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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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17 Months of Cuteness

Calvin was born on October 30th, 2007 at 5:06 A.M.

*BLINK*

He just turned 17 months old.  Mouth full of teeth and an ever increasing vocabulary: dog, cat, roar, mama, dada, cheese, door, chair, hi, car, truck, milk (in sign language), please (sign), thank you (sign), stars, tree, mmm, sock, shoes, all done, and duck.

FAVORITES

Well, cars, of course.  Whenever I put Calvin’s shoes and jacket on him, he blots to the door, grasping for the handle and shouts “Cah! Cah!”  He knows we’re about to jet somewhere, and he’s super stoked about it.

Bananas, oranges, grapes, and berries.  They’re always greeted with an “mmm”.

Mainly Music class.  He loves to dance, bounce, and run around enjoying the music.

BIRTHDAY SUIT

As my son gets older, he becomes increasingly more fun.  One of his favorite activities (aside from eating and reading books with us) is to run around the apartment naked after bath time.  He prefers his hooded towel as his cape, but he’s just as happy without anything else on.

POTTY TRAINING TRENDS

Since our son was 4 months old, we’ve been putting him on his clear potty while making “pssst. shhhhh. pssssst. shhhh” sounds to encourage him to do his thing.  His willingness to go on the potty has come and go in various spurts (not being literal).  But, now he’s seemingly more aware of a full or uncomfortable diaper.

He’ll strip off his pants and tug at his diaper.  Or, he’ll break open the storage closet with the magnetic childproof seal (I seriously need a refund on that Magnet Tot Lock!), and try to fish out the fresh stash of diapers.  Obviously he’s trying to clue in Mom and Dad that he needs his business taken care of.  Stat!

Also, he’s grown fond of his little potty chair.  After bath time when he’s free to air out.  He’ll straddle his little potty and pull up a book to read.  Seriously.  I should hand him a copy of the New York Times because this little dude likes to read on the john.  It’s stinkin’ adorable.  We oblige him with colorful and textured toddler prose, but I think we may upgrade to the Sunday comics, soon.

Since we adopted the “psss. shhh.” sounds, he’ll make the same sounds whenever he sits on his potty.  He also likes to pretend his potty is a car of sorts.  He’ll hand carry it from the carpeted room to the tile hallway.  Then, he’ll re-straddle it and push off with his feet to scoot around on the tile floor…all the while making “psst. shhh” sounds.  He can pee AND drive.

Three Little Women and a Baby

We returned home from Pennsylvania later than we’d expected Wednesday night.  In fact, we got home just in time for Calvin’s bedtime.  After being strapped to a car seat for almost 8 hours, we needed to give the little guy time to run around wreaking havoc on his toys (a.k.a. claiming his territory).  Calvin traveled like a trooper, but he definitely needed some cuddle time and stretch breaks along the way.

My favorite stop, other than the naked Homewrecker at Moe’s was the Virginia Welcome Center.  Not only does it have a statue of Thomas Jefferson and a flatscreen TV with the live weather forecast, but it actually had child/toddler friendly toilets in the women’s room!  Parents in the throws of potty training with your little ones, take note.  Whenever possible, stop at one of VA’s state welcome centers.  You’ll be glad you did!  Calvin happily did his thing, and I happily gave him hugs, kisses, and a fresh diaper.

Potty training is cool when we’re at home and we’re in a routine.  It totally goes awry when we’re out and about on errands.  Cal and I spent over 2 hours today runnin’ around from store to store in the truck.  Before we headed home, I changed his diaper on the tailgate of the pick-up in the parking lot.  No potty there, so I just put on a clean diaper.

