7/52 – Exploring the Ever Growing Toddler Terrorist

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We have been dealing with the early stages of the terrible twos. This includes tantrums that have been known to shriek at the top of her lungs, throwing her food on the floor and the ever popular banging her head on the floor. This has been going on since she was about 18 months old, slowly escalating to where we are today.

I’ve talked about the fact that both of Punky’s moms have some sort of diagnosed mental health issues. I have a little PTSD and Anxiety and Kim is Bipolar with a heavy dose of her own PTSD. Having a toddler thrown in the mix has been hard. Not unmanageable, but hard.

We are the type of parents who want to instill respect and manners in our child, use discipline that is appropriate for her age and her understanding. But, at the end of the day, whether you like it or not – whether people talk about it or not, I’m going to say it – the TWOS suck and she’s not even officially two for another two weeks.

The situation escalated last night when I came home and found a distraught Kim sitting in a chair with Spaghetti and Meatballs at her feet. Astonished by the amount on the floor isn’t even the most telling part. The story that Kim told me – just reinforced that we need to do something different.

Punky managed to kick her high chair tray so much and so hard that it came loose and it dumped an entire child’s bowl of food on our carpet. We aren’t a family of means, we live paycheck to paycheck, period. Now we have a very large orange stain on our carpet.

All Kim could say was “Why won’t she just eat?”

And my response, probably not the most empathetic was “She’s two.” Plain and simple. We both know it. But, frankly, rationally it’s hard to think logically when the child doesn’t think with reason or logic herself.

How do you handle a two year old who is so smart and so sweet and so full of life and on the go and then can very quickly turn into a completely different person in a matter of seconds. I know this is just the developmental stage, but it’s wearing on us. It’s wearing us very thin.

When I went to my therapist appointment today, we talked about it. I cried, I broke down a lot in that hour. I’ve been having increasingly more anxiety attacks, mostly at work – but that’s another story, and I’m finding it hard to cope at home without feeling like a terrible mother.

We are trying to steer away from spanking, I was spanked as a child and I’m sure it’s not left any damaging, lasting effects on me as an adult, but it’s just something I want to use as a last resort. It’s becoming more difficult.

She gave me some tips and I think we will be putting them to use. So far, we have talked about tackling some of the behavior by praising the good behavior more. We shower the praise when Punky has ‘learned something new’ but not really when she’s doing ‘desired behavior’. It never occurred to me to praise her when she’s not screaming at me and just playing normally in her room.

So today, Punky and I went to the store and picked out some stuff for the new sticker chart we are making, I’ll post more about the construction when I come up with the design I like. We picked out stickers with Dora and Cars and stars and all her favorite things. We picked out a ‘reward bag’ that I will introduce that has little trinkets like bracelets and candy necklaces and light up rings and all sorts of goodies for her to earn.

This afternoon, when we got home, she was in a “terrorist” state, she needed a nap for sure and for a toddler, nap time and sleep time have never really been much of an issue for Punky. She tells us when she’s tired and for the most part, goes to sleep with no problems or small bouts of crying it out. So she went to take a nap and her moms, exhausted already, took a nap as well.

When I woke up, I decided to try the method of ‘grazing’. We’ve done this all along, sort of. We give her a bag of veggie fries and she can eat them whenever she wants or she doesn’t really eat breakfast at a table or in her highchair, we just give her a finger food of some sort and call it a day.

The “grazing” method, from what I have read is all about letting her be a busy and exploratory toddler while still having snacks and foods available to her. I gather it’s all about not confining her to one place to eat. I’m not sure how it will work for dinner time, but so far she’s been receptive to the ‘snack tray’.

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I took a muffin tin that I already had in my kitchen and let her help me fill the compartments. So, I filled it with stuff we had in the kitchen already. I know some of it, like jello and fruit snacks, may not be the most healthy, but I wanted to start with familiar foods to her, that I know she will eat and move into other foods.

