Potty Training Tools

I know I was curious about what I would need to have in the house before we started this whole potty training ordeal.

Turns out? Not much.

BUT, there are literally hundreds of products out there that feed into a potty-training parent’s fear of the unknown. Kind of overwhelming. Here’s where we landed.

BabyBjorn Potty Chair

We used the BabyBjorn potty chair at home to begin with. Highly recommended for starters. Easy to empty and rinse. We *really* dislike using it now, though, because Graham has become accustomed to holding his bladder for an hour or two. So when he goes he GOES, and we’re dealing with major splashing out and mess every time he uses it. Like I said, great for the beginning though. It made him super comfortable which the big potty did N-O-T.

Mayfair Built-In Potty Toilet Seat

For the toilet in Graham’s bathroom (and the only toilet upstairs), we have one of these. Love it. Great for little tushies, but no splashguard so beware. This looks like a regular toilet seat. Adults can use it (the lid has a magnet that holds up the kid-sized seat) and if kiddo needs to go, you simply flip the smaller seat down. Soft close hinges too.

Our favorite potty book

I was super doubtful about how helpful a book would be in the potty-training process, but I’m convinced this helped. This book specifically. It came recommended to me. It’s a book about a boy named Michael and is specific for boys. There’s one for girls too. Graham LOVED reading about Michael. Laugh at me if you will, but he identified with the boy in the book. I highly recommend if you’re out of other ideas. Graham had some apprehension about the whole potty thing, and I think this helped a lot.

A simple simon stepstool

Doesn’t get much more straightforward than this. Graham needed a stepstool both for handwashing and for standing up to potty. We went as basic as could be for this little guy, but it’s still an integral part of our lineup.


As for the miscellaneous other things…

For rewards, we use M&M’s. Just plain ‘ol M&M’s. :) If he ever decides to put poop in the potty, we’ve got some Kit Kats to bust out.

For standing up encouragement, Cheerios helped a ton. And by that I mean – throw a Cheerio in the bowl and tell the kid to pee on it. Graham doesn’t even really try and aim for them, but it helps him to concentrate on something in the bowl. If we’re short on Cheerios (say, out in public) a square of toilet paper works fine too!

When we’re out in public – since we’re not dealing with poop quite yet – Graham just stands on our feet and stands up to pee. Pretty simple, actually. If we ever get to pooping in the potty, I’ll update with our out-in-public solution.


Of course – all this works for *our* kid. Everybody is different. I just know that I enjoyed reading other people’s experiences so I had a few things in my back pocket to try with Graham.

Just Like That… We’re Potty Training for Real

Week before last, Graham pulled the same stunt: wouldn’t leave the house without Thomas underwear on. Fine. I took him to class with an extra set of clothes and told the school to see how he does. I picked him up that night wearing the same clothes I’d dropped him off in (!!!)… wearing a diaper with his Thomas underwear over it (?!?).

(Apparently the teacher took him to the bathroom and asked if he wanted to wear his underwear or his diaper and he responded “yes,” so that’s how they translated.)

Not even a day later, Graham’s insistence on wearing underwear quickly fused with his refusal to put on a diaper. Tears over a diaper. Rage and gnashing of teeth over THE DIAPER-WEARING THING.

So, that was our motivation. We told him that he could wear underwear pants – as Graham calls them – but that we’d take a weekend to see exactly what that entailed. Just to see if he was serious.

Here’s how our week went down…

Saturday (first full day in underwear): Lots of successful uses of the potty. A few accidents.

Sunday: One accident.

Monday (first day at school): Four accidents. And a request to “just pee on the drain” in the middle of the daycare bathroom floor. Pottying is hard, folks. I can’t blame him, really. Plus, he had to learn how to get comfortable with a lot of other kids around. That’s not easy.

Monday night: Nightmare at midnight, then woke up crying for mommy and daddy at 2, 4 and 5 a.m.

