The girls’ DIY no-sew teepee

Finally, Emma’s & Bri Bri’s teepee.

The girls have actually been sleeping in this teepee since my birthday, but in keeping with my habitual inability to post content timely, I’m just now getting around to sharing this project/space with y’all. Because I just got around to photographing it a couple days ago.

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For my birthday this year I took down the girls’ bunk beds (they stopped sleeping in their beds months ago, instead opting for “sleepover” every night on the floor of their room so why not?) and gifted them a handmade no-sew teepee for their room, because I’m nice like that and like to share the joy. JK. I did this on my birthday because Shannon had to go out of town last minute(-ish) that weekend and it really fucking sucked, so I had to keep my mind busy. And obviously the best way to do that is to build a teepee. So that’s what I did.

I don’t have a sewing machine or patience, so I opted to go for a no-sew version of this project. All the tutorials made it look/sound super quick and easy. It wasn’t. IT SUCKED. This was WAY more frustrating than any tutorial online alluded to and it took me ALL. FUCKING. DAY. to get the fabric situated around the “poles” in such a way that it didn’t look like it belonged on the curb Tuesday morning for trash day.

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I took the kids to Joanns and let the girls choose one fabric each for this project. Briseis chose the small floral print and Emma, of course, chose the pink tulle. I knew the tulle wasn’t really the best choice for this project but there was no swaying Emma, so I picked out a light lime green + white chevron patterned fabric. The lime-ish color of the chevron print actually plays off the green on the leaves in the fabric Briseis chose, so it basically matches perfectly without being matchy-matchy. And as an added bonus, it also matches the wall map in their room. Because YES.

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The biggest issue I had with this project was wrapping the “poles” with the fabric in a way that seemed even remotely “right”. I was following along to this tutorial for the fabric-wrapping part (I followed this tutorial to put the frame together), but my strips of fabric kept angling themselves and bunching up and I was ending up with huge gaps all the way around and I was thisclose to throwing the fucking thing out of the window. #TRUESTORYBRO. I honestly don’t even remember how many times I took all of the fabric off and started over from the beginning, but I do know that it was a lot.

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The plus side to spending all damn day on this project and doing and re-doing it over and over is that now I have a few solid tips to share with y’all in case any of you decide to try your hand at this.

01 | Once you’ve attached your “poles” together at the top, move the teepee into position before you go any further. Seriously. Move it to exactly where the final product is going to be and then angle the bottoms of the “poles” into whatever position suits your space or preference. Also, remember that you need a front, so don’t space the “poles” evenly all the way around. Leave a wider-y-ish gap for the front.

02 | After your teepee frame is in place, start with your strips of fabric. Work from the bottom up. I began with wider strips at the bottom and used less wide strips as I moved up. I also alternated my fabrics in a fairly predictable pattern.

03 | Through countless instances of rage-laden trial-and-error I figured out that for a no-sew teepee the best way to avoid gaps and bunching and homicidal rage is to secure the bottom edge of your strip to the frame first. I began by leaving a bit of extra fabric at the end (to tuck inside the first “pole”) and then proceeded to tautly pull it around the frame, securing the bottom edges as I went. After the bottom edges were completely secured and any extra fabric on either side of the front was tucked inside that first pole, I began securing the top of the fabric strip.

To secure the top of the fabric strip I began by standing on the side of the teepee — at one side of the front — and folded the top of the fabric strip over itself at each “pole”. You can kind of see what I’m talking about in the bottom-most strip of fabric in the photo below. The tulle was more malleable than the cotton fabrics were so this start-at-the-bottom-of-the-fabric-strip-and-then-fold-over-the-top-of-the-fabric-strip technique wasn’t really necessary. And by the time I got to the top-ish of the teepee frame I was over it. OVER IT. Which is why I just gathered the fabric in back and called it a day.

