Potty TRAINing

3 Feb

Allow me to set the scene:

Interior – Day – Chez Delagrange – Everett sits enthroned upon his Thomas Potty. (See Fig. 1)


Fig. 1 – The Thomas Potty exactly as seen in Chez Delagrange…only my floor’s not that clean. Obvs.


The potty plays the melodic notes of the Thomas theme song and ends with the tell-tale “chugga-choo-shhhh” sound that can only mean one thing – The “train” has left the “station.”

All around the boy there is great rejoicing…much like this:


We’re potty TRAINing, y’all. (See what I did there? I had to or my dad would have and then he’d think he was real clever and we can’t have that.)


A few words on the Thomas Potty…Ev got it as a Christmas gift and was genuinely so pumped about it that he couldn’t even handle it. This thing has magical sensors in it so when a liquid (or presumably a solid) hits it, it plays music and makes train sounds. If that doesn’t pump your pistons, I don’t know what will.


The only down side I can see to the Thomas Potty is that your average two-year-old can easily figure out how to take it apart and make it sing without peeing in it. You can say a lot of things about a two-year-old, but if you need a button to be pushed (literal or figurative) they’re pretty much your best bet. Unfortunately, the button on the Thomas Potty is on the bottom, which requires said two-year-old to turn it completely upside down, something that I sort of expect to backfire on my aaaaaaaannny minute now…


And, because motherhood is basically an eternal experiment in “Things I Never Thought I’d Say,” or because I know you’ve just been wishing that you could experience this craziness firsthand, but haven’t called because you’re not sure if you really want to experience this crazy firsthand, here are a few of the phrases I’ve been recently repeating over and over…and over.

  • “Do NOT put your broccoli on your potty!”
  • “Dude, if you keep moving your potty around you’re going to forget where you put it and nobody needs that!”
  • “Guys, mind your own business! You really don’t need to see his pee.”
  • “I know you’re trying to help, but let’s just let Mommy be the one to empty the potty.”
  • “Drop. The. Potty. I said put it down!!”


Also, people have already asked about how we potty train and how the boy vs girl thing is going, here’s my two cents on that:

I am a hard and fast and firm believer that this is not a race. I do not know any 30 year olds who wear diapers to work. If your kid is toilet trained at 16 months old, cool! If your kid is toilet trained at 4, sweet! It will happen when your child is ready. I repeat: this. is. not. a. race. Follow your kid’s lead and you’ll be golden…probably literally.

Also, my friend Alisha just told me that her dentist’s wife potty trained their 9 month old. And we both basically said a big hell naw to that. I mean, if that’s your jam, it’s cool I guess. But I’m lazy and diapering a baby or even a toddler is a lot less work, at least for a while. You can slap a diaper on a kid or at least have stuff contained, right? Few things will prepare you for venturing out in the world with a newly toilet trained kid. You’re on their terms now and heaven help you if you dare to call their bluff or wait a moment too long. All I’m saying is, once you potty train, you’re signing up for the “Tour of Every Bathroom in America” whether you’ve got places to be or not. So, take your time. It’s not a race.


I am also a hard and fast believer in the “Naked Weekend” brand of potty training. I’m also realistic and know that it takes longer than a weekend. Regardless, I’ve had the most success with hunkering down for as long as possible with a pantless kid and a potty you can move from room to room with you. Also, you have to do a potty dance that is so explosively celebratory you can’t even handle your own face. That’s part of the fun. For more information on this brand ‘o training, check out Kendra’s post on it over at Catholic All Year. (I have an unprofessed blog crush on Kendra…her family just bought a 10 bedroom mansion built in the 20’s and they’re remodeling it and I’m obsessed and creepy and not sorry.)


As for the boy vs girl thing…it’s totally not a thing. I’ll admit, I was initially intimidated by potty training a boy, probably because of some societal tendency to deify the penis or just the fact that I don’t have one, so I’m sorta clueless. Here’s the deal: he’s got a while to figure it all out. The main goal here is to get the waste into the proper receptacle. Everything after that will come with time. So the thing’s not a thing. I’m potty training him just like the girls and he’s knocking it out of the park.


