A Monster is Visiting Our House

With being a parent comes the fun and exciting world of “How the hell do you react to that?” moments. I’m having  a few of those lately. I mean, there’s no magical handbook to parenting that comes with your kid. It doesn’t come flying out with the placenta to say, “Here’s how to raise this kid.” and has the perfect guide to every possible situation you will encounter. If it did, I would need to read up on the chapter of “When a Monster Visits Your Toddler.”

Yesterday was a very looooooooong day. And it started as my only day off in the week. And ended with me falling asleep at 7PM, before Punky’s bedtime and getting no cuddle time at bedtime. SAD DAY.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This cute face showed up at the top of the basement steps at 6:30AM yesterday.

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I had fallen asleep around 3-3:30AM after working til midnight. I was shocked and a little disoriented to find her standing at the top of the steps. This picture is actually from a few days ago, at the top of the living room steps, but its the same effect, without the ARMFUL of babies.

According to Grammy, she came down stairs, crying from her room, about how she had a monster in her room and she was afraid. Of course, Grammy tried to comfort her and she was having none of it. Instead, she promptly went down the stairs and found our room in the basement.

She just broke my heart with her little cries of fear and she climbed into my bed and cuddled. “Mommy I cried.” “Mommy I afraid.” “Mommy there a monster in my room.”

Now, I’m a believer of all things, this includes things like ghosts and other assorted things. Yes, for a woman who’s not a religious believer, I do believe there are things that kids may or may not be able to see that we can’t see. So, while I know that monsters are a normal part of a kid’s developing brain, and it was likely just a nightmare.

To Punky, its a real thing.

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To confuse the matter, I’ve noticed in our efforts to help calm her and keep her our ever so presently sweet baby girl, we are all in the house, suggesting different things to her. Giving her many ideas about the monsters that does or doesn’t live in her room. Sometimes we tell her that there are no such thing as monsters. Sometimes we tell her that there are no monsters at this particular house. Sometimes tell her the monster just wants to be her friend. Sometimes telling her that it was a bad dream. At some points we tell her its nothing. In the end, to a two year old, I can’t imagine all the conflicting information is easy to process for her little brain.

And I struggle with what to say at all. I don’t want to discount her fears. I don’t want to tell her she’s wrong. Because to her, its was a very real experience. It was something that very much happened to her. And she was pretty darn vocal about it. I didn’t even know she knew what “being afraid” meant. I didn’t know she knew what that word was. She continues to astonish me with her language skills and the way she expresses herself.

I want her to know that its okay – that she is safe and no one is going to let anything bad happen to her. In the end, the goal for me – is not to discount her experience or if imagination is at work here, to discourage that type of creativity (albeit scary to her at the moment.)

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Its not our job to tell her what is real and what isn’t real. To her this was a very real experience. And I would never want her to think I didn’t believe her. I would like to think I could help her think through the process of determining for herself what it is this monster represents or this monster is to her. What it really means. Because – as a Mommy, I don’t know if I believe one way or another that there is a monster hanging out in her room. I’m undecided. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean its not a real thing to her.

So, I am struggling with the complex nature of the situation, and at such a rapid pace. While she was sitting on my bed, cuddling with me, telling me about the monster in her room, dried tears on her cheeks, I felt helpless. Like I was failing somehow as her mother in that moment, because what do you say? How do you respond? How do you keep her innocent and sweet and so very much content in that moment?

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I want to convey that she is safe. I want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know she can come to me when she is scared, upset, angry. I don’t want to discount her feelings. I don’t want to minimize the very real fear she had in that moment.

And perhaps not all parents think this hard about how the reaction to a real or imaginary monster, a dream or a nightmare, a spirit or a shadow is going to effect their child’s life. I do.

Its the type of parent I am. I want her to think about it, I want her to deduce her own conclusions. I want her to know I will follow her down the path she is on and we can seek the knowledge together. On all sorts of things. This monster included.

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For the time being. I am not discouraging the idea that monsters are real. I am very much open to the possibility that it is something she experienced. Dream or no dream, shadow of a stray toy on the floor or  a creak she heard in the house – it was  real to her. I don’t have the answers.

What I do have is a new identity. An identity as Mommy. And in my little girl’s eyes that means all things will be better with Mommy’s hugs and kisses. And I will always stand by that identity. The more she grows, the more I grow in that role and the more I fall down in the moment, but pick myself up after the fact. The initial response to this monster in her room was not executed as flawlessly as I would have liked. Most things aren’t when it comes to this mothering thing.

But, I feel comfortable in my decision to instead expose her to what is a possible alternative. Monsters may  or may not be around, but she is safe and there is nothing that will harm her, not while I’m around. Not while her Mama’s around.

