Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Potty Training and Poop Prize Charts

Welcome to my lengthy post about potty training. I wanted to write so much in order to remember every thing for the next time around with Baby Huck. Enjoy!

Last year I shared with you my thoughts on potty training Little Olive. That was August '11. It is now May 2012, and with LO being 30 months, I'm happy to say we have quite possibly arrived at Potty Trained Station. She hasn't had an accident in a while, so I'm going to knock on wood and stand proud. If you'd like to know how we got here, read on.

Pre-Potty Training Mindset
I was in no hurry to potty train. People would ask curiously about her Potty Training Status and observe that she was ready and would be training soon. I didn't mind...I was confident in my decision to wait. I'd seen setbacks and regression from pushing this too young. Besides, no way was I going to train my little child in the chill of winter. Imagine dragging a toddler and a newborn into public restrooms and fumbling with hats, coats, and boots while she sits on those dirty toilets. Not my cup of tea. Besides, she hadn't told me she was ready yet. With all seriousness, I was waiting for this announcement.

When it wasn't happening, I began to wonder if I was doing her a disservice. A part of me felt a little lazy for not training her. I pulled out The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and read every word about how he trained his kids. After that, I closed the book and looked at my husband. "We're training tomorrow."

What changed my mind so quickly?

It was the realization that Little Olive had all the ready signs:

1) Child is able to understand or make simple requests (I guess you could call this simple? "Mommy, I'm hungry. I would like peanut butter and jelly swamich - well, no I want peanut butter on a spoon. Not jelly on a spoon. Just peanut butter! Not a peanut butter and jelly swamich.")

2) Child is able to pull down/up pants (child has been changing her clothes hourly since she learned what dresses are)

3) Child recognizes body functions ("Mommy, I pooped in my diaper. Tan you change me, please?")

4) Child is able to "hold it" for a couple hours (check)

5) Demonstrates a desire for independence (you could say that)

6) Has words for urine and stool (poopdog, poopybottom, and peepee crack her up whenever she says them *in a goofy voice, of course*)

First Day
It was Monday morning. I was ready. I felt like the Target Lady talking to herself in the mirror before Black Friday. Around 8am I explained to Little Olive that we were not using diapers anymore. She covered her face and started bawling her eyes out.  It was as if I told her all the chocolate in the world had gone to sleep. I was not expecting that reaction! She slowly recovered and we went about our morning in underwear. Within two hours, she had soiled all pairs. We did a load of wash together as I explained to her (yet again) that she needed to tell me before letting the peepees come out.

Not going to lie, I started feeling discouraged. Was I just wasting my time? Was she ready?

That afternoon, she stayed dry. I was pretty amazed!

Second Day
We had one accident in the morning. Otherwise, she was dry! I was floored. Was it possible for a child to do it so easily? Good for her. We were so proud.

The next two weeks
I forgot to mention...this potty training success was pretty one-sided on the urine/stool spectrum. Little Olive showed determination when it came to going peepee in the potty. She was really understanding what it felt like beforehand. We'd ask her if she had to go, and sometimes she would say no. We learned quickly that forcing her to sit on the potty (because it had been a couple hours) was honestly a waste of time. She really knew when she had to pee and when she didn't.

But...(dun dun dun...)

Poop was not happening. She knew she had to go. We'd run to the bathroom, sit on the potty, wait a while, then she'd get up. We'd go play. She'd announce she had to go, we'd run to the bathroom, sit on the potty, wait, and still nothing. We would do this many times until she would just have an accident in her undies while playing.

Out came The Baby Book. Dr. Sears suggested putting a diaper on the child and having her do her business in the bathroom, so that hopefully she would make the connection. We tried this, but Little O flipped out when I suggested a diaper. I'd give her a choice: the diaper or the potty. She'd sit for a while, but guess what? Nothing would happen.

I would firmly (but still kindly) tell her after each accident that it was not ok...that big girls didn't go in their underwear. That she went peepee on the potty, and that the poopy goes in there too. She hated the accidents...she would come to me crying after each time.

