Archive | September, 2011

Adventures in Toilet Training – Part Two

29 Sep

Read Part One of Lori’s toilet training process by clicking here.

This week my baby is fifteen months old!  He definitely prefers the “regular” potty to the “training” or baby potty.  I went ahead and put the training potty in the back of my car for future emergencies.

This week I’ve been putting him in Pull Ups during the day.  I’m taking it slower with him, because everyone has told me it will be more difficult to train a boy.  I’m on the no-pressure plan.  I put him on the potty every morning after he wakes up and before he gets dressed.  I put him on the potty several times during the day, either when he tells me he needs to go (by signing “pee” or “poop”), or I can visually read his cues (like when he’s grunting in a squat, I know he’s pooping).  I also put him on the potty every night before bed.

I feel successful at this point if he uses the potty at least once a day.  He usually exceeds my expectations.  He only communicates his need to use the potty about half of the time he actually goes, but he’s been using the potty on average about twice daily.

He loves getting the positive encouragement when he goes.  He is eager to go tell everyone, and when anyone mentions it to him, he grins from ear to ear!  I’ve been talking to him a lot about what it feels like to be “dry” and “clean” as opposed to “wet” and “dirty”.  Whenever he poops in his Pull Up, I physically dump the poop from the Pull Up into the potty and show him, “This is where the poop goes!”  He then helps me flush it down and wave goodbye.

He doesn’t seem to need much incentive other than verbal praise.  He loves the toilet paper, to the point of obsession, so when he does go potty in the toilet, I give him a square of toilet paper which he then joyously shreds to tiny pieces.

Soon, I’m planning on doing the hard core training.  Stay tuned!

Tips for Breathing Easier this Fall

28 Sep

Last Saturday evening, my husband and I attended an outdoor wedding at the Dallas Arboretum.  The setting was gorgeous—as was the bride and her party.  During the ceremony, I found myself getting teary.  No, I wasn’t overcome with emotion.  Rather, ragweed was the culprit.

Unlike many who suffer through the pollen in spring, my allergies rear their gunky heads every fall.  I’m the one dabbing her eyes, honking into her hankie and swallowing my sneezes this time of year.  I don’t take allergy meds because they often have a reverse reaction, making me hyper.  My most useful strategies are showering at night and changing my pillow case every day so I’m not making myself worse while I sleep.

I’m not alone.  At least 40 million Americans suffer some kind of seasonal allergy.

In this case, the nose knows.

“Sinus health is the foundation for good respiratory health,” says Mike Tringale, vice president at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).  “And we are increasingly finding that relieving nasal congestion makes a huge impact on the quality of life for people of all ages.”

AAFA offers some tips for reducing sinus symptoms, whether they’re caused by allergies, a cold or the flu:

  • To reduce your chance of catching a cold, avoid touching your face or nose.  Wash your hands with hot water and soap regularly, especially after being in public places like stores, schools or offices.
  • Get a flu shot each year to try to avoid getting the flu.  However, if you feel flu-like symptoms, talk to your doctor within the first few days to get medications that will reduce the severity.
  • Manage your seasonal allergies by reading daily pollen counts and limiting your outdoor exposure on high-pollen days, and keep windows and doors closed during the morning hours before noon, when pollen tends to be most prevalent in the air.

Good luck!  Here’s hoping we all thrive this autumn outside and in!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 38 (Turning Off the TV)

25 Sep


Well here it is, Sunday, and I have successfully completed this Feat!  It wasn’t easy; I had to constantly remind myself – and my husband – that I couldn’t watch TV.  It’s normal for us to watch a show or a movie after the kids go to bed, and that was a hard thing to skip out on.  I don’t watch much TV during the day, but at night when I’m exhausted, it’s about all I have energy for!

But I’m so glad I did it, because it did lead to some fun opportunities.  One night, my husband and I played Scrabble!  Another night, we went for a walk at the park while the kids were at their grandparents’ house.  And on another night, I went out for a walk around the neighborhood alone.  Heavenly.

And the reading…oh the reading!  I finished an entire book and started another one.  And these are “just for fun” books, not Book Club books!  That feels so luxurious.  From now on, I am definitely going to think twice before mindlessly reaching for that remote!


You may not want to hear this, but this week is National TV Turnoff Week!  (I kind of don’t want to hear that, either.)  So I’m making that my Feat for the week.  I don’t watch a lot of TV, but if I include all kinds of screen time (facebook on my laptop, solitaire on my iPad), I’m sure I rack up a lot more than I realize.

According to

“Screen time cuts into family time and is a leading cause of obesity in both adults and children. Excessive use of screens for recreational purposes leads to a more sedentary and solitary lifestyle and that is unhealthy for all of us, both mentally and physically.”

This week, I’m going to make a concerted effort to cut WAY down on my screen time.  (I still have to work on my computer and check emails!)  I plan to get a lot of reading done.  I have a stack of books a mile high on my nightstand that I’m dying to read, plus some favorites that I really want to re-read, like the Twlight series and The Shadow of the Wind.

I have to be honest, it doesn’t hurt that two of my favorite shows (True Blood and Torchwood) just ended their seasons, so I won’t have to miss them this week.  But hey, it’s not my fault!  That was just a happy coincidence.

