Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Kids Books Reviews – Candlewick Press July 31, 2008

For most adults, checking the mailbox daily is as banal and routine as flossing; My children, on the other hand, clamor daily to accompany me to the end of the driveway to reveal its mysterious contents. Imagine my children’s happiness when Candlewick Press kindly sent a bundle of books for us to review. I assembled my distinguished panel of judges (Joseph, age 3; Noah, age 1; Daddy, old enough), and we’ve spent the last week weaving these tales into our regular rotation. Here are our (not paid for) impressions.

Beep Beep and Choo Choo by author/illustrator Petr Horacek.

These books are simple, but hardly simplistic. Aimed at children 2-5, early readers enjoy fun words for sounds: “Chug”, “clack”, and “toot” go the train, “Vroom” and “whee”, go the car. Reminiscent of our favorite Eric Carle books, Horacek’s mixed-media illustrations and playful die-cuts make these colorful books re-readable. Of course, both my sons are enthralled with all things that go, but these stories are especially meaningful; Joseph carries around the Beep Beep book and wistfully contemplates the last two pages, featuring first a window behind which Grandma peaks out, and at last, arrival at Grandma’s house. (We miss you, Gramma!) And Noah, my potty-trainer who adores trains, cannot get enough of Choo Choo. He too finds magic on the final page, when the train pulls up to the beach (“hooray!”). We are fortunate enough to live only a few miles from a sunny California beach, alongside which a train faithfully captures my little beach boys’ attention every time it passes.

Roadwork by author: Sally Sutton; Illustrator: Brian Lovelock

This beautifully illustrated book also features zany sounds made by a variety of construction machines. Following the crew as they build a new road, the text reads with poetic cadence. I like this one at bedtime, because I can read it much the way I do Goodnight Moon, as a spoken lullaby. Very handy for me, the final page has illustrations for numerous types of digging and building machines, so mommy can finally call a front-end loader a front-end loader, and an excavator and excavator. (I’m sorry to admit that I’ve called more than one type of machine a “bulldozer.”)

MiniBugs Books by author/illustrator: Jessica Spanyol

Keith and His Super Stunt Rally Racer; Bob and His No. 1 Van; Giorgio and His Star Crane Train; Clemence and His Noisy Little Fire Engine
Let me first say that if you have little ones who LOVE things that go crash! boom! bang! and those crashes result in everyone happily soaking wet or being tossed high into the air, they’ll adore this collection of Mini Bugs stories. These books are fast and vigorous story-telling; please be advised at bedtime! I can’t help but think that Ms. Spanyol writes like a “cool aunt” who brings her nieces and nephews the noisiest toys, the kind which eventually drive parents to the brink. The drawings resemble something she might have scribbled in her notebook, which I believe speak to children’s sensibilities. These are some silly, raucous books–beware!

 

Did You Bring Your Salad To Work? July 30, 2008

Apparently, today is National Bring Your Salad To Work Day. The press release received by food writers far and wide declared, “women across America are invited to bring their salads to work in an effort to eat better and feel more energized throughout the workday.” The invitation–which excludes male salad eaters in the workplace–was extended by Working Mother magazine and Kraft Salad Dressings.

I chuckled when Nancy Nichols at Sidedish asked, “Forgive a moment of naivety: Can anyone declare a national day?” She also points out that while Kraft and Working Mother request we set aside “a day to set aside to embrace healthful eating in the workplace”, salads do not necessarily equate to healthful eating; “Have you really looked at how many grams of fat and calories can hide under the name of salad?” Nichols asks.

As a consumer, I ask that you ponder the merits of Kraft salad dressings, which include ingredients such as modified food starch, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and propylene glycol—a chemical used in tobacco products, sexual lubricants and as the killing and preserving agent used to capture ground beetles.

So please, allow me to extend an invitation of my own. This recipe is an alternative to your typical green salad, “embraces healthy eating”, and offers enough fat and calories to satisfy as a stand-alone entree. In my experience as a food provider, it is also a hit with males.

1 ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1/2 cup minced spinach
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
4 large red lettuce leaves
Lemon slices, for garnish

Toss the mushrooms, cheese, spinach, lemon juice, and oil together. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Serve each portion on a red lettuce leaf and garnish with a lemon slice. Serves 4.
Note: Dressing should be added to salad no longer than 1/2 hour before serving, so that the mushrooms retain their best color and texture. If you do have leftovers the next day, try making a quick tartine, laying salad over a large slice of French or sourdough bread and warming in a toaster oven until cheese is melted. Yum!