He’s knocking it out of the park so much, in fact, that I basically never have to remind him to pee. Like last night he was (ill-advisedly) naked and on the loose downstairs while I got the girls out of the tub. He ran back upstairs yelling, “Mama, I peeeeeeeeeeed!!!” at which point I panicked. I asked where he went to the bathroom and the only response I got was, “Don’t worry about it, Mama. I show you.”  Umm…doesn’t really inspire much confidence. So I followed him downstairs and he lead me to the Thomas Potty and yelled, “Aaaaa-priiiise!! In the potty!! Ta da!!!” And sure enough, in the potty it was. Praise God from whom all blessings flow…and I do mean all blessings.


And Scene.



Monday Hunger Games

25 Jan 3f6fdebcf38a170a51e6226404184df8

I guess you could say I’m using my college degree. I mean, the two year old is currently playing with my diploma, so…


I really should get that thing framed, but he screams at me every time I try to take it away and mama don’t have time for that. Not before coffee. My friend, Katy, says that our lives as stay at home moms are basically a never ending version of The Hunger Games. Only we didn’t know what it really meant to volunteer as tribute and our braids are not as cool.


Ev’s wearing cowboy boots and pajamas. He’s also been the source of almost everyone’s tears this morning. Maybe that’s not really fair…I mean, in his defense, the girls are operating in full out Charlie Brown mope mode today. As in, “I made Daddy this neckalace and he isn’t heah, and I can’t do annnnyfing, nuuffing, I caaaaaann’tuuuuhhh!” And then they mope out of the room like this:



Never mind that the man’s been at work since, like 6 am. And they saw him leave because they wake up before dawn like devil children.


Fights and Meltdowns I’ve already refereed today:

  • “I just want to cook the food, but you’re NOT. LETTING. ME.”
  • “It’s NOT apple sauce! It’s PEACH apple sauce!!”
  • Everett called Lily a bully. She then “rawr-ed” at him, thus, “She woared at’a me and make’a me saaaaaaaaaadddddd…”
  • Me: You may not have pretzels until you’ve finished your breakfast.

Ev: That’s cooooffffeeeee.

Me: ??

Ev: That’s coffee on’a my bananaaaaaaaaa.

It wasn’t.


So, for those of you in the arena with me, I salute you. I’m gonna go wrestle my wallet out of some two year old claws and pray my debit card isn’t lost.



Blogging! A birth story!! Huzzah!

21 Jan

Y’all. It has literally been a kazillion years since I actually sat down and took some time to write.


I’ve missed you. Seriously. I kind of feel like that Taylor Swift song where she goes back to December and regrets leaving and turning her man down, but with a blog. Stay with me, I’m rusty.


Anyway, here’s Remy’s birth story because I wrote it down like six months ago when he was actually born and never published it because I’m a whacko. This is the fog that is my sad brain.


I never really know how to start these, but I guess I’ll start two days before the little guy was born and I was randomly contracting, on and off and off and on again for-ev-errrr. Every time I was convinced that I was truly in labor, things would peter out and I’d get all discouraged. Usually I am a total champ the entire way through pregnancy, but this one was just a lot harder for some reason. Suffice it to say, the closer I got to our due date (the 27th), the more I was feeling it. I was just so huge, and so tired. Also, everyone in the family (except me) was just getting over a horrible stomach bug…because if there’s a stomach bug within the tri-state area my family will get it. And as my wise friend, Katy, says, we’ll probably get it twice. She knows us.


So, the day before Remy was born I had an appointment with my midwife, Genny. I think I was at 2 cm, not great but not completely horrible, I guess. She “stretched me out a little” (sidenote: why do all things obstetrics have to sound so horrifying?) and sent me on my way. We were both hoping to get things started because we really wanted to have a water birth this time and the hospital doesn’t allow water births if they think your baby will be over 9 pounds…and guess who always has “gigantic” babies? (I need you all to know that I just jumped on my mental soapbox about how my body grows babies that are the right damn size for it thankyouverymuch, so don’t even talk to me about “big” babies…but then I realized that don’t nobody want to hear that soapbox, and down I hopped. And I curtsyed in front of my mental soapbox because in my mind I curtsy and it’s cute, the end.)


