Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Success with 3 Day Potty Training

We survived our three days of potty training. More than that, I would say it was a success. We still have a bit of perfecting to do, but Joci is doing awesome!

We followed Lora Jensen's 3 Day Potty Training from this website. I would recommend it.

Saturday we got up, ate breakfast, and changed our last diaper. Joci put her new panties on and helped me throw all her diapers away (well, we only threw away the two that were in the changing station, the rest will be donated to daycare).

The plan was to watch her like a hawk and the second I saw her going potty, I would rush her into the bathroom. But no...Joci has her way of doing things. I said, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty." She said, "Joci potty!" So we ran to the bathroom and Joci sat on the potty and did it. No accident at all. No dribbles. The second incident was just like that. She just went! What a stellar start!

Of course we had accidents. By Sunday afternoon, Joci was a bit stubborn. She was sick of hearing "Tell Mommy if you have to go potty, okay?"

But Sunday night, Joci figured something out. She realized she is allowed to get out of her bed and room if she's going potty. So she kept getting out of bed to go potty. She did it probably five times in 30 minutes - but she went potty every time. You could tell she was just squeezing out anything she could just so she could get out of bed and get a treat. But she got it!

She got up at 2 a.m. I took her potty and she went. She went back to bed. She was awake again at 4 a.m. and she was wide awake and ready to party. For an hour I tried to get her down. By 5 o'clock, Justin just said to bring her to bed with us. We all eventually fell asleep. I was so paranoid we would all wake up to a wet bed. But we slept in until 9 and Joci stayed dry all night.

Monday, Joci did perfect when she was awake. She had an accident during nap and one at night.

At daycare today, Joci only had one accident during her nap. I was worried she would regress at daycare because she is in a new class. But I am proud of her.

Overall, it was tedious. And it was boring. I couldn't be more than a couple feet away from her, with my eyes staring at her legs looking for drops. So yeah, it was boring and intense at the same time. But it was worth it. I kept a tally and at the end of the three days we had 31 successes and 13 accidents.

I gotta say that my 3-day weekend was not super fun and I was kind of relieved to go back to work. How awful of me to say. :) But it was worth it. Way to go, Jo!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Feeling Good About Today

Today I

  • Ate breakfast
  • Got dressed
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Weeded a flower bed
  • Made lunch
  • Changed the bag in the vacuum
  • Vacuumed the house
  • Unloaded a dishwasher of clean dishes
  • Handwashed a slew of pots and pans
  • Took care of all the dirty dishes
  • Watched an episode of LOST
  • Ordered pizza for dinner but still provided a vegetable
  • Showered
  • Oh, and potty trained a toddler.

I think I have accomplished a lot!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

3 Day Potty Training Coming Up

Parents are pretty passionate about parenting. Which is a really, really, really good thing. But I know all of us have experienced the unwanted, unsolicited parenting advice. I guess that's just part of people being so passionate about their roles as parents. :)

I bring this up because we have decided to potty train Joci this 3-day weekend.

And we've certainly heard a lot of opinions about it. I won't go into details.

Suffice it to say, that I know she is ready. The program outlines just what we need to do and I know of five children who this has been successful for in the past couple months.



Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Are You "Good at Being Bad"? John Hendricks, Hippin' the Hop

I enjoy supporting artists I like. Especially artists I know! There's a certain brotherhood (sisterhood? peoplehood?) among creative creatures and we like to see great talent be recognized and succeed.

Without further ado, I present John Hendricks.

I went to high school was this guy and always knew he was uber talented and uber cool. In fact, he wore bacon to school one day - fried bacon pinned to his clothes. And no one made fun of him. In fact, I think it started a food-wearing trend. Only someone super cool can wear bacon to school and start a trend.

yeah, he was that guy in high school

He is also just a really great guy. Really humble, genuine, really nice, and always considerate of others. Yeah, he might front a tough guy persona, but John is just one of the awesomest people I've ever known.

Except he did crash my wedding reception. I don't mind though.

I saw John at my ten year high school reunion last year. He told me how he auditioned and got a part with the Blue Man Group. And then he started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce a video for this song he wrote. I whipped out my wallet and offered a modest contribution.

