The week that I taught my kid to use the John, and did not get dismembered

Let it be written in the annals of Brinkerhoff history that this was the week when the dishwasher broke, Dave left town, and I potty trained Asher. Yes, in that order.

There are few chores I detest as much as hand washing dishes, and so I was horrified when the Start button for my dishwasher didn't respond on Tuesday morning. Don't buy a Maytag, guys. We've had ours for four-and-a-half years, and this is the second time we've had this problem. Dave didn't have time to check into it before heading to Vernal for work, and so I turned to Google in desperation. Here we see if Dave reads my blog. I took the door apart per Google's suggestion and tried to troubleshoot the thing (surprise, Honey!) The only thing I learned is that I have no idea what I'm doing and I deserve to be one of the suckers who pays the extra $200 in labor, in addition to the $150 for a new button panel. And I get to wait until Tuesday for the part to come in and the service guy to come back. 

Because handwashing a stack of dishes every night after a day of wrangling the kids solo wasn't enough, I decided to potty train Asher starting Wednesday. I had picked the day a week ahead based on the forecast, and was determined not to alter course, dishwasher be damned. The plan was to do the "backyard method," wherein Asher runs around in his undies all day and pees at-will until he figures out that it's not cool to be soaked in your own urine, and agrees to use the toilet instead. But, because I have another child who likes his naps indoors and eating gravel outside, our potty training took place mostly inside. The first 24 hours were ROUGH. The next 24 hours was slightly better, and since then there have been zero accidents! Full disclosure: He still wears a diaper to sleep, because he takes a sippy to bed and frequently floods his way out of even an overnight diaper. Undies at night are out of the question for awhile. But still, he's doing great. Far better than I expected. He went to church today and a ward party last night without incident. Now we just have to step down the hourly bathroom visits and teach him to recognize himself when he needs to go.

Definitely the most bizarre accident Asher had. You can't see the puddle of pee on the floor below him, but trust me, it's there! I don't understand how this is less difficult than peeing in the toilet.

Definitely the most bizarre accident Asher had. You can't see the puddle of pee on the floor below him, but trust me, it's there! I don't understand how this is less difficult than peeing in the toilet.

The true difficulty of potty training—as related to you by an expert of five days experience—is having the will to not give up. Every morning I am overwhelmed at the prospect of stripping Asher down every hour (at first it was every 20 minutes) and making him sit on the toilet, constantly asking if he needs to poo, and keeping a vigilant eye glued to him lest he sneak off for 30 seconds to poop behind the recliner. It's exhausting, folks. By afternoon I am pooped. There is the nagging temptation to just throw a diaper on him and take a break. But I know that will just confuse him and draw out the process. So, we've ripped off the bandaid and there's no looking back! I'm sure he'll have accidents here and there for the next few weeks and months, but I'm really excited to (hopefully) have a kid who is reasonably potty-trained by the time we want to go on our summer travels. And in the fall: PRESCHOOL!!!

I have to tell you though, that kid says some funny stuff. Not entirely appropriate, but that's what makes it so priceless. We make him sit to pee (no fire hoses, thank you), but we have to tell him "point your penis down" so that it goes in the toilet. (This was a bit of a learning curve, for both of us.) So what does Asher tell me now when I have to pee? "Point you big penis down, Mom!" I guess my penis is "big" because I'm an adult? He also tells me my nose and butt are least I'm not compensating for anything.

In other news, we got socked by another massive snow storm this weekend. Not sure on the snowfall total, but definitely more than a foot. Dave had planned to go hiking for antlers on his way back to Colorado, which would have put him home Saturday night. Instead he came home early on Friday and beat the storm. We were grateful to have him home for once, especially when it came to shoveling all that heavy, wet snow! And what do I do when we get smothered in wet snow? If I'm not building a giant snowman in our yard, I'm doing it in someone else's. It's a thing. It's called a snowman-o-gram. And even though it's kind of a secret, I can put it out on my blog because all of two people read this. So, it goes something like this. Dave and I (more recently just me) build a snowman and leave it on a friend's doorstep. This must be done stealthily, so that the person doesn't discover said snow person until the alarming moment they open their door and are confronted by a looming, pebble-encrusted face. Sometimes we have pre-built the giant snowballs to be assembled quickly on-site, other times we work under cover of darkness or while our friends aren't home.
So, last night after we put the kids to bed, I suited up in my all-black snow gear and drove to my friends Sarah's house. It was after 10 o'clock when I left, and there were still a few lights on in her basement. Most of her windows appeared uncovered. At first I was extremely apprehensive; I knew that if she or her husband, Cameron, looked out that I would be spotted immediately. Does Cameron have guns? I thought. I think he has guns. Would he shoot me just for being on his lawn? But my concerns eased when, after a half hour, no face appeared at the window. The neighbor's dog barked loudly for a long time, yet no one seemed alarmed. I concluded that Sarah and her family must be asleep, the basement lights on only for the kids' sake. And so I stopped checking the windows. The snow conditions couldn't have been better. The big snowballs came together almost through magnetic attraction, requiring mimmal patting down on my part. They stacked with ease, and within an hour I had an eight-foot snowman directly in front of her door. I wasn't as careful as I usually am about packing in the gaps between the stacked balls to ensure stability. The thing only had to last until morning. In my head I rehearsed what I would say the next day, when Sarah would surely accuse me of the prank. I'd deny it and enjoy watching her interrogate any other possible suspect, before eventually coming clean.

Such daydreams were wasted. In the midst of giving my snowman a bushy grass mustache, the front door was flung open! For a brief second I considered sprinting away, but it was impossible in my (Dave's) enormous snow boots. Sarah appeared, laughing, in the doorway, and I narrowly avoided peeing my pants. "You scared me to death!" I exclaimed, though I suppose she had more right to that statement than I did. I was enormously disappointed at having been caught, but highly amused at the details of my discovery. As Sarah told it:

"We were watching a movie in the basement, then we came upstairs to go to bed. Cameron looked out the window to see how much snow we had, and said, 'Sarah! There's someone on our lawn, some homeless Hispanic lady is building something on our lawn! Call the cops!' I said, 'Wait, are you sure this isn't a prank? Is this someone we know?' And then Cameron said, 'Wait, don't call the cops. I think it's Shayla.' And then I looked out the window and saw it was you!"

She also told me that Cameron had a machete—"More for scaring people than for actual use"—and so I was doubly glad to have been discovered before I was arrested, shot, or dismembered. The silver lining was that I got a picture with my snowy friend, who was taller than the picture suggests. Also, in my haste to build up, I didn't properly stabilize the thing (you can see he's leaning) and he was in shambles by the next morning. I suppose there's some deeper lesson on "firm foundations" here, which I will surely remember next time I snowman-o-gram a friend.

This evening Dave and I signed up for a website that links to, and tells you how closely related you are to a spouse, a friend, or a famous person. It turns out that I'm his ninth is Barack Obama. I do not anticipate our children having eleven fingers.

And in closing, here is a random picture of our perfect child. He is wonderful and charming and so sweet that I often have to "take a hit" off of him (i.e., Finn kisses) just to remind myself that I really do love my children and shouldn't strangle either one of them, even if they poop their pants 15 minutes after I begged them to poop on the toilet.