The Ultimate Bribe

Potty training can make a person desperate.  If you haven't potty trained a toddler, I expect you'll be tempted to judge us.  Go ahead, I dare you.  Say hi to Karma for me later. If you have potty trained a toddler, you know the level of desperation I'm talking about.  Camden's relapses were driving us to the brink of insanity.  Several times throughout the year we thought we had the whole thing down, and then suddenly we'd find ourselves in a stinky situation.  So, so stinky.

Roy and I sat down and discussed our options.  How do you get potty training to really stick for good?

"Let's try some major positive reinforcement," I suggested.  "Let's get something he really wants and tell him that if he makes it in the potty so many days in a row then he gets the prize."  In my mind I was imagining a trip to the Target toy aisle.  

Roy nodded his agreement just as Camden walked into the room.  "Hey buddy, guess what?" he said.  "If you go poop in the potty for twenty days straight, guess where we're gonna go?"  I blinked.  We had not discussed this.

Roy put on his biggest smile and said, "We're gonna go to DISNEYLAND!"

My mouth fell open.  So much for a trip to Target.

Camden was jumping up and down and asking if Mickey Mouse lives in Disneyland and Roy was telling him about the rides he would take him on, and I was sitting there speechless, giving Roy a death stare.  I would have been mean mom of the year to step in and deny these guys a Disney trip, even though that was the responsible thing to do.

Thing is, it was a fantastically terrible time to go, seeing that I was over 7 months pregnant at the time.  20 days would see me converging on 9 months and ready to pop.  Even if Cam had an accident and needed to start over that would put us there with a newborn baby in the dead of summer.  Death stare death stare death stare death stare.

I just held onto the hope that the whole thing would go down the toilet like every other method we'd tried.  

It did, in fact, go down the toilet.  It aaaaall went down the toilet, but in the best way possible.  After two false starts, Camden really took off.  We put a little picture of us at Disneyland on the chart to remind him what exactly his bribe--I mean, reward was.  We frequently reminded him, "But if you go on the potty we get to go to DISNEYLAND!" which almost always got him skipping to the bathroom.

It was a momentous day when the chart was completed.  20 days in a row, no accidents.  Even at night!  It was a miracle!  It seemed the relief really did warrant some kind of celebration for all three of us.  So we asked Uncle Mason and Aunt Kirsten to join us in California.  I've never seen Camden so stoked for something.

Hallie was a bit anti-car seat, and Kirsten and I had to take turns being crammed between the kids in the back, but the drive wasn't terrible.  Thanks to technology.

Then we met Mason at Downtown Disney.  At the Lego store Camden got to race his own Lego creation against a bunch of other kids.  Camden's was a bit top heavy and crashed halfway down the track, but we were all smiles anyway.

The next day was beach day.  We randomly chose Huntington, not realizing how humongous the waves would be.

Camden was scared.

Mason and Roy braved the waves, while Kirsten and I stayed dry with the kids on shore.

Hallie slept for the first part and then got the princess treatment for the second part.  It was a bit bright out.

Later we met Lynn for lunch at a little fish taco place, where I had the best veggie burrito of my life.  Downtown was cool, I wish we'd had more time to explore.  There's always time for gelato, of course.

And we got to see Lynn's apartment.  I love this girl.  Camden loves her furry family.

That night Camden hopped into his Mickey Mouse pajamas with the kind of giddy smile on his face that parents live for.  And it was still there in the morning and the whole drive to the Disney parking lot.

When the shuttle bus arrived Camden thought he was on his first ride, and who were we to douse his excitement?  But really our first ride was Peter Pan.  A first time for not only Camden but also Kirsten and Roy.  Such a classic.

Toon town was a favorite when I was growing up, so it sure tugged at my heart strings to see Camden loving it like I used to.  The highlight was, predictably, Mickey Mouse, his very favorite friend.

Hallie stayed hidden in the wrap most of the time, snoozing away against my chest.  

Obviously I had a bit of a different vacation than the others, having Hallie attached to me.  When she got hungry I left the others and found a shady spot to feed her, when we got hot I perused the wares inside air conditioned stores.  We were, however, able to go on a surprising number of rides.  When Camden experienced the bigger rides with everyone else Hallie and I sometimes revisited the slower rides without a line, just so we could sit in air conditioning.

That being said, I did get to ride some favorites thanks to Roy, Kirsten, and Mason offering to take Hallie when possible.  Shout out to Kirsten for making this Splash Mountain portrait happen.

Mason's face, lol!
I wanted Camden to love Splash Mountain as much as I do, but I guess he's still a bit young.  Even all the happy characters singing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" at the end didn't convince him that what had just happened was in any way fun.  The drop was just too terrifying.  We hoped that Thunder Mountain {"the super fast choo choo train"} would be a better experience.

Here he is at the start...

And apparently by the end he wouldn't remove his face from behind Mason's shoulder.

