Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Up To My Elbows In Piss and Shit

Sorry for the foul language. I usually keep it G or PG, but I've lost my voice already, so why not my language rating?

I had this post titled a couple of weeks ago when I first started to potty train JD. Here's what happened the day the title was originally formed, followed by Monday's events.

Upon JD's 3rd birthday in January, Wife and I finally decided that he wasn't the kid who would potty train himself, at least not any time soon. Time to start pushing a little bit. A couple of weeks of encouragement and putting him on the toilet, I decided it was time for a weekend potty boot camp.

We did a week-long countdown to 'no more diapers' and made a special trip to Target to buy big-boy underpants. The sofa was lined with garbage bags.

The weekend came and went and JD was no closer to being potty trained than before, except that he was more comfortable sitting on the toilet and I was doing even more laundry than usual. I continued the boot camp into the week and the week after that.

Two related problems. First, JD won't tell me when it is time to go #1 or #2. I have to anticipate, which means going to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes. Second, and most importantly, JD doesn't care if he's sitting in his filth. Diaper or underwear, he will sit in it for as long as it takes me to recognize there is a problem.

By the way, do you have any idea how much harder it is to clean up a poop that was made in underpants as opposed to a diaper?

So on this particular day, JD pooped in his underpants. I took his stuff off cleaned it out, and then threw it in the laundry. Then Toodles needed a diaper, so I changed her. But I hadn't re-pantsed JD. While I was changing Toodles, I suddenly heard water pouring on the carpet. Only it wasn't water. And Toodles had pooped but her tush was red, so I let her air out. So I got up, put her diaper in the Dekor, got some towels for the piss on the carpet, and came back to the living room.

Toodles wasn't finished. She had pooped again. And rolled in it. Yikes.

Fast forward to Monday, two days ago. JD was no closer to being potty trained than before. While he is fairly dry most of the day and pees on the toilet when I put him on, he will not poop on the toilet, nor will he tell me when it is time to do either.

So everything was going great. We were going to the Museum of Science and Industry with our neighbors. I was on the ball: lunch was packed, clothes were ready; all of this before both the kids were awake. After breakfast with JD and Toodles, I brought JD to the bathroom, took off his overnight diaper, and put him on the toilet. He didn't need to pee. Must have just gone, I thought, letting him go to the living room without pants. I was going to clean up breakfast, then get them dressed.

It couldn't have been more than three minutes when JD came to see me and said, "Daddy, poop on the potty?" I was so excited! He finally told me he had to go! Then I looked at his leg and saw poop. Uh, oh. So I put him on the toilet, hoping he had only let a little out but went to find the rest. I turned the corner in the living room by the stairs and saw Toodles. She was playing on the stairs. She was playing in JD's poop that was smeared all down the bottom four stairs. Did I mention that we have wall-to-wall carpeting?

I didn't know what to do, but picked her up, took her to the bathroom, got her undressed, and into the bathtub. But she had been so covered that poop got all over the bathroom floor (tile.) At that point I started yelling. He asked me to get off the toilet and then I yelled at him. "No poop on the carpet! Poop on the potty!" Over and over. Screaming. Toodles normally ignores my yelling, but the combination of my yelling and being put into the bath at an odd time of day (normally night baths) had her crying.

I ran into the kitchen and wanted to break something. I knew that breaking something would just compound the problem. I didn't want to swear aloud, though I just wanted to scream, "F*&! F*&!" Instead, I threw a tantrum. Imagine a 6'5", 32-year-old man, jumping up and down, screaming, and stomping his feet. I'm sure it was a funny sight. Then I went back and saw the carnage that was my living room. It stank. More screaming at JD.

Of course, I know that it was partially my fault, not having put a diaper on him. It's not like he hasn't done that before - go pee on the toilet, deny having to poop, then poop in his diaper less than five minutes later. That's the definition of insanity - doing the same thing hoping for different results. I was screaming from insanity.

After telling my neighbor what happened, that we couldn't go to the museum, she took pity on me and offered to take JD to the park with her kids while I cleaned. Toodles went down for her morning nap. JD went to the neighbor's house. I got on my hands and knees and cleaned up shit.

