sitting proud

28 12 2006

Peter on PottyOne of the rougher stages of our first child was potty training. Emma was ready when Emma was ready, and no outside influence was going to hurry the process. She was finally ready at age 4. In all of our attempts to get it to come together, we accumulated quite a collection of videos, books, and potty seats.

While holiday shopping for Peter earlier this month, I stumbled on a familiar video – Once Upon a Potty. This is a very popular book and video that is available for either boys or girls. We own the video on VHS – starring Prudence. Even though it did not spark immediate success for Emma, she really liked watching the video. I purchased the DVD starring Joshua – the version for little boys.

I played the video once for Peter. Emma watched too – she remembers the “Potty Song” from watching it over 3 years ago. Before the video had ended, he was singing along – nailing the melody perfectly in tune after one hearing. When the video ended, he asked to see it again and again.

The next day, Peter asked for the “Potty Movie”. I had Emma run upstairs and bring down the potty seat that has been sitting in the bathroom – virtually unnoticed since setting it there in November. I sat the potty down in front of the TV. The video started, and Peter sat down on the potty, drank some juice, and sang along until the video ended.

I think we’re onto something here… more to come!

Once Upon A Potty



18 12 2006

dictionaryThe American Heritage Dictionary offers the following definition:

sen·tence (sěn’təns) n.

  1. A grammatical unit that is syntactically independent and has a subject that is expressed or, as in imperative sentences, understood and a predicate that contains at least one finite verb.

I, therefore, present to the world Peter’s first self-assembled sentence, uttered repeatedly until the request was honored:

“I want juice.”

It seems to meet the defined criteria. It’s blunt, not terribly polite, but delightful to hear!

Go Peter!


16 12 2006

Tomorrow WorldThe elevator brought Emma and me up the the roof top ride in Disney World. As we ascended, the elevator’s loudspeaker reminded us of safety issues, told us of Tomorrow Land’s vision, and finally reminded us that there was no smoking permitted at this portion of the Disney complex.

Emma turned to me and asked, “Dad, what is smoking?” There was a collective gasp from many adults who were riding in the elevator with us. I’m sure they were wondering how I would answer this innocent question. I quickly replied, “We can talk about it when we get back to the hotel tonight.” Emma was satisfied with this, and we exited the elevator to enjoy a rooftop spin in a spaceship. The other adults in the elevator were satisfied too, but one dad offered how difficult this subject is in his house, due to the fact that his son’s grandmother smokes cigarettes, and it makes the teaching of cigarette dangers complicated.

cigarettesCigarette smoke is poisonous. I certainly am no scientist, but there are some things are are obvious enough for most to grasp without having to “Google” or research. Cigarette smoke hurts me. No, I’m not being overly dramatic. When I come close to cigarette smoke, my inhalations are painful. On days where my sense of smell is dulled by a cold or allergies, I will feel the pain of the smoke before I smell it. My body reacts so keenly to cigarette smoke, that I can tell you if someone is smoking in another car, 3 vehicles away at a stop light – all with the windows closed tightly. I feel this pain every day – only when I am in proximity to burning cigarettes.

Here’s the interesting twist. Cigar smoke does not hurt me – pipe smoke does not hurt me (hurt, no – harm, yes). Cigarette smoke hurts always. The complete list of ingredients in a good (not a ‘Swisher Sweet’ from the drug store) cigar is:


That’s it. Hmmm. If burning cigarettes hurt to be near, and cigars do not, then it must be something other that the tobacco that irritates me so greatly. You will never get a list of what is in a Marlboro cigarette. It certainly would be different than the list of ingredients in a Camel Cigarette.

If you buy loose tobacco & roll your own cigarette, take one puff & set it down in an ashtray, it will go out in a few seconds. If you pull a manufactured cigarette out of a pack, light it, take one puff, and then sit it in an ashtray, it will continue to burn all the way down to the filter. There must be something added to the ingredients list of that cigarette to keep it glowing without the fanning of being smoked. Additionally, a Marlboro smoker will always return to buy Marlboros. What is in that cigarette that channels the addiction so narrowly?

My personal physical aversion to cigarette smoke steers me (intellectually & emotionally) to teach my children that cigarette smoke is poison – to be avoided as if it were gunfire. Like my elevator companion at Disney World, I have close family members who smoke cigarettes. My daughter will ask why these family members smoke cigarette. She will wonder why they are hurting themselves and others – even the bearded guy in the car behind the car behind them. He smells it. It physically hurts to breath it. She will ask why they are doing something that will make them sick. Maybe I won’t have to face this. Perhaps this blog entry will be that last small shove toward quitting that will stick.

Emma will ask her question again. I will be honest with her. I can’t put it off another time. I have a responsibility to do so.

goldie’s travels

3 12 2006

Goldie on TourA few years ago, I started a freshwater aquarium in my living-room. I saw this as a hobby I could share with my kids. Responsibility of pet care, in-tank births & deaths, and the beauty of aquatic life offers lessons daily. Emma loves the tank, and Peter is really starting to take notice lately as well. Of all the creatures that live in our tank, the family favorites have to be our 4 Mystery Snails – one ivory colored, one black, one blue, and a gold one. Our gold snail is named (of course) Goldie. Goldie offers round-the-clock entertainment. She is comical. She is rocket-fast (for a snail). She performs death-defying feats (imitating the Acapulco cliff diver), and she is always visible, due to her bright orange shell & the constant need to be in the limelight.

Four days ago, Goldie was nowhere to be seen. This is unusual, but not unheard of – there is a large castle-on-the-rocks sculpture in the tank, and any creature can hang out inside the castle, unseen for any length of time. As the days pass, Goldie does not come out, and a flashlight shining through the castle windows reveals no Goldie inside. Hmmm. Emma misses her, and wants to know where she could be hiding. The answer is always “in the castle”, but it has become clear that she is not in there. Her shell is too big & orange to hide for this long. I planned to implement the standard “Plan B” on Monday – when the kids are in school, I will stop at Petsmart & pick up another golden mystery snail.

Today’s cleaning/furniture rearrangement session revealed a startling & horrifying finding; Goldie was on the floor – dry & sporting a dust-bunny jacket. Fortunately, Emma did not see what I had found on the floor. I dusted Goldie off and poked at her trap-door. It felt leathery. Poor Goldie. She may have been there for 5 days before the grusome discovery this morning. Remembering that my brother told me of how his snails love to climb above the waterline in his tank, I wondered if there is any chance that Goldie could be alive, and waiting to dazzle us with another one of her unbelievable circus stunts. I scooped some aquarium water into a cup and dropped Goldie’s lifeless body into the cup. No luck. Goldie just sort-of got wet, but no movement, as I assumed.

As I left for a performance this afternoon, I looked in the cup. There she was… climbing up the side of the cup – ready for her next death-defying escape. I poured her back into the aquarium, told Emma that Goldie’s back, and watched with amazement as she climbed and explored – as if nothing ever happened!

Mystery snails have one more trick up their shells: Even if their ponds were to dry out, they just bury themselves in mud, close their shells up tight (they have a trap door which is called an operculum) and they go to sleep until conditions are better again. This is something like hibernation but is actually called aestivation. But, unlike hibernation, this sleeping state can actually last for years. Mystery snails are good survivors! They can even survive in polluted water and waters low in oxygen.

Welcome home, Goldie.