Toddlers Without Tiaras

… tales of my threenager

Adventures in Apple-picking

I'll race you!

I’ll race you!

Last week we went on a family outing to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm in Milton.. nothing is as cute as watching a wide-eyed 3-year-old running up and down the aisles while closely guarding her newly picked treasure.  We picked 5 bags before she granted us permission to stop picking (only because we promised to go and visit the animals.)

Lil Sis ... loving apple picking

Lil Sis … loving apple picking

Being a good big sister she ensured Lil’ Sis also had a few apples in her carseat. She likes to share.

4 cups of applesauce, 5 dozen muffins and 6 dozen squares later we have used half of our supply. Big Sis wants to return for more fun!

If only I was a little taller ... (oh great - I sound like my mom)

If only I was a little taller … (oh great – I sound like my mom)



Wed, September 10 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Just Happened Part 2

Flash Stickering is a growing trend in our household. You turn your back and BAM! Sneak Attack! You are stickered.

As a follow-up to last week’s post Just Happened, I bring you Just Happened Part 2.

Similar to the last post, I had left the room, this time to put something away. I thought Little Sis was safe. I had left her in her playpen. On my return I found this:

It's OK mom. I like Big Sis' work. I am a Dora fan too you know!

It’s OK mom. I like Big Sis’ work. I am a Dora fan too you know!

Note how the symmetrical placement of the Dora stickers on her cheeks, combined with the triangulation of the Dora sticker on her chest, really enhance her already adorable features. Clearly, she is much happier about this weeks stickering incident.

As I approached the playpen, I asked Big Sis if she had put the stickers on the baby. In the cutest, high-pitched voice, she said “Yes!”, giggled, and then ran away. Such a loving big sister, who just wants to share! (or should I say share??)

Sat, September 6 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Story Time

As you know, bedtimes are a challenge in our household. Big Sis thinks it is hilarious to get out of bed and creep down the stairs. Usually, after 90 minutes of this, a phone call is placed to our good friend Swiper the Fox, who reinforces why Big Sis needs to go to bed. As of late, Swiper has started to lose his effectiveness. A can see a little twinkle in her eyes when we call him. I am positive she knows he isn’t real. Her reaction is similar to that of a child who is questioning the existence of Santa, the Toothfairy, or the Easter Bunny. She isn’t sure if she believes, but she doesn’t want to admit it for fear she is wrong. (A note to all the children out there – with the exception of Swiper – they are all real! )

With summer coming to an end, I thought it was time to reinstate a more regular bedtime routine.

  • Early dinner
  • Bath
  • Teeth
  • Stories
  • Lights Out

By 7:30 p.m. I had checked off the first 3 items. I told Big Sis she could pick out 3 stories. This particular evening she selected Someday by Alison McGhee, That’s Not My Monster, by Fiona Watt, and Walt Disney’s Peter Pan.  I saved Peter Pan for last, believing this was the best book of three.

During the first 2 stories Big Sis was very excited and involved. As I read Peter Pan, I noticed an opposite reaction. She became very quiet and focused. At first I thought she was captivated; at least I did until the end of the story. As I went to tuck her in to bed, I noticed her eyes kept darting towards her window. The poor little 3-year old was concerned, and possibly afraid, that Peter Pan and Captain Hook were going to come through her window. I did what I could to reassure her they were not real … well … I did at first …

After I had tucked her in to bed, the games started again. She needed water. She needed to go to the bathroom. She wanted to see her sister.

With each excuse, the grin on her face grew larger and larger.

Finally, 2 hours later, I did it. I asked if I needed to call Swiper. She said ‘Yes’ (what a little turkey!) Then, almost simultaneously, we asked Big Sis if Swiper needed to come and read Peter Pan. She said ‘No!’ and put herself back to bed. I will admit it was a low blow, but we were desperate.

It's story time.

It’s story time.

