How to Stop Hitting and Biting with Toddlers?

This post first showed up last year on Mumbling Mommy Blog.  I thought It would be a good one to share again, as I am missing these good old days of little tiny baby people.  Libby is now three and Portia is five...and there is less biting.


So we have this two year old.  Libby. She is already correcting our language choices and keeping us in line.  Like today at the park; we were enjoying a picnic lunch and I said to her sister Portia "Turn around and sit square in your chair, Portia!"  Libby immediately piped up, "It's not a chair Mama, it's a BENCH!"


Reeeeealllllly?  She is TWO.  Oh My.

And then there is the hitting.  Annnnnd the biting.  We are proud parents.  You know the pinnacle of toddler parenting is to have a little folk who hits or bites.  (SCORE!)

 So today she hits Portia.  Don't get me wrong, Portia probably deserved it.  She bosses and bullies Libby a bit since she is four and older.  But we do not allow it.  So I talked with Libby.  Again.  I asked her why she hits,   "Why did you hit Portia, Libby?" believing she hits when she feels frustrated or mowed over.  I was surprised by her answer.

"Because I just wanted to hit someone."  She says, sweetly.  

What do you do with that?  When your curly haired chubby cherub of a baby girl is so self assured and direct and honest?  I stifled my laugh and took her into her bedroom and had her practice hitting her pillow pet instead.  I thought that might help stop toddler hitting.  I explained it was not ok to hit people, she could use her words instead.  And if she just wanted to hit someone, I told her she could come into her room and hit a pillow.

I thought we had it figured out.  Then on the way home from the park Portia squeals from the back seat and cries huge tears, cradling her hand.  Libby bit her. 

I erupt in anger and correction and frustration.  We agree to put Libby's newest favorite Smurf toy into "toy jail" until Monday morning.  I make her bring it to me, tears rolling down her face with the gravity of the situation.  My heart aches for her, but I know she needs to learn this lesson, to feel this unhappiness.  Into toy jail goes the Smurf.

We head upstairs for nap time which I am beginning to suspect is sorely overdue today.  Libby is calm and I ask her quietly "Libby, why did you bit Portia?"  I watch her darling face as we climb the stairs side by side.  

She looks at me and says "Sometimes I just want to bite somebody!"

I look away as quickly as possible, I glance over my shoulder at my husband.  We both get it.  Oh Libby!  Sometimes I just want to bite someone too, and it is my job as your mama not to.  It is my job as your mama to teach you, train you not to act on those basic urges. I will keeping trying different things to stop toddler hitting and biting, little Libby.  But I am going to have to do it while hiding my laughter.  I understand little one, sometimes I want to bite somebody too.

I found some other great approaches from Dr. Sears and also from Love & Logic which is what we use.  How do you stop  biting or hitting with your toddlers?  

Ninja Turtle Girl and the First Day of Kindergarten

My lunches have been lonely.  I mean, Libby is there, but one on one time is different than when it was Libby and Portia and I heatedly discussing how many carrots must be consumed.  Or like today as they make up "Nut Job: The Musical" at the breakfast table, the energy is just different.  I don't exactly mind it, but I feel unsettled.  

I wasn't going to be the clingy mama.  I knew Portia would rock out her first week of Kindergarten.  I want her to be gone all day so I can start trying to do some semblance of work.  So I can get alone time with Libby before she is gone to school too.  I didn't expect the first day of Kindergarten.  Not really.  



I almost cried (BUT DIDN'T) at drop off.  I felt the wave of emotion come and I turned to my friends and said "I think I am going to cry?".  When I looked back again, Portia was gone.  She made a beeline for the front door and stood there so excited she hovered above the ground.  She was closer to the door than the school Principal who had to open it when the bell rang.  My tears receded, unshed.

At pick up I was anxious.  I paced and stood about six different places and was so eager to see Portia, to hear about school.  I wanted to make sure she could see me.  I didn't want her to feel overlooked or forgotten.  When the bell rang, she came out.  She saw me and then just gave me the 'cool wave'.  You know, the subtle, embarrassed, low and close to the body wave a mortified teenager might offer a clingy mom?  Yeah, my five year old gave me that.  And kept walking!  Not towards me.  She had her eye on some older boys heading for the buses.  The boys were playfully slinging their backpacks at each other as she watched. 