Thus we learned that just because a kid is tall enough for a ride, doesn't necessarily mean that he's ready for it.  Sorry, Cam!  After that we decided to stick to the "slow rides" which I was happy with because Hallie and I could go on most of them.  In fact, some of them were dark and slow enough to nurse in!

Nothing to see here, move along!

This girl really did awesome.  If you have to take a baby, I'd say newborn is the way to go.  She was happy sleeping the majority of the time.  Here she is keeping cool in the Minnie Mouse outfit from Grandma!

Camden only stopped when Kirsten and I took the kids back to the condo for naps and relaxation.  We were all wiped out, but none more than this boy.  We actually had to wake him up after a couple of hours so that we could get some more fun in at the park.  In the meantime Roy and Mason had the opportunity to write some of the more "grown-up" rides in our absence.

One of my favorite events of the trip was the Paint the Night Parade after the sun had set.  Our minds were blown by the lit up floats and the technology the dancers used!  It was just amazing.  Of course I was wedged in the stroller nursing the baby, trying to keep her calm and happy through the loud music.  But Camden was invited to sit in the very front with a super nice family, and he was just over the moon.  I thought his face must hurt from how big he was smiling the entire time.  It was magic.

The next morning we woke up to this happy girl.

And headed out to California Adventure, where the favorite ride of the day was The Little Mermaid.  We rode it four times.  Mason was having a blast.

Haha, he's a good sport.  Mason and I haven't had a ton of time to hang out in the last few years, so it really was so great to have him along.  Camden loves him like crazy, and always wants to play the "hugging game" with him, which is tag except you hug the person instead of tag them.  I don't even know where he got that from or why Mason is the only one invited to play.  But he's a good uncle to let Camden drag him all around the parks at a gallop.

We watched the Disney Jr. Live show, explored Car's Land, Kirsten took Cam on the ferris wheel {a definite favorite}, and we went on all the not-too-fast rides.

We splurged at the Ghirardelli chocolate shop, tasting each others' treats.  My strawberry shake was good {most importantly, it could be eaten with one arm cradling a baby} but Mason's was epic.  Had to be documented.

In the afternoon Roy and Mason took the kids back to the condo for naps and respite from the heat.  This time Kirsten and I got to ride "grown-up" rides.  {PS, I love a man in a baby wrap!}

I like this picture because it was taken on accident.  I noticed it in the camera roll later that day, so somehow I must have snapped this while holding my phone on my lap.  Yes, it's right up my nose, but you can see how happy I am to be on California Screamin'.  Aaaaaand you can see how hot and sweaty it was that day.

Despite the heat, Kirsten and I had to have the bread bowls at the Pacific Wharf.  To DIE for!  Piping hot soup on a piping hot day, anyone?

And Kirsten and I got to go on my favorite ride of all time; Tower of Terror!  Those girls sitting next to us were hilarious.  One looked over at Kirsten as the doors closed and said, "I'm a screamer."

We were all screamers.  And I am pretty sure my fingerprints were still on Kirsten's knee the next day.

Then the kids were back.

This had to be documented because Camden's bank of humor consists almost entirely of "tutu" jokes, inspired by this classic Disney hippo from the original Fantasia.  "Hippo in a tutu" is the funniest thing you could say in our family these days, but recently we've expanded to "clock in a tutu," "mama in a tutu," "house in a tutu"... you get the picture.  And it's all thanks to Kirsten.

At the end of the day we were looking around for a restaurant and settled upon Ariel's Grotto, not knowing anything about it except that they weren't booked full and we wanted to sit and eat.  None of the staff warned us what we were getting ourselves into, but we decided it was a happy accident.  Our outstanding full course dinner came with special seating for the World of Color water show.  {And super cute desserts for Camden.}

In true Disney fashion, the World of Color show was crazy cool.  With the lights and music and everything Camden must have been overwhelmed by the feels.  Suddenly he had his arm around my neck and was pulling me into a kind of family hug.  He kept kissing Roy and I on our cheeks over and over, refusing to let us go.  Roy and I looked at each other and silently agreed that we were doing something right with this sweet kid.

And I just looked at my boys and over at Hallie and thought I've got to be the luckiest person alive, I'm so in love with these people it hurts.  The family hug wasn't broken up until fireballs were blasted into the air.  We could feel the heat on our faces and Camden buried himself into Roy's neck and asked to go home.  Ha!

The next morning before heading out of California we visited the Disney Hotel pool, where some of Kirsten's friends from Alaska happened to be staying.  Camden loved the slides, and Hallie loved her nap in her Auntie's arms.

Then everyone was buckled into carseats and we began the long drive home.  Sad the trip was over, but happy that Kirsten was staying with us.

Oh, and when we got home?  Camden pooped his pants.


Disclaimer:  Even though Camden did in fact poop his pants the moment we got home from Disneyland, he is doing much much better.  That is only one of three accidents he's had since completing his chart in April.  Wanted to give Roy a bit of credit for his ultimate bribe.  There's no magic formula for potty training, sadly.  You just gotta hold on and try not to cry too much as you're scrubbing poop out of small underwear, and try to remember they won't be doing this in college.