This is definitely doable as a one-person job, but having another set of hands can’t hurt. Unless you’re like me and just want to get shit done the right way the first time and having “help” from someone just standing there watching you irritates you more than it doesn’t.

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04 | I used push pins for this project because I don’t have a nail gun or staple gun and didn’t really want to break out a bunch of tools for this project (i.e. I didn’t want to walk down two flights of stairs to the basement to grab the small photo frame nails and a hammer because if you know anything about me, I hate any form of exercise), and they’ve held up just fine. Even with three kids constantly playing in and around this thing.

05 | For an extra whimsical, princess-y feel we added a string of globe lights. If you do this, just make sure your kids aren’t devil children that break everything or else a string of globe lights could be big trouble. Luckily, we’ve escaped any major incidents with our globe-lights-decorated-diy-no-sew-teepee.

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Welp. There you have it. It is FAR from perfect, but it sure is pretty. And also super rad. The girls love it and its always a big hit when the neighborhood kids come over to play with Bri Bri, which means that building my kids a teepee for a bed makes me like, the coolest mom ever. I’ll take it.

The wall map is from Ikea (and was $30 cheaper when we bought it 3+ years ago); that fun little banner above the windows is Martha Stewart from Michaels (also seen here, and much cheaper at like, $7-ish bucks); and that “look at the bright side” print hanging between the windows is from this fun shop.

The Happy Closet | 02

The Happy Closet | 02 // Kelsey, Esp. blog

Over the weekend an old gym acquaintance made a comment to me that hit me hard, arguably in the “wrong” way. I’m not going to get into all of it here, because it aligns with a subject I’ve been wanting to write about more in depth and in its own post for awhile, but in that moment all of the worries and fears and stresses I’ve had recently about my body were validated. And that sucks, for both of us.

For me because body image issues blow, period. (No weird sexual innuendo/pun/imagery/whatever intended.) And for her because she has no idea that her comment affected me the way that it did, and because I know that she didn’t intend for her comment to come across the way that it did; because my mind interpreted an innocent comment she made in passing, as part of conversation, as a confirmation of all the self-hating things I’ve been telling myself — of all the negative and hurtful internal dialogue that I’ve been having with myself.

Not surprisingly, I was unpredictably short and cold with the kids and Shannon for the rest of the day and I’m pretty sure everyone noticed. The kids, because they immediately began behaving differently in response to my sudden but complete change in body language, demeanor, and mood. Shannon, because she kept insisting that she knew “something” was “up” while I insisted that I was “fine”. And so our afternoon in DC continued as such, until the second we got home and I disappeared upstairs, opened up my closet, and began cleaning it out, swiftly and ruthlessly.

The Happy Closet | 02 // Kelsey, Esp. blog

Before Saturday evening, my closet was full of clothes. Work clothes, Army clothes, casual clothes, club clothes, workout clothes, dinner party clothes, winter clothes, summer clothes, and even some sexy time clothes (heeyyy). For me, the problem has never really been one of a literal lack of things to wear. The problem has always been the lack of having anything to wear that fits my body.

I have a small frame. I always have. It’s great enough, I guess. But it isn’t problem-free. I’ve never had to worry about being “too big” for anything in my life, but I have struggled with being “big enough” for a lot of things (some of you will hate me for saying this but I even struggled to fit a size 0 pant and adult womens’ medium shirt when I was 9 months pregnant). Maybe that doesn’t sound like a problem to you, but it’s been an emotionally charged issue for me for my entire life. Being tiny isn’t without its own set of problems.

I’m almost 30 years old and I struggle to fit in adult women’s sizes, which means most of the time I’m stuck with trendy (see also: hideous and not always work appropriate) “juniors” sizes. I’m a mother to three kids and I’m small and in shape and I like to workout, and that brings its own host of criticism, judgment, and assumptions with it, like the accusations that I have a workout “problem” or that I suffer from eating disorders. Because obviously — clearly – I couldn’t possibly be this small naturally. Except that I am.