You know how you raise your kid, and you wonder what will stick when they are out in the world on their own?  I'm kind of strict.  I am proud of the way my children behave most days.  I'm a little controlling and I like nice manners.   They help around the house and all of that.  That first day of kindergarten I learned what would happen when Portia was cut loose: MAYHEM!  I watched Portia and the gleam in her eye as she followed the boys and slid her backpack off her back.  She grinned and ignored me as she tried to hit the last of the playing boys with her Ninja Turtle backpack.  


I was first embarrassed to see her hit a kid (Or try, she totally missed).  But I was also proud of my tough girl who thought playing with the big boys was on her daily plan.  I delighted in the focused, engaged intent in her eyes as she joined in their game.  She didn't act the way I wanted her too, but maybe her way was better.  I was a proud mama.  I did correct her later at home.  I reminded her that she is Portia Novak no matter where she goes and she knows the right way to behave.  She is growing. She is not at my lunch table any more, but I look forward to hearing her stories about who is.  Maybe we can sing a musical about it?

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Parenting 101: Screen Time, Your Kindergartner and You! AKA Parenting While Distracted!

This post originally appeared on Mumbling Mommy Blog as the post Parenting 101:  Are Your Dummies Making Your Kids Dumb?  After reading "Parenting While Distracted' today I knew this could use another go round.

Are you making your child fall behind in their physical and intellectual development?  We parents worry over every inch of our sweet newborn baby's development, our toddler's developing motor skills, and our preschooler's language skills.  We try and fail and try again to be our best version of a parent.  If there is one thing you could do to improve your child's chances, you would jump at it, right?  Many parents do this one thing that keeps their child from learning as fast as their peers, picking up social cues  and communication skills.  I've done it a few times but I have seen other parents do it so much I have to warn the rest of you against it.  
A letters game I didn't even realize they could play.
I underestimated their intelligence.

Facebook.  Smart phones.  Iphones.  Android.  Ipad.  HD Television.  Nook.  Games.  These things erode your child's intelligence (not to mention your own).  These days there are so many engrossing distractions from real life and laundry  it is  a wonder anyone can hold a face to face conversation for more than a moment.  Remember talking?  Remember parenting?  We are parenting while distracted.

I am preaching to myself, Lovelies, let me reassure you.  I am preaching to myself.

Last week my daughter Portia came home from school to joyfully tell me she had completed her weekly book page for school all about me.  I asked her what she said.  She said she wrote that my favorite thing was The Computer.  She said I had too much "Screen Time".
Ouch.  Whoa.  OhmyLorditistrueIhavefailed.  *AHEM*

I often spend an hour in the morning online.  Most mornings,not every, but most.    I write, I read blogs, I check two emails and two Facebooks...that alone takes thirty minutes.  My girls are three and five years old and have been raised to be independent.  I tell them "Boredom breeds creativity and builds character!"  They play well together and can usually get themselves dressed without much of my help.  Thus my morning screen time.  I also have a smart phone and use it a lot to communicate, look things up, and so forth.  While I limit their screen time to about an hour and not every day of the week, I myself loose time online quite often.  The line of productive online work and distracted rabbit trail of fun is quite blurry.  
Boredom breeds creativity!

I want to live my life.  I want to enjoy real people in front of me.  I want to take care of my house and our children so well that when my husband comes home from work he can just enjoy our life together instead of feeling like he has to pitch in.  Unfortunately many days I let work slide and gravitate to the comfy computer chair instead.  (Pinterest will ALWAYS more interesting than folding laundry or doing the dishes over and over, amiright?)

Using and enjoying technology is wonderful!  Using it too much, however, robs my little girls of all the lessons available to them about life and relationships and Things from just doing life together.  When I am online too much we are not baking together.  We are not finding a craft to do. There is a chance I could loose one of my children under that growing laundry pile.  I loose time, and smiles and I get crabby.  I may shout that "I am working!" in order to get them out of the office area.  I may not get any writing done because my daughters keep coming to me for attention.  I know how to redirect, but many times a kid should GET the attention they pester for.  It is why I am home with them.

