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Milestones (part two): Potty Training

Potty training is like sky diving. Or how I imagine sky diving would be…scary, intimidating, anxiety inducing. You watch other people do it and survive and you think “ok, I can do this” as you inch a little closer to the unavoidable edge. Then you just jump, fingers crossed you survive.

I dreaded potty training. It sounded miserable. Spending every waking moment watching her every move and anticipating her bodily functions? Using the word “potty” no less than a thousand times a day? I cringed. As my friends braved the trenches I tried to pick up tips from their experiences. I knew the general rule is to wait until the kids show signs of readiness. But what the heck does that mean? Leia wasn’t telling me when she would go, she didn’t wake up dry in the mornings. It was all so confusing. My main reason for procrastinating? I didn’t want to give up the convenience of diapers. I wasn’t ready to hear “mommy I have to pee!” then frantically drop everything and rush to the nearest bathroom.

My car broke over Thanksgiving. Knowing I would be home bound for several days, it seemed like the perfect time to face my fears. I didn’t follow a specific method, and tried to keep low expectations. I let Leia run around half naked and followed her around with a small plastic toilet all freaking day and night. There were lots of accidents. I was exhausted, and felt defeated. When she peed in the toilet for the first time I was beyond excited! I clapped and cheered and hugged her…I was so enthusiastic it scared Leia into tears. Days passed and eventually going in the potty clicked. She started having fewer and fewer accidents.

Just a normal day, chasing cats, naked.

Just a normal day, chasing cats, naked.

Nearly two months later I feel totally confident in saying my child is potty trained. No accidents in weeks. She can hold it if I tell her we need to wait to find a bathroom. I put her in pull ups for naps and bed, but they are consistently dry. The only time in the last month she woke up wet was the one time she didn’t wear a pull-up…figures. She’s been going by herself more often, especially if I’m busy in the kitchen or taking shower. Sometimes she announces her stuffed animals have to potty. She takes them to the bathroom, shuts the door, and all I hear is a flush before she comes out again. I’m sorry fragile planet for the water she’s wasting, it’s a temporary fascination.

New Years Eve, watching fireworks in a parking lots. I brought the potty with us just in case. Since then I've discovered she's pretty good at just squating on the side of the car if there isn't a potty nearby. My kid is awesome.

New Years Eve, watching fireworks in a parking lot. Good thing I brought the potty with us. However, I’ve since discovered she’s pretty good at just squatting next to the side of the car if there isn’t a potty nearby. My kid is awesome.

True story…it’s 11pm as I’m writing this (or it was yesterday when I was writing this…not when I published it) and she just woke up and came into the living room to tell me she had to pee. I went with her, then carried her back to bed. She fell back asleep right away. Who is a proud mom? This lady!

So we survived potty training. Stopping to find a bathroom when she needs to go isn’t as impossible as I feared. I love not using diapers. That said, it was definitely the hardest parenting task I’ve tackled so far. I realize potty training will seem like a piece of cake compared to the parenting challenges as she gets older, just let me have my moment! After the first few weeks it wasn’t as terrible as I expected. See? It’s exactly like skydiving. Once your feet hit the ground you feel like a bad ass and it wasn’t that scary.

Leia is two

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The picture on her birthday e-vite.

That amazing little girl turned two on July 31st. I’m geeky and get a kick out of us both being born on the 31st (one month and obviously many years apart). This year we celebrated at our pool, friends and family came to swim and eat really colorful cupcakes. It was a beautiful day, an affirmation of how much love and support is always around us. I would post pictures of the party, but since I was running around in a bathing suit I didn’t have my iphone handy. And yes, it’s a shame I consider my iphone my camera. So until I harass my friends ask around, two pre-party photos will have to do.

Helping me make cupcakes the day before her party.

My mom spent the night and worked really hard all day to make sure her party was perfect. She’s the best.

Celebrating on her actual birthday at Grammy’s house. Uncle Randy bought her a bike.

Whoever said the days are long and the years are short really nailed it. Most cliches about time going too fast really hits home these days. It’s such a blessing to watch this little person I nurture grow into herself. Everyday I love her more, everyday she gives my life more meaning.

Leia here are some things you might like to know when you’re curious about your childhood. I know they’re things I’ll enjoying reminiscing on when I stumble upon this years from now.

Being silly.