I’m dragging my kids along with me, but that will be my little secret.  If I tell them that we’re not going to watch TV all week, they will seriously wonder why they’re being punished!  I’ll just try to keep them occupied in other ways, like scrubbing toilets.  (So far today, with 2 sick kids, it’s not going so well – all they want to do is watch TV!)

I invite all of you to join National TV Turn Off Week with me.  Leave those sets dark, and see what else you can accomplish with that time.  Exercise!  Read a book!  Take a walk outside and enjoy this nice, cool(er) weather!

Enjoy life!

Check Your Child’s Car Seat!

23 Sep

Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children’s car seats checked on National Seat Check Saturday, September 24.  As part of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 18-24), certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice free of charge.

For more information, click the link below:

Adventures in Toilet Training – Part One

21 Sep

This week, I started potty training my 14-month-old son, using the method I posted about a few weeks ago.  I knew he was ready when he started walking, wanting to sit on the potty, was communicating well, and was copying everything I was doing!

I started by putting a training potty just outside of the powder bathroom (the bathroom most utilized during the day).  Whenever I would use the bathroom, I’d invite him to come along and showed him where he could sit.  I picked out some interesting books for him, which I put in a basket next to his potty.

I talked about what I was doing, showed him how to sign “pee” and “poop”, and let him help me flush the toilet and wave goodbye.

Every morning before I dressed him and every evening before putting him to bed, either my husband or I would sit him on the potty.  One of the first few times we did this, he peed!  We got SO excited!  His two big sisters ran into the bathroom, we chanted the big boy chant, and he gave daddy high fives.  His smile beamed from ear to ear.  I knew he understood and was ready.

It became clear after a few times that he was going to be more interested in using the regular potty with the drop down child size seat, just like his sister did.  (How did I know?  He’d refuse to sit on the little potty and would point to the big potty and say, “that”.  It was pretty obvious!)

One of his favorite pastimes has become sitting on the potty and having me read to him.  I recently joked with my husband that I wondered if he was manipulating me, having quickly learned that telling me he has to potty is a quick and easy way to get my undivided attention sometimes for as long as it takes for someone else to need me!  Either way, I’m happy to oblige!

He picked up on the signs for “pee” and “poop” pretty quickly and can sign them back to me now.  I’ll ask him every once in a while if he needs to potty.  He will either shake his head “no”, at which time we continue doing what we are doing, or he will sign back and we will run to the potty.  A few times he’s come to me, signing that he needs to go!

He loves to mess with the toilet paper.  I’ve had to dismantle it and take it off the roll and put it out of reach.  Now, I use it as a reward.  If he goes in the potty, he gets to have some toilet paper to shred and put into the toilet.  If he doesn’t, it stays out of reach.

I find that the poop training is generally easier.  I could always tell when my kids were about to poop.  They assumed the position, being that of a sumo wrestler!  They usually made grunting noises to boot.  Whenever I see that happening, I swoop and scoop; pick up the toddler and run him to the potty!

He’s still in diapers because I am too cheap to buy Pull Ups until we are completely out of them.  I’ve got his big boy underwear all ready for Phase II!  So far, he’s peed about 5 times and pooped once in the potty!  Not too bad for the first week!

Celebrating Grandparents (Particularly Those in Special-Needs Families!)

20 Sep

September is National Grandparents Month, and I’m overwhelmed once more thinking how much my parents have done for my family, particularly my 15-year-old daughter with autism.  My mother flew from California to join us for Paige’s neurology appointment in the spring of 2000, the horrible one during which she received the definitive autism diagnosis.  A year later, my parents moved here from the Silicon Valley to support us.  Five years after that, when I gave birth to Paige’s baby brother, my mom came over every school morning before 7 a.m. to watch Chip so I could get Paige off to school.

My dad’s no slacker, either.  He’s provided boundless financial and emotional support—neither of which I can imagine doing without.  He has bonded with our neurotypical son, Chip, to the extent that they have LEGO playdates, go see movies together and just talk.

All grandparents who choose to involve themselves (in a thoughtful, encouraging way) in the lives of their children’s kids deserve high praise.  It can be tricky sometimes with a disabled child, especially one like my own who is non-verbal.

In honor of National Grandparents Month, Autism Speaks (the nationwide nonprofit founded by grandparents of a child with autism) has created A Grandparent’s Guide to Autism.  This family support tool kit is designed to help guide and encourage grandparents to establish positive and successful relationships with their grandchildren and the rest of their families.

Click here to read A Grandparent’s Guide to Autism or visit Grandparents Autism Network at

52 FEATS – NUMBER 37 (Not Eating Fast Food)

19 Sep

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.


I did great on not eating fast food, but I was a total, 100% bust on doing yoga this week.

I started out the week with a sick kid and a husband out of town.  The kid ended up getting better, then got sick again.  Then the other kid got sick, too.  And that taught me an important lesson: You can’t control life, especially when you have kids.  You’ve gotta learn to roll with the punches.

But I was glad for the fast food ban, because it really made think twice before I ate.  I learned that while I did crave the foods themselves, I was also craving the convenience they offered.  But it wasn’t that difficult to make myself something at home instead, and I saved money and calories to boot.  Win-win.


Pretty self-explanatory:  Fast food is gross, I eat it too much, and it sets a bad example for my kids.  But I will miss it – it’s going to be a long week.

Since I’m combining that with a second try on my yoga-intensive week (see Feat Number 36 here), I fully expect to lose 10 pounds in the next seven days or life just isn’t fair!

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