As of two and a half weeks ago, excepting a handful of accidents and sleep time, Clara (19 months old) has been completely dry.
We’ve been doing Elimination Communication or Early Potty Training with Clara since she was about 6 or 8 months old. I’d been initially skeptical, but had met and heard about people who’d had much success. Clara also seemed very receptive when we first started (and had never been keen on having a wet diaper). And since we were using cloth, the benefit of changing less diapers was highly appealing. So we went for it.
The basic principle is that infants have the instinct to not soil themselves from birth. Eventually, they override this instinct and learn to go in their diaper. The idea behind E.C. or early potty training is to not override this instinct, to instead encourage it, and to teach your child what you ultimately want to teach them: to go in the toilet.
We took a halfway approach. We definitely took Clara to the toilet and encouraged her to go, but she still spent all of her time in diapers. We would often forget or just not bother, depending on the circumstances. There have been brief periods over the past several months where I’ve put Clara in training pants and tried to get her going on the potty more consistently, but it’s always been halfhearted.
Over the past few weeks, though, I’d become increasingly convinced that Clara was in fact trained, I just had yet to put in the necessary effort to take her often enough.
There were several factors that prompted the decision to finally go hardcore the week before Christmas.
- With Christmas vacation coming up and the inevitable travel, I thought that Clara being trained would be far easier than trying to manage her cloth diapers in a house not our own.
- I was so sick of changing poopy diapers. So, so sick.
- Clara had a rash that kept almost healing and then becoming exacerbated in a vicious cycle that seemed to last for months. It was almost certainly much less than that, but I knew that dryness would be the ultimate cure.
- I was finally ready to slavishly watch the clock and risk the potential accidents.
And so I headed to one of the only baby shops in town that carried underwear small enough for her tiny frame and began.
The first day saw two training pants, three pairs of underwear and one pair of pants wetted.
But the day after saw only one pair of underwear wetted (though we had her in a diaper all morning).
The next day, she was dry from when she woke up until the next morning. We even ran a quick errand with her in underwear.
The next day, we made it through a morning playgroup without any accidents.
And everyday since has been a running tally, like the “n days since” signs you see parodied in TV shows and about the internet.
There was one day with two accidents, the first day Mike was home with Clara. The accidents he experienced were similar to the ones I experienced on our first day: being aware, but not yet knowing what signalled a need outside of the by-the-clock potty schedule. The third accident was when we left her with others without reminding them to take her. The next two were due to Christmas morning excitement, and the last because she was too busy and excited playing with a friend she hadn’t seen in awhile to have the patience for it.
But outside of that, Clara has been “trained” for 15 days. She even made it through all of our holiday travel.
As I said above, I’m almost certain she’s been trained for a lot longer. We’ve just needed to establish the trust back and forth: that she’ll hold it until she’s on the potty, and that we’ll take her often enough that she won’t have to hold it for very long.Filed under: Clara, Reflections | 5 Comments »
This past weekend*, I decided to embark on the ambitious project known in the Pinterest world as once-a-month cooking. The principle is that you prepare 20 to 30 meals all at once, throw them into the freezer and then bring them out over the course of the next month or two. It was exhausting, but in retrospect, no more so than preparing food for a party or other special occasion. And we now have a freezer full of crockpot meals. Yum!
The first thing I did was to go through several lists of freezable recipes I’d collected. I identified the ones that seemed most appealing and assembled them together. Then I went through and made up a shopping list of everything I would need for each of the recipes, doubling some of them. C and I went to our local discount grocery store and filled up our cart. By a happy coincidence, many of the items we were buying were on sale. The chicken especially, a significant ingredient in the recipes I selected, was 50% off.
