Making the Tough Calls

There I was at a crossroad, what was I going to do? In the backseat was my toddler, who had moments before gently nodded off, in the front seat me….pretty certain of pooping my pants…..I found myself thinking: what’s more important?

I had an appointment in an hour and a half and I was too far from home to make a round trip. So the options were limited. I pulled into the parking garage under IKEA.

let’s give it a minute – I thought to myself. perhaps it will subside

I parked in a dark spot rolled the windows down and willed my nether regions to cooperate. When it became apparent the problem wasn’t going away, I made the call. I rolled up the windows, gently lifted Jack out of his car seat, and slowly walked towards the elevators. He snuggled down on my shoulder without stirring.

I made it to the family restroom with Jack still sweetly asleep. I locked the door and made the second biggest decision of the day: can I do this one armed?

Turns out, when you decide to wear a pair of pregnancy jeans because you didn’t catch up on laundry, negotiating a bathroom one-handed is possible….plus you know there are people who only have one arm for the reals. So I knew it could be done.

I sat there patting Jack’s back and doing my business – I wish there was someone here to take a picture of this…this is amazing

I finished up. Slithered my undies and pants back in place. Double-checked all was in order in the mirror. One-handed washed each hand and walked out. I considered walking through IKEA while I was there, partially because I felt bad for just using the restroom and leaving, but also partially because IKEA is fun. But figured I didn’t want to wear myself out, plus I had to get my drink on (first ultrasound update coming soon). I returned to the car and slipped Jack back in his seat, his little head fell to the side and he continued in his dream world. Wow, I thought, this is an amazing story that must be told!

My “Don’t Ask” Policy

I have learned a few things the hard way. See I am a good listener. I will actually make you believe that I care about you and what is going on with you because, guess what?, I do! I know it is whacky-town! I am waaaayyy too nice for my own good. You’re an ASSHAT!…whew, just trying that out…nope it doesn’t really fit. I apologize.

Let’s talk about the hard way…because without it I wouldn’t have a “Don’t Ask” policy to tell you all about.

Our landlord in NY was actually my friend’s dad. It was one of those fate things that everything worked the way it did. I applied for grad school in a state and town I had never been to, meanwhile living 1,000 miles away in San Diego. I get accepted and then realize ‘holy fuck! now what do I do?’. Then my friend is like ‘oh yeah by the way I am from there and my dad rents out the house I grew up in, you need a place to rent?’…WTF? Yeah I don’t know either. It just happened and I was like ‘fuck yeah the universe is looking out for me!!!’.

Anyway maybe it was because he was my friend’s dad, or maybe it was just because that is who he is, but he was a WAAAaaaayyyy over-sharer type. You know the kind. Like you know about ailments his stepdaughter’s cat is experiencing. That sort of thing. He was a great landlord though. Very laid back and friendly. Helped us out when things needed fixing and what not.

One such day he came over and I made the mistake of asking how things were going. He proceeded to tell me that he had just had a colonoscopy….it didn’t end there…I got to hear all about it…..ALL ABOUT IT!!!! I don’t even think my dad would tell me all about his colonoscopy….his wife would probably tell me all about it, but he wouldn’t. Anyway I was horrified. I had no idea what to do…and because I am an idiot and didn’t want him to feel awkward I continued to act interested and ask questions about the things he said and what not. OHHHH GOOODDDDD what a disaster.

I would say that people along the way had taught me small lessons that helped formulate my “don’t ask” policy, but that one was the pinnacle. From that point on I started getting better and deciphering when it was time to get out of a conversation. Preferably before the word colonoscopy is mentioned.

Oh I should point out that I heard about his colonoscopy on two other occasions after that….alright so it took me a while to learn that lesson. It isn’t my fault!