I was a late bloomer, lanky and disproportioned until I was nearly 17 years old. Then, all of a sudden, I developed curves. A little bit of hips and a whole lots of boobs. They weren’t huge, but they were big enough. I liked them pretty alright. I’d spent the entirety of my adolescence envying the bodies of other girls at school, thoroughly jealous that they could wear bras — that they had a reason to wear a real bra because they had something to safeguard and adorn with a real bra — and low cut shirts while I walked around wearing loose-fitting tops underneath even looser fitting hoodies to avoid drawing attention to a space that wasn’t supposed to be as flat as it was; to a space that was supposed to make me proud, or not not happy at the very least, instead of self-conscious and ashamed.

The Happy Closet | 02 // Kelsey, Esp. blog

I was extremely self-conscious about being a late bloomer and so when I suddenly developed my own womanly features, it was exciting. Like, really fucking thrilling. I’d always wanted a feminine body and now I had one. Finally. No more feeling horrible about myself or being made fun of for the exact reason that I already felt horrible about myself (which just made me feel even worse). I was a year away from legal adulthood and I was finally feeling like I looked more grown up. I was finally feeling like a woman. And after being made fun of my entire life for having a boyish figure and boyish hobbies and big “boy” hands and a deep voice and no boobs, feeling like a woman felt really good. A year later I had a baby – the ultimate manifestation of womanhood — and another year after that I found myself weaning my sweet baby girl from breastfeeding. And just like that the amazing boobs that I’d spent my entire adolescence waiting for, the amazing boobs that I didn’t have any time to enjoy or flaunt, were practically gone.

Two more kids and two more rounds of breastfeeding later and the amazing boobs I’d had for *maybe* a year when I was 17, were actually gone. And I mean gone. I didn’t just go down a cup size. I went down all of the cup sizes, all the way down to nothing. I went all the way down all of the cup sizes to the point where when I look at my profile in the mirror, my stomach sticks out further than my chest; my stomach, which is flat, protrudes more than my chest. THE FUCK? I went all the way down all of the cup sizes to the point where I have to rely on flow-y blouses with busy patterns or frilly collars to distract from what I don’t have. I went all the way down all of the cup sizes to the point where I live in one of two padded sports bras — even in work clothes — because not only do I not have anything left to fit in even the smallest, most structured or padded bra, but because it physically hurts to wear a real bra; because I have so little left at the bottom of my breast line/top of my rib cage that the underwire from the cup turns inward at its “corners” and the fabric at the top of the cup caves in; and because even if I’m the only one who knows I’m wearing a sports bra there’s at least an expectation — a level of acceptability — for a flattened chest, because, by nature, sports bras are restricting; they’re supposed to compress.

I had been blessed, albeit what I felt to be behind schedule, with a womanly figure that I thought was perfect and just like that it was taken away from me before I had time to fully experience it or appreciate it. I was robbed of a feature that I unequivocally define as a primal trademark of womanhood and femininity; a physical trait that, in part and at its core, differentiates female from male and comprises so much of a woman’s identity. Or maybe it’s precisely because it’s a defining trait of womanhood, of femininity, that I lack that so much of my identity is wrapped up in it; or, rather, in its absence from my body and, therefore, its absence from, and hole in, my identity. It is, to be honest, humiliating and demeaning.

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Over the years I’ve accumulated a wardrobe full of pieces that I love but that, now that I’ve had three kids and have lost any semblance of breast tone or shape, don’t fit right; that won’t ever fit right. I’ve been holding on to all these pieces out of a false hope that I will one day be able to wear MY clothes again, and out of a desperate, pathetic attempt to keep up the facade with myself. To pretend that I had endless outfit options with a closet full of clothes. To pretend that my reality wasn’t the opposite. To pretend that my reality isn’t that even though my closet was stuffed from wall to wall, I still had next to nothing to wear.

