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Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.

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Unit Studies for Adults: World War II

After my last update for my reading challenge, I decided to read a book in my “to read” pile that a good friend of mine gave me YEARS ago.  She gave it to me when I was pregnant with my oldest (Big Sis is almost six now!)  But at that time I was working two or three jobs while my husband was student teaching…in addition to being pregnant and preparing to have a baby.  Then once  I had that baby my reading became very sporadic.  (Which is one reason why I started this challenge!)  I am absolutely loving reading regularly again.  I still don’t go through as many books as I used to (i.e. I don’t binge read every free second I have until I am done with a series that I start) but it’s great reading every night in bed.  It helps me sleep better, too!

Anyway, the book I decided to read is called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I had no idea how fun this book was going to be when I picked it up.  It is not an unforgettable book that will stick with me forever.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it, will probably read it again, and love that it’s the kind of book I feel like I could recommend to just about anyone.  It was lighthearted, charming and sweet.  Exactly what I needed after the last book I read.  This is a story of an author who, after World War II has ended, finds herself corresponding with a group of people from Guernsey, a British island that had been overtaken by Germans and the Hitler regime.  She is captivated by their stories and decides to learn more and possibly write a book about it all.  The book is written entirely of letters.  It is a little sad, as anything about World War II is, but it is beautiful.  It made me want to go to Guernsey.  And start a book club.  And learn more about the war.  I started with the latter.

Reading this beautiful piece of historical fiction inspired a World War II kick for me.  I then read “The Book Thief,” which was a bit of a tear-jerker, but also really great.  It was written in a really unique way…told by Death.  It’s a beautiful story of childhood and friendship in the midst of really awful things…and how family extends beyond blood relatives.  I also really love the part books play…how stories can help through hard times and the power of literacy.

Next on my list is “All the Light We Cannot See,” which has fantastic reviews and everyone I know who has read it says that it was awesome.  I was going to check it out at the library but there were about 26 people in front of me in line!  So I’m guessing it’s worth purchasing.

I found a bunch of World War II documentaries on Netflix (I started with “World War II in Color”) and I looked up the answers to questions I had as I wondered them.  I ended up spending some time looking up Japanese internment camps, because that’s something that is typically not covered much.  I remember first being introduced to this topic when I was a senior in high school reading “Snow Falling on Cedars.”  I could not believe that something like that could happen in our own country…and that I had never even heard about it!

Picture of World Wars - IL (CV)

I also ordered this World Wars book with my latest Usborne order, which I’m pretty excited about.  I figure since it’s written for teens, it will be engaging and easy to read, which will be nice because I have a hard time getting through nonfiction books sometimes.  If it skirts around some things that I’d like to go into more depth on, I can look those things up.  I’m particularly interested in learning about World War I, which I’m realizing more and more that I really don’t know anything about.

As you can see, my reading challenge has joined together with my love of themes and become an ADULT UNIT STUDY!  🙂  Maybe I have a new category for my blog.

As silly as an adult unit study might sound, I think it’s a huge bonus to homeschooling.  I love learning for the sake of learning rather than because a teacher at school told me that I needed to learn it to pass a test.  And I’m excited that my kids will get to grow up experiencing that!  I hope that I can reign in my excitement for planning things and really let them do most of the leading in our schooling, as we explore the things they are curious about.

Anything you would add to my adult unit study?  Throw your ideas at me!  

Thanks for reading!!


This post contains affiliate links.  They do not affect you, but if you like something that I post about and decide to purchase it, you can support me and my family by using my links!  Thanks!  🙂  


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Why Oh Why Am I Always Running Late?!


Am I the only one who just can’t seem to figure out how much extra time to give myself to get somewhere with kids?  I really hope it’s not just me.  But really…I’m terrible at it.  I am not consistent at all.  Some days I’m right on time.  Some days I’m 5, 10, even 20 minutes late.  So ridiculous.  Sometimes I’m early.  One time we were 25 minutes early to gymnastics class and I had to chase my toddling baby all over the lobby as we waited.

