Tag Archives: terrible two’s

17 Reasons Why Toddlers and Puppies are EXACTLY the Same

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  1. They both like to put inappropriate things in their mouths
  2. They both like nuks and blankets
  3. They both like to dig through the garbage
  4. They both like to unroll the toilet paper from the roll
  5. They both like to eat food off the floor
  6. They both require me to clean up their stinky poops
  7. They both steal things that don’t belong to them
  8. Neither of them understands boundaries
  9. They both impede getting out the door
  10. They both require you to close all the doors to all the other rooms
  11. They both like to rip paper into tiny, tiny pieces
  12. They both move methodically from prohibited item to prohibited item
  13. Neither one can be left alone unsupervised
  14. They both respond to the same commands – out, stay, leave it
  15. They both get ridiculously messy
  16. They both see an open lap as an unequivocal invitation to sit in it
  17. They both invoke hysterical laughter, which combined with their cuteness, means you can’t stay mad at them for long

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Exactly What I Needed to Hear

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I tend to let my emotions rule my world. When I read, see or hear something really sad, whether real-life or fictional — i.e. spouses dying, children with terminal illnesses, child abuse, sexual assault, people battling with addiction — I sometimes can’t shake it for weeks. It stays on my brain. Sometimes I’ll even avoid reading or watching something because I know it will affect me for longer than I would like.

And thank God Extreme Makover Home Edition isn’t on the air anymore. Husband really liked that show and for the last several years I’ve refused to watch it with him. Within two minutes of the show starting I can’t stop crying. It’s just too sad.

I’ve always been an emotional person. I have high highs and low lows. I get really excited about things. My friends tell me that I’m always the first person they call with exciting news because they know I’ll be so excited for them.

I also take some things to heart more than I should. Is it possible to have too much empathy? It’s something that I’ve managed better as I’ve gotten older.

In my life today, I think my biggest challenge is not getting too emotionally caught up in certain aspects of motherhood. What mother doesn’t always want to do the “best” or “right” thing for their kids? After reflection, I think my subconscious fear is that one “mistake” or one single decision is going to impact my kids’ lives forever. As if I only have one shot. As if the one day (or 20 days over the course of their childhood) that I go out of my mind with anger is going to be their only memory of their childhood.

Honestly, it’s not a real fear; it’s not something I think about on a daily basis. But I think my personality and temperament of:

a) wanting to control

b) wanting to do everything “right,” and

c) getting overly emotionally invested,

Sometimes leads to this “all or nothing” subconscious fear.

So anyway. Not only am I realizing that this isn’t realistic, I’m also realizing I need to cut myself a break. There needs to be more of a margin for error (for me and the kids). We are human, after all. People get mad. Sometimes really mad. It’s not the norm in my household. I feel terrible, I apologize to my kids and we move on.

I need to just let it go instead of hanging onto it and feeling terrible for days.

In my last post I wrote about how frustrated I was with Bean and her typical terrible two behavior.

I was venting, and over-the-top, and being dramatic, and not at all objective because I was getting out the culmination of all my pent-up frustration over the last several months. And we had had a rough morning.

(I also was trying to be funny with my quip about my mental image of her “running away” from bad things like drugs, peer pressure, etc., when she’s quite literally running away from me because she doesn’t want to do things. I think it’s kind of funny to see her naked butt in my head.)

It’s not that I don’t trust my gut, or trust my instincts, sometimes we just need to vent. And sometimes another perspective is helpful.

Sometimes when you’re in the thick of things you lose sight of the overall perspective. The “can’t see the forest through the trees,” sort of thing. Being an emotional person, this is the type of thing I struggle with when it comes to myself — I can console another mom (or person) all day long, but then I’m really hard on myself.

You would think that with Bean being my second child I would remember that these are phases, and they pass. They just really suck while in you’re in them.

After the last post I had two friends share this message with me (“I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child”) about raising spirited kids, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

In particular, this part:

“I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:

1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

You have no idea how much this meant to me: “I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today.” I felt like God was speaking directly to me.

It’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Oh, and one more thing. If you haven’t been introduced to Momastery yet, please, let me introduce you. Because I started reading Momastery in January, and once again, I felt like it was God (via Glennon) speaking directly to me.

All four of these posts came in a span of one week. Every single one of them spoke to me.

I. LOVE. HER.

The greatest thing that I took away from her addiction post was that when you don’t know what else to do, pray to God and alternate between “Thank you” and “Help me.”

I think everyone can use that advice.

Another thing that was exactly what I needed to hear.

This is What I’m Going With

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Lately, I feel like everything with Bean is an epic battle to the death. And obviously, there are no winners.

Here’s a typical scenario from our house in the last three weeks:

Morning

The mere mention of going to the bathroom and getting dressed sends Bean into a flailing tantrum complete with arm waving (and mostly unintentional) hitting, kicking, tears and screaming. We’re talking head thrown back, on the floor, ear-piercing screams.