Tuesday: Lots of tears about using the potty at home in the morning.  Had a long talk about whether or not he really wanted to do this and what wearing underwear was going to mean (long term) from a work-you-have-to-do standpoint. Graham insisted on trying for the underwear. Two accidents at school that day.

Wednesday: Two accidents and the introduction of standing up at the potty at home that night.

Thursday: Successful standing up at the potty at home in the morning. Zero accidents all day.

Friday: Zero accidents.

On like that through the weekend. Still no accidents. Except for that morning he peed on our not-even-24-hours-old brand new carpet while waiting for Andy to get his stepstool out of the car (at his very insistence). Grrr.

I should mention we’ve had a lot of night wakings and calls out for “Mommy” and “Daddy”. Graham is uncharacteristically needing extra extra comfort and cuddles from us right now. I can’t say that I mind at all.

So how do I sum it up the whole process? We did two things, really:

1. We waited until he was ready. I mean, conscious-decision, grit-your-teeth-and-do-it kinda ready.

2. We didn’t fuss around with Pull-ups. He moved straight into underwear. Messier, yes. But he got the idea REAAALLY quickly.

For the second point, I had to get full alignment with Graham’s daycare teacher that she was on board. Like I said, it’s a messier route than Pull-ups, which will catch an accident. His teacher had taught her daughter to use the potty by switching her over to underwear in a similar way, so she was on board with the plan. The only caveat: if he wasn’t showing signs of readiness or improvement, she’d have to insist he wear Pull-ups or diapers and try again later.

I claim no expertise either. We’re not done yet. Graham’s still not pooping in the potty. But since he’s been in underwear, he’s been waiting for diaper time at nap or bedtime to take care of business. That will come with time too, I’m sure.


For the Love of All Things… Control Yourselves!!

Many of you know. We got new carpet this weekend.

The news of this really set people’s logic alarms off because, uh, you have a cat. And a dog. Oh, and a toddler. And you’re soon to have another boy running around the house.

I know. I know all of this. Trust me. We moved into our house in 2006. It was two years old and had the builder’s trademark short pile carpet in the color Of Course, Everyone Loves Beige! But honestly? Like the rest of the house, it didn’t need immediate attention.

We decided to get a dog shortly thereafter in early 2007, so of course, carpet didn’t make sense when you have a lab puppy running around the place.

Then we had the cat-that-would-not-stop-pooping-peeing-everywhere situation (*cough*Mookie*cough*) for the next couple of years, followed by the imminent arrival of our first baby in 2009/10, who would also contribute to spit-up stains and god-knows-what-the-hell-that-was stains.

Suffice it to say, new carpet never seemed like a good idea. Until we both realized that, wow, we really need some new carpet, dear. Because of ALL OF THAT, and the fact that we’d managed to stretch 8 years out of builders-grade carpet. A miracle, I say.

So we had it installed last weekend. And it is like having a new house (kindasorta). It’s taupey and nerdly (yes, that is so  a word..) and so amazingly cushy that Andy had to convince me not to camp out on it the first night post-installation.

My new carpet euphoria was somewhat tarnished the next morning when we found a suspicious wet spot in the middle of the upstairs hallway outside the bathroom. Graham had been running around naked from the waist-down, having demanded that he would not have his morning pee in the toilet, thank you, until Andy had run allll the way downstairs to the car to get his stepstool for the toilet (long story there).

If you have potty trained children, you know: the morning pee waits for no man. And wait, it did not. But we had no solid evidence except the puddle we had found. We kept asking Graham if he’d done it, but he was too busy running crazy from room to room on the new carpet to confirm or deny our allegations. Eventually, he ran up to Andy and I, who were still huddled in horrified awe over the pee puddle on our not-even-24-hours-old carpet, and said, “Yes, I did it. I pee-peed carpet.”

Great. Well, that makes a good story anyway. I GUESS.

