Sunday, April 25, 2010

Newspaper column

Who knew that potty training would be harder than childbirth?

At this point, I'd gladly go through 22 hours of labor if it meant a difinitive end to this horrible drawn-out battle of wills with my toddler and the toilet. I never thought I would be this obsessed with someone else's bodily functions. Ever.

When Allison was 19-months-old, I thought I had it made. She was successfully asking to use the bathroom on a semi-regular basis. Then it came to an abrupt halt. For the last nine months, I've tried everything from bribery to nonchalance. From Pull-Ups to pulling my hair out. And everything in between.

And everyone tells me girls are easier.

Granted, it hasn't been all bad. There have been a few moments worth celebrating -- however brief.

I came to the conclusion that she'll consistantly go on the toilet if she's not wearing a diaper, so most of her days at home are spent in the buff from the waist down. I felt like a complete genious until I covered her with a blanket while she was watching a TV show. That little bit of fabric somehow encouraged her to pee all over the couch.

Unfortunately, expressing my disappointment was far outweighed by the fun new toy revealed when I removed the cushion for cleaning.


Yes, the couch transforms into a toddler trampoline. And if that isn't incentive to keep peeing on the cusions, I don't know what is.

A few days later, her bare butt raised an eyebrow when a neighbor stopped by to ask if we'd like some leftover manure for our yard. I politely declined with the explanation that we had enough fecal matter to worry about at our house. We certainly didn't need any more.

There have also been a few moments that I had to just step back and laugh.

Allison asked to use the bathroom during our most recent weekly playgroup outing, and I couldn't have gotten her to the toilet faster. Knowing that time is of the essence, I practically jumped off the floor before she completed the request.

When the trip proved successful, I summoned my inner cheerleader, as usual, but this time it apparently wasn't enough.

"I want to go tell the guys!" she said, and proceeded to waddle to the door with her pants around her ankles, open it with surprising ease and announce to a room of shocked faces at her lack of clothes that she had, indeed, gone potty.

And because her audience was full of understanding moms going through the same difficult phase with their children, she got exactly what she was looking for -- an eruption of applause and cheers.

At that moment, it was great. But how do I follow that? Next time she'll expect a marching band.

She doesn't seem to care about collecting M&Ms, stickers or toys. She doesn't care if her pants (and socks) are soaked -- it doesn't phase her one bit.

When she wants to, she does. When she doesn't feel like it, she doesn't.

I think this is one battle she's going to have to tackle without me. My husband and I have done all that we can.

I can think of a thousand metaphors that would be appropriate in this case, but I've come up with my own.

You can lead a toddler to the toilet, but you can't force them to pee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2 years, 5 months (photos coming)

Dear Alli,

My gosh I'm up to my eyeballs! I've never worked so hard in my entire life, but I think I'm really on the cusp of a total life transformation, and I have you to thank because you're one of the biggest inspirations behind it.

I just need to find time to keep up with these letters! I'll kick myself so hard in 10 years if I don't. These are just as much for me as they are for you.

Anyway, after one year of being in business, I'm ridiculously proud to say that I'm going part-time at the newspaper. This was not without major sacrifices on all of our parts. Our schedules are absolutely crazy right now, but I know there will be a huge payoff when you're in school. You might not think so because you'll always have a parent at home to prevent you from getting away with things you shouldn't, but for me, it's indescribably amazing to know that I'll be around most nights of the week to tuck you into bed.

Just writing that makes my day.

You might not completely grasp what it is I'm doing, but clearly you know that taking pictures is my thing. Any camera in the world is "Mommy's camera." And, frankly, I kind of wish that was the case.

You often help me set up my studio before clients arrive by piling all of the props into the center of the backdrops and ask me to take your picture.

"Eee take my picture, Mommy? ... Eee get your camera?"

I just laugh and ask you to put things in certain places and cross my fingers that you don't knock over any of my light stands, although you're pretty respectful of the items I tell you are off-limits. But even though you're a crazy hurricane up there, it's much more fun than doing it by myself.

The other draw of the studio space for you is my candy jar filled with lollipops. Sometimes you just walk past the door to the third floor and mess with the handle — presumably hoping you'll one day hit the jackpot and gain unrestricted access to all of that sugar.

I'm not sure what I'll do when that day happens. Maybe buy a deadbolt.


You regularly see me editing photos of other children, and it intrigues you to no end. You ask to sit on my lap and want to know their names and where you might have seen or met them before. It amazes me that you retain the information, too. Weeks or months later, you can see a photo of someone on my blog or Facebook page and say, "Oh! That's Anna!"

You just amaze me.