Sometimes, she will willingly take off her clothes, but then when I suggest getting dressed, she just runs away. If I happen to grab her before she gets away from me (because I refuse to chase her), then the above tantrum ensues.

Bedtime

Most of the time Bean is all too happy to get into pajamas, but the tantrum inducer is when (gasp) her father, (God forbid) attempts to help her with getting ready for bed. Last night as I was brushing Monkey’s teeth and told Bean that daddy was going to help her, the above tantrum ensued. Same goes for helping her go to the bathroom, getting her pajamas on, washing her hands, you name it.

Mealtime

I made homemade waffles last weekend. They were dang delicious and so much easier than I remember. Especially now that my waffle iron is accessible and I learned not to overfill the darn thing. Bean loved them. But then she accidentally dropped one of her last two pieces on the floor. No biggie, right?

WRONG.

I picked it up and threw it away. Bad idea. Cue tantrum. Except a mealtime tantrum has the added bonus of Bean being strapped into a chair, thus able to fling her body back and forth and all around without falling out. It’s awesome.

I was stunned.

I explained to her that the waffle was dirty, but that it was okay because I would give her one of my waffle pieces.

Didn’t matter. She wasn’t hearing it. She wanted that dirty waffle piece back and there was nothing I could say or do to make her happy.

And generally, that’s how it goes.

The instant something happens that she doesn’t want (or the suggestion of something she doesn’t want to do), it’s the end. There’s zero ability to talk with her. There’s no communication. She just shuts down.

All of the wonderful parenting techniques that we employ with Monkey (all of the parenting articles I’ve been poring over), don’t really work.

  • It doesn’t matter if I give her choices. She just screams “NO!” back at me about everything.
  • It doesn’t matter if something is a rule (establishing rules and expectations so that I’m not the bad guy). “The rule is that when we get up in the morning, the first thing we do is go to the bathroom.” Or, “The rule is we brush our teeth in the morning and at night before bed.” We run through all the people who brush their teeth and go to the bathroom in the morning. Meh. Most times she could care less what the rule is.
  • Asking her if she wants to do something now or “in a minute” always gets the “in a minute” reply. But then when 5 minutes goes by and I tell her it’s time to do XYZ, generally we still get the tantrum or the running away, or the running away followed by the tantrum (like this morning).
  • We’ve been really trying to talk to the kids like we would talk to another adult. The example in an article I read was along the lines of, “If you saw an adult knock over their milk at McDonald’s you wouldn’t jump up and start berating them about how clumsy they were and how they should be more careful and then huff off to get some paper towels.” Not that we’ve ever done that; generally we’re pretty calm about those types of things. But, you get the point, which is, “Don’t treat someone poorly, or more importantly, force someone to do what you want, just because you’re bigger than them.” Because that sets up all sorts of problems that leaves kids vulnerable to sexual predators, peer pressure, etc. How-ev-er, like I told Husband, if he dropped his piece of waffle on the floor and I threw it away because it was dirty, he wouldn’t start flailing his arms, kicking his legs, throwing his head back and screaming. I’m pretty sure we’d just talk about it.

And that is my biggest frustration. There’s just no communication. No opportunity for any of the above. The only thing that somewhat works is empathetically saying how I think she feels. “I know you’re mad, honey. I know you want to keep playing. I’m sorry that we have to get ready for bed.” But even if she stops to listen to me, she still doesn’t then cooperate.

The only time she wants to do something is when she can possibly beat her sister to it. Which honestly is unfair to Monkey because then Monkey’s always second. Or, if Monkey beats Bean, Bean still cries and has a tantrum. Good grief. I’m exhausted just thinking of all the tantrums.

I feel beaten down. I feel like I’ve just had it. I am pulling out all the tricks and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.

I don’t yell much. We don’t spank. We do use time-outs, although this Aha Parenting Web site advocates for doing time-ins (sitting with your child) instead of time-outs (which apparently make them feel isolated and alone with their feelings). I tried that this morning with Bean when she wouldn’t cooperate about getting dressed. She just laid in her bed (naked) and yelled at me to get out. I stayed anyway. I have no idea if it helped.

Up to this point we’ve been trying to follow Love and Logic parenting techniques (I say “trying” because we like the philosophy but we don’t always execute) which focuses a lot on empathy and consequences (as well as choices, routines/rituals, etc.). However, Aha Parenting advocates for not issuing punishments or consequences (unless they’re “natural” and not “parent-imposed” consequences) because when kids are acting their worst, that’s when they need you to love them the most.