I put the fruit snacks in the center, surrounded by the granola bars and diced fruit, hoping to entice her with the stuff she’s never wanted to eat before.

The Apple O’s (knock-off Apple Jacks) went first and she’s found the fruit snacks and they are also gone. But, she’s also ventured into the granola bar and I’m waiting anxiously for her to pick up a banana or a pineapple.

IMG_4734When I introduced the tray, I made a point to let her fill the compartments and then tell her she could eat as much as she wanted or as little as she wanted. This was all her food and she could put it in her belly whenever she wanted.

When she comes up to the tray, which is stationed by my seat on the couch in the living room – on a table at her height level, I have been telling her “Good job!” or commenting about how “YUMMY” new foods are and stuff. So, far she’s stuck to the familiar food and perhaps when that runs out she will try something newer. In any event, I’m excited to see if this helps create a more peaceful mealtime for us and for Punky.

So far, she’s gone back and forth between the tray and her room and dancing in the living room. We have only been implementing it for approximately an hour, so I’m not saying it is a cure all, but for the time being, we are getting some sanity.

I’d be all ears for any other suggestions or tips on how we can curb some of the tantrums and eating issues we are having with the little one. I’m all about ‘ignoring bad behaviors’ but at the end of the day, I’m afraid ignoring it reinforces her to act out to get attention.

We are slowly coming up with ways to tame our toddler terrorist and I am all open for suggestions from veteran moms or moms in the same boat! Tell me what has worked for you, seriously. I’m willing to try anything.

In other news, another way we have been talking about curbing the toddler twos is to get Punky into a preschool in the area. She’s going to be 2 in early March and the place I’m looking at have a preschool program that I really like. It’s going to be a financial stretch, having to live paycheck to paycheck already, but 2 days a week will give Kim a much needed break and Punky some social skills with other kiddos. In the end, I think it will also help me – knowing I can come home from work to a peaceful, more harmonious house and family. Here’s to hoping it helps – though I’m not looking forward to sickness and germs that come with ‘school’ and ‘daycare’ in small kids, but it comes with the territory and I’m starting to think the good effects may outweigh those flaws.

Day In The Life of Punky – 22 months

The last time I did a Day In The Life was when Punky was 7 months ago. I do so love to do these. I did her daily chronology since she’s been little bitty at 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months. I love to see the changes in the daily life of our kiddo. It’s so fun to look back at them and see how much she has changed and grown.

** As always, for newer readers, please excuse the state of my cluttered, lived in home and know that time stamps are on the pictures but it doesn’t mean she’s literally doing the action from one picture to another. I usually get distracted and she gets moving faster!

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8:12 AM: We started  out in a great mood this morning.

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8:17AM: In true Punky fashion lately, her switch was flipped from happy to cranky in only a short moment. She sat on the potty while I ran her bath water. This is a normal thing for us, but she usually takes her bath at night, but we were headed to the doctor’s office this morning.

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8:22AM: She was not having the bath! She loves baths. Once again, my Punky is asserting her upset twice in the span of 10 minutes. I know – it astonishes me too!

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8:34AM: We had a short respite from anger while eating a little oatmeal pouch for breakfast, drinking milk and hanging with the Giggle Bellies.

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8:40AM: She brushed her teeth without complaint. It was great to have a small moment of good mood. Brushing teeth was her favorite time of day, along with bath, which we had a problem with bath, but yay brushing teeth!

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8:45AM: We had a small meltdown again when we tried to get her shoes on. She snatched the shoe out of my hand and tried her best to get the shoe on her foot, with no luck. She was super irritated with me, but we finally got her shoes on.

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8:57AM: Guess what, I have no idea what she was pissed about, but we got in the car and on the way to the doctor’s appointment. Another spontaneous tantrum.

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9:09AM: Exploring the doctor’s office waiting area seemed to be allow her to be less irritated. SO, she climbed all over the chairs, and it wasn’t any time before the nurse called us back.

