tootsie rolls made an escape. He hid behind the piano for a bit, then made a dash across the dining room. I made an impressive dive in an attempt to catch him, but missed. I finally shooed him toward Grandma who saved the day and caught the little rascal. Much cheering and clapping from delighted little children was heard throughout the spectacle.

The kids really loved the pinata. And fortunately, none of them got their teeth knocked out with the bat. I must say, it was one of the sturdiest pinatas I've ever seen. I didn't think it was ever going to break open. They did eventually manage to extract all of the goodies, including the toilet candies. Yes, indeed, toilet candies for the potty party! Lovely little plastic toilet containers with plunger-shaped suckers that you dip in the powder filling the bowl. The kids loved them. Fortunately, I think all the guest children ate theirs here without taking them home to show their parents.

We're very proud of J's accomplishment. Although, I must confess, it makes me just the slightest bit sad to see him running around in his undies. He's not such a little boy anymore.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Irony 101

I passed a bus from Covert Public Schools this weekend. Made me chuckle. I think their mascot should be the Oxymorons.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our Little Girl

H is 17 months old now, and we're finding it to be a very enjoyable age. More and more of her personality keeps showing through. Here are some of her favorite things:

She loves music. Anytime she hears some, she starts smiling and swaying from side to side. She's started singing some recognizable songs now. Her repertoire includes "A-B-C," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "The B-I-B-L-E," and "Jesus loves me." She has the sweetest, highest little voice I've ever heard. Her rendition of "The B-I-B-L-E" goes something like this: "B-I-B-I-B, Book me, B-I-B-I-B, BIBLE!" I wish I had it on video.

She loves shoes. Really loves shoes. I'm not sure where she gets that from. Certainly not her mother. The other morning after I got her dressed, she started to walk out of her room. As she got to the door that she realized she was missing something. She headed back over to the closet and said, "Shoes!" as she picked out a pair to wear. She often gets quite upset when it's time to take them off at the end of the day.

She loves food. She's quite a good little eater, and likes almost everything she's tried. There's no sneaking anything past her either. If there's food around, she spots it and wants some. "Bite! A Bite! A Bite! A Bite!" is her way of asking for it. Today I was folding laundry with her while watching the Food Network. She was quite put out with Rachel Ray for not sharing with her. She kept putting her hand out toward the screen and saying "Bite?"

I think she's got a little crush on Bob the Builder. We've had quite a bit of construction going on in our neighborhood lately, much of which was visible from her bedroom window. She likes to stand on the stepstool and look out so she can watch them work out. When she got up from her nap yesterday, she pointed at the window and said eagerly, "Bob!" I opened the blinds and got her stepstool arranged for her. When she saw that no one was working out there, she said very sadly, "bob."

Today J was wearing his Bob the builder undies. When H noticed, she pointed excitedly and said, "Bob!" again. As J pulled up his pants over them, she waved and said, "Bye-bye, Bob!" Ok, I'm sure none of that reads nearly as cute as it all sounds when she says it. She puts a whole lot of emotion into it.

She loves animals. Pretty much all animals, but especially dogs. We doggy sat for my partner's cocker spaniel back in June, and H still talks about him all the time. His name is Churchill, a name that's never sounded cuter than when she says it. Lots of emphasis on the "Ch".

Her other favorites include books, baths, ice, and her pacifier. She's a bundle of energy, but knows when it's time to go to bed. In case we miss it, she'll tell us: "Ni-night!" She's smart and observant and sweet. I enjoy getting to know her a little more each day.

Potty Week Part 2: Accidents Happen

Day 1: Things went exceptionally well. Diaper off, brand new undies on. Going to the potty regularly. Stayed dry through nap. Even went out on the town. No accidents.

Went to bed in a pullup. Got up by himself to go potty in the night. Oops, went in the pull-up when he woke up in the morning. Oh, well.

I'm wondering why we didn't try this sooner. Clearly, this is very easy.

It occurs to me that it's strange that he never had a poopoo. Usually he has 3-5 of those a day. He's done it on the potty in the past. Oh, well, didn't give it much thought.

Day 2: Off to another strong start. Back in the undies. Did well all morning. Oops, a little accident at nap time.

Had a little quiet time with some books on the potty hoping to encourage some bowel action. No action occurs. I make it a point to serve a very high fiber dinner. Starting to be a little more concerned about the #2 issue.