Last Friday was my morning to bring breakfast to work. We rotate every week yada yada yada. Anyway I decided to try out a new recipe. It was a spicy breakfast casserole of sorts, with chorizo and hot sauce. Basically it was amazing and I had been hearing from everyone how much they liked it, etc. When I went into the break room to pack everything up, one of my guy co-workers was in there. This guy and my old landlord could have been long-lost twins. Anyway he’s filling up his water and this conversation occurs:

Me: how’s your day going Guy

Guy: Oh pretty good…your breakfast looked really good. I couldn’t have any today, but I took a couple of squares of it and am saving it for tomorrow (expectant look)

Me: *ALARM****ALARM**** (this sounds like it is leaning towards a conversation that has to do with his ass or something I don’t want to hear about. Packing up quickly I say): well I hope you like it, have a great weekend byyyyeeeeee (running out of the room).

And that is how I am now a big grown up person with a “Don’t Ask” Policy of my own.

A Toilet Training Toddler – Lesson 1

Well well well. You know that whole concept of the power of suggestion? Yeah it will bite you in the ass. Not 24 hours after I wrote this last post, I was staring at a shit on my floor. Awesome. So that brings us to lesson 1 of toilet training – your kid is smarter than you.

Sure sure maybe he doesn’t know the nominal dimensions of a 2×4 or the order of treatment for removing mineral stains on 100-year-old stone buildings, but when it comes to him learning how to poop like a grown up, he is smarter. End of story.

First off, let’s pat ourselves on the back for a minute. Because I do in fact think that our “plan” is a good one. When we brought him home from daycare I put him in a cloth diaper and fed him dinner. Then we cleaned him up and let him run around. Andy brought his toilet (sorry folks ‘potty’ is just too much of a ‘parent’ word for me…..I refuse to admit that I am actually a parent and use parent words….whatever okay just placate me) out and he ignored it for the most part. Then a little while later he walked over to it and started trying to push his diaper down, as if it were actually underwear. So Andy busted him out and we proceeded to laugh as he ran around naked again.

He got on and off the toilet a couple of times and then I kind of decided ‘eh it’s probably not in the cards’. So back in the diaper he went. Next up was bathtime and then a diaper. I had a laundry basket full of clean clothes and of course the pajamas were at the bottom. So I just let Jack off the changing table while I put away his clothes and located the pjs. Andy was standing next to me chatting up a storm, like he does. A bit later in walks Jack butt ass naked.

Andy: hey buddy where did your diaper go?

Me: ooo check to see if he went in the toilet!

Andy: (walking out to the living room) well we have located the turd….it isn’t in the toilet per se

About a foot away from the toilet sat a little poo. Hmmm what do we do here? Well…okay….wing it Natalie. Jack look, (scooping up poo with wipe) this goes in here, see?

brain: you have no fucking idea what you are doing here do ya?

natalie: shut it brain, no one actually knows what they are doing….this just seems logical

brain: it may seem logical, but now you have to clean the floor and the toilet because you wanted to put the poo in the toilet to show him.

natalie: you know what brain? you can suck it! I don’t see any other amazing ideas coming from you

So that is what happened. I mean on the one hand: technically Jack is starting to see the benefit of not shitting in your pants…..but shitting on the floor?…hmmm. What have we gotten ourselves into with this whole ‘raising a human’ thing?

Also it was pretty much our bad in this case. If we had been in the same room, paying attention maybe we would have seen him wanting his diaper off and been able to swoop in and set him on the pot. So apparently you need to just hover over your kid like all the time….or force them to continue to shit in a diaper? Hey guess what? I have no idea what I am doing! Isn’t parenting fun?

Nat and Kate plus…poo

Something really whacked out happened this weekend. We went to this big consignment sale to pick up some more fall/winter clothes for Jackhammer. I figured we should pick up a potty….OMG guys the word potty is ridiculous. I can not believe I am writing that word and what is worse! GASP I have actually said that word. OUT LOUD….with my mouth!

