Tag Archives: testing the boundaries

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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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.

O-M-G

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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.

O-M-G

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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

(JAW DROPPING) O-M-G

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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.

O-M-G

From Expletive to Superlative

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My life changed on July 29, 2010.

Oh, YES IT DID.

No, I didn’t have a baby. I didn’t get married. I didn’t buy a new home.

It was the day the My Tot Clock arrived.

You may be familiar with my older child’s unrelenting propensity to delay going to bed. Especially if you’re my friend on Facebook. Often, my 8 p.m. status updates consisted of the following:

(July 25, 2010) Monkey (after tucking her into bed): “Mama, I have to go poopy.” Me: “Sorry, it’s too late. We already went to the bathroom.” Monkey: “Come ON mama.”

(July 19, 2010) I had to upload pics of my kids to remind myself how much I love them, since bedtime tonight was a total PITA.

(July 11, 2010) Me to Monkey: “Why are you crying?” (as she’s been crying before bed again for the past couple of nights for no reason). Monkey: “Because I’m tired.” Me: Well then why don’t you go to sleep?” Monkey (pausing to think): “I DON’T know!?” (throwing her arms up for emphasis and sighing)

(June 21, 2010) I give up.

(June 10, 2010) Me: Monkey, lay down. C: Are you happy? Me: I’ll be happy when you go to sleep. C: Are you happy right now? Me: Yes. C: Are you making cookies? Me: No, I’m not making cookies. C: Are you making scotcheroos? Me: (laughing hard). C: (laughing harder). Me: No! (?? wondering why she thinks this). C: Are you making scotcheroos (asking over and over again and then laughing b/c it made me laugh). Me: No! C: Yes you are!

(June 7, 2010) I am so sick of being the sleep police. So d#mn sick of it. Worst part about parenting.

And there were many nights where I was tempted to write this: GO TO SLEEP. GO TO SLEEP! GO TO SLEEP!!! WHY WON’T YOU BE QUIET AND GO TO F-ING SLEEP!????

Okay, let’s be honest. I did write that one or five times.

But have you noticed that I haven’t been b*tching about bedtime on facebook? ISN’T YOUR LIFE BETTER? You can thank My Tot Clock.

Basically, My Tot Clock changes colors to teach little kids when to sleep (blue light) and when it’s okay to be awake (yellow light). It also (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT DOES MORE??), play a bedtime story, lullabies, white noise and fun wake-up music. And, (YOU MEAN IT DOES EVEN MORE??) there’s a red light for timeouts and a green light for “encouragement” time, like picking up toys, etc.

I waited a month and a half before writing this post to be absolutely (see, already a superlative) sure that this product was the magical wonder product it was. Oh yes. I am going to UNLEASH some superlatives on you.

So let’s recap, shall we? BEFORE My Tot Clock, Monkey did all of these things:

  • Take all of her socks out of her drawer and put them in her bed (FOR WEEKS)
  • Take all of her clothes out of her drawers and throw them around the room
  • Take the drawers out of the chest itself (which resulted in us using child locks to close them)
  • Take all of the books out of her basket and throw them around the room (which resulted in us removing all the books from her room)
  • Throw all her stuffed animals over her gate, after which I refused to return them and she had a meltdown (which resulted in her never doing that again)
  • Rip all the diapers out of the diaper box in her closet and try to diaper her baby (which resulted in us  not leaving anything on her closet floor)
  • Open her shades (which resulted in us having a mental breakdown)
  • Turn her noise machine up really, really loud, over and over again, which over a baby monitor makes your head feel like it’s going to pop off (see mental breakdown)
  • Turn her light on
  • Take her diaper off
  • Take her clothes off (see “Just Plain Odd”)

Oh, and this was all after we got a new gate because she climbed over the original gate.

After she was potty trained she would use her words to get out of going to bed. A lot of “I need help,” “I need a hug again,” “POTTY, POTTY, POTTY, POTTY!”

Ad nauseum. Ugh. It makes me exhausted just looking at this. I don’t know if she’s just that stubborn, or just that smart.