I’ve spent all these years keeping my closet full of clothes that don’t fit because I thought it would be easier to reconcile with myself than staring at a nearly empty closet that offered only a handful of pieces. I thought it was easier to hold on to them just in case, but I was wrong. Because it’s not that my clothes don’t fit because I need to lose a few pounds or cut a few inches. It’s because I would have to rebuild an anatomical structure — I would have to ADD to my body — in order for my clothes to fit again.

Changing my diet or taking a new vitamin or switching up my workout isn’t going to make me magically grow new boobs in the way it would help me lose weight or inches if I needed to. So you see, keeping all those clothes in my closet where I could see them everyday wasn’t making it better. It made it worse. It was a constant reminder of what I’m missing, of all the things I can’t wear, of all the things I don’t feel comfortable wearing, instead of being the reassurance I was trying to force it to be. 

The Happy Closet | 02 // Kelsey, Esp. blog

I hadn’t planned on cleaning my closet out yet. I didn’t wake up Saturday morning intent on getting rid of nearly 3/4 of my wardrobe. It wasn’t on any to do list. It wasn’t even on my radar. But then that comment. That comment that is totally unrelated to my “I have no boobs wah wah wah” rant here but that nonetheless triggered inside me an overwhelming need to ruthlessly and indiscriminately go through my closet, hanger by hanger, tossing aside everything I haven’t worn in half a decade; everything that awkwardly hangs off my awkward frame, even though they’re pieces I love

The Great Culling of the Closet was easier than I had expected it would be, but I think it turned out that way because I was ruthless and swift and indiscriminate; extremely ruthless and swift and indiscriminate. The only items that remain in my closet are a few pairs of works pants (maybe seven, and at least four of which are, actually, maternity pants, but that’s an entirely different story for a different day), six dresses (at least two of which I kept out strictly out of nostalgia) and four skirts, two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts, a small assortment of cardigans and blazers (none of which fit right, or well, but that I have to keep because I have to cover my tattoos at work), and a handful of extra small flow-y and patterned blouses with frilly collars that are still too big but oh-fucking-well.

At first glance it might seem foolish that I decided to get rid of nearly 3/4 of my wardrobe in one fell swoop the day after I decided to go on a spending fast (I know I haven’t mentioned that part yet, but that’s also a totally different story for another day), but I mean, really, what’s the point of holding on to things that are just a painful reminder of what once was and of what won’t be again? It isn’t healthy or cathartic.  It might seem silly to feel so much about this topic — after all, it’s not like I lost a child or a limb — but it’s something that is always on my mind; something that upsets me so profoundly every single day that I end up in tears over it; something that, nearly a decade later, I still can’t “get over”. But maybe, just maybe, I’m getting there. Because while my closet now isn’t technically anymore empty than it was before — because while it was full of stuff, it was stuff that I hadn’t worn in at least two years, stuff that doesn’t, and won’t ever again, fit – having actually physically removed all of those items has been the healthy and cathartic move. Because at least now I’m living in reality.

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Read more The Happy Closet posts.

Shannon’s birthday + anniversary mini book

A few things before we get started:

01 | I took all of these photos on the same day from the same position (and consecutively, with no breaks in between) so I have NO IDEA why the lighting is SO FUCKED. Sorry. I’m also really confused as to why everything looks super sharp in Photoshop but then ends up looking blurry and smudged after it’s uploaded online. ANYONE?!

02 | This is my first-ever attempt at doing anything like this. It didn’t turn out quite like I hoped but I don’t hate it, either.

03 | I love y’all and don’t really have an issue sharing my life online, but this album holds part of Shannon’s life, too, so you’re only getting a peek at selected pages.

Okay. Let’s get into it.

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I tend to be really passionate when it comes to gift-giving for people I hold near to me. Like, I plan out different options months in advance and once I’ve chosen “the one”, I dedicate massive amounts of time, attention, and thought to it.