As soon as we got in the truck and stuck in 5 o’clock traffic on Highway 29 South, Calvin started screaming his head off.  He’d pretty much been crying all day long, and I knew he wasn’t feeling well, but we were in a truck–in traffic–and aside from giving him various toys to play with (which he immediately threw with full force) there wasn’t anything else I could do to help him.  So, I did what any good mother would do, I turned up the volume on the radio and tuned out the top-of-his-lungs cries.  I had no idea what was wrong aside from the fact that he didn’t want to be in his seat and he wanted me to hold him, but neither of those were options until we got home.  As soon as we exited the bypass for home, he stopped crying.  Complete silence.  Then, he started giggling.  I was baffled, but glad he was suddenly in a great mood.

As soon as we got home, I realized what had happened: his diaper was completely full.  He had wanted to go potty, but wasn’t given the opportunity.  He had been crying in desperation to sit on the potty, and when he finally got it out of his system, he was good to go.  This is the child that will wake up from a nap and start crying because he wants me to put him on the potty.  Lesson learned: the next time I’m about to get entrenched in rush hour traffic, first, find a potty SOMEWHERE, and give Calvin the chance to go.

It was hard to read what my son wanted/needed today because if he wasn’t napping or nursing, he was crying.  He desperately wanted to be held at all times during the day.  If I put him on the floor for even an instant, he got fire-alarm-red-mad.  Such a strange response from a boy who is usually content to play by himself for 30 or 45 minutes at a time for several times during a typical day.  Was he unusually clingy because he’s still teething? [runny nose, red cheeks, and enough drool to fill a gallon jug]  Or was he having separation anxiety because he was suffering from attention withdrawel?

Over the past week, Calvin had been getting more attention from people than most Hollywood stars.  Wherever we went, he was at the center of the spotlight receiving smiles, laughs, hugs, and kisses from EVERYONE.  He had friends and relatives tending to his every need.  Want to walk around the store/house/funeral parlor/cemetary?  Ten-year-old Maddie was there in a heartbeat carrying him around and entertaining him with such love and tenderness.  Not far behind Maddie, two-and-a-half Livia was there patting Calvin on the head, feeding him snacks or offering him his toys.  I even left him in the church nursery with his Aunt Vicky and Cousin Emily during church.  Em said she kept him entertained by keeping his gaze.

Calvin ate up the attention and adored his lovely cousins.  Whenever they were with him, the looked like little mommies-in-training.  My favorite moment over the week was at the lunch after the funeral.  Calvin sat in his high chair enjoying turkey and green beans.  Soon enough, he was surrounded by Emily, Maddie, and Livia who handed him food, laughed with him, and totally provided his dining entertainment.  After all that adoration, of course it’s so anti-climatic to return home and spend all day with just me.

Forget lunchtime laughs and giggles–I was just happy to get him his meals on time.  Between wiping his ever-running nose and changing my shirts (a.k.a. my son’s giant tissue), I tried to comfort my son and unpack and do basic chores that had been neglected all week.  Well, doing dishes and laundry were NOT okay with my son.  He wanted me all to himself every minute of the day.  By the time his naptimes rolled around, I kept chugging away at the chores, but I was spent.  I took those moments to sit down and relax.

I miss those three little women.  They’re love and attention for Calvin was a glorious blessing last week, and I wish they could hang out with him every day!

One or the Other

But you can’t have both . . . apparently.  Calvin was doing so awesome with the potty training for MONTHS.  Even if the sleep thing kinda sucked.  But, since we’ve moved into this apartment where Calvin has his own room and sleeps through the night, his bathroom clock has changed.

He used to wait to poop until I put him on his potty when he first wakes in the morning and after each meal.  Well, I haven’t “caught” a poop in the potty in a few weeks now.  He’s peed a few times, but it’s really hit or miss.  More miss.  There’s more diaper laundry than ever.  With a very small stackable washer/dryer unit, I’m doing laundry ALL-THE-TIME.  What I used to accomplish in 2 loads now takes 4-6.  Ugh!  Forget whites and darks.  It’s more like 2 white towels plus a few washcloths = 1 load.  Seriously a huge time, water, and energy suck.