For another satisfying and nutritious salad, check out Perfect Kale Salad

For more great recipes, please visit my other blog, Unassuming Foodie!

 

Livin’ La Vida Verde at GAIA Anderson Hotel July 24, 2008

Gaia Anderson Hotel and Spa

Gaia Anderson Hotel and Spa

We usually leave the world behind us when we check into a luxury hotel. Quite the opposite happens at GAIA Anderson Hotel and Spa, when the environment around us quickly becomes an object of reverence, and even the simple act of adjusting the energy-efficient in-room air conditioning unit causes a moment of reflection.

Built for $14 million, GAIA Anderson Hotel & Spa  opened for eco-travelers earlier this year (May 1, 2008). A cutting-edge, eco-operational hotel offering guests the ultimate experience of harmony with nature, GAIA Anderson received the highest LEED certification in the hospitality Industry in the United States. Every material used in the building of GAIA Anderson is recycled, or from a sustainable source. The lobby welcomes guests with monitors reporting real-time consumption of electricity, water and CO2 emissions.

  • GAIA creates 6-8% of its electricity and saves 14% light. The rest is purchased wind power. This is done creatively and attractively through the use of efficient, double-paned, low energy transmittable windows, solar panels, and Solatube tubular skylights throughout bathrooms, conference rooms, lobby and hallways. Skylights magnify the sun’s rays to deliver abundant light into interior spaces during the day, and cool reflective roofs reflect heat.

As we unloaded our bags, my children explored the room as children do, checking the phone, writing on the recycled-paper stationery with logo pen–made from recycled tires! I looked out our window at the lagoon with its own eco-system, surrounded by $150,000 of native and climate-adaptive perma culture landscaping. I admired the footbridge (made from lumber used for the hotel is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and followed the watery trail created by two lovely white swans. Before long, I realized that I was completely at ease, gently contemplative and relaxed; GAIA’s natural setting was working its magic on me. As a mother of two very young children, having just arrived from a 9-hour drive through parts of California affected by wildfires, the opposite should have been the case. Calmness and serenity are inherent to GAIA, making it suitable for stressed-out travelers and meditators alike. Even better, the hotel will soon be offering yoga classes in addition to the in-house fitness center.

  • The eco-hotel includes more than 5,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a full-service restaurant featuring California cuisine and local, artisan foods and banquet facilities for local events, weddings and other gatherings.
  • 122 environmentally-friendly rooms and suites are painted with low-VOC paints, have recycled carpets, energy-saving air conditioners and heaters that use 15% less energy, and ultra-cool toilets with buttons for half and full flushes. (We found similar ones on eBay and will be installing them at home!)

My children were enthralled with the white swans and kept track of their whereabouts regularly. Owner Wen-I Chang,  author, president of Atman Hospitality Group, Inc., and San Francisco-based developer of environmentally-friendly hotels in California, arrived at the hotel with two 6-month-old black swans, and introduced them to the lagoon. He picked each up one at a time, tossing them gently into the air. The birds fluttered joyfully to the ground and immediately waddled over to have him do it again. They had just flown in from Chicago and apparently, sometime along the ride to GAIA, the two decided Mr. Chang must be “daddy”, and followed him about the property. At such a young age, the birds’ feathers and beaks were mottled in color, but when they are full-grown, they will have gorgeous black feathers and deep red beaks. The white swans welcomed them affably.

What does “gaia” mean? In ancient mythology, Gaia is goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans. According to Merriam-Webster, gaia is the hypothesis that the living and nonliving components of earth function as a single system in such a way that the living component regulates and maintains conditions (as the temperature of the ocean or composition of the atmosphere) so as to be suitable for life; this system is regarded as a single organism.

Wen-I Chang nodded knowingly when I mentioned this. The living, self-aware, spirit of oneness resonates with the builder/philosopher. His hotel symbolically gathers weary travelers into life’s circle; The hotel’s buildings are designed in circular form.

The region’s climate offers some of California’s most extreme weather; While we live in Southern California (where a slight drizzle means a day off work), the Shasta Lake and Mount Lassen area surrounding Anderson presents nature at its finest, through four distinct seasons. Our summer visit coincided with 95+ degree F heat, so the hotel’s saline swimming pool was our first stop. Our children–both born at home in a birthing tub aided by midwives–are quintessential water babies. The experience of swimming in saline as opposed to chlorine is liberating: unexpected yet utterly familiar.

