happiness, parenting, terrible twos, Uncategorized

Full Speed is Back

Today was our triumphant return to Tae Kwon Do. I was feeling joyful because Full Speed  has been given the greenlight to fully participate in his usual physical activities. It filled my heart up to see him back in uniform and out on that mat (he had an awesome class).

T.Puzzle, well he’s a different story. I was feeling fear, anxiety, trepidation and any other emotion or feeling that constitutes dread. I was not looking forward to him hiding under a table at the Tae Kwon Do facility wailing his distress for all of Florida to hear.

I squared my shoulders and placed a hardened veneer over my soul. I was going to be the one in charge. I put on my scariest ‘Mommy face’ and used my most frightening ‘Mommy voice’ upon our arrival. I was so intimidating that a ripple of fear went through the watching crowd of parents and fellow students. I was so on my game, I frightened myself a little.

T.Puzzle sat like an angel on the mat. He did not move a muscle. I was victorious (finally!).

Class itself played out differently. T.Puzzle lost interest about twenty minutes in and nothing the instructor could do got him to focus. Of course that Mad Dog surprised us (yippee!) and was sitting on the sidelines didn’t help matters. T.Puzzle kept looking at him and was twirling and whirling around to show off for his Dad. Twirling and whirling are not exactly fitting with a Tae Kwon Do warrior’s repertoire. He was admonished harshly by the instructor at several points. The instructor even asked me in the middle of class if T.Puzzle had been given any soda during the day. I denied it vehemently (he did not). And, I wasn’t about to tell him of the freshly emptied fruit snack wrappers on the floor of my truck.

In the end, T.Puzzle had to sit off to the side of the mat because he had reached a point of no return. He was unphased and found his reflection in the mirrors highly entertaining.pa183399

The tides of war may be shifting in my battle against the terrible twos. Even though he clearly had an army of ants in his pants during class, little brother’s level of compliance prior to the start of class was the highest its ever been.

That is the icing on my cake because big brother Full Speed is back and life is good.

children, loss of parent, mommyhood, self-discovery, terrible twos

Stinky Socks


At Full Speed’s mini-birthday celebration T.Puzzle fought tooth and nail when presented with the decorated eggless cupcakes. I wasn’t surprised. He likes to defy everything and anything that I want him to do. I didn’t fight him on it. If he didn’t want it, fine. Of course an hour later he decided he wanted it and ate the whole thing.pa183389

The next morning I woke up feeling incredibly achy from my head to the tips of my toes. At first I thought I was just old then I realized that I was coming down with something. Once the stomach distress set in (I will spare you the details) I knew that I was in for a long, long day.

As I attempted to get T.Puzzle ready for his school photo he threw a fit because I removed his socks from the night before. Heaven forbid that his Mom put on clean socks for him. I sent him screaming to his room. What. Ever.

After T.Puzzle’s drop-off (don’t ask me how I got him to school because I don’t remember) I had to take Full Speed to the Children’s Clinic. Again. Granted we are lucky to have such awesome care. Even so, I was feeling less than upbeat about another trek downtown Jacksonville (you know achy, old body and all). If you ever need to reach me and I’m not home, try the Children’s Clinic, Third Floor, Ophthalmology.

I think my life is catching up to me. The stresses of Full Speed’s surgeries and aftercare, T.Puzzle’s unrelenting terrible twoness and the ever present twinge of missing my Mom have converged on me all at once. My whole body hurts. My whole spirit hurts.

I’m in need of some rest in a major way. Unfortunately, in my line of work I haven’t accrued any vacation time. I guess that’s okay because ultimately I love my job no matter how much I might grumble at its challenges. However, I’m fairly certain my house, my personal hygiene and my overall disposition are going to be less than pleasing in the days to come. I may even forgo clean socks. T.Puzzle is on to something with that one….

children, gratitude, mommyhood, potty training, self-discovery, terrible twos

Through the Day


Our good friends down the street had a birthday party for their three year old daughter. I had to go to this party without Mad Dog because of his work commitments (I know, that’s a shocker). I have to do stuff with the boys by myself all the time so that isn’t my issue. My issue is that at birthday parties, my children lose all ability to control themselves and wind up dangerously close to clinical insanity (or maybe it’s me).

I’m not sure if it’s the new setting, the almost tangible party excitement or the fancy cupcakes that set them off. We were there for three hours and I think I had one, five minute intelligent conversation with another adult in that time frame. The rest of the time I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off meeting the needs of my children, making sure that the other children were safe from them and making sure my friends’ home and their many possessions remained unharmed. It was exhausting.