Night time was a little rough. Went through 3 pullups and 2 sets of sheets.

Day 3: Back in the undies. Puddle on the floor by 10am. At least it was on the bathroom floor.

Note to self: skinny jeans are not the appropriate attire for a potty training boy. After bath, he's in sweats. Much easier to manage.

He's starting to feel the pains of a half dozen or so missed bowel movements now. We have a little more quality time with stories on the potty. World's tiniest poopoo appears in potty chair. No relief.

By this time I'm feeling like a labor coach. "Relax your bottom, Squeeze your tummy! You can do it! I know it hurts, but it's got to come out. I'm so sorry!"

I have an internal struggle about whether to put him back in a diaper. Perhaps it would be more comfortable for him to do it there. I don't want to set back the potty training by returning to diapers, but also don't want to cause permanent psychological problems from the ongoing trauma of constipation. Finally, the diaper argument wins out in my mind. I put him back in the diaper along with a little "bottom medicine" (aka glycerine suppository). 25 minutes later, OH! MY! WORD! Those of you ladies out there who don't believe anyone of the male persuasion can truly understand what childbirth is like didn't see what my son managed to pass today!

"Mommy! My bottom stopped hurting!" Thank you, Jesus!

We have a little chat about how important it is to let that out before it gets owey next time. He goes #2 on the potty before bed! Much celebrating ensues.

So, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride so far, but generally seems to be heading the right direction. Any words of wisdom from those of who who've gone before in this endeavor would be welcome!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Perfect Day

The day's activities started with a stroll and playing in the leaves.
After naps, we went to the park where you can rent boats. Apparently my physique does not inspire thoughts of upper body strength and athleticism in the casual observer, because the folks who rent the boats were pretty concerned about me going out alone with the kids in a rowboat. They were really pushing for the paddle boat instead. "It's really windy," and "It's hard work rowing that by yourself," the lady said. She consulted with the young man at the other end of the counter. He glanced at me and simply said, "Paddle boat."

Now, it has been a few years since I've been in a rowboat, but I was pretty sure I could handle it. I was a camp counsellor one summer, after all. Besides, J made it clear that he wanted the rowboat, not some silly paddle boat. While I certainly didn't set any speed records, we did just fine, we didn't get stuck anywhere, and we never had any doubts that we were going to make it back.
The nice lady seemed pleasantly surprised when we returned in one piece and told me how brave I was to take the kids out by myself. I probably won't be able to lift my arms tomorrow, but it was well worth it.

The boat park also has a great play area that the kiddos enjoyed immensely.

And how could any day be perfect without ice cream? I got a small cup of vanilla for H, an ice cream cone for J, and a capuccino blast for myself. Guess who ended up with the small cup of vanilla. And yes, that's actually a picture of my potty training son drinking a caffeinated beverage at the end of the day - a diuretic and a stimulant. Another fine parenting moment brought to you by the Joneses.

Potty Week

Well, it's here: the week we're officially tackling potty training for our firstborn. I'll keep you informed of how things are going.

We started ramping up to it slowly over the weekend. J was the ring bearer in his uncle's wedding Saturday. I assured him that a pull up would look much better than a diaper under his suit, but that it doesn't really hold much peepee, so he shouldn't actually go in it. He managed to keep that pull up dry for over 5 hours! I'm sure he could have gone longer, but the pull up got shredded by the velcro I put in his pants to keep his shirt tucked in and we had to discard it. Hmm, things they don't tell you in the parenting books.

We went to the home of one of the bridesmaids for pictures before the ceremony. When it was time to leave, I couldn't find the boy. "He's in the bathroom," someone informed me. I had a moment of panic as I prepared to open the door. I had visions of the pumpkin soap being all over the counter, or the fancy little personal hand towels all being wadded up in the trash. But when I opened the door, there was my little guy with his pants and pull up down, peeing a stream into the potty. Never has a mother's heart been so proud!

"This is going to be easy!", I thought.


Sunday we went back to diapers in the morning because Sunday mornings are hectic, and we just didn't have time to take potty breaks. I figured we'd start full steam when we got home. Before his nap, J went to the potty and then I told him I was putting him in a pull up for his nap. Major battle ensued. J won. Back to diapers.

We're part way through day 1 and so far things are going well. He's wearing his brand new firedog undies and has made it through the morning and a nap without an accident. (No doubt, the bed is being wet as I type this.) Many m&m's have been doled out, and all of us are happy.