Anyway, it isn’t like we were AT ALL planning on doing anything with the….the….the potty (cringe) it was more that I wanted to have it on hand just in case. I mean I don’t actually know what I am doing here, it just seemed like a logical thing to do to maybe put it in the bathroom and let Jack get used to it or whatever he felt like doing.

It must be pointed out that Andy was thoroughly grossed out at buying a….a….a potty chair (ugh) at a consignment sale. In fact he would not only not touch it, but he would stand a good two feet away from me while I carried it around. Really? Maybe I would have done the same two years ago. But I have touched so much poop and not just my kid’s but others, that it doesn’t even bother me…not to mention that the chair we picked out was completely clean.

But when we got home I bleached it just to make him feel better. Now the smart thing about Andy is as we were standing amongst the selection of potty’s he chimed in that having one that looked like a frog maybe wasn’t the best idea…perhaps the best idea was to have one that looked more like a toilet because if we bought him the frog one he might just want to try and ride it around the house and never make the connection. Perhaps Andy is right? Who knows, but despite thinking the frog one was cute, we went with the plain jane chair.

Jack was super interested in it after I got it all cleaned up. He had to take it all apart and put it back together. Sit on it, then get off, shut the lid, then open it and take it all apart, repeat basically. I just had it next to the toilet in our bathroom, but after about 20 minutes of playing I was like ‘okay buddy let’s go play in the living room’. And he picked it up and brought it out into the living room. Eh whatever. Our evening proceeded. He played with other stuff, then went back to the potty to check everything out.

Later he was sitting on the couch with us and he let out this huge toot. ‘Bahhaaa you got something going on buddy? You want to try out your potty?’ I didn’t really know what I was doing at this point. But I stripped him down and then we proceeded to laugh as he ran about the living room pantsless. Is there anything more hilarious than a pantsless baby? I think not. He went back and forth to the potty (yep still makes me cringe) and would get on and then back off.

Andy and I sort of zoned out for a sec and then I looked down and realized there was a poop in there! WHOOAAAaaa. We were not expecting that at all. Jack was standing there like ‘eh no big deal’. I turned to Andy and said: ‘holy shit, he did it!’. We started clapping for him, which he obviously loved. Then I proceeded to pick him up and run to the bathroom with him straight out in front of me….because duh, there was poop on his butt. Gross! We cleaned him off, with TOILET PAPER instead of wipes. So big. Then we both pondered what to do next….it is sort of a huge deal, but also really fucking disgusting. I suddenly realized that Kate, from Jon and Kate +8 really isn’t as crazy as I originally thought. I saw an episode where she took a picture of one of her kids with their first poo and recall saying ‘OMG that is so disgusting!!!!’

Then suddenly you are standing there realizing what a huge accomplishment this is and thinking ‘should I be taking a picture?’ I decided not to, because at the end of the day, YUCK. But Andy was hilariously cute and proceeded to call all of his parents to tell them about Jack’s pure genius.

The excitement suddenly turned to worry as we realized we have no idea what comes next. We were not prepared for this shit, literally. We chatted and have come up with a plan…which is not surprising. Our “plan” is to just see what happens. Whenever he starts wanting to play with the chair or we suspect he might be ready to “go” I will get him naked, but then no pressure for anything after that. And we will just see what happens.

I am fairly positive that I will be writing a post or two in the future saying ‘I had to clean shit off the floor tonight’, but who knows maybe our plan is a good one, we shall see.

Accomplishing Amazing Things With Toilets Around the Country

I have decided to create a post “category” exclusively for poo. It seems like I talk about it enough…come to think of it, I should probably create one for vajayjay too (making a note for that).

*apparently when you categorize old posts they “republish them”. Thanks Steph for letting me know this. And so sorry to everyone who has like 80 billion posts from me monopolizing their reader….I am embarrassed…but not as embarrassed as what is about to come.

