Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Feb '13

Stuff and Potty Training

This month my parents came to visit. We had lunch with them one afternoon at Sizzler. When the kids saw the ice cream machine it was like they had hit the jackpot.

Wes and Carissa had been asking to go back to the car wash ever since I first took them in November, just before Elizabeth was born. I never took them before because I thought it would scare them (Wes is sensitive to loud noises). Turns out I was wrong! I acted all excited and so now they think it’s cool. So I took them again. In spite of the semi-scared faces, they enjoyed it.

Carissa lassoing a wild shoe.

Elizabeth sleeping. She is three months now. She is a good, happy baby. I don’t really keep track of her hours sleeping, but it seems like sometimes she’ll take one good, long nap during the day that lasts 3+ hours. At night she’ll fall asleep between 9:30 and 11:30 and I usually only have to get up with her once in the night, around 4-5 am. I keep a portable DVD player in her room, and I have watched many, MANY movies in the last three months. Her hair is thin and delicate and kind of balding in the back. I feel a little bad because she had cradle cap, and I gave her head a good scrub, and now she’s kind of balding in front too. I hope it grows back before long! She really is a good baby and smiles often. She has been healthy, and we feel lucky to have her.

I don’t have a picture of this, but we just noticed that Wes is getting another tooth. He’s 5 1/2. His teeth have come in at weird times and in weird orders, which is normal for kids with Down syndrome. His first tooth didn’t come in until 19 months. One of his canines (I think) never came in, and the dentist wasn’t sure it every would. Maybe it didn’t exist. But, it’s coming in now! I don’t know that there’s even room for it. I should maybe take him to the dentist again. Joy, oh, joy.

Two and a half weeks ago I somehow summoned up enough courage to start potty training again. In August I worked on it with both Wes (almost 5) and Carissa (almost 2). I gave up after 2 weeks. It was EXHAUSTING. Neither kid was willing enough to cooperate, and I needed a break. So this time I’ve just been focusing on one kid. One day I showed Carissa her little basket of underwear (Dora and Hello Kitty, of course) and told her she could wear it if she used the potty. So she ran right into the bathroom and went, and put the underwear on.

John and I visited Walmart and bought a few books and toys we could use as incentives. I’ve been trying different things to see what works. We keep a sticker chart where if she goes 5 times without an accident she gets a package of fruit snacks. If she has an accident we take the stickers off and start again. During the first couple of days I thought she’d never earn anything. But then she did. After that we set it up so if she went 10 times without an accident she earned a toy (or “present,” as she calls it): a Dora the Explorer book that plays music. I really thought she’d never make it. But then she did. And she went on to earn another 10 stickers and get a second book.

I was frustrated because I would have to ask her all the time if she needed to go potty and basically had to make her go and sit every hour. My neighbor told me that her 2-year-old boy who was potty training tells her when he has to go. Carissa wasn’t doing this. I asked her how she got her son to do that, and she said the magic was in the mini-marshmallow he got for telling her he needed to go. I invested in a package of colored mini-marshmallows. She gets one (PINK, naturally) if she tells me she has to go, and another one for going. We would practice: “Now what do you say?” “I hafta go potty, pwease!” I wondered if she would get it, and after a few days, she got really good at it. Now I don’t worry about her having accidents during the day. She’s pretty good at recognizing her need to go and coming to get me when she does. I’m really proud of her progress!

We’re still working on the nighttime. She wants to wear underwear to bed but she doesn’t always make it through the night. I get a little tired of the laundry, and changing her and her sheets in the middle of the night when I’m tired.

The other thing we’re working on is poop. She wasn’t being so successful at using the potty for that, and didn’t seem to care, so I made a separate sticker chart for it. If she went poop in the potty just two times without an accident, she would get a really awesome present: A family of ponies. I had originally pulled out a little ambulance that makes noise, which she seemed keen on, but no progress was happening. So then I showed her the pony toy. Whether by accident or because she wanted it enough, she got her two stickers and earned her present. She was so thrilled! She ran and told Daddy and then we sat down together to open it. She was all smiles as she combed the pony’s hair. It came with a mommy pony and two baby ones, plus a comb, mirror, hair clips, and a battery-operated hair dryer. She plays with it all the time. It was so rewarding to see her earn something that made her so happy.

