Saturday, July 31, 2010

Balance Bike Update

My son's balance bike arrived today.

He doesn't really like it yet, but I'm hopeful that he'll warm up to it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Farewell to My Sweet Leche

Sometimes big things come in small packages.  Case in point:  my breasts.  My breasts were small, but mighty. 

I have had to wear nursing pads since around January 2008.  Those who are quick at math can easily calculate that my son wasn't born for several months after I began wearing nursing pads.  Why was I wearing nursing pads for months before my son was born?  Because my breasts were already leaking.  Really, that should have been my first clue as to what was in my future.

By the time my son was born, my breasts had increased by three cup sizes.  After his birth, they went up one more.  Ouch!  I guess you just can't stretch skin that tightly and that quickly without ending up with stretch marks.  The only place that I have stretch marks are on my breasts.

Knowing that I was going to have a c-section left me distraught for many reasons.  I am afraid of regional nerve blocks.  I had never had a surgery.  I wanted to spend as little time in a hospital as possible.  And, mainly, I was concerned about the impact it would have on my breastfeeding relationship with my son. 

My concerns were so great that I actually inquired if my OB thought I should attempt a vaginal birth.  My son was breech and, while my OB had attended plenty of vaginal breech births in his career, he didn't seem too keen on the idea.  He didn't outright say he thought it was a bad idea, but he did caution me that they are generally a much more painful birth and they do carry higher risks.  So I had a c-section.  My son was breech and sunny-side up, so I guess it really was the best that I didn't attempt a vaginal delivery.

I was in a recovery room for two hours after my son was born.  I had fallen asleep during delivery and, other than when I saw him pulled from my abdomen, I didn't remember seeing my newborn.  I spent those two lonely hours pleading with the nurse to let me see my son.  I cried a lot and I was desperate to make my legs move enough that she would send me up to my room. 

I was in such a hurry because I knew the clock was ticking.  The longer I spent screwing around in recovery, the more likely that some "helpful" nurse might stick a bottle (artificial nipple) in my son's mouth.  Worse, they might try to satisfy his natural sucking need by giving him a pacifier.  My husband was given two very firm instructions from me:  Do not let the baby out of your sight for one moment and do not let them give the baby a bottle or a pacifier.

"I want to see my baby.  Please let me see my baby," was my constant refrain.  I finally regained enough mobility that they sent me to my room.  Of course, I immediately asked for my baby.

My husband brought me our son and I wept at the sight of his sweet face.  Once everyone left us alone, I put him to my breast.  It HURT!  It REALLY HURT!  I kept telling myself that this must be normal and to push ahead.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  Yes, breastfeeding can feel somewhat uncomfortable in the beginning.  But it shouldn't make you cry every single time you put your child to your breast.  And it sure as heck shouldn't leave you with bloody scabs on your nipples.

I ended up getting the hospital's double electric pump and I used it after every feeding while I was in the hospital. I actually credit this with giving me my remarkably high milk supply. I ended up with bottle after bottle of colostrum by the time I left the hospital. When we gathered all of my bottles from the nursery refrigerator, one of the nurses said, "Oh, you're the one with all the colostrum."

My problem was ever a lack of supply, it was that my son and I just couldn't get a proper latch.  The lactation nurse at the hospital wasn't very helpful and I got the distinct impression that she thought I should just bottle feed.  I would not even consider it, so I kept trying.  The nipples on their bottles had a ridiculously unnatural shape and the flow was altogether way too fast - two things that a breastfeeding mama doesn't want from a supplemental bottle.  When I was too sore to even attempt a latch, we fed him my colostrum with a tiny plastic syringe.  Drop by golden drop.

My son lost just at 10% of his body weight and they told me that they'd begin to bottle feed him if he didn't start putting that weight back on.  I spent all night with him at my breast before they were going to weigh him again.  I actually woke him every 90 minutes to try and force in another cc or so of colostrum.  I was so thankful that he gained enough weight that they'd send us home.

My nipples were sore as heck and still sported scabs, but the real pain didn't kick in until I'd been home a couple of days.  My milk came in.  I was literally reduced to tears.  At that moment, I would have to say that my breasts hurt far more than my incision.  Yes, it was that painful. 

Compounding the problem was that we still didn't have a good latch.  Every single feeding session was still impossibly painful.  Now my breasts grew another cup size and they were heavy with milk.  My skin was stretched so tight that it looked shiny.  My nipples were nearly flattened by the stretching.  Ouch!

I visited the lactation clinic and actually got some good pointers on positioning and latching.  By weighing before and after a nursing session, they also verified that my son was getting plenty when he was at my breasts.  But it still hurt.

My husband was very bothered by all of this.  I think he hated seeing me weep every time I fed the baby and I fed the baby every ninety-minutes.  He actually said that he could understand why people give up on nursing and just decide to formula-feed.  I said I'd give it another week.

I promised myself that I'd try just one more week for weeks.  And weeks.  And weeks.  I was surprised when I realized one day that it didn't hurt. 

It took seven weeks.

Once we got the latching down, breastfeeding was pretty darn simple.  No need to measure or mix formula,  my boob juice was ready to go at all times.  No need to warm bottles, my breastmilk was a perfect temp every time.  No need to wash bottles, my nipples were clean to use whenever they were needed.  I'm sure my husband was also thankful that I breastfed because he never had to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby.  As a bonus for my son, my milk was never the same flavor every time.  It took the delicious flavors of whatever foods I was eating.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my son likes a wide variety of foods and tastes - he's been exposed to them his entire life!

It wasn't all totally awesome though.  Remember that plentiful milk supply I boasted about?  As a result, I ended up having engorgement problems for months after my son was born.  For those not in the know, your breasts get so full of milk that they actually get hard.  It's painful, but the pain immediately disappears once the pressure is relieve by expressing milk.  Even that isn't really a bad thing though because I ended up with tons of milk stored in our freezer.  This milk was great for mixing in with my son's first solids - rice, barley, and oat single grain cereals.

Breastmilk is an amazing thing.  Everyone knows the obvious reasons why breastmilk is so awesome, but there are so many other wonderful things about it.  Did you know that your milk changes as your baby grows?  Did you know that breastmilk changes even during the same nursing session?  Foremilk is in the beginning of the nursing session; it's thin and somewhat watery.  Hindmilk is found toward the end of a nursing session; it's fatty and creamy.  The foremilk quenches thirst, while the hindmilk satisfies hunger.  Amazing stuff, huh?

My son was exclusively breastfed until he was five months old.  He received no other nourishment other than the milk from my breasts.  I would have EBFd longer, but the pediatrician suggested that it might decrease my son's spitting up.  It didn't.  Knowing what I know now, I think I should have expressed out all my foremilk and only let my son have the fatty hindmilk.

I promised my husband that I'd stop nursing before our son turned one.  I broke that promise by about a month.  I didn't really want to stop, but my son was less interested in nursing by then anyway.  He knew how to use a cup and a straw so I guess my breasts weren't as novel. 

Though I looked forward to actually having my first martini in nearly two years (hard liquor in particular takes a long time to process out of your body), I was sad the first night that I put him to bed without any nursing.  I cried when he went right to sleep without wanting to nurse.

I thought that was the end of it.  As is often the case, it wasn't that easy.  My son occasionally would stick his face in my shirt when he was upset or tired, but he didn't really seem to miss my milk at all.  But I didn't stop producing it.  Not by a long shot.

I bought some cloth nursing pads because disposable pads were expensive.  Plus, I didn't generally leak that much milk any longer.  However, months after I last nursed my son, I still would experience let down so hard that my shirt was drenched.  This was particularly true if I saw or heard a baby.  If the baby was crying, my nipples were guaranteed to run like a faucet of breastmilk.  I wore nursing pads for over a year after I weaned my son.  I didn't particularly want to, but they were a necessity.

I stopped wearing nursing pads two weeks ago.  I haven't had any leakage and I'm hoping that I won't.  But, I must confess, I'm a little sad to bid farewell to my sweet milk.

Postscript:  Lest you think that I'm some militant milker who gets up in everyone's business about how they choose to feed their own baby, I'm not.  I overheard someone giving a co-worker grief about her decision not to breastfeed her new baby.  I know that I'm usually so shy & retiring, but I couldn't stop myself from telling the other person that it was none of their business how she chooses to feed her baby and to stay out of her personal decision.  My husband was surprised and said, "And you're like Ms. La Leche herself!"  Yes, I am a big fan of breastmilk.  Yes, it is the very best thing to feed a baby.  Yes, I believe that it was the only thing good enough for my son.  But I also feel that no one has the right to insert themselves in another parent's decisions (with one notable exception) and it really rankles me to hear someone laying guilt on a new mother.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Illegal Immigration - Is this Really So Difficult?