As punishment for my screaming fit, I lost my voice. It is the first time in my life that I've ever lost my voice and it sucks. I sound like Peter Brady going through puberty.

The good news is, the neighbors also have a carpet cleaner, so I borrowed that and everything looks as good as new, maybe better. It certainly smells better. JD, however, is no closer to pooping on the toilet than before. He is not compacting his poop, which could have been a consequence. As with all other milestones, encourage and wait. It will happen when he's good and ready, not by pushing too hard. Just like a good poop.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You going to eat that?

Do you eat or serve prepared foods? Foods like Pillsbury Grands!, Bisquick or YoKids? Have you read the labels?

I subscribe to a few couponing websites. There are really good deals out there, but most often these deals are for prepared foods. Corporations like General Mills, Kellogg's, ConAgra, and others frequently run special promotions where consumers can reap big savings on foods sold by these companies. Sounds like a great deal? Better read the fine print.

The fine print, in this case, is the ingredient list and nutritional information. The amount of trans fat, sugar, processed sugar, sodium, food coloring, and preservatives added to many of these foods makes me ill. They are added for one reason - profit.

Companies are out for profit. These ingredients are cheaper than 'real' ingredients, make the food more shelf stable, look better, and appear healthier.


I firmly believe it is the consumer's obligation to buy foods with healthy ingredients. If people stop buying foods made with junk materials, the demand curve will shift and corporate profits will suffer, creating a need to change the quality of the supply of foods on the shelves.

Food manufacturers use preservatives to create shelf-stable foods. In other words, to keep food from going bad. Duh. My contention on these and all other synthetics: is the human body capable of processing and flushing these chemicals? What happens to these substances when they go through our body? I believe they can be carcinogenic or cause other long-term health problems.

The use of preservatives, emulsifiers, and food coloring contribute to a food's appearance. First of all, foods don't look very appealing if they are moldy. Have you ever purchased bread from a local breadmaker? It gets moldy in a couple of days. Some grocery store bread, however, is good for up to three weeks. With every benefit comes a consequence. Fresh bread has a short shelf life. How about hot dog buns? They never seem to go bad.

Peanut butter uses emulsifying ingredients to keep from separating. Have you ever owned real peanut butter? After sitting on the shelf, the liquids and solids separate. It only needs to be stirred, but people see the separation and wonder if the food is spoiled. Cottage cheese and yogurt act like that.

Food coloring makes packaged food appear fresh and bright, therefore appealing. Making pickle relish more green or the bright colors in many breakfast cereals are just two examples of the uses of food coloring.

Sugar, brown sugar, honey, and molasses are used to sweeten foods. Fat (butter or oil) is used for taste and creaminess. Salt is used to help bring out the flavors of other ingredients and to react with ingredients in baking. Names for salt include table salt, iodized salt, sodium chloride (table salt), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and baking powder (a combination of baking soda and cornstarch.) Different combinations of these ingredients make a food sweet or savory. By loading food up with all three, signals are sent to the brain, giving a WOW! factor. Have you ever tried to eat just one doughnut or chocolate chip cookie? It's almost impossible, and that's not an accident. Food scientists know that adding the right levels of these ingredients will make customers come back for more.

Foods high in sugar, fat, and sodium are bad enough. But when synthetics and highly processed substitutes take the place of raw ingredients, what is the body to do?

The use of ultra-refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup take the food further away from raw materials. Refining and processing is bad. The closer to the natural product, the better. The same goes for bleached and enriched flour. Why use enriched flour? To make the food appear to be more nutritious than it is. Rather than supplementing one's diet with whole fruit and vegetables, enrichment boosts the vitamin content of nutritionally void food materials. Who cares about fruit and vegetables when you can just eat a loaf of bread and get the same vitamins, right? What most people don't know is that the absorption of added vitamins is not as strong from supplements and we miss out on the unpublished benefits supplied by whole foods.

Sodium (salt), sugar, and fat are used to create taste. It is a fact that humans (all animals, to be exact) love these components. Companies know that and not only use them for taste, but use them to create food addiction. This is not a fact, but my opinion supported by studies (see Nutrition Action Healthletter). Many foods use these combinations to get you to love their food and come back for more, no matter what the nutritional effects.