John is a professional spray paint artist and I got an original piece of art for my contribution. {Seriously - how does one become a professional spray paint artist? I somehow missed that major in college.}



He has now made his video and it is...it is just John. I am surprised the baby doll isn't wearing bacon, but it's still pretty sweet.

{Random plug: here is John's blog. Well, it's more like his wife Laura's blog. I have only met her through cyber space but she is very witty and very pretty. She's also featured in the music video.}

So check out the video.



Support a budding artist by downloading his song on iTunes. Believe me, it will become your summer blasting anthem.

Proud to know you, John! Congrats on your video.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cheated by the Apocalypse

If the world really ends at 6 p.m. tonight, there are some things I am going to be miffed about. Really, the apocalypse should be a bit more convenient and considerate of the people whose lives are being ruined.

This article really got me thinking about all the things I would be bummed out to miss. The article lists ten pop culture events the author doesn't want to miss out on. I agree with about half, including:

9. The Hobbit Movies: Damn you, production delays! These films could have been holiday favorites in 2009 and 2010 and we could be enjoying them on DVD as the world comes to an end.

7. Charlie Sheen 3.0: Oh, c'mon. Aren't you even a little curious to see what he does next?
6. The Hunger Games Movies: All of those delicious casting stories. Now just teases.

5. Lindsay Lohan making a comeback for real: It could happen. Hey, you never know ... only now we might really never know.
4. Suri Cruise as a teenager: Weren't you looking forward to her growing up? The fashions, the hairstyles ... but mostly the tell-all book and karmic payback to TomKat for all of those late nights out with no coat?

3. The Royal baby: No Kate Bumpwatch. No Duchess of Cambridge bridal shower photo gallery. No Royal Baby Name Generator.
2. The 'Breaking Dawn' movies: We may never see Bella and Edward get it on on the big screen. Or see little Renesmee come to life! Thank goodness, we at least have leaked photos.

Okay, so the above stuff isn't mine...I just shout a big "AMEN!" of agreement with it. To add my own two cents, here are a few more things I would feel cheated about.

1. I've never been tan. I think I would look hot tan. But I avoid sun because of skin cancer, yadda yadda yadda. If it's all gonna end tomorrow, I regret not ever being a bronzed beauty.

2. My IRS tax audit. All that time and stress pulling together all the paperwork. Man, I would be MAD!

3. The final Harry Potter movie. Heaven wouldn't be heaven without a Harry Potter premiere party, right?

4. Dieting. Enough said.

5. Buying green beans and tuna fish at the case lot sale yesterday. Then again, if I am left behind, I'll probably be glad to have all that canned food.

6. I just started watching the series LOST. I will be seriously miffed if I never know why there are polar bears on that island!!!

On the flip side, I'm content that I haven't wasted time mowing my lawn. Sometimes procrastination really pays off.

What would you miss?

Happy end of the world, everyone!

  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Justin!

I dreamed of you long before I ever knew you...




Adorable. Funny. Adventurous.

My lover.
My best friend.
My partner in crime.
My rock.


Thank you for being my Prince Charming.

Happy Birthday, Justin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parkour!

Parkour has kind of been a theme around our house lately.

Of course we (and by "we" I mean Justin) look more like Michael Scott than a Hollywood stuntman...but it's fun.



Even Joci is in on the fun. She'll climb on top of the piano bench then shout, "Parkour!" and jump into my arms. Except I think she may be actually shouting "popcorn." French nuance is often lost on a two-year-old.

We did have one parkour incident that resulted in a foot to the face and a steamroll maneuver. We all survived.

Today Joci was sitting on the counter while I was making dinner. I turned my back for just a second and heard a thump. Joci had fallen off the counter. She had landed on her feet. She was a little spooked but okay. After a kiss, she insisted on being placed back on the counter. As soon as I set her there, she threw up her arms in a Rocky pose and shouted, "Parkour!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Loving these things right now...


Cherry Pomegranate Crystal Light


My electric blanket



Katy Perry music


My InStyler

 
Sonic Slushies - who knew there were so many?


The Office reruns - perfect for sick days.


