Thursday, July 29, 2010


I love three-year-old babble.

The boys have their treasured things, things that are most coveted and change with the mood of the day. But they love carrying their chosen items around, and they are called their "stuff-is". It all started when we were getting ready to move onto the next thing, and I'd ask, "Do you know where your stuff is?"

So now, their small collection of trains and cars that they carry with them are their "stuff-is". These things are fiercely protected when they have to put them down to go potty or to time-out. With this many kids, they have to fight for what they want.

This morning, a still-sleepy Grant came out of his room and settled on the couch, sleepies still creating a fog around his mind, and his hair tousled in a most adorable way. I met him on the couch to cuddle. I settled in one one end, he on another. I looked at him, and he smiled at me in his sleepy, soft, innocent way.

"Hey, buddy," I said, "do you want to come cuddle me?" He rubbed his eye with his fist, nodded sleepily and with a smile, crawled into my lap. I noticed a couple of trains beneath him, and Ben was on his way over with an eye on them, so trying to avoid the inevitable fight I reminded him, "Grant, don't forget your stuff-is."

My sweet boy looked up at me from his snuggle spot in my lap. "Mommy, you're my stuff-is," he responded, and snuggled deeper.

Oh, the things that make your heart melt and bring tears to your joyful eyes.

This is why it's all worth it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Potty Training Progress Report

Holy freakshow, Batman.

I went into yesterday feeling pretty confident about our progress. At the end of yesterday's post, I mentioned that Ben had peed, and them tried to sit in Emma's lap.

It all went downhill from there.

Yesterday was one of those days where everything that could get covered in pee, did. It was bad.

At one point yesterday, Grant, without any prompting from me, 'felt the urge' and went into the bathroom to do his business. This is a good thing, and a very important step in the right direction. However, the good part about that was quickly negated when he simply stood in the middle of the bathroom floor with his undies on, and peed and pooped. Then, since he was done, he walked out of the bathroom, still wearing his poop-filled undies and dripping pee down his legs. He went into the living room, where I found him playing tracks and trains with his siblings, a trail of piles and puddles from him to the bathroom.


They are supposed to hate the feeling of sitting in poop and that's how the whole 'training thing' gets done. Of course, my kids defy the odds.

I did make some progress on organizing the boys' room yesterday, cleaning our drawers of stuff that is too small and stuff that can be put away till fall. I know, it's kinda late to be pulling the cooler-weather stuff out, but our weather has been so crazy here lately I haven't dared do it earlier. Anywhoo, I got a lot of it done, and left the box on top of the boys' dresser during nap time.

Big mistake.

They took it off the dresser, and dumped it. They strew the nicely folded clothes all over the room, and then peed on them.

I did not know this was happening, as I was shampooing the carpets because of Grant's morning poop-fest.

So not only did I not get anything done, I created more loads of laundry for myself.


The boys never napped yesterday. Drew fell asleep in my arms before lunch, and slept for about forty minutes, part of which was on the couch as I was cleaning up yet another puddle of pee. He did not nap again at naptime, leaving a room filled with three screaming boys, two of whom were destroying everything possible.

And then, you know, peeing on it.

Today is going to be better. For one thing, it cannot get worse. For another, my wonderful brother-in-law Dan has offered to take the kids for a while this morning so that Holly and I can go out and do something, anything, without kids to save me from a life of padded walls and anti-psychotic medications.

Sigh of relief.

I am tired, and frustrated, and ready to have this done. I am so stinking mad about this whole thing, I am going to get them potty trained if it kills me.

I just hope it doesn't drive me over the edge of insanity first.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tips and Tricks, Potty Training Twins, Take seventy-five

If you have a very successful day on Monday, with each child only having one small accident, you will feel like a million bucks and be ready and waiting Tuesday morning to continue your quest to save fifty-six thousand dollars a month on pull-ups.

You will expect your children to feel the same way, and wake up ready to continue to fill their sticker charts and feel good about their accomplishments.

You would be wrong.

Because there is a good chance that your children will wake up on Tuesday, thinking that potty training was Monday's fun thing to do, and be ready to move on to something else.

They might refuse to go potty.

They might sneak pull-ups on instead of undies when you are not looking.

They might have screaming fits where they throw themselves on the floor in distress at even the thought of sitting on the potty again.

You might need to take a day off and re-group.

Well, you might not need to take a day off and re-group, but if you are PMSing and cranky, it might be in the best interest of all involved to take a day off and drink re-group.

It is a good idea to come up with a game plan for Wednesday, and sneak into their room while they are sleeping and hide every pull-up. Then start again Wednesday, refreshed, less PMS-ey, and ready to go.

Don't give them a choice. Don't fight with them, just tell 'em that this is the way it's gonna be, and go for it.

And when they cry, saying "babies go potty in diapers, are you a baby?" will work on one of them, but not both. One might want to be a baby, so be prepared with the follow up, "well, you can be a baby if you want to. Babies take naps right now, so let's go for a nap, OK? Well, either you are a baby or you're not, so take a nap or go potty. It's your choice." It might work. I'm just sayin'.