For those who are concerned, don’t worry. Big Sis is not completely turned off of books and reading. I took this picture the next day. She set up a reading circle for her toys. While Peter Pan was not in the line-up, many other great stories, including one with Swiper the Fox were.

Sat, August 30 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Calling My Bluff … Bedtime versus Potty-Time

As you know, Big Sis is now potty-trained! We are out of diapers, and in to big girl underwear!
For those who cannot wait for this stage, just you wait! It is fantastic! Less money spent on diapers and less time spent on laundry! What else could you ask for?

However, before you get your hopes up – I must forewarn you – there are strings attached …

Before you potty-train your toddler, ask yourself:

  • Are you ready to have your life controlled by the bladder of a 3-year old?
  • Are you prepared to stop at every service station, Tim Horton’s, and rest stop, when you leave the house? Because, even though everyone went before you left the house, the second your set your cruise control a little voice from the backseat will cry “I have to go potty!!”
  • Are you prepared to call the bluff of a 3-year old, who thinks it is funny to constantly tell you she has to go pee, even though she doesn’t?

Ask yourself … even though you have already spent 50 of the past 60 minutes taking your Threenager to the restroom … do you really want to be wrong? What if this time she is telling the truth? Where is your time better spent? … 10 minutes in the Bathroom … or 90 minutes doing laundry because you didn’t believe her?

This is how I have spent the past 2 weeks. Each night we put Big Sis to bed. Each night she finds a millions reasons why she needs to get out of bed. … She’s thirsty. She needs a hug. She needs a specific doll. … At first we will humour such reasons.  Eventually Swiper the Fox* is called and she finally stays in bed.

I don't believe you - yet - I don't want to tell you I don't believe you.

I don’t believe you – yet – I don’t want to tell you I don’t believe you.

Recently, she upped her game. Using her new-found potty-trained status to her advantage, we are now spending many nights going back and forth to the bathroom … because she “Has to go!” I couldn’t help laughing. Our conversation went something like this …

Big Sis: “I have to go!”
Mom: “OK.”
Big Sis runs down the hall to the bathroom, situates herself on her ladybug potty. (Thanks Naomi for the potty.)

5 minutes later
Mom: “All done?”
Big Sis: “No. I have to go!” said with a smirk on her face.
Mom: “Oh, you have to go?”
Big Sis: “Yes.”
Mom: “Really???”

Then, in what can only be described as an oboe mating with a tuning fork, Big Sis proceeded to fake the biggest grunt, while screwing up her face and pushing on her stomach (to help get the number #2 out). Believe it or not, I was not buying it. I didn’t believe her. But … at the same time … I didn’t want to discourage her efforts on the off chance she was telling the truth. This saga continued for the better part of an hour, even the dogs put themselves to bed. Every time I questioned her, she told me she had to go. I could tell she was lying. Half the time she couldn’t keep a smirk off her face as she did it.

Well Big Sis – you’ve won this round. I didn’t want to call your Bluff.  As such, the Minions now have a 2-point lead against the ‘Rents on The Bluff Board.


* Note: Swiper the Fox is losing his effectiveness. Stay tuned for the next post Bedtime Stories … Swiper 2.0



Mon, August 25 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Just Happened

Introducing a new segment … Just Happened!

The girls were playing together in the Family Room. Little Sis in her swing. Big Sis sitting beside her, talking to her. I stepped out of the room to grab a blanket for Little Sis. When I returned I found this …

Scenario 8 ... Scenario 8 ... what did mom say I should do again?

Scenario 8 … Scenario 8 … what did mom say I should do again?

Three 3M self adhesive hook tags stuck to her forehead. Both sides removed.Thankfully Little Sis was buckled in, or she may have been hung on the wall on my return. It’s hard to say whether she intended to affix her sister to the wall though. There is something about this picture that makes me think she was considering hooking her sister up to a lie detector, or electroshock machine. Your photo captions are welcome in the comment section below.