Friday, May 13, 2011

C'mon Goat!

After work today, some coworkers and I went to the ranch of another coworker and saw her baby pygmy goats, emus, horses, and llamas. The baby goats were the size of my toy poodle. They were absolutely precious.

At first, Jocelyn was a little nervous of these tiny little goats. But she warmed up to them and fed them and for the rest of our visit she would loudly beckon, "C'mon, goat!" And guess what? Those little goats whould prance right a long after us!

The weather was glorious and all the kids had a blast - pun intended!

















Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Parable of the Window Well

The bottom of the window well is a hostile home. Always in shadow, it was constantly soggy and covered in a layer of half-decayed leaves and garbage.

Last spring with the gentle coaxing of the sun, a shoot emerged from the rotting, shallow soil. At eight inches tall, it greeted the world with a small white blossom. It had probably come from the genetic insistence of a wayward seed from the year before.

In time, I was sure it would cease its impossible struggle and simply become part of the rotting mulch that surrounded it.

By fall, the shoot would no longer be ignored. It grew taller than the window well, demanding the attention it did not receive from the lack of audience in a cold basement room. And it was no longer a shoot. It had branched and twisted and branched again. Without a doubt, it was a small tree.

Still, the bottom of the window well was not a good home. The tree's roots scalloped in and out of the ground, twisted against the glass of the window and snaked along the metal retainer. Fighting for hold and for nutrients, they were a tangled mess more on top of the ground than in it.

The tree couldn't stay.

It wouldn't be long until one of those determined roots found a weakness in the house's foundation and broke in.

Simply casting the tree aside seemed wrong somehow. It so wanted to live. It had proved its worth and its beauty. It thrived in the worst conditions.

We would transplant the tree.

After digging a hole for it in the front yard in a sunny, southern spot, Justin and I went to work to remove the tree from that window well. I climbed through the window into the well, and Justin worked from the yard, several feet above.

Digging, heaving, pulling, this tree did not want to move. Its knotted roots were in such a mess that there was no way to dig around them - and there was very little soil to dig anyway. Transplanting trees is delicate. The tree can go into shock. We were nervous initially but even more so now. There was no way we could remove this tree delicately. We cut away the roots. We tried to leave as long of portions in tact as possible. But twisted, broken, or cut, every root was damaged.

We shrugged, knowing the tree probably wouldn't last long now, but still planted it carefully in the prepared hole in the front yard, doctoring the good soil with mulch. A few days later the snows came.

Every day I expected to see the tree toppled, but it held.

In the long Idaho winter, it appeared dead. Just an outline of gray twigs. But every other tree looked that way too.

And now that spring has come to Idaho again, with nourishing rains and coveted bits of glorious sunshine, I saw this.





Every time I see this little tree (now taller than me in just a year), it just fills me with hope. I draw strength from it, as cliche as that is. If a single wayward seed can grow and bloom into a beautiful strong tree in one of the harshest places and survive a chainsaw massacre-like transplant and still bloom and prosper...then I have even more reason to bloom as well. I have a lot more going for me than this tree ever did.

I love this tree.

Bloom where you are planted.
Mary Engelbreit

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Duck Birthday Cake Tutorial


I knew I wanted to a duck theme for my daughter's second birthday. Her two favorite things right now are ducks and the color yellow, so it just made sense. I spent months pouring over images of duck cakes trying to decide what I should do. I swore I wouldn't do fondant because I've never used it before and had heard it tasted bad, but eventually I convinced myself that the cutest cake would be a 3D duck covered in fondant.

Step 1: Make fondant

I decided to make marshmallow fondant from scratch. I heard it tastes better and it is a LOT cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff.

Marshmallow Fondant
1 16 oz. bag of mini marshmallows
1 2 lb bag of powdered sugar
2-5 TB water
1/2 cup of Crisco

Melt marshmallows in microwave in 30 second increments. Stir thoroughly and microwave for 30 more seconds. Continue until marshmallows are completely melted - about two and a half minutes. Place 2/3 of the powdered sugar over the melted marshmallow mix. Using the Crisco, grease front and back of hands thoroughly. Grease the counter top. Pour mixture onto greased counter top and knead like bread. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and continue to knead. Regrease hands and counter whenever fondant begins to stick. If mixture tears easily, it is too dry. Add a teaspoon of water and knead thoroughly. After about 8 minutes, fondant should be a firm, elastic ball that can be molded and hold its shape.