I think I'm a reasonable person. I believe in logic and reason - even if I'm not always logical or reasonable. I hope that this post comes across as both logical and reasonable, but I realize that hot-button issues are never that easy because people allow their fears and emotions to take control. Let me take a deep breath (in, out), here it goes:
Immigration. The only topic in the American political landscape that brings out the crazies more than immigration is abortion. I'm only tackling immigration (specifically illegal immigration - there is a big difference) because it's hit the news once again, courtesy of U. S. District Judge Susan Bolton and the State of Arizona.
As I predicted months ago, the most hotly-contested parts of Arizona's SB 1070 was struck down. I think the Judge Bolton had personal motivators in making her decision, a Clinton-appointed judge ruling in favor for the Justice Department just might end up with a cush appointment from Obama after all, but I think the decision was correct. I base some of my thoughts on it being struck down in the court because it is the federal government's responsibility to regulate immigration. A similar thing happened with California's Prop 187 many years ago. An individual state can enact whatever legislation they want, but that doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do or that it will be upheld in court.
SB 1070 was remarkably short and easy to read. However, it was not good legislation. It allows an officer to question one's legal status based on "reasonable suspicion" of violation. What exactly does that mean? Who do you think will be targeted? I'm guessing that some would give the blanket answer of "Mexicans," but one's national origin is not clear based on appearance (or name) alone. Plenty of so-called brown people are American citizens and plenty of so-called white people are not. Is it okay to subject our darker skinned citizens to this potential for harassment? I don't think so. Indeed, I think it's un-American.
Now don't accuse me of being a yellow-bellied, pinko-commie, liberal Democrat because I am absolutely not. Indeed, I've never once found myself voting for a Democrat or a porky social program. However, I do not believe that it is a good idea to ask local law enforcement to be in charge of enforcing immigration law because there are too many opportunities for abuse.
Who would be asked to show proof of citizenship anyway? Everyone? Just brown or yellow people? Only people with noticeable accents?  Only people with foreign-sounding surnames?  I'm white with a European surname and no accent so I shouldn't worry or care, right?  Bullsh*t. 
I don't know about any of you, but I don't keep my passport (I don't even have one!) or my birth certificate on my person. I typically only carry my driver's license, a credit card, an insurance card, and a AAA card these days. None of those items is proof of citizenship. . .is a Social Security card proof? I'm not sure, but I never carry that around (unless it's my first day for a job) for obvious reasons. Asking to see citizenship papers gets a little too close to a place that I don't ever want to see this country visit. And racial profiling is wrong. Yes, yes it is.
I love immigration, our vibrant immigrant community is one of the things I like so much about living in Southern California, but I do not like illegal immigration. Spare me the rhetoric about how the Europeans (specifically the Spanish, French, and British) who moved to North America were also "illegals." Remember that North America was not drawn up into clearly defined countries at that time. Regardless, I can't go back in time and change what happened hundreds of years ago. North America is drawn up into clearly defined countries today (the lands were won or bought) and there are laws specifying how those countries handle immigration.
Countries have been invaded by force since boundaries were first drawn up and it still happens to this day. I know there are some who feel that there is an invasion (a somewhat silent war, if you will) occurring right now and I think that language is intentionally inflammatory and designed to incite violence against a specific ethnic group. Sure, there are some whack-jobs who cling to their Aztlan dreams, but it just isn't going to happen on a broad scale and certainly not across this entire country. And I think, I hope, that most Hispanics do not want the US to become a northern version of their homelands.
I guess I won the birth lottery by being born in the US. If I wanted to move to another country, I'd do it the legal way because the threat of foreign imprisonment is a pretty big deterrent for me. Geez, I'm afraid to act the fool in certain parts of this very country for fear of how tough they are on crime. And what if the immigration process is difficult? I'd still do what it takes because I believe in following laws.  I'd certainly follow the laws of the country I want to live in and embrace as my own.
A family relation (by marriage) moved here from the UK a little more than two years ago and I acknowledge that the immigration process is pretty freaking crappy. It's a long process and it's expensive. But guess what? It's the process that this country has decided to follow and if you truly want to become an American, you will not flout her laws from the get-go. Breaking laws right from the start only serves to make the general public view you with a suspicious eye.
Yeah, yeah, I've heard that illegal immigrants only do work that no one else will. I call BS on that. I'm going to focus on labor-intensive jobs here because most Fortune 500 companies don't do executive-level recruitment in the parking lot of the local home improvement store. This notion that illegal immigrants do work that Americans (immigrants or otherwise) won't do is ridiculous - especially given the state of our economy. My father worked on potato farms as a youngster; he washed dishes and bused tables in a restaurant when he got a little older. My brother was a dishwasher at a hospital. My sister worked in fast food. I worked in fast food. A niece swept up garbage on the ground at a local theme park. I have a friend who was a car washer, a friend who worked in a gas station (this is back when they had full-service), and a couple of friends who worked newspaper delivery routes as teens and again as adults. All these people are Americans (one was an immigrant) and they were willing to do the work. Frankly, this type work is what has traditionally been after-school jobs and stuff to keep retirees busy. Perhaps even an income-supplementing second job. With the economy slumping, I'd guess that plenty of adults who have lost their jobs would do whatever it takes to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead.
One totally awesome thing about Arizona is that it mandates employers to use e-verify. I am aware that e-verify is not perfect and it can't determine if someone is working while assuming another person's identity, but it's a start.  I suspect that we'd do a lot to discourage illegal immigration if every employer, every school, and every medical facility would verify citizenship. Of course, then we'd be back in Prop 187 territory. . .so I guess we'll just have to stick with putting the burden on employers. Read an I-9 form sometime and you'll quickly realize that the burden has been on the employers all along.
I can understand that certain states have major problems with illegal immigration (Arizona is faaar from being the lone ranger there!), but states do not have the right to regulate immigration and that is not just my opinion. Sure, the Feds seem to be more interested in pandering than regulating, but it is still their responsibility. I agree that casting a bright spotlight on the illegal immigration problem is totally necessary because those who should be dealing with it are not. Hopefully this will force a little action, but I'm doubtful because lawmakers can't afford to be painted with the racist brush. Yeah, I know that being against ILLEGAL immigration doesn't make one a racist, but that's how they end up depicted in the media. It sucks that you are depicted as anti-everyone else if you are Pro-America.
Eh, what am I thinking? Nothing meaningful will likely be done about stemming illegal immigration because politicians and the press seem to only believe, or at least they imply, that only Hispanics are here illegally. Being anti-illegal makes you anti-Hispanic (generally anti-Mexican) in their minds.  That thought process is so stupid that I want to facepalm every time I hear it. Sure, Mexico is close to us geographically, but it's ridiculous to claim that illegals only come here from Mexico. I won't even start to address college students who overstay their visas because that could be an entirely new post. Turn your sarcasm meter on: No, no one from any other country comes here illegally. No, that would never happen. Yeah, right, that's the ticket. Like I said, the idiocy makes me want to facepalm.
You want an inconvenient truth, here's one for you: Swinging hard against immigration (I left "illegal" out of that statement just like they leave it out of the headlines - gotta love that yellow journalism!) will basically kill any chances of gaining control of the much-desired Hispanic voting bloc. That's why our politicians are such damned p*ssies while discussing this matter. And that's also why the GOP really has to walk a fine line on this issue.
You want to send a message that you're mad as Hell and aren't going to take it any longer? Vote all incumbents out of office. That's really the best way to get a politician's attention. It's naive to think that they give a crap about us little people. All they care about is their own personal power and enrichment. See for a clear breakdown of your elected officials and their recorded positions/votes. If you disagree with their positions, or find them too cowardly, vote them out of office. That said, I am not a single issue voter and I think it's pretty lame to make your voting decision on how a candidate feels or votes about one single issue - no matter if it's immigration, abortion, health care, military issues, taxes, social programs, or the 2nd Amendment. The right to vote is precious, but it is also a big responsibility. Use your vote and use it wisely.
As far as SB 1070 is concerned, let's see what the U. S. 9th Circuit Court (heavily left-leaning, I know) says on the matter before it's declared dead. 
I have no problem with immigration, but I do not like illegal immigration. Is this unreasonable? I don't think so, but I suppose it is to some and I question their reasoning. If you are okay with (or like) illegal immigration, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on it - provided that we can remain civil and respectful while discussing the topic. Should you choose to engage me in debate, please remember that illegal immigration is not a race issue. If you pull the race card, I'll have no choice but to dismiss your thoughts because you aren't thinking clearly and you're most likely a racist yourself. I acknowledge that certain states may have more trouble with persons of specific national origins, but one can not realistically claim that all "illegals" are from one specific country. That is unfair (untrue is probably a better word) and it is racist - two things I try not to embrace.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Heliotherapy

On the scale of sun-loving, I fall somewhere between the raisin-faced 20-year old who spends all waking hours at the beach and an albino.  I don't generally go out of my way to soak up the sun's rays, but I don't particularly try to avoid them either.  I was reminded today that there are benefits to getting a little heliotherapy.

I've been in a funk for a couple of weeks.  I normally love to get out and socialize with friends and their toddlers, but it all just seems like too much effort lately.  I feel exhausted just thinking about getting out of the house.  Even taking a shower and getting dressed sometimes feels like too much work. 

I'm in a sour mood and I feel constantly tired.  It's almost like a dark cloud is hanging over me.  I pretty sure that's the reason I feel so dejected.  My son continues to visit our bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, disturbing my slumber, and I know that's why I feel so weary.

I lied to myself for days, saying that tomorrow (or tomorrow, or tomorrow) is the day that I venture out and get on with life.  But I didn't.  It wasn't that I didn't want to, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I wasn't afraid to go out.  I was just too. . .I guess listless is as good a word as any to describe my feelings.

Today was the day that I decided that, no matter what, I was getting out of this house.  So I did.  And I loved it.

My son and I spent a few hours at a local mother's beach today.  We shared the entire beach with only three people for the first hour we were there.  There were only around a dozen people there when we left.  I've never seen such a deserted beach when the weather was so perfect.  It wasn't too hot, too cold, or too windy.  It was a totally perfect day to share with my son.

I indulged my son in his new favorite activity:  playing catch.  We played in the water because he loooves the water.  His lunch consisted of some favorites:  a chicken salad sandwich, red grapes, and even a juice box.  I'm certain that the only way this day could have been better to him would have been if Daddy had been able to join us.

