Monday, April 29, 2013

Potty Memories

Like the duct tape? No diaper wasted around here, Baby!

This little munchkin peed on the potty tonight. It was two tiny driblets, but I'm still counting it as a step closer to NO MORE DIAPERS EVAH!!!! When his brothers heard me squeal and clap, they ran into the bathroom clapping, did the "potty dance" and made up little songs to cheer their baby brother on. Sweet, huh?

Well, it would be if it weren't for this little known information. There is a jar of candy on the back of the toilet (appetizing, huh?). Max gets a piece every time he sits on the potty. To appease the bigguns, I told Reed and Calvin they could get a piece when his toilet experience is productive. Considering he's been sitting on the potty for months now and we've yet to experience anything other than a toot, a couple of accidental dribbles, and a turd falling out of a diaper, I didn't feel like the candy stash was in jeopardy. But if big brother cheer leading is effective, this boy'll  be fully trained in no time. The whole experience takes me down memory lane...

- Finally figured out how to open the valve on the potty seat. Made a big production of dumping it in the toilet and flushing it down. Repeated the whole process with ever-decreasing amounts of urine. Eleven times. In a row.
- Regressed and didn't want to sit on potty after awhile. Put him in undies, let him wet himself one time, and he's been dry ever since.

- Spent HOURS sitting on the potty reading a book about bears, cats, wolves, and monkeys. Homeboy had an impressive knowledge of species ("speck-ackled bear," "asiaaatic bear," "tarseeeir," "nooo - that's a macaque").
- Went on potty strike until we resorted to bribery. Placed a jar of "Starbur" in the bathroom. Let Reed have one every time Calvin did. Heard lots of, "Calvin, do you want to go paaah-tee?!"
- Finally had his big moment. We caught it on film. Cutest ever. He sat there with a look of concentration, then would start a high-pitched inhalation squeal-type sound, clap, and dance on the potty seat while big brother danced in the remaining 1 square foot of bathroom space (Ah, the circle of life...)

- Super interested at 18 months. Total disinterest after second birthday.
- Resorted to bribery. Still depends on the mood.
- No potty epiphany yet. Tonights dribble was a total accident and was followed by, "It's all gone! I can't! I get a candy!"

In case you're wondering... Heck yes, I get a candy every time they try. If reading the same book a bajillion times a day and maintaining enthusiasm through the eleventh round of the potty dance doesn't deserve a treat, I don't know what does!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why I'm Not Up for Mother of the Day Today

1) I made a walk sound boring so that Reed and Calvin would decide to stay home with Daddy and I could just take Max, who doesn't talk nonstop and want to brake for every puddle.
2) I was obviously happy to learn that Calvin had kicked out Reed's stubborn front tooth (it was so hanging by a thread that it had turned black) on the trampoline while I was gone.
3) When Max asked me to jump with him on the trampoline, I told him no because I was enjoying high speed Internet.
4) We ate cereal for supper tonight (sugary stuff -- like Colonel Crunchberries)
5) It was 7:30 p.m. when we started supper. Bedtime is 8:00.
6) I called daddy a "buttface" repeatedly in a sing-song voice because he was bragging about getting out of school a week earlier than the rest of the family.
7) I reminded the bigguns of a funny, yet inappropriate thing that Calvin did last summer.
8) Laughed at the "butt toot" contest that naturally followed. Potty humor runs deep here.
9) I thought the day was perfect.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Make Fancy Cookies AND Stay Out of the Insane Asylum

When I was a little girl, my mom’s family had a Christmas tradition. My mom and aunts would get all the cousins together and bake 7 million cookie cutter cookies. I loved it! And when I grew up, I always knew I’d carry that tradition on in some way. I bought a package of 100 animal cookie cutters just for fun. Then 100 random holiday ones. Then the entire alphabet. I was 21 at the time. Yes, I was a wild one.

I made Christmas cookies occasionally, but I was so excited when I finally had kids an excuse to make cute cookies all year. Reed’s first day care party Valentines were polka dotted monogram initials for each kid. I’m sure the birth-to-four year olds really appreciated the four hours it took me to roll out the dough, bake the cookies, delicately frost two letters for each child (one chocolate, one pink), and then polka dot each cookie by hand in the contrasting color. I even made extras of each letter in case there were any accidents. For Reed’s first birthday, I made number one cookies, and a new tradition was born.

#5s and Ninjagos

#7s, "dragons," and butt-ugly shields (mostly hidden)
(I promise Max gets # cookies too, but, like so many other things with the 3rd child, I didn't remember to get pictures. Or I did, but lost them.)

But somewhere along the way (ummm… I’m guessing it was when our second-born came along) the whole cookie thing got to be a little bit of a stressor. I seem to remember some fight with the hubs where I pulled the whole flour on the face, wiping of the forehead, “I’ve been slaving away over a hot oven all day” act and I was SO for real! So, below I share my tips on how to make fancy cookies without wanting to shoot yourself in the face. And a cookie recipe that has taken almost seven years of birthdays, Christmases, Valentine and Halloween parties to perfect. I have four of the transitional versions in my recipe box, but eventually came back to my mom’s buttery, yumilicious sugar cookie recipe with extra flour to make them roll-outable and almond extract to make them deliciouser. They are definitely the bomb!