After some trial and error I can usually figure it out if we’re going to the same place each time…although there are always variances.  Such as…

On their way to the van, they manage to get soaking wet and need to change their clothes.

My three year old took her pants off without me noticing and although we we arrived on time, I had to wait in the parking lot as she took her socks and shoes off, put her pants back on, and then put her socks and shoes back on.

Many times Little Sis gets out of the van without shoes.  Usually she has taken them off while we drive, but there have been times when she got into the van without shoes and I just didn’t notice.  Luckily, I usually keep some in the van for just that reason!

Sometimes everyone will get ready to go surprisingly fast.  I actually gave us more than enough time to get ready.  We’ll have thirty minutes before we need to leave.  So I let them play for a bit.  Sometimes that works out fine.  Other times my three year old decides that this is a good time to take everything off that we just got on her and, instead, put on a fairy costume.


They can’t find socks. They can’t find shoes.

I want them to wear hiking shoes for a specific reason and they want to wear dress shoes or flip flops.  Reasoning with a three year old doesn’t work well.

One time my alarm went off and my husband and I got everyone up to get ready for church.  Little Bear was so tired and crabby that I laid him back down to get some more rest while the rest of us got ready to go.  The girls commented on how dark it was outside and we gave them a little homeschool lesson on winter days vs. summer days.  Then we looked at a clock and realized it was two hours earlier than we thought it was.  Someone (my one year old who likes to push buttons) had changed the time zone on my atomic alarm clock and we didn’t notice until we were pretty much ready to go.

They are hungry.  They are thirsty.

There is a sudden, excruciatingly painful injury that has come out of nowhere and it has greatly affected the five-year-old’s ability to walk.

Someone needs to go potty.

The baby has pooped even though I just changed his diaper.  Or worse….pooped on his clothes and has gotten on me.  That hasn’t happened lately but is not uncommon with new babies.  haha

The only coat in the whole world that is worth wearing is the coat we cannot find.


They want to bring a toy.  They can’t find the toy.  They are afraid the toy is lost forever.

Suddenly the three year old does NOT want to go to the place we are going and she does NOT like our friends.

Just as I’m about to buckle her, Little Sis realizes that her hair is in a pony tail instead of a messy bun and wiggles and kicks and refuses to be buckled because she wanted a bun…even though she never told me that she wanted a bun.

She does not want my help.  She needs my help.  She does not want my help.  She needs my help.

And then, of course,  there are my own flaws.  I’m up most of the night because kids keep waking me up and I can’t get back to sleep so I oversleep in the morning.  I can’t find the diaper bag.   I can’t find my keys.  I can’t find my water bottle.  I just remembered that I was supposed to pack a lunch.  What was that address again?  Ugh, I fed the kids but forgot to feed myself.  Oh shoot, I was going to run this errand while we were out…do I still have time?  Why isn’t the van starting?!

THEN on top of all THAT, there’s…

Agh, we’re just barely on time but now we have to walk all the way over here and juggle kids, bag and wallet and pay for parking!

Traffic!?  It’s 10am on a Tuesday….

Oh no…I forgot to give myself time to set up my stroller.  (I have an awesome stroller that is a bike trailer and a stroller.  It comes apart and lays flat but takes quite a bit of time to set up.)

I’ve been a mom for almost six years.  You’d think that I’d have it down by now.  You’d think that I’d remember that even though it only takes twenty minutes to drive somewhere doesn’t mean I can wait until twenty minutes before we need to be there to say, “OK!  Everyone to the van!”  But you’d be wrong.  That still happens.  And then how late we are depends on all the variables.

Sometimes it all goes smoothly and we are right on time.