I initially sprayed him down with a little sunscreen and turned him loose.  I gave myself a spritz on the back after about an hour or so.  I'm not a big weirdo about using sunscreen, but I do use it if I'll be out in the sun for hours at a time.  Thank goodness neither of us tend to burn - our son clearly didn't get my husband's skin.  Side note:  Last Summer, I spent 4 or 5 hours at the beach and didn't use sunscreen.  I ended up with a sunburn so bad that my skin actually blistered!  Who even knew that was possible?  Ouch!

I enjoyed myself so much today that I'm very tempted to go to the beach again tomorrow.  I'm convinced that the unrestricted sun exposure did much to improve my mood and increase my energy.  A sunny day often leaves me with a sunny disposition.  It sure did today!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Helicopter HashBrown Here

I had a brief chat with a friend this evening and it reminded me of who I don't want to be as a parent.  No, no, it wasn't my friend - she is a very good parent.  But we were basically talking about Helicopter Parents. 

I just don't understand Helicopter Parents.  You know the type.  They hover like helicopters when their perfectly healthy & able children are trying to play and explore.  These kids are often forbidden from participating in activities that might be dangerous in the slightest.  Soccer is a maybe, but Football is a definite NO.  These kids are practically outfitted in bubble-wrap when riding a bike, rollerblades, or skateboards. . .if they are allowed to participate in such a "dangerous" activity at all.  These kids have Stranger Danger drilled into their heads so completely that they probably begin to fear their own shadow by the time they reach elementary school.

The children of Helicopter Parents are taught, indirectly at least, that the world is a scary place and it should be feared.  I disagree.  Is the world all unicorns and rainbows?  Heck no!  But it also doesn't have danger and pain lurking behind every corner.

Crime is down since I was a kid, but stupid jackass "stunts" and "extreme sports" are up.  I kind of think that kids have less to fear from strangers than they do from themselves.  Specifically, their lack of painful experiences leads them to do things that can really screw them up.  Getting hurt serves as a great educator, but it's tough to get hurt when you have to suit up like a Star Wars Storm Trooper just to ride your dang bike around the block.  Actually, these kids probably aren't allowed to go around the block, but you know what I mean.

I didn't always feel this way.  For a period of time, I became somewhat Helicopter-ish myself.  Even worse, I allowed other Helicopter Parents to dictate how I was raising my own child.  Well, "dictate" is a pretty strong word to use because not a word was spoken directly to me.

As most kids do, my son went through a biting and a hair-pulling phase and he went through it at a fairly young age.  Thanks to over-reaction, I spent several months jumping all over my son at the slightest hint of misconduct.  In full Helicopter Parent-mode, I hovered constantly.

One day I noticed that my son was effectively being bullied by a child who he had been rough with months earlier.  My son was passively taking the mistreatment and the parent who had been so bothered by my son's previous conduct didn't seem all that concerned about their own child's behavior.  That really bothered me, to say the least.

I realize that I was wrong to so harshly correct such a young child.  I was also wrong to change my parenting philosophy to fit in with another parent.  If I had it to do over again, I'd just redirect him to a new activity rather than take the course of action that I did.

To this day, I fear that I squashed too much of my son's lively and energetic spirit.  And I resent that I did it to meet some unspoken expectations that I was under no obligation to meet in the first place.  No, I am not a Helicopter Parent any longer. . .and I hope to never be one again.

What I Want for My Son
By MrsHashBrown
I want my son to climb. . .even if he might fall.
I want my son to fall. . .so he'll learn that it hurts.
I want my son to learn what hurts. . .so he'll be more careful.

I want my son to try new things. . .even if he might fail.
I want my son to fail. . .so he'll learn to try harder.
I want my son to try harder. . .so he'll excel.

I want my son to explore. . .even if he might get lost.
I want my son to get lost. . .so he'll learn to stay close or at least learn directions!
I want my son to learn directions. . .so he'll be able to find his way around town.

I want my son to fight if he has to. . .even if he might lose.
I want my son to lose. . .so he'll learn how to win.
I want my son to win. . .because I love him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eskimo Kisses + Todder = Fat Lip for Mama

I've been in a real funk the last couple of weeks.  Normally socially active, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to drag myself out of the house.  Playdates, toddler classes, potlucks, doesn't matter; they all seem equally exhausting lately.  I don't even feel like cooking these days - and I love cooking.

I can't really put my finger on the root of the problem, but I know that I need to do something to overcome this general malaise.  It doesn't help that our son has come to our room in the wee hours of the morning for the last few days.  I have a difficult time falling asleep and, as a result of our early-morning visits, I've been walking around in a constant state of fatigue.

Though I'm too tired to attempt a fun-filled day with friends, I still try to give my son a fun day at home.  For example, my son and I had a great time playing catch this afternoon.  He still has a wild throw, but he's getting a lot better about catching the ball.  I never thought that I had as much pep as the cheeriest cheerleader, but it turns out that I sure do!  I jumped up & down, clapped, and cheered every time he caught the ball.  He beamed and I felt so proud of him!

While playing with his magnetic alphabet, I learned that he can identify the following letters:  C, K, S, N, P, D, and A.  He can imitate the phonetic sounds of most of those letters too.

I thought it might be fun to teach my son how to give butterfly kisses and Eskimo kisses.  He didn't like butterfly kisses at all, but he thought Eskimo kisses were hilarious.  He created a game where he'd jump up, grab my face, give me an Eskimo kiss, and fall over backward on the couch while saying, "Whoa!" 

Playing the Eskimo kisses game was a lot of fun. . .until he gave me a fat lip.  How do you get a fat lip while getting an Eskimo kiss?  Surprisingly, it isn't very difficult if the kisser finishes by smacking you in the mouth with their forehead.  I finally was able to stop the bleeding after about 15 minutes and I'm hoping that the ice-pack minimized the swelling enough that it won't look terrible tomorrow.

I need to get some solid rest and I hope that the boy stays in his bed until a decent time in the morning.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bought a Balance Bike for My Boy

Balance bikes are very short and lightweight.  They have air-filled tires, but they do not have a chain or pedals.  The basic idea is that the child learns how to balance on two wheels and this makes training wheels unnecessary once the child begins to ride a real bicycle.

I've been intrigued by the idea of balance bikes for quite some time.  After researching the pedal-less bikes, I decided that my little boy might like to tool around on one while at the park.  Heck, I wouldn't be particularly upset if he wanted to ride it around our living room or den. 

I began looking for balance bikes online, seeking high value and low price.  I found the Smart Gear balance bike in the Amazon link and I broached the subject with my husband this afternoon.  I decided to hold off on ordering until a little closer to Christmas.  Boy, am I glad that I waited!

I check out a website called fairly frequently.  As the name would suggest, they offer bargains that moms might be interested in purchasing.  Imagine my surprise when I noticed that they were offering Smart Gear balance bikes for $43!  I got pretty excited, but didn't get my hopes up since shipping costs often make a bargain not so great.  I yelled, "woo-hoo!" when I found that shipping was only $12! 

Five minutes and one credit card later, my son will be getting a balance bike delivered in the next couple of weeks! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Has the 2nd Amendment Done for Me Lately?

What has the 2nd Amendment done for me lately?  Well, more accurately, what have I done to enjoy the 2nd Amendment lately?  Turns out, not much.

I was pregnant the last time I shot a firearm.  The last time I shot a gun was in 2007.  I miss shooting guns.  There.  I said it.

I'm not a 2nd Amendment chest thumper, but I do believe that it is absolutely within our rights as American citizens to own firearms.  Gun ownership within the citizenry thwarts government abuses against the weak and unarmed.  And, I'll add that a well-armed citizenry is also a crime deterrent.  Specifically, a deterrent against burglary and other home invasion-style crime.  You know, worst case scenario, a well-armed citizenry could very well hold the line against foreign invaders.

It's not like I used to walk around with a gun strapped to my thigh or anything, but I used to spend a lot more time around firearms.  I guess that I always figured that guns were found in all households.  Ever since I was a child, there has been at least one firearm in every residence that I've lived in.

My father grew up using guns.  He has many fond memories of wonderful hunting trips with his male family members - uncles, cousins, and his brother.  To this day, he owns many guns.  Growing up, we knew these guns existed and we sort of knew where he kept them.  We also knew that he would have our hides if he found us touching his guns.  That's a fancy way of saying that he'd beat our butts if he found us playing with guns.  So we didn't fool around with firearms.

In my late-teens to early-20s, I used up a ton of .22 rifle ammo.  My boyfriend and I would head out camping in the extreme hinterlands of California and shoot away.  In our off-roading adventures, we found an abandoned campground.  I always found it somewhat eerie to walk among the long-empty buildings.  It seriously looked like the set of Friday the 13th or something.  But I was thankful that I was walking with a loaded rifle.  I chuckle when I think about those days.  Why?  Well, because I often walked around nude, with that rifle over my shoulder, while we were exploring the area.  After setting up targets, I'd frequently take aim wearing nothing but the skin I was born in.  I had a wonderfully tight figure and hair straight down to my waist. . .Sweet Cheeks was a nickname that I righteously earned. 

My ex-husband was enamored with firearms.  He had some issues (to say the least) and I think he felt that using guns made him feel more powerful and dominant.  We often visited local shooting ranges on dates prior to our nuptials.  I wish now that I had kept what was "my" gun during our relationship, but I didn't take much of anything when our marriage broke up. 

My current husband, the father of my son, is also a fan of firearms.  He doesn't have any weird issues or anything, he just knows his way around a gun.  He received his first gun, a .410 shotgun, when he was under ten years old.  He's in his 50s now, so it would be entirely fair to say that he's always grown up around guns.