Cookie Cutter Cookies
1 c sugar                                              1 t vanilla
 ½ c butter                                            1 t (or more!) almond extract
½ c shortening                                      1 egg
½ t cream of tartar                                2 ½ c flour
½ t baking soda

Cream wet ingredients and sugar. Add dry ingredients. Chill. Roll out about ¼ inch thick and bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Homemade Frosting
      ½ bag powdered sugar                    food coloring
 ½ stick butter, softened                         ¼ c cocoa powder (for chocolate)
1 t vanilla
1 t (or more!) almond extract
2 glubs of milk (that’s a highly scientific precision measurement. Look it up)

You may have to add milk or powdered sugar to get the desired consistency. I like mine thin enough that peaks start to “melt” on their own, but not right away.


1)      Make your dough in advance       
If the cookies are being made for a party that is being held at your house, you’re going to have to cook and clean. Don’t add this to your insane list. Make the dough and chill for a few days or freeze for a few weeks.
2)      Freeze the cookies
Even if you only make them a few days before you have to frost/serve them, pop them in the freezer so they still taste fresh. You don’t even have to take them out of the freezer that long before you frost.
3)      Set aside a night to frost
Watch TV or chat with a friend. If you’re slow or creative or anal, it may be a long night. Get the icing to a thin enough consistency that you can kinda push it up to where you want it. That’s the trick to getting smooth edges. You can also pipe the edges and fill in with runny icing, but this takes longer. I used to suck at frosting, but practice has made me WAY better. Now I just suck frosting.

When I know a party is coming up, I’ll make the dough a week or two before, the cookies the following day, and then ice them the night before the event so they’re fresh. The only night I may want to choke on a sprinkle is the frosting night, but it’s honestly not that bad.

Day care treats - "Jesus is the star of Christmas"

P.S. After making cookies with my kids umpteen times, I gotta say that my mom and her sisters were SAINTS! My two drive me nuts! (Max has yet to help – since he came along, I work at night or naptime!) I can’t imagine having eleven munchkins in on the action. I’m sure my childhood creations weren’t super pretty and the whole point was sharing the experience. Yada yada yada. Call me a crappy mom, but I may be a teensy bit of a perfectionist and decorating these cookies is one of my few opportunities to be “artsy” and creative. Plus I’m a control freak. And dinosaurs are not Christmasy. And blue is a stupid color for a heart. And bats do NOT match my “cute  monster” theme! So our “experience” is less warm, fuzzy cookie baking with mommy and more your-ideas-are-dumb, don’t-you-dare-mess-up-my-masterpieces! Sue me.

Stupid bats
That's more like it

Tips for when your kids want to “help”
-          Give them Play-doh and their own cookie cutters at the other end of the table.
-          Let them just play with the cookie cutters on the floor.
-          Make extra dough and let them make whatever cookies they want to eat at home. Dinos for Christmas – no problem!
-          Explain salmonella poisoning in great detail. They’ll be too terrified to sneak cookie dough.
-          Inform them that salmonella can’t be caught by adults. You won’t have to be sneaky (well aside from the whole lying thing…)
-          Let them help with the first batch, but tell them that when the timer dings, they can taste-test the results. They’ll totally lose interest once they have something to eat.
-          Let them frost animal crackers while you frost cookies.
-          Just say no and work after dark.

Lingerie cookies for my sister's bachelorette shower

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Duckling Dynasty

We're straight-up homesteadin' it up in here. Until recently, we were drinking our milk straight from the goat (well, not STRAIGHT from her) and even making butter and cheese. We birthed a lamb last weekend.

Call me Caroline Ingalls. Then, Pa borrowed an incubator and got 7 billion duck eggs. Ryan was all diligent about checking them, adding water to the incubator, candling the eggs every so many days, etc. I thought it was kinda cute, but honestly, I didn't really see the thrill. Until two days ago when the first little piplings started peeping from inside the eggs. Soon they were poking their beaks out. We went to bed with four cracked eggs and woke up to three fluffy ducks and one soon to be arriving. After school there were seven. Then tonight, we saw one just about to break free. It was after lights out for the big boys, but we had to call them in. We all watched in amazement as the little duckling struggled to finish pecking a circle around the base of the egg, then wrestle his way slowly out. I barely wanted to leave to grab my camera, but the action was slow enough that I made a break for it.
Reed and Calvin stood perched on the back of the love seat (which we reminded them was usually a major no no) for a better view. Reed said, "He's gonna be outta there for SURE tonight!" Calvin encouraged the little guy with, "Come on, little buddy, you can do it." Then he put his arm around Reed. I quickly raised my camera to get the shot, only to get this:

It wasn't a sweet "let's share this magical moment of life's wonder, brother" embrace, but rather a "this is getting kinda old, let's wrestle for a little while in between pecks" take down. Daddy got onto the boys, and Reed, picking himself off the love seat and out from under brother, echoed, "Yeah! This is a midnight privilege!" The things that boy comes up with sometimes...