Because in the end, I want her to be creative. I want her to use that imagination of hers and sometimes creativity and imagination can be scary. I forget that she’s two sometimes  and that doesn’t discount that she is still growing and learning. Her concept of things are still being shaped. I want her to shape them for herself. I want her to be the person she is and think about the world from her own unique perspective.

And hopefully, since last night, she went to bed with no problems. NO need to search the room for monsters I am told (remember, I passed out before bedtime) and no real issues. When she wakes up, I suppose we will see if this was just a passing thing for the day or something we will be encountering more often. I hope for the first one, so that she can go back to building mountains with her Kinetic Sand and riding her trike around the driveway in peace and monster free!

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Have you had to address this monster in the closet yet? Have you been looking under your kids’ beds for things that go bump in the night? I’m all ears on how you handle it. I am am still trying to figure out my own strategy!

18/52 – Discovering Impulse Control

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So you totally wouldn’t know it, by the super cute face in this picture…..

But, we have a hitter. A live smack ya right in the face, hitter.

And, apparently she’s been pretty aggressive at school too. According to her teacher it’s out of character for her, so it really has just started up. So, I’m not sure how we are going to handle this. Conversations are just not working.

She won’t look at you when you talk to her, she doesn’t sit still, and frankly, she says sorry for everything. I mean, I’m glad she can say she’s sorry, but it really isn’t without much meaning. She’s two for crying out loud, I don’t think she fully understands the concept.

So, she went to bed without any playtime last night, because she smacked me pretty hard on the arm and we asked her to play nice. She smacked me in the face and her Mama popped her in the butt. And then she smacked her Mama later in the face. She’s not really getting the “hands to yourself” concept.

Ugh. I was excited we didn’t have a biter. I forgot there were other kinds of twos to have. A hitter isn’t exactly on my to-do list.

The Year of 30

So, I have a few weeks until I am the big 3-0. I don’t think it has really hit me very much. I mean … not really. I joke about getting old and my knee is out of whack and I’m on a fair amount of meds. But in the end, 30 really isn’t much of anything. I guess we will see how I feel when I am actually 30. LOL.

What surprises me the most, is that my life has turned out the way it has. I thought, growing up, especially as a teenager, you were supposed to find your mate in high school, breed like rabbits, get divorced, and live forever unhappy.

And that just hasn’t happened.

Thank goodness for that!

Instead, I am spending my time with the little mini me that I have always dreamed of. I swear, our little chickadee is growing by leaps and bounds and if she doesn’t stop soon, I might just die of sadness.

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We have discovered that Miss Punky is obsessed with Batman. I have no idea how – because its not like we watch or read it. But she came home one day yelling out “Batman!” and “Fireball” that’s a new one.

She’s for real throwing fireballs at us. It pretty adorable, really.

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We had a pretty low-key weekend otherwise. I am working early every day this week, so it’s off to bed early for me. But, I just couldn’t go without sharing my most favorite pictures of this weekend.

Because let’s face it, a Batman tutu and pink converse is for sure the best fashion statement EVER.

I mean seriously. How can you not just die of absolute melting at this face? Maybe I’m biased?!

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She’s a singing fool. She knows all of “Ring Around the Rosie” and holds her own finger to turn around in circles for the song when her moms are just too tired to do it AGAIN. She does a generally interesting version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” though the hand movements are spot on.

We introduced her to American Tail this weekend. My goodness, what a spectacle she made of herself! She was just so concerned every time the mice were attacked by cats. It was both heart warming and migraine inducing at the same time – each time the cats attacked, she shrieked and covered her mouth. It was super serious!

Don't mind me, yes it's another Batman shirt, because we isn't allowed to wear the giant tutu every moment of her life, like she would like.

Don’t mind me, yes it’s another Batman shirt, because we isn’t allowed to wear the giant tutu every moment of her life, like she would like.

So, we had a nice time at the park this morning, ran into some interesting people and had some interestingly dare-devilish moves from my monkey of a daughter!

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In the end, the weekend was full of some much needed Mommy, Punky time and we had a blast. It was nice weather and like my young babygirl who is now attempting to sleep, I am also exhausted and headed to bed. Not thrilled to start the work week, but we are truckin’ along regardless!

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Psst. If you haven’t noticed, there may be a new page up top.

2013 ReCap! Favorite Highlights of 2013

With this being the last day of 2013, and its nearly 3 months until our little one is two. I thought it might be fun to recap our last year.

Here are some of the highlights in our family. The good, the bad, the absolutely ridiculous.