I think that’s the problem, really.  If we were never on time I’d realize that I really need to change something.  But when we’re on time about 50% of the time, it messes with my mind!  🙂

All this being said…I do not think it’s cool to use my kids as an excuse for always being late.  I do try hard to be on time and think others should, too.  But kids sure don’t make it easy!  As important as I think it is to be on time, I also don’t think it helps to get bent out of shape about it.  It is what it is…apologize and do something different next time.  Let’s remember to give others, and ourselves, grace.  I wrote this post because I think it’s good to be able to laugh about it, rather than just feeling frustrated.  I hope this post gave you a chuckle and maybe some of you out there are nodding your heads because you experience these things as well.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?!  Any funny stories? Any tips for being on time?  Are you the kind of person who is just always on time no matter what?  We don’t want your kind here.  No need to comment.  😉  


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Studying Winter Animals

I have shared before how I have a bit of an obsession with themes.

My love of themes will someday turn into a lot of cool unit studies for homeschooling, but for now they are very mini unit studies since I just have young children.  As much as I’d like to go all out and come up with TONS of fun ideas for crafts, science, math….what I do instead is mostly follow their lead on what they are interested in…letting them come up with ideas, offering more activities that I’ve come up with only if their interest holds and they are asking questions. And I don’t really push academics at this age so I do not really incorporate math, etc.

It’s mostly for Big Sis at this point.  Little Sis enjoys some of the stories and activities, but she has a sort of sixth sense about when someone is trying to teach her something and loses interest.  Ha!  She’s going to be an interesting one!

I’ve been wanting to start posting about these mini unit studies for ages, but I’m finally purposefully taking time to write.  So hopefully these posts will start to happen more often!


My first one is on WINTER!  

Have you heard of shine-a-light books?*  I love them SO much!  I just love fun nonfiction books that are interesting to my kids anyway, but these books are extra special because you can shine a flashlight behind each page to find a hidden picture.  Once you turn the page you can learn more about it.  Like this:

shine a light frog

My favorite one is “Secrets of Winter”…maybe because it’s so applicable to our life where we live. Its beautiful and we get to learn all about what happens in the winter…frogs can freeze, some animals’ fur changes to white, some animals hibernate,  etc.

So at our homeschool co-op we read this book and then did some fun winter animal yoga.  You can get on pinterest and find some awesome examples of different yoga poses but I ended up just creating my own.  I told a story about wind coming in, snow coming down, and what different animals were doing to get ready.  Then we got into our cave and hibernated a bit as I sang a song about hibernation.  Then Spring came and we woke up and stretched some more.

Then we did this fun experiment to see how animals stay warm in the cold.

The kids thought it was neat how long they could keep their hands in the icy water without getting cold.

The last thing we did at our co-op was play (many) rounds of hibernate-and-seek.  One child was “Spring” while all the other kids pretended to be a different hibernating animal.  It was a hit.  (Of course…because what kid doesn’t like hide-and-seek!)

There are SO many other things you could do on this topic and Pinterest is great for that.  But my FAVORITE thing about homeschooling is letting the kids’ interest lead us.  So we did some other learning on this topic that I don’t have documented.  We asked questions and looked things up….”what other animals hibernate?”  “what do bees do?”  “what do ants do?”  “do frogs really freeze?”  (Another reason why I love homeschooling….because I learn so much too!!)  And of course we did a lot of playing outside and observing nature.

Any other ideas out there for activities or your favorite books for learning about winter?  I’d love to hear them!


*I am not going to turning this blog into one big advertisement for Usborne books, but I do want to mention that I am an Usborne Books and More Consultant (they are so awesome for homeschooling!)  I sell these children’s books so that I can build our homeschooling library and earn some extra income for my family.  If you’d like to check out the shine-a-light books you can click HERE to see them all on my site.

Feel free to message me if you’d like to learn more about the books or if you’re curious about getting involved somehow to build your own library!  Use the “contact” me link either on the top right of this page or on my Usborne site.  Cheers!


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Reading Resolutions February Update

In January I shared about my 2016 reading resolutions.  I am LOVING this challenge so far.