You surprise me everyday with new words, lots of them. I really have to watch what I say now because you repeat it right back the first time I say it. This week’s favorite phrase: “Not yours, mine.” I can’t help but giggle, I love your verbal assertion of self. You know a lot of colors and shapes (today you said your cracker was an oval). When asked how old you are, you excitedly say “two” but usually hold up anywhere from 1 to 4 fingers.

Swings at Balboa Park.

At the park with her friend Joanna.

When we’re in a crowd or around new people, you prefer to stay close and quietly survey the scene. When you feel comfortable you’re silly and full of laughs, you’re kind and gentle. At the park, you’re happiest on the swing or climbing through the ladders and tunnels with a friend or me close by. I guess you take after both parents, preferring a cozy group of familiar faces to a loud and busy crowd. Your comfort zone has increased exponentially in the last several months. I remember being shocked the first time you were just fine turning to me and waving bye, holding someone else’s hand to go exploring. Now those moments happen more often, knowing you can always come back to me when you need a home base. In public I’ve never had to worry about you running off, you’re great about holding my hand if I need to keep you close. I realize I’ve got it incredibly easy, thank you.

This is what naptime looks like. Leia has just fallen asleep. Daphne is almost always glued to my hip. Now is when I tiptoe quietly from the room to go catch up on Facebook or read a book.

After the cats climb into bed, I usually get one small corner, maybe some blanket if I’m lucky. Leia twists and turns all over the place when she sleeps. Sometimes she sits up in her sleep and flops back down with her head at the foot of the bed.

All that tossing and turning makes for awesome morning hair.

You’re still an early riser! Most days we are up and running between 6 and 7. I make breakfast while you watch cartoons, then I take a shower while you play in the bedroom. After we get dressed it’s off to whatever adventure we’ve got planned for the day. You like to nap for a few hours in the afternoon. Sometimes we go out again after naptime to run errands or go to the park. Other times we stay in and play at home until dinner. At night we usually read a few books and clean up around the house before it’s time for a bath. You love the tub, pretending to be a fish and make tsunamis, but you despise water on your face. This makes washing your hair tricky. You scream like the world is ending for about 5 seconds until I can wipe your face dry with a washcloth. One time I leaned into the tub and poured water on my face to show you it was ok. You thought it was funny, I just ended up wet. When you get out of the tub I always say “burrito time!” and wrap you tightly in a towel. Then I hold you next to me and we sing and make funny faces in the mirror. After pajamas are on you run into the bedroom and tell kitties “night night” before climbing into bed. I nurse you to sleep, and it’s one of the best parts of my day. I get to relax, reminded to live in the present while I watch you drift off to sleep.

I used to wait until you were napping to do the laundry or dishes, now I do them when you’re awake. I encourage you to help – it’s fun to watch you put my bras on your head or socks on the cats. I like to think I’m earning “good Mom” points by making you a part of the housework at an early age. My favorite is when you help me cook. You sit on the counter and you scoop things into measuring cups or pour them into a bowl. Today I let you crack an egg, you were pretty good, you smashed the whole thing yourself! It reminds me of helping my Grandma in the kitchen.

One of three times I’ve styled her hair in the last six months.

Your hair is getting so long! You like to pick out your own clips from the bathroom drawer. A few times I’ve put it in pigtails. I wish I could tell you I styled your hair for playdates or parties or even just for fun. It’s just not something I ever think about. Your hair gets brushed and the front is twisted up in a clip so it’s out of your eyes. Mama is low maintenance.

No photo of Leia playing with iPhone
because the iPhone is my camera.

I let you play with my (otterbox covered) iPhone enough that it gives me a little mom guilt. You unlock it on your own, or if it’s Grammy’s phone you had it to her and say “code” until she unlocks it. Then find your favorite games, lately it’s the one where you line up shapes to make pictures or flip over cards to match different objects. You scroll through the pictures and play videos – your favorite is when you were riding the carousel at Balboa Park with cousin Sarah.

We go to the Zoo and Seaworld a lot, probably once a week to each place. At Seaworld your favorite thing is the Sesame Street rides – Elmo’s flying fish and Abby’s spinning sea star. Maybe you’ll be a roller coaster lover like your mom. Then we usually go check out the sharks and the turtles. You love the sharks, especially pointing out their sharp teeth. At the Zoo we always stop to see the flamingos, the monkeys and the elephants. At home you ask for an “elle ride” and I crawl around with you on my back making elephants sounds.

