Archive for July, 2011

Camping, Seattle Style.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

I used to be an outdoorsy kind of girl.

I grew up hiking, camping, and spending time in the mountains like I was one with the wilderness. I remember sleeping under the stars high above the world in the Huachuca Mountains, and listening to the Eagles on my portable CD player overlooking a mountain canyon dreaming of that guy Sean, who would never return my high-school crush. There was a middle-of-the-night encounter with a bear during which a black bear ripped out our car window, terrorized each of the campers in the campsite, and left us bolting out of the Chircahuas faster than you can scream “BEAR ATTACK.” We dealt with skunks, a baby bear encounter, and getting lost without water on a 10-mile-hike that included a search-and-rescue team ready to look for us had we not returned just in time. My brother and sister and I grew up knowing all the mountains in the surrounding Tucson, AZ area and quite a few beyond our neck of the woods. Camping was simply something we did all all the time.

My last camping trip was actually a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. We were there for something like five days, and on the first night down in the Canyon, James proposed to me under the full moon. That must have been eight years ago.

I guess I thought our marriage would include an outdoorsy life, considering we’d paid our rock climbing dues, gone repelling, did a massive backpacking trip, etc. I was kind of surprised when I learned that James did not, in fact, grow up doing the outdoors life like I had, and though somewhat interested in it, he wasn’t really sure how to go about roughing it out in the wilderness.

Well, now that our girls are old enough to follow directions and wear panties most of the time, we are attempting our first camping trip as a family this weekend. Major problem: we had NO equipment, so I went on a little shopping spree at Did I ever mention I’m in love with Amazon? Yup. I can shop until I drop and NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. It’s the epitome of laziness! I shop in my pajamas, braless, wearing my new dorky glasses, and I don’t have to worry about anyone seeing me that way!


Oops, nevermind that part about never being seen.

Ah HEM. Anyway. This week has been like Christmas… packages containing a lantern and a tent and sleeping bags and Thermarests- you know, those small self-inflating cushion things for old people- and a camping stove and a couple other essentials have been knocking on my doorstep ready to be massacred by my children and dog. Good times.

However, the absolute BEST part of our purchases (and the only frivolous one, I might add) came today, and this was a gift from my husband who knows that his wife will actually MORPH INTO A RABID GRIZZLY BEAR if she does not, in fact, get her fresh-brewed coffee. Behold, the caffeine addict’s outdoorsy lifesaver, the Personal Java Press by GSI:

Java Press

It’s an actual French Press that only requires boiling water, coffee grounds, and your hands. Imagine that. In a world where I just have to add water and grounds to a machine and press “On”, making coffee by hand is a TRUE PHENOMENON.

You can buy one here if you wanna be super cool and dorkalicious like me.

So, think of me this weekend and send warm wishes for a lack of downpour, good coffee, zero potty accidents (by my husband, of course, because that would be embarrassing), and no backaches while I rough it Seattle Style with my French Press in tow on our little camping trip. We will be staying somewhere near Sol Duc Hot Springs in the Olympic National Forest on the peninsula, then head off to a lodge south of there to spend some time on a lake.

I’m looking forward to some downtime. Wish I had a hammock. At least I’ll have coffee, right? And my camera, of course.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

A Controversial Potty Post

Monday, July 25th, 2011

April is potty-trained. She’s not three yet, and she’s so good at it that she probably doesn’t even need to wear a pull-up at night.

How’d I do it? People with toddlers like to ask. Everyone wants the magic formula that makes their kid piss and shit in the potty on their own accord.

You wanna know? It’s not magic. There’s no special potion. Fact is: your kid has to WANT to use the potty like a big kid, and they have to choose to do it. If it’s not their choice, it’ll never work.

I watch so many parents freak out while they struggle to potty train their kid. They try forcing it, then try rewarding it, they try spending a couple days with their kid naked and do nothing but focus on the toilet. But there’s a problem with a lot of those approaches: if your kid has not made the decision to use the potty, it’s not going to work. Only they can make the choice, and they have to want it themselves before any kind of potty training can be effective.

You can make it fun- stickers, treats, whatever, but none of those things will make potty training “work” unless your kid has also made the decision.

In fact, forcing the potty on a child has actually shown to cause a lot of control issues and potty problems. There are few things a young child has control over- eating, sleeping, and toilet business- and if you try to force any of those for them, guess what happens? They learn they can control them and can use them to manipulate you… and they will.

