Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poop dream

Dawit is potty trained. Well, he's day-time potty trained. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is potty trained because I'm no longer changing poopy diapers.

How did we do it, you ask?

Here's how it went: We asked. He said no. We chased. He ran away. We smelled the evidence. He lied and said "No poop." We sat him on the potty. He produced nothing. We put his diaper back on. He pooped. We took his diaper off and vowed to watch for signs. We forgot and he pooped on the sidewalk. We sat him on the potty before bath. Nothing. He pooped in the tub. We tested him to see how long he'd sit in a poopy diaper. Then we called Guinness. Then we had a Guinness. Then we gave up.

THAT was a mere couple of weeks ago. Today, we are all four of us celebrating the gloriousness that is a potty. We're visiting it many times a day. We're high fiving over it. And congratulating each other. And waving good-bye to the poop as we flush.

Because we found the secret to potty training a boy: Don't give a crap.

Seriously. Put your mind in a place where you don't care if it ever happens. And I don't mean secretly care but pretend that you don't. Toddlers can detect that desire like you can detect a poopy diaper from 50 yards. If he suspects you care, it'll never happen.

You've got to completely give up the poop dream: Quit asking. Quit bribing. Quit buying M&Ms that only you are eating. Start researching size 7 diapers. Reinforce your changing table so it can handle 55 pounds. Draft that letter to his future kindergarten teacher warning that your son will be the first to enter school in diapers. Put away the cute Thomas and Friends undies. Put it all out of your mind.

Only when you extinguish all expectations will it happen.

It's really quite liberating because all you have to do is ... quit wanting it.

Please undertand that all of the above is just a bunch of bull. I no more have the secret than the 40 other people who've written books on the subject. This is simply what worked for us. But mainly because we're lazy. And because, in most circumstances, we don't mind our toddler sitting for three hours in his own feces if he doesn't mind -- as long as he doesn't want to snuggle.

I will say that recently we added a rule that everyone in the family -- toddler included -- sits before bed and upon waking each day. We didn't ask, and we didn't use words like pee or poop. We just called it sitting, and there were no expectations.

That's all it took. Something clicked. Now he asks 5 or 6 times a day. Even though he's about a year behind Caroline, he's way easier because there are no head games. He doesn't yell out from bed that he has to poop just to delay bedtime. If he has to go, he goes.

One less thing. Yay.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Summing it up

If you wanted to capture the essence of my kids, wrap it all up in a neat little package, these three pics would almost do the trick.

  • Caroline has a spiral notebook and pen in her hand. She's happiest when she's adorning every available surface with hearts, happy faces and names of all the people she loves.
  • Dawit's pushing something with wheels.
  • Caroline's wearing pj's. Granted the sunset makes it look like bedtime is approaching, but she would wear them 24/7 if we (read: I) allowed it. If you draw the line at going out to restaurants in our sleepwear, Spence and I are on opposite sides of that line.
  • Dawit's cheesing it up for the camera, while Caroline is pretty much blowing it off. 
  • Caroline's jagged little bangs give a little glimpse into her fiercely independent nature.
  • Dawit is the poster child for Thomas the Tank Engine. See shoes.
  • They're both a blur of activity.
So different, yet so uniquely awesome. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall break at the lake

The earlier fishing pics of Dawit were a teaser to the week-long camping trip the kids and Spence took over fall break. I'm fairly certain there is no other dad on earth who would organize an adventure of this magnitude. If you know one, you're cordially invited next year.

Boat loaded, the three campers embark on a 20-minute paddle to what will be their home for the next 8 days: Big Goat Island on Dale Hollow Lake.

Caroline lives in her pjs no matter where she hangs her hat. 

Just chillin'.

C took her carousel of markers and a lifetime supply of paper so she could continue her art while roughing it. She ran out of paper about four days in. On my weekend visit, I endlessly mated pens and lids.

Dawit enjoying the fire and a cup of applesauce.

Exploring divers' rock. I had continuous heart attacks keeping everyone from leaping/falling off.

Dawit washing clothes in a bear barrel.

Note the pink crocs on the wrong feet. Dad seriously lowers his manly standards when camping.

So "sweepy."

Never without her pad and pen.

The gang picked up Mama Norma for a visit to Big Goat.

Packing to come home. 
On the way home, they stopped at McD's for a "healthy" dinner (way healthier than the camping fare of cheetos and squeeze cheese). When they finished, both kids declared they were ready to head back to camp.

Despite the fact they arrived home with not one single dry article, including the clothes they were all wearing, and all three had colds and a wicked cough, they all declared it the best fall break ever. Big Goat rules!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leaf walk

Sunday I took the kids on a leaf walk. As we collected, we admired the unique qualities of each leaf and marveled at how many different trees we have within 20 minutes of home. We compared some of them to things that would help us remember which tree they came from. (Which one looks like an alien? a cat head?) We talked about how leaves change color each fall and why they fall from their branches. We brainstormed art projects Caroline could try with leaves. It turned out to be a nifty little impromptu science lesson. Sort of. Dawit really just wanted to throw rocks.

Anyone care to identify these? Anyone? Anyone?

These are the easy ones. Next trip, we're going to take our Field Guide to Southern Trees (or whatever it's called) and branch out, so to speak, to some harder-to-identify ones.

PS. That little round fella is a geode we found.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I miss you in Nashville

Dawit came with me to Nashville this week to visit his Nana. He always tells me, "I miss you in Nashville." It breaks my heart in two. So we decided this would be a good week for him to join me there.

Yesterday I took him to Gojo, the best Ethiopian restaurant in the city. We celebrated Dawit's first birthday there. Ahmed, the owner, loves Dawit and always speaks to him in Amharic, which causes guilt to course through my veins for not working harder to learn the language and share it with Dawit. (Getting the tapes are on my to-do list.) So Ahmed says something to Dawit and Dawit says "yes." I looked at Ahmed, and he said, "I asked if he would like to come with me." So he asked again in English and Dawit took his hand and headed to the kitchen -- a place I've never been but would love to see in action.

A few minutes later, Dawit comes strolling back to the dining room talking on a cell phone. I hear him say things like, "Hop on Thomas" and "Thomas and Percy and Edward." Thomas the Tank Engine, of course, because that's his favorite -- and pretty much only -- subject. He eventually says "Bye" and hands me the phone. It was Ahmed's wife who wasn't working that day and was very sorry to miss D. I translate all of Dawit's jabbering for her and promise to bring him back soon.

As we're leaving, Ahmed invites Dawit to come spend the day with his family some weekend. He has children for Dawit to play with. Other than Ahmed's wife, I've only met his niece so I'm excited to meet more of his family and hang out. We chat about him being unable to go back to Ethiopia because of the restaurant. If he does go, he'd have to leave Shemsia behind or vice versa. It makes me sad. It makes me want to offer to run the restaurant so they can go together. I know they miss their country. And their families. And their own traditions. And their language. I hope they can make it happen. They're such wonderful people.

The restaurant was crowded at lunch. I love to see it crowded. And to watch the people try to figure out the eating protocol. But this day, people seemed to already know, which means they're likely regulars. And that's cool.

When we got back home after 3 days in Nashville, Dawit says to me, "I miss you in Nashville."