Riding the bus at the zoo on her birthday.

Birthday lunch.

At home we color with chalk and paint on the patio, fill up the bird feeder with seed, water our plants. You like to pretend we’re going shopping and I pull a makeshift shopping cart around the patio before you insist we ride the “elle” (elevators and elephants share a name for now). Once inside the patio-closet-turned-elevator, you shut the door and pretend to press buttons on the wall until I say “ding” you open the door and we walk around the patio again…at least 27 times. You love your play kitchen, and use the hot pad to take food out of the oven, smart girl. We roll out playdoh and cut out cookies that you serve on your tea set. We pretend to go camping in the living room with your new tent, it has fire that lights up and makes crackling sounds. Then we use fishing poles to catch magnetic fish and grill them for dinner before making smores.

Having a picnic on the patio

Tea party with playdoh cookies.

We read a lot, there’s stacks of books throughout the house. Favorites include: any of the Llama Llama books, How Do I Love You, Horns to Toes, the Dr. Seuss Dictionary and most recently Princess Millie’s Magic Wand. We watch movies more often than cartoons now. You’re only interested in the movie for 20 minutes at a time, but it’s something different. You love the Cars movies and one about Garfield and his British doppelganger.

Me: “Time for lunch, do you want peanut butter and jelly or turkey and cheese?” Leia: “Ice Cream” Me: “Ice cream is a treat, we need to eat healthy food for lunch.” Leia: “No, Ice Cream.” Me: “You need to eat real food.” Leia: *sad face*. So I make myself peanut butter and jelly. You eat some of  my sandwich and “ice cream” in the form of a frozen gogurt. I feel slightly less guilty about the sugar content because it has no artificial colors or flavors. I figure it balances out because you eat artichokes and asparagus like a champ.


There’s so much more I know I’m forgetting, but the praise for eating green veggies seems like a good place to stop. Leia Olivia you are my heart and soul and joy and everything. Thank you for being such an amazing little person, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Sweet 16 (and a half months)

I wanted to post this weeks ago, but life gets busy. Leia will be 17 months on New Years Eve and it blows my mind. I know I’m stating the obvious – someday she’ll be 17 years old, 27 years old, etc – but the shock of how quickly time passes never wears off.

Taking pictures for our Christmas cards

Leia, you are such a fun, active, cuddly toddler. Definitely a mama’s girl, you’re attached to my hip (or boob) more often than not. Sometimes you’re a social butterfly, greeting people at the store or sharing your toys with a new kid at the park. More often it takes you a little while to warm up to new people (and people you don’t see often) – you’re not afraid to let them know you need some space! This time is so short, and someday you’ll have a hard time believing all you needed to make the world okay was for me to hold you. One day you will be too big for my hip, but I will always be there for you.

Taking pictures with Dad

The teeth are coming! This month your top two teeth came in and this morning I found a molar. I also see the teeth next to the ones on top coming up. This might explain the all night nursing sessions. Sometimes you wake up shrieking, and it breaks my heart. I’m sorry teething is so terrible, but I promise you won’t remember it in the long run.

You love rubbing lotion on your skin and mine, pretending to spray yourself with sunscreen or the leave in conditioner. I don’t have a lot of beauty products, but when you get into my makeup bag you’re all over the brushes. My favorite is when you brush my face. The kitties aren’t as thrilled with being brushed, or being rubbed with lotion.

You love the bead necklaces I got as party favors, and put them on at least once a day. Then you put them on me. You wear them when we go out every now and then which means you wear more jewelry than I do, ha.

Sprawling out on the couches at Fashion Valley mall

Favorite cartoons: Bubble Guppies, hands down. You were on a SpongeBob kick for a while. Not so interested in Sesame Street or Cat in the Hat at the moment. When I make breakfast you’ll bring me the remote and say “bubba bubba bubba.”

Coloing the book about staying at Grandma's house

Favorite books: Pat the Bunny, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There’s A Wocket in my Pocket, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Moo Baa LaLaLa!, the ABC book from the Museum of Art – I love that you love reading. We read in the morning after breakfast, and throughout the day you’ll flip through books or bring them to me and crawl into my lap and turn the pages. You’re so smart, and can point out most of the things I ask you to find. You love any book with animals, so you can make the sounds they do. Sometimes you hold my finger and point to the objects as I count or name them, teaching me as we read.

