Potty Training Adventures: Part Two

It has been almost eight months since I took a staycation and potty trained Major. You can read details of the training method we used here.

We removed all diapers from the house, put Major in underwear, and began a quarantine in his playroom. While the method claimed to do it in 3 days, I can’t say we were perfect in 3. But, definitely potty trained and very few accidents followed.

Eight months later, we have made it! Don’t worry, it didn’t take eight months, as I said above. There have been accidents along the way, no doubt. There was a rough week back in late May when Major had a virus and I thought we were headed in a bad direction. Cue the Google searching and lots of phone calls to veteran toddler mommas, and I quickly found it was common with the virus Major had.

I am still cautious of long car trips/plane rides and go about 50/50 as far as whether I put a Pull Up on Major. I trust him 100% to tell me he has to go to the bathroom, and he can hold it pretty well. However, one way to lower stress when traveling is to know that I won’t have to deal with an potty accident outfit change, and it’s no biggie to do the Pull Up.

We have never wavered on how we treat accidents. They are not OK. In our house, an accident is only an accident at night while sleeping. It’s not like we give timeouts when they have happened, but we always tell Major that it isn’t OK, and that we don’t go in underwear. He picked up on that easily and I think this response was key to our quick success.

The other key to success has been not using a kid toilet. Major goes only in bathrooms. In real life, there are no potties in the middle of kitchens, hallways, or next to the dinner table. So for us, part of training includes the walk to the bathroom, where potty trained people go.

Really, the only changes we have made sine my original post is buying new underwear. Ha! For all that have asked me questions, here is my golden advice. You know, as a non-professional.

Stick with the plan you choose.

All the tools we used in my original post and recap here worked because we never wavered. Potty training sucks at the beginning, and it would be easy to quit. Keep pressing on with your method of choice, and you too will have success. Now, drop your advice below for any mommas who haven’t done it yet!

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The Inner Workings of a Wannabe TV Junkie

Oh hey there! Hi there. Miss me? I missed you. I gave myself a little sabbatical, but I guess I didn’t tell you about it first. I hope that’s cool.

I thought we should kick things off with something light, but necessary. I’m talking about mindless, guilty pleasures. For me, it’s television. Mostly reality television. OK, it’s Bravo. All Bravo.

The thing is, I don’t watch a whole lot of television. I don’t keep it on in the background while cleaning, and I don’t turn it on when I walk in the door. But most nights when Major goes to sleep, Drew and I either watch a sitcom together or we go our separate ways to watch something on our own. We don’t have all the time in the world, so this is a one-hour maximum event. For a couple that doesn’t watch a ton of TV, we do have five to choose from so there is always a place to watch something in silence. That is, assuming the little minion is asleep.

I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite shows, in the hopes that you might share yours. I could be missing out on something!

  1. The Real Housewives of Everywhere – Well, I used to watch every city. Now that Major doesn’t nap, I don’t have as much time to devote to these ladies. I’ve narrowed it down to Orange County, Beverly Hills, New York, and I try to catch as much Potomac as I can.
  2. Modern Family – Does anyone NOT love this show? Drew and I watch this together. This is one show that often makes me laugh until I cry, rewind often, and relate to in many ways. I can easily find 22 minutes to catch up on DVR episodes of this!
  3. Blackish – Anthony Anderson is hilarious. Every cast member on this show does a great job. Blackish is funny, but tackles tough conversations. I frequently hear a perspective I hadn’t considered, and it helps shape my view of current events. And again, the humor. This cast was put together so well!
  4. Fixer Upper – Need I say more? I was really late to the Fixer Upper game. As in, I just started watching it about six months ago. I now have 53 episodes waiting on my DVR. Will I ever get to all of them? Doubtful. But there is always one waiting for me when I have time! I started liking the farmhouse style (thank you for carrying the Magnolia collection, Homemakers!) before I started watching the show, which is what drew me to finally watch the show.

I’d love to hear what you’re watching these days! What shows am I missing? I’m always looking for a new series to watch with Drew. Despite what you may think from the list above, I really like true crime documentaries and reenactments. I love American Crime Story.

If you have kids, do you watch less TV now than you did before? If you don’t have kids, have you noticed any life events that have changed your TV habits?

 

How To Maintain Your Own Weight When Your Child Needs Extra Calories

 

When I first learned I would parent a child with cystic fibrosis, I made it my mission to only allow healthy fats for him to keep his weight up. You see, people with CF don’t absorb fats well. Despite taking enzymes to help with absorption, they just don’t have the same ability to gain and maintain weight that you and I do. As a healthy eater, I would never dream of keeping processed food in my house. Butter, whole milk, olive oil, and avocados became Major’s staples. Oh, and salt. All the salt.