In the mornings, we sit at the dining room table so I can get a little work done, and you use your giant bucket of crayons and markers to draw until your arms threaten to fall off. We've probably gone through an entire ream of computer paper this month alone.

You might not have mastered total control of your markers, but you always tell me what you're drawing. Just this morning, a random shape resembled a boat. When you said so, I reached over and added a sail and some water. I love that you can see things in your creations.

What we're doing isn't too different. We're both making art.

And even though I spend more time working on photos of other kids now, I want you to know that you're still my absolute favorite person, place or thing in the world to take photos of.

And you probably always will be.


I could write forever about you and your crazy antics, but my fingers would fall off describing them in detail, so instead, I'll see what little blurbs I can come up with.

  • Witnessing your imagination is so incredible. This morning you encountered my shirt that Toby lovingly dragged to the middle of the hallway, stopped, looked up and yelled, "WAIT! I have to jump ober the alligator!"
  • Music is still the glue that holds your days together. You sing constantly. You expect us to sing constantly. Meals often include serenading and clapping. Plus, thanks to satellite radio, you have no patience for commercials. Any talking in between the music is intolerable. "I WANT ANOTHER SONG, MOMMY!"
  • Speaking of which, you scream everything. If your voice was being recorded by a stenographer in a court room, she would use all caps. You are the loudest child on the planet.
  • Toby has become your best friend. You still harass the shit out of him, but then you'll say things like, "Hey, that's my friend Toby. Aww. He's a good boy." The two of you chase each other, you now share your toys with him and every morning you get a treat for him and help me pour his food for the day.
  • You are becoming quite the fashonista. I can't just pick out an outfit for you anymore, it has to meet your approval. You won't allow me to choose matching hair clips, either. If you want orange, we go with orange. Who cares that the rest of your clothes are green, right?
  • What you call me depends on your mood. When you're hurt, it's "I want my Mommy." When you're excited, it's "MOMMY!" When you're being silly it's "Mommer or Momila." Sometimes we spend 10 minutes just repeating each other's names in a funny way using different sounds and mimicking the other's inflections. I love it.

You're growing like a weed, and I can't stop saying things like "She's just such a KID!" all the time.

The biggest change is that you no longer want or need help for most things, and you're very clear about that. Everything is "BY MYSELF."

Move over Kelly Clarkson. You are the new Miss Independent.

You want to make your own lunch, get into the car on your own, walk not ride in the stroller and pull up your own pants. If only socks were easier, you'd probably throw a fit about those, too.

And I don't even THINK about getting the remote control. When it's time for a show, YOU must be the one to grab it. That is of utmost importance. Even though you simply pick it up off the table and hand it to me, that little exchange is an unspoken, nonnegotiable ritual.

I am only given access to it because you don't know which buttons to push to access the DVR yet. If I wasn't the gatekeeper to your cartoon world, I'm pretty sure you'd have no use for me at all at this point.

Well, that and pouring your milk.

I guess I'm still good for something!

Hey, I'm learning to step back kiddo, but I imagine I'll be fighting the instinct to do things for you as long as I live. I know it's important to let you try and master things on your own, but you'll always be my little girl. No matter how hard you try, you'll never outgrow that.

Momer, Mommy, Momma, Momila

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The places his brain goes is beyond me sometimes

During a walk, we stopped at the candy store to get something for a friend, and while we were there, I told Allison to pick out three pieces from the display case as a treat for us. Here's the conversation that followed after we rejoined Jerry and Toby who were waiting outside:

"I can't believe three bite-sized pieces of chocolate costs 2 bucks! It's worth it once in awhile, but still!"

"Eh. Don't worry about it. Think of all the money I'm saving."


"Well I save a ton of money by not having a crack addiction. That's like 500 bucks a month!"

"You're not right."

"And I don't hire hookers! Spitzer was paying $3,500 every weekend. So I've saved ... $10,500 already this month!"


"Seriously. The next time I want something, I'm just going to use the money I didn't spend on hookers."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sucks when your team is named after a cute animal and you have a toddler in the house

Jer: Hey, Allison, do you want to watch the Penguins tonight?!


Me: Um, you do realize you're thinking hockey and she's thinking "Happy Feet," right?

(Allison starts waddling like a penguin.)

Jer: Oh, God. ... Let me try that again. Hey, Allison, do you want to watch hockey tonight?


Me: Yep. You're screwed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Linking instead of reposting

I'm running a huge contest on Facebook right now, so I've been concentrating on keeping the content on my fan page and photo blog fresh. The newest post is one I think some of you will enjoy. Check it out here.

I'll be back here as soon as I can catch my breath!