I may also hand them a screen of their own.  NPR had a recent story about how some forms of screen time can maybe help child development.  I offer the NOOK as a treat, several times a week.  We only have one and there are only a few options on it for them, but they get excited about it.  The same with the television.  We do not have cable, we watch things through ROKU and stream Netflix.  They love watching anything on TV and because it is rare they are entranced and zombie like in their worship.   If I need an hour of quiet to write or make dinner alone, I know I can always turn on a screen for my kids.

But I don't.  

Sometimes I give up on my own screen time.  I pull up the kitchen stool and let them slop raw egg or  breadcrumbs everywhere(AKA "stirring"). Maybe I pull out toys they forgot they had from the basement.  I'll often get out the markers and scissors and let them go to town. I give them chores around the house.  

It would be easier to turn a screen on for them, but sometimes I just don't.  I want them to learn about their world hands on.  I want them to entertain themselves...even if I get interrupted.  A lot. From the Huffington Post article "Kids and TV: Watching An Extra Hour Can Harm Kindergarten Performance"  I know that letting them watch too much TV or other screen time stunts their brain development, creates addictive feelings for more stimulation and hurts our relationships.  Have you ever tried to get a little kid's attention when they are staring rapt at a screen?  It can be hard for them to get my attention too.   When I am parenting while distracted by a screen.

I know that for my children to grow up well, screen time needs to be a treat, not an on all day way to spend a life.  The pediatric community has specific guidelines on media use.  I ache when I see parents who just leave the idiot box running all day.  They are shortchanging their children's ability to relate to and grow up in a much more exciting and entertaining world.  I know that doing real life is much better for my children than passively watching fake life on a screen.  Now I simply need to remind myself.  I do not want to be a dummy.  I want to live well.

What are your beliefs, strengths, weakness and truths about screen time in your lives?  Share in the comments below.

Don't Compost That Apple: Choose Juicer or Blender for Better Green Smoothies

I might have just reused my littlest kid's cereal bowl for my eldest daughter's breakfast.  Without washing it first.  She didn't know any better but I did.  I'm sharing this so you understand I am frugal and lazy at the same time.  I juice fruits and vegetables for smoothies and I also use a blender and I get lots of questions about it so here we go:  Which is better, juicing produce in a juicer or blending it up in a blender for a smoothie?

My husband and I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead a year or two ago and really got a new appreciation for juicing our fruits and vegetables.  As an admittedly lazy mama to two little girls I had to discover the truth for myself.  The first juicing question to answer is not which is better: using a juicer or a blender (and does it have to be a $500 Vitamix blender?).  The question to ask is what do YOU mean by "better"?

Do you mean which makes tastier concoctions?  Which blends better consistency?  Which is easier to use?  Which is healthier for your body?  What is your definition of "better"?   For me I want the most bang for my organic produce  buck.  I also know whatever is easiest is what I am most likely to realistically do.  Have you ever cleaned a juicer?  Not on the fun list.
Plus when I just use my juicer there is a lot of leftover pulp, skin, and fiber that I just throw in the compost.  I did try reusing the pulp for soups or baked goods, but it was tricky and icky and didn't work well for me.  (Remember, I am lazy!)


For me, "better smoothies" meant Healthier, Easier and Frugal.
I coveted the Vitamix and the showmanship of the Costco demonstrated is breathtaking.  Do you know that thing makes hot soup too?  Alas I am not going to spend $500 on a blender, unless it washes itself too.

I have a perfectly lovely Oster glass blender and tried doing some fun things in it.  There was a smoothie recipe for an Apple Cinnamon Smoothie and the author mentioned chopping apples and tossing them in a blender.

WAIT. WHAT?

Not a VITAMIX?  A simple old blender?  I did this.  I loved this.  Turns out, a blender is ok for most smoothies if you can enjoy a thicker smoothie.  The plus is you get the satisfaction of a fuller feeling with the fiber staying in your drink and you do not waste all the skin and fiber of your organic produce by chucking it into the compost.

Here are some Beginner Green Smoothie tips to help you enjoy the healthier side of juicing or blender smoothies.  Just jump in and experiment.  I'd love to hear any tips you have for me!

1)  I have a jar I mixed up of pollen, chia seeds & ground flax seed I keep in fridge and always add 1-2 Tablespoons to my smoothies.

2) I often chop romaine lettuce, apples (with skin) and blend it with a small amount of water, then add frozen banana, maybe frozen berries etc.