Aha Parenting argues that when kids are dwaddling and being slow getting ready for bed, the last thing they need is for you to yank away stories or cuddle time as a consequence. But when we’re running out of time to get Bean to bed (and we KNOW she’s probably acting out from being tired), it seems like a natural consequence that if you’re not cooperating and you’re making things take longer, that you don’t get stories. It’s not even really a punishment! It’s not like we’re saying “No stories because you’re being sassy or because you hit your sister.” It’s a natural consequence. We ran out of time. I feel conflicted about this whole “consequence/punishment” thing.

I don’t really yell much. BUT, when pushed, I do raise my voice (not to a yell, but it’s raised), I do get a mean look on my face, I do lose the ability to negotiate and communicate and just start barking orders. Basically, I get angry and frustrated. I also say things I shouldn’t; things that I try not to say. And then I find myself still saying them: “Why do you have to be so uncooperative?” “I am so sick of this.” I know this is bad because I’m sending her the message that she, as a person, is bad.

Day after day, night after night, these are my interactions with my child. She knows that I’m frustrated. One of the things I remember from the Love & Logic CDs is that if you send your child the message that you can’t handle them, they’ll think, “Geez, I must really be bad if even my own parents can’t handle me,” and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The kid acts worse and worse, and the parent is less and less able to get a handle on the situation. I’m afraid that’s going to happen.

I also feel like the frequency of these occurrences makes it more and more difficult for me to remain calm when they happen. I’m immediately on edge because I feel like I already know the outcome (major tantrum), and no amount of choices, or empathy, or quietly speaking to her, or whatever is going to help.

I feel like a failure. Not just because she’s not listening and cooperating. But because there’s no room for any negotiation, communication, education, discussion. Period.

Aha Parenting says “Kids who feel connected to their parents naturally want to please them,” and that:

Defiance is always a relationship problem. If your child does not accept your direction (“I don’t care what you say, you can’t make me!”), it’s always an indication that the relationship is not strong enough to support the teaching. This happens to all of us from time to time. At that point, stop and think about how to strengthen the relationship, not how to make the child “mind.” Turning the situation into a power struggle will just deepen the rift between you.”

Since I seem to be engaged in a non-stop power struggle (epic battle to the death), obviously I’m not connected. Failure.

My child does not feel connected to me, she will think that I think she’s a whole lot of trouble and that she can’t be contained, therefore she will become increasingly troublesome, and basically I just ruined her chance at becoming a successful person, not to mention we don’t have a relationship.

I know this is extreme, but it’s my fear.

I am not used to this. I am not accustomed to encountering a problem that I can’t solve, even with repeated effort. Am I not trying hard enough?

Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

I will also add that I think she’s definitely not getting enough sleep.

After getting through the difficulty of her wanting us to be in the room while she fell asleep and waking excessively at night (2-5 times every night), we’re now dealing with her early rising. She goes to bed beautifully now, but instead of sleeping until 7 a.m. like normal, her waking has gotten earlier and earlier. First it was 6:45 a.m. Then it was 6:30 a.m. The past two weeks it’s been 6 or 6:15. And today it was 5 freaking 40 A.M.!

She’s also started taking shorter naps. At least I feel like that’s more normal for her age — she just turned two, so I can’t really expect her to continue taking 2+ hour naps. An hour and a half is more in line, but sometimes it’s only an hour and 15 minutes, or like yesterday — 45 minutes! Between early waking and shortened naps, she is just not getting enough sleep.

And thirdly, her picky eating is at an all-time high. We trying our best to follow the advice of our pediatrician who tells us every time I express concern over her picky eating, “Your job is to prepare and serve healthy food. Her job is to eat it. If you start bribing, rewarding, coaxing or cajoling, you’re not doing your job.”

So, for the most part, we serve the food. Sometimes we’ll ask her to try one bite (she always refuses). But do you know how hard it is to serve your child a meal that has all the components of something they would like (or have eaten before) and have them push it away on sight, screaming and crying??? Or just start picking things off the plate saying “Yucky?” (Yes, I’m sure you do, because you’re probably a parent reading this). UUUUUGGGGGHHHH.

I bet Bean is down to a list of 20 things that she’ll readily and gladly eat, not including dessert, and only two of them belong to the fruit/vegetable category.

Since we don’t make separate meals, and since we nearly always give dessert (so as not to set up a good food/bad food paradigm), Elise gets a lot of yogurt for “dessert.”

Do all of these things mean anything together (lots of tantrums, not getting enough sleep and picky eating)? Am I missing something?

I have been praying. Praying that God will guide me, help me, direct me to the resources I need. I pray that he will let Bean see how much we love her and that he will open her heart to listen to us.

Believe me, I DO NOT want to crush Bean’s spirit. I do not want her to grow up believing that people who are bigger than her get to tell her what to do.

I get it that it’s a good thing that she isn’t going to do what she doesn’t want to do, just because someone else says so. I know that research shows that she will be “almost impervious to peer pressure.”