At some point, I changed. I accepted my fate as a mother of a toddler who had enough on her plate. The kid wanted an Oreo. And yeah, I know. Plenty of kids don’t eat processed foods and are just happy as clams. However, not worrying about every bit of sugar and corn syrup that goes into Major’s mouth takes one thing off my plate, and quite frankly adds something to his.

I became a bite-sneaker. I remember my very first secret bite. It was butter-laden, salt infused egg noodles. With cheese. (Grandma Bunny recipe). The bite was so good, so addicting. I had another. And so began my love affair with Major’s food.

It turned out that the egg noodles were just a gateway food to the harder stuff. Oreos, cheese shreds, Pop Tarts, ranch. I tried it all. Let me be clear that Major does eat plenty of healthy foods and fats. These were just the things I really went after. The snacks!

Somewhere between spraying Easy Cheese into my mouth and wiping powdered sugar from my shirt, I realized I had to gain control. I didn’t even really like Easy Cheese. I also don’t enjoy powdered sugar – it always makes me choke!

Here are my tips for staying healthy (from one lady to another, I’m not a health or fitness professional):

  1. Accept that you have a problem, whatever that may be! I wasn’t ready to tackle my extra pounds until Major was one. I didn’t really care until one day, I did. It took realizing that I wanted to be a healthy mom in order to raise a healthy child, and I had to be emotionally ready to accept that I wasn’t doing that.
  2. Make a plan. Stick to the plan. Try something for a while before moving onto something else. If you don’t, how will you know whether it worked? I did the 21 Day Fix for months until I felt ready to eat a little differently. Even today, when I start to slip I go right back to the Fix.
  3. Pick one thing if you have to. I’ve always exercised, so it wasn’t overwhelming for me to begin a new fitness program and a new meal plan on the same day. If you are starting from scratch in either area, just do one thing! Even today, when I get off track over a holiday weekend, I will say that on day one I cannot have any takeout. I may not eat perfectly, but I can’t take extreme(ish) measures like leaving the house specifically to get unhealthy food.
  4. Allow cheat meals. If you really like powdered donuts, don’t ban them entirely. Plan them in as a cheat meal! Just don’t allow these cheat meals to occur daily.
  5. Find an accountability partner. I check in with a friend daily about our workouts and eating. I can’t say that I have ever not eating something due to guilt of having to report it, but when I do get to say that I stayed on plan, I feel great!
  6. Accept that you will have days that are less than perfect. I eat things that I regret. But I don’t beat myself up. It’s just food! I move on quickly and plan to make the next meal better.

Most importantly:

Trust that you are not alone. Aside from those with crazy metabolisms, everyone has to work to maintain their weight. Some people find it becomes second nature to eat healthy. I still have to choose every day whether to eat healthy. Frankly, I make a choice at every meal. I go through periods where it comes more naturally, but mostly I still feel new at this!

What tips do you have for getting or staying on track?

The War of the Wills

Getting a toddler to eat is, apparently, quite difficult. I used to hear moms bemoan the struggles of dining with children. I also didn’t quite understand the concept of why one would make salmon, rice, and fresh veggies for themselves and easy mac for their children. I didn’t understand it, but didn’t question it. Why? Because everyone does it, so I knew there was something there. And now that I’m a mom, I finally understand what all the fuss is about eating. I understand why two meals sometimes get made, I understand why kiddie snacks are so important to have on hand, I understand why battles are held at the dinner table, and I understand why parents are exasperated.

Toddlers are crazy.

Glad we got that out there. The fact is, easy mac is easy. Pre-packaged kid snacks and meals are nice to have in a pinch. And, kids like them. Toddler meal times can involve a lot of no’s, a lot of tears, a lot of playing with food, a lot of “ewww’s,” and a lot of parental frustration.

Despite all of the above, eating remains a battle that we all must conquer, because we’ve gotta live right? One thing that you may not know about cystic fibrosis is that it doesn’t only impact the lungs. Major’s pancreas doesn’t release the necessary enzymes to absorb the nutrients in his food. He takes digestive enzymes to supplement what his pancreas isn’t doing, and even then it doesn’t absorb fat soluble vitamins as well as you or I. Because of this, Major maintains a high fat, high calorie, high sodium diet. As much as I want to serve him the lean protein and vegetables we eat, that isn’t what’s best for him.

