The Race to the Potty

Charlotte jumped up and walked quickly to a far corner of the basement. I looked up and asked, “Are you pooping?!”

“Yes!” (With all the sass and know-it-all inflection a two-year-old can muster.) 

This is the “gun shot” that begins our race… 

“Go upstairs to the potty! Go! Go! Go!” 


I have never climbed stairs faster than during potty training. I would like to say this is because I’m supermom, and I’m that excited to help my daughter…

In reality, the potty is a shining trophy and I am the winner. Pooping in the potty means I don’t have to scrub a brown booty, and there is zero chance of poo finding its way onto my hands or under my finger nails. 

Potty training is really about me. 

Tonight’s potty training victory was wonderful, but it’s a rarity. We have yet to fully train our toddler. We have tried many tactics, but I appear to be losing the long race (despite the occasional short gain).

Bribery – This worked well for a little while, but quickly tapered off in its appeal. Of course, she still expects treata, it’s not enough to entice her to use a potty with regularity. 

Run Around Naked – I’m not sure why we thought this was a good idea?! I cleaned pee off several carpeted and uncarpeted floors. Hey, at least it wasn’t poop! 

Asking – Charlotte is my child. If you ask/remind her to do something every 30 minutes, she is going to lash out with an unforeseen rage.

Move the Potty – We brought the potty into the living room for easier use. It became a new chair for lounging. 

Fighting/Forcing – This was the worst idea by far. She met every bit of my force with equal (and often greater) resistance. 

Many parents tell us that Charli will be potty-trained when she is ready. While I know they are probably right, it doesn’t do much for me now.

In the meantime, we shall continue our race to the potty until that wonderful day when we no longer have to run. 

Let’s hope that day comes sooner rather than later!

Mommy vs. TV

Charlotte’s obsession with television reached a level that demanded action. I ripped the TV from the outlet, hauled it to the curb and left it for the trash pickup!

I also took a sledge hammer to it, lit it on fire and ran over it with my car for good measure. 

… In my mind. 

I wouldn’t really do any of those things. I don’t know that I’m strong enough to carry it to the curb, and HOS would be livid if I destroyed his TV! 

I did take action, though! Of course, it was a little more rational than the imagined mental breakdown. 

Rather than trying to combat the TV with toys – and failing – I decided it was time for a different strategy. 

Last weekend, we went to the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library where Charli and HOS player while I picked out a number of books. Each book was about a different topic, one for each day of the week.

I teach on Monday night so I wasn’t home for activities, but we kicked TV’s butt the rest of the week! 

Tuesday – We went shopping for a little while. HOS and Charlotte read Bronterina and danced around the living room before bed. 

Wednesday – We read Mr. King’s Castle (no less than five times!) and we built “castles” using Charli’s imagination magnets

Thursday – We read The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and Thump, Thump, Rat-A-Tat-Tat. We painted a blue horse, green dog, a pink sheep and a brown monkey before bath time. 

Friday – HOS and I went out with friends. My niece watched Charli. They played outside, read all kinds of books and played on the LeapFrog tablet. I was very impressed when I checked in via our security camera and saw a blank TV!

Charlotte isn’t feeling well today. She has a lot of congestion and a rough cough. Despite attempts to get her away from the TV, we spent most of the day cuddling and watching shows. I know a battle worth fighting. We already had enough meltdowns without forcing her to turn off the TV. 

All together, I’m extremely happy with how well the books paired with activities worked. Charli’s behavior was improved, and by Friday, she was hardly asking to watch a show. 

That’s mommy 1 and TV … Well, the important thing is we are on the right track! 

How do you keep your children entertained without TV? 

A Lesson in Humility

I’m terrible about vehicle maintenance. TERRIBLE.

I’m so terrible about the maintenance, that I often wait until the last possible moment to fill my tank with gas. It’s not that I can’t afford it or that I don’t have the time. I just don’t think about it.

Friday morning, at about 5:25 am, it caught up to me.

I was at a stoplight less than a block away from my 5:30 am bootcamp. I knew I was pushing the limits of my gas tank, so I was planning to stop at the gas station on the corner. (The corner I was sitting at.) Random bright red lights all turned on on my dash. I thought that was a little strange, but what did I know about cars. I didn’t even know what half the lights meant…

It took less than 5 seconds for me to find out. Those lights were the desperate plea from my car to give it gas. They were my car’s last words.

Then she died.


At 5:25 am, just inside the entrance to the gas station. I was a mere 20-25 yards from the pump. So close, and yet…

I popped my car into neutral, walked around the back and pushed as hard as I could. I cannot describe how pathetic I looked as my car nudged forward an inch (if that)! I pushed again and again. When I stood up to catch my breath, the car rolled backward losing what little ground I had gained.

Naturally, I laughed.