So, I left and felt completely overcome by anxiety. Everything in me was stressed and wigging out and wishing, wishing, wishing that this baby would be born that night. But he wasn’t. Not even close. So I just had to get it into my mind that I had to surrender to the fact that I couldn’t be in control (and if any of you want to know the secret to natural childbirth, that’s it. Just surrender and let it be. [Easier said than done, obvs. Brackets!]) I gave myself a little pep talk and resigned myself to the fact that I never have babies early and that I might as well enjoy the time we had before Remy got here and just not stress over things we can’t change. Babies come when they’re ready.


And I totally bought my own speech! I woke up the next morning feeling nary a contraction but very much better emotionally and spiritually. I really thought that it might actually happen that day, but I definitely didn’t let that thought stress me out. Vin had the day off, so we took the kids to the zoo so I could walk around and they could blow off some steam. It was just a gorgeous day. We saw all of our favorite animals, fed the giraffes some lettuce, Ev inexplicably freaked out in the elephant house, it was wonderful. And I didn’t have a single contraction the whole time. We all got home and took naps before Maggie’s last t-ball game of the season and I started feeling crampy on the walk to the field.


About halfway through her game I started having definite contractions. My dear, dear friend Amy was there and I told her I thought this was the night and we squealed and got super-excited and it was lovely because Amy is lovely and wonderful and good. I love Amy…but I digress. After the game, we headed home and Vin ordered pizza just to tide the troops over and so I could have something to look forward to throwing up later. (I’m sure you recall the Ole Burger Incident of ’12 or the Salisbury Steak of ’13…no? Just me and the hospital staff, huh?)


So, an hour or so later, we decided it was probably a good time to call in reinforcements. Vin’s parents headed our way and I let my friend, Lauren, know that we were heading to the hospital since she was going to be at the birth, too. We got to the hospital around 10 or 10:30 and did all of the miserable triage junk…may I just say I hate answering questions when I’m in labor? I also hate the stress that comes before that very first check when you’re secretly afraid that you’re not dilated past a 2 and they’ll send you home and you’ll have to be like, “Oh sorry…I’ve only done this, like, three times before, so…yeah.” Shudder. But I was a 4 or 5, so I got to stay and they moved the birthing tub into my room and I got super excited about the fact that I was really going to get to have a water birth this time!!!




The house doctor confirmed that my last baby was almost a 10 pounder. She got that shady look in her eyes that means hopes are about to get crushed and said she was going to call the OB that Genny practices with just to get his opinion. That guy is seriously a fun sucker, so I knew right then that there was no way they’d let me do it. I was, however, promised that I could labor in the tub, which I figured was the next best thing and in the meantime, I negotiated for no effing monitors once I was in the room. Boom.


Once Genny got to the hospital, she checked me and I was already at an 8, so we agreed that it probably wasn’t a great idea to get me into the tub because I’d never get back out in time. Le sigh. But at that point, I had been yacking my lungs out (oh, haaaay there, pizza!) and didn’t really care. I will say that my guilt complex was still quite strong because I felt (and still feel) horrible that they filled that entire damn tub up with water only to immediately drain it again. I’m pretty sure I apologized to the state of California while in labor. And I’ll say it again, sorry I wasted all that water, California. I am so. sorry.


At some point Lauren showed up and she was gorgeous and soothing and jumped right in with Vinnie. That man was on point with this labor, y’all. He was so calm and in control. Lauren was a seamless addition, despite the fact that she had never been to a birth before. They kept me happy with cool cloths for my eyes and Lauren fanned me with one of those cervix dilation charts (cause we’re classy is why) and they caught my vomit and were all around the most fantastic team ever of all time. Seriously, you should hire them!


Around midnight I started feeling really pushy. I can honestly say, this is the first time in labor that I’ve really felt like it was all my show. I don’t know if this makes sense, but usually I feel like I almost have to wait for permission to start pushing, like I want validation that it’s okay maybe? (And herein lies the metaphor for my entire life…so many asides in this post, geez!) Regardless, this time was different.