We have battled many times over meals, but have finally decided that healthy eating HABITS are our number one priority. Dictating bite after bite is not how I want to continue to have meal time. I didn’t grow up in a clean plate club and I don’t want Major to have that expectation, either!

To allow us to back off the quantity pressure, we have to make sure to bring the quality factor up. You can read here some of the ways I increase the fat and calories of each bite and sip.

Our Action Plan:

We have started eating meals as a family more, and I believe that has made a difference. On the nights we do this, Major sits with us if he gets done eating first. Often he will continue to eat off my plate, which is great. He is allowed to ask to be excused, but we usually ask him to sit with us until we are done. Prior to this change, I used to bustle around in the kitchen while Major ate near me, and Drew would be in and out of the room as well. I believe this family time is important for all of us, not just for food purposes!

Also, I’m backing off the tailor made meals for Major. He is starting to eat what we eat more, but I doctor his food up a lot. We will never have identical plates, but this is much closer!

We don’t beg for more bites. We encourage it, and we compliment him for a well eaten meal, but there is no punishment for not eating enough.

The enzymes Major takes before meals last for about 30-45 minutes. I think we all can agree that we don’t need more than 30 minutes to eat a one course meal. Plus, you get about 30 second to eat when you get to school, I hear. Thus, Major doesn’t get any longer than 30 minutes to eat unless he gets a strong second wind at the end, then we will go up to 45. If he is done actively eating in 15 minutes and says he’s full, we wrap up. If 10 minutes later he want a little something else, back to the table to eat it before the 30 minutes is up. This is typically dessert or more milk, etc.

So far, we are having good results with this approach. Meal times are mostly happy, I don’t feel like a drill sergeant, and Major is learning hunger cues just as I’d hoped he would. Our CF dietician has been very supportive of this, which gives me the confidence to forge ahead.

It seems that for toddlers, meal approaches are quite a hot topic! So tell me, what do you do with your little one?

Yes, I Know Guac is Extra.

I’ve yet to meet a mother who doesn’t have a picky toddler at one point or another. It seems like once you proclaim your child to be a great eater, you no longer have one. Major, like many kids, has phases of wanting to try anything and times where he will subsist off of cheese alone. These challenging meals leave me baffled, sometimes angry, and searching for solutions.

Because Major has cystic fibrosis, his pancreas can’t get enough enzymes out to absorb the nutrients in his food. This means gaining weight is a struggle for him, even with the 25 enzymes he takes per day to allow for the food to absorb.

Alas, we do not force Major to eat his food. I’ll detail our approach in another post though! Let me tell you what we DO do.

We pack every single calorie we can into each bite. If he finishes his food – awesome, tons of calories and fat. If he has five bites, that stinks, but we know we got some good stuff in there.

I’ve been posting some of our toddler meals on Instagram lately and wanted to share some ideas for you. These are great for any kid you are trying to get calories into. I am not an RD so this in no way comes with authority other than being a mom!

Mix canned chicken with avocado and spread the mixture on crackers. I served this with buttered graham crackers and key lime yogurt. It was a hit! Sometimes I also add a touch of mayo to the chicken salad.

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Bacon. I don’t need to church this one up for you.

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Avocado sushi rolls with cheddar cheese and chicken. I saw this on a TV show and thought it was a great idea! I rolled the bread with a can of food to make it thin, spread my avocado and chicken mixture, added cheese and rolled it up. Then I just cut it like a sushi roll! Major thought this was really fun.

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Chicken salad (with mayo this time) over crackers with some easy cheese. Never forget that easy cheese can go on anything! Olives on the side (new food, loved it), and a donut for dessert.

 

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The goal is to pick up every single piece of food and ask myself, “What else can I do to bulk this up?” I will even make a milkshake of Pedisure, Half and Half, and whole milk. It’s a tasty and calorie packed addition to any meal. In fact tonight, Major was having a light dinner and we compromised by him finishing his milk. Because I’d given him that drink, I get to go to bed with no stress.

What are your go-to toddler meals?

Potty Training Adventures

Welp, here we go. I never knew when we would get to this, but in the past few weeks I decided that it is time to potty train Major. Actually, Major decided, and I finally caught what he was throwing.

