Once Upoop A Time

Buckle up, grab a drink, and have a seat class, it’s story time with Tori.

Once upon a time there was a mother and two children. On this particular afternoon one of her children was visiting with their grandparents while the other child was at home with the mother. The mother chose on this afternoon to help her husband with his latest wood working project by painting the table he recently finished. The daughter was playing outside.This is blissful for both parties for several minutes. 

Then, mid painting (with black chalkboard paint, btw), the daughter hastily comes up to the mother and says “MOM! I ACCIDENTALLY POOPED IN MY PANTS! WHAT DO I DO?”

The mother pauses, stands, and looks at her child.

“What do you mean you accidentally pooped your pants?” the mother queried. 

The daughter, apologetic sounding, followed with “well I didn’t know I was pooping”. 

The mother stops, takes a deep breath, and calmly explains to the child that she needs to go to the bathroom on the first floor, disrobe, use the toilet, clean her bottom, then proceed upstairs to find new clothing. The daughter affirms that she understands these instructions and scampers away. 

The mother continues painting.

After three minutes, the mother realizes that she gave multi-step instructions to a hot mess klutzy four year old. She drops the paint brush and rushes inside. Nothing in any parenting book could prepare her for the horror she experienced.

The downstairs bathroom was curiously empty. Signs of what can only be described as a caca-infused struggle were present. Shit smeared the walls, floor, and toilet. Inside of the toilet was more shit. Fresh poop. The room was a Jackson Pollock of feces. 

Clearly the child listened, the mother thought to herself, amid the horror. 

Then she noticed there was only one piece of clothing on the floor – her child’s jacket. “Oh no” she uttered out loud. She looked around the room for signs of where her daughter had gone. Like any good fairy tale character her child had left a trail for her mother to follow. 

Each step quickened her heart rate, her stomach began turning, “please do not vomit” she whispered to herself as she ascended the staircase to find her daughter naked in the upstairs bathroom. 

“Hi mommy!” The child cheerily chirped.

The child was covered in feces. Hair, legs, hands, and feet. It was as if the latest beauty fad was a caca body wrap and this child was pioneering the service. 

Breathing deeply, the mother asked herself where to start and decided on a quick wipe down of the child before bathing her. One wash cloth took the bullet for this adventure; a brave washcloth that will never be forgotten for it’s service that day. 

After an initial wipe down, the child was placed into the bathtub and scrubbed 3 times to be sure all of the excrement had been removed. Upon removing the child from the tub, the mother handed her the towel and surveyed the room – hrmm…only a little bit of poop on the floor. Not bad. Wait…WHERE ARE HER CLOTHES?! A lonely shirt lay in the corner of the bathroom. “Darling, where are the rest of your clothes?!” The mother asked. 

“Oh, they’re in my room” her daughter replied.

The mother approached her child’s room as if a serial killer lay in wait to attack her. Carefully she turned the poop smeared  doorknob, anxious of what was on the other side of the door. 

There it was. Her daughter’s pants and underwear, entwined on the floor of her bedroom, full of an adult sized fistful of pancaked crap, laying poo side down on the floor, her school jumper next to it. 

The room’s floor, light switches, and knobs were smeared as if the serial killer had locked a bloody victim in the room and it attempted escape but instead of blood it’s feces and desperation.

At this time the mother picked up the phone, calling her husband, who had just sent a text indicating he was on the way home. “Pick up a bottle of bourbon. I’m gonna need it.” She said before shutting the phone off and getting to work doing her best Cinderella impression.

And that’s the story of how the mother’s house got it’s quarterly cleaning.

The end.

Anxiety can suck it.

I’m writing this from the comforts of my front yard, soaking up some vitamin D while recovering from the shitfest this morning was. First it started with right chest pain (crampy that felt better with massaging, so I knew it wasn’t more serious) then because Captain Anxiety had strapped on her thigh highs I started freaking out that I had to go to the ER or something. Cue panic attack (while dropping the kids off at daycare so I could do work around the house today…which that plan is now busted), and I landed at home on the bathroom floor taking lorazepam and breathing/massaging.

I share this because anxiety is so frustrating to me. I had plans today. Plans to clean, organize, and go through clothing to sort sell/giveaway and do laundry. Simple things. And thanks to this morning the whole day was derailed and that’s kind of defeating. Having to wait for meds to kick in, then nap off the panic attack (they’re pretty exhausting), is time-consuming.