With all honesty, I wasn't frustrated. A lot of mommies shared with me that their children did the same thing for a while...and that eventually they went on the potty. So I was okay. I was using positive reinforcement and encouraging her and cheering for her every time she said she had to go. But something just wasn't clicking with her yet.

Then I read about a mom who used a Prize Chart for her child, and within a few days, he was golden.

The 180
Now, I admit it. I am against prize charts. After all, what about intrinsic motivation!?

Little Olive's Prize Chart
But it sounded pretty tempting, so I decided to give this a try. I made a simple 5X5 chart with "Prize!" at the end of each line. 

The plan was that after each time she went poop on the potty, she'd put a sticker up all by herself. After 5 stickers, she'd get a prize. I brought it to her, showed her the chart and stickers, and explained what we were doing. I taped it onto the wall and just wanted to see what happened.

I kid you not, she pooped five times that day on the potty. I seriously was not prepared for it - I even had to make up a prize that night because I hadn't planned ahead that far.

Here we are, almost a week after starting this chart, and she has not had ONE accident in her underwear. 

This picture was taken a couple days ago. We're almost to her 4th prize right now. I make the prizes simple things, like pieces of chocolate, or a notepad and a pen (because she looooves her notepads and pens). I just find things to wrap up and she is so excited. At the end of the whole chart, I want to get her Buzz Lightyear underwear. We aren't the kind of family to buy things all the time...but I think she'll deserve some new undies.

My Thoughts
I never thought I'd be a prize chart parent. Like, never ever. But whatever it was that was keeping her from pooping on the potty went away as soon as she started putting up her sparkly chicken stickers.

There are a few reasons why I think this way worked:

1) After her initial breakdown over saying goodbye to diapers, Little Olive was excited about going on the potty in the beginning. I didn't need to bribe her to get started.

2) We waited until she was older and understood everything that was going on.

3) After she got comfortable going on the potty, we took it up a notch to get the poopies out.

If someone asked me, I would advise holding off on the prize chart when first starting out potty training. I'd only use it if there was a reason. In a perfect world, on a nice piece of paper, she wouldn't have needed prizes. But in a perfect world, adults wouldn't need incentives either. And I don't know about you, but I love me some extra credit. :)

So thanks for reading, and as always, thoughts, suggestions, and comments are always welcome!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Groovy 60s Costumes

How crazy is it that fashion recycles itself, and that vintage is a popular style these days. Bathing suits from the 50s, pants from the 80s, hair-dos from the 70s are coming back into circulation. In a way, it makes us want to learn about the 60s and figure out why people wore what they did. Despite how much we look at photographs from decades ago and think, "Did people really wear that?" it's inevitable that those same styles will be making it to the runway and your favorite fashion stores this very season.

Some of my favorite fashions come from the 60s. So when it came time for me to pick out a costume, I immediately checked out that genre first. Browsing through 60s costumes is an absolute blast. I could've been a go-go dancer, a superstar with awesome bouffant hair, or a full-fledge hippie. I went with a hippie and ordered the super cute 60s patchwork skirt.

When my skirt arrived, I was ecstatic. The fit was perfect, and the material was really soft. I was impressed that it was a genuine patchwork skirt - not just a print on fabric to make it look that way. The colors are vibrant, and the stitching appears to be very durable and secure. I am so pleased with this skirt and would recommend it to anyone needing that perfect hippie skirt. I can honestly say the length is the only thing I could complain about - it's just a little long for me. But then again, I'm only 5'3".

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vaccines: Round Two

Last year I wrote a lengthy post on vaccines. Then I expressed my concerns about a few specific vaccines here. It was literally tearing me apart not knowing if I was making the best decision for my children. During our play dates, my SIL over at A Life Well Loved told me she felt the same way as I did. We didn't know what to do regarding the Pc and Hib vaccines. So we took it into our own hands to get some solid research and facts from a credible source, Dr. Sherry Tenpenny. We had our minds put to ease once and for all. Below are the notes my SIL typed up. (I have to give her credit because her notes are a billion times better than mine.)

