Saturday, June 19, 2010

January 5, 1994

After 16 years (that long already??!?), I still remember that date. Why is that date important to me? It is the date I quite drinking Mountain Dew.

My first trimester of college I started drinking Mountain Dew for the caffeine kick. I hate coffee, so I turned to soda. I guess Coke just wasn't enough, because I don't really like Mountain Dew either, but I was drinking it.

The turning point came when I returned from Christmas break. At breakfast on January 5, 1994, I noticed that I had 3 glasses of Mountain Dew on my tray - and I didn't even like it! Why? Because I thought I needed the caffeine to get through the day.

I stopped cold turkey. I switched to juice with my breakfast. I do drink the occasional Coke, but I don't crave it, usually. I admit I have days when I'm exhausted and really need the caffeine, but I feel much better not having to depend on a chemical to get me through the day. The first couple of days were rough until my body learned to fuel itself. Yes, your body does have to adjust to not having caffeine if you've been drinking it regularly.

The reason for this reminiscence is that Chris is trying to cut himself off from Coke. He's been depending on it too much and wants to stop drinking it every day. So today he is trying to go cold turkey. Hopefully he will stick with it. I think in a few days he'll feel better, but it will probably be rough for a few days.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Potty training: a psychology experiment

I really think potty training is a psychology experiment. Each child has something different that makes them tick and discovering what works and what doesn't is frustrating in the extreme.

We're trying to potty train Wil this summer. He will be in the 3 year old class at school next year, which means he has to be potty trained by mid-August. We have tried potty training a few times before without success, so we're taking it easy this time and hoping it will stick.

We've watched videos, including the much-lauded Elmo potty video. While enjoyable, that didn't do the trick. We have potty books. He loves the pee book, but hasn't connected it to himself.

We've tried having him sit every hour. Nope, he has the control to hold it until he's off. We even tried dribbling warm water on him while he was sitting. Didn't work.

We have sticker charts with a reward for filling the chart in. That sort of works, as he tells me he gets a treat for filling the chart in, but I don't think it is concrete enough.

I think he is so used to going in a diaper, he doesn't feel comfortable going without one. So, we're trying leaving him commando until he goes. Right now, I am aiming for once a day. Once we have that down, we will try for more, but I don't want to push too hard and fail again. Between realizing that he would hold it until he had a diaper or underpants on, and his asking for a diaper, I think I might be on the right track.

We are also offering small prizes each time he goes because waiting for a big one was too long. He'll still get a big prize when he fills the chart, but he needs more positive reinforcement right now. I took him to the friends of the library book store to pick out his first prize, a 50¢ book, and picked up a few more for the next few days. Today I picked up a couple of inexpensive books at Barnes & Noble (they were buy 2, get the 3rd free) for when he fills a row on his chart. I can also get some small gifts at the dollar store or the dollar bin at Target. I'm hoping to drop the daily prize once he gets to a big prize and just have him get a reward for filling a chart in the next few weeks.

He definitely feels proud when he goes in the potty. He has told his grandmas and some neighbors that he peed in the potty. Having people he looks up to get excited helps him get excited.

One of the breakthroughs came the other evening when he told me Buzz Lightyear wears big boy underpants because he uses the potty. Maybe as we get closer to school, that will finally make an impression and motivate him.

So our experiment is continuing as we find the keys to making Wil want to use the potty. I am really looking forward to getting both boys out of diapers. I am over changing them, plus they are expensive. Our budget would definitely improve without spending $100/month on diapers and wipes.

If anyone has any other suggestions, I am willing to try them. Once Wil is well on his way, I am going to work on Sam. I was going to try both at the same time, but really needed to concentrate on Wil. I don't think Sam is quite ready, although he's motivated and interested, so waiting a few months with him is ok. He's not even 2 yet!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Family reunion

This weekend was the Downs' Family Reunion. We all met at Oma & Opa's house in Evansville, IN for a weekend of food, fun and more food. We all had a really great time despite the boys having slight colds. Sam was very cranky, but still had fun.

We arrived Friday evening and enjoyed pizza and lasagna, Debi's peanut butter cake and Aunt Linda's lemon cookies with Oma & Opa, Chris's parents Jon & Debi, Uncle Jerry & Aunt Linda, cousin Jeremy & Katie & Claire, Uncle Nelson & Aunt Bonnie, cousin Brian & his girlfriend Courtney. The boys enjoyed meeting their second cousin Claire who is 4. Highlights included Sam playing with Brian's feet, everyone enthralled watching "Up" (many for the first time), Wil and Claire putting a puzzle together and CVS truck PEZ dispensers for the kids. Finally it was off to the hotel to sleep.