But I know I’m not alone. There are many like me out there who have anxiety. Some more-so and less-so than I. But we are all one tribe falling down the rabbit hole together and understanding that sometimes we just have to stop, breathe, and listen to our bodies.

It’s ok to bob along and wait in the moment. Screw “just keep swimming” because if you have anxiety and try to push through like that at your worst you will drown. I’ve been meaning to write about this for weeks but every time I go to hit publish it’s just too hard & wayyyy too naked for my comfort level. But today, after 3 people messaged me on facebook after I posted about this morning, I realized that so many of us feel alone and that we’re broken. We’re not! So our brains are wired a little differently, that’s ok! As this chick points out – it’s because we care SO much. You have to love so deeply to be afraid of losing everything. I like her take on it all:

For those who don’t have anxiety and think it’s just us freaking ourselves out (ok, some accuracy there), and that we can just “stop worrying” I’d like you know it’s not so easy. This is how I described it to my husband, and he seemed to “get it” after that:

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls down the rabbit hole. She quickly forgets she’s falling because she’s so distracted by all the shit floating around. Because she’s so focused on all the items around her, she doesn’t realize how far she’s actually fallen until she hits the bottom & is unable to climb out. Anxiety is like that. I’ll start falling down that rabbit hole of worried thoughts and not even realize I’m falling until my pulse is racing, my hands are sweating, my whole body rises in temperature, and I start feeling like I’m going to pass out. With therapy I’ve learned how to better manage this. I’ll start to realize when I’m falling and throw myself a safety net to chill out on so I can rebuild my thoughts and drown out the distractions.

Most of the time now I see the rabbit hole before I even go down it, that’s pretty rad because 9 years ago I couldn’t. I’ve always been embarrassed and ashamed of this aspect of myself, but through therapy I found that talking about the shit that’s freaking me out actually makes a difference in MY own stress/anxiety. And it helps to know you’re not alone. So if you’re reading this and you do have anxiety – we’re in the same tribe. Ho how and all that. There are cookies on Tuesdays and naps on bathroom floors with the water running during the “dark times”.

For those of you reading this who don’t have anxiety – know that you probably know someone in your life who does and is paralyzed by the fear of someone knowing. Someone who avoids bridges, etc, because they trigger panic attacks. Not all panic attacks are big numbers with hyperventilation – mine tend to manifest introvertedly (um yes introvertedly is a word, spell check) while my body struggles to fight it inside and gain control of the outer parts (aka I will feel pretty fucked up inside but try to play it off like “oh I’m fine” and whatnot). Eventually for me, I find a bathroom floor, run some water, and lay down. The cold hard surface grounds me and takes care of the heat aspect of the attack, the firm ground reminds me I’m ok and not going to pass out (or go far if I do), and the water is white noise that honest-to-goodness drowns out the “what if” thoughts. So if you’re reading this and you know someone who acts a little weird or leaves parties early, or stays in bathrooms for long periods…you may know someone with anxiety. And you know what we need during that time? Support.

Support isn’t “just suck it up” or “stop worrying, that stuff won’t happen”. Support is holding our hand, offering water, and quietly laying down with us till it passes. Support is saying “tell me what’s bothering you” then quietly listening without response as we dump it all out. Support is validating that it’s ok to worry, that we’re not broken/defected. Support sometimes also means never riding haunted mansion at Disney together (sorry, Matt).

So, yeah. Anxiety sucks. But over the years I’ve started to realize that my “defect” makes me more aware of my body & mind. I tend to take better self care because of it and carve out “me” time. I think anxiety also helps my sense of humor because when you think about catastrophic shit all the time (I literally have stickers on both sides of my kid’s car seats with their names, DOB, blood types, and allergies on it should we get in an accident and I can’t talk), you tend to find hilarity in everything. I like that about myself.

Sometimes I think of myself as my own Prince Charming battling panic dragons daily to rescue myself. I like that. And I like me.


The Sticker Chart

Surprise, surprise, Matt’s away and here I am back to writing. Do I write because I have more time or because it manages stress while he’s gone? Just like with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, the world may never know.

Anywho, recently a friend of mine had a BRILLIANT idea that I had to share with the world (or the 5 people who read this thing). Remember those sticker reward charts from when you were a kid? Why did we stop doing those? (note: I’m fully aware that my friend who brought this up is incredibly brilliant)

Thus, I have borrowed her idea and am doing it. Few reasons: 1) it’ll utilize positive reinforcement to develop good habits, 2) the reward after getting 90%+ on stickers will be WELL WORTH IT and 3) it will only serve to help my brain get more organized!