But in the meantime, I don’t know what else to do.

Aside from reading parenting articles, pouring out my feelings on this blog, asking for help, and praying, the only thing I can think to do is this:

Every time I see her naked butt running away from me I’m going to think, “She’s running away from drugs,” or “She’s running away from a stranger trying to harm her.”

Every time I see her flat-out refusing to do what I ask, I’m going to think, “She’s saying no to underage drinking,” or, “She’s saying no to teenage sex.”

At least that’s what I’m going with now.

But I’ll repeat my plea: Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

Belated

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It’s almost two weeks late, but I didn’t want to let my Bean’s second birthday go by unmarked.

She is such an interesting child. She is so determined. I think her biggest daily goal is to keep up with her big sister, and it doesn’t EVER occur to her that she won’t be able to do something that her big sister can do.

Whatever Monkey does, Bean does. When Monkey runs, Bean runs. When Monkey jumps, Bean jumps. When Monkey climbs, Bean climbs. When Monkey screams, Bean screams. One time Monkey jumped up in the air and Bean mimicked her so instantaneously that I couldn’t help but laugh.

A few weeks ago we went to a local indoor activity gym with a giant climbing obstacle. Bean ran right in there after Monkey and Monkey’s friend, and managed to climb up the first few obstacles by herself. Eventually the spaces between the levels got a little too tall for her legs and she cried while I looked on from the floor level. She wasn’t crying because she was scared though. She was crying because she was mad. Monkey had gotten so far ahead of her and she couldn’t keep up.

Monkey, bless her heart, came back and gave Bean a boost at each next level.

The girl has no fear.

This past weekend we went to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, which has a gigantic indoor water park. In the center of the park, was an expansive multi-level kids play area with slides as tall as 20 feet.

This is what it looked like.

Kalahari's Leopard's Lair. Bean scrambled to the top of this gigantic kids play area to go down those green and yellow slides you see on the left. (Copyright: Kalahari Resort)

We no more than walked over to it, and Bean was already making her way to the top. The very top. Like, I was literally running through this thing to keep up with her. She got all the way to the top, pushed past the line of 5-, 6, and 7-year-old kids waiting for the tallest slides, and stood expectantly in front of the lifeguard who nodded at her and motioned her over towards the yellow slide to which she casually walked over, sat down, and went. I got there just in time to see the lifeguard nodding at her (did he not see her push past all the other kids waiting in line??), and incredulously watched her go down like she had done it a hundred times instead of her first. I frantically started waving to Husband who was 20 feet below that she was on her way down. The pool at the bottom of the slide was only six inches deep, and the slides were okay for kids as young as her, but still! She just took off and didn’t wait for anyone’s approval or permission.

A little too brave for her own good, if you ask me.

She also followed her sister up this rope wall without any hesitation, and mastered it after the second attempt.

This is the rope net that Bean tackled as soon as Monkey approached it. (Copyright Kalahari Resort)

I think her favorite word is “Me!” As in, whatever Monkey says she wants to do, or we tell Monkey she can do, Bean is right there to echo “ME!” because she wants in too.

I think Bean will be the type of child who constantly is emulating her big sister. And given that Monkey is a natural leader, I think it will be a good thing. I feel very blessed that their “short” age gap (just under two years) has led them to be the best of friends. They’re always looking out for one another.

Bean remains loving and empathetic as she tends to her babies, and while she can be very cuddly and clingy, she won’t give up kisses and hugs when she’s in a stingy mood.

She has more interest in reading books (by herself), and still wants to color and draw like her big sister.

She’s never been a real big “entertainer,” like her sister, but we do notice her laughing and trying to make us laugh more often. I know that sounds weird, but she was never that baby who would just laugh and laugh at your silly antics. It was only six months ago that this was still her face du jour:

This was Bean's emotion du jour for the longest time - the pout; aka stink face

And she continues to challenge us in ways different from her sister. After reflecting for awhile, I think that Bean is more strong-willed than Monkey, but Monkey was no cake walk either. Monkey was the child who, when transitioned to a big girl bed, was an ABSOLUTE TERROR. Ev-er-y single night she would rip ALL of her clothes out of her drawers, scatter her books all over the room, and tear the diapers out of the box in her closet. Every night. FOR MONTHS. Bean has not done that even one single time. She mostly stays in her bed and the “worst” she’s done is gotten out of bed to read books.

Bean seems to have more of a desire to control things, have things her way, and is less willing to listen and cooperate than Monkey was at the same age. Maybe this is because she’s the second child and is constantly “keeping up” with her sister, rather than getting to choose things for herself. Maybe she wants to leave her own mark. She also seems to want to experiment with pushing the boundaries more than I recall Monkey doing. Latest case: after being potty trained for a month, she’s majorly regressed. After ruling out a bladder infection and constipation, her pediatrician and I think it boils down to peeing in her pants because she can. Because she wants to gauge our reaction. She wants control. I find it highly unlikely that she forgot her body’s cues because she still proactively asks to go to the bathroom for No. 2 and hasn’t had any poop accidents.