I read Nutrition Action Healthletter for their informative articles on health and nutrition. Where we disagree is their constant argument for government regulation. That's crap. There's enough regulation that gives consumers the information on food labels needed to make educated decisions about the foods they purchase. Ingredients, carlories, fat, sodium, sugars, fiber, protein, essential vitamins are all on the label of every packaged food.

By choosing to eat processed foods, however, people may as well start smoking. I believe these foods are as harmful and addictive or even more so. Similar to the long-term effects of smoking, people aren't affected immediately, but over a long period of time. Prepackaged foods are made to seduce the buyer into thinking they are healthy or taste great, when they are only manufactured and packaged to appear so. Sound familiar to smoking litigation? Adding addictive substances. Packaging for greater appeal. Creating "light" cigarettes that are just as harmful as their full-flavored counterparts.

And you think food manufacturers wouldn't do that?

Fortunately, many of these manufacturers are waking up to the harmfulness of their products. Soup manufacturers are lowering the average sodium content. Bread and cracker makers are using less high fructose corn syrup. These changes are a good start. Please read labels and make informed decisions about your diet. You'll feel better, live a healthier life, and maybe look better, though I'm lost in that regard.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weather is the Best Medicine

Living Chicago is amazing, but we have to suffer through some tough weather to get to the amazing parts.

While I will always contend that there is plenty to do so long as one dons appropriate clothing, nothing beats good weather in Chicago.

Today, by recent standards, was terrific weather. By 9:30am, the temperature had reached 40. We decided to go to the newly renovated park 3 blocks away.

If you're in a southern state, it is likely that you're surprised to hear about people going to a park in 40-degree weather. When the average temperature has been around 20 for the last three months, a 20-degree swing seems like a heat wave. Have you ever been in 80-degree weather all day, just to go out at night when it's 60, donning a sweater? Same thing.

JD and Toodles had lots of fun. JD went down the slides, around the field, and on the swings. Toodles got some of her first swinging and sliding in, too, though she slept through much of the fun. It was a great way to spend an hour-and-a-half.

I'm always leery about being outside during the first week or more of good weather after it's been freezing for so long. I strongly believe we are susceptible to the organisms laying dormant all winter.

In general, germs don't scare me. Squishy, muddy soil and sunshine are good for growth of green stuff and bad stuff.

But just like any other viral season, taking care of one's self and continuing to dress appropriately (not changing into shorts and t-shirts when it hits 50) will keep us in good shape.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sick Blues

Laying in bed for a couple of days watching Band of Brothers On Demand on HBO sounds like heaven on Earth.

That is, unless it comes at the price of strep throat.

I woke up around 5:30am Sunday morning with a terribly sore throat and feeling as though I'd played in a triple-overtime hockey game the night before that featured several fights in which I was one of the men with his gloves on the ice. Toodles and JD woke up at 6:30, so I get them breakfast and played in the living room. Not feeling well, I took my temperature. 98.9. Nothing remarkable.

It was Wife's day to sleep in, so she woke up at 8:30 or 9:00.

After informing her that I was terribly tired, I went back upstairs and fell asleep for three hours. Then I felt a fever had come on. 101.5. Back to bed. 3:00 rolled around. 103.5. Time for Tylenol and to make arrangements for help on Monday. It was unlikely I would be able to watch the kids.

Mother-in-Law took the 9-2:30 shift, while JK took the afternoon shift till Wife came home.

In the mean time, I went down to see Dr. Stewart at Northwestern Internists. He's my man. Spots on my throat. Took cultures for influenza and strep. Influenza negative. Strep positive. Amoxicillin. Plenty of fluids and food if my throat could take it. Tylenol. Rest.

Back to bed. With a bowl of matzo ball soup and a side of challah bread from The Bagel on Broadway. That was awesome of JK to pick up.

Being sick sucks. I still feel run down at the end of the day, but each day has been better. I am no longer contagious. Should be back to 100% within a week. Till then, wish me well and my kids to be patient, sweet, and quiet.