So what do I earn stickers for, you ask? Well my friend has lofty goals like getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button, running x miles, etc. Mine are going to be things like clean up one area of the house, write, go for a run, be in bed by 10 (seeing how with this current work up the kids are sleeping like shit that one isn’t so hard so I may alter it).

And my reward? 1 new work outfit. (yes, I practiclaus’d myself, but I wouldn’t normally shop, so it’s good idea.)

I figured if I wrote about it here I could start my writing habit back up, earn a sticker, and put it out into the world to hold myself accountable!

What’s on your sticker chart?

It’s a Cwap! (The Potty Training Chronicles – Take One)

So it has finally happened, my 2.75yr old (we get to do that till he’s 10, no judgement) has finally started using the potty on a regular basis. I was a bit surprised, since Matt just got home from being gone for 7wks, and Asher has had a GI bug/pink eye/cold/ear infection/continuing GI bug for the past two weeks, but hey, I’ll take it! First – I never thought I’d be so damn excited about my kid using the throne. Second – I never thought I’d ever write about it on the internet, but I now understand why it’s so freaking exciting as a parent when they finally “get” it! So, since several people asked me “how” I’ve done it, I’m happy to share what has worked for us:

It started in February. I got a potty lid to put on our existing toilet and was determined to try this weekend method that apparently is fool proof. Asher had shown all the signs (see here) so I figured “why not”. Well…it didn’t work. It was SO STRESSFUL. There were a lot of tears on both sides. We didn’t even make it through day one and I could tell it was stressing my kid out! He even managed, while diaper free, to go 4 hours straight HOLDING IT before finding a diaper to pee into. That’s how serious he was about not wanting to try.

So, I started urging his daycare, where he does occasional drop in care, to encourage him to use the potty when other kids were going. Well, he’d occasionally sit on the potty for them and even pee for them, but at home? Nope. Not trying.

At that point I decided to just give up the ghost. We’d be moving in the summer and I knew Matt would be in and out, so stressing out about potty training just didn’t seem like a good idea. Then I read in our Positive Discipline book that every kid eventually figures it out on their own, even if they’re not “trained”. That was a GODSEND!

And that is when we decided to let Asher potty train himself, which brings us to this week –

We own a Lightning McQueen training potty that Asher picked out at Target a few weeks ago while we were browsing. I was hopeful then that “oooo maybe he’s gonna do it!” but stuck to my guns of letting him figure it out on his own. So I bought the potty, and put it in our half bath on the first floor. I encouraged him to sit on it (still in diaper) while I went to the bathroom. I let him play with it and press buttons. We even had a day where I took his Mickey doll and had Mickey pee on the toilet. But I never asked Asher to drop his drawers and potty. Then about two weeks ago Asher hadn’t peed all night. I kind of freaked out about the time lapse and asked him to sit on the potty for me. I got to a point where I actually begged my two year old to pee on the potty and offered to go to Target to buy a new (matchbox) car if he actually peed. So…he actually peed. HIGH FIVE! I did the biggest dance and jig you ever saw and carted him off to Target. So, I considered bribing him by picking up cars around the house he’s left astray and putting them in a basket where he’d get one every time he pottied if he wanted to.

This sort of worked. He’d go, ask for a car, and that’s it. But he hadn’t truly “got it” yet. Still no poop. Just pee. And he’d always ask about a car first. I remembered a freakanomics podcast where they talked about kids beating the system on potty training bribery. So…I just stopped giving him cars or asking him to go. Suddenly this week he just started saying “I go potty!” and running off to the bathroom to go. Two days ago he said “I go poopy!” and ran off and actually pooped in the toilet. We gave it some fanfare and excitement, telling him that we’re proud of him moving into this phase! But then he asked for underwear. So…

…I decided to play a game! I made a drawing of 10 boxes and some underwear. He gets a sticker every time he uses the potty. Taped to the sheet is an actual pair of Cars underwear. This kid has been using the toilet like a champ. We instituted this earning system today and he’s already up to 6 stickers! So, sometime tomorrow, he’ll be in underwear.

I’m not saying he’s fully potty trained, but it’s a start. And this “method” has actually been tear free. That’s what I like about it. The more encouragement and positive reinforcement, the more I’ve seen him go. He seems really proud of himself to build up his confidence by EARNING his underwear! This is pretty cool.

PS – I highly recommend you check out the link I added above to the Positive Discipline book if you have a young child. It’s helped us loads!