I have to say, that I may be putting on my rose-colored glasses when reminiscing about Monkey’s Terrible Twos. I mean, at the time I certainly remember thinking she was *extremely* challenging. I wonder now if I’m forgetting some of the most challenging parts, or if Bean really is more challenging; or, like I said, that they’re just challenging in different ways. 

I’m hopeful that as her vocabulary is starting to expand, she’ll be more apt to communicate with us so we can reach compromises, rather than just throw fits and/or run away when we want her to do something.

One thing I know for sure — she is one smart kid.

Her pediatrician just reminded us this week that the traits we find most challenging — her stubbornness and desire to control, will translate into really good things later on. She definitely has a strong sense of self.

Finally, here’s a fun little thing I saw on Pinterest that I thought would be fun to do with the girls every year on their birthdays. Technically, you’re supposed to start when they turn 3, so Bean is a little young for this, but here goes:

20 Questions with Bean — Age 2

1. What is your favorite color? Pink

2. What is your favorite toy? Baby doll

3. What is your favorite fruit? Um. Nothing. The kid doesn’t eat fruit. She eats vegetables. Preferably green beans

4. What is your favorite TV show? Sesame Street

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac and cheese

6. What is your favorite outfit? Nothing in particular, except she has to pick it out

7. What is your favorite game? Trouble (because she likes to push the bubble)

8. What is your favorite snack? Cheese, Goldfish crackers, pretzels

9. What is your favorite animal? Dogs

10. What is your favorite song? Mr. Bassman (Laurie Berkner)

11. What is your favorite book? Duck and Goose: How are you feeling? (she loves to make the “angry” and “happy” faces)

12. Who is your best friend? Monkey

13. What is your favorite cereal? None

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Climb, swing, slide (but without getting her hands dirty)

15. What is your favorite drink? Milk

16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas?

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Blanket, lovey and Curious George

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Eggs

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Mac and cheese and green beans

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? TBD

A Different Kind of Terrible

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I started this post over two months ago and I never finished it. Initially I entitled it “Way More Terrible.” And it’s about Bean. And her terribleness compared to Monkey’s. But rather than being way more terrible than Monkey’s foray into the terrible two’s, I’ve realized that she’s already mellowed some after only two months, and that she’s really not way more terrible. She’s just different.

Monkey is high energy. I can handle high energy. I can do high energy all night long standing on my head. I rock high energy.

When Monkey was in her “terrible twos” I remember thinking she was pretty terrible.

In retrospect, she wasn’t that bad.

Because Bean is high energy. Bean is busy, busy, busy, combined with extreme willfulness and independence. Emphasis on extreme.

She’s just not easily distracted. She is unusually focused and determined. And we could see that about her even when she was a little baby.

As an infant she could be very difficult to console. While it took awhile for her to get worked up, when she did, she was MAD. She was just very intent on being really p*ssed off!

I distinctly remember being totally bewildered during these intense crying fits as she continued to scream her head off even after I picked her up, shushed her, swaddled her, bounced her and showed her a stunning and magical array of blue elephants. Finally, I would be like, “Dude, I’M HOLDING YOU. Do you SEE ME, holding YOU?” Which didn’t work either.

Honestly, she’s been like this since the SECOND she was born. Literally. She was born, she screamed, I got to hold her for a minute during which time she was stunned into silence … and then commenced screaming again. And then the nurse took her to clean her off and she SCREAMED the entire time. I think it took that nurse like 20 minutes to do the APGAR, handprint and footprint her, and then even after I got her back, she continued to cry and cry. Major. Stress Hormones.

So yeah. The whole introduce a new toy to distract her from the toy you just took away? Didn’t really work for her. Needless to say, the whole introduce a new activity to distract her from the activity you don’t want her doing works equally well. That sofa she’s bouncing on? That chair she’s climbing? You’re gonna have to physically remove her from the room and lock her up somewhere. Because when you ask her nicely to stop what she’s doing, she looks at you and nicely responds back, “No.”

And that very specific toy that she’s looking for? Well another pink plastic toy pacifier will just not work. She doesn’t want the HARD PLASTIC one, she wants the SOFT PLASTIC one. WHY DO YOU KEEP SHOVING THIS CLEARLY INFERIOR HARD PLASTIC TOY PACIFIER IN MY FACE? Excuse me while I lay crumpled and sobbing on the floor.

