Category Archives: triumphs


For the past year (and then some) people have been assuring us that RR “would not go to college wearing diapers.”  I don’t think we believed them.  I’m sure we didn’t.  In fact, we started making a list of possible acceptable careers that wouldn’t mind if she wore diapers.  At the top of that list?  Long-distance trucking and hauling.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we broke her poor little spirit.  That’s what it took.  Saturday morning, we were expecting friends to visit over the long weekend (with their twin five-year-old boys) and we enlisted them (unbeknownst to them) to help us, help RR, start to use the toilet.

We brought Henry out to the living room.  We bought a bag of dum-dum lollipops.  A bag of gummy bears.  Withdrew one million dollars in cash, and a shipped in a selection of magical real-life rainbow unicorns.  OK, kidding on that last one.  We set the timer, and when it went off, she sat on the potty.  After the first ten or so times, she stopped angrily protesting.

Saturday afternoon, we convinced her to go WITHOUT underpants in the back yard.  J, one of the visiting twins (who loves to be naked), joined in solidarity.  And there they were – sitting on the brick garden wall, pants-less.  RR looked up at me at some point with the saddest and most defeated face.  “Why are you doing this to me, Mama?” it said.

For the entire weekend, aside from nap-time, she was shadowed by someone.  One of us, one of the other two parents, and J (who was really invested in helping RR learn how to use the potty).  R, the other twin, was stoked to be left alone.

RR, who LOVES her independent play… loves disappearing into her room, into the back yard, in the sandbox alone, in a corner, behind a door… having constant company nearly 60 hours straight BROKE. HER. DOWN.

Sunday morning, we all went on a lovely hike, where RR soiled her panties four times in, oh, maybe two hours.  Not once did she say anything, or even stop her stride, to pee.  Just dry one second, wet the next.  But we had 24 hours under our belt.  We weren’t stopping.  Heck, we were actually OUT of diapers.  It wasn’t even a lie!

We carried on like this until mid-morning on Monday, Memorial Day.  I ran out to the store to get breakfast, and when I came home found everyone having lollipops.  The boys and RR were all celebrating her three drops of pee in the potty.  Everyone was so excited.  To quote RR, “I knew I could do it!”

The celebration was short, though, and “Team Potty” (us, visiting parents, twins) disbanded and the other half of our team headed homeward.  About an hour later, during one of the timed sitting sessions, lo and behold, the kid filled up the whole potty with pee.  We just about went ballistic with happiness.  After all, this was the first time she peed any significant quantity since August?  July?  Of 2013.

We sent her to school on Tuesday in panties, and by 3pm, she had soiled very many pairs.  4?  5?  My wife picked her up at 3pm and they went home to continue practicing.

By this time, we had won the power struggle, and it was becoming more of teaching her to learn her body and it’s cues and feelings, and less about trying to pin her flailing, crying, angry self on the toilet.  From 3pm until 8am FRIDAY morning, we practiced.  Well, RR practiced.  And my wife gained some grey hairs.  I love that woman.  She took all day Wednesday and Thursday off of work, armed with lollipops, the movie “Frozen,” a timer that made an elephant sound when it went off, and RR started uttering sentences like, “Oh! I have to pee!”  AND THEN SHE WOULD PEE IN THE POTTY!

underpantsOne night that week when WE COULD SMELL SUCCESS, I drove to Wal-Mart and bought so many underpants.

That Friday, we sent her back to school.  Fingers crossed.  Around lunchtime, we received an email stating that she had peed in the school toilet TWICE and was in the same underpants from that morning.  RR’s practice.  My wife’s blood, sweat, and tears.  It had all paid off.

Gradually, we moved Henry into the bathroom (he was in the living room).  Then we removed him all-together and replaced him with a potty seat cover and a stool.

So now it’s been two weeks, and we’re going on about one accident per day, which is phenomenal.  It usually happens when she’s distracted, or doesn’t wanna give up her spot on the school swing (her favorite activity ever).  But she sits whenever we ask her to (before leaving, when we get home, etc.) and takes initiative to go when she is at school.

