Raising a Blended Family

How to Royally Piss Off Your Toddler [in five easy steps]

In case you, too, have been kept awake at night wondering how to achieve the impossible dream of pissing off your toddler. I believe I have finally perfected the method and wanted to share with all of you! So, without further ado:

1. Tell him it’s night-night time. Make sure to give him plenty of notice, such as telling him “we’re going to eat lunch, and then we’re going night-night.” “you’re done with lunch now, let’s clean you off and go night-night”. “Time to go night-night, let’s sing our night-night song”. He will scream every time you mention the word night-night. This is good! Remember, the experts say routines help toddlers learn what to expect out of their days.You want to give him plenty of time and advanced notice to get good and enraged.

2. When the time comes, bring him into his OWN ROOM to go night-night. He will be confused, and then the realization will start to hit, and he will start to Get Mad. Lay him down on his own toddler bed, and make sure to insist he stay there, even when he starts to scream at you. It’s progress! Mad means you’re doing it right. Pat his back and shush him, give him kisses and tell him you love him- it will only enrage him more.

3. Actually succeed at getting him to sleep in his own bed. This may seem counter-productive to building him up to a rage, but just wait…

4. Allow him to sleep in his own bed, wake up [after far too short a time napping], and realize he’s been bamboozled and that you actually LEFT him there, sleeping, by himself. Now the rage really begins. Enjoy the sounds of screaming and pissed-off toddler from across the house as you make your way to his room, and make sure to say [brightly] when you walk in the room: “oh, you’re awake!” like you have no idea he’s throwing a huge temper tantrum. This is sure to gain the most pissed-off response possible.

5. Add the icing on top of the cake. Since he woke up so early, so pissed, he’s clearly not ready to join the world yet. Make sure to inform him of this and tell him it’s still night-night time as you carry him back to bed. Enjoy the sounds of sweet success as your [grumpy, sleepy, highly enraged] boy tells the world exactly what he thinks of you. If you want, you can allow him to then go to sleep in your bed instead of his [guaranteed longer napping time], but for maximum toddler-enraging benefit, stick with his own bed. He’ll scream at you for it, promise.



Okay, I lied. I’m a lying McLierFace. My next post is not in a month from now, it’s now. And it’s going to be in bullet form because I have a thousand short, scattered thoughts running through my head. Don’t let the bullets fool you, some of these are doosies. Settle in.

  • First up: How does one teach one’s child to stand up for themselves? There have been a few issues and an overall building picture of Thing One being… not bullied, exactly, but picked on. Taken advantage of. “Too nice”, etc. A few years ago, one of the neighborhood girls chased Thing One down the block on her razor scooter, and Thing One came sobbing into the house, terrified. Thing One will sometimes come home and say she can’t play in certain areas of the neighborhood anymore and when asked why, she will say things like “well, Johnny down the street told me not to” (happened in both neighborhoods, both old and new). Thing One flew cross country by herself earlier this week (to go visit my mom in Cali, that’s a whole other post) and when I called her and asked her how her plane ride was, she seemed mellow. “Fine,” she responded, and I wasn’t even sure if I was talking to my kid anymore- the same kid who, mere hours earlier, had been bouncing-off-her-seat excited to take this trip solo. I pushed her for more information and she eventually told me that there had been two other solo kids on the flight, a brother and sister, and that when they all chose their seats the brother and sister made her sit in between them and took the window and aisle seats for themselves- and rotated, periodically, but never let Thing One have a turn.  How do we fix this? I blame Thing One for none of these things, obviously. It isn’t her fault that people, even children-type-people, can be mean and nasty and advantage-takers. But I wonder what would happen if, say, instead of running from the kid on the scooter, Thing One simply turned around, stood her ground, and shoved the kid off the damn thing? (kid was same size and age, by the way. I am not trying to set her up against Goliath here). Or if she told Johnny down the street exactly where he could put his imaginary boundaries, and kept playing where she wanted to play? Or told Brother and Sister to deal with it and made them sit next to each other, or better yet, picked her OWN seat on the wide open plane instead of sitting where they told her, because they told her? Who are they to TELL her?  You see where I’m going with this? Thing One is not wrong in any shape or form. If she is genuinely scared of a kid trying to mow her down on a scooter then those are her valid emotions to feel. But as a mom, I’m not sure where to draw the line between comfort and support, and gentle guidance to help her be confident enough to not be bullied. Ideally, I would just go kick all the kids’ asses myself, but we all know that’s not reasonable (I couldn’t get to those kids on the plane if I wanted to, for one thing… damn TSA) and that she needs to learn to stand up for herself. But how? How, how, how? That is what I am struggling with and if you all have any good feedback or know of any resources, I welcome them.