PSS – Dude. I’m totally that parent now who writes about their kid’s shit on the internet. HIGH FIVE!

Mommy Sproat’s Day (err…morning) Off

What I’m about to write will make any stay at home mom drool with jealousy: I am sitting outside writing WITHOUT MY KIDS AROUND.

This? This is SO AMAZING.

Not that I don’t love my kids. I totally do. But finishing my doctor’s appointment then car service repair (airbag recall) significantly early is a pleasant surprise. The kids are at daycare, so I decided to find a nice sunny spot to enjoy this glorious weather and write. (Spoiler alert: this is kind of a vacation. hot damn!) And people watching to boot? awwwwwwwww dang. (A chick just walked by with a CHILD’S FACE TATTOOED ON HER LEG AND IT WAS THE KID FROM THE SHINING. True story).

Oh look, I’m not having my clothing pulled by an infant that wants to climb up me! No toddler snot! No “MOMMMMMYYYYY I NEED TO EAAAAT” (I swear that kid could out-eat the Japanese food eating champion)! No needing to monitor anyone else but myself. NO RESPONSIBILITY! WEE!!!!

So…this post is me just fucking around with train of thought.

I once read that a woman’s mind is like a browser with 20+ open windows. (Note: it is. But the to do list is open too). Sitting out here just writing? So fun. Did I mention it’s fun? I need hobbies.

Maybe we as moms need an occasional few hours “off” to recharge for ourselves.

Next on my agenda? Hot date at the O’ Club with my husband for lunch, then picking up my snuggle bugs. Because by then I’ll want them back. 🙂

Update: I realize what a cliche this post is. I’m ok with that. My minivan & I have thoroughly enjoyed freaking out gate guards today by blaring N’Sync’s Bye Bye Bye while doing the knockin dance moves (don’t judge. You know the moves I’m referencing).

Well I’m still alive, so I guess I should practice my kegels…and HAPPY NEW YEARS!

I was going to actually write a prolific post today about my New Years Resolution & update on Elsie being almost 8 months old now (TOO FAST! TOO FAST!), but I got a bit of a different perspective on life tonight.

While at the Commissary I noticed a bunch of military police cars around. I even tweeted about it being a waste of resources because what could warrant every military cop on base being at the Commissary? (Editor’s note: yes, I do realize that tweet said Maurine. I was walking and tweeting and not proofreading. Pretty sure my New Years Resolution should be more proofreading, but whatevs). Anywho, I find out later that a former employee, a teenage son of a Marine, waltzed into the Commissary with a small arsenal and was about to shoot when a MP (military police) tackled him, thwarting his attack. The kid was carrying multiple weapons, ready for a spree. My bagger was very chatty about it because she was next to the prospective shooter when all this went down so she’s simply thankful for her life.

I guess, my point is, what if there hadn’t been an armed guard at the Commissary? Would Elsie and I be here? Thankfully we weren’t ever in real danger today, but that situation could’ve played out very differently. I do feel foolish for taking for granted the safety being on base provides, yet happy that the systems put in place worked to prevent a tragedy. Do I still believe we should limit the sale of assault rifles? You’re damn right. Had that kid not been stopped today he could’ve shot up to 30 bullets before needing to reload. 30. That’s insane.

In 2013 I hope for change. Our nation is certainly in need of change since people feel they need to resort to these methods to resolve their issues!

Well…now that I’ve Debbie-Downer’ed your evening…my Resolution for 2013? To be braver. Too often I hold back from things because I’m scared or being too cautious. Today’s events have certainly made me realize that while I was not in true danger today, I could’ve been, and that every moment is precious.

And that I should probably change my beneficiary on my life insurance to my husband.

Happy New Year!

The Last 5 Years

Five years ago I managed to drink enough alcohol to board a plane to Phoenix for my brother’s wedding. I was fresh off of my divorce, having just gotten my name back, and was still very much in my Honeybadger Player mode. (Honeybadger Player don’t give a shit. Honeybadger Player just wants to have fun and no loyalties) I was “dating” 5 guys at the time and enjoying not having any emotional attachment to them while gleaning the perks of going out on the town with nice guys, sharing a few drinks and good laughs, and perhaps a makeout session on my couch or two.

Five years ago today I walked into my brother’s wedding rehearsal planning on being bored out of my mind (as most wedding rehearsals are) and spending my time chasing around my 2.5 year old nephew who had made the trip with my oldest brother to the wedding since his wife was at home on bedrest. I was standing inside the airplane hangar being used as the wedding/reception site while waiting for everyone to get there so we could go outside to rehearse…I’m pretty sure I was reading some historical plaque on the museum’s wall when I turned around and saw this unbelievably hot guy I pseudo-recognized.