Wed, August 20 2014 » Uncategorized » 2 Comments

Riding in cars with Toddlers

There is nothing I love more than packing up the car for a 10 hour car ride with a toddler and an infant.  I love having bags at my feet, restricting my leg room.  I love finding fishy crackers for the next 3 months in various nooks and crannies of the vehicle.  And, I love the constant questioning, asking “Are we there yet?” (can someone please explain where Big Sis even learned this phrase?)

Riding in cars with toddlers is not a new experience for me.  As the eldest in a family of five, we regularly made the trek from

How much longer until we all have flying cars?

How much longer until we all have flying cars?

Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario.  Back then, entertainment options were limited.  Each child brought a small assortment of books, dolls, action figures and dinky cars to entertain oneself for the trip.  An etch-a-sketch was considered high tech, predating the Nintendo Game Boy and Sony Walkman.  As the eldest, I had the luxury of securing one of the minivan’s captain chairs, while my brothers sat on top of each other in the back seat.

I remember how we tried to avoid even the smallest stop on the trip, especially bathroom breaks.  Now, as a parent myself, I do not envy my parents trying to juggle 5 kids under ten years of age; especially in the winter when snow suits, boots and all other winter accessories were required for rest stop visits.  At least I was a girl, and my bathroom requests resulted in a stop at the rest station.  My poor brothers were subjected to road side stops.  My dad would pull over on the shoulder of the road.  The brother in need would jump out to take care of business.  The rest of his loving siblings would shout “Free Show! Free Show!” from inside the car, while the brother in question glared back at us.

The other reality my parents often faced on our road trips was fighting. You can only travel for so long smushed into a car before the arm that was touching you suddenly becomes an elbow in the ribcage.  The pinching, pushing, and kicking soon follows.  After the required “Knock it off, or I am going to pull the car over.” and “Don’t make me turn this car around!” verbal threats, my father would sometimes reach for the Christian Hitting Stick (CHS).  He would use this to swing blindly behind him while driving.  (The downside of being the eldest, sitting in the captain’s seat is that I would often be in the line of fire. This sucked, as the trouble makers were usually in the third row, out of reach of the CHS.) For those of you unfamiliar with the CHS, it is the term my brothers and I endearingly named the ice scraper that lived in the minivan; named so for its frequent appearances on our way to Church on Sunday mornings (when my brothers liked to misbehave the most).  Don’t worry, we were not actually hurt in the process.  However, we did know to smarten up when it made its appearances.

I hope the wealth of experience acquired as a child travelling with toddlers will help me survive my own children.  For those embarking on a road trip, here are my tips to make your trip a little less chaotic.

#1.  The further you can get before the sun rises the better.  Pack the car the day before and hit the road as early as possible.  If you are really committed, drive over night.  Once the sun rises you will face by bathroom breaks, food stops, and countless children’s songs.

PB&J on demand.

PB&J on demand.

#2.  Mobile Kitchen. Eliminate unnecessary stops with a mobile kitchen.  Pack a lap pillow to use as a counter.  My favourite is PB&J on fresh bread.  It is relatively mess free.  If you forgot your knife, a stir stick will do.  Pack other mess free snacks such as raisins, minibel cheeses, and soft granola bars (avoid hard bars that will crumble, and chocolate coated bars that will melt in tiny little hands).

#3. Compact toys with few pieces.  Magnetic drawing boards, small books, new movie, sunglasses, and magnetic paper dolls are on the top of my list.

My new favourite way to contain garbage in the car.

My new favourite way to contain garbage in the car.

#4. Garbage collection!  Tried this for the first time on our recent road trip.  Use a cereal container with flap on lid to collect garbage throughout the trip.  Empty it every time you stop.   It is easier to find and easier to keep the garbage contained (versus a plastic bag which may spill).  Keep it within reach. (Thank you Marilyn Denis Show!)

#5. Accident kit. Keep an accident kit easily accessible and within reach.  Fill with zip lock bags (for car sickness), paper towels, a first aid kit, and baby wipes.