All the more motivation for me to figure out Calvin’s natural bathroom rhythms so I can catch accordingly and save a diaper now and then.  I don’t know what we’ll do once I’m working in the clinic.  We may have to do disposables during the work day, and cloth only at home and nighttime.  Right now, I wash his diapers every stinkin’ day.  Plus those 4 other loads of all other laundry.  I would probably have at least 1 more hour in the day if we could install our hydro-efficient washer and gas dryer.  Ahh, but then there’s the whole lack of room issue.  I may have to do this much laundry per day for the rest of the year we’re living here.

I’ve given Calvin more liberty to have naked time–especially in the morning after he’s had a diaper adhered to his backside for 12 hours.  I’m also hoping the increased awareness helps him “tell” me when he needs to go.  But he’s a boy, so the liklihood of him actually wetting himself and getting it on him is relatively slim.  Especially since he likes to stand up at the gate and take a wiz right there.  Yes, thankfully I have some great, non-toxic cleaning products because I use those in his room almost every freakin’ day.

The other day when he was having naked time, he left a surprise for me on his floor changing mat.  Well, at least he left it THERE as opposed to the carpet.  I could easily clean that.  Today, ugh, today was terrible.  I wanted to get him down for a nap (by the way, he’s still not napping, just standing in his crib and fussing miserably).  I came in from the grocery store and did things in what I thought was a good priority.  1) Removed Calvin’s wet diaper, 2) put Calvin on his potty (he didn’t go, so I let him crawl around sans diaper), 3) I brought in the bag of groceries from the car before they melted, 4) went back to put a diaper on Calvin and found there was poop on the carpet, his hands, and his toys.  UGH!  Just what I needed, a poop-smearing repeat!

So, of course I cleaned up Calvin’s hands, put on a clean diaper, and then placed him in his playyard so I could attend to the MESS.  Then, I tried to put him down for a nap an hour ago.  He’s still crying and upset.  Not napping regardless of how tired I know he is.

Some Friday.

Poop Scoop

As parents, we hear horrendous stories about absurd, crazy, and disgusting things babies and little tykes do.  And we think to ourselves, “that won’t EVER happen to MY child.  I’m much more aware, and I’ll handle any crazy thing that comes my way.”  Well, if you think that, you’re better off dealing with reality than disappointment.  So, might as well pony up to the poop because one day, you will have one heckuva poop story to tell.  This one just happens to be mine.

Calvin woke up early from his morning nap.  When I found him, I was greeted with an unexpected surprise.

POOP. EV-E-RY-where.

Smeared on his hair, face, entire body, all his blankets, the entire pack ‘n play, plush toys . . . EVERYTHING was covered in __IT.

He’d managed to pull off his diaper, and there he sat, naked as a jaybird  grinning up at me knowing full well what he’d done.  Because, my boy-in-potty-training just doesn’t like the sensation of sitting in his own mire.  But, I guess it’s okay to have it smeared all over his body.  THAT doesn’t seem to bother him one bit.  I was torn between laughing/crying/and throwing my hands in the air in utter desperation.  I did some quasi-combination of all three.

I felt like the universe was askew and imploding at that very moment within the space-time continuum, and somehow I had to keep talking to my mom on the phone (because she was from out of town and kept getting lost driving to my apartment), get Calvin and his bed clean, and then open the door for my mom in this crazy electronic-key/self locking door apartment so we could meet for lunch before she got on the road for her 8 hour drive home.

Please, Lord.  Did the poop have to hit the fan quite so literally?

My mom was stressed out because she is navigationally challenged.  While I held poop-covered boy, she was parked across the courtyard in the parking garage.  I had to “signal” her with my window blinds so she could lock on to where my apartment was relative to her location.  I couldn’t very well take my filthy, naked boy out in the lobby to walk her back to the apartment, so I had to guide her through an apartment hallway maze through the phone.