A lot of women say that they can feel their baby moving down. Usually I just feel a lot of pain…it’s like Madeleine Khan in Clue or something. But this time, I could really feel Remy making progress down the birth canal. I had just been checked and was almost complete, had thrown up yet again, and then really felt like I needed to push. I knew that the baby was low and I just kept saying, “I need to push!” Genny came in, told me to go ahead and push, and started suiting up. I think they thought there would be a bit more pushing because Genny was still getting her apron thingy tied, the bed hadn’t been transformed into a space station yet, and everyone just seemed generally a bit laissez faire about the whole thing.


Vinnie, on the other hand, stepped it up. He must have somehow known that it was really, really, really  go time because that man was on point. He went into full commander mode and told Lauren to grab my leg while he grabbed the other. I gave a push and that baby’s glorious head was born!! I was shocked that it was that fast; I believe my exact quote was, “Is that a head??!” because that’s what smart people say. Anyway, another little push and we had a baby! It all happened so fast that Genny raced to catch him in time and we were all in shock. Also, I went all evangelical and I’m pretty sure I kept repeating, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!! Praise God!!!” over and over again in a very Southern way. You are welcome, little Northern nurses.


We kept Remy’s gender a surprise this time, so I was super anxious to know if I was getting the boy I desperately wanted. Vinnie got to be the one to tell me that it was indeed a boy, which was just magical. Honestly, it wasn’t that surprising because Vin had dreamed that it was another boy. That guy is 4 for 4 on gender predicting dreams. 4 for 4. 100%. Take him to Vegas, somebody, because that man is a winner!


Anyway, we had sweet Remy Vincent in our arms at 12:14 am, 8 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. The entire time we were in the hospital people kept saying he was such a big baby, which cracked us up because Everett was over a pound heavier. Remy nursed right away and snuggled and peed on me and he was just perfect from the start. That boy had/has so much dark hair, which is amazing since we’re so used to bald babies around here. He looked like a perfectly grouchy old gentleman, as all newborn babies should.




After he was born, Lauren headed home and Vin promptly got a resurgence of the stomach flu. Because why not?? Poor guy. He was miserable. And we ended up being dropped off at the hospital, so he couldn’t even go home and had to “sleep” on the world’s most pathetic cot. It was the worst, even for hospital cot standards. But he was a trooper and got me a glorious bagel with cream cheese and I love him forever and for always, duh.


And honestly, life’s been kind of a whirlwind since then. The kids fell in love immediately. Lily immediately forgave Remy for not being a girl and she is seriously his number one fan. Gosh, she loves that kid. Ev had one rough night and then decided it was whatever. Maggie is genuinely my right hand man and I really couldn’t get by without her.


So, almost six months later, Remy’s teething and here we are. Here you are. Happy to see you again, friend. I missed ya.


Mary Susan

TGIF…I Think

11 Sep

The following things have already happened today. As I write this, it is 8:38 am.

  • I woke up this morning at 4:30 to gloat to my husband that I think I got about an hour and a half of sleep straight with Grumble Bunny actually in the bassinet and not on my person, so I felt suuuper rested.
  • I saw the hubz off to work and then went back to bed to Facebook because that’s what productive people do. And yes, “Facebook” is a verb.
  • I snuggled my darlings at their usual 6 am rise time, changed two diapers, got folks dressed (some of them in backwards shirts and damn you to hell if you try to suggest a switcheroo), and made a mental goal not to turn on the TV before naptime.
  • I tried to make pancakes while the baby was playing…
  • …in the meantime, the box of off-brand Chex left on the table from yesterday’s breakfast got dumped on the floor.
  • I turned on the TV.
  • I exploded some butter all over the microwave while attempting to melt it.
  • I uttered the phrase, “Do not wear your pancakes, eat them.”
  • I stepped over the 2 year old who brought off-brand Chex into the kitchen so he could stomp them, duh.
  • I made round three of pancakes while the 3 year old dumped her water all over the off-brand Chex on the dining room floor.
  • I refereed a disagreement in which the plaintiff charged, “She’s not impressed of me that I wore my pancake like a hat and then I ate it.”
  • I nursed the baby.
  • I thanked God for Peg + Cat.
  • I went to make some pancakes for myself and got distracted by sweeping the kitchen.
  • I made my pancakes and started writing a blog post.
  • I was forced to play catch with a boy who used part of an Octonauts play set to hurl a ball at my face.
  • I picked up said boy after he knocked a folding chair down on top of himself.
  • When I kissed his head, I got a face full of syrup. Also, he smells like poop.