T.Puzzle of course was defiant and spewed out a few screaming ‘no!’ tantrums. He also managed to lock his teeth on his brother’s hand as they fought over some toy. As I placed him in time-out he threw himself on the floor in kinetic desperation. By the time the party was over and I corralled my boys home I was drained and openly hostile with Mad Dog (who had arrived home a few short moments before we did). My hostility multiplied when Mad Dog questioned its existence. I’m sorry but three solid hours of stress will tend to make a Mom cranky.

This evening and all its stress melted away and brought us to our morning. T.Puzzle had a dry diaper after almost twelve hours of slumber! As soon as I realized this I raced to get him to the potty. As soon as I put him down he starts protesting in screaming wails. How on earth could anyone after TWELVE hours not immediately pee when placed on a toilet? I argue with him for a couple minutes. Then I take a figurative step back and realize I don’t really want to be locked in a power struggle over the potty. Our day would start off pissy if we did. So, I give up and leave the bathroom to pick out his clothes for the day. No sooner than my foot crosses that threshold, he pees. He was being stubborn. No way was he going to pee in front of Mommy. That would make her too happy. He wasn’t having any of that.

Despite its frustrating beginning our day goes pretty well. The weather has finally shifted. It’s not the normal thousand degrees with a million percent humidity. There is an actual chill in the air. Who knows how long it will last but it is delicious.

Part of my project for this fall-like day is to make eggless cupcakes for Full Speed’s mini-birthday celebration tomorrow. I go to the bother of driving to the not-so-convenient store to get the eggless mix because I want little brother T.Puzzle to feel included. Who knows if he will even actually eat them?

Once they are baked and cooled (they smell awesome by the way), I ask Full Speed to help me decorate them. I frost them in chocolate and give him the bottle of colored, candied sprinkles. In a flash he has it open and dumps almost the entire contents on one cupcake. I lose it. Mad Dog intervenes which makes me lose it more. I’m upset that Full Speed is wasteful for sure, but ultimately I’m upset because I told him to stop when he first started the dumpage and as soon as I turn my back, he continues to dump it all on one, defenseless cupcake.

The tension subsides after the cupcakes are more or less decorated and then I offer to read a chapter of ‘Inkheart’ to Full Speed out on the lanai. He is happy to do so. We snuggle under a fluffy red, blanket and pick up the story where we left off from yesterday.

Soon we have an unexpected visitor bust through the door and jump up on the chaise with us. T.Puzzle beams a smile at us and shouts, “I BACK!” Full Speed and I crack up. I say, “Well, T.Puzzle, we didn’t even know you had left,” and the laughter continues. Then the laughter takes a life of its own and we giggle and guffaw over funny faces and who knows what else.

Sometimes the pendulum of motherhood swings in your favor, sometimes it swings against you. Your job is to hang on and coast with its motion and when the laughter of the small moments finds you, embrace it with everything you have. Sometimes that’s all a Mom gets to get her through the day.


eyesight, health, life in pictures, parenting, terrible twos


walk at the mall part twoWe went back to the outdoor mall to go on the notorious train. It was actually my idea. I know it’s shocking. Since Full Speed’s surgery we are limited to what we can do for outings. We want to avoid communal play areas because they are breeding grounds for bacteria and he isn’t allowed to jump and run as it may jeopardize the stability of his retina. A train ride seemed to be a contained and calm option. Because I was choosing to do it for Full Speed’s sake, I embraced it fully. The strangest thing happened; we ended up having a fantastic time.

We arrived before the train rides began and made our way down to a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating. The boys were well-behaved and the food was the best Mexican food I have ever ingested (I may have been slightly biased by the additional best margarita I’ve ever ingested but who knows?).

After lunch we make our way to the train (it went so much more smoothly now that we actually know its point of origin). On our way there we randomly run into the boys’ eye doctor. She spots us immediately (we are hard to miss with one kid in a taped on shield and another in glasses) and we chit-chat for a moment or two. She comments on the train (T.Puzzle at this point is jumping all over yelling, “Choo! Choo!”) and that she had never seen it before. The way she references it reminds me of a person who is at a mall to actually shop or meet with other adults for adult conversation. I vaguely remember what that used to be like (again, my memory is a bit fuzzed at the edges as I am still walking off my delicious margarita).

walk at the mall

We say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. The boys get along marvelously during the ride and Mad Dog and I are peacefully coexisting. It was virtually pain-free. The boys are doing so well they actually hold each other’s hands for a while without fighting. We reward them by going to the train table at the bookstore. We are having a perfect outing. There are a plethora of engines to choose from, no one else is utilizing the table and T.Puzzle and Full Speed have cooperatively constructed a train made of four cars. They are pushing this train in nonviolent unity. Mad Dog and I sort of forget the time and let them play at length.