Meanwhile, I put Calvin on the floor (yes, I put the baby with the dried poop on his body on a carpeted floor), so I could start filling up the bathtub and I began to wipe down the NASTY pack ‘n play with a non-toxic, all purpose cleaner.  I also washed all of his pack ‘n play bedding and plush toys.

By the time my mom was utterly confused walking down the hallway, I went out there to greet her.  She came inside and I showed her exactly why I couldn’t walk to her vehicle to meet her.  My mom took one look at Calvin, one look at his bed, and just laughed.

Then, I plunked him in the tub and he started laughing, splashing, and kicking.  My mom said he made such a mess because he wanted the opportunity to play in the tub and get clean.  Yes.  I seriously wouldn’t put it past him.

After his decontamination, I got him diapered and dressed, and handed him to my mom for playtime and supervision so I could decontaminate EVERYTHING else that was poop covered.

Somehow, I managed to clean the pack ‘n play, get a load of laundry started, and got us out the door for lunch so that my mom didn’t have to have such a late start for her long drive back to New York.

I retold the tale of the poop monster when Steve came home from work.

Steve: [2 minutes of laughter] Did you grab the camera?

Me: Are you kidding me?  Our son was naked, sitting in his own filth, and you thought I should grab the camera?

Steve: [more laughter] Well, obviously he doesn’t like sitting in his own poop.

Me: Obviously.

Milestones

Calvin turns 7 months next Friday.

On May 22nd, he crawled for the first time. *sniff*  He’s growing up so fast!  I got choked up when he actually pulled himself forward (instead of pushing himself in reverse).  I gave him a hug, then he made a funny sound and started straining.  Then, I just had to laugh and quickly plop him on his potty.  He has a way of drawing me back to reality when I get sappy.  So now, I have to keep him in plain sight if he’s on the floor, or else he’s up to no good before too long!

Speaking of the potty, in the past few days, we’ve noticed that he actually waits for us to put him on it before passing a bowel movement.  I can’t believe it.  He actually prefers his potty.

My sister’s 12-month-old is pretty much potty-trained.  He lets her know if he needs to go to the bathroom.  He’s already wearing underwear, and they only diaper him at night.  I hope Calvin will be on the same track by 1 year, if not sooner.

I think Calvin’s teething again.  He’s drooling like crazy, sleeps a ton more than usual, and he’s got red spots on his cheeks.  Last two times those events happened, he got teeth.  Before I know it, he’ll have graduated from school, married, and have kids of his own.

Jet Setters

Calvin has fun on the potty . . . I think mostly because he gets a LOT of attention from us when he does go in it. As in the photo above, he is full of giggles and smiles (and drools) when he’s on his potty.

Even though we JUST got back from a long road trip to and from sunny Florida, we leave tomorrow morning for the other corner of the United States, Washington. We’ll spend just over a week there so many of my relatives have a chance to meet Calvin. Even though he won’t remember his first trip in a jet and a prop plane, hopefully the photos of him with family members will be cherished by Calvin in the future.

Since we’re not going to have a lot of extra packing weight to deal with, we’re going with disposables instead of cloth for this trip. I hope to be able to do diaper changes at airports, because I can’t imagine having enough space to change my long legged baby boy on an in-flight latrine. Also, I plan to nurse him on take-off and descent to help prevent ear pain from the altitude changes.

I recently read in Domino magazine a few tips for the trendy and savvy traveler on airlines. It was obvious that the author wasn’t a parent of a young child nor super concerned with saving money. As a result, I’m going to post my own traveling with baby tips with a series of a couple of posts (some will be from my lessons learned after a long day of travel with a 5 month-old).

Packing:

It used to be easy to pack a fairly large wheeled suitcase to the max with everything the 2 of us needed for a trip. With reduced luggage weight restrictions (now 50 lbs. instead of 80 lbs. back in 2002), packing with fewer bags is essentially not an option.

One day, we’ll be able to get sturdy, lighter weight luggage that can hold a lot . . . until then, it’s duffle bags, military issue helmet bags, and backpacks.