If you feel especially insane, you might even take the potty training twins out running errands for three hours with you in undies.

Well, take them with you, and take them in undies. Not take them with you in undies. I mean, I wore shorts.


I packed four beach towels, five garbage sacks, fifteen extra pairs of undies (for the boys, not for me), seven pairs of shorts, a pack of baby wipes and a costco-sized pack of sanitizing wipes. Oh, and of course, the potty that stays in the van.

I definitely recommend putting a garbage bag in their car seat, just in case. Your drive will be a lot less stressful that way.

Hey, while you're already insane, go through the car wash to see of they really can hold it. It's a good test.

And then scream like a banshee when they stay dry. Watch their faces when you scream like a banshee in excitement. It's priceless.

Yes, they completed all three hours of errands, and stayed dry the whole time. However, upon two minutes of returning home, Grant peed on his foot.

Baby steps. And it wasn't in the van, so I'm good.


Back to potty training tips.

You might notice the boys' room start to smell a bit... off.

If you are like me and don't have much of a sense of smell, it might take you a while to discover that no, it's not just due to the fact that it's summer and it's hot, but yes, there is a corner where the boys have been peeing.

Yup, the boys are peeing in the corner of their bedroom.

I know Holly's busting a gut right now.

Hardwood floors are great for cleaning up pee, except when that pee has been sitting there a while. Then it really stinks.

Haha, get it? Stinks. A little potty humor for ya. I know, no one else is laughing at that one, but I'm a-giggling over here.

Again, anywhoo.

The thought will cross your mind that several times, the boys have had accidents in their room and gotten their undies wet, but you never found the puddle. Then you will realize that they have been peeing in a corner without getting un-dressed first.

This might make you really question the intelligence level of these children.

You might decide not to think about it. It's easier that way.

If you have a Holly, she might take pity on you and bring you a ton of new stickers for the boys' sticker charts, and she might even bring you a new Scentsy to make your house smell a bit less like pee.

If you don't have a Holly, you might want to get one. She is a lifesaver. I don't know how to tell you to go get one, mine showed up when I got married and thankfully has been around ever since.

I love her. And, I love my new Citrus Sun Tea Scentsy. Do you know Scentsy? If not, go here and see what all the fabulousness is about.

Each boy had one accident yesterday. If they go a day without accidents, the get a sticker in the special spot on their sticker chart. Seven dry days in a row gets them a fancy dinner with mommy.

Grant wants the Nuthouse. Ben wants McDonalds.

Ya know, cuz it's so fancy.

(OK, I was about to wrap this post up, feeling pretty darn good about the progress we have going on here. But then Ben tried to sit on Emma's lap, and Emma screamed, "He's wet!" So not only did Ben pee, but he ignored it and sat on his sister. Sigh.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Potty Training Twins, Take Sixty-Seven

Once again, I am doing the full-bore potty training thing. I know, I keep saying that I am doing it and never looking back, but every time I say that, circumstances arise that stop the whole thing. Like Grant going to the hospital. Or me going insane and running out of carpet cleaner. Or cleaning up the third puddle of pee in fourteen seconds and seeing a boy put on a pull up instead of undies and deciding not to say anything, since I am also seeing two more puddles that I haven't had a chance to get to yet, and needing things to be contained for a bit.


The fact is, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of my three and a half year olds not being potty trained, I'm tired of potty training, I'm tired of knowing that the only thing holding them back is me and my inconsistent approach. No, I'm not being hard on myself, I don't think there's much different I could have done at this point, but it's true.

And I know the boys are actually, truly ready this time.

And I'm sick of buying diapers and pull ups.

I can think of sooooo many other things I'd rather spend $120 a month on.

Do you know you can buy a new car for $120 a month right now? Or we could put the boys in pre-school. Or I could buy a new coat. Or more groceries. Yeah, probably more groceries.

So we are going for it again today. I've been setting the timer, we've been consistent, and we've only had one accident so far. We have new sticker charts that I made this morning, since after almost two years of bribing the boys with candy, the "YIPPEE!" factor is gone with that one.

I'm ready. I'm prepared.

Oh, but I'm out of juice. And juice is important to get them to drink lots, and then pee lots, and then learn faster.

I guess you get lazy/forgetful on your sixty-seventh attempt at potty training.

I thawed some Otter Pops to dilute with water for juice to encourage them to drink today.

Hey, at least I'm resourceful.


So it's now after lunch, and I haven't finished this blog since, well, I've been busy. You know, potty training. We've still only had one small accident today. Ben has successfully peed on the potty seven times and Grant four. Ben's success has caused me to have to re-think my chart, since there were only six boxes on the chart for each day. I don't know why I thought six was enough, but that number of squares made the chart look pretty.

Once again, I know, I'm crazy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I HATE that Drew got sick and threw up Monday.


I LOVE that it didn't seem to bother him at all once his puke-fest was over.

