Tag Archives: Toddler

Lessons in Parenting #2: Putting Your Foot Down

December 3, 2012 · 5:24 pm

We’ve all heard plenty of advice from parenting books, weather we read them ourselves our had them quoted to us by some fanatic.   It seems like the holy grail of parenting advice is to be consistent.  I guess I thought it meant, “I am consistently not a push-over,” or “I am consistently the boss of you,” because I always associated that phrase with laying down ultimatums and putting my foot down.

I have since learned that the exact opposite is true.  If you want to be consistent (follow through on what you say,) then don’t ever put your foot down ever.  The reason for this is quite simple: In all likelihood, your child can put their foot down harder than you can.



You say, “Child, you are not getting up from that table until you finish your food.”  Now who is responsible to enforce that  ultimatum?  You are, you stupidhead poor lost soul.  If you want to be consistent you are going to have to make sure that your child stays at the table until they finish that food.  Should I tell you a secret? The child doesn’t want that food.  The child will not eat that food.  At 10:00 p.m. they will be asleep with their face in a pile of spaghetti, and you will have missed that precious hour you are supposed to have to yourself between putting the kids to bed and passing out from exhaustion.  (Thankfully, this exact scenario has yet to happen.) The battle is over and they’ve won, because you can’t teach anyone a lesson when they’re asleep.  Taking a hard line in other situations is often just as futile.  For example, saying, “Stop crying,” or, “Go to sleep,” in a firm tone of voice is successful approximately 0% of the time.

Next time, try saying something like: “Now I see you haven’t finished all of the food that I labored to put on your plate.  I’d like you to finish it, but I’m a reasonable human being.  Let’s negotiate. I’ll let you get off with two more bites if you promise not to wake up before 6 a.m.  Deal?”

In conclusion, try not to say anything you’ll later regret if your child turns out to have a stronger resolve than you do.  In most cases, putting your foot down really is going  to hurt you more than it hurts them.

I Voted

November 6, 2012 · 2:25 pm

I voted today.  If you think I made a bad decision (by voting or because of who I voted for) I hope we can still be friends.

More importantly, I ate this giant bowl of cereal for breakfast:


Nati said he wanted cereal. I thought, Cereal sounds good. I’ll get some for myself too.  I poured two bowls of cereal…with milk.

Nati saw the milk and said, “Cereal without milk!”

I felt that the mistake was partly mine. It’s important to always ask your toddler for detailed instructions on how to prepare their food.  So I poured his cereal into my bowl, rinsed and dried his bowl, and poured him cereal without milk.

Nati looked down at his fresh bowl of dry cereal and then over at mine.  He handed it back and said, “I want milk in my cereal, just like you.”

This child…

Also, pictures of our Halloween pumpkin, which wasn’t stolen! Yay!

It’s a kitten, not just some weird, mutilated pumpkin.

See? A kitten.

One in Diapers

October 15, 2012 · 6:00 pm

Nati is potty trained. We’ve been working on it for over a year, but never fully committed.  That is, never fully committed.  I didn’t want the hassle of an accident in the middle of the grocery store or church. Nati’s been ready for a while, but every time we left the house or at bedtime, I diapered him up…and also any other time either of us didn’t want the hassle of the potty.  I decided it was time to rip off the bandaid, and on his third birthday I insisted that he wear underwear all day.  He had zero accidents.  I was high on this success so we decided to try underwear to bed.  He was dry in the morning.  We are going on 72 hours diaper-free and accident-free. I am so happy I could cry.  (Actually I did get a little misty-eyed as he voluntarily pooped in the potty yesterday.  Motherhood makes you do weird stuff.)

Sitting on the potty like a pro.

The following conversation took place while he was sitting on the potty shortly after I took this picture.

Nati: “Is that a picture of me pooping?”

Me: “Yes.”

Nati: “Thank you! It’s beautiful!” (Sees my deodorant.) “Where’s my shaver?”

Me: “You don’t have one, but when you get big, you can shave your face like Dada.”

Nati: “Oh.  Do you shave your face like me and Dada?”

Me: “No.”

Nati: “Look, big-boy-diapers! I don’t need a diaper right now.  Do you need a diaper?”

Me: “No.”

Nati: (Looks at his wrist.) *gasp* “Do I have a watch? I don’t know what times it is!”