#6. Seasonal items.  In the summer, keep a bag of everyone’s swim gear and towels accessible for trips to the pool or beach, instead of packing these items in each individual’s suitcase. (Thank you Marilyn Denis Show again!)  In the winter, fill it with extra hats, mitts, and socks.  If you know you will be arriving late at night, keep a bag of pajamas, and toothbrushes.  Essentially, keep whatever you will need to access when you first arrive in one bag.  It eliminates the need to sort through all your bags, when all you want to do is relax.

For nursing or sleeping.  Also clips to your bag for easy transportation.

For nursing or sleeping. Also clips to your bag for easy transportation.

Bonus: If travelling with an infant, pack an adult size travel pillow with snap.  It is great for using as a compact breast-feeding pillow on the go, and doubles as a way to keep the baby still when napping if you worry about rolling over.  (Insert common warning that such use is not a substitute for parenting, common sense and other necessary use of good judgment.)



Fri, August 15 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

8 Signs your Newborn Needs to Learn Self Defence Skills

To all the newborn babies out there – be forewarned – you cannot trust your older siblings.  Speaking from experience (being the eldest of 5), one minute your older sibling will be hugging you and giving you soft kisses (under the watchful eye of loving parents).  The next minute you will need to run for cover.  I won’t even go in to details about why, just know, it is bad!

Unfortunately, as you are a baby, you can barely hold your head up, yet alone run for cover.  Sorry kid, you drew the short stick being the younger sibling.  While there will be advantages later in life, you will have a few years of torture ahead of you.

In my household Little Sis (Lil’ Sis) is now 4 months old.  The following outlines personal accounts I have witnessed, proving, Lil’ Sis needs to step it up and learn to defend herself.

Scenario 1
Action: You think Big Sis is going to give you a kiss.  Instead she licks your face in a slow, I’d like to nibble your cheeks fashion … while cackling.
Defence: Utilize oral biological warfare to discourage facial licking.

Needs ketchup!

Needs ketchup!

Scenario 2
Action: Big Sis walks her dollies on dog leashes.  Imagine what she will do to you??
Defence: If you find yourself alone with your Big Sis, utilize your angry scream to signal for help.

Time to walk the baby

Time to walk the baby

Scenario 3
Action: Big Sis keeps putting her dollies in her play kitchen oven, closing the door, and playing with the knobs.
Defence: Luckily you cannot walk.  However, one day you will be able.  Lesson here … if she asks you to play house, and wants to start in the kitchen, SAY NO!!

It’s getting hot in here...

It’s getting hot in here…

Scenario 4
Action: Your sister shows you how much she loves you by hugging you around the neck.
Defence: Biological warfare comes in to play again in this situation.  If you spit up, your Big Sis will not want to touch your face.

Let me show you how much I love you by hugging you around the neck.

Let me show you how much I love you by hugging you around the neck.

Scenario 5
Action: Big Sis uses guerrilla water boarding tactics when bathing her toys.
Defence: Thankfully, you will never be left alone in the bathtub with your Big Sis.  If however you do need to defend yourself, a little toot (aka biological warfare from the dark side) has been known to clear the tub.  Just go easy on your parents.  Try to keep them out of the line of fire.


Scenario 7
Action: Baby sandwich.
Defence: Just like a bear attack, it is best not to move.  Just lie still.  Hopefully she will lose interest and walk away.

Sorry.  Didn't see you there.

Sorry. Didn’t see you there.

Scenario 8
Action: Stickers.  It starts with Dora, stars, and rainbows.  You think it is cute when your Big Sis shares her stickers with you.  This is a huge RED FLAG!   Next thing you know … she has priced to sell you at a discount.
Defence: Utilize a back and forth head rotation to fend off stickering attempts.  Use the same motion during tummy time to remove the stickers.

25₵ or best offer

25₵ or best offer


Sun, August 10 2014 » Uncategorized » 1 Comment

How to hide like a Threenager!