Mr. Chang welcomed me with a private tour of his hotel. The property is 1/3 mile in circumference; He enjoys walking around three times for 1 mile of exercise. At the entrance of the hotel, an elderberry tree with white flowers struggles to fight extinction. An arborist cautioned him that the tree had only a 51% chance of survival, but Chang is determined to see the species survive. When he planned the hotel, his layout provided protection for every elderberry, oak and pecan.

Mickey Meunnig designed entryway

Mickey Meunnig designed entryway

Architect Mickey Muennig, famous for his design of Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif., designed the hotel’s striking circular entryway, and had an active hand in Chang’s other green hotel in Napa, GAIA Napa Valley. Wen-I gestured wistfully at the circle’s edge, commenting that when ivy eventually dribbles from the structure, “it will be quite poetic.”

As we strolled about the property, Wen-I Chang stopped to pick up a praying mantis sunning himself on the footpath, placing it safely and gently aside; his compassion for even a small thing is a reflection of his attention to detail in his building projects. He directed me to what will become “Reconnect Circle”, a gathering place for guests to enjoy intimate outdoor concerts of cello and flute music, or bits from visiting comedians. Contruction of a 50×100 wedding site overlooking the Sacramento river is also underway.

In the history of hotel reviews, I may be the first to report on attractive storm drains. GAIA Anderson boasts 16 storm drains, beautifully contructed to become miniature landscaped ponds throughout the property during the rainy season. These “water features” will create temporary places of natural beauty, a gift to the traveler who happens upon one at the correct time, while at the same time preventing hazardous run-off from parking lot oil and tire debris entering the public water system. Chang is looking forward to his first October at the hotel; Directly in the path of migrating birds, the multiple ponds supplied by Autumn rains may invite some fine feathered visitors.

I commented about his creative use of recycled tires for the do-not-disturb signs and logo pens. He chuckled in response; Wen-I intended to diminish his costs by making them “ugly, so people wouldn’t take them.” As you can see, they’re rather stylish in a Dwell magazine kind of way. We didn’t take ours, but we wanted to.

As we toured the brand new event facilities, Mr. Chang welcomed me to view the yoga and meditation room overlooking the lagoon, as well as 5,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space. We had the good fortune of running into the General Manager of Swan Lake Bistro, the hotel’s adjoining restaurant, slated to open in October 2008. The Bistro will feature eight vegan dishes; as we chatted, Mr. Chang urged the manager to begin plans to produce raw (slow food) dishes for the upcoming menu. (This good news means we must return! While I love to experiment in the kitchen with a variety of cuisines, I cannot resist well-prepared food heated to no hotter than 118 degrees Celsius.)

I encourage you to make your reservations for GAIA Anderson soon. Not only are “soft-opening” reduced rates available currently, but as Chang points out, he has a knack for selecting the next hot spot for travel. There are plenty of outdoor activities in the area, ideal for families, hikers, boaters and climbers. In the first three months of operation, the hotel is already turning a profit–a testimony to Chang’s ability to provide the growing “green” traveling niche with a valuble (and sustainable!) product.

GAIA Anderson luxury hotel and spa is the result of collaboration with architects, engineers and consultants with expertise in:

  • Recycled and sustainable materials
  • Perma culture landscaping
  • Water management
  • Alternative energy sources and energy efficiency
  • Passive solar design and day-lighting

GAIA Anderson is Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Recycled materials were used wherever possible in hotel and construction:

  • Chemical-free landscaping
  • Water conservation features 
  • Energy efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system
  • Solar panels for energy generation 
  • Specialty zero energy lighting throughout the hotel and public areas
  • Cooling system features zero use of chlorofluorocarbons 
  • All wood used in construction certified as local, new growth wood  
  • Air quality maximized through low emission paints and adhesives 
  • And many other features endorsed by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (www.usgbc.org/LEED)

All photos by Joseph Lacko.

 

Fun Things to Do with Your Family this Weekend #3 July 17, 2008

Have you made any plans for the weekend? I have a few ideas for you and your kids!

Create a Family Phrase Book.

