The Ballad of Zoë

Image source

The first time Zoë used the potty, there was much rejoicing in our home. Praise the god of the Porcelain Throne! She’s going to be potty trained early! Little did we know that he laughed at our sacrifice of praise and set a curse upon our home. Zoë, it seemed, would continue on in her tradition of doing things her way and in her own time. She would spend the next year and a half not only failing to use the potty, but actively avoiding it. Wet diapers did not bother her. She hid when she pooped, and then lied to us about having pooped. But we knew she had pooped whenever she went absolutely insane. She would run around screaming or pick on Rachael more than usual.

It wasn’t all her fault, though. I was horrible at taking her on a regular basis. Even if I managed to keep up with it at the beginning of the day, I would lose all energy and motivation by dinner time. Whenever I tried her in underwear, she would inevitably have accident after accident for me to clean up. It took its toll on my fibro-weary body. This left me with no incentive to put her in underwear; keeping her in a diaper left me with no incentive to remember to take her potty.

We were to the point of wanting to enroll her in daycare just so they could do most of the training work like when Rachael was in daycare. None of the positive reinforcement incentives worked permanently. And we were running out of time with preschool starting in a couple of months. I was pretty sure that it would take a miracle for everything to work out.

Technology to the Rescue!
I’ve always been a firm believer in letting tv and video games raise my children. So the next natural course of action was to find an app to potty train my child. Actually, Mike happened to run across it: the Pull-Ups Time to Potty app.
Image from Pull Ups app

When you get right down to it, the app is a timer with positive reinforcement games after each potty trip. It’s very simple, but it’s genius. The time automatically resets for you after each potty trip you log. You can adjust the timer to your child. For instance, if the timer says 1 hour 14 minutes until the next attempt, and you think that’s too long to wait, you can adjust the timer yourself. After a series of successful potty trips, the time span between each attempt increases.
Zoë loved the games after each successful potty trip. They’re extremely simple, but they make her giggle and deliriously happy. Games include play with Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Doc McStuffins, and Jake & the Neverland Pirates. One of Zoë’s favorites was a generic cowboy who had cactus needles stuck in his tush. She tapped the screen to remove them and then he did a little happy dance. Like a cute, little example of Pavlov’s dog, she would react whenever she heard the “Time to Potty” chime. Frankly, her reaction was usually one or running away or yelling, “No no noooo!” But reminding her that she would get a celebration game was enough to entice her to the potty.

Almost immediately after we began using the app, she stopped having accidents. Pretty soon, we were able to move her into underwear, in which she has had zero accidents! And the pièce de résistance: she is now letting us know when she has to use the potty!
I will love this app forever because it helped me train my willful 3 year old in less than a month. It was doable for me living with fibro; I never felt taxed by the potty trips. Its gradual nature allowed me to begin in Pull Ups and then move to underwear when I was sure I wouldn’t be cleaning up accidents every five minutes. And best of all? We’re not going to be out our preschool deposit and explaining to her for the next year why she wasn’t allowed to to to preschool!

This post is not sponsored. I just really thought you potty training parents, (especially spoonies) ought to know about it.

Baked French Toast with Strawberry Compote

This morning we had the opportunity to have brunch with some great friends. Rachael and their oldest children have been friends since they were babies in the same daycare. Their teachers referred to Rachael and Will as their old married couple; even while bickering, they were inseparable. Rachael and Henna loved on each other and always chatted excitedly about the other. Whenever pictures were sent home, there they were together: The Three Musketeers. Over time, a genuine friendship developed between the parents. Not a, “We have kids the same age, so we’ll share polite chatter and terse smiles, but then move on,” kind of friendship. It’s a, “We actually share common interests, (FOOD!) and an inappropriate sense of humor,” deal.

Then one day, sadly, Will and his family moved away. It was only a few towns over, but in the DC area, it felt like it might as well have been a few states. Rachael handled it as well as anyone who had had their right arm cut off could have. Four months later, Rachael came to stay home with me after Zoë was born. But we were determined, dammit. In this area where the friendships can be as transient as the jobs and housing, we were determined to not allow these bonds to be broken. As the kids have grown older, numbers have been added to our families, and schedules have less space in which to pencil things in type things into iCalendar, it’s becomes harder.

So we were all excited when we were able to get together for brunch this morning. We all love food and to cook. Mary made delicious strata and frittata and a white cranberry spritzer that I am obsessed with. Rashmi brought fudgy brownies. I wanted to keep it simple, what with the mental health cocktail I’d been served for the month. I brought truffles and baked French toast. We ate. We drank. We joked inappropriately. We made memories.
As Mary said, it was an opportunity to wear sequins before 11 am.


Baked French Toast


French toast

1 loaf French bread
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 stick of cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Strawberry compote

1 pint (16 oz) strawberries, diced
1/3 cup sugar

To make French toast:
Butter 9×13 pan. Tear French bread into large pieces and place in the pan. Whisk together eggs through vanilla. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

To make topping:(can be made ahead and refrigerated)
Mix together flour through nutmeg. Cut butter into flour mixture until the butter resembles coarse sand. Evenly sprinkle the topping on the French toast. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Mix strawberries and sugar together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and allow sauce to thicken, approximately 10 minutes. Allow sauce to cool for a few minutes before serving. Compote can be reheated in the microwave if it is made ahead of time.


Baked French toast recipe from The Pioneer Woman