In January I suggested that we re-read a favorite book.  One of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables.  I loved it when I read it as a kid, I loved it as a college student, and now I love it as a mom.  It speaks to me differently in these different life stages.  I love the humor, the relationships, and the life lessons.


If you haven’t read them before, I highly recommend the whole series, although the first three are my favorite.  So far I have made it through to Anne’s House of Dreams.  I hope to read the rest of them later.

February brought a new challenge so I took a break to read a book that I haven’t read before by an author that I love.  I chose The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.  I’d been eyeing it for a while.  She is such an amazing author.  I love how she has such complex stories that come together so beautifully.  Harry Potter was absolutely amazing…how she created a whole other believable world right within our own world.  She has a very impressive talent of writing incredible characters.  You find yourself caring about and understanding her characters, even if you don’t like them.


We are BIG Harry Potter fans 🙂

This talent carried over into her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy.  Wow.  What can I say about this novel?  If JK Rowling was trying to show the world that she could write something other than young adult fantasy novels of good vs. evil and magic…she succeeded.  This story dug into the deepest, darkest thoughts of the many characters living in a small town who are affected by the death of a prominent town figure.  Although interesting and thought provoking, the vulgarity of it was a huge turn off for me and made it so I really can’t recommend it (seriously, if my mother or mother in law are reading this…do NOT pick up this book!)  I read several reviews and read the back of the book with no idea what I had gotten myself into.  There should be book ratings like movie ratings.  This one would be R…if not worse.  But luckily, I am an excellent skimmer 😉

Most of the characters were not likable at all at first, but as I read more, I understood them more.  In the end, even though I didn’t necessarily like them, I at least really felt for them.  The issues brought up are relevant…the politics of whether or not to help people who aren’t really helping themselves but need help so badly, hurting marriages, abuse, lies, addictions, teenage boys and what happens to their thoughts when sucked into pornography, mental illness, poverty, childhood innocence being stolen…it’s all so very real and something more people should be aware of.  I did not enjoy the book…it was horrible…but I couldn’t put it down.  Like I said, it’s incredibly thought provoking and incredibly well written…and if you can handle the language and the crude sexual content, I think the story is rather important.  It appealed to me, with my communication studies and social work background, for sure.  And although she doesn’t end with any sort of moral or lesson, she leaves us with story that broadens our perspective and challenges our way of thinking.  It was a book I will not easily forget, although I will not be reading it again.

I am now in the middle of an amazing book that I am excited to share with you later.  I’m glad to read an uplifting book after such a crazy first book this month.

My husband read Ender’s Game in January, by Orson Scott Card, another of my favorites.  And he read Ender’s Shadow this month.  I haven’t read that one but my husband said it was a story about Bean, a side character of Ender’s Game.  I think it’s so fun to read stories like that…from another perspective.

Wouldn’t it be great fun if JK Rowling would write more Harry Potter books…perhaps from Snape’s perspective?  Or Harry’s parents.  Or another series that happen many years later that involve their children.  One can hope!  😉

What are YOU reading?!

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Reading Resolutions

I’ve never really done New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t know why though, because I am definitely a list maker and a goal setter.  I can be pretty terrible at following through on goals these days though, so I guess maybe I stay away from New Year’s resolutions because I don’t want to just be another New Year’s resolution failure statistic.  haha

But this year I decided that there is one thing I’d really like to do.  I’d really like to be purposeful about what I read!


I’ve always been a book worm.  There was no better way to spend a day (even in high school when being social was so important) than to lay on a blanket in the shade with an iced tea and a good book.  It’s a lot harder to find time to read now, as a mom.  Which I guess is why I want to make the most of the time that I do have.