When my father and my husband get to talking about firearms, I know it's time to leave.  Otherwise, I'll be bored out of my mind.  But when they want to go shooting. . .well, you know that you're going to get the opportunity to try out some pretty awesome firearms and ammo. 

It was November 2007 when I last was on the firing range.  I was pregnant.  And I was blazing away.  My personal favorite is the Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum 66.  My nephew thought it was hilarious that I put a set of ears on my burgeoning belly so that the unborn baby didn't hear the pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop of a semi-automatic .45 caliber. That would be my husband's Colt.

I've told my husband that if he ever divorces me that I will get to keep the S & W revolver.  I guess that you could say that I want my gun to fire when I pull the trigger.  If I pull it six times, I expect it to say bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang.  Yes, I am excessively fond of revolvers.

I haven't shot a firearm since November 2007.  I feel like it would be better, safer even, if I exercised my draw & aim reflexes, but I haven't had the opportunity to do so in well over two years.  I do think that I need to make the time to keep those skills in place.

All this said, if I had four hours of time away from my son, I don't think I'd spend it at the firing range.  I'd totally spend it with my hair dresser!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

About Hot Tub Folliculitis

Hot Tub Folliculitis.  It reminds me of a certain movie that was recently in theaters and it sounds like it might be kinda cool.  Right?  WRONG!

Earlier this month, my son had his two-year old vaccines.  We went swimming at a friend's house a few days later.  He spent so much time in the water that his lips turned blue and he was shivering.  How did I remedy his chill?  Did I take him out of the pool?  Put him in warm clothes?  No.  I put him in the hot tub for a little bit. 

It wasn't super-hot or anything and I held him on my lap the entire time.  He finally warmed up and turned a normal hue so I took him out of the hot tub, dried him off, and put him in warm clothes.  I thought that was the end of the story, but it was only the beginning.

He developed a fever in the wee hours of the next morning, waking at 2:30 am with a high fever.  He suffered with a 104 degree fever for nearly two days.  I assumed it was a reaction to his vaccines.

A few days after that, he developed a few tiny red bumps on his back.  At first I thought that it was a reaction to a new sunscreen that I had used so I didn't use the sunscreen again.  But the bumps didn't go away.  And more bumps showed up the next day.

Ultimately, my son began to complain about his "boo-boo" as he would try to scratch his back.  Since the bumps were itchy, I started to that that he was being bit by something.  The obvious culprit would have been fleas, but I thought that it was possible that there was a mosquito on the loose in the house. 

I went on a cleaning rampage throughout the house, giving special focus to all soft surfaces, to drive any biting critters from our home.  I figured that nothing would survive a hot wash with a double hot rinse in the washing machine.  For good measure, I tossed everything in an extra long and hot cycle in the clothes dryer.  I thinned out his toys and books, but never found any evidence of any creepy crawlies.

At this point, the majority of the bumps were located on his lower back. They were particularly heavy at his waistband. He had one or two on his legs, two on his feet, one on his arm, several were clustered at his groin. My son walked into the kitchen as I was preparing dinner. He pulled down his shorts and showed me his wiener. I told him that his wiener didn't belong out in the kitchen. He told me he had a "boo-boo" so I looked a little closer. My heart broke when I noticed that he had two red bumps on his penis.

I became convinced that the problem was in his bedding so I changed his bed.  Sure that I finally took care of the problem, I confidently put my little boy to bed last night.  He woke up with more red bumps this morning.

It was all very puzzling and I spoke briefly with my husband about the matter.  One of us began to speculate on the meaning behind this rash and chicken pox came up.  I flipped the frack out at the notion that someone managed to infect my varicella-vaccinated son.  I spent some time looking into efficacy rates (only 70% to 90% - this is why it is so dang important that everyone gets vaxed!!), symptom timelines, and looking at Google Images of chicken pox rashes.  I couldn't tell if it was chicken pox or not.

A call to the doctor was in order.  After speaking with a nurse, it was suggested that we should see a doctor today.  I spent the day fretting over why my son had a rash.  I wondered if the fever was significant.  I suspected the vaccines.  I even cursed that I took my son to a farm field trip earlier this month because I thought that could have been the root cause of this rash.

As it turns out, the innocuous soak in the hot tub was most likely to blame.  I couldn't believe it.  I'm still dumbfounded.

The doctor says that he'll need thrice daily doses of antibiotics for ten days.  This is the first time that my son has been on antibiotics.  I guess that means that I'll be pushing the active culture yogurt for the next several days. 

I'm very thankful that hot tub folliculitis isn't easily communicable (the doctor didn't even glove up to examine his skin) as we've been around other toddlers.  The doctor indicated that quarantining him is unnecessary.  I've already notified my hot-tub owning friend of this unpleasant development so that they can take necessary action.

After spending hours researching hot tub folliculitis, I've reached the conclusion that the vaccines lowered my son's immunity just enough that he was susceptible to the bacteria responsible for the illness.  The fever spike is a rare, but not unheard of, symptom of infection.  While most cases of hot tub folliculitis present within 48 hours, it is possible that the inflammation (bumps) can take a couple of weeks to appear.

My son has been himself.  He has a hearty appetite.  He's active.  He has a pleasant demeanor.  His only obvious symptom of illness were the tiny red bumps that were itchy.  I regret that I waited so long to seek medical attention. 

My point in writing this post is not to illustrate that I'm a negligent parent, though I certainly feel that way at the moment.  My point in writing is to serve as a public service announcement.  I had never heard of folliculitis (which is an inflammation of the hair follicle), let alone something that sounds as ridiculous as Hot Tub Folliculitis.  But this is a very real illness and one that may not go away if left alone. 

Here are a few pointers:
- Do use caution when using a hot tub, any hot tub.  Our friends are great people and they are clean.  But somehow this bacteria took a foothold in their hot tub. 
- If you own a hot tub, do make sure that you maintain a sufficient amount of chlorine in your hot tub.
- Do pay attention to any sign of infection after you, or your loved ones, have been in a hot tub.  Signs of infection include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, and the rash that indicates the hair follicles have become inflamed.
- Do seek medical attention if a rash appears and doesn't improve within a couple of days.
- Understand that Hot Tub Folliculitis is not easily transmitted person to person.
- Seek itch relief using an OTC anti-histamine.  Do ask a medical professional about the proper dosage for young children (use body weight to determine dosage if possible) and realize that sometimes anti-histamines can cause excitability (versus drowsiness) in young children.
- A 1% hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion may also ease the itch.
- Clip the nails of young children to prevent them from excessive scratching.
- Take an oatmeal bath to soothe aggravated skin.  My cheap trick is to take the foot of old (but clean) pantyhose and fill it with oatmeal.  Tie a knot in it to make an oatmeal sachet.  Toss in a warm bath and enjoy!
- If antibiotics are prescribed, do continue to take the medicine for the entire amount of time prescribed.  You may feel better within a couple of days, but follow the full course to prevent antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Throw away all remaining antibiotics that remain after following the full course of treatment.  Don't flush down toilets, just empty it in the garbage.

I'm sure that my son will be okay and, if our story spares the suffering of another little one, this post was well worth the time it took to write.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Used the Bamboo Blend Diaper Inserts Yesterday

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this will be a (somewhat) gross post.  So I started my period and I used my son's bamboo blend diaper inserts and thought I'd update my readership on my experiment.

I knew she was coming, but I hoped (and prayed) that she wasn't.  Aunt Flo.  Sigh.  That means that I did not conceive in my last cycle.  Crap!

Anyway, the morning began with Aunt Flo making her most unwelcome entrance.  And by entrance, I mean she strolled right out of my vadge with her very own red carpet.  GRRR!

Impossibly frustrated by the start of my day, I began to grab my Diva Cup.  Then I remembered yesterday's blog post and I decided that I'd try my own version of mama cloth.  So I grabbed a handful of my son's old diaper inserts.  I happened to grab the bamboo blend. 

Stuffing bamboo blend inserts in my panties felt a little odd, but I guess that's because I don't use maxi pads.  Well, that and because they had been a part of my son's diapers.  Oh my, they were very soft and very comfy.  I must say that they were so soft and comfortable that I almost wanted to love them.  But they were freaking big and, since I don't use pads, they felt really weird against my labia.  Plus, I wasn't sure that I needed such a long "pad."  So I folded the insert in half, found the sweet spot of my panties, and went about my day.

It could have been worse.  But I definitely have a new appreciation of the phrase, "riding the cotton pony."  Neigh!  Neigh!

You know, it was weird, but it wasn't horrible.  I mean, I'd rather not deal with a "pad" every single time that I urinate, but it wasn't unlivable.  I took the insert, rinsed it in the toilet using my diaper sprayer/bidet, sprayed it with Bac-Out, and tossed it in a plastic bin.  I actually used an old diaper wipes container and it worked really well.

I went through 6 inserts within around 8 hours.  I was sure that I destroyed a couple of those inserts with Aunt Flo's ugliness.  But I'm happy that I didn't.  I washed them and they came out perfectly clean - no stains or anything weird.  I finally broke out my Diva Cup and called an end to my experiment. 

I'm happy that I tried something outside my comfort zone.  I'm pleased that I found an interesting way to reuse something that I already owned.  And I'm glad that I learned that I could live with my periods if all the drugstores closed down and my Diva Cup was out of commission. 

Mama Cloth periods?  I could live with them.  Of course, I won't be tossing my Diva Cup any time soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Frugal Flow - It's Good for Me and Good for the Environment

I don't consider myself "green."  I certainly don't think I'm all that crunchy or granola.  I don't sweat the environment and I'm not particularly concerned about the impact man has on Earth.  Among my more eco-conscious friends, I'm probably considered as wasteful as the rest of the planet.  But, as compared to eco-friendly friends who pay lip service to "saving the environment" or some such, I'd say that I'm a hard-core crunchola.  See, Lisa, I told you I'd use your word!