Poop, apparently, is, like, a whole different thing.  She’s successfully managed it at school once, but all other times (at school, at home, at Granny’s) we’ve had serious underpants clean-up duty.  One pair of panties outright got thrown away.  The other pair made it into the wash, but only after we hosed them down (AND HER, TOO) outside with the garden hose.  True story.

As it turns out, she would rather use the toilet than have her independent time taken away.  It seems like she turned the corner in toileting just so that we would leave her the fuck alone.  Whatever works, kid.

And now the albatross is gone.  The lingering sensation of being a failure parent.  Of having the only kid in diapers at school.  OF EVER BUYING DIAPERS AGAIN.  (Aside from those pesky nighttime ones…)  The shame of her diaper sticking out from under her summer dresses.  All gone.

RR and my wife deserve the credit, really.  They were amazing rock star toileting superhumans.  Hallelujah for them both.

Happy Birthday!

While my letter to RR for her first birthday is still in draft mode pending some edits, I figured I’d give a post-party update!

For the record, birthdays are serious business in our house.  Well, not THAT serious, but I’ve always loved my own birthday, mostly because it’s the day I get to talk to everyone I know and love.  Growing up, that mostly boiled down to talking to my dad first thing in the morning when he’d call me and sing happy birthday over the phone (my parents divorced when I was two).  He passed away when I was 11, so it’s been forever since he’s called, but I remember those mornings so fondly.  My wife has spent her life sharing her birthday with one of her sisters, and a day apart from her mother’s birthday, so we like to celebrate her birthday as if she doesn’t have to share it with anyone!

Yesterday morning, RR woke up around 7am after a rough night’s sleep, so she was groggy when I sang happy birthday to her in my gravely morning voice when I scooped her out of her crib.

We spent the day mostly in party preparation mode – cleaning, moving furniture to accommodate the potential 18 guests who were invited, and setting the table in true event planner mode, complete with layering tablecloths and using a crate in the middle to elevate the birthday cupcakes, and getting out the china platters usually only reserved for holiday turkeys.

At 11am, we headed out the door to RR’s photo shoot.  A local photographer put out a call for baby models from 9 months to 1 year old to model for a class she was teaching, and RR got the job.  So we put an adorable purple flower dress on RR and crossed our fingers that her fear of strangers would be eclipsed by her love to have her picture taken.  Thankfully, we gambled right, and we spent 20 minutes wandering around the photo site, sitting RR on the ground, propping her against brick walls, and making ridiculous faces and noises while 9 (!) photographers snapped billions of photographs.

The shoot took place in a public spot here in town, and the weirdest part was when complete strangers (not in the class) stopped to also take a picture of RR.  It was like being out with Britney.  Or maybe those folks thought she was a famous baby?  Totally bizarre.  Anyhow, she smiled a lot, in between sticking out her tongue and sticking her hand in her mouth.  We spent most of the shoot acting crazy to get her to smile, and racing to stop her from crawling into the pool of photographers.

Afterwards, we stopped to pick up some catered tea sandwiches and bags of ice, and headed home with enough time for my wife to make the-most-amazing-cupcake-icing-ever, and to put the finishing touches on the party fixins. I had pre-party panic, wondering if only two people would come, or if all 18 would show up.  If you guessed all 18 people showed up, you guessed right.  Honestly, I didn’t even think we invited 18 people, but I suppose we did.

We had a good mix of work folks and friends, as well as our neighbors, who got invited old-school-like, with hand-written invitations left on their doorstep.  At some point, we had 13 adults, and 5 kids: one guy turning 1 in two weeks, 2 guys who are 13 months old, a three year old little girl, and RR.  Thank goodness RR’s big birthday present from us, the Zany Zoo, kept all of the little ones occupied, in addition to the basket of percussion instruments we have out all of the time for banging and shaking.

The most overwhelming part of the whole shebang was the fact that every little one, with the exception of one, are our neighbors.  This was the first time that the three sets of us had hung out – usually, it’s reserved to drive-by waves and over the fence chit-chat.  I feel so fortunate to have RR grow up on a street with kids her age.  I looked over sometime during the party, to see them all playing and sharing and thought that we couldn’t be any luckier.

