Two-Year-Olds and Passport Photos

A while ago we went to get our daughters’ passports. The long, harsh South Dakota winter had us fantasizing about a tropical vacation for next year so we thought we should get the passports done. Wrangling two little ones in the passport office while laying out all the proper documentation was a little daunting, but my husband and I got through it.

A few weeks later, my oldest daughter’s perfect passport arrived in the mail, featuring a Miss America-style smile and adorable hair. The next day, a letter from the United States Department of Homeland Security addressed to my two-year-old arrived. It informed her the photo taken of her by the passport office could not be accepted because her hair was in her eyes. Uf, really?

Rather than take her back in to have a professional photo done since that didn’t work well the first time, I decided to do it myself. My husband helped. We bribed her with candy. There were tears, threats, and groans of dismay. We nearly threw in the towel. Does a two-year-old really need to go to Cabo?

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about taking a toddler’s passport photo, and, trust me, I gave it my all. We sent in the photo and have yet to see if it has been accepted. Mind you, she had also fallen on the playground at daycare in the weeks prior to the photo, so has a lovely scrape under her eye for her passport photo. I couldn’t bear to just delete all the bloopers off my phone so here they are for you, dear reader.


My Apologies to Every Single Person in the West Side Starbucks Last Saturday

Sometimes I feel like I’m really rocking the motherhood thing. Then my toddler, dressed like a fluffy white snow owl, trips a lady carrying a laptop computer and a cup of coffee. Just like that, I’m one of those people. You know, the kind of people letting their kids run mad in a public place.

Last Saturday while my husband was working, I tried to take our four-year-old and 18-month-old trick-o-treating in downtown Rapid City. It was cold, windy, crowded, and not worth it for three or four Tootsie Rolls, so I decided to abort that mission and take the girls for hot chocolate and cookies. The nearest place with easy parking and a public restroom was Starbucks on the west side of town.

Halloween 2018 (4)

I got the girls settled at a table with the most adorable owl-shaped cookies and their Starbucks beverages of choice: Hot chocolate for the eldest, white milk for the youngest. Everything was going so great. I was sipping my vanilla latte and patting myself on the back for raising such little angels who can go out for an afternoon coffee break without losing their stuff.

Then my youngest got restless. She started to climb around on her seat, throw her cookie, and then run around the Starbucks seating area. The more I tried to rein her in, the wilder she became. My oldest picked that precise moment to spill her hot chocolate so as I scrambled to clean up that mess, I turned my head for just a moment. (Classic mom mistake). I heard a crash, then hysterical crying. My little one had run into a young woman carrying a laptop. The woman dropped her laptop and my daughter hit the floor, where she immediately started sobbing.

The young woman was incredibly gracious. Apologizing (it totally was not her fault) and trying to make sure my little one was OK (she was). Fortunately her laptop was, too, I think. I quickly gathered my crew and booked it to the car, apologizing desperately as I high-tailed it out of the building.

I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself for taking my young children to a place where others were trying to have a quiet afternoon, and, above all, I doubted my ability as a mom. In the days following, I realized that the only person judging me that day was me.

In most circumstances, this one included, we as mothers are our own toughest critics. Everyone in the coffee shop was kind. In fact, there were two other moms enjoying a coffee date with their school-age children who were behaving a little on the wild-side, too, and no one seemed to mind. It made me realize that these interactions are an important part of teaching our little ones social skills.

So I’ll probably still take my little ones out in public by myself sometimes. I’ll probably still tear my hair out occasionally when doing so. And I’ll probably be embarrassed again at least a time or two.

To the kind young woman my toddler tripped, thank you for being so gracious to this frazzled mom. I owe you a Starbucks. And maybe a new laptop.


21st Century Toddler Problems

Poor toddlers in the year 2016! They have it so rough. I think one of the bonuses of becoming a parent is that you get to tell the sad tales of how much harder being a kid was “back in your day.” Today I’m sharing a few of the woes of today’s toddlers. How can anyone be expected to deal with these issues?


Commercials during cartoons: While watching an episode of Paw Patrol the other day, my daughter panicked when a commercial came on. “Where’s Paw Patrol!” It was then I realized she is so used to our ability to DVR cartoons and forward past the commercials that watching something in real time was the ultimate let-down. I actually remember a time in my very young years that we didn’t even have a TV remote. That’s what my brother and I were for: Flipping through the four channels we had so Dad could decide what to watch.