  • I told you this would be scattered, because, in a complete 180 degree turn, I am now going to bitch a bit (it turned into a lot) about my mother. Yep, it’s happening. Sorry. So, my mother: two things that are bothering me lately. The first one has been building for awhile.
    1. My mother has always been a very caring, compassionate woman. When I first met Shorty, and Thing One had just turned four, my mom reached out and started connecting with Thing One right from the get-go. She was adamant that she had just gained a granddaughter, loved on Thing One, bought her presents and care packages, and was basically everything I’d always imagined her to be as a grandparent. She became a grandparent the day I met Shorty and never looked back. Then, when we took in my nieces and nephews, she was the first person to reach out, call herself “grandma,” and make the kids feel loved and supported and “equal to,” rather than “less than,” Thing One and Pax in her Grandmotherly Love. Given all of this, and how wonderful she was with these kids and Thing One, imagine how excited I was to tell my mom when we got pregnant with Pax! I thought she would be over-the-moon with joy and happiness. Instead, her reaction was rather tepid… and has stayed that way ever since. I expected the initial flurry of baby gift-buying and random splurging “because it’s cute!” and that sort of thing, but it never happened. I waited a bit longer for the excitement to manifest and it never did. She does not buy him presents or toys, even when she buys Thing One things. She has never ooh’d and ahh’d over baby gear and baby outfits, even when he was teeny tiny. She has bought him exactly two Christmas presents, a book and a sleeper set. She basically doesn’t spoil him at all. Now please don’t think I am pissed because my mom isn’t buying my kid stuff. That’s not it- it isn’t about money or buying things at all, because I know my mom loves this child no matter what, baby gear or not. She loves to squeal over pictures and look at videos, and she does brag on facebook about him. However, facebook and real life are not the same thing, and she generally shows love through spending. Fact. She also has no problem spending on Thing One. More Fact. So this tepid, cool, level-headed reaction to Pax (she has told me in the past he does not “need” all that- she has never been about “need” in her entire life) is the complete opposite of the head-over-heels uncontrollable spoiling I was expecting. Also, it goes beyond material things- the “tepid” reaction is present in her attitude, too. The other day when I was on the phone with my mom, she was hanging pictures while we chatted. Out of the blue, she announced that she was holding the framed collage of Pax’s newborn pictures we’d had made for her, but that she wasn’t going to hang it up because he looked funny and a little ugly and she didn’t want it on her wall. I just sat there in shocked silence for a minute… I mean, come ON. Who says that about their grandkids? Who?! My mother, that’s who. I know all newborns look funny but I thought that being related to them, and especially having them be the first grandkid you’ve gotten to see and have from birth, on, made you obligated to think that the kid pooped rainbows and barfed butterflies, or something. Every other child in my life that HASN’T been the one I was pregnant with, she’s accepted and loved and spoiled rotten, including Thing One. I’m glad of it- Thing One deserves that kind of grandparent… but so does Pax, and he’s not getting her. I just. don’t. get it! Also, for awhile I thought I was just crazy and that maybe I was reading too much into things, until Shorty brought it up recently. She asked me what I thought of my mom’s attitude towards Pax and the floodgates opened. Shorty told me she sees it too and that it bothers her too, which is reassuring because now I know it isn’t just all in my head, but also disappointing because I was hoping that maybe it was just my imagination. Otherwise, I don’t know why my mom is acting like this. Pax certainly doesn’t deserve it.
    2. My second mother-related bitch is short compared to that first one. I mentioned earlier that Thing One flew out there to spend time with her earlier this week. I fly out next week with Pax (poor Shorty, once again, has work) to spend a few days with them and retrieve my daughter, and then we all fly home together. But it was my mom’s idea to fly Thing One out there first for about a week-and-a-half of Thing One/Grandma time, because I used to go visit my Grandma solo as a child and I loooooved it. We pitched the idea to Thing One and she almost destroyed the house with her excited bouncing-off-the-walls… so we went with it and Thing One is there now. She’s been there for a few days and this afternoon I called to find out what she’s been up to and to hear about all the fun California things she’s been doing. When I talked to my mom before the trip, she had tons of fun activities she was thinking of doing, and I just knew Thing One would have a good time. Today, though, Thing One seemed kind of down when I called. I asked her what was up and she told me she was bored and watching TV. I still didn’t get it, thought maybe she was watching TV because she was recovering from a morning full of exciting activities… but no. They didn’t do any exciting activities today. They didn’t do any yesterday, either. She has been there two and a half days and they have done precisely nothing. The most exciting thing Thing One has done has been a Costco trip with my mom. So here I am, once again flummoxed. My mom begged us to let Thing One fly out, begged us to put her on a plane solo, got super excited when we said yes… and now is sitting around doing nothing with her? What about the zoo? The beach? The sea lions? We have TV and Costco in Indi.an.a, we sure as hell don’t have a beach and sea lions! I talked to my mom and she mentioned that they were going to go see a movie after going to Costco, but that she got tired so they just went home. Same thing yesterday.  I don’t understand, except that I kind of do. See, my mom gets tired easily. She spends most of her time watching tv on the couch, with snacks. She is, by definition, a couch potato, and off the couch activity tires her quickly (I’m not being mean, by the way. I’m just trying to describe the issue here). And that’s fine. It’s her life, her cable bill, her couch. It’s not how I would choose to live but it’s also not my life BUT. But. If you invite your granddaughter out there, and you build all these expectations of “all the fun we’ll have,” and then you sit around on the couch for two full days straight, then… then it becomes my issue. I want Thing One to have a good time and it’s irritating that I have exactly zero control over that. It’s irritating that my mom is wasting the time they have together. Yes, Thing One still has about two more weeks out there but for most of that, I will be there, and everyone knows it’s not the same once Mom shows up on scene. The special part comes with one-on-one Grandma time, and that time is being wasted. I don’t get it.