In recent months Big Sis has mastered the art of playing hide and seek (H’nS) … Well, mastered the art from the perspective of a toddler.

When it is her turn to seek, she carefully covers her eyes, while peeking through her fingers.  She carefully counts: one, two, five, eight, nine, five, six!  When she finds you, she squeals with delight!

Her usual hiding place is behind the red couch in our family room.  My favourite part of playing hide and seek with my daughter is her lack of understanding of the game.  As I slowly count to ten, she can’t contain herself.  Usually by the time I reach nine she will jump out of her hiding spot shouting “I’m here! I’m here!”, while running to you with her arms outstretched waiting for the right moment to jump in to your arms for a hug. When it is her turn to hide she chooses 1 of 2 spots.  Either the spot that you last hid in, or the spot that she hid in last time.  The “I can’t see you, so you can’t see me” principle is always in effect.

The following outlines essential Threenager hiding tactics.

#10:  H’nS Classic: The Curtains. In this Classic H’nS move, cover your head.  Covering the lower half is not required.

The beauty of sheer curtains - Big Sis can still see you.

The beauty of sheer curtains – Big Sis can still see you.

#9: Blankets … because no one is going to notice that lump on the couch! Similar to the curtains, enhance this move by allowing tiny piggy toes to peek out the bottom of the blanket.  As a side note, remember, hydration is key, especially when hiding under blankets for extended periods of time (you know … 15-20 seconds).  Ensure Threenager has access to a sippy cup.

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

Oh wait!  She is under there.  Hide and Seek is tiring - time for a refreshment break.

Oh wait! She is under there. Hide and Seek is tiring – time for a refreshment break.







#8: Group Sport … H’nS is always more fun with a friend. Cousin’s, Nana’s and dogs add to the fun.  I would never have expected to find multiple people hiding in a large box in my entrance (especially when the box was moving and giggling).

Not just for singles. Hide and Seek is a group sport too!

It's always better with a friend.

It’s always better with a friend.








#7: Out pops the Weasel!  No need to wait for a 10 count.  You can pop out any time, screaming “I’m here! I’m here!” … and then continue to use the same hiding spot for the next 5 rounds.

I'm here! I'm here!

I’m here! I’m here!

#6: Blend … just blend. When you are in a hurry, just drop to the ground, lie motionless, and try to blend in.  Contrasting patterns will throw the searcher off course.



#5: Inanimate objects with lifelike features. While some people may think poles with ponytails is a giveaway – well – they’re just wrong.  This is another classic Threenager hiding tactic.  Don’t knock it.

Anyone else find it odd that the post has a ponytail?

Anyone else find it odd that the post has a ponytail?

#4: If you are off the ground, wrapped in a hammock … no one will find you. Just because you can see through the hammock doesn’t mean this is not a legitimate hiding spot.  The open space under the hammock provides an optical illusion, distracting the searcher from finding the hiders.

Cocoon - the movie brought to life.

Cocoon – the movie brought to life.

 #3: Look away and no one will see you. Hiding spots don’t need to have four sides, especially when you can look away from the main opening.

Look away ... just look away

Look away … just look away

 #2: Mobile Hiding Unit. This is perfect for hiding on the go.  Especially in stores, when your ‘rents want to ensure you are safe.  It provides the necessary level of panic and humour, depending on the day, and whether or not you notice the Threenager disappear.

Unfortunately ... the giggling buggy is a bit of a give-away

Unfortunately … the giggling buggy is a bit of a give-away

 #1: The Rubbermaid. A newer move, and my personal favourite.  Your Threenager can use this anytime.  In my household it tends to come out at times when you weren’t even aware you were playing H’nS.  Sometimes you need to ask for clarification.  H’nS always works better when the Threenager has to explain that she is hiding from you.

This spot works well both for Hide and Seek and for avoiding bedtime.  It's like she is a cameleon.