When I was 15, my brother graduated from the United States Naval Academy. His roommate was a guy named Matt. I remember seeing him off and on, specifically at graduation when our families met and my dad razzed him for choosing Marines and welcomed him to the corps. I was sunburnt that day from sitting in the stands where the sun could reflect off of all the white hats below us and whatever wasn’t burning straight into my skin bounced right back up at me. My Greek powers can only do so much, so I was cooked-lobster red by the time the ceremony was over.

Matt was just my brother’s roommate then. Somehow, he had gotten really hot over the 7 years since I had last seen him. I still remember well the white button up shirt he wore that had a blue/green thin plaid pattern on it and was tucked in, the way his jeans hugged his ass just enough to show it off without being gay/hipster/cowboy, the noticeable belt buckle that gave away that he was a Texan, and his smile…oh man. When he smiled he radiated that he was genuine.

Anyway, I checked him out during the rehearsal, and at the party that night I kindly asked my brother permission to screw his best friend for the weekend (yes, I’m a classy broad). He told me to go ahead and try, but that Matt isn’t a one night stand guy. I rebuttled with “then I guess it’s good we have two nights, then?”.

My eldest brother needed to get my nephew back to the hotel for the night and my mom went with them, but dad & I stayed behind because Matt offered to drive us back to the hotel. One of their other friends was also in the car with us and shared the back seat with my dad while Matt & I talked up front. Seemed to be going well, we laughed and had things in common…my goal for at least one night of the weekend was on track. I slipped him my number when he dropped us off at the hotel, per my brother’s guidance on how to be “smooth”.

And you know what? The jackass didn’t even call me the next day. The wedding wasn’t until 6pm and not one peep. So I figured he wasn’t interested and went about my business. At the wedding Matt said a cordial hello, while looking infuriatingly handsome in his dress blues, but we didn’t speak beyond that. We’re at the altar watching my brother and his wife exchange vows and I catch this motherfucker staring at me. Seriously? At this point I was livid and confused. I don’t play games and I hate mix signals. He was giving me this weird look the ENTIRE ceremony.

After the ceremony, everyone moved into the hangar for the reception. I had a great time talking to Matt’s sister-in-law Lindy, whose husband was deployed but was a great friend of my brother’s so she came. I spent a good deal of the reception dancing with my nephew (who looks beyond adorable in a tux, might I add), chatting with my new sister-in-law, and teasing my brothers. At one point Matt asked me to dance and we did, but we didn’t say much. (note: later I was told that Matt was wandering around the entire night looking for me to dance with but I was always somewhere else. Can’t help it that I’m a social butterfly…)

Afterwards, the bridal party decided to go out to downtown Phoenix for drinks and debauchery. That led to us being back in his room at the hotel and not sleeping the entire night because we were mostly laughing and talking all night. At 6:30 he drove me to my hotel so I could make my family’s early-morning departure for the airport. I had borrowed his sweatshirt to walk to the car that chilly morning, and when I went to give it to him he insisted I return it when I visit him in San Diego. I smirked, kept it, but didn’t expect anything of it.

He was stationed in San Diego, CA. I lived in Washington, DC. Things like that just don’t work out.

So I resided myself that it’d at least be fun to go see San Diego, and at least I enjoyed the company of that gentleman, so why not. That night he called when he landed and I booked my ticket to go see him two weeks later. Anyone that knows me knows I HATE flying. My anxiety is horrible with it. Not only did I make that flight, but we flew back and forth to see each other for a few months before he deployed. I did everything in my power to not fall for him, to push him away, but he was steadfast and recognized it was my hurt acting out.

While he was deployed he invited me to spend his R&R with him in Tokyo, Japan AND I ACTUALLY GOT ON A PLANE FOR 14 HOURS TO GO SEE HIM. How the hell I managed it, I’ll never know. Close to the end of our trip, while wandering around in a park in Shibuya after a delicious Turkish dinner, Matthew dropped down one knee and asked me to marry him.

That man is now my husband. In the last 5 years I have managed to have a better hold on my anxiety than I ever have before, and I know it’s because of his support. We now have two wonderful children. We still write each other love letters. I still get giddy when he’s coming home after a work trip. He encourages my passions and balances me out in a way I never knew was possible. He is also my best friend.

Matthew, my darling, I carry your heart. Thank you for carrying mine. ❤