{I hesitated to write this post. I like to think about how Major could react when he eventually reads my blog. For this topic, I decided to go forward with my commentary. Major is being potty trained at a reasonable age – no embarrassment, we all go through it. I’m also not going to detail all the things that went on while training. We had some funny and crazy moments that are just for family. And my friend who got to witness a few moments. So Major, if you are reading this one day and are embarrassed, you may select a video game or something of equal value and I hope that will make up for my transgression.}

I’ve seen several younger and older kiddos get potty trained while I was waiting for Major to announce he was ready. I waited for a while. With Major being about 2.5 years old, I wondered if the time was approaching. A few weeks ago, I bought the book titled “Potty Training in 3 Days” by Brandi Brucks. It looked like a quick read, and three days is right where I want to be. You can purchase it on Amazon here.

As it turns out, Brandi knows my soul. You see, Major has shown me every sign of being ready. He is interested in the potty, he tells me when he needs a new diaper, and he follows directions like a boss. However, if I ask him if he wants to use the potty, the answer is always a firm “no.” I concluded he wasn’t ready.

Brandi enlightened me to the reality that was never going to say yes. She also showed me that potty training at 2.5 will be easier then 3.5 because he won’t really remember wearing diapers. The emotional attachment grows as the child does. Now, if you waited or plan to wait, remember – this is what works for us, so you do you! I remembered how glad I was to have taken Major’s pacifier when I did (another thing I hesitated to do), and that helped push me into the toileting section of Buy Buy Baby.

I am a person who likes structure and rules. I like to follow a plan, and she gave me one! Some of the pieces that I think are the best tips in her book:

  • “Throw out” all of the diapers. Major and I collected them from all over the house, just like Brandi told us to. We put them in a shopping bag and set them outside for the garbage man to take them away. In reality, I will donate them.
  • Don’t tell him that accidents are OK, unless it happened while sleeping. When he has an accident, I remind him that he has to tell me when he needs to potty. Brandi provides some key phrases that I use to make sure he knows it isn’t OK. When he is sleeping, they are truly accidents and don’t need correction. He is sleeping in overnight pull ups.
  • Lots of fluids! Brandi talks about this a lot in her book. If he can’t practice, he can’t make perfect. Water all day my friends.
  • Stop asking if he has to go potty. I do as Brandi says: “Major, TELL Mommy when you have to go potty.” There is no option. We don’t use a timer because the goal is for him to understand what it feels like to need to go.
  • Only go to the bathroom in the bathroom. As potty trained people, we do not have the luxury of going anywhere as one does while in diapers. We chose to use the regular toilet, but if you use a kid potty do as Brandi says and keep it in the bathroom.
  • The most important: DON’T BE GLUED TO YOUR PHONE! Brandi really says no phone. I must admit that I was on it a bit, but as she requests only 15 seconds at a time. Enough to read a text and/or send one. My eyes had to be on Major so that I could watch his cues. The only way to learn said cues was to keep watching him. By noon on day one, I could predict when he was about to go.

Are you thinking about potty training? Here is a summary of each day and what we went through:

Day One: As told to by the book, we began potty training after breakfast and Major’s vest treatment for his cystic fibrosis. We started by collecting all of the diapers from all over the house and putting them in a shopping bag. Major thought this was fun! I had built up potty training for the past week or two and he knew this was coming. I then showed him his pile of big boy underwear and let him pick out the first pair. Then, we played! That’s it. And I watched. We had the first accident 8 minutes in. There were a lot of accidents. I believe we were at 6 by 11am. I was starting to feel wilted around then and was just hoping for one successful bathroom potty by nap time. Well, I got three! Major earned his reward (Cheetos) for each successful trip to the bathroom. By the third successful visit, he actually told me he had to go. After nap time, I had Drew home to help which was nice. He quickly got the hang of the system. Major did pretty well that night, but I felt like he was getting afraid of the toilet. We went to sleep early and everyone was ready for a break.

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Day Two: Major hopped out of bed and told me that he had to potty! But, then he didn’t go.  We got going with treatment in a pull up and talked about our day. I will note that I am going to do his vest treatments in a pull up until he has a good run of getting through them dry. His vest shakes him awfully hard and I think it’s a bit much to ask a 2 year old to hold it while vibrating. Maybe that’s just me? He did just fine during breakfast and then we had a long, long morning. By noon I was questioning myself. I was questioning his readiness. I gave us both a short reprieve by having my mom watch him so I could grab lunch with a friend. She had success while I was gone, so I felt ready to re-focus after our break. When we woke up from nap time all the way until bed time, he was awesome. He told us when he had to go and successfully went each time. Day Two was harder than Day One, but we made it.