A crispy green bean at P.F. Changs.

Gogurts and cartoons with Caleb

Favorite foods: Changes all the time. You’ve morphed into a picky eater, which is pretty normal. You’re growing perfectly (22 lbs. and 32.5 inches) so I try not to micromanage your daily eating habits. You love frozen “gogurts” and eat 3-4 a day, must be because they feel good on the gums. You’ll usually eat chicken, ground beef, pasta with tomato or cheese sauces, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, cheese, berries, clementines, little green trees (broccoli), crackers, homemade banana muffins. Sometimes you’ll eat beans and rice. One morning you devoured a wheat waffle with peanut butter, hasn’t happened since. You’ll gladly share a cookie or a few french fries with me. I swore up and down you wouldn’t get junk food until, I don’t know, grade school? But the reality is if I eat it sometimes I don’t mind if you share. No interest in milk, unless it comes from the boobs. Finger food is less appealing, as you’re getting pretty good with a spoon and fork.

One of my favorite things is watching you cook or eat pretend food. When we’re in the kitchen you’ll use the whisk to stir things in the big silver bowl then scoop up a bite with a big spoon. You’ll offer me a taste too. I tell you you’re a wonderful chef and ask you for your secrets to the perfect soup or casserole. The ziplock bags and straws are an endless source of entertainment – you pull them out of the boxes and spread them around in the bottom drawer (or the floor).

The goat says....

Words and Sounds: Mom, Bob and No/Nah are probably the three words you say most often. Bob is usually a reference to the boobs. You make the “Ba” sound for balloons and balls (two of your favorite things). Animal sounds are fun – meow, woof woof woof, baa, moo, neigh. You snort for a pig and say vroom for cars and trucks.

We were riding in the car when I heard the doors lock, then unlock. For a split second I considered the possibility the car was haunted (don’t laugh!), then the more realistic idea that I had some electrical problem. Then I looked back and saw you had my spare car keys and were pressing the remote buttons. I laughed the rest of the ride, which made you laugh, which made my whole day.

You can open doors all over the place. One of your favorite things is running and hiding from me then squealing when I knock on the door and say “Hello? Has anyone seen Leia? Is she in here?” then open the door slowly. Speaking of running around you’re pretty good at getting up and down stairs, on and off the furniture, etc. You can climb the chair and get onto the dining room table at Grammy’s house which gives us all anxiety. You like to get on top of the ottoman, spin around scoot to the edge and fling yourself backwards. I definitely think you’ll enjoy a gymnastics class when you get older. You love flipping upside down, spinning around (sometimes with a bucket on your head), and the downward dog yoga pose.

Sneaky sneaky! You do this hilarious and adorable thing I call “creeping” – you hunch over and tip toe ever so slowly with a sly smile. I say “Leia, are you sneaky, sneaky, where are you creeeeping to?” and you’ll throw your head back and laugh. Those full belly laughs are wonderful, priceless, they keep me going on a rough day. You like to come up behind me and tap my back when I’m sitting on the floor. Then I grab your hands and pull you up onto my back and we run around the house like you’re my superhero cape.

You’ve gotten wise to my escape moves. When Grammy comes over in the evening it usually means Mom is going to the gym. A few times you’ll grab my shoes and run around in protest. Most of the time you just scream and cry and grab my leg. But Grammy has assured me that a few minutes of tears after I leave and you two end up having a great time.

Helping me address envelopes

My little artist! You love coloring – pens, crayons, paintbrushes, they’re all great. You hold the pens and crayons very well and scribble on the books more than the walls now. You enjoy standing on the chair pushed up against the desk and organizing all my papers.

People have asked if potty training is on the horizon. I don’t think so. I don’t mind diapers, they’re convenient. You do like to flush the big potty, and when I go pee you always demand a few pieces of toilet paper and will pretend to wipe your butt. So I’ll probably buy you your own potty for Christmas and see how things go. But really, no rush.

Taking a nap.

Right now you’re sleeping in the bed we share, probably taking up 75% of it, spread out like a starfish. The cats take up another 20%. I’m content with our cozy space.

You are the greatest joy in my life little Leia Olivia, I love you.