Monthly Archives: June 2009

More Difficult than the Terrible Twos: Picking Weeds with a Four-Year-Old

My middle daughter is nearly five years old, and I find myself praying that the Ferocious Fours will end with her upcoming birthday. I know from experience that this is unlikely, so I’m constantly looking for new ways to reconnect with her after some really trying days. Here’s a great excerpt from a Dr. Sears article, “Disciplining Bothersome Behavior: General Tips”. From this description, I would say we are in a full-blown weedy patch right now. For the full article, follow this link.

  • Feed flowers, pick weeds. The conduct of a growing child is full of undesirable and desirable behaviors — weeds and flowers. Given good nurturing, flowers grow so well you hardly notice the weeds… Sometimes the weeds grow more quickly than the flowers, and you have to pull them out before they take over. So go the behaviors of a growing child. Part of disciplining a child is to weed out those undesirables that make a child unpleasant to live with so that the desirables flourish and make the child a joy to be around.

It’s hard to explain just what is so difficult about mothering a four year old, but most parents will agree that this phase is much harder than the infamous Terrible Twos. Maybe it seems more difficult this time around with my second child simply because she has always been the easy child. She was a simple baby, a quiet and adorable toddler and has adapted well to all new phases of our lives; including preschool, a new baby and a new home. She is still quiet, but is now trying out her independence. She gets frustrated easily and does not want help from anyone. She will often do something forbidden, get caught and then claim it was an accident. Last week, when I caught her “pruning” an evergreen with my new (and very sharp… and previously well-hidden) pruning shears, she angrily exclaimed, “Well, I didn’t know you were there!” No remorse for her actions, just really angry that she got caught.

Last night at bedtime, I laid down beside her to sing one of our songs. We talked about her favorite parts of her day, but as usual, her answers were brief. In the silence that followed, I thought about all the really frustrating moments we had with each other. Suddenly, she looked right at me and stared. I could tell she was sizing me up; her face expressionless but searching. I smiled and looked into her enormous brown eyes, praying that we would connect. She finally reached a verdict and lifted her small hands to stroke my face. She tucked my hair behind my ear and smiled, then opened her arms wide to silently ask for a hug. My eyes filled with tears as I gathered her in a fierce hug. “You are so special,” I whispered. “And I am so lucky to have you.” She whispered back, “I love you, Mom, to the moon and back a million times and start all over again.”

I know she will test my patience a thousand more times (in the next year.) I’ll struggle through each day mentally chanting, “Don’t yell at her… don’t raise your voice.” But even when I do lose my cool, I know for sure that tomorrow and every day, I will make the time and effort to reconnect with the best parts of my little girl. And perhaps in doing so, she will rediscover the better parts of me.

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Posted by on June 30, 2009 in From Toddlers to Teens


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U.S. Babies and Children Allergic to Our Food Supply

I’ve just listened to a webcast on Parenting Unplugged Radio featuring Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How our food is making us sick – and what we can do about it. It sheds new light on the prevalence of allergies in our children, specifically milk allergies, and the processed, artificial food supply we subject them to. Listen here:

If you’re struggling with discovering a food allergy, intolerance or unexplained behavior in your child (such as ADD or ADHD), please look at your food supply. How many labels do you have to read to get through your dinner? How much high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, msg, hormone-laden milk or hydrogenated oils do you consume? If you’ve never thought about or checked labels, you are likely supplying your family with a toxic diet (even if you are simply breastfeeding your infant).

This is one of the most succinct and well-researched resources I’ve found on the subject of food allergies and gave me reason to pause and reflect on my own struggles with dairy intolerance in all three of my children. (Read previous post Is My Baby Allergic to Me? for common reactions.) I thought I knew it all on the subject of toxic food, but she educated me further. I’m anxious to read the book just to see what more I can learn. Check out her web site at for more information.

Oh, and here’s a funny aside if you’ve listened to the segment where Robyn describes weaning her children off of neon orange mac and cheese. I had my own experience with this when my oldest daughter was finally able to digest cow’s milk and became obsessed with the gooey orange junk. I began buying the natural mac and cheese, which is usually white or slightly yellow, and added pureed organic winter squash to beef up the orange color. She can’t taste it, gets a nice helping of beta carotene and none of the toxins associated with the red and yellow food dyes. I slowly switched to flax seed pasta and ACTUAL CHEESE (gasp!) instead of packaged powder, but continue to add squash. To this day, she has no idea and insists that I make the best mac and cheese in the world. Maybe it’s a baby step, but still one worth taking. Try it!


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New Baby? Won’t Stop Crying? Ten Easy Steps to Happiness.

Falling in love with your baby is easy, taking care of a fussy baby… not so easy. All that crying really is your baby’s way of communicating. Now, what on earth is he or she trying to say? And why didn’t anyone warn you about this before you had children? Don’t be tempted to call it colic just yet. You can discover what is wrong.

As a first-time mom, I wrote these instructions for my husband so I could take a break. He was always able to figure out our babies cries by using this as a checklist. Once your baby is on a consistent routine, you will eliminate a lot of crying and fussiness by meeting needs before they become urgent. In the meantime – when you’re at your wits end – take a deep breath and try each of these until you find the right one.

Happiness Routine (what your baby is really trying to tell you)

  1. Change my position. Or change your position; stand, bounce or sway.
  2. Burp me. Try different positions, not just on your shoulder.
  3. Feed me. If I’m really hungry, I may resist a bottle at first. Be gentle but persistent. For breastfed babies who are not used to a bottle, try a wide-mouth nipple with medium or fast flow. (Fussy babies are often fussy because we are unable to digest cow’s milk in any form; whether in mom’s diet passed through the breast milk or in dairy-based formula… please try eliminating cow’s milk.)
  4. Talk to me. Let me know you love me.
  5. Help me sleep. If I won’t look you in the eye, I may be really tired. Take me to a dark, quiet room and rock me to sleep.
  6. Hold me in the “pooping position.” When I’m semi-reclined in your lap, gently push my knees to my chest or rub my belly. Gas drops or Gripe Water may help relieve gas pains.
  7. Check my diaper. Cloth diapers may need to be changed more often than disposables, but disposables are more likely to irritate the skin. If diaper rash is severe and not related to a food allergy; try switching to cloth.
  8. See if I’m too hot or too cold. I probably don’t need a hat, jacket, booties and gloves inside the house.
  9. Swaddle me. I feel more secure when I’m wrapped snug in a blanket.
  10. Hold me. It’s what I love most, and I even produce growth hormones when held. Carry me in a sling or other carrier to make both of us happy.

You will know when you’ve been stricken with baby love. One touch of silky-soft baby skin and suddenly, your life is worth so much more. Your heart melts at the sight of one tiny grin and the weight of the world seems to lift at the sound of a contented baby sigh. Caring for a baby is exhausting, sometimes frustrating work, but baby love is fierce … and can inspire you to accomplish anything you can imagine. Keep up the great work, you really can do this, and all these challenging stages will pass before you know it. For more help setting up your routine, try

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Posted by on June 1, 2009 in The Baby Years


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