Shannon’s birthday was toward the end of June, which means I’m super late posting this but that’s not really anything new. Anywayz. She was insistent that she didn’t want anything for her birthday; that she didn’t even want to acknowledge it, let alone celebrate it. I’m not big on holidays, so I get it. Except yeah-fucking-right if I’m not going to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. Especially when it was the first birthday of hers that we had an opportunity to celebrate together because it was the first birthday of hers since we became “us”. But I still wanted to respect her wish of keeping things low-key (and I wanted to respect my already stretched-so-thin-it’s-basically-broken bank account), so I decided to make her a mini book with supplies that, for the most part, I already had on hand.

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As I crept along with this project page by page I started to realize that the things I was including in the mini book — favorite photos of us and ephemera from our first year together (movie ticket stubs, concert ticket stubs, coasters from restaurants we frequent, menus, hotel room keys from Belated Birthday Weekend staycation) — were more suited for an anniversary gift.

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And when you consider that her birthday was just two weeks before our one year anniversary and the traditional gift for a first anniversary is “paper”, it made all the more sense to combine the two. Even though combining occasions into a single gift is kind of shitty (Christmas babies, you feel me?). Oh well. I fused the two ideas/gifts together into one hybrid birthday + anniversary gift. Cheap? Nah. Innovative and resourceful. Euphemisms people. And semantics. USE ‘EM.

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I cut down a 12×12 piece of hearts paper that looked more like lace (and that I’ve had on hand for years) and used it as a kind of cover page over kraft card stock, to which I affixed the “24 & 1″ wood veneers you see above. The “24″ for her birthday and the “1″ for our first year together. Not really original but hey, it works. Also, can we talk about how perfect that ampersand is?

The first few pages of the book feature cutesy and cheesy love-y dove-y things: A lucky penny that we picked up in Dupont during Belated Birthday Weekend; a days of the week 6×4 that came in a previous Studio Calico PL kit along with days of the week washi tape from SC, and lyrics to that old school “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (I Love You)” song written on it; a super cheesy quote better suited for a nursery than a mini book for an adult; a nother quote that I first saw around the time Shannon and I began dating (printed on vellum); a gold letterpress Kal Barteski 3×4 that I’d been waiting forever to use.

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After all the cheesy quotes in the beginning I started filling the pages with favorite photos of us and of things from our first year together. Champagne bottle labels, movie ticket stubs, a card from trivia night at a local pizza joint we frequent, concert ticket stubs, hotel room keys, coasters, menus, blahblahblah.

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My favorite technique for this particular project was printing directly onto vellum. I just really love the frosted see-through look it provides. I printed a few quotes/phrases onto vellum, as well as an image of a map of where we had our first date (and behind it I included a photo of the inside of the bar) and a few photos that are NSFW and not for your eyes, and used a “magic” vellum 6×4 that came in a past Studio Calico PL kit add-on.

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One of my favorite things in the mini album is a fold-out $100,000 bill (obviously VERY real) that Shannon picked up for me when she took a lunchtime field trip to the Treasury with a few coworkers earlier in the year.   I wrote a short note about how she always makes me feel like a million bucks and tucked it into the book. Cheesy, yes. But I knew she’d love it. Behind it is one of those NSFW photos printed directly onto vellum. I actually affixed it on top of a piece of sized-down 12×12 scrapbook paper that had a script “i love you” phrase repeated on it and LOVE the way it turned out.

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Keeping in mind that this was primarily meant to be a birthday gift (NOT a paper themed one year anniversary gift), I added a few handwritten “24…” lists to celebrate her 24th birthday. I tried to stay away from the cliché “24 reasons I love you” thing and did my best to be at least somewhat creative with these lists. I included serious and less serious things, as well as some tongue-in-cheek responses and inside jokes.