Okay, so wait — let me just give you a rundown of all the positive reinforcement things we tried to encourage her to go to bed:

  • Having a rock solid, consistent bedtime routine, and the same bedtime every night.
  • Allowing for extra time in the routine so that we’re relaxed and happy. Giving ourselves an hour to go potty, do a bath, get pajamas on, teeth brushed, take vitamins, go potty again, read stories, say a prayer, tell a made-up story about a butterfly with her name.
  • Sticker chart.
  • Two “get out of bed free” tickets” — if she didn’t have any tickets left in the morning she didn’t get a sticker.
  • A bedtime routine chart with photos of her in the various stages of going to bed.
  • Practicing deep breathing to help calm down, and visual, relaxing imagery (the butterfly from the made-up story).

OH MY GOD, right!?? RIGHT!?

Seriously. Knowing that putting your kid to bed at 7:45 p.m. actually means that you can’t do anything else for at least 30 minutes because you’re running down to her room 55 times, is SO frustrating. And ridiculous. Let’s be clear. She was manipulating us, plain and simple.

I even emailed my sleep idol, Elizabeth Pantley on July 20 to see if she had any other ideas because I felt I had exhausted all of my resources from her and was feeling like this was more of a control issue than a sleep issue. OBVIOUSLY! And Elizabeth was lovely and emailed me back a couple of days later with a long list of suggestions from her No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers book, most of which I had tried. Her top suggestion was to start doing sleep logs again to see what her pattern of sleep was like. So I resigned myself to the sleep logs.

And then. THEN. I got an email from My Tot Clock saying that they FINALLY had some clocks in stock and that I could place my order.

My cousin introduced me to the My Tot Clock back in May when I was bemoaning the difficulties we were having getting Monkey to go to bed. She got it for her three-year-old because he was an early riser. I was skeptical though. We had opposite problems, plus her son has a completely different personality from Monkey — he’s laid back and easy going. And the price! This thing is $50! I asked her if it was really worth $50. Her exact response — “I would pay $50 annually if I had to. That’s how worth it it is for me.”

So I figured I would give it a shot. Except, EXCEPT. IT WASN’T AVAILABLE! Arrgh!

People. I had waited more than THREE MONTHS to order My Tot Clock because they just didn’t have any. They were out and waiting for a new shipment. I waited MORE THAN 90 BEDTIMES.

So you can imagine my extreme excitement when I not only was able to order the darn thing (they gave me a 20% discount for having to wait for it, which made the cost a tolerable $40), but when it was about to be delivered to my house.

Witness the email exchange with my cousin on the morning of July 29:

Me: MY TOT CLOCK HAS SHIPPED!!!! I never thought I would be so excited about something so silly!!! It also says that it was processed in Oak Creek yesterday and is in transit to the destination (via USPS). So if I don’t have it today, probably tomorrow!!

Cousin: You crack me up. I hope you love it!

(two hours later)

Me: OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG. IT’S HERE. MAILMAN’S IN MY DRIVEWAY. OMG.

Cousin: You CRACK me up!

I was like a six-year-old on Christmas morning with Santa Claus and his freaking reindeer in my freaking driveway RINGING MY FREAKING DOORBELL TO HAND DELIEVER THE MOST FREAKING UNBELIEVABLE, marvelous, SUPERBLY WONDERFUL, incredible, astonishing, AMAZING, mind-boggling, extraordinary, mind-blowing, MIRACLE GIFT EVER.

And then I started thinking. Why did I think this thing would miraculously change our bedtime routine? Then I realized my expectations were probably too high (I have a little problem with that). OH, BUT THEY WEREN’T.

No sh*t. I’m not even kidding you. Because this product has completely changed my life.

That very night we set it up and showed Monkey what the colors meant. It was so simple. All we told her was that blue meant it was time to go to sleep and yellow meant it was okay to be awake. And she got it. Immediately.