Next I’ll have to work with Wes. I think he’s probably capable of being potty trained, but I’ll have to find the right incentives for him because it is so much easier to just use a diaper. And he doesn’t really care about wearing underwear like Carissa does. But it’s nice for now to have one less kid in diapers. Two is nicer than three.


Elizabeth’s Blessing Day

On February 3, John gave baby Elizabeth her name and blessing in church.

My mom and dad came from Iowa, my older brother from Oregon, and my little brother and cousin from Provo. Elizabeth was a sweet angel and slept through the experience. The blessing John gave her was beautiful and full of many wonderful promises. I look forward to watching her grow in confidence and beauty all her life long.

That evening we visited my sister, where all three of my siblings were gathered.

Carissa found her cousins’ fairy wings and tea set and was pretty much in girly heaven. Just where she belongs.



This year marks our 11th Valentine’s Day together. Our first one was on separate continents, and John sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Today we celebrated together with our three kids by going out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

We sat by the fireplace, which was cozy and could almost be considered romantic if we weren’t taking turns coloring on the kids menus with Wes and Carissa and cutting the kids’ food. Still, we enjoyed breakfast. The kids and I had chocolate milk.

Elizabeth slept the whole time, almost.

We got three and four of us in a photo by the fireplace to remember the morning.

I love Wes and Carissa in this photo.

Cracker Barrel has a country store in front that brought out a whole new side of Carissa: the shopaholic within.

She enjoyed playing with the little Easter rabbits that moved and danced, and touching virtually everything the store. In the end I had to pick her up and carry her out whilst mid-tantrum. In the parking lot I suggested she pick out a rock for her and Wes to take home. That calmed her down right quick and she was happy.

Later in the day I took Wes and Carissa to a chocolate store to get the one thing I really wanted: a slice of frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate. It’s pretty much heaven.

When we got home I discovered the other thing I really like about Valentine’s Day: my flowers. And this after our conversation in the car about how overpriced flowers are on V-day! Nonetheless, I won’t turn down fresh flowers with baby’s breath.

Feb '13


On Saturday we take Wes to BYU for Athletic Connection. He gets to hang out with other people with Down syndrome and BYU athletes. Well, this past Saturday the team cancelled and the group took us bowling instead.

I’ve taken Wes and Carissa bowling before, and Wes LOVES it. Last time Carissa was a little too young to appreciate it, but this time (at age 2 1/2) she was into it.

We shared the lane with two other siblings, Clark (who is a teenager with DS) and his little brother Josh. A handful of BYU students are always on hand to serve, and this girl helped my kids bowl. John and I mostly stood back and watched, making sure they didn’t run into the lane or try to grab a ball and start bowling when it wasn’t their turn.

Waiting to see where her ball ends up.

I have many blurry pictures of Wes and Carissa jumping up and down and shouting things like, “Alright!” and “Yay!” Carissa danced around a lot, while Wes did more shouting.

And the baby sister? Well, she watched and slept from her baby carrier strapped to my chest.

All in all, with bumper bowling the kids didn’t do too badly.

After we finished bowling John and I took the kids to the BYU bookstore. I got to browse and the kids read stories in the children’s reading area. The BYU bookstore is a magical, wonderful place to be.



A few years ago I gave up on giving Wes haircuts myself. It was a two-person job where one parent had to hold him and the other cut. And we both had to endure his weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth the whole time.

So then a friend told me about Cookie Cutters, which specializes in kids’ haircuts. It’s not nearby but totally worth the drive. The waiting area has a slide and touch-screen computer game. Wes sits buckled into a chair shaped like a car or airplane and he can watch TV. I’ve learned that Dora the Explorer is on at 11:30 am. Perfect.

He’s not always happy to sit in the chair, but at least I’m not the one who has to hold him down or cut the hair. This time he put up a fight about getting in the chair, but once he was there and Dora was on he calmed down and watched the show. Stephanie cuts his hair, and she does a great job with him.

Of course Carissa has no qualms about coming, too, because she gets a sucker and a balloon like Wesley does, and she doesn’t even have to get her hair cut. Not yet.

Afterward I take them for ice cream. Last time we did a frozen yogurt bar, where they can pick their flavor and toppings, but this time I opted for drive-through ice cream cones. We ended the trip with errands at Costco across the street, and the kids fell fast asleep on the way home.