I have yet to download the bazillion photos of my architectural pilgrimage to Chicago. Sorry I am a slacker. I am just teaching you all the important lesson of patience….not really I am just lazy.

But I will give you a little snippet of a story from the weekend. It will go without saying that we walked a TON. All over the place. We stayed near the “corn cob” buildings (which to hear them described as such, as an architect, made my skin crawl, but whatever) just a couple blocks from the river. Geographically we covered roughly from the Hancock building region all the way over to the aquarium and Soldier Field….so basically that translates to almost the entirety of downtown Chicago.

I obviously need to start this off by telling you that I ate absolutely NOTHING out of the ordinary. NOTHING. Just regular old yogurt and banana and chai…normal lunch…salad for dinner..etc. Well I guess I should say that I am eliminating wheat as part of this whole weight thing.  It was nearly impossible to go to Chicago and not eat at least a smidge of wheat and by a smidge I of course mean two pieces of stuffed pizza…..oops. But that was the day after the incident we are discussing right now. So this day, Saturday, I was pretty successful at the whole no limited wheat thing…..so maybe the wheat, or lack there of is to blame for this incident.

I wore my red all-stars around on Saturday, which aren’t really “walking” shoes, but damn are they cute. Anyway as we were making our way back from dinner I was starting to feel really achy. Just in my hips and lower back. I actually turned to my SIL and said ‘dang I think I need an advil, I am feeling really sore’. I seriously just thought this was all related to walking around and me needing a massage or something.

Upon returning to the hotel, Jack needed a diaper change. As I was wrestling him (it should be noted this is not as difficult as wrestling Mac-Attack into the stroller) to the bed in order to change him, I was suddenly painfully aware that this “back pain” might be something more…..I needed the bathroom and I needed it NOW.

I was able to squeeze my cheeks long enough to finish the diapering and get into the bathroom…..but I was not prepared for what happened next. I was recently reminded that the intestine is something like two miles long….let’s just say that about a mile of the contents of mine made an appearance. And it was…..it was weird in there. I stood up and thought ‘well that was scary’. Usually commercial toilets are my thang…as in they can handle the things that sometimes occur…..apparently this toilet was not ready for me.

After one attempted flush and a quick pondering of what to do next. I decided it was time to admit defeat immediately. These people will never see me again – meaning the hotel people. So I walked out of the room. Announced that I had in fact created a terrible terrible mess of destruction and dialed the front desk.

Me: I need a plunger (hysterical giggles from the three women behind me)

Front Desk: We will let maintenance know

What should be noted about this situation is that about 15 seconds before I came out of the bathroom my SIL called down to request more towels. Plungers trump towels by a good 3 minutes. The maintenance guy was up in a flash, with what we will now call “the bucket of shame”. I womaned up and answered the door. Looking at the floor and profusely apologizing to the man. No one and I mean no one! should have to do that job.

If I hadn’t then burrowed myself into the back corner of the hotel room out of sight, I probably would have thought about giving him a big tip….but I was too embarrassed to ever see him again.

He graciously came out of the bathroom and yelled ‘you’re all set!’ without coming into the room to see us or anything. Good man that one.

……I just…..I….there are really no words to describe how ridiculous it is to have this….waste system? I think everyone tried to make me feel better the next day when we admitted defeat on a lost pacifier. All three ladies uttered the words at some point ‘Jack probably put it in the toilet and that is what clogged it’. Thanks ladies….I suppose it is a possibility considering the fact that the paci literally evaporated. I mean I removed dresser drawers looking for that thing. But seriously? It is hard to believe with my “past” that this wasn’t straight up my ass.

And there ya go. I did accomplish an embarrassing story in Chicago for you! You’re welcome. I am nothing if not a people pleaser.