Me: “You don’t have a–”

Nati: “Shhhhh! I think I hear a car on the road.”

*pause while airplane drones in the background*

Nati: “Okay you can talk now.”

(This conversation has been shortened to fit the allotted space.  Other funny things were said.)

Washing hands all by himself.

Thankfully, turning three has in no way diminished his hurricane superpower. This took less than 60 seconds:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t born with a corresponding cleaning superpower.

Meanwhile, little miss Lily has been growing by leaps and bounds. She says Mama and Dada*. (*This has yet to be verified by a third party.)  She tries to say Nati, but it comes out more like “Aaaa-Eeee.”  She is also cruising around holding on to furniture, and occasionally lets go for a second and stands on her own.

Still rocking the diaper.

Accordingly, she is also sporting her first fat lip.

Poor baby.

Onward, ho, to the land of just one in diapers!

A Fire Truck, a Bamboo Stick, and a Snake

October 13, 2012 · 7:30 am

What do the following objects have in common?

Fire Truck

Bamboo Stick

Toy Snake

These are all essential props in the magic shows performed by Nati.  Did I say props? I meant accessories.  Nati informed me that he needed a hat, a magic wand, and a cape to do his magic show.  I was busy thinking about what I could easily get my hands on that would make the cut when he announced that he was ready — costume and all.

Hat, Magic Wand, and Cape.

The magic show commenced shortly thereafter.

“Mom, put the camera down and come here so I can disappear you and Lily!”

This child is the most creative and entertaining person I have ever known.  A few days ago, I had just (finally) gotten Lily off to sleep for her nap when Nati started pounding on the bedroom door and woke her up.  As she lay there crying and (now) fully awake, he said in a loud whispered, “Mama?”

What,” I asked, in my most irritated voice.

“Can I sing Lily a song?”

“Okay,” I said, feeling a bit guilty.

He started singing: “Rock-a-bye Lily, go to sleep.  Rock-a-bye Lily, you have to go to sleep.  Rock-a-bye Lily, can’t go to sleep. Rock-a-bye Lily, can’t go to sleep.”

Happy Birthday to the sweetest little 3-year-old I have ever laid eyes on.

Nati Quote:

Nati: “Mama, where did the pumpkin go?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Nati: “But where did it go, Mama?”

Me: “I don’t know, Honey.”

Nati: “But where did it go?”

*I go and find the pumpkin.*

Me: “Here it is.”

Nati: “But where did it — oh.  Um…Where did the pumpkin come from, Mama?”

How to Survive Running Errands

August 3, 2012 · 9:39 am

Yesterday I was busy.  So busy that I was not sure I would finish everything that absolutely and with no exceptions HAD to be finished by the end of the day. Which is why it was daunting and not a little inconvenient when I realized I had to run to the bank in the middle of the day. So I packed up the kids and headed for the bank.

I chose pay-by-the-hour parking because there was none available near the Bank of America downtown.  Then I unloaded the kids and hiked the short distance to the bank…only to remember as I saw the vacant windows that this Bank of America had been shut down. In March. I guess it’s been a while since I was at the bank.

So I hiked back to our car, loaded the kids back up, and paid $2 for our wasted trip. Then we drove to the nearest bank and made our deposit.  Yohannes suggested that while I was out, I should take Nati to the park since it was such a busy day and Nati wouldn’t get another chance to play outside.  So we stopped at the park on our way home.

Everything was okay until we got ready to leave.  Nati wanted to have a drink at the water fountain (which was broken and was spraying water everywhere like a…um…fountain.)  I finally relented and pushed the button for him, but he didn’t want to get all wet, so he stood back.  I coaxed him close enough to get splashed a bit, which he thought it was great fun, but he still wouldn’t get close enough to actually take a drink.

Since it was such a busy, busy day, I finally told him he’d have to get a drink at home and I headed toward the car. This is when the full atomic-scale melt-down occurred.  He wailed and screamed and refused to come with me.  He came to me at one point, but when I didn’t let him drag me back to the fountain, he fell to the ground and continued his tirade.  I walked to the car and told him we were leaving.

Enter crazy drunk man.  He came around the corner and was suddenly on the sidewalk between me and Nati.  He started cursing and looking wildly at us, and saying, “That’s not my F***ing kid! I didn’t do it!”  Then he walked toward me and started to reach for Lily.