I enjoy a lot of different kinds of books but the books I tend to fly through most easily are young adult fantasy novels.  I don’t want to not read these books.  I still will.  In fact, I have the final book of the Lorien Legacies on hold through overdrive.  (Have you used the overdrive app to check out e-books from your local library…if not…DO IT!)  However, I want to read other things too, and I don’t want to just re-read old favorites (I am a chronic re-reader.)  New books can be hard for me to get into  with the constant interruptions of little children, especially adult novels with lots of descriptions.  Which is one reason why I wanted to make some goals!  Because I don’t want to just read fantasy novels or my tried and true favorites over and over, no matter how awesome and fun they are.

I want to read things that challenge my perspective and teach me new things.  I want to read books that I could have a conversation with Rory Gilmore about.  (My husband and I just re-watched all the seasons of Gilmore Girls…because I am a chronic re-watcher of shows as well! haha (Is anyone else SO excited that Netflix is making a new mini-series?!))


Rory Gilmore and I are both book worms, but she is on a completely different level than I am.  I couldn’t get through As I Lay Dying in high school.  It was awful.  Faulkner inspired me to learn to write a paper for my high school English class without actually reading the whole book.  But maybe I would like it better now, as an adult.  A lot of the books I read in school impacted me in some way, and I enjoyed many of them, even if they aren’t the kinds of books I would normally choose to read on my own.

So here’s my list for 2016.  If this list doesn’t suit you, do some googling or check out pinterest for other ideas. Or make your own!

  • JANUARY: Re-read one of your top ten favorite books of all time (I am starting with this one because it’s easy for me…and I wanted something easy to get me going! I am reading Anne of Green Gables.)
  • FEBRUARY: Something you haven’t read by an author you love
  • MARCH: A book that shares another cultural perspective and true life story
  • APRIL: Something recommended by a young reader friend (aged maybe 8-14)
  • MAY: Something someone has given you but you’ve never gotten around to reading (I have so many of these!)
  • JUNE: A nonfiction historical book on a subject which you have always been curious about
  • JULY: Something from a college bound book list that you haven’t read yet…a classic
  • AUGUST: Re-read a book from your youth that had an impact on you but that you barely remember
  • SEPTEMBER: Choose a book that could help you achieve something (this could be a “self-help” book, a spiritual book, a parenting book, a book on learning a new skill like photography or coding, etc.)
  • OCTOBER: Read a book you have always wanted to read
  • NOVEMBER: A book that a movie you like was based on
  • DECEMBER: Something you have started but never finished (I have quite a few of these too!)

Ok!  I am going to blog on my progress each month.  I would like to go in order, but it’s not necessary.  If you’d like to follow along, please do!  You can comment on this post or any of my future posts on this subject, or post the books you are reading and what subject they fit under on instagram using #exploreimagineREAD. Or, if you aren’t doing my list, but want to share what you are reading anyway, use a more generic hashtag #2016readingresolution.


Happy reading!

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Some Ways To Help an Angry Toddler

Toddlers are so unpredictable.  You never know what is going to set them off.

One day she loves hot dogs and the next day she does NOT like hot dogs.

She doesn’t like the spoon I gave her.

Or the way I have my legs when I’m sitting.

She doesn’t like how the cat is looking at her.

Or the sounds the baby is making. (One day my daughter was sitting in the car next to her baby brother and she sighed loudly and said he was being so annoying. I asked what he was doing to annoy her and she mimicked his happy baby sounds. Wow, that sounds…awful?)

She will want to do something until I smile and say that it’s a great idea and then suddenly she thinks it’s a terrible idea.

Angry Toddler

So of course, the way you deal with them has to constantly be changing too. I always try the same things to start with because if it works, then great. But when that doesn’t work, I have some backup ideas. I wanted to share them with you because they might be helpful to you, but also for myself because it’s so helpful to have really well thought out backup ideas. When I don’t have ideas ready in my mind, it can be difficult to come up with something that is going to work, especially when I am feeling frustrated and she is getting more and more worked up. If I don’t have any ideas, I get worked up myself and sometimes respond angrily, which definitely doesn’t help.