A few years ago, I would have cried or yelled. I would have called someone to come help me, but no good friend should call someone at 5:30 am to ask for help pushing their car 25 yards. That’s embarrassing, people!

I switched up my strategy. I have no arm strength, but I’ve always had solid quads! I leaned my back against my car, squatted low and pushed with my legs. Ha-HA!

Ok, so it wasn’t a complete success, but it was better than pushing with my arms.

By this point, one car had gone around me and another car was passing by. A man in a beat up vehicle was on his phone, smoking a cigarette when I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. His car slowed as he drove by me. I’m sure I looked pretty comical in my feeble attempts to push my car.

Two seconds later, he rolled down his window and said, “Do you need some help?”

“YES!” without hesitation.

He told someone on the phone that he would call them right back. He hopped out and told me to steer. Well, that’s a little presumptive, right?


It took less time for this scrawny, wonderful person to push my car to the pump than it took me to make and lose 6 inches of ground.

I thanked this stranger over and over. I considered hugging the guy, but I realized that would be super awkward. I thought about offering him money, but thought it might insult him. Instead, I smiled and I thanked him for saving me.

I watched as he drove away, and I learned something about myself.

I was not worthy of that man’s help. Any day of the week, I wouldn’t have thought twice about some random, scrawny guy smoking a cigarette in a beat up car. I would have probably passed judgement on him for no reason at all. Yet, he is the one to stop and help me. He probably had somewhere to be (why else would you be out and about that early?), but he took the time to offer help to a person in need.

I’m big about helping others, donating money, giving time, etc. Somewhere along the lines, I created this misguided perception of what a person in need looks like. It’s only fitting that a little divine intervention would put my in my place.

We are all people in need. And every one of us has the potential to be a hero.

The minute you forget that, you’ll receive a gentle reminder from the man upstairs.

Also, I need to work on my arm strength. That was very, very sad.

Emotional Disaster: Wedding Planning Without My Mom

Planning my wedding has reopened a wound in my heart that took years to heal. Learning to cope with the loss of someone you love is never easy, and those of us who are left behind will experience events in our lives – like planning a wedding – that will weaken our emotional infrastructure and leave us vulnerable and fragile.

The most difficult part of planning my wedding is not having my mom. There is a laundry list of experiences we will not share because she was taken from me far too soon.

I felt like I was handling the emotions well, but HOS, Charli and I spent the weekend in Nebraska with my mom’s side of the family. Simply being in Nebraska makes me think of mom. And today, at my mom’s sister’s house, I saw the buffet that stood in our kitchen for as long as I can remember. I touched the smooth wood, opened the drawers and the cupboard doors that were once filled with mom’s things. For a second, I felt like I was back home, and that she would come around the corner.

My emotional support beams were weakened.

My aunt gave me a gift when we left. She told me tonight that she needed to do it for my mom. She went on to tell me that before mom died, the two of them cried knowing that mom would not be here for my wedding day.

Any remaining emotional stability has since been washed away by a steady flow of silent tears that I can’t seem to suppress.

Charlotte asked me to cuddle with her when she was going to sleep. I lay next to her, cupping her face with my hand and poured tears onto her pillow while she sucked her fingers and stared into my eyes. I made her promises that I can’t make. They aren’t mine to make, but I made them any way.

“I will be there when you grow up.”

“I will be there when you get married.”

“I will be there when you have your babies.”

And with each statement, that precious little girl would say, “Ok, mama.”

Then, she removed my hand from her face. Charli reached out and stroked my cheek. She smoothed my hair and gently caressed my face with her little toddler hand for a few minutes before booping me on the noise.

Charlotte is so innocent and beautiful and filled with loved. Those sweet three minutes or so told me something I’ve never considered before…

Of course my mom cried knowing she would not be here, but it was more than that. I know her better than that. Her tears were just as much for me as they were for her. She knew that I would be here, puffy-eyed, mascara-stained and heartbroken as I’m about to marry the man I love more than any other. She didn’t want that for me any more than she wanted to miss my wedding day.

In an emotional disaster, not unlike a natural disaster, there is only one thing to do after the storm passes – rebuild. Nail by nail, board by board, I will reconstruct my emotional stability. Maybe I’ll find some reinforcements to prevent another collapse. Lord knows, I don’t need to breakdown at the wedding!

Let the rebuilding begin.


Glimpses of Jim

“I wish you could have met Jim.”

Adam kicked back in his recliner on Monday and told me stories about hanging out with HOS and Jim (HOS’ dad). There was something about the goofy smile on his face and the glean in his eye that was so genuine it was almost painful.

He laughed at his own stories of taking Jim’s ATV for a joy ride in the middle of the night only to have Jim come outside half naked and hollering. Adam and HOS would sit around and shoot the breeze with Jim while he drank his whiskey drink.