5 more days till the potty party!


Psalm 49:16-17
Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,
when the splendor of his house increases;
for he will take nothing with him when he dies,
his splendor will not descend with him.

We had the privilege of being guests in an absolutely fabulous house this weekend. I have no idea what it cost, but based on it's location and appearance, I am certain that it is by far the most expensive house I've ever set foot inside. (Ok, except maybe the Biltmore estate, but that doesn't count.)

I find it easy to look around a place like that and think, "Wouldn't it be nice if. . ." It's tempting to come home and start thinking about all the things I'd like to change around my own house. Which is completely stupid. God has blessed us far beyond what we need. After all, isn't the minimum requirement for contentment something to eat and something to wear (I Timothy 6:8)? Or as Paul set the example, just be content regardless of the situation? How could he do that? Well, he said he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength (Philippians 4:11-13). Did you know that's what that verse is referring to in context? It's not that I can get an A on this test or get that job promotion through Christ who gives me strength. Or that I can make this free throw (I actually used to quote that verse before I shot those back when I played.) It's that I can be content in any situation through Christ who gives me strength.

To quote Charles Spurgeon, “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” Contentment cannot be achieved by getting enough "stuff." There will always be someone with a bigger house or nicer furniture or more stylish clothes or better behaved (but not cuter) children than I have. True satisfaction is found only in Christ.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." He's all I need for this life and the life to come. Who could ask for more than that?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Picture update

I got a request for updated pictures and video of the kids from an out-of-town family member, so here goes:

Ticklish Girl

Her laugh is one of the sweetest sounds in the world.

Our first bowling (and dancing) outing

Notice the great overhand technique. And how he manages to hit right on the center pin.

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Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. . .
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. . .
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

Whatever you're going through today, take a moment to be still and know that God is still God. He is with those who trust in Him.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good bye, Hello

I was sad to learn today that one of my favorite Bloggy Friends is closing up shop. I've enjoyed reading Everyday Mommy for many months. She was one of the more thought-provoking, theologically deep women I read. I'm sure she'll be missed by many.

As long as I'm updating my sidebar links, I'm adding a couple of my other favorites. Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer has an entire site devoted to bloggy giveaways. And, although sending you all over there will dilute my chances of winning, I'm sending you anyway. . . 'Cause I'm not at all competitive (tee hee!) So go, check it out, and try to win yourself some free stuff. And if you don't win, you'll probably at least find some great sites to do your online Christmas shopping.

Blessed Grandma has entered the blogosphere. Although she's only put up her debut post so far, I'm sure good things are to come from this wonderful lady. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I'm not the only one

I find it comforting to know that I'm not the only mom who spends a lot of time thinking about her child's bowel and bladder habits, and even occasionally blogging about them. Here are a couple recent favorites:

Dee at It coulda' been worse shares an experience I could relate to. (Warning! Do not read while drinking. You're likely to laugh so hard you'll spray your screen)
Clear the Pool!

Antique Mommy writes about Whatever Dude Potty Training. I've been using this method for the past 18 months. It's level of success has been somewhat underwhelming. In two weeks we're moving on to the Do It Now, Dude method (accompanied by a wide variety of bribes and a Potty Party at the end.)

Give me a break! Make that an extra 60 minute break.

I about choked when I read this article:

Breastfeeding Mom wins Court Victory

A medical student scheduled to take step II of the US Medical Licensing Exam sued the National Board of Medical Examiners in order to get more break time during the exam. The reason? She's breastfeeding her 5 month old infant and needs an extra hour of time to pump during the exam.

Now, I am a big supporter of breastfeeding. I am a big supporter of doing whatever it takes to help women be successful breastfeeding. It's commendable that this woman is so committed to breastfeeding that she's willing to go to great lengths to continue doing so. But, being pretty familiar with breastfeeding, her request seems a little much to me.

It's a 9 hour exam that she's being given over two days. She was to be provided 45 minutes of break time each day. Is 45 minutes to pump in a 4 and a half hour time period really so little that it requires a lawsuit and an appeal?! She contends that if she doesn't express milk every 2-3 hours she's likely to suffer "significant pain" and risks becoming engorged, developing blocked milk ducts or mastitis.