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Well. That’s basically it, guys. I ended the mini book with a 6×4 from a previous Studio Calico PL kit (and added a handwritten note) and a sized-down piece of paper made from a linen-y material and that had gold and silver flecks in it for the final page. And on that final page I affixed a heart-shaped patch that I picked up at Joann’s (the type of patch they sell for kids’ projects) to a couple pieces of heart-shaped pieces I cut out of scrapbook paper. I wrote a phrase that I say to Shannon All. The. Time. around the heart and called it good.

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It’s super random hodgepodge of…stuff…and things, but I think that’s what mini albums are supposed to be. Right? Please say “yes” because otherwise I did this all wrong. And that would be tragic, people. TRAGIC.

It didn’t turn out quite like I was hoping but I don’t totally hate it and Shannon LOVES it (it MAY have gotten a few tears and an emphatic “best gift EVER” label, or maybe not. TAKE YOUR GUESS, but I’m letting you know right now if you guess the latter option, YOU’RE WRONG…). And since it’s her gift, that’s all that really matters.

As for me? I’m looking forward at trying my hand at another mini book documenting Anniversary Weekend.

Weekend links | 06

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Happy Hour with a handful of the most rad friends EVER at Rooftop Bar & Grill (yes, we’re actually on the roof) to kick off Anniversary Weekend last Friday. Sorry about the sun shadow. Can’t really complain about fantastic weather soooo…deal with it. Even though it makes my teeth look WEIRD.

I have a lot of memorykeeping-y stuff planned for next week so stay tuned for photo-heavy posts of what I gifted Shannon for her birthday and for our anniversary, of our anniversary weekend staycation in the city last weekend (which — UGH — will have been TWO weekends by the time I get the damn photos up), and of some new stuff around the house. I hope y’all are prepared because when I say I have photo-heavy posts planned for next week I mean PHOTO. HEAVY.

Until then, one last post for the week full of words about some of my favorite reads from around the interwebz over the last two weeks. And links. Lots of links. Some lead to more words. Some lead to pictures. There’s something for everyone, guys. (What can I say? I’m a people pleaser.) (J-freaking-K!) (But for real, tho…)

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A family of 5 — parents and their 3 teenage-ish sons — living in 665 square feet. Could you do it?

A real life A Night at the Museum for adults. It’s happening, guys. WHERE I LIVE. And I’m distraught that it’s already sold out (not that I could’ve afforded the nearly $400 price tag, but still)!

Drones are good for something. It gets really awesome just before 1:30.

Maps are rad. And these ones are especially rad: locals and tourists, the geotagger’s world atlas, race and ethnicity.

Mashing up real-life objects with sketches is one of the coolest forms of art.

Speaking of art, I NEED THIS. And I’m not quite sure if I want it for the kids, or for myself.

Emotional baggage. It can be a bitch. Or really awesome.

This is such a neat + fun idea, and looks like a quick + easy + cheap way to add a little magic to the backyard. Not sure if the kids or I would dig this more.

Fire rainbows. IN THE SKY. Yes, they’re a real thing. And obviously I’m a fan.

Because accountability: a chart of all of the NSA revelations in the past year (as of June 2014).

I like Cornflakes. They’re pretty yum. And apparently they are also one artist’s favorite go-to medium.

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Do you guys have any fun plans for the weekend? It’s RJ’s “on” weekend at work this weekend and it’s Bri’s weekend with me so that means I have all three kiddos, all by my lonesome. And that means I haven’t even bothered making a To Do list for the next couple of days since the likelihood that exactly zero things would be crossed off of it is one billion percent. Le sigh. Stories of single(-ish) motherhood, I suppose. Catch y’all on Monday!