First…let her know you hear her. Before trying to do or say anything else, if I remember to first say, “do you want ______?”  Depending on how upset she is, I might need to talk about it more a little bit. “Oh that sounds fun.” “Mmm, I like that too, those are yummy.” Before trying to move on to saying that we can’t have that thing or will have to wait. It helps. If I just start with a “no”, even if it’s a “not right now, but you can after dinner”, she just hears the “no” and freaks out.

Blowing out the candles. When my toddler is “totally freaking out” (as Peg would say from Peg Plus Cat), we blow out my finger candles. This really helps more than anything I’ve tried to calm her down. We do it regularly so she is familiar with it and actually asks for it sometimes. She takes deep breaths and blows out all five fingers on one hand. If she is resistant I ask her if she wants to blow out her candles instead, which she has chosen to do a few times. Or I say, “ok, I’m going to do it then.” Whenever I start to do it, she almost always says, “no no no, I going to do it!” Once she is calm I can talk to her more easily, but this isn’t guaranteed to end a problem because if I’m saying that yes she does have to take a nap, or no she can’t take that toy from her sister, or no we aren’t going to have popsicles for breakfast, the tantrum may start up again.

Whispering. I haven’t actually had a lot of luck with this. I keep trying it, but she usually just gets mad at me and hits me in the face. Toddlers can be so sweet. But it works for my husband a lot. If he just starts talking super quietly and is saying things like, “you’ll have to be calm to hear what it is I am saying,” she will (for him, anyway) calm down to hear him. I think this is a neat idea to have in your figurative back pocket, even if it doesn’t work, because it’s nice to whisper when what you really feel like doing is yelling.

Singing. Another thing that doesn’t work with my current toddler. Big Sis liked it when I sang. She really liked the Daniel Tiger songs. Like “When you feel so mad, and you want to ROAR, take a deep breath (breathe) and count to four. One. Two. Three. Four.” It worked so well for Big Sis. Little Sis just tends to get more mad and screams at me to stop singing. But every once in a while I will ask her if she wants to pick a song to sing and she’ll scream no and I’ll say, “ok I’ll choose one”, and I hear “no no no, I choose.” Haha. Do you see a pattern starting for what works with my toddler?

Identify triggers and come up with a consistent solution. One of the most common arguments in our house is over a toy. When my toddler wants what her sister has, first I remind her to calmly ask for a turn when her sister is done. That usually makes her pretty happy. Knowing she will get a turn is sometimes enough. But trying to find a great toy to play with in the meantime is helpful too. And as a preventative measure, I try to make sure that there is something for each kid if I am offering it. If Big Sis wants toast and Little Sis doesn’t, I make her some toast anyway because the odds are very good that once she sees her sister with toast, she will change her mind and want some too. Counting to ten rather than just pulling her abruptly away from something.

Choices. This, of course, is a pretty well known method for dealing with kids. Give them the power to choose between two acceptable things. Sit up in bed or lay down for quiet time? Books or toys? Light on or off? Pink or purple bowl? This works really well most of the time. But, you know, nothing works all the time with toddlers. This is a really good preventative strategy. If I am doing a good job of empowering her with choices regularly, we have less tantrums.


She didn’t want to wear a coat so I gave her the option of putting it on herself or letting me put it on. She chose to do it herself. Haha. Of course it didn’t take long for her to realize that she couldn’t play well this way and came and asked for help.

Distraction. Sometimes she is angry but hasn’t done anything wrong. Nobody needs an apology. I will just try to redirect. “I am so excited to go to the park when we are done with the store.” “I have a snack ready in the kitchen for girls who are calm.”