Some people HATE me for saying this, but I think the whole concept of “infant potty training” is just flat out ridiculous in this country. In places where diapers aren’t available, it’s a great idea, but people with computers aren’t generally in those kinds of situations. You’re not training your kid to be potty trained, they’re potty training *you*. Hey, if it works for some parents, then so be it, but I personally had no desire to have my head stuck up my kid’s ass far enough to look for their little “I have to go potty clue” and run to the toilet every 20 minutes. I have a life! I don’t want it tied to the potty! My experience with several moms who were infant potty training left me absolutely disinterested in the concept. During a weekly 2-hour mom-baby group that I attended until my oldest daughter could walk, I had to listen incessantly to these infant-potty-trainers discuss poops, pees, potty trips, peeing out the car window, blah blah blah. It’s all they could talk about! Every conversation led to their kid’s pooping habits, everything in their lives seemed to revolve around it. Pair that with the fact that they were literally jumping up every 20 minutes or so to pop out their son’s penis in front of everyone to pee in the toilet with the bathroom door open- “LOOK WHAT MY KID IS DOING!”- or better yet, water the tree just outside of the room in which we held our meetings, and boy, I had enough of the concept of “Infant potty training” to last me to the grave.

After all the child development courses I took in college along with speaking with experienced preschool and kindergarten teachers, discussing toilet training with pediatric nurses, and chatting with fellow moms about the whole dumping-waste-in-the-toilet phenomenon, I have realized that for my girls, there was only one way to potty train:

Tamra’s Guide For Getting Your Stubborn Kid To Shit And Piss In The Potty:

  1. Wait until they show interest in YOU using the potty: “Mommy? What are you doing?”
  2. Wait until they can tell their diaper is wet/messy: “Is your diaper wet?”… “Yeah!”
  3. Set up the right atmosphere: a little toilet, a potty chair for the big potty, a stool to stand on.
  4. Ask them if they want to sit on the potty. Don’t force them. If they say no, they’re NOT READY.
  5. Let them enjoy sitting on it, congratulate them for being a big kid.
  6. If they do pee/poo in the potty, through them a motherfucking party.
  7. DON’T EXPECT THAT THIS MEANS THEY’RE READY. Just because they use the toilet a few times does not means they’re on their way to being potty trained.
  8. Continue to provide encouragement, ask them if they want to use the toilet. If they say no, don’t be discouraged, make no big deal out of it, just let them do their thing in their disgusting diaper.
  9. Drink vodka or your beverage of choice.
  10. Expect a relapse or ten. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
  11. Always provide the opportunity for them to use the toilet, but allow THEM to make the choice.
  12. Remember: one day, they’ll get it

Many health care providers have told me that tons of kids aren’t even READY to start potty training until they are FOUR years old. FOUR!? Okay, I believe it, but that just seems so old to me. But no, it’s not. And in my “holy cow she’s not even interested” concern a couple months ago with April, I just had to keep reminding myself of that.

Both my girls were potty trained somewhere around two-and-a-half, but both were very different about it. Julie was very gradual. Baby steps. April woke up one day after we got back from Maui and wanted to wear panties. She’s had so few accidents since that I can count them on one hand. She was simply an “overnight baby”.

I personally had no desire to potty train before my kids were old enough to walk to the toilet, pull down their britches, and climb up onto that toilet seat by themselves. I don’t mind wiping and helping them button their jeans, but being somewhat self-sufficient in the crapping department makes my job MUCH easier than those moms who were running their baby boys to the nearby tree with their peens popping out of their pants. Plus, baby penis FREAKS ME THE FUCK OUT.

But in all seriousness, I did not find potty training my kids all that difficult or frustrating. Maybe my girls are just amazing like that and the complete exception to the rule? No, I doubt it. I think maybe they made the choice a little sooner than some, but I think it’s also just part of the fact that there was no pressure for them to be interested.

Yes, world, believe it or not, I’m a pretty good potty trainer! Woo hoo! How’s THAT for a fucking claim to fame?!

Current Mood:Bored emoticon Bored

Random Thought

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

I’m trying to figure out why people all over Facebook get all sorts of glamour shots of themselves that look nothing like them and post ‘em for the world to see. It seems a bit vain and sort of weird and it’s a little awkward for the rest of us as we flip through them out of sick curiosity. Do I dare comment? What do I say? “You look, um, gorgeous in this one, even though I’d never guess it was you…

Not to say you shouldn’t, if you’re one of them. Not to say I shouldn’t learn how to control my curiosity, because I certainly ought to figure it out.