3) Find a juice bar and try their concotions to learn what you want to make.  I love juicing the "Green Sea"  drink from ROOTS Juice Bar in Valparaiso, Indiana.  I took a menu & copied the Green Sea which is juiced apple, parsley,kale, lemon then blendered with avocado and sea salt. It is worth getting my juicer and blender both dirty.

4) Make enough for two days.  I always store leftovers juice & smoothie for the next day.  Drinking yummy leftovers RIGHT NOW!

5)  Glowing Green Smoothie is a favorite, and yes I just use my Oster Blender. The Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe by Kimberly Snyder | GGS Recipe

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The Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe by Kimberly Snyder ...
Kimberly Snyder, author of the Beauty Detox Solution & Beauty Detox Foods shares her famous Glowing Green Smoothie recipe, which helps to increase energy and gi...
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7)  Pinterest is a perfect start....search and find a bunch of juicing recipes and start trying them out.

For me choosing to use a blender for most of my smoothies just works the best.  I don't use a lot of recipes, I kind of just throw whatever is available into my blender and whir away.  A good green smoothie and Dorito flavored popcorn make my life pretty swell.  Now I'm on the hunt for smoothie recipe that tastes like doughnuts, then I won't have to wash a plate!


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Need Adventure? Try Geocaching, Mamas! "Pleasure Cache" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

NOTE: You can hear this on MP3 HERE.
This is an overlooked oldie post.  Hope you geocachers & geocacher wanna bes enjoy.  



Pleasure is a funny thing.   It can show up to stretch with a feline nonchalance  into unexpected moments. This morning I stretched before I got out of bed.  It was delicious.  I forget how much pleasure can be found in a slow leisurely full body stretch.  Later in this day, walking in winter sunshine with my friends was pure pleasure.  All three of us pushing our tiny people in strollers hoping they would doze in the sun and fresh air.  We had no agenda or particular destination until I suggested we go after a geocache

We are mothers.  We fill many of the stereotypes of the un-showered unkempt un-private bathroom time many people have of motherhood.  We struggle for alone time and live for naptime.  The baby’s nap, not ours.  Well usually not ours.  If we could dream and indulge in pleasures I think it would be us all alone and it would probably be quiet.  Or loud, it could be loud music that makes us smile, that makes us feel a little naughtier like when we were younger and more careless.  We would probably chat with a friend or make a craft. Most Mamas wouldn’t geocache.
Recently we cached at McCormick Creek without luck.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt for worthless things in surprising places.  I bet you there is a geocache within ten miles of your home right now.  In the Michiana area there are maybe several hundred alone.  Enough to keep you busy hunting.  They can be a puzzle where you gather information to solve it.  They can be a container as small as your fingertip or as big as a barrel hidden somewhere that cachers can find and re-hide again and again.   Geocaching.com is a great resource if you are curious and want to know more.

When I was single I would go geocaching constantly.  I would adventure out at night at all hours to be the first to find a new geocache.  I even went out in winter snow because it is easier to find something when you can follow other people’s tracks.  I spent entire days hunting for caches alone and with friends.  I found over two hundred and placed several of my own.  Now I do not geocache.  I have these two small people to lug in and out of the car.  I don’t drag my children through the woods or bushwack in brambles.   So I do not cache.  I miss it.

Until I got a smartphone I also had technological stumbles too.  But now.  OH!  Now I can turn my phone on when I have some time to kill and search out a nearby cache.  I have taken my husband and older daughter and shared the thrill of the find with them.  And today I took my mama friends geocaching.
Another post fete geocaching adventure with John:
how else would we find this random military 'museum' in Crown Point?

We pushed our strollers through mud.  We appointed one of us to watch all three strollers while the other two of us foraged.  We wandered.  We laughed.  And we found it.  A peanut butter jar geocache wrapped in camouflage tape with a log book inside to sign our names.  None of the trinkets interested us so we put it all back as we found it.  We smiled and laughed at ourselves and I think the two of them will look again for caches.  We enjoyed the unexpected fun of hidden treasure and instead of mamas with great responsibilities, we were kids again.  Kids playing in the mud, in the bushes.  The pleasure of a surprisingly warm day and a hidden treasure were ours.   And the small people in those strollers?  They were stretching and sleeping in the sun.