Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There Will Be Poop

Potty-training (toilet-training?) is always an interesting combination of parental optimism, manifested in high-pitched praise, clapping, and marshmallows and that depressing realism manifested in grinding teeth, muffled swearing, and the admission you really can't MAKE anyone do anything. Let alone an almost three year-old.

This juxtaposition confuses both parent and child. It's like the best of intentions get slapped in the face by a stinky reality you chose to ignore. The really stinky, messy, you-Clorox-but-you-still-know-it's-there reality. I'm really not that impressed that my almost three year-old can "tinkle in the potty" because I think he should already be doing it by now, but I'm pretending in order to trick him into doing it in order to gain my approval. I'm bribing him with a loud fire-truck I wouldn't normally buy. Isn't that weird? Blatantly manipulative? But what's the alternative?

This is the part of the blog where you think about it, offer silent suggestions in your head about what you've done, what your sister does, what that one neighbor did, and what Dr. Brazzleberry told you to do, and then, ultimately, agree with me. As the saying goes, you can lead a child to the toilet, but you can't make him care about how much you have to clean up.

This trial of bodily functions has me thinking about how much calculated manipulation is needed in successfully raising children. How do I get my kids to pick up after themselves? To "just say no" and everything else I want them to do or not do to be responsible adults? Before I had children I thought that my excellent reasoning skills would guide them through life, but now I know it's just extra video game time, and treats. He will not potty-train himself because he's uncomfortable sitting in his own filth. He's quite content to do that. He will not potty-train himself because he smells bad or because he's spreading germs that will make us all sick all over the house. He's perfectly content to do those things as well. I know that in order to potty-train my son I will need to use bribery. I've been around the toddler block before. I tried to hide vegetables in their food, but just as the purees were silently chilling in the freezer, I read an article in Bon Appetit! that referenced the cookbook Deceptively Delicious (and, on a side note, apparently not the brain child of Jessica Seinfeld--but that's another scandal for another time) saying, ultimately, what does eating mac and cheese with cauliflower and beans snuck in teach kids? It teaches them to eat mac and cheese, it doesn't each them to eat their veggies. Touche, Jessica. (That'll teach me from a. taking advice from privileged celebrities, b. taking advice from a mother whose children are still little, and c. doing extra work)

I take comfort in the fact that I have successfully potty-trained three other children and they all did it for different reasons, using a different technique. The intricate recipe involves a lot of praise and some stern warnings sprinkled with M&M's over about a week's time. So, despite my superior reasoning skills, I know what the next few days will be like-- frustrating and messy. There's no way around it. What I have changed this time is using bribery for myself. Yesterday I got french fries, today a soda and a fancy salad. I will use, despite what all the diet gurus tell me, food as a reward. Because it WORKS.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I'm trying to deceive my family with good intentions and lots of sweet potatoes. I'm so mysterious.

You've probably heard about the book "Deceptively Delicious," a cookbook written by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry Seinfeld that tells you how to mash up fruits and vegetables and bake them into your children's favorite recipes. WITHOUT THEM KNOWING IT. I know, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but. . . if. . it. . . is true. . . just think of the possibilities. It's really hot with with the SAHM's now, which is a fact that would usually turn me off to it--"Oh, you think I should read "Eclipse" or host a "Pampered Chef" party? Thank you, no." But I'm hooked. I love the idea of sneaking vitamins and minerals into my children's food and getting the last laugh. But it seems too easy. Other than the preparing vegetables, mashing them, storing and freezing and rotating them. But Jessica reassures me that it will become part of my weekly habit, and I want to believe her. After all, we have a lot in common. Don't we?

One of my friends (is it you?) bought the book for the primary reason of getting an inside look into the Seinfeld household. Think about it: what is Jerry really like? What is his wife like? What are their habits? What do they value? These questions intrigue me, too, and as I read the recipes, I kept thinking if her little tips are real or not. Does she REALLY roast and blend vegetable purees every Sunday night as she and Jerry go over their schedules for the next week? Does Jerry ever say, "Oh, just let the maid do it! Lets go watch Lost!" Do her kids ever beg her to go to McDonalds? I bet Jerry takes them.

So I mixed in pureed sweet potato with cheese and blended up chicken and cauliflower with sour cream and made quesadillas. Topher and I like them. The children weren't too crazy about them because I traded regular quesadillas with wheat ones and it was just one step TOO FAR. I learned my lesson: baby steps.