We spent the rest of the weekend hanging with family, intermittently answering questions like “Are you going to keep Hugo shut up now [that you have new carpet]?” and “Are you going to let the cat go upstairs?” Innocent enough – I know where they come from. Pet owners, though, you know where we’re coming from. When you choose to let an animal share your house, there’s not really much sectioning and sanctioning you can do of the different areas.  We knew this.

And we had to remind ourselves of this REALLY HARD yesterday, because when I went to get Graham out of bed in the morning, I walked upstairs to find that Hugo had pooped right outside his bedroom (approximately where Graham had peed himself just a few days prior).

“You have GOT to be KIDDING ME!!!!!” I cried. Graham, from the other side of the door added, “Hi, Mommy. You OK Mommy?”

I let Graham out of his room and let him see what Hugo had done. I asked him to stand back and keep his hands to himself and wait while Mommy cleaned things up. Graham watched and verbally debriefed the situation while I cleaned.

“Hugo poop on da floor. No Hugo poop on da floor. Hugo in BIG trouble…” and so on and so forth.

I’m going to take the time now to put a completely unsolicited word in for Bissel’s Little Green Machine. I’m trying to campaign for every new mother to add this to her baby registry. Every pet owner should have one too. No excuses. I don’t need to tell you what variety of smelly messes comes out of children and animals. Nor do I need to list all the possible less gross spills and stains they cause.

Enough said. Worth every penny.

This morning, I was watching Hugo like. a. hawk. He followed me upstairs to get Graham out of bed, and I made him march straight in the room with me and sit there while I changed a poopy diaper. I told Graham to run across the hall to the bathroom to use the potty before we put his briefs on.

Hugo had at some point slunk out of the room and when I turned around I saw Hugo slowly passing in front of Graham’s doorframe, doing the infamous dog butt-scoot across the freaking carpet.

I lost it.

“YOU!” (pointing and snapping at Hugo) “STOP! LAY DOWN.” Graham had run back to the hallway, pantsless, to see what the commotion was about. I raised my eyebrows and lowered my voice and said, “And you…” Graham went wide-eyed, “… back in the bathroom! Go pee pee on the potty and we’ll get your underwear on.” Attention back to the dog, “YOU. Don’t even think about it. Stay put!!! You’re going outside next.”

Both boys obeyed with a wide-eyed ‘yes ma’am’ stare. We had no accidents and everyone survived the morning happily enough.

Dear New Carpet, I swear we’re not normally like this. Please don’t give up quite yet.

Potty Training: The Prologue

Graham is :::dun-dun-DUN::: potty training. And you know what? It hasn’t been as bad as I’d convinced myself it would be.

I had no inclination to start seriously potty training this early. (Graham is almost exactly 2-and-a-half, and I’ve always kept age 3 in the back of my mind as the time we’d start really putting some effort into this. That’s not to say we’ve ignored the concept completely, though.

Right around his second birthday, I ordered a potty chair on a whim. He’d sit on it and think it was funny. It was several months later, when he moved into the older early preschool class (where everyone is supposed to be seriously potty training), that I caved under some pressure and bought some big boy underwear. Who can resist these, after all?

Surely not Graham. Sometimes we’d put them on him at night, at his insistence. He was getting pretty good at emptying his bladder on the potty before getting into the bath, so sometimes we’d let him run around in these after the bath. He thought it was a riot. We did too.

At some point, Graham got into the Thomas the Train cartoon series in a big way. We had a pack of Thomas underwear stashed in the drawer too, and somehow… some way… wearing those Thomas underwear became the biggest reward that kid could wrap his ever-loving mind around. He’d do anything to wear that Thomas underwear.

One morning about a month ago, he insisted that he wear Thomas underwear to school, couldn’t talk him out of it. He pooped his [undiapered] pants promptly at 8:00 am that morning.