I think I took a shower on Tuesday. I hope I did…

All in all, it’s a super-normal day. I’m floating on the uplifting joy brought to me by this post on motherhood by Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas. I’m going to go change the world’s stinkiest diaper now, repeat to myself that motherhood is sanctifying, and put on a bra so I can go out and enjoy the glorious air.

Also, coffee. All the coffee, please.

Much love to you all!

Mary Susan

Mom Instincts

23 Nov

Y’all. There are a few ways you know that motherhood is getting to you.

Permanent dark circles…

Lack of hygiene…

The contents of your purse… (No lie, at this very moment my purse contains the following: one dirty princess sock, a pacifier, several french fries, broken-lidded lip gloss I confiscated from the eldest, a diaper, my wallet, a comb, seven tiny hair bands, and the feet of a hopping mechanical chicken. Just the feet.)

There’s also the fact that you develop magical Mom Instincts. Like, I might not shower for days, but you’d better bet I can tell you the exact location of Maggie’s Bunny. Or I’ll be so exhausted that I’m literally running into walls, but I can catch a falling pacifier like a ninja. Mom Instincts allow me to decipher the deeper meaning behind the make-believe games, interpret whether or not requests for the potty are valid or cheap ploys for a later bedtime. While the rest of your life disintegrates around you, Mom Instincts allow you to remember preschool snack day just in time and recall the location of that one Frozen shirt.

I’d like to point out that, while Mom Instincts make you a rock star in the parenting department, they sometimes overrule all other rational thought and make you less than cool on dates. Just saying.

But I really hit a low point the other day in the “Motherhood is Getting to Me” department.

I need you to know that two thirds of our children have had the stomach flu, all have colds, and one may or may not be teething but he won’t submit to an oral exam and refuses to learn to talk, so…hell if I know. Also, the wordless one has been on a sleeping strike, so basically it’s like living with a cranky mute dictator who demands Wheel of Fortune at one a.m. Except he’s not really mute because he screams. A lot. Just no words. And his older sister is potty training. And I’m trying to take a doula class, and Vin is working like a zillion hours a week, and, and, and. Life is crazy.

I tell you all of this in hopes that maybe it’ll explain my actions, but I really just think I’m off. my. rocker.

So, night before last (but I don’t really know because my days and nights have been messed up since 2009), I got the kids into bed and foolishly assumed they’d stay there and took the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Alone. For the first time in forever. (No, I’m not sorry I just put that song in your head.)

I went to the bathroom, instinctively put the ironic Pooh potty seat on the toilet, and sat down.

And then I got all surprised and weirded out that the toilet seat was like a kajillion sizes too small, so I kind of freaked out a little bit, but things were already well on their way and I’ve had no control of that biz since, like, 2009, so I had not choice but to keep on keepin’ on. Luckily my aim is spectacular…unlike my brain which has apparently turned into a pile of mush.

Veteran’s Day 2014

11 Nov

If you met my dad, you probably would have as hard a time as I do imagining him manning a helicopter under fire in Vietnam. He’s a gentle person, someone who voiced prayers of thanksgiving over our chickens before slaughtering them, the most violent thing I think I’ve ever seen him do. He’s patient, a person who values hard work of both mind and body. My father is innovative. He has high standards and never does things “just because,” but takes action based on whether or not it’s the right thing to do.

My dad taught fifth grade…and sixth grade on the condition that they give him the exact same class that he’d had as fifth graders. They adored him and his unconventional classroom. Nobody gets off easy around my dad; he’s a ruthless tease and often intimidated his students and my friends by forcing them to think and have opinions.

He taught at a juvenile detention center, showing Shawshank Redemption, which, if you’re not familiar, is a film about breaking out of prison. It’s also about the power of hope and friendship, lessons those kids might never have heard if not for my father.