  • Bullet three… I told you this was effing random. Shorty and I are dreaming, lately. Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. Of babies, of IVF, of two more pregnancies and each of us taking a turn. Of each other carrying each other’s eggs and of little tiny babies in the house again. Dreaming, but not acting. For one thing, we need to look at insurance and see what is and isn’t covered. For another, now is not the time. I need to finish school before another baby is born. Absolutely, positively, 100% need. to. finish. school.  Because, daycare, for one thing. Concentration and studying for another! Now, does that mean we can’t get HER pregnant during the later stages of my last year of school? Time it so that said baby would be born after my graduation? It’s a possibility. But now is for sure not the time and so we are dreaming. Dreaming, dreaming… I miss babies.


  • Bullet four… speaking of babies and those who are not anymore. My baby. Pax. We moved him out of his crib and into his toddler, excuse me, big boy bed yesterday. We should have done it a long time ago but we were Putting It Off, Denial Style. First we spent a good long while 150% baby-proofing his room, which also should have been done awhile ago but wasn’t.Denial is not just a river in Egypt, did you know? Baby-proofing included things like new-and-improved sliding outlet covers (those things are genius! Love them so much more than the nail-breaking curse-inducing plug in ones that I can never get off) and fastening his dresser and changing table (sadly still necessary, the potty training fairy is nowhere to be found) firmly to the walls, lest they tip over during curious toddler exercises. We took down the crib and put up the bed, added his freshly-laundered new(-to-us) toddler tonka truck bedding, and let him have at it! He loved it, promptly discovered it was fun to jump and climb on,  and even snoozed last night in it for a bit (after falling asleep on a Mom, first)… but then woke up in the middle of the night screaming and highly pissed that he wasn’t still ON a mom. Ah well. Baby steps. It is weird to not have a crib up somewhere in the house right now! First time in two years.  Sniff, sniff. Here, because you were so awesome reading my other bitching bullets, you get pictures of cuteness:
Nakedly supervising his bed being put together- because, is there any other way to supervise?