Hib vaccine

  • The bacteria for this vaccine was most common for meningitis that resulted from ear infections.
  • Less than 2% of people suffered from these ear infections, and only some of these ended up with meningitis.
  • This bacteria has barely been in circulation since ‘91.
  • Now, instead of preventing against these ear infections or meningitis, the vaccine does the opposite and lends one more susceptible to ear infections.
  • Hib really isn’t a threat anymore.
  • If a child has an ear infection, instead of vaccinating, treat the ear infection!  Use an antibiotic if need be.  Must address ear infection since it may be the 1st sign of meningitis!
  • The vaccine, once injected into the body, creates an antibody that looks for a certain amino acid sequence to "attack".
  • If the antibody cannot find that sequence, it looks elsewhere, attaching itself to other parts inside the body such as the heart, other organs, eyes, ears, etc.  This is where insulin levels can be messed up and diabetes can result.

Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 7 and Prevnar 13)

  • Works same as the above vaccine
  • Prevnar 7- you get 7 vaccines at one time. Likewise, you get 13 vaccines in one in Prevnar 13
  • Prevnar 13 was taken off the shelves in Japan and New Zealand because of the increase in seizures.
  • Prevnar was used to eliminate strep throat.
  • What these vaccines are doing is weakening the 7 or 13 strands of the illness but by doing so are strengthening the many other strands. Now when people come down with strep or worse, it is usually caused by the stronger strands -- not even the ones IN the vaccines! It was the weak strains of strep throat that would cause meningitis and septicemia (happened less than 1 in 1000). But now there are much stronger strains of strep now out there.

Both Hib and pneumococcal get into the ear through the throat into the Eustachian tube.  Be sure to treat the ear infection or strep throat!

Breastfed babies get antibodies through the iodine and colostrum in the breastmilk, so bacteria doesn’t get into the ear!

Babies, and breastfeeding moms, need high levels of iodine; it is critical for brain development and increases a person’s IQ by 10 pts.
  • A good source of iodine is sea veg or North Atlantic kelp.  Can give to toddlers as well.

Kids must also be on a probiotic, even the baby; there is a lactose-free kind called Culturelle.

These (iodine and probiotic) will prevent children from coming down with almost any infection!

Keeping good GI health is the most important! It’s not about the bug. It’s about each person’s individual health.

Health doesn’t come through a needle!  Vaccines won’t keep children healthy.

Also give vitamin D drops (1000 IU’s a day); keeps illness from becoming viral.

Rebuttal to vitamin D toxicity argument: you can’t really overdose on it.  In the 1930s, sailors were stranded at sea and ate polar bear meat and fat to stay alive.  Polar bears contain an extremely high level of vitamin D.  After several weeks on this diet only, these sailors became ill and were vomiting. Their levels of vitamin D were in the 1000’s.  As long as you don’t eat a polar bear, you should be good ;)  

Our population as a whole now has vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D also protects against cancer and other illnesses!

Meningitis in schools
  • As for dorming, meningitis is NOT more prevalent on a college campus or dorm room.  There is no higher incident in a dorm. It is more prevalent in general society.
  • Check out Holistic Moms online. These groups can help families regarding vaccine exemptions, school and state guidelines, etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So it turns out I'm a schedule person

So old news: sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Very old news: all moms do. I have been trying to figure out a way to to handle everything, and I thought back to a time in my life where I was crazy busy. It was my first two years of college. I was going to school full-time, five days a week, and working three part-time jobs. Not to toot my own horn, but I thrived. My grades were perfect, and I was always on time, never called in, never got sick!, and actually rarely felt stressed. I attribute all this to the fact that I was ridiculously organized and felt "put-together".

Being a stay-at-home mom, sometimes I just try to go with the flow and do whatever I can during the day. But almost always, I forget about important things and, as a result, find myself frustrated trying to make it until bedtime. I decided to test out an idea of putting myself back on a schedule. I just needed to become more organized.