Just sayin’.

I must admit, it does kind of looks like fun. Though knowing myself, they’d be totally naughty boudoir style, so I would certainly restrain from posting them on something like Facebook.

Side Note

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I just wanted to say thank you to the peeps who sent me an email in response to yesterday’s post. I’ll try to get around to responding, but my kids both have doctor appointments, and I have had a really bad week and I’m kind of grumpy.

For the record: I love personal emails in response to my blog, but I find it odd that most my readers who DO comment usually do it via email instead of leaving a public comment.

Are you all just afraid to admit YOU’RE READING MY BLOG? *grin*

I’ve been toying with the possibility of doing away with Surprisingly Sane for a little while, so if you love it and don’t want it to die, don’t be shy to tell me. I have a bit of life plans for the future in progress that I’m not entirely sure I want this blog to see, but if the good outweighs the bad and you guys really are getting something from reading it- even just entertainment value, I’ll keep it around. If I do, I’ll probably be a sellout and start selling ad space since I’m getting more and more emails from ad companies wondering if they can post a picture of a bright purple vibrator on page 2534. When you reach a certain number of page views and unique visitors a day, advertising just starts making sense.

At the moment, I’m feeling kind of torn between the fact that my once-fairly-private blog was my space to air all of my dirty laundry, and now it’s become a grazing field for secret, quiet readers at 10x the amount (hello, I know you’re out there, and I know what you googled to get here). Which is fine. But I need to figure out if I’m comfortable with that, and if it’s really worth it.

Current Mood:Alarmed emoticon Alarmed

Expression of Anger

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Last week my therapist told me I need to find a way to allow my self to feel angry and actually express it.

“What would your anger look like? Could you dance your anger?” I believe I shot Dr. T a dark look of disgust at that point. ”How would you paint your anger? Or would you run your anger? How would you express it?”

I nodded, “Oh, I write my anger sometimes. And I piss everyone the fuck off when I do, so I’ve learned that it’s not a safe outlet.”

“If you were to express your anger, what would it look like?”

I thought for a second before answering, “Well there’s this person that I really hate, and I’d love to bash their head in with a baseball bat. Over and over again. Would that be a good way to express my anger?”

I don’t think my therapist was expecting that, because he sat up sharply  in his high-backed chair with his eyebrows raised and kind of chuckled. I was feeling pretty on edge and almost asked him if he had a bat available, but my better internal half decided against it.

I get angry. A lot. But I have never been able to safely express it. Showing anger as a child usually left me ridiculed, screamed at, or left me in timeout while harsh words were exchanged amongst adults about my horrible behavior. Turning away and secretly bursting on the inside is my coping mechanism of choice, but what happens when the floodgates grow weary of their burden and burst? Well, in my lovely bipolar brain, something literally snaps and I do something that is usually horribly self-destructive.

Right now, I hate people and the shit they do. I hate slimy, sleazy guys who take advantage of vulnerable girls during horrible times of their lives then dare to act like a wounded pussycat every time they see their prey in the room even ages later. I hate people who hurt everyone they can get their fingers on just to make some kind of selfish statement. I hate the fact that getting into school again in a city with more colleges than I have fingers and toes is confusing and a seemingly impossible task. I hate the fucker who shot a few people and killed a 19-year-old girl in my neighborhood last week. I hate the sickening characters who harmed children in that movie “Slumdog Millionaire” that I watched a few nights ago. I hate that I felt so much anger trying to get my daughter to eat some of her fucking pancake last night at IHOP that I had images of forcefully shoving it down her throat.

I hate that I have no means of actually expressing this anger because I never learned how, and it scares me just how forceful this boiling lava inside of me really is. I have scars on every one of my knuckles from years of beating punching bags when I was angry, but I never walked away satisfied that I’d spent my anger on those WaveMasters. It was still there.

And I hate that, more than anything, I feel so angry sometimes that I feel something inside screaming in agony to let me get my hands on a baseball bat and beat someone who has hurt me or someone I love into a bloody (but still breathing) pulp of dirty, broken bones.

But instead, I’ll do what I do best and just go plant my miniature roses into a new pot while the kids play in their sandbox, then make lunch and read with them. And hopefully they’ll never knowing that their mom is screaming on the inside.

Current Mood:Angry emoticon Angry