Nakedly supervising his bed being put together- because, is there any other way to supervise?



Looking pretty happy with his new addition...

Looking pretty happy with his new addition…

Big boy sleeping safe, sound and happy... for a few hours, at least.

Big boy sleeping safe, sound and happy… for a few hours, at least.

That’s about all the randomness I have to throw out there right now. So long and thanks for all the fish!

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Strange Summer

So here we are at the end of July, and I am in disbelief that summer is almost over already.* This has been one strange, wonderful, crazy summer. Nothing huge in particular has happened, but the summer has just been… strange. It hasn’t seemed like actual summer, partly because the weather has been so cool and fall-like, partly because I’ve been in classes all summer and not free to enjoy it, and partly because we have barely seen our daughter since the end of May, thanks to the joys of split parenting with Thing One’s dad. And, we just got her back yesterday and she’s leaving again tomorrow, this time to go visit my mom in California for a a few weeks. We clearly didn’t think out the scheduling of this summer all the way through! But anyways.

Among other strange things, let’s start with the fact that my wife and I are now in possession of a nine year old. a NINE YEAR OLD.  Thing One is nine whole years old. How is that even freakin’ possible?! Nine, which is just one short year from tenwewillnotevengothere, seems so old. It’s the age L was when we had her in our care, and I remember thinking at the time, when Thing One was at the nice safe age of 6 or 7, that nine seemed old. So much older. And now we are nine! She is still a young nine… very silly, very hyperactive, still young compared to her peers. She loves to talk “just to hear her head rattle,” as we will playfully remind her at times. She gets worked up, both to positive and negative emotions, very easily because she experiences life so passionately and richly in every moment. She doesn’t ever do anything halfway- whether telling us about a story, inventing a fictional playland, or just living and doing day to day activities. Her brain goes a million miles per hour, so fast I can never keep up, but it would be interesting, I think, to spend just ten minutes in her head. I’m sure conversations that seem completely random to us on the outside would be completely connected and logical if only I could see inside her head to see what the connections were. Alas, I cannot. So, all of this “youngness” is juxtaposed with outward signs of puberty beginning to happen. Bralettes scattered around the room, a certain stench when she’s been playing too hard and sweating, reminders that we will not forever be in the land of young and silly. I never thought this would happen to us but it’s happening, signs of a new era arriving. Ready or not, any of us, puberty is coming. Nine is old!

Little Miss Nine

And at the same time as nine is old, almost-two is seemingly almost-just-as-unbelievably-old. Pax is VERY almost-two these days. He gets in to EVERYTHING, (just today he grabbed my brand new very full box of cereal and dumped it all over the floor, and also played in his own poop gagme), has a temper (today he quite enjoyed hurtling toys at his sister’s head while screaming when we stopped him) and it is often a challenge (understatement, I know you understand) keeping up with him! He has become a kind-of terror when we take him out to restaurants (throwing food, screaming, etc) and so we generally don’t. He also is fearless and is usually covered in bruises from all of his bumps and scrapes (the daycare ladies, literally kidyounot CHEER when he makes it all the way to pick-up without another bruise). He has developed a pair of runner’s legs, and he will take off like a freakin’ bat out of hell whenever he gets the chance. We had a scary moment a month or so back, where he got out our front door and ran into the road outside our house before we even knew what was happening or heard the screen door slam. We ran outside to find a stranger scooping him up and holding up a hand to stop oncoming traffic! The horror of that moment has stayed with me, and it is so scary to know how fast he is and how those kinds of things can happen even when we are doing our best to prevent them. Terrifying, really. Also, we had another scary moment in the ER a few weeks back. He fell out of our back carrier and landed directly on his head on hard packed dirt. He ended up being fine, not even a concussion, but it was yet another moment in which I was terrified. He earned his first CT scan for that incident. So, needless to say, parenting a boy/parenting THIS boy is rough and requires a thicker skin than I currently possess. Working on it!  