Rather than downloading and printing pics for the photo album, why not start a compendium of all the cute, zany, hilariously unintelligible and downright heart-melting things your kids say? (This idea comes from my inability to assemble a scrapbook, overridden by my desire to remember all the precious moments. My husband keeps our photos organized on the computer, not to worry!) Here are a few gems from my three-year-old, Joseph:

  • “Hey, do you want to go to Christmas? Get your raincoat!”  Now that Joseph is three, his imagination has run wild. His “raincoat” was a scarf he’d pulled from the front hall closet. Hey, I’d love to go to Christmas.
  • “I can feel my poops in my nose.”  Joseph rather poetically said this when he caught the aroma of, well, his toots. It took us a moment to decipher it, and then we all cracked up.
  • “I can’t want it!”  This was his rendition of “no thank you” for a while. Can a person not be able to want something? We finally convinced him to decline in a more dignified manner, but to this day, my husband and I replace “no” with this puzzling phrase.
  • “I make you beautiful, mommy.”  This was Joseph’s reassurance to me one day when I was disappointed about something. I don’t remember what the let-down was, but I am certain that whatever beauty I have, my family is responsible for it.
I present you with the best chicken recipe your family has ever had! 

Crusty Herbed Chicken
While this gluten-free recipe calls for baking skinless chicken thighs, the result is similar to a breaded and spiced, fried chicken dish–without the fat and flour! The idea for this flavorful recipe came when I was first exploring food-pairing and the low-glycemic diet. This easy, summer dish makes an impressive large-batch dish for family reunions and picnics. (For more great recipes, please visit my blog UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club

Helen Coronato, author of Eco-Friendly Families, reports, “by raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.” The following are excerpts from her wonderful new book:
Opt for natural sunscreens that contain ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, zincs and green tea. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that increasing your vitamin A an additional 25 mg and vitamin E an additional 335 mg can help diminish your body’s sensitivity to UV light.

Have your kids outgrown their shoes? Before you shop for back-to-school, think globally: recycle your children’s shoes through these great resources:

  • www.Soles4Souls.com accepts gently worn shoes and delivers them to people in need, like Hurricane Katrina victims.
  • Ashes to ashes and Crocs to dust. When your kid’s Crocs get too tight, mail them to 1510 Nelson Road, Longmont, CO 80501, and they’ll be shredded to make children’s playground. Clearly mark the outside of your package, “Recycle.”
  • Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program accepts all brands of athletic shoes and grinds them up for new sports surfaces, like basketball courts. Check out www.letmeplay.com/reuseashoe for a drop-off location near you.

Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Fun Things To Do archived entries:
Fun Things to Do With Your Family This Weekend #2
Fun Things To Do With Your Family This Weekend #1

 

The Doctors are Coming! July 16, 2008

I am very pleased to announce that I’ve just agreed to appear on an upcoming episode of THE DOCTORS, a new show from CBS!

I will be discussing early potty training and demonstrating communication through sign language with my 14-month-old son, Noah. I will also share my experiences of potty-training my three-year-old, Joseph, using the conventional “pull-ups” method. 

See my clip on The Doctors here!!

You can read about our journey using the Baby Signs Potty Training Kit in these blog entries: 
1. Potty-Training at 13 Months
2. Potty-Training = Green Baby
3. Early Potty-Training Success
4. June is Potty-Training Awareness Month!
5. Infant Potty-Training–Er, Mommy-Training
6. Potty-Baby: Almost Trained at 14 Months

Want to know more about this new television show? They say it best:

From the creative team behind the long-running hit series “Dr. Phil” comes THE DOCTORS, a new, one-hour syndicated daytime talk show. For the first time on daytime television, viewers will have a source of reliable and fascinating medical and health advice, dispensed daily by a distinguished panel of five “on-call” professionals. THE DOCTORS will premiere nationwide in September 2008 (Check local listings for station and time). 

Story-driven, dynamic and interactive, THE DOCTORS does for health care what DR. PHIL has done for down-to-earth discussions of emotional and psychological issues. The series’ experts will focus on the compelling, real-life experiences of the show’s guests and then weigh in, disseminating valuable information about health, medical care and drugs in a compelling, informal, easy-to-understand and entertaining format. 