We end up pushing T.Puzzle’s naptime. Even though he doesn’t always nap, some days he absolutely needs one. Today was one of those days. He does not handle the news well that it is time to leave the train table. I have to take him outside and place him in time-out. It doesn’t help that he is undeniably cute and that every passer-by stops to say ‘hi’ or comment on how sweet he is. He loves the limelight. He refuses to apologize to me which is standard procedure to get out of jail (you know the Supernanny credo and all). Mad Dog has to manhandle T.Puzzle to get him to comply and he slumps against Mad Dog’s chest in defeat.

He rallies for the ride home but it all hits the fan again when we pull in the drive-way. He refuses to enter the house. Instead, he books it as fast as he can down towards the street. Mad Dog and I collectively had to drop the hammer. Mad Dog brings him in, takes off T.Puzzle’s socks and crocs (he is steadfastly attached to both these entities) and takes away his Lightning McQueen car.

I swoop in and carry his screaming self up to his room. He wails and flails about during his diaper change. I place him in his crib and remove anything else he is attached to. He has no blankets or stuffed animals to speak of. All he has is his pillow and his thoughts as I shut the door behind me.

He tantrums on for about thirty or so minutes and finally gives into the surrender of sleep. We are thankful for the interlude of quiet. It doesn’t last long. Maybe forty or so minutes pass and we can hear him begin to whimper on the monitor. We bring him downstairs and he tries futilely to put his socks and crocs back on. We are allowing him to have them back but we are not helping him put them on. He is feeling wholly misunderstood.

His suitcase is still out by the front door from the night he spent at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s while we were getting Full Speed ready for surgery. He grabs his suitcase, leans against the door and pleads, “I go to Grandpa/Grandpa’s house (he calls Grandma, Grandpa for some reason)!”

If I had my way, he already would have been packed and gone.

I know that seems harsh but believe me, our evening with T.Puzzle did not get any easier. Does it ever get easier? Please, if you are a Mom, don’t tell me your answer. Denial and margaritas are the only things keeping me sane (slightly).

health, humor, life in pictures, mommyhood, terrible twos

I Like to Move It

Today is all about T.Puzzle. It’s his turn for some serious one-on-one time with Mommy. This special treatment is because he has been quite allergy-prone in the past. When he was eighteen months old we found out he was allergic to eggs and a couple months later learned of his severe, dog allergy (we had to remove our beloved dog, White Fluffy Dog  from our house it was so bad).

The time had come for his periodic allergy check-in at the Children’s Clinic. We arrive and Madagascar (the animated kids’ flick) is playing in the waiting room. He looks at it a nanosecond and promptly starts to sing ‘move it, move it” and shake his booty from side to side. It’s his favorite song in the whole movie. Maybe his favorite song in the whole universe the way he has committed so passionately to singing it. He also says it in two-year-old speak so it sounds more like ‘mow it, mow it’. Any way you slice it, it’s freakin’ adorable.

The nurse calls us back after a few moments and asks that T.Puzzle remove his shoes. The happy part is that Mommy had actually found his missing spidey croc so his shoes matched today. The unhappy part was that T.Puzzle was less than pleased to part with them. He was pretty miffed at the nurse for requesting such an unreasonable thing of him.

She then asks him to step up onto the scale. It’s only an inch off the floor. You would think the way T.Puzzle is teetering on it back-and-forth in fear that it was hundreds of feet from the floor. Yeah, I get that he has some depth perception issues but an inch? Really?

I can’t get him to stand still and he is fast approaching a level 7 meltdown. The nurse is not offering anything except judgment and we are getting nowhere. Eventually, there is a loud, curious noise that escapes from one of the other exam rooms. I have no idea what it was, but its sudden strangeness was enough to make T.Puzzle freeze. We were able to get his weight and cut our losses at that. The nurse didn’t feel like attempting to get his height. Five minutes with T.Puzzle in all his glory and I could tell that was more than enough for her.

We are shown to the exam room and the nurse quickly exits as if there is a fire never to return. When the doctor, who is kind and caring, arrives I warn him that T.Puzzle is two and that ‘defiance’ is his middle name. I told him that T.Puzzle’s ever changing mood might make him difficult to examine. The doctor said he could handle it (he has a three year old son who apparently puts him through the wringer, too).

I place T.Puzzle on my lap and proceed to hold my breath. I hope that whatever level tantrum he reaches at least it stays under a five.

The doctor moves in with his stethoscope and…..,

T.Puzzle let him. He let him look in his ears. He let him look in his eyes with a bright light. He even sat calm as could be when the doc tilted his head back and stuck that long, skinny looky-in-your-nose thing up of each of T.Puzzle’s tiny, tender nostrils.  T.Puzzle didn’t even bat one of his extremely long, extremely gorgeous eyelashes.

I had a realization. Not only does T.Puzzle like to play with the truth as it pertains to the details of his life, he likes to manipulate his behavior so that I am forced to do the same. He behaved like an angel because I said he was going to act like a devil. Now Mommy is the liar.

Frick, 2 – Mommy, 0