AND? It worked. Just. Like. That. Totally and completely. We read books, the blue light came on (you set it for a certain time), we gave hugs, a drink of water, tucked her in and didn’t hear a peep. She just … went to sleep.

We waited. Waited for the crying, the calling, the yelling. But nothing. Nada. Not a word.

And then I did cartwheels and back handsprings around the house, and ran around my block naked. Okay not really. I’ve never been able to do a back handspring. But I was truly astounded. Could it be? Could it be that I really had my evening time back? That it was no longer being hijacked by a 33-pound terrorist?

Oh, yes it did.

But I was nervous that it was just a fluke. That the novelty would wear off. So I waited to extol the virtues of this product until I knew for certain that it really, really, really was working.

AND OH MY GOD, I am so happy to report that IT IS NOT A FLUKE!

We’ve had night after night after night of successful bedtimes. Don’t get me wrong — there have been a handful of nights in 6 weeks that we’ve had to go back down to her room for one reason or another. But those nights are very rare and don’t result in a prolonged bedtime battle.

While we are still maintaining a rock solid bedtime routine, the My Tot Clock has even worked on those “special” nights where we’re doing something out of the ordinary, like going camping. Oh, and did I mention that you can use My Tot Clock for naps? Monkey’s napping was getting inconsistent and short prior to My Tot Clock’s arrival. But even napping has improved tremendously. Occasionally the naps are only an hour, but she’s not fighting them like she was.

I think the reason the My Tot Clock concept works is because the kids can think for themselves — they see the color, and they know what it means. It’s not me, or any adult, telling the child over and over again what to do — in my case, go to bed. It’s very cut and dried. There’s no middle ground, and there’s no testing to see if the parents really mean it. Blue means it’s time to go to sleep. Yellow means it’s okay to be awake. The end.

I also think that the story and music feature might encourage Monkey to just relax and lie still. She’s like me, she has a hard time shutting her brain off. So now, instead of bedtime being “the time during which I continue my day by playing in the dark,” it’s become a time where she allows herself to unwind by listening to the story, and then she’s relaxed enough to fall asleep.

But those are just my theories about why this thing works. I don’t really care if it actually emitted sleeping gas and that’s why she’s going to bed. I just care that she’s going to sleep!

Bedtime is no longer a time of day that I dread. I am no longer exhausted by the mere thought of it. Now it’s a happy time, full of snuggles and kisses and enjoyable book reading. It’s no longer an endless and futile process that results in me b*tching on facebook and wanting to stab my eyes out.

Thank you My Tot Clock for saving my life. And my child’s. 😉

Oh, and the best part for you?? I just got an email from My Tot Clock offering a 20% discount on the clock and all accessories through September 30, 2010 by using promo code MTCBIS220. It said to feel free to share the code with family and friends, so that’s what I’m doing! I’m actually planning to order another clock for Bean (in the event, God forbid, that they run out again when I actually need it), and a few additional story cartridges.

(And In case you’re wondering, My Tot Clock does not know that I’m writing this blog. This is my completely unbiased opinion and they are in no way compensating me for this.)

Wait! One last thing. Does this post ever end??? If you decide to get the clock, don’t let the kids see what you’re doing. My friend’s toddler saw how she was programming it, etc., and now knows how to make it change colors. Smart little sucker. Her toddler and my toddler are a lot alike in personality, so I took this advice to heart and keep the clock high and out of her reach, just to avoid any unnecessary experimentation.

Okay, really this is it: If you’re interested, check out the story about how My Tot Clock was invented. It was by a mother, just like you and me. I think it’s truly a story about the power of mothers and I think Pamela is pretty kick a$$.

THE END

The Drama

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Six months ago, in another demonstration that I am indeed getting old and inching farther away from the pop culture information bank I once was, I was sitting at lunch with some of my public relations friends and I was all, “So what IS Jersey Shore exactly? I’ve heard of this Mike ‘The Situation’ guy. What’s up with that?” Honestly, the only thing I can remember from my friends’ explanations, other than the fact that it’s a reality show on MTV, is that they GTL. As in gym, tan, laundry. They like to do that apparently. Oh, and there’s a girl named Snooki. You don’t know what Jersey Shore is either? Here, I’ll enlighten you, ya old fart.