Cover ball in Crisco, double wrap in plastic wrap, and seal in a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate at least overnight. Marshmallow fondant lasts a long time and can be made days and even weeks in advance. When ready to use, remove from fridge, grease counter top and begin kneading. Once it reaches room temperature, it will become elastic and pliable again. If you need a little more cooperation from it, microwave it. Beware though, it gets hot very fast.

Color fondant with food coloring. This can be stirred into the melted marshmallows or it can be kneaded in. Some argue that adding the food coloring in advance may alter the color results and recommend waiting until the day you will use it and knead it in.

Step 2: Make the cake

Knowing how much work the decorating would be, I didn't want to waste time making the cake from scratch. I doctored a boxed cake mix to make it denser to withstand stacking and the weight of the fondant. And the cake was delicious.

Cake mix
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk (whole milk will give best results)
1 TB oil
1 small box (4 serving) of powdered pudding mix of a complimentary flavor.

Mix ingredients together. Pour into greased cake pan and bake at 300-325 for a little longer than recommendations based on the cake mix instructions. Just check with a tooth pick every 10 minutes longer than the recommended time.
I used a 5 quart mixing bowl for the base of the duck. It took one and half cake mixes to fill it. I greased it and lined it with wax paper before pouring in the cake. It took about 4 hours to cook. I kept the temperature at or below 300 so the top wouldn't burn while the middle fully cooked.

I used two disposable tinfoil custard dishes for head. I also lined the bottom of these with wax paper.

Cool completely.

Step 3: Piece together with buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting
3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 cube butter (use Crisco if you need pure white frosting)
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla or almond
4 Tbsp canned or regular milk as needed

I doubled the recipe above to make sure I would have plenty.

I pieced the custard-dish cakes together with a really thick layer of frosting. The head needed a little height. :)


My base cake sunk a bit in the middle. I was really worried it wouldn't work out, but I trimmed off the bottom a bit and the cake was dense enough that it was just fine.


Then I cut it in half and added a layer of frosting.


Step 4: Chill

Place in freezer for a couple hours/overnight.

Step 5: Carve

Using a serrated knife, I rounded out the head.


And for the body, I shaped it a little bit too. I thought the base was too fluted so I trimmed off cake there.

The denser cake recipe and freezing the cakes made this part really easy.

Remember to enjoy the extra!


Step 6: Crumb Coat

Apply a thin layer of buttercream frosting to the cakes this catches all the crumbs and "locks" them in so won't appear in the final frosting layer.



Step 7: Chill

Chill until the frosting is firm.

Step 8: Frost

I wanted to add a thick layer of buttercream to go under the fondant for great taste and for those who would pick the fondant off.



Step 9: Apply fondant

Cover the counter with Crisco or powdered sugar. Roll out to an even 1/4 in thickness.


Drape over cake.

 
Trim with a pizza cutter.


Step 10: Stack cakes

Stick a straw in the cake all the way. Pinch and crease the straw where it meets the cake. Pull the straw up and cut it at the mark. Don't push back down.

Do this three times.

Set the top cake on top of the straws. The weight of the top cake will push the straws down into the bottom cake. The straws won't go into the top cake since they are the exact height of the bottom cake. These straws support the weight of the top cake so it doesn't crush or misshape the bottom cake.


Step 11: Decorate cake

My mom and I made the wings, feet, eyes, beak, etc., out of fondant. We were able to attach the smaller pieces using only buttercream frosting. The bigger pieces need toothpicks as well.


I dyed the leftover frosting green and spread it to represent grass on the foil-covered cookie sheet.

I made the fondant five days early. I baked and chilled the cakes on Friday, then really went to town frosting and doing the fondant on Saturday. The birthday was on Sunday. It was definitely not a project I could've done in a single day or the day of the birthday. I am glad I gave myself plenty of time.

And the final result.




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