Who are the lip service eco-warriors?  They are the people who make a big deal about driving a hybrid, eating locally grown organic foods, and avoiding those big & scary chemicals and toxins.  I can't help but raise a figurative eyebrow when they don't seem to have a problem eating processed foods or snacks if "natural" or "organic" is on the label.  It's doubly hilarious if they partake in such so-called healthy snacks while indulging in alcohol.  Um, okay.  I guess ingesting poison is okay if it makes you more lively at parties.  Though some were able to breastfeed, they didn't have a problem with feeding formula to their newborn baby.  But, hey, it must be healthier than breastmilk since the formula was mixed with soy milk (instead of that evil cow milk I guess), right?  I facepalmed when someone actually told me (of all people!) that they were afraid to get their formula-fed & disposable-diapered infant vaccinated because vaccines "aren't natural."  For once in my life, I actually held my tongue and changed the subject.  I did learn later from the grandmother that the little one ended up fully vaxed.

I don't care what personal decisions people make, but I am amused when their own actions and choices seem at such odds with their own beliefs.  Interestingly enough, I'm considered pretty radical (and not in the cool 80s way) because of the way I manage my period these days.  Personally, the environmental and personal health aspect isn't what inspired me to use a reusable menstrual product.  It was all about the cost savings for me.  But I'm surprised that environmentally friendly people recoil at the idea of shunning disposable menstrual products.  It seems to me that greening up your period is a no-brainer for those who are concerned about the environment, personal health, and/or saving money.

Thanks to the Diva Cup, I no longer throw a box of tampons in the garbage (thus, the landfill) every 20 to 30 days.  Sure, if you aren't on a septic system (as I am), you could flush tampons away to the sewage system.  But understand that flushing them away doesn't make them disappear.  Disposable menstrual products (tampons and pads) generate a lot of waste and my personal waste has been significantly reduced by using a reusable product.

I don't get all worked up over chemicals, but I no longer have to shove bleached (or unbleached) fibers up my hoo-haw.  Tampons absorb and pull out all moisture, not just menstrual blood.  The Diva Cup is smooth and comfortable and doesn't leave me with that unpleasant Sahara desert-feeling in my vagina at the end of my cycle. 

I've been using the Diva Cup for many cycles now and I essentially get my period for free every month.  Sure, I spent more money up front, but it paid for itself in tampon savings by the fifth cycle.

One thing has been bothering me though.  I still use disposable liners - just in case.  I don't think that using a few liners every month is going to destroy the planet or my budget, but I know that there are more comfortable options.  As a bonus, these options are washable and, therefore, are reusable.  That means that they will ultimately end up being a less expensive option to deal with something that happens every single month.

I mentioned to my husband that I might like to purchase some mama cloth as a backup for my heavy-flow days.  My husband calmly gave me The Look and asked if I'd like him to procure some Cherokee Hair so I can make my own tampons.  That's a South Park reference, in case you were wondering.  He then suggested that I might be able to sweep up enough dog hair from the floor to weave my own absorbent pads.  Then I gave him The Look followed closely by The Finger.  I realize now that I should have just bought the damn LunaPads or GladRags or whatever and not involved him at all. 

But my husband's smart mouth really got me thinking. . .

How hard can it possibly be to make your own mama cloth?  I'm not particularly crafty, but I suspect that even I could figure out how to make my own liners.  Then my frugal brain kicked into overdrive and I wondered if I could just repurpose my son's old diaper inserts instead?  I have microfiber, bamboo blend, and cotton inserts and I'm nearly positive that I could somehow fashion them into liners.  My problem is that I don't sew and I don't know how to use a sewing machine, but I'm almost certain that I could do it by hand.  Can't I?  Has anyone made their own mama cloth liners?  What materials did you use?  Other than de-valuing the diapers, is it totally wrong to consider repurposing my son's old diaper inserts?  Any tips or advice would be appreciated!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Do You Do with Plain Yogurt?

I like yogurt.  Well, I sorta like yogurt.  I've found that the types of yogurt I tend to prefer contain so much sugar that I think they are desserts masquerading as a healthy dairy snack.  With this in mind, I'd like to purchase more plain yogurt. 

My problem is that no one in my family likes plain yogurt.  It tastes totally awful and I can only think of two things to do with plain yogurt:  make tzatziki sauce or make a homemade treatment to handle a yeast infection.  I know it sounds like I'm kidding about that last bit, but it apparently is a handy way to take control when yeasty nasties are overrunning your hoo-haw.  As a side note, I hope that my computer search history is never made public because I'll feel like a real weirdo when "yogurt tampon" shows up.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  I don't often serve Mediterranean cuisine and I never get yeast infections, so I really have no idea what to do with plain yogurt.  What can I do with plain yogurt that doesn't involve kebabs or vaginas?  As I have in the past, I'm soliciting tips from my readership.  What do you do to make plain yogurt more palatable?

Monday, July 19, 2010

If Not This, Than What?

I don't believe in doing battle over everyday events and I don't believe in sending mixed messages, but there reaches a point when you wonder, should I rethink my parenting philosophy?

I don't believe in doing battle over everyday events.  I don't make a fuss if my son doesn't want to go potty before we get in the car.  I don't start a fight if my son doesn't want to eat a meal.  I don't get particularly upset if my son won't take a nap.  If he doesn't want to potty, eat, or sleep, well, okay then.  I don't get too worked up over it because my attitude isn't going to change his behavior.

I also don't believe in sending mixed messages.  Once my son was in underpants, he never saw another diaper or a pull-up diaper.  Once my son began regularly sleeping in his big boy bed, I filled his baby crib with old clothes and outgrown baby gear.  The message is the same:  he's a big boy now and this is what big boys wear and big boys don't sleep in cribs.

My son was up until an ungodly hour for the second night in a row.  It was after 10:00 pm before he fell asleep on both nights.  Understand that my son has been sleeping a minimum of 12-hours each night for well over a year and he'd been going to bed every night at 7:00 pm. 

I'm afraid that I didn't handle it very well last night and, in desperation, I cuddled him on the twin bed in his bedroom.  I don't know when he fell asleep because I fell asleep too.  Sometime in the middle of the night, I put him in his own toddler bed.  When he pointed to the twin bed tonight, I knew that he wanted me to cuddle with him again tonight and I realized that I sent him a terrible message last night:  If you won't go to sleep, I'll cuddle with you until to you on the twin bed until you go to sleep.

So I refused to cuddle.  And he refused to go to sleep.

We didn't have a battle.  It was more like a cold war.  He could sit on the couch, but there wouldn't be any television, toys, or books.  He sat on the couch until his father returned home this evening.  When I heard my husband's car, I told the boy that he could sit with his father for a few minutes, but he would have to go to sleep after my husband put him to bed.  Interestingly enough, he went right to sleep after cuddling for a few minutes with my husband.

I don't know if I should rethink my parenting philosophy, but I had some serious doubts tonight.  My problem is, what is the alternative?  Yelling and fighting with a child to make them go to sleep?  Somehow punishing the boy to make him go to sleep?  I don't think these would work with my son and I don't care to try.

Maybe I don't need to rethink my parenting philosophy just yet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bedtime Battle

My son's bedtime is 8:00 pm, but good luck telling him that.  It's 9:35 pm and he's been jumping out of his bed and running to the living room for an hour & a half.  Worse than that, I think he's still awake. 

Sometimes I hate the big boy bed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

REVIEW - CI Sport Dual Compartment Lunch Box

I never thought I'd say this, but I totally love a lunch box.  Let me explain.  I was suffering from lunch box envy.  I know that sounds silly, but I saw a really cool lunch box that I loved and it made my (reused) plastic grocery bag seem super-lame.  I  looked up this really cool lunch box and I nearly had a heart attack at the price.  So I decided that I'd look for something more in my budget.

I've looked everywhere for a lunch box that I would feel happy to use, but I couldn't find anything that I liked.  Earlier in the week, I went to Costco to look for an air mattress.  I left with a sportbrella (like an umbrella & sunshade in one) and a new lunch box.  And a $5 roasted chicken.  No air mattress.

It was another scorcher today, so we went to the beach.  I was excited to test out my new lunch box (and the sportbrella!) and see how well it held up in the intense heat between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.  At 10:30 am, I packed the lunchbox with watermelon, pineapple, cherries, string cheese, veggie sticks, goldfish crackers, and a couple of cold packs.  I left it on the sand in the shade under our fabulous new sportbrella.  We stopped to grab a burger on the way home and I left the lunch box in the car for about thirty minutes.  When we arrived home at 3:00 pm, everything was still cold!  I'm amazed and how wonderful it works!

I should add that I also subjected a small Coleman cooler to the same treatment, only the Coleman was packed with ice and water bottles.  The ice was long gone before we even left the beach and it was only cool, not cold, by the time we arrived home.

I'm sorry that the Amazon link is not the exact lunchbox that I purchased, but it was the closest that I could find.  I bought a CI Sport Dual Compartment lunch box by California Innovations. I bought it at Costco for a little less than $12.  It is red, black, and grey and it came with a dual purpose pack (cold or hot) and a stainless steel water bottle.  This lunch box has several features that make it very user friendly and, while I can think of a few improvements to the design, I can't recommend it highly enough.

- It has a swing away handle, meaning that the handle opens so that you can attach the lunch box to something.  I can see this being a particularly useful feature when going on stroller walks to the park. 