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JAN – Our car of nearly 8 years finally gave out and we HAD to get a new one. While our credit is super terrible, let’s not talk about it, I did score this super nice car. Payments are more than most people would want to pay, but it’s within our budget, it hasn’t had a run in with a deer yet and it will be nearly a year in our family in January. I am still in love with this car, despite the fast food bags in the floor boards.

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FEB – Punky and I found Gymboree and we had a blast. We used our free trial class to get acquainted and it was great fun while we had the open gym option. I really feel like Punky learned to walk at Gymboree, she had more room to move around and she really got her confidence there. We may not to Gymboree now, she’s just too busy for that, but I will always be thankful for some great friends I have met and made as a result of connections there as well as their help in her development.

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MAR – Miss Punky turned one this March and it came with all sorts of great things. We had a Dr. Seuss Blowout for her and there was plenty of cake pops and fun to be had. A special dress was made just for her party and her pictures were taken by my best friend for her one year birthday. She also started walking more steadily in March, when she really took off and didn’t need as much hand holding. It’s been all down hill since then in the mobile toddler department!

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APR – Punky’s first trip to the zoo. It wasn’t exactly a hit, she was still too small to enjoy the animals and know what was going on. But, it was fun to take her out of the house as a family – and spent time with our awesome friends and her godparents. She liked being carried around and looking at the birds in the aviary the most, I think. Her moms enjoyed going home to rest our toes by the end of the day!

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MAY – Punky and I joined a mom’s group which was a big step for this Mommy. I suffer from a pretty ridiculous anxiety disorder when it comes to strangers and new things outside my comfort level. Punky and I are no longer a part of that group, but we met a lot of great women and did a lot of great things together as a Mommy and Daughter hanging out. I miss that time together now, and hope we have more of it this summer.

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JUN – We started working with utensils and other food groups in June. We started with Applesauce, but well, Spaghetti O’s are just awesome and she made a great big mess with them. She does much better with a fork now, perhaps not a spoon quite yet still, but we are getting hang of it. It all started with this attempt at eating something a great deal more messy than finger foods and snacks.

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JUL – The forth of July marked the first time we put Punky’s hair in pigtails, it’s when her hairstyle really began. Since it is her signature look now and most people are just over the moon by her pigtails, it’s worth mentioning when we started this! We have since started adding barrettes and flower barrettes to add color and keep her bangs out of her eyes!

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AUG – We spent a lot of time hanging out with family and some friends with other toddlers this summer. We spent most of our time running through the fountains at City Hall downtown in our community. It was fun to watch her run through the water and touch the water. It was a great sensory activity as well as a way to keep us all cool and not melting in the hot August temps.

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SEPT – August we learned how to slide. Albiet, it was really sliding on our tummy and we haven’t mastered sitting on the butt to slide, but well, it’s more fun to slide on your belly anyway! She absolutely loves the slide now and I’d say it’s her favorite thing to do at the park. She will slide forever if I let her and she cries when we leave. It would be AOK to let her slide all day, but other kids have to wait forever, she’s so slow to turn around and get in sliding position.

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OCT – For Halloween this year, we dressed up as a family. This is the year that Punky was able to participate in some of the Halloween events and was able to eat all the candy she wanted and attend a party at her Grammy’s house and actually enjoy it. We all dressed up as Snow White, the Evil Queen, and the Mirror(not pictured). We had a great time, not only was Punky super cute, Mommy won a costume contest at work!

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NOV – November marked the month that this Mommy had to face the facts and really take the munchkin to get her hair cut. We went to our local Shear Madness Kid’s Haircutting place and it was a success. I was so sad to see her hair go and people ask if I kept a lock of her hair, but well, it would just get lost or scattered somewhere. Besides, what’s better than a billion pictures like this to remember the event.

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DEC – December was full of all sorts of greatness. 24 days of fun Christmas things and Santa related awesomeness, ended with a great Christmas full of explosions of presents, food and family. However, my most favorite highlight of December has to be the transition to the toddler bed. She has taken to it like a champ, better than I expected, but I’m not sure why I expected something less than normal for her champion sleeper! She’s just getting so big, and with the bed has come in increase of tantrums and time outs and swats on the butt, however, the big girl bed is the best part of December.

**

2013 was full of a great deal of firsts for our precious little one and our family. We found out my brother and his wife are expecting their first baby boy, can’t wait! Kim’s brother proposed to his girlfriend this summer, and we can’t wait to add her to the family!

I had a few bumps in the road, like the job front being less than ideal, being in therapy for PTSD for several reasons, and the increase in toddler tantrums and as her personality has continued to grow, the more she has tried our patience as mothers.