I’ve learned that I just need to let her go. When she’s reached that point I don’t try to console her because the more I try to talk to her, the more angry she gets. She’ll just continue shouting “NO!” at the top of her lungs. If I try to empathize with her? Forget it. If I offer her a hug when she’s angry? She doesn’t want any of that either. She’d rather turn her back than look at you.

Monkey in general was (and still is) more amenable to compromises, and hugs and empathy. And reason.

She is doing less hitting and throwing when she’s angry. I think timeouts and ignoring her has really helped. Thank God too, because it’s the awesomiest thing when we’re in a public place and she starts hitting you.

Her ability to listen and follow directions is still up for debate. Some days she’s great. Other days? Not. At. All. Sometimes I feel like trying not to tell her what to do because I know she’ll just do the opposite of what I want.

And when we try to pick her up and make her do what we tell her to do — like don’t run away from me during Monkey’s school performance, don’t run away from me in the library, don’t run away from me down the hall —  she usually cycles her legs and flails her arms all around in an effort to get us to put her down.

Maybe I should just let go. 😉

That “Okay we’re leaving now,” trick where you walk out the door and leave her? Yeah, that totally doesn’t work with her. She’s completely unphased.

Two weeks ago she didn’t want to leave the neighbor’s house so Husband, Monkey and I walked out the door and stood there watching her through the window as she continued to play. She didn’t even look around for us after we left. After a Christmas parade last weekend we started walking away from her on the sidewalk and she just turned around and walked the other way. And when we were leaving my cousin’s in-laws’ house (people Bean literally sees 2-3 times/year) we said, “Okay, we’re leaving now. Are you staying here?” And she said, “Uh huh,” and started unzipping her coat.

Little sh*t.

Monkey definitely seemed to listen more. And that leaving trick TOTALLY worked with her. Hysterical sobbing usually would ensue with Monkey. Monkey’s still shy and Bean generally is not.

Monkey also is more prone to emotional outbursts. She’s a more emotional person. So while we had more frequent, but shorter tantrums with Monkey, we have fewer, but longer ones with Bean. Not necessarily more terrible. Just different.

I think the first four months of Bean’s life were so peaceful and easy because God knew how terrified I was about having a Toddler Tornado and a newborn.

Guess we were in for a surprise. I can’t wait to see how these traits manifest themselves in future years.

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We survived the drive to and from Michigan! Although, if you recall, we were planning to leave around 3 a.m. to reduce the amount of “awake” driving time. Er, except it didn’t work out that way. At all. They didn’t sleep. Nope. Just Chatty Cathy back there and her Alert Sister. We hadn’t even considered the possibility that they wouldn’t fall back to sleep. It hadn’t even entered our minds. My chief concern was how late they would sleep given that the sun rises at 6 a.m., not that they wouldn’t sleep at all. Bean fell asleep for exactly 50 minutes, after 6.5 hours of driving, and Monkey fell asleep for 40 minutes, after driving for 7.5 hours. Oh, and P.S. They didn’t really sleep on the way home either (see below).

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The wedding itself was lovely. Monkey was a fabuloso flower girl. She didn’t get scared or freaked out at all. I’m so glad that she got to have that experience and I hope she remembers it even when she’s older. I have to admit though, it was difficult trying to juggle the two of them between nail and hair appointments (me), golf (Eric), the ceremony (with all of us standing up except Bean who clawed her way out of my mom’s arms and made a beeline for Husband), and the dinner. By the time we got to dinner Bean was D-O-N-E and her non-stop shrieking, screaming and crying during the best man and maid of honor toasts made that abundantly clear to the entire room.

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I guess the only real driving hiccup we had was when we were only 25 minutes from home. Bean had fallen asleep after we left Green Bay where we stopped for dinner, but then she woke up when we had to make a pit stop in Oshkosh for Monkey to pee. Bean wasn’t happy about waking up, and continued to be unhappy and inconsolable. You could say that she was MORE THAN BEYOND D-O-N-E and we had to stop in Fond du Lac and take her out of the car because she was crying so hard that she made herself throw up. When we pulled into the gas station in Fond du Lac we happened to park next to a mom nursing her baby in the backseat of her car. You could say that she was empathizing with us as Husband started ripping things out of the back of the van so that he could put one of the seats up and entertain Bean for the remainder of the drive.

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When we returned from our trip to Michigan the roof hadn’t been touched since we left and the concrete patio also was not completed. Too-hot weather while we were gone meant that the concrete would set up too fast, and then rain interfered the following week and the pour had to be postponed. Other work obligations prevented our professional roofer from doing anything with our roof while we were gone, and after we got back. It took another whole week and a lot of tense moments before the projects were completed. Finally, three weeks after we started, everything was done.