I haven't given up completely. I made a batch of "pink pancakes" for tomorrow's breakfast that has cottage cheese (protein) and beets (seriously, I know--crazy enough to work?), so we'll see how it goes. I figure that I'll try it for a few days, get it out of my system, and then have a freezer full of ready-to-eat baby food, worst case scenario. After all, I've only used my sewing machine once and I've had it for a year. I've really got to rotate my homemaking skills--this week it's spinach brownies, tomorrow a baby blanket! See, my life is full of mystery and intrigue!

I think if I had one gazillion dollars like the Seinfelds that, as much as I enjoy cooking, I would eat out. A lot. And I also think I would buy pre-made purees and health food and all of that. And I don't think I would market a cookbook because what, I need the money? Is it that what I'd want to do with my time and connections? She's come up with a lot of recipes that you can sneak vegetables in, but mostly butternut squash and sweet potatoes. (Apparently those are the staple veggies because you can put them in anything from french toast to meat loaf. And now I will know this. Forever. It's a lot of pressure.) Did she come up with them on her own? I can't shake the feeling that she's judging me a little, because she thinks I need this cookbook. She admits in it that she sends her kids on playdates with their own snacks, so she obviously doesn't trust her friends' food habits, which is a little excessive, don't you think? What would she say about my stash of peanut butter Twix? I wonder if Jerry has to hide food.

I realize Jessica's got a lot of pressure--being the wife of JERRY. She probably wants something of her own. Her own legacy. And that legacy has me roasting a lot of sweet potatoes, so I guess she's done her job. This week anyway.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

This picture may make several people uncomfortable, but I don't care!

Happy Valentine's Day! If you want to know why I heart Christopher Clark, read all about him at www.thejollyporter.blogspot.com!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Train of Thought; choo-choo, I'm not crazy.

I think I'm ready to share.

I've had time to reflect a lot lately, but not sleep much, so take that for what it's worth. I'm not trying to get sympathy (or rather, I don't want to appear be asking for it), but I do have a lot on my mind. Here's what I think about as I'm nursing at 11pm, 1am, 3am, and 5am when YOU are asleep and it's considered "bad form" to call and tell you. (Don't worry, I won't include the "why do I love my new baby so much?" "how did my children get so old so fast?" "where does the time go?" "my innocent baby has to be introduced to a world full of pain and evil" post-pardum blubbering I excel at. . .)

1. I am in the anger stage of grief over the writer's strike. I sympathize with the writers. I'm on "their side." I'm not mad at THEM, I'm just mad at the situation I find myself in: stuck inside this Winter. In my desperation, I googled a couple of sites about grief, and one site told me not to analyze my grief, but to express it.

2. It is amazingly difficult to find a heavy-duty (ladies, you know what I mean) nursing bra in Provo, Utah, which has the highest birthrate per capta in the world. Why is that? Also, why don't we have parking in Utah for pregnant women and women with small children like they do in Lincoln, Nebraska? Of course they would always be used, so isn't that more reason to get them?

3. Why do I love any drink MORE with pebble ice, in a styrofoam cup? What is the power in that?

4. Who will I vote for next year? Is it just my twisted perception, or do most Southerners distrust Mormons? Does Obama really generate hope or do we just want him to? How do you "create hope?" Why does the idea of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton not sit well with me? Why are celebrities so quick to "create awareness"? Why does that seem silly to me? What is the recipe for creating hope, awareness, change. . . ? That would make an interesting article.

5. Why is it not fashionable to be a SAHM, but it is fashionable to be an interior designer, chef, home organizer, big brother/big sister to children, etc etc? Why do people always ask "What ELSE are you doing. . .?" when you say you're a SAHM? Is it our fault for not sticking up for ourselves, or is it the general assumption because we always add to it? Why do I care?

6. How is it that Margaret is SO CUTE and so sweet? Is it crazy to believe that she may be comedically gifted because she's already smiling at 4.5 weeks?

Thanks for letting me share. And thanks to our dear friends for making the transition home from the hospital, back to the hospital, and then home again, go a little more smoothly. I really am overwhelmed by all of it, but I won't go on because this post is already a little too serious. A little too "February."