This spot works well both for Hide and Seek and for avoiding bedtime. It’s like she is a chameleon.

Tue, August 5 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

You want me to what?

Last week we had an unexpected trip to the Doctor’s Office.  Big Sis told us it hurt to go to the bathroom and would cry when she tried.  Panic set in.  What is she has a UTI?  (I also questioned why her visits to the Doctor always seem to coincide with my plans to visit friends on the weekend.)

The Nurse recommended we pump her full of fluids and make our way over to the office immediately.  Upon our arrival the Nurse handed me a cup and asked me to collect my Threenager’s urine … midstream.  Yeah … that’s going to happen!  If I manage to get the 3-year-old on to the potty, and I manage to convince her to pee in a cup, I’m going to wait for the midstream urine?

Big Sis willingly follows me into the bathroom.  The Nurse asks me if I want gloves. I declined.  After a year in which my daughter frequently slipped in her own pee, covering herself head-to-toe during her 12 month Potty Training adventure, gloves hardly seemed necessary.

You want me to what? That is so not happening ...

You want me to what?
That is so not happening …

We were on track – or at least we were on track until we closed the door.  I am surprised my Doctor didn’t call the Social Worker after hearing my daughter’s blood curdling screams from the bathroom.  It was hard enough to keep her on the toilet, let alone, trying to keep her on the toilet while holding a cup in the ready position.  After 2 minutes I gave up.  We returned to the waiting room, avoided making eye contact with the other patients in the waiting room, and continued to pump her full fluids.

Next up was Nana.  My daughter informed me that I was to stay put.  My mom gave me the “I’ve got this!” look.  One minute later they return.  Once again no luck.  (Secretly I was relieved.  Nana was a little too confident.  I feared I would have to live in her potty whisperer shadow if she had succeeded.)

We wait another 30 minutes.  By this time Big Sis has consumed almost 2 full water bottles. – She is 3.  Her bladder can’t be that big.  I know our time is close. –  I take her again.  I try holding her on the toilet, turning her sideways, promising her I will buy her any toy she wants … I was desperate!  Once again I fail and this time the screams are getting louder.  I’ve done all I can.  Back out to the waiting room!

Next the Nurse enters the room.  She is lovely.  She offers Big Sis Lollipops and Stickers if she will go to the bathroom.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?  I was willing to buy this kid a horse and she wouldn’t budge.  But for the Nurse – well that’s a different story.  Big Sis practically runs to the bathroom, does her  business, and returns to the lobby.  She collects her reward of 2 lollipops and 2 stickers and we go on our way. (Admittedly, I did not wait for the midstream.)

Good news, in the end she was OK. I hope I never have to go through that again – but I sense that is just wishful thinking.  I’m sure this is just the beginning of bizarre requests and untimely Doctor visits.

Wed, July 30 2014 » Doctor Visits, Potty Training » No Comments

No! Get out!

As a follow-up to The Extremely Unpopular 12 Month Potty Training Method my daughter has recently started asking for privacy in the bathroom. This is amusing given my daughter and niece provided anything but this when I am in the bathroom. Worse, they giggle hysterically, when I ask them to leave.

Look mom! I found a new toy!

Look mom! I found a new toy!

In recent weeks, when my daughter started going #2 on the potty, she started shutting the door. I’m not sure where you stand on this issue, but for me, this is a recipe for disaster. The thought of leaving an unattended toddler in a room with access to running water, a step stool, a toilet, soft soap, hand lotion, and unlimited toilet paper petrifies me. Add to the combination, a tush that needs wiping – well, I’ll leave the potential hazards of this situation to your imagination.

While I support my daughter’s new-found independence, I’m still not ready to let her go solo just yet. You can appreciate my amusement the other day when she announced she had to “Go Poo!” I followed her to the bathroom.  She stopped in her tracks, turned to me, and said “No! Get out!” and shut the door.

Fri, July 25 2014 » Potty Training » No Comments

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