- The rubber swing away handle is one piece and it flexes with your hand.  It's hard to explain what that means, but this style of handle makes it very comfortable to hold even if the lunch box is packed with heavy food.  I probably had around 10 pounds of food in it today because four of us went to the beach. 

- It also has a detachable and adjustable shoulder strap.  I initially thought this was a dumb feature, but I actually had to use this today so that I had a free hand to hold onto my son when we were walking back to the car.  Yes, yes, I could have worn him on my back in the Ergo (and that's exactly what I did walking to the beach), but I didn't want to get the Ergo dirty, sandy, and wet.

- The main compartment is very large with a zippered closure.  I can fit four lidded Gerber baby bowls and still have extra space for a couple of medium-sized apples. 

- The main compartment utilizes high performance insulation and a reflective radiant barrier.  This is a fancy way to say that it keeps your cold things cold.  Alternately, it keeps your hot things hot.  Note that you can't have both at once though; fried chicken or potato salad - not both in the same lunch box.

- The main compartment has a clear plastic lining held in place with both a zipper and a hook & look closure.  This clear plastic lining is leak proof and removable so that you can clean it should you have a messy spill.

- The outer compartment rolls shut and remains that way with a bungee and a hook & loop tab.  This compartment is insulated and is expandable via hook & loop tabs.  This is where I stashed the dry snacks because this compartment won't keep things cool for nearly as long as the main compartment.

- There is a mesh pocket on the side for water bottle storage.  This pocket also has an adjustable bungee to keep your bottle secure.

- It has a mesh pocket on the inside of the lid so that your cold or hot packs don't mingle with your food.  This mesh pocket has a hook & loop closure.

- The stainless steel bottle probably holds 16 ounces or so, but it is not insulated so it's very cold to hold if you have an icy beverage.  For obvious reasons, you shouldn't use it for hot beverages.

- The bottle cap screws on and off.  I don't care for this style, but flip tops are probably more expensive to manufacture.

- There is a carabiner clip on the bottle cap so that you can attach your bottle to a variety of things.

- I like that the dual purpose pack offers the flexibility of using it as a cold pack or a hot pack.  My gripe, however, is that most people keep cold packs in the freezer and this means that you can't use it as a hot pack on a whim.

- I did not use the dual purpose pack today because I have several cold packs already in the freezer.  Because I do have an abundance of cold packs, I plan to use this pack strictly as a hot pack.

- To use as a hot pack, you can heat it up while submerged for three minutes in a pot of boiling water on the stove top.  Or you can submerge it in a container of water and microwave it for around 45 seconds.  I think it's pretty cool that it's microwavable and heats up in such a short period of time.

Overall, I'm thrilled with my purchase.  However, there are some things that could definitely be improved.  A big one is the depth because it just isn't all that deep.  Another is that they should have designed it so that you can also transport it on it's side rather than upright.  As it's designed, you load it on it's side and you carry it upright.  This means that your food shifts 90 degrees and you're going to end up with a big freaking mess if you have foods that are wet and you don't have a perfectly airtight container. 

I used to bring leftovers for my lunch nearly every single day and this lunch box wouldn't have been a good choice for me back when I was working for wages.  If you want to tote a bowl of soup or containers of leftovers, this probably isn't the lunch box for you and you'll be far happier with one like in the Amazon link above.  These days my lunches consist of things like sandwiches, salads, fruit, veggie sticks and stuff like that so this lunch box is perfect for me now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ways to Beat the Heat

It has been in the triple digits all week where I live.  I prefer warm weather to cold, which is why I will never move to a place that sees snow, but I don't like when it's HOT.  And, oh man, has it been HOT!  How hot has it been?  Hot enough that my AC kicked on before 8:00 this morning.  Hot enough that my AC kicked on again at around 10:00 last night.  Hot enough that my AC ran at least six hours yesterday.  It was on when I returned home and I have no idea how long it actually ran. 

Given the painful heat that my area is suffering with, I thought I'd write a post on ways to beat the heat.  I've split these tips into three sections.  Enjoy!

- Keep the sun out of your house by hanging blackout curtains or tinting your windows.  I recently did the white-trash move of sticking giant pieces of cardboard in our bedroom windows because the blinds and blackout curtains we have hung just weren't doing enough to stop the sun & heat.  It's actually worked really well, but it is pretty tacky looking.  Thankfully, those windows are only visible from our own backyard.

- You can also hang awnings outside to keep the sun & heat from streaming in your windows.  They make both fixed and retractable awnings and they don't look too bad.  Some actually look really good.

- Double-paned windows help to keep the heat out during the Summer and keep the heat in during the Winter.  It is also a home improvement that immediately adds value to your home and that value doesn't really diminish over time.

- Keep your AC set to a certain temperature all the time.  Do not make the mistake in thinking that it's cheaper to turn off the AC while you're at work because, by the time you arrive home, your house is uncomfortably hot and it will take HOURS to cool down. 

- You might consider installing a setback thermostat so that it automatically kicks on to have your house cooled to a certain temperature by the time you arrive home.

- A decidedly more sophisticated approach is to use an adaptive thermostat.  These utilize outdoor sensors in order accurately calculate exactly when to turn on in order to cool your home to the correct temperature by the time you arrive home.

- The time to have AC installed or serviced is prior to the blazing hot days of Summer.  If at possible, hire HVAC contractors when it's their slow times - meaning that it's not too hot & not too cold.  A bonus to investing in your indoor air comfort when the weather is mild is that you should save a lot money as well as get quicker service.

- If you do purchase a new system, be sure to invest in new ductwork rather than a super-high-tech system.  Your ductwork is what moves the "cool" air throughout your home and that has a greater effect on the air comfort in your home and energy efficiency than having a more expensive system.

- You can save a lot of money by servicing your AC all by yourself.  All you have to do is change the filter (make sure you install it properly & that it is the correct size!) and clean the outdoor coils with a garden hose.  Google it for more details.

- Check with your local electrical and gas companies to see if any rebates are being offered for things such as dual-pane windows, high efficiency HVAC systems, and the like.  Between the federal government, state governments, utility companies, and manufacturer rebates, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can get back via a rebate.

- Use ceiling, oscillating, and box fans to maximize your AC's effort.  This is a very under-utilized technique and it really has a profound impact on the air comfort of your home.

- Remember that most ACs just aren't going to be that great when it's over 95 degrees.  No matter how much money you spend, the AC is only going to be sized to be effective up to 95 degrees.  If you live in the desert, know that your HVAC contractor has had to do all kinds of hinky shenanigans to keep you cool when the outside temps are above 95 degrees.

- Keep cool in the kitchen by avoiding your oven and minimizing stove-top cooking. The grill, crock-pot, and microwave are perfect for hot-weather cooking.

- I'm intrigued by solar cookers that you can make on your own, but not intrigued enough to attempt to construct one & use it for my family's supper. It just seems like a microbial disaster and I'd rather not risk my family in my effort to keep cool. If you use one, I'd love to know how it works for you!

- You can also keep cool(er) in the kitchen by preparing your dinner in the morning when it's hopefully not too hot yet and reheat in the microwave when it's suppertime. Be sure to refrigerate until you're ready to reheat it though!

- Utilize someone else's utilities. The library, the mall, the movies, restaurants (even fast food ones) are all great places to go to hang out when it's hot. Heck, even the grocery store has the AC jammin' in the Summertime.

- I like to let my son play in the Children's section at big bookstores (Borders is the one I like best) because they have toys that the kids can play with, puppets for sale (that I tease him with!), and he seems to really like it. The downside is that I usually end up buying more books and he already could open a library with the books he currently owns.

- I don't particularly like to eat at places like these, but Chuck E. Cheese's and John's Incredible Pizza are air conditioned places that you can use to wear out your kiddos. I suppose that you technically don't even have to order anything at Chuck E. Cheese's, but I think that's kinda rude.  Am I totally off-base on this?

- Go to indoor playgrounds to keep cool & let your little monkeys run wild. In my area we have a ton of places that the kiddos love and that are nice & cool: Hullabaloo's Playhouse, Scooter's Jungle, Pump it Up, and more! My son is guaranteed to nap at least three hours after 90 minutes at an indoor playground.

- Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids (water in particular) and eating watery foods.  Watermelon and grapes are my current favorite.  Did you know that you can freeze whole grapes and they make a tasty cool treat?  Do remember though that whole grapes are a choking hazard to young children and they can be even more dangerous if they are hard & frozen.

- Don't forget to make sure your children keep cool & well-hydrated.

- Keep cool by eating cold soups and crisp green salads.  Vichyssoise and gazpacho are my favorite cold soups when the heat is on and a big salad for dinner is always refreshing.

- Other tasty eats when the heat is on are:  cold pasta salads, chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, and cold soba noodles with cold tofu with ginger, green onions, & soy sauce.

- This is probably a big "duh," but plan to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day and familiarize yourself with the signs of heat related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. 

- If you absolutely must go out at the hottest part of the day, try your best to remain in shady areas away from the sun's rays.

- If you have elderly relatives, neighbors, or friends, do be sure to check in on them when the heat is on.  The elderly are particularly vulnerable to heat related illnesses and your call or visit might just save their life.

What are your tips to keep cool?  I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Potty Training Post - Part II

Potty training is serious business and yesterday's post has already received positive feedback from three moms.  Late last night I realized that I had a quite a bit more advice and suggestions on potty training so this is an addition to everything I posted yesterday.

- Most communication is not verbal and having good communication skills (verbal or signing) is not necessary to successfully potty train.  When I began the potty training journey with my son, he only spoke less than ten words:  mama, dada, what's this, tie-tie (tired), poo-poo, Elmo (La La), yes, tasty (tash).  Even now, two months later, he only speaks about 20 words.