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So, if you recall, I said that Bean being in her Terrible Twos wasn’t that bad because I had experienced it before. Pfffffffffft. I was either on a trip-packing high, or just plain high. On a good day I say she’s “independent,” “determined,” “focused.” On a bad day I say she’s a PITA who’s stubborn, won’t listen, and throws a kicking, screaming fit when I try to help her with things. She would rather throw herself in a corner and refuse to look at me than let me help her with that disaster-waiting-to-happen Gogurt. Baaaah.

Honestly, I thought Monkey was going to be my difficult child, because she exhibits/exhibited all the same traits, but Bean takes it to the next level. She kicks, throws her arms, throws herself down, hides her face, and flat-out ignores us. Her favorite game is when we say “STOP” and she just laughs and runs faster — around the house, into the road, and circling parked cars at the State Fair parking lot.

Her favorite word is “MINE” which she shouts while standing in the middle of the room clutching something that no one else is even trying to get. Which leads to her volume. Good God, is she loud. I think she is quite literally THE LOUDEST child I’ve ever encountered. She’s loud even in situations where it’s not warranted — like, when we’re sitting right next to her and totally paying attention to her. And she cannot be persuaded to be quieter. In fact, I think asking her to be quiet only invigorates her loudness.

Oh, and I can’t forget the throwing. When she’s mad? She throws stuff. Or knocks it over. Or both.

The cherry on top? She’s a hitter. We have no idea where she gets this from because we don’t hit and Monkey never hit.

Bean, this is Mr. Timeout. Mr. Timeout, meet Bean.

When describing this egregious behavior to the girls’ beloved pediatrician, she gave me a little wink and said “It’s good that you’re going through this so the next time you see a child hitting you don’t smugly think, ‘Look at those terrible parents.’”

And that is exactly what I’d like to say to the friends we ran into at the ball park after Bean very purposefully poured her open cup of water down my chest and then proceeded to hit me. DON’T JUDGE ME.

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Oh, and the pediatrician said that we can expect biting next.

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So one of Monkey’s latest things is to tell poop jokes. Basically the “joke” is a bunch of nonsensical words all jumbled together along with the word “poop,” followed by her laughing hysterically at herself. I don’t really know where she gets this from (although she has been spending a lot of time with her older cousins lately). Then today she wanted me to sing a silly song using the words “private area.” I’m sure this is going to go over GREAT when she starts pre-school in three weeks.

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We Should TOTALLY Clean out the Basement Too!

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There has been no quiet space in my brain lately. No calm that has allowed me to form coherent thoughts that translate into written words. And while I know that my two blog readers find it unacceptable that I haven’t posted in FIVE WEEKS, the fact that “blog” has been written on my To Do list for five weeks is more bothersome to me.

I hate leaving things left undone. Yuck.

So let’s recap, shall we?

Summerin’:

We have been doing a lot of it. There has been:

  • LOTS of SWIMMING (Yay! My favorite)
  • LOTS of ICE CREAM (Wait, this is really my favorite)
  • Trips to the campground (FOR SWIMMING! AND ICE CREAM!!)
  • Playgrounds
  • Picnics
  • Bonfires
  • The Fourth of July holiday (which included all of the above, PLUS fireworks AND a parade!)
  • Zoo trips
  • Cars 2
  • Visits with family members who live out of town
  • Town picnics (and MORE parade!)
  • Weddings
  • OMG

Sprinkler! Next best thing to swimming!

Frog catching while swimming!

Feeding goats at the zoo!

Picnic!

Sparkler!

S'mores! (and a little sibling annoyance)

Then add Bean at 17 months in her full glory of Terrible Two-ness (it started around the same time with Monkey; honestly it’s not as bad this time around because I’ve experienced it before, but it still snuck up on me), and we’re getting Monkey ready for preschool in ONE WEEK AND ONE MONTH. More on these milestones to come later.

And work has been VERY busy (yay!)”

Oh, and we can’t forget that we’re reroofing our house and installing a new concrete patio. In 95-degree-heat-with-100%-humidity weather. We sure can pick ‘em, can’t we?

And duh, we’re planning and packing for our trip to Michigan for my brother’s wedding and we leave TOMORROW. Well, tomorrow at 3 a.m., so it’s really like tonight. I say “tonight,” but my husband gets all technical and says that since it’s after midnight it’s “tomorrow,” but whatever, when it’s still dark out I say “tonight.” Got it?

We should totally clean out the basement while we’re at it!!

We hired a professional roofer to do our roof as a side job on weeknights and weekends. Husband has been helping out to try to speed things along. They started last week with Husband coming home after working 12-hour days to rip shingles off the roof. The first day I saw them do this I thought it didn’t look so hard. Now I understand why my dad said in no uncertain terms, “PAY THEM WHATEVER THEY WANT TO RIP OFF.” He really said that. In all caps. But, we wanted to save money. A lot of money. Because guess what the hardest part of roofing is? RIPPING OFF. After a couple of nights and five hours on Saturday, they had the back half of the roof done.