The team of doctors are five top practicing professionals, each with a different specialty — ER physician (and former ABC “Bachelor” in Paris) Dr. Travis Stork; psychologist Dr. Tara Fields, Ph.D., M.F.P.; obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Lisa Masterson; plastic surgeon and reconstructive surgery expert Dr. Andrew Ordon; and pediatrician Dr. James Sears. 

Viewers are also encouraged to “Ask the Doctors” by submitting their questions and experiences to the show’s website about the health care issues that matter the most to them. Answers may be delivered on-air, or become the basis for a larger, produced segment. With its fluid format, THE DOCTORS covers a broad range of subjects, especially news-breaking, topical issues. The show features on-set medical procedures, either directly in front of the studio audience or in its backstage examining room, and off-site “house calls.”  This medical dream team will be the “must-go-to” source for information on the latest medical breakthroughs and cutting-edge practices and procedures, providing a valuable resource for viewers who might not have access to the most updated medical advances.

Five medical practitioners, with five different specialties, five days a week, discuss what people need to know to live their best lives. If it matters to you, it matters to THE DOCTORS.

THE DOCTORS, taped in front of a live audience in Hollywood, is produced by Stage 29 Productions and distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Jay McGraw, Carla Pennington and Dr. Phil McGraw are executive producers. CBS Television Distribution is a unit of CBS Corp.

If you are willing to teach your little one to become diaper-free (and help the environment by decreasing the impact of disposable diapers on landfills!) please purchase your Baby Signs Potty Training Kit through my “Motherhood Must-Haves” Amazon Store. The wee kickback I get pays for the environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies I use for cleaning up Noah’s “accidents” along the way. Thank you!
If you have attempted (or succeeded!) at early potty-training, I would love to hear from you!

 

Fun Things to Do with Your Family this Weekend #2 July 9, 2008

Have you made any plans for the weekend? I have a few ideas for you and your preschoolers!

A long-time childhood favorite, play Scavenger Hunt with your children. Even the little ones can join in by spying and retrieving age-appropriate treasures.
For kids aged 2-4, help them collect:
1.) Three leaves, in sizes small, medium, and large. This encourages counting and categorizing by size.
2.) One red shovel, one green truck (or any other easily recognizable toy the child owns.) This helps your child remember where to find specific toys and to notice specific colors.
3.) Find rocks or pebbles, one oval, one round. This helps your child differentiate between two similar shapes.
4.) Four pieces of grass. Do you remember laying on the grass during the summer, picking blades? For little ones, the world beneath their feet is quite exciting when examined closely: the scent of the grass and earth, the discovery of lady bugs and earth worms…
5.) Spot a cloud that looks like something other than a cloud! Once you’ve picked your grass, roll over and gaze up the sky. What do you see?

Create a delicious brunch dish that is sure to become a family favorite.
Fresh Peaches and Whole Wheat Pancakes with Roasted Walnuts
Night after night I read a poem, Rise The Moon (by Eileen Spinelli), to my drowsy three-year-old Joseph. The following stanza is accompanied by a lovely illustration (by Raul Colon) of an artist painting a gorgeous bowl of gold, white, and orange peaches–orbs resembling a twilight sun:
“…In a rooftop attic in the quiet hush of night, a moonlit artist takes his brush to paint a bowl of light.” We borrowed Spinelli’s book during a recent trip to the San Clemente library, along with Round is a Pancake, by Joan Sullivan Baranski. When it comes to art and eating, inspiration may spring from anywhere. The nightly ritual of reading these books inspired this recipe. (For more great recipes, please visit my blog UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club
Helen Coronato, author of Eco-Friendly Families, reports, “by raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.” The following are excerpts from her wonderful new book:
With the kids out of school and summer in full swing, July is the perfect time to patronize your area’s farmer’s market. Buying local produce is a surefire way to support your local economy, enjoy vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables, and avoid overpackaging… Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on the way there.

…Host a kid-friendly taste test by blindfolding family members and setting out in-season, local fruit and imported, store-bought fruit. Compare the difference and talk about the results. Assign children the role of “Market Master” and encourage them to pick a new treat from the farm stand each time you go. Give the new fruit or vegetable special attention at the table.

If you live in Orange County, try South Coast Farms (949) 661-9381 (talk to Julie, Emily or Sarah). You can order baskets of organic fruits and vegetables, including some recipes! I love this concept–not only am I feeding my family nutritious, locally grown produce, but since I usually buy the same tried-and-true items week after week at the supermarket, the surprise contents of the basket inspires creativity in the kitchen.

Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!

 

Potty Baby — Almost Trained at 14 Months July 5, 2008

Sixty percent of the time, my baby uses the potty every time.
(–with a nod to Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy, for all you now questioning my logic.)

Frankly, it’s as true as it can be. Everywhere I go, women smile admirably at me, gasping in wonder at my infant in big-boy undies (He has ones with the Superman “S” emblazoned on his booty), and while Noah does use the potty about 60% of the time, these admiring gaspers already consider him “potty-trained.” Why? He is not entirely out of dipes, but he is able to go out of the house in honest-to-goodness underwear—and that’s a whole lot more than most mothers training 2- and 3-year-old preschoolers can say. Trust me, I’ve been there. Earlier this year, in fact.

We just completed our 2-week bare-bottom adventure. Noah absolutely loves the freedom; putting him in a diaper for bedtime is now met with much protest. (When he is able to stay dry through the night, I will gladly give our diapers away.) Because I must always be on the lookout for Noah’s signals, and women are always approaching me about my baby’s lack of diaper-age, the topic of early training is always on the tip of my tongue. This formerly quiet writer who generally keeps to herself has become quite the passionate advocate: My mommy’s group has asked me to speak on the topic; I was recently toasted for my efforts at a baby shower; and I can’t count how many times in the last 14 days I’ve commented, “it’s a HUNDRED times easier to do it with a baby,” combined with, “do you realize the average baby uses 5000 diapers? Consider the impact on the environment!” (My husband Joseph, burdened with the unpleasant task of changing the diaper pail, would also like me to add how relieved he is.) I’m fanatical, and if you’re a SAHM with little one still in diapers and zero time to chat with adults, early training may be all the conversation-starter you’ll need at the checkout.

The Baby Signs Potty Training kit is only 40 bucks–less than the price of a case of diapers. Actually, I think Amazon has it on sale right now… yes! $26.37! Consider how much you spend on diapers and wipes, then calculate that by 5,000 (that’s if your baby uses 5 diapers a day and is trained by 2.75 years.) Let’s see, Amazon has cases of 140 Pampers Cruisers Size 4 for 39.99. You would spend $1,400.00 by the time your baby was trained. Wouldn’t you rather take 2 weeks and $26.37, and open the lines of communication through sign language with your little cherub, put the extra cash in savings, help the environment, and facilitate your child’s confidence and independence by using the toilet? And I won’t even ask what could be cuter than seeing your own child’s bare butt wriggling about every day for 2 weeks?

Here is our Progress Report: The first few days were not unlike the first 3 months of new motherhood–getting out of the house was a logistical feat involving the potty, multiple outfits, a cover for the car seat, diapers in case I chickened out, wipes, and toys to keep him interested during potty breaks. We soon figured out what we needed and what we didn’t. I got into the practice of putting Noah on the potty in the back of my SUV when we arrived and departed from our destination, and he got the message quickly to wait or do the potty sign on the road.

This is a really important point because, as my husband points out, the “potty-training relationship” we’ve built with our son is not the traditional concept of self-control (at this point) so much as taking turns telling each other when potty time has arrived. For instance, Noah knows he will use his potty when he gets up in the morning and grunts his word for it and does the sign until I place him on it. After breakfast, he will point at it from his highchair, or I will simply place him on it, knowing what will come next. Our day goes along as such, with Noah holding for potty visits he knows are imminent from experience, or with me putting him on and entertaining him until he goes. We are so very pleased with his success, and of course as parents we make note of our son’s uncommonly superior intellect.

This experience has created a bond of trust, love and communication I never thought possible. Teaching only a few sign language words has also opened the door to my son’s vocabulary; he is an enthusiastic repeater of words and phrases, and we are just as enthusiastically encouraging him. Can I draw a connection between my son’s toilet habits and his ability to say letters and make their sounds at 14 months? I am willing to say that when you become as engaged to your child as early training requires, your baby will certainly surprise you.

If you are willing to teach your little one to become diaper-free (and help the environment by decreasing the impact of disposable diapers on landfills!) please purchase your Baby Signs Potty Training Kit through my “Motherhood Must-Haves” Amazon Store. The wee kickback I get pays for the environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies I use for cleaning up Noah’s “accidents” along the way. Thank you!
If you have attempted (or succeeded!) at early potty-training, I would love to hear from you!