What do I do in this situation?  Should I swat his hand away? No sudden movements.  Wait, is that for drunk people, or bears? He seemed about to snap and I didn’t want to upset him, seeing as I was holding Lily, and he was still standing between me and Nati.  So with every muscle in my body tensed, I waited to see what he would do.  He touched her cheek, smiled, and then kept walking.

I didn’t have time to breathe a sigh of relief before he turned around and asked if I wanted him to help with Nati, who was still on the ground screaming a few yards away.  I noticed that he was now standing on the grass because of his failed attempts to walk in a straight line up the sidewalk.  “No, thank you.” I said very politely and loudly and quickly.    Apparently he was also hearing impaired, or obstinate, or a very determined helper because he started muttering to Nati and headed in his direction with his arms alternately waving around and reaching for Nati.

What do I do in this situation? Run? Climb a tree? Don’t get between a mama bear and her cub?  Why does all my survival knowledge have to do with bears?!  I’ve never even been close to a wild bear! I started walking toward Nati, who thankfully took that moment to notice that loud man stumbling towards him and decided that I was the safer bet.  I grabbed him with my free arm and dumped him the car seat as fast as I could. I looked over my shoulder to see the overly helpful drunk man was walking away.

Nati continued to scream at a glass-shattering pitch for the whole ride home.  When he finally calmed down, I decided that now was a very important time to have a lesson about making good choices.

Me: “Nati, did you make a good choice at the park?”

Nati: “Yes.”

Me: “No. Was it a good choice when you didn’t listen to your mommy and come to the car?”

Nati: “Yes. It was a good choice and a bad choice. It was a good choice because I wanted to play at the park. It was a bad choice because I didn’t get a drink of water.”

Me: “Nati, it was not a good choice when you didn’t listen.  Next time will you make a better choice and listen to me?”

Nati: “No.”

Me: “Nati, it hurts my feeling when you don’t make a good choice and listen to Mommy.”

Nati: “Mommy, it hurts my feelings when you make a bad choice and don’t listen to me.”


How do you survive bear attacks? drunk men? two year olds? running errands?


July 3, 2012 · 5:55 pm

We are on vacation.  So far, this has been the most relaxing part:

I love vacation with my family, especially since we don’t all get together that often.  Unfortunately, this year Hannah and Pierce can’t make it, half of my family was at a conference until Sunday, and Yohannes and Andrew can’t come till Tuesday night.   We needed to get the keys on Saturday, so Naomi and I planned to leave on Saturday morning. I was up late Friday packing and by Saturday morning, felt I had things under control.  That is, until Yohannes informed me that when I got the oil changed in the van, they put in the wrong oil.  Naturally, I never noticed, but Yohannes was kind enough to offer to run the van over and get the oil changed again.  We still had an hour till I needed to leave, so crisis averted…or so I thought.

Fast-forward 2.5 hours and Yohannes was just getting back.  After loading up the van and driving to pick up Naomi and her friend Keri, I was 2 hours behind schedule.  When I arrive, Naomi said, “You know we have to get there before the office closes or we forfeit the house, right?”

Say what?!

No problem. It was just after 1pm, and this trip was supposed to take 3.5 hours.  If the office closed at 5, we would be okay.  So we drove for about an hour, and I look at my GPS, to see it saying 4 more hours to reach destination.  With nothing to do but drive I pray, I prayed that the GPS was wrong.  In my head, I was running over scenarios of telling my family that I had single-handedly ruined our vacation.

Luckily, the GPS was wrong.  The office closes at 5.  We arrived at 4:57. Crises averted.

Did I mention we are in the middle of a heat wave?  We went most of the trip without the A/C working properly, but managed to survive.  When we arrived at what we thought was the beach house, we were greeted instead by a sauna.  The house is made mostly of pine, and it actually, truly smelled like a sauna.  We panicked for a moment when we thought there was no A/C, until we found the thermostat with the cooling turned off.  Catastrophe averted. Internal temp read 97 degree.  Outside temp was 87.  Also included, was an adorable note saying not to set the thermostat to more than 10 degrees lower than the outside temp.  How sweet.  But no thanks, considering Sunday was a high of 93.