This week, with Husband having off of work for our trip to Michigan, we had the brilliant idea of ALSO starting our new patio project. Because it’s husband’s birthday next week and we always have a big birthday bonfire, and Husband said, “We’re not having the bonfire until the patio is done.” And since I’m never one to spit in the eye of motivation, I said, “Git-R-Done.”

So naturally, we started this week. In 95-degree-heat-with-100%-humidity weather.

We’ve hired someone to do the patio as well. And this should require far less work on behalf of my husband — except, he’s had to do a fair amount of prep work, including ripping out our existing, rotting wooden deck (two days, one electric screw driver, one chainsaw and three reciprocating saws later), and getting his dad’s skid loader to our house to break up and remove the existing concrete pad that bookends an expanse of weeds (This used to be a lovely flower garden when we moved in four years ago. But four years, two kids, and the fact that there are 95 flower gardens in our yard means I don’t have time for that $hit).

Can you believe this $hit? This used to be a garden.

Rip off more shingles!

Don’t forget to change the oil in the van for our drive to Michigan!

And get a haircut!

What day is it?

WHEEEEE! ISN’T THIS FUN!

Things we currently have in our yard:

  • One giant green dumpster
  • Two expansive piles of broken concrete
  • One trailer (to “catch” the shingles)
  • One skid loader

Since we’re the first house in the subdivision, the neighbors are driving by verrrry slowly.

We are hoping to come home on Sunday night to a completed roof and patio. Cross your fingers.

Bring on the weed killer. This "garden" is in between a wooden deck and old concrete patio. We're going to put in a new concrete patio that runs the entire length of the old deck, "garden" and old concrete pad.

The old wooden deck.

After much aggravation, no more wood.

Part one of two concrete piles.

One half of the old concrete pad removed.

Oh yeah, we're roofing too.

Husband's makeshift slide so the old shingles land in the trailer and not the flower bed.

About that trip.

The last time we took a family vacation it involved a two-year-old Monkey, a four-month-old Bean, a 3.5-hour drive to Door County and Mirena-induced rage. Let’s just say it didn’t work out so well. The trip or Mirena.

I’m not really sure what to expect this time. The drive is 8 hours, without stops. We wanted to limit the amount of awake time in the car (the kids, not ours), while also avoiding Upper Michigan at night since Husband says there are too many deer; hence the 3 a.m. leave time.

Obviously, I’m not really expecting a fun drive. Normally we don’t let the kids watch much TV, but for the sake of saving our sanity, we’re borrowing a dual screen portable DVD player and we packed about 8 DVDS. I know I’m gonna fall in love with this thing and never want to part with it.

In addition to 16 hours of movies, we’ve also armed ourselves with:

  • 6 audiobooks
  • Notebooks, coloring books and crayons
  • 25 books
  • A Mobigo handheld game device (I can’t believe I’m letting Monkey have this either — HELLO screen time. But really, the whole handheld game thing is inevitable)
  • Baby dolls and other toys

OMG. I just realized that I need to add ear plugs to my packing list. I can’t believe I almost forgot that.

I’ve been trying to find some fun things that we can do along the way on Thursday during the day (we can’t check in until 6 p.m.), but I’m not having much luck. The recommendations other people have given me unfortunately are very far off our route. So as of right now, leaving in 23 hours, we’ll be doing what I don’t customarily do — winging it. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for state and national parks with beaches. We’ll see how that goes.

And then there’s the whole matter of the actual wedding festivities and juggling the kids between spa services, golfing, hair appointments, late dinners, etc. Husband, Monkey and I are all standing up and I am REALLY hoping that Monkey pulls off her flower girl duties flawlessly. We have been practicing at home so as to avoid the infamous flower girl freeze. I think we’ll have a pretty good read for how she’ll do at the rehearsal. Managing her expectations is very important (I don’t know where she gets that from).

If I learned anything from our experience last year, it’s that putting over-tired, over-stimulated kids out of their routine in an unfamiliar environment can turn them into demons.

I am planning to bribe them with food whenever possible.

We are packing:

  • Teddy Grahams (first-time purchase)
  • Carousel Cookies (first-time purchase)
  • Cheetos
  • Chex Mix
  • M&Ms
  • Pretzels

If I could pack ice cream and a pony, I would.

So. I think that about sums it up.

Good thing it’s 4 a.m. I am SO gonna be ready to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Er, today. Whatever. (I have been getting entirely too much sleep lately anyway. It’s high time we change that.)

Feel free to throw me any suggestions you have for long, happy car rides, charming wedding behavior, or preventing meltdowns due to lack of sleep and unfamiliar surroundings! Bribe suggestions welcome! (They won’t honestly believe me when I promise a puppy, right?)