- During the training, I never turned on the television, I didn't use the computer, and I did zero socializing.  My son had 100% of my attention for the entire time.  The emphasis is to focus only on your child so that you can learn the way they communicate that they need to use the potty.  They might grab at themselves, they might dance around, they might stare into space, they might do any number or combination of things that tip you off that an accident is getting ready to happen so you can hustle them to the toilet as soon as it starts to happen.

- I always kept the potty chair in the bathroom. When do children eliminate or evacuate in the living room? When they wear a diaper! Get them used to running for the toilet when they have to go potty.  I think this also helps train their muscles to hold it for a short time when you're out and are looking for a restroom.

- You must catch each and every accident, as it is happening, and rush them to the potty. You're trying to break the association they have with their diapers being the place for pee or poop and you want to help them associate the toilet with being the place for pee or poop.

- Remember that an accident is a learning opportunity; never use negative words when they have an accident. This is all very new to a young child and sometimes it takes time for them to understand their own body's signals.  I was always very matter of fact and would say that his underpants weren't clean & dry anymore and that he needs to remember to tell Mama when he has to go potty.  That was it.  No shame.  No condemnation.  Just that his underpants weren't clean & dry anymore and he needs to remember to tell Mama when he has to go potty.

- Do not lie the child down to change them. Lying down is for babies and they are big kids now. Would you lie down to change your own clothes? Stand them up to change their clothes too!  Yes, this is messy when there is a poopy accident, but they can be cleaned and so can their clothes and your floors.

- Damp underpants aren't a big deal because they just mean that the child caught themselves having an accident and stopped themselves.  That's a good thing because they are learning how to control their muscles and recognizing that releasing their muscles means that their underpants won't remain clean & dry.

- I never forced my son to sit on the toilet or potty chair unless he was going potty. Never ever. The child needs to learn how to listen to their body. Forcing them to sit on the potty until they go doesn't teach them their internal elimination signals. If anything, it teaches them that you are trying to control them in every single aspect of their lives.  The point is not to use force to control the child's toileting times. . .follow their cues and let them learn to listen to their own body's signals.

- Since my son now associates diapers with babies, I call swim diapers "swim pants."  The only reason I still use a swim diaper is because most pools require one for children under age 3.  I don't generally use them when we go to the beach or are swimming at a private residence because he tells me when he needs to poop or pee when he's swimming.

- Lora Jensen says that 22-months is the perfect time to PT. I don't know if this is true or not, but I do think there is a certain "sweet spot" between when they are physically able to control their biological toileting functions and when they are too stubborn to bother with learning how to control their biological toileting functions. I first tried this method at 18-months and he was too young so I stopped and decided to try again later. Why do I think it was the wrong time? Well, mainly because it was an utterly miserable day. No matter how encouraging I was, my son spent the day in tears. I could not soothe him and he ultimately just sat on the floor and sobbed. Like I said, way too young to attempt potty training without traumatizing his psyche.

- Seeing poop can freak out young children.  I would ask my son to stand in the restroom while I rinsed his poopy diapers into the toilet for many weeks, maybe even months, before I began potty training.  I'd also have him wave bye-bye to his poo before I flushed it away. Once he began to poop on the potty, I began to ask him if he wanted to wave bye-bye to his poops before flushing them away.  Pooping in his big boy underpants was very distressing to him, but pooping in the toilet is not and he has no problem with making #2 in any toilet we are near.  Even those gross toilets at the beach. . .bleh!

- Praise was a big hit during PTing, especially when he was praised for making a poop. I would call several relatives on speakerphone so that he could hear me praise him to other people. He lit up like a Christmas tree whenever I called to brag on him to the people he loves.  Of course, they would shower him with praise too.

- Contrary to what Lora Jensen suggests, I don't believe in giving the child a "poop prop" because there will be times that the child needs to go and you don't have your poop stick or whatever else you've fashioned to facilitate pooping. Make a ton of juice and high-fiber foods available to your child to move things along the natural way while PTing.  My son very rarely had juice prior to being potty trained.  Being constipated can turn into a fear of the toilet so now I give him a cup of juice every few days or so and it helps prevent his stool from getting too hard.

- Prior to starting the potty training journey, my son went to bed at 7:00 pm.  Shortly after beginning to PT, I pushed his bedtime (over a few weeks) to 8:00 pm. I did this so that he'd have plenty of opportunity to drain the lizard, so to speak, before going to bed.  It somewhat helped to decrease bedwetting.

- I cut off all fluids about 2 hours before bedtime, he goes potty twice during our bedtime routine. I also found that taking him to the potty before I go to bed (around midnight or so) is a good way to cut down on night time accidents.

- I feel that Lora Jensen is rather harsh toward the parents of bedwetters. Look, you might follow her plan to a T, but that does not mean you won't have a child who is prone to wetting the bed. Some children just do it and they aren't doing it to spoil your morning. Show them love, compassion, and let them know that accidents happen & that it's okay. But add that they can always call for you when they need to go potty in the night because you'll always be there for them.

- If it seriously bothers you to change bedsheets and you're wondering what's "wrong" with your child, use a pull-up diaper and stop worrying. If I went that route, I'd call them "night-time underpants" or "night-time panties" so that the child doesn't think they're going back to diapers and I'd still make an effort to catch all accidents. I guess changing bedsheets didn't bother me all that much since I didn't go the pull-up route.

- Once you have decided to do this - do it 100%! No more diapers! No more pull-ups! You can do this and your child can too! Have faith and don't allow backsliding into a diaper!

- Will there be a lot of back & forth between your living room and the bathroom? Aw, hells yeah. But keep your eye on the prize: A diaper-free child!  Yeah!

- You may have noticed that I've called potty training a journey a few times.  It really is.  Think of a road trip; there may be all kinds of stops, road bumps, problems, madness, & mayhem, but the destination makes all the aggravation sooo worth it.  A diaper-free child is so worth the effort you make on the potty training journey.

- If you have any questions or would like some specific advice that hasn't been covered in this blog, please do let me know. I don't claim to know all the answers and I certainly can't make my way for for you, but it did work fantastically well for us and I'm happy to help a fellow mama (or Daddy) in beginning the potty training journey with their own child.

- I'm also interested in hearing from seasoned parents about the potty training methods they have used!

This is my 200th post and I've covered all sorts of crazy topics in the last seven months!  Thank you to everyone who has been reading and commenting on this blog.  I appreciate your support and kindness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Potty Training Post

Several moms have asked me how I potty trained my son.  I certainly don't mind talking about potty training, but I decided to write this post so that I don't have to continue repeating myself.  On May 4th, I began a six-day series in this blog on potty training, but this is a much more exhaustive detail of how I actually approached potty training.  It has been over two months since my son has worn a diaper.  We do not (and have never) used pull-up style diapers.

For starters, I used Lora Jensen's 3-Day Potty Training method.  I didn't follow it completely and I totally rejected one part of it, but I went with a lot of her method.  I highly recommend that you purchase her e-book to read the entire method for yourself.  My son was about ten days shy of his second birthday when I decided to go for it.  It worked for us and it might work for you too!

Note that all of this is not from Lora Jensen's method (quite a bit is my own), but here's a quick breakdown of the potty training journey that I had with my son (whenever possible, the links go to the actual products I used/use):

- My husband & I let our son see us use the restroom and we would sing-song "Daddy (or Mommy) has to go pot-ty. . ." when we went.  My purpose in doing this is so that he would make a connection that not only do we all go potty, but that it's a normal event.  It isn't shameful and we go potty in the toilet.  We sang the song because the boy likes singing.

- Get the entire household on-board with the potty training method you choose to use.  You do not want to send mixed messages to a new learner.  This includes using the same terminology.  Some might say that I'm doing my son a disservice by not using proper words (urine, feces, etc.), but I use pee, poo-poo, potty, and toilet.

- Commit to whatever method you choose to use.  This is really important.  Potty training one day, not the next, and again in another couple of days is terribly confusing.  The child doesn't know if you're serious or not and, well, it's easier to soil yourself than run to the potty so why should they bother taking this seriously? 

- It might be messy and it might be stressful, but believe in your child's ability to do this!  If you don't believe in them, how can you expect them to believe in themselves?  They will pick up on your attitude, whether or not you say a word.  It is entirely doable to potty train a child in three days - my son is proof.  Well, proof that it can be done in four days anyway.

- I put a potty chair in our bathroom for weeks, maybe months, beforehand.  I let him sit on it fully clothed (or with his diaper down) whenever he wanted.  I'd let him know that this special potty chair was for him to use when he becomes a big boy.  I liked this specific potty chair because it had a deep cup to catch the urine/poo, it comes apart incredibly easily for cleaning, and it was really cheap.  Plus, the top part can be used as a toilet ring on top of the toilet.

- I also put a simple toilet ring in the bathroom, next to the toilet.  The one I bought had Winnie the Pooh on it and the play on words (Pooh, poo) still makes me laugh; I guess I'm easily amused.  Every now & then I would put it on the toilet and let him know that he can go potty in the toilet whenever he wants when he's a big boy.  I liked this specific toilet ring because it has handles on the side.  That might not sound important to you or me, but it is when you're a 25-pound child sitting on what must appear to be a huuuuge toilet for the first time.  Plus, it just sits on top of the toilet so there is no need to fight with removal when you need to go to the restroom - easy on, easy off.

- I picked up a couple of step stools to help the boy reach the sink and the toilet on his own.  I have a single step for the toilet and a double step for reaching the sink.  The single step has rubber grips on the top and on the bottom of the legs so it is sturdy on a tiled floor and it is curved so it sort of hugs the shape of the toilet.  The double step one has a little storage space under the top step.  I stored fun stuff for him in there:  stickers, silly little toys, stuff like that.