So I thought long and hard about what would work best for us. I typed it in pretty colors, hung it on our wall where every one can see it, and I'm sharing it with you. Here is what our daily schedule looks like...and some notes below. 
Our Day

7-8:                  Breakfast, movie, bathroom
8-9:                  Changes, laundry, play
9-10:               Daily chore, Huck's nap, play
10-11:            Errands, visits
11-12:            Lunch
12-2:               Nap and quiet time
2-3:                   Snack, errands
3-4:                   Play time, Huck's nap
4-5:                   Make dinner and tidy
5-6:                   Dinner and clean-up
6-7:                   Wind down, get ready for bed
7:30:                Bedtime

Daily Chore:
Mon:          Kitchen
Tues:        Little Olive's room
Wed:         Bathroom
Thurs:      Our room
Fri:              Dining room
Sat:            Living room

Every day, no matter what:
Give lots of hugs and kisses

My thoughts:
1) We don't follow it to a T every single day. For example, sometimes we visit with friends and family longer in the morning, or we completely switch things up and go in the afternoon. Some days we have no errands to run at all, so we end up filling those slots with other things. And some days we start off following it, ignore it for a few hours, then get back on track later. It has just helped me break down the day into do-able sections. I know what needs to (or can) get done within a certain time-frame, and it puts my mind at ease.

2) Little Olive has been doing so, so well these past two weeks. That's when we started following this schedule. I honestly believe that children need not only limits, but also a schedule. It helps them get a handle on life instead of not knowing what comes next. That can be distressing. (Heck, if it's stressful to us, imagine what it does to their little minds.)

3) The schedule has seemed to help me be more patient and include Little Olive more. She knows that when it's time for our daily chore, she can help me. Together we work on the same room instead of me doing all the work and her "getting in the way" and frustrating me.

4) The reason I picked one room every day to clean is because I turn into a crazy person trying to keep my whole house clean, all day, every day. It's such a relief looking at the dining room today and thinking, "I'll do that Friday. Don't stress about it now. Focus on the bathroom."

5) This schedule has actually given me more time to spend with my kids. I write down things during the morning that I want to get done during naptime. This way, I'm not on my phone, computer, or Facebook allll day long. After lunch, Little Olive goes up to her room. She plays quietly or sleeps so I can do work-type stuff.

I'm sure it will need tweaking as the children grow and their needs change. But for now, this really works for us. If you feel drawn to try it out in your home, I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Thoughts on this year's election

I'm so pleased to be able to share these wise thoughts with you regarding the 2012 general election from a good friend of mine, David Tobit. Comments and questions are welcomed to we can all start talking about this.  

For past conversations, I think everyone knows I've argued the point that we must vote for Romney because he is the better alternative and that any vote for anyone other than Romney is a vote for Obama. I've cited the Ross Perrot anecdote too.

As of late, I'm considering that I may have been wrong. I think the GOP used fear the same way the Dems do. "Anyone is better than Obama, so here, we will push this moderate Romney, and know you'll vote for him because we've convinced you that as bad as it is, it will get worse unless you vote the Dem out." But, what if we do all vote for Romney (who no one is crazy about), and then he loses, and then in 2016, it's say, Romney vs Pelosi, and once again, we all feel we have to vote for mediocrity out of fear of the alternative. When do we stop, and demand that we deserve better?

There is no good time to change. Ron Paul is different than Perrot because Perrot was alone, no momentum. Ron Paul is the embodiment of a cause that started after the 2008 midterms and hasn't slowed down since. 

I believe in economics, and free markets correct themselves. The only way the GOP will ever chose a Constitutionalist like Ron Paul is if they realize that unless they do, they don't get the conservative vote. Let them lose a few times while we vote for people who love, follow and uphold our Constitution, and the GOP will either change and accept us, or we will grow and become a dominant party. If we play right into their Fear Tactics, that it's going to be catastrophic unless we vote GOP, things will never change.

Look, Romney will be better than Obama. If Romney is captain of the ship, the ship will be run more efficiently, the service will be better onboard, and the people inboard will have a better time and more money while on the ship. However, neither Obama nor Romney is going to drastically change the ships course. We're headed for the iceberg either way. Unless someone turns the whole thing around and heads back to its origin. And that's the constitutionalist movement.