Proper car seats: In the 1980s we just stood on the seat next to Dad as we cruised down the road. I also know a lot of 1980s kids who slept in the rear window of the car during long road trips. The car was a free-for-all, a jungle gym, if you will. No more. Today’s toddler must ride properly strapped into a seat until they’re nearly of legal driving age. I’m all for proper child safety seats and when I start to feel bad for these strapped-in 21st Century toddlers, I just remember that they also have portable DVD players, something us 1980s kids never even dreamed of.

Constantly mugging for photos: Smart Phones mean taking photos and videos of every cute thing our toddlers do is super convenient, but it also means we can take 48 pictures until we get just the perfect one. Gone are the days where moms would have to wait until they could take film to the store to be developed only to realize they didn’t capture one decent photo of the 1980s bowl-haircutted kid blowing out birthday candles. Poor 21st Century toddlers. They’re tired of the phone-wielding parent paparazzi.

Occasions when food must be consumed with a fork and spoon: Pretty much every food comes in a pouch these days. I have banned them from my own household after a few messy incidents, but I speculate that some 21st Century toddlers are annoyed when that night’s dinner requires actual dining utensils.

Risk-free playground equipment: I remember burning the backs of my legs on scalding hot metal slides, usually with sharp metal edges and rickety ladders. The playground equipment industry has come a long way in safety and durability. But where’s the fun without the risk of tetanus or a burned bum?

Maybe in 30 years my daughter will be writing a blog post (or whatever the newer, cooler way of posting stories on social media is) about parenting. All I can say it I hope she remembers being loved and having fun because that’s really all that matters.

Now please excuse me while I go tell my daughter how I used to walk five miles to school in blizzards, up hill both ways.


Toddlers in Church

My daughter was naughty in church yesterday. Like really naughty. She cried for no apparent reason. She yelled “no!” in the whiniest of tones when asked if she wanted her juice. She ran around the sanctuary like it was a track field.

As my husband and I tried to duck out following the service, hanging our heads in embarrassment, a very kind woman approached us and said: “Thank you. Thank you for bringing her to church.”

She went on to tell us that she loves seeing us in church with our daughter. She, a parent herself, knows it isn’t easy, especially at this age, but also knows how very important it is.


(So sweet and innocent, right?)

I have read blog posts about this topic before. Usually they offer encouragement to parents of young children, assuring us that people really don’t mind that much when our children act up.

However, this time it was my rambunctious toddler wreaking havoc on the congregation, my cheeks blushing with embarrassment, my brain wondering if it’s worth it to put ourselves and our fellow church-goers through the mayhem.

It was just the encouragement we needed and it came at the perfect time. It reminds me that by taking our daughter to church our goal is not only to teach her about God’s love, but to involve her in a supportive community, one that wants her there whether she is good or bad, rich or poor, happy or sad.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

In My House

Christmas Ideas for Toddler Girls

My 16-month-old daughter doesn’t read my blog. I guess she has better things to do.

That means I can share what I am giving her for Christmas with you, dear readers. Don’t tell her. I am always looking for gift ideas that will hopefully stand the test of time. And of course, comfy pajamas are a must for the holidays. Here is my list for my daughter this year. I should note that I don’t really follow age requirement labels on toys, but if a set contains small pieces, I’ll store them away for when she is older.


I wrote about this stove canvas box earlier this month. I ordered it to place under the tree Christmas morning from Santa (spoiler alert, I guess I’m actually Santa).

And inside it?

Melissa and Doug

This wooden cooking set. It is from Melissa & Doug, where for only $1.99 you can have items personalized. So I ordered this set with my daughter’s name printed on them.


Also inside the canvas box will be this food set. I am a big fan of the quality of Melissa & Doug products.


I found it incredibly difficult to find quality shoes for my daughter that would stand up to toddler activities and that she would actually leave on her feet. Remember this post?

These shoes from Carter’s have been fantastic. My sister-in-law and I both swear by them for our little ones.


I fell in love with these lobster pajamas available at the restaurant in Maine where my mom and I ate the most delicious lobster rolls. I wanted to buy them but the smallest size they had was 2T (way too large for my little peanut) so I passed. Two weeks later I am still obsessing over them but luckily they’re available online! She won’t grow into them for a while but I can live with that. I need them in our lives.


I’m passing on this last one for this year but I wanted to share it because it’s fantastic! Nordstrom has a special Cabbage Patch available this year that is just like the classic one I had as a child. it is part of their limited edition vintage toy line out for the holidays. I am a little offended that 1983 is considered “vintage” by the folks at Nordstrom, but if my daughter was a couple of years older I’d be jumping all over this.

What gift ideas do you have for babies, toddlers, and kids? You’re safe sharing them here. My blog isn’t popular among the newborn to three-year-old demographic.