Day Three: This is where the tides began to turn. We had mostly success on Day Three and Major really began to get it. By this day, he was no longer tearful and instead morphed into a potty confident big boy. Maybe too confident, but I’ll take it. He did have two accidents on Saturday, but to be expected during this learning curve. Saturday night, I did as my book instructed and put him in pants for a bit. That was nerve wracking! I reminded myself no less than seven times that everything can be washed. He worse his outfit for about 20 minutes and had no issues. Yay!

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Beyond: I write this update now from Day Five. We haven’t had any pee accidents since Day Two and still learning the other thing. Improving though! Per the book, I should have taken Major on an outing by now but haven’t gotten the gumption. I think tomorrow we will bundle up and play outside for 15 minutes, then run a quick errand in the car Wednesday or Thursday. I hope to have Major back in pants full time by next weekend. How can I keep him pants free for 10 days? Well, he is sitting out preschool this week. He goes four hours per week, and at two…he can miss it. I believe that sending him this week will derail his progress a bit, since he hasn’t gone outside the house yet or told anyone but family he has to go. Whatever it takes!

I am very glad that we went with this book and quarantined ourselves to potty train this week. Brandi, the author, was right in that Major was ready. He was never (at least not at 2.5) going to tell me he wanted to use the potty. I’m very happy to know that we have purchased our last box of diapers, but it’s a little sad! This is a big step in Major’s young life. Aw, now I’m feeling sentimental.

How did you potty train your child, or how do you plan to?

 

 

2016 Moments

I think it was 2015 when a website called 2016bestnine.com was born. That’s the first time I heard of it, anyway! What a cool idea, too. You enter your Instagram handle and it shows you the top nine posts of the year!

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Because I think this is so fun, I’d like to share with you my top Insta posts of 2016. I thought it was rather interesting that they are all from this fall. I’m not sure why – exciting time in my life I suppose?

The first picture is of Drew and I while attending the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. On our final afternoon we took some time to hang out by the pool. As you can see, we used the time to snap a selfie of our cystic fibrosis tattoos we got for Major shortly after his diagnosis. Taking this picture led to a scientist walking up to us to ask about our connection to CF. It turns out that he is from Iowa and runs a lab in Tennessee that does CF research. You never know where you will meet someone that touches you or vice versa. I like to think that giving him a connection to our son can help him stay motivated – anytime a researcher can hear a real story is a win in my book.

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The second picture is a random selfie I took in the car on the way to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. What a fun night! It’s actually funny seeing the other pictures from the evening and just how quickly one’s hair falls flat in Iowa summers.

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Number three was from Christmas Eve. Major received the cutest robe from his Mimi and Pop, my aunt and uncle. He wore it around all night and I couldn’t stop hugging him! It is so snuggly.

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The fourth picture is Drew and Major at Christmas Eve Eve EVE service at our church. Major took the responsibility of holding his candle (with Dad’s hep) very seriously. I am glad I captured this sweet moment between the two of them. Drew is such an attentive Dad and helps Major do big boy stuff like this all the time. I love it.

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Number five – the first of the hospital pictures. This is the day that Major was discharged from the hospital for the first time. He was re-admitted 36 hours later for complications with his PICC line. But we will get back to that in a moment. I think he was staring at another kiddo in this picture!

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The sixth picture is a random day that we were doing Major’s vest treatment. I don’t remember what I posted as the caption, but I do know that anytime I sit with him and watch him do treatment, I feel inspired by him.

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Number seven is from the 14th annual Wine Opener in Des Moines. Drew and I were the chairs of this year’s event. I love an opportunity to get fancy and have a night on the town. I also love an opportunity to get our people together and fundraise like crazy to cure my son of cystic fibrosis. This was a really fun night.

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Number eight, the second hospital exit. And the final one. We were so happy in this picture and I felt very peaceful. Major left with no PICC line and in great spirits. What a trooper he is. I noticed that in this picture, Major looks even better than he did after the first discharge. He was truly improving, finally!

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Lastly, number nine. This is Major and me, goofing off in bed. We took a million selfies that afternoon. He is really working on his giant open mouth smile. The bigger the better. I love doing silly things with him, and this was one of those really fun times.

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2016 wasn’t a bad year. I keep hearing so much about how 2016 needs to end, and I do recognize that it has been a bad year for some. However, I can think of so many more good things over bad things that have occurred in the past twelve months. Seeing some of these moments put together reminds me of that.

Cheers to 2016, and we are ready for you 2017.