Humor. Figure out what makes your kid laugh and incorporate that. For my current toddler, tickling doesn’t work…it makes her more mad. But using words like “poop” or “butt” get her every time. (Yes, I am very proud, and thrilled to be sharing this with you…) So if she won’t calm down I might say, “I would really like to talk about this with you when you are done being a poop butt!” She laughs and starts down the road to being calm much more quickly. Being able to recognize that something is ridiculous and laugh about it is a great skill to have. My toddler is three now so there are times when she does something and I just say,”really?” And we both laugh. Then I talk with her about what she could do instead.  I also will act like her sometimes. Pretend screaming. In a silly way, not a mocking, shaming way. This works a lot too. She laughs and laughs and then we talk about what to do instead.

Time in/time out. Call it what you want, but the idea is to remove the angry child from the situation. Whether it means taking the toddler to sit in the car while the rest of the family finishes shopping, sitting in a special time out spot alone until she can become calm, or sitting with a parent in a quiet room and doing breathing exercises, the purpose of time outs should be to become calm and in control (and, I personally think, most often NOT for punishment.)  I find this especially useful, although challenging, if we are in a public situation where I have to hold her so she won’t run away or do the thing she shouldn’t be doing, like hurting her sister. When she gets so focused on getting out of my arms (any time I give her the opportunity to get down she starts to take off) I try to find a place to go ASAP so I can let her go but she can’t run away. A room or the car. I often take her out to our van and she calms down so much faster when I’m not forcing her to be in my arms. She will scream for a bit but she can’t get out of the van, and I’m not reacting to her, just waiting for her to be calm…so she calms down quickly and we talk. This works so much better than trying to figure things out while I’m forcing her to be held.

Consistency. Although the methods need to change sometimes, I at least am consistent with letting her know what is or is not acceptable behavior and I always expect her to apologize the same way. Once she is calm enough to apologize, it’s easy because she is used to doing it.

Be calm yourself. Although it is pretty obvious that a parent who yells, stomps, slams doors, etc. is not teaching the toddler to behave any differently, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy for us to keep our cool.  What do you need to do to get a hold of your own emotions?  Take a little time out in the bathroom.  Find something to laugh about.  Remember to make time for yourself on a regular basis.  Remind yourself that they need to be taught (over and over and over and over….) how to act, how to treat people, how to deal with their emotions.  And…

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As frustrated as parenting a crazy toddler can make me feel, when I can stop and see the humor in things, I am a much better parent. Look at this hilarious kid. I told her she could get in the bath tub. She decided that meant she could get in without taking her clothes off!

Set realistic expectations.  Read up on how children typically see the world at this age.  Of course all children are different.  But developmentally most toddler just don’t understand certain things, like compassion.  That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it with them and explain and show how important it is to think about how the things they do affect others…but don’t get too upset if it’s not sinking in very quickly.  On the other hand, don’t expect too little of them either.  I find that when I empower my kids to talk to each other and try to solve problems on their own, with my guidance, rather than me coming in and telling everyone what to do and how to share, that things go a lot better.  They feel better about the situation and about themselves and are more likely to try to do it that way again in the future.  With enough help, and with time, they can possibly start to get some things that seem too challenging for them to understand at first.


She’s not really mad here. But she’s being a stinker. I was trying to get a picture of her cute overalls and pigtails and she kept making silly faces. I like that “sassy” is on the book she’s holding. She is sassy indeed!

I will end with that.  I took forever to write this post because I kept having more thoughts and, as you might have noticed by now, I can get a little long winded.  I struggled with trying to shorten it down to a post people might actually read.  But, I didn’t end up shortening it very much.  I ended up deciding that the information is there for anyone who wants it.  Skim it and read what interests you 🙂

What about you?  Do you have a spirited child?  🙂  What do you do to help him/her to deal with big emotions?

Check out my post Life With a Toddler, if you haven’t already for more thoughts on this subject.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Life With A Toddler

This morning my toddler snuggled up to me in bed and said it was time for breakfast. We talked about what she wanted for breakfast. Rice Krispies and mangoes. So we got up, out of bed after a long night without much sleep. Rough night. I didnt feel like getting up yet, but that’s what moms do.