I HATE that puking: round two took place in the car. On the freeway. Two miles before the first available pull-off spot.

I also HATE that by the time we pulled over, he was so covered that all I could do was clean him up a little and just leave him there till we got home.

I LOVE that the kids were so excited to go watch Daddy's softball game.

I HATED telling them that we had to turn around and go home, because of head-to-toe puke-covered baby Drew.

I LOVED that they wanted to pray for him as we drove home.

I really LOVED listening to each one pray for their little brother. Ben, with his, "Dear Jesus' name, Amen." Grant's hands clasped so tightly, eyes shut, and whole face squeezed tight while he prayed quietly, head lifted up, desperately petitioning God to make his brother better. Emma's fussing over her charge, offering him a wipe, and patting his hand, giving words of encouragement and love.

I HATED the fact that we had to stop for gas on the way home, with poor puke-covered Drew still strapped into his puke-covered seat while I filled the van. And then, while I was pumping gas, he puked some more.

Which I HATED.

And then he was fine. Which I LOVED.

Once we got home, I HATED cleaning him up, trying to find the best way to get him out of the van with as little flying debris as possible. Oh, and I also HATE cleaning puke off the seat under the car seat. Especially since I just did that on Thursday.

I LOVED the fact that once clean, he wanted to snuggle. I LOVE snuggling my baby boy.

I LOVED having movie night with the older kids after Drew went to bed, in order to make up for the fact that we didn't go to the game.

What can I say. I LOVE microwave popcorn.

I LOVED that Drew appeared fine yesterday, with not even a belch in sight.

I HATED that he puked all over myself and my bed again this morning. It seems to be milk that is causing it. I don't know why.

LOVED the fact that he's been fine since, but haven't tempted it and have had him off milk all day.

I will LOVE the feeling of crawling into nice, clean sheets tonight. And I will LOVE when the puke-fest is over.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Things Heard Around Here By Ten-Thirty This Morning

Emma: "Mom, Grant and me, well, we were getting the laundry out of the dryer like you asked, and we broke the hangy-down thingy on the laundry basket."

Me: "You did? Wait, what hangy-down thingy on the laundry basket?"

Emma: "Well, actually, it was the hangy-down thingy on the dryer."

Me: (walked into laundry room) "Babe, that's the dryer door. And it didn't used to hangy-down like that. I have told you never to climb on the drawer of the dryer, haven't I?"

Emma: "Yeah, but I forgot."


(I was successful in popping the dryer door back on the hinges. However, it is really unstable and cannot withstand any more abuse, or I fear it will retire itself from it's relentless pursuit to provide us with clean, dry clothes several times a day. And that would be bad.)


Grant: "Mommy, the swing set is broken."

Emma: "Yeah, Mom, the big long pole on he swing set is all wiggly and broken."

Me: (still holding the screwdriver I used to fix the dryer) "You have got to be kidding me. Right? Is this a joke?"

Emma: "Come see, Mom." (then she went over to the swing set to show me that one of the middle support bars was above a low spot in the yard and just swung freely.)

Me: "Baby, that's not broken, there just isn't any dirt under it. Daddy will move it when he gets home, but I'm not moving the swing set myself, that's daddy's job. If you want to swing, put some dirt under there so it doesn't wiggle like that, OK?"


Me: "Holy dirtballs, batman! No way, guys you are not coming into the house like that. You are all covered with dirt. What was going on?" (Then I suddenly remembered my request that the kids fill a hole with dirt, and chided myself that it did not cross my mind that they would then fill the hole as well as each other's hair, clothing, and ears with dirt as well. Oh well, at least they worked together, right?)


Me: "Hey! Who gave Drew a movie?!? Drew, you do NOT pull the tape out like that! No, Drew, give it to me now!"

(And yes, we still have VHS movies around here. And that one was actually new to us, and hadn't been watched yet. Sorry, Muppet Movie, but you have been attacked and mutilated by the ever-vicious Baby Drew, Destroyer of All Things Fun or Useful.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In God Is Our Trust

I found this article while web surfing a while ago, and I loved it. Perfect as we celebrate the birthday of our country. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

All Four Stanzas

By Isaac Asimov

Introductory Note. Unless you're already well acquainted with our "national anthem," this interesting piece by the late Isaac Asimov will be an eye-opener. It was for me. It's especially appropriate at a time when there is much talk of tossing out this difficult-to-sing and difficult-to-comprehend old song in favor of something that better suits Ray Charles' voice. You'll understand the song much better after you read Mr. Asimov's explanation.--Hardly Waite, Gazette Senior Editor.

I have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.

The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.

I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas.

This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.

"That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."

I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.

Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.

More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.

So now let me tell you how it came to be written.

In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.

At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message "We have met the enemy and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.

Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.

The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.

On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.

As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.

As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"

After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" --a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.

Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
W hat so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

"The towering steep" is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.

In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.

During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.

And don't let them ever take it away.

--Isaac Asimov, March 1991

Happy birthday, America.