However, we have also celebrated our 10 year anniversary, DOMA was struck down and we started on our marriage in Iowa and set a tentative date for our wedding ceremony after our marriage.

There are a lot of dark spots in this year, but there are more tiny, beautiful shining moments in this year and I am looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store for us!

Here’s to you, my family and friends (including those mamas and mommies in blogger land). I hope you have an excellent New Year full of joy and beauty and may all your dreams come true!

Day 5: Jingle Bells Bracelet Making With Mommy

Day five was another day of M&Ms, which is becoming a very special snack for Punky. She loves those. She opened up her next envelope and immediately popped the little candy coated chocolate in her mouth.

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Notice the horse tattoo that is on her hand that is quickly disintegrating!

She helped me string the bells on an invisible jewelry line. Really she just helped me pick out the order of the bells. She just gave them to me – and I put them on the string for her.

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The more bells she gave me the bigger the bracelet got. She was really loving the jingle bell song. So I sang jingle bell Christmas carol and she started to mimic me. So every time I sang she would holler “HEY!” She let me put the bracelet on her wrist and we jingled and shook it around the living room.

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She wore the bracelet, prancing around the house with it for a good 10 minutes, I am beginning to see a pattern with my toddler’s attention span. Anyway, she took it off and Mama put it on the monster. Her favorite baby right now.

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She would shake it around and gave it to me several times, before I threw it in her room. She tore it off the monster’s neck and by the end of the night the bells were no longer strung on the bracelet and are now laying on my living room floor.

She does come by periodically and pick one up and shake it at me. Day five was pretty darn successful, she just kept in true tradition for our toddler and enjoyed it for a short period of time!

Day Four: Gingerbread Man Decorating with Moms

Day four was thwarted by the retail and Pinterest impossibilities. Originally, I was going to construct a felt Christmas tree for her, complete with ornaments, so that when we put our tree up, she won’t be as tempted to play with the real one. Of course, that’s the theory.

I looked very long for a large green piece of felt. It didn’t work, I would have to order it online and I didn’t have time to wait for the felt to come. So, instead, I was at Walmart getting some errands run and I came across some super awesome pre-made gingerbread men.

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So we had a little dinner and then set up the highchair at the dining room table and set up the decorating station. I knew going into that Peyton wouldn’t really be able to help decorate and do a ‘professional’ job. However, she did have fun helping put on the gumdrops and pretended to put icing on the cookie.

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So, she did a lot of decorating, sampling and licking her fingers. She also mimicked her Mama who was making her own gingerbread man. It was great to see my girls doing something extra fun together.

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Of course, when it came to eating the cookies, none of us really wanted to eat them. As you can see by her face, Punky was thrilled with her decorating skills and was ready to hop right in the bath after she finished.

Day Four of the Christmas Countdown was a success!

 

Can I Borrow Your Backyard?

Holy smokes, people. I didn’t really think about how much is costs to have a stupid wedding ceremony. See, I know earlier I was all “Yay Wedding!” “Yay walking down the aisle!” That was before I went to price venues for an affair such as our wedding. Are you kidding me? $2000 for like three hours? Honestly, I have the food taken care of, I don’t need a dance floor or anything fancy. I just need a place to walk down the aisle in a pretty dress and say I DO to the love of my life.

Is that really so much to ask for?

We are parents of a small child and I don’t have the cash to have even a small affair. I mean, sure we could save it up for a while, but then the wedding would never happen, because we really are the worst savers on the planet! LOL.  And, anyone who knows me personally just laughed out loud for real, hopefully you aren’t drinking anything. Sorry about your nose ….

Anyway, so I am thinking about just crashing someone’s backyard. You know, put some lawn chairs out and pay homage to my redneck roots. Here I am rolling my eyes right now. Seriously, that just won’t ever happen.

But, I suppose, eventually I will make this work. There’s got to be a nice place I can have a decent wedding ceremony and not have to give my imaginary second born child as payment. (We can’t give up the first one, they’d give her back, and we aren’t having a second one, now we’re screwed!) Heh, but really, planning a wedding is expensive!

We have a date though, in May, hopefully. I am really shooting for that, regardless of what we do. And, we will technically be getting married before that, legally, with the paper and all that signed in a month – maybe less, as soon as we get some information from Iowa on how we have to proceed. I don’t want to be driving all the way to Iowa (I know, I know it’s only 2 hours) and find out that we weren’t fully prepared.