The duck finally emerged, but his hiney was stuck in the skinny part of the egg. It was so pathetic. He looked like a wet weakling with his butt stuck in a bucket. Calvin asked him if he had to pee in there before he came out. When that got a good laugh, he upped the ante to pooping. We all agreed that we just wanted to pull the eggshell off for him, but Daddy explained how it was good for him to struggle to build up strength (that'll preach...) Then we checked out the new hatchling's way cuter siblings. Reed thought I should, "Take a picture of the fluffy duckies. Mimi will pass out!" (He knows his Mimi so well!) Calvin added that she would "scream like a little girl," to which Reed replied, "She IS a girl!"
This one's for you, Mimi

Where was Max during all this? Well, it wouldn't surprise me if he fell asleep on the floor. He's been undergoing a struggle of his own. He's conquered the baby gate we've borrowed to corral him at bed time. We've had to back it up with a chair so he can't push it down. Tonight, he figured out how to climb over the gate beside the chair. So, I added a second chair. Take that! Only it took him about five minutes to find the space between the chairs, shove his little beak through and wiggle his way to freedom. For some reason, though, when I watched this little Maxling trying to emerge from his home, I wanted to shove him back in the egg and tell him to stop peeping. No midnight privileges for that one...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wipe Out

I’m still wiping one little tushy, butt I thought I was done having to give a “final wipe” to the other bums in the house until the other day. 

We had snuck out while Max was sleeping to jump on the trampoline, because after a while butt busters and “lotsa butt busters” and “Hold me!” get kinda old. So we were doing “combinations.” This activity originated last summer as a cool way to show off one’s athletic prowess through a series of moves - pike, splits, back-buster with a twist, etc. and daring others to copy it--sort of the HORSE of the trampoline (minus the letters - there are no winners and losers in this PC game). Now it consists of one person putting on a stupid little show about their favorite video game or movie and everyone else trying to remember who comes first, King Gooba or Yoshi. So when it was my turn to make up the combinations, I decided to break from my “cool to boys, but still sweet-looking” Ninja kicks and instead give them a taste of their own medicine. My combination included a ballerina, princess, butterfly, and fairy - all four-letter words to my rambunctious crew. Reed took it like a man, sucked in his cheeks (that’s his embarrassed face), and pirouetted with his eyes permanently rolled. Calvin was having none of it. He made a mad, trying-not-to-smile face, crossed his arms forcefully, then turned around and mooned me.

Besides his butt-cheeks, Calvin also revealed to me that maybe I should still be giving him a final wipe. I know I should have given him a serious talking to about voyeurism, but like the conscientious mom I am, I decided instead to laugh - and make fun of his striped tail. He denied it, but when we went inside for Wiping 101 class, the proof was on the paper. Piece after piece.

I always said that boy has an ornery streak. I just didn’t know how wide it was.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Of Chicken Turds and Mohawks

After enjoying the (finally) warm spring weather, the boys came in, dirty like I like ‘em. At first I just thought the junk in Calvin’s hair was straw. He’s always rolling around in some random spot outside. But the stretchy, sticky string coming from his fingers revealed this would be a much messier situation. It was gum. This shouldn’t surprise me. This from the boy who stored a half-eaten apple core in the dusty cup holder of the van. For a week. 

When I asked him how he got gum in his hair, he said, “I was just trying to get it from the chair in the van.” Apparently, he has this thing that he does where he stretches his gum out of his mouth, sticks it to a filthy surface, then eats to said surface inch by stringy inch. Also apparently, he missed his mouth. So, I opened a jar of Jif and spread it on his forehead with a knife. He (and big brother) thought this was a fun new addition to the gum game. I was less than amused. As I worked the gum out, piece by tiny piece, I set some ground rules about gum (which I assumed were assumed, but you know what assuming does...) The first rule, “Keep gum IN YOUR MOUTH!” resulted in this conversation:

C: But then I can’t play that game with Reed!
M: What game?
C: On the trampoline!
M: What game on the trampoline? 
C: Duck, duck, goose.
M: What does that have to do with gum?
C: You say duck, duck, and then when you say goose, you spit out the gum and chase and see who gets there first.
M: Why would you spit your gum out? Are you spitting gum in the yard?!
C: No! On the trampoline.
M: Where does it go?
C: (pantomimes picking up a piece of gum and popping it in his mouth, complete with sound effects, of course. Of these he is king.)
M: Sigh.

I made him go to Dad and explain the mess. First he lied and said he “couldn’t remember” why he had a peanut butter mohawk. After a lecture about “little stupid mistakes” being a lot better than being a liar, his amnesia was cured. He got another lecture about general nastiness. I reminded him of the bird poop we’ve found on the trampoline. Daddy offered to find him a chicken turd if that’s what he liked to chew on. And then he washed his hair twice, endured my sniff check, and went to bed, no doubt dreaming of other turdly endeavors to undertake tomorrow.