Everything went well – people devoured the fruit, cupcakes, lemonade, and beer.  Work folks mixed with neighbors, and everyone mingled well.  My wife and I have actually never thrown a party together before, so the fact that it was a success was such a relief.  We took pictures, but not nearly as many as you would think.  I think we all got caught up in the party itself – everyone singing happy birthday, blowing out the candles on the cupcakes (we asked everyone to blow out their own cupcake candle and make a wish for RR), opening wonderful presents, and having a good time.

Everyone eventually trickled out, and at 5pm, RR collapsed in her crib for a post-part nap while we cleaned up.

We finished out the evening by calling aunts and grandma’s to tell them about RR’s day, and RR’s best birthday present to US was a few instances of her taking 2-3 unassisted steps toward both me and my wife.  We ate a later dinner, and then all of us collapsed in bed.

The bottom line: More than 5 kids would have been too many, and more than 18 people, total, would have been way too many.  Don’t underestimate the amount of beer parents who live within walking distance will consume.  The kitchen sink full of ice makes a great place to store said beer (and always provide an obvious bottle opener and dish for bottle caps).  The Zany Zoo is badass.  Toys received as presents need to be opened and played with immediately.  Having a three year old on hand to help with cupcake duties and present handing-out duties is way underrated.

Happy Birthday, RR.  We’ll have another party when you’re 10.  Maybe.

The Paneras

Yesterday, I had my first extended outing with RR on my own.  Well, my mother was with us, too, but we might as well have been on our own, ifyouknowwhatImean.  (Yes, my mother.  Yes, she’s back.  But she’s only been here since Wednesday afternoon and is leaving tomorrow.  No, no one has killed anyone.  Yet.) What’s made the visit tolerable so far is the fact that my wife has been at work yesterday and today, making me the only person spending all day trying to let her comments and conversations roll off my back.  Seriously – I should only really subject myself to this sort of unique torture.  Well, me and RR – we did have a pep talk and fist bump beforehand, though.

Sometime yesterday morning, my mom said she wanted to take us out to lunch, and left it up to me to decide where to go.  Now, I don’t know if other parents of unpredictable screaming inconsolable infants do this, but we try to limit ourselves to eating places where we can a) we can walk up to the counter and order (thus taking out the wait-staff middleman) and b) sit at an outdoor table (where we can escape quickly, or at least the screaming can be muffled by outside background noise).  This has seemed to work pretty well so far, so I suggested the nearby Panera.  Or, as my mother calls it, The Paneras.

Around 12pm, RR woke up from her morning nap and I began the pre-house-leaving preparations.  My mom, sensing RR’s unpredictability (and the fact that she still screams whenever she holds her), gave us the optional out of not going if I didn’t want to… you know, if it was going to be stressful.  Me, sensing that there was no other lunch food in the house other than crackers,  pickles, and ice, insisted that we go.  I fed RR from 12pm-12:20pm and the clock started ticking from when she would want to eat again.

Now I don’t mind feeding RR in public.  We (finally) have a system that works that doesn’t involve feeding her a cold bottle (angry baby is angry!), but by the time it takes me to MacGyver a bottle in public (thanks, Dr. Brown, for making the most complicated bottles ever, even if she hardly ever spits up) RR usually has lost her patience.  Whereas my wife and I have a pretty smooth system down (proud members of the bottle-fixing pit crew), I wanted to avoid having to feed her with my mom in tow.  So tick tock!

I packed the diaper bag and we were on our way.  Triumph #1: RR didn’t fuss at all in the car, despite being awake.  We arrived at The Paneras, finally ordered our food (“Read me the sandwiches on the menu,” my mom says), and lifted RR’s car seat sun shield so that the ladies behind the counter could wave and coo.  Still alert, still not crying, and in fact, looking particularly adorable – triumph #2.  By the grace of God, there was an outdoor table available, complete with an umbrella.  They strolled over and got comfortable while I fetched our food and drinks.

My mom had situated RR’s stroller so that she was the only one who had access to her, but that quickly changed when RR decided to fuss.  (Shit – this lady again?  Mama, where’d you go?!)  I took charge, wheeled her over to me, and rocked her stroller with my foot as I started to eat.  She fell sound asleep – triumph #3.  We had a nice lunch (“Oooh look at all this fruit in this salad!” my mom says) and I tried not to engage in my mom’s game of CouldaShouldaWoulda, where she reminisces about all of the decisions she’s ever made.  Ever.  Made.