- I bought some fun foaming handsoaps in bright colors that he could use to wash his hands.  I said that these soaps were for him to use once he's a big boy who uses the toilet.

- I also bought a Peter Potty toddler urinal and set it up in the bathroom, but he still hasn't used it even once.  I'm a little frustrated since it cost me $40, but it's easier to just have them pee in the toilet so I really can't complain.

- Though my son's crib mattress has a plasticky cover, I always have a fitted waterproof mattress pad under the fitted crib sheet to prevent stains and/or odors.  Though it costs a few dollars more, I have found that the Carter's brand holds up significantly better than the Circo brand.

- I made sure to have a small waterproof pad (I actually just used a small sheet saver) to protect the carseat.  I also have a big waterproof pad that I spread out for him whenever he is on my bed.

- I took him to the store weeks before I decided to start PTing.  I enthusiastically told him that he was "going to be a big boy soon" and that he was allowed to pick out his very own "big boy underpants!"  I held out some options and he picked Elmo (shocker!) and Nick Jr. cartoon characters.  I excitedly told him that Daddy wears big boy underpants and he (my son) would be wearing them soon too!  I ended up buying the little guy 20 pair of underpants.

- I stocked up on Clorox wipes to clean up messes and sanitize the potty chair after each use.  Though I'm partial to the Orange scent, the Fresh and Lemon scents aren't too bad.  Costco & Sam's Club each have a 4-pack that works out to pretty darn cheap per container. 

- For several weeks leading up to PTing, I would remind him that he was going to be a big boy soon and that meant that he could use the potty!  I was always upbeat and excited, like it was something to look forward to rather than something to dread.

- I would have him follow me to the toilet to rinse out his poopy diapers and toss all the dirty dipes in the diaper pail.  I would let him know that babies go potty in a diaper, but big boys wear underpants and go potty in the toilet.

- I also would point out younger children wearing diapers and specifically say that they are wearing "baby diapers" and I'd follow that up by mentioning that he'd be a "big boy" soon and wear his "big boy underpants."

- I cooked up plenty of meals that I packaged in single serve containers so that I wouldn't be distracted away from my son during the three days that I originally committed to potty training.

- Make sure to have plenty of snacks, juices, and fruits/veggies/high fiber foods on hand.  You do not want the child to get constipated while learning about the potty because it could scare them away from using the toilet.

- Make sure you have no reason to dash out to the store during the first three days.  Stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, tampons, milk, eggs, whatever you might need in those three days.

- Remember that accidents, while messy, are very helpful learning experiences.  How's that for a silver lining??

- The day that I decided to start began a little different than most days.  I had an early morning appointment and the little one tagged along.  On the way home, I talked up that this was the day he was going to become a big boy.

- We arrived home and I had him help me "throw away" his disposable diapers and pack away his cloth diapers.  I'll admit that I kept the disposable diapers - those suckers are wildly expensive!  The entire time, I kept chatting that he was going to be a big boy very soon.

- I let him pick out a pair of underpants.  I removed his diaper and put him in the underpants.  I told him that it was his responsibility to keep his underpants clean & dry.  He only had on a shirt and underpants, but no pants. 

- I told him that he needs to let Mama know if he has to go potty so we can run to the toilet.  I congratulated him on becoming a big boy and we started our day.

- I plied him with fluids and high-fiber snacks.  The idea is that you want to give them plenty of opportunities to go potty. 

- I probably said, "You need to let Mama know when you need to go potty," and "Do you have to go potty?" about 1,000 times in that first day alone.  I probably checked to see if he was clean & dry at least 500 times.  Okay, okay, those are exaggerations.  But I did both of these things every ten to fifteen minutes.  All. Day. Long.

- We didn't turn on the television once or have any friends over during the four days that we were at home so that I could remain totally focused on my son.  He was always within an arm's reach so that I could catch every accident as it was happening.

- We hugged and cuddled so much in these first days of potty training.  I did this for a couple of reasons: I wanted him to be close so that I could catch an accident as it was happening and I wanted to give him plenty of reassurance and love.

- When he started to have an accident, I'd hustle him to the restroom and on the potty chair.  I'd reassure him that everyone has accidents when they are learning how to be a big boy and I'd remind him that it's his responsibility to keep his underpants clean & dry.

- I'd have him help me clean up (and put the dirty underpants in what was formerly a diaper pail) after accidents and then let him pick out his fresh underpants.  Sometimes he'd want a new pair for no reason and I let him change if he wanted a different pair.  I think he liked having that control and, for being such a small thing, it sure made him happy.

- I found that the second day was worse than the first.  I think he was testing me to see if I'd give him back his diapers.  Once or twice I reminded him that we don't have diapers for him to use anymore.  I stuck with the plan and he ultimately ended up catching himself having accidents a couple of times and ran to the toilet on his own.

- My son was resistant to defecating in the toilet or potty chair.  I kept pushing the fruit juice (something he rarely gets so it really gets things, um, moving) and high-fiber foods.  The first time he did it in his potty chair, I gave him a special stuffed animal.  It wasn't like I made a big deal, though I did clap and let him know that he was such a big boy to make poo-poo in his potty chair, but I wanted to reward him for doing something that he clearly did not want to do.  I gave him a packet of gummy snacks or a cup of juice for each bowel movement for the first couple of weeks of potty training.  I phased it out pretty quickly though because I didn't want him to always expect a treat for doing something that he could easily do.

- I still used baby wipes to clean him up for a few weeks after beginning to potty train.  However, I called them "bathroom wipes" instead of "baby wipes" so as not to confuse him.  Remember, he was a big boy now so he wouldn't be using baby wipes.  These days I just use toilet paper on his bottom, which makes going potty in public much easier.

- I've found that my son doesn't usually have accidents during sleep.  This means that I don't have to change his bedsheets if I can grab him right when he wakes up.  I'll admit that this is tougher to do than it sounds and he still has the occasional night time accident.

- I initially began training him to use a potty chair, but I got him using the regular toilet as soon as he got it.  My reason is that cleaning a potty chair is just as unappealing as a diaper and using the regular toilet is less messy.  I also feared that he'd develop a potty chair habit that would make using a regular toilet somewhat uncomfortable.  That's also the reason that I didn't let him get used to going potty in the portable potty chair or using a portable toilet ring.  Life is easier and less messy this way.

- I have found that nocturnal accidents have stopped (except the night he had a high fever) since he moved to a big boy bed.  Perhaps he somehow made the connection that babies sleep in cribs and babies soil themselves so it must be okay to soil yourself if you sleep in a crib?  Or maybe it's just easier to get up, get out of bed, and call for help to get on the toilet?  I guess it could also be that he's all puffed up about being a big boy (with a big boy bed!) so he doesn't want to do "baby" things anymore?  I don't know the reason, but I thought I'd share the info in case your little one has a lot of night time accidents and is still in a crib.  Moving him to a toddler bed sure did end bed wetting for my son.

- If you cloth diaper (or even if you don't), I wonder if a fleece or wool pull-up style cover would help with night time accidents?  Has anyone tried this theory?  If so, please let me know.  I'm a PUL kinda gal and I never used either fleece or wool.

- You will probably need to leave your house at some point and you'll have to have a plan to deal with toileting, and possible accidents, while away from home.  It's helpful to plan this in advance.

- I liked having the Kalencom Potette Plus 2 in 1 because it is both a travel toilet ring, but also a stand-alone travel potty.  It uses plastic bags with an absorbent thing at the bottom so that urine doesn't splash around in the bag.  I keep it set up in the back of my car (for emergencies) and he had to use it a few times in the early weeks. 

- I began telling him to squeeze his muscles like he was stopping his pee so he could hold it when we were out.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes not, but these days he can keep his muscles squeezed long enough that we can always make it to a toilet.

- I have found that I must let him know that each place we visit has a toilet that he can use whenever he has to go potty.  Doing this has stopped all accidents when we're in public.

- I keep a fresh change of clothes in both my handbag and in my car.  Nothing fancy, just underpants and shorts in case they are needed.

I liked the all-or-nothing approach and it clearly worked well for us.  It's true that my primary objective was to get my son out of diapers, but it was very important to me that I not injure his psyche in the pursuit of a diaper-free household.  I know it's Freudian and all, but I did not want to cause him long-term damage because I was zealously pursuing my objective.  With that in mind, had my son been fearful (fear that I couldn't soothe) or tearful (tears that I couldn't soothe), I would have held off for another few weeks. 

Other than my one breakdown (which I detailed in one of the previous potty training posts), I was impossibly upbeat, encouraging, and enthusiastic during the entire process.  I never once raised my voice or was critical in the least.  This is a very foreign concept to a child and they may stubbornly cling to their diaper.  Losing their diaper might feel like a loss of security to a young child.  The longer they've had the diaper, I suspect the longer they want to keep it - up to a certain age anyway. 

Lora Jensen gives a specific age that she says is idea for PTing - 22 months.  I don't know about that, but I do think that young toddlers are certainly more pliable than an older child.  Possibly even more eager to please their parents too.  My son needed a fourth day at home and he was a little older (just shy of 24 months) than the age she specifies, so maybe she is right after all.  I'll also add that I needed the fourth day to boost my confidence in his ability to hold his potty until he was on a toilet.

My personal parenting philosophy is that I don't turn everyday events into battlegrounds.  This means that I don't fight with my son to eat meals, go to bed, use the toilet, and stuff like that.  I don't think that my way is the only way, but it worked wonderfully for us and I hope that this post has been helpful to potty training (or wanting to potty train) parents in my readership.