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9:16AM: She got to sit pretty on the scale and got weighed. She was 29.7 pounds today. Then she didn’t want to get off the scale at all. I knew were were at the doctor’s office, so I let her do whatever she wanted, since she was surely going to be unhappy soon – with reason.

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9:56AM: After a quick look-see with the nurse and doctor, it was not so awesome when we learned we would have to get a ‘urine sample’. Hm. This Mommy was trying to figure out how we would accomplish this and KNOWING this wouldn’t go very well. By the time this picture was taken, she had the urine bag attached to her “no no area” with sticky stuff! She was pissed.

Then I was instructed to have her drink as much as possible. If she didn’t pee in this bag, we were going to have to give her a catheter. I was not able to take a picture to illustrate just what a train wreck attaching that bag was, but let me tell you – I most certainly wasn’t looking forward any kind of catheter situation with my sweet, temperamental toddler.

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9:57AM: And this is how well that went. For the girl who has been sucking down her sippys at record speed, she decided this was the moment, she wanted nothing to do with that cup. I did coax her to drink a bit, but it was nothing like what I was hoping for and the whole time, I was very much dreading the likely hood of a catheter.

****I have a picture of the pee in the bag, but only to show her Mama the strangeness of a bag hanging out between our kid’s legs. I’m not showing that on the blog. Rest assured, no catheter was needed and she did in fact pee in that bag, beyond all odds****

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10:02AM: This is how she felt about having that bag removed. I can’t imagine how that felt. A very ‘super sticky’ bag stuck down there and then being removed. I would feel violated too! Poor kid.

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10:06AM: She had another meltdown for a good five minutes while we waited for her pee analysis. By the time she calmed down, the doctor came back in and she freaked out again. Basically, she’s fine.

So, the doctor was concerned about her sugar levels or a UTI, given her excessive drinking and peeing and it turns out her urine is fine. She is physically fine. She’s just almost two. Which means she started the “TWOS” two months early and I suppose I’m happy that’s all it is!

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10:27AM: To make it up to her for basically wasting both our time and putting her through violation of her private areas – I took her to Smallcakes. It’s a cupcake shop. I think it was a success.

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10:57AM: When we got home, she hung out in her room, just in time to catch a little Yo Gabba Gabba and silly faces. She made that face without prompting. I think she was telling me how she felt about the procedures she had just endured this morning.

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12:16PM: I’m not sure what she did in her room up until this point. I got distracted and she was quiet. But, she came out to check on me around 1-ish and approved the new header of the blog. That I spent at least an hour on. Perhaps that’s why I was distracted!

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1:03PM: She found it very amusing to be taking a nap. Every time I end up looking at her room, it just makes me sad that she pulled her star fabric off the wall and I don’t have nails to put it back up!

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5:07AM: Punky took a good 2-3 hour nap and went back into toddler mode. I decided when it was time to do laundry, I would take her with me. She’s such a good little helper. I took her to the laundry room in our apartment complex, which took a good 15 minutes to get there, because we do have go up 2 flights of stairs and down 2 flights of stairs. The toddler likes to take her time.

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5:18PM: Just a little moment with the cat. Let’s just mention that Kitten is the most anti-social cat I have ever met in my life. She doesn’t let anyone touch her except for Kim. The entire first 2 years we had her, I wasn’t allowed to touch her at all. So, when Punky comes over and tries to mess with her, its usually bad news. But, when the kid cries, Kitten is all over it. **PS, that’s not the cat’s blog name, that’s her actual name, because Kim and I flaked on naming her.**

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7:10PM: Dinner of tortellini and garlic bread with a side of juice box and Giggle Bellies. Hence the very big smile. ALSO, she’s been eating more. Thank goodness – there for a minute, I thought we were going to have a toddler that was fueled by cookies and crackers forever!