RR woke up, and we strolled out of the heat and into the CVS to pick up some prescriptions.  More ooh’s and ahh’s from some kids in the waiting area, and one mom who said she thought RR was having some gas.  Seriously – what?  Are you commenting on my daughter’s potential fictitious gas during the five minutes I’m waiting in line?  I digress, as that’s a whole other post.

It was hard not to run any other errands while we were out strolling, especially those errands involving ice cream, but I checked the clock and knew that our time out had expired.  We strolled towards the car and made it home in time to warm a bottle and feed RR before even a hint of a meltdown – triumph #4.  She then proceeded to sleep for four hours straight.  Apparently my mom can wear down and exhaust even the littlest of ears.

This is all to say, if there was one day, one time, one lunch that I needed RR to pretend that she is a child who can be out in public without incident, it was yesterday.  All we’ve heard since from my mom is how good she was during lunch.  She even called people.  Several people.  It made me look like a competent mother, and made RR look like a cooperative infant, both which are arguable depending on the day.  But to look like a good mom in front of my own mom?  Totally fucking badass.

Eaten By a Bear!

Dear RR,

Thank God you have your mother.  Otherwise, you would sit around most days while I make you do the Mexican hat dance, and the chicken dance over and over on my lap.  Really.  I can’t seem to remember any stories or songs from my childhood, and the ones I do remember, I don’t remember how they go well enough to make them compelling or long enough to make you fall asleep.  I’m the Cliff’s notes of a very select number of nursery rhymes.  Your mother, though, is the queen of telling children’s stories and singing songs – a mix of traditional ones, ones made up completely, and some hilarious mixes in between.  One of your favorite songs involves us making up different ways that you would be killed in a forest.  No, really.  Sorry in advance for all of the therapy you’ll need in the future.

It’s a learning experience for the both of us, really.  I get just as sleepy and content overhearing her tell you about the three little pigs.  It’s an overwhelming love to watch you fall asleep in her arms somewhere in between huffs and puffs and blowing the house down.  I can hold my own with a book in front of me, but there’s something incredibly impressive about watching your mama tell you stories at length from her own memory and imagination.  I’m not sure who is more lucky, you or me.


In and Out

I always scoffed at people who took their babies outside (like, to a store, outside) before they were a month old.  I can blame much of this on my mother, who is a firm, and very vocal, believer that you should wait at least a month before you take your baby to a public place.  Blah blah blah, germs.  I admit it, too, though.  Seeing a week-old baby being hauled around in a car seat in CVS would prompt thoughts of “Put that baby back in!!”  In, as in, in the womb… or in the house.  In nonetheless.  Anywhere but out.

Oh but then I saw the light.  Folks, I love a little television, but my brain starts to rot after so many home improvement or cooking shows.  I love you, HGTV, but it’s not you, it’s me.  I’d read a book, but… um, I don’t read.  I CAN read, I just choose not to.  People leave their house with their week-old baby to save themselves from the Food Network.  Duh.

We were one of those people on Monday, when we sent out for a jaunt to the local open-air shopping center, where we leisurely strolled up and down the shops, stopping in for lunch (eaten at a picnic table outside), as well as in a few stores.  RR slept the whole time, except for a handful of open-eyed moments.  No hollerin’, and no demands for lunch (although we had come prepared).  People peeped at her under the sun shade, and I realized that, much like my pregnant belly was public property, apparently my baby is, too.  The weather was cooler than it has been, and we strolled under the awning when it started to rain.  Overall, a much preferred way to spend a Monday, compared to being glazed over by television waves.

So, sorry folks, for spending all of these years judging you and your day-old babies when I’ve seen you out and about.  If you’re like us, you’re trying to get your baby to tolerate her car seat, which she hates, since you plan on leaving the house more frequently than never.  You’re also trying to resemble a contributing member of society, by… oh, putting on a bra, a t-shirt without holes, and shorts that don’t belong at the gym.  Fancy, right?  My bad, folks… my bad.