We went to the beach Saturday night.  I was by myself with two kids, so It’s not like I expected to just go frolicking into the ocean, but I expected to still have some measure of fun.  It was promising at first.  When we walked on to the beach for the first time on Saturday evening, Nati was excited.  “Mama, where did all this sand come from?” he asked.  Then, after taking in the notes of an orchestral performance being broadcast from the boardwalk, mingled uniquely with the pop music blasting from a boom box on the beach, Nati said, “Mama, the beach is like a giant song!”

But then there was the ocean.  Nati screamed any time we got within a few feet of it.  I managed to get his feet wet a little, to which he loudly protested.  I finally consigned myself to playing in the sand, but still he wasn’t satisfied.  “Mama, turn off the waves!” he whined over and over, until we left, a full 5 minutes later.

On Sunday, I decided to brave the beach again.  I could drive, but I didn’t have our parking passes yet or I could take the trolley, but I didn’t have any quarters.  So I decided to walk with the kids in the stroller.  It took 40 minutes. 30 to get to the beach, and 10 to get the stroller across the sand.  We played for 30 minutes, during which time, Nati continued to ask me to “turn off the waves.”  Then we walked 40 minutes back.  I was wearing flip flops and get a large blister.

When we pulled up to the house, I got Nati out of the stroller and he went and stood in front of the glass sliding door.  I was still unloading Lily when he said, “Mama, there’s something going on in there.”  Are the girls back from the beach? I wondered, and kept unloading our stuff.  Nati wasn’t deterred.  “Mama, there’s really something going on in there.”  I grabbed an armful of water bottles and towels and walked over to the door.

That’s when I saw it. Water was raining down from the ceiling.  Not dripping.  Streams of water raining down.  I unlocked the door and rushed inside as fast as I could.  I ran up the stairs where I found that the tank of the upstairs toilet had water pouring out of the top of it. I managed to get the water turned off and began throwing all of the sheets and towels I could find into the puddles of water.  Nati refused to come in because it was raining.  I gave Nati a bowl of ice-cream (and then a second bowl of ice-cream) to keep him occupied while I made panicked phone calls and cleaned up the mess for the next two hours.  In the end, not much damage was done, but I think I’ve used up my quota of adrenaline for a month.

Finally, on Sunday evening the rest of the family arrived.  I realized the night before the room I was in wasn’t going to work for me.  It had one double bed, which both children shared with me.  That wasn’t going to leave room for Yohannes when he arrived on Tuesday.  So we did some shuffling and I moved into the room next door.   The next thing we knew, the electricity wasn’t working in my parents bedroom. My dad, Mr. Fixit, couldn’t sleep until he had located the problem, (Never mind that  they had already moved to another room with lights.) In the process of moving rooms, I apparently bumped an electrical outlet with a loose wire.  I was laying in bed, trying to get the kids to sleep, when my dad said casually on his way out of the room, “That could be a fire hazard, so if you smell anything tonight…”

Um. Okay.

So I spent the better part of the night plotting my escape in the case of a fire and dreaming about electrical outlets bursting into flames.    Luckily, we all woke up Monday morning, if a little more bleary eyed for the bad dreams.  The homeowner popped by to fix the toilet and tightened up the wires.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to brave the beach again, since the family was here for moral support (and to chase Nati while I held Lily and made myself look busy.)  Now having parking permits in our possession, we drove to the beach (thank God.)  Nati again refused to touch the ocean, but we had a lot of fun in the sand making sand castles while Uncle Derrick threw buckets of water at Nati and Lia.  Rebekah, my very pregnant sister, decided to take Lia out in the water.   I was sitting in the sand, watching as she walked out.  She hadn’t gone far when I saw a bigger wave coming up.  She saw it too, and promptly turned around, since she wouldn’t make it past the wave before it crashed.  She only got a couple of feet before it hit them.  She held Lia up to avoid the brunt of the wave, but got knocked down to her knees, luckily keeping both of their heads above water.  Derrick rushed in to take Lia, but Bekah got some ouchy scrapes on her knee from the fall.  Not a great first experience this vacation to teach the toddlers that the water is fun.  Also not great to have scrapes all over your leg.

Despite the many catastrophes and almost catastrophes, it’s nice to have some quality time with family.  Love, love, love my family.  Can’t wait to have everyone together at Hannah and Peirce’s wedding.