But as I was filling the cart, I began to worry. One of the women who had posted her experience online indicated that her grocery bill was $130. I looked in my cart and shook as we approached the checkout line. There was no way, with the amount of food in my cart, that it could be less than $200. What if it was a flop? What if I gave up or chickened out? That’s an awfully high price tag for an experiment… But those thoughts were quickly pushed from my head as I began working double time to get everything onto the conveyor belt. The cashier was working hard as well, and then I moved to the other end of the belt to start bagging everything. And then she finished and I looked at the screen with trepidation.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d even picked up a handful of things we were running short on around the house. Less than $120 for all of this:
We had our first meal this evening and it was delicious. Seriously looking forward to the rest.
I used these recipes:
- Crockpot BBQ Chicken
- Honey Sesame Chicken (doubled)
- Savory Pepper Steak
- Sweet Potato Chili (doubled)
- Carrot & Ginger Soup (doubled)
- Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches
- Rosemary Mashed Potatoes & Yams (doubled)
If you’d like a copy of my instructions including recipes, shopping lists, and preparation and serving directions, leave a comment (be sure to fill out the email address field) and I’ll send it to you.
*I chopped half of the veggies Friday evening, chopped the rest on Saturday morning as well as adding many of the remaining ingredients to most of the meals. With M’s help, I finished the Rosemary Mashed Potatoes on Saturday as well, and then I collapsed on the couch. We made (and enjoyed) half of the Carrot Ginger Soup on Sunday, and M helped me finish the Savory Pepper Steak on Monday evening. The other half of the Carrot Ginger Soup I plan to make and freeze tomorrow.
Phew!Filed under: Food and Recipes, Projects | 3 Comments »
The gas gauge flickered.
I’ve seen the final bar on our car’s gas gauge blink, but always at a slow, measured pace. This was the first time I’d seen the quick flutter of it, indicating how near to empty the tank was.
“Why, oh, why did I choose the only route home that doesn’t have gas stations on every corner?”
Clara had no comment to offer.
I prayed a little prayer, thanked God that we’d topped up my cellphone the day before (my minutes and texts had been completely drained), and mentally ran through my route, trying to remember if there were any gas stations nearby, and if so, where.
Finally, I saw one. I pulled around the corner and into the station. Was it my imagination or was the acceleration response time a little sluggish? Either way, I rolled up to the gas bar, thankful that we made it in time.
I hopped out of the car and began filling up. I usually smile and make faces at Clara, but I couldn’t quite see over the boxes we had piled up in the car. She was happy looking around her, so I looked around me, too. As I did, I noticed a woman crossing into the gas station area. I noticed her because she was bent over and walking very gingerly. And then I realized that I recognized her. The last time I’d encountered her, she was facing hard times. She was having trouble making ends meet and her son was sick at home. I’d offered her a bag of the simplest groceries and she was crying as she made her way home.
I felt compassion now as I saw her walking, but I mentally scanned my wallet and was grateful when I confirmed that it was empty. Not even coins greater in value than pennies and nickels. Before you accuse me of being coldhearted, I’ve really been struggling with what to do when someone asks for financial assistance when you know nothing about them. I don’t want to perpetuate any negative cycles… but I also don’t want to leave someone empty handed when they are clearly in distress. And I’ll be honest: it’s a lot of work, mentally, emotionally and physically, going out of your way to buy food or a gift card for someone. I was relieved in the knowledge that I had no cash (so I wouldn’t need to wrestle with that), and there were no grocery stores (or stores of any kind) around, so I wouldn’t need to go out of my way for that.
When the woman approached and asked for help, I spoke out of true feeling when I said that I wished I could help, but I had no cash.
She reassured me today, as she had many months ago, that she was neither drunk nor crazy, just in desperate need. She was unemployed and in need of food. I said again that I had no cash, opened my wallet to demonstrate… and she told me that there was an ABM inside the gas station convenience store.
I fell silent.
“There is?” I asked, making a miserable attempt to buy more time.
“Yes, there is,” she said, and mentioned again how hard it was to ask for help, but she hoped there was something I could do.
Suddenly, I had to ‘put my money where my mouth is’. I’d said that I wished I could help, and it was fully true when there was no way for me to. Now that there was a way, how true was that desire?