My father is a carpenter, a gardener, a preacher, a leader, a hero.

john mcgarr

He was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam. If you ask him why he was given the medal he’ll tell you, “For being stupid” and leave it at that. I find that pretty fishy, considering the fact that he’s the most intelligent person I’ve ever met.

My dad is a veteran. He’s one of thousands and thousands of women and men who have sacrificed and “been stupid” for our country. I’m always pretty emotional on Veteran’s Day. Having grown up in a family with military history and later living near Fort Hood, working with and teaching the children of active duty military personnel I’ve been privileged to see sacrifice played out in real life. There are no words to describe the depth and essence of the sacrifices made by the members of our armed forces. Thank you seems so little, so cliche. But it’s all I’ve got.

So, to my father, my brother, my cousins…

My friends, the co-workers, the parents of former students…

The kids I taught who have since enlisted (there are almost too many to count)…

Thank you. I really, really mean it from the bottom of my heart.

And, Daddy, you truly are my hero.

Time Together

27 Oct

The time I have to share with my husband is fleeting. While many people work Monday through Friday, 9-5, we have an incredibly erratic schedule. It changes weekly and usually consists of Vin working 6-4 and me working a couple of evenings 5-9. One of his days off is the only day I work a full 8 hour shift at the library. Finding one day of the week that we both have off is rare. Two in a row is impossible.

We’ve worked in the service industry long enough to be used to this. But that doesn’t mean that we like it. Most weeks, our version of “quality time” is in the time between picking him up at work and dropping me off. We attempt to talk over the kids singing along to “The Muppets” soundtrack and screaming at each other and generally interrupting every sentence we’re foolish enough to begin.

So, last night, when my wonderful mother-in-law sent us out to dinner without the kids so we could celebrate Vin’s birthday, I was completely elated. It’s funny since I live with the guy, but I really miss my husband. He is the most hard working, innovative, encouraging person ever. He has been knocked down time after time and just keeps getting up. He gets up over and over and over again and pulls me up right along with him. He’s absurdly talented, one of those people who is good at pretty much anything he tries. He’s passionate, loving, and funny. And I miss him desperately when we’re not together. An evening to ourselves was like winning the lottery. I literally bounced out the door to the car, I was so excited!

Y’all, we walked out of two restaurants last night. That’s something we have never done in the entire history of being together. It just always seems so rude and we’re the type who is more likely to make the best of a situation than just leave. But last night we left.

The first place was this new German restaurant in town that actually looks like it’d be a ton of fun. It’s bright and beautiful and there’s a fantastic band that plays authentic German music and there’s lederhosen out the wazoo. But we had to share a table with strangers and the music was so loud we were yelling to hear one another. It just wasn’t the intimate night we were hoping for, so we ditched.

The second restaurant was just a chain Mongolian barbecue place, so our expectations weren’t super high. But, when it took fifteen minutes for someone to take our drink order and we discovered that the salad bar consisted of brown iceberg lettuce, we just felt very blaah. And for a few minutes, we thought about just toughing it out and trying to make the best of it. And then we simultaneously agreed that no. No we were not going to make the best of it. So we left.

Because, here’s the thing. Our time is a treasure and we deserve to be picky. Our time together is so rare that it’s absurd to think of spending it in a place where we’d be disappointed and end up cranky. Our time is such a gift, it’s worth it to us to look like jerks, to appear to be rude in the eyes of others. I just don’t care about that at all because what I care about happened at restaurant number three where we ate greasy onion rings and giant sandwiches and watched football and drank beer. What I care about is having a booth to myself in the back corner of a sports bar and laughing at stupid jokes with my best friend.

There are defining moments in all relationships. For us there’s the time that we watched The Muppet Movie and Vin kissed me for the first time as “Rainbow Connection” played and the credits rolled. There’s the moment we found out I was pregnant with Maggie. We were cleaning our friends’ house while they were away on their honeymoon and I took the test right there in their bathroom and we laughed and freaked out all at the same time. There’s the time we packed up our lives and moved across the country to start over after a gamble didn’t work out the way we had expected.

And there’s that time we walked out of two different restaurants on the same night because quality time together deserves to be quality time. We walked out of two restaurants because our time together is a treasure and we have every right to be just as picky as we want to be.


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