I recall the only picture of Jim that I see with frequency. It’s a snapshot of Jim on his office. He has white hair and beard. He is wearing glasses, a farmer hat and a sweatshirt. I don’t know what he sounds like, but HOS has shown me a video of him once before. I want to know what it is about Jim that makes Adam look the way he did when he talked about Jim.

Adam says that HOS is just like his dad. Mama HOS and his sister say the same thing, too, so it must be true!

I think I catch glimpses of it. Is that possible? Can I see pieces of someone I never met in my fiancé?

I think I hear it when HOS starts talking about taking care of the family. … Or complains about the weather, or “kids these days,” or my inability to remember where I parked my car and/or put my keys.

I think I see it in the way he shakes his head is amazement at people – not good amazement, think dumbfounded amazement. Or in the way he looks at Charlotte and plays with her. I think I see his dad in the lines he creates when he rubs his head when he is stressed (or mad).

I wish I could have met Jim, too. Beyond that, I wish he could have met Charli. I imagine he would have had the same look on his face that HOS did, a look layered with love, joy, fear, and determination to make sure the world doesn’t lay one finger on her precious body.

I think I would have liked Jim quite a bit.

Year-End Resolution Review – 2014

With 2014 quickly coming to a close, I’m weighing my new year resolution options. I decided the best way to determine my goals for moving forward would be to look at the goals I set for 2014.

That was a terrible idea.

Last year, I posted a blog with the following resolutions for 2014:

  • HOS and I resolve to dedicate more time to our relationship by having monthly date nights.
  • I resolve to pay more than the minimum payment on my debts while saving money weekly.
  • I resolve to decrease TV and technology time, so I can increase one-on-one time with my family.
  • I resolve to be thankful for the blessings given to me and mine.
  • I resolve to read one new book each month.

Little did I know, I was setting myself up for failure!

I was apparently thinking very highly of myself when I created this list because I chose not one, not two, not three, but FIVE goals. Who does that? Most people can’t complete one resolution, and I thought it best to set five.

Makes sense.

I can’t say that I failed completely. HOS and I did not achieve our monthly date night every month. We were probably around 75 percent, but we did it! We took time for us.

Ugh. Money. I’m going to be honest. I am terrible with money. I am terrible at saving. Let’s hope HOS takes over all monetary business when we get married. I did, however, pay more than the monthly minimum nearly ever time, so there is that.

We have made a lot of positive strides regarding Charlotte’s excessive desire to only watch TV and/or play a game on one of our games. It’s an uphill battle, especially with technology being so engrained these days. I’ll keep nagging HOS to put his phone away. He loves that.

Charlotte and I have been working on thankfulness. I think I could spend my whole life focusing on my blessings and giving thanks, and I would still owe God or someone a debt of gratitude.

Lastly, and sadly, I had hoped to read a book every month. That definitely did not happen. I bought a lot of books. I heard about friends reading books. I, myself, may have read a few books. I started reading some books, but never finished.

SO, all-in-all, if I were to grade the result of my resolutions, I would grant myself a C. Knowing all this, what should I resolve to accomplish in 2015?

What is a resolution that will really matter for me or my family?

*sigh* I was trying to think of something witty, but I realized what I need to do in 2015.

In 2015, I will set aside my fears, distractions, insecurities and general excuses and I will make a concerted effort to get Charlotte’s Mr. Elephant books published.

What is your new year’s resolution?

Yes, I Gave My Toddler a Pacifier

Tonight, I intentionally persuaded my two year old to take a pacifier.

I know. You probably think I’m terrible.

Let me explain… When Charlotte was born, HOS and I agreed that we did not want her to use a pacifier. Lucky for us, Charli started sucking on her index and middle finger of her left hand from day one!

Naively, we thought the finger sucking was adorable, innocent and far more convenient than any pacifiers. Twenty-nine months later, we are in the beginning stages of a losing battle to kick the habit.

Charlotte isn’t conscious of her finger sucking issue. We ask her to stop, and she removes her fingers only to pop them back in a few moments later. She sucks her finger so hard, she is starting to develop blisters and callouses.

Tonight, she held out her hand to show me two deep grooves from her teeth! She is biting and sucking on them so hard she has sores!

I gave up!

I offered her the only alternative I knew. And you know what, I’m not even sorry. I would rather teach her to use the pacifier and then break her of that habit than let her continue sucking her fingers.

What do you do to help your children overcome their bad habits?


Husband of Sorts is No More

You won’t be reading much about HOS on the blog moving forward… As of Tuesday, December 9, HOS is no longer my boyfriend.

He is my fiancé!!!

There are not enough exclamation points and smiley faces to adequately express my feelings. 🙂

How did he ask me?! Well, Let me tell you.