My first CT scan:

Conversely to the crazy-toddler side, he also is still our sweet, loving, cuddly boy. He loves to read, and will bring us book after book, tell us “thank you” (I guess a little proactive thanking never hurts), and climb up into our laps (it never occurs to him we might be busy, but then again we never say no). Language is still exploding- I can’t even tell you how many words he knows now- and it is strange to sometimes hear him speak a word we didn’t teach him, and realize he learned it at daycare. The other day he kept asking “are you ready” over and over again, but I couldn’t understand him. I took a video of it and showed his daycare lady and she figured it out right away, because I guess they say “are you ready” a lot as a cue for activities to start.  So, I’m actually really glad he’s in daycare now- isn’t that funny, after all that anxiety? He usually only goes for three days a week and I think it’s good for his social skills. He does things there that he would neeeeeever dream of doing here: laying down quietly and happily to nap (there: first one to fall asleep, last one up, 3 hour naps. Here: it’s a fight to go to sleep and he’ll sleep for an hour tops), sitting at the table to eat (there:all the kids sit down to eat at the child-size table, and while he doesn’t always exactly SIT, he does stay in the general vicinity and eat. Here: he still eats in his high chair because otherwise he roams throughout the house and doesn’t eat [suggestions?].) We are nowhere near potty training, sadly, though we have the gear sitting around like maybe it will magically inspire him… maybe?

So that’s the kids.

In adult-land: my nursing program is going fabulously. I am three school days and a final away from being done with my first semester, and therefore 1/4 of the way through the program (accelerated second-degree program, remember?). It has been pretty amazing so far, though I have a certain hankering to A) get to the point in the program where I get to do clinicals in areas that really interest me (ER and OB/motherbaby, I think) and B) just be done with the program, period. And as for wifey, she is loving her job still, and gearing up for a three week (holyshit) training program down in fracking Georgia in the middle of next month. She’s really looking forward to it, while I am more in the holyshittwokidsandschoolsoloforthreeweeks mindset. I know, woe is me for those of you who do this kind of thing on a regular basis (I don’t blame you). I honestly think it would be okay except that I have some late-evening clinicals during that time that childcare could/will be an issue for. My mom is flying out to help for what she can, the first week… after that I will just have to figure it out. Insert nervous laughter here.

And finally, to round out the family updates… our dog. Sigh. She’s only 7 months old, but she’s been diagnosed with some kind of cardiac congenital issue. We don’t know details yet because we don’t have the money to pay thousands of dollars for testing. So, we’re still trying to figure out what to do. She’s got plenty of puppy energy and seems pretty healthy (outside of constant, heavy panting) until you try to walk her, or play with her. She has the hardest time breathing even with just minor exercise like fetch and will throw up and lay down just from a walk around the block. So, on the one hand, that seems like no kind of life for a puppy. She’s also been losing weight, on-again-off-again eating, and in spite of us shoving high quality dog food down her throat she’s a little skinny. Sadface. On the other hand, she seems so HAPPY and silly and young. She’s only 7 months and to have been dealt such a crappy hand in life is hard to comprehend. I can’t help but hope for the best for her. We will see where this takes us but it’s no fun for anyone involved.

Hi, my name is Denali, think healthy thoughts for me:


So, that’s us right now. I won’t lie to you, my next update probably won’t be until after Shorty’s trip to Georgia and my next semester has started back up, so I will talk to you then, friends!


*Those of you without school-age children may be scratching your heads, as well as those of you on the West coast where school starts back up at the end of August/beginning of September. But here, school starts back up for my nine year old in about two weeks and so I say… summer, it’s almost over!