Diaper bag: I’d recommend a spare t-shirt for mom & dad since turbulence can make baby more motion sickness prone than a car . . . and who wants to smell and look like baby spit-up for a 13 hour sortie? Along those lines, I’d also recommend several bibs and spit up cloths and microfleece towels to boot, along with at least 4 changes of clothes for baby (onesies and pants seem to go further than single pajama outfits).

I’d also recommend minimal toys for the younger baby. One plush, multi purpose toy (built in rattle sounds, pulls and it jiggles, etc.) as well as at least 1 hard plastic toy for those who are teething (plastic rings . . . perfecta!). Need to distract baby during flight? That’s what those in flight mags are for. . . colorful pictures and you can make up your own story to go along with the Skymall photos . . . time for creative storytelling on your part!

Since Calvin’s teething, we’re also bringing along Hyland’s Teething Tablets. Also, when Calvin gets gassy, he gets MAD! To soothe him, us, and those traveling within ear shot (the entire cabin), it won’t hurt to bring a 1 oz. vial of the Bubble-B-Gone gas drops by Nature’s Answer.

For my travel ease, I always travel with a zip up sweatshirt which not only helps with nursing, but it keeps me warm in the snowy cold jet cabins. Also, I ALWAYS take spare undies, hairbrush, toothbrush, and deodorant. With those, I’m prepared for lay-overs, cancellations, luggage loss, and just long days on the road.

As an inexpensive alternative to the pricey captive audience booksellers in airports, I went to the local library to pick up a paperback read that I’ve been wanting to flip through since grad school. My pick, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.

For all of you traveling with a baby in the near future, I wish you happy and safe travels!

Potty Training Update and WIN a FREE Cloth Diaper

Some of you have been asking about how potty training went over the past week. Well, it was amazingly awesome. We knew he’d typically go about 10 minutes after a feeding. So, we’d put him on his potty, show him the sign for “toilet” while saying “go potty” and then proceed to make “shhhhhhhh . . . psssssssss” sounds in alteration to encourage him to go. And, most of the time, he did. On average, we caught 4-8 pees a day, on occasion 1 poo a day.

I also learned Calvin’s word for “wet diaper/change me/I need to go” which is a strongly exclamated “Ma!” which begins at a normal pitch and decreases to a lower pitch by the end of the word. I’d heard him say this before, and intuitively knew he needed his diaper changed, but now, I realize it can also be a warning word. Yesterday, I made the mistake of trying to use his word to encourage him to go on the potty since my timing seemed to be off by a few minutes at every potty attempt. . . I always kept missing him and he’d JUST gone in his diaper (quite evident when you use cloth). So, I said “Ma” while I was still taking his diaper off, and of course, the shooting stream got all over me. Needless to say I did correctly hone in on Calvin-speak for “pee”.

When he DOES go on the potty, it’s usually almost immediately after we sit him on it and start the “pssssss. . . shhhhhh” sounds. At which time, we are so thrilled that we lavish him with hugs and kisses and tell him “good boy! you went in your potty”. He, of course, smiles, laughs, and looks oh so pleased that he did something to generate such adoration.

Even the time he went on the changing table when I used his word for “go potty” I still told him he was a good boy, because, after all, he only did what I encouraged him to do. It’s only my bad that I didn’t get him on the throne in time!

Most days, I save at least 1 diaper. Yesterday, I saved 2. That means it cuts down on the wash load just a slight amount, but I think over time, instead of washing a pile of diapers every other day, maybe we can wash ’em every 2 days. Now, that would be awesome!

Speaking of cloth diapers, MommyKnows and www.thebabymarketplace.com (a great place to shop and learn about cloth diapers) are hosting the bumGenius 3.0 One-Size Cloth Diaper Give Away.Go on over and comment and be entered to Win one of two bumGenius 3.0 One-Size Cloth Diapers.