I came home to him pulling dinner out of the oven. I need to pause here for a moment. This is HUGE! HOS is a picky eater, so he hasn’t needed to cook. Ever. It’s crazy, I know.

We have had several conversations about cooking. Basically, I wanted some help in the kitchen. Coming home to find him pulling dinner out of the oven was a great moment in and of itself. I was elated to have the help, so I was hugging on HOS, giving him kisses and telling him thank you. I decided to razz him a little and said, “next thing you know, you’ll be proposing to me.”

The next thing I knew, HOS went upstairs. When he came back down, he had a black box. He had this smile on his face. I know he said something briefly as he handed me the box and dropped on his knee. I can’t tell you what he said. I was staring, dumbfounded, at the most beautiful ring!

HOS asked me to marry him, and I kept asking if he was serious, and is this was “for real.” I could hardly see through the rivers of tears running down my face.

There have been a few truly perfect moments in my life. One was Charlotte’s birthday, and one was this proposal.

Charli made it even better when I turned to show her my ring, and she said, “that’s MINE!”

I’m excited for the next chapter of my life with my beautiful little family. I love them more than they will ever know.

… Stay tuned for rants about wedding planning, bittersweet moments without my mom, and pitiful moments of wedding ignorance. 🙂


Thanks, Mama HOS

It’s Thanksgiving night, and I have thousands of reasons to give thanks. God blesses me and mine more than we deserve. Tonight, though, I want to focus on my gratitude for HOS’ mom.

Mama HOS is amazing on so many levels. She is strong, determined, loyal and fierce. She is also gentle, loving, generous and kind.

Mama HOS doesn’t mess around when it comes to her life and her family. Because of that, she spoils the pants off all of us. There is no favor too big or too small. She takes care of her family. I could share one hundred reasons I’m thankful for her.

My #1 reason I’m thankful for Mama HOS is her pure, vast love for Charli.

This afternoon, I watched Mama HOS rock Charlotte. She whispered softly to Charli and made up stories while gently caressing Charlotte’s hair.

I excused myself from the room and went to find HOS. He took one look at me and asked if I was ok. I started crying and told him about his mom and Charlotte in the next room. I couldn’t explain why I was crying, but my heart couldn’t handle that scene without overflowing!

I think I have a better understanding now. I cried because I am thankful.

I’m thankful Mama HOS is here.

I’m thankful Charli has family nearby.

I’m thankful HOS’ family wants to have a close relationship with her.

I’m thankful that, while my mom can’t be here to rock Charlotte and love on her, Mama HOS (and Nana Sue) will fill that role and be so amazing. That is so hard for me because no one will be my mom, but damn, these grandmas are just right for my baby.

And now, I’m crying again.

Thanks, Mama HOS! 🙂


Beautiful, With or Without the Lip Gloss

Charli stood in my doorway this weekend begging for help with her “makeup.” I twisted her lip gloss open and gently applied the smallest amount of shine to her pink toddler smile. She grinned, smacked her lips and said,

“I’m beautiful!”

Without skipping a beat, I said, “yes, you are, but makeup doesn’t have anything to do with it!”

Even at two years old, Charlotte is aware of beauty. She watches me get ready in the morning – style my hair and put on my makeup. We read Sleeping Beauty, a story in which three fairies could give Aurora anything, and they give her beauty and great singing voice. (Gag) But Charli loves it.

She wants to put on makeup with me.

She wants to be the princess from books.

There is nothing wrong with Charlotte wanting these things. I refuse to worry about them. I could spend endless hours reading blogs about how one parent says to raise my child, or what psychologists believe caused body issues. I could become so obsessed with being the “perfect” mother for Charli.

But I won’t… Because the “perfect” mother doesn’t exist.

There is only me.

And I already received some awesome parenting advice on body image.

My mom owned one bottle of mascara and one blush. I don’t know that she ever wore either of those things during the 18 years I knew her. She didn’t need it. She didn’t define herself by clothes, hair or makeup. She was a mom, wife, friend, teacher, follower of Christ. Her actions, not her appearance, told the world who she was.

Now, I’m not naive enough to believe my mom was 100 percent happy with her physical appearance. She would go through slim-fast phases, not unlike my calorie-counting phases. That was the only evidence I had of any insecurities, though. She hid her feelings about her body or appearance from her children. Instead of focusing on outer beauty, mom taught me modesty and humility. She taught me kindness, love, charity, discipline, honesty and strength. I could go on… In essence, mom taught me the beauty of being an amazing person.

I’m not like my mom. Those are some big shoes to fill! I do things a little differently, and you’re very welcome for my diligent use of make-up! I absolutely have issues with my personal appearance. But I’m not worried about Charli.

She comes from a long line of beautiful women. Lip gloss or not, mascara and blush or not, her actions will demonstrate her beauty.

Granted, we have a little while before we get there. She is only two!