I got her some cereal and mangoes and sat them on the table. I gave her a spoon for her cereal and, like a slow moving zombie, turned to figure out what I should eat.

I heard a scream and a clang and turned around to find her spoon on the floor. She did not want that spoon. “Uh oh…if you want to eat, you’re going to have to pick your spoon back up.”

She pushed her food away as far as she could and screamed that she didn’t want her cereal or mangoes. Worried that she was going to spill stuff all over, I took the food away from the angry child. So of course she screamed. She wanted her food. I said that I wanted her to have her food but she needed to calm down and pick up her spoon.  She kicked her spoon and tried to grab her food.

This went on for a while. Big Sis was halfway through eating her breakfast and Little Sis kept wanting her food, not wanting her food, picking up her spoon, throwing her spoon, pushing her sister, pushing me.

Finally she sat down to eat and acted like it had never happened, laughing and singing.

About an hour and a half later…

I was sitting on the couch, doing something online. I got up for a second and Litte Sis sat down. Later I came back and she was gone and I sat there again. She screamed. So I moved some stuff so she could sit with me. She screamed. She put the stuff I had moved back. I ignored it. She screamed. She moved the stuff again and climbed on my lap. I moved my legs to be more comfortable and so she could sit on me more easily. She screamed. She tried to move my legs back the way they were. I told her I liked the way my legs were and that I would really like to snuggle. She screamed and kicked me. I stopped her from kicking me and asked her to please be sweet. She yelled that she wanted to kick. She screamed and kicked and the started to cry because she could only kick my hands and not my stomach.

Finally she grabbed a book and sat on my lap, looking at the book and laughing. She became her happy, cheerful, sweet self. As if the tantrum hadn’t even happened.

Start countdown to next episode of big toddler feelings.

Do you sometimes wonder if your child has a serious issue? OCD? Bipolar? Multiple personalities?  (Yeah, I’m only partially kidding. I know you are out there. Other moms like me who have had the thought cross your mind, if perhaps only for the briefest of moments…)

I understand. Especially when we are out and my child is the only one throwing screaming fits. Or if I’m telling someone what I think is a funny story (like the stories I just told) and someone looks at me horrified, like THEY think something is wrong with my kid. Those moments really stink.

But most likely, you (and I) just have a normal toddler. 🙂

Every kid is different.

Some kids do things like cut their hair or draw on the walls or try to give the bunny a fun ride on a spinning office chair.

Some kids feel something and react immediately without thinking. Some kids really think about things and withdraw. Some kids whine and negotiate. Some kids yell. Some kids cry dramatically about every little thing. Some kids throw themselves on the floor to kick and scream. Some kids bang their head on things.

Some kids need time alone to cool off. Some kids need breathing exercises. Some kids need hugs.

All kids have feelings they haven’t learned how to deal with yet. And hopefully they have adults in their lives who can calmly teach them what to do with those big feelings.

Sometimes I find myself just getting annoyed. Seriously, we are going to do this again? This is making my day so hard. Why can’t you just listen to me…I have told you about twenty times today not to push on your baby brother’s head like that!! And nothing gets my heart pounding and makes me as crazy as when she won’t stop screaming when the baby is sleeping.

But I try to remind myself of my job. My job is not to get mad at my kids for acting in ways that are totally natural to act at their age. My job is to teach them how they should act instead. And if my words can’t get through to them, hopefully, with time, my patience and the example that I set, will.

LIfe with a toddler is difficult, hilarious, precious, and short.  Nothing else in my life has made me want to scream and laugh and cry all at the same time the way raising a toddler has. I fail her daily as a parent. She teaches me to be better.

Want to feel not so alone? There are some pretty funny photos out there of why kids get upset. Here’s one funny list. 

Need help figuring out some ways to deal with an angry toddler? I will be addressing that in another post soon. (*edited: here is the post!)  What are some things you do with your toddler?