I wouldn't want to minimize her fears. I know what it feels like to have pain from breastfeeding. I've been engorged, I've had blocked ducts, and I've had mastitis. I know these are not pleasant things. But, really?! She's got a 5 month old baby that nurses so often around the clock that she becomes engorged after 2-3 hours? If so, then pump just before the exam begins, take your 45 minute break in the middle of the exam, and you've only gone 2 hours and 15 minutes between pumping. But even 45 minutes wasn't enough time for her to pump? I think my nipples would fall off if I tried to pump for longer than 45 minutes!

I don't mean to be unsympathetic. I've taken this exam. I know it's extremely stressful. I also know it's stressful to take big exams when you're pregnant or nursing. (Perhaps, even stressful enough to decrease your milk production, making it less likely that you'd become engorged, which might be helpful in this situation.) I took the written surgery board exam when I was 38 weeks pregnant. Other than the pillow I brought to sit on, I didn't expect any special accomodations. I took the oral surgery board exams when my son (who was breastfeeding) was 3 months old. I studied for the orals from a book on a music stand next to the rocking chair in J's room so I could read a little each of the 6-8 times a night I was getting up with him at that point. It never crossed my mind to even ask, let alone sue someone to have them make it easier on me. My situation was a consequence of the choices I had made, and I simply expected to deal with it.

I find this story ironic for another reason. I went to medical school at Michigan State University. The medical school there is a great bastion of "BioPsychoSocial" medicine: caring for the whole person, inside and out. They pound sensitivity into your head from the moment you show up for orientation until the day you graduate. Even if you start out as a sensitive person, it gets a little nauseating at times. The most important question they want you to ask when taking a patient history is, "How does that make you feel?" Anyway, Ruth Hoppe was one of my professors in the family practice department there. She later went on to become one of the deans of the school. She was the Queen of BioPsychoSocial Medicine. And she's now the chairman of the National Board of Medical Examiners, the board Sophie sued for being insensitive to her needs.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Battered Women's Clemency Rally

We interrupt our usual lighthearted blog banter for a brief look at a serious subject I care deeply about. . .

Did you know that there are many women in Michigan serving life sentences for killing their abusive husband or boyfriend in self-defense?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 women who are murdered are killed by their spouse or boyfriend? And that often, those who try to fight back end up in prison for it?

Did you know that Michigan's women's prisons have been cited by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and sued by the US Dept of Justice for abuses of women prisoners?

I've met a number of these women, corresponded with others, and reviewed dozens of their medical files in order to write letters on their behalf. Their stories are heartbreaking. I attended a rally on their behalf today.

Anita Posey, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of her boyfriend. She shot him in self defense while he attacked her and her baby daughter, throwing the baby against a wall. She's one of the most pleasant, upbeat people I've ever met, despite what she's been through.

The grandson of a woman serving a life sentence for accidentally shooting her husband with the gun he was using to assault her. He read a very moving poem that he wrote for the occasion.
Sister of Luanne Szenay, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of her abusive husband. He was killed by one of their employees, who had witnessed her abuse. She was not involved in the crime, and maintains she knew nothing about it. She suffers numerous medical problems from her years of abuse and is being denied adequate medical care by the prison system.

For more information visit The Battered Women's Clemency Project and read their stories. Or watch below (Warning, contains some coarse language and disturbing images):

Psalm 102:19-20 The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I'm sure if I looked back through my archives I'd confirm that the majority of my posts are about funny things that my dear boy J has said. I'd like to be more balanced, but H's talking doesn't really lend itself well to blogging yet. Sure, I think it's adorable when she points at my face and says, "Eyes!" but you really have to hear her say it to appreciate it.

J, on the other hand, makes me laugh repeatedly almost every day with the things that come out of his mouth. Tonight while we were together the States puzzle was no exception. My favorite was when he was naming some of the states he knows. He pointed to the eastern seaboard and said, "That's MyCheezits." After a brief moment of "Huh?!" from me, I said, "Oh, Massachusetts!"

This particular puzzle has little pictures representative of the state on each piece. He picked one up, studied it closely, then asked, "Why do they grow mashed potatoes in North Carolina?" I think that's actually cotton, honey.

He had some pretty creative interpretations of what the shapes of the states reminded him of. Louisiana looks like a train. Idaho looks like smoke rising up from a chair. North Carolina looks like a rocket. And I won't repeat what he thought Texas looked like. Suffice it to say it's the sort of thing that's on the mind of a little boy who's mother frequently reminds him of how much she'd like to see him potty trained.

Two more weeks and we tackle that one seriously.