We’ve taken to not looking her directly in the eyes during dinner time, to hopefully prolong the idea of eating things that are actually good for her. So far, if we don’t engage the beast, she eats a good portion of her dinner.

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7:38PM: I took Miss Punky back to the laundry room in our apartment building to pick up the last bit of laundry from the dryer. She loves to pull the clothes out of the dryer and put it in the basket. We had a small meltdown when Mommy’s jeans got stuck and she couldn’t pull it out. Once I pulled it to start and loosened it up, she was happy as a lark.

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8:10PM: Jumping on Mommy’s bed before bedtime. This is a normal bedtime routine since she was teeny tiny. Love it! Every night it’s something we all do as a family, tickles and jumping on the bed.

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8:32PM: And this is when our night ends. Bedtime. Laying down with monkey and her sippy. And the start of Mommy’s quiet time to take time to write this.

So, what do your kids do all day?? Have you thought about documenting their movements throughout the day? It really is pretty fun and sort of enlightening. It also shows the growth and change in her each new time I do this!

A Creative Mind Need An Outlet During Toddler Terrorist Attacks

I am very sure that I have more ideas in my head than I can possibly get out right now. If you have been reading for a while, you know I have a full time job as a customer service representative in a PBM Call Center. In my free time and usually in the evening and weekends, I also run an Etsy shop for printable invitations and decorations. I have been designing for the shop for almost a year with a great vision of making sure that parents-to-be like Kim and I had a resource to share our joy as much as straight couples.

I’ve always had some two mom invitations for baby showers, but for some reason I never thought about pregnancy announcements! Today, in a stroke of creativity, I came up with some pretty cute pregnancy announcements for the LGBT community. I only share this on my blog, because I know there are a lot of two mom households who are trying to conceive and it you are one of them, check out the link to my shop on the sidebar for discounts to blog readers.

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Click to go to shop listing

I also would love to have any suggestions or extra awesome creative ideas from the readers of this blog. I’m hoping to grow my shop to be more than a hobby. Someday, maybe it can be something more of a job, since my full time day job is getting me down lately. Just in general, it’s not challenging me and I feel pretty damn stale right now. At least this shop, my second job, my second baby – allows me to get the challenges and the creative juices flowing – the goal I have been desperately trying to get out of my day.

I just wish I could make a living on it.

I find it adorable when my daughter watches me work, from my work station on the couch from my laptop in the living room.

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In Punky news, she’s been what I like to lovingly refer to as a “Tiny Toddler Terrorist”. Literally, she’s been acting really weird. One minute she’s fine and the next minute she’s screeching for no reason at all. It’s messing with my sensibilities. Seriously. I can’t figure out what the problem is. Usually, I lay her down for a nap and she goes to sleep and it makes me think that she just wanted to lay down. She’s totally mobile, so I don’t know why she can’t just lay her little self down on her own. She climbs in and out of the bed all day, but she has to have Mommy lay her down in it to sleep.

It’s really the strangest thing ever.

She gets frustrated easily and when she gets mad about something she can’t do or can’t get to work right, she throws herself on the floor and bangs her head on the floor. There’s concrete under there, and I’m positive it hurts, though she looks at me LIKE I SLAMMED HER HEAD into the floor. For real?

All I can do is stare at her in disbelief sometimes.

She’s really so cute in public and for that I should be grateful, since frankly – most toddlers spend most of their energy being cranky and ridiculous in front of other people. It’s like an embarrassment factor that’s built in on toddlers. But, get her home and she’s a ball of “NO” and screams and throwing things around. She’s kicked the cat more times than I’m willing to admit and I have tried both time out and smacking her booty.

Neither seems to make a difference.

It seems like now is the time for the terrible twos and they have come 2 months early. She’s pretty much doing everything early. Teething, talking, colors, eating, weaning. Literally, she’s just doing everything early and I’d be ok with it, if she wasn’t being a royal pain in my ass.

And then there are cute moments, like this when she cuddles with the giant sock monkey her godparents got her.

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