At least I was better off than my best friend who confessed, “Who is Lady Gaga?” I did know who SHE was.

Among other indications of my increasing age is my extreme distaste for outdoor concert venues. The ones where your seat consists of the lawn chair you brought in with you. And the 20-year-olds surrounding you have been imbibing mass quantities of $9.99 vodka and Kool-Aid since noon, and are now so unbelievably drunk that if they’re not getting into a fight with the person next to them, they’re puking on your shoes. CAN-NOT stand it anymore.

Don’t worry, I AM still young enough to stand up and dance at concerts, to the complete and extreme irritation of the old(er) people around me. I shudder to think of the day when I’m the old lady waving her purse, glaring and internally castigating anyone who dares obscure her view.

I still don’t know why they call Mike on Jersey Shore “The Situation,” by the way. But I do know that henceforth Monkey will be known as Monkey “The Drama.”

Yes, some of you know of her repeated and intriguing methods to delay going to bed. We’ve come a long way since the first few weeks of the big girl bed — chiefly because we removed all of her toys, books, and everything within reach in the closet, and used safety straps to close all of her dresser drawers. But really, it did get A LOT better. For a while. It seems like every few weeks there’s a new transition or phase that delays her going to bed. We finally were in a pretty sweet spot and then Bean was born. Then we did potty training. Lately, we’re back to the “I have to go potty and poopy again” wail, combined with her recent desire to practice taking her clothes off and on. Or maybe she just wants to be naked. Or maybe she just wants to irritate us get our attention.

Like two nights ago. I heard wailing from her room. I walk down the hall and look in her bedroom. She’s walking around crying with her arms flailing about because she got her head stuck in her shirt in a two-year-old’s attempt to take it off. Her pants and “nighttime underwear,” aka the pull-up, were successfully on the floor. It was really funny. But then she got her head unstuck and it really wasn’t funny anymore. Because then she was just standing there with her pants off. AGAIN.

We had somewhat successfully curbed the after-bedtime bathroom trip, until the night when she did actually poop in her pull-up (apparently I need to start reading “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” fable more). So we started giving her the benefit of the doubt again, until night after night, it became clear that it was just a ploy.

One night, after asking for books and magazines to read while “Waiting for my poopy to come out!” as she generally exclaims with a big smile on her face, I firmly said, “Monkey, I don’t think you really have to go poopy.”

“Yes I do! Yes I DOOOOOOO. I really DOOOOO have to go poopy!”

And then she dissolves into a fit of really LOUD fake crying and wailing.

“Monkey, you’ve been sitting on the toilet for more than five minutes. I don’t think your poopy’s coming.”

“Fine!” she says half fake sobbing, half wailing. “I’ll just go poopy in my underwear then,” and continues fake wailing as she throws her hands up to her cheeks and buries her face in her lap, shoulders slumped over in a defeated stance, as if I had just told her the dog died.

OH to the D to the R to the A to the M to the A.

And yes. She has started to use the word “fine.” Correctly.

Last week we were taking Monkey to the zoo for their Kids’ Night event and she was being unruly in the backseat. She was “talking loudly” in the car, which is pretty much more like half screaming in the car. While she’s often pretty loud (it adds to the drama), I can handle it better in the house. But when you’re in a confined space like a moving vehicle, it’s deafening.

Apparently she was feeling persecuted when I asked her for the 10th time to “Please lower your voice,” because she responded by rattling off:

“Nomoretoys.I’mtakingallyourtoysaway.Yougetatimeout.We’renotgoingtothezoo!!”

Ooookaaaay. Husband and I looked sideways at each other, stunned in silence. Then we both started silently laughing. We never even responded to her.

Thanks for rolling up every single punishment I’ve ever given you into one, you drama queen. Geez, I’m not that much of a witch!

So who’s The Drama in your life and what do they do?