I’ve wrestled with myself and God about this many times, and I haven’t come to a conclusion. But I knew what to do right then.
I locked Clara in and went into the store. I took out some cash from the machine and brought it back.
“I don’t know you,” I said, “so that’s the only reason I’m saying this: but I’m trusting you’ll use this to get food.”
And I handed her the money.
“Thank you, thank you so much,” she said, and then looked down at what I’d placed in her hands. It wasn’t much. In hindsight I probably could have given more, but it was far more than she was expecting. She gasped and hugged me.
“I am using this to buy food,” she said. “I’m going over to the grocery store right now.”
And then she surprised me.
“You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling a strange swell of pride.
“Yes, I thought so,” she said. “Me too. In fact, that was the only reason I asked you to go in to the machine. I didn’t ask anyone else to do that.”
She said thank you again and we parted ways. She went to the payphone to call a cab or a friend or her son, and I got back in my car to think.
Clara was exceptionally quiet on our drive home. It’s impossible that she could have known what just transpired, but it left me room to think.
Somehow the woman knew I was a Christian. I was proud because I’d represented my faith well. But my heart sank a little. How many times have I not honoured my faith, preferring what is safe and comfortable?
I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. The whole way home I had to repeat to myself, “I’m feeling vulnerable and that’s okay. I’m grateful for that opportunity and that God helped me use it well.”
You realize how vulnerable a person has to be to ask for help, but you don’t realize how vulnerable it can be to respond to that request. It’s easier and safer not to.Filed under: Reflections | Leave a comment »
This is a two-minute video of Clara eating with a spoon. It’s adorable, but don’t be deceived! The video’s a little washed out so you can’t see the yogurt that’s spilled all down the front of her bib. And I cut it off before she started getting her hands in on the action. ;)
Filed under: Clara, Video | 3 Comments »
We’re doing a CSA pick-up this summer in large part due to the generosity of Mike’s parents. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, wherein you pitch in a certain amount toward the operating costs of a local farm (or similar), and in return, you get a share of the crops that are harvested. It’s beneficial for the “investor” (you get to eat yummy, local food all summer), and it’s beneficial for the farmer (since you are sharing in the risk as well as the benefit, local farmers, small ones especially, can continue operating and providing this yummy food).
C and I came home from the pick-up today loaded down with tomatoes. Regular sized tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow. They probably came off of the fields within the past few days, potentially even this very morning. Mike and I happily chomped down on cherry tomatoes and quickly affirmed our decision to make dinner out of some of the fresh things we’d received.
And so, modifying one of my favourite recipes, we were able to enjoy the delicious flavours of fresh bounty.
Fresh-off-the-Farm Tomato Penne
- Chicken (around a breast per person; the more people you have, the easier it is to get away with using less)
- Dried penne (about 3/4 of a cup per person– we use just over two and a quarter and have leftovers for M’s lunch)
- 1-2 cups of tomatoes (cherry or cut up: any variety will work, but pick ones that are as fresh as you can get them!)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2+ cloves of garlic, minced
- olive oil
- basil (fresh, chopped if you would like; we used dried)
- oregano (fresh, chopped if you would like; we used dried)
1. Set the water to boil; cook the pasta to al dente (or softer, if you’d like).
2. Saute the chicken in a large saucepan with oil and a few sprinkles of basil and oregano. When finished, remove from pan to a plate.
3. Add more oil to the pan and fry up the onions and garlic. The softer the better for the onions. Add more basil and oregano.
4. When the onions are nicely cooked, add the cooked chicken and pasta, add additional oil if needed, sprinkle on more basil and oregano, and season with salt to taste.
5. Wait until the dish is essentially ready to eat, then add in the tomatoes and stir them around. Sprinkle on a little more salt, and leave the tomatoes on just long enough to heat them.
6. Remove from heat, serve immediately and enjoy!Filed under: Food and Recipes | Leave a comment »