Aaaand scene. I was in no mood to be washing poopy underpants out because my kid had a thing for Thomas. Clearly he wasn’t ready for this, and I was in no rush.

Little did I realize, though, that all the things I’ve described above were just his version of sticking his toes in the water, so to speak. Like Braxton Hicks contractions… they seem like nothing, but really – they’re leading up to the real thing.


This, That & the Other

I was going through my iPhone photos tonight and realized that a lot has gone on in the past month that I haven’t really talked all that much about. Here are some snippets.

Crosby, Stills & Nash

I Facebooked about this, but earlier this month I got to go see one of my parents’ favorite bands of all time. I grew up on the harmonies doled out by this three (with or without Young), and it was absolutely thrilling to see them in person.

Know what I found out? David Crosby is funny. Favorite little monologue of his:

“You know, people call us a political band… I’m not sure why. We mostly write love songs. But, while I’m at it, I’ll give you one political opinion. :::applause::: Just one…

I don’t think that when our forefathers were writing the Constitution that they  intended for the guy with the biggest T.V. budget to get the keys to the kingdom… :::roaring cheers from the crowd:::

… I wrote a love song about that.”

I’m sure I’m not doing it justice, but the line was perfectly timed. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Toddler Happenings

I haven’t really had a ton of time/energy to write about Graham’s development, but folks – we have seen such an improvement in behavior and decline in primitive toddler rage as Graham’s verbal development has really taken hold. We don’t count words in sentences anymore – the kid talks in short paragraphs now. I love this age.

Graham wants to do everything that we do. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the kid loves his guitar (yes, that’s a ukelele). I have never seen a kid so young with the kind of strumming action Graham has. He’s definitely been watching his father. Granted, he doesn’t always default to holding the guitar like this (hence the picture moment), but it’s amazing to see how much he picks up on. He sings into drumsticks like they’re microphones. He even told his Daddy yesterday that he would really like some drums like Brobee [the Yo Gabba Gabba character] plays on T.V.

With the changes in his vocabulary has come a certain change in awareness. In talking about the arrival of this enigmatic “Baby Brother” of his, he’s realized that there are things for babies and there are things for big boys. We actually haven’t pushed that concept too hard – trying not to force him into more responsibility than he’s ready for – but he’s drawn some of his own conclusions.

One of those realizations was that baby brother was going to wear diapers. And that he… also wore diapers. But, he pointed out, Graham is not a baby. That one sat for a few days and then – bam – sudden renewed interest in the potty and all things “underwear pants”. He went to school in undies today and stayed in them all day. Not the same pair, mind you, but there’s progress being made here. :)

Andrea’s Baby Shower

My friends and I threw another friend a baby shower this weekend. I mentioned it in my last post. She’s just about 30 weeks along with her first, a boy. Jaime and I ‘catered’ the event. It’s so fun to cook and yet… there’s rarely time to do it with any sort of real dedication with the kids (Jaime has twins).

We went really SUPER big on the menu, then slowwwwly pared back to sanity. This is the spread we ended up with.

Stuffed French toast casserole, yogurt & berry parfaits, caprese skewers, three kinds of crostini (goat cheese & fig, apricot & manchego, goat cheese & basalmic tomato), veggies, pita chips and hummus. All said, we unwittingly made a 100% vegetarian menu. We didn’t really set out to, but were pretty darn pleased with ourselves after the fact given our guest of honor is vegetarian. 😉

Ooh… and check these puppies out.

Speaking of things we don’t have time to do but still did anyway – Jaime and her mom made these adorable and AMAZINGLY delicious cupcakes. One set are Black Forest cupcakes and the other set are Vanilla Caramel. :::dies::: They were off the charts delicious.


So that’s kind of what we’ve been up to lately. Just squeezing in this and that. This weekend Craig and Susan are coming down to visit and we’re getting new carpet on Friday. It’s things like my unabashed excitement over carpet that tell me I’m not in my 20s anymore. Just saying.