I sent an email to the county recorder’s office there on Labor Day and haven’t heard anything yet. I figure they are busy with a lot of midwesterners with the same questions I have about same-sex marriage, since the IRS ruling that just came out. I’m sure I’m not the only one with the questions on how to do this properly. And, Iowa is the closest state we can do it when we are smack dab in the middle of the country. I swear, the midwest needs to get with the program for crying out loud.

So, we have a semi-plan for the trip to Iowa, now we just need to figure out how to make the ceremony nice and still keep it reasonable  for our pockets. It’s really going to be a frivolous expense anyway, but I am set that I will have my day to walk down the aisle. Our mothers will be able to see us stand in front of our friends and family and proclaim our love to the person we have shared the last decade with. Our fathers will have the chance to walk us down the aisle, give us away and dance at our wedding. It will happen. It will.

In other news, I’m still working the night shift, getting off at midnight. I’m still doing a fill in supervisor job in the hopes of making it permanent. Keep your fingers crossed for me, it’s a great opportunity and it’s definitely what I want to do.

And, as always, it allows me to do great things with Punky that I wouldn’t normally be able to do. K and I decided that for pictures that aren’t ‘creeper worthy’ or nude pictures and stuff that I don’t actually ever post, I am not going to password protect, because damnit, I hate doing it. So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s what we have been doing!

Over the last holiday weekend, Punky helped me cook spaghetti. She really just stirred her own pot of cold, salty noodle water and nibbled on the uncooked noodles.

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We also spent some time at Barnes and Noble for the first time with Punky. She had a nice time with their Lego display thing.

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Tuesday we went to story time at the library. I didn’t get a chance to get any pictures of her there, because the story time was too little for her and she was too busy. We may try storytime for toddlers next time.

Then today we went for a little outing to the store this morning. I am just loving the fact that she walks to the car by herself and she can hold my hand, even if she doesn’t really want to.

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She climbs up the stairs, she takes a little break and then of course, becomes distracted by things on the way, but we get there eventually. I know I have more patience than K does in this department, but we are working on it! Our little girl is getting bigger and bigger. Her half birthday is on Saturday! We will likely have a little celebration for her 18 months. I’m sure I will have pictures for you then too!

Hope everyone had a great week and has a great weekend!

 

Punky Monster is Getting Too Big, Too Fast!

So, Punky is becoming a little person. She is still not saying a whole lot of ‘whole’ words – in fact, I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s a horse. NAY. However, she is independent and pretty darn strong-willed. She knows what she wants and wants it when she wants it. Basically, she’s a toddler that wants things.

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I have heard about the terrible twos, but she’s not even quite a year and a half yet. But, true to form, this kid is all me and I am very certain my mom cursed me to have a child 10X worse than I ever was. So, Punky is starting the attitude early.

But, she she’s sweet. She’s just so darn sweet.

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I have been yearning for the moments when she will stop being so busy and sit with me. When she will just cuddle on the couch with me and watch Bubble Guppies. Or sit in my lap and dance to the Fresh Beat Band. That time has come. She snuggles now and periodically hangs out ‘near’ me for moments at a time. She’s not content to be sitting for long, before she’s tip toed across the living room another activity that strikes her fancy.

She is mimicking more and that’s promising. As soon as I can communicate the potty concept, we are going to work on getting that diaper done. We live in a small apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer. We can pay to wash clothes, which is fine, but well, it’s expensive. So, while I could do the conventional ways of putting panties on her and letting it go, I just don’t have the laundry patience for all that right now.

Punky’s hair is getting LONG. So long, in fact, that people have suggested that I get it cut. That just breaks my heart. I don’t want to do it. So, I am torn. Her hair is all in her eyes and that makes me feel guilty. But, the back of her hair is so cute with curls started and I am afraid to cut off those lovely locks. So, if I cut the bangs and not the back, she will be rockin’ a not so awesome baby mullet. Not really my idea of a good parenting choice.

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In true Punky fashion, she hates when I touch her hair, so those cute little pigtails I have been able to get into her hair? Well, it’s a battle and a pain in the ass to sit through, for both of us. Lots of squealing and hollering … not just from the toddler. So, we have come up with a small compromise.

Barrettes.

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They look adorable and it keeps her bangs out of her eyes. It’s still a battle, but only for a moment and then as long as I distract her, she forgets there’s something in her hair and she doesn’t touch them. Unless something or someone reminds her they are in there.

So, she’s still climbing and she’s still eating like a champ. I just think it’s awesome how much she is growing and it still astonishes me that we have a toddler.

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Now, if we can check eating with utensils and potty training off the list. But, I am not rushing things. I want her to stay just as small as she is now, without the attitude! 😉

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I know I am. And, now I really need to get ready to attend a Harry Potter themed wedding. This should be awesome!

Rachael