Teaching toddlers the two P’s of life

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The thing about toddlers is that they’re bipolar. They’re either assholes or angels, and whichever they happen to be in any given moment is, invariably, a reflection of whatever feelings they’re seemingly arbitrarily possessed by in that moment; they’re either grossly overreacting or miraculously under-reacting to something, or someone. If you’ve been lucky enough to have avoided any lengthy encounter with a toddler, let me break it down for you juuuuust a little bit:

The spectrum of emotions they go through and exhibit on the daily —  all at the slightest provocation, the source (or sense) of which may or may not be discernible to anyone other than themselves – is akin to the same spectrum of emotions you might experience when you’re shitfaced — you’re so happy! you’re so sad! your life is so fantastic! your life is a disappointing failure! everyone loves you, yaaayyy! no one likes you, waahhh!

Happy, sad. Loved, hated. Smile, cry. FOR NO FUCKING REASON! Lather, rinse, repeat.

Basically, their moods are completely unpredictable and that makes them a tiny bit terrifying. Asshole or angel. There’s no in between. You either want to punch them in the face with your fist, or with your lips.

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In our house, we have two bipolar toddlers: Emma, who is almost 4, and Madden, who turned 2 in April. Emma has *mostly* outgrown her Terrible Twos/Threes days and has progressed from incessant tantruming to incessant tattling. Madden, however. Well. He’s a different story.

At first it seemed like we might’ve lucked out with Madden. At first it seemed like we had been spared “The Terrible Twos” thing with him. But umm, NO. Not entirely, anyway. In the last couple of weeks his temper has FLARED, usually over basically nothing and sometimes over literally nothing. His go-to reaction is shrieking — and I mean shrieking — at the top of his lungs while sharply lunging his upper body forward toward whichever adult is nearby like he’s going to attack.

It’s somewhere between adorable + funny and unacceptable which means controlling our own reaction to his crazy/insane overreaction is sometimes pretty difficult. Supposedly it’s not nice to laugh at your kid but sometimes you just can’t help it. Even when you know it makes their reaction worse.

So. Our trick/approach/solution? Teaching him the two P’s: patience and politeness.

In full disclosure, I should put it out there that I suck at both of these things. Like, SUCK. I don’t think a single person who knows me IRL would describe me as patient or polite. Courteous when required, perhaps. But not polite. I have a low (see also: NO) tolerance for bullshit, which some people mistake for intentional rudeness, and I appreciate “efficient speed” — that is, when shit gets done the right way, the first time, and with a quickness. BECAUSE AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO BE WASTING.

ANYWAY.

Patience and politeness are two virtues that we’re working to instill in the kids (especially in Madden). And so far, things are going pretty alright. Throwing a fit because I’m not chopping the pineapple up quickly enough; tantruming because I gave him milk in the “wrong” cup even though it’s the cup he fucking asked for; crying and screaming because he can’t wait any longer for me to spread the jam on his pancake because OMG HE NEEDS IT RIGHT FUCKING NOW. None of that shit will get him what he wants from any of us — me, RJ, or Shannon — and he’s caught on pretty quickly (+1 for speed and efficiency, bitches).

“Patiently and politely,” we’ll calmly(-ish) remind him at random intervals until he brings it down a notch and asks, “Pineapple, please.” or “Dora cup, please.” or “Pancake. Jam. Please.” in a normal tone, at a normal volume.

It’s become a mantra around here lately, really. Even Emma has picked it up, jumping on any chance she gets to “remind” (see also: yell at) her brother, “Be quiet! Say please!”

“Patiently and politely, son”.

The child’s version of taking a step back, taking a deep breath, regrouping, and rephrasing the “question” (see also: demand). Because you know, it’s never too early to begin teaching them that patience and politeness — that approaching a situation with diplomacy and tact  — will do much more for them, and will carry them further in life , than irrational and emotional outbursts will.

After all, I’m still trying to get the hang of this one. Guess that whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing is what we’ll need to work on next. Because shouldn’t “as I say” align pretty damn closely with “as I do”? I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. But uhhh, yeah right if I lead by example on this one. Or on anything other than fruit-eating and working out. Oops.

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What about you guys? What’s your parenting obstacle/frustration/technique du jour? How do you do to keep the peace (and your sanity) in your house?

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