Saturday started early after a miserable night sleeping. Lesson: the boys both move too much in their sleep to share a bed. Also, sound carries a lot and people were down in the pool area talking all night. We enjoyed our free buffet breakfast at the hotel before once again heading to Oma & Opa's house. Cousin Valerie & her boyfriend R.C. had arrived early in the morning and my parents were expected around lunch time.

We brought our badminton set so Valerie, Aunt Bonnie and I introduced Courtney to the game with a friendly volley.... when we could keep the birdie going! It was hot so that didn't last too long before we all tired. Lunch was a picnic of ham and turkey sandwiches, chips, and some cold pizza. My parents brought their bocci set, which was a very popular game with almost everyone there playing at least one round. (Badminton did get played more later as it clouded up a bit.) Oma & Opa's dear friend and 'adopted' daughter Ahn & her fiance also came over for the afternoon and evening.

As the afternoon became sweltering, most of us went to the hotel to swim in the indoor pool for an hour or so, while the others relaxed as well. The pool was very fun and made an impression on Sam. He was talking about swimming in the hotel pool on the way home. Claire followed Chris around in the water quite a bit, which he enjoyed. R.C. almost fell in a very comic AFV fashion on the slippery deck while hopping over a channel. Wil and Sam blew some bubbles in the 'big' pool, but the boys spent much of their time in the 9" deep kiddie pool with Grandma Barb.

After swimming, we all went back to Oma & Opa's for a cookout. We had brats, burgers, hot dogs, Oma's potato salad, Uncle Nelson's baked beans, fruit salad, spinach & strawberry salad, Caponi Macaroni, Uncle Nelson's cheesecakes (raspberry and toasted almond), and mis-named 'Better Than Sex' cake (hey - it's not even chocolate!)

Unfortunately, Opa pulled a muscle in his back while helping to take Uncle Nelson's canopy tent down and Sam ran into things and bumped his head several times throughout the day, but we were othewise injury-free. The kids asked to watch "Cars"but the boys were getting cranky and losing interest part way through, so Grandma Barb & Grandpa Tom, who were also tired, took them back to the hotel to go to sleep while everyone else watched the movie. Saturday night was much better since Grandma Debi requested a crib for Sam. With the boys in their own beds, they slept through the night.

Sunday morning was again an early one (darn time change!) We had a light breakfast at the hotel's free buffet again before heading back to Oma & Opa's where brunch would be served ay 11. As we were leaving the hotel, Debi mentioned that she loved the hotel's shampoo and asked if we had used ours or if she could have it. Since she raved about it, we asked Jeremy, Brian and Courtney, who we ran into as we were loading the car and checking out, to bring her a bottle if they had one they didn't need. I thought it would be a fun thing to have everyone offer her one, plus it was a nice thank you for all her hard work putting this together.

While waiting for everyone to arrive back at Oma & Opa's house, Chris & I asked Opa to tell some family stories while we, and by we I mean Chris, video taped it. Jon, who is experienced at this sort of interview from his work with Ray Bradbury, stepped in to ask questions and elicited a lot of really great information. Oma joined in at the end with a few of her own stories, as well. We learned a lot of family history, especially since Jon knew what questions to ask. We'd really love to capture more. (There were plenty of family stories told by everyone all weekend. Too bad we couldn't capture all of them.)

Brunch, since I've shared all the other meals, included ham & cheese biscuits, bacon, potato breakfast casserole, and sticky buns. After eating one last meal with the family, it was time to divvy up the leftovers and head home.

We had a wonderful time and only regret that more of the family wasn't able to come and that there wasn't more time to spend with everyone. We missed cousin Julie & Ashley, cousin John Spencer, Uncle Wes, cousin Alex and cousin Caroline. Julie is performing as a backup singer on Brooks & Dunn's farewell tour - check it out if they come to a city near you - and had shows all weekend. I really enjoyed finally meeting Jeremy, Katie and Claire. And, with family spread all over the States (all on the same continent for once!), we don't get to see the Ohio or Florida Downs nearly as often as we'd like.