Favorite Toilet

I am not sure how many of you work somewhere where you would frequent a bathroom with multiple stalls, but I guess technically this might apply to anyone who uses a public bathroom regularly whether it be the grocery store, the mall, whatevs. Anyhoo, my point is, do you have a favorite stall? Or am I just a crazy OCD person? Maybe don’t answer that if I am. Okay so there are five stalls in the bathroom at work and I almost always use the exact same one. And I realized yesterday what a hick-up it causes when “my” stall is occupied. It is like my brain stops for an instant and says “great! now what do I do?”. I walked into the bathroom went past the sink and powder area and into the toilet room, turned the corner towards my stall and just stopped in my tracks when I realized it was occupied. I am not sure how long I stood there. There were two stalls open, but I am pretty sure I just stood there for a second contemplating whether I should wait for mine or come back later? I was probably trying to figure out how badly I had to pee. Finally I turned around and went to an open stall. It was at this point I realized I am a little bit crazy. Who has a favorite freakin’ toilet stall?
Here’s my second question? Do ideas ever pop into your head like “you know what would be funny?”. As I was in the “other” stall I was thinking: wouldn’t it be hilarious if I stood there for a minute in front of the stall and then knocked and said ‘are you going to be much longer?’. The astonished girl would respond ‘what?….um just a second’, but she would really be thinking ‘are all the stalls really occupied?’. When she gets out she would realize that they aren’t. Then she would look at me with wide eyes full of fear and astonishment and I could respond ‘thanks, this one’s my favorite’ *wink*. I don’t know where my brain comes up with these crazy ideas. But sometimes I think it would be awesome to live in Natalie’s alternate universe where I say all this crap out loud.
Now this of course makes me think of some of my mom’s crazy, yet hilarious, outbursts when her cancer had spread to her brain. People seriously look at me like I am insane when I start laughing about these incidences. But seriously it is the only relief you get most of the time and they become this happy memory during a very dark time. My mom found it a bit hilarious too and when she would say something that normally she would filter out she would be like ‘what? I have a brain tumor okay?’ and then we would both laugh histerically. Getting the horrified looks from people around us was obviously way more fun when she was there. When I try to tell people these stories they give me a look that is part horror, part amusement, part apprehension. It is like they are thinking: ‘Whoa did she just say that? Was it supposed to be funny? Am I a horrible person if I laugh? She is laughing. But she is kind of crazy’. And maybe the craziest part is that these reactions are humorous to me too. But I immediately have to tell people that it is okay to laugh about it.  
The one I remember most vividly was when mom was in the hospital. She was sleeping, or at least we thought she was, and Andy and I were watching TV. Suddenly she starts yelling ‘change the channel! change the channel! I don’t want to watch this!’. Andy and I are wide eyed and quickly reach for the remote and change the channel. We were just watching some sitcom, but from her reaction you’d think they were skinning baby lambs or something horrible. Then I ask her ‘okay Mom, what do you want to watch?’….no response….’Mom, what did you want to watch?’. Then she wakes up fully and says ‘what?’. It must have been a combination of a strange brain reaction and her dreams or something. She had no idea why she had gotten so upset about it. Now I realize to most everyone this doesn’t seem funny. But Andy and I still remember this and it makes us smile and laugh.
I also remember the first time I realized that changes were happening. We were out to eat, she had ordered something and the waitress came back to inform her that they didn’t have anymore of the item. I just remember my mom getting upset and pouty and saying ‘well *hummmp* that’s what I want”. My mom was usually a very reserved person and kind beyond normal expectation. If it had been four years earlier, even if she was disappointed, she would bubbly respond ‘no problem I will try ___ instead!’. So I remember being shocked when she reacted this way, even if it was just an itty bitty outburst that no one else would probably notice. I mentioned it after the waitress left and this was the first time mom said ‘well I do have a brain tumor!’ and she started laughing. This is when I realized that you can find comedy in any situation in life and it is the comedy and happiness that makes it bearable.
I am seriously not sure how I got here. I was just trying to tell you people about my weird obsession with a particular bathroom stall. I swear my fingers just get possessed sometimes.